The smell of nicotine strangely harmonizes with the smell of leather, gun powder and alcohol that is always around them. On their hands, dirtied by blood and mud, the smell of burnt tobacco ends up as a nuance drown in everything else, just there, present but not always standing out.
The first cigarette Sam smoked, he had stolen from an old man in a diner. Hidden from Dean and their father behind their motel of the week, after everyone was asleep, Sam takes his first drag, feeling the smoke burn his throat. He coughs nonstop for five minutes but feels in his blood the sweet buzz of nicotine and, with a smile, takes the cigarette back to his lips. Back in their room, Sam showers, freaked out by the possibility of anyone smelling it on him and safe under the fact that no one would suspect a sixteen year-old taking showers at two in the morning.
His first pack is Marlboro Lights. Reading and researching about it, the same way he would deal with anything, Sam comes to the conclusion that it was the best alternative, deciding not to be worth messing up his lungs for zero point two more milligrams of nicotine.
The first time Dean catches him smoking, about a year later, Sam is surprised by the disappointed look he casts his way. Sam is sure Dean already knew about the smokes: Sam didn't really hide his packs or lighters and after a while he'd given up on trying to mask the smell on his clothes, skin and hair. As if apologizing, Sam tells Dean they help him focus, and it's only half a lie. The smoke makes him immune to the smell of blood under his fingernails, the endless nights roaming from town to town. With the life they lead, his last concern is lung cancer, anyway. Dean doesn't answer. He just leaves Sam alone outside the motel. Sam finishes up his cigarette before going back inside. He doesn't try to wash off the smell and they don't talk about it.
The first time they kiss, Sam's mouth has the bitter taste of nicotine and too much beer and he doesn't have time to regret not having brushed his teeth. Who would think about brushing their teeth when facing the decision of kissing or not their brother before leaving him?
Sam is going to college. Leaving. Their father and, therefore, Dean. But he wouldn't be able to leave without this. At least once, he tells himself. He had no idea if he would ever get another chance so, grabbing Dean's face with both hands, his backpack fully loaded forgotten at his feet, he holds on to what he can, with all he has. It's not a gentle or quick kiss. It's not even passionate. It's pain and despair, and Dean kisses him back just as hard, holding onto Sam's shoulders so tightly even days later, far away – too far, Sam knows, to go back – Sam still feels the marks, his lips tingling as if they had been burned by his brother's mouth.
Ages could have flown by during the time they remained in each other's arms on the bus stop in the middle of a dark road, indifferent to the guarded glances the few people around sent their way. What scandalizes them are two grown man touching each other romantically and Sam wonders, some time later, how they'd react if they knew the whole story. Everything that exists in that one moment, however, is the touch of Dean's lips, his hot tongue mapping Sam's mouth with a fury only similar to Sam's own, until the bus arrives and Sam has to go.
They keep kissing each other lightly, unable to share one last kiss, while Sam walks backwards inside the bus, until the doors close. Through the door window, Dean stares at him as if he was just seeing him for the first time, his red lips opened in surprise, his eyes bright and shiny. Sam takes a seat and looks back at Dean until the bus turns into a corner.
During his first week in Stanford, Sam smokes pack after pack, and it's never enough. Nothing helps. Sam doesn't hear from Dean, and neither does Dean hear from Sam. What would he say, anyway?
Hey, remember that kiss? Best thing to ever happen to me... and I can't stop thinking about you. Never could, and, now you're not here, it's so much worse... no, it doesn't look like a conversation either of them would want to have.
Even before they started dating, Jess told him she didn't like cigarettes and Sam avoids smoking around her. The first time they meet Sam has a cigarette in one hand and a coffee in the other, his backpack filled with law books and a paper he needs to finish, and she looks at him with disapproval.
Jess is always going on and on about how awful they smell, it's dirty, disgusting, about health and well-being and Sam listens to her, and it's really more for his than her benefit, actually. It's good for him. Having someone to listen to, instructions to follow. He tries to smoke only when he has papers to turn in or has to study a little harder, and never around her. When they move in together, he gives up smoking as if he's quitting a life he thought he had already left behind.
The first time Dean shows up after that, John's missing and they go out for drinks. Chaos practically crawls back under Sam's skin, desire and uncertainty, and it's like his feelings had never really left him. Repressed and refused, they were right there, lurking under the surface, waiting for the right time for a revolution.
They don't talk about the smoking or the kiss, and Sam presents his hesitation in going back to that life, but Dean gets him into it, as always. Sam goes back home smelling of tobacco and booze and just packs up a few essentials. Jess doesn't have time to say anything and even if she had, she probably wouldn't have said much. Sam's gaze, the smell of him and the cigarette pack inside his coat pocket tell her everything she needs to know.
After, when Dean finds him in shock after Jess burns on the ceiling, there's nothing they have to say. Sitting beside Dean on the trunk of the Impala, Sam lights a cigarette, taking a long drag. Dean only watches him for a second, taking the whole image of him in: something coming back against a world that is leaving. It's at once the best and the worst thing he's even seen, he thinks, reaching out and grabbing the cigarette from Sam's loose fingers.
Sam almost protests, thinks for a second that Dean's about to go all 'let's get Sammy to quit smoking', but Dean only takes the cigarette to his own lips.
Sam stares at his brother with his mouth open. Dean just holds the cigarette between his lips and lets the smoke out, pulling it back again though his nose in a clearly practiced move. It wasn't Dean's first time smoking, Sam realizes, then.
“Since when do you smoke?” he can't help but ask.
Dean looks at him with the most exposed and vulnerable expression Sam's ever seen and says:
“Since you left...”
It's too much information, too fast. Sam reaches inside his pocket for another cigarette and lights it, trying to avoid having to say something. He smokes even though he doesn't really feel like it now. Dean lowers his eyes, taking long drags and silently letting the smoke out for a while. By the time they're done, Sam reaches for his pack again, taking one cigarette and offering it to Dean.
“It's just... the way I found to, I don't know... keep you close...” Dean elaborates and Sam lets out an unexpected laugh through his nose and chokes on smoke. Dean kept him close messing up his lungs. Ironically, Sam thinks it makes perfect sense.
“I had given up smoking...” Sam confesses, leaning on the cold metal of the car with his free hand and looking sideways at Dean. The early night wind shook the grass around them. They were parked in the middle of nowhere: another dark, almost abandoned road, anonymous in the landscape of their memories.
Dean thinks of Jess for a second. He thinks about the life Sam was building for himself.
“Yeah... I'd have given up too.”
They share a look filled with meaning and Dean's hand covers Sam's on the car.
“Dean...” Sam starts.
Ignoring the warning in Sam's voice, Dean's fingers tighten around Sam's.
There's something electric in the air around them when Sam throws his half burnt cigarette on the ground and moves, sliding easily between Dean's legs, trapping his older brother against the car. Dean doesn't seem surprised. Only satisfied. Relieved as if that was the only thing he needed and he finally had gotten it.
If someone asked, neither of them would be able to tell how long they remained there, bodies intertwined, searching and giving comfort.
Dean's lips seek Sam's as though it was familiar, tracing their shape with a hot tongue and nipping at him as if he was tasting the sweetest fruit. Even with the dark road that was in front of them, Sam allows himself to feel brave, comforted by the careful and reverent way Dean touches him.
A completely different kind of buzz, independent from the nicotine in his veins, spreads through Sam's body coming from the spot there his lips and Dean's touch. Inside his chest a certainty takes place: a certainty that, whatever comes their way, they'll make it. With Dean's hand tightly held in his own, Sam takes a deep breath, ready to move on, not exactly for being ready and free from his recent trauma, but because he has to be. Ready. He'd been getting ready for this his whole life.
Dean's hand slide with the weight of the whole worlds on Sam's skin, and Sam can only close his eyes and allow it. The way Dean looks at him, his eyes overflowing adoration and love, makes Sam weak on his knees, and he lets himself fall forward into Dean's body, who just supports him, his lips never leaving Sam's.
The truth is Sam's never allowed himself to really think about it, so there weren't really any expectations, however, the care with which Dean touches him takes him by surprise. There was very little of careful in Dean when it came to almost everything. Except for Sam. Sam had always been the sole target of this careful and gentle side of Dean, hidden so deeply one might never see it, no matter how much they looked.
A car passes suddenly on the road, several miles over the speed limit, the hum of the engine echoing for a long time, but everything Sam hears is their breathless gasps, the painful moans of who has too much urgency and too many possibilities. Dean just pulls Sam closer, impossibly closer, and Sam feels Dean's erection press against his own. A rogue wave of desire clashes onto him.
It shouldn't be a shock. They're grown men, and this kind of thing was supposed to happen if they intended to get where they seemed to be going with wetter and longer kisses, their tongues tangled together.
“Come here...” Dean breathes against Sam's lips, half asking, half demanding, moving away just enough to lie back on top of the car. Sam can't think past the roar of the blood rushing in his ears and just goes, fitting one strong thigh between Dean's legs and leaning on top of him, allowing the weight of his body to do the rest. At the first roll of Sam's hips against his, his brother lets out a surprised moan, impossibly loud in the desert around them.
“Dean...” Sam whispers, begging he doesn't know what for. Unable to stop and think, Sam just pushes a hand down between them, pushing against the volume in Dean's pants, desperate to get their zippers open and do something: anything, at this point.
“Sam, Sam...” Dean moans back, his hands roaming under Sam's shirts, caressing the warm skin of his back, his voice getting louder as he feels Sam's muscles flex and relax with every shift of his narrow hips against Dean's.
Too much time seems to pass until Sam's able to push their jeans and boxers down enough to hold their hot lengths in a warm and sure grip. Between his fingers, everything is unimaginably hot and wet, pulsing with desire. A litany of curses and bitten off words sound between their lips as Sam pushes and twists his wrist, jerking them both in a constant rhythm.
“If you don't... stop...” Sam smashes his face against Dean's neck, kissing and licking his skin, feeling Dean's stubble on his tongue, the taste of his sweat so sweet... Dean whispers: “I'm gonna...”
“Me too... Dean... god...” Sam tightens his fingers around them, his entire body going rigid. Dean shakes in his arms, and his voice... god, all this years trying not to think about it and being tormented by how much he missed Dean, Sam never though Dean's voice could sound so sexy. Sam was teetering on the brink of orgasm just from listening to the noises Dean is making and, feeling his brother hold him so tightly, throwing his head back, giving into his body's will, Sam comes, the hot liquid easing the slide of his hand, his lips seeking Dean's, muting the sounds he couldn't avoid making. Dean follows him seconds after, his eyes on Sam's, his lips open in a silent scream that never meets the air of the night.
Sam let's himself fall against Dean, breathless.
“I love you...” he mumbles like a confession against Dean's shoulder, falling to the side and trying weakly to fix their clothes.
“I know...” Dean answers, and Sam can't help but smile. “Me too, Sammy...” Dean says, tightening one arm around Sam briefly. Sam looks at him and Dean says, more seriously, watching Sam carefully but with no hesitation: “I love you, man... love you too damn much, you know...”
Reaching and squeezing Dean's hand, Sam says with more certainty than he thought it was possible to have:
“We're gonna be okay...”
Dean eyes him curiously.
“Together.” Sam clarifies.
Dean nods and leans closer to Sam, pulling Sam's coat. Sam thinks for a second that Dean's gonna kiss him again, but Dean only takes his cigarette pack and lights one up. Sam does the same, but his lighter slips between his fingers and tumbles to the floor. Before he can get up and look for it, though, Dean leans towards him with his lit cigarette between his lips. Sam mirrors him, his eyes focused on the point where Dean's lit cigarette lights his own. A metaphor for something a lot more powerful, he imagines.
Sitting up, Dean takes a long drag and then goes to walks back to the driver's side of the car, opening the door. Sam does the same without even thinking, looking at his brother over the car's roof.
“Where to, now, Dean?”
It's the same question he would as Dean any day, years ago. Like a puzzle coming together, Dean answers seriously:
They get inside together, windows rolled down, and Dean starts the car, his right hand resting on the steering wheel with the lit cigarette between his fingers.
“With you, I'd go anywhere...”
Sam throws his half burnt cigarette out the window and lightly touches the back of Dean's hand as his brother reaches for the gear stick. 'Anywhere' sounds like a pretty great place, if you ask him.