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Dean hits the ground hard, flat on her back, and all the air slams out of her lungs. Freezing rain is falling in her face, but she can still make out the huge glowing eyes staring down at her. The Black Dog stands over her, a low growl in its throat; Dean can feel the rumble of it in her chest. The Dog's moving like it's in slow motion, toying with her maybe, because it knows it has her. She's out of moves. She turns her face away from its hot fetid breath curling white in the night air, not wanting to see the snarl of its lip or the yellow of its fangs. She tries desperately to ignore the tremor of cold fear snaking its way down her spine.

She's fucked. She's absolutely fucked and she knows it: out of ammo and her knife already stuck in the thing's rear flank, not making a damn bit of difference to the Dog except now Dean's only weapon is out of her reach. She's got no leverage, and the Dog is maybe seconds away from ripping her throat out. She doesn't know what the hell it's waiting for. Maybe it's savouring the moment. Maybe the damn thing is gloating. Dean wishes it would just hurry the fuck up and end it already. It's okay. She's been expecting for this for years. There's only one thing she's really going to miss.

She blinks the rain out of her eyes and stares up at the Dog, waiting for the pain. It never comes. Instead the Dog disappears with a yelp and a thud and a sudden scuffle of limbs. It's just gone, and Dean can breathe again, gulping in air and rainwater. It takes her a second to register that the loud bang she just heard was a gunshot.

She's on her feet in an instant, ignoring the way her legs don't want to hold her up and her lungs won't take in enough oxygen. She can panic later. There's movement near the edge of the woods, the Black Dog nothing more than a tangle of black on black, disappearing into the trees, or into the ground, or the shadows, wherever the hell it is these things go when they dematerialise. She catches the shotgun Sam tosses her way without looking at her, his handgun not even wavering, and the two of them stand at the edge of the woods, watching and waiting, rain coming down so hard it's like hissing grey fog all around them, icy needles against their skin.

Fuck it, Dean thinks, her finger slippery on the trigger. Fuck this shit. She's going to chase after it, not prepared to just back down, already striding towards the dark woods, but there's a rough hand on her arm. She spins around and her gun comes up, trigger finger straight along the bottom of the receiver because she knows it's Sam -- there's no one else around -- and she doesn't particularly want to blow his face off, but she's pissy, frustrated, and it's habit. She's always ready for attack. It's so hard to switch it off sometimes, and right now she's really, really in the mood for a fight.

"Yeah, you're welcome." Sam's voice is raised against the constant assault of the rain. He sounds strained, stretched thin. Dean hates the way he can stand there like a drowned rat in the rain -- his hair plastered to his scalp, all shoulders and elbows like he still isn't done growing into his body -- and manage to make her feel guilty with a few words. He pushes the barrel of her shotgun away with two fingers. "We're not following it in there, Dean. No way."

He looks at her, wide eyes and unhappy mouth, probably trying to stare her down, like that ever works. She wants to shout it out, tell him not to be such a pussy, but his face is twisted and miserable, his eyelashes clumped together with water, rain dripping off the point of his chin. Dean scowls and pulls out of his grasp, but she sets off for the Impala, leading the way like it was her idea all along, her spine straight, dying panic still fluttering in her throat.

Neither of them are dressed for this, denim and leather and cotton, Sam's sneakers sodden, both of them with mud splattered up to their knees and hanging heavy around the cuffs of their jeans. Sam hadn't wanted to come here, but Dean had decided there was a Black Dog in this shitburg of a town and had wanted to get in a little target practice. It had seemed like such a good idea this afternoon, skimming the crappy local paper in the warmth of the diner on what passed for the main street, a coffee in her hand and a pen between her teeth. An easy hunt. Just check out any pathways that might be considered ancient in these parts, wander a couple of lonely roads, find the Black Dog, and pump it full of iron.

"Couple of hours, tops," Dean remembers grinning across the table at Sam, her knee nudging his under the table like a dare. "We'll be back on the road come morning."

Sam had just curled his lip and gone back to picking at his greasy home fries, but he hadn't argued. These days, he rarely does.

He's tired, she gets that, but it doesn't stop her from pushing him. It's not running, what they're doing, because they have nothing to run from and nowhere to be. Dean likes the forward momentum. It's what she knows. Infinite distraction, and so far it's worked because the rule is: the hunt comes first. It always has.

Dean's been keeping them busy for months now, one hunt after another after another, even after Sam had wanted to stop for a while. He watches her sometimes, quiet, silently judging, like he knows exactly what it is she's doing. And that's a good trick, because Dean's not even sure she knows, no matter what front she puts up. Although sometimes she wonders if maybe she's going about it backwards by keeping them strung out like this, always tired, always on edge. If they had some downtime maybe things might calm. A little time apart even. It wouldn't take much: a day here, an evening there, a little reminder that the outside world still exists. But Dean can't let go and Sam isn't making any moves to put distance between them either. Instead they keep working. They get the job done and move on, but they do it together, always together.

So if anything, this thing between them, it's getting worse.

She's a few feet away from the Impala when she realises the keys aren't in her pocket. She spins around, glaring in horror at the large patch of woods and rough ground they've been zig-zagging back and forth over for the past half hour. All the times she tripped... All the times she hit the ground... All the grass and wet leaves and mud...

"Son of a bitch!" she yells, kicking viciously at the tyre of the Impala. It makes Sam raise his eyebrows because Dean never takes it out on the car. Not ever. "I lost the fucking keys! Christ! What are we supposed to do now?"

Their tools are in the trunk. Dean's little lock-picking kit is in the glove box. Neither of them is carrying anything that could be rigged into any kind of handy carjacking tool.

Dean lets out a cry of frustration, and she has the shotgun raised before she realises what she's doing, ready to smash in the passenger window with the butt of the gun.

Sam stops her, wraps an arm around her and pulls her in, tucking her head under his chin, and it surprises her. She thinks about pulling away, but it feels good, her body soaking up the embrace like a sponge. She doesn't let herself sag into him, though it would be so easy. She just stands there and lets him hold her.

"Come on," he says. He slides a hand from her shoulder down to her wrist and pulls her through the rain.

They start off walking, but it's cold, it's really fucking freezing, and now the fight is done it's starting to seep into her bones. Before she knows it, they're running. It feels like she's a girl for once, not Dean the Hunter, not Sam's bossy take-charge big sister, just a girl in the rain, trusting in Sam to find them shelter.

The property slump has hit this town hard. There are plenty of empty houses around if you know what to look for, and Sam does. They dash across an empty backyard that fades away into the trees, splashing through puddles, and end up at a kitchen door with a broken screen hanging from its hinges. Sam hesitates, because they still have nothing to pick a lock with, so Dean just kicks the door open. One well-place boot does the job, better and more effective than a bruised shoulder any day.

It's not much warmer inside, but it's blessedly dry. Sam kicks the door shut behind them and takes the shotgun out of Dean's stiff hands. It's dark inside and nothing happens when they try the light-switch. Sam flicks open his lighter and looks around. He sets his gun on a chair and leans the shotgun against the wall. There's a fireplace with a stack of yellowed newspapers beside it. Sam spends a few minutes twisting them into makeshift logs and getting enough burning to at least give them some light. He disappears into the next room and comes back with two wooden kitchen chairs, one with the seat already busted in. It doesn't take much to dismantle them and feed the pieces into the flames.

Dean does nothing to help. She just stands there and watches him, watches his hands, the strands of hair stuck to his forehead, the growing flames reflected in his eyes.

When he's happy with the fire, Sam stands up. He takes off his jacket and his soaked hoodie, then reaches for her, his hands trembling with cold, and blots rainwater from her face with the tail of his shirt.

Dean realises she's shivering. She turns into the curve of Sam's body, looking for heat and not helping Sam at all with peeling the sodden jacket off her shoulders. The warmth from the fire on her legs feels like heaven. Sam's breath is warm and patchy on her throat, his cheekbone bumping her temple. Sam drops the heavy denim to the ground and wraps his arms around her again, brushing at her arms and back, rough enough to burn against her freezing skin. It hurts, but it's heat, wonderful warmth seeping through, so she stands like a child, her head lowered, and just lets him do it.

"Hold up," he says, and steps away. Dean sways, the cold closing in. Sam gathers up their discarded clothes and hangs them over the back of an old sagging armchair, Dean's jacket on the back of the door. He peels off his shirts and lifts her sweater over her head, leaving her shivering in her damp, strappy little vest and her wet jeans.

Her teeth are chattering now, her body hunched in on itself, making her small. What she wants most in the world is to get her evil, evil jeans off, but the thought of moving or trying to make her hands work is too horrible.

"You're okay?" he asks, turning her this way and that, checking her for injury by the light of the fire.

"Fine," she says. "Bruised, I guess."

Sam nods, his expression closed off. He grabs a dust sheet from an ancient couch against the far wall. He shakes it out and wraps it around her, rubbing his palms over her shoulders and her back and down her arms. He grabs another dust sheet from a table and wraps that around her too. He holds each of her hands between his, but his hands are just as cold as hers and it isn't making a whole lot of difference. Her fingers are frozen to the bone, and it takes her forever to unbutton her jeans and peel them down and off until she can kick them away. She looks up in time to catch Sam looking at her, his gaze skittering away the second the second their eyes meet.

Sam gets his hands under the end of the couch and drags it closer to the fireplace. It smells kind of funky, like musty lavender and old people, but it's huge and dry and soft and it dips in the middle, rolling the two of them together when they lie down. The sheet slips off her shoulder, but Sam doesn't stop stroking her, her skin cold and covered in gooseflesh under his touch. She shudders as he rearranges the sheets so they're better tucked in and his cold fingers brush the bare skin of her hip.

"We'll be okay, Dean," he says, and she realises he's been talking to her the entire time, those little nonsensical things that people always say when it doesn't matter what the words are, just that they're being said. "It's no big deal. Just been on the road too long. That's all. We can take a break after this. A little time off. That's all we need."

"Shut up, Sammy," she mutters. She lifts the tangled sheets and wraps him up in them too; touches the heel of her hand under his chin. Sam goes very still when she lifts her head, her words trailing along his jaw. "Can't you ever just shut the fuck up?"

Sam sighs. He turns his head and kisses her.

The kiss itself isn't a surprise. Dean's prone to laying kisses on Sam: wet drunken smackers that make him push her away and rub at his skin like he's disgusted, only to drag her back in for a hug, one arm looped around her neck like he's about to give her a noogie but he'll kiss her cheek or the corner of her mouth instead; or dry little presses of lips to his temple when she knows he's feeling down and she can't tease him out of it, when she hasn't got the words to make him better.

This isn't like any of those kisses.

Sam's mouth opens on her lower lip, like he's misjudged it maybe, but he doesn't pull back, doesn't stutter out an apology, doesn't make it less than what it is. Dean breathes, slow and steady, controlling herself as best she can, because this isn't how they kiss. Sam doesn't push, but the damp heat of his mouth is startling; the tip of his tongue is shocking on her lip. She keeps her eyes wide open, watching him.

That's how it starts.

When she moves against him, opening up to him, it makes it into something more, no longer one-sided, no longer a mistake in the dark. Sam makes this sound. It's quiet, mostly breath, but Dean feels it way down deep in her belly.

They stay that way for a long time, eyes drifting closed, kissing slowly, like a quiet conversation, erasing and redrawing boundaries, sharing secrets it feels like they both already knew. When Dean finally stops shivering, things get a little deeper, a little more desperate.

Things start getting out of control.

It's Sam who rolls them on the couch so he's a solid weight above her, Sam who pulls one of her legs up around his hip, and that isn't at all how Dean thought this would go, if she'd ever let herself give any thought at all as to how this would actually go down. She's hyper-aware of her skin and all the places they're touching, the warmth of his chest and belly through the thin material of their damp clothes, the smell of him, the sharp edge of his teeth, the occasional cold of a strand of his wet hair. She holds him close with her whole body, riding the hard muscle of his thigh, her hands lost in his hair holding him close for kisses that have become greedy and damning.

Dean isn't like this. She isn't. She's all about the show: bedroom eyes, lewd jokes and gone before morning, and she never, never makes things this serious, but fuck it all to hell and back, this is Sam. This is already some serious shit. She should stop it. She's the big sister, after all. This is not something they were ever supposed to do. Instead she holds him close and kisses him harder. She feels like crying, sobbing into his open mouth. She loves him so much, more than anything, and this should feel repulsive, should feel like the most wicked, awful, twisted up thing she's ever done, but it feels like floodgates opening, feels like something she's been waiting for without even knowing it. It feels glorious.

It's Sam who pulls away and Dean suffers a horrible moment of loss and grief and oh god what now, but Sam nudges her head to the side and bites at her collarbone, breathing hot against her skin. He kisses along the stretched out neck of her top, pulled low enough that his chin grazes her nipple and makes her ache.

Sam runs his palms down her thighs and her muscles tremble as she hesitates, but then her knees part for him. She sucks in a breath, her eyes darting over the shadows on the ceiling as Sam hooks her panties to the side. She's soaking for him, swollen and aching, and when he runs his thumb over her, her hips buck up off the mattress. He spreads his hands on her hips, smoothing and reassuring. He licks little kisses low on her stomach, distracting her from the fact that he's peeling her panties down over her hips, teasing them down her legs and off, until she's naked for him, open and restless and ashamed under his hungry gaze.

Dean looks down her body to see Sam looking up at her with dark eyes, waiting for a signal maybe, something to say that this is okay. That this is a line they're going to cross. Dean is already damned and she knows it. She darts her tongue over her lips, and she gives him a tiny little nod.

At the first touch of his tongue she whimpers, then bites fast on her lip, cursing the sound, trying to focus on the sharp pain rather than the hot slide of Sam's tongue. She throws an arm over her face because this isn't happening, it's madness, it's secrets and lies stripped bare and exposed. The sharp burst of her orgasm takes her by surprise. She bites on her fingers to stop from crying out, but it doesn't stop a drawn out mewl of pleasure that has Sam shifting his hips against the mattress. Sam licks her through it until even that soft touch is too much. Her foot shoots out and kicks him hard in the thigh, but he doesn't complain. He just touches her knee, turns his face and kisses the inside of her thigh, wipes his mouth against her skin.

He stays low as he shuffles up onto his knees. He keeps his hand on her, his thumb brushing over her clit almost absently, like an afterthought, and she twists her body up against him, a little panicked, needing the contact, wanting more, feeling empty.

She draws her legs up around him as he leans forward to kiss her, and it's only then she feels him, big and hard through the thin cotton of his shorts. He kisses her softer than she was expecting, wide mouth and the sharp edge of his teeth, a huff of air from his nose hitting her on the cheek, his arms shaking as he holds himself up. She can taste herself in his mouth. There's heat pouring off his skin, and his back is sweaty under his t-shirt. Sam never does stay cold for long. The sticky inside of her thighs nudges up around the bare skin on the muscle of his waist and he's so close to her she wants to die. A nudge forward is all it would take.

"Oh god, oh god, oh fuck," Dean breathes, her chest heaving, her hips shifting towards him and away again, like she needs it, like she can't make up her mind. And how come she has to be the one to break the silence? "Sammy. We can't. We... Fuck. We need..."

He's moving, reaching for his discarded jeans, keeping his face buried in her throat, licking and biting at her skin, murmuring words she can only half make out, but the rumble of his voice keeps her grounded, stops her from freaking out all the way, because this isn't right, they shouldn't be doing this, but it's Sam. He's good and strong and he's her baby brother. He's her responsibility. He's a man and he smells really good and he kisses her like she's precious, like the world's ending, and she wants him so much. She hates herself because she always wants all the things she knows are going to damn her to hell and back. She should be strong enough to stop from damning Sam right along with her, but she wants to keep him at her side, no matter what. She always has.

He's keeping in close, like if he pulled away even for a second, they'd have to rethink this, one of them would have to say stop. She hears the familiar flap of his wallet and the crinkle of plastic, and she knows that sound. Then he's fumbling between his legs, pulling his shorts down, smoothing his fist over his cock. Her body reacts, sending a ripple of pleasure-pain between her legs and she has to turn her face into the cushions because she knows exactly what he's doing. She knows what this means.

He touches the tip of his cock to her pussy and Dean jumps like he's scalded her.

Sam keeps kissing her, trying to distract her maybe, but he doesn't back off. He nudges up against her, presses in slow and easy, his hand sliding down to under her hips, moving her where he wants her.

She hates him right now, loves him, because he was never supposed to want this too. She's always known she was kind of slutty, never staying in one place long enough for relationships, measuring boyfriends, and the occasional girlfriend, by hours and days and weeks instead of months and years, going for random hook-ups just to take the edge off, because she could, because it was easy, because she enjoyed the power she had over men just by batting her eyelashes at them.

But Sam knows her inside and out, better than she thought if he was able to figure out this last great secret. He knows her too well, when she sometimes feels like he keeps everything he is buried inside. Hell, she's not even sure that Sam's fucked anyone since Jessica.

One long, slick press, her knees drawn up to nearly under his arms, her legs framing his chest, and Sam stills, trembling against her.

"Dean?"

He sounds so young, suddenly, so unsure. So she meets him halfway and kisses him, her fingers in his hair, pressing tight against his skull. She digs her heels into his ass and rocks them together. This time it's Sam who whimpers. She spreads her thighs further, wraps her legs around his waist and shifts their position a little so he's even deeper inside her.

They stay like that, nothing fancy, none of Dean's usual moves. She wants to keep him right where he is, slow thrusts and sweet messy kisses. He comes first, his face screwed up, his hands gripping tightly, his whole body taut and shaking. When he comes back to himself he kisses her again, still greedy, slipping his fingers back inside her, his knuckle sliding up and down her clit, slower now, trying to be careful with her because she's so sensitive now, but Dean rocks up into his hand. She loops an arm around his neck and pulls him into a kiss that's barely a press of lips, kissing taking up too much concentration when all she can deal with is the feeling of his fingers inside her, making her dizzy, making her crazy, making her come with a broken little sob into his mouth.

He stares at her for a long time in the dark, and Dean's expecting guilt or recrimination -- all the things she's feeling inside. Instead there's only Sam watching her with fathomless eyes. He ties off the condom and tosses it to the floor, then gathers her in so that she's close enough for him to kiss without either of them having to move, sharing air, his hand on her hip, their legs tangled together, mostly warm now under the dust sheets. Dean's toes are still cold, so she presses them against his skin. Sam grunts but lets her do it.

She feels so small beside him, empty and light, like her body's filled with nothing but air.

She promises herself they'll get up, that they won't fall asleep here, nearly naked in each other's arms, that this is going to be just another bad memory they never talk about, but Sam's breathing is already deepening and evening out, and she's warm beside him. She's drifting off before she knows it, wrapped up in Sam, lulled by the steady drumming of the rain falling on the roof. She gets pulled down and down into sleep, Sam at her side, and when she slips under, she doesn't dream.