"Holy shit," Kevin breathed, eyes wide and shocky, blood splattered across his face, hands white knuckled on the machete. The now headless body of the vamp wavered in front of him for a second, then slumped to its knees, then toppled over onto Kevin's shoes. Kevin didn't yelp this time, like he had the last time monster guts got all over his shoes; just stepped hastily backwards, machete still brandished in the air. He'd been through a lot since Sam and Meg had gotten him out of Crowley's clutches, learned fast; but he was still somewhat green to all this.
"Holy shit," he said again. He blinked two, three times, then seemed to come out of his stupor and glanced over at Sam, whose hands hadn't seemed to realise Kevin was out of danger and were still braced against the handle of his own machete.
He forced his fingers to relax. "Told you you had it," he said, and Kevin grinned, sudden and bright.
"Okay, that is totally paragraph twelve in the admission essay. 'Beheading a vampire'."
"A metaphor for tackling the dangerous tropes found in modern YA literature," finished Sam with a grin. "Isn't it paragraph thirteen? I thought eleven and twelve covered the ghost in Pennsylvania. 'Burning the bones'."
"How to approach the future without clinging to the past," agreed Kevin, with a grin, his hands relaxing and his machete lowering as the last of the vamp's blood leaked sluggishly into the earth around him. "I'm going to have Princeton sewn up."
Sam laughed, glad to see that this time, the last trace of wistfulness had gone from Kevin's voice when he talked about Princeton, and Kevin glanced up at him, eyes bright, the blood red and shocking and familiar across his face.
The glance made Sam feel - a whole bunch of awkward things, and for now, the easiest to grab onto was guilt. Because here he was laughing with this kid like anything was normal or enjoyable, and Dean was - Dean was--
He stowed his machete in his belt and turned away, and Kevin followed him quietly, sensing Sam's mood, wiping the blood off his face with his sleeve.
At the motel, Kevin was both a comfort - his presence soothing, the noise of him moving around, taking off his shoes, eating takeout - and jarringly wrong. He was too small, too young, too different to the solidly-there presence of Dean that his body still half expected to see whenever he looked over. But that wasn't Kevin's fault. Kevin was the thing stopping Sam going completely off the rails. If he'd had someone like Kevin to be there for last time - he shook his head.
"Sam?" said Kevin, carefully, perching on the side of his bed, bare feet on the carpet between their beds, where Sam was hunched moodily against the headboard.
Sam looked over.
"We've got a good lead tomorrow. We'll get him out. If anyone can, you will. And I'll - help any way I can. I owe you, and I wanna help. You've done so much for me."
Kevin's face was kind, and Sam could feel the crush the boy had on him like the warm heat of the sun, making him feel warm and awkward and embarrassed and flattered and violently protective of this kid and his still-soft heart.
Sam breathed in deep, rubbed at his chest. "I - yeah. Thanks. I just miss him, you know?"
Dean would give him such shit about Kevin's crush. He'd grin and tease and also warn Sam, and Sam didn't know what to do without him here, but he knew he didn't want Kevin to go anywhere. Or get hurt.
Kevin sighed and stood up, kneed up on to Sam's bed, tugged Sam's reluctant stiff arms away from his chest to pull him into a lopsided hug. "Shut up and take it," said Kevin mock-sternly, and Sam huffed a laugh, let his arms and legs fall lax, then brought one arm up to give Kevin a half hug back. Kevin was so free in his affection and touches, and maybe that was the crush but part of it was Kevin. Kevin forced touch on him sometimes, and it was a comfort to the both of them that Sam had never really understood before; it made him feel like things were aligning and healing inside of him just from the simple presence of someone warm and caring next to him, nothing more expected or promised.
Kevin shifted against him, his hair smelling clean and brushing soft against the side of Sam's face. Sam could read the intent in his movements, but didn't move, let Kevin bring his face around until their noses touched; then Kevin kissed him, light as a whisper, just a soft, warm touch of lips. At first it felt just like the hug, an extension of simple affectionate touch, until he felt the hitch in Kevin's breath, felt the hammering of his heart where Sam's arm was pressed against his chest.
Sam pulled away slowly. They looked at each other for a moment; then red rushed into Kevin's cheeks and he looked down, the beginnings of mortification on his face.
"Hey," said Sam quickly and quietly, touching Kevin's cheek with one hand. "It's okay. I mean, we can't, you know we can't. I can't. But it's okay, I promise."
Kevin nodded. "No, I know. Sorry. Don't - don't hate me."
Sam laughed. "Are you kidding me? It would take a lot more than that for me to hate you. Don't be sorry. C'mere." Sam pulled Kevin in so they were slumped together more comfortably side by side on the bed, Sam's arm around Kevin's shoulders. Kevin was slight but compactly powerful, tucked under his shoulder, smart and strong and quick and brave and not something Sam wanted or could have, not like that, or not yet; a million things wrong with it right now, but what they were for now - where they were - was still something precious and safe and maybe it was okay to feel good about it. It was okay. They had a good lead. Tomorrow.