Dean would have thought that his capacity to be disgruntled by the quality of diner breakfasts had dissipated long ago. He remembers a time when eating out while on the road was the highlight of his day, Sam tucked into the booth across from him as he begged his father please, please, please could he have a chocolate milkshake to go with the chocolate chip pancakes, he promised to keep quiet for the entire rest of the car ride and not complain about having to sit in the back with Sammy's car seat, swear!
After a decade or two diners lose their charm.
However, that is no excuse for the abomination on his plate right now.
"Dude," Sam sniffs, "Stop poking at it and eat. We've gotta talk to the cops in, like, a half hour."
Which is easy for him to say. His honey mustard chicken looks edible.
Dean prods at what should have been an bacon and cheese omelet but looks more like the swamp monster he and Sam torched a month or so back and feels an overwhelming swell of nostalgia as a waitress whisks past with a plate full of the best looking chocolate chip pancakes Dean's ever seen.
"Dean," Sam intones again and Dean glances up to see Sam leveling a dead look at him. "Six dead bodies. Meeting with the police. Eat. I don't care about the chocolate chip pancakes."
Dean huffs out an irritated breath and grumbles something about how the pancakes don't care about Sam either into the rim of his coffee cup. He scarfs down the omelet, quickly so he doesn’t have to taste the burnt brown or have the time to figure out what the orangish lumps are, and watches Sam.
Because that’s what Dean does. He watches Sam. Even when the conversation’s dead and Sam’s not paying attention, Dean’s got a decent fraction of his attention always designated in a general ‘Sam’ direction. It was hardest when Sam was at Stanford, but if Sam thinks that Dean didn’t have people in Palo Alto he’s stupid.
It’s not that Dean can’t exist without looking at Sam, or that it hurts to look away -that’s only during the bad times- just, he likes to. There’s something comforting in the familiar way Sam ducks his head up underneath his fork and chases the dripping honey mustard back up to the fork, licking his lips until they’re shiny and pink again.
“Any time you’re ready there, Sam,” he smirks, flipping the tables on who’s rushing who now that his plate’s scrubbed clean of the ick and Sam’s working down on the last leg of his.
“Y’know,” Sam snips irritably and cuts up his chicken into smaller pieces. “If you wanted to do something useful instead of just sitting there and being annoying you could always, I don’t know, check out the case again.”
“What’s to check out?” Dean shrugs and stabs a piece of chicken off of Sam’s plate. “People keep turning up sans livers all across California and you don’t know what’s doing it.”
Sam slings another dirty look at him. “You’re an ass, you know that?”
“It’s part of my charm,” Dean shrugs and smirks.
“Whatever it is, it’s on the move.” Sam pushes the last few pieces of chicken around his plate petulantly. “There’s no logic to it, it just keeps moving across the state. Not even the next city over. Sometimes it’s five or six weeks later, sometimes it’s the next day. That doesn’t match any behavior of anything in Dad’s journal or anything I could dig up in the library. So I’m very, very sorry you think that I’m just doing a suck-ass job.”
Dean rolls his eyes and scoffs, stealing another piece of chicken off of Sam’s plate since he’s apparently done with it now. “Wasn’t blaming you for your crappy research skills, Sam.”
Sam makes an irritated sound in the back of his throat and tosses his napkin across the table to fwop against Dean’s chest.
“Cute.” Dean cocks an eyebrow and then he watches Sam grin and watches Sam slip out of the booth and watches Sam step up to the front counter to pay.
A pink and purple notice tacked to the board on the wall behind Sam catches his eye, pressing against the thin membrane between ‘familiar’ and ‘alien’ and Dean cocks his head to the side, takes it in from a different angle and tries to figure where he’s seen it before. ‘Limbardo,’ the poster reads in bright, block lettering.
“Limbardo,” Dean mumbles to himself, brow crunching together. His lips mould over the word as he mouths it over and over again, trying to trigger some recollection of why that poster would mean something to him before he gives up on trying to hash it out from fifteen yards away and steps up behind Sam. Their shoulders brush slightly, flannel shirts scraping, and Dean inspects the poster at close range.
“Dean?” Sam cranes his neck over Dean’s shoulder to try and cash in on whatever’s caught his brother’s attention.
“Hey, Sam?” Dean grins. “I don’t think we need to talk to the cops about a link anymore.”
The band Limbardo had been shucked together by a veritable motley crew of misfits and geeks in the lead singer, Lance Limbardo’s, garage in high school where they had messed around for a year or two until half the band graduated and the other half dropped out. They’d hit their ‘big break’ in the spring of that year, spinning off a deal with a small time record company and branching out on a small tour for the small but loyal fanbase across the west coast.
At least, that’s what Sam tells him over the edge of a laptop screen.
“Dude,” Sam grins, scrolling through the band’s website. “They’ve passed through every town we’ve got bodies in. Good call, man.”
Dean preens obnoxiously, waiting for Sam to snort and roll his eyes.
“They’ve performing tonight downtown in a club called N-V,” Sam says as he taps out something on the keyboard, fingers stretching long and strong and his focus reasserts on the screen. “Tickets sold at the door.”
“You wanna go check it out?” Dean asks, which is a dumb question because Sam’s brow is already doing the scowl of doom thing, which means he’s in business.
“Yeah,” Sam glances over at where Dean’s sprawled out on the bed again. “We gotta scope out the band, the groupies, any fans that might be travelling for them. This is our only solid lead.”
“Okay,” Dean shrugs. “I’m totally game to listen to shitty garage band music all night in a stupid club if you are.”
“Great.” The laptop closes with a resolute snap. “Let’s go,” Sam reaches for his jacket.
“Whoah, whoah, whoah.” Dean’s palms make an appearance braced against the air in front of his chest. “You’re going to go to a night club dressed like that?”
Sam glances down at his dark blue shirt with what appears to be a large greyhound plastered across the chest.
“What’s wrong with the way I dress?” he snaps, affronted.
“Nothing, nothing,” Dean muses nonchalantly. “I mean if you’re trying to attract a lady dog I’ll be a very proud uncle to your litter of puppies.”
“Oh, screw off,” Sam huffs, chest puffing up and deflating in one harsh movement and before Dean can register why Sam’s crossing his arms over his waist the greyhound shirt has been stripped off and is sailing across the room to land on a mound in the center of Sam’s bed. Dean’s eyes don’t mean to do a little dance all the way down Sam’s chest, tracing over lines and angles, but it’s an involuntary side-effect of enjoying keeping an eye on Sam. Same goes for when Sam turns around and Dean’s got a front-row seat to Sam’s fucking back, muscles bunching and slipping underneath smooth tan skin as he rips open his duffle and starts to dig around.
“Uh, what?” The question slides from Dean’s lips before he can stop it. It’s pretty obvious Sam’s looking for a new shirt, Dean’s not stupid. But does he have to do all that bending and stretching?
“What about this one?” Sam held a dark purple polo over his head for Dean’s inspection.
“What?” Dean’s nose wrinkled. “No, Sam. Haven’t you ever been to a club before?”
He didn’t have to look at Sam’s face to know when he was blushing.
Dean scoffs in the back of his throat and rolls his eyes, shouldering Sam out of the way. “What would you do without me?”
“I’ve been to clubs before!” Sam protests, too little too late. “Just... not, y’know... like this.”
“What does that even mean?” Dean huffs as he roots through Sam’s duffle, looking for something appropriate and finding a lot of flannel and a lot of terrible. “Christ, didn’t we buy you clothes that don’t suck?” He glances over his shoulder. Sam’s sitting on the corner of the bed, knee occasionally bumping into Dean’s back where he’s crouched on the moss green carpet. He’s got his arms crossed over his bare chest like he’s got something to be shy about and his cheeks are lit up a shade of pink that Dean shouldn’t find endearing but totally does anyway.
“All my clothes...” burned up in the fire.
Dean winces. “Yeah, maybe I have something that’ll fit you.” He shoves Sam’s bag away and hooks his hand around Sam’s knee for leverage, not lingering the pads of his fingers against body warm denim or tracing the inner seam up Sam’s thigh as he gets vertical. Because that would be weird.
Dean scrubs at the back of his neck as he sloughs over to his duffle bag, tucked up underneath the bed closest to the door. He jerks it out, zipper squealing as he tears it open and burrows deep within the fabric-y bowels of the bag.
“Here,” he chucks a grey t-shirt in Sam’s direction, soft broken-in cotton practically fluid after years of having any stiffness sanded and stretched out. “Try this.”
Sam catches it in one hand, floundering slightly to get a grip. He flaps it out, takes a look. “Really, dude?”
“It was a good concert.” Dean shrugs, smirk coiling up a corner of his lips. “You gonna try it on or not?”
There’s a patented Sam Winchester huff and eye-roll combination, but he rolls the shirt up over his arms, ducks into it and jerks it down over his torso. He stands aggressively, throws out his arms and hurls a ‘You happy now?’ look in Dean’s direction.
Dean is very happy.
The shirt is fucking moulded to Sam’s torso. Though the words ‘Guns N’ Roses’ aren’t written anywhere on the front of the shirt there are, in fact, guns and roses in surplus. They’re faded and abundant, shadows of petals and pistols practically painted onto Sam. There’s shadows and lines and curves in all the right places and Sam’s snapping “Dean!” before he realizes he’s staring.
It’s not even that Sam looks good in the shirt, though Sam looks damn good in the shirt, it’s that it’s Dean’s shirt. Hell, he doesn’t even know if he washed it after he wore it last. Sam’s got Dean rubbing against his skin, curled around him, coating him. It’s a physical marker. It’s possession. His shirt and his Sam and-- fuck, fuck, shut up.
“Yeah, you look fine, princess,” Dean bites off, wrenching open the door. “Can we go?”
“You’re the one who made me change my shirt!” Sam snips, breezing past him, so close Dean can smell Sam and the shirt intermingling.
Dean shakes his head like an animal as soon as Sam’s out of sight. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.
N-V is sick.
Like, actually toxic.
Dean considers momentarily flashing his Health Inspector badge because... damn. Coated and sweat and what Dean’s thinks might be come and hopes is just congealed mayonnaise, though neither seems that appealing. Spilled drinks make the floor tacky, sticking to the soles of Dean’s boots as he weaves through the pulsating crowd and avoids touching. Something -a condom, maybe- squishes and slips underneath his heel and he freezes for as long as it takes to convince himself to just not look down and continue to make a bee-line towards Sam at the bar, making sure not to touch the walls or the railing on the stairs along the way.
“Got anything?” Dean shouts above the musical accompaniment of Limbardo -which sounds exactly like ‘Garage Band’ should- to be heard.
“Nothing weird,” Sam shouts back, scraping what Dean hopes to God is remnants of lipstick off the rim of his guinness.
“This place is...” Dean searches for the right word to convey the truth depths of his disgust. Dean’s got low standards on clubs, but there has to be a line.
“A health hazard,” Sam tosses in, leaning forward against the bar on his forearm and then pulling back when something tacky and pink tries to glue him down. “I know. We’ll have to check out the other clubs, see if they’re the same. It might have to do with environment.”
Dean rolls his eyes and feels a dull throb on an impending headache start up when the lead singer of Limbardo, Lance,thanks everybody for coming out and introduces the next song.
The bass starts out heavy, dominating the room with a tribal thrum that lets the higher guitar twine in after a few bars and then, after a few more suspended moments, a beat taps in, paving the way for lyrics.
“It’s actually not that bad,” Sam shrugs, catching himself before he leans back against the bar again.
“You like this crap?” Dean snorts. Figures Sam would dig the angsty garage band type.
“Hey!” someone shouts with one of those high, nasally voices that makes Dean want to cringe so hard his skeleton collapses in on itself and he crumples inward. “It’s not crap!”
A shorter girl, plump and punk, with purple hair and rows of piercings through her eyebrow, ears, nostrils, and lips hUrls herself into their conversation. “Limbardo is the shit!” she snaps at Dean. “This joker with you?” she rounds on Sam.
“Yeah,” Sam stifles a smile into the rim of his glass. “This joker’s mine.” A muscle in his shoulder twitches, bunching up against Dean’s shirt.
“Keep him on a leash,” she growls warningly before slipping back into the crowd.
“Keep me on a leash,” Dean grumbles under his breath, drowning the sound of sub-par music in his beer. “Keep me on a leash. If anyone is keeping anyone on leashes around here-”
“Let it go,” Sam muses sagely.
“Hey, man,” someone shouts over the music next to Sam’s ear, slaps him on the back. Dean bristles, pale hands on his shirt, on Sam. “Guns N’ Roses, man! Alright!”
Sam shoots them a small wave and a courteous smile.
“Is there anyone here who’s not your friend?” Dean frowns, watching the stranger weave unsteadily back into the crowd.
“Down, Cujo.” Sam pats him on the shoulder, turning away from the bar. ‘I’m gonna go ask around, see who’s a regular.”
“Yeah, okay,” Dean drains the rest of his beer and shakes away the bad-brew-shiver that follows before trailing after Sam into the crowd.
Trying to carve a trail through the dancers is like trying to swim through concrete. Smelly, pulsating concrete that grinds and gropes.
He can see Sam up ahead because he’s kinda fucking hard to miss. The crowd is about level with his shoulder blades, probably would be around his shoulders or chin if they weren’t all stooped to grind. The lights, flashing greens and reds and blues, catch in his hair and glance off the sweat on the back of his neck. Fingers graze across his bare arms, his shoulders as he nods and works his way through the crowd just as politely as he can, and Dean grits his teeth.
He feels like this place is sullying Sam, in a way. Which is idiotic because he’s seen Sam covered in things far worse that the sweat and fingerprints of strangers and bar grease, but the thought is still there. People grabbing at him, want something from him, touching him without knowing him. Sam doesn’t like that, Dean knows. Sam likes connections, Sam likes looking the person touching him in the eye.
A pale blue strobe catches Sam from behind when he turns back to find Dean, and for a moment Dean’s staring at a dark silhouette painted in guns in roses standing high above writhing hands. The lights cuts underneath his ris, tracing the valley between each before curling up underneath his pecs. Dean’s shirt’s ridden up because Sam’s longer than the average schmo, making room for shadows and light in the notch of his hipbones, the smooth of his stomach.
The light cuts out, the songs ends, Dean thinks he’s swallowed his tongue.
“Alright, alright, alright,” Lance laughs on stage. “You guys are a great crowd! Great energy, great feedback, I love it!”
The crowd cheers and Sam takes the break in massing to slip up front, closer to the stage.
“Damn,” Lance puts a hand level over his brow and squints out into the club. “We got some good looking motherfuckers out here tonight.”
The crowd laughs and cheers again.
“You fellas seeing this?” Lance turns back to the band. The bassist laughs and the drummer knocks his sticks together, amused. “Like, damn, this is the hottest crowd we’ve ever had.”
More laughter, extended clapping.
“Shit,” Lance laughs, leaning forward on the microphone stand. ‘I wanna take all of you home.” He scans over the crowd again, eyes locking in the front. “Like, holy shit, check out this guy! How much do you bench press?”
Dean’s only vaguely interested in whatever Lance is saying, still trying to find Sam through the crowd.
“C’mon, c’mon, don’t be shy!” Lance goads, tonguing at his lip ring.
“Uh...” he person Lance has called out responds and Dean pauses. “I don’t know, I don’t really... work out.”
“No shit,” Lance snorts, looks out to the crowd for more support. ‘How tall are you, dude. You’re built like a viking!”
“Sorry, excuse me, sorry,” Dean says without actually meaning any of it as he hustles double-time towards the stage.
“Damn.” Lance whistles appreciatively. “What’s your name, man?”
“C’mon, c’mon,” Lance waves, urges. “It’s not a hard question.”
“Sa-a-am...?” Lance drags out.
“Well, alright,” Lance grins. “This next song goes out to Sam Winchester and it’s called,” he power-strums his guitar in one long, loud arch, “Rumble Fuck.”
The crowd laughs uproariously and Dean grits his teeth. When he finally catches a glimpse of Sam he’s pink and dumbstruck, close to the stage. The people directly around him, those who witnessed in close proximity him being called out and martified by the lead singer are trying to goad him into dancing, shouting, “Come on, it’s your song!” into his ear and tugging at Dean’s shirt.
“Hey pretty baby, I think it’s safe to say,” Lance sings, lyrics kicking up into the static of the music, “I’ve got myself a notion, you could make my day.”
“Move!” Dean barks, actively shoving now. The people he knocks into squawk and shout displeasure, but his entire zone of focus has narrowed down to Sam, Sam trying to stealthily disengage the hands grabbing, groping at him, at Dean’s shirt over him.
Lance sings about how he’d like to spread some ‘pretty baby’ out, fuck them through a mattress, go ten rounds, rumble fuck, and god that’s so fucking stupid, everyone in the club is so fucking stupid and they need to stop touching Sam, stop talking about Sam, stop fucking looking at Sam before Dean breaks all of them.
His only response to the girl snapping “Hey!” when he yanks her away from Sam is a low, wordless bark that originates in the back of his throat.
“Dean” Sam yelps, high and breathless, when Dean grabs his wrist, his hip, and walks him backwards until they hit a wall and Dean’s got him covered up, shielded from the eyes and the hands of everyone who wants to take from Sam, from Dean.
“Why can’t they see?” Dean rasps into Sam’s neck, eyes closed so tight that his head throbs in time with the bass. His fingers clench into Sam’s hip, denting his skin, slipping through sweat.
“Dean?” The one hand Sam has loose clasps loosely to Dean’s elbow just to have Dean underhand, because Dean’s holding tight enough for the both of them. “Hey, calm down, I’m okay. It’s not a big deal.”
Dean shakes his head, makes another wordless, guttural noise that rattles up from his chest. He wrings his hand around Sam’s wrist and harbors the sick hope that it bruises and everyone will be able to see the manacle of bruises Dean left there.
And there’s a thought. Sam cuffed, cuffed to Dean, linked and lashed to him forever by a chain, a Guns N’ Roses t-shirt, and a collar.
A collar that Dean doesn’t realize he’s biting onto Sam’s neck until Sam exhales shakily, right into his ear.
Somewhere along the Dean’s sanity apparently went sliding out of his ear, and he can just imagine it shooting him a double-bird as it kicks the doors open and backs out of the club.
Dean should stop. Dean knows he should stop. Dean’s got a mouthful of Sam’s neck that he’s worrying bruised and bloody with tongue and teeth and he should really, really stop.
But then Sam whines a sweet, soft little chirp of a sound and why should Dean stop? Why should he not use his grip on Sam’s hip to pull his pelvis forward, flush against Dean’s? Why should he not rock into it, into Sam, feel his half-hard dick twitch against Dean’s own. Why shouldn’t he have this?
“De-” Sam gasps, trying to work through ‘Dean’ but barely getting his tongue around the first half before Dean surrenders his neck and the massive, damning bruise he sucked there to catch Sam’s lower lip with his teeth and shut him up before he can even start.
Every thought in Dean’s head is a buzz, cicada drone filling up his head and his ears as he works Sam’s lip until it’s swollen and the skin splits and he’s licking the blood off his teeth. Alcohol sloshes in his blood. He slips his hands under his shirt, touching Sam's skin, feeling warm skin and slick sweat everywhere.
“Oh, Jesus,” Sam pants, breathing the words right into Dean’s mouth as his eyes roll back in his head. Dean hums, rolls his hips into Sam and Sam bucks back. The buttons of their jeans catch and clank together, denim rasps and drags, all of that mixing with the sound of Sam panting and the music -you’re my possession, tuck you into silk sheets and suck, later we’ll rumble fuck- makes Dean’s teeth itch for more.
He wants to flip Sam, get his belly against the wall and the back of his neck exposed and take him hard and rough, like they’re animals instead of men, instead of brothers.
“Shit,” Dean growls, fists his hand into the back of the Guns N’ Roses t-shirt that smells like him and looks good on Sam. “Shit, shit, shit.” He rolls his hips back into Sam’s.
“Dean, Dean, Dean,” Sam mutters, tongue clicking rapidly against the roof of his mouth. “C’mon, c’mon.” He grabs at every part of Dean he can, fingers just as bruising, just as possessive.
Dean wishes he could do more than grind against Sam until they both cream themselves, but there’s already too much clotting up his brain, clogged up behind his eyes and stewing, sweltering insane and dangerous as it courses through him like a drug. They wouldn’t even be here if he was thinking straight, and if he can’t think straight he sure as hell can’t coordinate enough forethought of ‘stop chaffing your cock on the inside of your underwear and get some hands involved, dumbshit.’
So they’ve been boiled down to this. Hips rolling, hands groping, teeth marking, Dean occasionally slipping in a “They don’t even fucking know,” or a, “They shouldn’t touch you, can’t fucking look at you,” until Sam cries out, a sweet soft little puff of noise against Dean’s collarbone as his sweaty forehead lolls against his neck and Dean can feel his cock jerk, a thick sludgy wet mess hot and dirty between them. Dean growls out something that might be ‘Fuck’ or ‘Yes’ or ‘Sam’ or some bastard combination of the three and ruts, blows it right against Sam’s hip.
The drive back to the hotel is awkward.
Reason and forward thinking slammed back into Dean like a car wreck just as soon as his dick was out of the equation, even with Sam still looking sweaty and bitten up and bruised and generally debauched pressed against the raw brick wall in some piece-of-shit hole in the wall nightclub in California.
So now he’s here, sitting in his sticky boxers in the Impala, decidedly not looking at Sam, who is decidedly not looking at him, because they’ve silently, mutually agreed that this, all of this, was a bad dream and never happened and just as soon as the bruises fade it’ll be lost forever.
Dean shifts uncomfortably and shifts gears.
He parks in front of the motel and they idle for a few moment.
"You, uh," Dean coughs, clears his throat. "You can have first shower, if you want."
He hazards a glance over, sees the bruise on Sam's neck, his puffy, split up lip, Dean's wrinkled shirt and he looks back away.
"Yeah," Sam rasps. "Yeah, okay." He lingers for a moment, breathes in like maybe he wants to say something more, but the moment passes and he lets himself out instead.
Dean punches the dash until his knuckles come back dented and bloody before he lets himself out of the car and into the room. He should probably get separate room for the night, let Sam get some sleep under his belt before he has to deal with being in proximity to Dean again. If he wants to be in proximity to Dean again. Shit. Fuck.
The shower's already rattling when Dean steps in, not yet decided on whether he's going to grab his pack and haul ass yet. Steam rolls out from the valley under the door, mucking up the room like Dean's head is mucked up.
Dean sighs, strips off his jacket, tugs awkwardly at the flaky dry mess in the front of his jeans and resists scratching. His Guns N' Roses t-shirt is folded on his bed and Dean feels pathetic because he has to lift it and press his nose to it to smell him and Sam together on the fabric.
The water doesn't stop rattling and it doesn't cover up the squeal of the bathroom door hinges opening.
Sam looks irate. Naked, wet, hair slicked down his neck, chest a gleaming place Dean wants to go when he dies, and irate, standing in the bathroom doorway with steam fugging up the air around him. Dean just looks stupid holding a t-shirt in the middle of the room, legs stanced awkwardly so as not to irritate the delicate he's got glued together by dried come and sweat down there.
"You know what?" Sam snaps after a brief stare-off. "I am sick and tired of your shit." Dean tries to make a sound, usher Sam back into the bathroom so that they can have whatever this conversation is after Sam has some fucking pants on, but Sam cuts him off with a sharp slice of his hand and the sort of sound you make at disobedient dogs. "No! You don't just get to stake public claim on me, slam me into a wall, mark my neck up all to hell, and then pull this," he ways his hand, hunting for a word and scattering water droplets everywhere, "bullshit on me!"
"Sam, I-" Dean tries again.
"No!" Sam shouts him down again, rage flaring. "You commit to this shit, or you don't let it happen! You can't just bash my head in with a club and drag me back to your cave whenever somebody looks at me twice. Commit or fuck off, Dean!" And with a, "You get your ass in that shower in the five seconds or I'm dragging you in with me," he turns heel and marches back into the bathroom.
Dean's stuck, very stunned, very aroused, and very afraid in the middle of the room. That was... not where he was expecting that diatribe to go.
"Well?" Sam shouts. "You wanna hurry up, the hot water's running out?"
"Oh, well," Dean flounders for a moment. "If the hot water is running out, then, yeah, of course." Who the hell is he to turn down some maybe-make-up-shower-sex with his little brother?