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Dean hasn't checked in on Sam in a little over five hours, and Before, that would've been fine, but well. Sam hasn't gone more than a couple hours since then without needing Dean, calling out for him while stuck in the throes of some memory that's sunk its claws into him.

Dean brings dinner in the form of sandwiches as his pretext, a peanut butter and jelly for him and a peanut butter and banana for Sam. He knocks on the door a couple times, leaning up against the wood varnish and calling, "Sam. Brought food."

He leans back, waiting, and three seconds pass without a response, which is two seconds too many, so he just goes right on in, hoping he doesn't see his brother curled up and rocking back and forth again. He keeps the sandwiches safe in an impressive balancing act as he fiddles with the door knob, kicking the door the rest of the way open and stepping right in.

Aaaand, nope. Sam is not shaking in fetal position, eyes dilated and glazed over. He hasn't bitten clean through his bottom lip. Nope. It's actually, uh, it's sorta the opposite, and Dean forgets how words work for several moments.

Sam's sitting on his bed, pillows mushed behind his back, legs spread out, heels right at the edge of the mattress, and, oh yeah, he's completely naked. One hand is draped casually across his thigh, and the other one's dangling in the air, a joint hanging from between his fingers.

"Uuuuuh," Dean starts eloquently, setting the sandwiches down on Sam's desk in slow motion, like if he moves any faster, the hallucination will shatter apart. "What are you doing, Sam?"

Sam blinks up at him with red-rimmed eyes and shrugs, quirking a tiny smile. "You were the one who said it was good for clearing your head," he says, taking another slow drag from the joint, his eyes fluttering shut. Smoke curls from his lips and disappears into the room, and Dean's surprised it doesn't smell stronger of skunk in here.

Dean tears his eyes away from the mindless tap of Sam's free fingers on his thigh, dangerously close to a dark thatch of hair and--nope. Dean is not admiring, Dean is not thinking of his brother like that. He shakes his head.

Sam clears his throat, and Dean looks back over at him, his cheeks flushing a dark pink. Sam gestures with a floppy, boneless arm at the two sandwiches. "Mind bringing mine over?" he asks.

"Sure," Dean grunts, picking up the plate and thrusting it out in the direction of the bed, keeping his eyes lowered. Sam scoffs and in Dean's periphery he sees Sam lean forward, the muscles of his stomach bunching, grabbing the plate and dropping it over his lap, hiding his limp, long cock from sight. Dean relaxes, only fractionally.

"Y'know, you don't really have the full effect going on," Dean says, walking over to Sam's T.V. He turns on Animal Planet and mutes the show about elephant mating habits. He lopes back over to Sam, turning the radio on to a classic rock station. It's just his luck that Queen is actually on, like he was hoping for, and Bohemian Rhapsody slowly curls its way around the room, rising in volume as Dean slowly cranks it louder.

Sam chuckles, tossing his head back, his dimples peeking out. Dean doesn't recognize them for a second. It's been so long since--jesus fucking christ, since Sam's smiled at all, even before Hell, part II, and even though Dean is happy, it seems too good to be true. He's sure as fuck gonna be getting Sam stoned a lot more often from now on, that's for sure.

Dean eyes the tiny joint end in Sam's long, bony fingers. "You want me to roll a new one?"

Sam looks at him with dark eyes and nods.

Dean swallows at the flutter in his stomach and goes to the nightstand where Sam's laid out all of his... materials, and he gets to work, the feeling of the paper under his fingertips sending him back to high school. "I didn't take you for a much of a smoker," Dean says into the quiet, broken only by Freddy Mercury's melodic serenading, rolling the blunt up.

Sam shrugs again. "Nothing else was working. I thought I might as well try, you know? Anything to stop it all. If you'd recommended Heroin, I'd be an addict by now."

The comment doesn't really make Dean feel any better, only coiling the black snake of uncertainty tighter around his insides, his Sam-senses tingling. He lets it go, though, because at least Sam isn't sobbing, isn't begging for Dean to kill him.

It's a fucked up, sideways, step, but it's a fucking step at all, so Dean's not allowed to complain.

He picks up the lighter and offers it to Sam. Sam shakes his head, his hair falling from behind his ear and framing his slim, gaunt cheekbones. Dean stares at his plush lips, looking even fuller because of the juxtapository thinness of Sam's face. "Nah, you first," the lips say, and Dean starts, forcing himself to look up at Sam's eyes.

"'Kay," he says, lighting up the joint and taking a drag. It's been awhile so he coughs at first, but then he manages to hold it in his lungs, closing his eyes as he lets it out with his mouth in a small "o" shape.

The bed sheets rustle and he smells Sam a little more acutely, specifically his shampoo, all coconut and strangely alluring. He opens his eyes to Sam's face coming closer, his lips pursed as he breathes in the smoke Dean's exhaling, and Dean's breath catches, only getting released when Sam drops away again, falling back against his pillow fortress with a muffled thump.

Dean's got one knee on the bed, his hands hovering uncertainly at his sides, and he's frozen like that, feeling the marijuana start to work its magic inside him. His brain is still processing the moment before, and he would've become a statue there at Sam's bedside if it weren't for Sam's own hand, curling around his wrist and tugging. Dean catches himself on the bed and hops up onto it, as Sam's insistent pulls at his arm seem to be asking him to do. He sits next to Sam, their shoulders brushing, and he crosses his ankles.

Sam's more of a furnace than usual, and Dean is aware of Sam's (naked) body heat as keenly as a skilled fighter knows there's a gun aimed at her. Sam finishes his sandwich and leans across Dean, placing the empty plate on the nightstand.

Dean puts all of his energy on the television before him, ignoring Sam's nakedness beside him with a focus that would impress every single one of his schoolteachers. They pass the joint back and forth in silence for awhile. The radio's commercial break ends and an Aerosmith song screeches to life.

Sam makes a small noise and Dean looks over at him. Sam frowns, running a hand through his hair. "Can I..." his voice is raspy and low, and he swallows before continuing. "Can I talk about it?"

No. No no no. Dean wishes he could scream it from the heavens, shove a cork in Sam's mouth and dance around until the topic was forgotten, even if it took years. The last thing he wants to think about, let alone talk about, is Sam's time Down There. It's in his wiring as Sam's older brother. Thinking about Sam suffering pains him more physically than an actual knife to the gut.

But the larger part of him knows this is what Sam wants. More than that, it was what he needs to get better. Every fuckin' therapist and self-help book on the planet says so. It's easy to quietly nod his head and let Sam start, knowing that this is about way more than his own feelings. This is about Sam's soul. Sam leans back, reaching out to throw one of Dean's arms around his shoulders. Dean keeps it there, feeling Sam's soft skin under his arm.

Sam coughs and leans into Dean's embrace. Dean starts tapping his fingers against Sam's shoulder to the beat of the song.

"He knows me," Sam murmurs, his eyes going distant, "he knows me so well, maybe even better than you, and I fucking hate it."

Dean tightens his arm around Sam, but forces himself to stay quiet, chewing on his lip.

"It's like," Sam laughs, but it's not a pleasant noise. "It's like being a third grader playing his first game of chess against the world's best chess player. It's not even a fight. It's over and done before it ever evens starts, and both of them know it."

Sam sighs. "He acts... if you didn't really pay attention, you'd think he was acting nice, or even doting or something, like he cares, but god, it isn't like that. It isn't at all. Just because he sings lovely promises doesn't make him good. He’s the opposite. He's so, so, so, fucking evil. Manipulative. Sometimes I thought I loved him. Sometimes I thought... I wanted him. To touch me. But I didn't, Dean. I never did. And now I feel is dirty. And ashamed. Because I fell for it again, fucking again, even though I was only there for ten years. What kind of fucking weakling am I?"

Dean can hardly speak beyond the choking fullness of his throat, the vice locked around his heart. "Ten years?" he chokes out, blinking rapidly, his fingers curling into fists. "Ten years, baby?"

Sam smiles at him, the smile of a soldier who's been to war, the smile of a cancer patient who knows the chemotherapy isn't working anymore. He reaches up and thumbs at Dean's cheekbone, his touch gone as soon as it had arrived. "I counted every one, waiting for you," Sam whispers, slow-blinking his love at Dean like a cat.

"I came as soon as could," Dean says, surprised at the virulence in his tone, the gleam he knows is burning in his eyes. "It was only a day, Sammy. A little more."

Sam nods, and his hair shines and shimmers in the dimly-lit room, the tv flickering across his face,  first darkening the shadows and angles like a pen-and-ink portrait, then lighting everything up in blue, both showing Sam's beauty, Sam's pain, Sam's soul, and Dean can't look away, needs to hear more, even as his legs yearn to run away.

"You got me as fast as you could," Sam tells him, lacing his fingers with Dean's, "I know that. I know it could've been much worse. But I don't think--I don't think I'll ever come back from this one, Dean. It's not even that I'm not strong enough, it's just... there's a point where you really can't fix something that is thoroughly broken. And for that, I'm sorry."

"Don't be." Dean rubs Sam's knuckles, tries to pour all of his emotions into Sam's eyes. He hopes that they'll sink from his pupils down to his soul, and wrap around it like a blanket, protecting him. He knows that if he could just get his soul to Sam's, it would grow and stretch over it, keep it safe and warm. Each moment that passes with his soul trapped inside his own body makes him want to scream, pull his hair out, punch something. Sometimes he does. "You don't have anything to be sorry for, Sam. Nothing at all."

Sam shakes his head, his hair fluttering. He takes a long, shuddering breath, his fingers trembling as he takes the final pull from the joint, handing it to Dean, who sets it on the nightstand. "But I do. I can't hunt like this, let alone destroy God's sister. I don't want to. I don't want to. I want to--"

"Don't say it," Dean butts in, his voice low and hurt, like an injured dog's moan. "Please, I just... there's got to be a way. A way to make you happy and sane. We gotta get through this, I can't lose you again. We were so close, you know? To being okay again." His eyes fill up and he looks away, his eyes running over the soft color of the inside of Sam's thigh, the long, skinny length of his leg, his cut hips, sticking so much further out than they used to. Dean should've given him two sandwiches and a soda.

He pulls his arm away from Sam, folding his hands in his lap.

"Why do you do that?" Sam asks, his breath ghosting against the shell of Dean's ear.

Dean fiddles with his fingers, doesn't look up from them. "Do what?"

Sam makes a wounded noise. "You haven't touched me ever since I came back."

"I'm just..."

"I know what you are," Sam says, but it isn't accusatory. Dean sneaks a look back up at Sam, and Sam's eyes are big and dewy, full of compassion and understanding. Just what Dean's afraid of. "You're afraid. You think if you touch me it'll remind me of him. That I'll get trapped in memories again and you won't be able to get me out. You know why I get trapped so long, Dean? Because you won't hold me to get me out."

Sam pauses to let it sink in, unaware of how it stings Dean's eyes.

Sam's hand runs over Dean's knee, squeezes there. "He never wore your face, Dean, not this time. You're not him. I know you won't hurt me. I don't think I can ever let you i-inside again, but that doesn't mean you can't touch me. Fuck you, Dean, I need you to."

Dean sniffs. "I think about it, too. I don't touch you 'cause it's gonna hurt both of us." His voice wobbles and wavers, and he doesn't have the energy to hide it. He wipes a hand over his eyes.

Sam shuffles closer, wrapping Dean in his arms and leaning his head on Dean's chest. His bare legs sneak between Dean's. "It only hurts if you let it," he says, falling limp against Dean's chest.

Sam is warm, and soft, and he smells so good, smells of home and love and lust, and that's what makes Dean feel like the devil. Sam still makes him interested, generates filthy scenes in his mind, and he knows in real life Sam would scramble away from those now, would beg Dean not to do it, and that's what keeps Dean away. It doesn't make sense, but it doesn't have to. Sam is right. Dean is afraid. Dean is fucking terrified. Dean wants to make Sam better and he doesn't know how.

Sam tsks and cuddles closer to Dean. "Stop letting it hurt," he mumbles, yawning against Dean's chest. "Don't fuckin' have any time to let it hurt."

Dean lets his arms curl around Sam's bony body and something inside of him sighs and quiets down, slips into place. He laughs. "Well, this isn't the best high I've ever had."

Sam flicks him in the arm. "Ha-ha."

The radio picks up where they left off with a loud AC/DC track. Dean's content to let it take over the moment, to wash over them with long chords and screamed lyrics. Sam squirms a little, trying to get comfortable, and Dean cards his fingers through Sam's hair, from root to end and back again. Sam closes his eyes and puffs out a breath.

Dean loses himself in the small ministrations, in how Sam's breaths slow down and his muscles all relax. He finally feels useful, and he stretches his arm out to snag his half-stale sandwich. He chews on it while Sam dozes off in what is probably the first sleep since he came back free of nightmares.

When he's finished, he stacks his plate on Sam's and leans back, careful not to jostle Sam. He closes his eyes and his exhausted mind thinks itself in nonsensical circles, drifting in and out of a grey, half-conscious state, his eyes flicking about restlessly under their lids.


The mumbled word jolts him out of a light sleep, and his arms tighten instinctively around Sam until his brain wakes up and catches on to what happened. He stretches his legs, his toes curling. "Hmm, yeah?" he says, macking his lips until he feels cognizant enough to listen to Sam.

"There's another way to keep me sane."

That does the trick to slingshot Dean into the land of the living. He looks down at Sam, who looks back up at him with a youthful hope that makes Dean's heart shudder and ache. He runs a hand up and down Sam's shoulder. "What, Sam?"

Sam frowns, and his brows furrow slightly, his eyes burning holes in Dean. "Let me forget," he says.

Dean drops his hand from Sam's shoulder. "Are you serious?"

"You did it for Ben and Lisa."

"And I told you--" Dean growls, closing his eyes. "That was different."

"How?" Sam's voice breaks, and Dean reopens his eyes. "I keep telling you, Dean, over and over, but you won't listen. I don't want to live like this. I can't." Sam's voice breaks. "Please. Please let me."

Dean lets out a long breath. "Sammy..."

"No." Sam's frown twitches, his face threatening to crumble, but Sam's resolve grows, stilling his features as he glares up at Dean, the look slowly dissolving again into something more pleading and desperate. "Please. Please."

Dean lets out a sob, pressing Sam against him, and probably restricting his breathing in the process, but he doesn't care. He pets Sam roughly, tracing the new scars up and down his body. He buries his face in Sam's hair, breathing in and letting out a cry. Sam holds him back silently, but Dean can feel Sam's body shuddering with ragged inhales and exhales, too.

"All I've ever done is tried to patch you up," Dean says when he gets his voice back. "But I think you deserve this. I'll call Cas in the morning, okay? He'll understand. He'll do it."

Sam nods. "I know. I'm gonna--I'll write myself a letter first, something I'll understand. Then we'll do it. You'll be there, okay? Because I'll be confused as hell. The last thing I'll remember is being with Rowena or talking to you on the phone."

"Don't you worry." Dean squeezes Sam. "I'll be right there, and it'll all be okay, Sammy."

Sam sits up and kisses Dean on the edge of his mouth, just a whisper of a touch, really, a faint caress. He meets Dean's eyes from an inch apart, and the moment is captivating. Dean's eyes are drawn to Sam's, just as he's always been, an invisible magnet tying their souls together. "I know," Sam says, with his eyes as well as his mouth.

Dean kisses his forehead and Sam snuggles back down. They shift and toss until they're both lying back on the pillows, Sam cradled in Dean's arms. Dean smooths out the crinkle in Sam's forehead with the pad of his thumb and Sam smiles softly.

"Get some sleep, little brother," he rumbles, running his hand up and down Sam's slim side, and god, he's missed this. Missed Sam so fucking much.

Sam closes his eyes and all the lines in his face disappear. He looks young again, and peaceful, like he had just a couple days ago, just a couple years ago.

Dean yawns and lets his hand rest on Sam's hip. He closes his eyes to the image of Sam's familiar beauty, and all it takes is the promise of a better morning to send him off to sleep.