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The Bee and the Birds

Chapter Text

The day it all changes starts as an ordinary day. Or, as ordinary as things ever get for them.

When Dean wakes up, he finds Sammy standing by the side of their bed, staring at him.

Jesus,” he says, scrambling back. “Don’t do that.”

Sammy lowers his head.

“I’m hungry.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Dean presses the back of his hands against his eyes, then he sits up, looks around. He was sort of hoping Dad would have come back during the night (although, that’s also scary: the idea someone could come in while they're asleep and Dean wouldn’t notice at all), but he hasn’t. And, to be fair, it’s not like Dad gave them a date, or anything. He said he’d probably be back before next week, and today’s Saturday. Plenty of time left, and no need to worry yet.

Sammy apparently got tired of waiting, and now he’s trying to negotiate his way around a box of cereals he can barely keep upright.

“Wait, I’ll do it.”

“I’m hungry.”

“Yeah, and I said I’ll do it, okay? Stop that.”

Two weeks ago, Sammy broke a glass because Dean was too busy watching TV to get him some OJ. There’s still a band-aid on the back of his hand - not a kid’s one - no, definitely not the Spider-Man stuff Dean was lucky enough to get once or twice after getting into fights at school. As Sammy pushes the box back on the table (because, yes, he always does what he's told, but he's never all that happy about it, and especially not first thing in the morning, so this day is starting out just great), Dean sees the band-aid - one of those ugly white things Dad uses - and something shifts inside his chest, because he knows there’s no wound under there, he knows the cut healed days ago, and yet Sammy insists to keep it on, and Dean gets it, because he likes it as well, he likes pretending to be like Dad, and it’s so cool, but also - also - Sammy got hurt because of him, and he doesn’t want to think about it, and every time he sees the band-aid, he has to.

Yes, the day is starting out just great.

Breakfast is quiet. They don’t have any milk left, so it’s just dry cereal out of a bowl, but it’s sweet and crunchy, and when Sammy complains, Den allows him to eat it with a fork instead, and Sammy is okay again - at first he eats, giggling at this new thing they’re doing, and then he starts crushing the cornflakes against the bowl until there’s nothing but powder left, and then frowns when Dean tells him to eat them anyway, because they don’t waste food, and ends up pressing his wet finger all over the powder, watching in fascination at the sugary goodness coating his skin before licking his finger clean, over and over again. When he gets bored and hops down from the chair, Dean decides he won’t even wash the bowls, because they look plenty clean to him.

After that, it’s cartoons, and they’re funny enough Sammy asks about Dad only once.

“Later today,” is Dean’s answer, and he tries to believe that. “Maybe tomorrow.”

He glances down at his clunky watch. Nine o’clock.

They’ve been here only for a month, but he already hates it. The school smells like feet, and their motel is miles from anything. It’s not so bad, Dad being gone, if they’re staying near a town and they can walk around a bit, look at shop windows, or even pop into a diner and get themselves some fresh waffles, but this - Dean hates it. If it was just him, he’d walk to town, but Sammy can’t make it. And staying here is boring. There’s nothing to do, nothing to see except for a stretch of road and some trees. Also, no way to buy or steal food. As Sam inches closer to the screen - Dean always tells him not to, and Sam always finds a way to do it anyway, stretching down on the carpet, slithering closer and closer to the television before losing interest and turning on his back and starting to chatter about stupid things instead - Dean’s eyes hesitate over the table. The cereal box is almost full, and they also have plenty of crackers and some beef jerky. Dad left them two packets of cheese and ham in the fridge, but it’s almost all gone because Dean hasn’t been careful, has assumed Dad would be back by Friday night at the latest.

But it’s useless to fret about it. Today’s Saturday, and tomorrow’s Sunday, and on Monday morning Tommy’s mom’s going to pick them up for school, and then they’ll be fine.

And there’s no reason to worry, about anything. Dad has checked the place out before leaving - this town is clean. No ghosts, no monsters.

Someone knocks on the door, and Dean stiffens.

Sam sits back, then stands up. Looks at Dean. Dean motions for him to be silent. He’s hoping whoever it is will go away, but, of course, the television is very loud. It’s obvious there’s someone in the room.

“Hello?” calls a voice, and then the person knocks again.

It’s a woman’s voice, and Dean relaxes a fraction. Maybe the television was too loud, maybe that’s why they’re there.

“One second,” he calls, and then he turns to Sam. “Get in the bathroom.”

“But -”

Now.”

Sam shoves him as he passes him, but does as he’s told. When the door clicks shut behind him, Dean walks to the wardrobe, bends down and recovers the gun Dad taped underneath. He pushes it in the back of his jeans and tries to hide it with the hem of his tee shirt before walking to the door and opening it.

There’s a woman there, and Dean knows exactly who she is. It’s a game he plays with Dad - to see how many faces he can recognize, how many names he can remember. Sometimes Dad will turn down the volume of the music, glance at him and say, “Son, the family in the white van staying in the room next to ours back in Groveland?” - and Dean will bite his lip and think - Groveland, Idaho, population 877, a diner with some huge chocolate milkshakes (Sammy had been sick, and hadn’t Dean told him the thing was way too big?), a motel with orange walls, and those people - blond, all four of them, and they’d looked so similar Dean had been grossed out when he’d realized they were, in fact, two married couples and not four siblings. “Hutchins,” he’d said, and, that time, he’d been right.

Other times he misses, and Dad is never happy about it. He never says anything, either, but Dean can see his frown clearly enough.

And he's right to be pissed. This isn’t just a game.

“You need to work on your memory, and you need to notice your surroundings,” Dad had said, the first time they’d played.

“Yes sir,” had been Dean’s automatic answer, but Dad had seen right through that.

“Is something wrong?”

“There’s so much stuff I don’t know,” Dean had replied, his eyes dropping to the dry grass of the parking lot. “About the lore, about weapons. I can’t even drive yet.”

Dad had straightened up, then. He’d looked back at the car, checking on Sammy, and then he’d pressed his hand down on Dean’s hair (not unkindly, but not quite a caress, either).

“You need to trust me on this, Dean. Noticing stuff, and remembering it, is just as important as knowing about the lore. We’ll start on that soon, I promise -”

“Awesome!”

“- if you do well with this.”

Dad does sometimes break his promises, but never intentionally. It happens that he comes back later than he’d said, but only because someone was in danger. Only because it was absolutely necessary, which is why it never matters if Dean is scared and Sammy is restless and they don’t know what to do with each other and they end up eating stale cereals and dried meat for days and days. Saving people is more important, and that’s what Dad does. And when he’d said he’d teach Dean if Dean was ready to learn, he’d been honest. And so Dean has done his best to keep up. He’s been playing the game for more than one year now, and he’s getting very good at it, and Dad’s kept his word. His diary’s still off-limits, but some nights he’ll read from it, after Sammy’s gone to bed, and whenever he does, the dark room around them gets even darker.

So, yes, Dean knows exactly who this is. Mrs Turner, from Arizona. She arrived yesterday, and she’s staying here with her husband and two girls, twins, around Dean’s age (Melissa and Rachel, he thinks, but he’d been too far away to hear properly).

“Yeah?” he asks, looking up at her, and she smiles.

“Good morning, sweetie.”

Dean blushes. He doesn’t feel all that sweet. He hasn’t killed anything, not yet, but the gun is very heavy against his back and he knows perfectly well how to use it.

“Is your Dad here?”

“No. He had to leave early.”

The woman hesitates for a second, then smiles again.

“Someone has something to ask you.”

Dean can just stand there, bewildered, as one of the two girls appears behind her mother.

“We’re playing hide and seek,” she says, a bit resentfully, without looking at him. “Want to come?”

Dean stares at her. She’s wearing a pink dress, and she looks like those girls in commercials: a long blond braid, blue eyes, and shiny white shoes.

(Dean’s shoes are always dusty, no matter how often he tries to clean them.)

“I have to watch my brother,” he says, and the girl seems relieved.

“Oh, he can play as well, can’t he, Rachel?” the woman says, placing a hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “How old is he?”

“Six.”

The woman smiles again, and things go very fast after that.

Sam, of course, is over the moon about it, and Dean can’t find a reason to be grumpy. The bit of forest behind the motel is okay - big enough to make hide and seek challenging, but small enough not to make him nervous. There’s nothing hiding in those trees - no werewolves, no dryads. It’s just trees. And the girls are not half bad, for girls. Rachel is offstandish and a bit mean, but Melissa’s alright. As he watches her tickle Sam into a howling mess, Dean can even smile.

“I didn’t want to play with you,” says Rachel, abruptly. “My mom made me.”

She and Dean are sitting side by side on the picnic table. The day is quiet and beautiful around them - a blue-skyed June Saturday, the sun shining hot enough to be pleasant and not hot enough to make him sweat.

“I don’t care. I didn’t want to play either. ‘S for kids.”

Rachel scoffs slightly, and Dean can sort of see this is a practiced reaction.

“You are a kid,” she says, slowly. “We’re all kids.”

“Am not.”

“How old are you then?”

In that moment, Sam manages to get free, runs away, then stops so Melissa can catch him. Dean forgets to be annoyed at Rachel for a second, but he still wishes he’d brought his gun. He’s been practicing with it for about six months, and he already feels naked without it.

“I’m ten,” he says, grandly, because he’s a lot older than Sammy, and there are so many things he can do now.

(They all went to Bobby’s for Easter, and then in the evening Dad left Sammy behind and taught Dean how to salt and burn a grave. It had been awesome, and almost good enough to fall asleep with a smile on his lips and ignore the furious argument going on downstairs.)

“I’m eleven,” Rachel says, matter-of-factly, as if marking a point.

They remain silent for another five minutes - Dean doesn’t know what to say to her, but it doesn’t matter much, because girls are boring, anyway. They’re afraid of everything and they pull your hair and then they squeal and cry if you pull theirs back. Dean knows the best thing to do is to stay the hell away from them.

As Rachel watches her sister play with Sam - they’re now trying to build some kind of tiny tower out of twigs and rocks, and Dean is dying to join them, but he’s also trying to prove he’s a grown-up, far above these things - she starts to fidget and then suddenly cries out.

“What? What is it?”

Melissa and Sam immediately stop what they’re doing, run up to them.

“A splinter! Look, I’m bleeding,” Rachel says, and now she doesn’t look so distant and cold anymore - her lip is trembling, and her eyes move from her sister to the motel’s parking lot.

“Mom said not to bother them,” Melissa says, following her gaze.

“But it hurts!”

“Let me see.”

Dean puts his hand out, palm up, and after a second of hesitation, Rachel puts her own hand in his.

It’s a splinter, alright. Not that Dean’s had to deal with many of them, because Dad keeps their tools and weapons perfectly maintained, but sometimes it still happens. He thinks about getting the tweezers from their room, but it hardly seems worth it.

Without thinking, he raises Rachel’s hand to his mouth.

“What are you doing?” she asks, a bit shrilly, snatching it back.

“That’s what you do with splinters. You suck them out,” Sam says, wisely.

He’s standing way too close to Melissa, almost as if trying to take her hand, and Dean frowns at him.

“He’s right,” says Melissa, and he beams up at her. “I’ve seen it on Lassie.”

“That’s not for real.”

“Yes it is.”

“Mom is never getting you a dog,” says Rachel, viciously, in something that looks like a non-sequitur to Dean but is clearly an ongoing argument between them; and then she moves her hand and pain flashes on her pretty face.

“Come on,” says Dean, offering his hand again. “I’ve done it thousands of times.”

Thousands of times?”

Dean shrugs.

“At least a dozen.”

“Do you want to play tag again?” Sam asks, clearly bored by the proceedings.

He’s seen Dean patch up Dad before - not that one time Dad taught him how to stitch a wound, though: Dean made sure of it - so a stupid splinter is really not that interesting.

“Yes, I’ll play with you,” says Melissa, sticking her tongue out at her sister before tagging Sam and running off, her shiny white shoes already a mess of gravel and dust.

Rachel watches them go, and then huffs as she gives her hand to Dean, without even looking at him, as if she’s the one doing him a favour.

Dean shuffles a bit closer to her, takes her hand in both of his, and passes his fingers on the skin, trying to see how the splinter went in.

Her hand is very different from his. The skin is fairer and softer, and her nails are clean (although some of them are encrusted with shiny pink polish). For some reason, it reminds Dean of Mrs Simmons, who’d once insisted to put a Spider-Man band-aid on Dean’s grazed knee (Dean had taken it off before getting back to the motel, because he knew Dad would have made fun of him - a band-aid for that, what a waste). Her skin had been very soft as well, and she’d smelled a bit like Rachel does - of soap and some kind of fruit.

“I’ll try to get it all out,” he says, his voice is a bit dry.

Rachel just nods. She’s looking at him, now, and she’s pursing her lips, clearly expecting pain.

Dean lowers his head, puts his lips on her finger in something that’s not quite a kiss. He pushes his tongue out, feels the edges of the splinter, tries to close his teeth around it. He expected her skin to taste like Rachel smells (he now thinks those are peaches, not strawberries, as he’d first guessed) but it’s just skin. As he sucks on her index finger and frowns, because the damn thing is not big enough to be bitten out, Rachel’s other fingers close instinctively around his chin, almost cupping his cheek. He looks up at her a bit questioningly, but she doesn’t look back at him.

And the thing is - she’s a girl, and she’s annoying, and Dean wishes he could be anywhere but here - hunting with Dad, perhaps, because he’d overheard him talk on the phone about a rugaru and he wants to know what the hell that is, or watching cartoons with Sam, or even running around in the trees with Melissa, because she seems way better than her stupid sister - but Dean is stuck here, and suddenly that’s not half bad. The sun’s warmth on his back is lulling him into a quiet, relaxed state of mind, and it’s kind of nice to do this - to touch Rachel, to feel her hand against his face, and her tasteless, clean skin against his lips, under his tongue. His stomach feels a bit funny, like it does when he’s nervous, or afraid, but Dean is neither. The smell of Rachel’s shampoo is now very heavy against his nose, because she’s moved even closer (she’s probably trying to see what Dean is doing).

Finally, Dean feels the splinter come free - without letting go of Rachel’s hand, he sits back up, spits it out on his palm.

“That’s it?” Rachel asks, but she doesn’t move her hand.

“Should be. Let me see if I got it all.”

As he raises Rachel’s hand in the sunlight, he feels it again - that almost fear vibrating against his lungs - and he frowns. It makes no sense at all.

“Yeah, it’s gone.”

“Thank you,” Rachel says, and then she snatches her hand back, slips off the picnic table with a graceful little jump, and runs to her sister.

Dean remains where he is, suddenly wishing the Turners would stay one more day.

Chapter Text

Six months later they’re at Bobby’s again. It’s almost Christmas. Dad is in a cheerful mood, and even Bobby seems less grumpy than usual. Some neighbour has come by with a pan of homemade lasagna, which is the most delicious thing Dean’s ever eaten. In fact, everything is so plain perfect Dean allows Sam to pick a movie for the evening, and that’s how they end up watching some boring documentary about scorpions instead of the thing Dean wanted to watch (Pale Rider; then again, he’s seen it already, so whatever).

When they are shooed to bed, they both fall asleep at once.

It’s very dark when Dean wakes up, and at first he thinks it’s the voices which roused him - they’re staying in the upstairs bedroom, but Dean can hear Dad and Bobby talking down in the living room - and then he realizes his pajama pants are wet. Which is annoying, but not new. This is the third time it happens in less than a month - Dean doesn’t know what, exactly, is going on, but there seems to be no harm to it, so he’s not concerned. It is, however, annoying. If this were a random motel, Dean would just roll over and fall asleep again, but he’s a guest in Bobby’s home, and he doesn’t want to make a mess.

The bedroom is cold, and Dean shivers when his naked feet touch the floorboards.

Trying to be as quiet as he can, he tiptoes to the bathroom and sighs in relief when he closes the door behind him, because someone forgot the radiator on, and the little room is a pleasantly warm.

Balancing against the sink, he walks out of his pants, tries to wash the stuff out. Next, he decides he might as well clean his penis as well, because the skin around it is all sticky and gross - moreover, the radiator may be scorching hot, but it'll take at least ten minutes before his pajama is dry again. He turns the water a bit warmer, rolls his sleeves back and awkwardly tries to clean himself without making a total mess.

And then it happens.

Something heavy and warm pools in his stomach, and his penis hardens. Dean’s never seen it happen on himself before, but he’s not stupid, and it all comes naturally, anyway. He tugs a bit at the wet skin, and that warmth in his belly stretches and stretches until Dean’s almost shivering under the weight of it.

This is nothing like Danny had made it look like.

(Danny Osburn had been in the wrestling team two schools ago, back in New Mexico. Dean had caught him wanking off in the showers once, and Danny had grinned at him, then closed his eyes again.

Danny had been thirteen, and everything Dean wanted to be - tall, with something like a peach fuzz on his cheeks, and a star wrestler - even at his age, Coach had already been talking about a scholarship and a professional future.

Dean hadn’t meant to walk in on him - he’d been late to the showers because Coach had made him help tidying up - and when he’d finally realized what Danny was doing, he’d remained rooted to the spot, because, sure, he should have walked away, maybe, but he’d also needed to shower - he’d been late enough as it was, and Dad -

“Don’t make it weird,” Danny had said, when he’d realized Dean was still standing by the first stall in his underwear. “Just take your damn shower and stop looking at me. What are you, a faggot?”

Dean had coloured. He hadn’t known what that meant, exactly, but he’d still known enough to be sure he didn’t want to be one.

“No,” he’d said, and then he’d walked in and taken his damn shower, all the while doing his best to ignore the sounds coming from Danny’s stall.)

Because Danny had made it look - he hadn’t seemed particularly pleased. He’d just jerked himself off in quick, efficient strokes, sighing only once, at the very end, before squirting some soap on his hands and finishing up his shower.

So, well, Dean had pushed it out of his mind. There was too much going on in his life to worry about that, anyway. Sammy had been sick that week, some kind of stomach bug which had him look like he was on the verge of dying, and Dean had been cleaning vomit out of clothes and sheets for days. He’d asked Dad if maybe Sammy needed a doctor, but Dad had told him doctors were not a good idea and they could take care of Sammy themselves.

Dean tugs at the skin again, closes his eyes against the sudden, intense bout of feeling. There is a little pain there, and a curious pinching, the same thing that happens when he needs to pee, but mostly it’s very, very good. Dean touches himself more and more quickly, experimenting with pressure, passing his thumb over the slit, and all too soon it’s all over and he’s panting hard, his left hand gripping the edge of the sink, his right now a mess of white liquid.

God.

It feels like something he shouldn’t have done and something he can’t take back and also like the best thing in the whole world.

When he catches his breath again, he prods the dirty skin for a second to see if there’s any chance he can do that again, but his penis remains limp.

And maybe that’s okay.

It’s very late, after all.

And Bobby’s promised to teach him about engines tomorrow, so he’d better go back to bed.

Sighing, Dean cleans himself up again, pats himself dry and retrieves his pants from the radiator. They are pleasantly warm against his skin, but the feeling doesn’t last long. By the time Dean’s back in the corridor, his feet already freezing on the cold wood, all he wants is to be back in bed.

And then he hears Dad speak from downstairs.

“...finally have a solid lead on Yellow Eyes.”

Dad’s voice has that sound in it, that thing it does when Dad’s had too much too drink. Dean hesitates, then sits down on the top step and listens.

“Yeah, about that - when you go after that thing, you’re leaving those boys here.”

A long moment of silence.

“Sammy’s smack in the middle of this fucking mess, Bobby.”

“You don’t know that. I told you, I -”

“Yeah, you told me alright. And I still think you’re wrong.”

A short silence.

“He’s a goddamn child.”

“He’s my goddamn child,” Dad says, the last word almost drowned by the sound of his fist against the table. “It’s my choice to make.”

Dean shivers.

“John, he’s six,” Bobby insists, in a low grumble.

“I don’t care. That thing chose him, and I need to know why.”

Dean’s never heard Dad talk about this. Unlike Sammy, he knows a demon killed Mom, and he also knows Yellow Eyes is not a normal demon - that it’s something else, something more powerful. He knows Dad’s looking for it, and that he can’t find it. He overheard Dad talking on the phone, once - saying that even if he did find it, he wouldn’t know how to kill it.

“You don’t know that. Don’t say that. Sam's fine.”

Again, there is a noise. It sounds like Dad pushed the chair back, stood up.

“Yellow Eyes killed Mary to get at Sam. I don’t know what Sam is, but he’s not fine. And I’m not leaving him behind, not again. Not with you, not with anyone. There are signs every fucking where - something’s about to go down, and -”

“Yeah? You sure about that? Sure enough to bet your kids’ lives on it?”

Bobby sounds very angry now, but Dean barely hears him. Everything is so small, insignificant. He forgets he’s cold, and he forgets this new exhilaration pooling in his stomach - how good it had been to touch himself, how awesome it is that maybe he can do that whenever he wants - can be happy like that every day, even if it lasts only a couple of minutes. He forgets his excitement about Christmas, even, because it’s not like they normally have Christmas, but Bobby’s great with gifts, Dean’s sure he has something for both of them.

Yellow Eyes killed Mary to get at Sam.

So this is what Dad never wanted him to find out. Because Dean’s not stupid - he knows when Dad’s lying to him, and he’s always seen, crystal clear, that whenever Yellow Eyes comes up, his Dad sort of folds upon himself, becomes a little bit smaller, a little bit harder. Dean’s allowed him that, has never asked for more, never talked back, because he’s always assumed - he knows Dad’s sad about Mom dying - Dad’s explained to him once - he’d said that yes, he did fight with Mom a lot, but that’s what grown-ups do, and he’d also loved Mom a lot, still did, so it’s okay - and so Dean’s always - he’s always -

But it’s Sam’s fault, all of it.

Yellow Eyes killed Mary to get at Sam.

Every last bit of resentment and jealousy Dean feels for Sam suddenly bubbles to the surface, tastes like bile in his mouth. Sammy’s annoying as hell, and Dean’s always there for him anyway. He’s changed his diapers and carried him around even if he weighed a ton and he’s lost half his life, or so it seems, to get Sam to eat and to sleep and to be quiet in the car and he tries not to mind when Dad yells at him because he knows Dad never yells at Sam, and that’s what matters, and it turns out - it turns out -

Sammy killed Mom.

Dean shivers, feels like he’s going to be sick. Dad’s and Bobby’s voices are still floating up from the living room, but Dean can’t even make the words out. There’s so much going on inside him - fire and ice and a blinding rage and also tears, somewhere, because he misses Mom so much, and it’s not fair - that he can’t - that he’s never -

“Dean?”

And here is Sammy. He’s wearing Dean’s pajamas, and they are a way too big for him. He looks almost lost inside the striped fabric. His thin face is very pale in the half light of the corridor, and Dean knows what this means - Sam’s had a nightmare.

“Yeah?” he forces out, and Sammy closes the distance between them, sits down next to Dean, grabs his arm and pushes his nose against the cotton of Dean’s pajama top.

And just like that, all those ugly things hissing and spitting inside Dean go away.

I don’t know what Sam is, Dad had said, but Dean sure does.

Sam’s his brother, and it’s his job to look after him, and nothing else matters. If Yellow Eyes was really trying to get to Sam, then Mom died to protect him, and Dean is ready to do the same. No way a stupid demon is going to get its stupid hands on his brother.

“Come on, it’s cold out here,” he says, forcing Sam up, ignoring the fact his sleeve is all wet, ignoring the tear tracks on Sam’s cheeks, because Sam’s already trying to clean them off.

They walk side by side back to their room, and once they get inside, Dean pushes Sam towards his bed, then climbs in behind him, adjusts the covers around them both.

“Wanna talk about it?” he asks, when Sam turns around, clutches his arm again.

“No. It was the fire again,” Sammy says, very quietly.

“You were too small. You can’t remember that.”

“But I do.”

Dean feels tears prickling at his eyelids.

“Just - forget about it, okay? It was a long time ago. You know where Mom is now.”

“With the angels,” says Sam, sniffling a bit and cleaning his nose in Dean’s sleeve.

Dean lets him.

“That’s right,” he says.

Dad never said anything about it (“She’s gone, son. She’s dead,” he’d finally shouted, after a few weeks of questions, and he’d been so unhinged, he’d looked so dangerous, Dean had never asked again), but Dean remembers Mom telling him about it.

Angels are watching over you.

“It’s okay, right? Come on, try to sleep.”

“You’re staying here?”

One thing Dean likes about being at Bobby’s is that they have a bed each, which is great because Sammy’s way too hot and he moves around a lot and sometimes he even kicks Dean in his sleep. Dean’s tried everything, from shying away to kicking him back, and nothing works. He’s really looking forward to being fourteen - Dad had once said he would always try to get them separate beds then - but for now, it is what it is.

“Of course I’m staying. I’ll always be here.”

Sammy sniffles, pushes his cold feet against Dean’s shins and then slowly falls asleep.

And Dean, well. He stares up at the ceiling for a long, long time, his mind the same colour as muddy water.

Chapter Text

The weird thing about their life is that it should be exciting, but mostly it really isn’t. It was hard enough before, with the constant changing of schools and all those lies and the ever present worry Sam would ignore Dad’s orders and get his hands on Dean’s gun (after one year of practice, Dad had insisted Dean keep it under his pillow every night, and when Sam had tried to ask questions about that, it hadn’t gone well), but now it's downright hellish.

Because now they’re older, Dad leaves them alone more and more often. And after that disastrous Christmas conversation, he’s definitely not welcome when he comes back - it’s been almost one year, and yet Sam can’t let that go. Unlike Dean, he’s not afraid of Dad (although, to be fair, Dad’s never hit him, so it’s a lot easier to play the rebel) and every time they’re in the same room together for more than an hour, a heated discussion about something or other ends up chasing Dad to the nearest bar.

“You gotta stop that,” Dean says, angrily, after the latest argument, and Sam turns his back on him. “Hey, look at me when I’m talking to you.”

“Leave me alone.”

“What’s your damn problem?”

Dean doesn’t know what’s wrong with Sam. Sometimes he thinks that whatever love Sam ever had for him is all gone, and the thought freaking hurts. Because Sam’s only nine, but he’s completely different from the kid Dean has cared for all those years. They never sleep in the same bed anymore, or very rarely, and when Sam’s upset, he doesn’t come to Dean for help. When he’s had a nightmare, he doesn’t slither into Dean’s bed. And after Dad yells at Dean for something Dean, again, did wrong, Sam never hugs him anymore.

Maybe it’s normal, but it’s also lonely. Dean misses the way Sammy used to be. He’s got this feeling his brother’s angry at him, and he’s trying not to take it personally - these days, Sam’s angry at everything, all the time (except for freaking Sully, of course: Sam’s never angry at that thing, whatever it is). The only thing he still likes to do is reading and homework, because he’s always been something of a freak.

Sometimes Dean looks up from his crunches and his wrestling practice to see Sam stare at him, a weird expression on his thin face - half disgust, half envy. Like Sam thinks Dean’s a fool for following Dad’s very order and keep up religiously with his physical training, but he also wishes, more than anything, that he should be allowed to join them when they hunt. And he’s not. Not yet.

(Last time the thing had been mentioned, Sam had shouted at Dad until Dad had left, and then he’d begged Dean to talk to him. Dean had promised, but he’d never done it.)

“You know what,” Sam says, still staring at the wall. “I want to be useful. I want to hunt.”

“You can’t hunt if you can’t obey Dad’s orders.”

“You’re such -”

“You’re gonna get yourself killed,” Dean says, flatly, as if the prospect doesn’t make him dizzy with fear. “Learn to do as you’re told, and then he’ll let you in.”

Sam’s shoulders tense.

“You started when you were a lot younger than me.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t talk back.”

“He told you the truth,” Sam suddenly shouts, turning around. “He told you the truth, and not me. Why does no one tell me anything?”

Dean knows why. It’s because Yellow Eyes killed Mom because of Sam, and if Sam should find out -

Also, Dad is still hoping Sam will have a normal life.

“You, you’re,” he’d slurred once, as Dean was helping him to take his shoes off; but he’d never finished his sentence. He’d just looked down at Dean, completely wrecked. “But Sammy - Sammy’s never gonna hunt. Sammy’s getting out, Dean. Promise me he’ll get out.”

Dean had looked up at Dad, wondering how that unfinished sentence ended - You’re good at this? You’re too much of a fuck up to deserve anything better than this? You’re in too deep to ever stop? - but Dad was already half asleep, and there had been no need for an actual answer.

“Why do you even want to do it?” Dean says, and now he’s getting angry as well. “I lied to you back then. It’s not cool. It’s not fun. It’s dangerous and it sucks.”

“I want to decide that myself.”

“Yeah, keep dreaming.”

It’s an unpleasant evening after that. Sammy fumes a bit more, then starts on his math homework, muttering calculations under his breath. At that point, Dean turns up the volume of the stupid movie he’s watching, just to annoy him.

At eleven, Sam finally pushes his books away and presses his hands against his eyes.

“Why isn’t Dad back yet?” he asks, and for once he sounds like that child who’d loved Dean so much - trusting and a bit scared.

It’s not like he’s apologized for making Dad storm off, not really, but Dean doesn’t have it in him to point it out. Instead, he makes himself more comfortable on the couch, passes a hand on the back of his neck, and, out of habit, follows the string of his necklace down to the silver pendant.

“He’ll be back soon,” he says.

“What if he’s gone?”

Sam’s voice is very, very low now. Not his usual angry tone, either. He sounds genuinely worried.

“He wouldn’t do that.”

“But what if -”

“The car’s still there.”

“Yeah, but -”

Dean doesn’t understand where this is coming from. They’re doing almost okay - Sam doesn’t like his classmates, which is not new, but he does like his teachers, so he’s been happy. And Dad has mostly been around - he’s trying to track down a shifter, and doing all sort of research, but he’s generally picking them up after school, and they eat together and everything. In fact, if Sam weren’t so damn hostile, things would be okay.

“Look, do you want me to go check?”

“Where?”

Dean turns the television off, stands up, grabs his jacket from the back of the couch.

“There’s this bar Dad likes,” he says, and it’s not exactly a lie, only Dad’s been going there because he thinks that’s where the shifter might work. “I can go have a look, be back in thirty minutes.”

Sam sits up a bit straighter. He’s clearly torn. His eyes move to the salted windowsills, then to the Devil’s trap Dad’s taken to drawing in chalk right above the front door; finally, he nods.

“Thank you,” he says, in a small voice.

“Yeah. Just - tidy up and brush your teeth and everything, okay? It’s late.”

“Okay.”

Dean walks out, but before closing the door he looks into the room again.

“You lock the door behind me, okay?” he says, and Sam nods again. “Two turns of the key. And if someone tries to get in, you shoot them. Even if it’s me or Dad.”

“What?”

Sam doesn’t know about shifters, but if there’s one in town, it’s too dangerous for him not to.

“I’ll use my special knock, okay? And Dad has the other key. So if someone wants to come in and it’s not us - even if it looks like us -”

Sam stares at him, and Dean passes a hand through his hair, bites his lip.

“Dad’s hunting a shapeshifter,” he says, in the end. “You remember what I taught you, right?”

It’s not like Dean had wanted to teach Sam anything, but Sam’s always been annoying, and much smarter than him, and he’d talked Dean into letting him practice with the gun. And, well, it was safer for Sam to at least know how to use it, how to work the safety and things, which is why Dean had given in.

Still, there’s a big difference between shooting at cans and shooting at a person, as Dean has recently found out.

“I’ll be careful. I promise,” Sam says, trying to sound older than he looks, and Dean walks out, waits until he hears the key turn in the lock before walking away.

Their place is only a short distance from the main street. Not that it’s a big town, or anything, but still, it’s Saturday night and there are people around, mostly young couples and men on their own.

Nobody spares Dean a second glance, which is just as well. He’s tried to pass for someone older once or twice, but until his voice drops properly he’s got no chance to be believed.

As he walks, his plan seems more and more foolish. If Dad’s working and hasn’t invited Dean to join him, it’s because he doesn’t want Dean around. And if he’s not - if he’s just drinking himself stupid - then he’ll definitely not want Dean around. Plus, Dean has no chance of walking into a bar, one way or the other. He’s just too young.

When he gets to the Blue Dolphin, he still doesn’t know what he’s going to do. Sammy’s fear is always infectious and Dean - it’s not like he believes Dad would up and leave, but now he wants to see him before going to bed. Also, he wants to be able to tell Sammy he’s seen Dad without lying to him (again).

He frowns, his hands going for the familiar weight of the gun, closing on the belt loops instead (because, of course, the gun’s not there: he left it to Sammy), and then he sees the bar has a secondary door, opening on an alley. Surely a service door, and maybe unlocked?

Dean crosses the street, looks around - no one’s noticed him - and then ducks into the alley, tries the handle.

The door is unlocked.

His heart beating a bit faster, he pulls it open, sneaks inside. He’s suddenly very aware of the fact that not only Dad might be here (and if he is, he’ll be furious with Dean for following him), but that the shifter might be here as well. And he has no way of figuring out who it is.

His little adventure, however, lasts about three minutes before a pretty girl turns a corner and finds him hiding by the cleaning supplies.

“And who are you?” she says, but she’s smiling.

Dad has been teaching him this - how to adapt his reaction to what people want from him. Trying not to be too obvious, Dean mimics her position, smiles back.

“I’m looking for my dad,” he says, deciding on the spot that the truth will help him better than a lie. “But he’ll be mad at me if he sees me, so.”

The girls frowns, then glances behind her and lowers her voice.

“What does he look like?” she asks, taking a step closer to Dean.

Dean shrugs.

“He’s, I dunno, forty. Dark hair, dark eyes. Leather jacket.”

“Unshaven? Likes his Johnny?”

“Yeah. That’s him.”

The girl seems about to add something else, then checks herself, changes tack.

“Your mom’s not waiting up for him, is she?” she asks, a bit too casually, as if Dean’s too stupid to figure out that what she means is that Dad is talking to a woman, maybe even kissing her and stuff.

“No,” he says, and the sudden anger, the sense of betrayal, makes him reckless. “But my gran’s worried, that’s why she sent me.”

Always keep your lies simple, Dad has told him, over and over again, but right now, Dean’s too upset to care. If this girl asks him, he’s happy to tell her his fictional gran once worked for the President and traveled to the freakin’ Moon.

Luckily, she doesn’t ask him anything.

“Okay. Well, he’s here alright, and it looks like he’s staying a while, so you’d better get home.”

“Thanks,” Dean says, but he doesn’t move.

Again, the girl checks if someone’s coming before adding, “You know what? Wanna help me out for a bit?”

“I - with what?” Dean asks, because he suddenly remembers there could be a shifter here; that this girl could be the shifter, in fact (and also, he’s upset, yes, but not too upset to notice she’s beautiful - she’s got big blue eyes and short hair all up in spikes and things and also a tattoo peeking out from her blouse, something of dark letters and flames).

“I’ve got three bags of empty bottles I need to throw in the dumpsters outside,” she says; and then she mistakes the hesitation on Dean’s face and adds, “Come on, cutie, I’ll even pay you.”

“You’ll pay me?”

Dad’s always saying Dean should hurry up with school and get to work already, because stolen credit cards don’t always pan out and while Dad works when he can - mostly as a mechanic, but he also does odd jobs - plumbing, repairs - money’s always tight.

“Why not? I’ll give you a kiss,” she says, winking, and then she turns around and disappears.

When she comes back, dragging a heavy black bag behind her, Dean’s still rooted to the spot.

“Can you take this? I’ll get the door open for you,” she says, completely oblivious to what Dean thinks must be really obvious - his heart’s beating so fast surely it must be visible through three layers of clothes?

“I - sure.”

The bag’s heavy, but Dean’s been getting stronger and stronger, and has little trouble with it. When all three bags are outside, the girl helps him to heave them into the dumpster, one after the other, and Dean can’t help noticing the way her breasts move under her white blouse. Looking away before he can embarrass himself, he forces himself to come to his senses - this town is dangerous, and this girl - no way she’d kiss him. She must be at least twenty-one if she works here, and - he is - he -

“Sorry, can’t let you in again,” she says, leaning against the doorframe to block his path, and Dean’s so distracted he almost bumps into her, has to take a step back.

He looks up at her face - she is really, really pretty, and he wonders - should he remind her of what she’s said, or -

But his thoughts must show on his face, because she tilts her head to the side, only just, and her smile widens, becomes almost predatory.

“So, ever been kissed before?”

“Lots of times,” he croaks, his mouth dry.

“Yeah? With tongue?”

“How else?”

The truth is, he’s this close to not even knowing what she’s talking about. Of course, Dean knows about kissing with and without tongue, but if there are other ways of doing it, he knows nothing about that, and he’s desperate not to let his ignorance on the subject shine through, which is why he licks his lips and steps closer to her.

“Come here,” he says, because this is what the men of his movies always say.

Only, well, they’re at least one foot taller than he is, and their voices don’t crack when they speak.

The girl laughs.

“My God, you’re adorable,” she says, and then adds, “How old are you?”

“Fifteen,” says Dean automatically, pushing his hands in his pockets.

Her eyes glint with amusement.

“Yeah, let’s go with that.”

To Dean’s panic, she takes a step forward as well, and now they’re almost nose to nose - or, they would be if Dean’s nose weren’t directly in front of her nipples. He swallows, tries to unsee it (the shape of her bra under the white cotton, the barely there pattern of lace almost visible through the fabric), to no avail.

“So, I’m here,” she says, tipping her head forward. “What now?”

Suddenly, she’s gentler, though. Maybe she’s sensed his fear, or maybe she doesn’t want to be overheard. The main street, after all, is less than a hundred feet away.

Dean hesitates, then looks up. He’s harder than he’s ever been in his entire life, and he’s really afraid he’ll come right here and now and be laughed at. Before he can decide to turn tail and run away, though, the girl brings her hand up - she touches his shoulder, then follows his arm all the way down, finds his hand, squeezes it gently.

“It’s okay,” she says, in a half whisper, placing his hand on her hip.

Dean is distracted by the strange new feeling - her slightly coarse jeans are very low-cut, and there is a strip of naked skin between her belt and her silky white blouse - Dean’s thumb makes slow circles against her side, and he almost stops breathing, because her skin is so soft, and -

Her other hand is playing with his hair now, gently at first, and then she almost tugs on it, tipping his head back.

Dean just closes his eyes, lets it happen.

Her lips against his own are everything and more, and when she licks his lips and pushes her tongue between his teeth, he suddenly starts and comes.

“Shit,” he says, stepping back. “I - shit.”

“What’s wrong?” she asks, and she’s confused for a second until she sees how hard Dean’s blushing, and the tell-tale wet patch on his jeans. “Oh, don’t worry. That’s a huge compliment for me, you know.”

Dean shakes his head, unconvinced, absolutely mortified. He wants, more than anything, to go back to his motel room and crawl inside his bed and die, but it feels rude to just run away, so he pushes his hands into his pockets again and looks down at the pavement, biting his lips.

It’s a miracle he manages not to cry.

“Hey, I mean it.”

The girl close the distance between them again, hugs him so tightly he can feel her breasts through his jacket.

“You’re a cutie alright,” she murmurs against his hair. “And one day, you’re going to break a lot of hearts. Now, come on - I have to get back to work.”

Again, she tugs on his hair, tilting his head back, and her lips are back on his. No tongue this time, just two quick open-mouthed kisses, and then a kiss on the tip of his nose.

“Time to go home and sleep, Romeo,” she says, opening the door behind her; and then she disappears inside the bar, and she’s gone.

Dean remains completely motionless for a full minute, then he brings his hand up, touches his lips. He can still feel her mouth on his, and the mere thought is getting him hard again.

“Fuck,” he says, in utter wonder, just because his mind is empty, his thoughts unscrambled, and that seems as good a word as any.

He breathes in, looks up at the sky. The lights of the nearby street, however, are too bright for him to see any stars, and after a moment, Dean turns around and walks away.

Chapter Text

“So, what did you do, really?”

Dean was already uncomfortable before that question, because Robin’s bedroom looks different and breakable , somehow (a few stuffed animals on the bed, glass figurines on the shelves, framed pictures of friends and relatives and someone who looks suspiciously like Kurt Cobain just over her desk), and now he’s downright nervous.

He looks around, picks up the guitar.

“Told you. I robbed a bank.”

“No you didn’t.”

“I robbed a train.”

“Nope.”

Dean adjusts the guitar on his knees, smiles without looking up. It’s been three weeks since he and Robin first kissed, and Dean’s discovered all sort of things in those three weeks. How something shifts in her eyes when she decides that it’s time to kiss him again (she seems to be good at deciding this stuff, so he just lets her be in charge of that), how she will always pull away after the first kiss to look at him and pass her hand on his cheeks and his lips before kissing him again. How her hair is very pretty and smells like vanilla, but is also annoying because it doesn’t actually taste like vanilla and it gets everywhere when they make out. How sometimes, when they’re really alone, she looks straight at him and smiles and does a tiny, secret gesture under her t-shirt, and he can see her breasts move under the cotton - how he’s always powerless to reach out and touch them, his fingers trembling a bit, and thank God she lets him, thank God she’s happy to let him, because Dean thinks he couldn’t stop himself if he tried. How she once looked in fascination at the wet patch on the front of his jeans and murmured, How can I make it do that again? (Dean had just stared at her, shame and worry leaking out of his heart as if from a clean glass, and then he’d pushed her down on the bed and they’d kissed and kissed and kissed).

So, yes, things are very good between him and Robin.

Not good enough to tell her about why he’s been arrested, though. Or what the family business is, exactly.

(All he’s told her: that he wants no part of it.

Which is true, and also the important part.)

“I robbed,” he says, passing his fingers on the strings and producing a random, discordant sound. “the White House.”

They’ve played this game before, but today Robin’s strange; unsettled, almost. When she doesn’t answer, Dean looks up, and sees she’s staring out of the window, her hands clenched tightly on her knees.

“Hey,” he says. “Something wrong?”

“Why were you arrested, Dean?”

He hesitates.

“I know it’s none of my business, and I hate myself for wanting to know - for not trusting you. But I still want to know. I want to know who you are.”

Something else Dean is learning: girls are freaking complicated. He doesn’t understand why she would want to know such a stupid thing, and what’s the connection between him stealing some food from a random shop and him being who he is. Whoever that might be. Surely there is no connection at all? And surely she can’t find one, she can't figure out who he is, since he doesn’t know himself? All his life, he’s been John’s boy - when he’s been anything at all, that is. Mostly it’s just the three of them, and Dean is simply the one who cares enough to make it work - the one who tries to cook for Sammy, who remembers when they’re almost out of clean clothes. The one who slips out and goes to hustle pool when Dad’s not around, or when he’s too drunk to work.

Because Dad never found Yellow Eyes, in the end. His disappearing acts have become longer, and when he’s back, he’s mostly drinking and staring at them both in - regret, perhaps, or even disgust.

Dean, of course, is a disappointment. He’s efficient and obedient, and he’s doing well with his training, but he never manages to do everything right. He always hesitates before coming to blows with anything, even a goddamn ghost. He’s always a split second too late, and that’s why he gets injured, and Dad seems to hate him for that.

“There’s them and there’s us, boy,” he’d told him once, pushing him hard against the car. “You blink and you’re dead, you get me?”

“Yes sir.”

Dad had softened a bit then, even passed his thumb, a bit roughly, over the cut on Dean’s cheek.

“You get one chance at killing something, Dean,” he’d said. “I know you got a good heart, but you gotta take it.”

And Dad is right, and Dean doesn’t get it. It’s not like he wants to keep those things alive - he knows they’re evil and someone must put them down, it’s just - it’s just -

And Sam’s no better, in a way. Most of the time he’s allowed to come along (and Dean has wondered, more than once, how much of it has to do with Dad needing a second pair of hands and being unwilling to leave Sam alone), and he’s pretty okay for a skinny kid - he’s determined and focused, and what he lacks in physical strength he makes up with his dexterity and quick thinking - and yet there’s something off about him. Dean knows Sam takes it seriously. Every day, Sam practices with Dean, and, unlike Dean, who’s more likely to push his body to the limits and keep running or shooting or forcing his left hand to be as good as his right (he’s gotten very good with the butterfly knife, but he’s still crap with the gun), Sam is disciplined and doesn't need to keep going until his head is empty. Maybe his head doesn't need emptying, or maybe he just likes having stuff inside it - after all, these days Sam spends as much time reading as he does practicing. He does his homework religiously, of course, but he seems to be working on other things as well - Dean’s spotted a Latin textbook, and also a very thick Bible which seems to have four languages in it (and two of them are written in gibberish). So, yes, Sam’s not letting them down, and yet he also is. He’s still angry at Dad, and, if anything, things are worse now, because Dad makes no effort to hide anything from him (“You don’t want to be lied to? Good! I’m fucking tired to protect your ungrateful ass!”) which means Sam is now seeing all he never saw before - Dad getting drunk, Dad hitting Dean, Dad patching Dean up without pain-killers because “You’re a man now, and it’s time you learned to get it together”.

So, well. Things are grim, and no way Robin would be interested in any of that.

No way she’d want him if she knew.

“I’m just me,” he says, uncomfortable.

“I’ve been honest with you,” she replies, very quietly. “I don’t know why you wouldn’t - why you don’t -”

Abruptly, she stands up, her hands still clenched into fists.

“Tell me why you got arrested or get out,” she says.

Dean has no idea what has gotten into her. Robin’s always so easy to be around - he’s talked and laughed more with her than he has in the first sixteen years to his life, with anyone, and yet now it looks like that’s not enough. That he’s not enough.

Slowly, he puts the guitar down, stands up as well.

“What about the dance?” he asks, uncertainly, and then realizes, a split second too late, that it was the wrong question to ask.

Something shifts on Robin's face, and her mouth trembles a bit.

“The dance? Is that why you’re with me? You think we’re going to - you think - get out.”

They haven’t talked about this, not really, but the thing has been on Dean’s mind, of course it has - both Matt and Paul have been boasting about it for days - they insist it’s really happening, that the girls are going to give it up after the dance, because Matt’s parents are going to be out of town and they all have steady girlfriends, after all - Matt and Sandy, Paul and Belinda, and - is it possible? he never knew this could be had - Dean and Robin. So, yes, there is a sort of plan, something Belinda told Sally and Sally told Matt, and Dean’s had his heart in his mouth for a week. In fact, he’s pretty sure that if he has to listen to one more joke about cherries, he’s going to punch someone, because the truth is - he doesn’t know if he wants to do that. Matt and Paul make it sound so easy - claim to have done it hundreds of times - and Dean’s always grinned and behaved as if he knew perfectly well what they were talking about. He’s told them about seeing two girls going at it from a motel window (a real thing, but sadly it hasn’t happened to him; it’s something he once overheard a diner), and he’s told them about that one girl who made him come with her mouth (another lie: Dean read about it in an old Playboy) and they’ve been suitably impressed.

But Matt and Paul are idiots - and Robin is Robin. Robin is everything, and she's done it before, and Dean doesn’t want to let her down. Because, what if he makes a fool of himself? Or, worse, what if he hurts her?

So in a way it’s good Robin’s kicking him out.

But Dean still hates it.

After all, he never wanted to hurt her, and yet she’s hurt now.

He takes a step closer to the door, puts his fingers around the handle, and the cold metal grounds him a little.

“I steal things, okay?” he says, looking at the cheap wood in front of him. “Sometimes I get away with it, and this time I didn’t.”

There is a long silence from behind him. Dean wants to turn around, but he can’t move, because if he moves, even an inch, he’ll start crying, and he won’t cry.

“Why were you arrested?” asks Robin in the end, very, very quietly.

Dean takes a deep, shuddering breath, and his hand closes more firmly on the door handle.

“You know that big convenience store just outside of Liberty? I took some stuff from them, and I was careless. A guard saw me. They tried to call my dad, but they couldn’t find him. And I’m sixteen, and things. So they sent me to Sonny’s.”

There is another pause.

“Just - don’t ask me why I did that. Please,” Dean says, and then it’s too much.

He opens the door, steps in the corridor outside.

It’s a Friday afternoon. Robin’s parents are still at work, but the house doesn’t feel empty. It feels - like a house, and that’s unusual enough for him to be wary (to feel lonely). Because, of course, this place is not efficient and not guarded in any way (Dean did carve a small protection sigil under the shelf of the bathroom cabinet the first time he’s been here, but he doesn’t know how long it’ll be before someone finds it and paints over it, or if it’s even effective) and it’s full of things and messy (drawings Robin made when she was five still tacked to her parents’ bedroom door, old library books, piles of newspapers, random arts and crafts things) - Dean knows it’d be a nightmare to fight off anything in a place like this, and that’s why he’d hate the house if he didn’t love it so damn much.

Suddenly, Robin’s fingers are in his belt loops, stopping him.

“I’m sorry,” she says, breathing against his back. “You’re right. You’re you. And it’s okay”

And, yes, girls are crazy, which means that when he turns around, Robin doesn’t leave him time to say anything - she kisses him, long and deep, hugs him closer when she feels him get hard in his jeans, pulls him with her until they fall together on the bed.

Dean tries not to put his full weight on her, but she doesn’t seem to care.

“It’s okay,” she says, again, carding her fingers through his hair, and then she pulls at his t-shirt until he sort of sits up and takes it off.

This is not new. What is new is that this time Robin sits up as well and takes off hers.

Dean can just stare. He couldn’t speak even if he knew what to say, and all those squishy things inside his belly - and he knows what they look like, he’s killed enough monsters to know the belly is full of red, wet things - somehow become very, very heavy, then disappear completely.

As he kneels on the bed, his jeans now so tight the fabric is probably going to tear, Robin looks down, then brings her hands back, undoes the clasp of her bra. It’s a simple white thing, with only a tiny amount of lace, but it might as well be directly connected to his heart and brain, because when Robin lets it fall down, only her hands now covering her breasts, Dean finds he’s very, very close to death.

“You first,” she says, suddenly shy, and Dean looks down stupidly at himself, because his t-shirt is already off, and it’s not the same, anyway - who cares about his stupid chest, about those few hair around his nipples, about the two thin scars disappearing inside his jeans?

If she thinks it compares in any way to what she is - the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen - then she's insane, and she just doesn’t get it.

But maybe she does, because she laughs, blushes a bit.

“I meant, you pants. Take them off.”

There’s nothing to be afraid of, because she’s touched him there already, but at the same time - those other few times, he’d snuck into her room at night and they’d kept the lights off, so they’ve never really seen each other. What if there’s something wrong with him? What if she thinks he’s weird? He knows she’s not a virgin, and it sucks that she knows what to do and he doesn’t.

“It’s okay, Dean,” she says again, and that’s why he stands up, undoes his belt, then the button and the zipper, and lets the jeans fall to the floor.

“The shorts as well?” he asks, clearing his throat a little, and it comes out all wrong, as if he’s about to see a doctor or some shit.

Robin bites her lip, and then she nods. When she sees him hesitate, she calls his name again, and then drops her hands so he can see her.

God, she’s beautiful.

“That’s unfair,” he says, trying not to touch himself (hell, trying not to come on the spot).

Her smile widens, and next she’s taking off her own jeans, and Dean can’t even focus on her panties, can’t even think about what’s underneath (he’s touched her there once, for about five seconds, but maybe he’d done something wrong because Robin had made him stop) because the movement is causing Robin’s breasts to move, and they become round, then less round, than almost flat again as she lies back on top of the covers.

“Come on,” she says, that’s when he finally does it - reasoning he’s been naked in front of people lots of times before (even though, a gym shower and this, right here: not the same thing at all), he pushes his shorts down and climbs back on the bed.

The room was already warm when they first got in, because it’s the beginning of June and a lazy sun has been shining through Robin’s orange draped for hours and hours, but now it’s a furnace; and yet, Dean cannot stop shivering.

“I don’t know,” he says, his teeth almost chattering. “I don’t know how.”

“Let’s just kiss for a bit.”

And so they kiss for a bit, and, slowly, the cold goes away - Dean melts against her, his left hand moving up and down her naked side, his thumb brushing against her right breast, making her sigh inside his mouth. Slowly, she pulls him on top of her, and at that point Dean sorts of loses any awareness of what’s even going on, because his dick’s so hot and heavy against her belly there’s nothing else he can think about; and when she finally puts a condom on him, peels off her panties, Dean is shivering again, and he’s not anything - he’s not the boy who got arrested for stealing, he’s not Sammy’s brother and he’s not the one who has to make sure Sammy has enough to eat and does okay in school and sleeps through the night (because Sammy still wakes up, still cries sometimes when he thinks Dean is asleep, even if now he’s too old to slither into Dean’s bed and curl against his back and make Dean’s t-shirt all wet with snot and tears). He’s not the person he fears he will become - someone who’ll follow Dad around for the rest of his life and kill things and never tell the truth to anyone and become a sad, violent drunk because that’s what hunters all seem to become - and he’s not even himself (Dean Winchester, sixteen years, four months and eight days spent on this Earth and all of them, or so it seems, hard and bloody; and also: Robin’s boyfriend).

No, when Robin shifts her hips up and guides him inside her, Dean isn’t anything. All he is exists around that stupid bit of flesh between his legs, and Dean hangs on to Robin for dear life, because it’s like he could float away or pass out or die at any moment.

God, it's tight.

And so, so warm.

Everything goes cold, then hot, and seems to slide in and out of focus - Robin’s slightly laboured breathing and her beautiful soft skin against his chest and mouth and her nails just this side of painful, dragging across his back - and Dean is caught unaware when it happens, because it’s different from how it normally happens, and also, he realizes, only a split second later, it’s way too soon, and he has no idea what’s going with her, and what he’s supposed to do next, and if he should get off her and take the condom off or not.

“I -” he says, and finds he doesn’t know what to do.

“Your face was really funny,” she replies, taking a deep breath, and Dean shakes his head at her, dips his face back against her neck and licks her until she starts giggling.

“I’ll show you funny,” he threatens, pinning her arms down and blowing raspberry against her skin until she’s howling with laughter.

Somehow, that makes him hard again, and when they try doing it a second time, things go much, much better.

When he finally makes it to Sonny’s, he’s late for dinner and can’t stop smiling.

“Looking forward to the dance?” Sonny asks, and Dean nods.

“Yes sir,” he replies, even if he’d forgotten all about it.

He could really do it, he thinks later that night, as he stares up at the ceiling and tries to tune off Brandon’s snoring. He could make a life for himself here, with Robin. They could finish school, and get a car and drive around the country - Dean knows the best places, he’s been everywhere, and Robin could play in bars and things - she’s so good, they could form a band together, or whatever, because to be honest, Dean would be perfectly happy to stay here as well, to be with Robin and take over the diner, some day, and Sonny would have free waffles every day and it’d all be perfect.

When he finally remembers his brother, the dream is still so vivid that it won’t be squashed. Because Sammy could live here with them, Dean thinks, vaguely, turning around and spying the bit of moon he can see through the window. He could stay here and go to school and then - he’s good enough for any New York college, so he could move there one day, could come up and see them on weekends - it could all work out - they could finally make it out -

Dean falls asleep, and then he wakes up, and a full day passes as he plans some kind of future and replays everything that happened between him and Robin - he has to lock himself in the bathroom twice to take care of a persistent hard-on - and is mostly happy with everything and everyone, even if today they’re painting the fence and it’s a tedious, tiring job.

So when Dad comes back, it feels like justice, really. Because, yes, Dean’s responsible for Sammy, but, in a way, he’s responsible for everything else as well - making sure Dad doesn’t drink himself to death, catching the fucker who killed mom, helping out people who are hurting and disappearing and dying because monsters are real and nobody else seems to be able or willing to fight them and yet someone has to.

And Dean had forgotten about all that. Dean had been selfish. He’s supposed to know better - he’s supposed to know it’s wrong to want things for yourself, because there’s a job that needs doing and people depending on him. So when the dreaded words come out of Sonny’s mouth (“He just said to tell you he had a job, said you'd know what that means.”), Dean holds his tears back and starts stripping, leaving his fancy clothes in the back of his closet (after all, it’s not likely he’ll ever need them again).

As he stands on the last step of the porch and turns back to look at the house, though, something breaks inside him.

He hasn’t promised Robin anything (neither of them used the word love, and Dean doesn't know what he feels for her, exactly, doesn't know what love is supposed to feel like), but going away still feels like breaking a promise.

“You alright?” Sonny asks, as Dad honks a second time.

“It’s just,” Deans says, without looking at him, and he can’t force the words out.

“I’ll talk to her,” Sonny says, after a short silence. “She’ll get it.”

Dean sort of nods, then turns and walks away. Whatever Sonny will say to Robin, it won’t make a difference. She gave him everything, and all he did in return was hurt her, because that's who he is. A disappointment and a failure.

“Guess what? Bobby got me a model plane,” Sam says, almost falling out of the window, his words fast and full of excitement. “We built it together. It flies, and everything.”

Dean smiles at him.

“Hey, Sammy. Tell me all about it,” he says, ruffling his brother’s hair.

And then he squares his shoulders and gets in the front seat, where he belongs.