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Stars Keep Marching

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Dean was royally drunk within an hour of their return to the Bunker. His bottle and glass smeared the marks Sam had left on the table, ruining Sam’s brilliant work that hadn’t meant jack shit in the end. Satan’s kid was on the loose, and the best he could say was that the nephilim hadn’t hurt Sam and there was no Lucifer around to warp the kid to his specs. But that just meant they had time to worry, and to consider what they’d lost.

Drinking contests with obnoxious Brits aside, he hadn’t been giving his alcoholism his focused attention in recent years, so he wasn’t holding his liquor as well as he should’ve been when Sam came to check on him.

He couldn’t look Sam in the face right now. Not after losing Mom, which didn’t even feel real yet. And not after Cas—after losing Cas. And every thought of Cas turned to the angel’s betrayal, years of their lives, of Dean’s trust, crumpled like trash. He’d told Cas that they’d work out their bullshit, which he should have known better than to say: jinxes were realer than God ever had been in Dean’s world, and hadn’t left them behind to check out a better universe.

Sam shuffled around the room, picking up books and putting them down, turning to Dean like he was going to say something and then turning away. Dean wanted to be annoyed enough to yell at him to fish or cut bait. Dean wanted a lot of things.

One last indrawn breath, and—“Dean,” Sam said, meaning ‘are you okay?’

This was his cue to ignore Sam, but the alcohol had loosened his tongue. “I’m so fuckin’ pissed at him. Skipped straight past denial—” though they’d all died too many times for him to believe all the way that this was for sure, niggling uncertainty almost worse than knowing it was forever. Anyhow, Dean could add anger to any of the other stages of grief, no matter what. “’s like when you left for Stanford,” he said, and knew instantly that it had come out wrong, of course. “You had your reasons, ‘n I didn’t have any right to ask you to stay. But I still—”

A pause, and Sam sat down next to him, folding his hands on top of some island in the middle of the ocean. “Cas broke your heart, and then you lost him,” Sam said.

Dean thought about denying it on general principles, then gave up the idea. He’d made Cas a mixtape, for fuck’s sake, even if he hadn’t let Sam know that. “Guess so.” There was about half an inch left in the bottle. He didn’t bother with the glass this time.

“I’m sorry,” Sam said. Slowly, like he expected to get punched, he reached out, covering Dean’s wrist with his huge paw, hot and a little sweaty. Dean’s pulse jumped, nerves fizzling across his skin like mini fireworks. He should rip himself away, hide himself in his room, but Sam’s touch held him chained.

It made a sick, sad kind of sense that they were only talking about this elephant when it was no longer in the room—when Dean’s crush on the angel had been revealed for the sad delusion it had always been.

He didn’t understand what was so wrong with him that made him never enough, never worth staying for. Or, no, he did, but he didn’t understand why people would put up with him long enough for him to believe, to start to hope—

“Dean,” Sam said, distressed and pulling back, and sweet fuck was Dean crying? His eyes burned.

Anger, right. Sam could deal with that, by now, unlike his stupid weak grief. “So why aren’t you all messed up?” Dean demanded. “Thought we were all family now.” He wasn’t even going to mention Mom, not when she wasn’t dead, ashen feathers spread out like angelic skid marks. “He just—he stole from us, and it got him killed. You should be—you should want him back just so you can strangle him.”

Sam reached out and snagged the bottle before Dean could smash it to the floor to emphasize his point. But as Dean snarled at him, he noticed the guilty twitch of Sam’s mouth. The fuck did Sam have to be guilty about?

“Sam?” he said, quiet and focused now. “Wanna share with the class?”

Sam’s shoulders hunched. He sat down next to Dean, looking downwards as if the secret to life were encoded on the backs of his hands. Which Dean couldn’t entirely rule out, but he didn’t think that was what was on Sam’s mind. “I don’t—” Sam said, stopped, and began again. “I don’t want to hide things from you. But my answer—it’s gonna hurt you, and you don’t need that right now.”

Well, now Dean really needed to know. “Spit it out,” he said. In general, fuck honesty, but this had the sound of something that was going to fester inside Sam until it exploded if he didn’t lance the wound now. Anyway Dean was too drunk to run away and too drunk to beat Sam up, so this was probably the best moment to spring another terrible thing on him.

Sam took a deep breath, let it out. Before Dean could nag him further, he began to speak, still not looking up but clear as a crystal ball. “I’m not letting myself get angry at Cas because if I started, if I let myself think about how he took everything you meant to him and stomped on it, how he spit on the best thing that ever happened to him—I’m gonna end up thinking how I did the exact same thing.”

Dean felt his face scrunch up in drunken incomprehension.

Sam swallowed. “I know—I know you don’t love me the way you used to, before Ruby and everything else. And it’s okay,” he hurried on. “I get it. You’re right. It’s not your job to give that to me. But you gave him your whole heart, like you used to for me, and I. I can’t afford to bring all that up again, not now. We’ve got way too much to do for me to sit around feeling bad about what I did.”

Dean felt like he’d been hit with his own grenade launcher. Sam thought—

They hadn’t been more than brothers for years, not since Hell and after, and Dean had always figured that it was because Sam had been disgusted with Dean’s weakness when he came back, or afraid Dean would find out about the demon blood, or both. Then they’d been out of the habit and, well, a lot of shit had gone down. But for Sam to think it was because Dean had felt less—that was flat-out batshit.

Sam was still staring at his hands. “Anyway,” Sam said. “We should probably get some rest.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so,” Dean said, and Sam’s head snapped up, fast enough that Dean’s own head spun a bit. Of fucking course Sam would pull this when he was plastered. Dean needed a BB gun level for emotional conversations and he was getting a sniper rifle. He swallowed, but Sam was clearly going to run if he delayed, so he started talking, kind of curious to see what was going to come out.

“You fuckin’ moron,” he said, and hated himself only a little bit more at Sam’s flinch. “Sure, I was pissed. For a long time. And I fucked a lot of things up, and, yeah, there were times when it wasn’t the same. Christ, Sam, we’ve spent thirty years together. But just because sometimes I didn’t have a lot to give, it don’t mean I don’t love you with everything I got.”

Sam opened his mouth to say something about Cas, and Dean waved a hand to shut him up.

“Cas’s got nothin’ to do with it. How I feel—there’s no less for you.” He felt stupidly like his mom, explaining to him that a new baby wouldn’t mean her love for him shrank any. Which was sick for all kinds of reasons. But still true. “There will never be any less for you, no matter what.”

Well, that felt awful. “Gonna throw up now,” he said, and headed for the kitchen sink because it was closer than the bathroom.

He should’ve known that even tossing his cookies (make that his whiskey) wouldn’t be enough to drive Sam away, not when they were both as raw and exposed as a bone sticking out of torn skin.

He took the glass Sam handed him and filled it with enough water to rinse out his mouth, but stayed hunched over the sink, feeling his shoulders rise further under Sam’s scrutiny.

“Dean,” Sam said, like he hadn’t in years, like he was praying. The way Dean always felt his own ‘Sammy’ came out. Dean turned his head, only a fraction of an inch but it was enough to let Sam know, and before he could think further they were hugging desperately. He kept his cheek pressed to Sam’s shoulder, if only to spare him the whiskey-and-acid breath, and felt Sam’s arms wrap around him. The familiar stab of resentment that Sam was somehow twice as big as him throbbed, then subsided into the deep satisfaction of being held in Sam’s octopus arms.

“I never stopped,” he admitted, breathing wetly into the cotton of Sam’s flannel shirt. Sam shuddered, not at all with horror. He could feel Sam’s dick hardening through the layers of their jeans and shorts, and in other circumstances he would’ve smirked at Sam’s eagerness; there was no chance he could reciprocate with this much alcohol in his veins. Most days, he would’ve rolled over for Sam anyway, just because, but he had the feeling that wouldn’t be the greatest start to this reunion.

Sam relaxed his grip fractionally, as if he’d heard Dean’s internal debate. “We should get some rest,” he suggested. “Tackle all this tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” Dean agreed, letting Sam go reluctantly.

“Can I—can I stay with you tonight?” Sam’s eyes were ridiculously soulful, and yes Dean knew the term had special force when it came to Sam, but he’d been a sucker for them for years before that had been true.

Dean hesitated, afraid that this would be another of Sam’s decisions he later decided was rotten. Sam read him easy as Latin. “A couple of days ago, you trusted me enough to let me go. Trust me enough to let me stay.”

Dean closed his eyes and breathed in. Even through his own stink, he could smell Sam—sweat, the sweetness of old books, a trace of something herbal. “Okay,” he said.

He managed not to bounce off of any walls on his way to the bathroom by sheer force of will. His hands didn’t shake as he brushed his teeth, though his movements might’ve been more exaggerated than a sober man’s. He managed to avoid his reflection by splashing his face with water. Stripping down to his shorts and a T-shirt with holes under both arms, he bundled his jeans and overshirt into the hamper and tried to make a mental note to do the laundry, but his attempts to stay normal were just attempts and he knew he’d forget as soon as he saw Sam.

The corridors seemed hushed, the worn-smooth floor cool against his socked feet. Someday he’d have to do a real Tom Cruise slide past Sam’s open door, ideally when Sam was in the middle of a complicated thought. Now it was enough to see Sam sitting on the edge of Dean’s bed, waiting for him in his own room. Sam must’ve snuck off to a more distant bathroom, because he looked ready to turn in—T-shirt only slightly less disreputable than Dean’s, ridiculous black boxer-briefs that hugged his thighs tightly enough to make Dean’s teeth ache to bite his way across those inner curves, and nothing else. Dean knew Sam’s bare hairy feet would climb their way around Dean’s own in the night, Sam’s extremities cold even under the covers because even his big heart couldn’t push the blood all the way to the ends of his overgrown body. He shuddered with it, with wanting Sam back, all the time they’d lost irrelevant with the sweetness of now.

Sam’s smile was the shy one that he’d learned to fake charming witnesses; they were all missing out, because Dean got the real thing. Sam’s head was ducked just a bit so that his hair shadowed his temples; his eyes were squinty with tiredness and still some uncertainty, which eased off as Dean stared at him.

Making up his mind, Sam turned and tugged back the covers, then rolled into the space he’d made and looked up at Dean, inviting him into his own damn bed. Dean couldn’t even pretend to be irritated, though. He followed, drawn into Sam’s orbit.

They ended up with Sam as the big spoon. Dean didn’t mean to tease, even though he could feel Sam’s half-hard dick bumping up against his ass. He just—Sam needed to hold him, he thought, and Dean knew he needed to be held, even if he was never going to say it.

Then he was crying, silent and ugly, shaking in Sam’s arms. He hadn’t meant to do that.

Sam’s arms tightened around him. “It’s okay,” Sam said into his ear, his breath puffing warm and moist against Dean’s skin. Sam was rock steady, unbreakable, at least for now, when Dean needed him to be. “It’s okay to be mad, it’s okay to miss him, it’s—it’s okay to love him.”

Through the messiness clouding his own head, Dean appreciated Sam’s attempt; Sam never had liked to share his toys, even with people he cared about. He reached for Sam’s hand, tucked around him, and put his hand on top of Sam’s, lacing their fingers together. Sam’s bony knuckles ground into his palm, but that was okay.

He didn’t notice falling asleep.


Consciousness returned with a headache (that was probably good news in the sense that he wasn’t currently enough of an alcoholic to skip the hangover) and the feeling of being sweat-damp all over, because Sam was a goddamn furnace from the shins up and had still pulled the blankets over them both.

Now that he was awake, he could tell that Sam had been touching him—specifically, playing with his nipples. They weren’t sensitive enough for the touch to have woken him, at least not starting from a post-drunk sleep, but Sam knew that if he worked them long enough they’d start to send shocks of pleasure-pain through Dean at every pinch, which made Dean a lot more likely to go along with whatever Sam wanted to do next.

Sure enough, Sam rubbed his shirt right over the already-sensitive skin, and Dean didn’t repress his half-gasp.

Sam smiled into his neck. “’m not fucking you before you brush your teeth,” Dean grumbled.

“Drunk pot, meet kettle. Anyway you have those mints by the bed.”

Dean weighed the costs of getting up versus the benefits of fluoride, and faster sex won out—for the moment, anyway. He flailed out and found the mints Sam had mentioned while Sam fondled him some more.

After that it was only a matter of twisting in place and flipping Sam onto his back so he could straddle Sam. Along with finding the mints, Sam had abandoned his t-shirt, which was thoughtful of him.

Dean looked down. Sam opened his mouth to say something, then shut it, annoying fondness softening his expression. Whatever; Dean was going to look his fill. Sam’s body had been through so many changes. The bulging muscles he’d carried for years, and only lost some of during the Trials, had now been joined by the bulk of a strong man in his thirties. Dean hadn’t really thought they’d live that long, but seeing this new variety of Sam’s beauty was one of the unexpected benefits. Golden skin, hot under Dean’s hands, stretched over bone and tendon and solid muscle. Sam had a small, wiry puff of hair on his chest, between his pecs, and then a fuzzy, elongated triangle leading down past his navel, disappearing into the waist of his boxers.

Dean would’ve been blushing under similar scrutiny, but Sam’s modesty had never been about his appearance. It wasn’t until Dean dipped his head to nibble his way from the mole on Sam’s left shoulder to the one below his right pec that Sam’s breathing started to speed up.

“You gonna wait until I die of boredom?” Sam griped, shifting so that his still-covered cock brushed against Dean’s chest. (Smooth move, honestly, because he managed to graze Dean’s nipple, but Sam got freaked out when Dean praised him too much during sex, for reasons that a shrink could probably explain.)

Dean smirked, but he’d never been good at making Sam wait, so he raised himself up enough to let Sam move, hitched his fingers in the elastic waistband of Sam’s boxer-briefs, and tugged. Sam’s hips came up and then there was some awkward scrambling at the end of which they were both naked. Sam’s hard-on tickled a line up Dean’s chest as he eased himself down to get it in his mouth.

He’d forgotten how much he loved this, taking Sam inside and making him shake, taking away Sam’s big words and complicated thoughts until there was nothing but want. The skin of Sam’s cockhead was so soft, delicate really, porelessly smooth over the yielding flesh underneath, nothing like the rest of their calloused and scarred bodies. The skin on the rest of his dick was soft too, interrupted by thick ropy veins and a couple of moles. Sam was usually impatient by this point, but once in a while over the years Dean had been able to take his time, and he could’ve drawn an obscene picture from memory. Now, his fingers stroked from one raised dot to another before he took a firmer grip, timing it just as he took more of Sam’s length down his throat. In response Sam groaned and tried to punch his hips up, stopped only by the bar Dean had made of his free arm, holding Sam in place. Dean was a planner like that. Sam’s hipbones ground against Dean’s wrist and his upper arm, sharp and so real.

“Dean!” Sam’s voice was as urgent as if he were warning of a ghost behind Dean, only full of desire instead of fear. Dean could’ve gone another half hour like this, but he took pity on Sam and pulled back, letting Sam’s spit-gleaming dick slap against his belly.

Like that, Sam had him on his back, pinning his wrists and looming over him like they were sparring. Dean couldn’t suppress his smirk. Sam was as reliably toppy as ever, not that Dean minded the manhandling when it was this man doing the handling. He should remember that one, he thought, but then Sam’s mouth was on him and he gave himself over to their mutual hunger. His now-freed hands framed Sam’s face, thumbs scraping against Sam’s stubble while the rest of his fingers tangled in Sam’s hair, silky smooth in contrast. Maybe Sam liked the hair because it was unscarred, undamaged by their lives—or maybe he liked it because of how it felt when Dean tugged, something Dean tested and was justly rewarded by Sam’s low growl.

Sam’s own hands were more restless, covering huge swathes of Dean’s skin like he was checking to see what might’ve changed, tweaking his nipples and moving away before Dean could do more than pulse his hips up. Sam took the opportunity to slide his hands under Dean’s body, sliding down Dean’s lower back and cupping his ass. Sam broke the kiss for a groan as he squeezed. Dean was breathless himself, body memory reminding him what came next as he ground up against Sam’s cock and the warm weight of Sam’s body behind it.

Sam had also planned ahead, for his part: when his other hand joined the first, tugging at Dean’s asscheeks, his fingers were slick with already-warm lube. It was simple, like working a salt-and-burn together, and Dean let his body open to Sam, following his lead once again. Sam pulled back and checked Dean’s expression. After so many years together, it was easy for them to have this particular conversation without words—yeah, Dean was ready, no point in dilly-dallying—and then he was pushing inside, his dick thick and relentless. Dean welcomed him in. Homecoming, he thought, and wasn’t even embarrassed (it wasn’t like he’d said it out loud).

Dean let his eyes close so he could concentrate on the sensations: skin sweat-sliding, his knees squeezing Sam’s ribcage, the way Sam was spearing inside him, heat and pressure radiating out from where they were joined. The smell of them was thick, overwhelming the Bunker’s usually supernaturally efficient air exchange systems, a private cloud where they were safe and still thrilled, shaking with pleasure, wound so tight that nothing could stop the explosion from tearing them apart and putting them back together.

He swam up to consciousness with Sam tangled hot and sticky around him. Sam was rubbing circles on his back, petting him really, which Dean didn’t have the energy to be annoyed about. In a few minutes he’d get up and make breakfast, but his limbs were still heavy and tingling and he wasn’t going to give that up before he had to.

“What you said last night,” Sam said. Dean thought about groaning, but his he-man exterior was pretty well shattered already. Sam knew the real deal, and from the evidence, he didn’t think it was all that shameful. “Me too, okay? We’re gonna get through this like we get through everything else. Together.”

A crack about having each other’s backs, and asses, occurred to him, but—contrary to what Sam thought—Dean was occasionally capable of interrupting the brain-to-mouth circuit. He knew this was far from the end of their troubles. Even setting aside Lucifer’s kid and Cas’s—and Cas, they weren’t going to stop disagreeing, or taking dumb chances. But maybe that was the point: what they had was strong enough to survive even their stupidest moments. Once upon a time, he might’ve resented that his love for Sam was a never-emptied tank. Now he knew better.

He pulled back so that he could look Sam in the eyes—well, except for the nest of Sam’s hair in the way, but close enough. “Yeah,” he said, meaning ‘I believe you’ and all the other things he still had trouble saying out loud.

He trusted Sam to understand.