I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three. ~ Author Unknown
When brothers agree, no fortress is so strong as their common life. ~Antisthenes
Sam hears the concern in Dean's voice; hears the confusion and the uncertainty, and wishes he could do something, say something, to alleviate it. All he can do is hang on, hold tight and hope to absorb some of Dean into himself.
"Enough," he manages, finally, his voice more than a little rough with the hysteria he's barely kept at bay all these fuck, how many, he doesn't know, lost track so long ago what's the use in keeping count when he's all alone now months. "Wait. What do you remember?
"I remember you were pretty whacked out yesterday. I remember catching up with the Trickster. That's about it."
Thank God. Bad enough he remembers. And will never, ever forget. "Let's go."
Sam forces his face into a small smile. "No breakfast."
"All right, I'll pack the car."
No. Jesus God, never again, please. Though Sam knows eventually he'll have to let Dean out of his sight, he's not planning on it being any time soon--and definitely not today. "Wait, you're not going anywhere alone."
"It's the parking lot, Sam." Dean's frowning at him, confusion etching a vee between his brows.
"Just--just trust me." Never going to let you go, Dean. I can't. I don't care what the Trickster thought he was trying to teach me.
Too long a pause, because Dean's frown deepens. "Hey, you don't look so good. Something else happen?"
Sam shakes his head. "Just had a really weird dream."
God, if only.
"Clowns or midgets?" Dean's face is open, his smile like a quick burst of warm sunlight before he ducks out the door.
Sam stares at the room, the bed, wonders if he's really awake and Dean's really alive, or if this is just the same dream, same day, same everything. Clowns would be welcome, actually.
"You okay?" The vee is back between Dean's eyebrows, and Sam blinks.
"I know I'm good lookin', dude, but you haven't stopped staring since we left the motel this morning. I got something on my face? Miss some soap or toothpaste, or something?"
Sam flushes. He's been watching Dean -- can't seem to look away God, just one time if I glance away he'll be gone, dead, it'll start all over again or I'll be completely alone again for months and months -- and he knows it, but he thought maybe Dean hadn't noticed.
"Sorry," he mumbles, and glances out the window as the Georgia landscape flies by.
The Trickster might've been trying to teach him a lesson, but what does an immortal God like a Trickster know of love? What does he -- it -- know about sacrifice, and want, and need? When has it ever needed someone like Sam needs Dean, and vice versa?
"Hey, you hungry? I'm starving." Dean's voice pulls Sam out of his thoughts, and when Sam glances at him, he's still tapping on the steering wheel, dividing his attention between the road and Sam. "Someone didn't let me have breakfast this morning."
I couldn't stand it if I had to watch you eat Pig-in-a-Poke again. Or choke on sausage. God, Dean.
"Sure, I could eat. Not a diner, though, huh?" Sam's pretty sure he's never going to be able to eat at a diner again. Ever. Especially not for breakfast. Probably never going to have tacos again, either. Or fish. Or let Dean have any of those.
Dean takes the first exit that has a Steak 'n' Shake, and Sam's kind of surprised to realize he actually is hungry. He feels like he's waking up for real for the first time in forever months and months and months, and for the first time in that long, he has an appetite. He doesn't remember the last time he ate something and actually tasted it--
--slice stab chew swallow start the process over again beef chicken pork bread vegetables oatmeal drink eight glasses of water need coffee coffee no time for fancy drinks Dean laughs laughed at him for slice stab chew swallow until the plate is clean.
"Earth to Sam." Dean's waving his hand in front of Sam's face, frown pulling the corners of his mouth downward. It's hard, but Sam wrenches his focus back from that dark place in his head and on his brother, close enough to him that Sam can feel/smell/see that he's alive, solid, right there with Sam. "Sam!"
"You're sure you're okay? You been kind of…off…all morning." The driver's side door creaks a little as Dean gets out, and Sam is positive he can see Dean making a mental note to oil it, later.
"Yeah, no, I'm good. Just kinda--tired." Sam bumps against Dean as they walk into the restaurant, shoving down the urge to wrap his arms around him and hold on tight.
"Right. Midget and clown dreams." Dean doesn't look like he's buying it, but will let it go. "Uh. Sam. Personal space, dude?"
"Oh--sorry. Yeah." Sam backs up a millimeter or two and tries to ignore the voice screaming at him to get closer, closer, don't look away.
Not that it mattered at all in Florida. Dean died over and over while he watched. Died in his arms.
"You're not coming down with something, are you?"
Sam glances up from the menu, not remembering the hostess seating them. "What? No. I'm fine. Really."
"Uh-huh." Dean gives him another look, then a smile. "I think it's been forever since we ate at one of these. They have the most awesome shakes."
Sam doesn't know what to say to that, if anything needs to be said. Instead, he nods and tries to pretend he's actually more sane than he feels. Right now, he feels like he's teetering on the edge.
Dean goes back to reading the menu, lips moving as he scans it. Sam glances away, trying not to think of them bloodied; so many of the deaths Dean had were violent ones.
The paper placemat crumples in his fist, one sharp edge cutting into the side of Sam's finger. The brief sting brings him back to the here and now, in time to give his order to the waitress: double steakburger, pepperjack cheese, mustard and pickles, an order of onion rings, bowl of chili and a chocolate shake. He blinks when Dean snickers and tells the waitress just to double that order.
"Sure thing, sweetie. Y'all need anything else to drink? Tea, soda, water?" She's not pretty, but she has a sweet, honest face and eyes that look tired beneath the service-with-a-smile smile she's wearing.
"I'll have a glass of water please," Sam says, and Dean says, "a Coke for me," and she smiles once more and sashays away. It almost looks like she's moving in time to the oldies songs pumping out of unseen speakers.
"So you got any leads on a job?" Dean's leaning back against the vinyl booth, casual and relaxed, and Sam closes his eyes for a minute. It's been one day, for Dean. One short, over-and-done-with day.
"No," he manages finally, voice faint. "I, uh. Can we just take a day off? Drive a while longer, then stop for the night? We can look around for jobs tomorrow."
"Sam--" Whatever Dean's about to say is interrupted when the waitress appears with their drinks.
"Chili'll be up in a few minutes, boys." She smiles, distracted by the large party being seated right behind them. "I'll check back with you before then."
"Sure," Sam says, grabbing up his water. "Thanks."
Dean doesn't try to pick up the conversation again, though he throws puzzled and concerned looks at Sam every couple of minutes. Their food comes in fits and starts: bowls of chili first, burgers and onion rings next, shakes appearing when they're about halfway through. Sam closes his eyes and savors the food, but it's more than that. It's Dean, slurping noisily across from him, quiet grunts and wet sounds as he chews and swallows, enjoying his food as Dean almost always does.
Months of nothing but his own sounds, his own voice, just him. Months.
Sam's struck by the sudden realization that he's never going to be able to get close enough, long enough, to satisfy the need humming through him. It's like a tickle; he needs Dean -- needs to touch him, hold him, feel his heart thumping beneath Sam's palm and hear his breath whooshing in and out. That he's running out of time, knowing what the future without Dean looks like…feels like, makes pain shiver through him, a physical sensation he doesn't know how to block or stop.
"Something wrong with your burger, sweetie?" The waitress is back, giving Sam a puzzled look. Dean's looking at him like he wants to ask the same thing, and Sam shakes his head slowly.
"No, sorry. Just--no. It's fine."
Their waitress -- Marcy, her tag reads, and Sam wonders why it took him this long to notice -- nods. "I'll leave the ticket, but if there's anything else I can get for you, just let me know, okay, boys?"
"Will do." Dean gives her the patented melt-their-panties-off-of-'em smile and snags the ticket out of her hand. "Thanks, sweetheart." Another glance at Sam, and he asks, "do you want to stop here?"
"No." Sam definitely doesn't. There isn't enough highway yet between them and Florida. "Let's just--let's drive a while longer, okay?"
He crowds up behind Dean when they pay for their lunch, and shadows close behind him walking back to the Impala. Sticks like a burr to him when they stop to get gas, and again at the rest stop a couple hundred miles up the road. Sam doesn't need to use the bathroom, but he'll be damned if he lets Dean go anywhere he can't see him…and since he hasn't figured out how to see through bricks, well.
And if Dean grumbles about it, Sam doesn't care. Dean wasn't the one left behind over and over again.
They've been on the road for over twelve hours, and the sun's just about down. It's that magical hour of twilight, when the night music begins: a chorus of frogs, crickets, whip-poor-wills and assorted other bugs and critters. Most of the time it soothes Sam; he has a lot of fond memories of twilight, stuck in this motel or that, or sometimes hanging out in a house or cabin if they were staying put for a while. It's a little early in the year yet for lightning bugs, but Sam remembers running around Bobby's yard with an old mayonnaise jar, holes already punched in the lid, just waiting for the bugs to come out. More distant memories provide him with Dean doing the same, showing him how to scoop them into the jar. Many nights at Bobby's they went to sleep with a jar of lightning bugs as a nightlight.
"You ready to stop for the night?" Dean is uncharacteristically gentle, his voice softer than Sam's heard it in a while. Don't think about how long you didn't hear it for. "Or do you want to drive a while longer?"
"Nah, this is good." Sam sighs. "I just--needed some distance between me and Florida."
"So I gathered." Dean glances at him, one eyebrow raised. "You gonna tell me what that was all about?"
Sam shakes his head. There's no way he can talk about it without losing the little bit of grip he's managed today.
"Wanna hit a bar, see about some pool with the locals?" Dean's obviously scanning the area as he drives, unerringly finding the area of town with no-tell motels and bars lining the streets, gaudy neon signs flashing half-lit "V can y" or some variation of it.
"Find a motel first. I wanna shower the road off."
"Good plan." Dean hums approvingly and soon enough is guiding the car into a parking lot with a sign that promises vacancies, and rooms-by-the-week with kitchenettes.
His hands are shaking by the time Dean's finished showering and shaving, and Sam sends up a quick prayer that all this anxiety eases quickly, because Dean's starting to look at him like he's lost his mind completely.
He forgets how sneaky his brother can be, though, when he knows Sam's hiding something from him. That's his first mistake.
Mistake number two is letting Dean get the drinks and not paying attention to how many he's had. The tequila burns going down, but settles to a tempered warmth in his stomach that spreads out, loosening everything up. Before too long, Sam's feeling more relaxed than he has in ages. Relaxed enough to smile and raise his beer in salute when Dean clears the pool table for the second time.
By the time Dean slides into the booth beside him -- nice, but really unexpected -- Sam is pretty well on to drunk. Not so drunk he can't sit upright by himself, no. It's Dean's fault for being so warm and close -- close and warm and alive -- that makes Sam slump over so he's practically cuddling against Dean.
"You'd think a guy as big as you could hold his liquor better," Dean mutters, but he's relaxed against Sam, arm just brushing against the back of Sam's neck when he stretches it out along the back of the booth. "I know you been drinking long enough; I gave you your first booze."
"Mmm. Was nasty, too. Straight Jack. Thought I was gonna puke it right back up." Sam squints at Dean. "Wha' was I, fourteen?"
"Yeah." Dean snickers. "Got you drunk for your birthday. Dad was so pissed."
"Me too, next mornin'." Even now, more than halfway to plastered, Sam remembers that first hangover. "Hangover from hell," he says, the words soft and unformed in his mouth. "Wanted to die. Wanted to kill you." And, God. With those words, Sam goes rigid against Dean; feels Dean's arm move against him when he sighs.
"I know." Dean's fingers are light, gentle, ruffling the short hairs on the back of Sam's neck. A few minutes of careful petting makes Sam relax back against Dean's side, the alcohol buzzing through him until he feels boneless again. Dean's voice seems far, far away when he says softly, "You gotta talk about it some time, Sammy. It'll fester inside you, otherwise."
"Can't," Sam mutters. "Hurts too much. Y'were gone, and it hurt." Images flash through his mind: Dean dying from a gunshot. Hit by a car. Flattened by a desk. Choking on food. Slipping in the shower. Electrocuting himself. Dead by Sam's own hand, fighting over a stupid axe. He chokes on the bile rising in his throat and elbows Dean. "Move--gotta. Gonna--"
He makes it to the bathroom just in time to bring up everything in his stomach, retching until there's nothing left and all he can do is dry heave.
Dean's a solid, silent presence behind him while he heaves; afterward he hands Sam a damp paper towel to wipe his mouth and face on. When Sam's sure his stomach is reasonably settled, Dean guides Sam out of the bar and into the Impala.
"He lied," Sam says softly, when they're back inside the car. It's kind of funny in a way: the only place he ever feels safer than inside the car…is beside Dean. He'll blame Dean, and feeling safe, for the words that surge up and out without his permission. "Stupid lying son-of-a-bitch." The words are bitter, tinged with acid, burning his tongue. "Said it--it wouldn't happen again."
"The Trickster?" Dean's voice is soft; as gentle moving around Sam as his fingers were on the back of Sam's neck earlier.
"Yeah." Over and over and over. Like a carousel he couldn't get off from. The words want out now, and Sam's too tired and still too drunk to stop them. "Said he was teachin' me a lesson, wha' life would be like without you. That I couldn't save you, no matter what I did. An' I didn't know there were so many ways to die, and it kept going on and on. When I figured it out, he--I was ready to kill him. Had the stake and everything."
"Right." Dean nods, and Sam knows he remembers at least some of that. "But you didn't." The interior of the car is lit with the sodium lights from the parking lot; Dean's face is partially shadowed, one eye dark and hidden, but Sam sees the sadness there.
"No. He said if I couldn't take a joke then that was it, we'd be out of it, I'd be out of it and when I woke up it'd be tomorrow, I mean today--it'd be Wednesday. I said he was lying and I should kill him and he said no. That if he was lying, we'd know where to find him."
"But it is Wednesday."
Sam swallows hard, bile rising in his throat. "It's Wednesday--again," he says, coughing against the urge to hurl.
"Again? What? Wait--you gonna be sick again?" Dean tenses beside him, and Sam shakes his head roughly.
"No. I--no." He swallows over and over until he's sure he isn't, then raises his head to look at Dean. "The--the first time it was Wednesday, you--you died. Again. Went down to pack the car, and I dunno. I heard a gunshot and when I got downstairs, you were already--I couldn't--and I couldn't get my hands clean, Dean. No matter how many times I washed 'em, and your blood, it was, there was so much of it. Everywhere. And I didn't--I didn't wake up again. It didn't start over. It just. You were gone." Sam coughs once more, and gets the door open just a split second before the bile comes up again.
Dean rubs his back gently while he pukes, dry heaving until his stomach muscles ache. Over the sounds of his retching Sam hears, "s'okay, Sammy. It's okay. I'm here, I gotcha."
"Six months," Sam gasps around the bitter aftertaste. "You were dead, six months, an' I kept trying, I kept hunting, but I felt so fucking empty, like I was dead too--" He's not full-on sobbing or anything, but tears have lurked so close to the surface for so long, and like with the words he's too tired and too drunk to hold them back.
"Shhh. Sam. Sammy. It's okay, bro." Dean's hands are large and warm on Sam's face, cupping and stroking, wiping away tears and snot and spit with a bandana pulled from under the seat. "Let's get you to bed, okay? Think you're okay for the drive back to the motel?"
"Yeah." Sam closes his eyes and leans back against the seat, wishing the swirling images in his head would just go the fuck away.
It's quiet in the car; Dean switches the radio off as soon as he starts the engine. It's nice to hear the familiar hum and growl; Sam finds it almost as soothing as Dean does. He listens to the sound of the transmission shifting, wishing he could get lost in it.
"Sam." Dean's voice is soft, just a hint of a question, full of hesitation. "You said--you said it's Wednesday again?"
"He gave you back," Sam says, eyes still closed against the world. "I don't--I don't know why, but he did. When we, when I, got up this morning you were there and it was Wednesday again and the whole six months hadn't happened." Sam sighs and turns enough to see Dean when he opens his eyes. "But I can't forget 'em."
Dean reaches out and gives Sam's hair a gentle tug. "I'm sorry, dude."
He doesn't move his arm or hand, and its weight and heat are enough to help Sam relax for the remainder of the trip back to the motel.
He wakes well before dawn -- there isn't even the faintest hint of light around the edges of the curtains -- and for a split-second panic thumps through him wildly, spurred on by the dreams he had, sure that he's by himself in a motel room, that Dean is still dead and gone. It's only when Dean mutters something in his sleep and shifts, that Sam remembers Dean's alive, he's here, and the panic fades.
He turns on his side to watch Dean sleep, smiling a little at the sight. The only time his brother looks young and carefree is when he's sleeping; the years and weight of responsibility slide away to leave innocence and a sort of peace Dean hasn't known in decades. Not for the first time Sam regrets leaving, going to Stanford. He feels vaguely disloyal to Jess for that thought -- does, every time he thinks it -- but if he'd known then what he knows now--
--like, that he was going to lose his brother.
How much he needs his brother.
How much he loves his brother.
Dean wrinkles his forehead and smacks his lips before shifting and rolling over onto his stomach, a small snort of laughter following him. Sam smiles faintly, glad Dean's dreams are pleasant. One of them should enjoy sleep. Sam's not sure he's ever going to, again.
The headache he's been doggedly ignoring since waking up decides it's not going to be ignored any longer. Sam crawls out of bed and into the bathroom, leaving the door partially open. He doesn't want to wake Dean up, but his raging paranoia and anxiety need at least a nod toward them and that's the best he can do right now.
Dean's awake when Sam comes out of the bathroom, though he isn't up. He's sort of propped up against his pillows, arms folded across his chest.
"You get any sleep last night?" He still sounds sleepy, but not pissed like Sam would've expected, for being woke up at oh-dark-hundred.
"Little bit." At least his head doesn't hurt so bad any more. "Want breakfast?" His own stomach turns at the thought of food just yet, but Dean likes to eat pretty much first thing.
"Breakfast?" Dean looks and sounds amused. "Sammy--you got any idea what time it is?"
"Uh." It's hard to balance on one foot to pull shorts on when your balance is off due to hangover. Sam's just glad he doesn't topple over completely, because he would never get Dean to shut up about it. "No?"
"It's not even four, dude."
Oh. Well. That explains why it's still completely dark outside. Sam stares at his duffle like it holds all the answers to the questions he can't figure out how to ask, then glances at Dean. "Sorry?"
"No sweat." Dean shrugs, then pushes the covers back. "Gotta take a leak, don't go anywhere."
As if. Sam snorts, but his eyes follow Dean, track his movements into the bathroom. He tries to pretend he's not pathetically grateful when Dean leaves the door cracked open, but he isn't fooling anyone, least of all himself.
Judging from the sounds within, Dean brushes his teeth after using the can, but rather than coming out and getting dressed, he heads back to bed, sliding down under the covers. When he holds them up and raises an eyebrow, Sam frowns. "What?"
"C'mon. You might sleep better."
"You want me to--" God, when was the last time he and Dean shared a bed on purpose? Sam's not sure but he thinks he was probably twelve? Not much after that, in any case, other than the occasional shit-we're-short-on-money. "Uh."
"Look." Dean scowls, and sounds a little cross for the first time since--well, for the first time in a while. "Either get in or don't, but I'm going back to sleep for a while, and you should, too. It's too early to be up."
Sam watches Dean get himself settled, breathing evening out into a slow, steady rhythm before he manages to make himself move, and even then he hovers between the beds for several long moments before grabbing his pillow and sliding under the covers with Dean. Dean rolls to the side, making room for Sam, and mutters something that sounds like, "and no cuddling, bitch."
Sam's almost asleep when Dean shifts beside him, snugging up against Sam's back, and sliding one arm over, palm resting over Sam's belly.
Sam can't remember the last time he felt so safe -- never? -- and he slides into a deep, dreamless sleep, Dean a welcome heat against him.
"Mmmm." Dean's voice, not words so much as a low, rumbling purr. Sam smiles against Dean's throat and nuzzles again, kissing up to his jaw. The heat pressed against him becomes solid and thick, throbbing gently when Dean shifts forward and back. "Sammy--"
The rest of whatever he was going to say is swallowed when Sam brushes his mouth over Dean's, tongue teasing along Dean's lips. It's wonderful, perfect, Dean's so close and Sam can touch him, he's alive and real--
They spring apart at pretty much the exact moment, staring at one another like they've never seen each other before. Dean coughs, and Sam's sure he's going to spontaneously combust, based on how hot his face feels, and wow, this isn't awkward at all.
Sam licks his lips, and oh, bad idea, because he still tastes Dean there. "I, uh. Um."
Dean nods. "Yeah. I. Me, too." He rolls away from Sam and out of bed, staggering once as he gains his footing before disappearing into the bathroom.
Sam watches him go and wonders what just happened.
Wonders when his response to waking up kissing his brother was disappointment that it didn't last longer, or go further, rather than what the fuck just happened here?. He doesn't really have an answer for himself, either.
Sam watches, too. Studies Dean when Dean's focused on his newspaper. Notes the faint flush of color along his cheekbones, and the whiskers catching the light here and there. Sam's lips sting with the memory of stubble chafing, and he licks them, remembering the warm, salty flavor of Dean's skin.
"Hey." Dean's hand is warm on Sam's arm, pulling him back from his thoughts. "I'm here, and I'm not goin' anywhere, Sam." Dean sounds gruff, but not mean. Not teasing, though a part of Sam wishes he would. Wishes there was some way for him to forget the last however long days days days months forever.
"You will if I can't figure out--how to stop this. Your deal."
"You will. I know if--I know you will." The unspoken if there's any way to do it, you will hangs in the air and Sam swallows, opens his mouth to say something, anything, except Dean's not done. "I want some lunch. You?"
"Not really hungry," Sam murmurs. "If you want something, though, we can go--"
"I can run to McDonalds by myself, dude. You don't need--I promise nothin's gonna happen." Dean squeezes Sam's arm once and lets go.
"You can't know that. Dean. I just--you--"
"I do know that. The whole thing with the Trickster, it's over. You said he's gone, we're back…in synch with time, or whatever, we ain't hunting anything, so there's no reason I can't go get a couple burgers and come back. Just like any other day."
Except it's not just like any other day, but Sam doesn't know how to express the way terror floods his body at the thought of letting Dean out of his sight for even ten minutes.
"Okay, yeah," he says finally. "Go, uh, get lunch. Get me an ice tea, wouldja?" He can do this. He has to do this.
"Sure." Dean's on his feet, keys jangling in his hand like he needs to hurry, before Sam changes his mind. "I'll be right back, and I got my phone, Sam. Okay?"
Sam nods and sternly tells himself to get a fucking grip.
He wishes it was that easy.
Sam manages to watch Dean. That's all, just that.
Well, and maybe he thinks once or twice every second of every minute the whole time about those kisses earlier that morning. The way he felt safe, warm, like his whole world was tucked up around him and over him, enveloping him.
Once or twice Dean looks at Sam, eyes flicking up and down, over Sam's face. Lingering? Maybe, Sam can't be sure. But Dean doesn't look away. Just stares, watching, eyes dark. Meeting Sam's gaze, holding it. Then he'll smile, slow and warm, and turn his attention back to whatever it is has it in the first place: food, booze, pool, basketball.
Not once does he flirt with anyone: not the girl bringing them their food and drinks, who does all but press her tits against Dean's arm as he takes his beer. Not the girls hanging around watching the pool game progress. Not anyone. Unless Sam counts those warm looks and easy smiles Dean gives to him. They're what Dean uses when he's flirting, but if that's the case, is he flirting with Sam?
They dick around in the bar for a while, mostly easy relaxing, though there's the can't rest have to find a way to save Dean that's stepping up tempo in Sam's brain. Just thinking it makes his beer taste sour and tightens his stomach uncomfortably. He just got Dean back. Contemplating losing him again is so far beyond painful there's no word for it.
"Earth to Sam. Come in, Sam." Dean's waving a hand in front of Sam's face, and he blinks twice before it comes into focus. "Dude."
"What?" Sam blinks again. His eyes feel dry and scratchy, and doesn't it just figure that the one place in probably the whole country that still allows smoking inside is where they picked to eat?
"You ready to go? I don't think I can work a third game without cluing the natives in."
Sam snorts. "Yeah, probably not."
Dean leaves a pretty good tip on the table; either he did really well at the pool table, or he's apologizing the only way he knows how for not flirting – and Sam has to bite his lip to keep from laughing out loud at the idea, because that's really a Dean-sort of thing to do: apologize to someone for not hitting on them.
He's not very successful at keeping the laughter at bay, and it turns into a series of snorts as they leave the bar and get into the car. Dean glances over at him as he puts the Impala into drive, one eyebrow raised.
"What's so funny?"
Sam shakes his head. "Nothing I could even begin to explain," he says, giving Dean a small smile.
"Just overcome by my charm and wit, huh?" Dean taps along to the radio, fingers moving restlessly against the steering wheel. Sam watches for a moment, then looks away.
"Yeah, Dean, that's totally it." He watches the neon lights out the window, then turns back. "Did you find anything for us today?"
Dean shrugs. "Whole lotta nothing. Couple of reports from a town down in Texas about 'weird and unexplained' stuff happening at the local high school." Dean makes the air quotes and sighs. "Probably a bunch of kids goofing off." He glances sideways at Sam. "Nothing coming up on Bela, either?"
Sam shakes his head.
That's the most troubling thing: Bela knows how to go to ground and they are seriously running out of time to find her.
"I won't let anything happen to you," Sam says, stubbornly ignoring the way his stomach flips over even saying the words.
"I know." Dean guides the Impala into the space in front of their door, then looks at Sam. "We can stay here a couple more days, see if we hear anything on Bela, or if a job comes up, or we can head out in the morning, go toward Texas. Might be nothin' down there; might be something. Won't know 'til we check it out."
"Yeah, okay, what?"
"Let's hang here a couple more days, then." Sam feels a knot of – something – loosen in his chest with the words. He still feels a restless need to get further away from Florida, but at the same time it's nice to just stop for a little bit. Catch their breath.
"Okay." Dean nods. "I'll go pay for a couple more nights; you go shower or something."
Sam swallows. He can do this. After all, Dean was out of his sight for almost twenty minutes this afternoon; this will just be a few minutes.
That doesn't mean he isn't absolutely, completely, weak-in-the-knees relieved when Dean pokes his head inside the bathroom some undetermined amount of time later and says, "I'm back."
The clock on the nightstand between the beds reads 2:53 in bright, luminescent green, which means he's been tossing and turning and half-dozing for almost two hours.
Dean grunts when Sam slides in beside him; mutters something about Sam keeping his cold toes off Dean, thank you, and then he's gathering Sam close to him, his breathing slowing down and evening out.
Sam might feel humiliated about the whole thing, except for how safe he feels.
For half a second Sam thinks it's going to be a repeat of yesterday – he's about a heartbeat away from pushing back and throwing himself out of bed, because there's no way they should be doing this – and then Dean closes the distance between them, mouth settling warm against Sam's.
It's warm and moist, tongue curling against Sam's lips, and it seems the most natural thing in the world to open his mouth, open up for Dean's kiss. Kisses. Long, drugging kisses that make Sam dizzy, make the room seem like it's spinning all around them.
Sam rolls onto his back, dragging Dean with him, needing to feel his weight. He's heavy, pushing the breath from Sam's lungs, but it's a welcome weight. Holding him, pressing against him; Sam's never felt so safe before. So loved. He takes hold of Dean's head, cupping it in his hands, and Dean opens for him, mouth eager and welcoming. They rub against each other, panting into each other's mouths, heat spiraling, twisting, climbing--
Dean freezes above Sam, eyes dark and hot, glittering with lust, with want. He stares down at Sam for a minute then pushes off and away so quickly Sam's surprised he doesn't fall backward and break something.
He doesn't look back, doesn't so much as glance at Sam, just makes a beeline for the bathroom, leaving Sam alone, breathless, horny as hell and incredibly confused.
The water starts up and Sam closes his eyes, picturing Dean shucking off his shorts, cock springing out hard, so hard, flushed with blood and maybe already damp at the tip. Sam slides his hand down his belly, stomach muscles quivering at the touch, and down under the waistband of his track pants. He traces one finger down the length of his dick, feeling the heat there, the way the big vein throbs and pulses. Dean's in the shower right now, probably doing exactly this, and Sam shivers, imagining it. Imagines Dean wet, sleek and glistening with the water pouring down over him. Maybe he'll just stroke his fingertips over himself lightly at first, then harder, more pressure. A bit of shampoo or conditioner to ease the way, give him smooth friction to fuck into.
Sam shifts and wriggles until he's got his track pants pushed down his thighs, dick standing tall, unencumbered. He licks his hand and grasps himself, stroking slowly, then faster, eyes closed to the pictures in his mind, Dean jerking off with one hand, the other stroking over chest, stomach, pinching his nipples and cupping his balls. He imagines Dean rolling his balls, tugging on them, hand moving faster as he get close to coming. Wonders if Dean ever fingers himself, wonders if he's ever fucked a guy before. Sam pants as heat grows within him, coiling tight in his stomach, then lower, spiraling outward faster and faster until it's pulsing all through him. For one dizzy, insane moment Sam wonders what it would feel like to be under Dean like earlier, but with his legs spread wide, pushed up, so Dean can fuck into him. He comes in hot, thick pulses, stripes across his stomach, over his hand, even across his chest.
Afterward, panting and quivering, all Sam can think is holy shit, I just jerked off thinking about my brother jerking off.
He's sitting up, mostly wiped clean, when the water shuts off. Dean comes out a minute later, wrapped in a cloud of steam and a too-small towel, and Sam's prepared for Dean's gaze to slide off and away from him like he's oiled. What he's not prepared for is the long, assessing look Dean gives him, instead. There's tension in the air – there really couldn't not be – but it's not like Sam imagined it might be, and when he moves past Dean to take his turn in the shower, Dean brushes against him, fingers dragging down his side in a slow caress until Sam's through the door.
It's a weird day.
Every time Sam looks up, Dean's watching him. Sam knew he was, because he feels the weight of Dean's gaze; feels heat prickle through him here and there, like someone's stroking warmth over his skin. But Dean doesn't look away when Sam catches him; instead, he arches an eyebrow and gives a half-smile. He doesn't shrug Sam's hand away when Sam touches his shoulder to get his attention. Dean's fingers linger, gentle strokes over Sam's back, his hair, his hand.
Sam thinks about that morning, the heavy comfort of Dean's body against his; the sweet-sour taste of early morning kisses, and the way they fit together so perfectly. He spends most of the day half hard, in spite of jerking off earlier, feeling aroused and weirded out, not unlike falling down Alice's rabbit hole.
It's nearly seven p.m. before the thunderstorms start tapering off, and Sam lifts his head to look blearily from the laptop – he found some translations of text Bobby only had partials of – over to Dean, dozing on his bed, television on some sports channel, showing highlights of various basketball games.
"Dean? You hungry?"
Dean jerks awake and blinks over at Sam. "Wuh? Sam?"
Sam smiles. "Sorry, man. I didn't realize you were asleep. I asked if you're hungry."
Dean rubs one hand over his face, scrubbing at it. Sam wants to go over there and kiss the pillow creases, pink against the pale of his skin. "Uh. Yeah? You want to go out, or just order in some pizza?"
That actually sounds good. "Ham and green olives?"
"Dude." Dean actually groans. "Pizza's not supposed to have vegetables on it."
"Technically, olives are fruits," Sam begins, and laughs when Dean throws a pillow at him. "Just get olives on half then, you jerk." He throws the pillow back with a grin. "And mushrooms and onions."
"No onions." Dean shakes his head. "Onions belong on burgers only."
"When did you get to be such a prima donna about your pizza?" Sam closes the laptop and moves over to settle on his bed, opening up the drawer in the night table to find the local phone book.
"Pepperoni, ham, maybe some green peppers. That's how I've always eaten my pizza." Dean yawns and stretches, and Sam finds his eyes glued to the strip of skin showing where Dean's shirt rides up. Smooth, winter-pale, trail of dark blond hair leading downward, vanishing under Dean's jeans. When he looks up, instead of the scowl that should be there, there's another one of those looks he's been getting all day, Dean's eyes dark and warm.
Sam's fingers feel thick and awkward, trying to page through the phonebook. The smile Dean gives him then makes heat wash through him, thick and sweet, before Dean's up off the bed and disappearing into the bathroom.
He leaves the door mostly open, and Sam isn't sure if it's the concession to his still-present paranoia, or the intimate sounds of Dean taking a leak, that make him warmer.
TMC is showing a Robocop marathon, and part way through the second one, pizza inhaled but for a few crumbs, Sam finds himself having trouble keeping his eyes open. It's warm in the room, and even warmer here on the bed where Dean's pressed against him, a line of heat that's seeping into Sam a bit at a time, loosening the final knots of fear and panic and loneliness he's carried for far too long. He shifts enough that he ends up with his head tipped onto Dean's shoulder, possibilities for a stiff neck be damned. He's almost asleep, just barely aware of anything beyond the tempting lure of sleep, when Dean moves around, shifting them both.
Dean's fingers stroke through his hair gently, something so soothing, so comforting, Sam's chest aches with it. He's safe. Dean's here, Dean has him, and Sam's never going to let go; is never going to be alone again. The bedside lamp and buzz of the television fade slowly into nothingness as Sam sinks down into a deep, dreamless sleep.
He sits up and looks toward the bathroom, but the door's open, no ribbon of light beneath a closed door, no sounds like water running or a toilet flushing, nothing.
For the space of a heartbeat or two, all Sam can do is take in the darkness, the silence, the aloneness. Then his heart speeds up, adrenaline pumping fast and furious through him as panic slams into him, chill and solid, stealing his breath.
Alone. Dean's gone. He's alone.
Was it all a dream? Did he dream Dean was back, was alive, was whole? Did he dream the kisses, and the touches, and the -- fuck, the cuddling? Beside him, where Dean was when Sam fell asleep, the bed is cool, like it'd never been warm. It felt so real. He felt so safe.
No Dean, again. Still.
It's like a fucking nightmare it never stopped it wasn't real it's all been in his head god, he's lost his mind he can't wake from – if he's ever awakened. If any of it's been real from the get-go. Sam hears himself whimper softly, low down in his throat, but other than that, he can't do anything. Can't make any noise, can't move, he feels completely shut-down, frozen in place.
He's trying to move, needs to do something, if it's only get up and find a six-pack, or a gun – and if you'd ever asked Sam, ever, if he'd thought about eating a bullet for any reason, up until two minutes ago he'd have said no. Not even Jessica's death, as awful and horrifying as that was, left him feeling quite like this. He wants to move, wants to do something, even if it's just slam his fist over and over into the wall, but everything's frozen. Maybe he'll sit here forever, until he wastes away into nothing or the world ends, or—
The door makes a quiet snick sound as it opens, and Sam feels like time's stopped when Dean steps through, buffeted by a gust of damp wind and accompanied by the unmistakable scent of tobacco.
"Sam? Did I wake you? Sorry, man. Just, had a craving for a cigarette, must've been the pizza—Sammy?" His voice trails off like he's aware there's something wrong, something he can't see but can still sense.
Sam can't answer; has to concentrate on breathing, because if he doesn't he's going to scream. Or cry. Maybe throw up. He stares at Dean, still standing in front of the door, presumably staring back at him, though it's hard to tell for sure with nothing but dim light from the lamps outside shining in through thin curtains.
"Sam, you're freaking me out here, dude. Say something, okay?"
Sam's up and off the bed before he's processed he's even going to move. He hears the thud when he shoves Dean back against the door; hears the thump Dean's head makes when it impacts with the door, but he can't stop. Can't slow down, can't do anything except get as close as possible.
He doesn't kiss his brother, he devours him. Dean gasps, mouth opening to Sam's, and oh, god, it's so good. So fucking good. Dean tastes spicy-sweet, pizza and soda, with the bitter tang of tobacco over it. Sam sweeps his tongue through Dean's mouth, around and over soft tissues and hard enamel, licking and sucking and tasting because if he doesn't, if he's not surrounded by Dean, Dean's going to disappear.
"Easy—easy, Sam—" Dean pants the words into Sam's mouth; Sam swallows them down and bites on Dean's lip, licking over it afterward, tongue tracing the indents his teeth left. He swallows the grunts Dean makes, shaking against Dean with the overload of emotion, of adrenaline, of oh, Christ, he's here he's alive he hasn't left me he hasn't been taken from me.
"Th-thought you were—" Sam stutters over the words, decides to give up on speech and dives back into the welcoming warmth of Dean's mouth. Hears the soft sounds Dean makes when his fingers dig in, hold on too tight, but he can't let go. Can't, won't, has to hold on.
"Sammy, Sammy, shhh. Easy, okay? Slow down," Dean wiggles until he has his arms free, and he threads his fingers through Sam's hair, fingers smoothing and soothing, cupping Sam's head and holding him while he gentles the kiss. "Not gone, not goin' anywhere, 'm right here." Dean whispers the words into their kiss, tongue tracing the words over Sam's lips. "It's okay. S'okay."
The words don't quite make sense to him, brain and higher reasoning still jangled from panic, but the low, soothing rumble works through him and into him. Sam takes hold of Dean's head, cradling his jaw, thumb smoothing over the sharp jawline prickly with stubble. He needs to taste; lowers his head to nuzzle the soft spots on the underside of Dean's jaw, teeth scraping lightly, then harder when Dean moans and tilts his head back, grip tightening on Sam's hair.
"Fuck, yeah, oh God," is Dean's response when Sam bites down and sucks, pulling heat up to the surface. He does it again, warmth curling through him when Dean shudders against him, breath coming in fast, uneven pants. "Sammy, god—"
"Want you." Sam nips at Dean's mouth, at his jaw, brushes quick kisses over each little bite. "Need you. Wanna feel you," he breathes, the words burning to get out, "inside me. Please, Dean. I just—please."
Dean's hard against him, rocking his hips gently forward and back, light friction that shivers all through Sam, makes him want more. He reaches between them to rub at Dean's erection, smoothing and stroking over the thick length. His own dick throbs with each touch, a feedback loop Sam wants to go on and on forever.
"Bed," is all Dean says, the word thick and rough. Sam nods and backs up just enough for them to turn around without having to let go, and they stumble for the nearest bed, hands already moving, unbuckling, unzipping, unbuttoning.
Sam watches Dean pull his shirt off and bends down to click the lamp on. He wants to see, wants to watch the light play against Dean's skin. He strips his own shirt and pants off, breathing a heavy sigh of relief when his dick springs free of jeans and underwear, and eyes Dean's greedily, following the way his fingers stroke and linger, teasing fingertips around the crown, over the head.
"We need lube," he says hoarsely, and electricity skitters through him when Dean sits down on the bed, nodding toward the bathroom.
"In my kit." He clears his throat. "Rubbers, too."
Sam's gone and back in an instant, lube and a handful of condoms clutched in his hand. Maybe tomorrow, or later, or whatever, he'll give Dean shit for having a fucking bottle of KY Natural Lubricant, but for right now he could give a shit. So long as it's wet and slick and will get Dean inside him, Sam doesn't care what it is or how it's packaged.
He tosses the bottle at Dean and puts the condoms on the night table, then kneels on the floor between Dean's spread legs, leaning up to kiss him again.
Kissing Dean could easily and quickly become an addiction.
"Up here," Dean grumbles, tugging on Sam's arm. It's not a hardship to follow, and then they're on the bed, skin-to-skin and it feels absolutely fantastic. "You're a fucking tease," Dean mutters, licking at Sam's throat, hands skimming down Sam's back, over his hips, cupping his ass.
"A tease." Dean rocks against Sam, cock leaving trails of moisture on Sam's skin. "Days, weeks, watching me and touching me. Snuggling against me. Waking up to you kissing me—"
Sam shuts him up with a kiss, because the last thing he wants to discuss is how long Dean thinks he's been 'teasing'. "Not teasing now," he manages, pushing until Dean rolls onto his back. "Want you to fuck me. Just like this."
Dean swallows hard and nods, reaching for the lube. "You done this before?"
Sam nods, shifting so he can rock down against Dean. He's so hard he aches with it, need thrumming through him. "Not recently," he says, biting back a groan when Dean's dick nudges just behind his balls.
"In that case—" Dean grips his hips and shoves, flipping them so he's leaning over Sam. "Let's take a minute and get you ready." His grin is wicked, his eyes hot with promises. Sam hesitates just a second then nods.
He expects Dean to suck his dick.
He doesn't expect Dean to bypass his dick entirely, but other than a quick swipe of tongue over the head, licking at the moisture gathered there, that's exactly what Dean does. Instead, he scoots down further, pushing Sam's legs open and up. He's really not expecting Dean to spread his asscheeks and lick, tongue wet and warm, teasing over his hole. Sam makes a noise somewhere between a squeak and a groan, and tries to relax. Tries not to come instantly, with Dean's tongue stroking and swirling, lapping at him. Pressing against the tight hole, quick, light touches that make Sam shiver and shake.
He takes a deep breath when Dean pauses, but then that wicked, clever tongue is back, flicking against the muscle. Dean's teeth scrape lightly, catching tender skin, making heat wash over Sam in trickles, then in torrents.
He doesn't know what he's asking for, just knows he doesn't want this to stop. Ever.
Dean works his tongue in, slick moving inside him, and Sam can't keep his hips still. Rocks down to meet each tiny thrust, groaning when something else presses in, one of Dean's fingers, then another, pushing and spreading and opening him, so Dean can flutter his tongue, licking and nipping and sucking at the rim before darting in and out until the world is spinning crazily around Sam.
"Dean—Dean, stop—'m gonna come—"
Dean glances up at him, shiny-wet mouth twisting up into a smile. "That's the idea, dude."
Sam shakes his head, gasps when Dean bites at his inner thigh. "Wanna come while you fuck me."
This time Dean groans, face pressed against Sam's leg. "Gonna make me come, saying shit like that," he mutters, but he draws back slowly, twisting his fingers as he pulls them out, catching the edge of Sam's asshole and rubbing before moving away to flop down on his back.
Sam takes a minute to breathe slow and steady until the urge to come right now fades enough he can move, and then he's scrambling to get up over Dean, bottle of lube in his hand.
It's the oddest lube Sam's ever used; when he pours it out it's slippery and smooth, making his fingers feel like they're gliding together. Dean trembles when Sam slicks it over him, and beneath the slip-slide Sam feels the throb and pulse of Dean's cock. He strokes his fingers up and down over the thick shaft; presses one finger to the small slit and listens to Dean whine through his teeth when a drop of pre-come beads up.
"Sam, Jesus, do something."
It's all the invitation Sam needs. He shifts around and rises up, fumbling with positioning since everything's slippery now. Dean steadies him, one hand on his hip, the other reaching to guide himself, dick pressing against and then into Sam, solid, thick heat opening him up and sliding inside.
For just a moment, it feels like all the oxygen's been sucked out of the room. Sam can't breathe, can't see or hear, can't do anything but feel himself open up. He shudders and closes his eyes, concentrates on relaxing, pushing back against the pressure until Dean's fully seated inside him.
It burns, God, does it burn. But it's a sweet-hot sting, and when Sam opens his eyes again all he sees is Dean. Dean's eyes, pupils blown wide, dark with heat, with need, with love. Dean, with his face flushed, and his lips slick and swollen from kisses and bites. Dean, with his hands that can wield a weapon or smash into objects, holding Sam, cradling him.
"Christ, you feel good." Dean's voice is hoarse; he sounds like he's been yelling for hours. He grips tighter, holds Sam down against him. "So hot inside, Sammy. Hot and tight—"
"Perfect fit," Sam says, and he sounds as hoarse as Dean. His throat is tight, like the words have to be forced up and out. "I—can I move?" He's rocking slowly, gently, and the more he rocks the faster the waves of pleasure spiral out. His dick's getting hard again – the bitch of penetration, losing your hard-on – and the need, the desperation of earlier is coming back, too.
"Oh, god, please." Dean reaches for Sam, trails his fingers slowly up and down the growing length of his dick. "C'mon, Sam. Ride me."
It's so easy to give in to the heat and hunger. Dean thrusts up into him when Sam rocks down, and the pace quickly moves from slow and easy into faster, harder, Dean's dick swelling and throbbing inside Sam.
Sam wants to hold off coming for as long as possible, but he's not going to last. He's been too wound up for too long, and the adrenaline spike earlier, revved him up even more. Now, with Dean's hands on him, and Dean's body under his, filling his, it's all Sam can do to hang on, letting the electricity spark through him.
"Wanna see you come," Dean growls, wrapping one hand around Sam's dick. It makes Sam's heart beat in triple-time, makes want slam into him. He rocks faster, shuddering when Dean jacks him in time, thumb rubbing and smoothing over the bundle of nerves and up across the slit with each upstroke. "C'mon, Sammy, give it up for me—"
"Jesus--" Sam grits the word out, shaking as orgasm sweeps through him fast and hard, almost violently, stealing his breath and vision, hearing reduced to nothing but the roaring in his ears. He contracts tight around Dean as he comes; feels Dean throb and pulse within him, dick swelling as he comes, too. He leans down to kiss Dean, their teeth scraping and catching on lips. Sam tastes blood where one of them bites the other, but it only adds to the overwhelming sensation racing through him.
They lay there for a few minutes, gasps and panting slowing gradually. Dean shifts beneath Sam and they both groan a little when he slips out, leaving Sam feeling achy and oddly empty.
"Need to move, Sammy," Dean says finally, voice a little breathless. Sam does, shifting carefully off his brother and over onto the mattress. He tenses when Dean moves away, but it's only to click the lamp off, darkening the room before spooning back up against Sam, lips brushing the back of Sam's neck when he whispers, "Sleep now, and we'll—talk. Later. Okay?"
Sam nods sleepily and hums in agreement. He's already mostly there, body and brain truly relaxed for the first time in…a really, really long time. He smiles and pushes back against Dean; huffs out a quiet sigh when Dean's arms tighten around him and another whisper-soft kiss is brushed over his neck.
They haven't moved, not even a little. Sam fell asleep with Dean spooned up behind him, fingers of one hand spread across Sam's belly and the other twined with Sam's. They're still like that, though at some point Dean pushed one of his legs between Sam's, and now he's more-or-less awake, he can feel Dean's erection pressed against his ass.
"Mmm. Sammy. All right?" Dean's voice is thick with sleep, a heavy, warm rasp that rumbles through Sam.
"Yeah." He sighs and pushes back gently, hitching his leg a little higher up over Dean's. "You?"
"Not awake. Ask me later." But Dean's moving his hand, stroking down over Sam's dick – beginning to take its own interest in things – and further down, where Sam aches deep inside. He shivers all over when Dean rubs a finger over his hole; he feels hot and swollen there, tender skin stretched and open. Dean pushes his finger in slowly, mouth moving against Sam's neck. "Still open…still wet. God, Sam."
"We forgot the rubbers," Sam says, rocking back to meet the finger fucking slowly into him. They're really gonna have to talk about that, later. "I feel kind of gross."
"We'll shower later. I'll clean you up." Sam can practically hear the leer in Dean's voice, but it's not enough to make him want to do anything like move. He just shifts his leg again and sucks in a breath when Dean adds another finger, gliding easily through the lube and spunk, stretching him even more. "Love this," Dean whispers. "Feeling you like this. So hot, Sam."
Somewhere between a whisper and a sigh, Dean slicks himself up with more lube, then presses Sam's leg up so he can slide back inside. They move just enough to share kisses, panting softly into each other's mouths. Sam twists to get his arm around Dean's neck, holding him close enough to lick and bite at his lips. Dean strokes his free hand up and down Sam's belly and chest, fingers teasing over Sam's nipples until they're drawn up into tight points then sweeping back down to stroke his dick.
It's slow and sleepy, languorous rather than desperate, and Sam wants to gather these feelings up close and hold on tight to them.
He twines his fingers with Dean's, and they stroke his dick a little faster, keeping pace with Dean's thrusts. The lazy heat builds, swirling through Sam until he's caught up in it, pushing back onto Dean's cock and forward into their hands, moving faster as the first waves of orgasm ripple through him.
Dean bites down on his shoulder when he comes, and the bright spark of pain throws Sam over the edge; he comes in long, hot pulses all over their joined hands, still feeling Dean throbbing inside him.
He feels it even as he drifts into sleep, Dean pressed hot and sticky against his back.
Sam finishes packing up his duffle – a downside to staying in one place for more than a night or two is that stuff migrates everywhere – and throws it over his shoulder, giving the place once last look around, then looks over at Dean, fidgeting beside the door.
"You didn't really have to wait," Sam says, hoping he's managing to communicate thank you anyway.
Dean raises an eyebrow. "Dude, you're still about as twitchy as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. It's not gonna kill me to wait a minute or two – but if you take any longer, I'm gonna leave your ass here."
Which is Dean's way of saying you're welcome.
Sam clears his throat and nods. "I'm ready."
"Ready to sit for hours on a bumpy road?" The smirk on Dean's face makes Sam itch to wipe it off. Or replace it with a different sort. Except for the part where, yeah. Hours in a car on bumpy roads. Joy.
He wants so badly to say something like, I'm going to find a way to get you out of your contract, because it'll kill me to lose you again, or Do you have any idea how much I love you? What I'll do for you? Instead he flips Dean off with a, "Bite me. Let's get some breakfast."
Something must show on his face, because Dean opens the door and bows with a flourish. "Ladies first."
That gets him a smile, and a brief but welcome caress as he walks past, and Dean's voice, warm and full of love. "Bitch."
He doesn't need to say it, because Dean hears it anyway.