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The rain started heavy and sudden, slamming against the windshield like a wall. Dean flipped on the wiper blades, squinted and drove a little slower. They were driving to St Lois for a weird case of body doubles and old friends that didn’t really know who Sam was.

Sam propped his elbow on the passenger door and closed his eyes, letting the heavy noise of so much rain pounding on the roof of the car wash over him. Grumbling, Dean turned the music down a little. This late at night, on a road with no street lights, it was a matter of moments before Dean resigned himself and pulled over to the shoulder.

Glancing out the window, Sam could barely see the wood posts of the fence that was a couple feet from the car.

“Guess we’re stuck here.”

Sam shrugged, “It’ll pass quick enough.”

Dean turned off the engine, crossed his arms over his chest and sulked. Darkness settled deeper without the headlights struggling through the fall of rain. A streak of lightning zig zagged across the sky on the horizon, illuminating fields stretching out flatly in all directions. Dean sighed, leaned back against the seat and his head lolled as he scrubbed a hand over his face. He was pale in the brief spotlight wash of lightning, stubble of a few days across the sharp angles of his jaw. Sam knew how hard it was on Dean that they couldn’t seem to get in touch with Dad, that he didn’t seem to want to get in touch with them. Sam didn’t feel it himself, the loss of contact, but he understood it.

Without music to compete with, the noise of the rain wrapped around them and the car felt smaller for it. Thunder rolled moments after the lightning, rumbling deep.

Sam stretched a hand across the seat, spread his fingers tentatively over Dean’s thigh. They used to be a lot closer, a lot bolder than this. In some ways, Sam appreciated the quiet sort of respect Dean offered, giving him space to grieve Jess and to pretend that he wasn’t settling back into the life. But Sam needed to feel his brother again, couldn’t stand having him right there and yet at arms length. Delicate, careful. Dean never used to treat him like that. Maybe he was afraid of Sam leaving again. Sam didn’t know if he’d have the strength to do it a second time.

Dean put a hand over Sam’s, lightly for a second, before twining their fingers together. Neck still stretched out, eyes closed, the next clap of thunder showed the crease in his forehead and how his lips tightened as he stayed still, closed his hand over Sam’s.

One little shift of his hips at a time, Sam scooted closer, stopped in the middle of the seat. Darkness wrapped around them again as the last fits of lightning faded. He felt the seat move as Dean did, Dean sliding his hand up Sam’s arm, stretching his hand across the curve of Sam’s shoulder, fingers curling against the back of his neck. It was a simple, understated touch and Sam shivered with how much he needed this simple reassurance.

The car was quiet and still on the edge of tension they held, a small space in the middle of the fervor of the storm. Sam kept his eyes open, keen to catch the sight of Dean leaning away from his seat and towards Sam when the next bolt of lightning hit in the distance, thunder rumbling faster on it’s heels, closer.

Dean didn’t quite press into his space, but he spread a leg wider, knocked his knee against Sam’s, came close enough to rest his cheek against Sam’s bicep.

Sam dropped his head to the side, close enough to nudge his forehead against Deans, noses brushing. They stayed like that for minutes, a few points of contact between their bodies, the warmth of Dean’s breath tickling over Sam’s lips and his cheeks as he strained his will not to move. To content himself with what he could have. With patience, more would come.

The lightning stopped flashing, and the rain began to ease from torrential to driveable. Too dark to see, quiet enough to hear Dean breathing, lips parted slightly, fingers restless against the back of Sam’s neck as they spread up through his hair and soothed down the line of his spine teasing under the hem of his shirt.

“Think we can get going again…” Dean said, and didn’t move.

Sam wanted to start again, and not with the driving, but he nodded and moved his face just a little closer so that he felt the brush of Dean’s soft lips when he said, “Yeah, probably.”

Barely, Dean pressed back, fingers curling around the side of his neck as Dean kissed him briefly and pulled away.

“Yeah, okay.”

He turned the car back on, squinted through the windshield as the wipers splashed side to side. Sam still held on to one of Dean’s hands across the space of the front seat, and Dean let him.