Love is making me happy and then going off to sleep with your mouth open
while I lie awake all night afraid to say my prayers even
because I know I have no right to anymore.
- Ernest Hemingway
In Sam’s phone, only one number matters these days.
Ruby’s not answering. Hasn’t for thirty-seven hours and twelve minutes now. He lets it ring out, tapping his pinkie nail staccato against his teeth for every millisecond that passes without her smoky voice on the other line.
He doesn’t have time for this bullshit. They just rolled into this town and Sam’s supposed to be out here by the vending machine calling the coroner while Dean plays cross-country-police-chief-with-a-similar-case in their room.
He looks down at the coroner’s number written on the piece of paper in his hand. He wants to press the numbers. He does. It’s the right thing to do.
He tries Ruby again.
She finally picks up, and just as he opens his mouth to request a meet, the door to their room opens and Dean’s striding out with that “time to go to work” stance.
Ruby’s on the line asking, “Sam?”
Dean’s jerking his chin toward the Impala.
Sam hangs up on just as Ruby’s purring, “Sweet Sammy? That you?”
He kicks the vending machine in frustration instead. “Fuck.”
“Whoa, Terrible Two’s,” Dean’s backing away from him. “Who put the bee in your bonnet?”
“Just… uncooperative coroner.”
“That’s all good, little brother, because I got us a lead.”
Just then a Cherry Coke rolls out of the vending machine on its own accord. Sam huffs a breath. That’s not the kind of sweet he meant.
Dean’s lead was good, and they solve that case with a run of the mill salt and burn that very night.
His brother hands him a beer as they look down at the flames making short work of the tattered wedding dress their ghost bride had been buried in.
Beer tastes like water to him now, compared to what he wants. He downs the first one before Dean’s even got his open, then tosses the bottle in with the bones in an act of littering so uncharacteristic that his brother nudges the back of Sam’s hand with his own.
“Hey, Sammy. You seem tense. And not Sam-Winchester-baseline tense. We’re-going-to-be-killed-by-a-white-eyed-little-girl-mega-demon-any-day-now tense. Like super extra tense.”
Their hands stay that way, fused back-to-back, until Dean runs his calloused thumb along the tender meat along the side of Sam’s palm in a clear, “You wanna?”
They’d devolved into outrageous in the year before Dean went to Hell. Sam sliding Dean’s cock out of his fly while his brother navigated traffic. Pawing at each other as they unlocked motel room doors. Fumbling in bathrooms in dive bars where it was so chancy to risk two pairs of boots in one stall that Sam remembers once watching Dean flick the safety off his gun as they jerked each other off.
But here, as the yellowed wedding dress dissolves into ash, Sam turns his wrist so that his thumb finds Dean’s in a quick negative swipe to answer just as silently, “It’s okay.” He’s thankful, so thankful, that they can communicate without words. Because sometimes he looks at Dean and knows that if he opens his mouth it’s all going to come out in a rush.
“I used to think there was nothing I could want more than you. There were times when I would have killed for you on your knees in front of me. There were times I’m pretty sure I did. But in the millisecond after I soften, before you can even swallow, all I’m going to want is what only she can give me.”
They’ve attempted this – whatever it is - a time or two since Dean has been back. Dean’s hot mouth on his in the night. Sam running his hands up Dean’s flanks, two fingers digging down the sharp blades where his brother’s wings would be, palming up the tender backs of his thighs. Avoiding the handprint that, unlike Sam’s scent, doesn’t shower off. Because when Castiel was battering down the gates of Hell where the hell was Sam?
Sam, while his brother tried not to tense, licking the salt up the line of Dean’s spine and thinking “I never asked you to go to Hell for me.”
Dean gamely trying to pretend that he’s not recoiling from all human touch, all the while Sam is seeing Ruby’s face projected in the broad unmarked plane of his brother’s back and thinking, “It should have been me.”
He misses the familiar scars. Used to be, there wasn’t a thing he couldn’t find on the map of his brother’s body. Though he would never tell Dean that what came back from Hell was, in his eyes, anything less than perfect.
Sam even got Dean off once, since Hell. They’d been lying on their sides, facing each other, Sam gripping both their cocks in one hand. He’d wanted to wipe the tears from Dean’s eyes, after, but thought his brother wouldn’t appreciate him acknowledging their predicament – two motherless boys in way, way over their heads.
After all, how do you repay someone who literally went to Hell for you? Suck his cock? Kill them all? End the Apocalypse so he can have his apple pie life?
Sam’s pretty sure it’s not “wait until he’s in the shower before you call your… demon.”
“A gentleman doesn’t dial and dash on a girl,” Ruby greets him.
“Where’ve you been?” he doesn’t mean to say. She likes it when he’s desperate, he still has enough sense to realize. Sure they share a common enemy, but she’s still a demon, after all. Sometimes she’ll take pity on him, meeting him in the homey comforts of a motel with a gash already streaming from her wrist or high on her inner thigh. But what she really makes her eyes go black is Sam so overcome with desire that he’s ready to take what he wants from her meatsuit with nothing but blunt nails and gnashing teeth.
“You’ve had guardian angels on your tail, Winchester, even if you can’t see them.”
The thought leaves Sam uneasy. What exactly had Castiel and Uriel witnessed?
“But I distracted that little problem for you,” she continues.
In the bathroom, the shower shuts off.
“I’ve missed you,” she says to his radio silence. “Did you miss me?” Sam thinks, not for the first time, that now he knows what Eve must have heard when the snake in the Garden opened its treacherous mouth.
He swallows and the word doesn’t come at first. He finally manages to croak out the “yes” he couldn’t manage an hour ago as the smoke from the burning bride curled up around them.
Dean steps out of the bathroom in a towel and he’s so beautiful, with water droplets in his five o’clock shadow that Sam wants… He wants…
Ruby’s voice purrs in his ear, “Room 108, sweet thing. Just two doors down.”
He wants enough willpower to wait until Dean’s asleep.
It’s not like it’s a sin because he at least looks his brother in the eye when he says “taking a walk.” It’s all there for Dean to see if he wants to. All of it.
And it’s not like Sam’s cheating. Despite Sam’s incessant need to clarify and taxonomize, they never defined it – this thing they started one July evening when Sam was barely driving, and Dean was barely sober. You can’t cheat on a thing that doesn’t exist. Or, if it does, it’s as ephemeral as a spider’s web and just as fragile.
Really, if you’re going to start with flawed reasoning, was Jess cheating then? Or Cassie? Or waitress Take-a-Number? Clearly not.
Sam was twelve or so when his brother gave him his first beer. He must have made one hell of a grimace after his initial sip because Dean laughed so hard he tipped the flimsy motel chair over.
“Ugh. Why do you drink this? It tastes like piss!” Sam remembers spitting out.
His brother had turned suddenly serious. “It’s not supposed to taste good.”
“Then why do you drink it?” he remembers asking.
The teasing tone had come back into his brother’s voice then. “Because, Sammy, it makes you feel big and strong.”
Ruby’s fully dressed when she answers his tentative rap on the door.
“This is too risky,” he says, as soon as he’s safely deadbolted inside. “Dean’s right there. He’s still awake.”
“Then why did you come?” He watches her lick along the ridge of her sharp white teeth.
Tonight, she doesn’t allow him up onto the bed. Instead makes him kneel on threadbare carpet there at the edge. It’s only after she’s spasmed under his tongue that she slices a line down a fresh tract of skin along the underside of her vessel’s thigh and allows him to drink.
The rush always comes first. He really does feel taller. More powerful. With her blood still on his lips he knows that if a demon manifested here – a different demon – he could banish it with a flick of his smallest finger. She’s near weightless in his arms when she allows him to pick her up bodily while thumbing her panties to the side. He mounts her so hard her head flies back and hits the wall with a sharp crack. He forgets who they are for a second, thinks he might have hurt her, but then she howls a moan so loud that Sam’s sure Dean can hear it through the two thin walls between their rooms. To shut her up, he covers her mouth with his, paints her with her own blood like lipstick.
It’s not supposed to taste good, but it sure as Hell makes you feel big and strong.
After, he releases her to slowly slide down the wall. He can’t even look at her now. He uses one of the room’s yellow-tinged washcloths to remove all traces of her from his face and his cock. Watches the water drain sickly pink. After, he’ll stop by the vending machine he battered earlier to wash the taste of her out of his mouth in case his brother… isn’t asleep.
Sam pauses for a minute in front of room 109. In room 108, the secret weapon for saving the world. In room 110, the world. And all he can do is mutter a prayer to a God who everyone says is nowhere around here to “protect me from what I want.”