“Dude, where’s your journal?” is how Dean greets Sam when he walks into the kitchen, disheveled in a way that indicates he’s literally just rolled out of bed.
“Good morning to you too,” Sam replies sarcastically, not looking up from his laptop. “What do you need my journal for?”
“Cas just called,” Dean explains, holding out his cell phone to show Sam. “Had some questions about the hunt he’s on, he thinks it’s a pontianak, not an angry spirit. I told him I’d get back to him after checking with you.”
“Oh.” Sam does look up this time, frowning as he thinks. “Pontianak… Dean, that hunt was a couple years ago, it’s not gonna be in this journal. I just started it.”
“Where do you keep the old ones, then?” Dean asks as he starts the coffeemaker.
“Uh…” Sam racks his brains for a second. “Check Archive Room Three, should be there. You might have to look for a while, though, I don’t remember which journal I wrote it down in.”
“It’s fine,” Dean tells him. “If I can’t find it I’ll just holler for you.” And with that, he grabs his mug and heads back out again.
Sam watches him leave, and then goes back to his laptop, idling scrolling through the local news. There isn’t a lot going on when it comes to hunts, or at least challenging ones. Sam misses them a bit, he won’t lie – misses the research and the detective work, even the witness interrogation and, most of all, the pure exhilaration of finally putting the monster down, of winning using nothing more than his own blood and sweat (and occasional tears). He’d wanted to go on the hunt that Cas is on right now with Jack, but it was Dean who’d said no, saying it should be an easy case and Jack needed the experience.
Easy case. As if life ever went according to plan for the Winchesters.
So here he is, bored out of his skull, browsing through paranormal sites on his laptop and wondering absently if the Ghostfacers would mind too much if he hacked their site and made their background bright pink with comic sans as the font. It’s the least they deserve after the migraines they give Sam with their shitty website and their insistence that they’re legit.
He’s jolted out of his thoughts by the sound of footsteps, and he looks up just in time to see Dean re-enter the kitchen. He’s holding an old leatherbound journal in his hands, and his expression is stormy, determined.
“Dean?” Sam questions, raising an eyebrow. “Something wrong with the journal?”
In response, Dean just slams it down on the table in front of Sam, making him jump. “What the hell is this, Sam?”
“My journal?” Sam answers, confused. “What’s wrong with you, man–” He stops short when he gets a closer look at it, though, and then his heart sinks right down to his toes. “Oh.”
Dean huffs, and sits down across from Sam. “Got a lot of explaining to do, Sammy.”
Sam eyes the journal, placed exactly halfway between them on the table, and then puts his laptop aside. He knows this one, recognizes the battered cover and torn edges very well, and the spine worn thin from overuse. He’d spent a good portion of his teenage years writing in it, every single thought that came into his head, unedited, uncensored.
Every single damn thought.
“What did you see?” he asks softly. Maybe, if he’s lucky, Dean’s just found one of the ruder sections he’d written after a particularly nasty fight with John, and that’s all this is.
Right. Like that’s going to happen. Winchester luck, after all.
Instead of replying, Dean just opens the journal and flips to a page somewhere in the middle, and then hands it over silently. His eyes remain on Sam’s face even after Sam’s taken the journal from him, heart beating uncomfortably fast in his chest as he looks down at the yellowed pages.
It’s not about his arguments with John, or his yearning for a life outside of hunting, or even one of his numerous rants about Dean’s bad habits. It is about Dean, though, and Sam can’t read it for longer than a few seconds before he slams it shut, cringing. “Dude,” he says, though he has no idea what the hell he can even say.
Dean leans forward in his chair, reducing the distance between them. “Is it true?” he demands. “You were in love with me?”
“I – yeah,” Sam admits, and looks away. His heartbeat is deafening in his ears, and he feels sick to his stomach.
“Yeah.” In his head he’s already going over all the possible places he can stay when Dean inevitably kicks him out. It’s a pathetically short list.
Dean exhales, long and slow, and then takes the journal back. Sam watches as he flips through some more pages, and wonders uneasily what the fuck Dean’s thinking. His brother’s face is unreadable right now, stone cold and flat, and it scares Sam that he can’t tell what’s going on in his mind, that he doesn’t know what to expect.
If Dean tries to make him read any more, though, Sam’s going to get up and leave. No way is he doing that to himself.
To his immense relief, though, Dean snaps the journal shut again and puts it back on the table, this time gentler than before. His expression is twisted with conflict, and he’s biting his lip, looking like there’s some great debate raging on inside his head. For all Sam knows, there probably is. It can’t be easy, finding out your kid brother’s been harboring some decidedly unbrotherly, non-heterosexual feelings towards you for literal decades.
Dean sucks in a breath, and then says, “And now?”
“Now?” Sam swallows. “Um. I don’t know, Dean. I’ll – I’ll leave if you want me to.”
“Not what I meant,” Dean says. His gaze on Sam’s face is intense, laser-focused, and Sam can feel his face heating up in response to it.
“Then?” he asks, voice so low it’s almost inaudible. He can’t help but feel like the situation is spinning out of his control now, not that he had much of it in the first place.
“You still feel like that now?” Dean clarifies, and his tone is so odd that it makes Sam look up again. His expression is shuttered, eyes narrowed as he waits for Sam to answer, and he’s got his hands knotted on top of the journal.
Sam should lie, he knows. Tell Dean that it was just teenage hormones, that he’s grown out of it, knows better now. Say that it’s all in the past and he’s over it, and it’s not gonna be a problem. It’s not gonna change anything between them.
But that’s bullshit, and it will, it’s already beginning to, and Sam’s frustration and helplessness peak suddenly, coming out in a burst of painfully blunt honesty. “What do you want me to say, Dean? Yeah, I do, all right? I tried really fucking hard not to, and it just never works, okay? And I know you don’t feel that way, and you know what, that’s fine, it is, but I just–”
“Who says I don’t?”
Sam comes to an abrupt halt. “What?”
“Who says I don’t?” Dean repeats, slower, enunciating each word. His expression is still a bit off, but Sam can see the mask cracking, can sense the uncertainty under it now.
“You don’t what?”
“Feel the same way,” Dean clarifies, untangling his fingers and leaning even more into Sam’s space. “Sam… shit. So many fucking years. All that time wasted, I just… fuck. All that time.” The cracks widen; Dean’s expression is clearing, the intensity of his feelings beginning to leak through.
“What are you talking about?” Sam asks. He doesn’t understand. This isn’t… he’s so lost.
In response, Dean gets to his feet, and gives Sam a look that has him freezing into his seat, deer in headlights and counting down the moments till he’s run over. He knows that look, knows it intimately, because it’s the expression Dean wears when he literally cannot find words for just how fond he feels of Sam, or when he’s so happy he can’t speak, can’t do anything but laugh.
Something flips in Sam’s stomach.
And then Dean kisses him. It’s just a soft press of his lips to Sam’s mouth, feather light, but Sam’s whole body responds so quickly that it must be instinct, what else could it possibly be, the way he just melts into Dean, eyes falling shut.
Dean chuckles against his mouth, and kisses him again. “Idiot,” he says fondly, and Sam opens his eyes to see that expression still on Dean’s face, fond and so full of love. “All that time, Sammy… why didn’t you say anything?”
“Why didn’t you?” Sam challenges, a little breathless even though they haven’t even done anything yet.
“Didn’t know how to,” Dean tells him as he sits down next to him. He presses a kiss to the corner of Sam’s mouth. “Didn’t know what to say, Sammy. Guess I still don’t.”
“I don’t, either,” Sam admits. “I never did. I just… all I did was look, ‘cause it was all I could do.”
“All this time,” Dean repeats, and looks a little dazed. Kisses Sam’s mouth again, like he can’t get enough, and Sam’s whole body is tinging with it, head to toe. “All this time, Sammy… I was looking too.”
“God, we’re really stupid, aren’t we?” Sam says with a wet laugh, closing his eyes.
“We really are,” Dean agrees, lips moving against Sam’s. “But you know what, Sammy? That’s all right. We got there in the end, didn’t we, baby?”
Sam’s whole body heats with the nickname, the softness behind it, and he smiles against Dean’s mouth. “What now?” he asks.
“Guess we figure it out together,” Dean tells him. Sam doesn’t know when Dean’s hand landed on his waist, but he’s not about to complain.
“Like we always have,” he says quietly.
“Like we always have,” agrees Dean, and kisses him again.