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remembering your constellations

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“And when it was clear, they’d park her in the middle of nowhere, sit on the hood, and watch the stars… for hours… without saying a word.” 5.22 Swan Song

The night sky is a little different, not the way he remembered – but then again who is he to know about that? It’s not like he’s a rocket scientist or an astrologist or anything. After all, so what if he’s fairly certain there are not enough stars to fill the entire dark canopy, not the way they used to, all magnificent and illuminating and – familiar. Maybe the averted Apocalypse still managed to destroy a few stars, it’s just battle casualties.

They’re both a little drunk, or so Dean thinks. He’s not quite sure how it’s even possible when he’s only on his fourth beer, but he’s already feeling that warm haze enveloping him, making the starlight fuse a little together, like they’re colliding into one another. And anyway, with the way he’s thinking right now, there’s no excuse for it if he isn’t drunk.

Sam is already reclining on the windshield, his Sasquatch-sized body still fitting on the hood of the Impala, which Dean’s pretty sure is a violation of all the physical laws in the universe. Sam’s body is lax, comfortably lazy like a big cat’s, turned inwards toward Dean – and suddenly it’s hitting him like a heady shot of liquor, making him feel light-headed and dizzy, the realization how much he wants to keep Sam here with him, beside him on the Impala, his giant little brother, safe, whole, here, all here.

He must have made some kind of noise, he doesn’t know what, but Sam’s attention suddenly is on him and he could’ve sworn the stars are reflected in his little brother’s eyes, the way they never were in the other Sam’s eyes. Dull. Lifeless. Wrong. “Dean?”

It’s ridiculous, really. It’s not like the first day or even week that Sam’s really come back to him, soul intact and all. But there was always something about Sammy under a starlit night sky, something that was never there in the other one, the mocking facsimile – something small and huge and compliant and stubborn and clingy and independent and - Dean has never been so sure in his life that this was his Sam, Sammy, and he has never been so desperate to make sure that this Sam is real, not just some product of his grief-addled mind and –

He reaches out, presses his hand to Sam’s chest, pushing down and feeling the pulse of his alive, resouled, whole little brother beating up against his palm. Sam tenses, eyes intense on Dean, and for a moment Dean is terrified that it’s all some hallucination, but then Sam just blinks once, serious contemplation, then relaxes. After a moment, he looks back up, and some part of Dean wants to panic, but Sam is breathing and

Sam’s heart is beating underneath Dean’s hand, and that’s enough, for a little while.

“He – um, you – the soulless you, he didn’t sleep.” Dean is following Sam’s lead, looking up into the black sky, but still keeping his hand on Sam.

He can feel Sam looking at him, probably wondering why Dean is incapable of eloquent speech, but he’s sure he can do this, there’s no reason why he can’t keep his eyes away from his little brother for a few minutes.

“I mean, I don’t know why, never asked… Even if I did I doubt he’d know, but – ” Good heavens he’s babbling, and the other Sam would’ve been smirking at him, his smaller, lesser older brother – the thought startles him and rips his attention away from the stars back to Sam, just to make sure, just to be sure he isn’t smirking. The fear is painfully pathetic, but Sam isn’t, thank God, he isn’t.

The sight settles him a little, and looking at the stars makes him dizzy anyway, so he keeps his eyes on Sam.

“He and I… we never did this,” he suddenly says, like a confession, like a plea – except he doesn’t know what he’s pleading for. Forgiveness?
Absolution? Understanding? “Not like this, anyway,” he adds, feeling a little desperate and extremely foolish.

There’s a pause, and Dean’s heart is fluttering like he’s asked for something he doesn’t know whether Sam can give, whether he will. Then Sam is shifting carefully, like he doesn’t want to dislodge Dean’s hand (not that he can without forcefully ripping it off), and then his huge paw is on Dean’s chest, a warm, comforting weight. “I’m glad we do, Dean,” he says, a throwback to when Dean had nearly died in a Djinn-induced fantasy where Sam wasn’t… wasn’t his Sam.

It’s the biggest, most embarrassing chick-flick moment they’ve had since Dean can’t remember when, but Sam’s heartbeat is steady beneath
Dean’s hand and Dean’s heart is beginning to settle under Sam’s hand, and this intimacy, this comfort is familiar. This he can take.

He lies back, arm crossed under Sam’s, angled a little awkwardly – and stares up at the night sky. It’s littered with tiny bright lights like white jewels, and the longer he stares the more there are, like remembering again what he always knew.

The Impala is warm beneath him, Sam a venerable furnace beside him, and he’ll wake up sore and aching, but with only Sam’s forearm and a
star-riddled dark sky as blanket, Dean slips under the most restful sleep he’s had in years.

And if he thinks that someone murmured “Missed you too, jerk,” in his dreams, no one will insist hearing him mumble “Bitch” back.