They’re going back to their rooms, Jerry ahead but barely, limping and flinching, pretending he’s not. Dean stays close, holding his arm, firm and insistent and so kind Jerry could cry and will cry soon, Goddammit, if he keeps touching him like that, so sweet and careful like that.
“Get offa me.” God, please don’t let go, I’ll die if you let go now.
They’re at Dean’s door. Jerry fumbles the key in sweaty fingers. He sees it find the hole and skitter off and curses softly, feeling tears threaten. Fuck, you’re such a baby. Dean covers his hand. Jerry’s transfixed as his hand disappears under Dean’s paw – always loses himself at this point, always feels himself catapulted back through the years to the first time that hand touched his – and then they’re inside, door quietly shut behind them.
“Just let me look.”
Jerry shrugs him off and heads to the bathroom, trying to look as resolute as it’s possible to look when you’re listing pretty dramatically to the right. Dean goes after him. Jerry looks over his shoulder, eyebrow raised. A playful suggestion glints in his eye.
“Don’t, Jer.” Dean sits on the edge of the tub and holds Jerry’s waist.
“Oh, Dean.” He smooths his hair, touches the tip of his tongue to his lip. “You have no idea how long I’ve waited.” God, if only that were true.
“Stop it now,” Dean says.
Jerry stops. He watches dumbly as his partner slips the button of the tux pants free and slides the tongue of fabric from the loop. Then comes the hook, the zip, and Dean’s untucking his shirt. Casual and necessary, sure, but Jerry’s heart hammers anyway. It’s impossible to stop it. Natural, too, Jerry thinks. Anyone’d be hot and bothered in his position. You’d have to be a fool not to thrill under Dean Martin’s fingers. Or dead.
Dean turns him to the side, lifts the shirt and hooks a thumb into his waistband.
Pain shoots out in a star of infinite points.
“Am I hurting you?”
He shakes his head. God it hurts, hurts so fucking much he might pass out, but damn if he’s gonna tell Dean that. Dean’s fingers are kind and calloused but not rough and no matter how much it hurts he wants them on him.
“Christ, Jer, it looks awful.”
Jerry cranes his neck to take in the blue-black stain that covers his hip. Dean’s fingers test the skin; Jerry hisses.
“Yeah,” he manages, feeling a little more honest now. “Feels worse.”
“You gotta stop takin’ those falls so hard. Or at least let me catch you more.”
“It’s funnier my way.”
“I think I prefer you intact.” He strokes the blemish. There’s a strange expression on his face. Jerry wishes he’d look up, so he might be able to read it better. He makes a noise in the back of his throat. Is he mad? Dean shakes his head. “Shit, Jer.”
“Well.” Jerry clears his throat, tries to be casual despite Dean’s hand so big and warm and gentle on him. “There’s only one thing to do.”
“You gotta kiss it better.”
Dean frowns. Jerry’s heart thuds. It was too serious, he thinks. I shoulda used a Voice or something, oh God, oh Christ, I gotta stop pushing him like—
Dean leans close and presses his lips to the purpling bruise. The mouth barely purses, just sits against the skin, feather-light. He doesn’t wanna hurt me. Jerry feels tears behind his eyes. He couldn’t ever hurt me, not ever, not once. He touches Dean’s hair, hears and feels a soft, deep murmur shudder against his hip, and then Dean’s arms wrap around him. Jerry knows this part already, and plays it so well, so good for Dean; he slots his fingers into his partner’s curls and gently tugs.
“I was kidding,” he whispers.
The mouth against his skin spreads into a smile. “I know.”
Jerry gasps, scandalised. “Mr Martin! I am not that kinda girl.”
“Coulda fooled me.”
“You beast.” Jerry, hating himself even as he does it, moves away and tucks his shirt back in, flinching again.
“Ehi, ehi.” Dean’s up now, holding his elbow, head tilted and eyes searching his face. “Whadaya doin’?”
Low and soft, Dean says, “You don’t have to.”
He scoffs, hoping it’s enough to drive the heat rising in his cheeks back to where it came from. “I can’t walk the hall with my pants open, Paul.”
“Stay here tonight.”
He swallows. “Paul, what—”
“Let me make sure you’re all right. I don’t like you getting hurt.”
Jerry thinks about those times, years ago, when Dean and Sonny would bareknuckle box. He remembers the split lips, swollen eyes. He remembers how much he hated it, how he’d even hated Dean a little then, for letting someone do that do him. But God, not hated him, not like that. Hated how he couldn’t recognise him, this beautiful person God put in his life, so different and mangled, his whole face like that jagged pinkie finger, a constant reminder of a pain he didn’t deserve. Jerry thinks about this, thinks about wanting to kiss the wounds his friend had suffered. Dean let him, once. And more than once Dean soothed pain Jerry suffered, from jerks in bars or his own foolish clumsiness. Dean wrapped up cuts and kissed hurt eyes and quietly dealt with people who meant him harm. He doesn’t know Jerry knows that but he does.
He wonders if Dean hates this as much as he does, seeing a pain he couldn’t prevent.
He strokes his partner’s face, and even though Dean already knows – and probably knew it before Jerry could even put a name to it – he says, “I love you.”
Dean kisses Jerry’s cheek. “Then stay.” And he kisses the other. “Stay.” And he kisses his mouth. “Please.”