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because you want to die for love

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“You...your face,” Sam is saying, and Dean is caught up in his wide eyes, the hair brushing down over his brows. He looks so young. “You look...”

Dean shakes himself. “Shit, yeah, right. Guess they figure crow’s feet and creaky joints ain’t fashionable enough for paradise.”

Sam is still watching him slightly slack-jacked, clearly content to just follow along to Dean’s every word.

Dean feels warm all over—yeah, there it is, Heaven feels like Heaven now—and continues, “Far as I can tell, I’m, well—my body, it’s, uh, me the way I was before I died the first time around.” 

Sam’s brows raise in mild surprise but he still seems too consumed by...by Dean to insert much. 

Dean scratches his jaw. “You know, the hell hounds, since I got scars from before I came back, you know, all shiny and new. I dunno. Guess Heaven decides your first death is the right one. That’s what I figure at least. 'Specially since you look about...about...”

Sam is catching up. He glances down at himself and spreads his hand in front of him, then walks over to crane in head down in front of the side mirror. Dean watches familiar emotions of shock and confusion and amusement and something happy, or sad, cross over Sam’s face as he sees himself just the way he was all those years ago, dying of a stab wound right in Dean’s arms.

“Like I’m about twenty-four,” Sam mutters, finishes Dean’s last sentence. He brushes over his bangs, frowning a bit. Dean bites back a smile. Sam stands up. “Huh.” 

Sam walks back over to Dean and stands pressed right up against his side. Dean feels the way Sam relaxes when Dean puts his arm around Sam’s shoulders again, no questions asked.

God, he feels different. Still too damn tall and broad, but this was before he got beefed up like he’d inhaled a mass order of steroids overnight. Fine by Dean, easier to keep his arm around Sam and once Sam reorients, he’ll probably be pissed Heaven nixed his meticulously jacked muscles, which Dean will find hilarious. 

“Wasn’t like that last time,” Sam remarks, like he’s trying for casual.

“Lot’s of things aren’t,” Dean tells him. “Actually, you know, it's not the same at all. They fixed it up, see. Everyone’s here, Dad and Mom and Bobby, Ellen and Jo. And you can do whatever you want, it’s not all tied up in loops or whatever—”

Sam interrupts. “So everyone’s Heaven is altogether now? It’s not just...your own or you and, uh....”

Dean smiles, slow and happy. Sam must have just assumed Heaven followed through on the last arrangement. Soulmates.

“That’s right,” Dean says heartily, unsure how open Sam is feeling right now. “We could go see ‘em all right now if you wanted.” 

Sam is quiet. Dean’s fine with that. It’s easy to sit with any kind of feelings here, thoughts and uncertainties, because every uncertainty worth fearing is gone. They’re safe, Sam’s safe, and they always will be. That’s all that matters. So whatever Sam has to go through, or Dean himself for that matter, it’s alright. For once, finally, it’s alright to just be.

“Do we have to?” Sam asks, sounding almost shy.

Dean turns to look at Sam who grimaces slightly. “I mean, do you want to? We—we can. I’m sure you’ve gotten used to—and I should—”

“Stop overthinking, you’re in paradise, dude,” Dean chastises gently, bumping against Sam. “We can do whatever you want.”

A smile tugs at the corner of Sam’s mouth and he ducks his head down.

Dean just stares at him a minute. Fuckin’ Heaven, indeed. On impulse, he adds, “And I ain’t. Ain’t seen any of ‘em. If that’s what you were thinking. Well, I saw Bobby, first thing. He’s who told me that Heaven was different. But I haven’t seen anyone else. Haven’t seen much at all.” 

Sam looks back up at Dean. His eyes aren’t still, they're all over Dean’s face, his body, like he’s trying to catalogue him. Dean wonders how long it’s been for Sam. Fuck, he forgot how healthy and young and good Sam looked at twenty-four. Age never made Sam ugly, but it’s like years of suffering and pain have been lifted away, brought back this healthy, sweet little brother before him, hurts of the world nowhere to be seen. Dean’s throat feels tight. 

Sam’s speaking then. “You haven’t seen anyone? Anything? What...?”

Dean shrugs. “Just felt like a drive.” The next part, he knows he’s in Heaven because he sure as fuck wouldn’t be saying this on Earth, when feelings weren’t safe, when uncertainties were of the dangerous sort. “I was waitin’. That’s all, you know?” 

“Dean,” Sam says, aching, face crumpled a bit like it was when Dean was dying in the barn, Sam at his hands and begging him to stay. 

“Hey, hey,” Dean soothes, giving Sam’s shoulder a bracing squeeze. “This is Heaven, man. It was a nice drive, wasn’t crying myself to sleep at night.” He considers. “Wasn’t even really a night. Time’s different here. Didn’t even feel like the forty years or whatever it must have been.”

He glances over at Sam, whose brow is still knitted.

Sam clears his throat. “Guess you’d be a bit tired of the road then?”

If Sam doesn’t want to talk about the life he had after Dean just yet, that’s fine. They got eternity and all that matters is they’re here at each other’s sides.

Dean snorts. “Dying didn’t make you any funnier,” he tells Sam. “Me? Tired of the road? C’mon, Sammy.” 

Sam rolls his eyes and sure, Dean doesn’t really know how long it’s been, but he suddenly feels the ache of the waiting. He missed that damn bitch face. 

“You wanna hit the road then?” Dean asks. He can hear the fondness in his own voice. Good.

Sam ducks his chin again. “Yeah. Yeah, that sounds alright.” 

Dean wants to kiss his cheek, or his forehead, the way he used to all the time when they were kids, that easy affection. Right up until Sam edged into grumpy teenage years and things changed for the both of them. Dean settles for ruffling that fluffy hair—okay, he missed it, sue him—as he steps away.  

Immediately, Sam is moving close behind Dean as Dean makes his way to the trunk, close enough that his giant dumb feet bump into Dean’s heels a bit. Dean doesn’t complain, just lets a smile tug at his mouth as he pops the trunk and asks, “You wanna try some bonafide Heavenly beer before we head out?” 

The bottles are ice cold on his palm as he grabs them, despite not having been kept in a cooler. Points to paradise for that. Sam takes one and peers at it curiously. “Does it actually taste, like, better? Or perfect, or whatever?”

Dean shrugs. “Dunno. Haven’t tried it yet.” I was saving it so we could share the first sip together, he doesn’t say. Sam ducks his chin. Dean knows he knows.

They crack the bottles open and take a drink. It's pretty fucking good beer.

The skies are cloudy and the air is crisp through the open window as they take the road until they come across what looks like an abandoned park, with a rickety table with bench seats and a rusted swing-set. Creepy on Earth, but a great place to stop to eat here. There's even a cute little woven basket with sandwiches and beer in it on the table, which is extremely amusing to Dean.

Sam doesn't take a sandwich, just watches Dean eat his like Dean might disappear at any moment.

“Keep staring at me like I got two heads and your eyes are gonna get stuck like that. C’mon, there’s a whole Heaven out there,” Dean cajoles like it isn’t his version of perfection to have Sam’s attention on him and him alone. Still, he’s surprised Sam hasn’t started adjusting just yet.

Sam laughs a bit but doesn’t even attempt to shift his eyes away from Dean, doesn’t try to deny it or justify it.

Dean sets his sandwich down and takes a sip of his beer. “Damn, Sammy. You actin’ like this, had to have been forever. What? You make it to triple digits or something?” He grins, imagining a toothless old Sam, rheumy-eyed and half-deaf and still sharp as a fucking tack, spouting off useless trivia to whoever would listen at the nursing home.

He almost misses it.

“Seventy-eight days.”

A beat passes. “What?”

That’s the face of twenty-four year old Sam staring at Dean with the eyes of the thirty-six year old Sam he left behind. Dean can’t get a read on him, on the expression there when Sam clarifies, “It was only seventy-eight days. I lived for seventy-eight days without you, and then I ended up here.” 

“No,” Dean says immediately.

“Yeah,” Sam replies, cautious now. “Look—”

Dean holds up a hand. There’s something in the pit of his stomach that he thinks might be the worst feeling paradise will allow a person. “Wait, just—just wait,” Dean says hoarsely. “Tell me you didn’t....”

“No!” Sam says instantly, getting up from his seat and coming to kneel beside Dean. His head still comes up a half inch higher than Dean’s, fucking giant. “No, I didn’t. I wouldn’t.” Sam’s big paw of a hand rests on Dean’s forearm. “Dean, I promise I didn’t kill myself. I promise.” 

Dean exhales on a shudder, ugly sensation lessening in his stomach, though his chest still feels tight. He lays his hand on Sam’s and breathes in that Eden-air. They’re safe. He can hear this. Dean turns his head to look Sam in the eye.

“What happened?” He makes a face. “Bet it was something stupid as fuck, huh? Ate some undercooked chicken or got bit by the wrong mosquito? You would.”

Sam laughs his sweetest Dean-laugh—short and bright and yeah, his eyes are a little watery, like he can’t help it, like Dean can make him laugh no matter what. Christ, Dean’s starting to feel that Heaven wasn’t just almost-perfect before Sam, it was a bit of a shithole actually, because this is like the sun coming out from behind a cloud. 

“Oh no, you would,” Sam volleys back, then his face softens a bit, brows coming down so Dean knows he’s serious again. “I wish it was something like that.” His eyes finally leave Dean’s face for what seems like the first time in—eternity, maybe. He’s staring at their hands on Dean’s forearm. “See, I couldn’t sleep very well, you know, after...after.”

Sam seems to stall after just that first bit, and Dean’s heart clenches again. “Sammy,” he murmurs. 

“I tried everything, man,” Sam starts back up and seems to have rallied himself into a momentum, full steam ahead now. “Meditation, yoga, melatonin."

Even now, Dean feels the urge to point out that that kind of hippy shit hardly ever works but Sam beats him to it.

"Then it got bad enough I went to see a doctor, got some scripts for heavier stuff. Even that didn't help. Just made me, like, sleep-walk. I'd be down for three, four hours a night and half the time I'd wake myself up stumbling into something, or falling." Sam's tilted his head down, watching his own fingers fiddle with Dean's. Dean feels goosebumps erupt over his flesh and thinks vaguely that's an odd thing for Heaven to keep around. Sam clears his throat. "I got outside a couple times."

Feeling uneasy, Dean places his free hand on the back of Sam's neck, brushing over warm soft skin and reminding himself nothing can happen to either of them anymore. He feels his fingertips dig into Sam's flesh slightly and Sam makes a quiet sound.

"Keep going," Dean says gruffly.

"I was working a case in Colorado, this small town next to a river. I think it was witches, just some weird deaths that had been cropping up the last couple months. Anyway, I got a cabin by the river, because it was the off season and it was cheaper than a motel. And the view was nice."

Dean's seen enough in his life and had enough bad luck to know where this is going, and he doesn't like it one bit. He slides his hand up from the back of Sam's neck to Sam's hair, cradling him close. He moves to touch his nose to the top of Sam's head, breathes in the scent of him. Sam turns his own face, his nose and mouth bumping Dean's jaw.

"I woke up in the water. God, it was freezing. And strong, I've never been in a current that strong. I was still half-asleep, and the sleeping meds, they fuck with you, make you weak and loopy. I couldn't have made it to the shore if I tried."

"Did you? Try?" Dean interjects.

Sam is quiet, breath puffing against Dean's face.

"I think so. Maybe." There's a click as Sam swallows thickly. "I don't remember. Last thing I remember is how the water tasted. Sharp, it tasted sharp. That's it." Sam's hand is still gripping Dean's forearm and Dean feels the sting of Sam's fingernails as his grasp tightens. Sam whispers, "Please don't be mad at me. I did my best, I swear, Dean I did—"

"Hey, hey," Dean says, pulling back only so he can get both arms properly around Sam's shoulders, his torso twisted awkwardly on his seat. He buries his face in Sam's neck. "I ain't mad at you, Sammy. I know you did, you did perfect. I'm so proud of you." The praise rolls off his tongue easier than it ever did in life and Sam shakes in his arms, mouth wet and gasping slightly on his shoulder through his shirt. "I'm just sorry that happened to you. I wanted you to have to have a good long life."

Sam inhales long and slow and pulls back enough to look Dean in the eye. For a moment Dean is startled to see his face, having expected the familiar long-haired, line-faced Sam he left behind, and instead seeing the Heaven-revived shaggy haired Sam before him instead. Sam's eyes are slightly watery, but Dean's relieved to see it seems he hasn't cried much beyond that.

"It wouldn't have been that good of a life without you," Sam says very softly.

"Don't say that," Dean says automatically, looking away from Sam's face. "I wanted you to—"

Sam's hand is on his chin, yanking his head back to force Dean to look at Sam again.

"I don't care," Sam says, fierce like he is every time they bicker. Dean won't admit it but he's glad he gets the same exact Sam in death he always had in life. "I fought because of you, I would have lived out all of my days because you wanted me to but I won't sit here and lie. What I wanted was you, with me, and life was pretty fucking shitty without you and I'm glad I'm here now, okay? I know seventy-eight days is disappointing to you, too short to you, but it felt like six fucking lifetimes to me, and I've been to Hell, alright? So just—so just—"

"Okay," Dean rushes to agree. "Okay, Sammy. I know, I know."

Sam is scowling at him still slightly, and it's cute as fuck, but Dean isn't going to admit that either. Dean rolls his eyes and ruffles Sam's hair just to make him scowl more. The euphoria Dean felt before this conversation started is beginning to rush back in and he drinks up the sensation greedily.

Dean continues, "It is what it is. And I-I am glad you're here, too. That we're—that it's over now. Just us."

Relaxing slightly, Sam sinks back on his heels, his face now lower than Dean's so he's looking up at him slightly. His eyes are gentle under his bangs. Dean's ears feel warm. Sam's just looking at him.

Dean clears his throat, and pats a hand hard on Sam's shoulder. "So we're good then, dude? You wanna get back on the road?"

Sam takes a moment to respond, still staring up at Dean, kneeling beside him. Dean feels like maybe there's such thing as too much euphoria, the kind that makes people do stupid things and he's a little worried maybe that's where they're headed. Eventually, though, Sam nods and gets up, long legs extending under him.

"Actually, is it weird that I kind of want to get some sleep?"

Dean slurps down the rest of his beer and stands up too. "Not at all," he says easily. They start to walk back towards the car. "I'm sure there's gotta be a motel around here somewhere. That work for you?"

Sam grins at him over the roof of the Impala. "Hell yeah."

Night finally starts to fall for the first time since Dean arrived, as they coast along the road and finally come across a dingy-looking motel, complete with a neon vacancy sign and beat up vending machines. There doesn't appear to be any sort of office, and there are no other cars in the lot. They approach a room at random and find it unlocked and undisturbed.

In life, Dean would have found a completely abandoned motel like this alarming as all hell, but now, it just feels like comfort. Sam kicks off his shoes, collapses onto the nearest bed, and is asleep in seconds. Dean snorts and ruffles Sam's hair before going to the other bed. He sits on the edge and watches Sam for a while, then stretches out on the scratchy comforter and passes out too.

Sam's voice wakes him.

"Dean."

Dean hums in response.

“I wanted to. I thought about it.”

Dean blinks his eyes open blearily, sees just the outline of Sam sitting on the other bed opposite him, moonlight touching the edges.

“Mm?” Dean hums again drowsily. “What’s that, Sammy?” 

Sam sighs, but it isn’t so exhausted as Dean had gotten used to hearing. It’s something softer. Something sweeter. There’s the creak of bed springs—and Dean thinks it’s strange, or not, that their Heaven still has shitty motel beds—and then the large black hulk of Sam’s body blocking the moonlight and the scuff of his feet on the floor. Dean’s mattress dips to one side as Sam sits on the end of it. 

“Sam?”

“Can I.” Sam says it just like that, like that’s the whole thought, the whole sentence, not even an entire question.

Dean rolls onto his back and rubs at his own chin, then his hair. He shifts over on the bed a bit, making room.

“C’mere. S’not like there’s any judgment left for us to worry about.” 

His own words settle a bit heavy on his ears, and he can feel the way they bubble up like boiling water, building and building, up to something—but not yet. For now, all they gotta mean is this: Sam crawling up next to him in bed like when he was a kid, a baby, and he had nightmares or couldn’t sleep, and he just wanted to be by Dean.

“Ow!” Dean hisses when Sam flops down beside him heavily, crushing his hand on the mattress.

“Sorry,” Sam says, not sounding sorry at all.

Dean grumbles a bit more, for pretenses, and folds his arms up under his head, staring up at the ceiling, though the room is so dark it’s just fuzzy blackness to his eyes. One sense down, his others are heightened, and the smell of Sam is even better than the smell of Baby was when he’d first hit the road after leaving Bobby. 

Eventually, Sam seems to find his words again. “I thought about killing myself,” he whispers.

Dean shuts his eyes. 

Sam continues, “I wanted to so bad, Dean, I’m sorry, I can’t lie about that either. You know, you’ve died on me so many times and it was—it was unbearable every time but there was always, always the goal of gettin’ you back to me. And this time you were never getting back to me.” Sam swallows audibly. “It was about me getting back to you. And I knew how to make that happen fast as possible.” 

Dean starts a bit when he feels Sam’s hair brush his throat, and Sam’s chin digging into his chest. Heaven. Dean exhales and drops one arm down around Sam, keeping him close, letting him know it’s okay. It’s good.

“I didn’t do it,” Sam keeps going, “not even because I promised you I’d fight. But because I knew you would have been so mad at me if I did. You’d have hated me. I didn’t want you to hate me.”

Sam’s hand is heavy on Dean’s sternum, thumb rubbing like he’s trying to soothe them both. Dean brings his other hand down to rest over Sam’s and realizes in one breath this is just how he died. Dean tips his head down to rest his cheek on the crown of Sam’s head. 

“I wouldn’t have hated you, Sammy,” Dean tells him honestly. “I never hated you in my life. Not ever, you know that?” 

Sam’s breaths are quiet and quick in the dark. “Not even when—”

“Not ever,” Dean says firmly. Doesn't matter what Sam's going to say, doesn't matter if it's any of the ways they hurt each other in life, any of the grief and pain. He doesn't think it's in his DNA to really, truly hate Sam.

Dean feels the shiver of pleasure that sends through Sam, like the contentment flowing through Sam’s body is bleeding onto his where they’re pressed together.

He thinks about when Sam would bring home his schoolwork to Dean, show it him first, if he ever even showed it to John. By the time Sam was in middle school he was bringing home essays and math quizzes above Dean’s pay-grade, way above, but he wanted—he always wanted to show Dean, see, perfect score! And the teacher said it’s the best essay she’s read in years! Didn’t I do good, Dean? 

He thinks about when Sam was even younger, and he'd spill a drink or tread on some crayon, messing up the carpet. He was always so apologetic, even though Dean made sure never to raise his voice or get too mad at Sam, because they both heard enough of that from John. I got it, Sammy, Dean would say, cleaning up whatever mess dutifully, usually with a kiss to Sam's cheek. Let me help, Dean, I'm sorry, Sam would insist.

“I wouldn’t have been mad at you, Sammy,” Dean says into the air of the motel room, which feels like the air of the hundreds of motel rooms of their lives, stale and both stuffy and frigid, and somehow like home. “But I’d’a been real sad.” He turns his face to drop a kiss to that cute little cowlick at the top of Sam’s head. “Real sad.” 

"I know," Sam says simply.

Dean wakes up this time with a knee to his gut, knocking the wind right out of him. He groans as he opens his eyes, wheezing on an exhale. It's not a kick, just Sam getting out of the bed as ungracefully as possible, limbs everywhere and a kneecap sinking into Dean's abdomen.

"Watch it," Dean rasps, flailing a limb out.

"Hey!" Sam says. "That was my eye!"

"Started it," Dean accuses, giving Sam's shoulder a good shove until he tumbles out of bed onto his ass, with a huff.

Dean flops back flat onto the mattress, rubbing his stomach. Sam curses him out a bit, then stands up, staring down at Dean with an extremely bitchy look on his face.

"Dickhead."

"Again, you started it," Dean says, pointing at him. "Besides, it's not my fault Heaven decided to keep pain around, what the fuck is that about?"

"So they can keep pleasure around," Sam says, matter of fact.

Dean stares at him.

Sam shifts where he's standing, something like a blush rising to his cheeks, which is so far the funniest thing that's happened in Heaven.

"You know, things can't feel good if you don't know what feels bad," Sam insists. "And anyway, the sensations of pain and pleasure exist on a very fine line, in the brain they're processed really—"

Dean throws a pillow at Sam, who knocks it aside with one big arm like it's a fly.

"Oh, shut up, man. We're in literal biblical Heaven, I don't think brain science or whatever is a factor here."

Sam opens his mouth to argue, probably to give Dean a philosophical lecture on how the two can coexist, so Dean cuts him off again, "Simplest explanation is that some people get off on pain. Can't exclude the masochists from their own typ'a Heaven, can they?" He tacks on his sleaziest smile for good measure.

That shuts Sam up nicely. He rolls his eyes and spins on his heel. "I'm gonna shower."

"You do that," Dean says, although he's not sure they really get dirty here at all, and waits until Sam's disappeared into the bathroom to get up and beeline for the mini fridge wedged into the far corner of the room.

Dean's macking happily on a slice of truly excellent banana cream pie when Sam comes waltzing out of the shower, in just a towel, pine-scented steam billowing out behind him. He's clutching his clothes in one hand and staring at them like he mistrusts them.

"Smell these," Sam demands, shoving them in Dean's direction.

"What? Dude, no," Dean says leaning back and cradling his plate close to his chest.

Sam purses his lips. "Come on," he wheedles. "I can't tell if they're still clean. Like, if Heaven clothes stay clean or whatever. I don't wanna wear dirty clothes."

He says the last part as if they didn't spend their lives as hunters on the road with a significant portion of their time sweaty, distressed, and at any level of relative uncleanliness.

Dean rolls his eyes. "I think Heaven clothes probably stay clean, weirdo."

Sam doesn't budge, still standing there are dripping wet and imperious. He really was much leaner before he Hulked out, Dean observes vaguely; he's more...lanky and slender, muscles held tight to long bones. Dean blinks and sets his plate down, heaving an exasperated sigh and ducking in to take a quick whiff inches away from the clothes. Detergent and Sam.

"Well?"

Dean clears his throat. "They're fine, man, like I told you."

Sam still seems hesitant.

"Jesus, you're just the same," Dean complains, like it's a complaint at all. "Put on the clothes. If they aren't to your standard, I'm sure we'll find somewhere that has other clothes wherever we go." He pauses. "Your clothes just smell like you, alright? They're not dirty."

Sam opens his mouth, shuts it, opens it again, then retreats into the bathroom to get changed. Dean stares at the door for a minute before shaking himself out of it and eating the last of his pie. He gets up to toss the plate and on impulse, goes over to the wide nightstand between the beds and pulls open the top drawer.

"Hey," Dean says when Sam steps out of the bathroom a moment later, back in his clothes. He waves a black tee at Sam. "This is your size. Heaven, right?" He sniffs it. "Doesn't smell like anything."

"Oh." Sam looks down at himself, tugs at the hem of his thin jacket. It hits Dean only then that he recognizes that thing. He's sure of it. That was really Sam's, a long, long time ago, even if he doesn't remember when. Dean likes it, likes the feeling of familiarity it brings, how it rests on Sam's shoulders like an old memory. Sam looks back up at Dean. "This is fine." A pause. "Dean?"

"Right," Dean says, jumping back into action and dropping the shirt back into the drawer. "See? All that fuss for nothing!"

Sam scowls, and Dean really forgot how fucking adorable that frown was under those bangs, far less intimidating than without. Dean bites back the smile because that'll just piss Sam off more, and Dean's not feeling like bickering just yet. That's always better on the road.

"You eat?"

"Not hungry," Sam says. "How are you hungry? Are we even supposed to get hungry when we're, you know, dead?"

"Oh, Sammy," Dean sighs, shaking his head. "Think big, man. It ain't about hunger, it's about food. You eat when you wanna eat, not when you're hungry. Look, I bet that fridge'll have whatever it is you're craving right now in it." He nods towards the appliance buzzing in the corner and Sam eyes it like it's something Interesting, something he could research, and not the possible purveyor of all things culinary and beautiful. "You know what? Never mind. Don't think I could take it if you got a fuckin' salad out of there."

Sam is on his heels as Dean leads the way out of the room. "Hey, you don't know if it'd be a salad."

Dean snorts. "I really, really do."

When they get to the car, Dean slides right into the passenger seat but Sam hesitates, standing outside holding his door open.

Dean sighs and leans over to peer up at Sam. "You wanna go get that change of clothes just in case, don't you?"

Sam gives him a sort of wince-nod that makes Dean want to hug him right then as though it's something they always do, then runs off towards the hotel room. He comes back with the clothes under one arm and an orange in the other hand. A fucking orange.

"Not a salad," Sam says happily, waving the orange at Dean as he tosses the clothes back on the bench seat and buckles himself in.

"Might be worse," Dean tells him whole-heartedly. "Where to?"

Sam pauses where he's been digging his nail into the skin of the orange, piercing it to get it open. "I don't know," he says very slowly, like the thought of a destination had never occurred to him. "I mean, we still don't even know where we are, right?"

Dean watches Sam peel the orange carefully, in long, measured pulls so there's only two long curled rinds at the end, rather than a pile of messy scraps like Dean would leave behind (if he even ate oranges, Jesus Christ).

"Dean?"

"Yeah, uh," Dean says, bringing his eyes up from Sam's hands on the fruit to instead Sam's face. "We don't. But once we decided on a motel before it just sorta showed up eventually, right? I figure maybe it's like, all roads lead to Rome, or whatever. Except it's like all roads lead to wherever we wanna go." Dean reaches over and grabs the discarded peels from Sam's thigh, then tosses them out the open window. "Don't get juice all over my car."

Sam rolls his eyes, just as a bit of a juice drips from the corner of his mouth down his cheek.

"Dude! What did I just say?" Dean yelps, reaching to thumb it away from Sam's skin before it can drop down. On instinct, he sticks his thumb into his own mouth, sucking the citrus away.

Sam's staring at him.

"You know what? Let's just start driving, see where we end up," Dean decides abruptly, and Sam makes no complaints as Dean starts the engine and pulls away from the motel.

He just keeps staring at Dean.

Dean stops thinking of time here as today or tomorrow, stops thinking of days at all. There’s just now, and sometimes later. Moments go on for as long as they need to, until the next one comes. The world around them changes only when they want.

However long in Heaven-time later, Sam's still looking at Dean. He's finished his orange, and Dean's been singing along to songs he's not really hearing but he can still feel Sam's eyes. It's making Dean itch.

"Staring's getting creepy, Sam," Dean says cheerfully, keeping his own eyes on the long, perfect road ahead of them. He wonders if it even matters, if the car would just drive itself if he looked away for too long. Like a fuckin' Tesla or something, but all holy.

Dean opens the window just to feel the wind, and hangs his arm out, enjoying the sun on his skin—warm, but gentle, like it won't ever burn him.

"Pull over."

Dean swivels his head to look at Sam. "What?" He's relieved to see Sam doesn't look panicked or anything, but not entirely reassured by the inscrutable expression that's on his face instead.

"I mean, pull over, please," Sam says, eyes doing that fuckin' puppy dog thing. Dean wants to be annoyed but he's too busy being endeared. "I think there's gonna be a clearing up ahead," Sam adds mysteriously.

Sure enough, sooner rather than later, there's a shoulder on the right, sand turning into dirt and moss at the edge of the woods they still seem to be passing through. Dean pulls into it, puts Baby into park, and looks over at Sam.

"What's up?"

"Let's just," Sam starts, but before elaborating, he's getting out of the car and going to the trunk.

Bemused more than worried, Dean waits a moment before turning off the car and getting out too, walking over to join Sam. Apparently waiting for him, Sam waves a bottle of whisky at him—expensive whisky, holy fuck—which definitely wasn't in the trunk when Dean last looked. Dean wonders vaguely if everyone gets magic car trunks or if this is a Winchester special. Without waiting for a word, Sam starts up towards the hood of the car and goes easy-as-you-please to sit out across it.

"Be caref—" Dean begins, jogging up to the front of Baby immediately.

"Calm down," Sam cuts him off carelessly. "Paradise means scratch free, streak free, dent free." He knocks his heel against the hood to demonstrate, giving Dean a minor heart attack until he sees that yeah, the finish is perfectly fine.

Still wary, Dean very gingerly gets himself up on the hood next to Sam, who opens the whisky with much gusto.

"Bit early, isn't it?" Dean comments.

Sam laughs, almost disproportionate to Dean's words maybe, but his dimples are out and he looks so young and happy, and dammit, dammit.

"I dunno if early is even a thing, Dean. Time is fucking weird here, you're right. I mean, how long did last night really last? Could you even tell me how long we slept?"

Dean frowns, pondering. "Guess not," he admits, thinking about how nightfall never came without Sam, even though his drive had lasted (just) seventy-eight days on Earth. Night came only when he and Sam wanted. Even so... "Still weird to be drinking in broad daylight when it's not even like, the world is ending or something terrible is happening, you know?"

He takes a swig from the bottle when Sam offers it to him anyway.

Several drinks later, Dean's forgotten this was an entirely impromptu decision on Sam's part and is kind of melting in place, eyelids heavy and body loose. He stretches out a bit, leg bumping into Sam's and his arms spreading out on the windshield as they lean back. His wrist bumps Sam's head but before he can apologize, Sam's leaning forward to let Dean lay his hand down properly, then moving back to rest his head on the inside of Dean's forearm.

Dean smiles and curls his wrist in to pet lightly over Sam's hair at the nape of his neck, when Sam turns his head to the side, cheek on Dean's arm and eyes on his face.

"Hey, Sammy," Dean murmurs, so very, very happy.

"Hey, Dean," Sam says. His are glassy and his cheeks are pink and he looks as blitzed as that one time Dean let him try a little weed when Sam was 15, all giggly and slow-moving and pleased.

Getting this kind of Sam on Earth was a rarity, something to be clung to desperately no matter how brief, and then eventually it was just a nonoccurence. It won't ever be like that again, so fleeting and all but a memory. Dean gets this forever and forever. Takes his breath away for a moment.

There's a rustle of wind and Dean blinks, looks around, and sees the sky's changed, that the sun has begun to dip, edging towards sunset.

"Now that's drinking hours," Dean says approvingly.

Sam snorts, and sort of—nuzzles into the crook of Dean's elbow. "That was definitely you making that happen."

Dean looks back over at him. Sam takes another sip from the whisky, a little messier. There's a drop at the corner of his mouth, just like the orange juice, and just like then, Dean reaches over with his other hand and wipes it away, then bring his fingers to his mouth to lick it off.

Sam exhales long and slow. "Dean."

Carefully, Dean pries the whisky bottle from Sam's hand and takes another drink himself. He notices just then that the bottle is empty. He tosses the bottle to the ground and Sam winces slightly at the shattering sound.

"You good, baby brother?" Dean says, easy as anything.

Sam's eyelids flutter and Dean hears himself, feels like he should panic. He doesn't.

Sam sighs and he shifts a little closer. "Yeah. 'm good." His hand reaches out and then his fingers are on Dean's face, so light, so careful. He's just tracing out Dean's features, like he doesn't know them by heart.

Dean thinks that he must, because no one has seen his own face more, knows his face better, than Sam. And no one ever will.

"I missed you," Sam whispers.

"I know," Dean says, trying to soothe.

"I remember," Sam breathes, slow, breathy, like they're both in a trance. "Your face, when you were dying right there in front of me. All of it. Perfectly."

Dean doesn't know when he moved, when he got up on his side, leaning over Sam a bit, looking directly down at his face. Sam's eyes are drinking him in. There's not a drug Earth could create that feels like this, Sam's attention all on him, just on him, and nothing there but love. No buts, ifs, ands or anything in between. It is, unequivocally, everything Dean has ever wanted, when it really comes down to it.

Sam brings his hand away from Dean's face, and stares at his own palm as if fascinated by it.

"I remember how your blood looked, felt, on my hand. I remember when you started to go cold, when your body stopped being warm against mine."

Dean grabs Sam's hand and presses a kiss to his knuckles. "I'm sorry, Sammy. I'm sorry. Didn't want you to have to go through that. I'm so sorry."

"Not your fault," Sam says, sweet and easy, as if it's the simplest thing in the world. Dean watches the movement of his throat as Sam swallows and lays his hand on Dean's shoulder. Dean has a moment of oh, God, not yet but then Sam says, "Did you mean it? About Stanford? Standing out there?"

"Course I did," Dean replies hoarsely, immediately. "I meant all of it. Every word." He swallows too, "When you asked me not to leave, when you begged me not to go. God, I wanted to stay so bad, I swear, Sammy. I didn't want to leave you, didn't wanna tell you no."

Sam quirks his lips up slightly. It smells like alcohol and pine between them. Dean pushes his bangs back from his forehead, thumbs over Sam's lips, trying to catch that tiny smile on his skin too, steal it away and keep it on his fingertip.

"I know," Sam says finally.

It's getting a little darker around them, nearer to dusk, the sky a muted lavender-blue at Dean's peripherals.

"When I first went to Stanford," Sam starts, voice slow. "I used to—I used to wish or dream or I don't know, something. I just. You'd come for me. Come to me, there. At Stanford."

The pleasure that runs through Dean at that feels almost...almost indecent. Makes him shiver. Sam's watching him. They're very close now. Almost as close as they were Dean died, foreheads together, legs tangled, hands held.

"Yeah? I come there to stay? Or to take you away? What'd you want from your big brother, Sammy?"

There's that sensation of words boiling and boiling, almost boiling over. Fuck, the way Sam's eyelids flutter, and his body—is he?...He's arching a bit. Dean feels dizzy.

Sam seems to get a hold of himself, relaxing back against the hood of the Impala and looking up at Dean with heavy-lidded eyes. "I don't know," he mumbles eventually. "I don't know. I don't know what I wanted. Just for you to come to me." His hands are in Dean's hair.

"And then I did."

Their foreheads are touching, finally. Last time they were like this, Dean felt death in his every cell, every atom hurting and the world around him sharp on his skin. He didn't belong there anymore and he could feel it. This time, he's never felt so right in any moment or space in his fuckin' life, not ever, not on the road on Earth, not in old Heaven.

"And then you did," Sam agrees. He sighs. Dean can feel his breath on his face, whisky-tinged. "God, you look so young. Almost like you did right before I left for Stanford, you know that?" Sam nudges their noses together. "I missed you."

Dean knows he isn't talking about those seventy-eight days now. He's talking about those four years. In life, Dean would have said you were the one that left, you left me, you made that choice. He would've torn open the hurts and let himself bleed just for Sam to see, to get how bad the pain was.

Now, he says, "I missed you too."

It's only a bit of surprise when suddenly Sam has him wrapped up in a full-body hug, like a koala, all legs and arms and his face buried in Dean's neck. Same as when he was a kid, clinging to Dean all the time, happy there. He's much bigger now, too big, limbs everywhere and kind of crushing.

"Don't ever leave again," Sam says, fierce, like a threat.

"I can't, what with us being stuck in Heaven and all," Dean points out, with some amusement.

Sam huffs, a hint of laughter there before he clutches even tighter. "You could," he says solemnly, right in Dean's ear. "You could still leave, Dean."

Dean thinks about how endless this Heaven must be, and all the people they know waiting in it, people they could go to, separate roads they could take. Makes him sick to think about.

"I ain't leavin', Sammy," Dean promises. He extracts himself from Sam's grasp and gathers Sam's wrists in one hand, pins them to the windshield above. "You can't either." He swallows. "You were the one who always ran before."

It's safe to say these things now, Dean reminds himself. Sam's eyes flash a bit, but he doesn't pull away or yell at Dean, so Dean counts that as a win.

"I guess I was hoping there was really somewhere to run to," Sam says, shrugging a shoulder.

"Why?" Dean asks, breath knocked out of him, eyes hard on Sam's face, meaning it: why?

"C'mon, Dean," Sam whispers. "Look at us. Look what happened to us. I've made peace with it, I'm...I'm happy with it. But you think it was okay? How bad we got when we were together? Jesus, Dean. The choices we made. World-ending shit." He knocks his forehead against Dean's. "We didn't even get to be separate people. Neither of us."

His hand is on Dean's chest, above his heart. Dean hears himself breathing harsh, a little hitched.

"I don't care that it's not okay, not anymore. Not like this, when it's just us and nothing else has to matter," Sam says urgently. "But back then I knew I should care, even if I wanted so badly to not have to care and just let us be. So I guess I hoped maybe I'd run somewhere that would finally be enough, finally fix it so this didn't feel okay, this thing we have. That I could save us both."

Dean laughs. "I didn't want to be saved. I never did. I never cared. Never wanted to care."

Sam smiles. "Yeah, I know. And I don't care anymore either. This point, not sure there was anything that needed to be saved or that was just because other people didn't get it. You know?"

"Yeah," Dean agrees, fervently. "Yeah, exactly."

Sam rolls eyes. "You know any shrink on Earth would be having a hissy fit by now. They have words for it. Codependent, enmeshed—"

"Shut up, Sam," Dean says, and Sam laughs, loud, raucous. Breath on Dean's face.

Dean braces himself and bumps his forehead against Sam's once more before rolling back over to lay flat on the hood beside Sam, their shoulders touching. The sky is still stuck at that pretty dusk color, one or two stars winking out. He wonders what time has passed on Earth. He closes his eyes and drifts for a bit, maybe, but then Sam is speaking again.

"Then there's the other part I was running from. And that's the part you did care about, the part you did want fixed."

Dean's heart skips a beat and he turns his head to look at Sam, who is staring straight up at the sky, looking away from Dean.

"Sam."

"No point talking about it unless you can say it, you know," Sam says, casual. "You ready to say it?"

Safe doesn't always mean ready, Dean thinks. He's not ready for this part. He's starting to miss the road, to miss the banter and the ease and the peace.

He swallows. "No."

Sam finally turns his head to look at him, fox eyes all knowing and warm, mouth quirked. His bangs are too long. He's beautiful.

"Okay," Sam says. He grabs Dean's hand and holds it against his chest with his own.

They're quiet for a long time.

When Dean blinks awake this time, he's again not sure how long has passed, or even if nightfall really came. He just knows he slept and now the sun's out bright again, a light cover of clouds passing by and what feels like an early morning chill in the air. He and Sam are still spread out incredibly uncomfortably on the hood of the Impala.

"Hey," he says, stretching his cramping muscles as he pokes at Sam, who grumbles and throws an arm over his own eyes. Dean winces at the tightness in his body and still isn't totally sold on this pain-in-Heaven thing. No hangover, at least. He sits up straight and pokes Sam again. "Wake up, lazy ass."

"Y'r th' lazy ass," Sam slurs tiredly, but removes his arm and squints blearily up at Dean. "What is it?"

Dean hops up off the hood and comes to the front to tug at Sam's ankle. "Up and at 'em. I wanna get on the road. Let's go!"

Sam groans as though Dean's given him a chore, and stretches his whole Sasquatch body out. His shirt rides up from his jeans a bit and Dean can see the elastic of his underwear. Dean looks away. There's a thump and a creak as Sam gets off the car and Dean feels it's safe to look at him again.

Sam's rubbing at his shoulder with a pinched look on his face. "Okay, sleeping on the car isn't comfortable even in Heaven," Sam says.

Dean realizes all his own aches and pains have vanished—so at least pain in Heaven is short-lived. He can work with that.

"You'll feel better in a bit," Dean assures Sam. "Now come on." He waves at Sam and marches over to the driver's side.

"Okay, okay," Sam grumbles. He slides into the passenger seat. "Bossy."

Once Dean's back on the road, cruising at a cool 97 MPH, Sam reaches into the glove box.

"Looks like they sided with you on the great cassette versus iPod debate," Sam says snidely, eyeing the (beautifully unaltered) stereo as he pulls out Dean's music collection.

"Yeah, cuz they know the right opinion when they see it," Dean says smartly, and decides to test his theory about the holy Tesla feature by watching Sam instead of the road.

Sam flips through the plastic cases, occasionally turning one around to read through the tracklist as though he doesn't have them just as memorized as Dean does.

"Since I'm dead, do I get to finally pick the music?" Sam asks, turning exaggerated doe eyes on Dean.

"No," Dean says firmly. "I'm dead too, you have no extra sway." He doesn't actually care too much about the music but he enjoys annoying Sam, so he reaches over and picks the mixtape he knows Sam will hate the most and shoves it at him. He turns his attention back to the road, even though his holy Tesla theory apparently checks out, because they haven't crashed. "Here, put it on."

"Oh, fuck you," Sam grumbles, but pushes the cassette in anyway. Guitar blasts through the car immediately, and Sam cranks the volume down to almost nothing, which Dean is pretty sure is cheating. He thinks not pointing this out makes him a very nice brother. Sam sighs. "Wow, I really do feel better. You know, nothing's sore anymore. Huh."

Dean drums his fingers on the steering wheel along to the very faint beat of the music under the hum of the car. "I told you they fixed Heaven up real good this time. Got everything all figured out."

"Yeah," Sam says, his voice going up in that I'm-finding-an-answer-right-now kind of way. "Yeah, you mentioned that. Who's, uh, they?"

Dean eases off the gas, slowing down just a bit.

He clears his throat. "Jack did it." He flicks his eyes over to Sam. "And Cas, too. That's what Bobby said, anyway."

"Oh," Sam mutters, voice still pitched like he's going to keep asking questions for which Dean doesn't have the answer and doesn't really care much about. "So do you think they're—they're here? Jack and Cas? I mean like, here in a way that we'll see them?"

Dean squints out at the horizon, thinking. "I don't know. I'm sure if we wanted to see them, we could."

"Do you? Want to see them?"

Dean sighs and looks back over at Sam. "Not right now, no. Later, yeah, definitely. But not now. That make me a bad person?" Before Sam can answer, Dean asks, "Wait, do you want to see them?"

Sam's eyebrows shoot up, as if surprised by the question, as if he hadn't asked first. "Me? No, no. I'm...I'm good, man. Here. With this, I mean. Us."

The smile that stretches across Dean's face is involuntary and probably gives away more than Dean wants, but it makes Sam's eyes do something soft and happy so any of Dean's reservations fade fast.

Then, Sam asks, "Shit, do you think they can see us, or whatever?"

Dean flinches, turning his eyes back to the road.

"Jesus, I hope not." He coughs. "Not like we're doing anything weird or whatever." He can feel the unspoken yet lingering in the air between them. "I just figure we spent our whole lives under some kind of surveillance, right? Least they could do is leave us alone in death."

"Right," Sam says, quiet. He leans forward and turns the stereo back up.

On some sudden impulse, Dean reaches out to turn it back down again.

"Hey," he mutters, still staring hard down at the pavement before them. "Cas said something to me, you know, before he, you know. He said something, uh, about me. Or about him, I don't know. It was, uh—" He blows out a breath, frustrated. "He said he was in love with me."

Sam shifts in his seat. Dean keeps his eyes on the road.

Finally, Sam says, "So was this news to you?"

Dean swivels his head around to stare at Sam. "You—?"

"Oh, come on, dude," Sam says, slouched comfortably back against the door so his torso is twisted towards Dean. "You gonna act like you didn't know?"

Dean frowns. "I didn't," he insists. Sam fixes him with a Look. Dean sighs. "I mean, maybe a little, but not...not really. Wasn't something I was spending energy thinking about, okay? Didn't expect him to ever...." He lapses into silence. Sam's still looking at him. Dean bristles. "What? You knew? Something you did spend energy thinking about?"

Dean's aware he's almost begging Sam for a fight over this, tempting them both into an overdue bicker.

Sam doesn't rise to the bait. He just keeps up that level-headed stare and says, very calmly, "I've always been able to tell when someone else thinks they're in love with you, Dean. Always. Since I was a kid."

The words ring in the air, falling onto Dean's ears one by one. The way Sam says it is like he's chosen every single word carefully, deliberately, put them together just so, just like that. He wants to ask, what do you mean by someone else? He wants to ask, what do you mean by thinks?

Problem is, Dean knows the answers to all that, and he's not anymore ready to talk about this than he was before. It feels like Sam's given him something though and Dean doesn't feel like Heaven is the place for him to get selfish, so he offers something in return.

"Wasn't like that for me," Dean mutters. "With Cas, I mean. I wasn't...I wasn't in love with him too."

Sam lets out a long, deep exhale. His eyelids are a bit heavy, a ghost of a smile on his face. Dean's said something right. Sam knocks his head back against the window behind him.

"Yeah," he murmurs. "I know."

On impulse, Dean says, "Good," and then turns the stereo back up before Sam can say anything in response.

It doesn't seem like Sam had anything more to say anyway; from his peripheral Dean sees Sam slouch down further in his seat, and then at some point, his eyes are closed and his face is slack, deep into a nap.

The good feeling is bone-deep as the Impala coasts along the endless road. Dean thinks he could let a couple centuries pass by just like this and never tire of it.

The trees have thinned and browned along the road beside them, and the sun is high and bright when Dean feels a pull in his chest, like something's tugging at him. He slows down the car and reaches a hand over to nudge Sam awake.

"Hey, dude. Wake up."

"Wassit," Sam mumbles.

"You got spit on your chin," Dean points out happily.

Sam makes a face and wipes it away hastily. "Why'd you wake me?"

"I dunno, feel like there might be something up ahead here. I think."

Sam scrubs at his eyes and turns to peer out the window. "Is it summer? How long was I out?"

"Hell if I know," Dean says, unbothered. "Didn't seem like even a day passed to me. Told you time is weird here."

"Huh," Sam says, like this has piqued his interest, another thing he wants to research. Typical. "So what did you think is up here?"

As if on cue, a clearing appears up ahead and Dean pulls onto it, then starts to follow a dirt road leading into the forest, a decaying wood fence along the sides.

"I don't know," Dean repeats honestly. "Just...just had a feeling, I guess." He darts his eyes over to Sam.

Sam scrubs a hand over his chin again and yawns, face scrunched up tight. "Alright," he says easily.

The dirt road narrows to a foot path eventually, so Dean puts the car in park and they get out. It's hot outside, like the height of summer in the Midwest but without the threat of heatstroke, somehow. Dean looks around, slightly beguiled. Sam seems perfectly fine to wait out whatever it is Dean's trying to achieve, and stretches in the sun.

"This it?" Sam asks after a bit.

"No," Dean tells him. He takes a step toward the footpath, following the slight tug in his chest. "I think...I think...." Trailing off, Dean walks on further, Sam following behind him.

After a time, Sam makes a noise. Dean cranes his neck to look back at him. Sam's brushing his hand through the leaves of the trees alongside them, spindly bare branches bending slightly at the pressure.

"What?"

Sam shrugs, looking up at Dean. His face is flushed from the heat and the sun, leaves and branches above casting shadows here and there. Dean never has to be without this again, never has to worry he'll lose it again. He turns to look ahead once more, ears ringing slightly.

Belatedly, he hears Sam finally reply, "Kinda feel like I've been here before."

"Yeah," Dean agrees faintly, and they don't say anything else as they keep moving forward, just the sound of the woods and their breaths to keep them company.

When they step into a new clearing after a while, Dean comes to a halt instantly and Sam bumps up against him at the sudden stop. The tugging feeling in Dean's chest resolves but to his eyes, nothing looks familiar. Sam seems to feel the opposite.

"Woah," Sam says, breathless and wide-eyed.

Dean's still entirely nonplussed. "It's a lake," he observes, squinting at the glare of the sun across the shiny water.

Sam huffs. "No shit, asshole." He bumps his shoulder against Dean. Dean turns to look at him. Sam raises his brows. "Don't you recognize it?"

"No...." Dean says, drawing out the syllable. He scans the clearing again, the stony shore of the lake and the sparse trees at the edge. "Sorry, Sam. Should I know this place?"

Sam's brow is knitted. He gnaws at his lip, like he's deciding on something, thinking it through. Dean lets him have his moment and looks around one more time, trying to figure it out for himself. In the distance, far across the other side of the lake through a thin line of brush, Dean sees the outline of what looks like a small house, a cabin maybe.

The skin on the back of Dean's neck prickles. "Wait—" he starts to say, just as Sam seems to have decided on helping Dean out.

"Picture it with snow," Sam tells him. He puts his hand on Dean's elbow and turns him to the left a bit, then gestures with his other hand to a beat-up looking dock at the edge of the water nearby. "See?"

Memory hits Dean like a sledgehammer to the head. "Oh," he mutters dumbly.

["Jesus, Sam!" Dean barked, marching down toward the icy dock. The minute he stepped onto the wood, he nearly slipped and fell on his ass. "How the fuck did you get out here?"

"Go away." There was that tone again, like Sam had the whole world to be angry at.

Dean was sure he hadn't been nearly so pissy at 16.

Dean ignored Sam's words. "You're not even wearing enough to keep yourself from freezing to death out here," he pointed out, as he walked more carefully across the slippery dock to stand next to Sam. Sam was wearing just a thin hoodie and an old beat up pair of jeans. Dean could see snow melting as it hit his ruddy cheeks. Not even a goddamn hat, Dean thought to himself. "Get inside. Now."

"No," Sam refused, crossing his spindly long arms around his chest.

Dean could see suppressed shivers threatening to wrack his body and thought Sam might crack a tooth with how hard he was obviously clenching his jaw in an effort to keep from chattering.

"Sammy," he sighed. "Look, I don't even know what set you off this time, alright? I've got dinner inside. Come back and we can...we can talk about it. If you want." The cold was biting at his own face now, and he shoved his hands in his pockets, his fingers frozen even through the gloves he had on. Dean glanced over and saw Sam's own hands were purple and red, winter chill probably sinking to straight down to his bone marrow. "Sam. I'm serious. Let's go. Look like you're about to die of frostbite on me."

Sam turned away from him. "You're only still here because we're snowed in," Sam said.

He was a good inch taller than Dean now, though Dean suspected he still had a few left in him, that he was going to be the annoying kind of tall. He was still skinny, lanky and slender, like he'd been pulled through a taffy machine, no matter how much he ate and no matter how many after-school sports he joined.

"What the fuck does that mean?" Dean said, trying not to chatter himself now. His breath clouded up so much in the frozen air it made it hard to see for a few seconds. He jumped up and down in place, trying to keep his blood flowing. "Christ, can we just go inside? Come on—"

"Fine!" Sam snapped abruptly.

Before Dean could process this change of heart, sudden as any of Sam's mood swings, Sam was whirling around on his heel as if to stalk off imperiously, but he slipped on the icy wood.

Dean caught Sam by the elbow before he went down, bracing himself to steady Sam. He'd never let Sam fall on his watch, not once, and he wasn't about to start now, no matter how much of a shithead Sam was being these days. The moment Sam seemed safe, Dean snatched his hand away, tucking it back into his pocket.

"Okay then. Let's go," Dean started gruffly, taking one step forward.

He wasn't expecting it when Sam's hand reached out and pulled his wrist from his pocket, and tangled their fingers together. Dean yanked his hand away immediately, and stumbled back so hard Sam had to be the one to steady him this time. Dean had never been afraid of Sam in his life. Not until now. Not until that look on Sam's face.

"S am." He pulled his arm from Sam's grasp and turned around, took a few deep breaths. Closed his eyes.

"That's the first time you've touched me at all in weeks."

Dean froze in place, though he couldn't feel the cold air at all anymore, couldn't feel the snow or the wind.

"Sam."

The crunch of ice rang in Dean's ears as Sam took a few deliberate steps to come stand directly in front of Dean. There was snow in his hair and even in his eyebrows, his eyelashes.

"Do you think I'm stupid?" Sam said. His voice sounded thin against the gush of wind that came with it. "I don't think you're s-stupid," Sam added. His teeth chattered, finally, but only just for a moment. "I know you know."

"Sammy," Dean pleaded. He was 20 years old and had never really known heart break until this moment.

Sam ignored him. His eyes blazed, and fear sparked even harsher in Dean's chest.

"I know too," Sam added, and shuffled forward.

Dean looked down when he felt the toes of Sam's shoes bump his own, and kept staring right there.

"I'm not stupid. I know. And I want...I...." Sam's teeth chattered violently for a moment, as he seemed to lose his words.

Sam's fingers felt like ice on Dean's cheek when he placed his hand there and Dean had no choice but to look up at Sam's face. Sam's lips were just about blue in the cold.

Dean let Sam lean in so close their mouths were less than an inch apart, and the white clouds of breath they each let out mingled together between them.

"No," Dean finally said then, and placed his palm firmly on Sam's chest, right in the center. "No, Sam."

The touch of Sam's forehead to his was brief and overshadowed by the horrible sound of something like a sob ripped from Sam's throat. Feeling as though he'd been punched in the gut and terrified Sam might pull away, or worse, run off again somewhere Dean couldn't find him, Dean got his arms around Sam and hugged him tight, hugged him close.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," Dean whispered, meaning it, meaning it like he'd never meant anything else in his life. "We can't. We just can't, Sam."

Sam had to hunch his shoulders to bury his face in Dean's neck, but he did, freezing cold nose pressed to skin kept warm by Dean's jacket. Dean could feel the shocking heat of Sam's tears there too. He was still narrow enough for Dean to wrap him up proper, still skinny enough to fit just right in Dean's arms, like if he needed to, Dean could gather Sam up and keep him safe forever like this.

"Sammy, it's gonna be okay," Dean promised without being sure it was a promise he could keep. "We're gonna be okay."

Sam shivered properly now, as though the last of his defenses had been broken down.

"Here," Dean muttered, fumbling for Sam's hands, which felt alarmingly stiff and cold. Bracing himself, he shoved them up under his own coat and layers of shirts. Dean hissed when they made contact with his own warm skin and Sam made a sound of discomfort too as blood likely rushed back into his flesh at the heat. "Gotta stop doing shit like this, Sam. I can't take it."

A new wave of hot tears spilled onto Dean's neck, accompanied by wet gasps, and the shaking of Sam's body in his arms wasn't just from the cold. Dean's own heart clenched and he bit the inside of his cheek as his vision started to swim.

First and only person to break his heart would be Sam.

Dean turned his face to the side, mouth and nose against Sam's snow-covered hair, the cold tip of his ear. He smelled like the shampoo Dean got on sale in town last week, before the storm came in hard. Sam's hands had begun to move on his torso and back, and Dean thought maybe he should put a stop to that—but Sam was gentle and quiet about it, just his fingers and palms roving over Dean's skin like he was trying to comfort them both. Like he was trying to memorize while he could.

Dean figured it wasn't much different than the way his own mouth pressed poorly concealed kisses to Sam's temple, his cheekbone, the shell of his ear.

When Sam's hands felt warmer on his skin again, Dean carefully pulled his head back, and stroked at the back of Sam's head, through the soft tangled mess of his hair, until Sam lifted his own head up too. Sam's eyes were closed and Dean could see tears and snot on his face. Just like he had since Sam was a baby, Dean brought his hand up and wiped it all away with a gentle thumb, then fixed Sam's bangs too. Sam still hadn't opened his eyes.

Before he could rethink it, Dean ducked in and pressed his lips to the corner of Sam's cheek, quick and dry. Sam made a sound that nearly destroyed Dean right then and there, but the moment passed and Dean took two steps back.

"Come on," Dean said, voice firm again. "You need dinner and a hot shower. And sleep."

Sam opened his eyes and made a face. "I can take care of myself, you know."

Dean raised his brows and put a hand high up on Sam's back, between his shoulder blades, and forced him to start walking carefully up the icy dock.

No point in telling Sam that it would always be Dean's job to take care of him, but Dean still counted it as a win that there was a smile back on Sam's face by the time they arrived back at the cabin.]

Coming back to the present feels like something that's actually happening, as if Dean's been plucked from that snowy evening twenty years ago and dropped right back into this sweltering swamp. The sun hits his eyes blindingly and he hisses, squinting and ducking his head.

"What the fuck was that?" Dean gasps.

"A memory."

Dean turns to frown at Sam, who blinks owlishly at him. Dean's not sure which of them is doing a better job of pretending to be okay right now.

"Yeah, I know. Why'd it feel like that? Like we were reliving it?"

Sam shrugs, scuffing his heel against dirt. Dean looks down and suddenly remembers, again, the toes of their shoes pressed together on the icy dock. He scowls harder and looks to the side, at a line of ants marching across a pile of sticks.

"Kinda felt like old Heaven almost?" Sam offers.

Dean snorts. "This wasn't a happy memory, though."

The silence that follows that stretches for longer than Dean is comfortable. He looks up and sees Sam studying him with an expression that is frighteningly similar to the one from all of those years ago, the one that scared the shit out of Dean.

"Wasn't it?" Sam asks quietly. Dean stares at him, dumbstruck. Sam sighs. "Dean, I'm not even the one who brought us here, you know."

The reminder makes Dean flush, inexplicably. "Hey, I didn't know this is where it was taking us," he says, probably too defensively. "Why is it summer now anyway? It was, what, the dead of winter back then?"

"February," Sam corrects immediately. "February of my junior year."

Dean knew as much. John had taken them there for a hunt, and then when the hunt moved too far out, he left them there and they got snowed in. Sam had missed school for two weeks. It had been one of the rare occurrences Dean had talked back to John, tried to chew him out for it when he finally got back to his fucking kids.

Sam sighs that bitchy sigh again. "Look, you still don't wanna talk about it, that's fine. I meant it, man. You don't need to get all weird about it."

Dean frowns, looking at Sam grumpily and caught between being relieved and confused by how nonplussed Sam does look, like he really isn't pissed about all this.

"I am not—"

"You are," Sam says over him, apparently genuinely done with Dean's shit. "Who cares why it's summer? You love summer. Winter was fucking miserable." As if to demonstrate, Sam goes about taking his jacket off and rolling the sleeves of his shirt all the way up over his biceps.

"Least I don't have to worry about you freezing to death," Dean tries to shoot back, and realizes not only does the barb fall flat, it's probably close to the truth: Dean's Heaven does include Sam healthy and safe and glowing in a summer sun, tan all over and pink in his cheeks, sunlight catching the colors of his eyes, and Sam—stripping his shirt off.

"Dude, what—"

"Being weird," Sam sing-songs, and tosses his jacket and shirt over his shoulder.

It's move that's as old as the hills and cheesy besides, but Dean feels at a disadvantage here so he grumbles, "You're being weird," petulantly as he follows Sam past the lake to the cabin on the other side of the clearing.

Miracle is waiting for them at the house.

All of Dean's Heaven-muted angst dissipates immediately at the sight of that shaggy fur and lolling tongue.

"Oh, there he is!" Dean crows and gets down on the ground to welcome a galloping Miracle into his arms. An enormous amount of dog spit is laved across his face at once, and he couldn't care less. "How you been, buddy?"

Suddenly, he feels guilty for not thinking of Miracle sooner. Dean turns to look at Sam, who has sat down beside him, looking at them with a goddamn sparkle in his eyes.

"I guess somebody must have found him after you...?"

He hates to think of the alternative.

Sam coughs, rubs the back of his neck. Dean finds himself looking at the dark hint of his underarm hair and averts his eyes immediately.

"No, no," Sam says awkwardly. "When the sleep thing got really bad, you know, I could barely trust myself to make my own breakfast everyday let alone take care of him. He deserved better. Killed me to do it but I found him such a good family. Couple of kids. Even let me come visit every once in a while, just to say hi."

It's sad to hear, and they both know it, but somewhere between the summer sun and Miracle's happy panting, the feeling doesn't linger.

"Look, they gave him a good life, too," Sam says, reaching one long arm over to brush over Miracle's ear. Dean peers closer and sees that the gold fur is laced through with silver. It's the only sign of aging on him, because he's wriggly and joyful as a puppy, but it makes Dean happy to know somebody around here lived a healthy long life.

"Course they did," Dean says heartily. "He's a champ. Aren't ya?"

He gives Miracle a hefty pat on his back and nudges him over to say hello to Sam, which he does with gusto, knocking him onto his back.

"Nice," Dean says approvingly, watching Sam struggle under the weight a bit, sneezing at the fur. 

"Yeah, yeah, missed you too," Sam is saying when it occurs to Dean.

"Holy shit."

Sam groans, sitting up and getting Miracle to lay down across his legs. "What?"

"If he's old, then it's been...dude, it must have been years by now." Dean stares at Sam. "Since you showed up, it's been years."

Sam blinks at him, hands petting over Miracle. "I...I, yeah. I mean, I guess it has."

Dean's lost all of sense of time here, it's true, but what has passed has only been a handful of moments by any measure, not a veritable decade, or more. It means, he thinks, that a second spent looking at Sam drooling on himself asleep in the car was months gone by down on Earth. Probably more than an entire year spent holding Sam close in that motel bed.

"Hey."

Dean blinks, shaking his head and focusing back on Sam.

"You alright?"

Despite all they've done, Dean's never been one to really dwell on existential shit if he doesn't have to. That's Sam's domain. Still, it's occurring to him all at once what this really means, what it means that they're dead and gone and in Heaven together. It means that all of eternity, every second and every millennium, gets to be stretched out with just them, with just Sam right here, with him.

Moments are months are years spent smiling at Sam, making fun of Sam, devoted to listening to Sam ramble and to his arm tight around Sam's shoulders. And he doesn't have to do anything but enjoy it.

"Dude." Sam's edged closer to him, hand on his knee, Miracle watching with mild interest nearby. "You good?"

Dean chokes out a slightly manic laugh. "Yeah, yeah. Jesus. I'm perfect." On impulse, he gets his arm around Sam—making direct contact with warm, soft skin because Sam's still fucking shirtless—and pulls him close. "Don't take this the wrong way but I'm fucking glad we're both dead."

It's Sam's turn to laugh, a short, startled thing. "O-kay...." he says, dragging the word out, clearly bemused.

"Sammy," Dean murmurs, can't help himself, but clamps his mouth shut before he says anything else.

Sam's breathing changes slightly, and he angles himself to fit into Dean's embrace better, their legs tangling. Dean hurts, would have done anything for this on Earth as much as he would have done anything to avoid it, too. He rests his palms over the jut of Sam's shoulder blades and presses his nose behind Sam's ear, breathing in deep. Over Sam's shoulder he can see Miracle has wandered over to a nearby patch of grass and is snoozing in it happily, his tail twitching slightly.

"Is—" Sam starts, voice small. "Can I...." He trails off and seems to decide demonstration is the best way to ask. Dean feels Sam's lips, warm and dry, brush the hinge of Dean's jaw.

Slowly, Dean nods. "But just this. Yeah?"

"Yeah," Sam agrees, and presses another kiss to the same spot, then another, and another, keeps going until Dean pulls back.

Dean bumps their noses together. Sam's eyes are a blur of hazel this close. "Wanna check the cabin out?" Dean offers.

"Yeah," Sam repeats. He seems almost sleepy with how his voice is so soft and his body is so pliant as Dean stands up, pulling Sam with him.

Miracle follows them into the cabin.

The inside looks almost the same as it did when they were here last, as well as Dean can remember. It has modest and outdated furnishings, and Dean again reflects on how Heaven's decided Sam and Dean must appreciate nostalgia more than luxury. Just as well, he supposes.

There are a few differences: a large flatscreen TV; a narrow bookshelf with dozens of untitled books that turn into whatever he or Sam want when grabbed; a shower with actually decent water pressure and a combined bathtub; a food bowl for Miracle that replenishes itself and a dog door; a few other things. Just enough that Dean privately thinks maybe this is where they're meant to be.

"Wow," Sam's saying for the third time, as he pulls out yet another book and flips through it excitedly.

"I think we've established it's a magical bookcase, Sammy," Dean tells him, patting him on the shoulder, and moving across the living room to peer out the window. Gorgeous view.

"It's just, this is even better than the bunker library," Sam explains, nose still in a fucking book. "Like, literally whatever I want, it's right here."

"Sure," Dean agrees, and moves back over to flop down onto the couch.

Miracle hops up next to him, head on his lap. The couch looks the same as it was when they were here in life—saggy and frayed and a horrible mustard color—but it feels a fuckton comfier. Nice. He grabs an innocuous-looking remote from the coffee table and clicks a button at random. Immediately, the TV blinks on to an incredibly high quality porno. A combination of loud moaning and slapping noises fill the room.

"Dude!"

Dean laughs, hard, and eyes the amazing ass on the screen for a brief moment. He clicks again and it flicks to an old re-run of Dr. Sexy, M.D. which he mutes but leaves on.

"Hey, you get your bookcase, I get the TV."

Sam purses his lips at him and returns to his book, brushing his bangs out of his eyes with an impatient hand, like they're getting in the way of him reading.

God, he's lovely to look at. Sam looks well and truly invested in his book, so Dean gives himself permission to do what he wants: stare at Sam, drink him in, the TV long forgotten. Dean's always appreciated beauty from a general, big picture kind of perspective: a person was hot, or not, and sometimes there was a nice feature, like nice tits or great arms, but there wasn't any reason to spend more time analyzing than that.

It's not like that with Sam. He's memorized Sam's face—would have, with all the time they've spent together, even if he wasn't...wasn't...anyway—but he never minds tracing over it again, and again, mapping it out. He likes the angles of it: the straight slant of his brows, the narrow tilt of his eyes, the arch of his cheekbones and the sharp jut of his chin. He likes the strong line of his jaw like this, from the side, and the way his throat is a collection of shadows and tan skin.

"Dean?"

Dean snaps his eyes back up to Sam's face. He realizes he's been staring too much and clears his throat. Sam is looking right at his mouth, which Dean realizes is slack, one of his fingers tugging at his lip. Dean drops his hand, rubbing at his knee anxiously, and jerks his chin toward the book still balanced in Sam's giant hand.

"What are you reading?"

For a moment it seems Sam's about to start an argument, and Dean's almost up for a bicker, but he sees Sam let it go. He glances down at the book.

"Oh, um. Gardening."

Dean's eyebrows shoot up.

Sam shrugs. "I dunno. When I was at Stanford, I did this community gardening project one semester my freshman year for a couple credits. You know, extracurriculars, looks good on the resume."

The reminder of Sam's life before Dean took it all away is jarring. Sam hasn't talked about the plans he once had in a long, long time. Stanford seems like a fever dream to them both, Dean thinks. Sam doesn't seem upset by it, though, and Dean lets the tight feeling in his chest ease as Sam keeps talking.

"But I actually ended up really liking it. Helping things grow, learning all the plants and how to take care of 'em and stuff. And the physical labor. I actually, uh, missed that. After—after I left. Using my body, keeping it strong." He runs a gentle hand over the flat pages of the book. "I kept meaning to make us a garden, you know. One day."

The sudden connection to Dean, the bridging between this undiscovered hobby of Sam's to something Sam apparently wished for them, as a unit, makes Dean's heart hurt. Dean doesn't know if he used up all his bravery in life, but he wishes right now most of all he had the courage to get over himself and just fucking kiss Sam. He looks past Sam, out the window, and his brain suddenly lights up with something.

Dean heaves himself up off the couch, dislodging Miracle. He gives him a pat in apology, and goes over to Sam.

"Come with me," he says, grabbing the book and setting it down on the coffee table, then takes Sam by the elbow and moves them down the hallway past the bedrooms towards the laundry room and back door.

"Uh," Sam tries, but doesn't get to say more before Dean opens the door and gets them outside.

"When we were here that winter, it had this old busted up backyard, basically just a dusty old lot—rusty nails and shit that could kill you, but I was thinking...."

They come to a halt.

"Dean." Sam squeezes his arm.

The dusty old lot is a grassy expanse now, stretching on for at least a half acre, as far as Dean can tell.

There's what looks to be a small greenhouse off in the farthest corner, and scattered across the area are overturned plots of rich looking soil, empty planters, stacks of flowerpots and hoses, tools Dean doesn't recognize but guesses Sam does. Close to them, the grassy land fades to something sandier and rockier, stretching to a large overhang. It's a workshop. There's a beat-up looking 1959 Cadillac DeVille, and everything Dean could ever need to fix her up good, and some old furniture he could restore too.

Dean cranes his neck and sees an adjoining section on the other side, where the Impala is conveniently parked already, beautiful as ever.

"I'll be fucking damned," Dean says, whistling appreciatively.

He sees movement at his peripheral and looks over at Sam, who is sinking down to the ground next to him, sitting on the doorstep with a gobsmacked look on his face. Dean joins him. Sam's eyes are slightly watery.

"Hey," Dean murmurs, brushing a hand over Sam's bangs. "You good?"

"I just," Sam says, blowing out a breath. "I didn't think we'd make it, you know? It feels almost ridiculous. To have lived what we did and now we're allowed to...to...." He gestures a hand out at the scene before them. "S'all I ever wanted and now I have it, I dunno."

Dean gets an arm around Sam's broad shoulders, squeezes him tight. "Yeah. I know."

There's the tap of claws on tile in the room behind them, and then Miracle's joining them outside, giving them each a good lick on the face before running out across the large yard, chasing what appears to be an actual fucking butterfly. It seems like Dean's existence is going to end in a chick flick after all, and he's more than okay with it. They watch Miracle for a while, and breathe in the air together.

Dean keeps his arm around Sam.

"I thought we were gonna end up at the bunker," Sam says after a while. "I mean, here, in Heaven. I thought when you were taking us somewhere, before, I thought we'd end up there." He reaches a hand up to grip Dean's over his shoulder and Dean fights the old impulse to pull away, to react to the toomuchohnonotsafe feeling.

"Is that where you wanted to end up?" Dean asks carefully. "Do you want to go find it?" It's the closest thing they ever had to a home, he supposes.

Sam looks at him. "No." His brow knits. "Unless you want to. I mean, we have forever, right? So if you want to—"

"I don't," Dean says, and is surprised by the finality of his own voice, by how much he means it.

"Me either," Sam tells him. "I mean, if that's where we would have ended up that would have been fine. But I'm glad it was here. The bunker was...."

The bunker was work, and death. The bunker was angels and demons, blood and fights. The bunker was the Trials, and the Mark, and friends lost. On impulse, Dean pulls his arm from around Sam just to grab his hand and bring it up to Dean's mouth so he can kiss his knuckles briefly. Sam makes a very soft sound. Dean drops his hand and looks back out at the world that's theirs now. Miracle's rolling around in the grass like he's taking a bath in it.

"So you wanna stay?"

Sam leans his head on Dean's shoulder, which is sappy and is definitely gonna hurt his neck. "Yeah, let's stay."

Sam is sweaty, tan, and wearing just an undershirt and jeans, like some sort of 1950s wet dream.

Dean watches him for a moment: watches the muscles of Sam's body shift and work as he digs at soil. Sweat always makes Sam's hair curl up, or maybe that's just the heat. Either way, Dean wants to get his hands in it. Sam lifts an arm to swipe the back of his hand across his forearm. He suddenly turns to reach for the flower pot by his side and Dean instantly looks away.

"It's okay, you know."

Dean coughs, and picks up the grit pad again, scuffing it firmly along the bottom edge of the bumper. "What is?"

"Looking at me."

Dean's hand slips, the grit pad skidding right off the bumper.

"You can look at me, Dean."

Hands trembling, Dean goes back to working at the dusty bumper.

"Thanks for giving me permission to use one of the five senses, Sammy."

There's the sound of Sam setting down the heavy clay flower pot, and the pad of his feet over grass and sand. He sees Sam crouch down next to him.

"Dean."

Dean's never thought much one way or the other about his own name, about the sound of it, except when it comes from Sam's mouth. When it sounds like that.

"You can look at me like you want me, Dean," Sam says. "Because you want me. You can look at me like that." Sam's hand reaches out and grips Dean's wrist, stilling his hand on the bumper. "You do look at me like that."

"Sammy," Dean says, closing his eyes.

Sam hand moves up to his forearm. "I want you to," Sam whispers. "I like it. I want you to look at me like that. You don't have to look away, you don't have to feel bad."

"You're my baby brother," Dean blurts.

"You're my big brother."

There's something about the way Sam says it that makes Dean's head spin for a moment. Dean opens his eyes and looks down at Sam's hand on his forearm. He swallows and starts back up on the bumper. Sam's hand tightens slightly, but he doesn't let go, following Dean's movements.

"I look at you like that, too. You know I do."

Dean's heart is pounding, which is more annoying than anything, because isn't he fucking dead? Dean drops the grit pad and rotates the bumper to the underside. Sam lets go of his arm so Dean can do it, but he just moves his hand up to Dean's shoulder instead—high up, so his thumb is warm against the bare skin of Dean's neck.

"I thought I didn't have to talk about it," Dean gets out. "If I don't want to. If I'm...if I'm not ready."

Sam is quiet for a long moment.

Dean focuses the grit pad on an especially scuffed part of metal. He starts slightly when Sam moves, a wave of guilt washing over him thinking Sam is leaving. He feels himself sag with relief when he realizes Sam's just shifting over to sit behind Dean, their backs pressed together. Sam is solid and broad. Warm.

"You don't," Sam says finally. "But can I? Talk about it, I mean?"

Dean wants to kiss him. He's spent almost two decades denying that urge, and it's easy, like a muscle reflex, to deny it now.

"Okay, Sammy," Dean allows, heart pounding again. He lifts the grit pad up to examine the metal. Still scuffed. He goes back at it, harder this time. He thinks about how Sam must be able to feel the movement of his body as he works, and swallows hard.

"Okay," Sam says. He sounds...grateful.

Sam's quiet for a while longer, and Dean's body starts to relax again, lulled by the rhythm of the work, the weight of Sam against him. He feels Sam sigh, heavy and long, before he speaks again.

"Do you remember when you got injured on that hunt, the summer before I went to Stanford? I'd just graduated, and Dad had us out in bumfuck nowhere chasing witches, I think."

That was the summer Dean thought he and Sam would finally be back on equal ground again, the summer he thought things were going to change for the better. He and Sam were supposed start taking hunts together, because time wouldn't be split around school anymore. Dean hates that his heart stings with that old hurt still, like he's 22 and naive, 22 and unable to see that Sam needed to go, needed to be free. His heart stings like Sam's still newly 18 and wants to leave.

Without waiting for Dean's response, Sam continues, "It was a knife wound, I think. Right here. Don't even remember how you got it."

Dean feels Sam's hand on the spot where his chest and shoulder meet. Sam must be reaching back and over to touch it.

"It missed the tendon. So you didn't need surgery or anything. Just a clean through-and-through the muscle." Sam's hand drops away. "But Dad made you sit out the rest of the hunt. You were so fucking pissed, I remember. I was fighting with Dad, over I don't even know what. So I was sitting out the hunt, on principle."

In spite of himself, Dean huffs a laugh. Even on his way out, before Dean and John knew he was leaving, Sam stuck up for himself in the most obnoxious, stubborn ways. He hears Sam laugh too, just briefly, before Sam goes serious-quiet again.

"It was just us holed up in this motel while Dad finished up the hunt. He would be gone days at a time, so it was really, really just us."

Dean remembers. Sam's hand is still heavy on his shoulder, fingers tracing like he can still feel the injury through Dean's shirt.

"Anyway," Sam says, heaving a sad-sounding sigh. "Like I said, it was just us in the motel for that week. You started to go stir crazy...or something."

Dean coughs, and Sam's hand grips him harder, as if fearing Dean will pull away.

"You started going out. You'd leave in the afternoon and you wouldn't come back until late at night, usually drunk. You tried to be quiet about it, you weren't like, shit-faced. But you were drunk enough you sort of went right to sleep in your clothes." There's a pause. "You were seeing someone. Or just sleeping with him, I guess. His name was Tyler. I think you really thought I didn't know. He wore bad cologne. I could smell it on you all the time."

Dean puts the bumper and buffer down, grips his own knees. "Sam."

Sam forges on. "But the injury—it was hard for you to change the dressing and check the stitches yourself. So I had to do it, every day."

A breeze blows through the overhang, and Dean hears Sam breathe in the fresh air heavily.

"You'd sit on the edge of the bed and I'd get up behind you, take off the bandages and check the wound. I remember—I remember your skin. I think you and Tyler did it outside a lot, or at least I guessed as much, because you came back more and more freckled every day. Drove me fucking insane."

"Sam."

Louder now, Sam continues, "I wanted to taste you so bad. My mouth hurt I wanted it so bad, you have no idea. You know what that does to someone? That kind of wanting? Jesus. I was angry with you, for being beautiful, for being my brother. My fucking brother. I wanted to scream every time I had to change that goddamn bandage. Every time I had to look at you I wanted to destroy something."

Dean remembers it vividly, that week of absolute hell he'd pushed to the furthest corners of his mind, buried in equal parts by shame, fear, and the overwhelming pain of Sam leaving just a few short months later. He doesn't remember Tyler's face even the slightest.

"It's funny, because you wouldn't look at me at all. It was almost impressive, living out of a tiny motel room with one person for an entire week and they manage to never quite look directly at you."

"I had to," Dean starts, but Sam's still talking.

"But when I'd get my hands on you to change that bandage, God. You'd shake. All over. Never seen you shake like that. I tried to be so quick and gentle, too. I was afraid if I wasn't, we'd just like, combust and blow a hole into the Earth right there." Sam laughs slightly at that but Dean can't get enough air to join him. Sam keeps going. "That wasn't even the worst part. To get to the other side of the injury, at the front part of your arm, I had to get off the bed and come around."

"You had to get on your knees," Dean blurts, then flushes. He remembers all too well. Remembers wanting to kill himself over it.

Sam lets out a shaky breath. "Yeah. I did. Because of the angle."

They're quiet for so long after that Dean thinks Sam's told as much as he can, so he picks up the bumper and buffer again—which is, of course, when Sam starts back up again. He's not pulling any punches now. 

"We'd both get hard. Every time."

"Sam," Dean says, dropping everything with a clatter.

Sam pays that no mind. "I'd tell you exactly what was going through my head at the time but—"

"Please don't," Dean begs.

More quiet, and then Dean feels and hears Sam shift behind him. He realizes Sam's turning around when he feels Sam's hands on his shoulders and Sam's breath on the back of his neck. He can feel Sam's knees at the small of his back.

"Anyway, there was something about it, too, taking care of you when it was usually always the reverse. Getting to touch you, having you trust me to do it all right. I loved you so much, Dean."

"Not enough to stay." The words are out of Dean's mouth before he can stop himself.

One of Sam's hands moves from Dean's shoulder to wrap around his neck, no pressure, just the solid weight of his palm over his throat. Dean closes his eyes. "M'sorry."

"No, you're not," Sam says, lips brushing over Dean's ear. "You have to understand. I was 18. I hated my father and my father hated me."

"He did n—"

"Shut up, Dean, and just listen, alright? I was 18. I hated my father, and my father hated me. I had no friends. And I wanted to spread my legs for my brother. Do you get that? After I'd finish with your wound every day that week, you'd get up and shove a few condoms in your pocket thinking I wouldn't see and you'd go off and screw some—some nobody. And I'd think, don't go, Dean, stay here. Don't fuck him. Fuck me, I'm your brother, you should be fucking me."

There's a swooping sensation low in Dean's belly. He opens his eyes again. 

"See, for you, the fact that I was your brother was the reason you shouldn't fuck me, right? It was the opposite for me. And I knew that was insane, I knew it was. But I couldn't help it. I was...I was starving, like an animal. If I stayed there, unable to have you, I swear to God I would have starved to death and taken you down with me. I had to get out. I was saving my own fucking life by getting out."

Sam's chest is pressed to Dean's back now. Dean wants him.

Sam starts up again, "You've always underestimated how fucked up I am, Dean. You've always decided you're more fucked up than I am, that I'll just never get it. You know what I told myself every single day up until the moment I left for Stanford that summer? I told myself, if Dean fucks me, I'll stay. I'll have everything I ever wanted and I'll stay. I woke up every morning hoping that would be the day you'd just fucking do it."

"Jesus, Sammy."

Sam's other hand comes around to rest over Dean's sternum. He seems to like that place now, as if reassuring himself it won't mean Dean's death if he touches there again.

"So after you'd leave to go screw Tyler, I'd steal one of your dirty shirts from your duffel, shove my face in it, and get myself off in two minutes flat."

Dean's very close to reaching a breaking point.

"And the whole time we were there you wouldn't so much as look at me. It was too much. So yeah, I fucking left. I left to go be normal because I was the furthest thing from normal there was and I was alone with it, you left me alone with it."

Dean grabs Sam's hand on his chest and digs his fingers into the back of it, hard enough to make Sam hiss. "I wasn't going to fuck my baby brother, Sam, don't you dare blame me for that."

Ignoring that, Sam moves his hand up from Dean's throat to brush his fingers over Dean's chin and lips. "Here's the kicker, Dean. I didn't tell you about that one week because it was really very special. It wasn't. That's been my life since I was about 13 up until the day you fucking died in my arms for good."

Sam dips the very tip of his thumb between Dean's slack lips.

"I honestly think it's worse knowing it was the same for you. Took me a good couple years after I left Stanford with you to realize you really weren't ever going to let it happen, even if you wanted it just as bad. I ran away from it all at 18 just to get stuck with it again for the rest of my life."

Sam pulls his hands back. Dean misses them.

"Thanks for letting me talk about it," Sam says politely.

Dean blinks, shaking his head slightly. It seems the line between Heaven and Hell can be finer than he thought.

"Yeah," Dean says gruffly.

He hears Sam get up and walk back towards his flower pots, then pause. "You know, I think I'm gonna go to take a swim."

Dean shrugs, now buffing at the bumper once again, more aggressively this time. "Have fun."

"Dean?"

"Yeah, Sammy."

"If you're waiting until you're bleeding out in my arms again, or I'm about to die, or one of us is going to face the devil or something...if you're waiting for something like that to say and do the things you want...that time is never coming anymore. Nothing like that is ever happening again. It's just us, man. You and me. So you don't get a reason to be honest with me except that you want to. If you're waiting for an excuse, it ain't coming. We're safe."

Sam comes over and kisses Dean on the temple—quick and dry, so fast Dean barely feels it—and leaves Dean to his work.

Sometime later, Dean finds himself wandering out to the dock. Last time he was out here—playing fetch with Miracle while Sam read a book on the rocky shore—the trees were dull, the grass was frosty and the edges of the lake were slightly frozen over.

Now, it's hot as when they first arrived, and the sun makes the water shine bright. Dean can see Sam floating on his back a few feet out from the end of the dock. His jeans and shirt are folded up neatly near where Dean is standing.

On impulse, he strips down to his own underwear but doesn't get in the water, just stretches out on the warm wood of the dock, and shuts his eyes against the glare of the sun. He knows Sam is aware of his arrival. They've always been able to tell when the other is nearby, and Heaven's only made it that much easier.

The summer heat sinks down to his bones, makes a comfortable sweat bead up over his chest, and he dozes for a time.

At some point, he hears a splashing sound and sits up to look down at the edge of the dock. He sees Sam perched there with his feet kicking lazily at the water. The ends of his damp hair are curling at the back of his neck, and Dean watches beads of water, stubbornly refusing to dry in the humid air, trailing slowly down his back to the waistband of his boxers, along lines of muscle and knobs of his spine and dark freckles here and there.

The sun is still high and proud in the sky, and Sam's happy. Dean can tell even without seeing his face.

“Sammy.” 

Sam starts slightly, like he wasn’t expecting Dean to say anything, and twists his torso and cranes his neck to look at Dean, one eyebrow raised.

“C’mere.”

When Sam doesn’t move, Dean sighs impatiently and waves his hand at Sam. “Come here.” He taps the wood of the dock directly in front of him with his foot. 

Something changes in Sam’s face, and Dean’s own heart starts to pound as his body catches up with his mind. Sam gets up and walks the few paces over, then sinks down slowly, kneeling directly in front of Dean. His hair is a fucking mess. Dean reaches a hand out to fix it, push his bangs back into place or comb out the top with his fingers, but Sam catches him by the wrist. 

“Dean.”

Dean didn’t know his name, just one word—one syllable actually—could hold so much. He hears a warning there, a plea, a reprimand, a caress, a question. 

Sam’s skin is hot like burning when Dean gets his hands on it, one on his neck, the other on his back, but his mouth is even hotter under Dean’s. The gasp Sam lets out is satisfying like Dean never could have imagined anything would be. Sam’s own hands are frantic, almost clumsy on Dean, like he doesn’t know what bit of skin he wants to feel first. 

It feels like the few times Dean ever went to a beach when they were alive, the way staring at waves crashing onto the sand felt—something powerful but not harsh, the slam of water onto land was inevitable and strong but not scary, not too much. It's just like that, kissing Sam with everything he’s got all at once, years of wanting and the opportunity to have it all means he has no mind for any sort of teasing or hesitation. He’s in there immediately, holding Sam tight and close with a fist in his hair so he can get his tongue between Sam’s lips, bite at his tongue.

Sam moans, and he moans pretty as anything Dean’s ever heard. Everything about Sam is pretty, always the prettiest thing in Dean’s world. Sam pushes close, clambers all long-limbed and demanding onto his lap. 

Sam must have soaked up the Heaven-perfect sun right into his skin, he’s so fucking warm and he’s stupid soft over firm muscle. Dean’s making sure to grab at every part he can get, and dizzily remembers that he can bruise Sam here. Dean’s not a masochist or a sadist but he sure appreciates Heaven keeping pain around now if not for anything but the marks. 

Sam whines even sweeter into his mouth when Dean clutches hard at his hip, thumb pressing down as firmly as he can through the elastic of Sam’s boxers over the sharp point of his hipbone—trying burst capillaries there, leave a bright red stain that’ll turn purple and blue and black. Sam’s hips jerk and when Dean feels the solid bulge of Sam’s cock against his stomach, his whole mind goes fuzzy. 

Sam must feel Dean’s dick too. He bites Dean’s lip hard enough Dean tastes iron.

“Y-You’re hard,” Sam whispers into his mouth. “God, Dean, Dean. You’re hard for me, fuck.” He sounds a little deranged.

Dean wants to fuck him up so bad, so fucking bad. 

“Take ‘em off,” Dean says, hands yanking at the damp material of Sam's boxers. 

“Yeah, yeah,” Sam babbles, rising up and wrestling with the wet fabric. “You, too, you—your, yours—get ‘em—”

He’s stuttering, like just this has robbed him of his words, something Dean didn’t even know was possible.

Dean nods and leans in to drag his teeth along the jut of Sam’s clavicle before lifting his own ass up to drag his boxers down. The minute he’s tossed them to the left somewhere, he gets his hands back on Sam’s body. 

Sam clutches Dean’s face between his hands and his eyes, hazel around blown wide black, stare down at Dean’s for a breathless few seconds before Sam is crashing their mouths together, artless and needy. Dean’s lips sting already, swollen and buzzing. Even though they’re kissing nasty and shameless, spit and teeth everywhere, he can’t get enough, he wants more, more, more. 

Dean shoves his tongue so far into Sam’s mouth it should be gross, there’s no tact to this, no skill in trying to choke Sam on it—but the slight gagging sound Sam makes is accompanied by the feel of Sam’s dick twitching against his abdomen. 

Dean groans, and kisses his way along the edge of Sam’s jaw, to his neck. Sam leans his head to the side, all accommodating and needy, and Dean sets his teeth over the flutter of Sam’s pulse as he wraps his hand around Sam’s dick.

“Fuck,” Sam breathes. It sounds like a prayer in a church, gentle like he’s on his knees in a pew and not on top of his big brother, naked and impossible to refuse. 

Dean seals his lips over the thin skin at Sam’s throat and sucks hard, obsessed with leaving another angry mark, right here where he can look at it whenever he wants. The sun is glaring down at them, making sweat bead at Dean’s temple. He feels Sam shift and crane and then Sam’s mouth is there, licking up the perspiration. Sam whole body shudders and his dick leaks precome onto Dean’s knuckles.

“Jesus, Sammy,” Dean mutters, jacking Sam’s dick three, four times. His own cock hurts, balls tight and screaming, but he can’t be bothered to attend to it, not with the way Sam is going all shivery and perfect in his arms. “You close already, huh? Yeah, I can tell. Yeah, yeah.”

He hears himself, hears the soft croon to his voice, the big-brother tone he can’t seem to stop.

It seems to be doing it for Sam anyway, because he gives a trembling cry at Dean’s words, hunches his shoulders—he’s always too damn tall—to bury his face in Dean’s face and fuck his hips up. Dean hums and turns his face to press his nose into the sweaty hair just above Sam’s ear as he starts to work Sam’s cock properly, tight and fast. 

Dean can see the blue-green water of the lake and further away across it, the outline of the cabin. He thinks about how this place looked covered in five feet of snow and Sam’s cold-brushed red cheeks and nose when he leaned in trying to kiss Dean here, all those years ago now. He thinks about how many lifetimes they've had to live since then.

All worth it for this, in the end, Sam squirming and panting against him, dick drooling sloppily all over Dean’s fingers. Sam groans, long and drawn-out, and then his hand is wrestling between their bodies and gripping Dean’s dick.

“Sam!” Dean gasp-chokes, hips bucking up. His dick is screaming still, almost too sensitive for touch. 

Sam is shuddering like it’s winter all over again and not the stifling heat of dead summer, but his fingers are clever and sure on Dean’s cock. Sam pulls his head back, straightening so Dean is peering up at him again and then Sam ducks down for more kisses, now languid and indulgent, spit on their chins. 

Every place where their skin touches is sharp in Dean’s mind, and it seems like they’re touching all over, Sam’s thighs over his, their shoulders bumping, mouths meshed together. Dean is hyper-aware of it all and he’s never felt half as destroyed as this, not ever, not in all they’ve seen and done.

“Wait, wait,” Dean gets out in a rush of thin, stuttering words. He feels Sam stop breathing for a moment, and Dean hurries to kiss wetly along Sam’s shoulders and chest in reassurance. “Just, just—hold on—”

He flails his hands on either side of himself, groping blindly until he feels his hands hit one of their jeans, his or Sam’s it doesn’t matter, and fumbles for the pockets. When his fingers hit a plastic bottle, Dean thinks it must be certain they’re not gonna get kicked out of Heaven for this when Heaven’s providing the means for it on demand.

Dean pulls the lube out and knows Sam sees because Sam moans and grips his chin, pulls him in for a biting kiss. Dean uses his free hand to grip Sam’s ass tight, fingers curling in, in, until they brush the tight furled muscle of Sam’s hole.

“Oh, fuck,” Sam drawls, going sort of liquid in Dean’s lap, hands gripping Dean’s shoulders like that’s all that’s keeping him upright—and Dean hasn’t even actually done anything yet.

It breaks something in Dean’s brain, that shameless reaction, a rush of power and desire making him stupid. He starts running his mouth as he pulls his hands away to drizzle lube over his fingers.

“Jesus, Sammy. You want it that bad? You wanna get fingerfucked by your big brother that bad?”

“Dean,” Sam hisses, rubbing his cock against Dean’s abdomen and raking his nails over Dean’s shoulder blades. 

“Hey,” Dean murmurs, rubbing lube-slick fingertips in circles over Sam’s hole and using his other hand to grip Sam’s hip and push him back a bit. “Like this,” Dean instructs, getting Sam sitting closer to his knees so Dean can look up at the whole length of him.

Sam looks fucked up, looks ruined, cheeks fever-red and eyes all watery and unfocused.

Worried he might come himself with a single touch, Dean takes a deep, steadying breath and pushes a one finger slow and deep into Sam. Sam whimpers, whimpers like a puppy, and his head lolls back, mouth falling open.

“Another one,” he slurs.

Feeling almost high, Dean nods dazedly even though Sam can’t see before tucking his second finger in. Sam is molten silk inside and he’s clutching at him, suffocating his fingers. Sam’s on display like this, and Dean’s allowed to look now, he’s supposed to look. 

“God, look at you. Want to eat you alive, feel fucking crazy,” Dean mutters, fucking his fingers in slow and easy and dragging his eyes hungrily over Sam’s body, the stupid-long length of his torso, his flat belly and peaked nipples, the way his skin is tan and pink all over.

Sam's dick is heavy and long at the crease of his thigh, swollen and drooling so much precome is puddling onto his skin.

“Got a pretty dick, baby,” Dean hears himself rumble. Maybe he’s in some sort of trance.

Sam’s whole body jerks like he’s been electrocuted, and he suddenly forces himself down all the way to Dean’s knuckles.

“Dean,” he says, choking halfway through the word, like his mouth is full of spit. He rolls his head forward, staring at Dean with glassy, fuck-me eyes, and reaches a hand out, grips Dean’s chin and leans forward to kiss him messily.

Dean pulls his fingers out of Sam and before Sam can protest, he says, “Lay—lay down for me. C’mon, Sammy, that’s it.”

Getting Sam laid out on his back for him is the most religious experience Dean's ever had, and he's met, and killed, God.

"Spread your legs," Dean orders, impatiently, nudging at Sam's knee.

Sam obeys, which is like a heady drug on its own. If he'd known this was the way to get Sam to do whatever he wanted however he wanted, he might have given in years ago, because he's a sick fuck who wants to devour his little brother whole until there's nothing that can possibly separate them.

"D-Dean," Sam stutters, face splotchy red. His eyes are on Dean's cock.

Dean whistles lowly and drags his palms up Sam's tense thighs, slow as he can, before moving without warning to shove two fingers back inside Sam. Sam jack-knifes upwards before falling back onto the dock. His fingers clamp around the base of his own dick in a white-knuckled grip, fucking strangling the hell out of it.

Dean sees how the tip of it twitches and drools precome and feels like his brain might melt out of his own ears. He looks up and sees Sam’s eyes shut tight, his lip caught between his teeth.

“Fuck. Fuck,” Dean says, all he can say for a moment. He shimmies down to lay flat between Sam’s legs, tilting his wrist up so he can rub circles just around the edges of Sam’s prostate, and kisses lightly over Sam’s fingers still wrapped tight around the base of his own dick. “Were you gonna come, baby? Gonna get off just like that for me? Wasn’t even touching that pretty dick, was I? Fuck. S’hot, you’re so hot. Wanna fuck you forever.”

Sam’s dick twitches again, and Dean’s so near he can see the veins in Sam’s cock bulge for a second. Dean starts fingerfucking Sam in earnest again.

“Fuck yeah,” Dean whispers throatily, kissing along the spine of Sam’s dick, tasting sweat and musk and lake water and skin. Precome makes his lips sticky, taste salty-sweet, tastes like Sam.

“Dean, m’gonna,” Sam whines, sounding lost, sounding needy. “Fuck, m’gonna—if you don’t stop, I’m—I’m—”

Dean groans, fucking his hips against the unforgiving wood of the dock, can’t even help himself. He gets a hold of Sam’s wrist and yanks his hand away with force, then starts to work the weeping head of Sam’s dick himself, unrelenting.

“Want you to,” Dean slurs, nosing into the coarse curls at Sam’s pelvis, fucking him harder, faster.

“Dean,” Sam moans, sounding frantic, almost beside himself, and he’s loud and pushy, fuck, writhing around, his feet kicking at the dock and Dean's back. His hands are in Dean’s hair, nails scratching at his neck.

Dean tap-tap-taps at the slit of Sam’s cock and rubs fast, dead-on, at Sam’s prostate, thumb and pinky pressing hard at the sensitive-soft skin of Sam’s hole.

His entire body might burst into flames, face hot and temples pounding. He kisses at the wrinkled tender skin of Sam’s balls—they’re drawn up so fucking tight—and spits onto the base of Sam’s cock, sucks him down until the tip is punching a bruise into the back of Dean's throat. 

He pulls off and licks dirty and messy over the length of Sam. His whole face is gonna smell like Sam after this.

“Oh—oh,” Sam’s whimpering, tiny, high-pitched noises and then a deep, low groan.

Dean feels him curl up slightly, abdominal muscles twitching where Dean can just see over the length of Sam’s cock. 

“God, please, Sammy,” Dean bursts out, fucking Sam as good as he can with his fingers, deep and hard, and kissing along his balls and perineum, licking over his own fingers at Sam’s hole. “Please. Y’know how long I’ve been waiting to make you come? Years, baby. Years and years. C’mon, c’mon, want you to come so bad, so bad, Sammy, you don’t even know.” 

Sam groans something that might be Dean’s name and then his hips are fucking up powerfully, just once, and staying there, thighs shivering.

Yeah,” Dean moans, sitting up to the watch just as Sam’s big dick shoots up high—so high he stripes his own cheek, and then his chin. “Fuck, Sammy. Coming so hard for me.” 

Dean keeps fingerfucking Sam, doesn’t falter, and ducks down to pull Sam’s dick into his mouth. Uncaring for how messy it is, Dean sucks him properly through it, works his mouth up and down, so there’s come and spit everywhere. Sam sounds unhinged, sounds hurt, and his hands are on Dean’s head, pushing him down, wanting him to take it.

Dean groans, takes it, and smooths a palm up Sam’s trembling sticky abdomen, brushes over his nipples. Sam stops shooting into his mouth and yeah, Dean almost cries when Sam wraps one hand around Dean’s on his chest. Dean is shaking all over, cock swollen and heavy and so hard he can’t think. He fucks his fingers into Sam a few more times just to hear those overstimulated noises—as sweet as he thought they would be, then pulls them out.

“Dean.”

Dean surges up and kisses Sam filthy and unrelenting. There’s come on both their faces, and spit everywhere, the smell of Sam’s dick between them and the sun still baking them into a sweaty, sticky mess.

If it didn’t feel like Heaven before this, it sure does now.

“Fuck me,” Sam says, demanding.

Dean barks out a shaky laugh. “Jesus, Sammy, m’not gonna last that long, I—”

Sam bites Dean’s lip, licks up the last remnants of his own come from Dean’s face. “Just get in me then,” he breathes. “Just—come on, you can come in me, I just want—inside, c’mon—”

“Sam,” Dean cuts him off, shutting him up with a kiss before Dean comes immediately, right then, without a touch from either one of them. It’s his turn to fumble a hand between them and choke the base of his dick, will himself not to come. 

Sam makes a kitten-noise, a little moan-whimper that should absolutely not be allowed ever again because it makes Dean stupid, makes everything but his lizard brain shut off for a few blinding seconds. Sam’s hands are running all over Dean’s body, his shoulders and chest, through his hair. He places them on either side of Dean’s jaw and leans up to kiss sweetly on Dean’s chin and cheek.

“C’mon, Dean,” Sam says, in a voice that sounds like he learned how to talk this way somewhere, how to manipulate Dean into whatever he wants. “I want it. Want your dick in me, c’mon.” 

Dean realizes belatedly and with a flash of dizzying guilt and pleasure, that it’s not a voice learned in someone else’s bed, but the same voice Sam used to get Dean to let him have the sugary cereal for breakfast.

Dean used to think he was going to Hell—before he knew about deals and demons and preordained fuckin’ fate—just for wanting Sam, for looking and for looking away. Now here he is actual Heaven, with Heaven-sent lube and Heaven-hot sun on his back, about stuff his baby brother full of his cock because his baby brother is begging for it.

“M’gonna come so fast, baby,” Dean tumbles out, meaning it, as he guides his cock, still strangling the base, to Sam’s hole. 

“Okay,” Sam breathes agreeably, like that sounds fantastic. He wraps all his too-long limbs around Dean, tugging him down and kissing his shoulder, inhaling deep. 

Dean presses the head of his cock just inside, mouth falling open at the push of slick-hot muscle around the tip, and pauses to regain his composure when Sam starts talking again. 

“Used to wish you’d call me baby, don’t even know what it does to me to hear it, Dean, Dean. Used to—used to—look at your dick in those—fuckin’ sweatpants you always wore. Free-balling all the time, fuck. Fuck, I hated you for it. You know I used to get hard just thinking about it? You know that? Oh fuck. Fuck, wanted your dick as long as I can remember, Dean.” 

Dean’s not sure at what point in there he shoves in all the way and starts to come, hard, like he’s been beat near to death by it—but it’s somewhere in the midst of all that babbling, Sam’s raspy, fucked-out voice in his ear like sin. His balls are straining with it, sore against Sam’s ass where he’s pushed in as far as he can go.

Sam’s holding onto him, holding him through it. Dean’s died in his arms more than once and this feels a bit like that.

“Sammy,” Dean finally gasps out on the tail-end of his orgasm. He starts to rock his hips again, eyes rolling back at the feel of his own come wet inside Sam’s ass around his cock.

“Fuck. Fuck, yeah, you—you came inside me, Jesus, I’m leaking, Dean, I’m—”

Dean blinks his eyes open and tilts his chin down to see Sam looking halfway to devastation. Sam’s hard again and Dean's own dick is sore, the clench of Sam hurts now. Ignoring that, Dean brings his hand down to where their pelvises are pressed close and manages to get a few fingerfuls of his own come oozing out of Sam around his cock.

Dean’s hesitant when he starts to bring his hand back up. Sam’s not. Sam grabs his wrist, brings his hand up and swallows his come-covered fingers right down, throat clicking with it.

“S-Sam,” Dean stutters.

Wondering vaguely if he can pass out in Heaven, Dean wraps his free hand around Sam’s straining cock, still tacky with come from his last orgasm. Dean stretches up a bit to kiss the sweaty-slick hollow of Sam’s throat and starts babbling helplessly again as Sam rocks his hips between Dean’s overworked cock and Dean’s tight fist.

“Gonna blow again, baby?” Dean mutters and Sam twists underneath him, feet kicking audibly on the dock once more. “Yeah, yeah. My baby, always been my baby. My baby brother, yeah. Gonna fuck you forever, s’what you want. Mine, only mine. You come so good, show me again how pretty you come. That’s it, that’s it.” 

When Sam comes he sinks his teeth into Dean's shoulder, harsh enough Dean wonders if he’s drawn blood. Sam goes limp once it’s over. Dean can feel come webbing between his fingers when he pulls away, globs of it like this wasn’t Sam’s second orgasm in—in however long this was. 

Dean finally pulls his cock free and shifts up, hovering over Sam on one elbow. Dean feels like his entire body has been sapped dry, muscles shaky and movements jerky. He finally combs Sam’s hair with his cleaner fingers back into some semblance of neatness. 

“Hi,” Dean murmurs when Sam blinks his eyes open. He presses his trembling palm to Sam’s cheek. “Hi,” he says again.

Sam’s eyes are remarkably clear all at once, though his face is still bright red and shiny with sweat. He very gently puts his own hand over Dean’s on his cheek. All at once it’s like Dean can see, clear as day, the much older Sam he left behind when he died. This is the face of his angry, frightened, stubborn little brother at twenty-four but it’s also not—it’s every year they lived (and died) after that, the wiser, more tired, still stubborn little brother at thirty-six he loved until his dying breath. 

The world tilts a bit as Sam turns them onto their sides, facing each other, and nudges their noses together. The sun doesn’t move but Dean suspects a few decades probably pass for how long they stay like that.

"I'm happy," Sam announces later, when they're in the lake together and the sun has finally decided to sink in the sky, so the air is golden and cool.

He's floating on his back, and Dean is standing up beside him, water up to his chest. "Better be. Heaven wasn't a cheap ticket, you know," he teases, and bends down to kiss Sam on the lips.

He's happy too.

Sam still uses the kitchen to make his meals, appliances and all, even though Dean has demonstrated that the oven or fridge will produce a completely ready-made meal at their will whenever they want. Sam insists that cooking itself is a pleasure, and Dean knows it's because he's domestic at heart.

Dean watches Sam retrieve a tray of potato wedges from the oven, his hair still damp from the lake. Dean shakes his head before turning back to the TV.

"Okay," Dean says, "what about The Parent Trap?"

Sam snorts. "The Parent Trap?"

"Oh, come on. It's a good movie. You got any better ideas right now?"

Sam is pouring himself a beer from the tap near the fridge. "No, no, it's fine. Lindsay Lohan was good kid actor."

Dean frowns, staring at Sam puttering around like a fussy old lady over his dinner. "Lindsay Lohan?"

"Yeah," Sam says. "She plays both twins. Pretty good effects actually, and she's playing off herself, which is really talented, in my—"

"Woah, woah," Dean cuts him off. "Lindsay Lohan is not the twins. The movie is from like, before she was born, dude. It's some blonde kid. Where the fuck did you get Lindsay Lohan from?"

Sam comes over, plate gripped in one hand and beer in the other. He sits down carefully and sets his his food and drink on the coffee table. Immediately, Dean picks up the beer and takes a sip for himself. Sam makes a face but doesn't reprimand him, apparently too focused on this ridiculous Lindsay Lohan thing.

"Oh, you wanna watch the original."

"The original?" Dean asks, incredulous. "Man, there wasn't a remake."

"There was," Sam insists. "Are you fucking with me? Everyone knows about the Lindsay Lohan version. It's the better one, actually."

For that, Dean steals three of Sam's potato wedges. "I think you're fucking with me. Lindsay Lohan, come on."

Sam stares at him. "You're serious," he says.

Dean looks back at him, unruffled, and steals another potato wedge.

Sam grabs the plate and holds it close to himself. "Okay, look," Sam huffs, and clicks a random button the remote. A movie cover with two little Lindsay Lohans appears. Parent Trap, it says below the image, 1998.

"You made that up," Dean says dismissively. "You can make anything show up here." He reaches out for another potato wedge.

"I can't create an entire movie out of thin air," Sam protests, and dodges the plate away from Dean's hand. "I'd like to taste my own food, asshole."

Dean shrugs. "Okay," he says, and surges forward to give Sam a kiss, open-mouthed and quick, then pulls away. He steals a wedge as he goes. "There. Delicious."

Sam makes a face. "You're disgusting."

That seems to be a lie, though, because they don't even get around to turning on the dumb movie. Sam kisses Dean again, grumbling about what an asshole Dean is, and then they make out on the couch for so long Dean starts to wonder if they should do anything else, ever. At some point, Sam ends up sprawled over Dean, a heavy, too-big weight. Sam's head is on his chest, his legs tucked up awkwardly over Dean's, though he doesn't seem to be bothered.

Seems happy, right where he is. Dean wraps an arm around him to keep Sam there.

"That remake is real," Sam says drowsily. His lips are all puffy and swollen from being kissed, and his hair is a fucking mess.

"Sure, dude," Dean tells him placatingly. Sam can have his stupid little lie. Dean combs his fingers through Sam's hair, neatening it and working out the tangles he put there himself. "Whatever you say."

Sam flicks Dean half-heartedly, and makes an adorable grumpy noise, but otherwise doesn't argue. His face is slack, near sleep. Dean's feeling it too, yawns big and kisses the top of Sam's head. He wonders if other people in Heaven sleep as much as they do, but figures they deserve as much rest as they want, actually.

When he wakes up, his head is on Sam's lap and Sam's got his hand in Dean's hair. Dean squints up at the book Sam is holding with his other hand. Something about herb gardening. He debates making a housewife joke and decides against it, tucking it away for later.

"Hey," Dean says, voice throaty.

Sam sets the book aside, thumb rubbing over Dean's cheekbone. "Hey, sleepyhead."

"You slept too," Dean points out, scrubbing a hand over his own face.

"I wasn't complaining," Sam tells him, thumb of his brow and nose now. "It's nice to see you looking peaceful when you sleep." A small frown flickers over Sam's face. "Used to seeing you have nightmares all the time."

Dean grabs Sam's wrist and kisses his palm. Affection has never been Dean's strongest suit outside of life-threatening situations and he's all the more appreciative of it now.

"You, too," Dean tells him, and it's true, one of the simplest pleasures he's found here is watching Sam sleep without any sort of pain or fear crossing his face, just a quiet slackness.

Sam's curls his fingers and drags them up and down Dean's chest a few times. "Can I ask," Sam starts, then stops.

"Sure," Dean says confidently.

Sam frowns down at him. "No, it's...." He trails off, then starts up again. "What were most of your nightmares about? I know, like, everything showed up sometimes. Especially right after something happened. At least for me, but...but what was...?"

Dean quirks his lips. "My most frequent flier?"

Sam huffs a laugh, and spreads his out flat across Dean's chest. "Yeah."

The last years of Dean's life, every moment of sleep was plagued by nightmares, so much so he started to forget there was any other way to sleep.

"You died a lot," Dean says baldly. Sam winces, but nods, as if in agreement. "It'd get all mixed up, the ways you died, you know? Those were the worst. Hell showed up a lot. The Mark. Michael." He shivers slightly.

The memories feel far, far away, and thinking back to them has a surreal quality, as if distorted by their distance from Heaven, but they're no picnic to think about regardless.

Sam's hand is under his shirt, petting at the softest part of his belly, and the movement feels natural, like Sam's done it his whole life. Dean wonders if it's something Sam's wanted to do his whole life. He has that line between his brow he gets when he's thinking especially hard. Dean reaches up and smooths it away with his thumb.

"What about you?"

"You dying, yeah," Sam says slowly. "Demon blood." Sam trips over the words still, even after all this time, this is something that's never gotten less difficult. Dean shifts slightly where he's laying. "Lucifer. The Trials." Sam's other hand flutters over Dean's eyes, and his fingers touch them at the corners. "When you were a demon," Sam says. His voice is very, very soft.

Dean knows a lot of people worry they don't live enough, that their lives are too small and they need to do more. He thinks he and Sam lived too fucking much. It's impossible to look back even now and understand how they survived it, and then it occurs to him, that, actually, they really didn't. And maybe that's okay. 

"Hey, Sammy?"

"Mm?"

"We don't ever have to think about that shit again, if we don't want," Dean offers.

"Yeah?"

Dean wonders if there are parts of Sam still expecting Dean's forgiveness, still expecting Dean's anger. For the life of him, Dean can't remember what any of that would be.

"Yeah. It's all over. Just us, like you said. M'happy. Got you, don't I?" It's not the most eloquent thing to say or even all that he could say but it seems to be what Sam wants to hear.

Sam heaves a long, shaky sigh, and a pretty smile stretches across his face. It's been odd to see such a young-faced Sam talk about these kinds of memories, memories that wore them both down and aged them, and it's strange to see Sam relax with relief from them, too.

"Good?" Dean checks.

"Good," Sam affirms.

Dean turns his head to kiss Sam's belly through his shirt, then sits up and grabs the remote. "Wanna watch porn?"

The sigh Sam gives this time is much more long-suffering.

The trees are orange and red and there’s gusts of wind billowing leaves around when Sam’s outside playing fetch with Miracle and Dean finds weed in one of his tool boxes. 

“Weed, huh?” Dean asks, sauntering outside and intercepting the ball before waving the little bag at Sam.

Sam snorts and tugs the ball back from Dean before tossing it for Miracle once more. “That’s not on me.”

Dean blinks. “Hey, it wasn’t me. I haven’t thought about weed in....” He frowns. “Well, not since I got here anyway.” He leans forward and gives Sam’s shoulder a shove so when he throws the ball again, it veers wildly to the left. “C’mon, Sam. You wanted weed, we got it.” 

“I didn’t conjure weed, Dean,” Sam insists, though when Miracle comes back with the ball Sam just offers a scratch behind the ears and a treat before turning to Dean and sighing. “Yeah, alright, let’s do it.” 

“Knew it,” Dean crows, and continues to try to get Sam to admit this is his fucking Heaven-weed as they go back inside.

There’s a pack of rolling papers sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting for them. “That was me,” Dean says confidently. 

“Yeah, yeah, you’re a real stoner.” 

It takes more work than Dean expected to roll up a proper joint but it’s worth it for how Sam’s lips purse around the tip and how they slacken to release smoke. They pass it back and forth, and Dean gets to watch with a syrupy brain as Sam’s eyes get progressively glassier and droopier, and how, eventually, his mouth just sort of stays parted, his body loose under Dean’s eyes.

If time was weird here sober, it’s something else stoned. Everything’s flowing together but not at all. He’s just watching Sam and listening to Sam’s breath, and then he’s thinking, I’d sure like to touch him right now. Next thing he knows, Sam’s got him flat back on the couch, and they’re making out like a couple of teenagers who’ve never been alone together before.

It doesn’t even go anywhere. Sam keeps him pinned and kisses Dean dizzy for so long, years probably. Sam’s hands on his arms and his chest, fingers flat and pressing into his belly, thumb rubbing over the trail of hair under his navel.

Dean’s working an impressively even, hard earned row of marks down Sam’s neck and shoulder when he notices the sky’s dark outside. First time he’s seen a night here in what feels like a while.

He thinks he says, “Hey,” to Sam to point it out because next he’s listening to Sam saying something about being to able see all the stars, that all the stars must be out in Heaven, the way they never are on Earth, because of lightbulbs or electricity or something, Dean doesn’t know. 

He does know that Sam wants to see the stars, and they’re in Heaven, and Dean loves his brother so fucking much, loves him and gets to love him until the universe caves in or whatever. So he sits up, grabs Sam’s hand, and takes him out to the dock to look up at the stars like Sam wants. 

This is one of those moments Dean realizes they’re dead. They never could have had this alive, could never have had anything close.

“Woah,” Dean says, his own voice echoing and tinny in his own ears. The inky sky looks like it’s been splattered with white and silver dashes of paint. He blinks at it, and thinks his mouth might really be agape. “There’s...so many. Of them. The stars. Dude, look.”

Is that Sam laughing at him? Dean doesn’t care. Sam’s hand is heavy on the back of his neck and Sam’s mouth is gentle on his temple and Sam’s saying, “I know, I told you, see? So many of them and most people on Earth have no idea.” Sam kisses Dean’s cheek too. “We covered ‘em up, with all our light. Can see them now though. Heaven and all.”

Dean keeps blinking up at the sky.

“Heaven and all,” he echoes in agreement. 

When he finally looks away from all the fucking stars, too high to even guess how many, Sam’s at the end of the dock like he was before, in that blinding sun and heat. His shirt’s off again, Dean couldn’t say when that happened, but he’s still got his jeans on, and instead of being sweaty, his skin’s a bit pebbled by the cool air.

Dean stares at Sam’s back, and the dim image of it the moonlight. He’s not as muscled as he was when Dean died, but he’s not as skinny as he was before he left for Stanford. It’s still a body Dean knows as well as breathing, the way he’s always known Sam’s body, in whatever shape at whatever time.

It occurs to Dean that this part of Sam, his back—shoulders and spine and hips—is something he knows better than he knows his own. Dean’s seen Sam’s back more than he’ll ever see his own, and he’s touched it, cared for wounds and had his arms there hugging Sam tight and his palm between his shoulder blades rubbing in a circle to comfort Sam and now he's had his mouth on each dark freckle.

He spent his life watching every muscle move in every way, stayed one step behind Sam on countless hunts, watching his back, taking care of him, always.

“What are you doing?”

Dean’s broken from his weed induced reverie to see Sam watching him expectantly. Dean’s both high and dead so he has nothing to lose by saying the truth. He sighs and scoots back to lean against the pole.

“Looking at you,” he says simply. 

Sam blushes. Dean can see it even in the dark, under that ridiculously thick blanket of stars. It’s pretty fucking cute, but Dean keeps that to himself. It’s easier to focus on looking when he ain’t talking anyway.

Sam coughs and rubs a hand over his shoulder, then turns back around to look out over the lake again without giving Dean one word of protest.

If Dean isn’t going to bother lying about having his attention on Sam, then clearly Sam isn’t going to bother lying about liking it that way. 

Dean’s suddenly aware of the wood pole of the dock digging into his back, rough wood pressing through the fabric. He rolls his shoulders to readjust and all at once thinks about how his back is Sam’s too—cared for and seen and known better than Sam’s own, a place for his hands and his eyes.

Huh.

“What?”

Dean blinks again. Sam’s turned around on the dock, still in the same place but now sitting facing Dean, legs crossed. “What?”

Sam’s smile nearly splits his face in two, and his teeth catch the starlight. Christ, only Heaven could drive Dean to thinking like this.

Sam laughs. “You said, huh? So? What was it?”

“Oh,” Dean says, thinking hard. He sighs and stretches his legs out, rolls his head up to stare at the stars, then looks at Sam again. “Wouldn’t want anyone else to ever have my back ‘cept you, Sammy. Wouldn’t want anyone else to know it.”

Sam’s eyebrows raise then knit together. “You that easy with weed?”

Maybe Dean will get to explain how fuckin’ profound his revelation about backs is when he’s sober. Maybe by then he’ll have forgotten. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter that Sam’s looking at him like Dean’s a bit nuts. He likes when Sam looks at him like that, like Sam’s the expert on Dean and anything weird Dean does, he notices right away.

Or maybe Sam’s laughing at him again. Whatever. It’s all the same.

“It was me,” Sam says, and oh, he’s right there, sprawled flat on his back just before Dean. He’s got his arms spread wide, one across Dean’s legs and he’s turned his head to the side, staring at Dean like Dean’s the one covered in a bajillion-fuckton stars. 

“Hmm?”

Sam curls his big hand over Dean’s kneecap, thumb rubbing over the seam of denim at the side. “The weed. It was me.”

“Ha!” Dean says, not too high to appreciate this. “Knew it.” 

“No, listen,” Sam murmurs, all droopy and pretty and Dean doesn’t know how he was ever supposed to have a world outside of Sam. "It was for a reason," Sam says, but doesn't elaborate.

Dean hums, and shuffles around until he’s sitting right up aside Sam’s side, looking directly down at him. He reaches a hand out, meaning to touch, and stops an inch away, palm hovering just above Sam’s navel. He still freezes like this sometimes. The old gut instinct of don’t touch, keep it together, stop that, is still there. A lifetime of self-restraint tied up in his gut and turning his muscles to stone.

Sam’s used to it. Sam’s sweet. Sam’s smarter and wiser and kinder than Dean. Sam doesn’t say a word, just uses his own hand to grasp Dean and guide it down to his skin.

“I love you,” Dean says.

He thinks the weed has settled in the whorls of his fingertips, made every cell and nerve there more sensitized. He swears he can feel all the tiny lines and hairs and pores of Sam’s skin here, the twitch of every tiny muscle beneath the surface. Dean flattens his whole hand out. Sam’s tall and broad and strong but he’s always had such a tiny waist. Dean’s hand almost spans the width of it. 

“I love you,” Dean says again. “So much. You know that?” He ducks down and kisses right over Sam’s solar plexus, right in the center. His skin is warm on Dean’s lips. 

Even though Dean’s bent at a bit of an awkward angle, when Sam’s hand comes down on the back of his neck as if to keep him there, Dean stays. He feels Sam’s thumb brush over the outer corner of his eye.

“S’funny,” Sam muses. “Last time I heard you say that, you looked so different.” 

Dean laughs. “So old, you mean.”

Sam’s thumb moves to touch the skin above his eyebrow. “Hey, we earned those lines together,” Sam reprimands.

Dean shifts to lay down flat on his belly perpendicular to Sam, head and neck and shoulders cushioned on Sam’s torso. He turns his neck so he’s looking up the length of Sam’s body, at his upturned chin, the underside of his jaw. 

Sam’s petting him, like he’s a cat or something, long strokes on his head and back. His back. Dean’s eyes flutter shut. 

“Okay, when we sober up you gotta tell me what that’s about. The back thing,” Sam tells him, a chuckle in his voice. “Weirdo.”

“Only for you,” Dean promises, half a joke. He thinks for a minute, brain turning slow and liquid. “Have I really not said it since I died?” 

Sam’s hand stills on the back of his neck. “No,” Sam murmurs. “S’okay. You didn’t really say it before. You didn’t have to. You show it.”

Dean frowns, and brings a hand up to brush the backs of his fingers along Sam’s chest and shoulders. It looks like valleys and mountains from here. 

“You didn’t even look like this the last time you said it before then, you know,” Sam continues, on a sigh. He grabs Dean’s hand and kisses his palm, each of his fingers. “You were so young. I remember your face and everything.”

Dean frowns harder. He kisses Sam’s sternum again, mouth damp, lingering.

“How—how young?” Dean asks, almost not wanting to hear it.

He knows he spent a lot of time curating what distance he could between them, careful not to say too much. But to think he said this, the most important thing, so rarely doesn’t feel right. It feels like he said it everyday. Every time he looked at Sam he might as well have been screaming it.

Sam hums again and starts back up petting Dean.

“I was 15,” he says, quiet, like that isn’t devastating the fuck out of Dean. “We were high. You’d let me try some weed because I wouldn’t stop nagging you about it and then I think I threatened to go find some on my own. May have alluded to trading sexual favors for it.”

There’s a lot there for Dean to process, including the sudden reminder that oh, yeah that’s exactly what happened. God, teenage Sam was a nightmare, a menace.

Dean can’t even focus on that though, because he's starting understand why Sam got them weed here. “No, no. You’re not saying—saying that when I said it to you while I was dying was the first time in....”

Sam seems to barely have heard him, caught up in his own recollection. “We were in the kitchen. Munchies, I think. I don’t even remember what I said. You thought it was funny. You laughed, hard, probably too hard, I’m sure it wasn’t that funny, and you swept me up in this big old hug—”

“You were still shorter than me,” Dean interjects, remembering. “Fit right here.” He bumps his hand under his chin, realizes Sam can’t see, and then bumps his hand under Sam’s chin to demonstrate. 

“Right,” Sam says, so softly. “Right. And then you said, Goddamn, I love you, Sammy.” Dean hears Sam swallow thickly. “Just like that. So easy. Kissed my cheek. Or tried to. You missed. Kissed like, my nose instead. We were so high.” 

Dean feels suddenly very sober, as though the weed’s leeching out of his body into the wood of the dock instead. 

He moves all at once, braced over Sam, legs on either side of his hips and arms on either side of his head.

Easy, tiger, his brain says stupidly.

He wants to explain this to Sam with the kind flowery poetry found in those books Sam kept around wherever they went, the books he still finds laying around here. Pretty words about pretty things, about how when Sam inhales, Dean exhales right after. How’s he supposed to tell Sam it feels dangerous, that he doesn’t understand sometimes why he should care about anything but Sam? How's he supposed to explain that when he looks at Sam's mouth he dreams about crawling inside and never leaving?

“I love you,” Dean says again.

Sam’s blurry in the dark, and Dean’s struck by how strange it really is to have this Sam forever. He thinks about what Sam said, that they made those lines and wrinkles together, and almost misses them—where they crept up over Sam’s forehead and chin, around his mouth and eyes.

“Heaven made you a romantic,” Sam tells him. “And chatty.”

Dean shrugs. “And now you’re stuck with me like this, forever.”

He considers telling Sam all that happened is Heaven made it okay for him to put on blast the running commentary he’s always had in his brain. He figures Sam’s ego has had enough for one night. 

Sam looks like he’s going to poke fun a bit more so Dean’s not expecting it when Sam murmurs, “Goddamn, I love you, Dean.”

Dean’s out of words again, isn’t built to say pretty enough things, so he settles for attempting to kiss every square inch of Sam’s body, every centimeter. He aims to land as many kisses over Sam as there are stars in the sky.

Dean feels that all his old jokes about Heaven involving going at it like animals with a super hot person forever really deserve credit where credit is due. 

They fuck, a lot. 

Out in the overhang, against the DeVille, making it shake so hard the bumper falls off again and he doesn’t care because Sam slids in a finger alongside Dean’s dick and comes so hard he’s silent, mouth stretched open, eyes staring at Dean.

In the fucking garden, fresh soil rubbing into Dean’s hair where he’s laid flat on his back and Sam’s on his dick, making himself come three, four times in a row, endless, jizz everywhere and Dean’s thinks he might die all over again.

Quiet in bed, Sam’s gasping and it’s just their hands, fast and simple, and Dean forgets what language is when he comes with his lips trembling against Sam’s.

Dean gets Sam to fuck his mouth while eggs that won’t ever burn keep cooking on the stove and Sam’s saying oh, god, take it, Dean, take it and Sam’s got a big dick and Dean’s choking on it and he comes in his pants just before Sam grabs him by the hair and shoves him down as he comes down Dean’s throat.

In the Impala, which nearly does permanent damage to Dean’s higher thinking abilities, because they barely fit in the backseat, all crammed together and Sam’s getting fucked so hard it has to hurt a little bit but when he comes his hand hits the window and Dean wants to make a Titanic joke but then Sam grabs his chin and spits right into his mouth and Sam holds him through his orgasm, fingers slipping through the sweat on Dean’s back.

In the bedroom they've decided to share, during some petty argument about some discussion from a life that’s long passed and Sam looks so pretty and like he wants to murder Dean and Dean might let him and then Sam’s on the floor and Dean’s making him come in his pants and it’s so hot, watching him lose it like that, lost and needy and so clearly obsessed with Dean that Dean makes him do it again, then gets himself off sucking Sam’s come out of the denim.

Sam likes sucking him off in the shower, and his knees have to hurt on the tile but Dean never gets around to asking because Sam loves it, he makes it go on for as long possible, keeping Dean right on edge or else making him come again and again and there's water running all over Sam's pretty skin, droplets caught in his eyelashes, just like Dean's come when Sam pulls his mouth off Dean to get it on his face.

They fuck, a lot, and Dean tries to remember why they didn’t let themselves have this their whole fucking lives.

“I want to go camping,” Sam says over a competitive game of Connect 4 at some point.

Dean studies the plastic stand, and drops a token in. Absolutely a winning move Sam falls for every single time—which means, actually, that Sam probably lets him win. Every single time. He frowns. Sam coughs. 

“Sure,” Dean says, belatedly. He knocks his foot against Sam’s underneath the table in apology. “Whatever you want.”

Sam insists on packing, which Dean finds ridiculous considering Heaven provides everything on demand, usually by way of the car trunk, but Sam says it’s part of the experience, so Dean dutifully shoves some shit in a duffel. They leave Miracle dosing by his food bowl, eyes droopy and content, which is about how Dean felt whenever they went to a diner with bottomless fries. 

The roads take them to some place with huge, proud redwoods looming up against the sky. Sam looks gorgeous, looks like he belongs in this earthy, happy place. The Impala bumps merrily along a dirt path into the woods until they get to a campsite—the classic kind, with a rusty old fire pit and barbecue. 

After they set up the tent, another ridiculous chore in Dean’s opinion, complete with cursing and confusion, Dean fucks Sam on the hood of the Impala. They’re quiet, just heavy breaths and strangled moans; baby, Dean whispers in Sam’s ear and Sam says yeah, yeah. Sam’s drenched in sweat, hair dark at the roots with it and Dean’s hands are slipping over his body, greedy and entitled. Sam’s teeth are sunk into his shoulder, his chest. Dean gets his own tongue on Sam’s skin, licks up the perspiration so the tang of it floods his mouth, and fucks Sam so hard the Impala bounces a bit and Sam makes a sound like he’s choking on his own tongue when he comes. 

Later, Dean’s at the fire pit, roasting a marshmallow to perfection, and Sam’s stretched out on a huge blanket on the ground beside him, staring up at the sky. He’s wearing just a pair of low-slung jeans, again, because he's apparently figured out Dean likes that. There are bruises in the shape of Dean’s mouth all over his body and his nipples are pebbled slightly in the cool air.

If this wasn’t Heaven, Dean would have burned the shit out of his marshmallow for how often he ends up staring at Sam shamelessly.

“I’ve figured it out,” Sam murmurs.

“Figured what out?” 

“Why Heaven is perfect.”

Dean pulls his skewer back from the fire, and examines his marshmallow carefully. Pleased, he slides it onto a graham cracker and assembles the s’more before getting up to go sit beside Sam on the blanket. He looks down at Sam and rests his free hand possessively low on Sam’s stomach as he eats with the other. Sam’s hand moves to lay over his. 

“It’s the sex, obviously,” Dean says smartly. 

Sam rolls his eyes and pinches the back of Dean’s hand. “No, asshole,” he says, very haughtily, though there’s a dimple threatening to pop at the corner of his mouth. “It’s not the beer or the lack of mosquitos either.”

“Now you’re talking crazy,” Dean says, mouth half full.

Sam makes a face, affecting disgust, but when Dean brings the other half of the s’more down to his mouth, offering it, he takes it happily. 

Once he’s swallowed the bite, Dean leans down and kisses him, tastes the sweetness on his tongue. He’s gentle with it, keeps his fingers light on Sam’s jaw and kisses him slow and easy until his lips are buzzing before he pulls back, nudging Sam’s nose with his own before he goes. 

“Why’s Heaven perfect, baby?” Dean asks him, still so pleased at the way Sam’s eyelids flutter whenever Dean calls him that. 

“Free will,” Sam says simply.

Dean goes still, mouth open and closing. Eventually, he slides down to lay beside Sam, looking at him, hand still heavy on Sam’s abdomen. He rubs his palm up and down slightly, leans in to kiss Sam’s shoulder. 

Sam takes that as a cue to continue. “See, when it was finally all over with Chuck, it was a relief, yeah. Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing to know we could really make choices again.” He’s looking right at Dean, that furrow in his brow and quirk of his mouth that means he’s thinking, means he’s serious. “But it was like...we were still trapped, in a way, by everything that had happened to us. You know? I could still—still feel it all, like a weight, right down to my bones.” 

Dean takes a shaky inhale. “Yeah,” he says quietly. 

“I was so tired. We were so tired, you know. Pieces inside me, still fucked up, broken. And the guilt, God. Like I had to do penance for the rest of my life, try to pick up the pieces and make up for...for everything bad I’d ever done. And for me, after you were gone, there was—there was almost no joy in it. I know it’s fucked up, we’re fucked up, but I barely cared about my choices when I didn’t get to make them with you. I needed you more than anything.”  

“Sammy.”

Sam picks up Dean’s hand, kisses his knuckles. “No, it’s okay. Like I said, it was a relief to be able to even have the chance to do all that. But it felt like every choice was weighed down by it all and everything about the world, at least the world we had left to us, was shaped by it.” Sam takes a deep, long sigh. “But here...it’s not like that. It’s not like that at all. Here, we get to do whatever we want, however we want, whenever we want. I mean, shit, we can shape the world to be whatever we want. Our will is what makes this place.”

Dean swallows thickly. “That big brain of yours,” he teases shakily. He leans down to kiss Sam. “All I ever wanted was you, anyway,” he admits. “Now there’s no one and nothing in the way of that.”

Sam smiles, teeth bumping Dean’s lips. “Yeah,” he agrees. “Me too, you know. Just wanted to be your baby brother, always. Wanted to love me, wanted you to be proud of me.”

“I do, I am,” Dean says fervently. He hesitates, and tucks his face into to Sam’s neck, pressing up against Sam’s side. “You mean it? This is really all you want? Just me? There’s nothing else? It’s okay if—”

Sam’s hand is tight in his hair, pulling his face back. “Hey. Don’t ever doubt that. Complete free will and I’m here with you.” His eyes flash. “You know something? Even if we never did go see anyone else again, I wouldn’t care. Maybe I should. When we were alive I fought it so hard, wanting that. I don’t give a shit anymore. This is what I want.”

It’s a shocking, bold thing for Sam to say, something that should be alarming, something anyone else would call cruel. It curls heady in Dean’s chest and abdomen, stokes every horrible, deep-down desire he has to keep Sam all to himself, to make sure they keep drowning in each other forever.

He knows they'll probably wander over to see the people they care about at some point, but the sentiment remains the same.

Dean doesn’t know, really, how this happened to them, if things would be different if they were a normal family, or at least if even half the shit that happened to them never occurred. It’s probably far from okay that he doesn’t care and that he’d do it all over again, all the suffering—demons and angels and death and vessels and deals and Trials and Hell and pain and betrayal and tears and fighting destiny, all of it—if this was his reward. 

“I....” Dean starts, then trails off. “Sam,” he tries again. “Sammy.”

He gives up on finding any words better than that and settles for kissing Sam again instead. Sam seems to agree, humming happily, and uses his hand to guide Dean’s lower on his belly, their fingers brushing the waistband of his jeans.

Dean smiles, breaks the kiss. “So it is kinda about the sex.”

Sam sighs, like there isn’t a smile stretching his whole face.

“It’s kinda about the sex,” Sam allows. 

Dean leans in and kisses Sam’s ear. “Kinda,” he murmurs, because it isn’t really, actually about the sex.

Even so, he isn’t one to reject an invitation, and slips his hand beneath the loose waistband of Sam’s jeans as he starts to kiss down his chest, his torso. Sam shivers, and arches into it.

Later, they’re holed up in the tent on a crappy air mattress, an inordinate amount of blankets swathed around them and Sam looks so happy Dean could cry over it. Sam’s feet are poking out of the end of the blankets, because he will always be too fucking tall, so Dean leans down the mattress to cover them up.

“Thanks,” Sam says, reaching for a book to read by the light of lamp nearby, because he might look twenty-four but he’s the same fussy old soul he’s always been.

Dean lays down and just watches Sam read for a while. “We should go for a drive later. We can stop by the cabin, pick up Miracle, bring him with us.”

“Sure.” Sam looks at him, brushes his hand over Dean’s hair. “Whatever we want.”