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Stars Come Down In You

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//**//**//

The first time he sees the mirror, it’s in a dream.

Well, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. The first time is while he’s exploring one of the bunker’s storage rooms.

It’s raining out, they haven’t caught a hunt in nearly a week, and the Winchesters are stuck inside with nothing to do. Out of boredom, Dean starts poking around in dark hallways and opening doors to see what’s inside. Most of the rooms are bedrooms, furnished plainly and empty of anything interesting. But finally, at the end of a twisty, dimly-lit corridor, he finds a room that appears to be a kind of storage room for bedroom furniture. Desks, chairs, bedside tables are stacked together with boxes and cabinets and a full-length Cheval mirror standing in a corner, covered in a light-colored sheet.

Dean knows he shouldn’t start opening drawers, boxes, and cabinets, but of course he can’t help himself—he’s literally that bored. He manages to spend the entire morning combing through knick-knacks and old photographs by the time he hears Sam calling for him.

“In here!”

Sam appears in the doorway a moment later. He frowns at Dean, who puts down the Buddha figurine he was holding and wipes his hands on his jeans, feeling oddly guilty.

“What’re you doing?”

Dean shrugs. “Just looking around. Found a room I’d never been in before, and I thought I’d see what’s here.”

“Dean, you know some of this stuff could be cursed, right?”

That thought hadn’t occurred to Dean, but he’s not telling Sam that.

“None of it was locked up, so I’m guessing it’s not dangerous.” He pushes himself up and brushes his hands off, although they’re surprisingly un-dusty. “What’s up?”

Sam’s stomach growls. “I came to see if you want lunch.”

Sam’s been in the library researching, of course. He’s grumpy because he got soaked on his run this morning and now has a cold coming on. Dean made him take a hot shower, then made him some tea with honey for his sore throat before leaving him to his books.

That was over three hours ago.

“How’s the sore throat?” Dean asks as he leads the way to the kitchen to make his little brother some chicken soup.

Sam clears his throat. “Better. My head hurts.”

Dean stops, turns, and presses the back of his hand to Sam’s forehead. Sam tolerates it, which tells Dean that his brother really isn’t feeling well at all. He’s flushed and his skin is definitely warmer than usual. His eyes are shiny.

“Okay.” Dean turns and continues down the hall to the kitchen. “Let’s get some chicken soup in you, then some Tylenol for that fever. I’m not going to tell you to take a nap, but I think you should. And drink some water. Lots of water.”

“Okay.”

The fact that Sam doesn’t even roll his eyes or call him “mom” tells Dean all he needs to know about how sick he is.

After eating half the bowl of chicken soup and downing a couple of Tylenol capsules, Sam lets Dean tuck him into bed with a glass of water on his bedside table.

It’s still raining out, so Dean spends the afternoon going through more old junk in the storage room. When he checks on Sam a few hours later, his brother’s in the library, hunched over his laptop.

“Feeling better?”

Sam looks up, and Dean can tell right away that he’s not better at all. His eyes are fever-bright, his cheeks flushed, and he’s coughing. The table is littered with bunched-up balls of used tissue.

“Felt better,” Sam explains between coughs. “So I got up to try to get some work done.”

Dean lays his hand on Sam’s forehead. “Uh-huh, that was the Tylenol talking,” he says. “Now it’s worn off and your fever’s back. Let’s get you some more of that chicken soup and tuck you back in bed, what do you say?”

Again, Dean can tell that Sam’s not feeling well because of the way he lets Dean take care of him without a hint of protest. Dean brings the heated soup and a glass of water, sits with Sam while he takes a few bites, swallows down the Tylenol with a wince.

“Hurts to swallow, doesn’t it?” he suggests, and Sam nods miserably. “Yeah, well, the Tylenol will help with that, too. Now come on, big guy, let’s get you to bed.”

Dean’s not really worried. Sam’s a big, strong, healthy man. This is just a little virus. It’ll run its course and Sam will be right as rain in a couple of days.

//**//**//

That night, Dean dreams about the mirror for the first time.

He’s in the storage room, but it’s empty now except for the mirror, which stands uncovered in the corner. The room is dark, except for the light from the hallway, and in that way of dreams, it doesn’t occur to Dean to hit the light switch. He’s too curious about the mirror. He feels drawn to it. Compelled.

Then the scene shifts. One minute, he’s looking at the mirror from across the room. The next, he’s standing directly in front of it. Instead of his reflection, all Dean sees in the mirror is darkness, and it occurs to him that it’s not a mirror at all. It’s a window.

Curious, he reaches out to touch the surface of the window/mirror, but he stops when he sees movement. Something in the darkness inside the frame is moving. As he watches, a human form takes shape, walking slowly towards Dean out of the darkness. As the form gets closer, the light from the corridor illuminates the familiar features of a man Dean knows well.

Sam.

At the moment of recognition, Dean wakes up. He’s breathing hard and his heart races like he’s just been running a mile. Sweat has broken out on his chest and neck, soaking through his t-shirt. Adrenaline courses through his veins.

His cock is hard enough to pound nails.

Nothing unusual about that, he tells himself. He’s been getting hard-ons from dreams since forever. The shock of seeing Sam instead of his own reflection in the mirror caused an adrenaline rush, that’s all.

Weird dream.

He’s wide awake now, so he gets up to use the bathroom and checks on Sam on his way back to bed. Dean’s brother is sleeping soundly, spread out on his back with his feet hanging off the end of the bed. His blankets have been kicked to the floor, his face is shiny with sweat and his hair is plastered to his neck and forehead, but otherwise he seems fine. Sam runs hot normally, so sweating and kicking blankets off isn’t unusual. His sleep appears deep, not fitful, so Dean takes that as a win. Twenty-four hour bugs Dean can handle.

The next morning, Sam seems fine, if a little weak. His fever has broken, and although he spends much of the day reading and resting, he eats everything Dean sets in front of him and seems to be on the mend.

It’s still raining, so Dean spends another day in the storage room, looking through boxes of old photographs. When he finds some of Henry he sets them aside to show Sam later.

He barely glances at the mirror, although he can feel it, looming in its dark corner under its covering. When he leaves the room for lunch, he shuts the light off, and the pale covering is the only thing in the room that seems to retain the light, standing pale and still like a ghost.

A shiver goes up his spine.

Dean shakes himself as he shuts the door, scoffing at his own overactive imagination. He makes a note to himself to face the thing when he goes back, to pull the damn sheet off so he can see for himself that it’s just an old mirror.

He spends the afternoon in the mancave, watching old movies. Sam figured out a way to tap into some kind of satellite TV service, and now Dean has all the greats at his fingertips, whenever he wants. Sam joins him at a certain point, and they sit side-by-side in their matching recliners, laughing at Abbott and Costello as they deal with a haunted castle full of monsters.

That night, Dean dreams about the mirror again.

He’s in the storage room, which is empty and dark except for the uncovered mirror, just like in his previous dream. As he watches, Sam appears, moving slowly, gaze locked with Dean’s in an expression that can only be described as smoldering. Seductive. Sam’s lips curve up in a slight smile as Dean realizes he can’t look away, can’t move a muscle. Sam seems to realize it, too; his smile broadens just a tad, predatory.

When Sam stops at the edge of his side of the mirror, Dean realizes he’s naked, his cock standing out from his body, fully erect.

Dean wakes with a gasp, heart pounding, sweating bullets. His cock is rock hard.

He gets his breathing under control before he gets up to go to the bathroom. As he splashes water on his face, he looks up into the mirror and for a moment he thinks he sees Sam standing there, watching him.

But when he turns, there’s no one there. On his way back to his own room, he stops at Sam’s door, opened a crack as it always is when he sleeps, just in case Dean calls out for him.

Sam’s sprawled out on his bed, face down this time, breathing deeply, fast asleep.

Back in his own bed, Dean vows to go down to the storage room first thing in the morning, to confront the object of his increasingly disturbing dreams. He tells himself the dreams are just a product of his stir-crazy imagination and hyperactive libido, of being cooped up too long underground with no case, nothing to kill. Nobody to fuck.

Because Sam is nobody Dean can fuck. His brain knows that, even if his cock thinks differently. Sam is off-limits. Forbidden.

Doesn’t mean Dean hasn’t thought about it, of course. Sure as hell doesn’t mean Dean hasn’t ever wanted his own damn brother, more times than he can count. The guy’s gorgeous, sexy, and Dean loves him more than anyone on the planet. But he’s been able to control that particular impulse for years now. He’s not about to let a couple of freaky dreams get the better of his well-practiced repression where his brother’s concerned.

The next morning, Dean marches down to the storage room. He flips the light switch on before crossing the room to grab hold of the sheet covering the mirror, but stops short of yanking it off when he feels a tingle like an electric shock go up his arm.

“Fuck that,” he mutters irritably, yanking at the sheet.

The light in the room seems to dim as the mirror is revealed. Dean stares into it, seeing exactly what he expected to see: his own reflection.

But as he keeps looking, letting the sheet fall from his hand to the floor, his reflection fades. The room grows darker. Dean peers closely, watching as his reflection is slowly replaced by a view of his naked brother, stalking towards him, just like in the dream. It’s like a special effect in a film, and because the mirror becomes a TV screen in his mind, it feels oddly normal. He can’t stop watching because the entertainment value is suddenly over the top.

Porn.

Oh yeah. Naked, fully erect Sam is definitely porn material. How had he never considered that before? Sam could totally earn a living — a profitable living — as a porn star. Or a stripper. Yeah, that, too. Or one of those guys who shows up at bachelorette parties, lap-dancing with every woman in the room...

Why does Sam always gripe about Dean’s inability to separate real life from porn? They obviously intersect right here. Duh.

Dean’s only half-aware of unzipping his jeans and pulling his cock out. He’s jerking off to the image in front of him and enjoying himself without a smidgeon of conscious thought. It feels so, so good to watch Sam stroke himself as Dean does the same, and why shouldn’t it? They’re both virile American males in the prime of their lives. Sam’s image in the mirror is clearly some kind of illusion, but even if it wasn’t, he’s a damn good-looking man. Dean never shied away from anything that turned him on. No reason to start now.

Because the truth is, Sam stroking himself while gazing into Dean’s eyes is turning him way the hell on, not gonna lie. Just feeling Sam’s eyes on him, knowing Sam’s watching him jerk off while watching Sam do the same, is enough to bring Dean to the edge.

He probably makes a whining noise in his throat as he gets close because Sam’s leering at him now. Sam looks like he’s enjoying this, making Dean face his own perverted desire, forcing him to face the thing he’s been hiding for longer than he can remember...

“Dean!”

Dean jumps. Sam — the real Sam — stands in the doorway, bitchface to end all bitchfaces planted on his stupidly handsome face, and Dean’s caught red handed. Literally.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Dean blushes furiously. “What does it look like I’m doing?” he demands gruffly as he attempts to tuck his throbbing cock back into his jeans. “A little privacy, Sam!”

But Sam doesn’t back down. He’s in the room now, striding up behind Dean to stare into the mirror and oh shit. Dean’s so fucked.

But Mirror-Sam has faded away, so all Sam and Dean see is their own reflections, Sam looming over Dean’s shoulder as he peers into the mirror.

Dean tries not to shiver as Sam’s overheated body presses into his back. He finally managed to zip up his jeans and he shoves back into Sam.

“Lay off, man! A little space here!”

But Sam’s peering at the mirror — or rather, at the edges of the mirror — and now Dean sees it, too. Writing. There’s a fuckin’ inscription carved into the silver frame.

introspicere desiderio videndi vera,” Sam reads aloud. He thinks for a minute, then translates: “‘Look within to see your true desire’”.

Dean’s mouth drops open. Oh, no way.

“Dean, what did you see?” Sam demands with a frown, then shakes his head. “Never mind. I don’t wanna know. Jesus, Dean. Didn’t I tell you the stuff in here could be cursed? What if this mirror contained some kind of spell that compelled you to do something terrible?”

Dean puffs up his chest, clenches his jaw.

“It didn’t,” he insists, but he knows he sounds lame.

“Yeah, well, let’s cover up this Mirror of Erised before it causes any damage.” Sam picks up the sheet from the floor and flings it over the mirror where it belongs.

Damn thing did all the damage it was gonna, Dean thinks but doesn’t say. No way he’ll ever tell Sam what he saw — what he was jerking off to — in that mirror.

Sam probably thinks Dean saw the Doublemint Twins. Or Britney Spears. Good. Let him think that. Please God, let him think that. Let him never ask again because he thinks Dean’s deepest desire is some chick in a g-string.

If only.

But Dean’s brother is no idiot. He knows Dean, and he can see he’s rattled. Sam spends the rest of the day searching news feeds until he finds them a hunt because he can see that Dean needs to let off some steam after being cooped up in the bunker for over a week.

Dean should feel lucky he’s got such a thoughtful little brother.

Now, if only he could stop thinking about his thoughtful little brother without his clothes. If only he could stop thinking about how good he looked with his dick in his hand. If only the thought of Sam naked and jerking off wasn’t so hot.

//**//**//

It’s a ghoul, or a family of ghouls. Dirty, disgusting creatures that once ate Sam, so Dean has a special hatred of them, as Sam well knows.

Dean can be excused for getting into the killing of these horrible things because they’re so gross he can’t possibly think about his naked brother at the same time.

Or not.

After the things are dead, salted, and burned, Dean should feel totally repulsed, not a little turned on when Sam’s arm brushes his as they stand over the burning corpses. Dean should feel satisfied in a job well done, not hyper-aware of the smell of his brother’s sweat. The reek of grave-dirt, decay, lighter-fluid and smoke should mask every other smell, but it doesn’t.

Dean can’t get out of the car and into the shower fast enough. He only hopes Sam doesn’t notice how hard he is because it’s totally inappropriate and pretty perverted to get that turned on by rotting bodies.

How sick is it that Dean hopes Sam thinks it’s the dead monsters that turned him on, if he notices? Sam’s not an idiot. He notices. He gives Dean funny little side-long looks in the car, glances down at his lap and shakes his head, clearly puzzled.

Or disgusted. Sam should be disgusted by his brother, because then he’ll never figure out how badly Dean wants him.

If he finds out how badly Dean wants him, Sam won’t just be disgusted. He’ll leave.

Dean can’t ever tell. Sam can’t ever know the truth.

//**//**//

“What’s with you?”

Sam has probably asked this question ten times over the past couple of days. Dean tries to act annoyed, irritated. He tries to brush off Sam’s attempts to get him to reveal what’s in his head, but it’s getting harder.

Literally. Heh.

It’s not like he hasn’t always felt some erotic attraction for Sam. Ever since Sam started to grow into a too-tall, gangly teenager with a chip on his shoulder and a softness in his eyes, Dean’s been aware of his own not-quite-right feelings. He just pushed them down deep, got so good at ignoring them they might have not even been there.

It’s that damn mirror, he decides. He goes down to the storage room and smashes the thing, sweeps up the shards of glass, drags the frame up the stairs and out the front door, and burns the whole thing out in front of the bunker for good measure.

Sam frowns thoughtfully as he does it, but says nothing.

Doesn’t stop the dreams, though. Apparently the magic doesn’t depend on the existence of the mirror itself. Once the spell has been activated, its effects are ongoing. Maybe permanent. Unless Dean can figure out a way to undo the spell, he’s stuck with sex-dreams about his brother and constant waking reminders that he’s in lust with him.

“Nothing,” he growls every time Sam asks what’s wrong.

Sam gives him a skeptical look.

“I’m just thinking about the job.”

It’s an easy excuse. They’ve been busy. They no sooner finish one job than Dean finds them another. Keeping busy keeps his mind off Sam and focused on safer topics. They go after every chupacabra and black dog, every hint of a ghost sighting. Three weeks pass before they come up for air. They only stop because Sam complains that he’s too tired to keep up the pace, which reminds Dean that his brother has just recently been down with a virus, and the last thing he wants to do is make Sam sick again.

When they pull into the bunker garage, Dean calls first shower and Sam gives him a look.

“Dude, it’s not a motel,” he says. “We can shower at the same time here. Water pressure, remember? Communal bathroom, remember?”

Oh, fuck.

“I think I’ll run into town for supplies.” Real smooth, Winchester.

“We just drove through town,” Sam reminds him. “Why didn’t you stop then?”

“Forgot.”

Sam rolls his eyes but gets out of the car, and Dean suppresses a sigh of relief. The car smells like Sam, though, so he rolls down the window on the drive into town and fights back the urge to pull over to masturbate by the side of the road.

It’s getting worse.

As he fills his grocery basket, Dean wonders whether he should risk a call to that sorcerer Cas used to know. He might know a spell that could fix Dean, send all his bad, wrong, dirty feelings back where they belong.

But he really doesn’t want to explain this to anybody, least of all someone who could easily twist his little secret to their advantage. Owing a favor to Sergei isn’t something Dean relishes.

Which leaves the only other person he knows who understands spell work like the back of his hand.

He can’t tell Sam the truth, of course, but maybe he can get Sam’s help by bending the truth a little. Sam already thinks the mirror made him horny for somebody else. It’ll never occur to Sam that he’s the object of Dean’s discomfort. Besides, he knows something’s wrong. He knows Dean too well. He’ll be glad to help when Dean explains it to him.

After he gives Dean hell for being an idiot in the first place, of course.

At this point, Dean doesn’t even mind. He wants all of this misplaced desire shoved where the sun don’t shine like yesterday. After three weeks of near-constant need, he’s desperate. He’ll put up with Sam laughing at him to get himself fixed.

He can’t keep wanting Sam like this. He just can’t.

//**//**//

“You think the mirror did what?

Sam’s showered and shaved, smells like Heaven, and Dean wants to wrap him up in his arms and take him to bed right the fuck now.

“Some kind of spell,” he mutters, clenching and unclenching his fists to keep them at his sides, to keep from grabbing onto Sam and never letting go. “I think it put some kind of spell on me.”

“Huh.” Sam rolls his tongue around inside his cheek as he considers Dean’s confession. It’s distracting. “So what did the spell do to you?”

Dean clears his throat, coughs, shifts his feet. “It put these thoughts in my head,” he says. “And dreams. I can’t shake them.”

“Huh.” Sam’s eyes narrow. “I thought so.”

“Yeah, you could probably tell.” Dean tries not to look at Sam for more than a second; it’s like looking into the sun, if sun-gazing could make you hot and sweaty and horny all at once, instead of just blind. Looking at Sam is dangerous.

“That you’ve been a little antsy? Yeah, I could tell. Wondered what the hell was up with you.”

Dean nods. “I know. I should’ve said something earlier. I just thought I could get it under control, you know?”

“And now you think you need my help,” Sam says slowly. He seems to be watching Dean’s face very closely, still considering.

“Your help with a spell to fix me, yeah,” Dean hastens to correct him. No need to make this personal.

Sam sucks his bottom lip between his teeth and Dean wishes he was sitting down. He hopes Sam doesn’t notice the obvious bulge in Dean’s jeans, or the flush that’s creeping across his chest, making his ears burn.

“You know what I think?” Sam leans back in his chair, narrowing his eyes again. He looks suspiciously like he’s holding back laughter.

“What?” Dean snaps. “It’s not funny, Sam. What the hell?”

Sam ducks his head, grinning, dimples everywhere.

“I think — and I can’t believe I’m saying this to you — but I think you need to get laid.”

“What the hell, Sam?” Dean throws his arms out. “Don’t you think I’d know the difference between a simple case of blue balls and this — whatever this is? It’s me, remember. We’re talking about me here.”

“Have you tried a cold shower?” Sam’s obviously struggling not to laugh outright and Dean hates him for it on principle.

“Oh my god, stop talking. I knew I shouldn’t have said anything.”

Sam’s face crumples into an expression that’s half-concerned, half-exasperated. That’s better.

“No, no, I’m glad you did,” he assures Dean. “I was getting worried. What with you crying out in your sleep and all. I was starting to think something was seriously wrong.”

Dean’s mortified. “Crying out in my sleep? What the hell?” His voice goes up an octave.

“Well, yeah.” Sam shrugs. “Sometimes you’d make these genuine happy noises, but then you’d call out for me and it sounded more like you were having Hell-dreams. You know.”

Yes, he did know. But he hadn’t had those in a while, although he’d almost prefer that horror show to the complicated, embarrassing dreams he’s been having lately.

Dean clears his throat. “So what do you think? Can you fix me?”

Sam studies him thoughtfully, sucking his lower lip between his teeth in that distracting way he does while Dean shifts awkwardly from foot to foot, leaning forward just enough for his shirt tails to fall over his crotch, hiding what’s happening there just from looking at Sam. Smelling him.

“You sure you don’t want to just go down to the bar? Find somebody to help you take the edge off?” Sam narrows his eyes, like he thinks there’s something he’s not understanding here. Like he suspects something. Like he’s trying to get Dean to admit to more than being horny as hell.

Dean shakes his head. “Won’t help.”

“You can always pretend it’s the person in the mirror,” Sam suggests. “If you think no one else can fulfill your deepest desire, I mean. Just use your imagination.”

“Not helpful,” Dean insists. “Won’t work.”

“How do you know if you don’t try?”

“Because I know, okay? I just know!” Dean’s frustration gets the better of him. “It’s some kind of magic thing, Sam. There’s no way to explain it otherwise. It’s like some kind of compulsion spell or — I don’t know! Like a fuck-or-die spell maybe. It’s making me crazy!”

“Okay, okay.” Sam puts his hands out, palms out, placating. “We’ll figure it out, okay? Just — tell me a little more about it, and I’ll do some research, find something that can help.”

Dean sucks in a breath, nods.

“So I’m guessing this ‘deepest desire’ — it’s somebody you can’t have,” Sam suggests. “A celebrity? Or somebody who died?”

Not even close, Dean thinks, although not far off on that second count.

“Yeah,” he says. “Exactly. Off-limits.”

“And none of the usual things work to stave off your desire for this unattainable person,” Sam goes on.

“We’ve established that!” Dean snaps. “Cold showers and sex with strangers won’t help!”

“Right. Okay, well, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a spell that dampens the mood — er, desire. We just need a spell for turning off attraction.” Sam frowns. “Of course, you don’t want to lose your libido altogether. That wouldn’t be good.”

Dean’s eyes widen. “No, Sam, it would not.”

“We need something that targets a specific person,” Sam goes on. “Kind of the opposite of a love spell. You need an unlove spell.”

Dean’s chest tightens. “It’s not the love I’m worried about,” he mutters before he can stop himself.

Sam looks up, surprised.

“Dean, I think I need to know the name of the person, before I can proceed.”

Dean panics. “No, you don’t.”

“Uh, yeah, pretty sure I do. You want a spell that will dampen your attraction to somebody specific, I’m pretty sure I need the name of the somebody if we want the spell to work.”

Dean’s jaw locks. He literally can’t open his mouth. His hands clench and unclench and he stares stubbornly at the floor, frowning. He can feel Sam watching him. Studying him.

Sam draws a breath. “Is it Dad?” he asks softly.

“Oh my god no!” Dean glares at his brother, wide-eyed and flushed. He takes a step forward and Sam rises to his feet, hands out in the same soothing gesture he used before.

“Okay, okay. Don’t hit me. I can see you want to, but don’t, okay? I’m just trying to help.”

“Not helpful, Sam!” Dean growls. “It’s not Dad! How could you think that?” Every muscle in his body winds tight. He feels like a bow about to spring. It’s almost unbearable, the urge to grab onto Sam; it takes all his strength to control it.

Sam’s expression suddenly changes as a new idea occurs to him, and Dean knows what he’s about to say before he says it by the way his eyes skitter away and his head tilts.

“Is it me?”

Dean almost gasps. Almost.

Instead, he whirls away from Sam and stalks towards the corridor to his room, fear and panic replacing all other feelings.

“Fuck this! I’ll figure it out myself!”

He can hear Sam coming after him. “Dean...”

“Shut up!”

“Just wait a minute. We can talk about this. I know we can.” Sam grabs his arm.

Dean jerks away, whirling to face Sam, heart pounding, palms slick with sweat.

“Goddamn it, Sam, you’re my brother!” he pleads, willing Sam to understand.

“I’m also your soulmate,” Sam reminds him. “It’s not unheard of, you know. You already have deep feelings for me. If lust has become a part of those feelings, it wouldn’t be that unusual.”

“It’s not lust, Sam! I’m not lusting after my own brother!”

“Dean, I saw what you were doing. With the mirror.”

Sam’s calm, cool voice infuriates Dean. How can he take this so matter-of-factly? How can he consider it so rationally? Why isn’t he running for the hills? Why doesn’t he take off, leave his disgusting pervert of a brother forever?

“It’s not what you think,” Dean says helplessly. Maybe he can still salvage their relationship after all. “It’s just some weird compulsive obsessive thing. Some kind of spell, I swear! I would never... If it wasn’t for that fucking mirror, I would never think about you that way.”

Sam blinks, frowns a little, and Dean has the distinct feeling that he’s just said something wrong, but he’s not sure what. He’s feeling too grateful that Sam hasn’t punched him, or left him. Revealing such a sick secret should be awkward. Horrible.

And it is, but it’s also kind of a relief. And now that Sam isn’t hating him or leaving him, Dean’s kind of glad that he knows. It’s been a burden, hiding this stupid thing from Sam. He hates keeping secrets from his brother.

“Okay,” Sam says, taking a deep breath. He looks crest-fallen, which doesn’t make any sense. “Now that I know the whole story, I should be able to find a way to fix it. If that’s really... If that’s what you want.”

Dean’s flabbergasted. “Of course it is!” he insists. “I don’t want to go through life desperate for something I can’t have! Dreaming about it every night. Working next to it every day. Trying to pretend it’s not there every fucking minute, right there in the car next to me. Fuck!”

Sam’s cheeks redden. His eyes grow brighter. Dean has to look away to keep from grabbing his brother and...

“Okay,” Sam breathes, like he’s been holding his breath. His jaw twitches, the way it does when he’s made up his mind to do something he’s not particularly happy about. “Okay. Just give me a few minutes. Maybe an hour or so. I’ll find something.”

He doesn’t look at Dean again, but Dean nods anyway. He escapes to his room because he can’t stay in the same room with Sam for another minute unless...

Yeah, it’s better this way.

//**//**//

Sam’s shoulders are stooped as he works. He hunches over the spell bowl, muttering in Latin as he adds a pinch of this, a dash of that. Sam refers to the open spell book on the table next to the bowl, but mostly he seems to know what he’s doing. He’s clearly memorized the spell.

Dean lets himself watch because Sam’s so intent on what he’s doing he won’t notice. Dean studies the way his brother’s long fingers move and wants to hold onto this moment forever, to recall it after he stops wanting Sam so desperately. There’s aspects to this heightened awareness of Sam that Dean hasn’t minded, to be honest.

For one thing, it’s so much more than lust, this thing he feels. It’s too intense for simple lust. It’s like all of his deepest feelings for Sam have been amplified, laid bare. And Sam’s wrong if he thinks Dean doesn’t want to feel those feelings. He just wants them pushed back behind the wall where Dean’s kept them safe and sound all these years. Dean just wants to have some control back.

Finally, Sam straightens. He plucks a strand of his own hair, adds it to the mixture in the spell bowl, and stirs before pouring the mixture into a glass. He lifts his head reluctantly, his eyes rising to Dean’s. Sad, soulful eyes, as expressive as they are multi-colored.

“Okay,” Sam says. “Now all you need to do is drink it.”

He raises the glass, full of something dark and viscous, probably nasty as hell, the way most magic potions are.

Dean reaches for it, then pauses. He shifts his feet, rubs the back of his neck, and clears his throat.

“This won’t take away all my feelings, right? I mean, some of them are good. They’re helpful. I have great instincts where you’re concerned. Don’t wanna lose that.”

He hates himself for hesitating, but there it is. He wasn’t lying about loving Sam. His love for Sam isn’t something he ever wants to lose.

Sam gives a sharp shake of his head but doesn’t meet Dean’s eyes.

“It’ll just mute those other feelings,” he assures his brother. “The inappropriate ones. The ones you’re ashamed of.”

Dean frowns. He’s not sure shame is the word he’d use for how he feels about those feelings. He’s not ashamed of loving his brother too much. It’s more like sheer terror that Sam won’t want him around anymore now. It’s more like fear of losing Sam because Sam might reject him if he knew.

But Sam knows, and so far he’s not showing any signs of leaving. If anything, he acts like he’s sad that Dean doesn’t want to have those feelings in the first place.

Which makes no sense because that would mean that Sam’s okay with Dean lusting after him. Sam doesn’t mind. Maybe — Maybe Sam likes it.

No. Oh no no no no. No way. That’s not possible. Because if that’s true, then that means Sam feels the same way.

Maybe.

Or maybe Sam doesn’t feel the same way, but he’s okay with Dean wanting him because he’s... okay with it. Accepting. Forgiving. Because he’s Sam. His brother has always been understanding of monstrous behavior. He believes people can control their inner demon. It doesn’t have to control them.

Which means Sam believes Dean can control this thing. Right? Is that why Sam seems so sad? Because he believes in his big brother’s ability to manage his addiction without intervention?

“Dean?”

Dean realizes he’s been standing with his hand half-outstretched for far too long. He pulls it back in, clears his throat, and takes a step back.

“You know what? I think I’ll pass,” he says.

Sam’s eyebrows go up. “What? You don’t want the potion after all?”

Dean sweeps his hands in front of his chest, palms down, and shakes his head.

“Nah. I don’t need it. I can do this on my own. I just need a little practice and will power, that’s all.”

Sam frowns but puts the glass down, and Dean imagines he can see a little relief along with his confusion. “Okay.”

“And just for the record, I’m not ashamed of any of my feelings for you,” Dean says, lowering his chin so he’s looking up at Sam from under raised eyebrows. “Are we clear?”

Now Sam’s face definitely softens. He blushes adorably and lowers his head as a grin breaks out, making his dimples pop.

“Yeah, okay.”

“Good.” Dean nods, backing toward the door, eager to escape now he’s made his mind up. “Just so we’re clear.”

//**//**//

After the revelation of Dean’s embarrassing secret, life continues pretty much as it did before the incident with the mirror. The brothers hunt, save people, help and advise other hunters, just as they did before. For the first few days, Dean waits for the other shoe to drop, for Sam to decide to leave or to withdraw out of awkwardness or disgust, despite his initial response. But when it doesn’t, when Sam shows no outward sign of being grossed out or disgusted, no plans to walk out the door for good, Dean starts to relax.

And if he lets his guard down a little, lets his hand rest on the small of Sam’s back when they file through a door, or lets his fingers play idly with the hair on the back of Sam’s neck when they’re on the same side of a table at a diner or in the car, Sam doesn’t seem to notice. Or at least he doesn’t seem to mind.

Dean snatches his hand away when he realizes he’s doing it, of course. Touching Sam with affection and tenderness qualifies as inappropriate, he thinks. He shouldn’t do it.

But when he finds himself sitting next to Sam on a couch while interviewing a witness, realizes that they’re pressed together despite the available space next to Sam, it occurs to him that they’ve always been that way. Even back before Dean became consciously aware of how erotically charged everything about Sam was, Dean and Sam had been physically attuned to each other. In sync. Close physically as well as mentally and emotionally.

Soulmates, as Sam had pointed out, tend to gravitate towards each other. Orbit around each other. As Dean himself had realized at a certain point, his feelings for Sam had always included an erotic dimension, however deeply repressed. The mirror had just fore-fronted those feelings and made them undeniable.

After a successful hunt about three weeks later, Dean’s feeling good. Proud of them for a job well done. He spreads his legs in the driver’s seat and slides his arm across the seat-back, idly playing with Sam’s hair before he realizes what he’s doing. He pulls his hand away, straightens up in the seat to hide his hard-on, and clears his throat.

Sam glances at him, confused frown softening as his eyes drop to Dean’s lap. He huffs out a half-laugh and drops his chin to his chest, grinning.

Now it’s Dean’s turn to frown.

“How are you okay with that?”

“Huh?” Sam’s surprise is cute as hell. “With what?”

Dean glances between Sam’s face and the road, trying to understand what he sees in Sam’s expression. Trying to find the unease or discomfort that should be there but isn’t.

“With me touching you.” Dean spells it out. “After what I told you. After what you’ve been through.”

Sam frowns. “I don’t follow.”

“Really?” Dean huffs out a half-laugh of his own, awkward and definitely out of his element. “With Azazel? With Lucifer? Hell, with all the sons-of-bitches doing things to you all your life without asking first.”

Sam screws up his face and squirms on the seat. His jaw clenches before he answers. “You’re not like them, Dean. It’s not the same at all. When you touch me, I don’t mind. Really.”

“Half the time, I’m not even aware I’m doing it,” Dean muses. “How are you okay with that? I don’t even ask first.” He shudders. “How are you not creeped out?”

“Because I’m not.” Sam shrugs. “It’s kinda nice, actually. I like it.” Sam clears his throat, shifting on the seat.

Dean shakes his head. “It’s non-consensual touching, dude. Especially now that you know.”

Sam huffs out a breath. “I’m not worried, Dean. You’re not a rapist.”

“I’m taking advantage!” Dean’s outraged on his brother’s behalf. How can Sam not see that Dean’s trying to protect him here? “You should be more careful. You should be on guard against me, Sam.”

Sam shrugs. “I’m not worried.”

Dean’s flabbergasted. “Well, you should be! I’m a monster, Sam! I’m a pervert who’s attracted to his own brother! In all the wrong ways!”

Sam’s eyes widen in that puppy look Dean loves so much. “Maybe it doesn’t seem so wrong, in the scheme of things. Our lives are pretty weird, man. It’s not like incest is the sickest thing on the menu of things we’ve done.”

“Pretty sure it is!” Dean feels himself working up into a righteous fit, but the look on Sam’s face stops him. “And we haven’t done anything.”

Sam rolls his eyes. “Right. Thinking about it doesn’t count.”

“That’s right! It doesn’t!”

Sam clenches his jaw and turns away. He stares out the passenger window and shifts on the seat, letting his legs splay wide so that his left knee presses against Dean’s.

Dean doesn’t pull away. He leaves his knee right where it is, the warmth of Sam’s skin bleeding through two layers of denim. Dean lets himself acknowledge the erotic charge that goes through him from the point of contact. He can’t stop thinking about Sam’s words.

Sam doesn’t mind.

//**//**//

The cute brunette at the end of the bar keeps sending bedroom-eye looks Dean’s way. He notices, smiles a little because he’s still got it, but doesn’t make a move.

Sam notices, too.

“You should hit that,” he says, tipping his chin toward the girl.

“Oh right, because I need to get laid.” Dean takes another sip of his beer, stares fixedly at the lacquered surface of the bar.

“Yeah, you do,” Sam agrees. “It’s been a pretty long time. Longer than I’ve ever seen you go without.”

“That’s not true.” Dean scoffs. “Year in Purgatory, remember?”

“Really?” Sam sounds surprised. “I always figured you and Benny... French Mistake situation at the very least.”

Dean looks up, startled. “Ew. No way! We were just good buddies.”

Sam nods, thoughtful. “So you’ve never. With a guy, I mean.”

“Not what I said, Sam.”

Sam’s eyebrows go up. “Wow. Okay. Now I’m curious.”

“No, you’re not.” Dean smirks as he takes a sip of his beer.

“Yeah, Dean, I am. All my life, I’ve seen you pick up girls in bars, girls at school. Girls, girls, girls. Never once have I seen you go home with a guy or even so much as seriously flirt with one. So yeah, I’m curious. Was it a one-night stand?” Sam draws a sudden breath. “Wait. Was it when we were kids? Jesus, Dean. You didn’t exchange favors for rent or food money, did you? Oh shit.”

Sam’s chagrined look is almost more than Dean can stand.

“It was a long time ago, Sam,” Dean assures him. “Didn’t matter then, doesn’t matter now. I’m definitely NOT into guys. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

As soon as he says it, Dean realizes how crazy it sounds. Sam already knows. It’s not like Dean can hide the fact that he is attracted to guys. Or, rather, one guy.

That’s different.

No way Sam ever needs to know about the guy Dean picked up in a bar that one time while Sam was at Stanford. Tall, lanky dude with long, shaggy hair and pretty eyes.

He didn’t admit it to himself at the time, but Dean knows now that had far more to do with his attraction to Sam than anything else. He was missing his brother. End of story.

“You’re into me,” Sam reminds him. “I’m a guy.”

“Doesn’t count,” Dean insists stubbornly.

Which is when it hits him. He really isn’t into anyone who isn’t Sam. All those one-night stands, all the girls — they’ve all just been a way to bury his primary attraction, to channel his inappropriate feelings for his brother into a more palatable outlet for his libido.

He’s never really wanted anyone but Sam.

Later, lying alone in his bed in the motel, listening to Sam’s deep breathing in the other bed, Dean faces the fact that he’s doomed. There will never be another one-night stand. He’ll always wish it was Sam instead. It’ll feel like cheating. Even if he manages to get it up with a girl, he’ll be swamped with guilt. Any sex that isn’t sex with Sam is ruined for him now. There’s no going back.

He’ll die pining for Sam.

He rolls over and clutches his pillow, staring at Sam’s perfect profile in the near-dark.

Well, there’s definitely worse ways to go, he tells himself.

//**//**//

The day Dean gets seriously injured on a hunt, Sam’s right there. Dean stares up at him as Sam mumbles reassuringly, hands moving swiftly and carefully over his body as he checks Dean out.

“Gonna fix you right up,” Sam repeats over and over. “It’s not that bad, Dean. You’re gonna be okay.”

Dean slides in and out of consciousness as Sam staunches the wound in Dean’s belly, another one in his leg. The monster slammed him pretty hard into a post after ripping its claws into him. There’s blood in his eyes so he knows he has a scalp wound, too.

He can’t feel his leg.

At the hospital, Dean tries to focus as the doctor explains that it was touch and go during surgery. He lost a lot of blood, but he’s going to live.

“Your leg was badly lacerated. It’ll take time to heal,” the doctor says. “You’re going to need weeks of physical therapy if you want to walk again.”

Dean can read the anxiety in Sam’s face, but there’s relief there, too. Dean’s alive. He survived.

It becomes clear, however, that his hunting days are over.

After a few weeks of healing and antibiotics, the hospital discharges him to a rehab facility for physical therapy. He works his ass off to make his legs work again, but it’s exhausting and frustrating.

“Just get me out of here or kill me now,” he complains to Sam after a week of daily workouts. “This place sucks!”

“Dean, you’re making progress,” Sam assures him. “I know it feels slow-going, but you’re getting better. You are.”

“Yeah? And what difference does it make? Huh? Not like I’m ever going to be able to run when the monsters are coming. Never gonna be able to kick in a door or stop something from attacking you.” He leans back in the hospital bed and shuts his eyes. “I fuckin’ hate this, Sam.”

Sam nods sympathetically. He’s been a real peach, tolerating Dean’s grumbling and whining and tantrums. Dean can barely stand himself, and now he’s totally useless. He sure as hell can’t understand why Sam doesn’t leave.

“I know you do,” Sam says, voice so soft and sympathetic it makes Dean want to scream. “You hate feeling helpless.”

“I sure as hell do!” Dean growls. He can feel tears smarting at the corners of his eyes. “I mean it, Sam. Better just put me down.”

“Don’t say that.”

But Dean’s on a pity roll. “Why not? Huh? What am I good for now? Can’t hunt, can’t protect you. Everything I’m good at I can’t do anymore.”

“Not everything,” Sam says.

Dean opens his eyes, blinks back tears as he glares at Sam, who gives him a tiny smile and nods.

“You’re still my brother,” Sam says.

Dean scoffs, looks away. He knows he’s being an ass, but he can’t help it. Sam deserves a better brother, one who doesn’t feel so sorry for himself. One who isn’t so helpless. One who doesn’t pine for him like a lovesick puppy.

“You should find another partner,” Dean mumbles.

“Don’t want another partner.” Sam clenches his jaw stubbornly.

“I can’t hunt any more, Sammy,” Dean growls. “I can barely walk!”

“We’ll figure it out,” Sam answers. “We can take a break till you learn to walk again.”

“Then what?” Dean shakes his head. “I can’t hunt anymore. I’m useless.”

“You’re not useless. You just need to adjust your expectations,” Sam says. “We can go into semi-retirement. Maybe do a little consulting. You know, like Bobby used to do.”

“Oh great. Just a couple of geezers, puttering around the bunker, laying down salt lines, taking phone calls from hunters who are doing the actual work. Sounds awesome.”

“We’re not just hunters, Dean,” Sam reminds him. “We’re Men of Letters legacies. We’ve got a bunker with a library better than anything in the whole country! We’ve got experience with practically every kind of supernatural creature ever known to exist. We can help other hunters do their jobs.”

Dean shakes his head. “I’m a man of action, Sam. I can’t sit around the bunker all day, you know that.”

“We won’t,” Sam assures him. “There’s still plenty we can do out in the field. Lay groundwork, do basic investigations, interview witnesses... Hell, we can even manage ordinary salt-and-burns on our own if we really have to. Most of that’s just digging, anyway.”

Dean sighs. “Sounds sad, Sammy. Sounds fuckin’ sad.”

“Doesn’t have to be,” Sam insists. “Anyway, better sad than dead.”

Dean’s pretty sure he’d rather die with his boots on than live out his life as an ex-hunter, but he doesn’t say that. He’s being morose enough as it is. Sam deserves a fuckin’ award for putting up with him. Dean can’t for the life of him understand how Sam can stand to stay with him, especially now, but he’s trying not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

He’s never understood why Sam stays with him. But he sure as hell doesn’t want to give him any more reasons to leave.

Time to make the best of a bad situation.

//**//**//

By the time he leaves the rehab center, Dean’s able to pull himself around with a walker and walk short distances with the help of a cane. He hates both with a vengeance, throws them across the room regularly. But he’s definitely better than he was when he got here, even he has to admit that.

Driving the car is still impossible, which he also hates with a vengeance. He yanks away from Sam irritably when his brother tries to help him into the passenger seat.

“I can do it!” Dean insists. He grabs the seat and the door, manages to swing his legs into the footwell, slams the door after himself. He scowls as Sam mutters something about getting the car outfitted with hand controls so that Dean can drive her.

“You leave my baby alone! I’ll be driving her again in no time. Damn legs just need a little more work, that’s all.”

Sam smiles, and Dean wonders again how he manages to keep his irritation in check so well. Dean almost wishes Sam would snap at him, tell him where he can put his bossy, miserable attitude. Dean would, if their situations were reversed.

If their situations were reversed and Sam was the invalid who could never hunt again, Dean would be totally okay with it. The main thing — really the only thing that matters — is having Sam at his side.

Hell, if their situations were reversed, Dean would make it his job to look after his brother till they both got old and died of natural causes.

Oh.

//**//**//

“Where are we headed?” Dean asks when they’re on the road, headed west. “Bunker’s that way.”

Sam shrugs, keeping his eyes on the road. “I just figured we could use a little break, you know? Change of scenery.”

Dean scowls. He crosses his arms and sinks low in the seat, resisting the urge to argue.

When he flips on the radio, finds a station he likes, Sam doesn’t complain, and Dean smiles, smug. He’s still the driver, even if he is sitting in the passenger seat. It’s just temporary, and they both know it. Dean’s still the boss of their outfit. He’s still the older brother.

It’s mid-afternoon when they pull up to a house with a nice view of a lovely mountain lake. The house looks a little run-down, but it’s set back from the road, hidden by trees. It’s perfect.

“Safe house?” Dean asks as Sam shuts off the engine.

Sadness creases Sam’s forehead. “Tamara and Isaac used to live here,” he says quietly. “Remember them?”

Dean flinches because he does remember. They got Isaac killed, the year before Dean’s tour downstairs.

“It’s ours now,” Sam says. “She left it to us.”

Dean raises his eyebrows, but says nothing. When Sam helps Dean out of the car, Dean lets him. He’s feeling oddly nostalgic suddenly, recalling simpler times and lost comrades.

The rooms are dusty but weirdly homey. There are embroidered pillows on the couch, cups that say “Mom” and “Dad” in the cupboard.

“This was their vacation home,” Sam explains as he opens cupboards to put groceries away. “They spent summers here with their daughter, before...”

Dean’s gut wrenches painfully. “Shit.”

“Yeah.”

One of the two bedrooms contains a king size bed and a picture-window view of the lake. The other room is very plain, with an empty bureau and a twin bed. The walls are pink. There were probably toys here once, maybe a teddy bear on the bed.

Dean feels Sam’s hulking, overheated body behind him, looking into the room over his shoulder. It’s obvious he won’t be comfortable on that bed.

“I’ll take this room,” Dean announces.

He feels Sam hesitate, then huff out a breath. “Okay.”

Sam gasses up the generator, gets them electricity within the hour, then goes out to chop wood for the fireplace. While he waits for the refrigerator to get cold and hot water to heat, Dean makes a salad and fires up the gas grill on the porch for burgers. His leg aches with the exertion, so he lets Sam stand at the grill to flip the burgers while he limps inside for a beer.

“I’ll get better,” he mutters apologetically as he accepts a plate from Sam.

“I know you will,” Sam assures him.

After dinner, they sit on the porch steps, side by side, shoulders and knees touching, nursing their beers as they stare at the lake. It’s peaceful. Dean feels better than he has in months. He thinks maybe he could get used to this quieter life.

As long as he has Sam.

Dean squirms nervously, clears his throat, and Sam shifts, pressing closer against him.

“You know I’m not going anywhere,” Sam says, and Dean huffs out a breath. “Right?”

Dean sighs. “Sam, I’m gimp. I’m never gonna be the man I was before.”

Sam shakes his head sharply. “Doesn’t matter.”

“You deserve better.” It hurts to say it, but it’s true. “You deserve normal. I always wanted that for you. Kids, grandkids, the whole nine yards.”

“Not gonna happen,” Sam says.

“You deserve somebody who really gets you.”

You get me,” Sam insists. “You’re the only person on the planet who understands my life. You’re the only one who helps me make sense of it.”

Dean shakes his head. “I’m no good for you. I’m holding you back. You need to find a girl, settle down, get on with your life.”

“Don’t want a girl. I have you.”

“Sam, you can’t mean that.” Dean huffs out a bitter laugh. “You’re just humoring your lame brother.”

Sam clenches his jaw, shakes his head irritably.

“You’re an ass, you know that?”

Dean cocks an eyebrow, smirks. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m awesome.”

Sam turns his body so that he’s facing Dean. He puts his beer down, then takes Dean’s bottle away and puts it down, too.

Dean blinks and glances warily at Sam’s face, which is set in an expression halfway between frustration and exasperation.

“Dean, sometimes words aren’t enough between us, right? You’ve noticed that. I can’t say enough to make you believe me. So I’m going to show you. With your permission, of course.”

Dean flinches. “You gonna hit me?”

“No, I’m gonna kiss you.”

Dean’s eyes widen. He stares at Sam in shock. “You — What?”

Sam gives another little annoyed head shake, leans in before Dean has time to respond and presses his lips to Dean’s.

Dean’s lips are parted in surprise, so Sam’s kiss is a little deeper than he might have intended. Dean can feel his tongue slip along Dean’s lower lip, which sends a shock of lust straight to his dick, of course.

When Sam pulls back, his eyes are blown almost completely black. Dean can’t resist glancing down and yep, Sam’s jeans aren’t hiding much.

“I’ve wanted to do that for a very, very long time,” Sam says, his voice shaking. He sounds a little breathless.

Dean manages to make his brain work enough to stammer, “What the hell, Sammy? Why did you do that?”

Sam frowns. “What are you talking about? Isn’t it obvious?”

Dean can’t believe his luck. He won’t. Nothing ever works out for them. No way Sam means what he thinks he means.

Then Dean figures it out. “Wait. Was that a pity kiss?”

Sam rolls his eyes. “Did it feel like a pity kiss?”

Instead of answering, Dean leans forward, angling in for another kiss, and Sam meets him halfway. Tongues slide together this time, Dean holds Sam’s jaw so he can kiss him deep and thorough before pulling away.

Sam’s lips are slick with spit. Dean’s spit. Dean did that to Sam’s mouth.

“How was that?”

Sam draws a shaky breath. Nods. “Good. It was good.”

“Damn right,” Dean smirks. “Best damn kiss you ever had.”

Sam rolls his eyes. “You’re an idiot.”

Sam’s eyes drop to Dean’s mouth. He leans in, sliding a hand along Dean’s jaw to the back of his neck, coaxing him closer as he kisses him again.

It’s a thorough, masterful kiss. Dean’s toes curl and his dick hardens almost painfully. Dean’s hands itch to grab hold of Sam, to pull and push at his clothes, to touch all that tan skin.

When he pulls away, he’s panting, practically clinging to Sam. He blinks, watches Sam’s eyes as they turn color in the setting sunlight.

Sam’s smirking, the bitch. “How was that?” He asks in a ridiculously low, seductive voice.

Dean’s still breathing hard.

“Good?” Sam prompts, and all Dean can do is nod.

Sam’s wanting this, being into this, being good at this — it’s all gonna take a little adjusting.

Dean clears his throat, untangles himself from Sam’s embrace, and reaches for his beer. His goddamn dignity, for chrissakes. He takes a long swallow, steadying his nerves. Trying to clear his head. They need to talk about this. They really do.

“How long?”

Sam shrugs. “Since we were kids. Half the reason I left for college was so you wouldn’t find out what a pervert I was.”

Dean shakes his head. “But later? After you found me with the mirror? Why didn’t you tell me then?”

Sam smiles, soft and fond, with a little twinkle of mischievous little brother mixed in. “You never asked.”

//**//**//

They take it slow. Partly because of Dean’s injury, partly because suddenly they’ve got the rest of their lives and there’s no rush. No rush at all. They clean up the dishes, make up the king-sized bed without even considering the other bedroom again. They share a bottle of whiskey on the couch in front of the fire, pressed together from shoulder to ankle, and it feels normal. Feels almost ordinary. Dean likes the little erotic charge of anticipation under his skin because now he knows Sam feels it too, but it’s not really anything new. It’s been part of them and their relationship all their lives, waiting for a chance to surface. Waiting for them to slow down enough to recognize it. They can do something about it or not. That’s not even the point.

“So I guess we really are an old married couple,” Dean comments as he slides his hand along Sam’s thigh, takes his hand and tangles their fingers together.

Sam huffs out a laugh. “You’re an idiot.”

“Aw, Sammy, you really do love me.”

Dean lays his head on Sam’s shoulder, feels the tension as Sam almost shrugs him off, then sighs and relaxes again.

“Love was never the issue with us,” Sam says. “We’ve got enough love between us to power a small planet.”

He’s not wrong.

“What about kids?” Dean asks before thinking.

Sam shifts, so Dean lifts his head, catches the confused frown on Sam’s brow.

“What about ‘em?”

“Don’t you want kids?” Dean says. “Grandkids?”

The corners of Sam’s mouth turn down and he tilts his head quizzically.

“Never really thought about it.” He lifts his eyes to Dean’s. “Do you want kids?”

Dean’s never really thought about it either. He always assumed he’d end up dead before there was a chance of that happening.

“I dunno,” he admits honestly. “Bringing kids into this world feels pretty risky. Not sure it’d be a good idea, even if we could.”

“We could always adopt,” Sam reminds him.

Dean thinks about that for a hot minute, then shakes his head.

“There’s still things out there gunning for us, Sam. Wouldn’t be fair to bring a kid into that. Too dangerous.”

Sam doesn’t argue with him, and Dean has a feeling he’s relieved.

“Guess it’s just us, then,” Sam says, giving Dean’s hand a squeeze.

When the fire burns low, they get ready for bed the way they always do. They take turns in the bathroom, change into sleepwear, fold down the blankets on the bed. Sam sits up reading for a few minutes as Dean gets comfortable, then he puts his book down and shuts off the light.

The room is illuminated by the moon, which is nearly full and casts a shadowy blue light across the walls. Crickets and the lap of waves on the shore of the lake are the only sounds. Dean stares up at the ceiling, heart pounding so loud he thinks Sam must be able to hear it.

Sam shifts onto his side, props himself up on one elbow. When Dean turns his head to look at him, Sam’s eyes seem to glisten in the dim light.

“We don’t have to do anything, if you don’t want to,” Sam says. “Tonight, I mean. I wasn’t angling to get laid when I kissed you. I just wanted to show you why I’d never leave you.”

Sam’s like the perfect boyfriend. Patient, forgiving, ridiculously accommodating. Dean feels like a fumbling, demanding bitch by comparison. Definitely high maintenance.

Sam’s also better at hiding his feelings than Dean could ever hope to be. Dean had no fucking idea. It never would’ve even occurred to him that Sam felt the same way.

Hell, Sam’s just a better person, all around. Dean doesn’t deserve him. Sam deserves somebody better. Broken record, spinning and spinning in Dean’s head.

“You know I’m still the big brother, right?”

Sam rolls his eyes. “You call the shots, yeah.”

“Not sure I’m up to being the big man on campus in this new thing between us,” Dean says. “I’m a little incapacitated.”

Sam grins. “You can just lie there and think of England, if you want to,” he suggests.

Dean frowns. “Think of what?”

Sam rolls his eyes. “Never mind. Let me do the work.”

Which is how Dean learns about topping from the bottom.

Watching Sam come apart on Dean’s dick is the hottest thing he’s ever seen, hotter than any porn, hotter than that stupid mirror that started all this. Dean’s grateful to the damn thing for finally forcing him to face the thing that led to this, because it’s the best thing ever. He couldn’t have imagined loving Sam even a tiny bit more than he already did, but when Sam makes those incredible little gasping sounds, lips parted and eyes squeezed shut, Dean’s certain he’s died and gone to Heaven.

Heaven couldn’t be any better than this, that’s for damn sure.

Holding Sam afterwards, safe and warm and snoring lightly into Dean’s chest, feels like winning the lottery and Christmas all rolled into one. Sam’s love is the most precious gift Dean’s ever received, and although part of him still can’t quite believe he has it, the deeper part of him knows he always has.

Dean’s a damn lucky man after all.