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They aren’t allowed to touch.

It starts with them sharing beds. Or rather, them no longer sharing beds.

The first time Dad tells Dean that he and Sam should start to sleep alone is on his tenth birthday. Ten years old and he can see the edge of distrust in his father’s eye when he follows the way Sam curls into Dean’s side to watch a movie. Ten years old and he doesn’t understand what has changed besides the fact that his age now has two digits instead of one.

He and Sam aren’t doing anything different. Sam still trails behind Dean with two fingers hooked in the hem of Dean’s shirt when they walk around the house, Dean still sits down to help Sam with his workbooks because he likes watching Sam do math, Sam still makes their lunches every day and tucks a note under Dean’s sandwich that always ends up getting soggy, Dean still reads Sam his bedtime stories because he refuses to fall asleep unless it's to the sound of Dean's voice, and it's all them.

This is their routine, how they get through the day-to-day when Dad leaves for hours and days at a time, and when night darkens their windows, they find safety in each other, in the tangle of legs and the steady beat of home, home, home. Their father isn’t there to brush their hair back and kiss their foreheads, so they have to seek the comfort of each other’s hands, twined in an unbreakable pattern of fingers between their chests.

Now Dad wants to change that, to force their gears to grind in a different direction, to adjust into a new normal that doesn’t work for either of them, that isn’t soothing and fluid but instead scratches the inside of their chests like sandpaper on stone.

Dean hates it. He hates it but he does it, because that’s how he was brought up, listen to Dad, watch out for Sammy, two mantras carved in the back of each eyelid until it was all he can see, all he can do. So when Dad takes one of the two beds that night and Sam takes the other, Dean only stays long enough to read Sam his bedtime story, whispering low in his brother’s ears so as to not disturb their father whose eyes are weighed down by four glasses of Scotch. Trying to explain that they can't be them anymore is hard, too hard, and Sam doesn't make it any easier.

"Dean? Where you goin'?" Sam murmurs sleepily as Dean stands and tucks the fluffy duvet up and down Sam's sides until he looks like a caterpillar.

"I got the couch tonight, Sammy. Go to sleep now, okay?"

"What?" Sam's voice wavers from dozy to worried and Dean watches Dad's shoulders twitch in his slumber. "Why?"

"'Cause, Sam. It's fine."

Sam makes a noise and starts wriggling to loosen himself from the blankets. Dean leans forward, hand pushing down on Sam's chest.

"What're you doing?"

"I'm gonna come with you."

"No you aren't. You stay here and you go to sleep." He has to force himself to sound more stern at the end to mask how badly he really wants to slip under the covers with his little brother and warm his toes with those stupid socks Sam always wears to bed.

"Why can't we share like always?" Sam gets louder, more stubborn, squirming beneath Dean's hand and Dean glares at him until he stops.

"Because Dad said so."

"Why'd he say that?"

Dean turns to look at the back of their father's head.

"I dunno. But he said so, so we gotta stop, okay? Sleep, Sammy."

Dean has to avoid looking at Sam's eyes because he knows they're brimming with tears, because Sam is Sam and if he meets those pools of hazel, his resolve will crumble and that isn't an option. He kisses the top of Sam's head, gathers the extra sheets from the hall closet and makes the couch up.

And if he wakes the next morning to find Sam heating his body with legs wrapped around him like vines and fingers twisted with Dean's and beating heart pressed just below his own, then that's not his fault. He can say that he tried.

Dad doesn't like that. He pushes him harder to force Sam to learn to lie in his own bed but they both should know that Sam's a stubborn little brat when he wants to be. He keeps climbing into whatever spot Dean has chosen to sleep and Dean gets more and more nervous because, no matter how much he wants this, Dad said no and Dad always has a reason. So he keeps pushing back, telling Sam that he needs to listen to them and stay in his own bed. Eventually Sam does, though he voices just how stupid he thinks it is about every ten minutes, and they manage to stick to it. But it's when Dad is away that Dean has to really enforce it because Sam thinks that means it's a free pass, "Dad isn't around, Dean, he's not gonna know", saying it so sweet and innocent, like it can be their little secret, just one of the many they hold between them.

But Sam also isn't the one getting looks from their father, the ones that make Dean pull his hand out of Sam's hair or push Sam to his part of the booth at the diner instead of into Dean's side. It scares him, those looks, cutting into him like papercuts and needles, making him feel like he is doing something wrong when all he wants is to look out for Sammy, just like Dad has told him to over and over and over and over and over again, it is a part of him now, because Dad said it should be, so why all of a sudden does it make him want to take three showers after Sam hugs him for too long and Dad just stands there and stares?

So that's how Dean withdraws from his brother, begins keeping his hands to himself and his elbows tucked into his side so there is no free space for Sam to try to climb into. Sam yells at him when they're alone, tears cutting tracks in his cheeks, voice high and hiccuping as he sobs through his frustration, "What did I do, Dean, why won't you let me?", and those are the worst times, when Dean has to lie through his teeth, bullshit about having to grow up, both of them. And that's how Sam learns to sharpen his eyes into glass and his tongue into a sword at the age of seven, but even with an arsenal of words to abuse Dean with, his favorite method is his silence. That just about drives Dean insane.

There are times of truce, but none as important as the one during Christmas of 1991. Because that's when everything changes. That's when Dean has to really tell Sam about the things that go bump in the night, about why Dad is never around, "He's a superhero, Sammy". Dean lets Sam fall asleep crying because he knows that his brother having his last shred of innocence ripped away like a curtain on a stage to reveal all the monsters and ghosts in the world is no easy thing. He feels useless, sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at Sam's ribs rising and falling shakily with his contained sobs. Wants nothing more than to work his fingers into the soft curls of hair at the back of Sam's head and wrap his body around Sam until he can feel their heartbeats pounding next to each other like they’re supposed to.

Instead, he waits it out, listens for the stuffed slow whistling of Sam's nose to indicate he's fallen asleep before grabbing his coat and shutting the door softly behind him. Dean is all too aware of his pockets containing nothing but fingers and air, void of the money he wishes he had to give Sam what he needs right now. He has a hard time choosing which house to break into, but listen, it's for Sammy, if these people knew his brother, they would be throwing these presents at his head in their rush to give it to him because this is Sam, he deserves the world, and Dean's gonna try his damndest to give it to him. He uses a window, wedges it open with his switchblade, bumps his knee on his way in. He can't take too much so he grabs only what he can stuff in his jacket before he clambers back out into the snow.

He does his best to lie through his teeth when he wakes Sam up, but his Sam's too smart, knows him better than Dean wants to admit, and it all falls short. The fear that Sam's gonna shut him out in another cold streak because of Dean's lie eats into his spine, freezing him in his seat on the couch just as easily as Sam's eyes do. But then there is a Sam-wrapped gift being held out to him, "I want you to have it", and Dean should say no because it’s supposed to be for Dad, but Dad is also supposed to be here and he's not, so Dean lets himself be selfish for once, gently weighs the folded newspaper in his palms. His heart is reaching up high in his throat as his fingers touch black twine and lift, the brass amulet at the end of the necklace heavy enough to make his fingers tighten so it won't fall from his gentle grip. The horned head spins slightly from side to side as he holds it aloft, his eyes following every dip and curve until he's memorized it. He wants it on him, so he uses two hands to pull it over his head until the amulet settles low on his chest, and nothing else matters except for the small smile creeping up Sam's face.

It's his second favorite thing in the world, because even something as special as this can’t amount to the place he has reserved in his heart for his little brother.

It is a representation of them, of who they are, both brothers scribing themselves into the shallow cuts of the metal over the years, the simple amulet becoming much more than a symbol of protection. It becomes both a trigger and a barrier that only they understand.

Dean doesn't know how to deal with the feelings that tend to roar up in his chest whenever his eyes find his brother. The emotions eat away space in his lungs that should be reserved for oxygen. It smothers him, the need to please Sam, to earn that smile, the one that makes Dean have to blink really fast right after he sees it because it nearly blinds him. It terrifies him, makes him think Dad was right to separate them how he did, to force Dean to push Sam away because now he can't see himself as anything other than dangerous, a taint on the impeccable purity of Sam. It pisses him off, makes him so angry that he has to lie on his bed, shove his face in the pillow and scream, because this is Dad's fault, watch out for Sammy, he wouldn't feel like this if Dad hadn't told him that his brother is the one thing in the world that needs to be protected, cherished, loved to the extent that Dean's very soul burns with it.

He starts watching Sam differently, his eyes now catching the way his now fourteen year old brother worries his bottom lip with a furrowed brow when he can’t figure something out in his homework. He lets himself bathe in the absolutely overwhelming amount of unnecessary knowledge Sam spouts off as they watch a movie that, according to him, “has absolutely no basis in reality and that right there is physically impossible, how did this even get on the air? Who approved this crap?” Dean just soaks himself in Sam, finding that he prefers to fall silent and listen to his brother speak or just observe the way he moves, how he tries to walk with more purpose now that he is growing older but still manages to have the softest touch, his fingers long, delicate, almost fluid in the way they do the most mundane things like wash dishes, comb his hair, clean a gun.

The stiff tension that has rested between them since Dean’s tenth birthday slowly dissipates and they begin to gravitate together once more. It makes Dean’s heart sing and his skin itch because he wants to touch, just get his hands on his brother, no, not like that, Christ, he just wants to put his palm on the back of Sam’s neck and feel his pulse with his thumb or give him noogies to remind him who’s boss or just sling his arm across Sam’s shoulders without the fear of these feelings shifting through his muscles.

His need to renew his relationship with his brother overrides whatever he’s dealing with inside of himself, so he starts to reach out again here and there; a brush of knuckles over Sam’s cheekbones in a light push when Sam says some smart aleck comment, which earns him a wide-eyed stare, a tickle fight with his fingers digging into Sam’s ribs when Sam won’t let him have the remote, which earns him a heaving chest and the sweetest laugh he’s ever heard ringing in his ears.

It takes time, too long in Dean's eyes, to get back to some semblance of what they were, months slipping by with Dean practically vibrating with the need, but he reins himself in, offering the touches sparsely and only when he can read it in Sam's face that he wants it too. Then one day it's like a click. Sam's sixteen and just as tall as Dean and he's making dinner for them both when he nudges Dean's hip with his own and keeps his eyes on the spaghetti sauce he's stirring. Dean is staring at him because the wave of sparks that just flooded his body might have short circuited his brain and he wants so badly to take this as a sign that they're going back to being them. That night, when Sam puts a hand on Dean's shoulder and leans over to point something out in a library book on kelpies that John called Dean about the night before, Dean knows that it’s real, he’s not delusional, Sam wants it back too. Sam is reciprocating, starting to lean into these touches, braving the tense air hanging over them to get a few of his own on Dean's skin, even if they are few and far between. They're back to being them.

Dean’s still highly aware of Dad’s eyes whenever the three of them are together, forces himself to twist his hands into knots so they won’t betray him when his father is around. It’s always there, that warning, don’t touch, not now. Maybe Dad can sense it in the way both of his boys can’t stay still to save their lives, all jerky half-movements before thinking better of it, shifting restlessly in their seats. Maybe that’s what causes Dad to start to stick around more often, only leaving for a day or two if he can help it.

Dean can tell it’s pissing Sam off. Not just because Sam has picked up a penchant for bickering with Dad for absolutely no reason, but also because he catches the desperate look in Sam’s eyes when their gazes meet, the sharp edge of want for touch shimmering pools of deep hazel.

Sitting on his hands isn’t any good. Dean needs to be doing something, touching something, touching Sam, but he can’t, so he settles for the next best thing. Whenever he starts to get the flames whispering their path under his skin, want, touch, need, he forces his fingers to clamp around the amulet, running the pads over the grooves of brass in patterns until the fire is tamped down to a bearable level.

He thinks it’s a one-off, the first time he does it, that it’s just a way to keep himself busy until he finds Sam watching him, eyes almost half shut as they follow the path of Dean’s fingers rolling the brass head back and forth, slipping up the length of cord before sliding back down to rub between the metal horns, a tactile lullaby for them both. Just like that, Dean knows that this is going to be their replacement. They aren’t allowed to touch, so this is the best they can do, Dean tracing Sam’s amulet in the way he wants to trace the line of his brother’s neck, Sam watching every single movement that Dean’s fingers make because he knows, they both know, what this is.

Dean never feels more alive than when he has the heavy weight in his palm and his brother's gaze searing into his chest. The additional thrill of it, what makes it all a singing buzz in Dean's veins like a never-ending acid trip, is that they can do it in front of their father and he doesn’t have a damn clue. They are never brazen about it. It’s not like Sam walks around the house and drags Dean around behind him by the necklace. It’s small, subtle. Sometimes, when he just needs a reassurance, Dean just lifts a hand, squeezes the amulet hard enough to imprint the shape of the small head into his palm, and lets go.

Sam is the one who gets more reckless as he gets older, now seventeen and lounging his long ass limbs all over the place as he sits back in his booth and blatantly stares at the amulet on Dean's chest until Dean picks it up. Dad is sitting next to Dean in the seat of the diner they're at, a warning in human form against what Dean wants to do right now, which is kiss his brother until neither of them can breathe.

Sam's currently got his bottom lip between his teeth, biting down along the rise of pink skin as he keeps his gaze fixed to where Dean's forefinger is following the grooves of the amulet's face in his hand. It's making Dean twitch, how badly he wants to grab Sam by the back of his neck and drag him over the table, pancakes and bacon and father be damned. Only Dean doesn't have a death wish, he'd like to stick around until he's at least 25, thanks very much, and he really would like to avoid being strangled by his own dad, so he stays where he is, grip tightening on the amulet instead.

Dad seems preoccupied enough with his omelette, switching his attention between the folded newspaper in front of him and attacking his breakfast, and Sam keeps shifting in his seat, gnawing at his damn mouth until it's bright red and sending shivers down Dean's spine and Dean can't take it anymore, needs something, so he lowers his eyes, lifts the amulet to his lips and pushes hard, the metal still warm from his fingertips. The pressure takes off a bit of the flames of want that are licking through his body, relief flooding through him in waves so fast that he has to hold back a sigh. Then he makes the mistake of looking up at Sam's face.

His brother has two bright spots staining the top of his cheekbones and his mouth is parted, breaths breaking harshly but silently out of him as he keeps his eyes on the amulet and where it sits on Dean's lips. Sam rakes a hand through his hair, shoving his bangs away as he leans back against the cushion of the booth, his other hand gripping the edge of the table tightly.

It makes Dean's blood sing to see his little brother affected by something so simple. It makes him brave, too brave, makes his jaw loosen and his lips open just a bit to start to suck the amulet into his mouth, tongue automatically reaching forward to taste the brass.

Sam's reaction is so immediate that Dean nearly chokes on his own spit in surprise. Sam's mouth fully drops open and Dean watches, literally watches, his baby brother's eyes roll back into his head. A movement out of the corner of Dean's eye brings his attention to the hand Sam had been white-knuckling the table with, his lungs stuttering as he watches it fall out of view. Following the line of Sam's arm, he can easily guess where that hand is going, his own body trembling with the need to reach down and alleviate the borderline painful tightness in his jeans or get some kind of friction, anything, but he doesn't move, too entranced by the mental image of the heel of his brother's palm digging into tented denim.

Then Dad is shifting on Dean's left, dragging the newspaper across the table so it faces Dean as one calloused finger traces down a column of text.

"Look at this and tell me what you see," he says gruffly, and panic seizes Dean's lungs up so tight that the amulet drops from Dean's mouth with a wet sound before it hits his chest with a thump.

"Um–" Dean says, his voice breaking like he's thirteen again, so he clears his throat just as he hears a strangled, "oh God", and Sam is shooting out of his seat and tearing across the diner to get to the bathroom.

Dad raises his eyes belatedly, finding his youngest son's back disappearing behind the swinging door before turning his confused gaze to Dean.

"What's wrong with your brother?"

"Dunno," Dean croaks, ducking his head in hopes that the blush he knows is there fades while Dad’s preoccupied with wondering why Sam is a spaz. "Maybe he ate something bad."

"Hope not," Dad grunts, returning his eyes to his plate as he spears a sausage onto his fork. "Don't want him puking in the car. Now tell me what you see."

"Um–" Dean says again, sounding just as brilliant as the first time. He squints down at the article, reading the words but not absorbing any of the information. Apparently he takes too long because Dad is huffing and tapping the paper again with force.

"Skinwalker, Dean. You should know this like the back of your damn hand."

"Right, right," Dean stammers, throat working as he tries to swallow down the emotions boiling under his skin. It's not his fault that he can't think, that every available brain cell is straining towards the door hiding his brother from view, each one screaming with the need to push his father out of the seat and book it to the bathroom to see and feel and hear and touch.

“I’m going to go check on your brother. Go wait in the car.” Dad tosses the keys and a wad of bills onto the table before heaving himself up, his boots loud on the cheap tile lining the diner's floor.

Dean covers his face with a hand as he leans his elbow on the top of the table, his other one curling into a fist on the seat beside him. Despite it all, the inseam of his jeans is still a little too tight for him to even consider moving. He tries to think of things to calm him down, grandmas in lingerie, that one time Sam had a stomach flu and puked on Dean’s boots with his forehead all clammy and sweaty and grey, but now Dean’s thinking about flushed cheeks and swoops of brown hair sticking to damp skin and Sam’s goddamn mouth falling open like a sin and just like that, he’s gone, biting back whimpers as he bends forward and comes in his pants in the middle of a diner like a fucking teenager.

He’s out of the booth with keys in hand as soon as he can get his legs working, keeping his head low and his body tilted away from any eyes that may be on him as he bolts outside. He throws open the trunk of the Impala to yank out clean jeans and underwear from his bag before slamming it shut again. Dean’s pretty sure he’s lost function in one of his lungs because he’s sucking wind like he just ran a marathon as he surveys the parking lot. God is with him for once as his eyes land on a huge dumpster bin around the side of the diner that faces away from the main street. He feels disgusting, changing clothes next to the fly-infested metal box that is nearly overflowing with black garbage bags leaking some kind of liquid onto the pavement at his feet. Then again, he’s already disgusting for wanting this, wanting his brother, for imagining him writhing and arching beneath Dean in one long, unbroken line of smooth skin and fluttering muscles.

Dean wishes his body would agree with his head, wishes it would make him gag at these thoughts, make his stomach churn, make him really believe that he’s a horrible, horrible fucking person, but it’s traitorous like always, a pleased heat spreading from his stomach down to his toes as he recalls Sam’s face in the diner, how easily he fell apart just from Dean pressing his amulet, their amulet, to his mouth. Swearing, Dean chucks his ruined jeans and underwear into the dumpster and makes his way back to the car just as Dad holds the door open for Sam to walk out.

“Sammy’s not feeling too hot, so he’s gonna lie down in the back. Dean, do we have any of that medicine for stomach aches? Check the trunk, would you?”

“Yessir,” Dean grinds out, eyes on the ground as he opens the back of the car once more to paw through their duffles until he pulls out the bottle. He shakes one out into his palm, tosses the bottle back into the bag and closes the trunk just in time to see Dad ushering Sam into the backseat. He gets in the front, turning around as Dad starts the car to hand over the pill he knows Sam won’t take. Sam’s fingers brush his as he takes the capsule and their eyes meet, a burning flare roaring up in Dean’s stomach once more at the deepened color of Sam’s irises, the stretch of black pupils that are growing bigger with each passing second that they hold each other’s gaze. Dean swallows hard and pulls away, staring blankly out of the windshield as Dad eases the Impala out onto the main road. It’s a long, long drive.

The incident only makes it harder for them after that, harder for Dean to stop touching the damn necklace every second of the day, because seeing Sam twitch or hearing Sam’s sharp intake of breath each time that he does is addictive. It’s like Pavlov and the dog or whatever the fuck, some sick, twisted science experiment that they never talk about but still conduct to see who needs to run to the bathroom or bedroom first. The fact that nine times out of ten it’s Sam isn’t lost on Dean. Nothing is lost on him, not anymore, not when he spends his entire day tracking Sam’s movements like it’s his full time job.

So when Dad needs to leave them for a few days in a cabin on the outskirts of Red Lodge, Montana to meet up with Pastor Jim, to say there is tension is an understatement. Not just their tension, though. Sam is pissed because he was halfway through a project he was supposed to put in the science fair at his last school when they were uprooted again, so he’s sulking on the couch as Dean makes dinner. He can’t decide if he should stay close to Sam or keep his distance, internally warring with himself between comforting Sam and letting him stew. He knows how Sam can get, usually just wants to be alone after these kind of fights with Dad, so in the end he steers clear, puts the bowl down on the coffee table in front of Sam before seating himself at the small island in the kitchen. He’s just about to dig into the chili when he hears a clatter to his left and sees Sam plopping down while giving him the side eye.

“What, you don’t wanna eat with me?” Sam asks, swirling the back of his spoon along the sides of the bowl to scrape it down into the center.

“Figured you had a few more hours of wallowing in self-pity to go. Didn’t want to interrupt.”

Sam scowls down for a moment before a little snort leaves him. Dean knows he’s won, that Sam’s gonna get over it just like he’s gotten over every other move they’ve ever had to make before. Thank God, because on top of being sexually frustrated twenty four-seven, Dean really didn’t want to put up with Sam bitching around for the next three days.

The rest of the night passes with relative ease, both of them settling down to watch whatever movie is on the least fuzzy of the four channels they get on this crap television. Dean tries to keep his eyes front and center and decidedly not travelling down the length of his brother’s body, which is splayed everywhere because he’s fucking enormous now, taller than Dean and not even eighteen yet and Dean resents it a little bit. But Dad’s not here, so Dean lets himself casually drape an arm along the back of the couch and if Sam slowly tilts his head so that Dean’s fingers can dig into his hair, then it doesn’t really matter, does it? They brush their teeth side by side like they always do, get into an elbowing war until Sam’s particularly bony one jabs Dean’s upper arm so hard that he chokes on his frothy toothpaste.

They share a room because it’s habit, and maybe a little bit of something else, but it’s not like they’re ever going to talk about it, so Dean’s just going to ignore that as best as he can. And it works at first, both of them sliding into their respective beds, the night pouring shadows into the room to make it so dark that it takes fifteen minutes for Dean’s eyes to adjust from where he is staring at the ceiling. It works because Dean thinks Sam has fallen asleep, given the soft breaths he can hear two feet away, which lets him relax and turn onto his stomach with his arms tucked under his pillow to let sleep start to blur the edges of his mind. It works until the rustle of sheets to his right become more than just a body turning over in unconsciousness and the low noise that reaches Dean’s ears sounds an awful lot like a moan muffled in a pillow.

Dean shouldn’t, he fucking knows he shouldn’t, but he does it anyway, opens his eyes to look over at his brother’s bed. He sees the sharp angle of Sam’s right knee that he’s shifted so the flat of his foot is on the mattress, watches as it angles away from him as Sam lets his legs fall open more, and Dean can honestly say he’s never gotten so hard so fast in his fucking life. He feels his lungs clamp down on all available air as the sheets move with Sam’s hands, which are sliding down his torso to the exact spot Dean should not be staring at right now. He can’t stop himself, his eyes drinking in the faint outline of his brother’s chest rising and falling with pants, watching as Sam turns his face from the pillow to give Dean his profile, the line of his nose, the space between his lips from where they are open and allowing a gasp to punctuate the suddenly suffocating room.

Dean’s head is spinning so fast that he’s getting dizzy and he isn’t even moving, his hands bunching in the material of his pillow so tightly that he thinks it’s going to tear in half. He isn’t going to touch, not himself, not Sam, definitely not Sam, because this could go a lot of ways and he’s pretty damn sure that every single one of them would end with them being shipped off to opposite sides of the country or God smiting them or something.

But Sam’s not stopping and Dean has to clamp his eyes shut after he sees Sam’s hips arch up so high that his own have to grind down in response, the mattress only providing him with some amount of relief and mostly just the feeling that his little brother is reducing him to his teen years again where he has no semblance of self control. His own breathing is choppy now and he smothers his face into his pillow to stifle the moan that shudders through his body as he spreads his thighs a bit wider and rolls his hips down into his bed.

Dean.”

The sound of his name leaving his brother’s mouth, keening and desperate and beautiful, floods Dean’s veins with fire and gasoline, his orgasm exploding through him so hard that all he can do is ride through it with a series of hitching breaths that do nothing but stoke the flames. Amid the rushing in his ears, he can hear Sam say his name again, Dean’s eyes opening just in time to see Sam’s hips working up over and over again into his palm while the other hand grips the column of his throat, fingers dancing over the skin as if looking for something to hold on to. The cord around Dean’s neck and the amulet digging into his chest have never felt as heavy as they do now.

He takes a two hour run through the woods in the morning because he isn’t quite sure how he’s supposed to face his little brother after they simultaneously got off next to each other. The calm of the trees and wind around him make him feel a little more centered and a little less scared about all of this.

He knows it’s selfish to want every single part of Sam, even the parts that a brother should never even think about touching. But all they’ve ever truly had is each other, so why should this be any different? Why shouldn’t Dean have this? Have Sam? He just wants to share this, whatever this is, with the one person he’s never let down or failed or disappointed, the one person who has made Dean realize that his salvation comes in the form of a boy with slanted eyes and a smile that could make the world burn. Christ, this is fucked up. Dean’s pretty sure he could convince himself that robbing a bank with nothing but a pair of cufflinks and a stapler was plausible if he had enough time to stop and think about it, so he carefully wipes his mind blank and counts his breath as he runs through the thick of the trees around him.

He returns around ten, drenched in sweat from the humidity and the rising sun, and heads straight for the shower, do not pass Go, do not make eye contact with the kid standing in the kitchen over a cereal bowl. The shower takes about three times longer than it needs to, mainly because Dean just stands there and stares at the wall while the hot water pounds the top of his head. He changes into sweatpants and a loose shirt in the privacy of the bedroom before collapsing on the bed. Without much else to do around here, and also because he's still not ready to face Sam and everything that entails, he lets himself drift off to sleep for a few hours. The clock reads just past one thirty when he trudges out into the living room. Sam is on the couch, crosslegged among a swamp of notebooks and scattered paper. He’s scribbling and scratching things out in harsh lines, his other hand playing absently with the hair that flips out in a little wing above his ear as he thinks.

“Looks like a bomb exploded in here,” Dean says, because it’s a safe topic and also because there’s really nothing else to discuss since they’re definitely not going to talk about last night. Sam looks up briefly before returning to his page.

“I decided I’m gonna finish my project. It’s bugging me.”

“Wow,” Dean snorts as he makes his way to the fridge to pull out the makings of a sandwich. “You couldn’t be a bigger nerd if you tried.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sam drawls from the living room. “You love it.”

Dean accidentally knocks over the mustard jar and drops his knife and generally becomes a fucking mess because Sam’s joke doesn’t really feel like a joke, it feels like a statement of fact, and it’s leaving Dean in a bit of a state of flux, isn’t that just great? Eventually, Dean composes himself enough to actually finish making his sandwich before grabbing a beer to sit at the opposite end of the couch, stray papers crinkling under his butt.

“I need those.”

“Should’ve moved them, then.”

“You’re wrinkling them with your fat ass.”

“Poor you.”

Dean takes this opportunity to seize the remote and turn the television on, sound blaring through the room as the intro to whatever show is on plays obnoxiously.

“Dean, it was off for a reason, I’m trying to work here!” Sam wheedles like the pain in the ass that he is as he throws his pen at Dean’s head. It bounces off his ear and Sam picks it up again before Dean can whip it back.

“So what am I supposed to do?”

“Maybe try sitting still for once.”

Dean scowls at the box as he turns it off and chucks the remote at Sam’s shoulder. This is easy, bugging Sam. Normal. Verging on it, anyway. After finishing his sandwich, Dean puts down the plate and leans back, slowly draining his beer as he watches Sam trail his finger across his notes, checking and double checking, crossing things out, writing in the margins. His own system of words and numbers and equations and shit that Dean doesn’t have the first clue about. A smile tugs at the edge of Dean’s mouth as he watches Sam work because, yeah, his kid’s a nerd, but more than that, he’s a genius and he’s going to go somewhere in life, and fuck if that doesn’t make Dean a bit sad and happy at the same time.

“So what’s all this?” Dean nudges a notebook that is half hanging off the coffee table with his toe.

Sam looks at Dean like he’s an idiot.

“Okay, smartass, I know it’s your project. I mean what is your project?”

Sam smiles as he erases something with his pencil, swiping the page a few times to get rid of the shavings.

“You’re not gonna understand a word I say.”

“Oh yeah? Try me.”

So Sam launches into this tirade about science crap, Dean thinks it’s chemistry but seriously, what does he know. Sure enough, he gets lost somewhere around the word Sam uses that ends in “benzoparasomethingorother” and his eyes cross when Sam talks about molecules and ions, and by the end of it, Sam’s just laughing as Dean blinks at him.

“Was any of that even in your project?” Dean accuses slowly as he tries to mass together his remaining brain cells.

“No, I just wanted to fuck with you.”

“Yeah, well, I’m going to get drunk, so have fun with your… whatever the hell this is.”

“Without me?” Sam’s voice goes up a little at the end with his question.

“Like you’re going to be able to handle taking shots,” Dean snorts as he stands and takes his plate and empty bottle to the kitchen.

“Depends. Shots of what?”

Dean turns to look at Sam, who is staring back at him from upside down with his head tipping over the top of the couch.

“Tequila,” Dean says because he wants Sam to back down and for this to stop before it gets any worse, and by worse he means both of them drunk and alone in a secluded cabin with a tendency for wanting to touch each other in a way brothers shouldn’t touch.

“Perfect. I love tequila.”

“No one loves tequila.”

“Well, I love tequila.”

“Shut up, Sam.”

Sam grins at him before standing up and starting to organize his mess. “C’mon, Dean, break out the liquor. I thought you wanted to get drunk.”

“It’s two in the afternoon,” Dean hedges.

“When has that ever stopped you?”

Kid has a point.

“Fine. But I’m not cleaning up your puke. I mean it.” Dean reaches up above the fridge on his tiptoes to pull down the bottle of light liquid that’s a little over half full along with a handful of shot glasses. He lines them up on the counter and feels his brother’s presence hovering behind him, watching.

“It’s okay if you want to pussy out.”

“I’m not pussying out, Dean.”

“Okay, okay, fine,” Dean shrugs. “Here we go.”

The small glasses are sloshed to the brim with tequila, Dean’s graceless technique leaving the sides slick with liquor, but both Sam and Dean pick up their respective ones, clink them together and throw them back with no issue. Sam’s tossing down his second one by the time Dean picks his up, and he would be going for his third if Dean hadn’t grabbed his wrist.

“Told you I wasn’t gonna clean up your puke, man. Take it easy.”

“Scared I’m gonna beat you?” Sam raises his eyebrows and suppresses a burp.

“Scared you’re gonna projectile vomit is more like it.”

Sam grins at him again, big and toothy and Sam, and says, “I’ve done this once or twice too, you know. Chill out.”

Christ. Dean lets go of Sam’s wrist to swallow liquid fire, slamming the shot glass down as he fights the urge to wince.

“Fine. You’re on.”

An hour later, once Dean had to run a naked mile through the woods after Sam beat him at drunk poker, they settle down to watch the Star Wars marathon, drinking every time Yoda speaks weird or C3PO loses a body part. In time, Dean finds himself in a pleasant buzz. Sam’s giggling into his shoulder because R2D2’s head is spinning like a top and making high pitched squeaks and Sam’s laugh makes Dean laugh and it’s fine. They’re just spending time together, like brothers should be. Sam compares Dean and the Impala to Han and the Millennium Falcon. Dean’s okay with that.

By the time the final movie ends, they’re both boneless on the couch. Dean is so used to the warmth on his neck that it takes a moment to register that it’s Sam’s face tucked in the space between his shoulder and throat. He lolls his head over the back of the couch, staring up at the ceiling as he listens to the thump of his heart and the feel of Sam’s beating against the line of his ribs, remembering those years ago when they would lay entwined and this would be his lullaby.

They haven’t been this close physically for a while, Sam tucked under Dean’s arm, his front pressed into Dean’s side. Dean feels his pulse jump at the same time his body does when five fingers trail down the length of his throat, almost reverent in their path as they dance over his skin. He shivers, his eyes slipping shut as they run back and forth over the dip of his collarbone, the pads not as rough as his or Dad’s, they’re just Sam, gentle and soft and not made for the life their family lives. Sam's touch falls even lower and Dean feels the cord around the nape of his neck tighten as Sam pulls it into his hand.

The next thing he knows, they’re turning and falling, Sam landing underneath him in a way that Dean’s craved for longer than he wants to admit. Sam's fist around the amulet is guiding Dean up so their bodies meet like two magnets that have been held away from each other for too long. Dean pushes onto his forearms, blinking down at his brother as he takes in the slow rise of red that’s blooming on Sam’s cheeks under Dean’s scrutiny. It’s beautiful, makes Dean shudder with the sparks that spit fire into his very cells, makes his breath catch when he watches Sam lift the amulet and drag it across his mouth. Sam keeps his eyes on Dean’s, electricity humming in the remaining space between their chests and faces. All Dean can see are black pools ringed with hazel, wanting just as much as he does, begging him with the rasp of smooth metal over skin.

His lips part on reflex when Sam’s do, only to see a flicker of pink tongue slip under the head of the amulet to draw it down into his mouth. Dean sucks in a breath and rolls his hips in response, every inch of his body vibrating with the fire eating through his veins. From the edge of his vision, Dean can see Sam’s hands now coming up to cup his face. Dean’s fingers are wrapped around each of Sam’s wrists and shoving them into the cushion above his head before he can even think about what he’s doing, their chests vacuum tight against one another.

“No,” Dean forces out around the lump in his throat, watching Sam’s eyelids flutter as he speaks. “Can’t touch, Sammy.”

Sam strains his arms under Dean’s palms, as if testing to see if Dean’s really going to keep him pinned. Dean tenses his muscles and pushes down harder, earning him a moan that breaks around the brass intrusion in his brother’s mouth. Christ, Dean realizes, Sam likes it. He has to bite back his own noise as he feels Sam’s body arch beneath him.

Some malfunctioning pathway in Dean’s brain is telling him that if their hands don’t touch, if their lips don’t touch, that it’s okay, that it’s just toeing the line and not stepping over it completely. That the way Sam is opening his legs for Dean right now isn’t wrong and neither is the way Sam hooks his heels behind Dean's thighs to pull him closer. Dean can feel Sam on the outside of his leg, a hot, hard line rubbing through two layers of clothing, the whisper of the denim scratching the material of his pants reaching his ears.

Dean leans down and presses his forehead tightly onto Sam’s as they rock together, focusing everything on hearing the little whines and hitches of breath that leave his brother’s throat.

“C’mon, Sammy,” Dean whispers, angling his head so his mouth is hovering barely an inch above Sam’s, the only thing separating them being air and the amulet, the very same one that Sam is pushing up and out of the wet cavern of his mouth, the one he is trying to make rise in that inch between them by pursing his lips. The hot brass sears as it touches Dean's overly sensitive skin and the groan that escapes him is low and guttural, shaking him as he parts his lips to take the amulet, still slick from his brother’s mouth, into his own.

“Dean,” Sam whimpers, his eyes fixed on where Dean is delicately holding the head between his teeth. Dean can feel Sam’s arms flex under his fingers as he tries to move them, desperate to reach forward and touch, but Dean can’t have that, can’t let it happen, so he squeezes even tighter as he dips his face down while he grinds his hips into his brother. Sam’s body tenses as Dean traces the column of his neck with the metal face, the horns scratching their own lines as Dean guides it down to the hollow of Sam’s throat.

“Don’t move,” Dean says as clearly as he can, pausing until Sam nods his head vigorously. Dean releases Sam’s wrists, taking a moment to watch as red marks blossom from where his fingers once were before continuing to make his way down Sam’s body. Nudging Sam’s thighs apart even more as he settles between them, Dean drags his mouth and the amulet from Sam's navel to the narrow taper of his hips, letting the warm brass slide over the thin sliver of skin showing between Sam's shirt and the elastic band of his briefs. He can feel Sam's muscles tensing and untensing with the amount of restraint he's using to not buck up and it makes Dean smile around the object between his teeth, humming low in his throat as he turns his head to nuzzle the front of Sam's jeans. Sam does jerk then, air hissing out of his lungs in a needy whine as Dean teases him with a light pressure of the amulet against the sizeable bulge tenting the worn jeans.

"Please, Dean, please–" Sam chokes out, body taunt and trembling like a bowstring ready to snap. Sam is begging for it, his words turning into fuel for Dean to give in to the sick little voice in his head that needs to get his mouth on his brother, just for a moment. Dean sucks in a breath through his nose, opens his mouth wide and presses his lips into the denim covering his brother's thigh. Dragging his mouth down the length of Sam's erection, Dean gusts out one long, hot exhale while using the flat of his tongue to push the amulet along as he moves, relishing in the numbing scratch of the material against his lips.

Next thing he knows, a hand is gripping his hair and Sam is writhing, pulses rocking his body in sharp waves that Dean can feel up close and personal, practically taste it on his tongue as Sam comes mere inches from Dean's face. He could taste it if he let the amulet drop, the wet patch now staining the inside of Sam's thigh within reach of his mouth. But he doesn't, choosing to sit up and back onto his heels, dropping the amulet from his lips in favor of taking the deep breaths he needs to stop himself from crawling back over his brother’s body.

Dean can’t stop staring at Sam, how he has one arm thrown over his eyes, the way his face and neck are burning with an endearing flush that disappears down under the collar of his shirt, that damp patch of sweat at his left temple that has darkened the strands of his hair. His other hand is on his stomach where it dropped away from Dean's head, fingers twitching now and again with the aftershocks that are still running their course through him. It’s making Dean’s throat close up with the want for more, the need to have skin and muscles and hair he knows as well as he knows his own under his fingertips, but then he looks again and he sees his little brother, the one thing he’s protected his entire life, and knows they can never get to that point.

Dean's about to go take a very cold shower to get rid of his own problem, swings his legs over the edge of the couch to plant his feet on the floor and stand, until Sam's hand on his arm stops him. Dean can only watch as Sam, panting and sweaty and clingy and Sam, sits up and shakes his head.

"Let me," he pleads, shifting forward to line his front along Dean's side, a mockery of their earlier position, because this time Dean is so hard it hurts and Sam is trying to pull back the top of Dean's sweatpants. Dean catches Sam's wrist, fingers touching on the red mark he'd left on the skin from before.

"Sam, we can't–" Dean hisses before gritting his teeth as Sam presses in closer. Their eyes meet and, in that silence, Dean can see that Sam understands.

"Okay," Sam says, his voice rough and low and dragging along Dean's bones. "Okay, Dean."

Sam pulls free of Dean's grip to instead press his palm over the back of Dean's hand, urging Dean to drag his own fingers down to where he needs it the most. At the same time, Sam nudges his face into Dean's neck and finds the black twine that loops around his throat, slowly sliding his mouth back and forth so the cord runs between his lips as he grinds the heel of his hand into Dean's to show him what he wants Dean to do. Dean mimics his movement, gasping out loud when it provides the relief he's needed, his entire body twitching with the shivers that stem from pressure.

It only takes a few more pushes with Sam's fingers kneading themselves with Dean's for him to unravel, a long, drawn out moan escaping his throat as Sam's hand and lips tighten at the same time to push him over the edge. Maybe when he comes down he can feel embarrassed about how quickly he's lost it for the third time because of his brother, but right now everything just feels good with Sam against his shoulder and shivering shock waves travelling through every fiber of his being.

Dean doesn't know how long it is until he can peel his eyelids open again but the living room is completely dark by the time that he does. Sam is asleep, half draped over his body like a living blanket, his arms circling Dean's waist loosely. Trying his best to ignore the uncomfortable feeling in the crotch of his sweatpants, Dean looks down at the top of Sam's head and wonders if he could carry him to the bedroom. Sam may be tall but he's still a lanky kid, muscles only just starting to stick to his frame and edge his soft form into more defined lines.

Before he can even think to try, Sam's raising his head and blinking himself awake, his eyes still glazed with sleep when they meet Dean's. A lazy closed-lip smile peeks from the corner of Sam's mouth before he ducks forward to nuzzle his way under Dean's chin like he's some kind of cat.

"Hey."

"Hey yourself," Dean says back, his voice sounding like he'd been gargling rocks. He clears his throat to try to get rid of it and hears Sam hum in response.

It's quiet for a few minutes. Dean finds his fingers carding through the hair at the back of Sam's head, the strands long and silky as they slip over his palm.

"I know it's wrong." Dean blinks, his hand stilling as he stares blankly at the wall ahead of him, Sam's quiet words floating to his ears. "But I still want it, Dean."

"Don't, Sam," Dean grates out, eyes closing so he can hide in the blackness of his vision. Damn it. Sam is right. This is wrong, so so fucking wrong. Dean shouldn't be allowing this, should be shoving Sam away and calling Dad to demand to be put in an asylum or convent or goddamn jail cell, anywhere to get him away from this temptation to taint his brother.

He can feel Sam push himself up and away, can feel the holes burning into his face from where Sam is staring and waiting for him to open his eyes, so he doesn't. He sits there on the couch, tries to control his breathing and does his best to ignore the fact that Sam wants this just as badly as he does.

"Don't what? Don't want this? You can't seriously–" Sam starts to protest but Dean lifts a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose and cuts him off with a sharp, "Enough, Sam, Jesus."

Like the coward he is, Dean keeps his eyes shut and his jaw clenched until Sam gets up and leaves, the sound of a door slamming following not long afterwards. Dean heaves out a sigh and leans forward onto his knees as he rubs both hands vigorously over his face, trying to scrape away the shame and the lingering thoughts in his head that berate him for being the world's shittiest sibling.

Dean wants to shower but, eyeing their closed bedroom door, he figures he won't be getting to clean clothes anytime soon unless he wants to face Sam. It's fine for the first ten minutes, but eventually he's forcing himself to his feet. He can handle some pretty gross situations, but for whatever reason, sitting in a drying pool of his own come is one that really just doesn't work for him.

Groaning, he makes his way to the bathroom, turning the shower on as hot as it can go for his second rinsing of the day. He scrubs the soap across his skin until it's pink from the force of it, as if he can rip off the slimy feeling of disappointing Sam with the lather under his fingernails. After drying himself off, Dean wraps the towel around his waist and gathers his dirty clothes into a ball in his hands. Hesitating outside the bedroom door, he swallows hard before knocking twice with his knuckles.

"...Sam?"

"Fuck off, Dean," comes the muffled response.

"I'm coming in," Dean announces, twisting the knob as he pushes with his shoulder. He's surprised to find it gives way, not locked and bolted like he figured it would be in typical Sam fashion after any sort of disagreement.

Padding into the room, Dean keeps his eyes on his duffle as he tosses his dirty clothes into the corner and rifles through to find some new ones. Deciding it's the lesser of two evils, Dean turns his back to Sam to pull on his new pair of briefs and baggy running shorts. The t-shirt he pulls over his head is one of Dad's old ones, the black so washed out that it looks grey with faded writing on the chest that no one can read anymore. Finally looking at his brother, Dean finds Sam on his stomach with his head turned towards the window on the opposite wall of the room.

"What part of 'fuck off' do you not understand?" Sam snaps, his words faint since he's facing away from Dean.

Dean sighs through his nose as he moves to sit gingerly on the end of Sam's bed. He keeps his eyes on Sam's feet, the socks he has on just a little discolored on the bottom under his heel, and tries not to notice that Sam changed into a new pair of black briefs.

"Come on, Sam."

"I already did."

Dean chokes a bit, coughing to clear his throat.

"Sam, Jesus."

"What?" Sam twists his upper body so he's propped up on his elbows, hazel eyes flashing in his anger. "Don't do that, Dean. Don't act like it didn't happen if we don't talk about it. Do you understand how flawed that logic is? How fucked up it is?"

"That's the whole point, Sam," Dean says back, voice straining. "It's fucked up. It shouldn't be–I shouldn't be–"

"Christ, Dean, you can't honestly take this all on you!" Sam's sitting up fully now, exasperation and shock twisting his face. "You're not corrupting me. You're not making me do anything I don't want to do. And I swear to God, if you say anything about me being too young to know what I want–"

"Sam, you are. You're only seventeen–"

"You think I don't know that?!" Sam explodes, lurching forward to shove Dean's shoulders as hard as he can. A yelp bursts from Dean's mouth as he falls off the bed and onto his side.

"What the hell, man?" Dean shouts, rolling onto his back and wincing as he cradles the elbow that he fell on wrong.

Sam's standing over him now, hands in Dean's shirt as he forces Dean onto his feet so they are eye level, harsh breaths pumping from his lungs.

"Look at this, Dean. I'm touching you." Sam puts his hands on Dean's chest and jostles him back a few steps. "I'm touching you and we aren't getting struck by lightning. We aren't bursting into flames."

"Shut up," Dean snaps, fingers shaking as they knock Sam's arms away.

"I want you." Sam is back again, reaching for Dean's face now.

Dean catches Sam before he can make contact with his cheeks, forcing down the panic bubbling in his throat.

"Sam," Dean croaks out, his grip tightening until he can feel the delicate bones of Sam's wrists digging into his palms. He pours every ounce of concern into his next words, trying his best to sound convincing to both himself and to his brother. "There's more than just this. For you, there's more out there. You gotta think about this, man. What else do you want, Sam? In life, in–in everything? Because it can't be just this. I know it can't."

Sam stops, his entire body stilling as he stands in front of Dean. In those moments Dean lets himself drink his little brother in, how his shoulders have broadened, the bow of his top lip, the color of his irises, deep and ever-changing with the light and his own emotions. It hurts to breathe when he looks at Sam, and even when he knows they're past this point and it's a false hope, Dean can't help but pray that the same thing doesn't happen to Sam too.

Because, yes, Dean is selfish. He wants to keep Sam for himself, map out his brother's body with his fingers and taste the secret places of Sam's skin. He wants it so bad that he can't stop shaking with it. He knows he is hinging on Sam's next words, that they're either going to send him over the edge or put him down for good. For both their sakes, he's hoping for the latter, because if Sam has hopes and dreams, which he should because he's Sam and he deserves everything this world has to offer, then Dean's going to tap out and stop this before it goes any farther. He can't be the reason that Sam keeps himself back. He would die before he let that happen.

"Dean," Sam's voice pulls him from the swirling thoughts in his head and their eyes meet once more, the intensity of Sam's stare sending chills clawing down Dean's spine. "It's you. It's always been you. All I've ever wanted is you."

Dean's heart is soaring out of his chest and he's opening his mouth to speak but the words have died on his tongue. It's not like it matters because Sam is getting his fingers tangled in the cord looped around Dean's neck and his lips are pressing against Dean's and it's the sweetest sin he's ever tasted, and just like that, he knows they're gone.

In all the times that Dean imagined kissing his brother, he never thought it would feel so right. Sam's holding him tightly now, like he thinks Dean is going to try to push him away, his lips urgent where they tilt and gently massage against his own, soft and tentative but desperate all the same and it lights Dean's blood on fire. His hands are off of Sam's wrists and into his brother's hair as fast as he can manage it, digging into strands to pull Sam down even closer because this, Christ, it's all he's ever wanted too. The moan that Dean swallows from his brother is like a shot of whiskey, a path of fire that licks down his throat and pools deep in his stomach and it's the only thing Dean wants to drink for the rest of eternity.

At some point, Dean's back hits a wall and Sam is crushing him into it, pinning him with sharp hips, a wide chest and huge hands spanning his neck and collarbone. Dean doesn't remember how to breathe and he decides that if he were to die in this moment, he would have no regrets because at least he would go with the taste of his brother on his lips. But his lungs want him to keep kicking, so they continue to pull air in through his nose as Sam ravages his mouth and lets loose these little mewls that leaves Dean harder than he's ever been in his entire life.

"Dean, please, can I–please, Dean?" Sam ducks his head to pant and lick at Dean's jaw with sharp teeth and hot tongue and Dean has to let his head thunk back against the wall because he's so fucking overwhelmed that he doesn't remember how to speak. But he knows what Sam is asking for, wants Dean to let him touch, so he nods into Sam's mouth and says something like, "Yeah, Sammy, yeah, fuck", and then they're moving again. Sam's hands push him, gentle this time but just as urgent, until Dean's back is hitting the mattress and Sam's fingers are digging into his sides like branding irons, hot lengths that sear into his skin to mark him as Sam's in every way, shape and form.

Sam slides his body up Dean's so they are chest to chest, capturing his mouth in a bone-melting kiss once more as he works Dean's shirt up until it bunches under his armpits. They break away to allow Dean to tear it over his head, the amulet tangling in the material before thumping down on his sternum.

A quiet sigh leaves Sam and he relaxes down into Dean until his head is level with the physical symbol of all that they are that rests just below Dean's collarbone. Dean's breaths start to come faster as he watches Sam's mouth open to circle the amulet with his lips, and when he feels Sam's tongue scoop underneath the brass head, his body rises up to meet the feeling that is sending wave after wave of shivers through his veins. Sam's hands immediately find his chest and push him back down into the bed, forcing Dean to stay still as Sam traces patterns in the skin surrounding the amulet with the tip of his tongue. By the time he lifts his face to stare up at Dean through a curtain of bangs, Dean is squirming and gnawing his lip so hard he's about to break through the skin with his teeth.

"Sammy, fuck–" Dean's voice is a broken remnant of what it used to be, pitiful with the want that is surging through him like a tidal wave. Sam hums at the use of his nickname, leans up and extracts Dean's bottom lip to suck it into his own mouth, dragging his tongue across the bite marks that Dean had put there himself. Dean can't help but groan and take Sam's face between his palms to angle their heads just right to be able to deepen the kiss that stems from that. Sam goes limp under Dean's hands, lets Dean pull his shirt off and then be put onto his back, his hair splaying across the pillow underneath his head like a halo. Dean nudges his legs apart and slips between them to latch his mouth onto Sam's neck, sucking in the taste of his brother's sweat and skin.

The moment that the amulet drags up Sam's bare stomach to his pecs, his entire body convulses, thighs tightening reflexively around Dean's hips to the point that Dean raises himself to stare down at Sam. Sam, who is flushed and twitching and looking ravished before Dean has even started and can't seem to stop watching the pendant and where it is swinging gently between their bodies. Dean makes his decision right there, knows what he needs to do.

"Stay," he commands, pressing his fingers into Sam's chest to emphasize his point before shimmying from between Sam's legs to go over to his duffle bag.

"Dean?" Sam sounds worried at first, but then a low, desperate moan leaves him once he sees Dean turn around with the belt in his hand.

Dean climbs on the bed and moves into his previous spot, kneeling to take Sam's wrists in one hand and wrap the thick, worn leather once around them both. Leaning forward, he uses the remaining length to secure them to the bedpost, leaving him with an eyeful of long arms, flushed cheeks and a heaving torso. Sam's thighs are back on Dean's hips, the muscles quivering as he crosses his ankles behind Dean and tries to urge him forward, his heels slipping a bit against the smooth material of Dean's shorts.

"It's okay, Sammy," Dean bends down to settle his lips into the curve of Sam's jaw. "Just let me take care of you."

The breath that slowly shudders out of Sam's chest makes his entire body tremble, like he's releasing everything out into the air, like he's making room for Dean in the very space of his lungs. Dean can feel it against his lips and rewards Sam with a tentative kiss to his Adam's apple before reaching back to unlock Sam's ankles and instead position them so Sam's feet are flat on the bed, knees bent and splayed wide. Pushing himself up onto his palms to hover over Sam's body, heart pounding fresh and hot in his ears, Dean bends his elbows until the amulet hanging from his neck brushes Sam's upturned lips. They part slightly, ready to welcome it, but Dean retracts, lets it drag down Sam's chin until it settles into the hollow of his throat, which makes Sam jerk. Labored breaths are filling the air around Dean's head, urging him to shift lower, to use his movement and pull the amulet in a languid path down Sam's sternum before letting it graze his skin in a circle. Goosebumps are riddling Sam's body, and if the small hitches leaving his little brother are anything to go by, this is working exactly how Dean wants it to.

He can hear Sam tugging against his restraint, the leather of the belt rubbing against the wood of the bed as he twists his arms in an attempt to touch Dean. The thrill of pleasure that heats Dean's bones at the thought of seeing chafed red lines on Sam's wrists rocks him forwards with a low gasp before he gathers himself again, carefully bowing his body away so no part of him is touching Sam besides the amulet. Each noise his brother makes is an encouragement, so Dean lets the brass head and horns trail over tense muscles with nearly painful slowness, back and forth, down and around, in slow figure eights all over Sam's chest, up his arms, anywhere he can reach. By the end, Sam is gasping and arching his back in such a steep bridge that Dean has to sit back on his heels to prevent their chests from touching.

"Dean, please, can't take it anymore, you gotta–" Sam groans and writhes on the bed, the sheets bunching under his legs and shoulders from how much he's moving, the human definition of temptation.

Dean realizes that he can't either, that he needs to see Sam unravel beneath him like the dream that has haunted him for years, so he lurches forward, tilts Sam's face into his to seal their mouths together. Breaking away leaves him panting, his lungs so hungry to climb out of his ribcage and into Sam's that it hurts. Dean runs his hand over his brother's lips, mesmerized by how swollen and used they look just from the kisses both of them can't seem to get enough of.

"Gotta what, Sammy?" Dean whispers, watching as his first and middle finger slip in the corner of Sam's mouth, the velvety wet heat of his brother's tongue scalding the pads of Dean's fingertips. Sam can't do anything except make a noise that verges on a keen before sucking Dean's fingers down to his second knuckle. That sends a flood of needles prickling through Dean's abdomen and all semblance of control that he thought he had is gone the moment that his knees give out so he can grind down into Sam's crotch. Sam bucks into it immediately, straining to find any inch of Dean that he can reach, a bundle of trembling muscles and flushed skin glistening with the faintest sheen of sweat.

"It's a goddamn sin, Sammy, looking like this," Dean doesn't know where the words are coming from but they're leaking from him like the sight of Sam's hips working up into the air is his own form of truth serum, an indescribable amount of praises churning inside his chest like a hurricane, hot and twisting and crashing together so fast that he can't get them all out at once but tries to anyway. "Wish you could see yourself, Christ, so fucking hot, Sam, the shit you make me wanna do, gonna be the death of me, I swear."

Sam nods through it all, still suckling at Dean's fingers, spreading them into a V in his mouth with a push of his tongue before running over the webbing between them both, something that makes Dean have to pull his hand free or else he's gonna blow. Sam protests at the loss, his glazed stare moving to find Dean's and beg for something in the slivered curve of his irises.

"What do you want, baby boy?" Dean says, voice half broken and wrecked, before his eyes widen at the pet name he didn't mean to say. But Sam does the thing again, where his entire body arches up in such a way that it leaves Dean's mouth watering, and Dean is suddenly grateful for the slip up because it's exposed another side of Sam he's never seen, the brushing of a raw, secret nerve.

"Again," Sam whimpers, throwing his head back to expose untouched skin. "God, Dean, say it again."

All the air in Dean's chest disappears like it was sucked away by a vacuum and he's suddenly draped over Sam, face buried in the joining place between his jaw and his ear. He can feel the amulet imprinting itself into them with how hard their chests are pressing together, wonders if it'll leave a bruise on them both, prays to God it does.

"That gonna make you come, Sammy? If I say it again, are you gonna come from just the sound of my voice?" Dean nips at Sam's earlobe, the soft skin giving way under his teeth as Sam shakes beneath him, the best thing Dean's ever felt in his fucking life. Sam's response is a short series of whines that increase in pitch each time, and given how hard his hips are digging up into Dean's, he's right at the brink.

Dean reaches up his right arm, fingers dumb and slow from how inexplicably hard he is, but they still manage to find Sam's restrained hands and interlock with them tightly while he bends his waist away and moves his left hand down to hover just above the tented material of his brother's briefs.

"Do it," Dean breathes, skimming his mouth up Sam's jawline until their mouths are brushing, their amulet settling low in the hollow of Sam's throat. "Come for me, baby boy."

No sooner than the words have left his mouth, Sam is gasping, thighs clamping on Dean's hips as his entire body rolls up with the strength of his release. Dean swallows his brother's hitching breaths with a kiss and grinds the heel of his palm down into Sam, which strokes another round of shudders that soon leave Sam limp and twitching. All it takes is Dean pulling back to see two wet streaks curving down Sam's cheeks from the corner of his eyes for Dean's body to explode with fireworks that rock him forward with a choked shout into the best orgasm he's ever had in his life. Sam's hands squeeze his fingers in time with the jerks of his body and Dean thinks he may be saying something too, but the rushing in his ears is too loud and the only thing he is capable of thinking about is the fact that he made his brother come so hard that he cried.

When Dean manages to regain proper brain function, he finds himself plastered to Sam's trembling body. He has to try a few times to prop up onto his forearms, he can't feel most of his limbs still, but eventually he gets it and is able to look down into Sam's eyes. If he was standing, he would have been rocked back on his heels by the pure swirling emotion in Sam's eyes. It hits Dean like a bullet to the shoulder, which he knows his fair share about, hot and biting and screaming its way into every corner of Dean's being. Sam's eyes are wet again and he's breathing hard from his mouth, his eyelashes sticking together in long triangles that stand out against the fairness of his skin. Dean is suddenly hit with the realization that he didn't even think about the possibility that maybe he had hurt Sam, not made it good for him. He swears under his breath, panic eating into his heart as he pushes himself up to undo the belt holding Sam's hands captive.

"Sam. Sam, I'm sorry, did I hurt you? Fuck, I can't believe I ever–I'm a goddamn idiot, fuck." Dean's babbling, fingers gently cupping the wrists that have wide red bands circling them, a reminder of the line Dean had crossed in a hazy, vulnerable moment.

"Dean, stop," Sam croaks, turning his hands so he can still Dean's movements, brows furrowing a little. "Dean. I'm fine. More than fine. You didn't hurt me, I promise."

The fear that has been skittering into the crevices of his bones stutters to a halt, Dean forcing himself to look away from the chafed skin and up to meet Sam's gaze, so bright and yielding and purely Sam.

"You sure?" He whispers, thumbs automatically rubbing back and forth where they are touching Sam's arms, not sure which of them he's trying to soothe.

"Dean," Sam says his name again firmly, forcing them both to sit up straight before taking the black twine of Dean's necklace between his fingers and running them down to clasp the amulet still warm from the combined heat of their bodies. "What you did was the furthest thing from hurting me." He pauses to rub at his eyes with his free hand, his fingertips coming away glistening. "Look, I didn't–" Sam clears his throat and ducks his head, which makes Dean stare. Sam's blushing, his cheeks and neck blooming with pink, and suddenly he's Dean's dorky, seventeen year old brother again, shy and gentle and sweet, the one thing Dean has cocooned and protected his entire life. "I didn't even know you could. Y'know. Cry. From it being that... That amazing."

It's Dean's turn to have a wave of heat creep into his cheeks and an unusual feeling of embarrassment to sink into his stomach. It is only now that he really registers how important it was to him for this to be something special for Sam, for this to be such a visceral experience that he would have to think of Dean from now on every time his toes curled. Dean clears his throat and lowers his head, watching how Sam twists the brass head back and forth, rubs over the face with the pad of his thumb.

"It was, Dean."

Dean looks up.

"Was what?"

"Amazing," Sam says simply, pulling the necklace forward as he tips his face to the side and envelops their mouths into a chaste kiss.

Dean's mind goes blank, wiped clean by how genuine Sam sounded, reassured by the steady hand now clinging to the side of his neck, Sam's fingers playing with the short hairs at the base of his skull. And if Dean pushes them both back down onto the bed and spends the next several hours bringing tears to Sam's eyes three more times, then that's a secret that can remain between them and the space beneath the sheets.

When Dad loads them back into the car the next morning, he proceeds to tell Dean that he looks like the walking dead and to get in the backseat to catch shut eye before he takes over the next driving shift. Sam's forced to sit up front because Dad says so, but he doesn't do it without some smartass remark and a small scowl. Dean stretches out on the worn leather that welcomes his body like a second home, turns on his side so he can watch the rear view mirror for the flicker of slanted hazel eyes he wants to see. The amulet is already in his mouth by the time Sam finally meets his gaze, and it's worth it to see the way the muscles in Sam's neck twitch and how he shifts in his seat without breaking their eye contact.

They aren't allowed to touch. Not in public, not when Dad's around. But they have this, an object, an amulet, their amulet, their barrier and their trigger, the metal manifestation of what they are to each other. They are them. They are all they need. And everything else? They can figure it out along the way.