Sam listens to the shower running in the hotel bathroom. Orange blossoms of pale sun drape across his closed eyes like a warm cloth administered to stave off an autumn chill. He doesn’t want to open his eyes, can’t, won’t open them and let the stark beauty of last night shift into the grinding reality of day. Dean will torture himself for the comfort they found together. Sam doesn’t understand much these days, but he does know that self-loathing is as much a part of Dean as his crooked smile and his fevered devotion to their broken family.
“Please. I know we’re…Just please, I’m begging you, if you are there, don’t take this from us.” Sam prays, all the while wondering what God would extend grace to such a monstrous freak.
‘God’s probably laughing his ass off.’ Sam thinks as he replays all those drunken months. His breath catches as he recalls the loneliness that led him to bury himself in Ruby, to crave her body, her blood, even her company.
Sam passed into a strange country as he traveled the borders of Dean’s skin.
Is this finally happening? He wonders. The guilt at his own desire that drove him from his family at 17, his grief when Dean was gone, the devastation so much more profound than when he lost Jess, lost Dad, makes sense to him now. The fact that Dean willingly traded his soul for Sam’s life fueled Sam’s self-consuming sorrow. It was only a part of the picture, the whole of which he refused to acknowledge before last night. Sam finally sees that somewhere along the years, over miles of empty highway, he fell in love. He found a part of himself in Dean that he didn’t know was missing.
The purity and strength of it pull at his gut and he knows he won’t survive losing Dean again. He does not want to, and if that makes him selfish, so-be-it. He will slice his wrists the minute the growl of the Impala fades away into silence. He wonders where Dean will go, how long it will take for news of his death to find him, and how soon after Dean will follow.
Sam lets all the images from the night before come unhindered. He will live his last moments in this peace, before the shower cuts off and Dean enters the room a flurry of anger and hurt, itching to be a million miles away.
His stomach summersaults at the memory of licking the tears from Dean’s face and the primal thirst that scorched his throat as he ran his tongue across Dean’s rough cheek. Sam drapes his arm across his eyes as rivulets of tears sluice down his temples and onto the rough white cotton of the hotel pillow. Sam weeps, remembering the way that he felt when Dean slid his hands between his legs and caressed him with such tenderness and trepidation, as if Dean feared that his insurmountable need would shatter Sam to pieces. Sam swallows a sob and makes himself relive the moment when they came together, shivering, mouth’s clasped as if they would drown in the darkness without each other’s breath.
Dean is prepared for a fight. Sam is going to want to talk all this to death. Fucking your brother is about as far from normal as Sam can get and Sammy, despite it all, still loves his normalcy. But Dean has worked this all out in the four hours since Sam fell asleep in his arms. This is straight-up, son-of-a-bitch love. Love he has never experienced. Love that makes what he felt for Cassie look like a goddamn school-boy crush.
So they were born brothers, so what. They have both died. They have both come back. Those sacrifices should buy them something. Haven’t we earned a fucking break. He thinks. His skin burns with the memory of Sam’s lips. They were familiar, honest. When they kissed last night it was unlike anything he had ever felt. Dean knew as they twined together that he would never, ever make love to another human being aside from Sam for the rest of his life. He had never considered being with a man before, in fact he would have beaten anyone’s ass at the mere suggestion. That was before hell, before he understood the deep, dark the rabbit hole that constituted his soul, before his bones rattled like old men’s teeth when he thought for more than a few seconds about Alastair and the rack.
He damn near cried when he realized that after months of dreading every twinge of emotion, he felt something that didn’t make him want to fade into nothing. Sam is his heart, he is going to take that and run and the rest of the world can go pound salt. Let Lilith and that giant douche of an angel Urielle fight out who gets to be king of this steaming pile of rock and pain. He has been to hell, he knows what it’s like to be torn apart, pieced back together, and torn apart again and again. Dean is dead tired and done with all of them.
Except for Sam, the man who he turned to in the night and who answered that need without reserve. Sam embraced Dean as he was, without question or judgment. Sam, who despite Dean’s secrecy, anger, and silence had not deserted him, but had finally reached through a door in Dean’s tattered, broken soul and drawn him home.
Dean sucks in a breath as he prepares to explain to Sam how he is going to make this all okay. He is not interested in some chick-flick moment of torn emotions. Sammy can reason this to pieces when they get on the road. Dean thinks he can stomach the “incest, what the fuck, Dean, this is insane” conversation with a ribbon of blacktop stretched out before him, everything always makes more sense in the Impala anyway.
The word “incest” pulls him up short and for a flicker of a moment within a moment he wonders if his own self-hatred is poisoning the last vestige of goodness left in his life. Dean shakes his head against the doubt, if it was not supposed to be like this then why did he feel alive again? No, to Dean this is as simple as: I love you. You love me. Fuck the rest of the world. Let’s go get breakfast. He just needs to help Sammy understand that
He opens the bathroom door and the words of reassurance die in his throat. Sam is weeping, not crying, weeping. That posture, flat on his back, arm thrown over his eyes is so akin to the way Sam would grieve when he was little that Dean feels a dizzy sense of deja-vu. His mood of jubilant defiance evaporates in a gust of regret.
Sam feels a calloused hand splayed on his bare chest. Dean’s concern is palpable, it is something Sam has only heard from his petulant and courageous older brother when Dean was afraid Sam was hurt, or when their Dad was ready to blow a gasket and Dean wanted to get Sam out of John’s way.
“Oh God, Sammy.” Dean’s voice trembles and Sam’s eyes snap open because the anger he expected is absent. All he hears is an echo of his own longing. All he sees is a mirror image of his own desire.
“I was bargaining with God while you were in the shower.”
“Sam, if you need me to leave.”
Sam sits up and cups Dean’s face in his hands, then leans forward, expecting Dean to bolt to the other side of the room. The clean smell of hotel soap and shampoo rise off of Dean’s skin, still damp and warm from the misting shower.
“I was bargaining with God, because I won’t survive losing you again.”
Dean feels his heart start to flutter and thinks he may pass out if he does not remember to breathe. He’s spent the better part of the morning unraveling the snarl of emotions in his chest. He expected Sam to be so concerned with justifying or denying whatever this was growing between them. Dean did not expect that Sam would want it as much as he did. The things he will have to admit to Sam about the rack, Alastair, and hell are terrifying. Sam needs to know what is inside him, because he needs to protect him, that has not changed. Sam has a right to know, he has given himself to Dean, no questions asked, it is only right for Dean to reveal the depth of his failure. Dean will have to trust, for the first time in his life, that another person will be able to see past the horror he has lived with inside his own body, his own mind.
Sam gazes into his lover’s eyes. He memorizes Dean’s face in this new light, the smattering of freckles brushed across the bridge of Dean’s nose and those flecked pools of Baltic amber rimmed with red from lack of sleep.
“I’m tired Sammy.” Dean leans his forehead against Sam’s.
“I want something…different…for us.”
“So do I.”
Sam leans back into the pillows, pulling Dean with him and they coil together watching day turn the corner to dusk. Neither speaks of tomorrow, neither concerned with anything other than their lover’s beating heart.