He's watching this kind of awful (but also sort of fascinating and embarrassingly captivating) show on basic cable, legitimately installed and paid for with his own money, when the idea first occurs to him. Dean has been gone for seven months now, and Sam's settled deeply enough into real life to sympathize with the people on the screen: the sobbing mother, the stoic dad, the angry, desperate wife who alternately threatens to leave and pleads for her husband to come home. Sam watches the story unfold, sipping his beer, and thinks about his brother in the last months he saw him, the rapidly collapsing orbit of his terrible world.
Strike: the crying mother. Strike: the stalwart dad. Strike: the loving wife and doting kids.
Sam pictures himself alone on a faded, understuffed grey sofa, a letter clutched in his hands, begging his brother to put the bottle down. Promising Dean to take things one day at a time, as if either of them had ever taken it for granted that they'd make it to tomorrow. He imagines the intervention specialist telling Dean that if he keeps going on like this, one day it's gonna kill him, and he changes the channel and pretends the sound that escapes him is a laugh.
Two hours after Dean returns from Purgatory, Sam leaves the bathroom and finds his brother halfway down a glass of Johnny Walker. And not the good label.
He thinks about the show he saw all those months ago, as Dean's mouth slips slick against the rim of the cup, when he was relearning the idea of forever on his own. He thinks about taking the glass from Dean's hands and telling him how much he's missed him, how he can't lose him again to this. Only he can't say the words, because he never really got Dean back. He doesn't know when it happened—if it was his trip to Hell, or Dean's, or way the back when he left for Stanford—but it's a been a long time since his brother was really here with him.
He watches Dean drink and hates it as much as always, and only now, with the words of some woman from a stupid TV show ringing in his head does he understand why: you care about this more than me.
Sam Winchester has been guilty of jealousy many times in his life. He covets; he won't deny it. He's fought his father, and parades of beautiful women, and a goddamn angel of the lord for his brother's attention and affection, and he's won every time. But this—this stupid thing, this cheap bottle of whiskey—this has him beat. This is something Dean wants more, needs more than Sam, something he tells Sam "no" to keep. This scene, Dean drinking himself to peace in front of a flickering television set, this is the unmoving center of Dean's sanity.
And this is Sam, an irresistible force.
It happens, quite suddenly, two nights later. They're lounging in Sam's tiny studio apartment, pretending to watch a football game, although neither of them has mocked the officiating for at least ten minutes. Dean stretches and tries to make it look casual, the way his flexing fingertips end up right next to the bottle, and Sam—
Sam maybe goes a little crazy.
Dean certainly seems to think so from where he's staring up at Sam, pinned to the couch beneath Sam's bulk. "Sam, what the fuck" he squawks, going for pissed and coming pretty close. Not that Sam much cares.
"You're not going to drink yourself into a coma tonight," Sam tells him flatly.
"You know a coma is a fucking luxury in Purgatory?" Dean snarls, still fighting to free himself from under Sam's weight. "If you can find a place that will stop burning or shaking or trying to shred you apart long enough to pass out, you're fucking lucky. Oh, and also fuck you."
"If that's what will make you stop," Sam answers in the most even voice he can, trying not to show the rush of hot-cold desperation flowing just below the surface.
Dean goes still beneath him, sudden and complete as an animal that's spotted a predator it can't outrun. He doesn't move for so long that Sam's almost afraid he's stopped breathing.
"That's really not fucking funny," Dean manages eventually, voice rough as ground glass. Every part of his body is tense and hard.
"It wasn't meant to be." Sam pulls back far enough to meet Dean's eyes, not far enough to let him free. "I can't do this, Dean. I let you do it after Cas, and after Bobby, because I was fucked up and you were fucked up, and I knew you needed something. But I shouldn't have. You can't do this, you can't do it to me. I need you here."
Sam swallows, uncomfortable with the hot intensity of Dean's gaze on him, the roll and pitch of all those things in the air he hadn't meant to say. "It's time to make a choice about what you want. About what you really need, because you can't have both."
Dean stares at him, silent and dark and almost furious, and just at the moment his hands close on Sam's shoulders, Sam's not sure if he's about to be kissed or punched. Dean's throat jumps, eyes fluttering closed, his muscles shifting and bunching under Sam's arms as he lifts up and catches Sam's mouth in a hard, demanding kiss.
He reels, slammed sideways by the crush of Dean's lips against his. Dean's mumbling something as he licks and bites at Sam's mouth, something no doubt insulting, but Sam can't understand it, can't get his mind to slow down and focus, too overwhelmed by the reality of his brother here, in his arms, how completely right it feels.
"Sh, quiet down, I got you," Dean tells him, deceptively gentle for the way he's tearing at Sam's shirt, and Sam realizes he's been gasping Dean's name. He shuts himself up against Dean's neck, mouth busy on the curve of his collarbone, wondering where this thing fell off the rails, how he lost control, and then really not caring at all a moment later when Dean gets tired of wrestling with his shirt and instead just sticks a hand right down Sam's jeans.
"Jesus!" Sam startles, bucking in surprise and bringing a groan from Dean's throat that sounds like it was pulled out at gunpoint. Dean's hips jerk against his, sweet friction burn of counterpoint, and then they're rutting in earnest like teenagers in a dark corner at the school dance, trying to get off before they get caught.
"Wait, wait," Sam gasps, struggling back, trying to recapture his control. He was making a point here, he's almost certain, but it's hard to concentrate when Dean's working the buttons of his jeans with his free hand, dark promise shining his eyes, and god, Sam missed that, the way Dean's face is made for leers and arching brows, the purse of his mouth obscene. "Dean, wait," he groans again weakly. "You didn't… oh, unh… you didn't promise me."
"You gonna put out every time I can't sleep, Sammy?" Dean asks archly, two parts lewd and one part sneering taunt. "Gonna let me fuck you every time I get itchy, every time I need a little somethin' to calm me down?"
"Nghf," Sam chokes out elegantly, writhing against the hot palm Dean wraps around his cock. "Oh, shit yeah."
"You gonna stay?" Dean breathes, almost a whisper across Sam's chin. He's got his forehead pressed to Sam's cheek, head tilted down, watching his hand move, dry and almost too tight. "No matter what, Sam, you gotta make me a promise too."
"Yes," Sam hisses out, and he means yes, whatever you want to hear and oh yes, that feels good, but he also means forever, whatever you want, Dean, yes, always yes. "Dean—"
"Yeah," Dean grunts, heaving both of them up with a strength that shatters whatever's left of Sam's rational mind and resettling them on the floor, his body hovering above Sam, warm and solid and real. Here with Sam, for Sam.
They struggle out of their clothes, tugging and shifting until they're skin to skin in one long line. Sam can't stop lifting his hips against Dean's, backing scraping the floor as he pushes their cocks together until he's sure he's got rug burn, and even that sting is somehow pleasure with Dean wrapped up in his arms. Dean who's losing a little control now, who looks so good writhing above Sam, clean and sharp and alive, completely caught in this moment.
Sam pushes him back, despite Dean's groan of protest, rolling Dean to his back and taking in the gorgeous sprawl of Dean's pale body as he crawls between his thighs. He skips his mouth down Dean's chest, glancing over scars, too impatient to linger anywhere, blazing a path to Dean's cock where it presses up wet and red. The first swipe of his tongue over the head has Dean pushing up with a shocked groan, chasing the heat of his mouth.
"Jesus, Sam." Dean's hand comes up, curls tentatively in Sam's hair, softer than Sam expects, fingertips pressing in and rubbing just right against his scalp. "You, fuck, you ever done this before?"
"Nope," Sam admits, tonguing experimentally around the head. "You want me to stop?"
"Hell no," Dean tells him, fingers digging in a little more as he starts to rock up into Sam's mouth. "You made me sit through that shitty intervention; you owe me a blowjob, no matter how lame."
"Shut up, it wasn't shitty," Sam snipes back, feeling a little defensive. "Unorthodox, maybe, but I know my audience."
"This is way better than weekly meetings with crappy coffee," Dean agrees, forcing the words out past quick, shallow breaths. "I'm just you—you didn't, unh—"
And then finally, finally!, he shuts up as Sam's hand curls around his cock, stroking him off as he mouths sloppily at the crown until Dean stomach tightens and his thighs tremble and he pulses thick and wet all over Sam's mouth and cheeks.
He's still staring dazedly at the ceiling when Sam finishes wiping his face off and leans over to look at him. "How was that?" he asks, kind of uncertain now that the heat of the moment has cooled a bit.
Dean frowns. Sam's heart skips and thuds painfully for a moment, the whole of the last year alone, without Dean, flashing lightning-quick through his mind. For just a second, he wonders if it's going to happen again, if this is the moment he loses Dean for good.
Then Dean's saying with over-developed concern, "I think I just traded one vice for another," the smile in his eyes catching up to his mouth as he rolls Sam under him and pulls him close for a kiss, and Sam feels himself slot back into his proper place—here, at the center of Dean's world.