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Twenty Degrees of Solitude

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When asked how he was going to spend his vacation, elk hunting was the last thing he would have answered. Yet here he was, trekking up the side of a mountain in South Dakota, which was covered in snow mid-way up his shins.

Dean Campbell shifted the strap of his rifle further up his shoulder as he trudged through the snow. He reached up to adjust the sunglasses which were preventing him from going snow blind, his eyes on the man ahead of him.

He was in great shape, but this was a vigorous climb, even for him. The cold was enough; the snow only increased the difficulty level.

“You sure there are even elk on this mountain?” he called to the man in front of him, shoving down the scarf which was covering his mouth and nose so he could be heard. The other glanced over his shoulder and shot him a smirk.

“The internet said there was,” Michael Novak answered, “and everyone knows the internet doesn’t lie.”

Dean huffed a laugh, breath blowing out in a white fog in front of him. He shook his head and re-adjusted his rifle as he continued up the Odakota Mountain behind his best friend.

“You know I’m probably not even going to shoot one if we see any?” he quizzed the other man.
“I promise it won’t be Bambi’s mom,” came the laughing response.
Dean scooped up a snowball and threw it at his friend’s head.

They stopped to catch their breath a short while later, standing side-by-side near the edge of a precipice. The view was breath-taking, Dean had to admit. He hung his rifle from a low tree branch nearby and turned his eyes back to the skyline, removing his sunglasses for the moment.

“I like it up here,” he decided, shooting his friend a grin, “It’s peaceful.”

“It’s cold as a witch’s tit,” Michael shot back with a smirk, “Give me beaches any day. So listen, Dean. I need to talk to you about something.”

“Okay,” Dean agreed, glancing at the other man, “Shoot.”

Michael was silent for a moment, fidgeting the rifle he held still from one hand to another. Dean waited, eyes on the landscape in front of him; he knew his friend would speak when he had figured out what he wanted to say. He shifted the pack on his shoulders, adjusting its weight, and flicked his eyes to Michael. The other man was staring out at the skyline, a frown creasing his eyebrows. Finally, the other man sighed and removed his sunglasses to rub at the bridge of his nose.

“I’m in love with Cassie.”

Dean stared at the other man for a moment, before breaking into laughter. Had his best friend really just told him he was in love with Dean’s fiancé? This had to be a joke. Hell, Michael and Cassie fought all the damn time when they were around one another. He laughter died, however, as he realized that Michael wasn’t laughing. The other man was staring at him solemnly, a hint of nervousness etching his features.

Dean blinked and rubbed a hand over his mouth. His eyes shifted back to the distant mountains and he inhaled slowly. “You’re kidding?”

Michael shook his head no, eyes averted. “I just – you know I never lie to you, Dean. I needed to tell you.”

“Okay,” he said finally, glancing out at the landscape again, “Okay. We can deal with this.”

“I’m sorry, Dean,” Michael spoke softly from behind him.

“It’s okay, man. We’ll deal --” Dean turned to face his best friend: he never saw the blow to the side of the head coming.

When he next opened his eyes, his first thought was that his head was killing him. Pain radiated from a spot several inches above his temple; it was bad enough that his vision was blurred when he slowly blinked his eyes open. He was also cold. It took him a second to realize that he was lying on the ground, in the snow.

His next thought was that his best friend had just hit him. Had Michael really hit him?

“Th’ fuck, man,” his speech was slurred slightly in pain and disorientation as he shifted his green gaze to the man standing above him, “Did you jus’ hit me?”

“Dean, I’m sorry,” the other man knelt in front of him, “I love her, God forgive me but I do. And she said the only way we can be together is if you’re out of the picture.”

“What --?” Dean stared in confusion, watching as Michael stood again. His eyes widened slightly as he saw the other raise the butt of the rifle he was carrying, the one he had struck Dean with minutes earlier. “No –“

The second blow nearly knocked him unconscious again. He blacked out for several moments; when he blinked his eyes open, he felt himself being maneuvered, strong hands gripping his arms.

“Mike..” he started. He didn’t get more than the man’s name past his lips: the next thing he knew, he was falling falling falling. The brief thought of he pushed me off the mountain raced through the overwhelming surprise and fear, before he struck his head against a large rock protruding from the cliff’s face and everything went black.

 

xxx

Sam Winchester paused in his trek through the snow to raise his eyes to the skies. There was a gray overcast to them, clouds gathering in the distance, and the temperature had dropped the last few hours. It was going to snow again, and soon.

Sam tucked a strand of stray hair which had slipped loose from his coat’s thick hood back up under it, then continued his walk. He was still a good mile from his cabin, which was nestled high in the Odakota Mountains, but the snowstorm wasn’t so close that he was concerned he wouldn’t make it back before it hit.

The big man paused as he heard suddenly a sound nearby, and glanced around. His eyes shifted over the snow, looking for anything out of place, but found nothing. He had just started forward again when the sound, carried on the wind, reached his ears again. He stopped and shoved back his hood, listening: his eyes shifted to the cliff face that was 30 or 40 yards to his left, which stretched a good 150 feet high. He ran his eyes down the cliff’s side, his gaze resting at the base.

Sam squinted against the bright snow – even with his sunglasses on, the morning sun cast a glare over the acres of white. His brow furrowed as he spotted something dark, lying at the base of the cliff. He tilted his head, studying it, but it remained unmoving. Probably a rock which had fallen off the cliff, then, or a half-buried log. He was about to renew his trek toward his cabin, but paused, eyes shifting back to the cliff.

Something was off. Though he couldn’t see anything, he had the niggling feeling that something was wrong. It had to do with whatever was lying in the snow at the cliff’s base. He shook his head, mentally scolding himself; still, he couldn’t keep from glancing in that direction yet again. He squinted at whatever was lying in the distance, and his brows shot up suddenly. Had he just seen movement?

Sam turned and headed in that direction. Even if he hadn’t, he was curious now and wanted to know what kept drawing his gaze.

He was 20 yards from the thing on the ground, at the cliff’s bottom, when realization hit him like a ton of snow: there was a person lying on the ground. His sharp, hazel eyes could see the shape; even half-buried in the snow, there was no mistaking it. He quickened his pace to an almost-run, moving as fast as he could through the snow, which was deeper here, shaded by the cliff’s face and piled in drifts from the wind.

Sam reached the figure lying on the ground minutes later and found that it was, indeed, a human being. Snow had drifted over the person, half-burying him or her. A backpack which appeared to be filled with supplies laid nearby, one strap broken. Sam moved forward cautiously, thoughts touching on the large knife he had strapped to his thigh. He discarded the thought that he would need it as he surveyed the downed figure. The man - he saw that it was a man as he drew closer – was unmoving. Sam frowned, eyes shifting up the cliff towering over them. He could see a scattering of loose rocks and broken branches near them, and surmised the man had fallen. He was, in all likelihood, dead.

Sam reached the figure and saw the blood covering the downed man’s temple, streaking down from beneath the hood still covering his head. Frozen clumps of blood decorated the snow around his head, which made a slightly eerie picture. Sam was kneeling to search for a pulse when he heard a soft moan escape the downed person’s lips, saw a slight puff of air, fogged from the cold, escape the other’s mouth. He hesitated only a moment, doing a visual survey of the man on the ground; his eyes fell on the man’s left leg, which was bent at a slightly odd angle. Broken, if he had to make an immediate guess.

Sam steeled himself, drawing a steady breath, before leaning forward to run his hands over the unknown man, doing a cursory search for more serious injuries. He didn’t feel anymore breaks, beyond the left leg, but it was difficult to tell with the thick layers the other was wearing. He leaned back, running a gloved hand over his mouth: after a moment, he came to a decision.

He couldn’t leave this stranger out here to die in the cold, from injuries or hypothermia.

Seconds later, he had one arm beneath the man’s back and the other beneath his knees. He stood carefully, lifting the unconscious man, and started back toward the direction from which he had come, walking in his previously made tracks to make movement easier in the snow. He paused long enough to reach down and catch the strap of the man’s pack, which he managed to shift onto his own shoulder without dropping the other, then continued his journey back to his cabin.

“Guess it’s your lucky day,” he muttered to the unconscious man, fog puffing out with the words, “if you don’t die before I get you back to the cabin.”

Walking through shin-deep snow with more than 6’ of human in your arms was no easy task. Still, Sam was both a big man, standing a good 6’4” himself, and he was determined. Even so, it took almost twice the time it normally would to walk the mile back to the cabin, and he could feel the tremors racking the unconscious body in his arms. Upon reaching his place, he maneuvered the man in his arms slightly so he could turn the front door’s knob and shove open the sturdy door with his shoulder.

Inside the cabin, Sam paused. He glanced down at the figure in his arms, contemplating, then moved across the large, open room to the fireplace, where a fire was currently burning. Between it and the wood-burning stove near it, the cabin was warm and cozy. It wouldn’t do much for the unconscious man in his arms, however, if he didn’t get the snow-frozen clothes off of him.

Sam snagged a throw from the back of a nearby armchair and dropped it to the floor, several feet from the screened fireplace, then used a booted foot to straighten it out a bit. He knelt carefully and laid the stranger on the throw, being careful not to let his head bump against the hard wood floor. He stood then and crossed the room, pulling off his thick gloves and undoing his heavy coat as he did. He tossed them onto a wooden chair at the small wood table in the ‘kitchen’ of the cabin, to be put away properly later; the heavy coveralls he was wearing over his jeans went next. He cursed beneath his breath and leaned over to unlace his boots when the coveralls got snagged on them. When the laces were undone, he shoved the entire cold, wet mess off at once, boots and all, and kicked them near the front door.

When he had shed himself of the heavy layers that had protected him from the cold outside – he would have had difficulty providing first aid in those – he quickly moved to a cabinet at the far side of the room. From it he pulled a first aid kit and several thick blankets. He hesitated only a moment before moving to the small closet and jerking it open. From it, he grabbed a t-shirt and a pair of boxers. They would probably be a bit large on the other man, but Sam couldn’t leave him in cold, wet clothing.

Sam deposited his gathered items on the sofa, which sat several feet away, then knelt beside the stranger again. He began undoing the man’s coat, working free the frozen buttons and zipper. It took several minutes, but finally he managed to remove the other’s coat, hood and gloves. The boots took a bit more effort, due to the frozen laces and the fact that he didn’t want to inflict anymore pain on the man’s leg; finally though, he had those and the heavy snow pants off, as well. He tossed them nearby and started on the man’s button down shirts.

It took a little while, but finally Sam had stripped most of the cold, frozen clothing off the stranger. He hesitated at the man’s jeans, fearful of the possible broken leg; in the end, he found a pair of kitchen scissors and used them to carefully cut the jeans away. He did the same with the wet, cold t-shirt. Once that was finished, he draped a thick blanket over the man, and then set about inspecting him for damage.

The most obvious damage, besides the cold, red skin, was the bruising which crept down from the stranger’s right temple. Careful prodding revealed a bump and a cut on his head, several inches above his temple, and another, along with another gash (which luckily didn’t need stitched), near the back of his head. He cleaned away the blood as gently as he could, pausing as the unconscious man shifted, a frown creasing his brow, before going still again.

Sam estimated, from the frozen state of the other’s clothing and the fact that the cuts were no longer bleeding, the man had been out in the cold, possibly unconscious, for at least two days.

More gentle inspection revealed several more cuts on the man’s side and back, along with a multitude of bruising. Thankfully, there was no sign of frostbite. He cleaned and bandaged what needed bandaged, before turning his focus to the other’s leg. His initial guess had been correct: it was broken. It appeared to be a clean break, at least.

The man was shivering violently by the time he had finished his first aid, and Sam frowned. He would take care of his leg once he had the other warmed up a bit. He lifted the other carefully and carried his shivering form across the room, to the large bed located on the far side. He laid him gently on it and went back to the couch to grab the t-shirt he had pulled out of his closet earlier. He gently eased it onto the man, which was an awkward process, as he wasn’t used to dressing other people. He glanced at the boxers the other had been wearing beneath his jeans; thankfully, they had dried while the man had been lying in front of the fireplace. Sam tugged the blankets up from the foot of the bed, where he had shoved them this morning, and pulled them up over the man, covering all but his broken leg. He retrieved the thick blankets he had tossed on the sofa and covered the other with those, also.

Dealing with the broken shin turned out to be easier than he had anticipated. He found several sturdy, narrow pieces of smooth wood in his back storeroom, and retrieved some ace bandages from a cabinet beneath the kitchen sink. He hesitated when he returned to the bed, debating: after a moment, he sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

“This might hurt,” he breathed as he placed large hands on the man’s leg. He braced himself, drew in a steady breath, and shifted the leg slightly to straighten it out, trying to reset the bone. The stranger groaned in apparent pain, a shudder running through his body, but didn’t wake. That in itself was a little concerning, but Sam figured it was also probably a blessing for the poor bastard. He splinted the leg, securing the bandages so they were tight but not so tight (hopefully) as to cause discomfort or loss of circulation. He wrapped a second length of bandage around the leg to further stabilize it. Once that was done, he drew the blankets over the man, then moved across the room to clean up his mess and hang up the coats and half-frozen clothing to dry.

Once the cabin was in order again, Sam tossed a few chunks of wood on the fire. He put a sturdy metal pot of water on the stove to warm it for coffee – he had a coffee maker but liked fixing it this way, also – then crossed to check on his patient.

The stranger in his bed was shivering less, he noticed as he adjusted the blankets. Sam placed the back of his knuckles lightly against the man’s cheek: his skin was no longer ice cold to the touch, and the color was returning to normal.

Still, maybe he should pack the other up and haul him to Custer, the nearest town, once the other’s clothes were dry. There was a hospital there, and people better equipped to deal with mysterious strangers (this one hadn’t had any ID on his; Sam had checked his clothing after administering first-aid) whom had fallen down mountainsides. How he was going to trek through the snow, to his jeep, with the stranger in his arms, was another problem. The small, sturdy shed which housed his jeep, protecting it from the elements, was located at the head of the only road in or out of this area, and it was a three mile walk through the surrounding forest. He had an ATV out in the shed next to his house, but the ignition fuse had blown several days ago, so that was out..

He started slightly as the man moaned softly, turning his head into Sam’s touch. The other muttered something incoherent almost beneath his breath – Sam caught only the word ‘cold’ – before going still again. He frowned and tucked the blankets up around the other’s chin to keep him warm. When that was done, he grabbed a low, sturdy wooden stool that was nearby and placed it next to the bed. He seated himself on it and took a good look at his patient.

In spite of the harsh-looking bruises along the stranger’s temple and jaw, he was a good-looking man. Good-looking might be a bit of an understatement, his brain helpfully supplied (he promptly told it to shut up). Strong jawline, dark hair, full lips. Freckles sprinkled over his cheeks and nose. He was, as Sam had observed while providing first-aid, well-toned.

Sam forced himself away from that train of thought as his eyes shifted to the cabin’s window. Snow was pouring down outside the thick pane of glass: the snowstorm had reached them. Shit. It looked as if he wasn’t taking his patient anywhere for a while. The snow was coming down hard, thick enough to obscure any view of the trees surrounding the cabin’s clearing.

Sam was cleaning up from dinner that evening, when a noise from the other side of the room caught his attention. He glanced toward the bed where his patient was lying, head tilted. He ran a cup of water from the tap and, picking up his own mug of coffee from the small counter, crossed the room.

Sam placed his coffee mug on the small table next to the bed before seating himself on the low, wooden stool. He hesitated a moment, eyes on the stranger’s face; he started, sloshing the water in the cup he was holding still, as the other man shifted his head, brow furrowing. Sam shook his head at himself before reaching out and slipping his free hand beneath the man’s head.

“C’mon, buddy,” he murmured, gently raising the other’s head a bit, “Let’s see if we can get some water in you. And hope you didn’t sustain a spinal injury with that fall, and I’m not making it worse here. Shit.” He shook his head again, before leaning forward and placing the rim of the cup against the other’s lips. He tipped the cup up slightly, hoping he wasn’t about to spill it all over his patient. To his relief, the other started drinking the water once it hit his lips, probably on instinct. His eyes shifted beneath bruised eyelids, impossibly long lashes fluttering and, for a moment, Sam thought he was going to wake. He went still again, however, shifting his face away from the cup Sam was holding. The bigger man had to right it quickly before the remaining water poured down the stranger’s chin. He eased the other’s head back down on the pillow, then sat the water aside and reached for his own coffee.

His eyes fell on his own hands as he found them shaking slightly.

A frown creased Sam’s own brow and he stood abruptly, to cross the room and drop down on the sofa near the fireplace, all without spilling his coffee.

Sam had been living on Odakota Mountain for six years now. He made the occasional trips to the closest town – Custer – every few months for supplies and to pick up and send out mail, and to drop in and visit his uncle. For the most part, however, he spent most of his time here. Only two other people had ever been inside this cabin, and they had helped him build it and bring in what little furnishings he hadn’t built on his own, like his generator and fridge and stove: his Uncle Bobby and his friend, Garth.

His new guest was the third person, other than himself, to ever set foot inside Sam’s living space. The man had been carried in more than ‘set foot in’, true; still, it made Sam uneasy. He had chosen this location for several reasons, and one of them was because of the lack of opportunity for unexpected guests.

With a soft sigh, he leaned forward and picked up the small notebook and ink pen lying on the hand-hewn coffee table. He flipped it open to the page titled “Supplies”, and scribbled down ‘ace bandages’, ‘seeds’, ‘ATV fuses’ and ‘coffee, lots of coffee’. He tossed the notebook and pen back on the coffee table and laid his head back against the sofa’s cushion.

Sam woke with a start sometime later, breathing uneven and head slightly fuzzy. He ran a hand over his face, trying to chase away the last of the dream which had woke him, before shoving himself up and off the couch. He stretched his tall frame, popping the kinks out of his back, and moved to the fireplace. The clock on the mantle told him it was early evening, as did his growling stomach. The fire had died down to embers, but the wood-burning stove was still going strong.

Sam moved the screen that kept embers from leaping out of the fireplace and laid in another log. He used the iron poker to stir up the embers a bit before replacing the screen, then stood and stretched once more. His eyes shifted to the window in the ‘living room’ area of the cabin; the snow was still pouring down outside.

The big man crossed the room to check on his patient. He paused beside the bed, eyes taking in the stranger’s features. The bruise near his temple was black and purple, and he winced in sympathy as he eyed it. He hesitated a moment before leaning in to press the back of his hand against the man’s forehead. The other felt warm to the touch, but not feverish warm. He had just pulled his hand away when the sleeping (or unconscious still, he wasn’t quite certain) man stirred. The stranger frowned suddenly in his sleep, muttered something incoherent. Sam caught the words ‘don’t’ and what sounded like ‘Mike’ before the other fell silent again. He raised a brow as his patient suddenly huffed out a breath, a pout touching his lips. A pout. He shook his head, chuckling softly at the sight, and moved to get a glass of fresh water.

The rest of that evening and the following day and night were spent in much the same manner. Sam busied himself around the cabin, preparing a stew which would last several days and was more than enough to feed two. He coaxed water down the as-of-yet-nameless man’s throat (he was calling him Patient X in his head at his point) when he could, and checking him every couple of hours for fever or any other unexpected medical issues. In between, he read from one of the books on his large bookshelf or watched pre-recorded DVDs. He had satellite – the small dish was bolted on the backside of the cabin – but storms tended to knock out the signal, and this storm was no exception.

 

On the third morning after finding a strange man in the snow and bringing him home, Sam raised his head from his book as he heard a low groan. He laid his book aside and, standing, crossed to the bed. His patient was stirring, pain etching his handsome face: Sam drew back, slightly startled, as the other’s eyes flew open suddenly and he cried, “No!”

“Easy,” he raised his hands as green eyes locked on him, “Take it easy. You took a hard blow to the head.”

“Who the hell are you?” the man asked, voice rough. Those green eyes flicked around the small cabin quickly, before locking on him again, “Where the hell am I? Where’s Michael?” The man shifted as if he meant to push himself out of the bed; he clutched his thigh, a low cry of pain escaping him, as he moved.

“Calm down,” Sam pleaded, “Your leg is broken, you don’t want to move around too much right now. Listen, I know you’re confused, but I found you out in the snow with a broken leg and a bleeding head.”

His patient stared at him for a long moment in silence, panting slightly in pain; Sam used it as an opportunity to ask, “There was someone else with you? I didn’t find anyone else or see any tracks..”

“No,” the man answered abruptly, brow furrowed and eyes dropping to the thick blanket covering him for a moment, “No. I’m alone.” He raised his green gaze again, “I guess I should be thanking you. Sorry I freaked out there.”

“It’s okay,” Sam shot the other what he hoped was a reassuring smile, “It’s – you woke up in a strange place, with some strange guy staring at you. Understandable. Name’s Sam. Sam Winchester.”

“Dean Campbell,” the other offered his own name after several seconds, “You live here?”

“Yeah,” Sam took a seat on the sturdy, wooden foot-stool by the bed, “This is my place.”

“Ugh. Hurt all over,” the man, Dean, muttered, closing his eyes for a moment, “My head feels like I’ve been hit by a train.” He opened them again as Sam told him,

“You have some pretty bad bruising, and a couple of bumps on your head. Found you about a mile from here at the bottom of a pretty high precipice. If I had to guess, you’d been there for a day or two. You fell? You’re lucky you didn’t kill yourself.”

“Yeah,” Sam didn’t miss the odd look on Dean’s face before the other looked away and muttered, “I fell.” Green eyes shifted to him again, and the man asked, “How bad is my leg? I need to get out of here, get back home.”

“It’s –“ Sam hesitated. He wasn’t a doctor, but he was familiar enough with survival tactics and first-aid to know a break when he saw – and felt - one, “It’s a clean break, I think, but it’s going to take a while to heal.”

“Don’t suppose you have a pair of crutches lying around?” Dean shifted in the bed, wincing in pain as he did, “Not that I’m not grateful for the rescue, believe me I am. Just – I need to get back home.”

Sam’s hazel gaze met the other’s green one, and he bit his bottom lip.

“What?” Dean asked, studying his face.

He nodded toward the window, and the man’s eyes shifted to it. Snow was pouring outside – day three of this blizzard – and it was so thick that the trees in which the cabin was nestled couldn’t be seen. That green gaze returned to him as he explained,

“It’s a three mile hike to the nearest trail wide enough for a car, and another six to the bottom of the mountain. Closest town once you reach the bottom is –“

“Twenty miles,” Dean finished, frown etching his features.

Sam nodded, “I have an ATV with snow tracks in my shed, but the ignition fuse is blown.” Sam frowned – that had been unexpected, and he was still annoyed with himself that he didn’t have a replacement for it. Rigging it with copper wire hadn’t worked, either. “Even if we made it the three miles to my jeep - and we wouldn’t before dark, with your leg and that blizzard - there’s no way we’re getting off the mountain tonight. Not in that.” He nodded toward the window again.

Dean muttered a low curse and laid back on the pillow again. “My cell phone was in my pack,” he muttered, “but no service up here, I’m guessing.”

Sam nodded in agreement. “Found your pack, it’s in the corner over there. But no, no service up here. Have satellite internet but it’s out right now because of the storm.”

“Two days?”

“What?” Sam met the other’s gaze, head tilted in bewilderment.

“You said I was probably out there for a day or two.”

He nodded and supplied, “If I had to estimate, yeah. And you’ve been here for two days.” He watched as the other man shoved the blankets off him to inspect his leg. A flush touched Dean’s cheeks as he realized he was wearing only his boxers and a t-shirt.

“Sorry about the jeans,” Sam said quietly, rubbing a hand through his hair, “Had to cut them off you. To fix up your leg.”

The other man nodded; Dean’s brow raised as he saw the splint and bandages stabilizing his leg. “Nice work,” the man offered.

Sam gave him a hesitant smile at the praise, “Thanks. Knowing how comes in handy when you live out on your own like this.”

Dean was silent for several moments. He cleared his throat and glanced back at Sam, then started, “So – uh – I really need to take a piss.” He shot the big man a sheepish smile and shrugged, “Out for four days and all.”

“Yeah, of course,” Sam pushed himself to his feet. “Do you think you can stand long enough? Or – should I get a bucket or - ?”

“I’ll stand,” Dean muttered, colour touching his cheeks. He shoved the blankets off himself, shivering visibly as their warmth was shoved aside. He hesitated a moment before trying to scoot to the edge of the bed.

Green eyes raised to meet his gaze as Sam said gently, “You’re not going to be able to walk yourself. I have crutches, but they’re out in the shed. Right now, though, I’ll help you.”

“Um..” Dean frowned momentarily, then shot him a slight smile, “Yeah, okay.”

He moved forward and slipped an arm beneath the other man’s, wrapping it around his waist. Dean slipped his arm around his shoulders and allowed Sam to help him to his feet. The shorter man winced, muttering a pained curse, as he automatically put weight on his left leg.

“Easy,” Sam shifted his arm slightly lower, bearing more of the man’s weight. With his support, Dean managed to hobble the short distance to the bathroom.

“Can you – “ Sam started, watching as Dean leaned placed his hands against the bathroom wall, putting his weight on them. The other man had a light sheen of sweat covering his face and neck, and he was paler than he had been, but he nodded his head. “I know this isn’t ideal, Dean, and probably a little embarrassing, but I’m right here if you need the help.”

“S’okay,” the other muttered determinedly, “I can manage.”

Sam frowned as he studied the other man. Dean looked as if he was about to collapse where he stood, pain etching his features, one hand against the wall to support his weight.

“I’ll be right outside the door,” Sam relented after a moment. He stepped outside the bathroom but left the door open, and turned his back to it to give the other man some decorum of privacy. After several moments he heard the sound of the other relieving himself. When the other was finished, the soft sound of the toilet flushing followed. There was silence then, and Sam was tempted to peer around the door frame, to make certain the other was alright. He waited patiently, however; after a moment, Dean called softly,

“Sam - ?”

He stepped into the room to help the other; he dashed forward and caught him just as Dean started to collapse. Sam slipped an arm around the man’s waist, hauling him gently against his side to support his weight. “Are you alright?” he asked, brows drawn in concern.

“Yeah,” Dean’s voice was slightly breathless with pain as he leaned into him, “Didn’t expect – didn’t expect to be that weak. Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” he helped guide the other out of the bathroom. “I’ve got you.”

Once they were in the outer room, Sam shifted Dean slightly, keeping a firm hold on him. The other man yelped in surprise as he leaned over and picked him up, one arm beneath his knees and the other beneath his back.

“I can – can walk..” Dean started. His face was colored red in embarrassment and the hand behind Sam’s back was clutching at the big man’s t-shirt.

“You can walk when you’ve had some rest,” he responded, carrying the other through the house and back to the bed, “You fell off the side of a mountain, Dean. It’s okay to need a little help right now. Over-exerting yourself isn’t going to help you heal.”

His hazel gaze flicked to the other’s face. Dean was staring at his broad chest, bottom lip caught between his teeth and face flushed in embarrassment. He didn’t offer up anymore protests, however, and said softly, “Thanks,” when Sam laid him on the bed again.

Minutes later, Sam had the other man positioned comfortably and the blankets drawn up over him. Dean watched from beneath his lashes in silence, eyes following his movements. It wasn’t until he had straightened, putting some distance between them, that the other man spoke again.

“You live out here all the time?” Dean’s eyes shifted back to the window and the falling snow which blanketing the world outside the cabin, “All the time, not just for hunting season or something?”

“Yeah,” Sam muttered, “All the time.” He stood and rubbed his hands against the front of his jeans, “I’m going to finish dinner. You’re probably hungry. Don’t move that leg around too much.”

Sam knew people well enough to expect questions; he just wasn’t particularly fond of answering them. And it wasn’t as if he had a great deal of space to escape Dean’s curious looks. There was this large front room, which served as kitchen, living and dining rooms, and bedroom, and two smaller rooms in the back of the cabin: a spare bedroom, which he used as a place to do his writing, and a large room which served as storage space for extra goods, extra generator, firewood, clothing and the like. And, of course, the bathroom. It might be a cabin in the woods, but the hell if Sam was going to trudge a hundred yards in the snow, or in the rain, to use an outhouse; nor was he going to give up showers altogether. No, his energy-efficient generators provided electricity and running, heated water.

He moved to the wood-burning stove and threw in a few more chunks of wood. When that was finished, he crossed to the stove and the thick stew which was simmering. He stirred it and added some chopped celery and more seasoning to it, then opened a cabinet and pulled out a prescription bottle. He retrieved a glass from another cabinet and ran a glass of water from the tap: these, he carried back to the bed in which his patient – Dean – was lying.

“Thanks,” Dean accepted the offered water with a grateful smile and drank from it. The offered pills were eyed with a bit more skepticism. “What are those?” the man asked, eyes shifting to meet his own. Sam met his green gaze, held it long enough to answer, “Hydrocodone. For pain.”

The other accepted them after a moment of contemplation and popped them in his mouth, chasing them with several swallows of water. “Thanks again,” the man told him, eyes on the cabin’s ceiling, “for rescuing me and not leaving me out in the cold to die.”

“What brought you up to my neck of the woods?” Sam asked, placing the water glass on the small table beside the bed and adjusting the blankets over Dean as he noticed the other man shivering, “Hunting?”

“Yeah,” Dean answered, eyes shifting to the window and the snow falling outside it, “Elk hunting.”

“You didn’t have any ID on you,” Sam informed, seating himself next to the bed again, “I checked when I got you back here, in case I had to get you to Custer. That was before the storm hit, though; now we’re not going anyplace.”

Dean stared at him for a long moment – Sam shifted uneasily, wondering if the man thought he was lying. The other shifted his eyes to the ceiling again and muttered, “Had it before I fell off that damn mountain.” His next words were spoken beneath his breath – Sam only caught the words, “-took it with-”. The man looked at him again and asked suddenly, “How long until I can get down the mountain?”

“Depends on the storm,” he answered honestly, “It hit a couple hours after I found you and it’s been snowing pretty hard since then. It –“ he hesitated, then admitted, “-could be a couple days, could be a couple weeks.”

“Weeks?” Dean tried to sit up again; he cursed in pain and fell back on the bed, clutching his thigh, “Fuck.”

“Easy. You’re supposed to keep that leg still, remember? You’re on top of a mountain in a blizzard,” Sam shrugged a shoulder, “I’m sorry.”

“S’okay,” Dean closed his eyes, rubbing a hand over them, “Not your fault. I’m the one who should be apologizing. You rescued me and brought me here, and I sound like I’m ungrateful.”

The other opened his eyes to look at him, and Sam swallowed as that intense green gaze fell on him again, “I really am grateful, Sam. I’m sorry. Just – “

“People at home to worry about you,” he finished.

Dean nodded, eyes closed, and whispered, “Yeah.”

Sam wasn’t good with people under the best circumstances. Oh, he could handle being around them for short periods of time, he was friendly and charming when he had to be, but he found that the longer he was around them, the more uncomfortable he became.

Still, the pain and sadness on Dean’s face tugged at him inside. The man was hurt, had no way of letting the people at home - wherever that was - know he was alright, and stuck in a cabin with a stranger for who-knew-how-long. Sam figured that gave him a bit of leeway in the freaking out department.

“I’ll get you out of here as soon as I can,” he promised softly as he stood.
Dean opened his eyes again to look at him, shot him a slight smile and whispered, “Thanks.”
Sam nodded and moved toward the stove to check on dinner.

When the stew was ready, Sam ladled some into two bowls. He used an oven mitt to grab the cookie sheet off the top of the wood-stove, where he had heated thick slices of buttered French bread. He plated those and grabbed a couple of spoons, then placed it all on a wooden cutting board which would do as a serving tray for the moment.

Sam carried the board/tray over to the bed where Dean was ensconced beneath the pile of blankets. He sat the tray on the wood table beside the bed – Dean’s eyes were on him the entire time – before turning to the laid-up man.

“Hungry?” he asked.

“Starving,” Dean shot him a sheepish grin as his stomach chose that moment to growl loudly, “Smells great.” The man tried to scoot up into a sitting position but cringed in pain, a low curse escaping his lips.

Sam hesitated only a moment before leaning in to help the other shift so that he was sitting up. He placed several pillows behind the man to support him, nodding at Dean’s, “Thanks.” He didn’t miss that the other man’s voice was slightly breathless from pain. Once he was as comfortable as he could be, given his injuries and sore body, Sam handed him a bowl of stew and a spoon. He placed one of the small plates of bread on the mattress, where Dean could reach it, and scooted the table closer so the other could reach the cup of water sitting there.

He seated himself on the wooden stool, several feet from the bed. He figured the injured man could probably feed himself, but remained nearby just in case.

“Damn, this is good,” Dean told him after taking an experimental bite of the stew. The man tucked into his meal, and Sam smiled and shook his head a bit.

“You haven’t eaten in like four days,” he countered, “Tree bark would probably taste good right now.”

“Probably,” Dean relented with a grin that was more enchanting than it had any right to be, given the man’s injuries and obvious pain, “but this is way better than tree bark.”

Sam huffed out a low laugh, shaking his head, and dug into his own stew. The rest of their meal was eaten in mostly silence, but it was a comfortable, easy silence.

By the time Dean had finished his food, the pain pills he had taken earlier were working their magic. The other grunted a soft, “Thanks”, eyes slipping closed already, when Sam helped him lay back down and drew the blankets up over him.

“This your bed?” Dean asked suddenly, opening his eyes. He was having difficulty keeping them open; they slipped closed even as he asked the question. They opened again a moment later and he ran his eyes over the length of his host.
Sam nodded and averted his gaze even as he felt heat rising to his cheeks. His eyes shifted back to Dean as the other asked,
“Where you sleeping if I’m in your bed?”

“Couch,” He nodded toward the couch across the large room, positioned in front of the fireplace, as he started gathering the bowls and plates, “There’s also a spare bedroom in the back. Couch is where I spend most of my nights, though.”

“You can sleep here,” Dean’s eyes slipped closed again, voice a low murmur, “Big bed. Bet you’re warm. Like a teddy bear.”

Sam knew the pain meds had taken hold of the other man, and Dean wasn’t completely coherent. He couldn’t help but steal brief glances at the other as he gathered their dishes, taking in the other’s pale, smooth features, the freckles that dotted his skin. Dean’s eyes opened again suddenly and met his hazel gaze: a slow smirk curved the other’s mouth as their gazes held. Sam swallowed, an unexpected heat pooling low in his stomach at the look the other shot him. He averted his gaze, biting down on his bottom lip, but found himself glancing at the other man again a moment later.

“Wanna be my teddy bear, Sam?” Dean murmured as his eyes slipped closed again.

He felt the flush crawling up his cheeks at the sleepy words and was glad Dean’s eyes were closed. When he chanced another glance at the man before heading for the kitchen, he saw that Dean’s breathing had evened out and the man was asleep.

Sam carried the dishes into the kitchen space to wash them, but his thoughts were focused on his sleeping guest. Typically, he avoided people. He avoided crowds, he avoided long periods of interaction, and he avoided touch. Not like Dean could get around very well on his own at the moment – Sam didn’t really have a choice in touching and interacting with the man. What was a little surprising, however, was that he didn’t really mind touching his new guest.

Temporary insanity, he told himself as he washed and dried the dishes. The last time he had spoken to another person face-to-face was last month, during Bobby’s ‘supply-and-check-up-on-Sam’ run. Since then, it had been limited to Skype chats with his uncle and his friend Garth. Interacting with Dean was just a diversion from all the alone time he had had lately, he told himself. He finished the dishes and put the remaining stew in the fridge, thoughts still on the injured man on the far side of the room.

 

Dean slept a lot the first couple of days, getting up only to use the bathroom and eat, but seemed to be feeling slightly better on the fourth morning after waking. He was sore, still, but able to stay awake for longer periods. He seemed genuinely touched when he saw the crutches propped next to the bed. Sam had bundled up and made his way out to the shed before the other awoke to retrieve them.

“So what do you do to pass the time here, Sam?” he asked as they ate a breakfast of eggs, pancakes, sausage and, of course, coffee.

Sam shrugged one large shoulder, shooting the other man a glance. “Read,” he answered, “Build things. Write. Watch television.”

“You have cable up here?” the other raised a doubtful brow, and Sam couldn’t keep the smile off his lips. He raised his eyes and found the other watching him, a peculiar look on his face; he glanced away as Sam tilted his head in question.

“Satellite,” he answered the man’s question, motioning toward the 32” television in the living room, “Storms like this one knock out the signal so you would probably only get a black screen right now, but I have some stuff DVR’d, and there’s a box of DVDs. I can set it up in here if you want to watch something.”

“You’re awfully nice to a guy you don’t even know,” Dean commented, taking a bite of his eggs, “Man, these are good.”

Sam huffed a low laugh and asked, “Would you rather I tie you to the bed and hold you at my mercy?” He meant it as a joke, something to counter Dean’s comment that he was being awfully nice. Just a teasing remark.

Dean’s eyes, however, indicated that the words brought something else entirely to mind. There was heat in them as he raised them to Sam, an almost predatory look in the green gaze. A slow smirk curved his full mouth as his eyes raked over Sam, and his voice was lower, huskier, as he responded,
“Maybe when I’m not so sore.”

Sam swallowed hard – he could feel heat rising on his face and pooling in his stomach at the entirely different type of teasing. When Dean’s tongue slipped out and licked slowly along his bottom lip, green gaze still locked on him, he quickly shoved himself to his feet.

“I – uh –“ He blinked at the man on the bed, mind going blank of anything coherent, as he watched Dean catch that plush bottom lip between his teeth. It seemed like an eternity but was, in reality, only seconds later that he managed to blurt, “I’ll get more coffee.”

Sam heard the low (sensuous, how the hell could a laugh be sensuous but holy shit it was) laugh follow him as he crossed to the kitchen, his back to the bed and the man on it.

Ten minutes later, he had pulled himself together and managed to refill Dean’s coffee without making a complete fool of himself. He offered again to set up the television at the foot of the bed, but Dean shook his head.

“Shouldn’t have to move your stuff around for me,” the man told him, “I could probably make it to the couch, if I use those crutches.”

Sam nodded and helped the man shift to the edge of the mattress, then handed Dean the crutches. He stood nearby as the other stood and tried his weight on them, and followed close when he slowly made his way to the couch.

When Dean was settled on the couch, crutches propped against the end of it, Sam handed him the remote which worked both the television and the DVD player. He retrieved one of several boxes of DVDs and placed it on the couch next to the other man.

“Pick something and I’ll put it in for you,” he offered, seating himself at the couch’s other end.

Dean rifled through the fairly organized DVDs for a minute. Suddenly his face lit up and he pulled out what appeared to be a box set. “You have Doctor Sexy, MD!” the man exclaimed with a grin.

Sam smirked and nodded, and Dean pulled out and handed him the Season One disc, batting his eyelashes in the process. The bigger man chuckled, shaking his head, and stood to put the DVD in the player.

Sam had just put the DVD in and turned to his house guest when Dean shifted on the couch. “Doin’ okay?” he asked, catching the wince of pain on the other man’s face.

“Yeah,” Dean shot him a tight smile, “Sore, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re – when you fall off a mountain.”

Sam put a cushion on the low, wooden stood that had been residing next to Dean’s bed for the past few days, and sat it in front of the man so Dean could prop his broken leg on it. He sat a glass of juice and a bottle of ibuprofen on a small table next to Dean’s end of the couch, and placed several blankets beside the man in case he grew cold. Once that was done, Sam said, “I’ll be in the back room for a while. Call for me if you need me.”

“Will do,” Dean promised, eyes on the television screen as the first episode of Season One began to play.

Sam studied the man for a few seconds, a smile ghosting his lips as Dean grinned at something on the screen. He blinked and forced himself to turn away: he had writing to do, and it wasn’t going to get done if he stood here all morning, staring at his guest like an infatuated teenager.

He frowned as he moved through the house, to the back bedroom where he did his writing. He did not do infatuated teenager. What the hell was wrong with him? He rolled his eyes at himself as his brain answered for him, He’s gorgeous and you haven’t been laid in a long, long time.

Sam was sitting at the desk in the back bedroom minutes later, laptop open to one of the documents saved on it. He had the laptop for writing, as typing went far faster than writing by hand. It had internet access when a blizzard wasn’t blanketing the world in white outside; at the moment, however, the signal was dead.

The man opened up the document containing his notes, and spent the next two hours editing the third novel of a trilogy. The first two installments of the historical, steam punk romances had been published already, under his penname. He had three months yet before this one’s deadline, but he liked to finish early, when possible.

Sam saved his work-in-progress before standing and stretching. He reached down and closed the laptop to preserve the battery, then left the room to go check on Dean.

Dean was where Sam had left him two hours earlier. He was halfway through the third episode of ‘Doctor Sexy, MD’, eyes on the screen. Sam spotted the ibuprofen bottle he held loosely in one hand.

“Hey,” he greeted the other as he seated himself in a nearby armchair, “How are you feeling?”

Dean bit his bottom lip for a moment before glancing over at him and admitting, “Sore. Damn head hurts again.” He raised a hand, motioning toward his bruised temple, “Does it look as bad as it feels?”

“Yeah,” Sam told him, nodding, “It really does.” He watched as Dean paused the DVD and reached for the crutches.

“Gotta hit the head,” the other muttered, a low grunt of pain escaping him as he used a crutch to help himself to his feet. He waved a hand when Sam started to stand and said, “I can manage.” A smile touched his mouth at the bigger man’s raised brow, and he assured, “Really, I’m fine. I’ll yell if I need you.”

 

After a slow trek through the cabin, to the bathroom – his entire body was aching, and using crutches could be a bitch at times, especially when sore – Dean relieved himself, then leaned a hip against the sink to wash his hands. It was still fairly amazing that Sam had both running water and electricity up here on this mountain. He turned off the water and dried his hands on the small hand towel which had been lying on the edge of the sink, then raised his eyes to the small mirror above it.

Dean made a face, wrinkling his nose, at his reflection. Sam was right. He looked as rough as he felt. His right temple and jaw were bruised black and purple, and his right eye was slightly black around it. He was pale and he looked as exhausted as he felt.

Dean shook his head and took hold of the crutches, slipping them beneath his arms. He began the slow walk from the bathroom to the front room, pausing to catch his breath halfway to the couch. He hadn’t used crutches in years, and they weren’t helping the ache in his back and shoulders. Still, they allowed him to get up out of the bed, so that was something.

His gaze shifted to the big man on the couch as he caught his breath. He was tall, at 6’1”, but his rescuer stood several inches taller. And the man was built like a brick wall. He hadn’t missed the feel of firm muscle beneath Sam’s shirt when he had collapsed in the bathroom that first night, and Sam caught him. It was sort of hard to miss, given the fact that the other was so big. His eyes shifted over the other, taking in the almost shoulder length, chestnut hair, the broad shoulders and back, the large hands. That strong jaw, stunning face, full mouth..

Dean wasn’t surprised at his physical attraction – he found both genders to be appealing, and had been physical in the past with men as well as women. And Sam was stunning, with his good looks, his muscled build, those hazel eyes. And that deep, yet somehow soft-spoken, voice was enough to send a thrill down Dean’s spine every time the other man spoke. He smirked at himself and tore his eyes from the other man, concentrating on making it to the couch without tripping and falling. Even if he was in any condition to put the moves on his rescuer and now host – and he wasn’t, not really – there was the fact that he was engaged.

A frown touched his lips as his thoughts went to his fiancé, followed immediately by an image of his best friend’s face as Michael stood above him on that mountain.

Dean had been close with Michael Novak and his siblings, Gabriel and Castiel, since they were kids. He had grown up with them, and the three were his best friends, especially Castiel. His brain was having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that Mike had told him he loved his fiancé (which he could have dealt with), and then shoved him off the side of a mountain. He raised his head and found hazel eyes on him as Sam’s voice cut through his thoughts.

“You okay?”

“Yeah,” Dean nodded, “More sore than I realized. Think I’ll lie down, if that’s alright. You want your bed back? I can lay on the couch.”

“No,” Sam shook his head as he stood and crossed to Dean, “Take the bed. You won’t get any rest on the couch, and it won’t help your soreness any.” He raised a hand to rest it lightly at the small of Dean’s back, urging him toward the bed, ad Dean shivered slightly at the warm, firm touch.

Minutes later he was settled in the bed, nestled beneath several warm blankets and his injured leg propped up a pillow. He took the pain pills and water Sam offered with a smile of gratitude. When the pills had been taken most of the water was gone, Sam took the glass from him and placed it on the small table next to the bed.

“Sorry to be a burden like this,” he murmured, shifting deeper beneath the warm blankets. He opened his eyes as he felt fingers brushing lightly against his forehead – Sam was checking for fever, he guessed.

“You’re not a burden,” the other said, deep voice soothing, “I’m sorry you’re stuck on the mountain, in this blizzard, with me.” The other shot him a small smile, and Dean returned it. His smile widened when he winked at the other, and a flush touched Sam’s cheeks.

“That offer to let you be my teddy bear is still open, Sammy,” he teased as he closed his eyes. They opened again as, after a moment, the other man returned, “Maybe next time.” He raised his gaze, trying to catch Sam’s eyes with his own, but the other man was already turning away and moving toward the kitchen.

“Tease,” Dean murmured, almost beneath his breath, a smile on his face.

 

Dean slept for several hours, dreams filled with a mixture of home and cold snow and best friends. He jerked awake during a strange dream in which he was trying to grow flowers in the snow. He stared up at the ceiling for a long minute before rubbing his hand over his eyes and glancing around the cabin’s front room. He didn’t see Sam; after a moment he recalled the other man mentioning a back bedroom. Maybe he was there.

Dean’s eyes shifted to the crutches leaning against the wall next to the bed. He pushed himself up into a seated position, wincing as his still-aching muscles protested. He took a minute to let the sharp pains in his shoulders and back subside a bit, then scooted to the bed’s edge and reached for the crutches.

Dean had just hobbled his way into the living room when he heard footsteps. He half-turned, eyes zoning in on the doorway that led back to the bathroom and, apparently, the cabin’s back rooms. Moments later, Sam stepped into view.

“Hey,” the big man greeted, pausing upon seeing him on his feet, “Didn’t hear you get up. You okay?”

“Yeah. Got a little restless, figured I would get up and move around a little.”

Sam nodded and raised a large hand to motion around the room. “Not much in the way of entertainment,” the man said with a wry smile, “but you’re free to look around all you wish.”

Dean watched as he seated himself on the end of the couch before turning his eyes to the room around him. He would admit to himself that he was slightly curious about Sam; he knew nothing about the man, beyond the fact that he, obviously, knew first-aid and had warm hands. With a mental shrug, he made his way to the far side of the room, near the bed, to inspect a bookshelf built into the wall there.

Dean hobbled around the cabin for a while – it was slow-going, as his muscles protested their use in maneuvering the crutches – and explored the space. “You sure you don’t mind me looking around your place?” he asked, glancing over at Sam, whom was sitting on the couch still, reading.

“Feel free,” the other man answered, eyes on the book he held, “Nothing very exciting, I’m afraid, but go ahead.”

Exciting or not, Dean was just happy to be out of that bed and moving around. He crutched his way into the living room and halted in front of the book shelf which had been built into and took up half of one wall. His eyes roamed over the titles of the books; Sam was an avid reader, it seemed, of any and everything. Dean half-turned, careful about his balance and the placement of the crutch supporting him, and glanced around the cabin.

No pictures, he realized suddenly. Not on the walls, or the shelves, or the fireplace mantle. From his viewpoint, there wasn’t a single picture in sight. Nor was there any of the common objects one tended to find in a home: no knick-knacks, no useless decorative pieces, no art or paintings or anything of the sort. His eyes shifted to the man on the couch, and he found Sam watching him.

“Got family around here, Sam?” Dean asked, making his way to the couch and standing next to it.

“No.”

“Online girlfriend?”

“No.”

“Online boyfriend?”

A slight smirk, followed by, “No.”

Dean settled himself carefully on the end of the couch Sam wasn’t occupying, leaning over to lay his crutches on the floor. “You’re not one of those psychos who goes into the mountains and kills innocent campers and hikers, are you?”

Sam cast him a level glance and replied, “Guess you’ll just have to find out.”

Dean raised a brow; he chuckled as he saw that smirk touch the other’s mouth again. “That was a joke, right?”

The other man merely smiled at him, eyes dropping to his book again.

Dean’s eyes widened slightly as the other remained silent. He hoped his rescuer really wasn’t one of those psychos who liked to kill campers and hikers. He would much rather be tied to Sam’s bed and at his mercy..

Dean smirked at his own thoughts and laid his head back against the couch, eyes on the ceiling.

xxx

“Don’t talk much, do you?”

Sam raised his eyes from his book and glanced over at the man’s question. He met the other’s curious green gaze and averted his own.

“Sorry,” Dean’s voice dropped slightly, apologetic, “I didn’t mean to – There’s nothing wrong with being quiet. Just – kinda used to – “ He paused and ran a hand through his short hair, “Everyone I know talks a lot, to be honest. It’s .. kinda nice to have some quiet. Not that I would be opposed if you did want to talk. It’s just –“

Sam stared at him, head tilted slightly, and Dean chuckled softly.

“Sorry. Again,” the man said, “I’m babbling. Obviously, I’m one of those people who talks a lot.”

“It’s fine,” he assured, eyes on the other, “No, I guess I’m not the world’s best conversationalist. Part of it comes from living up here alone, probably.”

“Why are you living up here?”

Sam glanced over again at the question, and found Dean’s green eyes on him. He shifted beneath the gaze, averting his own again, and shrugged a broad shoulder.

“Like being alone,” he said finally.

“You don’t get lonely?”

“People get lonely around other people, too, you know,” he shot defensively, frown creasing his brow.

“Hey, easy,” Dean raised his hands in supplication, “Sorry, didn’t mean to pry.”

“It’s – sorry,” Sam rubbed a hand over his mouth, “I just .. there was a point in my life when I couldn’t deal with people anymore, on a regular basis. So I built this cabin and here I am.”

“You built all this yourself?” Dean glanced around, an impressed look on his face. His eyes shifted back to Sam as the big man chuckled.

“Had a little help,” he said, “My uncle and a friend of mine.”

Dean studied him, head tilted and questions in his eyes, but he only smiled and said, “If it makes you happy, then good for you for doing it. Sometimes I wish I could get away from everything like this, but I don’t think I would have the balls to actually do it. Not long-term.”

“Where are you from?” Sam found himself asking, trying to ignore the strange feeling that was like a punch in the stomach at the mention of Dean living elsewhere. Typically, he didn’t pry into people’s lives, but he couldn’t help but be curious about this man whom had so suddenly dropped into his.

“Nevada,” Dean answered, “Well, I was born in Kansas, but been living in Nevada since I was a kid. Old man owns a couple of mines there, I help him with the business.”

“And you chose to vacation on the coldest mountain you could find?” Sam raised a brow, a slight smirk on his mouth.

Dean huffed a laugh and shrugged a shoulder. “Michael’s idea,” the man informed with a slight grin. The grin disappeared, however, as soon as the words left his lips. “Michael was my best friend,” he said suddenly, “One of ‘em, anyway.”

Sam studied the other, giving him a puzzled look. The name sounded familiar; it took him a moment to recall that Dean had asked about a Michael upon waking. “Right. You asked about him when you woke that first morning.”

Dean nodded an acknowledgement. “He brought me up here for some elk hunting,” the other continued, eyes on the window and the white world outside it, “Came up here for some guy time. Shoot some elk, drink some beers, camp out and have a good time.”

The man fell silent – Sam watched him, could tell that he was thinking. He didn’t interrupt, though he wanted to ask where the man was now, and why Dean had been alone when Sam found him.

Finally, Dean spoke again, “He told me he was in love with my fiancé. We were hiking up a damn mountain in the snow and he told me he was in love with my fiancé. Cracked me in the head with the butt of his rifle. I went down like a ton of bricks. Guess that’s when he took my wallet with my ID. When I came to, he hit me again and shoved me off the mountain. I assume he hightailed it out of here and went back home. Probably told everyone I was dead, that I fell and he couldn’t find me..”

Sam exhaled a sharp breath, shocked at the information. “That’s why you needed to get to Custer,” he guessed, “So you could contact them and let them know you’re okay.”

Dean nodded, eyes on the cabin floor.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly, not sure what else to say but disliking the pain and hurt etching Dean’s features. It stirred something inside him, left him with the odd urge to try and ease the other’s pain.

“S’okay,” the other man shot him a half-smile which didn’t reach his eyes, “Not your fault. Hell, you rescued my ass. You’re taking care of me. Already makes you a better friend than him, doesn’t it? You think you know a guy..”

Sam didn’t miss the slight catch in Dean’s voice as the man trailed off, falling silent, nor the man’s clenched fists, which were resting on his thighs. He wasn’t good with people, not really – it was only one of the many reasons he was living on this mountain alone. Still, the hurt on Dean’s face was wrapping itself around his heart, causing his chest to ache in sympathy. He shifted closer to the other man – Dean’s eyes flicked to him as he did – and laid a gentle hand on his upper arm.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated his earlier words, “Michael is a douchebag.”

A sudden, surprised laugh huffed out of the other man. “That he is,” the other agreed, giving him a genuine smile. Sam returned the smile, thumb rubbing along the muscled bicep beneath his hand. Dean’s eyes fell to his hand and a flush touched his cheeks suddenly as he realized he was still touching the other. He started to pull his hand away but paused as Dean requested softly,

“Leave it.”

Green eyes rose to meet his gaze, and the man murmured, “Muscles are sore, and your hands are warm. Feels.. nice.” Sam nodded, at a loss for words, and continued stroking his thumb over the man’s firm bicep. Dean smiled slightly and laid his head back against the couch, eyes slipping closed.

Though he knew he shouldn’t, he let his eyes roam the other man, taking in the lines of his body, the hard planes of muscle beneath the t-shirt Sam had loaned him this morning. Even beneath the slightly-too-big-rolled-at-the-cuffs pajama pants he was wearing (which also belonged to Sam), his build was apparent.

Sam raised his hazel gaze to Dean’s face again, and found the other man watching him. The hint of a smile was curving the other’s full lips, and he had the sudden urge to lean forward and trace his tongue along the bottom one.

Sam swallowed as Dean murmured, voice low, “You can rub the rest of me like that if you want. Your hands feel good.” He felt the flush creeping up his throat and cheeks, and he knew he needed to stop touching the other man, like two minutes ago already.

Imagine his own surprise, at himself, as he shifted closer and slipped his hand up Dean’s bicep and shoulder, down over his clavicle, to rest against his chest. He began rubbing lightly, small circles to massage sore, tense muscles. Sam swallowed hard, felt his cock twitch in his jeans, as the other man let out a low, soft groan.

Dean laid his head back against the couch again, exposing the column of his throat. His eyes slipped closed, a soft sigh escaping him, as he repeated, “Your hands feel good, Sammy.”

He had never been called ‘Sammy’ in his life, but found suddenly that he didn’t mind it. At all.

Sam shifted again, bringing himself closer to Dean, and pressed his other hand against the man’s chest. He began to rub lightly with both hands, and Dean groaned again in the pleasure one receives from having aching, sore muscles massaged, the sound soft and low in his throat.

He massaged the other man’s chest, hands slipping down the firm planes of his torso. His eyes shifted up to Dean as he rubbed up and down the man’s side, touches light on the bruised area to avoid causing the other pain, and found Dean watching him again. When his fingers reached the muscles of the other’s stomach, and he hesitated, Dean encouraged in a murmur, “Keep going.”

By the time he had finished massaging the muscles of Dean’s stomach, and was sliding his large hands up the man’s sides again, he was half-hard. His eyes dropped automatically to the other’s groin as Dean suddenly gave a light thrust of his hips: his eyes widened as he saw the way the pajama pants covering the man were tented. Dean was hard beneath the thin material covering him.

Sam’s hands faltered in their rubbing, and he raised his eyes to the other man. Dean was watching him still, the black of his pupils blown wide, lips parted the slightest bit, eyes half-closed. The other man was gorgeous, and it caused his dick to twitch again. He bit his bottom lip – Dean’s eyes dropped to his mouth at the action – then slipped his hands down the other’s sides and over his hips. Sam allowed his hands to reach the man’s muscled thighs and he rubbed at them, touches light and gentle.

Another sigh escaped the other man, and he spread his legs slightly wider, careful of his broken leg. When Sam’s hands slipped along his inner thighs, Dean let out a soft moan and whispered, “Damn, Sammy. Feels awesome.”

“Helping at all?” his own voice was low, husky, “With the soreness?”

He didn’t miss the way Dean’s hard cock twitched as he spoke, nor the way the other arched his hips slightly. He had the almost-overwhelming urge to lean down and lick a long, slow stripe up the length of that erection as Dean whispered, “Yeah. It is. Please don’t stop.”

He continued his gentle massage, hands sliding along the man’s thighs, back down to his inner thighs, strong fingers easing the tension away. When he reached that crease where thigh met hip, he brushed his thumb along it. His digit ghosted against the side of the man’s hard dick, and a low gasp escaped Dean as the other arched his hips. He repeated the movement, a hand on each thigh now, thumbs brushing up and grazing the man’s shaft. A spurt of pre-come leaked from the head of his own dick as Dean bit his bottom lip in pleasure.

“Please,” the other whispered, hips jerking forward as his touch, “Fuck, please, Sammy please..”

When Sam brushed the pad of his thumb up along the length of the other’s hard, cloth-covered shaft, Dean nearly arched off the couch. The moan which tore from his throat was a mix of pleasure and pain – his sudden movement had sent a stab of pain through his leg – and Sam placed a hand on his hip.

“Easy,” the big man murmured, “Don’t hurt yourself.” He brushed his thumb up the man’s hard shaft again, holding the other in place with his other hand, so Dean wouldn’t hurt himself. Another low moan escaped Dean’s throat at his touch, and the other opened his eyes to look at him, pupils lust-blown, the black covering almost completely the green.

“Want more?” Sam asked, his voice husky with his own lust. The other man nodded, lips parted, breathing uneven, and eyes falling to Sam’s hands again.

Sam swallowed, fought back the urge to crawl on top of the other’s lap and grind his ass down against that hard cock – Dean was still recovering, still sore. Instead, he brushed his thumb against the other’s shaft once more, then covered the man’s hard cock with his hand. Pre-come leaked from his own cock again as he pressed the heel of his palm against the other’s hard dick. Dean jerked with a gasp of pleasure, a low, breathless groan escaping his throat.

Sam raised his eyes and met Dean’s gaze again; his own lips parted on a bitten off moan as the other man’s hand covered his own, pressing it down hard against the cock beneath his palm.

“Rub it,” the other instructed, his lust-rough voice taking on a commanding tone, “Rub my cock, Sammy.” Dean’s eyes fell to his mouth again as Sam bit his bottom lip; a moment later, he obeyed and rubbed his palm along the length of the man’s shaft.

“Slide your hand into my boxers,” Dean’s voice was almost a growl now, “then undo those jeans and stroke yourself.”

Sam hesitated, swallowing; a low whine caught in his throat, escaped as a soft sound of need, as the other ordered, “Now, Sam.” He obeyed and slipped his hand beneath the waistband of the pajamas’ Dean was wearing, and then into the man’s boxers. He moaned softly as he felt the other’s smooth, hot shaft against his skin, and fumbled with the button of his jeans. Once they were undone, he slipped his hand into them and pressed it again his dick.

“Yeah,” Dean murmured in approval, shoving his cock against Sam’s hand, “Stroke me off while you’re jerking your dick.”

Sam obeyed and began stroking Dean’s hard length as he wrapped his hand around his own dick; a shudder ran through him as he began jerking himself. Dean’s low-spoken, almost-growled words of “Good, that’s good, Sammy,” sent him closer to orgasm.

“Straddle me,” the other instructed suddenly as he arched into Sam’s large fist. Sam hesitated a moment before shifting off the couch. He obeyed and straddled the other’s thighs, careful of Dean’s leg. He moaned, low in his throat, as Dean reached for him and grabbed his hips, jerking him closer.

“Yeah,” the other man growled, hand slipping down to free himself from his pajamas, “Sit that pretty ass right here on my lap, Sam.”

“Dean..” there was a plea in Sam’s voice, though he wasn’t certain what he was asking for, “Please..”

“Come on, baby,” the other growled, hauling him closer by the hip, “Wanna feel that ass against my cock.” The words nearly did him in, and he obeyed and sat on the other’s lap, his feet planted firmly on the floor to take his weight. He didn’t want to cause the man any pain, or do any damage to Dean’s leg. The feel of Dean’s hard cock against his ass, thrusting up against him, sent a hard shudder through him and had him gripping the base of his own dick.

Sam breathed out a soft, “Oh, oh fuck,” as Dean’s hand shoved his own off his dick suddenly, and the man’s fingers wrapped around his aching, leaking prick. He obeyed and forced his eyes open as he heard,

“Look at me, Sammy. How long has it been since anyone else has touched your cock? Hmm?”

“Long time,” he breathed, hips jerking forward as Dean rubbed his thumb over Sam’s cockhead.

“How long?”

“Six – “ Sam trailed off, soft moan escaping his lips as Dean stroked him, squeezing his shaft and rubbing his slick around the head, “Six years.”

“Mmm,” the other man purred, his voice deep and rough with lust, hungry eyes raking over Sam’s body, “Bet you’re ready to blow already, aren’t you baby? Bet you’re full of cum, ready to shoot it all over my face and down my throat.”

“Nnng,” Sam shuddered as that hand on his dick stroked and rubbed, “Please, fuck, please Dean..”

“Please Dean what?” the other man teased, a smirk on his mouth (that fucking sexy mouth, Sam wanted to devour it). Dean shifted his hips, thrusting his dick hard against Sam’s ass, and the bigger man whimpered. “Please what, Sammy? Answer me.”

Sam’s voice was wrecked, almost a whisper, as he pleaded, “Please let me cum.”

Dean thrust up hard against him at the words, shudders running through his body and teeth clamping down on his bottom lip. His voice was a growl as he stroked Sam once, twice, and ordered, “Cum, Sammy. Cum for me.”

Sam cried out as his orgasm ripped through him like a storm, that tingling which had been building at the base of his spine and pooling in his stomach rushing straight to his dick. He arched into Dean’s capable hands as the other stroked him, rocked down on Dean’s dick, which was thrusting up against him.

Dean growled low in his throat and jerked Sam closer, fingers digging into his hip, as the big man began to shoot his load, thick, white ropes of cum hitting him in the stomach and chest. Sam cried out again as the other leaned in suddenly, and a hot, wet mouth closed over the head of his shaft, sucking him hard and swallowing down his cum.

He had stroked himself off many, many times over the past six years, but it had never felt like this. Hell, no other orgasm in his life had ever been as strong as this one. His entire body was trembling when he finished shooting, leaning heavily on his arms, which were planted against the couch on either side of Dean’s head. His eyes dropped to the other man as Dean pulled off his dick with a wet pop. A low, helpless moan escaped him as Dean licked his lips and told him with a sated smile, “Mm, taste good, Sammy. Made me cum all over myself.”

He took a moment to catch his breath and make certain his shaking body wasn’t going to collapse – Dean stroked a hand over his hip and thigh the entire time – then shifted so that he was sitting on the couch next to the other man.

“Okay?”

His eyes shifted to Dean at the question, and he nodded yes. “You?” his own voice was hoarse, rough, and he swallowed hard.

“I’m great,” the other shot him a satisfied grin, and Sam nearly moaned again at the way he licked his lips, as if he were licking the taste of Sam from them, “Best massage I’ve had in a long time.”

He huffed a laugh, eyes on the ceiling, as his breathing finally began to even out.

“Six years, huh?” the other leaned in to brush that sinful mouth behind Sam’s ear, and Sam found himself shivering again.

“Yeah,” he whispered, “Haven’t – not since I moved up here.”

“That’s a story I want to hear sometime,” the other murmured, almost reluctantly pulling back, “when you’re ready to tell it.” If he saw the uncertainty and uneasiness on Sam’s face at the statement, he didn’t let on, “Think I should probably change clothes, hmm?”

Sam’s eyes dropped to the pajama pants Dean was wearing and saw that they were dark with Dean’s cum, soaked through. He bit his lip, eyes riveted to the spot for a moment; finally he blinked and raised his gaze. Dean was watching him, a slight smirk on his mouth and a curious, almost hungry look in his eyes.

“I’ll get you some clean clothes,” he offered, pushing himself to his feet. He felt Dean’s gaze on him as he moved across the room, to the closet which held his clothing.

Dean ended up in the shower, with Sam standing outside the bathroom door. A plastic stool from the back storage room allowed Dean to sit without having to worry about his balance as he washed himself. Getting in the shower hadn’t been difficult – he had gotten in before turning the water on, tossing his clothing out from behind the curtain. It was when he was finished that he had difficulty climbing to his feet without slipping. Sam ended up going in and helping him after hearing him mutter a string of annoyed curses.

He tried not to stare, he really did, but he couldn’t seem to keep his eyes off of the shorter man. Miles of naked skin, firm body, water trickling down his stomach.. And then, when Dean was pressed up against him for balance as Sam helped him out of the shower stall, it was Sam’s turn to curse beneath his breath.

“Something wrong, Sammy?” there was nothing but teasing in that voice as Dean’s eyes flicked over the length of him, resting on his crotch and his hardening dick.

“No,” he muttered through gritted teeth, “’m fine.” The deep chuckle from the other nearly had him shoving Dean against the wall and ravaging his mouth. Instead, he handed the man a thick, fluffy towel and helped him stand as Dean dried himself.

Once Dean was dressed in clean jogging pants and t-shirt, from his own backpack this time, he rested himself on the couch so Sam could re-do the splint. The big man was almost wrapping the last layer of bandages around the other’s leg, and raised his eyes to check on his patient.

“Did I take advantage of you, Sam?” the other man asked suddenly, “I’m sorry if I did.”

Sam barked out a surprised laugh and countered, eyes on Dean’s leg as he rearranged the last layer of bandage, “No, you didn’t take advantage of me. I was thinking I might have taken advantage of you.”

“You can take anything you want from me,” the other smirked, causing a blush to touch his cheeks. When he was finished with the bandages, he stood and studied the other man. Dean was watching him through half-closed lids, that curious, hungry look on his features again.

“Hungry?” he asked, trying to distract himself from the far-too-alluring image his guest made, “I’ll fix some lunch.”

When he entered the living room area a short while later, Dean was asleep on the couch, head resting back against the cushion. Sam studied him for several minutes, a smile touching his lips at how peaceful the sleeping man looked. He frowned at the odd sensation in his chest when the thought struck him that Dean would be leaving when the snow stopped and they could get off the mountain. He shoved the feeling down and moved to ease Dean sideways, so that he was stretched out instead of sitting in a slouch that would lead to more sore muscles. He eased the other’s injured leg onto a cushion, propping it slightly, and the other man murmured sleepily,
“Mm, always looking out for me, Sammy.” Dean sighed and went still again, breathing evening out.

Sam felt that odd sensation in his chest again, creeping up to clutch his heart and causing it to skip a beat, and that’s when it hit him. Like a blow to the chest, realization hit him.

 

“Fuck,” Sam muttered beneath his breath as he paced the back bedroom, where he did his writing, several minutes later. He ran a hand through his too-long hair, tugging at it, and repeated, “Fuck!”

Dean had been here barely a week. Barely a week! How could he - ? Sam shook his head again, rubbing a hand over his mouth. This was not one of his books. This was not some fairy tale. Dean had been here barely a week. How could he have fallen for the man in barely a week? Even if he had been up here, mostly alone, for six years, Sam wasn’t the type to fall for just anyone. In fact, he guarded his heart pretty damn carefully. And in a week’s time, Dean Campbell had slipped through his defenses and wrapped himself around it?

Even before the sex a short bit ago, that feeling, that heart-skipping sensation when Dean’s eyes fell on him, had been plaguing him. He had been distracted, though, with caring for the other man and trying to ignore that feeling. The one he hadn’t realized for what it was. Not until minutes ago.

He swallowed, trying to bring his off-kilter emotions back in control. Dean would be back in civilization soon, once the blizzard stopped and they made it to Custer. He would be back in Nevada, with his family and his fiancé and his life that didn’t include Sam and snow-covered, frozen isolation.

“Just pull yourself together, Winchester,” he muttered to himself, rubbing his hand over his eyes. With a heavy sigh, he sat down at the writing desk and opened his laptop. Maybe a few hours of editing would help distract him.

 

The distraction of writing and editing worked. So well that he started in surprise when, several hours later, Dean’s voice asked from the doorway, “Whatcha doing?”

Sam turned in his chair to blink at the other man. “Editing,” he answered after a moment, snapping out of his startled state.

“Editing?” Dean repeated, brows raised in interest. The man didn’t move any further into the room, but his curious green gaze shifted to Sam’s laptop.

“Yeah,” Sam answered, “I’m – “ A flush touched his cheeks suddenly, “I – uh, I write.”

“Yeah?” Dean tilted his head, “What do you write?”
His interest appeared to be genuine, and Sam found himself answering almost sheepishly, “Historical, steam punk-era romance. Under a penname.”

Dean blinked at him, taking in the statement. The teasing Sam expected didn’t happen; instead, the other man said, “Huh. I’ve read a few of that genre’, I think. Favorite is that series by Samantha Chesterfield. ’Out of Time’, I think it was called? It was great. And the love scenes? Woo. Hot.” His eyes shifted back to Sam’s face; Sam was staring at him, spots of red high on his cheekbones and surprise on his face

Sam watched as Dean’s eyes shifted from him, to his laptop, back to him, realization dawning on his features. It was when the man’s eyes fell on a book lying on the desk next to the laptop, one from the very series he had just mentioned, that the realization was driven home.

“Wait,” the other began, eyes flicking back to Sam, “You – historical steam punk – Tell me you’re not Samantha Chesterfield?”

Sam shot him another sheepish smile, followed by a weak shrug and a nod of his head.

“Holy shit!” surprised delight crossed the other man’s face, “Are you serious? Are you for-freaking-real serious?”

Sam nodded again, a smile twitching his mouth – it was hard to hold it in, with Dean’s obvious delight – and the other man exclaimed again, “Holy shit. Can I -?”

He motioned into the room, and Sam nodded. He watched as Dean made his way across the room, to sit on the edge of the nearby bed.

“Are you working on the next book?”

“Yeah,” he nodded again, “Last one in this series. Finished with it, just need to finish editing it before I send it to my publisher.”

“Does Lacey die?” Dean’s eyes widened suddenly, “Tell me Lacey doesn’t die!” He raised a hand and shook his head, “Wait, I know. Spoilers. You probably can’t tell me that. I can’t believe you’re Samantha Chesterfield.”

A blush of an entirely different nature touched Sam’s cheeks as the man’s eyes darkened and he added, voice dropping an octave, “Although, after what happened in the living room, I can believe you wrote the sex scenes.”

He raised his eyes to Dean’s again as the man murmured, “You’re sexy when you’re blushing, Sam.”
Before he could stammer out any kind of response – and curse his sudden shyness – Dean’s face lit up again and he asked, “You’re writing more after this series, right?”

He chuckled and nodded, “Yeah, I have another one in the works. So you’re a fan, huh?”

“Hell yeah,” the other grinned, “Cassie bought the first book a couple months ago but never read it. I found it at her place and picked it up, and then couldn’t put it down. Literally. I was supposed to take her out that night, but couldn’t stop reading.” He chuckled at the memory, “Read it in three days. Went out and bought the second one before I was even finished with the first.”

“Cassie’s your fiancé?”

“Yeah,” the smile left Dean’s face, which became an odd, blank mask, “She’s my fiancé. We got engaged this past Christmas.”

“Sorry,” Sam apologized softly, seeing an edge of pain beneath the blankness of Dean’s features, “Didn’t mean to – to bring up a painful subject. I know you want to get back to her and let her know you’re okay.”

“Yeah,” Dean’s eyes dropped to the floor, and he fidgeted with the blanket covering the bed, “My family’s probably worried sick. Hell, I’m sure Mike has them thinking I’m dead at this point.”

Sam swallowed; before he could speak again, green eyes met his own.

“Thing is,” the man continued, anger touching his voice now, “that Mike said something strange before he shoved me off that mountain. Okay, granted, everything was strange in that conversation, he was supposed to be my best friend. But –“ His eyes dropped to the blanket he was toying with, “before he decided to send me on a one-way trip down the side of a cliff, he told me that Cassie said they couldn’t be together until I was out of the way.”

Sam wanted to go to the man and hug him as pained green eyes lifted to him again. He wanted to find this Michael and beat the hell out of him. Hell, he wanted to find this Cassie and give her a good, hard smack.

“Maybe –“ he cleared his throat and tried again, “He was probably lying. He was about to throw you off the mountain, maybe he was lying about that.”

Dean smiled, a small, sad smile. “Never known Mike to lie to me,” he said after a moment, “Even when he fucked up, he was always honest about it.” His eyes met Sam’s again. “When Cassie and I first started dating, we went to this big party, some thing my dad’s Senator friend was having. Only went because my old man expected it, you know?”

“I took Cassie, and Mike and Gabe and Cas were there. We all got pretty drunk.” He chewed his bottom lip for a second, “I had too much to drink so Cas took me home early. Cassie and Mike ended up sleeping together. He could have lied, or kept it to himself. I wouldn’t have known. But he told me.” He laughed, low and bitter, “She cried and apologized, said it was a mistake. Asked me to give her another chance.”

The man sighed, a heavy sound, and laid back on the bed, eyes on the ceiling, “Not sure she ever really even loved me. She loved that I bought her things, and she loved my credit cards, and she loved my rich parents and being associated with all of it. Me, though? Not sure if it’s me she loves or if it’s my bank accounts. Hell, I’m not even sure I ever really loved her, not the way I’m supposed to love someone I’m going to marry.”

Sam had moved from his chair and crossed to sit on the edge of the bed by this point. He stared down at Dean, listening to the man’s quiet words, and he amended his earlier thought: he wanted to find this Cassie and shove her off the same mountain from which Dean had fallen.

“How could she not love you?” he asked softly. Dean’s eyes flicked to him at the question. The other man stared at him for a long moment, eyes searching his face, and Sam swallowed and averted his gaze. Shit. Had he just said too much with that question?

“Why do what he did?” he asked after a moment, “Why wouldn’t she just break up with you if they wanted to be together?”

“My parents thought it would be a good idea if I put Cassie in my will,” Dean shot him a wry smile, “since we were supposed to be married. She wasn’t getting everything, and there was a pre-nup which we both signed. But if anything happened to me, even before we were married, she would get a nice bit of change.”

“So shoving you off a mountain and leaving you for dead would mean she got whatever had been left to her in your will,” Sam deduced. Dean nodded yes, and he scowled and growled, “That’s just.. wrong.”

“Some people prefer money,” the older man answered after a minute. A smile touched his mouth as Sam muttered in response,
“Some people are idiots.”

They laid in silence for a little while. It was a comfortable silence, the kind that didn’t leave them struggling to fill it and allowed them to sink into their own thoughts for a while. Finally, Dean’s eyes shifted to him and he said with a grin,
“I think I slept through lunch.”

Sam laughed and sat up on the bed. “Come on,” he took the other man’s arm, touch gentle, and helped him sit up, “I’ll heat it up for you.”

When Sam had helped Dean into bed that night, and given him pain meds for his obviously aching leg, he started to leave the bed-side. He paused as Dean reached out and caught hold of his wrist, turning his eyes back to the other man.

“Still need that warm teddy-bear,” Dean half-teased, a small smile curving his mouth.
Sam hesitated; after a moment, he nodded in agreement. He laughed nervously, suddenly shy, as the other man grinned and shifted over to make more room. Sam shed his jeans and his over shirt and, clad in boxers and a t-shirt, crawled beneath the blanket next to Dean.

He tensed as the other man pressed against his side, nervous again. It had been a very long time since he had shared a bed with another person, and he was unaccustomed to it. He relaxed, however, as Dean’s mouth brushed his jaw-line and the other murmured, “S’okay, Sammy.” When he shifted on his side and slid an arm over the other’s waist, Dean made a low sound of contentment. It sparked something in Sam and he tightened his hold, tugging the other man into his arms and against his chest.

He couldn’t stop his chuckle as Dean murmured, “Mm, cuddly, possessive Sam. I like that.” It occurred to him as he drifted off to sleep that he had laughed more in the past week than he had in the past six years.

It stopped snowing that night.

 

The snow had stopped, but the satellite signal was still down, and Sam couldn’t get the ATV to start. That alone was frustrating – he knew how to fix it, he just didn’t have the proper parts. And with drifts above his knees, there was no way he was about to let Dean attempt the three mile walk to his jeep (even they could even get the Jeep off the mountain in all this snow). Even with Sam’s help, the other man’s leg was broken, and it was too big a risk.

When he had voiced all of this to Dean, the other man had merely smiled and told him it was fine, they would get off the mountain when they got off the mountain. That was okay with Sam: he realized with that ache around his heart that he didn’t want the other man to disappear from his life.

So they spent the next week talking, and reading, and watching pre-recorded shows and DVDs. There was also quite a bit of touching – simple, casual touches, getting to know one another touches – and a couple of rather pleasant hand-jobs.

Sam’s feelings for the other man only intensified, and he knew he needed to put distance between them before Dean left his life for good. He couldn’t resist, though, when the other brushed fingers against his arm, or engaged him in conversation about his writing or Dean’s life in Nevada, or pressed up against him at night before falling asleep.

Every time he thought about Dean leaving, his heart felt like it was wrapped in iron and he couldn’t breathe. He battled it a thousand times a day, knew the day they descended the mountain was inevitable, but it certainly didn’t make it any easier.

 

Dean, for his own part, had known from the moment he woke from four days of unconsciousness and found himself staring into a pair of hazel eyes, that there was something about Sam that drew him in. Just as he had known, that moment when Sam had asked him how Cassie couldn’t love him, he was head over heels for the giant of a man whom had taken care of him with gentle touches and soft-spoken words.

He was impulsive sometimes, sure. It had been a moment of impulse to ask Cassie to marry him, even though he hadn’t been certain she loved him and he hadn’t been certain he loved her. It had been a moment of impulse to ask Sam to keep his hands on him, the day that massage had turned into more.

There was nothing impulsive about his feelings for the other man, however. He had never felt for Cassie, or anyone else, the way he felt for Sam. His heart had never done that skip-beat with her like it did when the other man glanced up at him suddenly, a smile on his mouth; or when Sam brushed a hand across his forehead, checking him for a fever. He had never felt every nerve in his body light up at Cassie’s touch, the way he did with Sam, nor had her voice driven him to the point of confessing any and everything the way Sam’s did: the way he felt, the way he was fine with staying up here on this mountain if it meant a little more time with the other man, the way he was absolutely, head over heels, in love with him.

So when Sam told him they were stuck on Odakota Mountain for a bit longer, Dean was just fine with that.

 

“How do you know so much about survival and first-aid and shit? You learn all that when you moved here?”

They were sitting on the couch, eating the lasagna Dean had made earlier (”You’ve been taking care of me since you found me, Sam. Let me do something for you. I can fix a mean lasagna. I think.”) and watching an episode of Doctor Sexy, MD.

Sam swallowed the bite of food he had been chewing and answered, “My dad was one of those survivalist nutjob types. He was in the military before he married my mom. He made me learn how to shoot when I was a kid, and catch my own food, and survive in the wild.”

“Wasn’t there some show on television a couple years ago, about that kind of stuff?” Dean asked, taking another bite of his food. It had turned out to be quite tasty; he was proud of himself.

“Which one?” Sam asked with an amused snort, “There have been dozens of them.”

“Uh.. The Survivalist, I think it was called? Or Survival Guy, or something like that. The guy had the same last name as you. Winchester.” The other man shot him a teasing grin, “That your dad?”

Sam cast him a glance from the corner of his eye, a slight flush touching his cheeks.

“No way,” Dean gave him an incredulous stare.

He nodded, a wry smile touching his lips, and the other repeated,
“No way! Survival guy is your dad?”

“Yeah,” Sam dropped his eyes to his food, “He was at some kind of .. I don’t know, survivalist retreat, teaching other people how to be paranoid lunatics like him, and there was an agent from one of those reality shows there. He offered John his own show, if John would go on television and do whatever the hell he did. I don’t know, I turned it off during the first episode and didn’t watch any of it after that.”

“Well..” Dean paused for a moment, choosing his words, “Sounds like an unusual life, but you turned out alright, right? And you know how to live out here on your own. Plus there’s the whole thing where you saved my life and all.”

The soft smile he gave Sam had the bigger man’s heart racing against his ribs. Like the organ was trying to find a way out so it could hop into Dean’s lap like a puppy.

And when did he start having insane, sappy thoughts like that, anyway?

 

Two mornings later, Sam got the ATV started.

He had been tinkering (again) with the ignition fuses, trying another attempt at rigging it with copper wire so it would run. He was bending the wire into shape when his eyes fell on the ignition coil. That was when he noticed that the wiring leading to the spark plug, next to the coil, was broken.

He scraped off some of the plastic tubing covering the wires and twisted the broken ends back together, then wrapped it with black electrical tape. Once that was finished, he rechecked the copper wire that was serving as a temporary fuse connector.

The machine started on the first try.

He let the machine run for a few minutes, to give the battery some charge, as he put away his tools. He was tinkering around the shed, checking his fuel cans and making a mental note of supplies he would need the next time he was in Custer, when he heard what sounded like a voice, carrying through the open shed door.

Sam stepped to the doorway, eyes automatically flicking toward the cabin. He was surprised to see Dean outside the cabin, trying to move through the thigh-high snow on his crutches.

“Dean?” Sam moved out of the shed and headed toward the man, whom halted upon seeing him, “What are you doing out here?”

“Thought I heard a motor,” the other man told him, “You got the ATV started?”

“Yeah,” he reached the man, whom was wearing boots, jeans and his heavy coat, “It was a broken wire. You need to get back inside. You can’t walk through all this snow with those crutches.” He moved in front of the man as he caught the man’s arm to help him back to the cabin. Dean hadn’t made it more than a few feet before Sam had spotted him, but the snow and ice beneath it still made walking on it precarious.

Once Dean was safely inside again, Sam went out to turn off the ATV. When he returned to the cabin, Dean had shrugged off his coat and was seated on the low, wooden stool Sam kept nearby. Sam couldn’t stop the smile which touched his mouth as he realized that Dean was glaring at his snow-covered boot laces of his left boot, fumbling with them in his attempt to remove them. The fact that he couldn’t reach them very well, with his leg splinted, wasn’t helping.

“May I -?” Sam motioned to the offending footwear as he knelt in front of the other man, and Dean nodded. He had the laces undone and the boot off the other in only a minute, then reached for the other. Once it was off, also, he helped the other man stand, and held his elbow so he wouldn’t slip on the snow-wet floor as Dean shed his snow-covered jeans.

He removed his own coat and boots and snow-covered jeans, then put on a pair of sweat pants and trainers. He swept the snow up out of the floor and out the front door, watching from the corner of his eye as Dean moved to the bed.

“So, we’re back in business,” the other man noted, tugging a blanket around his shoulders – he was still only in a t-shirt and his boxers, “with the ATV.”

“It’s running,” Sam agreed. “I can head out after breakfast and see if the roads are clear enough for my Jeep to make it down the mountain. We’ll have to figure out a way for you to ride the four-wheeler with your leg as it is.”

“That – that’s great,” Dean said softly as he traced his fingers along a pattern on the blanket. Sam couldn’t help but notice the lack of enthusiasm on the other man’s behalf.. or was that only wishful thinking on his part? Hoping that Dean didn’t want to leave?

“When are we going to try it?”

“Getting to Custer?” Sam shrugged a broad shoulder, “We can try this afternoon, if the roads are clear enough for the jeep. Making the entire trip down on the ATV would probably be too far, with your leg as it is.”

Dean only nodded, eyes still on the pattern he was tracing. Sam hesitated before offering, “Or we could.. could wait a day or two. See if the snow melts any. Whenever you want to go.”

“Need to let my parents know I’m not dead,” the other man murmured. After a moment, he raised his green eyes to Sam and said, “Tomorrow, if we can get off the mountain.”

Sam nodded, trying to ignore that iron band that was trying to tighten around his heart. His voice was almost normal as he agreed, “Tomorrow, then.” He cleared his throat and finished, “I’ll take the ATV after breakfast and go check out my jeep and the roads.”

 

Several hours later, Sam was starting his jeep to make certain it was running. It turned over on the second attempt and he let it run for a few minutes, climbing out to inspect the depth of the snow on the one road off the mountain.

The snow wasn’t as deep here, three miles down from his cabin, and he believed that his jeep, with its snow chained tires, would be able to make it down. He seated himself on the ATV as he let the Jeep run for a bit, his thoughts returning to the man back at the cabin.

He rubbed a gloved hand over his mouth as that ache started up in his chest again. Tomorrow, he would take Dean down the mountain and into Custer. Tomorrow, the man would call his family to come and retrieve him and take him home. Tomorrow, Dean would waltz out of his life.

And he would be here alone, with his cabin and his isolation and his writing and his heart, which felt already like it was crumbling with every beat.

 

When Sam made it back to the cabin a little over an hour later, he found that Dean had made an early dinner. The two ate and finished season one of Doctor Sexy. Dean helped him wash and dry the dishes, before the man finally said,
“Guess I should get my stuff together, huh?”

Sam nodded, watching in silence as the man hobbled across the room to grab his backpack and gather his things. Once Dean was finished collecting his belongings and shoving them in his pack, they spent the remainder of the evening on the couch, talking and watching movies. It was well after midnight before they decided to call it a night.

Sam tossed a couple chunks of wood in the wood-burning stove as Dean readied himself for bed. He glanced over at the other man as Dean called,
“You miss anything about living in civilization?”

The big man was silent for a moment, contemplating the question. “A dishwasher,” he answered finally as he crossed toward the other man – he grinned as Dean smirked at his response, “and central heat and air.” He almost added And I’ll miss you but bit back the words.

 

Dean ran his gaze over Sam as the big man approached the bed. If this was going to be his last night with the other man, he intended to make it count. His eyes flicked up to meet Sam’s beautiful, hazel gaze as the other asked softly, voice teasing, “Need your teddy bear tonight?”

The question was asked more as a courtesy than anything; Sam had spent every night in bed next to him since that first night.

“Mmhmm,” Dean hummed from his spot on the bed’s edge, studying the other. Sam glanced at him, immediately glanced away again (the big man was absolutely adorable when he was shy), and a slow smile curved Dean’s mouth.

“Come here.”

Hazel eyes shifted to him, and he repeated, voice dropping in pitch even as it hardened in tone, “Come here, Sam.” The big man swallowed and moved closer, halting several steps from him. Dean shifted his legs, spreading them slightly, and nodded toward the floor. He watched, a satisfied smirk touching his mouth, as Sam knelt in front of him.

“Closer,” he instructed; he watched in satisfaction as Sam shifted closer, moving between his spread legs. The hazel eyes watching him widened slightly, and Sam bit his lower lip, as he instructed, “Touch me.”

He saw the man’s throat move as the other swallowed, then Sam reached out his hand to brush it against Dean’s thigh. He chuckled, low and deep, and saw the shiver which ran through the bigger man.

Dean leaned closer – Sam shifted but went still as their eyes locked – and murmured, lips barely an inch from the other’s ear, “Such a tease. Touch my cock, Sammy.” He heard the ragged exhale, saw the way Sam shivered at the instruction; a smirk touched his mouth as he pulled back slightly, shifting his legs to spread them wider. Sam’s eyes fell to his groin – his erection was obvious in the thin layer of pajamas covering him – and the other man licked his lips. A moment later, fingers were brushing his dick, ghosting lightly over it, and a soft, low groan escaped his throat. He watched as Sam bit his bottom lip again; Dean had the urge to lean forward and catch that plush lip between his own teeth.

Sam’s hand pressed against his dick, his touch more firm, more sure, and Dean groaned again. His voice was husky with lust and pleasure as he asked,
“Going to let me fuck that pretty mouth, Sam?”
The soft, pleading “yes” from the other man had his dick twitching beneath the thin material covering them. Dean reached his hand out and caught hold of Sam’s longish hair, used it to pull the man closer.

“Do it,” he instructed, his lips a breath from Sam’s own, almost brushing them, “Suck me. Slide that pretty mouth down over my dick and suck me.”

Sam moaned softly; the sound sent a stab of lust through Dean, and he leaned forward and pressed his mouth against the other man’s. It was their first real kiss since starting this thing between them, and Dean made it count. He kissed Sam, long and thorough, his tongue slipping in between parted lips to explore and claim his mouth. Sam moaned again, fingers clutching at his thighs, as Dean used his hair as leverage, turning his head to deepen the kiss.

Both were breathing raggedly when they finally parted, and Dean tightened his grip on the other’s longish locks. “When’s the last time anyone kissed you like that?” he asked (though he knew the answer – six years, at least). He brushed his mouth against Sam’s throat, licking and nipping his way along the other’s jawline. Sam shivered and whispered, “Long time,” as he tilted his head to allow Dean better access to his throat.

Dean grazed the other’s throat lightly with his teeth, and Sam arched toward him with a soft gasp. “Look at you,” he murmured against the bigger man’s skin, “So responsive. Need this, don’t you? Been too long. Need someone to fuck that pretty mouth.”

When Sam gasped out a soft, “Please”, Dean leaned back and pulled the man’s head down. The other allowed it, reached for the waistband of his pajama pants with shaking hands. Moments later, Dean’s cock was freed from the material, and long fingers were brushing lightly down the length.

The older man growled and arched against the exploring fingers. His dick twitched as Sam leaned in close, breath ghosting over the head of it; moments later, the other man was tracing his cockhead with the tip of his tongue. It was soft, tentative, uncertain, and Dean had never felt anything better. He thrust up against Sam’s mouth; a low groan escaped his throat as the other’s mouth closed over him. His entire body shuddered in pleasure as Sam suckled lightly at the head of his cock, tongue tracing the crown and pressing into the slit.

“Feels good,” Dean muttered, eyes closed and fingers tangling in Sam’s umber locks, “Fuck, Sammy, your mouth feels good.” Another shudder ran through him as Sam took another inch, cheeks hollowed as the man sucked harder while tonguing his slit again.

He wasn’t going to last long at all with the other working him like he was. It was gentle, slow, thorough, and it was about to drive Dean mad. He shifted to press his good leg against Sam’s crotch, and the other man moaned around his shaft and arched against his leg. Dean opened his eyes and found the kneeling man’s hazel gaze on him; Sam sucked hard at his dick, once, twice, and he was coming, sudden and hard. “Fuck!” he cried in pleasure, gripping tight the other’s hair and thrusting up in his mouth. He felt the other swallowing down his come, fingertips digging into his hips and hard cock grinding against his leg, and it drew another spurt from him. Sam was licking him clean when Dean caught his breath; he gripped the other’s upper arms and pulled at them, urging the big man to his feet.

He didn’t hesitate as he reached for the button and zip of Sam’s jeans, undid them and shoved them down off the man’s hips. Moments later, he had the other’s dick free of his underwear and his mouth around it. Sam breathed a low “fuck, Dean!” as he licked a stripe up the underside of his shaft, before taking the head in his mouth again to suck and lick at it.

When Sam arched against him, shoving his dick deeper, Dean growled low in his throat and gripped the other man’s ass, jerking him closer. He slipped a hand between the other’s legs, brushed a thumb against his balls before squeezing them lightly, and Sam cried out in pleasure. Dean hummed in pleasure as the man began shooting down his throat, filling his mouth with his hot fluids; he swallowed it down as he sucked on the other’s dick, urging more out of him.

When Sam had finished shooting in Dean’s mouth, and Dean had licked his dick clean, he pulled off with a soft pop and a satisfied smirk. He raised his green gaze and found the younger man staring down at him, pupils blown, lips parted, and spots of color high on his cheekbones.

Sam closed his eyes and breathed out a soft, “fuck,” as Dean told him, “Taste good, Sammy.” He pulled the other close, hands still gripping the man’s firm ass, and pressed soft kisses against his hipbone.

His words were low but the other caught them as he murmured, “Going to miss you, you know.” He nipped lightly at the skin his mouth was pressed against, before sucking on it. By the time he was done, the skin was red and bruised: there would be a mark on Sam’s hip in the morning. He growled as he nipped at the other’s stomach, and hands caught in his hair, fingers brushing against his scalp, as Sam sighed in pleasure.

“I’ll miss you, too, Dean.”

He could hear the ache lacing the words, and it made him want to clutch tight the other man and hold onto him for the rest of his life. He wanted to tell the other man he had changed his mind, he wasn’t leaving this mountain unless Sam was going to go home with him. He closed his eyes as he rested his forehead against the other’s flat, toned stomach. Fingers brushed along the jaw that wasn’t bruised, trailed lightly down his neck, and the touch soothed him.

He wanted to stay, but he had to let his parents know he was alive. His arms tightened around the man’s waist for a moment; finally he pulled back, soft sigh escaping him, and released his hold. He slipped beneath the blankets, holding them open so Sam could join him.

He pressed close to the other man, closing the tiny gap between them, as Sam wrapped a strong arm around his waist and held him.

When the bigger man was asleep, breathing slow and even, Dean leaned in and brushed his mouth lightly against the other’s lips. He couldn’t stop the tear that slipped down his cheek as he whispered, “Love you, Sammy.”

 

Dean hated this day already. He hated that he was exiting the cabin, his pack slung over his shoulder, most of his weight on Sam but a little on his crutch. He hated that another blizzard hadn’t come during the night to snow them in. He hated that he was about to descend the mountain and, far too soon, leave the presence of the person he had fallen in love with over the past weeks.

What he did love, though, was the way Sam’s eyes flicked constantly to him, checking on him. He loved the way Sam looked out here, backlit by the morning sun and surrounded by far too much snow for Dean’s own good. He loved the small, sweet smiles the other man gave him.

“You sure you’re going to be okay?” Sam asked, shifting his own pack on his shoulders as he helped Dean on the ATV. The other had an uncle in Custer and planned on staying with him overnight.

“Just three miles, right?” he asked, shooting the other a smile, “If I can’t make it three miles, I may as well not even try.” He kind of wished he would fall off the ATV before they made it to the Jeep. Or that blizzard that didn’t happen during the night would hit them suddenly.

 

Sam made certain Dean was as comfortable as could be on the back of the ATV, then secured their packs to the wire basket on the back of the machine. When that was finished, he swung a long leg over the seat in front of the man and started the engine. Damn. He had been hoping it wouldn’t start.

He smiled as Dean’s arms slipped around his waist, glancing back at the other man. Dean winked, and he chuckled and put on his sunglasses, to protect his eyes from the snow. Dean did the same with a second pair Sam had given him, and Sam hit the gas, urging the machine forward.

The three-mile trip to the shed in which the Jeep was housed was fairly uneventful, if you didn’t count the fact that Sam’s heart was breaking a little more with each passing mile. He had an irrational urge to go barbarian, snatch Dean up and toss him over his shoulder and carry him back to the cabin to bar the door. He refrained, tempted as he was: Dean had a family who, in all likelihood, thought he was dead. The man needed to let them know that he was alive, and fairly well off, considering the circumstances. He had a fiancé (or did he? Their conversation last week had made it sound as if she wouldn’t be his fiancé for much longer, once Dean reached civilization). He had a life that didn’t include a snowy mountain and a social recluse.

They reached the Jeep, and Dean waited on the ATV while Sam backed it out of its shed. He left it running so it would warm up as he retrieved their packs and tossed them in the backseat. When that was finished, he helped Dean off the ATV. The man was struggling to position his crutches in the shin-deep snow; a surprised yelp escaped him as Sam leaned down suddenly and scooped him into his arms.

“Always picking me up like I’m the damsel in distress,” Dean chuckled, cheeks flushed with cold and maybe something more, his green gaze flicking to look at his face. Sam stared into his eyes for a long moment – the man had the most beautiful eyes he had seen in his life, hands down – before blinking and retorting, “Just call me Prince Charming.” He trudged through the snow, Dean in his arms and a smirk on his mouth. When he reached the Jeep, he gently deposited the man in the passenger seat, careful to avoid bumping his injured leg. He went back for the crutches which had been dropped when Sam picked the other man up: they went into the back seat with the packs.

Once the ATV was parked in the shed and the shed was locked, Sam climbed in the Jeep’s driver’s seat.

“Ready to head back to civilization?” he forced a smile on his face as he turned his eyes to his passenger.

“Full speed ahead, captain,” the other returned the smile; as he turned his head away to glance out the passenger window, Sam thought he heard him murmur, “Not ready at all.”

Six miles down a mountain, at 10 miles an hour, took a while. The trip was made in relative silence, Sam’s concentration on the dirt-covered-in-snow road, and both men lost in their thoughts. They reached a paved road almost an hour later, which allowed Sam to pick up speed.

“My uncle Bobby lives in Custer,” Sam told the man in the passenger seat as they headed for the town, “You can use his phone when we get there.”

“Okay,” Dean murmured quietly, eyes on the highway ahead. Sam cast him an uncertain glance – Dean had barely spoken a word since leaving the cabin – his teeth worrying his bottom lip. The other man glanced over at him suddenly; green eyes fell to his mouth, and a smile touched Dean’s lips.

Sam started, surprised, as the other man leaned over suddenly, shifting to close the distance that separated them between the seats, and pressed warm lips against his neck.

“Careful, Sammy,” he teased as Sam’s hand jerked on the wheel, causing the jeep to swerve a bit.

“Mm,” Sam tilted his head to allow the other man better access to his throat, his eyes on the road ahead, “Can’t help it, you’re a little distracting.” A low sigh of pleasure escaped him as Dean’s teeth nipped at his skin, followed by the feel of his tongue, licking the bitten spot.

By the time they reached Custer, Sam had a visible mark on his throat and a throbbing dick, and Dean had a satisfied smirk on his face.

After pulling into a gas station to fill up the Jeep (and give his erection time to ease), Sam made the short drive to his uncle’s. He helped Dean up the drive and up the steps in front of Bobby’s porch: they had just stepped onto the porch when the house’s front door opened.

“Sam!” Bobby Singer strode forward and immediately pulled the big man into his arms, hugging him tight, “Good to see you, son. I was starting to worry that you had eight foot of snow up there and couldn’t get out of your cabin.”

“Hey, Bobby,” he grinned down at his uncle, “Quite a bit of snow up there. Satellite’s down so I couldn’t email you to let you know everything was okay.” He turned and stepped aside so his uncle could better view Dean – the older man had spotted him immediately, Sam knew.

“This is Dean Campbell,” he introduced, “Dean, my uncle, Bobby Singer.”

“Nice to meet you, Sir,” Dean greeted, hobbling forward on his crutches to extend his hand. Bobby returned the greeting as he grasped Dean’s hand, curious gaze flicking to Sam.

“I’ll tell you inside,” Sam promised, “It’s cold out here, and Dean needs to borrow your phone.”

 

Sam and Dean were seated on Bobby’s couch a short while later, and Sam had just finished telling his uncle how he had found Dean and how the storm had kept them from town until now.

“Damn, son,” his uncle said to Dean, handing them each a beer he had retrieved from his kitchen, “you’re lucky you survived that fall.”

“I am,” Dean agreed with a slight smile, “Luckier Sam was up there to find me.” Green eyes shifted to Sam at the words, and Sam met his gaze and smiled.

 

Bobby Singer had seen a lot of things in his days. He had seen children born, he had seen men die. He had seen his brother, John, in his full-blown gung-ho survival mode. He had seen Sam grow up and step away from John’s lifestyle and live his own life. He had lost his wife to a tragic disease before ever having children of his own.

He had watched his nephew – more like a son to him - battle with society anxiety for years, anxiety that had sent him up into the mountains (though he suspected part of it was some type of PTSD, from John Winchester’s fanatic survivalist lifestyle). He had seen hatred between people, he had seen indifference, and he had seen love.

The look the two men on the couch were giving one another, that was love.

Bobby swallowed down anything he might have said, not wanting to break the moment between the other two. It had broken his heart when Sam had chosen a life on Odakota Mountain, when he had isolated himself from most of the rest of the world. He understood, but it had hurt to see his nephew so shaken up by the world around him. He had worried, ever since the cabin had been built, that Sam would spend the rest of his life alone. Seeing him look at Dean the way he was, laugh at the other man and stare at him like he hung the moon, sent a tiny splinter of hope through him. At the same time, it worried him: Dean had mentioned living in Nevada, and it looked like he was about to head back there.

He blinked and raised his eyes to Sam as his nephew asked, “Mind if Dean borrows your phone? He kinda needs to let his family know he’s alive.”

“Kinda,” Dean agreed with a smirk.

When Bobby handed Dean his cell phone, Sam asked gently, “Want some privacy?” The other man shook his head quickly, causing Sam to tilt his head. Dean cleared his throat and said, “I – wouldn’t mind if you stayed.” Sam nodded, and the other man shot him a look of relief. Sam watched him dial a number from memory; moments later, he spoke into the phone,
“Hey, Cas.”
There was a brief pause, then, “Yeah, it’s really me.”
Sam could hear through the cell’s speakers the voice at the other end of the line, Dean, oh my God, Dean. We thought – Dean. Are you okay? You’re okay? Where are you? What happened? Michael said – holy fuck, Dean, you’re alive.

Dean chuckled softly and answered the frantic questions coming from the other end, “Yeah, Cas, I’m okay. I’m in Custer, South Dakota.” “Yeah, at the base of Odakota Mountain.” “No, had someone come to my rescue. I’ll tell you about it when I see you.” “Yeah, yeah. Listen, I need a lift. Think you can arrange something?” “Thanks. Hey, don’t tell anyone else, okay?” “No, not even Michael or Gabe or Cassie.” Sam saw the man tense, a muscle in his jaw twitching. “Yeah, yeah. Want to surprise them.” “Thanks, man.” Just before he ended the call, a soft smile touched his lips, one which stabbed Sam right in the heart. “Missed you too, Cas.”

“Thanks,” Dean said softly to Bobby as he handed the man his cell phone. His eyes shifted to Sam. He swallowed, a look of pain crossing his features; Sam was at his side in two strides, pulling the man into his arms. Dean’s arms slipped around his waist and he pressed his forehead against his chest for a moment. Finally, he lifted his head and informed,

“Cas has a small charter plane. Charters out lifts to adventure sights for people. He’s going to fly out and pick me up.”

Sam swallowed down the No, don’t go! that wanted to crawl out of his throat, opting to nod instead. “How long?” he managed instead, voice rough with emotion he was trying to suppress.

“About four hours,” the smaller man answered, pressing his forehead against Sam’s chest again.

“How about I get you boys some lunch while you wait?” Bobby suggested softly, clapping a hand down on Sam’s shoulder. Sam nodded, and the man headed off for the kitchen.

“Maybe we should take you to the hospital while you wait,” Sam suggested, arms still around the other man and eyes on the far wall, “Make sure I didn’t screw up that splint, or –“

“Sam..”

His gaze shifted to Dean, and he found the man staring at him with a mournful look on his face.

“Dean?”

“Fuck,” the other man stepped back, putting a bit of space between them, and ran a hand through his hair, “Fuck, Sam. I’m – I’m going to miss you. I know it’s weird, I know I should be happy to go home, but – I’m going to miss you.”

“Going to miss you too, Dean,” he whispered, swallowing hard as he met the other’s gaze. He watched as Dean gripped his crutches tighter, eyes on the floor: a moment later, the man was in his space again, pressing up against him and pressing his mouth against Sam’s.

The kiss was brief but it was searing, full of everything neither of them could speak aloud. When they parted, Dean shot him a soft smile and brushed fingers against his cheek. “Going to miss you,” the man repeated softly.

Bobby chose that moment to return to the living room: it was probably the only thing that kept Sam from falling to his knees in front of Dean and begging the other man to stay.

 

Four hours later, they were standing against Sam’s Jeep at the Custer County airport. They watched as a small charter plane touched down smoothly, rolling down the landing strip, finally coming to a full stop.

Minutes later, the plane’s small loading door opened and a man appeared. He jumped down out of the small plane and headed in their direction; he had gone only a short distance before he was running.

“Dean,” the man reached them, breathless, and pulled Dean into his arms. Sam tensed, ready to warn the man about Dean’s injuries, but found there wasn’t any need: the man, Castiel Novak, was careful in his embrace.

“Dean,” Castiel stepped back, hands on Dean’s arms to study him, “It’s so good to see you. You look terrible. Thank the higher powers that you’re alive!” He hugged Dean again – Dean chuckled and returned the embrace – and Sam’s heart caught in his throat as he saw the tears slipping down the pilot’s face. He swallowed hard at the sight: he had wanted to keep Dean with him, when the man had family, friends, whom had thought him dead. He still wanted to keep Dean with him, but he knew he had to let the other man go home to his family.

“Cas,” Dean murmured, finally pulling out of Cas’s embrace, “This is Sam. Sam Winchester. He rescued my sorry ass up on that mountain. Sam, this is my best friend, Castiel Novak.”

“Hey,” Sam greeted, nodding to the man and giving him a genuine smile, “Nice to meet you.” He watched as Castiel moved to stand in front of him; he blinked in surprise, eyes flying to Dean, as the smaller man embraced him, suddenly and tightly. He hesitated a moment before returning the embrace, if in a somewhat awkward fashion. He rolled his eyes at Dean, smile curving his mouth, as the other man chuckled.

“Thank you,” Cas said solemnly when he finally pulled away, “for saving Dean’s life.”
“You’re welcome,” Sam replied, swallowing against the emotion that tried to rise up again, “He – you’re welcome.”

Sam watched as Castiel picked up Dean’s pack and, nodding to them, headed for the plane. He turned to Dean as the other man moved closer and said softly, “I guess this is goodbye.”

Fuck. Sam closed his eyes for a moment and nodded yes, then opened them to whisper, “I guess so.” He pulled Dean into his arms - one last time, his mind whispered – and hugged the other man. Dean returned the embrace, hugging him tightly and pressing his forehead against Sam’s chest. When they parted enough to look at one another, the man told him sincerely, “Thank you, Sam. For saving my life. For – for everything.”

He couldn’t speak, only nodded. Dean hugged him once more, an embrace he gladly returned, before pulling away. The man adjusted his crutches and started toward the plane, but paused and glanced back over his shoulder. Sam stared in shock, eyes wide, when Dean shot him a sad smile and told him, “I love you, Sam.”

Dean was up the steps and boarding the plane before Sam’s brain came back online. He swallowed, fighting down the tears that were threatening to fall, and called, voice hoarse, “Dean!”

Dean turned to look at him, and Sam swallowed hard again and called, “I love you too, Dean.” He saw the other man close his eyes and bow his head, saw the sad smile which still touched his mouth. A moment later, Castiel was shutting the plane’s door and Dean was gone from his sight.

It wasn’t until the plane was in the air, and he was seated behind the wheel of his Jeep, that he let himself cry. For the first time in a very, very long time, Sam Winchester cried.

 

Dean was staring out the plane’s window, watching the passing mountains and clouds, his thoughts on the man he had left standing on the runway. His eyes shifted to Castiel as his best friend told him,

“We thought you were – we searched for you when Michael said you were lost out there. Tried with planes and choppers, for as long as we could, but there was a lot of mountain to cover. Then the storm grounded us the third day, and the mountain was impassable. I’m just glad your friend – Sam is his name? – I’m glad Sam found you, or –“ Cas swallowed and shot him a glance, then said softly, “I thought you were dead, Dean.”

“I know, Cas,” he reached out and clasped his best friend’s shoulder, squeezing lightly, “But I’m okay. I got lucky, I’m okay.”

Cas nodded and piloted in silence for several minutes. There was a smile on his face as he said, “Your parents are going to be ecstatic.”

“How are they?” he felt slightly guilty that he hadn’t asked before now.

“They were devastated,” the other man answered truthfully, “They believe you’re – They’ll be so happy to see you, Dean. Gabe and Cassie and Mike will, too.”

Dean was silent for several seconds, before shifting his gaze to his friend. “Cas.”

“Yes, Dean?”

“We need to talk about Mike..”

 

They landed in Nevada four hours later, exiting the plane and climbing straight into Cas’s car. They stopped by the Gabriel Novak's apartment on their way to the Campbell ranch, long enough to inform him of Dean’s return. Gabriel reacted by promptly choking on the mint he had in his mouth, forcing Cas to do the Heimlich on him. When the man was breathing again, he threw his arms around Dean (gently, because of his injuries) and hugged him and kissed his face over and over. It was heart-warming and reassuring and it chased away some of Dean’s sadness at leaving South Dakota.

Gabriel climbed into the backseat of the car, sitting behind Cas so Dean wouldn’t have to move his seat forward. By the time they reached the Campbell estate, the middle brother was clued in on what had happened up in those mountains, and he was very nearly demanding Michael Novak’s blood.

Dean entered Nathan and Rose Campbell’s large home a short while later, and hobbled down the hall of the too-large house with the help of his crutches and Cas and Gabe. His parents were in the kitchen when he finally found them, his father reading a paper and his mother watching some talk show. The sound of the television on the corner of the counter drowned out their approach, and gave him a moment to study them. They looked tired, he noted. It wasn’t until he spoke, “Hey mom, hey dad,” that their eyes snapped to him.

Castiel had been correct when he had stated they would be thrilled to see him. His father stood, dropping his coffee cup to the floor – it shattered at his feet – and his mother screeched his name and nearly leaped over a kitchen chair in front of her to reach him, shoving it out of her way when it slowed her up.

“Whoa, easy,” he couldn’t stop the laugh that escaped his throat as his parents embraced him, both asking questions and his mother pelting his face with kisses.
“My baby, my baby,” she kept murmuring, running her hands over his face and through his hair.

Dean dropped his crutches to the floor and pulled them both close in an embrace, eyes closed to hold back the tears. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, “I’m sorry. I didn’t have a way to let you know, not until I made it off the mountain. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

Ten minutes later, they were in the sitting room and Dean was repeating his rescue story. He was emotional already at seeing his parents, seeing how tired and lost they looked, and then their reaction on seeing him alive; he couldn’t stop himself from choking up a bit as he told them about Sam, and how the man had saved his life and taken care of him.

When he was finished with his story and had dried his eyes and was thoroughly, emotionally exhausted, his mother told him, “Oh sweetie, Cassie is going to be so happy! We need to call her, right now!”

Dean exchanged a look with Cas, whose brows furrowed at the mention of his fiancé’s name. Behind him, Gabriel looked equally livid. Rose was an observant woman, and didn’t miss the exchanged looks.

“What is it, Dean?” she asked, glancing from him, to Castiel, to Gabriel, “What’s wrong? And where’s Michael? Why isn’t he here? Does he know you’re okay? He feels so guilty that he had to come back without you, it broke his heart.”

Dean laid his head back against the couch, eyes on the ceiling, and steeled himself. He exhaled as Cas dropped a hand on his shoulder, squeezing lightly. He wished like hell that Sam were with him, but he was nonetheless grateful for Castiel and Gabriel’s presence. He met his mother’s green gaze, so similar to his own, and then his father’s blue eyes: they were watching him, concern on their faces.

Taking a deep breath, Dean started, “I need to tell you the rest of what happened on that mountain.”

After sharing the details of his best friend’s and fiancé’s betrayals (and huffing a surprised laugh as his mother’s vehement threats to yank Cassie’s hair out and shove her down an oil well somewhere) , Dean just wanted to be alone. Three weeks on the mountain, with Sam as his only company, had him accustomed to quiet talks and solitude. Now that he was home, he was surrounded by well-meaning people who loved him, but it was taking its toll on him. He wanted to be alone. He wanted to sleep for a week. He wanted Sam.

Instead, he got a trip to the hospital to make certain his leg was healing properly and to check him for any as-of-yet undiscovered injuries. Three hours and a multitude of x-rays (and an MRI) later, and a cast on his lower leg, and he was finally sitting in his doctor’s office.

“Your leg looks good, Dean,” his doctor since he was a child, Fergus Crowley, told him, studying the x-rays on the light board, “Whoever splinted it for you knew what they were doing.”

“Yeah,” Dean agreed softly, eyes dropping to his leg, “He was pretty amazing.” He raised his eyes after a moment and found the Scot giving him a shrewd look. The man smiled after a moment and handed him several prescription slips.

“For pain,” the man nodded to the slips, “and one to help you sleep, if you need it. We’ll have the rest of your results in a few days, but it seems you’re doing quite well. I’m prescribing a lot of rest until you’ve recovered from all of this.

“Thanks, doc,” Dean extended his hand, and the man clasped it.
He was at the door when Doctor Crowley called after him, “It’s good to have you home, Dean.”

When he was finally at his parents’ (they insisted on having him stay his first night back at their place), and in one of the bedrooms, lying in bed, he found the bed to be too cold, too empty, too without Sam.

When he finally fell asleep, head hurting and body aching from too much exertion, he dreamed of warm hazel eyes and a soft smile and strong arms holding him.

 

In a guest room in his uncle’s house in Custer, South Dakota, that very same night, Sam Winchester lay in bed and stared up at the ceiling and thought about green eyes and a playful smirk. And his heart ached.

 

Michael Novak looked as if he had seen a ghost.

Castiel and Gabe had driven Dean to Michael’s town home the next morning. He didn’t have any desire to confront the man, or ever even see him again, but he knew it was inevitable, so he decided he wanted it done and over.

He was hobbling up the walkway, the Novak brothers flanking him, when he heard voices coming through the open window. He paused, eyes flicking to Cas, as he heard Michael’s voice,

“I can’t do it, Cassie!”
“Just calm down,” the second voice was Dean’s fiancé (former fiancé, he reminded himself); she was inside with Michael.
“Calm down?” they heard Michael demand, anger tracing the words, “How the hell can I calm down? I did this all for you. I left my best friend on that mountain because you said we couldn’t be together as long as he was in the picture. It’s eating me alive, Cassie. I can’t sleep, every time I try I see his face..” There was a pause before Michael finished, voice low and barely reaching them, “He was my best friend, Cassie, my brother. I loved him. I -- fuck. You didn’t see the hurt on his face.”

“Sweetie, take it easy,” Cassie’s voice again, “The money will be in my account in a few days and then we can leave here. Together.”

“Money,” Michael scoffed, “It’s all you’ve talked about since – since I returned. It’s all you care about. I’m starting to wonder if you even love me, or if you used me to do your dirty work for you. Is that is? Did I betray my best friend so you could have his money?”

“Of course I love you, Mike! You need to calm down, you're freaking out. Without that money, we can’t leave here. I miss him, too, Mike, but it had to be done so we could be together.”

They heard a heavy sigh, then Michael mutter, “I need to think.”
Footsteps sounded, moving closer; a moment later, the front door of the town home opened. Michael Novak stepped outside, raised his eyes, and froze.

He looked as if he was seeing a ghost. Dean supposed he might be thinking he was.

“Mike,” he greeted with a tight smile, “Bet you didn’t think you would be seeing me anytime soon.”

“Dean,” the other man whispered, face pale and eyes wide.

Dean’s eyes shifted to the front door as Cassie stepped into view. “Dean?” her eyes widened upon seeing him; a moment later, a grin split her mouth, “Dean! You’re alive!” She moved around Michael, whom was still frozen in place, and headed for him, arms open.

The woman faltered, coming to a stop, when Castiel moved between them and growled, “You stay away from him.”
Her brown eyes flickered from Castiel to him, and she started, “Dean, what - ?”

“We heard everything, Cassie,” Gabriel moved to stand next to Cas, putting himself between the woman and Dean, “We heard everything you just said to Mike. Dean told us what happened on that mountain.”

All eyes shifted to Michael as the man finally moved, taking a step forward. “Dean,” he repeated Dean’s name; a moment later, he was on his knees, face buried in his hands.

Dean swallowed, brow furrowing, as he heard his once-best friend sobbing. The man had betrayed him – hell, the man had tried to kill him – but it hurt him still to hear him crying. He shifted uneasily on his crutches as, a moment later, Michael raised tear-filled eyes to look at him.

“I am so sorry, Dean,” the man spoke, tears slipping down his face, “I am – oh God, Dean, I am so sorry. You’re – thank God you’re alive, I am so, so sorry for what I did.”

Dean’s eyes shifted from the sobbing man on the ground, to his former fiancé’, as the woman started, “Dean, honey..”

“I knew I couldn’t trust you, Cassie,” he interrupted her, “Not completely. Not like –“ He cut himself off, biting back the words (not like I trust Sam), and shook his head, “And sorry to burst your bubble, sweetheart, but you won’t be getting a single dime from me or from my will.”

His eyes shifted to Gabriel as the man told Cas, “Why don’t you take Dean home, Cas? Mike and I are going to have a little chat, right after I run this treasonous bitch out of here.”

Dean nodded and followed after Cas as the youngest Novak gently clasped his shoulder and instructed softly, “Come along, Dean. I’ll take you home.”

His parents and friends asked him to press charges. Castiel and Gabriel stayed right by his side as he filed into the police station that afternoon, even though it was their brother he was implicating. He apologized to the brothers once, unable to shake that guilty feeling, only to have Cas look him in the eyes and tell him,
“You never apologize for this, Dean. He betrayed you. He hurt you and tried to do worse. He’ll get what he deserves, and it’s his own fault, not yours. Don’t you ever apologize for this again.” It was followed by an embrace that, embarrassingly enough, had him in tears. He blamed it on exhaustion and the emotional turmoil of the past few weeks.

He re-wrote his will that afternoon, removing Cassie’s name from it altogether.

 

Life went on, as it tends to do. Dean went back to his own apartment, throwing everything that belonged to his former fiancé and his former best friend into the trash. He went back to work at his father’s office. He answered questions about his rescue, shortening his story to save time and personal details to “This guy who lived on the mountain found me and fixed me up and got me into town”. He had dinner at his parents, he hung out with his friends, he re-read the steam punk novels that he had found intriguing months before falling off a mountain side.
And he missed Sam.

A little over a week after his return home, Dean was having dinner with his parents. He was picking at his food more than eating it, his thoughts on the man living on a mountain, several states away. He raised his eyes as he heard his mother ask,

“Dean, honey, are you alright? You’ve seemed so.. down, lately.”

“Yeah,” he shot her a smile, “I’m okay, mom.”

“I know it’s difficult, dear, but you’ll get over Cassie in time.”

“Huh?” he raised green eyes to look at the woman, “Oh, I was over her before I made it off the mountain.”

“Ah,” his father sat down the coffee cup he was holding, “Your mysterious mountain man, then. Sam. The one you’re talking about all the time.”

Dean smiled, a blush creeping up his cheeks. “Am I?” he asked, glancing at them before dropping his eyes to his plate. He raised them again as his mother giggled and said gently,
“More than you ever talked about Cassie, dear.”

Dean only nodded, swallowing hard at the truth in his mother’s words. He raised his eyes again as she gave an exasperated laugh and informed him,
“There are these things called plane tickets, Dean. Even to South Dakota.” She smiled at him fondly and added, “Idiot.”

 

Three days later, Sam was staring down at his laptop, at his uncle Bobby’s face. His satellite connection had come back online several days ago, and he and his uncle were Skyping.

“How you doin’ up there anyway?” the older man asked, “You look tired.”

“I’m fine,” Sam ran a hand through his hair, pushing it away from his forehead, “It’s – it’s fine.” He shot the other a slight smile as he admitted, “A little ..lonely, up here.”

Bobby raised a brow, staring at him through the monitor. “Lonely?” the man repeated, head tilted, “Six years you’ve lived up there, and I’ve never once heard you say you were lonely.” The man raised his brows, “Missing a certain green-eyed rescue case?”

“Shut up, Bobby,” Sam huffed a laugh, flushing and ducking his head.

“Why don’t you get in touch with him, Sam? Can’t be that hard to find a phone number or something?”

Sam sighed and ran his hand through his hair again, “I – don’t know, Bobby. It – It would hurt too much.”
In truth, he was a little scared. Afraid that Dean’s feelings had been a product of isolation up here on the mountain, with only him as company. Afraid the other had decided it had all been a mistake, or something done in the heat of the moment. Afraid Dean didn’t want him anymore.
Afraid his heart was going to break more than it was already.

His uncle raised a brow and told him, “There are these things called plane tickets, you know. Even to Nevada. Ya idjit.”

Before he could respond, the other man told him, “Someone’s at the door. I’ll call you later.”

“Bye, Bobby.”

The call ended, and Sam sighed and leaned back against the couch, thinking about what his uncle had just said. He supposed a vacation to Nevada could be a possibility..

 

Two hours later, Sam heard the sound of a motor outside the cabin. He pushed himself up from the couch and his laptop, where he had been emailing his publisher, and went to the cabin’s door. Just as he reached it, a knock sounded against the sturdy wood. Sam opened the door, to find his uncle Bobby. His eyes shifted to the man standing with him, and Castiel Novak greeted,

“Hello, Sam.”

 

Dean was sitting in his office the following morning, trying to get some work done. He raised his head from a stack of papers as his secretary knocked on his door. “This just came for you, Mr. Campbell,” the woman told him, crossing to his desk and laying a package on it. She left the office to go back to her work, and Dean glanced down at the flat, rectangular box. There wasn’t a return address, and he picked it up to inspect it. His brows furrowed in confusion as he noticed that there wasn’t any postage on the package, yet there was a postmark. His eyes fell on the postmark, and his heart leapt in his throat.

Custer, South Dakota.

Dean’s hands were shaking as he tore open the package, his heart racing as if he was running a marathon or falling off the side of a mountain. When he finally managed to open it, muttering a curse at his shaking fingers, he found a book. His heart was practically crawling out between his ribs, adrenaline creating a pulling, burning sensation in his chest and stomach, as he read the title and the author name: Out of Time: Forward and On by Samantha Chesterfield.

Dean swallowed hard as he spotted something sticking out from beneath the book’s pages. He pulled it free, to find a short, hand-written note:
Dean,
You liked the first two, so I thought I would send you the first printed copy of the final book.
Hope you’re doing well.
I miss you.
Love Sam

He stared at the note for a long minute, reading and rereading it, before he folded it carefully and slipped it back between the book’s pages. He took a moment to study the front cover before flipping it open. There was a post-it note sticking up between the first pages of the book, so he flipped past the table of contents, searching for the page it was marking. Dean paused as he landed on the dedication page.

His heart did that jump-leap-flip thing all over again as he read the book’s dedication:
For Dean, who showed me that I’ve been hiding for far too long, and who walked away with my heart.

Dean swallowed yet again, trying to calm his racing thoughts. He laid the book carefully on the desk before fumbling for his desk phone, hands shaking more than ever. His first attempt to dial a number was a complete fail, so he took a breath and tried again, punching in the numbers from memory. As soon as the phone was answered from the other end, he started to speak, not even waiting for a greeting,
“Cas, I need to get back to South Dakota. I need to go now. It – “

The man turned, startled, as he heard the deep, rough voice of the very man to whom he had been speaking say,
“Well, that would be a waste of time. I brought South Dakota to you.”

Castiel was standing in the doorway, cell phone in hand and head tilted in amusement. Dean’s eyes weren’t on him, however; they were on the tall, tall man behind him, the man whom was watching him with beautiful hazel eyes and a soft smile on his face.

“Sam,” he breathed, heart skittering along his ribs again. He dropped the phone to the desk and reached out, fumbled for his crutches with shaking hands, knocking one over in the process. Before he had a chance to reach for it, strong hands were on his shoulders, holding him so he didn’t fall.

“It’s okay, Dean,” Sam murmured, leaning in to brush their mouths together, “I’ve got you.”