Sam lurches back into the familiar motel room, eyes still stinging with unshed tears. Good old room 118. He really didn’t need that short and painful conversation with Amelia on top of what Dean just pulled. He really didn’t. Throwing his duffle onto the table he slams into the bathroom, quickly getting ready for bed. He’s so tired he barely has enough energy to make it through his usual routine. Fighting with Dean, the long drive to Texas full of worry about Amelia, and then seeing her has really taken it out of him.
Once he’s finally lying in bed, he of course isn’t tired, and his mind won’t stop racing with so many thoughts of Dean and Amelia and Don and Benny and worst of all poor Martin dead because of them. It just won’t end, thought after thought of what he could have done differently, why he’s so angry at Dean who’s being so different he barely feels like he knows him anymore. Round and round it goes until he gives up and gets the flask out of his duffle, slugging back half of it with a couple of the mild aspirin sleeping pills that usually work.
The Christmas movie channel is in full swing so he leaves that on the TV to have something nice to fall asleep to. Patrick Stewart’s voice is so melodious and soothing whether he’s being Captain Jean Luc Picard or Ebenezer Scrooge, who knew.
He awakens to a rather loud knocking in what seems like just a second later, and stumbles to the door, opening it to find an insubstantial and non-demony Brady hovering on his motel room doorstep. “Hey Dude! Long time no see!” Brady booms out cheerily.
“So what am I dreaming?” Sam asks, yawning hugely, opening the door wider so Brady can float on in.
“Something like that, with a little help. Guess who I’m supposed to be?”
“A reminder that I’ve never been a great judge of character?”
“Hah! That works, and also I’m The Ghost Of Christmas Wasn’t”
“Isn’t that supposed to be Ghost of Christmas Past?”
“Yeah usually, but not for you Sam, you get the special treatment for some reason, so let’s go, lots to do, past to get to, memories to visit, all that.”
He sees Dean trying to make some extra money for food and maybe presents if he’s lucky since they’ve run out of what Dad left them. He sees a much younger Dean, struggling through the snow to a dilapidated house on the edge of a small town. He sees himself, about ten years old, sitting at a rickety Formica top table bent over a notebook, scowling and writing furiously. When Dean comes in the door, he witnesses himself absolutely lighting up, smiling with happiness just to see his teenaged brother come in with a couple bags.
Sam sees his brother’s relief written all over his face, that he’s safe, the worry dropping off his face like the melting snow outside. He marvels at that full-watt Dean smile on his young face, and realizes how much he’s missed seeing his brother’s real smile, not the fake one he perfected in their year of Leviathan hunting. That’s all it ever took, was just knowing that Sam was safe, Dean’s pretty straight-forward that way. He remembers once again that's always been the prime directive of Dean's life, keeping his little brother safe.
“You know he didn’t send that message to hurt you right? He couldn’t think of any other way to get you to leave so that he could handle things with Benny.” Brady says.
“I guess.” Sam admits.
“Shady mean you guess? Sam, you haven’t told him jack squat about Amelia or even mentioned Don, how the hell was he even supposed to know this clusterfuck was a possibility. He’d never do that to you on purpose.” Brady insists.
“You don’t know how he is now, after Purgatory, I wouldn’t put it past him at this point.”
“Sammy, what’d he tell you just a month ago? That he knows where he’s at his best, driving down crazy street right next to you. When does he ever say shit like that out loud to you?”
“I know, I know, it’s just, he’s so, different. I don’t understand him anymore, he’s not himself.”
“Why’s that, because of Purgatory?”
“Yeah, he hasn’t told me about it yet, and he’s so touchy about everything so I haven’t asked.”
“To him that means you don’t care. Because you always ask. Every single time Sammy. And you don’t ever give up until you make him talk, and you haven’t done that this time.”
“Huh.” Sam says, struck mostly speechless because he’d never thought of it this way, Dean’s so sensitive of course he’s going to misinterpret his non-inquiry as not caring. “So he’d probably still be thinking that I’m just wanting to get out of hunting and leave him right away too since I haven’t said anything since that first conversation.”
“Yup. C’mon you know him, Sammy! You gotta spell stuff like this out for him. Clearly. E-nun-ci-ate and all that. Just tell him you’ve changed your mind, hell maybe even tell him you never really meant it in the first place, because we both know you didn’t.”
They both hear an engine revving, it sounds like it might be just outside the door.
“Is that the Impala?”
“Yeah, something like that, I guess it’s time for us to get back. Good luck with the next one Sammy, you’re gonna need it.”
It seems like only moments that he’s been back asleep before there’s another knock at the door of room 118. Sam groans and gets up slowly, if this dream is going to follow the movie or book he only has two more of these visitations to get through. He reluctantly opens the door, hit with a blast of cold night air and is surprised to see a wispy, see-through young teenaged Dean. The teenaged Dean of his fondest memories, cocky grin, spiked hair, swimming in Dad’s oversize leather jacket, amulet gleaming softly on his chest.
“How can you even be a ghost? You’re not dead yet! You better not be or I’ll kill you!”
“I’m not really a damn ghost Sammy, just take the stick outta your ass and go with it wouldja?” Ghost Dean pushes him none too gently out the door.
“Where we goin’?” Sam asks.
“Well, I’m the Ghost of Christmas Not-So-Much, so not that far, you’ll see.” Ghost Dean holds out a wispy hand and Sam grabs onto it, then they’re floating down into a graveled bar parking lot, half the neon letters are out, so all Sam can make out is R*D RO*S*ER. He recognizes it as a bar a couple towns over from Kermit, back on the highway towards Louisiana. And of course there’s the Impala parked right near where they’ve appeared, gleaming dangerously in the dim floodlight.
“You,…uh, he in there?” Sam asks hesitantly, not wanting to see what sort of state Dean’s in tonight.
“Yes I am..I mean, he is. Better go inside and see this.”
They float through the door and see Dean slumped at the end of the bar; most of the bar’s patrons are standing up and looking over at him angrily. The jukebox is playing Metallica’s “Fade To Black”, judging by the digital counter that Sam can read this is the sixth time. In a row. Guess not everyone is into sad arena rock on Christmas Eve, Dean really should know better. The bartender is trying to get Dean’s attention, but Dean’s intent on finishing his glassful of whisky. He sets it down abruptly and stands up; swaying so much Sam’s surprised to see he doesn’t fall over. He throws a twenty down at the bartender and drunk swaggers his way out of the bar, belting out the lyrics in time with the song,
“No one but me can save myself
But it's too late
Now I can't think
Think why I should even try”
Sam follows him so he can see the look on Dean’s face as he keeps singing one of the saddest songs he’s ever heard, all about giving up and suicide; he’s always loathed this one, Dean would only play it when he was feeling his worst, and Sam couldn’t ever bring himself to ask him not to, “He really means this doesn’t he?” he asks Ghost Dean.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I do…uh, he does this time.” Ghost Dean tells him with a pained, sad look on his face.
“Is there anything I can do?” Sam asks, sounding desperate to his own ears.
Ghost Dean touches him on the shoulder gently, “Not right now, but when you get back, maybe.”
“You know him, right? What does he need to get right again, is it something I can help him with?”
“Sammy, all I ever needed was you. It’s still true even for him now. You know that after all this time don’t you?”
“I guess, but I wasn’t enough for him anymore. Now he’s got other people that are more important to him.” Sam says, feeling the deep sadness he’s been carrying welling up in his chest. A sadness borne of feelings of inadequacy, rejection, maybe even a deeper-down jealousy he’d never admit to.
“You’re a real piece of work you know that? Guess you never grew out of it. He needs you more than ever now, you know he shouldn’t be trusting either Cas or Benny right? Not with his safety, and not with his heart. How can you just give up on him like this? I thought you loved him.” Ghost Dean argues.
“I do, of course I do. And I haven’t given up on him, I haven’t, I would never, I never have.” Sam protests.
“Well, that’s how it looks to him right now. Listen, I know he hasn’t explained the whole Benny thing to you, and he’s the one that was most suspicious of Cas getting out so easily, but Sam, you’ve got to put all that aside and help him. Just stick with him, get him through this. It ain’t gonna be pretty.”
“What’s not gonna be pretty?” Sam asks.
“When they let him down, like you know they’re gonna.” Ghost Dean replies, sounding so certain, and heart-breakingly resigned.
“Well he’s already made sure I know over and over again that I’ve let him down. Hard to think he’d care much what I do.”
“Oh he cares Sam, course he does. ‘Bout all he cares about really, whether or not you know it, he’s always wondering if you’re gonna be there for him. Yeah he thinks you’ve let him down, but you’re the only one that ever gets to do that. Right now he thinks he’s so screwed up that you don’t want anything to do with him.”
They see Dean try to get into the Impala several times, unable to get the key in the lock, he collapses near the back tire in an untidy heap. His right cheek has a long bloody scrape down the side; Dean must have cut it on the Impala’s trim or door handle. He’s not singing anymore, just mumbling under his breath, “never coming back, I really lost him this time, there’s no way he’ll listen, gotta tell him, make him, make him know”
Sam whispers brokenly, “Oh god Dean, I didn’t know. I’m sorry.”
Dean starts singing again in a heart-breaking muffled voice into his arm, crushed up against the Impala’s fender, Sam can just make out the words, still from that damn Metallica song,
“Things not what they used to be
Missing one inside of me
Deathly lost, this can't be real
Cannot stand this hell I feel”
The sound of the Impala revving up breaks him out of his helpless staring at Dean’s collapsed form. He’s flooded with an urgent feeling of needing to help and put things right as soon as possible, before something bad happens to his brother.
“Bye Sammy, I hope you can help him in time. Please don’t give up on him or me.” Ghost Dean says with an insistent tone and leaves him alone, back in room 118. He drops back to toss on his lonely bed dreaming of Dean beside him once again.
Just after Sam feels himself drifting back to sleep, yet another knock wakes him up. This one sounds like a giant fist battering down the door. He opens it up cautiously and is completely surprised to see a ghostly vision of himself hovering there. Well the soul-less version of himself anyways.
“What the hell are you doing here? I thought I killed you in my mind, you’re not even a ghost!”
“You did, that was some good shooting Tex. Anyways, no time for details, let’s get this over with, I’m not sure why I got this gig anyways.”
“God, I forgot what an asshole you were.”
“So was it all worth it, killing me and the other one off, are you so very happy out here without us?”
Sam can’t answer, because yeah it was worth it and he’d do it again in a second, at least he got to spend a year with Dean before Purgatory claimed him, a year he’d never have guessed would be one of the best of his life.
His soul-less self smiles that wide shark-like grin and silently brings them to the backseat of the Impala, which is speeding along one of the dark two-lane roads that have made up most of his life.
“Let me guess, this is what, Christmas future?” Sam asks, resigned to seeing the worst thing yet, isn’t that how these things usually work?
“Let’s call it Christmas Maybe-Never.” His soul-less self smirks and waves his hand, revealing the lone driver of the Impala. He’s sees himself mindlessly driving through town after town all lit up with twinkling holiday displays. He’s unkempt and so skinny he’s barely recognizable, car a complete mess that Dean would never abide. There are too many empty whisky bottles clinking in the foot wells and too few food wrappers. Sam recognizes that he’s basically in the same situation that Amelia “saved him from”, driving too fast on purpose, hoping to have an accident, not wanting to really go full out and kill himself, but being reckless. There’s no purpose to this Sam’s driving, he’s not looking for anything or anyone, he’s just barely existing. Sam sees himself silently crying when one of Dean’s favorites comes on the radio.
“Can you take me back now? I’ve seen enough.”
“No Sam, you still need to see this, not long now.”
There’s nothing worse than seeing himself careening off a cliff and dying, Impala all mangled at the bottom of a ravine. They hover there for a while in the rain, over the car, for what seems like several days. Sam thinks to himself I thought Bobby told me, you weren’t supposed to be able to see yourself die in dreams, guess he didn’t know everything after all, but he’d still manage to call me an idjit.
“Seen enough yet?” his soul-less self asks abruptly, so uncaring in his tone it’s hard to believe he passed as human for more than a year.
“But, Dean will come won’t he?” Sam asks, dreading that he already knows the answer, because there’s no other reason he’d be driving the Impala by himself.
“No Sam, no one will. There’s no search party, no funeral, because no one knows you anymore. Dean’s not coming, because he died last year when he was hunting without you.”
On hearing the smarmy bastard’s words, Sam suddenly becomes enraged at the stupidity and unfairness of it all, their whole lives coming down to this. Without knowing how or why he’s able to, Sam floats down further and with a surge of power that comes out of nowhere, he manages to wrench open the trunk of the car, to see all of their gear packed in the back. He rips opens up the end seam of his own oldest duffle and pulls out a small newspaper comic wrapped package, holding it in his now very substantial hand.
”What’s that?” His soul-less self asks, sounding curious in spite of himself.
Sam looks back up at him, tears running down his face freely, “Just checking if I still had it. Guess I never gave it back to him. Can we go back now?”
The sound of the Impala revving signals him that he’s going back, thank god, no more of this sadness. He couldn’t take anymore. Talk about worst-case scenarios.
A final knock at the door wakes him, aren’t there only supposed to be three? Sam thinks to himself as he struggles up out of bed one last time. He wipes the tears from his eyes that he’d apparently been crying in his sleep; the vivid dream still holding him in its message of hope and possibility and urgency. He opens the door to a new day’s dawn light and a very substantial and tired and wary looking Dean standing (not hovering!) on his doorstep.
“Hey Sammy.” He says with a dim light of hopefulness shading the edge of his weary eyes. “Hope I didn’t wake you.”
“Naw, I’ve been up and down all night long. Come in, it’s cold out there.” Sam ushers his brother inside, briefly thinking that he never wanted Dean to see this place, where he’d first hooked up with Amelia, but now he’s here and real and in front of him. And after those dreams, he couldn’t be happier that Dean’s here, alive and in one piece. There’s still a chance then.
As soon as Dean’s in and the door is closed they both talk at once.
They smile at each other sheepishly.
“So, uh, I thought I’d come see if you wanted any of your stuff.” Dean offers first, trying to explain why he’s suddenly shown up on Sam’s doorstep on Christmas morning, uninvited, unannounced, and worried about being unwelcome.
“What?” Sam asks, not understanding at all what Dean is asking him.
“You know, you left a lot of your things in the car, and I thought you’d want to have them with you here.” Dean tries to explain, while still hoping more than anything that Sam will refuse.
“Oh, okay, thanks.” Sam says quietly, sounding a little defeated even to his own ears.
“I got most of it put into a coupla bags, where do you want them?”
“Dean, can you stop for a sec?” Sam holds up a hand and pleads.
“I don’t need it. Not in this place anyways. It should stay in the car.”
“Why? I don’t want to have all that stuff with me.” Dean protests, because it’s been way too hard living with all of the Sam stuff floating around the car reminding him at every single turn what he’s lost.
“How about if I’m there with my stuff, can it stay then?”
“What are you saying, you’re back in?” Dean asks, not daring to hope that he’s right.
In a wordless answer Sam crosses the distance between them and gathers Dean into his arms, hugging the stuffing out of him for a long time, molding their bodies together completely in that old familiar way. He can feel Dean hesitate at first, full of that jumpy post-Purgatory energy but he quickly relaxes into the hug, melting against Sam’s warm body, absorbing the forgiveness and grace.
Sam eventually turns his head so that his lips are brushing the side of Dean’s neck below his ear and says, “I want to keep hunting with you Dean, I mean, we obviously need to get a lot of stuff straightened out, but more than anything, I know I’m at my best riding down crazy street next to you.” Sam stands up tall then, still holding Dean but looking down into his face, wanting to savor every nuance of reaction.
Dean doesn’t say anything for a long while, his face softening around the edges as the meaning of Sam’s words sink in past his walls of bluster, “You mean it Sam?”
“Yeah. I do, and all this time when I said I was keeping my options open, it wasn’t about preparing to take off on you. It was about what I’d do if you died again.” And it’s then, when he’s looking closely at Dean’s face that he sees the angry red scrape down the right side of Dean’s cheek, so what he saw in the dream was real. Dean’s near suicidal and he really has to tell him the truth now, as hard as it’s going to be, he owes his brother that, at the very least.
“Dude, I didn’t die.” Dean protests for what feels like the millionth time.
“Well, I thought you had.” Sam states plainly, for the first time, giving Dean this answer finally and willing him to please understand because he doesn’t really want to explain this.
“You didn’t even look, how the hell would you know!” Dean tries to get angry all over again, tries to shrug out of Sam’s embrace, because Sam’s answer doesn’t make sense, but Sam holds him there, needing the connection to get through this next part. He knows Dean needs it too.
Sam looks Dean in the eye, holding him with his gaze as well as his arms, “There wasn’t anything to look for, you were just gone. All I had was the Impala. It’s like I told you, I just drove until I wasn’t sure why I was even bothering anymore. It was months of that, just nothingness. The night I hit the dog, I had finally given up.”
Dean’s face kind of crumples and he asks somewhat unnecessarily, “Given up on what?”
“Everything. Life I guess. It all just seemed so pointless without you here… with me. I had no reason to keep going.” Sam says as matter-of-factly as he can, he doesn’t want to scare Dean, but he wants him to know the truth.
Dean reaches up and rubs the back of Sam’s neck in soothing circles, just like he’s been doing Sam’s whole life, “Sammy. I didn’t know it was like that. Why didn’t you tell me?”
Sam relaxes into Dean’s touch and his head sags down, “Too embarrassed, didn’t want you to know how it really was, didn’t think you’d understand. I didn’t want to turn into what I did when you were in Hell. Dean, I’m a useless, dangerous mess without you around. ”
Not stopping with rubbing his brother’s neck, Dean finds himself answering with a surprising amount of honesty, “I know how that goes, believe me. If it hadn’t been for Lisa, well you wouldn’t be standing here talking to me.”
Sam looks up at that, he hadn’t realized that about his time away in the Cage, that it had been so bad for Dean, they really hadn’t talked about it, “Amelia did the same for me. I told her at one point that she saved me. But she saved me for you.”
“Guess I owe her a fruit basket.” Dean stops rubbing Sam’s neck and slaps him a little on the shoulder, thinking about how he honestly hopes he never has to meet this woman in person, so maybe a thank-you gift sent by mail wouldn’t be so bad.
“At least!” Sam slaps Dean on the back and is about to pull away from their embrace, it’s gone on way longer than is normal, even for them, and he doesn’t want to push Dean for too much contact too soon.
Dean feels Sam starting to pull away, and decides to try something else that might be considered making amends, he stretches up and catches Sam’s lips in a quick intense press, then curls his hands around the back of Sam’s neck pulling him down so he can kiss him more thoroughly.
Sam doesn’t hesitate even though he’s surprised that Dean’s offering this so quickly, he opens immediately and pulls their bodies back in close together, roaming his hands up and down Dean’s back. Sam knows by now that Dean’s kiss is a way of saying all the rest of it, everything else he couldn’t bring himself to say, all the things he was thinking last night as he was crumpled on the ground next to the Impala in that cold parking lot. So he takes it for what it is, Dean’s offer of reconciliation and he responds enthusiastically so that Dean can’t possibly miss his acceptance.
Sam walks Dean backwards as they embrace, getting closer and closer to the couch until he can finally push him down, covering him completely with his body. They writhe and grind and entwine themselves like two snap-pea vines, getting hopelessly and blissfully tangled, neither caring because it just feels right to be together like this again, finally. Biting necks and ears and kissing endlessly, sloppily because it’s always a surprise to both of them how good it is, something they seem to have to learn over and over again.
Dean’s pulsing his hips up in a familiar insistent rhythm that tells Sam he needs more, so he takes that as his cue to undo Dean’s belt and jeans as well as his own. Slipping his hand inside he finds Dean’s gone commando again and laughs internally because it was Sam’s week to do their laundry and of course Dean had waited too long to catch up. Sam pulls both of their shirts up because he loves having their stomachs touching; having that extra skin to rub against is wonderful. The feel of Dean’s coarse trail of hair on the sensitive skin of the head of his cock is delicious. Sam can’t help but groan out loud at the sensation.
Dean smiles at that sound, he’s missed this all so much, the way Sam sounds when they get off together like this is one of his favorite things. Reducing his normally well-spoken, articulate brother to incoherent moans and pleas is one of the things that he counts as his greatest achievements. And yeah that’s maybe a weird thing to be proud of but whatever, it’s what Dean’s got right in front of him in his hands that’s important. Dean reaches down to cup Sam’s balls and feels their very heavy weight, Sam hasn’t gotten off in a while, no wonder he’s reacting so strongly to just a little friction. Dean has always loved getting Sam so worked up he loses himself and comes all over the both of them, his little brother is great at making them both a big mess. Especially when he’s been holding back on cleaning out the pipes. That’s all he wants at this point, Sam making a mess of him, marking him up, all over.
Dean wraps his hand around both of their cocks, so they can thrust against each other and get the friction they need. Sam covers his brother’s hand with his own much larger one making a circle they can thrust through, both of them slicking the way with their own steadily leaking pre-cum. And that’s right now and it’s so good and all they need. This familiar rhythm, the smell of them together, the relief of their separation being over, the joy at their reconciliation and the eternal lust for each other all weave together to make an inescapable net drawing them both closer and closer to the edge. Dean holds Sam’s eyes with his own intense gaze, communicating wordlessly, need you want you always love you mine.
That eye lock thing always does it for Sam, every single time, seeing his brother without any barrier between them is everything he needs, knowing that all that singularly focused love and lust is directed just on him is his cue to let go and finally come.
Dean sees the face, the one that Sam makes just before he’s about to climax, the one that tells him he’s doing it right, the one that makes him come too because there’s nothing better than both of them emptying at the same time. Sam shudders and shakes as his release paints Dean’s belly and their hands with white streaks, mingling with Dean’s own. Sam rubs it all in to Dean’s skin until it disappears leaving just a tacky residue on his fingers which he brings up to Dean’s mouth for him to suck off gently. Dean’s eyes darken even more when he tastes them together like this, something about their essence’s flavors combined is better than any pie or cheeseburger.
The first thing Dean says as they lie there panting and recovering is a kind of surprised, “I like the Christmas decorations in here.”
“Apparently they come with the room. Or maybe Everett just likes me.” Sam answers, mildly surprised that Dean is commenting on the Christmas lights and small decorated tree on the table.
“Who’s Everett?” Dean asks, instantly hoping that he doesn’t sound jealous, maybe just suspicious, because he’s not jealous, of course not. Right?
“Owner’s son, I got to know him while I was staying here, uh, before.” Sam’s laughing inside at Dean’s never-fail jealous instincts, it’s a fact of life that Dean loves him that way.
“What, you lived here or something?”
Sam moves off of Dean and sits up, tucking himself in and doing up his jeans. “Yeah, in this very room for a while, with Amelia. I was their handyman here at the motel.”
Dean rearranges himself too, “You were a handyman? I’m not seein’ it Sammy, sorry.”
“Screw you jerk. I was a good one, fixed everything they threw at me, even the kitchen sink.”
“That why you’re staying here, familiar territory, or something else?” Dean asks, truly wondering why Sam is in this exact room if it’s where Amelia and he hooked up, is he really missing her, wishing he was back with her or what?
“That your way of asking if Amelia’s still around? She is, but she’s not available or anything. When I met her, she thought her husband had been killed in the war, we were moving in together and then she got a call from him. I left ‘cause I thought she should be with her husband. They still live here together in town. Which I got to see up close and personal thanks to you.”
Dean’s stomach drops out suddenly, knowing that he caused Sam so much pain like that is something he’d never do on purpose, “Oh god Sam, I had no idea when I sent that message. I swear.”
“Yeah I know, I get it, you needed me out of there, away from Benny, and I hadn’t told you about her at all, whatever. But it wasn’t okay that you did that to me Dean. She even came after me, thought I was stalking her and Don. Which I guess I kind of was.”
“I’m sorry. But it’s a little funny, my brother the stalker.” Dean laughs and tries to look serious at the same time.
“That’s me. Hey, uh, you know when you were trying to convince Martin and me not to hunt Benny, you asked me to back you up because I knew him. And you do know I don’t right? I’ve met him once. All I know is he’s a vampire that you somehow knew in Purgatory and that’s it. I still don’t get why you trust him Dean.”
“Man, I’m gonna need some whiskey or something for this.” Dean says, running his hand down his face and resting over his mouth in that old familiar tell which Sam’s known for his most of his life means Dean will tell the truth if he’s holding something with alcohol in his hand. What’s that phrase? Sam thinks to himself. Oh yeah, liquid courage.
“Gotcha covered, just a sec.” Sam gets up from the couch a little unsteadily, pulls his jeans the rest of the way up, shrugging his shirt down, and crosses into the small kitchenette, rumbling around in the refrigerator. He comes back soon with two mugs, “Here, hope it’s strong enough for ya.”
Dean takes his mug with a dubious look on his face and tries his eggnog, “Erk. Yeah, uh, good, thanks. Very festive. So, Benny was the one who knew how to get out of Purgatory. He found me, not long after I got there, and stuck with me until we found Cas, he even saved Cas from getting killed, he save me too, more than once.”
“How did you get out, was it with Benny somehow?” Sam sits back down on the couch next to Dean, far enough away so that he can watch his face.
Dean stares off into the middle distance, like he’s watching his memories of Purgatory replay on screen in front of him, “Yeah, there was this portal opening thing, and he knew where to find it.”
“How’d he know all that Dean?” Sam asks, because boy is that ever suspicious, and knowing Dean he’s never even thought about that since he was in the middle of surviving.
“Never asked him. I think it was because he’d been there so long.” Dean shrugs, and flicks a look at Sam. Realizing that Sam’s suspicion is probably warranted, kicking himself for not thinking about it earlier.
“You’re not telling me the whole story for some reason. You don’t have to tell me now, but I hope you do someday.”
Dean can’t look at him, just shakes his head and stares down into his eggnog, “Sammy, I’m. ..I just can’t. You wouldn’t understand.”
“One of those you had to be there things?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Dean finally looks up at Sam and sees all the understanding and acceptance he always counts on from him, that he’s missed so much.
Sam reaches over and pats Dean on the knee gently, “Ok, fine, it’ll have to be good enough for me. But dude, just because I don’t keep asking doesn’t me I don’t care, or don’t want to know. I was trying to back off and let you be, it didn’t seem like you wanted me to push you about the Purgatory stuff.”
“Okay, I get it, thanks for spelling it out like that.”
“Yeah, someone told me recently I had to e-nun-ci-ate for you.”
“Who?” Dean’s curious who Sam’s even been talking to.
“Just had a weird dream, right before you got here, that was in it.”
“Not like a vision or anything right?” Dean looks over at Sam, momentarily concerned that the whole seeing the future thing is starting up again.
“No, just too much whisky and falling asleep to Christmas movies I think.”
“Hey, speaking of, I uh, got you something for Christmas. Just in case.” Dean puts his mug down and stands up, stretching, moving towards the door.
“Just in case what?” Sam asks, even though he knows exactly what Dean’s talking about. Based on what he saw last night, Dean was pretty convinced that he’d lost Sam for good.
“Give me a break dude, I wasn’t sure if you were gonna let me in or hit me, you know? I’ll be back in a sec, let me go get it.” Dean says as he’s going out the door.
“Can you bring in my duffle too please?” Sam asks, getting up to pour out more eggnog for both of them, adding even more whisky into Dean’s this time, since he didn’t get to see Dean make that ‘ooh too much whisky face’ quite yet.
Dean comes back in quickly with a gust of cold air blowing through the door. “Where do you want this?” He holds up the duffle with one hand. Sam gestures to the bed and follows him over, quickly ripping open the hidden seam in the end where the secret pocket is, pulling out the same small comics-wrapped bundle he’d seen in his dream, and sitting down on the bed. Dean sees it but gives him his present first.
“Here, hope you like it.” And he hands Sam a medium-sized brown paper bag crumpled up and taped at the top with duct tape, SAM is written on it in black Sharpie. Sam sets down his small gift to his side and takes the bag, opening it gingerly.
First several apples roll out of the bag onto the bed.
“Wow, apples.” Sam’s totally confused, why in the world is Dean giving him apples of all things?
“Yes they’re organic.” Dean says proudly, and then Sam gets it, this is Dean acknowledging his new preference for organic produce that he’d been giving him a hard time about before.
“Uh, thanks.” Sam says, pulling out a book, JK Rowling’s adult novel, “The Casual Vacancy”. And this gift is Dean remembering that Sam really loved all the Harry Potter books, and would be interested in anything that their author would write. He realizes it’s what couples do, they remember stuff like this about each other, because they know one another inside and out. It makes him smile, “Hey I was wanting to read this after reading all her Harry Potter books, how’d you know?” Sam asks, Dean only shrugs and smiles.
Last thing out of the bag is a pair of gigantic, sparkling white running shoes. “Oh these are great, mine are just wearing out, and dude, you actually remembered my size. Finally. Thanks Dean, these are all such great gifts.” Sam’s so touched because each of these gifts are so un-Dean, but they prove that he’s been paying attention to what Sam wants and needs over the last couple of years, all the details of their life lived together side-by-side are kind of summed up in these simple gifts.
“Here this is for you. Sorry it’s kind of a re-gift.” Sam says, handing over his small offering.
“No biggie, thanks.” Dean says, accepting the small wrapped package and sitting down next to Sam on the bed. He feels the weight and shape for a second, that momentary thrill of anticipation arrives and leaves as he opens it and the amulet falls out into his palm, old cord wrapping around his fingers in an achingly familiar tangle. He can’t speak, or breathe for a second. But then he looks up at Sam, instantly recalling the similar circumstances the last time he received this gift and says, “Thank you Sam. I love it.”
Sam smiles as Dean puts it back around his neck, and gets a little wistful and sad thinking about how it all used to be and how it all came apart. But then he sees Dean’s smile of relief and gratitude and his sadness goes away, filling with a sudden painful hope that this time it’ll work. They’ll work. Because he can’t end up in that future that he saw in that dream, and he doesn’t want Dean to have anymore Christmas Eves like the one he saw last night. And mostly because he wants more than anything to let himself feel that way again like he did when he was a kid, lighting up when he sees his Dean come into a room.
Pulling Dean close and into a hug, Sam kisses his way up and down his neck and asks softly, “I’m paid up for the rest of the week, you want to stick around?”
Dean pushes Sam back down to the bed and is on him in a second, “Sure why not, ‘s not like I have anywhere else to be.”
Sam laughs, and tugs Dean down so their faces are closer, “Me neither.” He kisses Dean softly at first, then letting his hunger out he sucks Dean’s tongue into his mouth, ravaging his lips with a barrage of needy kisses. “Missed you so much.” He murmurs, hoping Dean hears him.
Hearing his brother’s honest confession between these heat-soaked kisses, the feeling sinks into Dean, replenishing him, stirring up the long-denied needs he’s kept down since he returned from Purgatory. Realizing that both of them do have someplace to be, and that they are finally there. Together, reuniting into the team and partnership that they’re supposed to have, he breaks through his usual hesitance to say what he really feels in his heart, “This is where we’re supposed to be Sammy, right here, like this.”
Carrying on with kissing Dean in thanks for saying that, actually saying that out loud, Sam finds he’s astonished to realize that maybe what Dean said months ago was pretty much the same thing, he asks, breathlessly, “You meant it, what you said before, that thing about driving down crazy street?”
“Yeah, course I did.” Dean smiles down at him with that predatory gleam that means only good things are coming if Sam just lets go and lets it happen, “C’mon Sammy, whaddya say? It’s been a helluva long time since we wrecked a motel room.”
Sam stops momentarily to consider what Dean’s asking and offering, what it will mean to do that, give in to him, in this room, where he’d confessed a small part of his story to Amelia, only the parts about losing the love of his life and not knowing what to do next. In this room, where he’d mourned the loss of the only person that he was still living for, his only reason for still being alive. In this room, where she’d unburdened herself of similar feelings and they’d muddled through supporting each other into rekindling a small, pitiful will to keep on living.
Of course he says yes, because what the hell else is he ever going to say to Dean? He says yes, and they do, they wreck the whole damn place, break it all down, everything in the room a stand-in for everything that’s been stuck and immovable between them. Here’s where it all gets forgotten, in a week of blurry week of blissful rediscovery, and heated reunion. They never part from each other longer than a few minutes and use all of the surfaces and furniture in the room just to prove to each other that they still can. All of it, all the love and fear, and loss and pain meld together until there’s no way to escape it, they’re absolutely, completely soaked in each other. There’s no way to ever be separate and survive. They both admit it and accept it and now revel in it, because in the end it is their strength.
It’s New Year’s Eve and they’ve got Room 118 far behind them in the rear-view. Sam left all his cash as repayment knowing that Everett’s going to have to work hard to put it back into shape. They’re back on the road, getting the heck out of Texas, back on the trail that Crowley’s left behind. Dean’s got Metallica playing, and “Fade to Black” comes up. Their hands collide as both of them reach out quickly to the fast-forward button on the tape deck. “Just don’t feel like listening to this one right now.” Dean mumbles, knowing Sam’s got to be wondering why he’s skipping a Metallica song.
“Me either, I hate that one, don’t like the words.” Sam says, thinking about Dean singing that song in a drunken heap next to the Impala on Christmas Eve.
“They don’t fit me anymore.” Dean offers, somehow knowing that’s Sam’s issue with the song.
“Good.” Sam answers, spreading out in a relieved sprawl in the passenger seat, thinking about the three ghosts that visited him and whether they’re happy with themselves. He doesn’t know who to thank for sending them, but he vows right then and there he’ll never forget what they taught him.
Dean sees his Sam is back, really back with him and he can hardly contain his deep happiness and thankfulness that all of the crap between them is done with. But of course he can’t say that, so instead he digs around in the tape box, pops out Metallica and puts in the mix tape of newer songs that Sam made him last year.
Sam smiles over at his brother when he hears The Black Keys start singing.
Now I'm old and wise
When I see your eyes
You’re the one I adore
Will you be true till life is up
Be the one I adore, oh
You’re the one I adore