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Holly, Ivy, Mistletoe

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Dean would be lying to himself if he said he hadn’t pictured this happening—but to be honest, on the short list of things Dean knows he’s truly gifted at, lying to himself is pretty close to the top.

He still jumps when Sam’s bag hits the table, because he’s hopeful, not clairvoyant.

“What are you doing here?” Sam looks angry and wary, shoulders hunched and his hair longer, almost in his eyes, hissing in a voice that’s bound to draw attention whether he means to or not. Still, it’s just. It’s fucking good to see him, and Dean refuses to answer until he’s cataloged every new thing about his brother with his eyes—as long as he doesn’t answer, Sam can’t leave. But maybe he waits too long, because Sam’s eyes go wide, worried.

“Needed a library.” Dean shrugs, tries not to be defensive about it. “Gotta brush up now I’m down a research monkey.”

Sam’s expression does some interesting flips and turns through an emotional rolodex before he settles on annoyed. “There are plenty of libraries,” he starts and Dean rolls his eyes.

“Good to see you too, asshole.”

Sam huffs hard enough to fluff his stupid bangs, but he finally stops looming, grabs a chair not too close and leans across the distance. Dean kind of wishes he’d pick one; either well out of Dean’s space or near enough to…Dean doesn’t know what.  Grab the kid in a headlock and drag him to the Impala and drive and drive and drive.

“Sorry,” Sam says. Doesn’t even look like it costs him something. “I was... How long have you been in town?”

“An hour?” What the hell does that matter? Sam doesn’t even look like he believes him at first, like maybe he expected Dean to answer a week, a month. Then he shakes his head. “Before you start,” Dean cuts him off, “you bothered me.

“So you weren’t planning on saying hi?”

His tone is so flat Dean can’t tell if he’s disappointed or hopeful—he used to know every in and out of Sam’s head. But that’s years ago now, if it ever really happened. Before Sam started keeping secrets.

“Congrats,” Dean says, changing the subject like a boss, “Palo Alto is boring as hell. Good job on picking the one sink hole of normal, must be paradise for you.”

Sam’s watching him now like he used to watch Thundercats: intense and focused, even as a kid. “So what are you doing here, then?”

“No place in the world safe from hauntings.” Dean shows his hands. “No deaths yet, but there’s a whole block of houses down on Applegate that no one moves into for more than a week. It’s on my way to another gig in Washington, just thought I’d give it a look.”

Sam is quiet for long enough that Dean has to bite down on his urge to fidget. “What’s Dad think it is?”

Even expecting it, Dean has to take a breath. “Nothing.” He can’t leave it at that, much as he’d like to; Sam looks like he’s trying to swallow a sock. “He’s fine, as far as I know. Haven’t seen him since October.”

Sam frowns—good—and Dean shoves on a smile. “So. How’ve you been? No offense, Sammy, but you look like shit. Party too hardy?”

His mouth twists a little, like he doesn’t want to let it go. But he says, “Just wrapping up finals week. Sorry I…yeah. Haven’t slept more than ten hours in the last three days.”

“Plenty of time,” Dean scoffs, teasing, because they’ve done far worse on hunts. He’s pretty sure Sam has looked better than he does right now on less sleep, but he doesn’t want to think too hard about it. But. “Finals, huh?” It doesn’t feel like it’s been a whole semester, and at the same time it feels like it must have been longer than that.

Sam’s nodding. “I think I did okay on all of them besides chemistry.”

“What do you need chemistry for in law school?”

“Pre-recs.” Sam’s smile is wan, which is not a word Dean thought he knew until he saw it on Sam’s face. Maybe there’s something Dean can do, stand guard outside his dorm room so Sam can get a few uninterrupted hours shut-eye, or offer the backseat of the Impala—but no, no, Sam is different, grown up, those aren’t things that would comfort him anymore.

Jesus. Maybe Dean should’ve found a different library.


Dean twitches like he always does when someone else says Sam’s name—force of habit, he’s not used to strange voices meaning the same Sam. This time it’s from a cute co-ed, and she’s talking to his brother. Score.

“Hey, there you are,” she says, putting a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “I was hoping to catch you before—oh, shit, am I interrupting?”

She’s blond and gorgeous and she cusses with an ease that Dean approves of. “No, Jess, don’t worry about it.” Sam laughs a little, but it’s uncomfortable. “Um, this is. This is—“

“Dean,” he speaks up for himself when Sam apparently can’t or won’t. Dean makes himself smile before his mood skids even further downhill. “Hi.” He loses his grip on the smile when—wow, nothing. Not even a flicker of recognition at his name.

“Hey,” Jess says, grinning as she hip-checks Sam’s shoulder. It’s teasing but not flirty; Dean has no idea what’s going on. “Good job, Sam.”

Sam blinks, startled. “Good job at what?”

“The econ test, what do you think?” She rolls her eyes a little towards Dean, like she’s inviting him in on the joke. “Sorry about him, finals pretty much melted his brain.” Jess ruffles Sam’s hair. For some reason Dean swallows a little wrong, has to cough.

“Oh hey, don’t worry about,” she says suddenly, gesturing between herself and Sam. “We tried dating for, like. Half a week. Seriously.”

“Awesome,” Dean says when nothing else comes to mind. He tries to get a gauge on Sam, see if he has any clue why Jess felt the need to share that little tidbit—maybe blackmail material? He can probably get in one good dig about Sam fucking it up with someone so obviously out of his league—but Sam looks just as baffled.

“Anyway, Sam, I wanted to say again that you’re welcome to come stay at my folks’ with me. I promise they’re fine with it. No one’s going to be on campus over Christmas break, it’ll look like a ghost town.”

“Right, can’t be alone on Christmas,” Dean drawls, ignoring Sam’s glare. “It’s a time to be around friends and family.” He hopes for Jess’s sake that his face isn’t giving anything away—he has no idea what she’d even see there, but it wouldn’t be anything good.

“Yeah, well. Sam is kind of on short supply, family-wise,” Jess says, kindly. Sam sits back, stammering out, “H-hey…” and nothing else. For a split second Dean imagines what it would feel like to punch the Impala; he feels a little sick.

“I’ll think about it,” Sam says after an awkward moment, flickering a smile her way. “Let you know if I change my mind.”

“Okay,” she says, still frowning like she’s worried. “If you won’t come home with me, just promise you’ll be around someone?” Her gaze darts pointedly in Dean’s direction. “And if I don’t see you at Becky’s Christmas bash tonight I’m calling the cops, got it? Bring Dean.”


“Sounds like a blast.” Dean grins, showing his teeth. Always was a glutton for punishment. “I’ll make sure he’s there, just try to stop me.”


Jess takes off soon after, and Dean…Dean is tired. So he shoves his books into a pile for the library elves to put away and stands up, checking his pockets even though he knows exactly which one has the keys to the Impala. He looks off over his shoulder, all the neat shelves and thousands of books and everything Sam’s always wanted. At this moment in time his plan is to find a bottle of something alcoholic and drink until he can’t any more.

“Dean, wait,” Sam starts, on his feet and it’s still a shock to see how tall he is. Dean kept thinking he was exaggerating Sam’s last growth spurt in his head, but it’s hard to keep up the lie when Sam’s right in front of him.

The obvious solution is to turn and leave, so Dean does—and he tries not to feel too happy about it when Sam follows at his heels.

“Jess seems nice,” Dean says, just to be an asshole. “How long have you two been friends?”

“Since second day of classes.” At least Sam sounds like he knows he’s walking into a trap, so that’s something.

“Huh. And in all these months you never—“ His brain finally catches up to his mouth, how fucking ridiculous this sounds.

Sam grabs his elbow; Dean yanks it back but his momentum is gone, stuck one step off the sidewalk with his baby brother looming over him. “I never what?” Sam asks, and Dean can’t get a read on him.

“Shit, Sam, I don’t know which is worse but I thought you might’ve—that she might recognize my name, is all. She didn’t even seem to know we’re brothers.” He should have kept his mouth shut; all he can do now is shove his hands in his pockets and give the parking lot a hard stare. “Whatever, doesn’t matter.”

“I don’t—“ Sam huffs a breath, looking skyward. “I don’t use your names, dude. When I talk about you or Dad, which isn’t often—don’t give me that, how the hell would you even get into half our problems without bringing up something supernatural? But when I do, I don’t use your names. I’m not an idiot.”

Well, Dean apparently is, because he doesn’t get it. “Why not?”

Sam looks at him, then pinches the bridge of his nose. “Because. You and Dad can probably be tied to dozens of B&Es and grave desecrations throughout the states, and Nebraska actually has an outstanding warrant for your arrest. Maybe it’s paranoid but it’s just. It’s safer. Okay?”

“Fine.” Goddamn Nebraska. Still, Dean feels something knit a little tighter in his chest. “But I’m going to this party, make sure you aren’t hanging with a bad crowd.”

Sam looks skyward, an actual grin on his face. “You don’t have to worry about me,” he says, like he’s pointing out something true that Dean doesn’t know. It’s bullshit, but Dean can’t tell if Sam understands there’s just no fucking off-switch for the kind of worry he carries around with him with Sam’s name on it.

“Think I should bring pie?”

“You realize,” Sam says, “that if you bring a pie you’ll have to share it with other people.”

“…Good point. Alright, we’ll get a cake for them and pie for me.” Dean flips the keys around a finger, takes two steps toward his baby before looking back at Sam. “You coming or…?”

Sam breathes out through his nose, settling his backpack a little firmer on his shoulders, eyes on the Impala like it’s a cleverly disguised carnivorous plant. For all that, he looks resigned, and after a moment he nods and follows Dean to the car.

Dean doesn’t make a habit of writing Christmas lists—never did, even as a kid—but it still feels like something gift-wrapped, looking over and seeing Sam in the passenger’s seat.


Sam stays in the car while Dean runs into some organic box store for a pumpkin pie and some sort of peppermint cake that probably tastes like toast but hell, Dean doesn’t have to eat it—the point is, when Dean gets back Sam is out cold, face tucked against the window with a flannel shirt Dean left in the backseat cushioning his head. He doesn’t even wake up when Dean opens the door; as hard as he tries to be quiet, the old girl’s got a squeak in her hinges no amount of tinkering seems to fix.

He looks tired even while he’s sleeping, a little thinner than when Dean drove him to the bus stop in dead silence all those months ago. So sue him, Dean has a pie to start on, Sam could use the nap. And to be honest, Dean isn’t sure where to go from here.

He knows he’ll go to the party…maybe decide Sam’s friends aren’t creepy occultists in their spare time, and then. Then he’ll wrap up the haunting—if there even is a haunting—and he’ll take off. Maybe not see Sam for another four months. Maybe longer. Odds aren’t exactly great that Sam will be willing to take off being normal for the summer, go hunting with his brother for old time’s sake. No, Dean is looking down the barrel of another long stretch of loneliness, waiting for his family to call.

Dean pulls out his third purchase—a red and white fuzzy set of antlers—and carefully balances it on Sam’s head. This helps with the holiday blues, oh, it really does.

Some twenty minutes later Sam snuffles awake when Dean accidentally hums too appreciatively around a forkful of pie. His knees knock against the dash when he sits up too fast, fist clenched in the flannel shirt like he wants to stuff it out of sight; the antlers droop over his eyes and he sneezes.

“Merry Christmas to my favorite moose,” Dean smirks.

“Huh?” Sam shakes his head, mouth a little slack, cheeks sleep-warm. “How long was I out?”

“Half hour or so. Pie?” He pushes it into Sam’s hands without waiting for a reply—can’t eat pie and drive anyway, and Sam could use the calories. “So where’re we headed? Still got a couple hours to kill before the party.”

“Do you have a hotel room yet?” Sam asks, and takes a bite.

Dean fakes a gasp. “Sammy, I don’t know what you’ve heard but I am not that kind of girl.”

“You are exactly that kind of girl,” Sam protests, crumbs tumbling out of his mouth despite the hand he shoves up to catch them.

Dean laughs, more at Sam’s face than anything. “Okay, yeah, maybe I am.”

“Just—maybe keep it in your pants tonight,” Sam says, wincing. “These guys are my friends, I don’t want to deal with anyone…pining. Or whatever,” he splutters, cheeks flushing hot when Dean laughs again. God, Dean can hardly remember the last time he laughed this much.

“Yeah, okay, okay, whatever.” Not that he’s been feeling it much, lately, the urge to go out and pull; no one to show off to, anymore. “So how ‘bout you, Casanova? Anyone going to this party that you’ve got your eye on?”

Sam gives him a look. “No.”

Yeah, okay. Message received: stay out of Sam’s personal life, fine. Dean taps his thumbs on the steering wheel. “Anyway, I figured I’d squat in one of the supposed-haunted houses, see if there’s anything to the rumors. Saves on hotel money, too,” Dean adds like he doesn’t have three different credit cards under fake names, shoots Sam a smile to let him in on the joke.

Sam doesn’t look amused. “Dude, if it’s haunted—“

“No one’s died—“

Yet,” Sam stresses, bitchface on in full force. “Look.” He tugs at a handful of his hair, lets out a sigh. “I’ve got an extra bed in my room—the roommate I had dropped out a few weeks ago, they haven’t found someone to fill in yet. Why don’t you stay there, at least tonight—“

“Really?” Dean doesn’t know what faulty as fuck wiring in his brain is telling him this is a pity-offer, but there’s a sour taste in his mouth and it isn’t the pie.


Communication has always been their weak spot. And Sam looks like he knows it, and he’s sorry—puppy-dog eyes locked on Dean, like he’s willing him to understand. Dean doesn’t have a clue, but it helps knowing that Sam’s trying.

“Fine, I’ll stay the night,” he tells the steering wheel. “You need to go back and get yourself all freshened up before we hit the party, you pretty pretty princess you?”

Sam rolls his eyes. “Shut up, no.” He picks up the antlers and looks at them while he doles out directions, keeps looking at them while Dean drives.

“We could throw on some soft rock, Sammy, let you nap on the way,” Dean offers, glancing over between stop signs.

“It’s Sam,” he says, but he closes his eyes and rests his head against the seat.


A different blond meets them at the door, wrapping Sam in a hug so fast Dean has to bite down on his training before he shoves her off. He’s glad Sam found huggy people. Really. That was never a thing their Dad was big on, and as much as Dean tried to pick up the slack it always made him feel awkward, knowing Dad wouldn’t approve.

“What the hell is this?” she demands the instant she steps back, pushing aside the corners of Sam’s jacket to poke at his chest. “Where’s your ugly Christmas sweater?”

“Somebody’s been hitting the eggnog,” Sam notes, giving her the pieces of a grin. “Uh, Dean didn’t know, I didn’t want him to feel left out—“

“Nice try, asshole,” she says, dragging them both inside. “I have extras! Hi,” she says while Dean’s still reeling, “I’m Becky.”

“Dean,” he says, taking her offered hand and wondering what the hell to do with the look on her face, “Uh, nice house.”

“Thanks. I think this one will look nice on you,” Becky says, pushing a sweater into his arms while simultaneously making off with his jacket and the peppermint cake—she gives a little surprised ooff when his jacket’s heavier than it looks, and it would be with four knives and a flask of holy water. Dean still has two boot knives and six packets of salt in his pocket so he doesn’t feel completely naked, though maybe naked would be a better way to go than this sweater.

It’s violently red and V-necked, covered in an inch-thick fuzz, like someone skinned Elmo and made him into a sweater. On the front is a
buck-toothed reindeer with a 3D bobble ornament for a nose.

“Be lucky it doesn’t light up,” Becky advises him, and turns to wrestle Sam into a light-blue monstrosity with a demonic snowman plastered across the chest.

“I feel really lucky,” Sam deadpans. Dean has to agree.

The rest of the party is already in full swing, pop holiday music and twinkly lights, a Christmas tree the size of the Impala in the corner with color-coordinated ornaments, hundreds of cookies and a punchbowl of eggnog, liquor bottles all in a row. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, big-ass fire blazing in the hearth, and one dude is trying to roast marshmallows on a fire poker.

It’s every Christmas they never had, like they walked into an ad on TV or a magazine or something, everything Dean always aimed for with his take-out-carton Christmas trees and gifts wrapped with the Sunday funnies.

Christ, no wonder Sam left.

“Hey, you okay?” Sam says, nudging his elbow—Dean barely feels it through the fuzz.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Angry and backstabbed, but what else is new? “We, uh, we’ve got some catching up to do in the booze department.”

He’s a little surprised when Sam sticks to his side at least long enough to make their way to the drinks table, even if he’s immediately grabbed by some guy for a complicated bro-hand-clasp-hug.

“Sammayyy,” the guy crows, increasing Dean’s desire to punch him by a factor of ten. “Jess said you finally found someone to bring, man! That’s so great, that’s…so great.”

“Hey, Zack,” Sam says. “Nice sweater.” His lights up.

Dean knocks back a cup of eggnog, and if he’s wincing at the burn they must’ve mixed this stuff with paint thinner.

“Nice, right?” Zack grins when Dean fights not to splutter like it’s his first time. “Think it’s, like, only 10% ‘nog at this point.” Dean grunts because he’s not a baby, and pours himself another glass to Zack’s cackling delight. “I like this guy, Sam. You should bring him around more often.”

“Well ain’t you easy to please,” Dean says, slapping on an expression that hopefully isn’t full of the ways Dean is skilled at killing things with his bare hands.

“Yeah, I am,” Zack snickers. “But Sam isn’t, so you must be alright.”

Jess appears through the crowd like an angel—appropriate, considering the grotesque knitted hallelujah chorus decorating her spectacular boobs. “Seriously, Sam,” Dean reproaches under his breath, “You had a chance to hit that on the regular and you gave it up?”

Sam flushes, but Dean can’t tell if it’s anger or shame or what. “She’s not an object.”

“So-rry,” Dean backs off, partly because Zack is giving them a weird look.

“Hey,” Zack jokes, elbowing in on the conversation, “could always ask for that Merry Christmas threesome? What’s the worst she can say? Other than ‘You’re a disgusting human being and you suck?’”

“Does she have a hot chick girlfriend?” Dean perks up. “Is that why you struck out with her, Sam, couldn’t handle competition from the L-Word?”

“Why are you like this,” Sam demands, and steals the eggnog right out of his hand.

“Hey boys,” Jess says, finally making her way through the knot of friends who’d caught her on the way over. “Everyone having fun?”

“I am not nearly drunk enough,” Dean admits, pulling out one of his cute faces to see if he can make her laugh.

She does, and Dean drops it before Sam can get on his case about flirting. It’s not his fault that she takes his hand. “Let’s see what we can do about that. Sam, you mind if I steal him for a sec?”

Kinda weird asking his brother for permission. “I’m a grown man,” Dean protests, but Jess is already dragging him away.

Things get a little blurry for a while—he mostly remembers whipped cream vodka shots and vegan gingerbread cookies, and someone telling him the wrapped presents under the tree are just props. It’s not even a real tree; Dean brushes his hand against the plastic branches for a long while before someone else pulls him away.

The people here are nice and friendly and completely boring. The girl who hands him a drink has no idea ghosts exist; the guy with a candy cane dangling from his mouth has never seen the twisted bloody maw of a werewolf. Everyone is happy and naïve and none of them, none of them have Sam’s back. Not in a fight, not when it counts.

Dean feels like he missed the happy-buzz portion of the evening and skipped right into the dismal holiday drunks, cookies a lead weight in his belly as he collapses on a couch, near the outskirts of the party. He wants to leave, but that’s Sam’s magic trick.

“Heyyy.” It’s Jess, tinsel in her hair and a high flush on her cheeks as she reappears. “There’s our guest of honor! Lost you for a sec—you want me to find Sam for you?”

“Nah, I’m just taking a breather,” Dean says, trying to look suave and cool because that’s his default setting—forgetting, momentarily, that Rudolf is leering at everyone from the region of his navel. He scowls down at it. “Dude, so fugly.”

Jess has a nice laugh, sweet and honest; Dean thinks she would probably be the best person here to keep handy if things went supernaturally pear-shaped. She sits sideways on the couch, elf-curled shoes pushed against his knee. “How long have you and Sam known each other?”

Dean chews on his lip, not drunk enough to forget how Sam doesn’t want his friends to know anything about his family, not even the good stuff like how his brother is actually here for him. “Since we were kids,” he finally settles on, feeling bluer than ever as Elvis kicks in on the surround-sound.

“I can tell,” she says, resting her chin on her hand, arm up against the back of the couch. “You just—you guys fit together, you know? It’s like all this time I’ve been watching Sam trying to drive a car with flat tires. And now you’re back, and he’s cruising.”

He can’t help pulling a face. “Oh come on.”

“No, I’m serious. I mean, my metaphor’s for shit, but—Sam just lights up when you’re around.”

“That’s pretty gay,” he says, but he’s got a feeling it’s not going to be enough to hide the way his smile has gone all lopsided and sappy.

“Well,” she says with a significant tip of her head in his direction, and—oh.

Hindsight is a bitch. He should’ve figured it out sooner, because of…course. If he’s not Sam’s brother, they have to look closer than just friends. Shit, Dean thinks he even might’ve put a hand on Sam’s arm at some point tonight, of course they think he’s—that they—

And if they think that, then…maybe that time Dean caught Sam under the bleachers with Richard Kingsley wasn’t a fluke. Maybe Sam dates dudes now. Maybe Sam’s dated a lot of dudes since he left, it’s not like Dean would ever know.

It takes him a second to even realize he’s found Sam in the crowd. Sam looks red-cheeked with alcohol, hair a little mussed, drink in his hand and his eyes on Dean, a look on his face that Dean can’t name. It makes his breath catch anyway.

So maybe he should set Jess straight, but god help him he wants to know— “He doesn’t always look like that?” he asks as Zack says something to snag Sam’s attention.

“Like what?” Jess counters around a grin. “Happy?” Her smile shifts into something sweeter, more honest. “Not like he is with you. I mean, come on, I’ve only seen you together for what, ten minutes? And I know you’ve got something really special together.”

It’s officially gone past the point where telling her the truth would be anything but mortally embarrassing for both of them. Or at least that’s what Dean’s telling himself.

“Hey, you okay?” Jess asks, touching his shoulder.

Dean finishes the drink in his hand and makes himself say the words around the acrid burn in his throat. “I haven’t seen him since he left—we had this big fight.” He wrinkles his nose at how couple-y it sounds; Jesus, no wonder they think…what they think. “I don’t know, it’s like he’d rather have all this than—than me. Fuck.” He drags a hand over his face, half-laughing because he feels sick with how stupid he is. Of course Sam would choose this over Dean, fake Christmas tree and all.

“Sorry,” he says, shifting back from the way he’d hunched over his knees. “Sorry, I don’t mean to dump this on you.”

“Sam’s been subtly dumping this on me for months,” Jess brushes off, smirking. “It’s nice to finally have a face to go with the lovesick whining.” She leans in close before he can do more than roll his eyes. “You should talk to Sam,” she says. “And you should also dance with me, come on.”

She’s stronger than she looks, or Dean is drunker than he thinks, because she has him on his feet between one blink and the next, dragging him into the crowd. Dean tries his best because she’s awesome and deserves the best, but he’s just not feeling the beat right; she doesn’t seem to mind, just laughs and gently puts him where she wants him while All I Want For Christmas rings through the speakers.

He’s too focused on not falling over his own feet to hear Zack calling their names, but when Jess grabs a handful of his eye-searing sweater and spins him around Sam is there, stumbling as Zack gives him a little shove. Sam trips sideways into Dean, nearly falling until Dean gets a bracing arm around his waist, automatically settling him the way he used to when Sam was learning how to ride a rickety old bike at Bobby’s—“Hey, steady there, kiddo.”

Jess laughs and throws an arm over Zack’s shoulders, Awww-ing loud enough to snag Dean’s attention before he can get a read on Sam’s face. “You guys—I’m sorry, you’re just too cute.”

“Gotcha, dudes,” Zack says, and points up.


Dean goes to brace himself—the fallout from this going to be blisteringly uncomfortable—but there’s, there’s not enough of a fuck in him to give it away. These are Sam’s people, Sam’s new sparkly life, he’s the one who’s going to have to live with the awkwardness when he tells them.

If he tells them.

Because Dean is looking right into Sam’s eyes and there isn’t any give there, no trace of the mortified embarrassment he’d need to do this right. Sam isn’t going to say a word. He’d rather get kissed by his brother than tarnish his shiny fake future—

Anger and fierce betrayal makes Dean do it—he doesn’t know why he doesn’t just clock Sam on the jaw and leave, except this, kissing him, feels closer to revenge and Sam is here, Dean can grab his face and haul him down those stupid inches between them and kiss the fuck out of him, because Dean has lost too much to have everything else ripped away from him without giving it his all.

Sam’s mouth is warm and gasps open at a touch, tastes like nutmeg and cream and Sam, just Sam. It feels too right, like something Dean has always known how to do. That thought makes him shake, makes his fingers go slack on Sam’s cheeks—and Sam’s grip (when did Sam get a grip?) tightens on him, pulls him close enough to crush the breath right out of his chest as Sam kisses him back, chasing Dean’s tongue back through his parted lips.

It’s so, so wrong. The ornament on Dean’s sweater is digging into his stomach and Dean has made some huge mistakes in his life but nothing like this.

The sound of Zack and Jess’s applause and catcalls cut through him like harpy claws, frigid and shredding. Dean puts his hands on Sam’s shoulders, feeling the scrape of hand-glued snowflakes under his palms as he shoves Sam back, off him.

Sam’s mouth looks red and used, and that’s the only thing Dean lets himself see before he turns and does what Sam does best—he runs.


Outside the night is cool but not cold, because fucking California. There’s a yellow Prius almost parking him in, and—Dean’s hand goes to the pocket with his keys and touches fuzz instead, and he has to slam his eyes shut and make himself breathe because if he doesn’t he’ll find something to smash every single window of every single yuppy car he can find before the cops come haul him away.

The Impala’s hood is smooth and indifferent under his hands, glittering under the Christmas lights from the house. Shedding the god-awful sweater makes him feel like he can breathe again, even if it takes a lot of warmth with it. He doesn’t even feel all that drunk anymore, just empty and slightly dizzy. Fuck, fuck, fuck, what the hell did he just do?

“Dean! Dean, wait…”

He doesn’t really have a choice unless he bolts across the yard, but Dean is suddenly tired in a way that glues his feet to the ground better than his pride.

“Just—“ Sam looks frightened, and already half-resigned. “Please don’t leave like this.”

“Like what?” Dean snaps, lashing out, “Like you did? Dammit, Sam, it wouldn’t have killed you to pick up a fucking phone.”

“Yeah well I heard jack shit from you too! You made it pretty clear whose side you were on—“

“I shouldn’t have to choose sides,” Dean shouts. “You’re my family—god damn it, you’re my whole fucking world and you left.”

Sam catches him by the elbow hard enough to hurt, shakes him until Dean makes himself meet his eyes. “I left Dad,” Sam grits out like it’s costing him something vital, like a lung. “Dean, I—I had to get out of there. It was killing me. The way he treated us, the way he treated you, I couldn’t stay there. But I didn’t think—I just needed some room to breathe, I didn’t mean to write you out of my life. He’s the one who said never come back.”

“Right, he said it,” Dean points out. “Not me.”

“Is that why you haven’t talked to him since October?” Sam’s question is careful, coaxing; he’ll make one hell of a lawyer someday, and the thought makes Dean’s mouth snap shut. He can’t make himself say the word, but Sam must be able to read it off his face—he looks stunned, like Dean just told him he’d swallowed the moon.

“So I chose you,” Dean says, shoving his hands in his pockets as he looks away—it’s a stupid time to glance down and remember that he kissed that mouth, the mouth attached to his brother. That the reason it’s still flushed and red is because he pressed it too hard with his own. “Congratufuckinglations.”

“Dean,” Sam starts, but Dean can’t let him finish.

“Are you really that ashamed of me,” he makes himself ask, “that you won’t tell your friends that someone in your family actually gives a shit about you? That your brother drove all the way down here from fucking Arkansas so you wouldn’t have to spend your first Christmas alone?”

“You said you were just passing through,” Sam says, but he looks so heartbreakingly hopeful.

“Yeah, well, I lied.” Dean holds his hands out, palms up. “What the hell do you want to hear, Sam? That I missed you every single fucking day you were gone? That I’m that pathetic? Because it’s true.”

Sam makes a hurt noise in the back of his throat, the way he used to do when Dean pinned him during hand-to-hand combat practice and refused to tap out. He runs a hand through his already wild hair and clenches it into a fist. “I don’t—god, Dean, you’re not pathetic.”

“Pretty sure I am,” Dean counters. “Pretty sure normal guys don’t miss their little brothers like someone hacked off their hand. Pretty sure the number of times I almost called you is settled in the low thousands.”

“I did call you once,” Sam says, and Dean’s heart stops.

“What? Which number?” Sam rattles it off and Dean lets out a breath of—not relief, but something close. “That’s—shit, Sammy, that phone got stolen in a bar months ago. My other two phones were working just fine.”

“I couldn’t get up the nerve again.” Sam shrugs, shaking his head with a faint little laugh. “Man, someone found a really embarrassing message in that inbox.”

The flush on his face makes Dean think of the mistletoe with a jolt of something low in his stomach. “What message?” he asks, feet shifting him forward another inch into Sam’s space. They’re already closer than they should be, barely an arm’s length away.

Sam’s face scrunches up before he hides it behind his hands. “I thought you knew. I thought you were just waiting to call me out on being a sick fuck.”

“I wouldn’t do that.” Or if he did it’d be like calling him short, or a cucumber, something so untrue that it’s laughable. Even now, even with this kiss hanging between them, there’s not a cell in Dean’s body that doesn’t think Sam hangs the fucking moon, not at its core. It’s always been his problem.

Sam laughs, ugly and sad. “You don’t know what I said. What I—what I asked for.”

“Dude, I just made out with you under the mistletoe in front of your friends,” Dean points out, too loud for the quiet of the block, for all the music is softly drifting outside. “I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get weirder than this.”

“Um,” Sam says, expression going even more miserable, more pleading, like he wants Dean to pluck it right out of his brain. But Dean can’t, and he shrugs expressively at Sam. “It was. Sort of…more.”

“More than…kissing?” Dean guesses, basically at random. Somehow he really doesn’t expect Sam to set his mouth in a wretched line and nod. “From me?” he squeaks.

“No, from Santa Claus, who do you fucking think, Dean?” He starts to turn his back, yanking at the folds of his frosty sweater like he wants to rip it off and can’t make himself. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have—I can’t believe—“

Dean can’t let him leave. Not again, not possibly ever. He grabs Sam just above his wrist, yanks him back so fast they all-but stumble into each other, catching themselves against the cool breadth of the Impala.

Sam’s eyes are wide and his lips are slightly parted—Dean wishes they were somewhere cold enough to see his breath.

“That what’s on your Christmas list, Sammy?” he asks, dry mouthed and thick tongued.

Sam’s eyes go even wider. “That is the worst fucking line—

So Dean kisses him. Partly to shut him up but also because it was really nice last time, frighteningly nice. It still is—Sam’s fingers knotting instantly in the thin t-shirt Dean’s wearing at his waist to haul him closer, Sam’s foot knocking between Dean’s boots as he pushes him flat against the car. He gets Dean’s wrists in his hands and pins them, pushes back just far enough to look at him.

“Do you mean it?” Sam asks, searching his face with eyes gone dark with desperation. “Fuck, Dean, do you want this?”

“It’s a Christmas miracle,” Dean tries, chuckling hoarsely—Sam squeezes his wrists just this side of too tight. He ducks his head until it rests against Sam’s, tries to breathe past his heart beating triple time. He feels like he could shake apart. “Yeah. I do, Sam, fuck, I really do.”

“This isn’t you just playing along because you think you have to, to keep me,” Sam presses, verbally and physically. “Because you’ve got me, you jerk. You’re my brother.”

Sam’s words send a thick shiver down his spine, coiling in his belly, three parts turned on and one part scared shitless, burning at the self-loathing that’s been building up there for a while now, who knows how long.

He grabs Sam by the hair and kisses him, hard and hungry because it shouldn’t be possible, he can’t be this lucky. But maybe Sammy’s lucky enough for the both of them, that this twisted wrong thing can be so much goddamn joy.

“Are you good to drive?” Sam asks after eons of kissing, and his mouth is so wet and used Dean can’t find his tongue for a long moment, even though he was just using it. It doesn’t help that Sam is asking him more than if he’s too drunk to get behind a wheel; his look says he’s wondering if Dean’s sober enough to be making any sorts of decisions, which—he’s barely feeling the buzz anymore, too much adrenaline and cookies soaking up the rest.

“I—yeah,” he says, then as his thoughts catch up to him, “I’ve driven her thirty miles bleeding out into the floorwell, I’m not going to crash her on some froofy alcoholic—“

“I’ve had less than you,” Sam cuts him off, eyebrow high, “and I know where we’re going. Keys?”

“I left them in my jacket,” Dean mutters sullenly, which is not agreeing to let Sam drive even though Sam takes off at a run back into the house, leaving Dean feeling cold and…bereft, fuck it, he doesn’t know how he managed with states in between them when Sam being out of his sight now feels like a wrench.

It takes Sam a few minutes to return, so Dean busies himself with giving the Prius a few shoves to see if he can budge it from being quite so far up his baby’s tailpipe—and then Sam is back, dropping Dean’s jacket on his shoulders and a kiss to the back of his head like they’re in some sappy feature film. Dean has to wrestle him, get him in a headlock, Sam laughing like he might shake apart as he tucks his head against Dean’s belly and holds on.

“Such a brat,” Dean murmurs, fond, and pushes him into the car.


Sam driving the Impala always makes Dean feel like his ribs are out of order, but it’s good, it’s great, he gets to look his fill and watch Sam handle his baby, and it feels like home, like a cricked vertebra slotting back where it should be.

“So what’ve you been up to?” Dean asks, taking his time with each word.

Sam’s eyebrows bump up, but Dean thinks he sees his throat flush in the shifting traffic lights. “What do you mean?”

“I mean college is a time for experimenting. Isn’t that the line?” He’s proud of himself for not sounding bitter out of habit. “Come on, Sammy, spill. What sort of kinky shit did you try while I couldn’t walk in on you, huh?”

Sam lets out an unsteady breath, but Dean didn’t know any other way to say what he was thinking without making it worse. “What, kinkier than incest?”

The word still makes Dean twist up, and he doesn’t know if it’s good or bad. He settles for sinking down lower in his seat, knees flush up against the glove compartment as he runs his hands down his thighs. “Yeah,” he says, voice rough, “Maybe.”

Sam glances over from his dead-set focus on the road, disbelieving. “You—you aren’t going to jerk off.”

He hadn’t been, but there’s a thought. “Not if you don’t give me something good to think about.” Sam just bites his lip, hands glued to the ten-and-two position. “Come on, Sammy, you weren’t a monk the whole time, were you?”

“I was busy!” Sam says, hunching his shoulders up a bit. “And I couldn’t stop—“

“Stop what?” Dean presses when Sam looks like he might give up. He slides a little closer on the bench seat as Sam takes a left, lets momentum drag his ass across the leather, hip caught by the seatbelt. Is this what girls felt like when he was taking them out on dates in high school? He can feel every vibration pulsing up from the engine, buzzing in his skin. “Couldn’t stop thinking about me? What you wanted to do to me? What you wanted me to do to you?”

“Jesus,” Sam breathes, strangled. “Fuck, Dean, don’t do this now, man, I’m driving.”

“You won’t crash the car,” Dean says with a certainty that sits in his bones. He slides a hand over Sam’s thigh, slips it down to finger the seam. “You think about this?”

“…Fuck.” Sam has to shift gears as the light turns green, legs rubbing all over Dean’s hand as he moves them, shoving it up a little higher almost to the growing bulge in Sam’s jeans. “Yes, yeah, I did, but Dean—“

“Shh, it’s okay.” Automatic, soothing Sammy. “’M not going anywhere.” And he doesn’t—doesn’t move his hand the whole rest of the drive, just lets his thumb stroke across Sam’s balls over the coarse drag of his jeans.

“I’m going to kill you,” Sam gets out through his teeth as he pulls into the dorm parking lot, shifting out of third, second, giving it up and coasting to a wobbly stop with one foot down hard on the brakes. He has it in park before Dean can blink, seatbelt off and Sam coming for him across the car, pushing him flat against the door.

Somehow through all that Dean keeps his hand on Sam’s dick, bringing him to a shuddering halt with an unforgivable amount of space still between them.

“What’d you say in that message? Huh?” Dean asks, lifting his chin in a challenge as he wrings a low, feral whine from Sam with the palm of his hand.

“Not. Here.” Sam rolls his hips against Dean’s hand, a hard, deliberate grind. His eyes are too clear, watching Dean’s face for any cracks in his expression. “Too big for the car. Dorm beds aren’t that much bigger but—“ He grins, showing his teeth as he leans in close enough Dean can feel his breath. “I’ll need to sign you in. Whatever sophomore desk jockey they’ve got in there is going to know  what you’re here for.”

“Here for you, Sammy,” Dean says, “Came all this way for you,” and maybe some small part of him hoped Sam would take it like a gut punch but it still feels so fucking heady when he does.

Thank god there’s no one at the desk—bathroom break or they skipped out early after finals—Dean doesn’t care because Sam grabs a fistful of his shirt, low on his belly, and drags him into the elevator like he thinks Dean would ever try to run from this. And then it’s necking until the bell dings and the doors threaten to close on them again, falling out into the hallway, both of their hands stuffed in Sam’s back pocket because Sam is groping for the key and Dean’s just groping. He still gets the green light on the first swipe, and then they’re tripping into Sam’s dorm.

It’s grey and ugly and Dean hates how little of Sam he can see in here, even though he has the room to sprawl—one paper Christmas tree taped in the window and that’s all the glance he gets before Sam is on him again, kissing fierce and frantic.

“It’s okay, Sammy,” he gets out between kisses, soothing his hands down Sam’s sides. “’M not going anywhere.”

“Doesn’t feel real,” Sam says, pinning Dean to the door and crowding in close. “You shouldn’t want me back, this was never supposed to happen.”

Dean can’t think of the way this must’ve twisted like a knife in Sam’s belly, feeling so alone in this when Dean didn’t even realize what he’d wanted. Sam might deny it to his dying breath, but how much of leaving for school meant taking himself away from temptation to wreck their family? Thinking about it makes Dean’s chest ache.

“I killed a griffin last Friday,” he growls, gripping Sam by the back of his neck so he has to meet Dean’s eyes. “We grew up in the back seat of a car. What’s one more impossible thing?”

After a moment Sam gives a shaky nod, hair falling into his eyes and Dean’s eyes as their noses bump once, twice before Dean finds Sam’s mouth again, chases that sweet ache of being kissed too much.

“What do you want, Sammy?” Dean pants as Sam shifts down to kiss and nip at the pulse beating in his throat. “You want me here, huh? Against the door? You want me on your bed, on my knees?”

“Jesus, shut up,” Sam says, half-snapping, half-something-close-to-begging but Dean doesn’t have time to be smug, not when Sam yanks him toward the bed, shoving and wrestling with Dean’s muscle-memory the whole way and loving it, by the look on his face.

“That it, Sammy, you want to fight me for it?” Dean grins, baring his teeth as Sam gets him on his back, following after before Dean’s stopped bouncing on the mattress, snatching his breath away with one more growling kiss. So that’ll be a yes.

Dean gets his hands on Sam’s ass as quickly as possible, tries to splay his legs on instinct and—and can’t because Sam’s sitting on them, rocking forward into Dean’s lap as Dean’s grip reflexively tightens. Rubbing his ass along Dean’s cock through their jeans, seams dragging together, up on his arms with his hair in his eyes so he can get a look at the knocked-sideways expression on Dean’s face.

“Sam, you don’t wanna—“

“Yeah, I do,” Sam smirks.

Dean feels like he just licked the Sahara desert. “Really?”

“Want to see you,” Sam murmurs, rolling his hips in a move Dean hasn’t seen outside of lap dances; he bites back curses and clings on by his fingernails. “Want to feel it. Gonna make me feel it, Dean?”

Fuck,” Dean hisses as his own hips give a juddering thrust against Sam at the thought. “Yeah, Sam, yes, whatever you want.”

“Shirt off,” Sam gets out, already shedding his own and wriggling out of his jeans, barely lifting up long enough to manage it. When Dean fumbles for his own buckle Sam gets him by the wrist, pins it up by Dean’s head. “Let me,” he says, low enough Dean feels it vibrate through his skin.

Sam’s fingers thread under his belt as he nuzzles Dean’s stomach, and maybe it should feel strange but mostly it feels vulnerable and fucking amazing. Sam only pinned the one hand so Dean figures the other is fair game; he cards it through Sam’s hair at the curve of his skull, and chokes on a whimper when Sam tears everything down without undoing a single button, a rough burn of tight clothing over his hard cock and Sam panting like he’s run a mile when he finally gets to see it.

Dean’s cock is nothing special but Sam touches it like it’s sacred, even though he’s seen it before, though maybe not like this. “God, Dean, fuck,” he grits between gasps, rubbing his mouth against the head, not even really a kiss as his eyes flutter shut.

“Sammy.” Jesus, Dean’s voice sounds wrecked but he can’t, he can’t. “Please, Sammy, please.”

Sam’s eyes flicker open slowly, like he’s drugged, as he licks his lips and drags his gaze up Dean’s body—he gets stuck on something. “You kept it,” he says, thickly.

“Huh?” Dean shoves up on his free elbow to look where Sam is looking—but it’s just his amulet, glittering in the red and green lights outside Sam’s window. “Of course I did,” Dean blurts, too surprised to hide his incredulity at the thought. “You gave it to me.”

“Yeah I did.” It’s a long, slow slide of skin as Sam shifts up along his body until Sam can catch the amulet in his teeth, eyes burning right through Dean to leave him a gibbering mess. Sam presses it into the hollow of his throat with a kiss. “Best Christmas ever.”

“Yeah,” Dean says, too blissfully dumb for a line about trying to top it this year. He’s got his hands on Sam’s skin again, the miles of muscle at Sam’s back under his palms and Sam’s dick rocking against his, just a thin layer of Sam’s briefs between them. “Fuck, Sammy, is that a giant candy cane in your pocket or are you happy to see me?” Okay, maybe not dumb enough.

Sam rumbles a laugh deep in his chest. “I’m really happy to see you,” he says, circling his hips like it won’t drive Dean out of his mind. Dean’s hand finds his ass again, and it slides so easy between Sam’s cheeks, a soft push of cotton around Sammy’s hole and inside, just a little bit, when Sam bucks and swears.

“Do you have anything?” Dean gets out somehow, tugging on Sam’s hair until his head bows back, baring the delicate skin of his neck. It might help Sam think but it derails Dean’s thought process entirely.

“Um, yeah,” Sam says after a moment of glassy blinking. “Hang on.”

Dean lets out a whine he refuses to be ashamed of when Sam peels off him, briefs so low on his hips they might as well be see-through for the way they cling to Sam’s cock, fucking nothing to the imagination. It’s a good thing Sam wants to play power-bottom tonight because Dean’s going to have to work at fitting a monster like that in his ass.

He could take the time to get out of his jeans, but he likes the snugness of the belt trapping his thighs, and then Sam is back with a tube of something that clicks open—actual honest-to-god lube. And it looks half empty.

“That’s yours?” Dean asks as Sam ditches his underwear and Dean tries not to swallow his own tongue. “’Cause I don’t know how I feel about using your ex-roommates leftovers or—“

“It’s mine, Dean,” Sam says, rolling his eyes. “For my own personal use.” He lifts his eyebrows significantly.

“Oh.” For some ungodly reason this—more than anything else they’ve done—makes him blush. “You, uh. With your.”

“Yeah.” Sam straddles him again, staying high on his knees. Dean’s hands fit to his hips like they were made to fit, like pieces of a gun snicking back together, and that’s Sam’s cock, those are Sam’s balls snug against Dean’s belly as Sam leans down to kiss him again, reaching behind himself.

He can’t see but he knows the instant Sam gets a slicked finger into his ass; his breath hitches against Dean’s tongue, and he can’t seem to help rubbing just a fraction of an inch against Dean as he works his way up to two. He has to pull off—Dean chasing the swell of his lower lip with his teeth—when he twists, trying to get that third finger in with the angle all wrong but Dean’s got this, leaves one hand at the nape of Sam’s neck and trails the other down where Sam is slickest, twining with Sam’s fingers as they both push inside. Sam’s forehead hits Dean’s clavicle with a groan, and Dean pushes his head back into the pillow, trying to get enough air so he doesn’t pass out from how searing hot and tight Sam is.

He’s never going to survive actually fucking him. The noises Sam is making and the wet squelch of their fingers tangled together inside… Dean keeps biting back moans and failing, trying not to fuck up against Sam’s cock and come right now.

“Sammy, please,” he gets out, strangled and fucked-out already.

“Yeah,” Sam pants, “yeah, yeah.” Dean almost forgets to pull his fingers free when Sam does, fingertip catching at the edge of Sam’s asshole and making Sam whine.

He has to lift up enough for Dean to get a condom on, grabbed from who the fuck knows where because at this point Dean is pretty sure Sam is magic. A long hiss slides out of Dean’s mouth as he rolls it down the base and gives himself a firm squeeze—he needs to last, needs to make this good, and Sam looking at him like there’s nothing else in the world is not helping. He holds his cock still, tries not to notice the precome blurting in the tip of the pinched condom, tries to think of graveyards and coffins as he guides Sammy down with his free hand on Sam’s hip, works the head past Sam’s grasping rim with grunt and a gasp and a flush of color all down Sam’s chest.

“Oh,” Sam says, head tipped back as he sinks lower, lifts up, slides down until Dean is splitting him open all the way to the root. Sam’s flush gets darker, nipples peaked and ruddy. “That’s—oh, wow.”

Dean swallows an embarrassing noise and tries not to clutch too hard at Sam’s thighs. “Good wow?”

“Yeah, good.” Sam gets this almost lazy smile on his face as he rocks up, grinds back down, rubbing Dean all over his insides, watching Dean’s face every second under his lashes. When Sam gets a fist around his own cock and gives it a slow tug Dean almost hiccups with how much he wants, how much he’s already getting.

This time when Sam pulls off almost to the head Dean can’t help the fuck of his hips back into his brother, hard enough he makes Sam gasp out, “A-ah!” His jeans are still trapping his thighs, fucking with his balance—without thinking about it Dean pulls himself up, arm around Sam’s waist to keep him seated with his other hand rips at his belt behind Sam’s back, trying to shove it down to his knees with Sam suddenly so much closer, stuttering his hips forward as his cock drags along Dean’s belly.

It’s too much, too much, and Dean buries his face in Sam’s shoulder and tries not to fall apart, amulet thunking between their chests as they move. Sam’s noises are hitching higher with each breath, but Dean can’t—he rolls them over, caught by the wall Sam’s tiny bed is shoved against, doesn’t separate them an inch but it gives him more room to make Sam feel it, like he asked, dick him deep and hard and fast and no room between them for anything but this. Sam’s hands on his ass and Sam’s thighs locked around his waist and Sam’s dick pressed between their bellies tight enough that Dean can feel him harden that much more, feel his ass clench tremblingly-tight around Dean’s cock as Sam moans out, “Dean, fuck, fuck, Dean—

The first spurt of Sam’s come makes Dean flinch, it’s so hot, so wet, slicking the way as Dean’s rhythm judders, orgasm coiling in the back of his spine, something in him pulling too tight.

“Hey, I got you,” Sam gets out, almost soundless as his hand—the same hand that’s held knives and pens and Dean’s heart since he was born—fits to the nape of his neck, unsteady fingers tangling in the chord of his amulet. “I got you.”

Dean squeezes his eyes shut and comes, hard enough it hurts, hips slamming into Sam as some spark in his lizard brain tries to get his spunk in there so deep Sam will feel it, condom or no. Sam takes it—more than takes it, arches languidly into Dean’s thrusts even though it has to be sensory overload. He offers up his shoulder as he nips at Dean’s, and Dean sets his teeth to Sam’s skin just for something to focus on so he doesn’t fly apart at the seams.

Sam doesn’t seem to want to let him go, and Dean is so down with that plan but he has to pull out  eventually, has to get rid of the condom and clean Sammy up with a clean sock he swiped from a drawer on his way to the bathroom stuffed in one corner of the room. When he comes back, wet sock in hand, Sam is on his side, arms pulled in kind of close to his chest.

“Hey, Sammy,” Dean says, kneeling down so he can brush the sweat-damp hair from Sam’s head and tap at his noggin. “What’s going on in there?”

Sam catches Dean’s wrist, stilling the make-shift washcloth Dean was using to swipe at the mess drying on his chest. “When do you have to leave for Washington?”

“Washington?” Dean blinks twice before it clicks, and then winces hard enough to squeeze his eyes shut. “Oh, the...the gig. Sam, I never had a hunt lined up in Washington. I never even had a hunt lined up here, I just—fuck, I just wanted to check in on you. I haven’t had a Christmas without you since you were born.”

Sam’s throat is working, and his eyes are wide and sappy-wet before he ducks his head. “Jesus. We really are a pair.” He says it half-murmured into the curve of Dean’s knuckles, and Dean thinks he should be crawling out of his skin with so much physical, casual contact but instead he feels half-starved for it, so many months apart not enough to account for the deep-seated hunger that’s always been twisted around his bones, quiet whispers of SamSamSam in his bloodstreams.

“Could we do Christmas here? Our way?” Sam asks, timid like he doesn’t know Dean would shoot down the moon if Sam wanted him to.

Dean can’t breathe, but he makes himself say, “What, with a beer can wreathe and shitty take out, grainy Christmas special on TV and shitty gas station gifts—“

“Yes, yeah,” Sam says, cutting him off as he surges forward for a kiss. “All of it. I never needed anything more than you.”

A hitching sort of whine hooks in the back of Dean’s throat that he’ll deny to his dying breath, but he has much better things to do with his mouth at the moment. He presses Sam back into the bed with kisses, nudges until Sam slides over and Dean can slot into his favorite place: between Sam and the door, the wall guarding Sam’s back.

“I’ve got three weeks,” Sam says just as Dean is drifting off, his head nudges against Dean’s on their shared pillow. “And then—“

“I know, Sammy,” Dean grumps, pinching sleepily at Sam’s side because that used to shut him up when Sam was thirteen and whined about having to share a bed. He knows Sam’s got to stick to the normal track, at least for now. But somehow it doesn’t feel so much like Sam’s not choosing Dean when he doesn’t choose hunting. Sam has always been able to see a difference between the two of them; Dean is still poking at the possibility in his head, the concept that he might be a person first, hunter second. It’s not what Dad taught him.

“No, listen.” Sam takes a breath and pushes up on one arm so he can look down at Dean’s face. “The reason you couldn’t find a hunt around here? I’ve been taking care of them.”

“You what?” Dean’s heartbeat is suddenly beating triple-time, more frightened by this—by the thought of Sam hunting things alone—than anything else that’s happened tonight. He has to fight to keep himself still and not throttle Sam until he promises to never pull that shit again.

Sam knows it, by the look on his face; he waits long enough that Dean has to calm down or give himself an ulcer, then says, “I only hunted alone when I had to, when I had time, which really wasn’t that often. Mostly I let other hunters know about it, but most of them aren’t local.” He raises his eyebrows.

“Are you asking me to stick around?” Something squirms in his belly, and he’s not sure it’s all good. He doesn’t know how to do permanent.

“I’m asking you to think about it.” Sam leans down as sets his teeth to Dean’s shoulder, just hard enough to feel it. “I could be your home base.”

Dean closes his eyes and breathes out, slow. “Yeah, Sammy,” he says, “I’ll think about it.” But Sam’s always been that pin in the map Dean orbits around, tied by string and blood and family.

Sam nods against his shoulder, just a brief little shiver of his head. Then, “Very least, there’s always spring break,” he says. Dean can hear his smile. “Jess’s family’s got a house boat down south. You could come with me.”

“As your boyfriend?” Dean asks the top of Sam’s bangs where they’re twisted in every direction.

Sam’s chuckle rumbles through them both as he toys with Dean’s amulet. “I’ll wear your letter jacket if you wear my class ring.”

They never stayed at a high school long enough to get either of those things, but Dean gets what he’s saying. “Man, what we really need now are matching tattoos.”

“Hmm.” Sam’s hand drifts over his heart.

Dean lets his eyes slide shut, lets the whirring of Sam’s brain and the steady thump of Sam’s heart carry him under. He dreams of snow.

The End

Twas the week before Christmas and more often than most

Not a monster was creeping, not even a ghost

Sammy was hung, no stockings, all bare

In hopes that his brother soon would be there


The hunters soon nestled all snug in their bed,

While visions of killing things danced in their heads;

And Dean in his heart, after Sam’s many kisses,

Knew they’d done right by the family business.