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Exceed His Grasp

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It's a nothing day. It's a day made to slip between the cracks and be forgotten, and both of them will forget it. It's a day of inconsequential specifics: the hiss of rain out on the motel parking lot, the low drum of a leak emptying into a bucket somewhere, unstitched quilting of the bedspreads, nap of the carpet through his socks, and Sam's hand on his face, together with the rasp it makes on his stubble.

Sam's hands can palm a basketball. They encompass Dean's face easily. That's a relief, to be encompassed easily. He feels slight but he needs it, and he might feel weak for both the feeling and the need except that he made those hands, sort of.

Dean could count the times Sam's touched him quite like this on his own fingers and have some left over. Often enough he's come around from getting thrown into something to feel Sam's hand on his face, warm and enormous, though that contact doesn't seem to be a need for Sam the way it is for Dean; Sam, when he's checking you over, tends to go straight for the vital organs. But it's not the same.

It's not the same either those times when Dean's gone to his knees for Sam and one or both of those hands falls to the back of his head. Not that that happens much, anyway; Sam's SOP for receiving a blowjob seems to be to flatten himself against the nearest surface and make choked-off, half-agonized sounds until he comes despite himself, still trying to hold back. There are volumes in the joints of Sam's fingers at times like that, leaking out faster the harder he tries to hold onto them, but whatever this is isn't mentioned in them anywhere.

So it's not about near-death experiences, and it's not a prelude to sex. Dean doesn't know exactly what it is.

They're sitting, cleaning weapons. Dean's got the guns, Sam's got the knives. They talk. No banter. No stakes. Just discussing routes and mail drops and all the absolute dullest logistical aspects of their lives in a gray little room somewhere, Dean on the edge of his bed, Sam on the edge of his own, facing each other, knees knocking in the gap. Sam finishes the knives but stays. Dean finishes with the Beretta and looks up to find Sam looking at him.

His face is almost empty of expression. The look is simply—attention. He's thinking something back there, but who knows what. Dean starts to feel a little self-conscious. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred he'll deal with that by deflecting with a crack of some kind, but there's such a lulling drabness to this place that he can't be bothered. So he sits, coloring faintly, and lets Sam look.

Sam's expression shifts, and Dean knows this one even if he's only ever seen it a handful of times. It's a subtle determination just before he reaches out. There's no uncertainty in Sam's eyes, no struggle or overt vulnerability, but something in his determination tugs at Dean's heart, anyway.

His hand comes up and cradles Dean's face. There is no other word for this. It's not a grip, it's not a caress; it's just Sam, fitting his brother in the palm of his hand. Dean looks back, eyes wide.

Sam's fingers are so long that their tips part the hair at the back of Dean's head even with the heel of his hand so near Dean's mouth he could turn his head and kiss it. He goes to blink and somehow leaves his eyes closed. Sam's palms are slightly callused in the centers, more so on the little mounds right below the webbing between each finger. They're certain, dry, and warm. They're broad as giant sunflower heads, and Dean lets himself feel pride, because he grew these hands. He fed them, held them, and trained them, but he never taught them to do this. He never could have taught Sam how to touch without desperation.

He's glad Sam figured it out on his own, because once in a while, Dean needs it.