The first hint that there's something wrong is when Sam wakes up in the middle of the night to a mouth on his.
He's not sure where he is at first, not sure if his eyes are still closed or if it's just dark around him. The only thing certain is the soft pressure on his lips, and the shock of that is enough to have him gasping into the mouth of the person above him. His throat is suddenly tight, all the air in his body pushed out, but the kiss merely deepens for one second longer, a hint more pressure, a tiny sliver of tongue smoothing over his bottom lip, before it's gone.
His eyes are definitely open. Sam pants into the silence, staring blankly up at mottled ceiling of the motel room, dimly illuminated by the light streaming out from the bathroom. He can hear someone—Dean—rattling around in there, in the way he does when he's trying to be quiet. Sam turns his head, squinting at the clock on the bedside table. 2:04 am.
He pushes up on his elbows, bedsheets shifting around him, still feeling like the world has somehow been knocked off it's axis. He sees the blurry shape of his brother in the doorway of the bathroom, turning and pausing with his hand at the light switch.
“Sorry, Sammy, didn't mean to wake you up,” he says, his voice low and casual.
Sam stares at him, unable to open his mouth. Suddenly the idea of saying, “Did you just kiss me?” seems not only humiliating, but ludicrous in it's impossibility. The words freeze in his mouth.
Without waiting for a reply, Dean flicks the light off, and blackness drops down around them. Sam can't quite hear Dean's footsteps over the sound of his own breath, but he feels the bleed of heat from Dean's presence when Dean passes him.
Dean collapses back into bed, making drowsy, happy noises, while Sam lowers himself down slowly, trying to get his heartbeat to return to normal.
He brushes it off (sleepy, dreaming, lots of possible explanations), but it's a hell of a lot harder to brush it off when it happens the next morning, irrefutable as a hickey on a teenager's neck.
They're sitting in a booth at the diner, by the wall with the windows looking out onto the parking lot so Dean can moon at the Impala while he stuffs his face with pancakes and sausages. Sam is kicked back in his seat, absentmindedly sucking barbeque sauce off of his fingers while he scans the newspapers for a job. It would do good to get Dean's mind off of Dick Roman with a quick salt and burn. Dean is always a little happier after a clean hunt where Sam didn't get hurt and Dean got to burn something.
“Hey, Dean,” he says, leaning forward across the table and laying the newspaper flat before him, trying not to get it in the puddle of syrup Dean is dripping off of his plate. “Looks like there might be something a couple towns over. A girl was found dead in the basement of her house. It looked like she'd just hung herself, but get this: her hands had been cut off and then sewn back on...on the opposite arms.”
He looks up expectantly, but Dean is merely gazing at him, his eyes soft the way they sometimes are when it's early in the morning and he hasn't remembered all the reasons he might be mad at Sam. Like always, that look only lasts a second once Sam actually meets his eyes, but this time it's because his brother is leaning across the table and kissing him, gentle and sweet.
Usually, Sam has good reflexes—can dodge werewolves and pissed off spirits with only a second's notice—but right now, for some inexplicable reason, every single cell in his body has turned to concrete. His eyes are still open and he can see the earnest little crinkles at the edges of Dean's closed eyes. He can feel Dean suck his top lip between his own, and can hear it when his brother lets out the tiniest sigh against his mouth, like he is just so fucking happy.
Sam's barely even registered that it's happening before Dean is pulling back, their lips parting slowly, Dean's eyes still closed and a smile on his face as he settles back in his seat.
Sam feels kind of like a building after an earthquake. Flattened right to the fucking ground.
His internal implosion is interrupted by a small cough.
Dean—who has been poking at his pancakes since the kiss that may or may not have been nothing more than a recurrence of Sam's hallucinations—glances over at the same time as Sam to see their waitress standing next to the table, her cheeks pink.
“Um, sorry to interrupt you two—” She giggles at that, looking ridiculously pleased over an event that had just fucked up Sam's entire world view and that she shouldn't even have seen considering that it couldn't have actually happened except that it apparently had, in the middle of a goddamn diner, and Sam is about to pass out if he doesn't start breathing sometime this century. “—I was just going to ask how you were finding the meal and if you wanted anything else.”
Dean smiles up at her, his face smoothing out into that easy, charming, almost-leer he gives every woman older than 18 and younger than 50, angling his body towards her in a subtle invitation as if he didn't just reach across the table and give Sam the non-medical version of CPR.
“Just maybe some more water, sugar. Me and my little brother gotta hit the road soon.” He nods his head towards Sam.
The waitress's expression does some impressive acrobatics before it settles down into a flipped version of the smile it was before.
“E-Excuse me?” she stutters. “Brother?”
“Actually,” Sam says, finally regaining control over his limbs and surging to his feet. “We're just going to go. Now.”
He rips some cash out of his wallet, more than is needed, and throws it on the table. By some miracle, he is able to make eye contact with Dean without his gaze slipping down to fasten on his brother's mouth, and he glares in a way that says “follow my lead right now, or there will be hell to pay”. Dean thankfully decides to take that advice and stands up, casting one regretful look at the last few bites of his pancake before following Sam out the door.
“Dude, what was that about?” Dean asks, shoving his shoulder into Sam's. “We didn't need to go that soon!”
Sam whirls around, gaping at his brother.
“Dean, are you kidding me? Wha—why the hell did you even—what were—”
He gives up on words, settling instead for gesturing wildly to first his own mouth, then Dean's, then the diner behind them, trying to encompass this entire clusterfuck in one flail of his arms.
Dean just raises an eyebrow.
“You can explain what you're freaking out about any day now!” he says.
Sam's mouth falls open even wider, which he frankly hadn't thought was possible.
“You—I—Dean, do you even remember what you just did?”
Dean rolls his eyes.
“Uh, yeah. I ate food, you rambled about a potential case, the waitress came over, and then you decided we needed to leave right that fucking second!”
Sam stares. It takes a second for it to filter into his brain: Dean actually has no idea that he just kissed Sam. He doesn't remember it. But the waitress had definitely seen it. It had not been a Sam-only kind of special hallucination, it had actually happened, and yet Dean is not aware of it at all. Even though he had been the one to do the kissing!
It is massively unfair, Sam thinks distantly, that Dean gets to skip the mind-fuck even though he's the one who caused it.
“By the way, that doesn't even sound like our kind of case,” Dean throws over his shoulder, striding past Sam in the complete opposite direction of the car. “Hands sewed on the wrong arms? I'm calling serial killer.”
Apparently Sam can't win at all this morning.
“Now, if you don't mind, Princess,” Dean says. “I'm going to head to that convenience store and buy myself some goddamn candy, because you didn't let me finish my goddamn food!”
Sam winces as Dean whirls around dramatically and stalks off. He'd forgotten how prissy Dean gets when he doesn't get to scrape every crumb of food off the plate. If anyone is deserving the role of Princess, it's his brother.
Who kissed him this morning. For what was probably the second time.
“Enjoying your present?”
There's a fluttering sound behind him and he turns to see Cas appear out of thin air, head cocked to the side, face as blank as a chalkboard at the end of the schoolday. He blinks owlishly at Sam, then smiles.
With the trenchcoat and white clothes from the mental hospital underneath, it's more than a little creepy.
“Present?” Sam asks, feeling slightly winded for no reason.
Cas nods enthusiastically, stepping closer in one fluid, inhumanly fast movement. Sam leans backwards, trying somehow to regain his personal space bubble (well, Winchester space bubble, as it's never bothered him for some reason when Dean gets closer than is strictly normal) without actually moving away.
“Sam Winchester,” Cas says gravely. “I did you a terrible wrong when I broke your wall. And I may have made some recompense when I took on your pain, but I have not made up the incredible debt I owe you yet. Also, I like your shoes.”
“You—what?” Sam is understandably derailed by the shoe comment and he takes a minute to glance down, just to make sure that Cas hasn't somehow magically replaced his ordinary boots with sparkly pink heels or something. He hasn't forgotten Dean's story about Cas and nudity and a whole lot of bees.
“Pay attention, Sam,” Cas berates, tapping him lightly on the cheek with one finger. Sam flinches instinctively, but settles into the touch with only a hint of reservation. Apparently taking Sam's basket of crazy meant that Cas had become a lot more touchy-feely.
“Cas, look, you don't owe me anything else,” he says. “I know you weren't you when you broke my wall and you basically...well, look at you now. You don't need to pay anything more than you alre—”
“Wrong!” Cas chirps. “I think you're wrong, and that's why I've done this for you!”
He spreads his arms wide. Sam stares.
“This?” Sam repeats cluelessly.
Cas purses his lips and squeezes his eyes shut, posing like that for a second before opening his eyes and smiling at Sam again, like a puppy looking for approval after peeing all over the carpet. It hits Sam like a cold fish thrown at his face.
“You did something to Dean!” he exclaims, backing up and pointing in accusation.
“Correct!” Cas says excitedly. “I removed Dean's inhibitions regarding his frequent desire to kiss you. Now whenever he feels the urge, he simply does so, and has no memory of it afterwards. It's my gift to you!”
Once, when Sam was seventeen, he'd gotten kicked in the stomach by a werewolf. This feels vaguely like that.
“It should only last approximately 48 hours, so enjoy it while you are able,” Cas says, oblivious to Sam's mute distress. “If you'll excuse me, I have to get back to Meg. I believe she'll have acquired the lube and whips by now.”
With that lovely parting thought, he vanishes.
“Whips?” Sam whimpers. That is definitely one mental image he is never going to be getting rid of.
Apparently his brother wants to be kissing him. Wants. Wants to be kissing. Him. Sam. Dean wants to be kissing Sam. And now because of Cas's...gift...Dean is kissing Sam, whenever he wants to, without having to deal with whatever mess would've followed after if this kind of thing had actually happened in real life.
When Dean comes back from the convenience store and orders Sam into the car, driving in some random direction because they still don't have a case, Sam thinks it all over. He glances at Dean, calm now in the zen state he reaches sometimes while driving, and thinks about all the different ways Dean looks at him, and this new knowledge he has that sometimes those looks mean Dean wants to kiss him. The very idea of it is insane, and yet it's his reality now. How long, he wonders, has this been something Dean's lived with? When did Dean look at him and realize that he wanted to be closer to Sam in ways that don't fit who they are? The thought that it could have been years makes Sam feel prickly under his skin, strangely hot and tense. His mouth feels like it doesn't belong to him anymore, just another part of him Dean has claimed. If Sam is a piece of land, Dean is a conquering country, planting his flag and taking it all.
Sam can easily guess why Dean has never tried anything, and when he remembers the two, soft kisses he'd received it feels kind of like he's done something wrong by having that, having that memory when Dean doesn't, and wouldn't have ever done it in his right mind. Dean is the one who has wanted this for some time, apparently, and yet Sam is the one who knows what his brother's lips tastes like. He thinks about maybe pushing his brother away the next time he tries to kiss him. If Dean doesn't remember any of the kisses, surely he won't remember the rejection, right?
But when they pull into a little town and Sam points out that there is one of those arcades that Dean used to like when they were kids and Dean lights up like a Christmas tree and leans across the seat to plant a brief, hard kiss on Sam's mouth, he realizes that there's no point.
It only lasts a day or two, right? And Dean is...Dean is happy about it. For the few seconds before and after each kiss, Sam can see it on his face, can see the creases on his forehead smooth out, his entire expression softening.
Sam still doesn't see how this is a gift for him, but it's making Dean happier than he's ever seen him, even if Dean can't remember it minutes later.
So Sam decides to save the freak out for later, and he lets him.
He lets Dean give him a peck on the cheek when he gets out of the car. He lets Dean lick into his mouth for a taste of toothpaste when Sam is finishing brushing his teeth in the tiny motel bathroom. He lets Dean shove him up against the door and kiss him for long, heady stretches of time, one minute spiralling into the next with each dream-hazy hot press of Dean's mouth against his. And if it gets a little harder each time to let the kiss come to it's natural end and not keep going, push forward when Dean pulls back, eat at his mouth and watch his eyes flicker shut again and feel a smile curve against his skin—well, it's just that it's hard to let go when he knows Dean will forget in seconds and that this happy version of his brother will fade away. There's something addicting about seeing Dean like this.
Maybe that's why this is a gift for him, Sam realizes. He's getting to see Dean in a way he hasn't been able to in years. It keeps hitting him in the moments when his brother is leaning in that this...this is Dean when he's happy.
Most of the kisses are gentle, and that's the bit that surprises him the most. Turns out that when Dean gets this urge, most of the time it ends up being almost unbearably tender, almost romantic.
That doesn't really change until the next night.
He's shoved out of sleep by the sound of someone gasping, shocked and wet in the darkness of the room. He places it instantly as Dean, moving fitfully in the other bed, and Sam is abruptly pulled out of the bubble he's been living in the past day or so and shot back to the months after Dean had gotten back from hell and would wake Sam up in the middle of the night with his screams. He's hurtling out of bed and leaning over Dean's within seconds, grabbing him and shaking him, hard.
“Dean? Dean, you okay?”
Dean jerked under his hands, the glint of his eyes only just visible when they fly open. His chest is heaving under Sam's palm, and his hips are still writhing unconsciously, not slowing as he makes eyes contact.
“Sammy,” he pants, reaching up, and Sam has one second to realize “shit, it wasn't a nightmare, it was—” before he's being yanked down onto the bed and Dean's body is pressing him into the mattress.
The mouth that meets his isn't a gentle one this time. It's like he's being devoured, heat so invasive that it feels like his head is going to explode, Dean all lips and teeth and smooth, insistent tongue. His brother's hands are everywhere, fingers pushing at the rapid fire beat of his pulse at his throat, curving around his hip and nudging his legs apart so Dean can settle in between them and rock forward, grinding sweet and dirty against Sam.
Sam's head falls back, his breath jerking out of him and skating across Dean's hovering mouth, their lips catching on every other push, and Sam doesn't know how he hasn't passed out already because he can feel the hot pressure of Dean's dick digging into his hip as Dean ruts against him, and the very concept of that is so mindblowing that he can't even think to push his brother away. Dean's eyes are on his, half-lidded, thin green band around the black explosion of his pupils. The easy happiness of every other kiss before is gone from his face, replaced with a dark, burning, predatory look, and Sam feels like the stupidest person on the planet because somehow he didn't see this coming.
Dean doesn't just want kisses, he wants this.
Dean attacks his mouth again, and Sam can't help it, he's kissing back as if it's one of the reflexes drilled into him as a kid—You see something coming towards your head out of the corner of your eye, you duck, Sam, and when your brother licks at the seam of your mouth you open up and let him in and suck on his tongue like a whore, you understand me? He's shaking all over, his body officially completely beyond his control. Dean's bare chest slides against Sam's sleep t-shirt and Sam wants it gone, wants to be able to feel their skin pressed together. He's gasping against Dean's lips, pinned down and unable to move, unable to get away, and Sam comes to the sudden, horrifying realization that his own cock is chubbing up too, jerking fitfully in his boxers when Dean shifts his body and lines them up properly.
Jesus fucking Christ.
Terror is climbing up his throat and blocking his vision and all he can feel everywhere is Dean, all over him, plush lips sucking at the edge of his jaw, rough hands gripping his thighs, his cock sliding hard and so fucking good over the swell of Sam's, and Sam thinks he's going insane because this is so much more fucked up than letting Dean kiss him and he can't do this, he fucking can't—
“That's it,” Dean whispers in his ear, low voice like sandpaper dragged over satin. “That's it, Sammy, come on. So fucking good, baby boy, just give it up for me.”
His brother's mouth lands on his again and Sam kisses him hard so he won't say anything else because he doesn't think he's going to be able to hold on if Dean keeps talking. This whole thing is supposed to be about giving Dean something. Sam's not supposed to enjoy it, he's not supposed to want this, and yet his body wants to clutch at Dean, wrap his legs around him and just let him do whatever he wants. If he wants to get out of this with his sanity intact, he has to end it now.
Sam shoves his hand down between them and slides it into Dean's boxers, quick, before he can think about it too hard. He wraps his fingers around Dean's cock, so distracted by the shocking heat of it and the way it feels in his palm, slightly fatter than his own, that he barely notices the way Dean shudders above him. Sam's thumb strokes over the slick, spongy head, Dean's breath hitting the side of his face in hot, desperate pants, and he wonders if this is what throwing yourself off a cliff feels like, because he's got his brother's dick in his hand. He pumps his arm automatically, instinct taking over even with the weird angle, but that knowledge keeps hitting him every few seconds, somehow surprising him each time.
This is Dean. This is my brother. This is the boy who pulled me out of a fire, this is the boy who put band-aids on my knees, this is the boy who taught me how to talk to girls. This is the man who sold his soul for me, this is the man who died in my arms, this is the man I went to hell for.
“Sam,” Dean murmurs, pressing his sweaty forehead to his brother's. His eyes are fever-bright and Sam stares up at him, his own mouth falling open as he marvels that he gets to see this, to see Dean like this. He's so, so beautiful like this, shaking and growling and fucking his hips forward into Sam's fist and this is his brother, Dean. This is Dean when he's coming, silent and furious, tiny huffs of air leaking out of his mouth as he stares at Sam like he's never seen him before, his cock pulsing against Sam's skin and shooting up into his boxers and all over Sam's fingers.
Sam works him through it on autopilot, squeezing and wringing it all out of him, transfixed by the tiny shudders rolling through Dean's body. He lets go when Dean starts to wince a little and worms his hand out from between their bodies, absolutely not paying attention to the way his soaked hand drags over Dean's skin and smears come on his own shirt. His brother slumps down, breathing heavily, just holding his torso up on his elbows so he doesn't crush Sam.
Sam has only a minute to give himself a sick sort of congratulations for making his brother blow his wad all over him before he feels Dean shift and start to move his hand sleepily down Sam's chest. Sam only just registers the tips of Dean's fingers scraping across the spine of his dick through his damp boxers before he's squirming out from underneath his brother, moving fast before he loses his resolve and lets Dean return the favour. Dean makes a slight protesting noise, but Sam just bats away his hands and slides out of the bed, his legs wobbly and his cock loudly disagreeing with the “move-away-from-the-brother-you-just-sexed-up” plan. He stands there for a second, watching Dean's face change as he forgets, slipping back into sleep as easily as if nothing had ever happened.
It seems darker in the room now. He's breathing too loudly, as if he's trying to inhale the whole room, ridiculously laboured compared to Dean's breath, evened out in sleep. He can smell sex in the air, and his stomach turns. It feels like something within him has been knocked slightly off kilter, like a gear has been dented and now the whole machine has ground to a halt.
He lurches into the bathroom and meets his own gaze in the mirror, looking guilty as hell. He closes his eyes and steadies his hands, clutching at the counter until he can feel the strain grinding in his finger joints.
Then he jerks himself off over the toilet fast and efficient, sucking hard on two fingers still coated in Dean.
The morning dawns bright and horrible. When Dean shakes him awake, he doesn't lean down and press his mouth, closed to avoid morning breath, briefly to Sam's. He also doesn't kiss him when they jostle at the sink to shave. He doesn't kiss him at the diner, or in the car, or when Sam finds them a case just a few towns over.
At first, Sam thinks he's being bizarrely punished for what he let happen last night, but then he remembers: Cas said it only lasted for somewhere around 48 hours.
His gift has run out of juice, and Dean is back to acting the way he always did before, before Sam knew that his brother felt some very un-brotherly things towards him. All the urges are still there; Sam has gotten used to what Dean's “I want to kiss you” faces looks like, so he recognizes it whenever it flickers across his brother's face, right before he turns away or changes the topic. God, how long has he been missing this?
“What's up with you?” Dean asks, resting his arms on his shovel. They're almost done re-burying the corpse they just salted and burned. It's been only a few days since Cas's gift-that-ruined-Sam's-life had ended, and although it took them a little while to figure out who the vengeful spirit was for this case, it was dead easy to subdue. It barely put up a fight when they dug up the grave, easily scared away from them by a few rock-salt shotgun blasts that gave them enough time to salt and burn it.
“What do you mean?” Sam says, smoothing the dirt on top of the grave with his shovel. He doesn't want to look at Dean, dirty and dishevelled and sweaty, close enough that he could reach out and pull him in if he wanted. Which he doesn't. Obviously.
“You've been moping around this whole case like someone stole your teddy bear or something,” Dean says. “Did something happen that you haven't told me about?”
Yeah, a couple days ago you kept kissing me, which was really fucking weird, until it stopped and I realized I really, really miss it. Also, I jerked you off.
“Yeah, right,” Dean scoffs. “You think I can't tell when something's wrong? Come on, out with it.”
Sam's fist clenches around the handle of his shovel. He stands up and throws a brief, furious look at his brother. This is all Dean's fucking fault in the first place.
“Just drop it, Dean,” he grits out, gathering up their tools with sharp, angry movements.
“What, so it's going to be more secrets is it?”
He can hear the sullen, obstinate tone in his brother's voice and he closes his eyes, imagining the next few days, full of Dean alternating between prying and lapsing into tense silence, stewing in his resentments. God, he should've just made something up, thrown Dean off so he wouldn't think it was something even worse than it is.
Without answering, he sets off towards the car.
They pack away the shovels and salt and gasoline in cold, frigid silence. Sam wants to break it. Sam wants to go back to how it was a few days ago.
They slide into the car and just sit there for a minute, the air between them miserable and strained. Dean is staring at the steering wheel, his brow furrowed, obviously trying to work out on his own what it could be that Sam is keeping from him.
Sam watches him, breathless almost with the sudden punch of want that hits him. He remembers the way Dean kissed him, careful and gentle and loving, and he realizes now that he wasn't going along with it just to make Dean happy, but because it made him happy as well. Why can't they be like that? God, if both of them want it, all that's holding them back is stupid fear, stupid rules, stupid society. They've already given enough. Why can't they have this?
His brother looks over, mouth open to answer, and then freezes at the touch of Sam's fingers on his cheek. He doesn't move, doesn't draw away or shift closer, just stays there, eyes wide and watchful on Sam's, as Sam curls his hand around the side of Dean's face. Sam doesn't speak, doesn't say anything else, just leans in, slowly enough that there's no way Dean can mistake his intent. Sam closes his eyes, leans across the seat, and kisses his brother for the first time.
It's short, and Dean doesn't respond, but Sam presses forward and gives it all he's got, trying to say everything with this one action. He draws Dean's bottom lip into his mouth and slides his hand into Dean's hair. Kisses him sweet and hard and pulls away slowly, keeping his eyes shut until he's sitting back in his seat, hand slipping back into his lap, heart hammering like he just had a near-death experience.
When he opens his eyes, Dean hasn't moved an inch. His lips are wet and a slow flush is creeping up his cheeks. He's staring at Sam, his face so open that Sam can actually see the hope bloom in him, tentative, but gaining strength every second. Sam can't help but smile a little, and as soon as he does, Dean is launching himself across the seat and grabbing him by the face and planting kisses all over his mouth, laughing a wild, unfamiliar, beautiful laugh.
“Sammy,” he says, so fucking happy, the word smushed up between their lips.
Sam falls back against the car door and pulls Dean on top of him, gazing at the crazy, brilliant light in his eyes, and he realizes that he was wrong—this isn't just Dean when he's happy; this is Dean when he's in love.