Looking back, Sam wasn’t sure which one it was that got the ancient puzzle pieces of his heart moving from the places where they had been sitting, dusting away, for all his life.
Several moments were candidates and as Sam gently pressed down the needle of the vinyl player, heart beating like it was bursting out of his chest, cartoon style and the whole nine yards, all of those moments swam around in his mind without order, entwined. A part of why he had to lean on the table for a bit before getting up was probably because of the toll the three trials were taking on his body but – that time – it was a very small part.
The rest was psychosomatic.
“Sammy! Just in time for a nightcap.” Dean lifted his gaze up from the dusty pile of papers he had been reading, raised his whiskey glass in salute.
“I wanna dance.”
Dean flinched so badly that half of the whiskey spilled on the table. He looked down at the lost liquor and then back at Sam, squinting his eyes.
“You – you wanna dance? Dude, don’t get me wrong, we all know you should let your hair down sometimes and just so we’re clear I don’t mean it in the literal sense. I bought a pair of clippers on my last supply run and –“
“Dean. This isn’t a disco. I meant dance.”
Predictable next stage, acute worry over sanity: “What’s going on, Sam? You sure you –“
“I’m fine. The Moon’s up. Not that we can see it from here.” Great, that’s going smoothly. Aim for normalcy. Domestic. Domestic’s the key. “The door’s locked, nothing urgent to do, the dinner was great – thank you for cooking, by the way, never knew you can do curry—”
“Something’s up.” Dean’s eyes widened in alarm. “Talk to me. Are you feeling dizzy again? Is it the trials—“
“No, it’s not the trials, I just really, really want to dance.” It was not going anywhere near like Sam wanted to, so he decided to act before he’d make an even bigger ass out of himself. He walked to Dean, his gaze got tragically permastuck on the grey robe Dean was wearing and his face was probably sporting a shade of red so deep it only existed in Hell – nevertheless Sam extended his hand.
“I just really want to dance with you.”
Maybe Meg started it.
When Meg said it, Sam was so, so happy her spiritual cavity search on him had been several years, umpteen deaths and an armageddon ago.
She was right, of course, about Sam’s deepest dream, the one he never got to live out with Jess, not fully.
There was no point in holding back the Amelia story, so he shared it with her. She even seemed to understand, well, as much as ever was possible with the decaying demon heart of hers. Apparently Castiel’s sea blue stares had incidental powers beyond the celestial simple.
Meg had called Amelia a unicorn. Later, Castiel the one of hers. Sam’s mind randomly dug up one of the funniest misheards of his life:
“You’re sulking like a unicorn in a whorehouse.”
Eunuch in a whorehouse, Dean had said and Sam had figured it out after replaying the sentence. Maybe it had been foreshadowing.
The line had been funny back then, funnier with Sam’s interpretation. It was still funny when connected with Castiel the “junkless sex-is-the-only-thing-I-fear” Angel of the Lord. But Amelia? Sam’s thought was she’s better than that but it didn’t quite resonate with the metaphor – something was disconnected – where was this thought going anyway, it was so random – because Dean and I, we’re, we’re, his mind started –
– and Crowley’s piss-timed entrance removed the last traces of it.
Maybe that stupid speech started it.
“So, what – you just up and decided it's gonna be you?”
“I'm a grunt, Sam. You're not. You've always been the brains of this operation."
“And you told me yourself that you see a way out. You see a light at the end of this ugly-ass tunnel. I don't. But I tell you what I do know – it's that I'm gonna die with a gun in my hand. 'Cause that's what I have waiting for me – that's all I have waiting for me. I want you to get out. I want you to have a life – become a man of Letters, whatever. You, with a wife and kids and – and – and grandkids, living till you're fat and bald and chugging Viagra – that is my perfect ending, and it's the only one that I'm gonna get. So I'm gonna do these trials. I'm gonna do them alone – end of story.”
Dean walked out and Sam didn’t rise to argue because it wasn’t what he did when Dean gave an order – but he knew, he knew already that it wouldn’t happen that way.
And it didn’t.
Besides, that was Dean’s idea of Sam’s happy ending.
Or just his projection of what he’d want for himself?
We’re – Sam’s mind attempted to complete that sentence countless times that night when he was piling up on the determination for it to be him to slash the hellhound.
Maybe the burger started it.
Confession: Sam didn’t really prefer salads for health reasons. He liked them because one look could confirm that they were fresh. A burger could have been made of chewed rat’s ass and the chef could have snorted into it, and it would probably have tasted the same.
Real, home-made food? One of Sam’s core symbols of what he had always craved and never got.
Real, home-made hamburgers? The very climax of the previous.
So there he was, sitting in their – house, sorts – and biting into the bestest interpretation of American food tradition he had ever experienced. But only a fraction of his brain was immersed in this pleasure, which was sad from one point of view – the rest was processing the words that had just dropped out of Dean’s mouth.
“I’m nesting. Eat.”
Right, Sam thought, nesting, and kept his cool in front of a face he had never seen on his brother. You like it, Sammy? This is what we are, in our home, I made you food, you like it? Do you like it? It’s good, huh?
He kept his cool. Of course, because it was their life, the very next thing was Kevin on red alert.
Sam finished his burger on the way and never finished the thought that had almost formed.
Maybe Men of Letters started it.
Sam wanted nothing like he wanted a normal life.
There was that “but” hiding in the larger topic of Sam’s desire for this, however non-existent that had been back in era of yellow eyes, Sam’s demonic shenanigans, nuclear Castiels and mothers of frigging everything. Or any era really, before the Men of Letters. Not the Men, as such, dead as they all were, but the place. Dean and Sam’s very own Batcave.
Dean constructed a bedroom representation of his personality. Effectively and illegally armed with a soundtrack of Led Zeppelin and, on solitary occasions, songs that sounded like they were out of Brokeback Mountain, the everpresent memory of mother’s love, piles and piles of information on how to kill monsters and a goddamned mattress that would remember how Dean’s body slept on it… Or whatever else he did in that bed.
Hmm, Sam thought when he saw it and popped a gum into his mouth to have something to do because his brain was suddenly somewhere far away and he was not sure where.
“Sorry,” Sam said when he dropped the gum wrapping on the floor – that was what they always did, with garbage, bottle caps, everything – looked at Dean’s disapproving face and thought again,
Sam had been excited about the amount of information on their fingertips, loads and loads of secrets nobody else in the world had access to.
Dean was excited about having his own room.
Sam thought of Dean living with Lisa and he thought of how Dean had said he hadn’t had a room of his own ever.
Maybe the dead guy robe started it.
Their first morning in the place: Sam had been obsessing over the books since the moment he woke up while Dean had gone and decided to take a shower. The part of Sam’s brain that had not been immersed in the heaven of uncovered secrets, had been annoyed. The essence of the Men of Letters was the information they possessed but Dean’s interest seemed only extend to poking objects with a finger.
Yes. It had irritated Sam at the time.
It had irritated Sam right until he had glanced up to see Dean emerging from the shower wearing a grey robe and slippers, like your average next door husband, looking happier than Sam had seen him for a long time plus Hell equaling to Alistair multiplied by Purgatory minus Benny.
By the time Dean reached his table, Sam’s gaze was back on the books and he was not about to glance up. I’m still irritated. Who cares about how great the water pressure is in the shower.
At the back of his mind, he was only dimly aware of something lingering that made him not want to look at Dean’s robe (but when Dean turned to put back the sword he had been screwing around with, he did it anyway).
Things were almost like they always were.
They were almost like – what?
Something about that almost made Sam suggest they’d stay in the place for longer. Have a little break.
For research, naturally. Dean really should appreciate what they’d found. Somehow what Dean was wearing highlighted his lack of interest so Sam said:
“You gonna take off the dead guy robe?”
Without waiting for an answer, he turned back to his books and although he didn’t think in words, his mind stilled for a moment. Conjured up the image of Dean’s shower-wet hair, happy grin, wide stance and
– what was it with that robe?
Maybe the picture is brand new.
Sam had chosen the same record he had found from the shelf and put in the first morning in their lair.
“Get thee behind me, Satan… I want to resist. But the Moon is low and I can't say, 'No', get thee behind me…”
Dean stood up, probably by instinct rather than brain activity, and stared at Sam’s hand. Sam concentrated furiously on not looking insane, possessed, soulless, deadly ill (even though he potentially was), stupid or otherwise something that would set Dean off the wrong way.
Keep cool. Just keep cool. Normalcy. Domestic.
“That’s what I said.”
Sam had thought he knew Dean better than he knew himself. Most of the time he did. Importantly, he had always known that Sam’s forever lingering wish to get out of hunting was something Dean felt as a personal insult towards him and their life. Worse, Sam thought, was that Dean’s need for Sam to fulfill this wish surpassed his hurt and Dean’s little outburst before Sam bathed in hellhound’s blood proved Dean genuinely wanted to give that to Sam and thought it possible.
The problem was that while Dean thought it was what Sam wanted and Sam had thought it was what he wanted, it wasn’t that. Not anymore – not exactly.
“Get thee behind me, Satan – I mustn't be kissed… But the Moon is low and I may let go… Get thee behind me…”
“Nobody dances to this kind of music, Sammy.”
“Humor me.” Dean was still staring at Sam’s hand like it was a corrosive tentacle so he took Dean’s instead and placed it on his hip. “I’ll even let you lead.”
Confessing Amelia to Meg had reminded Sam of the speech Dean had given him about having a normal life. That speech had reminded him of the fleeting moment of perfect home, provided by the first bite of Dean’s nesting burger and the happy, expectant look in his eyes. That had reminded Sam of the care Dean had put in decorating his bedroom. That had reminded Sam of the way he had looked at his brother – the same person who had spent decades in hell and gone through eternities of shit no human mind could ever process – when he had appeared fresh from shower, wearing a dusty, inherited robe like he was having the time of his life.
The same one he was wearing again.
“I can’t dance.” Dean’s brain was probably dehydrated from trying to figure out what was up with Sam and how to dance to this sort of music. “I’m more of a rock’n’roll type of guy, in case you haven’t noticed.”
“I don’t care how we do it.” Sam took his other hand, lifted up and made Dean support his, hoping he didn’t look too sick that night. “Let’s just do it.”
The previous night, Castiel had been a single strike away from killing Dean who was so saturated in betrayal that he did not even have a crisis any longer. It seemed he had stopped looking further than a day ahead a very long time ago.
So: Sam had thought he knew Dean better than he knew himself. Most of the time he did.
Just that he had never understood Dean wanted the same thing as he did, just in a different wrapping.
That was the puzzle piece number one, pushing others aside and causing a fundamental mess in Sam’s head.
The other one had been carefully hidden away before – now back in the open: Amelia had proved it so glaringly, Sam had suppressed as far down as it could go – still: give Sam his apple pie life and something would always be missing. Dean. Because Dean never fit into that life, and vice versa.
Either there was a life with nothing he really wanted except for Dean or a life with everything he wanted except for Dean.
“Someone I'm mad about is waiting in the night for me… Someone that I mustn't see… Satan, get thee behind me…”
That was how Sam’s old puzzlework of a life (it was more like two incompatible images, really) was swept away and a new picture was born – on the wooden floor of the Men of Letters, at the very moment when Dean muttered something about Samantha and started to lead.
His thumb moved against the side of Sam’s stomach ever so slightly, and Sam had to fight to keep his breathing even.
Dean’s idea of home had been to run all over the world with salt and shotguns, the comradeship, loyalties and his eternal paranoia and anger for betrayal, fixing it and mending things, re-establishing the connection. Trust. Love that was never spoken of but had conquered the very death more than once, dominated forces of Heaven and Hell equally.
To Dean, home was about having someone to rely on when shit came down, in this hopeless world where shit came down more often than rain and often in the form of Judaeo-Christian apocalypses, archangels with personality disorders, Scottish kings of Hell and all sorts of monsters too many in number to even start to list.
But give him a cave to hole up in and, apparently, the description was not so far off from Sam’s apple pie.
The inevitable conclusion was more than a little frightening.
More so upon noticing that Dean could dance to anything if he wanted.
But what’s portrayed in the picture is ancient.
They fell into rhythm, because it was what they always did. Whether it was something as simple as walking, something as fast as killing a nest of vamps, something as awkward as interviewing a hyperventilating witness or something as otherworldly as putting Satan back into his cage.
Where Dean led, Sam followed, not a blink missed.
Around them, their little world, their home – their heritage, their past and their future.
Dean kept it slow and simple, his cheek near enough for Sam to feel its warmth, his eyes too close for Sam to meet his gaze. Sam let his palm widen around Dean’s shoulder, over the rough fabric of the grey robe, hyper-aware of the size of his hand and how un-Samantha it must have felt to Dean – and how Dean was still going along.
When Sam almost swayed on his feet, having suddenly gone dizzy because of whatever the trials were sucking from his insides, Dean kept him still by the waist and didn’t say anything.
“He promised to wait… But I won't appear. And he may come here… Satan, he's at my gate…”
“You know, Dean – when you said all those things about you wanting me to have a normal life, and you doing the trials –“
“Well as it happened, Sam, you’re doing them now—“
“Don’t start. I just wanted to say I don’t want it.”
“That life. That life you think I want.”
Sam could hear the internal we’ve been through this, don’t lie to me Sam but apparently the little detail they were slow dancing kept Dean too preoccupied to say it.
“I know you think I do,” Sam continued, “and don’t think I don’t appreciate that you’d give it to me because I do. I really do appreciate it. But it’s not what I want. I thought it was, but it’s not.”
Dean’s thumb moved again, jerkily this time, involuntarily.
“What are you trying to say?” he asked after a long pause, voice almost gone.
“Something that would probably condemn me straight to Hell if I didn’t already have a business class ticked booked with frequent flyer points.” Sam breathed out, dared to lean his head just a bit closer to Dean’s cheek. “That’s where we’ll end up no matter what we do here, right?”
“Get thee behind me… Stay where you are… It's too late…”
“So what is it that you want then?”
That time, Sam really pressed his cheek against Dean’s, skin to skin. Closed his eyes, waited. This was the moment, one way or another. Dean didn’t communicate well with words anyway.
And Dean didn’t pull his head back.
He didn’t pull back.
They kept right on dancing.
“Satan, get thee behind me… He promised to wait… But I won't appear and he may come here… Satan, he's at my gate…”
“The trials might kill me,” Sam said just before the song ended. “Maybe they won't.”
Dean tensed and Sam, waiting for it, slid his hand from Dean’s shoulder to his neck.
“We have tonight. We have the now. We have everything I have ever wanted. We have everything you have ever wanted. Right here.”
He didn’t plan on it at all, but the next thing that happened was that he broke into a fit of coughs, barely managed to get his palm under his chin before a mouthful of blood spilled out.
Silence descended. Sam stopped coughing. Dean – Sam couldn’t bear to look up.
And Dean’s resolve broke.
It always ends here. No matter what you choose, it always ends here.
Dean pushed Sam against one of the tables and grabbed his shirt with both hands. His manners were familiar from any time in the past when he was about to punch Sam in the face – yet the look in his eyes was familiar from any time in the past when he was about to tear up.
“Fuck you, Sam. Don’t play games with me. I told you, I can’t take any more lies—“
“It isn’t a lie.”
“I don’t know what you’re even talking about. Hell, you don’t know what you are talking about. How could you possibly know—“
“I know.” Quick as lightning, Sam slipped both of his hands under Dean’s robe, right on top of his collarbones, and leaned in before Dean could draw in breath.
The first kiss was an angry press of mouths: you’ve denied me this all my life. Sam didn’t know who was accusing who.
The second, open mouthed with a mutual, shaky exhale: don’t you dare back up now, you chickenshit.
Third – Dean melted under him, his grip gone and knees buckling. Sam moved one hand, still under the robe, to support Dean by the waist: is this real?
Yes. It was.
“Blood,” Dean reported unnecessarily.
“Sorry.” Sam had tried to swallow most of it but the taste still lingered.
“Don’t you dare.”
Don’t you dare die on me.
They kissed for decades’ worth of unchanged hugs and unspoken words, fury, grief, fear and loss. Sam wrote his apologies with demanding fingertips over the heating skin under Dean’s robe, Dean’s stroked and tugged Sam’s hair for every disappointment, every time Sam had turned his back on him.
Over and over again.
“We’re—“ Dean whispered against Sam’s lips when they parted for breath and last threads of sanity. Sam could feel how he was trying to hide a tremble and pulled them closer together.
“Yes,” Sam replied, Dean’s lower lip between his teeth. “We are.”
Brothers. Doomed. Beyond saving. Endlessly plunging into darkness.
“We’re,” Dean attempted again, shaky hands running down Sam’s chest.
And Sam leaned back, locked eyes and said it:
The electricity roaring around them, passing from gaze to gaze – it was nothing new, it was the same, it had always been the same, countless times when they had been having some stupid fight over who dies over who and who’s betrayed who and who’s being a complete moron – but with the two simple words the real truth was out there, unbearable, and Sam’s body was burning with need. Nearly choking on his efforts to stay in control, he pressed his thumb against the side of Dean’s naked stomach much in the same manner Dean had done to him earlier.
“In love,” Dean repeated, and because it was true, Sam didn’t care whether Dean’s words were a question, a confirmation or an incredulous expression of disbelief. Dean’s skin was under his hands and his world was whole, and so was Dean’s, and that was it.
“So are you just going to mull over it," Sam asked, "or are we actually going to fuck now?”
Dean inhaled like he was going to reply something or perhaps choke on his tongue, and then things started happening fast. He tore Sam’s shirt away carelessly, only pausing to palm over his tattoo for the briefest of moments, chucked himself of his stupid robe and of course he was naked underneath, and before Sam could even lean in to help, Dean was already working to open Sam’s zipper, panting against Sam’s neck.
“In love,” Sam repeated because it turned him on like nothing ever had. Dean too, apparently, if the fury of his bite just below Sam's jaw was anything to go by. He unbuttoned Sam’s jeans and pushed them and his boxers down, leaving it for Sam to kick himself completely free.
Dean was on his knees before Sam could even think of the next move, brushing his lips over Sam’s cock.
“How?” he whispered against it. “How, Sam?”
It wasn’t a how do I do this, Sam knew. It wasn’t even a how did we end up here. It was a how didn’t we know this was where it would always end.
“I didn’t know what you wanted before we found this place,” Sam said simply. “I didn’t know I didn’t want a home without you.” Dean licked his whole length, and Sam drew blood from his cheek to stay still. “D—Do the math.”
The darkest part of Sam’s mind was pushing him at the brink of an orgasm at the sight of his big brother’s lips around his cock. The least sinful part of Sam’s mind was bathing in love beyond his dreams. The combination was explosive. Sam pressed his fingers on Dean’s scalp and ran a thumb across his brother’s face, rubbing the stubble, brushing over the side of his mouth and not giving a shit of all the millions of implications the normality front of the world would provide at the sight because this was it. What he had been looking for all his life.
The corners of Dean's eyes were getting wet, ever so slightly. Sam didn’t know whether it was from sucking him so deep - and god that was too beautiful to watch - or something else.
“I want you to fuck me,” he choked out moments before he knew he would spill, and pushed Dean’s head away. “Now.”
He had seen countless of expressions on his brother but never the one passing through his face before he got up and smashed Sam against the table again, even harder. His kiss tasted different now, saltier, and when he pressed his body against Sam's and trembled, Sam was right there with him.
Sam widened his stance and Dean followed the cue, sucked in his fingers and slipped them between Sam’s legs and further. Sam grabbed Dean by the back of his neck and felt a sudden flash of possessiveness completely unforeseen. He thumbed the head of Dean’s cock while Dean’s fingers prodded in, and it was just like a hunt. Perfectly coordinated, roles perfectly divided. Both knew what the other was doing, both knew what the other needed them doing.
“Ready,” Sam choked out when Dean slipped in a third. Dean pushed the chairs out of the way gracelessly, and Sam only had to lean back and he was lying on the table, up on his elbows. Just to see Dean’s reaction, he bent his knees, rest his heels on the edge of the table, giving the full view –
and a reaction he did get.
“Sammy, I swear to you – I’ll kill you myself—“ Dean stepped in, paused, dim-witted – “condom?”
“Apocalypse. Hell. Trials. Brothers. No condom,” Sam managed to reason, and even that litany of quasi-psychotic nonsense seemed to turn Dean on. Even more than him. Dean positioned himself and, with a breath that lasted more than twenty seconds, pushed in. Their groans mingled together, vibrating on the same frequencies, mouth to mouth.
It hurt like death and torture and Sam would know, and that was exactly how it was perfect. It was familiar in every single way Sam knew.
He drew blood from what little non-bitten skin he still had left in the inside of his mouth, focusing on staying on his elbows because he wanted to see. His cock was hard and wet against his stomach and Dean was staring at him straight in the eyes.
“Besides I want to feel your come in me,” Sam added, “leaking down my thighs,” distantly wondering if he was somehow channeling Lucifer, and Dean lost it.
Without an inch of brotherly worry, he started pounding into Sam with accelerating speed, eyes blazing right in front of Sam's face. Sam had seen Dean murdering monsters, quasi-humans, even sort of nasty humans with less fire in his eyes. For once, the dead-from-the-inside Dean was nowhere to be seen. The pain and the pleasure entwined just like hunting and home, Sam’s elbows gave in and he hit his head hard on the table but barely even felt it. Dean was gripping his thighs that had somehow ended up on Dean’s shoulders and repeating his name with every breath. Faster, harder, and Sam felt like he was bleeding everywhere and he fucking wanted it.
Dean grabbed Sam’s cock and a desperate whine escaping out of Sam’s mouth echoed from the walls. Unbelievably they were still in sync. How could it be possible, it could not, but somehow Sam knew Dean was so very close to coming and Dean knew how to bring Sam off – he sped up, tender and slick, and the circle was complete. Sam gasped from the pain, whimpered from the indescribable pleasure and his breath stopped when he felt Dean losing his rhythm and pushing in for the final time. Three strokes later Sam followed, and by then Dean had bent over to smear both of his hands in Sam’s come like he wanted to rub it all over their bodies, his sex-drunk lips tracing the edge of Sam’s ribcage.
Men of Letters probably rolled in their graves.
And they breathed.
Sam thought of Lucifer and Detroit, and how petite the biggest known end-of-the-world scheme felt when seated next to the knowledge of simple, irresistible poison called love. None of them mooks even knows what it means.
Finally, because it was still home and they were still alone, the Moon was up and nothing was coming down that night, Dean said:
“I’d carry you to bed, Samantha, but you’re a heavy son of a bitch.”
That startled a laugh out of Sam and Dean pulled out with a half-hearted wince.
Sam managed to push himself back up on his elbows, tried and failed to hide a cough. Dean wiped the blood off the corner of Sam’s mouth as they locked eyes for one last time for the evening.
“Shower?” Sam asked.
“Nah. Bed.” Dean’s lips were smiling, his eyes glassy with emotion. Sam couldn’t bear to look at it because now he knew: Dean’s own personal Highway to Hell, that fantasy about dying with a gun in his hand and probably a frigging grin plastered on his face – it had never been real. Dean had just thought he neither deserved nor could ever have what he really, really wanted.
Sam wanted to lock that thought in a fucking Devil's trap. He’d never let Dean look at it again.
“Your memory foam bed?”
“Reading my mind, Sammy.”
So they were nesting.
Because that’s how it was always going to end.
To have a home for a very short time before a no doubt brutal death and an eternity in Hell, Sam thought when pressed his face against Dean’s sweaty neck and closed his eyes, was better than to never have a home at all.
“We’re,” he whispered, and Dean shivered at the breath on his skin.
“Yes, yes. All that and shitloads more. Sleep now or I’ll knock you out myself.”
And that. That was what they were.
“Get thee behind me… Stay where you are… It's too late, it's too late…"
"It's too late.”