Dean feels it when Sam notices, it’s a weight added to his brother’s gaze, an assessing, soul-piercing thing that makes him feel itchy from the inside-out. It’s mostly a good kind of itchy. He should be used to it by now, after a lifetime of those beautiful, multi-color eyes taking in everything Dean ever does, sorting it out, making sure it fits and commenting if there’s something that sticks out.
Sam doesn’t comment this time, at least not yet. But Dean sees his brother’s mouth begin to move. His pink lips thin almost going white along their graceful edges, and he braces himself for a question. Then Sam’s shoulders move up and down when he silently huffs. So he’ll be asking sometime later, great. (not great) At least it gives him time to guess what Sam will be asking. It’ll be about the candle-lighting thing, the mother and son, in the church just now. It’ll be some combination of those items, none of which add up to anything Dean feels like talking about, not now, not ever, especially not now with their mother abandoning them.
Why yes, Sam, I’m sad that mom isn’t here for us to light a candle with.
Why yes, Sam I remember doing that with mom, only one time, it was in memory of her parents. Probably on the anniversary of the day they were killed by yellow-eyes.
Why yes, Sam, I never liked church because of how they treated her when Dad didn’t come to services with us. Or maybe because I couldn’t sit still long enough when I was little. Or how they’d frown when you’d cry during services. So we stopped going. No more lighting candles, no more smelling incense, standing and kneeling, enjoying mom’s singing or hearing shhhh from the neighbors in the pews.
“You okay?” Sam asks when they’re both back in the car. He’s in the process of unbuttoning the tight priest collar and damn does his brother ever look beautiful with his hair flowing in the afternoon sun.
Dean doesn’t answer, just fiddles with his own collar and gives up getting the thing undone.
Sam leans over into his space and dances his fingers around Dean’s neck. “You look good in this get-up.”
“You too,” Dean says around a nervous swallow. He’s surprised at his own nervousness just because of the questions Sam might ask. “Remember when we…” Dean says, ready to cover with the story of what happened after the first time they’d dressed up as priests when that case was over. How Dean had made Sam forget his psychic-wonder problems for hours and hours.
“Uh huh,” Sam says with a blush, one of those instant hot flushes that make Dean’s belly swoop with this feeling of power. Affecting someone like Sam so quickly is still a huge turn-on.
“When this case is over, we can do that again if you’d like,” Dean offers, voice teasing just to see if Sam’s blush will go to the bare triangle of skin at the base of his throat. When it does go pink he can’t help but smile, he knows it’ll just make Sam mad, but it’s worth it.
“Cut it out, we need to focus on the case,” Sam chides, but tugs at his unbuttoned priest collar. “But first, I want to know why you were staring at the kid lighting a candle in there.”
It’s Dean’s turn to blush now, and he grimaces, looking away from Sam back towards the church. “Just reminded me of her, that’s all.”
“You mean, Mom?”
Dean nods, but doesn’t say anything, it’s not that he doesn’t want to, but he’s not sure what Sam really wants to know.
“She took you to light candles in a church?” Sam asks in a tight voice.
“Just the once, it was…uh, the anniversary of her folks, you know dying and everything. And the deal with yellow-eyes that brought Dad back,” Dean says.
Sam studiously ignores the bit about yellow-eyes which is fine, because even Dean knows what’s important to this discussion right now. “What did she say, back then, do you remember?”
“I just remember she was upset, really upset, and you were inside her, kicking her really hard because of it. She held my hand over her belly and whispered to me about how you were going to be a handful. And she told me her parents would have loved having a grandson like me.”
Sam looks over with eyes gone liquid soft. “I bet they would have, uh…I’m sorry for asking.”
“I probably should have told you before,” Dean says, hands twisting together in his lap like he needs to hold the rest of it inside before it gets out and hurts them both.
“It’s okay,” Sam says, his hand heavy on Dean’s shoulder with the weight of acceptance and pity, neither of which Dean is looking for.
Dean shrugs Sam’s hand off his shoulder, just so he can focus on that slight irritation to keep his deeper emotions in check. “No, it really wasn’t, she’s your mom too.”
Sam grabs one of Dean’s hands, twining their fingers together in an unbreakable knot that Dean doesn’t ever want to untie. “Not like that though. I don’t have those kind of memories with her. And you didn’t have to share them with me, you especially didn’t need to back then. I don’t blame you or anything, Dean. As a kid when I pestered you about it, I wouldn’t have really understood if you’d told me.”
“Yeah you would’ve, you were always a deep little shit,” Dean says, grinning at Sam wide and open with the memory of his little brother, solving the mysteries of the universe at age eight, heart-broken when he’d figured out that not all dogs got to have owners who loved them.
Sam smiles back, a little tentative, probably wondering why Dean’s grinning like a crazy person. “Maybe, but you needed to hold onto something of her that no one else had, and I get that. Okay?”
Dean notices that Sam’s still holding his hand, it’s warm from being wrapped up in both of Sam’s now. God he loves that, how Sam just engulfs him with his size now. It’s proof, living proof literally in the palm of his hand that he succeeded at something in this crazy life. He kept Sam alive, and as happy as he could manage, at least he did that. “Thanks, Sammy. You know, you could totally get a gig as a priest-counselor or whatever.”
Sam squeezes his hand and pulls him in close, kisses his lips so soft and perfect. Dean feels himself filling with lightness just from this one kiss. There’s always been something about Sam’s kisses, all that intention, or maybe it’s attention. Dean always knows that he’s the center of everything for Sam because of how Sam kisses him. Thorough, deep, implacable, those lips he can count on. Dean tries to match the intensity, the meaning of it all, to get it across with the language he speaks best. He can feel Sam melt into him further, so he knows he’s gotten it across, Dean needs him to know, to feel it deep down, just like he does, that Sam is the center of everything for him. Always.
“Always,” Sam whispers between their lips like he’s answering a question Dean had asked.
Dean’s brain is consumed with the emotions and cascades of pleasure so that he doesn’t notice Sam has repeated the word he was just saying to himself. In his brain, without speaking. But then, he’s always wished Sam could read his mind about this kind of stuff. How much easier that would be is a favorite topic his brain whirrs around on as he’s driving back and forth across the country.
“Always what, Sammy?” Dean finally asks, when they’ve parted to take in some new oxygen.
Sam’s eyes are half-lidded with pleasure, lips gone a lovely dark pink, kiss-swollen and perfect. “I’m not repeating what you just said, Dean.” He leans in to kiss Dean again, but Dean stops him with a hand to his chest.
“C’mon, Sammy,” Dean says, not wanting to beg to hear the words, forgetting that he hadn’t actually said them out loud.
Sam sits back a bit from Dean so he can focus on his face, he fumbles between them until he’s got Dean’s hand wound back up with his own and pulls them against his chest, right over his heart. “You’re always at the center of everything for me, Dean. Always.”
Dean smiles when he hears the words, they sound so much different when they come from Sam’s lips, from his heart, and oh god his eyes, Dean could drown in them, so deep and liquid, all those colors. He feels himself falling into Sam, not caring that they’re in Baby, parked on the street right in front of the church, their priest collars still on. The case, shit, the case. He squeezes Sam’s hands and unwinds them, gives a fake little cough and turns back to the steering wheel.
“Where to first?”