Actions

Work Header

Safe with Me

Work Text:

 

(✿◠‿◠)(▰˘◡˘▰)(✿◠‿◠)(▰˘◡˘▰)(✿◠‿◠)(▰˘◡˘▰)

 

Sam awoke and immediately had to restrain a groan. He’d felt it coming for weeks, but he’d been so sure that ignoring it would make it go away, that chugging some extra orange juice each day would help his pesky immune system sharpen up.

 

He was sick. His eyes were all crusted over, his favorite nostril was completely gooped up, and his mouth tasted like butt. He was feeling distinctly like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz--his joints were full of rust, unable to move without a screech and a jerk.

 

He sighed, rolling out of Dean’s warm arms and onto his back. The faintest inkling of a headache started to tick right behind his eyes. He stared up at the ceiling, still soft blue in the early morning light. The room was dim and quiet, the soft, white curtains letting in a small amount of diffuse light. If he could, he’d stay here forever, bury his nose in Dean’s neck, and let the world spin away outside their home.

 

But, as it was, said nose was runny, his stomach was starting to rumble, and he knew he would have to get out of bed sometime and take care of himself. Vitamins, fruits, blah blah blah… he was fairly certain he could hide his illness from Dean, and it would be over soon enough.

 

It wasn’t like he was purposefully lying to Dean or anything like that, lord no. It was just that Dean finally had a job that he loved, with coworkers he went out for drinks with. They no longer had to worry if the next pay check would be enough, or worse, if it would be the last.

 

And Sam actually liked the school he was going to this time. He’d been on T for over a year now, and while he liked being small and feminine, he was also pretty relieved that he was starting to pass with most people now. At past schools, he’d either stayed closeted and hurting when people used the wrong pronouns, or had been out and bullied. It had seemed like there was never anything better, and he’d sometimes come home in tears, running straight to Dean’s arms and letting Dean care for him and call him “little boy,” “sweetheart,” and “baby brother.”

 

This place was different. Dean had held his hand when they went to a meeting with the principal to make sure his records indicated the proper gender. They’d even gotten copies of the legal name change notice. The staff took pains to be respectful, and multiple teachers had taken Sam aside to promise he’d be safe in their classrooms. He’d even made a few friends, other soft-hearted people who understood him almost as well as Dean did.

 

But no one would ever come close to Dean. Throughout Sam’s life, throughout him realizing all the confusing and crucial bits of his identity, no one was always there like Dean, always supportive, always asking questions and learning, willing to be there twenty-four seven.

 

Dean was his life saver, plain and simple.

 

Dean had been the one who had alleviated all his jarring anxiety with a simple kiss when he’d come out to Dean and told him he was a boy. Dean had told him part of him had always known he’d had a little brother, and that Sam’s words clicked together the missing pieces of the colorful puzzle of Sam. It had been a little rocky at first, sure, but Dean never meant any harm, was always patient, and absorbed every new piece of information about transgender folks with that wide, green-eyed, earnest stare of his.

 

Dean took care of him like a parent. He’d always been the one to make sure Sam got to school okay, and had been the one to give him the silly “talk” about girls and boys and all that stuff. When it became just the two of them against the world, he took on the rest of the role with a steady confidence. Sam was his boy. It had always been like that, somewhere deep, and they both knew it.

 

So when Sam had told him that sometimes he felt like a kid- like more than a kid, like a toddler, someone simple and loving- Dean took it pretty well. He had questions, but Sam couldn’t have asked for more.

 

The next confession came from Dean, a couple months after their first kiss. He confessed feeling relief when Sam first told him about age regression, and that he often felt a complementary feeling--of paternal protection, of being a caregiver, which was exactly what he was. Sam was more than happy to let Dean be his Daddy.

 

It was just who they were, sometimes, a purer, less complicated love and relationship that gave both of them peace and a break from Dean’s crazy world of jobs and taxes and Sam’s equally-crazy world of exams, tests, and college applications.

 

That’s where they were now--cozied up in bed together, brothers and boyfriends and littles and caregivers. It didn’t matter to them what anyone else thought. They’d always lived in a separate universe from everyone else, their own tiny little galaxy, orbiting resolutely around each other.

 

Sam loved it all. He loved being himself, going to school and learning from passionate teachers, he loved the dates he went on with Dean, and he loved when Dean took care of him.

 

Except he did not like getting sick. Especially not at this time of year. It was Fall semester, near midterms, which meant a lot of focus on studying and researching schools. He was always careful to wash his hands, to not catch spreading flus from other kids. He hated missing even a single day, as it meant catching up and working extra hard to learn what he’d missed.

 

Stretching his toes out, his mouth split open in a wide yawn. He didn’t need to be psychic to sense that his headache would only grow from there, and that his throat would grow more clogged.

 

He rolled back into Dean’s arms and felt Dean stir against him, nose brushing against the crown of his head.

 

“Hey,” Dean murmured, voice sleep-slurred, rubbing a calloused hand up and down Sam’s back. “Watcha doin;?”

 

“Five more minutes,” Sam grumbled. “Then we get up.”

 

He didn’t listen to what Dean said next, instead curling ever closer to Dean’s body heat and comforting smell. The outside world could wait just a little bit longer.

 

***

 

Dean watched Sam’s eyes flutter closed. His lashes were dark against his rosy pink cheeks--too pink, in fact. When he was sure Sam was asleep again, he laid the back of his hand against Sam’s face as gently as possible. What he felt was a heat too strong to mean anything good.

 

Sam had been showing the signs of sickness for a few days now, and the little dork probably thought he was doing a good job of hiding it. Yeah, well, not from Dean. Dean always knew if Sammy’s feeling alright. He’d been eating less, sleeping more, wiping his nose on his sleeve just about every thirty seconds… the whole nine yards.

 

And Sam never asked for five more minutes on a school day.

 

Dean slipped out of bed and padded on bare feet out into the hall, snagging his phone from the bedside table as he passed it. He quickly dialed work and called in sick, thanking his boss for the well-wishes. Next, he found a scrap piece of paper in the kitchen drawer of random crap and wrote up a quick sick note for Sam to bring into school for when he felt well enough to go. He was Sam’s guardian, after all, and it was his job to make sure Sam’s absence was permitted. If the sickness got bad enough, turned out to be some particularly obnoxious strain of the flu, Dean would call the school and make sure Sam was able to make up the work. He’d take care of him.

 

Dean got eggs cooking on the stove and started a pot of coffee, just for him. He set the plates out at the table, humming to himself.

 

He was lost in his head while he got breakfast ready. When it was all done, he set it out on the table and snagged a worn, baby purple blanket from the couch in the living room. He draped it over Sam’s chair, so the kid would be warm when he finally crawled out of bed.

 

Speaking of. Dean had better go check on his boy.

 

Dean carefully pushed open the door to their bedroom. The comforter was a mess. There was a little more light leeching into the room, just enough to cast Sam’s features in a soft, beautiful light. Dean’s breath caught in his throat. Sam had always been a looker, but here, in this room, right now, he was so innocent and small and lovely that Dean wants to hold him close and never let him escape the protective tangle of his arms.

 

Sam was awake, too, looking up at Dean from his fortress of blankets. He was pouting, looking up at Dean with wide, baleful eyes, his fingernails pressed to his lip. His mouth moved fractionally as he bit at his hands.

 

Dean knew that look. Sam was not an angsty teenager anymore, he was a little boy. He was now one hundred-percent Sammy baby.

 

“Hey, kiddo,” Dean cooed, sitting on the edge of the bed. “You feeling okay?”

 

“No,” Sam grumbled. “M’head hurts.”

 

“I’ll getcha somethin’,” Dean murmured, and even though Sam was sick, he felt a warm rush of comfort. Nothing made him feel more secure in his identity as Dean and as Sammy’s daddy than taking care of Sam like this.

 

The bathroom was close by, and it took him no time at all to grab the kid’s liquid tylenol, a spoon, a mouth thermometer, and a glass of water.

 

Sam held his arms out as Dean approached, and Dean placed his stuff on the nightstand. He reached forward, grunting as he got his arms under Sam’s armpits and hauled the kid upright, fluffing the pillows behind him. “Here,” he said, and poured a small dose of the liquid into the spoon, holding it before Sam’s mouth. “Think you can handle that?”

 

Sam’s bottom lip wobbled, but he nodded bravely, opening up his mouth. Dean hummed to himself as he slipped the spoon past Sam’s lips and watched him swallow it down. Dean held the glass of water to Sam’s mouth and helped him drink a couple sips of it. It all went by without a hitch, and Sam looked a little more alive afterward, though his eyes were still glassy and didn’t track as quickly as they would if he weren’t sick.

 

Sam was too tired to protest to Dean tucking the thermometer under his tongue. They counted together until the thermometer chirped happily and Dean removed it from Sam’s mouth. He tilted the little LCD screen toward the window to read the numbers in the weak sunlight: 100.4. Yep. No one was going to school today, not like this.

 

“Looks like we’re staying in today,” Dean said, beaming at Sammy. “I’ve got breakfast ready, let’s go and eat, huh?”

 

Sam’s gaze wavered. Dean could easily read the indecision on his face. “Hmmm,” Sam said. “I wanna, but I don’t wanna move.”

 

“Well, that’s easy,” Dean responded kindly, and scooped his gangly baby into his arms. He was a little heavy, but it was nothing Dean couldn’t take. He shifted Sammy in his arms and Sam giggled, wrapping his arms around Dean’s neck.

 

Dean got them to the kitchen in one piece and plopped Sam into his chair, comfy pillow under his bottom and all. Dean wrapped the blanket around Sam’s thin shoulders.

 

Dean pushed his plate over next to Sam’s. “Hold on a second, buddy,” he murmured, standing up and rifling through the cabinets until he found one of Sam’s sippy cups.

 

The most worn one, Sam’s favorite, was just a simple soft blue with yellow stripes. The nub was scratched and chewed. He watched Sam swinging his legs back and forth in his periphery as he poured orange juice into the cup. If Sam was gonna get better, he was gonna need to keep drinking things chock-full of vitamins.

 

Sam was already reaching for it and whining before Dean had got the carton back in the fridge. “Alright, alright,” Dean said, handing the bottle off to Sam. “You sure you’ve got it?”

 

Sam was already gulping it down, and he nodded vigorously to Dean as he drank, a droplet falling down his chin. Dean watched with approval. Sometimes when Sam got sick, he would get testy, and wouldn’t touch his food. Small things could be enough to set him off, and it would be a hard day of work for daddy Dean. Today didn’t seem to be like that, though, and while Sam was tired and lethargic, he seemed to be getting on okay.

 

Dean ate beside Sam, occasionally pausing in his own meal to grab a napkin and dab at Sam’s mouth. Sam was not a fan of bibs, so they’d ditched those.

 

When Sam decided he was finished, he pushed the plate toward the middle of the table. Dean swallowed his last bite of bacon and looked over at Sam’s plate. There was just a little bit of eggs left, and of course the crust of the toast, so he didn’t make Sam sit idly by any longer.

 

“Alright, just let me clean this up, and we can head to the playroom,” Dean said, trying and failing to restrain a smile at how brightly Sam perked up upon hearing the p-word.

 

Sam sat by Dean’s legs and sniffled away as Dean rinsed the dishes off in the sink. One of Sam’s arms was linked around Dean’s leg, and baby Sammy was singing to himself, an off-tune ditty that could’ve possibly been “Wheels on the Bus” or something like that. It was adorable--while Sam was big, he loathed singing, and flushed a bright red if Dean ever egged him on and made him squawk along with the song on the radio. While he was little, he was no better at it, sure, but if there was one thing he wasn’t lacking for, it was zeal.

 

In this particular situation, Dean was getting a bit concerned. Sam was singing quietly- he wasn’t yelling or raising his voice at all- but his voice still cracked across every other syllable and he had to pause every couple of seconds to cough wetly. Dean hated the noise. It tugged on his heart strings.

 

“Hey, kiddo, I’m all done up here,” he said. “It’s a good song, but maybe you should give it a rest, buddy. You’re gonna hurt your throat.”

 

Sam’s lips turned down in an almost comical way, but he quieted. It was only when Dean was holding onto Sammy’s fingertips and they were walking down the hall to the playroom that he finally heard Sam whisper-singing, trying to stay below Dean’s radar. Dean smiled, shaking his head. He let Sam sing.

 

Dean pushed the door open and Sam was off like a rocket, tumbling into the room and down onto the soft foam-board flooring. It was in the shape of giant, colorful puzzle pieces, each with a different letter of the alphabet on them. This room had used to serve as a guest room, but the wide windows and calm, bright lighting made it perfect to turn it into Sam’s special room when he was feeling especially youthful.

 

Sam made a beeline for the toy box but Dean had to call him back. Sam looked back at him in annoyance, cheeks turned an even brighter fever-pink by the energy he’d expended in all his excitement.

 

“Hey, gotta get you changed before you play, you know the rules,” Dean said, using his sternest daddy voice. “C’mere.”

 

Sam stayed by the chest. He couldn’t open it by himself, and he knew Dean had the upper hand, but he sat stubbornly in place, waiting to play.

 

“Sammy,” Dean chided. “If you sit there, you won’t get to play. If you come here and get dressed, you’ll be playing right after, I promise. S’not so bad.”

 

It took a few more minutes of progressively sterner cajoling before Sam finally tottered over, and he wasn’t happy. While Dean was getting him into a diaper and a sky-blue onesie with smiling clouds all over the fabric, he stealthily palmed Sam’s forehead to feel his temperature. He thought it might be a bit warmer than before, but he couldn’t tell. He hoped not.

 

His worry propelled him to get out a couple of stuffed animals for Sammy before sprinting to the kitchen and re-filling the sippy cup full of orange juice as fast as humanly possible. He hated to leave Sammy like this, but he knew making Sam walk all over the house wasn’t the best thing to do when the poor kid was sick and stuffy-nosed.

 

It didn’t take him long to return to the playroom, and nothing catastrophic and/or apocalyptic had happened in his absence. Sam was in the corner at the play-kitchen and wee-sized table, arranging a stuffed kitten, fox, and puppy in blue chairs at the table.

 

Dean approached and gave Sam the sippy cup. Sam took it without comment. It was then that Dean noticed Sam was wavering back and forth, chewing at his fingers again, agitating the nail beds. He didn’t want Sammy to bleed.

 

“Hey,” Dean said. “Hey,” he repeated, putting a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “You okay?”

 

Sam shrugged, still wiggling, rubbing the cat’s velvety ear anxiously between his fingers. Whatever it is, Sam wouldn’t say.

 

Dean stood up, nodding to himself. He would figure it out. He knew Sam better than words could express. They didn’t have to talk to each other to have a conversation. Sam played with a slow, tired edge, jolting every once in awhile in quickly dying bursts of nervous energy. It was when Sam shivered that Dean blinked, feeling ridiculous for failing to notice something so obvious.

 

“Bud, you cold?” Dean asked. Sam shot him a glance. “You want your paci?”

 

That’s where Dean hits the mark. Sam nodded his head, hair falling into his face. “Yuh-huh, yes, Dean got it right,” he chirped.

 

Dean got the long-legged and long-sleeved woolen pajama onesie out of the drawers of clothing. This one was a light chartreuse with little white dots. It took a bit longer of rifling through the drawers for Dean to procure Sam’s favorite purple pacifier. It had a picture of Jasmine on the end.

 

They repeated the routine, carefully stripping Sam of his lighter onesie and getting him into the warmer one. He latched onto the pacifier and went straight back to playing. Dean settled down on the floor, staying close by and watching Sam move the animals around, speaking to them in a clipped, simple tone.

 

Dean zoned out for awhile, staring out the window at the cloud cover slowly overtaking the sky. It seemed fitting that today would be a rainy day. It didn’t make the world outside any less beautiful--in fact, if Sam weren’t sick, Dean was certain they would have gone out jumping in the puddles together, feeling light and free. Sam was the kind of gentle soul that had the capacity to love rainy days and stormy days just as much as the sunshiney ones.

 

He’d been brought back to reality by Sam’s coughs. They were louder and harsher now, and his entire frame seemed to rattle and shake with each fit. Dean came over and sat back on his haunches to get on Sam’s level.

 

Sam turned to him with his big brown eyes tearing up at the corners. “I, I, I don’t,” he tried to get out, pausing to sniffle and wipe his face on his sleeve. “I don’t like it, Daddy.”

 

Dean grimaced in sympathy when Sammy coughed raspily again, looking especially worn out, his hair a bird’s nest. “I know, Sammy,” he murmured, running a hand through Sam’s hair and attempting to flatten it into something less wild. “Being sick sucks, huh? I promise it’ll get better soon.”

 

***

 

Turned out, empty platitudes didn’t do jack squat and Dean was starting to feel just as sick as Sammy, cringing in empathetic pain with each frustrated grumble that Sam let out.

 

Sam went from babbling animatedly at his stuffed friends to narrating his actions to Dean less frequently (“Now I pour the tea for them, Dee” - “Red foxes don’t like sugar cookies, duh”) to becoming completely silent.

 

His eyes seemed glazed over, and Dean could only watch as Sam’s toys became less and less interesting to the kid as what Dean had now hesitantly diagnosed as a bad cold progressively took over his little body.

 

It was when he was changing Sam that he got genuinely worried. Sammy wasn’t a bad kid, but he absolutely loathed getting changed when he had a dirty diaper. He wouldn’t sit still on the mat Dean had pulled out of the changing station, fidgeting restlessly and muttering as Dean cleaned him up and got him wrapped back up in a new diaper.

 

This time though, he was just as silent as he was with his toys. Plaint and warm on his back, he kept his eyes closed as Dean carefully disposed of the dirty diaper, wiped him down, and put a new one on him. Sammy was breathing through his mouth now, and the little, wheezing noises that came with every inhale and exhale made Dean chew nervously at the inside of his cheek.

 

Dean bodily hauled him upright when the job was done, patting him soundly on the butt. “C’mere, Sammy baby,” he murmured, palming Sam’s cheek and feeling his heart rate spike at the heat there. “Let’s get you some cough syrup, huh? That’ll make you feel better.”

 

Sam harrumphed and leaned forward, burying his face in Dean’s chest. He wrapped his arms loosely around Dean’s torso. “No,” he said, “Don’ like how it tastes.”

 

Dean chuckled, patting Sam’s diaper again and kissing his forehead. “We’ve got the strawberry kind now,” he said. “If you try it, I promise I’ll give you a kiss.”

 

“Hmm…” Sammy said, exhaling against Dean’s t-shirt. “Hmmm, okay.”

 

“Up up up,” Dean said, helping Sam to his feet. Once upright, Sam latched onto Dean, holding tightly to his hand. They made their way out of the playroom and back into the hall. A few steps later, they were at the bathroom. Dean sat Sam down on the toilet seat while he rummaged in the cabinet for Sammy’s medicine.

 

He found it in the back behind a package of Hello Kitty themed band-aids. He popped open the little box and pulled out the vial. It came with a gentle little syringe, which Sam was supposed to put his lips to. He was a teeny bit old for using the syringe over a spoon, but even the short trip to the kitchen seemed like too much effort for the exhausted toddler.

 

Dean filled up the syringe with the bright pink liquid and held it out. “Open up,” he said, and Sammy obediently dropped his mouth open. Dean put the nib of the syringe into Sam’s mouth and Sam latched onto it, dutifully sucking away while Dean slowly depressed the plunger. Once all the medicine was safely inside Sammy’s tummy, he put away all the supplies and booped Sam’s nose. “There,” he said. “Was that alright?”

 

Sam nodded, smiling lopsidedly. He pursed his lips comically and hummed insistently, like a little humming bee.

 

Dean laughed, shaking his head. Sam had always possessed a great memory. “Okay, okay, I did promise,” he joked, leaning forward and pressing a gentle kiss to Sam’s lips. “There you go, for being such a good little boy.”

 

Sam’s smile became a full out beam. The wide, dimpled look was split apart when Sam’s mouth opened in a wide yawn. Dean leaned forward and squeezed Sam’s shoulder, heart full to bursting with affection for the sweet and calm child. “Nap time?” Dean asked, and Sam’s eyes went dark and serious as he nodded.

 

“Sleep?”

 

“Yes,” Dean said. “Let’s sleep.”

 

***

 

Dean had carried Sam to the bedroom and tucked him a few minutes ago, but he had a few final activities to do before joining the little one in bed.

 

He hummed to himself as he carefully placed all of Sammy’s toys back in their proper places and wiped down the toy kitchen and table surfaces with bright pink baby wipes. He made sure there was a glass of water, another spoon, and more infant tylenol at the ready, just in case Sam woke up feeling icky and dull-headed again. He shut all the blinds the house and switched off any lights that were left on.

 

After his little ritual, he unbuttoned his shirt and tossed it off. His pants were next, until he was in just a ratty tee and striped boxers. He carefully eased the bedroom door open, wincing when it squeaked quietly. He checked the bed. Looking absolutely tiny, dwarfed by the giant, downy comforter, Sam was peacefully asleep, mouth open and shiny with drool. He mewled in his sleep and turned his head, nuzzling his nose into the pillow.

 

That was Dean’s cue. He stepped over to the bed and hopped lightly in, slipping under the covers. In his sleep, Sam was like a homing beacon, muttering nonsense as he immediately found Dean’s body and curled up against it, pillowing his head on Dean’s chest. Dean wrapped his arms around Sam’s body, squeezing him tight. He turned his head so his mouth and nose rested against Sam’s silky, soft hair. He breathed in deeply, closing his eyes as he inhaled the familiar soporific scent of Sammy. Nothing made him feel safer or more at home.

 

He closed his eyes, holding Sam close, feeling his birdlike ribcage expand slowly under his touch. He was still warm, and his breathing was still a bit wheezy, but Dean hoped that they’d crested the worst of the mountain of illness, and that it would be an easy downhill sled ride back to full health.

 

***

 

Dean woke to hairs tickling his chin. A small body was twisting in his arms, trying to find a comfortable way to rest, most presumably. A tiny sneeze made Dean grin.

 

“You up?” Dean murmured, rubbing his hands up and down Sam’s back.

 

“S’me,” Sam whispered, voice thick with sleep. “Older me. You shouldn’t have let me stay home from school.”

 

“Please,” Dean scoffed. “You wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on anything. You’ve been working yourself too hard. You need your rest.”

 

“Whatever,” Sam huffed. “Thanks,” he added, more quietly, after a few beats of silence.

 

Dean grinned even wider, feeling a little bit smug. “Any time, babe,” he said, “any time.”

 

He considered asking Sam if he wanted to get up any time soon, but then Sam would obviously say yes, and well, Dean couldn’t have that. They deserved a little more time like this, where the world was stripped down to their love and nothing else.

 

“Go back to sleep, baby,” Dean whispered, reaching one arm up to run his fingers through Sam’s hair. It was a trick he’d never forgotten, a little gesture that always knocked Sam right out.

 

“Hmm,” Sam muttered, and it was a noise of disapproval, but his body wasn’t objecting to Dean’s request. No, Sam’s body was betraying his true desires and sprawling all over Dean like the cutest and most overheated octopus known to man. Sam reached up and kissed Dean soundly on the lips, and Dean kissed right back, without a care in the world. If he got sick, so be it. They could be sick together. Dean had called in sick to work, after all, why not turn the lie honest? Sickness was worth it if Dean got more kisses from his boyfriend like that.

 

Dean laid there for a few moments after Sam settled back in and drifted off to sleep, taking some time to himself to just think. He had no troubles, no real troubles--Sam’s cold would be gone soon enough. Sam was a strong kid. He always had been. They’d get through this, no sweat. Even the larger worries at the back of his head, like if he’d get the promotion he wanted or if Sam would get accepted at the university of his dreams (with a scholarship, no less), seemed paltry, like little hills of sand they could climb past without batting an eyelash. They could do this. Dean was a hard worker, and Sam was a genius.

 

Those were the thoughts gently floating about Dean’s head like puffy summertime clouds as he drifted back into a light, comfortable sleep.

 

They could do this. They could tackle anything that came their way, as long as they were together.

 

***

 

The rest of the day was a doozy. Sam’s voice was still crackly and thick with ickiness, but his cheeks had a little more life in them. His eyes looked a little brighter. He was little again. When Dean asked him about his headache, he said he was fine, and Dean believed him. Small Sammy wasn’t very good at lying, at least not with Dean.

 

Dean wondered at what they could do for the rest of the day. He didn’t have to think about it long, because the first and most pertinent thing was to get Sam out of his onesie and change his diaper.

 

Dean worked quietly, and Sam seemed to be in affectionate puppy mode. He didn’t protest while Dean changed him, instead obeying happily when Dean asked him to lift up. Dean enjoyed the work. He’d learned how to change Sammy at only four years old, and the simple task never failed to make him feel productive and caring of Sam.

 

Sam wiggled and rolled around and teased when Dean tried to finagle the slippery kid back into the onesie. Dean went along, laughing as they played, but in the end, Sam was the one to get worn out and lay there as Dean finally got him all buttoned up and safe.

 

Dean always had a constant supply of sippy cups full of orange juice at his disposal, and he was satisfied that Sammy had gotten at least a full serving or two of the vitamins that would help him get better.

 

Since Sammy’s energy had mellowed out, Dean decided that they’d spend some time watching a movie. It was a safe and lazy activity that could kill some time while Sam’s bodies fought off all the pesky bacteria.

 

They headed into the living room and over to the shelves of movies and television shows. Dean let Sammy pick the movie. It was his day, after all, and Sam deserved a treat for being such a trooper when his body was obviously all puttered out.

 

Dean got the blanket from the kitchen table and wrapped it around Sam. Sam hugged it close to his body. He was on his knees, staring at the colorful jackets of all the different DVDs. He recognized the telltale dark blue of one of his favorite movies and pried the DVD out of the shelf.

 

He lifted it up, displaying it triumphantly to show Dean. “Daddy, look! Finding Nemo !”

 

Dean smiled, biting his lip to keep a cheerful laugh inside. They’d seen this movie enough times to have it memorized. Dean found it funny. It wasn’t actually all that different from bigger Sam’s favorite movie-- The Lord of the Rings . They were both what Dean liked to call “journey movies,” and good ones at that, though they appealed to different audience. Lucky Sammy that he was multiple audiences at once.

 

Dean helped Sam put the disc in the player, and they sat back. Their couch was worn and cheap- they weren’t rich by any standards, after all- but it was big and puffy and Sam sank all the way down into it. Wrapped up and snuggly in the blanket, he was just a puff of head and a pair of sick-reddened eyes peeking out to watch the previews.

 

Halfway through, Dean paused the movie to do a brief run to the bedroom to grab the cough medicine he’d put out. He spooned it into Sam’s mouth, giving him another kiss when he swallowed it all down without complaint.

 

They watched the rest of the movie in peace. When they were at the shark scene, Sam started nodding off, his head bobbing up and down. He’d jolt back up at random, eyes going wide, sniffling and rubbing his face. Not a moment later, his eyes would be going droopy again, his body relaxed and loose, spread out along the couch.

 

It wasn’t long before Sam’s head was in Dean’s lap and his legs were curled up on the couch cushions.

 

Sam sighed, his nose whistling on the exhale. He sniffled and mumbled something in his sleep, turning his head to press his face into Dean’s lap.

 

Dean found himself watching Sam far more than he was watching the movie, using a careful, light finger to brush Sam’s hair away from his face. In his sleep, he looked so young, all the years stripped away from his face. He was just a child, with pink cheeks and pink lips, with puppy dog hair and clumsy bruises up and down his arms.

 

Dean started singing his favorite songs from Led Zeppelin IV while petting Sam’s hair and shoulders, applying a little more soothing pressure if Sam’s brow furrowed or he made a noise of displeasure in his sleep.

 

The movie ended with Sam still snuggled up in Dean’s lap. Dean leaned over to grab the remote and turned off the DVD player and the television. Without the light from the screen, he was plunged into darkness, only a small amount of yellow light coming into the room from the hallway, spreading across the floor and dusting gently across Sam’s dozing face.

 

Dean gave himself a moment to just sit there and be grateful for the kid he cared for. When Sam’s body heat started making him sweat, he shifted, slipping out from under Sam and putting his arms under the boy, grunting quietly as he lifted him into his arms.

 

Sam blinked sleepily at him. Once he registered he was safe in Dean’s arms, he closed his eyes again and nuzzled Dean’s neck.

 

Dean brought him into the bedroom and stripped him down, putting him in plaid pajamas instead. He climbed in after Sammy and was out within moments, put to sound sleep after a long day of worrying over his sick kid.

 

***

 

The next morning, it wasn’t Dean’s alarm clock that woke him, it was the sound of Sam’s coughs, sounding worse than before. Sam was trying to keep quiet, but Dean was already awake, and there was no way either of them were going to get any more sleep with Sam sniffling, gasping, sneezing, and coughing.

 

“Is it worse?” Dean asked, rolling over to face his baby brother.

 

“Nuh,” Sam sniffed, blinking tiredly. “Jus’ the same.” His voice sounded all congested and blocked up, and while it was cute, it meant Sam’s sickness wasn’t as brief as Dean had hoped.

 

“Looks like we’re gonna have another day in,” Dean said, patting Sam on the head. Sam glared and swiped his hand away.

 

“Nguh,” Sam groaned. “I can go to school today.”

 

“Uh-uh,” Dean said, tisking at Sam. “You’ll just get everyone else sick. Plus, I can read it off of you. This cold is getting to you, man. You’re gonna be little all day, just you see.”

 

“Maybe,” Sam said, and broke off whatever he was about to say with a violent sneeze.

 

“Gross,” Dean muttered, wiping his face. He rolled out of bed. “Up, Sam, I’m gonna inject you with orange juice.”

 

Sam threw a pillow at Dean’s back, but Dean heard the covers being flung away, so he kept walking. He made all the proper calls to work and school and went through his morning routine. Sam chose the princess-themed toothbrush over the plain blue one, so Dean could tell his mindset was regressing.

 

They headed to breakfast together. Sam didn’t say as much, but he seemed to be feeling guilty about taking up all of Dean’s time yesterday, so he helped Dean prepare, getting out the bread, the butter, and the jam, as well as setting out the plates.

 

By the time Dean spread the jam across the warm slices of toast, Sam was a toddler again.

 

They survived breakfast, Sam stuffed full of orange juice and cough syrup.

 

“C’mon,” Dean called gesturing toward the hall. “Playroom, huh? Changing time.”

 

“Okay, Dee,” Sammy said nodding, chin jutting out in determination. “I’mma help you today.”

 

“You will? Thanks, bud,” Dean said. “But don’t feel bad, okay? You know I like taking care of you.”

 

Sam beamed up at him, dimples making wide caverns in his round cheeks. “I know,” he said, and hopped into the playroom before Dean.

 

Dean herded Sam over to the drawers of clothing and supplies, and got him out of his pajamas and into a diaper and another warm onesie, a plain blue one.

 

The day seemed to go faster than the previous one. There were regular orange juice breaks, diaper changes, and even a pretty decent nap time. Dean wouldn’t admit it, but he was feeling just the slightest bit under the weather, too, so the quiet days weren’t only helping Sammy.

 

By the time they reached afternoon, Sam was definitely looking and sounding better. His voice wasn’t as crackly and raspy as before, and while his cheeks were pink, they didn’t seem to be fever pink. After a diaper change, Dean took Sam’s temperature, and found it at 98.9. It seemed like the worst was definitely behind them.

 

There was only one problem. It was a Tuesday, which meant it was Sam’s T day. If Sam were eighteen, it wouldn’t be a problem, and he’d do it himself without a flinch, but as a two-and-a-half year old, needles were a much bigger problem.

 

Toddler Sam faced needles exactly as one would expect: with fear, and sometimes tantrums. Dean could sympathize, he really could, but his own tiredness was making his temper a little shorter than usual.

 

He avoided it for as long as he could, but the truth of the matter was that it had to be done, no matter what Sam felt. And while Dean loathed the sounds of Sam’s cries or screams, they were worth it to keep Sam on track with his transition. Older Sam would thank him, later.

 

It was only now that would take a toll on Dean’s emotions.

 

Dean decided to just wing it. The last time Sam had been two on T day was several months back. It didn’t happen regularly enough for Dean to establish a technique. Dean knew toddlers, anyway. There was no magical way to make subcutaneous injections a happy affair.

 

Dean left Sam at a pile of toy cars, organized in a way that made sense only to him. He came back with the vial of testosterone and needles, and approached Sam without hesitation.

 

Sam looked up from his playing, hand stilling on top of a blue truck. His puzzled, open look went from Dean’s face to the bundle in his arms. He dropped the truck. “Dee,” he whined, biting his lip and giving Dean the full dose of puppy eyes, “do we gotta?”

 

“Yeah, kiddo, afraid, so,” Dean sighed, sitting down next to Sam. “I’m gonna need to unbutton you.”

 

“No,” Sammy said. “How about not today. Want to play with me?” He held up an enticing classic car, waving it in Dean’s face.

 

“Sorry, Sammy,” Dean said, stone-faced. “There’s no way out of this one. I’m gonna ask you to be brave, alright? If you’re brave, we’ll go to the park. And the pet store. And you can pet all the dogs you want.”

 

Sam’s eyes were already wet in anticipation of the needle. He blinked. “You promise?”

 

Dean’s heart just about broke. “I double pinky-swear,” he vowed. “You ready?”

 

Sam didn’t say anything. He let Dean unbutton the onesie and shrug it off of his shoulders until it lay in a pool around his waist. He sat upright, his tummy bunching up in front. The fat there was where Sam’s injections went each week.

 

Dean prepared the needle in silence, screwing it onto the syringe and drawing up the testosterone to the proper amount of milliliters. He swabbed Sam’s tummy with a disinfectant wipe. Sam shivered at the cold touch. The Hello Kitty band-aids were at the ready.

 

“Sammy, just look at my face, ‘kay? Nowhere else. Now, I’m gonna tell you about the different kinds of dogs at the humane society, so listen up.”

 

Sam was trembling and pale-faced, but he nodded. When Dean began to weave a stilted, awkward tale about an old Goldie and a Boxer puppy, Sam’s eyes started drifting to the needle in Dean’s hand less and less. He looked more animated, invested in Dean’s tale.

 

“So, wouldn’t you believe it, in comes this poodle,” Dean rambled, and poked the needle into Sam’s tummy. Sam barely flinched, his lips turning down in a barely-there frown. He was rapt. Dean felt awesome, like some kind of zen child guru. “And she thinks she’s the big cheese, just because her fur’s curly. So she orders Goldie around, like she’s the boss!”

 

Dean finished injecting the testosterone and pulled the needle straight out, recapping it and putting it in their sharps container. He dabbed Sam’s tummy with a cotton swab and pressed a pink band-aid over the tiny wound.

 

“There. All done. Was that so bad?”

 

“You gotta tell me what happened to the poodle!”

 

Dean laughed. Of course Sammy had only been able to concentrate on the dogs. He’d remember that method for later. He didn’t really have any more story planned, so he made up a heartwarming tale of all the dogs becoming best friends and living happily ever after as he cleaned up after them.

 

Sam, of course, wasn’t a big literary critic at the moment, so he thought Dean’s story was magnificent.

 

“Park time, right?” Sam asked, excitement lighting up his sniffly voice.

 

“You got it,” Dean confirmed, quickly checking out the bay windows. “But it looks like it might rain, so raincoat and boots.”

 

Dean helped Sam step out of the onesie and into jeans and a plain striped t-shirt for their special outing. Sam hopped from foot to foot, impatient to be up and running.

 

“Okay,” Dean said when he was finished. “Boots next.”

 

Sam nodded, over and over, hair going wild. “I’ll go get ‘em!” he squawked, and took off in a sprint toward the front of the house, where the closet with all the coats was located.

 

Dean followed after his little bean, and found him in the front hall, big-sized coats all over the floor. He was putting his arm through the wrong sleeve of his bright yellow raincoat, lip bit in concentration.

 

“Hey--here,” Dean said, and got behind Sam, helping him put the coat on. He zipped it up for him. Sam lifted the hood over his head. Dean got out the boots and Sam dutifully stepped into his, one by one. Dean put on a windbreaker and some running shoes. He grabbed the keys from the hall table. “You all ready to go?”

 

“I can’t wait to see the baby puppies,” Sam said instead of answering, actually trembling in excitement, hopping from foot to foot. “I bet they’re so tiny!”

 

“Me, too, kiddo, c’mon.”

 

Dean opened the front door and held his hand out. Sam ran forward and took it. They got into the Impala just as a few light drops of rain started to fall intermittently from the sky, which was an even, soft gray like the fur of a kitten.

 

The park was on the other side of their neighborhood, so it didn’t take them long to reach it. Dean parked down the street and held Sam’s hand as they walked onto the first path. “So, big place,” Dean said, “what do you want to do?”

 

“Hmmmm…” Sam pondered, rubbing at his nose, “Let’s look at the ducks first.”

 

“Okay.” Dean led Sam through the winding forest path to the quiet little pond near the back of the small park. There weren’t many people out in this weather. Benches lined the pond, already wet, but Sam didn’t mind, so Dean didn’t either. He didn’t think walking around with wet butts would be the worst thing to happen to them by far.

 

There were a lot of ducks out, swimming around together in the shallow end of the pond. Dean pointed to the furthest depths, where a single white swan cruised regally by, long neck arching high and dignified.

 

Sam sat happily, bouncing in his seat. He was giving each of the ducks names, though they moved so much that he often forgot who was who and called out at them arbitrarily. Dean thought it was adorable.

 

Dean relaxed, slipping into quiet thoughts. He listened to Sam warble, not paying much attention.

 

“Dribble, don’t swim too far away!”

 

“Mama duck, watch out for Barney!”

 

They stayed for around ten minutes before Sam got restless. They moved on, walking through the paths at a lazy pace. A rusty swing set and a smattering of picnic tables sat on top of a small hill. They broke off from the path to hop on the swings. Dean pushed Sam for a while, until he was high in the sky. Dean joined him, sitting on the other swing.

 

It didn’t matter what age he was. Swings were the best. They’d once stayed in a rental home as younger brats that had its own swing set in the backyard. Sam used to spend hours back there, talking to imaginary friends. While the memory was tinged with melancholy, it was a good one, one Dean kept close to his chest.

 

Sam exhausted himself by leaping off the swing set over and over, so Dean thought they’d better go see the dogs now before Sam was too sleepy to get all excited over them. It would be a shame if he fell asleep and Dean had to put him to bed before the real fun could even get started.

 

They walked back the way they’d come. The rain started to fall in earnest. The constant susurrus of water hitting the canopy above them was calming. A slight breeze made it just the perfect day. Thunder rumbled, but it was muted, far off in the distance.

 

The car ride to town and to the petstore was easy going. The streets were pretty empty, as school was still in session for most. He parked right by the front entrance and helped Sam get out of the car.

 

Sam yawned, but snapped his mouth shut with a click of his teeth when he realized where they were. It seemed he’d forgotten about the pet store in all his excitement for the ducks and the swings.

 

“Dogs,” Sam whispered, and it sounded so much like worship that Dean just had to reach over and get an arm around Sam’s shoulders, tugging him close.

 

Sam leaned into the touch. They walked in, wrapped around each other. The place was much warmer than the outside world, and had a cloying, familiar scent of rope, dog treats, and dog fur.

 

“Oh, oh, oooh!” Sam exclaimed. “I wanna see puppies.”

 

“Alright, let’s check out the puppies.” Dean raised his head to scan the aisle markers. The dogs were in the back of the store. He took Sam on a meandering path through the aisles. They saw chew toys, treats, and stuffed toys of all kinds. They passed a row of parakeet cages on their way to the dogs, and Sam poked his fingers into the cage and tried to tweet at the chattery birds.

 

They heard the puppies before they saw them, little whines and barks altering them to the canine company up ahead. Sam couldn’t resist, finally breaking loose and running before Dean.

 

There was a wall of little corrals, each filled with dog beds, food trays, and toys. The first corral had four Golden Retriever puppies in it. Sam let out a loud squeal, and got down onto his knees to be at eye level with the bright-eyed puppies.

 

They were just as animated and curious about Sammy as he was of them, tumbling and tripping over each other to get to the edge of the cage and sniff and lick at Sam.

 

Sam laughed, sticking his thin wrist through the links in the cage and letting the puppies swipe their little pink tongues all over his hands. Their tiny tails wagged hard enough to shake their entire bodies, and Sam was so lively that Dean expected to see a tail bursting out of his pants, too.

 

Just watching the spectacle made Dean feel light, sailing above the trivialities of their lives and into a purer world. It sounded a bit dramatic, sure, but Dean dared anyone who doubted him to try spending some time with Sam and puppies. There was no way to leave the experience without seeing everything with a rosy, sparkling golden hue.

 

Sam didn’t want to leave the Golden puppies, but he was also just dying to see all the rest of the puppies, Dean could tell.

 

Dean took charge. “C’mon,” he said gently. “There’re some Beagles and a Lab in the next one.”

 

“Beagles!” Sam exclaimed, and was sliding over a moment later, fingers curling in the fencing as he called out to the puppies. The Beagles were lazier than the other puppies, but no less cute. They were all curled up on top of one another in a dog bed in the front corner of the cage. They raised their heads to blink sleepily at Sammy, long ears flopping about.

 

Sam was smitten. He “oohed” and “ahhed” at the dogs, reaching as far as he could into the enclosure to stroke their soft ears. One of the puppies made a noise in his sleep and fell onto his side, stretching out all his legs, toes spreading apart.

 

That was the point of lethal cuteness for Dean. He sighed, bending down to pet the puppies himself. He was a real sucker for the ones with sad eyes. His entire life was evidence of that.

 

The lone Lab puppy, a shiny, shimmering black one, toddled over to Sam and mashed his nose through the fencing. Sam poked his nose, giggling as the dog immediately poked out his tongue to lick at Sam with the vigor of a sugar-loaded Chihuahua at a dance party.

 

Sam and Dean pulled away in sync to look into the last enclosure when the Lab puppy stopped them, yapping up a storm. He’d gotten up on his hind legs and was attempting to climb out of the enclosure and reach Sam, claws clicking futilely against the metal wires.

 

“Oh, Dee, look,” Sam said, his voice loaded with sadness at how much the Lab puppy wanted to spend time with them. “He just wants some friends.”

 

Sam stepped away from the third cage, which housed some pugs and other squishy mutts. He crawled back to the Lab puppy, who immediately barked more and more, voice gone high with excitement. His tail was thwapping loudly against the cage wall, a steady rhythm that woke up some of the Beagles. They rose their heads in curiosity, watching the Lab fall over himself to get Sammy’s attention.

 

Sam’s eyes were bright with tears, and Dean assumed they were from how overwhelmed Sam was. He and the puppy were peas in a pod. It was something in the locked-on target look they both had, like they’d been searching all their lives for a partner in crime and had finally found one.

 

Dean knew was what coming before Sam even turned around.

 

“Dean,” Sam said, slowly, carefully, glassy eyes upturned and innocent, “Dean, please, he needs a family.”

 

Dean restrained a sigh. “Sammy…” he started, but Sam wouldn’t have it.

 

Sam’s eyes filled up. “I don’ want him to spend the rest of his life in a little box. An’ I don’ want him to go away, they’ll be mean!”

 

Dean doesn’t have to ask who “they” are. He can tell Sam’s imagining some nuclear family in a nicer suburb than theirs, the puppy abandoned to a fancy plush bed in the corner of the basement. “You don’t know that, kid,” Dean murmured, “I’m sure he’ll be very happy and join a family full of smart little ones just like you.”

 

Sam mashed the bases of his palms roughly against his eyes, pushing away tears before they could fall. “Please,” he whispered, hiccuping. “Dee.”

 

“Okay, we can just-” Sam’s eyes were lighting up and he started dancing before Dean could even finish. “You gotta prove to me you can care for a dog, that he won’t get lonely while we’re gone. So not yet, okay? But I ain’t sayin’ no.”

 

It was good enough for Sam--Dean could tell somewhere inside of him that teen Sam was heartily on board with his toddler self, and he had no doubts that Sam would prove himself to be a responsible dog owner.

 

Sam’s birthday was several months away, but Christmas and Dean’s birthday were even closer. Huh. He might have to pull aside a worker and see if it was possible to adopt a dog but pick him up a few weeks later.

 

“Okay, you probably need another dose of orange juice and a diaper change,” Dean said. “You ready to go?”

 

Sam, of course, was not ready, so Dean stood by for a couple more minutes of playing, and then ten entire minutes of tearful goodbyes with the Lab.

 

Once they were in the car, the puppy was all Sam was capable of thinking about. He was so invested in the dog, so focused, that he couldn’t even manage full sentences, and instead would gasp out ideas and puppy names at random, Dean encouraging some and shooting down others. They were not going to have a dog named Hulk Elmo.

 

They got home safe and sound. Just like usual, Sam had worn himself out with his energy and enthusiasm, and spoke less and less about the dog, instead yawning and stretching.

 

Dean re-filled his sippy cup and made him drink at least half of it before they moved on to other activities. He carried a loose-limbed Sammy to the playroom and got him out of his clothes and into a fresh diaper. The onesie came back on. Sam absentmindedly played with the bandage on his tummy, fingers rolling and bending the loose edge of the adhesive.

 

Dean checked Sam’s temperature one more time to make sure they were headed on the right track. Sam seemed a lot better, and his tiredness was to be expected, but Dean couldn’t help but be a little paranoid. Sure enough, Sam’s temperature was more or less normal.

 

Sam spun the thermometer around and stuck it in Dean’s mouth. Dean laughed, but he patiently kept it under his tongue at Sam’s serious look, his brow pushed down and lips pursed.

 

Dean was okay, too. That was a relief, honestly.

 

Dean felt his chest loosen at the fact that they were both healthy, more or less, and it was a big weight off of his shoulders, sure, but he couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed that reality had to start up again so soon after their quiet break.

 

Part of him desperately wanted Sam to be a little one forever, and for him to be his Daddy ‘til the end of time. He was built to look after Sammy, and it was so therapeutic like this. Neither of them had complex worries or anxieties. Sam just wanted to be happy, and Dean just wanted to make him happy.

 

But a bigger part of him missed bigger Sam. There was something special about growing old with someone. Dean had known Sam for eighteen-and-a-half years, and Dean was all Sam had ever known. They knew each other’s secrets and fears and loves. Dean remembered every single step Sam took, every hallmark moment, every horrible fall.

 

Yeah. While Dean felt an odd mix of loss and nostalgia, most of him was satisfied with the flow of time. They would be okay. They were okay. Things sucked sometimes, sure, but they’d gotten out together, they’d started a life. They had each other.

 

Did anything else ever matter?

 

Dean couldn’t say.

 

***

 

Sam didn’t know where he was, at first. It felt like he’d been shrunken down and was sopping wet, and then was hung up to dry and stretched out, so now he was thin and papery.

 

He stretched, feeling his bones pop. He let out an involuntary grunt. He rubbed at his eyes, stretching. Dimly, he remembered that he was fighting off the vestiges of a nasty cold. The last two days felt distant and watery to Sam, like he was viewing them through a scratched telescope lense, and they were on a distant, misty island in the sea.

 

Sam sat up and looked around, yawning. He was in bed. Dean was curled up on his side, facing away from Sam, snoring lightly. For a moment, he thought it was mid-morning, and panicked, scanning the clock- 7:03, they were late- when the passage of time finally caught up with him.

 

It wasn’t seven in the morning, it was seven at night. Dean had put them to bed early so that Sam would be well-rested for school in the morning. Except hopping into bed just after dinner was ludicrous, even for them, and Sam was wide awake.

 

He looked down at himself. He had the phantom perception of being in one of his onesies and a diaper for a considerable amount of time, feeling little wisps of pressure around his hips and shoulders. Dean had helped him into normal boxer-briefs and pajamas while they’d gotten ready for bed.

 

Sam stood up, reaching his arms out in a full-body stretch. The resulting shiver went all the way down to his toes. He walked around the bed and put an arm on Dean’s shoulder. Dean’s eyes flicked open, ever the light sleeper, alert at the slightest disturbance. “Hey,” said Sam.

 

Dean’s eyes were startlingly green, even in the low light. Even though Sam knew he’d been looking at them constantly during the past few days, he couldn't help admiring them. He’d missed them.

 

Dean’s lips spread into a lazy, sardonic grin. “Welcome back, idiot,” he said, “feeling better, then?”

 

“Much better, thank you,” Sam said, ignoring Dean’s sarcasm and instead choosing to lay a sweet kiss on Dean’s lips. Dean hummed under him, arms coming up to sweep up and down Sam’s forearms.

 

“Mmm, no problem, sure, of course,” Dean said, voice still sleep-rough, but getting better by the syllable. “If this is how I get thanked, it’s all just part of the job, Sam.”

 

Sam chuckled. “Jerk,” he said, and leaned in for a far more passionate kiss, letting Dean probe deeper into his mouth, tongue brushing against Sam’s own.

 

They pulled apart after an indiscernible amount of time. Dean’s eyes were wider and more coherent. Their gazes lingered, just finding pleasure in watching one another, a long, drawn-out “welcome home.” Sam felt warm and fuzzy deep in his stomach at the love encapsulated in Dean’s eyes.

 

“The day’s not over yet,” Sam said, tone low. “Let’s just have some more fun before the work starts up again, huh?”

 

“Uuuurgh,” Dean groaned, twisting and turning in bed. “Usually I would be so on board and you know it, but it’s been a hasty past few days. I’m down for some more time doin’ nothing, babe.”

 

“That’s what I meant by ‘fun,’ idiot,” Sam said, recycling Dean’s teasing insult from earlier. “Cuddle me.”

 

“Why’re you even up, then?” Dean accused, squinting (somewhat) menacingly at Sam.

 

“Because there’s one thing I’ve been missing for two days,” Sam said. “We’re gonna cuddle, watch a slasher flick in bed, and drink beer.”

 

Dean started laughing, low in his chest, an easy, satisfied sound. “That’s the Sammy I know. Well, shoo then.”

 

Sam mock-pouted at Dean but left the room, steps light. He came back with two chilled beers to find Dean already had the laptop out and fired up. He was navigating netflix, his face scrunched up, the rough angles accentuated further by the blue light emanating from the laptop. Sam paused for a moment and watched Dean, who was still unaware of Sam’s return. Sam saved the scene as a snapshot in his head, then strode in, thrusting out the beers in front of him. “I bear gifts.”

 

Dean held out a hand, opening and closing his fingers. “Gimme,” he ordered, not taking his eyes from the screen.

 

Sam handed him the beer and proceeded to crawl over Dean, making sure to bump over his knees and shins before getting to his side of the bed and settling against Dean’s chest. Dean wrapped an arm around him and Sam rested his head on Dean’s shoulder, letting out a contented noise. Dean’s smell curled around him, more secure and comforting than any blanket.

 

They sat together, pressed as close to one another as possible, surrounded by warmth and safety. Dean chose the movie and they clinked beer bottles together, taking the first gulp in unison.

 

The movie started, and Sam snaked his arm down to reach Dean’s free one. He entwined his fingers with Dean’s, and Dean squeezed back.

 

Throughout the movie, Dean made dry quips about the acting and the ridiculous blood splatters, and Sam rewarded his boyfriend with kisses, some on the lips, some on the nose, some down his neck and chin.

 

Sam savored in each silly scene and resulting scoff from Dean. If he could, he’d pause time and spend the rest of his existence curled up here with his brother.

 

He was healing. He was getting better, piece by piece.

 

Together, they were already whole.

 

fin