[PG-13 | Sam/Dean; Dean/OFC; Sam/Jess | Wincest with a side of Het | 8,593 Words]
Companion piece to It’s the Wrong Time for Somebody New .This is Sam's side of the story and it should fill in the gaps in the other story.
Warnings: None. Spoiler for the beginning of the second season, though I doubt I need to mention that.
Sam watches Dean leave without another word. Some part of him wants to grab his beer bottle and hurl it at Dean's head. Another part of him wants to finish his beer and head on back to the motel. He listens to the second part.
He's staring at the ceiling and he's wondering about Dean and the girl. She's certainly pretty, even if she doesn't look like the girls Dean usually disappears with. What's causing Sam to be concerned is the fact that Dean looks different with her. He always pays extra attention to any girl he's flirting with, but he never lets down his defenses. He barely lets Sam see him without it, but tonight...
Sam's stomach twists as he thinks about the way Dean laughs in front of her. Dean doesn't act this way. He wasn't like this with Cassie either. Granted, Dean's relationship with Cassie when Sam met her hadn't exactly been great at the time. But Dean is always like that whenever he has to face people he knows can hurt him.
Sam tosses and turns that night. He dreams of Jess and fire, Dad and a dark tunnel. He dreams of Dean, staring at him from across the road, then turns around and walks away. Sam calls out for him in his dream, asks him where he's going, but Dean doesn't turn around. He keeps on walking. Sam wants to run after him, but he can't. He doesn't move. He can only watch as his brother move further and further away.
He wakes up at 2 AM. He realizes that he can't fall back asleep, so he turns on the television and watches a bunch of infomercials.
Dean comes back at 4:50. Sam is watching a man trying to sell a juicer and is hungry for a salad. His brother raises an eyebrow when he sees what Sam's watching. Sam shrugs.
"You're up early," Dean comments as he tosses his jacket on his bed and heads for the bathroom.
"Couldn't sleep," Sam says quietly before Dean enters the bathroom. His brother pauses for a moment at the doorway and shoots Sam a sideway look, but otherwise remains silent.
When they're packed and ready, Sam leans against the side of the Impala and looks at Dean.
"We can stay another day, you know."
"Can't." Dean is staring at the contents of the trunk, going over a checklist in his head. "People are disappearing in the Everglades, Sammy."
"Well, there are alligators there, Dean." Sam doesn't duck when Dean swats him on the head as he walks by. He's still leaning against the passenger door when Dean opens the driver's side door and slides in.
"Sam, either get in the damn car or you can haul your own ass to the Everglades. Your pick, man."
Sam rolls his eyes, but gets in the car without another word.
They're in North Carolina when Sam realizes that he might be in love with his brother. It pounces on him like a werewolf, with barely a warning. He's not even thinking about Dean when it happens. He's thinking about Jess and the stories that she used to tell him about visiting relatives from the state. He's halfway through reciting the story about Uncle Lou and his fascination with hubcaps when it hits him.
For a moment, he thinks that Dean has just leaned over and smacked him. He snaps around to glare at his brother, and then he realizes that Dean is too preoccupied with headbanging along to his music to do anything. Any other time and Sam'll be making comments about Dean's road safety skills, or lack thereof. Unfortunately, there's still that billboard flashing in his head. A big sign that says, "Hey! I'm in love with my mullet rock loving, flirts with anything on two legs, older brother!"
The first thing he does when it finally sinks in is to tell Dean to pull over and the proceeds to throw up on the side of the road, cold weather be damned. After making up some half-assed excuse about food with the shelf life of plutonium, Sam leans his head against the window and tries to sleep and hopes for a vision and the massive headache that usually follows. Anything is better than to have his mind preoccupied with the knowledge that he's in love with Dean.
He wonders how it happened and why. He tries to think of Jess again, tries desperately to hold onto her memory, drowning himself in her. It works for a while. Then Dean pushes into his mind, not that hard, really, considering the fact that he's sitting next to Sam and talking to him.
"Earth to Sammy! I know you're awake, Sam."
"Let me sleep, man."
"I'd love to, Sam," Dean says, sighing. "But we're kind of in a jam."
"Wha-" Sam stares at the road. Or rather, all the snow that is covering what should be the road. "When the hell did it start to snow?" He exclaims, frustrated. Dean looks at him as if he's five and stupid, raising his eyebrow at Sam.
"Uh, it's December, dude. And it's been snowing for a while, Sam." He looks around and adds, "Well, it's worse now." Sam puts on his best bitchface and turns towards the window and tries to fall back asleep.
Dean is quiet and for a long time, it seems as if the whole world stops moving. Sam is about to get worried, because usually Dean would bitch at him for acting this way. Before he can do anything, Dean opens the car door and steps out. Sam shivers, it's too damn cold, but he knows Dean has to clear some of the snow before he can turn the car around.
Sam opens his eyes and sees Dean trudging his way through the snow, hears him swearing as he makes his way to the back of the car and popping the trunk open. Sam hears the trunk slam a couple of minutes later and sees Dean with a shovel. He watches his brother shoveling the snow for a bit and then sighs and opens his door too.
The cold makes him grit his teeth. Dean looks up, sees him outside and shakes his head.
"Get your ass back in the car, Princess. You were puking your guts out not too long ago. I don't want you getting sick on me."
"Don't be an idiot, Dean. Give me the damn shovel so we can get to a motel and fucking sleep." Dean raises an eyebrow at Sam's voice, but hands him the shovel anyway.
Later on, that night, sleeping is proving to be a difficult task. Dean is snoring in the other bed while Sam is staring at the wall, watching the shadows. He wants to wake Dean up and demand that he fix whatever it is that's making Sam think he's in love with his brother. Unfortunately, that will only piss Dean off and make him think that Sam's some kind of a freak. Or at least, more of a freak than he already is.
Sam wonders when it is that he fell in love with Dean. They've been doing the same things that they did when they were little. Of course, Dad's missing this time around and they're in charge...It still doesn't explain why Sam realizes that he loves his brother, more than a brother should.
Then he remembers the years in Stanford, when Dad turned into dad and then faded away to something that he buries in the back of his mind. He remembers that even when Dad was, for the most part, forgotten, Dean never turned into dean and was never forgotten. Dean was tucked away, slipped between his textbooks, but Sam realizes that Dean has always been on the back of his mind.
The thought makes him uncomfortable and he clings onto Jess' memories once more. He turns them around, this way and that. He wants to see whether or not he's overlooked something. Most importantly, he wants to know whether Jess...was...the real deal.
Then he remembers the way she brushes her hair back while she’s studying, the way she’d gnaw on pencils and even her own hair while she’s trying to make the words on the page make sense. He remembers the tightness in his chest every time she did that and remembers thinking how utterly strange that it’s in these moments that he realizes that he truly loves her. Images of the two of them arguing over coffee, just for the sake of arguing and then making up later, with kisses and giggles and words mouthed against skin.
He’s relieved to find these feelings, feels the ache in his chest where he keeps her memories. Because even though this complicates things, he’s glad that he really did love her because she deserves nothing less.
It still doesn't answer the question of when he fell in love with Dean, though.
A treacherous little voice in the back of his mind whispers, softly, "Always."
He shifts, staring at Dean's sleeping form. He can clearly see Dean thanks to the light from the neon sign just outside their window. The blue light covers Dean's torso like some magical light. Sam has seen Dean's body plenty of times. They usually just strip in front of each other whenever they're covered in dirt or blood or gunk from the monster of the week; it saves time. Staring at Dean, he has to wonder when the hell did the sight of his brother sleeping on his back, arms outstretched, snoring like a truck driver, make his throat dry.
Maybe Dean's right. Maybe Sam is turning into a girl.
With that thought in mind, Sam snorts and turns around, settling in to sleep.
"Whoa. Which cave did you crawl out of, Sam?" Dean asks when he steps out of the bathroom, dressed and ready to go. Sam gets out of bed, hair sticking up every which way and he knows he looks and smells like hell. He flips his brother off and stumbles into the bathroom, practically body slamming Dean out of the way.
When he emerges later, he's shaved and his mouth smells like their toothpaste. He still looks like hell and his clothes are wrinkled, but it's an improvement. Dean hands him a hot cup of coffee, concern and amusement warring on his face.
"Rough night?" He asks.
"Couldn't sleep." Sam mutters, and then groans after he takes a sip of his coffee.
"Visions again?" Dean asks, his voice is serious and the amusement is gone.
"I wish," Sam laughs, humorlessly.
"Not gonna tell me?"
"It's nothing, man. It's-" Sam shakes his head and smiles wryly at him, throwing him an answer that he knows will make Dean smirk. "Issues." Sure enough, it works, even if it is accompanied with a snort.
"When don't you have issues, Sam?" Sam is glad for the banter, so he swipes at Dean. But Dean is more awake than Sam and he's got two cups of coffee in his system, so Dean cackles when Sam's hand hits air instead.
"C'mon, we're headin' out." Dean kicks at Sam's feet. Sam knows that this conversation isn't over. It'll come up again, probably when they're five states away and Sam's ready to sleep. Or he's drunk out of his mind and Dean is close to sober. But his brother is giving him a way out, so Sam's taking it.
"The temperature is higher and the snow's all melted and shit. The road's gonna be icy, but I think we can still head on to Texas in good time." Dean says, while Sam rummages around for his clothes.
Sam blinks, holding up a navy blue shirt that he thinks is clean. "I thought the case is in Arkansas?"
"Ellen called an hour ago, while you're still in dreamland. Some other hunter got that case. She's heard some stuff down by the Texan border, though. People disappearing off a bridge, mostly couples."
"Texas? Weren't we there four months ago?"
"Uh, yeah. So?" Dean's furrowing his eyebrows. He looks like he's trying to see whether or not Sam is testing him. "It's not like the things we hunt is on a schedule, Sam. You know that sometimes we have to double back to whichever state we've been to because of a haunting or some werewolf attack or some shit."
Dean is right, of course. But Sam thinks that Dean might want to make a quick stop in that bar in Texas where Dean bumped into that petite brunette. He swallows the words that threaten to spill out of his mouth, tasting bitterness on his tongue.
"So you're thinking woman in white?" Sam asks.
"Maybe. Don't know for sure, the bridge is pretty new. It's only a year old and there's no history about any drowning or suicide around that area." Dean sounds a little relieved that Sam's not arguing with him. Sam is just a little annoyed at how relieved he sounds, but he mostly ignores it.
"Let's head on to Texas then."
It was a ghost. Not your typical one, either. It was the spirit of a jilted lover, one half of a Romeo and Juliet type couple. Unfortunately Juliet decided to bail out on her Romeo at the last second of their botched double suicide. So Romeo had gone over the railing by himself, pissed off as all hell.
Sam and Dean aren't exactly happy about him, either. Sam has bruises all over his back from being thrown against a tree. Dean has a black eye. Not from the ghost, but from one of the ghost's unfortunate would-be victims. The guy was flailing his hand all over the place and when Dean grabbed him before the ghost could send him over, the man had slammed his fist into Dean's face in thanks.
They sent the couple off with warnings of being careful, though the man was limping. Dean still thinks that he's justified in kneeing the guy in the groin for giving him a black eye. Sam doesn't know whether he should laugh hysterically or be exasperated with his brother.
"Son of a bitch," Dean mutters, pressing the ice pack on his eye. "You'd think a guy that big would stop squirming so much!"
"A ghost was about to kill him Dean, you'd probably react the same way." Sam replies. He pauses for a moment when he sees Dean glaring at him. "Alright, fine, you'd be manly and not flail about. You'd curse, hang on for dear life and shout for me to rescue you." Sam laughs when Dean mutters a "Fuck you" under his breath.
"Kiss my ass, Sam."
"I'm good, thanks." Dean curses under his breath a little more, and then throws the ice pack into the sink.
"Hand me the first aid kit, will ya?"
"Where did you put it this time?"
"In my bag."
The Winchester boys have learned ages ago that bags are to be treated as sacred artifacts. Dean's bag is Dean's. Sam isn't allowed to even breathe near it without Dean's permission. Searching through Dad or Dean's bag is under the list of the ten big Don'ts in Sam's life and vice versa. It was one of the reasons why Sam was able to keep his Stanford application a secret from both Dad and Dean. It was hidden away in his bag.
Now Dean is giving Sam permission to look through his bag, the first in a very long time, even if it is to look for the first aid kit. The last time he had been allowed to look into Dean's bag he had been sixteen and Dean was bleeding profusely from his forehead and in desperate need of stitches.
It takes him a while to find the kit. Dean had shoved it to the bottom of his bag. Sam has to carefully pull out old cassette tapes, some of them mix tapes with Dean's scrawling all over them, knives wrapped up in dirty shirts and to Sam's surprise, books of different kinds. He reads the titles quickly. They’re not on any English student's book list. Most of them are arcane texts that Dean either pilfered from someone or one of the many texts that Father Jim lends them. But Sam has to raise his eyebrow when he finds a worn copy of Dante's "The Divine Comedy" with pieces of notepaper slipped between the pages.
Dean sees him pause with the book in hand, clears his throat and scratches his head. "Picked it up at some used book store," he explains.
"How long have you had it?" Sam asks as he flips quickly through, seeing that the notes are Dean's and that some of the text is underlined.
"Four years, give or take."
"Huh." He puts it away, being careful to put it on top of the other books and making a mental note to wrap it up with one of Dean's shirts later, when he has to put everything back, and leaves it on top of the pile.
"Found it," he says, nodding to Dean. "What do you need?"
"Wait, Sam, let me-" Dean's voice trails off when he sees that Sam has opened the box.
In it, lying with all the bandages and pill bottles, syringes and small box of sterile needles, is a silver bracelet. Sam stares at it for all of five minutes before picking it up. The design is Celtic. He remembers that Jess used to like these kinds of jewelry, though she never owned a bracelet with this particular design. Sam knows that he's seen this exact same bracelet on display at one of the stores in town. He also knows that the store is located not too far away from their motel.
"Bought it yesterday." Sam looks up. He's surprised that Dean is bothering to speak. "The lady in the store says that girls tend to like stuff like that, so..."
"They do." Sam puts it carefully back, looking up at Dean. "It's for her, isn't it?" He manages to keep the jealousy away from his voice, though his mouth tastes sour and his stomach feels heavy.
"Yeah. I mean, it's stupid, she probably won't like it, either." Dean shrugs, as if it's not a big deal. But Sam knows that it is. Because Dean never gives his girls any presents. Other than Cassie, Dean has never cared for any girl enough to actually consider giving her anything.
"I'm sure she'll like it." Sam knows his voice is a little too soft and knows that Dean probably noticed that something is wrong, but he hands over the first aid kit and he looks normal.
Dean watches him like a hawk, doesn't stop watching until finally he gives up and pulls out the blue bottle filled with painkillers. Sam pretends to be busy with his computer while Dean swallows down his pill with a can of soda.
Dean doesn't say anything until later that night, after Sam has turned off the lights and both of them are in their beds, lying still.
"OK, I think I've been patient enough. What's the deal, Sam?"
Sam snorts. Trust Dean to ask him the heavy questions in the cover of darkness.
"Nothing's wrong, Dean. Go back to sleep."
"If you think I'm about to tell you what I'm thinking just because you've called my bluff, Dean, then that guy must've hit you harder than you think." Sam makes sure that his voice is in a monotone.
He wants to turn around so his back is to Dean but realizes that will only worsen matters. He's not going to tell Dean but he doesn't want to send Dean over the edge either. With the bruises on his back, he knows he's up for a rough night and by provoking Dean even more, he knows that pretty soon he'll have to fight Dean off physically.
Sometimes keeping his secret is only a matter of pissing Dean off just enough.
Sam forgets how well Dean can read him at times. It isn't until they're four states over that Dean decides that enough is enough and he stops the car in the middle of nowhere. There are empty fields all around them, there aren't any buildings for Sam to run and duck into or even a freaking tree that he can just climb, so he can get away from Dean.
Dean pulls down to a stop and simply stares ahead. He's unusually quiet. The silence stretches on and Sam is almost afraid that Dean will just shove him out of the car and get his ass back to Stanford, announcing that Dean can handle shit alone from now on.
"You've been acting strange since we met up with Lee." Dean finally says. "You've been acting stranger since North Carolina." Dean turns to look at Sam dead in the eye. "And you've been absolutely impossible since Texas and I've had it with this shit, Sam. Either you tell me what the hell is going on or we'll be staying here for a while."
Sam's reply is to open the door and step out of the car. He walks away, slowly, hears the sound of the car door opening and slamming closed. He doesn't hear footsteps yet, so Dean is just waiting for him to speak. Sam wants to make up some sort of excuse for his strange behaviors, but he hadn't realized that he has been acting strange. He's out of excuses and he's left with the truth.
What the hell does he tell Dean when the truth will only push him away?
He lies down on the grass, stretches his body out, and looks up at the sky. He waits. Dean takes his time walking over to where Sam is laying.
When Dean finally walks into his line of vision, Sam stares up at his face—curious and half-amused—then he closes his eyes and inhales. When he releases the breath, the truth goes with it.
"I think I'm in love with you." It's all in bold and Sam makes sure that Dean understands exactly what Sam means, even if does mean that he sounds like a girl doing it. In his mind he can see Dean recoiling when he hears the words. Part of it is probably utter horror and part of it is because of the Hallmark moment that the words imply, though Sam's pretty sure that the Hallmark channel would never include incest into any one of their movies.
It's at this moment that he is reminded of that old asylum. Only this time, Sam's the one on the ground, though he hasn't been shot full of rock salt, Dean's the one who forced him into this position all the same. And Sam's not handing a gun over to Dean. He’s handing over his heart. Another difference is: the gun Dean had handed him was empty, but Sam's heart is full and all Dean has to do to destroy Sam completely is to let it slip from his hand and shatter.
Sam forces his eyes open so that he can see the change on Dean's face. His brother's face is a myriad of emotions. He sees shock and pain among many others, most of them he can't decipher. He closes his eyes, feels a sharp pain in his chest when Dean walks away.
The sound of Dean closing the car door feels too final for Sam but he just can't bring himself to open his eyes and see. The sound of the Impala's engine drowns out every other sound and Sam just hides in his grief when Dean finally drives away.
When Sam opens his eyes, he's surprised to see the night sky. His breath catches when he realizes that he's covered with one of the old blankets that he and Dean store in the car. He's sore from sleeping on the ground for too long and the cold has seeped into his bones, long before Dean covered him with the blanket. He forces himself to sit up and then looks over at Dean who is sitting not too far away. Sam catches a glimpse of their tent, all set up, nearby. When he looks back at Dean, his brother is staring back at him.
"Couldn't move your heavy ass, so I took out all our camping gear.'Least this means we won't have to pay for a motel room."
Dean's gaze shifted back up to the heavens. Sam's is still fixed on Dean.
"I meant what I said before."
"You're still my brother, Sam. Messed up or not, you're blood." Dean shakes his head. "Not gonna say that I understand whatever it is that you're going through, little brother, but I'm not about to abandon you."
Not the way I abandoned you and Dad, Sam thinks, feeling a little bitter. Then he looks at the way Dean is staring at the sky, eyes tracing invisible patterns, mouthing each constellation's name, the corners of his lips slightly curled, and he realizes there is no hidden message there. Dean means what he says. He won't leave.
"Don't thank me yet, Sammy. You're sleeping out here. I'm sleeping in the car. I'm sure you won't be saying thanks to me in the morning, when you're frozen solid." And it sounds so Dean that Sam has to laugh.
Sam's revelation changes things, but judging from the way Dean is grinning at him, he knows that some things never will.
Nothing much has changed ever since Sam let the truth be known. The changes are subtle. Sam makes sure to look away whenever Dean is about to get dressed and Dean doesn't walk around the motel room naked anymore, but they still act the same way.
It's easier, now that Dean knows. Surprisingly, his brother is taking things in stride. He doesn't squirm whenever Sam's gaze lingers on him. He'd raise his eyebrow, but he doesn't tell Sam to stop. That doesn't mean that he encourages it, either. He might walk out of the room when Sam stares at him for too long, or he might even distract Sam by sending him off to do research. Though sometimes, just to throw Sam off, he'll put on his best smile, the one that never fails to make girls melt, or make comments about how he knows that he's so damn good looking that Sam can't look away. They never fail to make Sam flush and look away, which always sends Dean into a good mood for hours.
It goes on for about 5 months before Dean finally asks.
Sam looks up from the text on the town's local history to send his brother a question glance.
"Why is this fox demon here? I have no idea." He looks at the text once more. "There were several Japanese men who settled here with their families, but I'm not sure how the demon could have been displaced."
"I meant why me." Dean explains, setting down his own text. "I mean, I know we don't stick around long enough for you to grow attached to anyone, but why the hell did you settle for your own brother?"
Sam can't help but wince at the words. He stares at the text some more, thinking about what he can say. Finally, he shakes his head and smiles warily at Dean.
"I don't know, man. It's not like I planned this, you know?" Sam rakes his fingers through his hair, silently noting that his bangs are much too long now. "I didn't even realize it. It's just...one day it just clicked. You know?"
Dean laughs, quietly and knowingly. "Yeah, I do." And Sam knows that it's Cassie and it's Lee. He knows from the start that there is no way that Dean will ever reciprocate this feeling. Now he's blindingly jealous and he knows he doesn't have the right to be.
"We done?" Dean asks. He looks eager to leave the library. Sam glances at his watch and decides that it's probably time for a break anyhow. He also has enough information about the troll, now he needs to research ways to destroy it.
"Sure. I'll look up the rest of it online."
"Cool. I'll meet you outside."
When Dean leaves, Sam takes his time to collect himself. He's not going out of his mind because Dean has finally asked. He's going crazy because these feelings just can't seem to go away. He can't believe that Dean's not the one going crazy or maybe paranoid. Sam wonders how Dean can sleep at night, knowing that Sam has feelings for him and can probably jump him in his sleep.
Though maybe Dean knows that Sam's been going nuts trying to control himself.
Sam wonders how is it that loving Jess never felt this painful. Then he realizes that the feelings were mutual between them. Dean is a different case. He hates how his chest hurts just seeing Dean with girls, or when he thinks of the women that Dean loves.
Thinking of Cassie is like having a needle stuck into his chest, but her kind of pain fades, because Sam knows that Dean knows that there's no future there. Cassie herself has said that she won't wait for Dean. But Lee is something different. Lee is a kick in the gut that has Sam bent over and wheezing because he's not sure what she is to Dean.
It's fifteen minutes later when Sam finally steps out of the library. When he looks towards the parking lot he sees Dean leaning against the car, watching the quiet street. He hasn't been watching for long, but it's as if Dean can sense him. His brother turns around and Sam snaps out of his stupor long enough to walk over.
"Ready?" Dean asks over the hood, looking too damn calm.
When it finally happens, it's nothing like the movies. It's out of the fucking blue. There are no roses, no background music and definitely no hearts popping up anywhere. Of course, Sam isn't expecting anything grand. Actually, Sam hasn't been expecting anything from Dean. And he's definitely not expecting Dean to feel the same way.
So if Dean were to tell him that he feels the same way, actually say the dreaded three words, Sam's going to think that his brother's lost it. Or maybe he's possessed. And if he is possessed? That's going to suck. Badly.
It's a Wednesday night and they're in God-knows-where, in some motel with a leaky roof and crappy television. Sam is half-watching the television, idly flipping through the six watchable channels, all the other channels are either too blurry or have no sound. Dean is checking for new cases online instead of leafing through the newspaper.
Sam finally settles on some crappy sci-fi movie on the third channel. It's a low budget flick and the flying saucer looks like an actual saucer on wires. He's been doing a running commentary on the movie in his head, when he suddenly feels the urge to turn and look at Dean.
He doesn't know why, but he does it anyway. Dean is no longer staring at the laptop screen. Instead, he's watching Sam. For a moment, Sam wants to ask him what's wrong. Then he sees the look in Dean's eyes and he has to blink and stare.
Dean stares back at him with the same look and Sam thinks that someone's hijacking his brain because he just freezes. He can handle poltergeists, incubi and even a werewolf. But when Dean is staring at him like that...
"C'mere." Maybe Dean senses that Sam's brain is refusing to cooperate, but he extends his hand and motions for Sam to come over. Sam's now on autopilot and he's silent as he makes his way to his brother. When he grasps Dean's hand, it's like he's been underwater and he's finally coming up for air. He's gasping and clutching onto Dean's hand like it's a damn lifeline.
Dean's gaze is still steady and he's not offering any words. It's take it or leave it. But Sam can read him. Sam can read him clearly because for once Dean isn't hiding behind a brick wall.
Sam collapses on him, grasping Dean's shoulder as he drops down. Dean hisses in pain, curses under his breath about how Sam's really a gorilla that drops out of fucking trees on innocent bystanders and all that. Sam doesn't hear him, he doesn't care.
"You better mean it, Dean." Sam says instead, his fingers are digging into Dean's shoulder and Dean is hissing again. "And you can't fucking take it back, man. You can never take it back." Dean shoves him back, though he makes sure that Sam doesn't fall off his lap when he does it, and looks at Sam's face.
"When have I ever done something halfway, Sam?" He's dead serious. "Of course I mean it, psychic boy. Take it or leave it."
Sam answers by grabbing Dean's face and shoving his tongue down Dean's throat.
It's definitely not romance. They don't pull their punches and they come too fast and Sam feels disgusting afterwards and it's actually pretty damn painful. The next morning Sam is sore in places he never imagined. Dean's arm is heavy on his chest and he's breathing loudly in Sam's ear and the room is almost unbearably hot. Sam curses the AC for breaking down and at Dean for being unaffected by the searing temperature.
He pushes Dean off him and the bastard doesn't even wake up. He just rolls on over and begins to drool all over his pillow. Sam rolls his eyes and walks slowly to the shower, hissing all the way.
Dean is still asleep when he walks out of the bathroom, so he decides to go and get breakfast. He's starving and he really doesn't want to wait for Dean to get ready. Half an hour later, he reaches the motel.
Dean is awake and dressed and packed. Sam panics when he sees all of Dean's stuff packed up and ready to go. And then Dean looks up from the morning paper and flashes him a grin.
"Got a case for us." He motions at Sam's laptop, parked in front of him. Seeing the cup of coffee in Sam's hand and the brown paper bag, he perks up even more. "You got food?"
"It's way too early for a burger, but I got you one anyway. And coffee, black." Sam says, breathing easier, handing them to Dean.
"Did you eat?" Dean asks as he takes a sip of his coffee. When Sam nods, he gestures at Sam's things. "Get packed, Sam. It's gonna be a long drive."
"What's the case?" Sam asks, as he packs his things. Dean coughs and swallows the huge bite of burger that he has in his mouth.
"Kids are going missing in this small town in Wisconsin. They've been going into the forest and just disappearing. Local police say that there's some kidnapping ring going on. Folks say it's got something to do with an old legend about some old woman who used to live in the woods."
"So, what do you think? Little red riding hood or Hansel and Gretel?"
"Neither, I hope. Let's just hope that whatever or whoever it is, they're just capturing these kids, not eating them." Dean mutters.
"Let's head on over, then."
Dean is cursing up a storm, shaking the flashlight. Sam, for his part, is too far gone to even notice his surroundings. He's leaning heavily against Dean—probably bleeding all over Dean's shirt, what with that metal rod poking out of him—that he's wondering how his brother is staying upright.
Turns out, it's the little red riding hood story, not Hansel and Gretel. The legend about the old woman was bogus, though the two werewolves that greeted the Winchester boys were all too happy to greet them. Dean has bruises on his body from where one of the werewolves slammed him against the trunk of a tree and growled in his face before Sam shot him full of silver.
The other werewolf didn't like that very much and proceeded to throw Sam at the cabin. He came to minutes later, after Dean wasted the other werewolf and desperately tried to saw off the damn rod without hurting Sam too much. And with God knows what. Sam's pretty sure that they don't have a saw in the Impala.
"We're almost there, Sam." Dean hauls him up when he starts to slide down. "Not far now." Dean's not lying. Sure enough, the Impala comes to view and Sam is glad to see it. His feet feel like lead and he really wants to sleep.
When they finally reach the car, Dean shoves Sam in and slams the door, making sure that Sam won't aggravate his injury and that Sam's arms and legs are inside the car before he does. When Dean slides into the driver's seat, he takes one look at Sam and curses again. Sam's leaning against the window, trying desperately not to lean forward and push the rod further in.
"Damn it, Sam. Of all the time to get hurt..." He's about to go on but Sam just looks at him and gives him his best bitchface, despite his injury. It's not very successful, because he looks like he's pouting instead, but Dean visibly softens.
Dean grabs at him and Sam feels his world spins out of focus and then everything seems to turn sideways. He blinks for a moment or two and then realizes that his head is resting on Dean's thigh. He blinks again and his gaze focuses on the gearshift in front of him.
He wants to say something but then Dean's fingers run through his hair. It's such a rare show of affection that Sam—drugged up and injured—whimpers.
"I'll get you to a hospital."
Sam shakes his head and manages to blurt out the word "motel." Dean looks down at him as if he's absolutely crazy.
"This is not up for debate, you idiot. You've been pierced with a damn metal rod, Sam. You're losing blood and I'm getting you to a motherfucking hospital before you bleed to death."
Sam clutches at Dean's thigh and squeezes his eyes shut. Instantly, Dean realizes what he means.
"I know, man. I don't like this either, but you need a hospital, Sam. I'm not about to become the last living Winchester on this planet, you hear?" Sam really wants to protest, but he's awfully tired. Dean squeezes his shoulder once and Sam finally gets it.
Dean doesn't want to go there either, not to a place where they'll be reminded of Dad. But Dean can be a lot more stubborn than Sam can and he's got an unfair advantage of being only lightly injured and entirely lucid.
"Fine." It sounds more like a whisper, but Dean apparently hears it. Sam sees him nod and presses down harder on the gas. Sam realizes that the car has been moving all this time. He gains clarity for a moment, realizing the severity of his injury. He feels cold all of a sudden, hoping that he'll make it through this because he knows that there's no way that he can leave Dean alone. Not now.
The last thing he remembers is Dean setting his head down on the seat and then he's hauled out of the car, into a really bright room. After that, it's all white.
Sam wakes up in a hospital bed. He's on an IV drip and he feels the pull of stitches and pain is slowly but surely filtering in. He looks to his right and has to smile when he sees Dean asleep on what looks like a very uncomfortable looking chair. He thinks that Dean's going to have a crick in his neck for days.
Dean wakes up ten minutes later with a shudder. His eyes blink open, slightly unfocused and then his gaze swivels over to Sam. He looks exhausted but relieved when he sees that Sam is staring back at him.
Dean gets up, groaning a little when his bones creak and he stretches for a second. Then he goes and gets a glass of water for Sam.
"Thought you'd never wake up, Sammy."
"How long was I out?"
"Four days." Dean looks like he's about to go back to sleep. "The blood loss knocked you out good. Doc bitched about that having to cut that rod and trying to stop you from bleeding out. He said you'd be OK after the operation, but you kept on sleeping."
Sam remembers the utter panic on Dean's face when he saw Sam laying there, a piece of metal sticking in him. He knows that Dean must have been sick with worry, sitting by Sam's bedside, waiting for Sam to wake up.
"Sorry." Dean frowns, not sure why Sam's apologizing, so Sam goes on, "For making you worry."
"Huh. Figured that this is a turnabout, y'know?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, for all the time that I made you worry." Sam suddenly has a flash of his brother on a white hospital bed, machines breathing every breath for him and the shrill sound of the life support machine when Dean flatlined; things he never wants to see or hear again.
He suddenly reaches out for Dean. His brother stares at the outstretched hand with raised eyebrows and his "you gotta be kiddin' me, Sam" look. Sam makes sure that he has his best stubborn face on and even wriggles his fingers for emphasis.
"I'm going to blame this all later on the medicine," is all he offers. Dean is still staring at his hand, warily this time. Sam guesses that seeing Sam unconscious on a hospital bed for two days must have really scared Dean, because his brother sighs and takes Sam's hand.
"Yeah, well, I'm gonna blame this on the fact that you're a girl and you've got a hole in your stomach." He warns, though he's squeezing Sam's hand in a reassuring manner.
It's so damn weird, to be holding hands with Dean like this, but Sam's not going to think about it too much. This is an incredibly rare event and he's not about to ruin it by mulling over how this is not them. He figures that he can indulge himself in something completely out of character once in a while, if Dean's willing to do it too.
This new arrangement becomes normal rather quickly. They spend their days driving when they have a case, idly checking out the town they're staying in, or when there's a serious lack of cases, they point at a place in their map and they head there. Their life is still one diner after another, fast food joints and gas stations, with the occasional bars when they're low on cash and Dean needs to hustle.
Sam still gets pissed that Dean still feels that hustling is the way to make money. Dean still flirts with random girls whenever they stop anywhere. Dean still carries the weight of Dad's death with him. He still feels that he should be the one whose ashes they've scattered.
Their nights are different from their days. They usually ask for a queen in whatever motel they go to. This request is met with different results, which ranges from the manager giving them a suspicious look, to being told that there's no vacancy in the motel after all, to a high-pitched shriek from an excitable blonde.
Whenever they're in some backwater town, they make do with their two double beds, usually just squeezing into one bed. Most of the time Sam falls off the bed some time during the night—sometimes Dean kicks in his sleep and sometimes he pushes Sam off the bed when Sam's "attached himself to Dean like a barnacle"—and they'll both be sore and cranky in the morning.
Others things have changed as well. Whenever Dean is flirting with some girl, all Sam has to do is walk out of the diner/gas station/motel/library that they're in and Dean will follow him out. Sam reminds Dean just who he belongs to by marking him so most times Dean is sporting a purple hickey on his neck or his collar bone or when Sam's feeling nice, behind his ear. Although Sam notices that Dean is grinning whenever Sam hisses and slams him to the car or the wall of their motel room and growls "mine" against Dean's lips.
While Dean still carries Dad's death like a banner, like it's part of him, Sam is also there to remind him—either by squeezing Dean's shoulder or throwing a punch, when the need calls for it—that Sam wants Dean there. Sam needs Dean there. So whenever Dean starts thinking that he should be the one dead, Sam shows him that being alive is a million times more pleasurable than that.
Maybe it's because they got used to this brand of normalcy rather quickly that when Sam spots her in the diner that they've just walked into, it feels like a punch in the gut. And suddenly the fear from months ago slams back. It doubles when Dean spots her and then walks over.
Sam wants to grab Dean's shoulder and haul him back, but that will only make Dean pissed and get them kicked out of the only good diner in town. He watches as his brother sits down and steals her coffee. Sam forces himself to look away, sitting down on one of the stools by the counter and ordering himself a cup of coffee.
He pours milk and adds sugar as if on autopilot. The coffee is lukewarm and disgusting, normally Sam would make a face and stop drinking after his first sip, but the waitress—"Rut," the "h" on her name tag has been chipped off for some reason—has a kind, knowing smile on her face, so he downs the whole cup.
She looks about fifty and Sam guesses that either Sam's being too damn obvious that he's pissed at Dean or she's too darn perceptive. Judging from how old her uniform looks and knowing how he can be, he's guessing that it's a little bit of both. But then he grimaces when he hears Dean's laughter yet again and realizes that he's about to break the coffee cup.
"Passin' through?" She asks.
"Yeah, we're heading north."
"He your boyfriend?" She tilts her head towards where Dean is sitting.
"Really?" She's got her eyebrows raised while she pours Sam another cup of the black sludge. "Now, I may be old, son, but I'm not blind. You're poutin' like my youngest grandson whenever his momma's too busy to pay him any attention."
It's because of this that Sam finally looks over towards Dean. Big mistake, it turns out, because Lee’s looking right at him. Sam can't help the look on his face, which, judging from the way she's reacting, is probably sending icicles down her back. He looks away quickly, slightly ashamed of his reaction.
He's acting like a jealous girlfriend. Suddenly, he's pissed off at Dean for making him feel jealous and for making him act like a damn girl. He wants to get out of the diner, away from Ruth the waitress and Dean's...hell, Sam doesn't even know what she is to Dean. He's afraid to walk out, though.
He's afraid because for once, he doesn't know if Dean will follow him out. He doesn't know if Dean even wants to walk away from her. For once, it's Sam who's afraid to be left behind.
Sam stiffens when Dean takes a seat next to him. He wanted to keep quiet, refusing to look at Dean. But he can't help the bitter words that spill out of his mouth anyway.
"Shouldn't you be sitting with your girlfriend?"
"Jesus, Sam," Sam turns to look at him, steadily. "Look, man, she's just-"
And Sam is suddenly furious. If Dean thinks that he can lie to Sam... Dean is struggling with his words, and Sam can see that he hates the fact that he has to voice whatever he's feeling and hating the fact that it's almost impossible to.
"She's different, alright? And you're different too. You're Sam." It feels just like that first time in the motel room, when he finally sees. This time around, he doesn't need Dean to voice the words. He can hear them, clearly.
You always come first.
This time, Sam doesn't doubt it.
Dean is driving in utter silence. Sam’s fingers itch to touch the radio dial, just to kill the silence. He doesn’t know what Dean is thinking and desperately wants to. He closes his eyes and thinks that maybe if he wishes hard enough, his powers will include telepathy too.
Dean hasn’t said a word since last night. Even though Sam knows that Dean didn’t push him away when Sam curled against him in bed. Sam just wants Dean to speak. Break down maybe.
The last words Dean spoke is still ringing in his ears. Dean loved her. She might be gone, but her ghost will always be there because Dean loved her.
His eyes are still closed when something else pushes slowly into his mind. It’s something old and almost forgotten, but it still aches when it’s laid out bare in front of him.
You loved Jess.
And yes, he did, he still does, though the feeling is nowhere near as intense as before. Though that might be why the memories begin to pour out.
Jess singing along to a copy of Zeppelin that Dean has snuck into his duffle bag, the one he never had the heart to throw out. Jess crawling into bed, smelling of white musk and peppermint toothpaste, feet cold against his thigh. Jess, dropping a pan of burnt potatoes into the sink, screaming, “Shitty shit shit!” and looking absolutely gorgeous even though she’s cursing up a storm and the whole apartment smells like smoke. Jess, sweaty and panting and moaning, muttering “I love you” while he makes love to her on their living room floor.
It’s like drowning and it fucking hurts and he can’t breathe and...
Hands. On his face. Callaused and male and definitely not Jess and too real to be a memory. Only it is a memory, because Dean is still driving and Sam is still sitting beside him. He closes his eyes, sweeps the memories into his hands. He opens a box, somewhere in his mind, drops them all in. He touches them one last time and then closes the box, but doesn’t lock it.
He thinks of “Lee”, cold and alone, naked for strangers to see. He thinks of Jess, pinned to the ceiling and engulfed in flames.
He thinks of Dean, hurting the way Sam was hurting when Sam thought he found “happily ever after.” He thinks of both of them, together and of the library that they’ll be heading to and the people they’ll be interviewing.
He leans over, places the palm of his hand over Dean’s heart. It’s awkward and Dean jolts a little, but after that quiet moment, Dean takes one hand off the steering wheel and places his hand over Sam’s.
Note: This story is written with a lot of Damien Rice and a brand spankin’ new playlist and a lot of handholding by my muse in evil fangirl form, you know who you are. Plus there’s my beta, kasugai_gummie who is made of all things awesome. Yes, she is.
And this conversation, which took place during the writing process, is just too funny not to share:
S: dude, you’ve got him, like, speared!
Wai: He’s gotta be half dead or something... Make dean worry etc.
S: ok. You stuck a rod in Sam. And it wasn’t Dean’s. You know how much that sucks?
And re: Sam’s injury, yes I know how utterly stupid it is. But bleeding to death over a couple of gashes on his forehead isn’t exactly dramatic, now, is it? While writing the whole scene I was thinking something along the lines of: “With this type of injury, Sam should be dead or something. But hey! If a person can still live after trying to blow their brains out, why shouldn’t Sam? And the rod could definitely miss all vital organs. I’ve seen it on TV!”
That’s when I realized that I’ve been watching way too many CSI episodes.
Feedback is greatly appreciated. This is kind of my baby, all 8593 words of it, so I’ll love you forever if you can just drop a comment. Thanks!