annabethbigbang: (SamnDean: I don't understand you.)
[personal profile] annabethbigbang


Sleep doesn't help. Sam wakes up exhausted, with his rib throbbing in pain and his mind unsettled. He'd almost gotten used to the yellow-eyed man invading his consciousness, flaunting the murders of people Sam doesn't know and will probably never meet—and even though Sam feels guilty about each one, as if he were somehow responsible, this new thing is actually worse. He remembers catching Dean jerking off, and how appalled he had been, how disturbed.

Sam knows that was a normal reaction: this is his brother, so of course he shouldn't find the idea of Dean whacking off, or Dean's cock for that matter, arousing. But now everything's getting worse; he's moved his gun with nothing but the power of his mind and he's apparently gotten psychic enough to divine things that no-one should be able to know, like where Isabella was buried.

But even that is not what makes him lie in bed this morning, soundless and unmoving, trying to feign sleep so that he has time to think before Dean realises he's awake. No, it's the fact that the visions have suddenly turned to something frighteningly personal, have shifted and morphed into this thing where he does stuff like kiss Dean.

Sam tries to assign identities to the water stains on the ceiling—that one's a duck, and the one over there looks like... he sighs heavily in spite of himself, because once he recalled the sight of Dean's dick, it's like he can't stop thinking about it. Like that shape on the ceiling, which could be a perfect replica of the one dick in this world that Sam is absolutely not supposed to want.

He knows that once, he knew what it meant to be normal, to feel safe and sane and not out-of-control like he does now. Now, he sees Dean in a totally different way, and it's impossible to ignore. He can't pretend that he doesn't notice every time Dean licks his lips, or when Dean's eyebrows draw together when he's thinking hard.

He can't escape the way he hangs on every sound from Dean's showers now, like if Dean greases the one-eyed snake Sam will somehow to be able to tell. And, God, he probably could—these psychic abilities aren't just foreign and unwanted, but far-flung. He doesn't really want to test out whether they will encompass sharp, clear images of Dean's dick as it slides in and out of his fist.

Fuck. Sam can't dismiss the thoughts, can't bury them. This isn't normal, Sam knows that, and it hurts, this desire that feels like it's boiling in his blood. It fucking hurts. How can he do this to Dean? What would Dean do, if he caught Sam out?

"Sam," Dean breathes into the cool dawn air. "I know you're awake. Are you—" Dean pauses as if he's weighing his next words carefully. "Is your rib paining you?"

It's not that strange for Dean to ask after Sam's welfare, but he usually does it in a more roundabout way.

"It's fine," Sam lies. As if to punish him for the lie to his brother, his body squeezes in pain again. Man, he wishes this thing would just heal already—he wants to be back to full-strength. He wants to be able to pull his own weight and not basically weigh Dean down.

"You suck at lying," Dean declares. "I mean, sometimes you're passably good at it, like when we're hunting, but times like this? How fuckin' blind do you think I am, Sammy?"

The bedspread on Sam's bed is the same colour as the carpet, with ugly paisley patterns in pink and flowery whorls in yellow. There's about a million threads pulling free from it and it's not particularly warm, for a freezing Michigan winter. Sam starts to trace some of the paisley with his fingers, stalling. He doesn't want to talk to Dean right now, and he really doesn't want to look at Dean, because if he does that, he doesn't really know what will happen.

In fact, when he shifts his eyes away from the ugly blanket, he realises that right at his crotch area is a slight lump from where his cock is just stiff enough to push out the fabric.

Oh, for fuck's sake. He could try to blame it on morning-wood, but he has a feeling there's a much more insidious reason for it.

"Jesus, Sam, you're like a constant space cadet lately. I talk to you, and you don't even seem to hear me. Goddammit. Sam."

"My rib hurts, okay?" Sam rolls onto his side away from Dean so that his brother won't see the evidence of his arousal. Not like they haven't woken up in the same room a thousand times; not like he hasn't seen the bulge from Dean's morning-wood in his boxer-briefs when he got up to piss. But somehow... he just can't stand the thought of Dean seeing.

"Do you want me to get you some aspirin? Or do you need something stronger?" Dean sounds worried, which makes Sam feel guilty.

"Nah," he says flippantly. "It's not that bad, just a little leftover ache."

"You know we gotta stay here for another couple days," Dean remarks. "Just to make sure." What he's not saying is that he also wants to give Sam a few more days to moulder in bed—okay, to heal—before he dumps them both back in the Impala for what could be thousands of miles. Sam really isn't sure his rib could handle being forced into the car for hours.

"Yeah, well maybe I could try to find us another hunt while we hang around," Sam offers. Maybe if he does that, he won't feel so much like he's just blobbing around doing nothing useful.

Dean's quiet for a long time, and Sam feels a tingle on the back of his neck, like Dean is staring at him. No, more than that. It's not quite like he's staring... it's more like he's studying. Like Dean is just as interested in what Sam looks like as Sam has been finding himself intrigued with Dean's looks lately. It's disconcerting.

But then, Dean is probably trying to bore a hole into Sam's skull so that he can see what Sam is thinking, or, barring that, maybe he's trying to work out what's going on with Sam so that he can stop it.

God, Sam wishes Dean could stop it. He wishes he could stop it—that someone, anyone could just make it go away.

"We should call Bobby," Dean says abruptly. Sam rolls over to face Dean in spite of himself, surprised by the suggestion; he has only the vaguest memories of Bobby, because it's been years since he did this job.

"What for?" he asks, and then wants to smack himself in the forehead for such a stupid question. Dean does his favourite, trademark eyebrow arch. Sam never really paid that much attention before, but he finds now that he hates it, because it draws attention to the similarly fine arch of Dean's cheekbones, and the delicate bones of his face. Dean's too pretty, and Sam hates it. Has always hated it, actually, but before it was from the perfectly reasonable standpoint of jealousy because Dean always got anything he wanted based pretty much on his looks alone, but now... now Sam hates those too-pretty, fine-boned features because they make him feel a little funny in the pit of his stomach. Hell, even the slight bump on Dean's nose that quirks it crooked is more attractive than it has any right to be.

And Sam realises that he's been staring at Dean, with his mouth slightly open and possibly even drooling a little, and Dean's giving him a weird look.

"Because maybe Bobby can help with your whole..." Dean pulls his arm out from under his equally ugly blanket—which doesn't even match Sam's—to flail it about as if that means something. "Your thing," he finishes lamely.

"You think Bobby would tell us even if he knew something? I mean, we've established that Dad won't," Sam points out. He sighs and flops onto his back, bending his knees and putting his feet flat on the bed to hide the slight erection that won't subside.

Dean mumbles something incoherent, and that's when Dean's cell phone chirps merrily, causing his brother to flail for a second time as he tries to reach it before the vibrations send it tumbling off the edge of the nightstand.

Dean's bedspread—purple with huge orange flowers splashed all over it—slips to the floor when Dean manages to grab the phone just in time and yank it up to his ear.

"'Lo?" he says, managing to sound half-awake, voice crusty, even though a moment ago his voice sounded honey-smooth to Sam.

Sam goes back to assigning animals to each stain on the ceiling, barely hearing Dean—he's used to tuning Dean out because a lot of his cell phone calls are from his one-night stands—when Dean says,

"Well, Jesus, Dad."

Sam feels every muscle in his body go tight and still. With their father in prison, it's kind of the last thing Sam expected, for John to call them. Well, maybe he should've thought John might call Dean—after all, he's a non-entity to his father now.

Dean catches Sam's eye and then, very deliberately, pushes the speaker button on his phone. Instantly, John's voice fills the air spread thick between them.

"Listen, Dean, is Sam with you?"

Dean cuts a quick glance at Sam, but Sam doesn't need the warning to know he needs to be a silent as possible, so that John doesn't realise he's on speakerphone.

"Yeah, how did you know?" Dean asks, dissembling perfectly. He sounds totally innocent, like he has no idea why John might be calling, though Sam is certain they both suspect the reason why John would contact them.

"I heard about... things," John says. "It's a terrible thing, but I just don't understand, Dean. Why didn't you warn your brother?"

"Maybe," Dean says slyly, "if you had told me just what I was supposed to be warning him about, it would've worked better."

John huffs angrily, and Sam can tell that he's frustrated that Dean isn't just saying, yes, sir, like a good little soldier would. Sam is perversely proud of Dean; he wonders when his brother stopped just saying, how high? every time John said 'jump'.

"You should have told him, Dean."

"Told him what, exactly? I don't know much more than he does, Dad. You know, maybe some time you should try keeping things a little less close to your chest. It might help."

"I didn't call to argue, Dean, and I don't have much time. Besides, they monitor every call and they are everywhere, Dean. So be careful."

Sam can see Dean's sullen frown at this.

"Who are they?" Dean asks impatiently, and Sam wants to ask the same question, because both of them clearly heard the emphasis on the word that suggested someone—or some thing—other than the guards.

"Dean," John says stiffly, sounding hurt and strained. "I can't get into details with you. Just know that you need to be very, very watchful from now on, and keep an extremely close eye on your brother."

"Jesus, Dad," Dean says again, "why is it every time you call, you tell me to protect Sam? What, do you think if you didn't say it, I wouldn't?" Dean seems offended now, but Sam can't tell if it's genuine.

"I heard about Sam," John says, continuing on like Dean hasn't posed a difficult question John had no intention of answering. "You should've taken him to the hospital."

"And said what?" Dean growls under his breath, jaw clicking and a muscle flexing in his cheek.

"Just be careful. Every precaution, Dean; don't forget. And if I can, I will call again soon. Do not let them get their hands on Sam, Dean." The static that announces a connected call breaks off into silence as John hangs up. Dean drops the phone and makes a moue of disgust.

"He's so helpful," Dean mutters angrily. Sam is actually still a little surprised that Dean is this upset with their father. The Dean he remembers would never argue, never express displeasure with John, even if he felt it; he would've always bottled it up so that no-one else would see.

"When did you start standing up to Dad?" Sam asks curiously, almost managing to forget all of his discomfiting thoughts from earlier. Well, except the ones that make his eyes keep slipping back down to the rosy hue of Dean's lips.

"'Bout when you left," Dean says uneasily. "I know you think I just sided with Dad, Sam, but—"





"I don't need you to explain that to me," Sam interjects.

"Yeah, well, he didn't handle that right, Sam. And I think he regretted it, but you know Dad. Anyway, after that, it was... difficult to just do what he said without at least asking why, you know? Because it was Dad's fault that you left."

"It wasn't his fault I left, Dean. I just wanted to get an education. I just wanted to make something of my life that didn't include hunting forever, wasting all of the talent I had. The things I was good at."

"You are good at hunting, Sam," Dean protests.

"I'm sorry, Dean," Sam says. "I know I should've... I don't know. But I just couldn't mix the two things. If I let that happen—if I let you into my life with Jess—I ran the risk of that life finding Jess. Fuck." Sam swings one knee back and forth, trying to ease some of the tension and anxiety now coursing through him. God, he thinks, the decor is so hideous.

"I would've helped you," Dean says. Sam can't stop a tiny snort.

"You still would've done whatever Dad wanted."

"Jesus, Sam, why didn't you at least listen to me when I told you to be careful?"

"Look, just... leave that alone. I went to college because it was safe, Dean. Because I just didn't want to live this life forever."

"But you had me," Dean says, voice taut like a thread snagged on something. He sounds like there's still something he's not saying, but Sam can't really interpret what it is.

"It's not... it wasn't like that, Dean. I didn't leave you because I hated you or anything. I just had to get out." Sam waves his hand and then lets it flop back down against the scratchy, ugly blanket. "And besides, what Jess did, I couldn't've stopped that. Couldn't've helped it."

"You tryin' to convince me or yourself, Sam?" Dean asks. "Like it or not, you're stuck with me now. We gotta hunt because it's important, and we will find out what's up with your freaky head, Sammy. One thing at a time."

Sam sits up carefully, tape straining across his ribcage. "I'm hungry, and I stink, Dean. Can I have a shower, like a real shower, yet?"

Dean sits up too. "Let me check you over, little brother, and I'll let you know. But after breakfast, we're gonna give Bobby a yell. Ask him if he knows what's up—maybe he'll know who they are, that Dad was singularly unhelpful about."

Sam obligingly lowers the paisley-printed cover. But as Dean walks over, he can't help a little burst of anticipation, as if Dean's hands on him in a way Dean has done a million times before will suddenly mean something different; feel different.

And as Dean starts to unwind the bandage, Sam remembers Dean stitching up his thigh. Recalls the way his dick got interested in Dean's proximity, and wonders: did he carry this perversion all along, even way back then?

:::

Dean calls Bobby the minute they get back to the motel room after breakfast, but he doesn't pick up, because after listening for a few minutes, Dean disconnects and throws his phone at the bed.

"Dean, I'll just check for cases. We can always try Bobby again later."

"Yeah, I don't think he's going to answer for us," Dean says. "Dad probably instructed him not to talk to us, either." Dean kicks at the carpet and it's so dirty and worn-through that if Dean scuffs it, no-one would be able to tell.

"But why would Dad do that?" Sam crosses the room and plunks himself down on the edge of his bed. It's getting tedious, not understanding anything, and no-one willing to tell them anything.

"Oh, my God," Dean says, and smacks himself on the forehead. "What a dumbass I am. I've got Dad's journal!" He crouches down in front of his duffle and starts rummaging through it. "He gave it to me just before they arrested him, because he knew how dangerous it would be if the authorities got a look at it. I can't believe I didn't even think of it until now."

Sam lifts his shirt up a little and prods the edges of his bandaged ribs, poking his finger underneath and checking to see just how tender he still is. With Dean absorbed in flipping through the journal, Sam flips his shirt up even higher and examines the splash of black and blue like paint splattered across his midsection.

"Leave it alone, Sam," Dean says, without really looking at him, though Sam gets a twinge that suggests Dean is aware of him all the same. And that Dean is trying to mask something, some feeling, but Sam doesn't know what it is. "This is all kinds of nonsense, I swear to God. I don't even know—Dad writes like Yoda."

Sam drops his shirt, which smells faintly of grease and smoke from the diner, and has a misshapen stain right at the hem that Sam suspects was blood once, before the shirt was washed. He's not wearing his overshirt, because he's sweating at the temples and under his arms and he thinks it's probably over-exertion.

"As soon as this heals," Sam says to Dean, even though his brother is still poring over the scrawled-upon pages, "I need to train. Spar and work up some extra muscle. Being a lawyer—" he has to clip off the sentence, because he can't even finish the thought without the plunging feel of vertigo, followed by a rising tide in of pain that fills his chest until he can't breathe.

"I'll get you back into shape," Dean says, looking up. "This is nuts. Dad... I mean, I know there's evil shit out there, Sam, but some of this is raving even to me."

"What does it say?" Sam stands up and starts pacing, though he knows it will probably make Dean give him the stink-eye for not lying down and resting, but Jesus Christ, if Sam has to spend any more time just lying in bed, he's going to start scratching messages into his forearms. So that people will understand why he went crazy and died of boredom.

"He talks about... Sam, he mentions demonic possession in here. In all my time hunting, I've never seen any evidence of a demon or demonic activity."

Sam moves to where Dean is and squats down next to him, carefully lowering himself to the floor and crossing his legs.

"Has anyone? Have you talked to other hunters?"

"Sammy, when has Dad ever made a connection with anyone else—y'know, besides Bobby? And the whole shotgun incident, well, that sort of put a kink in their relationship."

"There's gotta be other hunters, Dean. It's only logical." Sam leans back against the chair set behind him, folding his hands behind his head and trying to affect nonchalance, as if it doesn't feel like there are bees buzzing around in his ribcage. As if he's going to be stung any second with a memory that he'd much rather stow someplace where he doesn't have to think about it ever again.

"You learn that at Stanford?" Dean asks, and tosses the journal onto the floor. "This is chicken scratch. I don't know how I am supposed to make sense of any of it."

"Don't talk about Stanford like that," Sam snaps. "Like you're disdainful of it. What's the matter, Dean, are you jealous that I got to go to college and all you got to do was follow Daddy around?" As soon as the words curl off his tongue, Sam feels like he's mouth is on fire. Words that incendiary aren't going to help anything; he's sorry he said them, especially when Dean's face goes pale, the colour leached away like blood washed from a piece of white cloth.

"Dude," Dean says, blustering as if he hasn't just obviously reacted as though Sam struck him. "What the fuck is your problem?"

Sam stares at Dean, eyes wide. He... he's really not sure why such vitriol left his lips. Dean was trying to help—Dean is the only person he can really depend on in his life. Why try to alienate that? Sam suspects that if he angers Dean enough, his brother will just pack up his bags and take off in the Impala, leaving him behind.

After all, why would anyone want to spend any length of time with Sam, when he's so fucking angry and sorrowful all the time? He's more fun than a bucket of dead monkeys.

"I—" he claps his mouth shut. And then Dean nods his head, the look in his eyes melting into understanding. "I didn't mean it, Dean," Sam says finally. "It's not your fault."

"I shouldn't—I should've remembered, Sam," Dean says. "And it is my fault. I could've protected you better."

That rouses Sam's anger all over again, though this time he manages to keep most of it behind his teeth; instead he says, jaw tight,

"I'm an adult, Dean. It's not up to you to protect me forever. It really is my own fault for being a fucking idiot and ignor—" he comes to a screeching halt. He almost—he forgot that he hasn't told Dean about everything that happened in those last years. The visions that came with disturbing regularity and frequency; the yellow-eyed creature of his nightmares invading his mind even during the day, like his own brain wasn't his any more.

"Ignoring what?" Dean asks, and there's a flush of colour high on each cheekbone. He's clearly still upset, but he's leashing it well, which is strange; Sam would've expected Dean to have thrown a punch by now. The Dean he knew as a teenager would've definitely planted his fist right into Sam's mouth for any number of things by now.

"Jess, I suppose," Sam mumbles. "She must've been depressed or something, and I didn't even realise it."

"I've already told you that you can't blame yourself," Dean says. "You are going to have to let this go eventually, or it will just poison you until you can't succeed at anything. Go fire up the laptop and look for hunts, but remember, we have to let your rib heal still."

Sam feels vaguely like a child again, scolded by his older brother—the only person who ever really took the time to punish him or spend time with him, since John was always too preoccupied with hunting—and it's an uncomfortable sensation, because Sam doesn't like being made to feel like a small, helpless thing again.

He labours to his feet carefully, trying not to strain his injury, and digs his laptop out of its bag. He sets it up on the table and turns it on.

But he already knows, even before he starts searching, that Dean's going to shoot down any suggestions of a hunt. Sam wonders how long they're going to stay holed up in fucking Michigan, unmoving, stagnating.

Because Sam's still injured, and Dean isn't going to take any chances, Sam knows that. But it's still maddening.

But it's fucking cold and Sam is still acclimatised to the warm weather of California, and he hates it here.

:::


January 3, 2011

There's a quick, blink-and-you-miss-it hunt that they take care of in early January. It's so routine that the only thing to recommend it as being worth mentioning to anyone is just how much chasing they did in the cemetery, running after the spirit, running away from it, digging the grave in record time. Sam's rib is still about ninety percent, but Dean allows him to help out, giving him his faithful shotgun and then cocking his own.

Later, after they've showered and Sam has had a chance to reflect on the fact that they took care of a salt and burn in about thirty-six hours, it occurs to him that neither of them really slept in all that time, so he suggests they go to bed, even though it's only about 6 p.m.

And then Sam flops over onto his side in bed, tracking Dean in the darkness. "Hey, Dean," he says, even though they should both be exhausted from all the running around they've done. But this one thing, it won't leave him alone, like a fly buzzing around his skull and driving him out of his mind.

"Mmph," Dean says into his pillow. He moves slightly, and his words a less muffled when he says, "Dude, what is it? I'm tired and I need my beauty sleep."

Sam wants to retort, but that will just derail the conversation. "What did you do, all that time, after Dad said to tell me to be careful?"

Dean grunts. "We gotta talk about this now? Man, Sammy, you always did have the worst timing. And the girliest desires to talk through everything."

"No, seriously, Dean. You didn't come get me, but you could have."

"Is this you thinking I coulda stopped what happened? I wish I could've, Sammy, but Dad didn't really tell me jack shit about what was really going on."

Sam crushes the blanket between his fingers, frustrated and feeling kind of like a balloon about to burst. "No, I don't mean that. I just... I can't get it out of my head."

Dean sighs heavily. "Well, first I did everything I could think of to try and get Dad out of jail. I tried legal avenues, I tried to break him out-thankfully that was a failure no-one noticed. I drove by your house every so often on my way back and forth through hunts. I scoured libraries."

Sam's throat aches. "Why did you let me push you around, Dean? I was such a dick. Why didn't you come punch me in the face?"

"I didn't want to interfere. You were happy, Sam, and you thought-hell, you thought what I knew was probably true: that I'd ruin that for you." Dean shifts, and the sheets rustle, making the darkness seem somehow ominous despite the comforting, familiar presence of Dean in the bed near him, closest to the door.

Sam sprawls onto his back, unable to look towards Dean any more, guilt clogged thick in his throat.

"I wish you had. I wish you'd socked me one so that I would've listened to you." He echoes Dean's sigh. "I was so stupid. So blind."

Dean huffs and punches his pillow to fluff it up. "Sammy, I searched all over for some clue why you'd be special or need to be careful, and I couldn't find a damn thing."

Sam doesn't think he can sleep. He should be falling over, drunk from lack of sleep, but he just keeps replaying those harsh words over and over in his head, the things he said to Dean, hurtful and unnecessary.

"I'm sorry, Dean," he whispers, but there's no response.

Even though Dean's conscience isn't apparently troubled enough to keep him awake, Sam realises, listening to Dean's slightly choppy breath, that his brother probably did everything he could. And in that span of a year, Sam could have, at any time, reached out and let Dean know something weird was happening, and Dean would have been there.

Just what had Sam been trying to prove? Had he been trying to assert his independence again and again, rebelling against everything he knew, everything his family meant, just so he could have a few short years of blissful happiness that he wasn't strong enough, wasn't vigilant enough, to protect?

Had he gone to Dean back then, would Jess and Ty and Jamie still be alive? Would there have been a new baby to hold, to kiss and love?

Dean would have been there. Dean would have been able to help, and Sam pushed that away.

He's such a fucking moron. All that independence, all that pointless rebellion, worth nothing in the end. He doesn't sleep all night.

:::


January 24, 2011

Sam finds their next hunt on Dean's birthday. He has gotten so good now at pretending that his life with Jess never happened that he definitely doesn't think about the first time they had sex, or that it occurred on her birthday—the same day as Dean's.

And he especially doesn't think about how sometimes, now, when he looks at Dean he's still curious what it would be like to touch his brother's skin out of desire, and not out of anything brotherly. It freaks him out. It freaks him out even more that the longer these feelings germinate under his skin, the less he finds the idea abhorrent. The less guilty he feels for wanting to caress Dean's skin or mark up his scars with his lips.

And that's just fucking wrong, which leads to all sorts of self-recriminations. He will figure out how to squash these feelings. They are not normal, and they are wrong. Sick. What would Dean think?

But the hunt is something they can't ignore. Mostly because the minute Sam finds the news story, he recognises it as the signs of a demonic possession, even though neither he nor Dean have ever come across any proof that such a thing exists.

His rib is healed, but they've stayed in Michigan, and Sam's even starting to get used to the fucking cold weather and the constant bucketfuls of snow being dumped on them, when the hunt turns up. Almost like someone is beckoning them, really.

"Here," he says, and Dean sets down the gun that he's cleaned at least ten times over the past month. Sam knows Dean has been utterly bored as well, and he's sorry for it; God, next time he won't be so stupid. Dean winds up standing behind Sam, peering over his shoulder, so close that the warmth of his body seeps into Sam's and takes away the sting of constant cold. His breath, too, is bitter with coffee and hot against Sam's t-shirt, making it slightly damp with the humidity of it. "This sounds like our kind of thing."

Dean reads aloud, "Mrs. Patricia Dayton has been hospitalised for strange markings and bruises on her body. When evaluated, she claimed that her home had been 'invaded' by some sort of malevolent presence, which came to her at night in her dreams and when she woke up, she had claw marks on her forearms. Her husband says that she's never shown any signs of schizophrenia before, but Mrs. Dayton has been held for observation by the psychiatric department. Her husband, Clarkson, states that he has not noticed anything odd about their house."

"We should check it out," Sam puts in when Dean pauses, still scanning the story. "I know, this is a tabloid, but still. These are important people, Dean. She's the mayor's daughter. And if something bad is going down, it's up to us to make sure that no-one dies." He doesn't mention the guilt he still feels over the deaths on his conscience.

"You're right," Dean says. "Hey, listen, little brother. I turn thirty-two today, Sammy, and I want to celebrate!"

"Does this involve hookers and beer?" Sam asks, turning his head to the side and tilting it so he can see his brother's face. This close, he can see every tiny little point of stubble on Dean's jaw, and he practically has to sit on his hands to keep from reaching up to run his hand over it, to feel it scrape against his palm.

"More like bars and willing women," Dean says, grinning. "You think I need to pay for it, Sammy?"

"I don't know," Sam says, a mischievous smile lighting his lips and, he knows, flashing his dimples. "You are getting pretty old, Dean. I don't know what girl would want you." But beyond the lighthearted jab at Dean, Sam can feel the pulse of electricity in his heart that says how much, how badly, he wants Dean. It's fucking insane.

"I'm sure I can find someone," Dean boasts. "C'mon, baby brother. Since you're still such a baby and all. Bet you can't get laid, either."

There's something heavy under those words. A curious weight to them that lends them an importance, a significance, that Sam can't make heads or tails of.

Besides, Dean is probably right; with his brother around, no-one ever looks twice at Sam, as he well remembers.

"Well, hell, it is your birthday," Sam says, shining up his grin even more. "Might as well get toasted and then check out tomorrow, hung-over and completely useless. D'you think the hunt can wait that long?"

Dean whaps Sam on the shoulder, and the sudden physical contact takes Sam by surprise. He jolts in his seat.

"Sammy, it's almost nine. The night's just getting started, and we can't do anything about it tonight anyway."

Sam lets himself fill up with wild irresponsibility. It's freeing, almost like flying. He loves the feel of it, this chance to just be, to go soak his concerns in liquor until he can't even remember what they are any more.

"Then we should go out," Sam says. He pushes the chair back, and Dean moves out of his way. Sam feels disappointed that Dean is no longer so near.

Sam showers and spends too long combing his hair so that it curls up at the ends, because maybe if he can just make himself look a little bit more appealing, someone—girl or guy—will actually grant him some attention.

Dean showers after Sam, and takes even longer styling his hair so that it sticks up just right in spikes. Sam watches from the doorway, Dean having left the door pretty much wide open, and his brother does all of his preening in the mirror while in only a towel, flaunting his muscles and toned physique, and Sam cannot wait until he can take his shirt off and not feel like he's going to terrify anyone who looks at him.

Dean has scars littered all over that Sam doesn't remember, and it makes him feel lost, like he's missed more than just a few years with Dean. Like he's missed an entire lifetime with Dean—just so he could have Jess, and he didn't even get to keep her.

Dean dresses in tight jeans and Sam, surreptitiously watching him, notes that his brother doesn't bother with underwear; why would he, though, when he obviously plans to get lucky?

Sam puts on his most comfortable jeans, his oldest pair that is from Stanford and therefore clean of bloodstains and gravedirt. He pulls on boxer-briefs first, too, because unlike his brother he'd feel utterly exposed to be wearing nothing underneath his jeans.

Dean slips into a black t-shirt, v-neck, and Sam's mouth waters in a way that reminds him just how damn deviant he's become for some reason. Dean doesn't wear cologne—Sam already knew that—and he doesn't put on an overshirt, just his leather jacket, collar popped, because Dean knows perfectly well that the bad-boy image is what scores him a lot of the girls.

Sam wears his grey t-shirt and shrugs into a red button-down, followed by his khaki jacket. His shoes are dirty, but he doesn't think anyone will notice.

Just before they walk out of the room, Sam sees them both reflected back in the mirror on the wall: Dean, looking shiny and spiffed up and sweet like candy, and Sam, who is just Sam, plain and not very noticeable or at all pretty like Dean. Yeah, Dean's going to get some awesome piece of ass for a birthday present; Sam, though, is probably just going to get a raging headache—and possibly a raging boner from staring at Dean. The jury's still out on that second possibility.

It doesn't matter. Some whiskey or tequila and Sam will be able to dull his sorrows until the edges are smoothed into harmless curves that can't slice him open any more. Which is really all he wants from life at this point—well, all he wants that he can have.

They slide onto the bench seat of the Impala at the same time, and slam their doors in unison too. Sam leans his head against the window as Dean drives, watching the patterns his breath makes on the glass.

But what happens later is the last thing Sam expects.

:::

There is a girl. There always is, with Dean. This one has black hair and blue eyes, and her eyes are that kind of blue that is so light it's like one can see right through them.

It's still early in the evening, and Sam is playing pool not so much for the money but for something to do with his hands and his eyes, so that he doesn't spend all of his time staring at Dean and feeling jealous.

It's not like he doesn't remember being jealous of Dean in bars before. But he's relatively confident that back then it was a jealousy that Dean picked up girls so easily, a trick Sam has never quite learned—why would he, once he had Jess?—but now things are different. Now, when he looks over at them, Dean sitting at the bar and the girl leaning against him with her chest right in his face, he's not envious because Dean might get to tap that. No, he's jealous because he wants to know what it's like to have Dean's breath on his face as a prelude to a kiss, and that freaks him out enough that he tries to keep his eyes from straying over to look at them.

He's losing the game of pool anyway, and since it's not a hustle, he has to get concentrating or else he's going to lose some of their cash that they are probably going to need. He doesn't think Dean will be too happy about that.

And then, just as Sam manages to sink the winning shot, that pain in his head that he never expects explodes behind his eyes. He barely feels his knees buckle as the images flip through his brain like a movie projector—

This time, when Sam kisses Dean, the feeling of revulsion is gone. All that's left is the sweetest feeling of victory, Dean's collar clutched in his fingers, Dean's hot skin seeping through the fabric, and Sam's eyes are closed, his dick is hard against his thigh and he wonders if Dean can feel it.

He unclamps his hands from Dean's shirt and slides them down, pressing one in-between Dean's legs and up, cupping his dick and balls and sighing into Dean's mouth when he finds his brother half-hard, stiffening quickly, and Sam is relieved not to be the only one in this sinking ship.

But when he lets up on Dean's mouth for a moment, just a moment to look at swollen, rosy lips, he catches sight of something over Dean's shoulder—a yellow-eyed man, grinning with satisfaction.

Sam knows at once that Dean can't hear the man when he says, cocky,

"I told you I could give you whatever you wanted. All you have to do is—"

Sam doesn't pull his hand away from Dean's crotch, from the rough denim encasing the cock he wants so badly to see, to taste.

"I won't do it," he says, and the yellow-eyed man shakes his head.

"Then this will never happen for you," he replies, mournfully as though he genuinely cares whether Sam gets to fuck his brother or not.

And Sam leans in, chasing those lips, and—



Opens his eyes, on his ass on the floor by the pool table, and his money's gone and so is the kid he was playing against. He stumbles to his feet, the rushing in his head receding like the ocean from the shore, and he makes his way over to the bar, where Dean is now downing hard liquor instead of the beer he'd been drinking earlier, and the pretty girl is comfortably ensconced on the barstool next to him, her long and very shapely legs crossed in just such a way that shows them off to perfection.

Sam doesn't know what is worse: the fact that he finds her attractive and appreciated her gorgeous, tanned legs, or the fact that he'd still rather have Dean panting and sweaty and at his mercy, a fact that has been fast approaching more appealing than distressing lately.

Or even the fact that he's pushing Jess so aggressively to the back of his mind, especially considering that today was her birthday as well. He closes his eyes briefly, then slides onto the barstool next to Dean and orders a vodka in Coke, a drink he learned to like in college in those few instances where he partied with the other college kids instead of staying home and studying. The bartender gives him a sidelong look, like he thinks the combination is unusual, but he mixes it anyway.

Sam figures he might as well start with the liquor that gets him drunk off his ass, because he would rather be drunk for the rest of tonight, so he doesn't have to think about Jess, or Dean taking that girl somewhere to fuck her, or how much he wants to fuck Dean himself. He still can't figure out these impulses; he knows that growing up he didn't want to screw his brother. He would swear by it, but now, with these urges pounding under his skin in time with his heart, he has a hard time recollecting what it was like to feel normal, to kiss Jess or be married to her.

What it was like to be so in love with her that he couldn't imagine anything different. He gulps down his drink and signals for another. He has to stop thinking about Jess—has to stop remembering how the first time they slept together was her eighteenth birthday.

Sam almost wants to find some girl to take into the alley behind the bar, just so that he can try to fuck Jess right out of his mind, but at the same time it makes him feel so horribly disloyal that he looks down and realises his glass is empty again.

So, not drunk enough.

And then, as he's working his way through his third vodka—this time neat—he thinks back to what he saw in his vision. This is the first time he's had those images of Dean but had them be connected to the yellow-eyed man as though the monster or whatever he is can somehow make those visions come true.

And Sam looks up blearily and picks Dean out next to him, a slightly blurry shape, and Dean turns to him, beautiful lips parted, green eyes so very green to Sam's alcohol-drenched gaze.

"Sammy," Dean says, and he sounds like he's speaking from the far end of a tunnel. And Dean leans in closer, drops his hand on Sam's shoulder, then squeezes a little. "'m wasted," Dean adds.

"Where's the girl?" Sam manages to work through his dry throat. He needs another drink.

"Gone," Dean says, looking surprised. "I don' know what 'appened."

"You didn't get lucky?" Sam asks. He lists a little to the left on his barstool and peeks up at Dean, who tightens his grip on Sam's shoulder to keep him from falling off.

"N-not my type," Dean slurs. "C'mon, back to the motel."

"But I—" Sam gestures sloppily at his empty glass.

"'e've had 'nough, I think," Dean says. He helps Sam up.

Driving back to the motel winds up being a two-man job; Sam has to grab the steering wheel more than once.

They both try to walk through the doorway at once, and their shoulders brush as Sam realises they won't fit through such a narrow doorway together.

He's turning to say so to Dean, when he sees Dean looking up at him with an expression akin to awe on his face. Dean looks—looks eager, drunk and his emotions sprawled open on his features.

They crush themselves through the door at the same time anyway, turning sideways acrobatically to fit, and it swings shut behind them.

"Happy birthday, Dean," Sam says, and then, his brain completely disengaged, he ducks down and rubs his lips gently across Dean's. It's just a brotherly kiss, the kind you give your brother when it's his birthday and—

But Dean apparently doesn't think so, because he latches onto the advance like a drowning man grabs a flotation device, and slides his lips over Sam's and then parts them.

Sam doesn't even know what he's doing any more; he slips his tongue in-between Dean's lips and then, what started out as a slightly hesitant, careful kiss turns frenzied. Sam can't get enough, and Dean's giving back just as good as he's getting, and before Sam even realises what he's doing, he's fumbling with Dean's belt, his fingers dipping below to rub at Dean's hardening dick.

His own cock is aching fiercely against the layers of fabric constraining it, and when he flips Dean's button open, his vodka-soaked brain manages to make the connection that Dean isn't wearing any underwear.

Drunk, stumbling with his legs too heavy and his head weighing about five hundred pounds, Sam accidentally shoves Dean down onto his bed and then falls half on top of him, his cock straining and hard against Dean's thigh. One of Dean's knees is bent, the other leg straight, his head against the mattress where he's fallen; Sam bruises those plush lips with the force of his kisses even as he reaches into Dean's jeans and tugs out his cock.

Dean's hands are heavy on Sam's back, sweeping down and then climbing back up beneath Sam's shirts, pushing the fabric up so that cool air hits his scorching hot skin.

Sweat is pooling in every available hollow on his body, like the little place at the base of his neck, and he can see some of it dripping onto Dean between kisses; he loses control a little bit more and bites Dean's mouth, leaves the red imprint of his teeth on Dean's lower lip.

He wraps his fingers tightly around Dean's dick and pulls, sliding the skin up over the head, and then smearing his pre-come onto his fingers and over Dean's shaft.

Dean's fingernails rake down Sam's back, and then he moves his hands around to the front, and he digs his right hand into Sam's waistband, finds Sam's cock and touches it carefully, almost reverently, and Sam jacks Dean faster, all finesse gone, lost only in the sensation of Dean's hand on him and the alcohol dulling his senses.

Unfortunately, the alcohol makes his movements more sluggish, and the dial of his kisses turns down from frantic to searching as his head begins to pound.

He pulls away from Dean suddenly, still trying to bring him off, but Dean, lips shining and eyes closed, is panting hard and yet he's going soft, and his hand on Sam is clumsy, the nails scraping sometimes way too hard against sensitive skin, and Sam lifts his head.

"Dean, Dean," he mutters, and he thinks maybe this is another vision, or a dream, and then his head flops down onto Dean's chest. Dean's breath filters into his hair, exceedingly hot.

Dean doesn't speak, just makes a frustrated noise. Sam rolls off of him, eyes closed. His hand falls onto Dean's bare hip, Dean's Levis rucked halfway down his ass on one side.

Sam wants to say something, but sleep is dragging him under. He feels his dick give a feeble twitch, but now exhaustion is winning out, and he cups his fingers over the bone of Dean's hip, feeling it press hard into his palm, as he slips away into a dreamless sleep.

:::

Sam wakes up sweat-damp in bed, with the covers beneath him. He's alone in bed, and his head is sharply clear, now that the liquor from last night is a memory more than an actual fact.

The only trouble is, Sam can't remember whether what happened last night happened for real, or happened in the colourful world of his visions. He cracks his eyes open, his t-shirt stuck to him with drying sweat, and when he shifts on the bed, the blanket underneath him is wicked hot from his body and smells rank with his sweat. The last time he woke up like this, he'd had a fever, and Jess had been sitting beside him, one leg underneath her, holding his hand and wiping away the sweat with a washcloth.

The thing is, the inside of his boxer-briefs are crusted over with pre-come, and Sam keenly recalls the feel of Dean's palm, wide and calloused, stroking over his dick last night. He sits up, and shoots a glance around the room, but it's empty, a fact he knew even before he consciously thought about it.

That lends credence to the idea that Dean really did, in fact, have his hand down Sam's pants. Because… well, why else would Dean be gone?

Sam shakes off as much of the languor from the hang-over as he can and climbs out of bed, quickly scanning the room again, hoping Dean at least left him some money to be able to get to another town. He's already planning how to steal another car—and most of the cars in Michigan are, let's face it, junkers—when he catches a glimpse of Dean's boxers underneath the cot.

He makes a circuit of the room, and in his examination he finds Dean's duffle stuffed in the corner and Dean's favourite knife on the bathroom sink. Sam sighs, amazingly relieved, and then it really hits him: he acted on those impulses last night. He tried to fuck Dean, and he might have succeeded if not for how absolutely wasted they both were.

He stands in the bathroom in front of the mirror for a minute, and then his stomach churns and he lands on his knees in front of the toilet, puking up the alcohol from last night and probably the last of his morals as well.

What was he thinking? If Dean never speaks to him again, Sam won't be surprised. When he manages to lean his head on the side of the seat—all the while trying not to think about the things a person will do when nauseated and hung-over—he checks his watch. It's 6:32 in the morning, which suggests that perhaps the reason Dean's stuff is still here is because Dean didn't expect Sam to wake up this early. Maybe Dean was still planning to try and sneak away and leave Sam behind.

The thought kills Sam inside; what will he do, without Jess, without his poor children, and now, to lose Dean? How can he carry on, losing Dean too?

Why did he do such a stupid, thoughtless, careless thing? It probably just cost him his brother, and Sam will certainly never be able to look his father in the eye again, even if he should get the chance to visit him in prison.

Sam closes his eyes. That's it, he thinks. He resigns himself to being all alone again.

And then the vision from the previous night comes back to him. The yellow-eyed man promising Sam—he had promised Sam Dean if Sam did what he wanted, but it looks like Sam may have gotten a bit of Dean anyway all on his own.

He's floating pleasantly in a numb state of shock, eyes still shut, when he hears the door open, followed by:

"Hey, Sammy, don't fall asleep there. That's totally not sanitary."

Sam winches his eyes open again and Dean's standing in the doorway, dark circles under his eyes and the laugh lines at the corners sharply pronounced. His brother looks like he didn't sleep at all.

Dean's lips are pale, too, and his freckles are prominent in the white oval of his face. He looks exhausted and worn down and yet he comes into the bathroom, picks up his knife—Sam has a second of fear that Dean is going to gut him with it—and then Dean stashes it in the sheath inside his boot and kneels down beside Sam.

"I'm an idiot," Sam says. Dean's brow creases, his eyes dark and unreadable.

"C'mon," Dean says, not responding directly. He gives Sam a hand up, then flushes the toilet, wrinkling his nose at Sam. "I'm putting you back to bed."

"We, we got a case," Sam protests weakly, but his legs feel like limp noodles, rubbery and unable to hold him. His stomach is still unsettled and his brain is still in overdrive, but Dean hauls him back into the room proper and lowers him to Dean's cot, which is blissfully clean-smelling—besides the bleach and starch scents, of course.

"Are you gonna act like a moron?" Dean asks, and he sweeps some of the hair out of Sam's eyes. "Come to think of it, you need a shower. Jesus, Sam, did you forget how to take care of yourself?"

"You were just as toasted as I was," Sam says, eyes closing again. "I don't see how you're so perky this morning."

"I'm not," Dean says. "I've just had a lot of coffee and some aspirin. Which, by the way, I brought you some coffee. You should drink it, and then, if you have the energy, shower. Because, dude, you stink."

Dean doesn't say the words, like sex, but Sam figures they're probably implied. He swallows through words he can't say aloud and allows Dean to muscle him the rest of the way onto the cot.

When Dean brings him his coffee, it's just the way Sam has always liked it. Sam shouldn't be surprised that Dean remembers, but for some reason the first few sips make him feel even guiltier, even more like he's taken advantage of something, crossed a line he never should have crossed.

But Dean doesn't mention the fact that they almost had sex last night, or that Sam's tongue had been in his mouth; Dean doesn't draw attention to the slight marks still in his bottom lip from Sam's teeth, or the shining black-and-blue flower at the base of his throat, off-centre just a little.

Sam wants to pretend that Dean got those marks from some chick last night, that Dean didn't spend the last hours of his birthday giving Sam something Sam wanted, likely only because Sam seemed to want it.

After all, Dean has always done for Sam whatever he could. If Dean could—if Dean could fuck Sam without puking, he would do it.

Sam groans and barely gets the rest of the coffee down. His head doesn't hurt that much, and the pain in his stomach might be from his stupid indiscretion. The coffee, though, reinvigorates him, and he manages to sit up again.

Dean's sharpening his knife on the whetstone and Sam opens his mouth, not quite sure what he's going to say, when Dean looks up.

Dean has a guilty expression like a stain on his face, but he stops sharpening the knife and says,

"Don't worry about it, Sammy. Best not to think about it."

Sam still wants to say something—he's not even sure if it's an apology or a desperate attempt to get Dean to admit he liked it or maybe even a plea for Dean to stay—but his brain is a desert when it comes to the right words.

"Take a shower, Sam," Dean says gently. "Then we'll get moving on our next case."

Sam accepts Dean's advice, though, and takes a shower. When he soaps up his dick, though, to clean away the crust of pre-come, he remembers Dean's hand on him and he can almost feel it instead of his own. As he washes the evidence away like he's washed away so much blood over the years, he thinks about how not only did he try to fuck his brother—idiot—but it was like he'd completely forgotten Jess. And that thought makes him feel shame, because it would seem that just a taste of Dean, a touch, and Sam's almost as far gone in love with his brother as he ever was with his wife.

Which isn't even true, Sam tells himself viciously. A person can't fall in love with their own flesh and blood. Yeah, maybe sometimes really fucked-up siblings—like you and Dean—screw around with each other, but no way a person can have something like real love—like the love he had with Jess—with his brother.

And then Dean comes into the bathroom, and Sam can hear him pissing even over the pounding of the water on the tile, and when Dean flushes the toilet and sends scalding water cascading down over Sam's head, the back of his neck, dripping from his hair—that's when Sam blushes lobster-red from equal parts shame and desire and discovers that he feels just as strongly about Dean as he did about Jess. And in the same fucking way; it suddenly makes sense why he could kiss Dean or touch him when he should still be devastated over the loss of his wife.

Sam is disastrously in love with his older brother. He lets his head hit the tiled wall with a 'thunk' and just keeps it there 'til Dean leaves the bathroom.

What in the name of holy fuck is he going to do?

:::

The yellow-eyed man seemed to know what Sam wanted before Sam ever knew what Sam wanted. It appears that whomever—or whatever—he is, he knows things about Sam no one should be able to know.

Sam knows he needs Dean, and he knows that if Dean were to leave that Sam would have nothing left of value in his life, but... but Sam is terrified now.

What does the yellow-eyed man want? And will he hurt Dean to achieve it? Will he dangle Dean like a meat on a hook until Sam falls into line?

Sam shivers under the cold spray of the shower.

How long can this go on, before Sam has to explain to Dean just what he sees in his visions?


Book Two, Part Four >>
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