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(for you and me) i got no alibi

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“Here,” Dean says, tossing a small package wrapped in paper at his brother. “Happy birthday, Sammy.” He punctuates his sentence with a clap to Sam’s shoulder and a one-armed hug from behind, and then takes the chair next to Sam’s.

“Oh,” says Sam, blinking in surprise at both the hug and the package he caught on reflex. Dean grins at him, leaning back in his chair and putting his feet up on the table, paying no mind to the books and papers Sam’s got strewn everywhere. “Already?”

Dean taps the watch on his wrist. “It’s midnight, Sam.”

“I didn’t realize,” Sam says, frowning a little. “Guess I lost track of time.”

“You’ve been at it all day, Sam, take a break,” suggests Dean. “Better yet, go get some rest.”

“You know what, I think I will,” Sam tells him, and leans back in his chair as well. “Right after I open this.” He holds up the package, shakes it a little for emphasis, and then sets it down on the table. It’s oddly shaped, wrapped up in what looks suspiciously like—

“Wait. Did you tear out pages from the Latin dictionary?” Sam asks incredulously.

Dean shrugs, refusing to look ashamed. “We’ve got a thousand of those lying around,” he says, grinning at the outraged expression on Sam’s face. “Besides, what do you need a Latin dictionary for? You already know the language.”

“That’s not the point—” Sam begins indignantly, but his brother shushes him before he can finish his sentence.

“Just open it, Sam,” he says impatiently. “And I’ll replace the stupid book, all right?”

“Fine,” Sam grumbles. He rolls his eyes at Dean’s expression, and then looks back at his present, wincing when the paper tears when he tries to carefully remove the tape holding it together. There goes all hope of putting those pages back in the book, he thinks as he just gives up and begins ripping. Not that there was much of that to begin with; Dean’s done a very thorough job of debauching the paper.

Sam catches a glimpse of leather and his heart skips a beat, wondering for a moment if Dean’s returning the amulet to him. But why would he? He’d been so relieved to have it back, had been so happy that Sam had kept it, hadn’t quit apologizing even for one second as he’d slipped it back on. He no longer wears it around his neck unless they’re at home, but Sam knows he keeps it on him always, in the inside pocket of his jacket or wound around his wrist, or, on one memorable occasion, tangled in his shoelaces.

A glint of bronze, and Sam can’t help but look up at his brother just to see if he can catch a glimpse of the amulet, because if it’s on Dean that means it’s not in this haphazardly-wrapped package— and there it is, and Sam’s whole body loosens when he sees it on Dean’s chest. Heart going back to its normal rate, Sam wills his fingers not to tremble from relief as he rips away the last of the paper to reveal a polished brass disk with an intricate pattern carved into its surface.

He holds it up, tangling the leather cord in his fingers and letting the disk fall so he can look at it in the light of the nearest lamp. The surface glints in the low light, and as it slowly spins around the cord it looks as if the pattern on it is moving around the small mirror pressed into its center.

“It’s pretty,” Sam says, mesmerized, not taking his eyes off it. “What is it?”

“Amulet for good luck,” Dean replies, sounding pleased. “Picked it up from that occult store three towns over, you remember it?”

“With the creepy voodoo dolls and that haunted skull?” Sam questions, finally tearing his eyes off the necklace to raise an incredulous eyebrow at his brother.

“Yep,” says Dean, popping the p. “Dude swore up and down to me that the necklace is safe, though.”

“Does it work?” Sam asks, slipping it on. It comes to rest against his sternum, just below the dip of his collarbone, cool against his skin.

Dean shrugs. “Dunno. Guess we’ll find out.”

Sam smiles at him. “Guess we will,” he says, and then leans over to touch Dean’s hand. “Thank you, Dean. It’s… I love it.”

His brother smiles back so wide his teeth show. “Glad to hear it, Sammy,” he says warmly. “Now we match, huh?” He taps the amulet resting on his own chest, drawing attention to it, and Sam understands that his mini-freakout of earlier had not been as internal as he’d hoped.

“We’ve got the same tattoo in the same place, Dean,” he finds himself replying. “We already matched.”

Dean just shrugs. “Whatever,” he says, unbothered, but the tightness under his expression fades a little, and his posture loosens to match Sam’s. He maintains eye contact for just a moment, eyes so bright that for a moment they look as if they’re glowing, and then clears his throat, reaching for his phone. “Fifteen past midnight, Sammy,” he says, glancing at the display. “Time to hit the hay, man. Those books’ll still be here tomorrow.”

As if on cue, Sam yawns, stretching his arms above his head as far as they’ll go. “Yeah, guess you’re right,” he says, and moves forward in his chair, rubbing at his eyes. “What about you?”

“Thinking I’ll watch something on the TV, I don’t know,” Dean answers, getting to his feet at the same time as Sam. “Not that tired just yet.”

“Not Mindhunter,” Sam says at once. “Not without me.”

Dean rolls his eyes. “Wasn’t going to,” he says. “You’d never let me hear the end of it.”

Satisfied, Sam says, “Good.”

Dean just scoffs, and socks Sam good-naturedly in the arm. Sam retaliates by shoving him, but he’s sleepy and tired and yawning again, and almost misses, just jostling Dean instead of sending him into the wall like he’d intended.

“That the best you got?” Dean challenges, laughing as he shoves Sam back.

“Don’t be an ass,” Sam mutters, elbowing him and making a face when he deftly moves out of the way.

They’re at Sam’s door now. He’s expecting Dean to just wish him goodnight and be on his way, but Dean pauses in the doorway and so Sam stops too, looking at him expectantly.

“Listen,” Dean says, and his tone is soft. “Sammy.”

“Yeah?” Sam says. He’s not sure why they’re whispering.

“You know I’ll never let go of it again, right?” Dean tells him. Just to clarify what he’s talking about – as if Sam doesn’t know – he taps again at the amulet on his chest.

“I know,” Sam answers.

Ever,” Dean says emphatically. “No matter what happens.”

“I know,” Sam repeats. They’re no longer just talking about keeping the amulet, thinks Sam.

“Okay, good,” Dean says, a little awkwardly, and the moment dissipates. “Just wanted you to know.”

Sam just smiles instead of replying.

“Right,” says Dean. Suddenly he can’t seem to meet Sam’s eyes. “Okay. Goodnight, Sammy.”

“Night, Dean,” Sam answers, and then Dean’s gone, footsteps echoing further and further away down the corridor as he heads for his room. Sam doesn’t stop smiling, not even when he’s undressed and in bed, and too tired to think straight. He ends up falling asleep with the afterimage of the bronze amulet burned into the back of his eyelids, its leather cord wound around Dean’s fingers.

 

Dean finds him the next morning in the gym area of the bunker, stretched out in the bridge pose on a yoga mat. He’s got the iPad in his hand, screen on, and Sam supposes he’s here to tell him about the case he’s probably found, but instead his brother just raises an eyebrow and asks, “Dude, what are you doing?”

Sam gives him his best upside-down bitchface. “Yoga, Dean,” he answers. “The same as I always do every morning.”

“Since when?” Dean asks, looking Sam over head to toe and then back, the incredulous expression still on his face. The iPad’s screen goes dark; Dean pays it no mind.

“Since always,” Sam answers. “You’re just usually asleep at this time.”

“Yeah, ‘cause it’s frigging half past seven,” Dean points out.

“So why are you up today?” Sam asks. He’s still in the same pose, and Dean is still looking at him like he’s never seen him like this before. Which is weird. Dean can pretend all he wants that he doesn’t know shit about Sam’s morning routine, but Sam knows for a fact that Dean is acquainted enough with it to bitch about it in excruciating detail when he feels inclined.

Dean shrugs. “Got up to make you breakfast. You gonna get out of that pose any time soon? My back hurts just looking at you.”

“Don’t look at me, then,” Sam retorts, but relaxes his body anyway, coming back down to lie flat on the mat. Dean looks relieved for a second, but no longer than that, because Sam just flips over and plants his hands and feet flat before raising his back.

“Why are you sticking your ass in the air?” Dean feels the need to ask.

“It’s the downward-facing dog pose, you ignorant jerk,” Sam informs him.

“Right,” says Dean after a moment. He looks vaguely disturbed.

“You look like you’ve found me doing dark magic rituals in the basement,” Sam comments.

“I think I’d have preferred that, actually,” Dean replies.

Sam rolls his eyes. “Drama queen.”

“Hippie freak,” Dean replies at once.

Instead of replying, Sam just gets to his feet and stretches his arms above his head. The bunker air is cool where it touches the exposed skin of his belly where his shirt’s ridden up, and Sam interlaces his fingers and pushes even higher, glad for the sleeveless shirt. They’ve got aircon in the main rooms, but not in this part of the bunker, and the heat can get intolerable at times, especially during exercise.

Dean is still eyeing him strangely. “What?” Sam asks him, letting his hands fall to his sides and then bending forward so that his fingertips touch the floor in front of his feet.

“Nothing,” Dean says, and then clears his throat. “You done? ‘Cause your breakfast’s getting cold.”

“Almost,” Sam answers. “What’d you make?”

“Come and find out,” Dean says, before abruptly turning on his heels and leaving.

Sam straightens, frowning at the sound of Dean’s receding footsteps. What the hell was that about?

No answers are forthcoming at breakfast, either, though that’s probably because all thoughts of Dean’s odd behavior are driven from Sam’s mind at the sight of the feast laid out on the kitchen table. Hash browns and French toast and a steaming cup of coffee exactly the way Sam likes it, and Sam’s stomach flips at the warm, homely scents, and the thought that Dean must have been at this for a while.

“You made this?” he asks, sitting down across from his brother at the table.

Dean nods. “Yeah,” he answers, looking a little self-conscious.

“It looks amazing,” Sam tells him, and smiles. “Thank you.”

Dean flushes a little, and looks pleased. “Well, it’s your birthday, Sammy, it’s the least you deserve.”

Sam grins at him, and reaches for the nearest dish, which happens to be the hash browns. “You made all of this from scratch?”

“Yep,” Dean replies. “Took a lot of Googling, but I, uh, I did it.”

Sam takes a bite, and then lets out an almost involuntary mmm-ghh. “Dean,” he says, when he’s swallowed. “Dean this is so good, I didn’t know you could cook like this—”

Dean’s face goes even redder. “Yeah, well,” he says, a little awkward, “like I said, took a lot of Googling…”

“Don’t sell yourself short,” Sam tells him, reaching for the French toast. “This is all just honestly… amazing.” He’s at a loss for words, he really is. It’s not just the good food – it’s the fact that Dean did this. For him. For his birthday. He woke up early at a time he normally considers unholy, and he went to all this effort just to give Sam this.

The thought heats Sam up from the inside, washes all over him, makes him smile almost without thinking about it. That seems to relax Dean some; he smiles too, and finally tucks in as well, stabbing a hash brown with his fork and taking a bite out of it.

“Damn, you’re right,” he says after a moment. “These are good.”

“Told you,” Sam says with a laugh.

“So you did,” Dean says, and takes another bite. “I see you’re wearing the amulet I gave you,” he adds a moment later, nodding at Sam’s chest.

“Oh,” Sam says, and looks down too at the bronze disk lying against his sternum. “Yeah, I haven’t taken it off. I really like it, Dean.” And he does. It feels warm against his chest, a comforting weight, and every time Sam catches a glimpse of it he feels a little bit like there’s a load sliding off his shoulders and the world is just that little bit easier to exist in. It’s a feeling he can’t really put into words, so he just smiles reassuringly at his brother and then proceeds to steal his pancake.

“Bitch,” Dean grumbles, without heat, and then, “Got anything planned for today?”

Sam shrugs. “Nothing, really,” he answers. “Research, I guess. Or maybe I’ll see if there’s a hunt or something.”

“A hunt? On your birthday?” Dean asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Monsters aren’t gonna take the day off just ‘cause it’s my birthday,” Sam answers dryly.

You can, though,” Dean says. “If you want to.”

“What else would I do?” Sam asks.

Dean shrugs. “Fair enough,” he concedes. “Anyway, if that’s what you wanna do, you’re in luck. I found us a hunt not that far away, half a day’s drive. Poltergeist, it looks like. Easy stuff.”

“Oh, is that what you wanted to show me, earlier?” Sam asks, remembering that Dean had been holding the iPad when he’d come into the gym earlier.

Dean nods. “Yeah, before your weird yoga stuff distracted me,” he says. “So what do you think? Wanna take the case?”

“Yeah, why not?” Sam says. “Nothing else to do, right?”

“Right,” Dean echoes. “Let’s finish up here, and then we’ll meet at the car in ten, all right?”

 

The witness is hitting on Sam.

For the past ten minutes he’s been trying to get her to answer him about cold spots and flickering lights, and somehow she keeps managing to turn the conversation around while not answering a single thing. Dean is enjoying it all, of course he is, because he’s a jerk, but Sam’s at the end of his rope trying to get this interview over with while remaining out of groping range.

“Ma’am,” he tries for the nth time, “ma’am, can you please focus—”

“Call me Candace,” she says a little breathlessly, flipping glossy dark hair over her shoulder. “And I’m sorry, I just get so distracted sometimes. Where were we?”

“That’s all right,” Sam says, forcing a smile. “Uh, you were telling me about the lights?”

“Yes, the lights! Well, they do flicker, sometimes, but I thought that was just something wrong with the wiring, maybe?” she says, inching closer to Sam. “I called an electrician to come see it, but he said nothing’s wrong.”

Sam subtly angles his body away from her. “Right,” he says. “And, uh, cold spots?”

“Not that I’ve noticed,” she says, frowning in thought. Then she brightens, and grins lasciviously at him. “Well, my bed does get cold sometimes, though.”

“Uh. Right,” Sam says, and clears his throat awkwardly. “Okay. Um. Thank you for all your help, and…” He hands her a card, making sure his fingers don’t touch hers, “don’t hesitate to call us if there’s anything, okay?”

“Ooh, is this your personal number?” she asks interestedly, glancing down at it.

“Work phone,” Sam tells her with a tight little smile.

She sighs, disappointed. “I suppose it’ll have to do.”

Dean has been quietly snickering to himself all this while, and it develops into full-on cackling the moment they’re out of earshot of the witness. “Dude, I’ve never seen anyone look that happy about a haunting before.”

“Shut up,” grumbles Sam, going over to the passenger side of the Impala. “I just know she’s going to be blowing up my phone. Ugh.”

“You could block her after the case, you know,” Dean suggests, looking at him over the top of the Impala, still grinning.

“I want to do it now,” Sam says, and opens the door, “but she might call.”

“A pretty girl wanting to call you,” Dean says, and he sounds like he’s joking, but there’s something odd about his expression, something shuttered. “Sounds awful, huh, Sammy?”

Sam just rolls his eyes at his brother.

“I’m serious,” Dean tells him once they’re in the car. “It wouldn’t be so bad if you called her back, would it? Doesn’t have to be anything serious. Just some fun.”

“I don’t want to,” Sam answers. “I just… don’t.”

Dean’s expression clears at that. “Right,” he says. “Okay. I’m just saying.”

“Yeah, I know,” Sam says. “But I just don’t really… I’m not interested, you know? In any of that. Not anymore.”

“Cool,” is all Dean says, easing the car out of the parking spot.

It hits Sam a few moments later.

Jealousy. That’s what that expression had been.

Huh.

 

The rest of the case goes smoothly, if getting thrown around repeatedly by a poltergeist can be considered smooth. Still, it’s all par for the course, and eventually they finish their cleansing ritual, and manage to banish it.

Candace is extremely grateful when she returns from the movies. So grateful, in fact, that she immediately throws her arms around Sam and clings on tightly, right there on the front porch. He stiffens, surprised and suddenly uncomfortable, and in the background Dean begins snickering again.

“Thank you so much!” Candace says, clinging on with determination. She’s got a lot of strength for a woman who tops out at five-two. “You saved my life!”

“You’re welcome,” Sam tells her through clenched teeth, and tries to disentangle herself.

It doesn’t work; she just hangs on tighter. “You’re my hero,” she sniffs.

“Thank you,” Sam says, and tries again, to no avail.

A moment later Dean is in his line of sight, no longer amused. “Hey,” he says, tapping Candace on the shoulder. “Lady. You can let go of him now.”

She does, but it’s obvious that it’s reluctant. Sam winces as he feels the blood return to his arms, and offers Candace a strained smile in response to her bright grin.

“Call me,” she says, and winks.

“He will if he wants to,” Dean says, and puts his hand on Sam’s arm. “Come on, Sammy, time for us to leave.”

“Oh,” she says. “I thought maybe… but it’s okay,” she adds, and then smiles at Sam again, considerably dimmer. “Thank you again. I really can’t ever repay you.”

“It’s all right, really,” Sam tells her kindly. “It’s sort of what we do.”

“Sam!” Dean calls, already at the car.

“I’ve gotta go,” Sam tells her. “You, uh, take care.”

“You too,” she replies, and smiles a little wistfully at him. He turns back to look at her when he’s at the car, and she waves. He waves back, suddenly feeling a little bad for brushing her off. She’s not too bad. Just… overenthusiastic. In another life, Sam might have pursued her, maybe. Or Dean would have.

“Dude,” he says to Dean once they’re in the car. “Bit harsh on her, don’t you think?”

“She wouldn’t let you go,” Dean says, like it answers anything.

“She was just… grateful,” Sam says lamely.

“Could’ve respected your boundaries,” Dean points out, keeping his eyes on the road.

Sam raises an eyebrow. “Weren’t you the one who was telling me I should get it on with her? What changed?”

Dean just shrugs, and mutters something Sam doesn’t quite catch.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Dean says. “Man, I’m wiped. Let’s stay the night and leave tomorrow?”

Sam narrows his eyes at the sudden change in subject, but decides to go along with it. “Fine by me,” he says. “Could do with some dinner, though.”

Dean smiles at that. “I think I know just the place.”

 

It turns out to be a bar near the place they’re staying at. Dean orders some cholesterol-laden mystery-meat burger that Sam is instinctively wary of – it looks like it probably contains all manner of questionable animal in it, possibly roadkill too. But Dean, of course, is in heaven, with his extra onions and bacon, so Sam just orders himself a chicken wrap and decides to keep his mouth shut.

“Not a bad place,” Dean says, looking around after they’ve ordered.

It looks exactly like every other small-town bar/restaurant they’ve ever been to, but Sam doesn’t say that. “Yeah,” he says instead.

Dean pays him no mind, continuing his survey of the place. Sam watches him discreetly, pretending to be busy with his phone, and waits for Dean’s eye to catch on the pretty barkeep, or the girl throwing darts in the corner, or maybe even the waitress who’d taken their order. All of them are exactly Dean’s type, after all, and any moment Dean is going to whistle long and slow, and throw a wink, and amp up the charm, while Sam’s left to pick at his food and then return alone to their motel room.

That doesn’t happen.

Dean’s eyes slide right over the pretty barkeep, the girl with the darts, and even the waitress who’s bent over to pick up something she’s dropped. To Sam’s surprise, his brother doesn’t make a single remark, just continues looking around comfortably, the fingers of one hand tapping an off-beat rhythm out against the tabletop.

Then his face brightens, and Sam’s stomach sinks a little, but when he follows Dean’s gaze, it’s just a jukebox. “Look, Sammy!” Dean says, and Sam has to quickly pretend he was on his phone this whole time. “They’ve got a jukebox!”

“Nice,” Sam says, going for uninterested and managing just to sound a little strained. To prevent Dean from noticing, he asks, “You, uh, you gonna put something on?”

“Hell yeah,” Dean says, getting up, one hand already fishing for change in his pockets. “Wait here, Sammy.”

“Where would I go,” Sam mutters. He watches Dean weave through the tables towards the jukebox, not bothering to hide it now, considering Dean’s got his back to him.

Dean’s wearing that shirt Sam got him a few months ago, after he’d lost his favorite one to a particularly pissed-off werewolf. It’s just a little bit too tight on him, and it clings to his body, defines his arms and torso in a way that Sam knows has caught the attention of more than a few of the men and women here tonight. He hasn’t been blind to all the eyes that have lingered on their table for just a few seconds too long, and it makes something curl in his belly, makes him want to get up and leave before someone can approach his brother.

It’s not really a secret anymore, he thinks as he watches Dean feed coins into the jukebox. The way he feels about Dean. He’s never said it out loud, even to himself, but sometimes it overwhelms him so much he thinks it has to show on his face. There’s no way Dean doesn’t know, he thinks sometimes. No way his brother is oblivious to it, because Sam’s efforts to keep it buried are more and more half-assed these days. Sometimes Dean touches him, or ruffles his hair affectionately, or sits with his leg pressed to Sam as they watch a movie, and Sam thinks, he’s got to know, right? No way he doesn’t. Not with the way Sam’s heart stutters each time, the way he has to curl his hands into tight fists to prevent himself from doing something stupid like reaching out and touching him in a decidedly not platonic way.

Because at the end of the day, Dean’s his brother, and the way he looks at Sam and touches him is all brotherly, and whether or not he knows how Sam feels is not important, because neither of them will ever do anything about it. There’s no way Dean feels the same way, and there’s no way Sam will ever even try to find out. There would be no point. They’re in a good place, after so many years, and the last thing Sam wants to do is fuck it all up. And it doesn’t matter how much his heart hurts when he thinks of it, or how repressing it has him feeling literally nauseous with the effort. Dean’s his brother, and Sam wouldn’t endanger that for the world and everything in it.

The opening chords of Simple Man fill the room, and Sam looks up to find Dean grinning at him from across the room. He flashes Sam a thumbs-up when he catches him looking, and begins making his way back to their table, but before he can, Sam’s vision is taken up by a guy who appears in front of him and then pulls up a chair, without even asking.

“Uh,” says Sam. “Who are you?”

The guy, appearing tall and imposing even when he’s seated, holds out his hand. “James,” he says with a confident smile, flashing teeth so white they don’t look real.

Sam does not take his hand. “What do you want?” he asks.

James withdraws his hand and uses it to run through his dark hair in a fluid movement, before smiling even wider at Sam, crow’s feet crinkling. “Saw you come in with that other guy,” he says casually instead of answering Sam’s question. “He with you?”

“Who’s asking?” Sam says, narrowing his eyes. Just over James’s shoulder, he can see Dean, trying to make his way past a waiter carrying a tray loaded down with precariously stacked dishes.

“Just wondering,” James says. “’Cause you’re real cute, and if you’re single, I’d like to buy you a drink.”

Sam blinks, taken aback. “Um,” he says intelligently. Cute? What the hell.

James laughs. “Yeah, I get that a lot,” he says, and then honest-to-God winks.

Sam is saved from having to formulate a response by Dean’s arrival. Having successfully navigated the width of the room, Dean comes to a stop at James’s shoulder and then taps him. “Excuse me,” he says, in a tone that is anything but polite.

“Yes?” James says, not bothering to look away from Sam. The intensity of his stare is making Sam squirm in his seat a little.

“Who the hell are you?” Dean asks.

That makes James look up. “Could ask you the same thing,” he retorts.

Sam finds his tongue again. “He’s with me,” he says.

“Is he?” James says.

“Yes,” both Sam and Dean say at the same time.

“And he’s your… what? Friend? Boyfriend?” prods James, raising an eyebrow up at Dean.

“Br—” Sam begins to say, but Dean cuts him off.

“Partner,” he says loudly. “He’s my partner. You hear that, douchebag? He’s taken. You gonna leave us alone now?”

“Why don’t you let him speak, huh?” says James, and then turns askance to Sam.

“You heard him,” Sam says with a half-shrug.

James looks at Sam for a moment longer, then at Dean, who’s glaring, and then back at Sam. “Fine,” he says. “You could have just said that, you know.”

“You didn’t really give me the chance,” Sam points out wryly as James gets to his feet.

James just rolls his eyes, and then stalks off.

“What’s his deal?” Dean asks, finally sitting down. “More persistent than an ectoplasm stain on a white t-shirt.”

“Probably doesn’t get told no enough,” Sam comments.

“What did he want, anyway?”

The waitress from earlier arrives with their food. Dean barely even looks at her even as he thanks her, keeping his eyes on his brother.

“Was trying to buy me a drink,” Sam tells him. “Asked if I was single.”

“What’d you say?” Dean asks. He’s doing that thing where he pretends not to be interested, and fails because he’s too eager to know the answer to put that much effort into the act.

“Like I said, he wasn’t really giving me the chance to speak,” Sam answers, picking up his chicken wrap.

Dean, despite his initial excitement over his roadkill quarter-pounder, has not even touched it yet. “Shoulda just decked him, Sammy.”

“Here in public? Probably not a good idea,” Sam says, taking a bite. “I wanted to, though. Good thing you came when you did.”

Dean looks pleased at that, and finally reaches for his burger. “Well, you’re welcome, partner,” he says with a teasing grin, and then takes a huge bite, fitting as much of it into his mouth as possible.

Sam just rolls his eyes, and tries to act like his entire body isn’t heating up at the way Dean said “partner”. It’s nice, he thinks. Real nice, the way Dean came over the moment he saw a strange man approach Sam, the way Dean’s protective instincts flared up when he saw that Sam was uncomfortable. And he knows, he knows, that it’s nothing different from Dean’s usual big brother routine. It’s not even the first time they’ve faked being partners, though usually it’s for case-related purposes instead of trying to get out of awkward social situations.

It just still feels really nice, though. Maybe Sam can’t have the kind of relationship with his brother that he fantasizes about, but these little things he can have. These little things he’s going to hang on to and cherish, because it’s all he can have without ruining everything else.

 

Sam doesn’t realize the waitress has left him her phone number, not until he takes the used up napkin out of his pocket to throw into their motel room bin and his brother says, “Wait, what’s that?”

“What’s what?” Sam asks, hand hovering over the bin, still holding the crumpled up napkin.

“On the napkin,” Dean clarifies.

Sam frowns down at it. “The logo?” He looks closer. “Wait no, there’s a fun fact on it about sharks—”

“Not that, you geek,” Dean says, coming to stand next to Sam and taking the napkin from him. He flattens it out and then holds it up for Sam to see. “She left you her number!”

Sam takes the napkin back and squints at the tiny handwriting. “Huh. So she did.”

“Are you gonna call her?” Dean asks. He’s doing that thing again, pretending he’s casual and unconcerned and instead coming off as the exact opposite.

Instead of replying, Sam just balls up the napkin again and drops it into the bin. “’Course not, dude,” he says. “Why would I?”

Dean shrugs, going for nonchalant, but he looks relieved, too.

There’s something there, thinks Sam. Something his brother’s not saying, maybe not even acknowledging, and it pricks at him, but at the same time… Don’t read too much into it, he tells himself. Dean’s probably relieved because he doesn’t want to be sexiled from the room and sleep in the car the night before a long drive home.

Yeah, that’s probably it. Sam would offer to let Dean have the room and borrow the Impala for his sexcapades instead, but then Dean would bitch about that too, and well, in any case, he’s not going to call her or have sex with her, because he’s in love with his brother and even though they’re not together, in a weird way even considering the thought feels like he’s cheating,

Fuck, his life is so fucking weird.

“That’s the third person to hit on you today,” Dean points out when they’re both in bed.

“Okay?” says Sam after a moment, when Dean doesn’t say anything else.

“Just making an observation,” Dean says.

“Okay,” Sam says.

“I mean,” Dean says after a moment. “I’m just saying, you know.” He sounds a bit odd.

“Okay, Dean,” Sam replies patiently. He’s not sure what point Dean is trying to make, and what sort of response he’s expecting from Sam.

“You know what,” Dean says. “I think I’ll just go to sleep.”

Sam snorts. “Probably for the best.”

“Night, Sammy.”

“Goodnight, Dean.”

 

The drive back to the bunker is mostly uneventful. Sam spends a few hours reading a book, leaning against the passenger side of the window with one leg folded up to his chest, his arm resting against it. He’s got one earbud in, but he’s barely paying attention to either the song or the book. It’s a little hard to focus when he can’t help but keep noticing how Dean keeps looking at him.

He gives up when he realizes he’s been reading the same line for the past few minutes, and it still hasn’t registered in his mind. “Dude,” he says, snapping the book shut and putting his leg down. “Something on my face?”

Dean looks away so fast Sam is surprised his spine doesn’t snap. “No,” he says, hands tightening on the steering wheel. “Nothing.”

Sam raises an eyebrow. “Uh huh. So why were you staring?”

Dean shrugs. “Wasn’t staring,” he says, though they both know he’s been caught red-handed.

“One of these days you’re going to drive us straight into a ditch,” Sam says, settling his elbow against the door and propping his head up with his hand.

“Please,” dismisses Dean. “That’s not going to happen.”

“Only if you keep your eyes on the road,” Sam retorts.

Dean mumbles something under his breath that Sam doesn’t quite catch, but to his credit he does turn back to the road. Sam just smirks in his direction, knowing Dean can see it, and then opens his book again, scanning the page for where he left off the last time.

He ends up dozing off eventually, head against the cool glass of the window and book still open in his lap. He’s in that murky space between consciousness and deep sleep, only barely aware of the darkening sky outside, of his earbud falling out of his ear, of Dean’s low voice as he half-sings, half-hums along with Iron Maiden, and it all blends together, the soundtrack to his life, until Sam’s whole body is loose, mind remarkably quiet.

He could spend forever in this moment.

But it ends, like it always does; the Impala comes to a stop, eventually, too soon for it to be home so Sam figures it’s probably just a gas station, nothing worth waking up for. Dean’s just going to refuel, maybe get some snacks, and then they’ll be on their way again.

Except that’s not what happens. Sam’s only just decided to go back to sleep when he feels fingers in his hair, Dean’s rough and callused hands so gentle on him as they smooth it back from his face, and then he’s saying, voice low and slightly hoarse from lack of use, “Wake up, Sammy.”

Sam opens his eyes, blinks blearily at Dean’s face just inches from his. “Where we?” he mumbles, and then yawns, feeling simultaneously five, and nine, and thirteen, and his actual age.

Dean’s face goes impossibly softer, which Sam didn’t think was possible. “Stopped at a motel,” Dean tells him, not moving away. “Figured we can drive the rest of the way tomorrow.”

Sam yawns again, and then offers Dean a sleepy little smile. “Okay,” he says.

Dean smiles back, and that’s when it hits Sam that oh, Dean’s face is barely two inches from his. And he’s got that look on his face, that unquantifiable affection, and the want that suddenly curls in Sam’s stomach is so desperate that he has to shut his eyes. He can’t look at Dean like that, so terrifyingly close, and not do something about it. He can’t, it’s not fair, it’s just not, how can he be expected to stay within the little brother circle when Dean’s looking at him like that—

“Well, come on then,” Dean says, and he sounds a bit further off. Sam risks opening his eyes, and sighs internally with relief when he finds Dean back on his side of the car, turning the engine off. “You’re really out of it, huh,” he says when he notices Sam looking.

“Just sleepy,” Sam says, and is damn sure he doesn’t sound convincing at all.

“Yeah, I can see that,” Dean says, and smiles softly at him again. “Come on then, let’s get you into bed.”

 

There’s only one bed. The sight of it jolts Sam back to complete consciousness, and he can feel his heart sink in his chest. This isn’t fair. This is just cruel.

“Where’s the other bed?” he asks Dean, clutching his duffel like a lifeline.

“They only had the one room,” Dean informs him, appearing, for all intents and purposes, completely unbothered. “It’s just one night, Sam, it’s not a big deal,” he adds when he sees Sam’s face. “Stick to your side, don’t hog the sheets, and we’ll be fine.”

That snaps Sam out of it. “I don’t hog the sheets,” he says, dumping his duffel by the foot of the bed. “You do. And you have cold feet.”

“I do not,” Dean answers, narrowing his eyes.

“Do too,” Sam tells him. “I know this because you kept me awake the entire night the last time we had to share a bed.” Well, that, and close proximity to Dean, but Sam’s going to go with the cold feet excuse if pressed.

“No I didn’t,” Dean says, and takes off his outer flannel.

Sam takes in a deep breath to center himself, tears his eyes off Dean’s arms, and then takes off his own flannel. He’s wearing an old v-neck under it, so thin from repeated washes that it’s almost see-through in parts, but it’s comfortable and Sam hasn’t been able to bring himself to trash it yet. It used to be gray once, but is now some odd shade of white. A couple more washes and it’s probably going to fall apart.

He yawns again, reminded of how sleepy he actually is. There’s no couch in the room, so it looks like his only option is to share with Dean, which is going to be… problematic at best and disastrous at worst. Still, it’s not like he’s got a choice, so Sam just resolves to stay on his designated side of the bed, and if his dick decides to betray him by waking him with an erection – well, he’ll just chop it off. He’s damn near celibate as it is, he probably won’t miss it that much.

“Dude,” comes Dean’s strangled voice. “What are you doing?”

Sam blinks, fingers pausing in the act of unbuttoning his jeans. “Uh… taking my pants off?”

“What, here?”

“Uh, yeah,” Sam says, confused. “Where else would I do it?”

“I don’t know, the bathroom, maybe?” Dean says, still in that strange tone.

You undressed right here,” Sam points out, carefully not looking at Dean’s thighs, on display thanks to too-old boxers.

Dean opens his mouth to retort, closes it again, and then just sighs, evidently giving up. “Whatever,” he says in the end, sitting down heavily on the right side of the bed. “Carry on, I guess.”

“Weirdo,” Sam mutters, sliding his legs out of his jeans. He turns away from Dean momentarily so he can fold his pants and put them on top of his duffel, as opposed to his brother’s jeans crumpled in the exact spot he’s taken them off in. Then he straightens and stretches, yawning again.

Dean’s looking at him again, he realizes – but when he looks back, Dean turns his head away quickly, red in the face, and then mumbles something inaudible. “What?” Sam asks, suddenly self-conscious.

“Nothing,” Dean says, and makes himself comfortable under the covers. “You gonna come to bed, or you gonna stand there all night?”

Sam rolls his eyes, the awkwardness dissipating. “Yeah yeah, hold your horses,” he retorts, getting into the left side of the bed and turning his lamp off before settling under the covers, shifting until he’s comfortable. “Night,” he says, with yet another yawn, and then closes his eyes.

It’s almost a full minute before Dean replies. “Night,” he says, sounding a little strange, but Sam figures it’s just exhaustion from having driven for hours on end, and doesn’t give it much thought. Instead he just breathes out, long and slow, and listens to his brother’s small movements, comforting in the dark. Maybe it’s just his imagination, but he can feel Dean’s warmth even across the bed, and the last thing he remembers feeling just before he drops off is this incredibly solid sense of safety.

 

He wakes up abruptly. The phantom touch of something soft still lingers on his temple, on the edge of his hairline, and the bed, too, is warm behind him. At the same time it feels like there was a weight on him that is not there anymore, something he’s missing, even though he’s still covered in the blanket and there’s nothing else it could possibly be.

Then the door to the bathroom slams shut, and Sam understands that Dean has only just woken up, too. And that means—

Not going there. Dean just got out of bed, and went to the bathroom. That’s all that happened. He didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, he didn’t, it’s just Sam imagining things because he desperately wants them to be true. He can’t ever have any of it, so he’s just indulging in wishes and make-believe. That’s all it is.

That’s all it is.

Sam bites his lip hard until he tastes blood, the sharp tang of it bringing him back to reality. Then he forces himself to sit up and get out of bed. It takes all of his willpower not to look at the spot where Dean had been sleeping, and not to wonder why it’s so damn close to Sam’s side of the bed, especially when Dean’s the one who likes to accuse Sam of hogging the sheets.

The shower turns off; a moment later, the bathroom door opens, emitting steam, and then Dean steps out, dressed only in a towel that looks one wrong movement away from falling off his hips. Sam bites down into his lip again, hard, and pins his eyes to Dean’s face.

“Morning,” Dean says, graciously pretending Sam’s not being a weirdo. “Why don’t you get showered, and then we can get breakfast and hit the road?”

Sam clears his throat awkwardly. “Yeah, uh, I’ll do that, then,” he says, and ducks into the bathroom before Dean can call him out on his odd behavior.

A hurried and kind of tragic jerk-off session and a quick shower later, Sam exits to find Dean fully dressed and sitting at the small table in the room, scrolling through his phone. He looks up when he hears the bathroom door open, and then blinks, eyes scanning Sam head to toe.

“Dude,” Sam says, a little irritably. “What?”

“Nothing,” Dean says, too quickly to be believable. “I… nothing.”

“Sure,” huffs Sam, pulling his boxers on under his towel and then taking it off. “That’s believable. Not weird at all.”

You’re weird,” retorts Dean, which is weak even by his standards.

“Whatever,” says Sam, and pulls his pants on. “What are you looking at, anyway?”

“Huh?” Dean looks confused, narrowing his eyes at Sam.

“On the phone,” Sam clarifies, raising an eyebrow.

“Oh! Right,” Dean says, relief clear in his tone. “The phone, right, ‘course. Was just going through the news.”

“Looking for another case already?” Sam asks, surprised. “I thought we were heading home.”

Dean shrugs. “Only if you feel up to it,” he says. “There’s no hurry, right?”

“Right,” says Sam. He considers it for a moment, and then decides another case would be better than getting cabin fever in the bunker again. “So – find anything?”

“Maybe,” Dean says. “Look at this.” He waits till Sam’s next to him, looking down at his phone, and then says, “Animal attacks. Heart missing.”

“Werewolf,” Sam says at once.

“Yep,” replies Dean, popping the p. “Wanna go check it out?”

“Breakfast first,” Sam says. “I’m not agreeing to anything until I’ve had coffee.”

Dean just rolls his eyes. “Whatever you say, princess,” he says, but he’s grinning as he locks his phone and pockets it.

 

It’s late afternoon when they roll into town. They haven’t had lunch, so Dean drives straight to the first diner he sees before going anywhere else. It looks almost exactly like every other diner in the country, but there is a warm, homely scent to the air that hits them before they’ve even parked, and it makes Sam’s stomach grumble.

Dean grins as he slides into an empty parking spot. “Hungry?”

“Starving,” answers Sam. “Last meal we had was breakfast.”

“I did offer you snacks on the road,” Dean points out, shutting off the ignition.

“Gummy bears don’t count as a meal,” Sam retorts.

“’Course they do,” Dean says, and opens the door. Sam remains inside for a moment longer, putting away his power bank in his bag, and has just reached for the door when he sees Dean outside his window. For a moment it looks like Dean’s going to stop by the front tire, probably examine it, but then Dean reaches for the door handle and opens Sam’s door for him. “Come on, then,” he says. “Let’s go see what they’ve got.”

“I… sure, okay,” Sam says, getting out of the car. “Dude, did you just open my door for me?”

Dean shrugs, looking unconcerned. “Yeah, so?”

“Nothing,” Sam says, but he’s still confused. “It’s just… you don’t normally do that.”

“Well, if it’s bothering you I won’t do it again,” Dean says, and to Sam’s surprise, he looks more self-conscious than defensive.

“No, it’s not bothering me,” Sam tells him. “Just… never mind. It’s nothing.”

“Right, okay,” says Dean, still a little awkward, but then he opens the diner door for Sam too, and waits for him to enter before stepping in himself. Sam wants really badly to point this out too, but Dean is determinedly looking anywhere but at him, and Sam decides to drop it. If Dean wants to be chivalrous and gentlemanly, far be it from Sam to stop him.

 

Except it doesn’t stop there. Dean opens the diner door for him again on their way out, and then the car door too. When they reach a motel, Dean takes it up again, opening every door for Sam before Sam has a chance to get to it himself. It should bother Sam – this is not like Dean, at all – but there’s an overwhelmingly large part of him that likes it, that likes feeling like Dean’s doing this for him. He’s only ever seen Dean do all this stuff when he’s trying to charm a girl he really wants to get into bed with, and while he knows that’s not Dean’s intention here – well, sue him, it still feels good. If he were a weaker man, or someone less in touch with reality, he’d let himself believe that Dean’s trying to charm him, too, but, well, that’s not it. He knows that. It’s just that something as pesky as reality isn’t going to stop him from enjoying in the little things where he can.

Sam follows him into the motel’s front office, where Dean goes up to the counter and puts their card of the month on it. “Two queens,” he tells the girl sitting there.

She blinks. “What?”

“Two queens,” Dean enunciates, and then takes something else out of his pocket and puts it on the counter.

“Oh!” she says, as if something’s just dawned on her. “Right! Just a moment, sir—”

She turns around to look at the keys on the board behind her, and makes a humming sound. Sam wanders up to the desk just then, leaning against it with one elbow up on the counter, and Dean gives him a relaxed grin as they wait.

“Oh, I’m sorry, but we’re out of those,” the girl says a moment later, turning back around. “We’ve got a few rooms with kings though, if that’s all right?” She looks between them anxiously, as if expecting them to tell her that no, it’s not all right.

“Sammy?” Dean says. “That okay?”

“Uh.” For a moment Sam wants to protest, or insist that it’s fine, they can just sleep in the car, because no way in hell can he survive another night sharing a bed with Dean. But the girl’s looking at him, still with that expression that says she’s expecting a verbal beatdown because that’s what she’s used to when customers don’t get what they want, and Dean is looking at him too, waiting for him to answer, and Sam finds himself saying, “No, yeah, it’s fine. It’s fine.”

“Great,” says Dean, and turns to grin at the girl. “King it is, then, kiddo.”

She exhales, very obviously relieved, and then hands Dean a key. “Here you go, then, sir. Enjoy your stay.”

“Thanks,” Dean tells her brightly. “Come on, Sammy.”

He opens the door for Sam again. What’s weirder is the hand he puts on the small of Sam’s back, in a gesture that seems more intimate than casual. It’s not that he’s doing it for the first time; he’s done it before, a nonverbal way of guiding Sam or keeping him anchored when he’s hurt or confused or upset. But in this context, and paired with the doors thing, and the fact that the girl at the counter very obviously thinks they’re a couple… Sam finds his face heating up with the implication, and his traitorous heart soaring even as his stomach sinks at the prospect of another night in Dean’s space.

The universe really does hate him. There’s no other explanation.

 

The one thing – the only thing – Sam’s got going for him is that the case seems to be simple, at least. They dump all their stuff in the motel room, Dean cracks a joke about the hateful glances Sam keeps throwing at the bed, and then they go back out, hoping to hit the police station before it closes up.

“We’ve got a witness for the last one,” the deputy tells them – or rather, Agents Shaw and Gowan – as he leads them to the back of the station. “Says she saw the whole thing happen, but uh.” He lowers his voice. “Wouldn’t trust her if I were you, she claims it was a man with teeth and claws.”

“Huh,” says Dean. “Does she, now.”

The deputy nods seriously. “Yeah. Weird, honestly, she’s not the kind to make up stuff like that.” They’ve reached the conference room now; through the glass door Sam can see a pale woman in business casual seated at the table, fiddling with a paper cup. “Anyway, guess you guys can talk to her and find out for yourselves.”

“Thanks, Deputy,” Sam says, and offers him a polite smile.

To his surprise, the guy smiles back, wide and toothy. “Oh, you can call me Walter,” he tells Sam.

“Okaaaaaay,” Dean says, drawing out the last syllable. “Thank you, Walter.”

“Deputy Grayson to you,” Walter tells Dean, smile a bit icier, and then nods to Sam. “I’ll see you later, Agent.” He punctuates his sentence with a wink, and goes off.

“Weird,” comments Sam.

“Is it?” Dean questions, opening the conference room door for Sam. “I mean… you do look. You know. Not bad.”

Sam snorts. “Thanks, Dean. You make me blush.”

Whatever retort Dean’s got dies on his lips when the door closes behind them with a loud bang, effectively jolting them back to their current situation. The woman at the table looks up at them, scans them both up and down, and then goes back to her paper cup, which Sam now sees is empty and stained brown with coffee.

She reiterates the same story she’s given Walter aka Deputy Grayson, and very reluctantly elaborates on the appearance of the toothed and clawed man when gently pushed to do so by Sam. Dean notes it all down while Sam pats her hand comfortingly, reassuring her the whole time that they don’t think she’s cuckoo.

“Seems pretty open and shut to me,” Dean says when they’re out of the conference room.

Sam nods. “Yeah. Guess now all we do is find out where the guy lives, and—”

Dean mimes shooting someone. “Boom,” he says.

“You do that to all your suspects?” comes a voice, and both of them turn to see Walter standing there, an eyebrow raised at Dean.

“No, of course not,” Sam says quickly.

“Not unless we have to,” Dean adds. Sam elbows him, hard, and Dean lets out a hiss between his teeth before turning to Walter, giving him a pained smile, and amending, “Like, you know, in self-defense. Or whatever.”

“Right,” says Walter, not looking convinced. “Anyway. How’d it go?”

“Pretty informative, actually,” Sam tells him. “We should be done here soon, be out of your hair in no time.”

“Pity,” says Walter, and he actually looks disappointed.

“What, you want us hanging around, getting all up in your business?” Dean asks incredulously.

“Well, not both of you,” Walter tells him with a suggestive wink in Sam’s direction. “Just you, sugar.”

Sam, to his horror, realizes his face is warming up. The sight makes Walter grin wider, while Dean just scoffs and rolls his eyes.

“Seriously?” he complains.

“What’s your problem?” Walter asks him.

Dean throws his hands up. “Nothing,” he says, his tone suggesting he means the exact opposite.

“What, you guys together or something?” Walter asks Sam.

“Um, no,” Sam answers, and he’s damn sure his face is red. “No, we’re, um. I’m not looking for anything right now,” he says in the end.

“Well, damn, neither am I,” Walter replies, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Just a good time.”

“I’m not looking for that either,” Sam says, and then, because Walter looks quite disappointed, “Sorry.”

“What’re you sorry for?” Dean asks loudly.

“Uh,” says Sam intelligently.

“Come on, Sammy,” Dean continues, and his hand is back on Sam’s waist. “Let’s go find our killer.”

And with that, he all but steers Sam out of the police station, both of them pretending they can’t hear Walter mutter “Jealous bastard” just loud enough to be heard. Sam lets him do it, if only to escape from the situation, but the moment they’re by the car again he shakes Dean off and asks, “Dude, what is your problem?”

Dean raises an eyebrow. “What, you want Deputy Douchebag in there pawing all over you?”

“He wasn’t pawing – and anyway, I had it handled,” Sam tells him, crossing his arms.

“Handled,” Dean repeats flatly.

“Yeah,” Sam retorts. “He wasn’t, like, threatening me or anything—”

“He was hitting on you!” Dean bursts out.

“I know that!” Sam snaps. “And it wasn’t a big deal, okay?”

“I know it’s not a big deal!” Dean argues. “I just didn’t like it, okay?”

Why?” demands Sam. “People hit on you all the time, it doesn’t bother me!” Bullshit, but right now, making a point is more important than telling Dean the truth.

“Yeah, well, this is different, okay?” Dean says, wrenching open the car door rather forcefully.

“How?” Sam asks, uncrossing his arms to do the same on the other side.

Dean flounders for a moment, and then snaps, “It just is, okay!” and all but throws himself into the car.

“That makes no sense!” Sam exclaims, frustrated, but gets in too. “This whole argument makes no sense!”

“Then stop arguing!” Dean retorts, as if he’s not the one who started it.

“I’m not – ugh!”

The rest of the drive is silent. Dean fumes quietly all the way back to the motel, hands gripping the steering wheel tightly. Occasionally he lets out an inaudible but vehement curse, and Sam doesn’t miss how aggressive his driving is, how recklessly he’s taking turns he should be slowing down for. Rather than give in and ask him to calm down, though, Sam just grabs the handlebar above the window and steels himself for an unpleasant ride, shoulders and jaw set in determination.

Dean doesn’t open the door for Sam when they reach the motel, nor does he wait before storming into their motel room. Instead he just throws the door open and makes a beeline straight for the bathroom, slamming the door so loudly Sam’s afraid it’ll come off its hinges. It holds, though, and a moment later the shower starts up. Weird, considering Dean’s already showered this morning, but Sam’s too annoyed with him to call him out on it.

It’s not that he wanted to accept Walter’s offer. Sam’s not like Dean, he can go for a very long time without getting laid. More than half the time, he doesn’t even want it, and when he does, it’s nothing a good jerk-off session in the shower won’t solve. It’s just that… well. Dean’s acting a lot like a jealous, possessive lover, and it’s making that desperate thing inside of Sam spread its wings, take up space inside his chest until all he can do is yearn. It’s so hard to convince himself Dean will never want him when Dean is acting like that, putting hands on Sam and opening doors for him and getting pissy when other people try to hit on Sam.

And ugh, what if Sam had wanted to sleep with Walter? Dean should consider that, he thinks. Dean should really pay more attention to Sam’s body language and cues, and use it to figure out when Sam is okay with being hit on and when he isn’t. And well, okay, fine, Sam wasn’t enjoying being the center of Walter’s attention earlier, but – ugh.

This whole train of thought is making his head hurt. All he wants is to be angry at Dean, because it’s so much easier than wanting him, but he can’t, because Dean wasn’t wrong. He’d noticed Sam’s discomfort, and he’d stepped in, and Sam just bit his head off for it.

Great, now he’s feeling guilty on top of everything else.

Fuck his life, seriously.

The shower shuts off, and a moment later Dean exits the bathroom, towel wrapped around his waist. Sam inhales, long and deep, counts to ten inside his head, and then lets out his breath, keeping his eyes focused firmly on his brother’s face. “Dean?”

“What?” Dean asks, grumpy.

“I’m sorry,” Sam says, and it’s surprising enough that it stops Dean in his tracks. “For, um, earlier.”

“Oh.” Dean frowns for just a second, and then his expression clears. “Uh. It’s fine.”

“You were just looking out for me,” Sam goes on.

“Looking out for you,” Dean repeats, and then shakes his head a little. “Right. Yeah. That’s what I was doing.”

“And I shouldn’t have gotten mad at you for it,” Sam continues, though he’s just a little bit confused now thanks to the exasperated look on Dean’s face.

“Sam, I said it’s fine,” Dean tells him, though he’s no longer looking at him. “Just… forget about it. It’s fine.”

“You sure?”

Yeah, Sam.”

“Uh. Okay,” Sam says, thoroughly confused now. It feels a lot like he’s misreading the situation, but he can’t figure out how. Like reading French but mispronouncing every word until the language is no longer intelligible.

“Let’s go hunt us some werewolf, huh,” Dean says a moment later, pulling his boxers on.

“Okay,” Sam says.

Whatever this is, he’ll figure it out. Later.

 

They kill the werewolf, but the universe is out for Sam’s ass and someone hears the gunshots and calls it in, which leads to Walter and a couple other deputies descending on what was supposed to be a civilian-free zone. Dean makes a sound of disgust as he flicks the safety on his gun and puts it back in his belt, and Sam just sighs at the sight of the approaching patrol cars, lights on and sirens wailing.

“I hate when people show too much civic responsibility,” grumbles Dean. “And when cops show up in good time.”

“We’ll just say it was self-defense,” Sam says mildly. “I mean, it kind of was.”

Walter seems to buy it, thankfully. Now that Sam’s turned him down, his demeanor is all cool professionalism, and for that Sam is grateful. He doesn’t hit on Sam even once, just takes a statement from them in a detached manner, and when it’s all said and done, shoves his hands in his pockets. “You guys mind coming down to the station in the morning, helping with the paperwork and all?”

“Helping with the paperwork?” Dean raises an eyebrow. “Is that what the kids are calling it these days?”

A dull flush rises on Walter’s face. “That wasn’t a come-on,” he says defensively. “I meant actual paperwork.”

Dean doesn’t look convinced, but Sam doesn’t want this to turn into another thing, and so he just says, “Right, yeah, we’ll be there.” Lying through his teeth, of course, because in an hour he and Dean will be on the open road, and this town and Walter will be in the rearview mirror.

Walter sighs. “Look, uh. Agent.” He waits for Sam to look at him, and then continues, “I just want to apologize. For earlier. I probably made you uncomfortable, didn’t I?”

“It’s fine,” Sam says quickly.

“Thank you,” Walter says, with a small self-deprecating smile. “It’s just… you’re wearing that symbol, and I just thought…”

“What?” Dean asks, rather loudly.

“Nothing,” replies Walter. “Never mind.”

“No, go on,” Dean says. “What’s wrong with the amulet?”

“Nothing’s wrong with the amulet,” Walter answers, raising an eyebrow at Dean’s tone. “Just wondering, though, why wear it if you’re not, you know—” He waves a hand in the air as if to say you know what I mean.

“If I’m not what?” Sam asks, bewildered.

“Uh.” Walter looks at Sam, and then at Dean next to him. “You really don’t know what it means?”

“Guy I got it from says it’s for good luck,” Dean says, the aggression in his tone making way for confusion.

“I mean, yeah,” Walter replies. “But not just good luck.”

“Then what?” Sam asks. Please dear God oh please don’t let it be cursed, Sam’s got enough shit on his plate to deal with at the moment—

Walter looks at Sam, then at Dean, and again at Sam. “Okay, uh, this may sound weird, but hear me out.” He ensures he’s got their attention, and continues, “So I’m interested in some occult and mythology stuff, right, and, well, that symbol?” He nods at the amulet around Sam’s neck, nestled in the dip of his collarbone. “It’s Oshun’s symbol.”

“The Yoruba goddess?” Sam interjects, surprised.

“So you do know,” Walter says.

“Know what?” Dean sounds impatient now. “Just spit it out, man.”

“Oshun is the Yoruba goddess of…” Walter trails off, leveling an expectant look at Sam.

“Uh…” Sam racks his brains. “Rivers and fresh water.”

“And?” Walter asks, tone deliberate.

“Um, luxury, and fertility, and uh…”

And then it hits Sam.

“…sexuality, beauty, and love,” he finishes. His face is flushing again.

Walter nods. “Yeah. That’s why I thought… but I think it was a misunderstanding.”

“Yeah,” Sam says slowly. His thoughts are all jumbled up inside his mind, have been for the past few days, but now they finally seem to be untangling themselves.

Walter waits a couple seconds, but when neither Sam nor Dean say anything, he removes his hands from his pockets and just sort of throws them up in the air. “Anyway. Thanks for all your help, I guess.”

“You’re welcome,” Sam answers woodenly, still lost in thought.

Neither of them speak until they’re back in the Impala. The first few minutes of the drive are spent in absolute crushing silence, and then Dean says, “So I accidentally got you a sex charm.”

It’s a weak attempt at humor, and Sam does not respond to it. Instead he says, “Do you think that’s why so many people have been hitting on me? Because of the amulet?”

“Dude, I doubt that many people know what the symbol is,” Dean says. “We didn’t, and this is literally our job.”

“No, I don’t mean it that way,” Sam clarifies. “I mean… what if the amulet works, Dean?”

“What do you mean?” Dean asks, glancing at Sam before turning back to the road.

“You got it ‘cause it’s meant to be a good luck charm, right?” Sam says, thinking out loud. “And I mean… our luck has been really good so far. On cases and stuff, I mean. We just went on two cases, man, and neither of us got so much as a scratch. And poltergeists and werewolves aren’t exactly amateur stuff, you know? So maybe it’s because the amulet actually works.”

“Ah.” Dean is quiet for a few more moments, and then he asks, “So you think that’s why people kept hitting on you?”

“Yeah,” admits Sam. “I mean… that doesn’t usually happen, you know?”

“Dunno why,” Dean says after a pause. “You’re not exactly… sore on the eyes, you know.”

Something clicks in place inside Sam, heavy and horrifying. The way Dean’s been acting lately, starting from the morning of Sam’s birthday, right after gifting him the amulet…

“Fuck,” he says heavily.

It’s so uncharacteristic of him to curse out loud the way he does that it has Dean looking over at him in concern. “Sammy?”

Fuck,” Sam repeats. “Dean… you too. Shit. You too.”

“Me too what?” Dean asks, still looking at Sam and not at the road. At least he slows the car down a little, which is not as comforting as it should be. In this moment Sam thinks he wouldn’t mind dying in a fiery car crash.

“I think the amulet is affecting you too,” Sam says. The realization tastes like blood in his mouth.

They’re at the motel now. Dean eases the car into a parking spot just outside their door, and asks, “You mean like, I’m lucky too?”

“Yeah,” Sam says. His mouth is so dry. His chest hurts. “And the rest of it, too.”

“Hold that thought,” Dean says, opening his door. “I’m gonna get our stuff and check us out, okay? Wait here.”

Sam just nods instead of answering. He watches Dean go into their room and reemerge two minutes later with their duffels. He remains quiet as Dean deposits their bags in the trunk, and just watches his brother go up to the front desk, smile at the girl, and hand their keys back. He watches her as she asks him something, and he sees Dean laugh as he replies, and he doesn’t miss the wink she gives him.

God, he bribed her. They’ve got rooms with two queens. Dean paid her to lie.

The lights are too damn bright, and at the same time the world appears muted. Every sound feels too loud and yet also like it’s reaching him through a haze. Dean returns to the car, gets in; the sound of the door closing makes Sam’s heart lurch in his chest.

“So,” Dean says, backing out of their parking spot. “You were saying?”

Sam takes a deep breath instead of answering, and then another. “It’s… it’s nothing,” he says in the end. His own voice sounds so far away, and he’s only just aware enough of it to be thankful that it’s not trembling, not like his hands knotted tightly in his lap. “Just…”

Dean gives him a few moments, and then asks, “Just what, Sammy?”

Two nights spent in the same bed as Dean. Did he bribe the front desk at the first motel too?

“Nothing,” Sam says again. “Nothing, Dean.”

“Dude, you okay?” Dean sounds concerned. “Sam?”

Sam lets out a wet, mirthless laugh. It feels like it shreds his throat on its way out.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not fucking fair.

“Sammy?”

Dean holding open doors for him, touching him, getting irrationally jealous at other people checking him out—

The amulet is cool against his skin, and yet it feels like its branding him.

“Sam?”

“Stop the car,” Sam says hoarsely.

“What?”

“Stop the car,” Sam repeats, and then, because Dean still looks uncertain, “please.”

The plea in his tone gets through; Dean slows down and turns, eventually coming to a stop on the side of the road. They’re on the highway already, God knows how many miles out of that small town, Walter in the rearview mirror—

Sam throws open the door even before the Impala’s rolled to a complete stop, and scrambles out of the car in an attempt to put as much space as he can between himself and Dean. At the same time his fingers are groping desperately at his neck, until they find the leather cord of the amulet and pull until it snaps. The amulet is cold in Sam’s hand, glinting in the moonlight, and suddenly Sam can’t stand the sight of it.

“Sam—”

“Pop the trunk,” Sam demands.

“What are you doing?” Dean asks, completely bewildered as he steps outside too.

“Pop the trunk, Dean!” Sam yells, sounding desperate even to his own ears.

Dean does so, looking like he’s afraid Sam’s having a breakdown of some kind, and well, Sam can’t really blame him, can he? It’s not like Dean’s wrong, after all, he thinks hysterically as he rummages for lighter fluid in his bag. Because Sam is breaking down, because this is just one thing too many, because he’s spent so long trying to keep himself in check and all of it is for fucking nothing, and he’d let himself hope, and it wasn’t real. None of it was ever real.

Sam’s hands are shaking too hard for him to do anything with them, and he almost drops the lighter fluid twice, but in the end he manages to throw the amulet down to the edge of the road. It lies there in the mud, glinting maliciously up at him, so shiny in the moonlight, so fucking fake, and Sam’s hands are trembling, and his heart aches as he upends the bottle of lighter fluid, drenching the amulet in it.

“Sam, what the hell are you doing?” Dean asks, coming to stand by Sam’s side. He reaches out, hand coming for Sam’s arm, and Sam can’t help it; he flinches away.

“Don’t,” he says, and is not surprised to hear the hitch in his voice. “Dean, don’t.”

“Sammy?” Now Dean sounds hurt, and guilt is an eighteen-wheeler against Sam’s body, and he hurts so much, he just needs all of this to be over—

How he manages to ignite the lighter he’s not sure, but he does it, and it’s all too easy to let it fall to the ground. The lighter fluid catches the flames immediately, and so does the amulet, and it’s still so shiny, so pretty in the moonlight and the firelight, even as it begins melting, and Sam has never hated an object so much before, never.

He keeps staring at it, watching it dissolve into the earth until it’s nothing but a small pool of molten metal. The fire flickers out too, dampened by the wet ground, and Sam notes with satisfaction that the remains of the amulet are no longer shiny. It no longer catches any kind of light, and probably never will.

Sam puts his foot over it and stamps it even further into the ground.

“Sam?” Dean sounds like he’s freaking out. “Sammy, what the hell is going on, what are you doing, can you just talk to me—”

No, Sam wants to tell him. No, Dean, I can’t. I won’t, I can’t, all I want is to pretend this never happened.

Instead, he stumbles backwards until his thighs hit the rear fender of the Impala, and then he slides down to the ground. The tremble in his hands has taken over his whole body now. The ground is cold under him, and the Impala warm at his back, and his heart is a dead weight inside his chest.

“I fixed it,” he whispers. “I fixed it, Dean, it’s okay now.”

“Fixed what? What’s okay?” Dean sounds honestly bewildered as he kneels next to Sam, careful not to touch him. That hurts, but considering Sam’s the one who asked him to keep away, he doesn’t get to fucking complain.

“Things can go back to how they were,” he tells Dean. His voice is miraculously still steady. “And me and you, we’ll – we’ll be okay.” Or Dean will be. It’s going to be a long time before Sam can look at himself in the mirror again and not feel like shit.

“Sam, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Dean sounds helpless, almost pleading, and it tugs at what’s left of Sam’s heart, makes him pull his gaze up to look at his brother. Dean’s on his knees next to him, his hand inches away from Sam’s knee, twitching like it’s hurting him not to reach out and touch. Worry and concern for Sam are scrawled across Dean’s forehead in neat lines, and his lower lip looks like he’s been biting at it in his frustration.

Instead of answering Sam just nudges the pile of burnt dirt by his foot. “I fixed it,” he repeats, and closes his eyes, letting his head fall back against the Impala. “You’ll be okay.”

“I am okay,” Dean tells him, and he sounds desperate, same tone as stone number one, spooked-animal nonsensical little brother voice—

“Yeah.”

“Sam…”

Sam opens his eyes, looks at the thinly-veiled fear in Dean’s eyes. “You bribed her,” he whispers, voice catching in his throat. “The girl at the motel.”

Dean blanches. “Sammy—”

“And you kept opening doors for me,” Sam interrupts, not wanting to hear Dean struggle to come up with excuses for his behavior. Not when he knows the reason. “And you got so mad at all those people asking me out.”

Dean sighs, long and slow. “Yeah,” he says, resigned, not meeting Sam’s eyes. “Yeah, Sam.”

“But it’s okay,” Sam tells him. “I burned the amulet, I fixed it—”

“Will you stop saying that!”

Dean sounds so exasperated suddenly that Sam is thrown for a loop. Dean looks a little angry now, and his hand has curled into a fist, and his face is flushed. “Stop saying you fixed it, Sam! There’s nothing wrong with me!”

Sam stares. “No, you don’t understand,” he tries. “The amulet—”

“You think I did all that stuff because of the amulet?” Dean asks incredulously.

“Why else would you—” Sam’s head feels heavy now, brain foggy. This isn’t making sense. None of this is making sense.

Dean lunges forward, grabs Sam by the shoulders, and shakes him a little. “Why do you think?” he demands. “Come on, Sammy, use that freakish fast brain of yours, man.”

Sam doesn’t understand.

“All of that stuff I was doing, it’s ‘cause… fuck, Sammy, it’s because I wanted to, okay?” Dean tells him, not waiting for a response. “Because I wanted to, you understand me?”

Sam blinks, and then exhales. Nothing makes sense.

“Why?” he asks.

Dean lets out a sound of frustration. “God, Sammy, you dumbass—” And then his hands go from Sam’s shoulders up to his face. “You stupid idiot—”

Sam’s brain cycles through a whirlwind of emotions and then decides to settle on affront. “Don’t yell at me!” he tells Dean in weak indignation, shoving a little at his chest in a half-hearted effort to push him off. “Don’t, Dean, don’t yell at me—”

And, to his horror, a tear slips down his cheek.

Dean softens immediately. “Sammy,” he says, and now he sounds gentle, and it should feel good, it should comfort him, but it doesn’t, and Sam doesn’t know why. The world is too loud and the streetlights are too fucking bright and he’s still shaking like a leaf, and the cherry on top of this shitfest is that he’s fucking crying too, now.

“I just want it to be okay,” he tells Dean, and his voice breaks on the last word. “Me and you. I want us to be okay.”

“Why wouldn’t we be?” Dean asks, taking his hands off Sam’s face. Sam misses the contact immediately, but then a second later Dean’s gently taking his hands, holding them between his own. Sam doesn’t fail to notice how the trembling in his fingers begins easing up almost immediately, his traitorous body responding to Dean the way it’s wired to do so.

Sam slumps a little against the Impala. “Because I want you,” he says quietly. “And you don’t think of me that way, and that’s okay. I was okay with that. But then it looked like you did, and – and it wasn’t real. It wasn’t real.”

For a moment Dean just stares at him, mouth falling open in stunned surprise. Sam looks back for a few seconds and then drops his gaze again. He doesn’t think he can handle watching Dean’s expression morph into pity, doesn’t think he can bear having to listen to Dean let him down, in that gentle tone he uses when something is really wrong with Sam—

Then Dean’s hands are back on his face, and Sam blinks, looks up, because Dean’s not saying anything, and this is not going the way he thought it would—

And then Dean kisses him.

Sam’s heart stops, hands freezing in midair halfway up to Dean’s shirt. Dean’s mouth is uncertain on his, testing, and his hands are gentle on Sam’s face, his touch so light it’s barely there at all. He presses his lips to Sam’s, thumb stroking over Sam’s cheekbone, and then he stills, waiting.

A second passes. Then another. A third.

The world is so quiet.

Then Dean exhales, shaky and uncertain, and draws back. Sam’s heart restarts with a vengeance, throwing itself forward against his sternum in a rush of adrenaline, and everything else in the world comes screaming back – the idling of the Impala’s engine, the cars on the highway speeding past, the sound of Dean’s breath in the space between them.

“Sam?” He sounds unsure now, frightened. “Sammy? Was that… was that okay?”

Sam’s brain comes back online, taking command over his body; he fists his hands in Dean’s shirt and surges forward, mouth crashing into Dean’s and catching him by surprise. Dean almost falls backwards from the momentum, but manages to steady himself just in time, and leans into the kiss as he responds to it. He moves forward and plants his knees into the floor next to Sam’s hip, body twisting awkwardly sideways as he kisses Sam back, and Sam’s neck is beginning to hurt a little from the angle, but Dean tastes like whiskey and smoke and home and Sam can’t get enough, can’t stop—

He’s gasping for breath when they finally stop. Dean closes his eyes, rests his forehead against Sam’s, and they remain like that for a few moments, trying to come down from the high. Dean’s breath is hot on Sam’s face and he’s slowly stroking Sam’s face with his thumbs, drawing lines across his cheekbones; the moment feels so absolutely clear, and yet Sam can’t help but clutch at Dean’s shirt, and whisper, “Is this real?”

Dean exhales slowly. “Sammy,” he says, and his voice is so tender it cracks with it. “Sammy, baby… of course it’s real. Always been real. Always.”

The nickname combined with Dean’s use of the word “baby” has Sam shaking again, though he can’t explain why. He inhales, and then bites his lip hard, reminding himself that if Dean’s saying it, then it’s real. Dean’s his stone number one. If Dean’s saying it, then it is real.

He opens his eyes. Dean is looking back at him, impossibly green and bright, and he’s got a slight smile on his face as he watches Sam, waits for him to sort himself out.

“I thought…” Sam begins slowly, and then trails off. “Thought maybe it’s the amulet,” he says a moment later, looking away.

“Hey.” Dean puts a hand under his chin and guides his face up, reestablishes eye contact. “Sammy. If it was the amulet, why would I have kissed you after you’d burned it?”

“I don’t know,” Sam whispers. “I just… it didn’t make sense to me. Any of it.”

“Which part?”

“Any of it,” Sam repeats, a little helpless. “You were doing all these things you don’t usually do, and it made me think…”

“That I was, what, courting you?” Dean finishes.

It sounds extremely ridiculous when Dean says it like that, but Sam nods anyway.

“Well, I was,” Dean tells him with a soft laugh. “I actually was, Sam. I thought you knew.”

“I did, but—” He makes a floppy gesture in the vague direction of where the amulet’s remains lie in the mud.

Dean turns to look at where Sam’s pointing, and when he turns back there is a determined expression on his face. “Fuck that amulet,” he says fiercely, and takes his hand off Sam’s chin to push his hair back from his face. He lets his hand stay when he’s done, his palm warm on Sam’s skin. “It doesn’t mean anything, all right? It doesn’t change a single damn thing. I was in love with you way before you ever put it on, and that hasn’t changed now that it’s gone—”

Sam’s brain screeches to a halt. “Say that again,” he says, grip tightening in Dean’s shirt.

“What?” Dean asks, frowning. “Say what—”

“What you just said,” Sam says, pretty much pleading at this point, but he needs to hear it again, to know

Dean’s expression clears as he understands. “I’m in love with you,” he tells Sam immediately. “Sammy, fuck, I’m in love with you.”

Sam laughs out loud, free and unselfconscious and lighter than he’s felt in longer than he can count. “Me too, Dean,” he says, and it’s the weight of the world off his chest to finally admit it out loud like this. “Me too, Dean, I love you too, I love you too—”

And Dean laughs too, and it’s the best sound Sam’s ever heard, and he can’t help but kiss Dean again, because he wants to, because he can, because it’s all real and for once, for once in his life Sam’s getting what he wants. And Dean’s kissing him back, doing something with his tongue that’s totally short-circuiting Sam’s brain, making his fingers curl in Dean’s shirt, and the Impala is warm at his back, anchoring him even as he feels he could just float away—

“Sammy,” Dean says breathlessly when they part, “not that I’m not loving this, baby, but my knees hurt, and it’s uncomfortable out here – can we just—”

“Yes,” laughs Sam. “Yes, God, yeah—” He pecks Dean’s lips once, and then gets to his feet at the same time as Dean.

They don’t talk until they’re back in the car. The two of them sit completely still for a few seconds, unsure of how to proceed now. Then Sam asks, voice a little hoarse, “What now?” He’s almost irrationally afraid that, now that they’re off the ground and in the car, Dean’s going to change his mind, that whatever just happened was some weird aftereffect of the amulet—

“Well, we go home, I guess,” Dean answers him.

“And then?” Sam asks, trying not to give away how much he’s afraid of the answer.

But Dean, it seems, understands – and that shouldn’t be as surprising as it is, thinks Sam wryly. They’ve always been in tune, since the moment of Sam’s birth, possibly even before; their souls, intertwined before they’d even been born, so tangled up that they are impossible to separate without thoroughly corrupting whatever is left behind.

Dean reaches out, takes Sam’s hand, and laces their fingers together. “And then I’m probably going to kiss you some more,” he says, half-grinning.

Sam laughs again. “Well, okay,” he says, a little shy now. “Sounds good to me.”

“’Course it does, I’m an excellent kisser,” Dean says, grinning wider. He untangles his fingers from Sam’s to put the car in drive, and then takes his hand again. Like it’s something they do all the time, something completely normal, and Sam loves it.

“You’re not too bad, yeah,” he tells Dean, grinning at the mock-affronted look Dean throws him.

“Not too bad?” Dean repeats incredulously. “Not too bad? Just you wait till we’re home, Sammy, I’ll have you seeing fucking stars.”

Sam’s reaction to that is to blush furiously from head to toe, his whole body warming up at the implications. Dean’s got that cocksure look on his face, the one Sam’s fantasized about having aimed at him, and now that it is, he can’t even begin to process it. It’s making his whole body tingle intensely, especially his lips, and his heart is going a mile a minute in his chest again. He can’t remember the last time he felt like this.

“Look at you.” Dean says with a grin. “Sure doesn’t look like I’m just an okay kisser.”

“Shut up,” Sam mumbles, face heating up further. “You’re the worst.”

Dean cackles at that. “Am I, though? ‘Cause it sure don’t look like it, baby.”

Ugh, that nickname is not helping.

“You like that?” Dean looks amused now. “Like me calling you baby?”

Sam’s breath actually catches in his throat. To his horror, the heat in his body starts to accumulate in his groin. He squirms a little, trying to hide it from Dean, but the movement jostles their joined hands and Dean looks over, gaze growing heavy as his eyes fall on Sam’s lap.

“Guess you do, huh,” he says, and he sounds a little surprised. More than that, though, he sounds smug as he continues, “What else do you like, baby?”

The heat grows; Sam’s pants feel tighter.

“How about sweetheart?” asks Dean. “You like that?”

Yes. Yes he fucking does. Oh God he’s burning up.

“You’re an asshole,” he tells Dean, and hates that it sounds like he’s whining.

“Mm, you love me anyway, sweetheart,” Dean says, teasing.

“The worst,” sighs Sam. He’s half-hard already, and that’s just from Dean’s nicknames and that smirk on his face. He doesn’t even want to know what’s going to happen to him when Dean really starts making an effort. He’ll spontaneously combust, probably. He’s beginning to discover a sudden sympathy for all the women who’ve been taken in by that smirk over the years; poor things never stood a chance.

Dean glances over at him again and sees how he’s half-heartedly covering his lap with his free hand. He swallows, Adam’s apple bobbing, and then looks back at the road. A second later the car swerves suddenly, all but throwing Sam into Dean’s side.

“What the hell, Dean?” Sam asks, righting himself. He frowns as he notices that Dean’s taken an exit instead of continuing straight as planned. “Where are we going?”

Dean keeps his eyes straight on the road. “Motel.”

“Motel?” Sam repeats.

“Fuck yeah, motel, Sam, you expect me to wait till we’re home when you look like that?” Dean all but snaps, and Sam understands that he’s not the only one who’s been trying to hide a growing boner this whole time. It’s just easier for Dean because of the steering wheel just over his lap.

“No, yeah, motel is good,” he says quickly. “Motel sounds perfect.”

This time Sam follows Dean inside, but not before he buttons up his flannel overshirt. It’s just long and loose enough to cover his crotch, but for good measure he shoves his hands into his pockets as well, angling them forward to hide the boner. Dean, on the other hand, goes to no such lengths, instead strutting up to the front desk with the tent in his pants on full display. Shameless bastard.

“A king,” he tells the gangly guy at the counter.

“Uh…” The guy looks at the smirk Dean’s wearing, and then to Sam’s flushed face. “We’re actually out of kings, sir.”

The smirk melts off Dean’s face so fast it’s almost comical. “You what, now?” he asks the guy, tone completely flat.

“We’re out of kings,” the guy repeats, looking a little nervous now. “Um. Two queens all right?”

Dean actually looks betrayed, like this is all a conspiracy against him. Sam would laugh if it wasn’t for the fucking irony. All this time bribing motels to give him rooms with kings, and now that he finally needs one, it’s not available.

“You can push the beds together,” the cashier suggests, awkwardly rubbing the back of his neck.

“Not really the same thing, is it?” Dean asks, glaring.

Sam steps forward to intervene before Dean can do something drastic like forcibly evict someone else from a king room. “Dean,” he murmurs, putting a hand on his arm, and then looks up to smile at the cashier. “Two queens is fine.”

“Okay,” says the cashier, visibly relieved. “Cash or card?”

Dean slams a card down on the counter with unnecessary force.

“Dean!”

“What?” Dean says loudly. “I’m horny, Sam!”

Sam chokes; the cashier does too. Undeterred, Dean goes on, “What the fuck, man? The one time I could actually use a kingsize, I get two queens?”

“It’s what you deserve, after all that underhanded bullshit,” Sam tells him, raising an eyebrow.

“Whose side are you on?” Dean complains.

“I wasn’t aware there were sides,” Sam retorts. His hand is still on Dean’s arm.

“Your keycard!” the cashier says loudly, putting it down on the counter along with Dean’s card. “Enjoy your stay! We apologize for the inconvenience! Complimentary breakfast tomorrow morning!”

“You don’t have to shout, Shaggy, we get it,” Dean tells him with an eyeroll, grabbing the keycard and credit card off the counter and taking Sam’s hand. “Come on, Sammy. Let’s go perform manual labor before we can get to the fun part of tonight.”

“Sorry,” Sam mouths to the cashier over his shoulder as he’s led away. The kid is possibly even redder in the face than Sam himself.

Dean continues his bitching right up till they enter the room, at which point he lets go of Sam’s hand so he can facepalm. “Who the fuck,” he says, tone dangerously whiny, “thinks putting both night tables between the beds is a good idea? Who?”

“Uh,” is all Sam says. It has just occurred to him that yes, this is really happening, they’re going to push the two beds together, and then they’re going to—oh holy shit, they’re going to have sex. In all of Sam’s fantasies he’s never actually gotten this far, since he never saw the point in it – what would he gain by hurting himself like that when Dean would never want him back, let alone want to sleep with him? All of this is completely uncharted territory, even in Sam’s thoughts and dreams, and now that he’s here in this moment, he has no idea what to do.

He just stands there awkwardly in the middle of the room, arms by his sides, while Dean goes on, “Seriously, that free breakfast better be the best thing I’ve ever put in my fucking mouth, or I’m going to—Sam?”

Sam blinks, focusing on Dean. “Yeah?”

“You all right?” Dean asks, taking a step closer to him.

“I’m fine,” Sam answers automatically.

Dean frowns, biting his lip as he thinks, and Sam has to look away from the sight, from Dean’s teeth worrying at his full lower lip. His heart is speeding up again, his anxiety returning.

“Hey,” Dean says, and Sam looks back up at him. “Sammy.” He reaches out, takes Sam’s hand again. “It’s okay, you know. We don’t have to do anything right now. It’s all right.”

“I…” Sam hesitates. “I want to,” he says a moment later. And it’s true; he’s still half-hard. “I’m just…”

“Nervous?” finishes Dean.

“Kinda,” Sam admits.

“That’s all right,” Dean tells him again, and then leans in to kiss him softly. “It’s okay, Sammy. Just… just tell me what you want, okay? Tell me what you need me to do.”

Sam closes his eyes, kisses him back. “I just want you,” he tells him truthfully, and feels his heart slow at once now that the words are out in the air between them. “Dean, I just want you.”

Dean’s breath hitches, and that makes Sam open his eyes to look at him. Dean’s looking at him with his mouth slightly open, and he looks startled, like that’s the last thing he’d been expecting to hear. “Sammy…”

“It’s true,” Sam assures him quickly, closing the last inch between them so that their foreheads are touching.

“I know,” Dean answers. “I know, baby, I know.” He’s still got Sam’s hand in his, and his other hand is resting on Sam’s hip. He kisses Sam again. “But I need you to be sure, all right? I don’t want you to feel like you’ve gotta do anything you don’t want—”

“Dean.” Sam grabs the hand at his hip and moves it so that it’s now over his crotch. “I want it. See?”

Dean’s hand goes completely still for a moment, and then he says, “I, uh. Yeah. I see.” He releases Sam’s hand, and begins unbuckling his belt. “Should maybe get a closer look, though. Just to be sure.”

That makes Sam laugh, a shaky, somewhat breathless sound – Dean’s fingers this close to his dick is making his brain short-circuit. “What happened to pushing the beds together?” he asks Dean.

“Fuck the beds,” is Dean’s eloquent retort as he gets the button of Sam’s jeans open and pulls the zipper down. “Fuck king-sized beds, fuck manual labor—” He’s punctuating each word with a kiss, lips grazing against Sam’s mouth, his jaw, the side of his neck, making his entire body erupt in goosebumps, heart speeding up again

And then Dean’s hands are on his dick, and Sam stops breathing.

“Hey,” Dean says, sounding amused, as he wraps his fingers around Sam’s cock and begins stroking it to full hardness. “Guess that freak growth spurt of yours didn’t miss anything.”

“Is that a good thing?” Sam asks, sighing as his head falls forward against Dean’s shoulder.

“A good thing?” Dean’s hand pauses. “The best. Fucking hell, Sammy.” He nudges Sam’s head up with his shoulder so he can kiss him, and then he takes his hands off Sam to grab his arms and turn him around so that his back is to the bed.

The movement spurs Sam into action too, and he begins fumbling with Dean’s belt. It’s a little awkward, mostly because the bulge in Dean’s pants is huge and it’s giving Sam palpitations already trying to figure out how he’s going to get through tonight. But he powers through, eventually managing to unzip Dean’s pants. After that he’s not sure how to proceed, though, so he just puts his palm over Dean’s crotch and hopes for inspiration.

Dean makes a choking sound that has Sam looking up immediately. His brother’s face is flushed, eyes bright, and he’s looking at Sam like he can’t quite believe what’s happening.

“What?” Sam asks, suddenly self-conscious. He makes to withdraw his hand, but Dean grabs it at once and puts it back, before hooking his fingers into Sam’s pants and boxers and pushing them down.

“Off,” he murmurs, pressing his lips to Sam’s jaw again, and the way it makes Sam’s heart thrill chases away the last of his doubts; he reciprocates, divesting Dean of his pants and briefs too, both of them making awkward kicking movements trying to get their clothes off.

“Uh,” Sam says after a moment. “I’m still wearing shoes.”

Dean huffs, holding on to Sam’s shoulders for balance as he kicks one leg really aggressively in the air. “Me too,” he grumbles, and Sam laughs when he realizes that Dean’s pants are stuck around his ankle.

“Should’ve led with the shoes,” he jokes, his own hands on Dean’s shoulders as he toes his shoes off and then steps out of his pants.

“Are you kidding?” Dean asks incredulously. “That’s so not sexy, Sammy. You have any idea how long we’ve been in the car for? You want me to smell your gross-ass socks?”

“Well, you’re going to have to smell them anyway,” Sam retorts.

“Yeah but I saw your dick, so that makes it better,” Dean explains in a tone that indicates Sam’s an idiot. He’s finally managed to get his pants off, and they go flying across the room along with a half-laced boot.

“What now?” Sam asks. They both just stand there for a few moments, still wearing shirts and socks, and Sam’s sure they look extremely stupid.

“Now we sit down and watch TV, obviously,” Dean retorts with an eyeroll, before grabbing a handful of Sam’s flannel and pushing it down over his shoulders.

“Don’t be a dick,” Sam tells him, taking his undershirt off.

“Sammy, I’m all dick right now,” Dean says with an unholy smirk, and Sam groans.

“Lame. So lame.”

He can’t believe he was nervous about this. It’s still Dean, still his brother who makes stupid jokes and can’t resist teasing him even when they’re undressing each other. It’s still his big brother, and that one thing is always going to be a constant in Sam’s life no matter what else changes. It’s that more than anything else that puts him at ease, makes him take a few deep breaths and tell himself, it’s Dean. It’s Dean, and you know him, and he knows you, and it’ll be okay. It’s Dean.

“Oh fuck, you’re overthinking something right now, aren’t you?” Dean accuses, and Sam comes back to himself. Dean’s taken his socks off too and is now standing there with his arms crossed across his chest, glaring at Sam.

“No, I wasn’t,” he tells Dean, and sits down on the edge of the bed so he can peel his socks off his feet. They don’t stink too bad, but just for the hell of it Sam balls them up and throws them in Dean’s general direction, taking great pleasure in the high-pitched yelp Dean lets out as he moves to dodge them. “Very manly,” Sam teases him, grinning up at him.

“I’ll show you manly,” Dean growls, surging forward and all but throwing himself at Sam. Sam’s back hits the bed hard, knocking the air out of him, and then a moment later Dean is on top of him, propping himself up with his elbows on either side of Sam’s head.

Dean’s body is hot and heavy on Sam’s, and Sam can feel the hard length of his erection against his belly. His own cock is trapped between them, and every time Dean makes even the smallest movement it sends electricity throughout Sam’s body. He tries to move his hips upwards in an attempt to get more friction, but Dean is too heavy on top of him, his body literally pinning Sam to the mattress.

And shit, Sam likes that. He really fucking likes that.

“You don’t know how long I’ve wanted this for,” Dean whispers, and kisses Sam.

“Yeah?” Sam asks against his lips, wrapping his arms around Dean’s upper body.

“Feels like forever,” Dean tells him, kissing the corner of his mouth. “Years and years, Sammy. So fucking long.”

“I didn’t know,” Sam whispers, closing his eyes at the sensation of Dean’s stubble against his jaw. “I thought— thought it was just me.”

“Wasn’t just you, baby,” Dean tells him, nipping at his jaw, and fuck, Sam’s brain is beginning to shut down. “You think it was just that amulet? Fuck that amulet, Sammy, it didn’t do shit.

He shifts, and the movement makes his cock rub against Sam’s, and he can’t help the low whine that escapes him at that. “Do that again,” he tells Dean a little breathlessly, opening his eyes.

Dean grins at him. “Do what?” he asks innocently. “This?” He grinds down a little.

“Fucker,” Sam says, digging his nails into Dean’s back and making him gasp. “Don’t fucking tease me.”

I’m teasing you?” Dean growls, grinding down again. He presses his lips to the side of Sam’s neck and then kisses the spot, and there’s a hint of teeth to it. “Me? And what about you, huh?”

“What did I do?” Sam protests. He has no idea how he’s managing a conversation right now, what with the way Dean is moving against him.

“You don’t even fucking know,” Dean tells him. His pupils are so blown that Sam can barely see any of the green. “Don’t even know the fucking torture you put me through, huh? Bad enough that you can make old jeans and plaid look good, and then you go on and you put on that shirt and those shorts and you make me watch you do your stretchy bullshit—”

Sam’s mind flashes back to his birthday morning, when Dean had interrupted his yoga, and suddenly his weird behavior makes sense. Sam laughs out loud, and then says, “I didn’t make you watch, you know.”

“Shut up,” Dean says. “Like all that’s not bad enough, I gotta see all these people hit on you? Right after I see you hanging around in the world’s tiniest towel? Fuck that. Fuck that.”

The low growl in his tone goes straight to Sam’s dick. “Didn’t want any of them,” he tells Dean, inclining his face upwards so he can kiss Dean. “Don’t want anyone else, Dean. Just you.”

Dean kisses him back, hard and possessive, his hips going still as he focuses all his attention on making Sam melt into the mattress. “Don’t need no damn amulet to find you pretty,” he murmurs against Sam’s lips. “Always have.”

“I didn’t even know you were looking,” Sam whispers. There is a sudden lump in his throat that’s choking him up a little.

“Sweetheart,” says Dean, and his voice is gentle, filled with love. He kisses Sam again, and then smiles down at him. “Of course I was looking. Always have been.”

“Dean,” begins Sam, and then stops. What could he ever say to that? He doesn’t think there are even words, in any language, that could describe how he feels right now.

So instead he just kisses Dean again, and Dean responds instantaneously, burying one hand in Sam’s hair. He shifts to deepen the kiss and Sam moans into his mouth, his own fingers gripping at the short hair on the nape of Dean’s neck. Dean’s hips are bearing down on him again, and he doesn’t think he can last much longer if this goes on. And it’s not just the friction on his cock — it’s the kiss, too, searing hot and intense, Dean’s tongue in his mouth, his fingernails scratching at Sam’s scalp—

Just when Sam thinks he can’t take it anymore, Dean stops, turning his head to the side as he breathes harshly. Sam’s own breath is coming in pants, and he feels lightheaded from it, from the kiss and the lack of oxygen and Dean’s body on his.

“Sammy,” Dean says a little hoarsely. “I really, really wanna fuck you right now.”

“Dean,” Sam says, and he sounds just as wrecked. “I really, really want you to.”

There is a pause as they both process this. Then Dean grins down at Sam, wide and bright, and presses a kiss to the corner of his mouth before rolling to the side and getting off him. Sam braces his elbows on the bed and raises his head and shoulders, watching as Dean makes his way to his bag, lying abandoned barely two steps into the room. “What are you doing?” he asks.

In response, Dean pulls something out and holds it up. “This,” he announces.

Sam takes a closer look, and he can’t help the laughter that bubbles up when he sees what it is. “You’ve been carrying lube around? What for?”

“Exactly this situation,” Dean tells him with a grin, looking very proud of himself for being prepared. It’s endearing.

“What, you were this confident everything would work out?” Sam asks.

“I’d hoped,” Dean tells him. “Got some condoms in there too—”

“No,” Sam says at once. “I wanna—Dean, I want to feel it. Feel everything.”

Dean swallows, and Sam can hear the hitch in his breath clearly across the room. What’s interesting as well is the way he can see Dean’s cock twitch, hard and flushed. “I can roll with that,” Dean responds, a little hoarse, and then comes back to the bed, lube in hand.

He leans down and kisses Sam again before settling back in between Sam’s legs. Sam watches as Dean practically bathes his hands in lube, and says, “Hand me the bottle for a second, will you?”

Dean does. “What are you doing?” he asks.

Sam just hums instead of answering, lying back down so he can hold the bottle up and—

“Are you reading the label?” Dean sounds incredulous.

“…yes?” Sam says after a moment.

“Why?” Dean demands. He looks kind of funny, sitting in between Sam’s legs with one hand on Sam’s hip and the other hovering in midair, glistening with lube.

“Just in case,” Sam answers vaguely, handing Dean the bottle back.

“It’s not expired, if that’s what you’re worried about,” Dean tells him loftily, putting it aside. “I bought it like a week ago, Sam, I wasn’t gonna fuck you for the first time with expired lube.”

“Good to know,” Sam mutters, flushing a little. “Very chivalrous of you.”

“Damn right,” Dean says squarely. “Now shut up, and lie back, okay.”

“But I wanna look!” Sam protests.

“At what angle?” Dean asks, raising an eyebrow. “I know you’re bendy, baby, but last I checked you ain’t a contortionist.”

Sam tries anyway, going back up on his elbows and craning his neck to try and see what Dean’s doing. He can’t feel anything just yet – or see much of anything, really, because of the angle and his own cock in the way. Still, he’s not about to admit Dean was right, though, so he just tries harder, half sitting up as he tries to catch a glimpse.

“Sam,” Dean says impatiently. “For the love of fuck—” Clearly he’s decided he’s had enough; without waiting for Sam to listen to him and settle down, Dean leans in further, and then a second later, something wet and just a little cold touches Sam.

He inhales sharply. Dean doesn’t let up, fingers pressing against Sam’s hole, and Sam’s body erupts in goosebumps again. Dean’s fingers are rough and callused, but his touch is gentle, almost hesitant, and so different from Sam’s own.

“All right?” Dean asks him, resting his free hand on Sam’s hip again. His thumb strokes small circles into the bone there, and the muscles in Sam’s belly jump a little.

“Yeah,” he tells Dean.

Dean nods at him. A moment later, the pressure increases and Dean begins massaging the ring of muscle, coaxing the tension from it with his index finger. It feels so fucking good that Sam can’t help but go boneless, falling back on the bed again and letting his eyes fall closed.

Dean chuckles. “Told you.”

“Shut up,” Sam mutters. “Just… shut up.”

Dean just laughs again, but doesn’t say anything else. A moment later, Sam feels the pad of Dean’s finger against his hole. It rests there for a short second, and then Dean pushes in. He’s gentle, slow, and yet Sam can’t help the small gasp that escapes him, the way his cock twitches against his belly at the slight burn.

“You’re so tight,” Dean murmurs, working his way in with small wriggling movements. His fingers are thicker than Sam’s own, and the stretch is more than what Sam’s used to, even with lube to ease the way. He breathes out slowly, willing his body to relax even as he hears his blood rushing in his ears.

Dean pushes until his index finger in to the second knuckle and continues moving it around, massaging Sam’s walls in an attempt to make him relax further. Sam tries to help, tries to keep his breathing as steady and deep as possible, even as he pulls his lower lip in between his teeth.

“No, seriously,” Dean says a few moments later, and Sam opens his eyes. Dean is kneeling between his legs, an expression of intense focus on his face as he works Sam open.

“What?” Sam asks, a little breathlessly.

“You are really tight,” Dean tells him again, and then looks up. “You ever done this before, Sam?”

“Not in a while,” Sam admits to him.

“When was the last time?” Dean asks.

“I honestly can’t remember,” Sam tells him after a moment. “I don’t… do this much.”

Dean snorts. “Yeah, I can tell,” he says. “How does it feel?”

“Good,” Sam answers, and gives him a sort of breathless, encouraging smile. “Like… weird, but in a good way. Uh… you can. Um.” He pauses, not sure how to ask.

Dean seems to get it, though – he adds another finger, even slower than the first one, and then grins when Sam lets out a low whine in the back of his throat. “That?”

“Yes,” Sam answers. His chest feels like it’s going to burst, and yet at the same time he feels out of breath.

And they’ve barely just begun.

Dean leans in and kisses Sam’s hipbone before sitting up again. “Just relax, all right?” he tells him, moving his free hand down to rest on Sam’s thigh. “I’ve got you, Sammy.”

Sam nods. “Yeah, okay,” he says, letting his head fall back on the pillow. “All right.” One of his hands is gripping at the bedsheet loosely, the other resting awkwardly by his side. He wants to reach out and touch Dean, but his brother looks laser-focused on what he’s doing and Sam, for some reason, can’t help but feel like touching him would break the spell.

“Mm, much better now,” Dean says from between Sam’s legs, and Sam can’t help the pleased grin on his face.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. You’ve relaxed.” Both fingers are now in as deep as they’ll go, and Dean is making scissoring movements, creating space.

“You do this a lot?” Sam asks, slinging his free arm over his eyes.

“To whom?” Dean asks instead of answering.

Sam shrugs. “I dunno,” he says, trying not to think about Dean with other people.

“Been a while, same as you,” Dean tells him a moment later. “Didn’t really wanna be with anyone like that after I realized it was you I wanted.”

That makes Sam smile again. His eyes are closed and he can’t see Dean, but he can feel the light touches on his hip and thigh, and somehow he knows Dean is smiling too.

And then Dean crooks his fingers, as if he’s searching for something. “Come on,” he mutters. “Where is it—”

Sam’s just opened his mouth to tell him, but before he can say anything Dean finds his prostate on his own and presses his fingers against it, and Sam shouts, back arching off the bed a little. “Looks like I found it,” Dean says with a grin, and then repeats the movement.

Sam bites down hard into his lower lip, muffling the sound he makes. Even this feels different when Dean does it, more intense somehow, everything in his body focused on that bundle of nerves inside him – it’s never like this when it’s just Sam. It’s never been like this, ever.

“Good?” Dean asks.

“Yes,” Sam gasps out. “Yes, yes, do it again—”

Dean does, free hand gripping Sam’s knee, and Sam’s back arches again. His cock is leaking precome already, dripping down on his belly, and his heart feels like it’s three seconds away from flying out of his chest. “Holy shit, Sam,” Dean says in wonder as he looks down at Sam, watching every reaction with lust-blown eyes.

The stretch of Dean’s fingers is no longer painful, and Sam’s fingers curl in the sheets as Dean begins moving them again, a little faster now that Sam has adjusted. “More,” Sam demands, raising his other hand so he can grab at Dean, urge him on. “More, Dean, come on—”

“Okay, okay,” Dean laughs, lifting his free hand off Sam’s knee so he can take the hand reaching for him. He intertwines their fingers together and leans forward to kiss Sam’s knuckles; at the same time, he inserts a third finger into Sam, not bothering too much with going slow now.

The burn is back and Sam relishes in it, moving his hips down on Dean’s fingers in an attempt to get more friction. “Shit, Dean, fuck—”

“Look at you,” Dean says, and his voice is now hoarse. “So fuckin’ pretty, so wet for me—”

Sam’s dick jumps again, drawing Dean’s attention, and he untangles his fingers from Sam’s so he can wrap his hand around the length of it and stroke upwards. Sam lets out a strangled yell, bucking upwards into Dean’s fist so sharply that Dean’s fingers almost slip out of him.

“Hey, whoa—” Dean takes his hand off Sam’s cock and Sam whines at the loss of contact, but then a moment later he’s pressing on Sam’s prostate again, thick fingers moving deep inside him, stretching him more than he’s ever been before. Sam moans, the sound cutting off abruptly when he bites down on his bottom lip again. He hadn’t known he could be that loud.

“Fucking hell, Sammy,” Dean curses, and Sam raises his head slightly to look at him. Dean’s got his eyes fixed on his fingers inside Sam, watching as he moves them in and out, Sam’s body contracting around him.

“Never gotten this far before,” Sam admits to him, sounding like he’s just run a marathon.

Dean head snaps up. “What, really?” he asks, disbelieving.

Sam nods. “Yeah,” he pants. “When it’s just me I don’t… just two fingers.”

“And when it’s not just you?” Dean asks at once.

“Um.” Sam’s blushing now, though he’s not quite sure why.

“Sam?” Dean prompts, free hand on Sam’s calf.

Sam mumbles something he’s pretty sure Dean won’t hear, shifting his gaze away. Unfortunately, Dean does not require verbal communication to get something out of Sam, and Sam can pinpoint the exact moment his brother understands.

“Sam?” Dean says again, eyes narrowed. “Is this your first time doing this?”

Not trusting himself to speak just now, Sam just nods.

“Fuck,” curses Dean, and Sam watches with interest as Dean’s cock twitches. “You mean – no one else has touched you here?”

Sam nods again.

“I’m the first one?” Dean sounds like he can’t quite believe what he’s hearing.

“Yes,” Sam tells him, voice coming out barely above a whisper. “You’re the only one I want, don’t want anybody else, Dean, just you, just want you—”

Dean cuts off his rambling when he leans forward to cover Sam’s body with his again, one hand propping him up while the other remains inside Sam. He kisses Sam, hard and messy, and it’s got that possessive edge to it again, and Sam can’t help but whine into it, letting his mouth fall open under Dean’s.

“Just me, huh?” Dean whispers against Sam’s lips when he breaks the kiss.

“Always,” Sam tells him. “What, that turns you on?”

“Sam,” Dean says, in the fond tone he uses when Sam is being particularly stupid. “Sammy, baby – you ever taken a look at yourself? What sane man wouldn’t be turned on by that?” He punctuates his statement with a curl of his fingers that has Sam gasping, clenching around him.

“Could probably name a few,” Sam mutters when he can breathe again.

“Don’t,” Dean advises, voice low and possessive.

“Got it,” Sam says with a short laugh, and tilts his head to kiss Dean again. “You gonna fuck me now, or what?”

“Look who’s suddenly not nervous anymore,” Dean says with a snort.

“You’ve got three fingers up my ass, I think we’re past that,” Sam informs him, trying to move his hips and not really succeeding thanks to Dean’s weight on him.

“Don’t sass me,” Dean tells him, and sits up again, withdrawing his fingers. Sam lets out a whine at the loss, but gets up on his elbows anyway so he can watch Dean slick himself up.

Dean’s cock is long and thick and so flushed it’s almost maroon, and Sam inhales sharply as he tries to imagine how it’s going to feel inside him. He’s wanted this for just about forever, and now that he’s here in the moment, he finds he’s calm, quiet inside instead of the raging nerves and apprehension he’d been expecting. It’s Dean. It’s Dean, and he loves him, and this is going to feel good no matter what. Dean’s got him.

“This might hurt a little,” Dean tells him as he positions himself between Sam’s legs.

“It’s all right,” Sam answers, lifting his legs closer to his chest so he can accommodate Dean better. “Just go slow.”

Dean nods at him, taking his cock in hand and guiding it to Sam’s hole. “If you want me to stop—”

“I’ll say so,” Sam finishes, and gives Dean a smile.

“If it’s too painful,” Dean starts.

Sam sighs, loud and exaggerated. “Dean,” he says. “I trust you, okay? You won’t hurt me. Now will you please just stop talking and fuck me? Sometime this year would be nice—”

“You bratty little bitch,” Dean growls, interrupting him.

Sam narrows his eyes at him. “Well, you’re the jerk who’s taking forever—”

“I’m trying to be nice to you, since you’re a fucking virgin, but you know what?” Dean moves forward, pinning Sam to the mattress with a hand on his chest, and with his other hand he presses the blunt head of his cock to Sam’s hole.

“What?” Sam challenges.

Instead of answering, Dean pushes in, and for a moment Sam’s body resists, not letting him in. “Breathe, Sam,” Dean tells him, sounding a little strained, and Sam exhales, unaware he’d been holding his breath. That relaxes his body just enough for Dean to push past the tight muscle, and then Dean’s in, moaning low in the back of his throat as he moves forward, impossibly slow.

Sam, for his part, has forgotten how to breathe yet again. Dean’s cock is impossibly thick inside him, stretching him almost more than he can bear, the burn edging on painful. His erection flags as he tries to stay relaxed, keep his body loose so he can adjust.

“You okay?” Dean asks, stilling.

“Give me a minute,” Sam tells him, his eyes falling shut.

“Take as long as you need,” Dean says, and takes his hand off Sam’s chest so he can smooth Sam’s hair away from his sweaty forehead. “There’s no rush, all right?”

Sam nods, eyes still closed. “Yeah,” he breathes. “Yeah, I know, I just need a minute—” Already he feels better, the burn fading, and so he wraps a hand around his cock and gives it a couple strokes until he’s back to full hardness. “You can move now,” he says to Dean.

“Okay,” Dean says, and inches forward. “Keep breathing, okay, baby? I got you. I’m gonna make it good for you, I swear. Gonna make it the best you’ve ever had—”

“I know,” Sam says. “I know, Dean, shit—” It feels like his body is splitting open, tearing itself apart in an effort to fit Dean inside, and it hurts, just a little – but more than that, it feels good. It feels right in a way that Sam can’t make sense of, other than the fact that it’s Dean, and he’s inside Sam, and nothing could be better than this.

Dean takes his hand, intertwining their fingers again, and gives it an encouraging squeeze. “Doing so good, sweetheart,” he tells Sam, thumb stroking Sam’s hand. “I’ve got you, baby, you’re doing amazing—”

Dean’s voice is low, hoarse from how turned on he is, and it sounds like liquid sex, seeping into Sam’s skin and down into his bones, surrounding him. He’s never heard his brother sound like this before, and it’s doing things to him, curling deep in his belly, hot and electric. His dick jumps, reacting to Dean’s voice, and that makes Dean laugh, his breath warm in the few inches of air between them.

“You like that, huh? You like me telling you how good you are, Sammy? How perfect for me?”

“Yeah,” Sam moans, fingers tightening in Dean’s. “Fuck, Dean—”

“That’s the plan,” Dean agrees, closing the space between them to mouth at Sam’s jaw. He bottoms out as he does so, hips flush against Sam’s, and then he goes still again, giving Sam time to adjust. “Doin’ okay, Sammy?”

Sam responds by kissing him. “I’m good,” he says between pecks to Dean’s lips, to the corner of his mouth, to his chin and jaw. “I’m… better than good.” And it’s true; it doesn’t hurt even half as much as he’d been afraid of. Some part of Sam that he hadn’t even known was missing slots into place, fitting at last. Dean inside him like this feels like he’s home, truly home, somewhere that he belongs no matter what. It feels monumental, massive in a way that Sam can only explain as finally finding what he’s been looking for after a lifetime of searching.

“Don’t wanna hurt you,” Dean murmurs against his mouth.

“You won’t,” Sam tells him. “I know you won’t.”

“You trust me that much, huh?” Dean asks, achingly vulnerable for just a moment. The way he’s holding on to Sam tells him that he’s thinking the exact same things Sam is, and the realization makes Sam settle down, his mind going quiet and content. They’re on the same page now in a way they’ve never been before.

“Dean,” Sam says softly, and untangles his hand from Dean’s so he can wrap both arms around his brother and hold him as close as he possibly can. “I trust you. With – with everything.”

Dean closes his eyes and rests his forehead against Sam’s. “Won’t let you down,” he promises a moment later. “I swear to you, Sammy, swear on my life – I won’t let you down.” He understands, Sam knows – it’s one thing that Sam has always trusted Dean with his life, and it’s something else entirely for Sam to trust him with his body, something that he doesn’t trust anyone else with.

“I know,” he whispers, and kisses Dean, feeling his heart beat against where their chests are pressed together. “I know, Dean, I trust you, I trust you—”

Dean kisses him back, softer than his previous kisses, pressing urgently into his mouth like he’s trying to say something that he doesn’t quite have the words for. And Sam’s never needed verbal communication to understand Dean either, so he lets Dean in, makes sure Dean knows he gets it, gets what he’s telling him without saying a word.

“Gonna move now,” Dean tells him when he breaks the kiss.

“Please do,” Sam answers, and grins up at him.

Dean thrusts experimentally, small shallow movements that are more for Sam’s benefit than his, and Sam opens his legs wider. “I’m good,” he tells Dean, breathless again at the feeling of Dean moving inside him. “I’m good, I’m good, you can move—”

“Yeah,” Dean grunts out, and rolls his hips, pulling out and pushing in just a bit further with each thrust. “Yeah, I’ve got you, baby, I’ve got you—”

His cock brushes against Sam’s prostate, sending electricity zipping throughout his body, and Sam moans, throwing his head back. Dean laughs, sounding breathless himself, and kisses the side of Sam’s neck, rolling his hips again. “Like that?”

“Yeah, just like that, that’s perfect—” Sam tells him, tightening his arms around Dean. To encourage him further, he wraps his legs around Dean’s waist and hooks one foot around the other ankle, locking Dean in.

Dean curses again, moving his hands down so he can slide them under Sam’s body. He raises Sam’s hips, thrusting into him just a bit faster now, trying to find a rhythm. Sam squeezes his body with his legs, and laughs when Dean nips at his neck, growling, “You fucking octopus—”

“You like it,” Sam tells him, baring his neck to allow Dean easier access.

“Damn straight,” Dean replies, and latches on to Sam’s pulse point, sucking. At the same time his dick hits Sam’s prostate again and Sam gasps, arching up into him, back rising clean off the bed.

“Go faster,” he urges, grinding his own hips upwards into Dean’s and trying to get some friction on his cock against Dean’s belly. “Go faster, Dean, I can take it—”

“You sure?”

Sam loves Dean so much for asking over and over again, for making sure Sam’s okay and not experiencing any pain, but at the same time, it’s extremely fucking frustrating, because his whole body is burning up and his heart is going so fast in his chest that it’s making him tremble, and all he wants is to feel Dean move inside him, wants to feel himself open up for him—

“Dammit, Dean, just fuck me!” he all but yells, and then yelps when Dean bites down on his neck.

“Ask nicely,” Dean growls into his skin, the contrary bastard.

“Fuck you, Dean, please will you just fuck me, you asshole—” Sam gasps out, clawing at Dean’s back in his desperation.

“That’s not nice,” Dean says reprovingly, going maddeningly slow now. “Coulda sworn I taught you better manners than that, Sammy—”

“I said please!” Sam retorts, grabbing a handful of Dean’s hair and tugging.

“Musta missed it in between all that cursing,” Dean says, jerking his head out of Sam’s grip. “Try again, Sammy.”

“I hate you,” Sam tells him, groaning. He needs to come, like yesterday.

“No you don’t,” Dean says confidently. “Try again.”

“Dean, please!” Sam screams, digging his fingernails into Dean’s back and making him hiss. “Please, please, just fuck me—”

“That’s more like it,” Dean tells him, nipping at his earlobe, and then he thrusts in sharply. Sam keens, abandoning all pretenses of self-control as he throws his head back again. “Much better, huh, Sammy?” Dean continues, going almost all the way out before ripping into him again, nailing his prostate on the first go at just the right angle.

“Yes,” Sam gasps out. “Yes, fuck, Dean, just like that—” He’s going to be sore when all this is over, he knows, but he can’t bring himself to care. Looks forward to it, in fact, to feeling Dean even when it’s over, the sensation of Dean’s thick cock inside him, hot and hard and perfect—

“So pretty like this,” Dean tells him, setting a pace that’s not slow enough to piss Sam off but not fast enough to hurt him either, some perfect in-between zone. “So perfect for me, Sammy, made for me—”

“Yes,” Sam says again, because he is, because nothing else can explain how right it feels, the way they align, body and soul. “Yours, Dean, just yours—”

Dean swears, and speeds up just a little. He’s hitting Sam’s prostate almost every other stroke now, making him writhe in his arms, toes curling from the sheer mind-numbing pleasure of it. He’s never felt anything like this before, ever in his life; nothing can compare to it, to the heat all over his body, the way his nerves dance with electricity, the fireworks in his chest—

“Gonna make you feel so good, baby,” Dean promises as he pounds into him in earnest now. Sam can just dimly hear the bedframe creak, the headboard hitting the wall with each thrust, and wonders just how many people can hear them right now. He finds he doesn’t quite care, can’t, really, what with the way Dean’s biting at his jaw, hands pressing into his hips and holding him in place as he fucks into him.

“Dean,” Sam gasps out, “Dean, I’m close, I’m close—”

“It’s okay, sweetheart,” Dean tells him, lips pressed into the hollow of his throat. “It’s okay, baby, I got you—” He thrusts up at an angle, hitting Sam’s prostate hard, and Sam wails as he comes, untouched, so hard that his vision blacks out for a moment.

“Dean,” he sobs, tightening his arms around his brother and digging his heels into the back of Dean’s thighs, “Dean, Dean—”

“I got you,” Dean tells him again, fucking him through his orgasm, his own hips beginning to stutter now. Sam keens from the overstimulation, feeling raw and sensitive and electric, but Dean’s close too, and Sam loves it, loves every second of it, everything from Dean’s bruising grip on his hips to his mouth on his collarbone—

“Gonna come, Sammy, d’you want me to pull out?” Dean asks through gritted teeth, lips moving against Sam’s skin.

“No,” Sam tells him, “no, don’t, wanna feel you in me—”

“Fuck, Sammy,” Dean groans, “you’re gonna kill me, baby—”

“Wanna feel you,” Sam repeats, and that pushes Dean over the edge; he bites down on Sam’s collarbone as his hips jerk against Sam and then go still, a nanosecond before he comes. Sam can’t help but gasp at the sensation, at Dean’s cock twitching as it spills deep inside him, hot and wet. Inadvertently he squeezes his legs closer, and Dean moans, nails digging into the skin over Sam’s hipbones.

He collapses on top of Sam as he finishes, going completely weightless and pinning him to the mattress once more. Sam loosens his grip, unhooking his legs from around Dean’s waist and relaxing his arms until it’s more of an embrace, and Dean pants into his neck, hands caressing him as they move up his sides from his hips, trailing goosebumps in their wake.

“Fuck,” Dean mutters against Sam’s neck.

“’S what we just did, yeah,” Sam answers, grinning when Dean gives him a half-hearted swat.

Dean mumbles something Sam doesn’t quite catch and then raises himself up on his hands. Sam whines a little as Dean’s softening cock slips out of him, and then again as he feels his hole clench around nothing, spilling come on the sheets under him. He feels sore, oversensitive, exhausted – and yet he misses Dean already. He doesn’t know how he can go back to the way he was, now that he knows what it’s like being that full.

Dean presses a sloppy kiss to Sam’s temple and then rolls off him, collapsing next to him. Both of them are panting, out of breath like they’ve been running, sweaty and flushed next to each other. There is a comfortable silence for a few moments as they both come down from the high; Sam can feel his heart slowing down to its normal rate, and his skin cooling off. It makes him feel boneless, sleepy, and he turns on his side, burying his face into Dean’s shoulder and closing his eyes.

“Hey,” Dean says, and a moment later his fingers are in Sam’s hair. “How you doin’, Sammy?”

“Amazing,” Sam mutters into his skin. “Never been better.”

Dean chuckles. “That good, huh?”

“Better than anything I could’ve ever imagined,” Sam tells him truthfully.

Dean presses his lips to Sam’s hair, and Sam can feel him smile. “Yeah,” he agrees. “Yeah, it was.”

“What, no smug comments about how great you are in bed?” Sam asks, opening his eyes so he can raise an eyebrow up at Dean.

“Just look at the state of you,” Dean chuckles. “I don’t think I need to brag about how good I am, baby.”

Sam considers that, and the fact that he hasn’t ever felt this blissed out in his life, and then concedes. “Fair enough,” he says, laying his head down again. His ass feels sore already, and he has no doubt it’ll be worse later on, but he can’t bring himself to care, and he can’t deny that he likes it, the ache and the bruising along his jaw and neck and collarbone. It’s a reminder that all of this really happened, that it’s all real. That he’s Dean’s.

“You sleepy?” Dean asks him after a few moments of quiet.

“Mm,” Sam hums, closing his eyes. “Tired.”

“Lemme just clean us up, and then we can talk, okay?” Dean says, and waits for Sam to raise his head before he gets up.

“Can talk in the morning,” Sam mumbles, dropping his head down on the pillow. “Wanna sleep now.”

He hears Dean chuckle, a few feet away from the bed. “Sure, baby,” his brother says. A moment later the bed dips with his weight, and Sam feels something soft and damp between his legs.

He opens his eyes to find Dean holding his undershirt, not looking even a little guilty as he uses it to clean come and lube from Sam’s ass, thighs, and belly. “What?” he says when he sees Sam glaring at him. “It was the closest one.”

“You’re gross,” Sam informs him.

“We can just toss it in the wash later, Sammy.”

“Okay, but next time we’re using your shirt.”

“We’ll see about that.”

Sam sighs. “You’re a jerk.”

Dean grins, wiping himself down with the shirt before tossing it back to the floor. “And you’re a prissy little bitch, Sammy, but I love you anyway. Come on now, the other bed’s cleaner.” He grabs Sam’s hand and tugs, until Sam sits up, wincing as his ass comes in contact with the bed.

Immediately Dean is on him, eyes narrowing as he asks, “Does it hurt?”

“Just a bit sore,” Sam tells him truthfully, getting to his feet on shaky legs. “I’ll be fine.”

“Okay,” Dean says, accepting without argument for once, and then takes Sam’s hand again. “If you say so, Sammy.”

“I do,” Sam tells him, stumbling over to the other bed and collapsing in it. Dean follows, not letting go of Sam’s hand, and they end up on their sides facing each other, barely inches between them as they fit themselves on the queen-size bed.

“C’mere,” Dean says quietly, tugging Sam closer, and Sam follows, laying his head on Dean’s shoulder and pushing his face into Dean’s neck before closing his eyes. A second later Dean’s got his fingers back in Sam’s hair, lightly scratching at his scalp, and Sam makes an involuntary sound of pleasure deep in his throat.

Dean laughs, and Sam feels the vibrations in his chest. “Like a kitten,” he comments, taking Sam’s hand in his free one and lacing their fingers together.

“Feels good,” Sam murmurs, throwing a leg over both of Dean’s.

“Octopus,” Dean says fondly.

“Make up your mind,” retorts Sam.

“Octokitten?” Dean suggests after a moment, sounding thoughtful.

Sam just groans. “No.”

“Cat-topus?”

“Absolutely not.

Dean laughs again, the sound pleasant against Sam’s hair. “I’ll figure something out,” he murmurs.

“It’s fine if you don’t,” Sam mumbles. “Weirdo.”

“You have a kink for my voice, Sammy, so who’s the weird one here?” Dean asks, teasing.

“You,” Sam tells him, “because of the octokitten thing and because you have a thing for biting.”

“Mm, you like it, though,” Dean says confidently. His fingers are gentle and slow in Sam’s hair, slowly lulling him to sleep. “Not like you stopped me, huh.”

Sam considers his options for a rebuttal, and then sighs. “I plead the Fifth.”

“Knew it,” Dean says smugly. He lets go of Sam’s hand and taps on his arm, indicating he’s getting up, and Sam shifts to give him space. Dean leans over and grabs the blanket at the foot of the bed, pulling it towards himself and covering both of them with it. Then he settles back on his side, head propped by an elbow, and looks at Sam.

“What?” Sam asks, a little self-conscious, when Dean just continues staring without saying anything.

“Nothing,” Dean says, and smiles, slow and soft and tender. His expression is so open, walls down, that it makes Sam’s heart ache a little.

“It’s something,” he says, narrowing his eyes up at Dean.

Instead of answering, Dean leans in and kisses the tip of his nose. “Just wonderin’ how I got so damn lucky,” he says, voice low and intimate.

Sam exhales slowly, processing this, and then shifts forward to bury his face into Dean’s chest. “Don’t say things like that,” he murmurs into Dean’s skin, feeling his heartbeat under his cheek.

“Why not?” Dean asks, gently stroking Sam’s hair away from his face, tucking it behind his ear.

“Because I don’t know how to handle it,” Sam admits.

Dean’s fingers go still. “You don’t have to handle anything, baby,” he says. “Just… accept it.”

Sam takes a deep breath, and then another, regaining his bearings. “Okay,” he says after a few moments. “I can— I can do that.” He still feels unbelievably giddy every time it occurs to him that his feelings have been reciprocated all this time, that Dean has been wanting him as much as he’s wanted him. It’s messing with his perception of the world a little — he’s still not using to getting what he wants — but he thinks he wouldn’t mind getting used to this.

He opens his mouth to say something, but ends up yawning instead, stretching his legs as far as the bed and his sore muscles will allow. Dean waits until he’s done, and then puts an arm around him, pulling him even closer and removing the last couple inches of distance between them. “Sleep, Sammy,” he says, and yawns too. “Got a long drive ahead of us in the morning.”

“Mm,” is Sam’s response as he curls into Dean’s side and throws an arm around him.

“Gonna go home,” Dean says into Sam’s hair. “And then I’m gonna fuck you on every possible surface that can take it.”

Sam can’t help but laugh at that. “Seriously?”

“Yep.”

“What if someone walks in?”

“That’s their problem, not ours,” Dean says dismissively. “A man should be allowed to have sex with his brother in whichever part of his house he wishes, Sammy. That’s like, one of the rules of the universe, man.”

Sam laughs again. “No, it’s not!”

“Then it should be,” says Dean firmly. “It’s my civil right to fuck you wherever I want, and no one can take that from me.”

“You’ve got a very questionable understanding of the law,” Sam tells him, raising his head to grin at him.

Dean flicks his forehead. “Whatever, Sasquatch. Go to sleep.”

Sam settles again, palm spread flat over the tattoo on Dean’s chest. “Fine,” he says and then yawns again. “G’night, Dean.”

Dean’s lips press against Sam’s hairline, and then his temple. “’Night, baby,” he replies, and reaches out to turn out the lights.

They lie in darkness for a few moments, just listening to each other breathe, and then Sam says, “I’m glad this happened.”

“Me too,” Dean answers quietly. His arms are sturdy and warm around Sam, his chest solid under Sam’s head, heartbeat steady under his palm, and Sam has never felt safer or more loved in his entire life than he does now in this moment. It makes something inside him uncoil, and he melts completely into Dean’s side, giving himself over without saying a word.

Dean responds by tightening his embrace, one arm around Sam’s shoulders and the other hand resting on his bare hip, thumb stroking soothing circles over the nail marks he left earlier. Sam drifts off with Dean’s scent in his nostrils and heartbeat in his ears, and his own chest feels light and airy, heart full.

He’s got everything he ever wanted, right here.