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Sam’s breath stuttered slightly as the first needle went in. He bit down on his bottom lip while the tattoo gun hummed and continue to ink the pattern into his skin. No matter how familiar the pain, it still had a bite.

“It’s okay, Sammy. You’re doing good.”

Dean tangled his fingers with Sam’s at the side of the table, out of sight of the tattoo artist. She hadn’t approved of Dean sitting in the room with them, but she knew Max and Alicia, and allowed him to stay.

They met up with the witch twins four days ago to discuss a case. The conversation turned to what happened at Asa’s and the nightmares Alicia continued to have about her possession. When the talk turned to anti-possession tattoos, the twins asked to see theirs. Sam paused and Dean pulled down the collar of his t-shirt, quickly releasing it when the waitresses dropped off their plates and refilled the coffee.

Dean thought that would be the end of it. He and Sam never talked about the details of what happened that night, when “an angel and a devil walked into my brother”. So he was taken aback when Sam admitted in a quiet voice that his had been removed, avoiding the how and the why of what happened. Sam was always a master at saying everything while saying nothing.

The brothers were silent as they climbed in the Impala afterwards. The topic was like a scab sitting on Sam’s skin and they were still waiting for it to heal over after four years. Now, Dean was worried that the scab had been scratched off too early, revealing the wound below.

They met the twins at the diner again two days later. Max slid a sheet of paper across the table to Sam, and the two of them put their heads together to discuss the design that he had worked on all night. Sam’s long fingers traced the fine, intricate lines - a pentacle at the center surrounded by rings of runes that were a mix of Celtic and Norse - while Max explained the significance of each symbol.

“It’s amazing,” Sam said, lifting the sheet for Dean to see. “What do you think? I need some new ink myself.”

I hate it. “It’s great. Good idea.”

Sam raised his eyebrows at the quick capitulation, but Dean returned a smile that was as tight as the lid on a jar of pickles. The he-witch continued to touch Sam’s hand, snagging his brother’s attention once more, pointing out the collaborative nature of a few of the symbols.

Alicia flashed Dean a sympathetic smile, which didn’t really help his desire to break her brother’s nose.

They said goodbye to the pair in the parking lot. Sam slipped the design and a business card of the local tattoo parlor in his pocket. Nothing more was said about it until they were alone in the motel room that night. Dean left the lights on as he spent hours worshiping the skin and scars across Sam’s chest with his lips and tongue. As the two fell asleep, Sam rested his hand on Dean’s chest, connecting the two of them through that small patch of skin below.

Now, Sam lay shirtless on the tattoo parlor table, sweat gathering along his lip and brow from the painful sting. His reaction was just like the first time that they did this together, and Dean thought he’d never seen anyone so beautiful.

The tattoo artist handed Sam a mirror. “So, what do you think?”

Sam looked down at the sigil, and smiled. No fancy lines or extra runes. Just a simple pentagram surrounded by flames. An exact duplicate of the one he wore before. A matched set to the one across Dean’s heart.

“It’s perfect.”