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It starts the night they kill those vamps in that barn in Ohio.

Dean wakes up on the floor of the barn, head splitting with the force of the fall that knocked him out. Sam’s bending over him, face wet with tears, and Dean has the distinct feeling that Sam just kissed him. His lips tingle. There are tears on his cheek and they’re not Dean’s.

“Sammy?”

“Oh, thank god!” Sam breathes, swallowing thickly. “I thought you were... I thought...”

Sam clutches Dean’s lapels, shakes his head sharply, clearly fighting for control of his overwrought emotions.

“Nah, I’m good,” Dean assures him, rubbing the back of his head, where a sizable knot has already formed. “But I think I’m gonna let you drive.”

They clean up, get the kidnapped boys back where they belong, and start the long drive back to the bunker in the early morning light.

“Don’t go to sleep,” Sam orders, and Dean jerks awake. “You’ve got a concussion.”

“Right.” Dean licks his lips.

Sam kissed him. They should probably talk about it. He kissed him when he thought Dean was dead. They should definitely talk about it.

“I’ve been thinking,” Dean says.

Sam keeps his eyes on the road, clenches his hands around the steering wheel, listening.

Dean clears his throat. “Maybe we should think about retirement.”

Sam frowns, glances at him in surprise. “Really?”

Dean shrugs. “We could find a little place on the coast, take local jobs in the community, set up a part-time consulting business.”

“You’re serious.” Sam sounds skeptical, but Dean can hear the hopefulness, too.

“Yeah. I mean, we can’t keep hunting forever, right? You know how it ends. Eventually, one of us is going to get injured, or worse.”

They’re silent for a moment, and Dean knows Sam’s already been thinking about it. For several moments in the barn, Sam was forced to contemplate the unimaginable.

Dean hates the notion of putting his brother through that. After everything Sam’s been through, it’s too much. Unfair.

“Yeah,” Sam breathes. “You’re right. I just never thought I’d hear you say it.”

“What? That I’d be willing to retire?” Dean scoffs. “Hell, man, I’ve been tired for so long, I don’t even know what it feels like to really relax, you know?”

“Yeah.” Sam smiles, and Dean’s whole world brightens. Sometimes, he thinks he’d do anything to keep Sam smiling. He doesn’t do it enough.

“It’s settled then,” Dean says, and he can see the relief and gratitude in Sam’s eyes, even if Sam tries not to be too obvious about it.

They never really talked about it before. Semi-retirement was already a thing they’d silently agreed on anyway, after the whole thing with Chuck. Neither of them actively sought out cases anymore. They just took on the occasional hunt when it all but hit them in the face and they couldn’t look away, the way this vampire thing in Ohio had done. Dean had left a completed job application on his desk the morning they left, and Sam had been looking into finishing his degree.

But this latest brush with death reminds Dean that even a little hunting is risky. Losing Sam would be the stupidest thing Dean ever let happen, if it happened. And dying would be cruel, no matter how much Dean believes Sam could go on without him.

He’s always wanted Sam to get that normal life he used to crave, back before everything began. Dean used to assume Sam wanted it, too, but lately he’s been thinking that maybe, just maybe, he and Sam could grow old together.

Sam kissed him.

Dean’s feelings for Sam have always been complicated, and he’d be a fool not to admit that he gets an erotic buzz just being in his brother’s presence. Not that he’d ever do anything about it, of course. Sam’s had enough on his plate for too long as it is.

Sam kissed him.

Okay, maybe Sam has some mixed-up feelings for Dean, too.

It’s funny how almost dying puts some things in stark relief. It makes Dean wonder what they’re waiting for, exactly. Does Dean really want Sam to find someone else to settle down with? Is Dean still hunting just to keep Sam by his side? Is he afraid that Sam will leave him if they retire?

As terrifying as it may be to finally face this thing between them, Dean knows he owes it to Sam. He can tell Sam wants it, and that’s good enough for Dean. As unbelievable as it may be, Sam clearly wants to live out his life with Dean as his life partner, not just his hunting partner.

It’s settled.

//**//**//

They never even consider retiring in the bunker. The bunker’s where they work, and even Dean can see it’s time for them to move on. Let some other hunters use the bunker for a base of operations. May it serve them well as it’s done for the Winchesters.

It takes them a week to find a place in the Oregon coast range. The house has a yard and an astounding view of the beach. When Dean opens the door, Miracle bounds out of the car and runs hard for the beach, barking excitedly as he half-runs, half-tumbles down the trail. He comes back covered in sand, shakes himself furiously as Sam and Dean watch in amused disbelief.

“I think he likes it here,” Sam observes dryly.

The house is a former safe house, fully equipped with salt and iron and protection wards. It’s got running water, electricity, and wifi. The cupboards are stocked with canned goods; they brought groceries to stock the fridge. There’s only one bed, but Dean figures they’ll deal with that after supper. He doesn’t miss the look Sam shoots at him, though. Dean’s not quite sure if Sam expected him to announce that he’ll take the couch, since it’s obviously too small for Sam, or if Sam’s wondering what Dean remembers about the kiss.

For now, let him wonder.

Dean fires up the grill for the steaks while Sam makes a salad. Dean opens a can of beans to heat on the stove and Sam reaches for the grocery bag, pulls out a bottle of chilled champagne.

The look he gives Dean as he holds up the bottle is priceless.

“What?” Dean raises his eyebrows. “We’re celebrating.”

“Okay,” Sam says hesitantly. He pops the cork, pours the champagne into two glasses he pulls from a shelf, and hands one to Dean. “To us, I guess.”

Dean holds the glass up. “To our retirement,” he says as he raises his glass. “May it be long and lacking in serious injury and death. Until we die, of course.”

Sam stares at him with a look that’s half disbelief, half cautiously hopeful. For the first time, Dean’s sure that Sam knows he remembers the kiss. Sam’s counting on it.

“Here’s to eventual death from natural causes,” Sam says as he raises his glass.

They touch glasses and drink, and Dean gets an immediate charge of erotic energy. Anticipation.

Sam knows.

They eat in silence, shooting each other glances that make Dean’s dick harden almost painfully. After dinner, he takes Miracle out for a walk while Sam cleans up, and when he gets back Sam’s sitting on the porch, watching the sun set over the ocean.

Dean joins him, accepting the beer Sam hands him with a brush of his long fingers that sends a tingle up Dean’s spine. He sits down on the other chair, wishing there was a bench so they could sit pressed together.

Like they’ve done all their lives. Like there was ever anything between them that could stay that way.

“We should probably talk about that night in the barn,” Dean says finally.

Sam takes a deep breath and shakes his head. “I really thought you were dead. I couldn’t find a pulse and I saw how hard you hit. I figured you’d cracked your skull, or you had internal injuries from the force of the fall or something.”

“How long was I out?”

“A minute or so,” Sam admits. “Felt like hours.”

“So you kissed me,” Dean says. “Was it like a goodbye kiss then?”

Sam huffs out a breath, looks down at his beer. The light from the setting sun makes his skin glow, makes his eyes seem translucent when he raises them again.

“I thought I’d never have another chance,” he admits. “Thought you were gone. Hoped at least your soul was still around so you could see how much... So you could see.”

“Sammy.” Dean’s voice shakes. “I could feel it.”

Sam nods. He’s nervous too. “I know. Now. I know now.”

“And you — you really feel that way? About me?”

Sam turns his sunflower eyes on Dean and nods solemnly.

“You’ve always been everything to me,” he says, like it’s the most simple truth possible. Like it’s obvious.

“Always?” Dean clarifies. He needs to know. “Even when we were kids?”

“Probably, although I didn’t know what I was feeling then. The first time I remember putting a name on it was probably in high school.”

Dean swallows. He recalls the gangly, brooding teenager who grew over Dean’s head almost overnight, and he shakes his head.

“I never... I never would’ve... You were my baby brother, Sam.”

“No, I know,” Sam nods. “I knew you wouldn’t want that. You were always trying to protect me. Still are. But we’re consenting adults now. Nobody gets hurt.”

Dean shakes his head again. “Then why now? Why wait so long?”

“I thought you were dead,” Sam repeats. “I thought I was too late.” He takes a deep breath, lets it out slow. “Truth is, I was prepared never to tell you. Never to let you see how I felt. I figured you wouldn’t want that for me. You’d get all protective and insist I’d be better off with somebody else. Somebody normal.”

Dean chuckles. “You’re not wrong,” he agrees. “I always wanted the best for you, you know that.”

Sam nods. “I do. And I appreciate that, Dean. I’m grateful.” He glances around at the house, the yard, the beautiful view, then his eyes return to Dean’s face, soft and fond. “You always look after me.”

In the dying light, Sam’s so beautiful it makes Dean’s chest ache. He’s never really looked at Sam like a lover before, not with his permission. He never let himself gaze with a lover’s eyes at Sam’s soft lips, his pointed nose, his chiseled jaw and sharp cheekbones. Dean’s never allowed himself to consider how much he loves his brother in every way possible.

Something about almost dying has changed him. Now he’s not afraid to go after something he never would’ve even thought about consciously before.

Dean reaches across the little table between them, takes Sam’s hand and tangles their fingers together.

Sam looks a little shocked, but he squeezes back when Dean squeezes his fingers and smirks at him.

“You gonna let me take care of you tonight, Sammy?”

Sam blushes, ducks his head, and Dean watches with a combination of fascination and admiration as his dimples pop. Dean wants to run his tongue into those grooves, one at a time. He wants to take Sam apart, inch by inch.

Sam lets Dean pull him up, guide him into the house, toward the bedroom.

“Stay,” he tells Miracle as the dog attempts to follow.

Dean pushes Sam up against the closed door of the bedroom and kisses him. It’s awkward and messy and hot, too much spit and too-hard dicks and way too many clothes. Sam moans and kisses back, grabbing Dean’s head with his massive hands and angling him so that Dean feels overwhelmed. Consumed. He turns them so that Dean’s the one pressed up against the door and Sam’s looming over him, everywhere, blocking the light and filling Dean’s senses with the smell and feel of his brother all over him.

Dean clutches Sam’s overdeveloped shoulders, yanks on his shirt. Sam obliges by shedding the offending garment, followed by his t-shirt, and now Dean’s got miles of bare skin and muscle to contend with. He wiggles a hand down between them, finds Sam’s belt buckle, the bulge below.

Sam makes a sound that somewhere between a groan and a bellow as Dean closes his hand over his erection and squeezes.

“Off!” Dean commands. “On the bed!”

“So bossy,” Sam gasps as he complies.

“Shut up. You like it.”

Sam grins lasciviously as he backs up toward the bed, kicking his boots off and unbuckling his belt. He unzips his jeans but pauses before pushing them down.

“Your turn,” he insists, like the little bitch that he is. Like he thinks he can control this thing for one second.

“Uh-uh,” Dean shakes his head. “You started this. Now strip. Let me see you.”

Sam scowls, but obeys. He pushes his jeans down his long, long legs, then steps out of them so that all he’s wearing is his boxers and socks.

Dean shakes his head. “Everything,” he insists. “Off.”

Sam rolls his eyes but does it, hopping on one foot at a time as he yanks his socks off. He pushes his boxers down slowly, watching Dean’s face the whole time, and Dean nods approvingly as his proportional and very erect cock bobs free.

“Not bad,” he notes. Gorgeous, his brain provides helpfully.

“Now, on the bed. On your back. Spread ‘em.”

“Dean,” Sam whines. “Please.”

He really is glorious, Dean acknowledges as Sam spreads himself out on his back on the bed, just the way Dean told him. For a moment or two, Dean just looks, letting his eyes roam up from Sam’s big feet to his slender hips, on up his flat belly to his chest. Dean admires his brother’s strong arms and shoulders, his thick, powerful neck.

Dean’s chest tightens with love as he crosses around to the side of the bed and begins to undress.

“You’re my everything, too, Sammy,” he says. “I just never realized what that meant before.”

Sam watches as Dean takes off his shirt, sits down on the bed to untie his boots.

“Part of me always took you for granted,” he says as he pulls his socks off, followed by his t-shirt. As he gets up to unbuckle his belt, Sam begins stroking himself, slow and easy. “You were like an extension of me, when we were little. It took me a while to start seeing you as separate, you know? As a person with your own needs and desires. Scared the hell out of me when you started to grow up.”

Dean pushes his jeans and boxers down together, leaves them in a puddle on the floor, stands naked and waiting at the side of the bed as Sam stares up at him and licks his lips.

“So what do you want now, Sammy? Show me how you want this to go.”

So Sam shows him. He sits up on the edge of the bed, bracketing Dean with his legs as he wraps his arms around Dean’s torso and presses his face into his chest.

“Want my big brother to take care of me,” he mumbles against Dean’s skin as he presses a line of kisses across his pecs.

“Sure, Sammy, I can do that,” Dean agrees, running his fingers through Sam’s thick, soft hair. He pushes Sam down on the bed, climbs on top of him and leans down to kiss him, long and thorough.

“Want you to fuck me.” Sam breathes when he comes up for air. “Please.”

Dean’s heart skips a beat, but he nods. “Okay. I can do that.”

He’s never fucked a man before, but he knows the mechanics of it. He’s seen Brokeback Mountain, for god’s sake. Never thought he’d need to know how to manage that particular skill, but he’s got determination, Winchester ingenuity, and a lifetime willingness to try anything once.

Plus, he’s so turned on he can hardly think straight. Thinking about sinking into Sam — being inside the person he loves more than life itself — it’s almost too much.

Sam bucks up under him, clutches him till Dean’s sure he’ll end up with bruises. Sam’s so desperate and needy Dean’s worried he’ll pop a blood vessel. He writhes and moans under Dean, grinding against him so that Dean reaches down between them, grasps Sam’s cock in his hand just to soothe him.

Sam’s cock’s in his hand, rigid and goddamn huge, velvety skin smooth and hot. Dean’s glad he’s the one doing the fucking. This thing is a fuckin’ monster.

He’s used to going down on girls to get them ready, making sure they have an earth-shattering orgasm before he fucks them. Dean’s always put his partner’s pleasure first. He likes to leave them wanting more.

Now he realizes it’s all been practice for this. This moment of going down on Sam, giving Sam as much pleasure as he can possibly give him, trying to compensate in some small way for all the suffering, grief and horror of Sam’s life — this is where his whole life has been leading up to now. If he spends the next forty years making it up to Sam, it might not ever be enough, but he’ll be damned if he doesn’t try.

When Sam finally explodes in Dean’s mouth, Dean swallows the bitter fluid like a champ. He smiles with his bruised and abused mouth as he looks up at Sam, mutters “That’s my boy” with his bruised throat. His voice sounds raspy.

It’s the atonement he’s been searching for all his life, this vaguely painful but exhilarating way to give Sam what he needs.

He makes Sam roll over before he fucks him. He’s read that it’s easier that way. Now he wonders if he only read about gay sex because he knew that someday he would need to know how to give this to Sam. Everything he’s ever done has led to this moment, this shattering and explosive event.

Dean runs one hand up Sam’s spine as he works his hole with the other. Buying lube at the grocery store had been an out-of-body experience at the time, but now he’s damn glad he made himself do it. No way he’d hurt Sam, no matter how much he begged for it.

“Dean!” Sam pushes back against his hand, buried three fingers deep in Sam’s ass. “Do it! I’m ready enough! Do it, already!”

“Okay, okay, hold your horses,” Dean soothes. He’s got his dick in his hand, slathered with lube, and it looks huge compared to Sam’s tiny, puckered hole. “Just give me a minute. I’m not sure it’s going to fit...”

Apparently Sam’s got very good instincts about this, because he pushes back just as Dean lines up his dick and holy shit he’s in.
Sam gasps and goes rigid.

“Okay?” Dean asks anxiously, staring down at the place where the head of his dick has disappeared into Sam’s body. “Sam? Are we good to go?”

Sam recovers in record time and pushes back so hard and fast that Dean’s suddenly fully sheathed, and oh shit. It feels incredible. Tight and hot and it’s fucking Sam, for christ’s sake.

Sam.

The sounds coming out of Sam’s mouth are pure pornography. Dean doesn’t know how he’s lived this long without hearing them. Without being the one to get Sam to make them. This whole experience feels surreal and exactly right at the same time.
Good thing Chuck’s not manipulating them anymore, because this right here? This feels like it was always meant to be.

“Come on, Dean!” Sam whines, pushing back, rocking and fucking himself on Dean’s dick, making Dean practically pass out with how good it feels to be balls deep in his brother.

Dean gets with the program, pounding into Sam till he hits something that makes Sam give the sweetest little hitched cry, so Dean does it again and again until Sam’s shaking, till his arms and legs give out and he collapses face first on the bed.

Dean’s almost there, so he reaches around, finds Sam’s cock. It only takes a stroke or two and Sam’s coming again, oversensitive cock slipping from Dean’s hand as Dean’s orgasm hits him. He whites out for a moment with the force of it, with the thought of it. He breathes Sam’s name on a sigh that feels like a last breath.

“Sammy.”

When Dean comes to, he’s plastered to Sam’s sweaty back. He peels himself off as gently as he can and collapses onto the bed next to his brother, too sleepy to pull up the blanket. He’s nearly asleep when he feels Sam’s hand on his face, cupping his cheek. Sam’s thumb skims along his bottom lip.

“Dean.”