Sam notices, too.
“You should hit that,” he says, tipping his chin toward the girl.
“Oh right, because I need to get laid.” Dean takes another sip of his beer, stares fixedly at the lacquered surface of the bar.
“Yeah, you do,” Sam agrees. “It’s been a pretty long time. Longer than I’ve ever seen you go without.”
“That’s not true.” Dean scoffs. “Year in Purgatory, remember?”
“Really?” Sam sounds surprised. “I always figured you and Benny... French Mistake situation at the very least.”
Dean looks up, startled. “Ew. No way! We were just good buddies.”
Sam nods, thoughtful. “So you’ve never. With a guy, I mean.”
“Not what I said, Sam.”
Sam’s eyebrows go up. “Wow. Okay. Now I’m curious.”
“No, you’re not.” Dean smirks as he takes a sip of his beer.
“Yeah, Dean, I am. All my life, I’ve seen you pick up girls in bars, girls at school. Girls, girls, girls. Never once have I seen you go home with a guy or even so much as seriously flirt with one. So yeah, I’m curious. Was it a one-night stand?” Sam draws a sudden breath. “Wait. Was it when we were kids? Jesus, Dean. You didn’t exchange favors for rent or food money, did you? Oh shit.”
Sam’s chagrined look is almost more than Dean can stand.
“It was a long time ago, Sam,” Dean assures him. “Didn’t matter then, doesn’t matter now. I’m definitely NOT into guys. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
As soon as he says it, Dean realizes how crazy it sounds. Sam already knows. It’s not like Dean can hide the fact that he is attracted to guys. Or, rather, one guy.
No way Sam ever needs to know about the guy Dean picked up in a bar that one time while Sam was at Stanford. Tall, lanky dude with long, shaggy hair and pretty eyes.
He didn’t admit it to himself at the time, but Dean knows now that had far more to do with his attraction to Sam than anything else. He was missing his brother. End of story.
“You’re into me,” Sam reminds him. “I’m a guy.”
“Doesn’t count,” Dean insists stubbornly.
Which is when it hits him. He really isn’t into anyone who isn’t Sam. All those one-night stands, all the girls — they’ve all just been a way to bury his primary attraction, to channel his inappropriate feelings for his brother into a more palatable outlet for his libido.
He’s never really wanted anyone but Sam.
Later, lying alone in his bed in the motel, listening to Sam’s deep breathing in the other bed, Dean faces the fact that he’s doomed. There will never be another one-night stand. He’ll always wish it was Sam instead. It’ll feel like cheating. Even if he manages to get it up with a girl, he’ll be swamped with guilt. Any sex that isn’t sex with Sam is ruined for him now. There’s no going back.
He’ll die pining for Sam.
He rolls over and clutches his pillow, staring at Sam’s perfect profile in the near-dark.
Well, there’s definitely worse ways to go, he tells himself.
The day Dean gets seriously injured on a hunt, Sam’s right there. Dean stares up at him as Sam mumbles reassuringly, hands moving swiftly and carefully over his body as he checks Dean out.
“Gonna fix you right up,” Sam repeats over and over. “It’s not that bad, Dean. You’re gonna be okay.”
Dean slides in and out of consciousness as Sam staunches the wound in Dean’s belly, another one in his leg. The monster slammed him pretty hard into a post after ripping its claws into him. There’s blood in his eyes so he knows he has a scalp wound, too.
He can’t feel his leg.
At the hospital, Dean tries to focus as the doctor explains that it was touch and go during surgery. He lost a lot of blood, but he’s going to live.
“Your leg was badly lacerated. It’ll take time to heal,” the doctor says. “You’re going to need weeks of physical therapy if you want to walk again.”
Dean can read the anxiety in Sam’s face, but there’s relief there, too. Dean’s alive. He survived.
It becomes clear, however, that his hunting days are over.
After a few weeks of healing and antibiotics, the hospital discharges him to a rehab facility for physical therapy. He works his ass off to make his legs work again, but it’s exhausting and frustrating.
“Just get me out of here or kill me now,” he complains to Sam after a week of daily workouts. “This place sucks!”
“Dean, you’re making progress,” Sam assures him. “I know it feels slow-going, but you’re getting better. You are.”
“Yeah? And what difference does it make? Huh? Not like I’m ever going to be able to run when the monsters are coming. Never gonna be able to kick in a door or stop something from attacking you.” He leans back in the hospital bed and shuts his eyes. “I fuckin’ hate this, Sam.”
Sam nods sympathetically. He’s been a real peach, tolerating Dean’s grumbling and whining and tantrums. Dean can barely stand himself, and now he’s totally useless. He sure as hell can’t understand why Sam doesn’t leave.
“I know you do,” Sam says, voice so soft and sympathetic it makes Dean want to scream. “You hate feeling helpless.”
“I sure as hell do!” Dean growls. He can feel tears smarting at the corners of his eyes. “I mean it, Sam. Better just put me down.”
“Don’t say that.”
But Dean’s on a pity roll. “Why not? Huh? What am I good for now? Can’t hunt, can’t protect you. Everything I’m good at I can’t do anymore.”
“Not everything,” Sam says.
Dean opens his eyes, blinks back tears as he glares at Sam, who gives him a tiny smile and nods.
“You’re still my brother,” Sam says.
Dean scoffs, looks away. He knows he’s being an ass, but he can’t help it. Sam deserves a better brother, one who doesn’t feel so sorry for himself. One who isn’t so helpless. One who doesn’t pine for him like a lovesick puppy.
“You should find another partner,” Dean mumbles.
“Don’t want another partner.” Sam clenches his jaw stubbornly.
“I can’t hunt any more, Sammy,” Dean growls. “I can barely walk!”
“We’ll figure it out,” Sam answers. “We can take a break till you learn to walk again.”
“Then what?” Dean shakes his head. “I can’t hunt anymore. I’m useless.”
“You’re not useless. You just need to adjust your expectations,” Sam says. “We can go into semi-retirement. Maybe do a little consulting. You know, like Bobby used to do.”
“Oh great. Just a couple of geezers, puttering around the bunker, laying down salt lines, taking phone calls from hunters who are doing the actual work. Sounds awesome.”
“We’re not just hunters, Dean,” Sam reminds him. “We’re Men of Letters legacies. We’ve got a bunker with a library better than anything in the whole country! We’ve got experience with practically every kind of supernatural creature ever known to exist. We can help other hunters do their jobs.”
Dean shakes his head. “I’m a man of action, Sam. I can’t sit around the bunker all day, you know that.”
“We won’t,” Sam assures him. “There’s still plenty we can do out in the field. Lay groundwork, do basic investigations, interview witnesses... Hell, we can even manage ordinary salt-and-burns on our own if we really have to. Most of that’s just digging, anyway.”
Dean sighs. “Sounds sad, Sammy. Sounds fuckin’ sad.”
“Doesn’t have to be,” Sam insists. “Anyway, better sad than dead.”
Dean’s pretty sure he’d rather die with his boots on than live out his life as an ex-hunter, but he doesn’t say that. He’s being morose enough as it is. Sam deserves a fuckin’ award for putting up with him. Dean can’t for the life of him understand how Sam can stand to stay with him, especially now, but he’s trying not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
He’s never understood why Sam stays with him. But he sure as hell doesn’t want to give him any more reasons to leave.
Time to make the best of a bad situation.
By the time he leaves the rehab center, Dean’s able to pull himself around with a walker and walk short distances with the help of a cane. He hates both with a vengeance, throws them across the room regularly. But he’s definitely better than he was when he got here, even he has to admit that.
Driving the car is still impossible, which he also hates with a vengeance. He yanks away from Sam irritably when his brother tries to help him into the passenger seat.
“I can do it!” Dean insists. He grabs the seat and the door, manages to swing his legs into the footwell, slams the door after himself. He scowls as Sam mutters something about getting the car outfitted with hand controls so that Dean can drive her.
“You leave my baby alone! I’ll be driving her again in no time. Damn legs just need a little more work, that’s all.”
Sam smiles, and Dean wonders again how he manages to keep his irritation in check so well. Dean almost wishes Sam would snap at him, tell him where he can put his bossy, miserable attitude. Dean would, if their situations were reversed.
If their situations were reversed and Sam was the invalid who could never hunt again, Dean would be totally okay with it. The main thing — really the only thing that matters — is having Sam at his side.
Hell, if their situations were reversed, Dean would make it his job to look after his brother till they both got old and died of natural causes.
“Where are we headed?” Dean asks when they’re on the road, headed west. “Bunker’s that way.”
Sam shrugs, keeping his eyes on the road. “I just figured we could use a little break, you know? Change of scenery.”
Dean scowls. He crosses his arms and sinks low in the seat, resisting the urge to argue.
When he flips on the radio, finds a station he likes, Sam doesn’t complain, and Dean smiles, smug. He’s still the driver, even if he is sitting in the passenger seat. It’s just temporary, and they both know it. Dean’s still the boss of their outfit. He’s still the older brother.
It’s mid-afternoon when they pull up to a house with a nice view of a lovely mountain lake. The house looks a little run-down, but it’s set back from the road, hidden by trees. It’s perfect.
“Safe house?” Dean asks as Sam shuts off the engine.
Sadness creases Sam’s forehead. “Tamara and Isaac used to live here,” he says quietly. “Remember them?”
Dean flinches because he does remember. They got Isaac killed, the year before Dean’s tour downstairs.
“It’s ours now,” Sam says. “She left it to us.”
Dean raises his eyebrows, but says nothing. When Sam helps Dean out of the car, Dean lets him. He’s feeling oddly nostalgic suddenly, recalling simpler times and lost comrades.
The rooms are dusty but weirdly homey. There are embroidered pillows on the couch, cups that say “Mom” and “Dad” in the cupboard.
“This was their vacation home,” Sam explains as he opens cupboards to put groceries away. “They spent summers here with their daughter, before...”
Dean’s gut wrenches painfully. “Shit.”
One of the two bedrooms contains a king size bed and a picture-window view of the lake. The other room is very plain, with an empty bureau and a twin bed. The walls are pink. There were probably toys here once, maybe a teddy bear on the bed.
Dean feels Sam’s hulking, overheated body behind him, looking into the room over his shoulder. It’s obvious he won’t be comfortable on that bed.
“I’ll take this room,” Dean announces.
He feels Sam hesitate, then huff out a breath. “Okay.”
Sam gasses up the generator, gets them electricity within the hour, then goes out to chop wood for the fireplace. While he waits for the refrigerator to get cold and hot water to heat, Dean makes a salad and fires up the gas grill on the porch for burgers. His leg aches with the exertion, so he lets Sam stand at the grill to flip the burgers while he limps inside for a beer.
“I’ll get better,” he mutters apologetically as he accepts a plate from Sam.
“I know you will,” Sam assures him.
After dinner, they sit on the porch steps, side by side, shoulders and knees touching, nursing their beers as they stare at the lake. It’s peaceful. Dean feels better than he has in months. He thinks maybe he could get used to this quieter life.
As long as he has Sam.
Dean squirms nervously, clears his throat, and Sam shifts, pressing closer against him.
“You know I’m not going anywhere,” Sam says, and Dean huffs out a breath. “Right?”
Dean sighs. “Sam, I’m gimp. I’m never gonna be the man I was before.”
Sam shakes his head sharply. “Doesn’t matter.”
“You deserve better.” It hurts to say it, but it’s true. “You deserve normal. I always wanted that for you. Kids, grandkids, the whole nine yards.”
“Not gonna happen,” Sam says.
“You deserve somebody who really gets you.”
“You get me,” Sam insists. “You’re the only person on the planet who understands my life. You’re the only one who helps me make sense of it.”
Dean shakes his head. “I’m no good for you. I’m holding you back. You need to find a girl, settle down, get on with your life.”
“Don’t want a girl. I have you.”
“Sam, you can’t mean that.” Dean huffs out a bitter laugh. “You’re just humoring your lame brother.”
Sam clenches his jaw, shakes his head irritably.
“You’re an ass, you know that?”
Dean cocks an eyebrow, smirks. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m awesome.”
Sam turns his body so that he’s facing Dean. He puts his beer down, then takes Dean’s bottle away and puts it down, too.
Dean blinks and glances warily at Sam’s face, which is set in an expression halfway between frustration and exasperation.
“Dean, sometimes words aren’t enough between us, right? You’ve noticed that. I can’t say enough to make you believe me. So I’m going to show you. With your permission, of course.”
Dean flinches. “You gonna hit me?”
“No, I’m gonna kiss you.”
Dean’s eyes widen. He stares at Sam in shock. “You — What?”
Sam gives another little annoyed head shake, leans in before Dean has time to respond and presses his lips to Dean’s.
Dean’s lips are parted in surprise, so Sam’s kiss is a little deeper than he might have intended. Dean can feel his tongue slip along Dean’s lower lip, which sends a shock of lust straight to his dick, of course.
When Sam pulls back, his eyes are blown almost completely black. Dean can’t resist glancing down and yep, Sam’s jeans aren’t hiding much.
“I’ve wanted to do that for a very, very long time,” Sam says, his voice shaking. He sounds a little breathless.
Dean manages to make his brain work enough to stammer, “What the hell, Sammy? Why did you do that?”
Sam frowns. “What are you talking about? Isn’t it obvious?”
Dean can’t believe his luck. He won’t. Nothing ever works out for them. No way Sam means what he thinks he means.
Then Dean figures it out. “Wait. Was that a pity kiss?”
Sam rolls his eyes. “Did it feel like a pity kiss?”
Instead of answering, Dean leans forward, angling in for another kiss, and Sam meets him halfway. Tongues slide together this time, Dean holds Sam’s jaw so he can kiss him deep and thorough before pulling away.
Sam’s lips are slick with spit. Dean’s spit. Dean did that to Sam’s mouth.
“How was that?”
Sam draws a shaky breath. Nods. “Good. It was good.”
“Damn right,” Dean smirks. “Best damn kiss you ever had.”
Sam rolls his eyes. “You’re an idiot.”
Sam’s eyes drop to Dean’s mouth. He leans in, sliding a hand along Dean’s jaw to the back of his neck, coaxing him closer as he kisses him again.
It’s a thorough, masterful kiss. Dean’s toes curl and his dick hardens almost painfully. Dean’s hands itch to grab hold of Sam, to pull and push at his clothes, to touch all that tan skin.
When he pulls away, he’s panting, practically clinging to Sam. He blinks, watches Sam’s eyes as they turn color in the setting sunlight.
Sam’s smirking, the bitch. “How was that?” He asks in a ridiculously low, seductive voice.
Dean’s still breathing hard.
“Good?” Sam prompts, and all Dean can do is nod.
Sam’s wanting this, being into this, being good at this — it’s all gonna take a little adjusting.
Dean clears his throat, untangles himself from Sam’s embrace, and reaches for his beer. His goddamn dignity, for chrissakes. He takes a long swallow, steadying his nerves. Trying to clear his head. They need to talk about this. They really do.
Sam shrugs. “Since we were kids. Half the reason I left for college was so you wouldn’t find out what a pervert I was.”
Dean shakes his head. “But later? After you found me with the mirror? Why didn’t you tell me then?”
Sam smiles, soft and fond, with a little twinkle of mischievous little brother mixed in. “You never asked.”
They take it slow. Partly because of Dean’s injury, partly because suddenly they’ve got the rest of their lives and there’s no rush. No rush at all. They clean up the dishes, make up the king-sized bed without even considering the other bedroom again. They share a bottle of whiskey on the couch in front of the fire, pressed together from shoulder to ankle, and it feels normal. Feels almost ordinary. Dean likes the little erotic charge of anticipation under his skin because now he knows Sam feels it too, but it’s not really anything new. It’s been part of them and their relationship all their lives, waiting for a chance to surface. Waiting for them to slow down enough to recognize it. They can do something about it or not. That’s not even the point.
“So I guess we really are an old married couple,” Dean comments as he slides his hand along Sam’s thigh, takes his hand and tangles their fingers together.
Sam huffs out a laugh. “You’re an idiot.”
“Aw, Sammy, you really do love me.”
Dean lays his head on Sam’s shoulder, feels the tension as Sam almost shrugs him off, then sighs and relaxes again.
“Love was never the issue with us,” Sam says. “We’ve got enough love between us to power a small planet.”
He’s not wrong.
“What about kids?” Dean asks before thinking.
Sam shifts, so Dean lifts his head, catches the confused frown on Sam’s brow.
“What about ‘em?”
“Don’t you want kids?” Dean says. “Grandkids?”
The corners of Sam’s mouth turn down and he tilts his head quizzically.
“Never really thought about it.” He lifts his eyes to Dean’s. “Do you want kids?”
Dean’s never really thought about it either. He always assumed he’d end up dead before there was a chance of that happening.
“I dunno,” he admits honestly. “Bringing kids into this world feels pretty risky. Not sure it’d be a good idea, even if we could.”
“We could always adopt,” Sam reminds him.
Dean thinks about that for a hot minute, then shakes his head.
“There’s still things out there gunning for us, Sam. Wouldn’t be fair to bring a kid into that. Too dangerous.”
Sam doesn’t argue with him, and Dean has a feeling he’s relieved.
“Guess it’s just us, then,” Sam says, giving Dean’s hand a squeeze.
When the fire burns low, they get ready for bed the way they always do. They take turns in the bathroom, change into sleepwear, fold down the blankets on the bed. Sam sits up reading for a few minutes as Dean gets comfortable, then he puts his book down and shuts off the light.
The room is illuminated by the moon, which is nearly full and casts a shadowy blue light across the walls. Crickets and the lap of waves on the shore of the lake are the only sounds. Dean stares up at the ceiling, heart pounding so loud he thinks Sam must be able to hear it.
Sam shifts onto his side, props himself up on one elbow. When Dean turns his head to look at him, Sam’s eyes seem to glisten in the dim light.
“We don’t have to do anything, if you don’t want to,” Sam says. “Tonight, I mean. I wasn’t angling to get laid when I kissed you. I just wanted to show you why I’d never leave you.”
Sam’s like the perfect boyfriend. Patient, forgiving, ridiculously accommodating. Dean feels like a fumbling, demanding bitch by comparison. Definitely high maintenance.
Sam’s also better at hiding his feelings than Dean could ever hope to be. Dean had no fucking idea. It never would’ve even occurred to him that Sam felt the same way.
Hell, Sam’s just a better person, all around. Dean doesn’t deserve him. Sam deserves somebody better. Broken record, spinning and spinning in Dean’s head.
“You know I’m still the big brother, right?”
Sam rolls his eyes. “You call the shots, yeah.”
“Not sure I’m up to being the big man on campus in this new thing between us,” Dean says. “I’m a little incapacitated.”
Sam grins. “You can just lie there and think of England, if you want to,” he suggests.
Dean frowns. “Think of what?”
Sam rolls his eyes. “Never mind. Let me do the work.”
Which is how Dean learns about topping from the bottom.
Watching Sam come apart on Dean’s dick is the hottest thing he’s ever seen, hotter than any porn, hotter than that stupid mirror that started all this. Dean’s grateful to the damn thing for finally forcing him to face the thing that led to this, because it’s the best thing ever. He couldn’t have imagined loving Sam even a tiny bit more than he already did, but when Sam makes those incredible little gasping sounds, lips parted and eyes squeezed shut, Dean’s certain he’s died and gone to Heaven.
Heaven couldn’t be any better than this, that’s for damn sure.
Holding Sam afterwards, safe and warm and snoring lightly into Dean’s chest, feels like winning the lottery and Christmas all rolled into one. Sam’s love is the most precious gift Dean’s ever received, and although part of him still can’t quite believe he has it, the deeper part of him knows he always has.
Dean’s a damn lucky man after all.
Bak to Masterpost