The Long and Winding Road (amypond45) wrote,
The Long and Winding Road
amypond45

The Time Traveler's Brother - Chapter Four

When Dean wakes up, Old Sam is gone. Dean gets up to use the john, grabs some clean underwear, then climbs into bed with his little brother, tucking his small body against him the way Old Sam held Dean before. He buries his face in Sammy's soft hair, breathing deeply, pushes his lips against the back of his head. The surge of emotion he experiences at that moment surprises him; it's like something has altered between him and Sam, some fundamental line has been crossed, a new level of intimacy forged. He laces his little brother's fingers in his, scoots up tight against Sam's back and whispers, "Love you, Sam," so softly it's like a breath, like a prayer. Sammy's body stiffens for a moment, then he mumbles something completely unintelligible in his sleep, squeezing Dean's fingers and hugging Dean's arm against his chest before he relaxes again, breathing deeply.

The next time Dean wakes up he's painfully hard, so he gets up to take a shower, taking his time, using the memories of last night to wring out two more orgasms before he gets dressed and goes out to find breakfast.

John gets back later that day and takes them on another hunt, this one involving a poltergeist on Long Island. Being so close to New York City is too much for Dean's sex-and-rock-n-roll-addled brain not to take advantage of, and he's on the LIRR as soon as the hunt is done, heading into Manhattan and straight to CBGB's, heart pounding and palms sweating at the thought of standing in the room where some of the greatest rock stars of all time have played.

He's deep in his fantasy of being a permanent part of the rock scene, joining a band and just hitting the road, so that when some girls invite him to join them, then get him so smashed the room starts to spin, he doesn't even hear his dad's voice calling his name at first, not until John is right there, tall and imposing and staring down the club manager, who apologizes profusely as John half drags, half carries Dean out of the club and into the car, where Sammy huddles in the back seat, staring at him with wide eyes.

But even as Dean protests loudly, complains drunkenly and irrationally that he could've taken care of himself, he was doing fine, John should trust him, damn it! he remembers the moment he glanced across the crowded room and saw Old Sam standing there, silent and watchful, his brow furrowed, shaking his head a little like he was seeing a part of Dean that seems too familiar, like this is nothing new.

*

Nothing really changes after that, but Dean later looks back on the next year or so as his wild days, the crazy days of adolescence, when his emotions and hormones get the better of his judgement, when he's almost out of his mind with his own natural urges. It's a nearly-constant fantasy for him these days, becoming a rock star, hitting the road with a group of guys and playing night after night to crowds of adoring fans, mostly gorgeous girls who are willing to do anything to keep his attention. He daydreams all the time, surrounds himself with loud, pounding music, blasting it on his little Sony Walkman. It keeps his mind off the reality of his life, off the feel of his silver knife cutting through skin and muscle and bone, the cry of the dying creatures whose blood spills out all over his hands and his clothes and makes him sick at first, then numb and panicked with his growing inability to feel for the things he kills.

They spend that fall and winter at Bobby Singer's place, where Sam starts the fifth grade and Dean is a freshman in high school. Bobby takes them hunting for game, an experience that leaves Sam reeling from his first kill, and leaves Dean sobbing alone in the garage, unable to shake the look in the dying animal's eyes, triggering as it does for him the guilt that he refuses to feel when he's killing anything supernatural. He makes Bobby take him out again as soon as he can, kills without hesitation this time, without remorse, to show that he can.

"It's okay to feel sad about killing an animal, Dean," Bobby assures him as they're grilling their elk steaks the next night. "The Indians believed you should thank the animal for giving up its life, and your gratitude would appease the gods."

"Native Americans," Sammy corrects from the couch, where he's curled up with a book, as usual these days. "They're called Native Americans, not Indians."

"Okay, Sam, whatever," Dean rolls his eyes.

"I guess killing is killing," he says to Bobby. "It's what we do, either because we gotta eat, or cuz we gotta protect people and make the world a safer place, right?"

Bobby shakes his head slowly.

"Dunno, son," he considers. "I think there's a difference. Animals are innocents. They don't do evil things. They don't deserve to die. Now your average monster exists for one purpose: to feed off of and destroy human lives. We have a responsibility to stop those things. So my point is, an animal giving its life up so you can eat is one thing. Killing monsters that deserve to die, that's something else."

Dean shakes his head. "Killing is killing," he repeats. "Feels the same, in the moment, cuz either way, you're taking a life."

Bobby studies him for a moment, pursing his lips.

"Some people would argue that those monsters we kill, they ain't alive in the first place. They're just existing. Now I don't know anything about souls, but I'd guess they don't have any, or if they do they're black and twisted and evil and really don't count."

"I don't know, Bobby," Dean says, still shaking his head. "When I'm killing something, it sure feels alive while I'm doin' it."

"You know what your dad says," Bobby reminds him. "It's all about your attitude. You gotta think about the monster that killed your loved one. You gotta remind yourself when you're killing a monster, you're saving somebody from going through what you went through. You gotta pretend you're killing the thing that killed your mom, every damn time."

Dean nods, swallows, looks down at the potatoes he's mashing.

"Yeah, I get that," he agrees. "That's what Dad says, and I get that. It's just – in the moment, when I'm sliding that knife in and the thing is just looking at me like it knows it's gonna die and I'm the one doing it..."

"You're putting it out of its misery, son," Bobby says firmly. "That's all it is. Ending its miserable, evil existence. Doing it a favor, really, if you need to feel some sympathy. Doing the right thing."

"Always feels wrong somehow anyway," Dean shakes his head a little. "Like every time I kill something, I'm cutting off a little piece of myself."

Bobby frowns, looks up from his grilling to stare at Dean for a minute.

"You've got the soul of a poet, Dean," he blurts out, then blushes a little and shakes his head, like he can't quite believe he just said that. "Come on, let's get these plates on the table."

And just like that, the philosophy lesson is over.

*

The next year passes pretty much the same. John takes the boys on the road around the end of March, stopping for a month or two at a time so Sammy can go to school. Dean goes too, but his heart's not really in it anymore. The subjects are getting harder, and he hates the remedial classes he gets assigned to, so by the end of the school year he's pretty much stopped going to classes, spends most of his time hanging around auto shops and music stores.

Sometimes John shows up to take them hunting on the weekends, or during school breaks, and sometimes he just shows up to take Dean to the driving range or to help him practice his pool game. That summer he sends Dean to a military training camp for teenage boys, run by an old Marine buddy of John's, and Dean has a chance to go up against Marines and special ops soldiers, improving his hand-to-hand combat skills about five-hundred-percent in the process. He also gets more wilderness training with Sammy, whose marksmanship is improving at an astronomical rate. John tells Sammy he's on the road to being the best sharp-shooter John's ever seen, and John's no slouch in that department himself.

After that night in Louisiana – the night Dean thinks about more than is healthy, probably – Old Sam's visits become random and rare for awhile, like he's deliberately staying away. But when he does appear and they're alone, Dean doesn't hesitate, just pushes the big guy up against whatever wall or table or other surface there is and makes out with him. He tries to do more, but Old Sam isn't having it, won't let him do more than kiss and feel him up. Sometimes he rubs himself off on Old Sam, just comes hard in his jeans. Sometimes it turns into a wrestling match, and then it actually becomes part of Dean's training, which is fucked up in ways he tries not to think about too much.

Because Old Sam is huge, and Dean doesn't seem to be growing fast enough. By the summer of his sixteenth year, Dean faces the fact that he hasn't grown much in almost a year, and he may just be as tall as he's ever gonna get. Which pisses him off, because he's still shorter than his father, and almost a foot shorter than his full-grown younger brother, which seems unbelievably unfair. Especially since the eleven-year-old version of Sam is still a total pipsqueak.

"You're not exactly short, Dean," Old Sam assures him when he complains about it. "And you make up in muscle what you lack in height."

"Wait, so this is it?" Dean stares, more frustrated than he's willing to let Old Sam see. "This is as tall as I'm gonna get?"

"Well, maybe another inch," Old Sam stands close, so he can compare Dean's height to his own, and it's damned humiliating, is what it is.

"But I'm the older brother," Dean protests. "And you – you're a total freak of nature. How are you even possible? My Sammy is like two-feet tall. When does this happen to you? Did you get hexed by some giant-making witch or something?"

Old Sam shakes his head. "Ew, no, Dean. Yuck. I don't know. I just – grew. Kinda late, I guess. College maybe."

"Well, thank God for small favors," Dean mutters. "At least I got a few years when I can still beat the crap outta ya when I need to."

They're back at Bobby's that fall, and it's been about three months since Old Sam last showed up, so Dean's been seeing a lot of girls, and he's even semi-steady with one, which bothers him because he feels like he's cheating. It makes him miss Old Sam more than he should, confuses him because who is it he's cheating on again? That older version of his little brother? Or the little brother who isn't old enough to care yet? All he knows is, whenever he gets back from a particularly hot date with Emily, all he wants to do is jerk off with a pair of his brother's underwear.

Forever.

When Old Sam finally shows up in the garage, Dean drops his oil rag and grabs fistfuls of Old Sam's shirts, pushes him up against the wall and just lays one on him, shoving one leg between Old Sam's and thrusting his hips against Old Sam's thigh as he kisses him. Old Sam holds him steady as Dean plunders his warm, wet mouth, letting Dean just maul him with his tongue, rut against him till he's panting and flushed.

The sound of a wrench hitting the floor makes Dean pull back, glance over reflectively to see Sammy standing in the doorway, staring, his cheeks flushed bright red, eyes round and bright, pink mouth open and curled into an almost-perfect "o". His eyes flicker from Dean to Old Sam, to where Dean has his leg pressed up against Old Sam's crotch, to the floor where the wrench is lying, obviously just dropped in shock when Sammy came through the door and saw Dean and Old Sam going at it.

Dean pulls away from Old Sam, starts to move toward Sammy, instinct to protect, to help his little brother breaking through the sex-crazed fog of his downstairs brain – but Sammy steps back, closing his mouth and shaking his head a little, then turns and runs.

"Sammy, wait! I can explain!"

Dean's urge to run after his brother is only prevented by Old Sam's hand on his arm, by Old Sam's soft, "Don't. I remember this. Just – let him have some space."

Dean hesitates uncertainly, torn between comforting his little brother and trusting his older one, decides he's too dazed and confused to think clearly either way.

"What – what just happened?" he stares after Sammy for a moment, then looks up at Old Sam, frowning.

Old Sam's face softens and his mouth turns up in a little smile, making his dimples show. He's about the same age he was the last time Dean saw him, and the time before that, making Dean think he's still about twenty-five, like he was in the motel in Louisiana, when they –

"It's the first time I realized I was in love with you," Old Sam says shyly, keeping his head down so he's shooting little glances at Dean through his lashes, which are fluttering against his pink cheeks. He's blushing, Dean realizes, and decides right then that it's the cutest thing he's ever seen, even if it shouldn't be because the guy is gigantic and powerful and cute is not something that should ever be used to describe something so big.

"I saw you making out with this guy in the garage and I – I wanted that," Old Sam continues, grinning stupidly. "With you."

"Wait – some guy," Dean clarifies. "You mean you didn't recognize yourself? You didn't realize it was you?"

Old Sam looks up then, stares at him, blinks.

"You never told me, remember?" he says, huffing a breath, vaguely indignant. "Yours and Dad's secret – don't tell Sammy he's a time-traveler. Remember? I had no idea."

Now it's Dean's turn to stare, to think back, to try to make sense of what Old Sam is saying.

"Seriously? All those years? All those times you hung out with us, you never had a clue?"

Old Sam swings his arms wide, shrugs, raises his eyebrows.

"How was I supposed to know? There was this guy who hung around with us, yeah, and I sort of understood that there was some secret about him, because I knew better than to tell Dad when he was there. He was your secret and I was helping you keep it, and I was totally on board with that because you were so happy whenever he was there."

Dean can't stop staring. This is just so crazy.

"I never told you because I just assumed you knew," he says helplessly. "I figured you had some sixth sense or something, being such a special kid 'n all. You seriously never knew?"

"Not till I started traveling," Old Sam shrugs. "Then it became clear real fast. Then this made sense." He sweeps his arm up, gesturing to the space they were both standing in a few moments before, referring to the scene Sammy just walked in on.

"Until then, I was just dealing with finding out my brother was at least not exclusively into girls, which is what I thought before this moment, and trust me, that was a problem for me that I was just starting to face, so this was – a revelation. In a good way."

"Wow," Dean breathes, scrubbing a hand over his face, then widens his stance and puts both hands on his hips. He's vaguely aware that he's still covered in grease, still wearing only a tee-shirt and jeans, and that Old Sam is trying not to stare too hard at his biceps. "Sam – you were only eleven years old!"

Old Sam shrugs. "It took a while to process," he nods. "I didn't understand all the feelings I was having at first, but later, and for sure by my twelfth birthday, I was pretty much a goner. Never looked back. You – you were it for me, from that moment on."

Dean feels a warm rush of affection in his chest, feels it soften his features, making him smile fondly at Old Sam.

"Yeah," he breathes. "Same here, I think." He shakes his head. "Why is this not fucked up, again?"

Old Sam shrugs. "Maybe it is, but it's what we are. It's the bond between us. Later on, through everything that happens, it's the thing that keeps us together. That makes us who we are. It becomes – it's the reason we survive."

Dean considers this, studies the sincerity in Old Sam's face, winks at him.

"We get to have sex?" he asks. "Lots of sex?"

Old Sam blushes, grins ear to ear despite himself, mutters, "Oh my God, Dean, you're such a jerk."

"Come on," Dean coaxes, throwing his arms wide and puffing his chest out. "I'll bet you love me all covered in grease, back there in your future. So what'd'ya say?"

"Dean, you're fifteen years old," Old Sam shakes his head.

"So?" Dean's not one to back down from a challenge, no sir. "How old were you the first time I fucked you? Huh?"

"Oh my God, we are not talking about this," Old Sam blushes harder, if that's even possible, and now his eyes are sparkling.

"Don't have to talk at all," Dean waggles his eyebrows, steps boldly closer, slips his hands around Old Sam's slim waist, under his shirts, grabs his belt loops and yanks Old Sam's body against his, lifts his face to be kissed.

Old Sam hesitates only a moment, his eyes softening, lips parting as he cups Dean's face with both huge hands, accepts the contact of their bodies pressed together like it feels as familiar to him as it does to Dean. As he leans in Dean closes his eyes, feels Old Sam's lips press against his forehead, then his temple, the ball of his cheek, his eyelid, the corner of his mouth, before pressing soft, chaste kisses to Dean's lips. When he pulls back, leans his forehead against Dean's and sighs, Dean lets him, breathing the air between them, pulling his brother's air into his lungs.

"I can't, Dean," Old Sam says finally. "I have to go back. To you."

Dean thinks about this for a minute, then tips his head back so he can look up at Old Sam.

"Not cheating if it's with me," he tries, but he knows Old Sam won't. Not today. He's got that set look to his jaw, that stubborn glint in his eyes, even if they are blown almost black.

Old Sam still has his face in his hands, his thumbs idly caressing Dean's cheekbones. He shakes his head a little, smiling, then leans in to press one more soft kiss to the outer corner of Dean's eye, leaving his lips there for a second too long, flooding Dean's senses with powerful feelings he can't even begin to understand.

Then he's gone, leaving Dean unbalanced and empty, the air unnaturally cold and still.

*

Old Sam visits frequently that fall, always showing up in the garage when Dean is alone, which is new. Dean spends every spare afternoon after school in the garage working on the Mustang, and sometimes Sammy comes with him, curls up in a corner or in the car with a book while Dean works. Then Sam gets a part in the school play and his afternoons are absorbed with play rehearsals. After Old Sam's appearances have become daily for a while Dean stops attacking him every time he shows up, deciding this new pattern must mean something.

Old Sam is just annoyed.

"Why am I here?" he asks when it's the fifth day in a row and he seems to be coming from the same time in the future, so it's a pattern there too.

"I don't know," Dean's under the hood, tightening the brackets on the new engine block he's installed. "Maybe you're stuck."

Old Sam frowns, paces a little, looking around the garage like the answer's on the wall somewhere.

"I mean, I was just here. Everything's fine. You're fine. Why do I keep coming here?"

Dean stands up, lays the wrench down on his work table, wipes his hands on the oil cloth.

"Hell if I know, Sam," he says. "Maybe you're supposed to help me with this car. I got three months to get it running. It's an emergency."

Old Sam shakes his head, still pacing.

"I mean, this was a fairly stable period in our lives, right? We were staying with Bobby, you had this car every day after school to keep you out of trouble, I was – I was in that play, right? The Music Man?"

Dean finds a can of oil, opens it and starts adding it to the engine.

"Yep," he agrees, trying not to watch Old Sam's ass as it passes in and out of his peripheral vision.

"So I don't get it," Old Sam finishes, sweeping his arms up and letting them fall in a giant gesture of confused surrender.

"Maybe you've got it turned around," Dean suggests, finishing the can and tapping out the final drips before tossing the can in the trash.

"What?" Old Sam stares, frowning.

"Well, maybe you're not coming here for me," Dean shrugs, wiping his hands again. "Maybe you're getting away from him. Me. Old me. I'll bet I can be a real dick sometimes."

Old Sam's smile is a little wan, and Dean has a hunch he's not wrong. He leans back against the workbench and looks Old Sam up and down. His brother looks tired, like he's not sleeping well. Like something is really bothering him.

"What's going on in your time?" Dean asks, then shakes his head as Old Sam winces. "No, I know you can't tell me, but – you're older than that time last year, so whatever happened to me, when you thought I was dead? Guess I'm not after all, right?"

Old Sam shifts his feet uncomfortably, looks away with a pained expression.

"Dean, I can't – "

"No, I know, I get it. I'm just saying – you look awful, Sam, like you're not taking very good care of yourself. Like something's wrong. Are we on the outs or something?"

Dean means it as a joke, because he can't imagine ever being apart from Sam, not deliberately. But Old Sam tightens his jaw, looks away, and there are tears in his eyes suddenly, so he knows he's hit the nail on the head. It makes Dean's chest hurt. Makes it hard to breathe.

"Sam?" he prompts, because he needs Old Sam to say it.

Old Sam bites his lip, glances briefly at him, then looks away again, like the sight of Dean is too painful for him, and this is so wrong Dean can't think straight. His head hurts.

"I'm sort of seeing someone," Sam admits finally, choking a little on his words. "Someone else."

It's like all the air in the room is suddenly sucked out, and Dean gasps, clutches his chest, falls writhing to the floor in a mass of broken bones and bleeding limbs –

Or at least, it feels that way. In reality, Dean's still leaning against the work bench, hands grasping the edges for balance, staring at Old Sam in disbelief.

"No." The word punches out of him before he can stop it, but it's out there, so he might as well repeat it. "No, Sam. No. You can't. You – you told me we're soul-mated, remember? You can't. We haven't even – "

"I'm sorry," Old Sam shifts his feet again, has his hands on his hips, like he's steadying himself. "You were gone, all right? I was alone and she – She was there when I was suffering, really missing you – "

"You had me, Sam!" Dean blurts out, pushing himself off the bench, suddenly furious. "You could've come to me. To me! Anytime! I'm all over your damn life, you big jerk-wad. Everywhere!"

Old Sam is shaking his head. "I wasn't traveling," he says desperately. "After that first time – with you – I couldn't get back to you, no matter what I did. I tried! Dean, you have to believe me I tried! I did everything I could think of – I did bad things, things I'm not proud of, things I shouldn't have done, trying to get you back or just to get to you here, in the past. You have to believe me, I tried!"

By the end of his speech Old Sam is trembling, tears sliding down his cheeks, miserable and broken and clearly not happy. Seeing him like this always does something to Dean's insides, turns on that switch that insists he has to fix it, make Sammy better, no matter the cost. And suddenly it just doesn't matter that some future version of himself has Sammy cheating on him. That guy isn't him, and there's no way Dean would would let that happen. He's across the room and pulling Old Sam into his arms before he can stop himself, before he thinks, before his brain can tell him not to.

"Okay, it's okay, I believe you," he murmurs as he wraps his arms around the solid man-mountain, who hunches and shivers and melts into him without a moment's hesitation. "I know I'm not him, and I'm sure he's pissed as hell at you right now, but I believe you, okay? Even if he's too stubborn or whatever to say it, I believe you, Sam."

"Oh God – " Old Sam sobs into Dean's ear, leaning down so he can completely engulf his brother in his arms, hold him tight. "I'm so sorry. I'm just so, so sorry, Dean."

"I know you are," Dean murmurs, rubbing circles on Old Sam's broad back. "It's okay, I promise. It's gonna be okay."

But he's still reeling a few minutes later, when Old Sam has calmed down enough to let Dean kiss him. Old Sam's kisses are dry with despair and sour with sorrow, and he starts breaking down again almost immediately, apologizing against Dean's lips till Dean finally gives up trying to make out with him and just makes him sit down, then goes to get him a bottle of water.

When he gets back, Old Sam is gone.

*

That evening, Dean sits watching Sammy for a long time as he studies, pretending to clean his gun. Eventually Sam feels Dean's eyes on him, looks up.

"What?" Sam demands, but Dean shakes his head, gives a little shrug.

"Nothin'," he says.

But it ain't nothin'. It ain't nothin' to think of Sammy leaving him, to think of Sammy taking up with someone else. A girl, no less. Even if it hasn't happened yet, even if it's still fifteen years in the future, it hurts. It hurts right here, right now, to think that there's something that happens that makes Sammy do that.

"Hey, Sammy, how 'bout you 'n' me go to the movies tomorrow night," Dean offers suddenly, not even really thinking, just saying.

Sam looks up, surprised.

"Tomorrow's Friday," he says, blinking.

"Yeah?" Dean shrugs.

"Well – I mean – usually you go out with – I mean –, " Sammy seems flustered, "Don't you have a date with Emily?"

Dean hesitates, seeing the whole thing from Sammy's point of view for the first time because yeah, he usually does go out with a girl on the weekends. It doesn't really mean anything; it's just part of his routine. He gets a little action, she always seems happy enough, so he doesn't really think about it, but from Sammy's point of view...

"I'd rather go out with you," Dean says. "Besides. It's the new Tarantino movie. Chicks hate that stuff."

"Pulp Fiction?" Sam's suddenly excited. "You can get us into Pulp Fiction?"

"Sure I can," Dean boasts. "I got my fake i.d. right here says I'm eighteen. So what'd'ya say?"

"Hell yeah!"

So the next night they borrow Bobby's truck – and Dean may be three months short of his sixteenth birthday but he's been driving for almost two years and he's got the fake license to prove it – and Dean takes his little brother to the movies, buys him popcorn and those stupid sugary things he likes, brushes shoulders with him as they share the tub of salty stuff and watch the crazy, violent film.

Dean remembers what Old Sam told him, so he's aware of Sammy's shyness when their fingers touch, feels Sammy shift a little in his seat so their arms are pressed together on the armrest from shoulder to wrist. After the movie Dean slings his arm around Sammy's neck, pulls him in close and plants a smacking kiss on the side of his head, then leaves his arm around him for the walk back to the truck. He's aware of Sammy staring at him as he drives, and when he glances over, the look on Sammy's face is one of such open adoration it makes Dean's insides split open and eat themselves. Because honestly, even at eleven, Sammy is gorgeous, and the idea that this boy – his brother – is his – the idea that Sammy belongs to Dean, willingly and completely – it's pretty much the only thing that matters. And Dean would never, ever, do anything to jeopardize that. He can't imagine betraying the trust that Sammy has in him. It's just not in him.

Which is why he takes girls out, and someday Sam may understand that, even if it hurts now, because Dean's protecting him, letting him grow up before Dean claims what's already his.

*//*

"How old were you the first time I – you know. The first time," Dean asks Old Sam when he shows up a few days later, after Dean's had a few minutes to kiss him and feel him up and Old Sam has captured Dean's wrists in his giant paws because he always has to control everything, the little bitch.

Old Sam grins at him, and suddenly the room is brighter, as it always is when Old Sam smiles.

"You mean the first time I kissed you," Old Sam clarifies with a low chuckle.

"No way," Dean shakes his head. "I'm totally the guy in this relationship. Plus I'm older. So when I first kissed you, how old were you?"

"I was fourteen," Old Sam says. "And you were horrified."

Dean stares, trying and failing to imagine a situation in which he would lay one on a fourteen-year-old.

"But there were little moments, even before that," Old Sam goes on, still grinning. "You let me hold your hand sometimes, or lie together in the back seat of the car, when I'm pretty sure you could tell I had a hard-on, but you didn't push me away. You let me kiss your neck sometimes, when we slept together."

"No way," Dean finally finds his voice, shakes his head. "No way was I encouraging you when you were that young. That's just – that's so wrong!"

Old Sam rolls his eyes. "Yeah, whatever. I could be pretty pushy, pretty demanding. It wasn't really your fault."

"Yes, it was, Sam," Dean insists. "I'm the older one. I'm in charge. You – I shouldn't have let that happen."

Old Sam shakes his head. "I was afraid you didn't feel that way toward me," he explains. "You never once let on that you did. I figured you were tolerating my touches, my kisses, because I was your little brother and you were just putting up with me."

"You know how I feel about you," Dean protests, and Old Sam shakes his head sharply.

"Now I do, Dean, but when I was fourteen? You were so careful with me, always. Like I was a fuckin' piece of china or something. Like you were afraid of corrupting me. As if," Old Sam scoffs.

Dean thinks about the little boy who is his brother in this timeline, and he feels immediately the fierce, protective instinct, the overwhelming desire to give Sammy a normal life.

Being in love with your brother is not normal.

"I'm sorry, Sam," Dean says now, looking up at Old Sam with real remorse, feeling tears smarting the backs of his eyes. "I just wanted to keep you safe. I didn't mean to make you feel like a freak."

Old Sam's gaze softens. He runs his thumbs over Dean's cheekbones, then his lips, parting his own lips as he looks at Dean's.

"I'm not the one who needs to hear that," Old Sam says quietly. "For me, that kiss happened twelve years ago."

Dean makes a silent vow that when his fourteen-year-old brother lays one on him, he will not freak out.

"When you were four, you used to tell me you were gonna marry me someday," Dean says. "You remember that?"

Old Sam shakes his head.

"I used to tell you, 'Boys can't marry other boys, Sammy,' but you didn't listen. You were a stubborn little bastard."

Old Sam smiles. "In my time, they can," he says, and when Dean lifts his eyebrows questioningly, Old Sam clarifies. "Gay marriage is legal in most of the country now."

"Huh," Dean's only mildly interested; it never occurred to him, the idea of being married to someone of the same gender. Being married in the first place is a state Dean is fairly sure he will never enter.

"Pretty sure that law still don't include brothers," he comments, and Old Sam shakes his head.

"No, you'd be right about that," he agrees, a little sadly, Dean thinks, which is interesting.

"Hey," he's still standing between Old Sam's thighs, hands on Old Sam's warm waist, playing with the belt loops on his jeans with his thumbs while Old Sam caresses his face.

"Hey," Old Sam leans in, and Dean's afraid he's gonna get more of those tender, adoring kisses Old Sam seems to need to cover his face with, so he surges up and captures Old Sam's lips, plundering his mouth eagerly before he has a chance. Their tongues battle and slide and Dean pushes in tight, up against Old Sam's crotch, seeking friction as his hands slip under Old Sam's shirt, finding warm skin, kneading his back muscles in hard, rhythmic grasps before slipping down to his waist again. As Dean's hand pushes under Old Sam's waistband, palming the curve of his ass under his jeans, Old Sam finally gets one hand between them, flat against Dean's chest, and pushes him back, gently but firmly at first, then harder when Dean responds by shoving his hand deeper into the back of Old Sam's jeans.

"Stop!" Old Sam gasps as he finally manages to tear his mouth from Dean's, pushes him back enough to separate their bodies.

"Why?" Dean demands, stumbling back so their only contact is Old Sam's hand on his chest. He's panting, breathless; his lips feel swollen and he's so hard he could cut diamonds. "Why, Sam? Why do you keep pushing me away?"

"You know why," Old Sam's pupils are blown, the front of his jeans look uncomfortably tight, and Dean knows he's fighting his own urge to give in to this need for Dean that Dean wishes he would just give in to, for God's sake. "I can't do this with you. You're just a kid."

"Oh, like you weren't a kid the first time Old Me fucked you," Dean growls, and he knows he sounds petulant, but Goddamn it, this blue-balls thing with Old Sam is getting old real fast.

Old Sam's face turns red, then almost purple, but he won't look Dean in the eye so Dean knows he's right; he's seen Old Sam at sixteen and he knows Old Sam was already fucking his brother.

"You regretted it," Old Sam blurts out, sounding desperate. "You wouldn't touch me for weeks. It – I pushed too hard and you did something you didn't really want to do. I can't – I can't do that to you."

"Sure you can, Sam," Dean steps back, out of Old Sam's reach, and sweeps his arms out. "I'm right here, right now, giving you my permission. What more do you want? A Goddamn gold-leaf invitation with one of those little stamped reply cards?"

Old Sam keeps shaking his head. "I can't, Dean, it's wrong."

"Oh," Dean feels the snark rising in him, can't resist. "Now you're the one who's holding to the moral high ground. It's not enough, me promising to make sure my little brother doesn't feel like a freak for having the hots for his brother. Now you have to make my decisions for me like I'm a little kid. Like I'm the little brother. Well, news flash, Sam: I never had a childhood. I was never a kid, and I sure ain't one now. So you don't wanna piece of this fine ass, fine. I guess I'll just have to find somebody who does."

Old Sam's eyes widen and he looks like he's been slapped.

"You don't mean that," he says, sudden desperation making his voice rise.

"Why not?" Dean tips his chin up defiantly. Damn Sam and his moral standards anyway. "Seems to me somebody taught me everything I know about guy-on-guy action. I kinda figured it was you, but if you can't dig your way out of whatever high-and-mighty hole you've dug for yourself, I might just have to find somebody who can."

Old Sam's mouth opens, then closes again. He's red as a beet and momentarily speechless with what looks like genuine revulsion.

Good.

"You – you don't know what you're asking," Old Sam protests.

"Pretty sure I do, Sam," Dean shrugs. "And I can promise you, I'd rather it was you, but I ain't gonna wait forever."

"Dean, you're – you're a virgin," Old Sam shakes his head.

"By choice, Sammy, by choice," Dean goes for bravado, knows how it usually works to conceal the anxiety he feels, gnawing away just under the surface. "I got girls lined up for the chance to taste this cherry, I can promise you. And I'm pretty sure there's a guy or two, if I start looking. Haven't had any reason to yet, but if you don't want the job – "

"Damn it, Dean, how can you be so reckless and cocksure about something like this?" Old Sam keeps shaking his head, and Dean can tell his shocked-and-appalled act isn't the whole story because he can see the little grin at the corners of Old Sam's soft lips, can see the evidence if his interest in the idea of deflowering his older brother right there between his legs.

"So what'd'ya say, Sam?" Dean prompts, confidence returning in the face of his brother's obvious discomfort. "You gonna do the right thing here?"

"Damn it, Dean, you – you don't even know how impossible you are," Old Sam huffs, shifting his feet in an obvious effort to ease the tightness in his jeans.

Dean saunters closer, looks up at Old Sam from under his lashes, giving him the full force of the Dean Winchester charm and sex appeal.

"You wanna show me, Sam?" he asks, making his voice purr. "You wanna show me how impossible I am?"

Old Sam actually closes his eyes, buries his face in his hands, then runs them back through his hair, and Dean waits, watching the expression on the older man's beautiful face, watching the effect he's having play out on those gorgeous features.

"Fuck," Old Sam sighs, squares his jaw, finally looks back at Dean as he huffs out another breath. "Okay. Listen. Maybe. But you gotta wait. We gotta wait till you're sixteen. Okay? We wait. God, I can't believe I'm saying this."

He seems so uncomfortable Dean almost gives in, almost gathers him into his arms and tells him to just forget it, he'll be fine waiting till Old Sam is ready, they can do it his way.

It's two months till his sixteenth birthday. Two whole months.

Damn.

"You gonna let me make out with you till then?" Dean asks, like he's still negotiating. Like he hasn't won.

"Okay," Old Sam sighs. "Okay. Whatever. Alright."

"If you're younger next time you come, I'm not letting you off the hook," Dean reminds him, and Old Sam shakes his head.

"I'd remember this, believe me," Old Sam says. "No way am I younger next time you see me."

Wow, Dean thinks. I'm gonna fuck a dude almost twice my age.

Okay then.

He tries to keep the anxiety off of his face as he reaches up to tuck a rebellious strand of hair behind Old Sam's ear.

"Hey," Dean smiles, encouraging, and Old Sam glances up, can't stop the corresponding grin that breaks his face open and pours liquid sunshine all over the room. "It's just me."

"Yeah," Old Sam breathes, lets Dean pull him in for a hug, all that giant warm mountain of brother just sagging against him. Dean holds him, feels his weight and thinks about how long he's been huge like this, senses that Old Sam is used to Dean being the smaller man but he still needs to be held, still needs to fall into his big brother's arms. Probably doesn't do it enough.

They stand like that for several minutes, until Dean can feel Old Sam's weight easing, till he starts to fade and shiver, and no matter how tight Dean holds him, he's finally gone, just sliding away back to the future.

Dean is not getting used to this.

*

It's over two months before Dean sees Old Sam again.

Bobby gives Dean the keys to the Mustang on his sixteenth birthday, just like he promised. Dean takes Sammy out on the car's maiden voyage and they're flying down the highway, and Dean's feeling free and reckless and grateful to be alive, with the music blasting and Sammy smiling at him, and for a wild moment Dean realizes he's happy.

Then all hell breaks loose, of course.

Later, Dean can't even remember what the thing looked like, only that it was huge and dark and had wings and swooped down right in front of the car. Dean slams on the brakes, swerves, and is vaguely aware of feeling the car's tires leave the pavement. The car skids on the gravel on the shoulder of the road as Dean fights for control, almost thinks he's got it. Then the thing swoops in again and this time they're flying, hitting something that slams Dean's head into the steering wheel so that he sees stars, then darkness as the car hits something again, hard. Dean feels the impact in his legs and chest, not even aware that his head has hit the wheel again because he's already out. Just before he loses consciousness Dean thinks about the seat-belts he installed just yesterday, almost as an afterthought.

When he wakes up in the hospital his first thought is for Sammy. He's almost hysterical with fear until the nurses assure him his brother is fine, just a slight concussion and some scratches. The seat-belt did its job, kept Sammy from flying through the windshield when the car went into the ditch.

Dean's injuries are a little more serious. He managed to fracture his skull and both legs, so he'll be hauling himself around on crutches for a few weeks. The car is totaled, needless to say, and John is furious. Dean can hear him in the hall, demanding to talk to his son, but the doctors call security and have him removed because he's already caused a scene in the waiting room, yelling at Bobby for being damn fool enough to give the car to Dean in the first place.

"I gave you one job," John growls at Dean when he finally gets in to visit. "One. Take care of your little brother. And this is how you do it. By taking him out on a drunken joyride and just about getting him killed."

"I'm sorry, Dad," Dean feels himself start to tear up, fights it with everything he can.

He doesn't even bother to argue that he wasn't drunk, that John's the one who does the drinking in the family. Old Sam says it, though. Old Sam is almost as angry as Dad. He's pacing the room, furious, stopping every minute or two to stare at Dean, fighting back his own tears.

"I should've been there to stop this," he says. "I should've made sure you didn't get in that car in the first place. I knew about this accident. I could've stopped it."

"It's not a big deal, Sam," Dean insists. "I'm fine. I'll be walking around again in no time."

"You're more vulnerable than ever now," Old Sam shakes his head. "And it's all my fault."

"Not helpless," Dean says indignantly. "I'm not a baby."

But he's aware he's pretty useless as a protector at the moment, that he won't be doing any hunting for awhile, and that Sammy is at greater risk with Dean out of commission. Not to mention, that thing that flew in front of the car matches the description John has for their old arch-enemy, the Angel of Death with a name like his youngest son's, and that's enough to send John into an obsessive tailspin.

John moves them within the week, installs them back at the cabin in Michigan, leaving them with enough supplies for a month, then he takes off, following up Dean's lead from the night of the accident. The thing that killed their mom may finally be making a move on them, now that Sammy's almost twelve, and John can't wait to go after it. Dean doesn't bother asking about the hunt because he can't go, obviously. He's worse than useless because Sammy has to care for him. He can barely get himself outside to piss, much less stand at a stove long enough to cook, or change his Goddamn pants without help.

Sammy valiantly puts up with his grumpiness, seems to actually enjoy being the caregiver for once, which is so weird for Dean it makes him grouchier than ever. It's bad enough being so helpless that he has to have Sam help him get out of bed. It's another thing entirely for Sam to be so goddamn cheerful about it.

Sammy makes them grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for supper, and Dean can't even lift himself out of his sour mood enough to say thank you. He just wants to get drunk and forget that his dad is out there chasing the Angel of Death without back-up. He rejects Sam's offer to play poker using wood chips after supper.

"Wood chips? Really? Feelin' risky are we, Sammy? Wow, raise those stakes, will ya. Real motivating, thinking about the possibility of winning – oh, hell, I don't know, maybe enough kindling to build me a little campfire to roast my marshmallows? Tempting, Sammy. Seriously tempting."

Then he complains when Sam tries to get his bath water warm enough so he can take a sponge bath. "Don't need a fuckin' sponge bath, damn it! Need a real goddamn shower! Fuckin' cabins in the woods with their crappy primitive plumbing! Fuck this shit! Goddamn it!"

And when Sam helps him into bed, then offers to read to him because there's no goddamn TV or even a decent radio in this crap-shit place. "Aw, you gonna read me a bedtime story, Sammy? Really? Gonna get me a teddy bear to sleep with too?"

Dean knows he's being a bastard, sees Sammy making a real effort, and he appreciates it, really he does. He's just not very good at hiding his feelings sometimes, especially when he's feeling useless and helpless and pissed off about it.

Then Old Sam shows up and things get really weird.

Dean's almost asleep, Sammy curled up next to him, turned away from him because who can blame him? Dean's been such an asshole today it's amazing Sammy can stand to sleep in the same bed at all. But of course it's the only bed, and Sammy still can't sleep unless Dean's right there beside him, even at the considerable age of almost-twelve. He's still little, so he doesn't take up much space, even though Dean's almost six-feet tall now, stretches all the way down the bed and usually likes to sleep on his stomach, which is another cause for complaint because the damn casts – Both legs? Really? – just get in the way of letting him sleep comfortably.

Then the air shifts in that familiar way, but something's wrong. Dean's eyes fly open in the dark cabin and he blinks for a minute, getting his bearings. Sammy's deep breathing is the only sound until Dean hears movement at the end of the bed and feels panic flood his veins like ice water. Then he recognizes the shape of Old Sam, standing there at the foot of the bed, staring down at him.

"Hello, Dean," the familiar voice isn't quite right somehow, like there's something missing. "I'm here to make good on our deal, just like I promised. You still good with that?"

Old Sam's voice is deep, heavy with promise, and it makes Dean's dick twitch, makes all the blood rush to his groin.

But his upstairs brain is setting off alarms. Something's not right.

Dean stares up at Old Sam, but he can't quite make out his face in the gloom, so he can't read his expression, isn't sure whether he's smiling or not. Which is way creepier than it should be.

"Sam? You okay?" Dean tries, keeping his own voice soft so as not to wake Sammy.

Instead of answering, Old Sam crosses around the bed so he's standing next to it, closer, and Dean can almost smell him. Old Sam reaches down, takes hold of the old quilt cover, pulls it back slowly, revealing the stark whiteness of the casts on Dean's legs. Dean's wearing loose boxer shorts and a tee-shirt – his standard bed wear – but he feels oddly exposed, almost naked under Old Sam's gaze.

"Shhhh," Old Sam shushes softly. "Don't wanna wake Sammy."

Okay, now Dean's definitely feeling a little creeped out. He watches as Old Sam sits down on the edge of the bed, starts to lean down like he means to kiss him, slips one warm hand up his chest, over his tee-shirt.

That's when Dean smells him. Or doesn't, which is how he knows.

This is not Sam.

Keeping his movements steady, fast, and fluid, just like Dad taught him, Dean slides his hand quickly under his pillow, then scoots up toward the headboard as he pulls out his gun, trains it on Old Sam – or whatever this is that's trying to pass for Old Sam – and growls menacingly.

"What are you?" he demands, sharp and commanding, and Old Sam backs off immediately, puts his hands up but doesn't stand.

"Whoa, whoa, hey there, Dean, it's me. It's Sam. I swear," he says, and Dean keeps the gun trained on him with one hand as he reaches for the light, switches it on. He's aware of Sammy rolling over next to him, awake and watchful, silently blinking in the sudden light.

Old Sam is wearing black, that's the first wrong thing that Dean notices. His black jeans are tight-fitting, his black button-down shirt is immaculate and form-fitting, rolled up at the elbows to expose his massive forearms and an expensive-looking watch. He's got his hair swept back, and there's a certain sheen to it, like he's got something in it to hold it in place.

"Who are you and what have you done with my brother?" Dean demands.

Old Sam – or whoever this is – shakes his head a little, purses his lips – then disappears.

For a moment Dean keeps the gun trained on the place where the creature sat, still on high alert, half-expecting it to re-materialize.

"What was that?" Sammy asks, and his high anxious voice brings Dean back to himself. He lets out a sigh, didn't even realize until that moment that he was holding his breath. He lowers the gun, flips the safety on and tucks it away under his pillow before he answers.

"I dunno."

"Was it – was he – " Sammy frowns, obviously struggling to make sense of half-remembered moments in his past when this had happened before, when Old Sam had appeared and he was their friend, someone to be trusted.

"Some kind of monster, yeah," Dean nods. "Definitely."

They leave the light on that night, and pretty much every night from then on, the idea that something could just appear in their room while they're sleeping leaving both brothers unsettled and anxious.


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