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

FIC: (We've Got to Get Ourselves) Back to the Garden

Something warm and solid lies heavy across his chest.

As Sam comes slowly to consciousness he hears heavy, deep breathing, feels it warm and damp on his neck.

Someone is cuddled against him, someone beloved and familiar, the smell and weight and warmth a comforting constant that keeps Sam halfway asleep, soaking up the muzzy moments before coming fully awake to savor the feel of the body draped over his, the satisfying sense-memories of a night spent making love. Sam's muscles are pleasantly sore, his skin slick with sweat, a layer of sweat from his earlier exertions dried on his back, across his chest.

Sam takes a deep breath, breathing in the smell of sex and sweat and musty motel air. His arm is pinned under his partner's body, and it's gone so numb Sam can barely feel it, so he shifts a little, just to be sure it's still there. Something's niggling at his brain, something sharp that disturbs his peace and makes him shift again, turning his face into his partner's soft hair, nuzzling there, breathing in Irish Spring and Old Spice and sweat.

Sam frowns, puzzled but still too lulled by the sense of familiarity to come fully awake. Then his partner's regular breathing hitches as the sleeper reacts to Sam's movements and snuggles into Sam's side, the scrape of an unshaven chin burrowing into Sam's shoulder, and Sam is suddenly aware of the unusual muscularity of the arm wrapped around his chest, the sleeper's bare leg unusually heavy and hairy where it's draped over one of his, the jut of something hard and hot and naked against his naked hip...

Sam's eyes fly open with a start, heart pounding, suddenly fully awake. He lies still and tense for a moment, hunter's instincts assessing the situation quickly, trying to determine the threat level. There's definitely a naked man sleeping curled around him, and there's been sex, and Sam's definitely been fucked, his body is pretty damn clear on that point. Just as sure as he is that the man in his arms is his brother, Dean.

Sam's not sure what to make of his final deduction, despite the evidence, which seems pretty indisputable. Somehow, however unbelievably, he's had sex with his brother.

He quickly scans his memories; what happened last night? Besides the obvious. Did he drink too much? How is it he can't remember a single detail? Sam's been wasted before, but he's pretty sure he would've remembered if he'd sex with his brother.

Unless this wasn't his brother.

As carefully as he can without disturbing the man sleeping nearly on top of him, Sam slides his free hand under his pillow, gropes around long enough to assure himself that there's no gun or knife hidden there. He rests for a beat, then begins to slowly and carefully extricate himself, scooting away across the bed, hooking his far leg over the edge to pull the lower part of his body off first. He's about to slide out from under the heavy, warm arm on his chest when the man starts to waken. Sam freezes, and the man snuggles in again, murmuring, "It's okay, Sammy, I gotcha," in Dean's low, gravelly voice, then presses his soft, full lips against Sam's shoulder, stroking Sam's chest with his eyes still closed. When Dean's thumb skirts over Sam's nipple an electric shock pierces through him, and Dean chuckles low and warm in his throat and does it again, causing the electric current to shoot straight from Sam's nipple to his dick.

What the fuck?

Dean's lips have parted and Sam feels his tongue – his tongue! – flicking out to suckle at Sam's skin, and he's pretty sure he's gonna end up with a shoulder hickey if Dean doesn't stop soon. Sam steals a glance at Dean's face, but his eyes are still closed and now he's starting to hump lazily against Sam's hip and his thumb has made a stiff peak out of Sam's nipple and he's still doing it and now his hand is traveling south over Sam's belly and –

"Jesus! Fuck!"

Sam is out of the bed so fast he doesn't have time to think about it, yanks open the drawer to the bedside table – empty – and checks under the mattress and under the bed for a weapon, coming up empty handed. He looks around wildly, sees an old duffel on the floor and grabs it, rifling through shirts and socks and miscellaneous toiletries for something, anything, he can use, then dumps it and heads for the door. This is a motel room, he's already figured that out, seen a million like them, and there has to be a razor in the bathroom, maybe a pair of scissors –


Dean's sleepy voice makes him stop, turn on instinct because it's so familiar, because he's positively programmed to respond to his brother's voice, and because Dean sounds so confused, so vulnerable, and Sam doesn't have it in him not to answer.

The man on the bed is rubbing his eyes, blinking up at Sam with those beautiful, familiar green eyes that Sam knows better than his own, pushing himself onto one elbow, perfect ass all round and naked and –

"Who are you and what have you done with my brother?" Sam gives his voice all the command and power he can muster, given that he's a naked man without a weapon. At least he has the guy outmatched size-wise, as long as he isn't a demon or some kind of super-strong shifter or any number of souped-up hybrid monsters.

Dean frowns, opens his eyes wide, holding perfectly still now that Sam has his attention. His gaze flickers over Sam's body, and damn it if a little smirk isn't turning up the corners of that perfect mouth as he gets an eyeful of the Full Monty, embarrassingly more than half-mast with the attention Dean was paying it not two minutes before.

"Answer me!" Sam booms, and Dean's eyes flick right back up to Sam's face.

He doesn't look very worried, though, which makes Sam boil with rage. Now that he can see the dude's face full-on, it's obviously not Dean. He's too old, for one. Guy must be at least thirty-five, a good ten years older than Sam's brother. And he's got a tattoo on his chest...

That's when Sam glances down and notices the exact same tat on his own chest, remembers seeing it there earlier, when the guy was caressing his pec, running his fingers through his chest hair...

"Listen, buddy, either you tell me what's going on right the fuck now, or – "

"Or you'll what, Sam?" Dean smirks at him. "You'll tear me limb from limb with your bare hands? Yeah, I never leave weapons in the room where we sleep any more. Learned that the hard way."

He glances toward the floor behind him, where he obviously dropped his clothes in a hurry in his haste to get naked. With Sam, who can see the pile of his own clothes not two feet away.

"Got a vial of holy water and a silver knife," Dean rumbles carefully, and damn it if the sound of his voice isn't making Sam's spine tingle. "You let me get up, you can test me."

"How do I know they're not fake?" Sam demands.

"You don't," Dean nods approvingly. "But there's some in your pockets too, Sam. Your jacket's hanging in the closet. You put it there last night when we checked in here."

"No, I didn't," Sam shakes his head, furious that he has no memory of this place. "When I went to bed last night, we were in some dive motel near Lincoln."

Dean sighs, purses his lips, and gives a slight nod. Sam's never seen anything sexier, and his dick is definitely paying attention, damn it all to hell anyway. Why do they have to be naked, for God's sake?

"That's what you remember," Dean says. "But that happened a long time ago, Sam. Years."

"What are you talking about?" Sam frowns, notices his own hands for the first time. They're huge and calloused, and the knuckles are criss-crossed with hundreds of old scars, a couple of them gnarled and calcified, as if from old breaks that didn't quite heal right. He looks down at himself, noticing differences right away, besides the obvious dick thing. His body is hard, tough and sinewy, scars he's never seen before on his thighs, his knees, his arms. He reaches up to touch his own face, finds the hard stubble of a day's growth of beard, his hair –

His hair is longer, swept back off his forehead, no bangs.

What the fuck?

"See for yourself, Sam," Dean says quietly from the bed. "You've aged. Not the young buck you remember."

Sam backs up to the bathroom door, keeping an eye on the figure still lying on the bed, pushes the door open and glances into the bathroom mirror. The man looking back at him is at least thirty, probably older, the lines and planes of his angular face sharply defined, the powerful brow almost unrecognizable without the fringe of hair he's so used to. There's a hint of grey at his temples.

"See?" Dean says. "It's you, and I'm me. We just got old."

Sam clenches his jaw, working the thing through in his head.

"What happened?" he asks as he sidles to the closet, reaches in for his jacket. "We get hexed? An aging spell? Why don't I remember?"

He pulls out the knife, checks the blade. Seems to be silver, and the little vial of holy water is unopened, looks authentic.

"No hex, no curse, just you sacrificing yourself to save me from the Mark of Cain," Dean smiles grimly. "Just me getting you back, but with only half your soul. Other half is in Heaven, waiting for us, I guess. The half that has all your memories. Or most of them, anyway."

"What the hell are you talking about? My soul? Heaven? The Mark-of-fuckin'-Cain? Like in the Bible?" Sam feels his voice rise, feels the hysteria building in his chest, approaches the bed slowly, knife in one hand, holy water in the other.

"It's all on your computer, Sam," Dean nods towards the room's only chair, and Sam can see the laptop lying there, under the edge of another jacket. Dean's, probably. "You wake up every morning thinking you're twenty-three, we're on a hunt in Nebraska, Jessica's death is still fresh, and you and me have never – " he waves his hand vaguely at the rumpled bed, at the two of them. "You know. We spend the day after you've had an hour or two to get adjusted, sometimes on a job, sometimes just hanging out, getting reacquainted, sometimes getting lucky, like last night."

Sam has circled the bed by this time, and Dean sits up slowly, swings his legs around so he's sitting facing Sam, and Sam tries his damnedest not to look too closely at Dean's body as he takes the arm Dean offers and presses the blade against the soft, pale skin of his upturned forearm. Dean doesn't even flinch; Sam can see the scars of other knife wounds, and although he knows this one will heal cleanly, he still winces a little as he watches the blood well around the edge of the silver, pulls the knife back right away and tosses the holy water in Dean's face before he has a chance to recover.

Dean blinks, spits, runs a hand over his wet face, glares up at Sam from under stupidly long eyelashes, and Sam suddenly wants to kiss him. Doesn't know where the hell that thought came from, but his body seems to know; it's betraying him again with another boner, or maybe it's the same one...

"Satisfied?" Dean growls. "It's me, okay? Not a shifter, not a demon, just me. Wet me. Old me. Slightly-pissed-off-and-in-dire-need-of-coffee-and-a-shower-me. Got it? Are we good?"

Sam backs up with a slight nod, allowing Dean to get up and head toward the bathroom, trying really hard not to watch Dean's perfect ass as he moves, his muscled legs, the smooth dip of his lower back where it meets the swell of his ass, his strong, broad shoulders.


"Take a look at your laptop while I'm in here," Dean demands just before he shuts the bathroom door behind him. "It's what you always do first thing. Everything's in there."

Well, not everything, Sam thinks as Dean closes the door. There's still the sex thing.

It's not like Sam's never thought about having sex with Dean. God knows, that's not true. He's been fantasizing about it off and on for years, pretty much obsessively since he hit puberty. In fact, it was one of the reasons he left for college in the first place. Getting away from the constant temptation of Dean sleeping right there in the same room, often in the same bed, not to mention the raging jealousy of watching Dean with other people, of smelling them on him when Dean came home – yeah, that was a huge part of why he left, if Sam was honest with himself.

Fighting those feelings, resisting that urge, had then become just as much of an obsession, so that after almost four years at school, spent mostly away from Dean except for one disastrous visit spent mostly yelling and fist-fighting because Sam was fairly bursting with frustration and Dean couldn't seem to stop teasing him, Sam thought he had himself enough under control to join Dean on some hunts again, help him search for their dad, try to find Jessica's killer. Sam's grown up now, not just a horny teenager; he'd managed a stable relationship with someone besides Dean, and that gave him the confidence to hunt with Dean again, to go back into that life where they were always in danger, always on edge, always in each other's personal spaces with all those heightened emotions trapped between them and no other outlet than the hunt, the kill, the blessed release of knife sinking into flesh and bone, the physical exertion of grave-digging and hand-to-hand combat.

But the idea that Dean would let the sex thing happen, would go for it in the first place, boggles Sam's mind. Just doesn't compute. He puts on his shorts, sits down at the rickety table, and fires up the laptop, looking for answers to the sex thing as much as anything because...just because. It seems so important, that's all, like it's the key to everything.

Plus, sitting down reminds him how sore his ass is, makes it painfully obvious what he and Dean were doing last night, and he really, really needs to figure this the fuck out.

After he's read the "Read Me First" and the "Read Me Second" files, he's so absorbed he barely registers Dean coming out of the bathroom, getting dressed, announcing, "Goin' for coffee." It's all there, their lives for the past twelve years. Well, the Carver Edlund books tell the first five, two of which he actually remembers; then Sam's own journals of the five after that, culminating in the crazy plan that had Sam sacrificing himself to the Mark of Cain, thereby breaking its curse.

Whatever Dean did after that, getting Sam back, the deal brought only part of him back. Or maybe he's just been hit on the head one too many times and now he's permanently brain damaged. Whatever it is, the results are the same. Sam's memories of those twelve years are gone, just not there anymore. And every night when he falls asleep, he loses even his memory of the day before, starting the next day as if it was the day after twelve years ago.

"Do something memorable," his last journal entry advises. "Make your body remember, even if your mind forgets."


He reaches for the coffee Dean has left on the table next to him. It's cold, but he chugs it anyway, lost in thought as he stares at the screen, at yesterday's entry.

Dean's sudden presence at his back startles him, but Dean's hand on his shoulder is warm and reassuring.

"Come on, big guy, time for a shower. Then we eat," Dean announces, his voice low and gentle, coaxing, like he's talking to a child.

It's been three hours since he sat down to start reading; the time flew by so fast Sam didn't even notice, and now it's late morning and a huge part of the day is just...gone. And he's only got a few hours before...

"So I have to stay awake," Sam muses, turning to look up at Dean. "I just have to keep myself from falling asleep."

"Oh yeah, that's the solution," Dean snarks. "Kill yourself with sleep-deprivation. Worked real well the last time, didn't you read that part? Besides, what do you gain? One day's memories? Not really worth it, Sam. Not by a long shot."

Sam stares up at his brother, at the laugh lines at the edge of his eyes that aren't there in Sam's memories, at the old scar on the edge of his cheek-bone that's also new, although for Dean the wound that put it there probably happened years ago.

"But I'm useless to you this way," Sam says, feeling the weight of the thing like a house-sized anvil. "I can't hunt..."

"Yes, you can," Dean insists. "You do. We do. Didn't you read that part? It takes you a little longer to get back up to speed each day, but you always do. Well, most of the time. You have your days, and sometimes there's no case, like today, so we just take a little r and r."

"But I'm a total drag on you," Sam insists. "Why do you put up with me? Why not just leave me in a hospital somewhere?"

"You're my brother, bitch," Dean growls. "Not leaving you anywhere. Now get your ass in the shower. I'm starving."

Sam finds his own reflection mesmerizing, so he spends way too long in the bathroom, and Dean finally pounds on the door, yelling at him to "Hurry up, damn it! I'm dying out here!"

At least the car is familiar, although it must be just about completely rebuilt again, after all those years.

"So I'm about thirty-five," Sam asks when they're finally facing each other across the table at the diner and Dean has ordered for both of them and the waitress, who must be around forty herself, has flirted with Dean but made it clear she thinks most men are skunks.

"Thirty-six," Dean corrects. "I just hit the big four-oh." He shakes his head. "Never thought we'd make it that far. You've saved us, Sam, for good this time. We've slowed way down since this thing happened. Routine hunts only. Heaven and Hell seem satisfied for once and they're leaving us alone, which suits me just fine."

Sam shakes his head, takes another sip of his coffee, thinking back to his morning's reading. "Heaven and Hell," he mutters, half to himself. "That stupid deal you made. Jesus, Dean."

"Yeah, well, I couldn't let you stay dead, now could I?" Dean shrugs.

"Yes, you could've," Sam argues. "And from what I just read, that's what started it all. So if you hadn't made that deal..."

"Mom's deal started it, if you want to play chicken-and-egg," Dean reminds him. "And then Dad dealt for my life, after you found that reaper who killed some innocent kid for me, so that one's on both of us. Truth is, neither of us should have ever been born in the first place. But we're here, and we're still doin' what we do, and we're doin' it together, so I call that a win. And we've had damn few of those, so I'm good."

The waitress brings their plates then, and for a few minutes neither Winchester says a thing, focused on the food, and Sam thinks he's never tasted anything better. Of course, he wouldn't remember if he had...

"Aren't you ever tempted to just not tell me?" Sam wonders out loud finally, and Dean lifts a questioning eyebrow at him so he goes on. "You know, just hide the laptop, tell me some bullshit story about our lives. I mean..I don't know. If our situations were reversed, I might be tempted not to even tell you all that stuff."

"Are you kidding me?" Dean chokes down a bite of burger. "You'd just make me take you to a fuckin' library so you could research the hell out the whole memory thing, and you'd find out anyway. The Carver Edlund books are on-line, Sam. Then you'd spend the rest of the day pissed at me for not telling you in the first place."

"So you've already tried that," Sam suggests, and Dean flushes, won't look him in the eye, fidgets around so Sam knows he's right.

They're in the car heading west, almost an hour later, when Sam jerks awake with a start, a vision of Dean running toward him in the rain, screaming his name as he feels something hard and hot pushing into his back, cutting off the feeling to his legs so that he's sagging forward, into Dean's arms, and they're both collapsing in the mud, Dean sobbing his name.

Sam looks around wildly for a moment as he gets his bearings, stares at Dean, so strong and silent at the wheel.

"You okay?" Dean lifts his eyebrows, glances at him.

Sam swallows, nods. "I fell asleep," he says, his voice sounding broken and scared. "I can't do that."

Dean shakes his head. "Naps don't count," he says confidently. "You have to be deep asleep for the memory wipe to happen. Don't ask me why, but that's how it is."

"I had a dream," Sam stutters. "Cold Oak. I think I died."

Dean shoots him a concerned look, but doesn't seem surprised. "Yeah, that's your last real memory," he says. "Everything reset from that moment, far as we can tell."


Dean huffs out a breath. "Yeah, Sammy," he says. "You and me. All you wanted to do the whole first year was research the hell out of this thing, see if there was a way to reverse it. Get out of the deal. But there isn't. Not unless one of us dies for real, and I don't know about you but I am not ready to give you up, not after everything we've been through. So if the only you I can have is this you who can't remember a few years of our lives, well I for one am okay with that. Sure beats the alternative."

Sam stares out at the landscape in silence for awhile, chewing on his bottom lip. "I'll get old this way," he says. "It's like alzheimer's. You'll always have to take care of me, remind me where I put my keys. It'll start to get really confusing. You'll get sick of filling in all the blanks all the time for me."

Dean takes a deep breath, blows it out through his mouth, shakes his head. "First of all, Sam, there is nothing wrong with your brain. You are the smartest man I know, hands down. Sharp as a tack, same as always. You don't get confused, it's not your nature. You get the job done, same as you've always done. You definitely don't need me filling in any blanks for you. This is not alzheimer's, just recurring short-term memory loss. You're like Drew Barrymore in Fifty First Dates, except whinier. And you don't need to find the keys, geek-boy, 'cuz I do the driving in this outfit."

Sam stews silently for a few more minutes, watching the scenery, then throws a sympathetic glance at Dean, who catches it and raises his eyebrow questioningly.

"Am I always this morose and self-pitying?" he asks.

Dean smirks, shakes his head. "Not always," he admits. "When we're on a job, you've got your mind on the hunt and you're focused, like usual. Not much navel-gazing on those days. When you keep busy it's easier."

"So what are we doing today?" Sam asks. "What's the job?"

"No job today, Sam," Dean admits. "Figured it was time for a little vacation. We haven't taken one for awhile, and it feels like it's a little overdue."

"So where are we going?"

"Jim Baxter's got a cabin on the Oregon Coast," Dean says. "Gorgeous view, trail straight down to a white sandy beach, great place to build a driftwood bonfire and watch the stars. If we like it, Jim says we're welcome to stay as long as we like."

"Stay?" Sam lifts his eyebrows. "As in, put down roots? Leave hunting? Settle down?"

"Nobody said anything about leaving the life, Sammy," Dean frowns. "While there's work to do, I'm pretty sure we'll always be doing it. No, I was thinking more like adding in a little consulting business on the side, you know? Offering our talents and knowledge to hunters who could use it, connecting them with jobs, acting as back-up when we're needed, kinda like what Bobby did."

"You're talking about retiring," Sam points out. "You're thinking we're getting too old for active duty."

"Who said anything about retiring?" Dean protests gruffly. "And speak for yourself there, graybeard. I ain't gettin' old. I'm just thinking we need to diversify a little, find ways to stay active in the business without constantly being on the road or working out of a bunker."

"What's wrong with the bunker?" Sam thinks back to the reading he did this morning. "That place was awesome. Why did we ever leave?"

Dean shifts uncomfortably, looks a little shifty, and Sam's thinking he won't get an answer, thinks maybe it has something to do with the shadowy thing that Dean did to keep Sam with him after the Mark of Cain fiasco. Sam wonders if he'll have time to get the truth out of Dean before he falls asleep and loses all his memories again then has to start all over again tomorrow.

Sam wonders if it really matters.

"Okay," he says finally, when it's obvious Dean isn't going to answer his question. "Never mind. Save your breath. It's not like I'm gonna remember anyway."

"Sammy..." Dean breathes his brother's name like a plea, like he just needs Sam to get on board without asking too many questions this time, and Sam's damned if he has the energy to fight Dean's plan anyway. If Dean wants to settle down in a cabin on the beach, who is Sam to tell him he can't? Hasn't he paid his dues? Haven't they both given enough?

For the next one hundred miles, Sam is silent, deep in his thoughts, trying to sort out how to make sense to himself of this new life he woke up to out of the blue this morning, wondering why he should care, since he won't be able to remember any of the things he works out in his mind today anyway. Which makes him think about the new thing between them, knowing it's not new for Dean, and it suddenly hits him that Dean didn't have to sleep with him last night; if he hadn't woken up with Dean draped naked almost on top of him, Sam would never know.

Which means, Dean wants Sam to know.

They've just crossed the town line outside Portland when Sam asks, "Who started it?" then finds he can't look at Dean, can't make himself face his brother's clenched jaw, the little twist to his lips as he smirks.

"Who do you think?" And of course Dean knows exactly what he means, doesn't even miss a beat.

"Do I always ask that?" Sam wonders aloud, and Dean's smirk gets broader, turns into a real grin, nearly blinding Sam as he glances over, gives him a hard-on with just a single look. Knows it, the fucker.

Sam blows out a breath, irritated and hard at the same time. He shifts on the bench, trying to get comfortable, to ease the strain in his jeans. He jumps as Dean's hand lands firm and warm on his leg, just above his knee, and stays there while Sam goes completely still, staring straight ahead through the windshield, swallowing hard.

"You did, Sam," Dean says finally, ignoring the last question. "Not long after I made my deal and got you back that first time. You got a little desperate and needy one night. Drinking."

"Oh," Sam swallows again, sneaks a glance, and Dean winks at him, making him grin and blush furiously.

"It was hot," Dean admits. "Kinda awkward at first until you figured out what you wanted, but hot. Definitely hot."

"You weren't..." Sam hesitates. "You weren't freaked out?"

"Oh, I was," Dean nods. "But you were pretty persistent. Cried a lot, as I recall. How was I supposed to resist that? Besides, it was sorta my fault you were so miserable. I was checking out in less than a year. Who was I to withhold a little comfort from my baby brother if he needed it?"

"So it was a pity thing," Sam notes dryly. "You felt sorry for me, so you let me."

"Maybe, at first," Dean shrugs, squeezes Sam's knee, kneading it gently. "Didn't stay that way."

"Oh yeah?" Sam's feeling brazen all of a sudden, encouraged by Dean's touch, the flush in his cheeks. He slides his hand down his leg, over Dean's, lacing their fingers together on his knee.

Dean pulls his hand away, puts both hands on the wheel, and Sam feels like an idiot. Holding hands with Dean Winchester? Really? Of course he wasn't gonna allow that.

Dean glances at him, knows what he's thinking. He clears his throat. "Traffic," he excuses himself, giving a nod out the windshield at the early evening bumper-to-bumper action. "Fuckin' hate cities."

Sam huffs out a breath because Dean's hatred of cities is old and familiar and inherited from their father, and the place on his knee where Dean's hand has just been is still warm with promise.

They get to the cabin just as the sun is setting. Sam climbs out of the car, stretches before he helps Dean bring the gear in, then circles around to the back, where the trees have been cleared so there's a view of the sun sinking into the red-tinged sea that takes Sam's breath away. They're up high on a cliff that sticks out a little so there are views of a wild, deserted beach that stretches as far as Sam can see in either direction. It's untouched and somehow primordial, deeply comforting in its timelessness, and Sam is mesmerized, stands watching as the light shifts, catching clouds on the horizon, changing color from yellow to orange to red. The breeze lifts his hair, slides across his face, bringing the briny smell of the ocean and the crash of the surf, the mournful cries of seagulls.

Dean moves up beside him, arms full of blankets, dangling a six-pack of beer off one finger.

"Come on," he nudges Sam's shoulder, then heads toward an opening at the edge of the little clearing, where Sam can see a dip in the soil, the start of a trail down the side to the beach. Sam follows, enchanted and more than a little puzzled at the same time. If he didn't know any better, he would say Dean's planning a romantic evening on the beach. Sam follows as Dean maneuvers down the steep, narrow trail, the blankets overloading his arms making him skitter awkwardly to keep his balance. Sam resists the urge to move up behind Dean to catch him if he starts to slip, or at least to offer to help him carry something. But this Dean is different from the Dean he knew before. He's older, wiser, steadier. Not as reckless, maybe. More sure of himself, definitely. More sure of Sam.

And obviously not afraid of making a fool of himself, which is so endearing Sam doesn't want to think about it too much.

When they reach the beach, then climb over a few boulders to the sand, the sky is a deep, bloody red, barely tinged with the hint of fiery orange left behind by the setting sun. Sam kicks off his shoes, then peels off his socks, letting the sun-warmed sand cushion his feet, sift easily between his toes. Dean spreads the blankets on the sand, then starts collecting driftwood, dragging larger pieces off the rocks while Sam digs a fire-pit with his bare hands, lines it with rocks. They drag some larger pieces of driftwood over to act as a wind-barrier, then start the fire with a lighter and some lighter fluid from Dean's pocket. They work mostly in silence, cooperating seamlessly on the job at hand, until the fire is going well and they can sit back on a log, side-by-side, watching the fire and the sea beyond it, brushing shoulders each time one of them leans forward to throw another stick into the fire. Dean opens a beer for Sam and hands it to him, cracks open one for himself and touches it to Sam's before taking a long swallow.

"You should take off your shoes," Sam tells him. "The sand feels great."

Dean raises an eyebrow and gives a slight nod, then puts his beer down as he does as Sam suggests, wiggling his bare toes in the sand once they're free. His feet are beautiful, long and slender, like a dancer's, and Sam can't remember ever noticing that before.

"I don't want to forget this," Sam says, glancing at Dean's profile, watching as his brother takes a long swallow of his beer, his adam's apple bobbing enticingly in his long throat.

"You don't have to," Dean acknowledges. "It'll still be here tomorrow. And the day after that, probably."

"What are you going to tell me about why we're here?" Sam asks, taking a sip of his own beer, watching the firelight flicker on Dean's face as the daylight fades, taking the last of the sunset colors with it, leaving grays and dusky blue shadows.

"I'll say we're on vacation," Dean says. "And I'll ask you if you've ever been to the beach, and you'll tell me about that time you and Jessica rented a motel room about a block away from the beach in Santa Cruz and how you got up every morning and walked down, hand-in-hand, so you could hunt for oysters in the sand right after the tide went out. And you'll sigh and tell me you miss her, but it's starting to get better, and there'll be a little tear in your eye, and I'll put my hand up to wipe it away with my thumb, like this." Sam watches, mesmerized, as Dean slides his hand along Sam's jaw, sweeping his thumb across Sam's cheekbone, just under his eye, his gaze focused on the movement of his own thumb intently.

Sam closes his hand over Dean's, holding it to his cheek, and Dean's gaze flicks up to Sam's, holds it for a moment before dropping to Sam's mouth, sending sparks shooting through Sam's body that have nothing to do with the bonfire. He's leaning toward Dean without being conscious of doing it, gaze dropping to Dean's plump, soft-looking lips, and it suddenly hits him that this is really happening, that in a minute he's going to know what it feels like to kiss his brother. Which makes his breath hitch and his lips part and he's aware that he's trembling, actually shivering, and it's got nothing to do with the twilight breeze and everything to do with the momentousness of doing this thing for the first time.

Which is what makes him hesitate, still inches apart.

"There's nothing about this that's new for you, is there?" Sam asks, and Dean smiles then, looks up with such fond warmth in his eyes it makes Sam's chest ache.

"Nothing about this will ever get old, Sam," he says quietly, then leans in the last few inches until his lips touch Sam's.

And it's perfect. Of course it is, because Dean gets the angle exactly right, kisses Sam the way Sam loves to kiss, soft and gentle for exactly zero-point-two seconds, as Sam adjusts to the feel of Dean's mouth against his, the slow drag of his impossibly full lips. Then the kiss gets open-mouthed and greedy. Dean lets Sam control it almost right away, lets Sam just plunder his mouth, bite at his lips, hold his face so he can tongue-fuck him with all the years of pent-up need he's never been able to express until now. Sam moans as his hands scritch along Dean's jaw, clutch at the back of his neck, desperate and needy and wanting to climb inside Dean's mouth, slither under his skin, bury himself inside Dean and never come out.

And Dean gets it, that's the crazy thing. He already knows what Sam wants, understands how he likes it. Sam's got his hands under Dean's shirts, scrambling for bare skin, clawing and clutching and yanking Dean's clothes out of the way until buttons are popping and fabric is ripping and Dean's torso is finally bare, his big, muscled shoulders and pecs and biceps and abs are all Sam's to touch, to knead with his hands, then his mouth, licking down Dean's neck, nipping at his jaw. Sam has managed to yank Dean onto his lap, and Dean is holding onto him for dear life, murmuring, "That's it, Sammy, that's it," in a maddening sultry drawl that makes Sam wild, needing to make Dean moan and sob and beg, to just wreck him until nothing coherent comes out of that perfect mouth ever again. Sam buries his face in the hollow of Dean's throat, sucking and licking up the sweat there.

"Shut up," Sam hisses as Dean murmurs again, encouraging, letting Sam know he's okay, that Dean's already given his permission for all of this, long ago. Sam's lust is like a burning rage, like a beast he can't control, and Dean's voice sets him off like a firecracker. He's got one arm around Dean's shoulders, the other one firmly on his ass, and he heaves up and flips Dean onto his back on the blanket, Sam right on top of him, holding him down, Dean giving a satisfying "humpf!" as he takes Sam's weight. Sam lifts his head, taking in the sight of his brother spread out beneath him, Dean's parted lips all wet and swollen, his cheeks flushed. His eyes are closed to mere slits, dark and glinting in the firelight, and as Sam grinds his crotch between Dean's legs, rubbing their erections together through their jeans, Dean lets out a low moan and arches up, tipping his head back to expose his throat, skin reddened where Sam has already sucked, left marks that will be bruises tomorrow.

Tomorrow, when Sam won't even remember doing this, when all that will be left of Sam's lust for his brother are the marks on his skin, the soreness in his muscles.

Sam grabs Dean's crotch, presses the heel of his hand against the hard length, squeezing roughly. Dean cries out, bucks up, and Sam watches him writhe, lets the sight fuel his lust until he's shaking with it, almost passing out from the sheer power of it.

"Off," Sam rasps, yanking at the waist of Dean's jeans. He kneels up to work at his own clothes, pulling shirts off over his head, getting up to shuck his jeans as Dean wiggles out of his, lies naked as Sam stands over him for a moment, just drinking in the sight of all that naked, freckled skin.

"Fuck," Sam breathes, sinking to his knees again between Dean's bow legs, spread wide and waiting for him.

"Go ahead, Sammy," Dean growls at him, wiggling lewdly on the blanket, lifting his ass, pushing one hand down between his legs to touch his own hole as he grabs his cock with the other. "I can take it. I'm not a girl. You don't have to go easy on me."

"Fuck," Sam breathes again as he watches Dean fingering his hole, dry-fucking himself as he jacks his dick, and Sam is suddenly so glad he remembered to bring lube, because there isn't any way he could ask Dean, and there's no way he would hurt his brother, not really.

Sam finds the little tube and flips open the cap, spreads the cold liquid over his fingers, then gently pushes Dean's hand away so he can take its place, watching Dean's face carefully as he touches him. Dean's eyes squeeze shut and he shudders as Sam caresses his entrance, circles it tentatively with one finger, lubricating the puckered skin before easing the tip of one finger inside.

"Was I your first, Dean?" Sam can't help asking, is sure he probably always asks, and Dean nods, panting a little as Sam works the rim muscle, loosening and opening him as gently as he can, given his almost uncontrollable eagerness. Sam guesses that Dean already knows that Sam had Jessica do this to him, pretending it was Dean the whole time. It's probably the thing that Sam loved most about Jess, that she accepted his warped sexuality and loved him anyway. Sam's sure he would have told Dean, during one of the times they did this in the past. He wouldn't have been able to keep something like that secret from Dean, not once he had him in every way he'd always longed for.

Dean is keening now, no longer verbal, circling his hips so he's twisting himself on Sam's fingers, and once Sam has added a third he begins thrusting as well as scissoring, watching Dean's face for any signs of discomfort. Sam slides his free hand up Dean’s stomach to his chest, tweaking one dark nipple, pinching it to a hard peak as Dean moans and writhes and pushes himself down on Sam’s hand, and it's so depraved, Dean fucking down on his hand like this on a blanket on the beach, next to a roaring fire. It's so primal.

Sam leans down and kisses Dean's chest, suckles at his nipples, covers the hand Dean has on his cock with his own. Dean arches his back, nearly pushing Sam's entire hand into his body, throwing his head back on a long keening moan as Sam's other hand starts jacking him. He's aware that it's not perfect, that he has no way of knowing how Dean likes it because he's never done it before. But then he remembers. All the times he lay quietly trying to sleep while Dean jerked off in the other bed, all the times Sam listened while Dean instructed some girl how to jack him, how to suck him...

"Fuck!" Dean practically shouts as Sam gets the rhythm, fucking Dean's ass and getting just the right twist of his wrist on his cock. "Just fuck –– fuck me already, Sammy, goddamn it!"

It's the little stutter in his voice, the tell-tale wobble that tells Sam he's just wrecked, that he's not faking it or putting on a show to make Sam feel better or doing this out of some misguided penance or self-sacrificial Prime Directive, the 'always-take-care-of-Sam' code of conduct. This is real. It's Dean really loving having sex with his brother, which is just so messed up it's perfect. And yes, Dean totally set the scene, the beach, the bonfire, the setting sun, the view from the cabin. It's Dean's crazy idea of the perfect date, and it's perfect and crazy because Sam's so damaged he can't possibly appreciate it, he won't even remember it...

Sam's lubing his cock before he can stop to think, just hoping he's opened Dean enough so it's not too painful...Then he's lining himself up, pushing inside, and...

For a minute, there's silence. Except for the crashing of the waves and Dean's long, deep panting breaths as he adjusts, and the crackle of the driftwood, none too dry because it's Oregon and even in July it's never perfectly dry. Then Sam slides home with a single thrust, instinct taking over because he's done this with Jess, he remembers that much, and it's easier sometimes to just sink it in all at once...

Dean goes still, like he's stopped breathing, like time itself has stopped, and he's just lying there, holding his breath and staring up at Sam like there's no tomorrow, literally, like nothing else ever mattered, and he's re-discovering that particular revelation right-the-fuck now because yeah, Sam's thinking exactly the same thing.

Dean's eyes look like two pools of warm sea-water, and Sam starts drowning in them as he moves, thrusting shallowly at first, then more deliberately as the tension builds, as the breeze dries sweat on his bare back, and he's having flashes of doing this before, thrusting into tight heat, the drag of it as he pulls out, as the lube dries, and it's harder and harder to stop, to pull back and just...

This is Dean, his brain reminds him. This is Dean, his heart screams, and he's looking into Dean's sea-green eyes as he comes, waves of heat and need crashing over him and around him, like they're in the ocean, not just lying on a blanket on the sand.

"Yeah, Sam, yeah, that's it," Dean talks him through it, voice low and soothing, a little hitched and broken as he focuses on Sam's release, Sam's needs.

Fuck, Sam's brain sobs as he closes his eyes, collapses as gently as possible on top of Dean's body, feeling every inch of his skin tingling and alive on Dean's, keeping him awake even as his body wants to fall into blissed-out slumber. Somewhere along the line he's let go of Dean's dick, still hard, still pushing into his belly as he lies heavy on top of his brother, still connected and inside him. As his upstairs brain comes slowly back on-line, Sam becomes aware of his face pressed against Dean's neck, of the awkward angle of their limbs, Dean's spread legs half-tangled with his, Sam's softening dick slipping free.

"Sorry," Sam mutters against Dean's skin. "Not very safe."

Dean takes a deep breath, lets it out against Sam's cheek, fingers carding absently through Sam's hair.

"Safety's not an issue, Sammy," Dean assures him. "It's just us."

Sam feels himself sag even further into Dean, reassured that Dean's telling him the truth, that they've been monogamous for as long as this has been happening, or at least as long as Sam's been sick.

Sick. Fuck. Sam's got demon blood in him, or did have. Sam's been to Hell, spent a long, long time being tortured there. He's done really bad things, killed innocent people, killed people whose only crime was being possessed by demons. Sam's killed their friends, sometimes with his bare hands, people who loved and trusted them and only wanted to help.

"Sammy?" Dean's voice has that warning quality to it, and he's pushing Sam, trying to get him to roll over.

"Sorry," Sam murmurs, his voice ragged and choked-sounding to his ears, which is how he realizes he's crying, that Dean can feel his tears wet against his neck, his body heaving with sobs.

"Let it go, man," Dean commands gruffly as he gets Sam spread out on his back, leans down over him with his fingers carding through Sam's hair, his thumb wiping the wetness from Sam's cheek. "Don't fall apart on me, man. You can do this, remember?"

"No, Dean, I don't remember," Sam chokes out, blinking up at Dean through the tears. "My body knows, though. My body remembers."

"Sense memories," Dean nods. "That's right. That's right, Sam."

The stars are shining behind Dean's head, the light from the fire making his face shadowy, giving it an unearthly beauty that takes Sam's breath away. Again. He reaches up, traces the planes of Dean's face with the tips of his fingers, slipping his thumb over Dean's plush bottom lip, pushing it into Dean's warm, wet mouth. Dean's suckles, keeping his glittering green eyes locked on Sam's, and Sam spreads his legs, pulls his hand free so he can grab Dean's, shoving it down between his legs.

"Want you to fuck me, Dean," he pushes the tips of Dean's fingers against his entrance as he pulls his legs up. "Need it. Need to feel it. Make me remember in the morning."

Dean's face crumbles a little, his eyes fill with tears, and Sam realizes he's asked for this before, maybe always asks. Sam thinks about how sore his ass felt this morning and he's sure.

"Please," Sam pleads, then fears he's gone too far as Dean looks away, as that perfect single tear rolls down his perfect cheek.

"Okay, Sam, okay," Dean murmurs, nodding.

Dean kisses down Sam's body, reverent and slow, making every inch of Sam's skin come alive under his mouth and tongue and hands. By the time he settles between Sam's legs, pressing long, loving kisses against Sam's inner thighs, suckling at the juncture of his groin, Sam's already hard again, making little impatient thrusts up against Dean's mouth as he noses up under his balls, scrape of unshaven chin against Sam's perineum making him gasp. For a minute Sam thinks Dean might suck his overly-sensitive dick, and the thought makes his balls tighten. But Dean's got other ideas, as Sam realizes when he feels Dean's wet tongue pushing against his hole, licking around the tight muscle, easing the way, lapping over it with the broad flat of his tongue before testing it again with the tip, pushing inside easily this time.

Sam gasps as Dean begins suckling at his hole; he pulls his legs back and squeezes his eyes shut so he can focus on the sensations. He's still sensitive there from last night, and the thought that they were doing this last night almost sends him over the edge. He reaches down to grab his dick and Dean swats his hand away, wraps his own hand around the base of Sam's cock and gives it a squeeze. Dean's talented mouth is doing an amazing job on his ass and Sam pushes himself up on one elbow so he can watch his brother's beautiful face, all flushed and intent in the firelight. Dean's eyebrows raise and he looks up, meets Sam's gaze, and it makes him groan and writhe, pushing down on Dean's tongue. Dean adds first one, then two, and finally three fingers, opening Sam up, loosening him till Dean finally positions himself on his knees, slicked dick in his hand. Sam watches as Dean pushes in, ripping a sob from Sam's throat, and Dean holds himself still, letting Sam adjust, then slides in some more. The pace is excruciating, Dean's need to make Sam feel safe and comfortable overwhelming his own needs, and Sam knows it, feels Dean holding back, letting him adjust, conscious of Sam's soreness.

"It's okay, it's okay," Sam pants, pushing up against Dean's dick, trying to get him to move. "I can take it. Wanna feel it for a week, Dean. Come on."

So Dean starts thrusting, and suddenly Sam's just sure he knows this, they've done this, it isn't new after all. Sam angles up into Dean's thrusts and manages to hit his prostate, sending a jagged rush of electrical sparks tingling up his spine, spreading down the backs of his legs.

"That's it," Sam rasps, gazing up at Dean's face through tear-blurred eyes, watching Dean's shoulders tense as he thrusts. "Like always. Just like always."

Dean's lips curl up and his eyes crinkle as he smiles, then leans down and brings their mouths together. Sam's almost bent double, and Dean kisses him deep and hard, letting him taste himself, jacking Sam's sensitive dick as Sam moans into his mouth, tears of pleasure and pain flowing down his cheeks, into the sand. Sam cradles Dean's face, gasps as Dean hits his sweet spot every damn time, turning Sam's entire body into a shivering mess of overly sensitive nerve-endings. He mouths blindly at Dean's unshaven jaw, babbling and crying as he feels his orgasm build, blood rushing in his ears, matching the beat of the waves on the sand.

"Make me remember, Dean," Sam gasps against Dean's cheek, his ear. "Make me remember this."

Dean sucks in a breath, goes rigid as his orgasm crests. "Oh, fuck me," he breathes out as he releases, pulsing and hot deep inside Sam's body, and Sam goes off like a firecracker, sobbing something nonsensical as he comes, riding the wave of his second orgasm as Dean thrusts weakly through his own.

Afterwards, Dean collapses on top of Sam and Sam just holds him, reaching down to pull a blanket over them both, gasping a little as Dean's dick slips free. There's a stinging sensation along with the burn and soreness, and Sam's pretty sure he's bleeding. It makes him glad, grateful that there's a wound, that they've drawn blood with their union. He turns Dean gently in his arms, so that his brother can sleep comfortably, limbs tangled with Sam's, head resting on Sam's shoulder, cradled in the crook of his arm. Just the way they started the day, Sam thinks as he fights the urge to sleep, needing to stay awake as long as possible, to savor every moment of this most memorable of days, soon to be forgotten like hundreds before it.

"You can remember for both of us," Sam whispers as he brushes the backs of his fingers along Dean's jaw, traces the shell of his ear. His heart swells with love as he slips his hand behind Dean's head, holds him still so Sam can press his lips against Dean's forehead, grateful for his brother's unconsciousness so Sam can just cuddle with him for a minute, knowing Dean would never allow this if he were awake.

"I know why you're doing this, Dean," he whispers. "I know because if our situations were reversed, I would do the same thing." He knows Dean can't hear him, but he needs to say it, if only because he lied earlier when he said he wasn't sure he could take care of Dean if he was damaged the way Sam is damaged. There is no doubt in Sam's mind that he would do exactly what Dean is going, if their positions were reversed. Exactly.

Knowing that, knowing Dean is everything to Sam, just as Sam is everything for Dean, makes this entire messed up situation somehow okay, gives it meaning that Sam couldn't see when he woke up this morning. He half wishes he could sneak up to the house, make a few notes in his journal, give his future self some of the insight he's gained today, to give him the confidence that things will work out, that even if Sam never regains a single coherent memory of the past twelve years, he and Dean are fine. They'll always be okay, as long as they're together.

But it's warm and comforting here on the beach, with his brother curled around him and the stars shining down on them, the soothing, timeless crash of the surf and the crackle of the dying fire. Sam can't imagine anything more perfect, really. And although it occurs to him that his future self will be even more freaked out about waking up on the beach than he was in the motel this morning, it's a good thing, and it makes him smile. Sometimes it's good to shake things up a little, bring the unexpected into the mix.

Waking up on a beautiful deserted beach with your brother in your arms definitely qualifies as unexpected.

And pretty damn perfect, if Sam does say so himself.

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