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

We Can Make It If We Run - Part One

Chapter One: 1996

"Pack up the gear, Dean. We're hitting the road in ten."

It's the end of the school year, and Sam's just finished the seventh grade at Jefferson Middle School in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

He's thirteen, and it's been the most confusing and troubling year of his life. In a life so far filled with a lot of confusion and trouble, that's saying something. It's not like being in seventh grade is ever easy; Dean's told him that often enough. There's cliques and bullies to navigate and avoid, and Sam's always been an outsider, always the new kid, always one of the smaller kids. Easy pickings if it wasn't for his training; he can handle himself in a fight when he needs to. During the past two months at Jefferson, Sam's been in three playground fights, coming out on top each time.

The last one was with a bully named Justin, who went home to collect his older brother, Todd, both of them meaning to give Sam a real pounding for humiliating Justin in front of the other kids on the way home from school the week before. But neither Justin nor his brother were counting on Sam having an older brother of his own, and as much as Sam wishes Dean would've let him handle this all by himself, it only takes one look at Dean in his cool leather jacket, giving Justin and Todd that lethal look that he's already got down at age seventeen, and the fight's over before it even begins.

"Come on, Sammy, save it for the real fights," Dean admonishes as he claps a hand on Sam's shoulder after he's sure Justin and Todd have backed off.

Sam shrugs Dean's hand off irritably. "I coulda handled it," he grumbles as he heads off down the street toward the motel, hooking his thumb around the strap of his backpack, not looking back to see if Dean's following.

"Sure you could," Dean acknowledges, alongside him in less than two strides of his long legs, brushing Sam's shoulder teasingly. "I was just saving that pretty face for all the eighth-grade girls you're gonna meet next year." Dean sucks in a breath as Sam flushes hot with embarrassment. "Eighth grade, man," Dean goes on. "Where it all begins."

"Maybe for you," Sam mutters, still irritated. But he can't help the warmth that spreads through him at Dean's compliment, even if it's kind of a lame-ass jibe that's really meant to get a rise out of him. Dean loves to tease Sam about his looks, loves to call him a girl and a princess, thinks it's funny when Sam gets all flustered and hot under the collar. But Sam's pretty sure Dean wouldn't find it so funny if he knew how much Sam likes it when Dean teases him this way. He relishes the attention, sure, but he also revels in the pleasure it gives him, just knowing his big brother is thinking about him or noticing him in any way.

Sam's fairly sure there's something shameful in the way he thinks about Dean, pretty much all the time but especially when he's lying in bed at night. Sam's always idolized his brother, but lately when he looks at Dean or thinks about him, he feels this rush of heat, settling in his groin, making him hard and shivery all over. It fills him with shame, makes him blush, makes him close in on himself and avoid Dean's eyes, makes him hope Dean doesn't notice how he craves even the slightest touch, how he both wants and dreads Dean's attention now.

Dean notices.

Of course he does. Of course he can't resist teasing Sam when he sees Sam hunching in on himself, flushed and sweaty and slamming his hands into his jeans pockets in a desperate attempt to hide his raging boner.

"Got something you wanna share with the class, Sammy?" Dean chuckles, voice low and gravelly, in that tone that makes Sam positively ache.

"Shut up," Sam whimpers miserably, trying to move away.

But of course that just makes it worse, because now Dean feels challenged, now he's draping his arm over Sam's shoulders and pressing his hip against Sam's side and no matter how Sam tries to shake him off, Dean's bigger and stronger, so it's useless.

That summer it just gets worse. Dad moves them every couple of days at first, chasing something that he thinks might be a demon. There are cattle deaths and weird electrical storms, and Dad spends hours driving, only to end up in some wilderness area where there's no food, no shelter, someplace where the brothers have to curl up together in the backseat to sleep while Dad catches some shut-eye on the front bench.

"Stop fidgeting," Dean huffs into the back of Sam's head. He's on his side with his arm around Sam, pulling him back flush against his chest, one of Sam's ankles caught between Dean's strong calves to keep him anchored. It's uncomfortable as hell, hot even with the windows rolled down. They took their shoes and over-shirts off, rolling them up for a pillow along with their jackets, and now the car smells like sweat and unwashed feet. Sam is sweating bucketfuls through his tee-shirt, and Dean's bare arm is slick where he's got it tucked under Sam's, the heat of his body soaking into Sam, and it should be miserable because they're too big for this. There's no room for either of them, much less both of them smashed together, sticking to the seat. Then Sam scoots back and his ass rubs into Dean's groin and Dean pinches him, right through his shirt.

"Ow!" Sam complains.

"Lie still!" Dean hisses, and this time Sam does. He lies absolutely still, panting a little, the unmistakable bulge of Dean's erection pressed into the crease of his ass. Sam's stomach swoops, he's suddenly got a boner of his own, and he's terrified Dean will feel it if he moves; he feels pretty sure Dean knows anyway. Sam stays as still and unmoving as a stone, hardly daring to breathe as he tries not to consider the possibility that he's turned Dean on. Because that can't be right, on so many levels it makes Sam's head spin, but mostly because Dean can have anybody. Everybody wants him; he can have his pick. He's beautiful, and smart, and funny, and heroic and brave and just... So yeah. Dean can have anyone he wants, and the idea that he might want Sam, well that's just –

That's just impossible, Sam decides firmly. This is just some physiological fluke. Dean's thinking about that hot cheerleader back at Jefferson High. Or maybe that waitress at the last diner they stopped at, three days ago now. He's as hungry as Sam is and it's helping take his mind off it.

Yeah, that's it, Sam decides, taking a deep breath of the warm, fetid air around them and letting it out slow, trying not to notice as Dean noses into the top of his head, presses what feels like a kiss there. Sam's perfect big brother would never have those kinds of feelings for somebody like Sam, puny and ugly and smelly and such a pain in the ass Dean never stops telling him so. Sam can just stash those dirty little ideas down into the bottom of his brain along with all the other hateful, unloveable pieces of himself, yet more evidence of what a disgusting, unimportant little creep he is. He's just lucky Dean cares about him at all.

Somehow, eventually, Sam falls asleep, his stomach rumbling from hunger, his dick impossibly hard.

**//**

Dad keeps them moving another week, going after whatever it is with a single-focused zeal that precludes everything. It makes him taciturn and even more grouchy than usual. He forgets to feed his sons; he forgets they need a silly, simple thing like food to keep them alive. Finally, after Dean gives Sam his last candy bar and they're out in the middle of Nebraska somewhere, stopping by the side of the road so Dad can take a piss, Sam gets out of the car to do the same and promptly passes out from hunger. He wakes up an hour later in a cool motel room, the first one they've stopped at for three weeks. Dean's there, cranking up the A/C and helping him sit up so he can drink tepid tap water out of a little plastic cup. Dad's gone, left them with money for food and a week's rent pre-paid for the room.

"There's a pool, Sammy," Dean tells him. "And cable TV. It's like a resort or something."

Sam's just glad Dean's here with him, just glad they've stopped moving for awhile. And once he's had something to eat and tried out the pool and taken a shower, once he's snuggled down with Dean on one of the beds to watch TV, he tries hard not to think about how good it feels, being alone with Dean, having Dean all to himself. It's not new, being alone together like this, but somehow Sam appreciates it more than he used to. He doesn't just take it for granted like he did when he was little.

The image of Dean's nearly-naked body in the pool this afternoon isn't new either, but Sam knows he's going to be treasuring that image for many nights to come.

**//**

Chapter Two: 1997

The following summer, Sam makes his first kill. They're hunting a pack of werewolves, and the one Sam puts down is mauling Dean, so Sam shoots it on instinct, without thinking ahead very clearly. His silver bullet hits its mark, though, and the creature collapses on top of Dean, who makes a loud grunting noise like all the air has been punched out of him.

Sam doesn't spare a moment to absorb what he's done; he clicks the safety back on the gun and stows it in his waistband as he bounds across the room to help pull the huge dead-weight off his brother.

"Thought we told you to stay in the car!" Dean gasps as soon as he's got some breath back. He's got claw marks down one cheek, and his jeans are ripped raggedly from hip to knee, strips of denim soaked black with blood.

"Did it – did it bite you, Dean?" Sam's hands are all over Dean's body, his neck, feeling for other injuries, invisible ones. Dean groans dramatically when Sam touches his ribcage, flinches when Sam grabs his knee.

"Get off me! Ow!" Dean protests, pushing Sam's hands away and struggling to sit up, moaning in pain when the movement puts pressure on his injured leg. "Not bitten! It didn't bite me, damn it. Stop with the mother-henning! Jesus!"

Dean keeps fighting him even when Sam finally manages to scoot his shoulder under his brother's arm, helping him to sit up. He's debating how he'll manage to get the older boy out of here and back to the car, since he thinks maybe Dean's leg is broken, probably a couple of ribs too. Then heavy footsteps approach in the hall behind them and Sam reaches for his gun. He crouches protectively between his brother and the door as Dean pants helplessly behind him, woozy and sweating with pain but still alert enough to know he should keep quiet. Sam's got his jaw clenched, adrenaline pumping through his veins as he waits for the footsteps to stop outside the door, waits for the tall dark shadow that precedes the familiar form of their father, solid and strong and with barely a scratch on him, as far as Sam can see.

"Dad," he breathes in relief, lowering the gun and clicking the safety on for the second time that day.

Behind him, Dean lets out a breath which gets caught on a cough, then a moan of pain as the sharp movement jars his ribcage.

"Thought I told you to stay in the car," John growls at Sam as he assesses the scene.

Rage boils up from deep inside, and Sam's vision clouds, red-tinged.

"This big guy was attacking Dean," Sam sputters. "I could see it through the window. He's twice Dean's size! I couldn't just sit it out while Dean was in trouble. I couldn't!"

"All right, son, that's enough," John steps forward, lays a gentle hand on Sam's head.

It's all Sam can do to allow it, not to shake John off angrily and start giving him hell for leaving Dean alone and letting this happen, for allowing this big werewolf to get the jump on Dean in the first place. Where the hell were you, Dad? he wants to scream, but he bites his tongue when he catches Dean's eye, reads the desperate, pleading look there, edged with pain.

John quickly checks Dean's injuries, figures out that that his oldest can't walk, then scoops him up like a baby, staggering only a little under Dean's weight as the younger man moans, eyes squeezed shut against the agony.

"We'll put him in the car, then come back and clean this up," he instructs Sam, who bites back another angry retort about Dean needing a hospital, and why can't John take care of his son first, then come back to clean up the mess?

Instead, he follows John to the car, scrounges shovels and lighter fluid out of the trunk, starts digging a shallow grave for the werewolves' bodies. There are two in the house, including the one Sam killed, plus the one John dispatched in the woods and another one Dean killed on the porch before heading into the house. It takes too long, Sam thinks, makes him sullen and angrier that they have to do this before they can get Dean the help he needs, and when they're finally done Sam just wants to crawl into the backseat of the car with his brother, just wants to soothe him and feed him painkillers and assure him he's not a failure for letting that beast get the better of him. But Sam's too big for that, it'll only hurt Dean to have Sam draped all over him like a giant comfort object, even if he's still pretty much the same size he was last year, hasn't grown much since he was twelve.

John insists Dean's ribs are only cracked, not broken, and the leg isn't either, so the hospital isn't necessary after all, despite the fact that Dean is almost delirious with pain by the time they get back to the motel. John feeds Dean some whiskey and painkillers, then wraps his ribs. He washes and bandages his leg with Sam's help, then orders Sam to take the first shower while John gets them food. It's almost midnight by the time John showers and changes and heads out to find a bar. Sam lies down on the other bed, watching Dean's face contort with pain as he tries to fall asleep. He's so full of painkillers there's just no way he realizes what he's saying when he mumbles Sam's name, when he tries to open his eyes and turn his head till he sees Sam and his lips twitch like he's trying to smile.

"Come here," he slurs, sliding his arm across the bed in Sam's direction, and Sam doesn't hesitate, scrambles over so he can snuggle in under Dean's outstretched arm. He presses along Dean's side as carefully as he can under the covers, resting his head on his brother's shoulder. Dean's arm closes around Sam's body and he rubs the boy's shoulder, then slides his hand into Sam's hair. Dean's other hand closes around Sam's jaw, tipping his face up, and Sam blinks expectantly as his brother forces a fond smile through the haze of pain in his sea-green eyes.

"You done good today, Sammy," he says softly. "Saved my bacon. That little rebel in you is a good thing sometimes."

Sam soaks up the praise, tries not to flush with pleasure too obviously, but it's hopeless. Dean hugs him close, lets go of his jaw so he can press his face into Sam's hair, breathing deep.

"Those puppy-dog eyes of yours," Dean slurs. "Gonna be the death o' me, I swear. Either them, or those dimples. Damn."

Sam snuggles in under Dean's chin, arm across his brother's chest, not too low so he doesn't bump his sore ribs, and slides his leg over Dean's good one. He's hard where he's pressed against Dean's hip, and he knows Dean can probably feel it but is just too out-of-it to protest. It happens all the time now, and Sam knows it's partly his body's natural physiological response to being pressed against another person because he's researched it. But he also knows it's more than that. Sam's in love with his brother, yet one more way he's all twisted up inside, just another reason he doesn't fit in anywhere.

He tries not to think too much about what it might mean if Dean felt the same way. Sam's content just knowing Dean loves him, and he's pretty sure about that. The rest of it is still too new, too confusing. Sam's sure of one thing, though; if there's anything bad about the way the Winchesters feel about each other, it's all on him. Because Dean is everything good in Sam's life, everything pure and strong and true, and Sam will do anything he can to save Dean from anything bad. Especially if the bad is in Sam.

Sam falls asleep cradled in his brother's arms, daring to imagine that Dean might take even a fraction of the comfort from this that Sam does, wishing he could be Dean's rock in the storm of their violent lives as Dean is for Sam, hoping that at least he could give his brother that.

It's as much as he allows himself to hope for. And for now, it's enough.

**//**

Chapter Three: 1998

In the fall of the following year Sam almost runs away with a girl who kills her own mother to protect him.

When he kisses her he feels the same stomach-flipping, shivery sensation he gets when Dean touches him. It's such an overwhelming relief, being attracted to someone besides Dean; it's so powerfully addictive, this feeling of being normal after all, that it totally blindsides him when he finds out she's a monster. For about five seconds, he just doesn't understand, imagines running away with her anyway because it's the normal thing to do when two young people fall in love, and her being something inhuman just doesn't seem possible, doesn't seem to matter.

Then it hits him and his world crashes around him and it's like being swallowed by his own inner black hole. Because of course she's a monster. Sam's only capable of falling in love with brothers and monsters. That's just the way he's made. It's just the twisted, fucked-up sickness inside him that compels him to do the wrong thing, to be attracted to the wrong people.

He doesn't tell his brother or his father about Amy Pond.

**//**

Chapter Four: 1999

"Sam! What the fuck! What the fuck, Sam!"

It's taken Dean almost three weeks to find him, squatting in an empty motel on the outskirts of Flagstaff, living on stolen Funyuns, with only Bones the dog for company. Two runaways, sharing the illusion of adventure and freedom in increasingly desperate circumstances. Sam doesn't even protest when Dean bursts into the room, wild-eyed, gun drawn, clearly expecting the worst.

"Where is he!" Dean scopes out the room to be sure they're alone. "Damn it, Sam, where is he?"

"Where's who?" Sam clings to Bones, kneads his soft fur to keep him calm, not that this loving mutt would ever attack anybody. He's pretty useless that way, as a matter of fact, which doesn't make Sam love him any less.

"The guy who took you!" Dean barks, staring around the room wildly, shaking. He's more emotional than Sam's ever seen him, and Sam feels tears of sympathy and relief clouding his own vision before he can stop them.

"Nobody took me," Sam says, his voice coming out choked and broken. "I ran away."

Dean seems to understand then, seems to get it. He blinks at Sam, face changing color from sickly green to pale white, then flushing red as he absorbs Sam's words, mouth working like he's repeating them to himself.

Sam climbs up off the ratty couch, lets go of Bones with a reassuring pat, spreads his arms wide. "See? I'm fine. Just needed a break, is all. Me and Bones here, we're fine."

Dean's face clouds, he tucks the gun away into the back of his waistband, mouth closing into a tight line. He's on Sam in two long strides, grabbing the front of Sam's hoodie and yanking him in, crushing his body against Sam's, hugging him for all he's worth.

"God damn it, kid!" he growls into Sam's ear. "Been looking everywhere for you! Figured you must be dead by now! Jesus!" He's shaking, his voice unsteady, and Sam hugs him back with tears of relief streaming down his cheeks, more grateful than he'll ever admit to be back in Dean's arms.

Truth is, he's grown pretty sick of being on his own, of being hungry and dirty, his only companion staring at him in silent accusation with those big sad eyes because Sam can't find enough food to feed himself, let alone his erstwhile canine pal. He stopped feeling relieved to be away from Dean about a week-and-a-half ago, and lately all he could do was hope and wish and pray that Dean would find him.

After a moment, Dean pushes Sam away, holds him at arm's length, glares at him with glistening eyes. "Fuck you, Sammy!" Dean shakes him soundly, glares at him like he doesn't know whether to hit him or hug him again. "God damn you, little brother. You scared the living shit outta me, you know that? Huh?"

He shakes Sam again, staring at him like he doesn't ever want to stop looking, checking him over for injuries before shaking him again. Then his face crumbles into grief and he crushes Sam's body against him again and holds fast, taking long, shuddering breaths as he swears at Sam over and over.

It feels better than it should, being back in Dean's arms, and Sam can't seem to stop crying, can't seem to hold back his relief. He needs to make Dean see how grateful he is, needs Dean to understand how good it feels. It's just a good thing Sam stinks to high heaven, hasn't had a shower in weeks, can imagine how disgusting he is at the moment as an excuse not to grab Dean's face in his hands and –

"What the hell were you thinking?"

They've been driving for an hour, windows down because Sam smells so bad, and Sam's having trouble thinking straight because Dean made him leave Bones behind at the shelter. And, as grateful as he is to be rescued (although he'll never admit it, no way!), he's feeling monumentally grief-stricken and furious with Dean right now for abandoning his furry friend.

Plus, now that the first rush of relief at being reunited has faded, Sam's familiar sullen resentments have returned in full force. Because nothing has really changed, despite running away and giving Dean the scare of his life. Dean's still the same controlling, bossy older brother he always was, and Sam's the same stubborn, rebellious younger brother, and it took less than an hour to fall right back into the old groove.

"Huh? Sam? You gonna tell me what this is about?" Dean goes on, and Sam clenches his jaw, stares straight ahead through the windshield. "Cuz you're just lucky Dad didn't find out, y'hear what I'm sayin'?"

Sam frowns at that. "You didn't tell Dad?" he glances at Dean's profile, sees the familiar jawline clenched just as hard as his own. "Dad doesn't know? Where did he think I was? Summer camp?"

Dean sucks in a breath, kneads the steering wheel with white knuckles, shoots a quick glance at Sam, and Sam gets it. He can't believe it, but he can read Dean like a book, and that look is almost enough to deflate Sam's sails.

Almost.

"He never even knew I was gone, did he?" Sam breathes, shaking his head a little. "He never came back that night." Sam closes his eyes for a minute, tips his head back on the seat. "Wow."

So Dean's been alone these past three weeks, same as Sam. Alone, and worried, and Dad never even called. Never checked in. And Sam knows what that's like, knows all about the waiting and worrying and wondering if Dad's safe or if he's finally fought his last fight and is lying injured or dead somewhere, alone.

Sam feels the guilt seep sluggishly through his veins, making him tired, bone-weary and old at sixteen. He never meant to hurt Dean; never meant to scare him and upset him this way. When he left, it was wild and reckless, the craziest and most spontaneous thing he's ever done in his life.

Although he can barely remember the feeling now, at the time he was just so sick of everything. Sick of Dad's oblivious, obsessive pursuit of anything and everything supernatural, no matter how dangerous. Of Dean's blind loyalty to the man who dragged them all over the country, then left them for weeks at a time with no food or rent money while he took off after leads, often forgetting to check in or even call them to let them know he was alive. Sam was sick of all the military-style training, all the target practice and sparring, all the rote memorization. How to kill a ruguru. How to take down a Black Dog. How to exorcise a demon or repel a banshee. He was sick of the sudden, violent hunts in which Sam was expected to obey his father with no questions asked, in which he and Dean were supposed to be good little soldiers who followed orders, even when it meant staying put while Dean threw himself into the line of fire.

And Sam really wasn't very good at that, just couldn't let his brother run headlong into danger without him, something Dad never seemed to understand. Sam found it harder and harder to bite his tongue, to control his anger at the unfairness of it all, at the sheer stupidity with which his father seemed to charge straight into danger every single damn time, throwing first Dean and then Sam into front-line skirmishes in his own private war. The battle seemed more and more insane to Sam. His father's willingness to risk their lives in a rash effort to rid the world of every evil seemed more and more absurd. The cost was just too great; Sam watched Dean get injured, watched him barely survive attack after attack, and he couldn't help feeling the risks simply out-weighed the benefits here.

Because sure, he could understand the need to try to stop monsters from hurting other families the way the Winchesters had been hurt. He got that. But more and more in the past few months Dad's pursuit of evil had become haphazard, less focused on finding the thing that had killed their mom and more of a general vendetta against the whole supernatural world. And there was no way the Winchesters could keep going after every goddamn monster forever. At the rate they were all getting banged up, it wouldn't be long before one of them sustained some injury that was serious and long-term. It wouldn't be long before one of them was rendered permanently disabled or got killed.

So, the way it looked to Sam, his disgust with Dad's strategy seemed pretty rational, even if it did result in colossal yelling matches between them. Even if lately it had felt like all they did was yell at each other. And lately it had become hard not to lash out at Dean as well, to take his frustration out on the one person who would just take it, just let Sam yell and rage and whine and bitch and moan and complain. His most staunch ally. His most trusted friend. His brother.

But Sam's frustration wasn't just with Dad and the chaos of their hunting lives. In fact, sometimes he imagined being all right with it all, if it wasn't for this thing between Sam and Dean. This dark need that had grown and festered until it writhed and burned just under the surface, scratching perilously against the walls of Sam's skin, his sanity, desperate to break free. Last year's crush had turned into this year's obsession, and Sam had to get away before it consumed them both. In his rational moments he knew he could never hurt Dean, never force him to do something Sam was sure he didn't want to do. But recently Sam's dreams and waking fantasies had become more and more desperate, even violent. He wanted to hold Dean down and make him understand, force him to face this tsunami building between them before it was too late. Before it crashed over them and destroyed everything in its path. Sam had left because of Dean, because he needed to get away before he did something he was just sure they would both regret, before he destroyed them both and Dad too.

But now, riding shotgun in the car with the object of his obsession after a three-week self-imposed separation, now Sam thinks he might actually have this thing under control. Being away from Dean, just for a little while, has helped Sam to get a grip on his fraying sanity, to get some perspective on his bad-wrong-dirty incestuous feelings. Now, when he glances at his brother's familiar profile at the wheel of the family car, now Sam feels only a twinge of the old lust that always hits him when he looks at Dean. His vision doesn't go dark and red, his head doesn't pound; he doesn't need to clench his fists to keep from grabbing Dean and throwing him down over the hood of the Impala and just –

Well, at least it isn't quite so intense now. For the moment, Sam can almost remember what it was like between them before, when he was little and Dean was his world, his everything, when he loved his brother without wanting to tear him apart. When Sam took Dean's love for granted and didn't have to worry about horrifying him or destroying everything between them forever. When he could curl up with Dean and feel safe, secure in the belief that nothing bad could ever happen, as long as Dean was there.

Dean's shaking his head, jaw working, still angry as he drives, sneaking glances at Sam every now and again like he needs to be sure he's still there, like he's spent way too much time over the past three weeks imagining the worst.

"Never again, Sammy," he growls, sounding fierce, like he's giving himself an ultimatum instead of giving Sam a warning. "You never do that again, hear me? Not on my watch."

Sam sucks in a deep breath, lets it out slow. Nods. "Okay," he agrees softly, then thinks he needs to say more. "Look, Dean, I – " but Dean cuts him off, making a short chopping sign with his hand as he shoots Sam a warning glance.

"That's enough," he growls. "That's good enough. Just, never again."

And Sam nods again. He hunches down in the seat; he tries not to think about how much he wishes Dean would stop the car and take it out of his hide. Sam knows he deserves it, except he doesn't because he would probably enjoy it too much, which is so sick and twisted Sam just wants to melt through the seat and disappear.

Later, after Dean spends his last dollar earned hustling pool and whatever else the day before to feed Sam and rent them a motel room with a decent shower, after Sam's belly is full again for the first time in weeks and his body is so clean his skin tingles and his hair squeaks, Sam snuggles into the room's only bed and falls immediately into the first deep sleep he's had in at least a week. He barely hears Dean pacing the room, salting the windows and doors, checking the locks, making sure his gun's loaded before slipping it under his pillow. He barely feels the mattress dip as Dean crawls in behind him, scoots close. But when Sam feels Dean's arms around him, spooning him protectively, face pressed into his still-damp hair, Sam's body relaxes into his brother's and he's finally home again, almost back in that innocent childhood where Dean's arms provided all the comfort and emotional sustenance his body and soul could ever want.

Almost. Because Dean's erection is pressed into his ass, through the thin cotton of their boxers, and when Sam wiggles back just a little, Dean lets out a tiny gasp, thrusts deliberately and unmistakably against his ass.

Sam is suddenly wide awake, suddenly hard and desperate. What the hell? Oh God, yes. Fuck yes. This.

"You think you can just leave like that, Sam?" Dean hisses into Sam's hair, thrusting again as he wraps one arm around Sam's chest, the other hand on his hip, holding him in place as he thrusts again and again, short, tight movements that must be giving his dick some serious friction. "Think you can just take off on me like that without consequences? Huh?"

Sam struggles to make his mouth work, to respond adequately, because oh shit.

"God! No! I – " He tries to reach behind Dean, tries to grab his ass and pull him in tighter, but Dean bats his hand away, grabs Sam's wrist and folds his arm over his chest, grounding it there for a moment before letting it go so he can clutch Sam's hip again and thrust some more.

"You. Just. Can't. Do. That," Dean hisses, punching every word out on a thrust.

"Dean!" Sam's dick is painfully hard, but when he starts to reach for it, to slip his hand into his boxers and grab it just to give himself some relief, Dean bats his hand away, slides his own hand inside Sam's shorts and grabs Sam's dick, starts jacking him in time to his thrusts.

"Fuck!" Sam gasps, the idea of Dean's hand on his dick even more overwhelming than the reality, the sheer magnitude of his fantasy come to life almost more than he can handle.

"This what you want, little brother?" Dean pants, really working him now, grunting a little as he thrusts. "This what you need?"

"Yes!" Sam gasps, sliding his hand back over Dean's ass, pulling their bodies even tighter together, making Dean moan. "God, yes, Dean. Fuck yes."

"Such a little shit, Sammy, leaving me like that. Such a little bitch."

"I'm sorry, Dean," Sam whimpers, unable to control the mounting tension in his body, senses on overload. "I'm so sorry. God!" His balls tighten, dick swelling almost painfully in Dean's grasp, and he throws his head back, gritting his teeth as his orgasm crashes through him, unstoppable, mind-blowing, seemingly unending. Dean milks him through it, grip loosening, fist smeared with Sam's jizz. As he starts to come down Sam feels Dean's mouth on his neck, kissing, sucking, then nipping sharply, making Sam squirm and cry out.

"Never again, Sam," Dean murmurs in Sam's ear, tongue and teeth worrying his earlobe, tugging on it in subtle warning. "You hear me? Never again. Say it!"

"Never again," Sam breathes, boneless and sleepy. He reaches up to cup Dean's cheek, turning his face toward his brother with the vague idea of kissing him, of capturing those soft, plush lips with his own.

But Dean pulls away, climbs backwards off the bed, leaving Sam with a warm, Dean-scented space to snuggle in, too relaxed and content to care about the mess in his shorts. Sam's almost unconscious when he hears the bathroom door close, his brain too sleep-fogged to acknowledge what seems obvious to him when he thinks about it the next day, after he wakes up alone and Dean won't look at him.

Dean never allowed himself to come. "Never again" wasn't just about running away. For Dean, nothing has changed. Except for Sam. For the first time, Dean has had to face how deep his need for Sam really goes, how desperate is his need to keep Sam with him. And Dean's willing to give Sam what he wants to keep him from running again, but he hates himself for it. Dean hates himself for using sex to manipulate Sam into staying with him because he's convinced Sam doesn't really know what he wants, because he believes Sam deserves better than this life of danger and poverty and incest. Dean believes Sam deserves someone better than Dean.

Which is so messed up it makes Sam's head hurt.

**//**

Of course it festers between them, and Sam can't let it go, can't stop wanting to talk about it, until Dean finally shuts him down.

"Not making this worse than it is, Sam," Dean warns when they're sparring a week later, when Sam's got Dean pinned under him, starts grinding his hips against Dean's obvious erection.

"You want it too, Dean," Sam insists, panting with the effort to hold Dean down. He's still smaller, lighter, and part of him knows Dean's just giving in, allowing it. "Admit it! You want it too!"

"No," Dean looks up at him, straight into his eyes and dead serious after a week of avoiding eye contact and skirting the issue. "No, I don't, Sam. Not this. Not adding this to the list of ways our lives are messed up, y'hear me? No way."

Sam huffs a scornful laugh, fighting back the tears of hurt at Dean's words. "A little late for that, don'tcha think?" He grinds down against Dean again for emphasis, and Dean glares silently at him for a moment. Then his muscles tense and he heaves Sam off of him like he weighs nothing, flips him so that now it's Sam on his back and Dean's got hold of his wrists, pins his arms to the ground over his head while he keeps Sam's body trapped with his heavier, more muscular frame.

"You're a horny teenager with a crush on his brother," Dean growls. "And I was literally sick in the head worrying about you for three weeks. That's it. End of story."

Sam can't help bucking up, trying to grind ineffectually against the hard dick pressing into his groin. "So what's this?" he demands. "What the hell is this, Dean? Huh?"

"It's adrenaline, Sam," Dean hisses, gripping Sam's wrists in a vise, pressing himself harder into Sam's body, obviously trying to stop him from moving. "It's testosterone. It's the way a healthy man reacts to a good fight. It's normal."

Sam's dick is hard enough to cut glass, and having Dean press even harder against him is definitely not helping, especially given the topic of conversation. In fact, Sam thinks if Dean doesn't stop talking about his erection soon, Sam's not going to be responsible for what happens.

"Dean." Sam almost whines as he shuts his eyes and parts his lips and lies still, positively trembling with need.

Dean finally seems to realize the effect he's having on his brother, loosens his grip on Sam's wrists and backs off, licking his lips as he rocks back on his haunches, then pushes himself smoothly to his feet, cheeks only a little flush. And yeah, maybe it's just from the exertion, but Sam knows better. Sam knows better, but he's not going to push it, not when he can see how difficult this is for Dean.

He takes the hand Dean offers him, lets Dean pull him to his feet.

"Are we good?" Dean asks, stepping back so they're not touching anymore. and Sam feels it like a burn, the places where their skin was in contact only a moment before. Like a brand.

But he nods, blinking away the tears smarting at the edges of his vision, unable to miss the sudden look of helplessness in Dean's eyes, the fragile vulnerability as he doubts himself, fears he's gone too far and driven Sam away for good.

"We're good," Sam's breathes, a little choked maybe but otherwise as steady as he can.

For Dean. To show Dean he can deal with this, this pain that feels like rejection. He can deal with it because he can see how it devastates Dean, how the idea that he might give in to Sam's desire is horrifying to Dean. Dean's self-recrimination knows no bounds, and Sam can see how ready Dean is to blame himself for this twisted thing between them.

And Sam will never hurt Dean like that. Never. He'll carry his intense, wild-hearted love for his brother to his grave, if that's what it takes; he'll never make Dean miserable or even uncomfortable about it again. It's Sam's burden to carry, Sam's cross to bear, and he'll do it.

He'll hold it in. Control it. Deny and repress it.

For Dean.

PART TWO
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