He's fifteen, and he's back in that rainy motel in Nebraska, the one where Dad left them for three weeks that time while he went somewhere to take care of something that was only gonna take a couple of days.
The one where they met the gorgeous hunter with the sad hazel eyes who told them his name was Sam Hagar. The drunken, half-crazy man with a body like a Greek statue come to life, who was trying to find his brother. The beautiful broken man who showed Dean how to pick the lock on a vending machine, how to ward against banshees and hex-goblins, how to make a grown man come apart on his dick.
In the dream, the man-whose-first-name-makes-Dean-trust-hi
"I have to go," he tells Dean, and Dean clings. He can't help it. He's never been in love before, doesn't think this is it exactly, but he's been living in Sam's space for almost two weeks now and he doesn't want to let him go. Ever.
"You should stay till our dad gets back," Dean pleads. "He'll want to see you."
"Oh, I doubt that," Sam huffs out a laugh. He's got his duffel over his shoulder and he's hovering in the doorway. "See you around, Dean."
"Wait!" Dean commands, desperate. "Don't go out in this. Wait till morning, at least."
Sam blinks, looks down at the puddle forming around the floor at his feet. "I can't stay here," he sighs, so that his words come out a little breathless. "I have to go."
Thunder crashes, so loud it must be right overhead, and the lights go out. Sam's outlined in the doorway with the fading lightning flash, making him seem huge and unreal at the same time, and Dean moves forward without even thinking, just grabs onto the big guy. He's thinking, I can't let you go, as he pulls Sam inside, out of the doorway, back into the room. Then another crash of thunder makes him lose his balance, sends him falling against the older man. Sam gathers him up like a limp sack of potatoes, maybe trying to set him upright, but the angle is off so that Dean's pressed against him, chest to chest, with his hands tangled in Sam's jacket collar, then his hair because Sam's leaning down at the same time.
The kiss is an accident. Dean's sure of that, because it's off-center and toothy, and he can feel Sam shiver a little as his lips touch Dean's. Somehow Sam's duffel drops to the floor – probably in the startled moment when the lights went out. But Dean's hands are full of Sam now, his body pressed flush against the older man's, and Sam's mouth tastes like whiskey and salt, and also something earthy and coppery like blood. Dean's hard, has been for a while, maybe since he flung open the door and found Sam standing there in the rain, looking lost and wet.
The kiss deepens as Sam sinks into him, short panting gasps into Dean's mouth as he opens up. He lets Sam's tongue plunge inside, plundering rather than exploring as he grinds his body into Dean's. Sam's huge hands run down his back, slip under his shirts, seeking skin, and Dean moans when those hot hands shove up under Dean's tee-shirt, kneading his back muscles hungrily.
Dean's head spins as he yanks on a handful of Sam's hair, gets another of those breathy gasps out of him, wants to hear it again, to feel it vibrating against his tongue. The front of his clothes are soaked through where he's pressed against Sam, and Sam is pawing at him and crying, his tears hot and somehow wetter than the rest of him, sliding into Dean's mouth, tasting of salt and sweat and Sam. The older man sags against Dean, and the floor is wet under their feet, so that Dean finds he can't get enough purchase to keep from slipping.
They slide to the floor together, Sam sinking back on his heels so that Dean's almost in his lap, kneeling up between Sam's splayed thighs. From this angle he's actually taller, cradling Sam's massive head in his hands while Sam runs his hands up and down Dean's back, down over his ass, yanking him closer.
When the older man's long fingers slip into his crack Dean gasps, goes rigid with the effort to control the need to come, to just spill in his jeans. Sam rubs Dean's hole through his jeans, mouthing at Dean's upturned throat, mumbling Dean's name over and over along with God and Jesus and fuck, fuck, fuck. Sam's teeth close around Dean's earlobe and suddenly Dean's forgotten why he shouldn't come so he does, just lets the white-hot heat of his orgasm rush over him, every nerve-ending shivering as he tips his head back, lets Sam hold him as he comes and comes and comes. It seems to take hours, and he's aware of Sam's mouth against his ear, whispering, "That's it. That's it, Dean. I got you."
He's aware of the thunder, the occasional flash of lightning, the roar of the rain on the roof. He's aware of being wet and sticky in his pants and soaked through his shirts, aware of the furnace of Sam's chest pressed against his through the damp fabric.
He's aware of a soft shuffling sound near the door. Dean's eyes fly open and he turns his head just in time to catch the flash of Sammy's eyes – little Sam, Dean's almost-eleven-year-old brother – in the doorway, before the kid ducks back into the shadows.
"I have to go," Sam murmurs, deep shuddering breaths hot against Dean's cheek. He shifts back a little, gently but firmly, trying to peel Dean off his lap without pushing. Dean's oversensitive dick rubs against the hard outline of Sam's jeans, and he lets out a hiss as he pulls back, clenching his jaw.
"You want me to take care of that?" Dean's voice comes out rough and he remembers making some pretty growly noises a few moments before, maybe guaranteeing his throat will be a little sore for a while.
"Nah, I'm good," Sam huffs out a shaky laugh and sits back, pushing Dean away from him, holding him at arm's length. "It's definitely time for me to move on."
As if the motel agrees, the lights suddenly go on again, flooding the room with light, making Dean blink and squint, feeling suddenly exposed. Awkward. Dean flushes to the tips of his ears, can't look at Sam; in the stark light it's suddenly too real, what's happening, how desperate he is to make Sam stay –
"It's okay, Dean," Sam says softly, like he can read Dean's mind. "It's a little confusing at first, but you'll get over that. You'll figure it out."
"I – I don't know what you're talking about," Dean blusters, fighting back the tears smarting at the edge of his vision. "I don't even know you."
Sam takes a deep, shaky breath, sits back on his heels for a moment and just looks at Dean before rising smoothly to his feet. A single drop of rainwater falls from the edge of his jacket and his shoes squelch and squeak. Dean stays where he is, crouched on the floor with jizz drying in his jeans, unable to move or even to look up. He stares at Sam's shoes for a moment, realizes they look a lot like an old pair his dad had, wonders vaguely if they're hand-me-downs.
"It's okay," Sam says again. "I have to find my brother. You already have yours."
Sam turns, and Dean watches as Sam's feet move slow and heavy across the floor to the door, leaving a wet smear on the linoleum floor. Dean feels panic rising in his chest, but he can't seem to make himself respond, can't seem to move, goddamn it, as if he's trapped in his own fear, his terror of being left. Abandoned.
Sam has already reached the doorway, already stopped to look back, already said, "Goodbye, Dean," and turned away again before Dean finds his voice. He raises his head to look up at Sam, feeling a rush of adrenaline and lust as he gazes at this man who is so important somehow, who means more than he should because he's really a stranger. They've only known him for a couple of weeks...
Sam stops, his hand on the open door, his face wet with new tears, soft pink lips trembling a little, hand clutching the door like a lifeline between realities.
"You can stay!" Dean blurts out, because it's the only thing he can think to say and he's feeling desperate. "We'll help you find your brother."
Sam hesitates, jaw clenching, hand fisting the door like he needs it to keep him grounded, to keep from spinning off into some other dimension, to prevent him from collapsing into Dean's arms again.
"You know how you can help me, Dean?" he says finally, his voice low and intense. "You can tell that kid how you feel about him." He nods toward the bed furthest from the door, the one Dean's little brother sleeps in. "In a year or two, when he starts to need more from you, don't push him away. Don't let him think he's some kind of a freak for it. 'Cause believe me, this is as normal as it's gonna get. There is no escape for people like us. No getting out and having a regular life. Ever. No matter what you tell yourself. No matter what he thinks he wants."
"I don't – I don't know what you're talking about," Dean whispers, panic rising in his chest at the thought of his little brother having anything – and everything – to do with this, the idea that his feelings for Sammy have anything to do with what just happened –
"Goodbye, Dean," Sam repeats, sparing one last glance at Dean, still kneeling on the floor. Dean sees the flash of pain in Sam's eyes, the momentary hesitation like he's second-guessing himself, like he's suddenly afraid he's said too much.
Then he's out the door, not even bothering to close it after himself, or maybe he meant to but Dean's on his feet so fast, bolting after him, that the door is left swinging, the rain beyond a curtain of silvery darkness, cold and wet and unyielding.
"Sam!" Dean's out the door, at the edge of the parking lot, yelling out into the stormy night, but Sam's already disappeared. Dean doesn't even get a glimpse of his retreating back as a parting memory. Dude's just gone. "Damn it!"
He briefly considers taking off after the old guy, although he's got no idea which way he went. Then he decides he has to try, has to make the effort, so he's turning to grab his jacket off the back of his chair when –
Sammy's standing in the doorway again, staring at him with a look that's all doubtful and uncertain and hopeful at the same time, and it occurs to Dean that the kid probably heard the whole thing, maybe even knows more about what Sam was trying to tell Dean than Dean knows himself.
Dean wakes with a start, chest heaving, cheeks damp with tears. The dream is clinging to the edges of his consciousness, but it's fleeting, already fragmented, and he's left with a staggering sense of failure, of something gone terribly wrong. Something to do with Sammy. He's failed Sam somehow.
"Dean?" Sam's sleep-soaked voice cuts through the last vestiges of the dream, relegating it to the graveyard of half-forgotten moments that haunt Dean's waking life on a daily basis.
Dean turns to the one constant in his life, the one person whose presence makes everything worth it. Sam snuggles closer to him on the bed, slips one long, hot arm across his chest and pulls him in. He settles along Dean's side and presses his lips against Dean's bare shoulder, then he slides his hand up to Dean's cheek and swipes his thumb along Dean's cheek.
"You okay?" Sam asks as he feels the tears on Dean's skin.
"Yeah," Dean breathes, voice sleep-rough to his ears. "Just a dream."
Sam kisses his shoulder again in the dark, pushes a bare leg over one of Dean's and ruts lazily against his hip. "You can tell me about it, if you want," he offers, but Dean shakes his head.
"You know that's never a good idea," Dean mutters, and Sam gives a slight nod. They both have nightmares of their time in Hell, and talking never helps. Tends to make the memories more real, in fact, like bringing mini tulpas to life. It's a silent agreement between them, and they know to offer each other comfort in any way they can, but they rarely verbalize their experiences in the dark place. It's enough that they've both been there, that they know enough about what the other one has been through to be each other's rock. They ground each other, keep each other safe from the bad memories, depend on each other to do that.
For another minute they lie still, Sam settling again, draped over Dean like a living furnace, and Dean relaxes a little, trying not to worry too much about the trials, about Sam's declining health.
But there's something nagging at his memory, something about that dream he just had...
"Sam, when I was in Purgatory, did you ever – " Dean clears his throat, flashing back to his dream, to a tall, gaunt man standing in a dark motel room, face dripping with rain. "You ever do any time-traveling, Sam?"
He feels Sam stiffen, hears Sam's quick intake of air, like an aborted gasp.
"Jesus, Sammy, you coulda just told me." Dean shifts under Sam's weight, suddenly uncomfortably hot.
Sam slides over onto his back so that now they're lying side by side, no longer touching, both staring at the ceiling. "What do you remember?"
Dean shakes his head, sits up because he can't stay still another moment, and flips on the bedside light.
"Jesus fuck, Sam, what do you think I remember? You. Old. Old you. Looking like you do now, with that stupid long hair. Dammit, Sam, why did you do that?"
Sam takes a deep breath, lets it out slow. "I was looking for you," he says, pulling himself up to sitting, turning half away from Dean and putting one bare foot on the floor, like he wants to bolt. "You disappeared, Dean, remember? I looked everywhere for you. I tried everything. For months."
"Until you didn't," Dean nods. "Until you stopped. You decided I was dead, and you went on with your life. You hit a dog, met a girl, gave up hunting."
Sam flinches, looks away. This is still so new, their reunion. And now that Sam's taken on the trials, it's become a reconciliation. They started sleeping together again about a week after they moved into the bunker, mostly because Dean can't stand to sleep alone, but that's not the point. It's taken months to rebuild the trust between them, and it's still tenuous at best. Dean can see how reluctant Sam is to scratch at the still-fresh scar of their separation, to do anything that might endanger their fragile intimacy, so recently regained yet still so precarious.
"Eventually," Sam agrees.
"But that's not the whole story," Dean prods. "Is it, Sam? Shit. Why did you lie to me? What really happened?"
Dean knows he might get more lies at this point; Sam's had months to weave his web of delusion about Dean's time in Purgatory, let it fester with guilt and self-recrimination, and Dean has an idea that if something bad happened while he was away, he may never know it.
Except for his dream.
"What did you do?"
"I went a little crazy," Sam sighs, reluctant. "I – I found a witch. She said you were alive. She said she could send me to you. So I – I made her do a spell."
"Fuck." Dean stares at his brother's profile for a minute, then turns away, reaching down to grab his jeans up off the floor, pulls them on as he huffs out an angry breath. "Jesus, Sam. You could've ended up in Purgatory."
"Nope." Sam shakes his head. "Just twenty years into the past. In the middle of a field, a few miles from that motel in Nebraska. In the rain."
"How'd you get back? Huh? After you left that night, how'd you get back?"
It's making Dean crazy, the idea that his little brother was flying around through time while Dean was in Purgatory, while Dean couldn't stop him. What if he'd never come back?
"I found the mother of the first witch, made a deal she couldn't refuse."
Sam winces, a haunted, guilty look that Dean thinks he knows too well.
"Dammit, Sam," Dean gasps, pacing the floor with slow, deliberate movements, ice water shooting through his veins. "What the hell did you do?"
Sam looks up, frown creasing his brow. "No, no," he shakes his head, shuddering subtly. "Not that kind of deal. I could never do that to you."
Dean's relief is palpable, but he can't help the little niggling tingle of doubt at the back of his mind. Sam threatened that witch with something awful, something unforgivable, and Dean has a sudden vision of Sam holding onto a little girl, knife at her throat, a look of desperation bordering on madness in his eyes as he glares down at the girl's mother, the witch.
But Sam didn't have to go through with the threat because the witch did what he asked, sent him back to his own time...
"You coulda just stayed, Sam. With us. Twenty-years-younger us."
Sam shakes his head, starts to say something, then shakes his head again. His mouth is trembling, though.
"I couldn't stay there," Sam says. "I had to find you. This you. And I had to leave. I had to leave that time while I still could. Before I made everything worse."
Dean shakes his head again, scrubs a hand over his face, pinches the bridge of his nose.
"Everything changed that night," he says. "The night you left. Everything between me and you."
"I know," Sam nods.
"If you hadn't – I never would've – " Dean frowns. His head hurts.
"I know," Sam repeats. "I remember."
"I think I knew," Dean admits. "I think I knew that old guy was you but I just didn't want to think about it."
Sam nods, swallows, licks his lip. "I should've told you," he says, voice sounding a little wrecked, broken. "I shouldn't have done what I did – "
"I wanted it," Dean insists, shaking his head. "I wanted it bad."
"You were fifteen!"
Dean paces, scrubbing a hand over his face. His eyes flicker to Sam's face, and there's the gorgeous long-haired hunter from his dreams, clear as day. Unforgettable, yet somehow forgotten, repressed until his dream.
It occurs to Dean there might be something magical about the bunker itself that caused the dream in the first place. Maybe the bunker harbors some kind of magical properties that pushed the memory forward into Dean's consciousness, forcing him to make sense of it, helping him to figure it out.
"Why didn't you just tell me?" Dean shakes his head, one hand rubbing the back of his neck, the other gesturing helplessly at his brother. "When I got back. Why did you let me think you gave up hunting? Shirked your responsibilities? Why, Sam?"
"You didn't remember," Sam says, tears glistening in his eyes. "You didn't remember what I did, and I was good with that. It was better that way."
Dean lowers his eyes, too guilty to look at Sam's grief. "So after you left us in Nebraska that night, you went back to that witch, got her to send you back here. Went on with your life."
"Not quite," Sam sighs, hunching his shoulders so he seems to be folding in on himself. "Time moved differently in that timeline. When I got back, it'd been over six months here. You were still gone, and I still had no idea what had happened to you. Nobody from Heaven or Hell was answering my calls. I was feeling so desperate at that point, I almost went back – I even tried to find the witch who sent me to you in the first place, but of course she'd already packed up and moved on."
Sam takes a deep breath, runs a hand through his hair and stares off into a corner of the room, lost in his memory. "Which was probably a good thing," he goes on, "because if she'd still been there, I might have made her send me back. If I couldn't have the real you, maybe I could spend the rest of my life being an older brother to that younger you. At least I'd be with you, maybe stop the Leviathan and keep you from going to Purgatory in the first place."
"But you didn't know that's what happened to me," Dean clarifies. "Maybe I was dead. Maybe I was just – obliterated. Maybe that witch lied to you when she told you I was alive."
"Don't you think I thought of that, Dean?" Sam's voice is so soft it's almost a whisper. "I was out of my mind by the time I drove off the road and hit that dog. I fucked up. I threw out my phones. Purgatory wasn't on the list of places I looked."
"You didn't fuck up, Sam." Now it's Dean's turn to sigh, to run a hand over his hair. "You were gone for six months. Now I get why you didn't answer Kevin's calls. I – I just wish you'd told me, is all. Not let me think you just dropped the ball."
Sam closes his eyes, shakes his head. "I raped a fifteen-year-old boy, Dean. I was just relieved you didn't remember."
"Wasn't rape, Sammy," Dean growls. "Definitely wasn't that."
"I never would've stopped looking for you, Dean," Sam insists brokenly. "If you hadn't come back when you did, I would've left Amelia and started looking for you again anyway. I would've done anything, even gone back to that other time, to find you, or stop whatever happened to you. You have to believe that."
"I do," Dean breathes out another long sigh. He crosses around in front of Sam, sinks to his knees, runs his hands up Sam's thighs. Sam sleeps naked, always has since he turned eighteen, since that summer before Stanford when they confessed their need for each other and everything changed.
Sam's got the sheet draped over his groin, and Dean fingers the edge of it, watches as the fabric moves, begins to tent as Sam responds to Dean's touch.
"You want me to take care of that?" Dean asks, his voice deliberately low, deliberately doing the silky smooth growl that always gets Sam going. He looks up at Sam from under his lashes as he leans in between Sam's thighs, as he parts his lips and licks them slowly.
Sam's eyes are dark, his lips parted and slick where he's bitten them, his long hair framing his face, casting shadows across his chiseled cheekbones and nose. Sam has always been beautiful, but in the past year he's suddenly grown into a maturity that sits well on him, settles his sharp features so that he seems complete, fully realized. It's a good look on him, Dean decides. Little brother's finally all grown up.
"Nah, I'm good." Sam smiles a little, dimples showing, suddenly bashful.
"Like hell you are," Dean mutters, slides his hands up Sam's chest and pushes him back so he's lying prone on the bed. Dean climbs up between Sam's legs, unbuttoning his jeans and wiggling out of them as he goes. "I remember how much you like me to do this. I remember all of it, Sam."
Sam flushes, closes his eyes, and tears glisten on his lashes as Dean pulls the sheet away, dips his head and runs his tongue up Sam's hard, hot cock.
Sam bucks and his breath hitches.
"You like this?" Dean murmurs, running his hands up Sam's thighs as he flicks his tongue into the slit of Sam's cock. "You like fifteen-year-old me sucking your dick, Sam? Hmmm? Little skinny twink just taking you apart...?"
"Fuck, Dean, shut up!" Sam moans, dick twitching on Dean's tongue, making him grin.
"Yeah, I know you did, you kinky bastard." Dean closes his mouth over the head of Sam's cock and deep-throats it in one swift movement. He's always loved Sam's dick. He's always loved doing this.
Taking care of Sam is what he's always done.
The next morning, it hits him.
Sam's at the library table, staring by turns into his laptop screen and the ancient book lying open on the table beside him. Dean's made him another Sam's Special, the breakfast omelet Sam can't resist because it's got cheese and vegetables and even a little bacon, so everybody's happy. It makes Dean unspeakably happy that they have a kitchen now, and almost out of his mind with joy at how well he can feed Sam with it.
"You knew, didn't you?" he asks as he takes a sip of his coffee. Good, black, strong coffee, made with freshly ground beans and steeped with not-quite-boiling water to bring out the robust flavor.
Not that he's anal about that kind of thing. No sir.
Sam looks up, eyes still a little foggy with sleep, hair wild and uncombed. Dean can tell the moment Sam realizes what Dean's asking because his eyes shift back to his laptop and he clears his throat.
"Knew what?" he asks, but Dean can see the tell-tale flush in Sam's cheeks, confirming Dean's suspicion.
"You knew he was you," Dean spells it out anyway, curious to see Sam's reaction. "Little Sammy figured it out, didn't you?"
"Maybe," Sam concedes, shifting awkwardly in his chair. "Yeah, okay. Probably."
"How?" Dean slides into the chair across the table, knocking his knees with Sam's. "When did you figure it out?"
Sam shrugs. "Well, it wasn't hard, really. He knew so much about us, stuff I was pretty sure Dad never told anybody. Plus, you – you trusted him."
"'Course I did," Dean huffs, taking a sip of his coffee. "He was you."
Sam looks up, peers at Dean with such naked gratitude it makes Dean's heart skip. Now it's Dean's turn to shift awkwardly in his seat and clear his throat.
"Hey," he growls. "When you're done with that, y'wanna go back to bed?"
Sam blinks and his mouth drops open. Dean wiggles his eyebrows and Sam's face collapses into a dimpled grin, cheeks flushing gorgeously. Dean's amazed again that he didn't see it before, that he didn't equate this beautiful man with the gorgeous hunter who took his virginity all those years ago. It's so obvious now.
Dean pounds the table top with his hand and scrapes his chair back as he gets to his feet.
"I'm gonna go check out our incredible-water-pressure showers again," he announces. "You're welcome to join me."
Later, when they're showered and sated and curled around each other in Dean's bed again, Dean's sleepy brain replays the details from those humid, heady days twenty years ago, and he realizes that Sammy knew.
Sammy knew that the older version of himself and Dean were fucking. He wasn't stupid, and he'd almost walked in on them a couple of times. It had to be obvious.
Even now, now that he remembers, now that Sam knows he remembers, he just needs Sam to see that what happened back then was exactly what Dean wanted most but would never have taken from his little brother.
And maybe he'd only half-understood what Sam was telling him about how Sammy needed him the same way. But it had made all the difference, when the time came. When Dean finally admitted how he felt, what he really wanted from Sam, it was because part of him remembered the older Sam's words, that this was just how it was between them. It was just part of what they meant to each other.
They sleep for a while, then Dean wakes Sam up with another blow-job. He can't seem to get enough all of a sudden, as if Sam might slip away from him, maybe to fly around through time again, before Dean has a chance to show him how much he wants him to stay.
In the after-glow after the blow-job, Dean works Sam open slowly, carefully, conscious that Sam's temperature is higher than normal, that he hasn't been well lately. He uses his tongue to ease the way, working his fingers in one at a time. Sam pulls his knees back to his chest, keening and huffing as Dean loosens him up. He lubes himself up as he kneels between Sam's legs, watching as he pushes inside, slow and careful just like the first time. Dean's first time. Sam's face smoothes out just as it did then, pink mouth going slack with pleasure, an expression of blissful relief making his eyes slide open just a crack, glittering under his lashes.
Dean's heart swells with love as he gazes down at Sam, at his perfect body pulling Dean inside, carving out that place where only Dean belongs. Dean's memories meld and flow as he pumps his hips, filling his head with images of this beautiful man who was somehow born to belong to him, who was given to him at birth and reborn from fire and blood over and over throughout their long, terrible lives.
Dean's love for Sam is the one constant amidst all the horror, all the death and misery and despair. Despite the lies, the betrayals, the attempts by Heaven and Hell to separate and destroy them.
Sam's love for Dean is the force that compels him to return to his brother, again and again, no matter how far he strays or how he may deny his own need for Dean. Dean is the magnet that always brings Sam home again, the compass that stays true in every storm, through every barrier and hardship. Sam will always find Dean, and nothing can ever really stop him, not Heaven, or Hell, or time itself.
As Dean comes he sees sparks, thinks he hears thunder rumbling in the distance. He gathers Sam into his arms, holds him tight, tasting blood and sweat as he comes down with his teeth buried in the meaty flesh of Sam's shoulder.
It's always been this. It always will be.