They didn't need to stop at the diner in Manchester for breakfast this time, since they'd already hit the McDonald's, so they were on the road, the sun just coming over the horizon as they headed south on I-95 down the New England coast.
"You first," Dean hedged, not sure how anything Sam could say would be worse than his own confession.
Sam squared his jaw and stared straight ahead, out the windshield. "Okay," he said with a nod. "We obviously have different memories of the past sixteen years or so. We'll need to sort that out at some point."
"That's not what you were going to say." Dean shook his head. "You have something to tell me that's bothering you, so say it."
Sam took a deep breath. "I'm guessing you don't remember it this way, but when I tracked you down, back in 1997, I was already pretty strung-out and desperate. I couldn't get back to this time and I let myself think – I started to believe I'd be stuck there."
Guilt slammed through Dean's veins like ice-water, making a lump rise in his throat and bringing tears to his eyes.
"I knew where you'd be," Sam went on. "In 1997, I knew where to find you. So I pretended to be a hunter friend of Dad's, promised to help you find your little brother."
"I remember all that," Dean nodded. "I already told you that's how I remember it."
Sam shook his head impatiently. "Do you remember me fucking you?" he said, his voice low and dark, and Dean glanced sharply at him. Sam was staring – no, make that glaring, his jaw working as he huffed a breath out through his nose, reminding Dean of an angry bull.
"No, I can't say I remember that," Dean agreed quietly, instinctively calming the wild beast next to him. "I'm pretty sure I would've remembered that."
"I cheated on you, Dean," Sam spat out, as if accusing himself of a capital crime instead of some venial sin against a version of his brother that no longer existed. "I had sex with that younger you even though I knew I shouldn't. I knew I shouldn't stop trying to get back to my own time, to my own brother. That younger-you belonged to his little brother, and I took advantage of him and cheated on you in the process."
"Wasn't me," Dean reminded him softly. "You and I haven't even – we never – " Dean waved his hand between them, unable to use the words, grateful to Sam for being so verbal and saving Dean the embarrassment, although it also made him blush like a virgin.
Which he was, technically, at least as far as men were concerned...
Oh fuck it.
"So it's not," Dean finished lamely. "You can get off your moral high horse and crawl around in the mud with the rest of us lowlifes. You didn't cheat."
Sam bit his lip and stared out the windshield for a moment. "So you never even thought about it?" he asked. "Back then, I mean. When you met me and you thought I was Jack Harper?"
"Oh, I thought about it," Dean admitted with a smirk. "You were hot. And I was a horny teenager. I definitely thought about it. A lot."
Sam huffed out a breath and shook his head. "So that wasn't me," he said. "You're remembering a different me, from a different timeline."
Dean frowned. This whole thing was making his head hurt. Damn, he hated time travel.
"You know what? I don't care," he decided, throwing a glare of his own in Sam's direction. "None of it matters. You're here now, basically back where you belong, so even if the timeline is off a little, it doesn't matter. Does it?"
Sam was silent, chewing on his bottom lip, staring out the windshield with that familiar expression that was half pout, half concentration.
"You said you had something to talk to me about," he said after so much time had passed that Dean had started to think he wouldn't remember. Dean had even started to feel a little guilty about it.
"Yeah." Dean sucked his bottom lip into his mouth, an unconscious reflection of Sam's gesture. Then he caught himself and stuck it out again. He could tell Sam was watching him, so he licked his lips, heard Sam give a little gasp and shift on the bench like he was trying to relieve the tightness in his jeans.
Like candy from a baby, Dean thought with a smirk. He'd been doing this all his life, he realized, getting a rise out of Sam. A rise. Heh. How they'd never acted on it was a mystery, though. They must've been so fucked up, so consumed with guilt over their feelings for each other, all they could manage was this constant teasing.
Sam didn't even have to tease. He exuded hotness just sitting there, the fucker.
"Yeah?" Sam prompted after enough time had passed for it to be obvious they were both feeling pretty constrained. Combined with the adrenaline rush of their recent adventure and their general state of exhaustion, Dean could almost smell the pheromones. Sitting so close in a small space was getting to them the way it usually did. Dean was sure the sexual tension wasn't new between them; they'd just been repressing it all these years.
God, what idiots they'd been.
"We should eat," Dean suggested, nodding at a highway sign indicating food available at the next exit.
"Dean, you're stalling," Sam reprimanded.
"I just think we should eat," Dean shrugged, ignoring the fluttering in his belly that told him Sam was right. "We've been on the road for four hours, haven't eaten since Mickey-D's last night, and we're running on fumes after flying around through God knows how many timelines or whatever for God knows how long. I'm hungry."
"Fine!" Sam snapped. "Let's stop. But whatever it is you couldn't say back at the motel isn't going to get easier when we're facing each other across a table. Just sayin'."
Damn it. Sam knew him too well, of course.
"Okay, you're right," Dean grumbled, passing the exit with only a glancing glare. "But this isn't going to sound any better on an empty stomach."
"Just spit it out, Dean." Sam threw his hands up. "It can't be any worse than what I just told you." Then Dean could feel Sam looking at him sharply as something must have occurred to him. "Can it?"
Dean had a sudden thought that was so horrific it made him gasp, made his eyes go wide in horror. Sam was watching him, his gaze pinched and worried, and Dean realized the kid was wondering if the man next to him was some kind of monster after all. The worst kind.
"No, no, not that." Dean shook his head. "How could you think that? Jesus, Sam. I'm your brother. You know me. We don't hurt kids."
"I'm not so good at that," Sam muttered miserably, and it took Dean a couple of seconds to understand what he was talking about. Then he shook his head sharply.
"No, Sam, that's different," he insisted. "Eighteen-year-old me was a total slut. I'm sure I was asking for it. And I was definitely old enough. Not exactly a virgin."
Sam flinched subtly.
"Fuck, Sam, I know I wasn't a virgin," Dean insisted. "There's no way, in any timeline, that I was a virgin at eighteen..."
When Sam flinched again, Dean got it. It hit him like a ton of bricks, in fact, making him feel like a fool and blush like a – okay! Like a virgin.
"You know what? Never mind!" Dean snapped. "This conversation is over. We are not talking about my – theoretical me. Gay-virgin or not, that guy was not me."
"Pretty sure we've established that," Sam agreed. "So, are you? A – you know."
Although Dean understood exactly what Sam was asking, the question took him by surprise. He could feel his eyes widen and his lips move as he tried not to sputter, as he tried to form a reasonable response, or find some way to deflect or joke his way out of a straight response.
"None of your fucking business, okay?" he blurted finally, eloquent as usual. "Now let it go!"
Sam raised his eyebrows and said nothing, but Dean could feel him smirking. He could feel Sam slouching on his side of the bench with a little satisfied smile on his lips, making Dean want to punch him. Or kiss him. Whatever.
At any rate, thinking about Dean's gay-virginity had apparently made Sam forget that Dean had a confession to make, so Dean took that as a win. It gave him a little more time to figure out what he would say when he finally got around to admitting that he hadn't tried very hard to get Sam back in the first place, and how it might be at least partly his fault that Sam had ended up in a different timeline altogether.
At any rate, it bothered Dean more than he would admit, the idea that Sam's brother was really somebody else, some guy who let Sam fuck him and who lost his leather jacket years ago. He wondered how many other differences there were, worried that one day he'd discover some major discrepancy that would make everything seem completely weird between them. Something besides the sex and the jacket."So, you know we're sort of working with the British Men of Letters at the moment," Dean prompted when they were seated at Stella's an hour later, facing each other across the table. "You know about Mom, right?"
"Dean, it's all the same," Sam assured him. "I keep notes on my phone, remember? I've got case files. I've already checked into everything we've been working on over the past six months and it's all the same."
"I just keep thinking there must be more differences," Dean shrugged. "I don't want to be blindsided when we're in the middle of a case and suddenly you turn out to be left-handed or something."
"Don't worry, I won't let you down," Sam groused as he took a bite of his salad. "You would know if there was something important that was different. So far, from world events to all the things that have happened to us over the past ten years or so, it's all the same."
Dean frowned. "So this thing between us, it didn't keep us from making the same mistakes?" He knew he was treading on delicate ground, but he couldn't help hoping some things had never happened. "You still took up with Jessica? I moved in with Lisa for a year?"
"It hasn't been easy, Dean." Sam shook his head. "Sex doesn't solve everything. We've had our times apart, just like you remember."
Dean lowered his voice and leaned halfway across the table as a terrible thought crashed into his mind.
"Ruby? I came back from hell and you cheated on me with that demon bitch? What the hell, Sam? We were together. Why didn't you just tell her that?"
Sam flushed, clenched his jaw and shook his head. "I can't believe you're bringing that up again," he muttered. "You promised you'd never talk about it again."
"Yeah, well, I'm only now figuring out that you cheated on me with her, Sam," Dean said. "How could you do that?"
Sam looked up and glared at Dean with so much rage in his eyes it made Dean blink. "Same way you could fuck Benny while you were in Purgatory," he hissed. "Or Cas when he was human. Or Gadreel when you thought he was me. We both made mistakes, Dean. A lot of them. Shit happened, and we dealt with it, same way we always do."
"By not dealing with it, you mean," Dean nodded, more shocked by Sam's revelations than he would admit. Not only had he never had sex with any of those men, but if he had, he wouldn't have considered those transgressions to be infidelities, since he and Sam weren't in that kind of relationship in the first place.
Nevertheless, what Sam was telling him was seriously messed up. It killed Dean to think about how badly he'd hurt this beautiful man without even knowing it. What kind of a bastard did that? What kind of a monster was that other Dean?
"It was never perfect." Sam shook his head again. "We've definitely had our rough patches. But it's all in the past now. We've been good these past couple of years. I'm sorry you don't remember it that way."
"I would never cheat on you, Sam!" Dean said fiercely, staring down at his empty plate like it held all the answers. "I can't imagine doing that to you. If you were mine, I'd never – "
"Shhhh." Sam laid his hand over Dean's on the table and Dean turned his hand over so they could tangle their fingers together. "I know. You've already apologized. I've already apologized. We've been through so much it doesn't even matter anymore, Dean. When all this Nephilim stuff is over, we're planning to take a vacation. Maybe visit Eileen in Ireland."
Dean shook his head and gave Sam a shaky smile as he pulled his hand away. "You know I hate flying."
Sam smiled just enough to let his dimples show and nodded as the waitress approached with their check. It was Penny, the fifty-something waitress from the other timeline, who had obviously never seen him before. "The Grand Canyon, then. You always want to go there. After our next Vegas trip we can stop there for a few days."
"Not a bad idea," Dean agreed as he pulled bills from his wallet with a distinct feeling of déjà vu.
"You still haven't told me what you were going to say back at the motel," Sam reminded him when they were on the road again, headed due west on the interstate through upper New York state. The sun was low on the horizon, and Dean knew the time to explain himself was long overdue. Besides, there was no way they could stop for the night until Dean cleared the air. No way.
"Yeah, about that," Dean shifted uncomfortably on the bench, hands clutching the wheel like a lifeline. "The thing is, I wasn't making as much of an effort to get you back as I probably should have been."
"What are you talking about?" Sam frowned.
"That kid was facing a hell of a future when he got back to his own time," Dean said, keeping his eyes carefully on the road. "To be honest, I sort of talked myself into keeping him."
"Keeping him?" Sam echoed, and Dean didn't have to look at Sam to read the confusion on his face.
"I was thinking maybe it was for the best," Dean said. "Maybe the kid was getting a second chance, right? Like a cosmic do-over or whatever."
Sam was silent, which is how Dean knew he'd understood what Dean was telling him.
"I know things never work out like that for us, Sam," Dean went on. "It was crazy to think maybe we could fix things if that younger you just stayed here and didn't go back. But – if you could have seen him, man. He was just a kid. Just a young kid! He didn't know what was coming...He didn't know, Sammy..."
"Dean, pull over." Sam spoke in that commanding tone that Dean couldn't not obey, no matter how messed up or pissed off he was. Sam in command could not be disobeyed.
Dean took the next exit onto a deserted two-lane highway and eased the car to a stop well off the road. He turned off the engine, and for a moment they sat quietly, watching the last rays of sunlight cast long shadows across the asphalt in front of them.
Finally, Sam took a deep breath. "So, you thought you could keep little-me here in the present with you and that would stop everything that happened to us."
"Pretty much, yeah," Dean agreed. "It was worth a shot, anyway."
"And you were just going to leave me in the past," Sam said. "That was the plan."
"Wasn't much of a plan, really," Dean muttered, flinching at Sam's bluntness. "You're the one who knows all the spells. All I had was Grandpa Winchester's blood ritual and some old books back in the bunker's library. Without help, I didn't have a chance in hell of reversing that spell. Cas is useless, not to mention AWOL, and I wasn't about to ask Rowena for help. Especially after we still owe her for that memory thing she helped us with."
"Did little-me know what you had planned?"
"It wasn't much of a plan, Sam," Dean repeated. "It was more like making the best of a shitty situation. You were stuck in the past, and I couldn't get you back. But maybe younger-you could grow up without demons breathing down his neck, you know? Maybe the angels would leave him alone this time."
"Younger-you would've never gotten over his little brother's disappearance," Sam said with a shake of his head. "Dad would've blamed him."
"He had you," Dean reminded him. "You'd have his back if he got into trouble. You'd be sure he stayed the course."
"He didn't even know me, Dean!" Sam said. "Once he found out I wasn't really an old hunting buddy of Dad's, he wouldn't have ever trusted me again."
Dean took a deep breath and let it out slow, then took his sweating palms off the steering wheel and rubbed them on his thighs.
"I should have tried harder to get you back," he said. "I shouldn't have accepted what happened so easily. Hell, if it wasn't for the kid, I never would've stopped trying to fix things. I just kept thinking, he deserves a better life. He ran away so he could find something better, and the least I could do is try to make sure he got it."
Sam shook his head and abruptly got out of the car, slamming the door soundly behind him. Dean watched as he paced back and forth next to the car, scrubbing a hand over his face and running his fingers through his hair.
"I left notes, in the bunker," he muttered angrily, barely loud enough for Dean to hear.
Dean decided he should get out and stretch, maybe take a piss. This could take a while, and the evening was really lovely. They had stopped near a lake, which Dean could see through the trees in the fading light. The air smelled of pine and car exhaust.
"You left notes," Dean repeated as he shut the car door, then leaned over the roof of the car to watch Sam's movements. Agitation rolled off his big body, making the muscles of his back ripple under his shirt. Dean couldn't remember when Sam had taken off his jacket, but he was glad he had. The man's body was sheer poetry in motion, sex on legs. It would serve Dean right if he never had that. It would be just what he deserved if after this Sam decided to forget about it.
"Yes, Dean. In the book in the library. Didn't you find it?" Sam stopped pacing to glare at him, and Dean frowned in confusion.
"The one about skin-walkers and time travel," Sam snapped impatiently. "I left it on the shelf where you'd be sure to see it. I know I remember it being there in the present, which means neither of us had ever taken it out. We'd never had any reason to. But I figured you'd see it right away when you got back to the bunker after watching a skin-walker try to time-travel and send me to the past instead."
Dean shook his head. "No, Sam, I never saw it."
Then he remembered young-Sam tucking something into his pocket, just before he gave the kid a tour of the bunker.
"I think I know who did, though," he said. He met Sam's eyes over the top of the car and he could tell Sam realized it, too. "What did the note say?"
"The reverse-spell needed to be performed in my room," Sam explained. "It needed something of mine, like a hairbrush or something I'd worn that hadn't been washed."
"Oh." Dean nodded. "Well, that's easy, since you never do your laundry."
"Shut up." Sam frowned, but Dean could tell he wasn't angry anymore. "I wasn't even sure it would work. It was more of a summoning spell than time-travel, really. It wasn't an easy spell. I guess I figured you'd have Rowena help you with it."
Dean looked away, nervously picking at the nail on his left thumb. "Yeah, I didn't want to bring her in," he admitted. "Didn't want her anywhere near the kid."
"Yeah, I can see that," Sam said softly, and Dean looked up, surprised to hear Sam agree. "Good thing the kid figured out how to do the spell on his own."
Dean blanched, cleared his throat, and looked away again. "He's a smart kid," he said quietly. "Gonna go to Stanford one day."
"Yeah," Sam nodded. "Thanks to his big brother, always looking after him and encouraging him. Inspiring him."
Dean felt tears smarting at the backs of his eyes. Sam leaned across the roof of the car on the passenger side, letting his hands fold next to Dean's, almost touching.
"You think – you think he remembered any of it?" Dean swallowed down the lump in his throat.
Sam shook his head. "Nope," he said. "He did the spell exactly right. Went back in time to the exact moment he left, I'm guessing. Didn't remember a thing."
"Yeah," Dean nodded, then pretended to take a deep breath to hide his sniffles. Damn hay fever, he thought doggedly as he wiped his eyes with the heels of his hands.
At least Sam had the decency to get back into the car then, giving Dean a moment to master his emotions, to get a handle on the ache in his chest at the thought of the innocent kid who'd willingly condemned himself to a horrible future, just so he could get back to the brother he loved.
Dean knew a little about that kind of devotion.
When they pulled into the River Pines Motel near Rochester, it was almost completely dark. They unloaded the car in silence, knocking shoulders and moving in sync as usual, sexual tension crackling in the air between them.
Same as it ever was, Dean muttered to himself, and when Sam threw a bemused half-smile at him, he realized he'd said it out loud.
"Talking to yourself again, old man?" Sam teased, and Dean turned swiftly and kicked the door to the room shut, backing his brother up against it roughly.
"I'll show you 'old man,' old man," Dean growled, shoving his thigh between Sam's legs as he pushed his body hard into Sam's. He slid his hands into Sam's hair and yanked his head down so he could reach his lips, feeling Sam's hands slide down his back to his ass as he pushed his tongue into Dean's mouth. Sam's tongue tangled with his. Sam's big hands squeezed the globes of Dean's ass as Sam's soft hair slipped between his fingers, and it all felt familiar yet strange at the same time. Dean was dizzy with lust, harder than he could ever remember being. When he came up for air Sam kissed a line down his jaw to his neck, kneading the muscles of his ass and back as he sucked the stubbled skin.
"Jesus fuck, Sammy. Why have we never done this before?" Dean gasped as he sucked in lungfuls of air, hyperventilation and lust making his heart pound, making the blood rush in his ears.
"We have," Sam growled and spun them around so that Dean's back was against the door. Sam grabbed Dean's wrists and held them next to his head. Then he leaned back a little when Dean tried to kiss him again.
"Need to look at you," Sam said. He was panting, chest heaving, and his eyes were blown almost solid black, like a demon's. "Need to be sure you're really my brother."
"'Course I'm your brother, you moron," Dean gasped, struggling against Sam's hold on his wrists, bucking helplessly against the solid muscle of Sam's body. "Now shut up and kiss me."
"So impatient," Sam smirked, leaning in to touch his lips to Dean's. This time his kisses were slow and sensual. Dean thought he might go mad with needing more as Sam took his sweet time kissing him thoroughly, sucking on first one lip, then the other, exploring Dean's mouth with his tongue before pulling back to suck on his lips again. When he pulled back to study his work, Dean moaned.
"Those look like my brother's lips," Sam observed speculatively. "That tongue definitely tastes like my brother's tongue."
"Damn it, Sam, cut it out!" Dean warned, struggling ineffectually, managing to rub himself against Sam's thigh so that the friction made him gasp. "Shit! I'm gonna come, you keep doin' that!"
"Can't have that. Need to make sure your dick tastes like my brother's dick first," Sam said, sliding gracefully to his knees.
"Jesus fuck!" Dean cried out as Sam's hot mouth closed over Dean's denim-covered erection. Dean threw his head back and squeezed his eyes shut in an effort to control his orgasm; it had been too long since anyone had done this for him, and the fact that it was Sam was completely blowing his mind. It was almost too much, too fast, and Dean grit his teeth and gazed down at Sam through slitted eyes, determined not to miss a single moment of something he had long ago pushed to the back of his thoughts, to the end of the long line of things he couldn't have, would never experience.
Sam's long, clever fingers made quick work of the button and zipper on his jeans before he yanked them down Dean's thighs along with his boxers so he could get to work. Dean let his hands slide into Sam's hair again, pushing the soft strands through his fingers with infinite care, almost reverence, as Sam's warm, wet mouth closed around him.
"Feels so good, Sammy," Dean murmured as Sam swallowed him down.
Sam looked up at him and Dean almost lost it. Sam's eyes were dark and hooded, and from this angle his brow, cheeks and nose seemed carved in stone, the planes so smooth and chiseled as to be inhumanly perfect, otherworldly. Sam had always seemed too good to be true. Dean had never felt that he completely deserved his beautiful little brother. He'd always held a deep and unshakeable fear that Sam would be stolen away from him one day, as if Sam was only a temporary gift. One day Sam would leave, or someone would come to claim him, reminding Dean what a fool he was for ever thinking that Sam was his to keep.
This couldn't last, he was sure of it. Sam wanting him like this, on his knees as if he worshipped Dean as much as Dean worshipped Sam, fulfilling his darkest fantasies. There had to be a catch. He would wake up and be back in that other timeline, where they were just brothers, where Sam wasn't so deeply bound that he couldn't just get up and leave.
Sam was doing things with his tongue, opening his throat expertly, telling Dean this wasn't Sam's first rodeo. Strange familiarity washed over him again, the sense of having done this before almost overwhelming. Dean canted his hips, thrusting shallowly, watching Sam's face as he breathed through his nose, tears slipping from the corners of his eyes and running down the sharp cut of his cheeks. Dean laid his hand against Sam's cheek, wiping the tears away with his thumb, feeling Sam's muscles working.
When Sam looked up at him again, eyes glittering with unshed tears, Dean lost it. Having Sam on his knees this way was hot enough, but when Sam looked up at him like Dean was his world and nothing else mattered because all Sam saw and felt and tasted was Dean... That kind of adoration from the person Dean loved most just shouldn't be possible. Even in his dreams he'd never imagined Sam like this, such submission from the big man whose faith he relied on like a shield.
Dean lost it, whiting out with the force of his orgasm because he couldn't not give Sam what he wanted. He would always give Sam whatever he wanted. He always had.
When Dean came back to consciousness, his legs were shaking. Sam rose to his feet and gathered his brother's limp body into his arms, kissing his cheeks and his nose before claiming his mouth. Dean could taste himself on Sam's tongue, the bitter, salty fluid making Sam's kiss deeper and dirtier than it had been before he had part of Dean inside him, before he let Dean know that he did.
"Sorry," Dean muttered, voice hoarse from making the embarrassing strangled cries he couldn't help making while Sam was sucking him off.
"Don't be," Sam said, his own voice a grumbling purr that made Dean's toes curl. "I love doing that to you. Love the little noises you make. Love it when you come in my mouth."
"Fuck, Sam," Dean moaned, his dick twitching uselessly. "Where did you learn to talk so dirty?"
"From you, of course," Sam chuckled, low and dark, as he kissed along Dean's jaw to his ear, sucked Dean's earlobe into his mouth, nibbled it with his sharp little teeth.
"Oh fuck, man, I'm so sorry," Dean repeated as Sam started undressing him, gently pulling off his jacket, kissing him senseless as he unbuttoned his shirt and pushed it off his shoulders. "I'm done. I don't think I can..."
"It's okay," Sam murmured, pulling Dean's T-shirt over his head, then kneeling down to unlace Dean's boots. "Just let me take care of you."
"Oh – okay," Dean agreed as Sam pulled off one boot, then the other, followed by his socks, jeans and boxers. Sam stayed on his knees for another moment, kissing a line up Dean's chest, kissing his hipbones, burying his face in Dean's belly. Dean blushed, feeling like a voyeur on his brother's private reunion ritual. Sam had missed his brother, that was obvious; getting back to him after thinking he might never have this again was intensely emotional for Sam. Finding out Dean wasn't really his brother, that this other man who looked and acted like Dean didn't have that long history of loving him in the way his brother did, well, what that must have felt like was something Dean didn't want to think about very much.
"I'm sorry," Dean whispered again, running his hand over Sam's head, returning Sam's embrace as best he could. "I know I'm not really him. I'm not like you remember."
Sam lifted his head and looked up at Dean with a tiny smile turning up the edges of his sex-swollen lips. "Yes, you are," Sam assured him. "You're him in every way that counts. I – I can feel it."
And the weird thing was, Dean could feel it, too. Whatever cosmic joke the universe was playing on them, making them spend the rest of their lives together just a little out of sync – as if! – they were still them. Even if their timelines weren't precisely aligned, their souls were as perfectly bonded as ever. Dean had a feeling the familiarity would keep hitting him, even as he discovered new ways to make his brother squirm.
And Dean really wanted to watch Sam squirm, wanted to see him come under Dean's mouth and hands as Sam had just done for Dean. He wanted to hear the sounds Sam made when he did it.
"Come on." He tugged lightly on Sam's hair and the big man lifted his head, stopped hugging Dean around the middle for a moment as he took in Dean's smirk and leaned into Dean's hand on his cheek. "Let's get you naked."
"Dean, you don't have to," Sam said, and Dean decided he officially loved the little catch in Sam's voice when he was excited. "I know this is new for you. We don't have to do anything else tonight..."
"Shut up and take your clothes off," Dean commanded, tugging on Sam's T-shirt as the younger Winchester scrambled to obey.
When Sam was as bare as the day he was born, Dean let his eyes sweep over the long limbs and hard muscles, taking in the sinewy strength of Sam's body with a new appreciation. He'd always admired Sam's powerful arms and shoulders, taking for granted that Sam was well-built and tougher than nails, tougher than Dean. He'd been lifted in those strong arms more than once, knew Sam's shapely legs were built for speed. With those long, slender fingers Sam could load a gun or sharpen a knife with remarkable dexterity and efficiency.
Sam Winchester was a bad-ass hunter whom Dean would have respected and admired even if he wasn't Dean's brother. But those big hands could be gentle, too. Dean had watched Sam soothing a freaked-out witness too many times to count, providing comfort with delicate fingers and welcoming arms that were long enough to wrap twice around grief-stricken mothers and sisters and girlfriends.
Dean knew the scars on Sam's chest and back, had bandaged and sutured the wounds that had caused them, just as Sam had done for him. Every scar was where it should be, every memory of how it got there was familiar. As Dean mapped out Sam's skin first with his eyes, then his fingers, and finally his mouth. He knew Sam was doing the same thing, remembering moments from their shared history, intimately.
Maybe a little more intimately than Dean remembered them, but probably not by much. Sex might have added a dimension of heightened awareness during times of duress and danger, but it couldn't make them much more invested in each other emotionally or physically. Sam and Dean had always been attached at the hip, as well as the heart; adding another layer of closeness was only icing on the cake.
"Did we always fuck after a hunt?" Dean asked as he slid his hand down Sam's chest, letting it rest on his hip as he took a step closer.
"Not always," Sam admitted. "But usually."
"Before or after beers?"
"Depended," Sam shrugged as Dean pushed his other hand into Sam's hair, tipping his head down so Dean could reach his mouth. "Lately, not as much."
"Quickies in my Baby are hard on the knees," Dean murmured against Sam's lips. "Better to get you someplace more comfortable."
"That's what you say, old man," Sam gasped as Dean kissed a line from his mouth down his throat. "I never knew you to turn down sex, though. Wherever we are."
"Sounds like me." Dean smiled against Sam's collarbone, pressing his face into Sam's shoulder as he slid his hand over Sam's back, exploring the strong muscles there, tracing the scars with his fingers. It pained him not to remember falling to his knees and giving head as Sam had just done for him, knowing how often it probably happened when they were both younger, how athletic their sex lives had probably been when they were in their twenties.
Not to be outdone by his younger self, by Sam's memories of the eager, desperate young man he had once been, Dean started to slide to his knees in front of Sam. He was determined to give Sam the best blow job of his life, even if Dean hadn't ever done it before. It couldn't be that hard, could it? He knew what he liked, knew how to make it good when he was on the receiving end. And Sam had obviously had plenty of experience, had pushed Dean's buttons till he was absolutely flying.
He could do that.
"Dean," Sam breathed before he could kneel down, grasping his biceps to pull him up again. "You don't have to do that."
"Yes, I do," Dean insisted, stumbling so he fell against Sam's chest. Sam held him there, moving them both toward the bed. "Gotta take care of my little brother, same as always."
"Not on the floor, you don't," Sam murmured against the side of Dean's head, kissing his temple softly. "You've got bad knees. Stop being so macho."
And when Sam lay down on the bed and spread himself out for Dean, smirking as Dean gazed at Sam's miles of tan skin, drinking him in like a glass of cool water, Dean had to admit the kid was onto something. Kneeling between Sam's long legs on the soft bed was much nicer than kneeling on the hard, dirty floor. Gazing down at the feast of sinewy muscle and warm limbs laid out for him, then following his gaze with his hands and his mouth, Dean relished the little gasps and moans Sam made, as if Dean knew exactly what he was doing and Sam was getting exactly what he wanted most.
It surprised him how familiar it felt, being with Sam this way. Dean was sure he'd never done this before; except for the few brief hand-jobs he'd given sleazy landlords for money back when he and Sam were young and alone, he'd never even considered having sex with a guy, fantasies of Jack Harper excepted.
But this was Sam, and loving Sam in all kinds of ways had always been part of Dean's fantasy life, hidden deep inside so he couldn't fuck things up between them any more than they already were. Now he regretted not finding a way to express those feelings. Now that he knew it could've happened between them long ago and everything would've been all right, or at least as all right as it ever was, Dean wished he'd made a move earlier. He wished he had a lifetime of memories of loving Sam the way Sam had.
But it was probably only fair, he decided as he kissed a trail down Sam's chest and belly to his smooth hips. It was probably just what he deserved, after being such a jerk as to leave Sam in the past, desperate and lonely and missing Dean, doing everything he could to get back to him. Dean didn't deserve to get Sam back, not after what he'd almost done to him. Dean didn't deserve to have this after that.
But it wasn't up to him. By some miracle Dean didn't even want to understand, Sam had forgiven him, or at least accepted what he'd said. Sam still wanted him, flaws and all.
Living the rest of his life not remembering twelve years of sex with the love of his life was something Dean could live with, he decided as Sam writhed and made perfect little cut-off gasping sounds beneath him. It was definitely better than he deserved.
And it definitely beat the alternative.
The next morning they drove to Niagara Falls.
"You know people used to come here for their honeymoons." Sam teased incredulously when Dean pulled off at the exit.
"What's your point, Sam?" Dean snapped. "It's on the way. We need to take in the sights more, you said so yourself."
They stood shoulder to shoulder on the observation platform, watching the water cascade over the rocky cliffs, admiring the majesty of nature and reflecting on their own small place in it.
When Sam's hand touched his, Dean almost pulled away, then allowed Sam to tangle their fingers together. What the hell? Not like anybody here knew them.
"You gave me a second chance, Dean," Sam said softly "A second chance at getting it right, with you. I won't let you down."
Dean's chest clenched and tears smarted in his eyes. For a moment he couldn't speak; he rubbed Sam's hand with his thumb and stared at the roiling water, letting the foggy mist mask the tears dampening his cheeks.
"I know you won't, Sam," he said finally, his voice choked and broken. He cleared his throat. "You always get it right in the end. It's what you do. I – I always wanted what was best for you."
"And I always wanted you," Sam said. "Maybe I didn't understand that when I was thirteen, but it's true. I get it now."
"You always had me, Sam," Dean reminded him softly, too choked up to trust himself to say more.
"I know," Sam said, squeezing Dean's hand.
The drive back to the bunker was slow and casual. The Winchesters stopped at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Big Muskie's Bucket in McConnelsville, Ohio, and the Evel Knievel Museum in Topeka. They stayed in five motels, inaugurating each one with their particular brand of honeymoon behavior. Dean got lots of sex and finally lost his gay-virginity, and Sam did his best to convince Dean that there wasn't a single thing about that other timeline that he missed. Being Dean's "first" again, after all the years of deception and betrayal and mixed messages, was a gift that Dean tried hard to receive graciously and gratefully. Sam's utter devotion, in every way possible, might have shocked Dean at first, but he had a feeling it was something he would eventually get used to.
Sam on a mission was familiar, even if the mission was being with Dean, which was still hard to believe.
"Does Mom know about us?" Dean couldn't help asking the night they returned to the bunker. They lay side-by-side in Dean's bed, warm and sated and almost asleep, and when Sam shifted wordlessly beside him, Dean wondered if he would answer. He knew he was treading on delicate ground.
"Yeah, I think so," Sam said finally. "I think it's part of why she leaves us alone so much."
"You think she's okay with it?" God, where did Dean get his nerve? Sam really brought out the confessional side of him.
"Not really," Sam admitted. "She probably feels guilty about it. Her family was all kinds of messed up, incest-wise. Intermarriage between cousins was pretty common. Lots of too-close-for-comfort relationships, born out of all that paranoia and insularity. Probably Mom thinks it's her fault we turned out this way."
"Yeah, that sounds about right," Dean agreed. He rolled onto his side and traced Sam's profile with his fingertips, amazed that he could still find something about Sam that he hadn't already obsessed about. The kid had a seriously killer profile.
"You think we can fix it?" he asked after a moment, changing the subject. He hadn't been able to ask directly if Sam preferred the other timeline, the other Dean, the one with whom he shared twelve years of memories. The one who had been Sam's lover.
Dean knew Sam understood because he took a deep breath and turned his head to look at Dean before answering.
"Do you want to?"
"Nah, I'm good," Dean said. "You?"
Sam gazed thoughtfully at Dean for several seconds, his eyes glittering in the dark. "Nah, I'm good," he agreed softly.