Characters: Sam/Dean (Wincest, Angsty Schmoop, First Time)
Summary: Post S2 Finale: They survived the end of the world, and there was living still to be done.
Author's Notes: Happy late birthday to particlesofgale! It took me weeks to make this one settle down, but I hope it's worth it and gives you that special feeling you deserve. Also for my spn_25 table, this one is "Love."
They drove to a motel afterward, to stay the night. Too tired to head back to Bobby's just then, too battered to make any kind of plan.
Bobby didn’t ask to double up with him and Sam, and Dean was grateful for the time alone. One person questioning his decision was plenty.
Inside the room, Sam unpacked his things like it was any other day. Dean just stopped for a moment and stared, the future he'd reversed and the one in front of him running in parallel through his head.
It would take some getting used to— the fact that Sam didn't remember any of it at all. Dean was grateful for that— he wouldn't want it any other way— but it made things awkward when so much was already awkward to begin with. This would be yet another thing they'd never really be able to discuss. Dean would carry the pain of those two godforsaken days in his heart alone.
They got out the med-kit, ready to patch each other up. Dean wanted to check every inch of Sam over, but he knew he'd have to wait. Sam wasn't bleeding, and he'd gotten thrown into a headstone. First things first.
Sam cleaned Dean's forehead, which Dean could do himself but figured he owed Sam something to balance things out. Sam's fingers checked over the wound, then moved in stages to the back, pressing lightly across Dean's skull. Mostly, there was just a large, generalized ache, until Sam hit the edge of a spot that made Dean wince.
Sam's eyes met Dean's then, close… worried. Dean couldn't look away, just remembering earlier that week when it all had seemed so hopeless and impossible. He felt helpless and lost just for a moment, like the dream was Sam being back instead of that nightmare period when he was gone.
"It's okay," Sam said softly. "Just tender— no bump," as if Dean honestly even cared about that right now.
The warmth in Sam's voice nearly undid Dean just then. Such a simple thing— so ordinary— but Dean had waited for days without hearing it, drifting through a silence that nearly destroyed him. Dean's eyes stung suddenly, and he closed them and bit his lip against the memory of it all just threatening to come back.
"Dean…" Sam began quietly, and Dean tried to turn away before he embarrassed them both, but Sam was faster. Pulling Dean close, Sam looped one arm firmly around Dean's waist while the other curved behind his back. Dean was caught, and he supposed he couldn't blame Sam, after everything. He let Sam lean into his head, let Sam rub the back of his neck while one or both of them struggled not to lose it.
"I'm here," Sam whispered— an echo of Dean's own words that horrible night.
"I know," Dean answered. He could feel the tension in Sam's shoulders, like maybe Sam was thinking about the clock running out on Dean's end instead.
Too soon to let that start.
"It's okay, Sammy," Dean reassured him, becoming the caretaker once more. It wasn't that he always liked being that person, but it was so much easier than being vulnerable. "It's your turn now," he continued gruffly, swiping a hand at his eyes and pulling back to look at Sam.
"I'm fine, Dean, really." Sam tried to smile. "It'll wait until after we clean up."
Dean rubbed his thumbs across the wetness on Sam's cheeks, holding his face for a moment— so warm under his touch, But god, don't think about that now. "You can shower first if you want."
"I'll be quick." Sam patted Dean's shoulder and slipped away.
Dean foraged around in the kit for some Advil, downing three of them with a swig of whiskey. He sat down on one of the beds, rubbing a hand over his face and taking a few more drinks while he waited.
Sam came out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist. His skin was glowing, and Dean caught himself staring— replaying what was right in front of him, as if checking to make sure it was real.
"Didn't know you were that hard up," Sam laughed, and Dean felt his face go red even though he knew Sam didn't mean it.
It was tough, being so grateful and relieved to have Sam back, when Sam didn't even remember being gone. Dean was trying to be cool about it, trying not to get clingy, but he knew Sam could still tell anyway. Dean pushed past him into the bathroom, where the shower would wash away all his stray emotions in silence.
Dean lathered up thoroughly, soaping away days of misery and grief. He went more slowly over his hair, the back of his head still touchy from the aftereffects of that headstone. The pulse of the water on his skin made rinsing the soap out uncomfortable, and he finished quickly, his head throbbing under the touch.
Drying off and brushing his teeth, he avoided the mirror. Too many thoughts waiting to stare right back at him.
In the bedroom, Sam was lying on a bed in his underwear, gazing off at the wall.
"Did I take too long?" Dean asked.
"No," Sam said. "Just feeling restless."
"Oh." Dean avoided the question of why. "Give me a second, and I'll check you over and then rub your back for awhile."
He put on boxers and a t-shirt, turning off the overhead light. Folding back the covers on
his own bed for later, he sat down next to Sam. "Head hurt? Anything hurt?"
"No," Sam said. "I'm really okay— I told you before."
Dean lifted Sam's hair away from his face, where nothing but a tiny nick lay hidden. He scanned Sam over quickly, seeing only a bruise on one arm and a scratch on the other. The scrapes across Sam's palms would heal soon.
"Okay, turn over," Dean said, admitting defeat. His need to be over-protective would have to wait.
He moved on to the massage, starting with Sam's neck and rolling his fingers across the sides under that still-damp hair. Hands down to the shoulders, he stretched them out and pulled back in toward the center, once, twice. Kneading the right side, and shifting and rolling his way down toward Sam's wrist, he couldn't help but notice that everything looked normal there too. Perfectly, impossibly normal. He repeated the sequence on the left side, listening to Sam's breathing slow to a nice, lazy rhythm.
"S'good," Sam muttered.
Dean just smiled. It'd been forever, but he hadn't lost his touch.
Across the shoulders again, and down in slow, weaving circles. Dean's fingers stopped, poised on the edge of that treacherous spot…
There. Just a wide indentation— not even a scar. The skin was flushed around it, but closed-up and healed, like the wound was weeks old already.
It looked like practically nothing, that godawful spot where Sam's life had been torn out of him and spilled out on the ground. Almost ordinary— even after everything. How could an area that small be so vulnerable that it had cost Dean his brother, right until his desperate bargain finally brought Sam back?
That patch of skin blurred under Dean's eyes.
Dean blinked rapidly, started moving his hands again like he'd never stopped. The area under his fingers was wet.
"Dean…" Sam said softly. He caught Dean's wrist, and rolled over to sit up next to him.
"Sorry," Dean mumbled, lifting his shoulder to rub his shirt across his face. "It's nothing."
"The hell it isn't," Sam said. He caught Dean's face in his hands, looking at him for the longest, most searching time.
When Sam kissed him, it was like they'd already crossed a threshold Dean didn't even know was there.
"What… what was that for?" Dean stuttered, head reeling and lips still tingling.
Sam kissed him again more firmly, thumbs rubbing over Dean's cheekbones. "Shhhhh."
That kiss was slower, the warmth of Sam's lips sinking into Dean like the answer to the question he'd set in motion at that crossroads: the deal was done and Sam was here.
The third time, Dean's hand slipped around Sam's neck and he breathed out "Sammy" like the whole world was defined by that sound.
Then he showed Sam it was true.
There were no words for why Sam let him, no words for the bargain Dean had made for Sam's life, unless it was all the same word echoed back and forth between them:
Dean kissed and touched Sam with desperate tenderness, all his relief melting into something deeper as he fell into that undreamed-of moment. Sam responded in turn, slowly pulling both of them along further— a dance of drawing Dean onto the bed, between Sam's legs, and then hard-heat-held-together passion as they dropped the final barrier and became one.
Afterward, Sam's heart thundered against Dean's face, so perfect and reassuring that the sound was far more vivid than Dean's sense of himself. That was perfect too.
Always Sam, for as far back as Dean could remember. He hadn't known that until Sam left.
"Sammy…" Dean said softly, like the word was a country and he was the traveler coming home.
"I know," Sam whispered, stroking Dean's hair peacefully. "And I know why you did it."
"No, I get it—I don't have to like it, but I understand what it means."
Sam urged Dean up closer then, kissing him like color creating the sky. Dean fell into that longed-for feeling, the hand brushing his temple all gentle confirmation.
"That's why I'm going to fix it," Sam said firmly. "For all of the exact same reasons."
For the first time ever, Dean had the love he'd always needed. It might last an hour, a day, the next year or more, but he finally had it.
So this is what it's like.
Sam was warm and real up against him, and this moment was already everything Dean could ever want. Whether or not there was a solution to his one-year timeline, he'd take an eternity in Hell for this little slice of Heaven, having Sam back with him.
Time for them both to start living again…
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