Category: Sam/Dean (Wincest)
Summary: (Post-S2 Finale) Who will Sam and Dean become with what waits in the year ahead?
Author's Notes: Dedicated to the lovely and patient kronette, whose birthday was late last week. This was my 60_minute_fics Anniversary Story, where I was given the Tom Petty song, "You don't have to live like a refugee" as the prompt; the story is based only on the title. Could be considered an unofficial follow-on to my earlier Healing, Body and Soul.
Fighting is what they've always done, and it's how they pick up the pieces after the showdown is over.
A lot of bad things got loose in that period when the Hellgate was open, things to be hunted down and destroyed while they have the chance. They sleep in watches. The iron railways form a binding for the demons, keeping them locked inside that area. The things that aren't demons are harder to stay on top of.
Two weeks is all Sam's willing to give it. Other priorities are calling, whispering out of Dean's deeply drawn breaths at night on the pillow next to Sam.
Family is more important than hunting—it's the oldest argument in Sam's life. And Dean is more important that anything. Sam will never be ready to give him up when that year comes due.
They spend more time close to the big cities, where Sam can get to the Internet and libraries more easily. Ash could have helped him, if he hadn't… But there's no use crying about that now. Sam reads through dubious, dusty books in back corners of libraries and used bookstores, piecing together notes and ideas from various reports. Weeding out the insightful from the insane is an unsure process; Sam hopes he's getting it right as he goes.
Bobby reports back with the latest news through his phone tree of contacts, and Missouri sets time aside to try enticing the arrival of visions. So far, nothing.
It's an uneasy situation for him and Dean. Their relationship changed—for the better, Sam thinks—when they became lovers the night of the Hellgate opening and closing. Things are softer between them sometimes, though the bite of being brothers and pushing each other too far isn't completely forgotten. But that's not what's causing this wavering now.
Dean wants to enjoy the time he has left, while Sam is desperate to stop the inevitable. Trying to balance those two impossibly different goals adds friction between them and puts Sam at war with an essential part of himself.
The sweetness of everyday living is exactly what he wants for Dean— it's what he's always wanted. So now he's still trying to encourage Dean toward that while finding his answers in secret or in snatches of time that don't cloud Dean's every waking moment. He knows the effort he's making probably isn't enough…
"Let's go to the beach for awhile, Dean."
"And do what?"
"A lot of nothing. Watch the waves, smell the air. Sleep in late every morning and have sex three times a day."
"Really?" Dean sounds surprised. "There's a ghost in Battle Mountain, and a poltergeist in Michigan…"
"We'll let Bobby know, and he'll get the word around."
The place Sam finds has a kitchenette and sofa, and the first night there he unpacks their clothes into the dresser and closet—side by side, just like the two of them.
"Why're you doing that?" Dean asks. "We hardly ever take things out of our bags, let alone hang them up."
"I've been thinking about that, though," Sam answers. "We've spent our whole lives acting like we're running from something, one motel to the next. It really doesn't have to be like that— it's okay to get comfortable where we are."
"We're not moving in here, are we?" Dean sounds aghast.
"No. We're just settling in, is all."
"Oh," Dean says. "How about breaking in the bed, then?"
Sam grins like a maniac. "Now you're talking."
They love and laze while the sky goes from amber to red to black. Dean's asleep before the moon is done rising.
Sam wakes in the early morning hours, slipping out stealthily from under Dean's arms and over to the table. The motel is Internet-ready, and he's falling behind.
His days are mixture of intensely driven research and the casual downtime he tries to put on for Dean when it's time to be "relaxing." He's often up at night, making up for those lost periods earlier in the day. He wouldn't stop himself even if he wanted to— who can sleep with that kind of worrying anyway? Sam no longer even tries.
The thing is, he really enjoys all that "nothing" time he spends with Dean. He's the first one to suggest stopping off for ice cream at a small town soda shop, or pulling off the road to climb into the backseat so they can lose themselves in each other. That's the sunlight he knows Dean's gone years and years without. Sam loves giving it and taking it in turn. Just seeing Dean smile—softly or joyfully now, instead of the sarcasm- or jerk-laden grins of the past decade—that's everything Sam ever wanted. He just never knew it would come in this package.
But sometimes when Dean's smile turns wistful, the moment shifts from beautiful to bitter and Sam feels like he suddenly just can't breathe. Those are the times when Dean's remembering that this can't last forever... and Sam can't get out from under the countdown of how little time he has left to prevent that.
Over that motel room table, the window is open to the sounds of the ocean and the soft, curling caress of the seaside air. Sam has salt lines laid along the sill for safety, and the breeze is a tempered pleasure—danger warring with enjoyment, far too much like his time now with Dean.
"What're you doing?" Dean's voice rasps from the bed, where his skin gleams blue in the glow from the laptop screen.
"Just checking some stuff," Sam says. "I couldn't sleep."
"You never do, anymore." Dean rolls up off the bed and comes over to stand next to Sam.
"I—just—this is important, Dean. I have to find it." Sam can't keep the emotion from straining through his tone.
"I know it is," Dean says quietly, his hand rubbing over Sam's shoulder as he leans in closer. "But I'll be fine with it if you don't." He kisses Sam's hair.
"No really, Sam. I mean it." Dean pulls the other chair around and sits knee-to-knee. "A year is pretty good, and I've gotten so much more from it than I expected with you already."
"But…" Sam begins helplessly.
Dean stops Sam's words with his fingers, leaning in to kiss him with warm, gentle lips. "I know how much you love me—I really know it, more than I ever did before. And I wouldn't trade this for anything. You shouldn't either. Stop running from the clock and start living in what we've got."
"I'm not sure I can do that, Dean," Sam says honestly.
"Maybe not, but I want you to try. This time is what we've got, no matter what happens. Let's be in it while we can..."
Dean pulls Sam back to the bed, all stroking hands and urgent mouth against Sam's skin.
The air brushes over them silently with sea-salt softness as they sigh and moan together. Sam loves Dean with every rough-tender feeling in his body, while his thoughts speak their own refrain:
I won't give you up that easily. I never could.
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