Characters: Sam/Dean (Wincest)
Summary: Early S3, Sam's tired of handling their relationship on Dean's terms.
Author's Notes: Mostly post AHBL2, and another story began ages ago that finally finished. For my spn_25 table, this is "Touch."
This is the formula, in a series of rules Sam didn't make.
A hand on his leg, stroking absently as they travel to the next nowhere in the safety of the car. Palms cupping his face against the dizziness of lost blood or a brutal blow, cradling in comfort when he's too far gone to respond to the message underneath.
For days it might be nothing, and then he's leaning into the soothing circles on his back that come in the aftermath of something too terrible to discuss. And at night, inside their unspoken secrets, it's everywhere and perfect until they're finished and Dean's a stranger all over again.
It's always on Dean's terms now, all this touching where Dean just gives what he wants but refuses to take, and Sam's not allowed to ask for anything more.
It's after Dean admits the thing he did—the trade he made for Sam and how long until it comes due—that Sam finally reaches the end of his rope. He's going to climb out of his own skin if he has to shove down one more emotion Dean doesn't want to see. He has the right to love Dean back the way he wants to, and Dean can choke on all his issues on his own time. Enough's enough.
That night in the motel, Dean comes over to check on him one last time before snapping off the light. Sam yanks him down for a kiss, off-balance and rough, and nearly gets an elbow in the gut as Dean struggles reflexively to escape.
"What was that for?" Dean sputters.
"You know exactly what it means," Sam tells him, tightening his hold, "so shut up already and take it like a man." And though he clearly finds it awkward, after a moment Dean actually does.
Hours later, Dean sleeps heavily in the other bed while his bargain churns restlessly through Sam's dreams in the too-long night. It's four a.m. when Sam admits defeat, slipping clumsily into Dean's bed and curling around his back. He's still there when morning comes.
"It's crowded," Dean mumbles into the mattress, but Sam just holds him tighter, gathering insurance against the day he's supposed to finally let Dean go.
At breakfast, Sam can hardly take his eyes off his brother—like Dean will disappear into the ether if he looks away. He remembers Dean watching him that exact same way just days ago, a hint of desperation in his expression when he thought Sam wasn't looking.
Sam knows it's on his face right now, and he buries his attention in his overcooked omelet. It's better than putting his hand on Dean's and never letting go, the way he wants to. The eggs stick in his throat.
They drive to east Cheyenne, reports already coming in of demon trouble. Sam's leaning against the window, his head stuck on Jesus, only a year when Dean pats his thigh absent-mindedly. Sam's not supposed to respond to that, but fuck it—he covers Dean's hand with his own, rubbing his thumb unevenly over the back. He feels the jerk of Dean starting to pull away, but then Dean relents. Sam holds on until he's ready to let out the breath he'd been holding against an avalanche of unshakable thoughts.
The battle with the demons goes down easy for a change, though it costs Dean a cut below his ear and Sam is exhausted when the whole thing's done. They head for a motel in silence, with Sam asleep by the time they arrive.
Morning comes too soon, its light streaking around the edges of the window and slanting across Sam's face. He wakes to an unfamiliar room and the feeling of Dean pressed against him, all warmth and elbows in the room's single bed. The previous night's a blur and Sam's still wearing the shirt he had on yesterday.
He lies there as still as he can, afraid the slightest movement will wake his brother and send them back to the denial that any hint of cuddling usually brings. Sometimes Sam longs to be sick, just so Dean will offer him the tenderness Sam so rarely sees. Dean is at his kindest when Sam needs something… and at his most distant when he's the one with needs instead.
Easing his shoulder back slightly, Sam closes his eyes to focus on the brush of Dean's breath on the back of his neck. Before long, it eases him down into sleep.
When Sam wakes again, it's to the feeling of fingers stroking him so lightly he hardly notices them at first, just that he's incredibly, achingly hard. Behind him, Dean shifts closer until his erection pushes up underneath Sam's ass. Tightening his grip, Dean works Sam's cock with slow, twisting pulls until Sam's voice grows raw with the sound of Dean's name. It takes just two more sweeps of Dean's thumb over the head until Sam is coming, his yells muffled into a pillow.
Dean's hand flows over him while the climax fades, and then Dean pulls down the back of Sam's boxers and enters him slickly, using Sam's own semen as lube. It feels good, the solid thrust of Dean running through him, and Sam always wants to come again from the intensity of it but it's just too soon. Instead, he reaches behind him and finds Dean's hip, lets his touch wander across the sleek muscles of Dean's ass while his brother wraps his arm around Sam's waist and hangs on tighter, tighter— "Yes…" Dean hisses against Sam's shoulder, spilling into him wetly as he slams all the way in, "God Sammy, yes!"
They lie there when it's over, a tangle of limbs and sweat and crumpled bedclothes. Sam shifts onto his back and Dean folds in over him, cheek pressed against the top of Sam's collarbone. These small moments when Dean catches his breath don't happen often enough. Sam hangs onto them as long as he can.
Before long, Dean starts to move around, showing signs of restlessness. "Shower?" Sam offers.
"Sure, go ahead," Dean answers.
"I meant together."
"Why not?" Sam counters. "C'mon," he says, getting to his feet and holding out a hand to pull Dean up. "I'll even let you be on the side closest to the water."
Under the wet warmth of the shower, Sam soaps over Dean's shoulders and neck, easing his hands down Dean's back and sides. Dean is strangely quiet, slow to relax at first, but he lets Sam touch him without protest. Sam steps closer, his left arm slipping around Dean and pulling him back to lean against him. He washes Dean's chest and stomach, resting his chin against the side of Dean's head as he reaches lower, careful not to rub that oversensitive area too hard. As Dean tilts his head back against Sam's shoulder, his body pliant under Sam's hands, Sam folds his arms around Dean and holds him close while the water beats down on them like a summer storm.
"Sammy—" Dean finally says, growing impatient.
Sam kisses Dean's ear, loosens his grip a little. "I'll wash your hair."
"Sam…" Dean complains.
"You can have your turn doing me— or not. Whatever you want. But right now it's my turn, so don't be a buzzkill."
Dean grumbles, but as Sam massages his head with lather he sways a little under the touch. Sam takes his time with it before releasing Dean to rinse off, and he's not really surprised when Dean slides the door open and gets out of the shower as soon as the soap is gone. That's just how Dean is.
Later, after double-washing his own hair and scrubbing his skin with the washcloth, Sam gets dressed and fires up the computer. He's able to get a wireless Internet connection, and quickly finds a string of suspicious deaths to the south of them near Greeley. It's only a few hours' drive from here, but Sam can't shake the feeling that they're getting farther behind every day. It's like trying to turn the tide.
They go to a diner around the corner, where Sam pokes at his pancakes and watches Dean out from under his bangs. His brother is quiet, unusual on a day like this with one case put to bed and the next one waiting. But it’s not the size of the task ahead that’s responsible for Dean’s mood, Sam thinks—it’s the corner Dean backed them into when he made that unholy agreement.
"Hurry up and eat," Dean says then. "We've got places to go and people to save."
And just like that, they're into the next phase of denial-as-usual.
It's two hours of road and heavy metal to Greeley. Sam spends it wanting to slide on over next to Dean and put his head on Dean's shoulder, feeling the warmth under his face while Dean drives. No part of that is going to happen—it never has. But the ache is made worse by knowing he no longer has a lifetime to try to change Dean's attitude about it.
One year, Sam thinks. One year to do everything—live everything. One year to try to unlock Dean's fate from its self-made prison.
Dean breaks Sam out of his thoughts with an offhand thwack on the arm. "Know what I was thinking, Sammy?"
"We oughta swing over toward the Four Corners after, lay in some Native American-type supplies. As long as we're here."
"Yeah," Sam says, but he's caught on the way Dean touched him just now, so casually that there was a time when neither of them would have noticed it.
Sam has tried for so long to get closer to Dean, even forcing it at times—though when that works, the closeness never lasts.
Maybe the answer isn't quite so obvious. Maybe what he really needs is to wear Dean down until he stops jumping at every little touch.
It takes Sam awhile to get a feeling for what he can push, and more importantly when. A hand on Dean's back or waist as Sam edges by him is okay, unless they're undercover. Grabbing Dean's hand in public is never good—it's already iffy in private—but brushing fingers as they pass things to one another is different. Dean doesn't notice that at all.
Sam crowds Dean's space more every day. Quietly standing close to his brother's back or side, Sam basks in the heat flowing across the hairsbreadth of space between them. If Sam smiles more frequently these days, he can't help but see that Dean is smiling too.
In moments like this, life is finally something more than just survival.
In bed, the change is subtle at first and then grows. Sam slows things down—not always, just often enough—and his hands and lips add touching and teasing along the way, driving Dean wild by keeping him on the brink for long minutes. Afterward, Sam strokes along Dean's arm and back, soothing him to sleep more often than not. Having Dean stay in bed with him all night might be the most important victory of all.
Weeks later, Dean's almost meeting Sam halfway. He's still careful in public, but his paranoia has faded—he acts like a friend instead of an adversary. In private he touches Sam more willingly, even offering an occasional kiss or an arm around Sam's shoulder.
It's amazing how different everything seems when Sam doesn't always have to beg for it.
"I'm grateful for you," Sam says one day in Waukegan when Dean's too distracted by driving in rush hour traffic to see those cringe-worthy words coming.
"I mean it. You've been there for me since the beginning, trying to make sure I had some kind of happiness no matter what else got thrown our way. I don't know how I would've come through it without you, or what I might've turned into. You made all the difference—you always have."
Dean hunches his shoulders as if that could hide his flushed cheeks, but Sam catches a hint of a smile. "Only for you, Sammy," Dean says gruffly, his eyes flickering over briefly to catch Sam's before returning to the road in front of him.
Later that night, Dean joins Sam on the bed to watch television. Shoulder-to-shoulder they lean against the headboard casual and easy, while a "Lost" marathon plays out before them.
"Bet you're loving this," Dean says after awhile.
"So what if I am," Sam grins. Neither one of them is talking about the show.
By the time the evening news comes on Dean is softly curved around Sam's arm, his head nestled against Sam's neck while his breath comes deep and even and slow. Sam's fingers curl behind Dean's ear, his thumb stroking softly over Dean's cheek. The touch is feather-light, enough to reassure Sam without the risk of waking Dean.
This is so much more than he's ever had with Dean, so hard-won and all the more bittersweet with what lies ahead when the year is done.
But Sam has only ever believed in himself, and the two of them together.
For now, things are back to making sense.
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