Characters: Sam/Dean (Slash)
Summary: Sometimes a whole lot of 'nothing' is the best way to heal.
Author's Notes (post-S2x20): My silverbullets entry for the prompt, Lazy days. Boy, you really do lose sleep trying to get these things done. Let's hope the final product doesn't show it.
After the Djinn, Dean was so worn out and edgy for the next few days that Sam did the only thing a good little brother could. He booked them a vacation.
He didn't tell Dean why he was doing it, of course. He told Dean that he was the one who needed the time off, that the visions and turning over rocks twenty-four/seven and trying not to get killed by what came out from under them was really getting to him. Dean called him 'Princess' and kidded him about needing Midol, but Sam hardly listened. He didn’t care. He'd have told the biggest hairy-ass lie necessary to get Dean to agree to a break.
The flash of relief he saw cross Dean's face when he thought Sam wasn't looking was all Sam needed to be sure he was right.
Once he agreed to the whole thing, Dean let Sam drive most of the way while he slept, which was practically unheard of. He woke up for meals and pit-stops, and commented once that there was a hell of a lot of desert on the way to wherever they were going and that Sam had better not be driving around in circles. By the time they got to the part that was forest, forest, and more forest, Dean was ready to drive again. Sam knew that was because winding roads sometimes made Dean carsick, and driving always helped.
It was mid-afternoon when they turned off onto the lake road. Dean stopped in front of the Paulina Lake Lodge.
"Not this monstrosity, please Sam—it'll be wall-to-wall yahoos and anklebiters, I swear to god."
"We're staying in a cabin," Sam said. "The ankebiters are on their own. Wait here, I'll check us in."
The cabin was just a single room with a separate bathroom, and was hardly bigger than most motel rooms they usually stayed in. But it had a fireplace and a kitchen, and it was on the lake front.
Dean dropped his duffel bag on the floor, and looked at Sam. "So, what do we do here?" he asked.
Sam grinned. "Anything we want."
They walked along the lake to stretch their legs, and Dean made obligatory complaints about mosquitoes.
"I see you chose a volcano for our vacation destination," Dean said at one point.
Sam nodded. "Very little chance of supernatural events."
"Dad would be proud."
Sam looked over at Dean, but it appeared to have been an offhand remark and not a sign of one of Dean's darker moods. He said, huskily, "Dad has no part in what I want to do to you while we're here, Dean."
Dean blinked. "Then what the hell are we doing on a nature walk?"
Sam laughed. "Wasting valuable time…"
The first time was quick and down-to-business, hard strokes and twists and bitten-off words until the two of them lay spent and breathless on the bed.
"Feels like forever since the last time," Dean said.
A whole fucking week, Sam thought, but all he said was, "Yeah."
They had dinner at the lodge that night. Dean hadn't shown that much appetite in weeks, and that was proof enough they needed to be there.
Later, with the fire lit and the moon rising through the sky outside, they tangled together slowly, the bed creaking softly beneath them. Sam watched as Dean moved over him, golden light spilling over his shoulders from behind. Then the world went sharp and intense and so goddamn good that Sam's flew shut and sparks burst up against the orange inside his head as he spilled out over his stomach, Dean's fist clenched around him. Moments later, Dean collapsed against him, face sweaty and Sam's name still on his lips.
Sam woke well after midnight, the fire gone low and the moon bright enough behind the curtains to leave the faded crisscross pattern of plaid fabric ghosting along Dean's face. He got up and added more logs to the fire, banking the embers until they caught the wood and made it burn. Dean slept through it all, bare chest glowing in the faint firelight, and even his sleeping looked more relaxed than Sam remembered seeing in a long, long time.
The next morning, Sam went over to the lodge store and bought groceries for the cabin's kitchen. Dean was in the shower when he got back, and Sam had coffee, eggs, toast, and bacon ready by the time he got out. They ate to the sound of Steller's jays squabbling outside, the soft lapping of water against the shore like a rhythm underneath.
Sam showered afterwards, and then got take-out sandwiches from the lodge restaurant and rented a boat and fishing equipment. He and Dean took turns rowing, navigating around the edge of the lake and dropping their lines along the way.
"I can't believe you brought me fishing," Dean said.
"Do you like pan-fried trout?" Sam asked. "Because really, I consider this scenic floating with a bonus. If we catch something, we've got dinner. If not, it's a really beautiful lake."
There were no motor boats on the lake that day, and apart from the water slapping the rowboat, the only sounds were distant voices and stillness broken by the occasional drone of a fly. Sam maneuvered the boat around a cove and dropped anchor. They ate their lunch, and he checked the fishing lines on and off while Dean napped. An hour later, he kicked Dean's foot to get help as he wrestled a monster of a fish into the boat.
"Jesus, is that actually a trout?" Dean said. "That thing's as big as a salmon."
Sam dumped the fish into the bottom of the boat. "That," he said, "is at least two days' worth of eating."
They turned the boat back in later, with Dean sneaking the fish off to the cabin to avoid having his and Sam's picture going up on the lodge's inevitable Fishing Wall of Fame. He cleaned the trout, cut it up, and stowed it in the fridge, and then he and Sam traded turns in the shower getting the last of the fish smell off of them.
"You can rent horses not too far from here," Sam said, as he sprawled on the bed after he and Dean had taken advantage of being naked in the middle of the afternoon.
"You want to ride horses?" Dean asked.
"Let's see how it goes. I want to check out a creek not too far from here tomorrow, with some waterfalls," Sam said.
They had fish for dinner, and Dean started reading a detective novel Sam had brought back from the lodge. Later, they lay side-by-side on the bed and watched the stars come out through the cabin window.
Sam got more take-out sandwiches in the morning, and they drove to the Paulina Creek Falls trailhead. Dean protested at the idea of hiking, but the trail was short. They sat on a rock just off the trail across from the falls and ate lunch. An hour later, Dean was still staring at the water and swinging his leg from time-to-time, a faint smile on his face like he was there but not there. Sam smiled and leaned back to rest on his hands, happy to tune out for awhile and join him.
By the time they got back to the cabin, the day was warm and comfortable. They sat on plastic deck chairs on the cabin porch, drinking cold beers.
Dean looked over at Sam at one point. "You know there's nothing to do here but eat and fuck," he said.
Sam smiled softly. "Yeah."
They spent a few more days at the cabin, finishing off the trout and Dean's book and having sex on most of the surfaces in the cabin, and once (for variety) on the hood of the Impala in a forgotten corner of the forest.
When the dark smudges under Dean's eyes faded and he was cracking corny jokes again, Sam knew it was time to get back to business and take up the hunt again. Not for himself, because he'd never be in a hurry to seek out the misery that came with finding the things that lived in the shadows. But because it was who Dean was, and it was the price of choosing Dean and everything that went with him.
They were out on the dock that night, loaded with mosquito repellent and watching the sky turn rose-purple-black on the way to an amazing display of stars. They passed Dean's flask of whiskey between them, and listened to the random, musical plop of fish jumping for food and falling back into the lake in a single, swift motion.
"So, back to the grind?" Dean asked softly.
They'd been at the cabin for days, but Sam realized that was the first Dean had even said anything about leaving. He'd probably wonder forever now if Dean still believed Sam had needed the trip for himself, and had been trying not to push him, or whether he'd been as dragged-out as he'd looked and honestly hadn't been ready himself until just then.
"Guess so," was all Sam said, reaching over and rubbing Dean's leg absently. "It was worth it, though, wasn't it?" he asked.
"Yeah," Dean said, and Sam could hear the smile in it.
He leaned over and kissed Dean under the star-filled sky, not caring who in the hell else might happen to see the two of them breaking rules they'd never promised to keep.
-------- fin -------
For atmosphere, try images of Paulina and its twin (East Lake) in this collection here