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Monday, January 11th, 2010 08:59 pm
It was only hours later when he woke up; he could feel it in his bones how long he’d slept. It would have been nice to have slept through to the dawn, but his stomach was punching the insides of him and his leg felt hard and angry.

“Dean?” he asked, trying to sit up in the darkness. His elbow smacked into something.

“I’m up now,” said Dean.

Sam could feel his brother stirring. Feel the ease of Dean’s body against the mattress next to his and made himself think of something else. Dean turned on the bedside lamp with a click.

“Got blood on the sheets.”

Sam tuned to look and then scooted out of the way, sitting all the up, his arms behind him. Yeah, it was his leg this time, swollen with something that was making his leg hard to move. And he’d been bleeding again. There was a blob-shaped stain near the bottom of the bed.

“What’d you do?” Dean’s voice rose. He reached down to tug on Sam’s pants.

Sam kept his wince to himself.

“You got somethin’ here—” Now Dean was sitting all the way up, using two hands to roll Sam’s pantleg up. One of those hands, those kind, brotherly hands, jammed hard against his calf and Sam heard himself hissing.

“You can stop now,” said Sam. He pulled his legs off the bed and stood up. “I’ll take care of it myself.”

Dean, stripped to his boxers and t-shirt, was staring at him. “You can’t reach that.”

“Watch me,” he said. He was going to make a run for the bathroom, thinking at the same time how stupid it was. He needed Dean’s help; he couldn’t reach around his own leg to see clearly. But he didn’t want—he didn’t want Dean breathing on him like that. Not now. Not after the Grand Canyon.

But Dean, sharper on less sleep than Sam would ever be, was in front of him blocking the way to the bathroom, turning on the bathroom light before Sam could even move.

“What’s up with you?’ asked Dean. He staggered a bit on his leg, but faked it with a lean against the doorjamb. “Sit on the john, sit on the tub, I don’t care. Let me look at it.”

Sam hesitated, his mind doing a fantastic job of conjuring up images that simply should not be conjured up. Dean staggering through the dark forest, Dean’s legs splayed across the pale rocks, thighs wide, the bottle of mead held tightly in his fist. Looking at Sam as he toasted the moon. Sam felt himself starting to sweat in spite of the good coolness of the room, in spite of the overhead blades circling around, keeping the air moving with the ease of the ocean.

“Sammy, don’t fuck around. Just go and sit down. I’m too hungry for this.”

Sam did as he was told. Dean was right. There was no point; to prolong it would only make it worse. He went to sit on the edge of the tub so that Dean could use the closed john as a table. As he settled himself down and gripped the edge of the tub for leverage, Dean brought over the first aid kit. It used to be the plastic box that was sold in stores. But that had gotten smashed somehow, perhaps by them throwing their gear in all the time. So now, it was in a wooden box with a lid on hinges. A bit cumbersome, but the wood tended to hold up pretty well and so there it was. Dean set it down with a clunk.

“What is it?” Dean asked, parking his backside on the floor, folding one leg towards him and stretching the other one out. That leg was stiff, Sam noticed, though, true to Dean’s nature, he ignored this and reached for Sam.

“Thorns,” said Sam. “Prickly pear, I think.”

“Trust you,” said Dean. He lifted Sam’s leg and rolled the denim back. “Shit, this has got pus in it; why did you wait?” He pressed the area a little with his thumb.

Sam ducked his head. The answer to him, at least, was obvious. Dean had needed him, so his own needs came second. He looked up through his bangs, and through half-closed eyes watched Dean’s nimble fingers take out the tweezers and yank out the first of the thorns.

“Quit being brave,” muttered Dean, swabbing the area with rubbing alcohol, “’cause I know for a fact this hurts like a bitch.”

“Yeah,” said Sam, allowing that much; to do otherwise would be to draw Dean’s attention to him more than it already was. “I couldn’t see the angle they went in at, so—”

“That’s what big brothers are for,” said Dean, giving the second spine a yank. Sam felt as though someone was drawing a red hot poker out of him. “But this last one,” said Dean, prodding at it with his thumb, “hey, I might have to dig, right?”

Sam gripped the edge of the tub harder, his fingers turning white against the porcelain. “Go ‘head,” he said, his voice low.

Dean dug. Sam didn’t know whether it was the feel of the sharp first aid knife slicing in his skin, the sharp, metallic poke of the tweezers, or the fact that Dean’s head was bent so close it stirred the hairs on the back of Sam’s calf. As there was the sound of ripping flesh, Sam bent forward to bury his head against his knees, decided it was a tie. He whispered owowowow against the edge of his kneecaps and felt himself grow hot all over.

“You okay, Sammy?” asked Dean, his hand cupping Sam’s unwounded calf. Though those hands could be so hard, kill so quickly, his fingers were soft, curving, and Sam felt the contrast.  He pulled his leg away.

“Alcohol,” said Dean, warning just the second before he splashed some on the holes in Sam’s leg that he knew were still oozing. It felt like fire, like someone was shoving something hot into his leg, and then pulling it out again.

“Hey,” said Dean, “maybe some aloe vera, huh?”

“No,” said Sam lifting his head, shocked to find Dean’s eyes level with his. “That’s for you.”

“Quit being a martyr,” said Dean. He pulled out the aloe vera and slathered it on. Sam did not know if it really helped or not, he imagined that it couldn’t hurt anything, but it was Dean’s hands on his legs that sent him shivering.

“Alright?” asked Dean, the furrow in his brow telling Sam that soon Dean was going to realize that there was something far more amiss than the gouges left by some errant prickly pear thorns.

“Yeah,” said Sam. “I don’t think I need a bandage, so—”

“Sit, idiot,” said Dean. He slapped on a bandage, and then gave Sam’s leg a pat. “Now you can get up and we can go eat.”

As Sam stood up, his knees wanted him only to sit down again, so he strode past Dean, and went to his bag for clean socks. He felt Dean following close behind, doing he same, getting a clean shirt, socks. It was like it always was, the ritual of getting ready for dinner in a public place. The changing of clothes so that no one’s eyes would catch what they’d just been doing. Not that there weren’t some who wouldn’t like to hear about the chase, the hunt, the kill. Sam didn’t want to know any of those people, nor, he suspected, did Dean.

“Think there was a diner down the road,” said Dean.

Sam made himself nod, and pretended to think about this instead of—
 
“But how we gonna get there? It’s at least five miles.”

Now Sam had to think, and it was good to have a reason not to think about the thing he should not be thinking about, and the fact that Dean wasn’t in shape to be walking that far. And not to think about the thing he had been thinking about. Dean’s mouth and breath and touch—

“Cab?” he said.

“Out here?’ Dean blew air through his lips in disbelief. Sam made himself not watch. It was going to get ridiculous quite soon if he couldn’t control all these stray thoughts.

“Maybe the clerk knows,” said Sam, taking the key and walking out of the room, leaving it to Dean to follow or not, and, if he followed, to make sure he had his wallet on him.

The clerk indeed did know someone who could drive them for a fee, her cousin Martin, who happily came to fetch them in his Vega station wagon and take them to Estella’s Mexican Café, which was at least ten miles past the diner. He assured them both that Estella’s food was not to be missed, and besides, they could catch the diner at breakfast.

Martin took ten bucks from Dean as he dropped them off and told them if when Estrella called his house and he wasn’t there that his sister would come at get them, if it wasn’t too late. By the time Sam had thought of an answer to this, Martin and his Vega had sped off, leaving them tasting dust in their mouths, and, a second later, in the canvas awning, the sizzling smells of refried beans, roasted corn, and garlic.

Sam wondered, as they walked in through the plywood door, at Dean’s lack of comment over Martin’s heap of crap car, or the fact that Dean had let himself be driven. Or even at his patience while they waited to be seated. He knew they were both starving, could almost hear Dean’s stomach’s growls over the screams of his own. Almost. He put a hand on his stomach to try and keep it quiet and saw Dean’s eyes track the movement.

“Just don’t eat my arm, okay, Sammy?”

Sam gave him an eyeroll in response and shifted his weight to his other leg. If they didn’t get seated and he didn’t get some of those corn tortillas and salsa in plastic bowls everyone else was digging into, he just might eat Dean’s arm. Then his mind started to wander and he made himself stop.

They were seated not two minutes later, at a booth that had opened up along the windows. It was dark outside except for the single light pole in the dirt-covered parking lot. Sam thought he might be feeling some coolness come in through the windowglass and concentrated on his menu. Better that than looking at Dean and showing what was on his mind. Hadn’t he already objected to Sam touching him? And why did Sam need this, this thing? The ceremony on the rocks outside of the Grand Canyon was meant to be a one time thing and he’d honestly thought only—

Dean was snapping his fingers in front of Sam’s face.

“She wants to know if you want a beer,” he said.

“Uh.” Sam looked up into the face of the waitress, who had the most amazingly black hair, and the longest braid he’d ever seen. “I’ll have…whatever.” His hands reached for where the beer menu should be but Dean snorted and pointed to the chalkboard over the side of the bar.

“Two coronas, please,” he said. “With lime.”

The waitress nodded and went away. Dean slapped his menu closed and looked at Sam.

“You spacin’ out there, buddy. You gotta watch that or I’ll start to worry.”

This was not a threat, or a joke. It was a promise and Dean was already looking hard at him. Brow furrowed, his eyes darkening just enough to let Sam know he was serious.

Sam put his menu down and spread his hands over its open pages. It was basically a hand printed menu heatsealed between two plastic sheets and then attached to another sheet by a ratty piece of yarn.. There were the standard items that always appeared on a Tex-Mex menu; both he and Dean knew such menus by heart. “I’m just hungry,” he said. “And tired, the heat, well, you know me and heat.”

“Yeah, I do,” said Dean. “Look, Sammy, if you’re hot we can go—”

“No,” said Sam, able to laugh a little bit. “Remember the last time we went north to get out of the heat?”

“Yeah,” said Dean, apparently distracted. “We almost f’d that one up, huh?”

“But the beer wasn’t as good as this,” said Sam as the waitress set two bottles down. Sam took his lime and squished it in and then licked his fingers, thinking about margarita salt and then caught Dean’s eyes on him. Watching as if he felt like he shouldn’t be. Then he turned his head away.

“I’ll have the number one,” Dean said to the waitress. “And with extra guac and sour cream on the side, okay?”

She wrote this down and then turned to Sam. Sam had been intending to order the same thing, but the rule was that each of them ordered something different, so the other one could have a taste. Maybe it was only a guideline, but Sam didn’t want to test it.

“I’ll have—I’ll have the beef fajitas,” he said. “And yeah, no tomatoes, or peppers, just lots and lots of onions.”

She wrote this down and moved to the next table, asking if they wanted their ice teas filled. Out of the corner of his eyes, Sam saw Dean’s mouth moving, and knew exactly what his brother was doing before he looked.

Dean lifted his bottle of beer to his mouth, and in a stage whisper said, hissing, “Fa-JI-tas.” Only he rhymed it with an intimate part of the female anatomy, his eyes sparking with glee, knowing he’d pissed Sam off when he said it. As he did every time.

Sam kicked him under the table. “Why do you have to do that?” he asked. “It’s obscene.”

Dean kicked him back. “You’re the one who keeps ordering it,” he said. “You want me to stop, order something else.”

Both of them knew fajitas were Sam’s favorite and nothing would stop him from ordering them. He gave Dean another kick on his good leg and then concentrated on the bowl of chips and salsa that had just been delivered. The chips were right out of the fryer, greasy and salty and hot all at once; the salsa smoky and smooth with bites of pepper and onions. He picked around the peppers, letting Dean have those, and even left him some of the onions. The bowl of chips was gone in two minutes.

“Well,” said Dean, tipping the bowl to him to get at the crumbs, “at least my arm is now safe.”

“Let’s get more beer,” said Sam, raising his hand and concentrating on getting their waitress’s attention. Rather that than the fleeting idea that if Dean’s arm was safe from Sam’s hunger, the rest of him was not. He wanted to kick himself for thinking even that much, and practically stood up to get noticed so that the waitress would come over and bring them something. Anything, to distract him from the rattle in his brain.

“You alright, Sam?”

Sam made himself sit down and put both hands on the table. “I’m just—I’m just starving, okay?”

“Okay.” This was all Dean said, but the tone in his voice was dubious.

Sam got lucky. The waitress and a helper brought over the mounds of food they had ordered, and as soon as the plates hit the table, they both began to eat. It was quite some time before Dean even asked Sam to pass the salt. Someone brought them two more beers and more chips and salsa, and the rise in Dean’s eyebrows as he chewed, cheeks bulging, told Sam that they’d be leaving an awfully big tip. They’d run out of cash before too long, but that was okay. They could always get more.

*

Martin’s, sister, Lucilla, ended up picking them up in a red pickup truck. She was only about sixteen, and though a slip of a thing, didn’t seem at all concerned about driving five miles through dark valley bottom land with two strange men in her truck. And she didn’t take up with idle chatter either, just asked them how was the food and left it at that when they answered her that it had been great. Sam found the silence in the cab comfortable, and that, along with the now cool air rushing in the open windows, let him relax.

He stretched his long legs as far forward as they would go and looked up at the stars in the darkness and thought about pine tress and dirt roads wending their way through, and of deep canyons older than memory. His thigh rubbed against Dean’s thigh every time the truck rumbled over a bump. That was okay. It was okay. It was easy and sleepy, and his shoulders settled back on the seat; he could feel Dean’s shoulder against his. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Dean tipping his head back, and allowed himself a smile at the thought of Dean being tired enough not to protest the fact that some whippersnapper girl was giving him a lift. Though, in the back of his mind, Sam suspected the girl might have hunter tendencies and knew how to take care of herself, if it came to that.

When she got to the motel, she didn’t want to take the ten, but Dean made her. It was only right, after all, and in the end, seemed pleased to have helped them out. Sam gave her a small wave as she pulled out of the parking lot and then inhaled the damp and dark green air coming off the river bottom. What a difference a few miles and a little water could make.

“Need some time alone, Sammy?” asked Dean.

“What?” Sam turned to his brother, who was flipping the key around his finger.

“You and the night here,” Dean replied, jerking his chin up at the stars. “You’re all sappy eyed an’ breathin’ funny. Thought you might want to be—”

“It’s just nice to be cool for once, you jerk,” said Sam.

Dean laughed, the spark in his eye telling Sam that older brother was giving him the business because he knew he could. That made Sam smile in spite of himself, grateful that the stupid fucking deal with the demon hadn’t changed everything.

But it had changed enough. Enough so that Sam knew that without his brother to hold him to the earth, he would float away. That’s it. At the end of the year, with Dean gone because the hellhounds had taken him, he, Sammy, would wither away into ash and float away on the wind. Never to be seen again.

These disturbing thoughts were broken by the slam of Dean’s hand on his shoulder.

“M’goin’ in,” he said, walking towards their motel room door. Then he stopped, and in the starlight and the parking lot lights, Sam could see his brother’s face. Concerned, tired, distracted all at once. “It’s late,” Dean said. “You’re tired. Sleep now.”

That was Dean. It was you’re tired, not I’m tired, as if nothing else mattered in the world but Sam. And if Sam told Dean what he really needed, wanted, what then?

He didn’t want to float away. He really didn’t.

When he got to the room, Dean had already shucked most of his clothes and was sitting on the edge of the bed in his boxers and t-shirt. And socks, oddly. He was rubbing his thigh, looking up as Sam came in and closed and locked the door.

“What’s up?” asked Sam. He came closer, and saw that Dean was rubbing right over the chubacapra marks.

“Feels raw,” said Dean, the layer of frustration underneath telling Sam how Dean didn’t want to be drawing attention to himself. “Like I rubbed it wrong.”

“Walked around too much, is more like,” said Sam. “Shit. I shoulda kept you still. Made you heal.”

“It is healed,” said Dean with a snap, pushing away Sam’s hands as they reached out. “It’s fine.”

The fan purred overhead as Sam straightened up. “Liar,” he said. “Let me just take a look at it, okay?”

Dean glowered at him.

“Dean,” he said, making himself look stern.

“Aw, jeezus, okay. Okay, okay? Just don’t, don’t fuss.”

“Deal,” said Sam, heeling off his sneakers and throwing open the first aid box. He dug around for the aloe vera and bandages and leg wraps. Dad’s journal said not to cover the wound while it was healing, but hadn’t said anything about after it had healed. Sam was willing to bet that Dean had moved around too much, rubbed the skin with the fabric of his blue jeans. Done too much, in typical Winchester fashion, before he was ready to.

He dumped the items next to Dean’s feet, and knelt down.

“This is gonna hurt,” he said, pretending to frown. Of course it wasn’t.

“Jerk,” said Dean.

“Bitch,” Sam returned.

When his fingers touched Dean’s leg over the long, white marks, it felt hot. He cupped his palms around Dean’s thigh along the bottom edge of Dean’s boxers to test the skin there, ignoring Dean’s jump, feeling the coolness move into silky heat nearer the area of the wound.

“You’re fussing,” said Dean from above him. Sam didn’t let himself raise his head.

“Gonna treat this and wrap it, and maybe, just maybe you could consider staying off it for one day?”

Now he had to look up because Dean wasn’t saying anything. His face was still and he seemed to be looking at a spot over Sam’s shoulder. Thinking. Eyes half shuttered. There was an argument on Sam’s lips, ready to be delivered. Rest up, one day, what’s it gonna matter? They moved around enough as it was already. And no hunt was worth pressing a wounded leg, not when you might need that leg to get you out of a tight spot. Sam opened his mouth.

“Okay,” said Dean. “One day. My car will be ready tomorrow, this’ll give ‘em time to do whatever they need to do to fix whatever it was that you broke.”

Sam wanted to make a joke out of it, but he knew better than to try. The Impala was sacred territory, so he merely dipped his head and got out the aloe vera to slather over Dean’s thigh. It was cool and slippery and then it was warm and slippery, and Dean sighed as Sam did this and Sam made himself think of something else.

“Hey,” he said. “Maybe the breakfast place’ll have migas on the menu.”

Dean swallowed as he salivated. “Migas,” he said. “But they won’t be as good as yours anyhow.”

This made Sam smile, and he nodded. Then he placed a soft, clean square of bandage over the scars, and taped it down. Then he wound the leg bandage around and secured it with the little tabs.

“The tape on the bandage should hold, just don’t scratch,” said Sam.

“Just don’t scratch, he says,” said Dean, scooting himself back across the bed till he was resting against the headboard. “Can I have a soda?” he asked as he peeled off his socks, rolled them, and tossed them near his shoes.

Sam jingled the change in his pocket, and nodded, and went out the door to trot under the awning to where the ice and vending machines were. He walked back, a cold can of soda sweating in one hand, and one icing up his hipbone in his pocket. When he got back to the room, with a crack and a snap he opened the can, ignoring Dean rolling his eyes at the way Sam was babying him. He stood there next to the bed and handed Dean his can and stayed near to drink his own, in huge gulps, sighing as he finished it.

“This is the coolest I’ve been in days,” he said, waiting to take Dean’s empty can away. “I don’t know, it’s just that the heat and I are not friends.”

“I’ll say,” said Dean. Then he looked up at Sam as he handed the can over. “You going to tell me what’s going on with you?”

“What?” Sam asked. He walked away, taking the cans into the bathroom to throw them away. Then he came out. “What?”

“What’s going on with you. All these sighs, and that right there.” Dean pointed to Sam and then pointed to his own forehead. “All wrinkled up. This better not be about the deal, ‘cause I don’t want to hear it.”

Sam felt his surprise before he could keep it from his face. Yes it was about the deal, but not in the way Dean thought. The deal, in and of itself was enough to make him go stark raving mad with worry, but it was the other thing, the Grand Canyon thing, the fairy lights, Dean and him in the woods under the moon

“Yeah, there’s something,” Dean said, watching Sam. “What is it?”

“There’s nothing,” said Sam. “Just—just nothing.”

Dean eased himself forward to the edge of the bed, wincing a bit, taking half the counterpane with him. Sam walked past him, intending to get to his duffle and pull out a clean shirt to wear that didn’t smell of grease and salsa, when Dean snaked him with his good leg, and tumbled him on the bed. It was a wrestling match from the start, and it made the blood behind Sam’s eyes start to boil.

“Quit it you dumb moron, you’ll fuck up your leg!”

“Then let me win,” said Dean, slamming his good thigh on top of Sam’s and slipping up to cover Sam’s body with his own. “Just let me win and tell me what the fuck is going on and I’ll let you say uncle.”

There was the weight of Dean’s body and the heat of it and his breath so close, lacing across Sam’s face, and Sam shuddered as he put his hands against Dean’s shoulders and pitched him backwards. Enough so that he could slip off the bed and move as far away as the motel room’s walls would let him. Dean sat half up, supported on his arms behind him, legs tangled in the blankets. The fan whirled overhead, silent, casting a breeze that slipped against Sam’s skin, making him feel cold.

“Fuck, Sam,” said Dean, standing, his bandaged leg unsteady beneath him. “Something’s messed you up, you going to tell me what it is, or do I have to beat it out of you?”

Dean moved fast, bad leg or no, the room wasn’t very big anyway, and there he was. Inches from Sam, his eyes hard-edged and serious. No longer engaged in a friendly sparring match to tease his little brother out of a bad mood. No, he wanted to know, and he wanted to know now.

Sam shook his head.

“Sam.” This came out furious.

Sam could feel his brow furrowing, and his mouth working, and knew that these were telegraphing messages to Dean that his brother would want translated. Right away, if not sooner. He swallowed, tried to look away, tried to pretend that it was something else, that the salsa was burning a whole in his stomach, or perhaps he had something in his eye.

“Sam.” Now it came out gentle, softer than before, and as Sam skated a glance across his brother’s face, Dean’s concern hit him. He needed to make up something, and quickly. too.

“I’m really upset about—” and here he stopped. There were hundreds of things he could pick from, starting with starving and abused children, to the lack of reliable public transportation, to—shit, he had nothing.

“Sammy, you’re shaking from head to toe, you going to tell me why?” Dean’s voice lowered to almost a whisper, softest of all, and that look on his face, hard as Sam tried not to see it, the openness of his face, the pout of his mouth turning into a frown.

“I’m cold,” said Sam, his voice coming out thick as if maybe, indeed, he was coming down with something.

“You cold?” asked Dean, moving in closer, hands coming up to rub Sam’s arms as if that alone could cure him. “Maybe you caught something, maybe you—”

Dean’s hands were warm on Sam’s bare skin, they were warm and he was close and if he took a step closer he’d be pressing Sam into the wall. Pressing against him, hard, solid, just like he had in the woods that night, with the Grand Canyon a black chasm in one direction, and the vast, moon-drenched sky in the other. He’d never felt so safe as he had in that moment, Dean pressing him down, keeping him to earth, his brother’s mouth kissing him, helping to keep him in one place. He could hardly think to himself beyond that, beyond to the blackness where Dean would be gone and the only thing keeping Sam alive would be the memory of the way Dean had stayed his fears.

“Sam?” This was drawn out in Dean’s most quiet voice, each second of it humming with all the questions that could be packed into the name, the way Dean said it.

“Sam,” said Dean, as he cocked his head so he could look up in to Sam’s face. “Tell me.”

Sam had his gaze firmly on the floor between their bare feet.

“Please, Sam?”

This got him, the catch in Dean’s voice as he said please, and the way he said Sam’s name, and the way Dean’s hands encircled Sam’s forearms, and gave them a little tug, as if to finish off everything else it was that Dean wasn’t saying.

Sam nodded, still looking down, hair in his eyes, seeing Dean’s hands on his arms, feeling the jagged hardness in his throat. He swallowed, and then swallowed again. “Oh, moon,” he said, feeling it come out like a breathy and broken sigh. “Oh, moon.”

There was a pause.

“Oh, moon?”

Sam flicked his gaze up to catch his brother’s eyes. So close and dark green, like polished stones from the bottom of a river. Lashes curving up to his brow as it pulled into a frown. Sam could feel Dean’s breath against his chest, the thump of his heartbeat as his fingers circled Sam’s wrists. And knew that this was the most selfish of things to want, let alone ask for, that he could never ask, but that he’d painted himself into a corner, where Dean would never let him rest.

But they had less than a year now, together, so was there really the luxury of time for him not to say what he wanted to say? Not to ask for what he wanted to ask? Knowing that Dean never had and never would deny him anything?

“We were under the moon,” he said, quickly so that Dean wouldn’t have to ask again. “We were under the moon, and I saw your lights, and I wanted to stay—I wanted—I want—”

“You want to stay there?” asked Dean. Sam could hear the puzzled lift of the question. “You want to stay here?”

“No,” Sam shook his head, feeling like he was gasping for breath. It didn’t matter where they were, the moon would always follow them, and Dean’s lights, though normally out of sight, hidden, would always be there. Wherever they were, as long as they were together. He lifted his hands, almost without thinking, breaking Dean’s grasp on him, settling the tips of his fingers against Dean’s bare chest. The skin prickled to life.

He had to say it. Or it would never be said. “I want to see your lights, Dean. I want to be inside of your lights.”

It was spoken now, by a voice as flat as the desert, as dry, as lifeless. But he looked at Dean, lifted his head, not wanting to shy away, not wanting Dean to see it for anything else other than it was, a request for something that should not be wanted.

The furrow across Dean’s forehead told him that the idea of it, what the lights meant, where they’d been under the moon, what they’d done there, worked its way through Dean. What Sam wanted now. He watched Dean’s face smooth itself out, and then tense itself back up, as if Sam had told him something he should, by rights, already know.

“Please.” Sam felt hot all over, all of a sudden, every cold part of him washed with it, as if the warmth of Dean’s skin under his fingers had spread to every pore.

There was a moment there that was very still between them. Almost suspended between them as Dean looked down at Sam’s hands upon his chest, at the tile floor, his gaze as it seemed to take in the bed behind them. Then he looked up at Sam, eyes wide and dark. Nodding.

“I’m gonna,” said Dean, swallowing. “I’m gonna need to turn out the lights.”

Then, without waiting for Sam’s response, he did this, reaching up a hand to flick off the lights, setting them in darkness, in the stillness, with only the soft spin of the fan overhead.

Sam found his mind going blank, his mouth opening up without any words to keep him going, and felt a small tug on the back of his sleeve.

Dean. Pulling him there, giving Sam’s body the impression that this was just an ordinary getting into bed moment, pushing him down onto the mattress, giving him a shove to make room.

“So,” said Dean, slipping beside Sam, rustling around with something, most likely a pillow to put under his head, “you gonna respect me in the morning, then, Sammy?”

“Jerk,” said Sam.

“Bitch,” said Dean.

With a hard thump of his heart, Sam pulled Dean on top of him, sighing as Dean’s body pushed him into the mattress, as Dean’s arms came down on either side of his head. It felt odd for a moment, the length of dense thigh against his own, Dean’s breath on his face, the slight sensation that Dean was laughing at him. But it felt good to be held to the earth like this.

“Don’t laugh, Dean,” said Sam, low.

“I’m not.”

“And don’t move either. Wanna fall asleep like this.”

“Just like this? Nothing else?”

Sam felt his eyes open wide, looking for something that he knew he couldn’t see in the dark. He wanted everything. He wanted to pull Dean inside of him, wanted to push into Dean, wanted to wrap himself around every inch of his brother’s skin, and wanted to disappear forever inside of it. His arms tightened and he pulled Dean down, down to where his lips brushed Dean’s lips, and he felt that breath, the ghost of a curve of a smile.

“Everything else,” he whispered into Dean’s ear, “everything.”

He realized his voice was shaking, that his eyes felt hot, and that his stomach felt like someone was pounding lead into it.

“I mean,” he said, whispering, “it’s okay if you don’t, we can—” Then he stopped to swallow, holding Dean’s face in his hands, in the darkness, feeling the line of Dean’s jaw, the ripple of muscle as Dean grit his teeth. “I don’t want to loose you. I don’t want to watch—” Here he made himself stop, turning his head away for one second to take a deep breath, feeling Dean’s heart pounding against his ribs and Sam’s at the same time. He looked up at where Dean’s shape was. “I’m so scared, Dean, I’m so scared, I don’t want you to go and when you do, I’m going to float away, just float away, and—”

Then Dean pressed down and kissed him. Soft, almost sweet at first, tender-mouthed, lips brushing his. And then Dean turned open-mouthed and hungry, letting Sam taste him, tasting back. When he pulled back, his breath sounded like it was tearing. “Sammy, Sam, Sam,” he said, choking. His hands were on Sam, tucking themselves behind Sam’s skull, holding on hard, each fingertip pressing in as if he knew what Sam needed. His forehead pressed against Sam’s, chest against chest, hip to hip, thigh to thigh. Sam shifted, he was hard now, the seam of his pants now too tight, cock aching as if it too wanted to be pressed hard. Dean kissed him again, this time with soft lips and a gentle nibbling that made the back of Sam’s spine curl up and then stretch out.

“Clothes,” he said, sighing against Dean’s mouth, and with a quick dip of his shoulder, Dean shimmied out of his boxers. Sam knew this because his hands slipped down to the bare curve of Dean’s backside, cool and shivering now.

“How’s that?” asked Dean, whispering against Sam’s face. “Fast, huh?”

“I meant mine,” said Sam, barely able to speak. “And don’t make this a joke.”

“I’m not makin’ it a joke,” said Dean, tugging at the hem of Sam’s t-shirt

Dean tipped himself off of Sam for as long as it took to shift Sam’s t-shirt over his head, with Sam stretching his arms as long as they would go. “Besides, girls dig my crazy patter.”

“Don’t let’s talk about girls, okay?” Sam almost couldn’t get the words out as Dean was on top of him again, their chests skin to skin now, heartbeats pounding, smelling Dean’s sweat, Ivory soap, lime from the beers, and salt.

“Okay,” said Dean, sounding as breathless as Sam felt. “But that’s a lot of don’ts, Sammy, is there anything left that I can do?”

“Anything,” said Sam, trying to make his arms move down to the waistband of his jeans, to get at the button, so he could get the damn things off and feel Dean’s bare legs against his own. “Just—anything.”

“Here,” said Dean. “Let me.”

Sam let his arms fall at his sides, felt Dean shift on top of him, felt thighs folding against his as Dean settled on top of him. He reached out to cup Dean’s bent knees, curled his fingers in the tender crease behind, and felt Dean’s hands on his stomach. Heard the pop as the top button was released, felt the zipper go down, felt Dean’s palm slip inside his boxers, curling around his cock, slow, tender.

“Hot,” Dean said. “Like mine.”

“Get these off me, Dean,” said Sam. “Don’t make me beg.”

“Nope, won’t,” said Dean. It felt like he uncurled himself from Sam’s body and Sam could feel him tugging, felt the jeans sliding off him, and the boxers too, till he could feel the spin of the ceiling fan across his whole skin. Then Dean slipped on top of him again, skin to skin, shivering as their hips met, as Sam was shivering, as their cocks met, hot, and Sam wrapped Dean up in his arms, pulling him close and hard.

“Is this goin’ to hold you down, Sammy?” asked Dean, and Sam nodded, though Dean couldn’t possibly see him in the dark.

He felt Dean’s shoulder shift down, and loosened his hold. Felt Dean’s hand move between their bodies, reaching for Sam’s cock, pressing it in his hand, pressing it against his own. “And this?”

“Yeah,” said Sam, “that. You.” He took his hand down and reached between them to cup them both with his palm. Felt the soft skin of Dean’s balls melting into his own, tightened his hand, and felt Dean jump.

“Jesus Christ, Sam,” said Dean against his mouth, opening to kiss him, to lick him with his tongue, to swallow into Sam. And Sam answered in kind, kissing back, his fingers between them, stroking them, the back of his palm against the inside of Dean’s thigh, his chest hammering, smelling his own sweat, salty like he’d been running.

Dean breathed against his neck, moving his hand, stroking them both, getting slick, his palm slipping, just when Sam wanted it hard and fast. He tipped into Dean, spilling him off so they lay facing on their sides, foreheads meeting, his hand moving up from between Dean’s legs to cover Dean’s cock. To push and slide with Dean, hand over hand, something zipping up his spine, and racing down his chest.

“Fuck, Sam,” said Dean, mouth feeling dry as it pressed against Sam’s cheek. “Fuck.”

“I’m gonna, it’s—” said Sam, barely able to breathe. “Do it hard.”

Dean’s answer was a grunt, his hand beneath Sam’s moving faster, his hips pressing forward into it, into Sam. Sam could taste the sweat on his forehead.

“Now—” began Dean, but it ended with a low, short moan that seemed to burst out of his lungs, and Sam felt the hot spray of come jet through his fingers. Through Dean’s fingers, up against his stomach, and high on his hip. Dean scrunched his whole body against Sam’s, tucking himself into Sam’s chest as if he was going to burrow there. Mouth on Sam’s neck, breath in moist gasps as he ran his tongue across the muscles there.

Sam felt himself collapsing back against the mattress, his head sinking sideways into the pillow, a white shroud coming down as if to swallow him whole, and he realized he’d landed hard against Dean’s shoulder. He tried to push away, to push back, but Dean was now over him, leaning into Sam, planting small, soft kisses on Sam’s forehead.

“It’s okay,” he said, kissing, “it’s okay, Sammy.”

Sam shifted his body and reached down to pull the sheet over them both, shivering as he did this, pressing his head into the curve of Dean’s neck. “It’s not right to want this,” he said, thinking that Dean couldn’t hear him.

“No, it’s okay, I’m telling you,” said Dean, stretching out, thighs warm against Sam’s. “We just gotta learn to do this without the mead, without those damn bees, and we’ll be fine.”

He felt the laugh in his throat, in spite of it all, part agreement, part despair. “I didn’t mean the mead to, I didn’t think that—”

Dean reached to pat him hard on the face. “Would you shut up, already?” He heard Dean sigh, felt the brush of air across his chest. Then Dean’s hand stroked his face, hot fingers across his lips, brushing over his brow. “I don’t expect you did, but it did, and here we are. It’s good this way. It’ll be good this way.”

Sam sighed, looping his arm across Dean’s stomach, feeling the heat move into him, the whir of the fan overhead, cooling along his arms. Felt the thud of Dean’s heart slow as Dean moved into sleep, shifted his legs to tuck them under Dean’s.

“I can’t sleep like this, you know,” said Dean, almost already there. “No cuddling.”

“Yeah, right,” said Sam, smiling against Dean’s neck. “Fall asleep first and you’ll never even know.”

“Yeah, alright,” said Dean, and it wasn’t a moment later that Sam heard the soft snores.

He let himself relax. Let himself sink into the pillow, his mind casting away to nothingness. Thinking of the cool soak of water into desert sand, the cut of blue sky against impossibly green trees. And of where they were headed tomorrow. Didn’t matter anyway, it was wherever the job took them. As long as Sam could crawl inside Dean’s light’s he’d be okay. And he would keep Dean okay, whatever it took.

The End

Master Fic Post

More A/N:

The San Pedro Valley is a real place in Arizona. I was there for the monsoon season in August of Ought Seven, and I think it was the hottest I've ever been AND yes, my brain felt like it was boiling all the time. My friend and her man lived in an adobe cottage with no air conditioning. She loves the heat you see, and well, the little swamp cooler was on all the time and never seemed to make any difference, nor did the large box fan that I had aimed at me night and day. Then there were the flock of greyhounds that slept on the floor near the leather couch that was my bed. Greyhounds sleep HOT and will keep you alive during a blizzard. Alas, no blizzard. Also, the second night, the transformer right down the street blew, and when that happened, the electricity went off. No swamp cooler, no fan, no nothing. I melted. This happened two more nights, so when I describe Sam's brain being on parboil, I speak from experience.

Other than that I had such a lovely time, and we all took a drive through the San Pedro Valley. In contrast to the unairconditioned, monsoon season, leather couch sleeping aspect to Tucson, the valley was lovely and green with a wide flat river running through the center of it. There was sand and grass and hills and trees, and birds and scrub and this lovely, lovely smell. If you've ever been hot like that and went to a simple green place like the San Pedro Valley, then you'll see what a marvelous miracle the water was. It made such a difference.

There were dozens of forgotten little motels in this part of Arizona, and I feel pretty sure many of them could stand up to the rigors of the Shady Rest. Alas, however, there is no motel like the Desert Water, though there are some nice places near the bird watching part of the park.  Here are the two that I felt most matched parts of the Desert Water:

http://www.bedandbirds.com/index.html
 
http://www.downbytheriverbandb.com/missionroom.html

And here's some more info too:

http://www.sanpedrorivervalley.org/index_new2008.htm

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/az/images/san_pedro.Par.45876.File.dat/SanPedroMap.pdf

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