Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four
Dean found Sam giving a university lecture out in Santa Fe. He bargained a fleecy college sweatshirt off a drunk kid in one of the college bars. The guy didn’t know how to hold his whiskey at all and it was easy enough for Dean to get him to trade his black and red hoodie in exchange for Dean forgetting about the money the kid owed him.
It was simple enough for Dean to walk from the city motel over to the campus. There were signs everywhere and hanging boards. It was just like Stanford, Dean thought, or close enough. He hadn’t been to many colleges, unless he was out to kill someone or something. Still, the signs and paths were clear. Sam - or S. Wesson, best selling author - was giving his talk in some fancy board room.
Sam’s face was the same as it had been when Dean had last seen him, watching at a distance while Sam climbed aboard a dusty Greyhound bus deep in the heart of the Appalachians. There were deep, purple-blue bruises under his eyes from sleepless nights, same as there had always been, ever since Dean picked him up that fateful night in California. There might have been a few more deep lines across his forehead since they left Jess’ ashes behind them, but Dean thought they most made Sam look the part of the meaningful American writer.
Sam had ignored the pretty wood podium in the front of the room and, instead, was sitting, loose limbed, in a chair that looked as old as most of Dean’s music, if not older. He wore a collared shirt and a pair of his old, Goodwill jeans and they suited him better than any of the old, shiny monkey suits Dean had crammed him into when they were playing at being FBI or CIA or CDC or some other nameless, faceless, but still feared alphabet government agency.
Sam looked like he finally found that normal he’d been looking for all those years ago. Dean’s brother found his place in the world and it didn’t have anything to do with hunting things or saving people or keeping shotgun warm while Dean drove through the night across the interstate. Sam’s home was right here, living a normal life and being one the people the hunters looked after and saved.
“No, you’re taking it a bit literally,” Sam told a floppy haired kid in a sweatshirt that was a twin to Dean’s. Dean closed the door behind him as quietly as he could and took an uncomfortable metal seat next to an older guy who looked like he could have been a used car salesman or, possibly, a professor at the university. A group of guys in basketball jerseys and sporting marine-style buzzed hair easily hid Dean from Sam’s view, but he tucked the black hood of the sweatshirt over his forehead a bit anyway. There was no need to attract extra attention to himself.
Floppy hair - who looked like he was attempting to look like Ringo Starr and failing terribly, in Dean’s opinion - shook his head. Dean wondered how he could see. “My tutor said that. But, like, Sal’s in love with his damned brother. And what’s up with screwing his drug dealer and that Aker guy? I think my dad would kill me if he knew what I was reading for class, you know?”
Sam laughed, low and a little pained. Dean recognized it as the noise Sam made when he was pushed to the edge of things and was surprised to see the people around him grinning at the sound. “What’s your major, Aiden? Have you studied, I don’t know, Jungian symbolism, maybe in high school? Do they even cover that kind of thing in high school?”
“So, like, are you saying Abbey and Aker are Sal’s anima and animus or something?” a bleached blonde girl sitting near the basketball players asked, sounding confused. “Or do you mean that the apocalypse in Nobody’s Death is symbolic and not, you know, Biblical like he says it is?”
“Is their end of the world part of Jungian’s archetypes? Are they experiencing his revelation?” Sam asked her, watching the crowd with hooded eyes.
“Janna, the world isn’t actually ending in the book,” the girl next to the loud blonde said condescendingly. She had an open notebook on her lap, but seemed more intent on gazing at Sam than taking notes. “Aker’s, like, homeless and schizo, right? I mean, that’s how Sal finds him and, seriously, he thinks he’s an angel and can travel through time. That’s not normal. And Sal says, way back in Life in Winter, that he has a complete break with reality after Mad Jack murders Beth. That’s why Ray’s taking care of him and puts up with the sick incest and all.”
She snapped her gum for a moment, but when Sam nodded at her, she continued, completely oblivious to the fact that she was commenting on their real lives. “So, I figure, the apocalypse and Abbey being a secret demon and maybe even Aker being a fallen angel and Mad Jack being a Gregori, it’s all Sal dealing with trauma. I mean, finding your dead fiancee’s bloody body would send anyone on a bender, right? And if you mix in Sal and Ray’s childhood, it’s not a shocker he just can’t deal with reality. Right, Mr Wesson?”
Sam paused for a moment and fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat, the way he sometimes did if Dean tried to drive them all the way cross country in record time and trapped him in a seat too small for his oversized sasquatchian frame. Eventually he settled for crossing his arms defensively and propping one leg up on the seat in front of him.
The dull murmur that had filled the stuffy, overcrowded room since Dean came in slowed and then died a natural death while everyone waited for Sam to speak. Dean fought a sudden urge to hide his face in the hood of his sweatshirt, knowing, with the instincts that had saved him while hustling pool and cards and while on the run from the FBI, that he shouldn’t do anything to draw any kind of attention to himself. It wasn’t worth it, not for what could only be seconds of passing comfort.
“I don’t know how many of you have heard me talk about my writing before.” Sam paused and waited for the polite laughter to die down. “I have often told people, anyone who is willing to listen, really, that my books are truly more autobiographical than anything else. There are fictions in them, of course, but the core of it is really just telling stories about my life.”
Sam took a long swallow of water from a paper cup on the table behind him. “And it surprised me, the first time I talked to my agent about it. Russel figured I was Ray and wanted to know who the hell lusted after me that I was writing him to be such a loser as Sal.” Sam laughed again and this time, Dean was glad to see, no one smiled or laughed with him. “I still remember the look on his face, all those years ago, when I told him that I was actually Sal. His first question was whether or not I had any brothers.”
The crowd laughed at this. Obviously, Sam Wesson was an only child. Obviously, he couldn’t feel anything for a brother he never even had. Dean bit back the angry thought in his head. This was Sam’s life. This was the life he needed, even if there was no Dean.
The Ringo Starr wannabee in the front row didn’t laugh with the others, though. He mostly sat and stared at Sam, his mouth gaping open just a little bit, before asking, “So you’re a meth junkie with incestuous desires for siblings you don’t even have?” He turned an electric, painful red as soon as he asked, clearly embarrassed by his own question.
Dean frowned. He honestly hadn’t ever thought of it that way. Sam was just Sammy. Sammy was the sweet, sticky faced kid Dean made ramen and Easy Mac for while Dad was away on hunting trips. Sammy was the center of his world and the person who was the purpose and meaning in his life. It didn’t matter if he was writing books about fucking every supernatural being between the Atlantic and Pacific or that he periodically got all ‘roided up on demon blood if they weren’t careful. It never mattered, not in the heart of it all, because he was Sammy.
“”I suppose, in a way, I’m an addict with unfulfilled romantic ideals,” Sam told him diplomatically. “I’m not a textbook case of Sal, you know. A serial killer never killed my fiancee and I didn’t do a stint in the psychiatric ward while I was in college. And I can promise everyone in this room that I never did meth.”
“So what do you mean?”
“Aiden, shut up!” the bleached blonde girl hissed at the floppy haired boy in front. “Stop asking stupid fucking questions!”
The used car salesman next to Dean, the one with the slicked back hair and thread bare too-bright blazer, turned and leveled a glare at the girl. Her name was Janna, Dean reminded himself. She didn’t seem to notice.
Sam shrugged. “I couldn’t tell you. One of the tutors here - Dr Van Hanraade, if she’s around, I don’t see her - told me, when she invited me here this week, that my stories are as about what you put into it as what I wrote. I guess that, for a lot of the world, I am some crazy, incestuous hobo from the middle of nowhere. But I don’t really think that I am. The people in my life might object to that description, especially. So, I’m more interested in what you see.”
He looked down at his watch, clearly tired. “It’s getting late. I think I have time for just one more question as long as you make it quick.”
“So if you don’t got a brother, who the hell is Ray?” Dean asked, from the back of the room.
Sam froze in his seat, his skin a sudden kind of milky white and his hazel green eyes wide with shock. “Dean?” he asked in a shaky voice. Dean know that voice, knew it well, but it belonged to a scared eight year old who didn’t know what to do with the gun Dad handed him and not to the successful author who was teaching college kids about his books.
Dean pinned Sam against the wall of his motel room. The wall had been painted a pleasant sort of peach color and Sam head knocked back against the wall near a rather boring painting of a lady walking a seriously ugly poodle in some kind of a town square. Dean didn’t really care. He had Sam under his own two hands again.
“What are you doing?” Sam asked, in that breatheless, scared tone that his voice hadn’t lost, not even when Dean was naviagating them off of the college campus and into the shaded square the pretty little motel sat on. “I - I tried to go away. Dean. I figured. It’d be better. It was better, wasn’t it? I don’t understand. Why?”
Dean got his face real close to Sam’s before he asked his own question, his first question since he asked who Ray was. He felt like he was ready to just about jump out of his own god damned skin, having Sam so close to him again. It was as though he had been trapped under water for all of those long, dusty, deadly months on the road and now he could finally breath again. He wondered when he started to think the way that Sam wrote.
“What I don’t understand, Sam, is why the hell you wanted to get on that god damned bus in the first place? Why did you leave?”
Sam went suddenly limp under Dean’s hands. He had clearly heard Dean’s question loud and clear - why did you leave me? Why do you always leave me?. He knew Dean’s unending, unholy mantra and they were usually both man enough to pretend they did not. But apparently there was something in the air in the dust of Santa Fe because neither of the Winchester boys seemed up to pretending or shoving their feelings into an emotional lock box.
“Fuck, Dean!” he swore, loudly, angrily. “Fuck! You didn’t see your face back there. Leaving was the only thing that I could do. It was that or cut off my own dick!”
Dean released Sam suddenly and took a quick step back, giving his brother breathing room and space to move. “What the hell are you talking about? Why would I - what the hell?”
Sam rubbed at his face, at the dark bruises under his eyes, with his hands and paced the narrow motel room. “Look, you read my books, right? Even thought I specifically told you that you really, really could never read my books?”
Dean nodded mutely, unable to follow Sam’s train of thought. It was disconcerting to realise that Sam had changed so much that he couldn’t read his brother anymore. Dean wondered if it had happened in their long months apart or if Sam had been changing all along and Dean just never bothered to notice.
“You read them!” Sam’s voice grew to an angry shout, in the way it rarely did when he fought with Dean. When Sam and Dad had fought, back when Dad was still around and kicking, it was all Dean could do to keep them from each other’s throats. He and Sam, though, they were brothers. They were the world to each other. At least, Sam was Dean’s world.
“Yeah.” Dean paused and took a heavy breath. He sat down on the pale yellow paisley covered bed. He could tell Sam this; he had to tell him, really, after all of these months, but that did not mean that Dean could look at his brother while he talked. “You were gone more than you were here, man. When I nearly went six feet under with the Naga poisoning in Oregon? You didn’t show up for more than a month. And that was too many years ago. It only got worse. Fuck it, Sam. Half the time, the only way to come close to talking to you was reading your damned books. So, yeah, I read my own brother’s books. Sue me.”
Sam’s face got even whiter, as thought there were absolutely no blood in his face at all. Dean had never seen him like this, not even after Jess died or in that terrible fight that ended with Sam leaving for Stanford with Dean’s hustling money in his pocket and a bag of clothes in his hand. “I made sure that never happened again. Even if I had to be working, I made sure you were taken care of. Nothing happened to you. Not ever.”
“Sure, I get the best health care a hunter never earned,” Dean told him sharply. “I get to wake up in hospitals on the east end of nowhere out in the desert and learn that I am getting state of the fucking art care, but do you know what I never get, Sam? Do you know?” When Sam shook his head minutely, sadly, and without looking directly at him, Dean continued. “I never get backup I know I can rely on.”
They were both silent for a long, tense moment. It stretched like the hours on a clock. Dean listened to the horns honking in the streets of New Mexico and to the comforting sound of Sam breathing heavily, like a tired race horse, on the hideous bed next to his. They could fight. But at least Sam was with him finally.
“We got through the apocalypse, Sammy,” Dean said finally. He didn’t look at his brother. He stared, instead, at the blank, black screen of the television set that came with the room. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he wondered if he got HBO or porn free with the room, but he couldn’t be bothered to care enough to remember. “We got over the fact that I burned for you and that I turned to the other side and started….” He trailed off. Even now, even on the wrong side of forty, he couldn’t talk about it. “We dealt with it. We dealt with your addiction and with the demons and the death and …” He sighed.
“We defeated Lucifer himself,” Sam finished for him, quietly. “We threw Satan himself in the cage. And I left you thinking I was dead until you knew I wasn’t. And then we were on the road again and things were as close to normal as they get with us. So how did I manage to go around and fuck things up again?”
“I didn’t say that!” Dean still didn’t look at Sam. “I fucked things up. I did. I shouldn’t have. I should have… I should never have gone after you at Stanford. You could have been happy.”
He felt, rather than saw, Sam staring at him, fish mouthed, in the same manner that floppy haired Aiden had stared at Sam in that stuffy St John’s College classroom. “What?”
“You heard me.” Dean turned and faced Sam. “It’s true, isn’t it? This is what you want to do - write and talk and teach. Hell, you were doing it in high school. I just fucked things up. And you just wanted me to be happy and forget about this part of your life. I get it. And I’m sorry.”
Sam just stared at Dean in amazement. For a long while he didn’t say anything and Dean wondered at how the late afternoon sun made his brother look. Then, finally, Sam spoke. “Are you fucking stupid?”
It was Dean’s turn for silence. He did not even understand the question.
“I don’t know how to make it any more obvious.” Sam rubbed at his eyes again, an obvious sign of his own exhaustion. “Dean. I want to fuck you. I’ve had dreams of bending you over your precious car and fucking your ass until kingdom come. And then, because I’m … so fucked up, I made a major best selling series of books out of the fact that, since I was thirteen and learned what my dick was for, I’ve wanted to fuck my brother into next week.”
“It doesn’t mean you don’t want a normal life.”
Sam crossed the measley foot and half between the motel beds in a heart beat and pressed himself tightly up against Dean. “I want to have sex with you. I have had sexually impure thoughts about you since I hit puberty. Do you understand this at all, Dean?”
Dean moaned for second, a noise low and deep in his throat, when he felt Sam’s erection press against his hip. “Yeah. I figured that out when you were fifteen and got a boner in your boxers just about every time I took a shower. It didn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.”
Sam sagged a bit, draping himself slightly over Dean, but his hard on didn’t flag. If anything, Dean pressed against it, relishing the feel of life and desire against him. “I thought you would be furious.”
“Dude.” Dean was shocked for second. It hadn’t occurred to him that Sam didn’t know he wanted him. He thought it was just one of those other unspoken Winchester truths, one of those fucked up facts of life that they never talked about because talking about it would be admitting it was true. How dense was Sam that he didn’t realise that Dean really, really wanted to fucked him long and hard in the back seat of the Impala? Rather than say anything in explanation, he took Sam’s broad, warm hand and pressed it against his own erection. “I’m not exactly one to talk about impure thoughts, if you get my drift, Sam.”
Sam gasped against him and did not say anything. Dean wondered if there really was anything to say at this point.
The Santa Fe morning was chilly and damp, for New Mexico. The weather would have been down right balmy anywhere else in the country, but Dean couldn’t help but shiver a bit. He rolled out of the too narrow motel bed, out from under Sam’s far flung arms, and left, only pausing long enough to pull on his old boots and the previous day’s jeans and shirt. Sam was sleeping like the dead, like he always did when he got laid, even since he lost his virginity to Debbie Ann Winters in Grand Rapids. He didn’t even roll over when Dean closed the door behind him.
He left the Impala in her space in front of their room. If Sam did wake up, he didn’t want him thinking Dean had actually left him in a crappy third-rate New Mexican motel room. Dean didn’t think he could bear losing Sam again, not this soon. He figured, though, that he would be back at the motel long before Sam was awake.
The clerk at the Circle K, a long haired kid who looked barely awake, was drinking a large coffee and flipping through one of the gossip magazines. The only other customers in the place were an old man with an armful of Friskies and beef jerky and a long haul trucker filling up on diesel, black coffee, and egg and sausage sandwiches. None of them seemed interested in bothering him.
Dean walked into the aisle lined with chips and cheap snacks and took a long, free moment to completely freak out. If Sam knew he was freaking out in the Circle K attached to the Shell station, he would leave again, catching another Greyhound bus and Dean would have completely lost his chance. This would be the only time - at a crappy convenience store in Santa Fe with Sam still asleep in their bed - that Dean would let himself think of what Dad would say, of what Mom would say, of what it meant that he was having sex with his brother, of what that made him.
Dean’s hands were comfortable on the steering wheel of his baby and they were riding into the wide open spaces of the road. Sam was where he belonged, in the passenger seat beside his brother. It was Sam who, wearing nothing but a cheap bed sheet, told him they should head out toward Tulsa, that he’d heard rumors of an Ozark Howler prowling on the edges of the city.
His latest book, Broken Luck, was hitting the bookshelves that weekend. Dean had insisted on taking a couple of hunts. He said they needed to get back into the rhythm of their life, but he really just wanted to keep Sam all to himself for a little while. He couldn’t bear sharing Sam with the whole world all of the time, not even when Sam talked about him - Dean Smith, really, not Dean Winchester - in his interviews and talks.
Sam looked half asleep, his head resting on the Impala’s window. He smiled a little when he realised Dean was watching him, but told him to keep his eyes on the road. Dean knew that Sam wouldn’t always be there, that he had another life now, even if Dean Smith had a part in Sam Wesson’s world.
But he didn’t need to think of that, not when he and Sammy and the Impala were all together again on a hunt. He could drive her down the Mother Road and enjoy what he had. Dean reached under his seat and pulled an old cassette from the worn cardboard box that never left the Impala. He pushed it into the tape player and jacked up the music.
A little Zeppelin was perfect for a day on the road. And neither nor Sam would need to say anything over Robert Plant’s singing and Jimmy Page’s guitar.
Little drops of rain whisper of the pain, tears of loves lost in the days gone by.
My love is strong, with you there is no wrong,
Together we shall go until we die