August - September 10, 2007

Disclaimer: it's the company I keep. Beta by Arduinna and Merry and a little bit by elynross. Do not archive without permission.

company with honesty

"Thanks. That's — no, that's great. You too. We will. Bye." Sam snapped his phone shut and turned to Dean. "Gloria says we can stay here."

"Great. Like we have a choice, or were you planning to levitate the car across that big hole full of water where the road used to be?" Dean rubbed at his face before a drop of rain could fall off the end of his nose. His upper body was soaked to the skin, and his jeans had passed wearably damp and were heading into goddamn uncomfortable.

"She says the road washes out with the rain almost every year."

"Yeah, thanks for the advance warning." Not that Dean would have put this hunt off; the restless spirit of a hiker who'd fallen off a cliff had already killed one of the locals and put another one in the hospital. Still, it would have been nice to be prepared. They hadn't known the heavy rains meant get off the mountain right now or stay till everything's dried up again.

Sam started to skin out of his wet hoodie. "We can use everything that's in the house — clothes, food, whatever," he said from somewhere inside the damp cotton. "And stay as long as we want."

"I don't want to stay here at all," Dean said. "It's the ass end of nowhere." Even without the rainclouds pressing down overhead, there was something lowering about the whole place, for all that they were partway up the mountainside. He hadn't liked it much when they were chasing ghosts around firs and down steep slopes, and he liked it even less now that he couldn't even leave.

"Well, as long as the road's under water, you have to," Sam said, wrestling out of his t-shirt and starting to sound a little annoyed himself, "so deal with it. And get out of those wet clothes before you catch cold."

"Yes, Mrs. Noah," Dean said to about half a square acre of Sam's bare back as Sam turned to hang his wet clothes over the backs of the kitchen chairs.

Sam looked at Dean over his shoulder. "Mrs. Noah."

"What." Dean met Sam's look with one of his own. He'd been staring Sam down since before Sam could talk. With or without a shirt.

"That doesn't even make sense," Sam said, standing on one leg to untie his shoe. Dean took a step back, just so he didn't have to deal with Sam's damp feet at close range. Those socks were probably toxic waste at this point.

Dean snorted. "You just have no sense of humor."

"Dude, I have a sense of humor, and you know how I know that? Because I know you're not funny. Are you going to get changed at all, or just stand there and drip on the floor all day?"

"Mind if I go get my bag from the car first? You obviously don't need yours since you're starting a one-man nudist colony in somebody else's kitchen."

Sam stopped taking off his jeans just so he could glare better. "Will you stop being such an ass about this? Just pretend you're on vacation."

"In the rain," Dean said, slamming the door as he went out.

The rain was pouring down. He stood for a minute on the ramshackle porch, bracing himself; then he stepped out and walked over to the car, feeling his hair flatten down and his t-shirt soak and cling. The driveway was turning into gravelly mud soup under his boots. Dean had his hand on the handle of the front door when he looked up, water in his eyes, and changed his mind. He walked over to the garage, which looked like an old shed with a new entrance put in, and persuaded the door to open with a little jiggling and a good hard shove. Sam said Gloria's family was rich, but you couldn't tell from this house, and they definitely didn't spend their money on good locks.

Inside there was enough room for two Impalas, and a good solid concrete foundation. Dean nodded to himself and brought the car inside, out of the freezing-cold rain. He patted the roof apologetically and got their bags out of the back seat. When he checked the front seat, he saw that there was an empty soda can wedged underneath on the driver's side. Dean didn't remember kicking it there, but he supposed he might have while thinking about something else. He bent down and yanked it out, and the hollow-metal sound was familiar; he'd heard that sound just recently, sitting right here, paying no attention to it because he'd been, they'd been — busy.

Dean scowled and crumpled the can in his hand. He started to pick up other stuff from the car floor, stray candy wrappers and dry leaves, and ended up with a pile of trash and junk by the front wheel, and a smaller pile of things that someone might actually want, like Sam's yellow highlighter that he'd bitched about missing for two weeks now. Dean thought about going through the trunk as well, doing a bit more housekeeping, or popping the hood open just to check on things, but he knew nothing was even close to wrong with the engine, and he was starting to feel seriously chilly.

The hammering of the rain on the garage roof picked up, as if it was trying to flatten the world. Dean shut the car door and picked the bags up and went and stared out at the silvery wall of water coming down, cold and relentless. When nothing changed, he sprinted through the mud and jumped onto the porch; he was wetter than a kelpie, but the bags were only a bit damp.

He came into the kitchen to find Sam building a house of cards on the kitchen table, patiently placing one card flat on top of a two-story structure.

"That's more like it," Dean said, thumping his bag down on the table. The house collapsed, and Sam shot him a dark look. "At least we can get a poker game going."

Sam brushed the scattered cards together. "No, we can't."

"Why not? Are you going to sulk because I ruined your masterpiece of architecture, there?" Dean unzipped his bag and checked on the contents. Any piece of clothing drier than what he had on would be nice.

"We can't play cards," Sam said, "because the nine of hearts, the two of clubs and the ace of spades are missing. And thanks for bringing my bag in, jerk."

"It's over by the door," Dean snapped. "I'm gonna go take a shower. I just hope you didn't—" He broke off and looked more closely at his brother. "Sam, what the hell are you wearing?"

"Dry clothes," Sam said. "Which is more than I can say for you." He was squeezed into a yellow University of Chicago t-shirt that was seam-strainingly tight on him and a pair of frayed sweats that ended at mid-calf, as well as lumpy-looking hand-knitted socks with a hole in one toe. "Gloria said we could borrow their stuff."

"Yeah, I think I'll stick with my own, thanks," Dean said, and headed off to the bathroom. The shower curtain and most of the floor was wet, but Sam had left two clean, dry towels on the toilet lid. Dean stripped and hung his wet clothes on the towel rack next to Sam's jeans. He wanted to stand under a spray of hot water until he thawed out again, but he wasn't sure how big the water tank was, and settled for a short warm-up session and then some really vigorous towel-rubbing. In the steamed-up mirror, he caught glimpses of how his skin flushed and paled under the assault of the worn terry cloth.

Dean had learned over the years to value small pleasures, like putting on dry socks after a day in the rain. It wasn't the kind of thing he'd ever actually mention to anyone; if he were writing a list of his interests, which he wouldn't do because who the hell does that except losers trying to sound interesting in the personals, he probably wouldn't put dry socks down next to sex and drinking and killing evil. Still, getting into dry clothes, and being able to feel his toes properly again, put him in a better mood, even if they were stuck in this musty-smelling summer house at least until tomorrow.

The new and improved mood lasted until he came out into the kitchen again and saw that Sam had spread out his laptop and notes and a couple of books all over the kitchen table and was busy reading. Dean leaned in over the table and a drop of water from his hair fell on one of the books. "What have you got here? I hope it's nothing urgent, you might have noticed we're stuck — oh, hell."

"You're getting water on the books," Sam said, reaching up to shove Dean away. Dean took a step back, eyes still on the title of the chapter he could see. "It's not a new hunt, I'm just doing some research, because we need to know, after what happened outside Great Falls—"

"We're not going to talk about what happened outside Great Falls," Dean interrupted, reaching out a finger and tipping the book shut.

Sam leaned back in the chair and stretched, borrowed t-shirt riding snug across his chest, every muscle outlined through the thin, well-washed cloth. He pressed his mouth tight, then relaxed and gave Dean his best oh-so-reasonable look. "What, so the next time a mischievous sprite comes along we'll just hold hands and sing We Shall Overcome and hope for the best? I don't know about you, but I'd prefer to be able to do something about it." He tapped his pen against the book Dean had closed. "Mrs. Brennan had copper wire, didn't she, and that walking stick of some kind of special wood."

"Blackthorn," Dean said reluctantly.

"It was pretty big," Sam said, an understatement since it had been taller than tiny Mrs. Brennan herself. "But the wire, we could easily carry some copper wire that's never conducted electricity, just buy it new. And we could get just a small branch, I don't think it has to be that big. And Dean, if you look here—" He reached out to tug at Dean's arm, but when Dean felt Sam's fingertips against his skin he practically jumped back. "Dean?"

"Just leave it, Sammy," Dean said.

"All right," Sam said, flinging the book aside and shoving the chair back to stand upright, spine straight and shoulders squared, practically towering over Dean for a change. "What's wrong with you?"

"Nothing," Dean said. "Did you even get your bag from where I left it?" He took a step towards the door.

Sam rolled his eyes. "Dean, just... stop it." He sounded angry and tired at the same time. "I get that you hated every minute of it, but do you have to back away from me like I have leprosy? You're being." He waved a hand in the air like he was trying to catch invisible butterflies. "Skittish."

"The hell I am," Dean said automatically, because some things you just didn't take from your younger brother. "I'm just," he grinned sharply at Sam, "reestablishing boundaries. I'm pretty sure that's the normal thing to do in a situation like this. Didn't you read any psychology textbooks in college?" Then, at the look on Sam's face, "Now if we've settled that, can a man get some food around here?"

Sam crimped his mouth a bit, like he was holding back some choice words of his own, but then he nodded. "There's a lot of canned stuff in one of the cupboards. And your choice of three-year-old instant coffee or Red Zinger."

"That's not a choice," Dean said, starting to investigate the cupboards for mugs. "If you ever see me drinking Red Zinger, you'll know I'm possessed, and you have my permission to hold me down and shove my head in a bucket of holy water for as long as it takes."

"Yeah, and then what would you do to reestablish your boundaries," Sam said, getting a couple of saucepans out with a racket and a clatter that almost covered up the bitchiness in his voice.

Dean ignored him. "It's kind of disturbing, really. You realize that sprite could have made us do almost anything. Strip naked and sing Abba's greatest hits. Paint the Impala pink. Drink herbal tea." Dean shuddered. "Can you imagine?"

"But we didn't," Sam said. "All we had to do was kiss each other a bit, and nobody even saw it except for Mrs. Brennan, if that's what you're so worried about. It's not the end of the world." He held up two cans. "Do you want Chef Boyardee or chicken soup?"

"Soup," Dean said. Soup and rain went together like pay-per-view and porn.

"Okay. Pass me those bowls over there."

They worked together in the kitchen for a while, reaching around each other for can openers and spoons. Sam put frozen slices of bread with frozen cheese on top in the toaster oven. Dean stirred the soup, staring darkly into the pot, while Sam set the table. The borrowed sweatpants were pretty snug across Sam's ass, too, clinging a lot more closely than anything Sam ever bought for himself.

"Two hours," Dean said. He couldn't help it, the words just wanted out. Sam glanced back over his shoulder. "We made out for two hours, until Mrs. Brennan came by and knocked on the car window. That's not just a little bit."

Sam set the spoons down. "I thought we weren't going to talk about it," he said evenly.

"We're not," Dean said. He brought the soup over to the table and poured it in the bowls, giving all his attention to dividing it up in completely equal shares. Sam got the bread and cheese out of the toaster oven, and they sat down to eat.

There was a bowl of fancy finger salt on the table, and when Sam moved it out of the way he managed to spill some salt in his soup. He sat there eating it anyway and making little faces that he probably thought Dean didn't notice and that were pretty funny to watch, but about halfway through the meal Dean took pity on him and poured the rest of his soup into the rest of Sam's soup, and they shared the bowl of only slightly too salty soup between them.

Dean's spoon was scraping the bottom of the bowl when the lamp over the kitchen table went out and the fridge and freezer went silent. He hadn't realized he could even hear them over the thrum of the rain, but he noticed when they were gone.

"Could just be a fuse," Sam said. He dropped his spoon into the bowl with a clatter. "But I don't think so. Gloria said it happens a lot in weather like this."

"Figures," Dean said through the last mouthful of his bread and cheese. "Is that a working fireplace in there?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah. For when the power goes out," he said, one corner of his mouth quirking up. "Gloria said there's wood in the garage — I guess that's the garage out there—"

"Yeah, I'm on it." Dean got up, leaving the soup bowls on the table. "Why don't you clean up a bit around here while I'm gone, Mrs. Noah. They won't mind if you borrow an apron, you know. One of those cute frilly ones."

"Would you stop it, already," Sam said, licking a last trace of soup from the edge of his bottom lip. "Still not funny."

Dean turned abruptly away from the sight, tossed a "Sure it is" over his shoulder and rummaged in the top drawer of the hall bureau for a flashlight. When he found one, it even worked, and he clicked it on and off a couple of times before he went outside. The rain had thinned to a drizzle, but the air felt even colder than before, and just as oppressive; he thought he saw a snowflake or two mixed in, although they melted as soon as they hit the ground. He walked over to the garage and slipped inside, switching the flashlight on so he could see what he was doing. The car was still there and still not pink, so he supposed his life could be worse.

In the back left corner, he found a big stack of firewood and a basket to carry it in. Dean loaded up on logs and killed a few spiders while he was at it. He headed back out and closed the door carefully. He didn't want to do any actual damage or anything; it really was friendly of Gloria and her family to let them make free with the house and everything in it, even if Dean didn't want to be there in the first place.

Outside, it was getting dark, too. Since the rain had eased off enough that it didn't soak him to the skin in the first minute, Dean took a turn around the garage and then around the house, where he found a path from the back door to an outhouse up the slope a bit, modestly tucked away between two large pines. It was older than the house, with its bathroom and modern plumbing, but obviously still kept in good working order, which made sense, if the power went out frequently. Modern plumbing didn't help much when the electric pump stopped pumping water from the well.

Dean went down the slope again and finished his circuit of the house. When he came back into the front room of the house, Sam had lit candles on the table and in the window, and wrestled a big tarp from somewhere out in front of the fireplace. Sam looked up as Dean came in. "We can't keep the entire house warm, we'll have to close off the bedrooms and everything in the back. If you get the fire started I'll get the mattresses out here."

"Here," Dean said, tossing him the flashlight. "It's getting pretty dark." He knelt down by the fireplace and looked up at Sam. "What about water?"

"There's enough bottled water for a couple or weeks," Sam said, and Dean grinned a bit at the thought of Sam actually calculating how long the water would last. "And cold ravioli and stuff, so we're not going to starve."

Dean made a face. "Yeah, that sounds just delicious. And that reminds me, there's an outhouse, round back, can't miss it." He started to build up a fire, and Sam vanished into the back half of the house, coming back a few minutes later with one mattress, then another just as Dean put the first match to the wadded-up newspaper. The wood was slow to catch for all that it was nice and dry, and Dean coaxed it along as Sam went back for linens and blankets and came out with his arms full, kicking the door shut behind himself.

"Come on, you could give me a hand here," Sam said, and Dean got up and helped his brother arrange the mattresses on top of the tarp and the sheets and blankets and pillows on top of the mattresses, only faltering when he realized they were building a really big bed for the two of them. It wasn't weird, he told himself. Sleeping at opposite ends of the room and freezing their asses off, that would be weird.

Dean dropped the edge of the blanket he was holding, and Sam gave him a Good Housekeeping sort of frown. "Just thought of something," Dean said and walked over to the kitchen side of the front room. He opened the lid of the chest-style freezer a crack and got out the bread and the cheese and some frozen hot dogs. "Hey, Sam, you know if they have any plastic bags around here?"

"No," Sam said, but he came over and rummaged around and presented Dean with a Nordstrom's bag; Dean loaded the food in and stuck the bag on the porch just outside the door.

"So it looks like we're not starving to death or freezing to death." Dean got a glass out of a cupboard and started hunting around for that bottled water Sam had talked about. The salty soup had left his tongue tingling. "That just leaves dying from boredom. Don't they even have beer?"

"No, but I saw a Yahtzee box." Sam got himself a glass, too, and pulled out a plastic gallon jug of water.

Dean drank half a glass of water while he thought about it. "Nah. Not even with Winchester rules."

Yahtzee had been one of the few games they'd brought on the road with them for a while, since it didn't take up a lot of space either to pack or to play. Dean had gotten most of his fun out of changing the rules on Sam every time they changed states, just for the hell of it. His favorite was still the time he'd claimed that anyone who rolled a Yahtzee in Pennsylvania also had to recite the Gettysburg Address or it wouldn't be valid. Sammy had nearly blown a fuse.

"Okay." Sam shrugged. "Suit yourself. I'm gonna do some more research. About that thing we're not talking about." When Dean didn't respond, Sam went over to sit cross-legged on their improvised bed, in the best spot in front of the fire, and in a little while he had laptop and books and notes spread out around him and was lost to the world.

Dean took his boots off before they could get his socks damp. Then his feet got cold, so he went over and sat on the mattresses too, stretching his legs towards the fire. "We should have marshmallows."

"Mm," Sam said absently.

Dean waited till his feet were nice and toasty, then went over to the kitchen half of the front room and looked around in the cupboards. No beer, no card games, but somebody in this house at least had to have a sweet tooth.

Eventually he found a half-empty bag of marshmallows sitting on a shelf, but no graham crackers, just a packet of saltines. Dean looked thoughtfully at the saltines, shrugged, and brought them over to the fire. When he nudged Sam to scoot over, Sam just muttered something irritable and shifted without taking his eyes off his book, but once Dean started toasting his first marshmallow, Sam looked up.

"Mine," Dean said, folding the marshmallow into a saltine broken in half.

Sam's eyes widened. "That's disgusting."

"No, it's not." Dean bit down. Salt, cracker, scalding hot marshmallow. "Delicious."

Sam shook his head. Dean shrugged and made a second one, and a third, crunching happily and getting saltine crumbs all over the blanket, until Sam closed his book and sat up a bit straighter. "Okay, make me one, too."

"Make your own, princess," Dean said indistinctly. Sam reached over and tried to steal the toasting fork, and Dean held him off with an elbow until Sam gave up and went to rummage in a kitchen drawer.

Sam stared at his first saltine-marshmallow combo for so long, Dean thought it was going to go cold. Then he ate it in one gulp, paused, and grinned. "Hey, that's not bad."

"Told you," Dean said. They sat comfortably side by side, toasting their marshmallows and scuffling over the saltines, and Dean didn't flinch away when Sam shoved at him. He was completely fine with sitting here cross-legged in front of the fire, with Sam's big, bony knee digging into his thigh. His feet were nice and warm, and his face was almost too warm, and even his back, away from the fire, didn't feel too chilly.

Even when they were stuffed, they kept toasting and eating until they ran out of saltines. Dean toasted a final marshmallow and rolled it in the leftover crumbs, but that turned out just a bit too salty, like the soup. He stood up, brushing crumbs off his legs, and went to get himself another glass of water.

Over by the fire, Sam was yawning like a crocodile. "Maybe I'll turn in early," he said.

Dean checked his watch and considered giving Sam a hard time. Then again, there wasn't much else to do in this place but sleep, and Sam had been restless lately, not that Dean kept track of his brother's sleep patterns or anything. Instead he said, "Yeah, maybe I will too. The nightlife isn't all that exciting around here. Sleeping's got to be better than staying awake and hearing you snore."

They brushed their teeth at the kitchen sink, and while Dean straightened out the tangled bedding, Sam slipped out the back of the house and came back a couple of minutes later chilled and slightly damp around the edges. "Rain's picked up again."

Dean nodded and shoved his feet into his boots, tucking the loose laces in. He went through the house and out the back, and took a leak by the corner where the rain was dripping from the roof; no way was he going up to the outhouse in the rain and the dark if he didn't have to. After he was done he stood and watched the night for a while and listened to the rain. It felt as though the whole world had hunkered down to wait the weather out, and nothing was moving anywhere. The mountain was big and silent and seemed to loom over him.

Also it was really wet. Dean rubbed his nose with the back of his hand and went back inside.

The candles were all doused. Sam was lying on his stomach on their makeshift bed, reading a book by the light of the fire. There was a gap between the tight t-shirt and the tight sweatpants, showing a strip of smooth skin. "You'll ruin your eyes," Dean said, kicking out of his boots. He took his jeans off and hung them over a chair, and stripped out of his long-sleeved shirt before crawling in under a layer of blanket.

"Mm hm," Sam said, clearly back to not listening. Dean craned his head to see that Sam was still reading about sprites and what to do about them.

"Dude," he said. "Can't you let that go?"

After a moment, Sam looked up. "What? I just thought of something I wanted to check."

Dean put his arms behind his head and stared at the ceiling for several seconds before turning his head towards Sam again. "You're acting kind of obsessed. It's over, we can move on."

Sam gave a crack of incredulous laughter and propped himself higher to stare at Dean. He even brushed the hair out of his eyes so he could do it better. "I'm acting obsessed? You're the one who's tied up in knots about it."

"Oh, sure," Dean said. "You're not hung up on this at all. You always do this much research about a job after we've finished it, and I've just never noticed before."

"I'm not upset," Sam said, starting to sound kind of upset, and Dean raised an eyebrow at him. "You're the one who keeps acting like it was a big deal."

"Yeah, well." Dean tried to stare at something other than Sam's mouth. "We were totally helpless and got saved by an octogenarian with a big walking stick. Sorry to be less than thrilled about that."

"Okay." Sam used his calm, reasonable, convincing voice, and Dean had to make an effort not to thump him. "I get it. I even agree, which is why I've been doing this research so it doesn't happen to us again. I'm just saying we're okay, everything worked out, and it wasn't the end of the world."

Dean took a deep breath. "Sure," he said. "Fine. Not the end of the world. Can we go to sleep now?"

"Nobody's stopping you," Sam said, turning another page in a pointed manner.

"Are you going to keep that up all night?"

"Dean!" Sam didn't even look up. "You're the one who needs to let this go. It's not a big deal, okay?"

"Yeah? Well, when you talk like you kiss your brother and get saved by a little old lady every week and it's no big deal, it kind of makes me wonder about what goes on inside your head." Dean stared at Sam's profile, eyes returning again and again to Sam's mouth. He had some thoughts about what was going on inside his own head, too.

Sam sighed and closed his book, turning towards Dean. "I can't believe how much you're freaking out over this," he said. "If you don't want to talk about it, then stop talking about it."

"No, I'm fine," Dean said. "Obviously you're right and it was nothing." He rolled over and pressed his mouth swiftly against Sam's. The kiss landed kind of crooked, mostly on Sam's upper lip. "See? Nothing. Like you said, not the end of the world." Dean lay back and felt his heart beat recklessly.

"But that's not what it was like," Sam said, and now he was using a voice that Dean had never, ever heard before. He would have remembered. Sam rolled up on one side and cupped his big hand around the side of Dean's face, giving him plenty of time to get away before he leaned in and pressed his mouth against Dean's, not fast and hard but slow and thorough. And yeah, okay, Dean remembered this, he remembered how Sam kissed, remembered Sam's warm, hungry mouth on his.

At the same time, this was completely different. When he thought back on those two hours they'd spent in the front seat of the car, they were a bit dreamlike and unclear. Everything was vivid now, and he was aware of himself, of them, or their surroundings: the crackle of the fire, the way the sheet was bunched up under his knee. The way Sam was his brother, even if Sam himself didn't seem to remember it, the way he was sucking on Dean's lower lip, licking just under his jaw and biting his earlobe.

"Hey," Dean said, thumping Sam's shoulder with the flat of his hand.

"Mm," Sam said, giving most of his attention to the side of Dean's neck, biting gently.

"You've made your point. Feel free to stop." Dean tried not to suck his breath in too loud at the way Sam's tongue felt on his skin.

"No," Sam said from the vicinity of Dean's collarbone. He looked up at Dean through tangled, too-long hair. "Not unless you say it like you mean it, Dean. I've been," he licked along the collar of Dean's t-shirt, "thinking about this since Great Falls."

"Because of the sprite," Dean said, trying for his own brand of annoyingly reasonable. He had a feeling it would have worked better if he hadn't kissed Sam back, before. "Tie some copper wire around your head and you'll feel better."

"Not because of the sprite," Sam said, and paused to frown and look amused at the same time. Dean had to grin, too, because it did kind of sound like they were arguing about soft drinks. "Didn't you hear what Mrs. Brennan said when she knocked on the car window? She said we should watch out, because a lot of people had found themselves doing exactly what they'd always wanted to do and it got them a wee bit upset. That's what the sprite wanted, to shake people up and make them realize what they really wanted out of life."

Dean thought back. "What, even the guy who put on a Heidi dress and wouldn't stop singing karaoke?"

"Apparently. So unless there's something you're not telling me, no pink car and no Abba." Sam put a hand on Dean's face and gave him that earnest, wide-eyed look that only worked on other people. "I've been thinking a lot about this, Dean. And I think you have been, too."

Apparently it wasn't just other people, because Dean found himself nodding. "Yeah," he said, telling the plain truth as if he'd been born to it. "Yeah. I have."

He didn't know how that look had suddenly started working on him, too, but he did know that it wasn't good for Sam to have things all his own way too much, so he shoved Sam down and braced himself over him, looking down at Sam's face, at his wide mouth and tousled hair, and rubbed his thumb across Sam's nipple through the tight t-shirt and watched the color rise in Sam's cheeks.

Sam put both hands on Dean's shoulders and pulled him down, and they kissed again: slow, heated, clinging kisses, almost too good to be true, kisses that could warm a man all the way to his toes. Kisses like the one Mrs. Brennan had broken them out of, but here, there was nothing to stop them. Dean licked the curve of Sam's ear, and Sam sucked on Dean's fingers, but mostly they kissed and kissed. They shifted around a bit, and Dean ended up outside the blankets again, but he wasn't cold. Not at all.

"You know," Sam said, leaning back on his elbows. Firelight danced over his face and arms, and his hair was a mess, and his mouth was red; he looked like he should be standing at the edge of the woods, leaves trailing over his shoulder, to lure men and women to their ecstatic and uninhibited doom, except for the t-shirt with the faded U of Chicago legend. And the socks. "You know, we could stop now, we don't have to do anything more. Or."

Drean trailed a finger slowly down the inside of Sam's arm, elbow to wrist, feeling the soft skin and the hectic beat of Sam's pulse. "Or?"

Sam's voice was both matter of fact and as intimate as a caress. "Or I could blow you."

"Oh god yes," Dean said. He didn't care if it made him a pervert or a degenerate freak or anything else that anyone cared to name. They'd come this far, he might as well admit that the idea made his blood fizz.

Sam grinned brightly at him as if Dean had given him a present. He pushed Dean's t-shirt up and blew a raspberry on Dean's stomach, and then, before Dean could swat him, started to kiss and lick his way down. Dean already had his hand lifted, and he couldn't resist; he began to stroke Sam's hair, curling his fingers into it and tugging softly. He could feel Sam's smile against his skin right before Sam started licking along the elastic of Dean's briefs. It only figured, Dean thought in blissful frustration, that Sam would be a goddamn tease.

"Lift up," Sam said, all but writing the words on Dean's skin with his mouth, and when Dean obeyed he hooked his thumb into Dean's briefs and worked them down slowly. But he wasn't done with the teasing yet; there was more licking, Sam's tongue in the crease between Dean's thigh and torso, Sam's tongue on his balls, gentle and curious, and finally Sam's tongue licking up the sides of Dean's cock, long slow unhurried ice-cream licks.

"I'm going to kill you," Dean said, and Sam laughed and swirled his tongue around the head. Dean made a strangled noise, and Sam hummed to himself and did it again. Then he shoved at Dean's hips, curled himself around to a better angle, and settled in for some serious cocksucking. "Finally," Dean said, and then, "Sam," which was his last coherent word for a while.

Sam's blowjobs, as it turned out, were pretty much like his kisses, slow and deep and hungry, extremely thorough, and Dean felt he had never really appreciated the focus and attention that Sam could give to whatever he was genuinely interested in doing well. He clenched his hand tighter in Sam's hair and rocked his hips, feeling the head of his cock slide and rub against the slick perfection of Sam's palate while Sam's tongue worked against the nerve cluster on the underside.

Dean brought up his other hand to feel it, to touch Sam's lips, wet and slick, stretched around Dean's shaft, to press against Sam's cheek and feel himself inside. He couldn't doubt the reality of it, not with Sam's mouth the center of his own personal universe. Hell, Sam's mouth deserved its own religion. Churches on every street.

Dean moved his hands restlessly over Sam's face, fingertips drifting over Sam's jaw, his cheekbone. He could feel the pressure gathering along his spine and deep in his pelvis, driving his hips up. Dean lifted his head and saw it, Sam's mouth, his own cock sliding across Sam's lips and pushing in deep, and that was it, his hips jerked desperately and he was coming, fast and hard.

He sank back into the tangled mass of bedding, taking one deep breath after another and feeling that all his joints had crumbled, while Sam kissed the head of his cock, and the side of his navel, and the edge of his ribs, and his left nipple, and his collarbone, and finally his mouth.

"You okay?" Sam asked, sounding a little out of breath.

"No." Dean fumbled with closed eyes for Sam, curled a hand around the back of his neck and tugged him down into another kiss. "You killed me." He opened his eyes to see Sam smiling at him, looking shyly smug, and something clenched deep inside Dean's chest. He pushed at Sam's shoulder. "Scoot up."

"Why?" Sam asked, starting to shift all the same.

"Cause I want to suck you, and I'm too dead to move."

Sam chuckled, but he moved faster, ungracefully peeling himself out of his clothes as he went along. It was strange and familiar at the same time to see him stripped bare, all that skin begging to be touched, which Dean knew he had to do, some other time when he could actually make his entire body move again. Now all he had to do was lift one arm and tug at Sam's hip a bit, dragging him closer and closer still, and then turn his head and open his mouth.

Sam's cock just pushed right in, like it was made to fuck Dean's mouth, like Dean's mouth was made to suck it. Sam smelled good, and he tasted good, clean and hot and Sam. Dean kept his hand on Sam's hip and rocked him gently back and forth, sliding Sam's cock in and out of his mouth while he played around with his tongue and sucked hard and soft and then hard again. He could feel the tension in Sam's body, how he was holding himself back and breathing harshly with the strain. Sam's cock leaked steadily, slick, tangy drops on Dean's tongue. Dean fanned his fingers out and stroked the hollow of Sam's hip and the curve of his ass.

Then he let go of Sam's hip and fumbled for Sam's hand, dragged it to his head and curved it to fit around the side of his neck, fingers up behind his ear. "Go for it," Dean said, slurring his words because he didn't want to pull back far enough for Sam's cock to leave his mouth. He wanted it there, dragging heavily against his lips and making him drool sideways into the bedding. He wanted Sam to let go.

Sam, being Sam, only thrust gently at first, more carefully than when Dean had gripped his hip and directed his movements. Dean hollowed his cheeks and made an encouraging sound. He stroked up the back of Sam's thigh and coaxed him forward, and Sam pushed in harder; his hands gripped Dean's head tighter and held it steady for short, jerky thrusts and then longer, deeper ones. He was breathing harshly, vocalizing a little with each thrust, quiet but intense.

Dean swiped his fingers across his chin and cheek, getting his fingertips wet, taking care not to jostle Sam or interfere with his steady thrusts now that he was finally moving the way he wanted to. He slid his palm up the back of Sam's thigh again, and then pressed his thumb in firmly just behind Sam's balls. Sam grunted and his hips jerked forward, shoving his cock into Dean's throat. Dean's eyes watered and he swallowed hard, trying not to cough or choke. He couldn't hold back a low sound of muffled greed.

He slid his wet fingertips up the crack of Sam's ass, rubbing them in teasing circles over and around Sam's hole, and felt Sam's body tighten and his balls draw up. Sam's thumb pressed hard against Dean's cheekbone, and he came with a shout, flooding Dean's mouth with bitterly delicious salt. Dean swallowed as fast as he could, but because of the angle, some of it trickled from the corner of his mouth; he tried to catch it with his tongue. He licked softly at Sam's cock, keeping it in his mouth until Sam was ready to pull out. Sam's grip on Dean's head softened and he stroked gently across the side of Dean's face before letting go.

When he pulled away, he flopped onto his back and breathed like a marathon runner for a couple of minutes, then slowly scooted down again to lie next to Dean. "Hey."

"Hey." Dean rubbed a hand across his cheekbone. "I think they could probably get your thumbprint off my face now."

"Sorry," Sam said breathlessly, rolling closer. He kissed Dean's cheekbone and then his mouth, slowly and as thoroughly as before. "That was amazing."

Dean grinned. "Of course it was." Sam made a face at him and thumped his chest. "You're pretty good yourself. Was there something about Jess you haven't been telling me?" Then he nearly bit his tongue off.

"Fuck you," Sam said, but the second thump of his fist against Dean's chest wasn't much harder than the first. Dean relaxed again. "Anyway, you know I've had boyfriends."

Dean frowned. "I do?" He started to wriggle out of his t-shirt, because wearing that and nothing else was making him feel like a cartoon character.

Sam lifted his head and looked at Dean. "Did you seriously think I went over to Jamal Morgan's house every afternoon for a month and a half to do my homework?"

"You sneaky little bastard," Dean said admiringly. "I thought you went over to do his homework, actually. Figured the track star needed some help academically and you got to hang out with the cool kids."

Sam snorted. "So in your head my life's an eighties teen movie. Good to know."

"Pretty in pink," Dean said, rubbing a finger across Sam's flushed cheek.

"You want me to paint the car? 'Cause I will. Anyway, Jamal didn't have any trouble keeping up in school." Sam rolled over on his back and stretched his arms out over his head. "Which is a good thing, considering that we really, really didn't spend our time doing homework." Sam grinned, and then his jaw dropped in another crocodile yawn. Dean could see goosebumps coming up on his arms.

"Okay, come on," Dean said, squirming around a bit and tugging at the blankets. "Get your giant ass under the covers, it's cold."

"Not that cold," Sam said, but he rolled in underneath the blankets and ended up pressed against Dean, bare skin to bare skin, head to toe. Dean was so spent, his cock didn't even twitch, but when Sam put an arm around him and sighed in sleepy contentment, he didn't exactly protest. He was sleepy, too, and he could still taste Sam in his mouth. He fell asleep with one arm tucked under his head and the other hand on Sam's leg.

Dean woke up in the night, when a log on the fire popped and hissed. He lay still for a while and felt Sam's warm breath against his shoulder, the tickle of Sam's hair against his neck. He felt comfortable and drowsy, but a little strange, as if part of him wasn't where he expected it to be. Moving slowly and carefully, he got free of Sam's embrace and stood up, shivering a little in the cool air. He grabbed one of the few blankets that had eluded Sam's grasp and wrapped it around his shoulders before padding into the cold back half of the house, stopping by the back door to shove his feet into someone's worn-out tennis shoes before going outside.

The rain had stopped while he slept. Overhead, the sky was clearing, showing patches of bright stars in between the scudding clouds. Everything was very silent: no rain, no cars anywhere, no electric hum coming from the house. Dean just stood and breathed it all in for a while. He tensed when he heard rustling, then relaxed again as a white-tailed deer walked past the outhouse and went higher up the slope. The deer vanished into the underbrush, shaking water from the leaves as it went.

After the deer left, the night was still and peaceful again. Dean pulled the blanket tighter about his shoulders and thought about Sam, warm and safe and asleep inside the house. He thought about Sam's smile, and Sam's hands, and his mouth. Dean had never expected to have any intimate knowledge of Sam's mouth. After Great Falls, he'd never expected to have any intimate knowledge of it again. Now just the thought of what Sam's mouth could do made him shiver and heat up at the same time.

The stars looked bigger out here, without any lights from houses or roads to dim their brilliance. Dean mapped a few constellations out of habit, tilting his head back, but didn't step outside the overhang of the roof. The strange feeling he had wasn't quite vertigo, either. Not a feeling of something missing, no, and not a feeling of being hollow, just unexpectedly light. Like some strange pressure had been lifted and was blowing away like the clouds.

Dean didn't know how long he stood there, watching the stars and breathing easily. When the deer came back again, stopping on the path from the outhouse to stare at him, he realized that he was cold. He took a step towards the door, and the deer flung its head up, turned and ran. Dean went inside and kicked the tennis shoes off. His bare feet felt almost numb on the floor. He walked into the front room and saw that the fire was down to embers and ash; slipping the cold blanket off his shoulders, he knelt naked by the fireplace and carefully built it up again.

When the fire burned higher and hotter again, Sam stirred. "Dean?" he mumbled.

"Just fixing the fire," Dean said. "Move over." He slid in under the nearest blanket, between Sam and the fire. Sam was wonderfully warm. Dean pressed in closer, and Sam made an unhappy sound as Dean's cold feet tangled with his own, but he put his arm around Dean again, snuggled in closer and subsided back into sleep. Dean just lay there and breathed for a while, with Sam's head resting on his shoulder. He felt light as a feather.

The next time Dean woke up, he lay pressed against Sam's back. He was warm down to his toes, and his cock was more awake than the rest of him and having a great time perving on Sam's ass. Dean grinned into Sam's spine. He flexed his fingers and smoothed his palm against Sam's stomach, rubbing gently back and forth and then up over Sam's chest. Sam snuffled a bit, and Dean stilled the motion of his hand just so he could feel Sam's heartbeat against his palm.

"Morning," Sam said in a voice like a truckload of gravel.

Dean rubbed his fingertips over one of Sam's nipples, feeling it tighten into a hard point. "Yeah, it's definitely morning," he agreed and trailed his hand down again. "You up?"

Sam snorted. "No, that's you," he said, but when Dean wrapped his hand around Sam's cock it was half-hard and grew swiftly harder against his palm.

Dean thrust slowly, lazily, against Sam's ass, then did it again and had to draw a deeper breath against the rush that went through him. He bit Sam's shoulder to distract himself and felt Sam's cock move in his hand.

"You like that?" Dean did it again without waiting for an answer, and Sam pushed back, grinding his ass against Dean's cock, and damn, that was good. Dean nipped at the back of Sam's neck and let go of his cock to slide his hand up and pinch Sam's nipples again, and Sam pushed back some more, wriggling and making noises deep in his throat. And okay, now Dean was outright humping Sam's ass and it felt really, really good.

"I want — like this." Sam slid his fingers in between Dean's and tugged Dean's hand down to play with Sam's balls, and Dean was fine with that, especially since it made Sam roll his hips in some really interesting ways. "Yeah."

"God," Dean said, smothering the word against Sam's shoulder. Apparently he had a hair-trigger this morning, and the sound of Sam's voice and the feel of Sam's body against his were coming close to setting him off already. He flexed his fingers and tilted his head back to rub his stubbled jaw against the back of Sam's neck, and tried to think of something that wasn't Sam's ass and how much he wanted to thrust against it until he got off and then rub his come into Sam's skin.

Sam rolled his hips like a freaking belly dancer and squeezed Dean's fingers between his own. "You feel so good," he said, low and honest, and Dean groaned and thrust harder, burying his face in Sam's back as his hips stuttered and he came like a shotgun blast and could barely breathe. Sam huffed. "Damn it, Dean, did you just come all over my ass?"

"Shut up, you loved it," Dean said when he could talk again. He shifted back enough to get a hand in between them, catching most of the slick, still-warm mess on his fingers and stroking up and down the crack of Sam's ass before pushing one finger into his hole.

Sam jerked again, the way he had last night. "Dean."

"Touch yourself," Dean said, sliding his finger deeper. Sam started jerking himself, rocking back on Dean's finger, and after a little while Dean pushed a second finger in, making Sam moan. Sam was so hot, hot and tight inside and hot and sweaty against Dean's mouth when he bit down on Sam's shoulder. "Faster."

"Shut up," Sam said between clenched teeth. Dean twisted his fingers. "Fuck!" Dean did it again. "Fuck, fuck, like that, fuck, Dean!" Sam was jerking himself hard and fast, and Dean licked his upper arm and felt muscles flex and strain against his tongue. He lifted his head to bite Sam's shoulder again, but just then Sam threw his head back and nearly hit Dean's nose as he came, shooting all over himself and the blankets, clenching down bone-grindingly tight around Dean's fingers.

Dean kissed Sam's back and listened to Sam's deep, ragged breathing. It was getting a bit too hot for comfort under the blankets, and Sam's skin was damp with sweat; Dean felt a bit sticky himself, in more than one place. He slowly eased his fingers out and then stopped himself before he could put his hand down on anything. "Uh, Sam," he said. Sam grunted. "Think the water's back?"

Sam was quiet for a long, slow breath. The fridge and freezer didn't make a sound. "No."

They crawled out of bed reluctantly and took a gallon jug of water along to the bathroom, and Sam dug a pile of towels and washcloths out of a cupboard. It was a long way from a hot shower, and Dean made a mental note to have less messy sex when no running water was available. He swabbed himself down with a bit of yellow soap and watched Sam in the corner of his eye while Sam muttered to himself about his hair and about getting Dean's come off his ass. Dean thought about rubbing his come into Sam's ass, deep inside, and had to slap a cool, wet washcloth on himself and think about something else.

As a result, Sam was ready first, slipping on the tight sweatpants from yesterday and nodding at Dean. "Toast and hot dogs for breakfast?" He sounded completely calm and ordinary, like on any other day.

"That's fine with me," Dean said; he had no secret longing for cold ravioli. At least not first thing in the morning.

"Okay, I'll go check on the fire."

Dean looked at Sam's face and the casual way he stepped past Dean towards the door, and he took a step sideways and got in the way. "Sam, wait." He put both hands, clean now, on Sam's face and looked at him closely and thoroughly. "You're really okay with this."

Sam's eyes darkened, and he didn't try to pull away from Dean's touch. "Yes." He stared back at Dean just as intently. "More than just okay, Dean." And that wasn't Sam's calm and ordinary voice; it was the one that made Dean's insides shiver and clench.

"Oh. Okay, then." Dean let his hands drop away from Sam's face. "Good." He turned to pick up his washcloth again; Sam's hand on his shoulder spun him around enough for Sam to plant a sloppy kiss on about half of his mouth. Before Dean could either protest or kiss back, Sam took off, smiling one of those smiles that could have sold a million tubes of toothpaste.

Cleanup went much faster when Dean wasn't being distracted by naked Sam right next to him. He slid into his jeans and hung up all the towels and washcloths on the towel rack and screwed the cap back on the gallon jug. He hadn't brought any socks with him to the bathroom, though, and the floor was cool against his feet. When he came out into the front room again, Sam had stripped the dirty sheets from their bed and was kneeling in front of the fire, poking at it and hissing when he nearly burned himself. He looked up at Dean. "Get the bread and stuff?"

"Sure." Dean put on socks and boots and went out on the front porch. The wind had picked up since yesterday, but the sky was mostly clear; the clouds were high and light, travelling fast. The yard between the house and the garage was full of dirty brown puddles.

Dean picked up the plastic bag he'd stashed by the door last night and brought it inside. The bread and the hot dogs and the grated cheese had all thawed overnight, and he wondered if they could make cheese sandwiches and toast them without the cheese falling out. Sam was lying back on the bed now, communing with his phone. Dean kicked his boots off again and sat down next to Sam, setting out their breakfast and checking to see how much marshmallow stickiness was left on the toasting forks.

"No, that's fine," Sam said. "That won't — sure, we can do that. Yeah. Thanks again, Gloria. You've been great about this. Yeah, okay." He put the phone down and looked up at Dean. "The water's draining away already," he said, "but it might take a while to get the road fixed. Gloria says we can stay as long as we need, and I thought—"

"What?" Dean set the hot dogs down and turned towards Sam.

"Well, if we stay till the power comes back, we can do some laundry." Sam jerked his chin at the dirty sheets. "I just thought maybe they'd appreciate if we didn't leave... that."

"Yeah," Dean said. This wasn't a motel, and there were some things he really didn't want to share with either Gloria or her grandmother.

Sam looked at Dean through his lashes. "I know you wanted to leave as soon as possible. There isn't a lot to do out here."

The fire crackled. Somewhere outside, a bird started to sing.

"No, we can stay here a while longer," Dean said, dropping back on his elbows so he was shoulder to shoulder with Sam. They'd have to put down fresh sheets tonight. "I'm good."

Sam smiled brilliantly at him. "Yeah," he said. "We're good."

* * *

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