Summary: Sam hugs Dean.
a/n: Very, very quick fic done to bribe checkthemargins to write a pretend-to-be-husbands on a ship fic for big bang. Maybe this is really weird and not what you wanted at all, but I have to go watch a movie and aaaah. Thank you britomart_is for threatening me in a joyful manner with the Lion King. Title from Cat Power, idk guys I am in a rush. Ta da!
Dean is buying tickets to Night of the Living Dead 8 when Sam slides his arms around him from behind and buries his face in the junction of Dean's neck and shoulder. Which is, incidentally, a place he loves Sam's face. But Sam shouldn't know that because they are brothers, a fact established and well-worn into the perfect argument against, and holy shit, is this hug going on and on, or what?
"Excuse me, sir?" The ticket girl says. Then smiles good-naturedly, "Or, sirs, really?" She has a smile for Sam, too.
"Buh?" Dean says, a close approximation to 'what', although maybe in some other language.
"I said, that will be sixteen-fifty."
Dean gets his wallet out of his pocket somehow and hands over the cash. Sam has yet to let go.
The hug is warm to the point of toe-curling. There are parents walking by with their kids and there's an every-day rabble of conversation. He's not freaked, some wires are just crossing. He thinks, they're not in some muddy road in the rain, blood running down Sam's back. He hasn't just clawed himself out of a grave. There is no reason for this hug.
He remains calm, accepts his change, and elbows Sam so they can walk to the theater like normal people. At this point, he would usually make a comment on Illinois, how eight bucks didn't used to be cheap. He'd say, remember those times we'd go to the three dollar matinee, or sneak in. How we'd sit way in the back and share a big popcorn and leave the bag on the ground when we left.
Dean doesn't say any of this. They enter the theater and Sam is on edge. This was supposed to be a day off.
The first two horror trailers feature unrealistic monsters that relax both of them at least a little. Dean says, just above a whisper, "You gonna tell me what that was all about?"
Sam doesn't answer until the previews are almost through. When he does, he sounds pathetic, even at low volume. "I thought you were—Sorry, later, I—"
"Never mind, shut up," Dean tells him, nudging their elbows together. "I'm trying to watch a movie here."
Sam finally chills out, he can feel it. They're sitting in the back, like always. Dean leans into him on the excuse that he gets the arm rest because he's older.
Dean is not dead. If he says it enough, he'll believe it, especially lately with Sam thinking he's dead all the time, giving him huge, unexpected hugs that would be nice except it means hallucinations. So, one of them's got to have conviction on this subject.
Bobby told him to deal. Ness told him to deal. He tried smiling like Frank said, and had forced his thoughts to cowboys and the wild west, just to keep it together, his happy place, while Sam curled up against the car door. Dean is not dead. Not at all, not even a little bit, even when he feels numb to his boots when he stares at his reflection in the morning and at night. He uses alcohol like glue, and he's in the habit of washing his face and blood from under his nails while taking a few swigs from a bottle, no big.
"You are literally brushing your teeth with a bottle of Jack," Sam tells him, shoulder blades against the wall. "This is becoming a thing."
"Nothing wrong with the occasional nightcap," Dean tells him. He dries his face with a towel. "And whiskey tastes like shit after you brush your teeth. Don't know why they don't sell toothpaste that will jive with half of America's beverages of choice. People, man—"
When he looks up, thinking it's nice he and Sam are just doing their hang-out-in-the-bathroom routine, Sam looks shell-shocked and on the edge of sliding down the wall and rocking, arms tight around his knees.
Dean drops the towel. "Hey."
Sam pulls Dean against him, and Dean's getting used to this, being manhandled into a tight hug while Sam holds on like he's thanking god for his brother. It has the awkward affect of Dean feeling majorly depressed and also awkwardly happy. It's not a feeling he gets often.
"Tell you something else that's becoming a thing," he says, when it's been at least a minute. He presses his fingers into Sam's side, and hard, proving they're here. "Octopus arms."
"It's not a thing," Sam mutters into his hair.
"It's not a thing."
It's a thing.
They're at a dive in Louisville. There's some bluegrass twanging low over the radio and there's the snap of pool balls as they collide and spin out across tables in the back. Dean's hitting on six foot brunette and change, getting back into the swing of things, when he hears a creak of the bar stool next to him.
He ignores it. He and Sam got in an argument that morning over laundry, and, while these things do happen, he's not going to be the first to give in. He is going to hold out for a while and have some normal, human interaction for the love of—He remembers to pay attention.
"Grad school, huh?" he asks.
Elise nods. "Yeah, I'm three years in, four more to go."
"Cheers to no end in sight," Dean says.
It gets a laugh, a big smile. "Well that's one way of putting it."
Dean hears Sam order a PBR and guilt finally gets the better of him. He sighs and turns in his stool so he's at least part-welcoming Sam into the conversation. He's not a total dick, even if his white shirts are now pink.
"Elise, this is Sam," he says. "Sam, Elise."
"Nice to meet you," she says, looking interested. Dean counts this as a loss.
"I was a chem major in undergrad," Sam says, and then there's a hand sliding over Dean's lower back, making his skin prickle everywhere, all the way up the nape of his neck. "Switched to pre-law, though. I hated O Chem."
"Oh, chemistry," Elise says.
Dean notes that she is fond of lame jokes and, sure enough, she and Sam hit off. He thinks, shifting on his stool so the angle's not so obvious, at least Sam isn't outright hugging him in a dive bar, one full of people who have seen so little in their lives that their sensibilities could be offended by a show of affection.
When Sam orders another drink half an hour later, Elise leans in, all strawberry lipgloss, to whisper. "You didn't tell me you were taken."
Dean says, "Yeah, well."
Somehow, the conversation gets cozy and cheerful, rather than riddled with come-ons. He wants to roll his eyes through half of it, but they draw him in and he realizes he's only bought two drinks the whole night and he's somehow ended up tucked against Sam's side. He feels pleased but is embarrassed and squashes that down in favor of feeling martyred. Dean suffers a lot at the hands of his brother and hot chicks alike.
The lame puns continue until one AM when Elise says she has class at eight, and gets up to go.
Dean turns on Sam. "Thanks. Really, dude. Nice work."
Sam doesn't pretend not to know what he's talking about. He looks smug and says, "well, someone didn't believe me, after years of doing laundry, not to throw in the red shirt."
"I'm only going easy on you because of you-know-what," Dean grumbles, not wanting to talk about Lucifer in a bar, like they're on first-name basis.
Sam knows how to push his advantage.
Sometimes Dean wakes up to Sam pulling aside the covers of his bed to slide in next to him. Nightmares blow, know from experience, and besides—
He falls asleep before he can finish the thought, rolling in toward Sam for ease of hugging. This variation is arguably Dean's favorite.
"I'm not judging," Sheriff Mills tells them.
She's lying. She doesn't know what to do with how Sam shoved his way into the house and pulled Dean against his side, and how Dean had just gone with it. They're in their thirties. She looks wide-eyed, like maybe she knows what's going on in Dean's pants right about now. Dean reminds himself tiredly that this isn't normal.
"I have hallucinations that Dean is killing himself or dying some other gruesome death," Sam says.
Dean goes tense under his arm, so Sam pulls him in closer. Dean takes a few deep breaths, and wishes they were alone, just for a second, so he could say something like, "none of it's real, Sammy." or "You're the strongest person I've ever met."
Sam and Sherrif Mills really bonded when Dean was in the past. He doesn't seem bothered by the situation, and says, "Thanks for helping out on this case, by the way."
She spreads out some papers on the table and blinks a lot. "Yeah, well. He would have wanted it."
They share a moment of silence, and then get to work.
The road is icy and it's seven o'clock in the morning. It's Valentine's day. It's not a fitting time to die.
It's not a fitting time to die, but Dean hits a corner going too fast, and he almost kills them anyway, despite it being before their morning coffee and after saving twenty people the night before in a cult run by a moth person. The sleep-logged and heroes alike are vulnerable to death.
He goes into the turn too fast and slams on the brakes and skids out so the world flips around them in a calm, nauseating spin that is out of his control. His last thought is going to be "Sam", plain and simple, all weight attached and weightless hopes, as well. He doesn't want to die, he realizes, because they might go opposite directions, and damned if he wants to find out what that's like again. It would just be redundant.
It takes an uncounted amount of minutes to realize he's lazing his head around on wrenched shoulders, forehead against the wheel. Thankfully, he's only bleeding slightly at the hairline when he reaches up a shaking hand to touch where he feels a tickling that too often means blood.
Sam is only dazed when Dean looks over. He's shaking out a hand like maybe he hurt his wrist, but then Dean can't see his face because he's gotten out of the car, and is crunching through snow that's in clumps along the road where the Impala had ended up, nudging a tree trunk but like they're friends rather than collision partners.
"It's possible I have a concussion," Dean says, conversationally, when he yanks Sam's door open.
"That was a close one," Sam says, looking up at him. "At least it was real, though."
"That's one way of looking at it." There's always been a choice between real life disaster and mental breaks, and he's never sure which one is better really.
Sam gets out and slams the door behind him and laughs. He shivers a little, rubbing his hands over his arms, and then runs hands through his hair. Dean watches him. Sam then looks at the sky and has snowflakes on his face in a few seconds but they melt immediately. Dean's going through the stages of shock quickly, but trying not to realize he almost killed Sam, this was his doing.
He's got a palm against Sam's neck before he thinks any further on it, Sam's already up against the car so Dean pushes him against it more firmly, saying, "Two feet on the ground."
Sam laughs again. "I think I can do that."
"Jesus," Dean says, pulling him into a hug himself this time. Sam pulls him in right back.
Maybe this is his favorite, Dean thinks, feeling snowflakes melt between their cheeks.