Cut and (Bleed) Dry

Sam/Dean. NC-17. ~5000 words. Set during 1.09, Home.
Lawrence is the last place Dean wants to go.

Jess has been dead for six months and three days.

But that’s not how he thinks of it. Instead, he thinks, Sam came back six months and three days ago. For six months, three days, Sam’s been in the passenger seat.

It’s ten to midnight. They’re on the highway heading towards Kansas, no moon in the cloudy sky, the only light the green of the radio and the dim glow beneath the speedometer. Sam’s asleep beside him, head jammed up against the window, legs a careless sprawl. The music’s down low so he can hear the steady, quiet huff of Sam’s breath.

Lawrence is the last place Dean wants to go. There’s nothing left for them there, but Sam’s stubborn. Dead set on getting what he wants and damn everything else to hell.

Dean scrubs a hand over his face and picks up his cold coffee. He’s been driving for hours on a flat stretch of road without even a billboard for company and it’s getting to him.

But he’ll wait until Sam wakes up, see how they’re both feeling. Sam needs the sleep more than he does.

Sam wouldn’t tell him anything more about the visions. The viscous guilt in Sam’s eyes keeps him from pressing too hard, but no matter what Sam says, he doesn’t believe it belongs there. Knowing something’s going to happen doesn’t mean you can stop it. Dean knows that better than anyone, and so should Sam.

Cotton rustles on leather as Sam shifts away from the door and curls halfway onto the seat. His face is turned towards Dean, relaxed except for the slight movement of his eyes beneath closed lids. Dreaming pointless, Disney dreams, Dean hopes. No fire, no screams, no death.

Dean considers waking him up, just in case. Passing it off as being too tired to keep driving, demanding Sammy haul his weight ’cause it’s not a free ride around here. There’d probably be some token bitching on Sam’s part, but if the dreams were nightmares, he’d have that haunted look to his eyes, murmur thanks instead of complaints into Dean’s ear.

Dean doesn’t want to risk it. He follows the faded white line painted down the centre of the road until morning.

*

Sam hit puberty with a vengeance. He went from a chubby, snot-nosed kid to this guy with Sam’s eyes and Sam’s goofy hair, but all long legs and big hands and lean runner’s muscle, this low voice and slender, angled face. It was like somebody had reached into Dean’s head and plucked out every wet dream he’d ever had, moulded them into flesh, bone and blood.

This is what they created, Sam at seventeen, hustling Dean up against cheap, water-stained wallpaper. Sam, hunched over because he’s got three inches plus on Dean and that was the only way he could bring their mouths close enough together.

“Sammy, c’mon, wait.” Dean tasted Sam’s breath, mint toothpaste layered over the lingering grease of breakfast. He was twenty years old and had spent more time in motels than school, had been with almost as many girls as monsters he’d killed, and neither of those had so quickly turned his knees to jelly as the feather-light touch of Sam’s lips. “We-”

“What?” Sam said, voice too loud, too strong to be the whisper something that secret deserved. “It’s been weeks. I want to kiss you.”

Dean would’ve closed his eyes and said a prayer, but knew the minute his guard was down Sam would be on him and nobody was listening anyway. Nobody except their father who was less than thirty feet away with nothing but a couple thin sheets of plywood between him and the moan trying to claw its way up Dean’s throat.

It was easy to protect himself against getting attached to the Podunk towns they passed through, from falling too far out of lust and a little bit in love with the girls who spread their legs for him, because he didn’t need any of it.

But Sammy, Sammy, he needed. A need so bad it mutated into want like something alive in him, with its own pulse already synched to the steady rhythm of Sam’s heartbeat. He’d locked it down, pushed it aside, lived with this thing growing in the dark inside him for years until one day he’d looked up and Sam was watching him and he realised: Sam knows.

Sam ducked his head, his smile a fist in Dean’s gut. “We won’t get caught,” he said, the promise a soft puff of warmth against Dean’s lips. He pushed a thigh between Dean’s legs, eyes glinting in the low light filtering through the blinds. “Don’t care anyway.”

An illicit thrill raced down Dean’s spine made of more than just Sam’s mouth on his, or the firm press of Sam’s body, all hard, sharp lines, or the fact that it was his brother and Dean wanted him every fucking minute of every fucking day.

Sam honestly didn’t give a shit. Dean thought that meant he wanted it just as bad.

*

Missouri creeps the fuck out of him. She’s nice, pleasant in that plump, stereotypical middle-aged black woman way, but the first thing she does is pluck the thoughts straight out of Sam’s head and that’s it.

Sam thinks it’s fantastic. He laughs with her, shares shy, secret smiles as if they’ve got something in common just because she’s a mind-reader and he sees the future.

Carefully, Dean keeps his hands to himself and tries to arrange his thoughts so the only thing she’ll catch if she goes fishing is that he wasn’t going to put his feet on the coffee table, thanks, and they’re here because they’ve got a job to do.

He focuses on the cadence of Sam’s voice as they talk because it’s familiar, helps him think, and he’s not really interested in the answers she’s giving to Sam’s questions. He doesn’t realise his mistake until it’s too late; Missouri’s dark gaze arrows in on his and she says, “Come give me a hand, Dean.”

Sam barely glances up. Dean scrubs his palms dry on his jeans and follows her shadow into the kitchen with its old, 1960s fridge and chipped enamel oven.

Dean’s not sure what he expects, but it isn’t being handed a knife and a tomato and told to start slicing.

“Well, c’mon boy, these sandwiches aren’t going to make themselves.”

Warily, he picks off the little sticker on the tomato and shoves it under a cool stream of water to rinse it off. When he sets it on the bare counter, she clucks her tongue and points to the cutting board propped up behind a tiny cookie jar with yellow daisies on the front.

“John was proud of you,” she says. “Used to talk all the time about how you knew your way around the kitchen, whipped up good meals for him and Sam.”

Dean concentrates on making smooth, even slices of tomato, thin enough to see through if held up to the light. It was always easier to pile them on the sandwiches that way, get the taste in every bite without half their lunches spilled into their laps. Sometimes, Sammy would pick them out and roll them up, eat them just like that with a dash of salt.

But he hasn’t seen Sam do that in awhile and wonders if it’s still true.

“You must be glad to have him back.”

Dean drops the knife, turns to her with a charming, edgy smile plastered across his face. They might need her help but that doesn’t mean she has the right.

“Look,” he says, voice tight and low to keep Sam from hearing. “You got something to say, you say it.”

She’s taken aback, her eyes a little sad. She reaches out to touch his hand and he jerks his chin in a quick no, teeth ground together to keep from spitting her hospitality back in her face.

Softly, she says, “Your daddy was hoping you’d grow past all that.”

Dean can’t help it; he laughs, sharp and bitter and too loud, because he hears the scrape of Sam’s chair on the hardwood, knows that in a second, Sam’ll be in the doorway wondering why the hell Dean’s being such an asshole.

“Yeah, well.” Back of his neck prickling, Dean picks the knife back up and finishes cutting the tomato. “Dad always aimed his hopes a little too high.”

*

Dean came home in the evening from his shitty job pumping gas to find the apartment humming with silent tension. It was a solid, gut-clenching wall just inside the door, thick as sludge and just as hard to push through.

John sat at the kitchen table, hunched and scowling at a tattered old notebook. Dean dropped his empty lunchbag on the counter, said, “Hey, Dad,” and got a grunted, “Son,” in response.

Lifting his gaze, Dean saw the flicker of the television in the living room, Sam’s tousled hair just visible over the back of the couch. Without meaning to, he breathed in the stress in the air, felt it coalesce in his lungs; he’d been gone too long and they’d fought, snapped and snarled at each other like junkyard dogs until they’d exhausted themselves, finally slunk away, seething, to lick their wounds.

He’d seen the aftermath dozens of times, and like every time before, knew he should’ve been there.

“Feelin’ pretty trashed,” he said, one eye on the living room as he rooted through the bottles stuck in the fridge door for a beer. “Just gonna relax a bit before making dinner, okay?”

John nodded curtly, not lifting his eyes from the chicken-scratch text in front of him. Dean cracked open his beer on the edge of the stove and headed down the hallway, heart jerking in his chest at the metal creak of the old couch’s springs.

He wasn’t even inside the bedroom before Sam’s hands gripped his waist and shoved him over the threshold. Kicking the door shut, Sam threw the lock, grabbed up two tight handfuls of his shirt and spun him around, slammed him up against it.

On the bottle, Dean’s knuckles went white. Spilled beer and condensation dripped over his fingers. He thought about telling Sam to keep it the fuck down, about warning him off with a curse and we can’t do this here, but didn’t. He saw the edgy desperation twisting Sam’s face and tilted his head back, offered up his mouth to the hard scrape of Sam’s teeth.

It was like a drug: the more they fought, the more Sam wanted him. Sam’s secret, sick rebellion rubbed in their father’s face, every kiss a hissed look at what you’ve made me, every time he came with Dean’s name on his lips a snarled hate me, hate me because I do this to my brother.

Dean listened to the clatter of a kitchen chair shoved over. He closed his eyes and ignored it, arched into Sam’s wide hand tugging at his cock and when Sam asked him to, moaned Sammy even louder.

*

Walking up the neat stone path to the front of their old house for the second time in as many days, a cold, heavy dread curls up in the pit of Dean’s stomach like a death curse.

He tells himself it wasn’t so bad. With so much distance between then and now, all the homes that it’s been through the years, it doesn’t much resemble his memories. There’s the smell of hardwood polish (not ash), the crisp white paint (not scorch marks) on the walls, the pink frills of a young girl’s (not a baby’s) room.

Sam keeps tossing him worried glances over Missouri’s head. After, when she sends them out for supplies, Sam drives. Dean rolls his eyes and slumps irritably in the passenger’s seat.

He already regrets calling their father. John’s not going to show up because if it were important enough, he’d already be here, visions or no visions. And if Sam knew what he’d done, they’d be fighting about it right now. Half the time Dean thinks the only reason Sam wants to find him is so they can have a few rounds for old time’s sake. For the other half, he doesn’t know what to think.

Finally, Sam says, “You okay, man?”

“Fuckin’ peachy.”

Sam’s lips twist. Not a smile, not a grimace, something in between that’s only ever there when it’s just the two of them. Sam has an entire catalogue of expressions that are for Dean’s eyes only: a quirked eyebrow paired with this smile, a heavy slant to his eyes with that one.

Mouth gone slack and pupils blown, hair clumped into messy spikes from Dean’s hands fisted in it.

They both know he’s not fine but they’re good at pretending.

*

As soon as he heard the rumble of the Impala’s engine, Dean made for the front door. He’d been going nuts all evening, ever since he came back to find the house empty and a hastily-scribbled note stuck to the fridge door.

Sam and John on a hunt without him. A small, easy hunt, except not so easy John didn’t want the backup and not so small it couldn’t have waited until Dean got home. Those days, they couldn’t be in the same room together or the angry spark between them would ignite the air, burn up every last scrap of oxygen and leave Dean gasping in Sam’s furious aftermath.

His hand touched the cool doorknob and he froze, listening. In the still winter quiet, he could hear the crunch of boots on old snow, the rough hiss in their voices as they struggled to argue viciously enough to satisfy themselves but not let Dean and the world and God hear every word.

Carefully, Dean turned the knob, eased the door open a fraction. Heat crept up the back of his neck; funny, how he could feel guilty at eavesdropping but the flush that stained his bare skin beneath Sam’s hands had nothing to do with shame. Funny, and telling.

“You think I don’t see? You look at me when I’m talking to you, Samuel.”

The slam of a door, Sam’s voice, “Yeah, and what do you see, Dad?”

“What you’re doing to him.”

“What’s that?”

“Sam.” A low growl.

“Can’t even say it, huh?”

Dean’s hand tightened on the doorknob. He could’ve stopped them right there. Could’ve flung the door wide and stared them down, made them both shut up just by existing.

“It’s not right, Sammy-”

“Don’t you call me that. Don’t you ever call me that. That’s his.”

Flesh thudded heavily against flesh. Sam gasped in startled pain and Dean lurched forward, would’ve gone to him then except-

Except Sam laughed.

“Learned it from you,” Sam said, and spit. Behind closed eyes, Dean saw the bright splash of red on the dirty brown snow. “Not much difference, when you think about it. You say jump, he says, ‘how high?’. I say fuck me, he says, ‘how hard?’”

Silence, pure and damning.

“Too late now anyway, right? School cashed the cheque, I’m in. He gave me the money, signed the papers. You know that, too? Guess you didn’t really think it all the way through when you made him a guardian, huh. Didn’t think he’d ever fuckin’ dare.”

Long, long minutes passed. Dean rested his forehead on the doorframe, heart kicking like a panicked rabbit against his ribs.

Then, John’s voice, “Is that why?”

Dean wrenched the door open, stepped out onto the stoop in his bare feet and hardly felt the icy stab of cold. Shocked, they both looked up, sick grief on their father’s face, stubborn pride and pain writ clear across Sam’s in blood and tears.

“Inside,” Dean rasped. “Both of you.”

John didn’t say anything as he grabbed a duffle from the backseat and climbed the steps. Didn’t meet Dean’s eyes as he passed by and disappeared into the gloom of the house, into the back where he’d set up a small office.

Dean jerked his chin and waited for Sam to follow before leading the way to the cramped bathroom. Sam’s presence a weight against his skin, he poured warm water into the basin, nodded at the edge of the tub and wrung up a cloth as Sam sat.

Gently, gaze on the split in Sam’s lip instead of the shadows in Sam’s eyes, Dean sponged the dark red stains away. The tiny space slowly filled with the smell of Sam’s sweat and smoke and the things that never should’ve been between them.

Long fingers crept beneath Dean’s shirt, curled under his jeans, blunt nails scraping the shivering flesh of his belly. He kept his eyes open and let Sam drag him down into a kiss that tasted like blood.

A black, smug voice in the back of his head that wasn’t really Sam said, You can’t rape the willing, and Dean thought, But I’ll let you use me.

*

The first thing Sam says when he’s got enough breath, voice fucked to hell by the thin wire lamp cord, is Dean’s name.

“Gotcha,” Dean says, holding on tight but feeling absolutely useless because Sam’s not in danger any more, his windpipe’s not crushed, he’ll be okay and there’s nothing Dean can do to make him be okay any sooner. “Son of a bitch is gone, Sammy, you’re good.”

“God,” Sam wheezes, slumping back, eyes sliding shut. “Why’s it always the throat.”

“Guess they just can’t help themselves.”

Slowly, almost like he’s afraid to show Dean what he’s thinking, Sam reopens his eyes. The smile slides right off Dean’s face like melted wax and that’s how Missouri finds them, oblivious to her shuffle-limp steps or her heavy, laboured breathing.

“Boys,” she says, “we should check the house. Jenny and the kids’ll be home soon.”

“Yeah.” Dean rocks back on his heels and stands, hauling Sam up with one arm, hands clasped just beneath one another’s elbows.

Downstairs, when she thinks Dean isn’t looking, she gives Sam a helpless, pitying look. Sam stares back, shoulders set and jaw clenched, until she turns away.

*

The asphalt outside the bus depot baked in the bone-dry heat, the air above it rippling waves in a glassy pond. Sam stood in the shade with a duffle slung over his shoulder, another in a lopsided lump by his feet. Everything he owned in two dull army-green bags, and secreted away between an old, grease-stained shirt and some battered, dog-eared novels, a few things he thought he could do without but Dean knew he shouldn’t.

“Bus isn’t due for another hour,” Dean said. The Impala’s back door creaked as he swung it open. “Put that shit in here.”

Curious eyes on Dean, Sam stuffed the bags in, locked the door and shut it. He cocked a hip against the frame, waiting, that familiar knowing twist to his expression.

Dean turned his back on it, nonchalantly rounded the corner to the grungy public washrooms out back. His skin prickled at the sound of Sam following, footsteps deliberately heavy.

Dean watched in the mirror as a bright sliver of sunlight knifed into the gloom before Sam filled the doorway, blocking it. It was hotter inside than out, the air rancid, more mould than grout between the tiles.

“Door doesn’t lock,” Sam said.

Cockier than he felt, Dean countered, “You care?”

Sam kept his distance. Dean felt like screaming, giving voice to the want clogging up his lungs. Instead, he thumbed open his jeans, leaned back against the rusty, water-stained wall, spread his legs.

“Figured you’d appreciate a goodbye fuck, Sammy.”

By the light of the single fizzing florescent bulb, Dean tracked the bob of Sam’s throat as he swallowed. “One for the road?”

“Yeah,” Dean said, rougher than he’d meant to. Sam took one step closer, then another, almost there. “Gotta give me something to remember you by, don’tcha?”

The ache lingered for hours, the bruises for weeks, the loss of Sam like a phantom limb for four years, three months, ten days.

*

They don’t stay the night in Kansas. Dean points them north and keeps driving, straight through Nebraska almost into Wyoming. The sharp stab between Dean’s shoulder blades doesn’t fade until the Kansas dust is lost in the wind. By the time evening closes in, it feels like all that dirt’s come back and been packed inside his skull.

“Pull over,” Sam says, sleep-groggy.

“Nothin’ here but scrub brush and dirt.”

“Gotta take a leak.”

After a sideways glance, Dean slows, pulls off onto the shoulder. Sam stumbles into the empty twilight and Dean climbs out, slings his arms over the heated roof and watches as Sam picks a scraggly tree a couple dozen feet away. He’s steadier on the way back, more awake, the dark bruises on his throat a stark contrast to his fading tan.

“Good?” Dean asks, poised to get back on the road.

“In a minute.” Sam tucks his hands in his hoodie, leans against his car with his back to Dean. Quiet settles over them like a soft cotton sheet, barely there but noticeable.

“Quit thinkin’ so loud, Sammy.”

Sam lets out one soft, short laugh. “Guess it’s a good thing Dad didn’t show, huh?”

“Yeah?” Dean swallows, throat gone as dry as the ground. “Why’s that?”

“I knew you’d call him,” Sam says to the horizon.

“Because I actually want to find him.”

Sam twists to look over his shoulder, and whatever’s on Dean’s face is not what he wants to see. He rounds the front bumper and Dean backs away from the car, keeps the illusion of distance between them.

“Do you, Dean? I mean, do you really?”

Beneath Sam’s steady gaze, Dean can almost feel the protective layers of skin and muscle sloughing off, leaving him with nothing but raw nerve endings open to Sam’s touch. Dread wells up like blood from a heart wound. He’s always known that keeping one meant losing the other, but now that he’s got Sam back, he’s not sure he can do it all over again.

“‘Course I do.”

Sam hesitates. A cool breeze ruffles his hair as he shakes his head. “I’m driving.”

The keys are still in the ignition. Sam drops into the seat, not leaving any room for negotiations that won’t turn into a fight. Reluctantly, Dean crosses the front, ignores the prickle of Sam watching him through the windshield.

Sam doesn’t start the car. Dean settles down to wait, barely makes it ten minutes before he snarls, “What?”

Glancing first into the rearview mirror and then at Dean, Sam asks, in a low tone that snaps every instinct Dean’s got to full attention, “You remember?”

Dean thinks about playing dumb, blowing Sam off with an eyeroll and a grunt, but he does remember. Memories like that don’t ever just evaporate, expelled on an irritated puff of air.

He remembers because of the thrill, the undercurrent of wrong, so wrong that’d shortened his breath. The feel of Sam’s hand wrapped tight around his dick beneath the layers of their jackets as he feigned sleep in the backseat, his eyes open to narrow slits and glued on the rearview for the barest flicker of John’s attention.

He’d passed out seconds after he’d come, wrung out from bloodloss and pleasure and glad of it because there was no mistaking the smell of spunk in the close, stuffy confines of the car in midsummer.

Dean rubs his fingertips over tingling lips. They don’t need to do this anymore. They’ve been together again for over half a year and Sam hasn’t made a move but Dean’s been okay. Been okay enough.

“You really want me to answer that?”

Sam’s voice goes careful. “If I say it’ll make me stay, you’ll say you remember, won’t you.” He looks over out of the corners of his eyes. “If I ask for it.”

There’s no right answer. He can’t lie and he can’t tell the truth and that leaves him with absolutely nothing. One day, Dean will forget himself, wish that just once, he could have exactly what he wants exactly the way he wants it, and the only thing that’ll be listening to him will be a demon with a point to prove.

“Then don’t ask,” Dean says, which is more than not lying but a lot less than truth.

Guilt fills Sam’s eyes, creeping deep and dark as an oil spill. The world outside has gone corpse-still, silent; inside, the only thing that lets Dean know he’s still alive is the brutal thud of his heartbeat.

Avoiding his gaze, Sam says, “I don’t know if I can.”

If he means live without or live with, Dean doesn’t know. He feels like he’s been dropped down the rabbit hole, woken up in the middle of a hedge maze that isn’t a maze at all, it’s just his life laid out in a straight line with an entrance and an exit and they’re both one in the same.

“What do you want, Sam?”

Sam makes a harsh, guttural noise, fist clenched like he’s going to punch the wheel. “Just tell me no. Christ, Dean, just tell me no.”

Dean twists in the seat, hand slapped on the dash. “You want me to push you away, that it? Want me to tell you how bad you fucked everything up, fucked me up, ’cause you’re a selfish little bitch?” Bile burns the back of his throat, turns his voice to a thick, gummy rasp. “That what you want?”

“No,” Sam whispers, but Dean hears yes, sees it in the way Sam folds in on himself, kicked-dog cringe.

“Yeah, well, too bad, Sammy, ’cause you did. But don’t worry. Nobody ever fucked me good as you did.”

Colour drains from Sam’s face. His eyes are suddenly bright sparks against his ash-white skin, banked embers, proof that one slow breath, one careful touch, will bring the fire roaring back.

“Don’t say that,” he hisses.

“Doesn’t turn your crank anymore? ‘Cause I didn’t forget a thing, not a fucking thing. How you’d fuck me, tell me I was yours, how hard you’d get off hearing me-” and he’s going to throw up, he can feel it, gorge rising, acid-burn, but he drops his voice to a moan, plays it out the only way he’s ever known how, “yeah, Sammy, all fucking yours.”

Sam’s fist is a blur. Dean drops his shoulder, wrenches the door open just as Sam lunges at him and they tumble out into the dirt. It coats the inside of his mouth as they roll, a tangle of blocked punches and vicious kicks. Training wins out over everything between them; Dean knows the second his brain shuts down because it’s too fucking much and he sinks into muscle memory with pure, blessed relief.

Sam clips his jaw, follows up and makes him see stars. Head down, shoulder up, Dean’s elbow to Sam’s solar plexus but he misses, nails Sam’s sternum instead. Would’ve cracked it except Sam tucks and rolls, messes up the angle.

Blood pounds in his ears, everything else fading beneath the drumbeat rhythm. His world narrows down to him and Sam and the looming, inevitable agony of shattered bones.

Dean twists out of Sam’s grip, gets one leg under him and goes down again, hard. His chin hits the dry-packed dirt and his teeth smash together, white-hot pain shooting up his jaw and down his neck. It dazes him just long enough for Sam to get ahold of his wrists, pin his legs with two-hundred plus pounds of muscle and spring-loaded fury.

Grit digs into his cheek. He can’t see anything except the grey dirt in front of his face, feel anything except Sam’s weight pressing him down into it. His whole body aches and it’s got nothing to do with the blood-rich bruises forming beneath his skin.

“You wanna fuck me, Sammy?” Sam shifts and Dean tenses, fighting to keep from closing his eyes against the stomach-turning thrill as Sam’s breath touches the side of his neck. “Right here on the side of the road, you want it to be like that?”

Warm, dry lips brush his temple. “No,” Sam says, and that yes is still there, lurking in the dark, but then, “Not just like that.”

The pressure on Dean’s wrists lifts. Sam braces a hand on the ground beside his face, moves to hands and knees above him. It takes a long time for Dean to roll over but Sam waits quietly until they’re face to face. Then, unsteady and raw, “Do you want it?”

Dean still has nothing but a handful of wrong answers as thin and choking as the dust he’s covered in. Sam won’t believe yes is for himself and no won’t squeeze past the knot in his throat. You want it isn’t good enough, I don’t have a real choice might kill them both.

“It’s been five years, almost,” Dean hears himself say.

End

3 Responses to “Cut and (Bleed) Dry”

  1. Amber Says:

    That is just so heartbreakingly Dean…

  2. Alexa_Dean Says:

    Heart scattered across the road in pieces and eyes welling up . . .

  3. JenIsaks Says:

    God love this, great work,thanks.

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