Standing in the Middle of Yesterday

Sam/Dean. NC-17. ~3500 words. Underage.
People always have secrets. Dean’s problem is he keeps trying to give his away.

After that one last shot at him, Sam doesn’t bring up Cassie again. Dean’s glad of it. He doesn’t need to be reminded that normal won’t work for him and he sure as hell doesn’t want to hear that betrayed hitch in his brother’s voice ever again.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t choking up the silent air between them, creeping into his lungs like a cancer.

But Sam’s normal wasn’t so normal after all. Just a little this side of it where it still doesn’t matter how much you love someone, there will always be something you can’t tell them. It could be that Dean just didn’t love Cassie enough, or Sam loved Jess too much. It didn’t feel that way, but maybe, if they’d had the chance, he could’ve tried harder.

People always have secrets. Dean’s problem is he keeps trying to give his away.

*

Sam started making eyes at the Impala when he hit fifteen. Dad vetoed it straight off, even if the argument that Sam’s legs couldn’t reach the pedals didn’t really cut it anymore.

Dean figured you gotta start ‘em early or they’ll never learn. Letting Sam under the hood as a compromise just ended up proving him right.

“No, Sammy, Jesus- you’re gonna-”

“What?” Up to his elbows in grease and dirt, Sam whirled on him, banging the wrench around deep in the Impala’s guts. Dean winced. “You said tighten it.”

“Well, yeah, but you gotta,” Dean gestured vaguely, “you gotta go easy on the girl. She doesn’t go for tough love.”

“Fine.” The wrench nailed Dean right in the sternum. “You do it. I’m gonna go get dinner or something.”

Instant conflict. On the one hand, Sam not sending the car to an early junkyard? Good. On the other, Sam storming off in a hissy fit because he can’t do something? Recipe for future moping. And Sam could mope. Champion moper.

“C’mon, hang on.”

Sam paused, turned and huffed like a ten-year old in pigtails. “What.”

“I’m a crappy teacher or something. We’ll give it another shot. Getting late anyways, might as well just keep going and grab burgers tonight.”

Sam leaned forward and inch, maybe two. “Gonna let me drive?”

“Oh, hell no.” Like quicksilver, Sam’s face turned stormy, those few tiny inches Dean had gained gone in a puff of smoke. “Dad’ll kill me, Sammy, c’mon. I’ll, uh, you pick the music, okay?”

Sam’s smile popped back so fast Dean knew without a doubt he’d been played. He had a hard time complaining, though, when Sam held out a hand for the wrench, and a harder time denying it when Sam said, “You’re easy.”

*

Jess fades from their lives so gradually it takes about half a year for Dean to notice. Right at the beginning, with the stink of burnt blood and charred flesh still clinging to the backs of their throats, Sam talked about her all the time. Short, staccato bursts of emotion, tiny slivers of their life together that seemed almost unreal, like Sam was reading from someone else’s autobiography.

It goes through cycles, grief to anger and back again, but through it all, no matter how hard he tries to build her up, Jess is just a name to Dean. A name and a pretty face marred by wary caution for the road-stained man grappling with her boyfriend on the kitchen floor, and the reason he has Sam now.

She should be more, he owes Sammy at least that. But it skulks out of him in bits and pieces, a little here when he pushes Sam towards just one more girl, a little more there when he talks about life now instead of life then. It’s there, between the lines, under his words, how he’s not sorry Sam doesn’t talk about her so much anymore.

They’re in Chicago getting ready for the showdown with Meg when Sam picks up Dean’s glittering glass ball of the future and smashes it to dust at his feet, and don’t talk about it again until they’re back on the road, bruised and bloody and beaten.

“Guess you gotta wait another little while, huh?” Dean says, tonguing at the split on his bottom lip. He’s too woozy to be behind the wheel but Sam’s in no better shape and they don’t have a choice. Dean’s used to it; Sam’s still bristling. “Maybe, maybe Stanford’ll keep you, I dunno, active or something. You got plenty of those ‘extenuating circumstances’ schools are always looking for,” and there, his ramble dies out, because Sam’s actually twisted around in the seat listening to him.

Really, really listening. Cataloguing every word and analysing them with eerie precision listening.

Sometimes, Dean feels as transparent and flimsy as the spirits they hunt.

“Just like that?”

“Just like what?”

“Just like that,” Sam repeats, “you’re gonna let me go. Back there you were ready to rip me a new one.”

“Wasn’t.”

“You were, Dean.”

But he wasn’t. It takes him another half a year to figure out why every time Sam talks about leaving, he yanks Dean’s heart out by the root, leaves behind a bloody, gaping hole where he’s supposed to be.

And he still would’ve let Sam go, dragging it through the dirt all the way back to California.

*

Dean started with one-night stands, and for the most part, stayed there.

Junior high was easy. By the time he hit nine, he had love ‘em and leave ‘em down pat. There was a lot less love and a little more leaving, and that didn’t change so much as his definition of love did.

Love, he learned, was plunking your kid brother down on the couch with a blanket, some tissues for his head full of snot and a cup of Big Foot chicken noodle soup for his sore throat. Love was doing what your Dad told you, because Dad knew how to keep you all safe. Love was knowing Mom died, burned up on the ceiling, before you knew how to ride a bike, and the thing it left behind that you didn’t understand until one day when you were standing on the curb outside the Community Centre in Pollocksville, North Carolina, waiting for Sammy to quit screwing around in there and come home.

Dean built his life up around his family and didn’t bother to go looking for the girl of his dreams when the girl next door had nice tits and he wouldn’t be hanging around long enough for her to turn into his white-picket fence.

That’s where Sam, gawky, gangly, all of thirteen years old Sam, came in.

“What the heck is that?”

Dean squinted at the baggie propped up by his thigh, and since it was the exact same baggie he put there a couple minutes ago, said, “Pot.”

“What the heck are you doing?”

“Smokin’ it.”

Dean.”

“Sam~may.”

“Where-”

“One,” Dean said, lifting his head just enough to see the edge of Sam’s scowl, “Dad ain’t ever gonna know ’cause you’re not gonna tell him. Two, ’cause this chick just handed it over and fuck if I’m gonna waste it,” and three, though he never really got around to saying it, because there wasn’t much point in learning to sneak around the law if you weren’t going to abuse it for fun every now and then.

Which is probably what led to him ending with, “You wanna?”

No.”

“Do too, goody-two.” Wrestling with that bitch called gravity, Dean sat up and shuffled over, patted the couch invitingly. “Sit down, get high.” And really, sometimes, Dean just cracked his own shit up.

Dean didn’t honestly expect Sam to plunk himself down without another word and get high as a fucking kite. And to that, all Dean could say was, “Not such a stickler after all, huh?”

Sam grinned, a wide, bright flash of teeth and glassy eyes. “Nope. But you’re not gonna tell Dad?”

“Hell no, Sammy. Gotta stick together.” He knocked a fist against his chest in a promise of livin’-on-the-edge solidarity. “I won’t even tell him you finally got to kissing that biology chick, what’s her name. Lisa? Lisa. Though, y’know that’s good, gettin’ a little worried about ya there, kiddo.”

“Why, thought I was going after your girlfriend or something?”

Dean scoffs. “Not exactly.”

“Well, who’d you think I was gonna kiss then?”

“Maybe boys,” dropped out of Dean’s mouth before he could blink.

“Oh,” Sam said, dazed, slithering off the couch in a boneless heap to flop flat on his belly on the floor. “Guess I could’ve been.”

*

Then Dad’s gone, burned down to a couple pounds of soot and ash, and four months later Dean wakes up one dreary morning to find Sam still there. Cautiously, he pokes at the edges of Sam’s resolve, feels the flimsy, spider-thin strings holding them together shake. Every day, he’s on edge, just waiting for Sam to open his mouth and send Dean tumbling to the ground.

Two months of it and Dean has a decision to make.

Sam ends up making it for him.

“You gonna eat that?” Dean jabs a syrupy fork at the lone piece of bacon languishing on the outskirts of Sam’s plate. “‘Cause if you’re not, gimme.”

“Saving it.”

“For what, the Second Coming? It’s gettin’ cold.”

With deliberately annoying preciseness, Sam manoeuvres the bacon around his hash browns and out of Dean’s sight. He raises an eyebrow, a silent, there, and goes back to piling bits of scrambled egg on toast.

Sam’s weird like that. Doesn’t like the texture of eggs but likes the taste, and claims that a mouthful of eggs-and-toast solves the problem.

“You’re gonna waste it,” Dean grumbles.

“You’re like a child.”

“Ain’t what this pretty little thing said last night, lemme tell you, Sammy-”

“Don’t. Please, Dean, seriously, spare me. Just this one morning, don’t regale me with more tales from Dean Does Backwater America.”

The pained look Sam shoots him is almost enough to shut him up. But since almost only really counts with the important things, like explosions and pregnancy, Dean says, “Why, think you’re enjoying it a little too much? Thought I told you when you were learning how to handle the stick, don’t matter-”

Shut up.

Dean shuts up.

*

They didn’t make a regular habit of it. Too much of anything, Dean used to think, would dull the shine. It was easy to get his hands on some hard liquor but he never let Sam in on that. Sam got bored easily if he thought they didn’t have to work for it.

He figured it was pretty profound that they were closer brothers when they were up to no good. Half the time, it took some deep thinking to figure out what ‘up to no good’ meant for them, since Dad’s definitions didn’t exactly jive with Sam’s current third period language arts teacher. They came down on the side of dodging Dad, which meant dodging the endless parade of concerned teachers, too. More fun that way. Bigger challenge.

That’s how they ended up matching each other shot for shot over a brand new pack of playing cards swiped from the dollar store in a dusty old train station still stuck somewhere in the wild, wild west.

The game was Go Fish because Sam had a vicious sense of humour.

Dean eyed his hand, wracking his brain for the soggy memory of the last few rounds. He knew Sam had a three to match the latest addition but wanted to hold that one in reserve; he had a four-pair lead but Sam’s hand was full, a good chunk of the mates to his cards probably still in the mess between them.

“Your turn,” Sam prodded.

“Man, I know. I’m strategising.”

“Ask me if I got any tens.”

Just for kicks, Dean said, “Got any tens?” and blinked dumbly as Sam grinned, handing one over.

“We’re playing Go Fish, remember, Sammy? Not Old Maid. You’re not gonna win by dumping half your hand on me.”

Sam drunkenly waved that away. “Ask me for a five,” he said, and held a card out.

“I don’t have any fives.”

“Me neither, this one’s a six.”

“You are toasted.”

Sam’s laugh boomed in the skeleton-empty lobby, startling the birds roosted in the dark, shadowy rafters that stuck out of the ceiling like naked ribs. He laughed louder when Dean jumped and scattered his hand in the paper fishing pool, stretched out on top of it square in a slanted sunbeam.

“You know what we should do, Dean?”

Calmly, Dean tugged the upturned three out from underneath Sam’s bony knee and added it to his stack of pairs. “Quit buying you cheap booze?”

“Pft,” Sam said, then again, with another expansive wave of his hands, “pft. We should screw around.”

“Pretty sure you’re supposed to be learning how to conjugate verbs or something, so I think this qualifies as screwing around. Or, y’know, screwing off.”

“Exactly,” Sam breathed, leaning forward with a smug, triumphant smile. “Screw around and get off. We should.”

“You hiding a couple chicks in your backpack? Thought I smelled something girly, figured it was your fruity shampoo.”

Sam rolled onto his stomach and pushed himself up in Dean’s face. “Handjobs.”

Dean’s stomach hit the floor and kept on going. Molten lava siphoned off into the hole it left behind. But he was young, his dick liked ideas like that, his dick wasn’t picky and didn’t understand how much one hand was different from another. His neck was burning because Sam just managed to embarrass the freakin’ hell out of him, that’s all.

“Jesus,” Dean muttered, shoving Sam back a couple inches to reclaim some breathing space. “You gotta quit readin’ all those books, Ponyboy, school’s givin’ you some messed up ideas.”

“Won’t mean anything,” Sam said. “Happens all the time.”

“I’m pretty sure-”

“No, you’re not,” and Sam’s were still hazy with alcohol, heavy with it, but he did a good job of sounding like he knew exactly what he was doing, “if you were sure, you’d've punched me.”

“Still could.”

“Yeah.” Sam’s gaze dipped low, stayed there, unashamed. “But you’re gonna let me jerk you off instead.”

*

It shouldn’t be easy, but it is. Everything preceding that one moment isn’t. It’s hell, a special kind of hell fashioned just for him by his own two hands. His hands and his mouth and the things he does with them that have nothing, nothing to do with what he really wants.

When it happens, it happens like this: him and Sam shuffling home from a job, grimy and tired but all their blood still on the inside where it counts. He could blame the euphoria over that rare occurrence combining with the typical after-hunt high, but he doesn’t really buy that and doubts Sam would either.

So he says, “You know what I wanna do?”

Sam dumps the duffle by the foot of his bed. “Sleep for a week?”

“Nope.” Dean’s grin isn’t entirely plastered on. He feels drunk.

“Shower, then sleep for a week?”

“Make out with you. Maybe for a week.”

Thoughts race across Sam’s face too quickly for Dean to recognise which ones are which, but he sees one or two a couple times over. Sam settles on an expression too carefully blank, which means it’s not really blank enough to not say what he doesn’t want to.

“We’re not kids anymore.”

Dean’s already been through all this with the voice inside his own head. “Weren’t really then, either.”

“I wasn’t-”

With a casual shrug, Dean says, “Just putting it out there.”

“You can’t- you can’t just put that out there, Dean.” Sam drags a hand through his hair, sweat making bits and pieces stick out like tufts of desert grass.

Dean shrugs again and calls dibs on the shower.

*

For about a week after the train station, Dean’s knees ached. His thighs, too, every time he took a step. Running made it worse, brought the burn close to being fresh and new again. He went out every morning in the predawn chill.

Once or twice, Sam joined in, but mostly, he watched and waited on the front stoop, white porcelain mug already looking small in his hands. Dean came back damp with sweat and morning mist, chest heaving, skin on fire, so hot it felt as if steam should rise from his flesh where water touched it, but not nearly so hot as Sam’s hands on him, pushing, shoving, goading until they sprawled on the torn linoleum kitchen floor, hands down their shorts and panting prayers of thanks into one another’s mouths that Dad was long gone on a job.

That’s when Dean learned that some things never grow old. That some things are built into your bones long before you’re ever even born.

*

It gets a little awkward after the showers are done and the weapons cleaned, the few scraps of food left from their drive-through Americana not close to enough to keep them busy and not talking.

For once, Dean’s not entirely dreading it. It’s been awhile since he’s had a good handle on where Sam’s head is.

Predictably, Sam says, “You honestly?” and leaves it hanging, unfinished.

“Yeah.” Dean wipes his hands on his jeans. Wipes them again when they still feel greasy, sweaty. “I sorta figure it’s the best shot I got, right?”

Baffled, wary face this time. “Best shot at what?”

Dean actually has to think about that one, because it hadn’t been exactly what he’d meant to say. Plan A had been get to the kissing as soon as possible, Plan B had been skip the kissing on Sammy’s insistence and get straight to the sex. Plan C? He has no Plan C.

“You really want me to say it?”

Sam, perched on the edge of his bed, props elbows on his knees and leans a little closer. For a moment, he seems like a teenager again, picking at the ravels on his ratty bedspread while he tries to work up the spit–spit, not courage–to tell Dean exactly what he wants.

The odd juxtaposition fades quickly, leaving Sam older, sadder, more uncertain than he’d ever been back then.

“Seriously, Sammy, you really want me to go into details? You were there, you know how it went down,” and, unspoken, you started it.

“That’s,” Sam starts, stops to breathe, starts again. “That was pretty messed up. It wasn’t,” he trails off, and Dean wonders if he’s going to say it wasn’t supposed to mean something when it meant a lot more than it ever should’ve. “It was dumb.”

Ice crystallises in Dean’s veins, sharp, needle-thin pinpricks bleeding him from the inside. “Dumb, huh? Couple years worth of dumb.” Sam opens his mouth but Dean asks first, “You mean that?”

It stretches out between them for a long, long time before Sam says, “No,” and rolls onto his side away from Dean, head tucked down.

*

Dean slept with girls, Sam dated a few. They never talked about it in any meaningful way, but Dean tended to tack an awful lot of meaning onto the curve of Sam’s lips under his, the awkward stutter of Sam’s hand on his dick. Despite what Sam said that first time, Dean sorta always figured Sam did, too.

It would come pouring out of Sam’s mouth in the middle of everything. Breathless little pleas and choked noises. Dirty, filthy things that had nothing to do with tequila and everything to do with the need shaking Sam’s body, sinking into Dean’s through the spit drying on his skin. Dean bucked and gasped with it, didn’t believe that was Sam’s mouth on his cock, Sam’s tongue jabbing at his slit, until he opened his eyes to see it; closed them to fight off the looming edge, disbelieving it all over again until Sam moaned for him to watch, don’t hold back, watch, c’mon, do it.

*

He wakes to Sam’s tongue in his mouth, all the air in his lungs fed into Sam’s on a startled noise. Still mostly asleep, he goes with it, relearns the glide of Sam’s lips against his own, the scrape of teeth, the hot puffs of Sam’s breath on his face. Unreal, like a dream, better than one.

When he can, he says, “You snuck up on me,” their mouths still touching.

Sam wets his bottom lip with the soft swipe of tongue, traces the top one with just the tip, kissing him like they’d never stopped except they never used to do it like this, slow and knowing, lazy.

“Not a kid anymore,” Sam says.

End

One Response to “Standing in the Middle of Yesterday”

  1. Daisy Says:

    “You gotta quit readin’ all those books, Ponyboy, school’s givin’ you some messed up ideas.”

    I love your little reference there to one of my favorite stories ever written. It’s something I can picture Dean saying for sure. Excellent imagery.

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