Pairing: Sam Winchester/Dean Winchester
Summary: "It's gonna scar," Dean says.
Sam says, "Yeah," like Dean's just said the sky is blue, or he really likes his car.
Original story: Lines of Glory by shay_renoylds
Stitches and Scars (The Sewn Up Tight Remix)
They're in a shitty diner west of Shreveport before the sun's come up. Dean's food is undercooked, and the coffee tastes like it's been brewing all night--probably because it has been brewing all night--more burnt than coffee by now. Every muscle hurts, and he's a hundred and five different kinds of tired, maybe only awake at all because his body's forgotten what sleep is. He's been tired all year, he thinks, though since the thing with the djinn, the fatigue has been more, deeper somehow. At least this exhaustion is the standard kind: a night's hunting and a day's research, fear and adrenaline leaving him beaten once they're gone.
Sam, though. Sam's eating like he hasn't seen food in maybe forever, the way he always does after he's been hurt, provided he isn't passed out. It's ridiculous, given how picky he normally is, but he's stealing Dean's bacon to wipe up his egg while he says, "After this, I say we hit the nearest bar. You can earn us some easy money; make it worth my while keeping you around."
Dean's glare gets derailed somewhere by Sam's grin. It's wide and bright, easy and open and happy, like this diner in this town is exactly where he wants to be. It lights Sam up, slams right into Dean's gut, like being bulldozed by a hundred things he shouldn't want and can't stop taking. "Or we could sleep," Sam says, "since you're old now."
"Punk," Dean says, without heat.
"No one expects you to have the stamina you did when you were my age, Dean," Sam says. He pours more coffee, pain flitting across his face because he probably forgot he's got a row of stitches he shouldn't be pulling. Dean figures they could both have lived without the reminder, but Sam just steals his toast, while Dean's distracted and pretending not to be.
"I just carried your gargantuan ass six miles. I'm feeling pretty good about my stamina, thank you."
"My hero. I'd offer to buy you breakfast," Sam says, "but someone stole all my money to buy silver bullets. Sorry."
Dean just flips him off and puts a lot of effort into making it look like he's paying attention to the guy on the TV. He's talking about the dangers of an economic slowdown. His tie doesn't match his suit, and Dean figures he's a moron every time he says danger, like it's measured in dollar signs and percentage points. Dean can still taste danger, metallic in his throat, and he has to keep sneaking looks at Sam. Sam's pretending not to notice, but occasionally, he glances back at Dean, gaze soft, his mouth slanted up at the corners. He's a little smug, a little sure of himself, maybe a little concerned, and Dean didn't ever need a full ride to Stanford to know his baby brother was smart.
Doesn't mean he has to admit anything, though. "If you're done here," he says, "there's probably a few homeless orphans with some food you could steal."
Sam's eyebrows practically disappear into his hairline, and for a moment, Dean considers the possibility that his stupid hair might eat them. "Are you seriously lecturing me about food?" he asks, all genuine outrage and little brother affront.
Dean drops a twenty on the table and stands. He makes sure Sam gets out of the booth okay, though he isn't hovering, because he doesn't do that. "I'm just saying, Sammy. I don't want to have to flee this town with the rumors of the crazy yeti dude eating a whole diner following me."
"Dude, I dunno." Sam's right on Dean's heels, his voice pitched low. "Yeti or wanted felon. It's kind of a tough call."
Dean looks back over his shoulder, surprised, still expecting to see that pinched look Sam gets whenever the Feds come up. Sam's just Sam, though, a little pale, because that's what blood loss does, and really in need of a shave. He lets the door swing closed behind them, his hand curling for a second around Dean's shoulder while they fall into step together. It's getting lighter, even if it's still freezing, and the road beyond the parking lot is filling up, days beginning for other people when all Dean wants to do is sleep.
"Outlaw, you moron," Dean says, "always beats pretty much everything."
"Uh huh," Sam says. "Only because you're too small to pull off the yeti thing." He stays close to Dean, as they walk to the car, reassurance Dean hasn't asked for and shouldn't need. Dean's glad it doesn't take long to reach her, and they have to split just to get in, because otherwise, he'd have had to pull away just to prove Sam isn't as right as he always thinks he is.
"Whatever," Dean says, fishing in his pocket for the keys. "When someone tries to kill you and take your body back for an exhibition, I'm not gonna stop them."
"I totally believe that's true," Sam says, yawning. He gets in and squirms around, trying to figure out how to sit and be comfortable, but he's still smiling. When he finally settles, angled close to Dean, he's already getting that slow, sleepy look he gets after pain and food, for which Dean is thankful. He wouldn’t take the painkillers, and while Dean isn't above grinding them up in Sam's drink if he has to, he knows Sam's right. It probably takes longer than a month for a guy like Henriksen to get over his prize suspects walking out of a county jail. Better to live with a little pain and wake up before it's too late to run.
Dean bites the inside of his cheek and doesn't look at the smudge of blood on the dash. He backs the car out, almost obeying the speed limits, now that they aren't the only car on the road. It still only takes five minutes to get back to the motel, though for once, Sam doesn't bitch that they could've walked.
"C'mere," Dean says, almost the second they're in the room. It's kind of redundant, because he's already got a hand on Sam's arm, tugging him back, but Sam likes the words, always comes more easily when he thinks he has a choice. He still makes a low, vaguely unhappy sound when Dean tugs at his shirt, and Dean grins. "Not so keen on that bar now, huh?" he says. "I'm just gonna check your stitches, and then you can sleep." It won't be much, sleeping in the car, but it's only for a little while, just long enough to get them to a new town and a new credit card.
"My stitches are fine," Sam says, but he unbuttons his shirt, struggles with it until Dean steps in and slides it down his arms. Sam winces, but he stays still and quiet, only shivering a little when the cool air hits his bare skin.
"And in other news," Dean says, as he drops the shirt to the floor, "Sam Winchester went out in public without seventeen layers of clothing."
"Shut up," Sam says, like he knows there's a better insult out there and can't make the effort to track it down. In the weak light filtering through the window, he looks a lot like he just lost a fight with a black dog. There are bruises across his chest from where he hit the ground, a couple of scratches on his stomach. He's still built like a fucking tree, though; he's all muscle and no softness. Even just standing, eyes half closed, relaxed and trusting, he looks like he's challenging the world for something--knowing Sam, it's probably for everything.
"Swear to God, I almost feel sorry for the dog." Dean ignores the weird, tight feeling in his chest and turns Sam around, his palms settling on his arms easier than they should. The stitches run across his back, right below his shoulders, a row as neat as any Dean's ever made. Dean doesn't like to think about what would've happened if the cut had gone any deeper, but it's no worse than a hundred things they've seen before, and a lot less than some.
He still can't let go of Sam, though, feeling the warmth of his skin and the certainty of him, alive and okay, under his hands. He slides his left hand up, calluses rubbing loud in the silence, and wraps it around the back of Sam's neck. "It's gonna scar," he says.
Sam says, "Yeah," like Dean's just said the sky is blue, or he really likes his car. "It'll be a new experience for me, but I'm told chicks dig scars. I'm not worried."
Dean smiles at the back of Sam's head. He's been telling Sam that for years--since the werewolf in Pittsburgh and the fire in San Antonio, every time Sam's been hurt--so he'd get an eyeroll and the irritated huff of breath that meant Sam was okay enough to be pissy. "Of course," Sam says, "the guy who told me that was a loser, so it doesn't count for much."
Dean laughs, maybe a little ragged, and Sam turns, unexpectedly. He moves in, until he's right in Dean's space, his own hands fitting against Dean's shoulders, thumbs soft against his collarbones, like they belong there. He's too close, not close enough. It makes Dean want to run, makes him want to reach out and keep holding on.
"What's with you?" Sam says.
Dean doesn't know how to answer that without giving too much away, so he shrugs, movement sliding against Sam's fingers. "Nothing. Should've been faster, is all," he says, which is true, and probably what Sam expects.
For a moment, Sam stands there, holding onto Dean as if he needs to, to make Dean stay. He smells of cheap shampoo and Dean's aftershave, mixed in with coffee and whatever the hell it is that makes Sam smell like Sam, clean and hopeful and the anchor of half Dean's memories. He steps a little closer, and Dean can feel the world shifting, can almost hear it in the space between one breath and the next. It's like the moment before he lines up the shot, everything narrowed to this, a heartbeat where Dean could fire true, or fuck everything up.
Dean breathes out and counts his heartbeats, and says, "You gotta move, Sasquatch, 'cause I think that's how people get things done."
"Okay," Sam says. "Okay." He steps back, and Dean expects the universe to reassert order once he does, but it doesn't. Maybe because Dean's universe has always been ordered around Sam, anyway.
"I'm gonna go get the stuff from the bathroom," Dean says. "Then we'll head out." He doesn't know if Sam can get his shirt on by himself, but he's absolutely not about to ask.
"Okay," Sam says again, compliant, and really, Dean's spent his whole life learning how Sam telegraphs. He should've seen it coming. He's still surprised when Sam gets a hand around his wrist, pushes him against the nearest wall. It sends pain through every one of Dean's aching muscles, and that's not why his breath hitches.
"Sam," Dean says. He can't decide between low and soothing or angry and commanding, so it comes out like it's having the identity crisis it is, and he might as well have kept quiet, for all the good it does.
"You're really smart some of the time," Sam says, which is a little confusing and not at all what Dean expected. "Except," he says, and this time, there could be little thought bubbles above his head, saying Sam Winchester is irritated, "when you're far too stupid to live."
"Uh," Dean says. "I'm really glad we can talk like this now." Sam digs his fingers a little harder into Dean's wrist, and Dean thinks maybe he'll just shut up.
Only Sam's hands are all over him, and that's kind of freakish. Dean says as much, though that's pretty ineffectual, too, because one of those hands is on his mouth.
"I'm expanding on my earlier theory of your stupidity," Sam says, annoyingly reasonable, as if he's discussing lunch options. He touches a thumb to the corner of Dean's mouth, over the tiny scar Dean's had since he was nine. "This," he says, "is from the time I pushed you off the car roof, and the car door broke your fall."
"That's exhibit A," Dean says, half talking into Sam's palm, "in a long list of evidence that you were a little bitch of a kid."
"I was awesome," Sam says. "Shut up. This--" He tilts Dean's face up, holding fast when Dean tries to pull away. "This here, you got that when you decided jumping in front of the shapeshifter with the hatchet was a good idea--"
"Dad was always fussy about you coming back in one piece, and I wanted the brownie points for the Impala. And please, stop fucking talking."
"Again, shut up. The one on your elbow is when you broke the window to get me out, and then fell on the glass getting through, and, man, did that fucker bleed." He smiles, almost fondly. "The one on your stomach is from the time you were nearly disemboweled by the Merlin-wannabe because you took offence to the idea that my head shouldn't be attached to my body."
Sam's got Dean's t-shirt between his fingers now, his knuckles brushing Dean's skin, as if it's the most normal thing he can think to do. Dean can't breathe. "The burn on your chest we already know about, and the scar on your shoulder, but there's still your back to go, and that freakish thing on your thigh."
Dean can't help it. "You been checking me out, Sammy?" he says, even though he kind of wants to take it back the second it's out of his mouth, because God forbid, Sam actually answer the question. It might still be worth it, though, to stop Sam focusing on him, like he's got nothing better in the world to do than figure Dean out, but Sam's face doesn't even flicker.
"I've been paying attention, you moron," he says, low and deep. He splays his fingers out on Dean's belly, rubs his thumb there. "If we're keeping score, over which scars were caused by whom, I think you're doing okay."
"Jesus," Dean says. "Who the fuck even says whom, anyway?" It sort of hurts, but he laughs, his muscles jumping beneath Sam's fingers. "And that's not--you also realize for most of those things, you were a kid, right?--but I wasn't actually drowning in my own guilt, college boy." Or at least, not much.
Sam just goes on staring at him, like he could break Dean open with the power of his mind. Dean probably wouldn't put it past him. "Not--not like you think," he says, when the silence has begun to prickle on his skin.
"Then what?" Sam asks. "We've got nowhere to be, and I can wait all day." He leans in a little bit, and smiles. "I did, however, just suffer a very serious injury. It would probably be bad for me to stand all day."
"And that's exhibit four billion and three that you're the most manipulative bastard I've ever met," Dean says. He reaches his hand out, fits it around the back of Sam's head, because everything's a little easier like this.
"Dean," Sam says, asking for answers the same way he always has. He should've stopped by now; the answers have never been anything he wanted, but he never has. It's partly why Dean can't refuse him anything. It's the kind of stubborn that makes Dean sure of him, lets him flip destiny off whenever Sam mentions it.
"I just--" He tightens his fingers in Sam's hair and focuses on the pictures of the ocean on the wall. "You didn't have any," he says, and Sam doesn't need to ask what the hell he's talking about. He's been pretty good at not openly pushing for answers since the djinn, better than Dean expected he'd be, but he's still Sam. Subtlety isn’t always his strong point, even if he thinks it is. Dean knows he wants information on Dean's dream world as badly as Dean wants not to think about it. "You were this normal kid, and you'd probably never even seen the inside of a cop car. You'd never been cut open by a harpy, never got burned by some fucked up haunted ride."
Sam's hand is tighter on his arm, but his voice is light when he says, "Were you checking me out?"
When Dean doesn't laugh, Sam reaches up, takes Dean's chin in his hand again until Dean has no choice but to look at him.
"No, really, we don't have to share," Dean says, but it's half-hearted.
"When I was in college," Sam says, "we had all these tests, right? Finals and essays and presentations." Dean nods, though he has no idea where this is going. "And I, well, you know I very occasionally wasn't the picture of calm."
"Only those times when your name was Sam," Dean says, and Sam knocks his knee into his thigh.
"I will tell you this story in, like, free form poetry if you don't just stand there and listen." He pauses to make sure Dean is. "So, anyway, in my first year, when I was half a second from my brain imploding, I'd think about that harpy or the fire, or the ghoul, or, when I was really freaking, the time I stitched you up in the back of the car."
"Good times," Dean says. Sam puts his forehead against his, and for a long moment, he just breathes.
"You moron. I passed those exams, made the fucking Dean's list, because if I could do that, I knew I could do anything. Whatever the hell you thought I was or would be or should be--Jesus, I'm not. I'm right here."
Sam could go on talking for days, probably would, if Dean would let him, but the shape of the story is there in the hard press of Sam's fingers against Dean's skin, the argument won by the way he crowds Dean, arms and legs and fucking all of him too much to be ignored.
"Okay," Dean says. "You don't have to be all Hallmark about it." He's smiling, though; he feels it stretching stupid and sappy across his mouth. It's the one that might as well have property of Sam Winchester emblazoned on it, but Dean's always been okay with giving it up.
Sam smiles back, says, "Free form poetry. I mean it. You and me, and a lot of feelings."
"I'm gonna be driving while you're sleeping. You're gonna be sorry when I compose my epic and make you listen." The back and forth settles Dean, but Sam hasn't taken his hand away, and Dean hasn't, either. They passed the territory of weird a while back, and it doesn't seem like Sam wants to reintroduce them to the concept of personal space any time soon.
There's no shift this time. The world never lined itself back up so there could be, but the moment still stretches out, real and dangerous between them. Dean says, "Sam?" And he means to say this is wrong, and he wants to say he doesn't want it. He only sounds terrified.
"Yeah," Sam says, "I hear you."
This time, when he telegraphs, Dean notices. Sam moves in by degrees, and Dean doesn't fight him, and it's still the most surprising thing in the world when Sam actually kisses him. It's slow and sure and easy, like he's been doing it all his life, like he's gonna do it every chance he gets. It's more fucked up than any of the other fucked up things they've made their lives out of, and Dean can't stop tugging Sam in, can't stop the way his mouth opens under Sam's. Maybe he wouldn't, even if he could. Maybe that's the most fucked up thing of all.
Because Sam's smiling, is the thing. Dean can tell, can feel and taste the shape of it. There's never been anything he wouldn't give Sam, never been any part of him that wasn't Sam's to have, and Dean never really minded. When Sam smiles like that, lets Dean kiss it right off his mouth, it's kind of hard to miss what Sam's saying.
He's shaking when they pull apart. They both are, and Dean knows how fear runs under his skin well enough to recognize it, even now. "So," Dean says, trying really hard not to notice the way Sam's lips are swollen, and swollen because of Dean. "If you could stitch me up in the back of the car…"
Sam laughs, clear and strong. "Then we can do this," he says.