Disclaimer: I own nothing.


JACOB'S LADDER

The first thing Seth knitted for Roman was a hat. Roman looked like he should have been able to withstand anything, including weather that was cold as balls, but he'd been raised in Florida so places like Detroit made him get real quiet and jaw-tense. Dean usually wrapped himself around Roman like a human snuggie and pressed his warm lips to Roman's cold ears, mocking him but not letting go.

Seth dug out his needles and some dark-blue yarn and started looking for a pattern.

He could line the hat, he wanted Roman to be as warm as possible. The internet was a godsend and soon Seth was using their travel time diligently, his earbuds firmly plugged in and his hands working quickly. He still got involved in the usual arguments and bouts of talking Dean down from whatever bugged-out ideas he was currently high on. Seth's hands didn't stop moving, counting stitches, building more.

Dean eyed him in the rearview and then turned abruptly to watch more closely. Thank fuck Roman was driving. If Dean had had the wheel, he still would have turned around, not caring that his eyes weren't on the road anymore.

Dean didn't say anything for a while; he just watched Seth's hands dexterously working, then Dean grabbed Seth's yarn bag. Seth didn't say anything – he was dealing with a difficult turn – instead he pushed a foot to Dean's arm warningly. Dean widened his eyes exaggeratedly but quickly plunged a hand into the bag anyway. He sorted through skeins and papers and spare needles and pulled out a ball of deep-purple yarn. He dumped the bag and turned back around.

Roman watched them both with a warm amused smile. Dean was making himself a cat's cradle out of purple yarn, his teeth bared in anticipation. Seth extended his leg and pressed it against Dean's thigh. He only dropped a couple of stitches.

Later that week, he sorted through the storage boxes that he kept in the basement of a safehouse – nothing valuable, nothing that could be used against him. He found what he was looking for; enough fleece to line Roman's hat. Seth could stitch as well as knit. He cut what he needed and set to work, tucked up against Roman's side, pricking his own fingers a few times. What was a little blood between them now?

A few mornings later, he tugged the finished hat over Roman's head as Roman sorted through maps before they hit the road. Roman paused and ran appreciative fingers over Seth's work, picking out stitches and all the effort and consideration that Seth had poured into them. He looked good. Seth reached out, to tug the hat down a little more. Roman caught hold of his hand and kissed Seth's fingers.

He wore the hat a lot. The sight of it never failed to warm Seth all the way through.


Dean's feet were always icy-cold. It was like he did it deliberately. Somehow Roman didn't seem to care, he frequently just trapped Dean under him until every part of Dean's body was a lot warmer and Dean's mind was occupied by way more interesting things than malicious mischief. Seth had cursed and threatened more than once to sleep somewhere else if Dean didn't sort out his damn feet. Dean usually responded by shoving his feet closer to Seth's skin.

So Seth began knitting socks. He used the colors he wasn't likely to use for anything else; thick stretchy soft yarn in dull orange, glittering silver, and something green. The color combination was toxic but Dean was bound to love it, he loved getting under people's skin. Seth had knitted himself plenty of socks before because socks went missing as often as glasses and luggage tags. He knew how to give Dean enough toe-room and make sure that the socks reached past ankle-length.

Dean often watched Seth while he knitted, he didn't say much, he just watched. He didn't tug on the yarn or cause Seth to drop any stitches. Seth found Dean's presence comforting, settling, even when Dean was at his most jittery. That was just the way it was, it worked.

Dean had also taken to spending hours occupied by the cat's cradle that he'd made out of Seth's purple yarn, muttering what sounded like a rhyme under his breath interspersed with vivid cursing. Seth found Dean's hands magnetic to watch, Dean's fingers were graceful and skilful. Their scars didn't detract from that at all, they only added to the appeal. Dean smirked when he caught sight of Seth watching him, he waggled his eyebrows but his hands didn't still.

One night Seth dropped a pair of hand-knitted socks through a gap in the yarn that was tangled across Dean's fingers. Dean trapped the socks between his knees without missing a beat. Later, he wore the new socks and slid across the kitchen floor in them, crashing purposefully into Roman and then into a wall. Seth shook his head but kept on knitting. He didn't complain when Dean later crashed into him, even if it did cause him to drop a ton of stitches.


Seth knitted himself a black and gray scarf; Dean stole it three days later. Seth couldn't work out what had happened to it until he saw Dean winding it around his neck one afternoon. Dean wore it indoors, even though the house was warm. He refused to give it back.

"Get your own."

"I did, you fucking stole it!"

Shortly afterward, Seth swiped Dean's cat's cradle yarn. He was making a point. Dean twitched more than usual, his fingers dug into his palms when he wasn't emptying drawers or practically climbing into the washing machine to try and find his yarn. Seth left it on Dean's favorite pillow a day later.

Seth was careful after that, secretly stashing the knitted pieces that he wanted to keep for himself. He avoided Dean too, just for a while, because the air was now fraught and tense between them, causing them both to say slicing bruising things. They still slept in the same bed but Roman always lay between them now.

Seth pointedly made Roman a long blue scarf and used it to pull Roman close for sweet warming kisses that sometimes turned brilliantly dirty. He hadn't kissed Dean in days, amid his anger something ached painfully. Dean had started viciously knotting his cat's cradle yarn.

"This has to stop," Roman told Seth, tense around his eyes and jaw as he stretched out on the couch beside Seth.

He meant that he wasn't going to keep on being their buffer. He'd said that before, because this wasn't even close to the first time that Dean and Seth had fallen out. Roman hated being their go-between and every time, his patience with them snapped a little sooner. Sometimes Seth worried that Roman was just going to get sick of them both, sick enough to leave.

He kissed Roman urgently and lost himself there for a while.

When Seth eventually surfaced, he collected up his needles and got to work. Later that week, he wrapped a gray and black scarf around Dean's neck and settled down on the couch, just behind where Dean was sat cross-legged on the floor. Dean's hands paused, then he twisted abruptly, yarn still threaded between his fingers. Seth met him halfway, their mouths mashing violently together. This wasn't absolution. The air between them stung with silent words:

You fucker, you can't.

I will, you can't.

He can't leave us.

He will. He should.

He can't.

They ended up pressed forehead-to-forehead, breaths heavy and dragging, fingers and yarn tangled up together. Dean freed one of his hands so that he could pull the new scarf away from his neck, Seth let out a fractured frustrated sigh, the ache in his chest still so present.

Dean smiled against his lips. "I'm keeping yours."

Seth closed his eyes. "Why?"

"Because it's yours."


Dean slept in the middle that night, Roman was a banked furnace on one side of him and Seth cuddled close on the other. He kissed Dean's chin and scraped his teeth along Dean's jaw. He was going to make marks for his scarf to sit against. The idea made heat flare through him and his bites got harder. Dean pushed closer.

Roman looked relieved and relaxed. Seth curled a hand into Roman's hair and pulled him close for a kiss. Dean and Seth owed Roman something special for the past week or so. They could have lost him; they forgot that too often when they fought. Dean seemed to know it too because he turned and began lavishing Roman with biting attention, paying extra homage to Roman's chest.

Roman rumbled his enjoyment and sucked on the fingers that Seth had started pressing into his mouth. The ache under Seth's chest was starting to leave. Thank fuck.

Dean pinched a hand at Seth's throat without looking; causing the heat inside of Seth to become volcanic. Roman's mouth still hadn't released Seth's fingers. Seth burrowed desperately closer. Dean was wearing the socks that Seth had made for him.


The needles weren't just good for knitting. People liked starting fights with Dean or finishing what he started with them. Whatever happened, there was often violence. Good, Seth needed that, especially now, after the way he and Dean had argued. This was perfect timing.

This particular fight was hard work, there was a group from a nearby bar who apparently hadn't liked the way that Dean had shuffle-danced while ordering a drink, his tangle of purple yarn stuffed into his jacket pocket like a talisman. They hadn't liked what he'd said to them either once they'd followed him and had started verbally abusing him. Seth had lost Roman and Dean amongst the bodies and had been forced down onto one knee as he attacked and defended all at once. He could do this, it wasn't like this was the first time he'd been outnumbered during a brawl. He used his backpack as protection and unzipped a pocket, triumphantly unleashing his knitting needles. With a vicious grin, he stabbed at one of his assailant's legs. It had an immediate effect.

"Yeah, you'd better run!"

He cut his way through the tattered crowd, adrenaline flowing, and found Dean kicking and punching at somebody who hadn't been able to get away. Roman was close by, choking someone out with the scarf that Seth had made him. Seth grinned, even though sirens were starting to wail and light up the night sky.

The three of them slipped away before any cops got their names or anything close to a half-decent description. They sat in a safehouse kitchen with icepacks pressed to their new sore spots, swapping stories and exhilarated laughter. They hadn't had enough nights like this lately, not nearly enough.

Seth listed towards Dean and Roman, a limb or two connecting to them both. He patted his backpack with a battered hand. He always kept his needles nearby; it was good to have a Plan B.


Seth wore the scarf that he'd made for Dean and stole one of Dean's sweatshirts. It smelled of Dean. Dean wrapped the scarf that he'd stolen from Seth around his own neck and up over his face, leaving only his eyes visible.

Seth watched Dean fluidly manipulate the purple yarn, muttering, no, chanting to himself as he moved. Seth listened.

"Soldier's Bed, Calm Sea, Manger, Saw, Carpet, Cat's Eye."

It didn't make sense to Seth but it did to Dean. Sometimes he broke into humming or the yarn didn't make the shape he was expecting. He knew a lot of variations; he seemed to like the names as much as the movements.

Seth spoke before he could stop himself, "You can do that with two, right?"

Dean, impossibly, stilled and looked at Seth consideringly. Seth's grip around his needles increased until they marked the soft flesh of his palms. Dean unspooled the yarn and held his hands out like a challenge. He didn't provide any pointers, of course not.

Roman found them half an hour later, intertwined on the floor side by side, yarn and skin interconnecting. Seth hadn't been able to work his way past Fish In A Dish. Dean had just mocked him, watching as Seth had grasped for a solution. Problem solving was something Seth was usually good at.

Dean wasn't interested in learning how to knit – "Fuck no. I've got other knots to tie." – but he did like watching Seth knit and wearing (stealing) what Seth created. Roman liked watching them both; now he looped fingers through the purple yarn and slipped it away from Seth into a Jacob's Ladder. Dean lifted his head from Seth's shoulder with a look like burning stars. Roman pressed the diamond configuration to Seth's collarbone. All three of them were burning now.

-the end