Title: A New Leaf – Gen (3/3)

Author: XinaMarieUhl

Rating: PG-13 (some cussin')

Disclaimer: I disclaim everything. Forever. And ever. Amen.

Words: 3,400

Summary: Dean decides to, well, turn over a new leaf and live the time he has left to him differently.

Notes: Betaed by Harry Potter Fan Fic writing genius CherylDyson.

--

Dean didn't object when Sam continued hunching over the books at the library, muttering to himself and taking yellow legal pads full of notes, day after day. He didn't comment when Sam left half his dinner next to the laptop because he was too busy clicking from webpage to webpage to remember to finish it. He didn't even nag when Sam leaned his head against the cool tiles in the shower and fell asleep with water running down his back. Twice.

But when the imp (nasty little fucker) they chased into a day care center in Boston flung one of those tiny little kid chairs into Sam's shins and he tripped, wrenching his back in the process and causing him to hobble around like a crippled old man, Dean had had enough. Sam insisted on heading into the library the next day even though it took him ten minutes to shuffle from their room to the Impala.

Instead of stopping in front of the library like Dean promised, he passed it by in favor of the urgent care center around the block.

"You bastard," Sam fussed as Dean hustled him through the front door. "I told you already, I took some aspirin. I'll be fine. I need to get to the library: I'm onto something now. Every hour I'm not there is an hour that some other researcher could request the books I need and then what would we do?"

"Don't get your panties in a wad," Dean said. "We'll be in and out of here in an hour and then you can get back to your moldy old books."

Except that the doctor nixed that idea pretty quickly.

"Mr. Miller," he said as he poked around Sam's back while Sam perched on the examining table and tried to look like he wasn't in agonizing pain. "You have huge knots in your shoulders and lower back. Have you been under an unusual amount of stress lately?"

Sam glanced at Dean sheepishly and said, "I guess you could say that."

"I often see similar symptoms in the students around here. Harvard draws only the best and the brightest—and the most obsessive. Too many hours studying and not enough time relaxing, combined with the fall you took (Sam told him about tripping, but thoughtfully left out the creature-from-hell portion of the story) was too much for your back." The doctor looked down his bespectacled nose at Sam. "You need to learn to take it easy, young man."

He ordered a hefty dose of Vicodin, a stretching routine, and no studying for 3 days.

After a brief, loud argument in the car on the way back to their room, Sam agreed to stay away from the library for one day. Dean blocked his efforts to prop the laptop up on his belly as he lay in bed. With no research to do, Sam fell asleep in about three seconds and promptly began snoring like a lumberjack. Dean hid the laptop in the trunk of the Impala and went for lunch at the bar down the street. Although the bar was mostly empty at this time of day, a young man in a suit and tie was shooting pool by himself.

Dean thought about their rapidly diminishing cash supply, and how Sammy generally sucked at hustling pool – or hustling anything else, for that matter. What in the hell was he going to do for money after Dean was gone? Get a job? Knowing Sam's discomfort with credit card fraud, he probably would. And try to hunt on the side, which would exhaust him. An exhausted hunter was a potentially hurt or dead hunter.

When Dean finished his sandwich – with the obligatory side of Boston Baked Beans so common in this area of the country – he sauntered over to the guy. It didn't take much to get him to agree to a game or three. The guy – Anthony something or another – was surprisingly talented. But Dean was better. And soon enough, he'd pocketed $300, a fair take for a slow afternoon.

"You're good," Anthony told him, with a knowing smile. "I've been hustling since I was ten, and you're one of the best I've seen."

Dean gave him a skeptical once over. "You?"

Anthony shrugged. "Yeah, I know I don't look it, with the suit and tie and all. I'm respectable now. Sort of, anyhow."

"Reformed?"

Anthony chuckled. "Not really. I'm a stockbroker. I have an office down the street. If you want to double that $300 I can recommend some good options for you."

"Yeah?" Now, this was an idea Dean had never considered. He was intrigued, despite himself. "Let me buy you a beer."

Anthony turned out to be a pretty interesting guy. Recognizing a fellow hustler in Dean, he wasted no time in recommending stocks in Optimum Plus, some computer company in New Jersey that was getting ready to debut a new, affordable computer case in fourteen different colors. "Trust me. The big companies will subcontract with them to supply them with the cases, and their stocks will go through the roof." Anthony checked his watch. "By this time tomorrow you can probably triple your $300."

Dean didn't know much about stocks, true, but something didn't sound right.

"How do you know about this company?"

Anthony looked around, cagey, and dropped his voice. "I've got some … reliable information that Dell, HP, and IBM have already made agreements with them."

"Reliable information … like insider information? As in insider trading?"

"Shhhhhh!" Anthony said. "Insider trading is highly illegal. Think of this as advancing your luck, instead."

Well, he was all for that. "Illegal doesn't bother me. Highly illegal, though …." Dean was already wanted for murder and bank robbery. What could be worse than that? He might as well go for the gusto. "What do you get out of this, anyway?"

"As a stockbroker I get a commission on every share you buy." Anthony took a sip of his beer, then mentioned casually, "Although, if you appreciate the tip, and want future tips, I do accept a small, under-the-table commission."

Small turned out to be 25. But what the hell? He didn't really have much to lose. People got rich off the stock market every day, right?

They walked to Anthony's office where he signed a bunch of papers as Axel Rod, one of his favorite aliases (two rock star names in one, dude). He forked over his $300 and his cell number. Then, Anthony walked him down the street to a newspaper vendor and showed him how to check the stock page for the daily prices.

---

Turned out that Anthony wasn't exactly truthful. Dean didn't triple his money by the next day. He doubled it the following day.

Nice.

Real nice.

The next time he escaped research he opened a bank account, and looked into money market options.

---

It took Sam almost a week before he could walk without grimacing, but despite that, he didn't pay much attention to the doctor's orders. Dean reminded him every morning and every evening to do his stretching exercises, which he did half-heartedly. He'd ditched the Vicodin in favor of Advil since it didn't muddy up his thinking. He kept the hunching to a minimum when Dean was around, but Dean suspected that Sam didn't bother after he'd left for the day. Old habits were hard to break.

And new ones were hard—and uncomfortable--to form.

Still, Dean sucked it up. His opportunity came soon enough. One night, after a steaming hot shower, Sam pulled an old pair of running shorts on stiffly and flopped down on his bed. He stifled his groan of pain with a quick glance at Dean. Dean nearly rolled his eyes. Sam had never quite caught on to the finer points of hiding pain – physical or emotional.

Dean reached into his duffel bag and pulled out the bottle of Almond oil he'd bought at The Body Shop earlier that day, after a friggin' 6 mile walk to find that damn place. Trying to ignore the utter weirdness of it, he crawled onto the bed beside Sam. Sam opened his eyes and stared at Dean liked he'd sprouted two heads.

"Dude? What the hell?"

"Turn over," Dean said as casually as possible. "I know your back is hurting again. I'm giving you a massage."

"But--"

"But nothing. I don't want to be dragging your ass to the doctor again tomorrow."

Sam looked downright suspicious. "Look, I'll probably feel a lot better in the morning. You don't have to do this."

"Yeah, doofus. I know."

"I don't know …"

Dean sighed. "What is it?"

"You always said that male massage therapists were kind of …"

"Gay?" Dean supplied. God, the indignities he was willing to suffer for his brother. Would they ever end? "They probably are. Spending your days rubbing dudes up and down? Not my idea of a good time. But I've had enough of watching you gimp around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Anyhow, you can relax. I haven't changed teams."

Sam looked relieved.

"Yet," Dean said, unable to resist. "Now turn over, will you?"

Carefully, Sam did as he asked, folding his arms and resting his forehead on them.

The sight of the long, red scar along Sam's spine made Dean's throat tighten. He didn't think he'd ever seen an uglier wound. Dean knew it was still sore, too. His own deep wounds were often tender for months after they had healed.

Dean squirted a generous amount of oil into his palm, allowing it to warm to his skin temperature before smoothing it on Sam's back. It glistened in the lamplight. Slowly, he placed his thumbs on either side of Sam's spinal column, just below the juncture where his neck and shoulders met and began rubbing in firm, but gentle circles. The almond oil felt like silk under his callused fingertips, much smoother and lighter than jojoba oil, and not slippery like that god-awful baby oil shit.

Immediately, Sam relaxed, letting out a hiss of release. All the grave-digging they did on a regular basis had given both of them muscled shoulders. Although Sam was leaner than him, his muscles were so tightly corded that the skin felt stretched thin over them. The kid needed to eat more – fatten himself up some. It was strange touching the back of someone so hard and wide. He was used to chicks' backs, all small and slender and soft.

He slid his index finger between the knobs of Sam's spine, lightening his touch at these sensitive spots, and firming it again as he rubbed vertically on either side of the spinal column. He had to force his gorge down when he reached the massive scar that had signaled the end of his little brother's life.

The thick ridge of muscles on either side of the small of Sam's back were especially tight. Dean flattened his hands and slid them outward from his backbone, wrapping them around his sides and moving upward until he came to Sam's shoulder blades. Sam shivered at that, then alternated between making little gasping noises and deep hums in the back of his throat. The humming grew louder when Dean hit an especially tight spot.

"God, Dean," Sam breathed. "You're some sort of magic worker. How did you learn to do this?"

Dean didn't pause in his ministrations. "Julie Mendoza." He smiled. "I met her in Atlanta one summer when Dad got himself thrown in the county jail for a week for drunk driving--"

"Dad what--?" Sam began. He'd been at Stanford, then.

"Long story. Doesn't really matter. Point is, I met Julie at a club and we had one date. It lasted 3 days. Talented girl, Julie. She taught me how to give a massage, and how to give--"

"I don't think I want to know," Sam said quickly.

Yeah. Probably not a good idea to go into Julie's many and varied sexual talents when he had his hands all over Sam's body. Didn't want to frustrate the kid.

The heat coming off his brother's body from the recent shower made the oil more slippery. Now that he'd learned the mounds and valleys of his brother's flesh, Dean could feel the knots under his skin. Starting in a circle at the edges of the knots, he kneaded them, pausing at times to press his thumb into pressure points.

Sam groaned, then started to murmur, "Oh … yeah. Right there. Mmmm …"

When he started honest-to-God moaning, Dean finally paused, disturbed. Sam lifted his head groggily.

"What's wrong?"

"Dude …. the noises. You gotta tone them down." It sounded a bit too much like he was getting his brother off. And he didn't even want to go there.

Sam let his head back down as though it was too heavy for him. "Oh, sorry," he mumbled into the bed covers. "Just feels good. Don't stop, 'kay?"

"'Kay."

From then on Sam kept quiet while Dean worked, massaging until the oil had soaked into his skin and Sam lay limp and knot-free under his hands.

Dean clambered off the bed, hearing his knee joints pop from being in one position for too long. Sam lay still, not noticing Dean's departure.

"Sam?" Dean asked quietly.

Sam didn't answer. But he did start making noises again.

Soft, exhausted snores, this time.

---

Two days later, Sam came home from the library looking tired, but happy.

"Remember that lead I told you about? It panned out. We need to head north to a convent in Nova Scotia. The Sisters of Eternal Harmony. They've been casting demons out of people for centuries on the QT. The Church doesn't really approve these days, but they send their most difficult cases to the nuns. And get this, they've become specialists in demon-human communication."

Dean waited for the punch line.

"As in deals."

"Yeah?" Dean said, hope kindling a fire in his chest despite himself.

"Yeah." Sam smiled. "We leave first thing in the morning."

---

Sam was jamming clean socks in his duffel when he noticed the folded newspaper page lying partially concealed under his bed.

Oh, shit. Why did he have to notice everything? Fucker.

Of course, Sam picked it up. It was the stocks page, covered with Dean's scrawls, circles and exclamation points around certain companies.

He held up the page. "Dude, this is the stock market page. Why'd you write all over it?"

Dean shrugged. "I'm playing the stock market."

Sam gaped. "You're what?"

"Think I'm too stupid to figure it out?" He zipped his duffel bag.

"What? Of course not." Sam's voice took on that whiny, outraged tone. "I just didn't know you had an interest in that."

"Well, I do."

Sam took a deep breath, jaw working. He went back to stuffing clothes in the duffel bag. Except that now he did it rather … forcefully. "Since when?" His voice sounded tight.

Dean peered at him, annoyed. "What is this, twenty questions? Since we've been here. What does it matter?"

Sam paused, his body going still and rigid in the same way he did when they were about to burst through the door with guns blazing. He took a deep breath, then threw the remaining clothes on the bed and paced back and forth, fists clenching. Dean watched him, thinking, What the hell?

"You've got to stop this, Dean. Right now," Sam said in a tight, angry tone.

Dean asked cautiously, "Stop what?"

"This 'living life to the fullest because I'm dying in 10 months time' crap. You're NOT dying, man. You're just not. So stop telling me you love me and giving me frickin' back rubs and playing the stock market to provide for me after you …" Sam stopped, his face twisting. He looked on the verge of tears.

"Sammy, come on …."

"No!" Sam cried. "I need you to believe me on this. I need you to have faith in me. Now, more than ever."

They looked at each other in silence. Dean could hear Sam's choked, rasping breath. Oh, God. Apparently, Sam hadn't had his emo quotient for the month and was planning on making up for it. In spades, right now. Dean bit back his usual angry reaction. Okay, then. Time for compassion. Damn it. Dean swallowed, then approached Sam. He opened his arms to embrace his brother.

But instead of falling into Dean's arms, Sam just looked pissed off. "This is what I'm talking about. You're Dean! You do not hug me!"

"Hey!" Dean protested. "I do, too. There was that time when you were dead. And that other time when you came back to life. Twice is a pattern … isn't it?" Then, Dean paused as something occurred to him. "Hold on just a minute. Are you saying that you don't want me to hug you?" He had never even considered that Sam didn't want him to cry on his shoulder and blubber about his feelings.

"No, you moron! I want you to be you!"

Dean considered this for a moment. Could it be he was all wrong …? Could it be that Sam didn't want him spilling his guts at every turn?

"Yeah?" He asked uncertainly.

"Yeah. I can't take 10 more months of you going all touchy feely on me. It freaks me out, dude. Big time."

"But … I thought you liked all that shit. You seemed to, anyhow."

Sam looked uncomfortable, hunching down in that way that made him look so young. He kicked at the bed, cheeks reddening. "I do like it, okay?" He admitted. "I mean, most of it. You telling me you love me was great. The sunrise – that was amazing. And the back rub? God! I guess you could tell that I liked that. But I don't want you doing this stuff because you think I need it. What I need is for you to be the way you are. That's why I'm trying to save you. Assmunch."

Well, then. Sam just tossed one surprise after another at him. Committing to save him from the demon deal. Rejecting a hug. Dean kinda liked it.

Sam went on. "If it makes you feel any better, maybe--just maybe--after you've been a real asshole, I'll let you make it up to me by working out these knots in my back. You are pretty good at causing them to begin with."

Dean smiled, then leaned forward and smacked Sam on the side of the head. "You asked for it, dickwad."

Sam looked ready to retaliate for a moment, then the anger drained from his face. He grinned. The kid always was a quick study. Dean looped an arm around his shoulders. So what if he had to reach up to do that? He was already feeling taller and lighter, now that the boulder on his shoulders had toppled off.

"Come on, Sasquatch. Let's get going."

On the way out the door, Sam asked, "So what's the damage so far? With the stocks."

Dean cast a sidelong glance at him. "Well, you know. It's an uncertain market …"

"Yeah, I know," Sam sighed. "We got enough for tonight's hotel?"

"Sure. Maybe even tomorrow night's," Dean replied. Sam flattened his lower lip in that way he did before saying, those are the breaks.

"Think $6,873 will be enough?"

The look on Sam's face made him smile for a long time.

--End

Note: Written for LiveJournal's Schmoopfest. I see, however, that I really wasn't supposed to post it until late August. Guess I should have read those instructions BEFORE writing it. (Please, don't tell!) Anyhow, my prompt was: "Dean/Sam - a healing, relaxing massage." I'm sure the prompters were expecting Wincest out of it, but I'm afraid I'm not quite there yet. Thanks for taking the time to read! Hope you'll comment to let me know what you thought!