Gunfire at Freeway Exits
Author: zephyrocity
Pairing(s)/Main Character(s): Sam/Dean, mentions of Bobby, Jo, Ellen, Lucifer
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~1,130 words
Warnings: Spoilers for Abandon All Hope, 5x10.
Disclaimer: Supernatural characters and storyline belong to Eric Kripke and associated publishers/licensers.

Summary: Standing a few yards from Lucifer, a few minutes away from the rise of Death, a few months from a gas station in Detroit, Dean almost opened his mouth and told the secret that he's spent over a decade keeping locked up inside.

gunfire at freeway exits

Dean doesn't think he's ever seen Bobby cry in his life. He and Sam huddle in a corner and don't watch, except for how Dean can't not notice how Bobby is hunched silent over his useless legs, empty beer bottle rolling on the floor by his feet. Every few seconds it clinks against the wheel of Bobby's chair and Dean thinks it sounds like a heartbeat, pulsing cracked and off-beat. It echoes like the ringing in his ears, still pounding from the explosion. He feels half-deafened, unable to recognise his friend under all that grief.

"Dean," Sam says, tugging at Dean's sleeve. He sounds worn-out, world-weary, bone-tired from his shouting match with Satan. "We should go."

Dean nods, allows his brother to tug him away. They leave Bobby in peace, in misery, and find their way through the dark corridors on autopilot. Bobby's guestroom only has one bed and Dean wonders for a fleeting second whether that's going to be a problem; he knows they're big enough and ugly enough to make their own mistakes and wonders if sharing a bed is absolutely out of the question now. Up until Dean was about sixteen, Dad made them curl up on opposite sides of a queen in motel room after anonymous motel room. Nearly fifteen years later and Dean still wants that closeness back.

Sam shakes him out of thought, steers him down onto the coverlet, gentle, hesitant. He says, "I'll get the cot from downstairs," and Dean looks up at him and remembers just how perilously close he came to spilling his guts.

Standing a few yards from Lucifer, a few minutes away from the rise of Death, a few months from a gas station in Detroit, Dean almost opened his mouth and told the secret that he's spent over a decade keeping locked up inside. Sam looked at him and said, "Last words?" and Dean for an instant considered it. Considered admitting just how much he is stupidly, painfully, fatalistically in love with his baby brother. The urge was squashed just as quickly as it came, but now he can't get it out of his head. Those three words hover in the forefront of his mind, just beside Jo's face, her neck bloody and gaze vacant; beside Ellen's tearstained, determined eyes, nose, mouth. Dean feels hollow, detached, like he could come clean about everything right now and it wouldn't even matter.

Sam, standing over him, seems to realise something's wrong, because his expression catches and he tilts Dean's face up to the light. His brow draws together, mouth tightening into some miserable shivering shape, and his calloused thumbs come up to wipe at Dean's cheeks. For the first time Dean feels the wetness there and has to fight not to pull away.

"Oh, Dean," Sam says, whisper-quiet. "Oh, god."

Then he leans down and kisses Dean, soft and nervous and quick, on the mouth. He draws back with a hand to his lips, gasps like a thunderclap, looks at Dean wide-eyed like he can't believe what happened. Dean can't, either, and they both stare dumbstruck until Sam says, "Jesus," and sits down on the bed a few inches away.

Dean doesn't move, not sure what his eyes gave away that caused Sam to do that, and waits. He folds his hands in his lap and twists his ring mindlessly, pointedly doesn't remember the baying of Meg's hounds and the great gulping breaths Jo took near the end. He doesn't think about the fire eating up their family portrait and he pretends Sam isn't beside him.

"So," Sam says, finally, shattering Dean's illusion and startling him badly. He tries to hide it, but the white of his taut knuckles gives him away and Sam curls a hand over his, warms it between bruised and battered fingers. "I thought you'd have run away by now."

Dean doesn't say that he can barely feel his fucking legs, no less find the strength to get up and run away. He tries to even out his breath, but his voice croaks out wrecked and humiliating anyway. "Well, I didn't."

Sam nods. He looks thoughtful and like he might actually be holding himself together. Dean knows him better than that, recognises the minute shuddering of Sam's muscles at his side, the slight shine of his eyes that's just a little bit off. If Dean was a bigger person, a better man, he might turn and do something about it, try and stitch them both up. Two birds with one stone.

"I think this has been a long time coming," Sam tells him. Then he looks down at Dean's hand in his and says, "You know I love you, Dean," plain as anything, like the phrase hasn't been eating Dean up inside like the hellhounds did. Now, though; now it's in the shared space between them and Dean feels something like weight lift from his shoulders and something that can only be heartbreak settle in his chest. He looks at Sam and at their entwined hands, and doesn't say that this is all he's ever wanted. He seals it away inside himself and tries to memorise the way their fingers fit together, just in case he never gets another chance to see it.

Dean tries to laugh but it sounds like sobbing, like stepping on glass. "I think I'm going to lose you, Sammy," he says. Lose him like Ellen and Jo winked out of existence, like his own humanity will five years down the line. "I think any way we cut this, I'm gonna lose you."

"I'm not going to say yes," Sam says, voice brittle. "I would never."

"Yeah," Dean says, soft and stretched thin, and then he turns, shifts, tilts his head so he can kiss his brother again. Sam lifts both hands to frame Dean's face, a firm hold with thumbs fitted to the grooves of Dean's jaw, sweeping gently over freckled skin like he has no plans to ever let go.

Dean wants to believe he never will. But he thinks of Detroit, six months, of Lucifer's smile on Sam's face.

Whatever you do, you will always end up here, Lucifer told him, white-suited, stepping over crushed red roses and a dead man with Dean's face and voice and life. Whatever choices you make, whatever details you alter, we will always end up—here.

Dean winds one hand in the lapels of Sam's coat and cards the other through Sam's too-long hair. Sam says something against Dean's lips that he doesn't catch, that he knows, deep down, is an apology, because Sam's smiling like he isn't crying just as hard now as Dean was earlier.

Lucifer was telling the truth, and Dean thinks they both know it.