Sharing Is Caring
When Sam was a kid, he used to purposely lie and say he was out of clean laundry just so he could borrow one of Dean's shirts. Being so young, Dean's clothes used to swallow him whole; the hem of whatever cotton tee he'd dig out of his brother's bag would hang close to his knees. A young Sam hadn't minded the baggy look. Not at all, because it had smelled exactly like his hero and the only thing he considered home. Dean.
At twenty-nine, Sam's tall, muscled frame is too large to fit into Dean's clothes; however, he no longer has to wear them to inhale that familiar spice and oil scent. Nowadays, all he has to do is pull his brother's warmth into him, even though it's not something he's ever done. Even now. Even when Dean's busted kneecap started something unthinkable yet so wonderfully unexpected.
In Singer Salvage's garage, its new caretaker is laid out, on a rollaway cart, underneath a dark blue 2011 Dodge Challenger. Dean Winchester's greasy hands are busy trying to loosen its oil-cap. Mark Hapsburg — the owner of the local Sioux Falls grocery — had asked Dean if he could change the oil in his car after all. He'd even already tipped him a few bucks for it too.
In truth, Dean has lots of spare time for his hobby nowadays due to being thrown from a third-floor window, into a pile of cut wood, by an angry poltergeist with a murderous grudge against those that are eldest amongst their siblings. Unfortunately, Dean's fall had left him both crippled and cutoff from hunting. Now, forever relying on a cane and Bobby having taken his place as Sam's partner (Dean's stubborn tradeoff for moodily staying behind) he spends his days looking up lore, answering phones, and repairing cars. The work is just enough to take his mind off of the fact that he's left pulling strings, behind the scenes, while his father figure and little brother are out risking their lives without him.
Even as the black liquid is uncorked and begins spilling down into the well-placed oil pan, next to his head, thoughts of what had led Dean and his brother to where they now stand with each other floats to the forefront of his mind. The fact is that Dean hadn't stayed behind without a fight. Literally. Always the hardheaded bastard, he'd forced Sam, against his better judgement, to physically show him just how handicapped he really is. After having purposely pissed Sam off, Dean had not only ended up eating dirt, but he'd landed himself in the hospital again with his disastrously cracked kneecap rolled way out of joint.
It was while he'd been hopped up on meds and half out of his mind that he'd told Sam his greatest fears, the real reasons behind why he'd battled so hard against becoming stationary. What if something happens to Sam and he's not there to save his sorry ass? What if Sam ends up dying again and he's not there to follow him into whatever afterlife they both have to one day eternally face, because he's tried to live without him once and, even with Lisa, it had still felt like a part of him had been cut from his body. Of course, even highly medicated, Dean hadn't said these things in exactly those words. He'd more or less slurred and stuttered, but, knowing Dean like he does, Sam had understood his broken and lackadaisical speech just fine.
Dean knows this, because Sam had told him, "Dean, if something does happen to me, what makes you think I can die knowing you'll try to follow me? If anything, I won't be able to pass on and I'd just end up staying here and haunting your sorry ass until you got tired of me."
Having been filled with emotion that's rarely ever seen the light of day, Dean's glassy eyes had shown the honesty in his words as his traitorous lips had whispered, "Never get tired of you," and that's when things between them had begun to change. As they'd sat there and simply stared at each other — even with Dean being barely lucid — they'd both felt the undeniable spark that Dean's admission had produced. True. They haven't spoken of the new chemistry they have going between them, but they both know it's there, lying dormant just underneath each other's skin. It's obvious in the way they've been walking on egg shells around each other and the way being apart tears at each of them even as they try not to show it.
Eyes refocusing on the present, gazing at the full pan of oil, Dean next put hands to it and slides out from under the car. When he does, it's to find Sam leaning against the garage's opening with crossed arms and an awkward greeting. "Uh, hey."
"Hey," Dean parrots back just as nervous, after getting over his initial shock of seeing his brother for the first time in three weeks. After shakily moving to stand with the help of his cane, Dean asks, "Just get back?"
It's not the smartest question, seeing as how Sam's standing here and all, but it's become part of their usual routine; simple questions and answers that help them work through the new weirdness. The fact is they both know where this thing between them is headed, but neither one knows just how to get there. All Dean knows is he feels like a military wife whose husband has just come back from a dangerous trip overseas. There's relief, thankfulness, and all kinds of affection in both a familiar and very unfamiliar way.
Thankfully, Dean's had some time to get used to such things. After all, Sam's been coming and going from their new home for four months now.
As for Sam, he's busy pushing up from his spot on the wall. Shoving his hands into his pockets, he's looking his brother over, noticing the smudge of grease on Dean's lightly freckled cheek. "You, um," Sam says, taking out a hand and awkwardly tapping the side of his face with a finger. "You got a little something..."
Dean looks at the gesture and automatically rubs his features with the back of a forearm. As Sam's eyes trail down to his brother's chest, a brow quirks in question.
"Is that my…?" Sam asks, voice trailing off, as his gaze takes in the familiar, faded, black hoodie whose hem comes down to the middle of his brother's jean's clad thighs.
Caught red-handed, Dean immediately turns away, ambling over to and pushing the filled pan up on the nearby counter. "Shut up," he grumbles, completely pissed at himself and five shades of flustered. He didn't know Sam was coming back today. The last text he got from the guy had said "Night, Jerk," not, "Hey, we're heading back tomorrow. Thought I should tell you." If Dean had known, well, he definitely would have taken the time to change his damn clothes … like he always does before his stupid brother shows back up. Ok, so Dean's taken to wearing Sam's clothes while he's gone. So what? It's not like he likes their smell or they make him feel like Sam's still with him. ...Much.
As for Sam, the fact that the tips of Dean's ears have obviously gone cherry-red makes it difficult for him. Unconsciously, he takes a few steps toward his turned away brother, who's busying himself with idly moving things around — a screw driver here, a wrench there. Sam knows Dean and he knows this is what happens when his brother's embarrassed. …Dean's wearing his hoodie and he's embarrassed. The epiphany he has makes his insides do some seriously unmanly things ... like turn to mush.
Dean's body goes rigid as a board the moment he feels Sam's warm chest against his back and his long arms wrapping around his middle.
"Sam," Dean gruffly yet nervously calls out. Even sort of knowing how the other feels, they've never done anything to allude to their new 'relationship' and Dean's all kind of brusque in the face of it.
But Sam ignores his brother's anxiousness as he quietly speaks two words onto the back of Dean's red-tinged ear. "Let me."
And, after a moment, Dean does, but he doesn't relax into the tender hold. Dean merely stands there — one hand on his cane and the other on the tool-strewn counter — with his muscles tensed and his lips set in a firm line even as Sam softly rests his chin on his shoulder.
"S'ok, Dean," Sam soothingly urges, turning his face into the soft skin of Dean's neck and inhaling his brother's comforting, familiar scent straight from the source. With a chaste kiss just below Dean's ear, he quietly adds with a soft squeeze, "Missed you too."
Shoulders sagging, head bowing, the tension eases out of Dean's body at the tender touch and soft words he didn't even know he needed to feel and hear. Things have changed between them alright, because his teasing tone is pretty much lacking as he says one of his oh-so-familiar witty remarks in a small voice completely unbefitting of his usual macho character. "Friggin girl."
But, really, who's the real girl here? The guy doing the hugging or the one secretly enjoying being hugged … while wearing his brother's clothes?