Sorry for how long this took! I'm getting back into the swing of things when it comes to juggling time for school, work, homework, and writing time.

I hope it's worth the wait.

Ch. 8

It's in the morning that things get a little tense. In the light of day, everything seems sharper. Clearer. Dean wakes up right next to Sam. Not a new thing seeing as Sam's a cuddler. This isn't the first time he's woken up with his own personal heater. What is different, is the leg tucked in between his.

In a rush, the whole night before comes back and every muscle in his body tenses up. Eyes locked on Sam's face as he sleeps, he can only stare and marvel at the innocence he sees as he feels shock creep up. Easing himself out from under his brother, he goes into the bathroom and quietly closes the door before turning and staring in the mirror. What the hell did I do?

He doesn't look any different. In fact, he looks better than he has in a long time. No bags under his eyes from too little sleep because he's been sleeping more soundly than he has in years. No healing bruises or cuts. A little bit of morning stubble. He looks the same. Except… nothing is the same this morning. Last night, he took advantage of Sam's emotional distress and pulled him into a relationship with his own brother.

He plays back the night. Trying to comfort Sam. Feeling at a loss. Making the worst mistake of his life. I almost forgot. Sam letting him. I was fifteen. Sam thinking something he felt when he was a teenager could be held accountable now. I hated myself. Sam thinking he can keep from hating himself just because he's older. …and that my condition doesn't change anything.

Dean leans over the sink now, hands gripping the counter. Sam needed reassurance that he wasn't going to be abandoned. So what does Dean do? He uses that as an excuse to do what he's always wanted and kissed his brother, multiple times, without any thought to what that might mean in the long run.

He's interrupted with a knock on the door, not even able to turn before it's opening and Sam is slipping inside. His eyes meet Sam's in the mirror.

Sam comes up behind him, arms going around his waist and resting his chin on his shoulder. He tightens his hold when Dean tenses. "D-don't you deer." He huffs. "Dare."

Dean looks away. Trails his eyes over the towels hanging over the side of the tub. "I shouldn't have-"

"I've b-been wilting… w-waiting years for that," Sam cuts in.

Dean sighs. "You said-"

"If I knew you fl-felt the s-same I wi-woun-wouldn't have shu-pu-shed it away." He turns to kiss Dean's neck. "D-did you mean it?"

Dean sighs, turning to meet his eyes in the mirror again. He can't find it in himself to lie when Sam is looking so openly at him. "You know I did."

Sam smiles then, bright and happy, dimples making an appearance. "So did I." He turns his head to press a kiss into Dean's neck.

Dean reaches up, hesitating only a moment before laying his hands on Sam's arms around him. He meets his brother's eyes in the mirror again. "I can't… Sammy, you know I'm not…"

Sam smiles gently. "I fell in love w-with you," he states matter-of-factly. "No n-need to sh-chi-change."

Dean feels his heart swell at the thought that Sam can read his unfinished sentences as well as he can read Sam's. The declaration of love doesn't hurt either. He turns in the hold, flinching back from Sam's hand for only a second before he allows it to fall against his neck.

Sam runs his thumb across Dean's jaw comfortingly. "L-let's skip the g-ag-"

Dean grins. "The angst. Isn't that my line?"

Sam winks at him.

Dean looks over his face. Rests his hands on Sam's shoulders. Sam feels more relaxed and looks more at peace than he has since… well… forever. Maybe… "Maybe this could work," he murmurs.

Sam meets his eyes with a little bit of shock. "That easy?"

Dean shrugs, giving him a wry grin. "Maybe I'm tired of lying to myself. And maybe I feel like being selfish for once and not giving a crap to what the world has to say. We're both grown men." He pats Sam's chest. "In your case, overgrown."

Sam grins, not caring about the jibe. It wouldn't be Dean if he didn't throw something like that in there.

Dean tries to smile a little "If you truly feel the same, I don't see anything keeping me from getting something I want to myself for once." He waits patiently when Sam steps back and starts mumbling to himself, waiting to see what he's trying to say.

Eventually, Sam looks up with a soft smile and steps back in front of him. After only a second of hesitation, he reaches up to take Dean's face in his hands. "I truly feel the s-same. I… I want this."

Dean smiles at the lack of mistakes, understanding that Sam wanted to make himself clear. He isn't just saying this. He means it. He lets Sam pull him into a hug, arms going tightly around his shoulders. "Why me?" He's suddenly overwhelmed with the thought that someone like Sam, the most genuinely good person in the world (mistakes aside), could choose him.

Sam chuckles, not letting up on the hug. This is the first time Dean has let him hold him this long. It feels nice. "Why not?" Sam asks with a smile. "Y-you're it. No one h-has ever l-loved me as mi-much as you."

Dean squeezes tighter. He doesn't deny it.

That's enough for Sam right now. He knows it'll take time for Dean to totally relax enough to tell him. If ever. Dean has never been the caring and sharing type. Honestly? Sam doesn't want Dean to change. He loves his brother for who he is. If he gets a little more touchy then that'll be great. If not? Sam's okay with that. He's gotten good at reading what Dean really means with minimal information from him.

Dean pulls back first, looking up the tiny height difference to meet Sam's eyes. "Last chance. Last night doesn't have to mean anything. We can chalk it up to me trying to be too reassuring."

Sam chuckles, leaning down to kiss him.

Dean lets him, opening his mouth to Sam and letting out a groan when their tongues tangle. It takes a minute to get through the first time weirdness, both used to being the one in control. Dean concedes eventually, perfectly fine with letting Sam take things wherever he wants.

Sam lets out a growl in his chest when he feels Dean give up control, backing him up into the counter and reaching up to sink his fingers in his hair and tilt his head the way he wants it.

Sam isn't usually one to fight for dominance, but Dean seems to understand that there's not much Sam has control of right now. His own mind is against him, he's unable to hunt, and he hasn't even found any sort of job he could consider getting with his limited speech. Letting Sam take control of this? It's not even a question of trust. He knows Sam won't push too hard.

Just like usual, Sam is on the same page. The kiss gets heated, but he pulls back a little after a few minutes to just share breath. "S-slow," he breathes, unable to really call up many words with the way his brain seems to have run out on him. It's crazy to think that this is even happening. He never thought that it'd be possible. That's why he locked it all up tight years ago.

Dean nods. "As slow as you want. There's a lot I'll have to mentally change too. This will never be able to be 'okay' but it can at least be 'alright' with us. We'll be patient with each other."

Sam nods with a smile. "Okay."

Dean gently pushes Sam back, looking down and scratching the back of his neck. "You want breakfast? I don't have to go into work for a while."

Sam nods, letting Dean retreat a little. He wouldn't expect anything else from his brother. He's not going to push this. Dean has to come all the way to him. Otherwise, he'll lock up tight. Pushing Dean only works so far and he's done enough persuading today.

Breakfast is pancakes and bacon, Sam teaching Dean some more sign language as he cooks. Between flipping, he copies the movements and lets Sam reach over to correct him when he can't get it right. It's become a usual thing to them, Sam teaching while Dean cooks. When Sam isn't trying to help, that is.

Dean slides a plate across the counter before dishing up his own after the bacon is done. "Alright. I'm going in to work in about two hours. Kyle has me just doing inventory today to see what tools need to be replaced and what parts we're almost out of so I might get home early. You wanna go out or stay in tonight?"

Sam smiles. Dean asking if he wants to stay in or go out is a rarity. After last night though, it's Dean's way of asking if he needs to regroup a little more before facing people. "Stay in. We can wi-watch mi-moooovies."

Dean smiles at Sam's frown. "I liked that one. You sounded like a cow."

Sam's fist shoots out to punch Dean in the shoulder, almost unable to keep from smiling when Dean only laughs. Dean looks as relaxed as he feels. This time off is good for them. "Jerk," he mutters.

Dean only chuckles. "Alright. So I'll pick up pizza and a couple movies on the way home. You want me to find some new ones or some oldies?"

Sam grins. "Your p-pick."

Dean rolls his eyes. "No complaining then."

Sam shrugs. "Okay."

They eat in comfortable silence, Dean getting up to rinse off his plate before he turns to go get his shower. He squeezes Sam's shoulder as he passes, turning to meet Sam's eyes. He smiles a little at the questioning look he gets back. "We're going to be okay," he murmurs.

Sam's answering smile is big.


"You've gotta be kiddin' me."

Kyle looks disdainfully over the white parking lot next to Dean from the safety of the front office, nodding in agreement. The glass wall is letting in some of the cold, but the heating system in the shop and the space heaters sitting around keep it toasty in here. "It's winter. Just because it doesn't usually get this cold so soon doesn't mean it won't."

Dean huffs, turning to grab his jacket. "Great. I knew I should have driven. I just didn't expect a cold front to move in so quick."

Kyle nods. "They do that around here. Could be fifty in the morning and snowing by afternoon. It was already chilly this morning."

Dean nods, fixing the collar on his jacket. "Yeah well I said I'd pick up a pizza and some movies from up the road before I headed home. I had hoped it'd get warmer as the day went on, not colder. Sammy usually watches the weather."

Kyle chuckles, turning to move to his desk to work on paper work. "Sammy, huh? He didn't look like the type to like that name, big guy like him."

Dean chuckles, leaning against the counter. He's not in a hurry to go out into that. And he still has a while before Sam will get worried. "He doesn't. Didn't for a long time. I think he's finally accepted that he'll just have to live with it. If you called him that, he might punch you."

Kyle huffs, making some notes on Dean's inventory list. "I won't test it, how's that? His height surprised me when he came to pick you up one day."

Dean nods. "Yeah, he does that." He has a second to remember Kyle's words that day, tossing the keys to Sam. 'Boyfriend'. Maybe he saw something they hadn't yet. He mentally shrugs. Wouldn't be the first person.

"He's an intimidating dude. "

Dean huffs. "Sam? Intimidating? Please. The bitch just happened to get the tall genes," he grumbles.

Kyle frowns at his paper, pausing and looking up to ask Dean if he always talks like that about the younger, friendly man he met a couple weeks ago when a voice beats him to it.

"Jerk."

Kyle has a second to see the way Dean's face brightens before he turns. "Sammy! Came to my rescue again! See, I knew I kept you around for some reason."

Sam rolls his eyes, letting the door fall closed behind him now that he's made his presence known. He moves his shoulders in an aborted shiver, almost like a large dog would do half of a shake to get an annoying itch to go away. "Cold."

Dean grunts. "I agree with you there, sasquatch."

"P-pizza still?"

Dean nods. "Plan is still on. Roads are alright, right?"

Sam nods. "Salt's out."

Dean claps his hands together. "Good. I'm driving home. Don't want you to run my baby off the road."

Sam rolls his eyes. "That w-was one ta-time!"

Dean snorts. "Not taking chances. I know my baby better than you in snow."

Sam wrinkles his nose at him.

Dean grins. "Don't give me that look. You're like a spoiled brat. I've been letting you drive too often."

Sam huffs.

Kyle shakes his head and looks to Sam who tilts his head at him. "You put up with all this name calling?"

Sam answers with a half grin before looking back to Dean. The grin softens into a smile. "I'd m-miss them."

Kyle watches Dean's face change from chagrined to almost a look of awe and understands. It's an inside thing with them. Dean just realized how bad it could sound to someone outside their circle before realizing Sam can read right through it all. "Alright, Winchester. You're ride is here, so go. I don't want to see you in here until Wednesday."

Dean comes back to himself to turn to him, chuckling. "Yes sir." He follows Sam out the door, cursing when he slips in the new snow.

Sam chuckles, then lets out a strangled sound when Dean nudges him roughly with his shoulder two steps later to send him off balance. He automatically grabs on when Dean is suddenly plastered to his side, breath catching at the almost tender way one of Dean's hands cradles his head in case they both fall to the ground.

Dean keeps them mostly upright, looking guiltily up at Sam when they start walking again. "Sorry. I forgot for a second."

"I'm fine," Sam grunts, patting Dean's back a couple times. Then he nods to the Impala. "No salt and sh-she'd sto-still be f-fine."

Dean looks to where Sam is nodding, and for a second he doesn't give a damn if Kyle can see them from inside. He turns back to Sam, reaching up to pull him the tiny distance down to touch his lips to his. It's still amazing, being able to do this. It still makes Dean cringe inside when he thinks about the moral side of things and what others would think, but he's starting to not care.

Putting chains on tires is not a fun job and not something you can do with gloves on. Sam took the time out in the cold today to get the chains on his baby and probably lost feeling in his fingers in the process. He smiles up at Sam when they separate, feeling proud at the shocked look he put there. "Thank you."

Sam recovers, a crooked smile slowly forming. "L-w-wel-come."

Dean chuckles. "Let's get started on our lazy night in." He heads towards his side, pausing when he reaches into his pockets and remembers. "Keys?"

Sam tosses them over from his side of the car, smiling at Dean one more time before ducking in.

Inside, Kyle watches their walk out the door with a critical eye. Watches Dean's hand fly immediately to Sam's head as they start to fall, confirming his thoughts on Sam's stutter being recent along with the ever-present hat. Dean did say he needed the money when he pulled in and begged for a job opening. Not like he needed to, but to see a man like Dean desperately plead that there was a job open really gave him pause. When he saw the Impala, that sealed the deal.

He watches Dean look to the chains on the tires before turning to Sam and kissing him. He nods to himself. Dean might not be the best at making sure others know what he means, but Sam always seems to. That seems to be enough. And if the harsh sounding name-calling is a sign of love between them, then it wouldn't be the first time. Brothers do that all the time.

He smiles at the practiced move of tossing the keys from one to another before getting back to work.