Bobby wasn't sure what he'd been expecting when he returned to Missouri Mosely's home. He had assumed that the psychic would have been able to help Dean as she had promised, and had hoped that the change would be drastic enough to be noticeable at a glance. It was still amazing to him, though, when he pulled up outside Missouri's house in the Impala, and it was Dean who headed the tumble of people that came spilling out the front door.
Granted, he didn't stray too far ahead of his father and brother, and just before he reached the car he froze, looking left and right along the sidewalk with a panicked expression. But then John laid a hand on his shoulder, and he calmed, taking that last step and placing his own hands reverently on the sleek black line of the Impala's body.
"Here she is," he breathed, and when Bobby evidently made some sort of noise at hearing Dean speak, he glanced up, meeting the older man's eyes over the Impala's roof. "Thank you, Uncle Bobby," he said simply and he wasn't quite smiling, but there was a smile hidden somewhere in his face, just waiting to break free.
"Pleased to do it," Bobby gruffed, closing the driver's door and coming around the car. John clapped him on the shoulder in greeting and thanks at once, but Sam was too busy hovering -- so close to his brother that they were almost sharing the same space -- to do more than give him a nod in passing.
"We had a little setback," Missouri said softly, in answer to Bobby's unspoken question. "An unexpected male visitor that I wasn't able to throw out quickly enough. I think that this is absolutely the best thing that could have happened, Bobby, you bringing the car back right now."
Bobby nodded. That would explain Sam's overprotectiveness, John's grave expression, and the distinct downturn to Missouri's mouth. "Sorry I didn't get back sooner," he offered regretfully. "Traffic through Nebraska was a real bitch."
"Thanks for bringing the Impala back so quickly, Bobby," John rumbled, his gaze focused on his sons. "You didn't have to--"
"I already toldja I wanted to," Bobby interrupted. "You think that I could keep Dean's baby away from him for any longer than it took me to go and get her?"
"Thank you, Uncle Bobby." Suddenly he found himself with an armful of teenage boy, and Bobby hugged Dean back. Dean was warm now, and solid, and he was holding onto Bobby with intent, not simply leaning against him, no longer passive. It was a subtle difference, but it made Bobby's heart swell with hope for Dean's recovery. He was rather glad, though, that Sam's obsessive hovering hadn't served to drag him in as well. He didn't mind hugging the Winchester boys when the situation called for it, but both at once might get a little awkward.
Sam hung back a bit, his slanted hazel-green eyes sharp and watchful where they were fixed on Dean, but Bobby noticed that one of his huge hands was caressing the line of the passenger door.
"She's yours, Dean," Bobby replied honestly, patting Dean on the back. "I jest took care of her for you for a while."
"That's why I'm thanking you," Dean said, his voice muffled where he spoke into Bobby's chest. Then he pulled away a little, peering up at Bobby with bright green eyes that actually had Dean in them, weren't blank orbs anymore. "Because you took care of her."
It was strange, Bobby thought. Dean's voice was the same as it had been last time he'd been fourteen, but the inflection was a little off. He spoke simply, with each word pronounced clearly, no slurring or mumbling. It came off sounding a little childlike, though Dean hadn't spoken like that when he'd been a child; Bobby would have remembered.
Well, at least Dean was speaking at all. And he seemed to be functioning reasonably well. That was more than Bobby had expected, despite his hopes. Missouri really had worked miracles.
"Here's the keys," Bobby offered, holding them out to Dean as he stepped backward out of their hug. Dean looked down at the silver keys gleaming between them. There was an expression on his face that Bobby couldn't read, and he didn't know whether to be concerned or not.
Carefully, as though he was afraid of fumbling, Dean reached up with both hands, cupping them around the keys. Bobby handed them over as gently as he could, considering it was such a simple action.
Dean looked down at the keys, and his full lips twisting to one side. "Keys for Sammy," he declared, turning and thrusting them toward his startled brother.
"Are you sure, Dean?" Sam asked, accepting the keys nonetheless.
Dean nodded. "It's not like cleaning guns," he said quietly, fingers lingering over Sam's knuckles, tracing the back of Sam's hand, which was clenched around the keys. "I need to be not-broken before I can drive again." He raised his eyes, gaze meeting Sam's steadily even though his long eyelashes were fluttering. "So you can drive."
"Okay," Sam agreed, and if his eyes were suspiciously bright, everyone ignored it. "As long as you trust me with her."
"I trust you, Sammy," Dean assured him, and there could be no question of his sincerity. Bobby thought that it was pretty obvious to all of them that this statement hadn't even needed to be spoken aloud. But, then again, it was the Impala in question. After his brother and father, the Impala was the thing that mattered most in Dean's life; not least of all because it had once been his father's car, had been where Dean and Sam had spent a significant portion of their childhood. And knowing Dean, it was probably the first place he'd gotten laid, but Bobby wasn't going to speculate on that.
"Do you want to go for a ride?" Sam pursued, tilting his head and giving Dean a quizzical look. He seemed to be trying to feel his way to saying the right thing and Bobby could only sympathize.
"No," Dean said decisively. He shook his head, gold-tipped bangs falling in his face. "We're not ready to go so far yet. That's not until tomorrow and tomorrow and away."
"Oh. Okay." Sam was clearly as lost as Bobby felt. "Well, we could've just gone around the block, but...."
"She's ready to fly," Dean told him, almost sounding exasperated. He reached forward and pulled open the passenger door. "Just a little space is no good. She needs to go into forever."
Sam glanced at Bobby and his father as Dean crawled into the front of the Impala, kneeling on the passenger side of the bench seat and reaching underneath it, his butt in the air over heels that Bobby suddenly realized were only covered in socks, no shoes. "Did that make sense?" Sam hissed.
"It sounded like it should," Bobby replied slowly as John shook his head, in confusion more than negation.
Missouri chuckled. "It made as much sense as it needed to," she spoke up. "Sam, you and your Daddy can keep an eye on Dean. Don't let him be outside too long; remember that he gets spooked easily. Bobby, you come inside with me and have a nice sit-down and something to drink."
"Thank you kindly." Bobby was grateful. He'd taken an overnight rest when he'd gotten home the day before, but he'd been driving an awful lot the last several days -- hell, the past week. Ever since he'd gotten the call for help from John Winchester and taken off for the Pacific Northwest to go and rescue Dean, in fact.
"We'll be in shortly," John assured Missouri and Sam didn't seem inclined to argue. "It's already getting dark out."
"I think the music got melted," Dean was saying mournfully, holding up a cassette.
"I kept the Impala under a tarp in the garage," Bobby assured Dean, bending to peer at the boy who was sitting crosslegged, sideways on the bench seat, a battered shoebox full of tapes in his lap. "Most of those should still be okay."
"We'll check them out later, okay, Dean?" Sam asked, folding his long legs and sitting awkwardly next to Dean inside the car. "And I'll replace any that got damaged."
"You can't replace a mix tape, Sammy," Dean chided, and in that moment he sounded so much like himself that Bobby almost expected to see a ten year old Sam pulling a sour face at his fourteen year old brother.
But, no, Sam was still twenty-one. And the expression on his face was pained, not exasperated, even though he was trying to smile. "You're right, Dean."
Bobby straightened and turned to go. This was a family reunion of sorts, and he and Missouri weren't family. Even if the boys had once called him Uncle Bobby, and it seemed as though Dean had fallen back into that. It was time to take Missouri up on her invitation. And he hoped that....
"Of course I don't mind you using my sofa again," the woman said softly as she paced beside him into her house. "You think I'd turn you away? There's leftovers from dinner too; I'll heat them up for you while the Winchesters finish outside.
"Thank you," Bobby said simply. Because there wasn't really anything more that needed to be said. She could read the gratitude in his mind, filling his thoughts. And he was grateful for so much more than the offer of dinner and bed. Mainly, he was just glad to be returning to a Dean who could talk and who remembered his father and brother. Who remembered himself.
"Dean's doing most of the hard work," Missouri demurred, leading the way into her kitchen. "And he has such a long way to go," she added mournfully.
"But don't lose sight of how far he has come," Bobby prodded, gaining himself a bemused smile. "When I left here just yesterday morning he didn't even know who he was, didn't know who his brother and father were."
"You're right." Missouri nodded firmly. "You're absolutely right. I've been spending so much time encouraging and reassuring the Winchesters.... I guess I needed a little of that myself."
"Good thing I'm here for a bit, then," Bobby grinned.
"Thank you." This time it was Missouri thanking him, and that was okay too.
As promised, there was food that was easily re-heated in the microwave. It might not be as delicious as it had been when freshly cooked, but Bobby thought that it was plenty good enough. There was some coffee left but he opted for some of Dean's juice, even though he didn't think that he'd have any trouble falling asleep that night.
Bobby was just finishing up what was on his plate when he heard the Winchesters come back into the house. John and Sam were arguing, and Bobby rolled his eyes. At least they weren't fighting, but after Dean had been traumatized by an unexpected male intruder, shouldn't they be cooling it for the sake of his peace of mind?
Dean looked all right, though, when he padded alone into the kitchen. His eyes were bright and his expression thoughtful. Maybe he had gotten so used to his father and brother arguing before Sam had left for Stanford that it didn't bother him, Bobby thought sadly. That was too bad, even though it was a good thing that Dean wasn't upset right now.
"Hey, Dean," he greeted, as the boy closed on him without hesitation, with definite intent. He was a little concerned... but surely Dean wouldn't try anything sexual now that he remembered who Bobby was, would he?
Well, yes and no, he discovered, as Dean slung himself over Bobby's lap and planted a warm kiss on his mouth before Bobby could stop him. But then he just leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Bobby's neck, head on his shoulder, resting against him and holding on. Bobby hugged Dean back. This was all right. So long as Dean was only doing it for affection's sake and not trying to get a sexual response from him, it was fine.
"You okay, Dean?" he queried after a minute or two of silent cuddling. Dean was a solid weight in his lap, heavy, warm, breathing even and slow. He smelled good, even though it was certain he hadn't showered recently, and that was unusual for a teenage boy. Bobby wondered offhand just how long it was going to take before John started both of his sons training again.
Dean leaned back, not getting off his lap, not loosing the ring of his arms around Bobby's neck, but pulling away far enough that he could meet Bobby's gaze.
Dean tipped his head to one side, his eyes dark, his face solemn. "You talked to me, didn't you, Uncle Bobby?"
Bobby smiled, knowing instantly what Dean meant. He nodded, reaching up and running a callused hand carefully through Dean's soft hair. "I did," he confirmed. "I told you all about yourself, because you couldn't remember."
"I couldn't hold onto any of it," Dean told him in a small voice. "It all went out of my head again as soon as it came in."
"That's all right," Bobby tried to assure him, but Dean was shaking his head.
"It's not. It's not all right," he informed Bobby earnestly. "But it made me feel better when you talked." He huffed, his stare drifting over Bobby's right shoulder for a moment before it snapped back to his face, running over his weathered features with an intensity that would have made him feel uncomfortable if it wasn't Dean. "I've got my memories back now," he informed Bobby in that strange, overly precise tone. "Only they're all broken to bits and mixed up. I get confused and can't think of things on purpose."
"Well, that's okay, though," Bobby assured him, rubbing his upper back soothingly. "Because you're going to get better, right? It's only been one day and you've got Sam and your Dad to help you. And Missouri is doing everything she can."
Dean sighed heavily. "Yeah." He leaned forward to rest his forehead against Bobby's shoulder. "I know. But I hate the way I don't work right. And I'm 'posed to be taking care of Daddy and Sammy, not them taking care of me."
"That'll come in time," Bobby assured him, not bothering to try to tell Dean that it was all right to allow others to care for him. Dean had always been independent and filled with an overly developed sense of responsibility; if Bobby tried to tell him to rely on others, it would only upset and unsettle him. Dean needed to be coaxed into being more what he was used to be, not driven further from it.
"Dean?" Sam entered the kitchen, his eyes going right to where his brother was straddling Bobby's lap. Bobby braced himself mentally, hoping that Sam wasn't going to get pissy, out of jealousy or misplaced protectiveness, but the frantic worry in Sam's face faded, replaced with nothing stronger than gentle affection and slight anxiety. "Hey, Dean," he said, stepping over to place a hand on his brother's shoulder. "It's getting close to bedtime. You ready to shower?"
Dean's head popped up at the word shower, and Bobby had to bite back an involuntary grin at the gleam in his eyes. He supposed that he ought to worry for Sam in this case, but it was just so good to see Dean look so animated, whatever the reason.
"Okay, Sammy," Dean agreed, clambering off of Bobby's lap and moving easily into Sam's personal space. He looked as though he belonged there and knew it. Bobby wondered if Sam was ever going to get any privacy, ever again. Then he looked at the fierce, loving, focused set to Sam's features, and he had to wonder if the young man was ever going to want his privacy, if it meant being separated from Dean.
"Thank you for bringing the Impala back," Sam said to Bobby earnestly, giving him a small smile.
"Not a problem," Bobby replied lightly. Gratitude was nice, but he already knew how all of the Winchesters felt about the matter. Had known before they had each thanked him in turn. "Sleep well, boys."
"Good night, Uncle Bobby," Dean enunciated, throwing his arms around Bobby's neck and kissing him on the mouth again. Looked as though that was the way things were going to be for a while. And since Sam was just watching with a bemused, indulgent look, Bobby figured that was all right. Though he sincerely hoped that Dean didn't wish his father "good night" the same way.
"We'll see you in the morning," Sam promised and Bobby nodded. He really needed to get back to his real life, his Hunting... but he wasn't in a huge hurry to leave. He'd still be here for the boys tomorrow.
"Good night," he said to them as Sam herded Dean out of the kitchen. He could remember a younger Dean leading his smaller brother around, and he pondered the way the tables had turned.... But they were still Sam and Dean, and they always would be. Even if Dean had temporarily misplaced the larger part of his memories. The love would always be there.
It was nice that there was something that simple and pure in this complicated situation.
Dean had been watching Sammy very closely, and his brother definitely didn't look tired. He'd looked sad, a little, when they'd been sheltered inside the Impala, surrounded by leather and metal and memories. But Sammy wasn't tired. Not like last night.
They'd said good night to Uncle Bobby in the kitchen, and then Dean had hugged Daddy good night in the living room. Sammy didn't hug Dad. Daddy and Sammy were arguing again, but that was okay, because it made Dean worry when they didn't. That meant that there was something big and bad enough to distract them. And since he was the distraction, if they were arguing that meant he was doing better. At least that was how Dean thought that it was. His head wasn't working right, but that made sense to him.
Missouri was upstairs, in the hallway, and Dean gave her a hug too. She squeezed him back and kissed his cheek and wished him sweet dreams, even though she knew that was impossible. But it felt good when she said it; a way of letting him know that she really cared.
"Is it all right if we shower?" Sammy asked, a hand resting warm and heavy on Dean's shoulder. He liked that, liked to feel Sammy touching him, because it helped him to remember that he was real, he was here, and he wasn't going to float away into the memories and the pain of his yesterdays.
"Of course it is," Missouri said, her eyes crinkling kindly. "Why ever would you think that wouldn't it be?"
Sammy shrugged helplessly. "I just... don't want to feel like we're treating your place like a hotel, or anything," he offered bashfully.
"Don't be silly," Missouri chided, with something warm and bright in her eyes that it took Dean a while to place as love. It had been so long since he'd seen that light.... Or, rather, seen it somewhere other than his father's or brother's faces, mingled there with sorrow and desperation. "You treat my place like your home, because that's what it is right now."
Dean lost a little time, then, even though there wasn't anything good or bad that took him away inside of his head. He just... went away for a bit. When he came back, Sammy had an arm wrapped around him, holding him carefully but firmly, his bulk warm and solid at Dean's back. Sammy made him feel safe, and Dean wanted nothing more than to crawl inside of his brother and hide there forever.
"Dean?" Missouri was asking, and she looked at him, holding his gaze, seeing that he was hearing her. "Would you go into your room and get your pajamas? I want to talk to your Sammy for a moment."
"My Sammy," he echoed, without meaning the declaration to leave his lips even though it rang loud in his mind. Panic flared in his breast, blew his eyes wide, as the rest of her words processed. "No pajamas! Sammy said!"
"Just get the clothes that we wore to sleep in last night, Dean," Sammy said, releasing him but not pushing him away. Dean wanted to cling, to never let go, but Sammy had asked him to do something.
"Okay," he agreed, not happy to be venturing into the bedroom alone. But he knew that Sammy wouldn't be going anywhere, he was just going to talk to Missouri in the hallway. He would still be there, right outside the door, when Dean had gotten the clothes. Sammy's heart had promised, even if his mouth hadn't said those exact words.
Sammy's pajama bottoms and tank were easy to find, folded on the seat of the chair at the desk, and Dean's boxers were on the floor. But he couldn't find the Black Sabbath teeshirt until he remembered that he had taken it off while he'd still been in bed the night before, and checked under the covers.
He stood a moment, their sleepwear clenched in both hands, heart hammering against his ribs. He knew that Sammy wouldn't get mad if he couldn't find the clothes he'd been asked to get. He knew it. But he remembered... he remembered being beaten every time he couldn't do something he'd been ordered to do. Bruises blooming in spreading aches between his skin and bones, the ringing in his ears, the taste of blood on his tongue.... Sammy would never hit him, never hurt him, he was certain. But his yesterdays had programmed him, Rodgers had pounded it into him until there was almost nothing remaining but the training and his skill at sucking cock.
Never make a move without permission.
Never disobey a direct order.
Be a Good Boy.
He didn't have to obey the rules anymore. He knew that he didn't. But knowing didn't make his pulse slow, didn't help his lungs to fill with air, didn't allow him to relax the grip that he had on the clothes in his hands. It didn't make the darkness before his eyes go away.
Sammy's voice cut through the fear that was weaving a tightening web all around him, stealing away his senses. He turned blindly toward the door, and then Sammy's hands were on him, cupping his shoulders, pulling him close, Sammy's arms went around him and he fell into the embrace, clinging to Sammy the way that he wanted to every moment of every day.
Sammy held him close, didn't try to talk to him, or if he was speaking, Dean couldn't hear him. He was so big and strong now, Dean almost couldn't believe that this was his baby brother. It was, though. It was Sammy. Sammy was holding him and would keep him safe.
"Are you okay?" Sammy finally asked, one hand rubbing comforting spirals over the bony line of Dean's back. "Missouri said you needed me. Were you afraid of being alone? I'm sorry I made you come in here--"
"No," Dean shook his head, clutching more tightly at Sammy, worried that he'd pull away now that he was talking. "Not that. I did what you asked, I got the clothes for us. I just got lost."
"Okay." Sammy didn't get it, Dean was certain, but he didn't mind. Sammy was worried about him and that was plenty enough to make him feel better. "It's okay, Dean. I'm here now, and you're here too."
"Sometimes I'm in my yesterdays," Dean confessed, shuddering against Sammy, trying to soak in his warmth, wanting to burrow into his strength and assurance. Sammy wasn't broken like Dean was. "And I can't get out, I can't escape."
Sammy didn't seem to know what to say to that, but Dean didn't need Sammy to say anything just so long as his brother continued holding him, keeping him close, sharing body heat, breathing together.
"I'm here now, Sammy," Dean said, as the last shadows of his yesterdays slid away. Rodgers went away into the back of his head and Sammy was here in the forefront, right here, huge and glowing and filled with love. He nuzzled Sammy's powerful chest through the material of his teeshirt. "My Sammy."
They stood there for several minutes, Dean wasn't sure how long because time didn't quite work right for him anymore, but it just felt so good and he loved his Sammy so much. He wanted to tell him, but his heart was swelling so big inside him and the words were so tiny and silly that he couldn't make them come out. Words weren't enough, had never been enough for what there was between him and Sammy.
"Are you ready to shower yet, Dean?" Sammy finally asked, even though he didn't loosen his hold on Dean.
He let out a discontented noise, but if Sammy thought it was time to shower, then they were going to shower. "I dropped the clothes," he said tragically, stepping back and looking down at the floor.
"That's all right," Sammy assured him, and Dean knew that he really thought it was. "I got 'em." He bent and picked them up, and Dean's skin crawled with shame. Sammy had asked him to do one simple thing and he hadn't even been able to complete the task successfully. He really was useless now.
"I'm sorry." Again, words weren't enough, but then Sammy patted his shoulder, grinning down at him, and that made him feel a little better. He'd failed miserably, but Sammy still loved him.
"Not a big deal. Come on."
Sammy took his hand and led him to the bathroom, and Dean clasped his fingers tightly around his brother's larger hand. Sammy said that it was okay, and it wasn't, but being with Sammy made it better.
Missouri wasn't in the hall anymore, and Sammy led him into the bathroom, closing the door behind them. The towels were blue and the walls were yellow, and the toilet was fuzzy and white. Dean thought that this bathroom was much nicer than any hotel bathroom he'd ever seen, and he wondered what Sammy had been talking about with Missouri earlier.
"All right," Sammy was saying as he leaned into the shower and turned on the water, adjusting the temperature. "Go ahead and get undressed...."
He turned around and saw that Dean was already naked, and laughed. Dean liked the sound of it. Sammy took things too seriously most of the time; it was good to hear him laugh. It made Dean's heart feel lighter too.
"Looks like you're way ahead of me," Sammy said, his dimples flashing. His eyes crinkled at the corners in a way Dean didn't really remember from his yesterdays... before Her... but he couldn't trust his memory. That was okay, though. As long as it was Sammy, it was fine.
Dean nodded. "I don't like to wear clothes," he made sure Sammy knew.
"I kind of gathered," Sammy murmured, still smiling. "Well, so long as you keep them on in front of Missouri and Dad, I think you'll be okay."
Dean didn't argue about that, since he knew that other people were more comfortable when he was clothed. Unless they were wanting to have sex with him, but Missouri and Daddy didn't. Things were different than they'd been before. He was safe now. When he was with Sammy he was home.
And speaking of his brother....
"Sammy, you get naked too," he urged, reaching for Sammy's fly.
"Wait, what?" Sammy jittered back out of reach, his eyes rounding. "No, you're showering first, Dean."
Dean stared at Sammy, rebellion forming an expanding bubble of not-good feeling in his chest. He wanted to do what Sammy wanted... but not when it was something so wrong, like this.
"Sammy, you shower with me," he stated as firmly as he could with his voice shaking. He stepped forward, pursuing, even though it took all of the courage that he had, after so many yesterdays of passive acceptance. He grasped at his brother's jeans again. "Please? I want you to. I need you to wash my hair."
"You washed your hair by yourself yesterday morning," Sammy protested, clutching protectively at his waistband. "Didn't you? I know you showered by yourself."
"But I don't want to," Dean insisted. He didn't remember that yesterday, but he knew Sammy wouldn't lie to him. He didn't see what difference it made, though. He couldn't see why Sammy didn't want to shower with him now. He was being silly, and Dean wasn't going to let Sammy make this mistake. "Please?"
Sammy blinked rapidly, and Dean could see him thinking, trying to figure out a way out of this. Dean's chin quivered, tears flooding his eyes hot and stinging. Sammy didn't want him, and that hurt more than anything that had been done to him in all of his yesterdays. He wanted to go away inside of himself, to that safe place, and never never come out. And the fact that he was retreating from his Sammy made it so unbearable that he thought he might die from it.
"Dean!" It was Sammy's anguished voice that brought him back to the outside of his head, because he'd always hear his Sammy, always respond when Sammy said his name. "Dean, come on, please?"
He was on his knees on the bathroom floor, the tiles cold under his legs, Sammy's hands warm on his shoulders, shaking him, Sammy leaning close to peer into his face with eyes all screwed up with worry and pain. Dean's cheeks were hot and cold at once with tears, and he was sobbing, even though he didn't remember beginning to cry.
"Dean, are you okay? I'll go in the shower with you, okay?"
That squeezed a fist around his heart, and he closed his eyes tightly, feeling more salt-wet popping out to cling to his lashes, to sear into his cheeks. He didn't want Sammy to do anything just because he was crying. He wanted... he wanted Sammy to want him back!
"N-no," he managed to choke out, even though he wasn't sure he could make words anymore. "N-not okay, Sammy."
"Why not?" Sammy sounded so confused. He was kneeling before Dean, both his huge hands cradling Dean's jaw, fingers wrapped around almost his entire head, and he leaned into Sammy's body heat like a flower seeking the sunlight that it needed to survive. "Dean, just tell me what you want."
"Want you to want," Dean gasped, forcing his eyes open. Sammy's face was blurry through the sting of his tears, but Dean wasn't crying anymore, and he blinked rapidly, struggling to clear his sight.
"What?" Sammy's thumbs were gentle as he brushed the dampness from Dean's cheeks, but the salt was still burning into his flesh. He hated crying, because it was weakness, but he hated it even more because his tears reminded him of being trapped in Her domain, where everything was salt and wet. "Dean, I'm not understanding you."
Dean sniffed, reaching up and grabbing Sammy's shirt at the collar, pulling at the same time he leaned forward, and mashing their mouths together. It hurt more than it felt good, but he used the pain to ground himself in this now. He needed to be here, with Sammy, not somewhere in his yesterdays, floating away in the ocean's tide.
"Want you to want," he repeated, sitting back on his heels and giving Sammy an earnest look. Sammy licked his lips and frowned, trying so hard to understand that Dean could see it. "Don't want...." He sucked in a deep breath, pressing one of his hands to the side of Sammy's face, the same way Sammy was holding him. The muscles of Sammy's jaw were tight under his trembling fingers. "I want you to shower with me and wash my hair because you want to," he said, making sure to enunciate each word clearly, focusing on them to make sure he said them in the right order. Everything was clear in his head, but he wasn't confident of his ability to communicate his feelings to Sammy. "Not because I want you to. I don't... don't want it if you don't want it."
Sammy blinked, then his mouth made a little "oh", and Dean knew that he got it.
Sammy smiled, suddenly, and then leaned forward to kiss Dean, a lot more softly than Dean had kissed him just before. Their lips clung together for a long, exquisite moment before Sammy pulled away.
"It makes me nervous," Sammy confessed softly, his thumbs brushing carefully over Dean's cheekbones, his gaze fixed on Dean's. "Sharing a shower with you. Because the first time we showered together after I got you back, you tried to..." his cheeks got pink, and Dean could smell the arousal in the growing heat of Sammy's body, so close to his own, "You tried to blow me. Do you remember?"
Dean shook his head silently. He tried, but he couldn't remember sharing a shower with Sammy. He had a few flashes of showering alone, here at Missouri's, which must be what Sammy had been talking about before, but he'd still been so broken then that a clear mental image didn't really remain.
"If we shower together now, do you promise not to... do that?" Sammy asked, and he was being so serious that Dean almost wanted to laugh at him, but he couldn't feel any laughter left in him. That was another thing that had been taken away.
"I promise," he said, because if that was all that was bothering Sammy, he could do as he'd been asked. It was so much better than being rejected. He did feel a little tingly at the idea of sucking Sammy's cock, but if Sammy wanted him to promise, he could be good. "I promise I won't try to blow you," he repeated, watching the heat bloom in Sammy's cheeks with an abstract fascination.
"And no touching me."
He scowled. Now, that he couldn't do. "Sammy, I need to touch you," he protested. "I want to." To illustrate his point, he smoothed his palms over Sammy's collarbones and shoulders. "Don't be mean."
Sammy stared at him a moment then huffed out a little sigh, hanging his head. "All right. Just.... Just remember that we're brothers, okay, Dean? Brothers don't.... And remember that Missouri and Dad and Bobby are all in the house too."
Dean blinked. He wasn't sure what that had to do with anything, but Sammy was agreeing to shower with him, so he just nodded. "Okay, Sammy."
Sammy gave him a long look, as though he suspected that Dean was only humoring him, but then he just shrugged and loosed his grip on Dean's face.
"The water's running," he said, giving Dean a tiny smile. "Go ahead and get in. I'll be right there."
Dean pursed his lips. He wanted to watch Sammy get undressed, but Sammy had said that he'd shower with him, so he didn't dare to push. "Okay," he agreed, though he did lean forward to claim another kiss before he rose obediently to his feet. Sammy flushed and clambered up awkwardly. Dean knew that it didn't matter how much bigger than him Sammy got -- he'd always be his baby brother.
Stepping into the shower stall, Dean breathed in the steam but kept the water off of him for a moment. He felt a little dirty, since he hadn't showered that morning, but the smell of Sammy was on his skin and he didn't want to wash it away until Sammy was in here with him. He let the steam curl around him, though, feeling it moistening his flesh. He reached up, making the drops dance around his fingertips. It was little harder with water that had run through filters and pipes than with rain falling directly out of the sky, but it was still easy enough.
Behind him, Sammy gasped. "I'd forgotten--" he blurted as he joined Dean in the shower. Dean let go, let the stream of hot water wash over him, plastering his hair to his skull, sluicing the itch of tears from his cheeks. "How do you do that, Dean?" Sammy asked.
"I do it," Dean said, because that was the only answer that he had. He turned to face Sammy, drinking in the sight of him the same way that his body was soaking up the hot water. Sammy was so big now. Tall, with broad shoulders and forever legs. His skin gleamed healthy and flushed where the warm shower water hit it, and his hair was beginning to coil in damp curls around his neck and face, even though his head wasn't in the water. His chest begged to be stroked, his stomach was firm and his hips were firmer, and his cock was so big and beautiful that it made Dean's mouth literally water. Damn, he regretted that promise now!
"Dean..." Sammy sounded nervous, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, but his gorgeous cock was swelling a little, and Dean had only promised not to suck it; he hadn't said anything about looking. "Dean, eyes up here, okay?"
"Okay, Sammy," Dean agreed, taking a step forward and one to the side, to share the water that was cascading down. Sammy reached one hand to steady him, since the shower floor was slippery, and Dean leaned into his brother's larger body. "Wanna kiss."
Sammy blinked rapidly, water drenching his lashes. "Then will you let me wash your hair?"
Dean nodded, because that was just awesome, getting something that he wanted in return for something that he also wanted. He lifted his chin, and Sammy's kiss was warm and soft and tasted like fresh water. It didn't last long enough, and Sammy lifted his head back up abruptly when Dean's tongue ventured out to trace the line of his lower lip between their mouths. But it had been good, and Dean could feel from the heated hardness pressing insistently into his hip when he butted up against Sammy, that his brother's body liked it just as much as Dean did, even if Sammy didn't want to admit it to himself or Dean.
"Thank you, Sammy," he said, and he couldn't really remember what it felt like to feel smug, but he did know that Sammy's eyes narrowed at him a little.
Sammy didn't say anything, though; just put his hands on Dean's shoulders and pushed him back a step, out of the water and between the wall and Sammy's bulk. He grabbed the shampoo and worked it quickly but carefully into a thick lather, brushing the bubbles off of Dean's forehead before they could fall into his eyes.
"All right, now tilt your head back further," Sammy instructed, maneuvering Dean under the spray of the shower again, gently running his fingers through Dean's hair as he rinsed the shampoo out. Dean's eyes were closed and he clutched at Sammy's arms when he got a little dizzy, but Sammy placed one huge hand on his back, between his shoulderblades and held him safely that way.
Once his hair was free of the suds, Sammy moved Dean again and massaged the condition in. Dean blinked, licking the water running down his face off of his lips, and gazed up at Sammy. His brother's face was close to his but higher, his expression focused, intent. Dean loved Sammy so much that he couldn't breathe for a moment, but he was able to begin again before Sammy noticed.
"Do you think you might like to grow your hair out, Dean?" Sammy asked, stroking it back out of his face and then cupping the back of his skull, still staring down at him, but now with an expression that Dean couldn't read.
"If you want me to," Dean answered, resting a palm over Sammy's chest, feeling the softness of his flesh, the firmness of his muscles, the steady beating of his heart.
"Nuh-uh," Sammy responded, startling him with a quick shake of his head. "You don't get to do that, Dean. You asked me to get in the shower with you because it was something I wanted. You can't decide to grow your hair out because it's something I want."
Dean made a frown at Sammy, but he knew that he was right. Sammy was right, but he was wrong too. "But I want it," he corrected. "I want it because you want it."
Sammy stared at him, his mouth twisted to one side, and it wasn't a smile. But he didn't say anything else, just rinsed the conditioner out of Dean's hair. It was slippery stuff, and Dean thought that it would make good lube if Sammy wanted to have sex with him... but if Sammy didn't even want Dean to blow him, then he probably wasn't ready for sex yet. Which was too bad.
"I guess I can understand that," Sammy finally allowed, once he was done with Dean's hair. He tugged Dean to rest his head against his bare chest, running his fingers through Dean's wet, tangle-free hair. "But I don't know if I like it. Really, Dean. If I hadn't said anything at all, would you want Dad to buzz your hair like he used to when you were a kid?"
Dean thought about that seriously, because Sammy asked it like it was a serious question. He thought about all the men who had grabbed him by the hair while fucking him, and that made him want to cry. But then he flashed on a jagged splinter of a memory, of Sammy's big hand running through his hair after getting him back, the way his fingers had tangled in his curls, and he knew what he really wanted.
"I want to grow it out," he said decisively, reaching up to touch it. "It was longer before... right?"
"Yeah. Dad cut it in the back," Sammy explained. "I got mad at him because he didn't ask you first. Of course, that was back when you weren't talking."
That made sense then. "Does Dad want me to have short hair?" Dean wanted to know, feeling anxious all of a sudden.
"That doesn't matter!" Sammy said viciously, his arms suddenly squeezing Dean up close to his chest. "All that matters is what you want. It's your hair!"
"Okay, Sammy," Dean comforted, reaching up and rubbing Sammy's back. The flesh was chill, the water beading on it cold, because it was on the opposite side of him from the hot water pouring out of the showerhead. "Sammy, you need to wash too."
"Can you soap yourself?" Sammy asked, letting go of Dean and grabbing the bottle of body wash. The shower was so small and Sammy was so big that they were bumping each other, but Dean liked that, liked being able to feel that Sammy was still there. "We need to hurry before we use up all of Missouri's hot water."
Dean made a noise of assent, but, really, he was mainly watching Sammy shampoo his hair. While he watched, though, he was rubbing the vanilla-scented body wash into his 'pits and crotch, getting the most important spots. He usually liked to give himself a thorough scrubbing, getting all of the filth and sweat and sex off of his body... but he didn't need to do that tonight. And besides, Sammy was a huge distraction standing right next to him, sharing the water with him.
His cock twitched as he soaped his balls, but he was a good boy and didn't wank it. Mainly because he wanted to touch Sammy's, but he'd sort of promised not to. He hadn't really promised, Sammy hadn't made him promise in so many words not to touch his brother's cock, but the implication had been there, that Sammy would be unhappy if Dean grabbed it. Which was silly, because Dean couldn't think of anything much better than being jerked off by someone you cared about... but Sammy was being really weird about all of this.
Sammy didn't leave the conditioner in his own hair anywhere near as long as he'd left it in Dean's and rinsed a lot more quickly as well. Dean wished that he could help Sammy the same way Sammy had helped him, but he was too short compared to his brother, and he couldn't reach without stretching. Besides, Sammy was already finished.
"Done with the soap?" Sammy asked, his eyes darting away from where Dean was absently touching himself with the hand not holding the bottle of body wash, his fingertips resting on the surface of his cock, pressed down slightly just for the feeling of it pressing back up. He wasn't very hard yet, but it was definitely hot and full down there, happy tingles running through him, originating from his groin. And he hadn't made any promises not to touch himself. He'd remember if he had.
Wordlessly, Dean handed his brother the soap, and Sammy took it, his face bright red. Dean could see the heat in Sammy's eyes as he averted them, but he could also see that he was uncomfortable. Sammy lathered up everywhere except his own cock. Dean thought that maybe he was afraid that if he touched it he'd give Dean bad ideas... or maybe he was worried it'd get even harder than it was.
It was really a nice cock, Dean thought with delight, trying to resist the urge to reach for it. He'd seen bigger, of course, but not very many. Sammy was definitely well endowed, and Dean wondered if he'd been jealous when they were growing up. He couldn't remember, couldn't reach those yesterdays, but he thought that maybe he'd been proud instead. Right now, though, he was just horny for it. But Sammy didn't want him to touch....
That was a real bummer. But Dean knew. He knew what it felt like to have things done to him without his consent. And there was absolutely no way he would ever do that to his Sammy. He'd die first!
But that didn't mean he couldn't try to convince Sammy to come around to Dean's way of thinking....
And then, abruptly, while he was still thinking on ways to convince his Sammy, the water went off.
"Let's get dried off," Sammy said, looking everywhere but at Dean. He grasped Dean's upper arm, clasping it tenderly but tugging firmly to guide his brother out of the shower. "Come on, Dean."
Dean went, because he couldn't think of anything else to do. Sammy wrapped a towel around his own waist, then used another towel to rub Dean dry. He could feel the friction tingling through his skin wherever Sammy's hands went, even though the blue terricloth was between them, and he squirmed a little, his cock getting harder.
"Sammy," he entreated, reaching up and ringing his arms around his brother's neck, pulling with all his might and standing on tiptoe, straining for a kiss. He could only be a good boy for so long, and he wanted Sammy to make him feel good.
Turned out he might have said that last aloud, if Sammy's anguished groan of, "Dean," and the sweet kiss that met his lips were any indication. Dean reveled in it, in the powerful hands that rested on his hips, holding him away from Sammy, but holding him nonetheless, enjoyed the clean taste of Sammy, the flavor of his lust, and there was nothing he wanted more than to drop to his knees for his brother, but he'd promised, dammit!
It had just struck him that he'd only promised about the shower, when Sammy broke their kiss and sank down to sit on the toilet. "Hang on, Dean," he commanded, out of breath, and Dean gravitated into the "v" between Sammy's thighs, his arms still locked around his brother's neck. This time he had to bend to pursue the kiss and he liked the reversal. His tongue flickered into the non-space between their lips, ventured into Sammy's mouth, and then Sammy was pushing him away and that just wasn't fair, because that wasn't what he wanted, and it couldn't possibly be what Sammy wanted!
"Dean, wait," Sammy told him, and Dean didn't want to hurt his brother, so he did as directed, standing up straight, his hands on Sammy's shoulders.
Sammy licked his lips, the swells pink with pressure and moist with their mingled saliva. Dean ran his tongue over his own lips, feeling the tingle, tasting Sammy on them, and he shivered with arousal.
"Let's get your boxers on," Sammy said, and those words were so far from what Dean would have thought that he'd hear that he'd stepped obediently into the article of clothing in question before he even realized. "There we go," Sammy said, and Dean had to grudgingly admire the skill with which Sammy had lifted the elastic waistband over his growing erection without having to touch it. He was unhappy, though, because now he was half dressed and Sammy didn't seem inclined to kiss him anymore.
"Sammy," he said, knowing that he sounded a little whiny, but not really caring. He'd been thwarted and he didn't like it.
"Dean, we can't," Sammy said quietly, patted Dean's hip, as though that was really going to make anything better, and giving him a crooked grin that didn't reach his eyes. "We just... we can't, okay?"
Dean sulked. He couldn't help it. He was upset and nothing Sammy said was going to make him feel better.
To his credit, Sammy didn't even try. He kissed Dean again, briefly, a silent apology, then helped Dean into his teeshirt before putting on his own pajama bottoms and tank.
Dean sighed, sad to see all that glorious flesh covered, though he was pleased with the way the clothes clung, since Sammy hadn't taken the time to dry off properly.
"Are you mad at me?" Sammy asked in a small voice, like Dean remembered from when he was in his yesterdays. It was the voice that meant Dean had worried Sammy, and he always hated hearing it because he hated to make Sammy feel bad for any reason.
"No," he grudged. They were both standing now, and he stepped into Sammy's body heat, relaxing a little when Sammy folded him into a tight hug. "Not mad," he clarified, because he wasn't mad, but he was definitely unhappy.
"Sit down now, okay?" Sammy urged, and before he knew, Dean found himself perched on the toilet lid, where Sammy had been sitting earlier. The fur was damp under his thighs, where the boxers didn't cover them, but he didn't mind. He watched curiously as Sammy got a glass of water at the sink and then rummaged in the pocket of the jeans he'd taken off before they'd showered.
He came up with a small plastic amber bottle with a white cap and a paper label that had neat typing on it, that Dean recognized. Dean's heart pounded against his breastbone and he bit his lower lip sharply enough to draw blood, but he remained silent. He'd seen those bottles before, with the little pills rattling inside. When Rodgers had made him take them, in his yesterdays, they had made him feel like he'd felt when he'd been trapped under the ocean, in Her clutches. All tangled and confused, his body out of his own control, and not able to take a complete breath.
His stomach was in knots, but he knew that Sammy wouldn't do anything to hurt him. He knew it.
"Missouri gave me these," Sammy was saying, shaking one small white circle into his palm. It almost vanished in the folds, but it was there, and Dean already knew that he was meant to take it. "It's okay, Dean. It's just something to help you to sleep better. Tomorrow Missouri's going to teach you how to shield, but tonight... well, she hasn't been able to sleep since we got here, and she said that you haven't been sleeping much either." Sammy fixed him with a look that was much stern as it was entreating. "She said you have lots of bad dreams, and since it's keeping both of you up, she wanted you to take this. So that you can both sleep."
Dean eyed the pill suspiciously. That was different than what the pills he'd been given before had done. And he trusted Sammy and Missouri enough to believe them, that this one was different. "It'll just make me sleep?" he asked, requesting a confirmation, seeking reassurance.
Sammy nodded, his gaze earnest and focused on Dean. "I swear, Dean. And I'll be there all night, holding you, and I'll be there when you wake up in the morning. If I could be in your dreams to protect you, too, I would."
"Okay." Dean nodded, deciding. Panic was beating with wild wings at the back of his mind, reminding him of what had always happened when he'd taken little pills before, but this was Sammy, and Sammy had promised that he'd keep him safe. "Okay, Sammy."
His brother looked relieved, and he squatted before Dean with the pill and the glass of water. Dean allowed Sammy to put the tiny pill on his tongue and he swallowed it down with only one last shiver of instinctive fear. But Sammy had promised.
By the time they were done brushing their teeth he could already feel the heaviness in his limbs, slowing his mind, and he was grateful for it. It wasn't like it had been before, it was like Sammy and Missouri had promised, and if he could sleep without dreams tonight... well, that would be just about the very best thing that had happened to him since he'd gotten his Sammy back. He sank into the embrace of the bed, into the protective circle of Sammy's arms, and the only thing he regretted was that the chemical slumber robbed him of the ability to do more than sleepily accept Sammy's good night kiss, rendered him unable to make a start on convincing Sammy.
But tomorrow would be time enough for that. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, and all his tomorrows with his Sammy stretched out before him, giving him comfort and confidence as he fell sound asleep.
And, as had been promised, Dean did sleep through the night without a single nightmare to disturb him.
With both of the Winchester boys sleeping quietly, Missouri had thought that she'd be undisturbed that night. She should have known better. Bobby was slumbering soundly downstairs, but there was one wakeful presence in the house, a fierce beacon of emotions both raw and repressed.
She didn't even bother knocking, since she knew that she'd be ignored. Instead, she just pushed the door open, standing there in her pink bathrobe and slippers, arms folded, a disapproving expression on her face.
"You know what your problem is, John Winchester?"
Dark eyes that neither of his sons had inherited narrowed as they swung around to focus on Missouri, but she was more than able to withstand the glare.
"No, but I'm sure that you have a list," he snapped, shoving the last of his freshly laundered clothing in his duffel.
"Your problem is that you're always looking for The Next Big Thing," Missouri continued, ignoring his aggressive tone. If John Winchester was going to take off on his boys, he wasn't doing so without getting an earful first.
He scowled at her, distracted from his packing or maybe he was just done with it. "What?" he asked, his voice flat.
Missouri shook her head, her arms folded where she was standing just inside the door to the guest room she'd given John. "The Next Big Thing. After your Mary, God rest her soul, was killed, you were after her murderer. Once you'd taken care of that nasty, you were searching for Dean. Now you have your boy back, and all you can think about is finding a way to 'fix' him."
"You think I shouldn't be looking for a way to get the Melusine's mark off Dean?" John snapped, pushed to the point of anger. Well, good. If she was here to bitch him out, it was better he respond in some way, any way, even if it was negative.
"That's not what I'm saying at all, and you know it," Missouri said, shaking her head. "Don't be stupid, John."
"Look, I can't research here," John said, his voice a low, tight growl. "I've already done as much as I could by phone and even on-line. Now I need to actually go--"
"You don't have to leave your son now," Missouri interrupted, not able to help herself. "For God's sake, John, you only just got him back! Dean needs you!"
"He needs Sam," John said, moving to check the dresser drawers even though Missouri knew that he knew they were empty. He'd already packed everything that he was taking with him. "He needs you. He doesn't need--"
"The boy needs his father!" She just couldn't believe that John wasn't getting it, even though she had already known how stubborn the man could be. "He needs you here!"
"Well, I can't be here!" John barked, and that was getting a little closer to the heart of the matter. He gave Missouri a glare that was as much agonized pleading as it was raw fury. "I can't just sit here when I know that out there is a way to get the mark removed from Dean's flesh! I can't just stay here and do nothing!"
Missouri shook her head, but remained silent a moment. There was a huge elephant in the room; the subject of the way that Sam and Dean were quickly becoming "SamandDean" all over again like they'd been when they'd been younger, only with the added flavor of incestuous sexuality to this closeness. She knew that John was aware of it, but he was desperately ignoring the entire thing. Because he loved his boys and if he acknowledged it he'd have to act against it.
"I don't want to leave," John offered her helplessly, when she said nothing, his hands spread as though in offering, in entreaty. "I don't want to leave my boys. But I can't stay."
"Well, at least now you're being honest about it," Missouri allowed.
John simply glowered at her.
"Don't you give me that look," she snapped at him, rapidly losing her patience, even though she'd intended to come in here and argue with him logically. "You know that I know, and I know that you know you haven't been being honest, with your boys or with yourself!"
If anything John's glare deepened. And even though he didn't speak the words aloud, they were loud and clear to Missouri. Did it ever occur to you that it's not right to go around reading people's minds?!
That, that stung. Not least because it was true in a way, but more so because;
"And did it ever occur to you, John Winchester, that I was never given a choice?!" She planted her hands on her hips and gave him a glare at least as hard and uncompromising as his own had been. "You think that God held out a hat of tricks to me and told me to pick one? You think I like hearing all the ugliness and insecurity and pain that strangers and friends hold in their hearts? You think I want this ability? But I do the best I can with it, I use it to help people. And there's nothing about that you have any right to criticize!"
"I'm sorry, Missouri," he said, his voice low and grating in his throat like gravel. And he was, and she knew it, because, hell, how could she not know? His emotions were so raw that she could have read them even if she hadn't been developing her abilities since before puberty.
She granted him a brief nod, because she forgave him his harsh words, spoken or not, but they resonated between them.
"I'm still leaving, though," John insisted, grabbing his bags and straightening his shoulders.
"And I can't convince you to stay long enough to say good-bye to them in the morning like a man?" Missouri asked, already resigned, because she knew the answer.
"You'll take care of them," John said, not bothering to reply, only focused on what was important to him.
"Of course." As if it was in question.
Missouri gave way as John stepped toward the door, because one plump, angry psychic wasn't enough to stop him and she was half afraid he'd bowl her over if she didn't move.
"Lock the door behind you," she instructed, turning away and walking back toward her bedroom. "And drive safely."
I know I'm being a coward and I don't care.
And since he hadn't said it out loud, they were both able to get the last word in... in a manner of speaking. Not that Missouri cared about that. She was about fed up with John Winchester, sort of wished she'd slapped him while she'd had the chance, but it was too late now, and at least she'd be able to sleep the rest of the night uninterrupted.
Those poor boys, though. They were going to be devastated, come the morning.
The worst thing was that because she was psychic, because she could read his thoughts, she understood why he was doing it. But understanding didn't have to entail approving. And she still thought that he was making a huge mistake.
Only time would be able to prove her right or wrong. She did wonder, though, which it would be.
Sam's world had been knocked on its side so many times in the last twenty-four hours -- never mind the last two years -- that he almost felt as though nothing he or his family did should surprise him any longer.
But waking up to discover that John had taken off hours early without a word and with no hint of how long he was going to be gone... well, that just stunned him.
"Damn bastard," Bobby growled, angry for more reasons other than the one he was articulating. "He could've at least offered to give me a ride home!"
"Sammy, where did Daddy go?" Dean asked in a tiny voice.
Sam didn't know what answer to give. Not even when he'd arrived in Stanford with nothing but his father's angry words and his brother's painful silence ringing in his head had he felt so alone. And the sympathetic look Bobby gave him and the tight hug Missouri gave Dean did absolutely nothing to help.