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Worth The Wait
by astolat

Sam couldn't remember a time when he didn't want Dean. As soon as he got old enough to want anyone at all, it started with Dean. At sixteen, Dean already had an overwhelming sensual presence: he lived wholeheartedly in his body, unashamed and easy about it, which was even more desperately attractive to a kid just starting the long awkward grind of puberty. And even if he hadn't been, more importantly Dean was his, the one thing in Sam's life that actually belonged to him.

Dean figured it out in the end; Sam couldn't hide something like that, twelve years old and turning it into the end of the world like only a twelve year old could. It sat in his stomach like a hard sick lump all the time. He was nasty to Dean's girlfriends and angry at Dean, and cried himself to bed at night with jealousy, feeling stupid and inadequate and scared: something gone wrong with him, like it was wrong with his whole family, his whole world.

Dean was baffled at first and then he was hurt and then he was pissed off, and then one day Sam walked in on him making out on the couch with his latest girl. She was beautiful, heaps of dark hair and brown eyes and full breasts in Dean's hands, and Dean was grinning up at her with his head thrown back, beaming like she was the only thing in the world. Sam ran past them into the bedroom and sat down with his back to the slammed door and just shook and shook, tears rolling down his face.

He heard her giggle and he put his hands over his ears, so he didn't hear the front door open and close. Then Dean tried to open the bedroom door. "Goddammit, Sam, open up," he yelled, banging on it.

"What, the couch isn't good enough?" Sam yelled back meanly, trying not to let his voice crack.

Dean put his shoulder to the door and heaved, sending Sam spilling over the floor. Dean walked in and said angrily, "Dude, the hell—" and then he stopped, seeing the wet hopeless misery of Sam's face, and just stood there. Sam curled himself up small, pulled in his stupid gangly legs and hunched up against them, waiting for the hammer to fall.

Dean ran a hand over his mouth. After a minute he said quietly, "Come on, Sammy, we'll go catch a movie."

Sam didn't really believe it was going to be okay yet. He snuffled into the back of his hand warily. "With her?"

"Nah," Dean said. "She had to go home."

Sam knew to the minute when it hit Dean too. It was Sam's sophomore year of school. He'd spent the last six months growing another foot, and he was finally starting to fill out sideways on the protein bars he ate by the box and the half-gallon of milk he drank every morning, determined to make the basketball team even though they'd moved once already this school year.

He came home from practice, sweaty and still panting from the run home, and Dean was cleaning guns at the kitchen table. Dad was off on another three-day trip somewhere. Sam went straight for the fridge, took off his shirt and stood there with the fridge door open, cold air pebbling his nipples, drinking the other half of the gallon straight from the milk jug, and then he turned around to put the empty jug down and Dean was staring at him, with his hands tight on the gun.

Sam stared back, heart pounding, wanting, waiting, and then Dean said, kind of choked, "Dad."

Sam looked away. "Yeah."

That was the most they ever talked about it. But after that, it was always there, for both of them.

Sometimes, most of the time, it was okay; they didn't think about it, and it was pretty easy to keep a lid on it. And then sometimes it wasn't.

The first half of Sam's junior year, Dad moved them even more than usual—like he'd decided that now Sam was sixteen, old enough to drop out legally, school didn't matter much anymore. Sam couldn't get to know anyone, anywhere; by the fifth school in four months, he stopped trying to learn names. He didn't want to learn names. He skipped lunch and hid out in the library so he wouldn't have to sit alone every day, even though he got so hungry he hurt. He couldn't get on any teams or clubs, so instead he signed up for track and did extra-credit projects: science fair, math tournament, essay contests. He won a bunch of prizes, and the only person who cared was Dean; even if the way he showed it was shaking his head and popping Sam in the shoulder with a fist and saying, "Dude, how did you get to be such a geek?"

One of his teachers made him do a group project though, and by the end of it he was sitting with Rich or Danielle or Lou at lunchtime, with their pals, and then Danielle kicked him under the table and said, "Sherryl wants you to ask her out, dumbass," and Sam ended up at a few parties without really meaning to, and then Dad came home from a week's trip and said, "Start packing up, we'll be moving this weekend."

Sam stood up and threw his physics textbook into the TV, and slammed out of the house before the sparks had quit flying. He ignored Dad yelling behind him and just ran and ran and ran.

He ended up at the spot on the riverbank, under the rotting old bridge at the north end of town, where the local kids went to hang out and drink: the kind of detail he'd tried not to find out about because it was just another thing to lose, another thing he wouldn't know when they got to the next place. He sat down on the sloping bank in the dark, above the glittering trash heap of silver foil wrappers and broken bottles, old cigarette butts. He didn't have a jacket, and the sweat was cold on his skin by the time Dean found him, the Impala growling to a stop on the shoulder of the road up above.

Sam hunched forward. Dean slithered down the bank and sat down next to him with a heavy thump, propping his arms on his bent knees. "Dude, I was watching that," he said.

"Don't," Sam said, looking away.

Dean dropped his head and they sat together in silence.

"I don't even know anyone in town enough to ask if I can crash," Sam said.

"Screw that, you're coming home," Dean said.

"I'm not," Sam said, even though he already knew he was. "And I'm not going, either. I'll hitch to a city somewhere and get a job, I'll sleep in a shelter—"

"Don't you even fucking joke—" Dean grabbed him, pinning Sam's arms to his sides, gave him a rough shake, and Sam just kept leaning forward until his head hit Dean's shoulder and started crying, raw gulping sobs that made his throat ache.

"Aw, fuck, Sammy," Dean said, and his arms came up around Sam's shoulders. Sam put his arms around Dean, and they ended up flat on the ground, Sam stretched out on top of Dean with Dean's hands stroking his head helplessly. Sam's face was buried against Dean's neck; his skin was warm, smelled faintly of bitter smoke and sweat, and the pulse was steady and even under Sam's lower lip where it was pressed up to the skin.

He quieted, slow, and didn't move; his breath still came out ragged. Dean eased them up again, carefully, like Sam might break in his hands, and opened up a little space between them. Sam blindly scrubbed the back of his hand over his face and shook his head, and then he leaned in again, at a different angle.

Dean caught him by the shoulders and held him off. "Sam," he said, so close his breath puffed frosted white air on Sam's mouth, and there was something scared and low in his voice. There wasn't a lot of force behind his grip. Sam could've pushed through it easily.

Sam swallowed and backed off. "Come on," Dean said, after a minute, and they climbed up to the top of the hill and got into the car. When they got back to the old rented house, Dean said, "Stay in the car," and went inside without him. After about half an hour he opened the front door and called Sam in.

Dad grounded Sam for a month, and made him do yardwork until he paid off the TV, but they didn't move again until the summer. Sam never found out what Dean had said.

Sam spent his twenty-first birthday telling his friends that he had a test the next day, putting off invitations to go drinking. He didn't know why he was lying to them until he got back to his dorm and saw the Impala parked out front, Dean stretched out on the hood with his jacket off and his sunglasses on, basking in the California sunshine. Sam went up and smacked his foot. "Dude, what're you doing here?"

Dean sat up and slid off the shades, grinned. "Come on, Sammy, you knew I wasn't going to miss this one."

Sam huffed a laugh, and he couldn't help grinning back. "Yeah, I guess I did."

Dean had somehow managed to find a seedy strip club in walking distance of the Stanford golf course, and they spent the first half of the night getting plastered and the second half lying out on the green near the fifteenth hole with the six-pack of beer Dean had laid in for the wind-down, laughing stupidly over the stories they'd saved up for the last couple of months. Then all of a sudden Dean wasn't really laughing any more, and he sat up and rested his forehead against his hand.

Sam sat up, slowly. "Dean?"

"Fuck, I miss you, you stupid little bitch," Dean said, sounding low and sick, and then he added, "I think I'm gonna hurl."

He puked into a trash can in the parking lot, and then crawled into the back seat of the Impala. Sam had mostly just been nursing his bottle the last hour; he put his hand into Dean's pocket for the keys.

"Little to the left," Dean said, eyes closed; he had his arm thrown up over his face. "Oh, yeah, there."

"Hilarious," Sam said, fishing out the keyring. He drove the car back to the dorms and managed to squeeze it into a street parking spot only three blocks away. He slung Dean's arm over his shoulder and they staggered all the way up to his tiny single room. He put Dean down on his bed, then he made coffee on his hot plate and stayed up working on his econ problem set while Dean slept.

Dean woke him up in the morning, thumbs already pressing the crick out of Sam's neck where he'd slumped down onto the desk. "Aah," Sam said, barely awake and inarticulate. Dean kept rubbing gently, desperately, until Sam finally whispered, "Dean." It was a plea, and it didn't have a lot of strength behind it.

Dean stopped, lifted his hands away. "I better get on the road if I'm going to miss the traffic," he said, and clapped Sam on the shoulder.

Sam didn't hear from him again for a long time. He was mad enough, after a year, that he probably wouldn't have answered the phone. Not on the first ring, anyway.

Day after day, sleeping a foot away from each other, hours in the car with no one else breaking into their circle of two. Jess was Sam's armor. Dean used good-time girls instead, and kept trying to push Sam at them too.

"Fine, see if I care, you turn into a monk or something," Dean said, when Sam yelled at him, except he looked away while he said it, a swallow showing in his throat, and Sam looked at it and wanted to put his mouth over that jumping movement, and Dean was just trying to save them both, because Jess's ghost wasn't next to him in the car every day anymore.

Once in a while, Dean tried to sell him on the idea of the two of them picking up a couple of girls at once. Sam wasn't going anywhere near that. He already felt a low vicious jealousy about the girls Dean hooked up with; the last thing he needed was to be there when it happened. He didn't tell Dean that part, though, because he was kind of ashamed about it: he knew Dean didn't feel the same way.

When Dad died, it should've gotten harder not to. It should've been one big bold-letter reason lost. Instead it got easy, because Dean just didn't want anything. He didn't even flirt with girls, not for months, and meanwhile Sam was too busy being scared to death Dean was going to slip away from him. He knew he was clutching too hard in his panic, knew he was making things worse sometimes, being clumsy and hurting Dean, and he figured that was one more reason why Dean kept flinching away from him, kept not meeting his eyes; he figured that Dean was just half-pissed at him all the time and too fucked-up already to want anything more in the mix.

Then Dean told him Dad's little secret, and after that Sam was so wild with terror he didn't really know what the fuck he was doing one minute to the next. He tried to make Dean promise to stop him and grabbed at him crazy the next, and it wasn't because of the tequila, either; it was just Sam being a stupid twelve-year-old again, wanting to be told it was all okay, that he could have what he wanted, that there wasn't something wrong with him.

Dean shoved him down into the nearest bed and told him to go to sleep. Sam turned and pressed his face into the pillows, the ones that smelled like Dean, and let the tears come.

The night the yellow-eyed demon died, they all went back to Bobby's, salted the windows and doors fresh, and then got drunk off their asses celebrating, whiskey going down like water, and late that night Dean came sneaking into Sam's room on sock feet, whispering, "Sam," and tugging at the covers Sam had tucked under him, trying to get in. They were both blind drunk; Sam peeled them back and let Dean crawl inside with him, Dean took five minutes just to get Sam's belt buckle open, and then Sam took another five to figure out that Dean was trying to grope him, why Dean was all of a sudden trying to grope him, and to knock him on his ass out of the bed.

"You, you goddamn son of a," Sam said, slurring and pissed, "you fucker, don't you fucking," he thrashed his way out of the covers and fell out of the bed onto the floor, grabbed Dean and shook him like a doll.

"Ow, fuck," Dean said, pushing feebly.

"Shut up," Sam said, "fuckin' jerk, you, don't you fucking dare give up on me, shut up, shut up," and started crying.

"Aw, Sammy, c'mon, don't," Dean said, and started sniffling too. "S'ok, s'all okay."

"S'not okay, asshole," Sam said, smacking him on the chest over and over. "I hate you, you're not, you're not doin' this to me; bitch isn't gonna get you, not gonna let her," and then Dean had Sam's hand clutched and was saying, whispering, "Sammy, 'm sorry, I had to, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," and kissing his forehead, and they woke up in the morning in a mess on the floor with Sam's dick still hanging out of his boxers, Dean's tears and snot clumping up his hair, and a deep imprint of Dean's medallion on his face.

"Good look for you, Sammy," Dean said, cracking up. Sam punched him in the arm and shoved his dick back in his pants.

"I mean it, Dean," Sam said to Dean's back, before he could get out of the room.

"Dude, something's wrong with you," Dean said. "People go on benders, they're not supposed to remember the stupid shit they say."

"Yeah, well, I don't care," Sam said. "I swore I was going to save you, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. So you don't get to act like you got just one year to live."

Dean swallowed and said roughly, "Yeah, all right."

They went out to the kitchen for coffee.

After breakfast, Dean went to do a little work on the car and swap in some spare parts while they were in Bobby's yard; Sam went out back the other way, walked all the way down to the far end of the yard out of sight of the house, and lined up a bunch of pieces of scrap.
Ava'd been able to control demons. Some low-level ifrit wasn't going to be the same thing as the crossroads demon, but Sam figured he had a couple hundred out there to practice on before it came showtime. And then he was going to put that bitch on her knees and make her beg to let Dean go.

Meanwhile, he had a learning curve to get started on. He looked at the first piece of scrap, and it skittered away a few inches, drawing a shaky line in the ground.

Learning how to use the powers was hard, especially making sure Dean didn't know about it. Funny thing was, when it finally came down to the fight, it was easy.

Sam licked the edge of his thumb where it had gotten a little burned. "You know, I don't get it," he said. "I don't get why we haven't been." He looked thoughtfully down at the charred and smoking corpses at his feet, then looked back at Dean, still tied up and gagged on the bed where the hunters had put him. They should've known better than to touch him. "I know it was both of us, I remember all of it, I just can't understand why—" he shrugged. "Anyway."

He crossed the room and swung his leg over to straddle Dean's thighs, cupped Dean's face in his hands. Dean's eyes were bloodshot and crusty, dark bruises under them. The gag unknotted itself, and Sam gently and carefully took it out of Dean's mouth. "Sam," Dean said, hoarse from shouting, behind the gag.

"Shh," Sam said, and kissed him for the first time ever, slow and sweet and luxurious. Dean's mouth tasted like metal and smoke, and his lips were dry and cracked. Sam licked over them with the tip of his tongue, gentle, softening them up. Dean was shuddering under him. "It's okay," Sam murmured. "Did they hurt you?" Sam slid his hand over Dean's chest. The shirt curled away under his fingertip, opening up for him. All Dean had were bruises, a few scrapes. Sam bent his mouth to them and kissed them.

"Don't," Dean said, panting, trying to twist away. "Don't, Sam, don't."

"It's going to be so good, Dean," Sam said. "We should've never been afraid of it. Just like the rest, Dean, we should never have been afraid of any of this."

"It's not you," Dean whispered. "Sammy, this isn't you. You wouldn't—"

"Yeah it is," Sam said, and kissed him again. He caught sight of the movement just out of the corner of his eye, but Bobby was already swinging the poker before he could block it.

He woke up chained down with steel cuffs bolted into concrete, blindfold over his eyes, gag in his mouth, naked, in the middle of a pentacle drawn in salt lines. He could feel the energy radiating against his bare skin. He tried to rip the bolts out of the ground, tried to get the gag out, but there was some kind of spell on them; it made them slippery somehow, he couldn't get his head wrapped around them. He panted, jerked struggling against the cuffs, felt the edges scraping his wrists.

"Don't touch him," Bobby said, sharply, somewhere up above him.

"Fuck you," Dean said, low and harsh, and knelt down next to him and put his hand on Sam's shoulder. "Sam, come on. Don't hurt yourself. It's gonna be all right." His hand rubbed in slow comforting circles down over Sam's chest, over his belly. "You gotta trust me, Sammy. I'm gonna save you. It's my turn again now, right?"

Sam could've sent an electrical charge up through Dean's hand, fried him to black powder and ash; he could've put something in Dean's head, made him see something that would've gotten him to take out the gag, maybe; he could've dragged Dean down on top of him, until he felt something, a knife or a gun, something against his skin that he could grab and use.

"It's all right," Dean said, his hand stroking Sam's neck, down his chest. "It's all right, Sammy. I've got you. You took care of me, I'm gonna take care of you now." The rage and the terror ebbed a little. Sam made a small noise behind the gag.

"All right, I'm ready," Bobby said. "Dean, you sure about this? It's not—if this doesn't work, I can't put it back. If half's not enough, for him, for either of you—"

"Then you get out and you blow the place, like we agreed," Dean said flatly. He reached down and squeezed Sam's hand, and then he got up. Sam couldn't see, but he could hear him moving around, taking his clothes off. Dean lay down next to him, and took hold of his hand. "Do it."

It felt strange, not bad but weird, like in sixth grade when Dad had finally taken him to get his chipped tooth fixed after four months, and the sharp edges went away and there was something new his tongue kept bumping into when he went to worry at it. This new feeling didn't really have a place, exactly; it was more like a kind of floaty space under his ribcage somewhere, or sometimes it was in his head.

"Sorry it's, uh, kind of used," Dean said, shoulder pressing up against Sam's, their thighs snug together. "A little second-rate. But I figure, you'd got it back for me, so—"

"It's just what I wanted," Sam said. His hand was under Dean's shirt, curled around his waist; he didn't feel whole inside his skin unless they were touching, anymore.

Bobby kept looking at them kind of wary, and he insisted on their staying a couple of months; to rest up, he said, but really so he could keep an eye on them. He bunked Dean down the flight of creaky stairs, and Sam in the little room upstairs next to his own, but it didn't make a difference; they always woke up together, usually on the floor because neither of the beds were big enough, cuddled together in their sweats and t-shirts under a pile of blankets and breathing each other's breath: in and out, the same rhythm, keeping time.

Bobby threw up his hands after a week and let them have the room over the barn with the old queen-size bed. He wasn't closing his eyes to anything; there was nothing to close his eyes to. Sam had forgotten what it was like to be near Dean and not want him; to be able to curl up with him and smell him and taste his breath and have it mean home, and peace, and safety. It was something he'd lost at the age of twelve, when he'd grown up just a little too much.

But souls turned out to be like livers or something: the piece Dean had given him grew slow but sure to fill in that big hollow space. After six weeks or so it didn't feel like half of him was inside Dean's skin anymore, and one morning Sam opened his eyes and saw Dean sleeping next to him, and it still meant all those things, but it meant something else, too, and when his hand slid onto Dean's waist and woke him up, Sam saw in Dean's face it meant something else to him, too.

"Dean," Sam said softly, "I still can't remember why not."

"Sam," Dean said, and Sam leaned across the space and kissed him, slow and sweet and chaste, mostly just brushing their chapped lips together. "Sam," Dean said again, and then they were both at it crazy, frantic, desperate, Dean's mouth slicking heat across his jaw, his shoulders. Sam wanted to bite him, to suck on him, everywhere, everywhere; licked his tongue all the way across Dean's stubbled raspy jaw, got Dean's ear in his teeth for a little while, Dean gasping and straining against him, muttering, "Sam, Sam, Jesus," fingers digging into Sam's shoulders, hands hungry and desperate on each other. Sam shoved his sweatpants out of the way and Dean's too, and they were rutting and squirming and getting everything off, the whole bed jouncing around under them.

Dean got his hand around Sam's cock, thumbing the head slick, and Sam pretty much just came. Dean didn't even wait for Sam to get that far, just rubbed up against Sam's hip and was gone. They stayed curled together, sticky and wet and kissing, and then Sam dropped his head against Dean's shoulder and started laughing.

"Dude," Dean said.

"Just," Sam said, "all these years, and now, what was that, thirty seconds—" and he wasn't sure for a second if he was going to keep laughing or start crying.

Dean was quiet against him, breathing deep next to him, his hands messing through Sam's hair, rubbing at his head and his neck, saying silently it was going to be years, it was going to be forever, and what he said out loud was, "Yeah, but come on, Sammy. That was a pretty awesome thirty seconds."

"Yeah," Sam said, and it was going to be laughter after all.

= End =

With many thanks to Merry and Ces! ♥

All feedback much appreciated!
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