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Title: Brush Strokes
Author: [livejournal.com profile] mya_rofki
Rating: PG-13
Words: 2,000
Characters: Dean/Sam, OFC
Warnings: bad language, nongraphic references to past underaged daddycest noncon
Summary: Sequel to Sin's a Curse and the Cure Is Worse Dean and Sam through the eyes of a neighbor with a lot of curiosity about the worrying boys upstairs. You should read the other one first or it won't make much sense.
Disclaimer: They're not mine and I'm not making any money off this.














Sophie Sheldon is deeply lost in the challenge of representing a stand of bamboo on paper too thin for mistaken strokes to be corrected. That’s how Chinese brush painting works: you paint the same few strokes over and over and you get every one of them right the first time, or you crumple up your paper and throw it in the trash.

The door above slams shut with a bang that makes her brush skip- which, fuck - and there’s the heavy clatter of someone rushing down the stairs at breakneck speed. It’s the older boy from upstairs, she knows that instantly. The younger boy is probably too small to make that much noise and he never comes out anyway.

She hears him rush through the hallway outside her door and then the bang of the front door slamming behind him, and only wastes a minute to glumly study the glistening splotch that’s finished off a rather mediocre picture before she moves to the kitchen window to rinse her brush and look for his retreating back. She's disappointed to find no sign of him.

So she’s nosy. So sue her. By rights, she probably ought to have called the authorities about the kids by now. It seems pretty definite they’re not doing what they technically should be, like attending school for example. If she were any other neighbor, she’d have narced on them already. It’s only her strong personal hatred of meddling that’s held her back. Still, the guilt’s been building with every day that passes without a glimpse of the younger one, and with every time she tries to engage the older one in a little light prying and gets completely (generally smarmily) stonewalled. Not that she knows there’s anything really wrong going on up there, if she had proof of that she’d be singing like a canary to anyone who would listen. But she is getting more worried about it. That’s at least half of why she eavesdrops and spies every chance she gets. Or anyway, that’s why she doesn’t have to feel bad about her healthy curiosity.

The next thing she hears is a muffled thud against the side of the house, which has her scrambling for the living room window, wondering What the hell? and hoping that whatever that was, it isn’t going to involve interviews with the authorities that will take all her good painting time until she has to go to her night class. Or, you know, involve her having her throat slit by a psycho killer.

It’s the guy from upstairs, she sees as she takes up a position behind the edge of the drapes that lets her watch him without too much chance of being seen. The noise is extra loud because she’s got her window open a couple inches at the top. Consequently, she can hear the extremely cringe-inducing sound of his knuckles impacting the vinyl siding, once, twice, three times, clear as a bell. Then he leans his forehead against the wall and stands there panting, shoulders hunched up around his ears. The building’s shaped like an ‘L,’ with the attached garage he’s attacking making up the short leg, so she can’t see his face, just his back and the back of his head. She wonders whether this is the time when she should call the police, but it seems like overkill.

The vinyl siding isn’t feeling any pain, and it is pretty offensive.

Anyway, he’s stopped hitting it now.

If he was hitting anything else before he rushed out there, say, someone smaller and weaker than him who he keeps locked in his apartment, she would’ve heard it right? She wasn’t that involved in the painting that she would’ve missed something like that. There wasn’t even an argument that she could hear, and she knows from the previous tenants just how well the floorboards let arguments slip through: not really clear enough to hear every word, but certainly clear enough to know that’s what’s woken you up at 3AM.

There’s a muffled thump-thump-thump on the stairs and if she were a cat her ears would be swivelling. The front door bangs shut with a softer bang than before. She keeps her eyes peeled out the window and sure enough, a few seconds later, enter the younger boy.

It’s the first good look she’s gotten at the kid in daylight. He looks smaller than she remembered, or maybe it’s how his shoulders are hunched under his white cotton tee and his pale legs poke thin and naked out of his worn blue boxers. His hair is all mussed and if she could get a good look at his face she bets it would be dull with sleep. The older boy is fully dressed in his own personal style: ripped jeans, black t-shirt, heavy boots. The younger one is just wearing socks on his feet. One is grey and the other is white and flaps off the end of his toes as he trots.

“Dean,” he calls softly, urgently, and halts a few feet behind the older one. “Dean, what’s going on?” The older boy whirls around, giving Sophie her first good look at his face. There are lines of tension carved around his mouth, between his eyes. His voice when he speaks is angry and loud.

“What are you doing? You’re not even wearing any pants! Go back upstairs, Sam! Jesus!”

In a motion that takes her a moment to interpret it’s over so fast, he swipes at his eyes roughly. He’s crying.

He’s probably nineteen or twenty years old, walks with this irritating macho swagger all the time, wears a leather jacket and drives a muscle car and hits on her every time they talk though she’s at least ten years older. But today his eyes are wet and his face is red. He’s crying. Why on Earth would he be crying?

Dean and Sam are not the names they gave the landlord, she notes also. They’re supposedly brothers whose parents died this year in a car crash. She was never sure she should believe that, but still, it’s unsettling to know the names they gave are a lie. How old is the younger kid? Are they even brothers? Do they have parents still alive somewhere? She has a lot of questions for them. To her shame, if she could pick one question to be answered, what she most wants to know is still why Mister God’s-Gift-to-Women is crying.

The younger boy takes a couple steps back, then stops. “What happened?” he asks, voice almost too soft for her to hear. His back is still to her and all she can see is the tension in his shoulders, his skinny neck. Nonetheless, he’s planted himself and seems prepared to stand his ground.

If the older guy, Dean, makes one threatening move she’s calling the cops, she promises herself. If they’re not doing anything wrong she doesn’t want to screw up the life they’ve got going, but she’s not going to stand by if she doesn’t like what she sees either. Not even if it means losing all afternoon to interviews and signing statements or something.

The older one squeezes his eyes shut and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Nothing, Sam. Would you go inside?”

“No. Tell me.”

“No.”

“Tell me.”

“No!”


“Tell me what’s wrong. Why’re you crying?” Sam has the dog-with-a-bone thing down. Maybe they are brothers.

“I’m not.”

Sam snorts, snaps “Don’t lie. It’s stupid.”

Dean finally drops his hand and opens his eyes.

“You were talking in your sleep,” he says quietly and looks away, out toward the street.

“What was I saying?” Sam’s voice wavers slightly. Dean just shrugs and doesn’t look back at him. “Could you hear me? What I was saying? Sometimes when you talk in your sleep it’s just, like, mumbling....”

“I talk in my sleep?” Dean quickly looks back at the kid.

“Yeah, you do. Sometimes.”

“When it’s not mumbling what am I saying?”

“Tell me what I said and I’ll tell you what you say,” Sam offers.

“Why do you- Seriously Sam. I don’t feel like repeating it, okay?”

“I want to know.”

“Well, I don’t care what you want. It’s not- I mean- Why are you acting like a fucking moron about this? You can’t guess what you say?” Dean’s voice is getting tight again, and his face is fiercely reddening. “You know what you’re dreaming about! Don’t make me say it cause it’s a bitch move, Sam! It’s not enough I gotta hear it and think- and know-” Dean presses his lips together and shakes his head, unable to continue without embarrassing himself. Another tear trickles down his face, uninterrupted, and his hands clench and unclench at his sides.

“I just wondered,” Sam mutters, low and ashamed, and it sounds like he’s crying now too. “I just wondered. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean..." He turns his face to wipe his nose on his shoulder and Sophie gets a glimpse of wet lashes and pale cheeks. "Sorry Dean.”

“I thought you didn’t want to talk about it anyway,” Dean says gruffly.

“I don’t,” Sam wipes his nose again, giving Sophie another brief flash of misery.

“Then don’t!” Dean snaps. Then he sighs and the anger seems to drain out of him, along with the strength. He sags back against the house, slides down it, ends up on his ass with his feet flat on the ground and his arms resting on his bent knees. His hands dangle limply off his wrists. His head tilts back and his eyes slip closed. He has the most beautiful face when it's not leering or angry. “I’m sorry, Sammy. I just hate hearing that shit. It’s not your fault. I’m not mad at you.”

“Are you still as mad at him?”

Dean’s eyes pop open like he’s been tased. “What? What do you think? You think I’m ever gonna stop fucking wanting to kill him? Hell, I’ll probably come back as a fucking ghost when I die!”

“Don’t make me hunt you,” Sam says quietly. Sniffles loudly.

Dean relaxes a little bit. “I will haunt your ass if I do come back. Make sure you’re eating your Wheaties and not doing stupid shit to my stuff.”

Sam sniffles again, then shuffles over to Dean, sock flopping, and takes a seat against his side. Dean makes a hesitant move with his arm, lifts it like he’s gonna wrap it around Sam’s shoulders, but then halts and lets it drift back down to his knee.

“It's okay,” Sam murmurs, quietly enough Sophie has to read it off his lips, and Dean goes ahead and lifts that arm again, wraps it around Sam and pulls him tightly in against his side. Sam's face is thin like he's been ill, and messy bangs obscure a lot of it. It makes it difficult to decide if there's a family resemblance or not. Not that that means anything. Actions speak louder than bone-structure. He leans loosely into Dean and they gaze at the far-off horizon with identical weary expressions.

Peace reigns in the yard.

Sophie is afraid to attract their attention now that they’re both facing her way and quiet, so she doesn’t move, though she itches to. She really doesn't want to be caught spying on this moment.

“Once you said ‘Pass the otters,’” Sam says solemnly, sneaking a glance up at Dean.

“No way I said that,” Dean answers without missing a beat.

“You so did. I listened, but you didn’t say anything else to, like, explain it. You sounded kinda pissed about it, though. Kinda cranky.”

Dean frowns at the word ‘cranky’ and the corner of Sam’s mouth turns up in a smirk. After a second of glaring Dean turns his face away and only Sophie can see how his mouth curls into a lopsided smile. It isn’t a shape you’d find in a bamboo grove, but maybe later she’ll try to invent a stroke like that. It’s just a simple kind of asymmetrical curve and she wants to dash it off perfectly over and over, scatter it across a page until an entire picture forms from it.

She’ll have plenty of time to try it this afternoon, since she won’t be needing to call the police after all.

“Whoever the asshole was, and it was probably you,” she hears as she stealthily crouches below window level and sneaks away, “Shoulda passed me the goddam otters the first time I asked.”










And if you're interested now there's another part here. :)




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