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Title: What You See When My Eyes Close
Author: [livejournal.com profile] mya_rofki
Rating: PG-13
Words: 4,000
Characters: Sam/Dean, OFC (her appearance is brief)
Warnings: swearing, nongraphic references to past underage daddycest noncon
Summary: Sam and Dean try to heal and work out a healthy way to be (with mixed results.) Continuation of Sin's a Curse and the Cure is Worse and Brush Strokes. You should probably read those two first or this one won't make much sense.
Disclaimer: They don't belong to me and I'm not making any money off of this. Please don't sue.















Sam wakes to Dean shaking his shoulder, mumbling “I gotta go out Sam. Up and at ‘em.” Wearily he hauls himself out of bed. He makes it all the way to the front door before he thinks to look at the clock.

5:00 AM.

He halts.

“Dean?” Behind him Dean stops too and sighs. A large hand comes down on his head, ruffles his hair.

“Don’t ask, ‘kay kiddo?” Even if Dean weren’t saying it through a yawn Sam would know he was still half asleep, because the only time Dean touches him anymore is when he’s not thinking.

He misses it sometimes. A lot. He misses the casual roughness and the casual affection. They used to roughhouse, wrestle, tug of war over stupid things or nothing at all. They were brothers. They used to touch like brothers. Later they also used to just kiss sometimes, not to start something, but to tease or make each other laugh, gasp, shut up. And yeah, sometimes to start something. They were still brothers first, but there was also that.

The hardest thing about missing the way they used to be is that he knows it's his messed up head holding them back. If he really tried, couldn’t he get himself to stop shying away like an innocent maiden? He’s the one keeping them so artificially separate with the flinching that he can't control any better than some stupid dog can control itself when it sees a squirrel.

But this morning, half-asleep time, when Dean forgets not to ruffle his hair Sam forgets to flinch, and for some reason right then everything feels different.

Heart beating ridiculously fast, Sam leans back, back, until his shoulders come in contact with Dean’s stomach. Dean tenses immediately, and Sam hears him take a quick breath, then let it out slowly. He feels the muscles radiating warmth through his thin t-shirt relax. Sam lets Dean take a little more of his weight and thinks about trust exercises. He doesn't remember Dad ever including any in training because there was never any need for them between Dean and him.

“When will you be back?” he asks.

“This evening, no later than 6:00. I'll bring burgers back for dinner. S'mostly driving time-” Dean is striving for casual and almost hitting it, voice just a little rough. Then Sam sneaks his fingers around Dean’s hand, pulls it around to rest, warm and relaxed, so so carefully loose, on his belly and Dean's sentence is left to hang, eternally unfinished.

Sam closes his eyes and lets himself feel. The world at his back is soft and warm. He can pick out each individual fingertip on his belly. He’s willingly half-asleep again. He’s holding onto that fuzzy dreamy feeling for all he’s worth.

“Sammy,” Dean breathes. Sam hums in response and relaxes a little more, fitting every millimeter of himself against Dean. He presses Dean’s hand tighter against his stomach, flattening it to cover as much area as possible. Dean’s scent fills his nose. He turns his head so his face is closer to Dean’s armpit, breathes in deep. Dean would call him a freak, but Sam’s caught Dean sniffing his hair before, his feet. At this moment, when Sam isn’t awake enough to be afraid of it, he admits that he wants all of Dean. He’ll never be able to change that and he doesn’t ever want to. Not even if it dooms the ground under their feet to being warped and slippery and thin as a lacquered over sheet of plywood.

“You’ll be back for dinner?” he repeats drowsily.

“Yeah, Sammy. I’ll be back for dinner.” Dean’s voice is hoarse. It could be tears or it could be lust. Without seeing Dean’s face there’s no way to tell. It doesn’t matter which. This isn’t a trust exercise.

“When I can’t stand being touched,” Sam murmurs without opening his eyes, feeling like he’s asleep and dreaming and for once can say what he's thinking, “I still want you to touch me. I just can’t stand it too. I miss it though.”

Dean’s hand tightens on his stomach. It sends a tingle through him, a ticklish little thrill. When Dean’s free hand finds one of his, dangling at his side, he doesn’t twitch. He feels lax and boneless as a cat in the sun. Dean raises his hand up over his head, presses the back of it to his mouth in a light kiss. It’s Sam’s turn to draw in a quick breath. I love you, he thinks. But he doesn’t say it because they’ve never said it. They’ve never needed to say it, never needed a trust exercise.

He throws the chain after Dean leaves, then settles down on the couch under the blanket they keep there for just this purpose. From the bedroom he might not hear Dean knocking and Dean needs him to unchain the door to get back in. Not that Dean will need it til this evening, but lying back down in the empty bed holds no appeal anyway. He falls back to sleep within minutes.

*****

Dean’s got a sack of McDonald’s swinging from one hand and his keys in the other. As he passes the downstairs neighbor's place the door opens and Sam calls out his name. There’s a smell in the hall, something warm and sugary and mouthwatering. A second ago he was enjoying it.

Sam smiles, a little nervously. Not the kind of nervous that makes Dean’s heart leap into his throat, thank Christ, but the kind of nervous that says ‘Don’t be mad, but...’ This time, the rest of the sentence probably goes something like ‘but I went into this stranger’s apartment without getting permission or thinking about the horrible things that could happen to a young boy in a strange apartment alone without his brother. Oh. And I probably also ate some of this stranger’s food, because I’ve never heard of drugs. Jesus Christ am I dumb.’

He hasn’t wanted to throttle Sam this bad since before everything went to shit. He can feel his nostrils flare and his face get red. The neighbor lady's smiling face pops into the doorway over Sam’s head, and it’s the only thing that stops Dean from opening fire right there in the hallway.

“Hello! I hope you don’t mind, I was baking today and invited your brother in to be a taste-tester.”

He smiles back, a little strangely, judging by the way she gets a nervous look that’s quite similar to Sam’s.

“Yeah, well, that’s great, really nice of you. But I’ve brought dinner home now,” he holds up the McDonald’s bag triumphantly, “So I’m afraid he’s due back upstairs. C’mon, Sam.”

“She invited us for dinner,” Sam says carefully. Testing out the waters. “She made pie for dessert, it’s still in the oven.”

Huh. Dean honestly didn’t think he was doing that well hiding his homicidal rage but Sam seems not to see it yet.

“Not tonight,” he says, using everything he’s got not to grab Sam and drag.

They’re halfway up the stairs before he realizes he just called Sam by his real name in front of the neighbor and man, that was not supposed to happen. Fuck. They’ll have to move again and it’s fucking Sam’s fault, it is all on Sam this time, seriously, this was not Dean's fault and fuck fuck fuck. It was good here. They were safe, and there were a lot of bars to hustle in a short radius, and this apartment building was mostly empty which cut down on prying eyes.

And fuck it most of all because the trip to get here was hell. Sam was nervous going into a public restaurant, forget about visiting the bathroom by himself. Dean remembers a string of motels where every bump from the room next door had Sammy’s breath catching and Dean going for his knife, and hours of driving without being able to fully relax because what if there was an APB on the car, what if they got pulled over and the cop wanted to know where their Dad was, what if that car two back was following them... and on and on.

He enters the apartment in a silent rage. He wants to scream and shake Sam and ask him what the hell he was thinking, but he doesn’t trust himself to stop once he’s started really letting it out. He’s too angry to let himself react like he wants. Instead, he waits til Sam’s locked the door behind them and says, deadly quiet, “Start packing.”

“What?” Sam asks. And Dean knows the incredulous expression he’ll be wearing, but he turns around to look Sam full in the face because he wants to see his brother get it.

“I said your real name. We’ve got to go. Start packing.”

Sam has the gall to look relieved. He shakes his head.

“She already knows it,” he says reassuringly. “She says she heard us call each other Sam and Dean, like, awhile ago. She knows we haven’t been going to school and that we lied to the landlord. She doesn’t care, Dean. She’s kinda cool. She just wanted to get to know us better cause we’re neighbors-”

“Shut up, Sam!” Dean interrupts with a violence just a notch or two below flat-out yelling. It makes Sam jump. “Don’t you see that’s even worse? She’s been spying on us? Why? We don’t frickin know! And we haven’t even noticed, and now she wants to learn more about us! Get to know us! Just how stupid are you?”

“I’m not being stupid!” Sam shoots back. His hands are fisted in the edges of his shirt and the knuckles are white. Dean can see that from halfway across the room. “She’s a nice person, Dean! She just wants to be good neighbors-”

“Oh yeah? You know that after an afternoon of drinking her Kool Aid? What the fuck ever happened to taking candy from strangers, Sam?” Dean stalks towards Sam, gets within about a foot of his clenched little face but keeps going at the exact same volume, “You don’t do that! You don’t take food from strangers! You don’t go talk to them when I’m not around! And you don’t freaking go into somebody’s apartment without me! Jesus Christ, she could've been anybody! She could've been a freaking murderer! Bitch coulda been a child molester for Christ’s sake! You don’t do that Sam! You don’t fucking-” Dean pauses to try to gain some control.

“Don’t call her that!” Sam breaks in and his voice is high but he can’t be that frightened or he wouldn’t be dragging this bullshit fight out, so Dean feels no guilt for snapping back at him.

“Are you serious? I’ll fucking call her what I want! That bitch shouldnt’ve been inviting you into her place in the first place! Where the fuck did she get the idea that that was okay? And where did you get the idea-”

“-She’s not a bitch! You’re being an asshole-”

“-that you should say yes to her!-”

“It's so stupid-”

Dean shoves his face right down into Sam’s and full-out bellows to shut him up: “IT’S NOT STUPID, YOU DICKWAD! IT’S COMMON SENSE!” He lowers the volume slightly when the idiocy finally stops tumbling out of Sammy’s gaping mouth, but all that’s controlling him is rage and he can’t stop the next words from coming, quick and fast like punches, “Common sense, Sam! After what happened to you we both know-” Dean cuts himself off.

Not that Sammy has ever gotten the memo about backing down from fights nobody can win, so when Dean stops, he can’t seem to help himself from asking.

“We both know what, Dean? We both know what?” He’s pressed back against the door. He looks so thin, so small, so trapped. His jaw is clenched like he’s gonna try to take a swing at Dean anyway, depending on the answer.

Fuck it. And fuck him. Dean didn’t mean to bring it up, but if that’s what it takes to make sure Sam doesn’t pull this again, ever, then Dean will sink as low as it fucking takes.

“We both know you can’t trust anybody, Sam,” he says, voice shaking. “We both know that now. We both know we can only trust each other. Nobody else.” He stares into Sam’s eyes, waiting for him to get it, waiting to see that Sam understands.

“But she’s not Dad, Dean,” Sam says instead. Dean whirls and heads for the bathroom, slams the door and throws the lock and slaps his hands flat onto the wall before he loses it. He was going to grab Sammy and shake him. If he stayed in the same room as him one second longer, he was going to shake him hard enough to make his nose bleed.

And Jesus, if Sam can’t even trust Dean not to hurt him, if even Dean is a danger to him, what the fuck chance does he have?

Like a zombie Dean turns the tap on full blast and leans over the sink, scrubs water across his face over and over, til it goes from icy to lukewarm to steaming.

When it gets too hot to stand he turns it off and sighs. Sinks down to the floor. He didn’t hurt Sam. He hasn’t crossed that line like Dad and he never fucking will. He just won’t do it. If he makes up his mind not to do it, he won’t. Problem solved.

As for the problem of the rest of the world, and Sam’s suicidal trust in it, once he’s calmer he’ll be ready to tackle that one too. This is a point he’s prepared to argue with Sam until he’s blue in the face. Eventually, he’ll win. He’ll win because he’s right, and Sam, this evening aside, isn’t stupid. He’ll win because he’s the big brother, and now there's no father in their little family and he's pretty much the everything else in Sam’s life too. He'll win because he has to. Failure is not an option.

All his cool determination disappears when he steps out of the bathroom. Sammy's looking at Dean over his shoulder from in front of the door. Dean watches, horror-stricken, as he turns away and undoes the locks. Was he waiting for Dean to come out so he could twist the knife a little more, make Dean watch him leave? Dean doesn’t understand. Yeah sure, that was a bad fight, but does Sam really think there's a safer place out there for him to go? How did Dean screw it up this fast? Half an hour ago he was whistling up the walk, still on a high from the morning that hadn't gone away all day.

If he has to, he’ll tie Sam to a freaking chair to keep him safely here. But there’s gotta be another way, doesn’t there? There’s gotta be something he can say.

His mind’s a blank.

Sam opens the door soundlessly and squats down, which doesn't make any kind of sense but at least gives Dean a few extra seconds to try to think of better plan before going ahead with the tie-him-to-a-chair plan. Then he picks up something off the floor, backs into the apartment and closes the door. On his left arm he’s balancing a pie wrapped in a dishtowel, and with his right hand he redoes all the locks, one by one. As the last bolt shoots home Dean finally feels his lungs start working again.

He watches Sam carry the pie into the kitchen, shooting Dean an uncertain glance as he goes, and set it down on the table. Dean waits for him to get a knife, start cutting into it, so weak with relief he doubts he could form a protest, but Sam just sits down in front of it and slumps in his chair.

The smell of it is overpowering. The pie is perfect, golden and only slightly lopsided. It’s got those little hatch-marks all around the perimeter, left behind by a fork pressed in competently. Dean wonders if Sam watched her do that, thought about eating the pie with Dean as she completed each step. Maybe he watched every ingredient that went into it like a hawk. Maybe he knows that it’s safe. Dean’s stomach rumbles.

They could eat the pie right now, dessert first like kids. Hell, Sam is still a kid.

He’s a kid, and he needs Dean to be in charge here.

“We’re not eating that,” Dean says firmly. He looks quickly at Sam, afraid of seeing an unhappy response on his face: longing, or fear, or anger. But Sam isn’t looking at Dean, or at the table in front of him. He appears to be staring into the dingy kitchen light. His eyes are open, but kind of blank. Dean looks at the light. All he sees is ordinary frosted glass turned grey with grime and the ghostly silhouettes of some dead bugs.

He walks over to stand next to Sammy and waits for acknowledgment, but Sammy doesn’t even seem to be aware of his existence. Catatonic. Great. There’s a whole new way for Dean to be terrified tonight.

Dean picks up the pie and transports it to the trash, drops it in with a rustle-thud. Looks quickly at Sammy for his reaction. Sammy doesn’t even blink.

Dean’s mouth is dry and tastes sour. He’s afraid to say Sammy’s name in case he doesn’t answer, and then what will Dean do?

He stares despairingly and the moment stretches and then finally, finally, slow as dust drifting, Sammy closes his eyes and takes a breath before breaking the silence. “I'm sorry Dean. I thought you’d be happy,” Sammy mumbles. His mouth trembles slightly. “I always mess it up. I thought... I mean, I can’t even leave the house by myself.” He opens his eyes and stares at the light again, his eyes are tight with despair, but at least this time Dean can tell he's still in there. “I thought you’d be happy I tried,” he shrugs, gives a helpless little grimace.

“Sammy,” Dean husks. He doesn’t understand why the hell Sammy thought he’d be happy about him risking his life, but his little brother’s never made perfect sense and he figures it doesn’t really matter. There's only one thing that does. “You can’t do that to me again.”

He wants to continue, really pound it into Sammy's brain, but he’ll embarrass himself if he does.

“Shit,” he mutters, and grinds the heels of his hands into his suddenly wet eyes. He doesn’t hear Sammy moving, but a minute later there’s a pair of skinny hands wrapping around his wrists, pulling until his face is exposed.

“You don’t care that I just sit in the apartment all day watching TV?” Sammy asks, studying him closely.

“I don’t care if you hang out in a bathrobe, chugging milk straight from the carton every day for the rest of your life,” Dean answers honestly. “I just- if something happened to you-” Taking a chance, Dean slips his wrists from Sam’s slackened grip and slides his hands up to gently cup Sammy’s shoulder, his head. Sam stiffens and Dean carefully eases them off again until they hover uselessly in the air. “Sammy, I just want you to be safe. That’s all I’m worried about. Everything else is just you, your head.” Sammy doesn’t say anything. He blinks up at Dean, and then he lowers his head to gaze at his shoes. Dean drops his empty hands to his sides.

“I'm sorry, okay,” Sammy says to his sneakers. “I’m sorry. I’ll never take candy from a stranger. Or pie.”

“Thank you,” Dean says hoarsely.

“I guess sometimes my ideas just suck.”

Dean wants to touch, to stroke Sammy’s bowed head, to comfort. He remembers how Sammy leaned back against him that morning, how his voice was so soft and open saying 'I still want you to touch me. I just can’t stand it too.' He sucks in a deep breath through his nostrils. He can be patient. Just this morning he had his hand on Sammy’s belly and the sweet scent of his hair tickling his nose. Things are okay, even if now the kitchen reeks of sweetened cherries and butter crust, and they’ll be eating cold Big Macs for dinner, and Sammy can't stand for Dean to touch him again.

“Welcome to the club,” Dean forces out. “You think your ideas suck? I just threw away a home baked fucking pie.”

Sam smiles a little, head still bowed so Dean can only see the corners of his mouth. And man, Dean itches to touch, to tilt Sammy’s face up and see if the smile reaches his eyes.

“Maybe I can get a book to teach us how to make one sometime. You know, together.”

“Yeah?” Sam jumps on it, looks right at him with interest and that’s a win, dammit.

“Yeah. Then you can make me some pie for when I get home from a long hard day of work.”

“A long hard day of hustling pool, you mean?”

Dean ignores him. “Piece of pie, rub my feet, we could get you a cute little apron too. Pink. That’s your favorite color, right Sammy?”

“I’m not a girl, Dean.”

“Frilly little bows, strand of pearls...”

“Men like to cook too. A lot of world-famous chefs are men...” Dean tunes Sammy out, inexplicably unable to shut off the ridiculous image of Sammy, turning away from the oven to greet him with a massive pie in his hands and a smile on his face. The pink apron’s there too, because it’s Dean’s vision and he can have what he wants in it. But it’s maybe a little disturbing how much he wants that in there.

What do you think, barks a voice in his head, he’s your wife? He’s your brother, Dean, in case you've forgotten. You think you can just settle down with him, you and he and the pie makes three? For how long, Dean? You’re brothers, not soul mates. Or are you really that sick in the head, that you think you're in love with your own little brother?

But the voice sounds an awful lot like John Winchester’s, and that's a good enough reason for Dean to ignore it. What it’s saying is ridiculous anyway. Just cause picturing Sammy in an apron entertains him... that doesn’t even really mean anything. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting your brother safe. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to protect Sam forever.

*****

Dean lays on his belly, face turned out towards the room. If he had eyes in the back of his head he knows he’d see Sam practically kissing the wall, curled in a ball with his back to Dean, because that's the way he goes to sleep every night.

When they first moved in Dean made some noises about sleeping on the couch, but Sammy quietly said they could share and Dean dropped it immediately. He wanted to be in with Sam, wanted to be right there if Sam needed him for anything or if something happened. The bed’s big enough anyway that there might as well be a canyon down the middle, separating Sam’s side from Dean’s.

They never accidentally cross the invisible center line. Even in their sleep they both seem to know better. That’s how Dean knows it’s not an accident when Sam rustles the sheets, sighs to himself, and creeps one hand through no man’s land to brush against the exposed sliver between Dean's waistband and the hem of his t-shirt. Dean almost jumps out of his skin at the unexpected touch. Instead he holds himself frozen, waiting for more. Waiting for words, or more movement, or even the slightest clue to what Sammy wants, what he’s thinking.

There’s nothing though, and after a long long time of lying there trying to be calm while his mind races, Dean finally hears Sammy's breathing even out into his familiar sleep pattern. His fingers are still on Dean's skin. So that was all he wanted, apparently, just that one point of contact with Dean, that one little touch.

Before he falls asleep he’ll have to tuck the fingers back onto Sammy’s side. He doesn’t want to hurt them rolling over in his sleep or something. For now though, he leaves them be.





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