Post-Red Meat cuddling, anyone?
Dean spends more time looking at Sam out of the corner of his eye than he spends looking at the road ever since they left the Urgent Care. Sam’s alive. He’s not dead on the floor of a cabin in the middle of the woods. He’s breathing, and whole, and finally gaining color back in his cheeks after the doctor cleaned up his bullet wound and sewed him up properly. Dean can breathe again, but he’s still shaken up. He was so scared when he came back and found Sam on the floor, no heartbeat, chest not rising and falling with every breath, lifeless.
He hated leaving Sam there, but he knew Sam wouldn’t want him to risk the lives of the people they saved just because he died. He knew Sam would never forgive him. But, god, if Sam had given him an ounce of proof that he was alive, a single breath, his pinky twitching, Dean would have stayed. Dean would have carried Sam on his back if he had to. He would have done anything to get Sam to safety. He hates admitting it, even to himself, but he would have left Michelle and Corbin on their own if Sam had given him one single gasp and they said it wouldn’t be worth it to take Sam.
His hands clench on the steering wheel, the leather squeaking in protest. There’s so much he wants to say, he just doesn’t have the words. They’re swimming around in his head and he has no net to catch them, no way to stop their flow so he could pull them out and let them leave his mouth. He wants to say he’s sorry, he wants to beg for forgiveness, but Sam isn’t blaming him and Dean hates that. Sam’s not mad that Dean left him in that cabin and Dean wants him to be.
Dean glances at Sam when he catches him moving out of the corner of his eye. He pulls a watermarked slip of paper out of his pocket and Dean doesn’t have to ask to know it’s a prescription. “Need meds?” he asks, going for nonchalant.
“Yeah, they prescribed me antibiotics to clear any possible infections, and meds for the pain.”
“Just, uh, Tylenol with codeine.”
“Man, that’s boring.” He’s trying for lighthearted while he waits for the pain to fade. His heart feels like it’s clenched in someone’s fist, keeping him on a leash with that pain, the feeling of loss cutting so deep he feels like he’s dying. “I’ll stop at the next pharmacy, we’ll get your meds, pick up some greasy diner food, and then kick back at the bunker, huh?”
He almost lost Sam today; he thought he did lose Sam today. And then Sam shows up, worse for wear, but alive, and saves Dean. The kid took down two werewolves after all that blood loss, drove himself to the Urgent Care with blurred vision and extreme pain, and saved Dean’s bacon from a newly turned werewolf. He can’t take much more action after that, not for awhile anyway. He just wants to sit with Sam and make sure the kid stays breathing.
“Sounds good,” Sam says, tucking the prescription paper back into his pocket. The rest of the ride is spent in silence. While Sam’s in the pharmacy dropping off his prescription, Dean’s picking up snacks and beer and whatever he loves that Sam doesn’t so he doesn’t have to share, but he does sneak in the healthy snacks Sam loves. He’ll deny later that he grabbed them on purpose.
They don’t speak when Dean runs into the diner to order their food -- a greasy two patty burger with extra onions and French fries for himself, and the biggest garden salad they’ve got for Sam -- and comes back out to Sam asleep in the passenger seat, slumped down, head resting on the back of the bench seat, tilted toward the driver’s side, where Dean would be. He opens the back door, puts the bag of food on the seat, and then shuts the door as quietly as he can in a car that’s not made with silence in mind.
When he slides back into the driver’s seat, he’s slow and careful not to shake the car too much. He’s caught off guard when he comes face to face with his little brother’s sleeping face. His little brother who he’d thought was dead not twelve hours ago. He closes his eyes to calm his breathing, to keep himself from touching Sam, from brushing the hair back from his face, then lets out a slow breath and settles in the seat and starts the car. He lets Sam sleep the rest of the way back to the bunker. He’d considered getting a hotel room and letting Sam rest there, but he thought Sam would feel safer in the comfort of the bunker. They both would.
Back at the bunker, he gently shakes Sam’s shoulder to wake him. Sam’s groggy, eyes foggy as they open and finally focus on Dean. “Hey, Sleeping Beauty,” Dean jokes. “C’mon, time to get you out of the tower.”
Tired, but still sassy as ever, Sam mumbles, “That’s Rapunzel,” but climbs out of the Impala on Dean’s side instead of his own. Dean helps him out, a hand on Sam’s forearm to keep him steady. Sam’s like a newborn fawn on his big, skinny legs, shaky like he’s never walked before. “I’m okay,” Sam says, but lets Dean help him anyway. Dean grabs the food from the back and they go inside.
Sam’s still exhausted by the time they finish eating so Dean helps him to his room. “Thanks,” Sam rasps. Dean opens his mouth again to say he’s sorry, to ask for forgiveness, to beg for Sam not to hate him for leaving him. He knows Sam doesn’t, and he knows Sam would never accept an apology, so he keeps his mouth shut. Sam’s big, warm hand lands on Dean’s shoulder, a comfort he doesn’t deserve. “Goodnight, Dean.”
Sam drops his hand and shuts his door. Dean misses the warmth.
It isn’t until Dean’s lying in the darkness of his room staring at the ceiling that he makes his decision. He gets up and makes his way back to Sam’s room. He knows Sam’s asleep so he doesn’t bother knocking, just opens the door and shuts it quietly after he slips inside. It’s dark in Sam’s room but he knows his way around, and he knows what side Sam’s asleep on, so he climbs in the opposite side, carefully. Sam doesn’t have memory foam like Dean does -- he settled for a regular mattress -- so Dean has to be as gentle and slow as possible. Sam stirs, but doesn’t otherwise react. Once under the covers, Dean scoots closer and closer until he can feel Sam’s warmth under the sheets, and wraps an arm over Sam’s thin waist.
That’s when Sam startles.
“Shh, Sammy,” Dean shushes him, gently running his palm over Sam’s tense side before squeezing his hip to still him. “I just needed to be close to you.”
“Thought you were gonna put a jacuzzi in here,” Sam mumbles, groggy, and it takes Dean a moment to get it, remembers saying he was going to throw Sam’s stuff away and put in a jacuzzi had Sam been dead.
Ever cool, calm, and collected in front of Sam, he replies, “Yeah, well, you ain’t dead yet so I can’t.”
They both go quiet in the stillness of the night, Dean’s arm snaking forward, palm spread wide as he coasts it over Sam’s trembling abdomen, up his chest, and back down again. Sam shivers but doesn’t complain. “How you feelin’, kiddo?” he whispers into Sam’s hair, nosing at the back of Sam’s neck. A tiny whimper falls from Sammy’s lips and Dean smiles against his hair.
“Tired, De,” Sam whispers, but his body wiggles back just slightly, until his back is just a hair’s breadth away from Dean’s chest. One breath from Dean and they’d touch. He closes his eyes, takes that leap, and breathes. His chest touches Sam’s back and he feels like he’s home. His arm tightens carefully around Sam’s waist and he pulls Sam flush against him, holding him tight but mindful of his stitches. They fall asleep like that, Sam in Dean’s arms, warm and safe, Dean content because his whole world is okay.
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