Title: Summers Out of Reach
Author: liath
Pairing: Sam/Dean & Sam/OFC & Dean/OFC
Warnings: incest
Rating: NC-17
Note: A companion piece to Boys of Summer, not a sequel, just complementary. The OMC and OFC are the briefest of mentions.
Summary: Five summers over the boys lives, starting when Dean is eighteen (no underage). This time from Dean's POV.


The Indiana nights are cool in early summer, always ripe with the smell of distant rain. Wide, unmarked streets score hard grey lines between houses, low structures nestled close beneath shadows of knotted trees. The town is archaic, its calm rhythm almost eerie, with the feeling that even the slightest nudge could stop all its momentum, send it reeling to a halt while the rest of the world continued on all around it. Dean doesn't think anyone would even care.

The constant rustling of leaves fades to white noise, broken only by the unsatisfying whispers of insulated, suburbanite engines coasting by. Dean lies awake, closes his eyes against the pillowcase, imagines the throaty growl of the Impala creeping up his spine as he presses down the gas.

The breeze has the same blue feel as the twilight that sweeps in the windows on its coattails, settling on his goose-flesh skin. He finds the cold a comfort, a distraction that slows his thoughts, keeps him grounded in the moment when he feels as though everything is starting to drift violently away.

Dean doesn't know what the hell is going on. Sam's been avoiding him, hunching over the breakfast table, nodding silently to questions, staring at him from behind a sleepless darkness that circles even darker eyes. And whenever he looks away from Dean, it's like a light going out.

More and more the grip of insomnia tightens, sinks into Dean's muscles and forces him out of bed. He sits bare-chested by the window, watching the headlights pass, ticks off makes, models, years by the shapes of the lights and the vague reflections off shining paint. '96 BMW 325i. '94 Suburban. '97 Mustang, which he can't understand. No use for Mustangs unless it's a Shelby. '66 GTO. That one always makes him smile.

If they were going to be here longer, he'd spend days sweet-talking that neighbor just to see if he could take it for a spin.

Even the quiet seems to echo off the empty walls. The local record store is tucked away, buried on a small side street between the only salon and a family restaurant with no tables that calls itself a bar. Dean buys some posters, metal and '70s southern rock bands, picks up pushpins at the convenience store. He makes it halfway home before he returns the posters. They wouldn't be up for long, and they'll only get crushed if they go with him. He forgets to return the tacks.

Letting these things go gets easier and easier. He thinks he might finally be used to the antiseptic of these places, these holes that become camouflage for normal, but he's pretty sure he'd have to feel something about them first. Every house is the same, just with a different sentiment. It's the same sunrise and sunset, the same lunar cycles that bleach some nights bone white.

It's just that Dean doesn't remember any of his rooms ever missing a bed.

He looks up at the waning crescent moon, pale sickle hanging low behind clouds, a blemish in the sky. When he was five, Dean thought the moon followed him. By eight he realized it was just an illusion, a trick. He traded magic for fact and has always known that there are no trade-backs. Now it's just a hollow, cold shape, something to hunt werewolves under, a blind witness to the blood and death and thick-thread, rush-job stitches.

Dean stays silent, still, wonders if he'll catch Sam snoring through the paper walls. There isn't a sound. The night ages fast, and it's too quiet to sleep.

He misses it, misses the adrenaline rush, blood pumping sharp through his veins, senses primed, the kickback of the gun in his hand to stand against. Sam is fourteen, and when his father tells him to stay behind, Dean feels like he's about to walk through a doorway that's going to close right behind him.

A cool shower helps him scrub the exhaustion from his face, and the black that circles his eyes fades until it almost looks like he's slept. While they're here he eats, he runs, long back trails at the local park to avoid the morning joggers, too goddamn creepy for his taste in their matching sweats. He takes care of the house like he has the energy, as though what he wants most every day isn't to sink into the old, sun-warmed couch, close his eyes and pull Sam with him.

Dean is back from a late morning run, leaning over his third bowl of cereal when Sam stumbles into the kitchen. His brother's mop of tousled hair almost distracts him from the faded Metallica shirt Sam is still wearing. The grey, threadbare fabric has a way of knotting his stomach with its cracked and peeling silkscreened pattern. It's been a couple of years, but he feels the same every time he sees it. He'd gone to a concert, and Sam had thought the shirt he came back with was for him. Dean couldn't tell him otherwise, couldn't say that he hadn't thought of his little brother all night.

Sam swam in Dean's rare find for a year before it fit him.

Dean glances down, thinks the width of his palm would fit just there, over the stretch of skin between Sam's shirt and the top, rolled edge of his old blue jeans. He swallows and meets Sam's sleep-starved eyes, hiding behind his breakfast. Something is different today, clearer in Sam's expression, and a sharpness in Dean's chest falls away when Sam sits down across from him.

"Jesus, Sammy, you look like hell." Milk spatters wet on the table, and Dean wipes the small puddle absently with his hand, dries his palm on his pant leg. "Still not sleeping?" As if he didn't already know. He watches Sam's arms cover the swath of skin across his stomach.

His jaw clenches when Sam nods. But there's nothing to fight, nothing to destroy to fix it, and he exhales a bitter breath and glares at his cereal. Dean thinks Sam's said something, though he won't ask him to repeat it, and when he looks up his brother is leaning forward, chin on fist, closer than he's been in weeks. He can feel the rush of air over Sam's lips, and the slow smile that spreads over Sam's face is impossible not to fall into, and--God, he needed to back off.

Dean just mumbles after pushing the spoonful into his mouth. "'S'food." He thinks the colorless mess in his bowl should make him wretch, but homemade meals are something he doesn't even taste anymore.

He ignores Sam and lifts the bowl to drain it. An unexpected flood of thick, grey milk almost makes him choke, and the spoon and bowl clatter onto the table. Dean can tell Sam's grin is suppressing laughter, but somehow it's still contagious. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Fine, geek," he says as the bowl spirals to a stop. "Let's go get some real food."

They've been to the diner a few times, and Dean thinks he might like to live there. Work for food, maybe. Yeah, that sounds like a plan. All the damn pie he can eat. Maybe, maybe there will be time before their tires douse the town in a cloud of dust, leave nothing but a sepia-tone picture in the back of his mind.

The waitress this time around is enamored with Sam, a grandmotherly type that coddles him. Dean feels a flash of anger heat his chest, a spike of actual rage before he remembers that she has nothing to do with what Sam's missed out on all his life. He exhales slowly and flashes her a smile when she brings Sam an extra milkshake.

He doesn't plan it, but after he's devoured desert, he scoops a thick, cherry and cream line onto his finger, holds it in front of Sam's face.

"Best goddamn cherry pie I've ever had," he says, lips curving up, crooked smile. Dean knows Sam won't do it, knows he'll just stare with those bright green eyes of his like he wants to murder Dean. But Dean will settle for that, an excuse to stare back over fading smiles, to see who looks away first.

He waves his finger closer, barely missing the side of Sam's chin. "Wanna taste?"

When Sam's tongue flicks out, wet across his lips, Dean's eyes follow it. He's really pretty sure he's not supposed to be staring at his brother's mouth like that, so he starts to pull away.

"Hey, your loss." Dean's voice is smooth, and Sam looks like he's taking it as a one-up to the challenge.

The moment is so quick he can't avoid it, couldn't if he wanted to, and Dean's not sure just what happens before Sam's mouth is hot and wet around his finger. Sam's tongue swirls over it, the tip pressing against the whorl of his fingerprint as blunt nails dig into the soft underside of his wrist.

When Sam lets go, sits back with that smug, pretty grin, Dean thinks Sam's pushing him, pushing back against the looks he knows he's been painting his brother with for weeks now. That's what's different, the new glint in Sam's eyes, and Dean is almost afraid to play along.

One by one, Dean begins licking his fingers clean, starts with his pinky, takes his time with each. He's too busy enjoying the way Sam's face slowly goes blank to care about the napkin that's shoved at him. Dean can't help the noise he makes, feels almost dirty as he licks his spit slick index finger, grins around his thumb, and his mouth rings with the taste of Sam over sweet cream cherries.

"See?" he says, drying his hand. "You got some on your face, there."

Dean wants to smudge it off with his thumb, to feel the angle of Sam's jaw against his fingers. He snags his brother's plate of apple pie without waiting for him to say whether he's finished. A spray of warm vanilla milkshake hits him in the face, and as he signs the check 'Abram Zaslovsky', he wraps an arm around Sam's shoulders, pulls his brother's head down, close. He grinds his knuckles into Sam's hair and doesn't relent until he lets Sam wrest himself free by the car.

The soft scent of soap and adolescent sweat is clinging to him when they hit the diner again later, is still in his nose as he climbs into bed. It's all he can smell in the dark, over the cold night air he lets in to calm the heat in his skin, over the clean, crisp-washed sheets he stretches over his bed. He's lightheaded with it, and his belly flushes hot, icy all at once, his cock straining behind thin fabric. Dean palms his erection though his shorts but does nothing more, refuses with eyes squeezed shut, knees drawn to his chest.

Later, when Sam climbs quietly into bed beside him, instantly slack with sleep, Dean rolls onto his stomach and buries his face in the pillow. His hips move on their own, buck against the mattress. When Sam's arm falls against him, knuckles fire where they graze against the back of Dean's shoulder, he comes in his boxers, sharp thrust against the bed.

He pulls his arms up under the pillow, stares into the small pit of shadow in the crook of his elbow and inhales the stuffy, trapped air. His breath is shallow, fast, until the soft sound of Sam's snoring makes his eyes heavy. He drifts to distant thoughts of wrong, of brother, of don't care, and oh, God, no. No.

Shame is a word Dean's not comfortable with, but if he were ever to use it, he thinks, it would be for the comfort he felt as he fell into sleep with Sam's arm still stretched over his back.


It's always the twilight of unbroken morning when he wakes, when the air is still cool and the shifting cries of coyotes drift on the wind. This time of day is sanctuary, a halting of time just before New Mexico's brutal heat roars in through the windows and yanks the breath ragged from their bodies.

There's always just enough light to make out the features of Sam's face, and Dean watches him, every morning watches him sleep in the other bed. His eyes trail from Sam's long lashes to his mouth, the brush of light that curves against his jaw, along his neck. They fall heavy on the soft dip just above the plane of his hipbone, where it disappears into his boxers, because the brat's started sleeping without a blanket, just the sheets tangled around the bottoms of his legs.

This is when the light just begins to outweigh the shadows, this is when he feels Sam's eyes rake down his back, just like every other time he leaves the room. Dean wishes that just once, Sam would be hidden from view, blankets piled high enough that Dean would be able to take a morning piss when he gets out of bed. He knows better than to even try.

He climbs into the warm spray of the shower and slicks his cock with soap, fists it slow, runs his thumb over the slit with just a light press of nail and bites back a moan. Curses ride out on strangled breath, and Dean can't believe he's doing this, can't believe he's doing this again. It doesn't take much before he comes, thick and hard, coating the dirty grout tile without a sound, without Sam's name tumbling over his lips. It's all gone in a few seconds, the steady beat of water washing it away.

Sam is alone in the kitchen when Dean pulls on his jeans and an old white t-shirt, their father long gone to investigate Mesilla. But Dean doesn't need anything sitting heavy in his stomach. What he needs are his hands on cold oiled metal, fingers working the intricacies of the Impala's fuel system. He needs his tools, dirt against his back and the smell of grease thick in his lungs.

Cars and guns are all his hands have ever really understood. When Dean was just a baby, he'd spent countless hours in his father's garage painting with dirty hands all over the floor. Dark shapes and small, greasy hand prints over concrete, down the side of one unfortunate car. He thinks it was a Cadillac. He remembers the feel of cold metal, tools warming in his hands, the wavering odor of gasoline. It still makes him pause when he smells it.

His hands know girls, too, with the same brazen confidence as the trigger of a gun or the rods and camshafts of a classic. But it's not quite the same. Familiar, but never comfortable. Dean likes girls, flirts shamelessly and likes the chase. Especially when it isn't easy. But sometimes there are no places his hands quite fit. Sometimes it all feels just beyond his grasp.

He'd met a girl a few months ago, a hot spring day when he picked Sam up from school. She was a senior, dusty brown hair and wide green eyes under a muggy sky. It was only a week before she let Dean fuck her in the back of the Impala, his fingers leaving bruises over her collarbone. He still can't remember what she said when he left her at the end of her driveway, colder than he'd ever been to anyone. The tires had trenched crooked lines in the red ground as he sped away, taking every turn like it was his last.

Dean had parked the car along the old road leading back to their house, jerked off to the thought of someone who was very much not her, biting his lip until it bled.

He'd almost called her, even had the phone in hand once. But they'd moved on two days later.

Even now, when their father is driving down long stretches of cracked summer highway, cactus dotted and edged by power-lines, Dean catches a glimpse of Sam's face in the side mirror. His brother, in that back seat, forehead against the window as he watches them leave everything behind. The smell of the leather, the heat that permeates his shirts become suddenly too much, and he almost begs for the next rest stop. While Dad tops off the gas tank and Sam buys them sodas and water ice, Dean hides in the dingy fluorescence of the restrooms until he can breathe.

The sun shrinks Dean's pupils to pinpoints when he steps onto the porch, white fire halos crowning everything until his eyes adjust. He's already sweating, the early heat leeching his energy slowly but steadily. He's leaning against the post when Sam walks out, shirtless and barefoot, hair wild from sleep.

"Help me with the car?" Dean asks, watching Sam watch him. Everything is suddenly the idea of grease and dirt and Sam, and he barely hears his brother say yes.

"See," he says once they've dragged out the tools, spread newspaper to protect the parts. It takes him a few minutes, hands lost in gritty metal and dirt coated hoses, but he pulls out the carburetor and turns it over in his hands.

"This is a Rochester Holley two-barrel carb. 'M'pretty sure it's the problem. Just gonna clean the jets and check the float bowl level, and that should do it." The old girl would be purring again in no time.

"Rochester? What, like New York?" Sam asks, and Dean crooks an eyebrow as he looks up. He laughs, shakes his head. Sam's moments of uncertainty shine brightest when he's around cars, and Dean wishes he could just show him some things, thinks if Sam just gets his hands dirty he'll stop acting as coltish as he looks.

His hand finds his brother's back. Sam's skin is sun hot, reddening already, and Dean feels the layer of oil between them, thin and slick as he drags his fingers over the point of Sam's shoulder.

It's easy to forget when he's elbow deep under the hood, forget that Sam needs to put on a shirt, forget that Sam's standing so goddamn close. Dean aligns parts, reconnects lines, checks seals, and for a moment everything fades. He leans on the car as he checks connections and decides to wash down the engine as soon as they're somewhere with a hose that doesn't leak. One hand reaches absently for the socket wrench, and when he turns Sam is staring at him, eyes round, jaw slack, face half hidden by the Impala's shadow.

"Sam?" Dean cocks his head, squints up at his brother. "Sam. Sam? Sammy?" He smirks, then, still not thinking about how much he wants to shove Sam away. He leans, stretches, reaches for the wrench around Sam, lets his arm brush against Sam's back and feels muscles tense against his skin. His chest presses against Sam's shoulder, their hips touch, rough through their jeans, and Dean forgets the cold metal in his hand when Sam jerks forward and catches himself on the grill.

He looks down and thinks it would be so easy--so fucking easy--Sam leaning over the car, hands gripping metal, knuckles white. Dean moves close, breathes over Sam's neck and watches his brother's shoulders stiffen. The expanse of Sam's skin is unblemished, pale still beneath the blooming sunburn, and he wonders how long it will be before Sam gets his first scar.

His hands shake, but he doesn't drag his mouth over the ridge of Sam's shoulder blade, doesn't press it against the knot of backbone at the base of Sam's neck. He just leans closer, licks his lips and almost tastes the sweat that has Sam's hair curling in tendrils against the angle of his jaw.

"Careful there, Sammy," he says low, next to Sam's ear, lingers a while before pulling away with wrench still in hand. The look on Sam's face when he steps away makes Dean's eyes darken over his half-smile.

Sam disappears as soon as the hood is down, retreats into the dark of the house and leaves Dean alone with the Impala. With the door open and one foot on the ground, Dean fires up the engine and puts her in neutral, teasing the gas. She hasn't sounded this sweet in a long time, and Dean thinks she'll hit a hundred easy now. The smooth rumble peaks with a roar with each press of the pedal and goes straight to his stomach.


The moonlight makes the Nebraska wheat look like the ocean, at least on the nights it isn't raining. Those seem few and far between here, the horizon ominous with dark clouds, the kind you can't distinguish from sky when twilight comes. And always there is the sound of water, churning, rushing, draining, pooling over the ground in an intricate pattern of little lakes.

The only thing that dries in the thick breath between storms is the road, and Dean has taken to walking the white lines every day, boots eternally mud painted, the cuffs of his jeans soaked with red brown soil. He'd wash them if he planned to never leave their motel room again, but there just wasn't any point. When this place grows small and hazy out the car's back window, he wonders if he'll remember it as more than just wet.

Dean collects towns, burns each into his memory until they all fit together around his Dad and Sam, until every scrap, every torn-edged piece is what he knows, all of it home.

He knows Sam holds on to each town with everything he has, sees this look in his eyes when his brother doesn't think he's watching. Sam tries to drop anchor in every town, but it never holds, only rips through the ground as they pull away in their car.

It makes Dean want to grab his father by his shirt, shake him until he sees what they do to Sam. Sometimes he doesn't know if it's him or Sam that's standing, waiting, on the side of the highway.

The afternoon is cool and heavy when Dean steps outside, a break in the rain. Sam is sitting at the edge of the sidewalk with his feet shoved in the muck, the rain-soaked mess of the parking lot. Dean pulls a short stalk of wheat from his pocket, one of dozens he's picked from the field across the road, sticks it between his teeth and lets the head bob with each movement of his lips. He sits next to Sam, shifting over until their shoulders brush together, arms almost touch.

"I'm thinkin' dinner," he says, looking past the cars. His tongue flicks out just far enough to run over his lips, the dangling wheat stalk twisting in his mouth. The look on Sam's face makes the stale taste of the stem in his mouth, the way he keeps stabbing the inside of his cheek, worth it.

Sam makes a comment about Dean's fondness of food, because that's all it really is, and Dean punches him in the arm. That Sam doesn't even blink makes him smile.

"When's Dad getting back?" Sam asks, soft sounds coming from the mud oozing around his feet.

When Dean shrugs, Sam leans into him, just a little, a little closer as he stretches his toes. Dean pushes back like their father could pull in at any moment.

"Soon, I hope. I don't feel like walking to the nearest burger joint in this crap." The way his brother is churning his feet in the mud is kind of disgusting, but Dean has to swallow down the thought of--why can't Sam start wearing shirts again? Dean's eyebrows raise on their own. "Although I suppose I could send you, Huck."

Sam has started flaking some of the dried mud off his ankles, running his fingernails over it until it shivers off in a fine powder. His arm presses against Dean's, the hairs on end, tickling Dean's skin.

"I don't think so. Besides, you're the one with the wheat fetish."

Dean tongues the stalk in his mouth, tilts his head as he looks at Sam. It's been so long now, Dean doesn't think in terms of right or wrong, yes or no, just Sam or no Sam. There's no clear line, no mark between before and after. One day he just realized Sam was everywhere, always there, always finding him in doorways, close corners of the kitchen. He passed by Dean too close, glances of hips, unnecessary grounding touches whenever Sam bumped into him. Touch after touch and Dean couldn't go an hour without it, needed more, needed to drive Sam as crazy as Sam was driving him.

Now when they collide, Dean reaches out with steadying hands that brush Sam's waist, fingers riding up warm against skin just under his shirt. He reaches too far when Sam passes something over the table, over pressed together calves to rake his fingers over Sam's behind their father's newspaper.

Dean pulls the stalk from his mouth, tosses it into an iridescent puddle by the wheel of an old Buick.

They go out for burgers later, and when they get back Dean snatches Sam's from the bag, pulls it back every time his brother tries to grab it and holds it above his head. He feels Sam's fingers curl against his ribs, tuck into the top of his jeans, feels his palm hot against his neck as his brother tries to get ahold of his dinner. If their father wasn't watching, Dean knows the way Sam manages to rock his hip against his groin would have his cock straining against his pants.

Dean is sure its raining just because Sam wants it to. He goes out while his brother and father are sleeping, lets the fine mist slowly soak his hair, stands ankle deep in rain water. The mud creeps up and over his feet, licking higher, seeping between his toes. It dries fast as he trails thick footprints across concrete, over beaten down shag carpeting. When he falls into bed, the mud is cracking pale and dry up to his ankles.

In the morning, when the bathroom door is cracked open, Dean stands with dirty feet by the dresser, catches a glimpse of Sam through the shower glass. Sam's shoulders are hunched, one hand braced with fingers splayed against the tile wall, the other--God, let it be enough. Just enough. At least for Sam. Dean thinks then, then he could live with this.


The mornings break bright and loud, the crescendo calls of cicadas part of the days' clockwork, the lazy timing that permeates the wide fields. Storms roll in later, dousing the afternoons in quick bursts of downpour, staccato rhythms of lightning and thunder that rolls out as quickly as arrives. The rest of the world may as well have ceased to exist here. The land slopes into the sky, and the scrub brush and trees, spread low and long like scars in the landscape, can hide nothing.

Evenings are spent out on the porch steps, calves pressed together. Dean always has a beer in hand, shares a six pack with Sam when their father isn't home. They face the field, out toward the scene of sky and grazing white-tail, but all they do is watch each other.

Dean is scouring the meager kitchen offerings when their father comes in one night, tosses a small wad of cash on the table and tells him to stock up. He says he's going to be gone for two weeks, at least, hoists a full black duffel over his shoulder and tells Dean to watch out for Sammy before the screen door cracks shut behind him.

Dean leaves the clip of cash on the table and storms out onto the porch in time to see a truck pull off, someone unfamiliar behind the wheel. It splashes onto the dirt road, and Dean's stomach drops out.

The panic is long expected, but it doesn't make it any easier. Their father's presence, as inconstant as it could be, was a barrier, a reminder, and he hasn't been gone this long in years. Two weeks. Maybe more. Dean stands on the warped steps and clenches a fist to keep from breaking his hand on the porch.

He can't keep his hands still, knows Sam sees it. His brother tries to get him out of the house, as if it were just the walls Dean is climbing, says it would clear their heads. When Sam suggests walking down to the Oconee River, not even a mile northwest, Dean can only bark a laugh and fall back on his last line of defense.

"Dude, Georgia? Haven't you ever seen 'Deliverance'? I think we're near that town." He doesn't look at Sam, just concentrates on the failing light. The condensation from the beer in his hand starts to drip over his fingers, small dark stains on the water damaged wood. Dean knows it's all a work of fiction, but that's not the point. "I ain't gonna be squealing like no pig."

Sick, psychotic laughter bubbles up in his chest, and Dean bites it back, hard. He won't admit he's finally lost his mind to this.

The couch is falling apart, rough and ragged and broken in the middle in ways that can seriously hurt a person. Dean tries to sleep on it anyway, legs thrown over the side, but it's hard to breathe and he keeps losing feeling in one arm. It would be worse to sleep in Dad's bed, so Dean waits until Sam's long asleep before wandering into their bedroom, slips out again before his brother wakes. He's lucky if he sleeps more than an hour any night.

Even if he knows it's his fault, Sam's pacing still makes Dean's skin itch. He wanted to shake Sam, tell him not to worry, just let it go, but Dean can't touch him, can't look at him, because he's not sure what's about to break but it hurts like hell.

The chair digs into him, leaves him aching after too many hours of sitting. Dean doesn't want to go inside, and he doesn't trust himself to drive, and he's sure as hell not walking anywhere. He watches the crackle spark of the bug zapper, a bottle of bourbon on the floor beside him, fake wax seal still intact. He rolls the glass neck between his fingers, gets ready to twist off the top when Sam walks out.

His brother cuts the power to the zapper just as it smokes two more bugs. "The hell you do that for?" It's some kind of hillbilly entertainment but it sure as hell beats watching bad crime dramas on their out of focus black and white. It beats having to fucking deal.

Sam leans back against the nearest post, dim porch light wrapping around the side of his neck just under his jaw, and Dean's eyes are locked on the single tear of sweat there. Dean wants to squirm when Sam tilts his head, angles a glance down at him from under a shadowed brow.

"It kills the lightning bugs," Sam says, low and matter-of-fact. Dean looks out into the yard and sees the dancing yellow lights for the first time. Sam used to catch them when they were younger, collect them in jars he'd leave on their night stand until he let them all go in the morning. The kid was some kind of sentimentalist.

"What are you, five?" Dean pulls his feet closer, boots weighing him down. He waits for Sam to look away, feels the muscles in his jaw twitch, teeth catching with a sickly sound.

Sam's eyes don't waver. "You're avoiding me."

Dean lets go of the bottle, sinks down in the chair and rubs a hand over his face, eyes closed. But he wasn't invisible, not like he believed he could be when he was when he was little, thought that if he couldn't see the world, it couldn't see him.

When Sam says his name, a half whisper, impossible mixture of anger and patience, Dean cracks. It's the first time Sam's said it, actually said it, in months, and he spills over the roar in his ears, watches everything fall out stuttered and ill-formed and crash down at his feet. He knows he's fucked, eyes burning, throat raw like he's been shouting for three days straight.

He stands, Sam a wall in front of him, and all he has is, "You're my brother, Sam." And it's the sickest thing he's ever said.

Sam murmurs something, too quiet to understand, but he knows, he knows, and Sam's fingers thread into Dean's shirt, hand slips behind his head, hot against his neck. He's falling, arcing backward and stumbling over the whiskey bottle and sending it skittering down off the steps. Sam's mouth is on his, rough, hot, insistent as Dean's back slams into the wall, window frame biting into his shoulder.

Dean pulls, keeps pulling because he can't get Sam close enough. Sam's tongue sides over his lips, into his mouth and Dean moans, kisses harder, needing to feel Sam, needing to taste him, needing more. He tangles his hands in a mop of hair, bites and sucks Sam's lower lip until Sam grinds up against him, traps Dean between the house and his hips, and Dean's so hard it hurts.

Their mouths clash, teeth against teeth, awkward angles and frantic hands. Sam's fingers work Dean's belt, twisting and pulling, yanking open the top of his jeans. Dean's head hits the wall when he feels knuckles against his abdomen, drawing heat, feels Sam's fingers slip inside his boxers and wrap around him. The sound that comes from the back of his throat is filthy and Sam, that smug bastard is grinning into his mouth as he strokes Dean's cock so goddamn slow he just--

Dean plants his hands on Sam's shoulders and shoves, watches Sam stumble back and hopes he doesn't fall because Dean just can't reach out to catch him. He looks punch drunk as he breathes heavy, stares at Sam with clenched fists, shirt stretched up one side and jeans laid open.

"Don't fuck with me Sam." He stumbles over Sam's name like his legs really are going to go out from under him. "Sammy. Don't."

But Sam is shaking his head, saying no, no, he couldn't, and Dean believes him. He doesn't think, just steps, reaches, takes Sam's face in his hands and pulls him around toward the house. They crash through the porch door like a train wreck, the metal screen slicing into Dean's arm after Sam tears through it. They fall, and Dean doesn't know where they land, just that Sam is under him, against him, and he needs to make up for a week of lost touches, months of not-enough.

Somehow he gets their pants down, at last as far as their knees and there just isn't any time for more, not if he has to pull away from Sam's skin, feverish and sweat-slick. Dean slides his hands under Sam's shirt, palms his abdomen and digs his fingers against Sam's hips before he's pulled down against Sam's mouth.

The summer heat swells, making cloth cling to skin, molding his hair into tiny spikes against his head. Sam's is plastered around the edges of his face, dark with damp, curling by his jaw along his throat. Dean slides against him, chests almost touching, grips Sam's hip as he licks, drags his teeth along the place just under Sam's jaw, below his ear. His knee slides between Sam's legs, shoves them apart until their jeans constrain them. He aligns their hips and thrusts against Sam, dicks brushing, pressed between them.

He can feel Sam's cock twitch against his stomach, and Dean sinks his teeth into the soft flesh of his neck when Sam throws his head back, rakes them down toward his shoulder. He sucks the skin at the juncture there, makes it blossom purple and dark before he runs a thumbnail over it, hooks his fingers around Sam's shoulder.

Dean pushes harder, bracing the toes of his boots against he carpet so he can find some fucking friction, and if Sam makes that noise one more time he's going to--Jesus Christ, Sammy. He snakes an arm behind Sam, under his head, fingers clawing the carpet while his other hand digs hard into Sam's shoulder, and when he buries his face into his brother's neck, into his hair, he feels Sam shudder beneath him, arch up, dig nails into Dean's back that might break skin.

Eyes closed, legs tangled, Dean feels Sam's release, warm and thick, cock pulsing as he spills between them. Dean can't tell the difference between the slick of sweat and come against his skin and he's over the edge, hard. His forehead bumps Sam's chin when he comes, Sam's mouth is open, the side of it grazing his temple. He lifts his head, slow and dizzy, and when he kisses Sam he tastes blood.

Sam pins him half a dozen times in the four days before their father gets back, against the couch, the refrigerator, the door frame, pulls him into bed--never Sam's, never--a half dozen more. They leave marks, claims. One on Dean's hip that hurts like a bitch when he fastens his jeans over it, but he'll cover it possessively with his palm anyway, not wanting it to fade. There are two long bruises on his back, furniture in the way, and the rug burn makes showers borderline painful. Everything is hidden by clothes, save a hickey on Dean's neck and a few bruises. What can't be explained by sparring can be blamed on a girl.

They sleep in the same bed even after their father gets back, a tangle of limbs and spent sheets, back to light, small touches that never sate, always leave him ravenous. Sam is bolder than he is, sometimes lies behind him at night and kisses, laps at the back of his neck and curls fingers into his hip, sometimes pushes against him just enough that Dean can feel him hard in his shorts.

Dean doesn't ask to go hunting again for a long time.


It's hard to believe even for Dean. Two stories, a junk filled garage, fenced in yard. It's a little run down, a lot in need of paint, but Dean thinks maybe all they need is a dog. A month in, Sam gets a job, starts pushing the lawnmower out every weekend and washing the dishes. Dean lets him. He hasn't seen Sam's eyes this clear in a long time.

Sam doesn't slip into Dean's room every night anymore, fights with their father almost daily, and Dean can feel the gravity Sam's always brought them slowly disappearing. By the time summer starts its lazy descent into fall, Dean is the one crawling into Sam's bed at four in the morning. He dreams he sees Sam, walking away in the rearview mirror as the Impala drives off.

The crooked shade lets in a spear of light that falls against Dean's eyes. He shoves off the sheets, throws on some sweatpants and pushes Sam's door open. Sam is already out of bed, the first time Dean can remember his brother getting up before him. And damn something smells delicious. The hardwood floor is cold under his feet as he pads down the stairs.

"Aww, honey, you cooked." Dean slides into a kitchen chair, watches Sam's mouth as his brother takes a bite of pancakes dripping with syrup. It makes Sam's lips shine, and Dean's tongue flicks out as he thumbs the bruise on the inside of his wrist. It's two nights old, and Dean doesn't know why Sam likes sucking his wrists so much, but damned if he's going to complain.

Dean snags Sam's plate, cuts a wide chunk from the stack of pancakes with the fork. All he does when Sam calls him a pig is stare at his mouth and smile slow.

Dean doesn't work, not like Sam. His brother has the night shift at the local trash convenience store--well, it's the only one within walking distance, so Dean can't hold it against him--while he hustles pool, cleans up at poker. He bounces from bar to bar, stays late into the night when the easiest catches are loaded up on booze. Sam doesn't know how Dean gets up so early in the morning.

He cleans up for a run, brushes the stale maple sugar from his mouth, toothpaste slick over his teeth, vanilla mint on his tongue. He'd started using this toothpaste by accident, but Sam wouldn't stop complaining how much he hated it. Vanilla belongs in ice cream, Sam still says, that all he wants to taste is Dean. And God, hearing that makes Dean hard, but he uses it anyway, swaths his tongue deep when he kisses Sam, makes sure he tastes it.

Dean knows about the letters. They come sporadically, sometimes in small stacks, sometimes one by one. Always he tosses them carelessly on the table for Sam or Dad to sort, as if he hasn't already looked at each one. Every morning, when he leaves the house for his run, Dean sees Sam through the window. His brother looks down at the street until the last car pulls away, until the sound of diesel bus engines disappears down the block, and Dean knows Sam is counting the days until September.

The mint still sharp on his tongue makes his breath cold over his teeth as he exhales, trees flying past all around him.

Midsummer, and Dean's bringing home less and less cash. He starts every night with three shots of whisky to get him going, beer after that for the taste. His game gets sloppy, and he starts losing more than he's winning, so he stops playing altogether. Nights become hazy, warped and twisted by the alcohol as he walks home. Sometimes he has to lean against buildings, tall fences, garbage cans until his stomach settles.

He can see fall from here, and thinks it's going to feel more like winter.

Most of the time Dean doesn't even manage to get his boots off, just feels the whisky drag his head down, asleep by the time he hits something soft. The nights he can clean himself up, he goes to sleep with his mouth gritty from baking soda toothpaste.

It's sometime after the third set of letters arrives for Sam, but Dean doesn't remember how far gone he is the first time he lets someone pick him up. He's tossed the worst line he's ever heard, and then he's pushing the guy toward the back, into the restroom. He fucks him in the bathroom stall, staring at the grime covered rust stains around the plumbing, the smell of piss thick in the air.

He crawls home, half undresses on his way up the stairs and collapses into bed next to Sam, back curled against his brother's side. It doesn't happen again for a month, and Dean hates himself for it. He's just falling, losing his grip on the line that keeps Sam at the center of everything.

So much of the time, Sam is all there is. He falls into bed, hands frantic over Sam's skin, and Sam never pushes him away, kisses him back even when it's bruising. He needs Sam, all of him, needs to feel him everywhere, and those nights are never easy, never slow, because Sam knows. Sam knows what Dean needs, always lets Dean spit in his hand and slick his cock, always guides Dean onto his back and holds his shoulders as he pushes in, even if it's never fast enough. As Sam thrusts, hard and rough, and somehow, somehow gentle, Dean thinks this is his worst way of needing him.

There are nights Sam lets him do anything, when Dean fucks him until the sheets are soaked in sweat and sex, until he can hardly move and Sam's left covered in his own come. And Dean always pulls Sam to his chest, holds tight until neither of them can breathe. It's the only way he knows how to say he's sorry.

He wakes before sunrise, rolling until he's face to face with Sam. The covers have been kicked off again, something his brother does every night, but he doesn't pull them up. His knuckles run down Sam's chest, over his navel to the rough hair that runs downward. Sam's eyes flutter open halfway, weighted with sleep, and Dean wraps his hand around Sam's cock, pulls slow and feels Sam's breath hitch, rush heavy over his cheek. His hand moves, lazy strokes that let Sam stay half asleep, and brushes his lips over his brother's mouth.

Sam gives the faintest of shudders as he comes onto the sheets, eyes closed and mouth slack, the smallest of groans in the back of his throat. Dean breathes him in until he's sure Sam is asleep again, then climbs out of bed.

He pulls on his running pants, laces his sneakers and grabs a long sleeved, sweat wicking shirt. The air is far too cold this time of August, even in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, the trees seeping like a painting through fog. He can see the puff of his breath trail over him as he runs, dissipate and melt into the mist, like it was never there. He pushes himself, feet pounding until his chest burns, his legs feel weak. When he crests a hill, the day blisters red, trees like veins reaching into the sky.

He runs until everything is blue again, bright and clear, late morning sun finally burning away the fog. He's sweat soaked and breathing hard when he walks into the kitchen. Sam's there, watching the doorway with a glass in one hand, stack of papers, envelopes, in the other. Dean sets his hands palm-flat on the counter, because he knows without reading them.

"Stanford," Sam is saying, half stuttering. "Scholarship," and "full ride," Dean hears as the floor falls out from under him.

"When?" Dean can't swallow, and hopes the last breath he took will last because he can barely get the word out.


He's in front of Sam, shoes touching, and his brother closes his eyes. Dean leans in, lips so close, so close, finds his breath again. His sneakers don't make a sound as he walks away. Behind him he hears glass shatter, wonders which one of them it is.

There are two people in Dean's life that have ever stood for him. He's losing them both to abstraction, to ideas, one of blind vengeance, the other of a normality he just can't seem to provide. He does nothing when their father explodes that night, nothing but watch as Dad and Sam, Dad and Sam, almost come to blows. He lies awake that night and watches Sam pretend to sleep beside him, the keys to the Impala cutting into his hand.

Sam says nothing, sits in silence while Dean drives to the station. Silence when Sam grabs his bag out of the trunk, silence as he looks at Dean one last time before boarding the train. Dean stands, shoulder against a steel beam post, and watches the train vanish like it's falling off the earth.

It's dark when Dean leaves, his headlights a white blaze in the night. It's two days before he goes home, before he walks half a mile down to the nearby creek, unlaces his boots and wades in up to his calves. Dark silt mud slides over him, his feet sinking into it. He walks home barefoot, boots under his arm, and sleeps with dirty feet on the couch.

They leave a few days later, and Dean burns the sheets in the backyard, watches the smoke hung in the mirror as the Impala roars toward the highway.