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Redefinition by whereupon Supernatural: Sam/Dean, PG-13, first… - all the poetry, and the trunk you kept your life in

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October 18th, 2010


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11:35 pm
Redefinition
by whereupon
Supernatural: Sam/Dean, PG-13, first season, 7,900 words.
It's a good thing Sam's the only one he ever does this for.


It's a hell of a town, Las Vegas, all flash and glitz, blacklight oasis in the middle of the goddamn desert. At least, that's the way it's meant to be, and any other day, maybe it'd even be true. Today, though, it mostly just seems like hell, miles and miles of sunblasted spiderwebbed bullet-blasted nothing, just like the backstreets of any other major American city. It's not like he expects a freaking snowstorm, he knows what the fuck a desert is, but he also knows what the fuck winter is, and they're in the middle of that, too, so it would be nice to at least feel less like he's stuck in a goddamn oven. His head's pounding with it, this sick heat, this hangover ache except for how he doesn't have a hangover because Sam, who still doesn't get the concept of a well-deserved post-job victory celebration, claims that casinos are places where dreams go to get taken out back by statistics, and moreover, that he's allergic to bad décor, which, considering the places they usually stay, is the most obvious lie he's told all week, right up there with I'm fine and no, that wasn't a nightmare and dude, it wasn't a sex dream either and I hate you. If Sam were allergic to bad décor, he'd have asphyxiated some twenty years ago, but his forehead had been pinched and his eyes shadowed with colors like bruises or sunset, and Dean really is a good brother. Because of that, instead of doing anything remotely resembling fun, he'd spent the rest of the night eating bad Chinese takeout and watching worse television and then listening to Sam pretend to sleep, only to be jarred awake scant hours later after Sam actually fell asleep and woke shouting, as is becoming tradition.

Not being a heartless bastard really sucks sometimes. It's a good thing Sam's the only one he ever does this for.

He takes a sip of coffee bitter as ashes, cold wind and a fuel gauge running towards empty. Old things stalk the streets of Vegas, just like they do every city, in the alleyways and the glittering tourist facades alike. Las Vegas is a theogony of gangster-gods and coins that clink and rattle like shotgun shells or bullet casings, and the blood of the skeletal thing he and Sam killed last night is still dark beneath his fingernails. Its hands had locked around his throat, bruising deep, his reward for shoving Sammy out of its reach, and when Sam had slid the knife into its neck, ichor had spattered hot and crimson across Dean's skin and shirtfront as the thing slumped like a great bony insect against him. Still, he would have been fine after a shower and a couple of drinks, and he would have proved as much if he hadn't been worried about what Sam would do if left on his own for a few hours, if no one were there to tell him that it was only a dream, to wait until his breathing evened out, to pretend to believe him when he said he didn't want to go back to sleep because he wasn't tired, not because he was afraid of what he would see if he did, and to be awake with him through what should have been the chill hours of dawn but were instead already tinged with the coming day's heat. The lights of the Strip, candy-pink, electric orange, green as absinthe, had been visible through the thin curtains like a premonition or a threat until Dean gave up and got out of bed, took a shower that did nothing to ease the press of gravity bearing hard upon his bones, and came back out to find all of the lights on and Sam watching the news red-eyed and wan.

This diner is the closest one to their motel, and that's all it has going for it; its walls are sun-scalded and grimy with years of cigarette smoke the color of misery and desperation, of waiting for something that never comes in time, or maybe never comes at all. There's a couple of chicks he thinks might be strippers or casino waitresses hunched over cups of coffee at the counter, but even they look tired, all smudged makeup and jackets shrugged over the spangle of their costumes. If he went over to them now, they'd give him maybe thirty seconds before shutting him down, and maybe only out of pity; he knows exactly how bad he looks, because he sees it whenever he looks at Sam, sees it mirrored beneath Sam's own skin.

Of course, this being Vegas and all, the chicks probably see worse every day, and if they took pity on everybody who looked like they needed it, they probably wouldn't have made it this far. Pity's a bitch, leaves you running on empty or less, and kindness will bleed you dry. Ten seconds, he amends, they'd give him ten seconds, and that's not worth the effort, even if he had energy to spare.

New York, he remembers, an epiphany sudden and obvious in hindsight, lyric bright as admonishment in the back of his mind. It's New York that's a hell of a town. What the fuck ever, you've seen one big city, you've seen them all; this one just happens to have more giant-scale models of monuments than most. There's even a New York one, which means at least that part of Vegas is technically a hell of a town, and if one part qualifies, so do the rest. He's pretty sure that's a rule, like all Cretans being liars, except that's not so much a rule as a paradox, and fuck, his head hurts. He wonders if Sam would bring him his sunglasses, if he asked nicely, and he glares across the table at his brother, both waiting for Sam to get the hint and because Sam has the audacity to be wearing at least three layers despite the heat, like a taunt or a dare or hubris, an invitation for the sun to burn just a little bit hotter to teach him a lesson. Which would be fine, or at least justifiable, if Dean wouldn't have to suffer right along with him.

It takes a little while, but eventually Sam looks up from the breakfast he's not eating but appears to find fascinating all the same. "Why're you staring at me?"

"I'm not," Dean says. "I'm glaring. There's a difference."

"You're squinting," Sam says. "Not exactly menacing, man. It just makes you look like you need glasses." Which isn't exactly what Dean was going for, but he can work with it.

"You wanna get my shades, be my guest."

"If you want 'em, get off your ass and get them yourself," Sam says. "And you know that's not the kind of glasses I meant, Grandpa."

"So be more specific next time," Dean says. "Didn't you just spend like four years learning how to do that? I mean, what the hell else do they teach you at lawyer college?"

Sam blinks. "Lawyer college?"

"College. Where you were learning how to be a lawyer. Dude, not a tough concept."

Sam raises his eyebrows. "Uh, yeah, I know what you meant, I've just never heard an Ivy League university referred to as 'lawyer college' before.'"

"And that's your problem," Dean says. "Well, one of 'em. You want the whole list or the just the top ten?"

"You know, I'm good, actually," Sam says.

Dean shrugs. "Your loss."

"Yeah, I'll be sure to regret it on my deathbed," Sam says. "Except you're not gonna to listen to me and you're gonna tell me anyway, aren't you?"

"Hey, I listen to you," Dean says. "I just know better than you do most of the time. Or, wait, all of the time. It's called being the oldest."

"And that would be why you dropped out of high school and I went off to lawyer college," Sam says. "Which I did not just say."

"Told you it sounds better than Ivy League university whatever," Dean says, because that's safer than telling Sam to fuck off. He doesn't think he'd have the energy to track Sam down if Sam stormed off, and he thinks his head might actually crack open, heat wearing his skull thin as eggshells, if Sam started shouting, which is so not how he plans on going out. And Sam would only end up apologizing for being a selfish bastard with fucked-up priorities, anyway, though he wouldn't use those exact words, and then he'd demand that they, like, fucking hug or something, which there's no way in hell Dean would agree to, and that would start the whole thing all over again. "What the hell's Ivy League, anyway? It sounds like a botanist bowling team."

"I'm not going to laugh at that," Sam says, like he thinks Dean might actually think he grew a sense of humor sometime in the last thirty seconds and he's seriously concerned about the effect that might have on his reputation.

"Yeah, 'cause you might dislodge the stick up your ass if you did."

"No, because I'm not going to encourage you," Sam says. "Besides, it wasn't funny. If you had a day job, I'd tell you not to quit it."

"I do have a day job," Dean says. "It just don't pay cash, that's all, and a guy can't survive on badass points alone. That's where the second job comes in."

"Badass points aren't a real thing, Dean, kind of like how credit card fraud isn't a real job, okay? It's a crime." Sam's voice goes up on the last word, like he's so incredulously patronizing that it can't be expressed by mere eyebrow-raising-forehead-flinch alone. It's nothing new, and it would be kind of funny, if he weren't insulting Dean's, and Dad's, and, really, his own entire way of life. Dean's half-tempted to tell him he can use his stupid moral high ground to pay for his breakfast, if that's what he wants, but the day's going to be miserable enough already without Sam sulking self-righteously in the passenger seat for the next six hours.

"Are you done pushing your pancakes around your plate already? And what is that, anyway, like, an anorexic cry for help? Filling in another square on your I'm-a-Teenage-Girl bingo card?"

"I think you won at that a long time ago, actually," Sam says.

Dean narrows his eyes. "Tell that to all the boy band CDs you got shoved in your duffel, Tiger Beat."

"Dude, coming from somebody who only listens to music by a bunch of old guys in leather pants, that doesn't exactly sting. I mean, Metallica's, what, a really pissed off version of Duran Duran?"

"That's it, you're dead to me," Dean says. He leans forward, slumping onto his elbows, and thinks he manages to make it look like a gesture of exasperation. Mostly. "Catch your own ride, I'm leaving you here. Maybe you can ride with one a' those truckers if you hitch up your skirt and flutter your eyelashes."

"Real mature, Dean," Sam says. "Look, I'm sorry I called Metallica a boy band. They're clearly a man band, full of manly long-haired men who wear lots of jewelry, just like everybody else you listen to."

"If you want me to punch you in the face, Sam, you could just ask. You don't gotta try so hard, you're gonna embarrass yourself."

"Thanks, I'll keep that in mind," Sam says.

"Good," Dean says.

"Great," Sam says.

"Awesome," Dean counters.

Sam rolls his eyes. "Jesus Christ," he says, his chair scraping across the linoleum as he stands. He reaches into his pocket for his wallet; he tosses a battered twenty, shiny with tape, down onto the table and heads for the door without checking to see if Dean's following him. He takes a lot on faith, that kid, like he believes Dean's always going to take his shit, always going to follow him and have his back and let him ride in the Impala no matter what he does or how much his taste in music means that if this were any kind of a just universe, he would be riding in the freaking trunk.

Which is just as Dean wants it to be, and needs it to be, so he gets up from the table, too, and he grits his teeth at the way the new angle of sunlight slices into his eyes, and he hurries to catch up with Sam. Sam won't look back, because he never does, but there's always the chance, and Dean's always going to be there.

Sam might be a whiny little bitch sometimes, but this is a role Dean's been playing his whole life, the only one he's ever known, and it's been truth for as long as he can remember. He'll be damned if he'll falter now just because it's fucking hot out. Sam gave in first and had to pay for breakfast, which means Dean won, but if Sam has to come back inside to check on him, that victory's not going to count for anything. It'll be even worse if Sam then apologizes for leaving Dean behind or for bitching at him when he's already got this thundering traincrossing noise in his head, at once dizzying late nights and railroad-car rumble and the way he's seeing spots like those damned flashing signal lights that strobe against the vast black spaces between midwestern towns, echoing in the corners of his eyes like the birth of stars, long after the lights themselves have faded from his vision.

Sam's leaning against the glossy black of the car by the time Dean gets outside. He's slumped against the shotgun-side door as though heedless of the temperature, of how the metal must scorch. Dean kicks his ankle halfheartedly in passing and unlocks the doors. The steering wheel's sticky-hot against his palms and he unrolls his window. He's halfway across the seat, reaching to unroll the one on Sam's side, when Sam gets this weirdly pissy expression on his face and presses himself back against the seat like he thinks Dean's contagious, though with what, Dean's not sure. Maybe Sam's afraid of turning cool.

"Dude, what the hell," he says, because if that's what Sam's worried about, the thing about fucked-up priorities? Even more true than he'd originally thought.

"Uh, you're the one who's in my lap," Sam says. "Personal space much?"

"Yeah, well, your lap's taking up half the goddamn front seat of my car," Dean says. "I'm guessing maybe you haven't noticed, since you're wearing a freaking parka, but it's like a thousand degrees."

"Which explains why you're clinging to me for body heat," Sam says, and Dean instantly regrets ever having taught him sarcasm. He probably would have learned it somewhere else, but he wouldn't be nearly this good at it.

"I'm trying to unroll the damn window," Dean says, giving up and retreating to the safety of the driver's side, which, despite the window being open, isn't any colder than anywhere else. If Sam would stop complaining, he could start driving and get a good breeze going, not to mention get the hell out of the city and find some nice empty stretches of highway to let his girl make up for the past three days of stoplights and gridlock traffic. "Fine, you wanna bitch, do it yourself."

Sam shrugs. "I'm cold," he says.

"You're kidding."

"Do I look like I'm kidding?" Sam asks, which Dean assumes is rhetorical, since Sam never, ever looks like he's kidding. It's a good thing Dean's the one who taught him how to play poker, or else he'd kick Dean's ass every damn time.

"You look like you're--" And Dean pauses, because Sam looks even less like he's kidding than usual, and he should know better than to give Dean an opening like that. He does know better, most of the time. "What are you, sick?"

"No," Sam says, crossing his arms like the question offends him. "Why, are you?"

" No," Dean says, possibly more disgustedly than is strictly necessary, but it turns out that it actually is kind of an offensive question, at least when Sam's asking it of him. He doesn't get sick. It's part of the whole being Dean Winchester thing, like driving an awesome car and being too rock and roll for words.

"You shouldn't drive if you're sick," Sam says, like he thinks Dean doesn't know better just because Dean chose to, like, save people's lives instead of going to some stupid college, like he thinks maybe Dean's got a secret desire to wreck his car on the side of the road, gasoline flames licking across scarred and shredded metal. Not that she doesn't deserve one hell of an exit, but not yet. Not yet.

Besides, he's more for dramatic last stands and heroically suicidal gestures than carelessness and stupid accidents. Despite what Sam says, there's totally a difference between the two.

"Like I said, I'm not," Dean says. "Now who's the one who's not listening?"

"Whatever," Sam says, which is a lame retort even considering that it's coming from the guy who thinks that giving somebody the silent treatment is a good way to win an argument, and slumps back against the seat, his face turned towards the sunlight spilling through the window like he's a damn plant instead of just the only person Dean knows who could possibly be cold at a time like this. Dean considers elbowing him or slapping the back of his head, because the kid knows better than to turn his back on a threat, the ultimate definition of which might be "Dean motherfucking Winchester", but he looks kind of miserable, so Dean settles for flipping him off, and doesn't even turn on the music.

Sam passes out before they even get out of town; one minute Dean's concentrating on not rear-ending the car in front of him, whose driver appears to have interpreted the whole thing about having the right to life and liberty as meaning having the right to do twenty in a fifty-mile-per-hour zone and is somehow failing to notice the big, intimidatingly-badass, black-as-hell car edging dangerously close to their bumper, and the next he hears this noise like a fucking black dog's materialized in the backseat, and maybe he jumps a little at that, but who the fuck wouldn't, really? And then he looks over and realizes that it's goddamn Sam, snoring even though his mouth's a little open and he could get perfectly good oxygen that way. So when Dean notices his own hand shaking a minute later when he reaches to knuckle sweat from his upper lip, he's fairly confident that it can be explained away as adrenaline. Who wouldn't be a little on edge if they'd just thought they were about to get their jugular ripped out?

After all, he's fine. He's not like Sam, who apparently gets bizarre mutant colds that turn him into some freakish were-Doberman thing intent on giving people heart attacks and causing them to crash their cars, which might be the lamest curse ever.

Actually, he's pretty sure Sam's the only person in the whole world who does that. He's special, Dean's brother is. And the noise of his snoring fills the car all the way across the state line, until the sky begins to darken mercifully and the road is obscured by a scrim of rain. By then, it's past lunchtime anyway, so Dean pulls into the parking lot of the next truckstop he sees, which is already half-full of crooked semis, and reaches across the seat to shake Sam awake. He's not particularly hungry, but the rain's making it hard to see, and Sam's snoring is making it hard to concentrate on the road.

Plus, his back kind of hurts from this many hours spent in the car, but that's Sam's fault, since he let Sam drive yesterday and Sam fucked with the seat, and all of the mirrors, too.

Sam knocks his hand away and blinks blearily at him. "You look like crap," he says flatly, and Dean has to give him points for irony.

"You should look in the damn mirror," he says. "Do you want lunch or what?"

"Not really," Sam says, wrinkling his nose, but he gets out of the car anyway. The rain's fucking colder than it has any right to be, even for somewhere that's not a desert, and Dean flips up his collar. All the same, he's shivering by the time they cross the sharp, shifting gravel of the unpaved parking lot to the truckstop itself, where the scent of grease and mustard and coffee should be enticing but instead nearly turns his stomach.

He fucking hates the desert. He fucking hates this state. He fucking hates this entire multi-state region. And he especially hates the way Sam's looking at him, because Dean's pretty sure that's his concerned expression, the same one he uses on people they've just saved from being eviscerated by giant demonic scarecrows or set on fire by freaking flame monsters that even Sam couldn't find a name for. "Stop looking at me like that," he says.

"Like what?" Sam says, as though he doesn't know.

"Like you think I'm," but there's really no way to finish that that won't immediately have Sam saying things like I wasn't and you're imagining things, maybe you're running a fever, here, let me feel your forehead or some other pussy thing, so he concludes with, "never mind. Nothing." Which at least gets Sam to stop giving him that concerned look and give him the one Dean thinks mean's something like "you're the weirdest person I know," but that's progress. Even if it isn't true. After all, Sam went to a freaking hippie university; compared to a bunch of long-haired, moccasin-wearing, patchouli-scented Grateful Dead fans, Dean's normal.

Or at least weird in a cool way. Whatever. Normal's boring, anyway.

He settles into the booth across from Sam, forgoing his usual habit of kicking Sam a couple of times underneath the table as is necessary to make the points that a, Sam's legs are freakishly long, and b, just because Sam's legs are freakishly long doesn't mean he can start shoving them under Dean's side of the table, especially when doing so means that he's kicking Dean in an attempt to showcase his superior grasp of not knowing when to stop growing. Sam, however, doesn't appear to be grateful for the temporary lack of steel-toed-boot imprints on his shins; he mostly just looks like he wishes he were somewhere else. Dean can empathize.

"So, I was thinking," Dean says, at the same time Sam says, "Do you think--"

"You go first," Dean says.

"No, it's fine," Sam says.

"Sam," Dean says, and either he's really menacing or Sam just feels bad for him, because Sam rolls his eyes and sighs and shrugs, which means he's going to give in but wants to make Dean think it's painful.

"We don't have to be anywhere right away, right? We don't have a hunt?"

"Are you asking me 'cause you forgot or are you just telling me shit I already know?" It might have come out bitchier than he'd intended, because Sam stops talking and raises an eyebrow. Dean sighs. "Sorry, fine, you were saying?"

"Maybe we could take today off, you know, find a motel, hole up there for tonight, at least wait out the storm."

"And you couldn't'a had this plan when we were still in Vegas?"

"You didn't look like you were going to pass out when we were still in Vegas," Sam says. "I mean, you did, a little, but not like you do right now."

"I will kick your ass," Dean says warningly, and then, "You're the one who freaking snored the whole way here. If I look like I'm gonna pass out, it's 'cause you infected me with your weirdo mutant germs."

"Is that a yes?" Sam asks.

"Whatever," Dean says. He avoids the urge to put his head down on the table, mostly because he's not sure he'd be able to get back up. "You see a motel, you let me know. Until then, keep your bitching to yourself." He gets up, and Sam does the same, except for how he's so busy glaring at Dean that he nearly trips over the waitress who's finally come to take their orders. That's kind of funny, at least, and when Sam's done apologizing for nearly trampling her, he gets her to give him directions to the nearest motel, which she writes on one of the pages of her order pad. Dean's pretty sure she adds her phone number at the bottom, but he can't be certain because Sam refuses to show him the page. Which, actually, makes him even more sure. If Sam doesn't want him to see it, it has to be good.

"You gonna call her?" Dean asks when they get back out to the car.

"No," Sam says, and then scrunches up his face, which Deans assumes means he hadn't meant to confirm the phone number theory.

"Why not? She was hot. And clearly she's got good taste in movies, since she liked your Godzilla routine."

"Turn left," Sam says, which counts as ignoring him. Dean shrugs.

As far as motels go, they've stayed in worse. Dean manages to step in like every single one of the puddles in the parking lot, so that by the time they get to their room, his jeans are soaked and icy, which wouldn't have happened if Sam had stayed the fuck out of his way, but the motel is fine. It's just that the company sucks, and it's raining like misery personified, and he didn't see one fucking bar on the whole drive from the diner, which means that he's going to spend what's meant to be an awesome day off listening to the rain, and more immediately, to Sam choking and wheezing and dying, because there's absolutely nothing fucking else to do.

"Great," Dean says, tossing his duffel onto what he's just decided is going to be his bed and surveying the small television on the dresser. "We can spend the day watching freaking I Love Lucy. That's gonna be awesome, Sam. Great plan."

"Hey, we coulda kept going," Sam says. He's already got his laptop and shit spread out across the room's single table. He used to do that when he was a kid, too: he'd be the first one to unpack anything, like every time, every motel, he believed they were really going to stay. By the time he was fourteen, he didn't bother anymore, and Dean's not sure what it means that he's doing it again. Probably nothing. "I only suggested we stop 'cause I didn't want you to crash us on the side of the road. I coulda driven, if you wanted."

"Like hell," Dean says. He holds out his hand. "Dude, gimme the waitress's number."

Sam stares at him over the screen of his laptop. "You're serious."

"Uh, yeah," Dean says. "'Cause, no offense, but she's a hell of a lot hotter than you are, and if this is my day off, I'm gonna spend it doing something fun."

"So you remember how we were both there when she gave it to me?" Sam says. "Sure you do, because you were laughing your ass off at the time. Yeah. Well. She gave it to me, Dean, not to you. I think maybe that's a hint."

"But you're not gonna call her," Dean says.

"So?"

"So . . . what's your problem?"

"Uh, I don't think it's my problem so much as it is the fact that if she'd been interested in you, she probably would have given her number to you. Not to me." Sam purses his lips. "Can't you go hit on the motel manager or something?"

"The motel manager's like ninety, Sam. Also, a dude."

"So just keep it in your pants for a day," Sam says. "It's not gonna kill you. Maybe you could, you know, take a nap."

"A nap?"

"Yeah, Dean, the reason we're here? Because you're sick?"

"I am not," Dean says. " You are."

"Right," Sam says. "Okay, yeah, that's why I'm the one doing something functional like finding us a hunt and you're the one shivering over there on the bed."

"If I'm shivering, it's because you shoved me into every fucking puddle between here and the car," Dean says. "Not to mention not all of us dress like we're going fucking . . . spelunking, okay? Some of us have actual pride."

"Spelunking?" Sam says. "Do you even know what that means?"

"Yes," Dean says. "That's generally why people say things, Sam, because they know what they mean and they're trying to fucking say that."

"Uh, right, Chomsky," Sam says. "Are you seriously blaming me because you didn't bother to wear a jacket even though it's raining? Seriously? Because if that's all you got, I think I might have to give you this one out of pity."

"Oh, you take that pity and shove it right up your ass," Dean says. "This is what I get for giving into your little 'let's stop for the day' routine? I feel bad for you and you give me this crap? Pack your shit, we're hitting the road."

Sam stares at him. "You realize that it's almost literally raining buckets out there."

"And this is me calling your bluff." Dean shoulders his duffel. "You wanna get going, c'mon, we'll get going."

Sam holds up his hands in what's probably meant to be a placating gesture. "Look," he says, and would it kill him to sound just a little less patronizing? "We paid for the room, okay? I don't think the guy's gonna give us our money back, even if you do hit on him, so we might as well stay here, right? I mean, unless you can think of somewhere better?"

"Vegas was better," Dean says, but he lets his bag fall back onto the bed. "Buttfuck, Ohio is better. Iceland would be better. Probably there're fucking Amish villages that're better."

"Dean, you got a mouthful of," Sam pauses, his gesture shifting from placating to a sort of windmilling thing that Dean thinks might indicate a loss of words, though could just as easily be an attempt at flight, "whatever the hell it was we killed's blood in Vegas. Which is probably why . . . someone in your situation could be feeling less than one hundred percent. Not to mention you bit-- commented on the heat almost the entire time. How is that better?"

Dean stares at him. "Three words, Sam. Strippers. Liquor. Gambling."

"You gamble all the time."

"That's different."

Sam raises his eyebrows. "Yeah, it requires skill."

Dean tilts his head. "Was that a compliment?"

Sam pauses again, this time with his mouth open, and then narrows his eyes. "It was an observation."

He's going to have to think about that one. "Huh."

Sam shakes his head. "So we're staying here, right?"

"Yeah," Dean says. "Sure. Why not." He settles back onto his bed and after a minute of pretending not to watch Dean while actually really obviously watching him like he thinks Dean might make a break for the parking lot, Sam hunches down behind his computer. After an hour of shitty black and white reruns -- comedy in the fifties was fucking weird, though that might be true of all comedy ever -- Dean gives up and digs the bottle of whiskey out of his duffel. "It's medicinal," he says when Sam raises an eyebrow.

"Told you you were sick," Sam mutters like he thinks maybe Dean's gone deaf, too, and the only reason Dean doesn't throw anything at him is that there actually isn't anything to throw, short of a pillow, which is out since this isn't the beginning of some lesbian sorority porn flick, and a lamp, which would kind of be overkill. Possibly funny, but overkill, and he'd feel bad if Sam didn't duck in time.

It turns out that fifties comedy isn't any less weird when accompanied by alcohol, but it is more entertaining. Sam even gives up on his computer after awhile and comes to sit beside him on the bed, and eventually he even takes the bottle when Dean offers it to him, though at first he makes a big show out of wiping off the mouth with his shirt, like there's actually a chance that he hasn't already caught anything Dean might have. Dean realizes then that he can't hear the rain anymore, and in fact he's not actually sure that it's still raining, since at some point Sam got up to draw the curtains like he's worried that somebody's going to come stare in their window or something. Maybe he was onto something about the motel manager.

"I fucking hate the desert," Dean says sometime later, when there's a lull in the televised laugh track, because his jeans are still soggy and his head still hurts, though not as badly as it did before, and now that he thinks about it, this kind of thing only ever happens in the desert. In Maine or Iowa or Tennessee, he might get shot or stabbed or thrown into a fucking wall, sure, but he sure as hell doesn't get sick.

"Yeah," Sam says from somewhere very close by, pitch of his voice like his mouth is right next to Dean's ear, and Dean sits up a little, because "fall asleep leaning against his brother's shoulder" would quite possibly be the first entry on a theoretical list of things Dean Winchester would never do. "Me, too."

"So why the fuck did you go live in one?" Dean says, because it seems like that's a really fucking huge flaw in Sam's logic, though Sam does have a history of doing things that make him unhappy, like he thinks the world might come to an end if he ever does something to make himself smile.

Sam blinks down at him. He's slightly blurrier than Dean remembered, which could either be a result of a fever or of the whiskey. Dean hopes it's the latter. "Stanford -- that part of California's not the desert, Dean."

"I fucking knew that," Dean says.

"Right," Sam says. "Hey, gimme the bottle, okay?"

"It's empty," Dean says. "You finished it."

"Yeah, I know," Sam says. "I just don't want you to fall asleep on it, because you'll wake up with a backache and spend tomorrow blaming me."

"Whatever," Dean says. He closes his eyes against the flickering black and white images and feels Sam's hand press against his side, his knuckles against Dean's hip where Dean's t-shirt has ridden up. It's a solid, grounding feeling and Dean almost misses it when Sam finishes whatever he's doing and moves his hand. Dean opens his eyes. "Hey, Sam."

"Yeah?" Sam sounds like he's half-asleep himself and Dean wonders suddenly what time it is. He can't remember how long he's been here, how long they've been here, how long they've been fitting together on the bed like this.

"I'm glad you came back."

Sam's blurry, but he's definitely smiling, Dean can tell that much. "Go to sleep, man," he says, which is fucking beyond words, really. Dean forces himself to open his eyes further, grits his teeth and pushes himself upright.

"I told you I don't fuckin' nap," he says, as much menace as he can manage in those words, but he doesn't think it's near enough. Still, Sam pulls back a little, his smile fading, and Dean immediately feels like the biggest asshole on the planet. What the fuck, he was just telling himself that Sam doesn't smile enough and then he goes and wipes the smile right off his brother's face. Yeah, Sam was smiling because he was kind of laughing at Dean, Dean's pretty sure, but that wasn't so bad, because usually Sam doesn't even give him that much. "Sorry," he adds lamely, mumbled and under his breath and he doesn't think Sam even hears him, because Sam's busy reaching for the remote and turning off the television and standing up. The room is suddenly very dark and very quiet; all Dean can hear is his own breath, and his own ragged heartbeat, and he can't for the life of him make out Sam's face, or even his silhouette. "Sam?"

"Yeah, right here," Sam says, switching on the lamp between the beds, and Dean throws a hand up to cover his face.

"Jesus, warn a guy next time."

"Sorry," Sam says, but he doesn't sound very apologetic. "How you feeling?"

"Like a million bucks," Dean says. "You?"

"Great," Sam says. Dean keeps his hand over his face, but he can hear Sam moving around, running water in the bathroom, and then he's back, shoving something at Dean so that Dean has to move his hand and sit up and take the glass before Sam spills it all over him. "You should drink some water."

"You should mind your own damn business," Dean says, but he drinks the water anyway, because his mouth is kind of dry and Sam's a real bitch when things don't go his way. Sam takes the glass away, his hand brushing briefly against Dean's own, and sets it on the nightstand, but he's still there, up in Dean's space, sitting on the edge of the bed so that the mattress dips and Dean has to make a conscious effort not to be drawn in, to be dragged down by his gravity. And this is pretty close to being the very definition of a chick flick moment, because he thinks Sam might be about to move his hand and if he does, it's going to end up on Dean's shoulder, and Dean's trying to think of a good way to make things happen in a way that he can actually live with when Sam, as he's done only a few times in his life and always the consequences have left Dean ash-cold, uses his initiative and does something that Dean doesn't expect in the least.

The thing about being kissed by your brother, a part of Dean reflects distantly, is that it neatly saves any situation from being even remotely chick-flick in nature, as it instead becomes something that he's fairly certain is illegal in every single fucking state. He might congratulate Sam for that maneuver, which at least gets points for originality, if he were insane and also if he could fucking breathe, which he's currently having trouble with due to the fact that he is being kissed by his fucking brother, what the hell.

"Oh god," Sam says, drawing back, and in the paltry light spilling from the bathroom, his face has taken on a fever sheen. "Oh god, I didn't."

"Didn't what?" Dean says, because sometimes his mouth has a habit of moving before he can actually think about what he's saying. It's called living dangerously, he figures, which is funny considering how much danger his actual life contains. "Kiss me? 'Cause I was there for that part, and yeah, I'm pretty sure you did."

Sam narrows his eyes. "No, I didn't. You have a fever. And you're drunk." Stating the obvious is one of his skills and also his passions, along with telling Dean things that Dean already knows and telling Dean things that nobody other than Sam would ever think were interesting or relevant to, like, anything ever.

"Uh, no, I don't, and you killed the bottle, man. I'm not the only one." He pauses, because he thinks he might have just had the best idea ever, though he thinks he might easily live to regret it, if it doesn't kill him outright. "C'mere."

"What?"

"What are you, deaf all of a sudden?" Dean says, reaching for Sam, and apparently Sam wasn't expecting that, because he gives in more easily than Dean had anticipated, sprawl of sharp angles and elbows against Dean's chest. "Remember, you started this."

"Started what," Sam says, and then he doesn't say anything much at all. For somebody who gets his kicks going around surprise-kissing people, Dean thinks, he should be better at being on the receiving end, because as it is, he's kind of flailing, which is ridiculous. Not that the whole situation isn't ridiculous, but Jesus, that's not generally the kind of reaction Dean hopes to get.

"What the fuck," Sam says when he finally gets his hands on either side of Dean's neck and pushes back. "What the fuck?"

"Dude, that's what I was thinking."

Sam's eyes get huge and wide and indignant, like Dean's just insulted his stupid haircut again, or one of the those stupid whiny singers he loves so much who happen to have the same stupid haircut as he does, which Dean thinks has to be more than just coincidence. If it were 1964, Sam would so have a Beatles haircut. "So why the hell'd you do it?"

"Like I said, you started it."

"You're an asshole," Sam says flatly, like it's a fact as opposed to his own misinformed opinion.

"Finish it," Dean says, shifting his weight a little and cracking his neck, and hoping he sounds like he actually knows what he's doing. Which he does, mostly, but his hands are starting to shake in a way that he hopes is only obvious to him, and it might be fear, crackling live-wire electric in the pit of his stomach, because if he's wrong about this, he's just made the biggest fucking mistake in the history of, like, ever. And there's absolutely no way to undo it.

"What?"

"You started it," Dean says. "Finish it. You can't leave a guy hanging like that."

"You're not." Sam stares at him. "You're serious."

"Uh, yeah," Dean says. "Why the hell not?"

"Because we're," and Sam does that flailing thing again. "Us. Related. It's not normal."

"Uh, what about our lives is?" Dean says. "I mean, you don't want to, fine, but--"

"You're insane," Sam says.

"Right back at you," Dean says, and maybe Sam takes that as a dare, or maybe he just decides to do something that will make him happy for once, but neither of them notice when the glass on the nightstand is knocked to the floor, and if at some point, in the middle of the night, if Sam wakes shouting and Dean happens to be right there to tell him that it was only a dream, and if maybe he then kisses Sam a little and some other, non-traditionally-brotherly things happen before they both go back to sleep, it's not like anybody else is going to find out, right? And like he said, normal's boring, anyway. Normal's for people who don't kill demons every day, people who don't spend every day basically being an outlaw and a hero at the same time, who were raised to believe that like the absolute point of life is a corner office and two point five children, and sure, some parts of that suck, like being wanted in -- he's actually lost count of how many states it is these days, but other parts?

Other parts are pretty damn cool. And he can live like this, with this, because the thing is, he's always loved Sam. That's never been a question. And sure, maybe this isn't exactly what he meant, but he's also always been willing to do anything for Sam. And if this is what Sam wants, if this is what will make Sam happy?

Love, as far as he's concerned, has nothing to do with marriages and mortgages and those stupid songs about growing old together. He gets the songs about hanging out with some girl, about thinking she's hot and wanting to sleep with her and then sleeping with her and wishing that could last forever, he really does, but that isn't love, not the way he understands it. Love is staying up all night and pretending not to look at the clock the whole time, waiting for somebody to get home, like keeping vigil ever made a damn bit of difference; love is pulling the trigger again and again until it feels like your arm is going to break, so that when it isn't practice, when it's real, you won't miss. Love is going hungry so that somebody else can eat, and love is telling lies so that somebody else can sleep, and love is wanting a better life for somebody else. Love is the ashes-and-whiskey, gut-punched feeling when they finally get it, and love is not asking them to turn it down, and love is feeling like a fucking asshole for being even just a little happy when they come back.

Love is being willing to die for somebody, and while he's liked the girls he's slept with, at least while he was sleeping with them, there's not a damn one of them he'd die for, the way he would for Sammy, or for Dad. Get killed trying to save, yeah, but not kill himself for, not bleed out the way he would if it would save Sam's life, or if it would save Dad, if Dad needed him to, wherever Dad is these days.

So, yeah. He'd sell his soul for Sam, if it came to that, and compared to that, this is nothing, and in a weird, immensely fucked up kind of way, it's also pretty awesome. Sex is awesome, and Sam is awesome, though Dean would never tell him that to his face, or maybe even say it aloud, and combining the two is weird, admittedly, but not un-awesome. Sure, he's probably going to hell for it, but that's always been pretty much a given. There's no way his story ends happily, but it's not like there's ever been anybody for him other than Sam, so this?

This might be one of the first things that has ever made sense to him, in its own twisted, Sam-based-logic kind of way. And he's actually kind of okay with that.

It won't last forever, he knows, because Sam's more than he deserves and this way of living ends in tragedy more often than anything else, but he's always planned on dying before he gets old anyway, and if, in the meantime, he gets to wake up to Sam grinning at him bright as April, and if sometimes now they stop along the side of the road not just to take a leak but because Sam wants to fuck around, his neck already bruised by the slick heat of Dean's own mouth, and if sometimes when they stop for breakfast or lunch or dinner or coffee, Dean flirts with the waitress even though he knows it won't go anywhere, just because it'll make it that much sharper, that much better when he and Sam finally get outside?

That might actually be the definition of everything he's ever wanted. He's just not going to tell Sam that. And if sometimes he gets the feeling that Sam already knows, that's okay, because it doesn't count as long as he doesn't say it out loud.

--

end

Current Music: the runaways, 'thunder'

(43 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 26th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
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Oh. I still love them.

I am perhaps weirdly relieved to know that I am not alone in this. ♥

(And thank you! :D)
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From:mdlaw
Date:October 20th, 2010 12:04 am (UTC)
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That so in denial Dean. m :)
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 27th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC)
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Hee, thank you! :D
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From:ash_carpenter
Date:October 20th, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
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This was extremely entertaining. Funny and angsty and fairly ridiculous (I mean, in terms of Dean's general thoughts about certain things) and just an excellent character study.

And the ending was perfect. The paragraph about what love is to Dean was so poignant, giving what we know now of his story. Just beautiful. ♥
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 27th, 2010 11:02 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much! I'm delighted that you enjoyed this one, and I very much appreciate your note. ♥
[User Picture]
From:meesasometimes
Date:October 20th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC)
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A-Mazing. Perfect banter between them. Loved this!
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 28th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
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Thank you so much! :D
From:ursalita
Date:October 20th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
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I really loved Dean's POV in this story - I wanted to slap him a couple times and he made me laugh. Sam and Dean's bantering was so well written. The ending (especially the last paragraph) was really sweet. :)
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 28th, 2010 04:19 am (UTC)
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You always leave such lovely notes! Thank you, very much. :D
[User Picture]
From:lavinialavender
Date:October 20th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC)
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Love. Love love love love.

As usual, there's the just perfect IC bickering, everything so natural I wondered if this would be a gen piece (which I often think in your fic, and just goes to show how well you integrate canon) - I love Dean even pissily worrying about Sam being sick and not registering he's the one who's ill - and then the kisses, so out of nowhere but what they've both been unconsciously building towards.

All of that I expect, but what blew me away were the paragraphs defining Dean's view of love. All spot on, so true, and wonderful because they show how deep his understanding of love is. And it's sad but realistic he won't let himself believe it will be forever, but he's still so happy for now.

I do have favorite quotes, but I'm on my phone now, so I'll come back tonight to include them.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 28th, 2010 05:41 am (UTC)
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Thank you so much! As always, your note is awesome and very much appreciated. ♥
[User Picture]
From:lavinialavender
Date:October 28th, 2010 07:11 am (UTC)
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Ha, totally forgot about coming back to give quotes. This:

like he thinks maybe Dean's got a secret desire to wreck his car on the side of the road, gasoline flames licking across scarred and shredded metal. Not that she doesn't deserve one hell of an exit, but not yet. Not yet.

and of course the last several paragraphs. Have already been sharing with friends. :)
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 29th, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
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"Thank you so much" is incredibly repetitive, but it is no less relevant or true for that, so -- thank you! :)
[User Picture]
From:runedgirl
Date:October 21st, 2010 01:05 am (UTC)
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Oh, Dean - all of him so wound up in Sam. I adore him fumbling his way to happiness, clueless but earnest - and your definition of love? So much yes. This was gorgeous, thank you :)
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 29th, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I'm so happy that this worked for you, and I really appreciate your note. :D
[User Picture]
From:eschatologies
Date:October 21st, 2010 05:30 am (UTC)
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Oh, jeez. Those last seven or so paragraphs knocked the wind out of me.

LOVE
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 29th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, very much! <3
[User Picture]
From:superwicked
Date:October 21st, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
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I already read this twice yesterday, couldn't find the words to tell you how amazing this is. And I still can't!

Love is staying up all night and pretending not to look at the clock the whole time, waiting for somebody to get home, like keeping vigil ever made a damn bit of difference; love is pulling the trigger again and again until it feels like your arm is going to break, so that when it isn't practice, when it's real, you won't miss. Love is going hungry so that somebody else can eat, and love is telling lies so that somebody else can sleep, and love is wanting a better life for somebody else. Love is the ashes-and-whiskey, gut-punched feeling when they finally get it, and love is not asking them to turn it down, and love is feeling like a fucking asshole for being even just a little happy when they come back. The truest meaning of love if I ever read it!

I love this as much as Dean loves Sam and vice versa! ♥
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 29th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC)
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That's awesome of you to say -- I'm so glad that you enjoyed this! Thank you so much for the note. :D
[User Picture]
From:fayedoll
Date:October 21st, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
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The almost scary thing about your writing is that it never loses touch with the characters and I still have to come across a story of yours that is anything less than spectacular ♥
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 29th, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC)
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Oh, man, that's fantastic of you to say! Thank you so much. ♥
[User Picture]
From:persnickett
Date:October 21st, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC)
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How I miss the boys like this! Sam smart and lawyery, all nightmares, lies and statistics (I lol'd btw). So glad somebody still writes the early seasons, and that that somebody is you. Dean's voice (well both of them really, like everybody keeps saying) is like a little slice of canon (when canon WAS canon). 

I don't normally do the wincest thing, but I do it with you...and next time I have to explain to someone why, I'm showing them THIS. You have a way of making it 'just make sense' and Dean's reflections here are no exception.  

I still haven't been able to write spn but again, you inspire. Thanks.  :)
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 30th, 2010 12:36 am (UTC)
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They're so much more fun to write like this, I find, and I'm delighted that you enjoyed this (and that the Sam/Dean worked for you)! Thank you so much, as always, for saying such brilliant things. :D

(And I hope that you're able to write SPN again soon!)
[User Picture]
From:desertport
Date:October 23rd, 2010 01:23 am (UTC)
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This was beautiful. I love how they bicker their way into sex without missing a beat from their earlier bickering, and then how it fades into the future and Dean is so happy. Mmm. Thanks for sharing.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 31st, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)
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Thank you, very much! I'm delighted that you enjoyed this. :D
[User Picture]
From:aubade_saudade
Date:October 23rd, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
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oh, so wonderful!


That might actually be the definition of everything he's ever wanted. He's just not going to tell Sam that. And if sometimes he gets the feeling that Sam already knows, that's okay, because it doesn't count as long as he doesn't say it out loud.


♥_♥
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 31st, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
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Thank you so much! ♥
[User Picture]
From:yourlibrarian
Date:October 24th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC)
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"Real mature, Dean," Sam says. "Look, I'm sorry I called Metallica a boy band. They're clearly a man band, full of manly long-haired men who wear lots of jewelry, just like everybody else you listen to."

"If you want me to punch you in the face, Sam, you could just ask. You don't gotta try so hard, you're gonna embarrass yourself."

"Thanks, I'll keep that in mind," Sam says.

"Good," Dean says.

"Great," Sam says.

"Awesome," Dean counters.


I never get tired of reading stuff like this :)
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 31st, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
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I'm so happy that you enjoyed it! Thank you very much for the note. :D
[User Picture]
From:musesfool
Date:October 26th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
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I enjoyed this a lot.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:October 31st, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)
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I'm delighted to read that! Thank you very much for letting me know. :D
[User Picture]
From:alwaysenduphere
Date:November 10th, 2010 08:50 am (UTC)
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Completely inappropriate but WHAT IS LOVE, BABY DON'T HURT ME, DON'T HURT ME, NO MORE. *head bob* was totally me when I got down to the end. Those paragraphs about their love, oh man, my heart. Especially He'd sell his soul for Sam, if it came to that, and compared to that, this is nothing ;___; EPIC LOVE STORY IS EPIC.

I need these boys back, oh man.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:November 16th, 2010 02:50 am (UTC)
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Thank you so much for the awesome note! I'm so happy this worked for you -- those paragraphs especially. :D
[User Picture]
From:electricalgwen
Date:November 13th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
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The thing about being kissed by your brother, a part of Dean reflects distantly, is that it neatly saves any situation from being even remotely chick-flick in nature, as it instead becomes something that he's fairly certain is illegal in every single fucking state. He might congratulate Sam for that maneuver, which at least gets points for originality, if he were insane and also if he could fucking breathe, which he's currently having trouble with due to the fact that he is being kissed by his fucking brother, what the hell.

Oh my god, this STORY. I love them!! I love the bickering, and the love that shines through, and Dean's acceptance and definitions of love. Sam calling Dean 'Chomsky.' The little details of their life on the road. There are times I really miss early season boys and this hit the spot. :)

"Real mature, Dean," Sam says. "Look, I'm sorry I called Metallica a boy band. They're clearly a man band, full of manly long-haired men who wear lots of jewelry, just like everybody else you listen to." Heeee! I actually laughed out loud at that, and I really don't do that very often. *g*

Beautiful story, thank you!
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:November 16th, 2010 05:13 am (UTC)
(Link)
Thank you, very much! I'm delighted that you enjoyed this -- your note made me ridiculously happy. Writing this one was so much fun, and I'm really glad that it was enjoyable to read, too. :D
[User Picture]
From:inizitu
Date:April 4th, 2011 05:08 am (UTC)
(Link)
This was hilarious and perfect and this:


Love, as far as he's concerned, has nothing to do with marriages and mortgages and those stupid songs about growing old together. He gets the songs about hanging out with some girl, about thinking she's hot and wanting to sleep with her and then sleeping with her and wishing that could last forever, he really does, but that isn't love, not the way he understands it. Love is staying up all night and pretending not to look at the clock the whole time, waiting for somebody to get home, like keeping vigil ever made a damn bit of difference; love is pulling the trigger again and again until it feels like your arm is going to break, so that when it isn't practice, when it's real, you won't miss. Love is going hungry so that somebody else can eat, and love is telling lies so that somebody else can sleep, and love is wanting a better life for somebody else. Love is the ashes-and-whiskey, gut-punched feeling when they finally get it, and love is not asking them to turn it down


is completely beautiful. Thank you.
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:April 11th, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)
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I'm so happy that you enjoyed this, especially that paragraph. Thank you very much! :D
[User Picture]
From:bleedforme17
Date:December 6th, 2011 06:39 am (UTC)
(Link)
Your fic has been recced here
at Salt and Burn Recs. Please contact us if you would like the post removed.
[User Picture]
From:amberdreams
Date:June 5th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
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That is so perfectly fucked up and so Dean. Wonderful!
[User Picture]
From:whereupon
Date:September 17th, 2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
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I'm so sorry for the lateness of this reply; I've been away from livejournal (and the rest of the internet) for months. But I wanted very much to say thank you for this awesome note -- it means a lot, and I'm so glad this one worked for you! <3
[User Picture]
From:amberdreams
Date:September 17th, 2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You aren't that late, and besides, it means I have to read your lovely fic again to remember which one it was and why I liked it so....
[User Picture]
From:frozen_delight
Date:February 7th, 2015 08:03 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Wow, this was so awesome! You've captured both boys incredibly well and the banter between them was absolutely hilarious.

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