baby i'll stay (heaven can wait) - Sam Winchester/Reader
read it on ao3.
Pairing: Sam Winchester/Reader (vaguely s8).
Tags/Warnings: not-too-graphic smut, hunting-typical violence, witches using glamors, soft, loving, childhood friends-to-lovers, glass injuries.
Word Count: 14,729 (hence why it took so damn long lol)
Notes: howdyyyy. sorry for the brief absence, i was packing up some end-of-the-year things at home, finals, etc. this is for my dear friend and ultimate supporter @lacilou, who requested something that was so up my alley that i just HAD to write it. here ya goooo!
Ask to be added to my taglists for future posts!
You had never seen Dean grovel before.
It started with some gentle offers, and then his pride caved, and he really started to dig in. If you played bait for the witch the three of you were currently hunting, Dean would, (in order), clean your weapons himself for a month, buy you dinner from your favorite place, and let you do at least one donut with Baby in the nearest empty lot. You planned to say yes either way, seeing as people were dying here—and it’s not like the three of you had any other options. But the longer you held out the more Dean added. You stewed on it, until even Sam offered up the passenger’s seat for two weeks. Once you’d amassed a good collection of favors the night before your hunt—
“Fine. I’ll do it,” you crossed your arms.
“God,” Dean cursed, and slumped forward against the table of your motel room in mock-exhaustion. “Only took you two fuckin’ days.”
Sam, who was leaning against the counter of your kitchenette, cooly twisted off the cap of his bottle and smirked around it. “You’re just mad cause’ she played you. Donuts in the Impala? Really?”
“I think that’s fair,” you spoke up, “What’s our witch’s name again?”
“Hermes,” Sam and Dean said, rolling their eyes in unison.
“Well—I’m the one who’s gonna have to be touched by this creep. That’s worth wheelies in the Impala, if you ask me,” you argued. On the motel bed in front of you, you were sorting through the suitcase that carried your entire life in it. There was supposed to be a nice night-out dress in here somewhere, but it’d probably been ruined by monster blood a millennia ago.
“Don’t even joke,” Dean warned, but he hesitated, like he’d been considering the Impala doing wheelies and mentally measuring how cool it’d be.
“You know…” Sam trailed off, and in the corner of your eye you watched him straighten up. “If this really bothers you, you don’t have to do it. We’ve found other outlets before—this one just so happens to be the easiest one. A harder solution never scared us off before.”
“Exactly,” you snapped the lid of your suitcase shut. “So I can handle an easy one, like you said. I’m complaining for the fun of it, I promise. A witch killing and robbing people is nothing new, and neither are creeps—so I’m not exactly intimidated.”
Stepping away from the bed, you presented your dress to the two. It was almost a little too plain, but you got out so little lately that anything, even willfully being seduced by a witch in a sleazy bar, sounded fun. Little things like that reminded you that the hunt was an adventure as much as it was a job. A pretty shitty adventure, maybe, but after the apocalypse optimism had become a need as much as it was a balm. You were stuck in another lousy motel room in another city you’d never seen. Yet, sometime in the next week you’d be terrifying Dean out of his skin doing donuts in his car, and Sam had been happy lately. You hoped it was your influence.
His concern for you, as usual, boosted your optimism well into next week. You were more of a realist by nature. But if your positive outlook was waking him up and following him to bed every night, yet again, you and Sam Winchester had established another unspoken cycle. You watched his back and he watched yours. Sam talked to you about how he felt and you talked to him, both out of fear of burdening Dean. He gushed about the books he liked and the science articles he read, you fell in love with him every time, and together you relied so heavily on the other that you doubted Sam could breathe if your lungs weren’t working. You saved him and he saved you until you owed each other eternally. It’d been that way since the first time your parents had dropped you off at Bobby Singer’s, when you’d befriended the only other hunter-kids you’d ever met.
A few years back, the horseman Death had called your relationship uniquely symbiotic. To this day, you still wondered what he’d really meant. Feeling Sam’s warm eyes catch yours over his drink almost gave you your answer. But like always, your train of thought chased the soft line of his bicep against his shirt sleeve or the dimple of his cheek instead. This time, Sam was comparing the neckline of the dress to your shirt, imagining you in it. Flushed, you folded it against your stomach and set it on top of your suitcase. You played with a hair tie on your wrist and reminded yourself that Sam wasn’t looking at you that way.
Dean whistled at the dress. “Man. Maybe we don’t even need the witch-killing spell,” he gave you an appreciative smile, “this guy’ll explode the minute he sees you.”
“That better be a compliment,” you glared at him, and for good measure, Sam swatted him on the back of the head.
“You’ll look just fine,” Sam assured, sounding unenthused.
It was your God-given job to keep him on his toes, so you flicked the bottom of his beer as you passed him and warned with a smile, “That better be a compliment too, Winchester, or you’re both in trouble.”
“Mom, Dad,” Dean whined, “please don’t flirt in front of me.”
In an instant, Sam slipped his bottlecap off the counter and you rolled your hairtie off your wrist. Dean had just collapsed face-first into his bed when both projectiles whizzed off him, ricocheting onto the carpet. You hadn’t realized Sam had moved at the same time until his bottlecap had popped off Dean’s head, startling you into bubbly, shoulder-shaking laughter. Sam didn’t laugh—he rarely did, not since he was a kid—but he smiled, and for now that worked for you.
“Tomorrow, you’ll get some kind of DNA off of our witch at the bar, we’ll do our spell, and we’ll follow you in the car to make sure you’re safe,” Sam decided, softening his voice. He said this mostly to himself, and you indulged him even if you knew your game plan, just because you knew it was a comfort to him to list it out for himself. Years of staying home while Dean and John were off hunting had narrowed his life into lists—of school assignments, of tasks to handle while they were gone—and he’d never grown out of it. You imagined it was why he was so meticulous. “Then, we’re clear.”
“People saved, things hunted,” you drawled, listing each on one hand, “family business—”
“—done,” Dean finished, giving a thumbs up where he was faceplanted in his bed. With that, he rolled over, turned off the bedside lamp, and flushed your room into cool darkness. “Night’.”
You and Sam chorused your goodnights to him. Then, Sam turned toward the window over the kitchenette, adjusted the salt there with the back of his hand, and closed the curtains to cut off the last slivers of moonlight.
As a hunter, it was in the job description that you had some precautions about the dark. With Sam there, across from you, you forgot all notions about being afraid. You enjoyed looking at him even more than the next girl did, but with darkness came a new depth of intimacy. Without sight, you could only collect context from the low timbre of his voice or his presence next to you. It was about feeling instead of seeing. And Sam, with the sweet way he said things and the gentle way he navigated the dark, was nothing but feeling.
The moment was brief, but Sam found your shoulder and followed it up to your temple, which he kissed. Like the lists, it was a ritual he’d never grown out of. And you never wanted him to. You could feel the warmth of his breath, of his hand, flushing through your whole body like the sweet-tasting humidity before a healthy storm.
“Goodnight, ____,” Sam murmured near your face. He was like you, so if the dark made you more honest then it made him more honest; Sam sounded like he loved you.
You leaned into the brief contact, squeezed his wrist, and resisted the surge of hope pressing up your throat. “Goodnight, Sam.”
It should’ve been sad, how happy you were to be out despite the circumstances, but you knew even the best covers had a sliver of truth to them—and tonight, you wanted to flirt, to feel pretty flirting, and to kill some damn witches. Being covered in monster grime didn’t make anybody feel beautiful, and suiting up in a skirt and wedges to masquerade as a fed didn’t count. The hunt rarely gave you an excuse for self-confidence. If this was one of those times, you weren’t about to let it pass by.
And truth be told, you’d been under fire for so long that one witch didn’t feel like much of a threat. You weren’t so stupid that you neglected to realize what Hermes was capable of. But after your five-hundredth witch in over fifteen years of hunting, the fear of danger was nothing more than a wisp of tension floating at your shoulder. If it bleeds, you can kill it, Dean always said. And witches definitely bled.
Knowing that Sam and Dean were watching your six, that wisp of anxiety disintegrated entirely. It was so natural to have them there, Sam on your right and Dean on your left, that you usually dreamt with each brother somewhere in your peripherals. Hazy flying dreams and late-to-school nightmares included. Well, the school nightmares were less strange—once upon a time, you’d really gone to school with Sam and Dean.
Your parents were hunters. That made you like any other sullen, directionless hunter kid in the business, desperate to follow in their parent’s footsteps but terrified of becoming anything like them. Most pure-bred hunters like you didn’t have the fortune of an Uncle Bobby, though. Looking back, you wished you’d had more time with your parents—but you were grateful for the days they dumped you on him. Around when you’d entered middle school, Bobby’s house had become something of a hunter daycare. He wasn’t big on the idea. Obviously. But Bobby melted like all grouchy old men inevitably did, and soon your days spent racing to get him books and spell ingredients overlapped with his days babysitting Sam and Dean.
Dean was two years your senior, and had usually been the bane of your existence. But you’d both existed in the strange place between a hunter and a liability for your parents, so together, you were eager to please, learn, and emulate. Dean had done this because he’d wanted to graduate to a full-on hunter, but you were content with bringing phones to Bobby and helping without being in the way. Sam was much of the same. He was… He was quiet and sweet and he’d cut out the gum Dean had put in your hair without wrecking it. He wrote school essays that were cool instead of boring, and made everything seem interesting and beautiful. Dean had embodied hunting to you, then, and Sam was the breathable living space between.
You loved Dean, and you’d learned a lot from him. But you lived and breathed Sam—and the new, exciting proposition of a home somewhere else—because of the ideas he represented. Being a hunter so young had gutted your faith, and Sam, somehow, had rerouted it all. He’d shown you that there were seams between hunts that you could use to find your footing. Bobby had taught you how to be smart, Dean had taught you how to be practical, and Sam had promised you that all of this wasn’t for nothing. You figured that was why all of the hunters you met were weapons more than people; Sam Winchester hadn’t cupped their face on Bobby Singer’s porch and kissed them like they were still human.
That’d been more than a decade ago, and you could still feel how the rain had made your hair cling to your face, how the shoulders of Sam’s sweater were damp from the weather. The kiss had been brief and childish and a little unmoored. And yet it’d carried you through everything, even the literal end of the world, Sam going in the cage… all of it. He’d been your living space.
That had been built on the rare weekends you happened to be at Bobby’s at the same time, so having a few months of school together bonded you for life. They purposefully forgot to mention that John was settling them in your town and your school, hoping to surprise you. In hindsight, it was a sweet gesture, but there was a bold line between your hunting life and your school life for a reason. High school was awful for you. Your parents’ deaths had left you as exposed as a bloody nerve. With no one else around, your foster family unaware of… the real world, and a valley between you and the life you used to know, hunting was all you’d had. You’d spiraled into it deeper than you ever had before. One misstep in the hallway had spilled all of your research books and spell ingredients out of your backpack, immediately casting you as your school’s new resident freak.
Neither of the boys knew about… the bullying. It was such a pathetic word. You never told them, probably because school was as much of a sore a subject for them as it was for you. So they’d turned up, gleaming with excitement, only for whatever image they had of you as some tough, unflinchable hunter to shatter.
You’d been eating lunch comfortably alone, fork in one hand and research book under the other. All at once your table was crowded with your grade’s most self-absorbed clique, all of them probing you, asking you questions, and giggling amongst each other even at your innocent answers. They stole your book and read it out loud to each other. They prodded at your backpack, searching for more joke material. It happened so often that you knew better than to lash out, as you’d done before—or react at all, as you’d done before—and resigned yourself to another ruined day.
Then, Dean’s hands had cooly landed on your shoulders. Hey, ____, Sam had greeted warmly from your right, and you remembered how he hadn’t bothered to hide his scowl. Are these jokers bothering you?
It was such a movie moment, a book moment, that the only thing you could call it was wish fulfillment. There’d been plenty of times when you’d wished they’d been there, or wished you could tell them about something that’d happened to you. But actually having it happen—Dean swooping in with that suave grin, Sam refusing to let you carry your own backpack…
You felt like you owed them. It was a small, easy kindness for them to pay, but after months of loneliness and alienation and absolute, incomprehensible loss, it’d been a surge of heat in an ocean of ice. Sudden and unexpected and life-giving.
Since then, you couldn’t remember a single time you hadn’t been in that same position. Standing there, with Sam and Dean on either side of you. As the Impala pulled up to the bar your witch often skulked, you looked reflexively to your left, and there was Dean in the driver’s seat. For once, you were upfront with him—Sam needed room in the back to perform the witch-killing spell.
“And you’re sure you can… hook him in?” Dean asked, gesturing blandly with one hand.
You bolstered yourself, so the smile you gave Dean was a bit more confident than you felt. “Well, his past victims have all looked like me. And, no offense, but I’ve been swindling guys like this since I was sixteen. I’m not too worried about that part.”
Sam sighed so deeply that you and Dean twisted to look at him. Realizing he’d done that out loud, he bumbled awkwardly over his own reaction and coughed. “Uh, yeah. But, uh, I’ll have to do the ingredients in order, so it might take a second after we get his DNA for the spell to go through. You’ll have to… to distract him, until then.” Sam flashed you a tight smile. “I’ll be fast, I promise. You won’t be stuck with that guy for long.”
“Good,” you said. The eye contact you were sharing suddenly felt purposeful. You eased yourself away from his gaze, though it was more of a lurch than a very casual, not-at-all tension-filled turn.
There was a brief lapse in the conversation that made your skin prickle from your spine to your neck. You could feel Dean’s smug amusement from behind his binoculars, simmering, which didn’t help. The focussed silence that usually settled over the three of you on stake-outs never came, so you rushed to fill it.
“...So,” you opened, “if our witch uses a glamor to make himself appear more enticing to each of his victims, then how can I be sure it’s him?”
“He’s gonna be the best-looking guy in the place,” Sam explained. He’d reined in whatever had bothered him earlier, apparently, because his tone became halted and professional.
Dean sprung up, whistling. “That’s how—there ya go, he’s right there.”
You leaned around Dean, trying to get some idea of what you were hunting, but his big ass binoculars were in the way. The witch was only just across the street, yet Dean adjusted the focus on the lenses, apparently aiming for a microscopic look. You lowered them from his face so you could see past them, and behind the eyepieces he was so flushed his freckles had disappeared.
“I mean…” Dean cleared his throat, but his blush only spread further. “Wow. Just. Wow, that’s a good-looking dude.”
You were already opening your mouth to tease him, but everything you’d planned to say, along with any idea of what your name was, where you were, and what you were doing, drained from your grip like a fistful of sand.
Wow. That was the only word you could remember. It occurred to you that Dean was seeing a totally different man because of the witch’s magic, and christ, were you thankful for it. You’d never hear the end of it if they saw what you were… enjoying. The witch pulled up the curb in a glittering white muscle car—which definitely added to whatever Dean was going through. But for you, it wasn’t the vintage Challenger or the shiny loafers, or… or the, um… the white blazer… or the crisp button-up under, uh, underneath… Or the witch’s face. Which was Sam’s face. No little changes to support your preferences in men. No beautification, supernatural glow or… anything else. Just Sam. Sam as he was right now, sitting in your backseat. Sam with his, uh… his face clean and happy… with… w-with his hair styled all nice, like he always styles it when you dress up…
He emerged from the car, facing away from you. He waved a hand at the parking meter and it fizzed out. The broad shape of his back rolled under his suit, panther muscle moving under pelt, and he turned toward the bar with the same grace. His movements were vaguely not-Sam, if you squinted. It was all too sly, and he walked like he wasn’t as tall as he was. But something in the glamor kept you from pressing that idea in your head. Your mind wanted to indulge the parts of him that did look like Sam much more, so any bumps in his mirage smoothed themselves over, perfecting the look. It was clever. Clever… and… and, um… wow…
You had a thought. “The, um…” you tried, “we…”
“Y/N,” the real Sam chided.
The binoculars you’d pulled away from Dean fumbled out of your hand at the closeness of his voice, and you scrambled to catch it, and so did Dean, but neither of you took your eyes away from the street. You ended up weirdly clutching it together, like the two of you were going to wrestle for the right to see the witch through the binoculars. If you were any more focused, you might have.
“Guys,” Sam said, unimpressed. “It’s just a glamor. Pull it together, please?”
“...Sam,” you tested the name in your mouth, “um, witch glamors, how do they work?”
“They’re projections of power. They make each person who looks at them see their ideal partner. Didn’t I tell you this already?”
“I-I know. Just.” You swallowed. “Do they, like, pull from people the person’s already met, or do they, uh… make it up? To suit the person.”
“Both. But it’s easier magic to just use people the victim already loves.” He stressed victim as pointedly as he could, reminding you of the role you’d be playing.
Dean pried his eyes away from the street. They slid over to you, and you immediately did not like the suspicious gleam waiting for you there. “Why? You see somebody you know?” He bounced his eyebrows.
“What? You? Oh, please,” you laughed. You blurted out the first person you could come up with. “He’s ...Leo. In Titanic. Who do you see?”
“Another time,” Dean dodged. You usually would never let him get away with a blatant conversation shift like that, but he was grinning to himself like he could see you bullshitting too. It made you nervous. “Go on and get in there so we can gank this chump.”
“Good luck,” Sam wished you from the backseat, sounding blunter than usual. “And remember—underneath all that, he’s a decaying, millennia-old skeleton murdering innocent women.”
“Got it. Reality check received,” you said. Taking the door’s handle, you shot the boys one last look to confirm they’d have your back, and ducked out of the Impala.
The bar was of a higher-end than you were used to, so it took some mental adjustment to prepare for your role. Usually, the barflies you tricked preferred rougher, meaner girls, and you got the feeling that wasn’t what fake-Sam—Hermes, you reminded yourself—was into. If he was going after married unfaithfuls, he probably enjoyed mature, deceptive women who talked a lot about all the money they had. It was weird to think of someone with Sam’s face being into that.
The few pieces of gold jewelry you owned rattled on your wrists as you approached the bar. It was eight, prime drinking time, so everyone who’d had a long day at work or a date filled every inch of the place. Anyone who could afford the obscene prices, at least. A few minutes after you entered, you glimpsed Dean dissolving into the crowd. Hermes immediately took an isolated booth in the corner, where it would be easiest for him to scope out women at the bar. You only caught a glimpse of him. He lounged back, ankle on his knee, the low whiskey-hued light stroking one side of his face. It was… very Sam. He could’ve been on the couch at home, sunk into the cushions and reading a book by lamplight. You tried to reign in the confusing elixir of anxiety and attraction brewing in your stomach.
So far, he’d already begun to sort his targets. His honed-in look was unmistakable on Sam’s face. You made sure to pass in front of the women he was eyeing, and silently applauded yourself when his gaze was hooked on your figure. He trailed your slow saunter over to the bar with those intense, paletted eyes, lingering on the wedding band you wore. Knowing it was Sam—thinking it was Sam both helped and made things a million times worse. Your thoughts wandered like they never did on hunts, heart pounding.
Focus, you hissed to yourself. You needed to get him to drink something, so Sam, your Sam, could use the DNA on the glass in his spell. After setting up your act with a few coy glances, you suppressed the sickness rolling in your gut and summoned the bartender. “Two drinks—one for me, and another for the gentleman in the booth there.”
You almost ordered him Sam’s favorite beer, then felt supremely weird about it when deciding on a pricey whiskey instead. Man, was this place just begging for you to blow some cash. And this hunt… was really begging you to look some unspoken feelings in the face. As you waited for the drink to be delivered, it settled on you what Sam had said before—that this witch was wearing the body of your ideal partner. You weren’t stupid, you knew that’s what this was, but the confirmation from magic of all things…
It’s easier to just use people the victim already loves, Sam had explained.
You knew you loved him. You’d known since you were kids. But that was only ever something you told to yourself—now, the universe was shouting it back to you. It’s not like this witch reached into your mind and knew to choose Sam to get under your skin the most. The glamor was an automatic sort of magic, that you could tell. And if it was automatic… then it was all real. Your ideal partner really was Sam. Not even some dramatized, romantic version of him. The authentic article. It welled up inside you right there in that stupid-expensive bar on your stupid-expensive stool, a surging flood of emotion that seized you and tethered you to the floor.
Those feelings were always followed by the phantom pressure of Sam’s broad, gentle hands on your face. Your first kiss with him must’ve been more than a decade ago. He’d been so nervous that his hands shook, and he hadn’t taken up bow-hunting yet so the pads of his fingers were still soft. You’d held his wrists and trembled too, but you were relieved and excited and warm with wild summer liking, face tacky with dried tears. The last day had been spent weapon training. You’d shot a gun for the first time, and it’d stabbed the reality of your life right through your ribs. You were gonna kill things. It was going to be your job to kill things. Sam had sat with you while you’d sobbed on Bobby’s porch, squeezing you against him even though it was storming like hell. He’d sat there until your sides ached from laughing and you weren’t so worried about everything.
Sam promised you’d go through all this together, and he’d been right. Of course you were in love with him.
Okay. Hunt. Danger. Witch. Focus. He’s a decaying, millennia-old skeleton, you reminded yourself.
But the hand brushing your bare shoulder was young, healthy, and familiar. Down to the bow-hunting callouses.
“Excuse me,” he greeted. His voice wasn’t purring with seduction or intent, as you’d imagined. It was just light, easy Sam. Like it’d been a bit since he’d seen you, and he’d just climbed out of the car to give you a secure hug and a kiss on the hair. The witch settled his glass on the bar between you, expression glittering with feigned curiosity. “I’m sorry to bother you, but it was kind of you to send over the drink. I wanted to say thank you.”
Maybe he was reaching into your mind to emulate Sam. Why would a thieving, money-hungry witch be so polite?
“Anytime,” you said, and found yourself responding like you were really talking to Sam. The witch’s smile broadened into his dimples; he wanted familiarity. “It’d be rude to leave such a cute guy without a drink on such a nice evening, don’t you think?”
“I think it’d be rude to leave a beautiful woman without company,” he agreed, eyes twinkling.
Unfortunately, your body wasn’t in hunting mode, as it should be. It was in act-normal-around-Sam mode, but “Sam” was actively flirting with you—so all of your nerves were going haywire. Your skin warmed in ways it never did for the men you won your dinner money from. Or any other man but one, period. An embarrassing, genuine giggle burst out of your chest. “I-I don’t mind,” you beamed.
“Hermes,” he said, offering you one giant hand to shake.
You gave it to him, and immediately he turned it over in his palm, lowered his face to your knuckles, and kissed them appreciatively.
“Y-Y/N,” you blurted, instead of your alias.
Dear god. Jesus Christ. What the fuck.
“Y/N. Really.” The witch repeated. Now he was turning up the sultriness. His voice was so nice and his hand was just like Sam’s and he—he even smelled like Sam.
“No. Uh. Y/N L/N, not Y/N Really,” you joked. Your full name. Out loud. Instead of your alias.
What the actual fuck.
“Forgive my asking,” and fake-Sam ran his thumb over your wedding band, his lips parted and his breath lingering on your hand. His voice was coated with want and humor. “But is there a Mr. Really?”
Fuck. Wait, yes. This was good. This was what you wanted.
You gathered yourself, but not too much, cause he seemed to like your clumsiness. Or maybe it gave him more incentive to kill you. “Yes,” you said, tip-toeing with your wording, “...does that bother you?”
Hermes just grinned and shook his head.
The witch gestured to the stool beside yours, and you nodded maybe a little too much. He claimed it, folding his legs uncomfortably because he was a bit too tall. It made you realize that the glamor worked even better (and harder) up close. All of the little details you loved about Sam—the slight crook of his left incisor where it’d almost been punched out a million times, the freckles under his collar and sleeves—loaded in. You swore they hadn’t been there before.
But, you still haven’t seen him drink from the cup. He wraps his hand loosely around the glass on the illuminated bartop, but otherwise doesn’t make a move, brushing his thigh against yours. You make up bland conversation about a long, arduous day at the wealthy company you work for. You complain a little bit about the doggy daycare your pure-bred Pomeranian goes to. When the bartender comes by, you tip him a good chunk of money right in front of Hermes. And if none of that is working, you bait him with the wedding ring and the cut of your dress.
It’s weird. It’s so fucking weird. But that’s kind of your life, so you’ve learned to accept the strangeness, and you enjoy the surface flirting with this millennia-year-old man who’s planning to kill you. While wearing the face of the love of your life.
You realize that you’ll probably never have this with the real Sam. Not the murder part, but the easy date night flirting—not without the cost of your friendship, or testing Sam’s feelings about relationships.
When you’re satisfied that he’s hooked, as Dean put it, you raise your second round of drinks together and toast to them. You make something up about good company, and Hermes drinks. He lets his hand cover your bare knee, drawing circles that set every hair on your body on end. After what feels like hours, you brush your nails against the hair at the base of his neck, lean in, and whisper in his ear, “Do you wanna get out of here?”
And with that sly, clever Sam smile, he agrees. But— “My place is close. May I walk you?”
“You may,” you reply, even if it’s a complete deviation from his M.O. The witch always takes his victims back to their own homes, that’s how he robs them. What, was he genuinely attracted to you? Was this a real hookup thing? Or, did he recognize your real name and planned to kill you? Knowing your luck, you’d put money on murder.
Instead of offering you his arm, the witch is gentle and sweet as he gives you his hand. Just before you slip away from your seats, you put his whiskey on the stool, away from the well-meaning bartender who might clean it. The second you make it out the door with Hermes, Dean skulks out of the crowd and drops the empty glass in a plastic bag. Now you’re on the clock. Either the boys get Hermes first, or Hermes gets you. No pressure.
When you get outside, the Impala’s parked elsewhere. You’re both bothered and comforted by that, because while it may mean that the boys are out of sight, your spell is being performed where prying eyes can’t see. That’s good.
Hermes gives your hand a playful squeeze. While you’ve held Sam’s hand before, those moments were always too fleeting for you to take in much. You imagine your mind, or Hermes’ glamor, is filling in the blanks for you. His fingers are long and his hold is encompassing, swallowing almost the whole of yours. You talk for the two of you, since it’s a part of his act to give as little information about himself as possible. He pretends to enjoy your conversation. It’s your mind’s greatest impression of an interested Sam, his brow furrowed, his head ducked in thought, his focus honed in on only what you have to say. The witch leans in close when he does speak, murmuring into your ear. He loves to touch your bare skin, so his hands linger on your shoulders and the exposed portion of your back. It’s all a tactic to win over your suspicion, you know that, but it’s Sam’s hands. It’s his hands and his voice and his face.
“You know what?” Hermes surveys the street, and peaks into the alleyway nearest you, weighing your options like it’s not obvious where he’s going to drag you. Come on. “Let’s take this shortcut here.” He gives you a devouring look, “I don’t want us to wait any longer than we have to.”
“The suspicious, dark alleyway?” You joke. Just a few more minutes. Almost there. It’s gotta be.
Fake-Sam’s smile is fond, and with the same quiet resolution that Sam brings to everything, he parts from your hand to wrap his arm around your waist. He cups your side and brings you against him. His arm is the perfect shelter from the chilly night, bleeding with body heat and the homey scent of the man you love.
“I’ll keep you safe,” he purrs, and admittedly, that’s when you start to panic.
Not because he was edging you into a creepy alley—alleys, in the hunting life, were familiar territory. Or because you realized you were about to fight him. That was more than routine to hunting; it was hunting itself. What made you panic was your own willpower here. You could cut down a thousand evil witches a day, but nothing in this world could make you put that knife to Sam’s throat. Not death, not hell, not heaven. All of them had tried. Every one of them had failed.
This wasn’t Sam. You knew that. The difference was palpable. But it was close enough to make you hesitate, and you were dreading what that could mean.
“Alright, hero,” you flirted. “Lead the way.”
He teased your waist with a squeeze, then began the slow, intimate walk he imagined you were hoping for. The witch started to chat about how much he loved the city, how lively the people were. Bullshitting. Trying to settle your anxiety—so you were open to attack. Well. If he was so hellbent on cornering you now, all you could do was drag it out for as long as you could. You snuggled close to him, and pretended to admire the night sky between the towering downtown buildings.
The two of you passed the back end of a business’s warehouse. Its windows were thin-paned and close by, shimmering with neon light the closer you came to it. You made bubbly, flirty conversation, and calculated in your head when would be the perfect time to smash the glass and attack him with it.
He must’ve had the same idea.
You woke up two seconds later, glass in your hair, in your dress, and prickling painfully between you and the icy concrete floor. The warehouse ceiling floated overhead. Streams of moonlight poured through the uneven shape of the now-destroyed window. It took you but a breath to register this, then you were rolling onto your hands and snatching up the biggest shard that had survived your crash. In an instant you were heaving yourself to your feet and plotting: just a little more time, they just need a little more time, all you had to do was distract.
A long shadow fell over the glass debris. This was the part where your adrenaline would kick in, but a hot, ugly dose of fear joined it. That was Sam. You were fighting Sam. No, y-you—you weren’t—
“Well, isn’t this special,” Hermes cooed. He strolled toward you, the glass crunching under his loafers to the beat of his lazy walk. Everything but his smile was obscured by the dark. “The Winchester whore. I’ve heard of you. I have to say, I’m a little—”
“—disappointed? Let me guess: I’m shorter than you thought, prettier than expected, yadda yadda,” you filled in for him. “G-god, can’t any of you losers find different scripts?”
You knew the shard wouldn’t do much, but you’d hoped having it out in front of you would make you feel better. It didn’t. Hermes stepped into a shaft of light, illuminating Sam, with his hair in his eyes and a curious, calculating turn to his lip. It was straight out of any pink-hued day of your teenage years. Like he’d just found something fascinating in a book he was reading, and was beckoning you over to share it with you. And if it came down to it, you’d have to make him bleed if you wanted out of here.
“Fine. We’ll skip the pretense, then,” Hermes bargained, and with a wave of his hand you were slammed back-first into the nearest product shelves.
Pain exploded across your back, whiting out all else. You dropped a whole foot to the floor and collapsed there, pathetically gripping the closest table to find the courage to stand up. You couldn’t. Every deep breath you took seized your ribcage like a snapped trap. Shuddering in place there, you heard Hermes step across the glass, coming closer. Closer. Come on, Sam, you thought. For a moment, just a moment, you were truly afraid of him.
But this was Sam’s face. Out of all the faces you could see the moment before it all went dark, you’d be glad if it was his. The fear lightened. You lifted your face to meet his, snarling. Hermes waved his hand, and in one great cacophony, like a chandelier dragging itself across the floor, the broken glass fluttered up in a swirling cloud and hung in the air around you like stars. Deadly, jagged stars.
“One less thorn in my side,” he decided, and the hand—a copy of the love of your life’s hand, closed into a vicious fist. The shards whistled.
Hermes exploded into smoke.
The glass hung in the air for a moment more, then rained down on the floor again, shattering into powder. You flinched away and jerked to cover your head, and when all was quiet, and Hermes’ smoke was dissolved in the wind, you rolled onto your side and let out the breath you’d been holding.
People saved. Things hunted. Fuck, your back hurt.
You laid there for a moment longer, having fun pitying yourself, when a sharp cry of your name echoed down the alley outside. It took you a second to gather enough breath to holler back, “In here, Dean!”
Dean sprinted clear past the window, then backtracked so hard he almost tripped. “Y/N,” he sighed. Relief could’ve bowled him over at that moment.
As he charged through the broken window and swung his gun at the dark, you sat up, aiming to smile. You couldn’t really do it. “The witch is dead. Sam got him. High five?”
Dean hesitated, but after stashing his pistol in his waistband and taking stock of your injuries, he gave your raised hand a light smack and opened his arms. The gesture alone made all your injuries feel numbed. “Alright. Up and attem’. Let’s get you some Barbie bandaids and a big dinner, huh? You deserve it.”
“Hell yeah,” you breathed. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Without hesitation, Dean scooped you onto your feet, brushed the hair stuck to your bloody forehead aside, and started to guide you toward your exit. After a long beat of you laying your head on him and soaking in everything that's happened, Dean murmured, “The witch didn’t look a thing like DiCaprio, did he?”
You watched your footing instead of Dean’s face. “No. No, he didn’t.”
After the bigger chunks of glass were taken out of your skin, you took a quick, wince-filled shower, and toweled your hair on the motel bed you shared with Sam. The glass was surprisingly the least annoying part of fighting the witch; what had really fucked you up were the bruises, which were blooming all along your back in shelf-shaped rectangles. Your injuries were pretty light for a witch hunt, though, so you contented yourself with being alive in a pair of snuggly pajamas.
It was well past eight by now, so the rooms adjacent to yours were quiet, and the road outside threw occasional beams of light across your bedspreads. You always loved the motels on the outskirts of town more than their inner-city counterparts. Though they were usually more run-down, the sounds of tires whisking on asphalt and frogs croaking in the weeds comforted you. Dean rarely let you keep the windows open, but he wasn’t about to snipe at his poor, injured best friend, so you arranged the salt on the sill in neat lines and soaked in the midnight breeze. In safer times, you and the boys might’ve had a bonfire at Bobby’s on a night like this.
Dean left the bathroom light on and propped it open enough to see by. He lapsed into his post-hunt ritual in the half-dark, chattering about your success, while Sam perched in a chair and didn’t speak.
He’d succumbed to an unnerved, unbroken silence once you promised him on the drive back that you’d live. A couple of throws and one window weren’t going to kill you. There was no chance in hell that he couldn’t sense that the witch was eating at you for different reasons, though. If he could tell the route a car had taken while blindfolded, then honing his sensitivities to the daily shifts in your mood was child’s play. But if you pushed him to let it go, he would, because he respected your limits—you just weren’t looking forward to having that conversation.
Dean chattered constantly, like he usually did when something was wrong in the air between the three of you. He’d even tried to hold a conversation with you through the bathroom door while you showered, for god’s sake. When you emerged, hissing at every pinch in your back tissue, Dean was waiting with clothes, a careful smile, and a medkit. His brother was still silent, though he’d jumped up from his seat.
“Sam?” You worked up the courage to say. “Could—would you mind, uh, helping me with my back? There’s… still a lot of pieces I couldn’t get.”
“Uh… Dean can.” Sam drilled his eyes through your room’s door, hunching into the collar of the jacket he hadn’t removed yet. “M’ gonna walk. I need to clear my head,” he sighed, snappishly, and poured all his willpower into not scrambling out the door as fast as he could. It whipped shut behind him too quickly for you to say anything back.
“...Okay. Well. Sucky job, huh?” Dean said. You heard him pop open the medkit and dip the mattress behind you, so you shuffled back a bit and carefully lifted the fabric of your shirt covering your back.
“Yeah,” you muttered. Sam’s shadow flew past your window and disappeared in long, curt steps towards the cicadas chirping by the roadside. You leaned further and further to chase his figure by the porch lights, but Dean gently reeled you back so he could start in on the tinier fragments.
“You helped a lot of people today,” Dean said, trying to goad you back to the conversation. You could hear in his pauses how worried he was about his brother, but you both knew that it was better to give Sam time to simmer, then return.
“Oh, just women willing to cheat on their husbands,” you rolled your eyes.
Dean braced his hand on your shoulder, and gave you a little warning squeeze every time he was going to pull one of the pieces out. The bloody glass tinking into the tin and your sharp winces soon formed a shaky rhythm. “Still people,” he pointed out. You didn’t reply, simmering in the thrum of his voice and the burn of your bruises.
When Dean started putting antibiotics on the cuts and loading them up with Barbie bandaids, as promised, you blurted out: “You think I upset Sam?”
You were hoping for a doubtful laugh or even some kind of scoff, like Dean found it hard that Sam could ever be mad at you, because that’s how his world worked. He needled the two of you all the time for how inseparable you were. You were you and Sam was Sam, mingled too closely for anyone else to squeeze in the middle. Usually, if you asked Dean something like that, he’d shrug. You’d know better than me, pal.
Instead, Dean released a deep breath from his nose. He did it like that so often now that you could recognize it, which unsettled you, since it was Dean’s withholding-sigh. You could usually pry just about anything out of him, but he had this wall that he hit sometimes with Sam. Brother confidentiality or whatever. You could respect that—when things didn’t involve you potentially upsetting Sam.
“Dean,” you tried again, “did I do something wrong? I feel like you’re not telling me everything here.”
He tore open another bandaid with his teeth and choose not to speak. It was enough to tell you that Dean knew he shouldn’t intervene, even if he wanted to.
You glanced over your shoulder to look at him. “Dean. C’mon. How many favors do you two knuckleheads owe me after today?”
Dean counted them in his head, closed his eyes, and cursed. “Don’t make me say it, Y/N. You’re a smart girl. You can’t be this blind.”
“You don’t get it. Sam will be pissed with me.” He snapped the med-kit closed.
“If he gives you shit for it, you know I’ll cover for you. I’ll tell him that I coerced you and everything, that I cornered you,” you goaded. To make your argument even harder to ignore, you whipped down your shirt and rolled around to face him, your eyes big and bleeding with heart. “Sam is clearly upset. All I want to do is help him.”
Dean’s arms hung at his sides. His tells were small, but for a second there, you could’ve sworn you’d loosened his resolve enough. Instead, he shut you down with a short glare. “...Show me your shoulder.”
You held there for a moment, unmoving and stern, just to press how serious this was to you. If you’d done something to hurt Sam’s feelings, all three of you knew the lengths you’d go to make it up to him. And Dean keeping the reason why so close to his chest could only go two ways—either it was so light and petty that it wasn’t worth mentioning, or it was too terrible to voice. Only one of those ended with Sam nursing an infected wound for months. Few emotional appeals would reach Dean’s ears, but you thought he and his brother deserved someone who fought to right any grievances made against them.
With two fingers, you yanked your collar to one side. Sitting in the meat at the curve of your neck was a fat gauze bandage as wide as three fingers. Dean tested the edges with his thumb while you jabbed, “It’s fine. The stitches didn’t get messed up in the shower.”
“And the painkillers?” Dean checked.
“Working,” you answered. “Now, tell me what’s up. You can’t lie to me for shit.”
Again, you expected an awkward wince or a reluctant grimace from him. And again, Dean surprised you. He sighed deep into his shoulders, cupped the unmarred side of your neck, and shocked you into place with a burning, deathly serious look. “...Son of a bitch, fine! This is a big deal to me, okay? I’m breaking my brother’s trust here—but only because I think it’ll be better for the both of you, capiche?”
You nodded just as gravely. “What is it?”
“Sam…” Dean held you in place for a second more, then drifted out of your orbit, following his thoughts and hesitation in a circle around your hotel room. You let him think, a slow ugly sickness building in your throat. “Sam has feelings for you, okay? He’s—he’s had them for a while. So long that it’s insane to me that you haven’t noticed it yet—”
“Shut the fuck up,” you laughed. “Dean, please, I’m really worried about him. I don’t have time to mess around right now.”
Dean’s flailing arms dropped to his sides. He just stood there looking helpless, waiting. Waiting more.
“...Dean.” The name tasted like oncoming tears. You straightened up and steeled yourself, pressing into every new, stinging wound at your posture’s disposal. “This is… now y-you’re just being mean. You know how I feel about this.”
“I’m…” his hand fumbled upwards, like he thought about calling upon a higher power for help here, then remembered how that’d turned out last time. “Y/N, I’m not messing with you here. Sam has been crazy about you since we were kids.”
You believed him. It took some pacing, some crazed muttering, and some hard, labored breaths, but eventually you broke out of your trance and realized you believed him.
Dean nudged his chin at you, waiting for a response.
Pathetically, you said: “W-why?”
You summoned your best glare. “Level with me here. Just. Why?”
“Why the hell would I know?” Dean sputtered. He shrugged up to his ears, smiling a bit, like this was as grand a mystery to him as it was to you. “All I know is that he’d burn this world to the ground for you. Everything today… with you playing bait, and everything… It freaks him out, your scrapes. I mean, it freaks me out too, but I know you can handle yourself. It’s… I dunno, he’s mushier. It’s more personal to him.”
You thunked down on the closest surface, which could've been a hot stove for all you cared; numbing tingles rolled all the way up your arms and legs. Usually, you had a good reign on your own feelings, but now they galloped free too fast for you to catch. Exhaustion’s sweeter cousin barrelled you over. Shock and relief and love and terror each took their own swing at you, until you sat there with your hands limp in your lap, feeling like you’d laid down on the sidewalk and all of your feelings had lined up to kick you around. For the first time in your life you sat down and cried at the drop of a hat. It was fucking awesome.
A bubbly laugh rolled out of you. “Me too. I-I do too. Holy shit, am I over-reacting or what?”
Dean’s warm hand rubbed a spot on your arm the glass hadn’t touched. “Uh, maybe a bit. But I guess you’ve both waited a long time, so Sam’ll probably think it’s… sweet, or some bullshit like that.”
Another laugh surprised its way out of you. “Shut the hell up. God, you were right—I’m so blind. Do you think… Should I…? Sam, he’s still mad.”
Dean paused, enjoying how panic and delight warred on your face. “Not mad. More like…” he searched for the word, beaming slyly, “...jealous.”
Sam returned to a buzzing, eager silence in the motel. The second he had inched the door shut behind him, sheepish and looking like it, Dean shoved on his driving boots. You noticed how Sam was careful to catch your eye just once, otherwise entertaining himself with the pattern of the carpet. He at least seemed a touch more clear-headed. Sam had always loved a good, breezy walk; one of a million of his quirks that you loved too much to forget.
“Alright,” Dean scooped up the Impala’s keys, flicking the lapels of his jacket. “I owe Y/N her favorite dinner, like I promised. You want anything while I’m out?”
Sam’s brow furrowed. “Her favorite place is at least an hour and a half from here,” he said, because of course he remembered that.
His brother shrugged. “I’m in the mood to drive. Cabin fever n’ all. See you nerds in,” he was not at all subtle when checking the clock in your room, or smiling about his results: “...three hours. Ciao.”
“It’ll be cold by—” Sam started, but Dean had already sauntered passed him, swinging his keyring in one hand. His whistling carried all the way out to the lot, and quietly you wondered how long he’d been wanting to tell you what he had.
Sam was forced to turn to you. His displeasure from before had slowly melted into embarrassment, but he wasn’t about to show it. He made a helpless gesture at the door like, welp, there goes that, and the elixir of liking in your chest shook loose a giggle. A real giggle. At least you could be embarrassed together.
Since sleeping on your back was off the table for the next week of your life, you’d gotten comfy on your stomach. With Sam gone, you had the room go completely diagonal on your shared bed, angling toward the dingy colored light of the TV. Dean had put on some random soap opera you weren’t a fan of, but tonight you thought of nothing but one thing. Sam has feelings for you, Dean had said. He’d burn this world to the ground for you, Dean had said.
Repeating them to yourself felt like writing the words down and holding up the paper by Sam’s face—weighing those images against the man you knew. You’d… guessed. Hoped is more accurate. But to see those words in action, moving and breathing in a person, totally blew you out of the water. Dean was right; you were dumb as hell for not seeing it before. Sam teetered on his heels in front of you. He wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans, hiding behind his bangs and forcing himself to stand still. When you shied away to look at the TV, you could feel his gaze devouring you in every dose he could manage. Searching and memorizing. Every time you were occupied, Sam admired the soft curve of your back in your sleep shirt, your swept hair, your shorts, the exposed skin of your neck, your face.
Still, you’d hoped and only hoped for so long. You believed Dean. But you couldn’t bring yourself to understand that it was possible in the first place.
While you watched the television and panicked over what to say to him, Sam toed off his shoes and hung his jacket on the nearest chair. After a moment of hanging in the middle of your room, directionless, he followed his heart to your bedside.
“You feelin’ better?” He dipped the mattress just beside you, your side pressed against his night-chilled back.
You shuffled up onto your elbows, smiling at him with such vibrancy and realness that Sam flushed up to his ears. “I’m all good,” you promised, and it was the truth. “Happy to rid the world of another tie-wearing evil.”
That earned a dry smile. You carried through it, buoyed by everything except thought. “Only got three stitches this time,” you told him, sounding smug, and pulled down your collar to show him the bandage.
All your mind wanted to do was take a shovel out of the Impala and bury yourself off the edge of the highway, but the unbridled joy in your body didn’t care. It brimmed over everything else. The heady, healthy foam of it conquered every other feeling. Your nervousness, your terror, your anxiety. You couldn’t believe that you were just sitting here and talking about nothing. The truth was giddy in your ribcage, like good news you couldn’t keep from him any longer. Sam recieved it so rarely.
Sam just stared at you. You could only make out one side of his face in the dark, the cheek painted with the waltzing colors of the soap opera on the screen. Blues and peaches and warm grays. He was bent so close to you that you could keep your head comfortably sunk into your pillow, and you did, studying him as he studied you. The longer he took you in the more he seemed to relax. One of his hands flexed against the mattress, bringing him back to the world the two of you shared. Your exchange went on for so long that the hand on your open collar went slack, and so did Sam’s jaw. Dean was gone and the two of you were in the safe realm of the dark again—usually, Sam would reach out and brush his hand down your back, squeeze your arm, or kiss your forehead.
“If you’re good, then… good,” he said, distantly. “I’m beat. Let me help you move, huh?”
“Okay,” you hummed.
Even as Sam stood, his face chased yours, one side of a magnet seeking its counterpart. He hovered as you shuffled onto your calves, then pulled back the covers for you to worm under without disturbing your torn skin. You only had so much time to say something—and after so long, nothing could keep you from telling him. Not if you were sure he still felt the same way. You hesitated to lay down, and Sam, sensing your need to speak, paused too.
“Oh,” Sam realized. “I’d almost… forgot. Can I…?”
He waved to your forehead, and before he could retreat out of awkwardness, you convinced yourself to nod. Sam went as far as cupping your arm, then wavered. It was just cute, now. “You can,” you murmured between you, “go ahead.”
Sam dropped a brief kiss on the side of your face, then turned tail for the bathroom to get ready for bed. You had this whole fantasy in your mind of Sam letting his lips linger, burning the shape and feel of them into your soul like you wanted him to, but the two of you hadn’t breached this territory in years. Both of you were terrified of it. Before you could let that fear control you, you blurted out:
“He looked like you.”
Sam’s figure twisted toward you in the dark. “Huh?”
You cleared your throat, which burned front to back with need and apprehension. “The witch, Sam. He looked like you. To me.”
Sam couldn’t look at you dead-on without light, but he tried. Those hungry eyes, hungry for safety and closeness, scraped down your outline. Then again, testing the groves they’d dug. Sam was reminding himself of all the blood he’d seen before, driving back in the Impala and pulling glass out of your jacket with slippery, trembling hands. He deflated. He started toward you, then deflated again.
“He did that to you, with my face—” Sam bleeds.
Before he can start to spiral, you rope in his hand and squeeze it through his sleeve. It’s big and enveloping, just like Hermes’ was, but there’s so much more that the magic just couldn’t replicate. He has a mole on his wrist you’d forgotten about and these subtle veins that bump under your thumbs. His knuckles are strong and feel almost welded, but underneath all that you can feel how gentle he’s worked to be. How much he’s still scared of himself. His mind may be enclosed with good intentions, but Sam had always thought of his body as something that didn’t fully belong to him. Even if the witch didn’t possess him, to Sam, the used goods, the meat suit, it feels like it. And the last thing he’d want his possessed body to do is hurt you. Manipulate you.
“Shh,” you soothed. “No. You’re missing what I’m trying to say. The witch… his glamor made me see the most p-perfect—the best man my mind would come up with.”
Sam just stared. You squeezed his fingers, willing him to understand. His other hand, chilled by his walk, wound slowly over your shoulder. His two leading fingertips lingered over the square white bandage at the junction of your neck. Though he was repulsed by what he thought was his own handiwork, you pressed closer, chasing the rough pads of his bowhunting calluses no matter how much it stung.
“Sam,” you said, sternly.
He just shook his head, ripping his free hand back. Sam pressed: “When he hit you, he looked like me.”
You wound your tether to him ever closer, growing bolder, bringing his hand into the warmth of your chest, entwined against your collarbones. The tears surged into your lashes, but you resisted them with a shake of your head. “It made it easier,” you laughed without mirth. “When he was flirting with me, but at the end, too, yeah. Is that fucked up?”
Sam breathed short from his nose. “Yeah, a bit. But you know I’d never—”
“That’s not even a question. Of course you wouldn’t,” you swore to him. Since the humor was teasing into his voice again, you joined it with your own, pressing your face into his arm. “But, um. If you were jealous of him, well. You should know that there’s really no contest.”
Another long, draining silence haunted you from overhead for a moment, and Sam swayed in place, his hand dropping suddenly on your shoulder. For balance? Was he really… winded? Floored? The show on beside you faded to black, submerging you both in inky, sightless dark. You could feel it in his hands now—Sam was quivering with disbelief. His broad palm scoped up your neck. His hand parted from yours between you, palming across your shoulder. They joined seamlessly together on each of your cheeks, cupping your face just like they had before. You rose into the touch, following him up, until you were standing between his socks at your bedside with your face in his hands. They were still pretty cold; but warming up, and fast. Just like before, you softened all over and held steady to his wrists.
Sam swallowed. “Dean told you?”
“Yeah,” you choked, afraid of what your voice was capable of. “Don’t be mad at him. Or jealous of some stupid witch. There’s… you have to know by now, that nobody even holds a candle to you, right?”
Sam laughed breathlessly. His long thumbs caressed your skin, your under-eyes, weighing the feel of you and your closeness like it’d be taken from him any minute. His left hand pressed even closer, and you met the scar there with your cheekbone. This is real, you promised him.
“Me too,” he gushed, and the sound poured right out of him just as yours did, overboiling with joy. “For you. Nobody, Y/N, this whole time, nobody compares.”
Real happiness was so new to you that the two of you hovered there, waiting for it to be ripped away. Your face ached, from smiling, from crying, from bruising, and it strained your chest a bit to laugh. You surged into Sam and let it all go anyway. Giggling uncomfortably rattled the injuries on your back, but any ache you felt was soothed by Sam's broad hand in your hair, stroking it away from your face. He was still chilly from his walk. There was a small building heat in the middle of his chest, so you squeezed even closer to meet it and found a leaching embrace instead. The pressure of him all around you could’ve put you in tears again. It hadn’t been long since you’d hugged him, but you could feel that love this time—the way Sam swayed with you in his arms, the way he kept pawing your neck to bring you closer and closer. Like the feeling of you laughing in tandem with him wasn’t enough. He needed to absorb you, be you, for you to be close enough to satisfy him.
He was careful to watch the injuries on your back, but you didn’t care. You wanted him to palm your bruised shoulder blades, to drag his nails down your glass-pocked spine, to squeeze you as close as possible no matter how much your material body hurt. A button on his shirt was digging into your cheek and his chin was poking your head. But it didn’t matter—he was the real deal, imperfections and all, just how you liked him. Loved him.
“Nobody?” You murmured, in disbelief.
Sam shook his head. “Nobody, Y/N. Not anyone.”
Nothing could pull you away from him then, so you didn’t bother to arrange yourself comfortably to kiss him. His face was so close to yours that you could breathe only him and the old books he smelled like. You knew that the second you kissed him that it’d be all over—forever marrying your visions of living to him, and giving your lifeblood a name. It was dangerous in this business to give your reason for living legs and a heart. But Sam’s sleepy eyes had closed and his pulsed swished under your hand, and you knew it was decades too late for that.
Your palms dropped to his chest, and Sam pinned them between you, ducking his head low enough to ache and searing you hard against him. It should’ve been awkward and cramped. You forgot that as you melted into the smell of him, a slab of chocolate in the sun. The kiss should’ve been cursed, since the angels swore he was, that you would be too. If it was, then cursed was warmth and love and closeness. Safe at last! Your body sobbed into the kiss. It all felt silly; like you could’ve done this ages ago.
Sam burst into snickers. You did too, against his mouth, and between peals of laughter you tried to scold him, “Shhh, you big idiot—” but Sam just shushed you back and kissed you again.
He dipped his head like actors in the movies did, intense-eyed and deeply fond, which made you flush and giggle harder. You both gave lose attempts at more sweet pecks, only to absolutely lose it when Sam almost knocked the lamp off the bedside table. Eventually, you were giggling too hard and stumbling too much to kiss properly at all. This didn’t intimidate Sam, who cleverly angled your cheek with his thumbs and kissed where you weren’t laughing. You squealed and wiggled for an escape that wasn’t actually alluring to you at all. Each time Sam caught you on the brow or the corner of your lip, you’d giggle and squirm away, only to float back into his orbit again. Parallelling the millions of games you’d played together as kids; tag, hide and seek, marco polo. Just another chase. Just another step in your infinite cycle.
“Really,” you said, eventually. An embarrassed heat prickled through your entire face. “Nobody compares to me. You really think that?”
“How many more times would you like me to say it?” Sam asked. He did this with both of your hands closed in one of his, his tone clever and sincere. “Not anyone.”
“You… you cheeseball,” you accused, and Sam’s mouth snapped closed to suppress another bubbly chuckle. It’d been ages since you’d gotten him to laugh so hard, so you were gluttonous off it and determined to steal more. “This whole time, you’ve been running around with this schoolyard crush on me… Man, this is quality blackmail material. Did you gush about me in your diary? Write Mr. Sam L/N in all of your notebooks?”
In the stark darkness, Sam again inclined his face over yours. “Did you?”
“No,” you blurted, a little too fast. “...It was Mrs. Y/N Winchester, obviously. It’s different.”
Sam just shook his head, charmed. You could feel him standing there across from you, admiring you in the silence, and it slammed on you like a ton of bricks that Sam must’ve done that before. A couple of times, at least. Just looked at you because he liked you so much. Any flirty confidence you’d built up was overpowered by a wave of shyness.
You rushed to fill the loving silence. “But. About the comparison thing… Good. I-I’m, I’m happy. I always wanted… I always wanted to be your… your first choice, I guess. Is that selfish?”
Sam hummed a no, and again his hand floated up to your face to warm your cheek. It filled you with so much want that your knees nearly buckled. Flustered out of your mind, you rambled: “I wasn’t a fan of Ruby, or, uh, that Becky girl from the convention, or the doctor chick in Iowa…”
He rumbled your name. “I don’t want to talk about them,” he murmured, amused, and kissed you once. When Sam parted from you, the silky lilt of his whisper in your ear flushed your belly with need. “I want to talk about you. And I definitely want to kiss you.”
“Sam…” you murmured. He dipped in for another warm, wet kiss, that instantly wiped your ability to create thought. You had to hold onto his shirt to steady yourself, and by then Sam had paused to not interrupt you. “I-I just…” you scrambled for anything to say, made honest by the dark, “I remember how you looked at them. I imagined how your hands must’ve felt on them… how theirs felt on you. I-I know I’m killing the moment here, but I need you to know—I was, I was out of my mind with jealousy, Sam. I—yeah.”
The hold on him grounded you, and again a second time when his hand settled over yours. Sam brought his arm around your waist, which made you realize how much he’d held you versus how much you’d held him. It was a disappointing ratio, so you welded him closer and snuggled your arms under his shoulders, letting your hands praise the unwinding slopes of his back.
A pleasant sigh seeped out of him, which broke into a careful chuckle. “I’m gonna be honest with you—pretty much nothing could ruin this for me right now,” Sam admitted. Which really meant something, because the chances of this being ruined by just about anything were 80-20. “I’ve wanted this since I was like, twelve. I guess you could say I wasn’t a fan of that waiter in Kansas, or your date to junior prom, or even Dean.”
You choked on your own laugh. “C’mon. You’ve got to be kidding me. Your brother, Sam? That man does not wash his underwear.”
Sam’s weighty shoulders shrugged against your cheek. You could feel his smile against your hair, that slight dimple in his cheek…“He always gets the girl. N’ the others… I don’t know.” Plainly and clearly, he turned into your embrace to speak face to face, “It’s you. It’s always been you. But I’ve never been brave enough to say it.”
You had no clue how to respond to that. A winning lottery ticket could be dropped in your lap, hell could close its gates forever, the angels could finally decide to leave you alone, and you’d know exactly what to say. Holy shit, maybe. Or even a tasteful, what the fuck. But what was good enough for Sam? What words could you say to make him happier than he just made you? You’d never been as sincere or as well-spoken as him, but he deserved that and more.
“I’m just glad we’re saying it now,” you murmured, your throat tight with building tears. Whatever channel was playing illuminated more of your face to him in a frame of white, and there Sam seemed to absorb everything you couldn’t put into words.
His thumb brushed your cheekbone. “How long have you been sitting on this?”
“Since our first kiss,” you flushed. “So, uh, fifteen years?”
You could sense Sam’s smug grin coming from a mile away. He always glanced aside beforehand, like he knew he was about deliver a clever blow. “Sixteen,” he boasted. “When we almost shocked ourselves to death taking apart that old Ford in Bobby’s salvage yard—you taught me what an intercooler was, and I was so impressed I wanted you to be my girlfriend.”
“Sixteen whole years,” you scoffed. Just for emphasis, you gave Sam a little push, and he dropped down to sit on your mattress. Without question, he left room for you between his legs and you flushed down to your toes taking up that space. “You gotta beat me at everything, don’t you?”
“Maybe. But I hear it’s gentlemanly to let your girlfriend win every once in a while,” Sam hummed.
That was an obvious challenge put down just for you. It was all too easy for you to rise to the bait and fluster all at once, since Sam knew how to engineer his bets just for you. The divide between your friendship before and your relationship now was a web more than it was a line, so dipping a knee in his lap on the bed was easier than you would’ve thought. Leaning in and smoothing your hands around his neck was not. Sam’s breath hitched in his chest, which you relished in. All these little reactions he always had—they were all because of you. His shyness, his cute hesitation, his miserable attempts at being neutral.
“Well, I,” you clarified, walking two of your fingers up his collar, “hear that it’s gentlemanly to ask her out first.”
Sam really was a dork, because just a little physical flirting had his hands flitting without direction around your middle. Every time your fingers took a further step up his neck, his breathing grew deeper, straining for composure he wouldn’t ever find. Not on your watch. When you finally stole the kiss you’d been itching to take, Sam’s eyes fluttered shut and his hands scuttled to find a place on your waist, wracked with shyness. He really didn’t want to mess this up. It was a sweet notion, if it was even possible in the first place.
Eventually, they found their hold on your hips. You hovered in his space, soaking up the feel of him in the dark as his fingertips memorized you, cataloged you, admired you. Sam’s chin tilted up, silently asking for permission as his hands hovered at the edge of your shirt. Your kiss was all the answer he needed. Gently, his fingers slid under your shirt, where they stoked the sensitive skin of your belly just for the sake of feeling you.
“Would you be my girlfriend?” Sam whispered. He was nervous and everything, as if there was a universe where you would ever turn him down.
The hands you’d braced on Sam’s shoulders pressed closer, taking in the texture of his shirt and the muscle underneath it, until one of your warm palms had snuck underneath his collar to press flat to his back. Sam released a low hissing breath. You met him with a deep, meaningful, possessive kiss, tickling your nails against the top of his spine.
“I’m all yours,” you promised, and Sam’s whole body sunk in relief.
He made a desperate sort of gesture along the bottom of your back, avoiding your bandages but wanting you closer, deeper, nearer to him. Emboldened by his obvious yearning, you offered your knee over his thigh. Sam invited you closer. Anxiety swirled in your gut, but the touch of him was merciful and yielding; he’d do only what you wanted to do. This was Sam. You’d never felt safer, so you sunk comfortably into the bowl of his lap.
You kissed him in long pecks at first, the soft bulb of your nose pressing into his cheek. His lips were soft and plush and warm, and the deeper you tasted them the more they drove from you. Any rigid fear left in your chest dissolved at his touch. That’s what he must’ve been waiting for, because he put his arms around you only once you untensed, and with all the urgency of too-in-love teenagers, you embraced. Sam slotted your chests together. You cupped his neck and roamed his hair, crushing him closer until you could feel his firm middle flatten to yours. A low wanting sigh rattled out of him. It was so authentic and distinctly Sam that you felt foolish for ever seeing a thing in the witch’s glamor. This was Sam, with his gentleness, his fear of his strength, his hesitation to take what he wanted. You were proud of your choice of words: you were all his, because this Sam was definitely all yours. This was the Sam you knew.
It occurred to you just how much you’d dreamed of this before. Reality surpassed expectation with ease, purely because there was so much you hadn’t considered. Often, you’d dissolve into gooey daydreams of kissing him or making him happy, only to come out of them scolding yourself for feeding your feelings. Your unreciprocated feelings. But there were dreams you couldn’t control and times where you’d indulged yourself more than usual. Even then, though, you always kept Sam’s emotions out of the way. You’d dream of getting home late from work—in the “normal” world you’d never share—and crawling into his arms, sleepy, or vice versa. You’d dream of going for long drives with him and snuggling with him in the Impala. But you were always the one who said those three scary words to him, while he simply existed as he always did. If you puppeteered Sam into saying it, then you were taking a machete to any notion that your fantasies could be real—and making Sam lie in order to please you.
What you hadn’t considered was what would happen if Sam did say I love you, and, even better: if he meant it.
Sam murmurs it as you’re admiring him in the dark. His eyes had fallen closed and his head had tilted back, receptive to your touch. You loved to touch his face; you warmed his lap, cupped his cheeks, stroked the smooth back of your hand against his temple, and pushed the hair from his forehead in the cool motel darkness. Every once in a while the headlights of a car would give you a glimpse at him, and each time Sam’s gaze would almost be too much.
You whisper it back, thankful for the boldness the dark gives you, and feel something blaze hot inside you when his mouth drags down your cheek to your jaw. They’re deep and punctuating kisses. You’re reminded again of the sinking acceptance you’d felt when Hermes’ shadow had fallen over you. For a second, you’d thought that was gonna be it. Sam would’ve never known the truth, and would’ve ended up in that warehouse instead, picking the glass out of unresponsive skin. And though you’d survived today… Tomorrow, a reaper would have a million opportunities to take what had only just been sown.
You bunched your hands in Sam’s shirt, sounding urgent. “...Let me show you how much.”
Sam hung there for a moment, weighing the silence between your bodies. Weighing the space between them, and how much of it left there was. “You want that?” He asked. Sam made it sound like you were asking to stick your hand in a shark tank. “You’re… you’re sure?”
Your hand on Sam’s cheek turned over, so you were stroking your softer knuckles against his skin. You nodded, realized he couldn’t see it, and pressed in to brush your noses together. Sam’s head tilted all the way back to meet yours when you prayed: “I’m sure. I… I waited a long time to be close to you, so… I’m not gonna waste a second more.”
A breath rasped out of him in understanding. Like everything else in your life, this could be taken from you. Sam’s fingers crept up the back of your shirt, sliding around for where the bandages began and ended. He confessed, “Me either.”
His kiss drew deeper, more lovesick, chasing each one to their full depth. Your hands shyly migrated to the buttons of his flannel and smoothed there. He nodded, flattening his hand to the small of your back, and after that you didn’t have to wonder once how Sam felt about you. It was outlined clearly for you in Sam’s handwriting. He showed it in the absorbing nature of each of his kisses; how he nosed every new inch of your skin, taking care to declothe you the right and patient way; how aware he was of your bruises and bites. When you’re clothesless, he runs both of his hands down your arms and just feels you in the dark. Sam gives you the same courtesy. When you help him out of his last layer, your hands smooth against his chest, his arms, his shoulders, his neck, but the contact still isn’t enough—you need to be closer. You drag him into another gapless embrace, and Sam is already there, eager to pull you in. His hands knead you with purpose. Your hips, your waist, your stomach, are squeezed until every part of you feels raw and achy and alive. She’s real, Sam’s body sighs. Another surging, dizzying kiss has you dragging your nails down his back, tasting every puckered scar and raised laceration from his shoulders to his obliques. He’s plush and warm and firm and right, a missing piece finally filled.
With his arms around you, you kiss him breathless and thumb open the button of his jeans. Your spine tingles in delight the second your fingers are hooked in his belt loops. The butterflies in your belly are birds by the time his jeans are past his hips, and when you’re on your knees in front of him, Sam’s calloused palms exploring your neck and your hair, the bruises and cuts on your back are just a memory.
“You don’t have to—” Sam starts.
The smile on your face is a bit too clever. “I know.” You frame his waist in your hands, pressing both thumbs into the divots of his hips. Sliding downward to find his boxers, you can feel his legs trembling at your touch, the skin there prickling as it’s exposed inch by inch. You press a lingering kiss to his waistband that makes Sam’s breath hitch in his throat. “Just helping you out of these,” you smile innocently, plucking the edge of his boxers. “I’ll have my fun with you like this when your brother isn’t coming back in an hour.”
“O-okay,” Sam agrees, and even in the dark you can tell he’s grinning.
When he’s nude, Sam finds your hand in the dark and brings you to stand with him. Again, you’re slotted into place in his arms, skin tacky with building sweat and cooled by the open window. His face and neck are blazing with a blush. You push the back of your hand against it, feeling him, all of him, in the honesty of the dark. His face lowers to yours, and again you’re met with the impression that the moment he kisses you, you’re his—curse and angels and demons and all.
You accept it with nothing but bliss.
He guides your knees back to the bed again, this time supporting your thighs as you lift yourself up. Your whole body reacts like before, surging into him and purring deep in your throat. You loop your arms around his shoulders in a claiming sort of way, and where your skin meets it sticks and melts together. Dragging you in around the middle, Sam hoisted you into his lap and moaned into your kiss; you slot right onto him, knees tight to his thighs and your chest pressed to his. You have the slightest advantage over him like this, your shadow falling on him. Sam’s eyes flutter shut and he sucks down breath after breath, his hair in his eyes, illuminated in slivers by the television. Something about it just makes you wetter. When you push further into him, there’s a glide between your bodies that makes Sam groan.
“Sh, sh, be careful of your back,” he warns. “Could you—could you hand me my wallet?”
You pat his chest, forehead pressed to his, and answer with a laugh instead: “I’ve got the pill?”
A shift goes through Sam’s entire body, radiating up from his lap. He shuffles his hips, lips parted, and you can feel his excitement pounding in his chest. “Atta girl,” he decides, smirking. “That’s good too.”
Flushed from head-to-toe with heat, you cup Sam’s neck and meet him kiss for kiss. During, you find him between you and tilt in your hips, finally asking the silent question. Sam’s fingers scramble across your thighs, your sides, and around your back. He hangs there, trying to pin down how real this is. This is really happening, his heaving chest says. She’s right here in front of me. A wet, passionate kiss balms his worries. He gives you the littlest nod. That's all it takes for Sam to be met with new, plush territory. You pant into each other’s mouths, fingers digging into flesh, hips dying to sink further in, hanging on the precipice, and when Sam’s certain that you’re ready, that this is really what you want, he presses your thighs down.
A desperate sigh seeps from his mouth to yours, like there's no better place to be in the world than inside you. Something needy and high slips from your lips. For a long time, all either of you can do is bask in it, in each other, breathing hard and shivering. Sam hugs you—genuinely hugs you—against him. There’s a thought somewhere in your mind that you should be nervous at all the lines you’re crossing here, but… Any day of the week you could rub your cheek into Sam’s shoulder like this. It’s a new song, but familiar notes dance all the way through it. The motel room is silent but for the barely-there hum of the TV and the crickets outside, so Sam’s heart under your ear booms. You soak in the familiar sound of it.
“I love you,” you tell him, and Sam hushes it back so fast your voices overlap, then again, “so much—so, so much—” as he starts to move.
Your whole lower half rolls with him, a boat on a wave. An urgent, keening yes squeals out of you the second Sam encourages you down again. It's more than good, than perfect, and entwined so closely like this, you can hear every thought and whim swirling around his mind—can read him better than you ever could before. You feel foolish. How much earlier could you have had this, if you hadn’t been so afraid? There were a million times in your life where you could’ve told Sam. Before the cage, when the apocalypse started, when Dean died and you were stranded with only each other. You latch onto him as you find your rhythm, a hand in his hair, nails in his shoulders, seared as close to him as you can be. Sam gasps your name; happy.
I have him now, you remind yourself. And I’m more than happy with that.