Anywhere After Me

Warnings: Wincest, by request. Yes, I did. m/m sexual situations and whatnot in the key of a hard R depending on which way you tilt your head. If you're the least bit troubled by this, run. It's not smut but it is erotica and not everybody cares about the difference.
a/n: All I've really done is insert a possible AU 'hidden scene' into a complete rewrite of chapter 8 of If Belief Was Enough. If you haven't read Belief or the first tale, And Fools Shine On, it's not going to make as much sense, but it might still be...um...interesting. With as much well-written Wincest out there as there is, I had to run off the beaten path. So...for Maygra. For getting it.
~gekizetsu
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Sam had stood guard before, but only one other time had it been to wait to see whether Dean was going to be the same person when he awoke. Mercury and quicksilver and gunpowder, but fundamentally stable and recognizable all the same, no matter what he'd done or had done to him. One day it would be too much, something would go too far, and Sam feared that day more than he did most things. He'd already had two brushes with something else using Dean's eyes to look at him. He needed the third to not turn out to be a Dean so messed up that he wasn't salvageable.

He needed not to be the reason.

He'd had one brief moment of imagining a hollow shell following him aimlessly from place to place, smiling vacantly, looking like his brother but representing nothing more than a postscript. If he had locked Dean away that hard, it would be as bad or worse as the revenant's occupation and would warrant the same remedy, finally - a bullet. The best and last key out of wherever he'd been trapped.

I couldn't let you go on the way you were, I couldn't let you suffer.

Had he not tucked Dean away, the lack of boundaries and places to hide would have frayed him away right in front of Sam. Sam knew it without having to explain the mechanics.

His pupils had reacted when Sam lifted each eyelid. That was good; wherever Dean had gone, at least his body reacted to something. If he wanted to sleep for a week to make up for a week of wakefulness, Sam would let him, but he had to make sure sleep was all it was. He tried to remember the Glasgow coma scale but figured it was best if he didn't, since it applied to brain injury and not I think I sealed my brother up so far that he can't get out.

He had been imbued with a hell of a lot more than just a headful of Dean the night before. He'd thought he was getting an idea just from what Dean threw off, until trying to keep him from spinning out into a tapestry too thin to keep a pattern had given him the - ability, awareness, need? - to tread where he had no right to. If Dean remembered any of it, they would never be the same. Anything they'd ever been to each other had been given and granted and gifted, and later earned, but never taken. Dean would never have allowed anybody in that far. Even a bond Sam had been born to would only hold so long against Dean's capacity for self-imposed exile.

Still...there was a guilty thrill to having been so close. Diffusing a bomb that could have opened the world had not left Sam unscathed; he felt flashes of what it might have been like to wear Dean around the way the revenant had. Dean had spent his time creating his own myth of himself, painting himself into corners and locking down behind his ideals until the way out was as obscured as the way in.

Dean, his Dean, who didn't wake up, who didn't react to shaking or yelling, who didn't care about cold water, who couldn't hear Sam sob in panic.

There were things in this life worse than death and more intimate than sex. How the hell he'd managed both with his own brother in the same night, he didn't know and it didn't even phase him in ways it would have...when he'd been younger.

When pacing or keeping busy no longer held his worry in check, Sam leaned over the bed again to look for anything that seemed like a change. Dean's forehead was completely smooth for once, placid in a way he only managed when unconscious. Dean frowned to express nearly everything; it was one of his shields. Sam drew the pad of his thumb down the center of Dean's brow without realizing he was doing it, sliding onto the bed and waiting to have his hand slapped away. He braced his hands on either side of Dean's shoulders, hoping for a hint of eye motion beneath closed lids dark with exhaustion. No static, no suggestion of a sublevel hum he could read like a distant signal. Before, this close, it would have been everything and not enough, and a touch would have made him part of it, would have forced him to add his part of the harmony.

Now there was just silence.

Without asking himself why, Sam leaned in closer, listening, wondering if it made any difference anymore to close the circuit by making contact. It had worked so often before, when Dean was open and part of everything. It had been the only thing that had kept Sam together, had hidden Dean from whatever else had been inhabiting that one stretch of road. It was almost as if by trying to get them both at once, the revenant had stretched them into each other, not necessarily mingling them but causing tears in their fabric that could only be answered with the corresponding pieces left in place. Where Dean was torn, Sam was whole, and vice versa; if they matched up they were a single whole and blended into the world again.

Sliding a hand under the back of Dean's head, Sam leaned in and brought his face close alongside Dean's, his mouth close to his brother's ear, hoping something would click. There was nothing of the sudden change he'd come to expect, the feeling of being able to stop trying to defend himself from the loose ends, the relief of a clear head and something that had never been true silence, just an absence of the feedback of two signals crossing. When he slid the side of his face against Dean's, cradling his head in both hands and bracing his elbows against the bed, there was nothing but the rough warmth of unshaven skin and a hint of fear in the dark, the scent of something uniquely Dean, sun and wind from a day outside while Sam felt for edges the way he had the night before without meaning to. Desperation had answered him by letting him catch hold of everything he needed to, but it had since taken it away.

He stroked his thumbs along the fine hair cut around Dean's ears, lost again in the moments he'd spent immersed, unsure of what he'd seen, remembering that even a brain geared to the unusual couldn't necessarily comprehend what didn't come in even the most basic of patterns or present itself in ways a mere five senses could grasp. It wasn't images, or anything as simple or basic as emotion, just a sense of who and what and how it was to be what he'd only had the most rudimentary knowledge of. He thought he knew his brother and he'd never scratched the surface.

He didn't remember closing his eyes or resting his head on Dean's chest, one hand still cupping the back of his head. He had to let the panic drop away and stop thinking about it; it was a thing of feeling, not reason. As badly as he wanted a formula or some simple way of knowing exactly what set the tumblers in motion to reverse what he'd done, he could sense it wasn't going to be understood that way. He had held all of Dean in his hands and folded the corners back together, and those corners could be found again like muscle memory.

Like the skulls of infants, where the bones were left parted for a reason, for due expansion. They only sealed up once the necessary work was done, fragile but right.

Dean was so sealed up and always had been, but not like this; not trapped and wound into himself without breathing room. Sam knew as soon as he sank back in up to his elbows like he had before that it was his own doing this time, meaning well but doing wrong. The thin places were all that were left to try and see through, stained glass patterns of what might have been, and Sam didn't understand how he managed to whisper along them, asking, hoping. Dean was asleep inside and out and not inclined to wake now that there was no light trying to get in. Sam's awareness of the world had narrowed to fingertips seeking vindication, waiting for answers, asking for ingress.

He might have slept; he wasn't sure. It was easy enough to think he was sleeping, when he was concentrating that hard. It seemed like Dean stirred on the other side of the gulf, reaching for one of the thin places, like a palm placed against a window that matched up to Sam's exactly. He was unable to ignore Sam, finally, and Sam had counted on that.

Sam was suddenly gathering whatever he could, sweeping everything into arms that didn't exist to rest uneasy against his chest, just ideas and barely formed hopes and a sense of the familiar. He could recognize himself in the patterns around him but only because Dean already held parts of Sam that he'd been given, that had nearly been pressed into his hands over time because Sam gave and gave out of adoration and gratitude. He had always wanted Dean to see him and had tried so hard not to ask for anything in return.

There were never any words, just moments of personality straight from the source, and words would never make the same sense again. Clumsy and already changed from the form of the impulse that had started them, already distorted by the mechanism of making them audible, already tainted by second thoughts or hesitation or expression; everything where they were was pure and firsthand and left well enough alone. Dean wanted to be left alone to sleep and Sam's answer was a resounding no.

Rather than argue, Dean wondered if Sam was safe and Sam was able to tell him maybe just this once because safe was such a devastatingly relative term.

The parts of himself he'd left behind were his only way in, and when Dean reached across almost as an afterthought, Sam was overwhelmed with things he hadn't known but could never touch. A chase through woods he'd never seen, an attic that led upwards forever, a murder of crows, first kiss and first fire set, hiding under a car, lost and found and always waiting...then there was just Dean. Dean was all the things he'd done, and the ability to do them, and Sam had no way to deal with something that five senses couldn't process. Dean was the way the air smelled after the grass was cut for the first time in the spring, and he was rain on hot pavement, and a million other changes meaning something else was on the way; he was color that wasn't in the visible spectrum and the blade that kept splitting things in half even when it seemed the smallest component had been found. He was dreams of the dying and inertia and a flashpoint, all so damaged that they would never fit together again and he would never match up with Sam again the way they were maybe meant to in the greater scheme of things. It seemed that way to Sam but the larger idea was washed away in the smaller currents.

Sam only understood it all for one moment while he was able, before it overloaded the part of him that could see it.

It was like folding him up and nothing like folding him up and only the simplest glimpse. Still, this close, still locked up in so many ways, compartmentalized and ordered. Sam realized it was how Dean was made, and more than that, how he'd managed to stay Dean and still spend a life hunting things that were capable of twisting his thoughts against him. Maybe nothing got out but nothing ever got in either.

Not even love.

When Sam came back to himself by degrees, he had both hands under Dean's shirt and had pulled them both into facing each other on their sides, and that was nowhere near as weird as the fact that they'd just been inside each other in ways that made anything else seem remote and incomplete. When he opened his eyes, Dean was staring right at him from inches away, and that didn't mean the same thing anymore; that close but no closer, the connection a bare wisp of what could have been.

How could victory come with such a feeling of loss?

His hands against the smooth skin of Dean's back were warm for the first time in days, fear having kept them from it, and there was nothing uneasy about lying close enough to press hips and chests together or to breathe the same air. Nothing odd about Dean having hooked one leg over Sam's hip, nothing unwelcome about Dean's hands sliding up his arms to make sure he was real, to hang on.

Needing to know if he'd left all the lights on behind him and finding himself reduced to something as crude as speech, Sam said, "You with me?", and his voice was hoarse enough that he barely recognized it. He felt himself fighting off layers of a weary confusion that felt like paper thin lead, never reaching the surface or getting past enough of himself to get back where he'd been with Dean. Being alive and physical and awake was awkward and confining....

Dean blinked at him once, glassy-eyed and distant and not quite there until Sam did what seemed inexorable: he leaned in and pressed his mouth to Dean's. When Dean kissed back like he was breathing Sam in, it was a clear and stunning yes and the only way left to say there had to be a way to get closer than they were.

With you, part of you, everything.

Not even realization of where things had led stopped Sam; it didn't matter anymore, not gender or relation or design. Dean was brother to his soul as well as to his blood. Anything else was incidental and irrelevant. They transcended who they were and wound their way to what they were, to themselves and each other. There was no other way to express it. After everything else, there had to be a way to let it all go, to release it on the surface. It was such a relief to get there, to have a way to deal with what had drawn to the surface. He had never dreamt of this, of smoothing anything away from his brother's skin with mouth and hands. It wasn't something that had to be done. It wanted to be done. Dean clutching handfuls of the denim at Sam's hips and pulling him in tighter made it so.

They were all this, everything, fingers entwined against starched sheets, a warm spill of limbs that knew the wheres and hows. Beginning and ending were concepts left for the separate, for those who didn't know. They were still contained and apart, but the connection between stood solid and more permanent than it had been.

Dean rolled them both until he rested along Sam's form, a long stretch of warm muscle and acceptance. When Sam sat up with the kind of easy grace that was a greater display of power than anything else could be, Dean pushed up with him until he sat astride. Neither of them broke the kiss, stopping short of rushing only because they were able to devour each other faster this way, without angling and working at it. Easier to let it happen when orchestration was replaced with a newfound ability to let the pieces fall through their hands.

The physical was an inferior replacement for the euphoria of getting to the core of things, but at least there was this for now, sweet and rough, Sam's hands pressed into the small of Dean's back and arms wrapped around, moving, mouth open against Dean's throat while he tried to get enough air. Unable to wait long enough to get their clothing off, unable to stop touching, unable to get close enough to satisfy the need that ran through them. He was conscious that Dean's hands were in his hair but meant to be elsewhere as soon as he could get them to work. It meant temporarily letting go, and neither had the strength for it. There was nothing holding them apart, clothing as unimportant as skin, nothing keeping them from melding.

The idea alone was enough and almost too much outside the shifting of hips, the weight and warmth, and Dean tasted of salt and something more when Sam arched up into him. Whatever had been strung tight between them, wound around hearts and fingers for God knew how long, pulled tighter still and then slipped out of Sam's hands.

The gasp it tore out of Dean made Sam open his eyes on what could easily have been pain but hellishly more beautiful, brows drawn together, lips parted, caught in what was only an agony of pleasure that was wrenched free along with a prayer in the form of Sam's name.

A knifeblade of ecstasy gutted Sam free of himself, the world white and static behind his eyes while the moment dragged more than a physical response out of him. The visceral only hung along the edges and the rest poured out of and into all the things that made him who he was, nothing short of soul-joy. His blood would never run as thick and warm as an invited drowning in all he could reach of Dean, one long note holding forever that only he could hear. If there was an instant of connection there that almost mirrored his time inside then he could finally understand why people so desperately needed contact, any way to get this close for just the smallest moment.

He had to live loose of that one final safe place, insular and separate. For a moment it was intolerable, and then his own boundaries snapped back into place and reminded him it was best this way, as self. Anything else meant too many open sides.

Necessary loss is still loss.

They made an easy tangle of limbs and breath and intent, Dean holding on and Sam unable to stop touching. Foreheads pressed together in acknowledgment of something they'd never discuss but didn't have to, a single faith, two halves and one whole.

Maybe they slept for awhile; Sam wasn't sure, but he awoke with Dean sprawled against him. He was still but not as still as he had been, not held away. Sam's first warning that Dean was awake was the trailing of fingers along his ribs, and he closed his eyes again. If he didn't look Dean directly in the face when the latter lifted his head it was because the acceptance didn't exist if it wasn't acknowledged.

"Sin's already committed, Sam," Dean said, and Sam heard his own name with an inflection that had never been there before, something darker the way warm, safe places were dark. "There aren't degrees of it. Nobody has just a little nuclear war."

Sam tried not to laugh. This was nothing to take lightly. Ever. But it was already done. Dean was trying to tell him that and trying to let him know there was no taking it back and he wouldn't even if he could. Anything that came from Sam was not to be taken back.

"You'd come anywhere after me, wouldn't you," Dean said.

Sam opened his eyes and looked at him, really looked at him, but couldn't see him anymore, not as more than pixels assembled into color and shape by the rods and cones of his eyes. The question was rhetorical and sometimes Dean's very existence was too, and Sam felt compelled to answer to both to keep them real while he could.

"Yes."

It was yes to everything and Dean heard him well enough to lean in and kiss him again.

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