According to Sam, their first kiss hadn't really been a kiss at all. Dean disagreed, of course--"It's called the kiss of life for a reason, dude"--to which Sam always replied:
"Yeah, and part of what it means is that one of us wasn't even conscious at the time."
"Hell of a way to wake up, though, you gotta admit," Dean would say, at which point Sam would fall silent.
He never could tell if Dean's attitude was pure bravado or if it was for real, but it was hard for Sam to joke about that day as though he couldn't remember diving into the lake after Dean, having to swim past him--though his brother was right there and fucking drowning--to wrestle the bridle off the kelpie and replace it with one of the ropes they kept in the trunk, and only then being able to haul Dean out of the water and try to breathe air into his still lungs.
Dean's lips had been cold and wet, and some hysterical part of Sam's mind recalled the texture of sushi even as he counted and exhaled, counted and exhaled. It felt as though the only thing keeping him sane was the steady pulse of Dean's heartbeat against his fingertips, because his brother wasn't breathing, and then Dean choked and coughed warm lake water into Sam's mouth. Sam gasped for breath as though he'd been the one without oxygen, shaking with adrenaline and emotion.
"You got the thing?" Dean rasped, eyes fluttering open to peer up at Sam.
"Yeah," Sam said, his voice almost as hoarse as Dean's.
"Good man," Dean said, and his eyes slid shut as he slipped back into unconsciousness.
Sam had shuddered with relief, still clutching Dean's arms, and then he picked Dean up and wrestled him into the car.
When Dad brought Mom and Sammy back from the hospital, the two of them went down for naps right away. Well, Mom did, at least; Sam had already been asleep in his carseat when Dad carried him inside.
"You want to play a game, Deano?" Dad asked, and Dean almost shouted "Yeah" before he remembered and nodded really hard instead.
"Can we play checkers?" he whispered.
"Sure," Dad said, laughing a little. "But you don't have to whisper, Dean. Babies wake up and fall back asleep all the time. It's okay if Sammy gets up from his nap."
"What if he starts crying, though?" Dean asked. "And then we can't finish our game?"
"Well, then I'll show you how to give Sammy his bottle, and we can finish the game when Mom wakes up and she can watch Sammy for us."
"Okay," Dean agreed, and he got out the checkerboard while Dad poured them both glasses of apple juice and put Sammy's carseat on the floor next to the coffeetable.
As much as Dean wanted to play checkers, he also kind of wanted Sammy to get up so that he could learn how to feed him. Still, Dad saying that it was okay if Sammy woke up was not the same as Dad saying it was all right to wake Sammy up on purpose. Dean didn't whisper anymore, but he tried not to make too much noise.
And then, when almost half the checkerpieces were gone, he looked over at the carseat and saw Sammy staring back at him. "Hey, Dad, Sammy's awake!" Dean said. Sammy waved his hands a little, his fingers curled into fists, and Dean laughed. "Do you think he's hungry now?"
"I don't know," Dad said. "Do you want to find out?"
"Okay, let's go into the kitchen, then." Dad picked up the carseat by the handle and they went to the kitchen, where he put Sammy down on the table and got a bib on him. "I'm going to heat up the bottle for him now. Whenever you feed Sammy, you're going to have to let Mom or me do this part, all right?"
"Okay," Dean said.
He watched Sammy while Dad put the bottle in the microwave and took it back out and shook it a lot--"We have to make sure that there aren't any hot spots in the bottle that might burn Sammy's tongue, Dean"--and then Dad showed him how to tilt the bottle while Sammy was drinking so that he wouldn't swallow any airbubbles.
"He's really hungry," Dean said, watching Sammy suck sloppily and drool milk down his chin.
"Looks like that, doesn't it?" Dad agreed.
After Sammy was full, Dad helped Dean wipe Sammy's face and neck with the bib, and then Dad burped Sammy.
("When can I do that?" Dean asked.
"Maybe when Sammy can hold his head up by himself," Dad said. "We'll have to ask Mom.")
"You want to finish up our game?" Dad asked.
"Sure," Dean said. Dad put Sammy back into the carseat, and when Dean reached out to touch the back of his hand, Sammy grabbed his finger. "Hey, look!" Dean said.
"He knows you're his older brother," Dad said.
Dean grinned. "Dad?"
"Do we still have to be careful about germs?" In the hospital, the nurse had made him wash his hands every time he even went into the room with Sammy and his mom.
"Well...if any of us gets sick, we'll have to be really careful not to infect Sammy, and you should always wash your hands if you've been playing outside, but otherwise I think we should be okay."
"Okay," Dean said, and leaned over to kiss his baby brother on the cheek.
Sammy waved his hands again, one of them still wrapped around Dean's finger, and Dean laughed.
"I don't need to be in a hospital, dude," Dean said, scowling at Sam from a pile of fluffy white pillows.
"Dean, you stopped breathing."
"I got better."
Sam took a deep breath, reminded himself that it would be counterproductive to kill his brother after hauling his ass to the hospital in the first place, and let it out slowly. "I just wanted to make sure you were all right. The doctors said you could leave tomorrow for sure."
"Yeah, well, I could leave today if some people weren't being overly cautious, smothering--"
"Dammit, Dean! You stopped breathing! I realize that that might not mean much to you, but those of us who don't include adrenaline among our recreational drugs of choice tend to get a little freaked out by things like that. So why don't you just--"
"Hey," Dean interrupted gently, and Sam stopped ranting. "Hey. Come here, okay?"
Sam stepped closer, not exactly willing, but not about to refuse Dean, either. "What?" he snapped.
"I never thanked you for saving my life," Dean said, his voice serious.
Sam rolled his eyes. "It's not a big deal. You'd do the same for me."
"In a heartbeat," Dean said. "But that doesn't mean it's not a big deal. Now get your ass over here."
"Yeah, okay," Sam said, both conceding Dean's point and giving ground, and he sat on the edge of the hospital bed.
"Sorry I was being a dick. I'm just bored out of my skull, is all, and hanging around here for another night isn't exactly my idea of a fun time."
"Apology accepted," Sam said.
"I know I don't mention it a lot, but I'm glad you've got my back, dude."
Sam swallowed around the lump in his throat. "Yeah. Me, too."
Dean was breathing next to him--his arm brushed lightly against Sam's with each inhale and exhale--and Sam couldn't imagine ever taking anything that wonderful for granted again. Impulsively, he turned to kiss Dean on the cheek, only Dean turned as well, and their lips brushed for an instant before they both pulled away.
Sam blushed hotly, staring down at his lap, and Dean cleared his throat. "Well, that was awkward."
"Dean, I'm sorry--" Sam began, but Dean interrupted him:
"Hey, no apologies. Just go scrounge up a game of Uno, or something, and we're even. Okay?"
"Yeah, okay," Sam said, relieved.
He was almost out the door when Dean added, "I gotta say, though, you're not a bad kisser," and Sam left quickly before he could give into the urge to punch him.
The night before Sammy left for Stanford, Dean almost did a lot of things. He thought about hitting the bars and letting himself slide into the sweet embrace of liquor and finding some nice, female company. If some of them were opting for adolescent rebellion--and some of those girls most definitely were--then at least they were choosing to do so in a way that made sense.
Then he thought about hitting Sam, which sounded like a fantastic idea for a minute, but they'd been beating each other up about Sam's decision and Dad and Dean's responses to it enough already; there wasn't really a need to add physical violence to the mix.
He even thought about going up to his room and just hanging out there for the rest of the evening, and then he could wake up the next morning and Sam would already be gone, without the need for another big scene.
But Dean Winchester wasn't a coward, which was how he ended up leaning against the doorframe to his brother's room, watching Sam haul suitcases out of the closet and wishing he'd gone with Door Number Three, because this was going to fucking kill him.
He cleared his throat. "You done packing?" he asked, and Sam whirled around to look at him warily. Dean put on his best interested face, and Sam slowly relaxed.
"Yeah, pretty much."
Dean nodded. "You need a ride to the bus station tomorrow?"
"That's okay. Aaron Beckman's picking me up...he's going to Stanford, too," Sam added hastily. "We're catching the bus together."
"That's cool," Dean said. "Give you someone to talk to on the way there." Even though he knew for a fact that Aaron Beckman was interested in exactly two things--computer programming and Dungeons and Dragons--and even at his geekiest Sam wasn't that bad.
"Yeah," Sam said.
They stared at each other for a long minute, too many words and no way of speaking them.
"Fucking call sometimes, okay?" Dean said finally, and Sam said:
"Yeah," and "Dean," like it hurt his throat to get the words out.
"You little shit," Dean accused, pulling Sammy into a hug, complete with manly thumps on his back whose effect Dean totally ruined by turning his head to kiss his brother on the cheek.
And God bless Sammy, he didn't say a word, just kept clutching Dean almost as tightly as Dean was hanging onto him. Dean's eyes prickled, and he gave Sam one last squeeze before letting go.
"Watch your back," he said.
"You, too," Sam said, his face long and solemn, and Dean got out of there fast before he could embarrass himself further.
According to Sam, their first real kiss was in the hotel room after Dean was released from the hospital. Dean had snapped at him anytime he'd thought Sam was being overly solicitous, and Sam had restrained himself from smacking Dean upside the head, and it was almost as if Sam had never tried to give his brother a glad-you're-not-dead kiss on the cheek and fallen on his lips instead.
"I've got dibs on the first shower," Dean said the second they walked through the door, and Sam heard himself say:
"So we're never going to talk about it?"
"Talk about what?" Dean asked, turning to look at him, his forehead creasing slightly before it cleared again. "Oh, you mean that thing in the hospital? It didn't mean anything. Just forget about it."
"I can't forget about it. I mean..."
Dean's face turned suddenly wary. "Hey, Sam, it's no big deal, okay? Do you want...I mean, you can have the first shower, if you like."
Sam rolled his eyes and sat on the bed. "I don't care about the fucking shower. Knock yourself out. It's just..."
"What?" Dean said, sitting next to him. "It's just what? Because I gotta tell you, as far as I'm concerned, nothing's changed between us."
"Yeah, well, maybe that's the problem," Sam muttered, and when Dean crinkled his forehead at him again, Sam leaned forward and kissed him.
Their mouths slid together, slick and warm, and Sam traced the line of Dean's lips with his tongue, feeling Dean's gasp against his mouth.
"Fuck," Dean muttered when Sam pulled away to look at him.
"Yeah," Sam said, holding his breath.
"Fuck," Dean said again, and put his hand at the nape of Sam's neck and pulled him in for another kiss.
Sam was so hard it hurt, and he couldn't even shift position to try to relieve his aching cock. He felt caught, held motionless by Dean's thumb tracing the curve of his jaw and Dean's tongue in his mouth.
And then Dean pushed him onto his back, following him down to lie on the bed. Their legs tangled together, and Dean's heavy body blanketed his own. Dean leaned down to mouth Sam's neck. He bit the exposed skin with carefully covered teeth, and Sam tilted his head to the side. Slowly, Dean trailed his hand down Sam's chest, pausing a moment at his belt before sliding lower to rub him through his jeans, and Sam let his legs fall open, offered himself up to Dean, because...yeah. Oh, fuck, yeah.