Summary: Just a morning in a diner
A/N: hey citrusjava! I'm sorry this is both short and late but I hope it's to your taste. I struggled with the 'epic love' but I tried to pick up on your prompts about details of life on the road and about shifting relationships. Also: you said no physical illness so I avoided sickness/fevers etc but there is some injury aftermath in this fic. If that doesn't work for you then let me know and I'll write something else. I don't want to give you something that's triggering!
It’s January 3rd but there’s still tinsel lining the windows of the grubby Colorado diner, and when Dean asks their waitress about the special she tells him, ‘Christmas ham’. Sam frowns, alarmed, draws a fingertip across his throat.
Dean’s eyes flash wicked when he sees Sam’s gesture, but only for a second. He nods his head sideways, acknowledging the point. “Bacon, eggs and pancakes, sweetheart,” he says. There’s half a question in his voice and Sam’s not sure for a second if Dean’s talking to him, opens his mouth to respond even, before Dean flicks his eyes upwards and smiles at the waitress like usual.
“Same for me,” says Sam, flustered.
Dean raises an eyebrow. “Yeah,” he says.
The cutlery in the can on the table is dirty, smudged, and Sam fishes it out, scrubs at it with his sleeve. When he looks up Dean is looking at him, green eyes intent. The tiny line of a frown creases his forehead.
Sam looks down at the fork he's holding, rubs his thumb over the stubbornest mark. Under the table, Dean's boot knocks his.
“Sam,” says Dean. Sam looks up and Dean's mouth is open, his expression almost anxious, when the waitress leans over his shoulder and clatters the plate down on the table. It's stacked high with pancakes, maybe seven or eight of them, curled strips of bacon knocking around the edges.
“There you go, sugar,” she says, and she's smiling down at Dean with that expression he's always somehow coaxing out of everybody, that eager desire to please. Sam's seen it a thousand times. He's felt it on his own features a thousand more.
Dean blinks up at her, smiles and Sam's guts twist sour. He jabs the fork into the table, tiny dents in the scratched Formica, then into the palm of his open hand. Four spots of white. He watches them turn pink as the blood flows back and then jumps as his own breakfast lands in front of him. Four pancakes, one misshapen and burnt, and he doesn't even want pancakes anyway, just said so because she caught him unawares. He pokes at them, breaks off a flabby piece of dough and spears it.
“You boys in town long?” says the waitress, and of course she's talking to Dean.
“Nah,” he says. “Just passing through.”
“That's a shame,” she says. She's lingering and Sam's not sure if that's better, that he doesn't have to make conversation through his thick black mood, but Dean's gaze flickers from her to Sam and he says eventually, “Any chance of some coffee?”
“Oh,” she says, wrong-footed. “Sure.”
Sam swallows the spongy pancake in his mouth. It clogs his throat, heavy, and he has to try three times before he gets it down.
“You okay?” says Dean. He's eaten maybe half of what's on his plate but has stopped, now, tap-tapping his knife against the table as he watches Sam chew.
Sam nods, and Dean's mouth twists sideways, uncertain. “You not speaking to me or something?”
Sam shakes his head, points at his mouth, chews faster. He swallows, tries to talk and coughs crumbs over the table. Fuck.
“Alright,” says Dean, amused now that he's no longer worried. “Don't kill yourself.”
“Fuck you,” says Sam finally, hoarse, and Dean's eyebrow quirks up and Sam's stomach flips over, but then the waitress of course is back, fatally ill-timed, pouring coffee and purring “Cream?” at Dean. Sam bites down hard on the inside of his lip, pokes at the sore place with his tongue.
A warm mug nudges against his knuckles. “Hey,” says Dean, and when Sam takes a sip and winces at the burn, “you bleeding?” There's a trace of red over the rim.
“Bit my lip,” Sam says.
“Fuck,” Dean says, “scared me. Thought it was, I dunno,” and he gestures with his hand towards the big blue bruise that's lurking under Sam's shirt, spread across his back and half over his ribs from where yesterday's ghost flung him hard against a tomb.
“Nah,” says Sam, but a thread of warmth uncurls in his stomach at Dean's concern.
“Can I,” Dean says, leaning towards him. Sam leans back, just a little. “Can I check it?” Dean says.
Sam frowns around the diner. It’s not busy but he doesn’t fancy stripping off in public. “Here?” he says.
Dean shifts back, abruptly, rubs a hand over his mouth. “Yeah, no. Sorry,” he says. He picks up the mug of coffee and drinks the whole thing, shivers as he puts it back down. He looks at Sam’s plate, nearly untouched. “You done?”
“Yeah,” says Sam, surprised, spun sideways by the shift in mood.
“Good,” says Dean shortly and scoots back on his chair, throws a few crumpled bills onto the table and makes strides for the exit. Sam blinks for a second at his retreating back. He slides out of the bench seat, butt sticking on the cracked vinyl, and hobbles after his brother.
“Hey,” he calls out, as he reaches the doorway. His side is throbbing and he leans into the feeling, bends forward with a hand protective over his ribs. “Dean, what the fuck?”
Dean’s halfway across the parking lot but he turns at the sound of Sam’s voice, tightens his lips and heads back, takes Sam’s elbow in his hand. Sam spreads his other hand out across the edge of the doorframe, uncurls upright, takes a painful breath. He takes another.
“I’m okay,” he says, and Dean lets go. He’s right by Sam’s side, still, hovering uncertainly.
“It’s okay,” Sam says. “I just. What the fuck?”
Dean looks away, across to where the Impala sits heavy on the frozen lot. “Come on, man,” he says. “You know. I don’t know what -” His voice is cracking.
“Hey,” says Sam, and Dean looks back at him. His eyes are brimming. Sam doesn’t remember the last time he saw Dean cry. “Hey,” he says again. He leans down, just the little distance between them, and kisses Dean. Coffee and maple syrup.
Dean’s hand flutters uncertainly over Sam’s injured side, brushes his sleeve and then settles firm over the back of his neck. The tip of his tongue flicks over the sore place on the inside of Sam’s lip and Sam goes dizzy with it, opens up, leans in. When Dean pulls back Sam chases his mouth, though he’s half breathless and his feet are slipping on the icy asphalt.
This is. Last night was the first time they did this (first time they kissed, but more too, racing past bases to a disbelieving home run) and Sam’s shit-scared but he also thinks he might like to do just this for the rest of his life. And um. He’s pretty sure that he said so, just now, babbling inadvertent in the giddy delight of Dean’s response.
A slow smile spreads over Dean’s face. “Okay, loverboy,” he says. “Nerd.” His hand brushes Sam’s and then his fingers curl around Sam’s pinkie, tug him purposeful toward the car.