Pairing | Rating : Sam/Dean | NC 17 | 13,400 words; 7400 this part
Warnings: slight D/s | piss | Contains several pictures which, while completely work-safe, are not dial-up friendly.
Disclaimer: No profit being made, no copyright infringement intended. All characters property of Kripke, et al.
Summary: Dean has a year. Every other month, Sam helps him live it.
Notes: Written for spn_50states . Beta’d by the amazing ellipsisblack . She signed on for 7000 words. I sent her 15,000, and we are still speaking. Any remaining errors or excesses are only because she couldn’t talk me down. Additional author’s notes follow at the end of part two.
“It does.” Sam grinned; Dean was momentarily oblivious to the irony presented by the thirty pounds, four inches Sam had over him.
“Are we driving all three-thousand-plus, or are you going to tell me where we’re stopping along the way?” They’d just turned onto the trailhead of U.S. 50 at its Ocean City end, but Dean hadn’t told Sam what he’d found or where they were headed. Dean probably thought Sam didn’t know that U.S 50 went all the way to Sacramento. He wondered if Dean planned for them to end up there at the end of his remaining eight months. What Sam did know was that they’d just put a major dent in Albert Kincaid’s Visa at the local Cabela’s, while a companion-sized chunk was spent on groceries at Giant Eagle. “And why do we need camping gear? I hate camping.” Dean had gone all out...new tent and sleeping bags, cookware. He bought glow-sticks, flares, AND flashlights.
“Yeah, I know. Hard to get a good latte. Suck it up, Sammy. We’re headed to Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.”
“The drownings? You’re kidding me, right?”
“I so am not, little brother. Get some shuteye, I got the first leg.” Which meant that they were going back on an interstate at some point, and then it would be Sam’s turn to drive. Dean hated driving on the interstate, particularly when it went through or by cities and traffic got heavy and they were forcibly slowed. And if there was construction, and those concrete barriers were up? Dean was toast. Sam secretly thought Dean feared accidentally scraping the Impala’s paint off on one of them, though he’d never admit it. So he took the back roads whenever possible, and let Sam have the cities, and any construction. Sam burrowed down against the door, Dean’s jacket wadded to soak up the vibrations from the road, and waited for an on-ramp.
Eight and a half hours later Sam was wrapping up his shift, and jostled Dean awake in Fayetteville, West Virginia.
“Mmmpfh? We here? Directions good?”
“Yeah. Wow, man. You gotta see this.” Sam got out of the car and strode over to the railing, staring at the bridge and the gorge in front of them.
“Wow,” Dean echoed, and Sam smiled. It wasn’t easy to impress Dean Winchester.
“I already said that.”
“Yeah. Yeah, okay. We gotta find our outfit and get set up. Daylight’s going.” Despite Dean’s words, it was Sam who turned first from the rail, and he waited by the Impala while Dean watched the river below for a few more minutes before stepping back toward the car. September was waning, which meant Sam would be back to work –saving Dean- in another week. Better relax now, while he could.
They’d worked out a bargain, he and Dean, early on, after Sam spent the remainder of June, and all of July in libraries and musty magic shops they found in small print in telephone books. Dean finally lost it near the middle of August and demanded Sam stop for a break.
”I’m fine, Dean.”
“Really, you’re not.” Sam was drained nearly dry, but it didn’t matter. He had to save Dean. “And even if you are, I’m not.” That got Sam’s attention.
“Are you sick? Is she fucking with your head right now? Because that’s not part of the deal, you’re supposed to get a year, a real year...”
“Demon’s not fucking with my head, Sam. She doesn’t have to. You are.” Dean paused. The last words came out almost at a yell, and Sam watched him struggle to throttle back from that for the rest of what he had to say.
“I’m not getting you.”
“Listen. I’m not allowed to help you. I can’t go with you to the library. Hell, I’m terrified to even look in your direction when you’ve got the laptop open in the hotel room. I’m afraid if I forget and scan the screen and there’s some mumbo-jumbo about deal-breaking on there, she’s gonna call renege on me and take you back.”
“Dean, we’ve only got a year...not even that.” Sam tried to keep his voice soft, but it was so frustrating, because Dean was right, and Sam really was on his own.
“That’s my whole point. Less than a year, and you’re spending every minute of it locked away from me.” Sam stared, and Dean squirmed, shifting against the doorframe, clearly hating being driven to this conversation.
“It’ll be worth it, when I figure it out, and then we’ll have the rest of our lives...”
“What if you don’t?” Dean’s voice was soft, careful. “What if you don’t, Sammy, and we figure out after eleven months and twenty-nine days that we just wasted the last year we’ve got?” Sam bit his lip to keep it from wobbling. That- that couldn’t happen. Wouldn’t. “What are you gonna feel like then?”
“I- I’m sorry. I just...” Dean was there, suddenly, gathering him up. He buried his nose in Dean’s neck.
“I miss you Sammy. I just don’t want it to go down like this, okay? Lemme enjoy what I’ve got left.”
Sam remembered nodding, defeated and yet weirdly grateful to have some sort of twisted permission to take a break from saving Dean. He didn’t know how Dean had done this for Sam his whole life. It was exhausting.
In the end they’d agreed on every-other-month. Sam had already had the few bleak days from June and all of July and well into the third week of August. Dean called dibs on what remained of August, September, and every other month after that. A quick mental scan of the calendar meant that Dean would get the last full month. Sam had to give up early, if he still hadn’t figured it out, and spend all of May with Dean, doing nothing to stop his death. Then he’d have just part of June to figure it out before the end. But Dean stared him down, and Sam capitulated.
He missed Dean, too.
It wasn’t like no one did anything in “Dean’s” months. Sam made sure that Bobby and Ellen and Missouri had all his current info before the end of “Sam’s” months, so they could keep digging and not waste time going over stuff Sam already eliminated. Bobby had wholly approved of the plan when they’d told him. The first time Sam tried to cheat, back in the last days of August when he called Bobby to check on things, Bobby actually hung up on him. After that Sam just stuck with it.
A deal’s a deal, after all.
It wasn’t like they didn’t do anything in Dean’s months, either. They kicked around some, sure, rode some roller coasters and ate too much, but they still worked some cases –just not Dean’s. Which is how they’d ended up in a canyon in September in West-by-god-Virginia.
Sam shook himself back to the present and had his fingers on the driver’s side door handle for all of a half-second before he heard Dean crunching gravel behind him. “No way, bitch. My turn.” Sam snorted and got in anyway -just to hear Dean get indignant- before sliding across the bench to shotgun’s seat.
“You’re so predictable,” he mocked.
“Predictably able to kick your ass, Sammy-boy.”
“Whatever. Drive, moron. Let’s see you get us to the bottom of the canyon before it’s too dark to pitch a tent.”
They had to stop and build a fire and light the Colemans in order to finish setting up camp, but three hours later Sam and Dean were sharing a log with hot dogs burning on sticks. A bed that didn’t have the prior renter’s cigarette smoke and a meal made without a microwave equaled highly satisfactory in Sam’s book. Dean’s too, if his humming was anything to go by. He de-sticked his hot dog with his bun as a potholder, shoving another one on it and propping it up to cook while he slathered on relish and mustard.
“Hey. You don’t like...” Dean just rolled his eyes and handed Sam a hot dog the way he liked it, taking Sam’s stick and repeating the process with ketchup and mustard this time. “Awww. You really do care.” Dean’s muffled reply sounded a lot like “shut up, Sam” but Sam just smiled around his hot dog, swallowing and turning their sticks carefully. “What? You think giving me the first hot dog’s gonna get you laid?”
Dean barked a laugh, and washed down what had to be half a hot dog with a swig of Budweiser. “Nope. Figured the romantic firelight would be enough.” Sam snorted and dressed his own hot dog the second time around, leaving Dean’s for another minute. It wasn’t burnt enough for him yet. They could see the campfires of other hikers and would-be rafters, but –by design- they were more than a football field away from the closest one. “So. What’s the spook-scoop, Sammy?”
Holding up the universal “Just a sec while I finish this bite” index finger, Sam slid down from the log to rest on the ground, feet stretched to the fire. He squirmed, trying to find a spot where the fallen tree didn’t rub the scar at the base of his spine. Dean figured it out, of course. He always did. When he walked back over with his second hot dog in hand, Dean sat down on the log directly behind Sam, who sighed and leaned back into the cradle Dean’s shins made for him.
“Drownings. A couple every year. Can’t seem to pinpoint a pattern, and there’s nothing unusual about drowning in whitewater, so no one’s ever done much digging.” Sam and Dean had a case file, thick with potential, that both had read through. In it was a stack of weirdness, some more urgent than others, but Sam pretty much let Dean pick the cases these days, and never really knew where they were headed when Dean started the car. There wasn’t a lot of time left, and he figured Dean could spend it in the places he really wanted to before...until Sam found a way.
“Water sprite? Kelpie? Undine?” Counteracting any kindness in his gesture to make Sam more comfortable, Dean leaned forward, resting his bony elbow points on Sam’s shoulders, munching into his ear. Sam ignored him.
“I don’t know, man. None of it seems to fit anything we know. Could be spirit-based, instead of a water-creature, but the drownings are in both of the big rivers here, not just this one, so....” Sam shrugged, reaching for a second beer, and stretching back over his shoulder to hand one to Dean, who thumbed the cap off and dropped it in Sam’s lap.
“True. There’s enough tragic death history around here to choke a horse. Mine-bosses who were evil before they died, ghosts of S.O.L. BASE-jumpers, whitewater rafters who couldn’t swim...” Dean swallowed. “On the other hand, the New River is the second oldest river in the world. Who the hell knows what could be living in it? How are we gonna know where to start?” Sam tilted his head back, narrowing his eyes suspiciously and looking up at the underside of Dean’s jaw.
“Hah. You totally had this one pegged all along, didn’t you?”
“What?” Dean glanced down at him, grinning slow and syrupy. “Naw. Just stuck a pin in the map.”
“Yeah, sure you did.” Sam smiled up at Dean’s chin, indulgent.
“Maybe I wanted to do the rafting thing.” Dean’s voice was low, and had that almost-bashful softness to it he got when he was giving up a secret.
“Maybe you did. It’s cool.” Sam dropped his arms, looping them behind Dean’s calves and resting his hands on Dean’s ankles, his fingers picking at the laces to his brother’s boots.
“Don’t. Still gotta take a piss.” Dean stood, but slowly, so Sam could ease up and not be jarred against the log. “You gonna...?”
“Yeah, might as well.” They walked to the edge of the nearby woods and Sam unzipped, piss streaming at the base of a tree, thinking how glad he was that he wasn’t a girl. He shook off and looked up to find Dean watching him tuck away, Adam’s apple bobbing. “You need some help with that?” Sam asked. His voice was rough, and he felt a sudden heat lick up the insides of his thighs at the expression on Dean’s face. Dean shook himself out of his stare and grunted, breaking the gaze, but the hook was set. Sam moved, stopped behind Dean, feet on the outside of his. With his own tree in front of him, Dean had nowhere he could go.
“The fuck, Sam. Don’t need your help to piss,” Dean said, scowling.
Sam ignored him, closing his hands over Dean’s wrists and pulling them away. He finished lowering Dean’s zipper with one hand and the other clenched on Dean’s hip, stilling him.
“It’s not about whether you need help. It’s about whether I want to.” He fished Dean’s cock out of his boxers, careful to just hold it, even though it was hardening to Sam’s touch. “And I do. I want to help you piss.”
“F-fuck. Just jack me, okay? Jeezus, Sammy, why you always gotta make a production out of fucking...” Sam’s heart was trip-hammering; he hoped Dean’s was too, so he couldn’t hear. Sam pressed forward, grinding his denim-covered cock into Dean’s ass.
“No, no. Now don’t get hard. You can’t piss if you get too hard. And you don’t get off ‘til you piss for me. You see how this works, right?” He was whispering, lips moist and breathing the words right into Dean’s ear. The hand that wasn’t cradling Dean’s dick was stroking softly over the hairs on his lower belly. Sam really did want this- was surprised how much.
“Wha- why? God Sam, fucking nasty...” Dean trembled, fingers digging into the rough bark of the tree in front of them, fighting back an erection, but not fighting Sam. Not yet. Sam didn’t know what to say. He knew what the truth was –that he wanted every last thing to do with Dean Winchester before he left this earth, that he didn’t want to turn away from any possible intimacy- but he didn’t know how to tell that truth to Dean.
“I know. I know it is. Still want it, Dean. Please.” Sam asked, knowing Dean would eventually give. He half-hated himself for it; but, shit. Eight months. “I know you need to.” Sam pressed his palm against the tautness in Dean’s belly, a reminder that his bladder was full of beer. Dean’s groan made Sam harder. Hotter. “I could make you. Put my cock up your ass and push around inside until you don’t have room for me and piss both.” Dean’s whole body shuddered, and Sam pressed again, merciless.
“Ohmygod...Saaaammm...” Dean whined, a desperate sound, high in his throat, before bucking back into Sam’s hardness to get away from the pressure. Then he gasped and went slack. Sam felt the cock in his hand twitch, and he fumbled in surprise, wetting his hand before raising it a little and guiding the direction of the head with a slight press of his thumb pad. Dean was shaking, head fixed at the same angle Sam was pointing his cock, watching his own stream hit and make the trunk gleam wet in the moonlight. “Fuck. Oh god fuck...dirty, Sammy...s-so...” Sam braced himself at Dean’s back, Dean’s verbal collapse making Sam groan in response. He was already rutting at the crack of Dean’s ass, picturing himself on his knees staring at the last dangling gold droplet and then sucking Dean hard again.
“Yeah. Yeah, Dean, fuck. Want this. so bad...want everything...” Dean batted the hand Sam had on his bladder away. Sam didn’t know until that moment that he was still pushing, still compressing everything out of Dean, who grabbed the hand on his cock as well and turned on him, pushing Sam back but not zipping himself up.
“You want everything?”
“Do it, then. Know what you want. Go on.” Sam folded and dropped to his knees. His eyes closed as he opened his mouth, hands scrabbling at his own fly now, struggling to get at his cock. He felt a soft slap on his cheek, and when his head was jerked up he saw Dean holding his stiffening cock with one hand, felt the other tangled in Sam’s hair. A snail-track of slow liquid slid down his jaw, catching in his stubble and tickling his neck. He realized that last droplet was making its way down his body, Dean having smacked his cock against Sam’s face to get his attention. “You want this, you watch me, Sammy. You look at me the whole fucking time, you hear? Don’t get to hide.”
“N-no...not hid- “ but he didn’t get to finish, except to gag, because Dean’s fingers left his hair and dug into Sam’s cheek and he thrust into the hole he’d popped open. Sam’s pants were barely open –with fingers damp and slippery with Dean’s piss, he didn’t even get a full stroke in- and he was coming, moaning and whimpering as soon as the gag reflex relaxed, messing himself.
“Fuck, Sammy. Like it that much? Fucking nasty shit gets you off quick, yeah?” Dean’s smutty litany spewed, and Sam struggled to breathe. Dean fought to fuck himself right through Sam’s hard sucks and into the soft part of his throat. “Know what you want...want me to hold your head and fuck those pretty lips, dontcha?” Sam did want it. Exactly like Dean said, wanted taken and bruised and made use of any way Dean liked it. There were parts of him Dean hadn’t touched, things they hadn’t dared. Only so much time was left. “Maybe you want my piss somewhere else, Sammy? Huh? ‘Fraid to ask?”
Tears streamed, and still Sam shuffled closer, twigs on the forest floor snapping and biting into his knees as he wrapped his arms around the backs of Dean’s thighs. Wet sticky denim chafed at his half-hard cock, rising again at Dean’s rough voice and its filthy questions Sam didn’t want to answer. His neck ached; he was so close to Dean now that Dean had to bow himself back to be able to thrust forward. Sam’s neck bent with him, obscenely, like a baby bird with its mama’s beak looking wicked and hurtful with every life-giving plunge.
“Everything. You said everything, Sammy. So swallow. Swallow me and keep me with you, goddamn it.”
Sam choked on the flood, Dean’s fingers tightened around his jaw-joints, holding him there, swearing and ordering and finally begging Sam to keep sucking. Sam did, sucked and swallowed, drank him down, his own cock sputtering a little bit more in painful empathy. Dean finally pulled out, dropping to his knees beside Sam. The two of them leaned and gasped, shuddering and grasping each other to stay upright. They didn’t say anything during the stumbling walk back to their tent.
Sam woke to the smell of bacon, crawling out of the tent to meet Dean’s smirk. Sam was too tall to stoop through the doorway without hitting his head and tearing the tent pegs from their moorings.
“We can go home. I found Sasquatch.”
“Funny. Almost as much as the first time. Ten years ago.” Sam scratched his belly, checking the sky in an effort to gauge the time, but the unfamiliar mountains and shadows had him discombobulated. He had no idea where his watch was.
“Relax. It’s not even eight. Don’t have to meet the raft people ‘til eleven.”
“Cool. Is there coffee?” Clearly they weren’t going to talk about last night, not that Sam was surprised. Bacon, with a side of status quo. Still, it wasn’t as awkward as it might have been B.C.D. Before the crossroads demon, Dean would have over-compensated with flippancy, and Sam would have overanalyzed. These days, they tended not to waste as much time on that shit.
Dean pulled the old-fashioned percolator from the rack over the fire and poured a steaming cup into a thermal mug and passed it over. Sam stared down at it. Dean’s coffee tended to land somewhere between murky and squid-inky. He gave Sam shit for cream-and-sugaring it, but Sam claimed it was self defense. He knew he wouldn’t get any reprieve at the camp. The last week of September in West Virginia was definitely the beginning of autumn, but it still got hot during the days. They’d already decided not to risk any dairy in the coolers. “Uh, thanks.”
Dean waited ‘til Sam forced down a swallow, and then rose, laughing. “Oh, Sammy. The look on your face? Too priceless for a Mastercard.” He rooted around in one of the many bags, coming up with a plastic jar and tossing it over to Sam. Sam took the powdered french vanilla creamer and dumped about a quarter cup into his mug, stirring the lumps around in it with his middle finger and grinning.
“You love me.”
“Whatever. Just don’t want to listen to your whiny ass all day.”
“Love you too, Dean.”
“Eat your breakfast, already, punk.” Besides the bacon, Dean had something toasting in two of those little pocket-sandwich irons. They really only worked right with lots of butter and soft, white Wonder bread, which suited Dean just fine. Sam had no idea what Dean had stuffed them with.
“Let me guess. Grilled PB&J? Breakfast of Champions, right?”
Dean scowled, more at the toaster contraption than at Sam, holding it open and jiggling it to get the sandwich to fall out. He must have missed a spot with the butter. One triangle fell out, barely making it onto Sam’s plate, and the other still dangled. Sam laughed, reaching to tug it loose at the same time Dean wiggled it again, and the hot cast iron caught Sam on the tip of his pinky, searing it white with an audible sizzle in a half second. “Fuck!”
Just then the other sandwich section fell out and into the dirt, but Dean ignored it, dropping the iron and reaching for the finger Sam instinctively stuck in his mouth. “You okay? Shit, Sammy, I’m sorry. Lemme see.” Dean was pulling at his wrist, but Sam shrugged him off.
“Just a little burn. Had a dozen worse than this through the years standing over stinking graves.” Dean stepped over to one of the coolers, lifted the lid and came back with an ice cube in his hand.
“Here you go.” He held it out toward Sam, but Sam just looked at him, and raised his burned hand toward Dean. It was a risk, Sam knew. Could go either way. Dean stared at him, the cube dripping dark spheres into the dust around the fire as he hesitated, then finally exhaled in a huff. He straddled the log next to Sam and reached out toward him. “I gotcha.”
“I know you do.” Sam shifted closer, into the vee of Dean’s legs, and stifled a flinch as Dean found the blister with the ice. After a second Sam curled around a little more, pressing his face into Dean’s neck. Not kissing, just...closer. Dean leaned into him, resting his chin on Sam’s temple.
“Sure.” Sam’s answer was muffled against Dean’s jugular. “Not that bad, honest.”
“No...I mean...are we okay?” This was something new, this Dean, who would occasionally come at Sam sideways about feelings, instead of just talking about things. Sam raised his head and grinned, and felt his eyes crinkling at the relief on Dean’s face. “We?...are great. Not so sure about the haunted pie-thingy that you apparently decided to salt-n-burn.”
“What? Oh. Oh SHIT.” Dean leapt up, dragging the other pie iron –trailing a distinctly thick, black trail of smoke from its seams- out of the fire. “Sunofabitch. That’s my breakfast.”
“Was your breakfast,” Sam laughed, tugging Dean back down beside him. “Don’t worry. I’ll share.” He lifted the other half-sandwich out of the dust, holding it out to Dean with a grin.
“Asshole.” Dean analyzed it critically with narrowed eyes. He shrugged, pursed his lips and blew a stray ant off the corner before taking a gigantic Dean-bite, literally eating out of Sam’s hand.
“You seriously didn’t think I would, didja? Why do you still doubt me, Sammy?” Sam laughed. He felt his cheeks dimpling up the way they always did when he thought Dean was doing something both gross and somehow still endearing.
“I have no idea.”
Sam held up his hand, nudging Dean, who reluctantly lifted his as well. Dean was genetically incapable of admitting incompetence in anything. They were the only people out of the six who’d never rafted before. Two other couples, one engaged, and the other brother and sister, rounded out their raft.
“Okay. Not bad. No worries, boys and girls. The New River usually takes a shine to newbies, and you’ll probably only go under once or twice.” The guide, Rick, paused, teeth gleaming out from a deeply tanned face. His long hair was pulled back in a ponytail, gold and blowing in the warm breeze. He was tall, maybe Dean’s height, but more muscle-lanky and less stocky, probably between Dean and Sam in age. “Each.”
“You two come together? Know each other?” Rick was placing people in the raft, based on size and weight distribution.
“Yeah, we- ” Sam started to answer, to say that they were brothers, but Dean interrupted.
“We work together.”
Sam goggled at him for a second, but then nodded. “Yeah. For years.”
“Okay then, opposite each other, front spots.” Sam and Dean climbed into the bow, waiting for Rick to hop on the raft. He demonstrated how to dig their feet under and into the crannies of the air-filled rubber bolsters, and how to sit up straight and keep their abs tight so the river didn’t take them.
The pictures Sam had seen in the outfitter’s clubhouse had people in shorts, but Rick said they were all from earlier this season, when the water was warmer. Everyone in their raft took up the offer of borrowed, calf-length wetsuits. Rick said the water temp was only about 60 degrees.
“Betcha it’s colder than a witch’s tit when we get to the rapids, Sammy.” Dean grinned, blatantly checking out Sam’s ass in the rubber suit. Sam rolled his eyes, but didn’t answer. An unfortunate accident about seven years ago meant that Dean actually knew how cold a witch’s tit was. Who was Sam to argue?
Rick spent the next half-hour teaching them how to work in tandem, the left side of the raft back-paddling while the right side dug in deep and forward to turn the raft on a dime. All-forward, all-reverse. When he yelled at them to dig, dig deep with the paddles and push as much water with them as fast as they could, everyone got their paddles tangled and they all clacked together. But Rick kept them at it until they found a rhythm.
After the training was what Rick called the Prime Directive: “Hold onto your fucking paddle. Period. If you get dumped out, hold onto your paddle. It’ll help you stay afloat. If you are dumped and lose your paddle, and you are not actually drowning, swim toward your paddle. If you are actually drowning, rest assured I will give you mouth-to-mouth the moment I have retrieved your paddle.” The rafters all snickered, and Dean winked at Sam. They were both excellent swimmers.
“Seriously, folks. If you don’t have a paddle, you’re just dead weight in the raft- “ he looked directly at Sam, the biggest person in the raft by thirty pounds, “ and you no longer have a purpose in this boat. Meaning I no longer have any incentive to keep you in it.” He grinned and winked, and everybody twittered in response, but nobody seemed really sure if he was joking or not. Sam had a flashback to that moment in The Fellowship of the Ring, when Bilbo made his birthday speech and the assembled shire folk weren’t sure whether he means to be insulting or funny.
“Finally: if you see a loose paddle, you fish it out, even if it’s not ours. We’ll trade it for beer when we find the raft it belongs to.” A hearty cheer went up at that, and the lecture was over.
The first rapid –called Railroad Tracks or something- wasn’t much, just a little stretch of rough water that they just paddled forward to get through, but the semi-terrified yelp came not from the girl that weighed maybe ninety pounds soaking wet, but her brother, who had arms bigger than some of the saplings along the banks.
Dean stole a look at Sam, who tried not to look back, but Dean just wouldn’t let it go until Sam grinned and rolled his eyes in acknowledgment. Too bad for Dean; the guy was right behind him. Another one just like it was also uneventful, but when Rick said the next one was something called Swimmer’s Rapid, and they can jump out and ride the current underwater and pop out the other side, Sam though he might have to hold onto Dean’s lifejacket to keep him from leaping in right then. Rick grinned too, at Dean’s enthusiasm, meeting Sam’s eyes and laughing.
“All right then, everybody. Dean’s going first!” Sam wished it could be somebody else, so he could at least watch and see what happened before Dean actually did it. Especially when it became clear that Rick wouldn’t be demonstrating, but would just talk Dean through it. Rick had to stay in the raft, paddle stiff and ruddering them in place at the top of the rapid to keep the raft from going through. Dean held his oar out to Sam without even looking at him, turned to face the rear of the raft, already rapt and nodding at Rick’s instructions: “Take a deep breath. Go feet first, lead with your heels. Keep your legs together, arms across your chest. Stay a little upright if you can; pretend you’re in a recliner.”
Sam sorta hated the helmets they were wearing. Dean’s shielded his face from Sam and he couldn’t get a bead on what his brother was thinking. In another moment, Dean was clapping him on the shoulder and swinging a leg over the side of the raft.
“See ya on the other side, Sammy!” he said, and with a whoop, he was gone.
Sam knew the fear was irrational. Despite the two-page, Times New Roman, 8-pt. font waiver they all signed, the raft companies wouldn’t let them do this if it wasn’t relatively safe. On the other hand, Winchesters in general didn’t seem to be in possession of your standard size serving of good luck. Sam was only terrified for a few seconds, though, because it seemed like as soon as Dean’s yellow helmet went under he was popping out the other side, still feet-first and upright like the model student. He pumped a fist in the air, splashing, and yelled his enthusiasm from about thirty yards downriver. Suddenly everyone was clamoring for the next turn. One by one, they all shot through the rapid, ending up bobbing like little orange corks in the calm flats on the other side. Sam waited to go last before taking a deep breath and clambering over the side.
“Bout time, Little Sam,” Rick drawled. “My bicep’s cramping with the effort it takes to hold an entire side of beef back from the current.”
Sam laughed and let go with one hand, intending to flip Rick off with it, but his other slipped at the same time, and he was sluicing through the underwater chute before he intended. It was only seven seconds underwater, Rick had told them, but when you didn’t get a good breath in it seemed like a hell of a lot longer. Dean was waiting for him on the other side, green eyes laughing. The sun made the droplets clinging to his lashes shimmer. Sam thought he was gorgeous.
“What happened to feet first, Sammy? Sheesh, man. You’re embarrassing me.” Sam sputtered, throwing up an arm in an apologetic “Yes, I’m a doofus” wave to the others floating nearby, who waved and cheered him. He laughed too, and coughed as Dean beat him between the shoulder blades
“Dude. That was awesome.”
“It totally was.” Rick and the raft arrived a moment later, the big rubber boat gliding down the surface of the sneaky current, like a snowshoe for water.
“All right, kids. Do me a favor and get a drink, then you can relax and take your helmets off, swim for a while if you wanna.” Opening the cooler strapped down in the middle of the raft, Rick pulled out a few mini-sized bottles of water, waving them around and tossing them at the floating passengers. Sam and Dean shared one, then took off their helmets and tossed them into the raft with everyone else’s.
Sam looked at Dean, shrugging. They hadn’t seen anything that looked suspicious so far and Sam was beginning to wonder what they were doing here. Dean ignored him and ,flipped to his back, arms and legs splayed outward. Sam watched him for a minute, the lifejacket making it easy to tread water, before he realized Dean’s left arm was in a slight eddy. Eyes closed, Dean was spinning slowly on his back, starfishy and oblivious. Sam smiled, thinking Dean’s freckles were mass-producing as he floated there, face turned up to the sun. Sam flopped backward beside him, stretching out a hand toward Dean. When their fingers touched he felt Dean’s tighten for a second, like a spider’s legs, then open back up, tangling themselves with Sam’s. The rested like that for a while, Sam orbiting Dean as the eddy spun them both.
They “lost” their first passenger a few rapids later, in something called the Double Z.
“You two,” Rick had instructed Sam and Dean, “are going to be the pivot point. You’re going to stiff-arm your paddles straight down and hold us back when I call pivot. You gotta really hold it. The rest of you are going to go hard left and then back again, hard right, when I call. If we do it right, it’ll send us through that zig-zag between the rocks, going sideways.”
“What if we don’t go sideways?” That was Ben, the guy half of the other guy-girl pair in the boat.
“If we don’t go through sideways, either the bow or the stern is going to dip, get caught by the waves, and somebody’s going in the drink. Possibly all of us.” Dean’s grin was a mile wide, and Sam could almost smell the adrenaline coming off him.
“Ready, boys?” Rick said, grinning at them.
Sam and Dean nodded.
They made it through the first “zig”, but when the response of the rest of the crew on the “zag” part was sluggish, the stern got caught. Just like Rick said, the bow flicked up sharply and practically ejected Sheila –the tiny girl behind Sam- as neatly as if she were spring-loaded. He saw her going, and actually caught her arm midair, but had to let go or almost certainly dislocate her shoulder. Rick was screaming at them to “Dig forward, dig forward, dig goddammit!” and finally they leveled out, pulling the stern back up and shooting through the rocks, ass end first.
As soon as they were clear Rick called “Brake! Brake!” and everyone put paddles in, flat side against the current fighting to flush them downstream. Sheila was there, clinging to the side of a house-sized rock, turbulent foam almost obscuring her. When Rick called to her she waved, big smile flashing. She still had her paddle, and she gave it a pump to make sure they knew.
“Good girl!” Rick yelled.
Dean whistled and they all cheered.
“Little Sam!” Sam jerked, not expecting to be singled out, and turned his head, fighting to keep his paddle in position. “Lay down on your belly, pull your paddle in.” Dean shifted next to him, giving Sam room to tuck his feet in new places and grunting with the effort to hold the bow by himself. “Sheila! You’re gonna have to let go, now. Jump as hard as you can, right to Sam. Swim hard as you can? You hear me?” Sheila, for her part, didn’t look too distressed, she nodded and gave a thumbs up and waited. “Sam, use those long arms now, got it?”
Sheila jumped and swam like a champion, tiny body buffeted by the rushing water. Sam stretched out as far as he could, extending his paddle. She latched on and he dragged her in, crosswise against the current. The hardest part was making sure he didn’t get clipped by his ‘n hers paddles when he hauled her in. Rick called for them to release, and the raft bounced out of the rapid completely and into the pool after it. It wasn’t until they were both upright and panting –her from exertion, he from adrenaline- that Sam realized Dean’s fingers were clutching the strap on his lifejacket. “Good job, Sammy.” Everyone else was congratulating Sheila, but Dean was grinning at him, proud and proprietary. Sam felt like he was six years old again, with a bit part in the school play and a big brother who treated him like the headliner. Sam smiled, big with the feeling of Dean’s approval.
The whole raft dumped at The Hook, shoved right up against a rock that acted like a ramp and flipped them, neat as could be. Sam and Dean, still in the bow, had the toughest struggle, fighting their way out from under the raft to bob up. They both lost their paddles, but all in all, it seemed like an ideal place to dump. The current carried them all, including paddles, straight downstream, where Rick was himself already collecting lost oars and climbing back into the raft, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
“Dude, that wasn’t right.” Dean had his hand in Sam’s lifejacket –again- tugging him backward. Sam churned his legs a little, propelling them back far enough so they could talk while the others splashed playfully and slowly loaded up. Everyone was laughing, and talking about their individual mini-terrors as the raft had upturned.
“You think he flipped us?”
“I know he did. He’s the rudder, right? He just kept calling all ahead, and we drove ourselves right up on the rock. It was like cattle off a cliff, man.”
“You think he’s possessed?” Sam asked.
“Could be,” Dean shrugged, water rippling around his shoulder. “Or maybe not human.”
“I don’t know, Dean. It seems like a pretty safe place to dump us out.” Sam paused, eyes softening. “Are you sure there’s even a case here? I mean, if you just wanted to do some rafting, I’d have been fine with that. You didn’t have to...”
“Yes, there’s a case here,” Dean retorted. “And yes, I really wanted to try the rafting.” Sam could tell Dean was trying to keep the defensiveness out of his voice, and smiled. “But there’s still a case, okay?”
Sam held up his hands in surrender, grinning. “Okay, okay. There’s a case.”
Dean rolled his eyes. “So. Picnic’s at the end, right?” Sam nodded, huffing his wet bangs off his forehead. “We need to doctor whatever he’s drinking. You still got the flask?”
“Yeah.” Sam patted the small pack –ostensibly for power bars and lip balm- strapped around his waist to make sure.
“Okay. I’ll distract him, and you dose him up with holy H2O and we’ll see what happens.”
“Might be a little tough to explain to the others how their guide spontaneously combusted in the middle of a bologna sandwich.”
“Allergy to shellfish. Whatever. C’mon.” Dean started to tug him back toward the raft, but Sam stalled, resisting.
“Hang on. Rick’s looking at us. If he is evil, he’s going to get suspicious of our little powwow here.”
“What? Man, who cares? We can’t do anything about it anyway...” But Sam leaned in closer, whispering.
“Sure we can.” He slid a leg between Dean’s two underwater, and twined his fingers in Dean’s chin strap.
“Aw, geez Sam...” It was half-hearted, and Sam laughed.
“You’re the one who made sure we weren’t brothers to everybody. Isn’t this why?” Sam nuzzled, lips teasing at Dean’s.
“Just shut up and kiss me if you’re gonna. Don’t make it any mushier than it is.”
Sam licked his way into Dean’s mouth, tasting the earthy, mineral river and a Snickers Dean’d eaten earlier on a flat stretch.
“Fuck mushy,” Sam rumbled the words right onto Dean’s tongue. Dean gasped as Sam palmed him underwater, his arm spasming in surprise and making a little splash, like a fish plopping momentarily on the surface of a lake. The slick neoprene let Sam’s hand slide quick and dirty up and down Dean’s bulge. Dean’s hands tightened on Sam’s waist, and he groaned into Sam’s mouth as Sam pressed harder, cupping and rubbing. Feeling Dean swell and harden under the suit was hot. Really, really hot.
“Take it to your tent, boys, we’re on a schedule here!” Rick jeered, and the others catcalled, but it sounded good-natured to Sam’s ears.
He broke the kiss with a laugh and one last squeeze of Dean’s cock before pushing off and swimming toward the raft.
They navigated the rest of the rapids with a little more skill, getting better at working together as the afternoon went on. They lost Ben and the other girl, Tammy, on the last one, called Thread the Needle, and Dean and Sam fought to control the raft through the rest of the rocks, down two people. Rick bellowed instructions through the crash of the whitewater, and Sam watched Dean’s biceps bulge with the effort to comply, his own burning in sympathy. At one point the raft heaved up on its side –Dean’s side- and hung there, suspended, and Sam thought they were going to capsize after all.
Just like in the movies, time slowed, and he could hear Rick’s shouted instructions –all Charlie-Brown’s teacher-sounding- in one ear, and somehow Dean’s single, gut-deep grunt in the other. It was all on Dean now, and the five of them knew it. Strung taut as a bow, body arcing backward with the effort to hold all of them in place, Dean was beautiful. Sam was working to put all of his two-hundred-plus pounds against the far side of the raft, trying to counterbalance, but he couldn’t look away. When the raft slammed back to the water’s turbulent surface Sam almost bounced out himself, still staring at Dean. Ben and Tammy had tumbled like rag dolls through the massive hydraulic, but they were both waiting for them when the raft cleared it. Tammy had her paddle, Ben was only sporting a bloody nose. The women were 2-for-2, and the men 0-for-3 at holding onto the oars. Rick laughed and shook his head, wet ponytail flicking out over his shoulder.
“Y’all make me ashamed of my gender.”
Dean was still huffing, and had unashamedly pulled his paddle to his lap while the others slowly stroked the raft through the last flat stretch, toward shore. No one gave him any shit. It made Sam wonder what the others saw when they watched Dean fight the river for them.
“You were awesome back there.” Sam didn’t bother to disguise the big brother admiration in his voice. He figured Dean was too tired to brush it off. He could see Dean’s hands trembling -the by-product of adrenaline-dump and sheer muscle exhaustion- where they loosely circled the grip of the paddle on his lap. Sam was still too in awe to taunt him about it. Apparently Dean was too tired to boast about it either.
“Yeah. That...was unreal.” Unreal didn’t seem like the right word. Saving people. The family business. When had life ever been more real than that for Dean? When he turned a little to face Sam, the contented smile on his face made Sam want to cry.
end part one
Part two is here: http://community.livejournal.com/spn_50states/26587.html#cutid1