Hth (hth_the_first) wrote,
Hth
hth_the_first

New Fic: Charm City (SPN/H:LOTS)

I know, you didn't see this coming, did you? Neither did I.

Charm City
by Hth
7,630 words
Supernatural/Homicide: Life on the Streets
A for adult, slash, no incest (I love a fandom where you have to specify that)
a/n: You know that thing I do sometimes where I get characters from different universes to have sex and talk about how much they have in common? I did that thing.

There being more SPN fans in the world than HLOTS fans (tragic but true), I've gone to greater effort to make the story accessible to non-Homicide viewers. Let me know how I did. In case anyone needs a circa 2007 mental image of Tim Bayliss, the actor has recently been on Veronica Mars (as Jake Kane) and Commander in Chief (as Geena Davis's husband). Sam and Dean look exactly like you think they do.



Charm City
by Hth

He must be staying at the Ridgemont across the street, because he comes in for breakfast one day out of nowhere, and then the next morning and the next morning. He drinks a pot of coffee and smokes one cigarette and orders fried eggs and American cheese on whole wheat toast and he tips – nothing special, not a huge tip, but fair enough, considering he doesn’t ask for much. He reads the Sun, sports section first, then the front, then Maryland and finally Living, finishing up with the comics, and he folds the paper and leaves it on his chair for someone else, and then he goes away quietly.

Sam wants him as much as he’s ever wanted anyone in his life, and it’s only been three days. It’s the first nice thing that’s happened to him in Baltimore.

“Who, him?” Dean says, much too loudly, when he stops in to pay for one cheese danish and eat three.

“Shut up,” Sam says, keeping his face arranged in thank-you-have-a-nice-day. “Shut up now.”

Dean shrugs and rubs absently at the scars on his neck. “You could do better,” he says.

“I have to listen to advice from you on men, now, too?”

Dean shrugs again. He probably wouldn’t do that so much if he realized how it gives away the game, shows how he still can’t move his right shoulder as much as his left one. Dean thinks he’s good to go; Sam isn’t in love with Baltimore himself, but Dean’s not okay yet and none of their usual face-saving lies can change that. This one time, Sam has put his foot down and is keeping it there. They go nowhere until Dean is at least 80%. “Well, I’m not an expert,” Dean smirks at him, “but I would’ve figured you for – you know, that you’d go for the pretty ones. You like pretty girls.”

“He’s pretty,” Sam says half-heartedly. Pretty is the wrong word. The right one isn’t coming to mind.

“Dude,” Dean says, “he’s like Dad’s age. I’m just saying, you shouldn’t go too bargain-bin, you know? It’s Baltimore, but still, you’re a good-looking guy; you can buy retail. Hey, you’re a Winchester, right?”

“I don’t know why I tell you anything,” Sam says.

“Yeah, me either,” Dean says, and cadges a raisin oatmeal cookie, the toes of his boots thumping cheerfully against the counter.

*

Sam likes pretty just fine, but he can’t stop thinking about Mr. Coffee and One Cigarette. Maybe it’s because he’s just so damn big, and Sam doesn’t meet that many people who are bigger than he is. But this guy tops him in height by an inch or so, and it’s not bony height, either – he’s solid, big hands, strong, blunt features, a wide mouth that wild horses – that wild demonic horses couldn’t make Sam spell out the appeal of to his brother.

So he’s big, with that awkward, slumped way of holding himself like he’s vaguely ashamed of it that’s all too familiar to Sam; he gets little flashbacks of Jess, poking him and smacking his stomach and threatening to make him walk the hallways with his law books on his head to improve his posture. His eyes are pretty, which Sam also isn’t going to tell Dean for love or money, because he can definitely live without the fifty years of teasing that will ensue if and when Dean figures out how weak in the knees he can go for soft hazel eyes with long lashes. He’s not Dad’s age, either – or, well, he doesn’t look as old, although Sam is aware that John Winchester looks ten years older than he really is, so...maybe. Well, so what? So he’s older. He’s handsome (there it is, that’s the word: he’s not pretty, he’s handsome) and shyly polite and he has this oddly fascinating way of being utterly still when he’s still. There’s something in him, some kind of intensity, some kind of passion (Sam likes to imagine that’s what it is, anyway), but it’s folded up and stored away. Those pretty eyes reflect his little smile when Sam refills his coffee, but there’s more than his glasses in front of his eyes, holding everyone away.

If Dean hasn’t figured out what Sam’s type is yet, he’s not alone. This is all...pretty new to both of them, but Sam is beginning to suspect that a sense of mystery is what he’s really looking for. It is what he knows, after all – invisible worlds, stonewalled secrets.

He’s a Winchester. He can’t stay away from stuff like that.

*

He comes in often enough that Sam loses track of the days – long enough that he’s had time to grow a little beard and then shave it off again. Sam can’t decide which way he prefers, and he suspects but doesn’t like to really face up to the fact that he’s so smitten that it truly doesn’t matter.

He quits having his one cigarette, which provides Sam with his lone conversational gambit. “Did you quit smoking?” he asks, setting down the eggs on toast and warming up his coffee.

Mr. Big looks up at him and blinks a couple of times, as if the world is just coming into focus around him – but then he smiles a little and says, “Well...yeah. Looks like it, huh?”

“Good,” Sam says, gone a little hoarse now that those eyes are really on him, really seeing him. “It’s, uh – much better for you. You know.” He nods seriously, as if Sam has said something intelligent, and starts in on his sandwich.

Dean, not being a morning person, is hardly ever there at the same time as Mr. Big, for which Sam is devoutly grateful to whatever higher power he sort of believes in. When the two of them cross paths again it’s a Monday morning, and Dean hasn’t been to bed in almost two days; he’s rumpled and groggy and grinning as he counts out crumpled bills on the counter and gives Sam an extended play-by-play of the poker game where he won $475. Sam is nodding without listening much to the words; it’s the tone he’s focused in on, because something has been shifting in Dean’s voice in the last week or so, sharpening. They’ll have to go back on the road soon. Dean won’t let it be any other way, not for too much longer.

Truth be told, Sam’s ready himself.

That morning Mr. Big comes in wearing a suit, which he’s never done before, and a cheap brown trench coat over it. He steers away from his usual table and comes right to the counter, brushed up against Dean, who’s looking punch-drunk and insanely dangerous, at least if humiliation really can kill. “Hi,” he says, a little breathlessly. “Hey, is there any way I can get some food to go?”

“Sure thing, sailor,” Dean answers for him, and the guy looks down at him, vaguely puzzled.

“Of course,” Sam says quickly. “You want the– “

“Yeah, yeah, that’d be great,” he says. “Thanks so much.”

Sam rings him up while the order’s in the back, but when he tries to give back the $3.12 in change from his ten, Mr. Big puts his hand on the side of Sam’s and pushes it gently away. “No, you keep that,” he says. “I didn’t mean to cost you your tip.”

His tip from that table is usually a dollar, once in a while two. He would argue, except that, God, those hands. He can’t make his voice work at all, so he’s just standing there dumbly, holding $3.12 in his hand.

When the sandwich comes up, Jimmy puts it in a white styrofoam carton, and Sam hands that to him along with a large to-go cup of coffee, and it almost works, everything is almost fine and normal and cool, until fucking Dean Winchester, Sam’s reason to live and the bane of his goddamn existence, says, “Whoa, whoa, wait just a second, there,” and pulls the styrofoam out of Mr. Big’s hand while both he and Sam watch in shock. Dean grabs a black marker from on top of the register and pulls the cap off with his teeth, then spits it out and says as he writes, “This handsome bastard here is my little brother Sam, and don’t take this the wrong way, but he’s kind of got this thing for you. So if that’s not your cup of tea, no harm no foul, but otherwise you should think about giving him a call, all right?”

Sam is staring at his own cell phone number written in huge black numbers on white styrofoam, and he can’t – he can’t believe Dean, he can’t–

“Oh,” Mr. Big says faintly. “Um. Thanks. Sam.”

He looks up at his name – you almost can’t help but look when someone says your name – and the guy doesn’t seem to be laughing, or horrified, or suspicious. He looks...maybe a little surprised, but nothing scarier than that. “Thanks,” Sam says in return, though for what, he doesn’t know. “Thanks for – have a– “

The bells jingle as he opens the door by backing up into it, coffee in one hand, breakfast and Sam’s number in the other. “Tim,” he says, and he only smiles for a second, but it’s enough.

It’s perfectly clear.

“You don’t have to thank me,” Dean says magnanimously.

“Rot in hell,” Sam says, but his heart isn’t in it. He might kiss Dean, if he thought he could get away with it.

*

Breakfast shift ends at ten, and Sam cuts across the parking lot on the way back to his own cheap motel – the Blue Moon, a step down even from the Ridgemont. He’s not as surprised as he thinks he should be to see Tim in the parking lot, but he is surprised to see him in a car, a POS maroon Chevy Nova. He’s been assuming Tim ate at the diner because it was within walking distance; why else would you?

Tim steps out of the car, squinting into the midday spring sunlight, and Sam walks slowly toward him. He’s not wrong...right? He’s expected to be here; he doesn’t need an excuse to come closer, other than the truth? “Hi,” Tim says when he gets close enough to put his hand on the hood of the Chevy. “Are you...free for lunch?”

Sam eats breakfast when the rush has died down, before he does his sidework and goes home. He’s not hungry in the slightest. “I’m free,” he says. “Sure.”

He’s not hungry, and he must have said that after he was in the car; Sam can’t remember that part very clearly. He doesn’t know what the hell he said, but it must have been something totally slutty – or maybe that part just showed without saying anything at all – because Tim drives them six blocks and pulls into a long alley between two of those ubiquitous tall Baltimore brownstones, parks the car in the grid pattern of shadow and sunlight, and then suddenly – suddenly and finally, finally – he has his fingers in Tim’s soft brown hair and Tim’s big hand cupping the back of his neck and they’re kissing desperately, sloppily, not to mention mostly ineffectually, since neither of them has stopped to unbuckle their seatbelts.

Sam can’t help groaning when Tim breaks the kiss, and then there’s a short period of rustling and the hiss of seatbelts and nervous laughter, and Tim finds the lever on the side of Sam’s seat and collapses it backwards, one hand on Sam’s chest, kissing him again from an odd angle. There’s way too much of them for the front seat of a car; the whole enterprise is doomed, but Sam isn’t about to raise an objection. Tim kisses exactly the way Sam has been fantasizing about: desperate and dangerous. Unleashed. His hand trembles as it strokes the side of Sam’s face.

His other hand is quick and competent, unbuttoning and unzipping Sam’s khakis and reaching inside for his cock. There’s not much Sam can do from his position, so he just moans his approval of this development and then tries running his tongue as slowly as he can against the inside of Tim’s mouth.

Tim makes a sound, maybe a word but probably not – something almost agonized, and he shudders violently and tightens his hand around Sam’s cock. Then suddenly there’s no motion at all, except for Tim’s heaving breaths. His wet mouth lies slack against the corner of Sam’s. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles. “I’m – I’m so sorry, I– “

He sits up, flushed red and looking miserable, his hair all ruffled up cutely. Sam finds the lever and raises his seat again, politely not paying direct attention to the stain on the crotch of Tim’s new suit. “No, it’s okay,” he croaks, running his fingers through his own messy hair.

Tim gives a hollow laugh and puts his hands on the steering wheel. His glasses are tilted slightly off-center, and Sam wants badly to fuss with them, straighten them up, but he resists. “I would say I don’t normally– “

“It’s okay,” Sam insists. God, if this guy freaks out and runs now, Sam is going directly home and kicking the shit out of Dean.

“I haven’t had sex in seven years,” Tim blurts out.

That seems...unlikely. Sam isn’t sure he’s ever met a healthy, good-looking guy with a seven-year dry spell, except for– “Oh, shit,” he says. “You’re not a priest, are you?” Sam hasn’t been bisexual long enough to have a detailed set of rules worked out or anything, but he’s sure if he did, no priests would be very, very high on the list.

Tim looks over at him for a stunned moment, and then he starts to laugh weakly. He tilts his head back and laughs for what feels like quite a while, and Sam, who isn’t the one who already got off, is half-blissed out by the sight of it. When Tim smiles for real, when he laughs, it’s like a 180 from before; now he looks like he’s never had a secret in all his life, like happiness is all he’s ever known. That’s a gift some people have, Sam knows; his brother has it. Sam has always envied it.

“I’m – I’m not a priest,” he finally says, sobering up. “Not even Catholic. Are you?”

“No,” Sam says. “Neither one. I had a– My father’s best friend was a priest, but we weren’t really raised...anything.”

“If you haven’t given up on me completely,” Tim says, turning his face just slightly toward Sam, “I could take you back to– I’m staying at the Ridgemont.”

“I know,” Sam says, and can’t help grinning at him. “I haven’t given up, no.”

*

If the Ridgemont isn’t a cheap hotel then there’s never been one, but somehow nobody seems to have told Tim what should go on in places like this. As soon as the door is closed behind them, he takes Sam’s face in his hands and kisses him, long and sweet and sensual, and keeps on kissing him until Sam is quivering, until he’s sliding his hands under Tim’s coat and down his sleeves and just holding on to his arms.

Tim pushes him carefully toward the bed, and Sam only has time to toe his shoes off before he’s on his back and Tim is holding himself above him, one long kiss mutating into a litany of kisses on Sam’s mouth, his face, his ear, his jaw – everywhere, over and over, and now for some reason Sam can feel fear rising, the familiar whitewater rush of adrenaline, because this is so – odd. Sam has slept with five guys this past year, since he decided the world as he knew it wouldn’t come to an end if he did (and that maybe he wanted the world as he knew it to come to an end after all), and none of them have been like this. It’s more than just that none of them have held him down. None of them have...held him.

Sam isn’t sure this is what he wants. He isn’t...sure that it’s not what he wants, either, though. His life is just so twisted on every front that he can barely keep up, let alone plan ahead.

He gets his hands between them to loosen Tim’s tie, and that jars a helpless noise out of him, a growl or a little cry. Sam jerks the tie into a wide loop and then starts in on the buttons of his shirt, pushing it and the suit jacket off his shoulders simultaneously. “Nice suit,” he says breathlessly.

“I had a job interview.”

“Did you get it?”

Tim pauses for a moment, then sighs. “Probably not,” he says, then mouths the edge of Sam’s jaw. Sam tilts his head down and catches his mouth in a hungry kiss.

Sam’s phone rings just as they’re coming up for air. Already Sam’s lips feel rubbed raw, and he wouldn’t trade the feeling for anything. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles. “I better – it’s my brother, he’s relentless.”

Tim rolls away onto his back with a long stretch. “Tell him I said hi.”

The phone stops and then starts up again while Sam is rifling through the pockets of his coat on the floor. As soon as he snaps it open, Dean says, “Took you long enough. What if this was an emergency?”

“Are you telling me it’s not?” Sam growls.

“I could be dead by now. I could be digested.”

“But you’re not, so it’s not an emergency,” Sam says shortly. His voice doesn’t sound like his voice; he can’t concentrate on this, not with Tim’s arms wrapped around him from behind, unbuttoning his jeans as he kisses the back of Sam’s neck, whisper-soft. “Please don’t tell me we have to have the Sammy’s-a-grown-man conversation again. Please.” He’s not sure who he’s begging.

“Did he call you?” Dean says, with that unsettling enthusiasm he never stops taking in Sam’s sex life. “Are you out with that old guy?”

“He’s not old,” Sam says without thinking. He can feel Tim smile against his skin. “Dean, I’ll call you back,” he says. “I’ll talk to you later.” He hangs up the phone, sets it to vibrate, and throws it back down on top of their coats. His jeans land on top, burying the phone. “I’m sorry about that,” Sam groans. “He’s just – he gets bored. And insufferable.”

Tim sits up and begins to unbutton his shirt, beginning with the cuffs. “I would really like to establish some expectations,” he says in a bright, businesslike voice, “because I really, I just really think it’s good to agree on expectations, don’t you?”

“Okay,” Sam says, “of course,” even though he’s never really thought about it before.

He twists around at the waist, cupping Sam’s jaw in his hand and kissing him deeply. “The first thing, the most important thing I want to do,” he rasps against Sam’s lips, “is, I want to suck your cock, because I really miss that. I know some people just do it to be polite, but I, honestly, I really like doing it, and I’m good at it – I used to be good at it. I’m out of practice, obviously, but when you think about it, it’s really about enthusiasm, isn’t it? And I like it, I like the taste and everything. And then, because you’re – you’re young, you’re probably very – I was hoping after that you would be able, or able and willing – that you’d want to fuck me. Is that.... How would that be?”

That would be great, just lovely, perfect, in fact, and Sam tries to say so, but it gets lost among the kisses. They go toppling to the bed together, pulling off the rest of each other’s clothes; Tim is hard again, and Sam is half delirious before he even gets Tim’s hand on his cock, let alone his mouth.

A few strong twists of his hand against the root – one long, hungry moan shivering around him – the quick flutter of a tongue under the flared head, the fucking perfect spot – it doesn’t take much. Sam yelps at the speed of it, the slam of yes after minutes and hours and weeks of please, and he can’t help clinging to Tim’s hair as he grinds his back against the hard mattress and comes. Tim pulls away just as he begins, watching avidly as Sam pulses out over his own stomach.

He crawls up over Sam, his cheeks a little flushed and his glasses all askew again, red, used lips smiling in barely contained delight. He sinks down against Sam, heavy flesh and bone and the feeling of his heartbeat almost tangible against Sam’s skin. The glasses are sort of in the way, so Sam takes them and puts them aside.

All that kissing is starting to dry out Sam’s mouth. Reluctantly, he slithers out of Tim’s arms and goes to the bathroom, where the Ridgemont has not provided plastic cups, so he has to run cold water in the sink and take a few messy but welcome drinks from his cupped hands. He washes up and dries off, hands and face and belly, and then he pauses in the doorway, watching Tim watch him. Tim looks at him the same way Jess used to: not exactly lascivious, but openly admiring, as if Sam were a beautiful sunset, something from one of those Wild America calendars. “There’s beer in the fridge, if you want it,” he says.

“No, thanks. You want me to bring you one?”

Tim seems to consider it briefly, then he says, “No. I’m – I’m cutting back.”

“Cutting back on beer, giving up smoking,” Sam says lightly as he crawls back into bed, throwing the scratchy blanket over both of them. Many of Sam’s earliest memories are of this: bundling up in blankets in over-air-conditioned hotel rooms, cocooning. He always felt safest when he could get Dean to tuck him all the way in, the bedding over his head. They called it Playing Snail, because neither of them had the words.... Hide wasn’t something you said. Like so many things, it was never expressly forbidden, but it was impossible anyway.

“Well, I do have one vice left,” Tim says, not at all repentantly. He lets his arm fall off the bed and comes back up with a Walgreen’s bag full of candy bars and a package of Chips Ahoy. “You met me just in time,” he says, digging into the cookies as Sam digs through and chooses a Three Musketeers. “I plan to gain a lot of weight very soon. It’s my project.”

Sam laughs. “That’s kind of a relief, actually,” he says. “I was afraid you just kept candy and cookies around to lure younger men to your hotel room.”

“I don’t think I should be accused of luring. I’m the luree, aren’t I?”

Sam rolls his eyes. “I’m so sorry about my brother. He’s just – he’s got no social skills, and he’s on this permanent quest to.... No, never mind. I mean, it doesn’t matter – and actually, this time I’m not all that sorry. Not that I plan to tell him that.”

“You two are close,” Tim says.

“Well...yeah. I don’t know. I mean – no, we are, mostly. Now. When we were kids we were close, because – our mother died when we were young, and our father worked a lot, so it was just us. Then we got older, and things just.... We grew apart, I guess, and Dean’s not very.... He’s like our dad, you know, he’s got just – this one way of doing things, and he doesn’t know what to do with anything else. So when I went away to college, I stopped.... I didn’t feel close to him for quite a while. But when my – when my fiancee died, he was really there for me. It’s good, things are pretty good between us now. I mean, he drives me crazy, but...it’s good.”

“I’m thinking about leaving Baltimore,” Tim says softly, looking at Sam as if that might shock him, or he might disapprove. “My cousin moved to Cincinnati a couple of years ago with his family, and he wants me to.... I don’t know, though. This is my home, it’s the only one I’ve ever had. I’ve been – gone for a few years, but this’ll always be home.”

Sam has always wondered what that would feel like. When someone says home, Sam doesn’t picture anything – just a blank space, like the screen of a broken television reflecting his own face dimly back at him. Sometimes he sees empty interstate, flat ground and sun-baked grass and power lines and mile markers.

“You’re close to your cousin?” Sam asks.

“Oh, yeah. Absolutely. We grew up next door to each other. We were like brothers. He calls me – he calls me almost every day, and he says I should come to Cincinnati. He says there’s nothing left for me in Baltimore. He’s right, I know he’s right. Would I be living here if there was anything?”

“Do you miss him?” He missed Dean, all those years. Not enough to call – not enough to outweigh anger and pride and loss. But he did miss him.

Tim hesitates. “Yeah,” he finally says. “But maybe for the wrong reasons.”

Sam brushes cookie crumbs off Tim’s chest and finds a warm spot in the crook of his arm, tangling their legs together. He didn’t know it would be like his; his history of hooking up with strangers is highly abbreviated, but it isn’t nonexistent. He’s at least been around the block enough times to know that this is unusual – this touch-hunger they both seem to have, this urge toward intimacy.

“Jim and I have been through a lot together,” Tim says, running his fingers through Sam’s hair. “He was arrested years back, when I was still a cop, in an accidental shooting. I think he thinks...well, not that he owes me – we’re family, he knows I would’ve stood by him no matter what – but that he understands me somehow. See, it’s – it’s always been like that. My family.... Well, I don’t want to, you know, it’s not something we need to get into, but there were just certain things that nobody – that nobody knew about except us. That nobody believed except us, because we were the only ones who’d been through it. I mean, when you’re a kid, as far as you know nobody in the whole world has ever.... So it was just us. We had this secret. A secret world, almost – like the Twilight Zone, where everything looks normal on the outside, but there are these...terrible things underneath that only we could see. And he thinks it’s like that now, too, because we’ve both – killed somebody. I should.... Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this.”

Sam smiles against his shoulder. He’s certainly not scared of Tim, and he doubts – he doesn’t know who Tim killed or how it happened, but he very much doubts that the story would redefine his sense of what evil means. Sam Winchester knows a lot of things, and he knows evil as well as or better than any of them. Tim isn’t it. But he can’t say that, so he puts two and two together – from Baltimore but displaced in his own hometown, living in a hotel room, looking for a job, killed somebody – and he says, “How long have you been out of prison?”

Tim breathes out heavily, a sound of involuntary relief. Sam can sympathize; carrying secrets is hard work. He was a ball of tension the whole four years he lived in California, never able to say a word about his real life even to the people who thought they were close to him. “Four weeks and four days,” he says. “I got fifteen years, but I made parole after– “

“Seven.” Sam’s often thought – Dean worries about dying and, even more, about being left behind. Sam has a better imagination than Dean does, which gives him more to worry about. The wrong luck, the wrong bad guy, an enemy in high places.... Plenty of people go their whole lives never once considering that they could wind up in prison someday, but Sam isn’t one of them. “But that’s good, though,” he says. “You can – you have lots of time left to start your life over.”

“Yeah,” Tim says, with a game smile. “That’s the idea, at least.” Sam isn’t good at pep talks – he’s not good at talking in general, unless it’s lying or law. He’s not good at anything real, in spite of all his attempts to learn; maybe you just have to start younger. But he’s a pretty good kisser, so he kisses Tim.

They’ve already established expectations, so these kisses are going somewhere and they both know it, no matter how slow and easy they go. Sam is less surprised now by the way Tim needs contact, the deep, dark hunger in his kisses; it’s been a long time for every kind of touch. Sam remembers that vividly from the first year after Jess died, the simple lack of anything warm and breathing to put your arms around and feel. Dean was there for him in almost every way that year, except for that one.

“You can go ahead and ask,” Tim says over his shoulder when Sam rolls him onto his stomach and starts kissing the hard beads of his spine, invisible under his skin but the shape of them present against Sam’s lips. “Everyone’s curious.”

“Ask what?”

“The prison sex thing. It’s okay, I’m not offended. Everyone wants to know.”

“I already know,” Sam reminds him. “You told me you didn’t have any.”

He’s got no reason to doubt Tim’s word on that, particularly once he gets a slick finger inside and realizes how tight Tim is. He reaches up with his other hand and brushes Tim’s hair soothingly; Tim turns his face a little against the pillow so that Sam can see his eyes are closed and his expression is – like at the diner, static and remote, impossible to read. Sam tries kissing his shoulder, and his muscles respond but his face doesn’t. Sam presses against his back and kisses his cheek; it’s okay with him if Tim wants to get a little bit lost in his head, but he finds himself concerned that Tim is Playing Snail, and that he doesn’t like much at all.

“I would have,” Tim says roughly. “I would – I think – I missed – The only thing to stop me would have been pride, and I don’t know if I have...anymore....” Sam traces his ear with his tongue, which sends a little shudder through him. He reaches back for Sam’s hand and moves it from his ribs to his thigh. “When they put a bad cop in prison,” Tim says, half muffled by the pillow, “they at least don’t just turn him loose with all the people he put there. There’s a special unit, way off by itself. You don’t really meet anyone. You’re.... Most of the time, you’re alone.”

Dean brags about being fearless, but he has his share, and Sam knows that’s the biggest of them: Dean can’t live alone. He’s just not capable of it. Sam.... He thinks he’s capable, if there were no other choice. Once, he believed he’d prefer it – nothing left to owe to anyone, no one to be afraid for but himself. He used to dream, packed into the back of his father’s truck like one more piece of luggage on a long trip with nothing worth having waiting for him at the end of it, he used to dream about having his own room. Silence to think in. No lectures about responsibility – no responsibility. A place, some space, that he didn’t have to share with anyone or anything except what he brought in with him.

It took him a long time to realize that all the things he really wanted to get away from, he did bring in with him.

Sex with someone his own size is new, this is Sam’s first time. Ever since he shot up in high school and turned lanky and clumsy, he’s been terrified of his own elbows and legs, a sudden and unwelcome physical reflection of his awkward, out-of-control mouth that never managed to say the exact right thing to someone he liked. He got past the clumsy stage – his life kind of required it – but then he was filling in the framework with muscle, turning fast and flexible and dangerous. Sam is dangerous and he knows it; behind the careful self-coaching and his father’s rules, behind all the things Sam wouldn’t do, lurk all the things he could do, if he wanted.

Camouflage was always Sam’s best talent; Dean’s good at getting by unnoticed, but Sam is better. Everyone Sam’s ever been with, they see what he wants them to see. They never fear him, and that’s unsettling. They never realize what he is, under the smile and the shyness and the floppy hair – that he’s a hunter, that he got The Art of War for Christmas when he was eight and killed something that looked like a man when he was fifteen. If they would only see it, then maybe it could just be there, be what it is, and Sam could leave it alone.

But that never happens. Tim is...the closest thing yet. He isn’t smaller than Sam, doesn’t feel fragile or delicate as Sam stretches him, fucks him. He isn’t an innocent, either – well, maybe he is. That’s not Sam’s word, he’s never liked to use that. For John and Dean, the world divides up that way – the dark ones and the innocents, and a few men guarding the borders between, shadow-soldiers like the three of them. That’s their map, their cosmology.

Sam went into law because he wanted to understand those other borders, too. For every innocent who finds life suddenly shattered by the intrusion of the supernatural, there are ten thousand who struggle with other boundaries, other incursions. Guilty and not guilty, crime and punishment, sin and forgiveness, peace and vengeance, justifiable and forbidden, right and wrong. Monsters are Sam’s secret world, his Twilight Zone, but most people’s monsters are human beings.

He’s always known a lot of things and he’s always wanted to understand more. He wants to understand evil as much as or more than any of them. Tim is what Sam’s father and brother would call an innocent, but to Sam he’s more than that. Something better, because it’s complicated and real.

Tim is quiet in bed, but he cries out when he comes – just once, like he doesn’t mean to. Sam hesitates a minute, because it feels so – God, the way it feels – but he’s never liked the sensation of coming inside a condom, so he makes himself pull out and get rid of it. Tim wraps one arm around his shoulders and the other hand around his cock and presses him down to the mattress, kissing hard and jacking harder, and Sam babbles into his warm mouth as he thrusts into Tim’s fist, something about not stopping and oh, God.

They’re sticky again, both of them, but Sam’s legs are shaking and he knows he can’t make it to the bathroom, and anyway what the hell, he’s been covered in worse, so he just grabs Tim around the waist and holds him and kisses back. He’s not totally sure if this counts as safe sex, but he knows what Dean would say about safe anything, and he doesn’t condone that type of thinking, but he feels it in the same place Dean feels it, deep in his bones. As safe as you can, under the circumstances is the compromise Sam has reached in the war zone that his own body has always been.

*

Who knows how long the hot water will last, but the shower isn’t big enough for both of them at once, so they take their chances. Tim insists that Sam go first.

He checks his phone while Tim is in the shower, and it says You have six missed calls and of course when he presses the button, there’s DEAN DEAN DEAN DEAN DEAN DEAN, but he hasn’t left a message. Sam calls him back, balancing the phone against his neck while he pulls on his jeans.

“Some hot date,” Dean says, sounding oddly approving and disapproving at once.

Sam sits in the chair, where he’s got a good view of the clock; it’s almost four thirty. “We took a nap,” he says, and then regrets it with every fiber of his being. He’d take up the Black Arts just to have the last three seconds back again.

There’s a stunned pause, and then Dean says, “Sammy.”

“Stop,” Sam begs, not that that trick ever works.

“Wait, wait. This is a nooner, right, and not just some weird thing that you do? Lunch and a nap?”

“Yeah, Dean, lunch and a nap,” he says impatiently. “Also, we made paper snowflakes and a log cabin out of popsicle sticks.”

“Way to go, old guy,” Dean gloats. “Sammy, you’re not going to be able to run for Ice Queen next year if you keep this kind of thing up. I have to tell you, I wasn’t sure what to make of this whole occasionally-gay thing at first, but now I’m thinking you’re not gay enough, because your luck with guys is at like a whole ‘nother level from how you were doing with women.”

“It’s not exactly that simple,” Sam says, watching Tim come out of the bathroom in a towel.

Dean makes a dismissive noise. “Yeah, what is, with you? Still, I’m just saying.”

“I heard you,” Sam says. “Did you actually want anything?”

“You planning to come home any time soon?”

“Yeah,” Sam says. “Pretty soon, probably.”

Tim kneels on the carpet, between Sam’s legs, bracing his hands on Sam’s thighs. Sam leans down to kiss him, and his mouth is raw and a little sore by now, but he doesn’t mind. Tim’s looks the same way, but he isn’t acting like he minds, either. When they pull apart, Tim looks up at him and says, “Thanks.”

Sam could make some kind of gallant or witty comment about how it was his pleasure or whatever, but he’s never worn that sort of thing very well, and anyway Tim doesn’t mean it in the usual way, so the expected answer feels wrong. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, I guess.”

“Yeah. Listen, maybe sometime we....”

“Maybe,” Sam says, “yeah. I mean...I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be in Baltimore, but– “

Tim nods quickly. “You don’t have to– “

“No, I want to,” Sam says just as quickly. The longer he thinks about it, the more true it is. This isn’t going to last long, but short is all right. It’s something, and Sam could use...something. “You’re probably leaving soon, too,” he says, mostly to remind himself.

“I don’t know. I.... It’s complicated.” Sam isn’t going to ask, but he must look curious. Tim hesitates, then picks up Sam’s hand and runs his mouth over his fingers, his knuckles, the back of his wrist, and it feels better than it has any right to. Sam’s whole body is still awake and grateful for the luxury of being desired. Sam gets interest all the time, but it feels different, coming from somebody who keeps secrets, who has layers, someone who’s not...innocent. “There is one thing left for me here,” he says. “I can’t go until.... I can’t leave Baltimore without at least seeing him once. Of course, so far I haven’t been able to do that, either, so...here I sit. You know, I wouldn’t exactly be surprised if Purgatory does look a lot like the Ridgemont.”

“Are you sure you’re not Catholic?”

Tim smiles, that open smile that Sam will never have, that he just wasn’t born with. He can’t even blame his life. His life isn’t so different from everyone else’s, no matter what he was raised to believe. He’s old enough now, he knows.... It’s not so different. “You’d be amazed how sure I am,” he says.

Sam finishes getting dressed, and Tim kisses him one last time at the door, soft and familiar, like they’re old lovers, essential pieces of each other. They’re not either of those things, but still, it doesn’t feel false somehow. “I would like to see you again,” Sam says quietly, brushing Tim’s cheek with his fingers. “But I understand if– I mean, you should go see your friend. I hope that works out for you.”

He was angry, he was proud, he felt betrayed. He never made that call. He lost four years because of that choice, and it doesn’t feel worth it anymore. Sam got used to being alone, he even got used to lying to Jess, but it’s still hard sometimes to get used to the way Dean has learned to protect himself from Sam – the games, the jokes, the half-lies and the stiff arms. There was a time when Sam could ask Dean to hold him, and Dean would do it immediately. Sam remembers that. It doesn’t matter to him whose fault it was, not anymore. He only knows he never picked up the phone, and none of the reasons he thought he had weigh as much as the work he’s had to do to fix it. Not to mention the work he’s still doing.

Tim twitches a little in his arms, maybe laughter, maybe not. “You think he was my boyfriend?”

“I don’t know,” Sam says, just the slightest bit annoyed. “How should I know?”

“Okay, true,” Tim says. “But he was never my boyfriend. He was.... I don’t know. He was the first person I thought of every morning and the last person I thought of every night for fifteen years. He was my partner. I don’t know...any other word for it than that. Sometimes I think we mostly hurt each other like we did because we couldn’t think of the...of the right word.”

*

They go down to the wharf that night for the sea air and the crab cakes; Sam even lets Dean drive without a fight and pretends not to be watching him shift gears, trying to gauge how much it costs Dean in pain. A little, Sam decides, after a careful analysis of the set of his brother’s jaw. Not enough to matter.

Tim knows a guy he promised would take them out on his boat, and as much as Dean hates to fly, that’s how much he loves to be on the water. Sam, good Kansas boy that he is, has never entirely trusted the ocean, but he’s in a good mood. “I’m a friend of Tim’s,” he tells the Irish captain with the German name, wondering what he’s going to say if the next question is Tim who?

But the captain just snorts and waves at Sam’s wallet until he closes it. “Tell that mopey son of a bitch he’s got a seven-year tab outstanding and he better get his ass down to the Waterfront and settle up,” he says gruffly, but it’s easy to see in his eyes that it’s not the money that matters. Sam smiles and promises to pass the message along.

They fish, but they don’t catch anything. Dean almost does, but he loses it at the last second. Sam claps his shoulder lightly and says, “Kansas.”

Dean snorts, and agrees, “Kansas.”

By midnight they’re what feels like miles and miles out on the water, the Baltimore lights white and gold in the distance, light that cuts through the darkness but doesn’t drive it off, like the reflective signs that star the interstate. Sam sits on a bench next to his brother and leans over, resting his head on Dean’s still-strong left shoulder.

Dean shoves against him and says, “Dude, what are you doing?”

“I’m your brother, Dean,” Sam says, unable to make it come out anything but – well, not angry, but hard. Harder than he wants it to be. He used to– They used to do this. In the backseat of their father’s car, driving down the dark highway into more darkness. On the steps outside their motel room, lit by the red glow of the Coke machine after one of Sam and John’s knock-down-drag-outs. He remembers being on a motel porch like that at sixteen, a gawky and angry boy and his brother a soldier, a man – everything Sam didn’t know if he could be, if he even wanted to be. He remembers putting his head on Dean’s shoulder and saying I hate this, I hate this, Dean, and how Dean felt warm and unyielding and safe against him, murmuring, Hang in there, okay, Sammy? For me?

Now things are more complicated, and without the laser-focus emotional purity of adolescence, he can’t even say I hate this anymore, because it’s not true. It was never really true. “I’m your brother,” he says again. Should he know...some other word for it than that?

Finally Dean sighs and the muscles in his shoulder relax a little under Sam’s cheek, although the bone underneath still holds him up. “Yeah, okay,” he says, sounding tired, but maybe content. “Okay. I know you are.”
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  • trying to get Caroline to love DragonCon

    Joe -- DC '09 Originally uploaded by hth_the_firstLOOK. LOOK HOW CUTE.

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