Finally Gets Home
by Maygra & Gekizetsu

Rating: Mature Adult
Pairing: Dean/Sam/Sarah (yes, het/slash/incest)

(10,091 words)

Set in Gekizetsu's Month of Open Doors series (with a sidestep from  If Belief Was Enough…) and Salvation Futureverse. Read the notes.

The characters and situations portrayed here are not ours, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings, disclaimers, and attributions. Please do not archive this story without our permission.

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Sarah isn't sure what wakes her up, but awake she is; no easy, drowsy slide from sleep to mere consciousness. She glances at the clock past Sam's shoulder and frowns because it's not even five a.m.

Her second waking act is to listen, to see if she hears the girls, maybe one of them having bad dreams or sick. That leads her directly to her third thought - that there are four girls in the house because she'd put Charlie in with Allie and Charlie is here because Dean is.

Only he's not.

That registers a little like a gut punch because he should be. He should be asleep right there on the other side of Sam, where he'd been last night after they'd…they'd all…

Uhm, yes.

She's got vague memories of getting up at least one time before for warm towels and dry panties, of Dean doing the same and later Sam, who'd cleaned up and then done a child check but didn't come back immediately and she found him sitting on the stairs sometime after three a.m., half-asleep but done with whatever he'd needed solitude for to work through. It hadn't taken much to coax him back to bed, and he'd dropped off almost immediately, an arm around her and his hand clasped with Dean's like he couldn't sleep unless he was touching them both.

That need had dissipated at some point in the last couple of hours because he was on his side now, both hands tucked under his head, breathing slow and shallow and steady when she gets up.

Sam doesn’t even stir. She doesn't dare turn on a light because that will wake him like nothing else. The room isn't fully dark anyway and her eyes are adjusting. There are dark circles under Sam's eyes that aren't entirely due to the shadows in the room.

Not surprising at all. It's been a rough day and night. On her and Charlie as well, but mostly on Sam and she resists the urge to touch him, if only to reassure herself. He's sleeping hard because he's exhausted and if she's lucky that will hold until she figures out where her idiot brother-in-law has gotten himself off to.

She eases out of the bed carefully even though Sam's not quite as quick to wake to every minor uncategorized change in his environment as he used to be.

She doesn’t bother pulling her pajamas back on, only slips a light robe on over bare skin and ties it, eases out of the room.

There's more light spilling in the hallway than usual, stretching up from downstairs, from the kitchen.

She checks on the girls first. Allie and Charlie are curled up like kittens in the very center of Allie's double bed and she's not surprised to see Mary and Leigh sharing the single bottom bunk. They weren't exactly scared when Sam showed up with Charlie and a near-comatose Dean, but they were worried.

She closes the door and heads downstairs.

Dean's far more alert than Sam, which is surprising given his condition just over twelve hours ago. He's got his jeans on and a shirt but the shirt is unbuttoned, hanging open. Not the first time she's seen him half dressed or even naked for that matter, but still -- the circumstances are a little different.

He is, predictably, waiting for the coffee to brew.

"I didn't mean to wake you," he says which is lame even for Dean and he won't quite meet her eyes. It's not obvious because he's looking right at her, but his focus is a little to the left, somewhere right around her shoulder.

"What are you doing?" It has taken her years to realize that really, the only way to deal with Dean when he is skittish is head on. Sam is nearly the exact opposite. If you don't block Dean's path completely, he'll be past you and running wild for the hills. With Sam if you come at him directly he'll just knock you down and keep going; you have to come at him more gently, more quietly or he'll bolt.

But she'd learned from the best, watching these two do the push-me, pull-you dance with each other. She'd seen it when she first met them, only she hadn't recognized it for the ritual it was.

"Uh, coffee?"

"And then?"

"And then…I'll…"

"Wake Charlie and go home? Were you going to wait for the rest of us to get up? Or just disappear?"

She doesn’t actually have Sam's finesse at this and she can tell by the narrowing of Dean's gaze and the fact that now he is looking at her, that she may be pushing too hard on the wrong thing. "You scared Sam to death. Charlie too. And me. Are you okay?"

Better. His gaze drops again and then he turns and pulls down two mugs from the cabinet. "I'm good. I'm…it's okay. Sam…" The mugs were settled on the counter at the same time and quietly. "Sam did whatever Sam does and …"

His head drops and one hand comes up to rub at his face, his back to her.

"You know, I was there," she says.

"No shit. I didn't lose my memory, Sarah." Just myself for a little bit.

Dean doesn't say it but Sam had, or something like it.

She moves a little closer, not trapping him but still a little wary. She's not afraid of Dean lashing out at her, only that he might bolt. He doesn't take kindness well, unless it's offered by people under five feet tall and under about fifteen. Kindness from Sam is likely to end in a shouting match or even a few punches thrown.

Kindness from her he tolerates a little better but still not well. He doesn't know what to do with it. "So, you'll remember, I don’t think anyone actually had a problem with it -- except you and that's only now and not then. So, if I'm okay and Sam's okay, what's your problem?"

Dean whips his head around on a harsh and bitter laugh. "Is that what all those progressive art schools taught you, to be all okay with the fact that I fucked your husband last night?"

So. Close to the truth, but not all of it. "I think this is more about the fact that your fucked your brother last night. It's a minor distinction but an important one."

He gapes at her, which Sarah actually thinks is a good thing and gives her time to work her mind around this too -- which she hasn't, but she'd at least has some time last night to actually process what was happening before it did.

But the rest of this? She is totally pulling it out of her ass, thank you very much.

"Well, that's great. Puts a much finer point on it. Thanks. So what, same time next week? I don't have Charlie, but you know if having all the kids in the house while the three of us are--"

The slap echoes in the kitchen as the last of the coffee gurgles into the pot. She surprises both of them -- herself most of all. The imprint of her hand is clear on his cheek "You really can be an insufferable bastard, sometimes," she says calmly, and the contrast is as much of a shock as the slap itself. "You won't ask for help when you need it. You won't take it when it's offered, or if you do you take it like someone handed you rancid dog meat but you're so hungry for it you eat it anyway."

He's silent for a long moment before reaching out to pull the coffee carafe and pour a cup. He eyes her and lifts the pot.

"Yes, please," she says.

Dean pours and then steps back, puts his back to the counter, looking relaxed but tired and remote, like the slap was something he deserved. Which he did, but not for anything but trying to make this crude and meaningless. "Sarah, what Sam did…I …I'm grateful for it. I am and I know…he's the only one…but…I don't need or want that kind of help and you -- him. It shouldn't have happened. It won't again."

"Maybe I should have said love instead of help," she says and sips her coffee.

Dean rolls his eyes. "And blue is the new black, and brothers are the new cousins. Could we not have this conversation? Don't you have a degree in art, not psych?" he says but there's less rancor in his tone than there could be and he's back to not looking at her directly again.

"I had a crash course in Winchester family dynamics. I've been practicing without a license for a lot of years now." She's also practicing without a net and it makes her nervous and she seriously wishes Sam would just wake up except he really won't help. Dean will make rude jokes and Sam will take them and there will be another several bricks put into the wall the two of them have been building and tearing down for years now, because Sam will totally let Dean get away with this shit, no matter what it costs him. He's all but given up trying to convince Dean of what and how much his brother means to him. Actions and words…they should be enough but they aren't.

Her pushing this is a lot for Sam, if not herself, but also for Charlie, who adores her father like he's a living god, as do her own girls. Dean never quite knows what to do with that either, so certain he's going to fuck it up or disappoint or somehow repeat the mistakes he made with Sam. It's an endless loop, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Too close, both of them. Too much history, shared pain, shared failures and both again that they've never shared. So alike and different at the same time.

"One of these days, you’ll have to admit that Sam loves you as much as anything or anyone in his life."

He looks at her sharply again, suspiciously almost, then shakes his head. "Don't say that. You, the girls…that's how it should be."

She smiles at him. "It's all the same to him. It's all the same to us. God, Dean…if anyone knows about Sam's capacity to love, it's you. You taught him that -- he got that all from you. He came to me fully-loaded."

He can't even take that, but he wants to believe it, she can see it in the way he looks toward the stairs and something else clicks into place. "You know, I never really talked to Danielle about it, about you…it didn't make any sense at the time. I thought it was the job, or just the fact that you -- sometimes, you can be more like your Dad than I think you realize. And Danielle is kind of…well, high maintenance, I think is the polite term. Wants all your attention. But it wasn't the job, was it? It was Sam."

Scarlet flares along Dean's throat and up into his cheeks and he looks down. "Now you're analyzing my failed marriage?"

"No," she shakes her head. "I think I'm just getting a grip on why my own works so well."

"You are unbelievable," he says and there's as much admiration as lingering anger there. "So…all this progressive liberal marriage thing you've got going, here--" he stops and shakes his head. "Sarah. I -- whatever that was last night. It's still twisted. And it's wrong. Even for us."

"Compared to what? Compared to spending four nights over six years in a nursery waiting to see if a fire demon would come murder our children or kill me or Danielle? Twisted and wrong is kind of relative at this point, don't you think? And it's not the first time we've shared a bed or even each other," she reminds him.

"That was different. That was a long time ago and you guys weren't married then and Sam and I…." There's no blush this time, and he's right that it was a long time ago. He and Sam hadn't even kissed and had barely touched as she recalled, although she wasn't entirely sure since she probably been as out of it as any of them; high on adrenaline and fear after the first hunt she'd gone on and then, between the two of them, so completely overwhelmed by pleasure and sensation it was a wonder she didn't have a stroke at the grand old age of twenty-five. It had only happened the once and funny how it was that she and Sam had decided then to see if there was any way for them to actually make them work, but even then he'd needed to make sure Dean was okay.

She remembered telling him, of course you do, and meaning it. Had meant it then and ever since.

And Dean had kissed her cheek when he left, like they hadn't spent the night before tangled up with and in each other. It hadn't been awkward, because Dean had cracked a joke first thing and brought them both breakfast then disappeared so she and Sam could talk.

“What happened to you, Dean?” she says softly, and she knows immediately that she’s asking for more and different intimacy than they’ve already shared, but knows also that she has more license to say and do things - and get an honest response - than almost anyone else in his life. Why that is, she hasn’t bothered to evaluate, because it’s good enough that it is.

The look on his face for just an instant reminds her of the tightly controlled panic she saw while they were guarding Allie’s crib at six months. There were the requisite jokes - just make sure you don't own a white nightgown and you should be fine - but behind that, behind Sam’s predatory calm was Dean’s inability to be still. He’d been a wraith in the hallway, back and forth through the house, silently challenging the dark. She had barely seen him that night but had felt his presence, and he’d met her eyes only once from the hallway. To the day she died she would maintain that she saw flames reflected in his eyes. A four year old boy had been handed an infant and told to run, and the flames that had changed his life would always be there. She'd had a surface understanding of what he would do for Sam prior to then. That night, she understood with her heart as well as her mind that he would kill or die without hesitation for her, for Sam, for their child.

He’s already got his attention back on his coffee cup but she can tell he knows what she means by the question. She already understands that he was locked in; and he knows Sam was able to explain that much, at least. She wants to know how and why.

“Sam locked me in the first time,” he says distantly. “He didn’t mean to.” He clears his throat. “He had to. I was...I know he hasn’t told you about it. And I don’t know a lot of it, he’s stuck with it all. Everything I am kept getting out, and it was close me up or lose us both. There’s not supposed to be a way for me to do it. Sam’s...” He pauses and she doesn’t prompt him because he’s having such a bad time just standing there saying any of it at all. “Sam’s the only one with the keys. Sam’s always been the only one with the keys. Like we were built that way.”

“It would take something pretty bad for you to shut down,” Sarah says, so softly that he barely hears her, trying to stay in the background, but he hears enough.

“Even when bones burn down to ash, when they've calcined, there’s still a way to figure out who it was and how they died if the pattern is still there,” he says. “If they haven’t been disturbed.”

She waits; she knows the things he and Sam have done still haunt and that sometimes the things Dean still does make him crash in their guest room when Charlie’s with Danielle because alone is still one thing Dean has never learned or tolerated. He shouldn’t have to.

“We burned so many bones in our time,” Dean says with a smirk that comes by rote only. “Never had to burn kids, though.” He sips his coffee to give himself something to do, and Sarah swears she sees an instant of the same flames she saw nearly a decade earlier. “That’s all I can stand, Sarah,” he says, and this time she lets him go, lets him back off from the conversation he doesn't want to have.

But not from her. She steps in close and meets his eyes, watching the tension flare through his face and body even though he doesn’t move. He's still taller than her although not by as much as Sam, so it's kind of nice not to have to get on tiptoes to press her mouth to his. Her hand slips under his open shirt to palm the warm skin and his heart beats fast and unsteadily under her fingers. There's surprise there, shock, but Sarah's a patient woman. She moves her mouth lightly over his, then along his jaw, coming back to his lips when he opens his mouth to say something.

She's sneaky too and she's got her tongue in his mouth before he can do much more than stutter and squeak. His hands come up to gently push her away even as he tilts his head down to kiss her back.

But she pulls back first, and it's not as easy as it sounds.

She loves Sam with everything that's in her. Had fallen hard and fast and so solidly that even after doing nothing but thinking about him for a few years, when she'd finally seen him again, any doubts had been settled the first time he smiled at her, the first time those big hands had spread warm and gentle over her face again. He'd bent to her then pulled her up to his level. He'd never let her slip down again and not even through the worst times with the man in front of her, had Sam ever treated her like she was anything less than fully a part of this, of him, of them.

Dean's ex could have had that too if she'd trusted Dean a little more.

Dean's not her rival, never has been. He's as much a part of Sam as her husband's smile or his laugh, or the big hands she loves so much. Dean's behind every grin, every practical joke, every ounce of reverence Sam had when he held each of their daughters in his hands only minutes after they were born.

Physical intimacy between she and Dean has never been the issue, even though it's only happened once. But Dean's made his own home in her heart over the years, separate from Sam, a place all his own. Gratitude carved it out first, for giving her Sam - and that's almost more literal than not because Dean had pushed Sam toward her when Sam's own fears got the better of him. When grief and loss had threatened to empty Sam of everything, Dean had held the cup and showed Sam how to fill it up again. But gratitude gave way quickly to genuine like, to admiration and respect, to adoration for Dean's own sake, maybe because she only ever saw him in the context of Sam.

But no matter how charming and charismatic they were separately, together they burn brightly enough to make her eyes water.

But still, all by himself, Dean is quite capable of making her heart beat a little faster. They've been playing and flirting for years, alternately revving each other up and slapping each other down. It's always been safe. It still is, she knows.

His hands tighten on her arms, question in his eyes and she smiles suddenly, kisses him quick and then pushes him toward the middle of the kitchen. "You should go up. Don't let him wake up alone."

And still he hesitates.

Sarah shoves him again. "It's not me he's been worried about, and believe me, what happened last night? If he'd been worried about me then, it wouldn't have happened. I know where I stand with Sam," she says with a smirk.

She can almost see it click over in his brain. Not all of it, but enough that he's finally getting that there's no trespass if the territory's not marked.

Dean stares at her hard, then comes back and wraps an arm around her waist, pulling in her in close. Kisses her hard then soft: one for her, one for Sam. "I'm glad one of us had brains enough to marry you."

"And we all know where the brains of this family reside," she said. "And it's not in either of you two morons. Go on. I'll bring up breakfast."

Dean tops off his coffee cup then kisses the top of her head before heading upstairs.

For all her words, she still stalls as long as she dares. She regrets none of it and none of it was less than the truth, but it's different and it's strange and if there's going to be an adjustment made, no matter how intermittently or minor, she's going to have to be the one to stay ahead of it. The patterns between Dean and Sam are ingrained and well trodden and disrupting them won't be easy.

It's not even the physical part or the, God help them all, moral part of it that will be difficult for her. And she really isn't expecting Dean to either move in or show up on some random Friday night and ask if he can borrow Sam for an up-against-the-wall fucking between brothers.

Physical is what it is, not why it is. If Sam's highly erratic psychic episodes were even slightly more under his control or even more useful for anything but bringing him pain and portending utter disaster, he'd have found a way years ago to give Dean what he needed without doing any more than resting a hand on the back of his neck.

She had watched Sam last night, sitting quiet and still, alternately amazed and maybe even a little tiny bit resentful that he could shut her out so entirely to focus on Dean. The resentment hadn't lasted past Sam's first softly uttered, "Dean, please," because Sam wasn't entirely sure he could fix this, undo whatever had been done, untangle the knots Dean had wrapped so tightly around himself somehow that he couldn't get out.

She'd seen Sam terrified before. Seen it in him practically from the first moment they met and that level of fear was rarely for himself. It had been for her when they met-- what he thought he brought with him, terrified that the only thing he had to offer her was pain and a horrifically fiery death, and yes for himself as well because he'd already lost someone he loved once and then only recently. He wasn't too keen on doing it again.

She'd seen that same fear and worse on his face when Charlie called, even though she'd heard none of it, could only tell by the pitch and change in Sam's voice. She knew Dean had just come off a job, had made it back in time to pick up his five-year-old daughter, who was possibly the best cure for anything that Dean ever saw or did in his work. Forensic Anthropologists sometimes saw ugly things, but Dean had already seen plenty of ugly in his life. Charlie was everything good and bright and worthwhile in his life.

Sam hadn't been able to go with him on this job, whatever it was. He'd spent a long, frustrating day in court, on a case that didn't turn out nearly as well for his clients as he'd hoped and he took it as a personal affront and failure every time he couldn't convince the system through common decency and reason to be less cold toward the people he represented.

He hadn't even been able to explain much, the day's stress giving way to frantic purpose. "Dean's in trouble. I'm going over there. Stay on the phone with Charlie," was all he'd offered, grabbing his keys and heading out the door without even a kiss. "Yeah-Yeah? Aunt Sarah's gonna stay on the phone with you, sweetheart. You just talk to her and I'll be there as fast as I can."

That's all she got. "Charlie? I'm here, honey. Uncle Sam's on his way. What happened?" she asks even though she knows that the facts are likely to be distorted through a five-year-old's perception and understanding of the world, but she's had practice parsing such details out from her own girls.

Charlie doesn’t cry. She's spunky and stubborn and chatty and has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger like a well-trained dog. So she doesn't cry but her voice isn't too steady even if she sounds more confused than scared. "Daddy said he was locked up and then he fell and I called Uncle Sam and now…now I think Daddy's asleep, but he won't wake up."

She understood Sam's terror then, no matter what had happened. It had to be serious or sudden or both for because Dean would crawl through a minefield blindfolded and bleeding before he'd let anything happen to Charlie or endanger her in any way.

Charlie couldn't tell her much of anything else and Sarah only talked to her, got her to talk back and a couple of times it almost seemed as though Dean came back around or whatever, because Charlie would talk to him instead. It took everything Sarah had to stay calm, to make sure Charlie took the phone with her when she decided she wanted her juice box on the table.

When Sam finally took over and promised to call her back, she spent a good five minutes fighting back tears of just stress before being distracted by her own girls coming down to look for a dinner Sarah had only barely just started.

Sam did call her once he had Dean and Charlie securely in the car and on the way home and still couldn't -- or didn't -- offer her much of an explanation.

She met them in the driveway, the girls with her, a bundle of chatter and curiosity and thank God for them because after initial questions and Sam just assuring them all that Uncle Dean just didn’t feel well and that Mommy and Daddy would take care of him, Allie had grabbed up all the power and authority of being the eldest at eight and led sisters and cousin back into the house because Charlie hadn't eaten supper yet.

Dean had been kind of semi-conscious but not fully aware and helping Sam get him out of the car, she could only wonder if Sam had carried him down from his second floor apartment or if Dean had been more alert then. Even with both of them supporting his weight, getting Dean upstairs to where all the bedrooms were located was awkward and Sam still had to take most of Dean's weight. That he'd put Dean in their room instead of the guest room didn't make sense until later and had more to do with making sure the girls didn't intrude more than necessary and access to a bathroom not shared by the three other bedrooms in the house.

Sarah settled the girls and kept them occupied with the rest of their dinner and then sorting them out for bed and stories and before tentatively tapping on the door so Charlie could tell her father goodnight. Dean looked to be sleeping but Sam hadn't stopped his niece, had let her climb up on the bed and kiss Dean and then carried her back to her cousin's room himself to put her in bed and kiss his daughters good night.

"This could…" he stopped outside their bedroom, leaning against the wall, voice low.

"What is this?" she asked gathering his flailing hands in her own. "What's wrong with him? Is he sick or is it…?" something else, something they talk about only rarely.

"I don't know if I can explain it, it's a…a..." he chuckles dryly and without humor. "It's kind of like my visions but only it’s all turned around for him, like locking himself inside himself and no way out. I don't know what triggered it or why now. The job he was on probably but…"

"How do we get him out?" she'd asked because it was a waste of time and energy to be even slightly skeptical of all that Sam and Dean had known or seen.

He'd pulled her hands to his lips. "It's kind of like when you asked me to untangle all the knots in your necklaces," he says. "It might take me awhile and…it takes…I have to kind of get inside him and get him to recognize me," he said which was less direct than Sam usually was. "I can't always do that with my head alone."

Oblique and revealing all at once both in that Sam already knew what this was. He'd not so much asked her permission as given her a heads up. He'd do what ever it took, but she already knew that.

"Can I do anything?"

He kissed her then, hard and full and grateful. "I brought them here because I need to…I couldn't look after Charlie and Dean at the same time."

She'd understood, kissed him back and set to securing the house and the phones while Sam went back to his brother.

It had taken hours, hours while Sarah left the door cracked so she could see inside, or hear if Sam needed something. She sat on the steps so she could see the girls's rooms, too much reminded of Dean hovering in the hallway outside Allie's room when she was an infant.

It wasn't until Sam spoke his brother's name with less pleading and more relief that she'd gotten up and checked on them more closely.

Dean had finally opened his eyes, glassy and unfocused but more or less aware, she could almost feel the tension snap through Sam like a whip, the jerking back of everything he was, before Dean could even register the intrusion.

Sam had gotten up to get Dean some water and asked Sarah to stay.

She'd never seen Sam look so devastated in her life, so much so, she'd been worried about him. "Sam?” Just by speaking his name, she’d asked all the questions she needed to; are you okay, did it work, what can I do.

"Yeah. He's…it'll take a while but he's…he'll be okay," he said, voice shaking even though he was trying to be steady and calm. "It's just…kind of like our whole lives taken in one huge combined dose, just for a moment. It's just a little overwhelming."

There was more to it than that, Sarah knew, but neither Sam nor Dean had been in any shape to even try and explain it to her.

Sam wasn't a man to break easily and he didn't then, but it was damn close and it took Sarah a little while to realize it wasn't from relief that Sam had managed to bring Dean back from whatever rabbit hole he'd fallen into, but in how Sam had managed it.

But still, he'd come back with water and sat back on the bed next to Dean on the opposite side for Sarah and held Dean up while he drank, steadied Dean's shaking hands on the glass.

She didn't think Dean even realized she was there at first and even so, he'd taken no liberties, hadn't pressed toward what later she'd realize they both needed, maybe Sam even more than his brother.

The first kiss had been chaste and pressed to Dean's forehead with no more sexual tone to it than Sam used when kissing the girls goodnight. The same with the hands that rubbed along Dean's arms and his legs, the same way Sam rubbed Allie's legs through growing pains and Sarah didn't even have to reach far to know he'd gotten that from Dean as well, rather than his father.

She'd never really understood why -- both of them so tactile, so easy with the touches and the hugs, with everyone but each other. It was nothing for either one of them to have two or three or even four little girls clambering all over them like their own personal jungle gyms. Sam had spent as many nights pacing the floor with colicky babies as she ever had and Dean had been the same. It's a wonder any of the girls learned to walk by normal ages the way they were carried around.

But with each other, there were punches and slaps and occasionally the light touch of hands to arms or neck, but always brief, rarely lingering. The only time they ever really held onto each other that she'd observed was when Sam had one of his God-awful visions, when he needed something to hold onto, ground himself with. She'd watched him leave bruises on Dean's arms and Dean held on just as tightly, afraid Sam might shatter if he didn't.

Maybe it made a little more sense now.

But the rest had made sense only gradually because Dean was awake, his eyes were open anyway, but obviously not entirely with them, the way his answers to Sam's softly voiced questions were answered slowly and with as many non sequiturs as anything that made sense. Then Dean's eyes had started to drift closed again and Sam had been close to panicking, like whatever he had done hadn't taken, hadn't held.

He hadn't even looked at her, only leaned close, almost like he was going to start breathing for Dean. It had been both less and more that, the way one hand had framed Dean's face and jaw, the other resting light and soft on his shoulder and throat, thumb right above the pulse point.

That kiss had been not quite chaste but also still less than sexual, no matter that Sam had coaxed Dean's mouth open rather than just brushing his lips.

She knew that kiss. Knew the adoration that went with it; she'd been on the receiving end often enough. It never occurred to her to be appalled or even jealous -- surprised yes, shocked, followed hard by the realization that whatever Sam had done hadn't been enough, in and of itself.

Dean had brought up a hand then, shaking, like he didn't have full control of it but he'd managed to wrap a hand around Sam's wrist. The other had slid along Sam's bent thigh and flexed there, them moved to Sam's waist, clumsy fingers trying to find skin under Sam's shirt.

She'd thought to leave then, to get up and ease out of the room, too many conflicting instincts and thoughts inside there to keep her still, seeing something she wasn't sure she should or that she even had the right to, or that she wanted to, because yes, it did occur to her that this was her husband and his brother.

But then Sam had flung a hand out for her, a silent plea for help, and she had been willing to take it.

That would never change.

That he needed her there, more than anything else kept her close. Whether as witness or support or to anchor Sam; she wasn't sure. She didn't even have a conscious thought about how far this would go or if or how she could be of any help at all. She only saw that Sam's hands rested on Dean's face and bare chest and that Dean was holding onto Sam's wrist like a life line. His eyes were open again, but they were glazed and dazed and not entirely focused. Sam's weren't either any longer, and she tucked that thought away for later knowing that he'd been utterly focused on her just moments ago.

Contact seemed to be the key here, at the moment, and bits of trivia about hypothermia and sickly newborn babies both being helped by skin on skin rattled through her brain, and she followed Dean's hand to where it clutched at Sam's shirt.

Easy enough to pull Sam's shirt of out his jeans but if she thought it was Dean who needed the contact most, she was mistaken, because it was Sam who sucked in a sharp breath when his brother's hand slid along the smooth curve above Sam's hip.

Buttons next, first on Sam's shirt then Dean's, her fingers darting in between the stretch and press of arms and hands without disturbing the contact and hoped it was enough because the only way to get the shirts off them was if they let go of each other and that didn't look like it would happen any time soon.

Sam was half kneeling on the bed, one knee bent and thigh and hip pressed close to Dean's side. He'd bent over, curled in on himself and over Dean, close enough to breathe the same air but resting none of his weight on his brother. He'd been like that for awhile -- whatever this was wouldn't be rushed, what movement there was between them was incremental and cautious, but Sam was bearing the brunt of the physical strain and Sarah found herself rubbing his lower back like she did when it bothered him and it would if he stayed like that much longer. She tried to find a way to coax him to lay down instead that wouldn't disturb whatever was happening between them and found it easier than she expected when Sam shifted and then stretched, never letting go, letting Sarah guide him down on his side and drawing Dean with him.

Later it would occur to her that it's the fact that her touch is so familiar and welcome and so much a part of Sam's experience that he doesn’t need to draw conscious attention to it at all.

She wasn't sure how long they all stayed that way, how long she remained tucked in near the head of the bed, one hand resting lightly on Sam's neck and the other resting on the pillow above Dean's head, not sure if her touch on him would be as welcome or inconsequential as it was with Sam. And maybe she half drowsed, before both sound and movement allowed her to focus.

They only moved a little, but without her noticing it, Dean had maneuvered a leg between Sam's, their bodies closer together than they were. Sam was actively stroking along Dean's neck and shoulder and back under his shirt; their mouths moving against each other in slow, moist kisses.

All else aside it was possibly the most erotic thing she'd ever seen and there was a flush burning through her face and warmth pooling in her belly. She started to ease up again, seeing Dean's eyes were more fully focused even if Sam's were a little glassy and there was no mistaking the signs of arousal even if she didn't know him so well.

It was Dean's hand that curved around hers at the back of Sam's neck and his gaze that locked with hers.

Aware or not, she'd never seen him so unguarded, so exposed in ways she couldn't even categorize. She did the only thing she could, or would right then, and bent down to press her lips to his forehead tasting sweat and heat there, before kissing Sam, just where his neck met his shoulder and where Dean's hand rested.

Then she got up and left the room quietly.

She looked in on the girls, tucked them in again unnecessarily, checked the locks on the house that she'd set hours ago and wondered if she just shouldn't crawl in with Allie and Charlie.

But she wasn't really tired despite the long hours she'd been sitting vigil on Sam and Dean and in the end she sank down again, outside the bedroom door and tried to pretend she couldn't hear the sounds of movement beyond. When it went quiet she waited some more before easing the door open.

The lights were still on, though low, and their clothes were a mixed tumble of jeans and shirts, belts and socks on the floor beside the bed. Dean was on his stomach, eyes closed, dark lashes fanned across still too pale cheeks like bruises. One arm was tucked under his pillow like he still kept a blade there. Sam was spread across his back, chin tucked and cheek against Dean's shoulder, but his eyes were open and he looked both utterly exhausted and at peace at the same time.

He didn't need to say anything and she didn't need more than the lift of his hand to come to the bed and catch his fingers. Tired or not he's still strong enough to pull her in, rolling slightly away from Dean, but his free hand still rested on his brother's shoulder like even then contact was important.

Before she could even ask, Sam's mouth was on hers, pressing both affection and gratitude against her lips more clearly than any whispered words.

She kissed him back, stroked his hair, which was getting long again. She tasted salt on his skin and closed her eyes when his mouth moved from her lips to her throat and his arm pulled her in close when he nuzzled the upper curve of her breast then rested there, his head pressed to her skin just below her chin.

"Is it okay?" she asked, knowing it had to be mostly okay at least.

He let go of Dean to wrap both of his arms around her. "Yeah. It's okay."

She sat for a little while just petting him, feeling him relax under her hands, casting a glance over at Dean where he slept. Sam was half asleep himself but she moved before he could drop off entirely, getting a bleary, blurry protest. "Shhhhh…" she said. "just give me a minute."

She didn't bother to do much more than shed her clothes and pull on one of Sam's pajama tops -- quirk of marriage that he wore the bottoms and she the tops -- then flipped off all but one low light in the master bath. Returning to the bed, she expected Sam to be asleep but he still wasn't, fatigue not entirely canceling out whatever tension was still running under his skin, or whatever worries were still spinning in his brain. Dean had moved only slightly, turning his head toward Sam's back, like even in sleep he needed to orient toward his brother.

She couldn't miss the musky, sharp scent of sex lingering on Sam's skin or on her sheets and she found the confirmation more reassuring than anything which was odd, but not alarming, as was the way his hands moved over her skin, along her thighs and belly, moving the pajama top out of his way to press a kiss to her belly. Adrenaline or worry or too clear images of things she didn't see rekindled the warmth deep inside, the thrum of arousal, the marked need in Sam and maybe in herself, to reclaim what was between them, only that hadn't felt quite right.

It didn't matter, really, then or ever, because Sam's mouth was on her skin and his fingers slid up and under her top, calloused thumb drawing a line of pleasure along the underside of her breast to her nipple until it was hard and peaked. He mouthed it through the cloth, leaving her skin damp and sending a tingle and surge through her blood; a damp readiness spreading between her thighs.

He didn't bother pushing the shirt off her, only unbuttoned it, spreading the cloth wide to get to her skin again, his other hand sliding and curving under the waistband of her panties to cup and stroke the sensitive dampness there. Only when she was shuddering against him did he lift his mouth to hers, kissing her deep and hard, tongue sweeping across her lips and into her mouth in the same rhythm and depth as his fingers stroked and parted and teased the soft folds of flesh until she was gasping and rocking against him when orgasm flashed through her like heat lightning, spreading the sensation all the way to her fingertips.

"Ladies first," he whispered against her throat and she could feel the smile there, one private joke, intimate and still thrilling even after ten years and three babies.

"I'm no lady," she whispered back against his forehead and hair, still shaking a little but she could feel him hard against her hip, and the proof was in the way she helped him pull her panties off, his hand stroking along her leg all the way to her ankle before moving back up.

Sam's mouth followed his hand and Sarah put her head back, tracing patterns on his back, flexing her leg against the hard rise of his cock, encouraging without hurrying him and rolled her head when he licked and nipped at her knee.

She caught only a flash of reflected light and it had taken a moment to register the fact that Dean had closed his eyes again, feigning sleep so as not intrude or disturb or bring attention to himself.

Sam's mouth tickled and she wanted to laugh, the whole of it both absurd and funny and sweet, and instead she reached over and slid her fingers through Dean's hair, stroking and then tugging a little when he kept faking sleep. She stopped Sam's mouth by virtue of sliding her thumb over his lower lip and tugging his chin up, glancing down to catch his eye, the darkness not so pronounced that she missed his expression.

She thumped Dean's forehead with thumb and forefinger.

"Ow," he said, not from pain but mostly just to admit surrender. His eyes opened, sweeping up along Sam's back to her face. "Awkward."

"Only because you're over there." Sam's voice rumbled somewhere close to her hip and he reached back, able to only barely touch Dean from the way he was twisted on the bed.

Sarah tugged at Dean's hair again and he lifted his head and pushed up with more will than strength until he was on his side against Sam's back

She could see it in his face, the start of a protest, doubt, and it was no surprise Dean felt more awkward than either Sam or Sarah, odd man out, only he wasn't.

Sarah was half-way thinking this through and then abandoned thought and went with instinct, rolling toward Sam, reaching for Dean, and she got fingers on his mouth and then her lips on his before he could find anything else sarcastic to say.

There was only the barest hesitation, second and third and thirtieth thoughts rolling through him in the flash of an instant, before he pressed up, pressed Sam between them and kissed her back and Sarah wondered if Dean taught Sam to kiss too, because they were both awfully damn good at it.

Whatever doubts he might have had eased or got shoved aside when they parted and Sam twisted and settled back, then reached up to just barely brush fingers along Dean's jaw.

She was almost glad Dean dropped his gaze then, that she only had to catch a little of what she saw there; hunger and need and want so deep and old that she suspected it was more like memory than actual desire. And not so much for Sam alone or even her, but for what they had, what they'd built, and God, how Dean could not know he was the foundation all of it was constructed on, Sarah still didn't and would never understand.

She left her hand on Dean's hair when he bent his head, kissing Sam lightly, carefully, until either something in Sam or in the way Sarah stroked his hair gave him whatever permission he needed to give into this, here and now, for now, and his hand slid across Sam's chest to rest over his heart.

It freaked her out a whole lot less than it probably should have, or maybe not, given what she knew about their lives, their lifestyle up to and after she'd met them. Her traditional and somewhat strict upbringing had predictably given her ample room to rebel if for no other reason that to shock her parents, and her studies at a prestigious art school had certainly encouraged less strict adherence to the norms of the social and economic set she'd grown up with.

The first time she'd seen either of them, the demented spirit of a dead child had murdered people she knew, had come damn close to killing both her and Sam as well. The next time she actually spent any time with them she'd ended up watching Dean put twenty neat stitches across Sam's lower back from the claws of something she didn't even know could exist, much less be killed with their odd combination of luck and skill.

There was a point where constantly courting death tended to put things in perspective, for good or bad. Dean and Sam weren't like other people, weren't like other brothers, and while she refused to use Dean's insistent classification of them as freaks, she was also pretty clear that Normal Rules Need Not Apply.

Part of her still wanted to bolt and run, because actually understanding how close they were on a gut level was still more distant than actually watching it expressed, and she understood why Dean felt he was intruding on something.

Only Sam had two hands and a big heart and he reached for both of them with the  steadiness and purpose that marked pretty much everything he did from fighting a legal system for those who need it to teaching Allie how to ride her bike.

She heard Dean hiss softly against Sam's shoulder, Sam reaching behind him and down at the same time he rolled over to press a kiss to the top of her thigh and lick there, fingers moving once more against her, into her. His lips and tongue painted little sigils of pleasure on her, and she found herself lifting her hips to his mouth, her own hand stroking over her already sensitive breasts before a larger, warmer hand joined her and it wasn't Sam who pinched gently or thumbed a tight nipple.

And this she remembered from a night long ago, before anything was said or settled or promised or even really known, caught between the two of them and that memory surge of adrenaline flooded through her when she gripped Dean's face, opening her mouth under his, spreading her thighs under Sam's mouth until every muscle tightened and coiled and released suddenly like a shot from a gun.

Big hands gripped her hips and waist and drew her down on the bed a little and she almost lost track of whose hands and mouth offered what to her, but she knew it was Sam who lifted her thigh and slid into her, easy and slow and familiar and perfect, and so soon after that it took nothing all to start building again. She needed something to hold onto and her fingers closed over a muscled forearm. She opened her eyes to Sam's, reaching up to touch his face and his mouth and saw Dean's arm wrapped around Sam's chest from behind, fairer hair catching glints of reflected light.

Sam pushed in measured thrusts, slow and steady even though his breathing wasn't, and she could feel the extra push and hitch of his hips, an extra tension and tightening before he relaxed and his eyes went unfocused when he held still for a moment, buried deep inside her, but trembling, waiting for something that registered only slowly on her senses.

Only when Sam lifted his head, a brief hiss of pain and a soft moan stuttering out of him, and then the sharp drive of his hips forward again did she realize he'd been waiting for Dean.

Waiting for Dean to make a place in all this, in Sam, and the shifting rhythm of Sam's breathing and in his body made sudden blinding and painfully perfect sense.

She only had that moment to recognize what was happening, to understand that before she'd been the one caught between the two of them, and now it was Sam.

And maybe that made more sense or was more right that the other. Only it didn't matter because imagery and sensation had taken over, extra urgency and need in both of them to keep from crushing her under their combined weight. But looking at them she thought she could pull strength from what she saw there and hold the whole world up.

They moved together like they did when they hunted or fought, and they carried her along as they ever had and always would. There was no doubt at all that Sam saw her, made love to her as well as his brother, expressing and claiming everything that was his and hers and theirs. There was no doubt that Dean understood, at least then, that there were no invalid claims here, given or taken or offered.

Accepting that was far easier than she'd ever imagined and she'd pushed up as much as she was able, kissing Sam and reaching for Dean with the only thing she could; fingers to his mouth and in and she felt the gentle pressure of his bite before he urged Sam on, all of them close to the breaking point, physically and emotionally.

Sam was the first to surrender, head dropping and arms trembling as he pressed into her, deep and desperate, but she heard Dean swear and groan and it was the feel of his hand right there, right where Sam fit into her body that sent her tumbling after him, arching up, Sam pushing down and in and it was wet and warm and messy and Sarah knew what falling off a cliff felt like.

Pulling themselves apart had less finesse and control than anything prior and Sam's mouth on hers was more like breathing fast quick breaths into her than kissing her.

Dean's kiss had a little more purpose than that and she drifted off with Sam's head on her stomach and Dean's head close to hers on the pillow and three hands clasped together on Sam's chest.

Funny how it felt like it had always been that way.


Memory of it doesn't bring a blush to her cheeks but she does feel her lips curl up in a smile when the toast and the pop tarts come up warm and sweet and the second pot of coffee finishes and is moved to a carafe less like to spill or go cold. The toast and fruit are for she and Sam and the pop tarts hidden high out of the line of sight for the girls to keep them from emulating their uncle's unabashed preference for anything sweet and gooey for breakfast.

She's not surprised that Sam's awake but is a little to find him half-dressed, (if pajama bottoms count) and the bed stripped and remade however haphazardly. They aren't touching despite both being sprawled across the bed; or Sam is and Dean's half sitting against the headboard, pillows piled high.

Close enough to touch but not actually doing so, nor any jerky movement like she's interrupted something. Sam is finishing the last of Dean's coffee and both of them look…well…content comes to mind first, then tired, and not from their early morning sexual intimacies. Dean's still too pale despite his clear gaze and Sam's still hollow-eyed with a tiny furrow between his eyes that usually presages a headache unless he can stave it off. Food will actually help that and she slides the tray and herself across the open expanse of sheets.

Dean plucks a still-warm frosted pop-tart from the plate with a grin. "You so love me," he says and she grins.

"Yes, I do," she says simply and then kisses Sam to keep Dean from having to shift his gaze away from her face. She should just say that more often, often enough that he stops flinching from it. It's a plan.

Small bodies are a better plan and it's Charlie first, unsurprisingly, Sarah catching sight of her at the door and smiling, beckoning her in.

Charlie's only got eyes for her father. She doesn't run, except the last few steps when Dean sees her and sets aside cup and pop tarts and any restraint on physical affection to scoop her up and reassure her that he's fine now and she'd done good, in the whispered and sometimes silent language of fathers and daughters.

The other three aren't far behind; Charlie's presence invitation enough to come in and clamber on the bed, Leigh carrying a half unfolded fresh pull-up panty and proud of herself for getting the old, and no doubt wet, one off with no help.

God only knows where she left it.

The girls aren't quite as boisterous as they can be, sensing if not knowing that something Not Good had happened but reassured by parents who aren't sad or tense. Sam ends up with Mary lying on his back and Allie all propped up and mature in front of him telling him how she'd tried to get Charlie to stay in bed but…

And Leigh is all fresh panties and three fingers in her mouth and still sleepy against Sarah's chest until…

"Pop tart!"

"Not for breakfast," Sarah says quickly because they are only ever for treats and one cut up three ways.

"Uncle Dean had it--"

"Uncle Dean was sick…"

"I'm hungry…pancakes!"

"Me too," That from Dean with an expectant look in his gaze that's only half sincere. Sarah rolls her eyes, but it's Sam who moves until Dean thumps him on the head. "I'll make them. The girls will help, right?"

The chorus of "yeses" is near deafening and Sam still gets up eyeing Dean, but he looks pretty steady on his feet and Sarah slips an arm around Sam's waist. "Let him," she says, grinning at the picture Dean presents of pied piper to a pack of little girls, Leigh balanced expertly on his hip.

"They're going to make a mess," Sam warns but leans into her.

"Let them," she says, kissing his neck. "It was kids, you know? That set this off," she says quietly. "Kids he had to identify."

"He told you that?"

"I asked," she said and pinches him. "You should try it sometime."

"I did," Sam says quietly and she smoothes a hand along his arm before pulling him back, stretching him out on the bed again. He's not going to tell her much more than Dean did, if he knows it, at least not now. Maybe sometime when it's less immediate.

"So what happened?"

"On the job? I'm not sure what about it--"

She presses her fingers to his mouth. "No. Not Dean. What happened to you, in there?" She smoothes the little pain furrow between his brows, "With him?" She has every right, she thinks, to know that.

She doesn’t expect the reaction she gets; she doesn't expect guilt, or fear, or that his eyes will become brighter with the moisture that suddenly shows up there.

It scares her.

"Sam?" she asks but he only pulls her down against his shoulder, her head tucked under his chin and his fingers stroking through her hair.

She thinks he isn't going to answer but when he does, it actually doesn't ease the chill on her skin or the ache in her heart.

"I know why Icarus flew toward the sun," he says softly.

And downstairs there's a deep bell peal of laughter, echoed by four smaller chimes.

Sometimes it's so bright her eyes water.



Feedback? Send to maygra @ or comment in my livejournal.

Notes: So, this is unequivocally eighth-horizon's fault, from start to finish. Because first she wrote, And Fools Shine On, and then she wrote If Belief Was Enough…  (Also known as The Month of Open Doors series). AND THEN she wrote me this little side bit of slash for Belief.  And then (like she hadn't done enough damage) she went off and wrote these amazing bits of future fic and married Sam off to Sarah and gave them three girls and married Dean off to Danielle (but it didn't last) but gave Dean a polar opposite mini-me in girl form named Yeah-Yeah in her Salvation and  Happy Ending duet.

Which you know all made me very happy but also begged for at least a little angst and possibly some schmoop and all would have been fine except she launched a threesome plot bunny at my head with a CATAPULT, and I lobbed back a bunny-with-plot-plus and forced her to pony up or no pancakes for her, ever.

It was war, I tell you. And this is the battleground. Please read all the historical markers. There will be a quiz at the end of the tour.

Also, like she didn't already have a strategic advantage we ended up with this whole slash/het/incest thing. The last time I wrote het was in 1997.

So. Anyway, if you haven't read the above stories you don't deserve to live things may be a bit confusing, but if you have, you need to know that this falls after A Month of Open Doors but before either Salvation or Happy Ending. Spoilers for the episode "Provenance". - Maygra

(a/n: All I did was egg her on. Any parts you like are Maygra’s; any parts you don’t like are mine. Also, bunnies like pancakes. – B)