New scene here, and I want to give a little note about this one. I'd wanted to bring Sam into the story at this point, but things just weren't working. I wrote this scene fairly quickly but then spent about a week writing different ways for Sam to enter the story and hating them all. I finally had the sense to talk to my lovely beta janissa11, and thank goodness she's way smarter than I am. Because she sat me down and said that if the story was fighting that hard against Sam coming in at this time, I should listen to it, and that, as far as she could see, the story was already building to a different way to bring Sam in. When she told me that idea, I have to admit, I was floored. I'd never even considered it, but she's right, it makes sense given what's already gone on in the previous scenes. So. Stay tuned for a very exciting scene ten, and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy scene nine!
scenes one and two
He's sweating like a pig, forty minutes of waiting underground for the T and then a twenty-five minute ride jammed up against every resident of Boston, all equally in a rush to get home, get out of there, get gone. It's unseasonably hot; late May should get no hotter than upper 50's, but it's at least ten degrees warmer, and muggy too. At least he's not paying for water - a long, cool shower will relax him, maybe even enough to try to read a little in bed, get back into a habit the stress of school has ground out of him. The books J mailed him are still sitting in a box on the kitchen table, and hopefully one of them will keep his mind from running in circles, the fixed point at the center always Dean.
One breath for every two of his heartbeats, and Ben would know Dean's soft, grinding snore anywhere. There's just enough light spilling in from the window that he doesn't need to flip a switch to make his way over to the bed. Dean's lying curled on his side, knees drawn up to his chest, chin tucked down, left hand locked around his right bicep. He looks completely worn out, vulnerable now that his beauty is a matter only of his bones and carved features instead of sass and flash, and Ben feels his heart split open all over again at the sight.
Dean is back, Dean is here, and Ben ends up rushing his shower just so he can fit himself next to Dean's warm, heavy body, lying on his back and closing his eyes in thankfulness.
He wakes to find Dean on top of him, body tucked in too tight a bundle to be called a sprawl. This close, Ben can see the exhaustion painted on Dean's face, the dull purple shine on his heavy eyelids obliterating the freckles. Mark had said that Dean disappeared from his house after only a few hours of hard sleep and a bowl of corn flakes, and Ben knows that as little rest as Dean snatched on the way to Sam, it's still exponentially greater than what he would have allowed himself once Sam was back under his wing, his responsibility again. If Dean wants to sleep for a week straight, Ben is going to let him do it.
If only he didn't have to piss. He presses an apologetic kiss to the tip of Dean's nose and rolls them over, getting up from the tangle of golden limbs and moss-green sheets with a lazy urgency.
When he comes back, Dean's awake and not looking any better for it. "Hey," Ben says, feeling his dumbest, happiest smile stretching his face. "Didn't mean to wake you. Go back to sleep if you want."
Dean's propped up on his elbow, free hand rubbing tiredly at his face. He shakes his head, looking all of five years old, tumbled hair and sleepy eyes. His amulet is hanging between his shoulder blades, the thin black cord nestled against his throat. "S'alright," he rasps. "'M up. C'mere?"
Ben pulls back the sheet, settles into the same warm spot he'd temporarily abandoned. "Missed you."
Dean looks at him. "Shouldn't."
It's not like he has a choice at this point; Dean is Dean, either present and loved or absent and missed. He needs to figure out how to get that through Dean's thick skull at some point, but right now he needs to listen, not talk. "Wanna -"
"Okay," Dean says, rolling onto his stomach before Ben can finish saying "- tell me?"
No, he wants to shout. I don't want you like this. But there's no denying the temptation offered by scarred, freckled skin, the promise of Dean, familiar and incendiary, beneath him. It's been too long since he had that, too many nights of wondering if he'd ever have that again.
The silence stretches out between them and Dean twists his head to look up at him quizzically. Even that small movement seems to cost him, and Ben can see that the muscles in Dean's back are strung too tight across iron-hard bones.
"I've got you," Ben says, moving to straddle Dean's slim hips, calves bracketing Dean's downy thighs. He works his fingers deep into Dean's warm back and Dean goes still under him.
"God," Dean finally chokes out, then hides his face in his hands as if the pillow isn't enough of a dark corner. He's unbending, though, with each moment of the massage, and Ben waits for him to come back all the way.
Under his hands, Dean begins to talk, words spilling out as if compelled. All in a horribly hollow voice, and for that alone, Ben wants to tell him to spare himself, but the words persist. "Sam didn't sleep." Ben translates that to mean that Dean didn't either, too worried over his baby brother to let go, even for something so necessary. "He kept tossing, kept saying he smelled smoke all over himself, over me, even though I showed up three days after."
Smoke. God, what had happened?
Dean knows where his thoughts are going. "His fiancée died in a fire."
Just like their mother. It's too much to take, but he can't let it be Dean's burden alone. "The wound too?"
"Everything the same. She bled down onto him too." Dean shifts a little but Ben stays steady, pressing into the places where Dean once had wings, his fingers kneading the tension down into soreness. "Thought maybe he didn't want to be in a bed, staring up at a ceiling, so we stayed in the car the second night. But he's too tall, kept kicking, rocking the whole thing. Wouldn't let me just drive away either. Said we had to stay, figure out what'd done this, make it pay." There's a note of love in Dean's voice that rings out clear as a bell even when it's smothered in the agonized hoarseness of his narration. "After a week, he just looked at me like . . . he just said 'Dad' and I gunned it all the way to him."
It might be stupid or it might be a mercy, and he can't tell which way Dean will read an interruption, but he cannot stay silent. Anything to shake the deadness from Dean's voice, as if it's not him that's speaking, but something mortally wounded speaking through him. "Where's your dad now?"
Rolling his shoulders a little, Dean says, "Set up in a place on some land a buddy of his has in southern Illinois." Dean tilts his head from side to side and murmurs, "'M good now."
He's not, not in any way that counts, but Ben swings himself off him and Dean sits up to face him. Kisses him next, a gentle hand on Ben's cheek, and the touch is enough to let Ben know that Dean's not trying to change the subject, just wanted to kiss him, and hope swells again within him, that Dean isn't here to say goodbye.
"Love you," Ben says when there's space between their mouths, and Dean doesn't deny it, joke or sidestep his way out of it.
Dean just nods and lies down, presses his face against Ben's throat, and keeps going. One kiss wasn't enough of a respite; Dean's voice is still scraped painstakingly free of emotion and the words still spill out like automatic writing, but faster now, like Dean's vomiting them up.
"The whole time we're driving, Sam won't say one word, won't talk about his girl or school or, hell, even the weather, if he wants cheese on his burger, nothing. Gets out of the car and sees Dad and it's like he can't talk fast enough, can't even remember how pissed he was when he left, just wants to compare notes. They kept at it for days at a stretch; he'd be shakin', fatigue, hunger, Dad too, the two of them, one thing after another. Sam said he'd dreamt about Jess's death and Dad was writing it all down in his journal, making him go over it again and again, and they wouldn't stop to eat, to sleep, nothing. I kept trying to get them to slow down - they were all gung-ho to run off after this thing and get their revenge, even if it killed them."
Ben can only imagine how frantic Dean must have been, how hurt he would have been to see his care ignored, brushed aside. Dean's monotone pushes relentlessly forward. "And then Sam stopped talking whenever I came into the room. You know that look he gets? - no, you probably don't know, bet he never gets that look because of anybody but me - hell, he was always up for a fight with Dad, but never with me, like what I thought wasn't even worth arguing about. He'd get that you're so dumb, Dean look, that you're just getting in the way, Dean look. So I left. Heard Dad say they were out of some stuff, so I went to Ohio, haggled with Rick, got what they needed." Dean sits up to point to the greasy-looking green duffel shoved under the kitchen table, too full to be zipped shut. "You wouldn't believe the shit that guy carries."
"Dean -" Ben says into the abrupt silence.
Dean twists away like he didn't hear, stretching out to try to snag his shirt and jeans. "Didn't use your card; Rick only takes cash. I should get this stuff to them. They're gonna need it."
"It's your fight too."
And that brings Dean up short, gets him to look Ben dead on, and say slowly, "Yeah. It is."
He tries to make Dean get back in bed, but he insists on helping to make breakfast and uses up pretty much everything in the fridge. Somehow Dean makes it all taste good, and Ben discovers that plotting is much more difficult on a full stomach. He can't muster up any roundabout maneuvers, any jokes about Dean needing his beauty sleep; he just says truthfully that Dean looks like he could use another few days of rest and he'd be much happier if Dean slept. Dean takes a moment to consider that before crawling back into bed.
Three hours into Dean's marathon nap, Ben's phone vibrates. "JW" is the caller; he braces himself and picks up. "Hello?"
"This is John Winchester." The deep voice is calm, the words a little clipped.
"How are you, sir?" He wonders if the air of calm politeness he's assumed is giving anything away. They haven't been phone buddies or anything, but they'd spoken enough to dispense with small talk.
"I - I'm fine, son. Is he there?"
"He's here." Ben knows he wouldn't have appreciated anyone intruding on a fight he was having with his parents, but Dean will never ask for help in opposing his father. No point making it too easy for Dean's dad.
"I . . . Can you tell him, I think I got a lead on this thing. I need him in New Jersey."
"It'll take me two days to get out there, so . . ."
"Yes, sir. I'll tell him you need him." Not that Dean will believe that, but it is a direct quote.
"Thanks." There's a brief pause and then Dean's dad says it again. "Thanks, Ben."
He ends up studying while Dean sleeps, while the day passes by in a blur of textbooks and notes. Dean wakes up at around ten that night, so he passes along the message. Dean just nods and pulls him into bed; Ben has no problem with that plan, even when they end up falling asleep after only a few languorous kisses.
In the morning, it's a different story. Dean looks and sounds better than he has since he heard Sam's tears three weeks ago. Ben's just drifting awake when Dean palms him through his boxer-briefs. "Mmm," Dean says around an unfairly delicious smirk. "What's up, doc?"
Ben pulls him down against him, the friction sweet but unsatisfying until the needy noises Dean's making register. He kisses Dean thoroughly, plays with his pouty lower lip, and smiles against his mouth when Dean gives up the pretense of playing it cool and crushes him close.
Between the two of them, they own my whole heart.