Summary: The world is simpler by the ocean.
Original story: Peace in Our Time, by poisontaster
In the Sound a Thought
Dean stops by the trunk and drops his duffel on the ground. "What?"
"Give me the keys," Sam says, and he holds out his hand like a little kid waiting for a piece of candy. "You could just let me keep them for now, you know."
"Not a chance." Maybe he can't drive -- though he's driven with just one arm before, steering with his knee and reaching to shift in a way that would make a contortionist proud -- but he's not trusting Sammy with the keys except when it's strictly necessary. There are limits.
But it's six in the morning and they spent all night staking out a graveyard, watching for ghouls who never showed, so Dean isn't in the mood to stall. He digs into his pocket and tosses the keys to Sam, stands back and watches while Sam opens the trunk and loads it, then goes around to the passenger side to open Dean's door for him.
Amused, Dean says, "You're such a gentleman. You gonna put your jacket over the puddle for me too?"
With that clever retort, Sam slips in behind the wheel and starts the car. He pulls out of the cemetery parking lot just as the caretaker is pulling in. Dean waves to the guy and Sam rolls his eyes, and the California sun gleams like fire through the windshield.
"I'm hungry," Dean says, watching a string of diners and restaurants pass by.
"Well, the ghouls didn't take much from the graves back there. We can go back for the buffet if you want."
"Very funny." It is, a little bit, but Dean's not about to say so. He fumbles with his sunglasses, rolls the window down and lets the wind brush through his too-long hair. "And I want coffee."
A few minutes later Sam pulls into a Village Inn, and they eat pancakes and hash browns under the watchful eye of an elderly, pink-haired waitress named Kitty. Full stomachs and a couple cups of coffee later, they're back on the road. The caffeine isn't enough; Dean slides down in the seat, trying to find a comfortable position for his cast, and he falls asleep halfway through telling Sam to head back to the motel.
He wakes up again when the car stops and the driver's side door creaks open.
"Home, sweet home," Sam says. "C'mon, let's get cleaned up and go down to the beach."
Dean shoves his door open and steps out. The sign above the parking lot is bright blue and yellow: Ocean Breeze Motel, AC, Free HBO, and the lurid red Vacancy neon is glowing even at midday. The day is warm and smells like exhaust and the ocean. They're far from water, hardly on the coast at all, but the room still costs a hell of lot more than they can afford, and Dean wonders how Sam expects him to hustle pool with one gimpy arm.
"I have a better idea," he says, hovering just behind Sam's shoulder as he unloads their stuff from the trunk. "Let's get cleaned up and go to sleep for twelve hours."
Sam shrugs. "Suits yourself. I'm going to the beach."
Dean grabs one of the bags and follows Sam into their tiny room. There are palm trees on the walls and seagulls on the comforters, but the room is dark and stuffy, dusty blinds blocking out the sunlight and their dirty clothes scattered all around. Dean gets the feeling he's being played like a fucking piano. Sam's obsession with fresh ocean air is bad enough, but now he's pretty sure the motel is secretly in on it as well.
"This beach?" Dean thinks of the crowded mess of a playground closest to their motel, a thousand kids and their parents filling the world with noise, and he scowls. "You couldn't pay me to go to that hellhole."
"No, not this one," Sam tells him. "I know a place."
Of course he does. Dean sighs, trying not to make it too dramatic, and drops his bag on the floor. "Fine," he says. From the corner of his eye he sees Sam grinning. "Give me a minute."
They go to the beach.
The sand is warm and rough, almost a tickle on feet too used to being safely closed in boots and socks. Dean digs his heels down to the damp layer beneath the surface, picks twigs and bits of grass out of the pale grains, thinks about what he would write if he was stranded on a deserted island and messages carved into beach was his only way to communicate. HI THERE. It would depend on the island, on whether or not he wanted to be rescued. If there were coconuts and monkeys and Sam was there to help him build a leafy hut, it might not be so bad. PRIVATE KEEP OUT. A few words fill a pretty big beach.
Sam's shoes and socks are tossed in a jumble a few feet way, and Sam is down by the water, jeans rolled up, waves splashing around his calves. He looks like a castaway already, shaggy-haired and isolated, bending down every few steps to pick up something from the sand. He's no more than thirty yards away but he looks so small, a narrow silhouette dwarfed by the blue-gray expanse of water and cloudless sky. Green hills crouch like animals around the narrow strip of sand, and the only other people around a ways down, lying on blankets or strolling hand in hand.
Dean feels the tension is his shoulders and neck, an awareness that never seems to pass. The low-grade restlessness of the past few weeks is still there, itching under the cast and beneath his skin. His arm aches as a constant reminder, a feeling that they ought to be moving on, doing something besides yawning half-heartedly at easy jobs and waiting for his bones to mend. He knows Sam is picking tasks that do nothing more than pass the time, empty rumors and long shots just to get them out of their depressing motel room, and the charade irks Dean more than the inactivity.
Sam walks back toward him, slow and easy strides over the sand, but Dean looks past him and watches the waves instead. The sun is hot on his face, and he doesn't turn when Sam drops to his knees beside him.
Dean hears the disapproving sigh and wonders what he did wrong this time. "Hey," he replies, and he still doesn't turn.
He hears the squirt of the sunscreen but he isn't prepared for the attack. Suddenly Sam is all over him, leaning close, hands slick with lotion on his face.
"Quit it," Dean demands, and he tries to squirm away.
But he's one-armed and Sam is determined. "Take your sunscreen like a man," Sam snaps. He's holding Dean in place with his legs and swiping his hands along Dean's neck, his touch cold and stinging on Dean's already sun-tender skin. "I'm not going to listen to you whine all night because you're burnt up like a French fry."
"I don't whine." Dean knows full well he's whining like a little bitch, and he makes a face when Sam brushes a thumb over his nose. Dean shivers slightly and closes his eyes and, okay, maybe it's annoying, but this is as good a way as any to get Sam's hands on him, slow and gentle over his skin, long fingers working into the tense muscles of his shoulders and massaging his back.
Sam brushes his lips against Dean's, and Dean opens his eyes and jerks away. "Don't," he says, snapping back to himself and suddenly aware that they're outside, in public where anybody can see.
"Dude." Sam tangles his hand into Dean's hair and leans close again. His voice is teasing and exasperated. "We're in California and no one knows us here, even if they were paying attention." He pauses, and in that pause there's enough Sammy eye-rolling to last them another week or so. "Which they're not."
Another kiss and Dean tries to be stubborn, tries to resist because this is not what they do, not how they do it no matter where they are, but Sam is insistent and patient, working his tongue between Dean's lips, tilting his head back, and, yeah, kissing Sam is good. It's always good, better than it has any right to be with Sam so warm and solid pressed against him, his long hair tickling Dean's face and his knee digging into Dean's leg. He tastes like sunscreen and saltwater, summer sweat and sunshine, and Dean brings his good arm up to hold Sam close.
They part with a gasp, Sam's name a plea on his breath.
"No," Sam whispers. Dean feels a finger pressed playfully to his lips, and Sam's breath is warm against his face. Then Sam is moving around, rearranging their bodies so Dean is settled between his legs. "Shut up, Dean."
Dean doesn't point out that he wasn't saying anything; he doesn't exactly object to being manhandled like this from time to time.
"If you at all plan to get laid tonight, you will sit here and I'm going to put my arms around your neck..."
Okay, that's going too far. But Dean's growl of protest is no more than a token, and he leans back comfortably, relaxing into the pleasant, familiar feel of Sam's bare skin against his back, the reassurance of Sam's arm holding his tight.
Sam finishes softly, "...And we're going to watch the sun go down."
"And then we go back to the hotel and fuck like bunnies, right?" Dean adds, better to clear it up before the both turn into girls for real.
Sam shakes with laughter. "It's a beautiful day," he murmurs, slightly breathless, his lips warm as he presses a kiss to Dean's neck. "Sometimes I forget, how beautiful it is."
His eyes half-closed, Dean leans back and rests his head on Sam's shoulder, idly brushing his fingers over Sam's bare foot, too lazy and relaxed to even think about the tickling he could do. The sun is still sitting above the horizon; the sky is sliding slowly toward twilight and the day is fading. He knows if he turns his head to one side or the other he'll see the few people on the beach, strangers minding their own business, escaping from their own lives, languid and quiet on this shy strip of sand protected by cool green hills.
But he doesn't turn his head. He can feel Sam's heart beating at his back, and he catches his breath, just a second, then exhales in unison with Sam.
It's no tropical island, but it's not a bad way to pass an afternoon.
"It's all right," Dean admits after a moment, and he knows it's the right thing to say when Sam laughs and holds him tighter.
They watch the sun go down.
The rattle of the air conditioner replaces the murmur of the ocean, and the wallpaper palms stand in place of the soft coastal hills. The sand and sunscreen are washed away. There's a small pile of seashells on the bedside table, next to a revolver and a bottle of lube, and Sam is working his way down Dean's chest with a line of slow, open-mouthed kisses.
He starts to say something, and the words sting a little on Dean's sun-pink skin.
"I heard about a thing," Sam says, lifting his head. The lights are off but the street outside is bright enough that Dean can see him clearly, the long line of his neck and laughing curve of his lips, naked and crouched like a really big, really determined cat over Dean and half the bed. "Job, maybe."
"Found a -- what?"
"Job," Sam says again. One of his hands is pressed against Dean's chest, fingers splayed and thumb brushing softly over Dean's nipple, and his other hand is wrapped around Dean's dick, moving in a maddeningly slow rhythm. He leans down again and speaks against Dean's chest. "In South Carolina. Might be interesting."
Dean narrows his eyes. "You want to talk -- oh, god do that again--"
Sam obliges; he lowers his head and scrapes his teeth over Dean's skin. "Haunted country club," he says, flicking his tongue over the patch he just nibbled. "We can pretend to be caddies."
"You want to talk about this--" Dean closes his eyes and arches against Sam's mouth. The awkward shift twinges his broken arm but he doesn't stop, just turns to favor his other side and finishes with a gasp, "--now?"
Sam slides down, drawing his tongue across Dean's belly and teasing at the hair below his navel. "Sure," he mutters. "You keep saying--" and now he's mouthing around the base of Dean's dick and brushing his thumb over the head, "--you want to get back to work."
"Sam," Dean growls through gritted teeth, grabbing at Sam's hair with his good arm.
"It's by the ocean," Sam says, lifting his head just long enough to let the words out. "The Atlantic, I mean, it's--"
"Sam. Shut up."
Sam's laughing when he swipes his tongue along the length of Dean's cock, and he's still laughing when he takes Dean's cock into his mouth, and this is Sam, teasing but focused like there's nothing else in the world, always so steady and sure and strong like the rhythm of the ocean, like being swallowed by the riptide and surrounded.
His laughter rolling through Dean's body like waves, Sam shuts up.