Title: Apologia Infinitum
Summary: As an apology for what he put Sam through, Dean learns how to tattoo so Sam’s anti-possession tattoo is fixed/he has a new one without having yet another stranger touching or having power to do something to him.
Read over on AO3 right here.
Sam notices that Dean’s back to doodling on every available piece of paper. Always with a certain black pen that he’s taken to carrying around. Always drawing this curving unbroken line that has a shape he knows he should recognize. He gives Dean a notebook with blank unlined pages and tells him to stop doodling on the Men of Letters files. Dean’s response is to go bright red and not say anything. No bluster, no jokes, just a silent, red-faced brother who takes the notebook and fills the first page with that same curving familiar unbroken line.
A few weeks later, Sam notices an unfamiliar noise in the Bunker. At first he’s alarmed thinking someone is trying to break through the defenses to get at them, and then he’s worried that one of the old electrical systems is on the fritz. When he discovers that it’s coming from the room next door to the dungeon, he tries the doorknob to investigate and is surprised that it’s locked. The noise stops abruptly and he hears some shuffling inside. Dean tells him to go away, that he’s fine and Sam does, because lately that’s all Dean’s been telling him lately with his body language. The guilt and fear driving Dean away from him faster than anything ever has. Sam leaves the locked door behind wishing he’d never heard the noise in the first place.
On a hunt, he has to grab Dean’s wrist to stop him from getting flung by a ghost out a third story window. Dean cries out in pain and doesn’t stop until Sam’s let go of his wrist. He sees a bandage over the soft underside of Dean’s wrist that’s come undone and a series of dark marks partially hidden underneath. But then the ghost is back and there’s no time for questions. In the car on the way home he tries to apologize, but Dean won’t accept the apology, tells him to drop it.
Sam finally sees what’s on Dean’s wrist when he falls asleep in the car after relenting and letting Sam take a turn on one of their epically long days of driving. Dean’s flannel has ridden up, the cuff has lost its button and the whole of his wrist is bare. There’s writing, but it’s small so he can’t quite make it out while he’s driving. No one is behind him on the road, so he slows down and focuses harder, the words come into focus and he’s so shocked he doesn’t know what to say or do. Those were the words that he said to Dean when he thought Dean was going to kill him with Death’s own scythe. Sam remembers throwing down the pictures on the floor as a last-ditch effort to get through to his brother. And now those words are going to always be right where Dean can see them. He speeds back up and tries to ignore how watery his eyes are.
remember what it was to be good...what it was to love.
That’s all Sam can think about now and he wants to know the details of Dean deciding to get this tattoo. He brings it up after a night of movies and one of the good bottles of whisky from the Men of Letters stash. They’re both in a mellow mood and Sam is tired of feeling the itch of curiosity, it seems important to know why his words are on Dean’s skin permanently.
“So…uh, I saw your new tattoo the other day when I was driving. Where did you get it done?” Sam asks, proud of himself for not asking the whywhywhy question he really wants to know the answer to.
“Right here. Did it myself.”
“Yeah right. C’mon tell me, is there really that good of a tattoo artist in our part of Kansas?”
“Damn right there is, and you’re talkin’ to him,” Dean says, puffing up a little with pride.
“Really? When did you learn all that?”
“Remember the noise you heard from the room down by the dungeon? That was me, practicing on oranges,” Dean says.
“Oranges?” Sam asks.
“Yeah, just to get a feel for the equipment, it takes a while to get an even hand going and I didn’t want to mess it up,” Dean answers.
“Why not just go get it done somewhere?” Sam asks.
“Seemed like a good thing to learn, that’s all,” Dean says, but Sam can tell he’s hedging, holding something big back from him.
“C’mon give me the real reason, or I’m just going to have to assume you’re planning on retiring from hunting to run off and be a tattoo artist in New York City,” Sam jokes.
“So what if I was?” Dean jokes right back, puffing up in mock anger.
Sam just laughs at the idea. Dean finally joins in, because it is funny all around, the retiring, the tattooing, the picture of him moving to the big city.
“No really, Dean. Seeing those words, my words on your skin like that, they’re…” Sam trails off, not sure what he really means to say. That it’s hot like burning, or that he wants to give Dean more words to write into his skin.
“I wanted to learn so I could fix this for you” Dean says, patting Sam over his heart, where the broken protection tattoo lies. Sam keeps meaning to stop and get it repaired someplace. Dean has even mentioned it a few times. But he can never bring himself to put his body under someone else’s control. Not again. Not after all those times when it wasn’t his choice.
“Because you need it fixed, it’s amazing you haven’t gotten possessed it all this time. And it’s my fault it’s broken in the first place. It was the only way I could think of to apologize, when you wouldn’t let me before.”
“Dean…” Sam says, voice trailing off to nothing as he’s overwhelmed with a sudden wave of emotion.
“Would you let me, Sammy? Let me fix it for you?” Dean asks.
And all Sam can hear is the unasked question: ‘Do you trust me?’ And he does, he always does no matter whether he should or not. So he answers the question that Dean didn’t ask. “Yeah, I trust you, Dean.”
Dean’s eyes film over with a layer of tears he works manfully not to actually shed.
Sam grabs the hand that’s still over his heart. “Would you fix it for me? Right now?” Sam asks, pulling Dean in closer so that he has to use his other hand to brace himself on Sam’s shoulder. They breathe together for a long moment, their breaths speeding up as the anticipation of Dean’s answer grows between them.
Dean searches Sam’s face closely for a while, probably evaluating whether Sam’s kidding or too drunk to be consenting to a tattoo. “Yeah, yeah I’ll do it. It’s why I got the tattoo rig, let’s go,” Dean says.
Sam holds Dean’s hand in his when he stands and pulls Dean into his side to steady him, even though they don’t really need the support. They never mention the lengths they go to have their hands on each other. They walk to the tattoo room with their arms around each other, Sam is feeling daring since Dean is being so loose and open, so he lets his hand rest a little lower than normal, just on the edge of the curve of Dean’s ass. His hand fits there so perfectly and he lets himself wonder what it would be like to feel that skin under his own. Whether it would feel separate or like just another part of himself.
Dean unlocks the door and flips the light on. “Welcome to my secret lab,” he cackles.
Sam watches as Dean readies the equipment on the plank table, there’s a couple of chairs that Dean pulls up close to each other and a table lamp that he flips on, the bright circle of light on the back of the chair.
“Take it off and have a seat,” Dean says, gesturing at the chair that’s in the spotlight.
Sam feels his belly swoop with hearing those words from Dean, like some snippet of his teenage fantasies that he’s worked so hard to suppress. He takes a deep breath to steady himself and slowly pulls his shirts off over his head, hoping Dean didn’t notice his hesitation. When his head is out of the neck of the shirts he sees that Dean’s frozen at the table, his eyes wide and staring at his chest. Sam’s first thought is that Dean’s joking or that there’s something wrong with him, but then he realizes that he’s caught Dean in a moment where he’s let his defenses down. It suddenly seems possible that Dean’s got some of those same feelings that he has. It’s always been a hope that Sam has tried to give up on, but there’s something there, he knows it now.
Dean shakes himself out of the staring and turns back to his equipment, moving jars of ink and putting a new needle in the tattoo gun. He wipes the equipment and his hands down with sharp smelling alcohol on a paper towel and snaps on a new pair of disposable gloves.
Sam watches all of this efficiency and action from the chair, feeling the light warming his chest on the outside, as his heart warms up on the inside. His brother learned all of this detailed stuff, safety and technique, all of it, just for him. To apologize. It moves him all over again, and he let’s himself fill up on the feeling of being loved so fiercely by this man. The one that’s holding a paper towel out near his chest with a very steady hand.
“It’s gonna be cold,” Dean warns.
Sam hisses when the alcohol hits his skin but then he barely catches a near moan when the edge of the towel and Dean’s pinky both rub against his nipple. Sam is mortified to feel his nipple instantly harden and the thrill of desire flows down like an electric trickle current straight to his cock. He’s very thankful that he’s holding his shirts on his lap.
“I’m just going to fix the lines that are broken, take the black into the ones that are already there to make sure it’s really joined up.”
“You going to sign your work?” Sam teases because Dean’s being so official and serious all of a sudden.
“Do you want me to?” Dean asks, eyebrows raising in surprise, but a dark shot of lust or maybe possessiveness, whatever it is flashes across Dean’s eyes. Sam’s entranced and can’t answer verbally, just with a slow nod.
Dean reaches out to touch the skin that he’s about to tattoo, slowly runs a gloved finger back and forth several times, achingly, unnecessarily slow. “That a yes, Sammy?”
Dean’s eyes focus on Sam’s and he doesn’t recognize this look that Dean’s giving him. It dawns on Sam then, that he’s probably giving the same look back to his brother. They’re really in it now, together thank god. He reaches over to Dean’s chest, sets his hand on the spot where his tattoo is still in one piece. “Yes,” Sam answers, more steadily than he thought he’d be able to. He feels like he’s saying yes to anything Dean offers him, he knows he’ll do anything Dean wants.
“I’ll initial it, since our last name’s kinda long,” Dean says, joking to break the tension.
“Thanks,” Sam says, thanking Dean for all of it, the initial, the joking, the touching, the closeness, the tattoo, the apology. All of it.
“I’m gonna start now, ready?” Dean asks. He scoots his chair closer, bracketing Sam’s left leg with both of his. Dean’s left hand is steadied in the center of Sam’s chest, and his other holds the tattoo gun at the ready. Sam feels Dean’s right leg tense and the tattoo gun starts up.
“What is that down there?” Sam asks to distract himself from the initial hot pain that’s radiating out from where the needle is piercing his skin.
“The pedal on the floor controls the speed of the needle,” Dean answers, tip of his tongue going back between his bared teeth as soon as the words are out.
This is Dean’s concentrating face, Sam knows it well from watching him at target practice or gun cleaning, any of the million tasks Dean performs with grace and competence. He feels so safe under Dean’s hands. Knows that his brother wouldn’t offer this unless he knew one-hundred percent that he was up to the task.
Sam wants to talk more but finds that he can’t, the pain becoming overwhelming the closer the needle moves towards his nipple area. Thank god they hadn’t gotten them over their nipples like Dean had suggested all those years ago.
“Most of the way done, hang in there, Sammy,” Dean says, stopping the gun for a moment to check his ink level. Sam breathes heavily, allowing his chest to move and expand, relieved to be able to relax from holding himself still for a moment.
“You okay?” Dean asks, looking carefully at Sam’s sweaty face. “There’s a towel there,” he points at the table with a gloved finger.
Sam grabs it and swipes it across his forehead and neck. He peers down at his chest and sees the lines are nearly completed.
Dean grabs a cotton pad off the table and soaks it with rubbing alcohol. “I have to clean you up a little so I can see where I’m going, blood’s getting in the way,” Dean explains, “it’ll sting though.”
Sam absorbs the painful sting from the alcohol easily because Dean’s hands are back on him. The contact even through the plastic gloves is worth it. Soon Dean will be out of his space and expecting Sam to stand up, and he’s never been so hard in his life. Is it the pain, or Dean’s nearness, or just that Dean is doing this to him, for him? All those questions go unanswered as he finally lets one of the moans he’s been stifling the whole time out when Dean puts his hand back on his chest to steady himself and get back to work.
Sam goes beet red and watches Dean’s reaction, it’s not embarrassment, he looks turned-on too. Sam glances down at Dean’s lap and sees that his brother is in the same state as he is. Dean doesn’t say anything though, just sets back to the task of finishing the tattoo.
“Dean, tell me when…when you initial me,” Sam grits out past the pain. He clamps his legs together around Dean’s to ground himself.
The speed of the tattoo gun slowing for a moment as Dean adjusts to the pressure of Sam’s strong thighs.
“I will. I’m just finishing the last line,” Dean says. “This is really turnin’ your crank, huh, Sammy?”
Sam stares at him in open mouth astonishment, that his brother would say that out loud. Dean just stops the tattooing gun and his eyes focus on Sam’s open mouth, his eyes tracing Sam’s lips. Sam licks his lips and is rewarded by Dean reacting as if he’s been shocked right back.
This gives Sam the license to reply right back. Dean’s the one that brought it up in the first place. “See it’s turning your crank too.” Sam’s eyes stare down at Dean’s lap. Even through his jeans, he can see Dean’s hard cock jump at his words, or maybe just from Sam looking at him.
“We are a pair of freaks, aren’t we?” Dean murmurs, eyes glued back to Sam’s lips.
Sam can’t believe how hungry Dean looks, and Sam wants to give him this, give him anything. It’s never been clearer to him that they both want this, they both obviously need it. The evidence of their lives tells him that no one and nothing can come between them, so why not have this too?
“Yeah,” Sam answers, leaning forward to brush his lips across Dean’s.
Dean hesitates for a split second, then he groans and kisses Sam back, mouth opening and tongue swiping through to taste and explore.
Sam doesn’t have gloves on, so his hands cup the sides of Dean’s face and tip him to the perfect angle to deepen the kiss. His knee presses into Dean’s crotch and he can feel the rhythmic pulses of Dean’s thrusts at the contact. Sam scoots himself forward a little so that he can try out his brother’s great idea and god it feels good. The pressure, the friction, knowing that it’s Dean he’s rubbing against. It’s better than his hottest teenaged fantasies. Dean kisses him like he’s made of something delicious that he’s insatiable for, Sam feels devoured and all they’ve done is kissed.
Dean pulls away so that he can take the plastic gloves off and set the tattoo gun down on the table. He settles back into the space Sam has held for him and sets back onto the task of kissing Sam senseless.
Sam’s aware of all the places he’s touching Dean, in those places he feels like his own skin is nearly on fire, even more than the unfinished tattoo burning on his chest. There’s a charge to the places where Dean is touching him, Dean’s hands seem to be everywhere at once, buried in his now-tangled hair, stroking his neck, squeezing at his biceps, fingers flicking at his nipples. It’s almost too much stimulation at once, almost. But Dean makes it all better when he slows them down, holding Sam’s face closely so that he pays attention to the new pace.
Then Dean’s crawling up into his lap, spreading himself over him, pressing them together. And it’s not even close to enough. He needs more of Dean’s skin on his, so he pushes up Dean’s shirt to his armpits. Dean gets the idea and pulls it off over his head throwing it onto the table over the tattoo gear. They both sigh when their chest touch together. It’s bliss having Dean perched there, grinding down hard on his cock, thrusting his own hardness against Sam’s stomach. Sam tighten’s his abs up to give him more to rub against. As Dean’s thrusts speed up, Sam fleetingly wonders, if they come in their jeans, will Dean finish his tattoo?
“Sam…Sammy,” Dean murmurs into Sam’s neck where he’s been sucking hot and wet. Sam knows there will be marks, and he’s glad, god he’s so glad. Because this will be more real then, he’ll be able to prove it to himself. He feels Dean convulse and go rigid on top of him, muttering more words that he can’t make out. This is Dean coming, right there on top of him, the idea of it, that and the unbelievable weight and friction push Sam over the edge to join Dean.
They stop moving against each other, just resting there in post-orgasmic bliss. It seems so unreal, to be so happy, for his body to actually feel so good, and Dean’s still holding him, still kissing his neck, whispering what sounds like words of pure sweetness into his skin. He strains to hear them, and makes out words like: you…love…always in different combinations.
“Me too, Dean, me too,” Sam says quietly, holding his brother in his arms, memorizing the weight of him in case this is the only time. God it can’t be the only time. Begging for it, admitting that he wants it, forever if possible seems like something that would push Dean away. That’s why it’s surprising what he hears Dean say next.
“Sammy, want this…always wanted this,” Dean says, sagging in Sam’s arms as if those words have used up all his energy. And maybe they did, because Dean never asks for anything for himself, except for Sam to be alive and with him. And Sam’s good with that. He’s good with all of it.
“You’re not the only one, Dean,” Sam says and Dean shakes his head like he’s rejecting the words.
“Please, I do, I want this too,” Sam says, trying not to beg, but not caring too much if it sounds that way.
Dean pulls back so he can examine Sam’s face. And whatever he finds there makes him smile, that wide, open smile that Sam so rarely sees. He can’t resist kissing it, he’s always wanted to see what that smile tastes like, and it’s sweeter than any mid-summer peach ever could be. Softer too. He can’t get enough of kissing Dean, can’t imagine ever tiring of it.
Some words are passing between their lips and Sam realizes Dean’s saying something. “Need to finish it, Sammy,” Dean says, “want it to be done. Want to sign it.”
Sam pushes Dean gently off his lap and grabs some paper towels off the table handing some to Dean. They clean themselves off enough to be able to sit there a little longer. Until whatever comes after the time when the tattoo is done. Dean snaps his gloves back on and picks up the tattoo gun, re-situating himself around Sam’s leg, hand back on Sam’s chest. He locks eyes with Sam for a long moment and nods when he sees that Sam’s ready to begin again.
Now when the tattoo needle hits him, he feels Dean putting himself into the ink, somehow he feels Dean entering him, pushing into the place that’s always been there waiting for him.
“Can feel you in me, Dean, right there in my skin, inside me.”
Dean looks like he’s struggling to hold steady, the needle slowing down for a few moments while Dean regains control. “Can’t say stuff like that to me, Sammy. Not when I’m doing this, later okay?”
Hearing the ‘later okay?’ makes Sam’s heart thrill with the thought of later, there’s going to be one, Dean’s counting on it, planning on it happening. It feels like the surprising joy of receiving an unexpected present. That’s what this is, Dean’s tattoo apology turning into the best moment of his life.
“Not sorry for saying it, but okay, later,” Sam says.
Dean grins at him and starts up the tattoo gun at a higher speed. “Nearly there, think about where you want me to sign this.”
“Already know,” Sam says, instantly imagining Dean’s initials on his hip, where Dean’s thumbs will go when he holds Sam down to take him. Where there will always be thumbprints, a double signature, indelible, and unforgettable.
“Yeah?” Dean asks, tongue sticking out a bit between his teeth as he concentrates on joining up the last of the lines.
“Over my hip bone, there’s this place, I’ll show you,” Sam says, concentrating on the feeling of Dean’s ink flowing into his body.
Dean seems to grit his teeth to steady himself, but he keeps the tattoo gun going at a fast speed, the lines finally meeting one another in perfection. “There, perfect,” he says, shutting the gun off and swiping at the pinpricks of blood with a cotton pad.
Sam hisses at the sting of the alcohol and cranes his neck to look at the finished tattoo. “Thank you,” he says, staring at Dean who’s eyes are focused on the tattoo design. “Thank you for fixing it for me.”
“I wish it hadn’t needed fixing, Sammy. I’m sorry,” Dean says.
“I know you are, but this is the best sort of apology, Dean, thank you,” Sam says. Dean looks like he’s about to cry and Sam can’t have that, not now, so he uses the only distraction he can think of. “Can I show you where to initial me?”
Dean’s eyes flick up, lashes heavy with tears that aren’t going anywhere. His eyes widen as he thinks about what Sam is proposing. “You really want that, Sammy? I was kinda kidding before,” Dean says.
Sam thinks about it for a moment, Dean giving him an out like this, does it mean he doesn’t want to sign him, or that he does but isn’t sure if Sam does? “I do, I really do. But don’t…uh don’t do it you’re not comfortable with it.”
“Oh I’m very comfortable,” Dean drawls, “I’m just makin’ sure. Tryin’ to be a responsible tattoo artist, you know?” Dean says with a sideways grin.
Sam stands up and undoes his jeans, pulls them and his boxers down enough to show Dean the top of his hipbone. He gestures with his thumb, pressing into the skin so it goes white. Dean’s hand drifts up and joins him, his thumb replacing Sam’s.
The small gasp that Sam lets out when Dean touches him there hangs in the air between them. Dean looks up at Sam, eyes gone dark and intense. Something changes then, a decision is made, an unasked question answered.
“If I mark you here, Sammy? What does it mean?” Dean asks in a low rumble. “To you, what would it mean?”
“I…I’d be yours,” Sam says in a whisper, his hands clenching into fists that are holding his jeans.
Dean’s eyes flash with something dangerous, the thought of possession maybe, or a fantasy fulfilled. He leans into Sam, his cheek pressing into his bared belly. Warm breath washes over Sam’s skin where Dean’s thumb still presses. Sam feels like he’s stepped out onto an invisible bridge over a chasm. It doesn’t matter what Dean says or does now, he’s already committed to it.
“I’ll do it on one condition,” Dean says, grinding his thumb into Sam’s hip. “You have to initial me. Same place.”
“You’ll teach me?” Sam asks, eyes never leaving Dean’s.
“Yeah, it’s easy,” Dean says in a deep rumble, his eyes beginning to crinkle at the corners.
“I…will,” Sam says, feeling hypnotized and lethargic by Dean’s rumbling purr, the idea of this permanent mutual ownership.
Dean nods, reaches over to the table for the alcohol and cotton pad, swipes it over the spot where his thumb has left a mark. Not a bruise quite yet. The shocking coolness of the alcohol feels like ice against the heat left behind from Dean’s touch. The tattoo gun starts up again, and Dean freehand writes a D and a W in his precise script. When he’s done he looks up at Sam and smiles so wide Sam feels like he could fall right into his brother’s beautiful face and never want for another thing in the world.