Author's Note: Not my characters, only my words. Written for the 2016 spnspringfling for oobydooby67's wonderful prompt b: Oh this? Just an incredibly complicated and intricate dish I made, no big deal.
Summary: Dean couldn't tell you why, but he's cooked one of the most complicated meals he's ever attempted, and Sam's still in the shower.
Read it over on AO3 right here.
There wasn’t a reason for it. Not one that Dean could possibly say out loud. If he was the least bit honest with himself, he couldn’t even whisper the words. But there it was, a completed masterpiece laid out in all its splendor on the library table. An over-the-top display of culinary mastery that he couldn’t possibly begin to explain. A masterpiece that was intended to be eaten. Preferably by the person who he’d expressly made it for. Ideally within the next few minutes for it to be at its peak of perfection. And said recipient was unexpectedly washing his hair.
Of course, Sam’s hair.
After all these years of teasing, they both knew how much Sam’s hair meant. In the scheme of things, it represented very different feelings and thoughts about their history and their lives together. To his brother keeping his hair that long meant freedom from the rules he was never meant to follow. To Dean it was a symbol of Sam’s independent streak as well as one of his favorite parts of Sam. His hair was important to both of them. But there was this masterpiece of a meal, now cooling off in the middle of the library table.
Dean sat and stared at all the food, drumming his fingers impatiently. If he went and fetched a dripping wet brother from the shower and dragged him out here, well, no one would end up enjoying the meal. It was better to be patient and wait. Sam never missed dinner lately, and certainly not when he could smell it cooking. And Dean had just checked that the smell of all the complex spices had indeed filled the halls of the Bunker, all the way into the steamy bathroom.
He felt the side of the large covered silver serving dish and was happy that it was still nearly too hot to the touch. Maybe it wouldn’t be too cold to eat by the time Sam made it out here to join him. Maybe he shouldn’t have yelled at Sam that last time to stay out of his kitchen. He finally heard his brother’s footsteps padding down the hall.
“Out here, Sammy,” Dean called. He lit the candles that were in the middle of the table and dimmed the lights.
“What’s all this with the candles? Whatever it is smells damn good,” Sam said as he entered the library.
“It’s called dinner. It’s getting cold, c’mon,” Dean grumbled, embarrassed now by all the obvious effort that he’d put into this meal.
Sam sat kitty-corner from Dean, in the spot where a placemat and silverware awaited him. He unfolded his linen napkin, his eyes going big as he saw what was in the main serving dish when Dean whipped off the lid in an over-the-top flourish. “No way. Did you really make me paella, Dean?”
“I made us paella. Quit yappin’ and start eatin’, wouldja?” Dean grumbled, serving Sam a large helping, making sure he got a few of each of the pieces of the main ingredients.
“This is one of the most complicated dishes I know about. Jess refused to even try making it, even though it was my favorite thing we’d eat at this Spanish restaurant that was near our place,” Sam reminisced, a small, sad smile on his lips.
“I remembered you telling me that a while ago, and I thought I’d try and make some for you,” Dean admitted.
“I haven’t thought about that story in a long time,” Sam said, wonder filling his voice. The thought of his brother remembering a tiny detail like that touched him very deeply. He rarely ever spoke about his time with Jess, the pain of losing her still so sharp even after all these years. “Thanks Dean, for remembering. And for making this, it looks awesome.”
Dean dished up a big serving for himself and waited to watch Sam try his first fork-full.
Sam’s eyes rolled up in his head and he made a rapturous sound of appreciation. “This is even better than I remembered it, damn that’s just perfect. You even got the crust part on the bottom of the rice.”
“Yeah?” Dean asked, pleased beyond his expectations. He’d just wanted to show Sam that…this was their home, their life together, and that it could be good enough, maybe. Good enough to maybe make Sam happy enough to stick around. Even if Dean knew he didn’t exactly deserve it after all the things he’d done wrong in the last few years. But he couldn’t say all that, not out loud. So he’d spoken the words in the only language he could. Hopefully Sam would get at least part of the message.
Sam smiled across the corner of the table at Dean, seeing how pleased his brother looked with the success of his cooking made Sam even happier than eating the paella had. He knew what this meal likely represented, some sort of gesture, probably an apology knowing Dean. He had always spoken in the language of actions; and to Dean, making food meant a whole lot more than most things. It was still new to both of them, having the place and the means to enjoy this type of domestic bliss. Sam thought about how to return the gesture without embarrassing Dean.
They ate quietly for a few minutes, sipping the San Miguel (a Spanish beer Dean had researched) and picking through the paella for their favorites. Sam liked the shrimp the most and Dean the sausage and they both devoured the mussels and lobster tails. The candles flickered on the table near them, highlighting the planes of Dean’s face, making him even more beautiful than usual. Sam watched his brother eat and felt this yearning to say something that would somehow make Dean understand he knew what this meal meant.
“What’s your favorite fancy meal? And don’t say cheeseburgers,” Sam asked, deciding to guide the conversation and hope he’d get a chance to say what he wanted his brother to hear.
“Besides cheeseburgers, I’d say it’s probably marinated tri-tip, cooked just barely medium rare and garlic mashed potatoes, with a Del Sol,” Dean answered.
“What about dessert? Obviously I know it’s probably pie, but what kind?”
“Actually, it isn’t pie. I just get pie in diners and stuff because it’s pretty reliable, I pretty much know what I’m gonna get. The dessert I’d love to have again, because I only ever tried it once is chocolate mousse.”
“Really? Chocolate mousse? You mean the fluffy stuff with the whipped cream on top?” Sam asked, pushing the remaining paella around his plate with his fork.
“Yeah, it was made with high-quality chocolate, and you could tell it was fresh, not like from a mix. I could have eaten a gallon of that stuff,” Dean said in a dreamy voice he only ever used when talking about Dr. Sexy or new parts for the Impala.
“When did you ever get to try chocolate mousse?” Sam asked.
“Uh, with Lisa. The year I lived with her we went out for her birthday, to a French place that she liked. It was too fancy for me, but that dessert, man it was awesome,” Dean said.
“I’m glad,” Sam said with a small nod, his heart suddenly filled with a fierce joy for his brother that he had gotten a slice of normal for at least a little while.
“What about?” Dean asked, tilting his head to the side as he chewed his last fork-full of paella.
“I’m glad that you got to have something like that, at least once,” Sam said.
“What the mousse or an uncomfortable restaurant date where I couldn’t read most of the menu?” Dean asked, tearing at the label on his empty beer bottle.
Sam watched his brother’s fingers, mesmerized by the delicate movements and relentless strength. “The date, and the mousse I guess. I just…I’m glad you have memories like that too, put’s it all in perspective, that’s all.”
“Of course I have memories like that. Why wouldn’t I?” Dean asked, a beginner’s helping of irritation in his voice.
Sam dropped his fork to his plate with a clatter. “No, no, that’s not…I mean, I’ll never forget having that paella with Jess all those years ago. And since I have that memory, I get to compare it to this paella right here, the one that you made for me. And there’s no comparison. It’s not even close.”
“I know, restaurants can always get better fresh shellfish. It’s kinda tough here in Kansas,” Dean said, sounding crushed about something other than the freshness of the available shellfish selection at their local market.
“Dean, c’mon. I meant that there’s no comparison, because you made this paella for me, just because you remembered a story I’d told you ages ago. And you made it here in our home, and it’s just…it’s so much better than I ever imagined it could be.”
Dean sat up straighter in his chair, his hands disappeared under the table for a moment, then one went up to massage at the back of his neck. His classic tell for extreme nervousness about something important. “What did you imagine, Sammy?”
Sam took a deep breath and prepared himself mentally to actually say the risky words out loud. He reminded himself that his brother wouldn’t have asked if he didn’t want to hear the answer. “I used to try and imagine us in the future, together like this. I never pictured us being so settled and happy.”
“We are?” Dean asked in what looked like true surprise, mouth hanging open a little too long.
“I am. I uh…I thought you were too, shit, I’m sorry for assuming,” Sam said, lowering his eyes to his hands clenching his napkin in his lap. Here it comes, here’s where he’ll go off because I mentioned us being happy together, Sam grumbled to himself. He tightened his shoulders knowing that Dean’s response was coming soon.
Dean’s hand clasped over the closest clenched fist in Sam’s lap, his thumb stroked over Sam’s pressure-whitened knuckles. “You were right, Sammy. I guess I am happy. And since you said it, hell yeah, we are happy. It just still seems a little unreal to me. And as far as me making the paella goes, it was worth all the trouble. You always are.”
Instead of breaking the spell they’d woven between them, Sam leaned over to thank Dean the way he’d best understand. He kissed his brother softly at first, then let his lips part and dove in to taste the paella and beer off of Dean’s tongue. Their hands were still intertwined and Sam held Dean’s in his lap so he wouldn’t move away, but as he hardened he couldn’t help thrusting himself up to rub against their joined hands. He groaned at the feeling and he could feel Dean grin widely into their kiss.
Dean wormed his hand out of Sam’s grip and teased Sam through his sweats. Sam held his brother’s face against his own, kissing and biting his way along Dean’s jawline to suckle at his earlobe. Dean shivered and tightened his hand around Sam’s hardness through his sweatpants, moving teasingly, slowly to pull the fabric down.
Sam ran one hand down Dean’s neck, and then under his shirt to tease at his nipples waiting to hear the gasp that always produced. He plucked and pulled at them until Dean pushed him away. Sam was about to ask what was wrong when Dean was kneeling on the floor, pushing Sam’s chair further back from the table and spreading Sam’s knees open to slide between them. Sam lifted himself up as Dean tugged his sweatpants and briefs down to his knees.
Dean didn’t say anything, just looked up at Sam with an already blissed-out sheen to his eyes that reflected the candlelight. Sam ran his fingers through Dean’s hair, toying with his ears as Dean bent forward to kiss him. Dean wrapped his arms around Sam’s neck pulling him down, holding onto him like he was the only solid thing in the room. Sam slowed the kiss, gentling Dean’s movements, rubbing his hands soothingly along his brother’s back. Dean finally released him and broke their kiss to stroke Sam with a firm grip that made Sam’s eyes roll up into his head.
Though his eyes were closed Sam could still hear Dean’s low chuckle. And then he didn’t think about anything else but Dean’s hot mouth and slick tongue, those softer than anything lips. The amazing complexity of all the movements happening at once, pulling, sucking, tongue twirling, hand squeezing and releasing, it all moved Sam quickly to the edge.
He warned Dean with a tap to his shoulder, but Dean doubled his efforts. Sam gave up trying to delay the inevitable and gave every last bit of himself, crying out Dean’s name. Dean swallowed and finally pulled off, panting and obscenely hard as he rocked back on his heels. He had his jeans undone and himself in hand, palming himself in a blur before Sam had time to recover.
Sam leaned forward and covered Dean’s hand with his own, adding to the pressure and speed, biting hard at Dean’s neck until he quivered with his own release, sighing out Sam’s name. Sam handed him one of the napkins to clean up with and tucked himself back in. He stood, a little unsteady at first, then reached down to bring Dean up into the circle of his arms.
They swayed together to some unheard tune, not moving their feet, just pressed as tightly as two separate bodies can be. Sam held his brother and thought about how complicated their lives were outside of this place where they’d finally found some peace together.
“That wasn’t quite as complicated as it usually is, telling you all that,” Sam finally said, breaking the silence.
Dean chuckled and then looked at Sam for a long moment. “Hell, paella is easy compared to me and you, Sammy.”