Dean knows when Sam's birthday is in the same way he knows where his hands are (end of his arms; ask him another). Which means that he's absolutely certain of the answer, but rarely gives it any thought.
Translated, yeah, he mostly forgets when it is until Sam's pointed silence and tight-lipped snit jogs his memory. And then, because Sammy can channel his passive-aggressive teenage self at will even a decade later, Sam usually says that it doesn't matter and no, he doesn't want anything; it's just another day, it's enough that they're both alive to see it, blah, yadda, can we change the fucking record, please?
This year, Dean wants to remember. It's the second year of normal and he's cautiously optimistic that by and large, their lives are back to what he understands; fighting evil, killing demons, taking care of Sam.
Taking real good care of him.
Sam's got Dean's body when he wants it, Dean's attention 24/7 whether he wants it or not. Dean will strip down for Sam when Sam gets that look in his eyes, restless, hungry, intense. Will slide into bed next to that hot, smooth skinned body that makes him shiver when he touches it, and lick each scar better, arch and bend and squirm and scream happy obscenities as Sam nails him. He's not saying it's how he thought it'd be between them way back when, but it's never seemed strange, somehow, not when it started, not when it stopped, not when it started up again.
Loving Sam -- it's not something he thinks about either. It just is. He loves him, he needs him, he'd die for him.
And when you put it like that, forgetting his birthday, year in, year out, starts to look like willful neglect.
This year, he's doing it right. Shame he doesn't have a fucking clue where to start. He's got the basics nailed; cake, a present, a card, but what else?
Bobby's grunt of surprise when Dean calls him for help -- old habits die hard -- is almost enough to derail the whole project. Dean grips the phone a little tighter, his ears hot, and waits for Bobby to get with the goddamned program and fill him in on the lore.
Birthdays have been around for long enough that they've just gotta have lore.
"A cake," Bobby says finally. "Candles. One for each year, 'cept the way you two are getting old on me, better make it just a couple or you'll burn down the room."
"Very funny," Dean says. Like Bobby isn't older 'n God. "Candles. Got it." Candles. He knew about candles, for God's sake.
He can hear Bobby scratching his head before saying doubtfully, "He blows them out and makes a wish." There's a heaviness to Bobby's voice and Dean matches it with a shudder.
"He even looks like he's thinking the word 'wish' and I'll slap his fool head off," he promises.
That gets him a dry chuckle. "Should lead in nicely to the birthday spanking."
Dean swallows spit and chokes on it. Bobby's never said he knows about the two of them, but Dean knows he does and that he's not happy about it, and Dean isn't happy that he knows and -- oh, the hell with it. Long as Bobby never says anything, they'll all get along. The spanking comment, though, that's just going too fucking far -- hell, Dean's blushing like a girl.
"Goes back a long way, that one," Bobby says thoughtfully. "Supposed to get one for each year and one to grow on."
The idea of Sam, ass up, bright red and rosy isn't entirely displeasing, but Dean clears his throat and says firmly, "He's big enough right now."
Okay, he could've phrased that better…
He hangs up in the middle of Bobby's derisive laughter and decides to go with what he started with. Cake. Card. Present.
He'd have managed it all pretty good if they hadn't gotten sidetracked clear to the Canadian border tracking a basilisk whose sting made the flesh slough off its victims' bones. Gross didn't begin to cover it, and killing it had left Dean wanting to scrub them both down because he itched and no, it wasn't poison ivy, it was his flesh preparing to drip off him, he was sure of it.
They end up in a filthy motel room, huddled together under an inadequate trickle of water from a long-suffering shower they've pushed to its limits, and Dean finds himself biting Sam's shoulder and shaking with a disgusted revulsion he usually saves for rats.
Sam's hands, big, strong, rough, pet him and soothe him, calm him down and spin him up, until Dean's staring blindly at a spider web crack in the glaze of an off-white tile as Sam's mouth works him and his brains leak out of the end of his dick.
Turns out that the middle of nowhere isn't big on party supplies. Dean has to get them back to civilization or he's screwed. They drive until Sam's protesting about a numb ass, and after a couple hours of that drowning out the music Dean gives in and turns the Impala into the first decent looking place he sees in a small town.
The Stay-a-While Motel's got a gas station next door with a store attached, but Dean doesn't even look at it. Sam's getting more than that. He's got time; stores won't close for an hour or two and Sam's agreeable to staying behind and napping, legs sprawled wide, snoring gently before Dean's finished picking over the credit cards for one that isn't finger-scorching hot.
He gives Sam's ass a wistful look before he closes the door, his fingers flexing as if they're already deep inside it, finding places to stroke that make Sam grunt and bite his lip red and stinging. Dean never asks for sex, never makes it happen; it has to come from Sam, always, and Dean goes along with whatever way Sam wants it, too.
Be nice to fuck Sam tonight, though…it's been a while since Sam wanted that.
He hits the stores, buying, smiling, flirting his way down Main Street, and hides everything under a blanket in the car. Then he boots Sam's ass out of bed and sends him to get the beer he pretends he's forgotten before the pizza goes cold. Sam's sleep-dazed and grumpy, but he yawns and sets off on foot.
Dean takes a deep breath and brings in what he's bought. He doesn't have much time.
When Sam comes back in, a six-pack in his hands, dewed with condensation, he stands and stares for the longest minute of Dean's life.
Dean beams proudly at him and sweeps his hand out in a grand gesture. "Happy Birthday, Sammy."
Sam sets the beer down, kicks a red balloon that the breeze from the door has sent bobbing gently across the room, and walks over to the table. He peers at the cake.
"'Happy Birthday, Alannah'," he reads. He glances at Dean. "Alannah?"
Dean shrugs. "The cake was the only birthday one they had. Seems little Miss A. was too big for Barbie and her mom canceled the order."
"She's too big for Barbie, but I'm not?" Sam inquires. He pokes at the pink frosting, scoops some up and sucks his finger pensively. "Dean, what is all this?"
"It's a freaking birthday party, dork," Dean says impatiently. How hard is that to work out when he's wearing a fucking party hat for the love of -- "Open your card."
Sam picks up the envelope cautiously and rips it open. He reads the card to himself, his lips moving silently, and then a shit-eating grin spreads over his face.
"It came with the sloppy verse inside," Dean says defensively. "That's not my fault."
"I light up your life?" Sam asks. "I make the sun shine on a rainy day?"
"Yeah, every time you bend over," Dean mutters. Which makes no sense, but he's not at peak form. The elastic from his hat is cutting into his ears but he's damned if he's going to take it off.
Sam places the card next to Barbie and Ken on top of a mound of pink and white frosting and picks up his present.
Dean fiddles with a balloon he hadn't had time to blow up. He's starting to see why he's never done birthdays before.
The sound of the paper tearing is as loud as a burp in church and it's followed by Sam's breath catching in his throat.
"You -- where did you get this?"
"Found it online in a newspaper archive. Printed it off. Got a frame."
It's impractical; they just can't carry stuff around with them, but Bobby's good about letting them leave things with him and this photo of their parents on their wedding day won't take up much room.
"They look happy," Sam says, one finger stroking the glass as if he can reach through it to touch them.
Dean remembers how they'd been together and nods. "Guess they were, even with -- well."
Sam puts the photograph down and turns to Dean. "I don't know what to say."
Dean shrugs. "No need to say anything, Sammy, once you've finished telling me what a considerate, fine brother I am and how you don't deserve me." He takes the hat off now that they're over the worst of it. "Have a beer. Take two; it's your birthday."
Sam shakes his head and closes the distance between them in three strides. His arms fit around Dean in a hug that takes Dean's breath away. "Yeah, you are, and no, I don't -- but I hate to tell you; it's not my birthday, Dean."
Dean wrenches free. "What? May the second! That's --"
"Yesterday." Sam grimaces apologetically. "Sorry. I didn't say anything because I figured you'd forgotten and what the hell; it's just a day, right?"
"No, wait --" Dean starts to count on his fingers and he can't make it come out right, but he's sure --
"You got knocked unconscious and slept through last Thursday, pretty much," Sam reminds him.
"Yeah, but I didn't lose a day!" Dean's ready to punch holes in walls. Shit. Shit. He's missed it again --
Something in Sam's eyes, a flicker of amusement, cuts his annoyance off at the knees and he goes over to Sam's laptop to check the date.
"May second," he says quietly.
"Sorry, Dean." Sam's snickering now. "I just -- all those times you forgot; I had to just --"
"Yeah," Dean says grimly, eying the little shit until Sam stops laughing and starts looking worried. "I get it. Payback."
He thinks about the birthday spanking option and decides getting Sam over his knee would be too much like hard work.
So he nails him with a handful of pink frosting thrown hard and fast and later, much later, when the cake's reduced to a smear and they've popped all the balloons in the scuffle, he gets to lick it off Sam, sweet sugar over sticky-sweet skin as Sam writhes and whimpers and smiles up at him, eyes happy, just like Dean wants him to be.
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