Title: Gonna Make It Feel Like Home
Word count: 2260
A/N: Written for colls in the most recent round of spnspringfling who asked for Winchester curtain!fic. Originally posted here.
Summary: Sam's not sure if Dean's just being an ass or if this actually is his idea of how one goes about buying a house.
Whenever Sam had ever (wistfully, guiltily) tried to imagine it, he'd always figured that them 'settling down' would be more of an accident than anything else. That they'd go to ground after one or both of them had been half-killed in some dramatic and vaguely debilitating way and they'd just... forget to start moving again. Because no matter how many times Dean admitted that he was tired of the life and no matter how many times Sam had tried to find his own slice of normal to live in, Sam couldn't really picture either of them hanging up their hunter caps for anything less than absolute necessity.
Which was why he was more than a little nonplussed to find himself looking at housing prices and debating the merits of semi-detached versus Foursquare with Dean, who was far more into the whole thing than Sam ever would have guessed.
Of course, Sam had never even considered the possibility that buying a house would be Dean's idea in the first place, but apparently Dean lived to defy Sam's expectations.
"New Jersey?" Sam suggested.
Dean wrinkled his nose. "Have you heard the Jersey accent? It's like the whole goddamn state's convinced that A's the only vowel in the alphabet."
Sam pinched the bridge of his nose. "Seriously, Dean. Could you maybe not be a stereotyping bigot for five minutes? I'm starting to think you hate the entire country."
"I just call it like I see it." Dean gestured at the notepad in front of Sam. "No New Jersey."
"Fine, whatever." A slash of Sam's pen knocked it off the list and he scanned up and down the page, looking for a state that Dean hadn't already vetoed.
"Maine?" he tried, and Dean shook his head.
"Too fucking cold in the winter. And their diners suck."
Sam took a moment to roll his eyes. "One crummy diner doesn't mean you should write off the whole state. Utah?"
Dean scoffed. "Do I look like a farmer to you, Sam? And no, looking after your sorry Sasquatch ass does not count as animal husbandry."
Sam slashed the page with a bit more force than was strictly necessary. "Wyoming, then. Mountains and warm summers. It was good enough for Yogi Bear," he added, which actually seemed to give Dean pause. Sam resisted the urge to roll his eyes again. How Dean had managed to live into his thirties with priorities like that was absolutely beyond him.
"Nah," Dean decided finally. Sam huffed out an irritated breath.
"Dare I ask why not?"
"Because nobody actually lives in Wyoming," Dean said, as though it was obvious.
Sam resisted the urge to count backwards from ten. "What."
"You ever actually meet anybody from Wyoming outside of Wyoming? No, because there isn't anyone." Dean waved a vague hand towards the map open on Sam's laptop. "And it's completely fucking square. S'just a space filler because they didn't want to make Idaho any bigger. Not that I blame 'em; Idaho's too damn big already."
"That," said Sam. "Might be the dumbest thing I've ever heard you say."
Dean flashed a grin at him. "Then you're a shit listener. What's next?"
Sam looked. "South Dako-"
"No," Dean said, in his 'serious as fuck' voice. "Cross it off."
Sam wanted to throw his hands in the air and demand that Dean knock it off with the bullshit already, but the look on Dean's face stopped him. Dean had long since perfected his stony, I-don't-have-feelings face, but right now he was wearing the version he usually reserved for slurs on Dad, reminders of Hell and Sam being something other than alive.
Cold Oak, he realized, and felt a phantom pain in his back at the thought. Without a word, Sam crossed South Dakota off. After a moment's consideration, took off Indiana as well. He didn't want to live in the state where he'd watched Dean's deal come due, either.
Dean's expression eased when it became clear that Sam wasn't going to push it. "Good. Hit me with it, Sammy. What's next?"
"Texas." Sam gave Dean a triumphant look. "Barbeque, sunshine and little old ladies making you apple pie."
Dean shook his head. "No good."
Sam threw the list at him. "Seriously? Why the hell not, Dean?"
"Because I don't feel like having to fend off homophobic douchebags every other week," Dean shot back. "Gimme that pen."
Sam stared at him, taken aback.
"What?" Dean asked, automatic and defensive. He didn't look up from the notepad, where it looked like he was crossing off the rest of the southern states as well.
"Nothing," Sam said, in exactly the same tone of voice. "I just hadn't realized we were setting ourselves up as a gay couple and not brothers."
"It makes more sense," Dean said, his voice smooth and precise. He'd practiced this argument. "We might be dead a couple times over, but there's no sense risking getting recognized as those homicidal brothers from the TV."
"Uh huh. Dean, I don't think -"
"Besides, two guys our age, living together? And no girlfriends in sight? No way anyone's gonna believe we're brothers." Dean grinned, sharp and filthy. "Especially since you like it so much when I scream."
Sam was horrified to feel a flush creeping up his neck. "Knock it off."
Dean's shrug was overly casual. "M'just saying. You're good at making me beg and someone's gonna notice eventually. I'm pretty sure that incestuous gay sex is worse than regular old gay sex." He paused thoughtfully, and ignored Sam's wince at the word 'incest'. "I wonder if brother-sister incest is less bad than brother-brother incest? Or parent-kid incest, I guess."
"God," Sam groaned. "Would you just shut up already?"
Dean bared his teeth. "Make me."
The resulting scuffle resulted in a broken lamp, two sprained fingers on Sam's left hand and Dean nearly getting a concussion, but it also got Sam laid, which was always nice. It also made him think that maybe Dean was right about pretending they weren't brothers. Dean was damn noisy when he was getting fucked.
"So?" Dean said afterwards, sprawled sticky and self-satisfied across the ruined sheets. "What else is on the list?"
Laboriously, Sam flung one arm over the side of the bed and flailed around until he found his notepad. The list was one long page of frustrated black pen strokes. "Canada."
Dean snorted. "Like fuck. Guess we're going to have to start again from the top."
And if Sam didn't hit him this time, it was only because he had more interesting ways of making Dean sorry.
After much deliberation, they finally settled on somewhere in New England, which Dean complained bitterly about because he was a picky son of a bitch. Sam decided to ignore him.
They made their way unhurriedly up the coast, Sam pulling up the local real estate listings when he wasn't busy researching their latest hunt. Dean took it upon himself to deal with the logistics of actually looking at the houses, which was a terrifying process that generally included breaking and entering ("Most people don't break into houses they're thinking of buying, Dean." "Then it's their fault if they ever get robbed. This is a piece of shit lock."); critiquing the interior decorating ("What's with all the fucking roosters in the kitchens? Don't they sell other kinds of wallpaper?"); and banging around through the house in a way that made Sam wonder if Dean actually had the faintest idea of what he was doing ("I'm really not sure you should be touching-" "Fuck." "...That." "You know, I'm really not that keen on this house, anyway.").
Sam thought sometimes that Dean had looked up 'normal' in the dictionary and said 'I can do better than that'. It would explain a lot.
Their search got temporarily derailed in Maryland when one of the houses they looked at turned out to be inhabited by a very surly poltergeist who didn't appreciate their tendencies toward home invasion. Sam considered it a sad reflection on his life that he found the house rather more interesting as a result.
"Well," Dean said, after a rousing evening spent knocking holes in walls and getting attacked by inanimate objects. Dean had been the one getting half-strangled for once and his voice was gritty like scotch over ice. "That'll raise the property value."
Sam hummed in agreement. "Probably why the asking price is so low in the first place." He hauled himself to his feet, trying not to wince at the pull on freshly bruised skin. Damn but he was still far too young to feel so old so easily.
A glance over his shoulder found Dean still sprawled out on the dining room floor, wearing a thoughtful expression that sent alarm bells ringing in Sam's head.
"You're not serious."
Dean shrugged. "I could be. You said it yourself: the price is lower than it would've been if it hadn't been haunted. And it's not like we've got an unlimited supply of supernatural crackerjack prizes to sell off to come up with the deposit."
"There was a poltergeist living in it, Dean."
"It's a fixer upper."
Sam shook his head. "I can't believe we're discussing this."
"I can." Dean gave Sam an assessing once-over. "You've been even more of a bitch since we started this whole house thing. Something you wanna share with the class, Sammy?"
"No," Sam said, because some things never changed, no matter how much either of them might have wanted to do better.
"Sure," Dean said, sounding profoundly unconvinced. He sighed and hooked an arm over the seat of the closest chair, pulling himself upright. "You change your mind? Not so keen on your apple pie life when I'm in it?"
"I'm not the one who's afraid of commitment!" Sam snapped and he didn't need Dean's stormy frown to know that he was being a hypocrite. He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. "It's just weird, okay? Us, looking for a house."
Dean's mouth twisted into something that wasn't quite a smirk. "Tell me about it. But we can't live out of a car forever and I fucking refuse to buy a camper van, so you'd better get used to it."
"You know, I used to think we would," Sam admitted. "Live out of the car forever, I mean."
Dean snorted. "Was that supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing?" he asked, and didn't need Sam's mirthless smile to know the answer.
"I used to dream we'd get a real house," Sam continued, almost wistfully. "Be a real family, like everyone else." He huffed out a sigh, ignoring the way Dean very deliberately didn't flinch at his words. "Guess that doesn't matter so much any more."
"Probably a good thing, what with the us fucking on the regular thing," Dean said. Sam could taste the bitterness in it when he added, "Pretty sure that's not something real families do."
"It's not what normal families do," Sam corrected. He glanced over at Dean. "But normal and real aren't the same thing."
Which was about as close to a heart-to-heart as they ever got, so Sam wasn't surprised when Dean looked away instead of letting Sam see whatever expression was on his face.
"So," Dean said, after a moment. "Does that mean we're going to put an offer in?"
And Sam bit back a grin, recognizing the words for the peace offering that they were. "Not until we check it out properly," he said, which obviously hadn't been quite the answer Dean was expecting, judging by the look on his face. "Who knows what kind of damage that poltergeist has done. And we'll want to check out the neighbourhood too; see if it's a good place to put down roots. Cause there's no way I'm doing this house hunting crap again."
"Lazy bastard," Dean said, in the tone of voice that meant he was smiling. He climbed to his feet and scooped up his flashlight off the floor. "Come on then. You can take the first floor."
"Well that sucked," Dean said as they let themselves out into the cool night air an hour or so later. In the light from the streetlamps, Sam could just about make out the darker shadows around Dean's neck from his run-in with the vacuum cleaner cord. Sam looked forward to replacing them with his own bruises when they got back to the motel.
"Guess that's it for this city. We'll have to figure out where we're going next." Dean circled round to the driver's side and looked at Sam over the roof of the car. "Looks like you're going to have to put up with living out of a car for a little while longer, Sam."
"I'll live," Sam said, smiling because it was true, and in more ways than one. "Hungry?"
"Fucking starved. Who knew buying a house was such a pain in the ass?" The shocks creaked as Dean slid into the car and slammed the door behind him. "I saw an all-night burger joint not far from the highway. You order a salad and I will disown you."
The engine roared to live and Sam sat back as Dean pulled out, sinking into the familiar sensation of cock rock blasting out of the speakers at a much too-high volume for the late hour and the steady presence of his brother at his side.
They'd find the right house eventually but, until then, Sam could honestly say that he'd never felt more at home in his life.