Pairing: Sam/Dean, Sam/Jess, and Sam/Dean/Jess
Summary: Dean goes to Stanford to live with Sam. There, they meet Jess.
Notes/Acknowledgments: Betad by cherie_morte and sophie_448, written for waterofthemoon for spnthreesome, and that bitch better love this. ♥
Warnings: For slight college!AU, incest, het, slash, and a Helen Keller joke.
After two weeks, Sam stops crying himself to sleep.
After a month, he stops expecting Dean to call.
He doesn't stop hoping.
It's the middle of December. Just far enough in that Winter Break is within sight, but just early enough that there seems to be an actual, real chance of killing yourself by repeatedly stabbing yourself in the eye with a pencil before break.
It's raining, which is pretty much the closest that Palo Alto seems to come to snow as far as he's concerned, and the sky has been mottled grey and darker grey for the last week. Sam kinda likes it. It reminds him of most of the places he grew up.
It doesn't hurt that the only thing that could make it better, Dean, is currently passed out on Sam's bed, soaking through his crappy sheets and thin dorm-issue mattress. He has no idea why Dean's there, but he doesn't care, because it's Dean.
Sam's nose has been running for a few days, and he's sneezing so much he's started looking around for cats following him. So he can't afford to get any sicker than he already is. It's only a small cold now, but colds have always had a tendency to take running leaps into pneumonia with him.
But Dean is apparently here now, and that's all that matters.
Sam climbs into bed and manages to burrow himself into Dean's side: disgusting, wet, smelly jacket pressed against his face, Dean's arm tight over his side, pulling him close.
Sam still doesn't talk to Dad.
Dad still doesn't talk to Sam.
Dean doesn't mind it as much as he thought he would.
Who knew Winchesters could peacefully coexist as long as two of them were never within punching range of each other?
It happened like this:
John came back from an interview, not for a hunt but for an actual job, while they were trapped and waiting for the new cards to come in.
Dean was drunker than, well, than John got right around the holidays, and that said something about them both.
It was ten-thirty in the morning.
John Winchester is a stubborn, stubborn man, and he will be the very first person to tell you that.
But John Winchester is not a stupid man, and he knew then that the only way to keep Dean alive was to kick the sad out of his ass.
There was really only one way to do that.
Sam, at his happiest, was miserable at Stanford. He grew up his entire life with a big brother attached to his hip, and he didn't know how to be a person by himself.
Dean never learned how to exist without a Sam, either.
John packed Dean's duffel, washed his car, tossed Dean the keys, and gave him his marching orders.
"Palo Alto's supposed to be good this time of year," he told him.
Dean tried to put up a fight, but Helen Keller could tell his heart wasn't in it.
Dean calls Dad on Fridays, tells him how the week went, tells him about Sam's classes, and tells him he's keeping Sam safe.
He hangs up as Sam comes out of his last class of the day. Throws an arm over Sam's bony shoulder and pulls his lanky ass close on their way to the restaurant.
They eat and eat and then eat some more, because college kids and their mostly-unemployed older brothers take "All You Can Eat" as a personal challenge.
They see a movie after, sometimes a new one, but usually one at the discount theater down the street, and they stay out as late as possible, until Sam is falling asleep on Dean's shoulder, and Dean can't bear the crick in his neck anymore.
Then Sam heads back to the dorm he hates, Dean heads back to his car, and they count the days until Sam can escape his stupid fucking mandatory dorm housing and Dean can find someone willing to hire a guy with questionable hygiene, a G.E.D., and no previous addresses for the last seven years.
Dean clears out a clusterfuck of ghosts (a completely official term) from an apartment some douche frat kid lives in, and the kid is so shit-scared of the place that he refuses to go back.
It's no skin off Dean's back—as much as he loves his girl, he misses not having to take a shower out of a fucking bag. The rent sounds high, but Dean doesn't really have a lot to compare it to, and fifty dollar motel room translates to about fifteen hundred dollars a month, which is a lot to pay for a room that probably has people stains all over most of it. So high is in the eye of the beholder, or something like that.
He still doesn't have a job, but cash advances on credit cards go a long way towards helping.
Sam waits tables at a bar and grill, and smiles big and broad while serving kids whose parents pay thousands and thousands of dollars for them to bitch about their homework and not have to pay their own rent.
Dean will find a job soon, Sam's sure of it. He figures construction would be perfect for him, but apparently a barely-functional social security number is a deal breaker for most companies.
Dean feels sort of strange about the fact that he has to get his dad to make him a fake identity just so he can get himself a job.
Not guilty, just strange.
But it gets him a job in a garage, and somehow he still has the job at the end of the week, even though he tells a guy in a Toyota Corolla to kill himself and gets smacked by some blonde chick that runs over his foot with her Italian douchemobile.
It's probably because he can rebuild an engine faster than anyone else there, and his girl is the car equivalent of a hot piece of ass.
The pay could be better, but it's weekly and more or less honest, and rarely involves him having to edge his way out of a drunken beat-down by a group of rednecks who don't know a nine-ball from a seven.
Sam moves in the second he gets his chance, packs his small bag of junk and tosses it in the car, like he's done every few months for pretty much his entire life, minus the times they got stuck somewhere due to an injury that wouldn't let someone out of the hospital.
It's better this time though, because when the car stops he'll still be going to the same school, he won't have to say goodbye to any of his friends, and the bed he and Dean share will not only be able to fit both of them, but will be shared from want, not necessity.
Dean barely lets Sam get in the door before he tackles him. They break the table, and Sam is sure his back snaps a little, too, but it's fun and a good time is had by all but their downstairs neighbors.
Sam apologizes to them later that night, red-faced with big, dark hickeys all over his neck, and promises that it won't happen again.
Sam's friends know Dean, and they know Sam, clearly, but they don't seem to know what to make of Sam and Dean.
Dean and Sam had a "talk" about it the first night after Sam's cold let him be conscious for more than a minute and a half at a time and agreed that they didn't want to pretend they weren't brothers, but Sam is a great big girl and wanted to be able to do pansy stuff like hold Dean's hand in public, so they decided to introduce each other only by name, and let everyone think what they want.
Sam tried to hold Dean's hand once, and Dean elbowed him in the kidney so hard that Sam fell off the sidewalk into the grass. Sam or not, Dean Winchester does not do public displays of affection.
There's a girl with long, blonde curls that don't look like they've been drowned in peroxide. She's got on a short dress with those weird cut-out things all over it that Dean doesn't understand but appreciates nonetheless.
She sits herself on the coffee table in front of them and asks flat-out if they're dating or not. Dean would peg her for drunk, but she's got a bottle of some of that weird smoothie-on-the-go shit and she's not swaying in place.
Sam just laughs a little, smirks, and doesn't answer. Blondie leans right into Sam's space and kisses him hard. It doesn't look like a particularly enjoyable kiss, but then again, any kiss that involves one of the people participating in it windmilling their arms like a cartoon coyote about to fall off a cliff can't be that fun.
It's kinda hot though and really hilarious, so Dean makes sure to get a picture of it on his phone, laughing while he does and telling Sam to hold still for the lady, dammit, he's not going to get cooties.
Blondie's name is Jess, but Dean still likes Blondie more. She's got that Deborah Harry attitude to her and it fits her. Sam is a loser and tries not to date her because he seems to think that Dean actually cares whether he does or doesn't.
It's a stupid thought, because Dean knows Sam, and he knows they can't function without each other, can barely exist, and no one is going to change that, no matter how fucking awesome their tits might be. Dean's been there, he's tried that, he's taken the fucking antibiotics.
Sam and Jess are the kind of disgustingly cute couple that drive Dean insane. He really isn't jealous; it's that they're in that honeymoon phase with all the embarrassing nicknames and gazing at each other adoringly, and fucking hand-holding.
Dean just wants them to get past that phase and into people territory again, because he really just can't make himself talk to any human being who actually calls another person "Sweetie-Pie" without mocking them.
The "Sweetie-Pie" thing does not go away, is actually just a Jess trait, according to her friends, who are now Sam's friends, and have decided they are Dean's friends, too.
Dean is not used to having friends. It's weird. Sam has always been his best friend, and after Sam is his girl, and Dean doesn't care how fucking lame or sad it is that his only friends are his brother and his car, they are two of the four things in the world that have never let him down and have always been there for him, even when they didn't want to be.
He's not sure he really wants friends, especially ones that are all like Sam. Not that Sam isn't awesome, but Dean is too smart to be the stupidest person in the room on a regular basis, and sometimes, okay a lot of the time, Dean is pretty sure that if Sam weren't coded into his DNA he would beat the shit out of him and steal his lunch money daily. Or at least that card thing that Stanford gives him to eat with.
Jess is not actually a bad chick.
She has some seriously questionable taste in guys, not to mention obvious issues with her eyesight, and she has a fondness for pet names that make Dean want to throw up all over the place, but she doesn't put up with shit from Sam and spends most of her time covered in paint or chalk or some other weird-ass shit that only seems to make it to her canvas once in a blue moon.
Dean's always had a soft spot for chicks that don't mind getting their hands dirty.
She can only cook marginally better than Sam and seems to have all the coordination of a baby giraffe, but she treats Sam right and Dean has yet to hear the fight about the sex Sam keeps putting off because he's too stupid to think of the words "Dean sleeps on the couch". Of course, all the uglies they're bumping in the back seat of his girl every time Dean tosses Sam the keys might have more to do with that than anything else.
Jess's things start to migrate out of her dorm room. Sam doesn't even notice it at first, not until he almost kicks over her easel one day and only barely manages to save it from hitting the TV and causing both of their eventual deaths.
He notices it after that, her toothbrush and her special brand of toothpaste, her own bar of soap in the shower, her shirts and underwear mixed in with theirs in the dirty laundry, and even tampons under the sink. Sam is man enough to admit that that he may have freaked out a little, once he realized what the box was. In hindsight, he feels kinda stupid for missing it all, but he's happy to blame that on Dean and all the bras that used to migrate their way into the backseat over the years.
Sam has a moment or twelve of panic, not because he doesn't want Jess moving in or thinks they're moving too fast, but because he doesn't particularly want to move her into the apartment he shares with his brother without actually talking to his brother about it. And, yeah, part of him feels selfish about it too, because, even without the sex, he likes sleeping with Dean, likes coming home and crawling into bed to the smell of Dean's aftershave and his soap and the feel of Dean's arms around him.
He doesn't want to give it up.
Jess likes treating Dean like he's a piece of living furniture; a couch with a heartbeat, or a chair with its own interactive seat-belt. She grabs plates of dinner and climbs on his lap in the good chair, legs kicked over the chair's arms, elbow resting on his shoulder, and big smile turned towards the television set. She stretches out on the couch, head and shoulders resting on Sam's thigh while he runs his fingers through her hair, with her feet resting nicely in Dean's lap, his thumb passing back and forth over the bone of her ankle.
She doesn't stay the night often, and when she does it's not on purpose and almost always involves her falling asleep on Sam, Dean, or more often than not, both of them while they all veg out on the couch. As many times as they've all fallen asleep on it, she knows that line about Dean crashing there is a giant load of bullshit, and, sure, it's kinda weird that they split a bed, but she has it on good authority that Becky still crawls in with Zach sometimes if she has a nightmare, and Becky has never accidentally given Jess a black eye with her midnight flailings like Sam has.
Besides, the couch really is just a gigantic piece of shit, and there's no way that Dean would be able to stand, much less function, after a week on it.
She loves Sam so much it scares her a little, enough that she coordinates her classes next semester with him and schedules her shifts around his and skips out on weekend trips home for more time with him.
What's even scarier, is that when she pictures her future, it's in a big house, with dogs and a fence, maybe a kid or two in the very far future if she feels like it, her art on the walls hanging next to her degrees from Stanford and John Hopkins, and Sam and Dean laughing and bickering at the table like the idiots they are.
Jess is the most liberal person she knows, even more politically liberal than her older brother, who lives with his gay rights advocate boyfriend in Castro, but she's a little freaked out that apparently she wants to spend forever with her boyfriend and his older brother.
She, clearly, has not broached this topic with Sam, because she is smart and would really not like to be dumped by the most amazing guy she knows, even if he does have questionable... well, everything at times.
Sam and Dean get into a fight.
Jess doesn't know why or what over, all she sees is the aftermath; Dean's broken nose, black eyes, and broken fingers. Sam looks perfectly fine but refuses to take off his shirt for a week and a half because he says he doesn't want to show her the “ugly purple bruises” that mottle his clearly delicate little ribcage.
Sam is a shitty liar, and always has been. Dean won't stop hunting, but he works at a place where a car could conceivably fall on him, so there's really no reason for Sam to make up crappy stories that Dean knows Jess doesn't buy for half a second.
Jess isn't an idiot and, besides, no one has a fight with another person that involves broken bones and is then the exact same fine with them that they've always been just a few hours later. People are not that well-adjusted, and, even on the rare occasions when Sam and Dean did fight that bad, it took even them a couple of days to get back to normal.
Sam breaks his foot. The dumb shit doesn't even do it on a hunt, because he's too busy telling Dean that hunts are dangerous and he shouldn't go on them to actually hunt any himself. He does it trying to walk up the stairs to his Art History class.
One foot steps on the shoelace to the other one and the next step fails so miserably that Sam ends up with a walking cast, a shit-ton of pain killers, and the most pathetic little-kid scrapes on his hands and the underside of his chin.
The hospital drugs him so far out of his mind that Dean and Jess have to mostly carry Sam from the car to the apartment and into bed. Dean doesn't actually want to leave him alone, and he isn't stupid enough to think Jess is gonna go home and study, so the next thing they do is move the TV into the bedroom and call for Chinese.
When Dean wakes up in the morning, Sam has twisted and rolled enough that he's using Dean's stomach as a pillow, arm wrapped tight in the blanket he's clutching to his face, and Jess isn't much better, laying half over Sam's head, contorted with her back pressed up against Dean's side and her ass about level with his shoulder.
Somehow, it's not as awkward as Dean's sure it should be. Probably because he's the only one awake, and there's no one to make awkward comments to.
She keeps trying to go home. Dean can see in her eyes, in her body language and the way she won't look at him when she says it that it's not what she actually wants to do. He knows Sam, knows what a giant idiot he is, and knows that the kid would not man up and ask her to move in except for maybe under the threat of death, and even then it's only a possibility.
So Dean does the same thing he always does and mans up for him. Unfortunately for Dean, Sam just had to go and fall for a girl who likes to talk just as much as he does, so she doesn't let him go with just a yes, and instead insists on having some long, drawn-out conversation with him about crap.
He thought he was being smart, too, waiting until Sam left for class so he could have a couple of hours alone with her.
Sam's stupid, stupid, stupid idiot of an older brother offers to fucking move out and let them have the apartment. Jess is beyond pissed. She's offended and hurt and it takes everything in her power, every single last ounce of self-restraint, to keep herself from smacking him right across his moronic face.
She would never break them up like that. It's a crass way to say it, but it quacks like a duck and, for God's sake, when she met them she didn't know if they were fucking or fucking related. She's had time to get used to the thought that the two options might not be mutually exclusive.
Dean doesn't know where he goes wrong, or how, but Jess glares at him for a week straight after their talk, and, when Sam asks him why, he honestly can't answer it.
Sam's foot is all better, no cast or boot or anything, and he's celebrating it by getting drunk. Technically, Zach is celebrating the fact that it's Wednesday, and Sam also happens to have a foot that no longer requires anything to hold it in place, so Zach latches on to that and throws a party in Sam and Dean's apartment.
Dean is less than thrilled, because people keep touching his shit and he has loaded guns in all kinds of places and that, combined with drunk people, leads absolutely nowhere good. But Dean likes being the cool townie, so he doesn't really want to kick everyone out, even though he is pretty sure that an ambulance will be needed sometime before the party is over. He can't bring himself to stop it.
Thankfully, Jess has no problems with doing it and also has a cell phone and a functioning brain. She vanishes from the party for about twenty minutes before coming back with a smile on her face and an overgrown puppy that answers to Sam, who is drunk enough to be giggling into her neck from where he's draped himself over her.
The cops come knocking soon after that, claiming noise complaints and multiple calls, and they herd everyone out. The only thing better would have been if they had made everyone clean up the now even bigger shit-hole of an apartment before they left. Jess stays behind to help, because, even though she didn't take up Dean's offer, she tends to treat the apartment like it's hers anyway.
Sam is more entertainment than help, but he makes less of a mess if they hand him a garbage bag and tell him to be a basketball hoop while they throw trash at him. Jess wins two games of PIG, Dean wins three games of HORSE, and then she wins 21-9 by cheating her ass off and grabbing Dean's every time he goes for a shot.
Jess comes back from class one day with four people and twelve bags of clothes, makeup, books, and some things that neither Sam nor Dean want to know anything about. She shoos her overgrown helper elves out and sets down what could possibly be called rules, but are more like exclamations that are to be treated as law and threats against vital parts of their bodies.
"First things first," she tells them, setting down a gigantic brown arc of a purse on their butcher's block table and focusing on Dean. "If you attempt to move out at any point in time, I reserve the right to take one of your 'collectible' handguns and shoot you until you stop."
This is apparently not up for discussion, and, so the boys sit and listen, with minimal kicking of each other's legs, except for when they really need it.
They get a new couch that day, and Jess makes sure it's perfect by laying all over it, and all over the boys on it. She gets them free delivery by crying when the Very Unimpressed Manager tells them it's an extra hundred dollars to have the couch delivered from less than five miles away. It works because she never told Sam or Dean that she could cry on command, and nobody with any kind of survival instinct says no to one pissed off Winchester, much less two of them.
No one sleeps on the couch that night. Mostly because they still haven't moved the TV from when Sam broke his foot and it's hard to watch a movie through a wall. They pass out together in the bed, with Jess falling asleep last. She's got Sam curled around her back and Dean's chest warm and solid underneath her head.
It's nice, and she doesn't want it to change; doesn't want Dean to sleep on the couch or another bed, doesn't want Sam and Dean to try to stop being SamandDean. But there's really no classy way to say, "I'm okay with you fucking your brother". She knows it's not just sex, which is the only reason she's okay with it, but it's still the same principal.
Sam gets a text during his AbPsych class, of all things. It's from Jess and says, Only thing hotter than you + Dean is you + me + Dean. Y/Y? He doesn't have a response for that, doesn't think there is one, and can't help but freak out in his head for the rest of the afternoon.
He skips his last class, tells his professor he thinks maybe he's got food poisoning, and she likes him, so she gives him a print-out of the Powerpoint and tells him to go before he throws up, which is good, because he's pretty sure he's going to any minute.
Dean is still at work, thank God, when Sam gets home, so he's not there to bear witness to the horror that unfolds in their apartment. The horror is all on Sam's end, by the way. They talk for hours, pretty much right up until the second Dean walks in the door, and no matter what she says, Sam is still sure that this is some elaborate way to break up with him, or escape him and Dean and their admittedly fucked-up codependent vortex of doom.
When Dean walks in the door he does that stupid, "Honey, I'm home," thing he does every day that still isn't funny, but this time Jess greets him with a kiss. He kisses back at first, then jumps back like he's been burned, eyes wide, hand going to the back of his head. Sam knows that face, knows it better than his own, and that is Dean about to turn tail and run like hell.
"Dean," Sam calls, grabbing his attention. He doesn't really need to say anything now; words wouldn't do it justice anyway. He raises his eyebrows, shrugs a shoulder and can feel his mouth twitch just a fraction.
"Yeah," Dean says, swiping at his mouth and stopping his retreat. "Yeah, okay."
The sex is not the best in the world. Mainly because Jess is five-eleven and a half barefoot, Dean is six-one or six-two depending on if he's leaving a Circle K or being arrested, Sam is six-feet, five inches of sharp elbows and bony knees, and their bed is a standard king.
Dean falls off of it twice, but its okay, because Sam has a headache and Jess has a split lip from Sam's thick skull connecting with the bottom of her chin.
"Okay," Jess says, coming back from the bathroom with a washcloth to her mouth. "So we're awkward. Honestly, I would've been kinda freaked out if everything went smoothly."
Dean says that it was good enough for him, on account of everyone coming and no one ending up dead, shot, maimed, or anything worse. Jess is a little scared of Dean's sex life if everyone still being alive is good enough for him, but she will not accept "Good enough" as an answer. Dean deserves better, and so does Sam, and she knows they can do better than that, even as she's climbing on Dean.
Besides, they have plenty of time to practice.