epic tattoo is epic

You just had to squint.

Sam would think about it in the shower sometimes. He would look down at his leg and really try to make it out. He had been eight years old and determined as hell but he still can’t believe he had convinced Dean. Sure it was faded and underneath the hair that had grown in there but he could feel its phantom throb, like a ghost.

                                                   ***

“You’re not gonna tell Dad are you?”

“Dude, if Dad knew I was letting you do this I would be the dead man, not you. Now c’mon already. You wanna do this or what?”

Sam was seated on the edge of the tub in their tiny motel bathroom, shivering as the cold porcelain chilled him through his boxers. Dean kneeled in front of him, knife poised at the ready.

“Yeah, umm … right here.” Sam pointed at a spot high on the front of his right thigh, glancing at his brother for confirmation.

Dean shifted over closer, tilting his head to get a better view in the sickly fluorescent light. He held the knife with a steady hand and lightly traced a capital letter ‘D’ about the size of a quarter.

“No De, the other way.”

“Sammy, it’s gonna be upside down when you stand up.”

“Don’t care, it’ll be right to me. I’m the only one ‘spose to look at it anyway.”

“Okay buddy last chance, you sure?”

“Positive. Come oooooon.”

“Shaddup, no whining. Now don’t move.”

Dean had sharpened his knife special just for this. He applied just enough pressure that Sam’s skin parted easily under the blade. It slipped soft and wet through layers of skin until the blood beads pooled together and dripped lazily down his inner thigh. Sam didn’t even flinch.

Dean reached for a white hand towel he had wet in the sink and wiped away the blood to get a better look at his handiwork. Then came the cheap motel pen, the one with Lonely Oaks printed on the side, the bottom pulled off with his teeth. Removing the ink tube he used the knife to slit the plastic open with surgical precision and scooped a pea sized amount into his finger. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, he used his clean hand to sweep the hair out of his brother’s face as he met his eyes.

“Sammy, this is gonna be here forever.”

“Promise?” Sam beamed.

Mirroring his smile Dean dabbed the ink into the fresh cut skin and rubbed it in small deliberate circles until the exposed flesh underneath was stained. Then using the towel again he wiped away the excess until all that remained was a dark black ‘D’.

“Okay, my turn. No stoppit Sam, don’t touch it.”

Sam complied obediently as Dean lowered the toilet lid and sat. He stood to get closer and Dean batted him away.

“Dude, you’re in my light. Just wait a second.”

Sucking his lower lip into his mouth in concentration Dean began. One smooth fluid motion carved a ‘S’ into his thigh in same spot. He had made the top curve a little smaller than the bottom. Just so you could tell when he stood up, his was upside down too.

“Dean, you didn’t have to do it the exact same way you know.”

Dean raised his eyebrows and shrugged.

“I dunno kiddo, looks right to me.”

More rubbing, more ink mixed with blood sinking into open wounds. After a quick wipe with the towel now made black and red with ink and their blood, Dean motioned him over.

Sam dropped down and rested his chin on his brother’s knee, considering the mark for a moment. He grabbed the remnants of the pen that was discarded on the floor and dipped his finger into the last traces of ink. Pressing a flushed pink cheek to Dean’s thigh he slowly reached forward to trace an inky finger over the ‘S’ until the line was smeared in black and blood.

Sam knew the repetitive motion had to hurt but Dean didn’t say a word. His own mark had stung but it now blossomed into a burn, warm and comforting. Traveling up his leg and through the bottom of his stomach until it wrapped around his heart and filled his chest to bursting. He felt Dean’s fingers running through his hair and closed his eyes. Two boys just touching and breathing and branded together, forever.

“Okay Sammy, let’s get that covered.” Dean’s voice broke the comfortable silence and Sam raised his head reluctantly; pulling himself back up to his perch on the tub. Dean sorted through bandages in their first aid kit until he found one just the right size.

“Now it’s gonna itch, but don’t pick at it okay? You’ll ruin it and it won’t scar right. Got it?”

“Got it.”

Dean paused, his face inches from the fresh cuts. Sam held his breath and watched. His big brother, his initial. A sorry excuse for a tattoo but it was there. A little part of Dean in a little part of him. Dean closed the distance and softly pressed a kiss to the spot, holding his lips against him. Sam felt the vibration of a chuckle before he pulled back and stuck the bandage over, trapping in the warmth of his lips.

“There. Whatcha think Sammy?”

Sam just shot him another blindingly bright smile and flung himself forward, tucking his face under Dean’s chin where the soft breath of his words would tickle the skin there.

“Just you and me. That’s all we need right De?”

Dean wrapped his arms around Sam and held on tight. And Sam felt surrounded in every bit of pride and protection and love he had in his touch. He tried to drown in it. Sam swallowed against the ache swelling in his chest and let Dean squeeze so hard that Sam was sure that he was gonna crush him. Sometimes he loved his Dean so much it hurt. But Sam never complained.

“You know it kiddo. You and me, come whatever.”

                                                      ***

So Sam would think about it when he got out of the shower sometimes. He would look down at his leg and really try to make it out. Dean had been twelve years old and his entire world but he still can’t believe he had gone along with it. Sure it was faded and stretched along with his skin but you could still see the gray traces of lines like a ghost. You just had to squint.

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