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The Three Body Problem

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"I would like to date you."

Dean blinks. He can't quite put together the words into a meaningful sentence. He looks up at Cas to make sure he heard correctly, but Cas isn't meeting his eyes – or Sam's either – so he's not exactly sure which one of them Cas had been talking to.

"Um," Dean says eloquently.

"Cas," Sam says, trying to catch his eyes. Cas is stubbornly staring at both of them, fixing his eyes on the space between their chairs, halfway between them. "Cas." When Cas still won't meet Sam's eyes, he sighs and pushes his hair back behind his ears. "Who were you talking to? We can't answer you if we don't know."

Cas clears his throat. "Both of you. I would like to date both of you."

Oh my God, Dean thinks, his eyes going wide, it's Lanie McMillan all over again.

Lanie McMillan from Snoozeville, Iowa, the girl Sam'd bet Dean he could get to go out with him first. She did go out with Sam first, but she dropped her panties for Dean, and they didn't talk for a very frosty several weeks after that.

And then it hits Dean like a ton of bricks – he doesn't date guys. And neither does Sam. He opens his mouth to say as much, but Sam swoops in first. "You mean, you want to date us at the same time."

Dean stares at Sam for a half a second, and then looks back to Cas. "I don't understand."

"I want to date you, both of you. Together."

Yeah, that's what he said before, but Dean still cannot wrap his mind around whatever Cas is trying to say.

"You don't have to ask us at the same time," Sam says. "You can ask us individually, you know."

"No," Cas says, sounding exasperated, which is kind of hilarious because Dean is just completely bewildered and Sam is patiently trying to unravel whatever the hell Cas is trying to say like he's explaining how to tie your shoes to a kindergartner. "I want to date both of you at the same time. On the same date."

"Both of us, like, a couple," Sam says. "Like we're half of the date, and you're half of the date."

Cas nods, finally meeting Sam's eyes and grinning at him like he wins the gold star. Dean can feel his mouth drop open because this has gone from a typical sort of Cas-strange to absolutely the weirdest thing that's ever happened to him, and he's got a mind to pinch himself to see if he's asleep.

"We're not a couple," Dean says. "We're brothers." That's got to be the end of the argument, though really, the not-dating-guys thing should have cinched it before it began.

Cas turns his eyes on Dean then, finally, and Dean has a surprisingly hard time holding Cas's gaze. His eyes skitter away after a few seconds. "Is that a no?" Cas asks.

Dean turns to Sam. Sam looks about as dumbfounded as Dean feels, so at least he's not the only one who was taken by surprise. "Cas," Sam says, and Cas's gaze shifts back to Sam, and man, it's like the old Cas is here, the one that could stare through the cracks in your defenses and make you feel like you were having the going-to-school-naked-dream. Sam shifts a little, sitting back in his chair. "Cas, we can't date you like that because we're not…" Sam seems to stall out, looking for the right word, and Dean fills in, "…gay?"

Because really, the dating guys thing.

Cas turns back to him with a head tilt this time, his "humans are such a strange species" look. "My penis bothers you?"

And that's really just it, Sam starts laughing – a surprised stutter that makes Dean laugh too, and then Sam's laughing so hard he turns red in the face and Dean can't help but follow suit. This is the strangest conversation he's ever had in his entire life and as he wipes a tear away, he thinks thank God for Cas because he's fairly certain it won't be in the top spot for long.

Cas sighs and leaves them laughing like a couple of baboons. They calm down after a few minutes and a few fresh bouts of uncontrollable laughter, and finally Sam sighs and says, "We're going to have to talk to him."

"Yeah, I know," Dean says. He doesn't want to, though, and he's the king of avoidance. Sam may be able to make him talk, but Cas hasn't mastered that trick yet. "You can go let him down easy. I'll be the strong silent type."

Sam shakes his head, his disappointment with Dean clear, but he pushes away from the table and pulls on his boots to follow Cas outside. Dean decides to spread out on the couch. It's the perfect time for a nap.

~~~

The sound of Sam and Cas clomping in wakes him up. He rubs his eyes, trying to decide if he wants to ignore them and pretend the whole thing didn't happen, or check in with Sam to make sure Cas's feelings aren't hurt. He's not sure when he turned into such a sap, but he thinks it might have been when Sam started getting sick with the trials. It was the first time he really, honestly believed Sam might die, and it scared the crap out of him.

He cracks an eye open and isn't surprised to see Sam and Cas shucking their outdoor clothes. Sam catches his eye and makes an "I tried" face – which is sooooo not good enough. He shuts his eyes and pretends to be asleep.

"I know you're not really sleeping," Cas says.

Dean sighs. "I want to be."

He hears a bit of rustling, figures it's one or the other of them peeling off their outer layers, and nearly jumps out of his skin when someone sits on the couch near his legs. His eyes snap open and he's looking at – of course – Cas. Sam's looming behind him, hands at his sides. He's never been one to cross his arms, but that's the feeling Dean's getting all the same.

"Dean," Cas says, "I would like you to consider the possibility."

Dean looks up at Sam, opening his hands in the "what the hell did you do?" gesture. Sam shrugs. "He had a convincing argument."

"Convincing?" Dean asks. "You don't go for guys, how exactly did he convince you that you do?"

Sam shrugs again. "I haven't dated a guy yet. Doesn't mean I won't."

Dean sets his jaw. "You aren't attracted to guys," he says slowly, with his teeth grinding together.

Sam raises an eyebrow at Dean. "How do you know that?"

Dean sputters. This is not supposed to be Sam's queer coming out party. "Because… you aren't! Have you ever been? Don't tell me you wouldn't have said something. Hell, if you'd thought of it while dad was alive, you'd have said so just to piss him off."

Sam smiles at that. "Yeah, I would've." The smile fades. "And I might have if I'd suspected you were bi. Easy enough to take the heat from dad on that front, along with everything else."

What? So now this is Dean's queer coming out party, and he's never even… he's not! "Sam, I'm not bi. I've never been with a guy. I'm not interested in being with a guy. And that's why this is all pointless – unless you two want to get together, then, whatever. Good for you. Go for it."

Cas shakes his head. "You are a pair, I can't date only one of you."

Dean rolls his eyes, but before he can make a comment, Sam puts a hand up and tilts his head toward Cas. "Just hear him out."

Cas turns around to smile at Sam and Sam smiles back. It's one of Sam's smiles Dean knows well – the indulgent "you're being stupid but what can I do" smile. At least he realizes Cas is being ridiculous, though he can't imagine why Sam's encouraging him.

"You are tied to each other, by blood, family, love," Cas starts and Dean rolls his eyes. What is with all the love talk lately. "But also by circumstance and by choice. You both choose each other above all else."

Dean shifts in his seat. That's true, but he doesn't really see how it means anything here.

"It only stands to reason that the way to have a relationship with either of you is to have one with both of you." He smiles then, the one that is so self-satisfied, like when he works some human thing out and wants to be patted on the head.

"So," Dean says cautiously, because it is a convincing sort of argument, "you really only want to date one of us."

Cas startles. Dean's surprised Sam hadn't caught that in the argument – he's the one that's supposed to be all logical. He glances up at Sam and sees his mouth set in an unhappy line. Shit.

Dean groans to himself. Could he have put his foot any further down his throat?

"Sam," Dean says, watching him deflate, curl into himself and shove his hands in his pockets. He shakes his head and slouches off.

"Shit." He turns his gaze on Cas. He looks miserable too, but stubbornly, he isn't leaving. Dean sits up, pulling his legs in, unhappy he's going to have to have a full-blown conversation about this. "I never took you for someone who'd use whatever means necessary to get what you want."

"I don't understand."

Dean chuckles. "Using Sam to get to me? That's pretty low."

The muscle in Cas's jaw twitches. "You are overestimating yourself, Dean Winchester. I love Sam as much as I love you. Assuming I would use his affections to get you into a sexual relationship is beneath you." He tilts his head to the side, a habit Dean would've thought he'd drop when he became human, but it's only gotten worse. "If you believed that's what I was doing, why didn't you go along with it for Sam's sake?"

Dean's guts twist. If this is what Sam wants, he should be trying to help. "Hey, I offered – you two can fuck like bunnies if you want. Why do you need me in the equation?"

Cas turns a disappointed look on Dean. "He wants a relationship, Dean. He wants someone to grow old with. He used to think he might want a house and a dog and kids, but he has resigned himself to this life because of you, and he has never once complained about those dreams he gave up."

Dean looks down at the table. Their idea of family and home has shifted over time, but the one constant is his brother, and he knows the same is true of Sam. They're the only permanence they've got, and it's not really fair to ask that Sam resort to his sexual habits, though it's not like he's been that active in recent years. He doesn't miss it, hasn't even really thought about it, though there's a dull ache where Lisa and Ben still live. He wonders if Sam has a small place for Jess and Amelia tucked away inside.

"So, what?" Dean asks, because he knows there's no chance they'd bring anyone who wasn't in the life into the bunker; and that means Sam had basically decided to be celibate for the rest of his life. Cas is his one chance. Come to think of it, the same is probably true of Dean, and suddenly he sees why Sam went along with it. Probably worked through all this in half a minute and then set Cas on Dean to get him to agree. "We all get married and live happily ever after?"

Cas shrugs. "I thought we would attempt to develop it like a normal relationship. Dating seems like the place to start."

"And what about sex?" Dean asks. "You don't really want both of us do you? Even if you do, you know you can't have us together at the same time, right? We're brothers."

"I don't see why not," Cas says, and Dean really should have been ready for Cas to play the oblivious card.

"Because I can't really get it up when my brother is in the same room," Dean says, hoping the shock value will finally put an end to the argument.

"That's a lie," Cas says.

Dean groans. This is definitely the most uncomfortable conversation of his entire life. "I mean that I don't think of Sam that way, and I don't think I'd be able to… perform… if he was involved at all."

Cas smiles sadly. "Maybe the dating won't work and we won't even get to that point."

Dean stares. Seriously? "Are you really saying that we'll cross that bridge when we come to it?"

"I have given this a fair amount of consideration," Cas says, finally getting up from the couch. "I wouldn't have suggested it unless I thought it would be manageable by everyone, no matter the outcome."

That doesn't actually make Dean feel any better, considering the million and one outcomes he can think up in half a second. He rubs a hand down his face. Sam really does want this, has always wanted a home and a wife, or husband, whatever – he always wanted that person who would be there for him. Dean had never really cared that much, not as long as he had Sammy and a string of crappy bars and greasy diners with willing waitresses. He can't even imagine how Cas could possibly be what Sam needs, but maybe Sam's just grasping at straws – and Dean owes it to him to give them a chance.

Dean sighs. "Fine. But I'm only doing it for Sam."

Cas nods, his face unreadable. "Get dressed. We have to leave in forty minutes to get there in time."

~~~

"So how does this work?" Dean asks when Sam comes back into the main area, toweling his hair.

Sam stops toweling and raises his eyebrows at Dean. "You agreed?"

Dean shrugs. "I said I'd try."

"Huh," Sam says, and then smirks. "Well, he asked us out, right? So he's paying."

Dean frowns. "So we go dutch when it's our turn?"

The shock on Sam's face is priceless. "You think we're going to ask him out?"

Oh. The man has a point. Dean sniffs. "Just thought we'd take turns. Seems fair."

Sam smirks like he knows something Dean doesn't, which is his very least favorite smirk of Sam's. He's got a lot of annoying smirks, but that one is just downright irritating. "So, if only one of us decides to keep going, this will shift into a normal sort of relationship between two non-related people?"

The smirk melts right off of Sam's face as he slides straight into over-earnest mode. "Honestly, I don't think so. Cas doesn't seem willing to date only one of us. It's kind of all or nothing," He turns away and goes back to toweling his hair. Dean can't help wondering if Sam's wanted Cas for a while, or if he just jumped on the idea when Cas offered it. He'd like to think he'd be able to tell if Sam suddenly became bi, or interested in Cas, or both.

~~~

The drive is long – and really uncomfortable. Cas holds onto his iPhone and won't show it to anyone, just letting Siri give directions to wherever it is they're going. Dean leaves the music off at first, figuring it probably won't be more than half an hour away.

Cas is smiling happily, dressed in his best outfit – a blue t-shirt that doesn't have holes and one of Dean's heavier flannels over a pair of cargo pants that he's strapped up with some rope through the belt loops. Dean's meant to take him shopping for a while, but he keeps forgetting until he sees Cas in situations like this. Well, situations kind of like this.

Sam is sitting in shotgun, looking out the window every few minutes, like he does, and then turning back because he must realize he should be paying attention to his "date." He doesn't say anything, though, and as the silence gets longer and longer, it gets heavier and more uncomfortable.

"I'm afraid I don't know what people discuss on dates," Cas says. "Charlie didn't mention that."

"Charlie?" Dean asks, craning his head back to look at Cas. "What does Charlie have to do with this?"

Cas shrugs. "She's the one who helped me plan the date."

Dean rolls his eyes. The situation was weird enough before, but as if to say, it can always get worse, the universe decides to make it even weirder.

"She assures me you will enjoy this, Dean."

"Stop," Dean says. "Please, don't mention Charlie anymore, alright? It's weird enough to have Sam involved this. I don't want Charlie having anything to do with it."

"Okay," Cas says. "If you insist."

"Help me out here," Dean says, thwapping Sam on the shoulder.

Sam shrugs. "I think it was nice of Charlie to help Cas plan something. I'm looking forward to it."

Cas grins so wide the smile looks like it might eat his face. "Thank you, Sam."

Dean rolls his eyes some more. It really is Lanie McMillan all over again. Sam's going to try and win by being the nice guy, the one that treats his date with respect and opens doors and shit. "Suck up," Dean mutters.

Now it's Sam's turn to roll his eyes, but he's grinning and suddenly things aren't weird anymore. Dean turns the radio on and they make up words to the country songs on the only station that comes in out in the wild.

~~~

It's almost two hours later when Siri finally says, "The destination is on the left," Dean has to admit he's curious. They've gone past the main entrance to Central Community College and snaked around the back, parking in a lot that has forty or fifty cars in it.

"Let's go," Cas says, hurrying away from the car and toward the building, which is a squat little cement thing, the same ugly building that's used for schools everywhere.

They travel through the hallways, ubiquitous doorways leading to boring classrooms, and Dean is starting to worry that this is going to be some horribly dull lecture on art or something he couldn’t care less about, but then the rooms shift into something else, individual work stations with marble tops and sinks. He’s curious now, wondering if they’re going to get to play with chemicals or something.

When they finally get to the right room number, Cas opens the door and walks in first, so Dean can’t see anything. It isn’t until he hears a woman’s voice say, “Welcome! You must be the Winchesters!"

Dean glances back at Sam, who grins and shrugs at him.

"Yes," Cas says, pointing at Dean. "This is Dean, that's Sam, and I'm Cas."

"Well great! We were just about to start, so if you could please go to your station… it's in the back there."

Cas moves forward and Dean finally gets a look into the room. There are eight stations – mini-kitchens with piles of food on the counter. There's a bunch of vegetables Dean recognizes, some he doesn't, and a turkey.

"Let's get started," she says. "I'm Ms. Shaw, and I'll be teaching you how to cook a classic Thanksgiving dinner."

~~~

It's actually a pretty good time. Dean has to curb his natural instincts for food fights, but they spend several hours cooking together and using knives to chop vegetables instead of kill monsters. They tell stupid jokes and laugh at Cas's need to taste everything, and Dean can't help grinning at Sam's shy brushoff of the teacher, who doesn't seem put off at all – she just turns to Cas and starts flirting with him instead.

"So, are you boys giving your mom a break this Thanksgiving?" she asks, guiding Cas's hands on the knife as he chops an onion for the stuffing.

"I don't have a mom," Cas says, and Dean clamps a hand down on his shoulder, hard.

"He means our mom died when we were young – he doesn't remember her." He glances up at Sam, giving him a quick, reassuring smile. "We've never really done Thanksgiving – thought we might give it a try."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," she says, obviously flustered. She smiles at them encouragingly and backs away, turning to the pair of women on the next station.

Dean looks over at Sam, wonders if he's figured out why Cas called himself a Winchester. It's not that he isn't, exactly, but it was bizarre, walking in and having someone mistake them all for brothers. He's used to having one; having two is strange, especially since technically this is the least brotherly thing he's done in his entire life.

~~~

Every once in a while, Dean will realize the three of them are on a date, and things will get weird for a bit. Not weird enough that Sam or Cas notices, he hopes (and Sam will suddenly get stiff in his movements like he's remembering the same thing), but weird. He's here, cooking with his brother and Cas and this is a date.

He hasn't been on a date since high school, and those were all awkward things he didn't want to do. He went to homecoming and prom a couple times each – they're a big deal for girls and he got a lot of pussy that way. He took one strange girl bowling – not his type of girl at all, but he'd been obsessed with her, and that was where she spent her free time. After that, it'd been picking up chicks in bars, no dating necessary. He wonders what other kinds of dates Cas has thought up.

And then he wonders if they're supposed to kiss goodnight at the end of it. It's not like Cas will be dropping them off at their doorstep. And how weird would that be anyway, it's not like three people can kiss at the same time, so he'll have to kiss one of them first, and then the other one will have to… oh, hell no.

"Dean?" Cas asks. "Are you okay?"

Dean shakes his head to clear it and realizes the annoying timer on Cas's phone is telling him it's time to baste the turkey again.

"Fine, I'm fine." He grabs the turkey baster and leans down to stare at the turkey through the glass and wonder what the hell he's doing here.

~~~

"Brussels sprouts are really part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner?" Dean looks at them, laughing as Cas sniffs and then licks one. "I thought everyone hated brussels sprouts."

Sam shrugs. "Never had them. They look like little cabbages, though."

"You'll like these," Ms. Shaw says, close enough that Sam jumps and shifts away from her. "They've got a delicious bacon dressing."

Bacon does make everything better in Dean's experience, but he's not sure anything can make brussels sprouts tasty. Still, they clean and chop them and put them in the pan, and a few minutes later, they're done and put in a Tupperware container that is both their serving bowl and their take-home container.

"I don't like them," Cas says with finality, after having licked one and taken a small bite.

Sam gamely takes a whole one and stuffs it in his mouth. He likes all kinds of vegetables, so Dean's a little surprised that he spits it out into the garbage can. "No, don't like them either," he says. He offers his fork to Dean, and Dean just puts his hands up and backs away. "I'll trust your judgment."

~~~

Sam has just finished mashing their potatoes when Cas's phone tells them it's time for the turkey and sweet potato casserole to come out. Sam scoops the potatoes into one of the Tupperware containers, Cas grabs the casserole dish, and Dean pulls out the golden brown bird. He's stunned that they managed to make everything well enough for it to be edible.

Cas goes to the shared refrigerator in the back of the room to get the cranberry sauce they'd set aside hours ago, and Sam moves stuff around until it looks like an honest to God Thanksgiving feast. A feast in Tupperware containers, but that's still ten times better than anything he or Sam ever had as kids.

Cas waves Ms. Shaw over and asks her to take a picture, coming to stand between him and Sam, putting his arms around their waists. Sam's arm drops naturally over Cas's shoulders, so Dean puts his arm around Cas's back, and they all grin when she says "cheese."

~~~

"I'm starving," Sam says as soon as they're settled in the car, digging into the sweet potato casserole with one of the spoons they stole from their station. "I would've eaten a bigger lunch if I knew we were going to be cooking all afternoon."

"Me too," Dean says, and accepts a turkey leg from Cas. It's about the only thing he can eat while he's driving. "This is pretty good, though."

Cas has the mashed potatoes and another spoon and they all eat in silence for a while. Sam and Cas trade after a few bites, and then Sam gets out a chunk of turkey breast and dips it in the cranberry sauce. He holds the sauce out for Dean, but there's no way to dip a turkey leg into a Tupperware that doesn't involve getting the Impala messy, so he declines. Sam offers him a spoonful instead, and he lets his baby brother spoon feed him, like he used to do for Sam before he could walk.

Dean takes the container of mashed potatoes after he finishes his turkey leg, driving with his knees while he takes a few big bites. He skips the sweet potatoes, and they threw the brussels spouts in the garbage before they left, so what he's really looking for is –

"Hey, there's a diner," Cas says. "Why don't we stop for pie?"

~~~

The diner has pumpkin and pecan pie, both of which Dean's craving, and Sam gets a slice of cherry, probably because he's never seen Dean order something other than a fruit pie in his life. Cas orders some chocolate-peanut butter monstrosity and they can't help teasing him because clearly, that's not pie at all.

They all share, Dean ending up with Sam's cherry pie because he doesn't actually like overly-sweet desserts and Sam scraping up every last bit of pecan pie goo. Cas leaves the crust of the pumpkin on his plate – he's never liked pie crust, one more thing about him that Dean finds completely unnatural – and they all take a bite of the chocolate-peanut butter abomination before pushing it to the side for the waitress to pick up.

Dean sits back, slurping his coffee loudly enough that the waitress comes over to warm it up. He and Sam are together on one side of the booth, they way they have been for years, opposite witnesses or friends or, in his case anyway, potential sex partners.

Cas sits on the other side, concentrating on his pie, and Dean thinks how strange it is that he and Sam didn't think twice, they just shoved in together. He doesn't want to admit Cas is right, oh ever, but he and Sam have a long history of working together. There are a lot of things that come naturally to them as a team.

He's pretty sure dating isn't one of those things, but when he glances at gigantor and sees him smiling fondly down at Cas meticulously moving pie crust onto another plate, he remembers why he agreed to this.

~~~

The rest of the trip back to the bunker is quiet and content. Dean hums to himself, full of good food and happy to be on the road home. Sam and Cas are chatting, Cas asking questions about Star Wars versus Star Trek, and Sam answering them like the nerd he is.

Dean pulls into the bunker garage as Sam is trying to explain tie-in novels, which, as far as Dean is concerned, is perfect timing. They get out and head to the kitchen together to put their leftovers in the fridge. It's early for them, 10pm on a weekend, and Dean grabs a couple of cold ones after he's tucked away the leftover turkey and cranberry sauce. He leans back against the counter next to Sam and they clink the necks of their bottles together.

"I hope that was an enjoyable date," Cas says, and Dean is so glad he wasn't taking a sip when Cas said that. Sam doesn't snort beer out his nose but it's a pretty close call.

Dean takes a long swig now, though, because somewhere during the drive home he'd actually forgotten they were on a date and it'd turned into a typical road trip, like they were coming home from a hunt. He's willing to bet Sam's nearly-snorted beer means he was thinking the same thing.

"Yeah, Cas," Sam says, all puppy dog eyes and earnestness, "that was a lot of fun, thanks."

Sam nudges him with his elbow and Dean rolls his eyes. "Fine. It was fun." He glares at Sam. "Happy now?"

"Yes," Cas answers. "Because I'd really like to go out again."

Dean takes another drink, determinedly not thinking about the fact that if this is the end of their date, they might have to kiss goodnight and he still hasn't managed to work out the logistics of that in his head.

"Um," Sam says. He looks at Dean and Dean knows that if Sam wants to, he's going to say yes.

"I'll give you time to talk about it," Cas says, coming in fast with his arms out. Dean's sure they're going to get double hugged, but Cas puts an arm around both their waists, kissing Dean on the cheek first and then leaning up to kiss Sam.

Dean turns to look, and when Cas releases them and moves away, he's left staring at Sam, who's turned to stare back at him. He looks as dumbfounded as Dean feels.

"Good night," Cas calls as he leaves the kitchen.

"Night," Dean and Sam say together. They're still looking at each other, and Dean is trying to figure out what Sam's thinking about all this. He's sure Sam's trying to do the same to him.

"So," Sam says, taking a long pull on his beer.

"Yeah," Dean says, following suit.

"It was fun," Sam suggests.

Dean shrugs. "Yeah."

"You want another one?"

Dean takes a deep breath and sighs it out. Sam's not giving anything away, but he knows Sam, and he's pretty sure Sam wants this chance. "Yeah, Sammy. I can do it again."

Sam nods, takes another drink of his beer. "All right, I'll tell Cas tomorrow." He brings his beer up to his lips but just smiles into it. "What do you suppose is up next? Music lessons?"

"Line dancing," Dean says, and the sound of Sam's laughter makes the whole mess worth it.

~~~

The next morning, when Dean wanders down to have his breakfast of coffee, Sam is sitting with Cas at the little table in the anteroom. "Good morning," Cas says as Dean comes in and grabs a seat next to Sam.

"Morning," he grunts, not really ready to talk yet. He takes a gulp of his coffee, hoping no one wants to have a conversation that requires more than minimal brainpower.

"Caught a case," Sam says. "Sounds like a simple poltergeist, but it's not too far, so…"

It's standard procedure, to ask before they gear up, but it's not like Dean's ever going to say no. "Yeah, fine," he says, thinking about how light he is on clothes. He'd been planning on doing laundry today. "When do we leave?"

"Half an hour?" Sam asks, tipping his cereal bowl up and drinking the milk. Dean glances at him and sees he's not showered or dressed, so at least Dean has that on him. He can have a few more cups of coffee while he waits.

Cas stays at the table after Sam leaves, and Dean takes another drink of coffee. He's annoyed at himself that things are out of whack between them now. He's like Sam with a girl he's dating, awkward, doesn't know what to do with his hands, where to look.

"Sam said you agreed to another date."

Dean closes his eyes. And that'd be why. It's bad enough they're doing this thing, do they really have to talk about it, too? He sets his mug down and sighs. "Yeah, Sam had a good time. If he wants to go on more dates, I'm not going to be the buzzkill."

Cas smiles at him like he's said something delightful. "That's good to hear," Cas says, pushing his cereal bowl away and standing up. "Maybe we can do something after the hunt is over."

Dean rolls his eyes. "Whatever."

~~~

It's kind of sad that the ten-hour drive to Sheboygan, Wisconsin leads to a four-hour hunt. Dean doesn't mind the drive – he'll happily drive anywhere for any reason, him and the road and Baby, Sam in the passenger seat and maybe Cas in the back, like he is this time. But the family's done most of the research before they get there and now all they have to do is wait until nighttime to salt and burn the bones.

"Most boring hunt ever," Dean says, and Sam shakes his head.

"No way. You remember that werewolf in Missoula, where we sat outside the apartment building for three days?"

Dean laughs. "Yeah – you were so bored we made up new games to play and then you'd get all pissy when I won all of them."

"You cheated, Dean. On every single game!"

Dean grins. He loves to rile Sammy up. "I didn't cheat – you just didn't think through all the rules before we started."

Sam rolls his eyes and looks out the window. "It's dark enough. We haven't seen a car for over an hour."

"Yeah," Dean says, getting out and popping the trunk. He hates this part.

Digging is easier with three of them. It surprises Dean, actually, because he and Sam have had a system for their entire lives, and Cas slots right in like it's no big deal.

It's kind of a big deal.

He can tell Sam's impressed by the way his mood lightens. He's always bitchy when they have to do this part, and it's not like Dean doesn't understand – it sucks – but there's nothing to do but do it. The longer it takes, the bitchier Sam is, usually, but tonight he's humming under his breath, like this is great fun.

Dean sighs. It's so obvious Cas makes Sam happy; he doesn't understand why he has to be involved in the whole thing. Why can't they go off and do their thing and leave him out of it?

"What?" Cas asks.

"Hm?" Dean answers.

"That was a heavy sigh for such an easy gig," Sam says, like he knows that's what Cas was going to say.

Dean shakes his head. "'S'nothing. This is just the boring part." And dirty part. They'll have to get a motel to shower and sleep a little before taking off tomorrow. And that makes things weird too; he and Sam have shared hotel rooms their whole lives, and Cas has gotten used to them himself, obviously, but they'll have to get two rooms to have enough beds. And they don't like to leave Cas alone, but technically, they're both dating him, so…

It all makes Dean's head hurt.

"Well, if it will cheer you up," Cas says, "we can have our second date tomorrow. I've got it all planned out."

Sam laughs and Dean can't help joining in. Sam hasn't laughed this much in years, and Dean feels incredibly old all of a sudden.

~~~

The motel thing turns out to be a non-issue. Cas follows him into the office and before he can open his mouth, Cas asks for two rooms, putting down a credit card that has the name Castiel Winchester on it.

They go through the motions and Cas hands him a key. "What time tomorrow morning?"

Dean looks down at the key, not able to get his brain wrapped around an appropriate answer. The clerk answers for him, thankfully. "Checkout's at eleven," she says.

Dean looks down at his watch. It's five am. "Sounds good enough to me," he says. "See you at eleven."

"Good night," Cas says, turning his back and heading out to his room. Dean can't figure out why, exactly, he was concerned.

~~~

He waves his key at Sam as he passes the Impala and Sam follows him to his room – four doors down from where Cas is slotting the key into the door of his own room.

"Night," Sam says, and Cas turns to them with a quick smile. "Good night."

Dean rolls his eyes and goes into the room. "Think he's always going to be that formal?"

Sam laughs. "What, like, during sex?" He bows in front of Dean. "May I have your permission to undress you?"

Dean laughs too, imagining Cas doing exactly that. He sobers almost immediately, though, because imagining something like that means he's actually thinking about having sex with Cas. Who is a guy. And he's not even going to try and wrap his head around the fact that his brother may, in fact, have to be present if anything went down between them. Sam's laughter dies in his throat and Dean knows he's thinking exactly the same thing.

"Have you –"

Sam stops him with a short, violent shake of his head. "No."

"Me neither," Dean says, pulling his last clean pair of underwear out of his bag. He wishes he could get out of the middle of this, but Sam's always the one who talks people into doing things they don't want to do. "Maybe if you –"

"Don't, Dean," Sam says, sounding pained. "It's both of us or nothing. I've already tried convincing Cas and he said no dice."

Dean nods. It's on him, then, to get Sam and Cas going and find a way to step back. He'll just have to figure something out.

~~~

If Dean had thought about it (and clearly, based on the first date, he hadn't), he would've said that he expected the next date to be a couple beers at their local bar after they got back to the bunker tonight, or, if Cas was feeling fancy again, something tomorrow, after they'd gotten a full night's sleep in their own beds.

He hadn't expected it to be a whirlwind ice cream tour of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It's on their way home and the first stop is right off the highway, easy to get to. It smells like heaven, so Dean's practically drooling as he parks his baby in front of a line of cow statues.

"Looks kind of like an alien spaceship," Sam says, and Dean doesn't disagree. The sign looks like something out of the Jetsons, and there's a strange sitting area out front made of concrete. It smells good, though, and as soon as he walks in the door, Dean knows he's ordering a burger because that has got to go in his mouth right the fuck now.

"Don't fill up," Cas says, when Dean debates ordering onion rings versus fries. "We have three more to try after this."

Dean sighs and just gets the cheeseburger with the works and a dish of key lime pie custard. Cas has assured them custard is like ice cream, not the gross stuff that comes inside cream puffs. Sam orders a burger too, proving his tastebuds aren't completely fried from all the rabbit food, and Cas orders onion rings, which Dean guesses is mostly so he can steal them.

They get their custard before they leave the cash register, in dishes with little triangular wafer cookies. Dean's now starving, so there is no way he's going to wait until after his burger to eat his custard. He'll have three more dessert courses anyway.

His key lime is smooth and creamy, pieces of graham cracker crust giving a nice crunch here and there. It's rich, too – somehow richer than plain ice cream. Sam's nearly finished his weird orange-colored stuff, so Dean dips his spoon in before it's all gone.

"Hey!" Sam protests, but Dean just holds his dish out for Sam to take a spoonful of, and he does.

Sam's tastes just like a dreamsicle, which is something Dean doesn't remember tasting since he was about eight and Mrs. Jacobs carried them in the corner mart down from the motel they were staying at, somewhere in Indiana. She liked Sam and would give them both dreamsicles if they wandered down together.

"Mmm," Sam says, smacking his lips. "I like that. Can I taste yours, Cas?"

Cas holds out his dish of plain chocolate – missing only a few modest bites – and both Dean and Sam stick their spoons in for a taste. It's better than any plain chocolate ice cream Dean's ever had, so he goes back in for a second scoop.

"Dean!" Sam admonishes, frowning. "Get your own if you like it that much."

"It's okay," Dean says, sticking the spoonful in his mouth. He smiles around the spoon at Cas. "Isn't it?"

"Yes, Dean," Cas says, rolling his eyes at him. "It's fine."

Their order is called before Dean can make the most of that one, and Sam goes up to grab the white paper bags of food. He hands Dean his burger, wrapped in white paper with the ends twisted together. When he untwists them, there's a pickle on top of his bun. "Huh," he says, picking it off and handing it to Sam. Sam eats it and then goes to find his own, grinning like he's won something really awesome instead of a pickle.

Dean's burger smells like fried onions and tastes like heaven in his mouth. There's no ketchup, weirdly, but the sweetness of the onions with tang of the brown mustard is amazing. It's huge, too, flat and easy to hold but nearly as big as his face.

Cas is sniffing at the onion rings, licking the breading, then breaking one open and sticking his tongue on the onion part. He pulls his head back, clearly unhappy with the taste. "Here," Dean says, pushing his half-eaten burger across the table. "Try this." He pulls Cas's onion rings toward him and hands one to Sam, who shoves it in his mouth between bites of his own burger – with ketchup and lettuce and a bunch of other vegetables on it.

Cas sniffs the burger, sticking his tongue out to test the various parts of it – bun, burger, mustard. He likes burgers, they know that isn't an issue, but apparently he's not big on condiments other than ketchup. He gamely takes a bite anyway, and then makes a face as he stops chewing.

"It's okay, Cas," Sam says, taking one of the napkins and unfolding it. Cas grabs it and holds it close to his face as he spits into it. Dean can't help chuckling. Cas's experiments with food are always hilarious.

Sam kicks him under the table and Dean leans down to rub his shin. "Here, Cas, you can have mine."

Sam's nearly done with his burger, but there are a few bites left. He pulls off his salad toppings and slaps the ketchup-y bun back on top before handing it to Cas. Cas takes it and devours it in three bites, making happy noises the whole time.

Dean rolls his eyes and eats a couple more onion rings, thinking about whether or not he's willing to finish the rest of his burger now that Cas has put his tongue all over it. Sam beats him to the punch, grabbing Dean's burger and taking a huge bite.

"Wow," Sam says, popping an onion ring into his mouth. "That's pretty good."

"Yeah, and it's mine," Dean gripes, trying to grab it out of Sam's hands. Sam takes another huge bite before Dean can wrestle it away, but Dean gets it back and finishes it in two and a half bites.

By the time there's nothing left on the table but wrappers and used napkins, their custard has melted into puddles. Sam is the only one that got the chance to eat more than half. "Maybe we should get some more," Dean suggests. If they're going to compare it to the next three places, that seems only fair.

"How about vanilla?" Sam asks. "It's the only flavor we haven't tried."

Dean's not a big fan of vanilla, it being the most boring of the flavors, but he agrees and they get a dish for the road.

~~~

It's only a ten minute drive across a few city streets to the next place, a frozen yogurt shop that has twelve different flavors they can sample and everything Dean's ever wanted on a sundae, along with a number of things he's never really considered ice cream toppings before.

Dean tastes every single flavor methodically, deciding to go with coconut as a blank canvas for all the fudge and marshmallow sauce he can get in his bowl. He adds brownies, Oreos, Reese's pieces, and every variety of M&M they have (six). He's not usually a chocolate type of guy, but something about this place brings out his gotta-catch-em-all reflex.

Cas gets a small bowl of pink lemonade and Sam convinces him to put plain tapioca balls in one corner of it – there are days Dean swears Sam is adopted – and then chooses a simple bowl of chocolate with fresh raspberries for himself.

They sit down at one of the high tables with stools and Dean only gets through five or six bites of his chocolate concoction before he's had enough sweets for the rest of the year. He pushes it to the center of the table and Sam picks out a brownie, holding his bowl out for Dean. "Try a couple raspberries," he says. "It'll cut the sweetness."

They do, but it's the pink lemonade that really works, so he ends up finishing Cas's bowl, tapioca and all, while Cas scoops the fudge and marshmallow toppings up from his bowl, maneuvering around as much of the candy as he can.

~~~

The third place sells actual ice cream, and, true to its name, it has a purple door. It looks more like a barn than an ice cream shop, but Dean's learned the hard way not to judge books by their covers.

The flavors are a little more out there, and Sam ends up with a double scoop of pink grapefruit (ew) and chai with red peppercorns (which Dean might actually try). Cas doesn't know what to make of most of the flavors, so he settles on mint chip, a flavor they always have at the bunker because they'll all eat it. Dean goes with banana chocolate walnut, but after one bite, hands it to Sam and goes back to get some espresso, which is way better.

They try each other's ice cream and the only one that gets traded is the pink grapefruit. Sam probably would've eaten it, but Cas's eyes light up when he tastes it, so Sam scoops the chai stuff onto Dean's banana chocolate and pushes the grapefruit stuff over to Cas. The mint chip melts in the center of their table, forgotten.

~~~

The last place is a gelato shop, out of the way enough that Dean re-routes the trip home to skirt Illinois altogether. Dean's never had this much ice cream in his life. Thank god they had forty-five minutes between stops two and three to let their stomachs settle.

Here they learn that Sam unexpectedly knows something about gelato; that fruit flavors are better than chocolate; and that Cas has the mothering instinct to wipe off someone's face when it's dirty. Dean learns that he has used the "let me get that for you" move enough that when Cas leans in to wipe a smear of amaretto cherry off his lips, his heart speeds up and he doesn't have a joke to smooth away the awkward response of his body.

He sees Sam smirking at him like he knows something, but then Cas attacks him too, wiping off a streak of mixed berry staining the corner of his mouth purply-red. Sam uncomfortably coughs out his thanks and it's Dean's turn to smirk.

~~~

Dean's full enough that he doesn't feel like doing much for the first few hours of the trip home. He turns the music on at a background level in case Sam and Cas feel like talking, but he just drives, stomach full and mind blissfully empty.

Apparently neither Sam nor Cas is feeling chatty so they sit in amiable silence for a while, until Sam reaches over for the volume and turns up the music, loud enough to cover Dean signing under his breath. He hums along, tapping the steering wheel and eventually singing out loud, unable to help himself. He knows every song on every tape, memorized before he was a teenager, and the words tumble out of him without him noticing most of the time.

Cas curls up on the back seat and naps for a few hours late in the evening. Dean snaps his fingers to gain Sam's attention and silently tries to get him to check on Cas. Score one for mind-reading and knowing your brother better than you know yourself, because Sam understands and twists around in his seat to observe Cas for a while.

"Just seems sleepy," Sam says, turning around in his seat and yawning. "Driving can get boring sometimes."

That is patently untrue, but Sam's never been one to appreciate the open road, the miles of sheer possibility in front of them, so Dean lets it go. Maybe it's the difference between spending your life in the driver's seat and spending your life in the passenger's seat. Maybe he should let Sam drive more often.

Sam settles in, staring out the window in the way Dean knows is his preferred thinking mode, and Dean slips into a little road hypnosis himself, letting the miles pass by unnoticed and unremarked.

~~~

Cas is dozing again when they finally get back in, just before midnight. Sam gently shakes him and his confused scowl is stupidly adorable. Dean hates himself for thinking of Cas like that, because he remembers when Cas was fierce and scary, and he doesn't think Cas would appreciate the sentiment.

They grab their duffels and round the corner to the labs, heading straight for the common room to do a rudimentary room check. Sam paces him the whole way, his duffel over one shoulder, and Cas dumps his on the floor at the end of the hall of the sleeping rooms.

The study and library are empty. He and Sam turn nearly in unison; there are times their training kicks in and they simply act together, no speech or even thought necessary. They stop when they realize they're facing Cas and he's just a little too close for comfort.

Dean's not going to be surprised by Cas's approach this time; he knows he's going to be kissed, and braces himself for it.

Cas manages to surprise him anyway. He grips Dean's bicep firmly as he tilts his head up to kiss Sam on the mouth. Dean feels the muscle in his arm jump, constricted by Cas's hand. Cas shuffles a step and a half sideways, the hand that was on Sam's neck a moment ago tracing down his chest and coming to rest across his waist. Dean can't stop himself from staring at it.

Cas's hand on him has shifted too, sliding off Dean's arm and across his chest, up his neck until Cas takes Dean's chin in hand to get his attention.

As soon as he has Dean's eyes, Cas leans in and presses his lips to Dean's, a short and utterly unremarkable kiss except that it's Dean's first ever with another man. It's almost sweet, actually, over before Dean can have any strong feelings about it, and then Cas's hands retreat from him and Sam and he takes a step back, smiling at them both. "Good night," he says, leaving them standing like statues in the main hall.

Sam moves first, walking over to the tables and setting his duffel down on a chair. Dean follows suit because he knows Sammy wants to talk.

"That was nice, right?" Sam asks. "Weird, but nice?"

Dean doesn't know what, exactly, Sam is talking about, and there are several possible answers to that question that make Dean squirm inside, so he chooses the safest one and answers. "More ice cream than I've eaten in my life," he says, not quite getting to the hearty chuckle he means to use to make things less awkward. "So yeah, all in all, nice. Weird, but nice."

Sam rolls his eyes and smiles, but turns serious again before the smile even leaves his face completely. "Should we ask him out? It's our turn, isn't it?"

Dean rubs at his forehead. This is all so messed up. "I don't know, Sammy, do you want to?"

"Yeah," Sam says, laying a hand heavily on Dean's shoulder. "I think I do."

"Fine," Dean whines, because he can't deny Sam anything, "but you have to plan it."

"Okay," Sam agrees, too quickly. Then he smirks at Dean and adds, "But you have to ask him."

~~~

"Hey, Dean," Sam calls from where he's hiding behind his laptop, "how do you feel about making burgers for our date?"

Dean thinks it's a little early to be staying in for a date, but then he wonders where the fuck he picked up that idea – and if it's from Cas's romantic comedies, he's going to find some way to put Cas off them. Then he decides, what the hell. His burgers are awesome. "Yeah, no problem."

Sam doesn't tell him what else he's planning, so when he goes to ask Cas if he wants to go out, he's hoping there won't be an interrogation about their plans. They haven't asked Cas about his dates beforehand, but thinking back on them, maybe they should have.

He finds Cas in the storeroom that's attached to the dungeon, going through several boxes of old folders. "Hey, Cas," Dean says, and Cas looks up at him, curious. It's annoying, how easy it is to read Cas's basic emotions and how impossible to tell what he's thinking behind that.

"Want to go on a date?"

Cas's eyebrows go up, and he files the folder he's looking at back in its box and stands up. "Who is asking?"

Dean looks over his shoulder. He's pretty sure there's no one else here. "Uh, me. Think you need to clean your ears out."

The exasperation on Cas's face is priceless, and it hits Dean like a brick to the head that he wants to know if Sam is included in this date. Like Dean would ask Cas out without him. "Dude, really? You think I'd ask you out on a solo date, when I know my brother wants to get in your pants? What kind of asshole do you think I am?"

Cas frowns, an annoyed little frown that Dean has seen Sam sport more than once. It's interesting to see it on Cas's face, and over something so very human. Angelic Cas wouldn't have blinked at the question. Angelic Cas wouldn't have asked to date him and Sam, either, so it's probably a moot point.

"Of course it's me and Sam," Dean says when it becomes clear that Cas isn't able or willing to address the question of Dean's particular brand of assholishness. "Do you want to go on a date or not?"

Cas seems to consider it, taking his time mulling it over. Dean is about to leave and let him think about it when he says, "Yes, Dean, I would like that very much. Please convey my anticipation to Sam as well."

Dean blinks. Okay then. He wonders what the hell kind of conversation Sam had with Cas when he accepted Cas's second date. If it was anything like this, he knows why Sam put it on him this time. They're definitely going to have to flip for it next time, and Dean's bringing his double-headed coin.

~~~

It's a slow week for hunting, so they end up spending time trawling the bunker most days. Dean finds a room full of artifacts and he and Cas spend a couple of amusing hours LARPing with potentially dangerous objects while Sam puts everything into a spreadsheet. Boy needs to get out more.

Sam hasn't said anything more about their upcoming date with Cas and Dean is starting to get antsy. He doesn't want to have to deal with Cas on logistics, which is about the only thing that could be more awkward than the dates themselves.

"So," Dean says, drawing it out to get Sam's attention. "Think I might head out to get some supplies. Need anything?"

Sam looks up from his computer, squinting owlishly. "What?"

"I'm going to get groceries, do you need anything?" Sam blinks at him uncomprehendingly and Dean adds, "Or do I need to get anything special? Stuff to make burgers?"

"Oh," Sam says, eyes widening as he picks up what Dean's putting down. "Oh, I forgot."

He forgot? He's the one that's all hot and bothered by Cas, what the hell, he forgot? Dean can't do anything but stare and Sam avoids his eyes, looking down at his computer and clicking things in rapid succession.

"Yeah, okay, um. I can get the rest of the stuff ready. "

"So tonight, then?" Dean asks, because you can never be too careful when Sam is distracted.

"Yeah, tonight. I'll tell Cas."

Dean's not about to argue with that. He makes himself scarce.

~~~

It's just after five when Dean gets back from the store. He drops off the groceries in the kitchen, stuffing the bags wholesale into their giant fridge, and goes to shower and dress for his date.

He has no idea when he started dressing for dates, but he chooses a soft, deep green henley to wear under the grey flannel he always wears as an overshirt and jeans with no holes in them, clothes he keeps for those rare occasions he isn't likely to run into something he needs to kill. He runs his fingers through his hair, pleased with the way it shapes itself, though it's less than a week away from needing a trim.

When he makes his way back to the kitchen, he sees Sam dusting off a polished wooden briefcase, an inlaid diamond of light wood surrounded by beautifully finished darker wood. "Whatcha got there, Sammy?"

Sam looks up and grins, opening the case that's so polished it gleams. Inside is a set of poker chips, red, green, blue, and black, a couple of decks of cards, and some red dice. Dean can't help the smirk that comes over his face – he's the poker player in the family and they both know it. "What're we playing for?"

Sam smirks right back at him, and Dean loses some of the cockiness; Sam smirking is almost always a bad thing. "Information."

Dean waits for more, but apparently Sam isn't feeling cooperative today. He just shuts the case and sets it aside on one of the tables.

"How long do you need to cook?" Sam asks. "I told Cas I'd let him know what time dinner was when you got back."

Dean shrugs. Besides burgers, he got potatoes for french fries and a brownie mix. He would've tried pie, but this is all a bit last minute, really. "'bout an hour, I guess?" His french fry recipe is off the internet and says half an hour. He wants to give himself two tries just in case.

"Okay," Sam says. "Need any help?"

"Nah," Dean says, "go make yourself pretty, Samantha."

~~~

The fries turn out perfect, though the timing is a bit off. By the time the burgers are done, the fries have lost a bit of their crispiness and droop more than they stand up. Still, they're perfectly greasy and salty and the burgers are perfection – even though it's a shame that Cas's only has ketchup – so he's feeling pretty good as he brings the food out to the table.

The brownies are in the oven and he's got the timer set so he doesn't forget and burn them like the last time. Getting the smoke smell out of the kitchen was a bitch.

Sam's smile goes from happy to ecstatic when his plate is set down in front of him, and he looks impatient while he waits for Dean to sit, trying to be polite for the sake of their date.

"Toast?" Dean says, raising his beer, because he can see how hungry Sam is just by the longing look in his eyes, and making him wait a little longer is a beautiful thing.

Cas raises his beer cheerfully and Sam grudgingly raises his as well, and Dean says, "To family." Sam's face shifts, just like that, from excited to haunted in a split second. Cas doesn't seem fazed and repeats the toast, clinking the neck of his beer against Dean's and reaching across the table to clink with Sam's unmoving beer.

Sam swallows and says, "Yeah, family," and takes a drink. Dean nods, raising his beer in salute and takes a drink himself.

"Hope you like it, Cas," Dean says. "Most boring burger ever."

"Thank you for preparing it to my liking," Cas says, and that's when Sam snaps out of it, eyeing all of their burgers. Dean'd made them with their preferred toppings – not like it was a big deal or anything. Sam likes a ton of rabbit food on his (and Dean added fire-roasted peppers just to surprise the brat), Cas, only ketchup, and his own with three kinds of cheese, brown mustard, and fried onions – an idea he stole from that custard place.

"Can I try a bite of yours?" Sam asks, his puppy dog eyes out in full force. Dean swallows hard. It's been a long time since Sam pulled that trick, and he hadn't realized how badly he missed it, or how fucked up their lives have gotten that Sam wouldn't use it. It has always gotten him whatever he wants with just about everyone, but it's always worked especially well with Dean. The idea that he hasn't wanted anything from Dean in such a long time makes Dean's chest ache a little.

"Sure," he grunts, pushing his plate over to Sam, snagging two fries off it to eat while he waits. He prefers them with ketchup, even as good as they are plain, but the ketchup's on his plate, out of reach. He brought out the malt vinegar for Sam, who insists they're better that way. Sometimes he wonders if they're really related at all.

"Mmm," Sam says, mouth full of his burger. He sets the burger down reverently and pushes the plate back. "The fried onions really make it."

Cas looks up from his own burger, deliberately chewing and swallowing before saying, "Thank you for cooking, Dean."

Sam grins, like he was the one slaving over a hot stove, and Dean tilts his head, side-eyeing Sam while addressing Cas. "You're welcome."

~~~

They chat through the rest of dinner easy, like any other night in the bunker. Sam talks about how quiet things have been, the quietest in recent memory. "Feels like summer of '92," Sam says, giving him a warm smile.

It'd been a great summer – so slow on the supernatural front that dad had gotten a job at a local auto repair shop and they'd rented a rundown house for the summer. It hadn't been much, but they each had their own beds and it backed up right onto a lake. They spent all summer running around with the local kids, playing kickball, eating ice cream, and swimming; being normal. It was Dean's last summer as a kid, maybe his only real one, because after that dad made him responsible for Sam's schooling. He'd figured out how to fill out transfer paperwork and kept Sammy's report cards, perfecting dad's signature. He was pretty good at it before – he had to sign all his own detention slips, after all – but after that summer, dad didn't sign another thing. Dean did it all.

"Dean? Is that true?" Cas asks, and Dean snaps back to the present and glances across the table at Sam.

"Is what true?" Dean's not sure what Sam was talking about while he zoned out, but he's got a happy grin on his face – full on dimples that Dean hasn't seen in forever. He smiles back despite himself.

"That Sam had to teach you how to swim?"

"Oh," Dean says, taking a bite of his burger before answering. "Yeah. Dad couldn't afford to pay for both of us so Sammy went to classes and taught me in the lake after."

The happy grin falls off Sam's face. "You told me you were too cool to take swimming lessons. That you didn't want to hang around all those dorks at the community center."

Dean shrugs. "Well, that was true too."

"Dean, just how much did you give up for me?"

Dean shakes his head and takes another bite. "Nothing I really wanted." It's not exactly true, but close enough for government work. When Sam looks like he's going to get up and leave the table, Dean talks just to stop him. "Who practiced soccer with you? Who helped you with your homework, huh? So what if I learned stuff second-hand?" As long as Sam leaves it here, doesn't ask about things like where the money came from when dad wasn't around, Dean can manage the situation. He's never regretted anything he did to take care of Sam, but there's a lot of it he doesn't want Sam to know about.

Cas is staring at Dean, a thoughtful look on his face. "What, Cas?" Dean snaps, because this is not something he wants to get into and Cas has the tendency to miss the subtle "shut up" glares Dean sends his way.

"You're a good brother," Cas says. Sam looks pained but goes back to picking at his vinegar-y fries, nodding his head.

The buzzer for the brownies goes off, saving Dean from answering.

He takes his time in the kitchen, letting things cool off in the other room. He's never sure what to do with Sam's guilt and he's forgotten how to lie about that stuff – it doesn't seem that important anymore. He hasn't bothered since Sam left for Stanford, and mostly the subject doesn't come up. Every once in a while, though, it comes from the depths like Jaws and takes a chunk out of Dean's ass.

He's waving a potholder over the brownies, trying to get them to cool down enough to cut when Sam and Cas bring the plates in and dump them all in the sink. It's a nice gesture. "Wasn't sure if you wanted the rest," Sam says, lifting Dean's plate in question. There's a couple of bites of burger and a handful of fries left.

"Nah," Dean answers. His appetite has been for shit since they started dating Cas, probably because it's fucked up enough to make Dean low-level scared all the time. He doesn't even really know what he's scared of, but he knows that feeling deep in his gut, and he trusts it. This is something he has to keep his eye on or it might hurt them, and bad.

"Bring those out, they can cool on the table," Sam says. "I've got the poker all set up."

Dean's not really sure what the poker is all about, but the set of chips and cards Sam found are beautiful. They've each got a stack (or in Sam's case, a pile) of chips in front of their place at the table. Dean picks up a chip and looks at it closely. The craftsmanship is exceptional.

"What's the deal?" Dean asks, because the chips aren't evenly divided – all of Dean's are green, Cas's blue, and Sam's red.

"We each have our own color of chips," Sam says, which doesn't explain anything, but Dean waits. Sam likes to take his time explaining. "We're going to play ten hands, and when we're done, we're going to use the chips to settle up with information."

Cas raises an eyebrow at this. It's good to know he's not feeling comfortable either.

"What kind of information?" Dean asks, and Sam pulls out a couple of sheets of paper and hands one to Dean and another to Cas. It's labeled a "Closeness Generating Procedure" and there are a bunch of questions on it, at first glance just stupid stuff, like "Would you like to be famous?" but as Dean skims it, there are some disturbing ones too, like "If you could change one way about the way you were raised, what would it be?" and "What is your most terrible memory?"

Cas's face smooths out as he reads it. Apparently whatever information he has isn't going to be revealed in the questions on the page. Dean will have to figure that out later. "It's like truth or dare," Sam says, "but with guided questions. It's from a psych experiment I participated in back at Stanford."

This is what Sam considers a good date? Making them talk? Dean groans, but he told Sam to plan it, so this is his fault. He's planning the next one and it's damn well going to be somewhere he can get a bucket of popcorn and sit on his ass in a dark theater for two hours.

"Fine," Dean says, just all the more determined to win every hand. He pulls the chair out and sits down heavily, grabbing for the deck of cards in the middle of the table and shuffling. "What's the game?"

"Five card draw, of course," Sam says. Dean rolls his eyes. It's such a beginner's game. Sam nods his head toward Cas and Dean concedes. He can still win every hand, and he'll feel less guilty if Cas at least knows the rules of the game.

Dean sets the deck in the middle of the table and Sam cuts them, twice in case Dean'd stacked the deck. Dean hadn't – he doesn't need that to win against these two – but he can't be too offended. This is his bread and butter. He should probably be grateful that Sam didn't want to play pool instead.

He wins the first hand easily, without even trying. He has a pair of aces and picks up a third when he chucks the rest of the cards. Sam frowns at him like he thinks maybe Dean cheated, but Dean just smiles and passes the cards to Cas.

Cas surprises the crap out of both of them when he shuffles the cards decently enough, clearly comfortable with them. He shrugs one shoulder up and says, "Daphne used to enjoy pinochle."

Dean blinks. He'd forgotten about Daphne. Suddenly he wonders if she ever found out what happened to Emanuel, if Cas ever went back to her and explained things. It seems like something that would be forgotten in the rush of their lives, and after Purgatory, it wasn't like Cas was running the show.

"Did you ever get back in touch with her?" Dean asks. He can't help himself.

Cas shakes his head, taking the cut cards back and dealing them. "I forgot about her until recently. I didn't think she'd want to hear from me two years after I left without a trace."

The idea makes Dean's stomach drop. If Cas had left and never contacted them again, Dean would be pissed. He'd be searching for Cas, scouring Heaven and Hell and everything in between. "You should see her," Sam says. "She deserves to know why you left, and that you're okay."

Cas lowers his head, peering at his cards like they actually mean something. "Perhaps I will write her. I don't think she'd like to see me." He looks at Sam's chip pile. "Are you going to bet?"

Sam grins and throws two chips in. "Nice distraction, Cas."

Sam wins the hand with a pair of jacks and Dean folds after it's obvious he's got nothing to go on. He's hoarding his chips, not going to waste them on hands he can't win.

The table gets quieter after that. Sam doesn't stack the deck, at least that Dean can see, and he can always see Sam's stacking because he's bad at it. Never did have the dexterity to pull it off.

They trade chips for a few hands, nothing too big, and it's interesting to see that both Sam and Cas are throwing in their own chips first, keeping their chips for each other and Dean. Dean's strategy is the opposite – he wants to protect his information, not get more out of them. He's only put three of his own chips out on the table and Cas has them all.

The sixth hand is where things get interesting. Cas doesn't have any tells. Dean's pretty sure it's because he doesn't actually understand the subtleties of the game. Or even the big picture, or how to win. He plays every hand to the end, and whether he has a full house or a pair of deuces, his expression and mannerisms are exactly the same.

Sam's always had nervous eyes. If he's bluffing, he's glancing around the table, trying to see if people have figured him out yet. If he's not bluffing, he's staring down at his good cards, trying to keep himself from smiling. It doesn't normally work. He's terrible at poker – Dean's really going to have to give the kid some pointers.

Not this hand, though, because Cas wins with a high straight – and there's a lot more of Dean's chips in the kitty than Dean likes. Cas is starting to piss him off. It doesn't help to be able to play Sam if Cas has barn-burners whenever Sam is bluffing.

Sam wins the next one, including a fair number of Dean's chips because he used up all his Cas and Sam chips on the hand before. Cas wins the one after that, another hand where Dean folds after the draw, so at least he only lost one of his chips.

He's looking at his distinctly smallish pile and decides this hand is his – he's going to have to hope Cas doesn't get lucky, and bluff the hell out of Sam.

Unfortunately, while Cas doesn't have a barn-burner, Sam, who's glancing around the table like he's trying to figure out where's safe to look, does. He plays Dean like a fiddle, and Dean's both proud of the brat and pissed that he's never figured out Sam's game. Now Sam's pile of chips is only slightly smaller than Cas's. Dean has six chips in front of him – three of his and three of Cas's. He shouldn't have any chips but his own, and when he glances at Cas, Cas won't meet his eyes.

Dean doesn't look a gift horse in the mouth. He deals the last hand and hopes for the best. He doesn't go all-in – it's not a game for that, and his one, lone green chip is the only thing he has left – but he wins, so he ends up with sixteen chips, three of his own, five of Sam's, and eight of Cas's. It's going to be a long night.

~~~

The brownies are cool enough to eat by the time the poker's over so Dean cuts them up while Sam explains the rules of the terrifying part of the date.

"There are three sets of questions," Sam says, "so that's how many chips it takes to make someone else answer. If I want Cas to answer a question in set three, I have to pay with three of Cas's chips."

Easy enough. Dean passes a huge chunk of brownie on a paper towel over to Sam.

"Thanks," Sam says, picking a corner off before he continues. "And if I want you both to answer, I can put in three of each of your chips. And, there's an out – if there's a question you really don't want to answer, you can buy your way out of it with your own chips."

A ha! Dean's strategy had been right. If only Cas hadn't been such a terrible poker player, Dean would still have all his chips now and wouldn't be stuck answering Psych 101 bullshit. "Here, Cas," he says, pushing his brownie across the table.

"Thank you, Dean," Cas says, in his stiffly polite way. He takes a bite and his eyes go big and round.

"What?" Dean asks, ready to go over and pound Cas on the back if necessary.

"This is wonderful," Cas says. "So rich, and warm, and… I think I need something to drink."

"Coffee would be good," Sam says, throwing back his chair. Cas drinks coffee now, but he doesn't like it, and not late at night – he has a sensitivity to caffeine that neither Sam nor Dean ever developed.

"Milk for Cas," Dean says. "But I'll take a cup."

Sam rolls his eyes but heads off to the kitchen to get their drinks. Dean takes the opportunity to look at the list of questions, trying to decide if there's anything he doesn't already know about Sam. There are a few things, stupid "if you could see the future" sort of stuff, but he wonders, sometimes, what Sam thinks of when he thinks of the future. If he ever does.

He settles on a funny one for Cas – "tell your life story in four minutes" – and leans back in his seat, studying Cas as he reads the sheet, making tick-marks with a pen he pulled out of somewhere. Nearly every question has a tick mark next to it.

"You don't know this stuff about us?" Dean asks. "Really? We're open books."

Cas looks up at him. "I observed you and your brother quite often without your knowledge," Cas says. Sam's just stepped into the main room, two mugs of coffee in one hand and a glass of milk in the other, and he freezes. "I could not understand most of what you said to each other. The only communication that made any sense to me was action."

Dean half-shrugs. Makes sense, that's the way they were raised, after all.

"I would simply like to hear your straightforward answers to some of these questions, without bravado or outright lies."

Dean flicks a glance to Sam, who looks nervous, ashamed, and determined, all at the same time, and it becomes crystal clear this is going to be the most painful couple hours of his life. Sam starts moving again, coming in with a fake smile plastered on his face and handing off Cas's milk and Dean's coffee.

The coffee has milk in it, just a splash, which is how Dean takes it these days if he can. He's gotten soft in the bunker, buying them decent coffee and having milk nearby all the time. He takes a bite of his brownie and follows it with a sip of coffee, pleased with how soft and sweet they are. Not as good as pie, but a decent substitute in a pinch.

"All right, I'll start." Sam glances down the list of questions and grins. "I'll go easy on you. How about What constitutes a perfect day for you?" He throws a green and a blue chip on the pile. "Both of you."

Cas looks confused, but answers, "Every day is perfect."

Dean laughs. This might be fun after all. "No, Cas, the question means, if you could choose to do whatever you wanted – anything at all – what would you do?"

"I would do whatever needed doing," Cas answers.

"No," Sam interrupts. "It's like… if you had no responsibilities, if you could just do anything without consequences or guilt or…"

Cas just stares at him. Dean can't help the grin that takes over his face. Sam turns to him, pleadingly, and says, "You go first Dean, so he gets the idea."

Dean grins even bigger and throws one of his green chips in the pile. "Nah, this is way more fun."

Sam gives one brief look of annoyance, but his eyes flick down to Dean's meager stack of chips and he smiles meanly. "Fine. Cas, isn't there something you enjoy? That you'd like to do, if you could, for a day? Swim in the ocean, have a picnic under the stars, have a movie marathon?"

Three of the most boring suggestions ever. Dean would offer some, but that'd be like answering Sam's question and he already sacrificed one of his precious chips over it, so he stays quiet.

"I enjoy every day," Cas says.

Sam rolls his eyes. "But some things are better than others, right? You like eating Dean's burgers better than eating ramen noodles, right?"

Cas considers this, briefly. "Ramen noodles have their charms."

Sam sighs loudly. "Well, you like hanging out in the bunker better than living like a homeless person, don't you?"

Cas tilts his head. "It's a different experience," he says, and it sounds like there is going to be more, but he hesitates. Dean looks over at him and can practically see the gears turning in his head.

"I enjoy the showers here," Cas says.

Sam lets out a sigh of relief. "Exactly. What else do you enjoy?"

"Eating. Especially fruit." Cas smiles. "Reading for pleasure. Naps."

Dean smiles fondly. He can't believe it's taken Cas this long to figure out things he enjoys.

"There you go," Sam says. "What else?"

"Sex is pleasant," Cas says, and Dean nearly chokes on a sip of his coffee. He hadn't even realized Cas had had sex. And apparently enough to get over the awkward inexperience jitters, if he ever had them.

"Okay," Sam says, clearly as uncomfortable as Dean feels, "great. Why don't you go next?"

Cas looks through the list, picks through his chips and throws a whole pile of them in the middle. It's a little annoying how many more he had than Dean. "I would like you both to answer Tell your partner something you like about them already. Six chips means you have to answer about each other and me."

Dean rolls his eyes. This sort of thing is just inviting trouble. He stopped complimenting Sam in grade school because he'd get so smug about it.

Sam throws three blue chips on the pile. "I want to hear what you like about Dean," he says.

Dean looks down at his meager chip pile and curses Sammy for knowing about his intractable sense of fairness. He throws three of Cas's chips in and says, "And Sam." Sam grins.

Cas nods solemnly. "Dean, you first. What do you like about Sam?"

Dean shakes his head in disbelief, not quite sure how this became his life. "His soft, flowing locks."

Sam snorts. "Best thing about you is your car."

Cas looks pained, but Dean's answered and is sticking to it. Sam might cave, but Dean won't. Cas sighs. "Fine. What do you like about me?"

Dean shifts in his chair. He just likes Cas, always has, but everything he thinks of saying seems like it isn't a good thing to say. A lot of the stuff that endeared Cas to them back in the day was angel stuff, and they don't like to remind him of that if they can help it. As a human, he's the same but different. He's learning – becoming less awkward with every experience, unlike when he was an angel – but there's still a lot he doesn't understand, and it takes all of their energy just dealing with basic needs like figuring out how to get him to eat and sleep.

"It's that difficult?" Cas asks, and Dean shoots a glance at him, an apology already in his mouth before he realizes Cas's eyes are clear and he's smiling mischievously.

Dean rolls his eyes. "Fine. You make me laugh." Cas has always made him laugh for all kinds of reasons, and there hasn't been a lot of laughter in his life the last few years, so he appreciates that.

Cas nods solemnly, which makes Dean want to laugh out loud right then, but it's really not the time. Cas turns to Sam.

Clearly Sam was struggling with the question too, because he's picking at his brownie, fidgeting in a way that means he doesn't like the answers that have automatically popped into his head and no sufficient lie is coming to him, either. He takes a bite of the brownie, a sip of his coffee, and after he sets the mug down, he sighs.

"Well, Cas… there aren't any easy answers to that question. Everything about you that made you part of the family in the first place is related to your angelic self, and while you're still you, that part of you isn't really… here… anymore. Any physical traits I find attractive are really Jimmy Novak."

Dean blinks. He'd never thought about Cas being physically attractive. Sam has? He shifts in his chair again.

"Even though that body's yours now, it's still… a second form to you, not what you think of as your true self," Sam continues. "And I'm glad you're here and all, but since you're really just figuring out your way around being human, I guess the thing I like best about you is how you let us hang around for part of that journey."

Cas tilts his head at Sam. "I consider this my body now," Cas says. "Even when Jimmy's body was simply my vessel, a certain part of it belonged to me. It's a visage I think of as me."

Dean's not sure what that's supposed to mean, but Sam seems to get it. "You're fishing for compliments, huh, Cas?" Sam takes another sip of coffee, probably to give himself time to think about how much to admit. It gives Dean enough time to wonder how long Sam's been looking at guys that way, or if it's only Cas he's looked at. "Well, in that case… I like your hair when it sticks up all over the place and you have beautiful blue eyes."

Cas smiles, softly. "Thank you."

"Your turn," Sam says quickly, obviously trying to cover his embarrassment. "What do you like about us?"

Dean's never really thought about it before; people like him or don't and who knows or cares why? But he's had chicks compliment just about every part of his body at some point or another; the idea that Cas might say something like that makes him unaccountably nervous. It makes him even more nervous that Cas might say something else about him, loyalty or some bullshit. He's fine with who and what he is, but there's not much about him that makes him proud, and the Winchesters are not the type to build each other up.

He meets Cas's eyes, waiting for the verdict, and Cas reaches over and puts a hand on his arm. "Do you think there is so little to like that it makes you uncomfortable?" he asks.

Instinct kicks in and Dean says, "Of course not. I'm awesome."

Cas turns to look at Sam, and Dean automatically follows his gaze. Sam looks annoyed and upset. "Jesus, Dean. You don't even know that you really are awesome."

Dean opens his mouth to bitch at Sam, he just said he was awesome, didn't he? And Cas says, "Your constancy."

Dean's not even sure what that means, but he's pretty sure it's not really something he deserves to be praised for. He doesn't get a chance to question it, though, because Cas has moved on to Sam. "And your desire to do the right thing."

Sam huffs out a disagreeable breath. "Lot of good that's done me."

Sadly, the kid's right, too. Dean knows he means well, but Sam can make the wrong choice, every time. He's the poster boy for good intentions paving the way to hell. It's still something that Dean loves about him – there are times Dean feels like his humanity has faded so far into the background of who he is that he might as well be one of the things they hunt.

He doesn't like where this whole conversation is taking them, though, so he throws in a blue chip and says, "Okay, Cas, tell me your life story in four minutes."

Cas's face goes flat in that way it does when his logic circuits are overloaded, and Sam's grinning like an idiot. Sam digs his phone out of his pocket and sets up a stopwatch. "Go!"

~~~

The next two hours go by surprisingly quickly. Cas is learning humor and since he's only got the Winchesters for reference, sarcasm is becoming his default setting. It helps; diffusing some of the more difficult questions with humor make some of the truths that come out, like Sam saying given the choice of anyone in the world, living or dead, the person he'd like to have a conversation with is their mom or Cas saying that the one ability he'd like to wake up with tomorrow is the ability to show Dean and Sam how truly beautiful they are, easier to take.

The fact that Sam considers Dean's deaths – every single one of them, including the hundred or more Gabriel made Sam live through in the time loop – his worst memory surprises Dean, even though he'd already admitted that the first time Sam came back to life was his own most treasured memory. He'd just expected Sam's worst memory to be Jess's death. He wonders, sometimes, if Sam's locked Jess away somewhere, doesn't think about her or let memories of her surface, the way Dean's locked down everything to do with Lisa and Ben.

Their chips are dwindling down; Sam and Cas haven't enforced any sort of turn system because they know Dean would be out of chips way before they would – though both of them made grand gestures of throwing piles of chips in to get them all to answer stupid things about the other two. Those were the questions where sarcasm and humor were allowed and Dean got back a little of his equilibrium. He's only got three chips left and they're all Cas's; Cas is a tough one to ask questions of. They all have trauma, but Cas's is the most recent, and they've all been tiptoeing around it for months.

Sam throws three blue chips into the middle and asks Cas to complete the sentence "I wish I had someone with whom I could share…"

Dean grins. There's really only one way to answer that, isn't there? Everything.

Cas smiles at Dean – he's got a weird automatic reaction to Dean smiling. No matter what it's about (unless it's a prank on Cas), if Dean smiles, Cas smiles back at him.

Cas turns back to Sam, still smiling, and that makes the corners of Sam's mouth turn up. Dean shifts his eyes away, picking up his nearly empty coffee cup and sucking down the dregs.

"I wish I had someone with whom I could share…" Cas says, softly, like he's still thinking about it. He puts his hands together, wrapping the left one around the right so he can rub a thumb over his wrist. After half a minute, he finishes with "…myself."

Sam looks like he wants to bust out of his chair and hug Cas, but somehow, he manages to keep his seat, putting his hand on top of Cas's and squeezing. Cas tilts his head, like he can't understand Sam's reaction. He probably can't. Dean is pretty sure it's because Sam has always been different from him and dad. It's not that dad wasn't supportive, just that he didn't get Sam, and even though Dean did, he never really found a way to tell Sam that. He's pretty sure Sam knows that it doesn't matter that they're different, but Sam has always wanted someone to share with, all those things that weren't hunting and all the peripheral crap that came along with it.

For once, it's Cas that looks uncomfortable, but more like he'd like to relieve Sam's stress than anything, so he picks up two of the red chips and throws them on the pile. He looks down at the paper and reads, "What roles do love and affection play in your life?"

Why Cas thinks this is a way to make Sam less upset, Dean has no idea.

Sam clears his throat and looks at the few chips he has left in a little pile. Dean thinks maybe he'll skip this one; it's not something they ever talked about but they were three guys and already too close to each other because of the way they lived. Sam picks up one of his red chips, twirling it over his knuckles. Dean hadn't known Sam could do that. Sam takes a deep breath and tosses the chip back into his own pile.

"They don't, really," Sam says. "We've never been touchy-feely sorts of people, dad especially, so there wasn't a lot of affection when we were kids. Dean is the same way, so unless Garth's around or we've gone through some traumatizing event, we don't hug or touch hardly at all."

Dean wants to protest this – he used to rub Sam's back when he had tummyaches and let Sam sleep in his bed when he had nightmares, and they've touched each other a lot when they clean themselves up after hunts. Sam's popped Dean's dislocated shoulder in a dozen or more times, and Dean's put enough stitches in Sam that he knows more about Sam's skin than Sam does.

Before Dean can get it together to say any of this, though, Sam says, quietly, "When I was with Jess, she used to touch me a lot. The first few weeks we were living together, I was always jumping because she would reach out and touch me if she was nearby, almost automatically. I got used to it too easy, and I think it's one of the reasons I missed her so much after she died."

The table goes quiet for a long moment. Sam clears his throat and throws his chair back. "I'm going to hit the head," he says, and Dean and Cas both watch him as he leaves the room.

"Was that a bad question?" Cas asks. "I didn't realize it would upset him that much."

Dean shrugs. "I didn't either. Who knows what's up with him." Come to think of it, though, Sam hasn't been with anyone since Amelia – not even just for sex. Maybe he's lonely. Dean puts it out of his mind, though, because the last thing he wants to do is think about how little sex anyone's been having lately, because he hasn't had that many opportunities either and they're dating Cas now, and then things go back to that really uncomfortable place of dating his ex-angel with his brother and adding sex to that equation just makes his brain freeze up.

"I'm getting coffee," Dean says, picking up his mug and Sam's. He knows Sam'll want some too. "You want more milk?"

"No, thank you," Cas says, leaning back in his chair with his hands folded over each other, smoothing his thumb over the back of his wrist rhythmically. "I'll wait for Sam to return."

Dean takes his time; he knows Sam's getting it together in the bathroom and he knows when to give Sam space on stuff like this. He's not sure about Cas, though. He doesn't like to upset them, but he also doesn't understand the way they communicate, without words most of the time, so Dean knows he feels lost when things like this happen. He sighs. Sometimes it feels like Cas will never learn how not to baldly ask things that make them uncomfortable. Sometimes he wonders if that's part of the reason Sam likes him so much.

Dean tips a dollop of milk into his coffee and a couple glugs into Sam's, adding a spoonful of sugar into Sam's before stirring them both. He can hear talking from the other room, soft murmurs that sound about as normal as things can get around here.

He brings out the mugs, setting Sam's down in front of his chips and sliding it over. Sam takes it with a half-smile that means thanks and swallows half of it in one go.

Most of the table is cleaned up. Sam and Cas have put their chips away and the cards are tucked neatly back into the case, which is sitting open, waiting for Dean's last three chips. "We're done," Sam says, his arms folded over their copies of the questionnaire. "But we didn't want to stop you from asking more, if you want."

Dean's chips are all Cas-blue, and he didn't really have that many questions for Cas in the first place. His history as an angel just meant most of the answers were going to be either painful or just plain moot.

He's about to say, "nah," when he glances down at the sheet and sees a question that catches his eye. Dean remembers the guarded look when Cas learned they were playing for information; there's something he doesn't want to talk about, and turnabout is fair play.

"All right," Dean says, handing the last three chips to Sam. "Cas, if you were going to become a close friend with your partners, please share what would be important for us to know."

Cas sits back in his chair, slouching down and giving Dean one of his most stubborn looks. For a second, Dean thinks he might not answer. If he was better at improvising, he might have been able to come up with something funny, but he's still learning, and it's obvious he feels like he's under pressure.

Sam leans forward, one of the things he does to show support, and interest. He wants to comfort Cas, Dean can tell, but somehow he knows that if they push too hard, Cas will get spooked and shut down completely. He can tell Sam feels the same – he's treating Cas like he's a skittish witness. He projects nearly-palpable trustworthiness, and Cas flicks his eyes up at Sam, across to Dean, and back to Sam before lowering them to his hands, which are folded together in his lap.

"It's impossible to express what losing my angelic nature has been like," Cas says. "There is a daily struggle with being human, so I can't afford to think about it often, but…" Cas looks sorrowful and Dean would normally say something funny and let him walk it off, but he's shared a lot tonight, and so has Sam, and it feels like this is the first admission of any value they're getting out of Cas. He gives away feelings that would be precious to any Winchester without blinking, or any recognition of their value – telling them of his esteem for them, talking about his sex life and loved ones, retelling memories of friends.

This is different. This costs Cas, and Dean isn't completely unsympathetic to that, but he feels like he's earned it with all the admissions he's given tonight.

Sam must be on the same wavelength, because while there's compassion clear on his face, he's making no move to excuse Cas from answering or diffuse the situation. He wants to know as much as Dean does.

Cas sighs. "You know when you go on a hunt and everything narrows down to that one monster, that one mission you need to complete?"

He looks up at them, waiting for something. Dean nods, and Sam answers, "Yeah."

"That is what being human is like."

Dean can feel the way his face is scrunched up as he tries to wrap his head around that statement.

Cas sighs again, frowning, clearly struggling with the words. "When you come out of that, there is a whole world that opens back up to you. You see the bigger picture of what's going on, the rest of the world comes in. And," he says, his eyes lighting up as he snaps his fingers at them, "when you were in the middle of the apocalypse, you could even see glimpses of the larger picture, the everyday world the angels lived in."

Dean gets it now – or he thinks he understands what Cas means, mostly. It's the whole universe-in-a-grain-of-sand shtick.

"So, basically, you're less of a dick because you're down in the mud with us now?"

Cas looks pained, and Dean almost regrets his outburst, but not quite. He forgets about Cas's slip-ups as an angel – he's never been one to hold a grudge, not really – and when he thinks back on Cas's early time with them, the distance and aloofness that he never quite pulled off the way the rest of those assmonkeys did… yeah. Dean gets it.

"Dean," Sam admonishes. He's always been such a bleeding heart.

"No, Dean is right," Cas says, giving Sam a weak smile. "The more distance you get from any situation, the less resources you put into it. It's true of angels as well as humans."

Sam gives Dean the stinkeye anyway, turning back to Cas after a moment and giving him the whole puppy-dog-eyed, tell-me-more look. Cas folds, just like anyone Sam turns that look on.

"You thought I was one of you because I helped you," Cas says, leaning back in the chair and taking one hand in the other. "And perhaps I was. I was certainly more attached to you than was considered appropriate." He smiles, though it turns a bit sad on the end.

"But before you, the millennia I fought for and protected humankind, there was an understanding of the universe, of our small but important place in it. There was a general feeling of love for your species, but not a specific one. There was comradeship with other angels, as well, a feeling that was simply constant."

Dean leans forward, quietly, wanting to get closer to Cas for some instinctual reason, almost wanting to reach out for him. Sam's leaning in too, his hand already stretched halfway across the table.

"It wasn't until God left that things started to shift," Cas says ruefully. He looks down at his hands as he continues. "For the ages before that, we were united in purpose, a single mind focused on the goal at hand. Self-determination is difficult enough when you're born to it. Trying to decide what you want as an individual when everything you know is being part of a singularly-minded group? Nearly impossible."

Dean doesn't know what to say to that. No wonder Cas doesn't know what his perfect day is. No wonder he doesn't know what his favorite ice cream is.

Cas sits up, shaking off the thoughtfulness. "I do know one thing. I want you." He catches Sam's eyes for a long second and then turns to Dean to do the same. Dean couldn't look away if he wanted to – and there is some small part of him that definitely wants to.

"You were the only thing I wanted as an angel that was separate from the Host. I didn't understand at the time, and it often confused me why I would go against orders for you."

Here Sam looks down, embarrassed like he always is anything ever hints at his mistakes.

"You too, Sam," Cas says. "My actions during that time were for Dean, but his thoughts were for you. You are not secondary to your brother."

Sam pulls back his hand, leaning away from Cas. Dean's at his limit, though, because he cannot handle any more of this talk.

"Hey, dumbass," Dean says, leveling his eyes at his brother. "It wasn't me he pulled out of Hell against orders."

It's not perfect – Cas fucked up when he did that, and that whole soulless thing is something they don't ever talk about – but it shifts something in Sam's eyes that was heading toward self-loathing again.

"Listen," Dean says, standing and gathering the coffee mugs and Cas's milk glass. "I'm beat. Talking about your feelings takes a lot out of a guy. Maybe we should call it a night."

~~~

Dean and Sam drop Cas off at the door to his room. It's not far from Dean's and a hallway away from Sam's, but it feels weirdly auspicious. They've said good night in the kitchen and common rooms so far. There's a feeling of possibility about this that makes Dean twitchy.

"Thank you both," Cas says, and Dean really hopes he just means –

"For your honesty. And your friendship."

Ugh. These are not things he likes to think about in relation to dating. It's weird enough the way it's all twisted up, friendship and dating should not have anything to do with each other.

"Thank you, Cas," Sam says, and then he leans in, like he's going to kiss Cas good night. Cas's hand shoots out and grabs Dean's sleeve, pulling him closer. Dean stumbles in awkwardly, enough to knock Sam off trajectory, and Sam grabs Dean's shoulder to steady himself. He's determined, though, and he keeps moving forward, putting his one free hand on Cas's neck, his thumb under Cas's jaw, and Dean is entirely too close for this.

He tries to back up, but Sam clutches his shoulder, even as he continues his kiss with Cas, obviously open-mouthed now, and Dean doesn't even have a hand free to put over his face like he wants to. He closes his eyes, waiting for the torture to be over, resolutely not thinking about the fact that it's his turn next.

There's a smacking sound that signals the end of the kiss, and when Dean opens his eyes, he sees Cas staring up at Sam with a look of surprised adoration on his face. And that? That is just so not cool. Dean is the good kisser in the family, and Sam is just a sappy girl, and Dean hip checks Sam out of the way, getting his hands on Cas's waist and bringing him in for a kiss, hips first.

He moves his hands slowly up Cas's sides while he gives Cas small kisses, a little tongue, a little nip, until Cas tries to chase his tongue as it leaves. Then Dean knows he's got him. He starts a coordinated assault, slipping his leg between Cas's and sliding his hands back down and playing cat and mouse with his tongue, and –

"Hey!"

Dean's protest is completely ignored by Sam, who turns Cas halfway around and pulls him in close, the only lingering contact with Dean his hand on Cas's hip. He's taken over where Dean left off, things hot and heavy and Cas plastered down Sam's front, and just, no.

Dean gets two hands up, shoving Sam backward, off of Cas, and then grabbing Cas and turning him around sharply. He backs Cas into Sam, because if he can trap Sam against the wall and Cas in the middle, he can keep Sam from getting the upper hand again. He leans forward to continue the kiss, and Cas asks, "Is this some sort of contest?"

Dean can't process for a second, feeling himself flush before he recognizes the guilt that floods over him. He and Sam are competitive at the best of times, and this is so inappropriate, he can't even –

"Because I would like a turn."

Dean's brain freezes. His translation circuits are completely fried, because he's pretty sure Cas just said –

"Yeah," Sam answers, his voice low. Dean snaps his head up, taking Sam in, leaning against the wall with Cas's back against his chest, his arms on Cas's shoulders. "Yeah, Cas, go for it."

Dean's a little annoyed that Sam's speaking for him, but he can't even string two words together at this point, so when Cas takes a step away from Sam and toward Dean, his hands outstretched, Dean's as still as a deer in headlights, wondering what the hell he's gotten himself into. Cas only takes Dean's hands, turning around within the confines of them so his back's to Dean, and guides Dean's palms to his hips. Dean's fingers curl automatically into Cas's beltloops. Cas keeps his hands on top of Dean's and shuffles the pair of them the step and a half it takes to get back to Sam.

Sam looks concerned, like maybe he'd been worried they weren't going to come back, but when Cas approaches, he stands up straight, swallowing hard.

Cas doesn't do anything, he just stands in front of Sam with Dean right behind, and Dean can't help but wonder what the hell Cas's plan is. He grins, because Cas is probably an awkward kisser, and if he loses, then he's going to have to pick between Sam and Dean for best kisser. A nervous laugh escapes before Dean can clamp his mouth shut on it.

Cas shoots a quelling look over his shoulder and Dean controls himself. Barely. Then Cas says, in a calm, quiet voice, "May I kiss you, Sam?" and Dean has to bite his tongue to keep himself from laughing.

The laughter dies in his throat when he looks at Sam's face, though, because there's something complicated there – sadness and pain mixed up with gratitude and desire. When he answers, "Yeah, Cas," Dean can hear the sarcastic words Sam wants to put on the end of it – maybe that's kind of the point or I'm not a fainting maiden, here – but they don't come out. What's left is a strangled statement of permission that's eerily weighted in the deserted hallway.

When Cas puts his arms around Sam, one wrapping around his waist and the other higher up, with his hand in Sam's hair, Dean's overwhelmed by the care and tenderness Cas shows, and how easily Sam slips into it, clutching Cas's shoulders and allowing Cas to move in and guide the kiss – slow but thorough, deepening so slowly that Dean thinks maybe he should feel a little uncomfortable watching. But Sam's face is open and happy – no tension lines above his eyes, something Dean realizes he's grown way too accustomed to.

Watching Cas take Sam apart doesn't bother him the way watching Sam kissing Cas did. He doesn't want to examine why that is, so he squeezes Cas's waist, hoping he can finally leave them to it – they have to have figured out by now that this whole deal is really about the two of them.

Cas's arm unwinds from Sam's waist lightning quick and he catches Dean's hand, fingers tightening painfully around Dean's wrist. The rest of Cas is still concentrated on Sam, though, and he takes his time ending the kiss, punctuating it with one, final, chaste kiss on the lips. Sam swallows hard and licks his lips nervously, his eyes darting quickly to Dean and skittering away, like maybe that was a little too personal to share with his brother.

Dean's glad to have seen it, though – he didn't know Sam wanted that, or that he needed it, and Cas just knew and that's why they're so damn perfect. He has to find some way to –

Cas's grip on his wrist gets suddenly painful, and Dean can't help the, "Ah!" that comes out, followed closely by, "What the hell–"

Before he can finish the statement, Cas uses an armlock to swing Dean around, shoving him into Sam and backing the both of them up against the wall. Cas glances over Dean's head – at Sam, obviously – and Sam's hands clamp down on Dean's biceps.

"Hey!"

Dean twists, automatically trying to throw an elbow back into Sam's gut.

"Dean," Cas says, his voice even lower than usual. Dean stills, like an off switch has been flipped, and Cas moves in, his face inches from Dean's. "Don't move."

Something hot and slippery slides into the pit of Dean's stomach, and whatever it is, it's making his heart race – he can feel the thrum of the blood in his veins, his whole body primed for some unknowable thing that comes next.

He's staring at Cas, waiting for him to move the three inches closer for their lips to meet, so he's completely unprepared for the feel of Cas's fingers on his stomach. Underneath his shirt, too, grazing skin. He can feel the muscles tremble under Cas's hand, and his knees turn to water. Thank god for Sam holding him up because Dean is pretty sure he'd be on the floor without him.

"I said, don't move," Cas says, his voice quiet but commanding. The slippery thing in Dean's guts gives a lurch and heat comes off Dean's skin in a sudden wave. He feels like he might spontaneously combust. His eyes close without his permission, and now everything Cas does is a complete surprise. He slides Dean's shirt up, his hands traveling the skin of Dean's stomach and chest like they're memorizing his body. When Cas presses a kiss to his neck, Dean jerks backwards, into the softness he realizes too late is Sam. His eyes fly back open – just in time for Cas to mouth his way up Dean's neck and across his jaw, and finally press his mouth to Dean's. Dean's eyes close again, leisurely, like they want to enjoy the kiss as much as Dean does.

It's an open-mouthed kiss, but there isn't any tongue, and Dean just waits, dying for Cas to give him something, anything. Cas's hands come up to cup his face, and when one of his thumbs strokes the corner of Dean's mouth, Dean's tongue can't help poking out to meet it.

That seems to break something in Cas, because he slams their mouths together, his cool façade entirely shattered. He presses Dean backwards, back against Sam, and Dean thinks maybe he should feel trapped, but mostly he feels safe. And maybe like Cas is trying to devour him. And maybe like that wouldn't be a bad thing.

Cas pulls away suddenly, releasing Dean so quickly that he nearly falls on his face – except Sam is still holding his arms and catches him.

Dean's whole body is pounding his heartbeat, and the thing in the pit of his stomach has reached up a tentacle around his heart while he wasn't paying attention. He gets himself together to stand on his own two feet and Sam steps out from behind him so they're standing shoulder to shoulder.

"How did I do?" Cas asks, somehow all the way across the hall, standing in front of the door to his room. One corner of his mouth quirks up, like he knows the answer to the question.

Dean turns to look at Sam and their eyes meet. Sam nods, and they look at Cas and say together, "You win."

~~~

Dean turns and goes into his room before Sam can ask him if he wants to talk about it, or even do something subtle, like suggest a glass of the really good whiskey. Dean could use the whiskey, but he's not willing to sit around talking more about this. He's done more than enough talking tonight, and he just wants to go to bed and sleep it all off.

Unfortunately, the last thing his body wants to do is sleep. He strips and gets into bed, but the second he closes his eyes, he hears Cas's voice. Don't move. A shiver goes down his entire body and his eyes snap wide open.

He hasn't had a date end like this in years. Since high school, maybe. He knows what to do, it's not like it's hard – oh, ha ha, funny, brain. But the thing that's setting his teeth on edge, the thing that's got him half-hard already is Cas. A dude. Or an ex-angel wearing the dude suit he ended up in when he fell.

And that thought doesn't make him any less hard, because he can think of a thousand times Cas showed him who was boss, with fists, or hands, or just his gaze. Fuck. How could he not even known that was something he wanted? How could he not tell what that little electric shock down his spine meant?

His skin flushes again, hot enough to break a sweat, just like in the hallway, and finally he accepts it for what it is and takes himself in hand. The sound of Cas's voice rattles in his mind, giving him orders for the last several years, saying, "Dean," in a million different varieties of exasperation. It doesn't take long before he's coming hard, and he hasn't even thought about anyone being naked.

Dean Winchester, utterly and completely fucked, ladies and gentlemen.

~~~

An hour after Dean thought he'd taken care of business, he's still awake, lying on his back and staring at the ceiling. He hates being awake in bed, nothing to do and sleep not showing up to make things easier. He gives it a few more minutes, but after the third attempt to name all the states in alphabetical order fails, he gets up, throws on some clothes, and heads out to the common room, looking for the whiskey.

The whiskey is sitting in front of Sam, a few shots already in Sam's gut, from what Dean remembers of how full the bottle was last night. Dean grabs a glass from the tray and pours himself one, settling in a chair opposite Sam and sipping to let the whiskey make a warm trail down his throat.

Dean finishes the whiskey and Sam's got the decanter ready to pour number two. Dean holds up his glass, gratefully accepting the offering.

"What the hell are we doing, Sam?" Dean asks as he swirls the whiskey around his glass.

Sam shrugs, and Dean rests his head on his arms. It's easier to think with his eyes closed, and the whiskey's got him nicely mellow. "You and Cas have a connection," Dean says, thinking maybe he can get Sam to use his puppy eyes on Cas to let Dean off the hook now.

"Yeah," Sam says. Dean looks up to see if there's something on Sam's face to go with that statement. He looks thoughtful, but that's about it.

"Okay," Dean says, sitting up straighter. "So, you can talk Cas into making this a twosome, then."

Sam frowns and sets his glass down. "Are you trying to tell me you don't have a connection to Cas?" Dean opens his mouth and Sam frowns harder and adds, "And before you think about lying to me, maybe you should remember who had to hold you up when he kissed you."

Dean's stomach drops and he shuts his mouth.

Sam laughs, a low, humorless chuckle into his whiskey. "You don't even realize how hot you are for him, do you?"

"I'm not –"

Sam's glare is enough to take the words right out of Dean's mouth.

"Remember what I said about lying, Dean."

Dean huffs out a breath, not quite ready to push his luck with his brother.

Sam tilts his head and puts on his best sincere concern face. "Just close your eyes and think about that kiss, Dean."

Dean doesn't close his eyes, but at the mention of the kiss, his heart ticks up, the sensations coming back to him like he's still standing in that hallway, three inches of air between him and Cas and every single molecule electrified. He's had a lot of sex, done a lot of kissing, and he can count on one hand the times he's felt anything close to that intensity. Just thinking about it is going to give him another boner in a second, so he mentally shakes himself and rolls his eyes at his brother. "You think about his kiss – you're the one that swooned."

Sam's eyes grow tight, and for half a second, Dean thinks he's won – but Sam just shrugs one shoulder and says, "You're right. I'm falling for Cas. But so are you, and if you can't see that, you're an idiot."

Dean sputters, trying to find the words to deny Sam, but it doesn't matter because Sam's not done talking.

"Whatever," he says, pushing the half full tumbler away from him and standing up. "It's either both of us or nothing, and if you can't wrap your head around that, it doesn't matter how I feel about Cas."

Dean grabs Sam's arm so he can't leave. "Wait."

Sam sighs dramatically as he sits back down, leaning back in his chair and pouting.

"You're really okay with the idea of all three of us."

"Yes."

Sam's answer is fast – too fast, unless he's really thought about it. "How?"

Sam throws his hands up in frustration. "We already work pretty well as a team. I don't think a whole lot is going to change." His eyes shift off of Dean and Dean knows that's because he's finally gotten to the place where Dean's mind comes to a screeching halt, every single time he even thinks about this seriously.

Sex.

Dean blew past the dude thing an hour ago, softening dick in hand and Cas's voice ringing in his head. Whatever Cas did to him during that kiss, he recognizes that he wants more, and of the naked variety. But Cas being part of the equation is a little weird, and Sam… no. There is just a hard stop where that's concerned. If Sam's thought about it, he wants to know how, exactly, he thinks this is going to work.

"And the sex?"

Sam's never been one for blushing, no matter how embarrassed he gets, but Dean can tell he's uncomfortable from the way he sits forward, hunched in on himself. "That depends on you," Sam says, clearing his throat. "If you don't…" He looks up at Dean and there's something in his eyes that doesn't make any sense, not for this conversation. It's fear, and that weird self-loathing Sam gets sometimes. He shakes his head. "We can take turns."

"You think Cas would go for that?" Something about it seems off to Dean, something about the way Cas has handled the whole situation, but everything about this conversation throws up roadblocks that Dean's brain refuses to think around.

"We'd have to watch," Sam admits, and looks down at the table, his embarrassment getting the better of him. "I didn't think it'd be that bad." One corner of his mouth lifts, like it's almost funny. "You watched me and Cas kiss."

Dean blinks. He had watched them kiss, and seeing Cas with Sam had been both awesome and heartbreaking. Seeing someone else touch Sam with all the tenderness Dean feels and has never really been able to show Sam, that was... hard. Seeing how much Sam needed it was harder.

"You could watch me with Cas?"

Sam barks out a harsh laugh, and the embarrassment is all gone when he looks up at Dean sharply. "Yeah, Dean. The way he kissed you was the hottest thing I've ever seen." He looks back down at the table, running a thumb along the edge. "And I thought…" He flicks a look up at Dean and immediately looks back down to the table. "I thought maybe having me there made you feel safe."

Having Sam around never makes Dean feel safe. Having Sam around means that some part of Dean is concerned with Sam, constantly checking to make sure he's okay, not just physically but emotionally, too. It's worse when Sam isn't there, though – at least if Dean can lay eyes on Sam, then he can see what shape Sam's in.

"Huh," Dean says. Maybe he could let Sam watch, after all. It'd be awkward, but he'd know, absolutely and for certain, that Sam was okay, so maybe he could let go. He'd want to watch Sam for almost the same reason – Cas's kiss showed him a new part of Sam, some need Sam had that Dean didn't even know existed, much less been able to take care of.

"Huh, what?" Sam asks.

"Maybe I could do this," Dean says, downing the last gulp of whiskey in his tumbler.

Sam looks at him, hopeful and doubtful at the same time. "Maybe we should take advantage of your Irish courage and go ask Cas right now."

The idea makes whatever tentacle baby slipped into his stomach during the kiss act up. His stomach is all butterflies – the good kind – and his heart is so full of how much he loves Sammy that it might explode. "You're sure?" Dean asks one last time, because he has to. It's his duty, his life's purpose to make sure Sam's okay.

"Yeah, Dean, I'm way ahead of you here."

~~~

"Yes?"

Cas is in pajama bottoms, shirtless, and he looks up at the pair of them sleepily like he has no idea why they're standing there.

"Uh," Dean says, because if a woman he'd been dating showed up in that state of dress, he'd charm his way in and they'd be in for a good time. Then he realizes that's exactly what they're doing with Cas and the amusement wears off a little.

"Zzsht," Sam says, and Dean looks over at him to make sure he isn't going to have some kind of seizure. He's staring at Cas and his eyes are bugging out of his head a little.

"Sam?" Cas asks, reaching out a hand. "Are you okay?"

Sam blinks a couple times and shakes his head. "Yeah, sorry. Yeah, I'm fine."

"Okay," Cas says, but he sounds dubious. "What do you want?"

Dean leers a little, giving Cas a slow smile. "We thought you might invite us in."

Cas's eyebrows go up in surprise. "You'd like sex?" He glances from Dean to Sam and back.

Dean can feel Sam nod behind him, so he says the actual words. "Yeah. If you want to."

Cas tilts his head, a smug smile on his face. "Yes, I would like that." He reaches out, settling a hand on Dean's waist and grabbing one of Sam's hands with the other.

Cas lifts Sam's hand, transferring it to Dean's shoulder, his thumb on the back of Dean's neck. "Wait," Dean says, but Cas is moving forward, pulling Sam in by the hip until he's flush against Dean's back.

"Wait!" Dean says, a little hysterically. "Cas, we thought maybe we could take turns."

Cas's eyes shutter and he immediately retreats from them, crossing the threshold and putting the door between them.

"No, thank you," Cas says. He's always impeccably polite at the weirdest times. "I'm not interested in taking turns."

"Why not?" Dean asks, his whiskey-soaked brain unable to comprehend Cas's refusal.

Cas smiles at him, a sad smile, like Dean's the one that just made everything between them all weird. "Perhaps you should ask yourselves a question," Cas says, closing the door slowly on them. "How come I asked you out together?"

The door clicks shut and they're left standing together in the hallway, speechless.

~~~

If there's one thing Dean and Sam do well, it's silence.

They'd gone to the common room together, Sam pouring them each a couple of fingers of whiskey before taking the seat across from Dean, lowering himself slowly, like he's already a little tipsy.

Dean knows eventually Sam will start talking because he can't help it. Dean figures he must need to talk too or he would've found a way to get out of here. But just because he knows they have to talk doesn't mean he has to like it.

Sam makes it halfway through the whiskey in his glass before he opens his big mouth.

"Okay," Dean says, "so why did Cas ask us out together?"

Sam puts his glass down, looking at Dean inscrutably. Dean knows that look intimately. It's the look Sam uses when he just cannot believe Dean is that stupid. Half the time Dean isn't, but he has a reputation to maintain and it's easier if people underestimate him, especially Sam.

Now, though, he isn't playing dumb. He really has no idea why Cas asked them out as a single entity. He could've dated them both at the same time, just as individuals. Sam would've said yes to that, Dean thinks. Dean probably wouldn't have. But then this all would've been a hell of a lot easier.

"He couldn't decide?" Dean asks, knowing that's wrong but really not putting anything more together in his brain.

Sam shakes his head. "Dean," he says, "Sometimes you really are an idiot."

Dean picks up his whiskey, takes a nice, slow drink. "So tell me, Sam, why did Cas ask us out like that?"

Sam sets down his glass before he answers, twirling it around twice and watching the whiskey slosh against the sides. "Because, Dean, having a relationship with one of us means he has to have a relationship with both of us, whether he likes it or not."

"Bullshit," Dean says, the word automatic, before he can even really process Sam's words.

"No," Sam says, patiently. He's gotten mellow drunk, which annoys Dean because it means he can outwait Dean and eventually win the argument by being incredibly stubborn. In the most boring way possible, but still. Stubborn.

"Spit it out, Sammy."

Sam rolls his eyes, all little-brother put-upon like only Sam can do. "Dean, we belong to each other. There is some part of me that will always be yours, that no one else can touch."

Dean rolls his eyes. Of course Sam'll always be his little Sammy. He practically raised the kid. That's half the problem right there. "So?" Dean asks.

Sam laughs softly. "And part of you belongs to me. Part that no one else gets, only me."

The words drop out of Sam's mouth and Dean can almost see the shape of them; time slows down and cracks open a window into his memories as everything falls neatly into place. Bits and pieces of their lives rearranging themselves into a new picture, his entire world turned on its head. Sammy is his. He's Sammy's. He's always known that they were closer than brothers – he's seen enough siblings to know they were unusual in some fundamental way – but it never occurred to him exactly how close they were, how there's never really been any room in their lives for people who couldn't or wouldn't take them as a package deal.

"But," Dean gets out. The thoughts creating vapor trails in his brain don't have weight enough for him to form words about them yet.

"Yeah," Sam says. "Me neither. And honestly, I think Cas could've picked one of us and it would've worked, because we're all family now. The only thing I can guess is that he really wanted both of us."

"But," Dean says again, and can't help shaking his head as Sam effortlessly reads his mind and puts it into words.

"I know," Sam says. "But he doesn't want us individually. He wants us together."

Dean sighs, finishing the whiskey and debating another one. "So now what?"

Sam shrugs. "Now I suppose we figure out if this is something we can do."

~~~

By some unspoken agreement, they go to Dean's room. Dean figures it's either because his mattress is softer than the cement floor or there aren't books all over the place. With each step, there's a growing sense of dread that started when he realized what, exactly, Cas's refusal of their offer meant.

He opens the door to his room and Sam crowds in close behind him, not much different than the way he's always a little close, but just off enough that it makes Dean tense up. He steps forward, gives himself a little room before he turns around to face his brother.

Sam's hunched in on himself again, his shoulders rounded and his hands in his pockets. Dean hates that look. It means Sam's thinking bad about himself again, and there's just no reason for it. This isn't some world-ending, life-or-death moment.

That makes things feel a little less crazy in his head, so he takes a step forward, putting himself back in that strange bubble of personal space that's too close for other people but not for his brother. He meets Sam's eyes, trying to figure out what in the hell is going on in that gargantuan brain of his.

Sam loses a little of the hunchback as he stares at Dean, and after a minute of them doing nothing but staring at each other, Sam moves forward. There wasn't a whole lot of space between them, so it's only a second or two before he's close enough that Dean's eyes cross. His well-honed fight or flight instinct kicks in and he turns his head away, taking a step back.

It's Sam. He just… can't.

"Dean."

Dean nods, putting up a hand in acknowledgment. He knows. He just needs a minute.

"Dean, just close your eyes."

Dean nods again. That's totally the answer. If he's not looking at Sam, he can get let go, not think of who it is, get lost in the feel of it. He feels Sam take a step forward and he closes his eyes just as Sam tucks a hand into his elbow to spin him around. He bobbles a little, but Sam doesn't let go, and it only takes a second for him to regain his equilibrium.

Then Sam is kissing him and everything falls apart. He doesn't know why he thought it would make a difference, his eyes being closed, because he can tell this is Sam in every detail. He knows the shape of Sam's body in the air in front of him, he knows the feel of Sam's hand on his face, and he knows the smell of Sam, a scent so strong in his hindbrain he sometimes thinks he could track Sam cross-country just by the smell of him.

He breaks the kiss, putting his hands on Sam's chest and gently pushing him away. "Sam," he pleads. "I can't."

Sam backs away. He's hunched in on himself again, and damn it, Dean's going to have to beat that posture out of him. He's a grown man, he shouldn't be able to look like a kicked puppy.

"I understand," Sam says, slouching back toward the door. "I'll tell Cas it's off."

"Don't you put that on me," Dean says, crossing the room in three big steps and grabbing Sam before he gets through the door. "I raised your skinny ass. I'm the one that cooked your mac and cheese and got you through toilet training and force-fed you antibiotics when you had strep throat. I just can't do… this." He waves a hand helplessly.

Sam takes a deep breath and lets it out, his shoulders dropping back down to normal. "It's okay," he says finally, and huffs out a little laugh. "I knew it'd be you and me 'til the end. I didn't really think I'd be so lucky as to get anyone else."

Dean's never dared to hope he'd still have Sam at the end of it all. Not with him, anyway. He always thought Sam would figure it out, that they're never going to be "done," and eventually walk away. Go back to school, or find some woman to settle down with, raise a couple kids and a dog. He doesn't know when, exactly, Sam changed his mind about that, but he knows Sam's stopped talking about the future in the last couple years.

"You don't have to hang around," Dean says, trying to be magnanimous and probably failing, because he doesn't honestly know what he'd do with himself if Sam actually left. "You can get out of the life, go start an organic farm or open range dog kennel or something."

Sam laughs a little at that, but the look in his eyes is exasperation. "I'm not leaving, Dean." He moves forward, back into Dean's space, just a little closer than Dean's a hundred percent comfortable with. "You're stuck with me."

There's a certain amount of relief that floods into Dean at Sam's words, so when Sam leans forward, he closes his eyes and waits for Sam to kiss him. Tries to think of Sam having something approximating his happy ending, even if it's with his brother and their broken-down angel.

Sam brings his hand up to Dean's face again and his palm is warm against Dean's cheek. He's close, but he's not moving in for anything yet, there's just Sam's breath ghosting warm over Dean's skin.

"It's just sex," Sam mumbles. "It doesn't have to mean anything."

Dean huffs out a breathy laugh, leaving his eyes closed. "I know a thing or two about meaningless sex, Sammy. This? Definitely not meaningless."

Sam hums, the sound close enough to Dean's cheek that he can feel the vibration in his skin. "Maybe we should decide what it means, then."

Dean can't help it. Sam's name is pulled out of him, cut short because he surges forward to put his lips on his brother's. You're mine, he thinks it means. You mean more to me than my own life.

He puts his hands on Sam, already knowing the curve of his ribs and the jut of his shoulder blade, but now he's saying you are precious and how can you not see how perfect you are? and Sam is groaning like he understands everything and the only thing he's ever really wanted is to know that Dean loves him.

Dean's never understood how Sam could doubt that; it's there all the time, constant. If the only way for him to know is for Dean to brand it into his skin, then, well, Dean can do that. He lifts Sam's shirt off and runs his hands over skin he already knows intimately, stopping at places Dean has stitched him together, wondering about a few scars he wasn't around to see. Every touch says no one will ever know you the way I do and I would do anything to keep you with me.

Sam's hands are trembling, and he doesn't seem to know what to do with them. Dean's not unsympathetic, but now that he knows what this is – the way for him to say all those things he could never put into words – he doesn't care much. He knows Sam, maybe better than Sam knows himself, and he's never doubted Sam's love for him, not even when things were bad between them. He's disappointed to find out that Sam doesn't know the same thing, but Dean's determined to show him.

He puts his hands on his brother and pushes him, circling them around and backing Sam up until he sits down on the bed. Sam lifts himself up and scoots over, making room for Dean, who he's staring at with big, round eyes like he might be hallucinating. His hands are carefully resting at his sides, and Dean wonders what it means that even now, Sam doesn't trust himself to touch Dean.

Dean doesn't care, though, not yet. If this is the way they're going to talk from now on, he's got time to coax everything out of his brother. Right now, this is about finally telling Sam all the things he thought Sam already knew.

He climbs onto the bed, taking only long enough to shed his boots, and kneels next to Sam, sitting back on his heels so he can see better. He knows Sam's erogenous zones – tickle fights are incredibly useful for that sort of thing – so he settles a hand on Sam's raised knee. It's okay is all it means. I need a little time to think.

They're both new to being with dudes, Dean's pretty sure, so he's going to take that part slowly. There's plenty of time to figure that stuff out with Cas, who he's willing to bet has some sort of plans for them. He's feeling this out on his own, though, and the only thing that's important right now is what his actions are telling Sam.

He figures it out, he thinks, and releases Sam's knee, rubbing his thumb over it as a promise for a different conversation they can have with their bodies later. He stretches himself along Sam's side, nudging Sam's arm up so he can slot his shoulder under it and force Sam to put an arm around his back. Sam does it – he's always taken physical direction well – and Dean starts with his plan.

A kiss. Just a short one on the lips, enough to let Sam know there's more coming, but it's not about the sex, not yet. This is about ownership, and Sam belongs to Dean.

Dean pushes Sam's head back, kissing under his jaw, biting softly when he reaches the corner. That part is especially his, he decides, and wonders if maybe he should make Sam get a tattoo.

He spends a long time on Sam's neck, partially because Sam shifts underneath him, restless, and Dean doesn't know if it's discomfort or arousal, but he doesn't really care. Too many people and monsters have had their hands on Sammy's neck, and Dean is going to wipe that all away, make sure Sam knows that it belongs to Dean now, and he'll kill anyone that touches it without permission.

Dean's hands move over his brother's shoulders and chest while he does this, smooth strokes to calm Sam's skittishness. As his hands travel lower, though, he can feel Sam's body curling in, trying to get Dean's hands somewhere they're not going yet. He can read Sam's please in every muscle twitch, and it makes him smile that Sam's finally talking back.

He lets his hands slip lower, trailing over Sam's waist and stomach, the muscles there trembling at Dean's light touch. He lowers his mouth, too, licking and biting Sam's shoulder, feeling the creak of the muscle as Sam tightens his grip on Dean's back. Another version of please, and Dean can't help the edges of a power trip creeping in, how easily he can make Sam beg. Eventually he'll want to hear the words, a solid sound in Sam's broken voice, but Sam's broad hand clinging to Dean's waist is enough for now.

It takes a while to unbuckle Sam's belt and open his jeans, but Sam stays on edge, entire body taut the whole time. Dean shifts a little lower on the bed, letting his mouth settle on Sam's tattoo, wondering how he didn't see that for what it was at the time, a way to bond them together.

He finally wrestles Sam's jeans into submission, sliding his hand into Sam's boxers and listening to Sam suck in a breath. "Dean," he says, and it's the first word either of them has said in an eternity. Dean's greedy for it now, Sam saying his name all reverent like that, so he goes back to sucking on the tattoo, his hand wrapping firmly around Sam's dick, which is obviously on board with the proceedings.

It gives Dean a second of pause, because Dean wasn't hard, not up until half a second ago, when his little brother breathing out his name suddenly became a turn-on. Sam's obviously been hard for a while, and granted, Dean's been making a coordinated effort for this, but it's still a little surprising.

"Dean," Sam says again, drawing his name out into a long whine, and every thought is pushed right out of Dean's head. Somehow he knows that Sam is close, even though there's no reason for him to know that. Sam's hips are pushing up, sliding Sam's dick through Dean's hand. It starts with a stuttering sort of rhythm and shifts into a rhythmic glide after a few misfires.

Dean can feel the inevitable, the tidal motion of Sam's hips spelling everything out loud and clear, so he just lets himself get pulled along, his mouth distractedly moving over Sam's pec, lower and lower, until his chin grazes Sam's tight, hard nipple. Sam calls out Dean's name again, half warning and half amazement as he comes all over his stomach and chest.

Dean's pretty amazed himself, but he can't quite let Sammy off that easily, so he takes Sam's nipple into his mouth, and laves it with his tongue until Sam calls uncle.

"Stop, Dean, stop!"

He gives Dean a shove on the shoulder with the hand not currently resting on Dean's waist, and then covers his pec with it. "Jeez."

Dean grins. "Little oversensitive there, Samantha?"

Sam growls, "I'll show you oversensitive," and in a surprisingly deft move, flips Dean onto his back and climbs on top of him. Dean's first instinct is to wrestle, and he's bucking under Sam before he realizes he's basically pressing his hard-on up into Sam.

He goes still suddenly, and Sam has a brief look of that self-loathing before his face sets into stubborn determination. He takes Dean's wrists in his hands, roughly, like he's expecting Dean to resist, and pulls Dean's arms up until they're over his head.

Sam transfers both of Dean's wrists to one hand and uses the other to pull his belt out of his jeans in a single, smooth motion. Dean starts struggling again, because it's obvious where this is going and there's no way in hell he's going to let Sam tie him up. He gets one arm free, but Sam holds onto the other wrist and squeezes, hard. Dean takes a swing and clips Sam on the chin, enough to startle but not enough to hurt, or for Sam to let go of the one wrist he's got.

Sam looks down at him, half annoyance and half amusement. "I'll leave your hands free if you promise not to try and stop me from doing anything," Sam says. "Think you can do that?"

Something about the way Sam says it makes Dean's stomach flip – whether a good or bad flip, he's not sure. Those signals got mixed up somewhere in Hell. He nods.

"Okay," Sam says, letting go of Dean's wrist. The relief floods into Dean almost as quickly as the blood flows back into his hand. "Take your shirts off," Sam orders, and Dean shivers.

He's said his piece, though, and this has to be a two-way street, so he needs to let Sammy say whatever it is he needs to say. He sits up as far as he can (not very, with sasquatch sitting on him like that) and lets Sam help take his flannel off. He regrets it almost as soon as it's off, though, because Sam uses it to clean the come off his stomach – probably just to get a rise out of Dean. The kid's always been good at pushing his buttons.

Dean yanks the henley over his head, throwing it over the side of the bed and out of Sam's reach, in case he's looking for something to use as a Kleenex. Dean drops flat onto his back and Sam chuckles, low and a little dirty, which is both really hot and a little disturbing.

It doesn't help that Sam shimmies back a ways, undoes Dean's belt and unzips his jeans, and pulls them and his boxers and his socks off, stripping them down in one smooth movement. Dean can do the same for Sam, of course – it's part of what you need to do to take care of serious lower body injuries – but it makes him feel vulnerable in a way it's never done when he was bleeding out because of a ripped femoral artery.

"Sam," Dean starts, but he's not sure what to say, really, so he leaves Sam's name hanging there between them.

Sam seems okay with that, climbing back on top of him, setting his ass down like he plans to move in, and staring down at Dean underneath him, like he's deciding what to touch first. He moves in for a kiss, and Dean's eyes shut automatically. He has to concentrate not to turn his head to the side. There's still a kneejerk reaction to this sort of intimacy with Sam; his body is trying to get him as far away from his brother as possible. He can't help it.

The kiss doesn't come, though he can feel Sam's whiskey breath skating over his face. Dean tries not to squirm, tries to keep his body still and his mind empty, but this is Sam, and there's no way to fool himself into thinking it's anybody else.

"Dean," Sam whispers, soft with a lull of an n at the end – intimate, the opposite of the way Sam says his name when one of them's in trouble, hard and cut off with a bite. Dean can't even move, he's vibrating with all the conflicting emotions going on inside him. He just breathes – shallowly – and waits. This is on Sam.

Sam brings a hand to Dean's face, cupping his cheek and running his thumb along Dean's cheekbone. Dean has no idea what that might mean, but he keeps his eyes shut and tries to be patient while Sam works out whatever he needs to say.

Sam's thumb moves to Dean's lips, the slightest press on his lower one. It's not a conscious decision, just something that happens on automatic pilot, but Dean's tongue darts out to meet Sam's thumb. There's something satisfying about Sam's gasp, so Dean does it again, intentionally this time.

Sam finally leans in the last little bit, replacing his thumb with his mouth, and the kiss is tentative at first, but Sam's never been one to quit in a game of chicken – and yeah, that's totally what this is – so the kiss gets better. Dean follows Sam's lead, letting him set the pace, even though it's agonizingly slow, like inching your way into cold water instead of diving right in.

When Sam sets his mind to it, though, there's nothing left for Dean to do but fall. The kiss is like Sam figuring out the secret mechanism on a puzzle box. The press of Sam's tongue, his thumb on Dean's jaw, his knees bracketing Dean's hips – all tumblers that eventually lock into place. All Dean's reservations, all his instincts not to do this are stripped away and he's left with nothing but his brother's mouth and the feel of his body stretched out on top of him. All of Dean's moral qualms quiet.

This is Sam. There couldn't be anything more right.

Sam's natural pace is glacial, which should probably annoy Dean except he can't seem to find two thoughts to rub together. He can't hold on to frustration when Sam's laser focus travels down his body, stumbling over another thing that turns Dean to mush (his collarbones, that little web of skin between his fingers, the fucking inside of his forearm) and exploiting it, making Dean breathless.

By the time Sam's running his fingers over Dean's stomach, licking at his nipple, Dean's hard enough to pound nails, and completely unable to do anything to move things along. Every time he tries to, Sam grabs his wrist, squeezing until the bones roll over each other, and Dean goes back to shifting under Sam on the bed, stuck in the limbo of a low tide of pleasure, nothing like the building tsunami wave it usually is. It's so foreign he can't help wondering why this is the way Sam fucks, who he's treated like this, what it means.

It's a little disconcerting that Sam seemed to understand exactly what Dean was telling him with his hands, but that Dean can't read Sam at all – he has no idea what this is supposed to mean. There's a lot of complicated shit going on in Sammy's brain at any given time, but this is a single-minded determination, and Dean just want to know. What does it mean? What's Sam's getting out of it, what's he's trying to say?

There's no time to think, though, because Sam's still moving south, shifting backwards along Dean's legs until he's forced to get off them and move to the side. Dean looks down his body at Sam mouthing his hipbone, his thumb pressing into the hollow of the other, flanking his dick, which is just dying for a little attention here. Dean's hands are in fists, preventing him from doing something unthinkable like trying to get Sam's mouth on his dick.

Sam's hand shifts lower, gripping Dean's thigh and pulling. Dean goes with it, bends that knee and opens his leg up. He feels exposed; more exposed than he's ever felt, which is saying something in his line of work. Sam's hand is firm, which is good because Dean's legs are really sensitive – not enough pressure and it'd tickle, and then this whole thing'd be over with.

Sam's hand moves inward, his fingers moving up Dean's thigh and toward his balls, which would be great except of course Sam never gets there, tracing the join of Dean's thigh and pelvis. Then Sam's fingers are under Dean's balls, pressing on his taint and the low-tide pleasure suddenly cranks up a notch. Heat moves through his whole body, shoulders on down to where Sam's now just watching his own hands, staring down at Dean's junk like it's the best present ever.

Dean rocks his hips experimentally, bringing his dick a little closer to Sammy's slightly open mouth, and Sam smiles, flicking his eyes up to meet Dean's. The smile turns distinctly smirky, like he knows exactly what Dean wants, but his mouth moves to Dean's inner thigh, his cheek grazing Dean's balls, and Dean flushes hot again. This is more intense, but still not building, not like he's used to. Rising – a high tide coming in, but not ratcheting up, and he wonders where the breaking point is.

Sam pulls Dean's other leg open, leaving Dean exposed in a way that makes him panic. Sam scrambles over his legs to get between them, though, and that should probably make Dean nervous, but makes him feel safe, instead.

Sam grips the top of Dean's thighs with good pressure, manipulating them to exactly where he wants them while he licks his way around Dean's inner thighs. Sam seems especially fond of the join of Dean's thigh and pelvis, licking and biting the tendons there.

Dean sucks in a breath, coughing a little because his mouth is really dry, and that's when he realizes he's been moaning this whole time. He'd heard it, somewhere in the background, but he hadn't realized it was him making those low, needy sounds.

Sam shifts, put his mouth on Dean's balls, and something more than a moan is ripped out of him. This is what he's used to, a tensing coil of pleasure that'll let loose into an orgasm, and he breathes Sam's name, begging for more.

Sam smirks again, bringing his chest down to the bed and pressing Dean's legs open with his impossibly wide shoulders, and the sense of being exposed, vulnerable, hits Dean again, along with the panic that's rising in proportion with how much he wants this. He fights it down, reminds himself that this is Sam and Sam won't hurt him. It doesn't help, but Sam must sense something because he finally puts his mouth on Dean's dick and his thoughts go blissfully silent.

Sam's blowjob, like everything else so far, is mind-breakingly slow. Dean can't really complain, his dick surrounded as it is by perfect wet heat, but he's back to the weird limbo of floating in extreme pleasure, no end in sight. He wonders how, exactly, this ends, if even a blowjob doesn't bring the tension to a place where he'll come.

Sam seems to know, though, because he shifts, raising his shoulders off the bed and Dean's legs with them. He gets his hands under Dean's back, firm pressure that he brings down, palming Dean's ass. Dean's heart leaps in his throat, and all of a sudden his body is tightly wound, his orgasm ready to take him, just the right move from Sam will send him over the edge. Sam must feel it too, because one of his hands dips between Dean's legs and presses on Dean's taint again, brushing the underside of his balls, and Dean comes without any warning, right into Sammy's mouth.

Sam coughs a little, which makes Dean feel guilty and righteously satisfied in about equal measure. Mostly he feels wrung out, though, and thirsty. The orgasm itself was a surprise – overpowering and almost brutal, but short. It's a weird sort of relief when Sam lowers his shoulders to lay Dean back onto the bed, crawling out from between Dean's legs and flopping down next to him.

Sam shimmies out of his jeans and chucks them onto the floor with the rest of the clothes that are strewn everywhere, and then tucks himself along Dean's side, like he used to do before he outgrew Dean and it became hard to fit them both on the same bed. He rests his head on Dean's shoulder and Dean can't help kissing the top of it, like he used to when they were kids and he knew it would make Sammy feel better.

"Guess I was right," Sam says, shifting down the bed a little to rest his head on Dean's chest.

"About what?" Dean asks, bringing his hand up to rub Sam's back between his shoulder blades.

"When I four, and I said that I was going to marry you." Sam's voice is soft and it takes Dean a minute to remember what the hell Sam's talking about.

"Right, yeah," Dean says, as the memory comes back to him. His hand stills on Sammy's back as the implications of it sink in. "Have you…" He stops, takes a deep breath, and tries again. "Have you thought about… this? That long?"

"No," Sam says, laughing. "No, I've only been thinking about this since our second date with Cas. Just – remember the way dad used to talk about mom? How she was the love of his life, how she took care of him, how they always kissed goodnight? I just figured that's what you did for me. I was four, what the hell did I know?"

"You announced it at the dinner table," Dean complains. "Dad laughed, but I wanted to crawl in a hole."

"And you stopped kissing me good night after that," Sam says, talking down into Dean's skin. "That's the first time I remember feeling like I wasn't good enough for you."

It hits Dean like a lightning bolt. That's what Sam was saying with all his poking and prodding and figuring out what buttons of Dean's to push. I want to be worthy of you.

"Sammy," Dean almost whines.

"Don’t, Dean," Sam says. "Don't say it. I can't."

Can't what? Dean almost asks, but he knows Sam. He knows Sam means he can't believe Dean. Won't believe Dean. No wonder he was going to give up on it, on them, so easily. He didn't think he deserved it.

For the first time in his life, Dean wants to say the words I love you. And for the first time in his life, he thinks words wouldn't matter to Sam. No matter what Dean says, Sam won't believe it. Not if it's only said with words.

He runs his thumb over Sam's shoulder instead. Sam is precious to him, the only thing he's ever wanted or needed in this life, and it kills him that he's been so stupid as to keep Sam at arm's length because he was afraid of the depth of his own feelings. He has a lot to make up for.

"Go to sleep," he says, shifting them almost diagonal so Sam has more room to spread out.

~~~

When Dean wakes up the next morning, he's so disoriented he nearly falls out of bed. He's lying on his stomach, not a pillow in sight, practically crossways on the bed. After a second, it registers that he's alone, and he throws himself out of bed, putting on the first thing he pulls out of his dresser and going out to the main area of the bunker.

No Sam, not in the library or the kitchen, and Dean's just about to check Sam's room when the front door opens and Sam comes in, breathing hard and sweating from a run. Dean's takes a deep breath and lets it out, his heart slowing back down out of its panic mode.

Sam freezes when he sees Dean, though, and Dean's heart ticks up again. "Sammy?" he asks, and Sam stops staring at him and moves down the steps. "Dean," he answers, quietly, the way he does when he thinks Dean needs to be handled with kid gloves.

"What?" Dean asks. "What's got you all skittish?"

"I don't know," Sam says, shrugging. "Just thought maybe you'd have second thoughts."

Dean can feel the face he's making, my brother, the idiot, but he can't help it. He hadn't gone crazy this morning because he had regrets, but because Sam was gone when he woke up.

"What?" Sam asks. "It's a fair guess."

"Stop it," Dean says, getting right up in Sam's face. He puts his hands on Sam's shoulders and shakes him a little. "Stop beating yourself up. I don't know where this comes from, Sammy, but you gotta stop."

Sam nods a little, still looking down, and damn it, Dean would beat it out of Sam if he could. He decides the only way to prove it to Sam is with action, though, so he moves his hands up into Sam's hair and pulls him down for a kiss.

"This is us now, okay?"

Sam nods again, his eyes wide. Dean smirks. "If you'd stuck around, I would've shown you what morning sex is all about."

Sam rolls his eyes. "I went to sleep with a mouth coated in come," Sam says, and Dean laughs. "All I wanted when I woke up was a toothbrush."

"Sorry, Sammy," he says, bringing Sam down for another kiss. "Let me make it up to you."

They make out in the entryway for a while, Sam's hands resting on Dean's hips, apparently content to let Dean lead, for now. They've got a hell of a lot of lost time to make up for, though, so he grabs Sam's arm and starts hauling him back to the bedroom.

"Cas," Sam says, and Dean glances around, looking for him. He's standing in the doorway heading to the kitchen, frozen, and completely unreadable.

"Cas," Dean says, not sure how he feels about Cas being here. He's just finding his feet with Sam; he knows Cas is going to be part of the picture, but he needs a minute to get his equilibrium.

"Good morning," Cas says, strolling over to them, smiling as his eyes catch on Dean's grip on Sam's arm. Dean lets go like he's been burned.

"Morning, Cas," Sam says, and the smile on Sam's face is blinding.

Dean's own doubts attack him – maybe Sam really wants Cas, and he was willing to do anything to get him. The thought makes Dean sick, and he has to look away. He was right all along, and now they've done something unforgivable, and nothing will ever be the same between him and Sam, and –

"I see you worked out your issues," Cas says.

Dean laughs, because no, they've just created a whole different set of issues, and now Dean's the one that's going to mope around with a hangdog look on his face. He was right all along, he should've stuck to his guns. Sam and Cas will make a good couple.

"Yeah," Sam says, the excitement in his voice obvious. Dean turns around, scouting the exits, finding the quickest way to get out of the room.

"Dean, stop," Cas says, and Dean stops in his tracks. His skin flushes hot at the authoritative tone of Cas's voice. It's so easy to forget that Castiel was a commander in God's army, that he's used to being obeyed.

He can hear Cas coming up behind him, but it's still a surprise when Cas puts a hand on his hip, slipping it under Dean's t-shirt and sliding it up his chest. Cas hand keeps moving up, and he's pulled the neck of Dean's t-shirt over his head before Dean figures out what he's doing, and by then it's too late. Cas is smart and fast, and before Dean can get it together to protest, his arms are pulled behind him, caught in his own t-shirt.

"Sam," Cas says, and Dean can hear Sam padding up behind them. "I think Dean is having doubts."

Sam huffs out a little breath, not quite a laugh, and says, "Probably."

Cas puts his hands on Dean's forearms, tracing them down to Dean's palms, and then linking their hands together. It feels good to have something to hold onto, less trapped, more cradled. Cas crowds in behind him, his chin almost resting on Dean's shoulder.

"Is it that you don't think Sam can love you and me at the same time?" Cas asks softly, the air tickling the curl of Dean's ear.

Dean can hardly think, the echo of Cas's order keeping him frozen, while the tenderness in his voice now turns Dean's insides to mush. He can feel his legs wobble, but Sam's there in an instant, standing in front of him, solid and unyielding. He grabs Dean's waist and Dean lets some of his weight settle into Sam's huge hands, knowing Sam will catch him, unsurprised when he does.

Sam was right. He feels safe. He should listen to his little brother more often.

"I asked you a question, Dean."

A tingle zips down Dean's spine and he closes his eyes, trying to think of the question. Does he doubt Sam? Never.

"No," he says, though he's not one hundred percent sure he's got the right question in mind. He just knows that he trusts Sam.

"Then is it my love you doubt?"

"No," Dean's mouth answers before Dean can even process the question. There can be no doubt about Cas, not after all the things he's done for them.

"Hmmm," Cas says. He shifts his grip on Dean's hands, forcing Dean to lean back, his shoulders resting on Cas's chest. Dean's eyes snap open, and he's looking right up into Sam's face.

"Sam, would you please kiss your brother?"

Sam grins, his eyes skipping over to Cas and then back to Dean, and says, "Okay."

Sam squeezes Dean's hip with one hand, gently pushing him toward the other, forcing Dean to shift his weight a little. Then Sam's free hand comes up to cup Dean's face, and he sets his thumb in the middle of Dean's lower lip. Dean's thrown back to last night, to Sam's careful exploration, how he took Dean apart and pieced him back together again, and his eyes slip closed.

Sam presses down with his thumb, forcing Dean to open his mouth a little, and then he's there, taking Dean apart again, a careful exploration of Dean's mouth, all questions and seeking. There's an edge this time, though, because Dean's hands are still clenched behind his back, and he can feel Cas's breath on his neck.

Sam's hand runs down his neck as he releases Dean, and Dean chokes in a deep breath and shudders. He's had plenty of threesomes before, and more than one where he's been the center of attention, but this is the most intense by several orders of magnitude. His brain had been pretty good at switching focus, making sure neither girl felt left out, but here it's like it can't decide where to pay attention, Sam or Cas, and his whole body is pulsing with want.

Cas turns him around with a quick push and twist maneuver, and now Sam's got Dean's biceps in his hands and Dean's looking at Cas, who is examining him with intense curiosity. He leans in to set his teeth on Dean's collarbone, and he hears Sammy suck in a breath at the same time he does. "His clavicles are really sensitive," Sam says, and Dean can feel that, in the vibration of Sam's chest behind him, the way his breath stirs Dean's hair, everything.

Then Cas attacks his collarbones with single-minded determination at the same time Sam shifts one of his hands down to play with Dean's hands, the soft spot between his fingers that is going to be his weakness forever because of Sammy.

Dean lets himself lean back into his brother, breathing through the small panic attack at being unable to move, unable to give back as good as he's getting. Cas looks up when he shifts, leaning forward to kiss him, pressing him back even harder into Sam.

There's no question in Cas's kiss, no exploration or seeking. His kiss is a command, an invitation to do exactly what Cas wants before he makes Dean do what he wants anyway. Dean can feel the tentacle monster from Cas's kiss last night wrap itself around him, excitement and trepidation all mixed up and churning in his guts.

Cas ends the kiss abruptly, taking a step back from Dean and looking him and Sam up and down. "Not that I had a doubt, but you obviously are attracted to both myself and Sam, so I'm sure that's not the source of your hesitation."

Dean can't even remember what he was hesitating about; there was a moment of weakness, sure, but he's on board, ready for wherever this crazy handbasket is headed.

"So perhaps you feel like you don't deserve this," Cas says, and Dean feels caught, unable to speak because that's not right, not really, but it cuts close to something that Dean is unwilling to look at in the plain light of day. He can't think about himself right now anyway, because Sam flinched hard at Cas's words. Of course Dean didn't miss it – he figured Sam's deal out last night, but Cas's gentle, "I think it's time I show you both how wrong you are," makes the strange panicky pressure that'd been building in Dean's chest go away.

"Tell me what to do to Sam," Dean says, gripping Sam's hands in his. He wants to drive all doubt out of Sam's mind, replace every single self-deprecating idea with one of worthiness, of deserving, of belonging. The only problem is he doesn't know what the hell he's doing here, basic tab A slot B stuff. He'll do anything – he just wants someone to tell him what anything is.

Cas tilts his head, staring at Dean for a long time. "You understand everything this might entail, theoretically speaking?"

Dean shrugs. He doesn't, but he got through last night okay. He'll figure it out.

Cas doesn't frown, exactly, but he pinches his mouth tightly closed and stares at Dean some more. If he was still an angel, Dean would've had to look away by now. He holds Cas's eyes, though, because he's all-in here, and whatever this is between them, the sex is the easiest part.

Cas sighs heavily, which seems unwarranted for the situation, but before Dean can make a sarcastic remark, Cas says, "Sam?" and Dean cranes his head over his shoulder to look at his brother. "Is this acceptable? I won't be able to ask permission for everything so you will need to feel comfortable saying no to any of my orders to your brother."

Dean's heart drops. He hadn't even thought of that last night, how carefully Cas has asked for permission before doing anything to Sam. Maybe if he had asked, if they had actually talked, Sam would have said no. The thought makes him sick.

Sam squeezes Dean's hand, like he knows what Dean's thinking. "It's fine, Cas. You and Dean have permission for anything that happens in the next couple hours."

Cas purses his lips unhappily, his eyes not leaving Sam's. "Thank you, Sam. But I need to know you will speak up if you have any concerns."

Sam huffs out a short laugh, his breath stirring Dean's hair. "Not a problem. But maybe don't get too kinky this first time?"

Dean turns to look at Cas, wondering how kinky Sam thinks Cas could possibly be, and one corner of Cas's mouth goes up in a way that sets Dean's tentacle monster moving in all directions at once. "Of course, Sam, I will keep it simple this time."

Dean blinks. Suddenly he wants to watch Cas tie Sam up and do all kinds of nasty things to him, gently asking permission the whole way. He tucks the thought away for later, after they have time to figure out how this is all going to work.

Finally, Cas nods, moving forward to take Dean by the shoulders. "You can take the t-shirt off him," he tells Sam, and suddenly Dean's arms are gloriously free. He stretches them out, rolling his shoulders to settle them.

"My room," Cas says, and leads the way.

~~~

Cas's room looks a lot like the rest of the rooms in the bunker, spare and with only the essential furniture. Like Sam, he's squirreled away books in a lot of the empty space, but somehow he's managed to make the place look homey in a way Sam never has. The thought makes Dean double his resolve.

"Dean," Cas says once they are all crowded in the small space. "Take the clothes off your brother."

Dean turns around and grabs Sam's sweatshirt. "Oh, maybe I should –" Sam starts, but Dean's not taking orders from Sammy, so he lifts the hem, yanking the thing up and forcing Sam to lean forward to get out of it.

"– shower," Sam finishes.

The smell hits Dean immediately – clean sweat. He knows all Sam's sweats, fever, fear, nerves, stress – and this is the only one that doesn't make him nauseous. This one is just Sam, healthy and strong and weirdly into running for fun.

"S'fine, Sammy," Dean says, crowding in closer to prove it. He pushes Sam's sweat pants and boxers down, stymied for half a second when he gets to Sam's shoes. He just hunkers down and unties the laces of the sneakers, giving Sam a push that lands his ass on the bed so he can strip everything off Sam's legs and feet.

Mission accomplished. He turns to Cas, waiting for the next command, and is surprised to see Cas is naked too, standing in the middle of the room with his clothes in a crumpled heap next to him. "Sam," Cas says, looking at Sam so intently that Dean turns around to look at him too. "Would you mind returning the favor?"

Sam grins and nods, sitting forward on the bed and reaching for Dean's belt loops. He pulls the same trick Dean did, getting Dean's jeans and shorts down his legs and pulling him down on the bed to strip it all off into a pile.

Cas comes over to cup Sam's cheek, leaning in for a kiss. "May I position you?"

"Sure," Sam says agreeably, and Dean scrambles to get out of the way as Cas takes Sam's arm and gently guides Sam to the head of the bed, positioning a pillow behind Sam's back so he's comfortable sitting up, his long legs out in front of him. He tries to cross them at the ankles, but Cas blocks his knee, and he leaves them where they are.

"Dean," Cas says, and Dean suppresses a shudder, "straddle him."

Dean climbs right on, and the gut-deep satisfaction at following one of Cas's orders fades pretty quickly when he realizes he's naked, sitting on his brother's lap, their dicks inches from each other. He hopes Cas picks up the pace, because the seconds between obeying one order and receiving the next are going to kill him with embarrassment.

As if to say, things can always get worse, Cas straddles Sam, too, right behind Dean, so Dean can't see him, only feel his body heat in the space behind him.

Dean swallows and looks down at Sam's chest, waiting for another order.

"Dean, look at your brother."

Dean's head snaps up and he meets Sam's gaze, and immediately he's pissed at himself for having doubts, because they're reflected right there in Sam's eyes. "No," he says, reaching out and putting his hand on Sam's cheek. "None of that, Sammy."

Sam frowns, his mouth twisting like he's keeping words in, but he finally nods. Dean nods too, a simple okay to make Sammy feel better.

"Show him how beautiful he is," Cas says, and while Dean can get on board with the sentiment, the order is a bit vague.

"I…" Dean says, holding Sam's eyes because he needs to know Dean wants to do this, he just… "I don't know how."

Cas leans forward, his chest now on Dean's back, and sets a hand on top of Dean's shoulder. Dean glances down at it, wondering what the hell it means, until Cas runs his hand down the length of Dean's arm, taking Dean's hand and bringing it back to Sam's face.

Sam closes his eyes and tilts his cheek up into Dean's palm, and Dean's heart aches a little for how much Sam needs this reassurance. He's failed Sam in a fundamental way, and it will kill him until he wipes that look off Sam's face permanently.

Cas shifts Dean's hand until his fingers are tangled in Sam's hair and says, "There. Look. Isn't he beautiful?"

Sam's eyes are still closed, so Dean takes the time to examine his little brother's face, wondering how the chubby little curly-haired kid turned into this hulking giant of a man. He remembers all the stages in-between, and he just never would've guessed Sam would turn into… this.

"No," Cas says, removing Dean's hand from Sam's face and replacing it with his own. He runs his fingers through Sam's hair once, coming back to cradle Sam's jaw and run a thumb along his cheekbone. "This isn't just your brother, Dean. He's not just the boy that you raised. He's a person – a man. And he is beautiful. You need to see that – and so does he. Look."

Dean's never really been that picky about his women; he likes them, their hair and their skin and their breasts. They are just generally aesthetically pleasing. Trying to think about Sam like that is making his brain hurt. He looks at the mop of hair, wondering why Sam's kept it long all this time. As an adult, he's favored long hair, and Dean puts his hand in it, brushing it back from Sam's face. He looks more closely at the planes of Sam's face, his jaw and cheekbones, the square lines. Cas's hand falls away and Dean replaces it with his own, tracing Sam's features with his thumb.

Sam sucks in a wet breath and his forehead wrinkles up in a look Dean knows too well. "Shh, Sammy," Dean says, smoothing the lines out. "It's okay." And that is what Dean loves, what makes Sam beautiful – when Dean tells him it's going to be okay, he relaxes, trusting that Dean will take care of him.

Suddenly Dean gets it. He can make Sam nervous or scared or relaxed. He can make him smile or frown or laugh. Sam is his, and he can get these things out of Sam with simple, practiced ease. He brings his other hand up to Sam's face, his thumbs mirroring each other as they trace Sam's skin.

"Yes," Cas says, and there's an odd breathy quality to his voice that Dean has never heard before. Sam either, as the little square of curiosity wrinkles up on his forehead again. "Kiss him, show him you want him more than anything else in the world."

That's the easiest order so far, and Dean leans down to put his mouth on his brother's, tilting Sam's head back to give him room to work. Sam responds to the kiss, tongue seeking out Dean's and eventually wrestling for control, and Dean can't help smiling when Sam's hands come up to his waist and clench the muscles there.

"That's good, Dean," Cas says, and Dean can feel the weight of his hand on the back of his neck. "Now worship the rest of him."

One of Dean's hands had already slid down Sam's neck, resting softly on his collarbone. Dean uses the other to ease out of the kiss, cradling Sam's jaw as he pulls away. He looks down at Sam, whose eyes flutter open as Dean breaks away, and finally, Dean sees it. Sam isn't just someone he knows inside and out, someone he raised and took care of. Sam has beautiful hazel eyes, a long graceful neck, miles of skin that's begging to be explored. Sam is hot. Sam is gorgeous and fuckable, and everything Dean has ever wanted in his bed, including, or maybe especially, someone Dean loves more than anyone else in the world.

He takes Sam's chin in hand and gently turns his head to the side, making the tendon on his neck stand out. He's still not sure if Sam's skittishness about his neck is discomfort or sensitivity, but he's got Cas watching out now, so he's going to go for it and trust Cas to tell him to back off if he needs to. He bites the tendon gently, noting Sam sucking in a breath. He keeps going, tiny little bites and licks in between, listening intently as Sam's breath gets more ragged.

He had forgotten about Cas's hand on his neck, but now it shifts, a long swipe down Dean's spine and back up, coming to rest on his neck. "Lower, Dean," Cas says, and Dean moves to Sam's shoulders.

Sam's always broader than Dean thinks, because he's so skinny at the waist. His shoulders are huge, though, and Dean traces his hand over Sam's left collarbone and brings his mouth down on the ball of Sam's right shoulder. Sam's skin is salty and tastes weirdly good, but Dean can't linger because Cas is pressing on his neck and saying, "Lower."

He's thankful for Cas's guidance, or whatever it is, because it's keeping him from thinking, but he already knows one of Sam's weaknesses, and he hopes Cas lets him hang around and play with Sam's nipples for a while. He shifts to take one in his mouth, bringing his thumb to the other, pleased with Sam's choked-off "Dean!" and Cas's slight jump at the name.

Cas lets him stay for a while, probably because Sam's squirming uncontrollably – or, well, as much as he can under the weight of two guys. Dean's currently sitting on him mid-thigh, and Cas behind that, so there isn't really anywhere Sam can go. Sam's dick is perking up, though, bobbing upward with every swipe of Dean's tongue, so strongly when he pinches Sam's left nipple that it hits Dean's stomach. Dean grins around the nipple he's got in his mouth and puts it between his teeth, biting down just a little.

Sam moans, his head tilting back and his shoulders lifting off the bed. Apparently Cas likes that, because Dean is rewarded with Cas's fingers curling around his neck and giving a gentle squeeze. Dean wants to keep going because he's pretty sure he could get Sam to beg, but Cas is pulling him down and saying, "Lower," so making Sammy beg is probably off the menu for tonight. Dean's going to spend hours doing it some other day, though, because the idea of Sam begging has shot to the top of his fantasy list.

There's a surprisingly long way between Sam's nipples and his dick, but while Dean pays attention to Sam's reactions – and the trembling stomach muscles are something he's saving for later – he knows his intended endpoint, and he's not sure if he's excited or nervous for Sam to be on the receiving end of his first blowjob. If it sucks, it'll be ammunition for teasing forever. If it's amazing, though, it'll be bragging rights forever, and Dean's willing to take that risk.

He takes just the head of Sam's dick into his mouth, swiping his tongue around and over it, tasting the pre-come Sam's been leaking. Salty, slippery. Not too bad. Dean can deal with that. Sam groans a little and tries to shift his legs, still under Dean and Cas, and his knee comes up into Dean's stomach, softly, but uncomfortably enough that Dean doesn't want to risk any flailing that might happen.

Cas is on top of it, though, because he asks if Sam is okay with Dean being between his legs, and they scramble around to give Dean room to work and free up Sam's legs. Dean sets his mind on the blowjob, his one and only goal to not hit his gag reflex. From his own experience, blowjobs are pretty much automatically hot – except if the girl gags or throws up.

Dean freezes for a second as he thinks of himself as the girl in this situation, and then what else that might entail, but before he can go too far down that road, Cas's hands are trailing soothingly over his back, coming down to rest on his hipbones, and pulling his hips away from his brother so his back isn't hunched over. He's grateful for that, because his hands were holding himself up, and now that they're free, he uses one to press Sam's thigh up – which makes Sam breathe out a ragged breath – and wraps the other around the base of Sam's dick, which pretty much guarantees he won't hit Dean's gag reflex, despite the fact that he's hung like a horse.

It's not unexpected, Dean's well-endowed himself and Sammy's taller than him by four inches, but it is a little intimidating thinking about all of that fitting into his mouth somehow.

Dean risks a look up at Sam's face to see if his blowjob is working, and Sam is staring down at him intently, his eyes wide and dilated. Dean holds them and goes down on Sam as far as he can and Sam looks even hungrier, his tongue flicking out to wet his lips. Dean would smile but his mouth is otherwise occupied, so he goes back to work, sure he's going to have blowjob bragging rights for a little while at least.

He's not sure when Cas left the bed; he's been preoccupied with the whole blowjob thing, but usually he's more on top of things than that. He notices when Cas comes back, though, the dip of the bed behind him causing him to wobble just a bit. He's too far gone to really notice, though, because it turns out he really likes giving blowjobs. He's a little disappointed he hadn't figured this out before, but there's a real power trip involved in making Sam whimper or moan or say his name softly. He likes the texture of it in his mouth, too, the silky feel of the skin, the firmness of the muscle under his tongue.

"Stop," Cas orders, and Dean does it without even thinking, his stomach suddenly doing somersaults. He's halfway through a stroke, Sam's dick half in and half out of his mouth. He looks up at Sam again, and his eyes are huge and focused over Dean's left shoulder, presumably on Cas.

Cas's hand comes back to Dean's neck for half a second, a reassuring squeeze that calms Dean's nerves just a little bit. Then Cas is everywhere, draped along Dean's back, his hands running up and down Dean's skin, almost like he's petting. After a moment, he starts positioning Dean like he had positioned Sam earlier, with gentle hands and soft murmurs.

It's not that big a shift, just pulling Dean back and up a little, so he's basically on all fours, which has the unfortunate side effect of making him take his hands off Sam and put them on the bed for balance.

"Sam," Cas asks, and Dean chances a look up again, surprised to see a look of hunger on Sam's face, "if you would like, you can continue to use Dean's mouth while I get him ready."

Dean flushes all over at the suggestion, his skin sweltering hot and then cold enough to make him shiver. Sam meets his eyes, and Dean wants to nod, but he knows he doesn't really get a say, here. Cas has made that decision for him. He just meets Sam's eyes steadily, letting him know it's okay.

"Dean," Sam says softly, rocking his hips up just a little bit, pushing his dick just a little further into Dean's mouth. Dean moans, jesus, this is hotter than anything he's ever done with any girl, and when Sam pulls out and does it again, Dean's eyes roll back into his head. The feel of Sam's dick in his mouth, gently sliding in and out without any say-so from Dean is…

His brain is pretty fried from Sam fucking his face, but not so much that he misses Cas settle behind him on the bed, gently pushing his knees a little farther apart. He knew, in a sort of nebulous way, that someone's dick was going to go in him at some point, but Cas's hand tracing a line from his balls to his asshole brings it into sharp focus. Panic starts to well up, but Cas's other hand grips his thigh and he says, "Calm yourself, Dean. I will take care of you."

It's not really an order, but Dean trusts Cas, and he makes a conscious effort to relax. "Concentrate on Sam," Cas says, and that is an order, and an easy one for Dean to follow. He looks up at his brother, who'd stopped moving his hips when Cas spoke, and inclines his head just a little.

Sam groans and his hands twist in the sheets as he rocks himself back into Dean's mouth. "Fuck, Dean, your mouth," Sam says, the first thing other than Dean's name he's said in the last half hour. Dean's not sure if he's happy to be the reason for it or pissed that Sam's more coherent when he's using Dean's mouth.

Dean tightens his lips a little on the next stroke, creating more pressure as Sam rocks up, and Sam groans Dean's name out, which is a much better.

It doesn't last long, though, because Cas has gotten his hands on Dean's dick, which had become something of an afterthought until Cas touched him. Now it is dying for attention, and Cas's strokes are irregular and erratic, thoughtless, while his other hand determinedly palms Dean's balls and strokes his taint. It's the rhythm of that hand that makes Dean moan around Sam's dick, though, sensations building inside him like he's never felt before, threatening to engulf him.

He can't concentrate on it for long, though, because Sam's still pushing in and out, his eyes locked on Dean's mouth, and Dean's so smug he almost misses when Cas puts a finger in him the first time. Almost. It's slippery, and the softest breach, an extension of the stroking he was doing on Dean's taint, so it just feels like more of that building sensation.

Dean stays like that, suspended, holding himself still and letting Sam and Cas push their way inside his body and going with the rising tide of the sensation as much as he can until he can't wait anymore, he needs more. He moans around Sammy's dick, desperate for something he can't even name.

"Sam, he's ready," Cas says, and Dean understands they are words, but he can't piece together meaning out of them. He just knows he needs something and he hopes Cas has figured out what it is because he's too far gone to even figure it out for himself.

Sam pulls his dick out of Dean's mouth and he chases after it until Cas pulls back firmly on his hips. "No," Cas says, and Dean goes rigidly still, order resonating within the feeling that's taken over his whole body and making him even more desperate.

Cas makes him wait, watching as Cas deftly puts a condom on his brother and makes Sam's back arch when he takes a handful of lube and pumps Sam's dick a few times to spread it all around.

"Straddle your brother, Dean," Cas says, and Dean scoots forward without thinking, his mouth suddenly within reach of Sam's again, his desperation boiling up and out of him until he leans forward to kiss Sam. Sam seems surprised at first, but rolls with it, his tongue fucking into Dean's mouth like his dick just had, and Dean moans around it.

Sam's hands travel down his ribcage, gentle and soothing, until they lock onto his hips, and Cas says, "Sit back, Dean," which is the first order Dean's a little unhappy with. He likes kissing Sam, and that means no more kissing.

He does what he's told, though, his body on automatic pilot now, seeking its own pleasure, and Cas's hands come around him, one haphazardly stroking his dick and the other returning to his taint, rubbing rhythmically again. Dean's looking down at Sam, who is apparently watching Cas's hands with rabid concentration, his forehead creased with the effort.

Then Sam's hands are guiding him down, Dean's legs spreading wider with the pressure, and it's not Cas's hand under him anymore, it's something blunt and huge nudging at his hole. Oh fuck, he realizes, it's Sam, and Dean's eyes close automatically as his body shifts to take Sam in. It's slow going – Sam really is gigantic – and Cas's hands are still between them, slick and implacable, making that building sensation take over as Dean's body adjusts to Sam's dick inside him, inch by slow inch.

"Open your eyes, Dean," Cas says, and when he does, Dean realizes his head has tipped back so he's staring at the ceiling. He lifts it to look at Sam, whose own eyes are squeezed tightly shut. His hands are like a vise on Dean's hips, and Dean's brain comes back online enough to really get a full picture of what's going on here, his brother is fucking him, restraining himself with a ridiculous amount of self-control, but that's exactly the last thing Dean wants.

He knows, somehow, that the sensation building inside him has to do with what Cas was doing before and now is tied to Sam being inside him, so he wills his legs to start working again, and with a mighty heave, he lifts himself up a few inches and presses back down, settling Sam's dick further inside than the last time.

"Fuck," Sam says, "Dean, Dean!" And that makes everything in Dean's body inside snap to, the nebulous sensation suddenly resonating on a high frequency, ready for something, something Dean doesn't understand but knows is good – so good. He lifts himself up and does it again, knowing that he's waiting for something, and if he pushes Sam just a little more, he's going to get it.

"Dean," Sam whines, his hands on Dean's hips tight enough to bruise.

"Come on, Sammy," Dean says, lifting and pressing down again, "come on."

Sam snarls, his eyes still clenched tightly shut, and his grip on Dean's hips shifts slightly, and then Sam is pressing up into him, slow and steady for another inch or two. Then Sam is pulling out and Dean wants to protest, but he's only just drawn breath and Sam's pushing up again. Each time Sam slides out, Dean's body screams no until Sam pushes back in, and then it's the tidal wave again, that building sensation that Dean thinks is going to overwhelm him but just sits at the crest, building higher and higher and never crashing into him.

"Someday," Cas says, and Dean starts. He'd almost forgotten Cas was there. "We're going to see if you can come just from this."

Words are beyond Dean; he has no idea what Cas means. Cas's hands are suddenly all over him, though, smoothing along his skin, one going up to press on his chest, pushing him back into Cas and another heading down toward his dick, which is as hard as Dean can ever remember, but has been nearly forgotten in all this. It only takes a few strokes to put a sharp edge on the building feeling, and he knows he's going to come.

"Dean," Sam says, and Dean lifts his head from Cas's shoulder – when had he even let it fall back again? – to look at his brother. Another feeling rises up in his chest, not entirely comfortable, but Cas strokes him a few more times, and he comes, making a mess of his brother with white streaks of come all over him and the bed.

"Dean," Sam says again, his eyes glancing up to meet Dean's and then slamming shut as his orgasm takes over, a strange sensation where Sam's inside him. Seeing Sam with his head tipped back in obvious pleasure is surreal but perfect. He knows everything in his life has just shifted sideways but he can't seem to care.

He feels heavy all of a sudden, the momentum of raising his head off Cas's shoulder shifting until he's falling forward, thinking he should do something about that, but not being able to lift a finger to stop himself.

"Whoa," Sam says, getting his arms up just in time to prevent Dean from headbutting him pretty hard.

Sammy, Dean tries to say, but it comes out more like a muffled, "mmm" and then Dean's gone, into the black before his body hits the bed.

~~~

~~~

When Dean comes to, he's lying on his side with his back to someone warm. He rolls over and throws and arm over the person – Sam, it turns out – and nestles his head into the pillows as he falls back asleep.

~~~

Dean tries to swat at the annoying person shaking him, but his arms are still heavy and he feels like he's been asleep for a week. "Get off," he mumbles, but the shaking just gets more insistent.

"Dean, wake up, come on."

"What?" Dean asks, keeping his eyes shut. Maybe if he doesn't open them Sam'll let him go back to sleep.

"Cas is gone."

Dean blinks his eyes open, squinting at the fluorescent light coming in from the hallway. What he wouldn't do for an honest-to-god window in this place.

"Cas is gone," Dean says, hoping that repeating the words will somehow imbue them with meaning.

"Yeah," Sam says, impatient now. Dean's usually the morning person, up and at 'em and kicking Sam's butt out of bed. Dean glances around to see if he can find a clock somewhere in the gloom. There's one sitting on the desk that says 11:27. Dean has no idea if it's am or pm.

Dean rolls onto his back and rubs his eyes and tries to remember why Cas being gone is a bad thing. He looks over at Sam, naked and only barely managing any modesty under the sheet Dean twisted up when he rolled over. Dean sits up and his ass twinges – and that's when everything falls on him like a ton of bricks.

Holy hell, they had sex. And not just sex, but really fucking crazy sex. He's had a lot of sex, and even the bad stuff was good, and the good stuff was pretty awesome, and there were a couple of seriously amazing nights, putting him spitting distance of nirvana. Sex with Sam and Cas was one of those, and not only was it life-altering, there wasn't anything in the whole night he'd ever thought about before, much less done.

Jesus.

And now Cas is gone. As Dean traces the shape of the night in his mind, he comes to a cliff at the end of it. "Did I pass out?" he asks, finally.

"I think so," Sam says. "Scared the crap out me, but Cas apparently expected it."

No wonder he feels so out of it. He was pretty wasted by the end there, and then… nothing.

"Cas says it has something to do with overstimulation."

Dean nods slowly. He remembers the feeling, rising and rising and rising and just hanging there. "And now he's gone. Gone from the bunker, gone?"

"Dunno," Sam says. "I don't think he even slept. You zonked out and I was underneath you, so I napped, and when I woke up, he was gone. He cleaned us up first, though," he says, and Dean's dealt with enough dried come in his life to be grateful for that.

Dean turns the night over in his head. It's like a snow globe; a perfectly formed crystalline memory, everything etched in glass. "Did he come?" When Sam shrugs, Dean asks, "Did either of us even… do… anything to him?"

Sam pinks up and shakes his head. "Shit," Dean says. What ungrateful bastards they are.

"Yeah," Sam says. "I feel like an asshole, too."

~~~

Dean's a little slow in moving, and he has to walk carefully – his ass is pretty sore, despite the copious amounts of lube that's coating him from his hips to half-way down his inner thighs – but they make it out to the main area, hoping Cas just left them because they were snoring like buzzsaws.

No luck, and Cas isn't in the kitchen, either, or in any of the other bedrooms, or the file or storage rooms. When Sam checks out the garage (as Dean slowly makes his way to the shower, because Cas or no Cas, he has got to get himself clean), he comes back to report that Cas's pimp-mobile is gone.

Dean puts his head under the spray and tries to ignore the knot that's tightening in his chest.

Sam joins him in the shower and it's not as weird as he thought it might be. It's not innocent like before this all started, but it's not uncomfortable, and Dean only flinches a little when Sam soaps up his back.

They eat when they finish the shower, the silence hanging heavy over the bunker. Dean hopes it's just because Cas left and not because of things between them. He can only handle one crisis at a time, and Cas's disappearance is more than enough for him right now.

"Should we go out and look for him?" Sam eventually asks, and Dean has been avoiding that question for the last couple of hours.

Dean shakes his head. If Cas needed alone time, they have to give him his space. If he's really running, he won't get far – he hasn't gotten proficient at technology yet and Dean's had the GPS locator on in his phone for years.

"We can't just sit here," Sam says. "What if…" He trails off, like he can't say the words out loud.

…we fucked up and Cas left forever, Dean silently finishes for him. The knot in his chest is starting to tie up all his internal organs and Dean really hopes Cas gets back before he turns into a gigantic pretzel. "Give him a day," Dean says. "After that, we hunt him down."

Sam stares down into his coffee mug and sighs. "Fine. One day." He pushes up from the table and deposits his mug into the sink. "I'm going for a run."

Dean still hasn't figured out if it's the middle of the day or the middle of the night, but Sam just got back from a run, and it can't be healthy to run that much. "Didn't you just run a couple of hours ago?" he asks, taking a stab in the dark.

"So?" Sam asks, and leaves Dean to clean up the kitchen.

~~~

Dean's just finished drying the dishes when Sam comes back, with Cas in tow. And Cas has a pie. A steaming, freshly-baked cherry pie. Dean stares at it.

"This is for you," Cas says, and hands the pie to Dean. Sam looks fit to be tied, so Dean's sure there's a story here, but he's not going to turn down warm pie.

"Awesome," Dean says, and puts on a pot of coffee. "Who wants some?"

Sam's never really had a sweet tooth and Cas just takes a sliver, but that doesn't slow Dean down. He slices up a good-sized piece and puts it on a plate, rummaging through the freezer for the vanilla bean ice cream that's been in there for a month or two. He has to skim the ice off the top, but he gets a full scoop on top of his pie and watches it melt as he waits for the coffee to finish.

There is nothing like freshly-baked pie, and Dean can count on one hand the number of times he's been lucky enough to get it. He'll take just about any version of pie he can get on the road, but when he walks into a diner and can smell the pie – that's heaven right there.

Cas and Sam have settled in at the table, Cas with his pie and a glass of milk, and Sam next to him with a mug of coffee and that troubled look on his face. For once, Dean's not worried. He hasn't thought through everything with the three of them, but it feels right – and he knows enough to trust his instincts on this one. As he fixes up his coffee, he debates how long it will take for him to jolly Sam out of his mood, and then decides he should probably man up and just let him talk it out. He takes his pie and sits down across from them, determined to at least get a couple of bites of warm cherry pie in before the emotional turmoil begins.

He digs in with relish, the cherries tart and sweet and awesome, and Cas grinning at him with a smile that Dean can't ever remember seeing on his face, sweet and open and just plain happy. The knot that was in his chest untangles itself but leaves some kind of pressure there, a dull ache that can't decide if it's supposed to be good or bad.

"So," Dean says around his third mouthful, glancing at Sam's sourpuss, "what's the story?"

"What?" Sam asks, offended-like, as if Dean's question was simply uncalled for.

"What, what?" Dean asks. "You look like someone pissed in your Cheerios."

"No I don't," Sam says obstinately, and hunches over the table, staring down at it hard.

Dean takes another bite of the pie because he has a bad feeling he's not going to be able to finish it while it's warm. "You think Cas brought me pie."

Sam rolls his eyes. "Cas did bring you pie."

"Well, yeah, but no – you think it means he likes me better than you."

Cas's eyes go hugely wide and he turns to Sam, reaching out to put a hand on Sam's arm. "Why would you think that?" he asks. "The pie is for everyone," he says, and then pulls his hand back like he only just realized Sam doesn't have any. "You don't like pie? Dean assured me that everyone likes pie."

Sam sighs dramatically, sounding like he did when he was twelve and he couldn't stand wearing Dean's hand-me-downs. "Of course Dean would say that. He doesn't understand that not everyone loves pie as much as he does."

"Well, what exactly was he going to bring you, anyway?" Dean asks. "Organic spinach? Beets?"

Sam starts to frown, the beginning of an epic bitchface, when Cas asks, "Beets?" It stalls the bitchface and Dean can just tell Sam's trying not to laugh, trying to hang onto his anger, for whatever reason.

"Look, Cas, it's – never mind that. And Dean, it's not about the pie. Cas got Mrs. Boettcher to bake that pie for him."

It takes Dean a second, but then he remembers – Mrs. Boettcher is the owner of the little diner in town. "Why would she do that?" he asks, suddenly fearful. They know him at the diner – and Sam too. If Cas said something –

"Because he told her he has a boyfriend now."

Dean blinks. "What?"

"Yeah," Sam says. "I got there just as they were picking out the filling – cherry on Mrs. Boettcher's insistence. She thought it was funny."

Dean sets down his fork. "Cas, what did you tell Mrs. Boettcher?"

Cas looks at him, and then Sam, and says, "That I was in a relationship and we had consummated it for the first time."

Sam still hasn't lost the hunched over look and Dean thought he had finally gotten rid of that, so he sets aside the idea of the owner of his favorite restaurant making cherry pie for Cas losing his gay virginity and meets Sam's eyes. "What, Sam," he says, not able to keep he exasperation out of his voice. "What is going on with you?"

Sam looks up at him mulishly. "She assumed he meant you, Dean."

There's something else in that statement that Dean's just too emotionally wiped out to get; he's been on a rollercoaster the last eighteen hours or so, and he's sick of trying to guess what the hell is going on. "So?"

Sam sighs. "So, everyone assumed Cas was going to get together with you, Dean. I did too – which is the reason I agreed to this weird thing in the first place. I assumed Cas was just using me to get to you, because he knew I'd agree."

"Sam," Cas says, aghast, his eyes wide in shock. "I would never –"

"Wait," Dean interrupts, because he knows Cas would never and Cas told him as much. "You agreed because you thought Cas and I…?"

"Yeah," Sam says. "And it just… things got out of hand."

"Oh, for fuck's sake," Dean says, shoving the pie away from him. "I only agreed because I thought you wanted Cas and wanted the chance… I don't know. To get married and have kids. Or a dog. Or whatever. I thought I'd be able to back out gracefully after you two figured it all out."

"What?" Sam asks. "Why would you think I wanted that?"

Cas makes a small sound in the back of his throat. They both turn to look at him. "Cas?" Sam asks. Cas looks down at the table, scraping a fork across his plate.

"Cas," Dean says, catching his eyes and waiting a beat to make sure Cas understands this is important. "Why did you ask us out like that?"

Cas smiles sadly, pushing away from the table and getting up. "You belong to each other," he says, and Dean remembers him saying something similar when they started this whole misadventure. "There is no way to separate you – and to be involved with one of you would mean the other would be unhappy in some fundamental way."

"Wait," Dean says, at the same time Sam says, "No, Cas, it's not –"

Cas dismisses their arguments, waving a hand to shut them up as he continues. "I had considered that one possible outcome was that you would come to this place in your relationship and I might not –"

Sam's out of his seat in half a second, pulling Cas up and kissing him before he can get more words out, which is good because Dean's stomach was falling so fast he practically got motion sick, and if Cas had finished that thought, he was likely going to puke.

Dean stands up slowly, watching Sam kiss Cas, soothing away the rigidness that Dean hadn't even noticed Cas was carrying. He comes around behind Cas, slotting himself in all along Cas's back, and pulls Sam closer.

"You're part of this," Dean whispers against Cas's neck, just loudly enough for Sam to hear, too. "No more of this two against one thing – we're all in it together."

Cas's mouth may be too busy to answer, but his right hand fumbles backwards until it finds Dean's and locks their fingers together, pulling their hands forward to slip under Sam's shirt. His other hand has found Sam's fingers, and Dean pushes forward a little into their combined hands on his shoulder.

Dean goes along with everything at first – at least until Cas pulls his hands away, and then Dean realizes he's doing it again. He's focusing them on each other and this time, Dean won't have that.

He gives Sammy's waist a squeeze and pulls his hand away, putting it on Cas's waist instead. Cas is wearing a t-shirt under a sweater, so it's easy to slip his hand underneath, to trace it up Cas's belly and chest, and listen for the intake of breath that means he's gotten to Cas for a change, that this is something Cas actually wants, that he wasn't just fucking with them.

Sam catches on, his hand leaving Dean's shoulder to yank on Cas's clothes, the shirt and sweater rising up along Dean's arm. He uses his elbow to help lever it off, and Cas is half-naked in front of them in roughly three seconds.

He's never really thought about it much, but when he has, he's expected Sam to be an awkward sort of lover, shy and unsure of himself. He doesn't have any idea why that is – just thinking back to Jess and Madison, the boy must've had some game.

Realizing Sam is a confident, self-assured lover is never more evident than when he drops to his knees and unzips Cas's jeans, pushing them down Cas's hips as he works Cas's dick out of them and swallows him down, all no-nonsense straightforwardness.

"Sam," Cas says, reeling backward into Dean. Dean uses the arm that still across Cas's chest to pull himself flush with Cas, using his body to support Cas's own. The hand that's still mostly free decides to get in on the action with Sam and he hooks his fingers into the back of Cas's pants and tries to pull them down over Cas's ass. It doesn't work – the way Cas is standing is preventing it and shifting Cas would disrupt Sam, so Dean tries putting his hand inside Cas's waistband, fingers itching to use some of Cas's own tricks against him.

It's really too tight for Dean to get his hand in there, so he slides his hands inside the front of Cas's jeans instead, holding the flaps open the Sam doesn't have to do it. He runs his thumb just inside Cas's hip bone, smiling against Cas's shoulder when Cas can't help shuddering.

Dean traces his other hand up Cas's body, curious to see if all of his skin is that sensitive. Cas chokes in a breath, pressing his shoulders back against Dean's chest and his fingers into Sam's hair. Dean's pretty happy with that reaction, so he takes some time to trace his hands all over Cas's skin, reveling in the way Cas shifts into and away from it, like he craves the touch but then it becomes too overwhelming.

Sam, it seems, is a natural-born cocksucker. That, or his mouth is just as big as the rest of him. Cas is shuddering too hard to be able to take advantage of it though, so Dean's going to be the one that gets to find out if his brother can deepthroat. Dean can't wait.

Cas can barely catch a breath, taking sips of air between raspy exhales. "Dean," he gets out on one breath, "Sam, I'm–" And then Cas's whole body is shaking and an instant later, he goes completely boneless.

Dean's arms are wound around Cas, and Sam's broad hands are on the cradle of his hips, so Cas doesn't fall, but he's definitely not holding his own weight anymore. Sam glances up, meeting Dean's eyes, and swallows. Dean blinks at that, his stomach doing something complicated while Sam tucks Cas back into his pants.

Someday, tomorrow maybe, he's going to ask Cas where he learned all this stuff. But for now, when Cas says, "I want both of you in my bed," Dean gets right on board. He doesn't care if it's for another round or a nap, wherever those two go, Dean plans to follow.

~~~

It turns out that Cas has an encyclopedic knowledge of human sexuality. He tells them that as an angel, it had seemed like it was all nothing more than desperation to procreate, the simple needs of the physical body driving the desire. Now that he's human, he says, he understands the place of the soul and the mind and the beauty of sharing the most intimate parts of yourself, and learning every detail of the body of someone you love.

Dean doesn't laugh, which he's discovered is his automatic reaction to Cas when he gets either philosophical or sappy. He doesn't laugh because Sam likes it when Cas gets philosophical and sappy, and Dean is trying to be better about letting Sam have what he wants. At least now that he knows what Sam wants includes him and hanging around until they're old and cranky together.

It's taken them half a year, but they've worked out all the little kinks, and now they run like a well-oiled machine. It hasn't been a hardship, figuring out how to fit Cas into their lives, but every single thing was a new adventure. Little things like cleaning rotations and how to fold the towels and big things like hunting research and how to sleep with all three of them on the bed.

They're almost always ganging up two on one, whether it's Dean teaching Cas every one of Sam's pet peeves, Sam tricking Dean into wearing a costume for handing out treats because Cas loves Halloween, or Cas recruiting Sam to hold Dean down while he fucks him slow with a huge dildo.

They make it work, though, and celebrate the little victories. Cas figures out what he likes to wear, eat, and do when they're not on a case. Sam learns to ask for what he wants, and not apologize for it. Dean? Well, Dean mostly thanks his lucky stars.

He'll remember the actual date of their third anniversary, and to celebrate, he'll get them a dog. Mostly it'll be for Sam, but Cas will obviously love the dog too, and if the thing likes to sit on the couch with Dean during Dr. Sexy, Dean won't mind.

Sam is going to buy them rings for their fifth anniversary, and Cas will say an Enochian prayer over them. Dean will vow to never take his off, though circumstance will make him a liar when he gets it cut off in the hospital three years later – a broken hand that makes his fingers swell up painfully. Sam will buy him a new ring, engraved with a healing spell, and Cas will kiss all Dean's fingers before he slides it on.

They'll move around each other, always together but constantly shifting. It'll never be boring, and when they retire together on a lake in Minnesota, handing the bunker over to Krissy and her crew, Dean will just be thankful the three of them made it together and mostly whole. Sure, Dean's knees are going to creak and make him limp before it rains, and Sam's back will be prone to giving out. Cas will only have sight in one eye – and that only with a pair of surprisingly fashionable eyeglasses that Dean will swear make Sam all hot and bothered. But as Dean sits on the porch, watching Cas splash Sam as he comes in out of the lake, long-limbed with his completely out-of-control hair dripping down his back, Dean will think… maybe they've finally figured it all out.

For today, though, he just smiles, runs a hand possessively over Sam's ass, ignoring Sam trying to swat him away – Sam has taken the whole napping after sex thing seriously – and untangles himself from Cas so he can get up and make breakfast.

~~~

The End.