Chapter 1: Assorted Cursing
Sam Winchester liked school. He liked the hallways and he liked the classes and he liked the tests. He didn’t care whether that made him a freak, or a weirdo, or a nerd, but he liked school. Dean had done a lot to get him there. Sam had done a lot to get himself there. He respected that effort. He didn’t take that for granted. He got good grades and his teachers liked him. There was very little that could make school uncomfortable.
Except for Gabriel Novak. Gabriel Novak was Sam’s antithesis, with his perfect blond hair and his brand new uniform. He took everything for granted. Friends, grades and wealth all fell under the umbrella of things that he “deserved”. It had only been a few weeks since Sam started at St. John’s Boys High, but they had already developed a deep-running dislike for each other. Stupid, snobbish Gabriel had already picked Sam as his target of choice.
Sam looked down at his biology textbook, his eyes tracking the slurpee as it fell onto the floor. He was going to take it in his stride. He was going to take it all in his stride.
‘Oops! Sorry, kiddo. Guess you’ll have to buy a new one.’ Gabriel trilled, his voice as sickly sweet as the sticky substance covering Sam’s hands.
Sam glared at him. They both knew Sam was here on scholarship. They both knew he couldn’t afford it otherwise. They both knew he didn’t have the money for a new textbook. Sam just prayed that Gabriel didn’t have the guts to say it out loud.
‘Oh, wait, you can’t.’
There was a satisfying crack as Sam’s fist connected with Gabriel’s nose.
The shorter boy stepped back, reeled, clutched his nose with one hand and swung up at Sam’s jaw with the other.
Sam didn’t take the pause that Gabriel did, knocking the boy down in a matter of seconds. By now, a crowd was gathering. They hissed and cheered, egging the boys on.
So much for the civility of private schooling, Sam thought to himself.
As Sam pounded Gabriel again and again, the shouts of anger and discouragement rang in his ears but he didn’t care. Someone was calling his name, telling him to stop, but the voice was drowned out in the sea of other students. Suddenly someone had their arms around his chest, pinning his fists to his sides. They wrenched him off Gabriel’s tiny, bleeding form until he could get up. Sam’s face was burning; he could feel the blood pounding in his veins. As soon as the pressure was released, he spun around, ready for whoever got between him and Gabriel.
He stared into the cool, calm gaze of Miss Milton, the St. John’s principal.
‘Samuel Winchester and Gabriel Novak,’ she said, letting the names hang in the air, dripping with accusation. ‘I expected better. Clean yourselves up and be in my office promptly.’
As they stood in front of the bathroom mirror surveying their injuries, Sam felt a smug smile creep its way across his features. In front of him stood a tall, well built boy with floppy chestnut brown hair and a purpling bruise forming on his jaw. To his left stood the boy he had beaten the pulp out of, wiping the congealing blood away from his nose with toilet tissue. He was shorter, scrawnier and pale enough to show each place that Sam’s fist had touched his face. His uniform was in shambles: the starched white collar was spotted with bright red blood, his tie not-so-casually askew and his felted maroon blazer was as crumpled as Sam’s own. The skin on Gabriel’s nose was broken in two places and his lip was split. He was prodding at the flesh below his eye in a way that suggested that he expected it to bruise badly. Sam felt the same satisfaction that Gabriel no doubt felt every day.
‘Is Daddy going to pay for your surgery, Gabey?’ Sam teased, the bitter tone coming so naturally to him.
Gabriel winced; he was more of a wimp than Sam had first thought.
‘If you’re done with your sub-par quips, I suggest we go see Milton already. The sooner that’s over, the sooner I get to see a nurse.’
Gabriel’s nose started bleeding again.
Dean rolled out from under the car, wiped his hands on his jeans and flipped his mobile open.
‘Hello, Dean Winchester speaking.’ He said, shifting so that he caught the phone between his cheek and his shoulder.
‘Mr. Winchester? It’s Amanda Phillips, from St. John’s Boys High. I’m calling about Sam. Are you busy at the moment?’ asked the voice of a young woman, coming through small and tinny through the speakers of Dean’s cheap phone.
Dean rolled his eyes. She was calling right after lunch on a week day and wanted to know if he was busy? He marveled at her intelligence. ‘Yeah, kinda, but it’s about Sammy, right? I’ll make time.’ He set down his wrench and wiped his less oil covered hand across his glistening brow. ‘What’s he gone and got himself into?’
‘Mr. Winchester, there’s been an incident between your son,’
‘Brother,’ Dean interjected.
‘Sorry, what?’ asked Amanda, puzzled.
‘Brother. He’s my brother.’ Dean repeated. He was surprised that wasn’t on the records, but he had learnt that you couldn’t expect much from computers.
‘Oh, well, yes,’ the young woman muttered, trying to regain her composure. She sounded unusually flustered over such a small mistake. ‘Your brother has been in a fight with another student. We believe that he instigated the incident. The principal would like to-’
‘Shit!’ Dean yelled. He turned his head away from the phone, but no doubt he said it loud enough so that the woman on the other end of the line had heard. He saw his boss’ head pop up from the sunroof of a car.
‘Mr. Winchester, are you okay?’ the woman asked, alarmed.
‘No, I’m fine, just… shit.’ He swore again, but quieter this time.
‘As I was saying, Mr. Winchester, Miss Milton would like to see you in her office. Can you manage that?’ Dean could feel the waves of condescension that the woman was sending him. He felt like a country hick.
‘Sorry, which one’s Miss Milton again?’
‘Miss Milton is the principal here at St. John’s. Can you make it here in half an hour?’
Dean remembered Miss Milton. Anna Milton, he name was. She was friendly enough, young and pretty, with bright red hair and cream white skin. He had only met her twice, once when he took Sam in for the interview and again when he was filling out Sam’s registration forms. It hit him that this could get Sam expelled.
He thrust his face into his palms. ‘Um, yeah, should do.’
‘Thank you, Mr. Winchester. Sorry you had to go through this.’ She finished, and you could forgive an eavesdropper for mistaking her for a funeral director.
Dean flipped the phone shut but stayed bent over the hood of the car, his head in his hands, until he felt a hand on his shoulder.
‘Something up, Dean?’ asked the gruff voice of his boss, Bobby Singer.
‘Nah, it’s fine.’ Dean lied. ‘ Just Sam. Look, can I get an hour or two off today? I’ve got to go speak to the principal.’
‘Sure, kid. You’ll have to make up time, but I’ll let you go. See you tomorrow, I s’pose.’ Bobby conceded.
‘Thanks Bobby.’ Dean breathed a sigh and headed for the bathroom to clean up. He was still covered with sweat and grime from the underbelly of that car. All the while he was fuming, thinking of the things he was going to do to Sam when he got his hands on him.
Sam wasn’t one to show nervousness, but he was feeling shimmers of an offending emotion stirring in his gut. Logically, he always knew that punching a kid in the hallway was going to have consequences but through all the adrenaline, he never really cared. Now he was sitting next to Gabriel, with Miss Milton staring them both down. His stomach had decided that it really belonged to an anorexic teenage girl and was trying to throw up everything it had ever ingested, bile or no. His mind was just helpfully supplying the phrase ‘you could get expelled for this’.
First, he was introduced to Mr. Novak, Gabriel’s father. He was not overly tall – Sam was at least an inch taller, and he was still growing – but he had a bizarre kind of presence. Sam attributed it to his eyes, which were a bewitching shade of ice blue. Even when Mr. Novak looked away, Sam felt as if those bright blue eyes were still trained on him. Mr. Novak had thick, dark hair that looked like it had been combed with fingers rather than a brush and was wearing a suit and a tan trench coat. Sam felt underdressed, even in his private-school-felt blazer and tie. When Mr. Novak sat down, his back was unnaturally straight. He didn’t smile, but didn’t give the impression that he was unhappy or angry, but that he wasn’t smiling because he was unsure how. Sam was thoroughly unnerved.
When Dean walked into the neat little office, Miss Milton smiled pleasantly, but Dean didn’t meet her eyes. He hadn’t even acknowledged Sam’s presence. Miss Milton explained the situation then Gabriel explained his actions. When it was Sam’s turn to speak, his mouth moved and words came out, but he wasn’t thinking about them. He wasn’t present. Some part of his brain had detached itself from his head and was floating above his body. Finally, he was done. Miss Milton sent a meaningful look over to Dean and Gabriel’s father, then spoke.
‘Samuel, Gabriel, let’s leave your guardians to talk this over a bit.’ Miss Milton vacates her seat and Sam follows, but not after catching a glance of Dean’s facial expression. The older Winchester had his jaw clenched tight and a tick was working in his temple. Sam knew that expression, had seen it so many times, both on Dean and on his father. All that could be said would rather die than take the ride home.
Chapter 2: A Lack Of Understanding
Some kind of glitch here, but have the second chapter!
We have our first appearance from Castiel, huzzah!
Title is from a song by the Vaccines.
The door clicked shut and Dean was faced with Mr. Novak, without Sam and Novak’s son to buffer the experience. There was an awkward silence, then Novak spoke up.
‘I’m sorry about the way that Gabriel has been treating your brother. It is inexc-’
‘Damn right, it’s inexcusable!’ exploded Dean. ‘You think your kid can just waltz in with his upper class snobbery and walk all over whoever he wants? They’re getting equal detention time. How is that fair, do you think? Your son harassed Sam for who knows how-‘
‘Mr. Winchester, please.’
‘No, don’t “Mr. Winchester” me. Do you know how hard that boy works? I don’t think so. I saw that kid grow up, fed him, gave him the clothes off my back. He doesn’t deserve this. Now you go tell that to your conniving SOB that you call your son-’
‘Mr. Winchester, Gabriel is not my son.’
Dean’s mouth hung open, but no sound came out.
Mr. Novak straightened his lapels and cleared his throat. Dean managed to close his mouth.
‘Please let me explain myself. My name is Castiel. I am Gabriel’s older brother.’
Suddenly it all made sense. The discrepancies in appearance and character once made it hard to believe that Gabriel was half Castiel’s genes and half someone else’s. They were built differently, spoke differently and had different eyes. Castiel’s eyes seemed to shine from the inside, like there were lit up from the inside. Gabriel’s were bright and shiny too, but an aged gold colour, like toffee or treacle. Dean had to admit that he found them a mite less transfixing. Of course, if they were brothers, these differences were easily explained away. God knew that Sam and Dean were worlds apart, at least physically.
Castiel extended his hand, breaking Dean out of his reverie.
‘Dean. I’m, uh, well, I’m Sam’s brother.’ Dean shook Castiel’s hand, but with a looser grip than he usually provided. He had just made a fool of himself in front of a presumably very wealthy and very intelligent man. Now that the first impression was a given, he couldn’t quite muster the strength that he usually put behind his handshakes.
There was another awkward silence, and Dean basked in his stupidity. He was also beginning to wonder whether all conversations with Castiel were like this. To make things worse, Castiel had his hauntingly blue eyes trained right on him, following his ever moved. Dean was unnerved, like the other man could see into his head.
‘So who’s Gabriel’s dad? I mean, if you don’t mind me asking.’ Dean asked, scrabbling for something to talk about. He tacked on the courtesy, because Castiel seemed like a conservative type of guy.
However, the other man seemed unfazed by what must be an incredibly personal and possibly painful subject. ‘Our father had been absent for many years-’
‘Yeah, I know what that’s like.’ Dean muttered.
Castiel raised his eyebrows in an overly boyish fashion. He seemed confused by the interruption, as if he was unsure how to continue.
Dean cleared his throat. ‘Continue.’
‘Our father has been absent for many years, since Gabriel was three years old. We were living with my uncle, Zachariah, until recently. We had a…’ Castiel paused, the first indication of emotion that Dean had seen all afternoon. He respected the calm manner that Castiel carried himself with, especially after his hotheaded outburst some minutes earlier. ‘We had a disagreement on some issues and I felt it necessary to move out. Gabriel insisted he come with me. We have now lived in Sioux Falls for almost two years.’
Dean understood what Gabriel was going through frightfully well - he had reacted the same way when his father walked out on them.
‘Castiel, I’m really sorry.’ The sentence felt heavy on his tongue. ‘Look, this is usually Sam’s thing, but I know what you’re on about. Sam and I, we’re on our own now. It’s just us.’
‘That must be very difficult for you, Dean.’ Castiel said, his blue eyes radiating calm and understanding. Dean felt slightly guilty that Castiel was the one comforting him, after he had been such an idiot before.
‘Uh, I think the detention should be sufficient.’ Dean said, changing the subject because he felt like he had exposed too much of himself. ‘Gabriel wasn’t at fault.’
‘Yes, I agree,’ Castiel replied, voice soft. ‘but I don’t think Sam was at fault either.
Castiel began to stand, but Dean felt that something was still being left unresolved.
‘Castiel,’ Dean stopped. He couldn’t get his mouth around that name. It sounded foreign, and he never had a gift for languages. ‘Uh, Cas – can I call you that? Uh, can I make this up to you? I’ve been an ass, I exploded at you for no reason and I feel like I-’
‘Dean if you are meaning to apologise, you needn’t bother. I understand that you are under a lot of stress. You are forgiven.’
Dean sighed and ran his hand through his short hair. It stood up straight from his forehead, still coated in grease for the car he had been working on. ‘Thanks and all, Cas, but I need this more for me than for you. For closure or something. Just… let me do this. How about I buy you coffee? After work, maybe.’
‘That,’ Castiel paused, then smiled, the first time all afternoon. ‘That would be very nice.’
Dean wrote down his number on the back of a business card on the desk. Castiel accepted the number, still smiling and Dean looked away, because that smile almost blinded him. He muttered a ‘good’ and he trudged out the door.
Outside, Sam was sitting on a plastic chair, shoulders slumped and his head hanging low. Gabriel, however, was almost reclining in his chair and sucking on a lollipop, looking like he hadn’t a care in the world. It looked like a caricature of the classic principal’s office exterior.
Some formalities were attended to, them Miss Milton ushered them to the gates.
‘Mr. Winchester, Mr. Novak, I believe you should take your brothers home for the rest of the day. We should let the excitement die down a little first. Thank you for making it here on such short notice.’
‘Come on, Sam.’ Dean said, pulling his brother along by the wrist.
Dean had parked the Impala right outside the gates, not at all far from the office. Dean started the engine and changed gears in complete silence. The radio wasn’t even on. The only sound was the hum from underneath the bonnet and the wind whistling through Dean’s window. Sam could hear his heartbeat and the blood rushing in his ears.
Sam hated when Dean yelled at him but he hated Dean’s silence even more. He felt the fear like a tightly wound spring made of his organs. He could feel it twisting his insides, pulling them tighter with the passing of each silent moment. He was playing possible scenes in his mind.
‘What the hell were you thinking, Sam? I trusted you to keep your head. You’re better than this. God, Sam, you’re so smart. I thought you could deal with some dick you only see twice a day. You’re pathetic. You’re worthless. I trusted you not to stuff this up, but you did.’
Just as the grim anticipation had almost become too much, finally, Dean spoke.
‘Kid, are you okay?’
Sam almost jumped out of his seat. Dean’s words, ringed with calm understanding, were a hundred times more shocking than anything he could have expected.
‘I- I’m fine.’ Sam stuttered. ‘I’m sorry.’
Dean sighed and turned on the radio, but left the volume low enough that they could speak. ‘I don’t reckon I’ve talked to you much about things, Sammy.’
Sam blinked several times, still stunned. Maybe Gabriel had hit him. Maybe he was passed out in the hallway. This couldn’t be the real Dean. Couldn’t be. He considered pinching himself, but he wasn’t sure if that only worked in dreams.
‘Haven’t talked about what?’
‘You. How you’re doing. We don’t talk much.’ Dean was relaxing. He had dropped one hand from the steering wheel and was drumming on his knee along with the song faintly playing through the car stereo.
‘Dean, we talk plenty.’
‘No, I mean about Mom. About Dad.’
‘Oh.’ Sam didn’t want to talk about it. He used to, years ago, but Dean didn’t. He crushed his grief down into his stomach and didn’t speak of it. It had always been that way and that was how it would continue.
‘Sam?’ Dean asked, taking the opportunity to look his brother in the eyes as he took a right.
‘There’s nothing to talk about.’ Sam said, internally wincing because yes, Dean did notice the iciness in his tone.
There was more silence.
‘Well I don’t care if you think there’s nothing to say, because I miss them.’ Dean said, the words propelled by dangerous emotions like shame and anger and pain.
Sam swallowed, the sides of his throat suddenly sticking together with all the things he wouldn’t - all the things he couldn’t - tell his brother.
‘When he left us, I felt like I was second rate. Like I could have been better. I thought it was my fault for so long, and I know, I know you did too, so we have to talk about it... I know I say to press it down, to bottle it up, but I’m an idiot, okay? And I’m sorry, I’m really sorry that I brought you up like that. But I just can’t hide it anymore because I miss them so much, Sammy.’
‘I know.’ Sam whispered. ‘I miss them too.’ he added, like a pent-up sigh.
The older Winchester reached across and ruffled his younger brother’s hair.
‘That’s enough chick flick moments for one day.’ Dean said, suddenly smiling. ‘Now, how does pizza sound to you?’
Gabriel kept that foolhardy smile plastered on his face. He didn’t care, it was just detention. It was just a scolding. It was just disappointment. He was used to this. He didn’t care.
The smirk stayed in place, but he couldn’t keep up the inner commentary. Gabriel had stopped lying to himself years ago.
Castiel sat beside him, both hands on the wheel, back ramrod straight. The man was so highly strung that Gabriel felt he might snap.
The younger boy could feel the waves of emotion that were rolling off his brother, breaking on his shoulders and side. Castiel’s face was stony, but Gabriel could very nearly read his mind.
‘You’re hopeless, Gabriel. I have tried to make you better, I have tried to make you what father would have wanted you to be and I have failed. I am so disappointed in you. You will never be what he wanted, what I wanted.’
Gabriel added his thoughts to the ones bouncing off the car doors.
I don’t care, Castiel, I don’t care. I’m not your little piece of Play-Doh to model into the perfect brother. I’m not anyone’s toy.
Gabriel couldn’t lie to himself, but he still had no qualms in lying to his brother, even in his thoughts. Then he was met with the cold kind of silence that rang in the brothers’ heads and ears.
Castiel was frowning. He rarely smiled, but he only frowned when he was angry or confused. Castiel was definitely angry, Gabriel was sure of it. He remembered his uncle when he was angry, albeit only vaguely. He rolled his shoulder experimentally, felt a slight twinge as the bone shifted.
‘I’m never going to hit you, you know.’ Castiel said, breaking the silence.
Gabriel blinked at him in confusion.
Castiel looked away from the road for a few minutes. ‘I’m not like him. That’s why we ran away. I’m not like him at all.’
Gabriel snorted. ‘No, we ran away because you’re-’
‘Gabriel.’ Castiel growled warningly.
The younger Novak mentally slapped himself. He was angry, yes, but bringing that up again was just low.
‘Sorry.’ he mumbled.
Castiel shook his head. ‘No, it doesn’t matter. It’s true.’
Gabriel bit his lip. ‘No, I mean, sorry for doing it wrong. For messing things up.’
‘Today, you mean?’ Castiel asked, the confusion softening his expression.
‘Yeah, today. I’m sorry.’ Gabriel said, repeating his apology like a mantra.
Castiel nodded but didn’t say anything. Gabriel was relieved – this heart-to-heart business was draining. He closed his eyes and let himself relax into the car seat.
And when Castiel’s breathing became a little bit heavier and more scattered, he pretended he was asleep.
Chapter 3: Of Detention And Brothers
Updates will now be on Fridays...
Detention rolled around, and Sam wanted to die. He was pretty sure torture like this was against the Bill of Human Rights.
Their supervising teacher was odd, to say the least. Sam hadn’t seen him around before; he must be new. He was twitchy in a way that suggested his palms were perpetually clammy and his eyes flitted around the room as if he expected something to jump out at him. Given the circumstances, Sam didn’t blame the guy – he deserved to be a little nervous before holding detention with Gabriel Novak, whose trickster reputation even spanned the teaching staff.
‘I’m Mr. Shurley. You can... you can call me Chuck.’ The spindly little man said, and Sam was almost surprised that he didn’t stammer. He quirked an eyebrow at the informality, but otherwise remained silent. ‘You’re, uh, Samuel Winchester?’ he inquired, peering up at Sam’s height in something that looked suspiciously like fear.
Sam nodded and placed himself and his satchel in the second row, a little to the left of the large desk in the centre of the room.
Chuck coughed nervously. ‘Have you seen Gabriel Novak today?’
Sam hadn’t seen him in person, per say, but one of the sophomores, Ruby, had been covered in chocolate and confetti after second period, which Sam was willing to bet was Gabriel’s doing.
‘He’s here,’ Sam answered after a moment, breaking his self-imposed vow of silence. ‘but he’ll be late.’
Chuck shoved his hands deep into his pockets and Sam wondered for a second whether they were bigger on the inside. ‘Continue with your homework.’ The shorter man croaked.
Sam was bent over his calculus when Gabriel made his entrance. He did not walk in so much as swan and seated himself right next to Sam, munching happily on a chocolate bar.
‘Hey Sammy!’ his tormenter exclaimed in mock delight, simultaneously making a show of ignoring Chuck.
Chuck cleared his throat from behind the desk. ‘Please put away your homework.’ he requested, prompting Gabriel to perform an elaborate mime. Sam snorted, but returned his own work to his satchel.
‘I’ve been requested by Miss Milton to disregard the usual detention conduct, which you, Mr. Novak, would be familiar with.’ Sam was torn between shock and admiration – Chuck was obviously in his element here. ‘No, we’re going to try something new. She wants you to settle your differences. We don’t want a repeat performance of yesterday.’ He spoke in a way that made it clear that he didn’t much care for the programme at all.
‘No, we don’t want to hurt Sam’s pretty little face, do we?’ Gabriel sneered. Sam had to suppress a grin when he took in the other boy’s face, which currently looked more like a Picasso original than that of St. John’s resident prank master.
Chuck frowned, but didn’t respond to Gabriel in any other way. ‘I’m not going to bother with worksheets – that’s pointless – but I’m going to be supervising you.’ Chuck concluded, then sat down in his chair, still jittery, but a little less than before. ‘So... talk.’
Sam stared at Chuck in alarm, then across at Gabriel, who had turned his chair slightly to the side, but had his eyes fixed on Chuck in a death glare.
They sat like that for some minutes, the tick of the wall clock the only sound and Chuck’s darting eyes the only movement. After ten or fifteen minutes, Chuck finally conceded. ‘Alright, I can see this isn’t going to work. I’ll have to call Miss. Milton, but in the meantime, continue with your homework.’
Sam let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding and went back to work on his calculus. Through the door, he could hear Chuck talking on the phone, evidently to the principle. ‘Look, Anna, I told you it wouldn’t work. These boys, they’re different.’
Gabriel had taken advantage of the lack of supervision and had his phone out.
A few seconds later, Sam’s own phone buzzed.
Sam frowned down at the glowing screen. He didn’t recognise the number. Then he recalled who was sitting two desks down and it dawned on him.
How did you get my number? He sent back, unsure why he was playing along with Gabriel’s charade.
Sammy, if you had my connections... was the answering message.
He resisted the urge to look up at Gabriel and instead focussed on his phone. Chuck’s going to be back soon.
And it’s Sam.
Gabriel huffed a short laugh and in his peripherals, Sam could see him starting to type just seconds later. It’s whatever I feel like, kiddo.
The door opened and Sam jammed his phone into his pocket. He didn’t want any more detentions than the five he already had.
‘Can I use the restroom?’ Gabriel asked Chuck once he had sat down.
‘Don’t climb out the window.’ Chuck answered, just as Gabriel disappeared out the door.
Sam had to fight the shock as his phone buzzed against his leg, so as not arouse suspicion. Once he was sure that Chuck was engrossed in whatever was on his laptop screen, Sam checked his phone, hoping that the click of the keypad wouldn’t give him away. For a second, he was jealous of Gabriel’s noiseless touch screen.
Is he buying it?
I doubt you could fool a child.
There was a pause between his message and Gabriel’s, and Sam couldn’t help but imagine Gabriel trying to think up a witty response. The eventual text was seemingly lacklustre when compared with what Sam had thought up himself.
I’m brilliant and you know it.
Great comeback there. Real smooth. Sam replied, giving his best crack at sarcasm-via-text.
He stifled a laugh, receiving a picture message of Gabriel giving him the bird. I am the King of Smooth.
Sure, Gabe, you keep thinking that.
Gabriel sauntered back into the room a few moments later and their phone conversation appeared over and forgotten. Gabriel didn’t even agknowledge Sam on his return and for some reason Sam felt like he had been rejected. They had just been having a half-civil conversation and Gabriel suddenly didn’t notice him. Granted, their conversation was founded on light-hearted teasing and picture messages, but that was at least a step up from bloodying each other’s faces.
But then again, it was Gabriel. Maybe it was all a prank. Sam had alleviated Gabriel’s boredom for a while, but he’d become boring now. He’d served his purpose, and now had been discarded like an old toy.
Sam sat through the rest of detention in silence, watching the clock tick on the wall.
Sam slipped into the passenger seat of the Impala and slid down into his seat, too tired and stressed to bother holding himself up. Dean chucked his school bag in the back and joined him.
‘Tough day, little brother?’
Sam made a sound between a sigh and a grumble.
‘Was it that Gabriel guy again? You know, Sam, C-’ Dean stopped, frowned, and didn’t continued his sentence.
‘Ms. Milton is trying to make us be friends.’ Sam conceded.
Dean looked at Sam sideway. ‘Dude, really? This isn’t preschool.’
Sam scrubbed a hand over his eyes. He was really tired – he might make it an early night. Dean must have taken his simple gesture the wrong way and his expression changed in a split second.
‘Well, good. You don’t have many friends anyway.’
Sam snorted. ‘Neither do you.’ Sam replied harshly. Honestly, he’d had enough. That was a giant mood swing, even for Dean. He didn’t feel like dealing with his brother’s shitty moods, not today. And Dean said that Sam was the girl.
Dean just gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white. The part of Sam was wasn’t churning bitterness and anger over his life, his school, his family – at this point in time, about three percent – wanted to ask what was wrong. There was a tiny cluster of neurons telling him to comfort his brother.
He’s all you’ve got left, they insisted.
Fuck off , Sam insisted right back.
Castiel heard the door slam and a bag hit he hallway tiles. He met his brother as he entered the kitchen.
‘Delinquent.’ He smiled, falling on old jokes to get him through the conversation.
‘Angel.’ Gabriel replied, and Castiel chalked that one up as a win. His voice only just carried from the back of the fridge, where he was rummaging for leftovers. Maybe pecan pie, if he was lucky.
Gabriel didn’t reply, instead cutting into a piece of cheesecake with a fork that Castiel could have sworn had appeared out of thin air.
‘You’re going to have to talk about it soon.’ Castiel sighed, leaning back onto the granite bench top, subconsciously mimicking his brother.
Gabriel was still silent, just eating forkfuls of cheesecake, eyes focused on a chip in the plate, expression unchanging.
Castiel frowned. Even he could tell something was wrong, and he wasn’t known for his aptitude in non-verbal cues.
The phone rang.
The dial tone shrieked in his ear, then the phone rang out.
Dean hung up.
Settling on his bed, Sam flicked on his computer and squared up the sights on his webcam.
the_better_gallager is in
Sam clicked on the icon. ‘Hey Andy.’ He felt a little more comfortable upon seeing his friend’s face. Andy was one of his best friends – not his only friend, thank you very much Dean – and they had most of their classes together. Everybody from jocks to nerds respected Andy, even though he hung out with people like Sam.
‘Yo Sammy –’
‘– Sam, then. I haven’t seen you all day. How was detention?’
‘Fine.’ Sam said, and even he wouldn’t believe him.
‘It wasn’t and you’re not. Tell me the truth.’
Andy was damn perceptive and it was almost impossible to lie to him. Ask anyone – Andrew Gallager was truth serum on legs.
Sam sighed loudly. ‘Bad. We just sat there, didn’t do anything. They want us to be friends or something. I don’t know what Ms. Milton’s thinking. I mean she’s good most of the time, –’
‘– and hot.’
‘ Andy – but she’s got it wrong. It won’t work out.’
Sam felt better. It was good to finally unload, to complain to someone who wasn’t Dean. His computer blipped.
dr-badass94 is in.
‘Hey, Ash is on.’ Sam noted.
‘Awesome!’ Andy drawled, and clicked the other boy’s icon.
Ash was Sam’s kind-of-cousin. He lived in St. Louis with his kind-of-aunt, Ellen, and her daughter, Jo. Ellen was a family friend and he and Dean went to live with her when their dad… well, when he walked out on them. Sam and Ash had got on really well, geeking out over computers and comic books and B-grade sci-fi films well into their early teens. Ash had set up the webcam as a way to keep in touch on his last visit.
‘Hola amigos! Sam-o, how was detention?’
Sam was about to correct Ash, but Andy beat him to it.
‘Its just Sam.’ He mocked, grin ever widening. Sometimes Andy was so full of himself that Sam wanted to punch him. In a nice way, of course.
Ash grinned, then prompted the conversation in the direction he was aiming for. ‘Detention? With the infamous Gabriel Milton, I hear.’
‘You should have seen the punch up, man! It was so epic. I wish I had it on tape. That was badass.’
‘The supervisor’s a nut.’
Andy chucked. ‘Mr. Shurley, right? I’m pretty sure he’s on something. Something serious.’
Sam grinned, but feigned scandal. ‘He couldn’t be!’ He said, even though he thought it too.
Andy smirked. ‘You’re a terrible actor. Don’t quit your day job.’ His faced snapped to serious and he could see Ash leaning forward in his seat expectantly. ‘That’s why I know something else is wrong.’
Sam closed his eyes. He didn’t want to tell anyone about it, but these guys were his best friends and by rights, he should be telling them everything. Inexplicably, he felt like a thirteen-year-old girl at holiday camp. He made sure he could still hear Dean making dinner downstairs and wouldn’t be interrupted. He started when he could hear the clacking of the stove turning on.
‘Gabriel… Gabriel was, um, texting me. In detention. And, I dunno, he seemed okay. It was even kinda fun. Then he just stopped. It was weird. I’m… I… Did I get boring or something?’
Andy quirked an eyebrow. ‘Have you got the log?’
Sam pulled out his less than impressive phone. He didn’t know why he was ashamed of it, because he knew Ash had a brick phone pulled straight from the eighties, but the human psyche is an irrational creature. Sam couldn’t see both his and Gabriel’s texts at the same time, but tried to cover it up by ad-libbing his parts.
When he had finished, both Andy and Ash were frowning, just as puzzled as Sam, albeit a bit less exasperated. Sam huffed a sigh. It was hopeless.
Ash was the first to speak. ‘That’s weird, dude.’
‘Tell me about it.’ Andy added helpfully. They were both a bit thrown.
‘Maybe he’s just PMS-ing?’ Ash proffered, as if that was a logical explanation.
‘Everyone’s shitty. Dean’s not talking to me ‘caus I said he doesn’t have friends and –’
‘Oh, now, that’s unreasonable.’ Andy said sarcastically. He had some kind of hero worship going on with Dean. Sam was pretty sure it had something to do with the car.
‘Shut up. He said as much to me.’ Sam said, feeling like a bit of a child now that he listened to himself. ‘Like you haven’t said worse to Anson.’
The conversation shifted focus from Andy to his borderline psychotic twin, Anson. Sam mentally congratulated himself on his diversionary tactics. No-one mentioned detention or Dean or Gabriel for the rest of the evening.
Evidently, Dean Winchester had no backbone to speak of. He was sitting in the lip of his bed, in the dark, with his phone casting a blue glow on his face and hands. Castiel’s number was typed in and ready to call, but Dean was just letting it flash at him until the phone erased it and he had to type it again. Dean could almost recite the digits off by heart… and that was not what he was going for.
It was half seven. Sam had probably finished talking to his friends by now. Remember talking, that thing people do on the phone?
Dean flopped backwards, making a dramatic whump noise as he hit the mattress and flipping around to lie on his stomach. He felt like a beached whale, both because of his position and his hopelessness. He heard the door brush along the carpet and Sam poked his head in. For someone so tall, he sure was light-footed – Dean hadn’t heard him in the hallway.
‘Dinner?’ the younger Winchester asked.
‘Downstairs. Might have to heat it up.’ Dean mumbled into the bed sheets.
Sam started to close the door, but he obviously thought better of it and pushed it wide open. Dean’s obnoxious little brother switched on a light and made his way to the desk chair next to the bed. Dean groaned in response to the change in lighting, but more because of the spirit of the moment than any pain the light was causing him. ‘Why are you face planted into your bed with all the lights off?’
‘Because of your face.’ Dean replied lamely.
Sam snickered. ‘Nup, my face is fine. Yours is the one smooshed into the mattress.’
Dean grunted because he couldn’t think up an insult.
Dean was doing his best impression of a dead body.
‘It’s a girl, isn’t it? I can tell it’s a girl.’
‘It’s not a girl. ’ Dean growled into the bed sheets.
By some act of God, he didn’t catch the way Sam’s eyebrows furrowed in response, which had smoothed out by the time he flipped over onto his back.
‘I made a fool of myself. My pride is wounded.’ He said, hoping the humour disguised his emotions. Peering at his brother with one eyes, he added ‘Leave me alone.’
‘Fine. Sulk. See if I care.’ Sam said, and Dean knew that he did. ‘But it’s a good thing. You haven’t a girlfriend for a while.’ Sam turned towards the door. ‘Or a boyfriend.’
Dean scowled. ‘That was once. ’ He said, before shoving his face back into the covers.
Dean wasn’t proud of how long he stared at his bedcovers, but eventually, he worked up the nerve to give Castiel a call.
‘Hello?’ a gravelly voice greeted him.
‘Hey, it’s Dean.’
‘Oh, Dean. It’s good to hear from you.’
There was silence on the line, and Dean wondered if Castiel had hung up on him.
‘I am free after 5 on Monday.’ Castiel finally told him.
‘After 5 is fine.’ Dean replied, even though he finished at 12 on Mondays. ‘I know a good coffee shop near my work.’
‘Where do you work?’ Castiel asked, and Dean was suddenly ashamed of his meagre occupation. Castiel was probably a university professor or something.
‘Singer Auto. I’m a mechanic. Um, I’ll see you then?’ Dean asked, shrinking away from revealing too much about himself.
‘I will see you Monday. I look forward to it, Dean.’
‘Yeah. Uh, me too. Bye.’
‘Goodbye, Dean.’ Castiel said, then hung up without ceremony.
Dean hadn’t noticed how tired he was until he had finished on the phone, and he wasted no time in crawling into his pyjamas and under his covers.
Chapter 4: It Went A Little Like This
Apologies for the late update, have been busy with Sabriel Week Prompts.
Sometimes Gabriel and Castiel have nights like these. Nights where they’re brothers. They’ve thrown their blankets onto the couch, rearranged the couch and turned the living room into a part-time bedroom for their movie night. Gabriel is leaning back, a bowl of caramel popcorn resting in his lap. Castiel is curled around his pillow, half way between lying on his back and on his side, so he can see the film but still be under the covers. Tonight is Castiel’s choice. It’s black and white, which usually isn’t Gabriel’s style, but he’s enjoying it all the same. He thinks he’s understanding it – it’s a sort of Romeo and Juliet story, but there’s a bit of sci-fi involved, which is holding his attention. Plus, the lead is hot, so he’s not complaining.
Which lead, he’s not willing to disclose yet.
Castiel’s eyes are drooping, and he’s turned more into his pillow than to the screen. The shadows the widescreen is casting on his brother are oddly comforting to Gabriel, a constant presence by his side. Gabriel felt warm, he felt safe. He could still feel some strange mixture of emotions churning at the bottom of his stomach, but he was warm and he was safe. He had his brother with him, and nothing was going to happen to him. Castiel has always been there for him, for his whole life, long before they left home.
Well, exiled would be a better word for it, but Gabriel was happier lying to himself. He was good at it.
Castiel nudged him in the side, and Gabriel thanked someone that Castiel couldn’t read minds. He was the one with feelings, not Gabriel.
‘I’m going to sleep.’ Castiel murmured, as if it wasn’t already obvious. The older man burrowed down into the covers until only a tuft of dark hair and a lumpy suggestion of a body was visible. When he wanted to be, Gabriel mused, Castiel could be downright tiny.
Gabriel wanted to stay up to watch the film, but he couldn’t stay focused, even when robots and doubles got involved. His mind was wandering, coming too close to the cold in his chest that the blankets were trying to thaw out. He turned off the TV and lay himself down, glad he had the foresight to get two duvets instead of one – Castiel like his blanket-to-body-weight ratio at roughly five to one.
‘Hey, Cas.’ Gabriel whispered to the figure next to him. There was a mumble in response. ‘G’night.’
Now, the Novak boys didn’t apologise much – it wasn’t in their nature – but when they did, it went a little like this.
Dean and Sam spent the weekend like any other – Sam skyped and did his homework, Dean took an extra shift at the garage that should really be on his regular hours by now – but the following Monday was anything but normal. Dean came home early, like he always did, and took a shower, like he always did, but instead of turning on the TV and sinking into a shameful amount of daytime television, he stood in front of his closet for an hour.
‘Come on, man, this is not a date.’ He told himself, willing himself to man up and pick a shirt already.
And it wasn’t a date. Dean Winchester didn’t do dates.
But he couldn’t lie to himself, because he cared about what happened with this guy. He had this weird air about him, like peace and understanding just clung to the guy, hung around him like an exotic cologne. Dean didn’t know him well, but he felt like he and Castiel could get on, in a weird Ferris-Cameron kind of way. Castiel could ground him.
Dean bit the tip of his tongue and plunged his hand into the pile of button downs that were sitting on his shelf. If this Castiel kid was worth a decent conversation, he could deal with whatever Dean was wearing.
Dean had settled down by the time Sam got home and was lazing on the couch, reading the paper.
‘You’re dressed nice.’ The younger Winchester remarked.
Dean looked down. He supposed the shirt was a nicer fabric than he usually wore, and these jeans were a little less dusty than the ones he came home in, but it still didn’t look that special. He made a non-committal noise and continued reading his paper.
‘That’s your date shirt.’ Sam said, obviously not dropping the subject.
‘I don’t have a date shirt, Sammy.’ Dean replied, because he didn’t.
Dean could feel the bitchface boring into the back of his head. ‘Well you didn’t dress up to read the paper, did you?’ Sam growled, before stomping off to retrieve his schoolbag.
Dean heard a zipper and footsteps on the stairs. Odd fact about his brother – Sam studied when he was pissed off.
Dean let his brother stew for about half an hour, then sighed, snapped his paper into a size that would fit on the coffee table and following his brother into his room. Dean leaned on the doorframe and frowned at the figure hunched over the desk. ‘What’s up, Sam?’
Sam grumbled, pen scratching on the paper. ‘Nothing. Bad day.’
‘No, really, what’s wrong? I’m not putting up with you stomping around your room all day. The ceiling might fall on me.’
Sam smiled tiredly and span around in his chair. ‘It’s just… Gabriel, you know? On Friday, in detention, he texted me. And it was cool, you know? But now… He just won’t talk to me. We’re in the same biology class, I sit three seats behind, and he didn’t even see me.’
Dean frowned again. ‘Sam, look. The guy’s a douche. He was probably messing around and now he’s bored again.’ Dean moved onto Sam’s bed, resting a hand on his brother’s shoulder. ‘Don’t give it much thought, okay?’
Sam nodded, then yawned.
‘Didn’t get much sleep, didya, sasquatch?’ Dean grinned, withdrawing his hand.
‘Shut up.’ Sam said, a little brighter now.
Dean started to leave, then looked at his watch. 4:30. ‘Hey, Sam, I better go soon. I’ve got a coffee thing.’
Sam frowned. ‘A coffee thing?’ He asked mischievously.
‘Yeah.’ Dean confirmed. ‘A coffee thing. Not a movie, not a dinner, not a date. A coffee thing.’
Sam snorted. ‘Sure. You won’t even tell me who it is. It definitely isn’t a date.’
He threw on his jacket at the door, grabbed his keys and wallet and yelled ‘Seeya, bitch!’ up the stairs. He waited for the answering ‘Get lost, jerk!’ before chuckling and leaving the house.
When he got to the café, Castiel was already there. He wasn’t wearing the same coat as he had been the other day, but looked equally as dowdy in his current knitted sweater vest and dress pants. Pushed to the side, a pair of plain-framed glasses rested on top of a worn-looking novel. As Castiel saw Dean approach, he rose from his chair, lips quirking in a reflection of a smile.
‘Hello Dean.’ He greeted serenely.
Dean smiled awkwardly and sat down, hoping that Castiel would sit too instead of hover over him or, God forbid, push in his chair.
‘Hey Cas.’ He replied, stifling an awkward cough. Thankfully, as Dean sat, so did Castiel and he was a little more at ease.
‘Would you like a coffee, Dean?’ Castiel asked, calm in a way that should be frigid but somehow wasn’t.
Dean nodded. ‘Uh, yeah. What do you want? It’s on me.’ The seeing as I was such a dick yesterday was implied.
Castiel smiled his not-smile again. ‘Just an espresso, please.’
The café wasn’t Dean’s usual scene. In fact, he’d never even been here before. He made his coffee at home or bought the crap stuff at the 7/11. He only suggested this place so he didn’t have to meet Castiel in whatever high-end suburb he lived in. Overall, he was uncomfortable. It was the kind of place with regulars that the baristas knew by name and regular order. Dean ordered and took a number (a number, could you believe it?) Grasping the number, he returned to the table, where Castiel was tapping a single finger on the table and staring into the distance.
‘So, um…’ Dean stalled, his chair scraping on the concrete as he pulled it out to sit down. ‘Uh, Castiel, what do you do?’ he asked, realising just how little he knew about the man seated across from him.
‘I’m studying my Masters of Languages at the University. Occasionally, I work at the university library, when I have time.’
Dean wanted to laugh; of course Castiel worked at the library - he was almost a book character himself. Something from the 50’s, maybe. One of those stories with stable, nuclear families.
That train of thought reminded Dean of the reason he was here – he had been an idiot, assumed something he had no right to assume and possibly offended a polite, meek – if a little boring – stranger. He wanted to hit himself, for this and every other mistake he had made.
‘You mentioned you were a mechanic, Dean. How long have you worked there?’
Dean frowned, because he honestly couldn’t remember. He had taken two jobs in high school to pay for his and Sam’s upkeep – one at Ellen’s bar and one at the fast food joint on the main street, taking on as many hours as he could. He had moved to Sioux Falls as soon as he could, when he was 18, and got a job at Singer’s Auto the second he got there.
‘Uh, about 8 years ago now. Since I moved.’ He answered, then returned the question in kind. ‘How long have you been studying?’
‘This is the first year of my Master’s, so five years. I started when I left home as well.’ Castiel smiled – he was obviously proud, but Dean couldn’t work out if it was because of his education or the fact that he got away when he could.
‘Esspresso and long black for 056.’ The obnoxious barista announced and all but dropped their order on the faux-marble tabletop. The job description obviously required the ability to make (damn good) coffee whilst simultaneously glaring at the more mainstream-looking customers.
Castiel visibly brightened at the sight of his coffee and grabbed the handle immediately after it was presented to him. Over the rim of his dark, steamy beverage, he asked ‘Why mechanics?’
Dean frowned, deep blue eyes peering at him from over the top of white porcelain. ‘I guess I’ve always liked cars. I’ve got a ’67 Impala and it’s probably the best thing I own. I worked on it all the time in high school and when I had no idea what I wanted to do, Ellen suggested I become a mechanic.’
Castiel set his cup down. ‘Ellen?’
Dean hummed fondly. ‘Family friend. She took us in when… she took us in.’ he finished lamely.
‘I see.’ Castiel replied, nose back in his cup again. Dean noticed that he had already finished.
‘Do you want another?’ he asked, gesturing towards the little cup, but Castiel shook his head.
‘I’m alright, thank you. If I drink too much, I get…’ he paused, trying to think of an appropriate word. Castiel seemed to do that a lot. ‘Gabriel says I get jittery.’
Dean recognised the smile Castiel was wearing – it was the same as the one he wore every time he spoke about his own brother. ‘Little brothers, right?’ he said, hoping to convey the fond exasperation he felt.
Castiel’s expression changed a little and he looked directly at Dean, instead of at the space in front of him. ‘Indeed.’
There was a quiet moment when Dean sipped on his coffee, revelling in the rich aromas that were rising from his mug.
‘Why did you choose Languages?’
‘I always liked Latin in school. It sounds so…’ Castiel had that far-off look again, his mind somewhere else.
‘Old?’ Dean supplied
‘Well, yes, but in a more… stately sense. Latin is incredible. Just hearing it or reading it amazes me, but to be able to write and speak it myself, I… I don’t know.’
Dean couldn’t comprehend feeling that way about anything outside of his own family, especially not Latin. He’d seen it once and it made absolutely no sense to him. But he wanted to hear Castiel talk like that again – that barely contained excitement, bursting through his usually controlled seams. ‘What other languages to you study?’ he prompted.
‘I take Latin, Spanish, French, German and..’ at this point, Castiel leaned in and grinned devilishly, like this particular subject was particularly mischievous. ‘Russian.’
Dean just nodded and replied with ‘That’s a lot of languages.’
Castiel almost pouted. ‘Most people are scared when I tell them I speak Russian. I mean, I’m far from fluent, but usually I’m accused of being a communist or some such.’
Dean laughed and lifted his coffee to his lips, only to find that there isn’t any left.
‘Have you finished?’ Castiel asked quietly, fingernails chinking on his empty cup.
‘Yeah.’ He glanced at his watch. ‘And I should get Sam some food – he eats more than a world class wrestler.’
Castiel blinked, then let out a small chuckle. ‘Gabriel, for the most part, cooks for the two of us. Food is not my forte.’ Castiel stated, and Dean could imagine him in the middle of a kitchen, fire extinguisher spraying foam onto a charred pizza base. ‘As I expected, this has been nice.’
Dean nodded in agreement, not lying in the slightest.
‘Are you free for lunch next week?’ Castiel asked.
‘Uh, yeah.’ Dean responded with a beat, momentarily surprised that Castiel was willing to have a repeat performance. ‘How’s Sunday?’
‘Sunday is good.’ Castiel said, smiling. ‘I shall call you on Thursday to tell you where to meet me.’
Dean and Castiel said their goodbyes. All the way home, Dean has the smallest of smiles hiding in the corner of his mouth. When the Winchesters made friends, it went a little like this.
Chapter 5: An Afternoon Involving Caffeine
So sorry for the lateness of this - I'll try to post another chapter today.
Sam’s second detention was a little less daunting. He had checked the schedule, and Mr. Shurley was supervising again. Two other people were meant to be there, but Sam knew he’d more likely find them sneaking around the back of the movie theatre than in the desk next to him.
He didn’t know what he was going to do, though – he had finished all his homework in his free. Maybe they’d just let him go home.
Gabriel was already in the senior detention room and he grinned at the boy entering the room. ‘Hey, Sammy.’
‘Sam.’ The taller boy growled, sitting in the adjacent seat.
Chuck looked up from his newspaper and peered over his glasses at the boys.
‘Good, Winchester, you’re here.’ The teacher stood up, brushed down his slacks and stretched his arms, as if he’d just woken up. ‘I’m going to go get a coffee. Try not to kill each other.’
Sam made a choked noise of surprise, but Gabriel saluted and replied with ‘Can’t promise anything.’
Sam opened up his book and started to read. It was an English text, a play, and he didn’t have to study it for a month or two, but he was enjoying it all the same. Gabriel didn’t seem to be doing any work, but that was normal enough to pass under Sam’s radar.
‘Hey, Sammy.’ Gabriel whispered.
Sam frowned, but didn’t look up, or correct the peevesome nickname. Suddenly he had a thousand other things he could be doing. Even though he’d already finished his homework, he felt a distinct need to do it again.
‘Looks like Shurley’s out for a while,’ Gabriel continued, undeterred. ‘We should sneak out.’
Sam almost threw his book to the ground.
‘No.’ He hissed. ‘That’s wrong.’
Gabriel pouted. ‘Now, now, kiddo. We’ll be back before he notices. I’m just suggesting we go… I dunno, grab a coffee. Just ten minutes. He won’t notice.’
‘I… I’ve got homework.’ Sam said lamely.
Gabriel smirked, leaning back in his chair. He idly flicked a pen across his knuckles. ‘Except that you don’t.’
Sam raised an eyebrow questioningly.
Gabriel huffed a laugh. ‘I saw you in the library, Sammy. You’re all done. All your excuses are dried up. Come on. A bit of light truancy, a little caffeine hit – what’s to lose?’
Sam sighed, but he couldn’t deny the excitement in Gabriel’s prospect. He slipped his book into his bag silently, catching the way Gabriel’s eyes lit up out of the corner of his eye. ‘So, Houdini, how do you plan on getting out, then? It’s your genius plan.’ Sam said, bleeding sarcasm.
‘Same way as I get into class – tru-da-window.’ Gabriel said, grinning in a way that was scarily reminiscent of The Joker.
Sam wanted to say no. He wanted to stay in his seat and keep reading. But he had two friends, just two, and neither of them would ever ask him to climb out a window just to get a coffee. So he nodded, left his bag leaning against the desk leg and followed Gabriel into the bushes underneath the windowsill. The plants weren’t very big and only battered Sam around his calves. Gabriel was much more deft in his navigation of the shrubbery and when he emerged, not a slicked back hair was out of place.
‘Come on, kiddo.’ Sam squeaked, because really, Gabriel was only a few month older than him. ‘I know this great coffee place. They do syrups.’
Sam smiled maybe a little too fondly. ‘One day all your teeth will fall out. And I will laugh. Hard.’
‘Not if I brush after every meal, Sammy-boy.’
And however much he wanted to, Sam couldn’t say anything about the newer, more childish nickname because suddenly Gabriel had Sam’s wrist clasped in his fingers and they were running for no apparent reason. Logically, he knew he was making contact with the pavement on each step, but for some reason it still felt like flying and each step he took made his shoulder or his arm or his thigh brush up against Gabriel. It felt odd, but not a bad odd; just different, but implacably so. When the retail strip came into view, they slowed down and Gabriel dropped Sam’s wrist. The strange fog that had come over them cleared in split second. They were just acquaintances again, Sam was only just barely tolerating Gabriel and Gabriel was only in this for the thrill. Gabriel obviously knew the place very well; the barista knew his name and order before he lined up and it was ready by the time he got to the counter. Sam ordered a regular hot chocolate and tried to ignore the faces he receives from the other customers. He stood at the collection point and as he watched people pass him by, he was convinced that his order was being ignored. He said as much to Gabriel, who just glared at the barista once and smiled back at Sam. They seemed more willing to make the hot chocolate after that. Once they had their warm beverages in hand, Sam and Gabriel sank back into of the numerous, obscenely comfortable couches.
‘So, Sammy boy. Hot chocolate, I see. Not up to coffee today?’ Gabriel asked, eyebrow raised slightly. Sam was beginning to wonder if Gabriel was in a perpetual state of mockery or if that was just his face.
Sam grunted. ‘I don’t drink it much. ‘Least, not at home. My brother still thinks I’m, like, nine or something.’
Gabriel hummed. ‘Yeah, what’s up with that? The living with your brother bit, I mean, not the overprotective part. I get that.’
‘Uh, well.’ Sam began, not sure what exactly to say. ‘Our mom died, so for a while it was just us and our dad, then he left and now it’s me and Dean.’ Sam said in a rush, getting it all out there.
‘Huh.’ Gabriel said, then took a sip of his coffee. ‘My dad’s gone too.’
Sam bit his lip, not wanting to be impolite, but insanely curious. There was something he and Gabriel had in common, however sombre. He entertained vague hopes that this would mean the end of his torment.
‘I never knew him, ‘s’pose I was too young, but my brothers did. Castiel only remembers bits, because he was seven when Dad left. Says he was tall and stuff.’ Gabriel breathed in heavily and took a long gulp of his coffee. Sam was sure it would have burnt his tongue, but Gabriel’s face didn’t change from its set of strange determination. Sam thought this was the end of this oddly revealing monologue, but Gabriel continued. ‘Dad sent the f- three of us over to his brother Zachariah’s house and didn’t come back. Castiel fell out with Zachariah and left when he was nineteen. Reckon we’re living off Dad’s money now ‘cause Zach wouldn’t give us a goddamned cent if we were living on the streets.’
Sam nodded, then frowned, doing the math in his head for a second time. ‘There were three of you?’
Gabriel nodded, but I seemed detached, almost alien. ‘I have another brother, Michael. He’s… he’s sick. But Zach had two kids, Uriel and Anna. They were okay, I suppose. Bit weird, but that runs in the family.’ And there it was again, the familiar joking smile, this time with an undercurrent of self-deprecation. Suddenly it was like someone had flicked a switch, because Gabriel scrubbed his eyes and yawned expansively, his small form filling up with air. ‘Apparently when I’m tired, I get moody. Could’y’a guess, Sambo?’ he asked, his voice worlds apart from the previous tone of quiet contemplation. His fingers toyed nervously a loose edge of the aged, comfortable leather couch and he leaned back further, expression slowly becoming a bit more relaxed. ‘So, Sam, you’re reading Oedipus?’ he remarked.
Sam nodded, hiding the short jolt of surprise that Gabriel knew what he was reading. ‘Yeah, I’m reading it for class. Not studying it yet, but I like to read a bit ahead.’ The words left his mouth before he could stop himself and he scrunched his eyes up in embarrassment. Meet Sam Winchester, nerdy wonder.
Gabriel hummed. ‘It’s pretty weird. That Oedipus guy had issues. I mean, marrying your mom? That’s pretty fucked.’
‘But he’d never met her!’ Sam protested, glad that Gabriel didn’t call him out on his nerdiness.
‘Yeah, but she was still older than him. Cougar much?’
Sam laughed, surprising himself. He quickly outlined his reading, hoping that Gabriel was still interested. Thankfully, he was, and supplied his own. They spoke quite avidly, until Sam absently looked down at his watch and subsequently almost jumped out of his seat. ‘Shit, Gabe, did you see the time? We’ve been gone for way more than ten minutes.’ He looked up, alarmed, but the other boy seemed to be perfectly at ease. ‘Come on, I don’t want another detention.’
Gabriel poked out his tongue but stood up anyway. ‘Fine, Samsquatch, ruin my fun.’
Sam tried to smile at that, but he was too worried that they were going to get found out. They didn’t run back, but there was haste in their steps as they walked. After a few minutes of walking, Gabriel’s face burst into an ear-to-ear grin.
‘Caffeine just hit.’ He announced, bouncing on his toes a little.
‘What did you even drink?’ Sam asked, frowning. ‘Nothing Dean has hits him that hard.’
Gabriel’s tongue swiped over his bottom lip, as if chasing the last drops of coffee. ‘Double doppio.’ He said matter-of-factly.
Sam had never head of that particular blend, though that was probably because he did not drink coffee, as a rule. He said as much.
Gabriel hummed pensively. ‘Well, Sammy, we’ll have to fix that, won’t we? Next time, I’ll get you a nice creamy something-or-other and we’ll start your education.’
Sam didn’t know what to think about the fact that they were making plans for future afternoons like this, but he did know how he felt about skipping out on detention again. Surely that significantly increased their chances of getting caught. He made a little noise of disapproval.
Thankfully, Gabriel understood what the other boy was implying. ‘Don’t worry, kiddo, I’ll let you do your detention like a good boy.’ He promised, then winked and started running. ‘Now, see if you can catch me!’ he called out, sprinting away.
Caffeinated bastard. Sam thought, before following the other boy.
They slipped back through the window mere minutes before Chuck arrived. He raised an eyebrow at the two boys, who were trying to control their breathing and failing, but did not say anything that showed that he suspected they had snuck out. He simply returned to the pile of marking on his desk and let the pair sink further down into their chairs. Sam couldn’t bring himself to read any more of his book, instead choosing to stare aimlessly at the lines of black text and brush his fingertips over the slightly textured surface of the page. He still did not know what to think about Gabriel. Sam’s cynical inner voice reminded him of how much of a dick Gabriel had been, and he agreed wholeheartedly, but there was another voice, a kinder one, that said he didn’t really know Gabriel, and he wanted to agree with that voice too. It told him that he shouldn’t make judgments straight away. Gabriel seemed hospitable enough now, very noticeably changed. Maybe he was regretting his previous taunts. Maybe detention had taught him a lesson, finally.
Chuck’s voice interrupted his thoughts, announcing that they could leave early today. Sam’s heart beat double time when he caught the look that Chuck shot him, a look that said he knew all to well just how much time Sam had spent in detention. He beckoned him over as Gabriel left the room.
‘Gabriel does this every time someone new comes into detention.’ Chuck assured him. ‘He pulls them out for the afternoon, mucks around a bit. What’d he take you to? With Kali, it was the end of a film.’
Sam knew that name – everyone did. Kali was Gabriel’s last girlfriend. They worked as smoothly as a well-oiled machine, unstoppable. Gabriel and Kali – and they were constantly referred to as like that, as a pair, hardly ever seen apart - were, for a long time, St. John’s star couple.
Sam frowned in confusion, not understanding why it was important to mention her. ‘Coffee.’ He stated.
Chuck nodded and waved him off. ‘See you next week.’ He murmured, expression unreadable.
Sam nodded politely and started down the corridor. He could call Dean and ask to be picked up, but he didn’t want to bother his older brother. Dean did enough for Sam without having to drive him home after detention, which was, all in all, kind of Sam’s fault anyway. He would have to catch the bus, despite the creepy people who sometimes tried to sit next to him.
‘Hey, Sam!’ Gabriel called as Sam turned a corner towards the exit. ‘Which way you heading?’
Sam turned around to face the other boy, who was leaning casually against a row of lockers. He was looking down at his phone, fingers tapping on the screen that was casting a bluish glow over them. It was almost like Gabriel had been waiting for him.
‘Home.’ Sam replied, still slightly bemused from what Chuck had told him. Or, what he had at least tried to tell him. It had been like listening to one half of a phone conversation, for all its coherence.
The corner of Gabriel’s mouth quirked upwards. ‘Yeah, got that. Where’s home?’
Sam looked down at his feet, wiggling his toes in his shoes so he had something to focus on. He knew the kind of neighbourhood he lived in, and knew why he lived there too. He didn’t want to say.
‘It’s near Singer’s Auto, isn’t it? That’s a bit of a hike, Sammy-boy.’ Gabriel asked, frowning.
Sam nodded. ‘Yeah, but I’m catching the bus.’
Gabriel snorted. ‘That line is full of some choice personalities, let me tell you,’ Gabriel said with a smirk that could be interpreted as either fond or sarcastic. ‘but are you sure you want to brave that alone? It can get pretty wild, especially on a Friday.’
Sam had to will his eyebrows not to draw together. He didn’t recognise Gabriel at all, had been acquainting himself with an entirely new Gabriel for the whole afternoon. It was becoming apparent that there were two separate sides to Gabriel. There was the public side, full of smirks and trickery and never-do-well attitude, and there was the side that drank high strength coffee and texted from across the room and read Greek plays even when he didn’t have to study them. It almost sounded like he cared what happened to Sam.
‘I’ll be fine. I’ve caught it plenty of times.’ Sam assured.
Gabriel nodded, and didn’t push whatever offer he was about to make. ‘Well, I’ll see you next week, I guess.’
Sam ducked his head in an almost-mirror of Gabriel’s previous nod. ‘Sure, see you then.’ He said, and started to walk home