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0930 Hours

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Day 1 -- Tuesday

0930 hours
Luci’s Diner

“Refill, Sheriff?”

Castiel Novak starts, looking up to see a tall man with shaggy brown hair and a red apron holding a coffee pot and gesturing toward Castiel’s almost empty mug. He nods and pushes the cup closer to the waiter.

“You’re Sam Winchester, right?” Castiel asks.

He nods. “That’s me. You need anything else?” Sam smiles at Castiel, and his entire planned speech about how grateful he is to Sam for saving his life goes flying out of his head, including the two crucial words: thank you.

“Uh, no,” Castiel says, shaking his head.

“Lemme know if you do,” Sam says before turning to walk back to the kitchen. Castiel nods at his retreating back and then stares down into his coffee, feeling like the stupidest person to ever be elected sheriff in the entirety of the USA.

1000 hours
Sheriff’s Department

“You neglected to mention that Sam is the most attractive, funny, and intelligent man to ever walk the streets of this godforsaken tiny town,” Castiel complains at his brother, Gabriel, helping himself to the free chair behind the secretary’s desk.

Gabriel laughs, unwrapping a lollipop. “I didn’t know it needed saying, to be honest. I thought everyone knew Sam. And I thought you would, especially, seeing as you’re sheriff.”

“I only ran for sheriff because you forced me to,” Castiel reminds him. “I still don’t know how I got elected--Anna and Zachariah are both much more in touch with the people.”

“That is a blatant falsehood. I’m pretty sure they don’t even understand what having emotion is. So, I take it you recited your speech to Sam? Did you remember to mention that I’m also grateful?”

Castiel closes his eyes. “I didn’t remember any of it.”

Gabriel blinks. “You thought he was that good looking, huh?”

“Clearly.”

“Wow.” Gabriel pauses, sucking on his lollipop for a second before pulling it out of his mouth and saying, “I’m sorry, little brother, but that is the most hilarious thing I’ve heard in at least the past year.”

“You would find it funny,” Castiel says dryly, glaring at Gabriel.

“At least it has a pretty simple solution,” Gabriel points out. “All you have to do is ask him out.”

Castiel’s skin visibly pales. Gabriel bursts into laughter.

1800 hours
Winchester Mechanics

Dean perks up when the staff entrance to the office swings open and Sam walks through, holding familiar white takeout boxes. “I come bearing food,” he declares, and Dean makes victory arms at him.

“Awesome. Did you bring me a cheeseburger?”

Sam shakes his head. “Cheeseburgers on Fridays only,” he reiterates for the thousandth time. “I brought the new budget and quote writeups for you to look over, though.”

Dean wrinkles his nose. “Later. Sit down, tell me about your day. I’ve been bored to tears.”

“Castiel came into the diner this morning,” Sam says.

Dean’s eyebrows shoot up. “How did he look?” he asks, opening one of the containers and picking out a lettuce leaf to eye it in distaste.

“A lot better than the last time I saw him. Of course, he was kind of bleeding out at the time, so anything is an improvement over that.”

“He was released from the hospital a week ago, Sam.” Dean rolls his eyes. “I’ve actually been wondering when he’d show up at the diner to talk to you. He had to have been informed that you’re the one who found him and called 911.”

“Yeah, that’s the funny part. He didn’t really talk to me. Just sat at a table and drank coffee for about forty-five minutes before leaving. Left me a really great tip, though.”

Dean frowns. “Maybe the fact that you’re a giant scared him away.”

“Or maybe he actually recognized me as the creepy little freshman that had a crush on him when he was a senior.”

“Please, Sammy,” Dean says, “you totally still have that crush on him. Not even four years at Stanford could cure you of that.”

“Shut up, Dean.”

Day 4 -- Friday

0930 hours
Luci’s Diner

“Listen, Sam, all I need you to do is convince him that my menu changes are the way to go. He’ll listen to you.”

Sam rolls his eyes. “Yeah, and then he’ll want some sort of compensation, likely in the form of touching my ass. Talk to your brother yourself, Michael. And give me the freaking sheriff’s order, the poor man has been sitting out there for half an hour.”

“Hold your horses,” Michael grouses. “I’m just trying to give him time to finally work up the nerve to say whatever he’s been sitting there trying to spit out all week.”

“Ever considered that maybe he just wants to eat breakfast?”

“Order up, idiot.” Michael pushes a plate across the counter to Sam, who picks it up and carries it out to the same corner booth that Castiel has been sitting in every morning since Tuesday.

“Your french toast,” Sam announces, putting it down in front of Castiel. “You know, I really like how you don’t order the same thing every day. Keeps me guessing.”

“I would find it boring to eat the same thing every morning,” Castiel says, trying to avoid direct eye contact by fiddling with his spoon.

Sam nods. “Makes sense. Hey, uh--how have you been feeling lately?”

Castiel looks up at that. “I’ve been doing fairly well. I’m still supposed to take it easy, but I haven’t been in too much pain.” He pauses, intending to say something about how he owes Sam for a lot of that, but Sam interrupts his thought process.

“Good! That’s really good. So are you free tonight? Because a bunch of us are going to the Roadhouse and I thought you might like to come with.” Sam fidgets with the edge of the pocket in the front of his apron. What the fuck is he doing? This is not a good idea.

“I... will have to check my schedule,” Castiel says.

“Okay, well, we should be there anytime after eight. Dean and Jo’ll be on call, but that--um. That’s not important. I hope to see you, okay? Let me know if you need anything else for your breakfast.”

“I will,” Castiel says, and Sam ducks back into the kitchen, trying not to hyperventilate.

2025 hours
Sheriff’s Department

Balthazar flips a pen between his fingers and clicks it in the same rhythm as the ticking of the clock. “Cas,” he starts, “not to be a bother, but why are you still here?”

“I work here,” Castiel says.

“Sure, and you insist on being on duty like ninety percent of the time, but you do know that you don’t need to be in the office 24/7?”

“I am aware.”

Balthazar sighs and exchanges an exasperated look with Rachel from across the room.

“Castiel,” Rachel says.

“Yes, Rachel?” Castiel asks, finally looking up from the file he’s reading.

“I think you should go down to the Roadhouse. I hear there’s going to be quite the gathering tonight.”

“What does that have to do with my du--”

“Shut up, Cassy,” Balthazar interrupts. “The guy who saved your life invited you to go to the bar with him. Stop playing dumb and get your ass downtown.”

“Nothing of import is going to happen here tonight and you know it,” Rachel adds helpfully.

Castiel glares at them both. They stare back. After a good minute, Balthazar breaks the silence with “What are you so afraid of?”

He looks down at his desk. “What if I make a fool of myself? Every time I’ve heard Sam speak, he’s been engaging in intelligent conversation and being sociable with people at the diner. How am I supposed to measure up to that?”

Balthazar bites his lip, actively trying not to laugh. Rachel shoots a look at him. “Cas, you’re not stupid. A bit awkward, yes, but you’re hardly going to pale in comparison to Winchester. And Balthazar makes a good point. He did save your life, and you still haven’t even said thank you.”

Castiel sighs, then stands up and grabs his coat off the back of his chair, swinging it around his shoulders. “I sincerely hope I don’t regret this later, because you two will be the ones to pay for it.”

2042 hours
The Roadhouse

“He’s not going to come.”

Jo rolls her eyes. “It’s okay,” she tells Sam. “You said you told him anytime after eight. He could still show up.”

Sam snorts and takes a swig from his beer bottle, finishing it off. “It’s almost nine, Jo. He’s not going to come.”

“He’s the sheriff,” Jo points out. “He’s a busy man!”

“The only place he could feasibly be busy tonight is here. Where half the town is.”

Jo purses her lips. “You are so infuriating. I can’t believe I’m friends with you.”

Sam looks at her, tilting his head and screwing up his eyebrows. “Are we friends? Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

Jo punches his shoulder. “Asshole. Do you want me to buy the next round or not?”

“I want you to, yeah.”

“Then stop being a jerk,” she says, but she’s already gesturing to her mother to bring them more drinks.

“Sheriff’s still not here, I see,” Ellen says, pushing two bottles across the bar top.

“Nope,” Jo agrees. “This one is well on his way to heartbreak hotel about it, too.”

“M’not,” Sam mutters, staring down into his drink morosely.

Ellen raises her eyebrows at Jo, who rolls her eyes dramatically and turns to survey the bar. She spots a familiar head of black hair sporting a grey overcoat and gasps excitedly, elbowing at Sam. “Hey, Sammy, stop moping into your beer. Look who just walked in the door!”

“Huh?” Sam asks, turning in his seat. “Oh. Whoa.”

“I told you!” Jo crows triumphantly. “Now get over there before he runs away to whatever cave he hides in all the time.”

Sam hops off his barstool and pushes his way through the crowd of people over to Castiel, who does, in fact, look like he’s thinking about running right back out the door.

“Cas!” Sam calls, waving. “Glad to see you could make it!”

“Yes,” Castiel says, pulling on his tie nervously. “I hope I am not too late.”

Sam waves a dismissive hand. “No, no, of course not. Here, lemme buy you a drink.”

Day 5 -- Saturday

0212 hours
Sam’s Apartment

Sam fumbles his keys into the lock and manages to open the door without dropping them, which he considers a resounding success with one arm occupied with steadying a very drunk Castiel. “Okay, Cas, just come this way.”

“Y’have a nice apartment,” Castiel slurs, stumbling over the threshold. Sam catches and steadies him with a hand on his chest.

“Not sure how you can tell with your eyes closed, dude, but thank you.” He leads Castiel carefully over to the couch, pushing him down on it and ordering him not to move. “I’m going to get you some water. Did I mention that you’re a serious lightweight? Because you’re a serious lightweight.”

“I weigh the average amount for a fully grown man of my height,” Castiel says from the couch.

Sam snorts. “You also stink,” he informs Cas. “I think you may have spilled more beer on your coat than you drank.”

This comment causes Cas to frown and study his coat for a moment before deciding that he needs to take it off and subsequently flailing around trying to dislodge his arms from the sleeves. Sam stands a distance away, watching him in amusement. “Do you need--”

“No,” Castiel says, finally getting free from the coat and throwing it on the floor with a look of contempt.

Sam stifles a laugh. “Here,” he says, holding a glass of water out to Castiel, who takes it gingerly.

“Thank you.” He goes to take a sip before seeming to remember something, his eyes widening and his hand shooting out to grab Sam’s wrist. “Sam,” he says, “Sam, I need to tell you something.”

Sam blinks down at Castiel’s hand. “Okay, go for it.”

Castiel doesn’t say anything for a moment. Sam stares at him, hardly daring to breathe in anticipation. Cas opens his mouth, Sam leans forward a bit in case he talks too quietly--

And Castiel vomits on the floor.

“I see,” Sam says.

Day 7 -- Monday

0930 hours
Luci’s Diner

When Sam walks into the diner Monday morning, Castiel is already sitting at his customary booth, facing away from the door. Ruby is hovering next to the table holding a coffee pot, and Castiel pushes his cup toward her without looking up.

Sam walks over to the table, nodding to Ruby as she disappears back to the kitchen and sliding in across from Castiel, who looks up in surprise. “Sam,” he says, “I was told you don’t work on Mondays.”

“I don’t, and I’m not working,” Sam replies. “I came to see you. You weren’t there when I woke up on Saturday.”

Cas visibly flinches. “Sorry, I--”

“It’s okay, Cas.” Sam shoots a smile across the table. “I get it.”

Castiel nods and looks down at his drink, spinning the mug around. “I really must apologize, though. You invited me out and I made a fool of myself.”

“It’s okay,” Sam insists. “Happens to the best of us. But hey, how about as an apology, you tell me whatever it was you wanted to say before you managed to puke everywhere and promptly pass out?”

Castiel’s eyebrows furrow. “I--oh.”

Sam gestures for him to continue.

“I wanted to tell you--well. Thank you for saving my life. They told me that your first aid training and quick action in calling 911 was what kept me alive, so thank you.”

“Uh, well--the first aid training is thanks to Dean, really, he made me study with him for his EMT training so I’m like one step away from taking a Hippocratic Oath, and it was really by chance that I happened to be driving down the back road as a break from all the paperwork for the garage, and--”

“Sam,” Castiel interrupts, covering one of Sam’s hand on the table with his. “Listen. When I got shot by that driver, everything just seemed to blank out. All I could focus on was how much pain I was in, and then I got a glimpse of the sky even though I was sure I had fallen face down, and I thought I was definitely about to die.

“But then I heard your voice,” Castiel says, staring resolutely at the table top instead of looking at Sam. “And it was like an anchor to this world. I thought maybe I was hearing God, honestly, telling me to keep on fighting. There was the first aid, yes, but I think it was actually you talking more than anything else.”

Sam stares at Castiel. “I--wow,” he says softly.

“Gabriel also extends his gratitude, by the way,” Castiel adds. “He’ll kill me if he hears I finally thanked you and forgot to say that.”

Sam laughs. “So is that what you’ve been trying to tell me since last Tuesday? Just thank you?”

Castiel pauses. He thinks that maybe this would be a good time to ask Sam out on an actual date as Gabriel had suggested, but he can’t seem to open his mouth again. Instead, he just nods. Sam smiles at him.

Day 8 -- Wednesday

1100 hours
Sheriff’s Department

“More than a week of diner breakfasts and one night out on the town with the guy, and you still haven’t confessed your feelings. Tut tut, little bro,” Gabriel says, grinning around his chocolate bar.

“Do me a favour and shut up,” Castiel says.

“It is a bit sad,” Zachariah comments from his desk.

“You are not exempt from that order.”

Zach rolls his eyes. “I don’t know what you’re so freaked out about. You puked on the guy’s floor and slept on his couch only to do a walk of shame that wasn’t really a walk of shame because you slept on the couch. You even got the awkward ‘I equate you with God because you saved my life’ talk out of the way. He’s obviously interested in you.”

Castiel scowls at her. “How does any of that equal romantic attraction?”

Zachariah opens his mouth to reply, but Anna interrupts with “It doesn’t, but Sam’s had it bad for you since high school.”

All three of the men stare at her. “How do you know that?” Gabriel asks.

She shrugs. “Dean and I used to have a thing for awhile. He mentioned it once, said Sam drove him insane going on about Castiel’s blue eyes and shit.”

Gabriel barks a laugh. Zachariah makes a face. “We need to have a talk about your proclivity for younger men again,” he says.

Castiel ignores the ensuing argument, trying to pretend he’s not internally shouting with glee.

1300 hours
Winchester Mechanics

“Sam, I could really use your help on the floor,” Dean says from the doorway to the garage, wiping his hands on a grease rag.

“Not a chance in hell,” Sam says, but he’s already making one last note on his paper and getting up to put on his jumpsuit. “This better not be some huge project.”

“Nah, just a little something that’ll go smoother with four hands,” Dean assures him. “Besides, we need to get in our brotalk time or whatever the fuck we’re calling it now. You’ve been acting weird since Monday.”

Sam makes a face, grabbing his gloves. “You haven’t even been around.”

“A brother knows,” Dean says, throwing the rag at Sam, who catches it. “Talk.”

“Cas said thank you,” Sam says, fiddling with the rag while Dean leans over the engine of a car. “For saving his life. He said my voice was what kept him fighting.”

“Sappy,” Dean says. “Why haven’t you fucked yet?” He holds out a hand and Sam passes him a wrench.

Sam shrugs. “I dunno. He still comes into the diner every morning just before nine-thirty, still orders breakfast, still makes small talk with me.”

“Well, he’s clearly sticking around even after the whole thank you is out of the way. Looks like a green light to me, Sammy, and God knows you need to get laid.”

“You make it sound so simple,” Sam complains.

Dean snorts, handing Sam the wrench back and waiting for Sam to give him a different tool. “That’s because it is that simple, Sam. You’re two grown ass men. Use your words. Now get over here and hold this so I can work properly.”

Sam rolls his eyes. “Yes, sir.”

Dean grins and slaps Sam on the back. “That’s what I like to hear!”

Day 9 -- Thursday

0930 hours
Luci’s Diner

“Cas!”

“Sam,” Castiel says. He’s standing at the entrance to the diner, grinning at Sam.

“You’re almost late,” Sam teases. “What do you want for breakfast today? I’ll put your order in so you’re not waiting for a year.”

“Well, actually,” Cas says, walking toward Sam, coat swishing behind him, “I thought today I might just take my waiter.”

Sam blinks. “That was--that’s pretty... is that a slick come on?”

Castiel stops walking a good foot from Sam. “It was Gabriel’s idea,” he admits. “Is it not effective?”

“Well, Dean suggested I just throw you down on a table, so...” Sam trails off, biting his lip.

Ruby walks by and takes the coffee pot Sam is holding from his hand. “Tip for the two dumbasses? This is the part where you kiss and live happily ever after.”

And so they do.