The first time Sam noticed it was when he and Dean were researching how to kill some weird alcohol-related Japanese ghost thing. Trouble was, it wasn’t tied to a body, so this wasn’t a case of find and torch the remains. Sam was figuring that they needed to take some kind of sword to the thing, and they’d tried iron already, but it had just sort of giggled and wandered off to wash its hair, or whatever ghosts did when they weren’t feeling vengeful.
After two hours of fruitlessly going through every possible thing they could think of to slash up a ghost with, Sam flopped down on his bed in frustration and stole Dean’s beer. Dean stole it back, and threw dirty socks at him in retaliation.
“Give it up, dude. We’ll just have to call the angels on it. It’s as the air invulnerable, and our vain blows?” He took a swig, jabbed a finger at Sam and finished, “Malicious mockery.”
(They called the angels. Castiel burned the spirit away. Gabriel perched helpfully on a keg and provided sarcastic commentary, then pounced on Dean afterward for a blowjob that Sam narrowly missed witnessing due to some clever evasive action.)
The next time, they were interrogating a very unhelpful witness-slash-suspect who didn’t seem to realise just how much damage her stupid little magical dabblings were doing in people’s lives, and who also seemed determined to break some sort of number-of-bad-jokes-made-about-Sam’s-hair-in-half-an-hour record. Sam was this close to just giving up and tearing the girl a new one when Dean bumped his shoulder against him, said a charming “Excuse us,” to the witness, and took Sam aside.
“Hey, Sammy. Cool it, okay?” Then he wiggled his eyebrows. “Cool it with baboon’s blood, then the charm is firm and good.”
“… Okay?” Sam said carefully.
Dean grinned at him manically. “Get it? Charm? For dealing with witnesses?”
Sam blinked at him cautiously.
Dean rolled his eyes. “Forget it. Jeez, crack a book sometime, would you?”
Sam’s thought processes derailed into something that looked like “…”
After a moment, he realised this was probably a moment for a sensitive brotherly Talk, so he put an understanding hand on Dean’s shoulder. “Dean. Has Gabriel. Did Gabriel. Put the hex back on you?”
“Or did he maybe do anything to you? Anything traumatic.”
“Don’t make me deck you while we’re interviewing a witness, Sammy.”
“Dean. I’m pretty sure that was Macbeth.”
“So sue me. Shakespeare’s badass, man.”
Sam’s brain did the “…” thing again.
“… So you remember Shakespeare’s entire works?” he tried cautiously, focussing on the last terrifying part of this conversation.
Dean shrugged. “He downloaded it all into my brain, or something. Not like he went through and deleted it after, he just stopped everything I said from re-routing through that. We done?”
Sam gave him the narrow stare of who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-brother that both of them had perfected over the years.
“What?” Dean protested. “Sometimes it’s handy!”
“… Handy,” Sam repeated, in abject terror. “Handy how?”
Gabriel popped in a couple of days later, to tip them off about a hunt he’d got wind of on his latest Trickster gig.
“Hey, guys. A word with one of you?”
Dean, already all loose and relaxed from the third beer, tipped his chair back and stretched, one long line of lazy muscle and tight shirt. “Just one word with one of us? Couple it with something. Make it a word and a blow.”
Gabriel’s grin turned wolfish. “You shall find me apt enough to that, sir, if you will give me occasion.”
… Sam was pretty sure that wasn’t what Shakespeare had meant by that line.
It took another two hours to get all the info out of Gabriel, and Sam spent most of that in the parking lot, fuming.
“Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite,” Dean purred in Gabriel’s ear.
“I have begun, and now I give my sensual race the rein,” Sam heard, in a low energetic growl, and he hastily let go of the handle of the bathroom door.
“Who is it that says most which can say more than this rich praise: that you alone are you?” came Dean’s dark murmur. The air felt kind of breathless, charged and waiting, and Sam buried his face in the pillow and tried hard to pretend he was asleep and not to think of heads tipped back in silent plea and mouths trailing hot trails along throats. It was really difficult, especially when Gabriel’s breathing went shallow in the dark, and Dean’s words came out all muffled against skin: “To me, fair friend, you never can be old; for as you were when first your eye I eyed, such seems your beauty still.”
“Away to heaven, respective lenity, and fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!”
Sam really didn’t need a lengthy demonstration of just how hard they could bang the headboard against the wall while he was trying to sleep.
The next seven times… kind of had a common theme.
“Cas,” Sam hissed at the ceiling. “You gotta help me, man. I think the Apocalypse might be back on the rails.”
Castiel whooshed into existence, blinking owlishly. “Sam. Why are you wearing cupcake footie pyjamas?”
Sam blushed furiously, and grabbed the counterpane off the motel bed as a very important modesty wrap. “We haven’t hit a landromat lately, okay?”
Castiel eyed his legs in a way that made Sam horribly sure he was using angelic x-ray vision. “What is the significance of the embroidery that reads ‘I Love Lollipops!!!!’ over the crotch?”
Sam was surrounded by madmen.
“Forget the pyjamas! Dean’s quoting Shakespeare. Willingly. I’m pretty sure that’s bigger than any Horseman.”
Castiel flicked on his ‘dear me, the world appears to be ending’ face. It was marginally darker than his ‘dear me, Dean appears to have stubbed his toe’ face, and slightly less drawn around the eyes than his ‘please stop waving cheeseburgers in front of my nose, Dean’ face. “Under what circumstances has he been quoting Shakespeare?”
Sam’s feet were very interesting. They merited a good deal of study. “Um. Mostly when he and Gabriel are, you know. Being noisy. In the next hotel room. Or in the bathroom. Or that one time in the back of the Impala. And that other time when Gabriel snuck under the table in a diner.”
Castiel still looked confused.
“He said it… um. Gets Gabriel interested,” Sam paraphrased very broadly. “Apparently Gabriel has a thing for Dean’s voice, which, I don’t even know, I’m not going there. You know what, forget it, maybe we should just smack them both in the head until they stop and let me get some sleep.”
Castiel gave this due consideration. “Perhaps it has Romantic Significance for them? Considering the circumstances of their first… amorous encounter?”
“Blowjob, Cas,” Sam supplied helpfully. “And, come on, romance? Them? Gabriel never sticks around except to pull Dean’s pigtails, and Dean spends all of his time pushing Gabriel’s buttons, and sure, they use all this flowery language when they’re… you know… but as soon as it’s over, that’s it, gone. They’re not exactly in a loving, committed relationship here.”
Castiel’s forehead contracted into the Brow of Impending Apocalypse. “Sam. We must conduct research.”
Two minutes later, he reappeared, and placed a dour seventeenth-century tome on the table. Sam gulped and stared with trepidation at the fantastically knobbled spine, at the heavy brass clasps that locked it shut, at the sheer weight and breadth of it, at Castiel’s grim face. All manner of terrible hexes and love curses and death-by-obsession spells raced through his head, and also the prospect of sitting in here for another eighteen hours straight reading a badly printed book with an angel who would stare reproachfully at him every time he got up to use the bathroom.
“What is it?” he asked, and his voice croaked shamefully.
Wordlessly, wearing his best serious eyebrows, Castiel opened the book to the title page.
“…” Sam said, quite reasonably in his opinion.
“Sam,” Castiel said, and turned on his judgemental face, which was entirely uncalled-for. “We need to know what we’re up against.”
“Can we go back to the ‘smack them both in the head’ plan?” Sam asked forlornly. “I liked that plan.”
Being held down and forced to watch three vampires feeding on Sam always put Dean in a foul mood.
Sam wasn’t actually at his most cheerful either, really, so Gabriel got a ten-minute ear-full about his habit of leaving things to the last minute just so that he could sit around being all smug at them afterwards and demand rescue sex from Sam’s brother, which, by the way, he was definitely not getting tonight, even if Sam had to angel-proof the entire freaking motel.
Gabriel just sort of gaped through it. For some reason, he seemed to think that Sam was usually the nice one.
“Hey,” he yelled belatedly at Sam’s back when Sam ran out of words and breath and stormed off to find the syringes of dead man’s blood that had been dropped in the scuffle. “Hey. Still not your pet guard dog, Winchester.”
“Dude. No one’s listening,” Dean growled from the corner, where he was wiping blood off his machetes. “Might as well shut your cakehole.”
Gabriel rolled his eyes, and leaped at once into the more familiar fray. “What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?”
Dean levelled him with a glare of ‘no thanks to you’. “Like Disdain’s gonna die when she’s got something like you hanging around to feed on? And you’re still not getting any, even if you go all Bard of Avon on me.”
Gabriel’s smirk had an edge to it. “Hey, not a problem. It’s been a while since I went out looking to score – I was getting bored. But it is certain I am loved by every pretty little thing that wanders through a gay bar or gay crisis, so, hey, why settle? Truly I love none.”
“Um, guys?” Sam ventured carefully.
One machete landed with a sharp clatter in Dean’s duffle. “A dear happiness to men,” he snapped back. “They would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I am of your humour for that: I had rather hear a dog bark at a crow than an angel swear he loves me.”
Gabriel went very still for a moment, then slid into a sneer. “God keep your lordship still in that mind, so some gentleman or other shall ‘scape a predestinate scratched face.”
“You guys do realise that you’re using this whole Shakespeare-quoting thing to avoid actually talking to each other?” Sam put in helpfully, and was entirely ignored.
Dean bared his teeth and grinned darkly through the blood drying on his face. “Scratching couldn’t make it worse if it were such a face as yours.”
Gabriel gaped for a moment, which Sam thought was a bit rich, because he’d kind of started that scene, and if he’d wanted to actually win an argument he should have known better than to let Dean have Beatrice’s lines. Then he whirled on Sam, and cheated by skipping scenes.
“Will you command me any service to the world’s end?” he growled, eyes glinting yellow and dangerous in the half-light of the bloodied cellar. “I will go on the slightest errand now to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on. I will fetch you a toothpicker now from the furthest inch of Hell, fetch you a hair off Odin’s beard, do you any embassage to the leprechauns, rather than hold three words’ conference with this harpy!”
“Dude,” Sam said cautiously. “Just… get rid of the bodies, yeah? And maybe turn up a bit sooner next time?”
Gabriel rolled his eyes, like he was surrounded by idiots, and vanished. He didn’t take the bodies with him.
“You know,” Sam mused, offering Castiel the bottle of Jack. “I think the whole Beatrice and Benedict thing could be the way to go.”
Castiel blinked thoughtfully, or possibly vaguely, or possibly judgementally, and chugged the rest of the bottle. Then he frowned at it until it refilled itself, and handed it back to Sam.
“Y’know,” Sam mumbled, and poured himself another shot. “The whole. Making them think the other one was. Thing. Until they work it out. And ‘fess up.”
“Forcing a confession? Wasn’t that Gabriel’s original intention?” Castiel pointed out gently, and caught the bottle on Sam’s third attempt to set it down on the table. “I believe we agreed his methods in that case left something to be desired.”
“Yesbut,” Sam pointed out, reasonably and eloquently. “Basicflaw in’s method there. Which. Which.” He waved one finger in the air, to demonstrate. “You. Dean. Dean not being in love with you. You not being in love with Dean. Gabriel being a stubborn ass and notlistening whenwesaid that.”
Castiel gave him that slow, dark look that Sam was gradually deciding meant “I find you amusing and am rather fond of you but feel like I ought to disapprove of your actions right now, so I will pretend that I don’t.” Then he leaned in, and carefully tucked the hair falling into Sam’s eyes back behind his ear, which sort of spoiled the effect.
“There is that, of course.”
“Soweneed a Plan,” Sam slurred a bit. “A very cunning plan.”
“To bring Gabriel and Dean into a mountain of affection th’one with th’other,” Castiel provided helpfully.
Sam stared at him with despairing betrayal.
Castiel frowned. This one was the pouty frown, which was kind of terrifying to see on a being millions of years old who had rebelled against Heaven and dived into the fires of the Pit to fetch the corrupted soul of the Righteous Man and thrown a holy-oil Molotov at the First Archangel of the Lord.
“I thought it was pretty,” he muttered.
“I don’t even think they know what they were fighting about,” Sam confessed sadly to the girl beside him at the bar. “I mean, my brother, he’s this real snark-and-swagger type mostly, and if he’s really got something to say you can be sure as hell he’ll say it, but with G- with this sort-of-boyfriend? It’s like he’s actually gone and lost his head. Can’t even remember why he’s meant to be angry. Only time I’ve ever seen him like that before is, well.” He wrinkled his nose, and gave her an apologetic sort of grimace. “With me.”
She scoffed, twirled the toothpick between her fingers, then pointed it at him like a tiny and well-endowed Cupid who’d decided to turn in his bow and arrow for even tinier spears. “You think your brother’s in love with this guy just because they have pointless shouting matches? Babe, I don’t know what world you’re living in, but down here that’s pretty much always a sign that everyone’s about to run for the hills. Or bring out the chainsaw.”
Sam shook his head, and turned the woeful puppy-dog eyes of drowning-my-sorrows-over-my-idiot-brother on her. “This is my brother we’re talking about. Anger’s pretty much the only feeling he ever admits to himself that he’s got. Well, that and pie-related lust.” He stopped to ponder this for a moment, nibbling on a peanut. “And that’s the other thing. He’s never had a meaningful relationship that involves sex before. Caring about someone he’s actually doing the dirty with is probably breaking his brain.”
“Oh, because that sounds healthy,” the girl muttered, in a way that seemed to be meant for sympathetic but ended up halfway to hurt.
“And my brother, of course,” Sam blathered on, pitching the cheerful indifference of several beers and the guy whose whole world is so focussed on one thing that he doesn’t realise he’s actually bending a stranger’s ear over something they can’t possibly care about, “he’s got this whole stoic refusal to believe that anyone could actually love him going on. Thinks he’s such a terrible guy, like everything that goes wrong in the world is his fault, so the more he likes someone the less he’s going to believe he deserves something like that.”
He peeked up at the girl, surreptitious under his lashes. She was staring off into the distance, and the sharp-edged little twist to her mouth was one Sam had seen more than a few times before.
It wasn’t coincidence, of course, that Gabriel often just happened to find Trickster-style jobs to take care of in towns or cities where the Winchesters just happened to be hanging around lately. Still, this town had a population upward of twenty thousand, and Sam didn’t officially know Gabriel was in town, and Castiel’s reconaissance had been very sneaky. So there was absolutely no reason why Sam grumbling about his idiot of a brother to a sympathetic dark-haired slip of a thing in a nice quiet bar on the outskirts of town should be suspicious. Hell, he hadn’t even had to come up with an excuse to start the conversation – she’d hopped up onto the stool next to him five minutes after he’d come in, told him cheerfully right up front that she liked girls but wanted some eye candy anyway and he looked like he needed a drink, and proceeded to be... actually quite good company.
It kind of made the suspicious part of Sam’s mind wonder how many other people they wandered by on a daily basis were actually Gabriel in a different hat (or, well, skirt). But right now it was convenient, so, hey, not arguing.
“I just wish,” Sam opined innocently, “that Dean was the sort of guy who could man up and admit it, you know? I know he loves him, and I know he’s hurting badly, but unless Ga- his not-boyfriend ‘fesses up first, Dean’s never going to give him an opening like that.” He leaned in conspiratorially, letting his limbs fall a bit loose and sloppy as he did, and informed the not-really-a-girl, “Gabriel could rip him up from the inside, and Dean knows it.”
“Uh-huh.” She was very busy, stirring her drink. Apparently there were some invisible specks down the bottom that needed to be broken up. “And what about this other dude? You think he’s… is there anything there, d’you think?”
“Honestly?” Sam grimaced, and watched with glee as the slim fingers stilled against the glass. “I like the guy, I really do. And I’m pretty sure he’s not… not indifferent, you know. And they could get on really well – hell, sometimes they do. And I think they could be really good for each other.” He considered for a moment. “Terrifying – I mean, the prank wars alone – but good.”
Honey-gold eyes were sharp and wary behind the sympathetic smile. “But?”
“But,” Sam sighed, a sigh of terrible woeful reproach, a sigh of one who sees a beloved brother condemned to heartache of truly Shakespearean proportions but just can’t see any way around the dilemma. “I don’t know, I just think he’s… not really ready for anything serious. Kind of get the impression he’s… um. Too used to playing around. Wouldn’t recognise a good thing when he had it.”
She tossed back the rest of her drink, movements quick and jerky. “Poor guys,” she said, without inflection. “Your brother actually say anything to you about this, or are you just putting it together?”
Damn. Um. He needed something at least, or this could all be brushed aside as Sam going into over-protective brother mode.
He shook his head, kind of fond, and laid a hint. “I kind of wormed it out of him. Turns out the reason it’s got worse just now is that they’re falling into this habit of – uh – sweet-talking. Dean said it felt… what was it… ‘too flattering-sweet to be substantial.’” He chuckled, pretending to take her flinch and stare as incredulity, and silently congratulated himself on remembering some of the words Castiel had rubbed his nose into. “Yeah, he’s been on this quotation binge lately, I don’t even know.”
“… Okay,” the girl who was definitely not Gabriel at all managed. Then, “Y’know what? I think I’m going to. Er. Smoke. Later, Treebeard!”
She escaped, out the back, which was a stupid direction to head for a smoke.
Limed, I warrant you, Sam thought gleefully. Then he was tempted to smack himself in the head.
Castiel was watching the motel room door like a hawk – or, well, presumably watching whatever was outside it, which would be Dean in a moment because he’d driven out five minutes ago and would have realised two and a half minutes ago that he’d left his wallet here (thanks to sneaky invisible angel fingers), and wallets were kind of useful on a dinner run.
The Impala growled her way into the parking space outside; Castiel tilted his head; the car door creaked and slammed; Castiel’s eyes tracked a movement Sam couldn’t see through the wall; then he nodded.
Sam cleared his throat, and raised his voice just enough that Dean should be able to hear it from the other side of the door.
“You serious, man? You really think Gabriel’s – well – in love with him?”
“I am not accustomed to joking about my brother’s heart, Sam,” Castiel said, and Sam had expected him to be stiff and awkward about this given how crap his acting was on cases, but right now he was hitting that familiar mild-but-edging-on-impatient tone dead centre. “It’s Dean’s ability to handle it with sensitivity that concerns me.”
Sam made a thoughtful noise, the sort he made when he was flipping back through case data in his head because new evidence had come to light. “Yeah, well, you know Dean. Hey, you know, that kind of makes sense. I mean, Gabriel teases you and me, sure, and helps out when we ask – well, mostly – well, sometimes – but he doesn’t practically rearrange the whole world for us like he does for Dean. At the same time as pulling his pigtails and kicking him in the shins.”
He took a sip of the hot chocolate Castiel had thoughtfully brought along (what, it was a guilty pleasure, and Sam didn’t get to indulge much because Dean’s hilarity was epic), and took advantage of the pause to search his head for more ammunition.
“And the only times I’ve got a glimpse of the real archangel, you know, when he drops all the joking crap and you can see the glow underneath, it’s been because of Dean. That time he angelled out when we were almost too late finding him in Ohio two months back. And breaking into that Djinn’s illusion to lure him out. And those times Dean really took him to task over the whole Apocalypse thing.” For the benefit of the Dean currently listening outside the motel door, Sam added, solemn with glee, “Which totally makes sense, now I come to think of it. They’re pretty similar in some ways, and Dean’s always kind of loved and hated being told what to do.”
“I remember,” Castiel agreed, with equal gravity, while his eyes sparkled. Sam was only just beginning to pick up on those moments when Castiel was doing his silent laughter thing, and he’d already decided that he really liked it.
Then Castiel spoiled what was no doubt a perfect bitch face being aimed at the door handle outside by saying, almost pensively, “But if you’re suggesting this is merely an infatuation due to Gabriel’s discovery in Dean of a new moral compass, or of an authority figure to replace what he has lost, I’m afraid I must disagree. They do have a friendship, and a strong one, when it is not obscured by frustrations and feigned superficiality. And fellatio,” he added, meticulously correct in his assembly of the data. “Gabriel’s regard for your brother is sincere, and runs deeper perhaps than either of them is aware.”
He leaned forward and raised his voice, just a bit, because this was the part they’d agreed Dean had to hear. “Will you go to Dean, Sam, and tell him of this? Gabriel will not speak: his mask of levity is too heavy, and too fragile.”
Sam snorted into his mug. “Hell no I won’t.” Then, after a moment, as Castiel sipped his own mug placidly: “Oh, come on, Cas,” Sam said, like he was responding to a glower or a look of interrogation. “You know Dean. What do you think he’d do? Not like he’s going to man up and let the guy down gentle, or anything like that. He’s kind of a kid about ‘all that feelings crap,’ even now. He’d give Gabriel hell for it.” He considered for a moment, then took advantage of the fact that Dean was eavesdropping and therefore couldn’t protest to add, “And I’m not talking just a friendly kind of a ribbing either. Dean can be vicious when he’s uncomfortable, or thinks he might have screwed up.”
Castiel sighed. “Perhaps you are right.” He settled his elbows on his knees and wrapped both hands around his mug, spine settling into one of those more relaxed, more human curves that he’d been picking up on lately. “More than any of my brethren, Gabriel has been very lonely for a very long time.”
Castiel had this gift for saying things in a very simple way. Sam hoped Dean had caught that one. There was a catch and a drag under the gravel-dark rumble of the angel’s voice that sounded absolutely sincere, and kind of devastating.
Sam was suddenly reminded of Gabriel just coming up to him in the bar last night with no apparent purpose other than to chat. No flirting, no screwing with him, no digging for info, not even dropping hints to see if Sam could work it out. Just to have a conversation.
He cleared his throat. “You… um. You think he’d take it badly if Dean seriously tried to screw with him about this?”
Castiel shot Sam an unreadable look over his mug. “Gabriel is the Messenger, the bearer of the voice of our Father, and adept at twisting language into more subtle uses. He has always been… moved by words.”
Sam blinked. “Hold on. So all this, this whole Shakespeare kink of theirs – right from the start, actually, trying to get the two of you together by making Dean go all flowery and declare himself in big fancy words like that would make it mean more…” His mind was racing, and he suddenly hoped very much that Castiel was wrong about the door being thin enough for Dean to hear every word. “The way he goes all soft and incredulous whenever Dean uses all those words like that – words Gabriel gave him in the first place –”
“It allows himself to imagine himself beloved,” Castiel said quietly.
Sam had the sinking feeling that they were sort of playing with a nice little inferno here.
Dean clambered back into the nice safe interior of his baby, for a silent little hysterical panic attack. A manly one.
No, but come on, seriously? Gabriel? Love? Fucking pining?
If it had just been Sam, Dean would have thought it was a joke. But he was pretty sure Castiel didn’t know how to joke about that sort of thing. And he’d sounded so serious. Like he really thought that Gabriel was… could… could have an emotion that big.
Gabriel. Mr Never–Take-Anything-Seriously. Mr Throwing-Candy-At-Dean’s-Head-Is-The-Best-Game-Ever. Mr Deadly-Pranks-Can-Fix-All-The-World’s-Problems. Mr Obnoxious-Crude-Jokes-Mid-Handjob-Set-The-Mood-Perfectly – okay, well, Dean might be with him on that one. Mr Giving-Sam-Herpes-Is-The-Perfect-Way-To-Make-My-Point. Mr It’s-Impossible-To-Stay-In-A-Bad-Mood-With-Me-Around. Mr I-Ran-Away-Because-I-Loved-My-Brothers-Too-Much-To-Watch-Them-Killing-Each-Other. Mr I-Just-Want-It-To-Be-Over, and Lucy-I’m-Home.
“Sir?” prompted the bored late-night barista. “You gonna pay for that?”
Dean blinked down at the takeaway coffee on the counter in front of him. Coffee. Kudos, subconscious brain. Coffee was an awesome idea.
Although, come to think of it, so was remembering to get your wallet from your motel room, instead of fleeing like a girl because you overheard your brother and your angel-friend talking about you.
“Crap,” he repeated out loud, and pawed through his pockets anyway.
A very familiar hand slapped a ten-dollar note down on the counter and stole his coffee, while its mirror image fastened on his elbow. Gabriel tipped his head back and drank at least half the scalding liquid at one go, shoved the cup back into Dean’s hands while Dean blinked and tried to decide between getting indignant and getting hard (hey, it was sort of Pavlovian by now, okay?), then told the startled barista brightly “Keep the change!” and hustled Dean toward the farthest, obscurest corner.
“Um,” Dean tried, intelligently, because he was sort of used to either yelling at or making out with Gabriel, and he had to work kind of hard to convince his body that neither of these were a good idea right now. Especially when he didn’t actually know what the alternative was. And was maybe kind of panicking a bit.
He slid into a chair obediently, then jabbed his finger at Gabriel’s weirdly unreadable face and tried a grin. It felt kind of sickly. “You have done me much ungentleness, thus to drink my coffee.”
Gabriel’s eyebrows climbed. Then he snorted. “I care not if I have. It is my study to seem despiteful and ungentle to you.”
(Yeah, sure. In love?)
Dean glowered at him, and wrapped both hands around his poor abused coffee. It was mysteriously full again, but these things happened around Gabriel.
Gabriel made a noise like a frustrated crow and glared at the window.
Dean eyed the formica of the tabletop. It looked like formica.
Gabriel’s fingers were twitching against it, like he was tempted to drum them but was remembering when Dean had thrown the whole sugar bowl at him in that diner the other day when he hadn’t stopped drumming his fingers for twenty minutes straight.
Okay, so that might have sort of been Dean’s fault for ignoring him for forty minutes straight.
“So, how’re you doing?” Gabriel asked abruptly.
Dean squinted at him. “Uh. Dude. You feeling okay?”
Gabriel’s eyes went wide, and kind of shifty. “Me? I’m fine. Why shouldn’t I be fine? How are you?”
“… Christo?” Dean tried carefully.
Gabriel snorted. “Owes me fifty bucks, the deadbeat. Also, hey!”
He kicked Dean under the table. Dean made a manly squawk and kicked him back. Then it occurred to him that he wasn’t being very sensitive, so he stopped and stammered something like “sorry, dude, wasn’t thinking.”
Coffee. Coffee was nice and easy. He drank some.
“So,” Gabriel said, so very hyper-consciously casual that alarm bells started dancing the conga inside Dean’s head. “Castiel isn’t actually your bright particular star, is he?”
Dean froze, then snuck a cautious look at Gabriel’s hands. They were folded very carefully and very un-Gabriel-like on the table right in front of him, instead of gesticulating everywhere or trying to sneak into Dean’s pants. It was kind of creepy. “Um. Never was, du- Gabriel. Told you that. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s gone on Sam. Not that either of them would notice it,” he added, since, hey, a non-Gabriel-related thought to fix on! “because they’re both as dense as a bricklayer’s yard about that sort of thing, and Sam still thinks he’s into pretty little blondes and white picket fences, and Cas hasn’t actually noticed that he’s got a cock yet, and…”
He took a moment to sip his coffee, and reflect comfortably on his own superior emotional maturity. Then it occurred to him that he had Gabriel’s to deal with too, and considered banging his head against the wall and saving the universe the trouble.
Gabriel made an entertained sort of noise, which sounded more like him, and that was kind of a relief, so when he started talking again with that familiar rich amusement creeping in under the surface, Dean looked up with an answering grin before he actually heard the words. “You know, bucko, I’m trying really hard right now not to make a crack about Rosaline.”
Dean blinked, then blinked again and grinned like a cat. “Go right ahead, hot shot. That makes you Juliet.”
Gabriel’s eyes narrowed. Then he actually went sort of pale, and that too-bright vulnerability that Dean had first seen in that stupid warehouse crept into his eyes. “Um. Seriously?”
“Hey.” Dean leaned forward across the table, grabbing for his wrist, because Gabriel wasn’t allowed to look like that anymore, just like Sammy wasn't allowed to be hurt. “Hey, no, I mean it. Really. Look. Forget all those big speeches and all the flowery stuff where the guys change their mind in the next scene. You are. Well.” Shit. He was halfway through a declaration, wasn’t he? Stupid protective instincts. He cleared his throat. “Definitely not Rosaline here, okay?”
Gabriel blinked again, and in the space of the fall and rise of his eyelashes his eyes started sparkling. “You’d better not start swearing by the moon, th’inconstant moon that nightly changes in her course.”
Dean grinned at him, because something in his chest was doing a stupid fluttery thing. “Dude, no. We go down that path and I end up drinking poison and you gank yourself on your own sword. Let’s stick with Twelfth Night or something, yeah?”
Gabriel tipped his head to one side, brushed his thumb all teasing-light over the inside of Dean’s wrist, and made a thoughtful noise that went straight to Dean’s cock. “Hey. If you can persuade Castiel into yellow stockings and cross-garters, I will seriously adore you forever.”
Okay. That was as good as a declaration in Dean’s book. Not like he hadn’t spent years deciphering the terse emotions of more stubborn idiots in his own family.
“Yeah?” Dean was pretty sure his grin was making him look sort of like a loon, but hey, screw it. He stole Gabriel’s hand properly, turned it over, and pressed his mouth against the palm, a hot tease just short of a kiss. “What if I can’t?”
Gabriel’s eyes fluttered half-closed, but under the lashes they were hot and promising and fixed on Dean. “Hot pink dye in Sam’s shampoo?”
Dean rolled his eyes, grabbed his collar, and hauled him across the table to kiss him. Gabriel’s hands fastened painfully hard into his hair, but his mouth opened warm and unfamiliarly soft under Dean’s touch. Dean groaned, pressed in, and lost himself for just long enough to knock that stupid coffee all over both of them.
Gabriel was cackling like a hyena, and okay, so Dean might be more than a bit fond of the way his eyes went all gold and crinkly when he did that.
Forget warm coffee in sensitive places. Dean was used to far worse discomfort than that, and right now, he had priorities.
He grabbed at Gabriel again, slipped one hand around the back of his neck and used the other to cradle his cheek and brush his thumb over the half-beard that Gabriel had recently decided looked kind of dashing, because he was stupid that way.
“You,” he declared, and charged into it determinedly. “This is me, loving you. Okay? And this is as good as it gets, because I’m crap at this sort of thing, but I’m fucking stubborn, okay? So I’m not going to stop trying.”
Gabriel’s eyes were all bright and wondering, but his mouth was twisting into filthy promising smirky shapes, so Dean kissed it.
“People are watching, Dean,” Gabriel purred darkly against his mouth.
Dean bit him. “Men’s eyes were made to look, and let them gaze,” he growled, all husky. “I will not budge for no man’s pleasure, I.”
Gabriel’s hand fastened on his arm. “Yeah, screw that, my pleasure right now involves a bed.”
The world slid sideways.