Trying to shift his long legs more comfortably into the limited space, Sam looked to his left and grinned. Dean was focused on the road and singing along with the music completely off key just to piss him off. Sam didn’t mind for once - he’d finished pre-law, scored himself a full ride at Stanford and was going to spent the summer with his brother. He felt as if life couldn’t get better than right now.
After a full day’s drive, they finally arrived at Dean’s apartment. Sam jumped out of the Impala the moment it was parked, excited that he’d finally be able to meet the intriguing roommate his brother kept mentioning. Sam wasn’t sure if Dean was aware about it himself, but he was pretty sure his brother was in love with the mysterious ‘Cas’. Just the look Dean got in his eyes every time he mentioned his roommate, that same fervent devotion he only displayed when he saw a fresh slice of pie.
Dean took the duffels out of the trunk and threw one at Sam. “Gotta start pulling your weight around now you’re officially a man, Sammy,” he smirked. Sam mumbled not to call him Sammy and followed Dean up the stairs to the second floor.
“What d’ya think, Sam?” Dean asked, swinging open the door. A clean living room was visible, decorated sparsely with a couple of mementos.
“I’m amazed you managed to keep it clean,” Sam responded, walking in further. He took a quick look around, noticing there were more books stacked on the shelves than he’d expected from Dean – they must be the roommate’s.
“Cas likes to have everything in its place. C’mon, I’ll show you your room,” Dean said. He went through the hallway opposite the room, stopping at the last door. Opening it, he pushed Sam inside, declaring proudly, “This used to be Cas’ work room but we cleaned it up for you.”
The room was small and held only the absolute minimum needed for a night’s rest, a cot layered with blankets pressed between the wall and a desk, and a low dresser. He’d certainly slept in worse places, and Sam was just happy to be there.
Dean took his silence as critique and worriedly blurted out, “If it’s too small, we can switch and you can take my room.”
“It’s fine, Dean, really,” Sam said, placating Dean’s worry. He dropped the duffel next to the bed and pulled open the first drawer of the dresser, preparing to unpack.
“Alright. Call if you need anything and I’ll give you the grand tour when you’re finished,” Dean said before walking off.
Sam took his time packing his stuff away, making sure everything was put away neatly. When he was nearly finished, he heard commotion outside his room; a door banged shut and a raised voice was audible. He quickly dropped the shirt he’d been holding into the drawer, hoping the shouting had nothing to do with his arrival.
He opened the door to the living room, following the voice to the kitchen, stopping right outside the doorway.
“He should not be allowed any influence over impressionable minds, yet no one takes any action against him.” So it wasn’t about Sam after all. He briefly wondered who it could be, then decided to stop eavesdropping and entered the kitchen.
His first impression was those eyes are really blue, quickly followed by a trench coat, seriously? Sam came to a stop two steps in to avoid further embarrassment by going too close to the other man. His brother looked up from where he’d been leaning against the counter, nodding along with the trench coat man’s story. “Sammy! This is Castiel Novak, my roommate,” Dean said with a grin.
Sam’s brain nearly short circuited, Dean had failed to mention Cas was a man. “Uhh… nice to meet you, Cas,” he said, holding out his hand.
Castiel stared at his hand for a painfully long moment before grasping it between both of his hands and shaking it. “Pleased to meet you too, Sam.”
Sam’s hand was still being held in Cas’ and Sam found he didn’t mind that much. He glanced over to Dean, who was just smirking at him, apparently not bothered at all by his almost-certainly boyfriend holding his brother’s hand.
Walking over to Cas and slinging an arm around his shoulders, Dean gently pulled Cas’ hands from around Sam’s.
“Let’s go grab some dinner,” Dean said.
During the car ride, Cas had apologised about causing such a racket, explaining that he volunteered at the local church’s youth group and how one of the elder monitors took a morbid pleasure in disciplining the kids for so called sins. The guy, Zachariah, had seniority and none of the higher ups took the complaints seriously. He also told Sam that he’d received his Master’s in Theology and was currently in his second year continuing for a doctorate.
By the time they arrived at the diner, Sam felt pretty sure he was developing a crush on the older man. He knew he shouldn’t, Cas was probably with Dean, after all. It was just terribly unfair that his brother, who’d never before showed any interest in other males, should have picked the one guy that was quickly shaping up to be Sam’s dream man come to live.
Sam was startled out of his reverie by Dean ruffling his hair.
“Let’s go, princess.”
He glared at his brother, without success as Dean had already left the car. Hurriedly catching up with Dean and Cas, who’d already claimed a boot in the corner and sat across each other, he slid in on the bench next to Cas.
Dinner taught Sam that Cas had either been corrupted to the ways of Dean’s clogged arteries one greasy burger at a time religion, or he just had an unhealthy appetite for burgers. Although he had to admit, it was unbelievably endearing the way Cas lit up when the burger was placed in front of him.
It also further fuelled his suspicions about Cas and Dean being together, because friends just didn’t have that amount of eye-sex going on. At one time, he’d been convinced they’d both been rendered immobile because they’d sat staring at each other for at least a minute. A kick to Dean’s shin had solved it, and earned him a glare from Dean.
When Dean left to use the bathroom, Sam grabbed his chance to talk to Castiel.
“So Cas… how did you and Dean meet?”
Castiel turned to face Sam, rapidly chewing the last of his burger to answer Sam. “Dean had managed to start a feud with my then girlfriend, in his first week. When she started planning some rather malicious pranks, I decided to step in and save him.”
“Your girlfriend? I thought you were…” Sam trailed off, realising how that sounded. Castiel didn’t seem to take offence and gave Sam a small smile.
“I have no preferences towards gender, it’s the personality that matters. Although, in hindsight I do wonder what attracted me in Meg. She had a very vicious streak in her.”
Dean returned from his bathroom break and Sam filed the new information away for later contemplation.
“What did I miss?” Dean asked.
“I was telling Sam about how we met through Meg.”
Dean shook his head in amazement, “Man, that bitch was crazy. I still don’t know where she found dogs that large.”
“Crowley breeds them,” Castiel replied.
“Of course,” Dean scoffed, “Another one of those crazy sons of bitches.”
Cas scowled at him and looked away from Dean in anger.
Sam looked at Cas in question, prompting a sigh out of the older man.
“Crowley and I dated, a year after Meg and I broke up. Around our two year anniversary I found him in bed with one of my brothers,” Castiel muttered, looking down at his empty plate.
He had the whole kicked-puppy look down to a tee, and Sam just wanted to give the guy a big hug. They’d only met an hour ago though, so it would probably be awkward. He looked at Dean instead, trying to convey to him to do something. Dean rolled his eyes at Sam and mouthed, you do something. He gave Dean a bitchface in response and patted Castiel on the shoulder.
“At least you’ve got a better boyfriend now, right?” Sam forced himself to say, since he was convinced Dean would be an awful boyfriend and he himself would be a far better choice.
Castiel looked up at Sam, confused. “I haven’t dated since Crowley cheated on me.”
Mentally slapping himself, Sam fumbled for words, “I’m sorry! I thought… I mean, you and… uhh.”
“You thought what, Sammy?” Dean asked.
“Nothing,” he mumbled. “Just forget I said anything.”
Castiel seemed happy enough to let it drop, and after they ordered pie for Dean, the previous cordial chatting picked up again.
Sam spent most of his time the first week living with Dean and Castiel reading up at the library. He couldn’t help but feel awkward around his brother and Cas, so starting early with potential school material and being out of the apartment was the perfect solution.
Nearing the end of the second week, where he’d kept the same pattern going, he had to admit defeat. Dean kept badgering him to spend more time together before he went off to Stanford again and would be too busy for his brother, and his goal of avoiding Cas was pointless, seeing as he couldn’t get the older man out of his head, no matter how many stuffy texts he read to try and repress his thoughts.
When he came home that evening, he waited until they were all seated around the table for dinner. “Dean, what are we doing tomorrow?”
Dean looked up at him in surprise, “You mean you’re gonna quit moping around the library?”
“I wasn’t moping, I was preparing for school.”
After that particular conversation, they spent most of their free time going out together; Dean showing Sam around in the city and making up tales about the history of certain buildings while Castiel corrected him. Hearing Castiel tell the true histories made Sam ecstatic, knowledge combined with such a powerful voice.
It made Sam want to have more time alone with Castiel, to get to know him more personally, but it seemed impossible to invite Castiel without him inviting Dean along too.
The latest attempt where Sam tried to invite Castiel to the movies, he carefully waited for Dean to go to his work. Castiel accepted the invite, gracefully not mentioning that this would be the third time in two weeks they went.
Dressing up in his snuggest jeans and a nice dark blue shirt, Sam felt giddy with excitement. He’d finally managed to get Castiel to go on a date, and they still had a couple of weeks left to build out their relationship. After school started again, maybe Cas could transfer to a school close to Stanford to continue his doctorate, and they could live together and eventually when Sam graduated and got a job as a lawyer they could adopt a few dogs.
“Sam?” the voice of the object of his fantasies startled him out of his fantasies. “Your brother is home early, would you mind if he came with us?”
Sam felt his heart sink. There went his chance and his fantasies. He’d never been a particularly violent person, but he could just murder his brother right now.
“Sure, if Dean absolutely wants to come,” he spoke through gritted teeth.
The film was another mindless action flick better suited for a men’s night out than a date – which was exactly what this was, of course. Sam didn’t mind, since he couldn’t focus on anything other than the heat radiating from Castiel. Before the film started, he’d taken a chance by leaning over Castiel and taking a deep breath of his smell under the guise of handing Dean his popcorn. Castiel smelled perfect – a heady mix of watermelon and cinnamon.
After the film ended, they ended up going to the same diner they ate when Sam had first arrived. To Sam’s fascinated delight, Castiel once again looked like an inner light had been switched on once his burger arrived. The man radiated simple pleasure, transferring his happiness to all around him.
Once finished, they ordered two slices of pie – one for Dean, and one for Cas and Sam to share, making Sam’s inner self jump and scream in outrageous joy. Castiel only had a few bites before he placed down his fork and solemnly asked, “Sam, Dean, could I tell you something?”
“Of course, Cas!” Sam blurted out, looking up at his friend and abandoning the pie.
Castiel took a deep breath and gathered his thoughts before carefully speaking.
“Seeing how you two interact with each other has given me much thought for contemplation.” He looked into their eyes and continued. “About my own brothers, and how we all went our own way after father died. I found it… disconcerting.” Another deep breath.
“I have forgiven Raphael for tempting Crowley.”
A moment of silence followed, broken by Dean lifting his eyebrow and exclaiming loudly, “Cas, are you serious? The guy stole your boyfriend of two years, whom you are still pining over.”
Castiel puffed out his chest and lifted his head. “Yes, Dean, I am serious. I realised I need to do this to move on. I don’t want to put my own life on hold because of my brother and Crowley.”
Sam, encouraged by Castiel’s previous words, broke his silence. “I think this is good, Cas. You have to let go before you can start anew, right?”
“Exactly. Tomorrow, I will leave to visit my brothers. It will also leave you two with some more time alone, without me imposing.”
“But you can’t just leave!” Sam cried out, leaving the me unspoken.
Wavering under that stern blue gaze, Sam fumbled for words. “Because… well…”
Castiel sighed and shook his head. “Sam, I must do this.”
Castiel left early the following day. There were platonic goodbyes exchanged, friendly see you later’s, when Sam knew he wouldn’t see the other man again. Summer holidays were nearly over, and after that he’d be too busy for college to come visit his brother and Cas anymore.
Five minutes after Castiel pulled the door closed behind him, Sam announced he could be found in bed for the rest of the day. Sleeping. Not sulking.
It was still so unfair though. Here he’d found the perfect man, and he hadn’t taken his chance soon enough. He ran over the past few weeks, mentally slapping his previous self for every chance he hadn’t taken, every moment without Dean nearby spent silently geeking out over Castiel instead of speaking up.
He sighed and turned around, pulling the covers over his head.
The remaining couple of weeks went by quickly. Dean had been happy enough to ignore Sam’s moodiness, and Sam had decided to take Dean’s advice for once and bury his feelings deep enough so they didn’t bother him. He didn’t have the experience Dean had, and they kept plaguing him. Thoughts of the older man popped up with everything he did, wondering what Castiel would think about it, if it would cause that pleased expression to form on his face, if it would make him frown, or if it would leave him bewildered, cocking his head.
When Sam finally left for Stanford with promises to write and call Dean every two minutes to placate his mothering, he felt a dull pang in his heart. He’d known it would end like this – before it had even started.
Starting law school was a great experience; meeting new people, seeing new study material. He settled in, both in the studies and with a group of friends. If he sometimes called up the newest number programmed in his phone, no one noticed how longingly his expression went.
Over time, he called up the number less and less, until eventually it became a distant memory.
Sam paced around his room, throwing worried glances over at his abandoned cell phone. Dean had sent him a message earlier, saying he would be delayed but that he’d make it up by bringing a surprise with him. Sam thought Dean just being there at his graduation would be better than any possible surprise.
When it became clear Dean wouldn’t be showing up in time for them to talk before graduation, Sam grabbed his cell and went to the hall where the ceremony was being held. He went through every move in daze, until his name was being called. He snapped out of it and walked on the stage to accept his law degree. The lights directed on the stage made it impossible for him to see the audience.
A couple of students came after him, a few words of praise and thanks were spoken, and they were free to go mingle. Sam pulled out his cell phone to send Dean a text, noticing he’d already received one that he’d missed in the excitement. It read that Dean was waiting at the back with his surprise.
Pushing his way through boatloads of people – finally an advantage of being so tall – he saw a flash of tan out of the corner of his eyes. It confused him for a second; he wondered why it looked so familiar.
“Sam!” All thoughts about the tan coat fled when he heard his brother’s voice. He turned and made his way over to Dean, grinning. He threw his arms around his brother.
“Dean! You made it,” Sam mumbled into Dean’s shoulder before stepping back.
“Of course,” Dean said, shrugging. “Wouldn’t miss it for all the gold in the world.”
Sam opened his mouth to suggest they get out of here and get some dinner but got cut off by Dean nodding to someone behind him.
He turned around slowly, nurturing that tiny moment of possibility where nothing was set into stone, remembering the flash of tan his subconscious had already linked to the correct person.
“Hello Sam,” a familiar low voice spoke.
His eyes settled on the same blue eyes that had plagued his dreams for so long.
“Cas,” he breathed out.
The same small smile as all those years ago appeared on Castiel’s face.
Sam stood just staring for a moment, taking in the sight. Cas looked like he hadn’t shaved in a while, but he was able to pull it off. He was dressed in the same trench coat he’d never taken off during the summer they met, with underneath it a rumpled black suit, a too big white dress shirt and a blue tie, done backwards.
To Sam, he looked perfect. He stepped forward and embraced Castiel, possible awkwardness be damned. The other man stiffened in surprise before relaxing and bringing his own arms up around Sam.
“Congratulations, Sam.” The words were said against his ear, and he relished the feeling of warm breath blowing against his cheek.
Reluctantly, he let go. Their hug had already gone on longer than was socially the norm. Despite the overwhelming urge to let his hands trail down over Cas’ arms while pulling back, he controlled himself.
Dean pulled back the attention when he suggested what Sam himself had been about to do before Castiel arrived.
The three of them sitting in a diner, eating burgers, called up all kinds of feelings with Sam. He felt happiness, nostalgia, affection and hope. After a few minutes, they’d already picked up on the easy friendship they’d had going on previously.
Once again, the subject turned serious over dessert.
“How did it go with your brothers, Cas?” Sam asked.
“Not all of them were as willing to reconnect as I was. It took me a long time to track all of them down,” he said. Cas looked at Dean before continuing, “I only arrived back home yesterday, which is why your brother was held back. He was kind enough to wait for me.
“I went to see Raphael first. He didn’t want to accept my forgiveness at first, but I kept insisting and eventually, he explained to me the reasoning behind his actions. Jealousy, because he felt our father favoured me over him.”
He paused and looked at Sam, seemingly pondering. “You see, Sam, we are all adopted, but not all at the same age. Some of my brothers have memories of less happy families.”
Sam wasn’t sure how to react, so he softly asked, “What did you do next?”
Castiel stared down at his hands, taking a moment to gather his thoughts.
“I began looking for Uriel, my youngest brother. By the time I had tracked him down I was a few weeks too late. He died without any of us knowing,” he said, with a carefully blank face.
“Next, I searched for Balthazar. He turned out to be in jail for running a scam. We talked, and he told me where he’d last talked to Gabriel.
I spent a long while searching for him, but it turned out to be fruitless. So I decided to return to our father’s house, where Michael and Luke are still living.”
“Luke? Finally a break in the angelic names,” Dean interrupted.
Castiel sent him an unimpressed look. “His full name is Lucifer. You understand why he shortens it.”
Dean snorted into his pie, “Seriously?”
This time, Sam sent him a glare. “Shut up, jerk. Let Cas continue.”
“Bitch,” came the muttered reply.
“Go on, Cas.”
“I have previously only talked about my brothers, but I went to visit my sisters too while I was there. They still live in our hometown, and I always had a good connection with them.
After that, I went back to searching for Gabriel. I found him six months ago, hiding in a little college town. It took some convincing I wasn’t going to drag him back home, and once he accepted I wasn’t going anywhere, he took me in tow on a ‘trip through life’, as he called it.”
All three men sat in silence, each mulling over their thoughts. Dean was once again the first to break it. “You’ve got a really big family, man.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “Hey Cas, does that mean you dropped your doctorate?”
Castiel seemed amused by the question. “No Sam, I was allowed to continue online. My continuing a doctorate while still at college was a rare case, since most of the time it is combined with a job.”
When they arrived back at Sam’s apartment, Sam realised they had a problem. He’d planned on Dean using the couch, since he only had one bedroom.
“Hey, uhh, Cas, I didn’t really count on another person being here. If you want you can sleep in my bed.”
Dean opened his mouth to undoubtedly make a dirty comment but Sam cut him off. “I can sleep in the bathtub, or something.”
Castiel nodded, and followed Sam to the bedroom. Sam really wished the context could be different. As it was, he just opened the door and turned on the lights, telling Castiel to ask him if he needed anything.
He made to turn away when a warm hand caught his arm. “Cas?”
Castiel looked up at him, eyes boring in his. “Sam. I do wish for something.”
Sam’s heart skipped a beat. “What is it?”
The hand around his forearm loosened. “I know you tried to get me alone several times, during that summer. I apologise for sabotaging your attempts, but I wasn’t ready.”
“Are you ready now?” Sam asked, throat suddenly dry.
Castiel took a moment to look deep into his soul again before giving a curt nod. “I would like you to join me. Maybe we would go out on a real date, later.”
Sam was pretty sure he was dreaming now. Maybe he was still high on euphoria from graduation and this was all a daydream. Determined to enjoy as much of it as he could while possible, he followed Cas into the bedroom.
Castiel began undressing, stopping at his undershirt and boxers. He crawled into the bed and stared expectantly at Sam. They held each other’s gazes like that until Sam realised he was supposed to get undressed and into bed.
Undressing to just his boxers, he finally got into bed. Castiel moved closer, wrapping his arms around Sam’s chest and manhandling him into a position comfortable for Castiel to lie on. When he deemed Sam’s position acceptable, he looked up and gave Sam an innocent smile.
Sam smiled back, convinced that he looked like a sappy idiot. With the man of his dreams in his arms, he couldn’t care less. He’d finished law school, had a great man nestled into arms, and the promise of a date. He felt as if life couldn’t get better than right now.