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Catch and Release

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“Woah!” Dean blurted out with widened eyes. In the process of his uproar, he nearly knocked over the beer Sam had set on the table from where his feet were kicked up, jarring everything in their wake.  He didn’t lose any momentum as he leered over his shoulder, “Didn’t know you had it in you, Sammy!”

Sam lunged forward to steady the old wooden hand-me-down (that Dean just refused to let go of, despite his handsome salary) and snagged his drink.  Although there were no casualties, he asked in annoyance, “Had what in me?” and muted the game they were watching.  Sure, Dean was overly-expressive by nature, but there was some reason for his outburst.

“You getting in on the action!”  He wasn’t saying it outright, just wiggling his eyebrows as he pointed to his phone, then frowned for a split-second in suspicion.  “Although it’s gross we matched.  What’s wrong with you, you weird-ass?!”

“Matched?” Sam echoed in confusion and grappled for the device, “What the hell are-”

Dean flashed his brother the screen with a wide grin and a cocky, “Caught ya,” to reveal Sam’s Tinder profile.

The only thing was…Sam didn’t have a Tinder profile.  He’d never even downloaded the friggin app, let alone created an account.  Hell, he didn’t even know how the thing worked!

“What the fuck?”  The younger Winchester ripped the phone out of Dean’s hand and stared at the screen in shock.

“I’m not judging, dude.  I just didn’t know you were so damn bold when you were behind a touchscreen,” Dean joked while elbowing his brother playfully, “How many dudes have you hooked up with since you joined?  You’ve got ‘frisky’ and ‘available twenty-four seven’ written all over you, ya horndog.”

“Dean!”  He tried to keep his voice even, but it came out shrill, “This isn’t me!  Someone’s using my pictures! I don’t know who, but I’m not on this thing!”  Then another realization dawned on him as he slowly raised his eyes to meet his brother’s.  “Wait, you’re on this app?  A hook-up app?  Looking for dudes?”

“Hey!”  Dean snatched his phone away.  “I’m not discriminating!  That’s not the point!”  He quickly brushed it off and used his usual avoidance method to change it around to, “Someone’s totally using your puppy eyes to catfish poor suckers.  Hah!  And he’s in a fifty mile radius!  What are the odds of that?  Usually it's a creep from mom and dad‘s basement in Podunk nowhere, not random-ass Palo Alto.”

“You should figure out who it is, didn’t you say you matched?” Sam urged him, now thoroughly unsettled by the entire concept.  “Maybe we know them, maybe it’s some kind of joke, or-”

“Ew, no.  You handle this yourself!  Don’t taint my account.  That’s gonna give me bad karma, flirting with someone using my brother’s face,” Dean looked grossed out and shivered for dramatic effect.  “Download that shit and shop around for some other face online.  Catfish the catfisher!”

“You’re a dick,”  Sam grumbled, but grabbed his phone and paused in thought.

He wanted to play this right: he wanted answers.  He couldn’t steal some random person’s identity online who would be easily tracked and discovered to be an obvious fake.  No, he needed it to be authentic if he wanted to solve this mystery.  A light bulb went off with a near-blindly flash, and he pulled up a text message to one of his good friends.  Someone who would be even less likely to use this app than himself.

“Less likely” was an understatement.  There didn’t even exist an alternate universe where Sam could have imagined the thought of downloading it crossing his friend’s mind.  It was ridiculously laughable.

Sam 4:45pm
Hey Cas, I have a weird question.  More like I weird favor to ask you

Cas 4:47pm
You have my attention and my intrigue

Sam 4:52pm
Okay so get this, there’s this dating app my brother’s on and apparently someone is using my picture to talk to people about hooking up/seducing them

Cas 4:54pm
That’s very strange and doesn’t make sense. If it worked, you obviously wouldn’t be the person showing up for sex

Sam 4:57pm
lol it’s called catfishing, like that movie/show.  This person is just messing around with them, leading them on and fucking with their heads.  Anyway, the app shows you people in your area and this person is in town.  I want to figure out who it is

Cas 5:00pm
I would as well, that’s very rude and misleading.  Where does this favor come in?

Sam 5:03pm
Well… I know you’d never get on this app.  Hell, I’d never get on this app as me, you know?  So I was wondering if you’d send me a couple pics of you so I could set up an account and use you as my cover?  I know it’s a lot to ask, but the only person I’m going to talk to on it is fake-me, I promise

Cas 5:07pm
Interesting concept

Sam 5:10pm
So…?

Cas 5:13pm
I’d be interested to know who’s ‘fishing’ - is that the correct term?  I’m simply not sure how many usable photos I have of myself, unfortunately.  I can search if you’d like

Sam 5:15pm
I can pull some off your FB, don’t worry about that.  I just needed permission :)  Seriously, thank you so much, man!  I’ll let you know when I figure it out

Cas 5:18pm
You’re welcome and I wish you well.  Are we still meeting late Tuesday to study?

Sam 5:21pm
Yep, I’ll get ahead in the homework as a thank you.  You’re awesome dude

Cas 5:23pm
Have a good evening, Sam

Sam 5:25pm
You too

“Why are you grinning like a loon?” Dean flicked Sam in the ear. “You figure out your little situation yet?”

“Yep.  And I think it’s strangely foolproof,” he announced with a grin, “Okay, just getting the pics together now and then I’ll-”

“Get us more beers, first.  Halftime’s almost over,” the older Winchester instructed with a pointed finger, “Then you can get back to your sexting.”

“I wasn’t sexting,” Sam rolled his eyes, “but you’re right.  I may need more alcohol for this.”  When he set his phone down, he nodded to himself and muttered under his breath, “Much more.”

---------------------

After completing his profile and Dean giving him a brief “How-To" about using Tinder, Sam decided to let his phone sit while they finished up their Sunday ritual.

It was a Winchester tradition that every Sunday, they’d watch a football game and catch up about how their week went during the commercials, then finish up with a new release from Redbox.  There was always a six-pack (or two) of beer and pizza involved, but the important part was that it was a brief reprieve before they went back to their busy weeks.

Dean worked as a mechanical engineer and, even though he had a nice beautiful place, it was a mix-and-match clusterfuck when it came to the interior design portion of it all.  Although the layout was modern, it was furnished with all the fixings of their childhood home - not because he was a packrat - but because it felt familiar.  Homey.

Dean initially wanted to cap off his life as a mechanic until Sam had pushed him.  He gave him a hard kick in the ass because he knew his brother was capable of more.

Yeah, there were some tantrums and screaming involved, but Sam pulled the “It’d make me and our parents proud” card and Dean threw himself into college and grad school.

It didn’t surprise Sam one bit when Dean was scooped up by a firm right away.  For a while, Dean felt like he didn’t fit into something so…corporate (a business dress-code, long-term contracts, and salaries scared the shit out of him) until he met his current best friends at the job who showed you could be quirky and work at a higher level, too.  And that friend’s name was Charlie.

Finally, Dean felt what Sam had already known: he didn’t have to limit himself because of what he felt he was “worth” because his own self-image was somewhat...skewed.  Maybe it had to do with their late father tapping out early. Maybe it had been something even earlier that.  Sam couldn’t remember because he’d been too young.  Moral of the story, he was happy for his brother.

And now he had a crazy amount of teasing material because of Dean’s new dating methods.  It made sense: his brother didn’t have time to go out and look for people to hook up with at bars anymore like he used to.  

So now he was doing it through technology.  Kind of like the rest of the damn world was these days.  Since instant gratification was now a swipe away.  

And he didn’t hold back telling Sam that it worked damn well.  In graphic, disturbing, gag-worthy detail.

Sam had rolled his eyes at that, but dating was the last thing on the younger Winchester’s mind.

He was in the home-stretch of law school. In a few months, he’d be ready to take the bar exam and start his life as a lawyer.

But right now, he was still in student-crazed study-mode and had no time for anything else.  But this whole someone-pretending-to-be-him thing struck a chord and he was bound and determined to solve the mystery.  

Plus, now that Cas had given him the go ahead to use his face, he was armed and ready.  He had strategically created his fake profile to lure in this man or woman.  He created his own tailor-made account to be compatible with the other, and hoped it would engage the outrageous phoney behind Sam’s picture.

The end of the night was near and Sam was stretching out with a yawn as he told his brother, “Think I’m about ready to hit the road.”

“Yeah, I’m there, too,” he confirmed and instantly caught the contagious yawn.  “Hopefully you and you connect,” Dean winked lavishly.  “Remember what to do?”

“Swipe right?”

“Atta boy.”

-----------------------

Sam woke up earlier than normal on Monday because he knew that he totally owed Cas for doing him a solid in this scheme of his.  He meant it when he’d pull a little bit more of his weight in the work they had to do for Tuesday.  After all, it took a good friend to let their other friend drag them into a stupid plot like this.

To be honest, he was surprised Cas had agreed with it in the first place… Anyone else would have said he was being an idiot and that he needed to let it go.  But Cas understood that when something got under Sam’s skin, he was a stubborn ass and wasn't going to stop until he got to the bottom of it. Which was something that made them best friends.

The two had met their first year of law school and it had been mostly by accident.  Sam had been hit with one wrecking ball of a flu on one of their first group assignments and Cas had been the odd man out in the class, agreeing to be Sam’s partner when he returned from his sick leave.

It all made sense the moment he met the other student.

Cas, or rather Castiel Novak, was an odd duck.  That was putting it mildly.

Upon first introductions, at least.  

He was extremely direct, he didn’t mince his words and he said exactly what was on his mind. It was something that may have been off-putting to most people who were used to sugar-coating.  But it wasn’t because he was a dick - he just didn’t pick up on social cues and his filter could use a tune-up.  And by “tune-up,” Sam meant he needed to go out and fucking purchase one, because said filter was nonexistent.  

Cas wasn’t ignorant.  He was…blissfully unaware he was doing anything wrong.  And Sam had decided after that first project to take him under his wing and attempt to help him with his people skills.

Sam, himself, wasn’t sure if he made much progress, but it didn’t matter.  They became great friends.

Cas was smart, like, really fucking smart.  

It was probably part of the reason he didn’t care about human interactions.  He was leagues above anyone in class to the point Sam was probably doing this extra work to help out for nothing.  But it was the thought that counted, right?  

Castiel had a dry sense of humor, but he really was hilarious when you got to know him.  It sucked that more people didn’t make the effort.

Together they had forged a small, close-knit group of friends through the program and he considered Cas to be his closest, hands down.

Hell, Cas was his calm in the storm as they approached the bar exam.  He had talked Sam down a couple of times when he’d had a few freak-outs, using his deep, gravelly, take-no-shit voice and didn’t hesitate to tell Sam he was being foolish, where others would have patronized him.

Especially Ruby.  She would have added fuel to the fire.

She loved to get Sam worked up in a tizzy.  Plus, since his meltdowns were few and far between, when she got a seat up-close and personal, she was thrilled.  

Unfortunately, a few times Ruby tried to quell him with herself.

The moment Cas heard about that one, he put the kibosh on it instantly.  Sam had felt like a chastised pet, having displeased his master.  But not in a weird, kinky way.  Hell no. There was nothing going on with Cas.  Ruby was the one who was trying to get into Sam’s pants.  And once Cas had explained everything about her logically (like he always did), Sam berated himself for not seeing it sooner.

The group all studied together and had a strange, but workable and cohesive, dynamic.  Yet, everyone wanted to practice a different kind of law.  It was actually one of the things that made their study-buddy situation work so well, because they all had their preferences and focuses.  They all had already dove into where they planned to specialize and the group thrived from everyone’s different well of knowledge.

Right off the bat, it should have made sense that Ruby wanted to be a Criminal Defense Attorney.  

She wanted something that was high-paced and what she thought to be “exciting.”  Although Sam agreed that a lot of clients were wrongfully accused of crimes they didn’t commit, he couldn’t begin to imagine using his schooling to represent and fight for murderers or rapists.  

It just…rubbed him the wrong way to think about being paid to assist criminals and help them get off easy.  Because no matter how well the system worked, if you were talented enough (like Ruby most definitely was), there were still loopholes and plea bargains to manipulate and exploit that very system.

That was one of the points Cas had made when Ruby and Sam had a…thing when he was going through a rough patch with school midway through.  Because he was more focused on her than work, she had weaseled her way in and Sam hadn’t even noticed until he was in too deep.

Thank God Cas had pulled him out of that.

Speaking of “having a thing,” or a complete lack of, the other woman in their group (who was always blatantly flirting with an oblivious Cas) was Meg Masters.  Sam didn’t have to do any warning or policing when it came to her, because Cas was completely unaware and couldn’t care less.  She was harmless (despite her talent of being able to turn most everything into a sexual innuendo) and focused her studies on the road to being a personal injury lawyer.  

At first, she was looking into nursing school but then decided she “wanted to make shit ton more cash than that” and her friend was already in the prelaw program.  Not only did she already have anatomy under her belt, but she could talk her way out of a paper bag, so she was going to nail it when it came to that focal point of their discipline.

Sam actually really liked Meg from the start.  

She was funny, she never took anything too seriously, and she was just waiting for the day that Cas really figured out she genuinely liked him. He was so blind to her advances that it hurt, but that didn’t mean Meg was undeterred.  That woman was the most determined and focused person Sam had ever laid eyes on.  It was a joke that the object of her affection happened to be someone like Cas, who happened to be the walking, talking punchline.

The other man in the group was one of Cas’ friends, and Sam never really got it.  Sure, he was smart, but it was almost like he didn’t give a shit about law school at all.  

His name was Balthazar and he has always been jealous of how close Sam and Cas were.  Sam could feel it.  He tried to let it roll off his back, but from time to time, his “sarcastic comments” turned into jabs and passive-aggressive quips, especially around high-stress exam times, and Sam’s fists were itching to punch him in the face.

Balthazar was gunning to be a family and divorce lawyer, and while Sam could see the divorce part (he could see Balthazar and his flirtatious, slutty self causing the fucking divorces), he didn’t know how he’d fare with the children.  It wasn’t just about fussy adults with shotgun weddings.  It was about adoptions, child custody, it was about the kids. It had to be about the kids.  That wasn’t something you could remain indifferent to.  You had to be present and compassionate and Balthazar didn’t seem like the type, which was another thing that rubbed Sam the wrong way.

When the man had mentioned that was his career goal in passing, Sam brought it up with Cas the next time they were alone because of how baffled he’d been.  But with a confusion of his own, Cas informed Sam that his family had many young children in it and Balthazar loved them.

Sam would believe it when he saw it.

Sam’s own focus was Civil Rights.  He’d wanted that from day one.  At first he’d tinkered with the idea of being a public interest lawyer, but maybe he could do more pro-bono work down the road.  It would be difficult to pay back his student loans that way, right off the bat.  Besides, he could do just as much good helping people through all the civil rights cases he received.  He was ridiculously excited and hoped he’d get lucky enough to begin there.

Cas was ready to be a trial lawyer.  He wanted to be in the courtroom, working side by side with the judge, jury and his opponent.  And Sam knew if he was opposite Cas?  He’d be terrified going head to head against him.

His friend would be perfect there - always so cool under pressure, building bullet-proof cases, and thinking quick on his feet.  Cas didn’t belong behind a desk with how goddamn smart he was.  He didn’t need an office to meet with clients and sign contracts.  He deserved to be making a difference in the high-stakes cases, because he had that special talent that you couldn’t fake or even learn.  Hopefully, he’d be taking down people like Ruby.

Shit. Did that make Sam an asshole for thinking that?

Nah, I'm good, he thought.  Whatever.

Regardless, Castiel was bound for greatness.  And Sam felt like a little fan girl, but it wasn’t just him.  Whenever they had mock debates in class, whoever was pitted against Cas got that look of terror when the professor announced their pairing with him.  

You could actually see their stomach falling out, the way their heart caught in their throat, hell, some may even have pissed themselves. Unless it was someone who was part of their study group.  Then they simply grinned and bared it, and let the man annihilate them.  

It was part of the natural order.

Sam laughed to himself as he flipped through the pages of the homework and realized it was almost noon.  With hesitation, he opened Tinder with a deep breath.  

He leaned back in his chair as the profiles loaded and he began flipping through on autopilot.  Dean had told him to narrow down the search results by selecting only interested in males so he didn’t have to worry about sifting through double the results, because this wasn’t hooking up.  Especially, with Cas’ reputation at stake.  

Just to make sure it worked, he swiped on Dean’s profile and reminded himself to send a text to his brother to see if the whole match thing worked.  He didn’t want to mess this up by not knowing the instructions well enough.  After all, it wasn’t something he was familiar with and he needed to be sure.

This was about -

Bingo .

He had been swiping so fast he almost missed it, but seeing his damn face again caused his thumb to freeze as he hovered over the page and scoffed loudly.  Sam hesitated a moment because…was he really doing this?

Damn right he was doing this.

He swiped right.

------------------------

Castiel was nearly finished loading the last of his books into his backpack when he heard his phone ringing.  He paused thoughtfully because this was good.  He’d nearly forgotten his phone at his apartment.  Again.

Even though the rest of the world was baffled by the disregard he had for technology, he was equally puzzled by the fact that everyone else seemed to be so attached to it.  The only need he had was research for his studies.  Social networking, texting, and people’s obsession for “selfies” and photography of their brunch never resonated with him - but he did need to be more aware of keeping his cell phone with him.

At least for communication purposes, he supposed.

He trekked back into his room to find it still plugged in next to his bed and pulled it from the charger.

It lit up again, because he’d long since missed the call, but this time he was quick to answer.

“Hello, Gabriel,” he addressed his brother and noted, “aren’t you supposed to be at work?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be in the stone age and not know anything about flirting past emojis?”  Gabriel’s voice was menacing, “You lookin’ to get yer dick wet these days?  I'm proud of ya!”

“Excuse me?” Cas’ voice was filled with bewilderment, “I’m not quite sure what you’re referencing.”

“You got on Tinder, you little minx!”  The sound of amused cackling filled the line, “And you sound like you actually have a personality!  Did you Google that shit?  Human Interaction and Online Dating 101?”

“I’m…not.”  He deliberately chose his words.

“I’m lookin’ at those baby blues right now, champ.  You can’t fool me.  Sorry I found out about your attempts to get laid, but I gotta say - fuckin’ finally .”

“No, Gabriel.  That’s not me, I-”

Before he could explain, he was cut off with, “No shit?  Someone’s using your picture?!  I’m gonna get to the bottom of this!  This is great!”  With barely a half-second of silence before Cas could protest and explain the situation about his friend, Gabriel announced, “Hey, it’s a match!”

Which could only meant one thing, from what Cas had been told about the app.

Gabriel must have been the one behind the account Sam had found using the photo of him.

Sam wouldn’t have selected anyone besides the person whom he was trying to discover was "looking to hook up and messing with people" behind his image.

Castiel froze at the realization with a slackened jaw which quickly turned into an amused grin.  Because this was all too ironic.  Who was he to spoil the fun now that it was underway?

“That’s…excellent.  That it’s a match, that is.”  Cas cleared his throat and hoped his delight didn’t show, “I hope you can figure out the mystery.”

“Hey, I’m a ninja with this shit.  Plus, my search is narrowed within twenty miles right now.  Probably means they’re on campus.  We’ll figure out your identity thief, Cassie, I’ll protect your virtue,” Gabriel clucked his tongue, “soon as he’s back online?  That’s when the magic happens!”

“You do that.  Thank you for protecting my virtue,” he rolled his eyes, still unable to control his widening smirk.  “And have a good day, Gabriel.”

“Catch ya later!”

When he hung up, Castiel was finally allowed to chuckle and slid his phone into his pocket.  Although he wasn’t as devious as his brother, there was still that mischievous thrill in knowing something Sam didn’t know and being aware that his friend would be pulling his hair out trying to find out who was using these pictures of him when Castiel now knew exactly who the culprit was.

He couldn’t help but think of the entertainment awaiting him in the days to come, as he finished gathering his things and he pulled on his coat.  Now that he knew that it was Gabriel?  Poor Sam would never know what hit him.

---------------------

Dean was on his lunch break at work and picking through a basket of fries with Charlie in his office while listening to her weekend exploits.  He no longer had the energy for bar crawls and wild nights, but it seemed the redhead’s supply was unlimited.

He even said it out loud with a grunted, “Jesus, Bradbury, you’re making me feel so old!”

“Nah, you’re a spring chicken!  You just need to come out with me and prove it to yourself,” she winked and stole one of his fries.  “No news on the romance front, I’m guessing?”

“Too busy.  Got that big project Ellen’s been hounding me on.  Even been taking it as fuckin’ homework,” he lamented and slapped her hand away before she could steal another fry, then teased her, “I thought you were on a diet, brat.”

“It’s cheat day!”  She announced with a over-the-top pout, “All right.  It’s not.  You’re right.  It’s busy season and I haven’t been able to go out LARPing, which is totes my usual form of exercise.  Dude, dieting sucks!”

“You’re tiny.  Why the hell are you doing it?”  He’d been wondering from day one of this ‘fad’ Charlie had been sucked into but never voiced it.

Until now.

“Gotta stay in tip-top shape for the ladies!  Duh.”

“Geez, it’s like everyone’s looking to get laid or find someone these days.  Is it something in the water?  I don’t get it.”  Dean found himself fussy over the thought for some reason.

“Eh, probably spring fever?  Whatever it is, you’re grumpy and you need to change that!  I know you’ve got game on Tinder, but I haven’t heard breaking news of conquests!  Get the ball rolling, Winchester!  You need to get laid and soon.  I don’t know if I can deal with you like this for much longer!”  Charlie reached across his desk and snatched up his phone, already knowing all his passwords because she was nosy.  “Here, I’ll do the work for you!”

“Whatever,” he huffed and continued to finish off the junk food in front of him.

Then when he was stuffing his face, he wondered if he should consider this diet, too...it wasn’t like he had the time to work out either.  But when a mouth-watering burger and greasy goodness called his name, who was he to say no?  Not like he was seeing anyone and had somebody to impress and his love of bacon always won out over-

“Oo!  I totally found someone who’s your type!”  She bounced up and down in the chair across from him.  “Messy dark hair, gorgeous blue eyes, hot bod - from what I can tell.  Since he doesn‘t have any douchey bro pics of him flexin‘ at the gym or at the beach.  Classy.  Me likey.”  She flashed the picture over the desk to show Dean before narrating the details, “His name is Cameron, he’s twenty five and working on his doctorate at Stanford!  Oo, smart and sexy!  Doesn’t list what he’s looking for but that’s what messaging’s for, right?”

Dean blinked at the sheer speed Charlie was moving with and admitted, “Yeah, he is pretty hot-” but before he could say anything else, she announced:

“It’s a match!”

“Hey!  I didn’t tell you to…” but then he paused and sighed, “Fine.  Whatever.  I’ll talk to him.”

Charlie’s eyes lit up and an impish grin spread across her face when she said, “Oo, babydoll, he’s already talking to you!”

“What?  What’d he say?!”  Dean couldn’t help the bit of excitement that rushed through him at her words.

She dramatically leaned back in her chair and kicked her feet up, using a sensual voice as she read the words, “Hey, still trying to figure out how this app works.  How’s your day going?”  Then, for her own commentary she wiggled her eyebrows at Dean and said, “Polite, casual, nothing not to love!  You may be taking his Tinder virginity!”

“Give me that!”  He finally stole the phone back from her and announced, “You said it was time to work my magic, right?”

“Atta boy, Winchester!”  She began giggling, then stood up with, “I’m gonna head back to my office.  And you’re welcome,” before she sauntered off with the dramatic swing of her hips.

----------------------

Sam was in-between classes when his brother (in his mind) ‘accepted his friend request’ (or whatever you called it on this stupid thing) and he was two seconds away from telling him that he finally had his impostor in his sights when things took a turn for the…strange .

Dean 12:04pm
Day’s going pretty good, you?
Hah, it takes me a while to figure out any new app, you’ll get used to it.
I bet keeping up with your doctorate and all that school work keeps you busy.  Is that why you decided to join the Tinder club? ;)

Then it all hit Sam at once.

He’d never showed Dean the profile he’d created.  

His brother literally thought this account belonged to Cas (or the fake name he'd created - Cameron), because Dean had never met his friend.

He was accidentally catfishing is own goddamn brother right now, who had no idea.  How the hell was this his life?!

Then…Sam got an idea.  A ridiculous, messed up, terrible kind-of-brilliant idea.

A while ago, when Dean finally accepted his bisexuality, he’d thought of introducing him to Castiel as an opposites attract kind of scenario.  They both had quirks that would either make them perfectly compatible, or archenemies.  He’d never seen Cas interested in anyone, and he thought that if any human being could get under his skin?  It would be Dean fuckin’ Winchester.

And the fact that his brother had matched with Cas (unknowing that it was Sam behind the profile) that meant he was already attracted to him on a physical level.  Even if Dean tended to be a little bit looser when it came to women, he had very high expectations when it came to men.  

This might actually work…

Fuck. Could Sam handle fooling his brother just long enough to set up a meeting?  

This would be taking one for the goddamn team.  

But if he acted like Cas, pulled out all the stops when it came to his friend’s peculiar speech and persona and Dean still wanted to meet him...

Dude, this could totally work!

Sam would have to abort mission if anything went beyond PG.  Jesus, he couldn’t be scarred for life.  But until then...

Cameron 12:16pm
My day’s been well, thank you
Yes, it was one of my friends who convinced me to download it
They said they’d had great luck meeting people and my studies have prohibited me from much of a social life

Dean 12:19pm
I hear you on that, I feel like technology is kind of a cheat but if it works it works, ya know?
So what are you studying?  That’s awesome you have that kind of discipline.  I fought my ass off to get my mechanical engineering degree, then the internships were hell.  Can’t imagine that much school lol

With a deep breath, Sam couldn’t figure out how many lies he should tell.  He was obviously working under a fake name, how far should he take this?  With a snort, he said screw it.  Everything was too goddamn outrageous anyway.  Why not have a little fun?

Cameron 12:22pm
Mechanical engineering is very impressive and takes a specific kind of intelligence, I don’t believe I’d fare well in that field.
I’m studying to be an OBGYN, I come from a family of doctors and I’ve always been a great advocate for women’s health

Sam bit his lip to keep from snorting.  What he really wanted to see is if his brother could physically hold back from making a pussy joke.  He could practically see Dean straining and his fingers shaking over the keyboard to stop himself.

Dean 12:27pm
Just a regular Dr. Sexy MD, aren’t you haha

Well, at least Sam knew exactly where to go with that one.  He could hear Castiel’s voice in his head.

Cameron 12:28pm
I don’t understand that reference

Dean 12:30pm
The TV show?  Come on!  We need to work on your pop culture!

Cameron 12:32pm
Perhaps you can show me sometime
I must be off, I’m about to head to my next class

Dean 12:35pm
Yeah I gotta head back to work too
Wanna chat later?
I’m finished at 6

Sam couldn’t help but smirk, because his ‘Cas-chat’ hadn’t scared his brother off quite yet, which was impressive.

Cameron 12:36pm
I’d like that, I’ll be online then

Dean 12:38pm
Sounds good
Have fun at class, Dr. Sexy ;)

With a heavy roll of his eyes, Sam exited the chat and got up from the table to walk to his next class.  Even though he was waiting to chat with himself, he had planted a seed that could yield some interesting results.

As long as Dean could keep it in his pants until he met the real Cas?  This could become something fun.

-----------------------

“You look chipper,” Charlie teased as Dean was packing up for the day and couldn’t help but add, “Do I sense the wizard has come out to play?"

“I don’t know.  Possibly,” the man grabbed a few files and shrugged his shoulders.  “It was just a basic ‘how are you’ talk, but he seems cool.  A little…weird.  But cool.  Like you said, not a douchebag or a creeper, which is always a bonus.  Hard to weed those out.  So, yeah.  We’re gonna meet online tonight and see where things go.”

“So no dick pics or ‘talk dirty to me, babe?’”  She shimmied her shoulders, “You’re like, talking?  Not just looking for a quickie hook up?”

“Hey!  It’s a nice change of a pace, okay!  So sue me!”  He pulled on his jacket and ruffled her hair, which earned a glare and halfhearted punch to the gut.  “You’re the one who started this!”

You’re the one who’s gonna finish it with Mr. Dreamy,” she batted her eyelashes, “Loves it!  Keep it up. It’s a nice look for you, ya know?”

“You know what would be an even better look?”  Dean brushed his wrist against the papers, “Getting this shit done.  I’m so over it.  This project is draining the life out of me.”

“At least you have a distraction now,” Charlie skipped alongside of him as they exited the office and headed to the elevator.  “The new shit I was just handed?  Gonna cramp my style for God knows how long!  We’re slaves, I tell ya!”

“Fuck yeah, we are,” he agreed with a groan as they stepped in and the elevator descended.  “Maybe I’ll go have a drink with you this weekend.  Something to unwind.  I think we’re gonna need it.”

“Only if you haven’t made any headway with you-know-who,” she reprimanded, even though it was coupled with a devilish smile.

“Why are you so stuck on this?”

“Just got a feeling.  That’s all.”  Her entire demeanor shifted to something innocent, which was complete bullshit and Dean knew it.

“Whatever, I’ll see you tomorrow, bright and early,” he waved her off as the door opened into the parking garage.

She saluted with a “Don’t let me down!” and they headed their separate ways.

He shook his head and flashed Charlie his middle finger before heading to his car.  So what, if he was a little excited to get home?  He still had some leftover pizza from the night before, he was finally getting close to finishing this project and hopefully his scheduled chat didn’t let him down.  Maybe Charlie was right.  Maybe he had a good feeling about this, too.

----------------------

It finally happened when Sam was in the library, typing away at his laptop, working on one of his thesis papers.

“It” being “him” messaging him.

God, that was confusing.

It was so strange to see his own face pop up, along with the grand introduction of:

Rich 5:15pm
Hey!  What’s going on, cutie?

Great.  So whoever was using his picture was a bold, shameless flirt - right off the bat.  Now, his paper was completely forgotten.  The phone was in his hand and he was in mission-mode.

Cameron 5:17pm
Hi, nothing much, just about to grab a bite to eat.  What about you?

Rich 5:19pm
Same.  Help me out, Mexican fiesta or Chinese cuisine?
I’m indecisive, you’d be saving a life

Sam blinked at the phone and felt a bit of annoyance just because of how not-him this idiot was.  He had half a mind, now that he was messaging him, to call him out and tell him to stop using his identity, but then he had to remind himself that wasn’t the purpose.  

It was to figure out who the fuck it was and then call him out to his face.  His actual real-life face.  It would be so much more gratifying.  He had to play the game.

Cameron 5:21pm
Neither.  Go with take-out sushi.  There’s a great place on Fourth Street that gives you free soup and salad with your order

Rich 5:25pm
Ahh yes, good ol’ Miki’s.  That’s a fantastic choice.
I would if I wasn’t halfway across town :(
Now you’ve got me craving some seaweed salad
#hurts

Cameron 5:30pm
I’ll enjoy it for the both of us then lol

Rich 5:31pm
I’d like to enjoy you

Wow.  Much bolder than he’d expected, that was for sure.  But…he supposed that was what dating apps were for.  Especially this one, where the majority of the time people were just looking for one night (or more night) stands.  From everything he’s heard, especially from his brother, it was all sex and no strings attached.  But what was this dude (or could be chick’s) end game?  They’d never show up to meet someone in person.  It just didn’t make sense.

Cameron 5:33pm
Oh.  You’re one of those

Rich 5:35pm
One of what, exactly?  An appreciator of fine human specimens?  Then, yes.

Cameron 5:37pm
Something like that.  Slow down, I’m not here for a hook-up, I actually joined to meet people interested in a relationship
So I guess we’re not compatible.  Nice to meet you anyway

Rich 5:39pm
Hey, my bad.  Sorry sometimes I come on a little strong, I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable
I just wanted help with dinner :/
Let’s start over?

With a victorious nod to himself, Sam had a feeling that move would work.  Because this guy obviously wouldn’t want to get together, he was in it for the thrill of luring people in.  He wouldn’t want to be blown off, no, he’d want to do the blowing off.  Sam knew just how to play him already.

Cameron 5:42pm
Okay.  We can do that.
So you’re not just a sex addict looking for lonely targets?

Rich 5:44pm
Nah, just a hungry doctor finishing a twelve hour shift
I’m pleading the fifth on the sex addict part though

Sam paused.  Was this another part of the bullshit?  Luring people in?  Or was this irony at its best?  Sam lying to his brother about Cas being a doctor and this this dude telling Sam he was a doctor?  The lines were getting blurred and now he was just confused.

His scheming was already turning against him in the form of a mental mindfuck.

---------------------

Gabriel had just gotten home with a bag of drive-thru food and was trying to push buttons while he chatted with the douche playing his little bro.  He was searching for details to know whether or not this person knew the area.  Whether they were some creepy old dude, some horny teen or just a bored prick.

He kicked back at his kitchen table as the messages rolled in.

Cameron 5:46pm
You’re really a doctor?  Where do you work?

Rich 5:47pm
Lucile Packard

Cameron 5:49pm
You have quite the sense of humor for being a pediatrician

So Gabriel thought this weirdo was checking out.  He knew the hospital Gabriel worked at was a Children’s Hospital (so what if he gave away a detail about himself?  It was a test of the other catfisher’s knowledge) and he did know the best sushi place on campus.  It was looking more and more likely that this was a student.  Which was strange.

Because students usually used their own faces on Tinder.  After all, no matter how ugly you were there was always someone out there to bone, or at least that’s what Gabriel figured.  College kids were walking horn-balls, moral of the story.

But with this kid?  The plot was thickening.

Rich 5:51pm
Don’t worry, I’m on my best behavior at work.  Whippersnappers love me ;)

Cameron 5:53pm
You look a little young to be a doctor.  Are you in your residency?

Shit.  Gabriel hadn’t even thought about that.  He was too busy interrogating the other man and looking for tells to remember he’d faked this account also.  At this point in the conversation, he would normally be telling the random person he was fucking with that he was a semi-professional basketball player, an underwear model, a friggin contestant on The Voice.  He’d never blabbed anything that was actually true.

Back to the bullshitting, then!

Rich 5:55pm
Okay, I lied.  I’m a nurse, sue me
Thought you’d think I was hotter if I was a doctor

Cameron 5:57pm
Anyone who devotes their time to helping with kids is hot

Rich 5:59pm
Oh yeah?  Good answer!  I love the little squirts, they’re the ones who get me through the twelve hour days
Sure ain’t the staff I tell ya

--------------------

Sam paused as his fingers hovered over the keyboard because…really?  Did he just call this guy hot?  That was a complete accident.  But he believed him, for some reason, that he worked at this place, especially because of the slip-up from doctor to nurse.  It was weird, but it gave him a place to start at least.

Just then, another message lit up his screen and he cursed to himself.

Dean 6:00pm
Hey look at us being all punctual :)

Shit, now he’d have to multi-task between acting like Cas and…well, he supposed he was acting pretty much like himself in this other conversation, but he was doing so strategically.

Cameron 6:02pm
We had an appointment

---------------------

Dean couldn’t help but grin at the screen when he typed back:

Dean 6:04pm
Is that a doctor joke? ;)

Cameron 6:07pm
I hadn’t meant for it to be but I suppose it could be taken as such
How was your day?

Dean 6:09pm
Oh it was a day all right.  Glad it’s over
What are you up to?

Cameron 6:17pm
I’m afraid I’m still at the library working on a paper but you’re a nice distraction
I was in need of a break

Dean 6:18pm
I bet so
What do you like to do with your downtime?  If you get any?

Cameron 6:29pm
I enjoy reading

To be honest, Dean was growing concerned with the elongated time that elapsed between texts and he hoped he wasn’t bothering the other man.  

Or worse: boring him.  

He just didn’t know how to approach this and whether he should start to lay on the charm or just let it unfold organically.

Cameron said he needed a distraction, and Dean felt like he was a poor example of one right now.  So he sighed and decided to go for it.

Dean 6:33pm
What about movies?  Dinner?  Think that’s something you’d ever fill your downtime with?
Maybe with a new friend? :)

The pause was even greater, and he’d felt like he’d messed up.

Cameron 6:45pm
You’re kind of an ass, aren’t you?

Dean jerked back from the text, his eyes wide and his jaw dropped because…what the hell?  Whatever.  He didn’t need-

Cameron 6:46pm
Oh God, I did not mean that to be sent to you
I was attempting to tell off someone else
I sincerely apologize

With a roll of his eyes, Dean responded:

Dean 6:48pm
Looks like you’re getting the hang of the app
I’ll let you get back to telling that other guy off

Cameron 6:50pm
No, I swiped incorrectly early on when I was getting used to this
Would you like to meet tomorrow evening?
I’d like to make it up to you

There was trepidation in Dean’s mind as he read and re-read the message and said fuck it.

Dean 6:54pm
You’re already down for dinner?

Cameron 6:56pm
Yes, I have a good feeling
May I message you when I’ve finished studying?
I apologize again

Dean 6:57pm
Don’t sweat it
And sounds like a plan
We’ll chat soon

Cameron 6:58
I’d like that, thank you

Dean groaned and set his phone on the side table to head into the kitchen to heat up the leftover pizza.  That was strange.  But it wasn’t like he had anything going on tomorrow, and dinner wasn’t anything big.  He hadn’t been out to dinner on a date in who knows how long.  He was used to a bar and then a quick tumble in the sheets.

This was innocent, this was getting to know each other better because clearly the technology part was a block between them and maybe meeting face to face would be better.  At least, Dean had higher hopes for it.  Actually, now that he thought about it and he’d calmed down from the random ‘fuck you’ text, he was feeling great about it.

All right.  Dinner date.  He could do this.

---------------------

Sam was fucking sweating from the near panic-attack he’d had, because apparently the multi-tasking had not gone according to plan.  

At least he’d momentarily calmed down the situation between ‘Cameron’ and Dean, but now he had to clue Cas into the situation and tell him he had a date tomorrow.  Oh, he’d just be thrilled about that.

Jesus fucking Christ.

He looked back on his conversation with ‘Rich’ to see what had gone so terribly wrong.

Cameron 6:03pm
Problems with the staff or the doctors?

Rich 6:05pm
Oh, you know all the medical dramas
Now, imagine that with crazy, psycho parents
And the staff having to deal with them and taking it out on the nurses
If only the kiddos could just sign a waiver and leave ‘em in the waiting room

Cameron 6:09pm
Does that mean you speak infant?

Rich 6:12pm
Fluently!  I’m a cunning linguist <3

Cameron 6:16pm
Didn’t see that one coming, or anything

Rich 6:18pm
I’m not even gonna take a crack at that one

Cameron 6:21pm
I cannot believe they let you around children

Rich 6:24pm
Hahaha see, this is where my inner animal comes out to play because I’m on my best behavior all day.  You just happened to swipe right while I’m in the thick of my comedy routine

Cameron 6:27pm
I got so lucky.  Do you moonlight as a comedian?

Rich 6:30pm
Nah, as a stripper.  I mean, have you seen my hot bod?

Cameron 6:36pm
So subtle.  Can’t really see that ‘hot bod’ through the flannel, though.  How do I know it’s there?

Rich 6:40pm
I could describe it in graphic, anatomically correct detail for you, if you’d like.  I mean, I am a well-trained professional ;)

Cameron 6:45pm
You’re kind of an ass, aren’t you?

Rich 6:47pm
With a great ass :-*

-------------------------

Gabriel frowned at the screen because apparently his bantering partner had disappeared.  Which was a shame, he’d been having fun.  So he broke the silence with:

Rich 6:56pm
Did I scare you away :(

Cameron 7:08pm
Sorry, I gotta pack up and get home I’ve been at the library too long and I’m starving

“Hah!  Nailed it!”  Gabriel cackled to his empty house with a fist pump, because he’d been right.

Totally a student!

Which still didn’t make a lick of sense.

Rich 7:10pm
That doesn’t answer if I scared you away or not

Cameron 7:12pm
I don’t scare easy
Bye

And just like that, he signed out.

Which left Gabriel with mixed feelings about the entire encounter.  He should be stoked he narrowed down the demographic of this hooligan, but he was bummed they didn’t get to chat more.  Which was strange.  Normally, he was the one in control of everything but this time he’d felt the tug of war and it was exciting.  He almost wished both of them weren’t catfishing each other.

What the actual hell?

Chapter Text

Sam was sweating bullets as his study session with Cas came up.  He’d confirmed the date with “Cam” and Dean earlier that day and casually asked if Cas was doing anything after their meeting.  When Cas said he was free for the evening, Sam suggested they get a bite.  Cas agreed to dinner, but had no idea who he would really be eating with.

Because it sure wasn’t Sam…

Dean, being just as oblivious to Sam’s scheme as Cas, seemed pretty stoked about his date with “Cam” when Sam finalized their plans. Which, of course, ended up being at the same. fucking. time. that he was talking with “Rich.”

So another day, another heart attack.

Why am I doing this to myself?  He thought from within a whirlwind of confusion, and the ugliest manifestation of anxiety.  Better be worth it.

This multitasking was beginning to wear on him.  Sam had thought better of his skills but apparently he’d overestimated his abilities.  Hopefully he’d be able to pass one burden off on his friend… Especially since he’d promised to chat with Rich later that night.  If everything worked out in his favor, Cas would be with Dean and he’d only have to catfish one dude instead of two.  

...that was a sentence he never anticipated he'd be thinking.  Where had his life gone so wrong?

Well, this was his plan the whole time.  The inevitable “set-up,” that was.  Now, he just needed to see it through.

They met at the library with their normal greetings and smiles.  Sam’s was mostly forced and Cas noticed right away as he pulled out his laptop and books.

“Is there something wrong, Sam?”  Castiel looked so damned concerned that Sam felt the sudden rush of guilt, but there was no turning back now.

However, there were other things to talk about so he could avoid the other thing first.

“No, not wrong, per se,” he mechanically pulled his belongings out and announced, “It worked!  I’m talking with the asshole who’s pretending to be me! And let me just say, he’s a huge dick.”

Sam could have sworn there was a split-second tug of a grin on Cas’ face before he inquired, “What do you know about him?”

“He’s an outrageous flirt, so he’s making me look bad, number one,” a frown creased his forehead and his hand clenched into a fist.  “But I think I got him to spill some details on accident.  So get this: I’m almost positive he’s a doctor at the pediatric hospital.  Which sounds weird, but he slipped up his story and I think I caught that.  And, obviously, I can’t go knocking on all their doors, but it’s a start, right?”

“And he’s…continuing to engage you?”  Castiel raised an eyebrow, leaning in with piqued interest.  “Even though he’s ‘slipping up?’”

“Air-quotes, Cas,” he swatted at him and rolled his eyes, “But, yeah.  I don’t know why either, but…at least it’s not painful.  He may be a dick, but he’s funny.  Obviously, he needs to stop what he’s doing and it’s wrong, but the process isn’t as torturous as I thought it would be.”

“Interesting,” Cas tilted his head, studying Sam with appraisal.  “Well,  I’m glad I could help you.”

“Yeah, uh, speaking of helping me...” Sam hesitated as he chewed his lip, unsure how the hell to put this.  How the hell to make Cas go along with this.  Shit, he should just rip off the band-aide.  “I kind set you up on a date.”

“Excuse me?  I don’t believe I heard you-”

“No,” Sam wiped a hand down his face, “No, you did.  I have someone who really wanted to meet you.  He’s really attracted to you and wants to take you to dinner.”

With a stone-face, Castiel continued to stare him down with enough scrutiny Sam began to shrink in his chair.  “Sam... What did you do?”

“I…well,” he began helplessly flapping his hands, “Before I could correct him and tell him that I was me, he started flirting with who he thought was you and I just…pretended to be you.  And I got really excited, because I’ve been wanting to set you two up for a while and this chance just jumped in my lap, so it was meant to be!”

That is why you asked what I was doing after the study session tonight.”  Cas’ eyes were narrowed dangerously and there was a razor-sharp edge to his tone when he demanded, “Who is it?”

“D-Dean?” he squeaked under the sheer intensity of his gaze.

Your brother?!  You set me up with your brother?” Cas gawked in disbelief, his jaw dropped before he gained back his momentum. “The one you’ve repeatedly complained about being a womanizer and a functioning alcoholic with a two-year-old mentality?”

With a cheesy smile, Sam playfully pushed Cas’ shoulder and halfheartedly laughed, “Oh, he’s not that bad!”

“Sam!  Why the hell-!”  He was only silenced by the multiple glares shot at him by others in the library. “Why the hell did you think this was a good idea?!”

“You only hear about the bad things, dude, 'cause you're my friend and you listen to me vent.  Dean is seriously one of the best guys out there, and I want you to give him a chance.  Just this one dinner?  I promise it’ll be fun.  If there’s anything I know about Dean, it’s that you’ll have a good time with him.”  Sam urged him with the biggest pair of puppy eyes he could muster, “Please?”

Cas collapsed under the weight of Sam’s sure-fire arsenal and huffed, “Just this one dinner.”

With a massive sigh of relief, Sam gushed out, “Thank you, thank you, holy fucking shit.”  Then, after the initial happiness wore off he added, “Um, there are a few things that I may have told him that, uh, aren’t quite true.”

With an unimpressed arched eyebrow, Cas deadpanned, “Like what, exactly?”

“Like…your name’s Cameron?”  He sheepishly admitted, “And you’re working on your doctorate and studying to be an OBGYN because you’re a huge advocate for women’s rights.  And I may have mentioned you did an internship in India last semester... Please don’t hit me-”

“Dammit, Sam!”

-------------------

“Waitaminute!” Charlie slammed her hands down on Dean’s desk. “You, Dean Winchester, are going on a cute dinner date?  No liquor and leave ‘em?  Hit it and quit it?  Just an innocent get-to-know-you meet up?”

“That so hard to believe?”  He raised his voice in challenge and ordered, “Close yer mouth. You’re catching flies.  ‘Sides, you’re the one who put this into motion!  You should be happy or whatever.”

“Oh, believe me, I am!  And I need to know the deets the moment you’re finished!”  She urged him with both her giddy tone and flailing arms.  Charlie then took the liberty of scooting around the edge of the wooden surface and depositing herself in Dean’s lap.  With her arm slung around his shoulder, she demanded, “What are you going to wear?”

“You’re turning into a tumor. You're a menace,” he pinched her in the side, which made her yip but didn’t scare her off.  “I can handle myself, thank you very much!  I’m a grown ass man. Not your Ken doll to play dress-up with.”

“You’re totes are my Ken doll.  Don’t even lie.  And you like it.”

“That was one time!  And I’m still having nightmares about it.”  Dean dramatically shivered, hoping it would knock her off him but alas, she was an immovable force.  “You gave me shopping PTSD!”

“So dramatic.  Hey, speaking of... Do you know where you’re going yet?  Is it gonna be romantic and candlelit or are you gonna show him the real you?”  She grinned widely and then batted Dean’s hands away from the laptop to correct the report herself. “Dude, you used the wrong form of ‘there.’ Your head’s in the clouds.”  Then she clicked away at the keyboard to finish the sentence.

The man groaned and tossed his head back, laying it over Charlie’s shoulder.  He tried to sound offended when he asked, “What’s that supposed to mean?  The 'real me?'  You talking trash, Red?”

“Nah, just know hole-in-the-wall is your style.  Could be his, too, if he turns out to be of the hipster variety.  Pics say chances are fifty-fifty,” she hummed thoughtfully, “But doctor?  I don’t know.  That could mean high expectations or it could mean broke.  Which is why,” she finally scooted off her friend, “you have to fill me in right after!  So much mystery!”

“You mean: so many'a your predictions and even more for me to worry about now, you asshole,” Dean would deny he was pouting, because he hadn't thought about all that, while she shamelessly blew him a kiss.  “Whatever.  I gotta finish this and then I’m headed home.”

“Let me know if you need any advise from your personal stylist!”

“Eat me, Joan Rivers.”

“Too soon, dude!”

-------------------

While Sam worked tirelessly on their assignments, Castiel was brewing with a strange turmoil he hadn’t felt in a while.  It definitely wasn't from their homework, considering he wasn't even focused on that right now.

No, he was too busy Googling the pre-med program at their university, and study abroad programs to India (turns out Stanford did not offer any last year, so he had to search for a third party or charity group he could discuss if the topic was brought up). Oh, and another thing Sam had failed to mention?  Apparently, “Cam” spoke French.  So he was learning some basic ‘parlor trick’ phrases that he could pull out if need be.

Jesus, this was a huge pain in the ass.

Castiel questioned why he was even doing this to begin with.

Was it because Sam was such a good friend?  Was it because, yes, maybe he did need to get out and try to meet someone?  But why go through all this trouble and jump through all these hoops?

That part was definitely for Sam, because he would be the one to incur his brother’s fury at being deceived.  However, for Castiel, this could go one of two ways:

They could have a terrible time, Cas had played his part, the situation was dropped.

Things go well, Cas admits to some of the falsehoods, and they get a good laugh out of it later down the line, if that existed.

After all, when he’d read through the earlier conversations on Sam’s phone, it had been innocent enough.  Besides the ridiculous details, Sam had been true to Cas’ voice and hadn’t built him up to be an excellent conversationalist or anything wildly entertaining - which he was happy for.  Especially because it took Cas getting to know the person and deeming them worthy before he really allowed himself to open up.

He didn’t want to have to be someone who wasn’t him, and even though he had some addition roles roles to fill, Sam didn’t tweak his personality.

There was a great difference between who he was as an individual and what he did.

Thankfully, Sam hadn’t changed who he was.

He’d just merrily fucked the rest of it to hell.

Cas was lost in his thoughts when Sam’s phone pinged.  His eyes snapped up and he asked, “Is that him?”

“Yeah. It is.” Sam pursed his lip as he mulled over the text. “Where do you guys wanna go?”

With a look of confusion, Cas answered, “I thought that was already decided?”

“Yeah, well, Dean’s a gentleman sometimes,” he rolled his eyes, running a hand through his hair, “and he, quote, 'realized he doesn’t even know what you like,' so he’s still picking you up here while I hide, but he wants to take you to your favorite place.  Good thing I didn't make up some shit about that, right?”

“You say ‘gentleman’ like it’s a bad thing,” Cas absently tapped the end of his pen on the table before he shrugged, “I think that’s thoughtful.  What would you suggest?”

“It’s up to you, dude,” Sam’s thumbs were hovering over the keyboard, “it’s your date.”

“Technically speaking, it’s Cameron’s date.  Set up by you.  So I believe you have just as much input as me,” he quipped back instantly.

When Sam physically slumped in his chair, Castiel felt a fleck of triumph and made a show of crossing his arms and pushing, “So?”

“I dunno.  I mean, fancy isn’t really either of you guys’ things.  So maybe some place chill and relaxed?  But not a diner.  Because it is a date.  What about that place on Grange we went to during restaurant week?  The Heidelberg?”

Cas nodded as he searched through his memory banks, “Yes, I liked that place. They had excellent appetizers.  It was more of a pub and grill, wasn’t it?”

“Dean will be all over that,” he agreed as he quickly typed out the message.  “All right.  Location change, but I think it’s for the best.  After all, he’s driving and if you decide he’s not for you, they’ve got cheap beer.”

“I’ll admit, I’m quite confused.”  Castiel leaned forward on the table until he had Sam’s full attention.  “You want me to date your brother and you said you’ve wanted us to meet for a long time, yet your confidence is see-sawing at every given minute.  I do not understand.  It’s as though you’re the nervous one, being forced into this date under false pretense.”

“Ah, I’m sorry!”  When he put it like that, Sam felt like an idiot.  “Maybe it’s because I want it to work?  But I still want to give you an out because I feel like a jerk, having put it together like this?  I don’t know.”

With a heavy sigh, Cas decided it would be better to put Sam out of his misery and tried to calm his friend, “I’ll do my best.  I really will.  But I’m not making any promises.”

“That’s all I ask,” Sam smiled sincerely, then stated equally as sincere, “My brother’s a great guy.  He really is.  And I think if you give him a chance, you’ll really like him.  All this…garbage aside.  When it’s just the two of you, one on one, you’re gonna hit it off.”

Cas didn’t respond with words, he simply huffed and went back to his studies on India.

After all, the final countdown had arrived.

----------------------

Dean cursed over and over as he was stuck in traffic because of a goddamn accident on the expressway and he was running late.  And not a little late.  This was an accident during rush hour and all the cars were at a dead stop on one of the bridges, with no exit lane in sight.  He was the dick that was laying on the horn, shouting out, “Really?!” and being a general pain in the ass to everyone surrounding him.

There was no way he’d have enough time to go home and change to get ready for his date.  Running along the southbound route was construction and that was something he’d accounted for when picking up Cameron from Stanford.  However, with two delays, there was just no way.

He’d had a meeting earlier in the day, so he was still dressed up in his goddamn monkey suit.  Now, he’d have to show up looking like a corporate douche, or even worse - some kind of overly proper nerd, prince charming-wannabe.  This was not how he’d intended to make his first impression.

He’d been thinking about Charlie and her ‘what are you wearing’ comment all day. He’d already visualized the outfit and where it was in his closet and everything.  

And now, all his dreams of showing off his ass had been shattered.  

Broken into a million pieces by some dick who probably had been texting and driving.  While he didn’t wish death upon them, he hoped for a broken leg, at least...the fucker.

…He may or may not have been really stoked about his awesome blazer, too.

So fuck a broken leg! Add in some bruised ribs while they’re at it!

The sun was setting and his music was blasting.  Dean looked at the time and realized there was no chance, so he grabbed his phone and sent the text:

Dean 6:45pm
Running a little late, accident on freeway
Don’t make fun of my work clothes just pretend I’m fancy

Cameron 6:49pm
I’ll promise to keep any judgments to myself
Would you prefer to meet at the location?
I can take my belonging back to my apartment first then

Dean thought about it for a second and sighed, knowing it would probably be for the best.

Dean 6:52pm
Yeah that’ll work out
Think I can get there by 7:30
That sound good?

Cameron 6:54pm
Yes, I’ll see you then

He felt like a jerk for not only postponing, but a part of him knew he was helping out by picking Cameron up at the library and then dropping him off at his apartment.  Now he’d be putting the guy through either public trans or cabs that he shouldn’t have needed to worry about.  Dean remembered the struggle.  Even though he had Baby, he never wanted to brave driving her through the city or risk parking her every day for classes, so he’d bitched and moaned through public trans, too.

It was the school life you couldn’t avoid if you wanted things to make sense.  Everything else was just an unnecessary hassle.  He wished he could have helped, he really did, but there was no choice.

That didn’t mean the date tonight was going to be any less than awesome, though.

Dean could feel it, and he promised them both that.  If only this fucking accident would clear up and he could get to the restaurant one day, that’d be fucking nice too.

----------------------

“Looks like I’m taking you home,” Sam began shoving things into his bag when his friend blinked up at him with a strange look.

“Has the date been cancelled?”  His tone was suspicious, like the next thing he was going to demand was if he’d done all this research in vain, but Sam stopped him before he could go off on that tangent.

“Nah, he’s just stuck in traffic.  Wants to meet at the Heidelberg.  Pack up!”

Even though Cas shut down his laptop and began tucking his belongings away, he still asked, “Why are you accompanying me home?  Shouldn’t I just meet him there?”

“Because he’s gonna message me if something changes,” Sam shook the phone in front of his face, “And, trust me, there are always things that could go wrong.  So we’re gonna drop your stuff off and when we know he’ll be there for sure, we’ll get you a cab.”

“I can walk, you know.”  His frown was directed at the zippers while he closed the backpack even though Sam knew it was meant for him.

“Yeah, but we’ve gotta be quick about these things.  He can’t see you with me.  Not yet, at least.  So once we’ve got the go ahead?  You need to get there, and fast.  There’s too much room for error, there’s-”

He was interrupting, but a small burst of laughter that erupted from Cas’ chest as he slung the bag over his shoulder.  He shook his head and apologized, “Sorry, sorry, it’s just…the urgency of this is quite jarring.”  When Cas looked up and saw one of Sam’s famous bitchfaces, he tried to placate him with, “Remember, I’m doing this for you.  Now, let’s get back to my apartment and wait for word.”

“It is kinda dumb, isn’t it?”

“I didn’t say dumb, you did.”

“But you were thinking it,” Sam accused as they walked about of the library.  “And…yeah, it is.”

Then, Sam joined in the laughter as they trekked across campus to Cas’ apartment.

-----------------------

Eventually, Sam had all but shoved Cas out of the door saying it was ‘go-time’ and into the cab.  He was swept away and dropped off in front of the familiar restaurant in no time.  Judging by his watch, Castiel was also quite positive he was still early.  Mostly because Sam’s brother was driving; parking around the area was extremely difficult and valet was nonexistent because it was in the college part of town.

Castiel didn’t bother waiting outside. He decided he’d get a table and that the whole debacle, especially with his agreement to participate, had earned him a beer.  He followed a pretty young waitress to a booth that was in view of the door, a section that spanned the entire side wall, and ordered a pint.  Because why the hell not?

Dean Winchester was a man Castiel had seen in numerous photos on Sam’s phone, on his facebook, hanging in his apartment. He knew he wouldn’t miss him when he arrived.  And if by some strange stroke of luck he did, he’d already told the hostess his fake “name” and where to find him.

Right around the same time his beer arrived and Castiel took his first sip, the man in question shot in through the doors, appearing flustered with his focus darting around the establishment.

However, Cas didn’t jump up to greet him.  Nope.  He was too busy staring.

The pictures didn’t do this man justice at all.  He could see the strong angle of his jaw line from here and his bright eyes searching the room.  And if Castiel was honest?  He thought it a happy accident that the man didn’t have time to go home and change.  The cut of the suit was extremely flattering and added this element of class that destroyed everything Sam had ever told Cas about his brother.  All of his preconceived notions of who Dean Winchester was flew out the window.

As Dean scanned the wall and the booths, his eyes finally landed on Castiel and a smile warmed his face.  And, dammit, if that smile and those green eyes drawing closer didn’t have Cas up and out of his seat quicker than he would have liked, he couldn't be held accountable.

“Hey!”  Dean sounded out of breath but the timbre of his voice was excited as he extended his hand, “Sorry I’m late. It’s good to officially meet you.  Obviously, I’m Dean.”

When Castiel took his hand, it was warm.  He politely smiled, but stumbled when he said, “Cas-meron.  You can call me Cam.  It’s not a problem. It was nice to put my things away, anyhow.  How was the drive?”

As they both took their seat, Dean deliberately pointed at Castiel’s drink and announced, “Like I could use one’a those!  Jesus, it almost killed me!  Last time I was in traffic like that was in friggin New York, and that’s just because it was New York.  Ah, but it’s good to finally relax.”

The waitress was over in a flash, noticing the remaining party had arrived and Dean eagerly ordered a beer of his own before turning back.  “Enough about my miniature trip to Hell.  How are you?  I’m surprised you agreed to meeting me so quick,” with a grin he amended, “not a bad thing, just surprised.”

Cas tried not to roll his eyes, and instead admitted, “Technology isn’t as kind to me as personal interactions.  Well, I shouldn’t say that.  A lot of people tell me my people skills aren’t that amazing either,” he wrapped his hand around the handle of the beer mug.  “But I had a friend who thought I needed to put myself out there and I took his advice.  So here I am.”

“Same friend who roped you into Tinder?”  Dean knew it wasn’t a stab in the dark, so he didn’t bother to hide the impish grin on his face.  “Thought it was time for you to step away from your studies?”

“Exactly.”

“Hey, if it makes you feel any better, I’ve got the same story.”  The waitress brought the man’s beer and delivered it directly into his grabby hands and he chugged before admitting, “I’ve been up to my neck in work.  That’s my life.  That’s all I’ve been doing.  It was actually a coworker of mine who set me up, too.”

“So this is a watered down arranged marriage, of sorts,” Cas mused and couldn’t help but get caught up in the mischief dancing in Dean’s eyes.  “That makes me feel much better, actually.  I felt quite a bit of pressure, but now that I know you’re in the same boat…”

“Kinda lifts the weight?” he guessed with a smile.  When Cas nodded his affirmation, Dean blew out through his lips and admitted, “Gotta say, I love your honesty.  We can just hang out, have a good time, see where things go from there?”

“Yes, I believe that’s amendable.”  When he opened the menu, that was when he realized he was honest-to-God smiling, because the present company was refreshing.

Even though Dean’s comment about “honesty” may have been a little…misguided.  

----------------------

“Can't lie, Cam, I feel like I’m robbing the cradle,” Dean chuckled into his half-empty beer as he watched Cas.

They were having a fantastic time and the drinks were making them both a bit loose lipped and Cas scoffed at the accusation - having drank a good deal more than Dean since he had a ride home and didn’t have to worry about being sober.

“Hardly,” he pointed at him, “robbing the cradle, to me, constitutes one party being underage or over a decade gap.  You’re only, what, four?  Five years older than I am?”

“You’re a baby,” then he looked over to the garment hook on the edge of their seat, “in a trenchcoat.”

“I resent that.”  He shot Dean a mocking glare as the waitress took their finished, and shared, empty appetizer baskets while Castiel stated, “I can already tell that I’m the more mature one, so numbers are irrelevant.”

“Sassy, too!  I like it,” Dean couldn’t help but wink.  “There are so many sides to you.  I think meeting up was the best idea, I couldn’t get the full effect over texting, you know?  You’re something else.”  He knew his eyes were glowing, but he could feel a damn crush coming in hot and growing by the second.

Castiel wasn’t much better off.  He found the man who Sam had admittedly defined as crass and a number of problems anything but.  He was endearing, ungodly attractive, and highly intelligent.  No one had sparked Cas’ interest like this in...well, ever.  While everyone was convinced that he was oblivious to sexual advances (like the ones Meg made on him), he was very much aware and chose to ignore them instead.  After all, he wasn’t looking for anything, it would be bothersome for his studies yet...

In this case?  The last thing he wanted was for Dean to stop.

He welcomed them and even though everything had been innocent flirting he couldn’t help but become sucked in to the increasing attraction.  He mused to himself that perhaps Sam should have introduced them sooner.

Cas only hoped he was being subtle when he found himself blatantly checking out the man in front of him.  But he couldn’t help it.  The way Dean's face came alive when he laughed, the beautiful span of freckles across his face, his lips...shit.  Cas needed to focus.

“I am quite happy we were able to make tonight work.  I hope the traffic and the frustration was worth it.”  Castiel grinned and shook his head, “I am much more comfortable in person than over an app, to say the least.”  Even though he, personally, was never on the app to begin with, that was irrelevant.

“Totally worth it,” Dean promised with a glow and then teased, “Plus, now I get to hear all your stories in person and ask all the questions that would’a taken too long to type out!”  He leaned closer, kind of wishing there wasn't a table keeping the apart, and asked in excitement, “So that must have been insane!  Delivering that baby elephant in India!  How much different was it than real babies?”

Fuck.

Castiel was internally balking, not having been prepared for this curve ball, and he tried to steel his resolve and come up with some bullshit answer.  He gave himself time to think.  Still he immediately stalled, by grabbing the pint and drinking until Dean’s eyes widened.  It was then he realized he’d drained nearly a full glass while his brain went into overdrive, searching for logical explanations.

“Oh,” he glanced at the beer, then improvised, “it was…high pressure.  Even the memory,” he forced and awkward chuckle.  “Like most large, wild animals the infant just…drops out.  I barely lent much assistance.”

“Wait?  Like, the mom doesn’t even lie down to have the baby?”  Dean was so intrigued by the concept, “I’m not really up to date on my Animal Planet, so, shit, that’s gotta be a rude awakening.  Do they have contractions?  How did you know she was going into labor?  Did you have to cut the umbilical cord?”

“She…” Cas was desperately trying to search through his memory bank about anything and everything he knew about wildlife, which was slim to none, but he did remember one thing about large mammals.  “When I meant I helped deliver the baby - you understand human children sometimes need a little pat or rub to take their first breaths?  New mothers must do the same in the wild, and elephants are supposed to nudge their young, and this mother didn't seem to know-”

“So you kicked a newborn elephant?” There was a wide grin snaking its way across Dean’s face.

“I did not ‘kick it!’  I merely jumpstarted her system with a bit more force-“ Cas was gesturing wildly because of nerves with the empty glass as a prop and accidentally knocked the salt over on the table.

The glass shaker clattered down as they both went to pick it up, Cas cursing, “shit,” and Dean ordering, “throw it over your shoulder!”

Cas tilted his head to the side, but because he was in fight-or-flight mode over goddamn elephant birthing, he didn’t scoop the small, white flecks into his hand like the old wives tale ordered.  

Nope.  

He grabbed the entire salt-shaker and chucked it behind him without a second thought.

Everything took on a sluggish slow-motion scene from a movie as the realization of what he’d just done hit Cas.  His jaw dropped and a hot, red flush overwhelmed his entire face, while Dean’s manic, open-mouthed smirk could only be see half a second as his head dropped to table and he began giggling uncontrollably.

There was a woman’s shrill shrieked, “What the flying fuck?!” from booths behind them paired with a shattering noise.  

Instantly, it was followed by a man’s, “Not flying fuck, honey, flying salt-” and what was probably a waitress screaming, “Oh my God!  Are you alright!?”

Cas’ hand darted up to cover his still-gaping, hanging jaw and the tremors of Dean’s muffled laughter were beginning to shake the entire goddamn table.  Which made Cas, half out of embarrassment, half out of annoyance, kick the man across from him in the shin.  Hard.

Dean yelped and when their eyes met, there was pure fucking joy in Dean’s over Cas’ mortification and it was that look that made Cas melt a little and twist his own look of humiliation into a glare.

Then, Dean had the balls to cluck his tongue and wiggle his eyebrows at him with a, “Nice throw, there, Cam.”

“I think I fucking hate you.”  He huffed, trying to gather himself because Dean was flagging down the waitress.

“No, you’re not allowed to.  Yer too friggin adorable.”

“No, I’m not,” there was a dangerous edge to his voice that had Dean raising a now very interesting eyebrow, “Although I am a bit buzzed.  That is how I will justify my actions.”

“Oh yeah?” Dean turned his body back to face his now stoic and gathered date.  “What other kinds of actions would you be willing to justify?”

“That all depends on you.”  Cas watched him coolly and didn’t miss the way the other man blatantly looked down at his lips, shifted in the booth and paused to come up with a retort.

That’s when Castiel realized that despite all Sam’s talk about Dean being the 'womanizer' and a self-proclaimed 'playboy,' he was out of his element right now.  Cas most definitely had one up on Dean Winchester and he decidedly loved the feeling and would enjoy this game.  So he continued to watch him intently and wait for an answer as the other man fumbled with his words.

He was saved when their waitress was in sight, and decided on, “Well, we’ll, uh, just have to see where the night takes us, huh?” and by the end was able to pull his bravado back together.

Although it took her a while to come over, Dean was thankful for her timing and he immediately ordered a round of shots and a fill-up on Cas’ drink.  Both of them noticed the way she suspiciously eyed their lone pepper-shaker on the table, and couldn’t help but bust out laughing once she was gone.

However, Castiel simply rolled his eyes when Dean’s follow-up move was to make a joke where the punch line included the pun of being “a-salt-ed.”

Castiel was fascinated with the man in front of him and utterly, completely taken now.  Despite his shoddy humor.  And if Cas had anything to do about it?  Their night was just beginning.

As long as they didn’t get kicked out of this pub.

-----------------------

Sam was on pins and needles about how the kinda-blind-date was going, even though he was also debating whether or not he should log in to see if “Rich” was online.  But…what if Dean saw that “Cameron” was online?  It wasn’t like his brother to be on his phone during a date, but if he happened to glance and notice, Dean would either be confused that Cas wasn’t on his phone, or he would be offended Cas/Cam was still looking for other people to match him while he was on a date.

Sam groaned into the room because he really wanted to chat with Rich again.  Putting together these puzzle pieces was becoming a damn addiction and he hadn’t spoken with him all day.

What if the other man lost interest?  What if Sam lost his lead?  He couldn’t afford to give up now.

So he slowly took his phone out of his pocket and crossed his fingers Dean wasn’t online.

If worse came to worse, he, as Cameron, as Cas, could say he forgot to logout when they were meeting up.  Or something.  Whatever.

Sam laughed, because the second he connected his phone lit up with:

Rich 10:34pm
Hey sexy wasn’t sure I’d hear from you tonight
Thought you stood me up

Cameron 10:37pm
One hell of a busy day
Thought you’d be having one of those too

Rich 10:40pm
Happens to be my day off!
I told you that
You get brain damage along the way?
Sorry I can’t help with that, ain’t my field

Cameron 10:43pm
Hah hah my brain’s still in tact

Then, just for fun - Sam added:

Cameron 10:44pm
Maybe it's because with all the people I talk to it kind of gets blurred
I’m sure you have that problem a lot huh?

Rich 10:46pm
Oo so you’re one of those
How many you got on the hook, you skank?

Cameron 10:48pm
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours

He didn’t know why this stupid-almost-kind-of-flirting came so easy because it shouldn’t have.  Any initial anger he felt towards this masked man had faded and now it was just a playful Nancy Drew novel with approximately twenty-three thousand sexual innuendos thrown into the mix.

Rich 10:50pm
You happen to be my pride and joy atm
But don’t get too full of yourself
Work’s been a bitch lately and you’re a handful

Cameron 10:52pm
Wow I feel special

Rich 10:54pm
You better
Your turn

Cameron 10:57pm
Two, but I’m pretty sure the other’s interests were caught elsewhere and now I’m down to you
How many people have you actually met through this?

The first part was true, at least.  Then Sam slipped in the question to see just how huge of a liar this person was.  After all, Sam knew for a fact the answer was zero, but would this guy and his inflated ego admit that or just keep bullshitting?

Rich 11:00pm
Aww so I’m the runner-up?  That sucks a giant dick, you sure know how to treat a girl

Cameron 11:02pm
And you’re evading the question once again
I’m starting to think you’re all talk
What if I didn’t care about the other one and it was you I wanted to meet up?
Let’s make it happen

There was a lengthy pause after Sam’s bold statement and he was waiting.  Waiting longer than he ever had because Rich was full of witty rebuttals and quick snark...  Which was strange.  If he did this a lot, he obviously had a go-to default answer about why they couldn’t meet up, so why wasn’t he just playing that card?  What the hell was taking so long?

It got to the point where Sam actually had to find something to do.

So he settled in front of the TV and found something to watch.

But then he remembered exactly how to get a response.  Something this man couldn’t deal with:

Cameron 11:20pm
Or not, guess I’m a runner up too
That sucks you’re are all talk

Something even stranger happened after that.

Rich signed off.

Sam stared at his phone in disbelief because…really?  Playing hard to get was always the thing that seemed to work with this guy and it had pushed him away?

That had not gone according to plan. At all.

--------------------------

Dean had cut himself off after their shots because he promised to drive Cas back to his apartment, but that didn’t mean Cas had stopped drinking.  He hadn’t had a night out in a long-ass time, let alone one that he’d enjoyed this much.  Most of the time, it had been with their group of pre-law students and they were just drinking to get drunk and then dreading the inevitable hangover.  But now that they were in law school, those days were in the past.

This current time, Cas was thoroughly enjoying making Dean hot under the collar.

After that first moment, the first glimpse of realizing that the man wasn’t in as much control as he thought, Castiel had seized the opportunity and exploited it.  He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt Dean was attracted to him. He could see it in his body language, written on his face, and no matter how hard he tried to sweet-talk him, Cas knew he was the one who would come out on top.

It was interesting, the entire dynamic, and he could understand why Sam thought certain things about his brother, but those were most definitely were not true.  In this situation, at least.

Maybe it was just because of who Castiel was.

Maybe Dean acted differently around other people and Cas just knew how to get under his skin.

It didn’t matter, because Dean’s phone vibrating in his pocket knocked them out of a particularly intense conversation where the man was hanging off Cas’ every word and ruined the moment.

“Uh oh,” Castiel teased, relaxing in the booth, “it’s too late to be getting texts from work.  Perhaps you’ve been holding out on me and there are other people you’ve been set up with?  Should I be jealous?”

With a snort, Dean shook his head and explained with a wide grin, “It’s actually my setter-upper.  She wondered how my date went.”  Their eyes locked again and Dean found himself absently licking his lips, “She, uh, guess she doesn’t know it’s still going on.”  He physically jerked himself out of his stupor and with a sharp intake of breath realized, “Shit, when’s your first class tomorrow?  It’s almost one, I didn’t even realize-”

“Dean,” he ordered in a low voice that seemed to calm the flustered man, “I’m buzzed, not stupid.  I don’t have a curfew.  I want to be out with you.”  Then he reached into his coat jacket, “That being said, we should head back to my apartment soon before I decide to cross the line.”

“Cross…what line?”  Dean asked with an almost shy interest.

“Between buzzed and drunk," Cas chuckled and pulled out his wallet, then asked in a husky voice, “What line were you thinking of?”

“Uh, same one.  What other line is there?”  He played it off and then snapped his fingers, “You!  Put your wallet away, I’m getting this one.  I was late, I showed up looking like a fuckin’ FBI agent.  This one is my treat.”  He handed the waitress his card before Cas could even make a move to stop him and then looked back haughtily.

Instead of arguing, which was his first instinct, Cas decided on, “Does that mean you want another?”

“Maybe.”  Dean gestured to his drink, “Finish that, hotshot.”

Maybe doesn’t get returned calls,” he taunted, grabbing the mug and chugging the rest of the beer easily.

Dean had to tear his eyes away as the woman brought back the card and the receipt, leaving her a large tip along with his signature; he knew what it was like to work off tip money, having bartended before. Internally, he hoped no one sued the establishment because of flying salt shakers.  He slipped his card back in his wallet and pulled on his coat.

When Dean stood up, the other man was right there, right up in his personal space, waving a hand with a, “Lead the way.”

It got Dean’s heart hammering from both proximity and being that fucking close to the other man.  All he could think about was hauling him in and kissing him, dammit.  Instead, he flashed what he hoped was a confident, borderline-come-hither expression, and took the lead until they were outside into the chilled beginnings of spring.  They walked side by side and Dean wanted nothing more than to hold his hand.  He didn't know you could crave something so...innocent?

Cas knew it and purposefully walked just close enough that their arms brushed every once in awhile.  He wasn’t surprised Dean had to park a few blocks down, just because of the time of day when he'd arrived.  It didn’t matter that it was a weekday.  It was still right around the dinner rush and parking was kill-or-be-killed anywhere.  Castiel knew right away when they were approaching Dean’s car. Sam had told him many stories about the Impala.

He also already knew that this Impala was called Baby.

But he wasn’t supposed to know.

So instead, Castiel commented, “She’s beautiful,” before he got in, which earned a bright smile from the other man.

“You just flew to my top five favorite people list, dude,” Dean couldn’t contain the glee as they both ducked into the car.

“Good,” Cas pulled on his seatbelt and casually added, “I like being on top.”

Dean had been poised to stick the keys in the ignition, but the second those words left Cas’ mouth, he fumbled and dropped them on the floor, cursing to himself.  With a grin, Castiel watched the other man flounder to find them on the dark floorboard and when he came back up, it wasn’t for a second attempt.  It was to Cas gripping the knot of his tie and hauling him over the space separating them, so they were less than a breath apart.

But instead of crashing their mouths together, like Dean had been ready for, Cas held him right there and asked with a lustful tone, “May I kiss you?”

“Jesusfuckyes-” Dean rushed out all at one.

And that was all the confirmation Castiel needed.

He used the knot of the tie to hold Dean just where he wanted him as he sealed their mouths together in a heated kiss.  There was no hesitation on Dean’s part when Cas’ tongue teased along the line of his lips, and he dropped his jaw.  Castiel didn’t hold back, licking inside the other man’s mouth, nipping and sucking his lips.

But when Dean moaned, Cas realized he was hard in his pants and they were still in a goddamn parking lot.

So he unwillingly pulled away, releasing the fisted fabric, and hating himself because of how beautifully disheveled Dean looked in that moment.  And, God, did Castiel want.  He hadn’t felt a hunger this strong in forever and to have this man right in front of him…

“I apologize,” he groaned and faced forward in his seat, awkwardly adjusting his erection, “I got carried away.”

“Hell, don’t apologize. That was awesome,” Dean’s voice was rough around the edges and it made Cas feel that desire all over again.  “I get it, let’s…get you home.”

Castiel caught the shaky movement out of the corner of his eye as Dean started the car and backed out of the parking lot.  In the midst of trying to will his boner away, he completely forgot he was supposed to be giving directions until they were right up on campus.  Finally, Cas got with the program and began directing as he should have been through the residential areas and towards a row of apartment buildings.

The entire drive, right up until the end, Castiel kept debating something in his head...and finally he settled on a decision when the Impala rolled into park.

“Hey,” Dean prompted, reaching out to take his hand, “I had a great time tonight, I really want-”

“Tonight’s not over,” Cas’ voice was more or less a rumbled order as he caught Dean’s eyes widening and pupils darkening.  “You’re coming in with me.”

“I-are you…I mean, are you sure?”  He stumbled over his words as Castiel got out of the car and looked over his shoulder, Dean slow to get out.  “Really?”

“Yes, really,” he rolled his eyes, “And before you ask, yes, you can park here.  It’s a safe area, your car won’t be towed or broken into.  Now get your ass inside with me.”

After that news?  Dean didn’t have to be told twice.  He locked up and was chasing behind the man like a tornado.  They went up three floors and after Cas unlocked the door, his buzzed brain hadn’t taken into account three very important things.

One: all his law books (not anatomy or OBGYN or whatever books) were strewn out on the tables and kitchen counter.

Two: he had pictures up on his bookshelves and a few of them had none other than Sam Winchester right alongside him.

Three: he didn’t have any of the things he’d need to fuck this beautiful, eager man plastered to his face right now.

Fucking hell!

He could remedy the first two by keeping the lights off, which he did as he dragged Dean by the jacket all the way to his bedroom.  But as he jerked his clothes off, piece by piece, he couldn’t help his mounting frustration about the last one issue.  Oh well, he’d make due.

Castiel shoved a now very-naked Dean down to his bed and grinned at his prone, hard and breathless form.  He always had a nightlight in the room.  He wasn't afraid of the dark, but on the nights he stumbled in half-asleep from late night-study sessions, it kept him from missing his mattress.  And right now, the soft glow was showing him something that made his mouth water.

He swiftly pulled his own clothing off before he crawled up the bed, Dean watching him with rapt attention, staying obediently in place for him - just as Cas knew he would.  He kissed Dean hard and used his body weight to pin him to the mattress, keeping his hips raised even though Dean’s were bucking up, seeking friction.

He whimpered into Cas’ mouth as his arms grappled out for his body, “God, you are fuckin’ gorgeous.”

Castiel chuckled and mouthed at the hinge of his jaw, before whispering into his ear, “And you are fuckin’ desperate, aren’t you?”

“Heh,” he ducked to capture Cas’ lips again, “caught me.  Now...what are you going to do with me?”

“Whatever I want,” he answered easily, raking his nails along Dean’s chest, leaving light pink marks in their wake.  “Unfortunately, not exactly what I want.  Tonight, at least.”

“Oh yeah?  What’s that mean-” his words turned into a strangled gasp as Cas’ hand wrapped around his cock and pumped it a few times.

He watched Dean’s reaction with delight and dipped down his body to rest between the man’s legs.  The gasp turned into a long moan as Cas lapped the precum gushing from the slit and then he swirled his tongue around the thick head of Dean's cock.  

Before he could get too carried away, Cas kissed Dean’s hipbone and explained, “I really want to fuck you right through this mattress tonight, but sadly, I don’t have the proper tools.”  Castiel kissed his other hipbone and made sure he had the man’s full attention.  “So instead, I’m gonna fuck you with two fingers, make sure you stay nice and tight for me, for next time when I do.  And I’m gonna suck you off so good... Make you cum down my throat.”

“Holy shit-” Dean rolled his hips, words coated with awe and incredible arousal, “Where the hell did you come from?”

Castiel answered with, “I’ll take that as a yes,” and he reached up, teasing a pair fingertips along Dean’s lips and ordered, “Suck.”

His mouth dropped open and he took in the digits with zeal, sucking and coating them with saliva in a way that sent a chill down Cas’ spine.

Except, when he pulled away, the next words out of Dean’s mouth were, “You’re fuckin’ perfect, Cam-”

And Castiel absolutely refused to hear Dean moan out a name that wasn’t his when he while making him cum.  It actually made a possessive anger course through his blood at the mere thought - he may have unintentionally growled, but he had a plan.  Cas’ eyes flew to the ground where both their discarded clothes were laying and quickly found the thing he was looking for.  

He snatched it up and had turned Dean’s tie into a gag in the blink of an eye.  Proud of his work, Castiel grinned and as an explanation purred, “I loved your suit tonight.  Wanted to play with it as soon as we got back.”  As an afterthought added, “Maybe next time I’ll tie you up...”

Dean whimpered and shuddered from the words and Cas felt like his job was done.  When he repositioned himself and pushed Dean’s legs further apart, he knew the man must have liked it, because his cock was dripping, oozing more precum down his shaft.

Cas had to spit on his fingers since the impromptu gag had wiped off the saliva, and even though he wanted to take it slow pushing the first finger into Dean’s hole - it glided right in.  He flattened his tongue and slowly licked the entire length of the man’s cock while he teased a second finger at Dean’s rim, because he knew.  He just knew it would be as easy as the first.

So he taunted, “Do you cum on your fingers a lot?  Do you have toys?”  Cas eagerly tasted him and sucked off all the wetness from his cock.  “Or are you just slut, Mr. Winchester?”

His response was muffled from the gag, which was exactly why Cas was toying with him.  He watched Dean’s hands fly up to remove it but Castiel moved quicker with a harsh, “No,” which stopped the man in his tracks.  Cas slowly began pushing in the second finger with the praise of, “Good,” and Dean rolled his hips against the sensation.

He could see Dean was strung up so tight and Cas’ own cock was throbbing from neglect, so he started setting a steady pace with his fingers.  Castiel pushed them deep and curled them, determined to find that spot that would make Dean see stars.  It didn’t take long at all, especially from this angle, and the muffled shout told him he’d struck gold.

Castiel didn’t waste any time.  He wanted to watch Dean fall apart, so he wrapped his mouth around the man’s cock and began to bob up and down in time with his fingers.  Dean had already sunk his nails into the sheets around him, gasping for air around the gag, and Cas was relentless.

He knew when Dean started lifting his pelvis off the bed he was close.  That’s when Cas exchanged suction for depth, relaxed his throat, and took all of Dean’s cock.  The man made a shocked noise, and no more than a few thrusts later, Dean was shooting cum into Cas’ mouth.  He greedily swallowed it all down.

Dean collapsed, completely boneless and covered in sweat, into the mattress and looked like his brain was short-circuiting.  

Cas’ heart was racing at the sight and blurted out, “Nod or shake your head. Can I cum on you?”

He nodded with a second wind of enthusiasm as Cas raised to his knees and wrapped his hand around his own pulsing, aching dick and fucked into his fist.  Dean wasn’t watching him jerk off, he was meeting his gaze with unabashed eye contact, and for some reason Castiel thought it was the hottest thing in the goddamn universe.

Because, although there was completion, there was still desire in those eyes.  It wasn’t about just getting off, Dean was looking at him like-

Castiel doubled over as his orgasm overwhelmed him and he balanced himself on Dean’s thigh, blowing his load all over the man’s stomach and chest.  It wasn’t just the warmth rushing through his veins, it was the sight, and Dean grunted something else though the gag.  Whatever it was, in that moment, in Cas' pleasure-drunk mind, it sounded amazing.

He had to fall back to his haunches, being overwhelmed by dizziness and explained, “I’ll… go get something to clean up…” as Castiel slowly got to his feet.

Dean had ripped the gag away and had latched his hand around Cas’ wrist, spinning him around and gluing their lips together.  Cas made a noise of surprise, but he certainly didn’t mind it.  In fact, he melted into the kiss - this one much sweeter - and ran his hand through the messy tufts of Dean’s hair.

When they slowly pulled away, both men knew they were grinning like idiots and even Cas hesitated the second time.

“I’ll, uh, be right back.”  But he was still staring at Dean as he backed out of the room, and nearly crashed into the door frame, staggering to right himself.

Dean chuckled as he collapsed back into the bed and waited contently.

What he didn’t know was that an intoxicated, uncoordinated Castiel was rushing around, trying to hide his damn law books, tuck away pictures with Sam, and any other telling evidence (like a fuckin’ chicken with his head cut off) as silently as humanly possible, as he balanced the wet-wipes while Dean relaxed in post-orgasmic bliss.

So maybe Cas wanted the other man to spend the night?  Maybe all the trouble and running around (attempting to avoid collision and stumbling over every fucking inanimate object or piece of furniture in the dark) would be worth it.

Chapter Text

Castiel felt a dull vibration followed by a slow movement within his arms.  He wasn’t quite awake, but he knew the warmth was receding and he followed behind it because he was just too comfortable.  That warmth made a noise that sounded a lot like a chuckle.

Slowly, he peeked one eye open to see a smiling Dean watching him with a phone in his hand.  “Hey.”

The noise he made was meant to be a greeting, but a came out as a garbled…something else.

“Not a morning person?”  The man relaxed back into his embrace and let Cas’ arms fold back around him.

They laid there for a few frozen moments in time, just taking in each other’s presence and body heat before Dean began to speak again, hoping “Cam” hadn’t just nodded off. Luckily, Cas was actually beginning to wake up because Dean wanted to talk before he left.

“I gotta run home before I head to the office.  This would be the most obvious walk of shame ever,” he laughed lightly, running a hand through the dark, unruly bed head.  “But…I’m gonna see you again, right?”

That seemed to get Castiel’s attention and perked him right up because of course he needed to respond to that.  

Still, he couldn’t help but tease Dean first.  “You’re asking if we messed around because I was drunk.”  There was a grin on his features when he replied, “No.”

Dean’s body seemed to seize as he asked slowly, “No, you weren’t drunk or no, I’m not gonna see you again?”

“No, I didn’t hook up with you because I was drunk.  Don't be foolish.” He kissed his cheek softly, “Obviously I want to see you again.”

“Whew!”  His body all but collapsed from the tension.  After a long pause he asked, hesitantly, “How did you know?”

Cas actually moved up to his elbows to examine the man under him curiously, as he repeated, “How did I know?”

Dean scooted back on the mattress, looking for the right words before the light bulb went off inside Cas’ head and he spoke for him.

“How did I know that you were submissive?”  He raised a questioning eyebrow, which had Dean squinting by the directness of his wording alone, but not stopping him.  “Well, you’re not submissive, for one thing, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need someone to take care of you,” he mused, “I recognized that.  You work too hard. You may be able to play up your facade with other lovers, or take charge when you want to, but you can’t fool me.”

“You sayin’ I need you?” Dean scoffed and added, “Those are some pretty heavy accusations, Cam.”

Castiel tried not to be irked by the name and instead countered with, “Am I wrong?”

Dean watched him for a few seconds before he shrugged it off and grumbled, “I don’t know.”

“It’s not a bad thing.  I believe it to be a good thing because I think I’d take very good care of you,” Castiel tilted his head and cupped Dean’s cheek.  “Unless that’s not the answer you were looking for.  In which case, I apologize.”

“I woulda been okay drawing the line at submissive, I don’t know about all this-”

“Then leave it,” Castiel challenged, “Even though you know I’m right.”

Dean’s expression remained neutral as he grabbed the back of Cas’ head and pulled him into a kiss.  Although it was more guarded, Cas should have expected it and he allowed Dean do what he felt he needed to.  Castiel on the other hand, didn’t hesitate to put a little more feeling behind the kiss, hoping it would ease the other man out of being pigheaded.  When they parted, their eyes lingered for a second and then Dean got out of bed.

He got dressed, but he hesitated when he grabbed his tie and opted for jamming it in his coat pocket.  When he finally turned around, he smiled and said, “Hopefully I’ll see you soon.”

“Yes, I’d like that.”  Castiel hoped his voice conveyed every ounce of that sentiment.

Dean's terse, “Talk soon, Cam,” from the doorway made Castiel cringe and he had to do everything in his power not to correct him.

Thankfully, he was gone before Castiel had the urge to stop him and pull the wheels off the entire bullshit plot.  But he was going to.  Next chance he got.

Because at the current moment, he needed sleep.  After all, he didn’t have class for another three hours and it would be stupid not to take advantage of it.  Even though he already missed the body next to him in his bed.

-----------------------------

Sam usually only opened Tinder when he had specific dates and times arranged for ‘meet-ups’ or when he had spare time to catch his catfisher with.  But today, he left the app open because of the strange way Rich had ditched him. He wanted to confront the man the second he was online, though he probably shouldn’t have kept glancing at it during classes.

Now, it was becoming a strange obsession.

Had Sam fucked up?

Had he ruined his one chance to figure out who was using his image?

He was too preoccupied when his focus should have been towards the front of the lecture hall.  Sam tried to pay attention, he really did, but he was unsettled.  He may as well turn the damn thing off, because if this guy was a doctor (like Sam was 95% sure he was) and he’d been off yesterday, he was probably at work today.  Rich wouldn’t be tending to his patients and flirting with randoms online at the same time.  No decent human would-

Sam jumped a little when his pocket vibrated and he tried to move with ninja-like stealth to grab it.

Shit.  He hadn’t even taken into account that his brother would be on - but it made sense.  This was his lunch break.  Sam hadn’t even asked Cas how their date went, but apparently it was good to the point Dean was messaging him right now.  Interesting.

Dean 12:13pm
Hey I didn’t mean to be grouchy, we’re still good?

Out of everything Sam could have expected, that wasn’t it.  Huh.  He mused over vagueness, not knowing even remotely what Dean was talking about.  He really should have gotten the scoop from Cas.  He really should have been prepared and not wrapped up worrying about his other situation.

He’d set these two up for a reason, after all.

But…this was positive.  Apparently, it had gone well enough to the point that they were still in communication, but Sam was surprised numbers hadn’t been exchanged.

Then again, if Cas was still following their plan, it would be suspicious if numbers did have to be exchanged, since they already had a way of getting in contact.

Sam couldn’t help but grin because he knew they’d work out.  He just knew it!  He knew despite whatever Dean’s ‘grouchy’ meant, that setting the two of them up was a genius move on his part, so he didn’t feel any remorse in his reply, thinking it‘d be good to give them a little push.

Cameron 12:17pm
Of course
I greatly enjoyed last night

He’d just have to explain to Cas that he wanted to get the ball rolling because they really would be great for each other and-

Dean 12:20pm
So that means fucking me through your mattress is still on the table ;)

“The hell-!” Sam uncontrollably shrieked and the phone flew out of his hand and tumbled down three rows of cement stairs, leaving the entire lecture hall and professor staring at him in a shocked silence.

You could hear a pin drop in the auditorium as the man in front of the podium asked, “Is there something you need help with, Mr. Winchester?”

Sam’s heart was racing and he wasn’t sure if his face was scarlet red or a pallid white as he slinked from his aisle seat, towards the steps and cleared his throat, “Uh, n-no, just…dropped my phone…really, really sorry.  Just, uh- ignore me.”

“Moving on!” The professor’s tone was aggravated as Sam tip-toed the distance and snatched up the device and kept his head down as he moved back to his seat.

Thank God the screen wasn’t cracked thanks to the otter box, but his brain was scrambled by the implications…

Had Cas-

Had Cas and his brother…?!

What the fuck happened last night?!

And now he was left with this vile, disgusting visual...

And he couldn’t just not respond if there was something there, but, oh God, he-

Sam tried to close his eyes as he typed back:

Cameron 12:27pm
I think that’s a question best answered in person
I have class, let’s talk soon

And he was forced to sign out.

Dear lord, what had Sam done to deserve this?

------------------

Gabriel had just finished writing a script for a little girl named Maggie who he’d known since she’d been a toddler.  Even though she was one of his favorite patients with her bright green eyes and her contagious toothy smiles, he saw her much too often because of her heart condition.  She always ran and jumped into his arms, even though he’d tried to teach her otherwise, so whenever he was handed her chart, he’d be sure to meet her halfway.

At least today was a routine check-up and it looked like she was doing well, all things considered, with the chronic diagnosis of Dilated Cardiomyopathy.  Still, when he spoke with his fellow cardiologist, there were always so many concerns that Gabriel hated.  He liked to be the optimist when it came to his patients, and the doctors around here needed a little kick in the ass to get on his level.  He didn’t expect much out of them, though.

Gabriel had a level-head, at least when it came to his work, and because of that, he tended to juggle jobs around the Children’s Hospital.  Sometimes he’d be in ER if they needed him, but most of the time he’d be up in cardiology.

He liked both equally. Hell, he loved his job in general.  He loved working with the kids and he loved the gratification his work brought.

But it was cases like Maggie that bothered him.

When she was young, they’d misdiagnosed her with asthma because of her coughing and wheezing on the playground.  Maggie wasn’t the kind of kid who sat around.  Gabriel adored her because she was a mover and a shaker, a talented crowd-pleaser right out the gate.  But when they finally dug deeper, they realized it was her heart that was giving her problems, not her lungs.

After an EKG, they’d moved her from a family doctor right over to Lucile Parker and Gabriel was the first one in line to help the little girl.  It hurt when he had to give her parents the official diagnosis, because it wasn’t something that could be solved with an antibiotic and some booster shots.  It was a chronic condition they needed to monitor closely and it change her whole goddamn life and turned her world upside down.

Maggie was used to playing dress-up as a cowgirl in her backyard and chasing around boys with sticks.  Now, she could never even participate in gym class because they couldn’t even entertain the thought of her overexerting herself and the stress to her heart.  They had to strain over her diet, stuff the toddler full of a strict regimen of pills, watch her closely, and come in for regular visits to make sure everything inside was working properly.

Sure, if they continued to monitor and medicate her she should be good for a while, but that now-seven year old wouldn’t be able to live long with that heart of hers.  A transplant wasn’t even a maybe, it was in her three-year plan (being generous) and there were so many fucking variables that could go wrong in the meantime.  And the process of finding a donor...

He didn’t want to think about it.

This was why Gabriel was an atheist.  And a doctor.

To say, “Screw you, God!   Just watch me fuck up your master plan!”

All right... Now, he was in a mood.

Gabriel grumbled something under his breath and headed to his office where he knew he had a candy bar buried in his desk.  Except directly in his path was one of his nurses with her arms crossed and a raised eyebrow blocking the door.

“What do you want, Joanna?” he groused, trying to dodge her and grab the door handle.

“I have a stack of papers you need to sign off on and your two o’clock is ready for you,” she gave him a sugary-fake smile, “And, please, don’t call me Joanna.”

“Move yer ass and I won’t,” he batted at her until she moved, but she followed behind him, which made Gabriel groan, “What?”

“You’re in a bad mood,” she put a hand on her hip as she watched, her voice holding an ounce of genuine concern.  “Was it Maggie or-”

“I’ll sign the shit and I’ll be there in two shakes, all right?”  Gabriel cut her off with his ‘official doctor voice’ which made her eyes widen and her mouth shut.

She nodded and took her leave, which made the man feel just a little bad.  He didn’t mean to take it out on Jo.  She was his favorite nurse and the best friend he had in cardio.  He’d been… off lately.  In general.  He couldn’t quite explain it.

Okay... He totally could.

Usually, in his downtime, he enjoyed the finer things in life, AKA the brainless, slightly less-than-innocent fuckery of messing with dumbass people on Tinder.  He only targeted those vain douchebags who thought the world revolved around them, those who needed to be taken down a notch. It was for pure entertainment value.  Hell, he was doing the world a service, knocking over one Guido and gold-digger at a time from their pedestal: those who thought beauty was only skin deep and had the IQ of a fuckin’ cabbage.

Until he connected with some college kid posing as his little brother.

Said kid was smart, witty, and genuinely enjoyable to chat with.

Gabriel had never gotten the app looking to hook up or meet anyone.  He would never create his own profile and use it to date.  And, who knows, maybe the person behind “Cameron” was a rotten sea-monster, but it almost (almost-minuscule-maybe-kinda) made him wish that neither of them were hiding their true selves.

He had been an asshole for taking such enjoyment out of fucking with these people and he was now, in a way, being fucked with right back.  Karma’s a bitch.   Because, really?  What was he doing?   What was the point?  He was a grown-ass man doing these childish things for what purpose?  Maybe taking control back through fucking technology was a power thing?  Since he didn’t have enough in real life? That could be argued, but…

No.  He needed to stop.

This was getting too deep.

Maybe Gabriel could just chalk it up to getting the heebie-jeebies about getting a crush on someone whose profile pic was of his brother.

Yeah.  He’d go with that.

The candy bar was easy to find and unwrap so he jammed the chocolate in his mouth and glanced at the stack Jo had set on the edge of his desk.  The clock on the wall said she was probably taking his two o’clock’s vitals so he pulled out a pen.

Gabriel could at least begin signing off on some of this shit.  It was the typical day-in-day-out paperwork that didn’t need a critical eye, just an autograph.  So he scrawled through about half the pile, chewed on one more snack, and was out of his office before anyone could bitch about "how late doctors always were."

He’d apologize to Jo on the way in.

----------------------

The entire group was already in one of the library’s sectioned off study rooms when Sam finally strolled in, noticing that someone had brought a pizza.  Ruby and Balthazar were arguing about something in the text and Meg was shamelessly flirting with Cas.  Only Ruby and the man in question seemed to acknowledge Sam’s entrance when he appeared and closed the door behind him.

“Hey there!” Ruby shut down whatever dispute she was having with Balthazar to wave and gesture next to her.  “Saved you a seat and some pizza.  I’m awesome.  I know,” and finished with a wink.

But Sam was too busy side-eyeing Cas, who looked at him with confusion.

He did, however, take the seat next to Ruby with a “thank you,” and grabbed the slice.  His stomach was growling something awful.

Sam couldn’t help but moan around the Hawaiian-style deep-dish because, apparently, it was everything his taste buds needed and more.  Ruby raised an intrigued eyebrow and watched him in amusement as he pulled his notebook out with his free hand and set it on the table.

“Do you two need a room?” Meg asked sarcastically, “I didn’t know you had a fetish, but Rubes is sure enjoying the show.”

“Shut up, Meg.”  She rolled her eyes and asked, “So are we gonna get back to the test?  Or are you going to continue to pathetically throw yourself at Mr. Asexual?”  She laughed to herself and snipped, “You’d be better off humping the chair he’s sitting in.”

“Are you two on your periods?”  Balthazar glanced between the women, then at Sam, “And you’re clearly about to start yours, what - with the way you’re going down on that pizza.  You savage bitch.”

“Is all this really necessary?” Cas pinched the bridge of his nose at the growing hostility in the small space.  “Because is this continues, I believe we’d all be much better off on our own.”

Finally swallowing the food, Sam raised his hand in front of his body with a, “Hey, it’s not me!  I just got here!  I just wanna get ready for this test so I’m actually prepared for something!  Unlike other things today...” he shot Cas a very pointed, significant look.

Which had the man tilting his head.  In fact, it had a few people intrigued.

Well, at least they weren’t fighting anymore.

“Yes,” Castiel said slowly and deliberately, “Let us study, then.”

Everyone was cautious, but it seemed to get them on the right track as they opened their notes and turned to the beginning of the chapter in their books.  They had a study guide to reference, along with a few cases Ruby had printed out and made copies of for the group.  Going over the information was just half the work.

The other half was preparing a debate.

The debate was something that they had to complete in their own time.  Everyone in the class was going to be pitted against one another so they didn't want to give anyone an unfair advantage. They finished right around nine and decided it was time to part ways.

Except Sam wasn’t ready to let Cas out of his sight quite yet.

They watched the others leave and Castiel didn’t even have to be asked to stay.  The two were close enough that he just knew.  Once the other were gone, Cas leaned back and watched Sam closely.

“So how did the date with Dean go?” was his segue from where he had perched on the edge of the table.

“It actually went quite well.”  Cas didn’t have to lie about that.  “He wasn’t what I expected.  Has he made contact?  I wish to discontinue this farce and set up a meeting where I tell the truth about the situation.”

“Is that because you’re gonna bang my brother?”  Sam asked, point-blank.

“I-” All right, that caught him off guard.  “So Dean told you he stayed the night.”

Now Sam was at a loss. “He did?!”

“Wait, what?  I assumed you knew-” Cas made a sharp motion with his arm, “Hold on.  What’s happening right now?”

“Dean messaged Cameron saying he was sorry about being grouchy and hoped you guys were still good.  And here I was thinking he said something rude last night and thought I’d give you guys a push and tell him you "enjoyed your night" and he answers with wanting to be fucked into your mattress!  It went from zero to a hundred in less than a second!  What the actual hell, dude?!”

“Oh.”  Cas nodded gravely and crossed his arms before making eye contact with Sam.  “This is all good news.”  With a sigh, he explained, “The date went very well.  We have chemistry.  And after dinner and drinks, we went back to my apartment, where we engaged in-”

“Stop!” he all but shouted. “I do not need the details, I just…fuck.”

“No, we didn’t fuck, if that’s what you’re worried about.  I didn’t have condoms and-”

“Cas,” Sam jumped out and grabbed his friend’s shoulders. “No.  Details.”

“Oh.  I understand.  You’re not concerned.  You’re embarrassed.”  His eyes lit up and he chuckled, “That’s good.  Anyway, I’m glad Dean isn’t upset by what happened this morning.  I was concerned that I made him question his precious masculinity, he can be quite hardheaded.”

That comment had Sam laughing along with him and dropping his arms.  “You know what?  I really think you’re good for him.  If he apologized about something like that... I, uh…yeah.  Wow.  Didn’t know you had it in you, Cas.”

“Had what in me?”

“I’ve just never known you to,” Sam faltered when he tried to put the words together in a way that wouldn’t offended the other man.  “I don’t know.  Just ignoring this is Dean altogether, I’ve never seen you show interest in anyone.  Let alone bring someone home with you after a first date.  I mean, good for you.”

“I’m not a virgin, Sam,” Cas raised a judgmental eyebrow. “And I apologize that it was your brother, but I find Dean quite attractive.  Not just physically, but mentally as well.  I’d like to continue seeing him, but I refuse for it to be under false pretense.  If it’s all right, I’d like to stop this charade as soon as possible.”

Sam was surprised by the conviction of Cas’ words and the power behind them.

So much so that he must have been gaping or something.

Because Cas was waiting on him.

“Sam,” he prompted, “Will you give me his number?”

“Oh, yeah.  Obviously.”  He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone while Cas did the same.  After he did what he asked, he hesitated and said, “Hey, so about that guy I was trying to figure out, the one who was using my picture…”

“Yes?”  Castiel perked right up with intense interest.

Sam was almost taken aback, but continued with, “I think I may have fucked up.  He’s ignoring me now and I don’t know how to get him to talk to me again.”

“What exactly happened?”  He asked a bit more cautiously this time.

“Well, we were chatting.  A lot.  I figured out he was a nurse at Lucile Packard.  Everything was great.  He was actually pretty damn funny.  So we were going back and forth, teasing each other and fucking around like normal.  Until I mentioned that we should meet up... All of a sudden, radio silence.  Absolutely nothing.  Like, I thought he would have a comeback, something he tells everyone to put it off, but he just stopped talking to me completely.”

Cas noticed there was a hint of disappointment and…sadness? in Sam’s tone which he thought was very, very intriguing.  “Has he been online?  Isn’t that how that application works?”

“Yeah, and no, he hasn't.”

“Perhaps he’s busy then?”  He tried to ‘guess’ to make Sam feel better.  “If he’s a nurse, as you say he is, he probably has a very busy schedule and can’t be available all the time.”

“I know.  You’re right,” Sam sighed and then griped in self-deprecation, “Why am I acting like this?  It’s stupid, Cas.  I’m supposed to be pissed off that this jackass is making me look bad, but I’m pissed I’m being ignored.  How fucked up is that?”

“You don’t know the circumstances in which he’s using it,” Cas suggested with a shrug.  “Maybe you have a different insight now that you’ve spoken. I’m sure you’ll speak again.”

“You sound so sure.”  His brows furrowed in annoyance.  “I feel like I’ve lost my lead for good.  I pushed too hard.  I should have played dumb, played it safe, but I didn’t.  I got carried away.”

“Sam.”  It was Cas’ turn to reach out and put his hand on the other man’s shoulder, “I’m positive.  If he’s like you’ve described, I’m sure he’s not going to allow matters to remain unfinished either.”

He looked up and was surprised by the intensity in Cas’ eyes, but somehow they were strangely reassuring.  The man smiled tightly before he looked down to his phone and then to his books.

“I believe I’m going to head out.  I have a call to make,” Castiel announced, then urged, “Don’t give up.  You’re on the right track.  Please continue.  And…at least soon you’ll be free of the burden of being ‘Cameron’ to your brother.  I do not wish to mentally scar you anymore.”

“Dear God, never again.” Sam scrubbed a hand down his face and groaned.  “I’m gonna have nightmares!”

“You’ll live.  Besides, you still have a mystery to solve.  Let that keep you going for the time being.”

“I hate you, Cas.”

With a quirk of a grin, the man in question reminded him, “This was all your idea. You can’t be upset with either of us because what you hoped for transpired.”

“Yeah, I just hoped you’d keep it in your pants a little longer!”

“Well, that’s why you must be careful what you wish for.”

Sam glared at Cas as he tossed him a haughty glance before exiting the room and leaving him alone in the study area.  He looked at the empty pizza box and his belongings and didn’t quite have the motivation to leave just yet.  So just for the hell of it, he opened Tinder on the off chance Cas was right.  Maybe this nurse wasn’t avoiding him.  And maybe, just maybe, his shift was over.

-------------------

Jo was literally on him like white on rice, which normally wasn’t a problem because she had things for him to do and questions to ask, but today it was about feelings.

Sticky, gross, disgusting feelings. He was bombarded with “Hey, do you want me to help out more with blah blah blah?” ... “Are you sure you don’t want me to grab you a snack on my break?” ... “Hey, let’s sit down. It looks like you need to talk to someone!” And each and every time he shot her down, she was in his face.  Again.

The thing was, while Jo was going through nursing school, she worked as a bartender, which gave her an unfair advantage when it came to reading people.  Not to mention she worked with Gabriel day in and day out, so she had an even better line on him than she did most other people.

Which was annoying as fuck.

Especially when Gabriel had stopped for his own break and she had him cornered in his office.

“I’m not going away,” she announced in a sing-song voice while she leaned against his desk.  “You may as well spew.”

“Is that literal or figurative?  ‘Cause ya do know we’re in a hospital,” the doctor quipped and narrowed his eyes.  “What do I have to do to get you off my back?  I still have four hours left-”

“Of another twelve hour shift.  Why do you keep taking them?  You know you don’t have to.  You live here, and you keep picking up other people’s shifts like you don’t-”

“Have anything better to do?” Gabriel finished for her.  “It’s ‘cause I don’t.  And I’m saving up to buy my own island so I don’t have to deal with little blonde annoyances like you.”

“Heh,” she snorted and crossed her legs.  “And how’s that going?”

“My nest egg is growing splendidly.”

“C’mon.”  Jo sighed heavily, “You’re the only doctor here that I genuinely like who doesn’t treat me like an idiot slave ‘cause I’m fresh out of school, and now you’re turning into a dick.  Talk to me.  I know you’re tough, but something’s bothering you and if I could help, then…I wanna.  And there’s not too many people out there that I give a flying fuck about.”

Gabriel eyed her, like, really eyed her and saw there was the barest edge of desperation on her face.  He knew that her words were true.

They worked with a bunch of high-and-mighty assholes who doled out orders to the ‘underlings’ when the nurses were a huge part of the foundation of the hospital.  Gabriel recognized that, and when Jo was hired, he took her under his wing.  He already had a feeling that a pretty new employee would get overlooked and used for paperwork more than her skill.  He knew Jo was sharp as a tack and didn't want that to go to waste.

That was part of the reason he’d pulled a few strings and made sure she worked in the same department as him.  He kept her close and now she was worried he was becoming just another one of the doctors who wrote her off.

“It’s just personal things, Jo.  Nothing about you, nothing about the hospital.  Sorry, I promise I just need to shake it off.”  He made sure to direct it wholeheartedly towards her, but she didn’t seem convinced.

“So.  Be personal.”  She shrugged with all the nonchalance in the world.  “What’s bugging you?  Maybe I can help brainstorm to make it better.”  With a glance to the clock, she announced, “We’ve got twenty minutes.  Nothing can’t be handled in twenty minutes.”

“You’re such a little shit, you know that?”

“So I’ve been told.”  Her cheeky grin was unforgiving.

Was Gabriel actually going to do this?  Was he actually going to open his mouth about this to another human being?  Let alone fucking loud-mouthed Joanna Harvelle?  He just might be…

“So you already know I like fucking with people…”

Wow, that was a great way to start.

What was even better was that Jo wasn’t phased, she just nodded and confirmed, “Like the prank war with radiology a few months ago was anything to go by.  At least we won.”

The thought made Gabriel smirk.  “Yeah.  Good times,” he sighed wistfully.  “So anyway, I faked an account on Tinder to fuck with people who thought they were hot shit and take ‘em down a peg.  Then I found someone who was doing the same thing that I was, via a pic of my baby bro, and I’ve been chatting him up, trying to do the detective work and figure out who and-”

“You like the catfish you’ve been catfishing,” Jo finished the sentence for him, barely flinching and then a wide smile spread across her face.  “So is your problem the fact you have a crush, or a moral dilemma about what you’ve been doing up until now?”  Gabriel’s silence made her snap her fingers when she realized, “It’s both!  Gabe, you’re not allowed to have moral crisis!  Crushes, sure, but you’ve never been one to worry about judge, jury, executioner.  It was just harmless fun!  Chill out!”

“Easy for you to say,” he grumbled, feeling pathetic because now that the words were out there and someone knew?

He felt strangely vulnerable.  And he decidedly hated it.

“So what do you know about this guy?”  Now Jo was in gushy-girl mode, “It takes a lot to impress you.  So obviously he’s gotta be smart and witty.  Since you’re doing all of this through messaging and you’re usually prissy as hell yourself.”

“Thanks, for that.”  He flicked her in the leg and sunk into his chair.  “I know he’s a student, definitely Stanford material, but our last conversation didn’t end well.  He wanted to meet up.  Which I thought was really, really weird because of the fact that he isn’t him.  So why would he try?”

Jo paused for a second before her eyes lit up and asked slowly, “What if he knows you’re not you?”

“This is getting confusing…”

“What if he’s catching you in a lie?”  She urged and started speaking with her hands, “It makes sense.  Who’s picture are you using for your account?”

“Just some random underwear model or something, I can’t even remember where I found the pictures.”  Gabriel shook his head.  “No, there’s no reason he’d think I’m not me.”

“But what if he knows the person who you’re pretending to be?  Think about it, Gabe!”  She was getting more and more excited by her theory, “What if he’s baiting you?  What if he’s trying to get you to admit you’re not who you say you are?”

But Gabriel wasn’t having any of it because there was no way the guy on his profile was real and roaming around the area.  That would mean he’d been picked out from day one and their chemistry meant nothing... And if there was one thing Gabriel refused to believe, it was that.

“Nah.  That’s dumb.  Maybe he wants to meet up and he’s just shy or something.  Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I shut it down by ignoring him and signing off and I feel like an ass.”  He shrugged his shoulders.

“Oh.”  Jo paused in her theorizing to allow what Gabriel said sink in.  “So you’re hiding ‘cause you think you ruined everything?  And you’re wondering if you should have even started doing this in the first place?”

“Give the girl a prize!”  He made a dramatic sweep with his arm and glanced at the clock.  “Ugh.  We should go back to the floor.”

Jo tilted her head and pronounced, “Gabe.  Maybe try again to talk to him.  What have you got to lose?”

“It’s not just him, Jo,” Gabriel finally had the guts to bring up the second part he’d been stowing.  He ran a hand through his hair and stood up, because the other part was...heavier.  

The woman raised an eyebrow as the mood completely shifted and her friend changed gears in a way she didn‘t like one bit.

Especially when he prefaced it with, “I just blabbed the thing about Tinder because I hadn‘t said it out loud and I wanted someone to know.  Thought it might make me feel better, but it didn‘t.  Not really.”  He was procrastination and Jo was visibly on pins and needles.  “I’m trying to forget about the other thing... Blame my mood on this app shit ‘cause I don’t want to think about the real life shit. Thought I could handle it alone.”  

“Okay,“ Jo prompted him slowly, “but you can‘t.  So tell me about it.“

“Well I guess you'll find out anyway...” He grabbed the back of his chair just to have something to hold onto. “You know how Maggie was in today?”

She slowed her motions and agreed, “Of course.”  This was not the direction she thought this was going to go.

“I just kept thinking about her.  I had this weird feeling so I went over her charts again.  I think we’re going to have to call her back for a test.  That’s a call I just don’t want to make,” he confessed, dropping his gaze to the floor.  “But it has to be done.”

“Shit,” Jo hissed under her breath.  “Let me handle it.  I can call them.  Do we wanna do it tomorrow when we clock in?”

“Yeah, it’s too late tonight.  It’ll have to be in the morning,” Gabriel confirmed with a tight smile, trying to show Jo he was thankful she was taking the initiative on this one.  “Gotta order a protime test.  I want to check out her blood oxygen levels again, just to be safe.  Like I said, I just had a bad feeling even though there wasn't any massive red flags in her paper work.”

“You need to go with your gut.  You know, it could be nothing, Gabe, but it doesn’t hurt to check.”  The blonde straightened her back and quickly went back into work mode, “We will handle this first thing tomorrow.  For now, let’s get back to the shift.  We‘re in the home stretch.”

Gabriel nodded and took a breather once she left the room.  Gathering himself was a little more difficult than usual, but maybe it was a good thing to tell Jo.  He had been shouldering the weight alone.  He was planning on taking care of the whole thing on his own since he had always considered this to be his own personal case.

But that was the fucking problem.

It was too personal.

Nights like this, he wondered why the hell he went into pediatrics.  He should have just stuck with ER; patients were in and out and you never really formed bonds with them the way you did with the special-case kids.  Man, he hoped to God he was wrong about Maggie.  Maybe he was over-analyzing and Jo’s optimism was the right way to go.

Too bad his intuition was telling him otherwise.

-------------------

Although Cas’ walk home wasn’t long, he still felt the immediate urge to pull out his phone and click the new number now that he had it saved in his contacts.  It was a sense of empowerment.  There was no longer a go-between.  He had a direct link and he was in control.

After a few rings, a cautious voice answered, “Dean Winchester.  Hello?”

“Hello, Dean.”

“Hey, is this Cam?  How did you get my number?”

“What are you doing right now?”

“Uh, chillin’.  Watching TV.  Why?”

“Because you and I have a lot to discuss.”

Chapter Text

Cas was waiting in the kitchen with a beer in his hand and a beer on the table as he watched the clock with a mundane interest.  To be honest, he was surprised that Dean had even agreed to dropping everything this evening and coming over, but he was prepared.  Hell, he had been prepared the previous night, but unaware of the execution. Even now, it wasn’t as seamless as he would have liked, but at least he had a direction.

The knock on the door sent the plan into motion.

When he opened it he smiled and welcomed the man in with the beer.  He didn’t shy away from the kiss Dean greeted him with.  If anything, he reciprocated by lengthening it and then tugging him inside by the edge of his hoodie.

Dean chuckled.  “Well, you’ve seen me in a suit and now in my sweats.  You headed for the hills yet?”

“As if my attire is any better,” Cas quipped back.  “You look lovely.  Now, take your drink and I have some things to tell you.  Well.  A lot of things.”

“I don’t like hearing that in person anymore than I did over the phone,” Dean replied with a frown as Cas led him to the kitchen table.  He let himself be pushed back into one of the chairs.  “Are you secretly a serial killer?”

“You can’t be mad.” Cas leaned down so he was at eye-level and their noses were nearly brushing.  “Because I wanted to tell you as soon as I could.”

“You’re pregnant?”  He grinned and tried to duck forward to kiss his lips.  “You’re a pregnant serial killer.”

“Yes, nine months with fifteen homicides under my belt, actually.  You should see the trophies from my victims I bring home with me.  I have them displayed on the door of my linen closet.”

Castiel finally pulled away and gestured to the table Dean was seated in front of.  A table where he’d flipped all the books over the previous night so the man he’d brought home wouldn’t have seen what the contents were.  But now, he made very deliberate eye contact with Dean and, one by one, took each of the textbooks and flipped them right-side-up, allowing the printed words to be illuminated by the light hanging above them.

Dean’s eyes followed his movements.  Reading the titles, his eyebrows knitted up in confusion that grew as book after book revealed a new title.

All in the field of Law and Legality.

“So…” Dean paused, “Is this your way of telling me you’re not a med student?”  His eyes followed Cas as he walked over to the nearby bookshelf next to the door.  “That’s cool.  My bro-”

He froze.  Just as he began to say the word, two picture frames that had been face-down were set back up, one revealing Castiel with a group of friends while the other held the posed image of only Cas and none other than Sam fucking Winchester.

“Wait.  Sam.  You-” Dean’s mouth opened and closed a few times, trying to put together the pieces.  Then he felt a sting of betrayal. “So is this Sam’s way of screwing with me?!  I swear to God-”

“Dean...” Cas’ voice was still calm and collected as he shoved the man from where he was poised to jump out of the chair.  Instead, he straddled Dean so he didn’t flee.  “Don’t jump to conclusions.  Drink your beer.  Let me explain.”

His eyes were wild, but the proximity to Cas as well as the cool order did things to him.  Not to mention he couldn’t exactly heave the man backward and away from him (nor did he want to) so he shut up and did just that, bringing the bottle lip up to his mouth and chugging.

“Sam asked me if I was all right with him using my photo to fake an account on Tinder in order to figure out who was using his on an obviously fake account.  I said it was fine.  He added you to make sure he was using the app correctly, and before he could tell you it was him, you assumed it was someone else.  Well, you assumed it was me.  Sam had wished to set us up for a while now so he didn’t correct the error and played it up.  I had no idea I was going on a date with you until an hour before it happened.”  His direct gaze never wavered from Dean’s, making sure he understood every word.  “I’ve been very good friends with Sam for a long time.  I’ve heard a lot about you before and I went as a favor to him.  I didn’t expect to like you as much as I did.“  Then he paused to change it to, “Do.  Like you, that is.”

“Wait… So all that messaging shit was Sam?”  Dean asked in disbelief.

“Without my knowledge, yes.  But all the time we spent together was me.  It was real.”

Dean let it all sink it and then demanded, “You said you’re Sam’s friend.  I know he doesn’t have any friends named Cameron, so that means…”

“My name is Castiel.”

“Woah!  You’re Cas?!”  Dean physically jerked back, moving the chair and both of them with it, “You’re supposed to be a nerdy, genius, weirdo!  Not a fuckin’ sexy, gorgeous-” He stopped while he was ahead, before he could embarrass himself. “…What the fuck?”

Then Dean chuckled and glanced up when he realized. “That’s why you gagged me. ” His eyes flickering to Cas’ lips. “’Cause I was callin’ you the wrong name…”

“You should have been moaning my name,” Castiel growled and closed the gap between their mouths, unable to hold himself back a second longer.

It was sweet torture being so fucking close but not being able to have his way with the other man, but he needed to make sure Dean was all right.  That he understood.  That he wasn’t upset.  That he knew it wasn’t Cas’ intention to keep any lies between them.

He refused to have Dean mad with him, as it wasn't his fault or his choice to begin with, but he also couldn’t resist the way he looked underneath him.

And when Dean finally did whimper “Cas” into his mouth, it was the sweetest victory of all - to have him moaning his name, grabbing the back of his shirt, and arching up into him.

“I haven’t told you the best part,” Cas said in-between kisses, “but you have to promise not to tell.”  He sucked Dean’s earlobe into his mouth and took the shiver as an affirmation.  “The man who’s been using Sam’s photo on the app?  Is my brother Gabriel.  Now you have a front row seat to the show with me.”

“Shut the fuck up-” Dean tore away, much to Cas’ discontent.  “Your brother?  How do you know that?”

Castiel stood up because he knew he wouldn’t be able to keep his hands to himself if he continued to straddle Dean when all he wanted to do was grind down on the obvious hardness against his rear.  He grabbed his beer and took a sip to center himself, taking pleasure in the swollen lips and lustful gaze he was looking down upon.

“Once Sam created the profile, Gabriel called me to inform me someone was using my photo.  While we were speaking, he told me he would get to the bottom of it and confirmed he’d matched with whoever was behind the profile.”

“And Sam would have only swiped right on the profile who was him,” Dean realized and stood up to chase after Cas.

“Exactly,” he agreed, but now was too tempted by their proximity again.  “So our brothers…”

“Are catfishing each other.”  Dean began to laugh with his whole body.  “That’s what he gets!  For catfishing me!  Oh, the friggin irony!”

“You know another ironic part?” Cas led in with an impish grin, “I think Sam likes him.  He expressed his concern that he may have scared Gabriel away under the pretense he’ll never figure out who he is, but I believe it’s because he enjoys his company.”

“That is too good!”  He clapped his hand on his thigh and shook his head.  “Fuckin’ karma, Sammy.  Phew...”  He took a second to think about it and then returned his attention to Castiel.  “I’m, uh, glad you told me.  Before anything went too far.  Because even though my brother’s a jerk for settin’ us up, I’m, uh, glad he did.”

“As am I.”  Cas reached out and let his fingertips trail from Dean’s elbow downward, until their fingers were laced together.  “Now, I have an exam early in the morning, but I wanted to clear the air as soon as I could.  You’re welcomed to stay.  I can’t promise anything besides a sleeping companion, but you already know I don’t snore so the invitation is there.”

“Aw, that’s sweet,” Dean teased and squeezed their locked hands.  “You don’t mind me taking up half your bed?”

“I believe I rather enjoy it.  But I am getting tired, so you’ll have to make up your mind soon.”

“Lead the way, Cas.”  He emphasized the last word.

“Mm, much better.”  He tugged Dean through the hallway and back to his bedroom for the second night in a row, hoping it may become a regular thing.

Although he had been momentarily worried about unveiling the truth, the results worked out better than he could have imagined.  Now he had a partner in crime when it came to the Sam versus Gabriel Tinder showdown.  They had some future plotting of their own to do.

----------------------

After Gabriel’s shift, he was dead on his feet when he collapsed back at home.  He barely had the initiative the throw a microwave dinner in, but knew it would set him back even further with his shift tomorrow.  Watching the countdown made his stomach growl and he reached in the fridge to grab a coke while he waited.  The caffeine wouldn’t even touch the level of exhaustion he felt, so he wasn’t worried about sleep.

He knew he’d pass out the second his head hit the pillow.

The sound of beeping changed his path.  He pulled out the dish and grabbed a fork.  Gabriel decided to unwind in front of the TV, kicking up his aching feet and flipping through channels while his food cooled down enough for him to shovel it into his mouth.  He’d set his phone next to him on the couch and kept eyeing it.

Because to be honest?  As the day had carried on, he was beginning to consider deleting a certain app.  He was weighing the pros and cons.  Maybe he was having an early-onset midlife crisis?  Or maybe he was just having a shitty week... He pointedly ignored Maggie, because that would all be handled tomorrow.  He was compartmentalizing again for his own goddamn sanity.

While he poked at his food, he eventually said, “Fuck it!” and grabbed the phone with his other hand.  He thumbed through his main screen with a forced determination. Under his hovering finger, the icon mocked him.  Yet, he was just itching to push the button.  So he did.  Because he had little to no self-restraint.

It wasn’t like the kid was going to be on anyw-

Oh.  Just kidding.  He totally was.

And he messaged him like fuckin’ quick-fire.

Cameron 12:03am
Hey did I piss you off the other day?

With a heavy sigh, Gabriel finished his meal while he mulled over the question.  Not really the question per se, more like his answer.  Obviously he wasn’t pissed, he was in the middle of an existential crisis about their situation.  Not like he was respond with that, though.

Rich 12:10am
No, did you mean to?
I’ve been hella busy at work
Did you miss me? ;)

Cameron 12:13am
What if I did?

Rich 12:15am
I’d say it’s a natural human response
Sorry, gotta pay the bills
How’ve you been?

Cameron 12:17am
You really are an ass

Rich 12:18am
I’ve already used my ‘with a great ass’ line and it’s been a long day so I don’t have a witty comeback for that

Cameron 12:20am
Wow I’m in shock!
Does long day mean tough day?
I’m down if you need to vent

Rich 12:21am
Yeah but I don’t need a therapist, so thanks but no thanks

Cameron 12:24am
I’m sorry you’re in a crappy mood
I gotta get to sleep
I hope your night gets better

And just like that, “Cameron” signed off.

Then Gabriel was the one feeling like a big bag of dicks.

Shit.  He hadn’t meant for it to go down like that.  Not at all.  And he couldn’t just delete the fucking app leaving it like that like he'd been musing over.  He wanted closure, and yeah, he still wanted to figure out who this kid was, but now, more than anything, he didn’t want to end things on that note.  Gabriel didn’t know why it was important, it just was.

He grunted out loud, louder than the volume of the TV, and tossed the empty cardboard tray on the coffee table.  Maybe he just needed sleep.  Or a coma.

Not bothering to throw anything away or put the fork into the sink, he turned off the television and the lights as he marched into his bedroom.  He tossed his clothes onto the floor, rather than the hamper, and slid into bed.  God, he was dreading tomorrow.

---------------------

Dean all but jolted out of bed at the sounds of an unfamiliar alarm clock.  Because of the information download the night before, he’d completely forgotten to set his.  He had no idea how early Cas’ exam was or if it lined up with his work at all.  And Dean couldn’t exactly show up in sweats.  Fuck.  He hadn’t been late in a long time and he’d totally get reamed out about it.  He’d have to rush. He’d have to-

“Shh,” the voice next to him coaxed as arms pulled him back down.

“Shit... What time is it? I didn’t even-” Dean began to blab, but Cas assertively placed a palm over his mouth to shut him up.

“I remembered that last time you had to leave, you took into account heading home to change.  I gave us an additional half hour so we would have time to lounge and time for me to make you coffee.  Lay down,” his sleepy, monotone voice ordered.

Dean exhaled in relief and slumped back in bed, letting Cas gather him back into his arms and chuckling out, “You’re awesome.”

“Mm, as you’ve told me.”  He cocooned their bodies back together and placed his chin in the crook of Dean’s neck.  “Now calm down.  I can hear your heartbeat.”  Then, as an additional jab, “This is why I told you I could take care of you.”

There was most definitely a blush spreading across Dean’s cheeks and no way in hell was his heartbeat slowing down.  If anything, that had just kicked it up a notch.  How could Cas just say these things out loud?  Then again, if there was one thing he’d learned about the man that he was actually allowing to spoon him, it was that there wasn’t much he hesitated to say at all.

Maybe that was one of the things Dean found attractive about him.  There weren’t any stupid guessing games.  Cas was assertive, sarcastic, and ridiculously hot.  He almost wished Sam had set them up before this.  But then again, would he have said yes and be as open to meeting him if it had been a date arranged by his little brother?  Maybe things had turned out for the best, under false pretense or not.

Dean could guess some of the reasons he was drawn to this man, but not all of them.  There was so much more he couldn’t even begin to explain.  After all, how many people could he say he’d hooked up with and then mindlessly show up the next night at the snap of their fingers?  There was no hesitation when Cas asked.  He came fucking running.  And…Dean knew deep down, he’d keep coming back for more.

It didn’t even have to do with the promises of sex.  This hadn’t been remotely sexual.  This had been about just sleeping next to each other.  Fucking cuddling.  Dean Winchester didn’t spend the night with people for cuddling.  It was just a rule.  But...

Apparently, now he did.  

What the actual hell.

There was this…thing.  This thing about Cas that he couldn’t describe, but he was already addicted to it.  He wanted to explore it.  Like, really explore it.  Like, not-see-or-flirt-with-other-people-until-he-decided-if-there-could-be-something-there explore it.

And it was kind of terrifying, especially given how long (or not long at fucking all) they had known each other.

“What?” Castiel groaned, squeezing Dean once and mouthing at his shoulder.

“What, what?” Dean blurted, like he’d been caught, knowing he totally had been.

“You’re tense.  Is this because of what I told you last night?”  Cas asked, his hand moved under Dean’s t-shirt to softly caress the skin of his flank.

Which totally wasn’t helping his morning wood, but damn, did it feel good.

“Nah, I’m fine with all that.  Sorry, just thinking about work.”  He tried to grin, but was lying through his teeth.

Of course, he was called out.

“Try again.  This time, with the real answer.  It’s too early for bullshit.”

“Ain’t you a peach?”

Cas snorted against his back, “I don’t believe anyone’s called me that before... But that distraction won’t work.”

“Yeah, can’t say I didn’t try,” Dean sighed wistfully.  “Just thinking about how I’ve never stayed the night with someone without hooking up with ’em is all.”

Cas shifted and tugged Dean around until they were face to face and then asked with words lightly laced with concern, “That causes you tension?”

He blinked openly because he hadn’t wanted things to get so damn heavy this early in the morning, “Not…really.  I mean, I guess it’s just different.  I was, uh...”  The scrutiny of the blue eyes staring him down was too damn intense.  So much that he had problems keeping eye contact.  “We just haven’t known each other long and things are already different.”

“Different than your previous relationships,” he summarized.

“See?  The word relationship freaks me out and the fact that we barely know each other and it could be a relationship is what ‘causes me tension,’” Dean parroted the words back to the man.

“Oh.”  Cas’ eyes lit up in understanding and then clouded in frustration.  “Have your feelings changed since last night?”

Dean shook his head and his quiet, “No,” was pretty pathetic, even to his own ears.  “Just…do you get where I’m coming from?  At all?”

In response, Castiel raised his hand to cup Dean’s cheek while his thumb lightly stoked it.  “Yes.  While I can’t personally relate because of my lack of interest in relationships, I believe I understand. I am interested in having one with you, which is strange for me.  It doesn’t cause me tension, but it is…different.  Like you put it.”

“Okay,” he slowly returned, “At least we’re in something new together?

“As long as it’s together.” Cas wore a crooked smile.  “Because I’d like to continue with whatever it is we have.  If that’s agreeable.”

“Yeah.”  Dean decided to push his doubts aside and close the space between them, needing the feel of their lips together.

And now that Cas has somehow calmed him down, he didn’t want to waste another second on his own bullshit when he hadn’t even thought about the fact that Cas could be having his own, and he was stowing and dealing with it like a grown-ass man.  Plus, he looked so damn cute with that bedhead, something that Dean had quickly come to love, and his slightly chapped lips.

Dean gently ran his tongue along them and Cas parted easily, his tongue lazily brushing against Dean’s the second it stroked into his mouth.  He tangled their limbs together and when he did so, it was obvious both of them were erect, which instantly drew a light moan from Dean’s lips.  Cas chuckled against his mouth and kissed him just a little harder.

The moment Dean arched into the touch was the moment Cas grabbed a fistful his hair and rolled on top of him, not able to control himself or waste another minute.  The previous night had been difficult for him, having the gorgeous man in his bed, but setting his own ground rules to follow.  Being pressed together, but unable to get physical was a kind of torture.

That was part of the reason Cas had set the alarm early.  He was a wishful thinker.

And the way Dean had spread his legs to accommodate Cas’ weight between them?  The way their bodies had fallen together perfectly?  Rutting against each other, flawlessly in sync...  This, right here.  This was the ideal result of that wishful thinking.  Cas loved the unashamed noises he pulled from Dean’s throat as he ground down on his cock with the perfect amount friction.  The way they kissed was just on the right side of rough.

Castiel couldn’t explain how goddamn arousing it was that the man easily followed his lead: he was like putty in his hands.  He’d meant it when he told Dean he’d take care of him and it wasn’t because Cas had the craving to baby someone.  He had the undeniable desire to take Dean apart and put him back together - over and over again.

He wanted to be an outlet for this man who needed to hold onto control, who led such a meticulously organized life.  Castiel wanted to be the reason Dean lost his strangle-hold on that control.

And by the way he was panting and bucking up to meet every one of Cas’ movements...  The way he was chasing after his lips every time Cas teasingly pulled away just because?  Castiel knew he was doing a damn good job.

So he took it a step further.

He left Dean’s lips to catch his own breath and nipped at the man’s neck while he reached to haul down their boxers.  Cas spit on his palm and wrapped his hand around both their cocks while he closed his mouth around a sensitive spot along Dean’s throat and sucked.

With a string of curses, Dean grappled at Cas’ back with his fingernails pushing deep enough into the fabric to leave crescent marks in his skin.  It was only fair, Cas realized, as he mischievously grinned at the obvious hickey he’d left on the other man’s neck.

His breath was racing, he knew he was close, so he leaned in and asked Dean, “Are you gonna cum for me?”

“Jesus, yes,” he whimpered, grip only growing stronger and nails digging deeper.

“Are you gonna moan my name this time?”  It wasn’t a question but a growled order.

“Fuck yeah, Cas...” He nodded over and over. “Cas, I’m-” He threw his head back with the other man’s name on his tongue.  It was so goddamn beautiful.

The hot slickness of Dean’s cum made for an easy, amazing glide under Cas’ fist.  That, in addition to watching Dean completely come undone, the wanton image of perfection underneath him, pushed Cas over the edge moments later.  He never took his eyes off Dean, riding out his orgasm, and then collapsed on top of him.

They were both breathing heavily, Cas riding the wave of Dean’s heaving chest before he decided it would probably help more if he rolled off him.  But not before stealing a kiss.

He couldn’t help but grin at the tell-tale mark he’d left.  He wasn’t sure if Dean noticed or not, so he decided to avoid it and say, “I’ll have to let you borrow a shirt.  Leave that one here.  I’ll throw it in the wash today.”

“You already doin’ my laundry?”  He teased him and pressed his lips to Cas’ sweating brow.

“Well, I feel obligated.  Since it’s covered in my cum.”  His candidness never failed to surprise Dean.

So he retorted back, “Our combined cum, buddy.”

“Touche.”  There was a massive smile on Cas’ face, but before he could say what he wanted to, another alarm went off.

He groaned dramatically as he reached out to turn it off and Dean asked, “What is that one for?”

“That would be the ‘no more lounging, time for coffee’ alarm,” he explained easily.

“So ‘lounging’ wouldn’t be code for ‘fucking,’ would it?”  Dean poked him in the side with a child-like amusement in his tone.

“Don’t even tempt me.” Cas narrowed his eyes dangerously.  “There is no code for fucking. There is only fucking.  Which I plan on happening in the near future.”

“How near, exactly?”  While Dean was teasing him, he was also genuinely curious and decently excited.

Castiel paused and chewed his lip.  “That’s quite unromantic to give an exact date and time, Dean.  I’m disappointed in you.”

“Well, I’m impatient.”  He deliberately faced him to announce, “And horny.  It’s because of how damn sexy you are, so it’s really your own fault.”

With a roll of his eyes, Cas thought for a second and decided, “Perhaps this weekend?  I’ve been a bit irresponsible with schoolwork because you’ve been distracting, but I should be able to get ahead in my studies and then we could have another date.  If you’re willing?”

“’Course I am.”  This time, Dean’s smile was absolutely genuinely, “I’d love to see you whenever you’ve got time, Cas.”

“And now we actually have each other’s contact information so there’s no going through a certain third party,” Cas scoffed.  “If the outcome hadn’t been so positive, I’d have half a mind to be angry with Sam.  He’s lucky.”

“Ain’t gonna be so lucky when we get involved with catfishing, round two,” Dean wiggled his eyebrows, which Cas returned with a blank look.  “Gabriel?  Your brother?  C’mon!  We’ve gotta do something to set them up in real life and then make them look like asses because they’ve been trying to figure out who each other is from Tinder!  This isn’t just a show, dude.  This is a golden opportunity!”

“I hadn’t even thought about it like that…” Castiel paused and then grabbed Dean’s face to kiss him quickly.  “You’re an absolutely terrible brother and this is a wonderful concept.  We can text and brainstorm,” he abruptly sat up and pulled Dean with him, “after we shower.  I'd like to spend as much time together as possible before you leave.”

With a wiggle of his eyebrows, Dean enthusiastically agreed, “I can get down with that.”

----------------------

There must have been a reason they always say don’t go to bed upset.  Sam figured it out because the moment he woke up, he was on the wrong side of the bed and it followed him right into class and right through his test.  For the first time in a very long time, he felt he performed poorly.  He should have been prepared.  He should have passed with flying colors.  

But he wasn't.  And he didn't.  And it was all because of the fucking idiot he’d blown off before he’d gone to bed.

This all could have been avoided if he’d checked into the app and read the messages waiting for him, which he eventually gave in and did sometime well after lunch.

Because there were a shit-ton of apologies (he had not been expecting) waiting for him when he was offline.

Not just one simple ‘I’m sorry’ either.

Nope, Sam had messages saying ‘sorry I didn’t mean to take it out on you,’ ‘my week has been really shitty,’ ‘there’s a certain case I’m working with at the hospital that’s really gotten under my skin,’ ’I didn’t mean to piss you off,’ and things asking about forgiveness?  As if this had affected Rich just as much, if not more, than it had affected Sam.  And Sam had probably blown and utterly fucked up an exam over it.

What the hell was happening?

Why were they both so wound up over this?

But reading all the messages… they made Sam feel exponentially better, and even though the other man wasn’t on, he responded back that everything was all right, that he was sorry himself that things weren’t going well for Rich, and he hoped his day was better than the last couple.

Like they were friends.  Good friends.  But…this was a dating app.  So technically, if they weren’t two people pretending to be other people, this would lead ordinary users to believe they had something going between them.  Like…a real something-something.

And Sam had no idea how the hell he felt about that.

It was weird. This was not something he had anticipated.  He genuinely cared.  The things he wrote back - they weren’t just some hollow words to work into his ploy.  When he said he’d listen to Rich vent, it wasn’t because it was expected.  He’d really meant it.  So now there were feelings.  Why was this so fucking complicated?

He was glaring at his phone as he walked into the library after his last class and nearly ran over Cas, dodging just enough to merely shoulder-check him and knock a book out of his hand.

“Shit!  I’m sorry, dude!”  He knelt on the ground to grab it at the same time Cas did, who was watching him curiously and asked,

“Are you okay?  You seem preoccupied.”

“Yeah, no,” Sam huffed and admitted, “I don’t know.”

Once Castiel had his book back and they both stood up, he analyzed Sam with a critical eye.  “You appear better than you did this morning.  I didn’t even feel as though you were approachable this morning.  What’s going on?  Please, you clearly have something on your mind.  Are you feeling unwell?”

With a roll of his eyes, Sam shoved his phone back in his pocket, noticing that Cas deliberately saw him do so and had no clue what to say.  He didn’t know if it should be the truth, some half-truth or-

“Does this have something to do with the lack of response from the catfisher?” Cas narrowed his gaze and cut right to the point.

Which had Sam throwing his arms up in defeat and grunting out, “We finally talked, but it wasn’t a good talk.  And now, I just…I don’t know.”

“You’re stressed out,” his friend asserted, “You’ve been focusing on this for too long.  It’s either this mystery man or studying.  Why don’t you just drop all of this for a while and come run some errands with me?  Just forget about all of it?”

Sam froze and blinked, considering Cas’ offer and then admitting, “Actually, that sounds like a really good idea.”

“Then it’s decided,” he said with a smile.  “Let’s drop our things off at my apartment and then we’ll go for a walk.  There’s a few items I need to get done and you will accompany me.  We can get dinner while we’re out, too.”

A small weight disappeared from his shoulders and he tried to shake the rest off.  “Okay, let’s do it.  It’s finally warming up and it’s a nice day to be outside.  Where are we headed first?”

“A few shops. Then I need to drop something off to my brother,” Cas explained.  Sam didn’t know he was fighting, trying his damnedest, to keep a neutral expression.  “It’s been awhile since I’ve seen him and he finishes work early today.  Maybe he’ll join us, too, I know he‘s been cooped up and overwhelmed.  You’ll enjoy him... Or you’ll find him to be an annoyance.  The odds are good either way.”

“Your brother, huh?”  Sam inquired as they walked along the sidewalk.  “Guess we’ll flip a coin.”

----------------------

Castiel had tried reaching out to Gabriel earlier on in the day and found him completely stressed out.  So much so that he ended up blowing Cas off, which was particularly unlike him.

His brother loved to heckle Castiel as much as humanly possible and jumped at the chance for a conversation, so his behavior had led to much confusion.  As the day wore on, Castiel continued to worry about his brother until Gabe finally called him back.  With nothing but relief in his voice, he explained that he’d had a scare with one of his patients that turned out to be nothing.  It sounded like Gabriel had dodged a literal bullet.

Castiel knew how much his brother loved his work and how much the children he worked with meant to him, so he’d offered to come by for a visit since he hadn’t seen him in a while.  Gabriel eagerly accepted and told him he finished up at the hospital around four.

The little fact that Castiel was bringing Sam was left unsaid.

He’d informed Dean of his plan and the man wished he could be there to see Gabriel’s face.  He demanded a detailed play-by-play after it went down.

Cas’ ‘errands,’ until he was sure Gabriel was home from work, involved going to the bank, the bookstore (where he picked up a few magazines he knew his brother would be happy to receive) and a walk through the park. He knew Sam was already jittery and that was something he knew his friend did to blow off steam.  Well, he knew Sam jogged in the park, so he hoped a walk had a similar effect.

When they got on the bus and were chatting for a while, Sam realized just how long they’d been riding and asked, “Dude.  How far away does your brother live?”

Feigning innocence, Castiel replied, “Just seven more stops.”

“Seven?!”  Sam’s eyes were wide when he blurted, “You didn’t mention he lived all the way across the damn city!”

“You’re the one who agreed to join me,” he commented casually, “Besides, I doubt he’ll have a problem driving us back, so we won’t need to worry about a long commute.”  Just to be a little shit, Cas added in, “You wanted a distraction and a day away from everything.  I’m holding up my end of the deal.”

“This isn’t a distraction. This is kidnapping,” Sam grumbled under his breath.

“Oh?” Cas challenged right back, “And you had something better to do?  Like mope around?”

With an actual laugh, he confessed, “All right.  Fine.  You caught me.”

“I know.”  Cas shifted around in his seat because, okay, this was a long ride and his ass was beginning to go numb.

However, he wouldn’t give Sam the satisfaction of knowing that since he’d just won the battle and refused to concede any form of defeat.

-----------------------

Gabriel received the ‘ten minutes away’ text just as he was changing his clothes, immediately followed by an 'I’m bringing a friend' text, that had him cursing at the state of his disheveled house.  His damn brother only decided to mention this now?!  That little fuckhead!

So it led to Gabriel running around like a friggin chicken with his head cut off, cleaning up all the rooms where a guest would wander.  Obviously, that meant the living room with adjoining kitchen and dining room, the bathroom and -

It didn’t matter.

That was all the time he had before there was a knock on his door.

His eyes flew around the area, making sure it didn’t look like he was living in filth because, okay, for a minute there he was, but that’s only because he was living at the goddamn hospital!  He only came home to eat his dinner and crash in his bed.  He didn’t have time to clean and, shit, there was the knock again.

Gabriel wiped the sweat from his brow and tried to play it cool when he walked to entryway.  He opened the door with a smile and began to say, “Hey Cas, how about you warn me next time-” but his words died on his tongue when he caught sight of the ‘friend’ Cas had brought.

Holy.  Fucking. Hell.

There was a smile on the man’s face as he greeted, “Sorry, Cas sprung this on me, too.  My name’s Sam.  It’s nice to meet you,” but the fucking face was the fucking face Gabriel had been staring at for months and months.

This face was him.

Or, him on Tinder.  This dude was real?!  Well, obviously he was real. He was standing on his goddamn doorstep and-

“Gabriel.”  Cas narrowed his eyes and repeated, “This is my friend, Sam.”

“Oh, sorry, shit.  Yeah, I’m Gabriel. Nice to meet you.”  He extended his hand, unsure how much time had lapsed as he stood there like an idiot in his stupor.

Sam grinned at him and shook his hand then chuckled when he asked, “So, uh, you gonna let us in anytime soon?”

Gabriel wanted to punch himself in the face, straight-up K.O. himself, because he was still just standing there, blocking them like a dumbass.  How could he turn this around?!

“Nope.  Not before I throw the disclaimer out there that this little asshole,” he poked Cas in the chest, “gave me ten minutes to clean the joint.  If you find a random piece of pizza stuck to the ceiling or some porno mag in the couch cushion it’s his fault.  Enter at your own risk,” and then he stepped out of the doorway to allow them in.

“No problem,” Sam easily responded, “that sounds like my brother’s house on a good day.  God knows he’s allergic to anything antibacterial.  Sorry, Cas. You were gonna find out one way or another.”

Gabriel shut the door behind him, but now his attention was piqued. “What’s this I’m hearing?”  He just had to ask as he followed them in, “Do I smell a story, here?  Have you been holding out on me, little bro?”

Cas jerked his head around to glare at his friend who Gabriel now realized, from this angle, had a fantastic ass in addition to a fantastic everything else, and hissed, “Don’t get him started.”

“Oh, please!  Have a seat.”  He gestured with his arm, falling into “host mode” like a second nature.  “May I get you two a drink to go along with Sam spilling whatever hot-off-the-press news is making Cas a little bitch?”

“Do not encourage him.”  Cas’ switch had flipped from annoyance to pleading eyes which made Sam’s light up with amusement.

Gabriel was absolutely gleeful as he trotted the short distance to the kitchen to grab three beers.  He returned to pass them around and leaned in to provoke, “Showtime!”

His mischief was contagious as Sam twisted the top off the bottle and explained, “I set Cas and my older brother up on a blind date.  I may have embellished some lies about him leading up to it, but-”

“I set the record straight, in case you were curious.”  Cas was glaring daggers at his friend.  “So he no longer thinks I’m studying to be an OBGYN, as you gleefully informed him of, Sam.  And before our date, you left off the part where I helped deliver a baby elephant in India, by the way.  Thank you for that.”

Gabriel began cackling and slapping his thigh when he pointed out, “You can’t really help deliver elephants, Cas.”

“I know.”  His embarrassed frustration turned to his brother. “That’s why I told him I kicked it.”

“What?!” Sam nearly choked on his drink. “Why the fuck would you-”

“Mother elephants do it to their young to get ‘em moving.  Hell, calves are on their feet and walking in the blink of an eye.”  Gabriel explained like it was common knowledge. With a wiggle of his eyebrows, he inquired, “Let me guess... Said mama wasn’t doing it right?”

“What else could I say?” he heatedly demanded.  “I had to remain decently factual!  It’s not my fault my friend is a jackass sometimes.” He shot a nasty look at Sam.

“So lemme get this straight.  Sam’s big brother still liked you even after you admitted to animal abuse?”  Gabriel was wearing a shark-like grin and clucked his tongue. “There’s a keeper.”

“And now, apparently, they’re dating,” Sam confirmed and proudly announced, “I’m not a jackass.  I’m an excellent match-maker.”

Gabriel couldn't help but correct, “None of the above - you’re a troublemaker,” then finish with a hearty, “and I like it.”

“You’re both unbelievable,” Cas grunted and took a substantial chug of his drink.  “We never should have visited here.”

“Hey, anyone who can fuck with you when I’m not around earns a gold star in my book.  Can’t have you taking life too seriously.  Like you always do,” the older Novak pointed out and flashed Sam a thumbs up.  “Shoulda brought him around sooner, Cas.”

“Now I’m rethinking giving you your present,” Castiel taunted, emphasizing his threat by gripping the paper bag and holding it just out of Gabriel’s reach.  “Since you’re being such a dick.”

“Oh, c’mon.  We didn’t come all this way!” Sam punched him lightly in the shoulder, thoroughly amused by the sibling's’ antics.  “Of course he’s gonna grill you about a new boyfriend.  That’s just what brothers do.  I’m staying out of it because I was mentally scarred by the, uh,” he didn’t want to go into the whole fake-catfishing situation, because it was all too ridiculous, “accidental text that was meant for you but sent to me.”

“Instant karma,” Cas said, plain and simple as he threw the bag across the space to Gabriel, aiming at his face.

He dodged the attack and caught it easily, then dug through, grinning at the magazines along with the candy bars and flashed a broad grin.  “Aww, Cassie, you shouldn’t have.”

“Yes, I should’ve.  I thought you could use some cheering up.  I’m just glad things turned around for you.”  All the negativity had melted from his voice and it took on a warm tone.  “You need to stop working those ridiculous hours.  You’re going to burn out, and you know it.”

“Ahh, stop.  I hear it from Jo enough, I don’t need to hear it from you, too.”  He batted in Cas’ general direction and set his present on the coffee table.  “Still here, still alive and kickin’.  Just hungry as hell.”

“Well, I propose we go out to dinner,” Cas returned right away.  “Does that sound good to you, Sam?”

Gabriel glanced over to notice something very, very interesting.  

Sam’s eyes weren’t on Cas, who’d asked the question, when he said, “Yeah, that sounds good. I’m starving,” but on Gabriel.

And he thought that deserved a wink, which caught the kid off guard and had him flipping back around to look at Cas with an awkward smile.

Very interesting, indeed.

-----------------

“Really, Cas?”  Gabriel asked through a mouthful of spaghetti, gesturing with his fork, “Are you in love this early?  Can’t get off your phone for two minutes and enjoy the company?”  After he swallowed, he turned his attention to Sam, “Man, your bro must be a Greek God if he’s got Cas by the balls like this already,” then couldn’t help but add, “Must run in the family.”

Sam had a witty comment ready to add in about Dean, right up until Gabriel added the afterthought about him.  He then fumbled his words and his eyes darted down to his eggplant parmesan, trying to get himself together.  “Uh, yeah, Cas... What the hell?” He cleared his throat and elbowed his friend.  “Are you seriously texting Dean right now?  Why aren’t you on a date with him instead?”

Finally, Cas’ attention jerked back up to the table and he rolled his eyes. “I apologize. I’ll put my phone away.”  Instead of responding to the jabs, he added his own, “It seemed like the two of you were keeping each other company just fine without me.”

“That’s what normal people do,” Sam lightly laughed it off.  “When you’re introduced to someone new, you get to know them.”

“Cas likes to stand in a corner and stare.  Sometimes he looms.  Or squints.  I don’t even know how he managed to wrangle a friend like you.”  It was a prompt directed to either of them, but Sam was the one who answered.

All the while, Cas watched them interact seamlessly without missing a beat, as they had been doing all evening.  Which was part of the reason he’d been on his phone.  He honestly didn’t think either of them would even notice him missing, they were so caught up chatting with one another.

Which was what Cas had very eagerly relayed to Dean.  After all, this was all part of their new plan.

“We were randomly paired together on a project first year of law school.”  Sam glanced at Cas and chuckled, “Well, it wasn’t random.  I was out with the flu and Cas scared everyone, so he didn’t have a partner.  I got him by default.  But we did really well on the project.  Obviously, you know your brother’s a genius and I actually like his sarcasm, so we’re really good study partners and we clicked.”

“Careful, he’s taken,” Gabriel teased, but then he suddenly realized, “Oh, hey!  You’re the one he always talks about!  Hell, I even thought he was dating you for a while, but he assured me the two of you were just ‘study buddies.’  Well, I finally believe him.  Now that I clearly see you’re out of his league, that is.”

“Is he always this much of a flirt?”  Sam shifted his entire body to direct his question towards Castiel because he was worried if he faced the other man he may end up blushing just because of how persistent he was being.

With a hum, Cas responded, “On occasion.  He has a type. I believe you fall under the umbrella.”

He really should have expected Cas to forget the sugar-coating.  Yeah, now Sam was blushing.  Especially when he turned back around to see Gabriel watching his every move with blatant amusement.

“Too much?” Gabriel asked curiously, his glee never weaning when he added, “I’ve been told I’m a lot to handle.”

Sam was sick of being on the defensive, so he shook his head with a, “Nah, pretty sure I could handle you.”

Gabriel instantly perked up, “Is that so?”

“I’ve done a lot more with a lot less.”  His confidence shone through his body language as he leaned closer on the table.

Just then Castiel cleared his throat loudly. “I am still here.”

“Being a cock block,” Gabriel snipped to his brother, but then realized how ridiculous this entire situation was and shook his head.  “Sorry, impulse control probs.  Are we getting dessert?!”

“If you didn’t, I’d be worried about you,” Cas answered, picking at the last bit of his salmon, “Would you be willing to drop us back off at campus afterwards?”

“Of course.  You did come out and visit me.”  Gabriel grabbed the dessert menu and began flipping through, mostly as a diversion to keep his focus away from Sam.

He was getting carried away, he knew it, but the level of attraction he felt towards Cas’ BFF?  It wasn’t funny.  Well, it was a little funny.  Considering the situation as a whole.  But the second the guy started becoming receptive he found him even hotter.  And then, when the second he started flirting back?  Gabriel wasn’t even going to go there because he wasn’t even lying about impulse control problems.

His filter would fizzle away.  He’d probably end up pissing off his brother and Cas had gone out of his way to be awesome for him today when his nerves had been fried from the stressful morning.  He wasn’t going to shove it in his face by trying to seduce his bestie.  So instead, he was staring down a picture of a chocolate cheesecake and hoping the waiter would be back soon.

Except, he heard Sam complain violently, “Cas!  I’m gonna break your fucking phone!”

And when he glanced up to see what was happening, his brother was captivated by the device yet again... and Sam... Well, Sam’s focus had abruptly changed, and his eyes were boring holes into Gabriel’s instead.

And if that almost hungry expression on Sam’s face didn’t read “game on” loud and clear?  Gabriel didn’t know what did.

Chapter Text

Luckily, when they were headed back towards campus, all the traffic had died down and the drive was smooth.  Except... That was a problem all by itself.  Gabriel was drumming his thumbs along the steering wheel while they were on the highway.  Castiel was leading the conversation, but to be honest, Gabe wasn’t paying attention.

Because fucking Sam Winchester kept eyeing him in the rearview mirror.

It was distracting as hell because he didn’t know what to make of it.

He wasn’t sure if his brother was oblivious or if he was instigating this.  He never brought his friends around.  Well, it wasn’t exactly like Cas was swimming in friends, but if he’d been uncomfortable or bothered by Gabriel’s flirting, he would have said something.  If there was one thing Castiel was, it was direct.  He wouldn’t hesitate to call him out and order him to cease and desist.

So what was this?

Now Gabriel and his obviously repressed self was confusing real life with porn.  Again.  In a lovely daydream where he dropped Cas off first, Sam asked him to come inside his place and they proceeded to-

Stop!  He needed to stop this right now.  Gabriel needed to keep his eyes on the road because he was flicking on his turn signal and taking the exit towards the campus at that very moment.

Before anything got too out of control, he interrupted his brother and asked the million dollar question, “Who’s closest?”

To which Cas tilted his head and asked, “Pardon?”

“Who am I dropping off first?”

“Oh.”  It finally clicked with his brother, who seemed to mull over the answer, which was strange because of how simple it was.  “Sam’s closer to your way home so you should drop me off first.”

Interesting.

There had been a specific reason Cas had arrived at that decision and Gabriel was gonna drag the answer out of him later.  

But...later.  

Because maybe he wanted the extra time with Sam and grilling Cas right now would make his little brother change his mind.

“Okay, sounds good.”

At least Gabriel knew the way to Cas’ place on autopilot.  He easily navigated the side streets instead of the main ones because of how pedestrian-heavy they were (happy hour was twenty-four seven for college kids who gleefully ignored what color light flashed on the walkways) and after one more conversation, they were parked outside.

“It was good to see ya, bro.”  He ruffled Cas’ hair before the younger man reached for the door handle and was met with an expression that resembled an angry cat.

“Take care of yourself.  Change your schedule around, please,” he tried as he fixed his hair.  “It was nice to see you too.  Have a good night, Gabriel.”

When Sam hopped out of the car as well and walked towards the apartment alongside Cas, Gabriel became confused and called out, “You two having a bromance sleepover?”

Sam turned around and laughed, “I left some of my stuff inside.  Give me two seconds.”

“I’m counting!”

Gabriel tore his eyes away and took a deep breath in through his nose and out through his mouth.  

He wouldn’t be inappropriate.  He wasn’t going to try and bang his little brother’s best friend.  He could control himself.  

Maybe if he repeated the words over and over enough-

He jumped when the passenger’s side opened up and Sam slid into the car, now with an over-loaded backpack in tow, while he wore a grin.  “Did I scare you?”

“No,” Gabriel huffed, “I’m always on high-alert for Bigfoot warnings in the area.  Don’t you worry.”  He shifted the car into drive and asked, “All right, where do I head from here?”

“Do you know where Warner is?” Sam asked, still watching him with a glint in his eye.

“North or south?” he countered before he turned onto the street.

“South.”

“Yep, you live at those apartments?”  He aimed for casual as he merged onto the road.

“Have for the last three years.  They’re cheap and I don’t mind the walk,” Sam answered back, moving around in the seat which was clearly too small for his frame.

“Kinda in the ghetto, isn’t it?”

“You really do know the area,” he snorted when he added, “No one’s tried to mess with me.  Bigfoot, remember?”

“Ahh, yes.  The benefits of being a beast,”  Gabriel chuckled, because it made sense for a poor college kid to take advantage of the price, but still it was a dangerous area.  “Not worried anyone’s gonna shoot you and mount you?”

“Shoot me, sometimes.  Mount me?”  He repeated the words, just to emphasize the double-meaning.  “Depends on the person.”

That time Gabriel couldn’t help himself.  The kid was playing with friggin fire.  “Oh yeah?  Do you have a form one could fill out?”

“I’m fresh out of hard copies,” he said as he tapped his head with two fingers, “but I’ve got it memorized right up here.”

“What kind of qualifications are needed for this position?”  It was the first time he dared to glance over and Sam was still watching him with a growing smirk, but this time there was a different feel to it.

“Just the usual.”  He shrugged his shoulders.  “I need someone who can keep up with me.  Someone who’s smart, funny, and interesting.”  Suddenly, there was a hand on Gabriel’s thigh as Sam pronounced, “Bonus points if they’re on high-alert for Bigfoot sightings.”

“Huh...” Gabriel tried (and did a damn good job, if he did say so himself) to keep his voice light, “Pretty standard application...” as he pulled into the apartment complex and into a parking spot.  He then inquired, “Are there any fees ‘sides postage?” turning to Sam.

But the other man was much, much closer than he’d anticipated and Gabriel had to jerk the car into park as Sam descended on his lips because he most definitely needed two hands for this.

Gabriel reached up and fisted Sam’s jacket at the same time his other hand grabbed the back of Sam’s neck, not allowing himself to be taken off guard and give the kid the upper hand.  Gabriel needed to show Sam that he was in control and he hadn’t been able to thoroughly do that while he was driving a fucking vehicle or under the supervision of his brother, which was infuriating.  But now, it was a completely different story.

He surged into to the kiss and nipped at Sam’s bottom lip, forcing his mouth open as the younger man moaned.  Gabriel took advantage and brushed his tongue along the roof of Sam’s mouth, very pleased when Sam’s tongue eagerly met his.  Everything was hot and escalating and every throaty gasp and whimper was going directly to Gabriel’s cock.

Which was why, after the windows were completely fogged up like that damn scene out of Titanic, he had to pull away.  But not all the way away.  He pressed their foreheads together to collect himself, to catch his breath and cup Sam’s cheeks so he’d stay in place.  

Even though Sam was putting up one hell of a fight.

“Gabe,” his voice was gruff, “do you want to-”

“Damn right, I want to,”  Gabriel cut him off, but finished with, “But I’m not going to.”

Sam’s posture tensed and Gabriel didn’t like it one bit so he gave in and kissed him once, more chastely, before he pulled away to look at him.

“Hey,” the directness of his tone demanded attention, but there was a softness to it Sam responded to even though he appeared confused.  “I like you.  That’s why I’m not going to.  Do you get it?”

It took Sam a second because he was still caught up in the lustful haze before the words really resonated.  “Oh.  Wait, yeah.  I get it.”  With a heavy sigh, he chuckled humorlessly, “Wow, this paints a really good picture of me, doesn’t it?”

“It’s a fuckin’ great, sexy one I’d hang on my wall and I’m pissed I can’t have it,” Gabriel teased back, “Jesus, do you have any idea how hard... Okay, I’m gonna use the word difficult instead, ‘cause I’m having problems: how difficult it is? Saying ‘no’ to you?”  He groaned and tried to pull himself away completely this time, “Shit, you probably don’t even care whether I like you or not,” he was mumbling mostly to himself, “just royally screwed the pooch on that one.”  Gabriel turned back to Sam to say, “You’re too good for-”

“I like you, too.”  It all sounded as one word, blurted from Sam’s mouth to effectively cut off whatever Gabriel was thinking of saying because his intuition told him it was nothing good and he had to make this right.  “What...do you want?  I mean, what do you want to do?  If you want to do anything.  Because I’m game.”

“Huh.”  He analyzed the younger man with appraisal because he was having a hard time comprehending the fact that Sam could be serious.

But the more Gabriel studied him, the more he picked up on the sincerity and the raw honesty of his words coupled with the conviction of the phases he’d put together.  Even though they weren’t well-constructed, they were authentic and open, and damn, Gabriel hadn’t seen this coming.  Not by a long shot.

That’s when he realized just how much time must have passed because Sam was started to wilt and lose his nerve, looking smaller in the seat.  It made Gabriel reach out and cup the man’s cheek once more.

He knew he was smiling now as he said, “Dates.  Talking.  Hell, I’ll text you when I get home.  I’m a walking-talking cliché, but I don’t wanna take advantage of you and just fall into your bed tonight.  I know, I’m dashing and handsome, but I wanna do this right.  If you’re into it.”

Sam was back to himself, rolling his eyes and huffing, “You wouldn’t be taking advantage of me.  It’s not like I-”

“But!” Gabriel placed a finger over Sam’s lips. “I’d be ruining all the surprises I have in store,” he wiggled his eyebrows.  “Plus, this is gonna sound lame as fuck, I’m bored and done with random hook-ups these days.  I’ll say it again, I like you.  I don’t know why, but I feel we really clicked tonight, almost as though I already kinda know you,” he laughed to himself before he offered hopefully, “Let’s...try this.  Do it right.”

With a playful flick of his tongue, Sam teased Gabriel’s finger before the man retracted it with a glare, and he smugly said, “Well, if you’re over all the random hook-ups, at least I know you’re not sleeping around.”

“Nah, no side-chicks,” he scoffed, “You can be my main bitch.”

Wow.  Never been called that before,” Sam found himself laughing and shaking his head before it turned into a nod.  “All right.  Take my number so you can tell me you got home safe.”

“Should I put you in my contacts as ‘Main Bitch?’”  He asked playfully as he pulled his phone out. “Give me those digits.”

“Fuck no. ‘Sam’ is good.  Just put ‘Sam.’” He smacked Gabriel in the arm as he recited his number and then asked with a bit of caution, “Can I get a good night kiss?”

“After I walk you to your door.”

Gabriel was already out of the car, which made Sam scramble to grab his backpack and he called after him, “You don’t even know which apartment’s mine!”

“You’re already about to show me,” he pointed out.  Sam’s long legs had him pulling ahead and in the lead in the blink of an eye.  “See?  Knew it’d work out.”

“Maybe this was a bad choice.”

There was nothing in his voice that even remotely suggested it.  They found themselves in front of the door in no time.  Sam already had his keys in his hand as he turned to face Gabriel, who was mentally taking note of the floor and the apartment number, but that’s not what Sam wanted him to pay attention to right now.

“What about that kiss?”  He egged Gabriel on, leaning against the door before he opened it, already knowing the man wouldn’t follow him inside.

“Oh.  That.”

Gabriel was hauling him downward in record time.  It wasn’t like the kiss they’d shared in the car, it was a sweet goodnight kiss, with barely enough tongue to leave a tantalizing hint of promise.  Sam was still breathless when he pulled away, but that could have been because his heart was beating too damn fast for something so innocent.

“Nice to meet you today, Sammy,” Gabriel winked. “I’ll give you a shout in a little bit.”

He smiled and watched the man turn away, calling after him, “Drive safe!”

Gabriel waved over his shoulder and then he was descending the steps and out of view.  He continued his pace all the way back to his car and now there was a stupid glow on his face that wouldn’t fucking leave.  He may be embarrassed if he wasn’t so damn... giddy.

So what if he took all the shortcuts he knew just to get home a bit quicker so he could send a certain text.  Regardless, tonight had taken a twist he’d never expected and he was experiencing a feeling he hadn’t felt in God knows how long.  Hopefully he wouldn’t fuck this up.  He wasn’t sure if he should tell his little brother or not, but he needed to figure out a way to give him a giant fucking thank you one way or another.

------------------------

“I’m quite tempted to text one of them,” Cas relayed to Dean over the phone as he laid back in bed, after recounting the day.  “You should have seen them at dinner.  I could have walked out and they wouldn’t have noticed until the check came.”

“Shit,” Dean chuckled, and Cas' knew he'd still surprised the man by his bold move of payback to Sam.  “Kinda makes you wonder though.”

“Wonder what?”  He reached over to turn off the light and crawled under the sheets.

“If they do get together.”

Castiel frowned by the tone of Dean’s voice because there was a rueful hesitancy to it all he couldn’t quite decipher.  “I thought that may be the goal.  You have reservations about it.”

“I mean, it’d be cool.  But, like, would they drop the whole Tinder thing?  From what you’re telling me and from what I know of my brother, both of ‘em are hardheaded.  Are they still gonna try and figure out who the other one is?  And you were talking like Sam was all bummed out his online crush wasn’t getting back to him... So is that gonna stop?  What if they do start seeing each other and then they’re like, going behind each other’s back with friggin each other online?”  Dean huffed out a sigh, “Wow, that was complicated.”

“Oh, I definitely see your point.  And it’s a valid one.”  He mused over the thought and found he didn’t have a good answer.  “I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.  You know, we could always just tell them the truth.”

“Nah, not yet.  We don’t have any of the details and if nothing happened tonight, I still wanna see if they ever figure it out.”  He laughed lightly at the thought. “If it comes to it, we do, but I think they’ve gotta put two and two together themselves.”

“After today?  It may be difficult not to,” Cas agreed with a smirk.  “But more importantly, will I see you this weekend?”

“Can’t get enough, huh?  Oh, thanks for the hickey, by the way!  I didn’t even fuckin’ notice it.  It was one of my coworkers who pointed that one out.”

A mischievous grin bloomed on Castiel’s face as he remembered and couldn’t help but tease, “Did you forget to look in the mirror before work?  I thought it was rather obvious.”

“I don’t look that carefully.  I do my hair, then I’m out.  Jesus, I’m not my brother.”  There was most definitely a feigned look of terror with that.  “So now I’m pretty sure the world knows about us.  I don’t know if that was your mission or what...”

“I’m not fond of sharing, I’ll admit,” Cas stated wistfully, “but that wasn’t my intention.  Your neck just looked too delicious in the moment so it’s essentially your own fault.”

“Yeah?  My ‘delicious neck’ got me in trouble?”  He laughed heartily and groaned, “I don’t wanna wait.  I’ve gotta work thing on Saturday, but Sunday...  Let’s do Sunday.  And by that, I mean do me Sunday.”

Cas didn’t miss a beat. “I intend to.”  But then he inquired, “What else would you like to fill the evening with?”

“Do you just wanna have a chill night?  You can come over and we can do movies and pizza.  I know you said you were gonna hustle on your school work and I’m getting burnt out over the day job, so I wouldn’t mind just hanging out.”

“I’d love that,” his voice was sincere and the more he thought about it the more he felt confident.  “I’m very much looking forward to it.”

“Me, too.”  There was a warmth that made Cas smile before Dean added, “I think I’m gonna hit the hay.  Text me tomorrow?”

“Oh course.  Have a good night, Dean.”

“Thanks, Cas.  Let me know if you hear anymore gossip!”

“I will,” he confirmed and rolled around in his bed to locate his charger.

“’Night.”

Once they hung up, Cas plugged his phone in and set all his alarms.  He thought for a moment about sending a text to either his brother or Sam, but decided against it.  He knew he’d speak to both of them soon enough and he didn’t want to push anything.  It was still very early and no matter how impatient he was, he couldn’t rush it.

But then for a second, he wondered... was he rushing things with Dean?

Everything felt so natural, he hadn’t even questioned it before now.  And the only reason he was questioning it was because he was wondering about a new relationship that could possibly mirror theirs.

Castiel had never been one for relationships so he didn’t know the protocol.  Well, he personally hadn’t experienced the protocol.  He knew what was considered normative and if he referenced that, perhaps his and Dean’s was progressing a little faster than the average relationship.  Was that why Dean had been stressed out that morning?  Obviously the man had much more experience with these things.  Maybe they were bending some rules Cas hadn’t dealt with before.

He rolled onto his back and looked at the ceiling with a pensive stare.

Would Dean tell him?  If he was uncomfortable?  If he wanted them to slow down?

Had Cas moved too fast, dragging him into his apartment after their first date with the other man not knowing a thing about him?  And then unveiling all the information and instantly assuming there was a “them?”

Castiel felt a connection he’d never felt with another person before.  He knew they had amazing chemistry and between all the stories Sam had told him and all the conversation during their date, he felt like he truly knew the man.  But did Dean know him?  Sure, he’d spoken with “Cameron,” but not with Cas previous to their date…

Dammit. These were not the types of questions he needed keeping him up at night.

Maybe Cas had an unfair advantage, but there was no doubt in his mind that they had something, that they could be something amazing.

He told himself they’d continue to take it one day at a time and Sunday was only a few days away.  Castiel was very much looking forward to it and he was willing to move onward without hesitation.  In a way, he knew he had to proceed with that route because of what he knew about Dean.  Maybe that was why they worked?

Castiel wasn’t going to let little things like ‘social norms’ get in the way of potential, where Dean may second-guess himself.  He wouldn’t let the other man do it either.  He could read Dean and for all his bravado, he needed someone who would take the reins on something like this, which Cas would gladly do.

He had his mind made up.  Now that he’d thought about it, he realized doubt would do nothing but sabotage a good thing and he wouldn’t let that happen.  Castiel was decisive and firm in his beliefs.

He had to force his body to relax, muscle by muscle, and crush all niggling thought before he could truly sink into the mattress.  After all, he had things to do before class tomorrow and he needed to get as much sleep as he could now.

-----------------------

Jo noticed something different about Gabriel the next day.

He’d gone from wallowing, burnt-out and falsely cheery to truly cheery in the blink of an eye.  It was as though he’d caught his second wind.

Or woke up with three shots of espresso in his drink that morning.

Either way, Jo watched him to see if it was going to fizzle out, but it never did, even when they were six hours into their eight hour shift.  It was at that point that she couldn’t keep her comments to herself any longer.  She had to talk to him.  She had to know.  This was eons different from the Gabriel she had seen yesterday.  Even the positive news about Maggie hadn’t gotten him this fired up.

So she did what she did best.

She cornered him in his office.

“Jo,” he commented lightly without even looking up from the clipboard in his hand, “You’re looming.  My dear, why are you looming?”

“Because you’re glowing,” she pointed out as she marched in, no longer patient enough to wait in the doorway and decided what the hell? and shut the door behind her.  She leaned on the desk, bouncing on the balls of her feet when she accused with great glee, “Did you get laid?”

He opened his mouth, paused, but before he could start for a second time she barked, “Hah!  You totally got laid!  I called it!  Tell me about ‘em.”  She deliberately used a nondescript term because she knew Gabriel didn’t discriminate.  She also knew from one of their rough nights in ER together (one where drinks after work could not be avoided) that he used to be quite the playboy.

But the keywords were “used to.”  That was before work became a priority and he allowed it to completely consume his life.

“No, Joanna Beth.  I did not get laid,” he hummed and haughtily crossed his arms, “but I totally could have.  Unfortunately for me, the angel on my shoulder nuked the devil and told me it’d be better to have a relationship than a fuck-buddy, so I tried to talk him into the former,” then, with a wiggle of his eyebrows, he announced, “And so far, so good.”

“Shut.  Up!”  Jo was giggling like a schoolgirl. “So you’re, like, dating someone?”

“‘Like’ being the imperative word, blondie.  He’s actually one’a Cassie’s friends.  Go figure.  But, since you asked, he’s on the same lawyer track as the little bro. He’s a sassy little shit and he’s a fuckin’ ten.”  Gabriel sighed wistfully, “And he enjoys all my one-liners.”

“Oo, a student.  You cougar!”  She nodded in approval.  “Wait, does Cas know?”

“Eh, he could, he couldn’t.  I like to think that he set us up.  And if he didn’t?  And he asks?  I'll fake it.  Believing him settin' us up is my story, and I'm stickin' to it.”  There was an impish smile on his face.  “But, uh, really weird thing?”

“He’s gotta foot fetish.”  Jo’s face was only stone-serious for a second before it dissolved into a snicker.  “Okay, for real.  What’s weird?”

“When Cas told me he was a tag-a-long, I thought whatever, bring him, right?”

She nodded with the story, waiting for the inevitable punch line.

“Then when he showed up at my front door, I nearly shit my pants.”  Gabriel groaned at the memory of being caught so ridiculously off guard, “Jo, this kid?  He’s the fuckin’ dude I’ve been using as my profile pic on Tinder.”

“Shut your fuckin’ mouth!”  She gasped and her hand flew to cover her dropped jaw.  Then she pointed a deliberate finger towards him, “That means you have a picture of him!  Lemme see!”

The doctor rolled his eyes and grumbled, “Leave it to you to ignore the part of the story that actually matters and pick up on the bullshit details,” while he dug in his pocket for his phone.

At least he didn’t have to sign in to show her, since the photos were saved in some random album.  Although now, it seemed a bit creepy to have pics of your could-be boyfriend already in your phone from over a year ago.  Yeah, that was straight-up creeper status.  He may have to delete those if things continued to go well... Note to self.

While he thumbed through, Jo continued talking, “Well, yeah, those are really wild odds, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not crazy-curious about this dude who’s finally sparked the life back into you, Gabe.  He deserves a medal, or something.”

“Heh...” Gabriel found himself smiling as he looked at Sam’s picture and realized just how old these must have been.

A couple years old, from the looks of it.  Considering how long Sam’s hair was now and how short it was in these.  But his smile was still the same.  He still had that friggin puppy dog face and those adorable dimples.  He’d gained some muscle since then, which Gabriel happened to know for a fact, thanks to Sam’s grabby hands. Obviously it would have been rude not to reciprocate…

Dammit, why did he have to say no?!

“Gabe.  You’re drooling.”

“Shut up.  Behold!  You may drool now, too!”  He shoved the phone in Jo’s face, making her go temporarily cross-eyed before she snatched it away and actually looked at it.

“Oh wow.  Um, yeah, he’s hot!”  Then she squinted and added, “Wait.  He looks really, really familiar…”

“If you’ve hooked up with him, please sweet baby Jesus, just fucking lie to me,” Gabe wiped a hand down his face as Jo scrolled through the few pictures he had of him.

“No, not like that!  Thanks for thinking I’m a slut, Gabe.”  She narrowed her eyes at him for a split-second before turning back to the screen.  “Oh, this is gonna drive me crazy!  I know I know him.  I’ve seen him somewhere!”

“I’ve called dibs!”

“Hey, I’m not gonna take him!  If he makes you this happy?  I can only imagine the rainbow unicorn you’ll ride in on when you actually do get laid.”

“It’ll be a Pegasus! Get it right.”  He winked lavishly and heard his phone buzz.  “Gimmie that!”

“Oo, it’s from 'Sam.'  I'm guessing that's the mystery man?”  Jo held it just out of reach as Gabriel began swinging his arms to take it back.  She stealthily managed to click into the message and read aloud, “'Does phone sex count?’  Ew, Gabe!  At work?  Really?!”

“Hey, we’re having a very serious adult conversation!  It’s not inappropriate. It’s a discussion!”  He was using his professional voice as the blonde chucked the phone at his head, which he easily caught.  “Don’t be immature.”

“A serious discussion about phone sex?”  She inquired wryly, then realized, “Actually, it’s you.  I can see that happening.  Are you making a chart about the pros and cons?”

He nodded curtly, “Of course.  And statistics about how early on in relationships phone sex usually occurs.  See?  Totally professional.”

“Okay, I’m outta this from here, jumping ship,” Jo rolled her eyes and flicked her hand towards him.  “I’m just glad you’re finally out of your slump.”  Then she turned around and added, “I will find out how I know him!  I’m determined.”

“You do that, detective.”

Jo had to admit his good mood was contagious, but now she was trying her damnedest to figure out where the hell she knew this “Sam” from…

-----------------------

Sam was at a crossroads and he felt like he was looking both ways but refusing to cross the damn street.  It all had to do with a certain fucking app on his phone.

The last interaction he had with ‘Rich’ had been after the man had a bad day and sent him a string of apologies following a bitchy message.  Now, Sam had a fucking massive crush, potentially awesome ‘courtship’ of sorts, and…unfinished business.

He felt like a jerk for leaving Rich hanging.  He still felt like he needed to figure out who the fuck he was, but now he would feel guilty if he signed into the damn app.  But who knew if he’d be on?  Maybe he could just send an offline message that everything was okay, that he hoped he was having a better day, and that was it?  

But that couldn’t be it because that would mean he cared.  

But that was because he did.

Fuck, Gabriel had been so distracting two days ago that Sam had completely forgotten about this loose end.  And it wasn’t an itty-bitty one. It was a friendship/flirtationship kind of thing and he still hadn’t managed to figure out the mystery.

But... What if he focused on solving the puzzle?  And that was it?

Cut and dry who-dun-it work.  That wouldn’t be bad...right?

His mind kept going back to the other night, to Gabriel, and how they stayed up late texting and just bullshitting and how every communication made Sam feel like a teenager again.

It was so strange.  The whole concept.

He’d practically flung his horny-ass at the man and been denied which, he didn’t mean to brag, had never happened before and instead of feeling salty about it, he agreed to take things slow and try for something.  Maybe it was the whole “playing hard to get” thing that turned him on?  Maybe it was the endless banter?  Maybe it was the fact that something about Gabriel was strangely warm and familiar...

Whatever it was, the boisterous man was something that Sam craved.  He had no idea how he and Cas were related but - oh, shit.  

He needed to talk to Cas about this.  He didn't have class with him yesterday, but he would see him very soon.

Cas wouldn’t be mad, right?  He couldn’t be.  After all, Sam smelled set-up the second they’d been whisked away to dinner.  It had solidified when his friend had told Gabriel to drop Sam off last.

While Cas could be oblivious about a lot of things, he had witnessed their flirting first-hand and even commented on it, so he couldn’t play dumb.

He wasn’t allowed to.

Because this was looking to be a really good thing.

Gabriel had sent Sam a few texts during the last two days and each of them made him smile like an idiot.

Some were cheesy one-liners, some pickup lines, there had been a longer conversation before bed last night, and another today had been to simply check in.  When they were comparing schedules, they realized something that may be a problem.

Gabriel’s hours were fucking outrageous and he admitted he did it to himself.  Cas hadn’t been joking when he called his brother out on working himself ragged and Gabe had told Sam that he had been the reason his own month was crazy.  Gabriel had picked up numerous shifts when he normally didn’t work, so maybe they could catch lunch some day or have a date night once next week. Then after this month wrapped up, he’d chill out with the overtime.

After all, now he had a reason.

It was also then that Sam realized he had no idea what the fuck Gabriel even did for a living.

When they were chatting, it wasn’t about themselves which was awesome.  It was almost like they’d skipped ahead and were having actual conversations about life, about current events, and picking each other's brains about things that were deeper.  It wasn’t twenty-questions where you fished for things to talk about. Everything just flowed so naturally it was actually uncanny.

Then, Sam second-guessed himself and had a mild freak-out that Gabriel had talked about his job and that maybe he wasn’t paying attention.  Once the dawning of attraction smacked him upside the head, he was thinking about other things he wanted to do to Gabriel rather than listening to his actual words and he’d feel like a huge dick asking, “Uh, so what do you do again?”

It was something that clearly consumed Gabriel’s life if it took up this much of his time and he wasn’t bitching and complaining about it like most people stuck in their jobs.  He even picked up all these hours - so obviously he enjoyed it.  The more Sam thought about it, the more he believed Gabriel had to have mentioned it and now he was desperately searching his brain to remember what it was.

He’d have to ask Cas.  Because, yeah, he was an asshole.

But now, he was considering being an even bigger asshole and signing into Tinder.

For research, he reminded himself.  Because would he ever let it go that someone was still catfishing as him?  Should he call them out already?  Report them?  Could he do that?

He glanced at the clock and noticed he had a half hour before his last class and blew out through his lips.  With an aggressive poke to his touchscreen, he opened it.

Rich wasn’t online, but he had thirty minutes to leave it open, come what may.

Sam kept glancing down, obsessively, but then he was asking himself what he would even say if Rich got online.

“Let’s keep things PG?  I’ve got a possible future boyfriend?  But I still need to figure out who you are?  So can you just tell me?”

He jumped when he saw the sign-in because maybe he wasn’t expecting it, but after a few minutes past and nothing was said, he wondered if he should be the one to break the ice?

Cameron 3:42pm
Sorry I haven’t been on in a while
PS apology accepted
Hope you’re doing better

Rich 3:44pm
I was gonna say the same thing
About not being on
And yeah I am

Sam frowned at the screen and them remembered put together the puzzle.  What prompts could he give him?  He needed to get to the point.

Cameron 3:46pm
How’s the nursing going?
Is there a specific field you‘re in?

Rich 3:47pm
Sudden interest in the job huh
I move where they tell me for the most part
You never told me what you were studying btw

With a tilt of his head, Sam examined the message because they lacked the normal flirting and jesting.  It seemed like Rich was doing the same stilted ‘get to know you’ after the fact that Sam was, which was…weird.  Although he didn’t remember saying he was a student.  Or did he?  Maybe he needed to scroll back through and figure out what the hell had been sent and unsent...

Cameron 3:49pm
OBGYN actually
Maybe you could help me study sometime haha
Us medical students have to stick together right?

Rich 3:51pm
Hey I’m licensed!  Totally different
OBGYN huh?  Interesting
I have a friend who was recently called out as an OBGYN but wasn't

Funny situation lol

That got Sam’s attention.

Did this person know Dean?  That would have been a story his brother would have spread around to everyone and their dog.  His brother was a loudmouth, and if he was Cas were out in the open with their relationship-

What were the odds?  Although, he was probably referencing something completely different.  Like a fellow doctor.  Or nurse.  Or someone dropping in...

The medical program on campus was large (massive, actually) with Lucile Packard the perfect place for student's next stop if they went into pediatrics.  Maybe Sam was looking way too into this.

Cameron 3:53pm
You’re not making a joke out of that?
Really?

Rich 3:54pm
It’s a legit field why would I

Really?  Okay, this was downright strange.

Cameron 3:55pm
Just thought you’d take any opportunity to turn something sexual
I left an entire reproductive category open for you

Rich 3:57pm
Hey you take care of the baby mamas and I take care of the kids
We work in tandem
We’re sacred and saving the leaders of tomorrow!

Cameron 3:59pm
Hah whatever you say
You feeling all right?
You don’t seem like yourself

Rich 4:01pm
Actually, I’m doing pretty fantastic
Sorry, what am I usually like?

Cameron 4:03pm
I guess a little more outrageous
You haven’t made an inappropriate remark once
Which is surprising lol

Rich 4:05pm
I’m being respectful and you think I’m sick?!
Shit I’ve gotta change my game around apparently

Cameron 4:06pm
I didn’t mean it like that

Sam ran a hand through his hair because this wasn’t doing any good.  He wasn’t getting anywhere.  If anything, he was disappointed and discouraged for some stupid reason which was double-bad and he didn’t know what to do.

Cameron 4:07pm
Sorry I’m glad you’re doing better though : )

Rich 4:09pm
What about you
How have you been

Cameron 4:11pm
I’ve been really good too
School is keeping me busy

Rich 4:13pm
That’s nice to hear
I gotta get back to work but wanted to make sure you were still alive
Let me know if you need any help with your homework I’ve got chops in that field too

Cameron 4:16pm
All right deal
Have fun

It was right after he signed out that Sam cursed to himself that he was late to class.  He weighed his options because he hadn’t even began walking and by the time he got there the lecture would already be half over.

Fuck.

Well, that was a massive waste of time, energy, and everything.  Now, he couldn’t even talk to Cas because going to class would be pointless.  Sam groaned and turned his path towards his apartment because that was the last of his day on campus.

The mixed feelings in his gut were really, really beginning to bother him.  What had he even expected out of the conversation?  Had he wanted attention?  Had he, on some level, wanted the flirting?  It made him feel like a shitty person if that were truly the case.  Or it could have been the fact that he couldn’t come up with anything to get him any closer to the end result he was fighting for.

Maybe he should just delete the app once and for all.

Nothing good came out of it.  If anything, he felt like this sore feeling in his gut was feeling a lot like guilt and-

He was surprised when his phone started vibrating and he looked down to see it was Gabriel.  Fuck.  Why did he feel like he was caught in the act or something?

“Hey!”  He greeted brightly and hoped it wasn’t too forced. “What’s up?”

“Oh, hey,” Gabriel sounded confused for a split-second. “I thought you had class?  I was gonna leave you a surprise voicemail to come back to!  You playin’ hooky, you little deviant?”

“Caught me.”  He laughed easily because speaking with the other man instantly calmed his nerves.  “I actually lost track of time and had no idea class had started.  What the hell, right?”

“Yeah.  You sleeping or you studying too hard?”  Then he added with a purr, “Need me to make sure you get to bed?”

“Don’t be a cock tease.”  Sam groaned dramatically then challenged, “Put out or shut up.”

“Oo, don’t you wish!”  He cackled and then quickly interjected, “So you’re free?”

“On accident, yeah.”

“Well, I was wondering if I could whisk you away...” Gabriel’s voice definitely had mischief written all over it.

“What?”  Sam stumbled in his step, “Like, now?”

“It was gonna be after class, but I guess I could head out now.  Since you messed up my timeline,” he laughed at a dumbfounded Sam.  “I like to be spontaneous when time allows.  I got out of work early and unless you’ve got other plans…”

“Yes!”  Maybe he was a little too eager, sue him.  “Where do you want me to meet you?”

“I can come to your ghetto-fab apartment.  I’ll head on over, you can drop your stuff off,” he suggested, “then you’re all mine.”

There was a huge smile that wasn’t budging from Sam’s face. “Deal.  I’ll see you soon.”

---------------------------

While Gabriel hadn’t expected Sam to answer the phone call, it was a welcome surprise and he easily changed his path from his house back towards Stanford.  If his math was right, Sam would barely beat him back to his place and then he’d be able to scoop him up.  He’d gotten out just before rush hour and this actually worked out better for him.  After all, Gabriel got grumpy as fuck waiting in traffic.

But he was prepared to do it for Sam.  That was saying something.

He’d finagled his way around the second half of a borrowed shift with the initial doctor he’d taken it from.  The man hadn’t put up much of a fight and Gabriel wanted to take advantage of one of the only nights their schedules aligned.  He made it happen and he was glad Sam was down with being spontaneous.

In no time, he was parked in front of the apartment and the headlights must have given him away because there was a text on his phone that read, “Come up,”  which made him pause, but follow instructions.  Gabriel locked the car and climbed the stairs up to where he’d dropped the man off a couple nights ago to knock on the door.

When Sam answered, it was with a wide grin and a very nice kiss which had Gabriel commenting, “Hello to you, too.”

“What are we doing?  I was just getting a warmer shirt on,” Sam explained as he walked back around the corner.

Gabriel hesitated as to whether to follow him or not, but ended up lingering in the entrance way and glancing around what little he could see of the apartment.  “Have you checked out the Art Festival going on downtown yet?”

“No, I haven’t!”  Sam’s voice echoed down the hallway, presumably from his bedroom.  “I was gonna try and rope Cas into going with me, actually, but I haven’t seen him since the other day.”  When he finally turned the corner, he looked like a genuine happy puppy and Gabriel had to hold back from grabbing him like one.  “Is that where you’re whisking me away to?”

“Figured we could Uber there, walk around, hit up a bar, and Uber back,” he suggested, “It’s always fun this time of year.  Nice to be outdoors, too.”

“So say we do hit up these bars and you drink a little too much...” There was an impish grin working its way on Sam’s face.  “Does that mean you’ll stay the night?”

“Perhaps...” Gabriel raised an eyebrow. “But don’t think I’ll fall into any evil plans of seduction.  I’ll be the who seduces you.”  He gave Sam a once-over and clucked his tongue. “But probably not tonight.”

“You may not be able to resist, you know.”  He flashed a confident look as he reached behind Gabriel to grab his coat, leaning in close enough to feel his radiating body heat.  “I thought you said something about a self-control problem?”

“Yes, but I’m also very stubborn.”  Gabriel’s arm shot out and he grabbed Sam’s chin, his surprisingly strong grip holding the man in place and forcing him to focus.  “But I ain’t got no rules about cuddling.  If that helps.”

Sam’s eyes flashed down to Gabriel’s lips which were temptingly close and then back up to his eyes.  Because, dammit, this man would be the end to him.  Al-fucking-ready.

“So, how about this date, kiddo?”  There was still a hint of fire in his eyes while he gestured with a nod of his head.

“You’re such a tease.”

“Nah, you just lack patience.”  He tsk'ed and patted him on the cheek once he released him.  “So let’s head out.  You sounded excited.  Let’s enjoy the fest and not get too ahead of ourselves quite yet.”

“Fine,” Sam tried to sound put-out but he couldn’t because of the smile that wormed it’s way onto his face.  “Go ahead and get the car.  I’ll lock up.”

“Much better attitude.  Maybe you’ll get a reward.”

That perked Sam right up and he inquired, “Oh?” while he watched Gabriel thumb through his phone and send for the Uber.  “Is that how this is working?  If I behave, that is?”

“Hm, you seem to like that idea, don’t you?”  His voice was a bit distance as he went through the motions and announced, “We’ve got one, five minutes out.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” Sam pressed once they walked down the hallway and into the stairwell.

Gabriel cast a glance over and feigned innocence.  “We’ll have to see, won’t we?”

With a chuckle, Sam repeated, “We’ll have to see.”

Chapter Text

The art festival was something that happened at the beginning of spring every year while the students were still in school so they knew the turnout would be great, but more than anything: profitable.  A few streets were shut down where vendors would set up their tents and put their array of homemade arts and crafts on display to wow the public as well as sell their goods.

There was also another section devoted to a farmer’s market and all the local wineries, which were not in short supply.

It was fun to get out and walk around, not to mention see all the talent in the area which ranged from amazing two-dimensional arts like paintings and photography, to welded, scrap-metal, quirky figurines and gorgeous, meticulously-fashioned jewelry.

Sam had always made it a point to go, because this kind of thing was so far outside his skill-set and he was amazed at the things people could create.  He was too analytical, too logical, and left-brained to even know where to start when it came to imagination and fabrication.  It left him utterly fascinated with how these artists did what they did.

Normally, he’d simply let himself be entertained and wander, but with Gabriel by his side, they were constantly striking up conversations with the faces in charge of the tents and Sam could actually ask the questions he’d never gotten the gumption to ask before, which made it even more fun.  Hell, it was a whole new ballgame!

Not to mention, Gabriel wasn’t just browsing.  When something caught his attention, he’d let out a noise or a “Ah-hah!”  Then, he snagged the strangest little things, things that you could fit in your hand, and bought them on the spot.  There was always this delight dancing in his eyes when something suddenly captivated him and it made Sam laugh and smile every damn time.

He was like a kid in a candy store and some of the merchants already recognized him, which Sam found interesting.  He still hadn’t put the pieces together, but it was pretty obvious that Gabriel did something that had to do with the public.  

And he had no qualms about spending money.  

Maybe it had to do with the said “ridiculous hours” that he worked?  After all, if he was busy at the job, that didn’t leave much time for a social life and he was probably saving money instead of spending it.

The people who knew him prior to the fest spoke to him with a sincere fondness, not the way you’d speak to someone who was simply a casual acquaintance.  Their “thank you”s weren’t just from the sales.  They seemed to reach deeper... And Gabriel treated them with just as much regard.

There were so many fucking times that Sam had the question on the tip of his tongue, but he still couldn’t bring himself to say it.  So he kept quiet and let himself relax and enjoy his time.  Because to be honest?  This was the most excitement he’d had in forever.

Sure, company with his friends was cool, but it always revolved around studying.  Around desks cluttered by papers and flashcards.

His usual Sunday afternoons with Dean were nice, but his mind always wandered to what he had to prepare for Monday.  

Speaking of, Dean had texted him that apparently their Sunday brotherly-bonding session was off because he and Cas had a date.  Sam really, really needed to talk to his friend and decently soon, just to harass him about how he knew they’d be great together.  Sam was a damn good matchmaker, and he needed to rub their noses in it. 

Oh, and the fact that Cas should probably know he was actually kind of seeing Gabriel now, too.  

...That should probably get brought up sometime soon...

But moral of the story: right now with Gabriel, he was completely at ease.  The rest of the world fell away and it was just the two of them.  The fact that this was all so innocent and playful was ironic; considering how they’d begun things, all hot and heavy, which was Sam’s fault - since he’d basically attacked the other man.

Hell, sometimes when they were in a crowd of people, Gabriel would grab Sam’s hand to lead him through and it would make his heart speed up a little.  Not just from the simple contact, but from the smile Gabriel would shoot him as a silent ‘you still with me?’ even though their fingers had intertwined and Sam wasn’t going anywhere.

This random date night was so strange in many ways, but it was pretty much perfect.

Eventually, after they’d navigated their way through the entire span of tents and everyone was beginning to close up shop for the night, Gabriel asked him if he was still down for the bar.

They’d gotten some food from the farmer’s market along the way, so they didn’t need to grab dinner, but Sam easily agreed that he was on board for a drink.  Or many drinks.  He didn’t say that part aloud, though.

A few blocks later, they were at a townie bar rather than a campus bar and only had to wait a handful of minutes to get a booth.  Gabriel specially wanted a booth so he could sit down next to all his new purchases.  Sam had rolled his eyes and told him that’s what he got for buying so much luggage.

“Hey!  Almost all of them are presents!”  Gabriel had defended when they were being showed to their seats, clutching the bags close to his chest.

Sam laughed while he slid into his seat and asked, “Should I be jealous?  Leave you two, or fifty, alone?”

Gabriel rolled his eyes, pausing while the both of them ordered, then asked sweetly, “Would you like some booty from my treasure chest?” while he bounced one of the bags up and down.

“Don’t break anything!”  Sam admonished, even though he knew each individual item was meticulously wrapped up with care to avoid breaking.  “Nice double-meaning there, by the way.  Are those innuendos gonna start tumbling out now that we have a decent amount of privacy?”

“Naturally.” Gabriel winked and put the bag back. “And I haven’t even had a drink yet.  You’re in trouble!”

“It’s a good thing that I like trouble.”  Sam folded his arms on the table until the waitress approached the table with a tray.

While he eagerly took his pint glass, he warily eyed Gabriel’s drink that was three different colors and the four blue-tinted opaque shots sitting in front of them.  He hadn’t even been paying attention when Gabriel had ordered, he’d been too focused on waiting for a response and now when he looked up, the other man was waiting with a grin.

“What did you do.”  Sam asked flatly.

“Just drink it.  Cheers to accomplishing part one of our night, and then another for the start of part two!”  When he grabbed the shot, he blew through his lips and added, “It won’t poison you.  It’s good.  C’mon!”

Still a bit hesitant, Sam grabbed the first shot in front of him and raised his glass, agreeing, “I did have fun at the art festival, so cheers.”

When he tossed it back, he recoiled because JesusfuckingChrist, that was sweet.  Nothing at all like the usual whiskey he’d drink.  Gabriel cracked up at the face he made, but Sam didn’t want to give him the benefit of making fun of him, so he downed the next one just to get it over with.

He quickly schooled his features, shoving the shots to the edge of the table and chugged his beer to get the nasty, sugary residue out of his mouth, then asked, “What the hell was that?”

“This beauty?” Gabriel made a flourish of jazz hands around his drink.  “It’s a Tequila Sunrise, you weirdo.  Heavy on the tequila.  The shots?  Those will remain my little secret.”

“You need to be drunk to be around me?” Sam instantly asked in jest.  “Wow, I’m sorry about that.  What was the breaking point?”

“Besides your charm and good looks?”  He very obviously gave him a once-over. “It’s hard to behave around you, kiddo, so I’m drowning my sorrows.”

That actually made Sam laugh and shake his head.  “You can’t drown your sorrows with the cause of your sorrow.  It’s an unwritten rule.”

“I’m a rule-breaker.  Haven’t you figured that out by now?” He dramatically widened his eyes and tacked on, “I thought our texting and time together would have made that fun tid-bit clear by now.  I thought you were a smartie.  How the hell are you gonna pass the bar exam?”

“Shut up...” Sam’s laughter hadn’t died down, if anything it picked up. “Maybe I need more time to study you.”  Then he pitched his voice a little lower and he added the deliberate temptation, “Wanna teach me a lesson?”

----------------------

Of course, Gabriel had a contingency plan if things went well.  And if they didn’t.

To be completely honest, he thought any prospect of things working out with Sam was too good to be true, which was why there was a fifty-fifty chance he had already thought they may be taking separate rides home, and he could retrieve his car in the morning.

It wasn’t like Gabriel thought it would crash and burn.  He was just worried that without his brother as a buffer that they may not have the chemistry he’d initially thought.  After all, a chunk of their bonding had to do with nagging and harassing both their brothers.

Gabriel’s kidnapping plan had been a test, of sorts.  To see if Sam was spontaneous, to see what would happen if he caught him off guard and out of his element. Gabriel’s life had a knack for being unpredictable with both his schedule and the way he chose to live.

He needed to make sure Sam was able to fly by the seat of his pants and that he wasn’t some OCD law student, which sadly happened to be the stereotype.

And, God, in this case did he love to be proven wrong.

Before he let himself become invested in something, he wanted to work out the kinks.  He wanted to push on some of the boundaries that would make or break what could be a “them,” early on.  Because, okay, maybe Gabriel was a bit of a cynic, but he didn’t want to waste either of their time.  Plus, he really was caught up in the “this is too good to be true” mindset.

But no matter what he threw at Sam, he adapted, it rolled off his back, he didn’t even blink, and...

...Gabriel’s doubts no longer held water.

Maybe that was the reason he was able let loose at the bar?  Maybe that was the reason he didn’t blink when they headed right back to Sam’s?  And then, fuck, was it impossibly difficult to keep his hands to himself...

There was this thing Sam did... You could see it in his eyes... This switch just flipped and it made Gabriel’s heart race.

But he was trying to remain cool, stay calm under the pressure, even through all their outrageous flirting.  But now that they were back?  Now that they were actually alone?  Fuck, it would be so easy...

“You’re staying.” Sam didn’t even bother phrasing it like a question and began tugging Gabriel’s jacket off for him as soon as they entered the apartment, then prompted, “So?”

Gabriel had batted him away to put his bags of goodies on the entryway table and obviously he was able to take off his own jacket, thank-you-very-much, no matter how drunk he was.  Then when he was toeing off his shoes, he realized there had been a question.  “So...what?”

He waited until Gabriel turned towards him, then grabbed his wrist and pulled him further into the apartment.  “Did I behave?  Do I get a reward?”

With a chuckle he remembered the words from the very beginning of the night, the ones that were spoken before they even left the apartment.  With the shake of his head, he sneered, “You?  Actually behaving?”

“Well…enough?”  Sam quirked a grin as they entered into a dark room and spun Gabriel around to a halt.

Gabriel grabbed Sam’s hips to steady himself and laughed, almost having fallen over, but took advantage of his grip to hook his thumbs in Sam’s belt loops.  He dramatically sighed and thought aloud, “It depends what ‘enough’ means,” then couldn’t help himself from using the leverage to pull him in closer, but still keep him just out of reach.  “Tell me what you think you deserve.”

There was a small shiver that shot down Sam’s spine when he admitted, “I think I deserve a lot of things... But you may not agree.”  He ducked down until their noses brushed, “What I have in mind’s a little more intense than cuddling.”

“Angry cuddling?”  Gabriel snickered out, because he couldn’t help it - he drunkenly thought he was hilarious.  But at the same time, he also couldn't help but close the distance between them, because he couldn’t keep away.

He’d been thinking about kissing Sam all night and now that he could, he wasn’t going to waste another second.

Sam seemed taken aback by the intensity and ferocity of Gabriel’s assault.  He was lewdly licking into Sam’s mouth in no time, needing more of him, and as soon as Sam realized what was happening, he gave back just as good.  In fact, he changed the playing field by tackling Gabriel down to his bed and grabbing a fistful of his shirt.

It didn’t take Gabriel long to pin Sam to the mattress and tangle his hands in his hair, biting and sucking the younger man’s lips with raw passion.  It made Sam moan and buck up against the body holding his down, and that’s when it was glaringly obvious both were hard in their pants.  That was when Gabriel reached the goddamn “moment of truth.”

He didn’t want to stop kissing Sam.  He never wanted to stop kissing him.  But was this too soon?  What were the rules he set?  Could he follow them?

The way Sam was writhing underneath him and moaning was fucking obscene and all Gabriel wanted was to take, wanted to bend him over and-

But that was most definitely off the table.

“Fuck,” Gabriel cursed and pulled away.

Sam chased after him and caught his earlobe with his mouth, nipping and teasing, trying to coax him back.  He even went as far as to tease him, “Yes, we can do that.”

“Don’t tempt me,” Gabriel grabbed Sam’s shoulders and pushed him back down, mouthing at his neck and exhaling sharply.  He buried his face against Sam’s shoulder and groaned, “Shouldn’t have drank so much.  You’re making my restraint nonexistent.”

“You’re the one who kissed me first.  And liquored us up.”  He actually sounded like he was pouting, which was all kinds of adorable.  Until he rutted up against Gabriel’s erection and almost whimpered, “God, I want you.”

The jolt of pleasure shocked him and he physically couldn’t hold back from grinding down against Sam and demanding, “How bad?”

A gasp was ripped from Sam’s lungs from both the suction against his neck and the sweet, rough friction against his throbbing cock.  He tried to form words but Gabriel was stealing his breath and, fuck, he needed to get out of these jeans.  He needed to feel Gabriel’s touch.  He-

“So fucking bad,” Sam finally managed to groan out, “Wanna feel you.  Your hand, your mouth, your cock, anything, everything, please!”

“Such a needy mess.”  He couldn’t go another second without kissing him again, but couldn’t bring himself to do much else.

He also couldn’t stop himself from grinding in time with Sam’s upward thrusts while their lips clashed together.  Gabriel ached.  He wanted the wanton mess of a man underneath him so fucking much it hurt.  He justified their hips rutting together was a consequence of alcohol and the intense make out.  Like they were horny teenagers.  Technically, he was holding back, holy fuck, was he holding back from all the things he wanted to do-

The younger man was desperately grabbed at Gabriel’s back as he whined, “How long are you gonna make me wait?" The question was emphasized with a sharp to bite to Gabriel’s lower lip.

It wasn’t enough to draw blood but Sam’s begging was leading Gabriel so close to shattering his resolve.  He couldn’t help but taunt, “You like playing rough, huh?  Be careful what you wish for, because when I do give it to you, you won’t be able to walk for a fucking week," as he pulled roughly at Sam’s hair.

Sam’s hips bucked off the bed and started to move jerkily.  Then he was gasping Gabriel’s name into his mouth like a fucking prayer.  That’s when Gabriel drew back and realized Sam was cumming in his goddamn pants and he couldn’t take his eyes off the gorgeous sight beneath him.

It sent a shockwave down Gabriel’s spine and he could feel warmth pooling in his own stomach just from watching Sam and he bolted off the bed and down the hallway.

Sam blinked as the orgasm left him boneless, but his afterglow was killed when he realized Gabriel had run.  

He glared down to the wetness soaking the front of his jeans and jumped up from the bed, tearing off the soiled clothing and pulling on a clean pair of boxers with every intention of chasing the other man down.

Did he freak Gabriel out?  Had it been too much too soon?  Did he push him and go against the rules Gabriel had set for not only himself, but also for them as a whole?  Fuck, now Sam was actually fearful that he’d ruined everything they’d built so far because he’d embarrassingly-

Before he could even get out into the hallway, the other man appeared, sweaty and breathing heavily, while he pushed Sam’s chest backwards into the room.

“I’m sorry, did I piss you off?  I didn’t mean-” then Sam was shoved again, more forcefully, back onto the mattress with an, “oof!”

With a chuckle and a shake of his head, Gabriel explained, “I was getting off just lookin’ at you, but I don’t have the luxury of being at home with a wardrobe at my disposal and couldn’t wreck my pants.  Doubt anything of yours would fit me.  Thank God I managed to find your bathroom in the dark.”

A visible tension was released from Sam’s frame and he shot him a goofy smile when he said, “Okay, I thought I scared you away and you were headed for the hills.”

“Yeah, with that hard-on?  I think not."  Gabriel pulled his (clean) jeans off and began unbuttoning his shirt, when he prompted, “We’re still down for some cuddling, right?”

Sam nodded eagerly as he watched Gabriel undress and pulled his own shirt off, then slid under the covered.  Staying in his undershirt and boxers, Gabriel joined him and chuckled when Sam immediately latched onto him.

“You always this cuddly?”

“Sometimes.  I’m just glad you’re staying.  You gave me a heart attack for a second,” Sam was loose-lipped from the shots.

“Hey, I practically had a heart attack because I didn’t know it was possible to get off from making out and some innocent humping.”  There was humor in his voice as he kissed the mass of hair that was comfortably nestled against his shoulder.

“Just imagine what it’s gonna be like when you finally stop being a tease...” Sam tilted his head up and made deliberate eye contact.  “Remember, I asked a question.”

“You did, didn’t you?” Gabriel grinned at him and shrugged noncommittally

It made Sam frown and continue to push, “Are you avoiding it?” then tacked on, “You talk a big game.  Maybe you’re worried you won’t be able to back it up?” just to egg him on.

“Oh, it’s you who should be worried, Sammy.”  There was a glint in his eye when he said it.  “Don’t you want to enjoy my company for a while?  Or is sex all you care about?”

“I didn’t mean it to sound like that,” Sam felt the need to correct, because, damn, did that look bad on him...but he also still couldn’t help but add, “I’m just insanely attracted to you.  It’s not like I just want sex, Gabe.  Is it bad I want it all?”

“Nope. I do, too.”  He puffed out a sound through his lips.  “Hell, it’s fucking impossible for me to keep my hands off you.  You have no idea how bad I want it.  But I told you.  I want to do this right.  I don’t want to get all addicted to your hot bod then that’s what it’s all about.  I…” he paused because did he really want to go into this?  Right now?

“Yeah?”  Sam wasn’t looking away.  He squeezed Gabriel tighter and said in a soothing voice, “You can tell me.”

It was almost a huff of defeat, and maybe it was liquid courage, but he may as well get it out there while he had it, right?

“You already know my schedule.  My job’s kind of demanding and I take it seriously.  And, I don’t wanna freak you out, but I need someone who gets it and understands it.  Gets me.  All of me.  I don’t want late night booty calls after work.  I want a relationship.  I could see us very, very easily falling into bed.  I could see us realizing how simple that is and then not worrying about the other stuff.  It could happen so goddamn easy.  Because honestly, that’s probably the easiest way to handle...me.  You said you want it all, and I do too.  Even if you were referring to sex and I‘m referring to the rest of the stuff.”  Gabriel winced under the intensity of his own words. “Fucking a, I need to not drink and talk.”

But Sam hadn’t once gone stiff from where he was laying on Gabriel’s chest.  He just took it all in and waited for the man to finish.  When he did, he admonished, “No, drinking and talking is good.  ‘Cause all that makes sense.  I mean, I can see how skipping right to it would make you think we’d keep on skipping.  I like you way more than that and if that’s what it takes for you to be comfortable with us?  I'm completely okay with it.”

When Sam actually snuggled closer, Gabriel couldn’t help running his hands through the long locks with his brows furrowed and asking, “Really?  You’re not gonna call me a prude and move on?” with the air of a joke, but it was just bravado.

Sam snorted, “I already know you’re not a prude.  You just want to see this through and I do, too.  I don’t know why you picked me, but I’m glad you did.”

“Um, have you seen you?” Gabriel’s hand was just within reach of smacking Sam’s rear if he leaned, so he did.  “All kidding aside, duh.  ‘Course I wanna see this through with you.  I’m just surprised as hell yer dealing with my weirdo plan.”

“Shut up.”  Sam rolled on top of him and hovered, grabbing Gabriel’s face and pronouncing, “It’s not a weirdo plan.  I get it.  So let’s keep following it.  Just prepare yourself for sexual frustration and blue balls, I guess.”

A smile quirked the side of Gabriel’s mouth as Sam stared down at him as he tried to solemnly say, “We’re in this together,” without laughing.  

When Sam kissed him on the forehead, Gabe whispered, “Hey, it’s not gonna be forever.  Promise,” then tugged the younger man down to meet him for a proper kiss.

Sam couldn’t help but moan against the touch and felt himself getting lost little by little.

It was only Gabriel’s whisper of, “I’m the big spoon,” against his cheek that broke his out of his reverie.

He made it a point to flash Gabriel a halfhearted bitchface before he rolled over.  Sam didn’t admit it, but when the man made a contented sigh and wrapped his arms around him from behind, his body heat made him feel warm in a whole different way.  It made him unexplainably happy and he didn’t even get mad when Gabriel felt his ass up again.

Sam just chuckled and swatted his hand away and then fell into the easiest sleep, wrapped in arms.  He never wanted to leave.

-------------------------------

Dean 12:35am
Don’t know if you’re up or you’ll get this in the morning
But I let Sam know that you called dibs on me Sunday and guess what?
He was out at the art fest with a “friend”

Cas 12:36am
Yes I’m still awake and I’m glad we’re on for Sunday
Sam missed class today and it wasn’t me
And since Gabriel hasn’t harassed me at all today I believe you’re correct in you assumption

Dean 12:40am
Dude your setup totally worked!!
You sneaky little minx ;)

Cas 12:41am
Please refrain from calling me that
But I’m very pleased it did
I think they’ll be good for each other

Dean 12:43am
Do you think the thing has come up?

Cas 12:43am
No
I would have received a text or call from both of them if it had

Dean 12:45am
They’re so dumb

Cas 12:47am
Their infatuation is preventing them from seeing the big picture I believe

Dean 12:48am
See what I mean?
Dumb
You know what’s not gonna be dumb?

Cas 12:50am
Should I be guessing?
You should just tell me

Dean 12:52am
Me seeing you in two days
You’re spending the night

Cas 12:53am
I’d hoped for the invitation
I’ll gladly take it and use it to its fullest advantage

Dean 12:55am
I hope that means taking advantage of me

Cas 12:57am
You’ll have to wait and see, won’t you?

Dean 12:59am
You can’t resist me
I already know that

Cas 1:01am
You’re very cocky
I’ll have to put you in your place

Dean 1:03am
OK now I’m just horny
So thanks for that

Cas 1:05am
It’s my pleasure
Get to sleep
Have a good night, Dean

Dean 1:07am
Wish you were here

Cas 1:08am
Very soon

Dean 1:09am
Night Cas

------------------------------

When Sam woke up, he was colder than he wanted to be and he heard the sounds of shuffling.  He’d always been a light sleeper and when he opened his eyes it was to see Gabriel completely dressed and turning towards the hallway.

“Not gonna say goodbye to me?”  Sam raised his voice and the man froze in his tracks.  “That doesn’t seem to follow your gentlemanly plan, Gabe.”

When Gabriel turned around, he didn’t just face Sam.  He went the extra mile to stride over and hop back down to the bed.

With a wide grin, he explained, “I was gonna see if you have mouthwash and give you a lovely goodbye kiss, kiddo.  Way to ruin it and make me look like a douche.”

Sam chuckled and rearranged himself to use Gabriel’s lap as a pillow.  “Did you just get up?”

“Yeah, still gotta run home and get ready for work.  Full day ahead of me.”  He trailed a finger over Sam’s neck and hummed, “Wish I could lounge, but duty calls.”

Internally, Sam cringed because he still hadn’t gotten around to asking Cas what Gabriel did and it hadn’t come up in their conversation last night.  He could try to bait him for details, but then again he was still worried it was something he’d zoned out about.  And especially given the fact that Gabriel’s work was one of the reasons they were taking things slow, that it was that huge of a part of his life, Sam wasn’t going to risk it.

Instead, he rolled to look up at him and smiled.  “All right.  Well, I’ve got the day off so whenever you’ve got a break and feel bored, you can text me.”

That made Gabriel smile something strangely tender when he said, “Deal.  I had fun last night. Let’s make it happen again soon.”

“I’d like that.”  The words came so easy, especially with the openness surrounding them both this morning and he stretched a little before sighing out, “Tell me when your schedule opens up.  Then I can make sure all my homework’s done.”

“Shit,” Gabriel groaned, “I didn’t even think about that last night. I know Cas gets fucked in the ass with the law-student battering ram, I totally forgot.”  Then he feigned horror. “You must be a glutton for punishment if you want my dick on top of it.”

Sam swiftly elbowed him in the stomach and rolled his eyes. “Wasn’t there a goodbye kiss and you going to work?”

Gabriel grinned victoriously, even though the wind was momentarily knocked out of him, before he physically hauled Sam up and grabbed the back of his neck.  He dragged him into a heated kiss that was much too intense for a farewell and had arousal rushing through Sam’s veins in no time.  Shit, he even whimpered and surged into it and that...was around the time Gabriel pulled away.

With his eyes narrowed, Sam hissed, “Why did you do that?”

“So you’ll miss me.”  Gabriel winked boldly. “Can’t have you getting tired of me, now, can I?”

Sam decided to give him a taste of his own medicine, using his long arms to his advantage and yanking Gabriel back to him.  He kissed him with the same fervor, with the same desperate edge that had them breathless and wanting in no time.  Sam knew that for sure, because while one hand was fisted in Gabriel’s hair, his free hand gently, teasingly grazed the front of the man’s pants to feel the swollen hardness under the denim.

It was the touch that made Gabriel gasp and break free of the hold, glaring daggers at the younger man and growling, “You little shit.”

“So you’ll miss me,” Sam used the same drawl Gabriel had, parroting the words back with a heated gaze.

For a second, it looked as though he was about to tackle Sam to the bed, but those were only hopes and dreams.  Of course, Gabriel gathered himself with a deep breath, even though he was very obviously turned on.  His eyes fell hungrily upon Sam, while he chewed his swollen lips.  Gabriel had to physically shake himself off and groaned dramatically before he shoved Sam’s shoulder and ordered, “Go back to sleep, skank.”

With a triumph of his own, Sam allowed himself to fall back onto the pillow and reminded him, “Your skank,” as he watched Gabriel retreat.

“Yeah, yeah.” He lingered in the doorway and tilted his head. “Oh, the things I’m gonna do to you.  You have no idea what you’re in for.”  The last part had a sing-song quality that echoed down the hallway as he left.

While Sam laid in bed and closed his eyes again, he thought to himself I can only dream.

-----------------------------

Gabriel would be lying if he said he wasn’t mildly distracted all day Saturday with thoughts of a certain someone running through his head.  Jo called him out on it, of course, because even though it didn’t affect his patient check-ups and his work-work, it affected his paperwork.  He kept getting distracted and zoning out thinking of other things.

Like how badly he wanted to jump Sam’s bones last night.

He only had a mild headache which had been easily remedied by grabbing a couple ibuprofen at home, but he wondered if he’d taken it too far?  Or not far enough?

This was something new, something different.  He hadn’t had much experience with actual relationships outside of high school, and it wasn’t so much that he didn’t know what he was doing - scratch that.  He didn’t.  His adult life had centered around getting laid, not finding "the one."  Apparently, things had taken a turn in the form of a possible relationship with a... partner.  And such a ready and willing partner.  Ready, willing, sexy, mouthy-

Dammit.  This was why he kept getting distracted!  But he had explained his reasoning last night, which Sam seemed to get.  But that begged the question of whether or not he truly understood and if they could stay the course and prevent his worst projection from happening.  Then... What could they add in their relationship that Gabriel had previously been holding back on?  And when?  It was all so confusing.

But before he could make these moves, before he felt like he was actually betraying the kid (which he totally wasn’t, in any way, shape, or form), he still needed to figure out who fake-Cas was.  And he wasn’t getting a lot to work with because it seemed like “Cameron” was backing away just as much as he was.

Which was strange because up until now, there had been obvious flirting and playful conversations... So why had he changed his tune just like that?

The second Gabriel left work, he opened the app just to leave it there in case the dude got online.  He needed to get this out of the way and figure it out ASAP.  

He didn’t want to hide anything from Sam and the fact that he had Tinder in the first place would make any potential boyfriend freak out... and for a damn good reason.  Even if he explained what he was doing, that would make him look like a giant fucking asshole and Sam would probably question why the hell he was with someone who catfished other assholes in his free time.  Oh, and apparently had his fucking picture, to boot?

Yeah, this case needed to be closed...and fast.

He’d texted with Sam on and off during the day and the kid had been a little cocktease - like he’d expected anything less.  He kept reminding Gabriel of his “favorite parts” of their night together.  Well, he couldn’t be completely at fault.  Gabriel goaded him on and didn’t hold back on his end either.  This build of sexual tension probably wasn’t the best idea, but he couldn’t help himself.

It was just past midnight when he’d finished his shower and came out to find his phone lit up with messages from a certain someone.  He snagged the phone and read through them quickly.

Cameron 11:45pm
Hey how’s it going
Are you there?

The most recent one had been sent a few minutes ago, and Gabriel got to typing.

Rich 12:03am
Sorry just got out of the shower forgot I left the app open
You still there?

Cameron 12:04am
Yep what are you doing up so late?

Rich 12:05am
Just finished my shift this is actually early
Gotta love the ones where I’m getting done when the sun rises
I’m like a friggin vampire

Cameron 12:07am
Do you sparkle? : )

Rich 12:09am
Hell no get your mind out of the gutter
Gross that’s sacrilege
Less Twilight more True Blood

Cameron 12:13am
So you’ve got southern charm and a thing for fairies?

Rich 12:13am
Exactly.  Much better.
Are you fae?

Cameron 12:15am
Never been called fae before
Other creatures, yeah

Rich 12:17am
Not a werewolf, I hope
Fleabags as far as I’m concerned

Cameron 12:18am
Nah, but of the forest variety

Rich 12:19am
Are we playing a guessing game?
I never took a class on mystical creatures
My bro took one on mythology though
Can I phone a friend?

Cameron 12:24am
LOL no it’s okay we’ll skip the lore
I’d win anyways, I took a mythology class too ; )

Interesting.  What if this student knew Cas?  What if that’s how he got his picture?  Although, when he had initially told Cas about someone using his photo and pretending to be him, it didn’t really get a rise out of his brother.  But this was new information.  Maybe he could bring this to Cas’ attention and see if anyone stuck out…

Rich 12:27am
Does that even count as a gen ed?
Or was it just for fun-sies?

Cameron 12:29am
I’m not even gonna repeat that
But it was the second
I’ve always thought that kind of stuff was interesting

Rich 12:32am
I’ve always liked Norse Mythology myself
Loki, the trickster god?  Kinda my childhood idol

Cameron 12:33am
I can actually see that
Kind of strange, but it makes sense

Rich 12:35am
Hey!  I like the be original
Next thing ur gonna tell me if you looked up to Batman

Cameron 12:37am
Well I did try to jump off a roof when I was a kid
Learned the hard way I couldn’t fly
The medical staff and the hospital bill drove the point home

Rich 12:39am
Hahahahahaha I soooo called that!

Wait.  Why was Gabriel just chatting it up with this dude?  It had nothing to do with his previous “get to the bottom of this” plan. They were just…talking.  Like they’d always been doing...  And he was enjoying himself.  Maybe too much.  Fuck. This wasn’t good.  His previous attraction to this nameless, faceless person on the other end was rearing its ugly head and he needed to shut this the fuck down.

What was he doing?!

Rich 12:41am
Have any fun weekend plans?

Maybe, just maybe, if he did, he could scope it out.  While Gabriel had planned to catch up on his sleep and veg before his next shift, if it worked out, maybe he could casually drop by, with Cas in tow, and see if he spotted anyone who looked familiar.  Someone who had been in a class with him before.

Cameron 12:42am
Studying.  Like usual.

That didn’t work.  Fuck.

Rich 12:43am
Well, it’s getting late we should both go to bed
Have a good night

And then he abruptly signed off before anything else could be said.

Now he felt unsettled.  Extremely unsettled.  That conversation had the completely opposite effects he’d hoped it would and now the guilt had increased exponentially.

All right, he needed to avoid this, put this on hold for a little while until he could be completely analytical about the situation.  He needed to talk to his brother, see if any names or ideas popped up because he was feeling like a major, Grade-A jackass.

Gabriel was half tempted to send Sam a goodnight text, like that would solve all his problems, but he didn’t want to risk waking the kid up.  He was probably fast asleep since it was coming up on one and all he’d be doing was trying to quell his guilty conscious.

He’d talk to Cas tomorrow.  Okay, yeah.  Sleep now, bro time tomorrow.

He huffed a sigh and made a turn for his bedroom because it was the only thing he could do.

--------------------------

Castiel was hunched over his computer, his fingers flying over the keyboard in an attempt to finish his paper and soon as possible.  After all, he had a date tonight and the quicker he finished it, the quicker he’d be able to get to Dean’s.  Except his phone was vibrating and when he looked towards it, not only did he have a text from Gabriel, he saw Sam was calling.

This meant nothing good.

He sighed heavily before he picked up the phone and greeted with his typical, “Hello, Sam.  How are you?”

“I, um.  I’m doing all right.  How are you?  Haven’t chatted in a while.”  His voice sounded a little nervous and Cas’ mind ran wild with different implications.

“I'm aware. You missed the study session and class.” Cas frowned and added, “Are you all right?  You sound stressed.”

“Oh, I’m not really stressed, per se.  Maybe a little.  Okay, I’ll start at the beginning...”  Sam took a deep breath on the other line.  “So I don’t know if it was your whole plan or not, so I don’t know if you’re gonna be mad about it or not…”

“What would I have to be mad about?” Cas asked innocently, though he already knew exactly where this was going.

“So after we went and visited your brother, when Gabe dropped me off, we, uh, really hit it off and exchanged numbers.  We’ve been texting a lot, we’ve gone out on a date, and we’re kind of together, I think you could say.  I mean, we’re taking things slow, but I’m really into him,” Sam sounded so wistful and Cas could see the smile on his face.

So he stressed the fact, “This is good news.  I’m happy for you, Sam.  I’m not bothered by it at all.  While my brother can be annoying, I wish nothing but best for him and I believe you two are a good fit.  Although... I can’t see Gabriel taking anything slow...” Cas was mostly speaking to himself when he said the last sentence.

“Yeah,” Sam snorted, “I think it’s because he’s taking it seriously.  Which is a good sign, right?”

“It’s a great sign, actually,” he confirmed.  Cas honestly had never heard of Gabriel taking anything seriously, let alone a relationship.

He must really value this, and Sam, to be handling the situation as such.

“Good, good.”  It seemed to ease him, but then his nerves kicked in when he said, “But Cas…I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.  With the whole Tinder thing.  I feel like I’m doing something wrong, but all I’m doing is trying to figure out who’s me.  Because if they keep it up, it’s gonna look bad on me, you know?  But…”

“But what?” Cas noticed Sam was running out of steam.  He sounded a bit helpless rather than frustrated, which was disconcerting.

“It’s stupid.  I set out to take him down, you know?  But I like talking to him... Which is extremely stupid.  Like, dumb-ass-of-the-year, stupid.  I just want to figure out who it is and get it over with, but at the same time…”

“You don’t want communications to cease.”  He put Sam out of his misery and finished it for him.  “I can see your problem.”

Now, there was a conflicting battle Castiel was facing.  Should he go ahead and tell Sam that it’s been Gabriel this entire time?  Or should he let the two sort things out?  They were bound to figure it out sooner or later.  He just hated how distressed Sam sounded.  It made sense that he liked talking to ‘Rich’ since he was actually talking to his maybe-boyfriend under a different guise.

“I feel like you’ll figure out who he is soon,” Cas finally settled on.

He reached his decision based on the fact that Gabriel was trying to get a hold of him, too.  Maybe his brother had figured it out and was looking for a way to tell Sam.  Maybe it would resolve by itself and he wouldn’t need to step in.

“But what happens when I do?”  Sam’s voice was even smaller this time.  “Is that just…it?”

“You’ll have your closure.  I think that’s what you need more than anything.”  Castiel tried to sound as confident as he possibly could because he needed Sam to stay strong.  “Perhaps the drama of it has gotten to you.  Anyone can make themselves sound appealing through words.  You have to remember that this is an identify thief.”

“You know what?”  Sam’s voice sounded.. sharper, but in angry way.  “You’re right.  This fucker’s probably ruined my image for a lot of people.  Hell, there are probably a lot of people around campus who think I’m a shameless flirt who refuses to meet up with them.  I bet he’s made a bunch of people actually hate me.

Oh no.

This wasn’t the way Cas had wanted this to go.  

He didn’t want Sam to feel rage, of all things, towards Gabriel.  He wanted to build Sam up and give him a sense of control over the situation, not what he was feeling right now.

“No, Sam, I didn’t mean-”

“Thanks, Cas.  I wasn’t thinking. I was being lead on like the others.  You’re totally right about this dickbag.  I’ve got this.  Ah, I needed that. Thanks, man! I’ve gotta go. Have fun on your date!”

“Sam-!”

Shit.  He’d already hung up.

Cas stared at phone a second. What if he’d just caused a massive future problem when Sam found out?  Would he take these feelings out on Gabriel?  If he knew his friend and how Sam held his grudges.. He most definitely would.  

….That had not gone as planned.

When he looked back to his phone, all Gabriel’s message said was “Call me.” There was no terms of endearment tagged on, just the two words.  Which didn’t hold anything good.  Shit.  

He was never going to get to Dean’s at this rate.  

But he’d been the one to set them up, so if he had to be the middle man, it was basically his own fault.

Castiel clicked the call button and waited.

“Hey!”  Gabriel answered and sounded rushed, “You just barely caught me!  Good.”

“I’m assuming you need something?”

“Well, aren’t you in a bitchy mood,” he said blandly rather than his normal teasing, “Sorry, did I catch you at a bad time?”

“No.” Cas tried to take in a deep, calming breath. “I’m just tense from.. school work.  How can I help you?”

“All right, so I’ve got a hit on the kid using your face.  Maybe.  Possibly .  It’s a long shot, but I’m thinking it’s gotta be someone you know, right?  Because he’s got pictures of you.  All your social media’s private, so he couldn’t get ‘em unless he’s a friend.  So last night, we were talking and apparently he took a Mythology class and I know you took that one, too.  Did you meet anyone in that class who got to be your friend?  Maybe that’s how you connected, or something?  Like, you added each other on Facebook after meeting?  He said he was studying to be an OBGYN, but I’m still a little iffy on that one, so don’t sweat that detail.  Like I said, long shot, but I need to close the case,” Gabriel was speaking a mile a minute, “I feel like I’m fuckin’ cheating on Sam or some bullshit.  Oh yeah, Sam and I are kind of together.  Did I mention that?  Should have mentioned that...”

“I…” He had to take a moment to process all the information Gabriel had just word-vomited because, of fucking course, his brother was still completely in the dark.

Castiel would never have gotten lucky enough for this to be wrapped up by now.

However, Gabriel was one-up on Sam and at least he had a lead.  Because Sam had, indeed, convinced Castiel to take that class with him and he hadn’t made any friends in that course, so…

He cleared his throat and told his brother, “The only person I knew in that class was Sam, actually."

Maybe that would get the wheels turning.  It wasn’t a point-blank giveaway, but it was some kind of hint he could drop and Cas had added a decent amount of emphasis on his name…

“Well, that doesn’t do jack shit to help me out at all!  Fuck.  Back to the drawing board.”

Cas held the phone away while he slammed his head down on the table.

“Hey!  Cas?  Ya there?”  He heard being shouted from the receiver.

Reluctantly, he brought it back to his ear and asked curiously, “Why does it feel like you’re cheating on Sam?” He wanted to know if it was for the same reasons.

“Uh…” Gabriel’s silence was proof enough.

“Are you flirting with him?” Cas was done beating around the bush.  “Gabriel.”

“Not really!  I mean, only as much as he is...and he's flirty...ish.  It’s not like it’s dirty sexting!  It’s just... It is what it is.  And I want it to be done.  You really have no leads?”  His voice was pleading and Cas groaned at how stupid this all was.

“I told you what I know about the class.”  That was the truth.  Then he decided to take another angle.  “Why don’t you just ask him outright?”

“Gee, I wonder.  What’s the quickest way to make a liar run away?”  He drawled in annoyance, “I know!  Catch them in their lie!  Wow, what a fabulous idea, Cassie!”

“Gabriel, I have a paper to write.  And you need to get your shit together, so I suggest you do that sometime in the near future.”

This time, it was Cas who hung up because he didn’t want to deal with it anymore.

The two were idiots.  

The irony was almost vomit-inducing because of how much they liked each other, whether they knew it was one another or not.  

Absolute ludicrous.  

While Cas had previously felt bad for them, now he didn’t feel an ounce of remorse about letting them chase their tails because of their own stupidity.  They could carry on like this until the end of the world, and he wouldn’t give a damn.

Besides, Castiel had a paper to write. He glared at his laptop and the unfinished work that laid before him.  Goddammit.  All he wanted to do was get this over with and see Dean.  Like he’d been attempting all afternoon.  He turned his phone on Do Not Disturb just so he wouldn’t even be aware if the fools called again.  He had a mission and had an important goal to achieve.  He wouldn't participate in this lunacy anymore.

Chapter Text




Even though Dean had offered to come and pick Castiel up, the man had insisted it was no problem for him to take the bus since he wasn’t sure what time he’d finish his school work.  He didn’t want to put stress on Dean having to be on waiting duty at the drop of a hat.  While Dean didn’t mind in the least, he let Cas have his way as he wasted time at his house and the build of anticipation happened quicker than he thought.

Which was stupid.  He needed to calm himself down.

There was nothing to worry about.  He knew it logically.  This was just another Sunday night.  Take out and a movie.

Except, it wasn’t a brother-bonding night.  It was a date night.

With someone he was really, really, really starting to like.

He didn’t know how casual he should be.  He didn’t know what movie to rent so he may have already rented three.  Hell, earlier he'd been hovered over the Redbox kiosk for such a long time, he hadn't known a line had formed until some annoying soccer mom rudely had a "coughing fit" to get his attention.  When he turned to shoot her a dirty look, he realized it wasn't just her...she had a damn entourage.  Oops.

While he wasn’t planning on a movie marathon, he didn’t know what Cas was going to want to watch, so he picked random genres of new releases.  After all, he knew the man wasn’t big on pop culture so the chances of him seeing any of them were slim to none.  Plus, he needed to get out of there before Minivan Mother Dearest started throwing punches.

Although, in the back of his mind, he was hoping they wouldn’t really watch too much of the movie…

So what, if he kept thinking (possibly on repeat) of Cas’ dirty promises to him?  He was a red-blooded American dude and friggin Cas got him hot and bothered in ways no one else had before.  Hell, if Cas walked in, gave him those bedroom eyes, and told him to strip, it’d be game over.

No questions asked.  Fuck the movies.  Dean wanted Cas to fuck him.

Okay, so maybe that was where the anticipation was coming from.

Maybe that was also why Dean suggested a night in.  While he really had been having rough weeks at work, no lies there, he wanted a more intimate, one-on-one setting with Cas.  A time where they could just hang out and there wasn’t a public eye because on the night of “the reveal,” he had liked falling asleep with him and what followed the next morning.  Dean had enjoyed it just being the two of them.

Dean could always drop hints and see if there were things Cas wanted to go out and do and plan that for next time, but tonight he wanted it to be just them and them alone.

He actually jumped when he received the text.  The one that said Cas was hopping on the bus now.  And his excitement spiked exponentially.  That also meant he had to order food.  It was a little later than they’d initially planned and his stomach was growling so he was doubly-happy from this news.  Knowing the pizza place he always ordered from like the back of his hand, and how close Cas was from campus plus the bus system, Dean figured both would arrive right around the same time.

The DVDs were already laid out on the table, there was beer in the fridge, and Dean had completed the I’m-not-living-in-filth sweep of the house.  He was ready.  Even though his insides were churning a little and he felt like a friggin teenage girl, he was ready.

All right, he’d be more ready if he had a beer.

Which made him cut across towards the kitchen and throw open the refrigerator.  When he popped the cap off, he practically drank the whole thing upon opening, but it felt nice and familiar going down.  One little beer wasn’t going to hurt.  If it helped him chill the fuck out, that would be amazing.

He kept glancing at the clock and in no time, but what felt like the paradox of forever, there was a knock at the door.

Dean was lucky his front door had glass panels to see out of, because it would have been awkward to have launched with abandon and make out with the pizza guy.  Luckily, it was Cas who arrived first and he opened the door with a wide grin.

“Hello, Dean,” he greeted and kissed him without hesitation.

The level of comfort Cas already felt about them erased any of Dean’s concerns and soothed his nerves the moment their lips made contact.  He was just so...casual.  Confident.  Like this was something they had done a million times before and Dean found he enjoyed that idea.

“Heya.” He grinned and ducked out of the doorway to let the man in.  “Glad you found the place all right.”

With a snort, Cas pulled off his coat and toed off his shoes, explaining, “My phone’s GPS has yet to lead me astray.  In addition, your directions were extremely detailed and it’s very hard to miss your car in the driveway.”

“Touché.”  Dean chuckled and watched as the man strolled right in and began looking around.  “You want the tour?”

“Of course.”  Before they could get very far, even though all Castiel could see was the living room and the side of the dining room, he commented, “You have a very lovely home.”

“You haven’t even seen it yet.”  Dean slung an arm around the man and began leading him that way, taking advantage of the way Cas never questioned personal space and was taking in the house with eager eyes.

Dean showed him the lower level, which was all the necessities of a house along with a back patio, small yard, and a grill that he boasted was his wingman for cooking the best burgers you’d ever taste.  Then upstairs was where he had his own little studio slash office, half bathroom, two guest rooms, and the master bedroom with adjoining bathroom in addition to a jacuzzi he was quite fond of.

During the tour, Cas showed interest in many of the rooms, but nothing quite like the master bedroom and, strangely enough, his studio.  In fact, he lingered outside that room the longest, looking at some drawings and random pictures Dean had posted up on a tack board.  Dean actually had to tug him away from the damn thing.

He tried to keep it light, teased him with a, “You like what you see?” just to cover his embarrassment because no one really saw his drafts or his personal projects.

“Mm,” Cas confirmed with a hum, “I’ll say it again, you have a very lovely home.  It feels like you.  I can’t quite describe it correctly, it's something in the details, perhaps.”

“Well, I designed most of it, so there’s that,” Dean admitted with a nonchalant shrug and it was then the doorbell rang.  While there was a surprised expression and words on the tip of Cas’ tongue, Dean now had an escape: “Pizza!”

He hurried down the stairs and grabbed his wallet on the side table to pull out the money, grinning at the boxes right outside the door.  His stomach was growling all over again as he paid and tipped the delivery guy and brought it back inside.

“So I got a couple of movies!  They’re right there on the table.  Pick one and we’ll pop it in.  I’ll go grab some plates.”  Dean gestured to the DVDs as he set the piping hot boxes down and headed into the kitchen, calling over his shoulder, “You want a beer?”

“Yes, thank you,” Cas agreed as he deliberated between the titles and soon realized, “I don’t recognize any of these.”

“What?”  Dean gasped in fake-shock as he carried two bottles and paper plates back into the room.  “All right, let me read you some summaries and we’ll decide.”

With a very serious face, Cas took a seat on the couch and opened the box of bread sticks right away, “Please, read it as though you’re a narrator so I get the full effect.  For the sake of the summary, that is.  I believe I won't be able to make a proper decision otherwise.”

“You’re being sassy tonight,” he noted, and a bit more excitement unfurled inside him.

The nerves were gone.  He had to remember that his time with Cas was always fun and he didn’t know why he’d gotten worked up in the first place.  Dean snatched up a bread stick of his own and began munching as he scrolled through IMDB with his other.  He found the first movie, shot Cas a wink, the cleared his throat and dropped the pitch of his voice dramatically.

Cas was struggling to keep a straight face the entire time Dean read through the movie descriptions and lost the battle halfway through the second narration, so they decided to watch that one.

-------------------------

They’d managed to make it close to the end of the second movie, finished a few beers before Cas did it.  Dean was already relaxed and leaning against his shoulder from where Castiel had slung it over the back of the couch when his stubble brushed against Dean’s face and he whispered, “Are you enjoying this?”

For a moment, Dean wasn’t sure he heard the question right and intelligently answered back, “Whu-?”

“This movie.  Are you enjoying it?”  He repeated with the tinges of amusement in his tone while he grabbed Dean’s chin and forced his attention with, “Because I believe I would be enjoying you more.”

The words were deliberate and aimed with a very specific purpose that made Dean’s mouth dry.  Not to mention the beginnings of a fire were fanning in Cas’ eyes.  God, his body had turned against him and was already responding to such bare minimal words like a traitor and he had to tell his brain not to short-circuit.

Dean had to remember he was supposed to be the seducer.  He was good at it, but Cas...

...Cas was great.  Fuck.

He swallowed and hoped it wasn’t too obvious when he flashed a mischievous grin of his own and countered, “How would you be enjoying me, exactly?”

“I seem to recall a lovely space on the second floor during the tour that would give me perfect access to explore and worship your body.”  He tilted his head ever so slightly with his lips parted, before adding, “It’s something I would take immense enjoyment doing.”

Okay, that was where Dean’s brain completely fizzled out.

“Yeah, I guess that sounds better than finding out who the killer is, huh?”  He grappled for the remote he knew was on the table somewhere and turned the TV off without breaking eye contact.  “And since I am a great host, it’s my job to keep my guest entertained, huh?

There was still a sliver of light coming from the kitchen that illuminated Cas’ arched brow when he stated, “I hope you do not entertain all your guests as such.  Or else I’ll be forced to leave more marks.”

Dean was torn between laughing and moaning, so he settled on standing up and challenging, “C’mon, hotshot.  I thought you said there was a lovely space upstairs you’d rather be in.”

He had no doubt the man would take the challenge with zeal and Dean raced up the staircase with Castiel hot on his heels.  The second they passed the doorway, Cas grabbed his hips and forced him to stop in place just short of the mattress.  Instead, he took his time undressing Dean from behind, one item of clothing at a time.  

The room was chilly and Dean wanted nothing more than to spin around and crowd into Cas’ space, feeling the heat of his body, but the man did not allow it.  Instead, he shoved Dean to the bed, face down, and when he tried to look to the side to catch a glimpse of Cas, the man’s hand grabbed the back of his neck to hold him in place.

He couldn’t help but gasp, “Please tell me you’re naked,” because if he couldn’t see, that didn’t mean he couldn’t ask, right?

“Is that what you want?” Cas asked smugly, even though he knew the answer.

Dean tried his best not to be a smartass, but it was really difficult.  He knew it wouldn’t get him anywhere, especially because it looked like Cas was feeling extremely dominate tonight, so he had to play the game.

“Yes,” Dean finally figured out the acceptable words, “Wanna feel your skin against mine.”

He internally rejoiced when the hand pinning him down was removed and he heard the rustling of fabric.  He also rearranged himself quickly and clumsily because he wanted to watch, dammit, and when their eyes met, Cas seemed to have anticipated it.  

In fact, he flaunted every reveal as he peeled away the layers, Dean’s eyes soaking in every inch of lean muscled skin that was exposed until he was left in his boxers.  The outline of his thick cock was straining against the fabric and Cas’ thumb hooked along the elastic waistband, watching Dean’s gaze follow with laser-sharp precision, before he decided to leave them on.  Just to friggin torture him, Cas released the band and let it snap against the sharp cut of his hip bones, wearing a knowing smile.

Dean whined mournfully, then tried a different angle: “C’mon.  Join the naked party.  It’s awesome, I promise.”

“Soon,” he whispered the assurance as he moved towards him like a predator, like he had Dean right where he wanted him.

Because he did.

Castiel draped himself over the man from behind, letting him feel his body heat as he caught Dean’s earlobe in his mouth right before he spread kisses down his throat.  His hands clutched Dean’s shoulders before he raked his nails down his shoulder blades, mouthing the knobs of his spine.  

It was unbearably slow, the way Cas gripped his sides, holding him in place so he couldn’t move or grind down into the bed.  He made it hellish, plain and simple, especially when his hands massaged around to Dean’s stomach and his fingers were just within reach of his throbbing erection.

He even had the guts to sweep one finger along Dean’s length before he continued his trek downward and roughly squeezed his thighs, right under his ass.  His thumbs circled the muscles in an outward motion, just enough to barely spread his cheeks.  Castiel swept his hands down the expanse of his limbs before he reversed his ministrations and moved back up.

Dean was shuddering in anticipation during the moment Cas let go of him altogether because he had no idea where the next point of contact would be.  He almost jumped when Can manhandled him up to his knees one second and had handfuls of his ass cheeks, pulling them apart and wide open the next.  Dean swallowed hard, feeling so goddamn exposed, when he felt the other man’s breath right over his hole.

The pillow was the only thing he could grab onto.  He need something to keep him grounded.  Nothing had been over-the-top sexual until now, but he could feel the precum dripping from his own pulsing cock...and no matter how much he wanted to wrap his hand around it, he knew Cas wouldn’t allow that.

“You’re being so well behaved, Dean,” his comment was meant to sound offhand, but undeniable lust was breaking through and boy, was that good news.

“Then why does this suck so bad?”  Dean couldn’t help but grumble because he never could hold back his snippy comments, especially now, when he felt like he was about to die because his dick was going to explode.

“So impatient...” Cas flicked his tongue over Dean’s hole and the man’s entire body shook.  “Mm, and so sensitive.”

He wouldn’t give him the benefit.  He had to bury his face into the pillow or else he would have snapped something awful.  And if Cas wanted him to behave?  That meant he kept his trap shut from now on.  Because nothing he said right now would be anything nice or obeying whatever rules Cas was setting for tonight.  Nope, if it wasn't for this pillow, Dean would be mouthy and demanding because he was full of so much want it was unbelievable.

However, it just set Castiel off more because he loved a challenge and now he was going to make Dean scream.

He clenched more firmly and spread him even further before he swirled his tongue around Dean’s hole, loving the way it made the other man gasp into the pillow.  Little by little, he dipped his tongue in, getting Dean sloppy and wet with his saliva and making him weak in the knees from the easy glide.  The further his tongue plunged inside him, the louder Dean moaned, unable to control the noises he was making.  Cas had to pull him upright again because he was sinking back down to the bed.

That just wouldn’t do for what he had planned.

Dean cursed out when he felt Cas’ entire tongue inside him, licking him hungrily and it was fucking amazing.  He’d never let anyone do this before, but he hadn’t bat an eye when Cas started.  Jesus, he knew what he was doing with that mouth... Dean was almost positive that he could get off from Cas just fucking him with his tongue.

Why did he always let go so easily with him?

He yelped in surprise when Cas exchanged his mouth for twisting two fingers inside him.  Dean was so wet from getting eaten out that they just pushed past his rim with hardly any resistance at all.  There was a chuckle from behind him and Dean dared to look back and see the devilish grin on Cas’ face, watching him.

The moment their eyes met, he couldn’t help but taunt Dean with, “You look beautiful from this angle.”  Then he raised to his haunches and leaned forward so he was closer to Dean’s ear when he whispered, “Are you going to be nice and tight for me?” while he dragged a third finger in the mess between Dean’s legs and began to press it inside him.

For a moment, looking into Cas’ eyes was too much.  It was too intense and he tried to squeeze his eyes shut and turn away, only to get a fist wrapped in his hair with the demand, “I want to watch you,” given with darkened pupils.

So Dean bit his lips to try to muffle the noise threatening to escape his throat as Cas began fucking in and out of him with three fingers.  Cas grinned, absolutely enthralled by the power he held over Dean, and it only grew wider when he finally broke and breathlessly gasped when Cas’ fingers brushed his prostate.

That was when Dean gave in completely and started rocking back onto his fingers, encouraging, “Yeah, Cas, right there-”

If Cas looked predatory before, he looked downright feral as he released the grasp of Dean’s hair and continued to curl his fingers and hit that bundle of nerves.  Dean fell face-first back to the bed with no grace whatsoever and sat back with every upward thrust of Cas’ fingers before they were pulled away.  Although it sucked in the moment, God, he was on a hair-trigger, he knew this was good because it was leading up to the main event.

His body was thrumming and he was almost delirious for it.

Cas easily moved Dean around like a rag doll one more time until he was on his back with Cas looming over him.  

He missed the feel of Dean’s lips on his, so Cas kissed him hard and then whispered in his ear, “I’ll have to go dig through my coat unless you’re already prepared in here.”

“Bedside table.  Drawer,” Dean answered immediately.

He hadn’t wanted to take the chance again and he knew (or hoped he knew) what he was getting himself into tonight when he invited Cas over.  So hell yeah, he was prepared.

Cas had a satisfied look on his face as he leaned over Dean and pulled open the drawer.  He tore off one of the condoms and grabbed the new bottle of lube that Dean had already taken the seal off (neither of them wanted to be bothered by that crap in the throes of passion, obviously) and settled between Dean’s legs.

Finally, Cas had to pull of his boxers and when he did, Dean was practically drooling as he stared at his cock.  It made him wonder if Cas should have used another finger, but he wanted him tight, right?  

Their eyes met as Cas ripped the foil open with his teeth then stated, “I want to watch you when I fuck you.”

Under normal circumstances, Dean may have shied away mostly because he was used to being on top, but the whole night, his whole experience with Cas, had been for the record books, so why not?  He didn’t hide it when he watched Cas roll the condom down his thick, swollen cock or when he coated it with lube.  Dean even moaned at the sight of the man crawling over top of him and getting ready to line up with his stretched hole.

Except, right when the head of Cas’ dick brushed his opening, Cas whispered into his ear, “Admit it, Dean.  Tell me you need me to take care of you.”

The man did a double-take and looked up at Castiel with incredulous eyes, “What?”

He knew this was already a hot topic... Was he really trying to push this when all Dean wanted was his cock right the fuck now?

“You love it,” Cas continued as he sucked on Dean’s collarbone, “when I take control.  When you give me the power.  So I’m not doing anything until you admit it to yourself.  Just say the words and I’ll fuck you until you see stars.”

With narrowed eyes, Dean ground his teeth, completely baffled that he was being given this ultimatum.  Cas was just lingering above him, letting his slick cock slide between Dean's legs but not pushing in.  He had half a mind to shove the man down and ride him himself.  He knew there was no way Castiel would let that happen but...

Fuck. Maybe he was right...

But could he say it?

Dean’s fucking pride was a rock wall, but Cas’ current sweet kisses randomly placed along the column of his neck and the promise of sex were-

Screw it.

“Fine.”  Dean huffed dramatically and hissed out, “I…need you,” Cas watched him closely with a raised eyebrow, nodding for him to continue, “to take care of me.”

His features bloomed into an impish smirk as he announced, “I know,” and drew the word out as he pushed inside Dean’s tight hole.

Next to no warning ripped a long moan from the man.  His arms flew out to grab Cas because the stretch was overwhelming in the best fucking way.  When he bottomed out, their lips collided again.  Dean was left panting, fighting to gather himself, but Cas didn’t take the time to wait.

Instead, he sighed heavily, a mix of relief and sheer pleasure, pulled out, and started setting a steady speed of fucking in and out of him.  Dean was reeling and trying to keep up because as slow as the foreplay was?  This was a different breed of animal in Cas.

He had Dean right where he wanted him as his thrusts began shallow, never reaching quite as deep as that initial plunge in.  And it was maddening.  Dean worked his hips, trying to meet the movement of Cas’, but he immediately pushed Dean down and into the mattress with brute strength.  Still struggling with his breaths, he shot the man on top of him a glare and received a knowing glance in return, fucking the words out of his mouth with one deep snap of his hips before he returned to his previous, shallow pace.

Then he had the guts to ask, “Is there something you want, Dean?”

He was taunting him, playing with him and Dean’s arms shot out to grab him but Cas easily dodged.  “Y-you asshole,” he managed to growl out, “C’mon... Fuck me like you mean it!”

“I do mean it.” He tilted his head to the side, watching Dean’s frustration mount with great amusement, “but what does it mean to you?”

Dean knew he was completely at mercy.  He knew Cas wanted him to beg for it.  This was overwhelming, but at the same time, not enough.  He was slowly going insane because of how bad he wanted him.  He wanted all of him and there was only one way he was going to get it.

“Harder,” Dean barked, “Deeper.  Stop being all talk and give it to me, already!”

The delight dancing over his features should have been a warning.  It should have prepared Dean, but he didn’t see it until Cas hauled his legs over his shoulders and nodded, “As you wish,” folding Dean in half.

And then he didn’t hold back.

Each snap of his hips punched the air from Dean’s lungs, fucking into him deeper than he’d ever felt in his whole goddamn life.  Cas moved with a purpose, shifting Dean’s pelvis with each violent plunge until the man cried out.  As if Dean couldn’t hold it together before, once that thick cock brushed his prostate, he was ready to break into pieces now.

Cas’ nails were digging into him, holding him in place, while he kept fucking him closer and closer to release.  It was carnal and violent.  He would have thought Cas was just using his body if he hadn’t been so steadfast in his mission to get Dean off, to make him fall apart, to make him beg.  But Dean had begged.  He’d asked for this and the build-up, the roughness, all of it had him blowing his load over both their bodies without even touching his cock.

There was a wild grin on Cas’ face when Dean opened his eyes and that’s when Cas ducked forward and kissed him hard.  He was so fucking dizzy and the way Cas was kissing him prolonged the warm buzzing through his veins.  He didn’t know if it was the lack of oxygen or something else.

But then, Cas was moaning against his mouth, his own orgasm rushing through his body.  He pulled away just enough for his teeth to clamp down on Dean’s shoulder.  His hips kept rocking until they slowed to a stop.  He incrementally lifted his head and pulled out of Dean’s thoroughly used hole, much more gingerly, and tied off the condom.

Wordlessly, Cas stood up, found a trash can before he returned, and moved with care when he kissed Dean’s forehead, inquiring, “Shall I get some wash cloths?”

“Wet wipes.” Dean smacked his hand against the night stand and was alarmed with how hoarse his voice was before clearing it.

“Ah,” Cas acknowledged and pulled them out. “Very convenient.”

He didn’t just hand a wad to Dean.  Instead, he very deliberately cleaned the mess on both of them himself and then tossed the wipes into the same trash can he’d located before.  The words “let me take care of you” circled in Dean’s head and while he’d deny it if asked again, he didn’t really mind letting Cas have his way.  He was extremely exhausted and knew the number Cas did on his body was something he’d be feeling tomorrow.  Hell, he could feel it right now.  Al-fucking-ready.

When Castiel laid back down, it was on his side and he pulled Dean towards him and hummed into a very sweet and oddly chaste kiss.  It was a come-down from such an adrenaline rush that Dean returned it in the very same way.  He didn’t even mind the way Cas continued to caress him like he was something special.

Cas was the one who pulled away and kissed his forehead, asking innocently, “Did you enjoy yourself?”

Which Dean answered with a scoff and a laugh, opening his eyes to see surprisingly sincere ones looking back at him.  “I thought that was pretty obvious.”

“I'm glad.”  That glimmer was still there as Cas carefully tugged and rearranged Dean up onto his own chest, then tangled their legs together.  “I’ve already set our alarms.”

“Oh yeah?”  Dean asked with a light teasing in his voice, resting in the crook of Cas' shoulder.  “You’re prepared for anything.”

“I figured we wouldn’t want to move afterwards.”  It was so candid, but so true.

Dean bit his lips and decided to say, “Thanks, Cas.”

But he didn’t just mean it in regards to setting their alarms.  There was a much deeper meaning behind the words and the other man seemed to pick it up right away, if the tone of his voice was anything to go by.

“You’re welcome, Dean.  Goodnight.”  Cas finished it with a lingering kiss on his forehead where the sweat was drying, then relaxed back against the pillows.

There was something so freeing, so easy about just being here, being like this together.  Dean could get used to it.  He couldn’t remember the last time he fell asleep with a smile on his face, but he knew for damn sure he didn’t want it to be the last time.

-------------------------

Charlie slammed the door and Dean jerked up so quickly he nearly fell out of his chair.  He had a mouthful of noodles hanging from his now-slackened jaw and his friend was staring him down with her hands on her hips and a face fixed into that of determination.

“Whu-” he tried to get out, half the pasta falling back into the Tupperware container and he grappled out for his napkin.

“C’mon, Winchester!”  She clapped her hands together, like she was a drill Sergeant telling him to get a move on.  “What’s going on?  I haven’t seen you like this the entire time I’ve known you!  You’ve gotta give me something to work with!”

For once, Dean tried to ”use good manners and chew his food,” if only to put off the inevitable.  She narrowed her eyes and saw right through it.  So she hovered.  As though she was watching road kill like a goddamn buzzard.

Dean swallowed and awkwardly decided to go with, “Seen me like what?”

“It’s like you got back from a yoga retreat!  Like your cleansed!  Like-” she waved her hands in the air, searching for the words, “Like the devil’s been scared out of you!”  Charlie helped herself to the edge of Dean’s desk and leaned forward.  “Are you on drugs?  You poppin’ downers on the job?  Because right around a month ago, if Zachariah was walking through here, I could see your back arch up like an angry cat.  These days?  Nada.”

He raised an eyebrow and blandly asked, “And you think I’m on drugs?  You don’t think I’m, oh, just a well-adjusted human being?”

“No,” Charlie slapped her hand against the desk, “I think something’s new in your life and as your BFF, I’m on a need-to-know basis!”  She brought out her puppy-dog eyes that even rivaled Sam’s.  “C’mon.  What’s going on?”

Dean tried to figure out the best way to get her the fuck off his back without revealing too much.  In actuality, he didn’t want to jinx a good thing right now.  A fucking great thing.  Hell, one of the best things that had happened to him in a long time that was still going strong... and he thought even breathing a word about it would-

“Oh, snap!” Charlie suddenly announced, beaming like a goddamn lighthouse - not even a light bulb.  “You’ve got heart-eyes!  Serious, real-life heart eyes!  Oh em gee!  Who is it?! Is it the-”

“Charlie-” his voice was a low warning growl.  “Sex!  That’s what it is.  Finally getting laid and it’s taken the edge off, ya happy?”

She was wearing a knowing smile and shook her head.  “Whatever, you can’t fool me.  Was it the cute dinner date that solidified things?  I know you don’t have time for the bar scene.  Work’s totes been cutting into even my time and initiative and that’s saying something!”

“Yeah, fine, is that what you want to hear?”  He jammed another twirl of spaghetti into his mouth again, knowing she had more to say anyway.  She always did.

“Wow.  So this is a thing?”  Charlie mused aloud and crossed her arms, appraising him.  “Well, I already verified him a Grade-A hottie and if you’ve stuck with him for a couple weeks, there’s more to him than just that.  But the thing that I’m liking is the effect he’s got on you.  That right there is something special.”

Dean continued to chew, this time obnoxiously and with his mouth opened, but he thought about her words because... Maybe it was true.  After nights with Cas, he felt almost - did he want to say revitalized?- when he came back to work.  And the thought of seeing Cas always made getting through the day easier.  Like he was the light at the end of the tunnel.

Things between them were so easy, Cas just understood him in ways he didn’t even understand himself yet.  And Charlie was even seeing a difference.  Which was.. something.

That was why he couldn’t hold back when he asked with hesitation, “What kind of effect?”

She didn’t roll her eyes.  She didn’t laugh at him because that was the kind of person Charlie was.  She was a damn good friend and she never made people feel like less to make herself feel like more.

There wasn’t a note of a patronizing drawl when she noted, “Like I mentioned with Zachariah.  You used to be wound up so tight.  Or you’d sweat the small stuff.  Now it rolls off your back.  You don’t let it get you tied in knots.”  With a finger tapping on her chin, she thought aloud, “You still have the same work ethic and drive.  You just don’t freak out when you don’t need to.  Like, you used to care too much, the job meant more than you and your own well-being.  Now you care enough and you realize you matter, too.”

Dean stared at her openly because, yeah, he knew that sometimes he’d be an OCD control-freak, but he never thought work affected his personal well-being.  He sat with his brows scrunched and gave it second.  Some of the things Cas and he had talked about, Cas had told him, Cas had kind-of-maybe began to instill in him... Well, he could kind of see where that had come from.  Maybe.

“Hey.”  When he looked up, Charlie was right in his face looking determined. “It’s a good thing so I say keep it up.”

She drew away with a wink. “So when do I get to meet him?”

He scoffed and pushed her shoulder playfully. “When you stop interrupting my lunch breaks, how about that?”

“I’ll be on my best behavior from now on!” Charlie shimmied and added, “Send my love to your yoga instructor.”

“He is rather flexible,” Dean added suggestively with a cluck of his tongue, just to get Charlie going.

It was rewarded with a dramatic, “Ew!  Don’t need to know those deets, Winchester!” as she headed for the exit.

“Careful what you ask for, princess!”

"It's Queen, handmaiden!"

He cackled as she shot him her middle finger and slammed the door behind her.

Dean looked between his lunch, that was now cold thanks to Charlie’s nagging, and his phone.  He decided to snap the lid back on and throw it in his mini-fridge before he sent a text.  He still had fifteen minutes. It wouldn’t hurt to see if the man was around.

Dean 12:36pm
Just had an intervention from coworker about drug use

Cas 12:38pm
Should I be concerned?
Should I have been present at said intervention?

Dean 12:39pm
Apparently I’m such an uptight asshole and having you around has cooled my jets
you’re the only drug I need baby ;)

Cas 12:42pm
I’m unsure if I should feel happy I’m helped your morale
Or feel sorry for you and that terrible pick-up line

Dean 12:44pm
Hey!  I can use all the bad pickup lines I want cause I’ve already got you
Wanna hear some more?  I’m full of them

Cas 12:46pm
Please refrain from them
Or you’ll be refraining from being full of me

Dean 12:48pm
My pickup lines are so bad you’d withhold sex?!?!

Cas 12:50pm
They are decently terrible
But I won’t hold it against you
I’m quite impressed I’ve been confused with substance abuse though
That’s a lovely compliment

Dean 12:53pm
Only you, Cas, only you

Cas 12:55pm
I imagine your break is almost over
I hope you have a wonderful day
Are we still on for tomorrow?

Dean 12:55pm
If that means you’re on me ;)

Cas 12:56pm
……

Dean 12:56pm
Oh, come on!!  That wasn’t a pick-up line!

Dean 12:57pm
Yes, we’re still on for tomorrow
We are, right?
Where do you want to meet?

Dean 12:58pm
You’re being dramatic
That was an offer, not a pick-up line

Dean 12:59pm
Now you’re being a jerk
Because you know I have to go back to work and I hate leaving things open ended
You’re doing this on purpose

Dean 1:00pm
Dammit Cas!!

Chapter Text

As time passed, Dean and Cas got into a decent routine of seeing one another a couple days a week.  Sometimes, they even managed to pull an entire weekend to themselves.  Obviously Dean thought the sex was fantastic, but the way he was always able to let go with Cas seemed to help his entire goddamn life.

It was almost like therapy... Charlie noticed right away and she would send him these smug little smiles, but she didn’t bring it up again after their initial talk.  She knew she’d be met with even more resistance than last time.  She knew digging deeper wasn’t going to work and anything deeper?  Well, honestly, it was something Dean was having a hard time admitting to himself in the first place.

He wouldn’t say that it threatened his masculinity, it wasn’t like that, but he’d come to trust Cas with a part of himself that he’d never let anyone come close to.  Dean was invested in this.  If he could talk to himself a year ago, he’d be saying he was in way too deep.  Yeah, it had been a couple of months, but it felt like so much longer.  Maybe because they’d jump-started everything and dove in headfirst?

So was it too soon to say he was in love?  Maybe it was too soon to say it, but that didn’t mean that Dean didn’t already know it.

It was just...hard.

Both his brother and Cas had finished up law school and they were both studying their asses off to take the bar.  It left Dean with a little more alone time because of how much Cas was pouring himself into his studies.  It was then that doubt began niggling inside Dean’s brain.

Cas was a friggin genius.  Hell, Dean had known that before he even met the guy. Thanks to Sam singing his praises, he knew it even back when the man was just a name.  Who was to say that once he passed (because there was no doubt he’d knock it out of the park, first round) that he’d want to stay here?  He could go wherever the hell he wanted.  After all, why settle down in your college town?

Dean had worked tirelessly for his job here, his accountable nine to five, and there was no way he could leave it.  He’d been making his way up the ladder from the second he stepped foot into this business and he’d come leaps and bounds through hard work and countless hours of overtime.  Dean couldn’t start from the bottom again and the fact that he had actually considered it for a split-second scared the crap out of him.

Cas was still young.  Not, like, a friggin kid.  There wasn’t much of an age gap between them, but there was a different kind of gap.  A “where we are in life” gap.  Cas was just about to begin his career, where Dean had already established his, and now...he was starting to freak the fuck out.

The last thing he wanted to do was hold Cas back, but the other last thing he wanted to do was let him go.

Because he was just that goddamn selfish.

Hell, Cas could have been the best thing that ever happened to him.  Yeah, he was in love.  And he knew it, too, but he couldn’t say the words.  He didn’t want to make Cas feel guilty if/when he said, “Adios.”

When they were together, it felt like Cas wouldn’t dream of leaving.  The things he’d tell Dean were all-encompassing.  He said everything except the "L" word and Dean felt so fucking safe in that.  But the nights when he went to sleep alone were when the reality of it all kicked in.  It kicked him right in the balls and he had no idea how to bring it up... Or if he even should.  Because...

What if he cracked?

What if this was totally a “Well, it was nice while it lasted” thing for Cas?  Dean would be left fucking devastated.

Okay, he was officially freaking out.  Not good at all.

He was seeing Cas tomorrow for the first time in almost three days.  He and Sam were probably at each other's throats by now and although Dean would be game for Cas’ personal release, how was he going to handle the rest?  Would he blab everything that worried him?  Cas was too damn perceptive for his own good.  If he even for a split second felt like there was something wrong, his damn mind-reading skills would catch it and then his hardheadedness would get to the bottom of it, because he had made it his job to take care of Dean.  What was worse was that Dean had finally come to accept Cas' job, he'd maybe even started to rely on it.

What would Cas do if he found out he was the problem?

Dean didn’t even want to think about it.

He was finishing up some paperwork when he noticed he had a few unread texts from the man and was hesitant to read them because of all the fucking feelings they would inevitably drudge up.  But he couldn’t keep him hanging.

Luckily, all they were happened to be good night texts and excited-to-see-you-tomorrow’s.  He could deal with that.  Obviously, no matter the conditions, Dean wanted to be with him so it was easy to respond in turn.  He just hoped everything went all right.

------------------------

Gabriel had ended up altering his schedule to something more workable.  Something more human-friendly.  Although he’d cut down on hours, like a normal person, he still worked crazy shifts.  The thing that surprised him the most was that Sam was just crazy enough to deal with said shifts.  It brought great joy and amusement when Gabriel sent Sam his schedule.  And while their “dates” together were slim, they worked out a routine where Gabriel would come and climb in bed with him after work.

Although his days in cardio were dependable, they were long.  Sometimes so much so, that it was all Gabriel could do to just go home and crash.  They liked to see each other when Gabriel was refreshed on his days off.  Thankfully, he wasn’t working cardio all that much.  One of the ER doctors had just transferred so Gabriel had gone back to his second love.

Anytime he got out of ER before three, those were the nights he’d come snuggle in with Sam.  He’d given Gabriel a key because he’d grown was too comfortable with the way their bodies fit together when they slept.  Sometimes, Gabriel would just sneak in, wrap his arms around the kid and doze off.  Other times, he’d greet him with a kiss and it’d turn into a sleepy make-out until neither one could keep their eyes open.  The point was that it felt right.

Even though their dates were few and far between, they were always random adventures that brought them closer day by day.  They always talked, always called, and Gabriel was beginning to give Sam more leeway when it came to what happened in the bedroom.

Because it was working.  They were working.

Even though they still hadn’t connected the damn dots between “Rich” and “Cameron.”

That was a whole different mess.

The Tinder interactions were now...rare, but when they did happen, they were still at a stalemate.  However, the conversations lasted longer.  Much longer than they should have.  And while both men justified it individually, they still felt a lingering of guilt.  It was driving them crazy because they felt like they were no closer to finding out who the other person was, but they, as a pair of catfishers, were closer.  Ones who were enjoying one another's company even more with each passing chat.  Which wasn’t good.

It also led to both Sam and Gabriel to never letting their phones out of their sights, so that neither man could see that the other man had Tinder.  That would ruin everything.  

Everything they’d built... How far they’d come... all of it!  Over some stupid head games they were too stubborn to let go of, but it was in both their natures.  It was increasingly exasperating and a nervous kind of shame that lingered in their guts.

Even though the moment they were together, it didn't have to be face to face, because all it took was a thought: the feelings instantly dissipated.  "Rich" and "Cameron" no longer existed, not even a second, and it was just Gabriel and Sam.

One night, Gabriel hadn’t planned on coming over to Sam's after work, but the shift in the ER had been grueling.  

Grueling to the point where they lost the patient and he didn’t want to be alone.  He was quiet as he unlocked the door and tried to remain as soundless as possible.  He didn’t want to wake Sam.  Gabriel just needed to be with him.  He grounded Gabriel in this way he couldn’t describe.  Just being surrounded in Sam's body heat was enough to make this pit in his stomach go away.

It had been a long time since he’d lost a patient, and while it’d happened before, it never got easier.  Especially because they were fucking kids.  The boy had been twelve years old, walking home from his friend’s house just a little too late, and was hit by a drunk driver.  They’d done what they could to fix up the broken bones, but the hemorrhaging in his brain was too bad.  After he’d slipped into a coma, he was gone within the hour.  But, fuck, had they fought for him.

Yeah, Gabriel could have passed out quickly at home because the adrenaline crash had struck him hard, but he needed Sam.  Which was why he found himself in the man’s doorway, lethargically peeling off his jeans and his shirt.  Although he’d made his entrance with stealth, it was the rustling of fabric that had Sam stirring and turning towards him.

There was confusion in his voice when he called out quietly, “Gabe?  Is that you?”

He huffed, “Unless you’ve given your key to someone else, kiddo,” humorlessly.  God, he was having a hard time even pretending.

“Are you okay?”  Sam was sitting up in bed, words laced with concern as he reached out when Gabriel approached.  “I didn’t think you were coming tonight.”

“Hope I didn’t scare you.”  He took Sam’s outstretched hand and let himself be pulled into the bed.

But Sam hadn’t laid back down.  He was watching Gabriel curiously. “No, you didn’t.”  Sam kissed him on the forehead.  “But something’s wrong... I can tell.”

“Rough night,” he finally admitted.  “Just needed to see you.”

Gabriel wasn’t satisfied with the brief brush of lips on his forehead so he redirected them to his mouth.  He kissed Sam with meaning, very deliberately, because all he wanted to do was forget.  Gabriel wanted to get caught up in this, in the physicality of being close to his boyfriend, and get out of his shitty head space.

It took Sam a few seconds to reciprocate, but when he did, he wrapped his arms around Gabriel and tugged them both down to the bed.  He let Gabriel’s weight settle above him and surged upward against his hot, almost aggressive touch and matched it.  In no time, they were both breathless and nothing else existed outside of their roaming hands and frenzied lips.

Sam was moaning against him, rocking his boxer-clad hips against Gabriel’s stomach. The man hadn’t meant for it to go this far, but he couldn’t help it.  He was addicted to everything about Sam on a good day and apparently when he was in a bad place, he couldn’t do much but cling to him in a whole different way.

This was his safe place. This felt like home. This was home.

Sam didn’t ask questions or pry. He just left Gabriel be and made everything better.

Like always.

Sam always acclimated to any situation Gabriel threw at him.  He was the one who was truly making this work.  Anyone else would have gotten frustrated by Gabriel’s job and their situation, but it didn’t push Sam away at all.  Hell, he had put up with Gabe even though he technically hadn’t put out.

How did he get so lucky?  Sam was fucking perfect.

Before he even knew what he was doing, maybe it was because he was emotionally compromised and realized just how fragile life was, he was mouthing at Sam’s neck and blurting out, “I love you.”

Shit.

While Sam’s hips had stopped moving quite so aggressively, it was actually Gabriel who had froze in place.  His whole body went rigid because - what the fuck?  Why had he said that?  And now of all times?  He couldn’t come back from that.  There was no way to laugh that off or-

Sam’s hands moved from where they’d been clutching his back to cupping Gabriel’s face and bringing it up from buried in his neck to looking him in the eyes.  Gabriel didn’t make it easy, though.  Sam had to use a little bit of strength to pry him over and even then, it took him a while to meet his gaze.

But when Gabriel finally looked up, Sam was...smiling?

His heart fluttered at the sight and he gulped before he asked, “Uh, you’re not freaked out? Or...mad at me?” because that was what he’d been expecting.

With a shake of his head and a surprise kiss, Sam gushed out just as haphazardly as he had, “I love you,” then he added almost shyly, “I never knew how to say it,” and caressed Gabriel’s cheek.  “I thought it may be too soon.”

Gabriel tilted his head and with a breath of relief, he let his body go lax with a, “Would you look at that,” and then, in between kisses, muttered, “Now I don’t have to go jump off a building in embarrassment.”  He tenderly drew Sam’s earlobe into his mouth. “I was word-vomiting, but, damn...I’m glad I did.”

While Sam moaned at the contact, he asked, “You meant it, though.  Right?”

He hummed in confirmation, then corrected, “Mean it.  Not meant.  Jesus, I never thought you’d put up with me for this long, let alone…” he let the thought hang in the air while he kissed down Sam’s neck.

“I never thought I’d say this,” Sam’s voice took a turn that Gabriel didn’t like, but he understood when he said, “I want you so bad right now...  But I need to get up early.  And something tells me if we keep going, we’re not gonna stop for a while.”

Instead of being remotely offended, Gabriel perched back on top of him with a shit-eating grin on his face.  “Look at you being all responsible.  I never thought you’d say that either.”

Sam rolled his eyes and groaned, “It’s unfair.  I’m pissed I’m saying it, but...” He chewed on his already swollen lip.  “I’m really glad you showed up tonight.”

“Me, too.”  Nothing but relief was evident in Gabriel’s voice.  “Just...really needed to see you.”  He pressed a soft kissed against what he called “study-stubble” on Sam’s cheek before he rolled off him and tangled his limbs around him from the side.

Sam let out a disgruntled noise and complained, “And leave me with this hard-on?”  But he quickly added, “Will you come over?  Tomorrow?” in a hopeful voice, any fake-annoyance gone.

“Yeah, I think I can swing that.”  There was a huge smile that wasn’t leaving Gabriel’s face now.  “We should probably celebrate or something.”

“I think so, too.”  For as much as Sam whined, his voice was getting sleepy when he said, “G’night, Gabe.” And this time, he fearlessly added on, “I love you.”

The confidence was contagious and Gabriel had no problem or hesitation when he echoed, finally at ease, “I love you, too.”

-------------------

Castiel and Sam had decided with their study group to start first thing in the morning, signing out one of the conference rooms and getting it over with so they would have the entire weekend to relax.  They deserved it.  They were running themselves ragged in preparation and if they finished their set goals early, it would be for the best.  

Everyone was taking it seriously for a change, Meg had even gone out and gotten everyone a coffee beforehand, and Balthazar had brought a bag filled with an assortment of snacks.

Once they were going through the material, Cas couldn’t help but notice how Sam was not only more tired than usual but he seemed to be dazed and distracted.  Yet, oddly happy?  Castiel couldn’t put his finger on it, but Sam was a mishmash of half-concealed emotions and wasn’t quite on the ball or pulling his weight.  And for the first time, Ruby was on him.

“Dude, are you fuckin’ high or something?” She snapped when he didn’t respond to a question.  “You can light up after this. We’re all struggling with the morning session, but we’re here.  Where the hell are you?”

“I’m here.”  Sam jerked up at the table, his spine in a sharp, straight line.  “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“No, you’re not, douche. Come back to Earth.  Pay attention.” Ruby rolled her eyes.  “The sooner we finish this, the better.”

Castiel was decently sure that Ruby had felt scorned due to the fact that one night, she overheard the two speaking about Gabriel.  Although there had been other people in the past, that had never deterred her from attempts before.  Something about this particular relationship rubbed her the wrong way and she stopped all her flirting, which was a phenomenon all by itself.  

Now, it didn’t even look like she could stand Sam’s presence.

But Castiel begrudgingly admitted today she had a point.  And if it kept him from having to say it to his friend?  He’d gladly let Ruby rip Sam a new one.  Cas could speak to him after this since there was obviously something under the muddled surface, but if they were going to finish around noon like they wanted: Ruby was right.  He needed to get his shit together.

Sam began flipping through the pages with a renewed vigor and chugged the coffee Meg had brought while Ruby eyed him with scrutiny.  When Castiel glanced up, he caught Meg looking directly at him with a gun-in-mouth gesture and he couldn’t help from snorting.  When Sam shot him a fixed glare, he began coughing in a pitiful attempt to cover it up.

God, he just wanted this to be over and it to be the weekend so he could spend it with Dean.

All this tireless studying had been wearing on him and although he felt like they were prepared, it still hindered him in the way that he missed his boyfriend.  Quite a lot.

But he wasn’t daydreaming.  He was focused.  Because the means to the end was what was going to get him to Dean the fastest.  It was simple logic and discipline.

Eventually, Sam found the notation he was looking for and relayed it to the group, Ruby scoffing, “Fucking finally,” under her breath.

Normally, Sam would let that roll right off his back, but he did something entirely different, which Cas had not been expecting. Sam went off.

“Sorry, but you don’t have to be such a bitch about it.”  Sam didn’t bother to whisper even though she was within close proximity.

No, he said it at full volume as an insult, and Ruby looked at him with wide eyes.

Castiel, himself, was a little more than shocked too.

“Excuse me?”  She leaned into his space and Cas was worried this was going to go south and quick.  Ruby wasn’t someone you messed with.

“I get it. You had a reason to yell at me before.  You did it.  Now you’re done.” Sam matched her posture and refused to back down. “So until I fuck up again?  How about you keep your snide little comments to yourself.”

“Oo, baby Sammy’s got a backbone today,” Meg cooed and leaned back in her chair.  “Not gonna lie... That’s all kinds of sexy.”

“Meg, do not escalate this,” Cas ordered the woman, who simply winked, then turned to his friends and said, “We don’t need to fight.  We’re a team.  We’ve been under a lot of stress and-”

“You don’t need to moderate, Cas,” Ruby’s tone was full of heavy sarcasm.  “Wow, I’m just impressed Sam’s finally telling us what he really thinks.  Proud of you, kid.  Don’t fuck up and I won’t be ‘snide.’  Deal?”

“Don’t worry, I won’t.“  Sam shook his head in disbelief and retorted, “It’s not like I’m the one who’s desperate for people to study with.  You know, because I can't study on my own, since I flunked three of my law classes and had to do summer school anyway.”  Then he tilted his head with challenging eyebrow raised, “Oh wait!  That was you.”

“You fucking asshole,” Ruby’s voice was a low growl and you could practically see the smoke coming out of her ears.  She was a second away from lunging.

“Woah!  Hey!”  Balthazar suddenly burst out, grabbing Ruby‘s shoulder to make sure she didn‘t move.  “What the bloody hell is going on with you two?!  Cassie’s right.  We’re here to help each other!  Not to get into girl fights and pull each other’s hair!  Jesus!”

“The only way she knows how to fight is dirty,” Sam shrugged with all the nonchalance in the world.  “Figured it’d be the only thing she responds to.”

“Sam...” Cas’ voice held a warning to it. “What are you doing?”

“Uh, defending myself for once?” He looked at his friend incredulously.  “Am I not allowed to do that?”

“What you’re doing is being is disrespectful,” Castiel tried to emphasize, “We need to concentrate on-”

“You know what?  I’m good.  I can finish this up by myself,”  Sam decided and began collecting his belongings, forcefully shoving them into his backpack.  “Everyone, make sure to bend over backward tutoring Ruby because she obviously needs your help!”  He grabbed his coat with a sugary smile and waved, “Have a good weekend.”

When the door slammed, everyone looked around the table with nothing short of stunned disbelief scrawled across their faces.  It was pained silence except for Ruby’s brewing and fuming.  Her face had turned a shade of furious red and her knuckles were clenched, white.

Meg was the one who spoke up first with a baffled, “Wow.  What the hell just happened?” looking right at Cas.

“I believe he was pushed too far.”  Castiel’s lips were pursed in a firm line and he dared to address Ruby, commenting, “You have been rough on him lately.  Repeatedly.  While I do not condone his behavior whatsoever, I also can understand a bit of where it came from.”

She crossed her arms and gave him a very direct, “Fuck you.”

“Well, isn’t this just a lovely, productive study session,” Balthazar lamented.  He, too, began gathering his textbooks and papers.  “We’re clearly wasting our time right now.  Why don’t we save this for Monday when everyone has had time to get work off their inner cunt.”

“Balthazar,” Cas sighed, but realized it was pointless when he gave him a very deliberate and meaningful glance.  He finally, if not resentfully, acquiesced with, “Perhaps you’re right.  We’ve been burning the candle at both ends.”

“Well, you’re all welcome for the coffee we apparently didn’t need.” Meg followed suit by pulling her coat on first.  “Always nice to see your face, Clarence.  And you gave it a good try, pulling the team back together.  Better luck next time.”

Eventually, it was just Castiel and Ruby.  The woman had yet to make a move and Cas was hesitant to leave.  While he didn’t think the fight was necessary and he wanted to figure out what the hell was wrong with Sam, he almost felt sorry for the woman.  So he made a choice.

“I don’t have anything to do until later this afternoon...” Cas made it seem like he was thinking aloud. “And since we’re already here, would you prefer to continue?”

Maybe it was the olive branch that he knew Sam wouldn’t be offering any time soon.

She appeared taken aback by his proposal, but Castiel knew Sam had mentioned her failing a few classes as a way to cut Ruby deep, which was why Cas was disappointed in him.  She had been so devoted to the study group, so why not help her if he could?  He was confident in the material and, while he didn’t need to be here at all to begin with, maybe he could do some good.

Ruby tried to act cavalier about it, but she shifted back to the table and shrugged, “I mean, we got up early... Maybe we should just get it over with...”

Cas gave her a genuine smile and nodded. “Yes, we shouldn’t let the morning go to waste.”

He could have swore a grateful look flashed on her face for a split-second, but he could have been imagining things.  Either way, he flipped his book to the next section they were working on and started in with, “Okay, I’ve already worked on section five, so let’s discuss it.”  

--------------------

Staying true to his word, Cas continued to work with Ruby until the afternoon came and then an idea popped into his head once the woman packed up and left.  He stayed in the conference room for a bit, waiting for what he knew was Dean’s consistent lunch time and then dialed his number once it hit.

“Hey, Cas,” his warm voice greeted, “How did the study session go?”

“It really didn’t,” he admitted and ran a hand through his hair with a groan.

“Uh, what does that mean?”  Dean’s curiosity was piqued and Cas could hear a wrapper in the background, figuring the man was eating in his office.

“Your brother caused quite a scene at the beginning of it.  I haven’t had a chance to speak with him, since I stayed and worked with the woman he blew up at and helped her, but something is off with him.”

“Woah, Sammy caused a scene?”  He sounded amused, “With who?  I’ve heard all about your little group.”

“Ruby, actually.”

“And she didn’t scratch his eyes out?”  Dean chuckled, “I thought she was trying to get in his pants!  What the hell did they fight about?”

“She was being antagonizing him and being snippy because he wasn’t himself this morning and he took snippy to a whole new level.  He did quite a nice job brutalizing her.  Then he left.  It was quite unlike him and I’m worried,” Cas shrugged his shoulders even though Dean couldn’t see it.  “I’m going to speak with him, but I was musing over an idea.”

“Damn, for Sam to get up in someone’s face like that, something must be outta whack.”  He whistled at the thought, “Okay, tell me about this idea of yours.”

“Well,” Cas began tapping his pencil against the notebook he still hadn’t packed away.  “I know that Gabriel isn’t working tonight and Sam is clearly done for the day.  My bet is they’re seeing each other tonight.  I feel like we should evaluate their situation.”

“Okay,” Dean said slowly and then asked, “So are we talkin’ phone calls or what?”

Castiel paused, then hesitantly said, “I was thinking more along the lines of a dinner together.”

“Hold on, like a straight-up double-date?”  He sounded surprised, but then once he thought about it decided, “That may actually be a good way to go.  I mean, all we’ve got is hearsay and you’ve gotten secondhand angst, right?  Plus, I’ve never met Gabriel.  Gotta vet ‘im for my baby bro, right?”

“Of course you do,” Castiel teased him.  “So I believe you should be the one who brings it up.  Sam may be more receptive to you since I may have said some things that could have upset him.  I know Gabriel would be willing, of course.  Would you mind giving Sam a call?”

“No prob.  Long as I get you at the end of the night, I’m good.”

“You’ll always have me at the end of the night,” he quipped naturally, but when there was a bit of a break in their conversation, his brows furrowed.  “And the entire weekend, as we planned.  Does all of this sound all right?”

“Yeah, totally.  Sorry, just took a bite out of my sandwich.”  But the way he chuckled sounded as though he was nervous.  Cas would have called him out on it if he didn’t follow up so quickly with, “But, hey, I’m gonna call Sam right now while I’ve got time.  I’ll text you if everything works out, okay?”

“Yes, that’s amenable.”  But now Castiel was cautious.  “Hopefully I’ll hear from you soon.”

“I’ll work my magic!  Don’t you worry!  And I’ll see you tonight, regardless.  Talk soon, Cas.”

“Goodbye, Dean.”

Cas sighed when the conversation ended and finally began cleaning up his area.  He’d lingered in the space for too long and he should be on his way home to shower and get ready.  He already had enough of his belongings over at Dean’s that he no longer needed to pack any sort of overnight bag.  That thought warmed him.

Hopefully, Dean would come through and their double-date concept would come to fruition.  Castiel was still concerned about Sam and his outburst.  He wasn’t sure if his friend had simply been pushed too far or if there were other underlying issues.  It didn't matter, if everything went according, they’d know soon enough.

--------------------

The call came through when Sam was still cooling down, but the animated way Dean spoke about the concept of the four of them having dinner together left no room for Sam to say no.  It seemed like his brother genuinely wanted to meet Gabriel, and Sam supposed it was time.  After all, they’d taken the next step last night and it wasn’t a casual fling anymore.

Still, he was a little nervous to be around Cas after his mini-meltdown in front of the study group.

But his morning wasn’t going according to plan.

Well, not his morning.  His morning was awesome.  

Any time he woke up next to Gabriel was a good way to start the day, and he wished that he didn’t have to leave him.  That was the hardest part of it all.  

He ordered Gabriel to sleep in, and after the beginnings of another passionate but ridiculously...romantic? make-out, it physically hurt to leave.  God, he wanted to stay, more than anything, especially knowing Gabriel would probably be lounging in his bed until their date tonight and he wanted to be there.

But once they’d voiced what Sam already knew in his heart?  

It was real.  It made everything so much more real.

It was out in the open and Sam... couldn’t do it anymore.  

He resigned to the fact he’d never have closure.  He’d never figure out who “Rich” was, but he could no longer, in good conscience, talk with him as they’d been doing.  It wasn’t fair to him or his boyfriend.  Not anymore.

So on the bus ride to the library - he deleted Tinder.

And that sucked.  More than he would even admit to himself.

He had to remember that what he had with Gabriel was better, so much better, and worth never knowing who this dumbass was online.  It was something he was willing to drop because, yeah, he was head over heels.

Sam was also kind of baffled by the fact that it was mutual.  He was still reliving the moment on replay in his head.  He only hoped that Gabriel meant it.  Simply because the man had come over last night because of a shitty day at work and it wasn’t like a typical shitty day.  Sam noticed the second Gabriel said something, the way his voice was holding back from quaking, that he wasn’t okay.  Something was truly wrong and Sam needed to fix it.

Hopefully, it wasn’t just because of his mindset that he’d said those words, that it wasn’t a fluke.  Because if it had been, Sam would be crushed.  

Still, the fact that Gabriel had immediately came to him attested to the fact that he trusted him, that maybe he could be Gabriel's calm in the storm and he hoped he’d helped him.  Plus, he still said he loved him the next morning so it had to be real…right?

By the time Sam had gotten home, Gabriel was gone as he’d expected him to be, but the bed still smelled like him.  Sam had dove under the covers for a nap and it had been Dean’s phone call that woke him up.

He figured Gabriel would be doing the same, napping, that is, so he made the decision to send him a text (rather than a call) about the dinner date.

Naturally, Gabe responded enthusiastically and said he’d pick Sam up around six, if that was "a-okay with big bro."  It made Sam grin, because after Gabriel had said, “Makes sense he wants to meet your boyfriend” and that had been the first, real time they’d addressed each other as such, even though it was already assumed.  Just that word … It made him happy.  Ridiculously happy.

After a few back and forth messages between him and Dean, everything was set and they were ready to go.

Sam was more than happy to send: “See you at 6, boyfriend” and went back to finishing his nap with a smile on his face.

-----------------

The situation was similar to a game.  

But it was a game that Gabriel and Sam didn’t know was being played in the first place.  

Dean and Cas had decided beforehand they were going to try and drop little, subtle hints about “Rich” and “Cameron” to see if the idiots could figure it out.  Hopefully without coming to the grand realization at their actual dinner.  They had to be strategic.  They wanted to plant ideas, let them simmer, and, ideally, leave the couple to figure it out later.  If all went according to plan...

Because Dean really was interested in meeting whoever Sam had been dating (and simultaneous catfishing) for the last couple months.  

Now that he thought about it, he wondered why the hell he hadn’t met him sooner?!  

Oh yeah, he was in the middle of his own relationship.  

It only worked out for him because Cas and Sam were besties, even though Cas had warned him ahead of time that Sam may be testy around him.

Which was interesting.

Since it was “Dean’s idea,” he went ahead and made the reservation for them.  He and Cas were the first ones to get there.

He had to admit when he picked Cas up that all his worries about their own relationship didn’t just fade.  They vanished into thin air the moment he hopped in Baby and thoroughly kissed him hello.  God, he was a sight for sore eyes, especially dressed up a bit for their dinner.  They agreed they had to be on their A-Game and Cas gave him a few disclaimers about his brother.

Which, yeah, he’d heard before, but still.  Each time Cas spoke about Gabriel, it surprised the hell out of Dean that Sam was dating this dude.  Well, from the hearsay and whatnot.

They were seated at a table towards the back and chatting when both saw Sam’s towering figure enter the restaurant.  That was the great thing about Sam - you could see the Sasquatch coming from a mile away.  It looked like the hostess was leading them to the table and that was when Dean caught sight of Gabriel.

He wasn’t quite sure what he was expecting, but the man waltzing right up into his personal space, reaching out his hand and grinning, “Heya Deano, heard a lot about ya.  Good to finally meet the Ken doll that’s with my baby bro,” was not it.

“Uh..” Dean stood up and shook his hand.  “And you’re obviously Gabriel.  I could say the exact same thing, minus the Ken doll part.  ‘Cause that’s weird and you’re a midget.”

The new addition didn't seem phased in the least, although Sam sent his brother a bitchface when he slid into the booth.  Gabriel took the aisle seat and told Dean, “Aw, you say the sweetest things,” as he sat down.  “Bet he waxes all sorts of poetry to you, doesn’t he, Cas?” Gabriel wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“Oh, God,” Cas turned to Sam and instantly demanded, “Is he in a mood?”

There was a momentary pause accompanied by a snicker as the waitress took their drink orders since they had yet to glance at the menus.  Gabriel was too busy running his thumb in patterns along the back of Sam’s hand anyway.

“He slept the day away so he’s energized?” Sam guessed in response and sent Gabriel a small smile as he took their hand under the table and deliberately stated, “Which he needed.”

“You did, too.” Gabriel poked Sam’s cheek before he turned to Dean and said, “I like the double-date idea, by the way.  It’s been a hot sec since we’ve done a good ol’ fashion sit-down dinner.”

“Yeah, it’s hard to find the time sometimes, isn’t it?”  Dean glanced between his brother and Cas and commented, “That’s how Sam set us up.  On a blind dinner date and we had no idea what we were getting into.”

“I heard all about that.” A grin tugged on Gabriel’s features. “About how Sam fabricated some deets about Cas.  I wish he’d taken it a step further and really committed to it, ya know?”

“Not everyone is quite as malicious as you, Gabriel.” Cas pointed a finger and addressed the entire table, “Growing up with him was a nightmare.  He loves playing pranks on anyone and everyone.  Most of them fell on me and I was never creative enough to retaliate.”

“It was kind of like kicking a puppy so I gave up,” the man in question shrugged.  “But there are loads of other people to prank in the world, so I let Cas off easy.”  With a dramatic sigh, Gabriel added, “If only my profession wasn’t so regarded and sacred.  I can barely get away with small jokes on the other departments or you’d think I shot the president.”

“Just a regular trickster, aren’t you?  Bet fishing for a good prank just comes naturally, huh?” Dean teased and suddenly Sam's eye twitched.  “You aren’t fucking with Sammy?”

Giving him a long, appraising look, Gabriel hummed and thought aloud, “I don’t believe I’ve fucked with him once.  But if you want to talk about fucking-

Sam jerked up and covered Gabriel’s mouth with his palm, ordering, “Not in front of my brother!”

When he pulled his hand away, there was a pout on his face.  “You never reprimand me or tell me to behave.  That’s one of the things I love about you.”

Although a flush was starting to brighten Sam’s cheeks, he admonished, “Because that’s always around random, no-name people who we’ll never see again and I couldn’t care less.  This is different. This is my brother,” he tried to emphasize.

Gabriel glanced across the table while their drinks were being set down and, after thanking the waitress, tilted his head and groaned, “But I don’t like giving people free passes.”  He looked at Cas, “Tell ‘im.  If anything, I should be harassing Dean more because he’s practically family.  Or, at least, boning family.”

Without even flinching, and instead, a grave expression, Cas nodded and explained to Sam, “The closer you are, the more Gabriel wishes to embarrass you.  It’s a sad fact of life.”  Then he looked over to see Dean also appeared affronted by Cas’ brother’s teasing and he chuckled, “I already warned you, Dean.  Don’t look so surprised.”

“I should’ve taken it way more seriously.”

Gabriel’s delight doubled. “Oh, Cas, you’ve failed him.”

“Sammy...” Dean leaned towards his brother who was kiddy-corner and asked one, simple question.  “How?”

Gabriel and Sam exchanged glances and began to chuckle, then Sam finally turned back to Dean and shrugged, “We just... Make sense.”

Dean mumbled under his breath, something to the extent of, “This doesn’t make a lick’a sense,” then dove into his menus with focus.  His stomach was growling and he needed a momentary distraction to gather his bearing in front of this apparent opponent in front of him.

Because, seriously.  How?!

--------------------

After the initial shock that was Gabriel wore off and they finished supper, Dean was finally beginning to see it more and more.  Well, he was starting to notice Sam’s behavior and the way he lit up when he was around the other man.  Although Dean knew he wouldn’t be able to handle this dude in large doses, his brother was a friggin love-struck, heart-eyed teenager.  It was so ungodly obvious.

And Gabriel was in it just as bad.

He hoped him and Cas didn’t look half as disgusting as the two of them, but then again... Dean was still at odds with himself about whether or not he and Cas even had a future.  While this double date had been a fantastic distraction, he was a little concerned about what would happen when he got Cas alone.

Well, he knew what he hoped would happen when he got Cas alone.  He hoped for a lot of things of the sexy variety, but he didn’t trust himself.  Fuck, he prayed he could hold off on his midlife-crisis-angst for at least the weekend, because the weekends they spent together were the fucking best.  Just lounging, being together, being able to jump on one another whenever and wherever they wanted.

Dean was too busy daydreaming to notice when Gabriel swiftly picked up the bill, until their server had his credit card in hand and he was blurting out, “Hey!  You didn’t have to pay for that, dude-”

“Hey, my treat.” He interrupted Dean and winked.

Cas wrapped his arm around Dean’s shoulders and announced, “It’s something he does.  Don’t worry.  He’s not trying to one-up your masculinity.  Not to mention he’s got the money.”  He added the last part as a dramatic whisper.

Sam perked up a little when “money” was mentioned, another dropped hint he was unaware of, while Dean protested, “But I was the one who invited you guys out.  It doesn’t matter if you’re Sam’s sugar daddy.”

“I haven’t heard that one yet,” Gabriel mused with a grin, glancing over to the man in question.  “He’ll be making the big bucks soon.  Schooling may be a bitch, but it’s worth it in the end.  You know, after you pay off student loans.  That took me a hot sec.”

“I remember the celebration you threw when you sent in your final payment,” Cas chuckled and shook his head at the memory.  “You probably spent more money at the bar than you did for a semester at school.”

“Do you have any idea how liberated I finally felt?!  It was like I was invincible, bro!”

“Is that why you almost got into a fight with a parked cab?  Or attempted to scale that cement lamppost as ‘America Ninja Warrior’ training and scraped twenty five percent of your body?  Or why you tried to steal the stripper‘s costume angel wings?  Or why-”

Hush!”  Gabriel snapped his fingers and stopped his brother, “We said we wouldn’t bring up that night, asshole!”

Cas wore a proud mischievous grin. “We said we wouldn’t bring that up around your coworkers.  Sam and Dean hardly count.”

“Did you get ‘em?”  Dean asked right away.

Which caused Gabriel to openly blink.  “Get what?”

“The wings!”  He demanded like it was obvious.

The bill was slid back in front of Gabriel and while he was signing and adding the tip, he snorted out, “Duh.  I always get what I want.”  He then blatantly winked at Sam.  “Although they didn’t fit quite right and I tore 'em quick, it was fun while it lasted.  Much like tonight!  So, thank you for the invite, Dean, and it was nice to finally put a face to the name.”

Although he was still a little miffed that Gabriel had paid, he tried to unruffled his feathers because he had to admit, “It was fun.  We should do this more often, right, Cas?”  He delivered it to the man because he was the true mastermind behind the plan.

“I’m in agreement,” he nodded while they all began standing and getting their coats.

Before Sam could say his goodbye, Cas gently took him by the elbow and pulled him aside away from the other men to note, “I see you’re doing better.”

Sam knew this was coming in some form and he shrugged, “Yeah,” but lowered his voice so the two wouldn’t hear and whispered, “I had a weird morning.  It was a really great morning, but... I deleted it.”  Sam gave Cas a deliberate look to make sure he knew exactly what he was speaking of.  “I’m really fucking happy with your brother.  I wanna do this one-hundred percent but...”

“You lack closure,” Castiel pronounced slowly, “And lost a friend.”

“If by that, you mean a pain in the ass,” he grumbled and shrugged, trying to appear unaffected, but Cas could see right through his front.  

It made a strange sort of sense.  Hopefully some of the clues they dropped tonight would make it clear.  And if not?  Cas wanted to discuss the matter with Dean because it was physically distressing Sam.  Or had this morning.  At least there had been a reason.  They couldn’t pause much longer.  Their was a busboy obviously lingering right outside their table and Cas pulled Sam ahead to follow where Dean and Gabriel had already began walking.

“Okay.”

Okay?”  Sam echoed as they dodged along the outside of the tables. “That’s it?”

“Please, don’t get in a mood again,” Cas sighed, “Especially with me.  I know I’m one of the two people you can speak with this about, but that doesn’t mean-”

Shit.  Sorry, I really am,” Sam quickly caught himself and groaned.  “Why am I like this?”

“You haven’t been like this our entire dinner,” Castiel pointed out.

Sam countered, “That’s because I’ve been with Gabriel.  He…”

“Takes your mind off everything else,” with a half-smile, Cas admitted, “I understand the sentiment.  So let’s enjoy our weekend off and don’t allow yourself to stew in this, all right?”

With a sigh, but a real smile, Sam could easily reply, “You’re right.  You’re always fucking right, who am I kidding?”

“I know.”

They walked out the double-doors to see Dean and Gabriel waiting for them on either side because they’d parked in different areas.

“You guys done being nerds?”  Of course that was the conclusion Dean jumped to right away.

But both men were ready to play the part and it was Cas who said, “Of course.  I’ll see you on Monday, Sam, and we’ll get back to the packet we compiled together.”

The other student readily agreed, waving his goodbyes and they parted ways.  While Cas and Dean began chatting right away as they turned the corner, Gabriel hip-bumped Sam which made him reach out and take Gabriel’s hand into his.  Sam laughed as his boyfriend didn’t hesitate to swing their arms obnoxiously on the way to the car because it was true: all his worries evaporated the second he was next to Gabriel.

He couldn’t wait to get home.

Chapter Text

It was rare - extremely rare - when Gabriel and Sam ended up at Gabriel’s at the end of a date.  The convenience of staying at Sam’s, with his busy school schedule, made the most sense because Gabriel’s hours were odd.  In fact, this could be the third time Sam had been to his boyfriend’s house.  Which, now that he thought about it, was really bizarre.

The first time was when they met, when Castiel had brought him over on the whim of an afternoon.

The second time, he’d spent the night.  It was when they’d gone on a random hiking trip (Sam’s idea) and Gabriel groused he needed to wake up in his own bed afterwards, because he was definitely sleeping in and not moving one bit the second the piled into his bed.  That was around the time Sam decided to give him a key so he could let himself in and out of Sam’s apartment as he saw fit.

That could also be the reason they stayed at Sam’s even after graduation.  It was just easier.

After that hike, the first time he’d overnighted at Gabriel’s, they’d watched a movie and fallen asleep together.  It was only luck of the draw that the man’s internal clock went off because neither of them had set an alarm.  They were too busy wrapped up with each other (and a second wind including blowjobs) that alarms were the last thing on their mind.

Sam had barely made it to class.

Even now, he hadn’t gotten the full tour of Gabriel’s house, just like the first two times, because Gabriel’s mouth was on his and he was tugging him into the bedroom.  Not like Sam was putting up much of a fight.  Hell, he was fighting for it.  

As Gabriel clung to him, Sam pushed them forward by undressing them since it seemed to be the last thing on the other man’s mind.

No, he was finally letting himself get pulled into the moment without hesitation and it made Sam’s heart race.

There had been little things...small innuendos made all night.  Not to mention Gabriel’s wandering hand under the table, while Sam was forced to remain tortuously engaged in conversation, rather than bucking into his boyfriend’s teasing and skillful fingers.  God, it had been a fucking nightmare.

But he had played through it.  And if he knew his brother, if Dean thought for a second something was going on?  He would have called them out on it.  No hesitation.  It was insane how badly Sam wanted the restaurant to be empty, to flip the table over and straddle Gabriel.  To grind against him and show him how it wasn’t nice to tease him to the point of snapping.

It looked like Gabriel had beat him to the punch.  He’d probably screwed himself over because in toying with Sam, he’d given it right back at the dinner table.  In the form of whispers when they were eating... Telling him about all the things he wanted Gabriel to do to him.  In (porno)graphic, but hushed, detail.

The game of cat and mouse had gotten way too out of hand, but somehow they’d gotten away with it.  No idea how the fuck they’d managed, but the result was the same.

The two rushed back to Gabriel’s, probably because it was close, and Sam was getting slammed against a wall hard enough to bruise his shoulder blades.

He moaned into Gabriel’s mouth, having already stripped them of their shirts, and now he went to work on the belts and buttons of their pants.  Finally, they were in reach of the bedroom and it was a rough tumble to the mattress, both men unsure of who pushed who.  

They ended up in a tangle of limbs, Sam momentarily forgetting his task because he was too busy grabbing the back of his boyfriend’s neck and nipping at his lips.  His body ran hot and the flush feeling of their chests felt amazing.  As did their synced, rocking hips.

Gabriel pulled away to breathlessly chuckle, “Did I happen to tell you how hot you look tonight?"

“Maybe.” Sam arched against the other man’s erection, friction making him moan.  “A few times.”

“You look even hotter now,” he returned with a mischievous grin.  “God, I want you.”

“Take me-” There was no hesitation in his words.

Gabriel kissed them from his lips before he drew away and raked his fingertips down Sam’s chest, watching him writhe.  He continued to loom over him and picked up where the younger man had left off, unzipping Sam’s pants and pulling both his jeans and boxers off at the same time.  After he pulled the socks off, he mouthed at Sam’s knee and continued to suck and nip up his inner thigh.

Crouching between Sam’s legs, the man watched with rapt attention and finally needed the confirmation, “Do you mean it?”

Sam’s eyes doubled because...was Gabriel serious?  It damn well seemed like he was serious.  And before he could get out words, he was nodding adamantly and spreading his legs even further.

“You’re sure?” Gabriel asked, eyes dancing with lust as he ducked over to the side, towards his nightstand and reached inside.  “I know you say so, but-”

Halting all his motions, Sam sat up and caught Gabriel’s face with his hands, capturing his complete attention and pronouncing, “Gabe.  There’s nothing to worry about anymore.  We’ve made it work.  Everything.  And we’re gonna keep working because I mean it when I say I love you.  Fuck, do I mean it.”

The heat and meaning behind the words left Gabriel floundering for less than a second before he surged forward and kissed him even harder than before.  In between breaths, he sighed, “I mean it, too.”  He headbutted Sam’s face to the side and worried the man’s earlobe with his teeth, “You’re right.  We will keep working.” He sucked hard enough to leave a gaudy mark on Sam’s neck while he found what he was searching for in the drawer. “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted this.”

When Sam was shoved back to the bed, he whimpered at the sight of Gabriel covering his fingers with lube, but still managed to counter, “Pretty sure I know how long.  And how bad-”

The last part of whatever he was trying to say was ripped away from his lungs as Gabriel worked two fingers into his ass.  This was something they’d done before.  They hadn’t gone any further, though.  A thrill shot through Sam knowing that was all going to change tonight.  But it wasn’t just about the sex.  It was about the fact that he’d found someone who just fit perfectly with him and felt the same way in return.

And the best part was he hadn’t been the one to fumble, to put himself out there, and Gabriel had taken the initiative (accidental or not) to tell him he loved him first.  Sam felt it.  Not the third finger that began working against his tight rim... Well, he sure as hell felt that, too, but it paled in comparison to how far gone he was on this man.  He’d never felt this way about anyone. He’d never-

“Gabe!”  He moaned out and squirmed from the mind-blowing ministrations.  “Right there-”

“There?”  Gabriel asked with a grin, brushing over where already knew was Sam’s prostate.

He just wanted to make Sam come undone, watch his wanton body beg for more.  And the way he was grinding against Gabriel’s fingers and his cock was leaking, covered in precum, was exactly what he loved to see.

Gabriel was about to pull away when Sam reached out clamped a hand down on his wrist and stopped him.  He bit his lip and shyly asked, “Can you.. Use one more finger?”

He didn’t answer with words, but sweetly placed a kiss on the inside of Sam’s knee and nodded.  After all, the younger man was blushing a little and he wasn’t going to tease him for it.  Hell, if Gabriel wasn’t so drunk on Sam, he would have done it anyway.  He was just so fucking geared up and ready for the main event.

If he’d been paying attention to his lover, he would have realized just how tight he was when he’d worked in a third finger.  Sam never hesitated to send him dirty texts or tell him when they were together how much he loved Gabriel’s thick cock, which he was clearly thinking with right now.

Gabriel continued to aim his fingers and just barely graze Sam’s sweet spot when he stretched him open with a fourth finger.  Just enough to put him on edge, to want it so bad and forget about any discomfort...but never enough to get off on.  No matter how much Sam tried to meet Gabriel’s fingers with his hips and get them even deeper, to pound into his prostate even harder-

He should know by now that Gabriel was in charge.

He dipped down just far enough to lap the salty precum from Sam’s pulsing erection, swirl his tongue around the head and tease the slit.  Sam was a mess of curses and garbled words when Gabriel sweetly asked him, “You ready for me, babe?”

“Fuck yes,” he panted, watching Gabriel’s every move, completely entranced.

Gabriel had been so busy pleasuring Sam he’d been ignoring the way his cock was straining against his own goddamn pants.  The second they were ripped off, he felt nothing but sheer relief.  He also loved the way Sam’s heated gaze amplified as he openly gaped at Gabriel’s dick. The man couldn’t help the smirk tugging at his lips.

But then, he had to bring up the obvious, which was always a momentary buzz kill, but it was critical. Especially in Gabriel’s profession.

Just to soften the statement, he snaked up and sucked over the already-bruising skin on Sam’s neck and peppered kisses while he asked in a hushed voice, “Are you clean, Sammy?  When’s the last time you were tested?”

God, Gabriel hated it when his “doctor” was out in the bedroom and not in a sexy way.  If he wanted to avoid it completely, he could have just grabbed a condom and avoided addressing it at all.  But something about actually feeling Sam as much as humanly possible sent a shiver down his spine and he wanted it all.  Maybe Gabriel was selfish.  He didn’t care.

“Yeah, I am.” Sam grabbed a handful of Gabriel’s hair with a smile, “It was a couple months before we started dating.  Haven’t been with anyone but you.  Are you..?”

“Obviously.” He tried not to roll his eyes.

And while the meaning was lost on Sam (with Gabriel’s medical profession still being an ironic mysterious), he assumed it was because of his lifestyle and lack of serious (or any) relationships.

But Gabriel snatched the lube up with a renewed sense of passion and gushed into Sam’s ear, “Mm, I get to feel every second inside you...” He flipped off the lid and kissed him with more intent before pulling away and looking right in Sam’s eyes when he asked, “Will you let me cum inside you?”

Sam’s breathing was picking up for a whole new reason.  He didn’t shrink under the intensity of Gabriel’s words; he bloomed.  With hungry eyes, he ordered, “Gabe, stop wasting time.  Need it now,” and then answered second, “You better fill me up.”

“God, I love you,” Gabriel’s tone was sharp as he eyed his boyfriend and right before he went to pour the lube into his palm to coat his cock... He heard something.

It was barely audible over the sounds of their breaths and taunting and it was coming from the hallway.  

More specifically, where he knew he’d left it in his pocket.  

Any other time, any other place, he wouldn’t have even heard it, but his ears were trained to pick up this particular ring tone.  So he was hyper-aware of the sound.

Sam looked confused at how his boyfriend froze and reached out to grab him.  Only, Gabriel was on his feet and had left the room in the blink of an eye.

Which left Sam on the bed, more aroused than he’d ever been in his entire goddamn life, but even more confused.  

Because after Gabriel had all but stopped breathing, yeah, Sam had heard the phone too.  But why the hell wasn’t he just ignoring it?  What was so important-?

He could hear Gabriel’s voice speaking with someone in the kitchen area and he had no idea what to do, so he laid back in the bed and tried to listen in.  Except, his boyfriend wasn’t just muffled through the walls.  He was speaking too damn quickly for Sam's ears, and then everything was silent.  Sam perked up the second the phone call ended, still ready and waiting..

But when Gabriel came back through the door, he didn’t move to the bed.  

He moved to his dresser to pull on a clean pair of boxers, pulled the socks on from the floor, and then moved to the closet.  

It wasn’t until Gabriel was nearly dressed that Sam finally broke through his flabbergasted state and he asked, “Uh, what’s going on, Gabe?”

“I’m sorry,” his voice was laced in anxiety, “You can stay here or you can leave.  It’s totally up to you.  Fuck.”

Disregarding how naked he was, Sam flew to his feet while Gabriel was pulling on a hoodie and grabbed him.  “Hey, what’s wrong?  Are you all right?”  There was nothing but deep concern in his voice because the other man looked like he’d saw a ghost.  “Who was that on the phone?”

“It was one of my nurses.” Gabriel scrubbed a hand down his face.  “One of my favorite patients is headed to the ER and I’ve gotta get there.  I know I’m not on duty, but... This little girl means a lot to me.  I know her case inside and out and I’m not gonna let anything happen to her.  Some of the other cardiologists look at her as a case number.  She’s way more than that.  They’re just heartless, over-educated dicks.”

“She’s one of your...patients?” Sam said slowly, the realization finally dawning on him.  Then, in order to cover it up so he didn’t look like a complete dumbass, he asked, “Is she in the ER for a, uh, cardiac problem?”

“I don’t know.  Jo just told me she‘s on the way.  It doesn’t matter.  I work ER and cardiology so I’m double-ready.  I just need to go.  Fucking now.”  He pulled out of Sam’s grasp, only to be pulled back in and snap, “Sam!  I need-”

Sam grabbed him for one kiss and explained, “I’ll lock up after you.  Get there safe and good luck.”

Gabriel’s harsh glare melted and he reached out to grab Sam’s hand with an honest, “Thank you...I appreciate it.  I’m sorry, I know the job hours suck and you put up with so much already-”

Hey.  Go save that little girl.” He was swift to stop Gabriel and give him a smile.  He didn’t want him to over think it, over think them.  “Text me whenever you get the chance.  If you don’t mind, I’ll probably stay here tonight.  You won’t even have to sneak into my apartment that way.”

“Deal.”  Gabriel seemed relieved from Sam’s words, things on one side of the fence being all right, but the rest of it still remained dire.  “I’ll get a hold of you as soon as I can.  And keep my bed warm, kiddo.”

Sam followed behind Gabriel as he yanked on his coat and waved goodbye.  Sam listened to the footsteps down the porch; Gabe was practically running.  Still very much naked, Sam dodged around the blinds of the living room windows, making sure the neighbors didn’t see him.  When he reached the door, he turned the brass knobs to lock it.

It was only then, after he went back to the bedroom and pulled on his boxers, that the realization hit him...

Gabriel was a doctor.  It hit him hard and his weak knees left him collapsing back down to the mattress.

Because then the pieces started coming together.

Gabriel was doctor.  

In cardiology and ER.  

Whose “favorite patient” was a little girl.  Which meant he was a pediatrician.  

The proximity of his house to Lucile Packard was deliberate.  There was no doubt about that.

Holy fucking hell.  There was no way... unless there was... this whole time, was there a possibility that-?

Sam felt like the wind was punched from his lungs.  The possibility wasn’t as far-fetched as he thought... And now?  It was looking more and more likely.  How the fuck hadn’t he seen it sooner?  How had he been ignorant for this long?

How- ?

He had one call to make.

Because Sam had a damn good idea that he wasn’t the only one who (now) knew the truth.  There was one person who could give him confirmation besides Gabriel himself.  Yeah, he knew exactly who to call.

-------------------------

Jo had given him bits and pieces of what had happened over the phone and Gabriel flew to the ER like a bat out of hell.

Maggie was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance as they spoke.  Apparently, even though Gabriel had taken the weekend off, Jo was still in the middle of her duties when they’d gotten the name of the patient.  They’d paged her to confirm that all her medical records were up to date and of course, the moment she’d confirmed, she’d called Gabriel.

Of those bits and pieces, everything was pointing towards a stroke.

It wasn’t like he didn’t trust the staff on hand.  Gabriel just trusted himself that much more.  And he wanted to be the face the little girl saw, the family saw, because no matter how he could help, he damn well was going to.

He whipped into one of the staff parking spots and barely remembered to lock his car.  Jo was waiting for him at the entrance with her arms crossed and the second she spotted him, her eyes widened and she announced, “They’re doing a CT scan right now.  I told them you were on your way.”

“Good.”  It was more of a grunt than a word. “Let’s get scrubbed in and prepare for anything.  I want you there.  Who’s the doctor on duty right now?”

They were speeding down the hallway and then cut a sharp turn into the medical staff corner as Jo informed him, “It’s Tessa, but I already gave her the warning and she said she had no problem assisting, if that’s what you need.”

“All right.”  Gabriel kept everything short and sweet as he pulled off his street clothes and went through all the protocols as quickly as he could.  He pulled on a pair of scrubs before he turned to wash in, but before he could finish and head out, Tessa was walking into the room with a clipboard and a pulling down the mask from her face, probably from another patient in the ER wing.

She exhaled sharply and said, “I’m glad you’re here, Novak.”

He paused because she looked... Flustered?  And that set him right off.

“What’s wrong?” Gabriel tried his damnedest to keep his cool, but Tessa never broke character.

She was always cool and collected.  That was one of the reasons he loved working ER with her.  The woman had a hell of a poker face and never showed signs of faltering.  But even though this was the barest of emotions, it spoke volumes to Gabriel.  And this...

He was reading this as frustration... Maybe even annoyance?

“Hey, talk to me!” He grabbed her shoulder and forced her attention.

“I was going to give her an injection of tPA because it seemed like she just started showing symptoms and was just rushed in.  Thank God Jo knew the parents and talked with them beforehand when they were prepping her for the CT because they changed their story and realized she started acting "off"  earlier today.  They said they thought she was tired because they went out to a movie.  Maggie was having confusion a bit after they got home so they told her to take a nap before dinner.  When they woke her up, she had difficulty speaking, couldn’t swallow her food, and was trying to eat with her left hand even though she‘s right handed.  It wasn’t until they, quote, "looked on the internet" that they realized she was having a damn stroke because of her heart condition.”

“Jesus Christ!”  Gabriel threw his hands in the air, “So it’s, what?  Five hours, six hours in?”

Tessa confirmed with furrowed brows and a terse nod.  “I think at this point-”

“There's a damn good chance we’re gonna have to go in to break up the blood clot.”  He sighed heavily and finished going through the motions. “Alright.  Did the results come back from the scan?  Do we know where the clot is?  Size?”

Tessa suggested quaintly in an attempt to regain her composure, “I’ll look over those right now.  By the time we have her prepped, we’ll know exactly what region of the brain it formed in and by her condition and my initial examination?  We will have to go in.”  She also added, “Jo’s telling them to gather the tools together right now in light of her late arrival.”

“I hate doing this to kids,” Gabriel was speaking to himself more than anyone, but Tessa was there to listen.  “Especially Maggie.”

“Hey, you’ve done this before,” she reminded him softly.  “It’s going to be fine.”

He didn’t even bother to fake a smile.  He just exhaled and entered the room to see the familiar face of the unconscious little girl in front of him.  He was gonna save her, dammit.  He wouldn’t forgive himself if he didn’t.

------------------

When Sam finally got the text just shy of midnight, he jumped.  But it wasn’t because he was asleep.  Hell no.  How was he going to fall asleep anytime soon?  So many things were happening.  Sleep was the very last thing on his mind.

He grabbed the phone up from the table where he’d decided to sit and watch TV since he wasn’t tired.  Not anymore.

Gabriel 11:54pm
She made it through surgery
Thank fucking god

He didn’t even know how worried he was until he breathed a sigh of relief.  It was for both the little girl and Gabriel.  Then he responded back:

Sam 11:56pm
What was it?
I’m glad she’s all right

Gabriel 11:58pm
She’s not out of the woods yet we won’t know if there’s any lasting damage until she wakes up
She had an ischemic stroke and her parents didn’t even fucking know til hours later
Had to go in through that poor girls’ femoral artery with a tube into her brain to blast through the clot and suck it out
Not gonna lie I was scared but it worked out

Sam 12:03am
Wow.  I’ve heard of that method being used for strokes before but I didn’t know you could use it with kids

Gabriel 12:05am
You wanna avoid it, but like I said parents got her in too late
Catch it soon enough you can stick em with some heavy duty blood thinners
Normal drugs wouldn’t do anything she’d had the clot too long

He wasn’t going to lie... Sam now had this ridiculous, newfound respect for his boyfriend, mixed in with a little bit of awe.  Sure, while Sam knew he himself could handle the stress of a courtroom, how could someone handle having another’s life literally in their hands?  The thought alone was staggering.

After all of this, Sam wanted to know one thing.

Sam 12:07am
Are you okay?

Gabriel 12:10am
I’m not the one with possible brain and mobility damage on the line, kiddo

Sam 12:12am
That’s not what I’m asking
I want to know about you because I care about you
So tell me if you’re okay since I can’t hear your voice or see you and know for myself

Gabriel 12:13am
I’ll live
I’m just exhausted
I think I’m gonna crash on a cot here and wait for her to wake up
I’m sorry I’ll probably be there in the morning if everything works out if you’ll still be there?

Sam 12:15am
Of course I will be
And I totally understand
I’ll be thinking about both of you
I love you

Gabriel 12:17am
Thank you
I mean it
Love you too

Sam slowly turned the phone away from him, but instead of setting it down, he turned the TV off as well.  The texts they’d exchanged had been heavy and Sam gave himself permission to let everything else fall away.  Fuck, he wished he could be there for Gabriel right now.

And now that he knew a little bit more, now that he could hear the way Gabriel delivered these words, he almost wondered…

The night Gabriel had crawled into his bed unannounced.  Maybe there was something that had gone bad at work that motivate his late night appearance?  After all, he’d made it clear that he just wanted to be with Sam.  The fact that he could offer Gabriel solace, a sense of safety, may be making Sam’s heart beat a little faster.

He had never given Gabriel enough credit and now that everything had fallen into place, he loved the man even more.  The hours, his schedule, the reason why he was done with casual dating... It all made sense.  And the fact that he’d decided Sam was worth investing everything in?  God, it meant something.

Although he knew his boyfriend wasn’t in the best place, Sam had a smile on his face because once he was back, he’d make it his mission to make Gabriel happy again.  He tumbled into the man’s bed alone and hoped when he woke up it would be to warm arms and a mischievous smile.  Seeing it in his dreams would have to do for now.

------------------

It was Jo gently squeezing his shoulder that woke Gabriel up.  She was sitting on the edge of the cot and ran a hand through his hair, trying to tame it back into place.

“Maggie’s up.  Same place they moved her in ICU.”  Although Gabriel darted to his feet, Jo grabbed him before he got dizzy and soothed, “She’s groggy, but I think she’s gonna be okay, Gabe.  I snuck a peek over the charts.  She can move both her legs, left side’s fine although she’s having a bit of trouble with her right arm.  We're thinking it’s nothing a little rehab can’t fix.  She’s talking, even though it's not a lot, so it doesn’t look like there was any cognitive damage.  Goddamn, did we get lucky.”

“That’s friggin awesome.  We sure did.”  He blew out through his lips and mumbled, “What time is it?”

“Early as fuck.”  Jo tossed her ponytail over her shoulder.  “Also known as five a-friggin-m.”

“You wanna come with me?” Gabriel asked as he tried to smooth out the rumbled clothes and grabbed his white jacket.  “I’m sure she’d love to see you, too, ‘Jo-Jo.’”

“Hey, only Maggie can call me that!” Although her swat to his shoulder made a satisfying “thwack,” there was no venom in her voice.  “But I’d like that.  I’ll just hold a chart so it looks official, I think it’s Andrea who’s on duty right now.  I know she’s not my biggest fan.”

“Well, maybe, perhaps, that’s because you slept with her boyfriend...” he wiggled his eyebrows.  “Hussy.”

“Shut up,” she hissed.  “But it’s good to see you in a better mood.”

“I’ll be in a great mood, soon.”

They walked down the hallway into the ICU ward and towards where they’d left Maggie and her family post-op the night before.  Both her parents were crowded up against the bed, but the second the pair walked in, Maggie’s eyes lit up and she reached out to them with her left arm from where she was laying down.

“Hey little lady!” Gabriel greeted with an authentic smile.  He made sure to get close enough to her bedside so she didn’t try and sit up.  “You kicked some major butt last night, did you know that?”

She smiled and giggled as Gabriel took her hand, but didn’t say anything.  Just as Jo said, she was groggy, exhausted, but responsive. That was the important part.  

The nurse scooted around next to Gabriel and confirmed his sentiments, “Doc’s right.  You were a very brave girl last night.  We’re all very proud of you, Maggie.”

“Now,” Gabriel began as he addressed her parents.  He also continued to hold her hand because she wasn’t letting go any time soon. To feel her small warm (and strong) grip was a fucking beautiful thing.  He wouldn’t have it any other way.  “We’re gonna keep her in ICU for another day just to make sure the stoke’s completely run its course before we move her to another room for monitoring.  Then we’ll send our rehab specialist up here for her left arm because your window is around twenty days to get all the nerves working and the blood pumping back to that area.  We may have to increase the blood thinners.  Because of her DMC, she was already at risk for a stroke.  I thought we had that base covered, but we may have to kick up the dosage.”

Neither Jo nor Gabriel missed the way Maggie’s mother and father glanced at one another.  Although it began as a sheepish stolen moment, the woman’s face suddenly turned into shame as she seemed to have realization.

“We-” she couldn’t look Gabriel in the eyes.

He waited patiently, but Jo apparently wasn’t waiting any longer.  She prompted both of them, “What?  Is there something we need to know about?  If it’s pertinent to Maggie’s treatment, this isn’t the time to hesitate to tell us something.”

Gabriel would have admonished Jo for being so bitchy slash pushy, but he was internally reeling from the next words uttered by Maggie’s father.

“Uh, we stopped the Warfarin a while back,” he gushed, finally having the guts to face the medical staff.  “When we took her to school, she’d come home with these bruises... We never knew if it was a side effect from the drugs or if she was getting hurt, and then-”

“We had a scare.”  The mother finally spoke with tears forming in her eyes.  “She was playing outside and she fell down in the gravel.  When we were trying to fix her up, t-the cut...  It just wouldn’t stop bleeding.  I mean, it was just a scraped knee, but what if-”

“Can I talk to you outside?” Gabriel pasted on a mask with an eerie smile.

Both the mom and dad hesitated but nodded and stood up, turning the corner.

Gabriel turned back to Maggie and brushed her bangs off her forehead.  “I’ll be right back, sweetheart.  Jo’s gonna keep you company, okay?  Now, don’t get into trouble while I’m gone.  Wait, and then we can get into trouble together. It’ll be more fun that way!”

She tittered and finally released Gabriel’s hand.  He blew her a kiss and winked.  Still, before he could turn and face the couple, Jo lashed out and grabbed his bicep with a deadly force.  When he turned to face her, there was a fire in both their eyes, but it was Jo who seemed to have the clearer head.

“Don’t flip out.  Remember: you’re a professional.  No matter how stupid they were,” she hissed it in his ear before she released him.

It took a centering breath and a thankful nod to Jo before he joined them in the hallway.

He tried so damn hard to remember her words because, yes, he was the professional.  They should have fucking listened to him because he was the professional, but they didn't and it could have cost them their fucking daughter’s life.  When he approached them, he released his clenched jaw, but didn’t bother faking a smile any longer.

“Mr. and Mrs. Shawn.”  Gabriel shoved his hands in his pockets because he didn’t know what to do with them (hell, if this was around fifteen years ago he may be winding up for a punch), but he knew damn certain he had both adult’s full attention.  “Maggie’s medications.  I don’t feed her pills for the sheer fun of it.  Your daughter has a very serious condition.  I know you know that.  We’re trying to keep stabilized until we can get her a new heart.”

“Yes, of course.”  The mother nodded adamantly. “It’s just... What if she had cut herself somewhere else?  Seeing all that blood-”

“And, imagine!  What if it clotted and made its way to her brain and gave her a freakin’ stroke?”  Gabriel countered and couldn’t hold his tongue any longer, “They’re called anticoagulants for a reason!  Her diagnosis makes her susceptible to clots in the heart that go right to her noggin.  Like I said, each and every thing I do for Maggie is because I want her to have a fighting chance.  I need her to have a fighting chance.  You can’t pick and choose which meds you want her on because your knowledge goes as far as what you can Google!  How many years have I been working with you?  Have I ever given you a reason to doubt me?”

Both had dropped jaws and even though Gabriel felt little to no remorse, he felt the “right” thing to do would be apologize.  But he couldn’t bring himself to do it.  He was so filled with an unfiltered kind of rage.

He just couldn’t get over the fact that this could have been prevented.  

It wasn’t a freak accident.  It was a lack of judgment.

Just then, he remembered why he had decided to rerun the test results on her blood work.  Because, with the Warfarin, you needed to keep a close eye on certain levels in the blood.  And her results had been perfect... Which made him think he'd been worried about nothing.  

Turns out they were too fucking perfect.  It all made sense now because she wasn’t even on the goddamn medication.  His gut had been right after all.

“Listen,” he dialed it back because what was important was that Maggie was alive.  “I’m doing everything in my power for your daughter, minus harvesting some organs like a vigilante from some poor sap and throwing them in a bathtub on ice.  We need to work together.  Do you trust me?”

It was the mother who broke first, tears dripping down her face as she nodded over and over, “I’m so sorry, Doctor Novak.  We should have asked!  We never should have-”

“We’ve gotta be a team,” Gabriel addressed them calmly, some of the fight draining from him.  “We’ll work her back up to her previous dosage and you’ll be strong.  I know she’s rough and tumble.  She’s just got that spirit that can’t be tamed.  And that’s good news.  So just remember all the tricks I taught you about wrapping any cuts because Band-Aids just don’t cut it, okay?”

“Yes, of course.  Thank you.” It was the father who reached out to shake Gabriel’s hand. “For saving her last night.  We don’t know what we-”

“Don’t sweat it.  Just take good care of her until I see her next and every day I don’t.  Don’t let her get riled up.  Take the rehab seriously.  Stick to the rules.”  He turned the shake and sighed, “I’ll say goodbye to the princess and let you have time with her.”

Gabriel spun around and noticed the couple wasn’t quick to follow.  He knew they were undoubtedly speaking between themselves about how their poor decisions had nearly cost Maggie her life and Gabriel didn’t feel an ounce of sympathy.  Maybe it was because he was a dick.  Maybe it was because he fucking hated people who thought they knew better and questioned the specialists right and left.  It didn’t matter because he had someone special to say bye to.

Where he returned, Jo was crouched at Maggie’s level, speaking animatedly at her and both looked thoroughly entertained.  The blonde caught his entrance out of the corner of her eye and shot him a look that read, “How did it go?”  Gabriel flashed her a thumbs up, stealing one of the seats and scooting right beside the girl.

Her smile was sleepy, mostly due to the pain meds and the after effects of the stroke, but sincere and innocent.

“Whattya say I bring you a present once you’re out of this boring room?”  He leaned in close. “’Cause these rooms are pretty lame, huh?”

She looked around at the sterile glass, wires, and machinery and nodded her agreement.

“Now, I don’t know if I can sneak you in any chocolate, but what’s your favorite kind of flower?” Gabriel launched into, “You’ve gotta have one of those, right?  Unless you like weeds?  Did you know dandelions are weeds?”

She looked surprised and shook her head, but slowly pointed at Jo.

“You like Jo?  C’mon, I can bring her anytime!  I’m talking about something special!”  He poked her lightly in the shoulder.

“I think she’s talking about my earrings, dummy,” Jo huffed at the doctor, “Do you like roses, Maggie?”

Her face lit up when she said the word.

“Shoot!” Gabriel crossed his arms. “You’re maturing quick these days.  Girls aren’t supposed to like roses until a boy asks them out on a date.  Or does something stupid and then shows up with roses to make the girl forgive ‘im.”  He leaned forward and whispered, “Yer growing up too fast, kid, but if you want roses?  I’ll bring you roses.”

She lethargically attempted to clap her hands together, but frowned when her right didn’t quite make it to her left.  So Gabriel lifted his own and gave her a high-five and that made her face lit up.  At least Gabriel could reassure her a little bit.

“I’ll come visit very soon, Maggie.  You be good until then!” He stood up and waved, right as her parents were walking in.

“Thank you again, Doctor Novak,” Mrs. Shawn urged, finally having collected herself and taken her seat once more.

“Yep.”  Gabriel popped the p and Jo followed him out.

While they were walking down the hall towards the lockers, where Gabriel’s real clothes were, Jo couldn’t help but ask, “So how hard did you chew their asses out?”

He snorted and linked their arms together, “God, I wished I could have unleashed the beast.  But if I did and they took Maggie to another specialist?  I couldn’t live with myself.   Only reason I behaved.  Oh, and your resting bitch face.  That’s another reason.”

“Good to know,” she scoffed, but laughed a bit.

“Speaking of bitchfaces, I’ve got one waiting in my bed for me,” Gabriel mused aloud.  “Well, if he’s still there since we were just getting to the good stuff when I had the ultimate buzzkill of my career and love life.  There’s a fifty-fifty chance he stayed.”

“Wait,” Jo paused and stared at him. “Did I call you when you were-?”

“Oh, yeah.  Full frontal, baby.”

“I did not need to know that.”  She wiped a hand down her face, but couldn’t help but pry, “So you’re official?”

“Officially off the market, yes.  As long as he sticks around for shit like this.”  Gabriel chewed on his lips for a second before shrugged. “And I hope to God he does.  I’m totally gone on the kid, Jo.  No fuckery involved.”

“Wow.”  She hummed thoughtfully, “Congrats, though.  When do I get to meet him?”

“We’ll see.” Gabriel spun her around in a circle.  “I gotta get home and evaluate the situation.  Then, perhaps, I’ll let you into the fold.”

“Yeah?”  She chuckled and turned to the women’s doorway.  “I gotta get my ass home, too.  Long shift.  But...we did good, Gabe.”

“Yeah.” Their eye contact lingered for a second.  “We did.  We make a good team, Harvelle.”

-----------------

When Gabriel finally made it home, he noticed Sam’s jacket was still hanging in the entry way.  Unlike Sam’s apartment, where sometimes even the key in the lock was enough to wake someone, Gabriel had the advantage of his bedroom being upstairs.  He knew he hadn’t woken his boyfriend yet, and for a second, he glanced to the couch and deliberated whether he should continue to let Sam sleep or not.

The kid had been getting up so damn early for all his study sessions.  Gabriel almost wanted him to have an uninterrupted night of sleep, but, dammit, if Gabriel wasn’t feeling a little bit selfish right then.

He peeled his jacket off.  His joints ached from sleeping on the friggin hospital cot all wrong and his muscles were sore from tension.  His shoes were already off and he was trudging up the stairs in the blink of an eye.  But still, he paused outside the door.

It was ajar and he could see the man’s peaceful form smack dab in the middle of the large bed.  It almost made Gabriel laugh because Sam had most definitely planned it out that way.  Since, if he slept there, there was no way Gabriel could slip in undetected.  He’d know when the man was home the second he pulled back the sheets.

Although Gabriel wouldn’t have minded a shower, he could do that when he finally got up.  Right now, it was clear Sam wanted him there and he returned the sentiment more than the other man knew.

He removed the rest of his clothing as quietly as he could then crept over to his side of the bed, the one he always claimed at Sam’s too.  It appeared like the feeling had followed him home.  Just like he’d expected, the moment his hands grasped the comforter, Sam groggily began moving and tried to open his heavy eyelids.

This time he chuckled out loud, knowing there was no need to hide his presence.  In a soft voice, he climbed under the sheets and pressed himself against Sam’s warm body, teasing him lightly, “Hey.  Move over, Sasquatch.”

“You’re home.”  His voice was hoarse from sleep, but radiating happiness, “Good.”

Although Sam had yet to move, besides grabbing Gabriel’s arms and looping them around his stomach, he didn’t care.  He never realized how much he needed this until the time was upon him.  

Gabriel pulled the covers over them and confirmed, “Yeah, I’m home.  Sorry I ruined date night.”

“You’ll make up for it,” Sam said with confidence and raised Gabriel’s hand to kiss his knuckles.  “I’m just glad you’re here.”

“Me too.”  He couldn’t help but breathe in the man’s scent and kiss his shoulder, reveling in the moment and allowing the exhaustion to set in now that he was back.  “Keep sleeping.  I’m joining.”

Sam didn’t verbally respond so much as he made an affirmative noise, lowered Gabriel’s arm, and squeezed him.  His body slowly relaxed again, weight sinking into the mattress, and Gabriel knew he was off in dreamland again.  He closed his eyes and scooted just a little bit closer so their bodies were perfectly flush.  It felt so damn good that it took no time at all for Gabriel to fall asleep curled around him.

-------------------------

The first thing Gabriel noticed when he finally stirred awake was the fact that he could feel eyes on him.  It wasn’t unnerving by any means. It was...interesting.

Instead of going through the motions of waking up, he grumbled, “How long?”

“Huh?” Sam’s voice was clear and confused.

“How long ya been conscious and creepin’?”  He reached out blindly to find the man and haul him close.

Except it didn’t work. The next thing he knew, a warm body was draped over top of him and the words, “I wasn’t creeping,” were brushed against his neck, along with the slight pressure of lips.

It was a very, very nice “Good morning.”

Gabriel practically purred as Sam’s teeth grazed his throat and sucked gently at his skin before kissing the hinge of his jaw.  He trailed the kisses from Gabriel’s cheek, to his forehead, brushed their noses together before he finally sealed their lips.  And by the way Sam was kissing him, Gabriel still had zero motivation and no reason whatsoever to open his eyes.

So he took in the sensations of Sam’s toned chest pressing against his and his gentle fingers knotting in his hair.  God, this was exactly what he needed.  It wasn’t long before Gabriel could no longer resist and had to rake his nails from his boyfriend’s shoulder blades all the way down to grab his ass.  The rest of Sam’s weight collapsed, their pelvis’ crashing together, and it drew a moan from both men.

“Mm... Always be my alarm clock, please,” Gabriel whispered against Sam’s cheek.  “Best way to wake up ever.”

With a chuckle and a downright filthy, wet kiss, Sam countered with, “This isn’t a wake-up call.  I thought we could pick up where we left off...” and he pulled away, just out of reach.

It was finally enough reason for Gabriel to open his eyes and what hovered in front of him was Sam watching him with hungry, lustful eyes.  If this wasn’t seduction at its finest, Gabriel didn’t know what was.

Apparently, he’d taken too long to respond because Sam rocked their hips together, still looming over Gabriel with that spark and intensity.  It took Gabriel’s breath away and he arched upward to get the friction back, never breaking eye contact because, fuck, Sam was beautiful like this.

“So you were waiting.” Gabriel cupped Sam’s cheek and ran his thumb along the man’s bottom lip.  With a quirked and equally impish smile, he purred, “You must want it pretty bad, huh?  So patient and obedient.”

Sam snagged Gabriel’s thumb with his teeth and pulled it into his mouth, circling his tongue before popping off.  “Got me all worked up and left.  For good reason, yeah... But my dick doesn’t know that.”

“Touché.”  He was completely enthralled by the way Sam was responding to his touch.

When he ran his fingers down Sam's neck, he’d lengthen and bared it for Gabriel.  When he reached lower, he curved his spine to accommodate whatever the man wanted to do to him.  Sam was right.  His body was needy and Gabriel’s cock was throbbing over the display.

“Jesus, you’re gorgeous,” he made sure Sam’s eye were on his when he pronounced the words, and instead of shying away, Sam raised an eyebrow.

“How about you stop looking and start touching?”

“Cheeky.” Gabriel’s hand darted up to grab the base of Sam’s throat which caused the younger man a sharp intake of breath while his hips bucked against Gabriel’s.  Then he realized and mused aloud, “You like that, don’t you?”

“M-maybe.”  This was the first time Sam had looked unsure.

And Gabriel thought it was adorable.

He used his grasp and shifted his arm to flip Sam over to the mattress and took a more active role.  His self-control was weaning and Sam looked too fucking delicious not to take advantage of.  Besides, he had started it and now Gabriel was ready to play.  Especially because it looked like Sam wanted to play hard.

There was no panic in his eyes as he was pinned to the bed.  If anything, he was looking even more aroused than before with Gabriel’s hand still holding him steady by his neck.  He kicked away the blankets and took advantage of the daylight to take in the sight of Sam’s needy body under him.  All that separated them were their boxers and even though Gabriel had felt how hard Sam was, he could now bask in the vision of his erection straining against the fabric.

Once Sam began complaining again, Gabriel muffled his words with a lewd, raw kiss.  The kind that made you fight to keep your breath or you’d get dizzy, even though both were already pretty dazed from the way Gabe had begun rutting their hips together.

He didn’t hesitate to grab a fistful of Sam’s hair and tug, just on the right side of rough, causing Sam to whimper and clutch at Gabe’s wrist.  In fact, Sam was making all kinds of beautiful noises as he responded to the fearless advances.  Gabriel wished he could keep taking him apart just like this, but he knew there were better ways to do it...

And he knew the boxers had to go.

He pushed off Sam just long enough to fall back to his haunches and rip the last bit of clothes from the man’s body, leaving him completely exposed and laid out in front of him.  Gabriel couldn’t help but take that second to memorize every tanned, flexing muscle from his heaving chest, his swollen lips, and the outline of teeth marks he hadn’t even realized he left.

Instead of snaking back up Sam’s body, he pitched forward enough to hold him down with his forearm and reached to the nightstand where neither had put the lube away from the night before.  The sharp intake of breath when Gabriel settled between his legs was music to his ears as he coated his fingers.

Knowing Sam was in a bold and cheeky mood, he teased a finger around the man’s opening and couldn’t help but taunt, “Did you use your hand when I left last night?  Or your fingers?”

Sam’s hips rocked forward as Gabriel easily pushed two digits inside him and groaned out, “Neither.  Wanted it to be your cock.”

“That’s why you’re so eager, isn’t it?  I‘m proud of you.”  He mused aloud, happily sliding in another finger because Sam was still loose from the previous night.  “You been thinking about it this whole time?”

“God yes-” It was more of a rushed whimper than a word because Gabriel had easily found his prostate.  “More, please!  I‘m ready.”

“Not yet.”  Gabriel still remembered how he’d wanted to rush it last night, but he needed to make sure Sam really was good and ready first.

And if the lingering tightness wrapped around his fingers was anything to go by, Sam wasn’t prepared yet.  Although he’d been fingering him with zeal, he used a little gentler touch when he soothed in the fourth finger.  Sam’s hole clenched around him, his body seizing up just a little, and Gabriel slowed his hand.  He knew something that would distract Sam pretty damn well, though because it was distracting him the whole time since it was at eye level.

Sam’s dick was covered, dripping in precum, and Gabriel leaned up just enough to greedily lap it off then sucked him into his mouth.  That made him buck up, something Gabriel was prepared for, and he’d relaxed his throat for Sam’s cock to fuck into.  His hands shot down and grabbed Gabriel’s hair, arching up into the tight heat as he took all of him over and over.

It was then that Gabriel could now move his fingers easily in and out of Sam’s hole and he knew he was ready.  When he drew away all the sensations at once, Sam cursed and Gabriel clucked his tongue in an admonishment as he pulled off his boxers (about damn time) and snatched up the lube again.

“Tell me, Sammy...” He aimed for casual even though his erection was throbbing and aching from neglect.  “If you’ve been thinking about this for so long, how do you want it?”

Sam’s eyes were hazed over with visceral need and he was too winded to respond right away.  So Gabriel raised an eyebrow and deliberately made a show of slicking and fisting his cock.  Just when Sam opened his mouth to respond, Gabriel made the choice for him.

He already knew that Sam apparently loved being manhandled and pushed to his limits, so Gabriel used that idea to motivate him.  He flipped his boyfriend over, ass in the air.  God, he wanted to give Sam everything and if this was one of his things that made him tick?  Gabriel would gladly take over the situation, and Sam, completely.

Sam yelped in surprise but didn’t miss a beat, spreading his legs in a wanton display and ordered, “If you’re not fucking me in the next-”

But Gabriel didn’t miss a beat either.  He had already lined up with Sam’s hole, making him forget his words mid-sentence because he was already sinking into his body.  And, holy hell, did it feel amazing.

When their bodies were finally connected, Sam was gasping his name and Gabriel was thanking God they’d already had the awkward condom conversation because feeling Sam wrapped around him so completely like this?  Words couldn’t do it justice.  He could practically feel his boyfriend’s heartbeat through his dick.  He was still so goddamn tight.  He hoped Sam was ready for this.

Because Gabriel needed this. He needed Sam more than he could explain.

He didn’t need to wait very long because after a shuddered huff, Sam demanded, “Gabe, move!” through a hoarse throat.

Gabriel would gladly oblige.

He rolled his hips before pulling out and snapping them forward again.  For all his talk, Sam couldn’t do much besides grasp desperately at a pillow until Gabriel found his sweet spot.  That was what spurred him on and got him fucking himself back onto Gabriel’s cock with each of his thrusts forward.

The moment when Sam began bucking against him tore a moan from Gabriel’s lungs and he knew he wouldn’t last much longer.

It wasn’t just because they were both blue-balled last night.  It was the fact that they’d been waiting, basically the entire time they’d known each other, to break this boundary.  Sam had asked him to come in with him on the first night and Gabriel had said no.  He’d explained why they needed to wait and the build-up for this moment had been months in the making.

The longest session of foreplay in the history of the universe.  Or, at least, Gabriel’s universe.

But it meant so much more now.  Although everything was carnal and full of need, they’d already hurdled past love.  This wasn’t just sex.  They were coming together as two people who had committed to each other, who loved each other, and who, Gabriel had no doubt, had a future together.

Shit, just the thought of how much he loved this man made his heart fit to burst and he began pumping into Sam with a new vigor.  It was a different kind of energy, whether Sam felt it the change or not didn’t matter.  All Gabriel wanted was to bring Sam pleasure and when he went to reach for his cock-

Sam was already in the throes of his orgasm.  A shockwave visibly rolled through his spine and Gabriel felt the wet, hot cum on his hand before he could even touch him.  One of the things Gabriel was addicted to was that Sam never bothered to muffle anything. He was unapologetically vocal when he came and it never failed to send a rush through Gabriel.

Not to mention the already almost-too-tight body was squeezing his cock impossibly more.  Sam didn’t even stop moving when his own ecstasy was over.  He just kept pushing back, even more violently than before, onto Gabriel’s cock and that was all it took.

Gabriel doubled over and wrapped himself over Sam as he filled him with cum, biting and sucking kisses into his back because every connection he could make was suddenly so important.  He rode it out, hips still lazily rolling into Sam until the man overlapped his arms with Gabriel’s and squeezed.  With a deep, centering breath, Gabriel pulled out and didn’t miss the fact that Sam flinched.

Knowing they’d need a shower and a fresh set of sheets anyway, Gabriel tackled them both to clean(ish) side of the bed and kissed Sam square on the lips.

Even when he pulled away, Sam's smile was adorable and goofy.  Gabriel had to ask, “Are you okay?  I wasn’t too rough, was I?”

“Nah,” he shook his head, but added as an afterthought, “I’ll probably be sore, but in a good way.”

“Probably?”  Gabriel echoed with a waggle of his eyebrows.

“Yeah?”  Sam shrugged his shoulders and then just nonchalantly threw in, “It was my first time,” like it was no big deal.

Gabriel’s eyes doubled in size and he reached out to grab him with more force than he’d intended as he spat out, “What?!”

It was then that Sam rolled his eyes and tried to playfully say, “Don’t be so dramatic.  You heard me.”

“But-” He was at a loss for words.  Well, almost.  “Sam, you should have told me!  We should have made it more special or something!  I could have-”

“It was special.”  Both Sam’s hands reached out and cupped his flabbergasted boyfriend’s face.  “I thought you knew all this.”  Then, with the tilt of his head he said, “You do know you’re the first guy I’ve been with, right?”

As if his bafflement couldn’t have grown, it sure as hell did.  “Um.  No.”  He reached up and softly placed his hands over Sam’s and asked in confusion, “You didn’t think to mention that?  You acted so...sure of everything.  I couldn’t have known!”

“Because I was sure of you.”  Sam’s voice had dropped just shy of a whisper, “Gabe, I love you.  You know that.  And it’s special because it’s with you.  I don’t need anything romantic or overly sappy because that’s not us.  You know that.”

“Jesus,” he couldn’t help but hiss out, mostly to himself for not seeing it.

But how could he have?  Sam was confident.  He was forward and downright seductive on any given day.  And it wasn’t like he was playing a part - he was being himself.  So the words must have been true: he must have been sure about them, but Gabriel still couldn’t help but feel bad about it.

“I just...I wish I would’ve know.”  Then he shook his head and joked, “Maybe I wouldn’t have shoved you around as much or something.”

“But that’s the part I liked,” Sam raised a mischievous eyebrow.

“The only part?”  Gabriel quipped back right away.

“Well, there were some other highlights, I guess.”

“You’re such a little asshole.”  He narrowed his eyes and closed the distance between them, kissing the hell out of his sneaky boyfriend.  “You’re lucky I love you.  Next round, I’m taking it easy on you.  Easier .”

“I’m calling bullshit,” Sam snickered and continued kissing him back.  “You wouldn’t have done anything differently!  Just admit it.”

“Nuh-uh.  I totally would have.”  Gabriel pulled away from him, just to press their foreheads together.

Sam sighed and then confessed, “I…uh.  Didn’t really mention it because I thought you’d put it off... Even longer, or something.  Because you’re too nice like that.”

There was a pause where Gabriel just sat with that information and wondered what exactly he would have done.  After all, Sam usually had more insight when it had to do with him than Gabriel did sometimes.

Finally Gabriel hummed out, “False.”

Which prompted Sam’s, “Oh yeah?”

“Mmhm.  Can’t get enough of you, kid.  Keeping my hands to myself would take way too much energy, especially with you waking me up all hot and bothered like that.”  He could feel the massive grin on his own face. “But next time?  We’ll switch things up, I wanna do right by you and not have some horny morning fuck, which was awesome, by the way.  But...we’ll try something different.”

“Okay.”  There was a smile in Sam’s voice, too.  So much that Gabriel could feel the warmth.

“Do you wanna get cleaned up and I’ll cook some breakfast?”  He asked then pressed a kiss to Sam’s forehead.

“After we lay here a little longer.”  Sam tangled their legs together, then snorted out, “I don’t know if I can walk right away.”

“Godammit.”

“Shh, don’t even start that crap.”

-------------------------

The morning was fantastic and Sam wasn’t lying about having to strain a little to get to the shower.  But once he was washing away the sweat and cum from his body, he was also working himself up into a different mindset.

When he was woken up, he knew he had to be there for Gabriel and he knew his boyfriend needed sleep.  Then, when they’d woken up the second time, Sam knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he needed his boyfriend.

Being so fucking close the night before had lit a fire in his belly and while it dimmed down, waking up next to Gabriel had been an entirely different story.

If things had gone south with Gabriel’s patient, he would have never considered it.  But Gabriel’s text had said he wasn’t going to come home until everything was all right so the fact that he was next to Sam in bed meant things had worked out.

Then Sam figured if he made moves on Gabriel and he wasn’t in the right headspace, he’d stop him.  But he didn’t - and finally, finally, Sam got what he’d been craving for so long.  On so many levels.  It wasn’t about sex.  It was about intimacy.  It was about the final barrier of their relationship being broken.  And now, there was nothing but open road for them.  And, quite frankly, the sex was fucking awesome.

While Sam may have been just a little nervous, the attraction, the craving, the need to be with Gabriel trumped it all.  Especially after the tease he’d had the night before.  

But now, Sam was changing gears.  Completely.

Sure, they, as a couple, were clear skies and smooth sailing, but one thing still needed to be addressed.  And maybe it was a dick move to seduce Gabriel right before the inevitable, but he was thinking with not just his dick that morning, but his heart.  His brain had no part of it and he hoped it didn’t backfire.

No, he wouldn’t let it backfire.  He refused.

Sam finally got out of the shower and dug into the duffle bag he’d packed to stay at Gabriel’s that weekend, opting for a pair of flannel pants and a t-shirt for now.  He had no doubt Gabriel had some kind of adventure planned for the two of them, but he’d stay in his comfortable clothes until then.

When he walked out into the kitchen, his boyfriend was already plating scrambled eggs and bacon with orange juice setting out on the table.  He whistled the second he saw Sam.  He’d commented before on how good those pants made his ass look.  So what, if that’s why he’d packed them?

Sam shook his head and took a seat at the table where Gabriel was already setting down their plates.

“So,” Gabriel led in, grabbing his fork, “Ya make it out all right?  No ‘I‘ve fallen and I can‘t get up?’”

“I’m here, aren’t I?”  He rolled his eyes and reached for the orange juice.  “You’re such a dick.”

“Well, to be fair my dick is-”

Sam swiftly maneuvered the bacon from his grasp into Gabriel’s mouth.  “You’re much more handsome when you shut up.”

Gabriel over-dramatically faked a pout, but politely chewed and swallowed because Sam always nagged at him about good manners and shit.  “I was just gonna say, my huge-”

“Is this a ploy to get me to feed you?”  He accused and Gabriel countered with a shit-eating grin.

Sam began to laugh and he was actually starving, so he ate the meal in record time.  It was an unwritten rule that whoever cooked was free of dish-duty, so Sam cleared the plates without any hesitation and smiled.

Then, when he was finished rinsing them off and they were tucked away in the dishwasher, he turned around leaned against the counter.  With curiosity as to why Sam hadn’t come back, Gabriel peered over, but Sam’s voice smoothly cut him off from any inquires or flirtations, which was what he knew was coming next.

Besides, it was Sam’s turn to start in anyways and he was going to take it.

“You know what?  I would have known sooner if I had taken you at your word.  That you were a doctor and not a nurse.”  Sam laughed at himself and shook his head. “But I really gotta wonder, with the crazy hours that you work, was it a joke or do you really moonlight as a stripper?”  He raised a challenging eyebrow and locked his gaze in with Gabriel’s in a way that confused the other man.

“Uh, I’m not sure what we’re talking about, but if you want a striptease I’m sure I can arrange that for round two...” Gabriel winked because he felt uncomfortable under the intensity of his boyfriend’s stare and this question out of left field.

Sam stood up and crossed the kitchen with confident strides, pulling Gabriel to his feet as he mused, “Or maybe it should have clicked when you mentioned your hero being Loki, the Trickster God.”

While the proximity didn’t bother him, the words did and that caused the man to tilt his head, “How did you know that?  Where is this coming from?  What's ‘it?’  Did I accidentally fuck your brains out?”

When he exposed his neck, Sam outright laughed and he trailed his fingertips over a mark he’d sucked into the tender skin that was bruising an array of reds and blues, commenting almost under his breath, “Less Twilight, more True Blood,” before he pressed his lips to the mark and drew a shiver out of Gabriel.

But then, the man froze in place, even when Sam sucked his earlobe into his mouth to make him relax.  Finally, fucking finally, the light bulb had flickered on.  He knew because Gabriel swore under his breath and put two hands on Sam’s chest, pushing him away and staring at him with wide eyes.  He looked terrified.

“Wait- how?”  He was grasping at words even though Sam was smirking at him.

The differences in their energies were day and night, probably because Sam had a much longer time to sit with the discovery.  Sam had let the baffling realization sink in and put all the pieces together.  Gabriel had been smacked upside the head with the information and it was playing all over his features like he was watching a goddamn movie.

Gabriel narrowed his eyebrows and he breathlessly asked, “...Cameron?

“Rich,” he acknowledged with a head nod, then sighed, “We’re kind of dense, aren’t we?”

“When did you know?  Why didn’t you bring this up sooner?!"  With a few staggered steps backwards, Gabriel began pacing and side-eyeing Sam incredulously.  “Wait.  So you mean all this time...” he huffed and finally halted his movements. “I’ve been dating you in real life and fuckin’ crushing on you online?  For months?”

“Hey, it was just as crazy to me, too!  And...this was the first time that made sense to bring it up!” Sam raised his hands defensively in front of him.  “One day Dean saw someone was using my picture on Tinder.  I got riled up, messaged Cas because I knew he’d never use the app, and asked if I could use his picture to create a fake account to figure out who the hell was catfishing people.  I didn’t think I’d enjoy talking to you...” He shook his head and snorted.  “I literally just put two and two together last night...”

Gabriel was still stunned, so Sam continued:

“I, uh, never mentioned the real story because I thought it was a shitty move in general.  But on the bright side, with that account, I totally catfished my brother with my profile to get him together with Cas.  It was an accident, but the results are what matter, right?”  Sam shot him a half-smile and shrugged.  “But... Yeah... Even though I told myself I was just trying to figure out who you were, I knew that was an excuse in the end.”

“Jesus Christ on a stick,” Gabriel sputtered out, “I was trying to figure out who was using Cas’ picture!  And it was you, you little shit?!”  But then he gushed out, “Thank God.  Because... Even though this is ridiculous as all hell, I’m so fucking happy it’s you.”  

Gabriel physically deflated like a balloon, staring at Sam with grateful eyes as the weight left his tense body.  He chewed on his lip as he begrudgingly confessed, “I’m so goddamn glad it’s you because, uh, yeah.  I liked talking to you, Cameron-you, but felt like a cheating asshole for doing it even though we weren’t doing anything.  You were there, so you know... This is so fuckin’ weird... But I probably knew I was in love with you, real you, before I said it and anything with anyone else felt wrong.  Even with fake-Cas-you.”

They began laughing and finally Gabriel felt like the time for his anxiety attack had gone and went.

So Sam couldn’t help but quote, “You’re kind of an ass.”

To which Gabriel naturally responded, “With a great ass,” before he decided he hated the distance and needed to get his hands on Sam and kiss him for so many damn reasons.

Chapter Text

After dinner, Sam’s SOS of a call to Cas and their collective “Fucking finally! ” exclamations of relief, Dean and Cas easily fell into bed together and Dean couldn’t be happier.  He’d already been expecting the almost brutal, but equally passionate, sex after the week of studying that Cas had endured and it did just as much good for Dean, taking him to that other place.  When they were together like that, everything was fucking perfect.  There wasn’t a worry in universe and the rest of the world slipped away.

But unfortunately, that didn’t mean that, even though he was thoroughly worn out afterwards, those stupid thoughts he’d had before wouldn't keep him up later than usual.

He...didn’t want to lose this.

Before, when he’d thought of the ramifications of their future, or lack of, he’d been alone with this thoughts.  Now that he had Cas wrapped around him and he was surrounded by the man’s body heat?  His grim outlook straight-up fucking hurt.  He’d hoped the distraction would carry through the weekend.  He’d hoped he wouldn’t have to deal with it because they’d be together, but the impending bar exam made everything so much more real and it was coming up faster than he wanted.

Which was why Dean was savoring all these moments while he could.

While Cas was passed out, his breaths coming out in shallow puffs against Dean’s neck, he tried to snap-shot all these little memories (it wasn't as creepy as it sounded).  Maybe he was just trying to soak in as much detail as he could while he still had time...

Okay, okay... It wasn't creepy.  It was fucking pathetic.

He hoped his stupid teenage girl heartache didn’t bleed into the mood tomorrow because these weekends with Cas were what he looked forward to the entire goddamn week.  He didn’t want to ruin it.  He didn’t want to bring up the end until they were actually there.  Why spoil the rest of the good times, right?

Then it had him wondering briefly about his brother.  

Not in a weird way or anything.

Just... He hadn’t seen Sam happy like that since...

Well...  Ever.  

And Sam was the kind of person who figured out a way to make things work.  He was smart like that.  And now that the wool was about to be ripped from both their dumbass eyes, they’d either be wary about the situation or even more sickeningly in love than before.  Dean would place his bets on the latter.

His little brother could very well get his happy ending.  He could make it work, make it happen.  And as elated as Dean was for him, he felt the slight sting of jealousy.

He knew he and Cas had something, but the whole issue was that it was “something.”  

It wasn’t labeled.  Maybe if there was a concrete, binding word they could be lumped into, he wouldn’t be so friggin insecure.  Instead, he felt like he was internally floundering because Cas was the one who had the steadfast assurance and Dean now knew he himself was lacking.  Cas had always been the one to take the lead and maybe it was Dean’s entire massive, giant mistake to give him that power.

Because that was what this really had always been about.

“Letting Cas take care of him.”

In the process, he’d given him trust and he’d given him control.  Dean had never handed over a modicum of either of those in his life.  

He was OCD as fuck. The need for control showed in his work and in his habits and now, he’d lost it at the worst time with the worst thing.  

His heart.

Maybe he was an idiot for getting himself into this mess in the first place.

He tried not to tense up, not to wake Cas up.  He did that stupid yoga breathing Charlie forced him to do after dealing with shitty clients and meetings.  Dean tried to ease the pinch out of his clenched eyelids and sink back into the mattress.  His body was boneless and exhausted.  Straining it anymore was a stupid idea and he should just enjoy the feel of a nice, thorough afterglow.

Sleep, he reminded himself.  He needed to sleep.

There wasn’t a reason in the world he shouldn’t be doing that, because everything was out of his hands anyway.  He’d get nothing accomplished by stewing, other than working himself up for nothing or setting himself up for disaster.  It was the hardest thing that night, but Dean eventually “reasoned” himself to bed.

------------------

The thing that woke Castiel up was his phone vibrating on the nightstand.  Then he noticed that there was no longer the amazing heat of his lover next to him anymore.  He could only fix one of those things at the moment so he reached to grab the phone and squinted at the message.

It wasn’t the contents that surprised him (which happened to be Sam saying everything worked out, which he was confident about in the first place).  It was the fact that it was after eleven and he couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept in this late.  He must have been working himself harder than he thought.  Or, he thought with a smirk, maybe he had worked himself harder last night than he thought.

Regardless, even though he felt rested, he could feel the beginning of a caffeine headache coming on since usually he would've taken his first sip around seven and by now, he would've had at least three cups in him.

Cas didn’t have any reason to silently creep anywhere since Dean wasn’t passed out by his side, so he threw back the covers and walked to one of the drawers where he had a pair of sweatpants stashed.  Although he also had a t-shirt, he grinned and opted to steal one of Dean’s rather than his own.  

After all, the old well-worn and well-loved band tees were soft against his skin and Dean always seemed amused by the choice of Cas holding his clothes ransom.  One drunken night, he’d actually confessed he found it sexy so maybe that was the real reason Castiel was doing it.  To get a reaction.

When he walked down the stairs, the smell of coffee made him sigh happily and he found Dean on his laptop, attention completely captivated.  Cas tilted his head to the side and made a circle to snake around on Dean from the back.

He leaned down and asked, “How long have you been up?” before he playfully nipped at Dean’s neck.

The man jerked and then snapped his attention behind him, finally seeing that Cas was in the room and sputtered, “Jesus!  You scared me!”

With a laugh and a shake of his head, Castiel ruffled Dean’s hair and pointed out, “I wasn’t exactly sneaking around,” then headed towards the coffee.  “What are you working on?” he asked over his shoulder.

“Just responding to a few emails,” he replied back absently.  “You were out like the dead, dude.  I’m glad you were able to sleep.  You deserve it, you know.”

Cas had his hand around a mug when he repeated, “You still didn’t tell me how long you’ve been awake.”

“Eh,” he muttered noncommittally, “didn’t really glance at the clock.  A couple’a hours?”

With a frown, he poured his coffee from the pot and opened the fridge to grab the creamer.  After he dumped it in, he shut the door and lingered in the kitchen, simply watching Dean clicking away at the computer.

Eventually, Dean shut the top and looked up with a smile and asked, “Want me to cook breakfast?”

“It’s hardly time for breakfast anymore,” Castiel responded with a heavy roll of his eyes.  “You should have gotten me up.  I always tell you to leave work at work.  Your weekends are supposed to be your time away.  You’ll become too over stressed and-”

Dean had already crossed the space and playfully grabbed the fabric at his side with a quipped, “Nice shirt.”  He leaned in and kissed the frown off Cas’ face and added on in an attempt to placate him, “You looked like a little angel.  How could I ruin the illusion?”

That had Cas grinning as he sipped his coffee.  “Are you implying I’m the devil?”

“Somethin’ like that,” he wiggled his eyebrows.  “And it was just a couple of emails.  Not like I was working on a huge projects or anything.  Charlie was just wondering about some stats and Ellen moved up a deadline because our clients are dicks and wanted to make sure the team could handle it.”

“Can you?” Cas instantly asked.

With a huff and feeling like he was being a reprimanded child, Dean groaned, “Yes, Mom.  No need to worry about me.  I know how to do my job.  I‘m a big boy.”

“I’m not saying you’re not,” he reached out with the hand not cradling the cup and laced his fingers through Dean’s.  “I’m saying they expect a ridiculous amount out of you and the pressure sometimes rises to unreasonable levels.  I just want to make sure-”

With a firm squeeze and a brisk tug away, Dean stressed, “It’s fine.  Job’s basically my life, anyway.  It’s not like I’ve got a bowling league or kids to raise.  And it’s just one project.”

Cas was momentarily stunned by the clipped way Dean spoke and the way he shied away from his touch.  He tried to decipher if Dean thought he was coddling, if the project was bothering him, or it was something else.  Apparently, this was an issue he wanted to drop, so Cas would honor it.

He took another drink and eventually came up with, “I figured you more as a 'poker night' kind of guy.”

At least that made Dean laugh, but he was still a little on edge.  “Yeah, maybe I’ll look around after, huh?  Take up some kind of hobby.”

“Or maybe I’ll just have to take up more of your time,” Cas offered suggestively, trying to get all the tension out of Dean’s shoulders, but then something he hadn’t anticipated happened.

For just a split-second, he could have sworn something akin to hurt or fear flashed on his features.  But it was so brief, so quick, that Castiel doubted himself.  Because why on Earth would Dean manifest an emotion like that?  

There was something off about this morning.  Something Dean wasn’t telling him.

And, of course, the man covered it up with a lavish wink and a, “That’s a hobby I’d sign up for in a snap.”

Cas hummed and then they were at a strange stalemate.  

Both just standing in the kitchen as Castiel continued to drink his coffee and Dean awkwardly didn’t know what to do with himself, since Cas had all but shot down breakfast.  

Which was another tell...

Dean Winchester never remained dormant.  

He was always moving, always joking, always had another move.  And right now?  He was grasping at straws.

Which was why Cas didn’t feel the least bit sorry for staring him down with what he’d been told was one of his most scrutinizing gazes.  And Dean shrunk under it.

Just to see what he’d say, and because this was getting ridiculous and he wasn’t going to drag it out of him yet, Castiel offered, “Sam messaged me to let us know that everything worked out.  I’m assuming they both know now and there are no hard feelings about it.”

“I know I said it before: but fuckin’ finally!”  Dean shook his head with a laugh.  “And good for them.  Sammy deserves to be happy.  And if it’s with your prick of a brother?  Well, whatever floats his boat, I guess.”

“Are you happy, Dean?”

Cas knew he was known for his almost inappropriately point-blank statements and questions.  

But the way Dean had wistfully worded his sentiments about his brother made it sound like a far-away dream.  

Something that he, himself, was hoping for.  One day.  

Which confused Castiel a great deal.  After all, he and Dean had been exclusively together much longer than Sam and Gabriel.  Cas considered their relationship just as significant, if not more, than the other pair.

Which was why he asked, which was what prompted him.

“That’s a pretty damn philosophical question, there, Cas,” Dean snorted and headed around to make it own cup of coffee.  “A little early in the morning to go examining all of life’s greatest wonders, right?”

Castiel followed behind him like he was a car tailgating another and slid his almost-empty one alongside Dean’s with the order of, “I meant in the way that Sam and Gabriel are happy.”

“Oh,” he feigned surprise but Cas could see right through it.  “Us?  Duh, I’m happy.  What kind of question is that?”

“It’s meant to be a serious one.”  He wasn’t letting up, and once both of them had their drinks, he didn’t regret the digging grasp he had on Dean’s bicep as he dragged him into the living room and sat them both down onto the couch.  “What are you unhappy about?  You can tell me.  We’re supposed to be honest with each other,” Cas encouraged, now sitting and shifted face to face.

Dean was clearly not expecting this.  It was written all over his face and had him stumbling over his words.  “I am happy!  The hell- dude.  Do you not see me when I’m with you?  I thought it was pretty fuckin’ obvious.”  Then he huffed before Cas could dig any deeper and demanded right back, “Are you happy?!”

Taken even more aback that Dean was treating this almost like an attack when it was meant as a serious discussion, Cas wasn’t sure whether he should fight with him or quell his frustration.  

It was glaringly more obvious something was amiss and now Castiel was supposed to use his discretion as to whether to coax it out of him or beat it out of him.  And when dealing with Dean?  It could go either way.

“What other ulterior motive would I have for spending my time with you if it wasn’t for the simple fact that I am?”  He delivered it as evenly as possible, but none of the stiffness left Dean.

But he still grunted out, “Okay, then!  We’re good!”

“Clearly, we’re not.” Cas narrowed his eyes.  “What’s going on with you?”

He could see Dean carefully picking out his words.  “You asked me a question and I answered it.  That’s that, right?  I just-” he sighed and shook his head, “didn’t sleep well.  Need more caffeine.”

“No,” he cut him off, knowing it was an excuse.  “I’ve seen you exhausted.  I’ve seen you, countless mornings, running on no hours of sleep.  You’re never like this.  You’re-”

“Like what?”  He challenged right away.  “Yer the Spanish Inquisition all of a sudden!  You gonna try and waterboard me next?”

“You’re infuriating right now.”  Castiel ground his teeth together and set his cup on the table because he was worried it would end up all over the carpet.  “Are you trying to pick a fight with me?  For what purpose?”  He took the liberty of snatching Dean’s mug away too and crowded into his space until he could grab the back of his neck and order, “I won’t waterboard you, but I will get an answer.”

He was met with defiant eyes and Dean sneering, “I get it, alpha male.  Gotta have things your way.  And you will.  And-” his voice failed him for a split-second before he pushed out, “and I’ll just take what you give me until-” and abruptly stopped.

“What?” Cas didn’t think anything else that morning could baffle him, but he was wrong.  “Until what?”

Dean didn’t even bother to answer him with word.  He just tried to wrench out of his grip, but there was no way in hell Cas was letting him go that easy.  What the fuck was going on in Dean’s head?  Where had all this frustration come from?  And the hurt and fear in the kitchen?  None of this was adding up.  There were no signs.  Nothing that could have warned him any of this was coming-

“Did I push you too hard last night?”  Suddenly, anxiety and alarm flooded Cas’ system and transferred his hold to cup Dean’s cheeks, no matter how hard he fought.  He refused to let go of that connection.  “Dean, answer me.  If we did something you weren’t comfortable with-”

“No!  Last night was fine. Last night was great-” he gave up and collapsed like a rag doll.  “Fuck.  I thought I’d be able to hold my shit together.  At least for the weekend,” he hissed to himself, but their proximity made it impossible for Cas not to hear.

So he held him there as Dean deflated and a kind of defeat washed over him.  Cas was still as lost as before.  Now, to make matters worse, Dean was refusing to look at him.

“Please,” Castiel pitched his voice low and soft, his thumb gently brushing the man’s cheekbone.  “Talk to me?  I want to help you so bad, but I don’t know how.  Please...let me help.”

A small lull of silence passed.  It weighed so heavy on Cas’ chest, but eventually Dean spoke even though he wouldn’t raise his gaze.

“What are we?”

Castiel blinked at the nature of the question and the insecurity in Dean’s voice.  Was that what this was about?  Insecurities?  Between them?

“We’re us.  We’re in a relationship and have been for months.  And, before right now, I thought we were both very content together.”  He hoped it was the answer Dean was looking for.

“Okay,” his chest heaved and he tried to shrug.  “And that’s just it.  That’s what sucks.  I’m too content.  And...I realized all this is temporary and maybe we just rip off the fuckin’ band-aid.  I’m already screwed seven ways from Sunday.  God, I'm an idiot.”

Alarm shot through Cas like a bolt of lightening because this wasn’t the way he’d ever imagined today going.  “You don’t want to be together anymore?”

“Heh, seriously?  Now you’re being a dick.”  Dean sat up straighter and slapped his hands away.  “You knew this was over from the day it started.  Yer gonna pass your exam, ride off into the sunset in some big city where they pay you the big bucks.  And you should.  You deserve it, Cas.  You never wanted to put your roots down here.  You weren’t meant to.  You‘re too good for it.  I...shit, you just sucked me in and I completely forgot about the ending.  ‘Til it was too late.  Now everything's on borrowed time and I'm the jackass who's gonna get his heart broken, so let's get it over with.”

He was so bitter, already half broken and Cas was dumbfounded.

Dean was beginning to stand up as though he’d said his piece and that was it, but Castiel wouldn’t let him.  

His arms darted out on reflex alone and caught Dean by the waist.  Cas dragged him not just to sit, but his reach seemingly acted by itself, accidentally knocking Dean over completely, and then he immediately lunged to wrap himself around Dean’s prone body.  Castiel hadn’t meant to tackle him to the couch and hold him like a lifeline, but that didn’t mean that he regretted it.

All he saw was the man he loved, yes - loved, shattering in front of him and he needed to do something.  He needed him tight within his arms.  He needed to make him see that he hadn’t been drawn in only to be left behind, that Cas never wanted to leave him, and that the thought of Dean even thinking those things was making Cas’ heart break just as much.

“No.”  It was the only thing Cas could force from his mouth after the overload of hurt Dean had just admitted to hiding.

“None of this ‘let me down gently’ bullshit,” Dean’s voice was beginning to crack, “I get it, just-”

“No!”  Cas had reached his breaking point, and he rose off the couch enough to loom over the man, pinning his shoulders and commanding his attention.  “I have never and would never lead you on.  I would never have let it go this far if- I wouldn’t still be here if I had any intention of leaving you.  I would never, ever do that to anyone.  Let alone to you, Dean.”  When Cas was sure he had his unwavering focus, he pronounced slowly, “I’m in love with you.  I...thought it was obvious.  I never imagined, for a moment, you’d have these concerns and if you did, I wish I could have put them to rest as quickly as they arose.”

Dean opened and closed his mouth a few times before he shook his head in disbelief and uttered, “Cas, I love you.  And that’s why I’d never wanna hold you back.  Jesus!  If you stayed here when you’re capable of so much more I’d hate myself for it!  I can’t do that to you. I couldn’t live with myself if-”

“Dean,” he cut him off and narrowed his eyes.  “We’ll discuss my career goals later because things have recently changed.  This right now is much, much more important.  So how about you drop that and get with the fucking program?”

His eyebrows scrunched together and he hissed sharply when Cas descended then took advantage of his dropped jaw, sucking Dean’s lower lip into his mouth.  The touch was electric and just as shocking.  It wasn’t until Castiel was licking into his mouth that the meaning of the words seemed to sink in and he surged upward at realization.

Dean’s hands were both tentative and pleading, like they wanted to believe but thought it was too good to be true, so they alternated between urgent grapples and brief half-touches.  And of course, Castiel took it upon himself to fix this.  

In a way, he blamed himself.  

He never wanted Dean to even feel a flicker of doubt in them, in their relationship, and the fact that he’d almost wrecked him was unforgivable.

“I knew right away you were special,” Cas mused as he trailed a finger down the length of Dean’s throat, his finger hooking in the neckline of the shirt.  His lips followed the path of his previous touch and he slowly peeled away the fabric hugging Dean’s torso.  “I was captured.  Addicted to you instantly.”

Dean’s chest rose and fell like a wave Cas rode all the way down his skin, not leaving a inch untouched by his lips or his tongue.  He’d glance up every so often to make sure he had captured Dean’s entire focus, because he knew the man loved to watch him and the feeling was mutual.

“It didn’t take long, you know,” Castiel admitted honestly, roughly grabbing his clothed hips and digging his nails deep enough to pinch through the cotton, “to fall for you.”

He snaked all the way back up Dean’s body, using his grip as leverage to balance and stare Dean right down in the eyes, creating a private moment between the two of them.

“You were so easy to fall in love with.  And it grows every time I see you.”  Castiel put as much significance behind every word as he possibly could, hoping Dean would understand the depth and the meaning, the sincerity, of his words.

And when the man took a sharp breath in and hauled Cas back to his lips, he knew he’d finally made the impact he wanted to.  

This time, the air was sucked from Cas’ lungs as Dean came at him with something fierce.  He was tearing at Cas’ shirt (well, Dean’s shirt on Cas’ body), needing to feel the press of his weight as the man all but collapsed on top of him.  He wriggled to shrug it off because the caress of Dean’s calloused hands were something he ached for.

Dean ducked to the side, allowing Cas to fill his lungs with the air that had been ripped away and sealed his lips to the man’s neck.  After leaving a few mindless, but perfect, claims, he uttered, “Fuck, I love you, too.  Never knew how to say it... Didn’t know if I could or you even-”

“I thought I showed you in every way.” Cas stopped him before he could even say he didn’t think Cas felt the same because that was ludicrous.  “I’ll have to be more direct from now on, won’t I?”  

He lifted himself up again to flash a mischievous grin before he slid back down to pull on the strings which tied Dean’s sweatpants.  The man had no problem lifting his pelvis for Cas to yank them down.  They’d done this dance so many times before that there wasn’t a beat of hesitation.  Not to mention Dean needed something concrete.  As much as words filled him with a hope he’d never anticipated, the language of their bodies always managed to solidify things in a different way.

Dean had gotten much too used to the way Cas pulled him apart and put him back together.  He needed it.  He’d fallen in deep with it and his worries melted when they were one.  Even if the worries surrounded them.  It was the strangest phenomenon Dean couldn’t even begin to explain - the loss of control and the tender way Cas cared for him after.

Although it made more sense for him to want the latter, God, did he need both.  He could see how the man was weighing his options, he could see it plain as day on his damn face, and was watching him with trepidation.  Cas was trying to analyze the situation based on the nature of their conversation and sensitive revelations, but the thing was: Dean knew the answer.

“Cas,” he all but growled, seizing the waistband of the man’s pants.  “Don’t think.  Fuckin’ act.  Don’t you dare handle me with kid gloves.  That’s not what I need.”

For a split-second, Castiel was surprised he’d been caught, but the next?  He felt liberated because things weren’t in ruins and he knew what he was doing again.  There wasn’t any more need for hesitation and this was something natural, something he could work with.

His power seemed to visibly seep right back into his form.  He was the picture of poised dominance yet unbridled seduction.  The very kind that made Dean weak in the knees and glad he was flat on the couch rather than tumbling to the floor.  He still had no idea how Cas did it, but no matter the situation, he made the act of getting himself undressed a graceful art.  The reveal of his naked body was something that still drew a lustful groan from Dean every time.

But he couldn’t help it.  Cas was the things his wet dreams were made of.

Dean barely had time to appreciate the image before Cas had dropped down between his legs and his hot breath was puffing along the throbbing length of his cock, yet infuriatingly not making contact.  With a whine, Dean arched his hips, wordlessly begging for his lips, his mouth, his tongue, something.  But instead of showing Dean pleasure, Cas sharply nipped the inside of his thigh then mouthed over a bruise he’d left the night before.  One that was still tender.

It was still touch and Dean sighed into the push-pull of sensations because when Cas kissed him there, it felt awesome.  He should have known he wasn’t going to go right to the main event... Why would he?

Cas retraced the marks he’d left before, sucking new life into them and soothing new, tender marks that made Dean mewl.  He continued to push his thighs wider apart as he went and it took everything in Dean not to grab his cock.  It was physically aching, begging for touch.  When Cas’ wet thumb pressed against his hole, he nearly went through the ceiling, but just as quickly as he teased did it disappear.

There was a low, rumbling chuckle that made Dean shoot up and glare daggers.

“Is this revenge?  Is this some sick, twisted revenge?”  He demanded and was answered by Cas’ lips skating across the surface of his balls.  “C’mon, Cas!  Please!”

“This isn’t revenge,” Cas answered in that cool, unruffled tone, finally taking Dean’s cock into his fist and lapping the precum from the slit.  “I just need you worked up and begging.  Since you’re probably still nice and loose from me last night.”  He pulled his hand away and spit on his fingers, shoving three inside Dean’s body to prove a point.  “See?”  His eyes were alight with arousal and it only amplified when he started moving his hand. “We need some kind of foreplay, after all.”

A sheen of sweat was covering Dean’s body from the sudden onslaught of sensations and his lungs just weren’t getting enough oxygen.  He was heaving in and out as Cas’ barely-slick fingers worked in and out of his used hole and the phrase “be careful what you wish for” came to mind.  The man looked downright devilish looming over top of him, enraptured in his struggle.  Probably because Dean didn’t have the ability to snip back.  He’d gotten the friction he wanted, maybe even a little too much of it because he could feel the drag of Cas’ knuckles as he fingered him with intent.

But that’s when Cas pulled away and did something Dean wasn’t expecting.

He got off the couch and walked up to where Dean’s head was resting, then slung a leg over top of his shoulders in a half-straddle.

The only warning he had was, “Suck,” before Cas tilted his pelvis forward and Dean very willingly dropped his jaw.

He had zero problems with this and began bobbing on Cas’ length eagerly, but when he tried to use his hand it was swatted away.  The next thing to reach Dean’s ears sent a full-body shudder down his spine and he realized exactly why.

“That’s it.  Get me nice and wet,” Cas’ voice was throaty and silky at the same time, “I’m going to fuck you right here, right now.”  He carded his hands through Dean’s hair and added the challenge of, “Unless you object?”

It was an out disguised as a taunt and Dean knew that.  Because in the bedroom was where the lube and condoms were.  Upstairs.  This wasn’t just a questions about impromptu sex on the couch.  It was a question about trust, commitment, and serious shit all rolled into one.  He knew Cas would never in a million years put him in danger so he knew he was clean and Dean knew he himself was, too.

They’d never had sex without a condom so this was something new and it shot a thrill through Dean’s body at even the thought.  And he would have said as much if he didn’t have a dick down his throat right then.  But then he remembered no lube - so he was bound and determined to slick Cas’ cock as much as he could.

When his boyfriend pulled away looking for an answer, Dean breathlessly demanded, “Fuck me, now.”

Cas didn’t bother to hide his wide grin as he ducked back between Dean’s legs and lined up.  For the first time in a long time, he didn’t mercilessly shove in because he knew Dean could take it.  He watched Dean, really watched him, and felt every moment.  Every inch that he sunk into his body.  When they were connected, when they were one, it was a whole new ballgame.

Normally, Dean would let Cas take control because they both wanted him to be in control, but right now?  All Dean wanted was to kiss the fuck out of him.  So he reached out in a rare display of forcefulness and grabbed Cas’ shoulder and handful of hair to drag their lips together.

A long moan broke from Cas’ chest and he began to rock in and out of Dean while he kissed him back with that new found ferocity.

Although Dean refused to relinquish his grip, Cas still managed to hike both of his legs up and over his shoulders while he fucked him.  The rawness and passion was still there, but their lips told another story.  It was like Cas was still trying to soothe him, proving to Dean that he wasn’t going to leave no matter what idiotic idea the man had constructed in his head.

He knew Dean craved the physicality, so he was giving it to him with every snap of his hips but he kissed him with love.  

Cas honestly thought before he said the words that he’d told him in every way imaginable: through his actions, through the way they’d touch...

But apparently, he needed to try harder.

And when Dean ripped away from him to shout out in ecstasy, Cas didn’t hesitate to chase his own orgasm.  But not before he whispered in Dean’s ear, “I love you,” enough times for him to get it through his damn head.

It was like Dean was finally seeing him through clear eyes, and just when Cas was about to pull out Dean grabbed his hips and ordered, “Cum inside me.”

As if he wasn’t about to anyway, the words were enough to shake his very core and the last staccato pumps of his hips had Cas seeing stars and blowing his load inside Dean’s amazing body.

Cas immediately fell forward and arms engulfed him while he tried to catch his breath, with the words of “I love you,” echoed back to him.  He couldn’t help the stupid smile on his face and he did his best to hide it and rest his cheek against Dean’s chest.  The other man probably felt it, but it didn’t really matter.

It took a second for the edges of their vision to clear up and the first thing Cas knew was that it was important to avoid a mess on the couch.  He didn’t even want to know how much it was or if it was one of the things Dean had made himself and he knew the man wouldn’t hesitate to complain later.  Even if it was halfhearted and for the sole sake of bitching.

Cas placed a few stolen kisses against the man’s chest, loving the small love-bites peppered along the surface and soothed his hands along his arms, waiting for them to unfold.  Slowly, but surely, Dean released him and grunted from the effort, which Castiel found absolutely adorable.

Almost wordlessly, once they had it in them, Cas stood up and pulled Dean towards the bathroom.  After all, this clean up required a little more work than usual and their location had been impromptu, so Castiel took it upon himself to get the shower ready and silently pull a much, much happier Dean inside with him.

He continued to kiss him with care, but now that the man was in a much better state, Cas couldn’t hold back his question anymore.

With a soaped-up washcloth in hand, he began to wash Dean and asked, “How long?”

“Hmm?”  It was almost like he was just now coming back down to his body and he realized where they were.  Then, much more lively, he repeated, “How long, what?”

“How long has that weighed on you?” Cas asked seriously and couldn’t help but laugh at the random bubble that had somehow landed on Dean’s nose.

“I dunno...” He shrugged noncommittally.  “I guess since you guys graduated and started studying.  That’s when it all became...real.”  Dean aggressively swatted the foam away because he was a second away from sneezing.  “What you said back then.  About your ‘career path...’  You gotta promise me you’re not doing something stupid for me.”  His eyes were pleading and the complex green was so vibrant in the bright bathroom lights.  “God, you know I want to be with you more than anything, but I told you...I can’t hold you back.”

“And you’re not.” Cas briefly hung the cloth on the rack and wrapped his arms around Dean’s middle.  “During the study sessions, I began musing about actually teaching law.  Then that one day I told you about, when Sam threw his tantrum and the group disbanded?  When I stayed and offered to help Ruby one on one, it... Clicked.  It solidified things, I believe, because there’s no doubt in my mind that I truly helped her.”

Cas chuckled and shook his head. “I enjoyed it greatly and sometimes our professors don’t do much besides spout out assignments and see if we sink or swim.  Ruby’s very intelligent, but she hasn’t been educated in the individual way she’s apt to learn.  It shouldn’t be up to the students to school themselves, even at this level.  Stanford or not.  It should still be the professors giving each student the tools for success, not simply a syllabus.”

The conviction in his voice caught Dean off guard he whistled, “Look at you.”

“And I may or may not have spoken with some of the faculty about possible opportunities and who I could speak to about future employment.”  With a smirk, he added, “Once I pass the bar, that is.  Who knows?  Maybe I could even work as a private practitioner if it doesn‘t pan out right away.  I have many options here.”

But then...the realization sunk in.  

Cas truly hadn’t made his choice based on Dean holding him back.  

This revelation had happened all by itself and that alone made Dean so damn happy because there was no guilt.  He couldn’t blame anyone but Cas for him sticking around.  

And, although Dean may have held himself back from launching at him (it’d all be in vain if they died in the fucking shower), he still glued his lips to Cas’.  Even though his own tasted like soap, he didn’t care.

The man took eagerly to Dean’s kiss and side-stepped him in a way that he could safely shove him against the stall wall.  Well...if “safely” meant with an echoing thud that knocked the wind from Dean’s lungs and had him instantly melting like putty in Cas’ hands.  The way Cas’ touch affectionately glided against his slippery skin made him preen, despite the initial show of force.

It was sweet display of seduction rather than Castiel’s usual go-to.

Dean didn’t even know if it was a seduction at all; it could be an innocent show of fondness and he was getting inappropriately hard.  

Wouldn’t be the first time.  

...Or the last time.

But with Cas naked and pressed up against him, how the fuck could he not?

With a hum, Cas pulled away and grabbed the shampoo setting on a ledge right next to Dean’s shoulder.  After he poured a bit into the palm of his hand, he pulled Dean away from the wall and began to massage the product into his hair.

The pressure of Cas’ fingers felt so damn amazing massaging his scalp that he couldn’t help a small groan of appreciation, along with an overly dramatic, “Don’t stop.”

When Dean cracked his eye open it was to see Cas’ unimpressed expression, but there was a smirk threatening to break his poker face before he shoved Dean under the spray of the water.  There was no finesse when Cas ruffled his hair clean, then switched him spots to wash the soap from his own body.  Although Dean did lavishly wink and wolf-whistle as they locked eyes when Cas was rinsing off under the shower head.

Cas turned his back to scrub his face and it left him wide open.  So, of course, Dean took advantage and draped himself over his boyfriend’s backside.  Instead of snapping, which was what he’d normally do, Cas languidly lowered his arms and covered Dean’s with his own.  They just kind of...stayed there in the fogged stall and Dean wished for a brief moment they’d taken the time to fill up the jacuzzi.

But this was just as good.

Being together like this, no matter how it happened, was just as good.  And the fact that these weren’t the last of their days, that they weren’t numbered as Dean had initially thought?

Jesus, he couldn’t even begin to describe how he felt.  He was basking in the light at the end of the tunnel: one he never knew even existed.  But it was here, with Cas.  And if he played his cards right, Cas wasn’t going anywhere.

Chapter Text

While Gabriel was supposed to have the entire weekend off, for the first time in God knows how long, he still found himself in at the hospital for the second time that weekend.  At least this time, it was under much better circumstances.

“Hopefully your giant-ass doesn’t scare my little princess.” Gabriel winked to where Sam was walking next to him through the entrance on the Sunday afternoon and he couldn’t help but reach out and grab his hand.

Armed with a steady bitchface, but eagerly accepting his boyfriend’s interlacing fingers, Sam snipped back, “If she isn’t afraid of you, I’m pretty sure she’s a fearless warrior.”

A smile warmed Gabriel’s face as he confirmed, “She really is.  You’ll love her.”

They spent the rest of Saturday going through their ridiculously fake-Tinder relationship and griping to one another about their tactical moves and ideas about trying to discover the other’s identity.  

When it had been staring them right in the goddamn face the whole friggin time.  

It laughable as they recounted it.  It was in was all in the ways they spoke, if they had just compared their texts alongside their messages everything would have been answered, but those stupid little icons of Sam and Cas on the wrong end of the conversations made them blind to the facts.

It took a lot of thinking on Gabriel’s part, when Sam asked where the hell his boyfriend had even gotten the pictures of him to fake the account.  He had to think long and hard about it, but when that clicked, Gabriel wanted to hit his head against a wall all over again.

He’d snaked Cas’ phone when they were out one night and went through his photo gallery for blackmail material on his little brother.  Except, there wasn’t any.  But there were some random candids in the midst of screenshots for a school project.  Gabriel assumed the graphics were going to be used for a PowerPoint or something, having no idea they’d been taken of a real fucking person, his now-boyfriend.  He'd sent the pics to his phone because he’d been musing over the fake Tinder account for a while.  And this guy on Cas' phone?  Gabriel had thought to be the perfect cover.  

That had been right before he updated Cas’ facebook status to something outrageously inappropriate and borderline pornographic.

He had to get something out of stealing his bro’s phone, after all.  Besides the accidental pics of his friend, on what Sam had explained was a weekend camping trip where he’d left his own phone behind.  Turned out, Castiel had taken those pictures of Sam as evidence, so he could forward to them his brother when they arrived home as proof he'd taken the overdue vacation Dean had been harassing him about.

It was all so ironic.

But in the end, instead of fussing about it and becoming angry, they came to the conclusion that it was cute...

In a stupid, embarrassing, idiotic way they’d never admit to anyone but each other.

They’d kind of fallen for one another twice.  Not a lot of people experienced that.  

And one of the times had been completely anonymous, under the guise of deception and ulterior motives.  

If that doesn’t say “meant to be,” they didn’t know what the fuck did.

Saturday night, they made love.  It wasn’t a do-over for Sam’s first time.  It was propelled by how they were feeling in the moment and how happy they were.  Now that the no-touching policy had been lifted, it wasn’t like they were fucking like rabbits.  They just got to experience more of each other and that night it was on such a deep level that they never wanted it to end.

On Sunday morning, a text from Jo arrived.  Maggie had been moved out of ICU and the nurse was headed to the hospital to visit her in a few hours and wondered if Gabriel wanted to meet up.  Gabriel explained to Sam that Jo was his go-to favorite nurse because she filled him in on all things job-related.  She had her own network and the rest of the nursing staff kept her informed about what was happening around the hospital, whether it was medical news or gossip.  Gabriel always wanted the dirt on both.

When the doctor was clocked in, he was seeing patient after patient, so Jo was his best resource to keep tabs on everything happening around them.  She was basically his manager, cheerleader, and assistant rolled into one.  And when one of the nurses on duty moved Maggie to a room for further monitoring?  Jo got word right away.

Which was why he was currently looking around the lobby for the woman.

A brief flash of blonde hair caught the corner of his eye before Jo appeared in front of him, but the woman didn’t address him right away.  

Instead, she was suspiciously staring down Sam, who was tilting his head and examining her just as closely.

“Uh, Jo, Sam, meet each other like normal humans, rather than have an awkward stare-down like creeps.”  Gabriel tugged on Sam’s hand then flicked Jo’s shoulder directly afterwards.  “Hello? Children?”

Sam’s eyes suddenly widened as he realized, “Dean’s Company Holiday party ‘13!”

“Oh my God!”  She slapped a hand over her mouth and pointed. “Winchester!  Holy shit!  When Gabe showed me your picture, I knew I recognized you from somewhere!  I never thought I’d see you again!  Let alone here, of all places!  With freakin’ Gabriel!”

“Me either!  I didn’t know you were a nurse!”  Sam huffed in disbelief, taking her in while he shook his head.

“Yep!  And I keep your boy toy out of trouble.” She proudly put her hands on her hips then grinned. “Now I know why he’s been so happy lately!  He’s managed to wrangle in a good one.  Such a small world.”

“Um...someone fill me in? Please and thank you,” Gabriel’s eyes dramatically darted back and forth between the two of them and he crossed his arms.  “Still totally in the dark, here.  Thanks.”

Sam stopped what he was doing and whipped back around to his boyfriend because he‘d been too caught up in seeing the blonde again that he totally forgot Gabriel didn‘t know the story.  “All right, so you know how Dean’s a mechanical engineer?  He works for Ellen Harvelle’s-”

“Who’s my mom,” Jo added in with a grin.  “Every year, the Company throws this huge Holiday Mixer and I go because I need to ‘socialize,’ but stay for the booze, basically.  So Sam was there with Dean, who I already knew pretty damn well and I adore his dumbass, because...” she paused to recollect some of the details, “...Didn’t he just have a rough break-up that year or something?”

“Yeah, and he’d already sent in his plus one.”  Sam confirmed her initial thought and continued, “So I knew he was going to drown his sorrows or something and he was moving up in the company and I didn’t want him to fuck everything up by getting wasted and doing something stupid so I went with him.”  Sam shrugged and sighed at the memory. “Didn’t work out quite like I’d expected.”

“Well, that sounds ominous,” Gabriel was waiting for the real story.  “So...you two met through Deano?”

“Yes and no...” The blonde looked at Sam with a secret smile.  “I met him through Dean, yeah.  But we had our own situation.  So!  There was this massive creep that was hitting on me and following me around the entire night.  He was business partners with one of my mom’s clients and felt entitled to pretty much everything.  Including me.  Ginormous fucking asswipe.”

“I caught Jo turning him down pretty early but noticed that he never let up.  Dean was doing better than I thought he would, even found a pretty girl to flirt with, and for some reason I had a bad feeling about this douche.”  Sam gestured with his hand to his boyfriend.  “You know, just those gut-feelings you can’t shake?  Anyway, Jo was helping with the awards presentation part of the party and I saw her go into the back room.  Then I saw him follow her.  So I followed him.”

“And you know me, Gabe.  I’m not a weak, frail damsel.”  Jo pointed deliberately at the man’s face, who was very captured by the story.  “Fuckin’ asshole wasn’t just trying to make a move.  He was trying to haul me out the exit door!  I got in a good swing or two but I was in stilettos and he got the jump on me!  Sam comes in, guns blazing, knocks the dude on his ass and beats the living shit out of him!”

Gabriel blinked, wide-eyed and shocked, “My Sammy?  My peace-loving, tree-hugging, puppy-eyed Sammy?!”

“Certain things aren’t forgivable, Gabe,” Sam defended right away.  “You never take advantage of another person and whatever he was going to do to Jo?  I don’t even want to think about it.”

“And then my mom walked in and I rushed over to tell her what happened,” the smirk on Jo’s face from earlier widened even further.

Sam chuckled and admitted, “When Ellen came in, I turned around and froze.  I thought she was gonna call the cops.  I thought I was gonna lose my career... But then she looked right at me and whispered so he couldn‘t hear, ’You kick him in the balls ‘til they’re up in his throat.’  Needless to say, I gladly followed her request.”

“Mom told me to get Dean out, to make a smooth exit, and then mom made a scene in front of the asshole like she had found Sam just then, not when he was beating the crap outta him.”  Jo barked out a laugh and couldn’t contain her giggles.  “She played it up.  Acted all dramatic like she was prying Sam away, fake-shouting at him like he was a drunk who attacked this poor, helpless man so the freak thought Ma was on his side.  For PR, obviously.  Then Sam pretended and played rowdy and blacked-out once he was out of the back room so there’d be witnesses and was ‘escorted off the premises and ordered never to come back.’”

“And it happened to turn out, there was no name of the ‘alleged attacker’ on the guest list anywhere.”  Sam joined her laughter.  “So the assailant must have crashed the party or something.  Too bad there was never any justice served.”

“But there was a special holiday bonus in Dean’s paycheck as a present to the vigilante.”  Jo propelled forward and gave Sam a huge hug.  “I never got the chance to thank you since you guys were too busy causing that crazy scene.  But, yeah.  Mom would want to thank you, too, ya know?”

“It’s really no problem.”  He returned the hug and genuinely replied, “I’m just glad I was there.  Shows you that no matter where you are, scum is lurking everywhere.  I’m guessing you never had a problem with him again?”

“Nope.  Dropped their account.”  Jo flashed a cheeky grin and let her arms drop.  “Justice double served.”

“Damn,” Gabriel finally managed to get in a word, “Does that mean I’m dating Superman?”

A blush flashed on Sam’s cheeks and he tried to side-set the compliment with, “Does that make you Lois?”

“Never thought of myself as a Lois.  Guess we’ll revisit that one.”  He winked with a hint of flirtation.  “But, hell, you saved my spunky little sidekick before I even fell in love with your giagantor ass?  You’ve already been makin’ my life better for years and I didn’t even know it!”

“Aww,” Jo sighed, and it wasn’t even meant to mock them.  “My two heroes found each other.  What are the odds?”  Then she elbowed Sam in the side. “I can promise you that once you get past his snarky exterior?  This one’s a keeper.”

He glanced down to the blonde and nodded with a blooming smile. “I already know.”

“You can’t talk about me when I’m right here.  Even though, yes, I am pretty fantastic.”  Gabriel rolled his eyes and gestured to the elevators.  “So are we seeing our little girl anytime soon?  You guys can exchange numbers and BFF-gush later.  I’ve got someone to see.”

He began walking with purpose and Jo had to jog to catch up, but informed him, “We don’t believe the stroke caused any lasting damage even though it’s still early.  She began speaking more this morning and that’s when they decided to move her out of ICU.  Well, that and her vitals have been steady.  She’s got a little more mobility in her arm than we initially thought, or at least rehab said.  They’ve got the anticoagulant back into her system along with the rest of her meds and-”

“She needs a new heart.”  Gabriel stated with finality when the elevator doors closed around them and Jo punched in the number.  “Do we have any news about donors or her status?”

“Nothing new.”  Jo pursed her lips together and was taken aback when Gabriel filled her hand with stems.

He did the same thing with Sam’s, who hadn’t been apart of the conversation until this point (he had nothing to add nor did he understand what they were talking about), but gladly accepted.

Gabriel’s only explanation was, “We need to make an entrance.”

-------------------

Mr. and Mrs. Shawn were inside the room when the trio arrived and Gabriel asked the nurse to have them follow her into the hallway to see them before they went in.  Once she had done that, he also requested one more item.

The parents looked happy to see him.  Maggie’s mother smiled and said, “You’re going to cheer her up, Doctor Novak.”

“I know how much she hates hospital stays,” he confirmed with sympathy.  “Maggie’s a trooper with visits and check-ups, but she’s always been gloomy about overnighters.  Was she able to sleep well?”

“Yes, the staff has helped a lot.  We’re just glad she’s out of ICU.  The rooms are a lot more...”

“Welcoming?”  Jo suggested.  “ICU can be intimidating with the kids.  No decorations or pops of color can disguise all the wires and machines.  These rooms are a lot more kid-friendly.”

“Exactly.”  It was like she had taken the words right out of Mr. Shawn’s mouth.

“I brought someone new for Maggie to meet today,” Gabriel smiled at Sam and then looked at the couple. “This is my boyfriend, Sam.  I’ve told him all about Maggie and he’s very excited to meet her.  These are Maggie’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Shawn.”

Both Jo and Sam were decently shocked Gabriel had just come out and said it, but then again, that was the enigma that was Gabriel.  You never knew what the hell he was going to do.  

And thankfully, no one seemed to miss a beat as Sam extended his hand and shook both of the parents, adding in, but obviously not elaborating too much, “I was with Gabriel when Maggie was brought in to the hospital and he’s kept me updated on the situation every step of the way.  I feel like I already know her.  I’m excited to put a face to all the wonderful stories he’s told me about your daughter.”

The couple were pleasantly surprised and they could practically feel his warm heart, which was something Gabriel had been banking on since he was unsure if the couple were bigots or not, and the mother agreed, “I’m sure she’ll love meeting you as well.”  She directed her next statement to Gabriel and explained, “She’s a bit sleepy, but you know how easily she perks up.  I’m sure that you should do it.  It’s a bit crowded in there, we’ll grab some coffee and be back soon.”

They peeked in and told her as much, then once they stepped away from the door, the three entered and Maggie’s eyes widened and grew bright.  Almost as bright as her smile.

Because Gabriel hadn’t just bought a couple roses like a normal visitor, no...he’d brought three dozen.

Which he’d divided up and given a bundle of twelve to both Jo and Sam, while holding one himself.  He quickly scooted over to her bedside, where delight was dancing across her features, and leaned in close.

“Heya, Maggie!  I gotcha some roses,” he grinned and lifted his bouquet as she reached to smell them. “I couldn’t quite remember what your favorite color was so I got a few choices.  Whatcha think?”

She giggled and took the ones from Gabriel’s hand, which were tightly wrapped together and stripped of thorns, to cradle and announced, “Pink!” which Gabriel knew and those happened to be the ones he’d handed off that she was now holding.

The doctor in him was delighted to see that although she couldn’t quite form a fist with her right hand to hold them, she could still bring her arm upward to balance them.  Kids bounced back quickly and hopefully, as long as rehab worked closely with her, she should get her grip back soon.  He’d make a phone call to the department just to see things through.

Gabriel faked a pout and jeered over his shoulder with his thumb.  “So you want me to send the other colors back, then?”

“No!”  She exclaimed with glee, “You said they were mine!”

“I did, didn’t I?”  He watched the nurse walk in with the vases he’d requested of her and she shook her head fondly of Gabe’s antics.  “Well, then you can keep ’em.  Only ’cause I like you so much.  Don’t tell anyone, though.”

“I promise.  It’s our secret!”  There was that mischief in her voice that he loved.  Even though she wasn’t moving around as expressively as he was used to seeing her, that didn’t dim her spirit.  Gabriel reminded himself she needed to rest, recuperate, and she’d get better. This was temporary and- “Who’s that?” Maggie asked, obviously pointing at Sam, then she lowered her voice just enough to whisper, “He’s so big!”

Jo couldn’t help herself from snorting, while Sam mumbled to her, “I’m gonna get a complex,” without Maggie hearing.

Gabriel tried not to snicker and waved Sam forward to take the seat next to him.  “This, right here, is someone very special to me, missy.  His name is Sam and he brought you flowers, too!  Even though they aren’t your favorite color.”  He winked, and watched Maggie deliberate before she grabbed Sam’s flowers, adding them to her bundle, and held them close to her chest, too.

There were almost as many flowers as there were little girl now and it made Sam laugh when he asked, “Do you like purple, too, Maggie?”

“Yep.  Almost as much as pink,” she said very seriously, then asked casually to Sam, “Are you two married?”

Although Sam stumbled over his words, apparently powerless in the face of a young girl, Gabriel was a pro and asked, “What makes you think that?”  Then gasped in fake-shock while teasing her with, “Are you jealous?”

“I’m not jealous!”  She looked decently indignant for someone so young, but she calmly explained, “You said Sam’s very special to you and looked at him that way.  Like my daddy looks at my mommy.”

Sam’s mouth was still slightly ajar, but Gabriel was too busy laughing and poked him, stating, “See, everyone can see I wear the pants in the relationship.”  He turned towards Maggie and whispered conspiratorially, “It’s pretty darn similar, so maybe one day I could trick him into it.  But Sammy’s still got a lot of adult things to do before he settles down.  Did you know he’s going to be a lawyer soon?”

“Like Elle Woods!”  She turned back to Sam with a toothy grin.

Sam barked a laugh and agreed, “Just like Elle Woods.  What do you want to be when you grow up?”  He’d finally found his footing again, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t help but shoot a secret smile over to Gabriel.

Maggie began coughing over all the excitement, which wasn’t uncommon for her condition.  So Jo jumped in and hopped up next to her side and answered, “She wants to be a doctor just like Gabe.  But an animal doctor.”

She was vigorously nodding her confirmation through her coughing spell and Gabriel decided, “I’m gonna get these flowers in water and give you a second to catch your breath, darling.”

It wasn’t a problem retrieving the two bouquets as Jo settled down next to her and helped her with some exercised they’d taught her, while Gabriel stole the blonde’s dozen, too.  Sam was already at the sink in the room, filling up the vases which he handed off to Gabriel in an easy assembly-line-like fashion.  He flashed a grateful smile at his boyfriend and they placed them around the room to brighten it up.

By the time it was decorated, it felt more lively, more like Maggie and less one-size-fits-all pediatric hospital room.  Even though she was beginning to breath steady again, the coughing had drawn her parents and Gabriel knew it was enough excitement for the day.

All he wanted to do was check in on her, sneak a peek at her stats chart and make sure the stroke didn’t have any lasting damage on her mobility, speech, or cognitive process.  Damn, had they gotten lucky.  He’d already scared the hell out of her parents so hopefully they’d never run into a problem like that again.

“All right, we’ll get you get some rest because that’s what you need to be concentrating on.  All right, missy?”  Gabriel smiled at her and returned to the head of the bed and squeezed her shoulder.  “Doctor’s orders.  I’ll drop in tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay.”  Although her eyes were happy, she seemed drained and sunk into the mattress.

“Same here, girl,” Jo tacked on, “Both of us will come and see you.  Hope you liked the flowers.”

“It was great meeting you, Maggie.” The sincerity in Sam’s voice didn’t just reach the little girl, it reached the parents, too.  “Maybe one day when Gabe and I have a dog who’s not feeling well, we’ll bring him to you to make him feel better.  You’re gonna be an awesome vet when you grow up.”  He winked and she glowed at his words and nodded.

It was probably because no one ever spoke about her having much of a future.  No one dared to go there because her present was so uncertain, but Sam had.  And maybe something so small made her have hope because her face shone it like it hadn’t in a damn long time.  She was slowly getting to the age where she knew she had a problem and Sam’s words meant something.

They could all see it.

The trio waved and slowly filed out of the door until they were in the hall and made their way to the elevators again, arms free and feelings mixed about the visit.  Once the door shut, Sam had something on the tip of his tongue, but suddenly Gabriel had hauled him down and was kissing it from his lips.

Just as quickly, the man had released him and he was dumbfounded all over again.  Much like he’d been this entire visit.

“What was that for?” he asked with a chuckle, accepting the way Gabriel laced their fingers together.

“I’m glad you were here, is all.”  He sighed and shrugged his shoulders.  “And thanks for keeping me in the loop, Jo.  I needed to see her.”

“No prob.”  She looked over the couple with an approving gaze and finished with, “It’s one thing to hear someone’s doing better, but it’s another thing to be there and actually confirm it.  Plus, I know you’re stubborn as fuck, Gabe.”

“I can attest to that,” Sam chuckled fondly and sighed.  “She’s a great kid.  I can see why she’s your favorite.”

Some kind of somber air surrounded Gabriel because he remained motionless and curtly stated, “Yeah, I know,” before pulling on his façade and wiggling his eyebrows with, “So, what kinda pup you have in mind for our future married bliss, Sammy?”

“Oh God.”  He snorted as the doors opened up and they were back in the lobby.  “I never should have said anything.  Why did I say anything?”

“Dude, you gave her faith.  Don’t even pretend like you regret that.” Jo shook a finger at him.  “I can see you with a fluffy little lap dog.  Like a frou-frou Pomeranian or some kind of ankle-biter.”

“I’m already got one of those and he responds to the name Gabe.”  Sam hummed while glancing down to his boyfriend and he squeezed his hand, hoping to pull him out of whatever mood his was in.

“Shut up, Winchester.”  He retorted, but there was still a bit of a hollow feel to it that not just Sam but Jo recognized as well because they both knew Gabriel inside and out.

It was the reason Jo suggested, “Hey, you guys wanna grab a late lunch or some drinks?  Sunday Funday?”

The couple exchanged glances and while Gabriel made a evasive noise, Sam was game.  But he had one suggestion.

“Wanna see what Dean and Cas are up to?  After all, you probably only see my brother at those company events where he’s on his best behavior.  Might be cool to hang out with him outside of one?”

“Hah.  Dean?  On his best behavior?”  Jo snorted and rolled her eyes. “I can’t wait to see what he’s like normally.”

“I’ll give him a call.”  Sam was wearing a smirk as he pulled out his phone.

Maybe seeing the pair would do some good since he wasn’t able to distraction Gabriel like he was used to.  And right now, he’d do anything to cheer him up.

----------------

They all met up at a bistro just a few blocks down from the hospital where they could sit at a table outside and enjoy the weather.  June was upon them and it was too nice to be cooped up inside the restaurant.  Plus, they were running a special on an all-day Bloody Mary bar.  Jo instantly perked up and helped herself and, although Gabriel and Sam’s tastes lied elsewhere, they figured “When in Rome.”

Although Dean may have bitched about it, he made the sacrifice to join in on the special once he realized an ingredient he could add to his Bloody Mary was bacon.   Suddenly, it didn’t sound like a bad idea at all.  

Cas didn’t mind one way or another.  He didn’t have much in the way of a usual drink and went with the flow, although he did have quite a high tolerance and his drink could be considered vodka with a splash of the mix.  And pickle juice.  For some reason, much to Dean’s horror, he added pickle juice.

Dean was elated to see Jo outside the work function and scooped her up in a hug just because he could.  She laughed and recounted her reunion with Sam, which Dean whistled about and told Cas that his brother wasn’t all brains and puppy eyes.  Given the right circumstance, he was a deadly weapon because Dean had only caught sight of Jo’s attacker for a second, but it looked like a friggin slaughter.

Cas looked downright baffled, eyeing his friend up and down and admitting, “I never would have expected that, Sam.”

“Right? It’s kinda sexy, ain’t it?” Gabriel threw in his two cents from where they’d squeezed in around a circular table.

I’m actually surprised to hear that Sam is so docile in real life.” Jo took a sip from her drink and eyed the party around her.  “So I know Gabe like the back of my hand, Dean’s my drinking buddy at Mom’s business functions, Sam’s my personal security, and Cas...I think I’m met you before, right?”

“He went out with us.  A total of once,” Gabriel turned to the blonde and reminded her, “Remember the impromptu drown-our-sorrows fest a few years ago?  After Jacob?”

“Ah, fuck.”  She ran a hand through her hair and groaned, “Well, I don’t remember much about it.  But I do remember us all getting crazy sloppy and-” She squinted at Cas. “You joined us halfway through the night, right?  Before we headed to the seedy bars?”

Castiel nodded solemnly. “Yes, I did.  It was my duty to watch Gabriel and his intake of alcohol and then you challenged me to a round of shots.  Which got me drunk and made you belligerent.  And then Gabriel-”

“Got the nurses to dance on tables!” Sam’s eyes widened as he recalled the story Cas had told him. “I remember that!  It was one of the only times I’d ever seen you hungover in my life!  Didn’t you guys get kicked out of the bar?”

“That was also because of Gabriel.”  Jo took a long chug of her drink and winced.  “He’d convinced one of the bartenders to get drunk with us and they, uh, started making out behind the bar. The owner caught ’em, fired her, and we got escorted out by security.  I only know what I was told at this point, but I think we went to an after-hours place?”

“Yes,” Castiel confirmed, “That was around the time it got hazy for me, as well.  I believe Joanna attempted to hustle pool, failed miserably, and another doctor had to bail you out.  I... Embarrassed myself.”

Sam began chuckling and recalled, “You could barely tell me that part, your face was so red!  Didn’t Gabriel convince you to act as a distraction while he stole a fifth from the bar?”

“How did you distract the bartender?!” Dean was enthralled with this story, never having known his boyfriend to get drunk, let alone rowdy and stupid.

“At first, he tried to ‘stun them with his knowledge of bees,’” Gabriel began to cackle, “And after that didn’t work out, one of the nurses ripped off his shirt and took off running with it.  He chased her, knocked over a table, and got tangled up in a chair.  Bartender jumped out to help, I jumped in to steal the liquor.  Voila!  Success!”

“Holy hell, you hoodlums,” Dean scrubbed a hand down his face and popped a piece of bacon in his mouth.  “I wanna party like that again.”

Jo firmly shook her head.  “No, you don’t.  We only get wild like that when shit goes wrong and we want to forget.  It’s a dumb way to deal with it.  We try to avoid it, but it was a special case.”  She smiled softly at Cas.  “Sorry you got dragged into that mess, but I remember you now, at least.  Small world, we’re all gathered around this table, huh?”

Castiel returned the smile and agreed, “Small world.”  He glanced at Sam and pointed out, “See?  You’ve known Gabriel for longer than you even knew.”

“Well, back then I just thought he was a wild-ass partier.  Never knew he was a doctor, but you’re right.”  He gripped Gabriel’s thigh under the table, hoping they wouldn’t have to turn to that method if anything were to happen to Maggie soon.  He also noticed he was finished with his drink and asked the rest of the table, “Who needs refills?  I’ll go grab some for anyone.”

Literally each patron raised their hand and Sam rolled his eyes, mumbling something about alcoholics and how he’d need to bring a goddamn tray with him, but he accepted.  

Once Sam was gone, Castiel tilted his head and examined his brother because of three reasons.  He hadn’t interjected more than the story had allowed.  He hadn’t been tormenting him nor Dean unnecessarily.  And he hadn’t been obnoxiously flirting with Sam in front of everyone.  Yet...Cas didn’t know if he should bring it up.

“Dude, your staring is creepy,” Gabriel admonished his brother.  “Cut it out.”

“I apologize.”  He tried to shake himself out of it and tried a different approach.  “Have you had a nice weekend?”

“Ups and downs.”  There was a tight smile that accompanied his bare-minimum answer.  “But this is a good way to cap it off.  Always love seeing little Jo-Jo socialize outside of work.  Where she can let her freak-flag fly.”

She slugged him in the arm and snipped, “Not my fault you can do it one-hundred percent of the time.  Not all of us have the luxury.”

“It’s funny,” Dean looked at Jo with a grin, “Never thought you of all people could deal with Gabriel, let alone work with him everyday.”

“He keeps it interesting.  Plus,” she whispered dramatically, “Don’t you tell him I told you, but he’s actually damn good at his job.  One of the best.  You know I wouldn’t pair myself with any less.”  She flopped back in her seat and wrapped an arm around his shoulder.  “But you didn’t hear that from me.”

Still, straight from Jo’s lips actually made the words sink in with Dean.  It wasn’t that he questioned it (all right, maybe given Gabriel’s personality he had his questions about what kind of a doctor he really was), but now he was pretty damn impressed.  And, in a weird way, proud.  He knew his brother had only just found out about Gabriel’s profession, but he wondered how much he really knew.  He’d find out soon enough.

Watching Sam balance all the drinks on his way back was hilarious all by itself, but he managed to get everyone’s order right because of his spot-on memory, and that’s when Cas brought something up.

“Are we still planning on the make-up study session tomorrow?”

Sam sipped the top off his overly-filled drink and nodded, “Yeah, I thought so.  Should we send a group text?  I’ll promise to lay off Ruby.”

Gabriel raised an eyebrow and glanced at Sam, “What’s this, I hear?”

“Uh…” He looked awkward as he admitted, “I had a little bit of an attitude last time we met.  Kind of scared the others away.”

“Understatement,” Cas blatantly said, but didn’t look too put out.  “The bar is coming up in a couple weeks.  We can’t afford anymore outbursts.”

“Okay, mom.”  Sam didn’t use any attitude when he said it.  It was a show of defeat.  “I’ll get everyone breakfast as an apology or something.”

“Damn.  Couple weeks, huh?”  Jo echoed, “You guys gonna be ready for it?  I know that’s the big stressor when it comes to your lawyer gig.”

“Yeah, but they’re both brainiacs,” Dean answered for the pair and huffed.  “Practically born for it.  It’ll be a walk in the park.”

“While I appreciate your support, there’s still much material we need to cover and study.  The first part of the standardized test is two hundred questions of pure memorization and-” Cas was quickly cut off, this time by his brother.

“You know you already know it.  Both of ya.”  It looked like everyone had more confidence in them than they had in themselves.  Which was both comforting and a little annoying, but no one wanted to pit themselves against either Gabriel nor Dean.

Castiel already had his phone pulled out and was selecting contacts, absently asking Sam, “Do you remember what time we were discussing meeting?”

“Uh, it was another early one, right?  Maybe nine?  Everyone can get there by then, even with Meg’s and Balthazar’s commute.”

“I’ll make sure everyone is on board, then.”

Sam knew the message was sent when his phone vibrated in his pocket and Cas set his down, going back to indulging in his drink.  Jo was tapping Gabriel’s arm lightly, but he didn’t seem to notice.  He had zoned out for a moment.  Her tapping turned into prodding and then he finally turned to face her.

“We’re in at noon, right?  Are you still pulling that double, like a dumbass?”  Her eyes were narrowed, because while Gabriel had changed his schedule around, a bit it was still decently intensive.

Mostly, because it was all he knew.  

And it was only recently that he and Sam had reached the next level in their relationship.  

Once again, he wouldn’t let his optimism go too far when it came to anything.  He was taking baby steps when it came to his availability and working and partially living at the hospital was his comfort zone.  But now, maybe he could allow himself to have a new comfort zone.  Especially because Sam was done with school and studying only took up so much time-

“Yes, Joanna, I’m still pulling that double like a dumbass,” he confirmed with a patronizing drawl.  “But I’ll try to work normal hours soon.”  Gabriel couldn’t help but glance over to Sam for a split-second.  “I guess I don’t need my private island anymore.”

“Good.”  Jo crossed her arms with a triumphant smile on her face.  “Gotta feeling it was you who managed to knock some sense into him, Sam.  Never thought I’d see the day.  I feel like I need to get you a present or something.”

“I’ll chip in.”  Cas shifted his focus between Jo and Sam.  “I’ve been insisting Gabriel change his lifestyle for years, but nothing had seemed to sink in with him.  If I’d have known all it took was my best friend, I would have shoved Sam at him sooner.”

“Yer makin’ my brother sound like a ritualistic sacrifice.”  Dean’s voice echoed inside the tall glass he was drinking from.  “But I know about the work struggle.  Cas managed to wrangle me away from it on weekends, at least.  Joanna Beth, your mother is a slave driver.”

With a wince, Jo confirmed, “Dude, I know.  I’m sorry about that.  She runs a tight ship.  She’s talked about the turn-around rate and let’s just say the employees that stick with her?  She values the fuck out of you guys.  And I’ve heard her talk about you, Dean.  Doesn’t mention many people, but she’s spoken about you like you’re the second coming. You’ve saved her ass where other hires would’ve crashed and burned.”  Dean was looking at her like she had grown a second head, which had her instantly defending, “Hey!  I’m close with my mom, all right?!  We talk about things!  Learn to take a compliment!”

“He’s terrible with those things.” Cas smiled at the man in question and bumped their shoulders together.  “See?  You don’t have to burn the midnight oil to be appreciated.”

“Yeah, whatever.”  He grumbled, hating being put under a microscope, no matter how positive.

“Hey, I think I’m gonna take off,” Gabriel said very suddenly, pulling out his wallet and leaving a wad of cash that would more than cover their entire bill on the table.  “Would one of you mind running Sam home?”

With his eyebrows raised, Sam looked at Gabriel in surprise and asked, “Wait, you’re just taking off?  I can go back with-”

“I’ve got something to do.  I’m sorry for running out like this, but I just remembered something.”  His smile was forced, but Sam stood up with him.

“I’ll walk you out.”  There was no room for discussion.

“Okay, Sasquatch,” he relented as they dodged their way through the inside of the restaurant to the only entrance slash exit of the building.

The sidewalk was on the opposite side of the outdoor patio and they continued until there was a small alleyway where Sam grabbed his wrist and pulled Gabriel to a stop.  He looked concerned as he asked, “Hey, are you all right?  I thought...you’d want me to come back with you.  Like usual.”

Because it was true.  Any time there was a chance for them to fall asleep together, they always took advantage of it.  Tonight was one of those nights, so why was Gabriel refusing?  Did it have something to do with their discovery?  Was he having second thoughts about the Tinder connection?  Sam didn’t know what was going on in Gabriel’s head, but he didn’t like it.

Gabriel took both of Sam’s hands and looked at him with a strangely serious expression.  “Sam, don’t think about this too hard.  We’re fine.  There’s just something I need to do while I’m still in doctor-mode.  I-”

“Yeah, I noticed you never really left it.”  Sam could barely fake a half-smile.  “And I understand.  I just hoped there was a way to cheer you up.  You know I love carefree, sassy Gabriel.”

“Well, you gotta take me in all forms, kid.”  It was strangely even and solemn.  “And right now, there’s no pulling me out, so I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize,” Sam quickly rushed out, hoping he hadn’t given him the wrong idea.  “No matter what form, it’s fine.  It’s you.  And I love you.  So...do what you have to do and call me.  Or text me.  It doesn’t matter.  I hope you get done whatever you need.”  He admitted with a sigh.  “I’m just relieved it’s not a problem with us, you know?”

“Nah, never was.  You should know that,” Gabriel pulled him down for a kiss then slowly let go of his hands.  “Love you, too.  Have fun with the others, okay?  Don’t worry about me.  I’ll get back with you.”

“Okay,” he stated and then watched Gabriel leave and head in the direction of his car.

Maybe he lingered too long, but he worried about his boyfriend.  He realized there were different sides of the man that he wasn’t privy to yet and this was one of them.  Obviously Gabriel had a task that he didn’t need Sam around for, and while that was fine, Sam wanted to be there for him later.  He debated the idea of hanging around with the group, lingering as long as possible, and then maybe seeing if Gabriel wanted him to come by after he completed doctor-mode...

But that wasn’t what he’d said.  Maybe Sam was getting clingy.  God, that was the last thing Gabriel needed.  He was used to his independence.  He was used to his work, and apparently previous casual encounters, and so the relationship thing was what he wanted, but new.  

Sam didn’t want to make him regret it.  

Eventually, he sighed and headed back inside.

He knew for a fact that chunk of cash on the table wasn’t simply to cover their drinks thus far.  It was to keep them going and Dean was probably bitching about it right now.  At least he had Cas and Jo to explain, to placate his brother.  So what if Sam had another drink or two?

Tonight, he’d get to bed early, even though it was lonesome.  Tomorrow, he’d have a distraction in the form of the study group.  Because Cas’ words rang true: it was a couple of weeks away.  And that fact alone was nerve-racking, now that he thought about it.  They were getting down to the wire and Sam had better things to do than worry about imaginary problems with his boyfriend.

--------------------

When Sam got home, everything was so tentative...

He didn’t know what he should, or should not, be doing because normally, he would be with Gabriel now.  Or he’d be texting Gabriel now.  Or, in another time, he’d be messaging Rich.  His world was in this strange transition and he wasn’t sure if he liked it or not.

Sam didn’t pretend like he knew exactly what was going on because Gabriel’s life and his problems, it now turned out since the truth had been revealed, were on a whole other level than his own.  Like, on a life-or-death level when it came down to it.

However, Sam’s problem?  Was that he liked to talk.  He enjoyed talking things out and finding solutions, whether it was with the person he needed to resolve things with (he needed no resolution with Gabriel, they were fine) or deeper issues within himself.  He...just needed someone to talk to.

It was something he honestly didn’t have.

Mostly because his best friend was Cas, who was undoubtedly with his brother right now.

And Dean would be the other likely candidate to have his talks with.

Sam collapsed to the couch in his apartment and sighed.  As happy as he was for the two of them, it sucked in times like this, times when he needed a friend.  There wasn’t even a remote alternative that he could think of to get in touch with.  Sam was the type of person who forged tight, personal friendships; he didn’t have fleets of casual social friends that he could ring up to go party with.  No, he was a private person for the most part.

It was rare that he found someone trustworthy and compatible enough to let them into his life.  And it wasn’t as though his life was anything spectacular or he had skeletons in his closet.  He was simply a private person who valued friendships.  If he committed to too many, spread himself too thin, he couldn’t give anyone the attention and devotion they deserved, at least that’s what he would have wanted.

This was just the price he paid for being so selective.

Although, he did have a new number in his phone.  A possible budding relationship.  Would it be too early to call this person?  Would it be strange, given the nature of the relationships they were involved in?

Sam was staring at the screen and thoughtfully humming to himself when he decided to send the text.

Not even a minute after it had sent, did he have a ringing phone in his hand.  

While it startled him, he picked it up with a collected, “Hey!  Didn’t know if you were home or not.  How are you?”

“Currently?  Hydrating!”  Jo’s cheery voice answered, then admitted, “Drank too much.  But, duh, with that deal and Gabe’s donation?  How could I not?”

Sam couldn’t help but laugh because his long-lost, new-again friend most definitely sounded intoxicated.  “Yeah, I understand.  It was a pretty good special.”

“Right?  I think I drank your share since you stopped and all.”

He winced at the implication, but his boyfriend’s abrupt exit was a little bit of a buzz kill and he had a rule: drinking was for celebrating, rather than drowning sorrows.  

...For the most part.

“Yeah, got an early study group in the morning.  You heard Cas.” He decided to stretch the truth a little.

“I gotcha.  I remember those days.  Can’t say I miss ‘em.”  She didn’t pause at all before launching into, “But that isn’t what you wanted to chat about.  What’s on your mind, Sammy?”

“Hah, I can see you’re not the girl for small talk, huh?”  He couldn’t help but chuckle, “I... Okay.  You know Gabe better than I do.  That’s just a fact.  I’m still learning what to do.  The best way to help him when he gets like this.”

“Well, you followed him out.  What was he like?”

“He just said he was still in doctor-mode and there was something he had to do,” Sam sighed and added, “I don’t know if this is TMI, but whenever we can - doesn’t matter if it’s two in the morning, or what - whenever he’s done with a shift, we stay the night with each other.  I get he’s in doctor-mode, but...he didn’t even want me to wait it out or support him. We could have spent the rest of the day together.  But...he just told me to go home.  I don’t know...”

“Doctor-mode outside of work is different for him.  He’s a leave-it-at-the-office kinda guy,” Jo explained, but her voice dropped to something more solemn when she pressed, “It’s Maggie’s that’s the special case.  You know how we were talking about that crazy drunk night out after Jacob?”

“Yeah, I do.”  Sam was glad drunk-Jo was taking him so seriously.

“Jacob was a kid we had been treating forever.  A lot like Maggie, actually.  Sweet, spunky, carved their way into your heart at first glance.  I won’t go into the details, because... God, I don’t even want to think about it.  But he was one of the first kids I got attached to when I first started the job there.  Long story short?  We fought for that kid.  Fought tooth and nail, treatment after treatment, surgeries upon surgeries, and in the end, there was nothing we could do.  We lost him.  We were all so fucking torn up and the only thing we could do was go out and try to forget.  Poor Cas was legit worried about Gabe going off the deep end.  That’s how he got roped into it.  Not to make sure he didn’t drink too much, like we said.”  She paused for a second to clear her throat.  “And I think we’re all scared Maggie’s gonna be another Jacob.”

“But when we saw her today-” Sam began, but Jo cut him off just as quickly.

“It’s not about seeing the kid, Sam.  It’s about their disease.  That’s the bitch of it all.  It’s not about how they look.  It’s about what’s going on under the surface, and her heart.  It just ain’t working right.”  Jo sighed heavily before she said, “If Gabe was in doctor-mode, it’s over Maggie.  I don’t know if he’s thinking about future treatment, if he’s changing her current regimen, but my guess is he needs to be clear-headed and focused to do it.”

There was a brightness in Jo’s voice that appeared when she added, “It’s not a bad thing to be a distraction, Sam.  You’re the best thing that’s happened to Gabriel.  Trust me on this.  I’ve never seen him this happy and working with him, day in and day out...you’ll never know what a difference you’ve made in his life.  He’s so gone on you and seeing you guys together?  Hell, Maggie wants you two to get married!  How’s that for obvious?!  I’m just saying.  But...this is a special case.  Let him do his thing because as much as you want to keep patients as cases, it doesn’t work.  It’s personal and he’s trying to save her.”

“Thank you, Jo,” Sam tried to show how much he meant it through his voice.  “I understand how crazy your work’s got to be.  I guess I forgot what a toll it takes, too.  I kind of feel like an asshole, but I want to help him at the same time, you know?  I just wish there was something I could do.”

“And you know what?  There will be.  Just wait it out.  We both know he’s hardheaded.  He probably thinks he’s on a mission from God or something.  Let him get it out and be there for him.”  Jo paused and almost hesitated to say, “Do you think you can handle that?  Because it’s okay...some people-”

“Of course, I can,” Sam stopped her in pure disbelief.  “Jo, I love him.  This isn’t me getting pissed off about getting blown off. This is me wanting to make him happy when I know he’s upset.  It’s two different things.”

“Okay, good.”  There was a sureness in her voice.  “Because it takes a lot to handle Gabriel and everything that comes with him, but he’s worth it.”

“I know.”  There wasn’t a shadow of a doubt as to why Gabriel had handled their...courtship the way he had.  Not like it would have mattered - because Sam was all in.  “I can take Gabriel and everything else.  I want to.  We’re getting married, right?”

“Obviously.”  Her teasing tone had returned with a vengeance.  “He’ll be back soon.  And I’ll give him hell tomorrow.  Well, not hell, just some punches and elbows ‘cause his wifey is worried.”

“And here we go...  Everyone thinks I’m the girl.” Sam rolled his eyes fondly.

“It’s the hair, Sam.  Your long, luscious locks.  Swoon.”

“Go hydrate your drunk ass, Jo.”  He laughed and sighed.  “But thank you, again.  I don’t have a lot of people to talk to, so I’m sorry you had to be the one to hear me whine.”

“Nah, I’m always here!  Just text me some harassment material on Gabe from time to time.  That’ll be my payment.  Sound like a deal?”

“Fair trade,” Sam agreed on that.  “I’ll brainstorm and hit you back for this bitchfest as soon as I come up with a fun fact.”

“I can’t wait!  Have a good night and don’t stress out.  Good to reconnect!”

“You, too!  Goodnight, Jo.”

Once they hung up, Sam kept his phone on him as he made a late dinner and gathered his materials for the study session tomorrow morning.  Hell, he even kept the device on the bathroom counter while he took a shower.  He still hadn’t heard from Gabriel when he was crawling into bed just before midnight, but he forced himself to remember Jo’s words - because those were what mattered and she was right.

He needed to let Gabriel do his thing and be there for him when he came back out of it.  Sam was ready and willing.  He knew what he was in for and he loved the man.  He hoped Gabriel knew that, too.

-------------------

Gabriel had spent the night drafting, editing, and going over an email about a million times.  He was usually good at this, speaking in a professional tone, but when it came to a personal matter, it was difficult to stick to the facts rather than embellishing to make his case sound even more urgent than it already was.

That was the reason why he had to read the damn thing over and over.  Once he’d come to what he considered a pretty damn polished work, he let it sit overnight and decided he would come back to it tomorrow with a fresh, rested set of eyes.

When he woke up and Sam wasn’t next to him.  He was instantly reminded of the fact that he’d completely forgotten to get back with the man the night before.  

And he was also reminded that falling asleep without him sucked.  

His bed was too damn big without his giant of a boyfriend.  It was only warm where his own body lay and there was nothing besides blankets to snuggle up against.

But in the moment last night, he had tunnel vision.

And after shooting off an apology text to Sam and an “I hope study group isn’t a Battle Royale,” he hopped back to his laptop and pulled up the document.

His eyes scanned through first for content.  Did he sound as professional as he usually did?  Did he use too many adverbs?  Did the context of the email warrant sending it in the first place?  

Fuck yes, it did.

After one last look for spelling and grammar, he pulled up his hospital email address and the UNOS’ private physician's contact information.

The United Network for Organ Sharing was the organization that put together the wait-list of which patients got the goods when they needed an organ transplant.  

Maggie was already on the list for a new heart.  There were a lot of things the UNOS took into account when they compiled that very list, and the wait time could take anywhere from days to years.  It was managed pretty damn fairly: the more dire the need, the higher you were ranked on the list.  If a compatible organ donor popped up, you’d be called immediately.

But the thing was, that there were thousands on this list.  There was no way to determine Maggie’s spot, but in light of recent events and her stroke, Gabriel was bound and hellbent to write a professional letter, as her cardiologist, to make her case even more urgent.  If he could do anything to shift her spot up, he was going to.

The previous night he couldn’t help but feel helpless.  When Sam had mentioned her future, the gut-wrenching feeling that she may not have one at all tore into him something fierce and he wished their was something he could do.

So his brain went into overdrive and this was what he came up with.

Patients’ needs and conditions changed all the time, and if Maggie was getting worse, the UNOS should know.  This could very well be an isolated incident, but it may be enough to make a difference in the board’s eyes.  Gabriel was going to fight for her, dammit.

He could use the hospital’s reputation, as well as his own, to make it happen.  This wasn’t a no-name family practice in the boondocks.  This was a specialized pediatric hospital with nothing but stars and stripes surrounding it.  If he said something about a little girl named Margaret Shawn, they were going to listen.

When he clicked send, only half the tension dissipated because although he’d done his part... Who knew if it was enough?  Hopefully, he’d hear back.  Or even better, hopefully Maggie’s family would hear from them.

Now, it was a waiting game to find the right donor to match her with and hope the email did something in her favor.

Gabriel leaned back in his chair with a sigh and when his alarm went off, he groaned because it was time to get ready for work.  He’d set everything a little earlier just so he could hop in and see the girl just before his shift started.  From a text Jo sent, it appeared she was planning on doing the same.

-----------------------

Gabriel 11:17am
Sorry about last night didn’t mean to leave you hanging
I hope your study session went/is going good

Sam 11:29am
Taking a break right now, we’re almost done
And no problem I know you had a lot on your mind
I hope everything worked out for you : )

Gabriel 11:31am
You and me both are hoping
But thank you, I mean it
Missed waking up next to you though

Sam 11:33am
Yeah I’ve gotten spoiled too
You’re a nice little space heater

Gabriel 11:35am
Little space heater?!
Is that all I am to you?!

Sam 11:36am
Among other things
That’s what I missed last night
They shut off the heat in the apartments because it’s summer
But didn’t bother to look at the weather this week
It was freezing

Gabriel 11:38am
It’s cause you live in the ghetto and dgaf
You need a key to my place
Or just move in
Because you’re gonna get shot one of these days
With me, you’re just gonna get mounted
Pick your poison!

Sam 11:43am
Really?  
That’s how you ask me to move in with you?
By text?
With a punch line?

Gabriel 11:45am
……
Did you expect anything different?

Sam 11:46am
Nope
And I wouldn’t change a thing

Chapter Text

The bar was packed that night, nearly body to body, but somehow they managed to carve out a nook in one of the corners because they were a party unto themselves.  It was finally July and after all the preparation, after all the years and hard work, everything had panned out and they had done it.  They’d passed the bar exam and everyone was out to celebrate.

No one cared about student loans, the promise of future hangovers, or sleep deprivation.  There was excitement in the air, liquor in their veins, and shots in their hands as the party continued to get rowdier by the second.  

It wasn’t just the core study group of Meg, Ruby, Balthazar, Castiel, and Sam.  Dean had pulled Charlie out from her usual club scene to enjoy the bar, with the promise of a small dance floor to boot, and it didn’t take Gabriel much work at all to convince Jo to come join in the fun.

The additional four were mingling in with the future lawyers like they’d been friends for years and the wait staff were fighting over their corner because Gabriel was throwing tip money their way like it was going out of style.

After all, he wanted it to be a proper celebration.

A lot had happened in the time leading up to the bar exam.

Castiel had forfeited a few nights with Dean to help Ruby with some one-on-one study sessions that paid off in the long run because the joy on her face when she confidently walked out of both sections couldn’t be accurately described in words.  More than anything, it solidified Cas’ desire to become a teacher.  To see one of his students succeed had been a payment in and of itself, not to mention Ruby’s funding of all his drinks that evening.  And they were not in short supply.

And Dean didn’t feel bad about a few rain checks on their dates.  

They were doing better than ever.  

After they’d plowed through their initial block of uncertainty and Dean finally got with the program and realized Cas wasn’t going to leave and that he loved him, his confidence grew exponentially.  As did their relationship.  

God, did it feel good to see Cas let loose like this.  Fuck, was Dean proud of him.

He was damn proud of his little brother, too.

While Dean had balked at how quickly Sam moved in with Gabriel, no one could deny that it made sense.  

After all, he didn’t need that cheap-ass apartment that was only good for its proximity to the University.  He’d already graduated, his lease was coming up, and what they had was something special.  What no one had seen coming was the damn dog.

Especially Gabriel.

He blamed it entirely on Maggie.

Sam had given him those puppy eyes that lead to a real-life puppy, explaining that he’d told Maggie that she needed the gumption to grow up to become a veterinarian, so why not have a pup she could “practice on?”  

And so Sam had “logic”d his way into getting them a friggin mutt (maybe because he’d wanted a dog his whole life and Gabriel would let the kid get away with murder and help bury the body).  Whatever.  They had the backyard for it.  They smuggled it in one day when they knew Maggie was coming in for a checkup.  Plus, the look on her face when she saw the puppy?

Priceless.

Gabriel would have bought out the whole Palo Alto Animal Rescue to see that smile again.

And speaking of smiles, Gabriel noticed on the dance floor that Dean’s co-worker was not-so-subtly checking out Jo.  Which he found...intriguing.

Sam was in a deep, intellectual conversation with the chick named Meg about some TV show called Snapped (speaking of murder) when Gabriel shimmied his way over to Dean and elbowed the man in the side.  Hard enough to earn an “Oof!”  Oops.

“So!  Tell me about Red?”  Gabriel obnoxiously cut off whatever Dean was saying to Cas and he turned towards him.

“Charlie?  What do you wanna know about Charlie?”  His face scrunched up in confusion and Castiel leaned in to join the conversation while he sipped the straw of a vodka tonic (or whatever that Ruby chick was buying him).

“She looked like she wants to eat my little Jo-Jo up for dinner.  So tell me all the things!” Gabriel jeered his head to where Charlie was obliviously dancing on the floor, but continually glancing over to check out the blonde’s ass.

“Huh...” Dean looked very suddenly fascinated.  “They’ve met a couple times.  At the holiday party.  Since Charlie’s my coworker and Jo’s mom owns our company, and all.  I never knew Char had a thing for her, but I guess at an event like that, the boss’ daughter would have a big, fat ‘hands-off’ sign attached, huh?”  Then he turned his attention to Gabriel, “You think Charlie’s Jo’s type?  I know sexy is basically Charlie’s type.”

Gabriel faked a gasp and shook his head.  “I feel like we’re discussing my daughter!  Jo’s my child. I can’t call her sexy!  It’s straight-up weird.”

“He does feel a paternal bond with Joanna-” Cas chimed in, “so he wouldn’t be able to answer the question properly.  Would you like me to ask her myself?”

With a snort, Dean ruffled Cas’ hair and encouraged, “Go ahead, drunkie!”

“I’ll go procure the information.”  Cas nodded in that serious, ambition-driven way that wasn't fit for a celebration party, but suited Castiel anyway.

The two watched him march off and Gabriel noted, “Wow, he’s smashed, huh?  How did that happen?  He’s got the tolerance of an elephant!”

“Should we kick him?” Dean sneered in turn.

“Can’t believe you fell for him... Even after that fiasco!” Gabriel side-eyed him, but with approval.  “You’re a stubborn sonuva bitch, ain’t ya?”

“Could say the same about you.”

“I can see you two huffing and puffing,” Sam called from behind and put himself in between the two older brothers, using their shoulders to catch himself, wearing the beginnings of an intoxicated flush on his face.  “Who wants to do a shot?”

“Should we wait for Cas to return from his mission?”  Gabriel asked with a brow raised and directed his question beyond Sam, to the man he was currently chatting with before his adorable boyfriend's arrival.

Dean stuck out his bottom lip in thought, “Maybe.  Shouldn't be too much of a wait.  He’s ‘quite proficient.’  That’s a quote from him, not me.”

“Oo, what is he proficient with, exactly?” Gabriel asked lewdly with a waggle of his eyebrows.  “There’s more to that story-”

“I’ve returned with both women!”  Castiel announced as he pushed both Jo and Charlie forward who both wore confused expressions, staggering in their heels, then he continued with, “Dean and Gabriel were discussing whether or not you’d be suitable companions.  I thought it would be more effective for us all to discuss it, rather than going back and forth.  What are your thoughts?”

“Jesus, Cas!”  Dean smacked him in the arm while Charlie’s face tinged pink and Sam’s hand flew to cover his mouth so he didn’t crack up laughing.

Sam failed miserably and couldn’t hold back to save his life.  He doubled over cackling and slapped his thigh in enthusiasm.  Neither of the women looked impressed with him either.

Jo deadpanned, “Well, Gabe.  I can finally see the family resemblance.  You’re both embarrassing dumbasses.”

“Oh my God!”  Sam finally righted himself, pecked Gabriel on the cheek and announced, “We’re doing that shot now!  That will make this a little less awkward!”

“I admire your enthusiasm!”  Charlie forced a smile and followed after the man who had a skip in his step. “To the bar!”

---------------------------

Gabriel couldn’t keep his eyes off Sam even though he tried.  While everyone knew he was a love-struck idiot, he wanted to keep some of the mystery and behave like and adult...

Fuck it.

He already knew it was plastered all over his face and it was all thanks to the double-trouble pair in the study group. They went by the names of Meg and Ruby and they made it their duty to get all of them trashed.  Every.  Single.  Party-goer.

And, no-oh, not lightly trashed.

This was the kind of drunk reserved for Gabriel’s wild, live-for-the-moment, everything-sounds-like-an-amazing-idea-until-you’re-in-handcuffs youth.

Except, these days, he wasn’t on the hunt for a good lay and a crazy, mostly-forgotten, blurred good time.

Right now, the only thing that mattered was the way Sam lit up while surrounded by of all his friends.  The way he fucking glowed when Gabriel caught his eye.  And, God, all Gabriel wanted to do was make him even happier.

Every time their eyes met, they lingered too long, but so what?  This was first time in his entire goddamn life he could say that he was honestly content and it had everything to do with that overgrown puppy, currently reaching out for him where they had small glasses lined up at the along the wooden bar top.

Gabriel appreciated the shit out of the fact that Jo shot him a glance that told him that she knew exactly what was going on, but she didn’t call him out.  Since a happy doctor made for a happy nurse.  

Or at least that was what Gabriel was telling himself.  

Because when it came down to it, Jo was probably his best friend and she had always wanted this for him.  It was something he never thought he would get.  Shit, that was a cold, harsh reality he’d accepted a while ago.  Who knows what he had done to deserve what he had now, but he refused to take it for granted.

He took Sam’s hand and let him tug him to the bar.

Hell, the kid almost knocked Gabriel off his feet, Sam yanked him so hard, and then quickly apologized, pressing a sloppy kiss to his cheek.  He gestured to the counter. “Sorry, it’s tequila.  Couldn’t talk the girls out of it.”

“Eh, not my first choice, but whatever the ladies want.”  He took the shot and nodded his head, “Who am I to complain?  After all, Deano seems to think there’s a budding relationship in the works!”

Jo’s hand shot up and smothered his face, glancing back to Charlie and explaining, “He’s always like this.  It’s better to ignore him...” with a forced grin.  “Tactless.  Obnoxious.  True Gabriel.”

He grabbed her wrist and asked with an innocent pout, “How am I supposed to drink this with your fist in my mouth?”

“That was your warning!” Jo snapped and narrowed her eyes at him.  “Okay, let’s get drunk!”

It didn’t go without his notice that Dean gave him a what-the-fuck-man-look since he wasn’t even the one to initiate this set-up before he tossed his back.  They looked around for the limes that were scattered around the table and Gabriel regretfully missed the memo on the salt, but Sam happily stuffed a lime in his boyfriend’s mouth for him with a mischievous grin.  It cut the burn so he couldn’t complain much and Sam looked quite proud of himself.

“That’s the stuff!” Charlie giggled as she tossed her lime into the empty glass and shimmied her shoulders.  “Phew, I love tequila!”

“Mm, whiskey’s my go-to, but tequila isn’t bad.”  The blonde smiled at her, and from where Dean and Gabriel were watching, it definitely looked flirtatious.

Charlie had an excellent built-in flirt-detector and it seemed like she’d picked up on it, too.  So she leaned a bit closer on the bar towards Jo and tilted her head, agreeing, “You do seem like a badass whiskey chick.  I haven’t had a shot of that in God knows how long!  Wanna hold my hand and see if I can still handle it?”

Jo’s grin was shark-like as she nodded and waved at the bartender. “Four shots of Jameson, please!”

Castiel and Sam looked between each other with alarm because there had in no way, shape, or form been pacing themselves.  They were already good and drunk because of the celebration and now the girls were bringing out the big guns?  

They were toast.  Completely and totally toast.

“It’s all right.”  Dean wrapped his arm around Cas’ waist and hip bumped him.  “I’ll hold your hair tomorrow morning.”

The man’s eyebrows scrunched up in concern as he asked, “Why would you hold my hair?  I don’t understand.  While sometimes you play with it, when it comes to hair, you like it much better when I pull yours-”

“Woah, buddy!”  Dean couldn’t cut Castiel off fast enough, which sent the women and Gabriel into a fit of giggles and Sam was left looking nauseated already.  “It’s a figure of- never mind.  You can handle your own hangover, you little shit.”

That caused a tug on the corners of Castiel’s lips as he studied Dean closely and shook his head.  “No, you’ll be there.  No matter how terrible it is.  Now, Sam...” he turned his attention to his friend.  “What are the statistics when it comes to the probability of us getting alcohol poisoning tonight?”

“Shouldn’t you be asking the person with the, I don’t know, medical degree?” Charlie pointed out with mocking stare.  “Ya know.  Utilize your sources, hmm?”

Castiel was leaning heavily on the bar as the bartender flipped her ponytail behind her shoulder and poured the shots when he slurred, “Gabriel is an extremely bad influence.  While I may trust him with an emergency appendectomy, I do not trust him when it comes to liquor nor anything surrounding the topic.”  Then he stumbled forward, grabbing Sam’s shoulder and earnestly told him, “I am quite ecstatic he will keep public humiliation to a minimum to at least save face in front of you, Sam.  I have never been shown such kindness in the past.”

“Woah, woah!”  Gabriel grabbed his brother with a look of false shock.  Then instead of addressing any of the prior issues of alcohol poisoning, he brought up and he focused on, “Who’s to say I’m gonna save you any humiliation, Cassie?  I‘m not that benevolent.”

With his lips pursed firmly in a line, Castiel dramatically hauled his body weight back to the bar and grabbed his shot glass.

“I think you’re getting the silent treatment,” Dean whispered loudly, “You may have hurt his feelings.”

“Buck up, buttercup,” Gabriel gave Cas’ ass a firm smack before he grabbed his own shot.  “As a medical practitioner, thank you very much, I can say mixing all this bullshit is a terrible idea.  But as a human being, I can say screw it.”

The others seemed to accept his answer and everyone tipped theirs back when Gabriel spurred the cheers.  He couldn’t help but wink at Sam as he slammed the cup down on the bar top.  Around them, Dean was getting tangled into a conversation with Cas about how they were going to utilize the jacuzzi later (which he promptly tuned out), and Charlie managed to drag Jo onto the dance floor with her A+ game.

In regards to the latter, Gabriel commented, “There’s a match made in Heaven, right there.”

“Heaven, huh?”  Sam’s eyes were flickering between his eyes and his lips.  “That’s a new one.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”  He asked hesitantly with a frown, having no idea where the younger man was going with this.

“It’s cheating.”  He said, like the word explained it all, and he gestured over his shoulder to order two more beers.

Gabriel was even more confused and he crossed his arms because the seductive way Sam was looking at him didn’t matter.  Because his words were concerning him.  “What kinda cheating are we talking about here?”

With his hands now full of beer, Sam handed one off, which ended Gabriel’s physically visible pouted and Sam made a move for him to follow his lead.  Of course, Gabriel did so easily, but was kind of getting irritated about not having an answer.  Once they were in a more secluded area, Sam leaned down and kissed him full on the lips, like he meant it.

Gabriel was caught off guard, but not in a bad way.  However, before he could haul that smartass back down for round two of a rowdy drunk kiss, Sam sipped the sloshing top off his drink.

With a wide smirk, Sam pronounced, “It’s cheating ‘cause it’s too easy.”  He brushed his nose against Gabriel’s affectionately as he finished, “They’re supposed to have an awkward back story, first off.  And it has to involve Tinder.  Like me and you, you catfishing asshole.”

A full, belly-laugh escaped Gabriel’s chest as he realized what his boyfriend was getting at and agreed heartily, “Yeah!  They got off way too easy.  Yer supposed to start the romance by swiping right.”  Then he couldn’t help but admit, “Hey, you had smooth sailing!  You were chatting it up with your reflection.  I had a crush on someone wearing my brother.  So fuck you, Winchester.”

“Promise?”  Sam all but purred, still hovering right inside Gabriel’s bubble.

He shook his head wryly and scoffed, “As if I could ever say no to you, kiddo.”

“So that’s a yes.”  Sam wasted no time tossing back more than half of his pint glass, but then he began ungracefully coughing as the carbonation caught up with him.  He tried to cover it up and point blank asked, “So...how soon is it acceptable for us to get out of here?”

There was a fire beginning to run through his veins, but Gabriel had to keep his voice even and collected when he stated, “It’s your celebration party.  I think you can do whatcha want.  So long as you say your farewells to your friends.  You’ve done a surplus of mingling, if that stagger in yer step is anything to go by.”

And, damn, those puppy eyes were out in full-force.

“You’re not gonna be weird and judge me because I drank too much, right?”

“Why the hell would I do that?”  Gabriel blinked at the accusation.  “I’m just staying on the softer side of tanked to watch out for you.  Wanna be responsible and take care of my Sasquatch, but I ain’t sober by a long shot, fool.”

“Kay.  Good.”  Sam flashed him a smile and turned on his heels (almost tipping over in the process) for what he could only assume was to say those suggested goodbyes.

Gabriel watched him strut, watched him work on finishing his drink and hand out hugs around the table to his study group.  In that time, Gabriel decided to say some good nights of his own since it was obvious Sam was looking to blow this popsicle stand like, yesterday.

He turned back to the bar where Cas and Dean hadn’t wandered far from (just to set their drinks on a high-top table shared with the couple chatting on the other side) and crossed his fingers things were decently PG.  Dean was surprisingly alert and caught Gabriel’s approach from a distance.  Cas had no fucking idea and was gesturing and spilling his beer all over the floor.  

God bless his little blacked-out brother.  Dean had a handful to deal with when they got home.

So Gabriel, noting Cas’ current state, decided to use this to his advantage.  After all, a drunk Cas was about as rare as a solar eclipse so how could he not?  

“Where’s Sammy?” were the first words out of Dean’s mouth, per usual, and Gabriel rolled his eyes, chugging some of his beer.

After all, it was easier to deal with Dean Winchester with a heavier buzz than not.

“Saying adios to his peeps.  Figure it’ll take a hot sec since he’s currently fighting gravity.  So I wanted to chat it up over here while I could get you two lovers alone and...I can't help but to ask... What now?”  He leaned on the table, and while Dean had been addressing him, Gabriel pitched his voice over to Cas.  Then for clarity, added, “By now, I mean the future.  What’s going down after passing the bar?  What’s in the works for you?”

“Teaching.”  Cas perked up.  “I’m going to spend the rest of the summer looking into some different avenues and then in the fall I’m confident I’ll have employment.”

This was news to Gabriel.  He tilted his head and asked, “Teaching?  Cas, you’d be the best damn lawyer this side of the country and you want to teach?”

“It was a recent revelation.  One that I thought long and hard about.”  His voice was so damn enthusiastic about it.  Gabriel hadn’t heard him so thrilled about something career-wise in...well...ever.  “I believe it’s my true calling and I’m optimistic in my chances.”

“Well, duh.”  Gabriel couldn’t help but voice the obvious.  He’d been thrown by this news and this wasn't even what he’d come to grill them about.  “What about the two’a you?”  

Yeah, there we go.  He was getting back on track.

Cas whipped around to Dean and confessed, “I’d like a cat.”

After a double-take to make sure he’d heard him correctly, Dean balked and repeated, “A cat?!”

“Well, Sam and Gabriel adopted a dog and ever since then, I’ve been musing over adopting a cat.” Cas looked deep in thought before he firmly nodded.  “I hope that won’t be a problem.”

“Cas, we haven’t even moved in together yet!”  Dean pointed out, but was quickly cut off by his boyfriend who justified:

“But we will, of course.  It’s only a matter of time.  And once we do, we’ll have a cat instead of a dog.”

“The hell, that’s the part you’re so settled on?  I have allergies, dude!”

“Gabriel could prescribe you a medication for that.  Couldn’t you?”  Cas turned to his brother who was trying his hardest to keep his snickering to himself.  “Or would we have to go to another physician?”

“Dude, you’re missing the whole point-” Dean tried fruitlessly.

Which caused Cas to snap, shift his whole body, and grab Dean by the chin.  He leveled a very even look, one of those that appeared as though he was looking into your damn soul, and Dean froze up.  

Gabriel was taken aback because Dean’s entire demeanor changed when Cas’ tone dropped and he pieced together the words, “We love each other.  We’re in a relationship.  It’s only logical that we take the next step.  Especially considering I’ve basically lived at your house for the last few months.  While I’m not forcing you to ask me to move in with you, I believe it’s the correct choice.  I want to be with you, Dean, if you allow me.”  Then he leaned in to what looked like an intimate moment, but sent Gabriel for another loop when Cas all but growled, “I wish for a calico.”

At that point, Gabriel couldn’t take another second.  He slapped both men on the backs, who seemed to be still caught up in their moment and announced, “Well, you two have fun with that!  Sure we’ll see each other soon!”

And high-tailed it out of there before he could see what transpired.

It looked like this timing was perfect because as Gabriel finished his beer, Sam was shrugging on his coat and scanning the room for him.  With a wave, he caught the younger man’s attention and Sam rushed towards him to cling onto his side.

“Hey, linebacker!  Don’t take me out yet.  I thought you wanted us to make it home safe?”  Gabriel exclaimed as they headed for the exit, hand in hand.

“Sorry, got excited,” he kept stealing glances and then asked, “Did you call for an Uber?”

“Figured the streets would be crawlin’ with cabs.  What’s the point, right?”  Gabriel titled his head to catch a glimpse of those shining eyes.

“You’re right.  Always are...”  Sam pointed out a couple pulling onto the curb the second they walked onto the street.  “Let’s get moving.”

Gabriel couldn‘t help himself as he was dragged and noted, “You’re impatient.”

“We gotta let Bones out.”  He said it nervously since it was a total and bold-faced lie.

Bones had a doggie door.  They had it installed the second the mutt came into their life.  Sam was an adorable, disaster of a liar when he was drunk.

So Gabriel raised an unimpressed eyebrow.  “Uh huh.  We totally need to let her out, don’t we?  This has nothing to do with wanting to get home and any sexy times that lay ahead, right?”

“Right...”  Sam swallowed as a cab gestured them forward in a signal to enter.

“So you wouldn’t be upset if we just went to bed,” Gabriel casually suggested with a Cheshire-grin just to get him going.

“No!”  Sam shouted, making the cab driver jerk and nearly hit his head on the window once they were inside. “Sorry!” He immediately apologized to the man and rattled off their address.  Then he hissed at Gabriel, “I didn’t mean...I, uh...”

“Oh, shut up.  I can see right through you.  Just wait until we’re home..”  He kissed Sam’s knuckles and laughed at the sheer sigh of relief his stupid, cute as fuck boyfriend let out and sunk into the seats of the car.  “God, I love you.”

His body remained slumped, but he turned his head with a glowing smile.  “I love you, Gabe.”

---------------------------

The beginning of Dean getting hot and bothered had started when Cas clutched his jaw, like he did when he commanded Dean’s attention during sex, at the bar while basically demanding that they move in together.  Because he loved him.  Because they made sense together.  Even though Cas’ sobriety (or complete lack of) had made it a bit jarring, the sentiments remained the same.

Dean chose to ignore the pet thing, all together.

Because Cas wanted them to take that next step and it sounded like he was waiting on Dean.  How long had he been waiting?  Shit...

Should Dean have asked him earlier?  Why hadn’t he?  Maybe it was because, like Cas said, he was over there all the time anyway, minus the study dates when he had to remain on campus but...

What the fuck were they waiting for?

And, shit, no matter what state they were in, when Cas got all domineering it went right to Dean’s dick.  Even though Dean himself was drunk, he was nowhere near Cas’ level...  But a drunk Dean was a horny Dean and his damn boyfriend was beginning to tease him.

They looked like the average couple to anyone out there.

But right now, Cas was pushing boundaries.

And it was a different kind of boundary than they had been doing in the bedroom (because they’d been doing plenty of that, too).

The little shit was ordering things of Dean in public that he never would have sober.  And while it sent a thrill through his body, he didn’t want Cas to give...what they had, what they did, away.  Plus, Dean was struggling to hide his half-erect cock from anyone they came into contact with.  Which was proving difficult, and there were only so many tables to hide behind and ways to hold your drink until it started looking suspicious.

It kept getting worse and worse because of all the things he’d whisper into Dean’s ear..all the damn promises...

Then one time, Cas had fucking slipped using his commanding tone in front of fucking Charlie, of all people, who looked decently shocked that Cas would speak to Dean like that and that Dean would bend to his will.

That was when realization sparked in her eyes and she looked fucking thrilled.  Like, fangirl-thrilled.

If the words out of Cas’ mouth hadn’t been so delicious, Dean would have been mortified.

Goddammit.

He shouldn’t have been surprised when Charlie whisked him around the corner to the bathrooms and outside to the smoking patio, then directly to a secluded table in the corner.  Hell, how quick she moved left Dean’s already alcohol-soaked brain ricocheting in his skull.  She shoved him into a seat, sat in her own, and then scooted so close their knees overlapped.

“Dude!  You’re so a sub!”  She exclaimed just loud enough for Dean to hear, but no prying ears, “That’s what’s changed about you!  You’ve finally let yourself be you!”

“N-no,” he stammered out, “It’s not like that...”

“Don’t even try to talk your way out of this one, Dean,” Charlie scoffed, but grabbed his thigh, “Cas is so good for you.  But you guys need to get your rears home.  He’s one drink away from tying you up on a table, bro.  And I don’t know if you talked about that beforehand or not.  I’m guessing your dom just got a little too drunk-ski.”

“Seriously.  It’s not like that, Char,” he tried again, “Not...really.  Kind of.  I don’t know!  We’re...exploring, I guess.”

“Ah-hah!  There.  That’s all I needed!  Don’t worry.  I got your back.”  She winked and squeezed where she was holding his thigh.  “That’s friggin awesome.  I love Cas and you already know how good I think he’s been for you and your life.  I’m glad to finally meet him, rather than see his picture.  Way sexier in person.  I can see why you’re in love.”

“Heh,” Dean’s eyes dropped to the dirty floor, littered with cigarette butts that never made it to the ashtrays, and he nodded.  “Yeah.  I really am.”  Then he looked back up to her and suddenly felt the urge to ask, “Why am I always so afraid to pull the trigger?”

“Um...”  She looked at him quizzically.  “I’m gonna need a little more information than that.”

Dean told himself it was only because he was drunk that he was gushing like a little girl, but he couldn’t help himself.  Charlie was his best friend, a third party who was not involved in any of this by blood or previous friendships.  He needed her, in a way.

“I always doubt shit.  Cas had to be the one to say that he loved me, when I was trying to figure out a way to tell him.  In the process, I second-guessed him even wanting to be with me.  I bet you can imagine how well that went over.”  He rolled his eyes to himself.  “I’m so goddamn happy with our relationship.  I’m over the fucking moon.  I want everything with him, but it was Cas who had to tell me to invite him to move in.  Like, what the hell?  I should be doing these things and I want to, God, do I want to.  I think about it all the time, but like I said...I’m always so afraid to pull the trigger.”

Charlie’s hand turned to soothing circles against his thigh and her eyes softened.  What Dean didn’t understand was her gentle smile and he was about to make a retort, but she began speaking before he could get a word in edgewise.

“But Dean.  That’s what so...flippin’ great about all of it.  That’s what’s so great about the two of you!”  She urged in stone-set surety, “You don’t have to pull the trigger.  It sounds like he’s more than happy to do it for you.  There are so many amazing things about you, Dean.  And this one, tiny little flaw?  He fills in the cracks.  That’s something special.  That’s what love is about.  Does he ever seem upset that he has to do it?”

While Dean’s mouth was hanging open, he paused to think about it.

In their first argument, the thing that Cas got upset about was the fact that Dean didn’t think that Cas loved him.  Not that Dean didn’t love Cas.  He was already so sure in those ways.  Cas’ frustration stemmed from the fact that Dean had felt unworthy of their relationship.  He wasn’t upset when it came to the “L” word and he wasn’t upset when he mentioned moving in.  It was all so candid.  So absolute.  So friggin Cas.

“No.  Never.”  Dean’s realization shown through in his tone.  “It’s always matter-of-fact.  He never gets angry.  The only thing that makes him irritated if is I’m pushing myself too hard at work or not taking care of myself.  It’s never-”

“There you have it, I‘m gonna take the liberty of getting you guys a cab.”  Charlie pushed off him and had a look of victory on her face.  “Damn.  I’ve never seen true love in action.  I don’t wanna push my boundaries, but you let him take control in bed?  Just let him help you out in other areas too, yeah?”  She wiggled her eyebrows to make it in jest, but it had a ring of truth.

One that Dean hadn’t really realized until now.

But then, he realized one more thing.  “Fuck.”

“What?”  Suddenly, there was a little more concern on her face.  “Dean, what is it?”

He crumbled in half and buried his face in his hands as defeat sunk in and he admitted, “I’m gonna have to get him a fucking cat.”

------------------

These days when Gabriel’s alarm went off, he wasn’t just surrounded by the loud obnoxious thrill of a ringtone.  Now, he was also greeted by Sam’s strong arms gripping him tightly and a big, wet tongue on the side of his cheek from their damn mixed mutt.  

She was still a puppy and both men were at odds when it came to her training.  Mostly because although she was small and adorable now, on paper, being a pit lab mix, she was bound to grow into those too-large-for-her-small-frame paws in no time.  But her floppy ears and wide smile wouldn’t let either men tell her “no” when she hopped up on the couch and into their laps, nor keep her from climbing into bed with them.

Except they drew the line and locked her out of the room during sex.  It weirded both of them out.

Still, the puppy that was snuggled up on Gabriel’s other side was going to be a hell of a lot larger soon and take up much more space in a matter of months.  The fact that both were utterly terrible disciplinarians basically led them to conclude she would be a permanent bed mate.  For better or for worse.

While she was Sam’s lapdog, she preferred snuggling up to Gabriel when they slept and woke him up with an enthusiastic tongue and wagging tail every morning.  He’d grumble about how he wished Sam would be that happy to see him in the AM, but the thing he had to be grateful for was the fact that Sam was with him every morning.

The younger man was still debating where he wanted to go with his career and in that process, he decided to take a mini-vacation.  Gabriel reaped all the benefits and became spoiled with Sam’s company whenever he was off work.

Speaking of work-

Gabriel abruptly sat up in bed, knocking both Sam and Bones off him.

Because he suddenly recognized that this wasn’t his alarm.  This was a ringtone.  

He didn’t realize it because he was still half-asleep, but he wasn’t due into work until much later.  Hell, he was third shift tonight!

Gabriel just missed the call, but instead of it going to voicemail, the screen lit up again and he saw that it wasn’t just Jo calling: it was the hospital itself.

He answered it and jumped out of bed, ignoring his nudity, and walked into the hallway because something must be up if they were calling him before his shift.  If it was another doctor asking to cover for them, they would have texted or called him directly from their cell.  

No, this was official business.  And two things ran through his mind.

One: Somehow he’d fucked up and he was getting yelled at.  

Two: There was some kind of emergency.

Both cases were things that had dragged him out into the hall and away from his boyfriend.  He didn’t want to get him involved and worried this early in the morning if he could still be sleeping because it was damn early.

The conversation had both Gabriel’s adrenaline running and his heart racing as he spoke professionally and paced the hallway.  

By the end of the conversation, he hung up and all up tore back into the bedroom and pulled on the first set of clothing he could get his hands on.  It was all about speed right now because the fucking news-

“Gabe?”  Sam’s sleepy voice followed him when Gabriel ducked into the bathroom, searching for the bare essentials.

He slapped on deodorant, washed his face, and Sam appeared behind him while he was putting toothpaste on his toothbrush.  His hand was moving fast as he scrubbed the fuck out of his teeth, and he didn’t mind in the least when his boyfriend bent forward to kiss him on the neck.

By now, Sam knew the drill and he groggily commented, “Damn, not even time for coffee.  Something serious, huh?”  He took it upon himself to fix Gabriel’s hair, because that was something the doctor hadn’t even thought about.  “Is it bad?”

Gabriel spat into the sink before a huge grin crossed his face and he rinsed with a handful of water.  He turned around and kissed Sam full on the mouth before drawing away and announcing, “They found a heart for Maggie!”

Sam’s eyes doubled in size and he breathlessly asked, “Really!?  Holy fuck, that’s awesome!”

“Yeah, it is!  I’ve gotta get my ass there.  Organs have a short shelf-life after they’re taken from the donor.  We’re talkin’ four to six hours.  Hospital says they’ve got the family on the way and they’re gathering the team for the surgery, but needed to make sure I was in.”  He couldn’t even begin to describe the joy in his heart. “I mean, obviously this doesn’t fix everything, but it gives her around'a couple decades when she wouldn’t have ’em before.  God, she deserves them.  And if everything goes well and her body doesn’t reject it, she’s got it.  And nothin’ is going wrong on my watch!”

“I know.”  His voice was so confident and sure.  “You’re gonna do great, Gabe.  Holy hell, that’s great news!  You get your ass to the hospital.  I can take care of anything you were going to do today before work.  Just rattle it off to someone and have Jo send me a list.”

Gabriel gathered Sam up in his arms and took in a deep breath as he nodded, and couldn’t help but playfully quip, “Well, I was gonna do you today, but how about we put a rain check on that?  No getting into fun without me.”

With a chuckle Sam agreed, “I’ll hold off.  Just for you.”  He then urged him forward, “Get all your stuff and I’ll lock up behind you.  Tell Maggie I said hi and I’m so happy for her.”

Gabriel nodded and hustled back into the bedroom to find his wallet and a light jacket.  He already knew his keys were on the entryway table, so he jammed his phone in his pocket and headed down the stairs.  Sam kept up the pace and once they’d reached the landing pulled him into one more hug before kissing Gabriel’s forehead, his nose, and finally his lips.

“You’ve been waiting for this day, Gabe.  It’s finally here!”  His eyes were dancing with happiness and it did wonders to Gabe’s confidence.  The procedure was nothing to scoff at.

Sam’s support meant everything and it was just the boost he needed to soothe any nerves that would rear their head.

“Yeah, it really is.  To be blunt and shitty?  Never thought it was gonna happen in time.  God, today I love being proven wrong.”  He shook his head in disbelief.  “I’ll let you know when I’m done and how it went.”  He left one more lingering kiss on Sam’s lips.  “Love you, Sammy.”

“You, too, Gabe.  Can’t wait to hear from you.”  His words were genuine, even though he had to hide behind the door when Gabriel threw it open.  He hadn’t had the foresight to dress himself.

Now wasn’t the time to be arrested for public indecency and all.  But he waved him goodbye and locked up, as promised.

Gabriel couldn’t remembered driving faster in his life.

----------------------

A little over four hours later, Gabriel came out of surgery accompanied by Jo.  The two all but collapsed into his office, where they knew they’d have more privacy, rather than in the employees only lounge.  The doctor had headed that way after changing out of his scrubs and Jo followed wordlessly because they had that kind of unspoken language.

They were in it together and so they stayed together.

Gabriel’s first, real words (besides mindless chatter and instructions with the staff in the operating room) were, “Holy fuck, I’ve never been so freaked about a surgery in my life.  Even working the nastiest cases in the ER.  This trumps ‘em all.”

“Yeah, but ER lacks that personal part that this case has.  But the point is you did it,” Jo offered with a wide smile.  “Obviously, she’ll be in recovery for while, but you did it, Gabe!”

We did it.  Takes an army, right?”  Her smile was contagious and a one was also peeking on his own exhausted features.  “God, I hope there aren’t complications.  But you’re right...  First step’s been checked off the list and, Jesus Mary and Joseph, does it feel amazing.”  Gabriel fished his phone out of his pocket to send the obligatory text to Sam.  “I’m zapped.  You’re gonna have to wheel me home or some shit.”

“Nah, you’re just lazy.”  Jo bantered back at him and scooted her chair over to his so she could rest her head against Gabriel’s shoulder.  “I’ve got a good feeling about it.  To be honest, I wasn’t even sure she’d make it to get a donor.  The fact that we were even able to do the transplant is a miracle all by itself.”

“You know what?  I said the same thing to Sam that morning.  About not thinking she'd make it.  But now that you say that, I don’t believe in miracles.” He easily let his head rest atop hers.  “She’s a good kid.  She deserves it.  It ain't a miracle, I think it’s karma, the universe putting everything in its rightful place.  Karma’s either a bitch or a saving grace.  Nothing in between.”  He chuckled, “Unless you’re painfully mundane and normal.  Then you stay there.  But that’s boring and people like that aren’t living... They’re just existing.”

“Are you having an existential crisis?”  She asked casually.  “For being drained, you’re deep as fuck right now.”

“I think that happens when I get to my second or third wind.  Maybe fourth.”  When his phone buzzed and he glanced down to see Sam’s message, he couldn’t help but smile softly.  “I don’t know.  I guess I’m trying to figure out how a dick like me got so lucky.  Yeah, I know you’re gonna argue saving lives and all that, but I met Sam before I met real-life Sam because I was fucking with people online and delivering my own kind of karma.  I’m just surprised when the news came out that he didn’t head for the hills.  If I were him, I woulda.”

Jo had previously been filled in on the story and poked Gabriel in the side with a laugh.  “Maybe because it’s kind of hilarious?  Or because no matter what the circumstances, both you assholes were meant to be no matter what?  Why get caught up in the small stuff when there’s a big picture.  You need to give yourself way more credit.”

“Aww, you’re being so sweet to me today!”  He cooed and burrowed his face into her hair, effectively messing up her bun.  “What’s gotten into you?”

“Ugh!”  Jo shoved Gabriel off her and tried to salvage what was left of order within her blonde locks.  “I’m going along with your karma theory and saying everything happens for a reason!  So who are you to question it?  I know I’m not!”

Gabriel made a full circle in his spinning chair and examined her with scrutiny.  With his eyes narrowed, he dared her with, “Do I sense you speaking from personal experience?  Are you glowing, Joanna Beth?”

“What?  No!”  She was almost too quick to retort.

“Oh, ho-ho!  You’re not getting away with that!”  He reached out and grabbed her, pulling her kicking and struggling into his lap.  “Should I go out on a limb and say that our little party a month ago gave some liquid courage to meet a sassy little ginger that you may be blushing over right now?”

While she tried to squirm out of his grip, she realized it was pointless because Gabriel was much stronger than her.  Admitting defeat, she grumbled, “Maybe.  But it’s going slow because of reasons.”

“Spill!”  Gabriel was utterly thrilled to harass his friend about her love life for a change since she had sunk her fucking teeth right into his.  “Distract me from my early onset midlife crisis!  Gimme the dirt, I need it all!”

Jo basically collapsed when she exhaled and groaned, “It’s...complicated.”  She wriggled on Gabriel’s lap until she was more comfortable and actually had the personal space she needed and leaned her back against the armrest at an angle.  It was also better this way so she didn’t have to face him head-on.  “We did hit it off.  Maybe made out in the bathroom.  Then exchanged numbers... We’ve been texting...”

“Okay...” Gabriel tried to usher her forward when she paused.  “That’s a good foundation so far.  Where’s the complicated part?”

“The part where she works for my mom, I guess.”  Jo bit her lip and bounced her shoulders for a second.  “I talked to Dean about it, asked if it would be a problem and all he gave me were vague answers.  Well, specifically, I talked with him about how he thought my mom would be about it and then I harassed him about Charlie’s background, you know?  Always gotta use a source when you got one.”

“Uh, why’s mom a problem?”  He asked in confusion, “Obviously, her little girl’s gonna find someone.  Why should it matter if that someone happens to work for her?”

“You don’t know my mom.”  Jo rolled her eyes heavily and scoffed, “She’d chase a dude away with a shotgun.  I’m not making this up.  And it’s not Charlie who’s worried about moving forward... It’s me.”  When the admission left the blonde’s lips, Gabriel frowned.  With a grunt, Jo tried to explain, “Say things don’t work out?  My mom’s crazy protective.  What if she takes it out on Charlie?  What if things turn ugly between us and she even fires her?  God, I don’t wanna think about it because we’re so new, but I’m worried.  Like, wanna keep us a secret, worried.  Plus, you know the drill.  Our hours are ridiculous to work around and at least Sam was a student with a lighter schedule.  Char’s got a nine to five.  I don’t even know how much I’d get to see her.”

“Trust me,” Gabriel made a grab for her hand to squeeze it.  “Our hours may suck, but you can make it work.  I can even give ya some insider tricks of the hospital trade.”  But then he paused, lingering on the first part of Jo’s bizarre freak-out.  “But your mom, no matter how protective, she’s got a business to run.  And from what Cas’ told me about Dean’s job, it’s a big money-maker.  She’s not gonna fire one of her best employees over a breakup.  And, seriously, Jo?  You’re already predicting the end before it begins?”  Gabriel tsked her, “That ain’t no way to start a relationship.  You gotta throw caution to the wind and go for it.  You deserve something good.”

She heaved a breath and nodded, her words gaining a bit of strength behind them.  “You know what?  You’re right.  I guess it’s been so long that I don’t even know what the hell I’m doing.”

“I’ve been there.”  Gabriel reminded her because Jo already knew his whole damn story.  She could write his biography.  “Just go with it and jump in.  I’ve heard Charlie’s awesome and she seemed like a blast from the party.”

“Dean told me she’s always a blast,” Jo snorted wryly.  “Says I’ve got a beast to tame, but if there was any beast worth it, it’d be her.”

“The time is now!  Get out that whip!”  He unceremoniously dumped her out of his lap and back into the chair she’d previously been seated on.  “You text that chick and set up a date!  I wanna see proof!”

“What, now?!”  Jo demanded, her already big brown eyes doubling in size.

“That’s an order!”  He spun around in his chair again, all while fixing a pointed finger on her, and added in, “C’mon, you have the excuse of a celebration on your hands!  Use it or lose it, kiddo.”

“I hate you.”  She grimaced, but hesitantly pulled out her phone.

Gabriel watched with delight as she typed, deleted, and retyped something a few times before she dramatically hit send and turned her phone around for him to read.

He gleefully accepted it with a, “Good girl.  Now, you’ll have to tell me what happens!  I’m requesting a follow-up text!  Let’s get our asses home.  We need some TLC and relaxation in actual beds.  How does that sound?”

“Fuckin’ fantastic,” Jo instantly agreed, but then mournfully griped, “Dammit...I should’ve never involved you in my romantic life.”

“Whatever!  You weaseled your way into mine.  ‘S only fair.”  He patted her on the back and stood up.  “Now head out.  I’ve got a boyfriend to tackle and you’ve got some sexting to do.”

“It’s not sexting, Gabe.”  She looked affronted by the suggestion.

“Oh, but it will be...”  He winked.  “If ya play your cards right!”

She groaned loudly and followed him out of the office because getting back to her apartment sounded wonderful.  They were both to be paged and updated on Maggie’s status and condition and until then they were given the day off.  If there was ever a time they needed to recuperate from the adrenaline crash it was today.  And Gabriel wasn’t lying about a boyfriend he needed to tackle.

---------------------

“You’re working too late again,” Castiel announced in a cool voice without even looking up from the magazine he was reading the moment Dean walked through the front door.  “You’re bound to burn yourself out.”

After he hung up his jacket and toed off his shoes, he noticed something smelled amazing wafting through the house.  

Yes, their house.  Since Cas had finally moved in.

But the delicious whatever-it-was didn’t make sense because Cas couldn’t even boil eggs, let alone cook a meal.

Dean decided to ignore the comment and march right up to his boyfriend to kiss his cheek and ask, “Did you already eat?”

“Take out arrived about ten minutes ago.”  When Cas finally looked up, he firmly grabbed hold of Dean’s tie and hauled him downward and their lips collided into something more deliciously filthy.

Dean couldn’t help but moan into the kiss and when Cas released his tie, he also shoved his chest and gestured to the counter top.  “Get plates and we’ll eat.”

“Wait a minute,” he suddenly realized, “if the food just got here...that means you knew I’d be late.”

With a smirk, Castiel finally set down the magazine and remarked, “I know you better than you know yourself.  You were stressed this morning about your latest project and I already expected you’d overcompensate and stay late.  Your anxiety level usually coincides with exactly how late you arrive home and I guesstimate it would be a little over an hour and a half.”

He stood up to his full height and balked, “-how?”

“Set the table, please,” Cas was wearing a proud grin as he went to the living room and grabbed the take-out bag of Chinese from where he’d set it on the coffee table.

When he came back and saw the dishes out, he plopped the brown paper bag in the center and rounded on his boyfriend.  Castiel wrapped an arm around him middle and grabbed the back of his neck to kiss him more thoroughly.  Dean melted into the touch like putty in Cas’ hands and the weight of the day seemed to vanish.  

God, he loved coming home to this.  Cas never ceased to amaze him.

Castiel’s firm hold around Dean’s middle only pulled away to divest him of his suit jacket, to tug off his tie, and to unbutton the top two of his dress shirt skillfully, but he never left his lips.  Leaving him with a particularly passionate parting gift, Cas eventually pulled away earning a whimper from Dean.

He chuckled and draped the removed garments over the back of an empty chair and gestured to the food in front of them.  “I knew you’d be starving so I ordered enough for tonight and leftovers for you to pack a lunch tomorrow.”

When Cas sat down and began pulling multiple boxes, Dean continued to stand and stare at him in awe.

It had Cas tilting his head to the side and curiously questioning, “What?”

Almost as though the breath has been stolen from his lungs (in that very moment), Dean couldn’t help but admit, “I just...I really fuckin’ love you.”

“And I love you, Dean.”  Cas continued to look a bit confused because everything about tonight felt natural for him and he didn’t understand why Dean felt it was so out of the ordinary or special.

He finally pulled the chair out and sat down, but his attention wasn’t on the food it was still on Cas.  Dean made the other man stop what he was doing and surged to cup his cheeks, loving the perplexed expression Cas was wearing.  He chuckled and shook his head at how Cas still made his heart do such funny things, even though they’d been together for so long.

“Remember the very first thing that I ever got mad at you about?”  Dean recalled the memory and wondered if Cas would, too.  “Way, way back at the very beginning.”

He could visibly see the wheels turning in Cas’ mind as he pondered the question.  Then his eyes lit up when he hesitantly said, “You’re referring to when I said that you needed someone to take care of you.  When you weren't receptive, I told you it wasn’t a bad thing and I’d be a good candidate.”  He slowly pronounced, “Is this too much?  Am I overstepping my bounds?”

“No, Cas, that's just it.”  Dean’s smile brightened and he pressed their foreheads together.  “Never thought I’d say it, but you were right.  From day one.  I do need you.  Don’t change a thing.”

Chapter Text

 “This is stupid,” Sam grumbled from where he’d been stuck the last two and a half days while he shot Gabriel a halfhearted glare as the man appeared in the doorway.

With a fond look and a shake of his head, the man responded, “Nope.  You’re stupid.  Since you didn’t man-up and follow my suggestion.  How the fuck did you expect to be a Medical Attorney without getting your flu shot?”

“I hate needles.”  His answer was pathetic and he could barely manage any other retort besides that.

It was nearly as pathetic as he’d been while bedridden with a stupid bug that had been flying around Lucile Packard the last week.  Gabriel had made the call to stay home just so he could watch over his grouchy patient.  Yeah, pathetic.

Gabriel had vacation time saved up in spades and Sam had admonished him for using it to look over his sick-ass, but the doctor would hear none of it.  

After all, what was the point of being a medic if he couldn’t help out his boyfriend?  And what was the point about being a cheeky motherfucker if he couldn’t harass and coddle him in the process?

“Yeah, yeah.  Now, before you mow down on this, I need to take your temperature.  See if it’s broke yet.”  Gabriel pulled the tools he’d stolen (well, he liked to think as borrowed) from the hospital out of a drawer.

With a growl, Sam swatted him and snapped, “If you try to stick that up my ass again, I will murder you!”

“I was only fucking with you because you were delirious.”  Gabriel couldn’t help but chuckle from the memory and the image of Sam’s utter horror.  “I wouldn’t have actually done it.  I‘m not a barbarian.”  He paused thoughtfully.  “Probably wouldn’t.  ....Maybe.  Whatever, just sit up a little.”

Sam grunted and did what he was told.  Once the device was pulled from his ear, Gabriel hummed at the reading.

“I think we’re nearly out of the woods.  Just a hair above a hundred.”  He grabbed the soup bowl he’d previously sat on the nightstand and extended it to Sam.  “How are you feeling, pumpkin?”

“S-sore all over,” Sam ignored the nickname (Gabriel had been tossing them out left and right as he did with all his young patients just to annoy him) and barely managed to that get out before he began to eat the soup with ravenous hunger, Gabriel noting his appetite had finally returned.  “But the chills are gone so that’s a huge plus.”

“Yeah, I’d say!”  Gabriel winked, taking joy in the fact that Sam was so happy about the small meal, but was hesitant to give him much more so soon.  “Hey, guess what!”

With wide eyes, only pausing a moment in between quick spoonfuls, did the younger man ask, “What?”

“Carry on, feral beast.  But there is good news!”  He innocently tossed in the fact, “Ya know, since the antibiotics have been in your system for three days and all.”

With a raised eyebrow and a suspicious look, Sam began sipping at the broth, saying fuck the spoon because whatever the hell Gabriel had cooked him was too good.  And it was settling his stomach and quenching his hunger.  After all, his mostly-liquid diet had sucked and this held a little more sustenance and tasted friggin delicious.  

Maybe Gabriel staying here hadn’t been a bad thing.  No matter how many times he’d complained and told his boyfriend differently, he had always been a bad patient and his brother could attest to that.  In addition, Sam hadn’t been this sick since he’d been a kid and, knowing his own patterns, he probably would have done a shitty job taking care of himself.

He probably would have ended up starving or dying of dehydration, to be completely honest...

Sam realized he was truly lucky to have Gabriel.  Not just as a doctor, but for support and his tenderness.  Not to mention his quirk managed to keep Sam on his toes and distracted him from being utterly miserable the whole time.  Maybe his boyfriend had preserved his sanity.  It was a hellish nightmare of a flu.

With a happy sigh, he finished up with his lunch.  He handed Gabriel the empty bowl and then eyed him with suspicion, recalling the words.

“Three days, huh?”  Sam echoed and watched him carefully while his boyfriend set everything surrounding him, piece by piece, on the table.

Then he flung himself at Sam and knocked him over in the bed, cuddling up to his side while he brazenly announced, “You can’t infect me anymore!” and placed a sloppy kiss on Sam’s cheek, “God, I’ve been waiting forever to do this.”

Unable to hold back, Sam began laughing and collected the man in his arms with a huge grin.  Maybe Gabriel was in pediatrician mode and was acting like a big kid, or a love-struck moron, but neither of them cared.  Sam was quite content to be wrapped in his arms again, unconcerned about infecting Gabriel.

They just laid there together and even though Sam was still sick, he could ignore that for a while because, damn, did he miss this.  He sighed and took in his body warmth as something amazing, rather than the sweats and chills of the fever.  Because this heat was different.  It meant love and he felt it.  Holding on tight was easy and Gabriel returned it eagerly.  God, did it feel good to get this back.

Maybe he was happy Gabriel had taken two extra days off, since that was the usual lifespan of the virus.  Sam would happily deal with two more days of this.  

Who was he kidding?  He loved it.  Especially because he should be feeling much, much better after today which meant they could treat the rest of their time together like a vacation...

But just to be an ass, he innocently questioned, “Does that mean I can see Bones again?”

“Am I the runner-up to that mutt?”  Gabriel loomed over Sam with an amused expression playing over his features.

Sam answered with an over dramatic pout because he knew Gabriel would never deny him.

Which led him to grunted out, “fine, fine!” as he hopped off the bed, turned on his heels and opened the door.  It only took one call of her name and the happy patter of feet could be heard galloping across the wooded flooring.

The breath was knocked from Sam’s lungs and at first, he didn’t know if it was Bones or Gabriel who had pounced this time.  Then when hot breath and a tongue began licking him in earnest, he knew it was their pet.  

Sam swore up and down that the dog knew innately the situation she had trotted into and soon, she laid down, docile, on her side (now fully grown) taking up a good chunk of the bed but giving her sick owner his space.  Sam smiled and scratched behind her ear as her tail wagged and thumped against the mattress before he glanced up.

“You happy, Sasquatch?”  Gabriel was just outside of range wearing a smirk, his hands placed on his hips but folded up into fists.

Sam shook his head and announced, “Not yet.”

“Damn, you’re hard to please, ain’t ya?”

“Get in here,”  He ordered, drawing back the covers opposite of Bones and flashing a grin of his own.  “Then I’ll be much happier.  We can all take a nap.”

“All of our little family?”  Gabriel inquired, crossing past the foot of the bed and crawling in on the other side where Sam had already made room.

Sam hummed in agreement, his eyes glowing as Gabriel came back to him as he reached and pulled him closer than before.  “I love our little family.  I love you.”

“’S that the drugs talking?  Or are you being sappy?”  It was a sweet kind of taunting.  He couldn’t help himself from placing a quick, chaste kiss on Sam’s lips like he’d been counting down to now that he wasn’t contagious.  “’Cause I hope it’s you being sappy.”

“Don’t tell anyone.”  His eyelashes fluttered open and Sam could see the same kind of amorous adoration mirrored back to him.  “Super sappy.  Gross sappy.  Maybe I’m still delirious.”

“Nah, I’ve diagnosed you.  You’re in your right mind.  Can’t take anything back now.”  Gabriel tucked his form against Sam's own in place for the nap his boyfriend wanted and needed, the younger melting against him.  “And I love you, too.  Little family included.  All kinds of perfect.”

-----------------------

“So when do I get to hound you about working late?”  Dean asked casually as Cas walked through the door and headed straight towards him.

First, Cas placed a sensual kiss on his boyfriend’s neck, one that visibly caused a shiver to run down his spine, and mused, “Once I get into the swing of things after finals,” then he lightly scraped his teeth against the skin.

“U-unfair.  Totally unfair,” Dean groaned as he pushed away from the table and the chair scraped the ground under its legs.

Castiel took the space as an open invitation to throw his messenger bag on the vacant chair and swing his leg over Dean’s lap, straddling him.  He wrapped his fingers in the hair at the base of his neck and grinned at him, reveling in the flustered look on his lover’s face.  Cas watched as he tried to gain control and look put out, but gravity had Dean’s hands instantly wrapping around Cas’ hips and settling there.

He groused, “You could always bring the papers and homework here to grade, ya know.  Don’t know why you hide away in your little office after hours.”

“Isn’t it obvious?”  Cas tilted his head, still studying the other man.  “I thought we made it a rule.  We leave work at work.  Besides...”  He cupped Dean’s face for the briefest of moments, before trailing his fingers down his throat, then massaging the muscle of his shoulder, knowing he’d been hunched over a computer today.  “You’re on the track to make partner.  I figured if you did bring your work home, it’d be best for me to turn a blind eye.”

Dean allowed his head to tip back a bit and moaned into the touch because, fuck, that felt good.  “We don’t know that for sure.  It’s just a rumor we heard from Jo... Hell, Gabriel could’ve-”

“Gabriel wouldn’t have relayed that information to get your hopes up unless it was reliable.”  Castiel’s voice was firm as his touch clamped down and demanded attention.  “My brother is a lot of things, but when it comes to serious matters, he wouldn’t lie.  You’re a hard worker.  I’ve known that from day one.  And now, it’s paying off.”

“Even without me burning the midnight oil?”  Dean smiled at him in a cocky dare because Cas was still decently strict on enforcing the groundwork and their plans for them living together.

Yes, work stayed at work.  And when they were at home, it was just them.  It was a safe haven and Dean loved it.  He’d never imagined he would have it and when he thought about settling down, it had never been like this.

Especially with you not burning the midnight oil.”  Cas leaned forward and barely brushed their lips together.  “I strongly believe that not only has it benefited your morale, but it’s made you a better worker.  A smarter worker.”

You benefit my morale.”  He wiggled his eyebrows and dropped his hands to get a good squeeze of Castiel’s rear.

It earned him a glower and fierce, “Well, aren’t you in a mood.”

“How can I not be?”  Dean protested then gestured between them, smacking both of their chests in the process since the gap was practically nonexistent.  “Sure, we’re chatting about work, but I can’t help that my dick is thinking about your ass right on top of it.”

“A very bold mood,” Cas corrected himself with a strangely curious expression on his face.  “Should we continue to speak about work and my pride in you?  Or would you prefer to let your dick interrupt us?”

“Shit, this is a totally loaded question...isn’t it?”  He gulped as Cas’ eyes burned in intensity - an intensity he didn’t know how to read because of how damn unpredictable the man was.

He always left Dean on his toes and while it was exciting, it was unnerving, but he had nothing but trust in Castiel.  Their relationship was damn near perfect.  Hell, it was perfect.  

It was exhilarating and passionate yet comforting with unwavering love and support.  Cas felt like home.  He was home. There was no doubt about it.

Still, Dean was having a bit of a problem at the current time…just because his cock gave a very, very interested twitch, but his brain was backfiring about what the correct answer was.  Cas watched him with scrutiny before he leaned back and at first, Dean was worried he’d said the wrong thing and that he was going to pull away.

“Shit, I’m sorry, Cas... I-”

But he was very quickly interrupted as the man grasped the bottom of his shirt and sent Dean flailing as he yanked it over his head.  The concentration in Cas’ eyes soon glazed over with that predatory lust as he watched Dean flounder and ducked forward to suck the man’s lip into his mouth.  Dean whimpered when Cas nipped just on the right side of rough and he took the initiative to reach up to begin (carefully) unbuttoning the damn shirt, knowing Cas would chastise him if he ripped off a single button.

The last time Dean had done that in a haze of passion, Cas had punished him with a spanking.  Which wasn’t really punishment at all, fuck...Dean found out he’d really, really liked it...

Along with the other things they’d been experimenting with lately.  If it was a weekend, he’d rip this shirt from Cas’ gorgeous body, but he had a long meeting in the morning and knew he wouldn’t be able to make it through with a raw ass.

And Charlie’s amused jabs.

So he was delicate even though Cas was far from it, kissing him with ferocity and raking his nails down Dean’s bare chest.  The way Cas was grinding, swiveling in his lap, had Dean achingly hard and keening in no time.  Once he finished with the damn shirt, Cas let it drop off his shoulders and quickly pulled the final layer off for the both of them.

The press of their skin together was amazing, but Dean needed more.  He grabbed Cas’ face, kissing him with meaning, a way that Cas always responded to and had him practically dragging Dean to the bedroom.  Except...this time it didn’t work.

In fact, Cas grabbed Dean’s wrists and shoved them down.

He pulled away completely and groaned, “Really, Dean?”

“Really, what?”  He blinked wide-eyed in confusion, noting Castiel’s downward facing eyes and followed his gaze.

Jesus fucking Christ.

Zepp was brushing herself against Cas’ calf, over and over again.  And now that she had their attention, she fell back on her haunches (her overly-fluffed tail flicking back and forth like a goddamn duster on the floor) and loudly meowed like a booming siren.  

Dean still didn't understand how the fucking cat could reach such high pitches and how fucking shrill she was when she demanded attention.

Cas grunted and pulled away, glaring at Dean while he scooped up their calico tabby.  “You didn’t feed her, did you?”

“It’s not even seven!  It’s not like she’s starving!  She friggin huge!  She could use a diet!“  His jaw dropped, glaring at the cat and snipping, “You little cock block.”

It looked as though both Zepp and Cas were sending him the evil eye as Dean watched his shirtless boyfriend retreat to fill her food bowl while he just sat there, left with a raging hard-on.  

If this didn’t describe life with an overgrown stuffed-toy, complete with fangs and claws, he didn’t know what did.  Cas acted like he did Dean a favor by allowing him to name her, but that was BS...

“If you don’t fuck me when you’re done feeding her, I’m gonna be pissed!”  Dean raged from the chair petulantly and it sounded childish even to his own ears, but he didn’t care.

“Maybe it will teach you the responsibility of owning a pet!” Castiel’s voice echoed down the hallway in challenge.

He barked out, “She’s your damn animal!  I’ll be in the bedroom getting started without you!”  He abruptly got to his feet and stomped up the stairs.

“Fine!”  Cas snapped back.

Of course, Dean passive-aggressively had to respond, “Yeah, fine!”

Once he reached their bedroom and unzipped his pants, letting them pool to his ankles, he found himself smirking.  Dean didn’t bother with his boxers because he could hear someone special charging up the staircase.  He barely looked over his shoulder before he caught sight of a thoroughly worked up Cas and was tackled to the bed.

With a heated, “You’re in for it now, Winchester,” and a rough bite into the meat of his shoulder, Dean yelped but found himself grinning victoriously like an idiot.

“Is that a threat or a promise?”  He taunted, knowing the exact words to get his boyfriend worked up.

Castiel pulled away and hovered over top of him, that delicious nearly-feral look in his eyes that Dean could never get enough of.  Dean decided to be cheeky and hooked his legs around Cas’ waist because his arms were pinned and he hauled their pelvis’ together.  Both moaned at the friction of their cocks meeting and one of Cas’ hands jerked away then roughly dug into Dean’s hipbone, holding him down.

He narrowed his eyes and snarled, “I promise I’ll fuck you so hard you won’t be able to walk in the morning.”

Dean’s heart skipped a beat and that's when Cas descended upon him.  He knew the man would make good on that promise, but he also knew that he’d go above and beyond to take care of him afterwards.  Because that’s just how they worked.

And ever since Dean truly accepted it, he came to love it, and wouldn’t trade any part of them and what they had for the world.