The first time it happens, Sam chokes on his orange juice.
He's sitting at the kitchen table while Dean makes breakfast, and a shirtless Cas wanders in, barefoot with his belt undone and his hair tousled. Sam doesn't think much of it (besides the little flip of his stomach which he absolutely does not acknowledge). He's not stupid, and Dean and Cas aren't exactly trying to hide anything. He's not even surprised when Cas stretches up to wrap his arms around Dean from behind.
But then Cas starts speaking Enochian.
"You alright there, Sammy?" Dean asks, pausing in his omelet preparation to glance over his shoulder at Sam, whose respiratory system is attempting to turn itself inside out.
"Yeah," Sam manages to gasp out past the citrus sting in his throat. He swallows, accidentally catches Cas' concerned gaze, and starts coughing again.
"Dude," says Dean, halfway between exasperation and fear. He pulls away from Cas and abandons the cutting board in order to pour Sam a glass of water. "Easy, man. Drink. Breathe. Not at the same time."
Sam pulls a face half-heartedly, but obeys.
"Sorry," he says, once he can talk again. "Wrong pipe."
"That's all?" Dean prods. "You sure?"
"Yes," says Sam, a beat too quickly. Dean eyes him suspiciously for another moment before going back to chopping scallions, muttering under his breath about 'can't even eat breakfast without giving me a freaking heart attack.'
Cas is still looking at Sam oddly, but Sam's okay with that. At least the angel's stopped murmuring in Dean's ear.
The second time it happens, Sam stays silent, face heating with each liquid word which flows from Castiel's mouth. They're (almost) the same words which stripped Sam bare and flayed him alive, but what was a torrential roar has been replaced by a soothing patter, and what once cut him to the core now drips soft onto his skin, sliding down his chest and beneath his waistband.
The words are soaked in sensuality, but there's nothing dirty or base or wrong about them. They're I want to get on my knees and worship every inch of you with my tongue and I want to drink you like ambrosia and I want to cherish your ephemeral body as it deserves for holding such a precious soul. It's sex enhanced by intimacy, lust fueled by love, and it hurts like stretching for something just beyond his reach.
Sam excuses himself as politely as he can manage. Dean hardly seems to notice him go, but he can feel Cas' eyes on his back.
Sam starts keeping and ongoing list in the back of his mind of excuses to leave the room.
"Dude, what's your problem?" Dean finally asks one evening when Cas is in the garden.
"What do you mean?" Sam asks, trying to sound casual.
"Oh, come on," says Dean with a snort. "You really think I haven't noticed what you're doing? As soon as Cas starts in on the bedroom talk, you're gone! And don't start with those lame-ass excuses," he adds sharply when Sam opens his mouth. " 'I've got to iron my shirts?' Really, Sam? We don't even own an iron."
Sam winces. That one was admittedly pretty bad, but, to be fair, he didn't think Dean was listening.
"It just weirds me out, okay?" Sam says defensively. Dean gives him a 'what the hell' look.
"Dude, we've literally fucked five feet away from you, and this place doesn't exactly have thick walls. You're seriously trying to tell me that you can't handle a bit of dirty talk? Hell, we don't even know that it is dirty talk. He could be reciting a grocery list for all we know."
Sam blinks. Oh. Oh. Duh. That at least explains how Dean can be so blasé about the things Cas speaks in his ear: he doesn't know what they are.
"Dean . . . I can speak Enochian."
". . . What?"
"I can speak Enochian," Sam repeats. It didn't even occur to him before that Dean didn't know. "It was all They spoke to each other. All They spoke at all, sometimes. I kinda picked up a few things." No need to specify who 'They' are. Despite Sam's best attempt at nonchalance, Dean has already turned white.
"Shit, Sammy –"
"It's fine," says Sam quickly. "Really. I'm not having flashbacks or anything."
"Sam, you've gotta tell us when stuff reminds you of down there! I'll talk to Cas; he'll –"
"Dean," Sam cuts him off. "It's not like that. I know the difference between Cas and Lucifer." It says something about their lives that Dean relaxes at that statement; says something about how far they've come that Dean takes him at his word.
"Alright, fine. Good. So what is it, then? What's Cas saying that's just too filthy for your virgin ears?"
Sam rolls his eyes, electing to ignore the complete absurdity of that characterization of his love life.
"It's not. Not filthy," Sam clarifies when Dean gives him a 'speak English, Sammy' look. "It's actually kind of . . . beautiful."
Dean stares at him as if he's grown a third head.
"You're telling me you can't listen to Cas' dirty talk . . . because it's too beautiful," he says slowly. Sam scowls at the ground, feeling a blush rising in his cheeks and refusing to dignify that with a response. Unfortunately, Dean doesn't seem to need one. "Are you jealous?"
"Shut up," Sam mutters, wishing he could sink into the ground.
"Of who?" Dean sputters incredulously.
Sam shrugs tightly, angry with himself. This whole thing is really, incredibly stupid. He's lucky. He knows he's lucky. The three of them are alive and well, Dean and Cas have each other, and Sam . . . Sam has a lot more than he deserves.
Dean forces a chuckle.
"Dude, you really need to get laid."
Sam snaps his head up so quickly that Dean actually takes a step back – or that might be because of the vicious glare suddenly directed at him.
"I don't want to get laid, Dean! I don't want some shitty one-night stand from a truck stop! I don't want awkward first dates with strangers; I don't want to invent war stories to explain why I wake up screaming every other night; I don't want to lie to someone every day so that they never realize what I am; I don't fucking want it!"
He's breathing hard by the end, the echoes of his rant dying out as Dean just stands there, slack-jawed.
It's not Dean's voice which breaks the silence.
"What do you want, Sam?"
Castiel is suddenly between them, hair disheveled, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, blue, blue eyes boring into Sam's. Sam feels like a kid again. (No one's ever asked me that before.) Sam feels impossibly old.
He drops his gaze, and forces out the response he should have given back then.
"Doesn't matter. Forget about it." He turns to slip away, already ashamed of his outburst, but he is stopped by a hand on his shoulder, a grip like steel.
"Sam." Cas' eyes are blue like the ocean, vast and implacable, powerful beyond comprehension and hiding unfathomable depths. Dean is a second behind him, and his eyes blaze green like a plant pushing up through the concrete, stubbornly, defiantly alive.
"Of course it fucking matters," Dean growls. "You matter, dumbass. Now are you gonna tell us what the hell you want or am I gonna have to beat it out of you?"
Cas is still watching him, easily holding him captive with one hand and a steady gaze. Evenly, in Enochian, he says,
"Do you want us?"
Sam swallows hard, shakes his head, but it's not a denial, never a denial, not with them, but he can't think, he has no words –
"You may have us," Cas tells him, liquid words flowing out of his mouth and directly into Sam's chest, pooling around his heart, warm and burning like whiskey. "In any way you desire," Castiel adds, as if there were any doubt in the way his hand is sliding from Sam's shoulder to caress his face, his neck, his chest.
"—sometimes calls out your name in place of mine," Castiel finishes for him.
Sam's heart skips a beat, his eyes darting to his brother, who looks befuddled and slightly annoyed. It's impossible. It's insane. But . . .
"No," says Sam abruptly, stepping back, out of Castiel's reach. Cas lets his hand drop (Sam's chest feels cold without it), and Dean frowns with concern and confusion.
"No!" Sam repeats, in Enochian, and maybe he was lying to Dean when he said it didn't remind him of the Cage, maybe he was lying to himself, because suddenly he has the words, spilling out of him like poison, sickly sweet when they were forced down his throat and sour like bile coming back up – "You don't understand; I'm not worth it; I'm not clean; I'll ruin it; Cas, you have to explain it to him; you can see, can't you? It's still in me, it's always been in me, I'm not clean –"
"What the fuck is going on?" Dean demands, stepping around Cas to grab Sam's wildly gesticulating hands to shake him lightly. "Sammy! What are you saying? What's he saying?" he snaps over his shoulder at Cas without waiting for Sam to respond.
"He believes that . . . he is not worthy," Castiel explains, but Sam hears it only distantly, lost in the blue blue eyes still staring into his. They look sad, he thinks.
"Of what?" Dean asks, nearly snarling in frustration.
This is good. Sam wants Cas to explain; he can't make the words fit in a language Dean will understand; they only flow when they're made of liquid, of a snake's venom, of his own blood. (His face is wet with tears. He can't remember when he started crying.)
But Cas isn't explaining. He isn't explaining because Dean isn't giving him time to, Dean is letting go of Sam's hands and grasping the back of his neck and then there are no words because –
– Dean is kissing him and this isn't liquid, this is solid, solid like only Dean has ever been, deliberate and purposeful, not a caress or an attack or a seduction but a message, loud and clear, conveying all the things they never say aloud and –
– Dean breaks away.
"No one," he says, low and dangerous, giving Sam a small shake with the hand which still grips the back of his neck, "talks about my little brother that way. Understand?"
It's all Sam can do to nod, and then Dean is kissing him again, and this time it is a seduction.
Dean tries to convince Sam that he's worthy, tries to fuck and kiss and argue and order it into him, but his words are solid like stones, skipping across the surface or sinking to the bottom and making the vile liquid rise even further.
But Cas speaks to him in a tongue Dean doesn't understand, hands and voice soft in the velvet darkness of the night, and says,
"None of us are worthy. That is what we call grace."
And the clear, sparkling water flows into Sam, and what's inside him tastes just that smallest bit sweeter.