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The Holiday

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I've found almost everything ever written about love to be true.

Shakespeare said "Journeys end in lovers meeting." What an extraordinary thought. Personally, I have not experienced anything remotely close to that, but I am more than willing to believe Shakespeare had.

I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said "love is blind".

Now that is something I know to be true.

For some quite inexplicably, love fades; for others love is simply lost. But then of course love can also be found, even if just for the night. And then, there's another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. It's called unrequited love.

Of that I am an expert.

Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us? What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones, the walking wounded. The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space!

Yes, you are looking at one such individual. And I have willingly loved that man for over three miserable years! The absolute worst years of my life! The worst Christmas', the worst Birthday's, New Years Eve's brought in by tears and valium. These years that I have been in love have been the darkest days of my life. All because I've been cursed by being in love with a man who does not and will not love me back.

"Castiel, hello!" Balthazar approaches through the throng of the Christmas party, The Times office is in full party mode, and Balthazar himself is radiant with seasonal glee.

"Hello Balthazar." Castiel can already feel his face flushing, God knows why, it's not like his attraction to Balthazar is a secret. They'd even dated for six months, until Balthazar had slept with someone else. As Gabriel often pointed out, that was grounds for throwing a fit, using all the swears you could think of, and perhaps pissing on someone as they slept.

Yet to his brother's obvious dismay, Castiel had remained Balthazar's faithful personal assistant in all but name – his actual job was reporting the weddings for the lifestyle section of the paper.

"I actually wanted to talk to you about something..." Balth tells him confidentially, and Castiel feels his heart swell with anticipation and fear. Anticipation because this could be it, the moment Balthazar tells him that he can't live without him, and fear because, in reality it's probably about his dry cleaning, and Castiel will be left wounded once more.

Unfortunately they're interrupted by Crowley, who wants to know if Castiel has submitted the final draft of his column for the next day.

Of course he hasn't, but he had proofreading to do for Balthazar. Crowley clearly knows that, and Castiel is already fully aware that he is pathetic; he doesn't need it pointed out.

Sometimes he wishes he'd just stayed in America – then he would never have met Balthazar, and he never would have wasted years on...

Oh who was he kidding, Sad truth of it was he could never wish that.

By the time he gets done with his work and returns to the party, Bella is already on the temporary stage, tapping a champagne glass for silence.

"Calm down everybody!" she calls over the amassed writers, editors and PA's. "Now, as you all know we've had a great year, you've all done wonderfully – and tonight is all about celebrating that."

The crowd cheer, Castiel raises his glass shyly.

"But it is also about celebrating some rather exciting news...where's Castiel?" She looks over the crowd. "Castiel?"

"Here." Castiel raises a hand.

"I have a tip for you – guaranteed to have not been picked up by another paper yet." She smiles and gestures to someone at the foot of the stage, Balthazar climbs up beside her and she takes his hand. "I am happy to announce that Balth and I...are finally getting married." She beams at the cheering, clapping crowd.

Castiel feels something seize up in his chest. Balthazar finds his eyes, a shy smile on his lips, and a kind of pity in his eyes.

That's about all he can stand to see before he turns tail and flees the office.

He manages to get across London, onto the tube and his connecting train and then walk all the way home through the first snow of the season – before he finally can't take it anymore. With the door of his lonely little cottage closed firmly behind him, Castiel slides to the floor by the stairs, Pongo the black and white terrier coming to curl at his side.

"I am not going to cry." He tells the dog, who whines and pulls at the end of Castiel's scarf.

"I am not..." He blinks his eyes closed but a droplet escapes anyway, falling into his lap.

"I am so pathetic." He half sobs to himself.

Pongo only whines in response.


Sam watches Ruby fling the last of her things into the back seat of the Porsche.

"This is totally your fault!" she turns to yell up at the bedroom window. Sam winces and goes to sit on the bed, the bed that as of today, belongs solely to him.

He fails to see how Ruby sleeping with her personal trainer is in any way his fault. Aside from the fact that he hadn't slept with her in...Jesus, four months? That couldn't be right. They lived together for crying out loud, they slept in the same bed. How could he sleep next to Ruby for four months and not sleep with her? Even Dean thought she was hot, and Dean hated Ruby's guts.

Still, he had been busy, what with work and all. There was a big case coming up, huge amounts of preparation had been required. He was busy, that was all. Not hopelessly wedded to his blackberry as his (ex)girlfriend had claimed. So what if he'd put in an office at home and now spent most days holed up in there? He was in no way responsible for Ruby fucking Stephan the polish yoga instructor.

Sam slumped forwards, his head in his hands.

He really needed a vacation.

That, was a great idea.

Sam sat up. He'd just gotten his bonus, he'd finished up all the work he had to do, it wasn't like he had anything keeping him at home – why not take a break somewhere?

He went downstairs to his office, ignoring the bright LA sunlight that streamed through the windows. He located his laptop and started googling – he was after all a seasoned devotee of googlefu.

Sam quickly found that he had some definite opinions about vacations. For example he didn't want to end up in the city, or anywhere like LA, he didn't want to spend his vacation time in a soulless new build villa like the one he currently inhabited.

He wanted to go abroad.

The notion came quite suddenly, and that's how Sam ended up on a site that connected him to house swaps overseas. Which in turn connected him to Castiel Novak's laptop, where nearby, Castiel was recovering, after trying to gas himself over the front burner of his stove.

Castiel had signed himself and his little cottage up for the swapping service some time ago, and had not received a single offer since. But, upon seeing a photo of Sam's sprawling LA mansion, and with the scent of gas still in his nostrils, he could perhaps admit that he could use a vacation, from England and especially from Balthazar.

And his fiancé.

So it was that Castiel and Sam decided to swap houses for a few weeks of well deserved rest.