Sam has always felt that maybe he is the weak link in their relationship. He was the last to join them, Castiel and Dean having been a couple for months before certain feelings were finally admitted. More than that, Sam can’t have sex. Well, biologically he could, but after The Cage, and the things Lucifer did… he just can’t. Some days, even the sound and smell of sex is too much. At first, when their trio first started after Sam got his soul back – and Castiel was initially the one who admitted his feelings for the younger Winchester – Sam tried to force himself through sex with them, but when he inevitably couldn’t do it a lot of misunderstandings ensued, namely, Dean thinking that Sam was repulsed by him because they’re brothers. That couldn’t have been less true, but Dean was clearly bothered by it and for a long time unwilling to listen to any of Sam’s explanations. Luckily, however, Cas was.
“I thought you wanted this, Sam,” Cas had said. “If that wasn’t true, and you were just worried about being left out, then you have to know that you are always a part of us and-“
“No, no, Cas.” Sam waved him away. “That’s not what this is at all.” He waited for Cas to leave the room, as after the fight Dean went and got a second room to get away from his brother.
Cas lingered for a moment, looking uncertain. Finally, he went and sat on the bed Sam was lying on, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. Sam almost cried. “Then what is it?” The angel asked quietly.
“When… When Dean and I went on that hunt, I remembered some of hell,” Sam admitted, in a hushed whisper. “And Lucifer, he… he…” That was all Sam could get out before the hand on his shoulder squeezed comfortingly, and the sobs spilled out faster than he could stop them.
Cas of course told Dean, and Sam couldn’t help but feel almost overwhelmingly relieved when his brother came and gave him a kiss and a hug, and told him everything would be okay. After that, if Dean and Cas wanted to fuck they’d just get a second room, a few down from Sam’s, and go there. Sam didn’t mind spending a night alone every now and then; it stopped Cage flashbacks and allowed the other two to spend come quality time together. Besides, they always had breakfast together and there were still nights that just Sam and Cas spent together, or just Sam and Dean, or – most usually – all three of them.
For a long time, it was great, even with that hallucinations, even the times Cas died or went missing, because at least he still had Dean. That relationship, even the kissing part, stayed strong even without the other part of their trio there.
Until Dean got back from Purgatory.
When Sam admitted that he'd moved in with Amelia he knew it would be bad, but he didn't think it would be quite this bad. Even though Sam didn't quite expect their relationship to be the same, he didn't expect it to be gone entirely. But when Dean came home one night reeking of sex and a girls perfume the message was clear, and Sam had never felt more betrayed, or more guilty. Dean didn't talk about it, but he saw Sam's expression when he realised, and firmly pushed down the guilt that came with it. Sam brought this one himself. Sam moved on with a girl. Sam left him and Cas to rot.
Another thing Sam didn't expect was - not only for Cas to come back - but for things to get worse when he did. Within an hour of Castiel being cleaned up and home, Sam was exiled to get food and supplies for them while Dean inevitably told Cas all about Sam leaving them in Purgatory without even looking for them. Then when Sam got back, any time it looked like he and Cas were going to speak to each other, Dean would jump in, and Sam would just look down at his uneaten food, missing the worried look Cas gave him.
That night, Sam got into his own bed without complaint after saying a quick goodnight to his brother and Cas from across the room, trying not to mourn the lack of a kiss or hug from anyone. With Dean and Cas talking quietly in the background, Sam quickly fell asleep.
Later, maybe an hour or two, he woke again to the unmistakable sounds of sex coming from the next bed. The smell hits him next, and he can barely stop himself from turning over to look, some masochistic part of him encouraging him to just look over and torture himself more. The sounds seems to get louder the more he just lies there still, until different sounds, from another time and place, begin to take over. He pushes that down though, and forces himself to think about anything else until they stop. The smell lingers, though, and Sam doesn't sleep.
The next morning is spent with Sam sitting listlessly at the table, staring at the old scratched wood while Cas and Dean - thankfully - take turns having a shower and get ready for the day. Sam is still in sweatpants and a t-shirt, not having and even brushed his teeth by the time Dean announces he and Cas are going out to lunch. Sam just nods, barely even looking up at them. The door shuts, and Sam feels a strange mix of relief and despair now that he's alone, so he's shocked to look up find Cas standing there, looking at him with that knowing concerned expression which almost brings Sam to his knees.
"You heard us last night, didn't you?" Cas says, his expression guilty and grim.
Before Sam can answer, the Impala's horn blares from outside. "Cas!" Dean shouts, and Cas looks uncertainly at the door. Sam stands to go to the bathroom, wanting a shower of his own. There won't be any hot water left, but he's used to that by now.
"Sam," Castiel says again, his voice insistent.
"No," Sam says in reply, and at this point he's not even sure why he's lying, why he's covering for them. Last night was one of the worst things either of them have a ever done to him, which is saying a lot. "I didn't. I just don't like the smell." At least he's partially telling the truth. It may not be noticeable to most, but the area around the second bed still reeks of what Dean and Cas did last night. It makes him feel sick to his stomach, likes he's going to vomit and sob all at the same time, because he thought they understood, but apparently not and-
"Sam," Castiel grinds out, even more urgently. He seems frustrated with both his lovers at the moment.
"I'm fine," Sam says sharply, sharper than he intended. "Don't worry about it. I just need a shower, and I'll change your bedding. I'm fine."
He shuts himself in the bathroom and locks the door before Cas can say anything else, leaving the angel standing by the door as the Impala's horn starts again. The shower starts, and Cas sighs before placing a hand on the second bed, cleaning and neatening the sheets and getting rid of any lingering smell, perceived or not. Dean had told him last night that Sam didn't want this relationship anymore, but from Sam's heartbroken expression this morning and last night, and the way he's crying now in the bathroom, audible now even over the shower, Cas is beginning to believe that may not be the case.
Cas flies himself from the room to the car, taking a silent satisfaction in the way Dean jumps when he lands. Dean narrows his eyes at him. "What took you so long?"
The angel just shakes his head. "Let's just go."
At the diner, Cas regards Dean carefully. The man, for obvious reasons, is much more cheerful than he was in Purgatory, and Cas had thought, initially, that that was because he was reunited with Sam and their part of their relationship rekindled, but Dean had made it abundantly clear when Sam went to get food for them last night that Sam had got a girlfriend while they were in Purgatory and now clearly wanted no part in their relationship. Castiel doesn't think Dean was lying to him, per se, but he's beginning to think that his lover may have jumped to the wrong conclusions.
But, whether Sam wants to be part of their relationship or not, what they did last night crossed a line. He knows Sam heard them, as afterwards when Dean fell asleep Cas lay still and listened to Sam lie awake. He listened to one of the men he loves move restlessly in his bed and breathe unevenly. It was torture. At first, when his and Dean's kissing got a little heated, he'd considered stopping, but he'd looked over at Sam's bed and listened to his deep, even breaths and come to the conclusion that Sam was asleep, and happily continued. He'd just been so relieved and happy to be reunited with them both after being Purgatory and then getting out and trying to contact them for so long that he just wanted that feeling of being with someone, even if it couldn't be with both the people he loves.
Afterwards, though, when Dean had fallen into an easy sleep, and it became abundantly clear that Sam had woken up during his and Dean's time together, Cas felt like shit, and suddenly that feeling wasn't worth it at all.
"We shouldn't have had sex last night," Cas says, perhaps too suddenly if Dean choking on his pancakes is anything to go by.
"What?" Dean splutters. "Why?"
"Sam heard us," The angel explains, and finds himself pleasantly surprised when Dean has the decency to look guilty for a moment, before that hardens into something darker.
"Well," Dean starts, shoving another forkful into his mouth. Cas almost wants to tell him to stop right there because he knows that whatever Dean has to say now he will not like one bit. "He probably fucked the girl he shacked up with when he left us to rot, so I'm sure he can handle his rejects fucking in the next bed."
Cas clenches his fists, jaw snapped shut just as tightly. "Dean," he grinds out, trying to remind himself that Dean has not seen what he and Sam have seen. "Sam's aversion to sex comes from things Lucifer did to him in The Cage, so I highly doubt that even if he did 'shack up' with someone while we were gone that he did have sex with her, especially after being taunted by his own hallucinations for months on the matter."
Dean looks down at his plate, his ears coloured with shame. "Yeah, I know," he sighs eventually, rubbing the back of his neck. "But Cas, man, he just left us."
At that, the angel frowns again. "Dean, I suspect that Sam moving in with the woman was most likely simply a way a coping, rather than an abandonment, and he shouldn't be faulted for that." Dean grumbles into his pancakes, clearly not agreeing but also not wanting to start a fight when they were just reunited. “I would like to restart my romantic relationship with Sam,” Cas says next, in a tone that he hopes leaves no room for argument. Dean’s head shoots up, his eyes cautious. “You are not the only one who missed him.”
Dean sighs again, placing his knife and fork on the table. He reaches across the table, and in a rare moment of public affection, takes Cas’s hand in his. “Babe, I know you missed him; I did too. But he just didn’t miss us. The moment we left, he gave up hunting and moved in with some girl.”
The angel sighs, squeezing his mate’s hand. “I imagine he was grieving,” He says bluntly. “Have you bothered to ask?”
Dean lets go of him like he burnt him, and pushes his plate away too. “You can fly back to the motel,” He says abruptly, and that’s just like Dean, to run away from any situation he feels wrong in. Castiel rolls his eyes, and does just as Dean said, but not before picking up some pancakes for Sam. He lands directly in the room, well before Dean gets there, thankfully.
Sam startles as Cas lands and drops the pastry bag gently on the table. “Hey,” He says, and Cas hates how unsure he sounds. His mate should ever be unsure in his presence… either of them.
“Hello,” Cas answers, moving to sit next to Sam on the bed. He tries not to feel upset when Sam moves a bit further away. He shall fix that soon, he’s sure of it.
“Where’s Dean?” Sam stutters out, just as the Impala comes into the parking lot. They watch through the single window as he goes into the front office and quickly comes out with a second set of keys, immediately using them to open the room next door. Cas sighs again before he can stop himself. “Oh,” Sam says. “Did you get into a fight?”
“Not exactly,” The angel replies, turning to look properly at his human. He reaches out to take his hand, but Sam quickly moves it away. “I wanted to spend some time just with you?”
“Oh,” Sam says again, move shocked this time. Castiel almost laughs, but that amused feeling is quickly gone when Sam continues with, “Why?”.
“Because I missed you,” Cas murmurs, leaning forward slightly in the hopes of a kiss, but to his shock Sam leans away from him and then stands up. “Sam?”
“You should probably go back to Dean,” Sam says, rubbing his arm awkwardly. He won’t look the angel in the eye.
“I don’t need your pity Castiel,” Sam says suddenly and sharply, probably sharper than he meant to, but sharply all the same. Cas almost flinches, looking up at his mate in shock. He was so sure… Maybe Dean was right after all? Maybe Sam didn’t miss us as much as we missed him. “Just go back to Dean. I know he’s missed you a lot.”
Too shocked to reply, Cas finds himself simply standing up and leaving the room, just standing outside for a second trying to make sense of what just happened. Sam just essentially told him that he didn’t miss them… But he was so upset this morning. Shaking his head, Cas opens the door to Dean’s new room and goes to sit on the singular bed. Dean watches him from the table under the window, where he’s nursing a beer. Without a word he comes over to the bed and sits next to his lover on the bed, placing a comforting hand on his knee. “I’m sorry,” Is all he says, letting himself just be a comforting presence to the angel, who has never felt this feeling of rejection before.
Meanwhile, Sam is close to tears again next door. He thought he had cried enough today, but apparently he just loves giving himself reasons to start again. He can’t believe he just did that! That’s all he’s wanted since Dean came back, someone to just hold him and be normal, like how they were before. But when he finally got that, all he could think was that Dean didn’t feel the same, and he didn’t want Cas to be torn between them, or worse, he didn’t want to feel like Cas’ mistress. Or maybe, since he’s the one that won’t have sex, he’s more like the jilted wife.
He tries to spend the day trying to find a new case at the local library, but mostly just spends the time staring listlessly at the computer screen or newspaper article, not able to concentrate on anything, except how much he’s just failing as a human being at the moment. Eventually, just as evening is falling, Sam makes his way back to the motel, and much like the night before, forces himself into an uneasy sleep.
Also much like the night before, he’s woken up rudely by the sounds of his two ex-partners fucking in the room next door, their headboard banging against his. Tonight, after today’s fuck ups, even the sound of sex is enough to bring unwanted memories back. He unashamedly brings his pillow over his head, trying to muffle the sounds emanating in the next room and his own sobs, as Lucifer’s voice breaks through everything.
No, no Lucifer, mercy, please
The sounds next door seem to get louder, and Sam tries not to scream as the sounds from The Cage rise with it. Now, not only what Lucifer did to him, but what Michael… what Michael did to Adam start too.
Michael please no, have mercy. Take me instead. Lucifer mercy, please. Please God help me, oh God-
“It is okay, Samuel, you are safe,” A new voice sounds. It feels both less and more real than Lucifer all at the same time.
Please, please, Lucifer, no, please
“Samuel, I promise you, you are safe. I am here now. I will protect you.”
Michael mercy, no. Leave him, leave him please
“I love you, Samuel. I am here, I promise you. Dean and I love you. Come back to us.”
It occurs to Sam that someone is with him, and their touch isn’t hurting him. Rather, there’s a hand firmly planted on his arm and another stroking through his hair. It takes a long time through the clatter of both Lucifer and Michael, but eventually he finds his way back, and is surprised to find both Dean and Castiel in his motel room. It doesn’t matter though, because he can’t stop his sobs, and they rip from his throat without his permission. He can’t help how they get louder when Cas gathers him up into his arms, and Dean joins as well, but God this hurts. He doesn’t know how to make this last, how to stop fucking up and make them love him again-
“Oh Sammy,” Dean’s voice sounds, gravelly and guilt-ridden. “We do love you kiddo. I was… I’m just so hurt.”
“I’m sorry,” Sam tries to say between sobs, but he just can’t seems to get the words out. Cas just shushes him though, stroking a hand through his hair and pressing his head to Sam’s. Dean is doing the same on Sam’s other side, pressed firmly against his back. Eventually, after what feels like hours, Sam his crying under control enough to talk. “I’m sorry,” He starts with, ploughing on and not letting either of them continue. He looks down at where his fist is balled in Cas’ t-shirt, an old one Dean’s. “I was never in love with Amelia. I didn’t know where to start looking for you, and I was spiraling out of control. If I hadn’t hit the dog, and met her, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. Amelia’s husband had died overseas, and we kind of just made sure the other was okay, at least enough to function. I missed you both so much it hurt. I could barely stand it.”
Cas and Dean’s grips tighten, and Sam almost starts to cry again as Cas leans down to kiss him softly. He’s then pulled towards Dean who does the same. “We could hear you screaming,” Dean chokes out. “It didn’t occur to me that the bed would hit the wall, or we wouldn’t have done it. I’m so sorry about last night too, little brother. I… Well, there’s no excuse for that. All I can do is try to make it up to you.”
With those words, he gets under the covers and cuddles up close to Sam’s back, Castiel doing the same at his front. “I love you,” They both say, and Sam says it back with a small crack in his voice. He keeps a tight grip on both of them as he says “You don’t have to do anything to make it up to me. This is enough right here.”