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The Week-Long Sleepover and the Opportunity to End Denial

Chapter Text

“Guess what I heard?”

“If it’s about the prank that was pulled in the teacher’s lounge, we already know,” said Castiel as Dean dropped his tray on the table.

“Kevin and I heard it was Ash’s doing,” said Sam.

“Really? That makes more sense than what I heard. Hannah speculated that it was the work of Spangler and Zeddmore.”

“What? They wish it was them,” said Sam as Dean sat next to Castiel.

“Nope, not what I’m talking about,” said Dean gleefully, “but we are definitely coming back to that.”

“What, then?” asked Sam.

“I heard that Lisa Braeden is finally going to dump her dumbass boyfriend.”

“And we care because?” said Sam, returning to his sandwich, unimpressed.

“What do you mean she is going to dump him?” asked Castiel.

“I overheard her mentioning it to one of her friends when they passed by my locker,” said Dean, after helping himself with a big bite of his sandwich.

“When?”

“Just now.”

“Still not seeing why this is relevant,” said Sam.

“Her boyfriend,” said Dean, setting aside his sandwich to look in disbelief at his brother, “is a complete douchebag. I can’t believe she went out with him for so long.”

“Okay, but so what? Who cares? It’s not like you’re going to ask her out.”

Dean stared at him. “You don’t think I might?”

Sam opened his mouth and looked back and forth between Castiel and Dean. “I—I’m not saying—I don’t mean—” he said, shifting in his seat, “I didn’t mean it like you don’t have a shot or something.” Sam cleared his throat. “I just thought you had moved on from her.”

“What makes you think that?”

“I—I don’t know. You used to talk about her a lot, but not anymore. You haven’t for a long time now. And I remember how upset you were when she was no longer single, but you didn’t do anything about it, either.”

“And what exactly was I supposed to do?” said Dean, somewhat baffled. “She was already going out with the guy.”

“And that was enough to stop you from trying?” asked Sam.

“Um, yes, Sam,” said Dean, stunned. “I mean—that’s just…not cool. Frustrating, sure, but I wouldn’t do that.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.” Dean looked at Sam for a moment. “My moral compass might not be perfect all the time, but that’s not something I would do.” He turned to Castiel for support, but his friend was, apparently, intensively focused on clearing the food off his plate, so Dean went back to his younger brother.

“All I mean,” said Sam, “is that if she’d meant that much to you, I honestly think that you would have made an effort rather than just staying on the sidelines, even more so if you knew the other guy was a douche, that’s all.”

Dean took in Sam’s hypothesis. He shook his head and turned to his friend, again. “What about you, Cas? What do you think?”

“About what, exactly?”

“Cas, come on,” groaned Dean.

“Many things are being discussed here, Dean. For instance, are you referring to the overall moral ethics of the situation? Or what I believe you, personally, would or wouldn’t do? Or is it about my general opinion regarding your chances with Lisa?”

Dean sighed. “Let’s start about what Sam said. Do you think that’s true? About me not going after Lisa. What would you have done, if you had been me?”

Castiel turned back to the table pensively, and took a deep breath. “I don’t know. I think that no one should pursue an action they morally do not feel comfortable with. That is obvious. Your instincts are a strong indication of where you should stand. Respecting Lisa’s choice over a year ago by not continuing to pursue her, wouldn’t automatically reflect your lack of interest in her then or now. I think it’s more about your decency. Not to mention that going after Lisa in that fashion might have been qualified as harassment,” said Castiel, which had Dean giving Sam a triumphant smile. “However,” continued Castiel, “perhaps Sam does bring an important point about how our actions—or lack thereof—speaks louder than words, too. You don’t typically create unnecessary drama, Dean, but when you know what you want, you certainly don’t shy away from expressing it.”

Sam was trying to hold down his grin at Dean. He wasn’t very successful. And then, Castiel added simply, “For the most part, anyway,” as he pushed his empty tray aside.

Sam stopped chewing.

Dean opened his mouth as if he was about to say something, but remained silent. He observed Castiel wiping the crumbs off the table.

“So, are you?” asked Castiel.

“Am I what?”

“Going to ask Lisa?”

Dean swallowed. “Do you think—should I try?”

Both friends looked at each other. Sam, who was seated on the other side of the table, held his breath, staring at them with his eyes bouncing from one to the next, as he waited for Castiel’s answer.

“It’s up to you, Dean, of course. But I suspect you might if Lisa eventually becomes single again,” said Castiel, nonchalantly.

Dean nodded firmly.

And Sam went back to the rest of his sandwich.

“See,” said Dean, beaming at Sam, “that’s the difference between you and Cas. Supportive friend.” He gestured at Castiel. “Harsh brother,” he finished, waving in Sam’s direction.

Sam rolled his eyes.

“And you know, if everything works out, one of the best thing about it is that Lisa has a lot of friends,” said Dean, lifting his eyebrows, “who are…you know, nice. And I’m certainly going to first mention my best friend, who is supportive, over my bratty little brother to them.”

“Glad to see you always have your priorities in order,” said Castiel, but Sam noticed his brief glance of worry towards Dean. A look that his brother had definitely missed.

“Well, it has been a while for you,” stated Dean. “Not since—well, anyways, it’s something to think about,” he said, clearing his voice. “So,” he added quickly, “the teacher’s lounge thing?” Dean looked at Sam. “You and Kevin have your money on Ash? Where is Kevin anyway?” he said, scanning around.

“With Channing,” said Sam, rolling his eyes.

“Right. Is that why you’re blessing us with your presence a lot these days?”

Sam looked down at the table. “Sorry, I just—they make it so awkward sometimes. To be around them.”

“Are you telling me that Kevin Tran, of all people, is being all lovey-dovey publically?” asked Dean, amused.

“No, he’s not. I mean, I wouldn’t care much for that, either, but that’s not it. The opposite, actually: they are just always going on about school and projects and college! It’s escalated to a brand new level, so much that it’s starting to depress me.”

“They are talking about school stuff, and you, one of the biggest nerd in town, is feeling depressed by it? Is the world ending?”

“Shut up.”

 

The rest of the day had gone by with no more mention of Lisa and her potential break up. After school, Sam and Castiel were dutifully studying in the library, while they waited for Dean’s football practice to end, before they could all enjoy a pleasant ride home together. This daily ritual began when Dean had passed his driver’s license—and had gotten with it, the family’s old, yet cherished, Impala—the year before. Inheriting Baby had come with restrictions and additional responsibilities, such as driving Sam to school or other social appointment, but Dean hadn’t minded one moment. Having his own car and being able to drive around with his best friend wherever they wanted and (mostly) whenever they wanted, had greatly outweighed the hassle of familial obligations.

Castiel lived a few streets away from the Winchesters’ home, and consequently the two were rarely seen without the other ever since they were kids. Staying after school to wait for him with Sam had been the most natural arrangement they had made, and Sam was happy with it. Castiel, like Dean, was a year ahead of him, and he was always ready to help Sam with his homework, if needed.

Both quiet, and surrounded by a bunch of books all over their usual table, they were then startled when someone yelled, “Cas! Can’t you use your phone?”

Sam looked up.

Gabriel.

“Cas!” he yelled again, waving at them as he walked towards them. Sam immediately sat up straighter and briefly fixed his hair as Castiel was looking at his brother with a mild exasperation. Indifferent to being shushed heavily by the librarian, Gabriel came to a halt once he reached their table.

“Why aren’t you answering your phone?” he asked his brother. “Hey there, Sammy. Eating your vegetables, I see. Good for you.”

“Gabe, quiet down,” warned Castiel, who felt uneasy at the librarian glaring at them. “It’s on silent and in my bag. What do you want? What are you still doing here? School ended over an hour ago.”

“Detention,” he explained, proudly. “And, I just wanted to give you a heads up that our charming and massively deranged siblings are back in town. And by town, I mean home. And by siblings, I mean all three of them.”

“What?” yelped Castiel, which was followed by another warning by the librarian. Castiel pulled Gabriel down onto the seat next to him. “All of three of them? Why?” he said in a low voice.

“I don’t really know the specifics, yet,” said Gabriel, who began doodling on his brother’s notebook. “Honestly, who cares at this point? I mean it’s always the same. Michael and Lucifer are fighting. Who knows who started what—they’re usually both wrong anyways—and bottom line is that they are also both in trouble. Enough that they had to come back home.”

“Great. And Naomi, why is she here?”

“To delegate for Dad, of course.”

“She’s the one Dad asked to mediate this whole thing?”

“Well, it certainly won’t be me, and would you want this job?”

“No, absolutely not,” sighed Castiel, shutting his book violently and pulling it away from Gabriel’s hands. “So what does this all mean?”

“We’ll find out officially once we’re back home, but it doesn’t sound good. Default survival mode, I think. It’s best that we keep to our respective living quarters until one of them has had enough and moves out again. Laying low somewhere else in the meantime might be an even better alternative.”

“I was hoping you wouldn’t say that,” groaned Castiel.

“You can stay at our place, Cas,” suggested Sam.

Both brothers looked at him, momentarily having forgotten that the youngest Winchester was right there.

“Sam—I’m sorry you heard this,” said Castiel. “You don’t have to say that.”

“Cas, Mom and Dad won’t mind. And Dean will insist that you do.” Gabriel turned to Castiel with a massive grin on his face as Castiel was moving some books around, purposely avoiding his brother's eyes. “You’re welcome, too, Gabriel,” Sam added, nervously.

Moi?” he said, smiling.

Sam swallowed.

“Yes. Like I said, we’d have to check with Mom and Dad, but I’m sure they wouldn’t have a problem with you both staying over.” Sam had said all this rather quickly, and Castiel couldn’t help but notice that Sam was blushing by the end of his little proposal.

“That is adorably kind of you to offer, youngster,” said Gabriel, “but I already have some potential retreat locations that would probably be more suited for my depravities. Tonight, however, I’ll have to go back home—we both have to—” he turned to Castiel, “just to have a clear idea of the damages.”

“Right. Can’t wait.”

“Until next time, oh young one,” said Gabriel to Sam, standing up. “See you back at the war zone, Cas.” He turned on his heels, and Castiel and Sam watched him curtseying to the librarian on his way out.

Castiel let out a groan.

“Sorry about all this, Cas,” said Sam, “I know your family is complicated sometimes. But you’ll think about it, right? About staying with us? It wouldn’t be the first time anyway.”

Castiel sighed. “My siblings have the worst timing. And thank you for offering. I’ll see …perhaps I should double check with Dean first. He might mind.”

“Dean? Minding?” asked Sam, repressing a laugh. “No, I told you, he will insist on it. I certainly don’t think he’ll mind.”

Castiel fell into deep thought. Sam, looking at Castiel, decided to go on. “I—I think this might even be the perfect timing.”

“What do you mean?”

“I think that you being at the house around Dean,” said Sam, treading carefully, “it would be a good thing. Put things in perspective.”

“Perspective? That’s not the word I would use,” said Castiel, more to himself than to Sam. “I think it would probably be awk—,” started saying Castiel, but stopped mid-sentence. He swallowed, and shifted in his seat. Sam gave him a few seconds, hoping Castiel would go on, but it became clear that Castiel preferred to remain silent. But Sam didn’t want to end the conversation there, so he took a deep breath, and finished Castiel’s sentence: “You think it would be awkward?”

Castiel bit his lips, looking everywhere but at Sam, probably trying to find something else to say. Sam examined Castiel, and decided that perhaps a bit of nudging wouldn’t hurt anyone.

“Because you like Dean.”

“Wha—what do you mean?” whispered Castiel, fidgeting in his seat. Sam held down a smile.

“You do, don’t you?”

“I—I don—why do you think that?”

“Because I can see the way you look at him.” Among other things.

Castiel swallowed hard and looked nervously around to make sure no one was hearing their conversation.

“How?” he said, after crossing his arms on his chest, and avoiding Sam’s eyes. “I don’t—how do—does Dean know? Please, don’t tell him,” he added, pleading.

“I won’t, but—”

“Don’t tell Dean, please,” he said, mortified.

“I promise, I won’t,” Sam assured him. “I get it. I—I know how to keep a secret.”

Sam cleared his throat. It dawned on Sam that it might have been unfair of him to have put Castiel on the spot like this. In order to remedy it, Sam added, “And more accurately: I know what it’s like to keep your feelings for yourself. To keep them secret.”

Castiel took a good look at Sam.

“Sam? What—what are you saying?” Sam was biting on his bottom lip as he played with his fingers, his eyes fixed on them. Castiel leaned his head slightly backward when something finally occurred to him. “You didn’t just invite Gabe out of politeness, did you?”

Sam was blushing.

“You like Gabe?”

Sam nodded, still not looking at him.

“How did I miss this?” He paused for a moment, reflecting on it all. “When did this happen? How did this happen?” said Castiel, looking at Sam in a completely different way.

“Some time now. I just—,” Sam cleared his throat, “I—yeah.”

“You like Gabe.”

“You said that already.”

“I’m sorry. I’m processing.” Sam looked carefully at Castiel and to his relief, he wasn’t mockingly grinning at him. He simply sat there staring in front of him lost in thought. Finally, Castiel said, “And you haven’t told him.”

Sam looked down, again, and shook his head.

“I can’t. I—well, first of, I know Gabriel isn’t much of the dating type.”

“You noticed that, huh?”

Sam nodded. “I never understood why. He is at ease with anybody and everyone seems to like him. He’s funny, and most importantly, to me, he’s kindhearted.”

Castiel smiled warmly at Sam and leaned back onto the back of his chair.

“Sam, I don’t know why Gabe doesn’t take romantic relationships seriously. If he was anybody else, I would say it’s simply in his nature. He’s carefree. It’s not his style. And there would be nothing wrong with that. But I know my brother. I don't think that's what it is. Gabe is so supportive and helpful and I think the world of him. I often feel that people miss that part of him. I don’t know if it’s because they only care about his funny side or if it’s because he’s purposely and solely projecting from that side to hide the other part of himself. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone qualify Gabe as kindhearted before, even though they should have. And you just did.” He paused for a moment. “Maybe if he knew that, his opinion about romantic relationships would change.”

Sam shook his head, sighing. “Maybe, but I doubt it would be with me. That’s the other thing. He’s the popular senior whom everyone knows and likes. I’m just…I’m just the random little brother of his little brother’s best friend. I can barely say a full sentence in front of him. Telling him would be embarrassing.” And before Castiel could protest to Sam’s last comment, Sam added quickly, “But you and Dean, that’s different. You know each other. You’re friends. You li—”

“Sam, no,” interrupted Castiel.

“Cas, I think you should tell Dean this week while you’re with us.”

Castiel looked at Sam, absolutely petrified. “No,” he said, shaking his head vehemently, “I can’t.”

“But why?”

“Why? Beca—because it’s Dean! He’s my friend. It will ruin everything. He’ll freak. And I mean, what is this going to accomplish, anyway? It’s not like he feels the same.”

Sam blinked at Castiel. He took a deep breath, repositioned himself on his chair and leaned in toward Castiel. “You realize that the reason why I know how you feel about Dean is not because of you, but because of Dean, right?”

Castiel frowned.

“I only guessed how you feel because I paid attention to you after I knew Dean likes you.”

Castiel flinched. “He told you that?”

“No, but—”

“Sam,” groaned Castiel.

“I’m not lying. I wouldn’t lie. Not about this and not to you.”

“Then how do you know?”

“Cas, come on! I live with the guy. I’ve seen the way Dean looks at you. The way he talks about you. I know my brother and I know he feels exactly the same way.  The perks of being the little brother: you see everything because people don’t notice you around. You know what I’m talking about, you being the youngest sibling yourself.”

Castiel bit his lip, and Sam knew Castiel couldn’t argue against that one.

He looked gravely at Sam. For the briefest moment, Sam thought he had perceived something in Castiel’s eyes suggesting that he had convinced him, but it quickly vanished when another thought came to Castiel’s mind. “If that is the case, Sam, why is Dean so excited that Lisa Braeden is breaking up with her boyfriend?”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Never mind her, we’re talking about you and Dean, now.”

“Sam—”

“No, Cas, you listen to me a minute,” he stopped him. “You know I’m right about this. You know it. I told you, I haven’t only paid attention to Dean. I’ve paid attention to the both of you. You both feel the same and you’ve just been turning around it and not saying anything, just like what happened at lunch. And about Lisa,” he said, after a pause, “I meant what I said to Dean earlier today. I don’t believe he sees Lisa like this, anymore—if he ever did. I think he wants to like Lisa, but he doesn’t. Not like that, and certainly not anymore.”

Castiel crossed his arms over his chest, again. Sam knew that Castiel wasn’t entirely convinced about his brother’s feelings, but believing that he had said what needed to be said for now, he left it at that. He then asked Castiel, “So you didn’t know? About me, I mean.”

Castiel shook his head firmly. “We do not all have your psychic powers of observation it seems,” he said, teasing him.

“I thought I was painfully obvious.”

“Evidently, not to me. Does Dean know?”

“God, no. You’re the only one who does. Does Gabriel know about you and Dean?”

“No, he doesn’t. I think he might suspect. He’s made comments before, but I honestly never know if it’s just him being him or if he actually means something by it.”

“Maybe you should tell Gabriel about Dean,” said Sam.

“I don’t know about that,” said Castiel grimly. “Are you going to tell Dean about Gabe?”

“No, probably not,” said Sam.

“So what does this all mean, then?”

“That we’re both screwed and that I am massively depressed right now.”

“I’ll second that.”

“You’ll second what?” asked a voice behind them.

Dean, who had apparently finished his practice, was standing right next to them.

“Dean,” yelped Sam. He and Castiel, both startled by Dean’s sudden presence, quickly stood up and started picking up their stuff in a hurry.

“We didn’t hear you.”

“How long have you been standing there?”

Dean stood in between them, glancing at one and the other, not saying anything for a moment.

“Not long. I just got here. I heard something about being screwed or whatever.” Sam dropped the entire contents of his bag on the floor.

Castiel helped him quickly, and Sam, still having half of his bag’s contents in his arms, hurried toward the door, followed by Castiel, who gestured Dean to move along with them. Dean obliged, lifting one eyebrow.

 

The drive home was awkward.

The radio was playing and everyone remained quiet.

Sam had insisted on offering Castiel the shotgun seat next to Dean, mumbling something about “fixing his bag,” before taking the back seat.

Dean was stunned.

It was not uncommon, but still rather odd.

In the rearview mirror, Dean noticed Sam was constantly looking between him and Castiel. Dean glanced a few times at his friend next to him, who acted as usual, remaining perfectly still.

Perhaps, a little unusually so.

If he didn’t know any better, Dean would say that his friend was uncomfortable.

When they reached Castiel’s home, Dean stopped the car. Castiel glanced at his home, and with a sigh, thanked his friend for the ride and said goodbye.

Once out of the vehicle, Castiel left the car door open for Sam to take his seat next to Dean for their remaining ride home. But before taking his seat, Sam held Castiel back for a moment.

“Cas,” he said, in a low voice. He wasn’t whispering, but he was still speaking in a much lower tone than usual. “Thanks for today. I…really appreciated the talk.”

“Same, Sam. You’ve given me a lot to think about.”

“Good. Anyways, thanks for listening.”

Castiel smiled, and before stepping onto the sidewalk, he said, “We’ll figure it out.”

“And let me know about…you know,” Sam said, gesturing Castiel’s house. Castiel took a deep breath and nodded.

Dean clenched his jaw and glared at Sam the moment he took his seat next to him. Gripping the wheel, Dean turned ahead and drove off without a sound, but not before shooting one last look at Sam

As they travelled down the street, Dean could see in his rearview mirror that his friend had stayed put and waved back at the car.

Dean’s perpetual and uncharacteristic silence was not unnoticed by Sam.
But not a word was uttered until they turned the corner street, the one right before theirs, and Dean slowed down the impala, only to park it by the side of the road.

Sam frowned at Dean.

“What was that?”

“What?”

Dean turned off the radio.

“What you just said.” There was a pause and Dean added, “To Cas.”

Shit, thought Sam.

“It’s nothing.”

Dean kept quiet and continued staring at Sam.

“Dean, we’re almost home, why did you—”

“Sammy, answer the question.”

“It’s Sam,” he corrected him, “and I told you already, it’s nothing.”

“Didn’t look like nothing.”

Sam opened his mouth, and closed it. “What does that mean?”

“You tell me.”

Dean glared at Sam with a piercing look like he was trying to read his mind. Sam, nearly frightened, observed his brother for a moment. He looked at his eyes. Dean wasn’t mad. This wasn’t angry or annoyed Dean. He watched his brother swallow hard. This was worried Dean.

Which meant—

Holy shit.

I fucking knew it.

“Um…Dean, what’s wrong?”

Dean took a deep breath and looked in front of him. “Sam, please, don’t take me for an idiot.”

Sam had the perfect come back for that comment, but he judged that this particular moment wouldn’t be the best time to use it. Thus, he stayed silent, which did very little to help the situation.

“Sam, just—you and Cas have been weird since the moment I walked into the library. You have been the whole way back.”

“In what way were we weird?”

“You haven’t said anything the whole way!”

“Neither di—”

“You two usually never shut up about some geeky stuff, or you complain about the music or whatever, and today, nothing!” Sam stayed silent. “And then,” continued Dean, “there was this weird side conversation and something is going on and I need to know.”

And before he knew what he was doing, Sam said, “No.”

Surprised, Dean gawked back at his brother. “No? No, what?”

“No, you don’t need to know.” Sam had no idea why he was saying it, but he couldn’t help himself.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me. You do not need to know anything Dean, as it’s none of your business. Cas helped me with something today, as he always does, by the way, so I thanked him for it. That’s it. I don’t even need to tell you this, but here it is. As for what it concerns, that’s between Cas and me, and it will stay between Cas and me until we decide otherwise.”

Sam expected Dean to loose his shit. To yell. To be angry. To talk back. And whatever else he always did when he tried to get something out of his little brother.

But he simply stared at Sam for a short moment and then looked back at the street, starting the car once more.

Dean didn’t turn the radio back on.

Dean didn’t say anything.

Dean didn’t look at Sam.

They reached the house shortly, and the moment they set foot in the house, Dean acted like nothing had happened.

Well, almost, like nothing had happened.

He didn’t go in length about how practice had gone. He replied to every question their parents had for him with a short answer. And he did not look at Sam once.

Dean’s questionable behavior, however, was nothing compared to when Sam brought up Castiel’s name to the table, near the end of supper.

“Before I forget,” said Sam, “Mom, Dad, would it be okay if Cas spends a few nights over here this week?”

A loud clatter made the whole family jump. Dean had managed to drop his fork onto his plate, and then onto the floor.

“Yes, of course, honey,” said Mary, glancing questionably at Dean. “Castiel is always welcome here, you both know that.”

“Is everything alright?” asked John.

“His weird siblings are back in town.”

“What?” choked Dean.

Both their parents looked curiously at Dean, confused about his surprised state.

“Which ones?”

“All three one of them,” answered Sam.

What? Why didn’t he say anything? And why did you let me drop him off there tonight if that’s the case?”

“He said he needed to go back home tonight. He barely agreed to let me ask Mom and Dad right away.”

“Well, we have no objecti—” Mary started saying, but Dean wasn’t done asking questions.

“When did this happen? How do you know? How do you know before me?”

 “This afternoon, after school when you were at practice. What’s your problem?”

“Boys, settle down,” warned John.

“He just mentioned this to you out of nowhere?”

“Dean, honey, why are you—”

“No, Gabriel showed up,” continued Sam, cutting off his mother. “He dropped by to give Cas a heads up of the situation. I was there and they both seemed troubled so I offered Cas —and Gabriel— the option to stay over if they wanted. I said I’d run it by you two first, of course,” he said turning to his parents, “but that’s all. What’s your deal?”

“Enough!” said John, firmly. He hadn't yelled, or even raised his voice, but both boys knew the tone had said it all: this conversation was over.

The boys mumbled “Sorry,” and after a moment where John judged his sons had significantly settled down and had taken a good breath, he finally spoke, “As your mother said, we have no objection if Castiel needs to stay over. This is hardly the first time this happened, and he’s always welcome. Sam, it was very nice of you to extend the invitation to his brother as well, and I agree that he can stay with us if he wishes to do so.”

John turned to Dean, who was intensively focused on his plate. Sam examined his father weighing if he should say something, or perhaps what to say, but one quick glance at Mary, who smiled kindly at him, made him opt to leave it there.

Dinner ended shortly after that. Dean volunteered to clear off the dishes from the table and Sam was convinced that the only reason why he had was so their mother wouldn’t notice that Dean hadn’t eaten everything on his plate.

Which was an alarming fact to Sam.

And to make matters worst, Dean locked himself in his room as fast as he could, mumbling something about “homework.”

All this without having any dessert.

Dean was being weird and Sam knew exactly what was going on.

And he knew it had nothing to do with Lisa Braeden.

Chapter Text

After waving his friends goodbye as they drove down the street, Castiel turned around to face his house with apprehension.

The property was massive. Ridiculously so, Castiel had always found. The exterior features of the house, such as the multiple windows, the warm brick, and a long impressive walkway behind the gates, had always been cause for admiration around the neighborhood. To them, it conveyed a peaceful, impeccable and respectful home. Castiel had even heard someone once identify it as distinguished.

The interior, more precisely the residents rather than the décor, however, told another story.

He passed the gates with a heavy sigh, and continued down the large and perfectly shoveled driveway. Voices from inside the house became clearer and louder with each step he took closer to home.

Terrific. Because there is nothing like coming home to people yelling at each other.

His hand on the door handle, he took a deep breath and braced himself for what was waiting for him on the other side.

Follow the usual plan. Get in. Get food. Get to your room. Preferably without being detected.

Castiel opened the door, carefully stepped in, and shut the door behind him as quietly as possible. The screams hadn’t stopped, which confirmed, at least, that his arrival had not been noticed so far.

With no one in sight, despite the heavy screaming, Castiel rushed to the kitchen, keeping on his trench coat, boots and other winter attire.

The closer he got to the kitchen, however, the more the screams became easier to decipher.

“IT’S ALL HIS FAULT!”

“Yes, as it always is, isn’t it? It’s never your fault, Luce, right? You’re always the poor little victim.”

“Michael, that’s not helping,” said Naomi.

“Good, I wasn’t trying to.”

“That, I believe.”

“Castiel, what are you doing?”

Castiel froze. He had sneaked into the kitchen quiet as a mouse, hoping the others wouldn’t notice him from the dinning room.

All three had stopped talking and were glaring at him. Gabriel was nowhere to be seen.

“I didn’t wish to interrupt you,” he said, pouring himself a glass of orange juice. “This doesn’t concern me and you all seemed deep in conversation.”

“This does concern you. You live here!”

“Whatever you say,” he added, quickly grabbing a few random containers of leftovers from the fridge, along with his glass of orange juice, hoping to make an urgent exit.

“Where do you think you’re going with that?” asked Naomi.

“To my room. I have homework. Nice seeing you all. Don’t burn the house down with your heated discussion.” And he left the kitchen, gunning for the stairs.

“You come back here right this second, young man!”

“Did you just hear what he said to us?”

“Clearly Gabriel’s bad influence.”

“Perhaps it is a good thing that we came back after all.”

“Oh yes, please, by all mean, let’s pretend that we’re here as a good deed and not out of your massive incompetence.”

Castiel had sufficiently put enough distance away from them to hear Michael’s reply, but whatever it was, judging by the rise of incomprehensible voices coming from below, it had caused a commotion.

He dashed for his bedroom, which was situated on the left side of the second floor; an area only occupied by him and Gabriel. It had always been a comforting fact for the both of them that their respective bedrooms were located in a completely different area than the ones of their older siblings. While it had considerably reduced their chances of running into them, it unfortunately had not rendered it impossible, either. The house was excessively large, but not spacious enough to safely avoid the others.

Which was why when Castiel reached his room, he shut and locked his door in a hurry. He dropped the containers of leftovers on his desk and his school bag on the floor. He got rid of his coat and boots, and after sitting down on his desk chair, let out a deep sigh.

“Please tell me you brought enough for two?”

Castiel turned around, half scared to death. In the corner of his room, Gabriel was all cozied up in Castiel’s armchair.

“Gabe! What the hell!” Castiel held his hand over his chest. “You almost gave me a heart attack. What are you doing here?”

“Hiding and avoiding our crazy siblings, obviously,” he said nonchalantly. “Come on, send a dumpling my way. I’m starving.”

Recovering from his initial shock, Castiel rolled his chair closer to his brother, handing him one of the food containers he had snatched.

“That doesn’t explain why you’re here,” said Castiel. “Last time I checked, this is my room, not yours.”

“Which means no one would expect me to be here.”

“Right,” said Castiel. “And if they come for me, which they undoubtedly will, then what?”

“Still working on that part,” said Gabriel, winking at him as he gobbled down a dumpling. Castiel rolled his eyes. “What?” said Gabriel, “I didn’t say it was perfect! It’s a work in progress.”

Castiel sighed, helping himself to some food. “So what’s the situation so far?”

“You tell me. You’re the one who just got a glimpse of their showdown.”

“I didn’t linger, but from what I saw, Naomi is attempting a civilized exchange at the dinner table.”

“That will end well. Still better than what I walked in on, I suppose,” said Gabriel, taking another bite.

“Why? What was going on?”

“Haven’t seen the family room yet?” Castiel shook his head. “Lucifer and Michael expressed their feelings.”

Castiel sighed. “What’s broken?”

“It would be easier to list what isn’t broken.”

“Great.” Castiel, disgusted by everything he’d just heard, dropped the container on his desk. “Why do they always do that? We just went over this during the holidays! What’s the problem this time?”

“The long story short that I know,” said Gabriel, sinking himself into the chair, “is that they both lost money and their jobs, meaning they currently can’t afford a place, hence why they’re back here.”

“Which means this will take a while to sort out,” concluded Castiel.

“We both know it will only be sorted out when one of them decides to leave, and that usually occurs when they’ve pushed themselves too far. And that is never a good thing for whoever is around to witness it.”

Castiel nodded and let Gabriel have the last dumpling. “Where is Duma with all this?”

“No clue,” said Gabriel, shrugging. “She’s either trying to reach Father, which, as we know, is pointless; or she’s having an emergency therapy session over the phone with her on-call therapist. Or both. I don’t understand why she doesn’t quit. We don’t have a choice to endure these lunatics. She does.”

“I hope she asks for a raise at least.”

“No kidding,” snorted Gabriel.

 “So, what’s your plan for this week, then?”

“Well,” said Gabriel, smiling mischievously, “I was hoping that my tragic little situation would appeal to my new interest’s sentiment: the charming Kali.”

“I see. And did that work out?”

“Sadly, not as well as I had hoped. But fear not, everything is not lost. For now I have a few other options, and perhaps by the weekend she will have a change of heart.”

“Good luck with that,” sighed Castiel.

“And what about you, little bro?” he said, lifting his eyebrows. “Crashing at the Winchesters? Maybe our drama won’t be pointless after all. Dean and his ever-helping hand. Isn’t this a gift from heaven to help you out on your top to-do list?”

Castiel spat out his orange juice. “I…I don’t kn—know what you’re talking about,” he said, wiping it off his mouth.

“Aww,” said Gabriel, “faking innocence, bless your heart.”

“Gabe, I—I—this is—it’s not like that.”

“Very convincing,” said Gabriel, smiling. Panicking, Castiel shoved food in his mouth and avoided Gabriel’s eyes at all cost. Assessing that Castiel was resolute in not uttering another word, Gabriel glanced at the door and listened to make sure he didn’t hear anyone walking around in the hallway. “Cas, come on,” he finally said, once he was reassured that nobody would barge in. “Look, real talk, okay? No jokes. I know this isn’t my business, and I won’t force anything out of you. But I have the right to say that I have eyes, and from where I’m standing, yours are desperately locked in on Dean.”

Shit.

It’s twice, now.

Gabe is the second person today to tell me this.

Does everybody know?

“I know I’ve teased you before,” continued Gabriel, “and I honestly meant it as a joke. Partially. I just thought you were both being adorable and annoyingly awkward in that tender—well, awkward—age and that was it. But that was a while ago. Years. Then, in the last year or so, it became almost painful to look at, and at first I thought maybe you two should just get it out of your system and move on. But it’s obvious now that this, whatever this is, it’s more than just hormones at work. It’s deeper than that. I suggest you don’t wait too long to find out how he feels about it, because the longer you wait…”

Castiel remained silent for a moment, deciding what to say. He had to admit that after Gabriel’s speech, attempting to deny anything would seem rather fruitless. Evidently, his brother had greatly reflected on the matter and he would remain adamant about it. Still hesitant to speak, he then remembered Sam’s suggestion and opted for a leap of faith.

“But Dean’s my friend,” said Castiel in a whisper. “I don’t want to ruin everything.” Gabriel took a massive breath of relief at his brother’s admission.

“Cas, I don’t have anything against Dean, but I will soon if being honest with him terrifies you so much it convinced you to stay in that agonizing state.” Castiel glanced at his brother and saw that Gabriel held onto his most earnest face. “You don’t have to try anything just yet, but at least think about it.” Gabriel left his seat and on his way to the door, he sympathetically tapped Castiel on his shoulder. “You will stay at the Winchesters, starting tomorrow, no matter what, though, right?”

Castiel nodded. “Probably, yes.”

“It’s going to be okay,” said his brother. He slowly leaned his head against the door, carefully listening.

“Thanks, Gabe. That was…surprisingly insightful. I appreciate it.”

“What do you mean surprisingly ? I have layers! I know it’s very easy to be fooled by my charmingly mellow appearance, but I’m deep,” he said, feigning being insulted.

Castiel had to smile at that.

“I was talking about the subject matter, not you per say. You’ve never been much about romantic relationships.” He then asked, cautiously, “Ever think about changing that?”

Gabriel made a face. “I don’t know, Cas. All this pining, that’s not right for the soul. That’s why I’ve never allowed myself to reach that point.”

Castiel thought for a moment. “What if I told you I know someone who might be interested? Someone who thinks highly of you and of your character. I believe the word ‘kindhearted’ was used.”

“Really?” said Gabriel, intrigued. “Who? Anyone I know?”

“Not telling.”

“Why not? I think I deserve to know who is this responsive to my good nature. I mean, the right thing to do would be to repay their insightful kindness in, you know, insightful kindness.

“Still not telling you.”

“Not fair! I just helped you out. My turn!”

“You know what they say: no good deed goes unpunished.”

“You’re really not going to tell me?” he said, genuinely upset with a frown on his face.

“I’ll tell you what,” said Castiel after a pause, “I’ll make sure to report your interest and if they wish to reveal themselves, then I’ll let you know.”

Gabriel squinted at his brother. He opened the door, but stayed put.

“Cas, now I want to know even more. Please?” He looked at Castiel hoping his brother would cave in, but he remained impartial. Gabriel added, “This isn’t over. I’ll find out. It’s like when someone tells you not to do something, and of course, because they said it—the second they said it—it now becomes your mission in life. That’s what this is. I’m blaming you for this.”

“Is that how you justified the prank in the teachers’ lounge?”

Gabriel opened and shut his mouth. He purposely looked down at the floor, but Castiel could still discern a grin forming on his face. “No comment.”

I knew it.

“‘Night, Gabe.”

 

Determined to ignore his other three siblings downstairs, Castiel hid himself in his room and focused on finishing all his homework of the day. It turned out to be a productive night despite the unfortunate situation.

Later in the evening, fed up with numbers, he decided to move ahead on his reading assignments instead. He sat in his armchair, comfortably, granting himself some peaceful reading time. Not long after, however, he noticed his phone lighting up.

 

Sam: One, how’s everything at your house?

Sam: Mom and Dad are expecting you tomorrow.

Sam: And two, my brother is an IDIOT.

Cas: Home is as bad as to be expected. And thank you. I’ll be there.

Cas: But what? Why?

Cas: What happened with Dean?

Sam: He’s freaking out.

Cas: ?

Sam: He didn’t text you?

Sam: Because he probably will.

Cas: No, he hasn’t.

Cas: Why? Sam, what happened?

Sam: He lost it when I asked our parents if you could crash at our place.

Cas: NO

Cas: I forgot to tell him!!

Cas: I feel awful. I spaced out in the car.

Sam: Ya, I noticed. I should let you sit shotgun more often.

Sam: I could smell the sexual tension being ping ponged between the two of you.

Cas: Have you always been this outspoken or you’ve just recently acquired this new skill?

Cas: How are you not able to speak in front of Gabe?

Sam:…that’s not important atm.

Cas: Okay but

Cas: But now Dean is mad at me? Because I didn’t tell him…

Sam: Cas, no.

Sam: Dean freaked because I knew something he didn’t.

Sam: CORRECTION, Dean freaked because I knew something about YOU that he didn’t.

Sam: Dean isn’t angry with you. He’s jealous!

Sam: Right.

Sam: I forgot about that other part.

Sam: I did something.

Sam: Before. I did something before dinner.

Sam: See, Dean was already freaking out in the car after we dropped you off. He kept asking me questions about what was going on and why I thanked you.

Sam: I told Dean that you helped me out…and I told him that the rest wasn’t any of his business.

Sam: Which it isn’t.

Cas: Sam.

Sam: I know.

Sam: I shouldn’t have said it like that. But it was private.

Sam: He aggravated me. And the point is that he freaked. Then dinner happened and now it’s like he thinks there’s something between us.

Cas: Sam, come on.

Cas: He doesn’t think that.

Cas: How could he possibly think that?

Sam: He does.

Sam: And

Sam: What if

Cas: What if what?

Sam: What if we pretend it’s true.

Cas: Sam.

Cas: Why?

Sam: Why not?

Cas: Why would WE?

Cas: One, I thought you liked Gabe.

Sam:…I do.

Cas: Then why? And two, it’s wrong. It would be lying. I don’t want to lie to Dean.

Cas: And three

Cas: Three, what on earth is this going to change? If what you say is true and Dean is upset right now, it’s not because he’s jealous, it’s because he believes I’m interested in his little brother. Aside from giving him a reason to MURDER me in my sleep, this accomplishes nothing because Dean likes Lisa.

Sam: For the LAST TIME, he doesn’t like Lisa. He likes YOU. And that’s the point I could prove to you if we do this.

Sam: I told you! Dean freaked out just thinking something was going on. And say whatever you want, this wasn’t about me. It’s about you. You and me, or you with someone else, he would have had the same reaction.

Sam: But this week you’ll be here with us. And Dean already thinks something is going on. Why not take advantage of the situation and prove it to you?

Sam: Cas?

Sam: Cas, please?

Sam: Like think about it, okay?

Sam: Don’t say no right now. But think about it.

Sam: Okay?

Cas: I don’t know, Sam.

Sam: *sad puppy face*

Cas: That’s cheating.

Cas: Don’t hold your breath, but I’ll think about it.

 

Evidently, Sam has lost his mind.

And this day is becoming more ludicrous by the minute.

Simply thinking about Sam’s idea made Castiel feel incredibly uncomfortable.

What would that entail exactly?

How far would this go?

Surprisingly, Castiel’s biggest concern regarding Sam’s plan was not about adopting a more informal behavior with him. His uneasiness lay mostly, in fact, with the prospect of lying to Dean.

Scheming was not something Castiel favoured, for good reasons, and to deceive Dean—and in that fashion—was something Castiel couldn’t imagine himself doing.

Resolved to forget about this absurd conversation, he did his best to go back to his book.

But it turned out to be difficult.

His mind was elsewhere.

It certainly didn’t help that he could hear Michael and Lucifer having another row at each other downstairs.

He counted his blessing that they had ignored him so far, and with his mind out of focus and his siblings’ current occupation, he decided that it was then the perfect opportunity to hit the bathroom for his usual nighttime routine, in order to limit his chances to get sucked into the family drama later on.

He met no problems—or anyone else—on his mini nocturnal excursion, but he couldn’t deny that his level of anxiety had definitely increased the moment he had left the comfort of his room. His neck and shoulders had tensed up, he had held his breath as much as he could, and he had jumped at any unexpected sound.

Once back in his room, Castiel dragged his feet on the floor and he dropped on his bed exhausted. He deduced that the mere presence of his siblings, no matter how much he was avoiding them, was draining the life out of him.

Perhaps Gabe is right and going to the Winchesters would be the best option.

Castiel had always done so in the past when the situation at home had gone too awry.

But this time, there was a faint—but nagging—hesitation in the back of his head that bothered him tremendously.

Why is it so weird now?

Is it simply because it’s been a while?

Or is it because of what Sam said about Dean?

Or what he suggested?

Or what Gabe said?

Or how I feel?

Castiel looked at the ceiling and wished he could hit a reset button on the whole day, washing away every issue. Nothing about his siblings. Nothing about Lisa. Nothing about Dean supposedly liking him. And certainly nothing about Sam’s suggestion.

Just as he was concluding that he should refuse Sam’s proposition, his phone buzzed.

It was a text message from Dean. A long text message from Dean.

 

Dean: Hey Cas. Sam said that you might need a place to crash because the monsters are back in town. Mom and Dad said yes. But know that you don’t even have to ask. You’re always welcome here.

You know you can tell me anything, right? I obviously don’t have a problem with you hanging out with Sam (I mean, who else are you both going to geek out with?), but I can’t help but feel like you are doing so because I left you out or something. And I know I’m probably being paranoid, but I have to check: is it something I did? Or said? You don’t have to tell me things you don’t want to, obviously, but Cas, you’re my best friend. I know the past few weeks, since I moved up in the team, I’ve been busier with that. And the shifts Dad gave me on the weekends this past year took a lot of my time too…I just hope you don’t think I’ve been neglecting you. If I have, that’s my bad and I need to know. Like you need to tell me. I thought that was our thing, that we told each other everything. Maybe it still is or maybe I assumed it was based on the fact that you’re usually blunt and have non-existent filters. Maybe it changed and I didn’t noticed. Or I don’t know.

I was just surprised to hear it from Sam. But know that you can tell me anything. And I really mean anything, even if it’s awkward. 

It will be great to see you at home this week, just like the old days. But better, if that’s possible.

Hope the house hasn’t burned down yet. 

See ya tmr

 

Castiel looked at his phone, dumbfounded. He read Dean’s message multiple times to confirm what he had read was real.

And then, before shutting off his phone for the night, he made sure to do one more thing.

He texted Sam.

 

Cas: I have additional information to share. Concerning us both.

Cas: I think we need to continue our discussion.

Cas: And I’m ready to listen.

Chapter Text

Castiel had passed the entire night tossing and turning, mulling over everything in his brain.

He partially regretted sending his last text to Sam. He had meant it at the time, but by morning, he wondered if he should have slept on it instead.

Sam’s plan worried him.

He was convinced it was a terrible idea. This wasn’t his style, and as far as he knew, it wasn’t Sam’s either. 

But then he remembered Dean’s text.

I thought that was our thing, that we told each other everything.

Dean hadn’t been wrong. It was. It had been.

But over the last few years, there were a few things that Castiel had kept to himself, most notably his feelings for Dean. And if Castiel had remained silent on that particular subject, it was possible that Dean had done so as well.

And the moment that this possibility—however tiny of a prospect that their feelings could be mutual—crept into his mind, he felt newly hopeful.

Much more hopeful than he would like to admit.

But know that you can tell me anything.

Sam’s plan didn’t seem so daunting, then.

Be that as it may, Castiel knew he wouldn’t be able to go through with it. Lying to Dean was a line he didn’t want to cross. That was too much for him, no matter what.

Thus, he resigned himself, when he got up in the morning, to return to his initial decision and inform Sam that he had changed his mind.

They briefly agreed over text to meet at the diner near the school as early as possible that same morning. Convincing his brother to leave earlier than usual would be tricky for Castiel, but not impossible.  He judged that a large sugarcoated coffee and a strong reminder of the housing situation would be sufficient incentive to flee the house promptly.

It was. There was grunting involved, but Gabriel obliged.

As for Sam, Mary was usually the one driving him to school in the mornings. Dean had taken up the habit of running early in the neighborhood around the school (as it often gave him the opportunity to hit the gym as well) ever since he had begun playing football.

His parents had allowed him to do so only if his grades stayed up; if he promised to be careful and only use this time to do exactly what he intended to do; and because the school wasn’t too much of a detour from Mary’s route to her office.

This was the only exception where his parents had allowed Dean to use Baby to go to school without Sam, because it required him to arrive much earlier than Sam preferred or was strictly necessary.

And everybody knew that Mary was incredibly grateful to have this additional time with her youngest, even if some mornings he was still half asleep in the car.

By the time Sam was up that morning, Dean had already left, and luckily, Mary saw no objections to leaving earlier than usual.

Sam told a little white lie that it was due to a school project as an explanation.

He felt bad about lying, especially when he knew his mother wouldn’t have objected to the idea of him meeting Castiel, but he knew that the truth would have raised questions. He tried to lessen his guilt by telling himself that he was after all simply meeting a friend and not doing anything actually dishonest.

 

The Roadhouse Diner had always been Castiel and Gabriel’s favourite place to eat since their childhood. Quite inexplicably, this was one place where the Novak family always had a good time together and where no perturbing drama was ever generated. Their memories of the place gave it a comforting vibe and that was something Castiel greatly craved that morning, which was why he had been the one to suggest it as a meeting place.

Sam arrived not long after Castiel had sat in his usual family booth, and as soon as they were settled and had ordered their food, Castiel dropped the bomb.

“I can’t do it. I’m sorry, Sam, but I changed my mind.”

Sam’s face fell. “But why? Did something happen? Dean said something?”

“No. Well, yes. He did, but it’s not because of that.” Castiel twirled the base of his glass between his fingers on the table.

“What did he say?”

Castiel looked out of the window for a moment and then came back to Sam. “That’s not important because I still can’t do it. I don’t want to deceive your brother. Even if what you say is true, down the line, I still don’t think lying is the way to do it. I know what it—I don’t want to achieve this like this.”

Sam nodded and sank down in his seat, knowing that Castiel was probably right about that part.

“And I was thinking,” continued Castiel, “you heard what Dean said yesterday. He didn’t continue pursuing Lisa the moment she was no longer single. Pretending that we are together might help him see how he feels about me, according to you, but it certainly won’t help the situation about what he’s supposed to do after that.”

Sam sighed. “That was my point, though. That Dean would have done something if he really liked her. I believe he would have with you.”

Castiel looked down. Hearing Sam supporting the idea of him and Dean being together to that degree…It was almost enough for him to reconsider Sam’s scheme. Firmly believing that he shouldn’t, however, he then remembered another important detail that Sam wasn’t aware of yet.

“Sam? There’s something else you should know. It’s another reason why I think this is a bad idea. It’s about Gabe.” Sam looked directly at him. “I didn’t name anyone, but I let him know that someone was interested in him.”

Sam remained perfectly still, holding his breath.

“We were just talking and—anyways, it sort of came up. And he wanted to know more, but I told him I’d let the person know first. Do you want me to tell him it’s you?”

Sam’s eyes went big and he shook his head wildly. “No, please don’t do that.”

“If that’s what you want, I won’t,” he assured him. “But I’m telling you, Gabe was interested. And not in a nonchalant way.”

Sam shook his head again.

Castiel nodded. “But you see what I’m getting at, right? I think that if we go along with your plan, it might be productive for Dean and me—emphasis on the word might—but it would be counter-productive for you. Pretending to be with me won’t help you with Gabe. They aren’t the same situation, but I feel it would be unfair to ruin your chances that way.”

As Sam took in Castiel’s position on the matter, the waitress arrived with their breakfasts. They thanked her and Castiel poured syrup on his pancakes, while Sam was staring blankly at his eggs, feeling defeated.

At the sight of Sam, Castiel debated if he should share with him that he had opened up to Gabriel about Dean. It was his suggestion, after all. And perhaps, it would be a good way to make the two interact with each other.

On the other hand, Castiel had no desires to become the prime focus point of anybody’s scheme, especially not his brother’s. And given that both Sam and Gabriel were already drilling him the same speech—separately—he knew that would undoubtedly be the outcome if he attempted this approach. With this in mind, he then decided that he would have to find another way to bring those two together.

“What if we fake-fake it?”

Castiel frowned at him.

“Look,” said Sam, after taking a bite of his eggs, “you’re right. In the long run, pretending is just going to get us in trouble. But I know we’re onto something here. I don’t know what to do about Gabriel, but I know what to do about Dean. I still can’t get over that he’s freaking out because of one private conversation. That’s all it took, Cas. So maybe that’s all we need. We just spend time together. I won’t lie about what we do or don’t do together. But I will make a point that it is none of his business if he asks questions and he will ask questions. Just like it happened yesterday. That way, we aren’t dating or fake dating, it might just seem like something is potentially brewing…but nothing is actually happening. And no lies.”

Castiel was still frowning. “So…we’ll simply pretend to be interested in each other?”

“Sort of.”

“Isn’t that the same thing, Sam?” said Castiel as he tried not to laugh.

“No. It’s not,” he said, shifting in his seat and lifting his hand in protest, “because we won’t lie. Listen, it’s down to Dean’s paranoia. We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary yesterday, and yet, the moment Dean realized that we had something private between us—and by this I mean simply that it didn’t involve him and that it was without his knowledge—he crashed into paranoia town. Dean is not possessive, but this was jealousy. I know it.”

“That’s another thing that puzzles me, Sam, because Dean isn’t the jealous type.”

“No, he isn’t,” agreed Sam, eagerly. “He’s not. Until yesterday, I had never seen Dean jealous…except that one time.”

Castiel tilted his head at the information. “When was that?”

Sam was smiling devilishly. “That, I can’t tell you. Not right now.”

“Sam.”

“Sorry. I promised Dean I would never mention it to anyone. But know that it certainly proves my point.”

Castiel took a bite of his pancakes and stayed quiet. Sam studied Castiel while he processed his new idea. His silence suggested that he wasn’t overly convinced, so Sam voiced another option.

“There’s still the most obvious way, Cas.”

“Which is?”

“Tell him,” said Sam, simply. “Tell him how you feel. I’ll help you if you want. It is why I suggested this plan in the first place: because I wanted to help you see that Dean feels the same. And I truly believe he does. But I know you’re worried about his reaction and I get it. Trust me, even if it seems very obvious from my point of view, I understand why you might be worried. That’s why I thought this whole thing would make you see it. And then maybe you wouldn’t be so worried about it.”

Castiel sighed. “Why do you want to help me? How is this helping you? I just told you, Gabe would like to know who his secret admirer is. And shouldn’t you be helping Dean instead?”

“I am helping Dean by helping you because I’m rooting for you both. I mean, you’re Dean and Cas. You belong together.”

Castiel glanced out the window, crossed his arms over his chest and took a deep breath.

“I can’t tell Dean. Not right now. Not…bluntly like that.”

“Okay. That’s fine. But you’re staying over this week? Right?” Castiel nodded. “Okay, then lets try what I said. Just us—you and I—hanging out. If what I think is true, we should see a direct change in Dean’s attitude, which will prove my theory. If nothing changes, then nothing changes, and there’s no harm done so to speak. We didn’t fake date or lie to Dean.”

“What about Gabe? What exactly do you want me to tell him in the meantime?”

“Tell him I—I’ll reveal myself when I’m ready.”

“I don’t want to scare you, but that will only make Gabe inquire even more.”

“But you won’t tell him it’s me, right?”

“Of course not. You won’t tell Dean, right?”

“Nope. But I’ll help you.”

“Same.”

 

Castiel, as it turned out, was not the only one that morning who regretted sending spontaneous text messages. Dean firmly believed that he should have never sent that “stupid ass” text message to his friend the night before. A hollow “no” had come out of his mouth the second he had pressed “Send.”

What a dumbass.

Why did I do that?

Have I lost my freaking mind?

What the hell was that, anyway?

And the fact that by the next morning, Castiel still hadn’t replied to him certainly didn’t help with his nerves.

He had reread his message about twenty-three times, desperately trying to see how Castiel could have misinterpreted it. Or worst, been offended by it.

Why is this happening?

What is happening?

“Earth to Dean.”

Startled, Dean dropped his books as he snapped out of his trance.

Lisa was standing in front of him.

“Oh, hi Lisa.”

“You okay?” she asked, helping him with his books.

“Yeah, sorry. Just spaced out. Morning, I guess.” Lisa nodded and smiled at him shyly. They both awkwardly looked at each other for a moment. “What’s up? How are you?” he added, realizing she was waiting for him to say something.

“Well, funny you should ask, Dean. I’m fine. Um—I don’t know if you know, but I am now single.”

“You are?” His books almost fell out of his hands again.

“Yes, and—and, well, someone might have mentioned to me that you would be interested in knowing that particular update.”

Dean nodded. “You heard right,” he said with a steady voice as he smiled confidently.

“Really?”

“Of course.”

“Okay, I wasn’t sure. I thought—anyway, but okay, great!” She stayed put and awkwardly looked at Dean once more until he understood that she was again waiting for him to carry his side of the conversation.

“Right. Lisa, would you like to go out with me?” he asked quickly.

“Yes. I would, Dean. Very much so.”

“Cool. I’d suggest Friday, but it’s game day.”

“Can I go and cheer for you?” 

“You certainly can,” he laughed. “We could do something else afterwards, too.”

She nodded. “That sounds perfect. Um, what—can I…” she started to say, but stopped herself.

“What?”

She hesitated a moment and then, after taking a deep breath, she added, “Would it be totally crazy if I asked if you were free tonight, also?”

“Tonight?” said Dean, surprised. He found it curious that his first emotion was shock rather than eagerness at hearing her proposal. Thankfully, Lisa hadn’t seemed to have notice.

“I know it’s quick, but I—okay, I’ll be very honest with you Dean, I had plans already with…you know, and knowing that I’d be out with you instead of staying at home wallowing, it would really cheer me up. We don’t have to do much, really. I just don’t want to stay at home and be depressed.”

“That’s…I’ll do my best.”

“Thank you. That’s—you made my day,” she laughed. “I mean it, Dean. Um, anywhere you would like to go?”

“I—I don’t know. What about you?”

“Anything. Don’t feel pressured. I swear, something simple and it will make me happy.”

“Okay,” said Dean, trying not to worry. “Oh, wait. Um, I have practice after school, but we can do something after?”

They both agreed that they should meet during lunch to discuss the specifics of their evening. Lisa left Dean to “wake up properly,” waved him goodbye quickly, and walked away to her friend who was standing close by, obviously for moral support.

As Lisa and her friend disappeared down the hallway, Dean then spotted turning into the hallway his friend’s iconic trench coat. He shoved the rest of his books in his locker, hoping he could catch him before the bell rang.

But he froze when he noticed that his friend was not alone.

Sam was with him.

They were talking.

Sam glanced around and then tugged Castiel along with him down the hallway. Unfortunately, it was at this precise moment that a large group walked by, making it impossible for Dean to see anything from his vantage point.

Desperately trying to peek over everybody’s head, Dean frantically searched for both of them once the crowd had passed, but they were nowhere to be seen.

He instantly dropped whatever he was still holding at the bottom of his locker, shut it a little more harshly than he should have, and went to class muttering to himself.

 

Throughout the rest of his morning, Dean was filled with an odd and growing feeling he couldn’t quite identify.

And he didn’t like it. Not one second.

To make matters worse, Castiel arrived late at their English class, which up until that very morning, Dean would have thought it inconceivable.

He took his seat next to Dean, as always, and said a brief and usual “Hello, Dean.”

And that was it.

Castiel continued acting for the rest of the class as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

No mention of Dean’s text from the night before.

No mention of his home situation.

No mention of why he was late.

And no mention of his conversation with Sam from the day before, or their little morning chat in the hallway, either.

Dean reasoned that it was perhaps not the best of time to discuss such topics during class, and that his friend was merely reserving this conversation for lunchtime.

But he found himself disappointed once again when lunch hour arrived.

His friend was not cold or distant. He was in fact his usual self, simply talking about the new book he’d begun the night before.

But still not one word about the many things Dean was eager to discuss.

Dean felt annoyed and was almost wondering if he wasn’t doing it on purpose.

Eventually, however, he decided this whole situation was silly and that he should simply bring up the subject himself if it was bothering him so much.

But it was in that precise moment that Sam suddenly dropped his tray and took a seat next to Castiel.

“Hey guys! Is it okay if I join you again today?”

“Of course,” said Castiel. He helped Sam settle next to him by pushing Dean’s bag aside to give Sam more room.

“You’re just joining us now?” asked Dean. “We’re almost done eating. Why so late?”

“Homework,” answered Sam, quickly, after taking a massive bite of his sandwich. “Had to finish a lab report with Garth. It’s due this afternoon, and we tried to finish it this morning but it took longer than we thought. All good now.”

“Lab report? This morning?”

Sam nodded. 

“With Garth?”

“Yeah. Why?”

Dean looked at him, gapping. “Nothing,” he said, before taking the last bite of his sandwich.

“Oh, Dean,” said Castiel, “now that Sam’s here, it just reminded me, is it still okay that I stay over at your place for the week?”

Now that Sam’s here?

Dean didn’t mean to bluntly glare at him, but he did.

“If—if it isn’t, it’s fine, too.”

“Yes. Sorry, yes, it’s fine, of course,” assured Dean. He was then met by a strange expression on Sam’s face, reminiscent of the harsh look he had given Castiel a moment ago, probably indicating to him to get his shit together.

“Thank you, Dean,” said Castiel, oblivious at the silent exchange between the two brothers. “Thank you, both. I am very looking forward to it, actually. It has been some time since our last long camping session in the basement. A night or two occasionally since then, perhaps, but…”

“Not a full week or so, no,” said Dean.

“I hope I won’t be too much of a bother.”

“Oh, please, Cas,” said Sam, laughing. “You’re pretty low maintenance compared to Dean.”

“I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult,” said Castiel, “some would see it as an insult—Gabe, for instance—but, thank you.”

“You’re just so delightful.”

They both started laughing.

And Dean’s mouth fell open.

What the fuck is this?

Did Sam just say this?

And Cas is just laughing—giggling?

They’re both giggling like a bunch of—

At my expanse, no less?

It’s not even funny.

What the fuck.

What is happeni—

“Dean? Dean, hello?”

Dean snapped out of it and found Castiel and Sam staring at him curiously. Sam nodded towards him and it was only then that Dean noticed Lisa was standing right next to him.

“Lisa! Hi!” Dean yelled louder than needed, which made everybody jumped. Lisa even took a step back.

“Are you okay?” she said.

“Yes, sorry. Spaced out.”

“Huh-uh. Is this a thing with you?”

“Right, yeah, apparently is it today,” said Dean. He then recalled their morning conversation.

OH SHIT.

“I was supposed to meet you,” he said, absently, just remembering.

“That was the plan.” She wasn’t mad, though, she was laughing, a distinction that Dean was very grateful for in that moment. “That’s what I thought, anyway.”

“No, no. Of course. I’m sorry. I just—”

“Spaced out?” she said, teasing him.

“Yeah.”

“It’s okay,” she repeated. “You can finish your meal with Cas and Sam. I mean the lunch hour will be done soon, so… as long as we’re still good for tonight? Still meeting you after your football practice?”

Oh shit.

“Of course,” he blurted out. “Still good. And I’ll join you. Now. I said I would, just—just give me a sec, first?”

Not knowing what else to say in regards to Dean’s weird behaviour, she simply nodded. With a quick wave goodbye at Sam and Castiel, she turned on her heels and went back to her table a few rows further down.

“Oh my god,” said Dean, ramming everything into his bag. “I’m such an idiot. I totally forgot I was supposed to meet her.”

“So you’re going out with Lisa?” asked Sam.

“Um, yeah. Hopefully, I guess.”

“Cool. When did this happen?” asked Sam again, only this time, there was an accusatory tone attached to it.

Dean stared at him. “This morning. She asked me out.”

“Come again?”

“Yeah. Total surprise. Anyway, I agreed I’d make an appearance at her table during lunch, which I failed to do. We were supposed to discuss tonight. It shouldn’t be anything big as it’s last minute and…” Dean stopped mid-sentence and dropped his bag on the table. “And I suck. Shit, Cas, I didn’t know if you’d be coming home or not, yet. And I—I forgot. And I…” I feel awful.

“It’s okay, Dean. Go on your date, don’t worry about that.”

“Yeah, but…like…I feel like this is weird.”

“It’s okay,” repeated Castiel.

“We’ll survive without you for a few hours, Dean, and we’ll see you when you come back home. You can tell us all about it, then,” said Sam.

“Home? What do you mean? What about when I give you a lift home?”

“Dean,” said Sam, laughing, “you just agreed to meet Lisa after practice to go on your date. Won’t Lisa prefer this happening just the two of you?”

“Shit. What am I supposed to do?”

“Exactly what you said,” said Castiel, “which is to meet Lisa and go on your date.”

“Yeah, we’ll just head straight home after school, as there’s really no point in waiting for you today after practice, that’s all.”

“But how are you going to get home?”

“I don’t think we’ll die if we take the bus this one time,” said Sam, chuckling.

Dean didn’t like it. Dean didn’t like it one second.

“You’re sure?” he asked. “Cas, I feel bad. I told you I—I don’t want you to think I’m ditching you.”

Castiel opened his mouth to say something, but decided against it. He looked down at the table for a few seconds, and then looked back at his friend. “Dean, it’s okay. You’re not. Ditching me, I mean. We see each other every day. We’ll just hang out properly tomorrow night that’s all. Go out with Lisa. It’s Lisa, Dean. Isn’t this what you wanted?”

Dean swallowed. “Okay, yeah. Right. Thanks. I’ll make it up to you. To you both.” He picked up his backpack and left the table. As he was walking towards Lisa, Dean couldn’t help but glance back at them once more, out of guilt.

Castiel was laughing at something Sam was telling him.

And Dean wished he knew what Sam was saying that was so funny.

He also wished that Sam would stop being so amusing.

Especially around Castiel. And particularly when Dean wasn’t there.

Chapter Text

Dean felt guilty and annoyed for the better part of the afternoon. He had spent the remaining fifteen minutes of his lunch hour with Lisa, discussing ideas for their date while trying his best to ignore his urge to turn around and look at Sam and Castiel.

By the time the bell rang, Lisa and Dean had settled on the promising idea to share a meal at a burger joint—a place that Dean had surprisingly never heard of.

When he stood up to leave the cafeteria, it finally offered him an excuse to glance back at his table.

But he pursed his lips when he saw that Sam and Castiel had already left.

He immediately reassured himself with the plan of catching up with his friend during the afternoon break.

And the anticipation was as great as the time felt slow.

Unfortunately, this didn’t work out for him, either. The second he stepped out of the classroom, he grabbed his phone to text Castiel, but momentarily froze when he saw a missed call notification from his father.

Dean frowned. John calling him during school hours was rare.

Nearly worried, Dean walked away as fast as he could from the large crowd, hurrying down the hallway to find a quieter place, and called his father.

“Hi, Dad. It’s Dean. You called?”

“Yes, hi. You’re not in class right now, are you?”

“No. Just ended. What’s up? Everything okay?”

“Yes,” said John. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to worry you, but I had to call quickly. Jim Murphy had to leave town this morning due to a death in the family.”

“Crap, Dad. I’m sorry to hear that. You think—is he going to be okay?”

“He says so. I know he will be. Don’t worry, we’ll still check up on him. But that’s not why I called you though. Look, I hate to do this at the last minute and during weekdays, but we’re swamped here. We got delayed this weekend, as you know. I was already planning on staying over later than usual this week to keep up, but now that Jim’s gone too…I’ll be able to do most of it myself, but if you could help me out tonight and tomorrow after your football practice, then maybe that will save me from burning the midnight oil all week. Bobby agreed to help me out this weekend, so I’ll give you the entire weekend off, this one and the next after that, too,” he added to sweeten the deal.

“Dad, um. I would. I mean, I can tomorrow, but it’s just—I made plans tonight. I’m going out with Lisa.”

“Oh,” said John, pausing. “Did I miss something last night or—”

“No, no. It kinda just happened today.”

“Okay,” said John, laughing. “But that’s good, Dean. I’m happy for you. Would I be terrible if I still asked you come by the garage and help me after?”

“After my date?”

“Yes. No pressure. No timeframe required, other than the usual curfew, of course. Even if it’s just half an hour to an hour of your help, it would really make a difference for me.”

“Yes, of course. No problem,” said Dean. Then he suggested, “I could postpone with Lisa if you want.”

“No, no, son, don’t do that. You go on your date.”

“You’re sure?” asked Dean, biting on his bottom lip.

“Yes, Dean. It will be fine. Just promise you’ll make an appearance at some point tonight. That’s all I’m asking.”

“Okay. I will. And I’ll definitely be there tomorrow night.”

“Terrific. Thank you, Dean. I really appreciate it. Okay, I’ll let you go now, I feel bad bothering you at school.”

“No, it’s okay. See you tonight.”

“Dean, wait, wait!”

“Yes, what?” said Dean, putting the phone back to his ear.

“What happened with Cas?”

Dean froze.

“What happened with Cas, what?”

“Is he coming over?”

Shit. Cas. “That’s the plan, yes,” he said, looking at the ceiling in frustration.

“Okay, good. I’ll tell your mother. She always likes it when he’s around the house. We both do.”

Dean didn’t know what to say, but out of fear of exposing himself, he replied, “Pretty sure Cas likes it too. See you tonight, Dad.”

Back at his locker to swap his books, Dean felt the pit in his stomach deepen.

The one silver lining he had given himself earlier that day was that despite his busy schedule, once back at home, he would still have been able to finally hang out with Castiel.

But with the addition of a stop at the garage, on top of everything else, the likes of this happening had significantly decreased.

Shutting his locker with a deep sigh, he decided to text Castiel his latest update as it was then too late to find him before his next class.

If Cas is upset, I’ll cancel with Lisa.

It was last minute anyway.

And I’m supposed to drive Sam home. I feel bad about that.

I’ll just do something with her this weekend.

Yeah, I’ll have the weekend off.

And it will give me time to plan a proper date this time.

But as it turned out, Castiel wasn’t upset with Dean.

His friend was very understanding and still wished Dean to have a nice evening with Lisa, and wrote that he was looking forward to hearing how it had went later that night, or the next day, at the worst.

Dean stared at his phone reading the text a few times. He clenched his jaw, put his phone in his back pocket, and hastened to his next classroom.

He took his seat and opened his book with a firm intention to not interact with anyone around him.

He didn’t know what was bothering him most: that Castiel didn’t seem at all upset that they wouldn’t be spending time together or the fact that he, Dean, himself was upset that Castiel wasn’t upset.

Whatever it was, Dean thought it was best not to linger too much on the fact that Sam would have Castiel all to himself for the rest of the evening.

Because why does that matter?

 

Sam and Castiel’s late afternoon had been well spent and in good company. Sam had tried his best to cheer Castiel up once they had learned of Dean’s plan for the evening. Part of him was happy for his brother, but the other part of him was deeply irritated with Dean too. His brother’s actions somehow made him feel like they had both failed Castiel.

“Well, there goes your theory and our supposedly low-key plan,” said Castiel the second Dean had left their table during lunch hour.

Sam shook his head and decided in that instant that not everything was lost. “Call me crazy, but I think that might play in our favour,” said Sam, taking another bite of his sandwich.

“You are crazy,” said Castiel, laughing. “Dean is officially going out with Lisa now.” He let out a sigh that made Sam feel for him. “I don’t think I need other proof than that.”

“Still not buying it,” said Sam, stubbornly, which made Castiel laugh even more. “Nothing is official just yet,” he said, gesturing air quotes. “She just broke up with her boyfriend. And even then I know my brother. You’ll see.” He took a deep breath, looking at Dean’s back a few rows down. “Anyway, Cas, we agreed on hanging out, so that’s what we’ll do no matter what. You need a severe distraction and I’d be an awful person if I didn’t try to do that at the very least.”

Castiel studied Sam for a moment.

“You know, you’re really persuasive.”

“Just telling it how it is,” said Sam, gobbling down the last piece of his sandwich.

They eventually decided to take the city bus after school and go at Sam’s favourite bookstore near downtown. It was a minuscule bookstore filled with second hands books. Castiel remembered Sam mentioning the place a few times, but he had never been before.

The store certainly had its charm. It was quiet and the smell of books was overpowering, which Castiel thought added a cozy vibe to the place. He could easily visualize himself passing an entire day just browsing through the covers.

And yet, despite the store’s appeal, Castiel was confused as to why this was Sam’s favourite bookstore.

He had always been under the impression that Sam preferred the Bradbury Bookstore to any others as he visited the location on a weekly basis. It was, after all, situated within their neighborhood, unlike this one, and after further examination, Castiel also noticed that it was pricier there than at the Bradbury.

“Sam, why is this one your favourite bookstore? How did you find it anyways?”

“Oh, that,” he said, blushing. “Um, it’s a funny story…”

“Hi, Sam,” said someone next to them, out of nowhere.

Castiel, startled, turned around, and saw a beautiful blond girl, around Sam’s age, standing next to them. She looked familiar, but Castiel couldn’t quite place her.

“Hi, Jess,” said Sam.

Oooh. Jessica. Castiel then remembered how Dean had constantly teased Sam about Jessica for most of the summer the year or two before. Dean had pointed out to him, in a not-so-subtle way, who she was whenever they had come across her in town. But Castiel hadn’t officially met her yet.

“And hello! You’re Castiel, right?” she said to him.

“Right, sorry,” said Sam, “Cas, this is Jess, she’s in my year. Her parents own the shop. That’s how I know of it. And Jess, this is Cas, he’s a friend of the family and a book lover, too.”

“Hello, nice to meet you,” said Castiel.

“Same! And welcome! It’s always good to see new faces. And it’s nice to see you outside of school, Sam. It’s been a while since I’ve seen you here.”

Sam nodded, awkwardly. “School,” was all the explanation he gave.

Jessica smiled and stared at Sam for a moment. “I—Brady is working tonight. Feel free to ask for anything,” she said, pointing towards a blond guy who was busy unpacking books from boxes near the cash register. “It’s unfortunate that you just arrived, I was—I was about to leave. But I just wanted to say hi and hopefully I’ll catch you for a little longer next time.” She sounded sincere, and genuinely upset that she had to leave. She said goodbye to them both and disappeared behind the back room as quickly as she had appeared.

Once Jessica had gone, Castiel turned to Sam, lifting an eyebrow. Sam gestured Castiel to follow him to the front window of the shop, ensuring them additional privacy even though Jessica had already left.

“Yeah, so now you know how I heard of this place,” whispered Sam, blushing. “And you also know why I made a point of coming all the way over here. At first, anyways.”

“At first? Why at first?” Castiel cleared his throat. “Sam, you do realize that she likes you, right? I know there are a lot of things that go way above my head, especially where romantic relationships are concerned, but even didn’t miss this.”

Sam nodded. “I like her, too. I mean, I don’t don’t like her. It’s impossible to not like Jess.”

“Then what is the problem?”

Sam sighed and looked right ahead. “Like I said, she was the reason why I found out about the place and obviously why I visited a lot. At first.

Castiel observed Sam as he waited for a clarification. “Sam? What am I missing?”

Sam bit his lip. “You don’t realize where we are, do you?”

Castiel frowned and quickly glanced around, but came back to Sam still confused.

Sam looked down and cleared his throat. “Across the street. The shop. You recognize it?”

Castiel looked straight ahead where Sam had been looking at before.

Wait…

“That’s Loki’s Candy Shop. That’s where—”

“Gabriel used to work, yes,” said Sam. “It was totally random. I didn’t even know he worked there. I came here to visit Jess. I liked her. She was nice to me. I thought I should probably focus on someone who actually knew I existed instead of—anyway. But then one day, I saw him across the street, and it just all came back to me and I—after that I—”

“You didn’t come back for Jess…”

“That’s why I never bothered with anything with Jess, even though I like her a lot. I just thought it wouldn’t be fair to her, because on that day, it was pretty clear that there would always be someone else I would like even more.”

Castiel gasped. Just how deep is Sam’s infatuation with Gabe?

But he understood better than most. Castiel had also weighed between settling and waiting in the past when another opportunity had presented itself.

And while it had been a very different situation than Sam’s, for more than one reason, in the end, he always reminded himself that waiting had seem the more sensible option.

But he wondered at times if it had more to do with his lack of bravery than anything else.

The brave and sensible thing to do would have been to act on his feelings and tell Dean everything, like Sam kept repeating to him.

Castiel’s phone buzzed, and once he saw who was calling he smiled and lifted his phone to show Sam.

“I believe that’s what they call a sign,” he said and answered the phone.

“What are you doing?” asked Sam, anxiously.

“Hello, Gabe,” he said, ignoring Sam, “and before you say anything, I have a question for you: what are you doing right now?”

 

Within the next hour, Sam and Castiel were back at the Roadhouse Diner, cheerfully joined by Gabriel this time around. Gabriel was already seated in the same booth they had used that morning—the Novak’s booth, as Gabriel called it.

Once Castiel and Sam had shed their winter clothes, they gladly warmed themselves with hot cocoa already waiting for them.

“Thanks for meeting us, Gabe,” said Castiel, blowing on his mug. “Though I have to say, the diner, again?”

“I’m aware you guys were here this morning,” said Gabriel. “It’s as if I have trapped you in a time loop on this wonderful Tuesday.” He turned to Sam and winked at him. “My apologies, Sam.”

Sam smiled faintly, holding his breath.

“But I have been thinking of pancakes with strawberry syrup all day long, since you asked me for a lift this morning, Cas,” continued Gabriel. “So, really, you are both to blame for the choice of meeting place.”

Once Gabriel received his plate of pancakes (Sam and Castiel opted to stick to hot cocoa as not to spoil their dinner), the Novak brothers spent the next hour amusing Sam with crazy stories about their family, some of which had occurred in that very booth. Like the time Gabriel and Lucifer had an eating contest a few years back. “I won!” said Gabriel, proudly, to which Castiel felt the need to add, “It was a very disturbing thing to witness.” They told him of the time when Lucifer had mysteriously high-jacked all of Michael’s food and had managed to add weird ingredients to it, such as garlic in his waffles, and lemon and lime in his coffee. He even had added chili powder instead of cinnamon on his French toasts—which had been Gabriel’s favourite. They still, to this day, had no idea how he had succeeded at such an accomplishment.

Some of these stories seemed vaguely familiar to Sam. He figured it was probably because Dean had recounted a few of them to him over time. But most of the ones he heard that day, however, Sam had never heard of, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that he knew the legendary reputation of the Novak family, he would have thought them all lies.

After a little while, Gabriel decided to change the subject. “Cas, are you going to tell me?”

“Tell you what?”

“You know… Did you speak to a certain someone?”

Castiel froze, not entirely sure about whom Gabriel was referring to. Dean or Sam? “You’re going to have to be a little more specific.”

Gabriel sighed. “Can I know who it is, now?” he asked his brother.

Castiel opened his mouth, and then paused. Glad he wasn’t talking about Dean, his relief was short since Sam was sitting right next to him. Desperate to not expose him, he stayed focus on Gabriel, making sure not to look at Sam, and shook his head. “They asked to remain anonymous for now.” Gabriel sighed again. He twirled his fork between his fingers for a moment, and then quietly resigned himself to continuing to eat. Surprised that Gabriel gave up that easily, Castiel soon realized that he shouldn’t have counted his blessing too early.

“Also, I meant to ask,” said Gabriel, half chewing, “where’s Dean?”

Very subtle segue, Gabe.

And no, not Dean. I don’t want to talk about Dean.

“Dean is… Dean had other plans tonight,” said Castiel.

His brother nodded, but Castiel could distinguish a certain hint of disappointment. He could also feel Sam’s stare.

Wanting to change the subject, Castiel asked his brother where he would be staying that night.

“Boulder’s, probably. Wasn’t exactly my first choice, as you know, but he’s certainly not my last one either. And it’s only for tonight.”

“What about tomorrow?”

“Who knows? You know me, I can hardly stay in one place for too long, anyways,” he said, drinking a sip of his coffee.

“Right.”

“Which reminds me,” said Gabriel, “before I forget, I’m hosting a party this Saturday at Kali’s.”

You’re hosting at Kali’s?” asked Castiel. “Does she know this?” he added, nearly exasperated.

“Of course. It was her idea.”

Castiel remained unconvinced and made sure his face conveyed it as he squinted at him.

“Her parents are out of town,” explained Gabriel. “I suggested a party and she said yes.”

Castiel laughed. “You’re in need of a place to stay and Kali, of all people, finds herself on her own and what you suggest to do is to throw a party?”

“Obviously throwing a party wasn’t my initial suggestion, no.”

“Ah.”

“It might have been quite the opposite. Like a very private evening. No more than two.”

“Thought so.”

“For starters,” added Gabriel.

“God.”

“Evidently, the temptation was too high for her…” continued Gabriel, with a dramatic tone.

“Evidently.”

“…so I suggested another option: a party.”

“And she—she agreed?” said Sam.

“Yup. As long as I take care of everything. Which I’m all about.”

“She’s making you do everything?” snorted Castiel.

“She’s not making me do anything. I offered. I’ll have you know that I’m a giver, little brother.”

Castiel rolled his eyes. “Right, and the fact that it will give you a prime reason to be there on Saturday, like you wanted; and even perhaps a reason to stay over, also like you wanted, has nothing to do with it? Not to mention that I am sure it won’t get past you to remind her from time to time of that oh-so-generous act.”

“Oh, is it? I hadn’t really thought of it that way.”

“I can’t decide if that’s really impressive or just sad,” said Castiel to himself, sighing.

“Anyways,” continued Gabriel, smiling, “you guys have to come. Dean, too.”

“Gabe, no,” said Castiel.

“Yes, you have to.”

“I don’t have to do anything, actually.”

“Cas, come on!” pleaded his brother. “Sam,” he said, turning to him, “you’ll be there right? Help me out, here.”

“I’ll be there,” said Sam, without a moment of hesitation, which left Castiel astonished.

“Yay!” beamed Gabriel. “Cas, come on. Be like Sam, live a little.”

“Gabe, this isn’t really my scene.” He leaned back into his seat and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Little bro, you don’t have to do anything. You show up and you leave when you want. That’s it.” Castiel remained silent, so Gabriel decided to add on, “Lots of people will be there. Even probably your favourite ones,” chanted Gabriel. Castiel pursed his lips in a sign of small resentment for that last comment.

“I’m sure that Dean—he’ll want to be there,” said Sam, quickly.

Really, Sam? You’re bringing up Dean, now?

Gabriel’s smile brightened.

“You hear that, Cas? Dean is going to be there.”

These two are going to kill me.

“Fine,” he resigned himself to saying before the conversation took a turn he was desperate to avoid. Gabriel high-fived a startled Sam. “But,” Castiel pressed himself to say, “I’m leaving if it’s lame.”

“Lame?” said Gabriel, looking offended, as he put one hand over his heart. “I’m organizing the thing. It will be the very opposite of lame, thank you very much.”

Chapter Text

“I had a great time.”

“Me too.”

“Enough for another outing?” asked Lisa. Dean blinked, which made her laugh. “I know. Blunt of me.”

“No, no. I like it, actually. It’s better than being left constantly guessing.”

“I agree. So Friday night after your game is still okay?” she said, stepping a little closer. Their eyes met as she waited for him to say the words.

“It’s a date,” said Dean.

“It’s a date,” she repeated.

They stared at each other.

They were both standing on her porch after Dean had walked her to her door.

Kiss her.

Just do it.

Kiss her.

If there ever was a moment to lean in and kiss the girl, you dumbass, this is it.

And Dean stood still.

When it became clear that he wasn’t going to move, Lisa stepped in and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and retreated. “I’ll see you tomorrow at school. Good night, Dean.” She smiled faintly and opened her front door, but before she could disappear behind it, Dean called out her name.

She looked at him with hopeful eyes. Dean swallowed.

“I—I just wanted to say that—that I’m looking forward to Friday. And that I have the weekend off too. ”

“See you tomorrow, Dean,” she repeated with a beautiful smile.

Dean rushed back to his car, opened the door and sat down quietly for a moment, staring blankly in front of him.

What in the world was that?

What is wrong with you?

What the hell is going on with you today?

Focus during his football practice had been impossible. Thankfully, no one had noticed. Or at least, no one had commented on it. Dean thought he had caught Benny glancing at him a few times, but he if had had questions, he had kept them to himself.

His date hadn’t been a complete fiasco, but that was probably because Lisa was the most tolerant person to ever walk the earth, Dean concluded.

The burger joint turned out to be amazing. It had been crowded, thus not utterly awkward, but not too crowded, so they had been able to actually hear each other without having to scream over the noise. The food had been delicious and the casual ambiance of the place had lowered the pressure of the night, much to Dean’s relief. It even had pool tables and Dean had been thrilled to learn that Lisa not only liked pool, but she was also an excellent player.

The high points of the date had ended there. It was embarrassing enough that the rest of the night had consisted of poor Lisa initiating every topic of conversation and also carrying most of them herself, the truly awful part, however, had been Dean managing to pass on every single opportunity to make a move.

Every single one of them.

Including the most obvious one that had just occurred on her porch.

And there had been many others.

And Lisa had not been subtle about it either.

When she had hugged him.

When she had held his hand.

When she had swayed next to him.

When she had rested her head against him for a moment while the waitress brought them additional appetizers.

When she had let him help her out at the pool table, even though it was clear that she didn’t need any help at all.

When they had arrived at her house in his car.

Dean couldn’t figure out why he hadn’t acted on any of them. It wasn’t because he hadn’t wished to.

He had.

The usual signs were there. His heart was beating fast. His hands were sweaty. He stared at her constantly. And so on.

And yet, nothing.

Why she had suggested another date was a complete mystery to him, but Dean told himself, as he started the engine of his car, that he’d better get his brain back in function by Friday if he didn’t want to die of embarrassment.

 

Dean arrived at the Winchester’s Auto Repair Shop tired and preoccupied, but also glad that he was one step closer to finally put this weird day behind him.

The second he stepped into the shop, Dean could tell by his father’s expression that he was relieved help had arrived at last. After a few pointers on what needed to be done, father and son went to work, while listening and humming to classic rock playing in the background.

Dean loved working on cars, and he was hoping it would give him a proper distraction from the events of the day.

Unfortunately, this happened to be the night when his father suddenly turned loquacious.

“How was your date, son?”

“Fine. Great. We went for burgers. Played pool.”

“And?”

Dean frowned. He had to remind himself that this was his father speaking to him. There was no way he was asking for more details than that.

“And what?” asked Dean with an uncertain tone.

John laughed. “And are you going to see her again?”

Yeah, thought so.

And, thank God.

“Yes. We made plans for Friday after the game. Maybe even the weekend.”

“Good. That’s good,” he said, and after a significant pause, he added, “and it’s a good thing you’ll have the weekend off, then.” Dean knew he meant it, and yet, he could have sworn there was a small hint of falseness in his father’s voice. “It all works out in the end it seems.”

Dean decided that he was just too exhausted of this weird-ass day and shouldn’t think too much on it, and continued working.

As promised, an hour later John called it a night, thanked Dean for his help and both Winchesters left in their respective cars.

When they arrived home, Mary was sitting at the kitchen table, overseeing some paper work. She welcomed them back home with a smile. John kissed her and sat next to her while asking about her day.

“Usual. Nothing to report.”

Dean scanned the place and was stunned to see no sign of Castiel or Sam anywhere.

“They are already down for the night, Dean,” said Mary, noticing his confusion. “They were on low energy for the rest of the evening after we had dinner.” She turned to John. “We had Chinese food from that place you like,” she said, poking him on his chest.

John stirred in his seat. “Is there any left?” Mary nodded, smiling. “I made sure there would be some of those noodles you love so much,” she said, quickly running her fingers through his hair. 

John chuckled. “I knew I married the right one,” said John kissing her hand. “See that, Dean? Gotta find someone who cares about your stomach. If they care about that, they care about you.” John left the table and went towards the fridge.

“Sam and Cas are really already asleep?”

Mary nodded. “Yes. They went to bed about an hour ago. They were both half dozing off in the living room for a good hour before that.”

Dean sighed. “Okay.  Well, I guess I’ll get myself ready for bed soon. I have a bit of homework to finish before, but it won’t be long and I’ll make sure to not wake them when I go downstairs. They must have set up everything already, at least?”

Mary looked up from her papers. “Oh, no, Dean. They aren’t downstairs. They are in Sam’s room.”

They what?

“They what?” Dean stared at his mother like she had said something incredibly blasphemous and then turned to his father for validation of his outrage.

“How come the boys aren’t downstairs, darling?” asked John, slurping noodles.

“There is no room in the basement at the moment,” she said. “Remember, we agreed to let Devereaux use it for storage. His boxes arrived today and it’s quite something. We’ll have make room because I couldn’t even reach the washing machine once all the boxes were in.”

“Okay, but Sam’s room? I mean, Cas is m—” Dean stopped himself before the word came out of his mouth, but he knew it didn’t take a genius to figure out what he had been about to say.

Cas is my friend.

And there is it again. Possessiveness.

For some reason, Dean insisted on not looking directly at his father. He could see him from the corner of his eye, having suddenly stopped eating his noodles.

“What I mean,” said Dean, trying to regain his dignity, “is why is he in Sam’s room? Why not my room? Was it Cas’ idea?”

Shit. He shouldn’t have asked that last part, but it came out before he could stop himself.

Mary studied her son for a moment. It didn’t last long, and even though her expression remained the same, Dean still felt uncomfortable under Mary’s assessment of him. “Actually, it was my idea, Dean,” she finally said.

Dean hadn’t expected that.

“What? How come?”

“It’s winter. It’s cold. We let you boys sleep downstairs only on special occasions and because you make use of the fireplace. But upstairs? I didn’t have the heart to make Castiel sleep on the floor in the dead of winter. Even with a good spare mattress and an excessive amount of blankets. One night, for a last minute arrangement, perhaps, but we already know he’ll be here for longer than that. Besides, Sam still has the bunk beds in his room. It just seemed silly to me making him sleep on the floor when there was a perfectly comfortable and warm bed for him to use. It’s just for sleeping, and who cares where that is? Neither Castiel nor Sam were bothered with this idea.” 

So why are you, Dean?

Why are you?

 

As for Sam and Castiel, the rest of their evening had been rather uneventful after meeting with Gabriel. He had insisted on dropping them off himself at the Winchester’s home where they were both greeted by a cheerful Mary.

Dinnertime had been overall pleasant, but the absence of the other half of the Winchester family had been quite evident.

Sam had felt a bit of resentment towards his brother as he caught sight of Castiel glancing with sad eyes at the empty spot where Dean usually sat.

And if Sam didn’t know any better, given the way Mary had doted on Castiel the entire night, he’d think that his mother had felt the same.

But then again, maybe that had simply been a mom thing to do.

She had insisted he had at least three helpings of food, she had asked him questions about the books he had recently read, and she had even hugged him along with Sam after their meal.

They only learned about the unexpected sleeping arrangement later in the evening, when Mary stopped them as they had started going down the stairs. Hoping she was exaggerating, Sam stated that they could make it work anyway, but after a glimpse at the basement both Sam and Castiel admitted defeat on that option.

Thus, as sleepiness sneaked in on them, and knowing Dean wouldn’t arrive any time soon, Castiel and Sam made their way to Sam’s room, where they rested quietly in their respective bunk beds with a vague aura of awkwardness roaming around.

Castiel stared at the ceiling from the top bunk, trying not to think about what Dean was possibly doing in that moment, while Sam shifted from one side to the other every five minutes.

“Thanks for calling Gabriel, today,” said Sam, wanting to kill the silence. “I was the one trying to cheer you up and then you do this.”

"Technically, I didn't call him. He called me."

"You know what I mean. Thank you."

“No problem. Though I feel bad it didn’t turn out better.”

“Why? It was great. We had fun. We laughed. I actually interacted with him. He invited us to a party.”

“Yes, a party,” sighed Castiel. He shut his eyes for a moment, biting the inside of his cheek. He didn’t wish to dwell on that part too much, but then added, “At Kali’s. I’m sorry. Doesn’t feel promising.”

“You can’t see it like that. It’s further than where I was when the day started.”

Castiel took a moment to process this. “You’re really a positive person, Sam. You know that?”

“I try. You should, too. About Dean.”

Castiel turned to his side. “I don’t want to be disappointed, and I feel like I will be.” He pulled up his covers all the way to his chin and turned on his back, again, letting out a sigh.

“God, you are so stubborn about this.”

“Realistic is more the word I would use,” said Castiel.

“Cas, be honest right now, okay? If Dean told you he felt the same, you wouldn’t run, right?”

“No, I wouldn’t.”

“Promise me that you won’t get discouraged about Dean then,” said Sam after a moment.

Castiel stayed silent.

“Cas? You have to promise. I’m rooting for you. I have your back. Now, promise.”

“Fine. I promise.” An uncomfortable silence was filling the room so Castiel continued speaking. “How do you think Dean will feel about this sleeping arrangement?”

“He won’t be happy about it,” said Sam, smiling. “He’ll be rethinking why he didn’t have the bunk beds, that’s for sure.”

“I doubt that very much.”

Sam shook his head. “You still don’t believe me, Cas? That Dean likes you? He never shuts up about you. Never.”

“We’re friends. That’s not unusual.”

“Not the way Dean does it. You can’t know, but when you’re not here, it’s always ‘Cas said,’ or ‘the other day with Cas,’ to ‘I can’t wait to tell Cas this.’ It’s so obvious.”

“I don’t think it is. Obvious. In any case, not to me. How could it be? The moment I think it might be true, something happens proving the opposite. It’s what always happens. It’s what’s happening right now. Then I simply tell myself it’s because I wanted to see it that way.”

“You aren’t imagining things, Cas. I see it. Dean is reacting to you. He’s keeping track of what’s going on with you.”

“Sam, I’m literally living in his house and I barely saw him today. I think he’s far too busy with everything else to notice anything.”

Sam had to smile to that. “You miss him.”

Castiel was about to deny it, but he realized in that moment that, yes, he did miss Dean.

How is this possible?

I see him every day.

How could I miss him?

Has it always been like this or is this feeling amplified because I’m in his house when Dean’s nowhere to be seen? 

“Are you making fun of me? Am I sad? Am I a sad person?”

“No. Not at all. I like it. I think you’re adorable.”

“Now I know you’re making fun of me.” Sam laughed. “Be that as it may,” continued Castiel, changing the subject, “I’m glad you enjoyed this afternoon with Gabe despite his fugacious nature. Hopefully you won’t get too dissuaded by it.”

“Cas,” said Sam, grinning, “I learned that Gabriel is a giver. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Ew, gross. Good night, Sam,” said Castiel, turning to his side, ready to end the conversation there, as Sam was roaring with laughter.

“Night, Cas.”

 

After saying good night to his parents, Dean hurried down the hallway to his bedroom. He paused, however, when he passed Sam’s room. The door wasn’t completely shut, but far too much for him to discern anything. Against his better judgment, he lingered a little and listened. But he heard nothing.

It seemed like they were both really sleeping as his mother had said.

Was this better than what he suspected?

What did he think he would have heard?

Dean was upset.

And he was upset that he was upset.

He was fully aware that he was being irrational, but in that moment, he was anxious about the fact that his friend was residing under his roof and that he hadn’t been able to spend one minute with him.

Exhausted of his day, Dean decided that catching some sleep right away and finishing his homework the next morning before his run would be more sensible than attempting anything in his current state.

After his usual bedtime routine, which he executed with a clenched jaw and deep sighs the entire time, he went to bed hoping to finally rest.

This proved to be preposterous as his mind was exhausted and it kept jumping from one thing to another.

Lisa. Cas. Lisa. Cas. Lisa. Cas. Cas. Cas.

Cas.

Cas.

Cas in the other room.

Cas. And Sam. Cas AND Sam.

Cas and Sam in the other room.

Cas and Sam in the other room together.

Fuck.

What the hell.

Shut up, brain!

Twisting and turning vigorously in his bed, Dean was trying to rationalize everything and seek a solution.

I’m just upset because I feel guilty about being a bad friend right now.

Okay.

I’m upset because it’s always awesome when Cas stays over and things got in the way this time, that’s all.

Things? Lisa is not a thing.

Okay, no, I mean things, like the schedule is crazy.

Too busy for Cas?

STOP. That’s not what I mean.

It’s okay. It happens. I’m sure he understands. But you know who isn’t too busy for Cas?

Don’t.

SAM.

Son of a bitch. I said shut up!

With great frustration, Dean turned on his side once more, repositioned his pillow and took a deep breath.

Maybe we could switch the sleeping arrangement tomorrow?

That’s an idea. And it doesn’t feel capricious AT ALL. Makes total sense.

AND I’ll make a point of spending time with Cas.

Yes, Cas and Sam.

It can just be the two of us.

Sam lives here, too. And chances are, he will be here tomorrow longer than you will.

Fuck. Okay, at school then.

Sam is still there. And so is Lisa.

Fuck. Fine, it will be with other people. Whatever.

Yes. Nice lunch. You and Lisa. And Cas and Sam. Like a double date.

IT WILL NOT. What the fuck, why do you say it like that?

How else would I say it? What’s the problem?

FUCKING EVERYTHING, THAT’S WHAT.

Dean was ready to burst when he heard movement in the hallway, and then the bathroom door shut.

He froze and held his breath, listening.

What if it’s Cas?

Before he knew it, he left his warm bed and went into the hallway.

Sam’s door was still slightly open with no sound coming out of it, thus leaving no way of knowing who was in the bathroom.

Dean waited by his bedroom doorway.

He heard the toilet flush and the water running.

The door opened and Sam walked out.

“Dean, you’re here!” Startled by Dean’s presence, he stepped back. “You scared me.”

“Hi. Sorry, I thought you might have been Cas.”

“No,” he whispered, “Cas is asleep. Out like a log.”

Yeah.

In your room.

Dean couldn’t see with certainty because the hallway wasn’t properly lit, but he thought he had seen a smile at the corner of Sam’s mouth, as if he had read Dean’s thoughts.

“Well, night, Dean. See you, tomorrow.”

“Yeah. Night.”

Dean watched Sam entering his room. He shut his door properly this time, leaving Dean alone in the hallway.

Dean pursed his lips and returned to his bed.

He could hear Sam settling back in his bed, as well, on the other side of the wall.

And then, nothing.

Silence.

Dean shut his eyes, took a deep breath, trying to clear his mind, and waited for sleep.

And then he heard it.

Laughter.

Sam was laughing.

Castiel was laughing.

Talking. Talking and laughing.

OUT LIKE A LOG, HUH?

What are they doing?

You sure you want to know?

Absolutely fucking not.

Chapter Text

On the next day, Dean failed to get a peep out of Castiel or Sam until the lunch hour, to his very great annoyance.

After he had finished his homework early in the morning, he had been tempted to skip his ritual run in the hope of spending time with Castiel before school. He had abandoned that idea and pursued with his good habit, however, when he had realized that John was already up and about in the kitchen. He knew his father would have found it odd and seen right through whichever excuses, valid or not, Dean would have had to blurt out.

So Dean had opted to avoid this outcome, and he had carried on with another slow, frustrating morning.

His situation had not improved once he had reach his table at lunchtime: Lisa was there waiting for him with an unexpected request.

“Hey, Dean!” she said, standing up and stepping closer to him.

“Hi, Lisa,” he said, holding his tray awkwardly. “Hi guys.” He glared at Sam and Castiel. So nice to see you not fake sleeping.

“Hey.”

“Hello, Dean.”

An awkward silence made its presence known.

“Um, Lisa, are you joining us today?” asked Dean, ignoring the echo screaming “Double date!” in his head.

“Oh, no. Not today,” she said. “Actually, I was asking Sam and Cas if it would be okay to steal you again for lunch today. Don’t freak out, but some of my friends want to officially meet you. They are very protective. Mind you, at times, some would call it nosy.” She nodded towards her table, a few rows behind.

Dean turned and saw a bunch of girls waving at them.

“I know it’s a lot,” said Lisa apologetically. “But like I said, protective.”

The day before, when Dean had joined Lisa to her table, it had nearly been empty and the few people still present had been very nice about giving them some privacy.

But it doesn’t seem like it will be the case this time.

Helpless about what to do, Dean turned towards Sam and Castiel.

“We’re good, Dean. Go ahead,” said Sam.

Castiel nodded and smiled at him without uttering a word.

“Okay, then,” said Dean. But he stayed put. He remained grounded, still looking at Castiel.

Just say it.

Tell me to stay.

“I’ll see you in class, Dean,” he said, with a clear and steady voice, after waving at him.

 

“Well, this is weird as hell,” whispered Sam as Dean was walking away with Lisa. “He’s so clueless,” he continued. “I feel like I have to apologize for him.”

“No need to apologize. It is what it is.”

“You do realize that Dean didn’t want to leave, right?”

“He didn’t want to stay either, otherwise he would be sitting here.”

“Do you need a hug?”

Castiel laughed. “No, thank you. I’m fine.”

“I’m not kidding. I mean, it would be kinda weird, but I will hug the hell out of you right now. Come on, I’ll make sure Dean will see,” said Sam, shifting in his seat.

“Tempting, but I’m okay.” He laughed, helping himself to some fries.

Sam sighed. “I can’t believe Dean.” Castiel pushed the plate of fries towards Sam. “I was almost looking forward to his inquisition about the sleeping arrangement. I just want Dean to freak out like he’s trying so damn hard not to, and to finally just get over himself and confess everything.” He sighed, again. “Need me to hold your hand?”

“Sam.”

“Fine.”

As they carried on with their conversation, Gabriel showed up at their table a good twenty minutes later.

“Are those the fries I asked you to get for me?” he asked in an accusatory tone.

“You snooze, you lose,” said his brother, urgently shoving a few fries in his mouth.

“Getting rough in your old age, aren’t you, Cas? Which reminds me, little brother, you need to tell me,” said Gabriel, pulling the plate towards him.

“Tell you what?”

“Who my secret admirer is.”

Castiel stayed emotionless with his eyes on Gabriel. “I’m not telling you.”

“Cas, just tell me, please!” He put his hands together, pleading with him, but Castiel continued eating his fries. “Ugh…Who are you friends with?” he asked with a quick glance around the cafeteria. “Is it that girl…What’s her name…Hannah?” tried Gabriel.

Castiel smirked as a thought occurred to him. “One, I said I know of someone. I never said I was friends with them,” he specified, wanting to have a bit of fun. “Two, you think it’s Hannah? No, it’s not Hannah.”

Despite having his hypothesis turned down, Gabriel was then on the edge of his seat and looked very happy. “Wait, so if I guess who it is, you’ll tell me?”

“No.”

“Sadist. Just tell me!” Gabriel chewed on a fry in frustration and turned to Sam. “Do you know who it is?”

“I—I…don’t know what this is ab—”

“Hester? Gadreel? Samandriel? Rachel?” said Gabriel, turning back to Castiel. Sam’s heart nearly stopped when Gabriel had started pronouncing Samandriel. “Or that guy Kip? On second thought, don’t tell me it’s Kip.”

“Eat your fries, Gabe,” was all Castiel said.

 

Lisa’s friends were all very kind and welcoming the moment Dean sat down at their table. They immediately asked many questions, but they weren’t grilling Dean. They were very accepting of him.

All but one. The petite brunette named Amelia.

She wasn’t mean or anything. She didn’t put him on the spot. She wasn’t rude. She wasn’t looking at him like she wanted to kill him either—a superpower that Dean believed girls had sometimes (although, if he was honest with himself, guys also had that effect). But no, Amelia did none of that.

But, by the way she was studying him, while remaining extra quiet when everybody else was eager to voice their questions, Dean could tell that she hadn’t bought her ticket for the “Dean is awesome” train yet.

She scowled at him like she didn’t trust anything that came out of his mouth.

As if there were plot holes in his answers.

As if he was hiding something.

And that she would find out what it was.

In other words, she was skeptical as fuck.

And Dean couldn’t help but think that she had a really good reason to be.

After a significant amount of questions about him and his family—one of them even inquired about Sam’s relationship status—Lisa finally said enough, and she and Dean were able to separate from the group to be on their own, a little further down that same table. The lunch hour had moved on and it had brought along with it the decrease of the crowd in the cafeteria. This fact, paired with Dean no longer being intensively and stressfully occupied by Lisa’s friends, gave Dean a prime view on what was going on back at his table.

Sam and Castiel were still present. Still seated at their table. Still talking. And laughing. And Castiel was laughing a lot.

And they were still eating. And God help him, did Sam just dip a fry into Castiel’s ketchup? From his plate?

Wait what?

Sam is eating fries?

Holy shit. No. No, no.

He’s not just eating fries.

They are sharing a plate of fries.

What?

Was that there before and I just didn’t see it?

Or they totally finished their respective meal and went to buy fries. For the both of them. To eat.

TOGETHER.

I’m—

“Dean?”

Fuck.

“You okay?” said Lisa, smiling.

Stop doing that. Lisa. You’re with Lisa. Focus, you idiot.

“Yes, I’m sorry. I’m…it’s been a weird couple of days.”

“Yes. Um, did you hear what I said?”

Dean bit his lip, and then shook his head.

“I said I had fun last night.”

“Oh, yes. Me too,” he said, turning all his attention towards her.

“You did?”

“Yes, of course. I liked it a lot.” Even though I probably acted otherwise.

“Okay. My friends didn’t massively scare you away, then? Still on for Friday?”

“Absolutely,” he said, giving her one of his biggest smiles. He slid his hand on the table towards hers and squeezed it, in hopes of reassuring her. “Where would you like to go after the game? Any other hidden gem restaurants you know about, because that was pretty perfect.”

“No, that’s the only one I know, I’m afraid,” she said. “What about you?”

“Um, let’s see…” Pondering on her question, Dean glimpsed at his table.

Their hands.

For half a crazy second, Dean thought Sam and Castiel were holding hands.

They weren’t.

No. Of course not. Why the fuck would they hold hands?

They are sitting pretty close.

Next to each other.

Their shoulders are touching.

Okay.

Their shoulders are touching.

Why?

Why is this a thing?

And why is this not a thing?

What?

Nothing. What is happening here?

Lisa started talking again. He was listening to Lisa. He really was. She was saying something about her mom’s shop. But he was also paying very close attention at what the fuck was going on with Sam and Castiel.

Then, Gabriel suddenly arrived at their table. Dean evidently couldn’t hear their conversation, but he thought that Sam and Castiel seemed surprised to see Gabriel there.

They look weird. Like nervous. Uncomfortable. Sam, why are you making that guilty face? And Cas, did you just subtlety moved away from Sam just now?

WHAT THE FUCK?

You did, didn’t you?

You just purposely and physically distanced yourself from Sam. Your stupid shoulders aren’t touching anymore.

And Sam, no fries anymore?

Yeah, you eat some of those fries Gabe. You show the—

“DEAN.”

Fuck.

Dean froze. Lisa was looking directly at him like before, but she wasn’t smiling anymore. Her friends at the end of the table were looking at him too.

Especially that brunette Amelia. Shit.

Everybody went back to their business eventually, and Lisa whispered to him, “What’s wrong?”

“I’m so sorry, Lisa. I have zero focus this week. I didn’t sleep well at all yesterday.”

She nodded. “Do you want to take a walk? Get out of here for a moment?”

Dean couldn’t decide if he was relieved or worried to leave the cafeteria. He purposely didn’t look in Castiel and Sam’s direction out of fear of spacing out again.

Lisa dragged Dean to a semi-empty hallway and stopped dead.

“Dean, what’s wrong? Is this…is it me?” she said calmly.

“What? No. You’re…perfect. I’m just…” You are what, Dean? He sighed. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me this week. And I can’t believe I’m messing this up,” he said, gesturing at them both.

Lisa stepped in closer. “You are not messing anything up.” She stepped closer again. “So far,” she added, teasing him. The point of their shoes touched, and she held his hands. “But you are acting strange, which makes me question if that’s really what you want.”

“It is. I…I know it might not seem like it, but I really enjoyed last night. And not to sound pathetic, but going out with you, I’ve wanted this for a really long time.”

“Okay, what is the problem, then? I know you said that you’re tired and you haven’t slept well, but I feel like there’s probably more to the story than that.”

Dean held his breath and remained silent, as he had no idea what to say.

“I just want to help you. If I can,” she said in the most genuine voice.

Dean swallowed. “I just…I have a lot on my mind this week. School. Work. Family stuff. And…” Dean didn’t know how to finish his sentence. He didn’t want to lie, but at the same time he knew there were certain things that he couldn’t say out loud, not to himself, even less to Lisa.

Too many things to process all at once and Castiel was at the center of it all.

His biggest annoyance was that he just wanted five minutes where he could sit down and reflect on everything without the world constantly throwing him plot developments before he’d even had time to figure out the last three. He needed time to digest certain information before drawing the wrong conclusion and realize he was freaking out for nothing.

Castiel was typically the person who helped Dean making sense of things whenever he would get overwhelmed with life. And now, ironically, he was the one person who definitely couldn’t weigh in on this problem.

How did this happen?

And what was he going to do?

“Dean?”

“Okay, the main thing is,” he finally said, resolute to not lie, while making sure to not get ahead of himself either, “I’ve been weird because Cas had to stay at my house. I can’t tell you why, it’s personal, and please,” he said, in a very serious tone, “keep this to yourself. I don’t think Cas would mind, but it’s still personal. To him. I don’t want people to just—anyways, I feel guilty because I haven’t seen much of him so far. I’m supposed to cheer him up and distract him from…stuff, but I haven’t been able to because of everything, like school, work and all—”

“And me,” said Lisa, nodding.

“No, I—see that’s another reason why I didn’t want to say anything. I knew the moment I’d say that it would sound like—I don’t want you to think you aren’t a priority or that this whole thing is bad timing. This is about me really sucking at handling everything all at once.”

Lisa took a very long time to let sink in what Dean had told her.

“So you’re just worried about being a bad friend. This isn’t about you having doubts about being with me?”

Dean knew he needed to do something to reassure her, so he slowly leaned in and kissed her on the lips. It wasn’t the knock out kiss he had hoped their first kiss would have been, far from it, but at least it wasn’t the awkward, polite kiss on the cheek he had gotten the night before either.

He rested his forehead on hers. “I want this.”

“Okay,” she said, and Lisa kissed him again.

They were shortly interrupted by the sound of the bell, which made them break apart. Knowing that they were both heading for the same class, Dean suggested accompanying Lisa to her locker, and a quick stop at his, before going to English together. Following Lisa to class, Dean walked numbly through the crowd.

Nice. You finally have the girl you always wanted and all you do is lie.

No, everything I just said is the truth. I am struggling about not being there for Cas and I do like Lisa and want to be with her.

Do you really? That’s the truth?

Yes. This is the truth.

Is this the whole truth, though? Or is it just what you think you want?

I…I…

You’re a piece of shit, Dean Winchester.

Chapter Text

Sam was studying in the library after lunch. His teacher had announced that everyone would be allowed to take this class to work on their group presentation, which was due in a few weeks. She had also given them permission to work elsewhere than their usual classroom, as it might get rather loud, so long as they dutifully used this time and didn’t waste it.

Sam’s group, however, had already finished preparing their presentation. They had a clear outline, the entire presentation typed and triple checked for typos, and they even had held rehearsals multiple times. They were ready. This was one of the perks of teaming up with Kevin and his girlfriend, Channing. They were over achievers, and things got done, and done quickly.

Thus, Sam opted to spend his time at the library to get rid of his other homework, and out of habit he installed himself at the same table where he and Castiel usually sat.

About half way through his Spanish homework, his focus was broken due to some commotion at the other end of the library.

Near the Science section, there stood Gabriel, speaking vividly with the librarian.

“That is a fascinating story, young man. However, none of this explains why you were hiding and eating food—candy bars, no less—in the library. What are you doing here? Classes are in sessions.” Gabriel opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, she added, “And Mr. Novak, before you tell me you have a free period, you very well know that I have a copy of your schedule as you’ve used this excuse one too many times. I know for a fact that you should be in History. So I ask again, what are you doing here?”

“Tutoring me,” said Sam, jumping in. During the librarian’s speech he’d left his seat and walked slowly towards them. The librarian turned to Sam and studied him with her arms crossed over her chest. “It was the only time that—um, that we could meet,” he added. “I’ve been wa—waiting for you.”

If Gabriel was surprised, he didn’t let it show.

“My bad,” said Gabriel, “I thought we had agreed to meet here in the—,” Gabriel glanced around briefly, “in the Science section. Where they have the science books that we need.” He picked up two books at random. “But you’re here now.”

They both glanced at the librarian.

She didn’t look impressed. Or convinced. And it wasn’t very surprising as their story made no sense whatsoever.

Without any further ado, Gabriel followed Sam back to his table, away from the skeptical librarian.

“Quick thinking on your part, there, Sam,” said Gabriel, taking a seat next to him.

“No problem,” he mumbled.

“But now, I’m afraid you have to suffer my company, otherwise that old toad will get on our case if I leave.”

Sam shrugged.

Gabriel pushed his chair closer to Sam’s and picked up some of his books to help maintain their cover story when he noticed the librarian was observing them. Sam was painfully aware of Gabriel’s proximity. He could smell his fruity shampoo and a hint of something else that Sam couldn’t quite identify. Whatever it was, it was sweet.

As Gabriel was skimming through one of Sam’s textbook, his arm was practically touching Sam’s. Gabriel pushed the book away, picked up another of Sam’s books, examined it, and changed again. “Wow,” he said, looking closely at the pile of advanced textbooks resting on the table. “You’re like, very smart. Pretty sure tutoring would be pointless.”

“I do okay,” answered Sam, making sure to keep his eyes on his book. He could feel blood starting to rush to his cheeks. Keep your shit together. Stay cool.

“So what are you doing out of class?”

“Group project,” he said. “But we’re done.” Sam wasn’t sure if that explained anything, but it was all he could say about it in that moment.

“Like I said, smart.” Sam smiled quickly and shifted in his seat. “Sam?” said Gabriel, leaning in closely to Sam’s ear. So closely, in fact, that he could feel Gabriel’s breath on his neck. “You’re not going to ask me what I was doing here?”

“Um, I—wha—,” he cleared his throat. “What were you doing? Here?”

Gabriel leaned back to his initial position. “Honestly? I was napping.”

Sam turned to Gabriel, frowning.

“She wasn’t lying. I am supposed to be in History right now, and that always puts me right to sleep. So, instead of getting myself in trouble in class, I figured I’d skip the middle part for once.”

Sam gave him a nod, wondering if any of what he had just said was true, and tried his best to appear as if he was focused on his notebook instead of how Gabriel’s arm rested against his, while he was still examining Sam’s textbook.

Sam tried his best to focus on his homework and Gabriel stayed beside him, letting him work in silence. Nothing much changed for a while, until Gabriel pushed back the book he was skimming through, and got serious for a moment. “So, Sam Winchester, you saved me. What can I do to repay you this debt?”

“…was nothing.”

“No it wasn’t. It is not everyday where I’m proven chivalry isn’t dead. I owe you one.”

“If you owe me something then I don’t think you can call this chivalry anymore,” pointed out Sam, not believing he had said a clear and witty full sentence.

Gabriel sat back and took a good, long look at Sam. A little too long. So much that if Gabriel didn’t stop, Sam was going to start blushing soon.

“I see. Well, then, in lieu of calling it ‘owing,’ may I suggest that in return, I come to your assistance to underline this new found friendship?”

Sam lifted an eyebrow.

“That better?” asked Gabriel. “Come on, anything.”

There was a great many things that came to Sam’s mind that he could ask Gabriel. Some were even, to Sam’s near distress, rather inappropriate. No one would ever be allowed to label this under “act of chivalry.”

“Sam, not to make you uncomfortable, but you know you’re blushing, right?”

Sam cleared his throat. Not knowing what to say, he was very grateful that his phone buzzed at that moment. He looked at it promptly and saw it was a text message from Dean. Sam frowned. Dean was supposedly in the middle of his English class with Castiel. What was he doing texting him?

 

Dean: I didn’t get the time to tell you at lunch, but I’m still giving you and Cas a lift back home after school before I go to work.

Dean: Wait for me. DON’T TAKE THE BUS.

 

Sam chuckled. Can’t wait to hear what’s going on in English, guys.

“Someone sent you a nude?”

“What?” Sam put his phone away. “Ew, no. Tha—that’s Dean.”

“Ah. Everything okay?”

“Well, it’s Dean,” he gave him for explanation. He then thought of something, and said, “Gabriel, I do have a favor to ask.”

 

When Dean and Lisa arrived in class, Castiel was already seated in his usual seat. Lisa and Dean took their respective seats which the teacher had allowed them to pick at the beginning of the school year.

Castiel smiled at Dean once he sat down in the next row.

“Hey, Cas,” said Dean. “Slept well? Heard you were out like a log,” he added before he could help himself.

“What?” asked Castiel, puzzled.

“Nothing.”

After twenty minutes of theory, the teacher gave them an assignment for the rest of the class and announced that they should work in pairs, starting immediately.

Dean gripped the side of his desk, ready to push it against Castiel’s since they always paired up at school. Or at anything in life, really.

But to Dean’s surprise, Castiel was already helping Benny settle at his desk.

What the what now?

Dean could not believe what he was seeing.

We always work together.

No matter what.

Since when are we not working together?

Benny stopped everything he was doing feeling Dean’s stare on them.

“Cas?” said Dean, half laughing, half in shock.

Cas turned to him, completely unaware that Dean had been waiting for him.

“Oh, sorry Dean,” he said. “I already asked Benny. I was here really early, and the teacher announced to those of us already present that we would be working in pairs for most of the class today.”

And you asked Benny because? Seeing Dean’s confused expression still on his face, he then added, “I assumed you’d want to work with Lisa.” His eyes rested on something not far behind Dean.

Dean pursed his lips, and he knew, of course, even before he turned around, that Lisa was probably waiting for him to confirm that they were indeed working together, which made him feel even worst than he was already feeling in that moment.

Dean had no clue whatsoever what his face must have looked like, but he was boiling inside. Once again, he was mad. He was mad at the situation and most of all, he was mad at himself.

For fear of explosion, Dean bit his inside cheek, nodded frantically, and started clearing his desk to make room for Lisa, once he nodded in her direction.

Will I ever be able to have a fucking conversation alone with my friend?

The rest of the class was a fucking nightmare. Thank goodness Lisa was a very studious student and kept Dean on track with what needed to be done with the assignment, otherwise Dean would have had simply gawked at Castiel the entire class.

And he still did that, numerous times.

Certainly more times than he would like to admit.

Dean wasn’t sure he liked what he was seeing.

They look like they’re both working, at least.

They aren’t very serious, however.

He looks like he’s having fun.

But not as how much as he looked like these past few days with Sam.

Which is not helping, either.

Dean needed to do something and do something fast. He pulled out his phone from under his desk. His teacher was busy talking to some of the students at the front, so he did what he had to do quickly. He sent a text to Sam to confirm that they’d get a ride home after school, so he’d at least be with them during that time.

He didn’t get an immediate reply from Sam, which was perfectly sensible, as Sam would never use his phone in the middle of a class. Lisa and Dean continued with their assignment, and by some miracle and lot of patience from Lisa, they managed to finish it all before the end of class.

Lisa said goodbye to Dean, but before leaving, she made him promise he would text her later that night to let her know how he was doing.

Dean promised.

In silence, Dean and Castiel exited the classroom. Dean, thinking he finally had a moment alone with his friend, was not happy to see that Sam waiting for them in the hallway.

“Sam?” said Castiel. “What are you doing here?”

You couldn’t have waited five fucking minutes? “Did you see my text?” asked Dean, trying to hold down his frustration.

“Yes, I did. That’s why—well, partly why—I’m here. Good news, you don’t need to give Cas and me a lift. Got one.”

Good news? “What? What do you mean? How?”

Sam frowned at Dean’s near outrage. “Are you mad?”

Fuck, yes, I’m mad.“No,” he said, clenching his jaw.

“Dean, bringing us home would be a massive detour for you. And the faster you arrive for work, the faster you can come back home, right?” said Sam.

Fuck Sam and his sense-making thoughts. “Right.”

“Okay, cool. See you at home,” said Sam. He then passed Dean, grabbed Castiel by his wrist, pulling him literally away from Dean, like it was the most natural thing to do and said, “Cas, I need to talk to you.”

Dean heard a quick “Bye, see you later,” from Castiel, and watched him trotting away with Sam down the hallway.

And he did not once looked back at Dean, leaving him all alone.

Chapter Text

By the time he arrived at work, Dean was still riled up about what he had witnessed at school.  Many upsetting and nonsensical things had happened in the last few days, but seeing Sam walking off with Castiel, taking him away from him and Castiel letting him, had been difficult.

It hadn’t just bugged him. This had hurt him, and Dean was officially having a shit day because of it.

He admitted that not everything had been bad. Lisa, for instance.

And yet, he couldn’t get rid of that awful feeling—that horrid pit in his stomach—that kissing her should have felt better than it had.

Which made everything worse.

And now, Dean tried his best to focus on the task at hand and ignore everything boiling inside him. But this proved to be problematic with his father working right beside him. He wasn’t commenting on it, but Dean knew that his father was aware he wasn’t in his normal state of mind.

And like Dean, John kept working silently.

But not because he was ignoring him. Quite the opposite, actually.

Dean knew this was John’s attempt to give him his space in the hope that it would allow him to simply say once and for all what the hell his problem was, instead of having to extract the information from him.

But no, Dean was not going to do that. He was not going to say anything. Because there was no problem anyway. So there.

He just had had a really long day. And bad sleep from the night before. He was just too tired. He was seeing things. He was being irrational.

So Dean carried on and worked in silence. He huffed and puffed in frustration a few times too. He ate his dinner in silence. He did not hum to the music playing in the background.  He only answered John’s questions with monosyllabic words, when he bothered answering at all.

And what he wasn’t doing, above all else, was thinking about Castiel. Or anything related to him.

Nope. Not that. Not him.

Absolutely not.

I am not.

“Dean!”

Dean dropped whatever it was he was holding onto the floor.

John picked it up before Dean could get it himself.

“Thanks,” he said, taking the wrench back. “Sorry.”

“It’s all right. But I think you should head home.”

“What? No, Dad, I said I’d help you.”

“You have Dean. You have. There isn’t much left to do for tonight. Besides, I think you’ve had enough today. Go, home.”

“But, no—”

“Dean,” said John, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Go home, son.”

 

At the Winchesters’ house, Sam and Castiel had had the pleasure once more of a quiet dinner with Mary. They had finished all their homework of the day before dinner was ready, which had made Mary very happy because she then hadn’t felt too guilty asking them for a bit of assistance with the cooking. She had decided to try something new so all three of them had attempted to make fajitas together. Castiel had been a big help, Mary had thought, when he had revealed that this was one of Gabriel’s specialties back home.

During supper, Mary had asked them a multitude of questions about their day, including an inquiry concerning their lift home by Gabriel. Sam and Castiel had made sure to leave out the part where Gabriel had passed most of the drive home undertaking his own inquiry by constantly saying random names and repeating “Who is it?” with the hope that Castiel would finally cave in.

But unfortunately for Gabriel, he had simply smiled and replied “No” and “Not saying.”

Once their meal was over and that Sam and Castiel had cleared off the table, Mary thanked them for their help and shooed them both away from the kitchen and dining room to take care of the rest herself.

The boys rested in the living room, half watching the television, patiently waiting for Dean’s arrival.

Castiel’s phone buzzed.

 

Gabe: Tell me who it is.

Gabe: Is it Asmodeus?

Cas: Ew.

Cas: No. It really is not.

Cas: I thought you didn’t like Asmodeus?

Cas: Do you want it to be him?

Cas: Because I’m concerned about you if you do.

Gabe: OF COURSE NOT. I don’t want it to be Asmodeus.

Gabe: Dude is creepy af

Cas: Then why did you suggest him?

Gabe: Because

Gabe: I

Gabe: Cas, I’m running out of ideas!

Gabe: Get off your power trip and TELL ME.

Cas: It’s nice to have dreams.

Gabe: FFS CAS

Gabe: You suck.

Gabe: And yes, there should be penis joke somewhere, but I’m too upset right now to think of one.

 

“What’s up?” asked Sam, which made Castiel grin. “What?” asked Sam, frowning at him.

“Gabe,” said Castiel, putting his phone away, resisting the urge to text Gabriel Sam’s exact words. “Apparently, I suck and I’m on a power trip,” he said as he fluffed one of the pillows on his side to be more comfortable.

Sam glanced over the back of the couch to make sure Mary wasn’t around. When he saw that she was busy filling the dishwasher, he leaned in towards Castiel and whispered, “He’s still asking who it is?”

“He’s obsessed.”

Sam bit his bottom lip.

“Sam, do you want me to tell him?”

He looked down and shook his head.

They remained silent for a little while.

“Sam, can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“I know it’s none of my business, but I’ve been meaning to ask you something since Monday.” He paused, weighing on how he should word his question.

“Cas?” said Sam, still waiting.

“When exactly did you start having feelings for Gabe?” Sam remained silent, but he didn’t seem puzzled or upset about his question so Castiel added, “I’m asking because on Monday you said vaguely ‘for some time now.’ I thought you meant for a few months at the most, but yesterday when you revealed you already liked Gabe back when he was working at the Loki Candy Shop, it’s clear it’s been longer than that. I’m just curious when and how…”

“How it happened?” finished Sam.

Castiel nodded.

Sam looked thoughtful for a moment, to a degree that Castiel was about to tell Sam to forget his question, but Sam then said, “I’ll make you a deal, I’ll answer and you do the same. About Dean, I mean.”

“All right,” said Castiel, knowing it was only fair, even though he felt a bit anxious about voicing this particular topic. “But I asked first.”

Sam laughed. With another peek over the couch to make sure the coast was clear, they both sank into the couch, whispering. “I think it’s when he stood up for me,” said Sam, finally.

“He did? When? How?”

“It’s…it’s actually a very embarrassing story, so I’d prefer not to say, but…it happened over two—three years ago?”

“Three years ago?”

“Yeah. You—you don’t know about it? He didn’t say anything?”

Castiel reflected on it, but he could not remember Gabriel ever telling him anything of the sort about Sam before.

“He defended me. But it’s not just about that. It’s not just that he helped me out,” continued Sam. “Dean does that. You do that. My friends do that. Not to sound ungrateful, but when Dean, or anyone else helps me, it annoys me sometimes. It makes me feel like I’m this helpless child who everyone thinks can't do anything by himself.”

“You know that’s not true, right?”

“I know. And I know I’m lucky to have Dean. But that’s how I feel, sometimes. But that day with Gabriel…It’s the way he did it, how he supported me, and I felt…it was different. It didn’t bother me. I was happy and I felt special that he was the one helping me. That’s when I knew. That’s when it started.”

Castiel considered Sam’s answer.

“What about you?” whispered Sam.

Castiel sighed. “I don’t know. It’s complicated with Dean, because we’ve been friends for so long. Part of me feels like it’s always been there and I was perhaps just too young to know the difference.”

“But when did you know?”

Castiel took a moment to think about it. “I’m not sure that there was a precise moment where I knew. I think the realization happened gradually. Small things. Like, I always wanted to tell Dean everything, major or not. Whenever I had something to share, Dean was the first person I needed to tell. But then I found myself keeping things from Dean purposely because of that. At some point, telling him things, no matter what it involved, became like exposing myself. That’s when I started to wonder. The real indication, I suppose, was something similar to what you explained. It was when I started comparing my feelings for Dean with the ones I had for other people.”

“You mean, how you felt for Dean versus everyone else?” asked Sam, but he frowned when Castiel shook his head. “I don’t get what you’re saying, Cas.”

“I—I don’t mean other people in general. I mean other people who I had strong feelings for, not unlike how I feel for Dean, but obviously not as strongly. No one ever equaled him.”

Sam, stunned by Castiel’s answer, stared at him with his mouth wide open for a good minute before he spoke. “There’s been others? Plural?”

“A few yes.”

Sam was shocked by this information. As far as he knew, Castiel had—maybe—only liked one other person other than Dean, and up until a moment ago, Sam had honestly believed it to be a lie.

“Wait,” said Sam, “so does that mean that you and Meg…”

“You’ve heard about Meg?” asked Castiel, in a careful tone.

Heard about Meg? Okay, look, I honestly didn’t—yes.” He cleared his throat. “Her name was mentioned. Cas, I don’t think I had ever heard Dean bitch about someone to that degree before, and that includes that Gordon kid who bullied me that whole year in the second grade. Yes, I’ve heard about Meg. But I didn’t know you went out with her.”

“I didn’t. I never went out with Meg,” said Castiel. He cleared his voice and pulled slightly on his sleeve.

Sam observed him. “Really?”

“Nothing ever happened with her,” he said firmly, and while Sam wasn’t sure he was getting the whole scoop, he believed Castiel was telling him the truth. Castiel added, “It wasn’t like that. And that’s what I had told Dean when he had hinted about it, but he didn’t seem to believe me. And I remember him being extremely cross about her.”

“And that never clued you in as to why?”

“Well, um, if I’m being honest—I, yes.”

Sam lifted his arms in the air in sign of exasperation, only to remember that his mother wasn’t very far away, so this was no time for an outburst. “Cas, why the hell didn’t you do anything then?” he asked, desperately trying to keep his voice down. “That’s when I knew for sure that Dean liked you,” he confessed. “Because he was jealous. Remember what we talked about on Monday? Dean freaking out and being jealous? I told you I had seen it before. That’s when. And now, I’m going to hell and Dean is going to murder me for telling you, but Cas, Dean was jealous. He turned green every single time she was around or you mentioned her name. And I knew it. And he knew it. And he knew that I knew and he made me swear to never tell a soul.”

“Wait, Dean told you he was jealous?”

Sam shook his head and took a deep breath. “I made a joke about him being jealous and he really didn’t like it and told me to shut up. Not like oh just shut up, already. No. This was like shut up whispered from the back of his throat, indicating that I had hit a nerve, and then Dean stormed out. After a while, he apologized and weirdly made me promise to not repeat this to anyone. Even if he never admitted it, he knew that he was jealous.”

Castiel and Sam sat quietly, reflecting on the matter for a little while, when Sam added, “But if you had your suspicions too, why didn’t you do anything? Was it because you liked Meg?”

“No. I didn’t like Meg—I liked—she only paid me atten—because—And she—” and Castiel stopped in frustration. He bit his lip, looked away, and immediately crossed his arms over his chest. Patiently giving Castiel time to put his thoughts in order, Sam observed him carefully, as worry rose within him. Castiel kept pulling on his sleeve. Sam swallowed and felt guilty for asking too many questions. It was clear that Castiel was no longer comfortable with this subject matter.

He was about to change the topic of conversation, when Castiel turned back to Sam, after taking a deep a breath. “The point is,” Castiel continued, “I didn’t see her that way, regardless of how Meg might have felt for me or not. She wasn’t the one I was interested in at the time. But Dean got it in his mind that it was the case, and he kept insisting on it in such a manner that it made me realized I cared far more about Dean’s concerns than however I might have felt for somebody else. That’s when I knew I couldn’t deny it anymore.”

“Then why didn’t you say anything?” repeated Sam, sighing.

“Did Dean do anything about it?” Castiel pointed out. “No. He didn’t. Regardless what his issue was, he kept quiet about it. I barely had time to process my own feelings and the next thing I knew, it was the end of the summer, Meg went back to her mother’s, and h—and Dean went back to his usual self the second she was out of the picture and it was like it had never happened. Not exactly the incentive I was looking for.”

Sam had other questions concerning Meg, but remembering what had happened earlier, he concluded it was perhaps best for the time being to keep them to himself.

He did, however, carefully attempt a similar topic. “And what about the others? Does Dean know?”

“Of one, yes,” said Castiel. “He may suspect of another one, but the—we never discussed it.” He anxiously was pulling on his sleeve again.

“And…how serious was it?”

Castiel leaned back. “I don’t kiss and tell Sam.”

“Come on. Really? Do I know them?”

“You’re as bad as Gabe.”

“Boys?” yelled Mary from the kitchen, which made them both jump.

“Yes, Mom?”

Mary announced that she had baked cookies for them on her way to the living room. She put down a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies on the coffee table.

“Thanks, Mom,” said Sam, taking one.

“Thank you, Mrs. Winchester.”

“Mary, Cas. You know that. And my pleasure. Just make sure to save some for Dean, okay?” and she went back to the kitchen.

Sam turned to Castiel. “You know that the only reason she made those is because you’re here, right?”

“I doubt that, somehow.”

“Trust me, she makes an effort when you’re here. I think she wants you to come back to us.”

After they devoured a few cookies each, they put the plate away, making sure there would be some left for Dean. Not wanting to watch anything in particular and still waiting for Dean to get home, Sam suggested that they should play the dance video game him and Dean are always raving about. Castiel vehemently refused this proposition, on the fact that he did not dance. Sam argued that this was precisely the reason why they should play.

“It will be good practice for Saturday!” joked Sam.

Castiel severely doubted that attestation, and was about to tell Sam so, when his phone buzzed again.

 

Gabe: Tell me a clue then.

Cas: No.

Gabe: ONE CLUE.

Gabe: Like their gender. Or gender ID.

Gabe: The color of their hair.

Gabe: Their height.

Gabe: Not that I care about any of that.

Gabe: I just need a hint.

Gabe: There are many other anatomical attributes I could mention here.

Cas: Please don’t.

Gabe: But it might get weird.

Gabe: Just tell me.

Cas: N

Gabe: Is this a clue!?

Cas: O

Gabe: Wow.

Gabe: Please. Tell me anything.

Gabe: I just need a hint so I can guess.

Cas: Guess all you want.

Cas: I’m still not telling you.

Cas: The person in question will tell you when or if they want so.

Gabe: SO IT’S A PERSON.

Cas: Gabe.

Gabe: They could have been a ghost. Or an alien.

Gabe: I don’t judge.

Gabe: I’m very open-minded.

Gabe: To a LOT of things.

Cas: I’ll be sure to warn them you don’t come with a mute button.

Gabe: No. I do not.

Gabe: I do not come with a mute button.

Cas: You know what I mean.

Cas: STOP.

Gabe: It’s quite the opposite actually.

Cas: BYE.

 

When Castiel looked up from his phone, Sam had already installed the game.

“Sam, no.”

“Too late! We have to play now,” he said, handing him one of the remote controller after he fixed the sensor bar. He tugged Castiel in front of the television and stood next to him. “Was that Gabriel, again?”

“Yes.” Castiel checked that Mary was still in the kitchen again, and then leaned in and said, “Why aren’t you telling Gabe? You’re giving me grievance about being honest, but you aren’t saying anything either. Gabe is dying to know. At this rate, I’m surprised he hasn’t guessed already.”

Sam pursed his lips. “You’re right, Cas. It seems unfair when you put it like that. But I don’t see it the same way. From where I’m standing, I know that Dean likes you and I know you like him. All you need is to admit it to each other. But with me, it’s…I’ll tell him. Eventually, I’ll tell him. Let me be able to speak in full sentences when it’s just the two of us first.”

“Isn’t that what you did today?” said Castiel, smirking.

Sam ignored the fact that he could feel his cheeks getting warm. “I wouldn’t go that far.”

“You had a full conversation alone with Gabe,” remarked Castiel.

“I told you this afternoon, I barely spoke to him.”

Castiel faced Sam. “And yet, somehow, it seems you managed to utter enough words to help him out from the tyrannical librarian and ask him for a lift home. For starters.”

Sam fought the urge to smile.

“What else happened?”

“Cas,” whispered Sam, “I told you, I barely spoke to him. I may have said one or two sentences, by some miracle, but the rest—I was just trying not to jump out of my skin. Half of me wanted to stay there because I couldn’t believe this was happening, and the other half of me wanted to run away because I couldn’t believe this was happening. Pretty sure I stayed because I had lost all function in my legs due to shock.”

“But it wasn’t nothing,” said Castiel, smiling kindly.

“It’s definitely progress,” said Sam. “But still a long way to go before I feel comfortable enough to confess anything.”

Castiel chuckled. “Okay, but I’m telling you, the more I resist answering, the more he’s going to ask. I can deny it by text, but if he asks me face-to-face if it’s you or not, I don’t know how well I’ll be able to lie,” said Castiel.

“You’ve managed so far.”

“That’s because so far he hasn’t asked me about you,” specified Castiel, “and like I told you, his list of suspects is running low.”

 

Parked in his driveway, Dean had been sitting in his car for the past five minutes. The whole drive home had been a mixture of emotion boiling inside him.

He couldn’t wait to finally be home and see Castiel.

And he also felt incredibly apprehensive about witnessing what was waiting for him there.

He did not want to see anymore of Castiel and Sammy’s happy time.

He did not want to be reminded how much Sam and Castiel were perfectly fine on their own, without him.

He did not want to see how at ease they were with each other.

And he did not want to see that there was something growing between them.

Unfortunately for Dean, once he finally stepped out of his car and walked to his front door, that was exactly what was displayed to him in the living room window.

Sam and Castiel were dancing. They were playing that freaking dance video game him and Sam always liked to play to amuse their mother.

But Castiel and Sam weren’t just dancing and playing the game next to each other.

They had, somehow, been inspired to select the pairing option. As in couple dancing.

Sam and Castiel were laughing, looking awkwardly at the screen and at their own feet, and were holding each other for support as they were executing the steps in a poor manner and with great difficulty.

Without further ado, Dean entered his home, took off his coat and hung it next to Sam’s, but paused when he noticed that Castiel’s trench coat was underneath Sam’s winter coat.

It made no sense, but this fact bothered him.

Clenching his jaw harshly, he picked up his school bag, wishing he could teleport directly to his room instead of having to pass by the living room first.

“Dean, you’re home!” said Sam, as he stopped dancing and paused the game. “Mom made us cookies and we saved you some,” he said, presenting the plate. Dean stopped briskly.

Great.

He picked up one cookie but remained silent.

“And Mom said to tell you that there’s plenty of leftovers in the fridge, if you’re hungry for something more sustainable than this. She’s downstairs tending to Devereaux’ boxes.”

“Okay.”

“Want to play with us, Dean?” said Castiel.

“You’re up next. I need a break,” said Sam, letting himself fall on the couch.

“I can’t right now. I have homework.”

That was all Dean said and he left for his room.

He had not meant to be so grumpy, but the fact was that, well, he felt grumpy. In that moment, everything around him made him angry.

While Dean was brooding in his room, Sam and Castiel did their best to continue enjoying themselves, hoping Dean would soon join them, but he did not. They eventually stopped the game and watched television, but to both their disappointment Dean never came back from his room.

When John arrived home, they decided to let him have the living room, despite his protestation that he would simply watch whatever they were watching. Shortly after, however, John started dozing off in the armchair. Sam put the television on mute, left the remote next to him, and he and Castiel moved their conversation to his room, where it was private.

Later on, Sam let Castiel know the bathroom was free once he had completed his usual bedtime routine. About to head for the bathroom with his change of clothes in hand, Castiel heard his phone once again.

 

Gabe: Real talk, though.

Gabe: Just tell me one thing.

Gabe: Do you think I’d be happy?

Gabe: That we’d be good together?

Gabe: Do you think this person would be good to me?

 

A warm feeling spread through Castiel’s entire body and he felt a smile growing on his face the instant he read Gabriel’s texts. The thought of Gabriel actually pondering that possibility brought him so much happiness.

Looking up from his phone, he watched Sam snuggle up in his bed, reading a few pages from his book before going to sleep.

 

Cas: I think they’d probably be the best thing that could ever happen to you.

 

“Something funny?” asked Sam. “You’re smiling.”

“Am I?” Castiel shut off his phone. He dropped his clothes on top of his bag feeling inspired by an idea, and waltzed towards the door.

“Cas? What’s funny?” repeated Sam.

“Funny is not the word I would use, no.”

“Then what?”

“Happy reading, Sam.”

“I’m starting to think that Gabriel is right about you,” snorted Sam. “You do have a power trip.”

Castiel felt more cheerful than he had in a long time.

 

Doing homework was the last thing Dean had on his mind after stubbornly leaving Castiel and Sam to their game, but he decided he’d much prefer being angry and sad in his room than dealing with what was going on in the living room.

Once in his room, he dropped his books on his desk, probably more briskly than necessary, and sat down, loathing everything he was looking at. He opened his books and resented them as if they had done something bad to him personally. He tried to focus on his math homework. He also decided that everything was wrong in the world.

He did his best to tune out Sam and Castiel’s cheers coming from the living room.

But he still kept track of their activities.

They had stopped the game. He knew that because he couldn’t hear the music anymore.

But they were still in the living room.

Doing…doing what?

He could hear distant laughter.

Which didn’t help his current state of mind.

Laughter again.

Dean got up and shut the door.

He didn’t slam it, because he knew even his mother would hear it and he would then get in trouble for his poor attitude. But he still made a point to shut it loud enough so Castiel and Sam would hear it.

Staring at his homework helplessly, but not really doing anything, Dean was upset. He had no idea how long he stayed in that boiling state, but it felt like an eternity.

Hours of him simply staring at his books with one of his legs fidgeting, and holding his pencil angrily, while wishing he could be anywhere but in his room.

He heard someone walking down the hallway, followed by a soft knock on his door.

Dean ignored it.

“Dean, it’s Cas,” he heard coming from the other side of the door.

Dean dropped his pencil and went to open the door, but stopped half way there and went back to his desk.

He picked up his pencil, repositioned his books, and said, “Come in.”

Castiel pushed the door open and took a few steps into the room. He was holding the cookie plate and slowly put it on Dean’s desk.

“I thought you might like some more as you do your homework,” said Castiel.

Dean’s phone buzzed.

Dean nodded. “Thanks.”

He had said it much more bitterly than he had intended and Dean regretted saying it the second it came out of his mouth. It was even worse when he realized by his friend’s expression that his tone hadn’t been unnoticed by him either.

“Dean, did I do something wrong?”

No. Yes. No.

“I’m just tired. That’s all.”

Dean’s phone buzzed again.

“And I have to finish this,” he said, ignoring his phone.

Castiel stepped closer to see what Dean was working on.

“I already did mine. I can help you, if you want.”

Yes. No. Yes.

“I just…I’ll be fine.”

But I’m not fine.

His phone was buzzing again.

And I miss you.

“I think you should get that,” said Castiel, pointing at his phone.

How can I miss you?

“It looks important.”

I don’t understand how.

“Let me know if you need help,” said Castiel, walking away.

But I do.

“I’ll be in Sam’s room,” he said and shut the door behind him calmly.

What the fuck is happening to me?

Dean glanced at his phone. Lisa was calling.

He heard Sam and Castiel talking on the other side of the wall. Sam was laughing.

Dean buried his face in his hands, his elbows resting on his desk, and stamped once with his feet on the floor in frustration.

He leaned back to his chair and answered Lisa’s call.

Chapter Text

“I need to ask you something.”

Gabriel, who was sitting with his usual crew of misfits, looked up at Dean with a big smile. “Dean? To what do I owe this pleasure?”

The morning had been very similar to the one of the day before, namely that Dean had not been able to interact much with Castiel or Sam. He had gone on his run, as usual, and Sam and Castiel had gotten a lift to school by his mother as always. Dean hadn’t had any classes with Castiel that morning, and his break had been spent in Lisa’s company at his locker.

When Dean anxiously stepped into the cafeteria at lunch, he was relieved to see Sam and Castiel weren’t alone, but seated with Kevin and Channing. As he watched Sam in a seemingly deep discussion with them over a sheet of paper, Dean’s whole being tensed when he noticed Castiel smiling and apparently listening heartily to every word Sam was saying.

With the immediate loss of his appetite, Dean opted to not even bother joining them.

He did not sit with Lisa either.

Dean had something else to do.

He had had enough of this massively abnormal behavior and had decided to take measures by going to a somewhat reliable source for answers.

He went to speak with Gabriel.

“It’s about Cas,” he said, trying not to sound too ominous.

“Why? Is something wrong?” he asked, confused.

Dean shot an uncomfortable look at Gabriel’s friends, who were all listening in, and then stepped back, gesturing for Gabriel to follow him for a more private conversation.

The second Gabriel judged they were far enough away, he said, “Dean, what’s up with my brother? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Nothing is wrong. I think.”

“Okay, quit stalling Winchester and just spill it. What happened?”

“Why—do you know something?”

“You’re the one who came to me, remember?”

Dean took a deep breath, uncertain on how to address the issue. “Does he seem…different to you?”

For the briefest of moments, Dean thought he had seen a flash in Gabriel’s eyes. But it was gone as soon as he had noticed it, and Dean could not decide if it was signifying worry or—much worse—something mischievous.

“He has been staying at your house for the past few days, so you tell me.”

“I know, but just—just answer the question, please. Have you noticed anything unusual about him? Anything?”

Gabriel studied Dean for an instant, really taking a good, long look at him, as if he was trying to discern a potential trap.

“He’s pretty much the same Cas,” he eventually said. “Of what I have seen of him this week, anyway. The only thing I would call unusual about him was when he agreed to go to the party. I mean, he resisted a bit, as I knew he would, but it took so much less to convince him than I thought it would.”

“Party? What party?”

“The party,” said Gabriel, as if it was the most obvious thing. “At Kali’s. This Saturday.”

Dean stared at him.

“You don—they haven’t told you?”

They? Dean, trying to appear indifferent, shook his head.

“Huh. Well, now you know. And you’re invited, of course.”

“This coming Saturday.”

“Yup.”

“And Cas is on board with this?”

Gabriel nodded. “Cas is going. And your brother, too.”

Dean blinked. “Sam and Cas are going to a party.”

“Yup. Are you going to repeat everything I say?” laughed Gabriel. “They’re both going be there. Actually, Sam was the one who helped me convince Cas to go.”

“Sam wants to go to a party?” said Dean. “What the hell?” he muttered under his breath.

“Um, Dean?”

“When did this happen? Like when did they decide this?”

“Why?”

“Just answer the question, please.”

“So demanding, Winchester. But Tuesday, I guess?” he said, thinking on it. He then added for precision, “When we went for pancakes.”

“What now?”

“Pancakes at the Roadhouse. You know, that awesome diner on Carver? It has awesome strawberry syrup that just—anyways, that’s when I mentioned it to them.”

Dean’s mind was speeding at a hundred kilometers an hour.

“All three of you went for dinner on Tuesday?”

I thought they ate with Mom that night.

“Well, no. We met before dinner because I had plans for the evening. I called Cas to tell him about the party and the next thing I know we’re meeting at the diner.”

“And Sam?”

“He was with him so he tagged along. I don’t think they were really far from there.”

Dean was having a panic attack. “Where were they? Before?”

Gabriel frowned. “I don’t know. Does it matter? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Then what happened? You guys went to the restaurant?”

“Diner,” corrected Gabriel. “Yeah. I was surprised they both agreed. I mean, they’d already been there that day. That was part of the reason I had been craving pancakes in the first place.”

“Whoa, what?” Dean lifted one hand in the air in protestation, while his other arm was severely pressed across his chest.

“I drove Cas to the diner that morning, way before school. He was meeting Sam. I thought he was meeting you both, but I guess you weren’t there after all, huh?”

Dean stared at Gabriel bluntly, processing that last bit of information. He half laughed, and had now both arms crossed tightly over his chest. “My brother,” he said, heavily, looking straight at Gabriel, “met Cas on Tuesday morning before school at the diner?”

“Yes,” said Gabriel, nodding slowly. He looked at Dean questioningly. “Are you okay? Why is this important?”

“No reason,” blurted out Dean. “What else happened when they met you on Tuesday?”

“Nothing. We left and I dropped them off at your house and that’s it. Why? What’s with the inquisition? Is Cas okay?”

“Yeah, he’s awesome.”

“Okay, well, Dean,” said Gabriel, “Cas doesn’t seem weird to me, but you certainly do.”

“Weird couple of days, I guess.”

Gabriel was still x-raying him. “Good thing there’s a party then, right?” Dean nodded, biting the inside of his cheek. “Anything could happen,” continued Gabriel. “I hope Cas can relax a little. And, um, who knows? Maybe someone,” he pressed on, adopting a weird, yet cautious tone, “will finally drag my brother to the dance floor and make him live a little. And who’s to say what could happen then?”

“I need to go,” said Dean hurriedly. “I—I have to—thanks for the talk. See you around, Gabe.”

“Okay. See you at the party, right?”

Dean nodded absently, walking away from Gabriel as fast as he could.

The only thing that Dean could process, as he walked through the busy and cheerful crowd, was that Sam and Castiel had lied to him.

About many things.

About the diner.

About pancakes.

And about that goddamn party.

You know why they haven’t told you, right?

Shut. Up. Not now.

It’s because they didn’t want you there.

They just hadn’t had time to tell me yet.

Really? They were so busy they couldn’t have sent you one little text to let you know? You text them all the time. Trying desperately to make plans. Do they bother?

Stop. It’s not—

Or, like I said, maybe it’s because they wanted to go at that party on their own. Together. Without you lurking around. While they dance closely, all flustered and sweaty and warm. And then perhaps whisper things to each other in a dark corner. For starters. Or maybe more than jus—

And the moment these images of Castiel and Sam crept into his mind, Dean was ready to set himself on fire.

 

Gabe: Wanna eat pancakes again?

Cas: Really? Already?

Gabe: Yes!

Gabe: Because I miss you! And I can’t live without you!

Cas: Huh-uh. What do you want?

Gabe: Pancakes and you.

Cas: What do you want?

Gabe: I have a question.

Gabe: Maybe more than one.

Gabe: And information to share.

Gabe: And I have a question.

Cas: And we need to do this over pancakes instead of right now?

Cas: Is it a kidney you need?

Gabe: No. But good to know where to start if that ever becomes an issue.

Cas: GABE.

Gabe: Pretty please! I actually have to give you an update about the three horribles.

Cas: And that is supposed to incite me?

Gabe: I know, but it will be quick. Then, we can just chill. And eat pancakes. My treat again. I’m serious.

Gabe: Bonus, I also have juicy gossip.

Cas: Don’t care about that.

Gabe: Pretty sure you will care about this one.

Cas: Doubtful. But okay, I’m good for pancakes.

Gabe: Good I’ll pick you up after school.

 

 

The afternoon had been a torturous blur for Dean. All his attention was directed at one thing.

Castiel and Sam had lied to him. They had kept secrets from him.

He desperately tried to explore all the different possibilities in which he could have misunderstood, but nope.

Why?

They met for breakfast. Without me. Secretly.

Where did they go after school before meeting with Gabe?

Why didn’t they tell me?

Why didn’t they tell me any of this?

Dean didn’t know what to do.

On the one hand, he wanted to corner them both and ask what the hell was with the sneaking around and the lying.

But on the other hand, Dean also reasoned that doing so would be what a crazy and overreacting person would do.

Nonetheless, the truth was that he was upset and it bothered him greatly that he was.

Demanding an explanation in a sane and respectful way wouldn’t be too much to ask. But if he acted like he cared, they’d notice, and if something was indeed happening…

Dean needed answers.

And the only thing that made the afternoon tolerable was that he knew they wouldn’t be able to sneak around without his knowing that night.

No one had plans that evening, and all three were expected to meet after his football practice, just as usual, which meant that Sam and Castiel wouldn’t just stroll away without him.

And he would finally be able to hang out with Castiel.

And ask Sam a few questions as well.

Or so he thought.

Unfortunately for Dean, all his hopes went up in flames when he was met by only Sam after his football practice at the car.

“Where’s Cas?”

“With Gabriel.”

“What?” This is bad.

“Yeah, Gabriel needs to tell him something about the family I think. They decided to have a meal while going over it. He said he’d be back early if it’s not too serious.” When Sam noticed Dean was staring at him, he added, “He didn’t seem worried.”

“When did this happen? I talked to Gabe this afternoon and he didn’t say anything,” asked Dean.

“Dunno,” frowned Sam. “I learned about it right after school. Why?”

“No reason.” Dean sat in his car.

Great. I still won’t be able to see Cas and now Gabe might blab about my weirdness from this afternoon.

“Since when do you speak with Gabriel?” asked Sam as he took his seat next to him.

“Put your seat belt on, Sammy.”

“Dean?” 

Oh, now you wanna talk?

Not gonna happen.

He ignored him, started the engine and turned on the volume of the radio to the maximum drowning out Sam’s voice.

 

Once more at the Roadhouse, Gabriel and Castiel sat in their usual booth in the corner, awaiting their meals. They had begun discussing their siblings on their way to the diner in the hope of getting that heavy part out of the way quickly.

According to Gabriel, the latest update concerning their family drama was that the feud between Michael and Lucifer had been going on for much longer than they had implied. One bad prank gone wrong and suddenly all hell had broken loose. And this massive can of worms apparently also included Naomi in the mix, and this without her knowledge. Gabriel had not been overly specific about the details, but his choice of words (such as identity fraud, false credentials and maxed-out-credit cards) had given Castiel a good enough idea of the situation.

“What I am given to understand from this is that home is still not an option yet,” said Castiel finally.

“And a thousand points to house Novak for proper recaps.”

“How do you know all this anyway? Duma told you?”

Gabriel smirked, shaking his head. “I stopped by the house and sneaked in early this morning. I had forgotten a few things at home and needed to go back.”

“You went back? God, at what cost?”

“They didn’t see me. Um, you know the—um, the bathroom near the library on the second floor?”

“The one on their side of the house?”

“Yes, that one. The window in that bathroom doesn’t lock properly. Never has. And, um, sometimes, I more or less sneak in and out of the house through that window without any of them noticing.”

Castiel gaped at Gabriel. “You what? Since when have you been doing this?”

“A while. Remember when Michael and Luce had their big blow out, and Luce had the insane idea to light fireworks inside the house? I think that was the first time. It’s a very complex system. Took me years to perfect it—it definitely got easier as I got older—but basically, because that bathroom is right in that corner next to the garage, and the pipe is—anyways, I can climb it.”

“And you’ve managed to do this without breaking your neck?” said Castiel, simultaneously astonished and exasperated at his brother’s recklessness.

“And undetected, even from you,” added Gabriel smugly as the waiter brought them their plates. They thanked him and started to eat. “Anyway, when I was there this morning to grab a few things, there was a heavy discussion going on,” said Gabriel, after a few bites. “It became pretty obvious that I should probably pick up more than a few extra shirts.” He sighed, looking at his plate, almost sad. “Between you and me, I don’t fancy sharing the household with these maniacs, but this whole nomad thing, as impressive and sometimes liberating as it is, isn’t always the greatest either.”

“Everything okay, Gabe?”

Gabriel waved his hand in protest. “I’m fine. No worries.”

Castiel knew Gabriel would cope no matter what, but he couldn’t shake off this small hint of worry spreading over him.

“Gabe, the invitation at the Winchesters still stands. If you need to.”

“I’m fine, little bro,” he said, taking a sip of his coffee. “It goes directly to the heart, but I’m fine. Besides…” he said with a smile and a direct change of tone that made Castiel nervous about what would follow. “I wouldn’t dream of crashing your private time with Dean. That is one upside to our stupid sibling drama. The longer you’re there, the better. And now, I get to ask for an update: how is everything going with Dean? Any progress?”

“Gabe, no, we’re not doing this.”

“Resisting, are we? That means there is something. I’m listening.”

“There’s nothing to say,” said Castiel, urgently taking bites of his food.

Nodding, Gabriel stared at him with a massive grin on his face. This did not help Castiel with his anxiety.

“That is not what a little bird told me,” said Gabriel.

“What?” For half a second, Castiel wondered if Sam had spilled the beans to Gabriel, as he was the only other person who knew. The likeliness of this occurring, however, was rather slim. It would entail Sam actually conversing with Gabriel, and given the events from the day before, Castiel was positive Sam would have reported the whole affair in detail as soon as he could have. “What are you talking about?”

Gabriel finished chewing, and then said, “Tell me what happened so far and I’ll tell you what I know.”

“I told you. There is nothing to know or say because nothing happened. Why do you think something happened?” He looked at him suspiciously.

“I thought you said you’d do something about this. It’s been two days already.”

“Um, first off,” said Castiel, “I never said I would do anything.” To you, anyway, he thought, while shifting in his seat. “Second, even if I wanted to, it’s been rather problematic to achieve anything after a certain turn of events.”

“But you are planning on doing something. I’m so proud,” he said, smiling.

“Shut up.”

“Never. So what’s the problem? Why are you stalling?”

“I’m not. Dean’s just been…busy. I’ve barely seen him.”

“Like how? What is possibly keeping him busy?”

“Lisa Braeden, for one.”

“Oh. Right. That.”

“Yes. Dean has been hanging out with her during lunch hour, and they are already planning on going out again tomorrow night after the game.”

“Dean told you that?” asked Gabriel, skeptical.

“No, of course not. I’d have to actually exchange more than three words with Dean for that. Lisa was the one who was kind enough to share that information to Sam and me yesterday when she was waiting for Dean. And then there’s work and school… Any questions?” 

Castiel, discouraged by the topic of conversation, sighed deeply and dabbed a thick piece of pancakes in syrup as a small attempt at consolation, while Gabriel took in the information.

“Okay, rough start. But so what? What about last night? What did you do then?”

“Dean was working last night.”

“So you didn’t see him? At all?”

“Barely. I told you. I see him at school, but he’s busy with Lisa when we’re not in class.” Gabriel squinted for a second. Castiel believed his brother was about to speak, but he remained silent. “And during class,” he continued, “I knew that—well, anyway—it’s class. No time for socializing.”

Gabriel put down his fork and looked upwards in exasperation. “It’s when you say stuff like this that makes me wonder how we are related. Classes are the perfect time for socializing, Cas! What are you talking about?”

“Gabe, no, it isn’t.”

“Wrong. So, wrong, but fine. None of this matters, because—” and Gabriel stopped talking as he suddenly questioned how much he should tell Castiel of his brief afternoon interaction with Dean.

Up until then, Gabriel had hoped that Dean’s inquiry about Castiel’s possible odd behavior was due to his brother acting at last on his feelings for Dean. But according to Castiel, that was not the case.

But Gabriel still thought his conversation with Dean had been odd and worth something.

“Because what?” asked Castiel.

“Because, what if I tell you that… look, I wouldn’t give up just yet, Cas. You may think his mind is on someone else, but you might be surprised.”

Castiel frowned. “What makes you say that?”

“You say you haven’t seen a whole lot of Dean this week? Don’t be so sure he hasn’t noticed either.”

“Gabe,” said Castiel, firmly. “Why do you say that?”

Gabriel shoved a massive amount of food in his mouth.

“What do you know?”

He chewed on his food extremely slowly.

Castiel huffed. “Did you do something?”

Gabriel was still chewing.

“Gabe.” Castiel scowled at him.

“Nothing, I did nothing,” he finally said, rolling his eyes. “Except answer a few questions Dean had about you and your whereabouts. He was concerned about your well-being.”

“What? What do you mean?”

“Exactly what I said. So, I don’t know what is going on,” he said, staring at his brother with a dignified expression on his face, “but whatever it is, it is stirring up in Winchester’s mind.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then talk to him and see for yourself, Cas. Have a one-on-one conversation about anything you want—doesn’t have to be super heavy—but have a conversation with Dean tonight when I drop you off. Do yourself a favor and do what I say.”

Not long after that, the waiter arrived to clear their table. They both thanked him and said their meal was delicious. Gabriel asked for one bill.

That was when Castiel, in light of what Gabriel had just told him, suddenly had an idea.

“Can we make a pit stop before you drop me off?” he asked, pulling up his phone.

Gabriel lifted an eyebrow at him, but nodded. “Where to?”

“You know that bakery on Lazarus Street?” Castiel was scrolling down his phone checking for opening hours. “They probably make the best pies in town. Maybe I—I could bring one for Dean.”

Castiel shyly looked up from his phone at Gabriel, who was smiling his biggest, and some would say, wickedest smile. 

“Now that,” said Gabriel, “is what I call initiative. And about damn time too. Winchester’s weak spot. Well played.”

Castiel bit on his lip and said, “You think? I don’t know maybe it’s—”

“No. Too late for back outs now. This is happening,” said Gabriel as he took out his wallet.

“Gabe, I don’t know. I more or less attempted this last night and nothing came out of it.”

“Was it a pie?”

“No, but—”

“We’re going. And you’re doing this.”

Castiel sighed and went back to his phone, unconvinced.

Gabriel quietly studied Castiel as they waited for the bill. His brother continued focusing on his phone, so much so that Gabriel had no doubts he was avoiding him. Thus, he remained still and waited for Castiel to eventually break away from it. A few minutes later, Castiel uncomfortably glanced at his brother.

“Are they open?” asked Gabriel.

He nodded, grimly.

Gabriel took a deep breath. “Cas, I just—I don’t understand why you keep doubting yourself. Stop doing that, okay? You think too much sometimes. Unless—am I missing something here?”

Castiel shook his head. His eyes were genuine.

Glad of this statement, Gabriel then added, “You have to try something. Now, I’m telling you that this—this is a good idea,” he said, pointing at his phone. “It’s certainly a good start.”

“Start? I’m sure you have many colorful suggestions,” scoffed Castiel.

“Do I ever.”

“God, why do I listen to you? Next thing you’ll tell me will be to spoon feed him or something.”

Gabriel’s jaw dropped. “I was not going to say this, but why listen to me indeed, your ideas are even better than mine! Who knew? I’m gonna need details.”

“Gabe, I’m not doing—I was joking.”

“Huh-uh. Keep telling yourself that. Your secret is out now.”

Castiel couldn’t help but blush, which made Gabriel tease him even more until the waiter came back with the bill.

“Now, I just have one question left for you and you can tell me on the way to that bakery.”

Castiel nodded, bracing for the worst.

“Can you please tell me who the marvelous person, who has a massive crush on me, is already?”

Chapter Text

Sam and Dean were sitting at the kitchen table, doing their homework, while their parents were busy preparing dinner. Dean usually liked this tradition, as it permitted him to work on a bit of homework, while still being surrounded by his family members. 

This ritual, however, was incredibly annoying to Dean on that particular evening.

He had been counting on spending time with Castiel, and as much as he liked his brother, he was furious with Sam, and breathing the same air as him was demanding a lot out of Dean.

He knew he was being unfair.

Sam hadn’t monopolized Castiel. It was who Dean had been busy.

Sam hadn’t arranged for Castiel to sleep in his room. It was Mary who had made that decision.

And Sam wasn’t responsible for Castiel’s absence at dinnertime. It was Gabriel who had simply wished to spend time with his brother, which he obviously had the right to do.

Dean knew all of this.

And yet, the fact remained the same. He was mad at Sam.

After all, Sam had lied. Dean wasn’t sure why he had done so, but he didn’t like one second what the evidence suggested.

And at this very instant, doing his homework next to Sam, who was acting like there wasn’t a problem in the world, was bothering Dean like fucking crazy.

What he wanted was to make Sam admit he’d done something wrong. That he had lied on more than one occasion.

The main reason why Dean was hesitating to call Sam on his bullshit right then and there was because of their parents’ presence. Of course.

While Dean wasn’t exactly sure just how deep Sam’s lies went, he gathered that exposing him in that fashion might result in getting Sam (and perhaps Castiel too) in trouble with their parents.

And as irritated with him as he was, Dean would feel like a complete dick doing so, considering Sam had covered for him many times, for much worse, over the years.

He severely doubted his parents would send Castiel away, but Dean didn’t want to create repercussions in regards to Castiel staying over, either.

“Dean?”

Dean snapped out of his trance. All three Winchesters were looking at him.

“What?”

“Are you okay, honey?”

Dean nodded. “Why?”

John and Mary exchanged looks. “I was just asking how was your day, sweetie,” replied his mother.

“Nothing much to report on my side,” said Dean, making sure to focus on his textbook.

Even without awarding him one glance, Dean could tell that his brother was shifting in his seat at his comment, and he was glad of it.

“Okay,” said Mary. “You still have plans with Lisa tomorrow after the game?”

That is tomorrow, already?

“Yup. So far.”

“I’m glad. That’s good, sweetie, because sadly your dad and I won’t be able to assist at your game tomorrow night.”

Dean lifted his eyes from his textbook, disconcerted. “What? How come?”

“I’m so sorry, sweetie,” she added.

“I’m not mad, Mom. I’m just confused. Did I miss something?”

“It’s my fault, Dean. I said I’d check up on Jim Murphy, remember?”

“I thought that would be on Saturday,” said Dean.

“That’s what I thought too, but can’t do that anymore. Got a call from your grandpop the second I arrived home, and long story short, now your mother and I also have to see your grandparents in Lebanon,” said John, looking grim at the prospect of a busy weekend. “I’m just glad they don’t live in Normal, anymore. It reduces the trip by nearly half, at least.”

“Is everything okay?” asked Sam.

“Yes, he just needs help around the house. The snow is crazy over there apparently, and we were due for a visit. I don’t know how long it will take, and given that Lebanon is further away from where Jim is, I prefer reserving my Saturday for that. And I can’t do either on Sunday because of work, so it means we gotta see Jim on Friday.”

“But Sam and Cas will be at the game, Dean. Sam, you’re in charge of keeping us updated with videos and pictures of the game. Is that okay?” asked Mary.

“Done. I’ll make sure of it.”

“Thank you,” said John. “Dean, I know it’s not the same as us being there…”

“It’s fine, Dad. It’s one game. Don’t worry about it. There will be other ones.” And Dean meant it. He wasn’t very upset about that. During this whole week, football had almost felt like a nuisance more than anything.

Which means I should probably reflect seriously on that later…

But he was truly relieved and comforted by the fact that Sam and Castiel would, at the very least, be present and support him.

Even if he was still cross with Sam.

Maybe it’s not as bad as I thought.

“What about you Sam? You and Cas will be okay on your own tomorrow night after the game?” asked Mary. “We won’t be back until very late.”

Dean broke the end of his pen.

After a quick glance at Dean, Sam turned towards his mother and said, “Yeah, we’ll be okay, no problem.”

“Which reminds me, Dean. Curfew,” said John. “You be here by midnight, tomorrow. Same thing on Saturday, no matter how great that party you boys told us about will be.”

Yes, that fucking party.

The one that Dad apparently knew about before I even did.

“Not one minute late,” warned John. “Do I need to recap the rules, Dean?”

“No. I know the rules. So, how late exactly are you coming back tomorrow night?” asked Dean, doodling on his notebook.

“Probably passed your curfew. You still have to be here in time,” said Mary, with a slight stern face. “Even if we’re not here.”

“I know. I will. I was just curious,” he said, still doodling. “And what about you, Sam? What are you going to be up to after the game?”

Sam turned to Dean and examined him carefully.

Why aren’t you answering Sam?

Are you thinking of an answer?

Sam?

“Dunno, yet. I guess we’ll just hang out.”

You and Cas.

Again.

But this time alone.

Like really alone.

“We’re probably just going to lay low at home. Nothing special.”

In the house.

All night.

“I’ll leave you boys some money for pizza,” said Mary. “And if you and Cas decide to leave the house—to a place which is within walking distance and making sure you come back in time for curfew—you let us know by text.”

Sam nodded. “I don’t think we’ll go anywhere, Mom.”

Is that a fucking smirk on your fucking face?

“And speaking of which, Mom, can Cas do his laundry? Tomorrow, I mean.”

Speaking of which?

What the what?

“Why, honey? I can do it for him on Saturday,” said Mary.

“He said he would need to do a load of laundry soon because he didn’t bring enough changes of clothes.”

“The boxes downstairs are still blocking the way to the washing machine. Unless he wants to do it old school, which he really shouldn’t have to, I don’t think anyone can do anything until Saturday,” concluded Mary. “Will he have enough clothes until then?”

“Probably,” said Sam. “For now, I think it’s just pajamas he needs.”

 “You could lend him some of yours. You are almost the same height now.”

“That’s true. Okay, I’ll tell him.”

How did he run out of pajamas so fast?

SPEAKING OF WHICH?

And that was the moment when everything was a little too much for Dean. He stood up and picked up his books and his bag, desperate to leave the room immediately.

“Dean?” asked Sam. “What are you doing?”

Dean stopped dead and looked straight at his brother. Sam’s eyes were genuinely surprised.

For half a second, an insane half-second, Dean was burying a scream, deep down, and contemplated the idea of dropping his shit on the table and yelling at Sam. For what he had just said. For what he was doing. For what he had done this whole week. For pretending like he didn’t have any idea what the problem was. He knew the problem. He knew what he was doing. He knew it was wrong. And he was still doing it.

But with some extraordinary effort, Dean kept it under wrap and buried it. He was scowling at Sam with such intensity that he was surprised his parents didn’t comment on it.

“Dean, where are—”

“I’m going to my room. To study,” he finally said in the most fake ‘nothing’s wrong’ tone and left the dinning room in a hurry, without a glimpse at his parents, whom he knew were starring at him from the kitchen area.

“Dean, hold on—wait—” pleaded Sam, as he started lifting himself from his seat.

“Honey, dinner will be served soon,” said Mary.

“Not hungry,” mumbled Dean, loud enough for them to hear and disappeared down the hall.

“Dean, wait,” pleaded Sam once more, trying to go after him, but it was no use. Dean, determined to ignore him and be as far away from him as possible, dashed to his bedroom and locked his door, thus shutting everybody out.

 

 

Castiel and Gabriel’s trip to the bakery had taken longer than originally thought. They had unfortunately hit a considerable amount of traffic on their way to the bakery. Once there, they had had to exercise a lot of patience as it turned out that the town’s best pies were in high demand. Castiel had even suggested a few times to Gabriel that perhaps they should simply forget about it. But every time his proposition was heavily rejected by his brother, signaled by a shake of his head while smiling widely.

When Castiel finally arrived at the Winchesters’ home, he was surprised to learn that everyone but John had retreated to their personal quarters. John had opened the front door, let Castiel in, and waved goodbye to Gabriel, who was still in his car in front of the house, making sure that Castiel was safe and sound inside before taking off.

Castiel rid himself of his coat and followed John to the dinning room, where an impressive amount of paper was displayed on the table.

“Everyone is in bed?” asked Castiel. “It’s not even eight o’clock.” 

Nodding, John gestured Castiel to take a seat next to him. He pushed the cookie plate towards Castiel. “Mary’s exhausted. Long hours on her end, too. Sam stayed and watched TV briefly, but he eventually went to his bedroom as well.”

“And what about Dean?”

John sighed.

“Dean spent the evening in his room. Sam tried for the better part of the night to get him out of there, but I think Dean needed a time out.”

“What happened?”

“He’s tired, mostly. I feel that’s my fault. I did ask a lot of him these past two days.” John put down his pen and helped himself to a cookie. “I think, however, that his main problem is that he misses someone.”

Castiel blinked. He opened his mouth and shut it, not sure what to say.

“Mary and I like it when you’re around Cas,” continued John. “Everyone is usually on their best behavior when that’s the case. Even though you’re Dean’s friend, you’ve never dismissed Sam either. You’ve never been anything but kind, supportive and patient with my boys. And Mary,” he said, letting out a short laugh, “she always makes sure to bake goods when you’re here. I think she’s trying to impress you. But Dean—that’s where the biggest impact lies. Dean is not just at his best when you’re here. It’s more than that. He’s being himself—his true self. Bringing out the best in someone is quite something, but bringing their truth to the surface to let them be who they truly are…not everyone can do that. And I think that Dean’s behavior tonight is proof of which one of the two you are.”

Castiel swallowed and looked down, suddenly feeling slightly embarrassed.

“What’s this?” asked John, pointing at Castiel’s doggy bag.

Castiel cleared his throat. “It’s pie. I thought…I thought Dean might like it.”

John nodded and helped himself to another cookie. Castiel could have sworn there was a smile at the corner of John’s mouth. “He’s sulking in his room, but that ought to do the trick,” was all that John said.

Castiel shyly smiled and stood up to leave John to his papers.

“Cas?” said John, as he was heading towards the hallway.

“Yes?”

“Please be sure to tell Gabriel next time that the invitation to dinner is always extended to him as well. I like that you two are looking out for each other. I think it says a lot about you both and I just want to make sure he knows he’s as welcome as you are here.”

Castiel was not surprised by this statement. He knew the Winchesters were caring and generous people, and even if Castiel had benefited far more of their generosity and kindness than Gabriel ever had, he knew this treatment wasn’t solely reserved for him alone.

“Thank you,” said Castiel. “I will make sure that Gabriel joins us next time.”

John nodded with a smile, and with a quick wave of hand, he went back to his papers.

Feeling anxiety rising with each step he was taking slowly down the hallway leading to Dean’s door, Castiel pondered how he should begin this conversation.

What do I say?

Hey Dean! I brought pie. I heard you were…

What? Upset?

What happened?

Tell me?

Can I help?

Scenarios were multiplying in Castiel’s mind where Dean would open the door, see him standing there, and somehow make Dean never doubt he was the one he needed above all in his life.

Which caused a short hesitation for Castiel.

Was that what he wanted?

What was it exactly that he wanted?

He wanted to be who Dean was for him.

He wanted to be the one who Dean needed to make him laugh.

He wanted to be the one who Dean would wish to listen to.

He wanted to be the one who Dean would want to listen to no matter about what and what time.

He wanted to be the one who Dean couldn’t wait to share news with.

He wanted to be the one who Dean would want to spend his time with the most.

And what Castiel wanted the most was Dean wanting him.

Not because he felt threatened by someone else.

Not because he worried he might be replaced.

Not in reaction to somebody else.

Not out of jealousy.

But simply because he was the person Dean had chosen.

Castiel focused on that possibility as he approached Dean’s door.

His throat was dry and he had not registered how fast his heart was beating until he reached Dean’s door. He stood there for a good minute, still trying to think very quickly of what he could say so it wouldn’t sound awkward or pushy.

Hey, brought you a pie! I love you!

But just as Castiel was about to knock, he snapped out of his reverie when he heard Dean laugh on the other side of the door.

Thinking Dean might be talking to Sam, he listened and heard Dean say, fighting down laughter, “I don’t know what to tell you, Lisa! That must be the funniest thing I have ever heard.”

There was a massive pause and then Dean started laughing again.

Castiel stood very still, his hand an inch from the door, as he debated if he should knock nonetheless.

He carefully listened. Adamantly ignoring the pang he felt in his chest, he then shifted on his feet, took a deep breath, and braced himself to knock.

But he froze once more at hearing Dean’s laughter.

“That’s so great. You’re great.” There was a pause, and then Dean added, “I know. I’m looking forward to it too.”

Castiel didn’t lose any more time and walked away from Dean’s door like it had been set on fire. He passed Sam’s room and went back to the kitchen, which was now empty, to Castiel’s partial relief.

He dropped the doggy bag on the counter.

Now what?

What is a poor sap like myself supposed to do with this now?

Upset, but trying to remain positive, even though he wasn’t sure why he should, he grabbed one of the markers on the fridge’s door that served to add items to the grocery list. He wrote “For Dean” on the bag and meticulously put it in the fridge.

Castiel left the kitchen in a hurry before he would change his mind and simply throw the pie into the compost, and went to Sam’s room without any mention to his roommate of the pie or what had just happened.

Chapter Text

“All right, listen up, you punks! I have a bad news,” said Rufus, the football coach, on Friday morning in the locker room. “Well, it could be good news. It depends which way you wanna look at it.” The whole football team had been called in for an emergency meeting, which created a lot of anxiety in the air on a day of a big game. “I don’t know the specifics yet, but I’ve just been informed this morning that tonight’s game is cancelled.”

The room roared with outrage and protestations.

And then there was Dean who stood there, smiling.

“I know,” continued the coach, “I know. It’s unexpected and incredibly rare. Unheard of. Whatever. We win by default, but I know it’s still not the same.”

“What happened?” asked a player in the back.

“I don’t know every detail yet, but from what I was told, more than half the other team can’t play. Some of their players have been suspended from the team and others are ‘ill,’” he said, gesturing air quotes, while rolling his eyes. “I have no idea what is going around, but it’s either an epidemic or something worst. Which proves that you better keep your heads out of the gutter, you hear me?”

“Yes, coach.”

“The freaking weather hasn’t helped either. They have been hit with multiple severe storms over the past few days, and it’s still going on. The road conditions on their end are bad. This is a travesty. I feel sorry for them. It’s like someone cursed them, but that’s what is happening.” He paused, holding a severe look on his face for a good minute, only to suddenly burst into a heavy fit of laughter. Some of the players laughed nervously with him, but then immediately stopped when he briskly came to a halt himself, and shot them a murderous look. “Now, it doesn’t mean you get to slack off and pamper yourself. We will hold our usual practice tonight after school.”

“Are we going to have an additional training session afterwards too?”

“Yeah, instead of the game?”

“Hell, no!” said Rufus. “Now, you stop that or I’m going to start calling you Greenberg for the rest of the year. Yeah, that’s right. I know things!” he said, puffing up his chest. “After our usual practice tonight, I’ll see your sorry butts tomorrow at noon. It’s bad enough I have to do that on Sabbath day. No, tonight I get to relax and do my own stuff for once.”

“Like what Coach?”

“None of your damn business, Henriksen. Now, tonight you ain’t my headaches. After practice, you’re free to whatever you want. This is a one-time thing boys. It will never happen again. Enjoy it while you can. Don’t be the asshats I know some of you may be.” He let out a deep sigh, looking at them, and when they remained perfectly still, he then said firmly, “Now, get out.”

Some players were somewhat cheery at the prospect of getting a night off, but the rest were mostly disappointed there wouldn’t be a game.

Dean’s first reaction was relief.

Relieved that his parents wouldn’t miss a match after all.

Relieved that he was suddenly free to spend the rest of his evening as he pleased.

His entire evening.

Which, at some point, he was supposed to spend with Lisa.

Right, Lisa.

And then his mind turned to another matter entirely.

Which was that Sam and Castiel were equally free to do whatever they wanted for their entire evening, as well. Anywhere. Even at home. Utterly unsupervised.

And just like that, Dean became the grumpiest player who was upset that the game had been cancelled.

 

In his Economics class that same morning, Dean was sitting next to Castiel. He had never been more thrilled to be in Economics. Not because of the class itself, obviously, but rather because it was finally just the two of them. No Lisa. No Sam. No Benny. No one.

The only problem was that this particular class offered very few opportunities for teamwork, thus making interaction with other students impossible.

Their teacher, Zachariah Adler, who insisted that his students call him Mr. Zach, was, despite what his self-appointed nickname may have suggested, a real asshole. He had a strict no-speaking policy and demanded absolute focus from his students.

Dean felt desperation fill his heart.

He wanted to gain Castiel’s attention, but his friend was apparently resolute to listen to the lesson and take detailed notes.

Then, something buzzed on Castiel’s desk.

Dean watched Castiel, slowly and carefully, slide his phone from under his textbook, making sure Mr. Zach wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing.

Castiel looked at his notification and smiled. He typed a short reply and put his phone away before returning to his detailed notes with a smirk on his lips.

Not a word to Dean.

Not a look.

Not a single acknowledgement of what this was about.

Nothing. As if it had never happened.

But he was still smiling.

“Mr. Winchester?”

Dean snapped out of it. He turned to his teacher, worried. “Yes?”

“Your attention should be directed at what is happening in front of the classroom, not next to you. Instead of admiring Mr. Novak taking notes perhaps you should try doing so yourself?”

Some people giggled. Dean nodded awkwardly, praying he didn’t look as embarrassed as he felt. After a harsh look, the teacher continued with the lesson and Dean nervously glanced at his friend.

Castiel was staring at him. He mouthed, “Are you okay?”

Dean nodded.

Castiel observed him for a second and then went back to his notes.

Not without failing to look at his phone every once in a while.

And not saying anything about it to Dean, either.

Oh, yeah. That’s it.

This is too much.

Dean had had enough.

He needed to do something.

Fast.

He just wasn’t sure what.

 

“You what?”

“I have to postpone our date tonight.”

Lisa was staring at him, stunned.

“You’re cancelling on me?”

“No, I’m postponing it.”

The words came out of Dean’s mouth the instant he had successfully met Lisa at her locker during recess.

“Dean…I just heard there won’t be any game tonight. I thought…you know, I thought that was great. I thought it would mean we could spend more time together, but you want to cancel it all together?”

“I want to reschedule it,” he corrected her. “Please? I’m sorry. I’ll totally make it up to you, I swear.”

Lisa, pursing her lips, didn’t seem too pleased with that suggestion and Dean couldn’t blame her.

“Tomorrow,” she finally said.

“What?”

“I’ll accept to postpone it. If we do something tomorrow instead.”

Dean frowned. “Aren’t we already doing something tomorrow? I thought we agreed to go to the party when I called you last night?”

“Yes, that’s true. But that’s not the same. A party is loud, with a lot of people and—and that is the opposite of what we were planning tonight. Can we do something just the two of us together before the party?”

Dean swallowed.

“I have practice for most of the afternoon.”

“Perfect,” she said. “How about you come to my house after that? We’ll hang out and slowly get ready for the party. That won’t be until late in the evening anyway.”

Dean tried to think of an excuse. He hated himself for it, but he was still doing it.

And nothing. Not one acceptable excuse came to mind.

Because the truth is that everything she just said makes perfect sense.

She wasn’t being high maintenance. Or clingy. She was being reasonable. Understanding, even. All this proved was that she wanted to spend time with him.

Once again, everything Dean had always wanted.

And yet, here he was, desperately trying to get out of it.

Like this wasn’t what he wanted above everything else.

Like this wasn’t what he desperately and wholeheartedly desired.

But what if I’m wrong?

What if this is just all in my head?

What if I really want Lisa but I’m just freaking out?

Isn’t this what they call self-sabotage or something?

There was only one way to find out.

“Sounds good,” he said. “I’ll meet you at your house tomorrow after practice.”

After leaving Lisa at her locker, Dean hurried down the hallway to find Castiel.

Dean was delighted to find him at his locker.

He was swapping his books.

He was also laughing while doing it.

Castiel was laughing at something Sam was telling him.

Because Sam was standing right beside him.

Again.

All right. Let's do this, Sammy.

Dean advanced towards them.

“Hey, guys!” he announced himself.

“Dean, hey,” said Sam, in the most casual way, totally undisturbed or unthreatened by his brother’s presence.

But he turned his eyes on Dean, taking a good look at him. Dean knew Sam was assessing his state in regards of the night before, and was silently asking him, "Are we cool?"

Dean nodded with a faint smile, which was returned by Sam as well. And that was the first step in clearing the air. No matter what, they always knew they could never stay mad at each other for very long.

“Hello again, Dean,” said Castiel, focusing on his task.

“You guys heard about the game?”

“Yeah. Sorry, Dean. But at least, Mom and Dad won’t miss it.”

“I thought of that too. So, you guys have plans tonight?”

They both exchanged a look.

“No, we don’t,” said Castiel. “Not so far.”

“Now that the game is cancelled, we were just going to take it easy, I guess,” said Sam. “Why?”

“Awesome,” said Dean, trying to not think about what that could have entailed. “Because I think we finally can do something together. All of us.”

“With you?” asked Sam. “Tonight?”

“I know the game is cancelled, but I thought you still had a date with Lisa tonight?”

“Nope. Not anymore. Long story, but it got postponed to tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow is the party,” pointed out Sam.

“Yeah, I know. But we’ll do something before. Anyways, that’s not the point. The point is that we finally can do something all three of us. If, um—if you want.” 

Sam and Castiel glanced at each other again, and then both beamed at Dean.

“That’s great, Dean,” said Sam. Castiel nodded.

“It is?” he asked.

“Of course. We barely saw you this whole week.”

A lot of it was your doing, Sammy.

But I don't want to repeat last night. You still lied and I'd like to know why, but I want to put this behind us more. 

And I'm happy you want to hang out with me.

“So we’re cool with this plan?”

“Absolutely.”

“What are we doing, though?”

“I don’t know,” confessed Dean.

“I have an idea!” said Sam. “It’s super cheesy but I vote that we hit all our classic to-do list from our old sleepover days. I’m talking board games while watching a movie marathon and all that.” Castiel squinted at Sam. “I mean, Cas has been with us this whole week. I think it’s just proper that we do that.”

“We can’t use the basement, Sam,” Dean reminded him.

“True, but Mom and Dad will be gone the whole night, so I guess it’s fair game if we take over the living room during that time. No? What do you guys think? I mean we can start with that…”

“I like it,” said Dean.

“Me as well,” said Castiel.

“Great,” said Sam, picking up his bag up off the floor. “I have to run, but start thinking of a theme for the movies and stuff. Dean, I’m sure you’re building a list of junk food as we speak.”

“You’re not wrong.”

“Good. See you later, guys,” said Sam as he made himself scarce down the hallway, leaving Castiel and Dean alone. Finally.

“Do you really think it’s a good idea?” asked Dean.

“I do, actually. You?” he said after shutting his locker.

“Yeah, me too. The more I’m thinking about it, the more I’m looking forward to it.”

Castiel smiled. Books in hands, he was readying himself to head towards his next class.

But now that they were on their own, and in a position where they could at last exchange words, Dean wanted to voice something he hadn’t been able to on the day before. And while he might be able to have silent conversations with Sam, the same could not be said with Castiel.

“Cas, um, wait.” He cleared his throat. “I—um. I—about the other night, I—I’m sorry. For snapping at you. Actually, I’m also very sorry I haven’t been much present this past week. ”

He swallowed, as he studied Castiel’s expression.

“I know you were busy, Dean,” his friend gently replied. “And I had stuff too. As for the other night, it’s okay. It wasn’t that bad.”

Dean shook his head. “You know that’s not true. You were being nice and I was, well the opposite. To put it mildly. I shouldn’t have done it. I’m sorry.”

It was Castiel’s turn to carefully observe his friend’s face for a moment. Then, he lifted his hand to reach Dean’s arm, but stopped mid-way and crossed it over his chest. He looked down, briefly, and then lifted his eyes to meet Dean’s. “In that case, apology accepted, Dean.”

Dean stared at him, with relief spreading in his heart. “Thank you.” 

The bell rang and the crowd around them started to get a little frantic. “Are you still having lunch with Lisa today?”

“No,” said Dean, eagerly. “I—I have to meet Mr. Zach about—he wants to have a discussion about this morning. But I should be good to meet up with you and Sam after. I don’t know how long it will take…”

“We’ll be there.”

“Cool.”

“Cool.”

They remained standing still, facing each other and both waiting for the other to say something.

 “We should probably get to class,” said Castiel.

“Right. See you at lunch. Hopefully.”

Dean turned down the hallway to reach his locker in a hurry. He walked into at least three people on his way there.

And he turned back on his path when he realized he was going in the wrong direction.

Chapter Text

“I never understood why people like this game so much. It’s so depressing,” said Castiel, taking off a pawn from his car, due to a divorce.

“Says the guy whose favourite game is literally about murders,” scoffed Dean.

“It’s engaging. Dark, perhaps, but still.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I like it. Solving a murder and all. But before you get killed?”

“It’s a mystery.”

“And Life isn’t?”

Castiel paused. His eyes remained on the game, but he said, “It appears eating junk food makes you profound, Dean. Who knew?”

Dean let out a short laugh. He was paying attention to Castiel, however. Which prompted him to say, “It hasn’t always been your favourite game, though.” He turned the rainbow wheel in the center of the board. “I seem to remember you insisting on always playing Twister at your birthday parties when we were kids,” said Dean with the biggest grin.

“In my defense, I didn’t want to play for that reason. I was a child. I genuinely thought it was just funny to try not falling on everybody else. I liked that there was no strategy involved and that you had to move. Like your body.”

“Huh-uh, yeah, all you are doing is reinforcing the idea that all you wanted as a kid was to be pressed against other people’s bodies.”

Castiel shook his head, laughing. “It wasn’t like that.”

“I know, but only you could have not seen it any other way though.”

After their plan for the evening had been set in motion that morning, the rest of the day had gone by quickly and smoothly.

Well, perhaps not as quickly as Dean would have wished, but not as problematic as the rest of the week had been, nonetheless.

In fact, for the first time that week, everything felt as it usually was.

Dean had joined Sam and Castiel after meeting with Mr. Zach as he had said he would. Everyone had seemed to be joyful and had kept discussing about the evening with eagerness. With no weirdness to be found.

Like it always had been, but perhaps even better, thought Dean.

When the three boys had left school, they had their regular drive, where Sam complained about the music, and Castiel said something overly obvious, which somehow always made Dean laugh. They had stopped at the grocery store and had bought a mountain of junk food while debating what they should watch later that night. Sam and Dean had argued over which toppings they should prioritize for the pizzas. Sam claimed Dean’s choices always lacked vegetables.

Once home, Castiel had been in charge of setting up the board games, while Sam had dropped a million pillows on one of the couches. He had then pushed some of the furniture in the living room around to gain a lot of space, just like Sam and Dean used to do in the days when forts were involved.

Dean had ordered the pizzas, including a vegetarian one to keep Sam quiet. Once the order had been under way, he had brought all the junk food into the living room, with glasses and a panoply of bowls.

They had fun. They played board games they hadn’t played in years. They also opted to have a marathon of Stranger Things ‘in the background.’ They all knew it by heart and agreed it was never a bad time for a re-watch.

Everything seemed as it always had been.

Dean was happy. He was relieved at the turn of events. It hadn’t been awkward with Sam around. Sam hadn’t been all over Castiel, or vice versa, like Dean had initially feared. It was nearly just like the good old days.

Nearly.

 

As the night progressed, they ingested a ridiculous amount of junk food, while playing a various amount of board games. Sam eventually dozed off one of the couches, with the bowl of popcorn sill resting on his stomach.

After finishing their game, Castiel and Dean decided to take a break and lounge on the other couch. Each seated at each extremity of the couch, Castiel occupying the right side and Dean the left one, they continued watching the show, while hearing Sam’s soft snores nearby.

It was late. Sam’s current state was a rather massive indication of that fact.

But with Castiel at his side, Dean felt restless. He was tired, but not sleepy. Far from feeling sleepy.

Also, it was perhaps in his imagination, but it appeared to him that every time Castiel shifted position, because of leg cramps or other things of the sort, he always ended up a bit closer to Dean.

Time passed. Dean and Castiel’s legs were practically touching. And Dean found himself noticing how Castiel, seemingly unaware of this fact, had his shirt slightly lifted (because of the way he was seated) just enough to reveal a bit of skin around his lower abdomen.

Which Dean would have described as lean and firm. To begin with.

And Dean couldn’t stop glimpsing at it.

Dean never used to focus on this type of detail before.

But he was that night.

Trying his best to look in front of him, and not be preoccupied with the proximity of their bodies, he wondered if he should say something or not.

Castiel stirred again, but instead of simply shifting as he did before, he fully stood up to stretch, only to sit back down next to Dean.

Their thighs were touching. Dean swallowed.

Then, out of nowhere, with his left hand carefully crossing over Dean’s stomach and close to his hip, and without as much as a graze, Castiel expertly retrieved the bag of chips that happened to be situated to Dean’s left. And this, all while he continued staring at the screen the entire time and not looking at Dean or where his hand went.

Once he was holding the bag of chips properly and his hands were away from Dean, he said nothing, ate his chips and continued watching the screen like he had not just invaded Dean’s personal space.

The room suddenly felt a million degrees warmer, and Dean was desperately trying to keep his composure, as well as hoping that Castiel couldn’t hear how fast his heart was beating.

Did he just—

What the hell was that?

Like what the hell was that?

If it had been anybody else—anybody else—Dean wouldn’t have doubted for one second that he had just been hit on.

But this was Castiel and he had his own category. Especially where personal space was concerned.

Whatever this was, however, Dean had never reacted to it as strongly as he just had before.

It had taken everything he had not to move a muscle, and Dean had no idea how he hadn’t reached for Castiel’s hand. Probably due to shock.

He discreetly glanced at Castiel from the corner of his eye.

Castiel was still snacking on chips and watching the episode. But not long after, no doubt because he felt Dean’s gaze on him, he turned his attention towards Dean.

Stares.

Silence.

Then, as awkwardness was actively growing between them, Castiel extended the bag to Dean and said, “You better take it away from me or I’ll eat it all.” Dean nervously laughed and grabbed the bag without thinking. Castiel wiped his hands together and sank into the couch to continue watching television.

Sam let out a snore and stirred slightly to his side, without disturbing the bowl of popcorn still on his stomach.

Not knowing what to do with himself, Dean started eating from the bag.

A considerable amount of time passed again without anything else happening, until Dean realized the dryness of his throat meant he had had enough of chips.

“I need something other than this,” he said, tossing the bag away.

“What do you want? We’ve got more than this kind.”

Dean shook his head. “No, no chips,” he said with a disgusted face. Tired, but suddenly inspired, he then added, “I’d go for pie. Pie makes everything better.” He let out a deep sigh. “And I can’t believe I forgot to get pie,” he complained.

A smile formed itself on Castiel’s lips as he looked at Dean.

“I think I can help you there, Dean,” he said, beaming at him.

He stood up and went to the kitchen. Dean remained seated on the couch, but his eyes followed Castiel with curiosity.

Castiel retrieved a doggy bag from the fridge and lifted it for Dean to see.

“Come here.”

After glancing at Sam, who was still snoring on his couch, Dean joined Castiel at the kitchen island and saw an open box containing a small pie. Castiel handed him a fork and went to get himself a glass of water.

“We had this and I didn’t know?” said Dean, ecstatic.

“You could warm it up if you—” started suggesting Castiel, but before he could even finish his sentence, Dean was already taking his first bite.

 He moaned, shutting his eyes. “Where did this miracle came from?” he said, licking his fork.

“I got it for you yesterday,” said Castiel. “I know apple is your favourite, but blueberry was fresh out of the oven. Well, it was yesterday.”

Dean, taken aback, froze and stared at him. “What?”

Castiel put down his glass and returned to Dean’s side. He slid down the doggy bag with “For Dean” written on it. “On my way back last night, I stopped by that bakery on Lazarus. I—I bought it for you. But by the time I got home, you were already in your room.”

Dean was studying every inch of Castiel’s face as if he was trying to find a lie.

“You got this for me?”

Castiel nodded.

“Even though I was in my room, I was still up last night. Why…why didn’t you tell me?”

“I was—I was going to, but you were busy,” said Castiel, turning his eyes on the pie instead of Dean. “I was about to knock, but then I heard you. You were on the phone with Lisa.” Dean shut his eyes, resting his body against the counter. “I didn’t want to interrupt you, nor did I want to eavesdrop,” continued Castiel. “So, I just went to bed. I just went to Sam’s room. I hoped I might catch you before the end of the night, but I never heard you come out of your room.”

Dean examined Castiel intensively and became immensely aware of their proximity, once more. Of how Castiel’s hand on the counter was not that far from his.

“I meant to ask,” said Castiel, “how is everything with Lisa? You must be looking forward to tomorrow.”

Dean’s stomach dropped. Great. Now I feel like shit. Again.

“Lisa is…” started saying Dean, but stopped mid-sentence, and then laughed softly. Keeping his eyes on Castiel, who was still staring at the pie, he swallowed. “You know what, Cas?” He delicately pushed the pie away.

With the box gone, it allowed him room to slowly slide his hand closer, as he took a step towards his friend.

Castiel returned his focus to Dean.

“What?”

Both were facing each other, inches apart. And both had rested a hand on the counter with their fingers almost touching.

“I—I don’t really want to talk about Lisa, right now,” he said, looking at Castiel right in the eyes with no intention of diverting his gaze.

Castiel swallowed.

All Dean had to do was to reach for his hand. Lean in. Step in. Anything.

“Dean, I—”

“That was not what she said and you know it, John Winchester!” they heard Mary say as she burst through the front door, followed by John, who was laughing wholeheartedly.

Castiel immediately distanced himself from Dean and reached for his glass of water on the opposite counter.

Sam, after jumping up from the couch because of the sudden commotion, let out a loud groan, realizing he had managed to drop the entirety of the popcorn bowl on the floor.

Castiel hurried to help Sam clean up the mess, while Dean, still in the kitchen area, was not able to take his eyes off of him.

With a heavy heart, Dean took another bite of his pie, trying not to resent the fact that he had parents in that moment.

 

After a short clean up in the living room, which occurred under a brief interrogation by the parents, everyone called it a night and went to bed.

Dean rushed to the bathroom to put cold water on his face. After a minute of calming himself down, he brushed his teeth and hurried to his bedroom. He shut his door and sat on the edge of his bed for a moment.

He could hear Sam and Castiel running in and out of Sam’s bedroom and the bathroom, getting ready for bed, but Dean was not paying attention to the specifics of their bedtime routine.

What the fuck was that?

He was severely debating whether or not he should walk to Sam’s room and ask if he could speak to Castiel alone.

I could do that. Right?

Would it be weird?

Yes. Very.

Why is it weird?

Because speaking is not the only thing you want to do with Castiel.

Maybe. Maybe not.

But you want to find out. Like a lot.

I have the right to do that.

In front of Sam? Or because of Sam?

This has nothing to do with Sam.

Doesn’t it, though?

No, it doesn’t.

Then what’s stopping you?

I—I don’t know.

If Castiel wasn’t in Sam’s room right now—if he was in the living room, or somewhere Sam wouldn’t be present—what would you do?

I don’t—don’t know.

Or is it about Lisa?

FUCK, I SAID I DON’T KNOW.

I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING TO ME.

Don’t you, though?

Dean stood up in frustration and undressed himself to change into his pajamas.

“Dean, I meant to ask, cou—” said Castiel, as he rushed in through the room after a short knock, but stopped dead at the sight of him. Dean was standing by his bed, bare-chested and in his boxers, as he was half way done pulling up his pajama pants. “Sor—sorry,” said Castiel, trying to avert his eyes, but completely failing at it. For half a crazy second, Dean was tempted to let his pants drop to the floor.

But he didn’t.

Instead, in a gratuitously slow manner, Dean pulled up his pants, while looking directly at his friend.

Castiel’s eyes followed Dean’s hands all the way up to his waist, and took note of every inch and curve the pants had covered.

“I should have—I shouldn’t have just walked in.” He remained still, unsure if he should leave or not.

“It’s okay.”

They both took in each other’s allure.

Castiel was wearing plaid pajama pants with Sam’s ridiculous purple shirt.

And it was too tight for him.

Sure, he was wearing Sam’s clothes, which annoyed Dean on some level, but seeing Castiel with a shirt so tight it might as well have been skin was quite the sight. He wasn’t bare-chested as Dean was, but his shirt didn’t leave much to the imagination either.

And the vivid color made Castiel’s hair even darker.

And yes. Castiel’s hair. Somehow, perhaps by changing his clothes, Castiel had managed to acquire the sexy bed hair look.

I want to see this everyday.  Or night.

Actually, no.

I’d much prefer to be the cause of this everyday. Or night.

Castiel kept crossing and uncrossing his arms over his chest, like he didn’t know what to do with them.

Dean decided that wearing his t-shirt might not be entirely necessary in that moment. Staying shirtless in front of Castiel was, in fact, a much better idea.

It was hardly the first time that Castiel had seen Dean like this. They had both seen each other wearing much less than this during the summer season.

But in that moment, given the past few days—and that very night—and also, perhaps, because they were both of them standing in Dean’s bedroom, alone, it felt different.

Castiel’s eyes lingered on every inch of Dean’s chest. They even ventured much lower than his chest.

And Dean knew it. And he gladly let him do it.

Dean took one step forward, no more, no less. “Cas? What were you saying?”

That’s when Castiel finally met Dean’s eyes, snapping out of it. Yet, he still remained somewhat distracted. “I—I was…I was saying…I—” Castiel licked his bottom lip.

Holy shit.

You forgot, didn’t you?

You saw me, and you forgot what you were going to say.

“I—I me—meant to ask at what time you were gonna be at the party tomorrow?”

Liar.

“That’s what you wanted to ask me?”

Castiel slowly nodded.

Lies.

But it’s okay.

“Dunno. Probably around nine?”

I lie, too.

And I see I should stop.

“Cas?”

“Yes?”

Stay.

Stay here.

Stay here with me, tonight.

“Night, Cas.”

“Good night, Dean.”

Chapter Text

Standing still in the middle of his room after Castiel had left and shut the door behind him, Dean had taken a good minute before moving again.

Feeling the urge to barge into Sam’s room rising in him, Dean rushed directly to his bed with trembling legs.

He slid under his bed covers as fast as possible, turned off the light, and lay on his back, staring at the ceiling, while purposely placing both of his arms over the covers on each side. Because, reasons.

Ready to jump out of his skin, he judged that acting like nothing was out of the ordinary was the best way to approach whatever had just occurred.

Ignore it and it will go away.

Nothing happened.

Nothing happened.

Nothing happened.

He shut his eyes, attempting to quiet his mind.

But it was impossible.

Sleep was impossible.

Rest was impossible.

All he was thinking was of Castiel.

Cas in the other room.

Cas with his fucking tight shirt.

With his hair.

And his lustful eyes

He felt his heart beating faster.

And his heart was not the only thing he felt. Another kind of discomfort demanded his attention.

Still lying on his back, Dean lifted his head to fix his pillow. He also slightly twisted his hips, hoping it would help the situation.

It didn’t. Evidently.

Swallowing, he readjusted one leg, hoping it would pass.

But it still didn’t.

He attempted to focus his mind on disturbing ideas such as being forced into a vegan diet plan. Being caught on a ten hour flight. Baby being set on fire. Anything.

But his thoughts always flew back to lascivious blue eyes.

Dean was becoming restless.

The more he resisted by attempting to ignore it, the more scenarios were building up in his mind.

Cas reaching out for me on the couch.

Cas pulling me closer to him in the kitchen.

Cas rushing into my room a few seconds earlier than he had when I was only in my underwear.

Or better yet.

Cas leaving his bunk right now and joining me.

Cas lying next to me. Kissing down my neck softly. Sliding his hand down my chest. Making me tremble all over just by whispering my name.

Me tasting his lips. Cas moaning, as he pressed himself against me. As I run my fingers through his hair.

His goddamn hair. And Cas looking at me with eyes filled with desire, while licking his lips and wanting more.

Dean quivered at the thought.

That last one hadn’t been a scenario. It had happened and Dean wanted to experience that moment on an infinite loop.

In a final and desperate attempt of resistance, he rested one of his hands flat on his chest, hopelessly wishing it would be enough.

Telling himself that it was all he needed.

Nothing more.

But fighting it was pointless.

He couldn’t help it.

And he needed relief.

Dean swallowed, defeated.

He slowly slid his trembling hand under the covers, against his belly and down his pants.

He shut his eyes, held his breath and started stroking himself.

With images already swarming in his mind, it wasn’t long before he turned on his side, and buried down a small cry in his pillow.

 

And that was precisely what occupied Dean’s mind, still, the following morning at breakfast time. His encounter with Castiel in his bedroom.

And why he had had to change his pajama pants and underwear in the middle of night.

He desperately tried not to, but all Dean could think of when he was eating a piece of bacon that morning was what had happened the night before.

And it was a big problem.  

Especially considering that he was surrounded at the dinning table by the rest of his family and Castiel, who were all helping themselves to chocolate waffles, all kinds of eggs and crispy bacon, while happily sharing pleasantries.

It certainly didn’t help either that he felt that his father, who was sitting next to him, was paying particular attention to him that morning.

Even though he didn’t see it, Dean knew exactly what type of stare John was giving him. This was the I’m-looking-at-you-with-my-x-ray-vision-right-now-hoping-I-can-read-your-thoughts look. The one John gave people when he knew something was up.

Dean attempted the best he could to act normally. He focused on his breakfast. He didn’t look at his father.

Above all else, however, he avoided gazing at Castiel, in his general direction, never mind at his eyes. He was practically blushing by simply thinking about him, he didn’t want to find out what would happen if he would actually look at the guy. Mere proximity was already dangerous enough.

But this task turned out to be much more difficult than he had thought, when Sam and Castiel were laughing avidly on the other side of the table.

A sight that left Dean fearful he had misread the situation the night before. And with anxiety rapidly spreading through chest, he also knew what it meant.

He couldn't denying it any longer.

And he had to fess up. He had to tell Castiel how he felt.

And he needed to act soon.

Yes.

But there were many problems with this idea.

First, he had to do something about Lisa. Regardless of the outcome of his confession to Castiel, he had to come clean to Lisa about this. Even if they weren’t technically official, that was just decent courtesy and Dean felt bad that he hadn’t done so already. He liked her and hurting her was the last thing he wanted. But the previous night was undeniable proof of whom his heart truly yearned for. 

He wasn’t sure how much detail he would give her, but he knew that he ought to put an end to it.

Dean refused to do this over the phone or, God forbid, a text. He felt he owed her better than that.

He also wanted the whole Lisa debacle behind him before speaking with Castiel. He believed that this way would not only make him feel less guilty about Lisa, but that it would additionally emphasize his true intentions when he would share his feelings to his friend.

Also, he was a fucking coward.

No matter how much he wanted to, he knew that not a single word would come out of his mouth if he attempted this conversation with his friend at that very moment. Lessening the guilt would hopefully give him sufficient amount of courage to confess.

Alas, Lisa was not the only issue. There was also the Sam factor to consider.

Dean couldn’t guess with certainty how Castiel would react to his advances. He knew for sure, however, that confessing such a thing to him, just as Sam had started showing him interest, was making Dean feel like an asshole.

That was a dick move.

And it troubled Dean deeply.

Dean had observed something growing between Sam and Castiel this past week.

And the idea of crashing in and putting on a move, while knowing full well it would create drama and make everything complicated for everyone…

No. Dean didn’t like it.

It was a horrible and shitty feeling, a pit in his stomach that physically ailed him every time he acknowledged the possibility of it.

He didn’t want this for Sam. He didn’t want this for Castiel, either.

This was a fucking mess. No matter how he looked at it, it seemed that someone would get hurt and it made him almost reconsider everything.

But he knew he had to do it. He had to be honest.

That was the plan.

So, he decided that he would head out to his football practice after breakfast. Only, he would leave earlier than usual and stop by Lisa’s first and tell her the truth this very morning. Then, he would assist to his football practice, and head home afterwards.

And he would find Castiel alone, in the afternoon, later that night, or at some point later on that day and tell him.

Then he would have to deal with the consequences.

 

 

Sam didn’t know what to make of Dean at breakfast. He behaved strangely still, but differently than he had this past week.

He wasn’t fuming in his corner, ignoring everyone.

He wasn’t pretending to be fine when all evidence pointed to the contrary—something Sam had always found extremely aggravating.

He wasn’t rude or snapping at anyone either.

No, he was quiet and seemingly trapped in his own mind, evidently mulling things over by himself, and Sam wasn’t sure it was an improvement.

Not long after breakfast, Dean announced that he needed to leave for his practice earlier than usual. He waved goodbye to his parents and told a faint “See ya both later” to Sam and Castiel. Before Dean stepped out of the house, however, Sam had distinctively caught him staring at Castiel for a good minute, looking glum, as if he was weighing on something. Whatever it was, Dean remained silent, opened the door and left.

Just as Sam and Castiel were about to get dressed for the day, Mary brought them a basket filled with freshly done laundry. She then announced, apologetically, that she wouldn’t be able to do the rest of it until the next day, and regrettably that included most of Castiel’s clothes. This reminded Sam of something.

“Cas, did you ask Dean about the shirt this morning? You said you didn’t get the chance last night.”

Castiel almost blushed on the spot. “Um, no, I didn’t.”

“You need a clean shirt, sweetie?” asked Mary.

“For the party,” explained Sam. “I thought it would be nice if Cas tried to mix it up a little and I thought Dean could lend him one of his shirts.”

“But I forgot to ask him,” added Castiel.

“Oh, don’t worry, Castiel. I’m sure Dean won’t mind one minute.” She dug through the basket and fished out one of the shirts. “Here. This one will look good on you,” she said, handing it over to Castiel. It was a Led Zeppelin shirt.

“I can’t. This is probably one of Dean’s favourites,” he said, holding the shirt carefully, as if it was a precious treasure.

“All the more reason,” mumbled Sam.

“I promise Dean won’t mind,” said Mary. “It’s dark green. With your blue eyes and dark hair, you’ll look very handsome.”

She picked up the basket and went down the hallway.

Castiel turned to Sam for input.

“You’re seriously gonna argue with my Mom over this?” said Sam, and he knew he’d won the argument.

Castiel agreed to wear Dean’s shirt, but insisted on wearing his dark blue jumper over it, much to Sam’s exasperation. Hopefully, it will get really hot inside and Cas won’t have a choice but to take it off.

After Sam and Castiel helped John load the truck with the equipment he might need in Lebanon, they joined Mary in the kitchen, where she was emptying the fridge of bad food.

“Is the truck ready?”

“Yup. Dad said another twenty minutes before leaving.”

“Good. We have to leave soon if we want to come back at a decent hour tonight,” she sighed. “What about you boys? What are you going to do this afternoon?”

Sam shrugged. “Not sure,” he said looking at Castiel. “We didn’t really think about it. Only thought of the party.”

Mary pursed her lips together. “Will you boys be okay on your own?”

Sam laughed. “We were supposed to be on our own yesterday. We aren’t five, Mom. I think we’ll survive.”

“I know, sweetie. But I just wanted to make sure. There’s food in the fridge—good food, now—and also—”

“We just ate!”

“And snacks, in case you’re hungry,” she continued. “When is Dean picking you up?”

Both Sam and Castiel glanced at each other, uncertain on what to say.

The initial plan, when they had first mentioned the party to John and Mary, had been to hang out during the afternoon until Dean joined them after his football practice, where they would eventually leave for the party later that night.

Together.

Of course, things had changed since then.

When Dean had announced the day before that he would have plans with Lisa before the party, it seemed rather clear that Lisa would accompany Dean to the festivities.

Which meant that they would either catch a ride with Dean and Lisa, or simply meet Dean at Kali’s.

Castiel found little comfort in either of these options.

Especially after their nocturnal encounter from the night before.

In any case, a decision had been made briefly in the morning.

“Um, Dean isn’t picking us up anymore,” said Sam.

“What? No, Sam. Why?” asked Mary.

“Well, um” said Sam, wishing he didn’t have to say it out loud next to Castiel, even though he was fully aware that he already knew the information. “He—um, he’s meeting Lisa after practice.”

“And that means he can’t pick up his brother and best friend?”

“No, but—we just agreed we’d go ourselves instead,” said Castiel.

Mary sighed.

“Mom, it’s okay. It’s not very far. Walking distance. A bit.”

“That’s not the point, Sam. That wasn’t the deal. Your father and I agreed that you boys, all three of you, could go if you stayed together and look out for each other.”

“Mom, we’re not shipping off to war. We’re going to a party a few blocks away. Where Dean will still be present, by the way.”

Mary remained silent, evidently still not happy with their answer.

“How about I ask Gabe to drive us there instead?” suggested Castiel. Sam stared at him with stupefaction.

“Would he do that?” asked Mary.

“I can ask,” said Castiel, pulling out his phone. “I suppose we’d have to leave for the party much earlier than planned, however, as Gabe will have lots to do. But that way we will already be there. Extra time with him, I guess,” he said, glancing at Sam briefly. He then looked back at Mary, when he added, “And Dean will still give us a ride back home.”

You’re a fucking genius, Cas. Sam knew that his mother would agree to this alternative.

She rested on one leg, thinking about it, and then warned Sam, even though it was Castiel’s idea, “I want visual evidence that you are safe and sound with Gabriel.”

Sam nodded eagerly. “Done.”

“I mean it, Sam. And Castiel, if it is possible, I would like to speak to Gabriel myself.”

Castiel blinked at this unexpected request, but nodded and withdrew himself from Sam and Mary as he started texting his brother.

Now alone with her youngest son, Mary thought it was the perfect time to remind him of the rules they had set.

“I know, I know, Mom,” pressed Sam. “No drinking or anything of the sort. You know we won’t. ”

“And?”

“And we keep track of each other during the party.”

“You stay together. And?”

“And nobody leaves the party without the others.”

“And?”

Sam sighed. “And we leave if one of the others wants or needs to leave.”

“And?”

“And...” lingered Sam, having run out of things to say.

“And you call your father or me if something is wrong.”

“Mom.”

“Even if you have broken the other rules. You call us.”

“Fine. But we won’t need to.”

“And?” repeated Mary.

“And? There is nothing left!”

“What about curfew?”

“Oh…midnight.”

Mary looked at Sam. Her baby. “That’s right. Not one second later, young man. I don’t care if there was traffic or you boys were doing charitable work by driving a friend home safely, you are all back here by midnight latest.”

“Absolutely. Thank you, Mom.”

 

 

“Come on, Gabe, answer,” muttered Castiel, staring intensively at his phone as if it would help it get a quick reply.

Then three dots appeared beneath his text reading, “Gabe, need to talk to you.”

 

Gabe: What’s up?

Gabe: You’re still coming over, right?

Gabe: You better not be backing out.

 

Castiel exhaled in relief.

 

Cas: No, not backing out.

Gabe: Good.

Cas: But I have a favor to ask.

Gabe: Shoot.

Cas: Is it possible that we (Sam and I) tag along much earlier than planned?

Gabe: Cas, I know you are ever the eager beaver, but getting to the party like ten hours in advance doesn’t fall into the category of being punctual.

Cas: That’s not it.

Cas: We were supposed to come over with Dean, but not anymore because

 

Castiel stopped typing. Because Dean is busy with Lisa. Castiel sighed deeply. He couldn’t even make himself write the rest of that sentence.

 

Cas: Because plans change.

Cas: And we need a lift over there. I know it’s close enough (we could walk), but Mrs. Winchester would prefer if we have a lift there.

Gabe: What about Dean?

 

Castiel groaned. Don’t make me go there, Gabe, I don’t want to.

 

Cas: Busy and he’ll meet us there.

Gabe: I see.

Cas: So would it work with you?

Gabe: I can, but it will have to be very soon. Like within the next hour. And you get to help me do errands and stuff. Deal?

Cas: Fair.

Gabe: And can I ask for one thing?

Cas: What?

Gabe: Can I shake Dean into his senses when I see him? You need to give me an update on that, what’s happening?

Cas: You are NOT allowed to do this. And it’s not important right now.

Gabe: Hmmm…

Gabe: Not important....right now?

Gabe: I am curling my metaphorical moustache.

Gabe: I SMELL DEVELOPMENT.

Cas: Smell all you want.

Gabe: Details, kind sir.

Cas: NOT NOW. Or ever.

Cas: Also

Cas: One more thing I need you to do.

Gabe: Make sure you and Dean will be trapped alone somewhere?

Gabe: ON IT.

Cas: NOO

Cas: Stop.

Cas: This is serious.

Cas: I need to call you right now because Mrs. Winchester would like to speak to you about the lift and party tonight.

Gabe: She wants to talk to me?

Cas: Yes. She probably just wants to double check that I am indeed contacting you or something.

Cas: BE NICE.

Cas: AND TO THE POINT. NO RAMBLING.

Cas: AND NO BAD JOKES.

Cas: NO JOKES AT ALL.

Gabe: You think this is the first time I’ve spoken to a parent?

Gabe: It’s not.

Gabe: Ours may be non-existent, but I still managed to notice a thing or two somehow, you know.

Cas: I know. But please.

 

The reason Castiel didn’t want Gabriel to give Mary a bad impression was not just because of the party situation.

From the few comments he’d heard concerning Gabriel, and this from both Winchester parents over this week alone, he wanted to ensure that Mary (and John) would continue seeing the good side of Gabriel, for his brother’s sake, and, hopefully, for Sam’s sake one day.

Castiel called Gabriel.

“Cas? Am I on speaker phone?”

“No, just me.”

“Okay. I promise I will be nice to your future mother in-law. I’ll go right ahead and ask if I can call her Mom too, so it won’t be weird for you when you start doing it.”

“Gabe. That’s not funny,” he hissed.

“You deserved that,” he said, laughing. “But seriously. I promise. I will be the model civilian that I secretly am. The one I am so well, in fact, that you don’t even know anything about it.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Put the delightful Mrs. Winchester on the phone, please, and I’ll see you and Sam in an hour.”

 Castiel went back to Mary and Sam and nervously gave his phone to Mary.

“Hello, Gabriel?” asked Mary. “This is Mary Winchester.” She paused. Sam and Castiel quickly glanced at each other anxiously. Mary was silent, listening. She didn’t look angry or offended. She was harboring the most neutral expression.

Then she burst into laughter.

Gabe, I specifically said NO jokes.

“I can imagine that, yes,” she said, laughing.  She then walked away from the kitchen island, leaving Sam and Castiel there, waiting. Mary stood close to the living room window and was clearly speaking into the phone, now too far from them to hear anything.

“What do you think they’re saying?” asked Sam. “What do you think he’s saying?”

“I don’t know and I’m afraid to know. I told him no jokes and to be quick.”

Mary burst into laughter again.

“Is…is this good or not? I mean, she’s laughing,” said Sam. “That’s good, right?”

“Depends on what he’s saying.”

“What do you mean?” asked Sam.

“Nothing,” said Castiel, praying Gabriel wasn’t saying anything about Dean.

Mary nodded, smiling, and after a few short sentences, she then hung up.

“All right,” she said, returning Castiel his phone. “Everything seems to be in order. Sam,” she said, turning to him, “you send me a photo of you three when Gabriel arrives, like we discussed.”

“I will.”

“You boys enjoy yourselves, and remember: midnight and together.”

“And no drinking and keep track of each other,” added Sam. “We know.”

“And call us if there’s a problem,” she added as she both hugged them.

Chapter Text

Castiel took a selfie with Sam’s phone, showing all three of them buckled up in Gabriel’s car. He returned the phone to its owner, who was in the back seat, for him to send the picture to his parents, since John and Mary had already left by the time Gabriel had arrived at the Winchester residence.

As they were driving away from the house, Castiel told Sam, “I took two of them. I think you will appreciate the first one.”

Sam checked his phone and cleared his throat. “Yes, I—I see it.” Castiel had taken the liberty of reframing one of the pictures, which was now only showing Sam leaning in from the back seat, with his head right next to Gabriel’s, and both of them smiling brightly.

“I hope you like it,” said Castiel, amused.

“I do.” Sam cleared his throat, again. “Thank you.”

Assessing Sam’s shy smile, Castiel felt suddenly inspired. “I have a proposition,” he announced, lifting his hand.

“Yes, Mr. Novak,” said Gabriel, teasing his formality. “You may have the floor.”

Castiel squinted at him. “How about you two go ahead and do the party’s errands without me? You can drop me off at the library for the time being and pick me up when it’s done.”

Sam stopped breathing and his eyes widened.

Uno problemo, mi hermanito,” said Gabriel. “You said you would help me with my errands and putting this thing together. That was the deal.”

“You know I will complain the whole time during the errands, so wouldn’t it be better for the both of us that I’m not there? Sam will help you with the errands and I’ll still help you at the house as promised.”

Sam, trying not to look too cheerful at the idea of potential alone time with Gabriel, bit his lips, holding down his smile. He tried his best to shrug in a nonchalant manner, and nodded in response.

Gabriel lifted an eyebrow, and then waved his hand in protest. “He,” said Gabriel, pointing at Sam, “didn’t make me any promises. You did.”

“I don’t mind,” said Sam.

“He doesn’t mind.”

“That is not the point,” said Gabriel. Then he smirked. “All right, all right,” he said, adopting a more joyful tone. “I’ll drop you off at the library, like you want. But don’t you think for a second that I don’t know what this is really about.”

Sam’s eyes went straight at Castiel with panic.

“This,” continued Gabriel, “will not get you off the hook, mister. You still need to inform me about—about that progress. I will hound you about it later on and if you still try to ignore me, I might just be tempted to build you a trap after all. You think about that while you’re at the library.”

So close. Damn it.

“Whatever. Can we go now?”

Gabriel frowned and looked at Sam in his rearview mirror. “Am I losing my mind or did my brother just ‘whatever’ me?” Gabriel turned to Castiel and said mischievously, “Whatever it is we need to discuss, I now know this is gonna be good.”

Castiel mildly regretted his suggestion to leave Sam alone with Gabriel.

 

 

Gabriel had driven Castiel to the library, as it had been agreed on, made sure to call him a dork, and then left to complete the errands with Sam.

The said errands weren’t exactly thrilling, but Gabriel was glad of the company. It consisted mostly of quick stops where he would interact vividly with whoever was there—even a bit of flirting when he felt like it, which, to his surprise, appeared to cause Sam some uneasiness. That’s weird. But okay.

Without dwelling too much on the matter, Gabriel nevertheless warmly introduced him to everyone they met and talked to him with animation while they drove to their next stop.

But then again, it wasn’t without his notice, that Sam was the embodiment of a man of a few words. And oddly enough, the more Gabriel was speaking to him, the quieter Sam seemed to get.

If Gabriel didn’t know any better, he would think he was making Sam feel uncomfortable. Nervous, even. More so than usual. Did I do something wrong?

But an hour into their errands, Sam started to answer with a few actual sentences instead of monosyllabic words.

By the third hour, though still limited with his answers, the tension seemed to have dissipated, so much so, that Gabriel thought he might have had imagined it after all. Sam didn’t trip on his words. He stopped fidgeting in his seat. And he wasn’t nervously playing with his fingers either. He wasn’t exactly a chatter-box, but at least he seemed to be enjoying himself.

After they left Ash’s house where him and Ash—or as Gabriel called him, the master sound guy—discussed briefly the equipment required to fulfill Gabriel’s vision, and Ash assured him it was a done deal, Gabriel suggested to Sam that they should take a mini break to get a snack.

They stopped at a deli just around the corner and decided to stay and eat their subs for a little while.

 “So how has it been with Cas at your house?” asked Gabriel, after taking another bite.

“Okay.”

“Has he been glued to Dean’s side already?”

Sam took a moment to chew before answering.

“Um, Dean hasn’t really been present this week.”

“Right. Lisa Braeden is partially the cause I hear?”

“In part, yes. But work too and stuff. Why do you ask?”

“Just curious. Want to make sure my brother is okay.”

A soft bell rang announcing new customers coming through the door as a small group of teenage girls made their way to the counter. Jessica was one of them and she stopped dead the second she saw Sam. She waved and smiled shyly at him, which prompted Sam to reply with a smile as well. She hurried down the line with her friends, whispering to them. Sam returned to his sub, only to realize that Gabriel was staring at him with the biggest grin on his face.

“What?”

“Who on earth was that?” he said, smirking.

“A friend from school. Jess.”

“Right. Friend.”

“She is,” said Sam, defensively. “Just a friend. What were you saying about Cas?”

“Well, your friend is on her way to say hello,” said Gabriel, ignoring his question.

“Hi, Sam!” She was standing by their table.

“Hey, Jess.”

Jessica remained silent and looked at Gabriel, when Sam finally clued in. “I’m sorry, Jess. This is Gabel—I mean, Gabriel. He’s Cas’ brother.”

“Hello, my lady,” said Gabriel, kissing her hand.

“Oh, hi!” she said, blushing. “Yes, I’ve seen you around school.”

“That would be the place.” Jessica was flat out looking at Sam with ogling eyes, which amused Gabriel greatly. “So Jess, what are you doing on this charming Saturday afternoon?”

“Just hanging out with my friends.”

“Cool,” said Gabriel. “And later?”

“Not sure, why?”

“Well, the gorgeous, yet so humble, Sam here is aiding me with last minute errands for a party tonight. Do you know my friend Kali?”

Her face lit up.

“You two are going to this party? I heard of it.”

“Jess,” Gabriel leaned back on his seat, “not only are we going to be there, we are also helping making it happen.”

“That’s awesome. I…I’d love to go. I was just not sure if I’d know anyone.”

“One, those are often my favorite kind of evenings, so never let that stop you. And two, you now know for a fact that you will know somebody there tonight because Sam will be there, and you and your friends are now personally invited.”

“Um, wow. Okay. I’ll let my friends know. Thank you. I’ll see you there, Sam!” She left, waving behind her.

Sam swallowed and took a large sip of his drink.

Gabriel observed him carefully, lifting an eyebrow.

“Sam?”

“Yes?”

“What are you doing?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why are you still sitting here with me? You know this girl likes you, right? Like, she’s not being subtle at all. Like not even a little.”

“I know,” whispered Sam, taking a bite of his sub.

“I repeat, why are you still sitting here?”

“I’ll see her tonight. Party ambiance is better, right?”

“Right.”

Sam continued eating his sub fully aware that Gabriel was still watching him. He tried to ignore him, but Sam finally asked, “What?”

“Nothing. I’m just deciding if you’re a genius. That or I’m starting to see how you’re related to Dean.”

“Thanks,” snorted Sam, only to frown a moment later. “Wait, why do you say that?”

Gabriel opened his mouth and shut it immediately.

Shit.

“Reasons.” Real smooth. That’ll clarify everything for him.

They stared at each other for a moment, waiting for the other to pursue the rest of the conversation, but neither of them did. Finally, when he was becoming uncomfortable again, Sam informed Gabriel that he needed a second helping, and left the table.

As Sam made his way to the counter to place his order, Gabriel found himself examining Sam more closely.

It hadn’t been without his notice that Sam had grown considerably taller in the last year. Not quite as tall as Dean and Castiel yet, but he was Gabriel’s height now.

And there was something about Sam. There had always been something about Sam. Gabriel had simply deduced it was that prime Winchester quality that both boys conveyed. He wouldn’t dare qualify them as magnetic or sublime, because that sounded corny and a tad absurd, but now that he was assessing Sam’s general allure… His posture. His vibe.

How his thick and long brown hair was falling on his shoulders…

His fine facial features, like his smile. And his lips. His rosy lips.

From his now strong jaw and neck, to his long and slim torso, all the way down to his waist and his already long legs. And that was for starters.

Gabriel wasn’t so sure it was an exaggeration to call him magnetic or sublime anymore.

And he’s smart, too.

I like them smart. I like them smart, a lot.

When he realized that Sam had just caught him staring at him, and he grabbed his phone as nonchalantly as he could and decided it was time to annoy his little brother before Sam returned to the table.

 

 

Practice hadn’t been as bad as Dean had predicted. It felt long and was the last place he wanted to be that afternoon, but at least he wasn’t completely out of it like he had been the rest of the week. And running around the field, working out, doing push-ups and just slamming into someone was something he didn’t mind channeling. He welcomed it.

He hit the showers quickly after practice and headed to Lisa’s.

Yes, to Lisa’s.

While his afternoon had gone efficiently well, the same could not have been said of his morning. Like a nervous wreck, he had stopped by Lisa’s house, just as he had planned. Unfortunately, Lisa hadn’t been home. Her father had informed him that she was working at her mother’s shop that morning.

And the shop was on the other side of town. Dean had been tempted to head over there immediately after leaving Lisa’s house. He wanted this part out of the way so he could get to the one he was looking forward to the most (even if he was equally dreading it): speaking to Castiel.

With one quick look at the directions to the shop, however, he knew that he would barely make it back in time for his football practice, just driving to the shop and then to school. Thus, leaving no time to actually speak to her without feeling rushed.

 Frustrated, Dean then had no choice but to accept that he would have to wait until after his football practice to speak with her. Which would occur at her house, when they were supposed to meet for their afternoon date.

Awesome.

On his way to her house after practice, his mind began wavering once more. The focus and stillness he had finally reached during practice vanished the moment he sat in his car.

He had no idea what he would tell her.

He knew what he should tell her. That was not the problem. The problem was the delivery method.

He wanted to be quick and to the point, but without being an insensitive dick too. And he knew that in order to accomplish such a task, he’d have to answer some questions. Questions that he didn’t really want to answer, out of fear of being hurtful, and, perhaps, out of pure cowardice on his part.

And those questions might unfortunately take a lot of time to answer.

Time leaving Cas and Sam alone. No, don’t do that. Don’t go there. Don’t think about that now. Now is the time to focus on Lisa. That’s all. One thing at a time.

Taking a deep breath, he was determined to find the best method of delivery, something between I’m-really-sorry, while still stating the (unfortunate) truth. He let out a sigh.

Who are you kidding? No matter you say or don’t say, this is gonna fucking suck.

But you still have to do it.

He arrived at Lisa’s for the second time that day, and once out of the car, he kept repeating to himself the little speech he prepared on his way there. He knocked on her door. Come on. Don’t freak. Just say it. Say the words. And be free.

The door opened but it was not Lisa standing there.

It was Amelia.

Shit.

 

Castiel, lounging on one of the comfy chairs of the library he had managed to snatch on his arrival, was looking through the window absentmindedly. Despite the quietness and reassuring familiarity of the place, Castiel had found it extremely difficult to focus all afternoon.

He had tried his best to read the book he had picked at random, but his mind often wondered with apprehension at the evening to come. Social gatherings such as these made him nervous, even more so when there were expectations attached to it.

His mind also circled back to the night before.

Castiel wasn’t sure why he had not shared the specifics with Sam. He had, after all, shared most of the rest with him, but he had kept that part to himself.

Had it not been for the fact that Sam had mentioned the incident earlier that day, or rather, Castiel’s version of the incident that he had told Sam—which consisted of Dean having been already asleep when Castiel had showed up in his room and therefore, no interaction whatsoever having occurred—he would have confused it with a dream.

It still felt like a dream, even though nothing had technically happened.

A fact that amplified his apprehension of the night to come.

Resolute to clear his mind of all anxiousness, Castiel repositioned himself properly in his seat, wanting to enjoy the rest of his book.

Just as he was examining how much he had left to read, his phone buzzed in his pocket.

 

Gabe: Is it someone from my year?

Cas: This again?

Cas: I am not telling you a thing.

Gabe: Come on.

Gabe: Older?

Gabe: Younger?

Gabe: Is this a yes?

Gabe: Is this a no?

Gabe: Do you know if they’ll be at the party tonight?

Cas: How am I supposed to know?

Cas: You’re the one in charge of the thing.

Gabe: Will you tell me if you see them at the party?

Cas: OMG.

Cas: And no.

Gabe: GOD, YOU’RE MEAN.

Gabe: Fine.

Gabe: Then, tell me what happened.

Gabe: With Dean.

Gabe: I’m still waiting for details, you know.

Cas: Aren’t you busy right now?

Gabe: Multitasking, Cas.

Cas: It’s not important.

Gabe: But something happened.

Cas: I didn’t say that.

Gabe: What are you gonna do tonight?

Cas: Go to the party. And leave.

Gabe: With Dean???

Cas: Sam, as well.

Gabe: Could be better, but it’s a start.

Gabe: What can we do to improve this, though?

Gabe: You know what would help?

Gabe: DETAILS!

Cas: Gabe, stop.

Gabe: I know something happened.

Cas: NOTHING HAPPENED

Gabe: Something did not not happened.

Gabe: You hinted at it before.

Gabe: And though he didn’t say it…

Gabe: I wonder what Sam would think about all this.

Gabe: Dean’s his bro. So, like me, he must know something.

Gabe: So I’m thinking

Gabe: Details or

Gabe: Or I tell Sam everything I know and bring him to my side.

Cas: Nice try.

Cas: But Sam already knows most of everything.

 

And Castiel pressed “Send” a little too quickly.

He flinched when he realized what he had typed.

SHIT.

Oh no.

Nononononononononononono.

NO.

FUCK.

Feeling suddenly exposed, Castiel anxiously looked around him as though he needed to monitor any additional potential threat.

But no one else was there, and somehow, the empty area made him feel even more vulnerable instead of safe.

 

Gabe: HE WHAT NOW?

Gabe: LOOK WHO JUST GOT EVEN MORE INTERESTING.

Gabe: I WOULDN’T HAVE DONE IT, YOU FOOL! I WAS KIDDING!

Gabe: IS THIS THE DEVELOPMENT?

Gabe: WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Gabe: DID HE GUESS TOO?

Gabe: I NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING.

Gabe: CASTIEL.

Gabe: EXPLAIN. 

Gabe: Cas.

Gabe: Hello?

Gabe: Just letting you know that Sam is getting more food like not even five feet away from me and if

Gabe: By the time he’s back you’re still ignoring me, I’m going to have a LOT of questions for him.

Cas: GABE NO.

Cas: This is not the time.

Cas: And none of your business.

Cas: AND DON’T SAY ANYTHING.

Cas: Gabe, please. I’ll explain later. But do not drag Sam into this.

Cas: Gabe?

Gabe: WHAT.

Gabe: HAPPENED.

Gabe: TICK.

Gabe: TOCK.

 

Castiel, in utter frustration that he was in a place where screaming or any loud noises wasn’t allowed, took a deep breath.

 

Cas: Like I said. Nothing happened. But. Almost.

Gabe: Sam is almost on his way back

Gabe: And I am NOT satisfied with this answer.

Cas: I’M NOT DONE wait.

Cas: Last night.

Cas: Sam doesn’t know that part but

Cas: Last night.

Cas: Look there might have been a mini moment with Dean on the couch.

Cas: BUT NOTHING HAPPENED.

Cas: And then in the kitchen I gave him the pie.

Cas: And we were standing very close to each other.

Cas: And almost kissed or something idk. But NOTHING HAPPENED.

Cas: And then later on

Cas: I

Cas: Well, I kinda walked in on him.

Cas: In his bedroom.

Cas: When Dean was changing.

Cas: He was dressed.

Cas: Okay, half-dressed.

Cas: Anyways, I kinda stared at him.

Cas: It was very embarrassing.

Cas: And I couldn’t stop.

Cas: And Dean just stood there.

Cas: And then he moved up to me.

Cas: And we talked a bit.

Cas: I’m not gonna lie, I have no idea wtf I said because I had zero focus.

Cas: All I remember is that he was half-naked and I kept staring at him and he didn’t seem to mind.

Cas: And then he wished me good night. I did the same, left and went to bed.

Cas: That’s it.

Cas: Now, Gabe.

Cas: Please.

Gabe: HOLY

Cas: Don’t tell Sam.

Gabe: FUCK.

Gabe: WHY NOT?

Gabe: You just told me he knows everything.

Cas: Not that.

Cas: He doesn’t know about that.

Gabe: And follow up

Gabe: You’re telling me you had two, probably three, occasions to go wild on Dean, and he obviously wanted it and one of them was in his bedroom when he was HALF NAKED, and you did nothing?

Gabe: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Cas: I did NOT have three occasions to whatever this is. I had one at the most. And even then. It’s wrong Gabe.

Cas: Dean is with Lisa.

Gabe: asdfghjkjgfds

Gabe: Listen, Cas. I know it might feel wrong, okay. The timing with Lisa, it’s bad. And I wouldn’t encourage you to walk all over people.

Gabe: But this is Dean.

Gabe: DEAN.

Gabe: I don’t know what is going on with him and Lisa, but it just started. Like not even a week ago.

Gabe: Dean has been eye-fucking you since I don’t even know anymore.

Gabe: And yes, HE HAS. I have seen it. Many times.

Gabe: Maybe he’s doing the exact same thing you are and he’s just waiting for you to confirm you feel it too. How about that?

Gabe: It comes back to the same thing I keep REPEATING to you: there’s only one way to find out.

Gabe: Now, Sam is back. And I need to scream about this to the world, so please quickly explain to me why I can’t tell him?

Gabe: And how is it exactly that he knows everything?

 

Castiel let out a massive sigh of exasperation and put the book away, because he knew he’d have to start typing, and typing fast.

 

Dean stepped away from the doorway, confused. Briefly thinking he was at the wrong house, Amelia signaled him to come in as she yelled at the top of her lungs, “HE’S HERE!”

Dean, still shocked, remained in the same spot until she yanked him inside to shut the door behind them.

A bunch of girls appeared in front of him with Lisa.

“Um, why don’t you give us a minute,” said Lisa to her friends, after assessing Dean’s confused state. She gently pulled Dean towards the kitchen as her friends remained in the living room, giggling. All of them. Except Amelia, who remained with the group, but kept a close eye on Dean. With no giggles or smile.

“Hi, Dean, glad you made it.”

“Hi. Um, me too.”

“You must be wondering what my friends are doing here.”

“A little. I thought this was supposed to be our rain check from last night?”

“I’m sorry. It was,” she said, biting her lip. “But then something came up. One of my friends wanted to hang out this afternoon, and you never said exactly when you’d be here, so she came by. It was only supposed to be in the meantime, but then another of my friends had some drama to relay, and well…” She gestured at her group of friends. “I know I should have told you, but I really wanted to see you. You are obviously off the hook for the rain check. You kept your word. I’m the one who owes you one now.”

“Okay…what is going on here, then?”

Please tell me they are all leaving. I have something to tell you and I’m not doing it when I know there’s a group of girls who will be ready to murder me nearby.

“Well, all my friends are here and we sort of decided to make this HQ to get ready for tonight.”

Fuck. Please tell me I can leave.

“And it would be great if you stayed.”

FUCK.

“They really like you. All of them. Right, Amelia?” Lisa shot a sharp look at her friend not far away at the edge of the living room.

Amelia sighed, and took a good look at Dean, and said, “We were about to order food. Any preferences, Dean?”

Lisa nodded, and turned to him, smiling.

Dean had never thought he would see the day where he had gotten the chance to hang out with a bunch of girls all by himself. And here he was, living the dream, and all he wanted was to get out of this fucking house, running and screaming.

Because now, he didn’t know what to do.

All these girls present evidently destroyed his plan to talk with Lisa.

He couldn’t bring himself to tell Lisa in this fashion.

And if he remained silent, it meant he would have to continue feeling like a lying piece of garbage, not only to Lisa, but also to every single one of these girls for the rest of the day.

Worse, it would also mean that he wouldn’t be able to catch up with Castiel (and Sam) until the party, and he would therefore remain exactly in the same awkward and ethically compromising spot he had found himself with Castiel the night before.

Which was worse. Far worse.

FUCK MY LIFE.

“Dean?”

Dean swallowed, hesitating. And after a brief moment of reflection, where he reasoned that if he stayed, perhaps an opportunity to come clean would present itself, he said, “I’m usually down for anything. But I find that pizza is usually the best bet for people.”

“Perfect. It’s Amelia’s favourite,” said Lisa

“Awesome.” He smiled, hoping it would cover his internal screaming.

 

 

He called me gorgeous. Gorgeous. Me. He called me gorgeous. G-o-r-g-e-o-o-u-s.

He was probably just trying to help me out with Jess…but he still said it. Gabriel called me gorgeous. The words came out of his mouth. And they were about me.

Sam fought the urge to tell the news to the cashier once he arrived at the counter. Feeling giddy, he suddenly craved something sweet and ordered a box of cookies with his second sub.

When Sam came back to the table, he found Gabriel with his eyes glued to his phone.

“Updates?” said Sam.

Gabriel looked up and blinked at lot at Sam.

“Um, actually, yes,” he said, scrolling down his phone. He typed something quickly and then put the phone down.

“So, Sam,” he said, tapping his fingers on the table, “someone keeps telling me it’s none of my business, but I’d like to know what you really think about Dean dating Lisa?”

Sam stared at Gabriel like it was a trick question. He wasn’t sure what he was getting at, thus he decided to approach the topic with precaution.

“Um, I don’t know,” he said, unwrapping his sub. “I don’t have anything against Lisa. She’s great, and Dean says he likes her a lot and all.”

Gabriel pursed his lips together and feigned thinking, as Sam took a bit of his sub.

“But what do you think of the overall situation? Like do you think this is the best possibility for your brother? Or do you think there would be someone else Dean would be better off with?”

Sam frowned. Because of Gabriel’s vague choice of words, Sam wondered if Gabriel was addressing the Castiel and Dean issue or not.

It sounded like he was.

Before Sam could answer, however, his phone buzzed, announcing he had received a text from Castiel.

 

Cas: I’m very sorry, Sam. Gabe knows you know how I feel about Dean and now he’s going to try to wheel you into his scheme, even though I told him to stay out of it. I didn’t tell him about, well, our ‘scheme,’ because I would never hear the end of it. I simply explained to him that I had told you of my feelings for Dean after you had questioned me about it. That’s it. I strongly suggest you don’t address it either, for your sake. And I didn’t tell him you’re the secret admirer. I wouldn’t do that, but based on the last few questions he asked about it, he’s getting close and he might suspect you. So if you want to tell him, now is the time.

 

“Sam?”

Sam swallowed and put his phone away.

“Ten lollipops that this is my dear brother freaking out and informing you about the convo we just had.”

“You know about Dean,” said Sam, attempting to remain cool.

“Sam,” said Gabriel, mockingly official, “I suggest we put most of our cards on the table about this. I know Cas wishes that I keep certain things to myself about him, and I will. I suppose the same is true for you about Dean and probably with Cas, too. But can we go straight to the point, so-to-speak, and just say out loud how much these two idiots are in love or what?”

Sam dropped his sub on the table. “Gabriel, do you know how long I’ve been saying this?”

“RIGHT?”

“You have no idea. Every time Cas was at our house.”

“Every day at school,” said Gabriel.

“Even when Cas wasn’t even at home, all I’ve been hearing from Dean is ‘Cas this,’ and ‘Cas that,’ for years. Like just marry the guy already!”

“I knew it! Same thing at my house! Okay, perhaps not to my entire family, because well, who cares about them, but ninety-nine per cent of what Cas talks about is somehow related to Dean.”

“Exactly.”

“So I have your confirmation, then? I know how Cas feels and I always suspected it was the same with Dean.”

“Totally. It’s the same for Dean. I never understood why they never did anything. It’s so frustrating.”

“Couldn’t agree more. And they’ve come so close too.”

Sam frowned. “They have? Wait, how close?”

Gabriel opened his mouth and shut it. “I’m not supposed to say.”

Sam squinted at him briefly and then said, “Fine, whatever. My question is what are we going to do about them tonight.”

Gabriel beamed at him. “Sam Winchester, where have you been all my life?”

Sam laughed nervously, and before taking another bite of his sub, he said, “What do you suggest?”

“Obviously, we will have to isolate them. And I don’t want to sound mean, but we have to keep Lisa occupied.”

“I know. That’s the one thing I feel bad about, too,” said Sam. “I don’t hate Lisa, but she’s not Cas. And Dean knows that and he needs to own up to it, already.”

“So, without totally over manipulating the situation, because that would be bad,” said Gabriel, pushing his empty tray aside, giving them room for a plan of attack, “how can we make this happen so no one runs back home crying? Like, what do you know about Dean? How he is assessing the situation right now, you think?”

Sam thought for a moment. “I think Dean is close to snapping. Frankly, I’m impressed he hasn’t already.” Came pretty close to it a few times, though. Thursday night comes to mind.

Gabriel leaned back in his seat. “Really? How so?”

“It’s—um, it’s been a very long week. And I can tell he mulled things over a lot. And something else.” He’s stupidly jealous of me because I kind of isolated him and he’s been on the verge of blowing up all week. “But…I can’t tell you.”

Gabriel lifted one eyebrow. “Sam? I thought we were cool.”

“We are. And you kept some of Cas’ stuff to yourself. Same thing. Just—trust me, though. It’s been a lot for Dean this week and I think he’s about to do something drastic.”

“You might be right about that. He seemed off this week, even for me. That was a weird interaction we had.”

“You talked to Dean? Wait, was that on Thursday?”

“Yup. Briefly. And it’s more like he interrogated me.”

“About what?”

“Look who’s asking questions now. Is this genetic?”

Sam was about to point out to Gabriel that all he had done this past week had been interrogating Castiel about his secret admirer, but for obvious reasons, Sam decided that they should stay on the topic at hand instead.

“Where is Dean, right now?” asked Gabriel. “Cas vaguely said he was busy.”

“He’s probably at Lisa’s at the moment.”

“Ah. Damn. That explains it.”

“But that might help.”

“How?”

“I told you. Dean is going to snap soon. So maybe it will happen this afternoon at Lisa’s, which will mean—”

“That Cas could have him all to himself tonight,” added Gabriel. “Nice.”

“Yes,” said Sam. “Or,” he continued, “he will snap at the party.”

“Good, but less nice.”

Sam nodded, helping himself to another bite.

“If it happens at the party though, we’d have the advantage of being there and could try to control the factors a bit.”

“I thought you said we aren’t supposed to manipulate the whole thing.” Sam smiled at the corner of his mouth.

“We aren’t,” said Gabriel, defensively. “Doesn’t mean we can’t help them, though. I mean, obviously, they need it.”

“But like how? I already—” Sam started saying, but stopped mid-sentence.

Which was evidently not unnoticed by Gabriel. Not in the least.

“You already what?”

I already tried to fake my love interest in Cas and we’re still here.

Shit. What do I say?

“Sam?”

“I—I already—I already know that, um, that Dean is really stubborn.” What?

Gabriel’s face was expressionless at this last sentence.

“Okay,” he finally said. “And what does that mean?”

Good question.

“Exactly what I said,” he blurted out. “Dean, he—he won’t go for the obvious. Even if we tell him, even if Cas tells him, he’ll probably resist. He has to come to the conclusion himself and act on it, which will be difficult because he’s—”

“Stubborn,” finished Gabriel.

Sam nodded, wondering if anything that had just came out of his mouth had made sense.

Gabriel remained silent for a long time, but he appeared to be reflecting on Sam’s input seriously enough.

“So, what I’m hearing,” Gabriel finally said, “is that Dean has to be the one to go after Cas and we have to make that happen.”

Sam nodded. “How do we do this?”

“Dunno,” said Gabriel. “Pretty sure that’s the part of the movie where make overs are involved and somehow everything works out.”

Sam started laughing.

“And knowing Cas,” sighed Gabriel, “he’ll be there wearing a jumper.  I shouldn’t complain though, as normally he wouldn’t go at all.” Sam smirked at Gabriel. “What?”

“I know something you don’t,” said Sam.

“Please tell me you can share?”

 “Okay, so Cas is wearing his usual blue jumper,” to which Gabriel rolled his eyes. “But,” added Sam, leaning in, “he’s actually wearing Dean’s favourite t-shirt underneath it.”

Gabriel looked like someone had just hit him. “How did that happen?”

“Cas started to run out of clean clothes a couple of days ago and we cannot reach the washing machine downstairs and—anyway, Mom suggested we share with Cas in the meantime. And today she handed him Dean’s favourite shirt. And Dean doesn’t know.”

“And that’s good, right?” Sam held down a grin. “Sam? What do you know?”

“All I’ll say is, for two nights, I had to lend my pajamas to Cas and I know Dean wasn’t happy.”

“All right. So, at the most, we need Cas to get rid of his sweater at the latest when Dean arrives at the party. I’ll yank it off of him myself if I have to. Though, it would be much more beneficial for everyone if Cas would take it off himself in front of Dean in slow motion, while baby-making music is playing in the background. But we’ll work on that. What else?”

“Lisa.”

Gabriel sighed. “In a perfect world, Dean will hopefully arrive without her. If not…is Dean likely to wander off and find us, or will he glue himself to her the entire evening?”

Sam shook his head. “He’ll come to us. He will want to know where Cas is, especially if he’s—especially to see if he’s with someone else.” If he’s with me.

“Fat chance at that. I don’t really want to throw randoms at my baby brother, but if some look acceptable enough…maybe.”

Don’t worry, Gabe. We’re golden about that one, as long as I stay right next to him. “I think we should focus more on how to keep Lisa at bay for a moment, more than what Cas is doing,” said Sam, trying to change the topic.

They continued with their plans for the next hour, until they finally decided they should get back in finishing their errands. As they were clearing the table, Sam said, “I just don’t understand why Cas didn’t want us to know that we both knew, though? He had plenty of opportunity to do that, so why didn’t he?”

Gabriel smiled, mischievously. “I have my theory on that, and if I’m right, I’m almost impressed how crafty baby bro really is. Makes me question a lot of other things about him. Like what other things does he keep to himself? But in any case, why he didn’t tell us that detail is certainly a question I cannot wait to ask him. And I will ask him.”

Chapter Text

As they busied themselves with the initial set up of the party, it wasn’t without Castiel’s notice that there was a strong presence of camaraderie between Sam and Gabriel. He had felt a change in the air the moment he had joined them in the car when they had picked him up from the library.

Not only was Sam using full sentences when he was addressing himself directly to Gabriel, but Castiel even heard him make a joke or two. He almost seemed like his usual self. Still nervous, perhaps, and he glimpsed at Gabriel a few times when he was sure he wasn’t looking at him, but Sam was miles away from what Castiel had witnessed this past week.

The interesting part was that Sam wasn’t the only one with gawky eyes. Castiel had caught his brother observing Sam with lingering looks as well.

Peeks and giggles were exchanged between the two.

Castiel swore he even caught them whispering briefly.

If Castiel didn’t know any better, he would say that Gabriel and Sam were openly flirting with each other.

This turn of events would have made him incredibly happy if it wasn’t for the fact that neither of them had mentioned anything whatsoever about the Dean situation. As much as he would like to believe that it was because they had found each other and they would therefore leave him be regarding this issue, Castiel knew better.

He had been expecting teasing, fleshed out plans of action and a massive interrogation waiting for him in the car, but nothing.

Not a single word.

Not about Dean.

Not about his feelings.

Nothing about the night before or any strategy for the party.

Nothing.

And it made him nervous.

It either meant that they were reserving the questions for later or that they were plotting together about Dean and him, and were keeping it to themselves.

Which was probably worse.

Sam and Castiel had the task of putting up small lantern lights all over the place to create an ambiance. After Gabriel had teased him about his sweater for the fourth time since they had set foot in Kali’s house, Castiel saw, clear as day, Gabriel wink at Sam. He then turned on his heels and rushed to the dinning room, where Kali and a few others were having an argument regarding the layout for the refreshments.

Castiel leaned in closer to Sam. “I don’t know what happened between you and Gabe, and knowing him and the conversation we last had it makes me nervous, but at least it seems like you two are getting along perfectly.”

Sam could not contain his smile.

“Did you tell him it was you?”

Sam shook his head. “Not yet. But working on it.”

“Guys! No slacking!” yelled Gabriel from across the room. “Especially you, Cas!”

Castiel made a face of indignation at him. “What is that supposed to mean?” he asked as Gabriel hurried towards them.

“You chilled the entire afternoon avoiding me and my questions—don’t try to deny it—” he added, pointing his index finger whimsically at him, “while Sam helped me out in every possible way. If anything—” started saying Gabriel, but suddenly stopped.

He grabbed the lights Sam was holding and briskly handed them to Castiel. He then pulled a giant armchair closer to them, directed Sam to take a seat, and said, “He earned the right to relax as our guest and watch you work like you said you would.”

Castiel’s jaw dropped. Sam, grinning like a mad person, picked up a bowl of chips on the table near them and comfortably sank into the chair, while looking at Castiel as if sadness had never existed.

“And Cas, maybe if you took off your jumper, it would be easier for you to work on the lights,” was Gabriel’s final comment before returning to where he had come from.

Sam laughed and started eating his chips.

Soon enough, everything was more or less ready for the party. A tacky, yet necessary, area was set up by Ash for karaoke in the large family room. A panoply of refreshments, alcoholic and non-alcoholic ones, were already available at multiple spots throughout the house—the main one being the kitchen area—and more would undoubtedly be added on as people would arrive. 

The small group of helpers present was free to devour some delicious pizzas generously provided by Kali. People mostly gathered in the living room, laughing and eating, but Castiel, Sam and Gabriel remained in the kitchen area.

Guests eventually arrived. Someone started the music at some point. The crowd became bigger and louder, which would normally mean that Gabriel would have to leave and play host. And yet, to Castiel’s surprise and Sam’s delight, he remained with them. He had to leave their company a few times when someone was asking about the refreshments, but for the most part, Gabriel made of point of staying with the both of them.

Even when Kali herself came to Gabriel, requesting that he join her for a tour, he reappeared not even five minutes later.

Sam figured it was most likely due to the fact that Castiel still hadn’t gotten rid of his blue sweater, and that they had agreed to give Castiel and Dean the necessary assistance they desperately needed.

But he hoped that Gabriel was also sticking around because he was enjoying the company.

Sam, in any case, certainly was.

And for once in his life, due perhaps to the ambiance of the party and the whimsy in the air, he wasn’t going to try to hide that fact. 

“Oh, Sam,” chanted Gabriel. “I just spotted that beautiful blond we saw this afternoon.”

“Who?” asked Castiel.

“Jessica,” said Sam.

“You saw Jess this afternoon?”

“Yes, she was all lovey-dovey over this one, here,” said Gabriel, pointing at Sam, “and the fool was beyond playing it cool, like it was no big deal.”

“I believe you,” said Castiel. “I’ve seen it happen earlier this week too.”

“With Jess?”

“Yes.”

Gabriel stepped back and tilted his head. “What’s the deal, then, Sam? Is it because sandy hair ain’t your thing?”

“Oh, no. Sandy hair is definitely my thing. I just have my eyes set on another one already.”

Castiel did not move a muscle and hoped to make himself invisible for a moment, as he fought every urge he had to not look at Sam in awe. Gabriel, on the other hand, nearly dropped the cup he was holding, and Castiel saw something he had never seen in his life before: his brother blushing.

“You guys want something to drink?” said Gabriel, finally regaining his brain’s function, and before they even had the chance to reply, he turned around to get them refreshments.

As they watched him head towards the kitchen counter, while knocking into a few people on his way there, Sam and Castiel chuckled and exchanged looks.

Gabriel, who was shamelessly gawking in their direction, quickly returned his attention to the drinks as soon as he realized they were watching him, only to notice he had spilled most of the beverage on the counter instead of in the plastic cup.

“I think you broke him. You could barely speak to him before. How?” asked Castiel with awe.

“I think I kinda lost my mind for a second.”

And they both started laughing. Seeing Gabriel was on his way back, Sam quickly whispered in Castiel’s ear. “I think you should too, when Dean gets here.”

Castiel nodded, and Sam smiled at him.

  

Parking near the house was out of the question, Dean had concluded. Too many cars were already occupying the narrow street by the time he, Lisa and some of her friends turned onto Kali’s street.

Dean suggested dropping everyone off in front of the house and meeting them back there, after finding a proper parking spot for Baby. He felt like a complete asshole saying “See you inside” to Lisa, when he was relieved at the prospect of finally being away from her.

Being near her had been unbearable the moment he had arrived at her house. He had been tempted to blurt out everything on multiple occasions, but he ultimately decided against it. He had remained as quiet and as jovial as he could master and had kept his secret intentions to himself.

Which meant that all he had done was lie. All afternoon. And evening. To everyone. And the more lies had rolled off his tongue, the more his self-hatred had deepened. And he knew that girl, Amelia, could fucking smell it off of him.

She hadn’t been mean, per say, but she had been on his case.

Just like on Wednesday lunch, she knew Dean was hiding something and she seemed resolute to find out what it was.

And driving away from Kali’s house, being away from all these girls, being alone and somewhat free of that pressure, finally allowed Dean to breathe for a moment.

He ended up parking the Impala far away from the house, but he hadn’t minded. The walk to the house was long and Dean welcomed it, because it gave him time to think on what to do next.

So far, his day hadn’t gone as well as he had hoped. It bothered him extremely that he hadn’t managed—or rather, hadn’t had the guts—to clear the situation with Lisa. Going to the party with her was not what he had wanted.

This was the definition of leading someone on and Dean couldn’t believe he was doing it.

And worse, if he said anything to Castiel now, it would feel like he was two-timing her. It was wrong and it wasn’t fair to her or Castiel.

And he tried miserably to not dwell too much on the fact that Castiel and Sam had spent the entire day together. And unsupervised.

Where many things could have happened.

What if I gave him all the reasons to think that I like Lisa when he was waiting for me to do something?

What if he got tired of waiting and went for Sam instead?

And then another thought occurred to him. The one that maybe what he was dreading was not only a possibility, but was already an actuality and had been so for much longer than he had realized. 

Dean stopped dead on the sidewalk at the thought.

But if that’s the case, what about last night?

What was that couch move, then?

What about the pie?

And in my bedroom?

That wasn’t nothing.

I know that wasn’t nothing.

Right?

Dean was sick of this. Sick of guessing. Sick of overthinking and analyzing every single thing done or not done, said or not said.

He needed an answer.

So, despite the fact that he had fail to execute part one of the plan, he decided that he would follow through with part two: telling Castiel.

He had to tell Castiel that he liked him. That he wanted to be with him. Not with Lisa. Him.

He couldn’t bear repeating the afternoon with Lisa, nor the past week’s agony. He needed to get a grip and do something already.

All he could hope for was that he wasn’t too late and that nobody else, who was evidently not as confused or inhibited as he was, had swooped in.

When Dean finally reached the house, he kept nervously fixing his hair every five seconds. His throat was dry and his heart was beating fast.

The place was packed. Apparently, Gabriel had not only invited the entire school, but probably a few others as well from nearby towns, plus every one he had ever met in his life. Dean wondered how in the world he was going to find anyone in this sea of people.

Counting his blessings that Lisa hadn’t been waiting for him at the entrance, as it gave him a good excuse to scout the place, Dean prayed he would spot Castiel before running into her.

Rapidly crossing the living room, the massive hallway, the kitchen and finally the dinning room, he didn’t see him or Sam.

Frustrated, Dean swore under his breath. He took out his phone from his jeans’ pockets and, desperate, he texted Castiel announcing his arrival. He waited. And waited.

And waited.

Nothing.

The house was huge and circulating was already difficult given the laid back nature of the large crowd. There were too many people. Too many people laughing, dancing, screaming, walking around and swallowing him up. He would never find them unless he knew where to look. He checked his phone one more time with anguish, but still no answer. He shoved his phone in his coat pocket and started moving again for another look.

He slowly went back to where he came from, scanning for his friend the best he could, and just as he was hoping he wouldn’t have to explore upstairs, he spotted him in the kitchen area.

Castiel.

Dean stepped in closer.

Castiel was sitting next Sam.

Dean stopped.

Castiel leaned in closer to Sam.

Dean held his breath.

They were both laughing, ignoring everything around them.

Dean felt his stomach drop.

Sam leaned towards Castiel’s ear. Whispering. They both looked at each other. And Castiel nodded while smiling one of his biggest smiles and looking right at Sam and—

Dean could not bear to see what would happen next.

He hurried backwards and ran smack into Lisa.

“Dean,” she said quietly, finding back her balance.

“Lisa, sorry, I—I didn’t see you. I was loo—looking for you.”

She smiled. “We were right at the entrance waiting for you. We must have missed you.”

“Well, I’m here now!” he said, a little too overexcitedly.

She stepped in closer, “Are you okay?”

“Yup. You?”

Lisa examined him briefly and gave him a small kiss. “Yes.” She rested her hands on his waist and leaned in closer to kiss him again. Dean returned the kiss the best he could despite himself. He tried to sell it, hoping it would make this massive pit in his stomach disappear.

Was the kiss unpleasant? No.

But it’s not what it’s supposed to be like.

And it’s certainly not done for the right reasons.

They broke the kiss after a moment. Lisa smiled, and holding his hand, she gently pulled Dean towards the living room. Dying to step as far as possible from the kitchen, Dean let her guide him, uncertain he cared about anything else anymore.

 

Gabriel reappeared in front of Sam and Castiel holding three cups, one for each of them. After he handed one to his brother, Castiel sniffed his cup suspiciously.

“Chill, little bro. Nothing funky for you—for either of you, for that matter,” he added, looking at Sam, “as per my promise to the charming Mrs. Winchester. So cheers!”

“Cheers!” the other two yelled, and they all took a large swallow of their drinks.

“Now, Cas,” said Gabriel, “it feels like a million degrees in here. Can you please take off your jumper? I’m sweating just looking at you.”

Castiel shook his head. “Why? I’m comfortable.”

“He’s right, you know,” said Sam, taking another sip from his cup. “It’s really warm. I can see you starting to sweat here.” Sam pointed his finger at Castiel’s temple, failing to hide his smile behind his cup.

“What is it with you two and my sweater?”

“Take it off!” yelled Gabriel. “That’s what.”

“Or what? You’ll tickle me to death?”

“Don’t laugh. I could and you know it!”

Castiel stood up, put his cup down on the table next to him and stayed still for a second, dramatically. Sam and Gabriel stared at him with hopeful eyes. Castiel, keeping on his deadpan expression, then quickly grabbed and put on his trench coat, before taking his seat back.

“Really?”

“Come on!” said Gabriel as if he had been cheated. “Are you seriously kidding me, Cas?”

Castiel laughed in his drink. “What’s your problem?”

“You, wearing fifteen layers in this desert weather! Stop being stupid. You’ll faint soon.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t have nagged me about it, then.”

Smirking, Castiel crossed one arm around his chest and continued to drink.

“You know what, I mi—SHIT,” yelled Gabriel as he jumped to his feet.

“What?” asked Castiel and Sam, both of them somewhat startled.

Gabriel turned to them with his mouth wide open, at a loss for words, and then, without any other explanation, stepped closer to Castiel and poured the entirety of his cup on him. Aiming at his chest, he succeeded in drenching most of Castiel’s sweater and part of his coat.

“Gabe, what the hell?” Castiel yelled at his brother.

Sam and Castiel stared at him, bewildered.

“M—made you look!” said Gabriel with no conviction at all.

Castiel stood up, furious, grabbing the front of his sweater. “What was that for?”

“Sorry. But now you don’t have any choice than to take it off it seems. Here, let me help you,” he said, trying to get a hold of his brother.

But Castiel stepped away from Gabriel’s reach. “Where’s the bathroom?”

“That way,” said Gabriel, pointing to the hallway behind him, “but there’s another one upstairs, if it’s—”

Castiel stormed off towards the bathroom.

Gabriel took his brother’s seat next to Sam, where they both watched him rush down the hallway.

“What was that?” asked Sam.

Gabriel picked up the drink Castiel had left on the table and leaned in a bit towards Sam. “Someone just arrived,” he said, nodding to their left.

Sam lifted himself from his seat and, by extending his neck as much as he could, he briefly scanned around and immediately recognized Dean’s back in the living room. A big flock of people swarmed in, obstructing Sam’s view of his brother. He sat back down.

“How long?”

“Dunno, but I saw him kissing Lisa.”

“What? Come on, no!” said Sam, irritated.

“I know. I had to do something drastic. Maybe Cas will have to take everything off now. His coat, sweater and shirt.”

Sam laughed in his cup.

“Sam, who else do you like that has sandy hair?”

Sam swallowed hard, suddenly aware of Gabriel’s proximity.

“Sam?”

“I like many people who have sandy hair.”

Sam was looking in front of him, but he could tell Gabriel was smiling. “But you seemed to speak of one in particular.”

“Did I?”

“Is it that girl, there?” He pointed in front of them.

“No.”

“That other girl next to her, wearing the pink skirt?”

Sam shook his head.

“The one with the long black hair?”

“She’s not blond.”

“Right. True. I was testing you. What about the beige jacket?”

“No.”

“Or the guy next to her?”

“N—no.”

“What about this guy there?” Gabriel was pointing randomly to their left but he wasn’t even looking at the room anymore, his eyes were glued on Sam.

“No.”

Sam could feel Gabriel’s glare studying every inch of his face to his left. He chanced a glimpse in his direction and met his eyes.

They stared at each other in silence.

Gabriel smirked at him. “I guess it’s a mystery that will remain unsolved forever, then.”

Sam nodded, failing at holding down his grin.

“Now, before Cas gets back, we need a plan to get those two on their own. If not here, then your house as a last resort?”

“Agreed.”

“Did you ever hear of the story where Michael locked Lucifer and Naomi out of the house for the night? Because it is not only worth hearing for the comic aspect of it, but I think it could help us.”

 

 

Dean was ready to explode. He tried his best to keep calm, standing still next to Lisa, while she and her friends spoke to a million people.

He kept replaying in his mind the scene he had witnessed, over and over and over and over.

And then forced his mind back to that moment between him and Castiel from the night before.

Which one was real? What was the truth?

Against his better judgment and complete apprehension of what might be waiting for him, Dean casually left Lisa’s side and went straight to where he had last seen Castiel. He felt sick at the idea of how things might have progressed since he had left, but he had to do it. He had to get over it.

He arrived at the edge of the kitchen and…

No Castiel.

Great.

Sam, however, was present.

Gabriel was entertaining him, telling him some crazy story, no doubt.

Thinking Castiel mustn’t have been far, he scanned around quickly, but he was nowhere to be found.

Dean partly wanted to walk up to them and ask for him, but he remained frozen on his spot. If they didn’t know where he was, they might suggest in joining the search for him and that was the opposite of what he wanted.

What he wanted was time alone with Castiel and Sam very far away from it all.

Just him and Castiel.

To talk.

Of course, yes. To talk.

Grateful that Gabriel was distracting Sam from Castiel’s absence, Dean turned around, hoping to find Castiel and fast. He felt panic spreading in his chest.

“Dean, cher, what’s the matter?”

Dean jolted when he realized Benny was standing next to him.

“What?”

“I said what’s the matter?”

“Why do you say that?”

“I’ve been talking to you for the last minute or so.”

Dean laughed nervously. “Sorry, I didn’t hear you. Must be the music. Loud.”

They just stood face to face.

“Anything you need help with?”

Dean started shaking his head, but stopped. Trying the most he could to not appear as though he wanted to be discreet about his request, he approached Benny and cleared his voice. “Actually, yes, I—have you seen Cas anywhere?”

Benny looked at him with an unchanged face. Dean couldn’t decide if Benny was building theories about his question or if he was simply not reading anything into it.

Finally, he spoke, “Yes, I think I spotted him not that long ago. I saw him walk towards the bathroom line up.” Thrilled to have a clue at last, he was ready to charge in that direction. “But he left quickly.”

“What? Why?”

“It was too long, I think. My guess would be the second floor. For the other bathroom.”

“Right. Thanks.” Dean patted Benny on the shoulder and hurried through the crowd with great difficulty and extreme annoyance. Dean eventually reached the staircase and climbed to the second floor, hoping Castiel would still be there.

A surprising amount of people were circulating the second floor to Dean’s exasperation.

Many of them were already drunk, laughing and speaking loudly, but thankfully, despite the chaos swarming around, he located the bathroom instantly.

It was on the other side of the balustrade, in the corner of some nook, where not that much activity was going on.

Standing in front of the door, which wasn’t fully shut, Dean could hear water running. He knocked and slowly pushed the door.

And there he was.

Dean had found Castiel.

He was sponging his face and the front of his shirt with a washcloth. His trench coat rested by the sink, as was his dark blue jumper.

“Cas. Hey.”

Castiel, startled by his friend’s sudden arrival, turned briskly. After assessing who was next to him, he let out a short laugh. “Hello, Dean.”

Okay, here it is.

I did it.

I found Cas at the party. Check.

And I’m alone with him. Check.

And I have to tell him…

I—um.

“Did you just arrive, Dean? Sam’s downstairs.”

Dean nodded. “Yeah, I saw him briefly.” Sam is the last person I want to talk about right now.

Dean pressed himself into the small bathroom. With barely any room for one person, never mind two, Castiel had to take a step back in order to give Dean necessary room to enter and shut the door properly. I’ve been in bigger public bathroom cubicles than this. Turning back, he was then face-to-face with Castiel.

Where they stared at each other.

In complete silence.

Dean was staring at Castiel’s wet hair.

And his sweaty neck.

And his lips.

And knew he probably should stop.

“Dean?” said Castiel. He dropped the washcloth into the sink. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah. No.”

Castiel frowned.

“What happened?” asked Dean nervously, gesturing at Castiel’s attire.

“Gabe, thinking he was funny,” said Castiel, pulling the front of his shirt to show a giant wet spot.

And that was when Dean noticed what Castiel was wearing.

And also when Castiel remembered what he was wearing.

“Dean,” he urged, “I’m sorry. I know it’s your favourite. I promise, it will be like brand new.”

Dean just kept staring back and forth between his shirt and Castiel’s face.

He then smiled, and said, “I don’t care about the shirt, Cas. It’s—don’t worry.” His eyes now locked on Castiel’s, he involuntarily lifted his hand as if to reach out for him, but let it drop to his side.

He swallowed.

“Dean?”

He opened his mouth with every intention to speak.

But he didn’t.

Instead, he gently leaned in and his lips met Castiel’s mouth. There was a moment of infinite relief, where warm jitters spread throughout him in light of this accomplishment, which made Dean hold the kiss.

That was until it became apparent to him that Castiel had remained perfectly still. Another kind of distress then took over him. But just as he was about to break the kiss, readying himself to die of mortification, he felt Castiel pressing softly on his lips, finally returning the kiss.

The instant it happened, they broke apart in shock. They both held their breaths and, with a mixture of excitement and worry, they both assessed each other’s expressions.

Relieved that Castiel didn’t look disgusted or angry, Dean still held his breath when Castiel stepped closer, while carefully studying Dean’s face. Castiel reached out to Dean’s waist and gently slid his quivering hand to Dean’s lower back. He rested his forehead against Dean’s and eased his hand to the top of his shoulder. Past his jacket and onto the back of his neck, soft fingertips met Dean’s warm skin.

Dean swallowed. He pulled Castiel towards him by his shirt, rested one hand on his cheek, grazing the corner of his mouth gently with his thumb, and after a short hesitation, they kissed again. Castiel slightly opened his mouth and Dean took the initiative to slide in a bit of tongue. Dean heard himself moan, as he tasted Castiel’s tongue. It was sweet, like peach, from a drink he must have had earlier, no doubt.

They stopped again to catch their breaths, leaning back to observe one another.

They were both smiling and let out short laughs of exaltation at the realization. And without further ado, and with no hesitation this time, they found each other’s mouth and kissed more assertively.

Dean, pressing and gluing himself against Castiel, wrapped his arms around him, while Castiel ran his fingers through Dean’s hair with both hands, gently pulling on it. Moving away from Dean’s mouth, Castiel started kissing Dean’s jaw and slowly down his neck, as he eased his hands on his waist.

Dean felt tingles from below his ears all the way down to his lower back. His knees were shaking. Warmth swelled his chest making him feel light, while he held down a scream of joy, smiling at the sensation of Castiel’s lips against his skin.

This.

This is what it’s supposed to feel like.

This is better than what it’s supposed to feel like.

Lacking room to move around, Dean tried his best to free himself of his jacket by clumsily pulling on his sleeves. Castiel, immediately understanding what Dean was attempting to accomplish, gently nudged him around to yank the coat off of him. The coat had barely hit the floor when Dean felt Castiel’s hands over his stomach, as Castiel pressed his entire body against him, burying his face in between his shoulders and at the base of his neck, causing Dean to shudder all over.

After slowly turning to face him again, Dean held Castiel firmly by the waist and sucked on his bottom lip. He then felt Castiel’s hands slide under his shirt, exploring the skin of his chest. Gasping at the touch, Dean momentarily leaned his head back, which was when Castiel took the opportunity for his mouth to reach Dean’s jaw again.

Castiel’s tongue was swirling on Dean’s neck, and as he could feel Castiel’s growing erection against his thigh, Dean tried to keep his breathing under control. He had him. He had him, and he wasn’t letting him go anytime soon.

Castiel’s steadiness with his hands and overall confidence in his actions was both a surprise and pleasure to Dean. Not that he would have minded either way.

Castiel gripped his waist, as he was licking his collarbone. Shoulder. Back to his collarbone. Neck. And—

Holy shit.

Dean jolted.

Cas is a biter.

His legs gave out briefly at this discovery, and losing his balance, he ended up nudging Castiel against the wall for support.

They heard a few trinkets hit the ground at the brisk movement, as they both tried to regain their balance.

Dean repositioned himself and put both hands against the wall, where he took a moment to observe Castiel, wanting to make sure he hadn’t hurt himself in their stumble.

Apparently, Castiel had no problems whatsoever, as his hands had managed to remain under Dean’s shirt, somehow, and he was busying himself by caressing Dean’s back with soft fingertips along his spine. His mouth on Dean’s throat, he then pulled him closer still with digging fingernails, asking for more. 

Dean’s heart was racing. His breathing was uneven. And his pants were absolutely uncomfortable. He needed to do something.

He strategically moved one of his legs in between Castiel’s, and he positioned his hips at the right angle to feel Castiel’s erection against his own.

And with one brief, but definite, thrust at the top of Castiel’s thigh, Dean then twisted his hips, grinding against Castiel’s crotch at the precise angle Dean had wanted. Castiel let out a loud moan buried in Dean’s neck that resonated throughout Dean’s entire body, as he felt Castiel’s fingernails dig deeper on his back.

“Again.”

“What?” Catching his breath, Dean gently pulled Castiel’s face away from his neck, to take a good look at him and make sure he had heard him properly.

Resting his head up against the wall, Castiel was breathing heavily.

“Do that again,” said Castiel.

Dean was pretty sure his brain fried on the spot. Hearing him utter these words to him with his grave and lustful voice would have been enough for Dean to be pushed off the edge. But once paired with the sight of him…Dean didn’t know what to do with himself. All he could do was to gaze at him as he felt his legs nearly giving out again.

Castiel looked wrecked. His hair might as well just have gone through a tornado. His cheeks were pink. His neck was sweaty and inviting. His lips were wet and red as if he had bitten on them too harshly. And his eyes…

His blue eyes could have flat out devoured Dean whole.

His fucking eyes.

With his heart about to jump out of his chest, and desperately trying to keep his composure, Dean obliged with Castiel’s request.

He swallowed hard and rested one hand on Castiel’s chest to keep him still, thus making sure he could watch Castiel’s reaction this time, not only hear it.

Looking directly at him, Dean slowly repositioned himself, and leaned in his head a little closer so he could feel Castiel’s breath against his lips. And after a brief pause, eyes still locked on each other, he moved his hips against him, once more.

But this time, he wasn’t done with one quick thrust followed by a few twists of the hips.

No.

Dean took his fucking time. He lingered along Castiel’s thigh, and rolled his hips against him with much more conviction. And he didn’t stop.

And.

Jesus.

Christ.

Castiel desperately held down whimpers by biting hard on his bottom lip. He quivered and melted underneath Dean at every movement and touch, be it sharp or subtle. And shut his eyes, as Dean felt his fingernails prick him deep on the waist, making Dean hold his breath for a second. He looked utterly destroyed.

Castiel’s reaction was beyond anything Dean could have expected and it wasn’t even close to what Dean had set his mind to doing in his wildest of fantasies.

This was, without a doubt, the best thing that had ever happened to Dean. The best thing he had ever felt. The best thing he had ever had the chance to witness.

His legs and arms were shaking, and before it got even too much for him, Dean stopped, breathing heavily.

Castiel reopened his eyes. Both panting, they remained still for a moment, assessing one another.

Watching Castiel and feeling his warm breath on his lips, Dean fought the urge to kiss him again.

He wanted Castiel to reach for him this time.

And the next thing Dean knew, Castiel was sucking on his tongue, with one of his hands easing down on Dean’s ass. He rammed him towards him, and squeezed hard.

And Dean was stroked by an urgent desire to get rid of their pants.

One hand resting on Castiel’s chest again, while eagerly letting Castiel do whatever he wanted to his mouth, Dean slid his hand slowly down to his belly button.

He lowered his hand again, down to Castiel’s crotch and pressed gently, expressing his intention to Castiel, as he opened his mouth wide.

Castiel moaned in his mouth and sucked even harder on his tongue. Inflamed and convinced of his response, Dean then reached for Castiel’s belt and started unbuckling it.

But that was when Castiel snapped out it.

He held his breath and suddenly froze.

“Dean, wait,” said Castiel, withdrawing his hands to himself in a flash. Confused and worried he might have crossed a line, Dean immediately stopped everything. He let go of his belt and didn’t move a muscle. Without completely pushing him off, Castiel attempted to regain his composure and to slide from under him. “Hold—hold on a minute,” Castiel added, catching his breath. “I don’t want to—I mean, this is not ho—I don’t want—”

“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, DEAN WINCHESTER?”

Startled, they unhanded each other, trying to break apart—which proved to be rather difficult considering they were standing into the world’s smallest bathroom—and looked at the doorway, terrified to see who had just walked in on them.

Lisa was standing there.

Lisa and her best friend Amelia.

Her best friend who had taken it upon herself to yell many things at them.

And throwing things at them, too. Castiel barely dodged her cup. Dean got drenched by most of its content, however.

Amelia still wasn’t done. She charged in on both of them with her fists in the air.

Lisa and Dean were trying to stop her.

It was a big mess, and somehow, with pain and misery, all four of them ended up standing in the hallway, with quite the little audience nearby.

“Lisa, I’m sorry. I—and you—it was a mistake. I didn’t mean to—” said Dean, panicking over Amelia’s verbal threats.

Needing to do some damage control of his own recklessness, Dean turned to Castiel in the hope of pleading with him for a moment to explain things to Lisa.

But Dean’s heart sank with horror when he realized that Castiel had already left his side.

Chapter Text

Well, fuck.

What the fuck just happened?

What did I just do?

Momentarily numb from everything after hearing Dean’s voice say the exact words he didn’t want to hear, Castiel quickly grabbed his coat, left Dean’s side to avoid further embarrassment, and rushed past the few spectators gathering around them. He ran away from that crime scene as fast as he could, so fast, in fact, that he nearly missed the last few steps down the stairs and knocked into people.

The crowd was bigger and louder than ever. Desperate to leave, he charged through it, but grew frustrated at the hassle.

It was too slow. It was too close. It was too still.

Half-panicking, half-angry, he squeezed himself more briskly than needed, but managed to step away from the major cluster, and somehow found himself at one of the refreshments tables.

He took a deep breath.

It was too loud. It was too warm. It was too much.

I did it, Sam. I lost my fucking mind.

And now, everything is ruined.

This is what happens when you don’t deal with anything.

When everything gets bottled up. It spins completely out of control.

And then it’s over and done, and you’re left with nothing.

What the hell is the matter with me?

Why—

Why do I always do this?

Before he knew what he was doing, Castiel grabbed one of the nearly empty bottles on the table and poured whatever was left into an empty cup. He took a swig to kill the noise. To stop thinking. To stop feeling. It burned his throat and the taste was disgusting, but he drank it all and kept it down.

He dropped the—now empty—cup on the table, wondering what he should taste next and did it again with another bottle. After gulping down his third cup, mildly aware of how sluggish he felt, he decided that he needed to leave. He didn’t want to find Sam. Or Gabriel. Or especially Dean. He wanted to be alone and far away from this house. Far away from that goddamn bathroom.

He then noticed two guys on the other side of the table observing him. One was watching him suspiciously, while the other one was looking at him in a way that made Castiel feel incredibly uncomfortable. The guy licked his lips and his eyes were fixated directly on Castiel’s crotch. Castiel looked down and realized that his belt wasn’t properly buckled up, showing the top of his bright orange underwear. After hastily fixing it, Castiel put on his coat for additional measure, feeling suddenly exposed.

And then, against his better judgment, he also grabbed another bottle at random and made his way to the front door, clumsily knocking over a few people again before getting there.

He was done.

Not having any idea where he should go, but having every intention of not speaking to anyone, he ignored everyone on his way. Some people were laughing and shouting something incomprehensible, as he walked away from the driveway, and down the street in the middle of the night.

Again.

Not looking back, Castiel continued, focusing on the empty road ahead of him.

It was a mistake.

The music and voices died down behind him.

Do that again.

Soon, only the liquid sloshing in the bottle and his footsteps were breaking the silence around him.

I didn’t mean to.

The cold started to bite his cheeks and his fingers.

Again.

It was a mistake.

Do that again.

I didn’t mean to.

Eventually, when he judged that he had put a sufficient amount of distance away from the house, he stopped at an empty park.

Again. Do that again.

Snuggled up and hidden in the playground structure, he persisted with emptying the bottle’s contents in the hope that it would quiet his mind.

But no matter what, it seemed that he was trapped in a loop consisting of Dean repeating the same two sentences.

It was a mistake. I didn’t mean to.

It was a mistake. I didn’t mean to.

It was a mistake. I didn’t mean to.

Well. There he had it.

At long last: the truth.

Despite what Sam had told him.

Despite what Gabriel had implied.

Despite whatever.

Dean didn’t love him. Not like this. Tonight’s events and this week’s weirdness were simply due to Dean having a stupid territorial feud with his brother. Or his usual freak out session. Nothing more than Dean reacting because they had tricked him.

And they had tricked him. They had fucked with his head, unfairly so, and now the consequences were biting him in the ass, leaving him heartbroken and alone.

Games. You know what comes from games. And you did it anyway.

It was a mistake. I didn’t mean to.

Was it worth it? Was it everything you had wanted it to be?

It was a mistake. I didn’t mean to.

What were you expecting, anyway?

Dean. Dean, all to myself.

More like Dean hidden away in a bathroom. Where you caught him in a moment of weakness and confusion. That’s the best you could have ever hoped for, and you know it.

It was a mistake. I didn’t mean to.

You always knew that. And now, you know it for sure.

Castiel swallowed.

But Dean started it, he reminded himself. That must count for something.

People can also change their minds. You hesitated yourself.

Yes. But—but that—that wasn’t—

The same thing? What was that then?

I—

What if you hadn’t been interrupted?

One moment more left alone with Dean’s consuming lips. With Dean’s soothing, warm touch. With Dean gaping at him with a mixture of tenderness and ardor in his eyes. And with Dean who was evoking such cravings he didn’t even know existed.

Would he still have been hesitating then?

Again. Do that again.

Castiel held his breath, remembering it.

Again. Do that again.

Or would have that unexpected hesitation miraculously dissipated from his brain as fast as it had appeared?

Again. Do that again.

He would have let Dean do whatever he wanted with him.

He would have.

Because that was what he wanted.

That momentary doubt had simply been his insecurities getting the better of him.

He had wanted Dean. He had always wanted Dean.

And this, however wonderful it may be, was also scary as shit.

Anything? You would have let him do anything? Really anything?

Yes, I would have.

Desperate. As always.

Again. Do that again.

Do that again?

Don’t I have any self-respect?

What the fuck was that?

And I bit him. I. Bit. Him.

Where did that come from?

Like, what the hell.

Don’t I have zero self-control?

Who the fuck was that?

And then, another voice, one buried deep at the back of his mind, replied in a calm, yet unnerving tone, Oh, I think we know who that was.

A massive chill went down his spine as he was momentarily paralyzed with fear.

Wouldn’t be the first time. You just let Dean know the re—

“No,” Castiel shouted at no one. He took another large swallow. Keeping that one down had been difficult.

No, don’t go there, that—don’t.

His overlapping thoughts became fuzzy, and between the heartache and his stomach not agreeing with the alcohol, Castiel felt crappy and borderline nauseous. He decided to empty the rest of the bottle onto the ground, and then gently put it down next to him. He rested his back on the wooden wall of the structure, and wrapped his arms around his legs as he rested his chin on his knees. He remained still, as he fought back his tears.

What the hell is the matter with me?

After a time, feeling a little heavy, almost sleepy, and when he had somewhat settled down, he was startled by a sudden noise. It took him a moment to realize that it was his phone ringing. With great misery and sloppy hands, he snatched out his phone from his jean’s back pocket.

Gabriel was calling.

He answered, and before he could say anything, Gabriel was yelling at the other end of the line, “Where the hell are you?”

“Wow. Loud,” said Castiel.

“Cas, where are you? We can’t find you. Did you leave the party?”

Castiel could hear a vague hint of music playing in the background from where Gabriel was calling.

“Where are you?” he repeated.

“It’s a secret,” he snorted.

“What?”

“I needed fresh air.”

“Cast—”

“A place where it’s freshly quiet.”

“Why did you leave?”

“And quite—quiet time. I mean, some place—somewhere,” he said, lamentably sighing, frustrated at tripping on his words, “quiet…er.”

“Are you drunk?”

“And for alone time,” continued Castiel, ignoring his question. “Not alone alone time, you know, but just by me—myself.”

“Wait, what do you mean alone? De—no one is with you?” He sounded worried. When Castiel didn’t reply, Gabriel continued, “You’re not, right? Tell me you are with someone.”

“Nope. Alone. Forever.”

“Cas, I’m serious. Where are you?”

“I just told you,” he said, annoyed. “Somewhere on my own. Which is what I want. Good thing too ‘cause that’s all I’ll get.”

“Cas, tell me exactly where you are.”

“No.”

“Cas, I’m not joking.”

“Pfff, that’s your favourite thing to do.”

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

“Takes one to know one.”

“Castiel, I swear if you don’t tell me where you are I’m…I’m gonna call Michael, Lucifer and Naomi.”

Castiel was laughing. “I’m terrified.”

“I will.”

“Won’t.”

“Don’t test me.”

“Fresh air is very cold,” whined Castiel, tightening his coat over his chest as he abruptly changed the subject.

“You don’t say? Cas, you left without your stupid trench coat! I have it in my hands right now. It’s the middle of the night in the middle of winter, you tell me where you are right now before you freeze your drunk ass to death! God. You’re making me sound like Naomi!”

Castiel frowned. Puzzled, he looked down and realized he wasn’t wearing his own coat, but someone else’s dark blue jacket. Fascinated by this discovery, he checked the pockets and found keys and a phone. The phone was filled with text notifications.

All from Sam.

This was Dean’s phone.

He was wearing Dean’s coat.

Castiel started laughing.

“Cas? You hear me? Tell me where you are! Why are you laughing? Are you laughing at me?”

“Of course it’s his phone,” said Castiel, not listening to Gabriel. “And it had to be his coat.” He tightened it around himself and was hit more than ever by Dean’s familiar smell of burnt oil and hint of pine. Uncertain if it was because of the chilly weather or because he was just exhausted, but his entire body began shriveling. “My butt is freezing,” he whined. “How can he always wear this thing in the dead of winter? It has zero insolation, Gabe.”

“What? What are you talking about?” He could tell Gabriel was getting aggravated. He then heard Gabriel tell someone on the phone, “You try, maybe he’ll listen to you.”  Shortly after, a new voice spoke to him, “Cas? Hey, it’s Sam.”

“Sam! Hello. How are you?” he asked very cheerfully.

“Um, I’m a little worried about you, not gonna lie.”

“I’m fine. I’m cold, but I’m fine.”

“Well, if you tell us where you are, we’ll come and get you.”

“Who’s we?”

“At the moment, Gabriel and me. But I’d really love if you’d be with us. So you can come home with us. Where it’s not cold, how about that?”

“Home?”

“Yes. Where we are all supposed to go very soon. Together, remember?”

“Sam, I can’t.”

“Why?”

“Because Dean will be there.” He covered his eyes with his other hand. “And don’t tell Gabe but I broke one of the rules of your—or more than one, I dunno anymore.”

“That’s—that’s okay, Cas. No one will be mad about the rules. And, um…isn’t it a good thing that Dean will be there?” Castiel shook his head in response, forgetting he was having a conversation on the phone. Still waiting for an answer, Sam asked, “Cas, why did you leave? Did something happen? Did you see anything? Or did—did something happen with Dean?”

“I don’t wanna to talk about it,” he said in a broken voice.

“Oh, no. What—what happened?” asked Sam. Castiel heard Gabriel questioning Sam.

“I can’t, Sam,” Castiel said with a heavy heart.

“Okay, okay. You don’t have to. But Cas, Gabriel is right. Please, you have to tell us where you are. You have to come back home with us. You can’t stay outside and alone, okay?”

Castiel said nothing.

“Cas?”

“I won’t. Stay outside, I mean. I promise. But I don’t—I can’t right now. I have to go.”

“Wait! Cas, hold on! Just tell us where—” Sam pressed on, but Castiel hung up his phone before hearing the rest.

 

 

“Shit.”

“What? What happened?”

“He hung up.”

Gabriel took his phone back and called his brother again. No answer. He tried again. It went directly to voicemail.

“Cas, come on, don’t do this.”

Sam and Gabriel were standing at the edge of Kali’s driveway, trying to reach Castiel and Dean.

As the evening had progressed at the party, Sam and Gabriel had continued to enjoy each other’s company by laughing and sharing anecdotes without taking much notice of everything around them. Eventually, however, they had realized that a significant amount of time had passed and that Castiel should have been back from his bathroom break.

Sam had suspected it might have been because Castiel had wanted to give them some privacy—which he appreciated greatly—or even perhaps because Castiel had found Dean and things were going as they had hoped for.

But when Gabriel had suggested that they should inquire about his brother’s whereabouts, Sam agreed, thinking it was better to be safe than sorry, even though the last thing he wanted was to interrupt Castiel with his brother, especially if Dean had finally gotten over himself and acted on his feelings for once.

At last, it had become very clear to both of them, that neither Castiel nor Dean were anywhere to be seen. No one had seen them. No one had heard of them. No’s and head shaking. Shoulder shrugs and incoherent laughter. Those were the answers they had been given.

That was until, sadly, they had heard from some random girl near a keg who was more than happy to let them know of a big scuffle that had occurred on the second floor.

No mention of the nature of the argument.

No mention of the actual content of the fight.

And no mention of Castiel or Dean.

They had nothing else, so they decided to follow through with the tip.

After reaching the bathroom on the second floor, it became apparent that everyone who had been part of that fight, or had witnessed said scene, had long left the party, thus leaving no additional details to be shared on the matter.

And then they had found the only elements resembling a clue: Castiel’s trench coat and jumper on the bathroom floor.

With no Castiel.

And no Dean.

As far as breadcrumbs went, these weren’t the most reassuring ones, Sam and Gabriel had thought.

They had scanned the house some more, but still finding neither of them, Gabriel and Sam grew worried. They concluded that fun time was over and that they should track down their respective siblings as soon as possible.

“Any luck with Dean?” Gabriel asked Sam as he desperately pressed redial.

Sam shook his head. “He’s not answering his phone or replying to his texts. Which is really unlike him.”

“What the hell,” said Gabriel in confusion, looking frantically around them every few seconds in the hope of an explanation. “Where could he be? Where could they be?”

“Assuming Cas walked, he shouldn’t be too far, no?”

Gabriel sighed. “Depends when he left, and it’s Cas. You never know. He didn’t give you any hint?” Sam shook his head. “That’s it! I’m implanting Cas with a GPS chip in his neck next time I get my hands on him!” yelled Gabriel after reaching Castiel’s voicemail for the fifteenth time.

“I tried to convince him to come back home, but he didn’t seem too keen on the idea.”

“But you mentioned it. That’s not nothing I suppose,” reflected Gabriel. “What else?”

“He promised he wouldn’t stay outside, whatever that means. Where do you think Cas would go if not my house?”

“Your house is Cas’ safe place, no matter what,” said Gabriel grimly. “If he’s upset, I’m having difficulty picturing him elsewhere.”

“I can’t decide if that’s a relief or not.”

Gabriel sighed. “What about Dean? Any ideas?”

“Dean has a car so he could be anywhere. And I don’t see the Impala parked around here. I guess it means he left too,” said Sam, frowning.

“You don’t sound satisfied with this.”

“It’s very unlike Dean. Regardless of if he would be upset or not, I’m having a lot of difficulty believing that Dean just left, without telling us. Without telling me.”

“Maybe he couldn’t find you? We were roaming around the house trying to find them.”

“But he would have called or texted me then,” said Sam, lifting his phone. Mildly discouraged, Sam sat down at the edge of the cold sidewalk for a moment. Gabriel imitated him, and covered their legs with Castiel’s trench coat to help against the cold air.

“What do you think happened?” asked Gabriel.

“I don’t know, but something happened,” he said, readjusting Castiel’s coat. “I was hoping they had left together, despite the potential fight and the coat, but…”

“Cas says he’s on his own.”

“And he sounded upset.”

“Enough to drink. Yes, my brother would have to be very upset.” Gabriel took a deep breath.

“I refuse to think that Dean left without telling anyone except if it was because he was trying to find Cas in a hurry. I don’t know why he’s ignoring his phone, though. Maybe he’s driving around trying to find Cas?”

“So, what now?”

Sam thought for a moment. “Dean will have to show up at the house, no matter what,” he finally said. “We have a curfew. Cas too, technically, but…”

“When’s the curfew?”

Sam checked his phone. “Just under two hours.”

“That’s still a long time for Dean to drive around.”

“Or for Cas to change his mind and show up.”

Gabriel ran his hands through his hair, exasperated. “So our options are to hope that Dean went to find Cas and they will come back to your house together. Or that Cas and Dean will separately, but eventually, head back home.”

“We can walk around and look for the both of them. Maybe they aren’t far and we can find them before curfew,” suggested Sam, “but the only problem with that is that if Cas shows up at the house when we’re out looking for him—”

“In the state he’s in…”

“Yeah. And if my parents arrive…They won’t do anything drastic, of course, but I’d much prefer if someone would be there to help him out too.”

Gabriel nodded. “And if Dean shows up or is already home, we could maybe know what the hell happened, and that might help give us an idea where to find Cas.”

They both remained still, reflecting on it all.

“It’s kind of a weak option, isn’t it?” asked Sam.

“I agree. But is it better to stay here hoping they’ll both come back?”

“No.”

“Don’t think so either. Cas won’t come back here.”

“Dean might, but only if he didn’t find Cas.”

“Okay,” said Gabriel decisively. “How about I escort you back home, so at least one person will be there in time and you’ll be there if one of them shows up. We’ll have to walk, as my car is trapped by the million other ones around it,” he said, gesturing at his vehicle near Kali’s garage, behind four parked vehicles. “If we arrive home and there’s still no sign of Cas or Dean, I’ll continue looking around, and if either of us hear anything, we let the other one know.”

Sam turned to Gabriel. “You’ll go walking around in the dead of night, in this cold, with no car and alone?”

Gabriel smirked. “I’ll be fine.”

Sam frowned. “I don’t think that’s very fair.”

“I’ll be fine,” he repeated. “But I appreciate your concern.”

“I’m already worried about Dean and Cas being on their own. I don’t like much the idea that it will be the case for you too.”

“Sam—”

“And what if Cas is at home? What if Dean is too? What then?” Gabriel opened his mouth and shut it, not sure what to say. “Where were you supposed to go after the party?”

“I—I was initially planning on staying here.”

Sam nodded, looking down and away from Gabriel. “At Kali’s.”

Initially, yes,” specified Gabriel.

“Not anymore?” he asked, still not looking at him.

“Things cha—if I—if I stay here, it won’t be for the same original reason intended.” Sam remained quiet, but nodded. “Sam, it’s either here or my house, and I really don’t want to go there.”

“You have another option.” Sam faced Gabriel with his knees touching his thighs as he turned. “You can stay at my house, if you want.”

Gabriel added urgently, “Sam, I wasn’t saying that for—”

“I know,” said Sam, cutting him off. “But I invited you at the beginning of the week, remember?”

“Which was nice, but I really thought you were just being polite.”

“I wasn’t. I mean, I was, but not like that. I meant it. And I mean it now.”

He tried the most he could to not sound desperate, or too eager. His heart was beating so fast, Sam could feel it up to his ears.

After what felt like an eternity to him, Gabriel pressed his shoulder against Sam’s, and said, “How about we start by getting you home first, and then depending on what’s the situation there, we’ll see what’s what?

Sam studied him a moment.

He nodded.

Gabriel stood up, and extended his hand to help Sam stand up from the sidewalk.

And he didn’t let go of it as they went down the road.

 

 

 

Fuck.

What the fuck just happened?

What did I just do?

What the hell is wrong with me?

“I can’t believe you! I fucking can’t believe you!”

“Amelia, stop.” Lisa wasn’t crying, but she wouldn’t meet Dean’s eyes.

“No,” shouted Amelia. “He doesn’t get to do that.”

“She’s right,” said Dean to Lisa. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m sure you are,” said Lisa, “but I don’t really care right now.” Lisa disappeared through the crowd. Dean attempted to go after her, but Amelia stepped in front of him, blocking his way.

“I don’t think so.”

“What do you want?” he said. “You’re right. Okay? You’re right. I’m the dirt bag you always thought I was. That’s what you thought, right? There! Now, you have it. You happy?”

“Happy?” she said, flinching. “I was fucking rooting for you, you moron!” She pushed him hard on his chest.

“Wh—what?” Dean took a mild step back.

“You heard me.” She dashed towards him. “I thought you were one of the good ones. But turns out you’re just a liar like everyone else.” She shot him one last awful look before walking away. To Dean’s despair, it wasn’t one of her signature mean looks. No, it had been far worse.

It had been sad eyes filled with disappointment.

Paralyzed with guilt and self-hatred, Dean remained glued on his spot.

What the hell is wrong with me?

He had openly made a pass at someone other than the person he had came with at the party.

Someone who was his best friend.

Someone who he had strong reasons to believe was interested in his brother.

Someone who he had strong reasons to believe his brother had a crush on.

Someone who was currently a guest in need and residing at his house.

Someone who had barely time to say two words before Dean practically jumped him.

And what the hell was that?

This was not what he had intended to do.

This was the exact opposite of what he had meant to accomplish. He was supposed to speak to Castiel.

Speak.

As in exchanging words. Not—not whatever that was.

There was not one thing he had handled properly.

Can’t I do anything right?

How dumb am I?

What’s wrong with me?

He shut his eyes as the lump in his throat was growing. His chest was heavy. Breathing was difficult. All he wanted to do was to drop on the floor and instantly disappear.

But then—

Again. Do that again. Again. Do that again. Again. Do that again.

Cas.

Dean breathed in.

Cas.

Dean had a lot of questions for him. Like a lot of questions.

Again. Do that again. Again. Do that again. Again. Do that again.

Dean had made many mistakes—many mistakes—and he had a lot to answer for.

Again. Do that again. Again. Do that again. Again. Do that again.

But this had happened.

Him and Castiel had happened.

That one truthful moment he had with Castiel in that bathroom had been everything to Dean.

He hated that it had occurred in a bathroom. At a party. Rushed and stolen.

This was not how he had wanted it to happen. Even if they didn’t do much, though they hadn’t done nothing either, Dean was simultaneously furious and happy about it.

Furious because the setting and abruptness made it seem cheap.

And it hadn’t been. It hadn’t been at all.

This hadn’t been a casual making out session with some random person at a party, on a faint buzz, no more done and no less needed.

It hadn’t been a quick impulse due to boredom and done with utter detachment.

No.

This had been the accumulation of this week’s realizations.

Hell. This week? It had been years of repression in this one moment.

And for once in his life, Dean had gone the extra mile of honesty. The one he had never taken before.

Not like this.

And he had never offered it like this.

And quite frankly, no one had ever been so receptive to what Dean had to offer, either.

No one.

Castiel, in one stolen moment, had managed to lift all his doubts and insecurities.

He could still feel Castiel’s warm fingertips hungry for skin contact. Again. His tongue—and teeth—on his neck. Do that again. His moans resonating throughout his body.

Again. Do that again.

Do. That. Again. These words would haunt him and give him a boner until the end of his days. Just thinking about it now…

If only they hadn’t been interrupted.

Only…

Only.

Only, remembered Dean, that’s not what stopped us.

Not initially.

No.

Amelia yelling at them had definitely put an end to it. Sure. But before she had yelled, before the girls had arrived, something else had stopped them.

Something else had made Dean freeze on the spot. Stop and retreat back. Something else had suddenly shifted the situation into a completely different one.

Castiel.

Castiel had stopped Dean.

I don’t want to.

Dean held his breath.

I don’t want to what?

I don’t want to do this?

I don’t want to do this with you?

I don’t want to do this here?

I don’t want to do this now?

At all?

Another kind of terror resurfaced in Dean’s mind, aiding him to suddenly regain his motor functions. He sprung down the stairs, passing by some of the people who were still glaring at him, and tried his best to ignore whatever insult or comment they yelled at him. At the bottom of the steps, he scanned the room quickly. The ever growing crowd was utterly unperturbed by his presence, thus suggesting his mini drama upstairs had been unnoticed on the first floor, to Dean’s relief.

His vantage point was terrible, but as far as he could tell, Castiel was nowhere to be seen. No Sam or Gabriel, either.

He then spotted Benny at the end of the room looking at him.

Without any attempt to mouth names at him, Benny knew exactly who Dean was after, and pointed at the front door. Dean nodded, remembering he would owe him a fruit basket, and hurried across the room as fast as he could through the massive brawl and out into the night.

Once on the front lawn, unfortunately, the trail had ended. He took a quick look around, hoping Castiel had only needed air and had stayed on the property.

But nothing. He checked down the road, hoping to catch sight of someone in a trench coat walking down the street.

Nothing. On either end.

The air was dry and chilly. Dean wrapped his arms around himself, only to realize he had forgotten his coat inside.

Which meant he didn’t have his keys or his phone either.

Knowing he should double back to the house and get his coat, Dean stubbornly hurried down the street, happy to walk away from the house. The prospect of coming face-to-face with Lisa (or Amelia) was daunting enough for him to pursue his route. Guilt grew in his stomach at the idea of momentarily leaving Sam on his own, but he had every intention of coming back. He would eventually need his jacket and keys anyway, and Sam was also nowhere to be found at that moment.

And he really needed to find Castiel.

And according to Benny, Castiel wasn’t in that house, but outside and most likely alone.

So, Dean carried on down the street on his way to his house, praying that it was where Castiel had set off, ignoring the best he could the biting cold on his skin.

Again. Do that again. Again. Do that again.

I don’t want to.

Again. Do that again. Again. Do that again.

I don’t want to.

Again. Do that again. Again. Do that again.

I don’t want to.

Cas.

 

Chapter Text

Sam and Gabriel did not meet a soul on their long walk home. The night was quiet and brisk, and they didn’t say much on the way. Mostly because they were both anxious about Castiel and Dean’s whereabouts.

But that was not the only reason.

And thinking of their brothers was a helpful distraction, as they walked side by side, hand in hand.

When Sam spotted his house, he instantly knew that neither Castiel nor Dean was home yet. He came to halt, Gabriel along with him, and shared that information.

Confused, Gabriel took another look at the Winchester’s house, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Just like the other houses on the street, it looked peaceful and quiet.

“Um, are you psychic or something?”

“The Impala isn’t there. But my parents are,” he said, pointing at the driveway. Dean’s car was nowhere in sight, but two other vehicles were parked, including John’s truck.

Gabriel took a deep breath, “And if Cas would have shown up…”

“I would have had an earful by now,” said Sam, lifting his phone. “Plus, the house looks quiet. All the lights are off. Not the signs of pissed off or worried parents. So far.”

“Hurray for that. Now come on, we’ll get you home at—” started saying Gabriel as he was gently pulling Sam towards the house, but Sam stopped him and remained on his spot. “Sam?”

“Um, wait, I’m just—just want to make sure that’s a good idea.”

“What? Why? We’re here. That was the point. To get you home.”

“Yes. That was the point when we were hoping Cas or Dean would be here,” he argued. “And especially when we didn’t know my parents were back.”

Gabriel stared at him, confused.

“No matter where Cas and Dean are right now, even if they both make it for curfew, if I show up there without them and with no answer of where they are, we’re all in trouble. And—”

“And what?”

“And the house is dark,” said Sam slowly, observing his house again, struck by an idea.

“Sam?”

“I have a really bad good idea,” he said, after biting his bottom lip.

 

A few minutes later, after sharing his plan with Gabriel, Sam opened his front door very carefully. He immediately spotted John on the couch, snoring away, confirming his hypothesis. He shut the door quietly, his eyes fixed on his father, making sure to not wake him.

Knowing that he would most likely regret it later, Sam enjoyed his stroke of luck for the moment, and headed silently past the living room and down the hall, leaving his father sleeping.

He reached Dean’s shut bedroom door and listened.

Nothing.

Sam softly knocked on it. “Dean?” he said as low as he could.

Nothing again.

He slowly pushed the door open and found the room empty.

Not surprised, since the Impala was missing from the driveway, Sam closed the door and hurried to his bedroom.

Not wanting to risk waking John, he slowly shut his door as much as he could, but not completely, making sure to not make it squeal.

He thought it would also be the best precaution to hear when Dean or Castiel would be back.

Keeping the lights off, he then rushed to his bedroom window, where he could discern Gabriel’s silhouette waiting for him outside. He slid open the window, signaled Gabriel to stay quiet, and helped him in.

Once Gabriel was inside, Sam carefully shut the window and rushed back to his door, listening for any commotion.

All he heard was John’s snores coming from the living room.

He took a few steps towards Gabriel.

“Remind me again why this is a good idea?” whispered Gabriel.

“Because I don’t want you to freeze to death and you need a place to crash anyway.”

“And the front door is just for show?” said Gabriel, amused.

“I would have gone through that window too if it hadn’t been locked. I’m just lucky my dad was sleeping and that I managed to not wake him up. Did you text Cas and Dean like I said?”

“Yes,” said Gabriel, crossing his arms on his chest. “You really think it will work? They’ve been ignoring our texts for a while. I doubt this one will change anything.”

“Probably not,” sighed Sam. “But at least that way, it gives them additional time to get here without me being subjected to an interrogation that I have no answers for. Best case scenario: they make it home in time, Dad is still sleeping and we wake him up all together.”

“Less best case scenario?”

Sam sighed again. “If they are late, but Dad is still sleeping, I guess we let him sleep. He won’t be able to know per se that we were late, though it’s obvious why we wouldn’t have woken him up. So bad, but not worst.”

“And what is the worst case scenario?”

“That Dad wakes up and it’s past curfew and someone is still missing.”

“Right. And what about me?”

“Um, yeah. Normally, it wouldn’t have been a big deal…I would have just had to let my parents know you were here, but—”

“To do that, you would have had to wake them up and then they would have noticed Cas and Dean were not here yet,” concluded Gabriel.

“Yeah, I think, for now, until we know more about Cas and Dean, the best option is to stay low.”

“Here. In your bedroom.”

“Um, yes. If—if either of us leave, we run the possibility of making extra noise.”

“True. And if your parents find me here?”

“Like I said, I don’t think the issue will be that you’re here, it will be about who isn’t.”

Despite the darkness, they stared at each other, while shivering because of the cold. Gabriel’s teeth were chattering.

“I’ll ge—we should change into warmer clothes,” said Sam. He couldn’t see properly, but he heard Gabriel unzip his coat.

Sam grabbed himself pajama pants and shirt, and handed the same to Gabriel, as well. Their eyes were still adjusting to the room, so it seemed unnecessary and unwise, thought Sam, to leave the room to change separately. They simply turned their backs to each other.

Quickly, he and Gabriel just dropped all their excess clothes to the floor. After he was dressed, Sam, still facing the wall, picked up his phone to see if Dean or Castiel had replied, to give Gabriel time to change his clothes.

“Any news?”

“Nope. You all good?”

“Yes.”

Sam turned around and used his phone’s light to get a sense of where Gabriel was standing.

“The clothes okay?”

“Yes, thank you,” he said, standing in front of his dresser. Observing him in his new clothes, Sam assessed that he seemed more comfortable and that his shivering had somewhat subdued.

“Just a blanket or two, and I’ll be fine,” whispered Gabriel, while motioning to a spot on the floor by the bed.

Sam frowned. “Don’t be ridiculous.” Sam pointed at his bed. His bunk beds. He then, in that very moment, had never been more furious with himself to own bunk beds.

“Which one do you use,” said Gabriel. Sam could have sworn he had detected a brief smirk on Gabriel’s face.

“I usually sleep at the bottom, but that’s because that one is larger than the top one.”

Gabriel nodded.

“So I should take the top one,” said Gabriel, almost daunted by the task of climbing it, as he stepped closer to the bunks.

“That’s the one Cas used when he stayed over this week.”

“Did he?”

“Yeah.”

Gabriel gripped the ladder, but then let go of it and turned around to face Sam. “And what do we do if Cas shows up?” said Gabriel playfully.

“Right. I—I didn’t think of that.” Sam cleared his throat. “I mean, he did sleep there this whole week.”

“Sounds cruel to take it away from him after all this.”

“True.”

“So, where does that leave me, Sam?”

“I don’t mind sharing.”

“What?”

“My bed, I mean. The bottom one is a double.”

“How convenient. Only one problem.”

“What?”

“I’m having difficulty picturing Cas climbing this in his general state,” he said, glancing back at the ladder. “I can’t imagine him performing such a task drunk.”

“Right. I forgot about that.”

“It’s okay, I can tell you have a lot of things on your mind at the moment.”

Sam was very grateful for the poor visibility, as he could feel the blood rush to his cheeks.

“Maybe he won’t be as drunk by the time he gets here. And if he is, Dean’s bed is a double too.”

“So from what I understand,” said Gabriel, “is that we should prepare for all eventualities, which includes making sure to keep the top bunk available for Cas.”

Sam nodded.

“And no matter what,” continued Gabriel, “you’d be incline to share your bunk. With me.”

“For practicality of space value, of course,” said Sam, trying to tone down his enthusiasm.

“Of course.”

Sam gestured Gabriel to the bed.

Not understanding what the fuck was going on or how any of this was actually happening, Sam felt incredibly guilty that he was trying not to explode with jubilation, while they still had no clue where Castiel or Dean were physically and emotionally.

Not guilty enough to not continue, however.

Once Gabriel was settled in, Sam stepped towards the bed, but as he took hold of the covers, Gabriel lifted his arm as a warning, which made Sam pause.

“I hope you know, Sam,” he said in a very dignified tone, “that I will not tolerate any funny business.”

Even though he was still unable to properly see Gabriel’s face, Sam was convinced that it had taken Gabriel a celestial effort to say this without laughing. Nonetheless, Sam replied, with honesty, “Of course, no funny business.”

Gabriel sank his head into his pillows and Sam took his place next to him.

Sam Winchester was in bed with Gabriel Novak.

Gabriel Novak was in Sam Winchester’s bed. In his bedroom. While his parents were asleep. Unaware of this surprise guest.

Both of them just lying on their backs, next to each other.

With a silence pressing around.

And now it was awkward.

“This is a very comfortable bed, Sam,” said Gabriel whimsically, fixing the covers.

“Thanks.”

“Which mak—” Gabriel paused and cleared his voice.

“What? What we’re you going to say?”

“Nothing. I—I was going to say that—that whatever drama there is between Cas and Dean could have probably been avoided if we would have gone through with my plan.”

“Michael’s trap?”

“Yup.”

“Probably. I guess we’ll have to try it another time. Although, I’m really hoping we don’t have to and they just figure it out by themselves.”

“I’m afraid we’re way past that.”

“Was that story about your siblings really true?”

“Of course. I would never lie about such topic,” he said, feigning indignation. “I wouldn’t.” Gabriel turned his head towards Sam. “I wouldn’t lie to you.”

An awkward silence roamed about and Gabriel’s phone buzzed. Sam grabbed it from his nightstand and handed it to Gabriel.

“Is it Cas?” he whispered.

“Yes. He says he’s okay. He says—”

Gabriel stopped speaking, dialed up the phone and put it to his ear hastily. Sam twisted to his side to have a better view of him. The ringing died and the voicemail recording started. Gabriel groaned.

“What did he say in his text?”

“He said he’s okay,” said Gabriel, looking at his text message again, “somewhere safe and not outside anymore.”

“Not outside? He means inside? Where?”

“I don’t know. His choice of words is annoyingly vague. It’s either the work of booze or he is being vague on purpose.”

“And he’s not coming back?”

“No mention of it.”

Sam could tell Gabriel was worried.

“Do you want to call Naomi and the others?”

“No. I didn’t actually mean it. All they’ll do is focus on who is to blame instead of actually caring about him. They won’t go looking for him, they’ll just get wrapped up in their argument.”

Gabriel bit his bottom lip, staring at his phone again.

Sam gently reached out for his wrist. “You went out for him, Gabriel.”

He pursed his lips. “Maybe not as much as I should have.”

Sam sat up, resting his back on his headboard. “I much prefer you stay safe here, but I totally get it if you want to go after him?”

Gabriel looked down, sighing. “Is this bad?”

“No, of course not. If it wasn’t for the fact that, unlike me, Dean has a car, I’d be doing the same. Also, I know Dean has to come back here, and when he does, hopefully I can help him out. Dean should have additional information about Cas, so I’ll relay that. Although, then we’ll still have to deal with Cas not coming back and, well, I’m not really sure how we are going to explain that one…”

Gabriel repositioned himself on his back once more. “He says he’s okay, but…and then he has his phone…I could…” Gabriel exhaled loudly, not knowing what to do.

Sam sank down again and watched him weighing his options.

“What are you going to do?”

 

 

When Dean had reached his house the first time around that night, he noticed that his father’s truck was back and that his house appeared quiet and dark. So he concluded, as Sam had, that Castiel wasn’t there.

Not very surprising as he made it perfectly clear he wanted to be as far away from me as possible. Going back to my house would have at least implied that he was okay with seeing me eventually. Dean felt a pang to his chest at that thought.

I’ll just have to keep looking.

Not knowing where else Castiel could have gone, Dean walked aimlessly into the neighborhood for a very long time. The cold was biting, but his mind was too high on alert to care.

He went to the corner store, the one they often stopped at after school and where they used to buy their comics and candy when they were younger.

But nothing.

He went to the only twenty-four hour coffee shop around, a place he knew Castiel visited for their peppermint hot chocolate.

But nothing.

He even passed in front of Castiel’s house, just in case.

But nothing.

Although there wasn’t any way of knowing if Castiel was present or not, the house, just like his, appeared quiet. And Dean could see from the street that Castiel’s bedroom window was dark.

Helpless about where else to look, Dean took the scenic route back to the party, desperately hoping he would magically run into him. He rushed by an empty house, which had been for sale for years. He passed by an empty park. And a mini field. He even walked by Baby, which appeared perfectly intact after a quick inspection.

I’ll come back tomorrow at the latest.

Starting to severely feel the cold, he pressed on to reach Kali’s house, praying that Castiel was there, so he could finally explain everything.

Phoneless, he had no idea what time it was, but he also knew that with his endless wandering, curfew was probably very close.

Which meant that on top of finding Castiel, he had to make sure Sam would be home in time or everybody would be majorly screwed.

As he approached the house, the music and people’s voices became louder and louder.

He stood across the street, facing the house, assessing the crowd on the front lawn, in the hope of spotting a familiar face.

The only one he recognized was Lisa who, with a few of her friends, was busy getting into a cab, apparently leaving the party.

Feeling simultaneously relieved and guilty at this sight, Dean was at least glad to know they were getting home safely.

Once the cab had left, he slowly made his way to the house, and much to Dean’s dismay, after swooping the house three times in a row, he found no one. No Castiel. No Sam. Not even Gabriel, who was the orchestrator of this whole thing.

Even if this was the last thing he wanted to do, he even went back to the bathroom to get his jacket, but he couldn’t find it. No phone or keys either.

Half-panicking that his search had been fruitless, he went back downstairs and found himself on the lawn again, completely at a lost as to what he was supposed to do now.

That was when he spotted Ash on the porch, sitting on the swinging bench, seemingly in deep discussion with two guys and subtly stealing sips from their beers every time they were looking the other way. Only fucking Ash.

Dean dashed towards them and didn’t waste any moment to burst into their conversation.

“Ash! Hey, have you seen Cas or Sam?”

Ash, stunned at Dean’s sudden appearance, looked at him as if he had momentarily forgotten who was speaking to him, until he finally could put a name to the face.

“Whoa! Dean, hey! What’s up? Didn’t know you were here. When did—”

“Did you see them? Have you seen Sam at all?”

“Oh yeah, I’ve seen him. Your bro and Novak left together a while back.”

Dean froze. “They left?”

“Affirmative. Probably wanted to get comfy and by themselves. If you know what I mean,” he said, lifting both eyebrows.

Dean stopped breathing.

“Wha—what do you mean?”

“I see things. Not that it was difficult to spot tonight. I mean, those two were borderline hands on at some points,” said Ash. “What was the oth—”

“Thanks Ash,” mumbled Dean as he bolted away.

What the fuck.

What the fuck.

What the fuck.

And I mean.

What.

The.

Fuck.

Dean’s whole body was shaking as he went down the steps of the front porch. His chest tightened and breathing was difficult.

Okay, wait. It can’t—there has to be an explanation.

Yes, there is. What was it Castiel said before he stopped you?

Fuck you. NO. This is not—it can’t—

He came to halt and stood still in the middle of the front lawn, feeling numb.

“Dean?” said a worried voice in front of him.

He looked up and found Benny standing still next to a pretty brunette, both staring at him with anxious eyes.

“Are you okay? Can—can we help you?” she said.

Dean shook his head slowly. “I’m fine I just—I just need to—I’m leaving.” He cleared his throat and asked, “Do you have the time?”

Benny nodded. The girl looked at her phone and said,  “Almost twelve thirty.”

Dean shut his eyes. I am so fucked.

“Where’s your coat, cher?”

“I don’t know.”

Benny and the girl glanced at each other.

“You have a way back home, though, don’t you?”

“I—I’m fine. I can walk.”

“Dean, no. It’s too cold.”

“I’m fine. I swear. I don’t live far.”

“We can give you a lift. It’s really not a problem. I kind of insist,” said Benny.

“Please, I just—just want to be alone.”

Benny sighed. “I can’t force you, but…”

Dean swallowed and started walking away when he heard the girl say to Benny, “We can’t let him wander off like this. Look at him! He’ll catch his death. It’s a miracle he hasn’t already.”

“Dean, wait! Andrea’s right. Let us at least help you out with a coat.”

Dean stopped and frowned at them.

Benny took off his coat and handed it to him.

“I can’t take that. What about you?”

“I’ll be in my car. Warm.” He extended his hand again for Dean to grab it.

“Benny, no. It’s yours. I can’t.”

“You bring it back on Monday. It’s no problem.”

Dean was staring at them both.

Cher, I know you’re stubborn, but so am I. It’s this or a lift. Or both. You pick.”

Dean sighed, took Benny’s jacket and put it on. Instantly, he felt the biting cold diminish and realized in that moment how truly frozen he had been. He nodded and said, “Thank you.”

He turned around and headed home down the street, with great apprehension of what was awaiting for him back at home.

 

This time around, Dean made his way home at a leaden pace. He knew he had blown his curfew. He knew he would be in trouble, and even if he was aware that stalling wouldn’t make him avoid the outcome, but rather simply worsen his situation, he still dragged his feet slowly on the sidewalk.

When he reached his home for the second time that night, much to his surprise, he found the house exactly as he had left it: dark and silent.

No John pacing on the porch and waiting for an explanation as to why Dean wasn’t back home yet. Or why he hadn’t been with Castiel and Sam.

No Mary sitting at the kitchen island, drinking coffee and worried sick.

And both vehicles were still in the driveway, which meant no parents driving aimlessly around the neighborhood looking for him, ready to skin alive him either.

After picking up the hide-key from under one of the large flowerpots resting on the porch, he sneaked into the house as quietly as possible and spotted John peacefully sleeping on the couch.

Not exactly the scene he dreaded coming back home to.

Which somehow made everything much worse.

He stood next to the couch watching his father sleep. Aware that the protocol was to wake him and let him know he was home—a thing he had never failed to do before—but Dean remained still. He couldn’t do it. Waking up John would mean he would have to answer questions that he didn’t want to deal with in that moment. He was too tired for it all, and decided, knowing full well that it was the wrong thing to do, to simply go to his bedroom and be left alone.

He knew better than to think he had dodged a bullet. He would have to face the repercussions later on, but for now, pretending like nothing was wrong was the only thing he could master doing.

Thankful that his parents’ room was on the other side of the house, he still walked very carefully in the hallway leading to his room.

As he passed Sam’s room, he noticed that the door wasn’t completely shut.

Dean recognized that it was a bad idea, and yet, he couldn’t help himself.

He gently pushed the door and felt his stomach drop at the scene that unfolded before him.

The top bunk was empty.

Sam was sleeping on the bottom bunk.

And he wasn’t the only one there.

Sam was sharing the bottom bunk with someone.

Sam was snuggled up next to someone.

And then he saw it.

Castiel’s iconic beige trench coat was on the floor, surrounded by what Dean deduced to be shoes and pants that were taken off in a hurry.

And even though he could clearly see that Sam was still wearing pajamas, his brain could only focus on the fact that someone’s arm was resting comfortably across Sam’s chest.

Dean promptly walked away without any ceremony, went to his room, shut the door calmly, changed his clothes as quickly as possible and slid under the covers.

It took about five seconds before he could no longer fight back the tears as a massive lump formed itself in his throat.

The only thing that kept resonating in his mind was Castiel’s voice repeating again and again, “I don’t want to—I don’t want—”

Now, he knew the end of his sentence.

I don’t want you.

Chapter Text

It took Sam a moment to gather his thoughts when he opened his eyes the next morning. His mind was still in a haze.

He stirred a little, hoping to stretch, and soon realized that someone was snuggled up against him. With their arm resting over his chest. And their warm breath on the back of his neck.

And that was when certain details of the night before rushed back to him.

Not long after they had received Castiel’s last text the night before, instead of rushing off randomly after his brother, Gabriel had opted to stay and at least wait for Dean’s arrival, hoping it would shed light on Castiel’s whereabouts. 

Obviously, while waiting for Dean, they had both fallen asleep next to each other.

And now, Gabriel was spooning him.

The instant Sam became aware of this fact, he felt his heart pounding with excitement, and therefore knew that he needed to reposition himself or something very embarrassing was about to happen.

Something embarrassing had already almost happened during the night, and that had been a very, very close call.

And thinking about it wasn’t helping the situation, as it was about to occur again if he didn’t do something to rectify it immediately.

Even though Sam wanted nothing else but to keep things exactly as they were, he delicately rolled Gabriel onto his back. He instantly felt the warmth of Gabriel’s body leaving him.

The second he let go of him, thinking he had done a good job to not have woken him, he heard Gabriel let out a faint whine. “But now I’m all cold, Sam,” said Gabriel softly, with his eyes still shut and a smile on his face.

Sam froze, shutting his eyes for a second, angry with himself. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,” he whispered.

Gabriel repositioned himself on his side to look at Sam. “I know I had warned you about no funny business, so I hope this wasn’t over stepping that line.”

“No. No funny business. We just slept. And I—I didn’t mind.”

“No?”

Sam shook his head, and then inquired, “Did you?”

“I have to say, actually sleeping next to someone, not very common for me.”

“Really?” said Sam, intrigued.

“I’m usually…usually I…um,” he said, and after clearing his throat, he continued, “but I see there might be something to it.”

Sam nodded, feeling his heartbeat intensify.

“You make it so, anyways,” continued Gabriel.

Sam’s mind was on fire.

“Is it me or did you leave me all alone here at some point?” asked Gabriel.

Sam had to look away. “Bathroom. I needed to pee,” he blurted out.

Gabriel lifted an eyebrow, and even though Sam was avoiding his eyes, he was positive Gabriel must have been smirking.

“You’re sure about that?”

Fuck. “Um—yes.”

Sam had required an urgent trip to the bathroom, but had only dared leaving the bed once he had been convinced Gabriel had been sound asleep, after listening to his slow breathing.

He had been suspicious, however, that Gabriel had no longer been asleep when he had come back to bed next to him. His eyes had still been shut, and he had appeared like he hadn’t moved a muscle, but Sam had remained unsure.

“That was a long—and some would even say slightly noisy—call of nature.”

FUCK. “Wha—was it?” said Sam, incapable of thinking of something else to say.

“Don’t worry. I did say slightly noisy. Your house is immensely quiet compared to mine, and I have out-of-this-world hearing. It’s a problem most of the time,” he said, turning on his back. “But it occasionally does leave me with a pleasant surprise.”

Sam was convinced he was about to die of embarrassment.

“I hope it made you feel better. It sounded like it did.”

Yup. Dead. I’m dead. I am deceased. I died.

They stayed on their backs, remained silent, and did nothing but listen to each other’s slow breathing.

With their imagination running wild.

A few minutes passed and Sam’s heart was about to jump out of his chest as he could practically feel Gabriel’s thoughts radiate next to him.

“Sam?” said Gabriel softly. “I’m going to get up now. I need to get off this bed because if I don’t…and the last thing I want to do is overstep my bounds on your already generous hospitality.”

“You, um, you wouldn’t be overstepping,” mumbled Sam, not believing what he had just said.

Gabriel groaned next to him. “I’ll keep that in mind,” he said gently, “but for another occasion, and only when you’ve had time to really think about it yourself. For starters. Okay?”

Sam let the words sink in. “Okay.” Keeping perfectly still, he felt Gabriel slowly sitting up next to him and observed him easing himself off to the foot of the bed.

Once Gabriel was officially standing, Sam sat up in his turn, but made sure to stay seated at the edge.

They both studied each other for a long minute.

“Morning,” whispered Gabriel.

Sam smiled. “Morning.”

Gabriel peaked at the top bunk. “I was pretty sure we would have noticed a drunken Cas barging in on us. Especially one trying to climb this. I suppose the upside is that Cas was spared witnessing this very private and enlightening conversation.” Sam could feel the blood rush to his cheeks. “The downside, however,” continued Gabriel, “is that I have no idea where my brother is.”

He reached for his pants and took a pack of bubblegum out of his pockets.

“Don’t tell my dentist,” he said, offering one to Sam. Sam smiled and took one for himself too.

Sam, chewing on his gum, glanced at the wall he shared with Dean’s room, wishing he could momentarily see through it.

Gabriel followed his glance. “Dean’s room?” Sam nodded. “You think they’re here?”

“I didn’t hear anything.”

“Check your phone,” said Gabriel. Sam picked up both phones from his nightstand and handed Gabriel’s back to him. 

Looking at his own, Sam was worried. No messages. Not from Dean or Castiel. He quickly sent a text to Dean, in case they were both just on the other side of the wall.

 

Sam: Are you home?

Sam: Is Cas with you?

Sam: Are you okay???

 

Sam hoped to hear a phone ring or a noise of Dean stirring in his bed and reaching for his phone, thus indicating that he was indeed home.

But nothing.

That was not good.

“Any luck?” he whispered to Gabriel. “I got nothing from either of them.”

“This is bad.”

Sam looked up from his phone. “What? You got something? Cas texted you?”

“No, not Cas. Naomi. And Duma. And…” Gabriel was scrolling down his phone, and then frantically put it away as he grabbed his boots in a hurry and began to put them on. “I have to go, I’m sorry.”

“What is it?”

“I don’t know the details. It’s incoherent and vague, but it’s about Cas.”

Sam’s stomach dropped. “No.” Sam stood up. “Is he okay? Is he at your house?”

Gabriel shook his head and said, “I don’t know. But given the massive amount of lengthy texts Naomi sent me, it doesn’t look good and I have to go. I never know with them. It could literally be them overreacting to the most insignificant thing ever, but I—I don’t know.” He put his coat on, but stopped abruptly. “Your clothes,” he said, remembering he was wearing Sam’s pajamas.

He hurriedly started to pick up a few items of clothing on the floor, when Sam said, “Don’t worry about that. We’ll sort it out later.”

Gabriel hesitated for an instant, but then nodded, keeping in hand what he was holding and leaving the rest on the floor.

“Front door?” whispered Gabriel.

Sam shook his head vividly with wide eyes. He pointed at the window. “Much safer.”

“Better hurry up, then,” said Gabriel.  Sam helped him by opening the window for him. Gabriel threw the clothes he was holding out of the window and skillfully slithered himself through it afterwards.

Once outside, he seized the clothes again and stood still in front of the window facing Sam.

They stared at each other awkwardly for a moment. “This—this isn’t how I wanted to leave,” said Gabriel.

Sam smiled shyly. “It’s okay. I know.”

They continued looking at each other, uncertain about what else to say, when they heard it.

“DEAN WINCHESTER! SAM! SAMMY!” yelled John, making them both jump. “DEAN, YOU BETTER BE IN YOUR ROOM BECAUSE YOU HAVE A LOT TO EXPLAIN! YOU BOTH DO! DEAN!”

“That sounds bad,” said Gabriel. “I…should I stay and help?”

Sam shook his head grimly. “No, better you leave now, actually.” He leaned towards the window. “You go help your brother and I’ll go save mine,” he said. And without thinking, he pulled him by his jacket and kissed him quickly.

Gabriel instantly dropped everything he was holding, and the next thing Sam knew, Gabriel’s soft hands were caressing the back of his neck, as he was kissing him back.

The kiss was short and gentle, but effective. With a lot of heart and tenderness.

Sam’s heart was jumping in his chest and he felt dizzy for a second.

Gabriel leaned his head backwards to take a good look at Sam and as he was about to say something, they both heard John calling for Sam and Dean again.

While Sam would have loved nothing more than to get lost in that moment forever, he knew that he had to let go of Gabriel and step away as far as possible from this window, or he would get even more in trouble than he most likely already was.

With a heavy heart, he watched Gabriel rushing away from the house after he had grabbed his stuff. But once he reached the sidewalk, Gabriel froze and looked back at Sam again. Sam smiled as he waved at him, to let him know that everything was fine. A moment more of hesitation from Gabriel, and then he turned around and hurried down the street for good.

Sam shut his window quietly, but hastily.

With John yelling, there was no point for Sam to fake waking up. And due to the fact that he hadn’t woken his father the night before, there was also no point in pretending to be confused about whatever drama was about to be unfold. So, he stepped away from his window and gunned for his door.

Just before he reached it, however, John barged into his room and came face-to-face with him. The moment John assessed that Sam was standing in front of him, instant relief spread through John’s face and before Sam had time to utter a single word, John hugged him tightly, repeating, “Thank God, thank God.” He stepped away from Sam, taking one more look at him, as if to make sure he was fine, and then was hit with another wave of distress. Knowing that Sam was home and safe, John then turned around and screamed Dean’s name.

Stunned, Sam peaked into the hallway, just in time to witness John burst into Dean’s room.

“THANK GOD!” he heard his father yell. “Mary! He’s here! They’re both here!” Sam heard his mother reply, “Oh, thank God,” at the other end of the hallway. His father then asked Dean, “Where’s Castiel?”

Sam, wanting proof of Dean’s wellbeing as much as John, dashed to his brother’s doorway. He was washed with an immense wave of relief at the sight of Dean indeed safely home.

John was standing next to Dean’s bed and practically dragged him out of it in order to hug him and verify once and for all that Dean was truly all in one piece.

“Well! Explain?” said John. He wasn’t yelling anymore, but he was using his drill sergeant tone. A tone he only used when he was genuinely upset.

“I don’t…I…I’m—”

“It’s bad enough I woke up in the living room when daylight’s already here with no memory of either of my children checking in the night before, as they should have—there is no excuses there, absolutely none,” he said in a shaking voice. “But on top of that, I got to wake up to Jody phoning in to inform us that she just answered a call about a vehicle parked suspiciously at the corner of Knight and MacLeod, with broken windows and traces of blood around it. A 67 Chevy Impala matching your license plate. And then, imagine the heart attack it gave us, your mother and I, when we saw the Impala was missing from the driveway. So, explain yourself, right now.”

Sam’s jaw dropped.

“What?” said Dean, staggered.

“Are they okay?” said Mary frantically, as she appeared next to Sam and instantly wrapped her arms around him.

“I—I don’t know anything about that,” said Dean.

“Why was the car there?”

“How did you boys get back?”

“Walked,” said Dean, looking down.

“Were you drinking?”

“What? No! I…I lost my j—my keys. I couldn’t find my keys. I tried to go back, but it just… I just figured I’d leave the car there and go back for the keys today.” He sat back on his bed.

It wasn’t until that moment that Sam noticed how awful Dean appeared. He was pale and his eyes were puffy and red, as if he had been crying.

A lot.

And Dean was staring at the floor, desperately trying to hide it. Which worried Sam immensely.

“I don’t know anything about the car,” Dean said. “I’m sorry for scaring you.”

“I’m just glad you’re okay.”

“What about you, Sammy?” asked Mary.

But before Sam could say anything, Dean said, “Sam didn’t do anything. He wasn’t around the car all day.

“Where’s Castiel?” asked Mary. Dean crossed his arms on his chest and continued eyeing the floor.

“Um, I—I’m not sure,” said Sam. “But I don’t think he’s here,”

“What?” said Dean, lifting his head. “What do—I saw him. I saw him here.”

“What? Where?” said Sam, massively confused.

“You know where,” he said in a broken voice. If it hadn’t been for the fact that Dean looked utterly destroyed in that moment, Sam would have expected Dean to lash at him.

“I…I don’t know what—”

“Sam, stop. I know.”

“Know what?”

“Yes, know what?” said John.

Dean was now glaring at Sam.

“Dean, I’m not lying. I don’t—” began saying Sam, still puzzled.

“I saw him,” continued Dean, cutting him off now obviously angry. “And the coat, and…everything, okay? Stop.”

That was when Sam’s eyes widened.

“Oh God. Wait, Dean—no. No, that’s not—”

“Stop. Just stop...”

Sam was panicking, finally understanding everything.

“Dean, Cas really isn’t here.”

“Boys?” said Mary.

“What you kicked him out or something?” said Dean, appalled at what he was hearing. “Or he just left because I—I…”

“No, wait, I did no—I—” paused Sam, sighing in frustration. “He didn’t leave because he wasn’t here,” he said, lifting an eyebrow as subtly as he could in the hope that Dean would understand what he was implying.

Dean stared at him, and for a second Sam believed Dean had indeed understood.

But then he shook his head.

“You’re such—I saw the coat,” he muttered.

Sam sighed. Desperate, he turned to his father with a pleading face. “Dad, I…I need to speak to Dean…a—alone for a moment. Please, it’s very important.”

“Oh, that I’m sure it is,” he said with a deep breath. “Which is why we are all going to go have breakfast and talk. All of us.”

“Um…okay, but can I please talk to Dean first…”

“No, Sam. You will talk to him at the breakfast table, because if you feel like you need to explain something to Dean, it probably means your mother and I also need this explanation. I, for one, have many questions that demand pressing answers. Starting with where Castiel is, a detailed account of what exactly happened last night and why I was woken up by the worst phone call of my life.”

John motioned everyone to exit the room. Mary went ahead down the hallway, followed by Dean. Sam stayed by the doorway, hoping to slip a few quick words to him before they sat at the table. But it turned out that Dean had expected it and whispered to him a very distinct and firm, “Do. Not,” when he passed by him, only to hurry down the hallway, putting as much distance from his brother as possible.

 

 

Castiel felt like he was dying.

His head, along with every single bone and muscle in his body, was hurting. It was nothing compared to how he felt when the memories of the previous night’s events between him and Dean came rushing in, however.

A loud wail of desperation came out of him.

“AND IT’S ALIVE!” someone yelled excruciatingly loudly next to him. “You owe me fifty bucks and a non-negotiable dare! He woke up before noon. Pay up.”

“You woke him up!” objected Michael.

“Did not! He clearly was awake already. What do you suppose that long moaning was?”

“He was dreaming,” suggested Michael.

“Ha! If that’s the case, then little brother here is having the most tragic nightmare about being impaled. That, or,” said Lucifer, suddenly changing to a more playful tone, “perhaps he’s having the most carnal dream of impaling someone, if you catch my drift.”

Fucking kill me.  

“What is going on?” yelled Naomi from another room.

“He’s awake,” reported Michael.

“I think it’s the latter,” continued Lucifer. “But whatever this is, giving the random mumbling he gave us last night, my money is obviously on Dean Winchester being that someone.”

Fuck.

Castiel opened his eyes in panic.

“Oh my God, please. Shut up, both of you.”

“Look who’s a little grump? Huh, maybe it was the nightmare after all. No one would be that grumpy after a sex dream.”

Castiel pretty much wanted to die of mortification. He sat himself up with great difficulty. “What’s going on?” he complained. “What are you all doing in my room?” And what the hell am I doing here in the first place?

Lucifer let out a maniacal laugh. “Your what now?”

“You are in such big trouble, Castiel! Explain yourself for your behavior last night!”

“What happened?”

“You tell us!” Naomi was screaming, which did nothing to help his pounding head. “You showed up here drunk in the middle of the night. You are lucky you were so loud otherwise we might have thought you were a burglar.”

“The funny part was that we thought it was Gabe.”

“And just as we were about to ask him if he hadn’t heard of a front door before—”

“We realized it was you.”

“Plot twist, am I right?”

“Why did you think I was Gabe?”

“We didn’t expect that sort of behavior out of you,” scoffed Naomi. “Until now that is.”

“Still doesn’t explain what you’re all doing in my bedroom,” he said, shutting his eyes, due to the brightness of the light.

“Yeah, about that, take a look around,” said Lucifer.

Painfully, Castiel did as he was told and noticed for the first time the vivid red walls and the questionable creepy and angsty art over it.

“This isn’t my room,” he said at a loss at everything.

“Nope. It’s mine,” said Lucifer.

“Why…”

“Are you here?” finished Lucifer. “Excellent question as I would like to know the answer as well.”

“I don’t understand. I don’t even understand how I’m here?” How I did I get here?

“Crept in like a poorly skilled ninja.”

“In the middle of the night!” repeated Naomi.

“Through one of the windows.”

“We’re not exactly sure which one.”

“The state you were in, Castiel!”

“Absolutely inconsiderate of others.”

“Not to mention disrespectful.”

“Our little innocent angel of a brother, drunk off his ass like a perfect delinquent.”

“Never been so proud,” said Lucifer.

“This is not funny, Lucifer.”

“Why am I here?” Castiel whined.

“We’re supposed to make sense of your crazy?” asked Michael.

“You—” started saying Lucifer, but Naomi cut him off.

“Never mind that,” she said. “What happened? Explain yourself. Is this what happens when you are at the Winchesters? Because I thought they had much better sense than this. I ought to call them.”

“No,” said Castiel, panicking. “No, that wasn’t their doing. I wasn’t there.”

“Then by all means, tell us where the hell you’ve been this whole week.”

“No, I mean—” said Castiel, exasperated. “I was staying at their house this week, like I said. But last night, I wasn’t there. This did not happen over there.” Castiel felt paralyzed at the idea of Dean’s parents seeing him like this. Hell, he was pretty glad Dean hadn’t witnessed what a pitiful state he had been afterwards.

“Then where? Where were you?”

“I—I, um,” he cleared his throat as he hesitated on how much information he should share. One look at all three of them standing over him, however, made him understand that saying nothing at all was also not an option. “I was at a party.”

“A party?”

“Yes.”

“You?”

“Is it Christmas already? This is getting better and better.”

“Where was this party?”

“Yeah, that’s rude. Why didn’t you tell us?”

“CAS!” yelled someone anxiously from the floor below, which was followed by a loud slamming door.

All three older siblings surrounding Castiel turned their heads quickly towards the doorway.

“CAS, ARE YOU HERE?”

“This sounds promising. Maybe Gabe will be able to shed light on this mystery.”

“Upstairs, Gabe!” yelled Michael, which made Castiel flinch at the loudness.

“What happened? Is he here?” yelled Gabriel, while running up the stairs. “Is Cas okay?”

“Define okay?” snarled Lucifer. “At least we know he’s human now.”

Gabriel finally appeared in the doorway, completely out of breath.

“Perfect timing,” said Naomi. “Castiel here was just about to explain to us what happened at the party he went to last night, for him to end up barging in here in the middle of the night. Drunk. Care to comment?”

Gabriel swallowed.

Great. Now we’re both going to be dead.

 

 

Troubled that his attempt to explain himself to Dean had failed, Sam followed his family down the hall, but only after he had taken the opportunity to stop by his bedroom (on the false account that he needed to grab a warmer sweater) in order to send Gabriel a quick update via text.

Both Sam and Dean were now sitting at the dining room table. The coffee machine was brewing loudly in the kitchen, and Mary and John were both busy preparing something quick to eat during their family discussion, while they waited for Jody’s arrival.

Meanwhile, Sam was desperately attempting to get Dean’s attention and clarify the whole misunderstanding. It was shortly proven to be a difficult task to accomplish under his parents’ noses.

Although both parents remained quiet, Sam could feel John’s stare on both of them. He knew his father was studying them with attention, which meant that if Sam tried anything too obvious, John would immediately weigh in.

Nevertheless, Dean wasn’t interested. He was stewing on the other side of the table, determined to avoid everybody’s eyes, Sam’s in particular. His stubbornness and obvious state of pain brought Sam to severely consider giving himself up to his parents. He knew he would get into serious trouble, but at least Dean would know once and for all that it was a big misunderstanding.

He then gathered, however, that even if would do so, this would not explain the car. This would not explain Castiel’s absence. This would not explain why Dean had left the party. And it certainly would not explain what on earth had happened between Castiel and Dean the night before.

Therefore, Sam made the decision that he would come clean and confess it all to his parents, but only if it would become necessary.

Which made him feel incredibly guilty, particularly at the sight of a woeful Dean.

But in the meantime, he would keep it under wraps and hopefully—somehow—help his brother.

He simply had no clue how on earth he was supposed to do this. Sam hoped Gabriel was having better luck with Castiel.

“So, would anyone care to explain to us what has been happening lately?” asked John.

Both boys remained silent.

This is going to go terribly wrong.

 

 

“Gabriel? Did you hear what I said?”

“Yes, any idea how this happened?” asked Michael.

“Are you okay?” Gabriel asked Castiel, ignoring the others.

“And just where have you been all week, anyway?” asked Lucifer.

“Cas?” repeated Gabriel, walking into the room, only to suddenly pause, noticing which room they were all standing in. “Why are we in Luce’s room?”

“It turns out that little bro is a mean drunk. He decided to take over and literally pushed me out of my own room.”

“Why didn’t you just bring him to his room?” asked Gabriel, puzzled.

“Believe me, we tried,” said Lucifer.

“He was totally off his head,” said Naomi. “One second he was nearly whimpering at the idea of stepping one foot outside this room because this was ‘the bad place.’”

Gabriel frowned at her.

“Whatever that means,” mumbled Lucifer.

“And the next he was stating that he couldn’t wait to get out of this place,” she continued.

“Then he went on a rant that he deserved nothing and he was just like the rest of us.”

“What was that about?”

“He mentioned a lot of incoherent things.”

“Whatever it was, Dean was mentioned once or twice,” said Lucifer, lifting his eyebrows suggestively.

Gabriel drew a breath and stepped closer to Castiel. Shit, he looks awful. “Cas?”

Castiel shook his head. “I’m going to be sick,” he said, letting himself drop onto the bed.

“Nice try.”

“Yeah, whatever little drama happened with your Dean, it won’t get you out of this.”

You ass—

“You still need to explain. Like, now already.”

Gabriel turned to the others and took a deep breath. “Okay. Get out,” he said.

“What?”

“Excuse me?”

“I said out! Get out of this room, right now.” He pushed them into the hallway.

“This is my room, little brother.”

“And you’ll get it back after I’ve spoken with Cas. Alone.”

“This is not how it works,” said Michael.

“You don’t tell us what to do. You answer to us, Gabriel,” said Naomi.

“Yes, you still have a lot to explain yourself,” added Lucifer.

“You owe us that.”

“Newsflash,” blasted Gabriel, “I don’t owe you three crazy selfish bastards anything! Neither does he,” he said, pointing at Castiel, half dead on the bed. He thought about it for a moment, and then added, “Okay, maybe he does a bit…some apologies about last night, whatever it is that he did or said—but even then! So what? From what I heard, this is nowhere near the usual crap you three pull on us. Hell, I’ve done worse myself, and I still have a lot to do to reach your spectrum. The point is that Cas was obviously upset about something last night, and if, for once in your life, you weren’t so caught up in your perpetual insane drama, you would have noticed and even done something to help him.”

“Unlike you, you mean?”

“I WAS. I was looking out for him. I obviously failed and that’s on me, but at least it’s more than I can say about you three who were here LITERALLY NEXT TO HIM.”

“How could we know or do anything about him when he was gone all week!”

“I am so glad you’re mentioning this,” laughed Gabriel, lifting his hands in the air. “Whose fault was that? You think I’m never around the house when you guys are here because I have such a busy social life? Surprise! I don’t! I make a point of keeping myself occupied so I have an excuse to not be here. You are all so exhausting. I don’t want to escape somewhere else and I know Cas doesn’t want to either, but we both have to in order to not get sucked into your stuff. Cas has a place he can go no matter what, and I’m so freaking relieved at this. But the difference for me is that I don’t. I have to improvise. And I’m reminded of this every freaking time it happens. But whatever. I manage. Mostly because people generally like to have me around on account that I’m supposedly such a laugh or because—whatever! I still know that’s all they care about: for me to entertain them. They don’t care about me, just like you obviously don’t care about him or me. So, either start doing so or stop pretending. But in any case, get out!”

Gabriel slammed the door in their faces. He swiftly locked the door, pushed a chair up against it for good measure and dropped onto the foot of the bed, as the other three were pounding on the other side of the door, yelling inaudible things all at once.

Both brothers remained quiet, until the other three finally stopped and walked away, after they heard Michael yell, “This isn’t over!”

“Gabe,” said Castiel, who slowly sat up, “everything you just said…”

“Don’t,” Gabriel stopped him. “I’m just—never mind that for a minute. Cas, please, what in the world happened?”

Castiel lowered his eyes with no answers.

“You really scared me last night. It was so stupid of you to go off like that. Alone. And drunk? What the hell?”

“I know, I’m sorry.”

Gabriel waited for him to continue speaking, but Castiel remained quiet.

“Cas, please, tell me what happened. No judgment, here. I promise.”

“I can’t. I can’t tell you,” he said.

“Why not?”

“It’s too difficult,” he said in broken voice.

“Take your time,” he said, amused. “I’m in no hurry. In fact, the longer we let those idiots stew outside that door, the happier it will make me.”

Still nothing. Not even a faint smile from his brother.

“Well,” he sighed, “I guess we’ll just have to stay here forever then, because I am not leaving this room until you say something.” He repositioned himself on the bed, stretching his legs and resting his back against the wall. “Personally, I would have picked a less anxious setting,” he said, looking questionably around at Lucifer’s disturbing décor.

Castiel shrugged. “I just needed a place to crash, I suppose.”

“And you picked the worst cell in hell, because?”

“It’s not the worst one,” mumbled Castiel.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

Gabriel frowned as he watched his brother swallow and pull slightly on his sleeve.

A phone buzzed on the nightstand. Castiel grabbed it and after further observation, he said, “This isn’t mine.”

Gabriel frowned. “Whose is it?”

“Dean’s.” Castiel felt his eyes prickling and his chest becoming heavy.

“How do you have Dean’s phone?” tried Gabriel.

“Um, I—it was in his coat. I grabbed it by mistake.”

“Right,” said Gabriel, trying to remember the drunken gibberish Castiel had told him on the phone the night before. “And why by mistake?”

“I left in a hurry.”

“And why was that?”

Castiel crossed his arms on his chest.

“Cas,” said Gabriel, “why did you leave in a hurry? Why did you leave at all?”

But Cas stayed silent.

“What happened with Dean, Cas? I know it’s about him.” Then, after a short pause, he said, “It is about Dean, right?”

Castiel, still not looking at him, gave him a quick nod. 

“Okay. What happened? Did you finally tell him?”

Castiel didn’t move.

“Did he say something?”

Nothing.

“Did he react badly?”

Nothing.

“Cas? Come on, I’m dying here. You have to tell me something.”

Castiel sighed. Still avoiding Gabriel’s eyes, he said slowly, “I was in the bathroom upstairs. Cleaning my shirt. Dean showed up.”

“And?”

“He kissed me.”

This was not what Gabriel had expected.  He what now? Um. What?

“So, Dean kissed you. How—I’m guessing something else happened, otherwise I don’t understand why we’re not throwing a parade right now.”

“He kissed me,” repeated Castiel. “I kissed him back. But things got…” Castiel ended his sentence there. For half a crazy second, Gabriel’s protective side took over him and he then feared some horrible scenario where Dean had taken advantage of Castiel.

“Did Dean get a little too forward?” he asked, trying to remain calm. “Like, did he—was he, um, pushy?”

 Castiel stared at him in horror for his insinuation. “God, no. No. He—I was—I—nothing like that.”

Gabriel nodded, somewhat relieved at that fact, but also hating himself that his mind immediately dived into the dark place. “Then, what?”

“We were just making out,” continued Castiel. Gabriel noticed Castiel was blushing.

“Details, please,” he said, trying to lighten the mood.

“Gabe, no. I’m…it’s personal.”

“Come on.”

Castiel shot him a look.

“Fine, but so going back to that later. What happened then?”

“We were, you know, but then I—I just—I don’t know. I froze and I—he—”

Gabriel frowned. “Cas, I just asked you if Dean—”

“And he didn’t,” he assured him. “It wasn’t Dean. I just had a moment of—that wasn’t—we were both into it. It seemed so…but before I—we got interrupted. Someone walked in on us.”

Shit.

“Lisa and her friend.”

Double shit.

“And it was bad. Her friend was yelling. Lisa was obviously really hurt. And then…” said Castiel, whose voice had suddenly broken. “Then,” he said, trying to regain his composure, “Dean started apologizing to Lisa. He said that he shouldn’t had done that and that he had made a mistake.”

Triple shit and a raspberry.

Winchester, what the fuck?

“He what?”

“I just couldn’t take it. I couldn’t just stay there. So, I left.”

“He didn’t stop you?”

Castiel shook his head.

Motherfucker.

“It was obvious that I was not Dean’s priority in all accounts, so I made myself scarce.”

What the fuck. This can’t be what happened? How can this be what happened after everything?

“And after that? Where did you go? Why didn’t you come to find me?”

“Honestly Gabe, the moment that—everything was kind of a blur. All I remember was that I needed to get out of there as fast as I could. I ended up at a park and sat there. It was cold.”

“Yeah, you mentioned it once or twice,” said Gabriel.

Castiel frowned, and then tilted his head. “You called me,” he said, suddenly remembering.

“And this brings me to another question. Again, no judgment, but since when did you become drunk Cas?”

“Oh, um, yeah, I—I picked up one bottle on my way out and, um, I drank at the park.”

Gabriel stared at him. “Cas, I know I’m in no position—no position, whatsoever—to tell you what to do, but you can’t ever do this again. Taking off alone like that? Ever.”

Castiel nodded.

Gabriel continued observing his brother more intensively. He knew Castiel had been upset, that much was obvious, and yet, his sudden change of behavior made him wonder if he wasn’t missing something. But he left it there for the moment.

“So, after my call you came here and texted me a super vague text to let me know you were not outside anymore. Why didn’t you just say you were home?”

“I what?”

They both looked at each other.

“Gabe, I don’t remember how I got here. I remember speaking to you. And now that we’re talking about it, I remember leaving the park, but I wasn’t planning on coming here. I—I don’t remember anything besides that. I don’t know why I came here. Habit? You said I texted you?”

Gabriel nodded. Castiel bit his lip.

“Okay, well for now, let’s just be glad you made it back in one piece. Maybe some of the details will come back later on. Now, I know it’s a stupid question, but how are you feeling?”

“Like I’m dying.”

“Hmm. Hangovers will do that.”

“I don’t think the hangover is the worst part,” he said slowly, lowering his eyes.

Gabriel let out a deep sigh.

“Cas, I’m…I’m so sorry. I don’t know what the hell his problem is, because I know—I know it—I know he likes you. Everybody can see it. That dumb idiot doesn’t deserve you. I don’t understand why he did that. He freaked. He’s a shit person and I’m totally going to kick his ass, but—”

“No, Gabe. I—I think it’s my fault.”

Gabriel stopped dead.

“Don’t you dare say that—”

“But it’s true. I—like I said, I’m the one who…panicked. And, look, I—I haven’t totally been fair about this whole thing either. There are things you don’t know. Even if I wasn’t overly conniving, I can’t help but think that I manipulated the situation.”

“Yeah…So, that’s a no for me,” said Gabriel in a mocking voice.

“Trust me, it’s true.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Why?”

“Because it—it involves someone else and I promised I wouldn’t tell.”

“Secrets? Yes, see, now you have to tell me.”

“Gabe, no, I can’t. I just—I just want to sleep. Or pass out. Everything hurts, even my hair. I told you what happened last night, like you wanted. I can now die of embarrassment in peace.”

“I still want to know.”

“What happened with you last night?” asked Castiel.

Gabriel lifted an eyebrow. “Changing the topic of conversation? Really, Cas? I invented that.”

“Where were you? Stayed at Kali’s like you wanted?”

“No. Why do you say that?” said Gabriel defensively.

“Well, obviously you weren’t here. And wasn’t that your point for the whole party? And, honestly, you look like…”

There is no fucking way this is written on my face.

“Like what?”

Castiel thought about it. “I don’t know.”

No. Fucking. Way.

“So?” he said. “Did it work with Kali or not?”

Gabriel sat up. “Actually, no. It did not.”

And Castiel saw that Gabriel was trying to hide a grin.

“Huh-uh. Gabe? You did something naughty, didn’t you?”

Fucking hell.

Gabriel awkwardly checked his phone, wanting to avoid the topic, when he noticed that Sam had sent him messages a while back.

He hoped Sam was sending him an update from his end.

And it was. Just not the update he was hoping for.

 

Sam: We have a problem.

Sam: Dean saw us when he sneaked into the house last night. Only, he didn’t see you, he just noticed someone lying next to me and Cas’ trench coat on the ground. He is refusing to speak to me because he’s convinced I slept with Cas and stole him from him. Which I can’t blame him for, but now I can’t even explain that’s not the case.

Sam: Also, the reason why Dad was yelling this morning was because someone vandalized the Impala. Dean says he doesn’t know anything about it and that he left the car parked there because he lost his keys. A police officer, friend of the family, is on her way to ask questions.

Sam: He said nothing about Cas, other than he thinks we’re together, which means he obviously wasn’t with him last night (otherwise why would he think he was with me?)

Sam: Is Cas okay? What happened?

 

“What’s wrong?” asked Castiel, studying Gabriel’s stunned expression.

“Um, I don’t know, Cas. I’m a little confused by many things right now.”

 

 

 

“We’re waiting boys.”

Nothing.

Mary and John both took their place at the table, bringing coffee mugs, orange juice for Sam and Dean, and toasts for everyone.

Everyone grabbed their beverage and nibbled down on some food.

Everyone, but Dean.

Mary and John exchanged looks.

Feeling pressured, Dean picked up a toast, but did not eat it. He simply put it down on his plate and miserably stared down at the table.

John took a deep breath.

“All right. Let’s start with this: Dean, you said you lost your keys. Why didn’t you call us?”

Dean quickly glanced at Sam, before setting his eyes back to the table, remaining quiet.

“You both know that’s the rule if there is an issue,” said Mary. “Even if it’s late. Even if you think you’ll be in trouble. You’re really lucky. Something horrible could have had happened.”

“Something horrible might have happened,” pointed out John.

“I know,” said Dean. “I’m sorry. I lost my cell phone. It’s probably wherever my keys are.”

Sam shut his eyes, finally understanding why Dean had gone radio silent since the night before.

“And I just—the party wasn’t very far from the house. So, I just…”

“And once you left the party, you headed straight home?”

Dean bit his lip. “Home, yes.”

Sam frowned.

That—that doesn’t add up.

When he and Gabriel had noticed Castiel’s absence had been too long and went searching for him, Dean had also been nowhere to be found. Which suggested that Dean had left the party before he and Gabriel had.

If Dean had went straight home like he was saying, he would have arrived before them. And Sam had checked his room. Dean had not been home when they had arrived.

Furthermore, the only way for Dean to have seen Gabriel and Sam—and this without their knowledge—was because Dean had sneaked into the house late into the night. Sam couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment he had fallen asleep, but he knew it had been past curfew.

Which also meant that even if Dean had made a detour to check on his car, there was a two-hour gap (minimum) of Dean not being at the party, or at home, or in his car driving.

Where the hell were you and what were you doing?

“When did you leave the party?” asked Mary.

“I…don’t really remember. Left in a hurry.”

“Why was that?”

Dean shifted in his seat.

“Dean? Why did you leave?”

Silence.

Mary sighed and turned to Sam. “What about you, Sam? Care to tell us when you both left?”

Shit. Both?

“Not sure,” said Sam. Technically not a lie, as I really don’t know when Dean left.

“Which means?”

“What I said.” Shit. Shit. Shit.

Based on John’s expression, he wasn’t impressed with Sam’s answer.

“I know Dean said he lost his phone, but what about you? Why didn’t you call us?”

Um, because I didn’t know where Dean was and I didn’t want to throw him under the bus? FUCK. WHAT DO I SAY?

“Sam?”

Sam cleared his throat, thinking of a semi-plausible answer. I don’t know what to say. I just don’t want to get Dean in trouble. I can’t say he left without us. Without me.

Just as he was about to blurt out something ridiculous, Dean cut him off.

“He didn’t call you because he didn’t know I had lost my keys,” said Dean with his eyes down still. “Or my phone.”

Sam froze. No. Fuck. Dean, no. Don’t do this. Don’t say it.

“How is that?”

Dean swallowed.

“Because I left without telling him.”

Dean. What. Are. You. Doing.

“You what?”

“You left your brother there?”

“It’s okay. It wasn’t a big deal,” said Sam hurriedly. “I’m fine.”

“This is not the point, Sam,” said John.

Dean did nothing but stare blankly at his plate.

“Dean,” said John, “why did yo—”

“Look, it’s fine,” said Sam, panicking. “When I was ready to leave and I couldn’t find Dean, I—I just assumed he—he was maybe bringing Lisa home.” Lying. That’s a lie. Dean, I’m lying for you. “I didn’t know about the keys or the phone. So, I le—left and sent him a text to let him know.” True. But also a lie.

“And when was that?”

“I think around ten.”

“And you went back home?”

“Yes.”

“Alone?”

Sam opened his mouth and shut it. “No, someone walked me home.”

“Who?”

“Gabriel.” Please, don’t ask me when he left.

Dean lifted his eyes at him. Yes, Dean. Gabriel. I was with Gabriel. But Dean’s eyes went back to his untouched toast.

“Then what?”

“Then nothing. I, um, I arrived home and went to bed.” Definitely putting a toe on the line of lies.

“Without waking your father?”

Sam bit his lip, looked down and nodded.

“Why?”

I have to say one thing that is true. Even if it’s bad.

“Because I didn’t want to get Dean in trouble. It was still early enough for him to make curfew.” Sam swallowed. Desperate to help Dean, he added, “When I got here the house was dark so I just assumed he wasn’t back yet. But now that I know about the car keys and the phone, and because Dean obviously left before me, it’s, um, clear that Dean was probably here and I just didn’t know.” And back at lying.

Dean was eyeing him like he was trying to read his mind. Sam found consolation in the fact that at least he wasn’t ignoring him anymore.

“I see,” said John. “And since I woke up this morning, I suppose it’s because Dean had the same idea when he arrived home on his own?” he asked Dean.

Nothing.

John sighed deeply.

“So, from what I understand is that you both left the party separately. Dean lost his keys and phone, left the party in a hurry on his own. When Sam couldn’t find Dean, he left in his turn. And neither of you decided to wake me up to let me know you were home and safe. That about it?”

This is bad. This leaves more questions than answers.

Sam knew his father wouldn’t be impressed by their poor explanations, but to see the disappointment on his face was probably worse than if John would have been angry.

At least, they stopped asking about—

“What happened to Castiel?” asked John.

Oh yeah, we’re fucked.