For some reason Sam never thought Cas would talk about it with him. They were best friends, sure. The issue was the angel's relationship with his brother was so grandiloquent it made their own look small. Even if they had known each other for over a decade and Sam would die for Cas in the blink of an eye. When everyone thought the nature of the brothers' relationship with their friend was the same, the comparison left him losing.
But it wasn't the same.
Not in nature at least.
Sam has known this for years, some days he wondered if he was witness or hostage to their constant tension.
Point was, he may have loved Cas as a brother but it was easy to feel something a bit distant in their bond, that was, at that, not so profound. So no, he didn't expect it.
It happened when they were drinking at a bar. Just the three of them, shooting the shit and letting the stress of their mission wash away. Dean cleared his throat, and without even a glimpse of remorse or shame, declared that he needed to get laid. It took him about half an hour to locate the ultimate hot soccer mum- Sam would never admit this but he respected the choice- leaving their table and sitting next to her.
Sam snorted, letting his brother at it. Their own table fell quiet, they finished their beers and the younger brother tried to engage Cas into conversation, throwing topics that he knew his best friend loved, but no dice.
"You good, Cas?" Sam asked eventually because the angel seemed more close off than normal.
The blue eyes grew stormy, glancing at Sam once, sizing him. Then he looked back at Dean just in time to see him help the woman get off her seat, taking her coat and carrying it himself, she was laughing and squeezing his bicep. Sam couldn't help it but roll his eyes, more so when his brother wink at their direction. "Helpless."
The little bell at the door jingled as Dean and the woman left, it only occurred to him that he probably was gonna let them both stranded and without a hotel room. Fucking fantastic.
He was about to complain when he looked back at Cas. The man was holding his head between his hands, sinking down against the table. He looked in pain. "Shit, man, something wrong?"
Cas shook his head, his breath ragged before looking up. Blue eyes pooled with misery.
"Why does it hurt?"
Sam frowned, feeling out of place. "What? Does your head hurts?"
The angel scoff, flopping against the chair, eyes looking up into the ceiling. The dim lighting of the bar made him look every bit of ethereal he was. There was a time where Sam was terrified of Castiel, he never admitted, at least not to Dean. Bobby had confessed the same and they both laughed about Dean's lack of survival skills, given that the man was more than easy around the winged hazard. Now he respected that sort of immortal righteousness that sometimes spilled out of Cas. It was part of him, nothing more, nothing less.
"Not my head, no. Tho, sometimes I think it is about to." Castiel admitted, his voice gravely as cement.
"What do you mean then?" The hunter asked, lowering his voice only because it felt like the smart route.
"Seeing…" Cas swallowed hard, eyes panicking for a moment, follow by the dread of resolution. "Dean. Seeing Dean with other people."
Sam really never thought this was gonna happen. Part of him always expected Dean to say something, to get drunk and smash things maybe, or to whisper it at night while they talk in their respective hotel beds, lights off so nobody could see his expression as he said it. Sam waited for it, he carefully arranged every word he would say so his brother wouldn't freak out. I accept you, you are my brother and I love you no matter what, dad was an ass, dad was bigot and an ass, Cas feels the same way you dumbass. But this? He was not prepared for this. So he choked. Castiel's resolution disappeared immediately, getting twitchy and preparing to stand up and leave. Matter of fact he was already mid way getting up, mumbling "I'm sorry I shouldn't have brought it up"
Sam reacted all at once, grabbing his friend's hand and saying "Is okay, Cas, you just took me by surprise."
"I'm sorry, this must be very uncomfortable for you…"
"No, no it's not," Sam swore immediately, though it very much was. Not because he minds talking about Cas' feelings- if anything he felt a little proud the angel trusted him- but because he felt inadequate to help. He scrambled for something else to say, letting his tongue lose. "I know. I mean I guessed."
"What did you guess?" Cas asked, a little petulant. He had a tendency to behave a bit childish when he felt attacked.
"That you love him," Sam spat out, though he meant to say that you two are in love with each other , but Dean was his brother and he couldn't betray him like that.
Cas huffed, sinking again against the table, face tucked against his elbow. "I love you too, loving is not the problem."
"But it is not the same type of love, Cas" Sam said, carefully.
His friend stayed silent for a moment, shrugging "No it's not."
"It's normal. To feel jealous."
The angel propped his face on his hand, pinching his nose as he dragged out the words "Sometimes I think is gonna kill me. Loving him like this. That I could die only for feeling it. It feels like...Feels like I could drown on it. Angels we… We are not supposed to feel like this. To fall like this."
Sam swallowed hard, the words eluded him, he was way too sober for this, so he said so "You know what? We need more booze. We are gonna have this conversation. The entirety of it. It's long overdue, but we need more alcohol."
Cas chuckled and nodded, "Well I need an entire liquor store to get drunk so,"
"So I'm buying you the entire liquor store, let's go."
After a search around town they got into a liquor store and bought 10 bottles of whiskey- afterall Cas tolerance was lower with less grace- carrying a carbox filled with them to the local park and sitting down on the benches with two bottles already in hand. Sam drank slowly, letting the alcohol burn his throat just the tiniest bit before gulping more in. Cas, in another hand chuck the whole bottle, throwing to a side to pick another one.
"So," Sam said, already feeling more numb. "You are in love with Dean."
"I'm in love with Dean," echoed Castiel, chuckling at the end. He drank loosely, resting his back against the bench and staring to the sky. "I don't-- I don't expect anything from it. I know I can't have that. But it used to… Be easier."
"He hasn't done that in a while," Sam whispered in return. Because it was true, his brother had been barely hooking up. The last time he saw him with a chick was… Damn when was it? Sam frowned, there had been a couple of random girls, when Dean was waisted and lonely, but after purgatory he never tried to be with no one else besides Castiel. Which didn't exactly count. Sometimes he wondered if he and Benny...But nah, Dean was too desperate to keep Cas, at any rate he may have felt something for Benny but there was no way he would have acted on it. "Picking randoms at bars."
"I hate it. And I feel wrong for it. He’s my friend, I’m supposed to be happy with just having his company, not this… This selfish gluttony.”
Sam nodded, he wanted to ask Castiel no refer to gluttony while talking about wanting to fuck his brother. The hunter supposed he should be happy Cas didn’t go for lust. “Stop doing that, Cas. Stop holding yourself to this high standard nobody on earth can uphold.”
“I’m not earthly, Sam” Cas growled, throwing the second bottle to the side. “And wanting to be happy for a friend is hardly a ‘high standard’”
The cold autumn breeze messed with Sam's hair, making the man shake his head to get it out of the way. The movement was too abrupt and made him dizzy. So when he spoke again he did it without his usual tip toeing “Man, you are in love with him, you are not gonna be happy knowing he is fucking someone else. Doesn’t matter how not earthy you are. Nobody likes that.”
To Sam’s surprise Cas chuckled, cocking his head while letting the smile brighten his face. “Well, okay.”
Sam looked back at him and snorted, laughing against his bottle “Did ever...Did anything ever happen?”
Castiel looked conflicted for a second, drinking down the whiskey with so much liberty Sam winced, feeling bilis come up by just the image of someone chunking pure alcohol like that. The angel cleaned his chin as a string of the liquid trail down and into his neck. It was getting messier which Sam guessed was the best, for the both of them.
“You don’t need to say anything, if it makes you uncomfortable…” Sam began saying again, just because it seemed right.
“Is not… I never feel uncomfortable with you Sam,” The hunter should have known that. They were best friends. Still, hearing it felt like a prize. Too many people brushed over him. It was his personality he reckoned, he was quieter, more gentle and almost shy next to his older brother’s dramatics. Dean was everyone favorite; their dads, Bobby’s, Jo’s, Claire’s, Charlie’s, any hunter really, even fucking Crowley prefered Dean over Sam. Everyone except Dean, of course. Which means a lot, being the favorite to everyone favorite had its own brand of satisfaction, like winning a raise you never realized you were running. Pride was not the word and yet it felt right. That didn’t make it any less delightful to realize Cas loved him too, differently- thank god- but still. “Nothing really happened, no. There were times where I thought it was about to. Dean has this way to look at me, not reverential like some people do after knowing what I am but… But like I am something endearing to him. He always seems to hesitate in those moments, catching himself almost. And there the…”
Cas caught a little bit, finishing the bottle and tossing it to a side, reaching for a fourth one. He opened it with ease, lips and cheeks red, either for the cold or the massive amount of alcohol he was consuming.
“The prayers. Back in purgatory. Dean prayed to me every night. He--” Cas looked down, ashamed. “He used to say he loved me. Tell me about their day, his and Benny’, how much he missed me, and needed me. I thought he was just trying to lure me out but… I felt the longing, Sam. Every time at the end of his prayer he would say it, just like it, I don’t think I ever heard him saying out loud to no one. Not even you. I know for you it is easier to say I love you. You say it to me. The same way I can say it to you or Claire. But Dean…”
Cas shook his head, Sam took a swing and the angel copied him, they just stared into the playground. “I let him find me in the end. Because I hoped…” Castiel laughed, hurted, tilting his head slightly. “ And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love . So, I just move on. Love. Isn’t that supposed to be enough to be happy? Just loving?”
The bible verse echoed in the night. Empty and sardonic, Samuel did not know what to say. He wished he could punch sense into Dean. Maybe just punch Dean.
“He does love you a lot,” he blurted out, because brother loyalty be damned. Cas was his brother too and family doesn’t end with blood. “There’s a reason Dean doesn’t say I love you out loud, Cas. He’s terrified of it. But he does love. Believe me.”
“I think he regrets it. Saying it to me.” It was beyond bitterness, it was betrayal.
“Nah, man, don’t go there.” Sam clenched his jaw, cursing his brother. “Our family never got the habit. Some people hear it every day from their parents… Hell, look at Jody and Dona, you cannot go anywhere without them saying it before you leave the room. It's like… I don’t know. Remembering to drink water. Is a habit of self preservation neither Dean nor I cultivated while we were kids. It’s something hard to pick up as an adult.”
“Maybe you should start doing it,” Cas said almost off handedly.
“We should.” He said and he meant it. “I love you, man. He loves you too.”
“You said it yourself, Sam,” Castiel said with a gruff voice. “It is not the same kind of love.”
Brother loyalty be truly damned.
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that…”
“You should,” Castiel cut him off. “Dean is not the type to be in love and mess around. If he felt anything similar to what I feel...He would not be with that woman. He would be here with us, getting drunk in a very inappropriate place.”
Sam laughed, because he couldn’t help it. “I think you two would ditch me for other activities,”
For once his friend didn’t miss the innuendo, choking on the whiskey and glaring at Samuel, to then break into a grin. “I wouldn’t mind”
“Ugh, that’s my brother, dude,” Sam said with a grimace but still laughing.
“Your fault,” Castiel huffed out a laugh. “I really want to hope, Sam. But hope is the rope god gave us to hang ourselves. I’m not foolish enough to let myself believe truths that are impossible.”
“Cas, there’s nothing impossible about that man loving you. He carried that uggly trench coat from stolen car to stolen car like it was something touched by god… Matter of fact he has been less careful with object actually carrying the grace of god.”
“Am I, technically speaking, touched by god. I’m his son…”
“Cas, no the point man, we all been touched my god he’s just some dude,” Sam laughed, taking a drink, savoring the flavour and knowing he should probably lay off at some point if he didn’t want a headache. “I understand tho. I get it.”
“Hell yeah, I do, you remember Jess? We were friends for months before I even tried to make a move.”
“ Months,” Cas echoed, openly glaring, “I've been in love with your brother for over a decade, Sam. It 's not months.”
The hunter didn’t mean to laugh but after so many years being the victim of their tension he at least was allowed to giggle a bit. “Okay, listen, what I’m trying to say is being in love without being able to express it sucks ass.”
“Seeing him with people is what sucks ass ” Cas said, mocking the other, he was already done with his bottle, opening another one and looking at it carefully for a few seconds. “It's funny, how love' s supposed to cover the multitude of sins and yet it only seems to make me fall further and further. Jealousy. Of all things. I have wings, Sam. I saw the birth of the world. I created Saturn…”
“You did what?”
“Is not the point, Sam…”
“You created fucking saturn?”
“Okay, let’s dismiss my unrequited love for Saturn,”
“Sorry, sorry, but you gotta tell me more about that afterwards,” Sam said, squinting his eyes because, saturn! That's the coolest planet and his best friend made it, how cool was that? “Cas, really, stop trying to condemn the fact you can feel. Is what makes you you. Sure, jealousy is fucking awful, it sucks, it hurts, but its part of being…”
“Human?” Cas ventured before Sam could finish.
Sam wrinkled his nose, wincing “Maybe we are rubbing off on you a bit too much.”
“I could argue Dean is not rubbing me eno---”
“Wow!” Sam said, letting out a laugh so loud it startled a stray cat. “Don’t you dare finish that sentence, how many of those did you drink?”
“Five?” Cas said, looking around him at the empty bottle. He finished the one at hand. “Six. Maybe my tolerance is even lower.”
“Or maybe you shouldn’t drink it like it’s water, bud.”
They look at each other for a moment and Sam couldn’t help but fold himself laughing. Cas laughed with him, something borderline hysterical twirling in between them. Their conversation kept on flowing for the next few hours, they ran out of alcohol but Cas kept on talking; told him about every single time he thought about confessing, every time he thought Dean was about to confess himself, he poured his heart out, head tilted and confused. Eventually they stood up, walking shoulder to shoulder until they found an open Mcdonalds. It was 4am so the hunter assumed the poor workers were doing the morning shifts already. They bought fries and ice cream, because nobody was there to judge them.
“Never tell Dean about this,” Sam whispered in Cas ear as the teenager served them their food. “He’s under the impression I only eat rabbit food.”
“You do,” Cas argued with a scoff. “But given the fact I submit you to my love confessions I can only keep your secret.”
They ate sitting down at a curb, like drunk twenty year olds and not a thirty seven year old and… Well… An angel older than dust.
“We should eat this more often, it’s a good combination.” Cas said, dipping a fry inside his sundae.
“Yeah, not sure about that, some of us can get colesterol, you know.”
“Not really, I've been cleaning yours and your brother's bodies for over a decade.” Castiel mused over, chewing on his food. Sam gaped at him, remembering every single healthy meal he ever ate. “What?”
“You are unbelievable.”
“Well, yes, I am an angel we are not supposed to exist.”
Sam scoffed, shaking his head and pulling the angel up, “Come on, moron, let’s go to the hotel.”
The angel’s face grew stormy, eyes dark with dread. Sam wanted to assure him the woman was probably gone but Dean was not the type to kick people out, so they got a 50/50 chance there was a ‘please, do not disturb’ sign in their shared room. So he hush it. Their walk to the hotel was less humorous.
The impala was already there, Sam guessed had been there for a while.
“It feels like presage.” Cas mumbled, still drunk. “Is not. I’m just in love and stupid.”
Barebone like that. After hours upon hours of talking none stop trying to make sense of his emotions, apparently Cas had come out with that conclusion. Just in love and stupid. Sam dubble down over himself, grabbing Cas shoulder and laughing way too loud for 5am.
“Shut up, dumbass,” Sam snorted, pushing his friend, and then throwing a hand over his shoulder, giving an overdue side hug. “I’m here for you, Cas, you know that right?”
“I know,” the angel admitted. “I’m here for you too.”
Then the door opened.
So maybe the augure thing was not so off.
The girl backtracked when she saw the two men, making a noise and smiling awkwardly. Behind her Dean eyes went wide, looking at his brother and his best friend, both with lopsided goofy smiles, and frown. Sam and Cas were not the fun ones in the team free will. It was a nice change, in Sam’s opinion. Going by Dean’s confused expression, he didn’t seem to agree.
“Hey,” Sam let out, feeling Castiel tense up next to him. “Sorry”
“Hi,” the woman said, wrinkling her nose awkarly. “I--I’m just gonna go,”
“Good” mumbled Cas low enough that the other two couldn’t hear but loud enough that Sam almost choked on his laughter.
She turned around, leaving a small kiss in Dean’s cheek before letting “Call me”
She strode out, walking to a prius parked next to the impala. So the fucker had left them stranded for nothing. Sam wanted to point this out to Castiel, just to pull his friend away from the clear distress the situation brought him but when his eyes fell on Cas he simply couldn’t. The angel looked miserable, closed off and retrieved into a pool of contein despair. It was bad.
“You two having fun without me?” Dean asked, resting against the doorframe. He was wearing just a black shirt and black boxers.
“I’m gonna patrol the witness house.” Castiel blurted out, detaching himself from his friend's hug.
“What?” Dean's face contorted, looking at the horizon, night still was much on. “Cas, that’s not necessary at all.”
“Well, it's not like you need me here. I’m not gonna sleep either,” he turned around and stopped like he remembered something, then he put a hand on Sam’s shoulder, steady and meaningful. “I love you.”
True, habits. Sam snorted, nodding, weird as hell “Yeah, love you too, man”
He watched as his friend walked away, hands inside his pocket and head down. Poor bastard.
“What the fuck was that?” Dean said, almost growling.
Sam snapped his head towards his brother's direction, stumbling towards the room. He could not handle Dean’s fragile masculinity right now. It is a habit he told Cas and it was true. Expressing feelings and shit. They needed to get better at it. All of them, but right now he needed to sleep before he went straight into a hangover without the mercy of sleep in between. So he ignored him.
Dean was having none of that.
“Sam?” he urged, words dangerously gruff.
“What?” Grumbled the man, kicking off his boots and jumping inside his sheets, trying not to be grossed out by his brother's messy bed. “It’s 5am, Dean,”
“Yeah, it is. So what were you doing up with Cas until 5am?”
Sam needed a second to register the question, trying very hard not to get angry, eventually he groaned “He’s my best friend too, you know?”
Dean stayed silent and Sam could almost hear the gears in his brain twisting and turning, molars screeching by the force of Dean bruxism.
“So you two go around hugging and telling ‘I love yous’ now? What’s next you're gonna drive the impala off a cliff? Take a winter up the mountains?”
It’s always a Brokeback mountain reference with Dean.
Of course then it clicks for Sam.
“Are you jealous?”
“No.” The answer came quickly. “No, just Cas is acting dodgy and you… I don’t know man, it’s weird!”
“What if we were? You would really be such a dick about it?” Sam pushed, thanking god the room was dark because hell that was something kinda ridiculous to say with a straight face.
“Of course!” Dean all but shouted, then he breathed hard. “Not because--You know damn well I don’t give a shit what you--If you--I know you dont--Jesus, Sammy, don’t pull that shit on me.”
“So what’s the matter, Dean? You don’t care, so let it go.” Sam turned around in the bed. Alcohol still buzzing in his blood enough not to feel guilty for meddling with his brother like that.
“Is Cas, Sam.” Dean let out, almost a whisper. “You cannot do that to me.”
“Why?” Sam finally looked over at his brother, the dim light of the parking lot lights shining through the curtain, his face barely visible and still… More than bitter; betrayed. So Sam words spill out before he could regret it. “I wouldn’t. You know I wouldn’t do that. Never.”
Dean looked down, jaw set and eyes screw shut. Remorse and shame seemed to flood him all in once. Sam wished he had stayed quiet. The thing was; he had planned this conversation because he knew just how hard it could be for Dean. He was there when John told them not to behave like faggots. He was there. Part of him had always been aware those particular words were directed towards Dean. Sam even tried to kiss a boy once, just to defy his father, and the stubble made him so uncomfortable he pulled away immediately. But Sam still knew . He was not gonna blame Dean for this, but god he wished he could change it. Make his brother understand there was no need to punish himself like this.
He wished he could just tell him every single thing Cas had blurted out. But he promised and Cas was his best friend. His brother.
“I don’t wanna…” The man stopped talking, breathing hard. “I’m sorry, Sammy, I don’t know where that came from.”
You do, he wanted to say but instead he nodded. “It 's fine.”
“No it 's not. That was stupid and insane. I’m acting like a teenage girl, Jesus,” he dropped his face down on his hands, in the same way Cas had done it back in the bar. “It’s just… Is Cas, you know?”
Well, brother loyalty be damned.
“Dean, Castiel would never do that.”
“I know, I know, mighty angel and all…”
“No, Dean, listen to me,” Sam sat up on the bed, pinching his nose. “Cas would never do that.”
“Message clear as day, Sammy.” Dean growled, huffing.
“Not you jerk,” he breathed in slowly. “You know why we went drinking tonight?”
“Cuz he is your best friend too I got it man, back off…”
“Dean, fucking shut up.” Sam was done with them. “He was a wreck because you left with that woman. A wreck, Dean.” A pause, slow and dragged, like Dean was afraid to shatter something if he moved. Or wake up, Sam thought almost intrusively. He realized his brother had decided not to move until further notice so he kept on going. “You managed to make an angel of the lord jealous, man. Which is only worse than you getting jealous at me. So shut the fuck up, put on some pants and go look for him, can you?”
Dean stuttered, words clearly eluding him. “Like romantic jealousy?”
“Dean if you are not out of that door in a minute, so help me god--”
It took the man less than a minute to get dressed, which tells you a lot about his twenties, flying off the door. The purring of the impala felt like heaven to Sam’s ears, before he finally dozed off he sent out a prayer.
Sorry, you can tell him about the fries and sundaes. Love you.