Sam knew those two names better than any others in the world, even though he had never met either of these men. He could replicate them, letter by letter, in the exact neat script they were printed in, and he often found himself doing so, doodling the two names when he was bored at work or while pretending to listen to somebody talk.
He was guaranteed to meet both of these men at some point in his life, he knew that. One of them was destined to be his soulmate; the other his mortal enemy, and it was left completely up to him to discover which was which. Part of him was surprised it hadn't happened yet. His older brother, Dean, had met both of the names on his wrists on his first day in kindergarten. Castiel Milton and Fergus Crowley were his, and although there were a few fights over Dean during their elementary school years, by the time they'd all turned eight or so, Dean was quite certain that it was Castiel who was his soulmate. Since then, the two of them had never looked back.
And now here sat Sam, twenty-seven years old, and he'd still never encountered anyone with names even similar to these strange ones on his wrists.
So they provided nothing more than dreams as he sat at work, behind his first-year attorney's desk, when he really should have been focusing on finishing up the case notes for his boss. But for some reason, today, he just couldn't focus. Even though usually he was the type to get things done as quickly as possible and be on time with his work, today these names seemed to be occupying his mind far more than they usually did.
Hold on. That last one hadn't been his mind.
That had been--
Sam jerked up in his seat, staring at the man in front of him. He was short, and had a cocky air about him, as though he was turning up his nose at everything he came across. His hair was purposefully too long as though he was trying his best to look cool and edgy, and his suit didn't fit him quite right, stretching across his stomach. There was a lollipop stuck between his teeth, and he was making loud, obnoxious slurping noises, as well as tapping his foot while he waited for Sam to pay attention to him.
Sam was instantly annoyed by him on sight.
"You're- did you say-"
The man rolled his eyes. "Bit slow, aren't ya? I'm Gabriel Novak. I got an appointment with a, uh, Dick Roman? He works here, right?"
Sam frowned, barely even hearing anything that the man was saying aside from his name, and in a shaking voice, replied, "I'm Sam Winchester."
It took a moment for Gabriel to register the meaning of this.
"Alright, good for you, now can I- oh."
Sam nodded, holding up his wrist. "Oh."
Gabriel sighed, seemingly annoyed with the whole process, and pulled back the sleeve of his jacket to display his own wrist.
The two of them stared into each other's eyes for a long moment.
Then, Sam laughed. "Well, it's good to figure out who my enemy is so early on, cause I'm pretty sure that I'm not ending up with some corporate lawyer scum who has appointments with Dick Roman. I'll call him to let him know you're here."
"Sounds like a plan, kiddo," Gabriel replied, turning and leaning against Sam's desk, purposefully getting into his personal space. "You're cute, and for a moment I thought it could be you, but a first year associate? I got my sights set a little higher, no offence."
"Yeah, figured you'd be the type to only care about money in someone you dated," Sam snapped back. "Good luck with that."
"Oh, so you're the type who's too good for anyone who cares about important things like financial stability? Why am I not surprised? Fucking hippie."
Sam leaned forwards, kind of getting into the argument by this point. He didn't get a lot of opportunities to just trade insults like this with someone. He loved to debate, and it was part of why he'd became a lawyer, but the job seemed to be mostly paperwork and not much else at the moment, and he was definitely relishing the chance to say whatever was on his mind and actually blow off some steam. It felt kind of amazing to have an enemy, someone who he was literally intended to spend his life making completely miserable. It seemed like some kind of new entertainment, and in a strange way, Sam thought that he was going to enjoy it a whole lot.
A call buzzed through for Sam, and he picked up the phone. It was Dick Roman.
"Do you have a Gabriel Novak? Send him up immediately."
Sam pulled a face at the phone and turned back to Gabriel.
"My boss wants to see you. I'm not telling you what room he's in, go find him. I hope he's in a shitty mood and ruins your day, asshole."
"Maybe I'll ruin his and then he'll come out here and yell at you," Gabriel shot back before walking away, and then he called over his shoulder, "Because I think the title of the person who's ruined my day? Belongs to you and you alone, enemy."
Sam watched Gabriel leave, gazing after him wistfully, sorry to see him go right when they were getting into their argument. But he knew he'd see him again soon. That was what worst enemies did.
Gabriel Novak formed a business partnership with Dick Roman. Gabriel didn't officially work in the building for Roman Attorneys at Law, but he visited often, and once or twice a week he'd make his way into the offices, passing by Sam on the way. Officially, he didn't have to actually speak to him. He and Dick were on equal terms in their partnership, and Gabriel was allowed to just waltz right on into his office, and everyone else was supposed to just get out of his way. And yet, he would of course make a special stop off for his mortal enemy, taking a moment to lean against Sam's desk and spit the insult of the day into his ear. Sam would always respond in kind, and the sparring would give him something of a boost in his interactions with Dick Roman that day.
It would put a smile on Sam's face, too, and he would always feel just a little bit more confident knowing that he'd successfully been able to defeat his enemy in battle this morning.
This went on for months, and Sam was content with the situation. His attention still turned to the second name on his wrist every so often, but the thought didn't preoccupy his mind the same way it once had. He had an enemy now, and he was having the time of his life - what did he need with a soulmate? He was still young.
It happened one day when he was out grabbing some lunch. He'd had a particularly fun argument with Gabriel this morning, because Dick Roman hadn't been in his office when Gabriel had arrived, so he'd hung out by Sam's desk and they'd spent a solid hour trading insults, both of them criticizing what the other person had done over the weekend, making fun of each other's favorite TV shows, being unimaginably rude about each other's favorite dog breeds.
It had been wonderful, but it had left Sam hungry, so he'd got up and made his way to his favorite salad place on his lunch break. He pushed open the door to the shop, humming Asia's 'Heat Of The Moment' to himself, still high on adrenaline from that morning - and bumped into a tall, striking, blond man, making his way outside clutching a large container of salad.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," Sam apologized immediately, cringing.
The man raised an eyebrow and smiled politely. "It was my fault. I should have looked where I was going. The apology is all mine."
Sam shook his head. "Nah, I was distracted, it's all my fault. Oh, crap, you spilled your drink. Let me get you a new one, yeah?"
The man didn't seem keep at first on letting Sam go to that trouble, but he insisted, and the two of them got back into line.
The blond man held out a hand for Sam to shake. "I'm Lucifer Morningstar. It is a pleasure to meet you."
Sam's eyes widened and he gasped aloud.
"Is everything okay? I appreciate that my name is a little unusual, but..."
Sam shook his head. "It's not that, I promise. It's just... I'm Sam Winchester."
Lucifer raised an eyebrow, and he didn't look surprised exactly, because he seemed like the kind of guy who nothing could ever surprise - but he did look intrigued, which Sam supposed be would take as a small victory.
"I'm really sorry. This definitely wasn't the way I imagined we'd meet."
Lucifer shook his head, amusement shining from his eyes. "Not a problem at all. you have done everything you can to make up for it. And now let me offer you something in return. Would you perhaps like to go to dinner this Friday?"
He pulled back his own sleeve and held up his wrist as though to confirm the invitation.
Sam held up his own wrist to show Lucifer in return, and he nodded, smiling back. "Yeah, I'd love that. Let me give you my phone number."
The two of them made plans, and Lucifer showed up at the door of Sam's apartment at precisely five minutes to eight on Friday night. He was wearing a white suit and the second Sam opened the door, he produced a single red rose to give to him, before leading a very underdressed-feeling Sam to a fancy car he had parked nearby. It turned out that Lucifer was a business owner himself, and that he had a chain of candle stores all across the state. More to the point, he was a perfect gentleman. He paid attention to everything Sam said during the whole of dinner, laughing at his jokes, nodding along with his stories, answering his questions. There was almost nothing Sam could think of that would have made the encounter any more perfect. Lucifer made everything so easy - he said all the things he was supposed to, he agreed with everything Sam said, and seemed open to whatever Sam wanted.
A part of Sam felt almost disappointed that everything had gone so well and this had happened so soon, yet at the same time, he knew that it was time for him to grow up. He tried his best to convince himself that he was happy he'd met Lucifer right now rather than waiting another few years until he was ready. Because it would be stupid not to want to meet him, right? Everyone wanted to meet their soulmate.
Lucifer dropped Sam off outside his door at the end of the night, not asking to be let in or trying to pressure Sam into anything, and Sam flopped down onto the couch in his living room, burying his head in a cushion.
Everything about the night had gone to plan. He couldn't remember ever having a better dinner experience in his life. And this, surely, was the start of the greatest thing to ever happen to him.
So why didn't he feel anything?
Time passed. Lucifer and Sam fell into a rhythm. They would go out on dates precisely twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday nights, the locations of which were always very precisely dictated and approved by Lucifer. They were upscale restaurants, or business networking events, or even local award ceremonies which Lucifer had been nominated for. In time he started to buy Sam suits and ties, dictating what he should wear for each of these events, insisting that he needed to look as good as possible and that he just wasn't trying hard enough to be what Lucifer needed.
Sam glanced around the room of the fancy bar they were in, rented out for the night and given over to a whole host of local entrepreneurs who had gathered to 'make new friends and share advice', or, more likely, form alliances with each other. Lucifer was in conversation with a creepy-looking man dressed all in black who Sam hadn't caught the name of, while Sam stood slightly to the side, one of Lucifer's hands holding tightly to his arm to ensure he didn't go anywhere.
The man finished his business with Lucifer and turned to leave, swooping off into the dark corners of the bar, and Lucifer rounded on Sam.
"Could you at least try to look like you were paying attention? It hardly reflects well on me when my soulmate doesn't even appear to be invested in my business affairs."
"Yeah, well, I'm not interested!" Sam countered, and usually he wouldn't have talked back, but today he was frustrated. He was sick of being treated like a status symbol, something pretty for all these people to look at and be impressed by, but with no real worth apart from that. Yes, Lucifer was kind and attentive when they were alone, but he treated him with the same kind of professional courtesy he gave everyone. It felt so impersonal, and at times it made Sam's skin crawl.
"That's because you don't understand," Lucifer replied in a condescending tone. "If you just made an effort to learn some more about the things I do..."
"You could maybe try actually explaining things to me! I'm interested, I'm supposed to be spending my life with you, I want to know about what you do. But you just act like it's way beyond my comprehension."
"I don't see why it should be my responsibility to educate you. I'm not a professor. Go to the library and check out a book on business," Lucifer instructed, sounding bored, almost ignoring Sam in favor of reaching over and taking another champagne cocktail from a passing waiter.
"Well, maybe I want my boyfriend to talk to me, not some stupid book!" Sam yelled over the surrounding chatter.
Lucifer took a step back in shock, holding up his hands. "Calm down, Sam, please! I really don't want anyone to overhear this. Who knows what it could do for my reputation?"
He stalked off, leaving Sam alone in the middle of the room, gazing after him in hurt and confusion, not knowing a single other person there.
Sam didn't see him again for the rest of the night.
Sam sat at his desk the following day with his head in his hands, trying to figure out what the hell was going through his head right now. It wasn't supposed to be like this. Was it? Was your soulmate supposed to make you fucking miserable all the damn time? Was this some kind of secret nobody had told him?
He thought about bringing it up to someone, someone who'd had it figured out for years - Dean maybe - but he didn't want to sound like a naive idiot. Surely Dean would just tell him it was all part of some greater plan, and all he could do was put up with Lucifer's bullshit, because it would be somehow worth it in the end.
Sam couldn't quite see how things were going to get better - a future between him and Lucifer just seemed so bleak and endless - but the soulmates system was infallible. It couldn't mess up.
"You alright there, Sammoose?" came a familiar voice, far too loud for the office, causing heads to turn all over.
Sam groaned and sat up. "I'm alright. More than I can say for you. I'm not the one who reeks of a hangover and clearly had to take three shots of Five Hour Energy this morning even to be functional."
"I'm offended that you think I'd be so unprofessional. I took four shots of the stuff to make sure I'd perform my absolute best at work today."
Sam couldn't help but let out a weak chuckle at that. "What the hell do you do that takes four shots? You could sleep through meetings and still do just as well as you do when you're actually there."
"See, I find that a bit rich coming from you, the man so boring and uninspired that you applied to be the elevator voice and they said, 'Sorry, we're looking for someone with a bit more personality."
Gabriel threw a Jolly Rancher at Sam's face and walked away. Sam scowled and picked up the candy (green apple) and popped it into his mouth, and it suddenly occurred to him that he hadn't thought about Lucifer once since Gabriel had arrived. Gabriel, who was supposed to be his enemy.
An enemy was someone you were supposed to... you know... actually hate. You weren't supposed to enjoy hating them. You weren't supposed to get a little flutter in your heart every time you saw them come into the office because you were looking forward to hating them a tiny bit more.
Gabriel made stars burst inside Sam's head, and before now, he'd always thought they were the bad, angry kind that riled him up and made him want to fight, but now he was starting to see them as the good kind, the ones that gave him energy and power and made him feel like he could do anything. And the truth was that Gabriel did make him feel like that. He finished a fight with Gabriel and he wanted to jump up and down and take on the entire world, yet spending time with Lucifer made him feel inadequate. Powerless. Drained.
Sam stared behind him at the closed doorway to the room where Gabriel and his boss were sitting. Gabriel, with his beautiful, confident smile and his long, silky hair and the adorable way his clothes clung to his figure. Gabriel, who was the highlight of Sam's day, every day.
The soulmates system hadn't messed up. Sam had.
"I fucked up."
Gabriel leaned against the doorway, a smug smirk on his face that told Sam he was going to draw this out for as long as possible. "You're damn right you did."
"But I, uh, have now realized where I made mistakes, and I would very much like to fix them."
Sam was on a mission. The second Gabriel and Dick Roman had finished up their meeting for the day, Sam had marched straight into Dick's office without knocking and demanded to be given Gabriel Novak's home address. Dick had clearly been on the point of refusing, and of firing Sam for being so disrespectful, until Sam held up his wrist.
Then Dick had shut right up, and simply copied down the address onto a Post-It and handed it to Sam.
Sam had gone there immediately, knocking on the front door, pacing up and down the garden path and getting frustrated when Gabriel didn't immediately open the door and sweep him up into his arms. Then he'd remembered that it was still the middle of the afternoon and Gabriel was most likely still at work, and so, defeated, he'd gone to wait in a nearby coffee shop for a couple hours.
And then he'd gone back, and this time Gabriel had actually been there, and Sam wasn't ready, because how the hell did you tell the guy who you'd spent the past year telling him he was the worst thing that ever happened to you that he was, in fact, the love of your life?
So Sam had panicked, and blurted out the first three words that had come into his head - and it seemed like Gabriel knew exactly what he meant.
"Gonna take a lot of fixing, you know. You're gonna be buying me candy for months. Maybe even years."
"Your sugar addiction is out of control, I can't tell your fingers apart from Twinkies these days. It's disgusting. " The insult came instinctively, Sam's nerves dying away because of how natural it felt to just banter with Gabriel like this.
"Yeah, well, have you seen you with your lettuce leaves? You've managed to find the only food that's even more weak and pathetic than you are!"
Sam took a deep breath. Rudeness was fun and all, but there would be time for that later. In fact, their rudeness would last forever. There was just one serious conversation they needed to have first. "How long have you known?" he asked, hanging his head.
Sam scowled. "You just want to make me say it."
"Hells yeah! This is the first day of a lifetime of fighting, and I think I'd like to win our first one."
"Fine." Sam gave in, only because he knew he had so many years ahead of him to win every single fight and make up the difference. "How long have you known we're soulmates?"
Gabriel took Sam's hand and tugged him over to the couch. Sam squeaked when he first felt the contact between them, and had to cover his mouth with his other hand and pretend he didn't hear Gabriel's giggle.
When they were both seated, Gabriel began.
"I didn't know at first. Hated you when I first saw you. Honestly, you annoyed me before I even spoke to you. But then you met that guy, the one who's on your other wrist. And you took that photo of the two of you on your first date, and you put it on your desk. And I just stared at it and I thought to myself, 'well, he looks like an asshole.' And then I thought, 'well, if he's an asshole then what does that make me?' And I kind of figured it out from there. Because I know I'm not exactly the easiest person to like... How'd you figure it out?"
"I realized that Lucifer doesn't give a fuck who I am, and he just treats me like one of his low level employees. At least you care enough to tailor every one of your insults specifically for me."
Gabriel waggled his eyebrows. "Course I do. You're a close-minded insecure idiot who couldn't see what was right under your nose for months on end, and I have to make sure you know it."
"Oh my God, why did I ever think this would be a good idea?" Sam groaned, putting his head into his hands. "Right now, out of the two of you, I'd almost pick Lucifer."
"Nope!" Gabriel crowed, jumping up into Sam's lap and wrapping his arms around him. "You and me are meant to be. I'll prove it to you."
Gabriel took Sam's left wrist in his hand, the one with his own name written in that neat lettering - Gabriel Novak - just admiring it for a moment. Then Gabriel leaned down and kissed his own name, just the softest brush of lips on skin, and Sam's whole body lit up with happiness, and with the unmistakable feeling that no matter how many fights he had to look forward to - he'd made the right choice.