"I'm in love with Dean." Sam sits frozen in place. His brain isn't working properly and Castiel is just staring at him that way he does, which bothers everyone but Dean. Angel-of-the-Lord Castiel has just declared that he's in love with Sam's brother and there is no appropriate way to respond to an announcement like that. Sure, he'd suspected. Very few people tolerate Dean's mood swings and generally abrasive personality, and Castiel had gone above and beyond in the toleration department. Apparently, very far above and beyond. And now he just keeps staring.

"Um," Sam says. He glances at the door to the motel room, waiting for Dean to burst in and maybe save him from having this conversation. They're in the middle of the apocalypse, after all. There are things to be done. But the door stays closed and Sam swallows thickly.

"Are you alright, Sam?" Castiel asks. It's the exact same tone of voice he just used to declare his love a few moments ago and Sam almost wants to laugh. Or possibly cry. He does let out one breathless huff, but it sounds strangled more than anything. Castiel's brows draw together.

"I'm fine," Sam manages to get out. "Just fine." He takes another breath. An Angel of the Lord (although there was no telling how much longer that title would even apply) in love with his brother. That's just about perfect. And an angel in a male body at that. Sure, Sam's had his own suspicions about Dean as well, he just also knows Dean will never admit to anything, not even to himself. He's gonna play overly butch for the rest of his natural life. And beyond, since neither of them really have natural lives these days.

"I was hoping for advice on how to proceed," Castiel says. He finally looks slightly uncomfortable, by which Sam means he looks like he's constipated. Maybe he is. Emotionally speaking, of course. He would assume that's just the kind of thing that happens being in love with Dean. He glances at the door again.

"Cas," he begins, hesitantly, "why are you talking to me about this?"

"You are Dean's brother," Cas says, like that's obvious. And it probably is, but.

"Right, but… I'm an abomination, remember? I thought you didn't really like me," Now Sam is even more uncomfortable. He's been unsure of how to proceed since Cas popped in and asked to speak to him privately, long before he was asked to give love advice.

"Dean cares about you deeply," Castiel says, like he's working through a math problem. "And I care deeply about Dean. And so you are my friend." He nods like he's explained it, though it seemed hard for him to actually get out.

"My friend?" Sam asks. This conversation is already too much. He shouldn't have asked.

"Of course," Castiel says. Sam rubs his forehead. Somewhere in his brain he's really flattered.

"Alright. Well, that's good, I guess," he says. Cas inclines his head in agreement. It's worse than talking to Dean about this stuff. Which is probably a good sign, Sam thinks. Except it isn't. Because Dean's emotional constipation is going to keep him from ever accepting that what he wants might have a penis.

"So, do you have a suggestion for how to proceed with Dean?" Cas asks. God, it sounds like he's discussing a business transaction. Like Sam owns Dean and has to give Castiel permission to move forward, which is all matter of fucked up. Sam isn't Dean's father, for Christ's sake.

"Look, Cas," Sam says, hesitantly. He doesn't get to finish.

"You feel that Dean might not share these emotions." Cas says. It isn't a question, but Sam nods anyway. Castiel nods back. "Thank you for assisting me." Sam scoffs a bit.

"I didn't do anything," he says. Cas shakes his head, still looking awkward as hell.

"You gave me the information I needed to know," he says. "I may, perhaps, attempt to alter Dean's feelings now." Sam stands up quickly.

"What, like messing with his head?" he demands. Sure, Dean trusts Cas, but Sam isn't totally on that train yet. He's still an angel. And, up to this conversation, he hasn't been fond of Sam. Castiel tilts his head curiously.

"Of course not," he says like it's obvious and he is explaining to a dull child. "I meant that I could attempt to persuade Dean to fall in love with me by enacting a series of human behaviors." Sam's brain takes the time to restart before he can respond. It is such a full restart that Sam wonders if Cas can hear the little start up noise once the brain turns back on.

"Oh," he says. "Like flirting?"

"I believe that is the colloquial term," Cas says. Sam's mouth opens and closes and then opens again.

"I don't know how great an idea that is," Sam says. Cas inclines his head.

"I thank you for your advice. It is very valuable," and then he's gone with the sound of flapping wings. Sam collapses back into his chair and tries to process. With Dean, conversations about emotions usually leave him frustrated, but this is entirely knew. This is straight up, muddle-brained bafflement. A few minutes later, Dean bursts through the door holding a white bag that has grease seeping through the bottom.

"How's research?" he asks as he dumps the food on the table. Sam looks at the bag.

"Fine," he says. Dean looks at him oddly.

"Not gonna bitch about healthy food, Samantha?" Sam shakes his head.

"Nah, it's fine," he says. He tries to let the conversation drift from his mind but, no matter how hard he tries, can't quite manage it.

Castiel pops into their car as they cross the border from South Dakota to Nebraska. Dean swerves in surprise, then rights the car and begins to bitch.

"Jesus, Cas, how many times I have to tell you not to do that?" he asks. Sam swallows. Sure, this is the first time they've seen Castiel since theirConversation (big capital C) but that probably doesn't mean anything. And yes, he did say that flirting might be a bad idea, and Castiel seemed like he listened. So this probably isn't about that. Probably.

"Hello, Dean," he says from the backseat. Dean's lip twitches upward at the familiar greeting and Sam tries not to burst into flames.

"Hey, Cas," Sam says weakly.

"Hello, Sam," Cas responds. Dean rolls his eyes good-naturedly at the clumsiness of the exchange.

"So, what's up, Cas?" he asks. Sam sucks in a breath. This is it. Job or flirting?

"I thought perhaps I would check in and see how you are," Cas says. Sam sighs heavily. Flirting, then. This shouldn't be awkward.

"Missed my pretty face?" Dean asks with a wink. Sam begins a prayer that mainly goes, Why, God? Why? This prayer goes on a loop. For several miles. Maybe they don't have a great relationship with the big guy right now, but he has to have some kind of mercy, right? The apocalypse? Fine. By angels attempting to flirt with his emotionally stinted brother? That's just cruel and unusual.

"Yes," Castiel says. Dean laughs like it's a joke, despite the fact that he knows Castiel doesn't make jokes. He must know. Right?

"Well, we have another three hours of driving ahead of us," Dean continues. "But you're welcome to stick around." Sam probably melts a little bit. He's not sure. He doesn't actually remember the rest of the conversation because he allows his brain to shut down. He has a lot of memories in his head he would rather not have, and if he can block the uncomfortableness of this exchange, he will do so willingly and with enthusiasm. So, when Cas disappears with the flap of wings an hour later, Sam is shaken from something like a waking dream and Dean smacks his arm.

"Dude, you tired or what?" he asks.

"Huh?" Sam tries. His brain is still foggy from adamantly refusing to listen to the car conversation. Dean rolls his eyes.

"You just stared out the windshield for like an hour with this glazed look in your eyes," he says. "So, you tired or do you just hate Cas now?" Sam swallows around a lump in his throat.

"Nah, just tired I guess," he says. He thinks about Cas saying they were friends and curses every god he's ever read about before he continues. "I don't hate Cas. He's, uh, weird. But he's a cool guy." Dean huffs.

"Yeah, weird definitely fits," he says. On the radio, the song switches over to Is This Love? and Sam looks at the sky in disgust for good measure. Honestly? Whitesnake? He expects Dean to turn it down but to his surprise the dial goes untouched.

"You seem to like him a lot," Sam continues, so awkward he feels it in his bones. "I mean, you don't like a lot of people, so." Now Dean shifts in his seat.

"Yeah, well, he's a weird dude," Dean says. "He's a useful guy to have in your corner." Of course. Emotionally constipated brother. He'd actually forgotten for half a second there. He rolls his eyes internally.

"I mean, it's more than him being useful," Sam says. "You guys are, like, friends." Dean huffs and honest to god turns up the song instead of responding. It's when he starts muttering under his breath the lyrics, 'is this love that I'm feeling?' that Sam almost jumps out of the car.

Hours later, when Sam is the one out on the food run and Dean is back in the room on book duty, Cas flaps his ass back into the car with a considering look on his face. Sam jumps. He is parked, so at least he doesn't wrap Dean's precious car around a telephone pole but he still feels that internal annoyance that Dean must when Cas shows up without warning. Except that Dean never shows that annoyance for long. It's like… feigned annoyance masking amusement. Even when Dean is annoyed at Cas he isn't actually annoyed at Cas. Fucking typical.

"Jesus, Cas," Sam mutters. He finishes setting the bag of food down between them. Cas is sitting in the front seat, looking out the windshield.

"I think that my attempts in persuading Dean to feel affectionate towards me were somewhat successful," he says without a hello. Only Dean gets the hello. Sam pinches his nose.

"Cas, I'm sorry, but my brother is an oblivious ass," he says. "I wish I could tell you differently but…"

"You still feel that he won't ever return my feelings?" Cas says. He turns to squint at Sam. When Sam opens his mouth to respond, Cas holds up a finger to indicate he is thinking and Sam's jaw is left partially open until he snaps it shut in annoyance. He turns the key in the ignition and beings to pull out of the parking lot. After Sam pulls into the street, Cas makes a noise like an epiphany.

"What?" Sam asks. He pulls to a stop at a red light and turns to look at the angel next to him.

"Dean often has a problem feeling he is worthy of affection," Cas says. Sam's eyes go past his hairline and all the way to the back of his neck.

"Um, yeah?" he says. It's true. Dean has the self-confidence of a sea sponge. Actually, how self-confident are sea sponges? He could be wrong. Maybe they were really full of themselves. How was he to know? Getting off topic. He tries to refocus on Cas, who has screwed up his face in thought.

"If Dean doesn't feel he is worthy of love, he will never feel that he can love me," Cas says. After a long moment Sam nods. The light turns green and he starts driving again. He doesn't say anything so Cas continues. "I just have to make him see that he is worthy of love. I have known since the moment we first met Dean had a low opinion of himself. I did not take this into account in my attempts to win his affections. Thanks you for your assistance, Sam." And then he's gone again and Sam thumps his hand on the steering wheel for good measure.

"He won't love you because you happen to have a dick!" Sam shouts into the empty car. Cas's appearances were so fleeting and odd that he felt he hadn't had the chance to say it out loud yet, but Jesus, the guy needed to hear it. Dean just wasn't going to reciprocate. Dean the one-night-stand guy. Dean the manly man. Well, except for that one time with the siren but that was just a brother thing. Sort of. Right? Whatever.

Sam turns the car into the motel parking lot and rapidly pulls into a parking space. For a minute after the car is off, Sam just sits staring at the wheel. Was this his life now? Cas showing up when Dean wasn't around to ask for love advice like he was Dear fucking Abby while Dean played like he didn't care? Sam smacked his head down on the wheel of the Impala and then grabbed his bag of food. He walked into the motel room and Dean immediately turned to him.

"Alright, so I think I know what we're looking for…"

Dean's been acting weird. He has been acting very weird. Alright, maybe Sam doesn't have the best baseline after juicing up on demon blood again, but that wasn't even his fault. That was Famine's goddamn fault. Fucking apocalypse. Except that Dean's definitely acting weird. Especially after all that shit with Famine. First, he gives Cas food. Gives up his own food to someone. That's weird enough. But that on top of eating nothing? Sam knows his brother and he knows his brother is not empty, whatever douchebag horsemen might say otherwise.

After the Famine thing, Cas shows up in the motel room. He must listen in to see when the coast is clear because Dean had just barely left to check on a lead. Cas appears literally three seconds after the door closes behind Dean and Sam winces. If he noticed Dean was weird, Cas probably did too.

"Do you think Dean found my consuming of beef to be disgusting?" is the first thing he says instead. Sam honestly doesn't know how to respond to that. He throws his hands up in the air.

"What the hell are you talking about?" he asks, exasperated. Cas is staring at something that doesn't exist as he continues.

"I consumed a large amount of beef during this previous case, and I've heard that it can be off-putting when a potential lover ingests an above average amount of food," Cas says like this all makes sense. He's heard? Potential lover? Sam squints and puts his hands down.

"Are you reading advice columns now?" he asks. Cas nods absently.

"I thought it might be the best way to learn what behaviors to act on," he says. "I am unfamiliar with many human rituals."

"Shit," Sam starts pacing around the room. Why couldn't Cas have gone to Bobby? Bobby would have taken care of this no problem. Told Cas the honest truth and sent him packing. Probably with a beer for good measure. But Sam was not cut out for this. And he's been pushed to the extreme.

"Sam? What do you think?" Cas asks, following Sam's movements around the room with his eyes.

"What do I think about you eating a lot of food?" Sam asks, coming to an abrupt halt.

"Yes," Cas says. He starts to look suspicious.

"I think Dean doesn't give a shit if you eat too much!" Sam shouts. He felt it building inside of him and now it all ruptures out at once. His frustrations, his confusion, the fact that he's not a goddamn couple's counselor. "I think Dean's emotionally stunted and that he thinks you're a cool guy, but he likes women and that's that. We're in the middle of a fucking apocalypse, Cas, and you're busy asking me about Dean like it's going to change anything!" As soon as it's all out, Sam regrets it. He sees the fall of Cas's face, even if it is miniscule. All of Castiel's expressions were like that, and he was getting better at catching them.

"I see," Cas says. Sam tries to backpedal.

"No, that's not... I mean, uh," he stammers. Cas puts up a hand.

"Thank you for making things clear to me," Cas says. "I will stop my behaviors immediately. If you would like me to remain absent from future hunts, just let me know." And he's gone without the chance for Sam to get another word in. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Even in the middle of all this shit, he can't do this one simple thing for the guy who literally is giving up Heaven for their two sorry asses. Well, probably Dean's ass more than his. He collapses into his chair and stays there until Dean comes back an hour later.

He walks through the door slowly and closes it carefully. Sam is still in the chair. He looks up and Dean shuffles on his feet, which is weird.

"What did you find out?" Sam asks, bunching up his brows at his brother, who looks majorly uncomfortable. Strange, considering he'd just come from the house of a very attractive, very female, potential witness of a possible poltergeist. For a few seconds Dean says nothing, and then he straightens abruptly and looks Sam dead in the eyes.

"I'm in love with Cas."

Well shit.

AN: Well, that's chapter one for you. And chapter 2 should be along shortly. What do you think so far?