A/N: I'm working on my other fics, but meanwhile I couldn't resist. Hope you like.
He can't hear the silverware clink, can't hear the 'how was your day' and 'what about school' and 'pass me that, will you'. He can't hear the laughter, the affectionate snort, the indignant protest. But the forks move, the mouths shape words and sounds, and he can see it all clearly, plainly, like words on a page.
He can't hear the 'I love you' and the 'I'm glad you're here' and 'I'm glad I'm here too', either. Even if he knew how to read lips, he wouldn't be able to find these words here.
...He sees them anyway.
"Why are you staring?"
He jolts, looks over. "Cas?"
Footsteps. The angel stands close, joins him in watching the family through the window.
A moment passes. Silence.
"I don't understand what you're waiting for," Castiel declares finally, his voice the same strange mixture of serious and sincere and puzzled as always. "You should go inside."
His mouth twitches in an almost smile, now here now gone. "It's not that easy," he says, his voice barely there at all.
"There's a door," Castiel points out, and he's reminded of the times they'd sit on the car and watch the sky and wonder aloud whether Cas is the way he is because he's an angel or because he's Cas, or if their friend's just messing with them and jerking their chains because he enjoys sounding obtuse.
Good times, even then. Even with everything.
Hands in pockets. "Yeah."
There's another unheard clink, bowls of ice cream on the table, each one with its own perfect spheres of chocolate and vanilla. The kid dives in with a vengeance, but just as quickly stops in order to protest his hair getting ruffled by a big hand with a simple silver ring. White teeth flash as the woman laughs soundlessly.
Something's off about this, he thinks as he looks closely, but he can't quite figure out what. Maybe it's something to do with the fact that he's not used to watching people without an agenda, without waiting for a knife to flash or for a nursery to catch on fire. Maybe it's something to do with seeing a family sitting around a kitchen table having dinner, because he's not used to that either, never was really, family for him's always been driver and shotgun and backseat and the bed closest to the door, diners for lunch and diners for dinner.
Maybe it's something to do with Dean, how he eats the ice cream slowly, enjoyment lighting up his face, as if that's his favorite dessert when it's not, it's really not. Maybe it's something to do with Dean, because Dean's not wearing Dad's leather jacket or the usual three or four protective layers, just one faded T-shirt that says 'You Do The Yoga, I'll Do The Instructor' over clean jeans that have never seen a laundromat or a rugaru's blood. Maybe it's something to do with Dean, because his feet are bare without socks like he's not planning on leaving the house anytime soon, like he's perfectly comfortable where he is, like there isn't anywhere he has to go.
Maybe it's something to do with Dean, because he's smiling even though Sam's not there.
"He looks happy," he murmurs quietly, heart aching.
"He's not," Castiel replies.
He sounds so sure that Sam frowns, tears his eyes away so he can meet Castiel's... very piercing glower. "How do you know?"
"I know." The angel sounds unforgiving, which is funny since there are so many other things to not forgive Sam for. "And you're making excuses. Stop."
"People change," Sam says, gaze involuntarily straying back to the window. "You did, after all," he says, attempts to make Castiel take this lightly. Please, just take this lightly. "The last thing I expected was for you to come rescue me and Adam. I can't even imagine how much mojo that must have taken."
There's a shrug, and the faintest traces of a secret, self-satisfied smirk. "There are perks to being sheriff," Cas allows.
Sam doesn't really understand, but he doesn't press, figures it's probably some kind of angel inside joke. "If you say so."
"You're missing the point."
So much for distractions. "What point?"
"You shouldn't hold Dean's happiness against him."
He gapes, protests, "I'm not! I'd never - I'd never do that, Cas. I want him to be happy."
Steely blue glare. "Then why won't you enter?"
He falters. "I just don't -" he clears his throat, forces a smile that must look painful. Wishes he could hide. "It's just, I... I don't want to mess it up."
"I assure you, that's the last thing you'd do."
He shrugs, noncommittally. Stares down at the asphalt.
"...He's learned to live without you, Sam. But that does not mean he outgrew you."
It's such a blatant statement of his fears that Sam jerks his head up. "I - "
"You know Dean did this for you," he's interrupted sharply. "He's here because you told him to stop fighting. That's the only reason he's not trying to get you back right now."
"I-I know," Sam says lamely. "I know that."
"Then get your face out of your butt," the angel snaps, and Sam remembers that as much as Cas is Cas, he's also a little Dean. "Dean thinks you're in hell, Sam. I did not bring you back to stare pathetically at windows."
He laughs breathlessly. "I - I know. I just - I, I'm also a little nervous."
"Ah." Castiel pauses, frowns as if thinking hard. Eventually his face steels, decision made, warrior about to do battle, and he solemnly pats Sam's shoulder, once, twice. "There there."
Sam blinks. "Uh... thank you?"
"You're welcome," the angel intones gravely.
He's not sure how to take that, exactly, so he goes back to watching. Watching's so much easier, so much safer than other things. Many other things.
Lisa gets up and starts clearing the table. Dean and Ben help, Ben after a bit of a nudge from Dean.
So many sounds.
He wishes he could hear them, just for a moment.
"Well. Ready yet?"
Ben and Lisa disappear from sight, dishes in their arms. Dean stays behind, paper towel in hand, and starts scrubbing the table.
Which is weird - bizarre, really, because he's never seen his brother clean anything but the Impala. But as Dean goes after what must be a particularly tough stain, Sam can recognize the familiar wrinkle between the eyes, the pursed mouth, the utterly focused expression. It used to be how Dean would look at him sometimes. As if there was nothing in the world but Sam.
Used to be. Once upon a time.
And it's weird too, how Sam can just watch invisibly from outside... untouched, unseen, no repercussions. Yeah sure, it's dark out, but - Dean used to know anyway, back then, somehow he always knew when he was being watched. By anyone, not just Sam.
He turns away, finds the moon. It takes him a moment to find his voice. "It's just - it's really -" Hard. Torturous. Saying yes to Lucifer was easier. "What if I - what if Dean doesn't -" he stops again, not 't knowing how to finish, but Cas is Cas again, not Dean, he doesn't help him, doesn't say anything. "I just don't know what... I just don't know what comes next, Cas," Sam whispers, and his voice doesn't break, it doesn't.
Because he doesn't have a Lisa, he doesn't have a Ben, he's got nothing but hunting, nothing but motels and diners, and how, how ironic would it be if Dean stays and Sam goes back to the road, by himself, alone -
"I'm not sure, but I think it's a hug."
Sam blinks, frowns, turns to glance at Cas quizzically, but all Cas does is nod his head at the house. He follows Castiel's gaze...
Dean's looking back at them, looking back at Sam, face white as a sheet, green eyes wide, wide like windows.
Eternity. The world is hushed, mute, utterly still - no dishes, no laughter, no heartbeat.
...And then suddenly something clicks, so loudly even Sam can hear it. Suddenly Dean just - just moves, disappears from view, and even from outside there's the audible thud of a table moving, a chair being carelessly knocked to the floor.
"Go, Sam," Cas says, but it's too late because Sam's already gone, Sam's running.
And the door opens.
A/N: I imagine I'm not the only one who was shouting at Sam to stop being a stupidhead at the end of the episode.
Hope you enjoyed!