Title: Of Freaks and Britney Spears
Characters/Pairings
: Sam/Gabriel (eventual), Sam/Castiel (one sided, unrequited), background Dean/Crowley, Gabriel/everyone, Jo/Lucifer(Luke), Jo/Ash, John/Mary, implied past Sam/Ruby, Sam/Jess, Michael, Zachariah, Raphael, Uriel, Pamela, Bela, OFCs, OMCs
Rating
: PG-13
Warnings
: complete AU in that terrible romcom kind of way, also no spoilers; implied past drug abuse; Sam angst; formulaic plot (hey, it's a romantic comedy, what did ya expect?); references to Britney Spears songs; offensive language; sexual references; occasional moments of utter crack
Word Count
: 23,617
Summary
: In which Sam's in love with Castiel and Gabriel has a brilliant plan to get them together.
Disclaimer
: Me? Own? Whoever said so, they're horrible, naughty liars.
A/N
: *fist pump* Oh yeah, I finished it. Parts of this plot have been going around in my head for weeks, man. At one point, it was basically all porn (sadly, that kind of...disappeared). It wasn't so Britney heavy then either. Thanks to comedyforever1117 for the inspiration on some scenes. Seriously, sis, thanks. I NEEDED IT. BADLY.


Sam's known Castiel since he was five, when the Novaks moved in next door. It was his birthday too, and some part of Sam thinks this must mean something. It's the silly, gooey romantic in him, deliberately fostered by his mother, aunts and grandmother and despaired of by his father and brother, and mostly he knows it is dead wrong but, well, it's hard to think that all the time. Especially when Mom tells the story of his first sighting of Castiel, of how he asked "Mommy, is he an angel?"

Of course he still maintains that a) he was five and b) five year old Castiel was wearing fluffy angel wings his brother had forced him into at the beginning of their move. Really, he was just asking the logical question. No one believes him though. It's no wonder no one was all that surprised when he came out as bi, what with his enormous, all-encompassing crush on Castiel which only grew worse as the years went on. As Dean said at the time, "Dude, everyone already knows."

In fact, Dean was wrong. But only in a very small, important way.

Castiel didn't know. Doesn't know, still. Well, he knows about the bi thing, but the crush? Nope, totally oblivious. When he was younger, Sam would watch teen romcoms and empathise with those in unrequited love because he knew how it felt from personal experience. Sometimes he'd cry at the happy ending, but only when Dean was at an away game or out of state visiting relatives because Dean had some sort of weird sixth sense that told him when Sam was being a giant girl.

Now that he's older and has a few relationships under his belt, he handles the whole unrequited love thing pretty well, or so he tells himself. Mostly he tries to ignore the giant pink elephant in the room, with limited success. So far Castiel remains quietly oblivious to Sam's inner turmoil. Occasionally they get together when Sam has paperwork to go over for his next case and Castiel has essays and tests to grade and they'll make a night of it. Sam will sleep on Castiel's pull-out couch and try desperately not to think of how Castiel's only in the other room and if he was anything but a gigantic girly coward, he'd go and do something about that distance, like hop into bed with him.

The only people who might be even more oblivious than Castiel are his family, with the possible exception of Anna, who is always narrowing her eyes at him whenever she spots him out with her brother like she thinks he's corrupting him or something, and Gabriel, who's a terrible gossip and thus knows everything about everyone. Seriously, Sam has never even seen Mr. Novak's face; it's always hidden behind a newspaper or laptop screen. His voice is booming and Sam could hear it perfectly whenever he'd visit Castiel's room in the attic, and he's pretty sure the man has a beard, even though he's never seen it. Mrs Novak spends most of her time up at the community college with her nose in a test tube, occasionally noting down observations and evaluations; she's the reason the family moved here in the first place.

Both are entirely uninterested in anything to do with their children's personal lives, except – as Castiel tells him in great detail – when they do something unexpected or something they view as outrageous, like when Gabriel just up and dropped his courses at the college. They'd had a family meeting, Castiel told him, and had taken Gabriel to task for both dropping the courses and accepting a janitorial job at the local high school. Castiel backed his parents at the time since he believed – and still does, mostly – that Gabriel was wasting his obvious and very fine talents doing a menial job when he could reach out and touch the stars if he so wished (Castiel tells this to his students whenever they begin to falter and it, unlike with Gabriel, always works, although Sam thinks this is mostly because every one of his students can't stand to see him look disappointed). Gabriel would do what he liked though, much to his parents' disappointment.

Castiel's other brothers – Michael, Luke and Raphael – along with his third cousin, Uriel, are about as oblivious as they come. It probably runs in the family. While his parents are merely disinterested, his brothers and third cousin are entirely oblivious to anything other than their own problems. Michael's entering mid life crisis mode, starting to question the point of working at his father's accounting firm when he turns out to really like knitting and is a terrific baker. Whenever Sam visits his parents, Michael's always pottering around their kitchen or having whispered conversations with Grandma Pearl in the living room. Sam's sure he's seen him driving around in a red Corvette but that's probably just the new high school principal, Mr. Crowley.

Luke's away at college, in his last year, studying to be a plastic surgeon. He's thinking of moving to Los Angeles when he graduates, although that all depends on what his father says (not that he'll listen). Luke always likes to pick fights with his father, according to Castiel; it's become a sort of hobby for them, a way for them to bond or something. Castiel always looks really intense when he's talking about it, like it's the most serious topic in the entire world and if Luke's not careful, Mr. Novak will kick him out or cut him off or deny him his inheritance or something equally heinous.

Raphael went through a brief artistic phase where he would paint everything from landscapes to self-portraits before deciding that this kind of artistry just wasn't for him (it helped that he was terrible and that everyone told him so, frequently). He turned to writing romance novels and was quite good at it. He writes under a pseudonym, H.C. Clemmons, and kept it a secret from everyone for a time (except Gabriel, who really does seem to know everything and anyway Raphael needed someone to give his drafts a read through before sending them to his editor). He now shares an apartment in New York with his fellow writer, some guy called Chuck, who writes fantasy. Sam has read a few of Raphael's novels (well, maybe more than a few) and the only parts of them that struck him as remotely realistic were the sex scenes, which he has a faint suspicion Gabriel helped with. Castiel radiates so much disapproval whenever Sam brings them up – he has a very clear and honest dislike for the whole genre – that Sam eventually stopped doing so.

Uriel – well. He's built like a bouncer and he occasionally does stand in for the bouncer at the Lion's Den and various other clubs around town. However, he blasts Britney Spears at all hours, both her old and new stuff, insisting that it helps him concentrate while he studies. He always has it on so loud, either with or without headphones, that Sam's sure his obliviousness can mostly be blamed on the fact that he's gone deaf. Castiel assures him, however, that Uriel's hearing is not impaired in any way by the volume of his music, although Sam can tell by the way the corners of his eyes get all tense and stiff that Castiel's glad he finally moved out. There are only so many times one can listen to You Drive Me Crazy at top volume before one has to think very hard about the preservation of one's sanity.

Sam likes listening to Castiel complain about his family, although Castiel never calls it complaining. Then again, Sam could listen to Castiel read from the phone book and it would still be the sexiest, most fascinating thing he'd ever heard (which probably says something detrimental about his social life, but whatever). Castiel has an amazing voice, harsh, deep, almost guttural sometimes. It makes Sam feel very uncomfortable in general so he's glad Castiel's not one for discussing sex and the like because Sam would be so screwed if he was, and not in a good, won't-be-able-to-walk-properly-for-a-week kind of way.

Right now, Castiel is informing Sam of his opinions on Gabriel's lifestyle choices. He hasn't actually said the word but, if he knew it (and Sam's never sure if Castiel's really that innocent or if it's all a show), he'd be thinking it. Basically, Gabriel is a slut and an incorrigible gossip. He knows this and seems oddly proud of it, like it's some sort of accomplishment. He's fucked almost everyone in town, with a few exceptions based on age, and knows everything about everyone, mostly through some kind of spy network made up of all his previous one night stands, brief flings, friends with benefits, fellow sluts, and so on and so forth. Plus, he has numerous jobs – janitor at the high school, bartender at the Lion's Den, waiter at cafes across town – which it help him pick up new people and keep his spy network fresh. Occasionally, Gabriel will do something that will outrage the town's population and this is one of those times.

From what Sam can gather, Gabriel exposed himself to a majority of the student body population while he and one of the lunch ladies were having sex in the janitor's closet. Sam guesses that a couple of students wanted to use the closet as their own private make out room and were given either a pleasant surprise – if they liked what they saw – or an unpleasant one – if they didn't – upon opening the door. However, since the corridors were packed with students going between classes, Sam privately thinks Gabriel paid some students to open the door at an opportune moment.

It is very obvious Castiel thinks this as well, but he's too polite to say it. Instead, he skirts around the issue and brings up old ones, like how Gabriel will never meet a nice person to settle down with if he keeps up this kind of behaviour and, really, when had Castiel started to sound like Grandma Pearl when she'd had one too many glasses of brandy and was beginning to discuss Aunt Rose's infamous promiscuity? Sam shakes his head and tries to concentrate but mostly he keeps looking at Castiel's furrowed brow and thinking about how much he wants to smooth away the worry and frustration there with his mouth.

Sam's flipping through one of Raphael's crappy romance novels, One Special Connection, by H.C. Clemmons (the much awaited sequel to the bestselling Two Different Worlds). They're a bit of a guilty pleasure for him and this one is new. He knows he's not the only fan in town – they're always sold out in less than a week – so it's not like he can blame some messed up sense of chivalry for the need to buy them since it's not like Raphael needs the money desperately.

He's really hoping Castiel doesn't catch him reading it. He'll give Sam his "I am extremely disappointed in you" look and Sam can't handle having that directed his way. Castiel's already giving him the cold shoulder after he accidentally said something offensive, re the Gabriel situation. It may have been something along the lines of, "You know, it's not really any of your business what he does with his life," and obviously that's the worst thing he could have said because Castiel cares about his brother and it is kind of his business. It's just that Gabriel has never been Sam's favourite person – Gabriel has teased and pranked Sam from an early age and is in fact the only person to have seen Sam cry, over the supposed death of his cat, Frank (who wasn't dead, only hidden in the Novak's garage) – and Sam could care less about how many people he's had sex with or what he's done to embarrass his family and the world this time.

He usually knows better than to actually come out and say this, but Dean's been acting weird for an entire week now, disappearing off at odd hours, coming back covered in bruises. Sam's asked him upfront what the hell he's been doing but Dean never gives him a straight answer, only grins and winces when that stretches his split lip. Sam privately thinks that this mysterious situation is far more important than anything Gabriel does. Whenever he attempts to bring it up, though, Castiel doesn't even listen. Sam sometimes wonders why the hell he loves Castiel so fucking much when he can be such a dick.

"Sam."

Sam jumps, the book falling out of his hands and sliding half under the table so hopefully Castiel hadn't seen and won't bring him to task for reading such trash. He glances up. Castiel looks, well, maybe not entirely apologetic but it's pretty damned close. He puts his chocolate frappuccino on the table and sits down across from Sam. Castiel does not believe in coffee but he has been seduced into an appreciation of chocolate in its many forms by Sam and (he admits grudgingly) Gabriel.

Sam smiles and bends down underneath the table, slipping the book into his briefcase. He straightens and looks at Castiel. "Hey," he says.

"Hello, Sam," Castiel replies. There's a moment of clear hesitation and then he says, "I apologise for my behaviour yesterday. It was uncalled for. I know how much you dislike Gabriel and that speaking of him is not your favourite subject of conversation. I will attempt to remember this in case of future mishaps."

Sam blinks. This is why he loves Castiel, he thinks. Castiel generally does not believe he is ever in the wrong – and mostly he's not – but he'll apologise if he knows you think he is. "I'm sorry too, Castiel," Sam says because they've had this conversation many times before and he's practically memorised the correct response. "You care about Gabriel and, well, he's your brother. It is your business what he gets up to."

Castiel rarely smiles but it's on these sorts of occasions that he brings those rare smiles out. They're like rays of sunshine on otherwise cloudy days, bright and clear and honest and gone the next second. Sam lives for these smiles.

Sam's sitting at their regular table in the Lion's Den – and it is a bit sad that he and Castiel have a regular table in a pub. He's waiting for Castiel to arrive, surreptitiously reading One Special Connection. They're meeting up to discuss Gabriel's surprise birthday party, set for next weekend, and it's a bit strange that they're meeting to discuss something that involves the bartender, standing over at the bar not six feet away. Then again, he probably knows about it already – you have to keep your secrets closer than you normally would for Gabriel not to have heard them twice over.

The doors slam open and Sam lifts his head, frowning. There's a beat of silence and then Uriel marches in, backpack slung over one shoulder, a pile of books under one arm. He strides over to a table on the other side of the room and dumps everything on it. He stares at the table before pointing randomly up into the air, keeping his gaze on the table. "Hit it," he thunders, because that's basically his only tone of voice.

Gabriel grins and points a remote at the stereo on the shelf behind him, surrounded by bottles of alcohol. The pretty acoustic track stops, replaced by Britney singing Toxic. Sam groans – softly, he's not suicidal – and buries his head in his hands. Uriel nods firmly, sitting down at the table and opening his math textbook.

"He passes with flying colours, you know," Gabriel says from somewhere in front of him. Sam lifts his head and glares. Gabriel's perched on the edge of the table, ignoring the perfectly adequate chair beside him. He raises an eyebrow, smirks. "A pluses all around. Britney's good for some things, you have to admit."

Sam stares at him. "You encourage him," he accuses. "Castiel—"

"Castiel's a giant stick in the mud," Gabriel interrupts.

Sam's on his feet before he can stop himself. "He's not," he says hotly.

Gabriel rolls his eyes, looking as relaxed as ever. "Yeah, he is. You just don't see it because you're in love with him. And love, as they say..." He doesn't need to finish the sentence to get his point across, just spreads an arm and shrugs. Then he makes a face. "And come on. How could he not like Britney? She has a song about threesomes, Sam. Threesomes."

He flicks Sam in the face with the hand towel he's holding and leaves Sam to contemplate this obvious gold nugget of information he's given him, moving behind the bar and grinning when Uriel commands that the song be changed to Womanizer because he's moved onto history. Sam glares at the back of his head and attempts to listen to his iPod but he can hear Britney over everything he tries (it doesn't help that he turns it on and Circus starts to playing in his ears). Eventually he gives up and just sits there, trying to concentrate on the rest of Raphael's novel.

One of the waitresses – Sam thinks her name is Jackie – brings him over a strawberry daiquiri and he's so distracted he drinks it before he realises what she's given him. He stares at it once he's had most of it and then looks over at Gabriel, who gives him the thumbs up before going back to chatting up Victor. Sam stares at the drink some more in case it decides to spontaneously combust, as so much of what Gabriel gives him tends to do (well, some of it – others do worse things, it's not pretty). Nothing happens and he takes a tentative sip. He doesn't drop down dead, which is not exactly surprising considering he's had most of it already and nothing untoward has happened yet.

By the time Castiel shows up, late for once and looking as though a bird's decided his hair would make a great nest, Gabriel has sent over four more strawberry daiquiris and Sam's now lazily tapping his foot to the end beats of Radar (Uriel moved onto geography). Castiel's mouth is set in a hard line and he looks as though several unsavoury persons harassed him repeatedly on the way to the pub. This kind of activity is actually not unusual around Castiel – people tend to look at him and see an angel who'll give them money if they look despondent enough – but he usually keeps his cool.

The music does not help his mood (it's changed to I'm a Slave 4 U) and he drops his briefcase with a louder than usual thump. Sam's in a rather pleasant mood and gives him a wide smile, in case that somehow against all odds actually works. Castiel returns the smile, or well, the corners of his mouth turn up and then down almost immediately.

"Hey," Sam says, leaning forward. "You okay?"

"Yes, Sam, I am fine." Castiel is a terrible liar, always has been.

Sam frowns, his brow furrows. "Did something happen at work?" he asks.

Castiel sighs. "No, Sam," he says. He squirms in his chair and avoids Sam's eye. Sam leans in more. This is big. Castiel never avoids eye contact. He says it's a sign of dishonesty. "I may have let Grandma Pearl pressure me into doing something I did not wish to do," he says eventually as Sam continues to stare.

Sam's frown deepens. Grandma Pearl is notorious for pressuring even the strongest wills into doing the things she wants so it's not really surprising she's managed to do so with Castiel. It's just that her only goal in life is to see everyone married off and with children. She's like the scary matchmaker in Mulan, except she does care about you and only wants you to be happy (and by "happy," she means "married with children"). It's not good she's turned her focus on Castiel since she tends to – mostly by accident – fix people up with those they really are compatible with, and apparently that's not Sam because they'd spoken last night as usual and she'd said nothing.

"What did you have to do?" Sam asks.

Castiel takes a deep breath. This doesn't appear to help with his nerves so he closes his eyes. "She had me ask Jo Harvelle to be my date for Gabriel's birthday party."

All Sam can say is, "Oh."

Jackie chooses that particular moment to come by and drop off his latest daiquiri, swinging her hips and humming softly under her breath along with Lace and Leather. Sam takes the drink without looking and downs it in one. "Well," he says once that's done. "It's not so bad, is it? Jo's a lovely girl." It hurts him to say it, even though it's true.

Castiel nods. "She is," he agrees. "But, Sam, I am not interested in dating anyone. Ever," he adds, in case he hasn't hammered his point home hard enough.

There's a buzzing in Sam's ears and it'd be just like him to faint at a time like this. He really shouldn't have had that last daiquiri. What the hell has Gabriel put in them, anyway?

"Oh well, that's alright then," he says, perhaps a bit too loudly because Gabriel and a few of the pub's patrons look over.

Castiel frowns – which is to say, his eyebrows scrunch up and he purses his lips. "Sam, I don't think you," he begins.

"Just tell Jo what you told me," Sam says. "I'm sure she'll understand." It's not like she's totally butt crazy in love with you, he thinks. Anyway, Sam knows for a fact that she has this whole long distance thing going with Luke where they see other people on the side (and why Dean – who obviously gets all this via Gabriel's extensive spy network – insists on telling him these things, Sam doesn't want to know).

Castiel continues to frown. "You do not think she will be offended?" he asks.

Sam laughs and, fuck, it does not sound like he's seconds away from crying. "I don't think so," he says and watches as Castiel's face relaxes until it almost looks happy. Relieved, at least.

"Thank you, Sam," Castiel says, his voice practically dripping with gratitude. It's the most emotive Sam's seen him in a long time. Grandma Pearl must have really done a number on him.

Sam waves it away. "No problem," he says. "Here to help."

Castiel actually graces him with one of his rare smiles. The corners of his eyes crinkle, his blue eyes are bright and clear and he's honest to God smiling, mouth relaxed and easy. Sam wants to kiss him so bad, wants to lean over and press his mouth to Castiel's, push his tongue in and explore where he's always wanted to, wants to give and take and never, ever stop.

But he doesn't.

Sometimes, when things like this happen, Sam thinks of Ruby and how she'd been such a manipulative bitch, how he'd known she was and still loved her. She'd wheedled him into taking whatever drugs she had on hand, usually just your standard party pills (she was by no means rich) but occasionally her brother would give her some ecstasy as a gift. And he thinks, "See, life's not so bad now." Usually it works because nothing had been as bad as the look on Dean's face when he'd come to visit and seen Sam lying on the floor, high as a kite, wondering why there were fluffy white rabbits hiding in the ceiling fan.

Maybe it's not as bad as that, but it sure feels like it. Every other time, Sam could fool himself into thinking that it wasn't the right time, but now it seems like there'd never be a right time. Castiel doesn't want to date anyone – come to think of it, Castiel has never dated anyone. Sam's always fooled himself into thinking that Castiel just hadn't met the right person yet, that one day he'd turn around and Sam would be there, ready and willing and very, very able. Maybe a part of him has always known this was a load of shit, a fairy tale he told himself to sleep better at night, but he'd always been able to keep the veneer of truth over it because Castiel had never actually said anything definitive about it. Maybe Castiel was in love with him as well and just didn't know how to express it, or was too shy to. And, okay, maybe that was far-fetched but it helped him get through.

"Gabriel, would you please turn down the volume?" Castiel has to shout to be heard over Three (Uriel has moved onto putting the finishing touches on his English essay on love in A Midsummer Night's Dream).

Sam shakes his head, shakes the buzzing sound away and replaces it with Britney singing about threesomes. He looks up and sees Gabriel miming something along the lines of, "What? I can't hear you over the ear drum splitting music!" and then he returns to doing aerodynamically impossible things with glasses and bottles, most of which would be impressive if it weren't Gabriel doing them. He does that kind of stuff every night.

Sam stares at him for a long time before he becomes aware that Castiel is waving a hand in his face. He frowns. "What?"

Castiel sits back. He's also frowning. "Perhaps we should go back to my place," he says.

Sam blinks. He's sure he hasn't missed enough of the conversation for that to sound as innuendo laced as it does. "Uh, what?" he repeats.

"The music," Castiel says, grasping his briefcase. He stands up. "We will most likely get more done at a quieter locale," he adds when Sam continues to look confused.

"Oh," Sam says, finally getting it. He also stands, grabbing his briefcase and jacket. "Sure." He follows Castiel out of the pub and then stops.

"Just wait a minute, Cas," he says absently. He frowns at the ground, at his feet, and then turns and walks back into the pub and up to the bar. Gabriel grins at him and flips a bottle of something alcohol around and around before filling a shot glass and sliding it down the bar. A man with a baseball hat pulled low over his face catches it, bopping his head as the first strains of Oops! I Did It Again.

"I hope you didn't put anything in those daiquiris," Sam says after a moment of silent staring.

Gabriel pretends to look offended. "Why would I do such a thing, Sam?" he asks, a hand pressed to his chest. "Shame on you."

Sam frowns.

"Look, kiddo," Gabriel sighs, leaning over the bar. "I did it to ease the initial...shock of Castiel's announcement."

Sam's frown deepens. "How did you," he begins.

Gabriel rolls his eyes. "I was talking to Grandma Pearl last night. She mentioned it. You know how she likes to brag. Of course, I knew something she didn't." Sam makes a half curious noise and Gabriel seems more than happy to elaborate. "I knew any of her attempts would be useless. After all, he's had you panting after him all these years and he hasn't done a thing about it. My brother may be many things, but he's not that oblivious."

"He could just be..." Sam mumbles.

"What? Straight?" Gabriel laughs. "Yeah, about that. Have you ever seen him look at a girl's rack? And don't tell me that's him being a gentleman. I know my brother and, believe me, it's not about the packaging. He just doesn't care." He gives Sam this pitying look and Sam just can't take that above everything else. He turns and leaves the pub, walks past Castiel and on down the street.

Castiel hurries to catch up. "Sam," he says, sounding worried and kind of breathless.

Sam realises he's practically jogging and slows down. "Yeah?" he says, hoping Castiel won't ask any difficult questions.

Castiel pauses and Sam walks on a few steps before he realises this. He turns and looks back at him. "Castiel?" he asks hesitantly. "You okay?"

Castiel tilts his head. "It was very loud in there," he says.

Sam manages a smile. "Yeah, it was."

Castiel nods, firmly, as though this answers more than it was meant to. They walk on to Castiel's apartment where they spend most of the night discussing plans for Gabriel's party, most of which they discard, until they decide that something simple like a barbeque in the Novak's backyard would be perfect. Not to Gabriel, of course, who had probably planned a whole other kind of party later that night, but it was easy to set up and Grandma Pearl didn't have to walk too far.

Sam lies on the pull-out couch later that night, blankets pulled up high. He'd managed to drink a few glasses of water and Castiel had made him dinner so hopefully he wouldn't have too much of a hangover. He sighs and turns over onto his side. He spends about an hour doing that over and over before he finally gives up. He sits up, throws his clothes back on and leaves Castiel a note on the kitchen table where he's sure to see it the next morning.

Sam walks into the Lion's Den to find it mostly empty, save for Gabriel and Kali, the pub's manager. Kali is going around putting seats up on tables and fixing up a few pictures on the walls. Gabriel is wiping down the bar, humming along to Heat of the Moment playing softly in the background. Sam grinds his teeth; he hates this song with a passion – suffice to say, it involves a terrible, never-ending day in the life of Sam Winchester, and a rhinoceros.

Kali notices him first and raises a thin eyebrow. "We're closed," she says. Gabriel looks up at that and grins when he sees Sam.

"I need a drink," Sam tells him, straddling one of the only barstools Kali hasn't gotten to yet. Kali looks between them, rolls her eyes and throws a set of keys in Gabriel's direction. "You're locking up," she says as he catches them. She points at him. "No funny business," she adds, soft and menacing.

"Now, Kali, would I," Gabriel begins.

"No," she says with a scary sort of finality.

Gabriel merely pouts at her. "You're no fun."

She raises an eyebrow, keeping it up there so he knows she means business. He stands to attention and snaps off a salute. "Aye aye, mon capitaine," he says, unable to keep the grin off his face.

She leaves, shaking her head. Gabriel grins after her before turning his attention to Sam. "So," he says, leaning across the bar. "What'll it be, my good sir?"

"I need a drink," Sam repeats. He sighs, relieved, when Heat of the Moment ends and some song he doesn't know comes on. He realises later that it's one of Britney's older tracks. Sometimes, he thinks but it's not like he has any real idea. Right.

Gabriel gives him the once over and then heads into the back room. When he comes back, he throws Sam a bottle of something that turns out to be ginger beer. Sam's shoulders slump – he's not really in the mood for arguing – and he tips the bottle back and gulps down most of it.

"Boy, am I glad I didn't give you the real thing," Gabriel says. He's standing behind the bar, in front of Sam, and has to look up at him, peer up into his face. Sam almost died of happiness the day he fully realised that Gabriel had to look up at him whenever they spoke. Now he's numb and the height difference he counts his blessings for every day barely registers.

Sam grunts and takes another, smaller sip of ginger beer. "I hate you," he says conversationally once he's finished the entire bottle.

Gabriel hands him another bottle. "Do you now," he says, mild as anything. He leans against the bar, arms crossed, fingers tapping the beat to Boys. And, really, Sam's not sure that Uriel isn't just an excuse for Gabriel to listen to what he wants.

Sam glowers at him for not being more offended at the idea of incurring the hatred of one Sam Winchester. "You know, normal people react differently when people tell them they hate them," he tells Gabriel, part of him unsure how he's managed the big word in the middle of that sentence.

"Well, maybe I'm not normal," Gabriel says.

This makes a strange sort of sense. Sam grunts again and gulps down some ginger beer. He stays silent for longer than last time, just staring at the bar, or the bottle, or occasionally at Gabriel.

"Sam," Gabriel says eventually. He sounds one minute from rolling his eyes all the way out of his head. "Why are you moping around like this? Why don't you fight for him?"

Sam frowns. "Because..." He takes a deep, shuddering breath. "Because it's useless," he says and waves the bottle around. "We've known each other for years and he's never even looked at me. Not once. I tried, you know, when we were in high school." Gabriel smirks, as though he remembers. Sam glares at him. "You weren't exactly helpful, you know."

"No, I wasn't, was I," Gabriel says slowly, enjoying himself. He's still smirking. "Maybe I liked you, did you ever think of that?"

This thought horrifies him so much it stuns him into complete silence. His brain tries to compute it, but no fucking way. He thinks of Frank, and the rhinoceros and Heat of the Moment. He shudders.

Gabriel, of course, laughs.

Sam looks horrified at the very suggestion. Gabriel can't contain his laughter at the sight and it bursts out. Eventually he calms down, wipes the tears from his eyes and looks back up at Sam, who merely looks pissed off now.

"I think you should fight for him, Sam," Gabriel says, trying to be serious because this is about as serious as he gets, helping the guy in love with his little brother. "And this time I'm going to help you." He leans further across the bar, and up, until he's able to kiss Sam, a gentle press of mouths because he has to ease the kid into this. The move requires flexibility (but that's never been a problem for him) and a good sense of balance when Sam clues into what's going on, makes a shocked noise against his mouth and knocks him on his ass.

He scrambles to his feet, grinning. Sam gives him this terrified, deer-in-the-headlights look and says, "Oh god, you do like me."

Gabriel laughs at this, not because the idea of someone liking Sam Winchester is perfectly ridiculous (the boy is fine) but because the idea of Gabriel liking him in that way is such that it's too amusing to pass up the chance to laugh at. Gabriel manages to calm himself down for the second time – who knew Sam was such a comedian? – and shakes his head. "Kid, you might fit my type, which most everyone does who's breathing and over the age of consent," he admits with a smirk, "but no. This," and he gestures between them, "is all part of the plan." Sam's face goes blank, and then he looks confused.

Gabriel rolls his eyes. "You may be gorgeous, but you're not very bright, are you?" He continues when Sam frowns and opens his mouth to counter that, "We'll make him jealous." He stands back and waits as Sam basks in the utter brilliance that is his plan (he's been formulating it since Grandma Pearl let slip that she might very well win that whole get-Castiel-laid bet they'd started years ago so it's obviously brilliant beyond words, as all his plans are).

"It won't work," Sam says bluntly once he's basked. Gabriel notices he's absently tapping his fingers to Gimme More playing on the stereo. He grins.

"Ah, ah, ah," Gabriel says. He flicks Sam in the nose, just because he has a fondness for the look Sam makes whenever he does something like that: surprised, pissed off, a little cross eyed. "Don't nay-say the plan before you've heard the whole thing."

Sam gestures for him to go on, obviously having put his sceptical hat on beforehand.

Gabriel leans forward eagerly. "So, everyone knows how much Castiel despises my whole lifestyle choice – you know, sleeping around with everyone under the sun," he rolls his eyes as though this detestation is ludicrous to the extreme, "and if he sees us together and you insinuate that you're either really into me enough that you want to try and save me or that you don't particularly care about me as a person but like having lots of sex with me, I'm sure he'll see sense. And we'll have to make it seem as though we're really a couple, otherwise it'll seem really obvious that you're doing it to make him jealous." He beams at Sam because his plan? Amazing.

"It won't work," Sam repeats again, just as bluntly. He scrunches his nose. "This isn't some elaborate plan to get into my pants, is it?" Because apparently he's still stuck on the idea that he's just too gorgeous for Gabriel to resist. Plus, he's never really given Sam any reason to trust him. Damn, he knew that thing with Frank was going to come back to bite him on the ass one day.

"No, Sam," he says and, really, he's going to strain an eyeball the way he's going. "I don't, in any way, want to get into your pants. If I did, you'd know because I'd already be in there." He smirks.

"Really," Sam says, deadpan. He shakes his head. "I don't know whether I should be insulted or..." He pauses. "No, I'm definitely insulted."

"Oh, come on," Gabriel whines, grabbing at Sam's hand to keep him from slipping away and out the door before he's managed to persuade Sam of the brilliance of his plan. "I'm not that bad, and it's not like you've got anything to lose except your dignity." He tugs Sam's hand closer and Sam just stares blankly at their hands, all together and touching. The phenomenon seems to have fried his brain.

He sighs and drops Sam's hand. Sam continues to stare at it but looks up when Gabriel begins to speak. "Look, you make my brother happy, okay? And you're the only one who can stand to be around him for long periods of time. Maybe you haven't noticed, being in love with him and all, but he's kind of a freak and you're probably his only friend." He stops and looks down at his own hands. Really, Sam was right to stare – they're pretty fascinating. Also, his hands are awesome.

Sam stares at him for a long time, long enough that Gabriel actually becomes bored with staring at his hands and looks up (and up, damn him) to meet his gaze. "You're serious, aren't you?" Sam asks, sounding sort of surprised like he's never known Gabriel to be serious – which, okay, fair enough.

Gabriel spreads his hands. "Well, yeah," he says. "Haven't you been listening?"

Sam snorts. "Yeah, but you're you."

"I'll give you that," Gabriel concedes. He smiles and Sam actually returns it, small and a little sweet. "So, you up for it?" he asks. "The plan?"

Sam squirms on the barstool. "Uh, shouldn't we, uh, practise?" he asks, sounding faintly nauseated at the thought.

Gabriel blinks, surprised. "Practise?" he says, wonders what that's supposed to mean. Then it hits him and he smirks. "Well, I'm not sure about your acting ability so maybe we'll have to." He leans across the bar and Sam, obviously reluctant, does as well. It's not like they have to, whether Sam can act or not, but he's not going to tell Sam that since Gabriel will never turn down opportunities like this.

"Is this a yes?" Gabriel asks when they're an inch or two apart. The answer's obvious, of course, but Gabriel is nothing if not thorough. Sam nods and squeezes his eyes shut, as though trying to pretend this isn't happening (or maybe that he's Castiel). Gabriel would be insulted but Sam chooses then to close the distance between them. Gabriel has always found kissing to be a good distraction.

They spend the rest of the night practising to a soundtrack of Britney and the occasional eighties track, until light slowly begins to stream in through the windows. When the light hits them, Sam's pressing light butterfly kisses along the incline of Gabriel's neck. He's attempting to keep his eyes open but it requires a great feat of mental strength and that's just pushing him closer toward dreamland. Gabriel moved onto the bar when Sam started to become restless and kind of grabby, and now he has his legs wrapped around Sam's torso and a hand drifting over Sam's hair.

"Think you can act like you like kissing me now?" Gabriel asks as he listens with half an ear to Britney singing Unusual You. He really hopes Kali doesn't take the moment to appear because this would probably be seen as "funny business" in her books. Not that he really minds that, but she does have a nasty temper on her.

"Mm, maybe," Sam breathes against his neck.

Gabriel pats him on the shoulder. "Okay, Gigantor, much as I enjoyed practising with you, it's seven thirty in the morning and I need to actually go home and get ready for work. You probably do too."

Sam rears back but manages to remain seated, mostly due to the grip he has on Gabriel. "What? It is? Where?" he says, blinking sleep from his eyes, rubbing them when that doesn't really work.

Gabriel grins at him and points over his shoulder, where there's a clock hanging on the wall. In his attempt to twist around and see the clock Sam falls off the stool, tumbling to the ground. The stool manages to stay on one leg for all of a second before toppling down beside him. Gabriel peers down at him, still grinning.

From his position on the floor, Sam can finally see the clock. He scrambles to his feet and rushes for the door, letting it bang behind him as he leaves. Gabriel stares after him before gathering up Sam's stuff from where it's laid out on the bar.

Sam comes back in a few seconds later, face blushing a rather fine red. Gabriel raises an eyebrow. "Forget something?" he says and Sam glowers at him from behind his bangs.

"Shut up, you," Sam mutters, grabbing his briefcase and jacket without even a by-your-leave. He looks at Gabriel, unreadable, and then leans in for a kiss. And, dear god, morning breath has never been a turn on for Gabriel but Sam's mouth could make it worth his while.

Sam steps back, looks at the ground, up at the ceiling, then finally at Gabriel – or, well, somewhere over his shoulder. "So, I guess I'll see you," he says.

"I guess you will," Gabriel replies, smirking as Sam leaves as fast as he possibly can without wearing a groove into the floorboards. He hopes Sam doesn't rethink his part in this whole plan because it's going to be so much fun.

Sam unlocks the door and slips into the apartment quietly, hoping Dean's not home and wondering where exactly he got to last night – or, at least, thinking that he stayed over at Castiel's like he usually would (and he really hopes Castiel doesn't take him leaving in the middle of the night as some kind of slight, fuck). Thankfully Dean appears to either be asleep – his bedroom door's closed – or he's already left for work. Sam sighs with relief and heads for the shower.

"Morning, Sam," Dean says sleepily, his head popping up from the couch. He slings his arm over the back of the couch and rubs a hand over his face.

Sam screams. It's loud, sudden, and his heart's beating so fast it might very well beat its way out of his chest. Dean looks at him like he's gone insane. "Uh...okay?" His eyes narrow at the sight of Sam still dressed in the suit from yesterday, carrying the briefcase and probably looking, well, debauched (hey, he'd seen himself in the mirror above the bar, he knows). "Sam, where have you been?"

Another head pops up from behind the couch, dark hair tousled, eyes sullen. "Darling, you should have told me you had a live in lover," he says, his voice all dark smoke and black velvet. "We could have had a threesome." He gives Dean a look, like it's all his fault they missed out on that prime opportunity.

Sam splutters. "We're brothers," both he and Dean say at the same time. The man shrugs, like he thinks that's not even a very good excuse. "And I could ask you the same question, Dean," Sam adds, smirking at his brother. "Since you have a very nice male friend with you, here. In our apartment." Because Dean never brings people back here; he always, without fail, goes to their place.

Dean growls and hoists himself up from the couch. He drags Sam into the kitchen as the man begins to slowly dress himself. The kitchen's not exactly that far away and if the man tried, he could probably listen to every word they say but it's the best they can do.

"Who the hell is that?" Sam hisses, pointing in the guy's direction in case Dean thinks he's referring to the other mysterious man in their apartment.

Dean rubs a hand over his hair, probably cursing the fact that Sam got in the first question. "He's, uh, the new principal at the high school," he mumbles.

Sam stares at him. "I cannot believe you're sleeping with a guy who drives a Corvette." He can't believe that's the first thing that comes to mind, especially since he's pretty sure it's Michael who drives that Corvette he's seen.

Dean glares. "He drives a Bentley, Sam. A Bentley. There's a difference. And he loves my baby," he adds proudly. Of course the guy does; Dean would never in a million years befriend someone who didn't like the Impala he's owned since their Dad bequeathed it to him on his sixteenth birthday. It's why he and Castiel don't get along – Castiel doesn't see the purpose of a car like the Impala and, anyway, prefers to walk everywhere. And shit, Gabriel was right – he is Castiel's only friend. Castiel seems to alienate people as easy as other people breathe.

"Also, we're not sleeping together," Dean adds, absently, as though it doesn't really matter.

"You're not? So you just happened to fall asleep on the couch together?" Sam smirks because, yeah, how unlikely is that?

"Yes," Dean says as though it's obvious. He coughs and stares past Sam's shoulder. "We were watching the Godfather trilogy. I fell asleep about a quarter of the way through the third one." He shrugs. "Don't know about him." His eyes narrow. "And where were you, Sammy?" he asks.

Sam opens his mouth.

"I know you weren't at Castiel's because he called about an hour and a half ago," Dean says. "God, that kid is such a freak, I have no idea why you're friends with him."

Sam bristles. "He is not," he says, even though, yeah, he kind of is. It's partly why Sam likes him. Loves him.

"Yeah, he is," Dean says. "And don't try to change the subject." He smirks. "You know, you can tell me if you got bored at Castiel's – he is boring, fuck knows the kid needs to get laid – and picked up some girl at a bar, went back to her place, yeah?" Dean raises both eyebrows suggestively. Although he won't want details, Dean thinks that if Sam has sex with enough people he'll soon realise his crush on Castiel is a no-win situation and abandon ship. Sam has never really understood why he thinks this because it hasn't worked so far.

"Yeah, sure, Dean. That's exactly what happened." Sam rolls his eyes and manages to skirt his way around Dean. He makes his way to the bathroom and locks himself in there. He spends most of his time in the shower thinking about that night, all of it, from the bad to the sort of good. It's no wonder Gabriel's a good kisser what with how many times he's had to put his mouth to work. Sam shouldn't be surprised, knows he shouldn't, but he is anyway. He runs a hand over his mouth before realising that he's being a stupid girl because like that's ever not going to be a royally fucked up mess if it was for real. He shakes his head and goes back to doing what you normally have a shower for.

He thinks about Castiel while he's getting dressed, which is not unusual for him. He's buttoning up his shirt when he closes his eyes, breathes out softly and reaches for the phone on the bedside table. He eyes the clock on the wall across the room (a round and silvery thing Aunt Rose gave him for his last birthday) as he listens to the dial tone. Maybe Castiel's already at work. Maybe he saw the note and it cleared everything up (he has fuzzy memories of writing it and he doesn't think it was that good). Or maybe he's not picking up the phone because he knows it's Sam and he doesn't want to talk to him. Fuck.

Sam's about to hang up and try Castiel's cell phone – Castiel doesn't believe in them but Sam bought him one in case of emergencies (right now he's proficient in receiving calls and not much else) – when Castiel picks up the phone. Sam almost thinks it's the answering machine as Castiel says, "Hello, this is Castiel Novak speaking. How may I help you?"

"Castiel," Sam says. He can feel the smile threatening to break and lets it. He loves the way Castiel sounds in the morning, throaty, with a hint of a growl. He imagines it's what he'd sound like after sex, not that that's a particularly helpful thought right then, or ever. "Uh, I'm sorry I left early. I had a lot of work to do and I didn't want to be late."

"I see," Castiel replies after a moment of silence. Sam has no idea whether he does or not. "Will I be seeing you later this afternoon, to go over the plans for Gabriel's party?"

"Yeah, of course," Sam says because, yeah, he would never miss an opportunity to be near Castiel – and yes, he does know how sad that sounds. "Where should we meet?"

"My apartment, four thirty. You have your own set of keys. You can let yourself in." And then he hangs up. Sam stares at the phone for a long moment. They've known each other for years and Sam still can't figure out whether Castiel is truly bad at speaking over the phone or whether he's actually angry with Sam and attempting to give him the cold shoulder over the line. He hopes it's the former.

He spends most of his day going over the conversation in his head, after managing to escape more of Dean's questions and Mr. Crowley's probing stare by running for the door as soon as he'd left his room. This kind of behaviour isn't exactly professional especially since Mr Doherty is counting on him to fix this whole mix up with the giraffe. He has no idea how his life is this weird, but apparently giraffes can be mistaken for horses by people perfectly capable of identifying between equines – he would suspect Gabriel since he has fondness for zoo animals and sending them Sam's way but it's been years, or at least months, since Gabriel's pranked him so it's probably just a mistake in the paperwork.

By the time he leaves the office at four in order to get to Castiel's apartment on time, his mind's in turmoil and all he wants to do is take a couple of aspirin and sleep the rest of the day (and night) away. On the plus side, the giraffe in Mr Doherty's field will be gone next week and the prize stallion he asked for will be there the week after that.

Apparently Castiel really is that bad at speaking on the phone – and Sam should know this since he knows Castiel even manages to alienate prank callers and telephone salespeople by questioning their motives and their entire modus operandi – because he's almost smiling when he looks up from whatever he's doing when Sam lets himself in. He turns out to be baking and it smells amazing. Castiel is an even better baker than Michael, but only Sam knows this (and possibly Gabriel, who knows everything about everyone).

"Hello, Sam," he says. There's a dash of flour across his cheek that Sam wants to take his time wiping off but, well, inappropriate thoughts and all that. Castiel would probably just stare at him.

Instead, he clears his throat. "Hey, Castiel," he replies, taking off his jacket and throwing it across the back of one of the dining room chairs. He moves into the kitchen. "What are you baking?"

Castiel wipes the back of his hand over his forehead and now there's a brown mark, interspersed with flecks of white. "Chocolate cake," he says. "For Gabriel's party." He makes this face like he's unsure why Gabriel's so picky about having a chocolate cake when Castiel's perfectly fine with whatever cake they end up making or buying for him (except he's not, he's so not).

Sam smiles. Fuck, he is so screwed. "How can I help?"

Castiel gives him the task of making scones. Sam used to be very accident prone in the kitchen – seriously, he'd only have to look at an oven and it would burst into flames (thankfully the same cannot be said about microwaves). Castiel has been teaching him to bake, however, and although the process has been slow and frustrating and has taken place over a number of years, Castiel has at least managed to save ovens the world over from the disaster that is Sam Winchester. Despite this, Sam usually leaves any type of cooking up to Castiel, or Dean, or Michael, or in fact anyone but himself, just in case. However, he does remember how to bake scones without setting the kitchen on fire so he sets to work, getting the ingredients out while consulting the recipe Castiel gives him.

When he happens to glance over at Castiel to see how he's doing, he finds Castiel staring at him. Castiel stares at people a lot, of course, but it's usually to intimidate them and sometimes because he has no clear idea when to stop and so just continues. Sam frowns. "Castiel, do you want something?" he asks.

Castiel continues to stare at him while anyone else would have turned away. "Sam," he says. He looks hesitant as though thinking he might offend him. "Do you think..." He pauses. "Am I a freak?" he asks eventually, after a moment of silent staring that goes on a bit too long for Sam's comfort. Castiel says the word "freak" like he knows what it means and understands why it's applied to him, just that he needs confirmation.

Sam's eyes widen. "No," he says immediately, fiercely. He's at Castiel's side in an instant, grasping his shoulder. Castiel stares at the hand on his shoulder and then up at Sam. "No, I don't think you're a freak," Sam says once he's taken a deep breath. His eyes narrow and his grasp on Castiel's shoulder tightens. "Why? Who said that?" He would kill them; he would get one of Dad's guns out of his gun cabinet or borrow Bobby's shotgun if the lock proved too difficult and he would shoot them dead.

Castiel shrugs and Sam feels the movement under his hand. He pulls his hand back to his side, clears his throat. "Sam," Castiel says, "I know I am a freak."

"But you're not!" Sam counters hotly, brows furrowing. Castiel stares at him. There might be a minute shift of an eyebrow. "I mean, maybe you're not like other people," he says, "but who wants to be normal anyway? Normal's overrated." And it is, so much. He grins at Castiel. "Let your freak flag fly," he says, even though Castiel does that every day, obviously unknowingly.

Castiel's mouth relaxes and he looks almost relieved. "Let my freak flag fly," he muses. He reaches out and grasps Sam's shoulder, squeezing it lightly. "Thank you, Sam," he intones seriously.

"You're welcome, Castiel," Sam says. It sort of feels like he's missed something but whatever, Castiel's happy and it's all good.

Sam's at the local library, researching something for his next case and occasionally thinking about Castiel. He's flipping through a book on the mating cycles of insects that he doesn't remember picking up when someone sits on the very edge of the table, their shadow obscuring most of the words on the page. Sam glances up, glare at the ready, and finds Gabriel grinning down at him, sucking on a lollipop. He opens his mouth but Gabriel beats him to it.

He picks up the book and flips through it. He pulls the lollipop out of his mouth with a slow pop and asks, "Insect biology, Sam? Really?" before throwing the book back on the table. It makes a loud, if slightly muffled, thump. Bobby glances up from the issue desk where he's cleaning his shotgun and frowns at them. Gabriel sucks the lollipop back into his mouth and sends Bobby a smirk, mouth curving around the candy.

Sam opens his mouth again. "I asked around and apparently this is where you think people won't come looking for you," Gabriel says. He flicks Sam on the nose and grins. "So I came looking for you." He crunches the lollipop, the sound loud enough for Bobby to give them both a glare.

Sam's finally able to say something, at least. "Why?" he asks, keeping his voice low. The reason Sam uses this place to get away from people is because most people are afraid of Bobby Singer, always at the issue desk, ever watchful, cleaning his shotgun or cocking it when the noise gets too loud. The head librarian, Mrs Harvelle, hired him for that very reason. She likes a quiet library and Bobby helps achieve that.

Gabriel leans back, twirling the lollipop stick absently around his fingers. "Because it's been two days since you agreed to the plan and we have two days til my soiree, and we haven't even done anything to get the rumour circulating that we're a couple." He gestures at himself and pokes Sam's chest with the stick. "I mean, I can't just say we're dating. People need proof, Sam, otherwise they think you're lying."

Sam glares at him. "Yeah, well, maybe I'm not so sure of this plan of yours," he says, beginning to gather up the books he plans on issuing.

Gabriel pushes himself up and deep into Sam's personal space. Sam stops talking, trying not to stare where he knows he shouldn't. Gabriel smirks and leans in further. "Kiss me, Sam," he says, smirk widening, growing exponentially more wicked. "You know you want to."

Sam rolls his eyes. "Oh yeah, because that's," he begins. Gabriel's mouth puts a stop to whatever he meant to stay, firm and warm against his own. Gabriel keeps it chaste, a simple press of mouths, until Sam breathes out and lets him in. Gabriel surges forward, pushes a hand into his hair, tugging him in closer, deepening the kiss. Sam moans softly. Gabriel tastes really good, like candy and something else, something that makes Sam's mouth tingle and Sam himself want more. He grasps at Gabriel's waist, pulling him into his lap. Gabriel makes himself comfortable and they kiss for what feels like forever until they're interrupted by a loud click and then the sound of Bobby cocking his shotgun.

Gabriel pulls away. "Let's get out of here," he says, grinning when Sam nods and gathers his books up. He takes them to the issues desk where Bobby grumbles at him and calls him an idjit under his breath. Gabriel waits for him outside and grabs his hand as soon as he emerges, tugging him in some random direction which turns out to be toward one of the cafes Gabriel works at.

He pushes Sam into one of the chairs near the counter and leaves him there. Sam just sits there, head spinning and wondering, when he has the strength to think at all, what the hell he's doing. Even Castiel's not worth this. He pauses. Fuck that, Castiel's worth everything.

He eventually pulls the books out and starts researching again (thankfully all the books are relevant to the case and not about the mating cycles of insects). Gabriel comes back from wherever he disappeared to, all waitered up and ready to get to work. He grins at Sam and brings him a caramel macchiato, Sam's favourite, and sometimes he has to really remind himself that Gabriel does know everything and learn not to be surprised when Gabriel knows these things about him.

Gabriel leans over him and kisses his earlobe, one hand palming Sam's shoulder. Sam tries not to push him away. "Act natural, Sammy boy," he says quietly. When Sam turns his head, he finds him grinning. "People might think you don't like me."

"Well, I don't," Sam mutters, trying not to think about how he'd been kissing a person he professes to hate not ten minutes ago.

"Oh, sweetheart, you are too cute," Gabriel says before leaning in to kiss his cheek. This time, Sam manages not to look too uncomfortable although he has no idea if he succeeds very well or just well enough. When he leaves, Sam tries not to sigh too loudly in relief before turning back to the comfort of research.

He becomes aware that people are staring at him when he's half way through the fourth book. Gabriel has been by a few times, to give him a new drink or bring him food, mostly sweet things. He always, without fail, makes an attempt to kiss Sam or pet his hair, and whenever Sam looks over at him (which is not often, really), Gabriel always winks and makes a face that has Sam hiding a laugh in his caramel macchiato. So, okay, maybe there are a few reasons for people to be staring since everyone knows that, while Gabriel's reputation as a slut is iron clad, he has never laid a finger on a Winchester (well, okay, except for that one night stand he'd had with John and Mary, which they would never talk about, ever, or that fumble in the dark he had with Dean when he was a senior and Dean was a freshman – but nothing that's public knowledge).

"I hate you," Sam tells him the next time he wanders over with yet another chocolate fudge slice he thinks Sam should try. Gabriel smirks and leans in for a kiss and Sam's so used to it now that he just lets him, trying desperately to ignore the way the whispers increase in volume at the sight.

"It hurts me right here," Gabriel says, thumping his chest, "when you say such hurtful things." Sam rolls his eyes and kisses him because he's found that Gabriel tends to shut up when he has something in his mouth. Sam doesn't really want to think about what else he might want to put in that sinful mouth, that feels so fucking good against his because that would lead to bad, naughty places. When Gabriel licks his way in, one hand at the nape of Sam's neck to pull him closer, Sam doesn't protest because he's also found that kissing Gabriel leaves his mind wonderfully blank.

Gabriel pulls away, presses their foreheads together and just breathes. "Now tell me you hate me," he murmurs.

Sam shakes his head, licks his lips slowly. He notices how Gabriel zeroes in on that and smiles. "Fuck you," he says. "I still hate you."

That surprises a laugh out of Gabriel and he leans to press a soft kiss to Sam's mouth. "You really are too cute," he says, grinning. He gestures at the chocolate fudge slice. "Now, eat up."

He leaves Sam to it, wandering back behind the counter to take someone's order as his fellow waiters and waitresses stare at him, mouths wide open, all looking extremely shocked at the events unfolding in front of them. A customer – some stranger just passing through – complains to the manager and Zach (or Zachariah as he likes to be called, although that's so much of a mouthful that everyone just shortens it to Zach, despite his many protestations) takes Gabriel aside and attempts to give him a stern lecture about fraternising with the customers, even though he knows it won't work. Gabriel just grins and promises he'll be a good boy, winking at Sam and pulling a face once Zach's back is turned.

Sam snorts up the rest of his caramel macchiato trying to cover up his laughter, because that face Gabriel pulled looked a hell of a lot like Zach. Gabriel grins at him before moving back behind the counter.

Sam shakes his head and tries to return to his research but that turns out to be a lost cause when Pamela and Bela ambush him and attempt to get the whole story out of him. Pamela Barnes is the local newspaper's gossip columnist and resident psychic; Bela Talbot is her protégée and a former pickpocket (well, former in that she's trying to quit). No one can spread rumours like those two. Sam stammers out a rather hackneyed version of how he and Gabriel got together, how they'd kept it a secret from the town, and it's so obviously bullshit that he's surprised when Pamela asks, "Don't you mind that he sleeps around on you?"

Sam scrambles for some kind of answer. "No," he says eventually. "Actually it's kind of refreshing." And where the hell is this coming from, because if they really were dating, it so wouldn't be. Sam's always been a monogamous relationship kind of guy and he expects the same from whoever he dates.

"Really," Bela says and she and Pamela exchange a glance. Sam swallows nervously. They obviously don't believe him. He's blown it already. Fuck. Where the hell is Gabriel?

He's about to surreptitiously scan the room for him because he's not at the counter when Pamela leans forward and says, eyes twinkling, "You know, if there's anyone who can make an honest man out of Gabriel, it'll be you." Under the table she gropes his knee, although Sam realises she probably means it to be comforting rather than a come on. Or both, knowing her.

Sam gives her a weak smile and moves his knee out of the range of her hand. "Uh, I don't think that's going to happen," he tells them because, yeah, it totally isn't.

They just smile at him, like he's missed something important. "Oh, Sam," Pamela says, shaking her head. "I haven't seen him give such public displays of affection since – when was it, Bela?"

"Never?" Bela supplies.

Pamela shakes her head. "No, no, I've known him to when he's in those – what does he call them, Bela?"

"Brief flings," Bela says.

"That's right, brief flings," Pamela says. She smiles at Sam and takes his hand. "If he's going to settle down with anyone, it'll be you," she says, squeezing his hand once before letting it go. She and Bela move away, leaving Sam dazed and not really sure what just happened, if he imagined Pamela Barnes, second only to Gabriel in her knowledge of everything, giving him her seal of approval. He can hear them discussing it, no attempts to lower their voices, the way Bela says, "Didn't I say? Didn't I see this coming?" and how Pamela throws her head back, laughs and says, "That'll be a first for you." Bela's glare is rather priceless when Sam looks up and sees it.

Sam buries his head in his hands. He is so screwed. This will get back to Castiel some way or another – which is what they want, of course – and it'll be just his luck that Castiel won't give a damn, will just go on as though nothing is different. When he thinks to check his wallet, he finds that Bela has made off with all of his cash. Fuck his life.

When Gabriel gets off work, he drags Sam to the local cinema where a bored Anna sells them two tickets to the live action adaption of Raphael's second novel, More for Wizards. Anna narrows her eyes at them the way she does whenever she sees Sam, eyes their joined hands with suspicion. "So, you two," she says, holding the tickets in a tight grip. Gabriel attempts to wrestle them from her but she's stronger than she looks. "You're together?"

"Yes, Anna," Gabriel says, giving up on trying to take the tickets by force. "We are. Now, stop being a brat and give me the tickets." He holds his hand out and gestures that she give them to him, tout suite.

Anna stares at them for a moment, her gaze flicking from one to the other. Sam shuffles his feet, attempts to shuffle away without drawing too much attention to himself, but Gabriel grips his hand and holds on tight, squeezing his fingers in what is obviously meant to a reassuring gesture. The suspicion slowly leaves her eyes, replaced by confusion. "This makes no sense," she says.

Gabriel rolls his eyes and takes the tickets from her suddenly lax grip. "I'll explain it all later, sis," he throws over his shoulder as he drags Sam into the theatre.

Gabriel buys them two large buckets of popcorn and a few candy bars as though watching a movie in the dark for two hours or so is going to starve them to death if they don't bring food in with them. They take their seats in a mostly empty theatre – there's a couple making out in the back and that's pretty much it in the way of patrons. The movie starts and Gabriel proceeds to have what looks like an emotional breakdown – he laughs, he cries, he yells at the screen whenever the characters are too stupid for their own goo. He eats handful after handful of popcorn, shoving each into his mouth and talking as he chews. He tells Sam sarcastic asides, whispering in his ear, mouth close and breath so hot. Sam slowly slides all the way down into his seat, face bright red even though no one except the couple are there to see this (and they seem pretty amused) until Gabriel actually has to bend down to whisper in his ear.

Sam realises he hasn't been paying attention to the movie at all as the credits begin to roll. He groans and straightens up, shaking stray pieces of popcorn (and he didn't even eat any) off his legs and onto the floor. Gabriel takes the opportunity to crawl into his lap and kiss him enthusiastically. Part of him really wants to push Gabriel on his ass and call this whole thing off because he's never been so embarrassed in his entire life, but then Gabriel does something with his tongue and Sam's mind goes blissfully blank.

He can vaguely hear the guy at the back wolf whistle and the tap tap tap of his girlfriend on her cell phone, but he can't be bothered recognising the girl is Jo, tap tap tapping her message out to Anna, Pamela, Bela, Grandma Pearl and anyone else who's interested (which is pretty much the whole town). He shouldn't be surprised that Anna stares at them open-mouthed as they leave or that later, when they're half way down the street and Gabriel's wheedling him into going out to dinner with him, she'll confer with Jo and they'll hug and kiss the guy, Ash, who managed to snap a photo or two while they were sufficiently distracted.

Sam argues with Gabriel all the way to the restaurant, as the waiter takes them to a free table and even as Gabriel consults the menu. He doesn't realise they're even at the restaurant until the waiter returns and asks them if they're ready to order. When he does and the waiter gives them both expectant looks as he clutches at his notepad, he stares dumbly at the menu in front of him. Gabriel pulls it away and hands both menus to the waiter. He grins at Sam, wide and unnervingly Cheshire cat like, before proceeding to order two dishes that sound scrumptious and oddly close to what Sam would have ordered if he hadn't been so distracted, plus two salads and a stick of garlic bread.

The waiter leaves. Sam stares across the table at Gabriel. "You can't still be hungry," he says, disbelief so thick it threatens to choke him.

"The first thing you have to learn about me, Sam," Gabriel says as he gazes around the restaurant, taking in the sights and sounds and smells, "is that I have a bottomless pit for a stomach and it is never satisfied." He turns to Sam with a grin. "Good thing I know so many good cooks, huh?"

Sam shakes his head, still unable to believe it. He's kind of full from all the sweet things Gabriel plied him with at the cafe. He can't see himself putting away a main dish, a salad and some garlic bread as well. It smacks of the impossible.

Gabriel smooths the tablecloth in front of him. "Did you enjoy the movie?" he asks.

Sam remains silent for a long time, enough that Gabriel begins to fidget and play with the edge of the tablecloth, picking at the occasional loose thread and making it worse. It's almost like he's nervous or something. Eventually Sam leans forward, gesturing for Gabriel to do the same. When he does, Sam asks, "Are you always like that when you're watching a movie or was that some kind of attempt to bundle all your weirdness into one time?"

Gabriel leans back in his chair and crosses one ankle over the other under the table. "Nah, I'm always like that," he says with a grin. He raises one shoulder in a half shrug.

Sam wrinkles his nose. "You are so weird," he says. There's a thread of amusement under the words that makes Gabriel's grin widen and become slightly less fake looking. Gabriel leans over and flicks him on the nose, laughing at the disgruntled face Sam pulls.

"Oh, I forgot," Gabriel says, "You like weird, don't you?" He smirks and Sam can't really leave it at that, can't let him get the last word in. He stands and leans over the table, pressing his mouth over Gabriel's and grinning at the shaky sigh Gabriel makes as he deepens the kiss.

Someone nearby clears their throat and Sam bangs his knee on the underside of the table, he moves away so fast. They both look up to see a different waiter with the stick of garlic bread and two small plates. Sam feels his face turn red, and of course when he looks over at Gabriel, all he's doing is smirking like he's just gone and done something awesomely dirty in public, which really doesn't help.

The rest of the meal is surprisingly low key after this. Gabriel gets him talking about his latest cases and Sam ends up telling him about Mr Doherty and the giraffe, which segues into a discussion about zoo animals, the mating cycles of insects and that incident with the rhinoceros and Heat of the Moment which is somehow more amusing now when Gabriel tells it, with Sam interjecting bitingly sarcastic retorts because he's still sore about it, than it was at the time.

Sam actually manages to eat most of what Gabriel ordered, and what he doesn't he pushes across the table toward Gabriel, who always grins and bangs his fork and knife on the table when he does so. Over dessert, they mostly discuss the food itself – Gabriel ordered himself a dish of apple crumble with whipped cream and he made Sam order tiramisu which he insists on sneaking forkfuls of every chance he gets. Sam doesn't really mind since he's pretty much stuffed and only manages to take a few bites of his dessert before he gives up and slides the plate over to Gabriel.

He watches Gabriel eat, moaning like he's the star of one of those pornos Dean's always downloading onto Sam's laptop. Gabriel must realise he's being watched because he looks up and leers at Sam, which is not attractive at all since he's still chewing a mouthful of apple crumble. Sam laughs. It's the most amusing sight he's seen today.

He insists on the walk to his apartment that Gabriel does not need to walk him home since he can bloody well take care of himself, thank you very much (not that anything particularly bad happens here). Gabriel simply ignores him, gripping his hand and talking a mile a minute about what they're going to do tomorrow, raising his voice whenever Sam attempts to complain. Sam laughs a lot on that walk home.

He's so fully convinced himself that it had been a real, live, actual date that when he enters the apartment and sees Dean standing there, it's like someone's punched him in the gut, all the air gets knocked out of him in one foul swoop. "Sam," Dean says and throws a newspaper at him. "I can't believe it."

Sam manages to catch the rolled up newspaper even as his heart plummets all the way to his feet. Had Pamela managed to print her gossip column for the week earlier than she usually does? He has no idea why he's so nervous about this since it's what he and Gabriel had planned on happening. Still, his hands are shaking as he slowly unrolls the newspaper.

"Page six," Dean says. Sam frowns because Pamela's column isn't on page six (it's on page four). "I can't believe it," he repeats, shaking his head, as Sam flicks to page six and freezes as he reads the first article. Dean shakes his head. "Bears walking into people's home and stealing food. Like something out of a fairy tale."

Sam glares at him. "Jerk," he says, throwing the newspaper at him.

Dean laughs and laughs. "Ha, bitch," he says, gasping for breath. He doesn't even attempt to control himself. Sam's horrified to realise there are actual tears in his eyes. "You should have seen your face," he gasps, pressing a hand to the nearest wall to keep himself upright. "Priceless!"

Sam strides past him, hopefully exuding a sullen force field that repels horrible people like Dean and that doesn't make him look too silly. Dean trails after him, the occasional giggle escaping him. "Seriously, man," he says once he's finally managed to get himself under control. "Gabriel? Why him?' He gives Sam a mildly reproving look. "You're not going through one of those rebellious phases again, are you? You know how much money it took to get you through the last one. Stanford isn't cheap."

Sam picks up a cushion and throws it at him. Dean manages to catch it before it hits him in the face. "Ha!" he says, smug, which is when the next cushion hits him square on the nose before dropping to the floor.

"Ha yourself," Sam mutters.

"Oh god, Sam," Dean whispers, looking shocked and somewhat horrified. "You actually like him." He grins when Sam goes bright red and turns away, mumbling, "No, I don't."

"You do," Dean insists and laughs. This time, he doesn't stop.

Sam retreats to his bedroom for some peace and quiet. He doesn't emerge until he's sure Dean's asleep or out. He's sadly mistaken, again. Dean's sitting on the couch, beer in one hand, watching reruns of Dr Sexy M.D. He turns at the sound of the door opening, grins when Sam glares at him and gestures him over. Sam grudgingly takes a seat next to him and they both watch Dr. Ellen Piccolo be her sexy yet neurotic self while her mother visits Seattle Mercy Hospital.

Dean clears his throat. "So, uh, you remember that Crowley guy?" Sam turns to stare at him, surprised, because is Dean actually going to share feelings? Dean never does that – the only times he's come even remotely close is when he mutters that he and so and so are going steady (oh, and that time he mentally kicked the shit of Sam for doing anything Ruby told him to do). Other than that, nope, nada, nothing.

"Yeah," Sam says. "I'm pretty sure my memory's not bad enough that I've started forgetting people I met this week."

"Right," Dean says but mostly as a way to fill the silence rather than an answer to Sam's sarcasm. "And you remember last week when I came home at odd hours, covered in bruises?"

"Yes," Sam says, drawing the word out. He'd actually forgotten that in the wake of all that's happened to him, but now it's the foreground and everything else merely an amusing sort of background. He turns fully to face Dean and he knows by the face Dean pulls that he's got his worried look on. Serves him right. "Dean, what is it?" he asks when Dean remains silent.

"Uh, well, you see," Dean says and then he mumbles something that Sam's obviously heard wrong because he could have sworn Dean had said, "He's teaching me how to box."

Sam blinks. Truthfully, he'd been expecting something else. "...okay," he says eventually as Dean keeps his gaze firmly attached to the TV screen. "And?"

Dean turns on him. "And, Sam? And?" he hisses. "He's the high school principal! He's not supposed to be awesome!" He buries his head in his hands and it's so uncharacteristic that Sam has to laugh.

"At least he's not our old principal," Sam says, grinning. "Now that would be weird."

Dean looks horrified. "Sam," he says. "This is no joking matter."

Sam's grin just gets bigger. "Oh, you like him," he says.

"Don't," Dean stops him.

Sam rolls his eyes. "Oh, so you're allowed to tease me about liking Gabriel but I'm not allowed to do the same to you about your bromance with the high school principal. Yeah, okay."

"Yeah, well, Tony's awesome," Dean says. "And Gabriel's..." He shrugs. "Gabriel." He settles back into the couch as though he's brought the conversation to an end, takes a sip of his beer. "Either take the bitchface away or watch the show, Sam, your pick," he says after five minutes or so of silence.

Sam glares at him some more before giving it up as a lost cause (at least for today) and getting up off the couch. He picks the newspaper up and flicks through it, now that he's calmed down enough to be able to handle the early appearance of the column. Except that it's not there. He frowns.

"Dean," he says, coming back from the kitchen. "How'd you know about Gabriel?"

"What?" Dean says, tearing his attention away from Dr Sexy M.D. Sam repeats the question. "Oh, Pamela told me. Said she thought I should know. Then Jo sent me a text saying she'd seen you two at the theatre together. And when I went online to check my emails," he adds, Dean-speak for "I downloaded porn onto your laptop" (Sam makes a note to do a virus scan on his laptop later, "Zach had sent me a long rambling one about how I should learn to control you better in public before you make him lose valuable customers with your blatant fraternisations with one of his staff." Dean takes a sip of his beer. "His words, not mine." He smirks. "Basically, the whole town knows."

Sam groans softly and heads for his room.

"Oh," Dean says. Sam pauses and turns toward him, closing his eyes and attempting to prepare himself. "And Grandma Pearl wants you know she always knew you'd be the one Gabriel would settle down with." He laughs meanly as Sam beats a hasty retreat to his room.

Gabriel drops by Sam's office the next day around noon and drags him out to lunch at a nearby restaurant where he attempts to feed Sam finger food. When Sam bluntly refuses to go along with this horrifying example of coupledom, Gabriel pouts and sulks, generally acting like a big baby until Sam rolls his eyes and shoves a finger sandwich at his mouth. Gabriel manages to open his mouth before it hits him in the face but a lot of it still gets around the outside of his mouth. He smacks his lips anyway and moves over to Sam's side of the booth, presses against him and gropes his thigh.

Sam realises he's actually enjoying himself when he laughs at the punch line of Gabriel's joke involving a cat, a woman and St. Peter. Gabriel looks inordinately pleased with himself and attempts another grope. Sam just rolls his eyes – one day they'll roll their way out of his head, the way things are going – and lets him.

It's only after Gabriel kisses him goodbye outside the office and leaves him to stave off the inquiring and amused gazes of his co-workers that he realises he hasn't thought about Castiel once today. It only occurs to him because he walks into his office and finds Castiel sitting in the chair in front of his desk. He stands as Sam enters, wearing the only trench coat he appears to own, even though it's pretty hot weather out there and he definitely doesn't need it. Sam's always privately liked it.

"Castiel," he says, stammering over his name a tiny bit in his surprise.

"Sam," Castiel says in greeting. "I was here to ask you out to lunch. Your assistant said I could wait in here." He glances at his watch, a Goofy one Sam had given him for his birthday once, and sighs. "It appears we have no time, though. Perhaps tomorrow?"

Sam runs a hand through his hair and gives a jerky nod. He breathes out, once, and tries to calm himself. Fuck, he wishes Gabriel were here; he'd know how to handle this. "Uh, Castiel," he says. He swallows nervously.

Castiel stares at him, before slowly inclining his head in a silent question.

"Have you heard...I mean, I know you don't listen to gossip," Sam backtracks, "but has anyone told you about..." He trails off, winces. Why is he having such trouble saying this? This whole plan is for the express purpose of making Castiel jealous and there'll be no point in it, he'll have done all he has for nothing, if he can't tell Castiel what he has to in order for the plan to succeed.

"I have not spoken to anyone except you, my students and the new principal, Mr Crowley," Castiel tells him. "Unless you are speaking of Mr. Crowley informing me of the necessary budget cuts he has had to implement recently, which I highly doubt, I am unsure of what you think people have told me about. Is it anything important?"

Sam's shoulders slump. Castiel doesn't know. He should tell him, of course, but maybe he could wait until the party tomorrow afternoon, let actual physical evidence speak for itself. Yeah, that sounds good (fuck, he's such a coward). "No, nothing important," he says eventually, attempting a smile. "And lunch tomorrow sounds great. We can go over any last minute plans for Gabriel's party."

Castiel nods. "That sounds agreeable," he says. "I will see you tomorrow then, Sam. Shall we meet at the Lion's Den at half twelve?"

Sam agrees to that and sees Castiel off. When he gets back to his office, he shuts the door behind him and sags against it, heaves a sigh of relief mingled with a tint of disappointment. If Castiel only listened to gossip, if he had friends who'd tell him things he didn't hear, things might have been different. Then again, Sam realises, he's the one who usually tells Castiel all the gossip, even though Castiel has told him that it isn't necessary for him to do so.

Later that night, Gabriel comes over to take Sam out without asking Sam whether he wants to or not. He shouts a hello to Dean, who shouts one back at him – with the addition of a threat on Gabriel's life if he doesn't take good care of Sam – from the bathroom where he's preparing for his date-that's-not-a-date-even-though-it-is with Crowley. Gabriel drags Sam to a nightclub all the way across town, where the music is loud, pounds its way into his head and doesn't feel like leaving, and the drinks are sweet and fruity, although that's mostly because Gabriel orders them. Sam drinks them and doesn't complain when Gabriel pulls him close and kisses him, relishes the feeling of his mind going utterly, perfectly blank as Britney sings about some guy being heaven on earth in the background.

He has vague recollections of vodka shots with Pamela and Jo, of Ash grinning and snapping pictures of them, of Gabriel pestering the DJ until he played Circus so he could embarrass Sam by showing everyone how terrible a dancer he was. And then there's only the sense that he and Gabriel stumbled back to Gabriel's apartment, Gabriel giggling most of the way with Sam joining in every so often, he has no clear idea why. He knows for fact that they took their clothes off at some point because when he wakes up, he's naked and Gabriel's draped over him, equally naked.

Oh, well, not entirely naked. Sam's still wearing one of his socks.

"Gabriel," he hisses once he's overcome the initial panic attack. He doesn't feel sore, except in the ordinary hung over kind of way, so at least they didn't have sex. Or, well...shit. He shakes Gabriel hard, continues to say his name, louder every time.

Gabriel eventually lifts his head from where it's resting against Sam's chest. He gives Sam a soft smile, no smirk or sarcasm or biting wit in sight, and Sam feels like he's been hit over the head with a baseball bat. Twice. Oh.

"Hey," Gabriel says, resting his chin on his hands and staring up at Sam. He's still smiling. Sam wonders, perhaps slightly hysterically, if he knows he's doing it.

"Hey," Sam replies, returns the smile.

Gabriel presses a kiss to Sam's chest before rolling off him and stretching. Sam tries not to stare but it's difficult. He wants to touch and grab and have. "Uh, Gabriel," he says, to distract himself from this increasing desire. Gabriel turns his head to look at him and he's still smiling. Sam wishes he'd stop; it makes it very hard to remember what he means to say. "Did we, uh, did we have sex last night?"

Gabriel closes his eyes and stretches, longer this time. He makes this contented noise in the back of his throat. "No," he says eventually. Sam tries not to be disappointed at this. He fails. When Gabriel opens his eyes, the grin has returned, that soft smile gone. He gives Sam a comforting pat on the arm. "Don't worry about insulting me, Sam, I know how much that relieves you."

Sam's basically caressing him with his eyes, he knows how obvious he's being, and yet Gabriel never notices, just glances over at the bedside clock and groans. "What?" Sam asks, tearing his gaze away and up to Gabriel's face, which is so not a bad thing because Gabriel's hair is messy, sticking up every which way, and when the light hits it, it sort of glows a soft gold, surrounding his face and making him look like an angel, halo and all. It's such a strange look on Gabriel and Sam wants to reach out and touch him, mess his hair up even more, see if he's really real.

"It's twenty past nine," Gabriel mutters, rubbing a hand over his face.

"Fuck," Sam says even though he's never been less worried about being late for work. He remembers the lunch he has planned with Castiel but even that doesn't make him want to move, which tells him more than everything else has. He turns to look at Gabriel, who's turned on his side and propped himself up on one elbow, just staring at him. Gabriel grins when their eyes meet. "Wanna play hooky?" he asks, smirking. He wriggles his hips suggestively. He obviously expects Sam to turn him down.

Sam turns on his side and leans forward. He kisses Gabriel softly, waiting for his mouth to move from its initial surprised slackness before he deepens it. There's the requisite morning breath and the taste could definitely be improved upon but, fuck, is it awesome. When he breaks the kiss, he says softly against Gabriel's mouth, "If it includes breakfast, sure."

Gabriel gives him this hard, searching look as though he's trying to figure Sam out. His mouth is kiss swollen, red, and Sam wants to make it worse, kiss him again and harder, deeper, just more. "I guess I'll go make breakfast," Gabriel says eventually, slowly, as though unsure if that's really what he should be doing. He sits up and pulls on the nearest pair of pants, which turn out to be Sam's. He shrugs and zips them up before making his way into the kitchen.

Sam watches him go and then slumps down into the mattress. "What the fuck are you doing, you idiot," he mutters to himself.

Gabriel pokes his head through the door way. "How do you like your eggs?" he asks.

Sam shrugs. "Doesn't matter," he says even though usually it does. Also, he kind of wants to see if Gabriel really does know everything.

Gabriel stares at him for longer than is really necessary. That searching look returns and Sam squirms under the scrutiny. Then Gabriel grins as though that's exactly what he wanted to happen and turns back to deal with breakfast. After awhile the smell of eggs cooking drifts out of the kitchen and Sam breathes it in, sinking back into the mattress. He's never been here before and it's not exactly as he'd pictured it, the few times he bothered to think about Gabriel at all. It's nice, and surprisingly clean. There are a few clothes strewn over the place but Sam thinks they're probably from last night. He stares at a shirt that's been thrown over a lamp shade in the corner for five minutes before he realises it's his and that a lot of the buttons are missing.

Gabriel comes in with two plates of scrambled eggs as Sam's examining the framed pictures on the large dresser drawers opposite him. There are a lot of them, mostly of people pulling silly faces or looking pissed off that Gabriel managed to snap the picture at a particularly inopportune moment. There's one of Castiel, looking as though he's just got out of bed, hair like a bird's nest and face scrunched into that disapproving expression Sam knows so well.

Sam stares at his scrambled eggs and then over at Gabriel, sitting cross legged on the other side of the bed, plate propped on his knees. Maybe he doesn't know everything. Sam tries to muster up some disappointment at this. He fails, and it's odd and kind of surprising.

Gabriel makes a face as though he knows what Sam's thinking. "I know you like your eggs sunny side up," he says, "but I'm a terrible cook and there came a time when I just had to say fuck it and make scrambled eggs." He points a fork at Sam. "Try them and tell me they're not the most awesome scrambled eggs you've ever tasted."

Sam raises an eyebrow but does as he's told. "Gabriel," he breathes because, yeah, they're so awesome.

Gabriel beams at him. He then attempts to look serious and says sternly, jabbing his fork at Sam to illustrate how serious he is, "Now, you eat them all up, Sam Winchester. I put my heart and soul into them so you better."

Sam laughs and puts his plate down on the bedside table. Gabriel's face actually falls and he looks so disappointed for a moment that Sam laughs again, softly, as he reaches over and pulls Gabriel into their second kiss of the morning. When he pulls away, Gabriel looks the most surprised Sam has ever seen him. He would even go so far as to describe it as shock.

Sam shakes his head and turns back to his scrambled eggs. When he next looks over at him, Gabriel's giving him that hard, searching look again, his scrambled eggs left untouched. Sam offers him a small smile and Gabriel blinks, realises he's been caught staring and attempts to deflect any questions by returning the smile with a wide grin.

Sam taps his fork on the edge of Gabriel's plate. "Not hungry?" he asks, injecting as much skepticism into his voice as is physically possible.

Gabriel snorts. "I'm always hungry," he announces to the room at large, giving Sam the stern eyeball when Sam stifles the burst of laughter that tries to escape at that statement. Gabriel attacks his scrambled eggs with gusto to prove his point and smirks triumphantly at Sam when he manages to polish them off in three minutes flat.

Sam just rolls his eyes and laughs. "You're so weird," he says fondly and, before he realises what he's doing, reaches over and ruffles Gabriel's hair, breath catching in his throat at the feel of it under his hands, in between his fingers. Gabriel pushes his hand away immediately.

He points the fork at Sam. "No one ruffles my hair but me," he says, frowning.

Sam can't help the laugh that escapes him at that. The image is too cute, like he purposely ruffles his hair every morning to make it look as it normally does, which is just too hilarious to think about without laughing. "You ruffle your own hair?" he asks before falling on his side and laughing helplessly at the image that conjures.

Gabriel shakes his head and mutters something under his breath. He looks down at Sam, lying before him and laughing himself silly, and there's a look in his eyes that Sam can't quite place. It makes him pause, examine, want. Gabriel notices his sudden fall into silence and there's that grin again. "Have anything planned today that you simply can't miss?" he asks.

Sam hesitates. "Well, I have a lunch with Castiel at half past twelve," he says.

Gabriel smirks. "Oh, well, you can't miss that," he says and winks at him. There's even a hint of a leer in there and Sam can't help but smile up at him.

Gabriel stretches out next to him. "But until then," he says, drawing the words out as slowly as he can, "what should we do?"

They end up getting Gabriel's laptop out and surfing the internet, browsing through several YouTube videos and laughing until their sides ache. Gabriel keeps referring to this certain video and he hypes it up enough that Sam can't wait to watch it, except that it turns out to have been deleted and Sam passes an amusing half an hour watching Gabriel rage at the YouTube moderators and shake his fist at the ceiling as though they're the Powers That Be or gods that live in the sky. Eventually they accidentally click on a link that leads them to TV Tropes where they spend almost two hours clicking on various links and generally getting lost in the site while Gabriel insists on playing Britney loud enough that his neighbours bang on the wall and shout for him to turn it the fuck down. Eventually Gabriel glances at the bedside clock and points out the time to Sam.

"So I guess I'll see you later," Gabriel says as he shows Sam the door. Sam's now fully dressed, although that took longer than was necessary. Sam eventually had to drag his pants off Gabriel and it was, oddly enough, not as awkward an experience as he would have expected, mostly because Gabriel kept pulling faces and laughing at him. The same can't be said for Gabriel, who's still mostly naked, save for a pair of boxers he managed to scrounge up, which has a huge hole in the back that Sam has the uncomfortable feeling he put there last night. Gabriel takes great pleasure in winking at one of his neighbours, an old woman in a pink dressing gown who gasps at his audacity and disappears back into her apartment.

"Yeah," Sam says, grinning like an idiot, and leans down to kiss him. Gabriel cups his check and kisses him back. It's several minutes before they part and by that time Sam only has fifteen minutes to make it to the Lion's Den.

He doesn't see Castiel there as he heads toward their regular table. He gets a text just as he's sitting down and, as he opens it, he half expects it to be from Castiel, even though Castiel barely knows how to use the cell phone to make calls, let alone send texts. It's not. It's from Gabriel and it says: fuck forgot to ask where/when we should meet. Sam smiles and sends a reply with a time and place. Gabriel sends back a grinning emoticon and why this makes Sam laugh under his breath, he doesn't know.

"Sam," Castiel says and Sam looks up, still smiling. Castiel sits down across from him and folds his hands on the table in front of him. "I am sorry I'm late," he says after a beat of silence.

Sam keeps the smile on. It doesn't appear to want to go away anyway. "Don't worry, I was almost late too," he says and Castiel relaxes as though he's done his part, been polite, and now they can get down to business.

And this is what they do, sorting out the few loose ends – whether Luke will get there in time (he will, he's about an hour and a half away the last Castiel checked); whether Raphael is bringing a plus one or not (he is); what gift they themselves have managed to buy for Gabriel (they both pitched in to buy him a watch, Castiel's idea) - before they head over to the Novaks to set up. They stop by Castiel's to pick up the chocolate cake and the scones, plus the whipped cream Castiel made last night.

Michael is rushing around the place, from kitchen to backyard, wondering if they should put the food out now or if they should wait. He and Castiel confer quietly as Sam goes out into the backyard to set up the tables. He says hello to his mom, his numerous aunts, Mrs Novak, Mrs Harvelle and Grandma Pearl who are all waiting for other people to do the work. Well, some of them actually set up a few seats around the garden, and two of his aunts are discussing how to set up the barbeque with Bobby, while Aunt Rose and Mrs Novak talk loudly about certain plants, Mrs Novak gesturing wildly whenever she gets excited about something.

Grandma Pearl orders Sam about while his mom, aunts and Mrs Harvelle watch with barely concealed grins. He doesn't really mind, despite the occasional complaint and moan about them not helping. She pats the chair next to her once he's done and he slumps in it, closing his eyes and showing his face to the sun. Grandma Pearl pats his knee and says, "Good boy," as though he's a dog. When he opens his eyes and turns his head slightly to look at her, the look on her face seems to imply that she means more than she's saying with the phrase.

Sam wants to ask what that look's supposed to mean but then Dean arrives, towing a Mr Crowley who looks sullen and not at all agreeable to this meeting the parents deal behind him. Sam just grins and shares a knowing look with Grandma Pearl as Mom approaches them and shakes Mr Crowley's hand. She says something that Sam doesn't catch but it surprises a laugh out of Mr Crowley. Dean relaxes at the sound and then immediately tenses back up when Mom takes Mr Crowley by the arm for a stroll around the garden.

Dean eyes them suspiciously and trails behind them for a while before they both turn and give him almost identical raised eyebrows. Dean pretends he wasn't following them and wanders over to Sam. "Hey, Sammy," he says, shoving his hands into his pockets, attempting to look like he's not paying attention to the conversation his mother and maybe-sort-of-new-boyfriend are having without him.

Sam rolls his eyes at the nickname. Dean's ignored him whenever he tells him to stop calling him that enough times that he's just given up asking. "Hey, Dean." He smirks. "I see you brought your new boyfriend." He can feel Grandma Pearl's curious gaze swing from one of them to the other as they speak.

"Don't start," Dean says. "Or I won't be responsible for what comes out of my mouth like, oh say, how you didn't come home last night after your date with Gabriel." Sam can instantly feel Grandma Pearl's curious gaze sharpen, can feel the eyes of their many aunts turn toward them.

"Dean," he grits out. Dean gives him a shit-eating grin and starts up a conversation with Grandma Pearl about the new necklace she's wearing (not that he's really interested in women's jewellery; he obviously just needs some way to distract himself from the way his mother and his sort-of-maybe-boyfriend have their heads bent close together). Sam listens to the conversation before he realises he's zoning out. He glances at his watch and gets to his feet when he sees how close the time is to when he'd said he'd meet Gabriel.

He stands and everyone immediately zeroes in on him. He clears his throat. "I'm just gonna," he says and he points toward the garden gate. "Right," he adds and makes a beeline for it before anyone thinks to ask what he is "just gonna" do. He sighs with relief when no one follows him even though he knows on some level everyone knows where he's going. He sees Castiel at the front door, heading off in the opposite direction, probably to pick up Jo. He waves and, after a moment, Castiel gives an awkward wave in return, a simple rising of the hand, before he turns and walks down the street.

Sam's late to their meeting place and at first he thinks Gabriel is too, until he's turned half around in a circle and spots him coming down the stone steps of the high school, taking them two at a time. Sam grins as he gets closer, takes long strides in order to shorten the distance, and sees Gabriel return his grin with one of his own, warm and easy.

"Fancy meeting you here, Sam," Gabriel says, turning his face up to look in the eye.

"Yeah, quite a coincidence," Sam replies. He knows he's grinning like an idiot. "Come here often?"

Gabriel pulls a face. "Oh, you know, every now and then," he says, waving his hand around.

Now they're both grinning at each other like idiots and Sam can't help but lean down and kiss him, still grinning and positively giddy when he feels Gabriel's own grin against his mouth. He takes Gabriel's hand as they break apart and pulls him along, out of the school and on down the street. Gabriel rants about his day at work – really, why had he gone to work on his birthday, of all days? He totally needs a raise, a large one – and when they reach their destination, it seems to occur to him that he's been monopolising the conversation. He pauses before the front door and tugs at Sam's hand.

"Ready?" he asks. Sam nods. He's oddly at ease with everything.

"Sam?" Castiel says from behind him. Sam turns to find him and Jo standing there. Jo seems unfazed but Castiel's face is pulled down into a frown, his brows scrunched together, as he stares at Sam holding Gabriel's hand.

"Hey, bro," Gabriel says easily, tugging at Sam's hand in order to bring him closer. "And Jo," he adds, smirking.

Jo grins and saunters up the pathway. She winks as she passes them to open the door, leaving them to whatever's about to happen. Gabriel squeezes Sam's hand.

Castiel continues to stare at them, inclining his head one way and then the other, as though attempting to check something.

"What's up, bro?" Gabriel asks.

Castiel immediately looks confused at the question and Sam can tell he'd been about to look at the sky before he realises it's just a colloquialism and goes back to staring at them. "I am attempting to see if you are truly holding hands or if your hands are merely very close together," he says eventually, now turning to squinting when the numerous head tilts fail him.

Gabriel grins and holds up their hands, obviously entwined. "Nope, Castiel, we're holding hands. You're not imagining things."

Castiel frowns. "Why?" he asks bluntly.

"Well," Gabriel starts and then he turns to Sam, gives him a hopeful expectant look. "I'll let Sam tell you."

Sam stares down at him, wondering where all his fear and anxiety have gone, and then back at Castiel. "We're dating," he says simply before leaning down and kissing Gabriel as hard and hot and deep as he can. He tastes like mint and that unidentifiable something and Sam's so desperate to find out what exactly that something is that he loses himself in Gabriel's mouth. He gives in and grabs Gabriel's hair, runs rough fingers through it and thoroughly messes it up.

When Sam pulls away, he's breathing heavily, arms wrapped around Gabriel so tightly he doesn't want to let go, ever. Gabriel's face is flushed and his eyes are glazed, mouth slack, red and wet. Sam wants to kiss him again, so he does. Gabriel kisses back like he's truly desperate, a drowning man in need of air he can only get from Sam, like he's making the absolute fucking most of what he can get.

Sam hears the front door opening but could care less about it. He only breaks the kiss when Gabriel does, slowing down until they're only breathing against each other's mouths. Gabriel stares at him, searches his face for something, Sam doesn't know what, and then he smiles, that soft smile from this morning.

When he finally turns away from that gaze, that smile, he's shocked at what he sees. Castiel looks as though a freight train blew in and knocked him off his feet, as though someone's just punched him in the mouth for no clear reason he can see. Sam frowns because it's not a look he's ever seen on Castiel, not ever in all the years he's known him, and Sam is sad enough to have catalogued and secretly named many of Castiel's expressions.

"Castiel," he says, quietly, nervously, and that's when Gabriel slips away and through the door. Sam's frown deepens as he realises his arms are empty, that Gabriel is gone, and he turns toward the front door. That's when he realises his dad, Dean and Mr Crowley, with Grandma Pearl peering over their shoulders, had all witnessed that kiss. Dad's face looks glazed over, as though he's trying desperately to forget everything he'd seen. Grandma Pearl looks oddly sad. She shakes her head when Sam looks at her, turns and walks back into the house.

"Um," Sam says.

Sam's sitting on the two-seater swing near the back of the garden, far away from everyone. Most of them have gone home anyway. Only a few remain, like Luke and Jo who are having enthusiastic sex upstairs in his room, since they haven't seen each other in four months. Sam has no idea where Castiel disappeared to after that whole kiss with Gabriel. Gabriel himself, well, Sam kept catching glimpses of him, laughing and chatting with everyone but every time he'd get close enough, Gabriel would already be gone, off to laugh and chat with the next person to cross his path. Sam had eventually given up and retired to the swing, kicking at the dirt beneath his feet sullenly. Someone is singing along drunkenly to Baby One More Time and Sam will bet it's Uriel. He sighs and kicks the dirt.

Sam has no idea what he wants anymore. At the beginning of this stupid plan, he'd wanted Castiel, freakish, beautiful, strange Castiel. He'd wanted nothing else for years, settled for less in every one of his relationships before this and convinced himself he was happy (and okay, maybe he came the closest to real happiness with Jess, might have even made it if she hadn't died in that fire). And now, well, clearly his body wants Gabriel, enjoys kissing him, holding him, but then again his body had wanted Ruby, and the drugs she gave him, so it's not like his body's very trustworthy.

Gabriel's batshit crazy, so far as Sam can tell. He drags Sam everywhere, doesn't care whether he wants to go or not, and talks almost all of the time, raising his voice whenever Sam attempts to argue with him. And then there are the arguments they actually have, which Gabriel cheats his way into winning. You couldn't take him to a movie without making sure the theatre's well and truly empty. He's a horrible dancer, he likes pink fruity drinks, and Sam's pretty damned sure he doesn't play Britney Spears just to satisfy Uriel. He orders Sam around, doesn't ask what he wants before he orders for him. Not to mention all the emotional trauma he put Sam through during the Frank situation, and all the other horrible and not at all hilarious pranks before and after that.

And that's not even counting the fact that he's a slut who's slept with almost everyone in town and has never been in a monogamous relationship, so it's not like he'll be faithful or, you know, not get bored fast. He's probably used to more adventurous sex than Sam is and what if Sam's not good enough? Anyway, Sam's always hated him, let's not forget that, ever since they met the day after he saw Castiel and thought him an angel, when Gabriel flicked him on the nose and laughed in his face before chasing him around and around the garden. He'd stop running after five or so turns around the garden, finally sick of being chased, and pushed Gabriel into the dirt, cried out when Gabriel had kicked out and tripped him over, still laughing at him. They'd wrestled in the dirt for a long time after that and in the end neither of them won.

Sam forgets that he'd enjoyed himself by the end of that day.

"Hello, Sam," Castiel says quietly.

Sam looks up and then back down at his feet. "Hey, Castiel," he says. He stares at Castiel's feet, which stay where they are for all of a minute before moving forward.

Castiel sits down next to him, stiffly, trying not to move the swing too much.

"Has everyone gone?" Sam asks.

Castiel nods, stares at his hands folded neatly in his lap. "Yes," he says, "I believe they have all relocated to the Lion's Den for the after party. Grandma Pearl went home, however," he adds, "as she was feeling tired."

Sam nods absently, stares up at the clear night sky. He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath to give himself enough time to gather his courage but not enough to panic his way into backing out. He turns and leans over, kissing Castiel softly, a mere press of mouth against mouth, something he's wanted to do for so, so long. A part of him is giddy at the thought that he's Castiel's first kiss but mostly he feels...nothing. Castiel doesn't even kiss back, just waits until he's finished.

"Sam," Castiel says as Sam frowns at the ground, confused, head all muddled. "I was under the impression that you were dating my brother. I find it highly inappropriate that you would 'come on'," and Sam can hear the air quotes around those words, can sense how uncomfortable it makes him to use colloquialisms, "to me at a party held in his honour, celebrating his birth no less."

Sam's gaze immediately rises to look at him, scan his face for disapproval. He's shocked to discover Castiel's attempting to hold back a smile, almost a smirk. "What..." he says. He blinks a few times in case he's imagining it, but no. It's still there, in the quirk of his mouth, the glint of his eye.

Castiel sighs. "Sam," he says, "I have been aware of your feelings for me for quite some time. I had hoped..." He pauses, raises a hand as Sam opens his mouth. Sam frowns. Castiel's known, all this time, and he's never said a word. Fuck. "I had hoped," Castiel repeats, "that, over time, they would fade or that you would find someone far more compatible." He shakes his head. "I am frankly surprised that that someone would turn out to be Gabriel."

"Wait, what?" Sam asks, finally managing to get a word in edgewise only to come up with nothing substantial.

Castiel looks at him as though he's an idiot. It's fond and there's no real heat to it, but still. Sam shifts on the swing and tries not to think like a naughty school boy caught breaking the rules. Sam has a new appreciation for Castiel's students.

"Sam, I have seen you with many people over the years," Castiel says. It's true. Castiel's always been there, approving and disapproving in kind. "Some of them less savoury than others. But I have never seen you kiss them like you did Gabriel."

"It was just a kiss," Sam says weakly. Gabriel probably kisses people like that all the time, he thinks.

"I have never seen you look at a person the way you looked at Gabriel," Castiel elaborates, sounding mildly reproving. He leans back in the swing and it sways back and forth. "Frankly, I've never seen Gabriel look at anyone the way he looked at you. It was surprising, to say the least. I do not pretend to understand much of what my brother does, but I am fairly certain I know him enough to understand a look such as that."

Sam lets out a breath he hadn't known he was holding.

"What I now want to know," Castiel muses and Sam turns to him, curious, "is why you are sitting here sulking when you could be at the Lion's Den with Gabriel."

Sam opens his mouth and then closes it, frowning. "But—"

Castiel shakes his head. "No buts, Sam," he says sternly, the way Sam imagines he talks to his students when they say they can't do their homework. He points in the general direction of the street. "Go."

Sam frowns once more before his face clears like the sun finally breaking through the clouds. "Thanks, Castiel," he says quietly, grinning when Castiel nods and gestures impatiently at him to hurry up.

He's outside the pub before he can think better of it. He can hear the music coming from inside – Britney Spears, how is he not surprised – and the noise of people laughing and dancing along accompanies it. He hesitates at the doors, shakes himself and pushes them open. He steps in and lets them close behind him, feeling himself getting dragged into the crowd almost against his will. He sees Michael at the bar, red faced and laughing with an arm around Ash, who looks like he minds but not enough to push the arm away. Michael waves at Sam as soon as he spots him, shouting to be heard over the music that Sam should totally go and try some of the chocolate cake Castiel made because it's amazing.

Sam shrugs inwardly. It's his best bet: head for the food. It takes fifteen minutes to find the food table, previously the pool table, pushed up against a wall with various dishes spread over it. Gabriel's not there but he's bound to pass by eventually so Sam cuts himself a piece of chocolate cake and waits. He spots Dean off in a corner, sharing a beer with Mr Crowley (and Sam will eventually stop calling him that, maybe). He waves, mostly his plastic fork since his other hand's full, and Dean returns the gesture, smirking. He makes a crude hand gesture and he and Mr Crowley laugh at the face Sam makes. They tap their beers together like it's mission accomplished.

He will not allow Dean to distract him from his mission, he's telling himself as he turns and comes face to face with Gabriel, who looks almost surprised to see him there. Sam blinks, opens his mouth to say something, but by the time he manages to get a word out, Gabriel's disappeared into the crowd again. Sam swears under his breath, realises that if he said it at a normal volume no one would hear him anyway, and does so.

Everytime begins playing and people pair up for a slow dance. Sam closes his eyes, sighs, runs a hand through his hair in frustration.

Why is he here anyway? Gabriel obviously doesn't want to talk to him, and that hurts more than he thinks it should. He's spent a lot of time with Gabriel over the past few days and he's, well, become used to him, to his grins and smiles and smirks, to everything in between. He doesn't like that Gabriel's avoiding him, because that's obviously what he's doing now that he thinks about it and—oh.

He pushes his way through the crowd and out the door, into the cool refreshing night air and there's Gabriel, just staring up at the sky, hands shoved deep in his pockets. Sam approaches slowly, surprised that it was that easy to find him considering he'd only come out here to get a breath of fresh air before taking on the crowd again. Gabriel turns and smiles at him. "Fancy meeting you here," he says.

Sam returns the smile. "Yeah, quite the coincidence," he replies before deciding to go off script. He steps forward. "Gabriel," he begins, trying for earnest and hopefully not failing.

Gabriel steps back. "Where's Castiel?" he asks, and he sounds so carefree, so easy, that Sam falters.

"He's, uh, probably gone home," Sam says. He curls his hands into fists at his side in an attempt to stop himself from grabbing Gabriel and just keeping him, forever.

"Taking it slow then?" Gabriel says nonchalantly, stirring the dust on the ground with one foot. He grins up at Sam. "That is so Castiel," he says. "He's going to drive you crazy, being all virginal and crap. Just so you know, he knows more than he lets on. He's watched his fair share of porn." Gabriel raises his eyebrow suggestively, smirks, everything about him is so fucking suggestive that Sam snaps.

He strides forward and grabs Gabriel before he can slip away. "And what about you?" he says, low, fierce. "Are you going to drive me crazy?"

The music inside the pub chooses that moment to switch to You Drive Me Crazy. It surprises a laugh out of them both and Sam relaxes his grip slightly, but not enough that Gabriel will be able to leave easily.

"What's it matter if I drive you crazy?" Gabriel asks, softly. He's smiling, sure, but it's sad. "Sooner or later, I'll be your brother-in-law and that's what we're supposed to do." He reaches up and grasps Sam's shoulder. "You and Castiel are perfect for each other. I should know, I've been watching you skirt around each other for years." He pushes at Sam gently, but he won't budge. Gabriel's smile slips, almost turns into a frown.

"You idiot," Sam breathes. His hands fist in Gabriel's jacket almost against his will.

Gabriel looks pissed off, which is a new look on him. "Sam," he says, obviously trying to keep his patience intact. "I had fun, really, I did. You're a good kisser and I liked spending time with you. But the plan worked, right? Castiel's lucky to have you." He shakes him, hard. "You don't like me, you like Castiel. Remember?" he asks, as though Sam had forgotten something important. He supposes he deserves that.

Sam shakes his head. "Gabriel, you idiot," he says, quiet, sure of himself.

Gabriel sighs, patience wearing terribly thin, almost liable to snap at the least provocation. "Sam," he grits out, wrenches himself from Sam's grip. Sam lets him, just stands there and watches him. "Sam," Gabriel repeats, softly, less anger in the word this time. "Stop this, you don't want me."

Sam steps forward and Gabriel suddenly looks as though he wants to run away. "Gabriel," Sam says, grabbing him and pulling him so close, until there's no space left between them. He drags Gabriel's head up and away from where it's buried in his chest. He won't meet Sam's eyes. "Gabriel, look at me."

"Fuck you," Gabriel snarls and when they kiss, it's all teeth. Gabriel bites his bottom lip, tugs at it, hard, and Sam makes a noise like it hurts. Gabriel swallows the sound with his mouth, shoves his tongue in and tries to be as brutal as he can be. He kicks out at Sam's legs, rakes blunt fingernails down any skin he can reach, and Sam just takes it all, takes everything he dishes out.

He whimpers as he realises what this means and pushes Sam away as far as he can, which is not far at all because they're still deep in each other's personal spaces, practically breathing each other's air. "How long?" Sam asks and Gabriel shudders. "How long have you wanted this?"

"For a while," Gabriel mutters. "Didn't know for sure until this morning, though."

"Yesterday," Sam says and points to the handy dandy new watch Gabriel had been given for his birthday.

Gabriel rolls his eyes. "Yesterday, then," he says sarcastically, as though it matters.

Sam knows it doesn't. He smiles. "I've waited all my life for you, my favourite kiss, your perfect skin, your perfect smile," he says softly along with the song coming from the pub.

Gabriel frowns. "You didn't just quote Britney at me, did you?" he asks suspiciously, as though he's willing to pretend Sam didn't.

Sam grins at him. "Shut up, she has a song about threesomes. Your argument is invalid." He narrows his eyes. "And I know you encouraged Uriel to like her just so you could have an excuse to play her music really loud."

Gabriel laughs. "Fine, you caught me," he says, throwing up his hands. "So sue me, I have terrible taste in music."

There's a moment of silence between them. Gabriel breaks it. He glares at Sam, and it's so sudden that Sam wonders what he's done wrong now. "I don't sleep around to get over my unrequited crush on you, you know," he says hotly, pokes Sam in the chest, hard.

"Yeah, I know," Sam assures him. "You do it because you like sex."

Gabriel sniffs. "Well, yeah."

Sam grins, leans forward to whisper in his ear. "I like sex too," he says, breath hot against Gabriel's skin. Gabriel shivers.

"Really," he says as though Sam's told him a rather interesting but long winded joke he's still trying to work out the punch line to. Also, who doesn't like sex? "And what does this mean, exactly?"

"It means, you idiot," Sam says, wrapping his arms more securely around Gabriel. "That I'm up for anything you want to try. Anything," he adds, grinning when Gabriel shoves a hand through his hair and ruffles it until it's beyond saving. He looks as though he's wanted to do that for some time.

"Anything," Gabriel muses.

"Anything," Sam agrees.

Gabriel remains silent for a moment. "So, say I wanted to kiss you right now," he says, "what would that mean?"

Sam grins, breathless and happy. "It means I'm up for it."

Gabriel's smile, when it comes, is soft and bright, lights up his eyes. Sam's already thinking about kissing him when Gabriel closes the remaining distance between them and beats him to it. Apparently he keeps his promises.

About five minutes later, Gabriel breaks away and says, "You realise I'm going to take you back to your place and ravish you, right?"

Sam laughs and kisses him, feels Gabriel grin against his mouth. He loves that.

Gabriel's too impatient to wait the whole walk to Sam's apartment and ends up ravishing him against a random wall on the way there. Sam's not complaining, although he'll never look at that wall the same way again when he walks past it on his way to the office.

Gabriel spends much of the time after Sam falls asleep watching him and no, he's not Bridget Jones (for one thing, Colin Firth has nothing on Sam Winchester when he's all naked and sweaty after some mind blowing sex). He's just never actually slept with the people he has sex with. And last night with Sam didn't count because they didn't have sex. He thinks maybe if they had, he wouldn't be where he is now because Sam would have just freaked out on him and accused him of using the plan to get into his pants (which, contrary to what has actually ended up happening, was never the point). Sam had been surprisingly enthusiastic, more so than the ordinary drunk person whose dick had just been groped through their jeans, and Gabriel really had no intention of saying no to him. And if Gabriel hadn't had to scramble for a condom and lube (why, why, had he put off updating his condom drawer, idiot), leaving Sam to finally let the alcohol catch up to him and fall asleep sprawled half across the bed, Gabriel wouldn't be where he is.

Gabriel sighs and turns on his back, stares up at the ceiling. He's never been in Sam's room. He's been in his room at the Winchester family home, however, because he had to get in there to kidnap Frank and, well, he'd taken a look around. But this one? No. It's not like he and Sam were ever friends. It's not all that different from the other one – different pictures of him and Castiel doing things, of course, but basically the same. Gabriel spends a lot of time looking at the closest picture. Sam's laughing and he looks happy, while Castiel just stares at him, a smile hidden in the corner of his mouth.

He turns his head to look at Sam, face planted on the pillow next to him. His mouth's hanging open slightly and there's a damp patch near it where he's drooled. It's not a very attractive picture but Gabriel still wants to have sex with him. He supposes this is a good thing since he doesn't want to get bored of Sam. He really, really doesn't. But it's obviously in the cards since none of his relationships, if they can be called that, have lasted long. The closest he's come was with Pamela, a kindred spirit if ever there was one for him, and that only lasted two months. The last month they'd basically been having sex out of some kind of obligation to each other and Gabriel does not want that to happen with him and Sam.

Sam knows he likes sex but there's only so much sex he can have with one person before it starts to become perfunctory. He tries to see himself in the kind of monogamous relationships Sam is used to but he gets this tight feeling in his chest and, fuck, he is not one of those guys too afraid to commit to the idea of long term fidelity. Really, really not. Anyway, why is he thinking about this? They've only just got together and maybe in a week or two, Sam will realise he's just not worth it, that he really doesn't like him at all, and while Gabriel is all for hate sex normally, he's only up for it if he intensely dislikes a person and can't think of any other way to deal with the frustration. Gabriel has never held an intense dislike for Sam; he's always liked the kid and maybe he went about expressing that badly but, whatever, he's allowed to make a few mistakes. And he'd been terribly fun to mess with.

Gabriel grins at the thought.

Still, perhaps he should make a list of people he and Sam could have threesomes with, spice it up a bit and so on. Just in case. He finds a working pen and some notepad paper in the bedside drawer and begins. Pamela, obviously. She's always been up for threesomes. He taps the pen against the paper, slowly, tap tap tap. Bela, maybe, although they'd have to lock any valuables away (and even then he knows she's extraordinarily talented at picking locks and opening safes). He puts her down anyway, and Ash too, because he's never said no to anything Gabriel has proposed (the rhinoceros was all his idea, and Gabriel suspects he had something to do with the giraffe Sam told him about), especially when it comes to sex. And then there's Dinah and Jackie, who have never complained when he's joined them on some of their more adventurous nights. He highly doubts they'll object to Sam tagging along.

He chews absently on the end of the pen. That can't be all, can it? That'll barely keep his attention for a month. He frowns. There are a few others he can put down, although they'd never be on the top of the list. He jots them down regardless. Maybe if the sex gets especially boring he'll call them. Maybe.

He rereads the list and that's only nine people. Nine. His shoulders slump. He hopes that's enough.

He's about to put the notepad away, before slipping the list into the back pocket of his jeans, when Sam shifts slightly, blinks sleepily and rubs his face with one hand. He smiles over at Gabriel, who's frozen mid grab for the jeans (damn them for being so far away).

"Can't sleep?" Sam asks, voice low and still heavy with sleep. Gabriel nods and Sam gets this tiny frown on his face. He rubs his face again and yawns, giving Gabriel a nice view of the inside of his mouth. "What's the time?" Sam asks, mid yawn. He sits up, leans back against the headboard.

Gabriel glances at the bedside clock. "Twenty past three," he says with some surprise. He crushes the list in his hand, winces when it rustles. When he looks over at Sam, he's not surprised to see Sam look curious, closes his eyes when Sam asks, "What do you have there?" and doesn't fight when Sam takes it from his hand.

He opens his eyes on Sam giving the list a slight frown. "Gabriel, what is this?" he asks. He glances up and there's a wrinkle of confusion on his brow that Gabriel wants to reach up and smooth away. So he does. Sam's frown melts into a smile and he leans in for a kiss. He still tastes faintly of chocolate cake but mostly he tastes like Sam.

Sam grins against his mouth and pulls away. "Gabriel, please tell me this isn't a list of people you want to have threesomes with," he says and Gabriel knows he gives himself away because Sam laughs, even giggles, wipes at his eyes. "Oh, Gabriel," he says. Gabriel would argue against the way Sam says his name, fond exasperation and all, but by the time he's opened his mouth to do so, Sam's kissing him again.

Sam looks at the list afterward, as though actually contemplating it although Gabriel doesn't expect him to take it seriously. He just lies there and watches Sam examine it. Sam eventually puts the list on the bedside drawer and turns on his side to face Gabriel. They stare at each other and Gabriel tries to keep his cool, tries not to act too uncomfortable. He never meant for Sam to see that list, damn him.

If Gabriel expects Sam to speak at all, he expects something along the lines of "You think you'll get bored enough with me that you'll need someone else in the bedroom?" or something like that at least. What he gets is, "If we end up having a threesome with Bela, we're doing it at her place. I'm not letting her near my stuff."

Gabriel freezes. "What?" he says faintly. He sits up and Sam follows along, crosses his legs beneath the duvet.

"I said," Sam begins and he's saying it in that same tone of fond exasperation again, complete with a look this time. It's definitely not attractive. Gabriel suddenly doesn't want to have sex with him, no.

"I know what you said," Gabriel interrupts sharply, and yeah, okay, he might be trying to distract himself from jumping Sam. He pauses as he goes back over what Sam said, stares at him. "Why?" he asks.

"Uh, because she's a total klepto and I like my stuff where it is, thank you," Sam says, rolling his eyes. He moves, sudden, pushes Gabriel onto his back, climbs on top of him and stares down at him. "You remember when I said I'm up for anything?" Sam asks.

Gabriel nods. He hadn't thought Sam was really serious. Gabriel has a lot of kinks, most of which he's tried, some he's only thought about because the idea of them makes most people uncomfortable. He's never met anyone willing to try them all out, which is saying a lot since he's met a lot of people, most of whom he's had sex with.

"Well, I meant anything," Sam says. "And by anything, I mean anything."

"Oh," Gabriel says.

"Yeah," Sam says. He smiles shyly and is about to move away as Gabriel says nothing more. Gabriel stops him with a hand on his arm.

"You realise she'll probably just steal our clothes, right?" Gabriel says. Sam looks momentarily confused but then his face clears and he laughs.

"You have no idea what you're getting yourself into," Gabriel says later. He yawns and pulls one of Sam's arms over him, curls into him.

Sam laughs in his ear, soft and low. "Oh, I think I have a pretty clear idea," he says.

"I fully expect us to have sex on the bar at the Lion's Den," Gabriel says into the dark a few minutes later. "And the pool table."

Sam grins. "Wouldn't Kali call that funny business?" he asks.

"Pfft, I've never listened to a word that woman says," Gabriel says. "And the janitor's closet," he adds over Sam's soft laughter against his skin. "In your office, of course. We have to christen our relationship somehow and what better way than office sex? Then there's the library, right under Bobby's nose and everything. I hope you can be quiet because I don't appreciate being shot at. And of course we have to have sex in public – and I mean really public, where anyone could come across us, not just Bobby or Kali – otherwise what's the point?"

He continues to mumble about the numerous and different locales they can have sex in and ends up falling asleep wrapped up in Sam's arms just as he's had a brilliant upon brilliant plan involving sex in Dean's car. He forgets it when he wakes up the next morning, Sam's face pressed into his shoulder, but it'll come back to him eventually.

When Pamela's column comes out a few days later, there's a large paragraph describing the recent changes in relationship statuses in the town. It includes pictures, given to them by Ash, who professes to be an amateur photographer. Grandma Pearl, who is an avid reader, points to them and announces triumphantly that she saw it coming. Later, she cuts out the article, along with the pictures, and sends it off to Grandma Deanna, with a note that reads, Pay up.