Sam awoke to an empty motel room and a note on his bedside table scratched out in his brother's hurried scrawl.
"Sleeping Beauty, you were knee deep in dreamland so I decided not to wake you. Gone to get breakfast. A haunted church in Ohio could use our attention so start packing when you get up. We'll hit the road after we eat."
Smiling, Sam slips the note into the book he's reading. The past has taught him that you shouldn't toss out things like a handwritten note from your brother, even if the missive dealt with mundane and inconsequential matters. Besides, he needs a bookmark anyway.
There is a long drive ahead so staying in bed isn't an option. Sam is showered, dressed, and in the middle of packing when he hears a knock on the motel room door.
Assuming it's Dean, Sam starts to ramble even before he gets the door fully open, "I hope you got my telepathic message to get me an extra cup of coffee," he says smiling.
But when he opens the door to find Castiel the smile quickly fades.
"I think we should reserve that medium for more important messages," the Angel says plainly.
"That wasn't meant for you," Sam informs him, "And Dean isn't here; he went out to run an errand."
"I actually came to see you, if you're not already pre-occupied."
Sam rolls his eyes unable to contain his annoyance at Castiel's overly formal tone. Celestial being or not, it irks him that Cas always sounds so official and solemn when he speaks. Especially since all the formality is toned down considerably whenever Cas addressing Dean. He guesses his brother's irreverence leaves the angel with little choice.
"No, I'm not too busy," Sam says stepping back from the threshold, giving Cas the cue to enter the motel room, "You caught me packing. Dean and I have a job in Ohio, something to do with a haunted church."
Gesturing to the nearest bed, Sam offers Castiel a seat and when Castiel opts to remain on his feet, Sam stands facing him and cuts to the chase. They had Dean in common and very little else so there is nothing to make small talk about. "What do you want?"
"You seemed somewhat disturbed by my presence yesterday when you entered and saw me speaking with your brother. Why were you upset?"
"Oh," Sam shrugs, hoping to shake off his sudden discomfort at Castiel's choice of topic, "Don't worry about it, I was just tired."
"Really?" Castiel appears to consider the response, "You often seem - how do you put it - 'tired' when circumstances dictate that you have to be in my presence."
"It's nothing personal, Cas," Sam tries to maintain an even tone even in the face of creeping irritation.
"I think it is," Castiel continues in the deadpan, monotone that makes Sam want to slap him. "I think that you find my...closeness with Dean irritating. I think it makes you envious."
Caught completely off guard, Sam fumbles momentarily before irritation incubates anger, leaving it to simmer on slow boil. "I'm not jealous, Castiel," he says slowly, deliberately.
Castiel sees the heat rise in Sam's face, senses the anger being tempered and is immediately struck by how Sam differs from Dean, who would most likely have gotten hostile by now.
"I get the distinct sense that you view me as some sort of threat."
Coming out of anyone else's mouth the words would have sounded snide and mean-spirited, but Cas manages to say them with a genuineness that irritates Sam even more. How does Cas manage to make such blunt, embarrassing statements with this innocent earnestness, that makes Sam feel like he's the bad guy for wanting to strangle him?
"No," Sam insists, "You're not a threat." Not now anyway. Not after the conversation he and Dean had last night. Remembering the words that had passed between himself and his brother, Sam decides to brush off his anger and irritation. "But Dean is the only family I have left, Cas and I happen to take that very seriously."
"Dean says something similar when I point out that's he's overbearingly overprotective when it comes to you."
In spite of himself, Sam has to laugh. All his life Dean has hovered over him with a kind of Jaws meets Mama Bear attitude. But never had anyone summed it up quite as succinctly as Castiel did with his alliteration.
"That's just Dean being Dean," Sam says with a grin and harmless shrug, "He's been my mother, father, and big brother."
"Yes," Castiel agrees patiently, "He has certainly dedicated himself to taking care of you, Sam. Which begs the question, who has taken care of him?"
"What do you mean?" Sam asks, growing incensed once again. "I look out for him. And I don't need some divinely appointed bodyguard to help."
"I know there's nothing you wouldn't do for him but as far as Dean is concerned, you're still his little brother, which means he won't let you take care of him."
"I take care of him," Sam persists.
Realisation has Sam running his hands through his hair and sighing loudly. "When he's too sick or too weak to do anything about it."
Of all the roles and obligations Dean has, Sam knows that none would ever be as important as being a big brother. Allowing Sam to take on the roll of caregiver was an abdication of Dean's most significant responsibility, and therefore, it was only permissible in the most dire circumstances.
"So maybe a divinely appointed bodyguard is the answer to everybody's problems," Sam reasons quietly.
"I would tend to agree," Castiel nods stoically. "I am here to help, Sam. It was never my intention to come between you and your brother."
"No one can come between me and Dean," Sam says plainly, "After everything we've been through, family is all that matters."
Castiel is grateful that Sam is more conciliatory in nature than his older brother. Had he been having this discussion with Dean, it would have descended into a quarrel and the battle would have raged for a full hour, or more. It was nice to reach, what Dean would have called a "truce" through a more reasoned approach.
"I'll leave you to your packing."
"You don't have to leave," Sam says. The room feels considerably lighter now that they've cleared the air. "Dean should be back any minute now and I know he'd want to see you."
"I can wait then. There isn't anywhere I'm required to be right now."
"Good," Sam says, genuinely please that Castiel has accepted his invitation. "Dean is bringing breakfast. Knowing him it's going to be a heart attack in a wrapper, so be a good friend and help us eat it."