Title: Sam is a Genius (Everyone is Dumb)
Theme/Topic: The prompt was "Dean trying to woo Castiel through baseball tickets, pie and horror movies."
Character/Pairing/s: Dean/Cas, but mostly Sam/His Gigantic Brain
Warnings/Spoilers: This is kind of cracky and Sam's pain may or may not taste like candy.
Word Count: 4,690
Summary: Dean is doing stuff. Castiel is getting stuff done to him. It seems like the only one who understands what "stuff" actually means is Sam. Sometimes it's hard being the smart one.
Dedication: Originally for swing_set13 and the deancastiel Secret Angels IV exchange.
A/N: I'm still learning how to write in this fandom. I think I need to sign up for more exchanges to put the pressure on so that I'll man up and stop being chicken shit about it. LOL
Disclaimer: No harm or infringement intended.
The problem with being so much smarter than everyone else, Sam thinks, is that it means you're always so much smarter than everyone else.
You see, sometimes Sam feels like one of those revolutionary geniuses throughout history who had the misfortune of being born so far ahead of his time that everyone in his life hadn't been ready (or able) to understand just how genius his genius was yet. Like Galileo. Or the guy who invented meat-shaped tofu.
Not for nothing, but Sam's learning curve is like standing at the very bottom of Verona Rupes and craning your neck to try and see over the top.
That means (for those of you not quite keeping up) that he's quick. He gets things. Understands them. And this pretty much applies to everything he does, because he's awesome like that. Some might argue that it's because he ingested demon-blood performance enhancing drugs as a child and has an unfair advantage, but they're wrong. It's really just the sheer awesome that is him at work.
Dean, on the other hand—while not dumb per se—isn't exactly the same as Sam in this respect. Not that Sam is trying to knock Dean when he says that or anything, because he's not (and everyone would do well to remember that Sam loves his brother a lot, sometimes so much so that people get the wrong idea about them and write creepy disturbing things about them on the internet). What Sam really means is, Dean is just one of those people who has different learning curves for different things.
For example, Dean is exceptionally good with mechanics and 3-D space. He has a natural knack for seeing how things work just by looking at them, and from there, he can invent ways to reimagine them or reform them to work for him in the manner he wants towards the purpose he requires. Sam would say that Dean's learning curve for machines is like sinx between 3π/2 and 5π/2 (i.e. impressive).
For other things, Dean is maybe not so hot.
For even more other things, Dean is pretty much diving straight towards abysmal.
And for a very small amount of other things still, Dean's learning curve is like the m of points (3, 4) and (8, 4) on an x-y axis. That is, if m= ∆y/∆x—which it is—and Dean is subsequently m=0.
To simplify (for those who still need further simplification), sometimes— for some things— Dean's learning curve is a lot like a horizontal line.
Which means that for these certain things—cough emotional stuff cough— Dean can go forward and sometimes (oftentimes) backwards within the scope of a straight line path, but in the end, he isn't the type of function that has the ability to change as his input changes.
He has no velocity.
And right now, Sam feels like he is using his viewpoint on a moon in space with his ridiculously steep learning curve to watch as one of those endless, slopeless lines of Dean's makes its way across the grid-axis of his life. It is stretching out forever and ever and ever, for as far as the eye can see. It is neither going up nor down, only trudging in one limited direction.
As for Castiel, Sam figures that his learning curve is probably as steep as or nearly as steep as Sam's own (though of course there are functions of time Sam has to take into consideration when doing the comparison that cast the angel in a slightly less favorable light given how many millennia he has on Sam), but regardless of how clever Cas ultimately is, the fact of the matter is, you can't measure how quickly a person—or angel in this case—is able to learn if nothing is being taught to him. And from where he's looking (high, high up), Sam sees a whole lot of nothing going on.
As it is, the younger Winchester is left to stand on the surface of Miranda alone.
Figuratively, of course (for those of you still not keeping up).
In reality, he is currently watching Dean stare at Cas and Cas stare at Dean over the powder-blue formica tabletop of a greasy-spoon diner somewhere just off of Route 66 in New Mexico. There are three plates of pie sitting—mostly uneaten—between them.
Eventually, Cas swallows.
Dean shifts uncomfortably as he watches.
Then, after what feels like a million more years of awkward, eye-to-eye looks, Cas slowly nods, the ghost of a smile turning the very corners of his lips upward just the slightest bit. "I like blueberry," he concludes, before lowering the fork back onto the plate.
Dean starts to grin but it's a short-lived gesture at best. It is aborted a moment later— forgotten in lieu of more perverted things—when Dean's eyes unconsciously go stumbling after the sight of Castiel's bottom lip, as the angel draws it into his mouth to chase the bits of cinnamon-sugar crumbs lingering there. "Uh. Yeah," Dean grunts articulately, sucking in a breath before looking back down at the wedge of blueberry pie in front of him.
Dean has this half-crazed look on his face that Sam thinks anyone else would have spent some serious time self-examining and trying to figure out after the second straight year of it happening on a near constant basis. But then again, Dean has never been one to go looking for a reason to perform objective scientific observation on himself (or any objective scientific observation at all, really).
Blueberry pie thus dealt with, Dean slowly pushes forward pie flavor number two.
'Behold,' Sam thinks as he watches, 'the great and mighty human subspecies Dean in his peculiar but fascinating mating dance. In order to interest his potential mate into coupling, he first demonstrates his ability to provide sustenance.'
"Cherry," Dean explains, voice stilted and warm all at once. "One of my favorites."
Castiel reaches forward to take the offered pastry. "Then I am sure I will like it as well," he says.
"Uh. Yeah," Dean murmurs again, for the tenth time since dessert came. Sam knows because he's been keeping a careful mental tally of how many of Dean's default sayings are being used during the course of tonight's dinner because his brain is too busy trying not to cook itself from all the synapses spontaneously firing somewhere around the vicinity of his brainstem, where Dean's most primal functions are clearly doing their very best to concentrate on maintaining some sort of normal respiratory and cardiovascular function. Sam suspects all of the higher functions in his brother's brain have been forcibly triaged out of the blood flow rations, which is probably the reason they can't report to Dean about why it's so hard for him to remember how to breathe in the first place. There is irony in there somewhere, the liberal arts part of Sam thinks.
In the meantime, Castiel very carefully cuts the corner of the cherry pie off with his fork and the air around them goes thick with the weight of Dean's anticipation and subtext. It is like a fog that Sam can see, wafting in the air in front of the two would-be lovebirds in the midst of their kooky mating dance. Sam gives up on trying to read the weekly specials menu in the corner because he now knows it cannot actually save him from this badly written soap opera involving a yearning y=1/x asymptote desperately reaching for the x-axis that it so clearly loves but can never actually seem to reach. So close, but so, so far.
Castiel takes a bite of the pie.
Silence stretches on as he chews slowly, probably analyzing every element of the dessert's flavor, texture, ingredients, and temperature. For all the time he takes, Sam thinks he's probably mentally carbon dating the contents as well, just to be thorough. Sam would too, if he had that power.
And for once, Dean seems to have all the patience in the world, waiting for Castiel's reaction. Sam concludes that this is proof that miracles happen after all.
"Wow, Dean," he interrupts after a beat, pointedly. He talks a little more slowly than normal and makes sure to enunciate so no one misses the boat on what he's trying to say here. "It's not like you to share your pie before you've even taken a bite. This definitely makes Cas something special, huh?"
Dean gives him a weird look at that, the kind that sort of furrows his eyebrows and purses his lips and asks, 'Why are you talking like a retard?' without actually saying the words.
Sam gives him a complicated look in return, one that very obviously answers, 'Well when are you going to declare your intentions to the angel whose pants you are trying to get into with pie and sultry looks?'
Dean blinks. "What's wrong with your face?" he asks, out loud. Castiel pauses to give Sam his head tilt of concerned questioning.
Sam slouches deeper into the booth and mutters a sheepish sounding, "Nothing." He hates being smarter than everything sometimes.
As it turns out, Castiel likes the cherry too, but not as much as the apple, which is okay in Dean's book because apple is classic and shows that Castiel has taste.
Sam begs to differ.
After the pie is baseball, and of course it has to be baseball, because if Dean is anything, it's "American as…" and all that. It's good to know that the potential end of the world is not changing Sam's brother. Sometimes things like that can change a person.
"Royals tickets?" Sam asks that morning, when Dean thrusts them at him proudly. "Three of them?" he clarifies next, because maybe Dean will finally understand what is going on here if he implies that there should actually only be two.
"Yup. Box seats even. Compliments of our very generous uncle, uh…" he pauses to look at the name on his newest credit card, "Ranjeet Naigodara. Say thanks to Uncle Ranjeet, Sammy."
"Do you know if Castiel even likes sports in the first place?" Sam says instead.
"No idea," Dean answers, shrugging in a clearly-trying-not-to-be-self-conscious-because-it-doesn't-matter-that-much-except-it-does kind of way. "Figured we'd try it out and see. Guy might as well learn what he likes and what he doesn't now that he can, right?"
He looks kind of hopeful as he says that, and Sam sighs helplessly, because contrary to popular belief, he is not the only Winchester that can look like a puppy at times. "Yeah, okay."
Dean grins, all confidence then, and hands Sam his ticket before whipping out his cell phone to tell Castiel to haul ass over to the motel; they've got important things to do today and daylight is wasting.
When he hangs up he looks pretty damn near cheerful. Sam wishes he had a voice recorder on him. For now, he settles for more mental notes. When he has time, these will be transcribed into his autobiography.
'Stage two after the offering of food in the copulation ritual between human subspecies Dean and his intended mate, in this case, one angelus delapsus, is a demonstration of human subspecies Dean's resources. Knowledge of environment, territory, and social behaviors are used to impress angelus delapsus, wooing him into willing submission. Let's see how the saga unfolds.'
Dean frowns at him. "Seriously, what's wrong with your face lately?" he asks, making one of those all-encompassing 'your face' gestures with his hand. "It looks like you can't poo or something."
Sam wrinkles his nose. "What's wrong with me? Do you even know what you're doing, Dean?" he asks. Just to clarify, this reaction is in no way defensive.
Dean blinks at Sam like he's worried something is seriously wrong with him but isn't sure if it's worth the subsequent bitching to bring it up. The implications of the question sail far, far over his head in the meantime; Sam imagines it making one of those cheesy, whistling sound effects— like in an old Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon—before it crashes into the ground in a messy explosion of all his hopes.
"Of course I know what I'm doing. I've been to baseball games before, numb-nuts," Dean answers with a snort, eyeing his brother in that vaguely derisive jock way that makes Sam 97% certain that if they'd had normal childhoods, Dean would have been that obnoxious kid who was captain of the football, baseball, hockey, and lacrosse teams in high school.
Sam runs a hand through his hair. "That's not what I mea…"
Sam gets cut off by the sudden gust of wind that signals Castiel's arrival. Which is fine, he supposes, because Dean's not really paying attention to him anymore anyway.
"You said there was something of import for us to do today?" Castiel asks grimly, brow furrowed and posture suggesting he's ready to take on all sorts of nasty gloom and doom for the Winchesters as he stands in front of Dean, less than two steps away and looming.
Dean doesn't seem to notice that that's close anymore. He waves the tickets at Castiel and waggles his eyebrows a little. "Yup. Baseball."
Castiel looks at him uncomprehendingly. He does relax his kill things stance a little though. "Baseball."
Dean's smile broadens. "We're going to watch some."
An intrigued blink. "I don't know what baseball is."
Dean reaches out and squeezes the falling angel's shoulder. "And dude, that is a fucking crime. It's the great American pastime, Cas."
Castiel tilts his head slowly left and considers the words very carefully. "I see." He clearly doesn't, but clearly doesn't wish to upset Dean with his ignorance even more.
Dean just rolls his eyes. "It's awesome. Trust me."
Castiel's lips quirk upward again then, like they had with the pie, like he's finally getting used to doing that after all this time, or maybe Dean just brings it out in him. "I do trust you."
Something in Dean's gaze goes warm and gentle. "Well alright then." He clears his throat gruffly. "Better head out or we'll miss the opening pitch."
They linger a little longer anyway though, doing that gazing thing of theirs.
Sam holds back the urge to make retching noises at them because he's not twelve and he's supposed to be a genius. Instead he says, "You don't have to like it if you don't want to, Cas," because Dean is clearly corrupting the experiment by contaminating the sample with durpy, significant staring beforehand. "Or just because Dean likes it."
"Traitor," Dean answers, and throws the sunscreen at Sam on his way out to the car. Castiel obediently heels him.
Sam manages to catch the bottle before it hits him in the face—though not without squeezing half of its contents all over the front of his shirt first—and sighs.
He grudgingly gets ready to go with Dean and Cas on the date that he's the only one with the presence of mind to realize is a date in the first place.
Would it be a douche move to tell them they're already going steady before they know they are?
Sometimes it sucks to be so far ahead of the curve.
Castiel doesn't understand what baseball is until Sam very patiently explains it as a specific form of strategized, theoretical warfare.
The angel gets it then, but states that there are too many variables on either side for it to be a pure theoretical battle. Sam says he might like chess instead then, where all variables except the opponents' abilities are equal. Castiel agrees, Dean calls them both heathens, and Sam watches his brother split a Cracker Jack with his angel and give him the decoder ring prize they find at the bottom of the box as a souvenir.
Castiel holds it like it's the Holy Grail or something, and Sam has to start listing the periodic table of elements in order of category starting with the Lathanides and the Actinides in the inner transition metals grouping to keep himself from throwing popcorn at them and demanding that they either watch the game or just give in and make out already.
That afternoon, they also learn that Castiel doesn't like nachos (which Sam is kind of relieved about) while he absolutely loves hot dogs (which Sam supposes just figures, all things considered).
"The flavor combinations are intriguing," Castiel explains, around a mouthful of meat by-product and mustard.
Dean grins when he hears that, ruffles Castiel's hair, and even splurges to buy the angel a Royals cap on their way out of the stadium. Castiel likes the hat too, but not nearly as much as the Cracker Jack ring.
Based on all empirical evidence collected so far, Sam figures that this means they're engaged now.
Maybe someone ought to tell them.
"Saw II?" Sam asks a few days later, when he returns to the motel room and finds his brother and the angel sprawled out side-by-side on the far bed, watching bad slasher flicks on late night cable together after another successful hunt. "Horror movies, guys? Really?" Sam wonders if Dean did it hoping Cas would scream and hug him every time someone loses a limb.
Dean doesn't look like he's in a particularly plotty or diabolical mood though, but then again when does he? Instead, the older Winchester just shrugs noncommittally in response to his little brother's skeptical expression and continues to methodically pick off the mushrooms on his pizza and hand them to Cas, who puts them on top of his own slice in interesting patterns before magnanimously offering Dean his pepperoni in trade.
Someone gets mauled on the screen. Sam winces. Gives Dean a look.
"What? The comedies were a bust," Dean explains after a beat, around a mouthful of cheese and meat.
"I don't understand why it is considered comedic to sneak into strangers' weddings and prey on lonely women," Castiel reports, gravely. He gives Dean his sausage (the liberal arts part of Sam wonders if that's symbolism, or something).
"See what I mean?" Dean grunts, and starts picking off the bell pepper on his pizza next.
After that Castiel turns to Dean and wordlessly makes the Universal Grabby Motion with his hand; Dean automatically reaches over to the nightstand and picks up the 64oz Pepsi cup sitting there, absently handing it to the angel without looking away from the movie.
Castiel is sipping Pepsi directly from Dean's straw, hapless victims are dying in a shower of blood on the TV, and Dean has a pizza with actual vegetables (and fungus) scattered amongst the bits of dead animal on it.
Castiel's bright orange Cracker Jack decoder ring is sitting pretty on his left pinky and his thigh is touching Dean's on top of the bedspread, as the pizza box balances on top of both their legs.
'The final stage of the courtship ritual of the human subspecies Dean and the angelus delapsus seems to be a waiting period, in which human subspecies Dean ceases his aggressive mating display to see if angelus delapsus will accept his grandiose overtures. How will angelus delapsus display his willingness to copulate? And more importantly, will human subspecies Dean notice when he does?'
"You're doing that face thing again, Sammy," Dean points out. "Either sit down and watch or do something else. Your creepy creeper staring is ruining the mood."
"Mood? What, am I interrupting your date or something?" Sam asks, because he must further explore this new and exciting development by calling the two of them out. In an entirely not-defensive way, for the record.
He waits for Dean's manful reaction of rage and indignation.
"There's a salad in the mini fridge," Dean answers simply, either ignoring or not hearing Sam's statement before bending to lick some tomato sauce from where it had dripped between his thumb and index finger. Castiel watches him do this, and then tries it as well.
Dean finally tears his eyes away from where they have been glued to the TV screen. Sam imagines there is an audible rip (this is because the liberal arts part of his brain is very creative). "Uh," Dean murmurs, swallowing at the sight. "Good, Cas?"
Castiel smiles pleasantly, licking his middle finger clean of pepperoni grease. "Yes." Then he wraps his tongue around the Pepsi straw and takes another drink without looking away from Dean.
Sam makes a face like he smells dirty diapers or has found Dean's unwashed swamp-stalking socks at the bottom of his duffel again. 'Willingness to copulate is a go,' he supposes.
Dean's response is to stare back some more at Castiel and murmur, "Huh. Uh, great." He quickly averts his eyes back to the TV screen. A young woman dies a horrible and bloody death and no one seems to notice.
'Human subspecies Dean has not realized that angelus delapsus has assumed the copulation position. Under normal circumstances, this would mean that human subspecies Dean has some sort of mental or genetic defect and that natural selection will thereby remove him from the breeding pool.'
As he comes to his sad but obvious conclusion, Sam stares at the image the angel and his brother make sitting together on the bed. He thinks of flat horizontal lines stretching from now until forever, for as far as the eye can see.
He also thinks of vaguely obscene acts unthinkingly performed on fountain drink straws and the symbolic gift of sausage and other meaty goodness.
Mostly, he thinks about a lifetime of enduring this on the road and being the only one who knows.
Back when he was still in school, Sam was never one of the kids who endorsed cheating by freely giving the other kids the answers to all the homework (even when they threatened to beat him up if he didn't). He'd always preferred slowly guiding them towards finding their own conclusions because he'd felt—and still feels—that the joy of learning is all in the discovery. But right now, at this very moment, he realizes that maybe the joy of discovery is not as important as doing the kinds of things that will help keep him on the happy side of the genius spectrum, the side where all the sane geniuses live and where doing things like cutting off your ear and mailing it to your girlfriend is frowned upon.
So, for the sake of his ears and any potential future girlfriends, Sam finds himself shouting, "Oh my god, would you two just make out already?" completely at random, during a momentary lull in all the grotesque movie action. In retrospect, he wonders if this is a sign that he's a lot closer to the insane side of the genius spectrum than he first thought he was.
And then Dean and Castiel both turn twin bewildered looks on him, in a wacky sort of we've-been-married-forever-and-this-is-what-happens type of perfect synchronization. It's how Sam always imagined having two parents would be like, except freakier.
"Gross, Sam," Dean says, eventually. He makes a face.
Castiel hums something in agreement and looks back at Dean. They proceed to converse entirely with their eyes in a wordless and far too critical way.
Sam sputters. "Oh c'mon, Dean! Stop living in denial. You like him! He likes you. It's obvious. Just… go! Make babies or something."
Dean scowls. "Seriously dude? I am not making out with Cas in front of you. That's just wrong."
Sam scowls back. His very clever brain instantly fires off a million possible counterarguments about how it isn't wrong because love is blind, about how Sam accepts Dean even if he digs man-shaped things all of a sudden, and about how stereotypes regarding Dean's standards of hyper-masculinity are so 20th century anyway. "Look I get that you're…"
But then he stops.
Because as previously established, Sam's learning curve is steep like the cliffs of some distant moon currently orbiting Uranus.
His mouth hangs open a little bit as he replays Dean's words in his head three or four times, one of which is in super slow-motion. "Wait, so are you saying you'd make out with him as long as it's not in front of me?"
Dean gives him a look that is a strange hybrid between the 'Why are you talking like a retard?' face and the 'What is wrong with your face?' face.
"Yeah…and?" is what he actually says out loud. The face remains, however.
Sam does a few more sputtering things. "So…you've…uh… does this mean you've made out with him before?"
This time the look he gets is 100% 'Why are you talking like a retard?'
When Cas starts to do a fair facsimile of the face from beside Dean it only confirms exactly what they are not saying out loud about the things they do when Sam is not here.
Sam's head hurts. "So you two are already… a thing. Like that. A thing that makes out."
Dean nods slowly, pizza slice forgotten in his hand. "Wait…" he begins, and starts to look at Sam in an altogether pitying and sadly understanding way as he realizes what is happening here. "You mean you didn't notice?" Pause. Frown. "Really?"
Sam chokes a little, because what? Dean is not supposed to look at him like that. Dean the one who is supposed to be m=0for all matters of emotional importance in this equation! This is not how this story is supposed to go. Just…no.
"I noticed… stuff! Some stuff," Sam manages, in his own defense. It is very articulate and lawyerly.
Sam twitches. "Stop looking at me like that."
But Dean doesn't stop looking at him like that. In fact, he even goes so far as to shake his head in an entirely judgmental manner while picking up a peperoncini and still looking at him like that. "Dude. I thought you were supposed to be the smart one," he says.
Castiel makes clucking noises in the back of his throat that are probably meant to be sympathetic to Sam's plight but just kind of end up serving as the disappointed chorus to tonight's sad, sad song of Sam's obvious mental deficiency. The angel finishes Dean's Pepsi with decisive slurps and seems to find The Saga of Sam much more interesting than the movie.
Sam collapses himself into the nearest chair under their dual gazes, folding into it like he's about to start knee-tucking and rocking himself. "Wait," he demands, trying to make sense of this by organizing all the new information his brain is receiving into neat little mental spreadsheets. It doesn't work. Which says a lot, because Sam's head-Excel is usually an unstoppable force. "How… when did… I mean…"
"Months," Dean answers. "Like… months."
"Dean was the one who asked," Castiel adds helpfully, to clarify on the how part and further blow away all the observations Sam has ever made regarding his brother's behavioral patterns before ever.
Sam's head hurts. Lots. Probably because head-Excel is in the midst of freezing and crashing into the dreaded BSoD.
It's like the whole universe suddenly changed and nobody told him. It's like he'd spent so much time admiring the view from Miranda that he was too busy to notice how the rest of his world had somehow managed to rise up from its emotional dark ages and learn how to colonize the entire icy surface of Uranus without him.
This is a bleak and boggling extended simile, the liberal arts part of Sam's brain chimes in, unhelpfully. He sighs and unconsciously ends up muttering, "But I was the only one who could see Uranus," to himself disbelievingly. It comes out as a whine.
Castiel frowns, looking vaguely concerned. "Sam is behaving strangely," he says, nudging Dean. "He sounds like he's hallucinating."
Dean grins. "He said your anus," he snickers, like he's five.
Sam buries his face in his hands and can't believe that this is the crack team that somehow got the step on him for months.
He spends the rest of the night being sad for himself.