For as long as Gabriel's worked at the pet shop, the rabbits have always been his favorite. He's told to call them rabbits because that's the more 'professional sounding' name but really everyone knows that they're bunnies. Tiny, fluffy little balls of straight up adorable.
He got this job originally to subsidize his beer and takeout habit while he was in college but he absolutely fell in love with everything about the little shop over the years and even now that he's graduated (with a degree in Graphic Design) he still works at the store. He does odd jobs for design clients who need his expertise with whatever project and he makes pretty good money but he always comes back to the animals.
But yeah, bunnies. Gabriel's got a soft spot the size of Texas for the little buggers. He's spent countless hours when business is slow just stroking the velvety soft ears of the bunnies waiting to be sold. He reads up on bunny care, makes the displays more comfortable for the little guys and generally fawns over them as much as he's allowed.
His boss just kind of goes with it because when Gabriel starts working there, the critter sales go through the roof. No matter what people come in for, the kid seems to have a way of convincing them that they could use more warm and fuzzy in their lives. Little kids love him, especially the little girls who come to the store after school gets out and 'ooh' and 'ahh' over how cute Gabriel is with his bunnies.
He gets a kick out it most of the time, but it makes him a little sad that none of the bunnies are actually his because his apartment doesn't allow pets. He resigns himself to the fact that he has all the critters at work and he can do his part to find them all loving homes.
One particular day, Gabriel is snuggling with Castiel his favorite little bun behind the register. He's got big blue eyes and the softest ears the man has ever felt. Cas' body is light brown, almost a perfect match for the storeowner's trench coat that he wears when it rains. The bunny could easily have been purchased long ago but he only seems to like Gabe and one of the other bunnies, Dean. Gabriel thinks it has to do with the way Dean gets protective when Raphael and the other bunnies pick on him. Cas is wary of people too, he hides away in the little pink plastic house when people look in at them and Dean sets up guard outside the entryway preventing anyone from reaching in. Its kind of heart-breakingly adorable. Gabriel looks up when the bell on the door tinkles cheerily, stroking Cas' ears as the bunny falls asleep in his lap.
"Welcome to—wow…" his regular greeting falls short when he catches sight of the new customer. The kid is tall. Like super tall and he's cute as hell with his floppy brown hair and—are those dimples? Gabriel's a sucker for dimples.
"Hi," the kid smiles. Yes, definitely dimples.
"Um, hello—hi. I'm, uh, Gabriel and wow, I normally don't suck this bad at talking," Gabe stutters. Dimples just laughs and that's totally a sound he could get used to. He shifts in his seat, almost forgetting about Castiel on his lap. The bunny kicks out at him in annoyance and Gabriel recovers enough to cradle Cas in his arms as he stands. Cas chuffs happily and settles back down. Dimples has this look on his face like he's never seen something quite so adorable in his life.
"Can I pet him?"
"You can try. He's not that big on people," Gabriel laughs. "I'm the exception, but then again I've raised him for the better part of a year."
Dimples grins and slowly reaches out a hand. Castiel opens one eye (and Gabe didn't even know bunnies could do that) to give the other man a wary look. Dimples slows his hand stopping just short of Cas' nose. The bunny sniffs a few times before apparently deciding that this new human smells adequate and pushes his nose into the kid's fingers. Gabriel's eyebrows shoot up because he's pretty sure he's the only human that Cas has reacted positively too. Like ever.
"Well I'll be dipped in shit," Gabe breathes. Dimples just laughs and pets the bunny carefully. "Are you like, a bunny whisperer or something?"
"Nope. I just love animals. I'm Sam, by the way," Dimples—Sam—says.
"Nice to meet you, Gabriel," Sam grins. "Is this shop yours?"
Gabe sighs. "I wish. I just work here. Well, I've been working here forever. It's been—god, it'll be 5 years next spring."
"I take it you enjoy it?" Sam asks. Gabriel just gives him a look that says 'I get paid to play with bunnies, what do you think?' Sam laughs again and Gabe thinks he could listen to that sound for the rest of forever.
There's a few moments of silence as they both fawn over Castiel but it's not awkward. It's more companionable, easy. Gabriel's not generally one to just enjoy silence, even when he's alone in the shop, he's usually singing or talking to the animals but he doesn't feel the familiar itch to make conversation or noise. Cas blinks up at him like he's surprised by this turn of events too. Gabriel wonders if bunnies are telepathic even as he thinks 'What?' at the little fuzzball.
"Is there anything specifically I could help you out with today?" because Gabriel is a professional and no amount of adorable shaggy brown hair and bright eyes are going to distract him from his job. Not for long anyway.
Sam glances around the shop. "Yeah, I was actually looking for a companion animal. My, um, well my girlfriend just dumped me and my apartment is really lonely," he shrugs. 'What kind of idiot would dump this boy?' Gabriel thinks because seriously, his ass is just as pretty as his face. Castiel seems to know what he's thinking because he starts to chew on the sleeve of the shop worker's shirt to distract him.
"Knock it off, Castiel," he murmurs. The bunny moves from fabric to skin sinking his little teeth in gently. Gabriel laughs and he barely catches the way Sam lights up at the exchange.
"He's really adorable," Sam chuckles.
Gabriel grins. "He's a pain, but yeah. Any particular animal you're looking for? We don't have any dogs and cats here. We work more with rescues when people come in for them." Sam nods like he understands.
"Well I think you know what I'd suggest already," says Gabe.
"Lemme guess, bunny?" the other man teases.
"Got it in one, Sammy." Smooth Gabriel. Pull out a nickname when you've known him for less than 10 minutes. Not weird at all.
But Sam just laughs. "Wow, it's been a really long time since anyone's called me that."
The worker blushes. "Sorry."
"No it's cool. I never said I didn't like it."
Gabriel's pretty sure his face is on fire. "So yeah, bunnies are definitely the way to go. Besides being damn adorable, they're relatively low maintenance. You pretty much have to clean the cage every other day, feed and water every day and plenty of exercise. All of our bunnies are already litterbox trained. Well except Lucifer, but he's got that name for a reason, ya know? You can even leave a good bun like Castiel here out loose—as long as there aren't any wires he can chew—in your apartment."
Sam looks at him thoughtfully. "Is Castiel yours?"
"Nah, can't have pets at my apartment," Gabriel says sadly. "He's just not been adopted because of his general lack of interest in humans besides me. Well and now you."
"I'm sorry you can't have pets. That must suck. You look like you really love them," Sam says quietly. Gabe just shrugs.
"Would you like to see the bunnies?"
Sam's introduction to the bunnies is hilarious and freaking adorable. He's very patient with them, although most seem happy to hop over to the hand he sticks in the display. Lucifer in particular tries to hump Sam's hand, at one point rather aggressively; enough that Gabriel has to put the little guy in a time out.
"Sorry about that, but I did say he's got that name for a reason," Gabe says. Sam just laughs as he scratches Anna behind the ears. Balthazar tries to not look interested as he licks water out of the hanging bottle, but he's always been a little aloof—which, Gabriel is pretty sure these bunnies are some sort of special breed because he's never had to associate so many human traits with animals before. Dean seems to be wary but after a patronizing—seriously, these bunnies—look from Cas, he hops over and allows Sam to pick him up.
"This little guy is cute," Sam says
"That's Dean," Gabriel smiles. "He's Cas' BBF."
The other man snorts. "BBF?"
"Best Bunny Friend." And suddenly Gabe is embarrassed. Did he really just say that? Oh god, this guy is going to think he's insane at best.
Dean uses his position in Sam's arms to wiggle around and press his nose to Castiel's. The taller man groans. "That's literally the cutest thing I've ever seen." He rubs Dean's ears and the bun huffs happily settling farther down in the crook of Sam's arm and licking at his sleeve a little bit.
Gabriel watches the other man. Sam's got this look on his face like he's already in love with this bunny and the worker has seen in hundreds of times on other people's faces when they find their perfect pet. It's kind of the reason he's still working at the pet store instead of looking for a full time design job. It makes Sam more attractive if that's even possible.
"I think we have a winner," Gabriel says quietly and the taller man hums in agreement.
"He's kind of a sweetheart isn't he?" Sam asks.
"Most of the time," the other man says. And it's true. The only time Dean isn't a ball of adorable is when Raphael is picking on Cas and—oh no. He looks down at Castiel in his arms and the bunny is looking at him like he knows. But Gabriel can't just not sell a bunny because he doesn't want to separate them from one of the others. He clears his throat. "So, do you have anything or are we setting you up with all the amenities?"
"Well I've never had a bunny before so…"
Gabriel smiles. "Alright then, here's what you'll need…"
Sam gets ready to leave the pet shop, all his brand new bunny supplies already packed in his car and Dean in a box under his arm. Gabriel can see Dean's nose poking out one of the holes and it's going a mile a minute, twitching with every sniff.
"He might be a little wary for the first couple days. He just needs time to adjust to a new place, new smells all that jazz," Gabriel says. He's totally not hovering. Nope.
"You've mentioned that," Sam laughs. The worker grins sheepishly. "You really love him, don't you?"
Gabe shrugs. "I love all of them. Even Lucifer. Even if he is a great big bag of dicks." The taller man chuckles but sets the box-o'-Dean on the counter. He plucks a pen from where it's resting behind Gabriel's ear after he was done writing out instructions for cage set up and feeding. He grabs Gabe's hand off the counter and scribbles something on his palm with a smile.
"There's my number so you can check up on me," he says and it's cheesy and perfect because Gabriel loves cheesy.
"Oh don't think I won't, Sammy."
Sam picks up the Dean-box once more and moves toward the door.
"I'm looking forward to it, Gabriel."
And it's totally not Gabe's fault if his heart stutters a little bit.
It's kind of exactly what Gabriel was worried about. Castiel is despondent for the first day Dean is gone. He refuses to eat and spend the whole day buried in the litter underneath the plastic house. Gabriel tries everything to get the little guy out. Offers carrots, radishes, and even candy when he gets desperate. But Castiel stays hidden underneath and not even Lucifer tries to get in after him. At one point Balthazar crawls through the opening and snuggles in next to Cas because Gabe thinks the black-furred bunny has always had a soft spot for his cage brother.
Gabriel sighs and returns to feeding the mice, tearing his eyes away from the bunny enclosure. He finishes up and pulls his phone from his pocket, already open to his contacts. Specifically the 'Samsquatch' one is pulled up. He debates texting Sam for a good ten minutes before deciding that he's just checking up on Dean, right? No big deal.
Heya Sammy, how's my little bunny doing?
He hits send and immediately regrets it and then all of the other life choices that have gotten him to this moment. He's about to put his phone back in his pocket when it buzzes.
It's a little early in our relationship for pet names, don't you think Gabe?
Gabriel's heart doesn't skip a beat, shut up.
You wish, Sammy. Maybe if you were as cute as Dean I'd call you my little bunny.
Dear god, where did Gabriel learn to flirt? He groans as he changes the water of one of the reptile cages. He probably got it from his dad who was completely socially awkward around women when Gabe was going up. His phone goes off in his pocket.
I'd goddamned adorable. Don't even try to deny it. Dean's okay, by the way. He seems a little…sad I guess.
Gabriel looks over at the bunny pen. Poor Cas.
It's only the first day he's been there. Give him a little time.
And you're not THAT cute. Just a little.
He snaps his fingers at one of the ferrets he calls Crowley who's trying to get a rise out of Bobby, his cage-mate and the ferret looks at him like he's just eaten his tailor. Gabriel laughs to himself and wonders how this one shop got all of these crazy animals. The phone vibrates on the table where he set it, almost falling off the edge.
He hasn't eaten. Is that normal?
Gabriel is typing out a response when another text comes through.
Just a little? I've got DIMPLES, dude. I bet I'm the cutest guy to ever walk in your shop.
So he's using the dimples as a weapon. That bastard.
Yeah, he's just getting used to being on his own in a new place. Also, dimples-schmimples. You need a haircut.
Gabriel decidedly doesn't mention that he likes Sam's hair and it's probably the perfect length to fist his hands in.
They keep texting for the next few days, first about Dean and then about everything else. Gabe learns that Sam's close to graduating and is pre-law so he's got more school to go. He tells the other man about his degree in Graphic Design but also how he loves working with animals so much he's thinking about opening his own pet shop.
About a week after Sam takes Dean home, Gabe gets a text that just says, I'm bringing Dean to the shop. I think there's something wrong with him.
He texts back asking what's going on but doesn't get a response because by the time it sends Sam is already bursting through the door with the Dean box under his arm.
"He's barely eating and drinking. And all he does is lay around. I—I think there's something wrong with him, Gabriel," Sam says and jesus, he's this close to crying. Gabriel's heart wants to explode.
"Lemme take a look," he says comfortingly. He pulls open the box and Dean is lying on the bottom but he blinks up at Gabe sadly.
"I think he's—heartbroken," says Sam quietly. "I know that look. I've had it, actually."
Gabriel knows exactly what Sam's saying because Dean looks exactly like Castiel. He strokes Dean's ear gently and the bunny doesn't even try to move into it. "Hold on, I have an idea."
He crosses to the bunny pen and lifts up the little pink house. Castiel glares at him but doesn't move even as Anna scurries away. Gabriel reaches in and lifts the tan bunny without any more complaint than a small huff. "I'm sorry buddy. I didn't realize." He cradles Cas against his chest and makes his way back over to the counter where Sam and Dean are waiting. He gestures for Sam to take Dean out as he set Cas on the counter and when the bunnies see each other it all makes perfect sense.
"Oh," Sam breathes.
Oh is right. It's like someone snapped their fingers and switched the sad little bunnies Dean and Cas were because they're stomping and rubbing up against each other like they've been waiting for this an entire week, which they have actually. Gabriel smiles because Dean looks like himself again as he nuzzles against Cas' face and Cas looks so content, he thinks his heart might burn out of his chest.
"So, how do you feel about upping the number of bunnies in your apartment?" Gabriel asks because seeing this now, there's no way he could ever separate them again.
Sam puts on a show like he has to think about it. "I think I might need someone hanging around who knows a lot about bunnies. Preferably starting tonight…at dinner time."
Cas blinks up at them and Dean is giving Gabriel a look that clearly says, 'what are you waiting for, idiot?'
Gabe's never been one to argue with animal instincts so he launches himself at Sam, who's laughing even as their lips meet.