They left Dean there for the evening. He drank the hot cocoa, appreciating the sticky sweet of the marshmallow. He glanced at the pie heartedly. It felt like all the fight had slipped right out of him today. He had been so sure, everyone had been so confident that today was the day. The thing that pissed him off the most wasn't even his own anger. It was the sheer devastation that had been in Balthazar's eyes, that had been in Anna's eyes.

He had been getting dragged through the mud since he was fourteen. The world didn't have much to offer him besides heartbreak; at this point he doubted the world had much to offer anyone but heartbreak. He didn't want them to know that. He didn't want them to know that for as long as they possibly could. Cas came to check on him before he went to bed. He took the pie.

"It'll be in the fridge if you want it later," he had said. Dean wasn't sure if he had even grunted in response. A large part of him didn't want the pitying looks his friends gave him, the ones Leah and Steve had given him. The fact of it was, though, he was glad to have someone that could take care of him when he needed it. It was a luxury he hadn't had in a very long time. It was nice to have someone to bring him soft blankets and hot cocoa and pie from his favorite diner when he was upset.

He couldn't summon the energy to move. He couldn't even find the energy to fall asleep. He just sat there and stared at the TV, long after infomercials replaced regular programming. He couldn't get beyond the thought that Anna and Balthazar should be his to legally protect. He should legally be allowed to do what he had always done and he felt that they were being taken away from him, again.

He wanted to go find the whisky he knew Sam had stashed in his room. He finally understood why John had started drinking so much. He had always thought it was about numbing the pain. It wasn't. He was already numb. It was about getting that singular nagging thought to stop, just stop.

He already felt half-drunk off his own exhaustion and despair. He realized he had never even taken off his shoes. His feet were on the couch. Cas would be irritated if he discovereddirty footprints. He started laughing at the ridiculousness of it. He was being loud, too loud he realized.

It wasWednesday. He had class in five hours and work and responsibilities and he was sitting with his feet on the couch in a cheap suit watching infomercials wrapped in a fuzzy blanket at three am drunk off his own despair. Fuck responsibility and fuck his shitty life. He realized vaguely he was approaching hysteria. A dull light shined from Sam's room and his silhouette was illuminated in the hall.

"Dean? What are you still doing up?" His voice was sleep-rough and his too long hair was askew. Dean couldn't stop laughing. Sam crossed the room in a few easy strides turning the lamp on. Dean kept laughing, tears streaming down his face now. He realized he was, in fact, hysterical.

"Come on, man. Quiet down. If you wake up Cas, he's gonna kill us both." Dean gasped, trying to regain control of himself. Sam clicked the TV off.

"I-I can't- stop."

"Dean, I will slap you." After a few more minutes Dean stopped laughing, slowing to gasps.

"Let's get you to bed. Come on." Dean stood, trying to feel appropriately chagrined. Sam followed him, making sure he crawled into bed. He left his door open as he returned to his own bed.

"Dumb son of a bitch," Sam muttered to himself, before he fell back asleep.

Dean was cranky the next morning. Sam and Cas quietly steered clear. Cas disappeared, presumably to the library, long before his first class. Sam stuck it out, sensing Dean needed someone around. After Dean left though, he realized he needed some air, to get out the apartment. It was nearing 11:30 by the time he got himself showered and dressed. There was a sandwich shop ten blocks away. It was a walk, but he figured it would get him out of the apartment for at least a couple hours. He picked up his wallet and shut the door behind him.

He was glad to have some time to think. He hadn't had any significant alone time in a while. The past few weeks had been insane, especially with the addition of Rebel to their apartment. He didn't begrudge his roommates his attention. They had needed some help lately. He just needed some time on his own- he had his own issues.

There were the drugs and Amelia. At this point though those weren't really issues - they were assumed constants nagging at the back of his head. The issue occupying today's walk was Gabriel Novak, who had inexplicably taken over Sam's mind. He had only met the man twice now, but felt like the world as he knew it had been turned on its head. Sam liked to think it was because he was too damn happy- against all logic.

He was Cas' brother for crying out loud. Cas' significantly older, definitely male, brother. Sam was straight. Sam knew he was straight. But Gabriel, if Sam was being completely honest, was forcing him to reevaluate a lot of what he thought he knew. Yes, there was a physical attraction. He could admit that. There was also something else, something he couldn't quite put his finger on.

A mystery, a force that kept drawing his thoughts to him. It was part of the reason he had been re-evaluating his life. Sam had been tired for a long time, done a lot of things he wasn't necessarily proud of. He had lost the best friend he ever had. Sam liked to think he had some pretty thick skin, but in reality that just wasn't true. He went off his gut. He also spent a lot of time doing what he was supposed to or at least what he thought he was supposed to.

He couldn't help but think that maybe the universe was finally telling him it was time for a change. Ever since he'd gotten those e-mails from Dean and Cas, his life had been turned on its head. One more change wasn't going to kill him. He was nervous, yes nervous, about being attracted to a man, but he supposed it wasn't something that could be helped.

Ever since Gabriel had shown up at their door he had spent more time working on his file called 'novel.' The file containing ideas he'd like to write had grown exponentially. He had to admit to himself that the little bit of appeal astrophysics had once had was quickly fading. He sought more, omething more fulfilling that what he was supposed to do. Feeling alive, actually alive wasn't something that usually happened to him, but when he was writing it all changed; it was when all the shitty things that happened just started coming out. Maybe it was time for a change of his own.

That was his problem. There was so much that he wanted, that he wished he could have but he could never make a decision. He could never just reach out and take it. He hated himself a little bit for it. As he approached the shop he actually started thinking about the more pressing things in his life. Things like sandwiches. They had great rye bread, so that was a given. He couldn't decide between tuna and roast beef, though. Lost in thought as he was, he didn't notice the other man on the sidewalk until he had sent him sprawling to the ground.

"Aw, shit, man, sorry. Gabriel?"

"Heya Sam. No worries. Lost in your head, there?" Sam held out his hand to help Gabriel up, pulling back quickly.

"Yeah, yeah a bit. Just headed to get lunch."

"Ooh, where at?"

"Sandwich shop, three doors down."

"Never been."

"Well, you should join me, then."

"Alright." Roast beef it was then. Gabriel fell into step beside Sam. They reached the counter of the shop, and ordered their food.

"Let me pay," Sam said on impulse. Gabe looked as if he was going to argue, before sighing in defeat.

"Alright then. I get the next one."

"Fair enough." They settled into a table with their food.

"How are you, Sam?"

"I'm alright. Been a crazy few weeks, with Cas and the baby and then Dean's appeal for guardianship being denied."

"Wow, my brother and what?" Sam froze for a second. Gabriel apparently had not been informed of his nephew's existence.

"Nothing. Nothing."

"Cat's out of the bag, Sam. My brother has a baby?"

"Uh, yeah. Yeah. Kinda. He's adorable and happy. And I should really be letting Cas tell you this."

"He'll tell me when he's ready."

"Yeah, right. Right."

"You're more nervous than a cow up for slaughter."

"How've you been?"

"Good. Strange to be in one place for a while. Then again, sometimes I think I've been travelling for too damn long."

"Maybe you have. Maybe it's time you settle down."

"Not quite sure I'm the settling type. Married to my job and what not. Besides, I'm fairly certain I've shown that family isn't quite my forte."

"Family isn't anyone's forte. We make do with what we have."

"Right you are there." They finished their lunch, placing the baskets on the rim above the trash can. They walked out together, pausing at the corner where they would part ways- Gabriel back to work, Sam back to the apartment, in case Meg decided to drop Rebel off early as she had done last week. Sam felt himself reluctant to leave, but just as reluctant to say something.


"I'm right here."

"This was the most relaxing lunch I've had in a very long time."

"I'm glad you enjoyed it."

"I'd like to do it again sometime." Sam tried to keep the smile of his face at Gabriel's words.

"Yeah, I would too. Does Monday sound alright?" He realized belatedly just how overeager he sounded.

"I have a lunch meeting then. Tuesday?"

"That sounds perfect. Same place?"

"Yes. You were right. They do have good sandwiches."

"I look forward to it."

"As do I." Gabriel grinned wide at him before turning and walking across the street. As Sam waited for his own light to turn he felt himself bouncing on the balls of his feet, mood lighter than before. Maybe this was the change he needed.

Several hours later, as he prepared dinner- nachos- he realized he should probably tell Cas what happened. Dean was at the table thumbing through a book full of diagrams Sam had no interest in trying to wrap his head around, while Cas played with Rebel. It was uncomfortably picturesque; a scene Sam couldn't quite bring himself to trust.

"I ran into Gabriel today."

"Oh, how was he?" Cas barely looked towards him.

"He was alright. You hadn't told him about Rebel."

"No, I had not. I'm assuming he is now aware."

"I'm sorry, Cas. I didn't know you didn't want him to know, and well, it wasn't my place to tell him."

"I appreciate the apology Sam, but as I didn't tell you I didn't wish my brother to know just yet, I don't think I can be angry with you."

"Right." Sam wondered if he should mention his lunch date with Gabriel, if that's what it even was or if he should keep it to himself for the time being. Dean interrupted before he could make a decision.

"As much as I hate to break up the chick flick moment, when's dinner going to be done?"

"Give the cheese time to melt."

"Sam, I haven't eaten since breakfast. Give me something." Sam chucked one of the unsliced black olives at Dean.

"About ten minutes."

"Thanks," Dean said around the olive. As soon as he swallowed he reached across the table for the baby. Cas handed him over automatically. Rebel cooed happily when he realized he'd been transferred to Dean's arms.

"Yeah. We're happy to see you too. You get to meet Anna and Balthazar next weekend. You're going to love them."

"What time are they going to be here by the way?" Sam asked from his post by the counter.

"About three on Saturday. I think we'll just set them up on the living room floor?"


A/N: As always thanks to my wonderful beta, KillerKueen. I'll see you all in about 3 weeks!