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The Way to a Man’s Heart (Or: Part Six - Fanboy Sam Has a Lot of Feelings About Interior Decorating)
Title: The Way to a Man’s Heart (Or: Part Six - Fanboy Sam Has a Lot of Feelings About Interior Decorating)
Author: tawg
Word count: ~8,000
Rating: M
Pairings/characters: Sam/Castiel, mentions of Sam/Balthazar and Balthazar/Castiel
Notes: This chapter is dedicated to wing-hugs, who put up me being a pest at him while I procrastinated my heart out, and princess_aleera, who held my hand during the little freakouts that I had while writing this chapter.
Summary: Sam does something nice for a friend. Castiel has the sniffles. Sam breaks out his domesticity-fu and Castiel appreciates the company.

Deep down, Sam wanted things to be awkward between himself and Balthazar. After getting lured off and then having a hand shoved down his pants (the first sex he’d had since California, and yes damnit, Sam was willing to count anything that wasn’t his own hand), he thought that at the very least there should be some tension, some weirdness. Sam had called Balthazar on his rebound-y habits. Balthazar left Sam accurately looking like he’d had sex against a trailer and completely lost in the maze at the back of the lot. There damn well should have been something uncomfortable in their exchanges.

But Balthazar was so perfectly charming, was the same social butterfly he’d always been. And, if anything, the incredibly hot exchange of kisses and frantic humping had just made Sam like Balthazar more. Up until now, Sam had always been the one to press someone against a wall. It had been a thrilling reversal and, in all honestly, Balthazar had been quite a gentleman when it came to the allocation of sexy hot embarrassing public orgasms. And, every now and then, Balthazar would wink at Sam. There would be warm, private smiles. One body lingered around another just a moment longer than usual, as though Balthazar was trying to pace himself before their next encounter.

(In one of his crazier daydreams, Sam considered just asking Balthazar out for a drink. But he was Sam and Balthazar was Balthazar, and sometimes Sam caught Castiel watching them with a carefully blanked expression. And what would come of it anyway? Sam wasn’t good at relationships. No need to inflict that on anyone else.)

Sam liked Balthazar’s good humour and saucy personality. He’d always had a bit of a crush on Lucifer and, well, there were plenty of the moments where the actor and the character weren’t too dissimilar. And during a filming week where Castiel seemed quieter and more withdrawn than usual, Sam just naturally found himself gravitating towards the handsome blond when he was allowed away from his rewrites long enough to hit the set.

Chuck had been giving Sam larger and larger chunks to rework. Usually a script was submitted by a writer and Chuck would insert a scene somewhere tying that one case into the larger story arc. What Chuck really wanted was to have his team sit down at a table every week and spend three days hashing out every script for better consistency, to make the show more of an arc rather than a series of events with a tenuous thread tying them together. What he had was a team of writers who at least checked their e-mails, and Sam who was getting pretty good at weaving in the references Chuck gave him. When Sam was first bumped up, he’d automatically done a second draft of the scenes he thought were most likely to need trimming, compacting them down in case of emergency. When Chuck found out, peering over Sam’s shoulder in pyjama pants, a thermal, and a sports jacket, he’d placed his hand on the top of Sam’s head and just kind of petted him lovingly for a moment.

“You should head out to the set, catch the scene they’re filming.” Chuck called over as Sam cracked his knuckles and ran his eyes over the page on screen.

So Sam headed over to the set, hung back and had fun watching Balthazar argue with the costume department over exactly which jacket he needed to be wearing for this scene. (On Fallen, angels took the bodies of humans when they needed to interact with their environment in significant ways. As a viewer, Sam had gotten a kick from all of those reflections of one face in a mirror that then panned back and across to reveal Castiel or Balthazar as the angel’s true representation, kitted out in the appropriate garb of their vessel for the scenes covering the possession. When they were just themselves, no vessels covering them, Michael wore black pants and a snugly fitted, four-button vest, a crisp white shirt, and a red tie. Lucifer was a lot more casual in a dark blue suit with no tie and the top button of his shirt undone, the bottom of his jacket always hitched up because his hands were habitually shoved into the pockets of his pants as he ambled across any environment. The promotional pictures for the series were, essentially, suit porn.)

While Balthazar argued and cajoled and sulked (he’d been pushing for Lucifer to switch to jeans for most of the season), Castiel stood in the middle of the warehouse set, tugging at one of his cuffs and then comparing the way his sleeves sat, seeing if they were level. A woman buzzed around him, combing his hair flat with her fingers and patting the shine away from his face. She slapped his hands away from his own clothes, and he obligingly lifted his face up and closed his eyes for the reapplication of powder. Rufus yelled at Balthazar to get back on his mark, the clapboard was held in front of the camera, and the scene began.

Sam watched carefully, paying attention to the way it was played rather than the words. Lucifer walking in an absent circle around Michael, like the laziest predator ever, well aware that his prey would not flee. Michael was cleaning his sword with a scarf plucked from the body on the floor, looking as if he gave Lucifer no heed at all. Only the flick of Castiel’s eyes as Balthazar wound up the monologue, blue and hard and intent, showed that he had been marking every word. There was terseness to the scene. Lucifer was upping his game, shifting from adolescent cajoling to serious debate. Lucifer was asking why a thousand small deaths could be prevented or avenged by angels on earth, yet stopping their complete elimination was out of the question.

Castiel’s voice was rough and hoarse when he replied, too far removed from Michael’s smooth gruffness, and the way he glanced to one side and broke character showed that he knew he’d blown it. He brought a fist up to his mouth, clearing his throat while the makeup assistant rushed in and wiped away the shine from his bow and cheekbones again. She ran her fingers through his hair and made a face at the sweat that came away on her hand. Castiel apologised quietly before stepping back onto his mark.

Michael’s reaction was filmed again, and again. Castiel was sweating profusely and costuming was on standby with a spare shirt. Jo appeared by Sam’s side with a cup of ice chips. “He’s been sucking on them all week,” she explained as cameras were rolled back into position. Sam waited until Castiel spotted Jo, until filming was cut and he headed over to her, his eyes on the cup. He winced when he swallowed, though it was as mild and understated as any expression that he wanted to hide. Sam took the cup from Jo at the last second and held it at an arm’s length, pressing his free hand against Castiel’s damp forehead.

“You’ve got a fever,” he said loudly.

Castiel, mild-mannered actor from Illinois and possibly the most restrained person on the planet, gave Sam an absolutely filthy look.

Because, as Sam had learned when Balthazar had cut his hand open before the filming break, there were some very strict rules in place about letting people work when sick or injured. It was a general policy to send someone home to recover rather than work them until they died. It was a policy that annoyed pretty much everyone as there was television to make, thank you, and it wasn’t going to get made if everyone with a splinter or a head cold went home early.

But up close Castiel honestly looked like he’d been three days without sleep and there was a sick, clammy quality to him. Sam gave him a pointed look (the one Dean narrated as “You are not mom so stop giving me the bitch face and tucking me into bed. Seriously. Sam. Sam, I said quit it,”), and Castiel was forced into a chair with a thermometer under his tongue despite the sour look on his face and the insistences that he was fine. Daphne, the first aid officer on set, examined the thermometer when it beeped and frowned at Castiel. “That’s a fever. And probably an infectious one.” She always seemed so distressed when someone was unwell. It unnerved Sam, but he guessed that she just really cared about people being healthy.

“Go home,” Rufus said bluntly. “Come back on Thursday. In the meantime, we put that pretty boy through his paces.”

Castiel opened his mouth to complain, but Daphne cut him off. “Pneumonia,” she warned with large, sad eyes. “Secondary infections as bacteria feast on your dead cells. Choking on your own phlegm. Oxygen masks.”

“Forget that,” Balthazar chimed in. “Getting to sleep in. Speaking of, Doc, I’m feeling a little bit peaky myself-”

Get back on your mark,” Rufus bellowed, and Balthazar stepped back with his hands held up in defeat. Daphne booked Cas an appointment with a doctor, people called Chuck, people were sent to wrangle Young John. Sam should have headed back to the trailer, because the scenes without Castiel needed to be extended and the ones with him needed to be condensed. Instead, he loitered by Castiel’s side.

“You’ve got to look after yourself,” he said by way of explanation. The same exasperated line he’d been giving his father before they fell out, that he had tried to press into Dean for most of his life.

“I’m fine,” Castiel insisted, stiff but not standoffish. Sam gave him a disbelieving look, then let it break into a grin as he told Castiel to stock up on soup.

“Go eat a jar of honey,” he instructed. “It’ll help your throat.”

Sam worked hard for the rest of the day. No one was begrudging him for turning Cas in, so to speak. But when you have a regular cast of all of two people, one person getting sick could turn an already hectic job into a headache. Sam just did his best and answered Chuck’s vague questions about whether it would be laying it on too thick too early with encouraging noises. (Sam liked drama in television because it distracted him from the drama of real life. His policy for the last two years had been ‘the more drama, the better’.)

Sam was stuffing himself into his many layers, a mitten in his mouth and his scarf looped three times around his neck, when Gabriel slammed something small against his chest. Sam struggled to catch it as it fell, though he needn’t have bothered. Castiel’s mobile had been known to dent concrete.

“What’s this?” Sam asked, trying to hold the phone and stuff his hand in a mitten at the same time, and ending up with a mobile phone where his fingers should be.

“He left it here. You get to drop it off to him,” Gabriel explained, preening in the soft reflection provided by the windows.

“Why me?”

“Because I live on the complete other side of town. Also, you’re the one who sent him home. Also, Dean’s always nagging me to include you in things.”

Sam gave Gabriel a skeptical look. “You have a date tonight, don’t you?” he said at last.

“Drinks with the hottest woman to ever ignore me at a class reunion.”

Sam frowned down at Castiel’s phone. “If she ignored you, then why is she suddenly meeting you for drinks?”

“Because I am a man of class, taste, and witty repartee.” Gabriel stuck his tongue out and studied it for fuzz. “Also, she’s divorced now and is looking for a houseboy to deal with spiders.”

Sam gave Gabriel a dull look. “Aren’t you a little old to be a house boy?”

“But my skills with getting spiders out of tubs are unsurpassed.” He slapped Sam on the arm and stepped around him. “Have fun, delivery boy.”

Sam stared down at the phone, then picked up the post-it note that had been stuck to it with Castiel’s address. Well, he wasn’t horribly far from Sam’s neck of the woods. Sam didn’t know Vancouver well enough to be able to picture the suburb, but he knew the road Cas lived on led into the kind of mall that had designer stores and forty places to buy a coffee. Sam shuffled out to his carpool – Dean and two of the lighting guys – and got them to drop him off in the general vicinity.

“If you can’t get a cab home, call me,” Dean instructed from the front passenger seat.

“Uh, thanks.”

“Because if you get frostbite walking home, I am the one who is going to have to put up with your damn surfer-boy whining, and that is just not happening. Not when I finally got you to stop crying whenever it snows.”

“Thanks, Dean,” Sam deadpanned. “Your self-sacrifice is just too much.”

Dean grinned at Sam, bright and easy. “I know. I’m awesome.”

There was no doorman working Castiel’s building, no receptionist to explain himself to. It was incredibly low key, in all honesty. A plain building that could use some cosmetic work. Cas was up on the fifth floor, down a peach hallway with worn maroon carpet and a picture of a horse standing in a field decorating a stretch of wall. Sam was actually disappointed. That was not how he expected an actor to live.

It was a long wait between knocking at Castiel’s door and the door opening. Castiel stared at Sam blearily, one hand scratching the back of his head. Sam stared back. Castiel was wearing a knitted sweater, cream with olive green stripes across the chest and upper arms. He’d paired it with pink flannel pyjama pants decorated with cupcakes. Bare feet looked pale and oddly graceful against the polished floorboards.

“I didn’t mean to wake you,” Sam said.

“I wasn’t asleep,” Castiel returned.

They stared at one another for a moment, and then Sam held out Castiel’s clunky old phone. When Castiel took it in hand, Sam saw that the sleeves of the sweater had little holes at the wrist that Cas had hooked him thumbs through, sewn up with more of the green yarn. “Nice sweater,” Sam said. It seemed safer than commenting on the pants.

“I made it,” Castiel returned, standing in the doorway of his apartment and checking his phone for messages.


Castiel looked up at him, and then peered out into the hallway for a moment, as if wondering what Sam was doing on his doorstep. “Would you like to come in?” he asked.

“Oh, no. It’s fine. I didn’t mean to keep you.” But Castiel was already stepping back and holding the door open, and they stared at one another for a long moment, fighting the silent battle of good manners. Castiel looked as though he wanted to say something, to come out with something that would trump the years and years in which Sam had been told not to bother other people when they were busy, but he couldn’t find the words. That look finally stomped on Sam’s good intentions, and Sam stepped inside with a sigh. “Kick me out if I get boring,” he instructed, by way of compromise.

“I doubt it will come to that,” Castiel returned, closing the door and not bothering to lock it. Sam couldn’t decide if that was a sign that Castiel was planning on showing him out soon, or if Castiel just hadn’t been schooled on the importance of locking doors. “Can I get you a drink?”

“You can,” Sam replied automatically, pulling off his coat as he trailed behind Castiel to the kitchen, taking in Castiel’s apartment. Castiel’s trailer had been sparse. His apartment was bordering on bare.

Cream walls and white ceilings (with peach trim that did not sit well with the shade of the floorboards at all). Castiel’s living area held a couch, a coffee table, a television sitting on cupboard with glass doors, and a single narrow bookcase. The cupboard held a DVD-VCR and nothing else, the other slots and shelves empty. A photo propped by the television in a plain, pine frame showed two women – a brunette and a redhead. Castiel’s apartment was so lacking in personal touches that Sam wondered if Castiel knew the women, or if the picture had come with the frame. The bookcase seemed to hold every book, CD, and DVD that Castiel owned and still had bare spaces. There were no trinkets, no doilies on the coffee table, though there was a jar of honey with a spoon stuck in it. There was a rug under the table, but it was peach and cream, and Sam had a suspicion that it had come with the apartment.

“How long have you lived here?” he asked. The living room and kitchen were one shared space that seemed to lack any kind of divider. Sam realised after a moment of study that Castiel didn’t have a kitchen table, not a proper one. Just a small thing with two chairs set near the window. Castiel’s tan coat was draped over a small desk near the door. Sam dumped his own coat on top of it.

“Four years,” Castiel replied, putting the kettle on to boil. He had circles under his eyes and his lips were dried and peeling. He had a congested way of speaking, like his nose was blocked up. He’d probably stuffed himself with decongestants for work and their effects were fading fast.

Sam looked around the open space again. Four years. There were small signs of life. There was a picture hook by the front door, which Castiel had hung his keys on. There was a small, dented cowbell sitting on the window sill, though when Sam looked closer he saw that it was made from a casing that looked like it came from some kind of small missile and a more familiar bullet case hung inside with twine. Sam shook it, and it made a dull, flat sound.

“Tea or coffee?” Castiel asked from right behind Sam’s shoulder, surprising him so much that he whirled around, a little off balance.

“Uh, coffee,” Sam replied. He made a show of putting the bell back in place but Castiel didn’t seem put out by Sam’s snooping.

“Do you take milk?”

“And two sugars.” That, perhaps, put Castiel out a little. Sam had put up with Dean ribbing him for years, he wasn’t about to change his coffee preferences for a guy with the flu. Castiel was wearing pants with cupcakes on them. He was in no position to judge. So Castiel pulled mugs out of a cupboard with an easy stretch that pulled his sweater up, showed the dark waistband of underpants above the pink of the flannel pants that were sitting low on his hips. Sam leaned against the small table, watching Castiel move in his own space.

On set, Castiel was a little stiff at the best of times, apparently very conscious of his movements. When it came to interviews, Balthazar did the TV spots while Castiel did more magazine and radio interviews. One look at him sitting in a plush armchair on a late night talk show had let everyone know why. Castiel was awkward and stilted, he didn’t have the rapport for glib remarks and self-deprecating teasing. But in his own space, Castiel was fluid. He moved like he knew where everything was and where everything should be. Neat economy that could be seen as graceful in the right light.

And then Sam had a light blue mug in his hands. Sweet coffee with a dash of milk. Castiel held a dark green mug. Black tea that smelled handsome and strong. And then, mirroring Sam’s posture Castiel leaned against the arm of his couch, half sitting on it. They drank like that, facing one another and observing one another, but only making fleeting eye contact. Castiel half-sat with his legs stretched out in front of him, one foot covering the toes of the other and Sam wondered if Castiel was cold. He wondered if Castiel had been curled up in bed, reading.

“You said you made that sweater?” Sam asked, his voice a little stiff in breaking the silence.

“Yes,” Castiel replied. He held his mug close to his face, breathing in the soft steam. “I learned to knit when I was in the army.”

Sam stared at Castiel for a moment. “Really?”

Castiel nodded. “There were long periods with not a lot to do. It was important to stay productive.” He appeared to consider his mug, then raised his gaze to Sam. “It was nice to be able to send gifts home.”

Sam gave Cas a half-smile. “I thought it was us back home who were meant to be sending things to the troops?”

Cas hiked up one corner of his mouth. “And it’s nice to repay that kindness.”

Sam and Cas stood, holding their drinks and smiling softly at one another for a long moment, before Sam felt the need to clear his throat. “So. The army was basically one big knitting circle for you?”

“In the quiet moments. I got to be very good at socks.” Sam couldn’t help smiling at the irony of Castiel’s bare feet now. “There were other things to learn. Languages. One of my friends was very good at drawing, and she tried to teach us.”

“Did she have much success?”

“Not with me,” came the honest reply, and Sam’s smile in response was wide and easy.

“Dean’s the artist in my family. And if you’ve ever seen his Christmas cards, you’ll know he’s not exactly a master,” Sam joked.

“Your brother is very creative, at moments,” Castiel replied easily. There was a visible streak of loyalty there, enough that Sam was considering backpedalling until Castiel added, “You both are.”

Sam stared at Castiel, and Cas stared back until they both looked down at the same moment, finding solace in the distraction of their cooling drinks. “Uh, thanks,” Sam managed to reply. “That means a lot. Coming from you.” Castiel raised an eyebrow slightly, an inquisitive look. “You’re very-” Frank. Direct. Blunt. “-sincere,” Sam finished. “It’s nice, not having to look for hidden meanings.” Gabriel, for example, was a big fan of double entendres and puns. Conversation with the props master was like walking through a verbal minefield. When Gabriel and Ash teamed up, Sam just ejected from the conversation altogether.

Castiel appeared to be fighting a smile for a moment, and Sam was reminded of the easy humour Castiel had been composed of when they had sparred together, weeks ago. “You should be warned – I can be quite misleading at times. Through omission,” he added, as if worried about the implication that he, an actor, could tell untruths.

“Can you?” Sam asked, not even hiding his smile.

Castiel nodded once, then tilted his face back a little, watched Sam with a cocky angle to his head. His eyes, already softened in his home, took on a warm quality. His smile was wider than usual, and there was something sensual in the stretch of his lower lip, the slash of white teeth peeking between a smile. The line of his neck, the sharp cut of a cheekbone. The long flow of his body, his legs crossed at the ankles and his mug held loosely in confident hands. For a long, tingling moment he was transformed, the dangerous quality that had made Sam so skittish at first returned to him. Because Castiel had always been so handsome, bordering on pretty in an isolated, untouchable way. But with the relaxed lines of muscle and bone turning a distant body into an inviting stretch, Sam couldn’t help but remember that Cas was not some inaccessible object, not some pretty face on a poster tacked to the wall above Sam’s television. Sam couldn’t help but remember the late night confession. Castiel and Balthazar... Sam knew firsthand how forward Balthazar could be. With Cas watching him from under lowered lids, Sam suddenly understood. To think that Castiel was someone to be chased and seduced would be a gross miscalculation.

And then Castiel rolled his head to one side, slumped back into his usual hunched-shoulder posture, locked that dynamite countenance back inside and blinked owlishly at Sam as if nothing had happened. Sam narrowed his eyes at Cas, and the actor responded with a satisfied smile.

“Full of hidden depths, aren’t you?” Sam said.

“My sister assures me that I’m full of something,” Castiel returned with a deadpan that could almost pass as ignorance, but his mouth twitched upwards at one corner when Sam barked a laugh.

“You know my brother, whether you like it or not,” Sam said. “Tell me about your sister?”

“I have two of them,” Castiel replied, pushing himself away from the arm of the couch and walking over to the television. He gestured for Sam to sit on the couch – it was springier than it appeared, and not exactly comfortable. It didn’t have the worn-in feeling of every other couch that Sam had sat on in the past year. Castiel picked up the photograph from beside the television, and sat beside Sam, holding it up with one hand. “Anna and Rachel. Rachel is four years older than me, Anna two years younger.”

“So you’re the middle child.”

“Yes.” Castiel sat the photograph on the coffee table. “Anna is the redhead.”

“I’d guessed.” Anna had a wide, sweet smile and her arm wrapped around Rachel. In contrast, Rachel had a tight, posed smile and the sharp posture that came with a uniform. It was odd that Castiel had such rounded shoulders in comparison. Maybe it was a small rebellion on his part. “Are they both back in Illinois?”

“Anna is. Rachel is in the armed forces, so she moves around. But she tries to stay close. My father is there, too. He retired, for a year, before returning and getting a post at Arsenal Island.”

Sam huffed a small laugh of sympathy. “I don’t think my dad is ever going to stop going. He was in Vietnam and he kinda thinks that you’re not working hard enough unless you’re sweating blood.”

“Cutaneous haemorrhage is a symptom of severe mental anxiety, rather than a suggestion of dedication.”


“Sweating blood.” At Sam’s look Castiel added, “I haven’t seen it myself.”

“... Right.”

Sam swallowed down the last of his coffee and stared at the empty mug. Castiel pulled a tissue out of his sweater and blew his nose. Sam should probably leave him to get some rest. It was getting late, and Sam had work the following day and Castiel wasn’t sent home early just so Sam could keep him up late. Sam opened his mouth to thank Castiel for the coffee and make his excuses, but Castiel got in before him.

“Would you like to stay for dinner?” Sam was caught off guard, his mouth hanging open as Castiel stood and collected their mugs, carrying them into the kitchen. “It’s just take out, but my neighbour will be coming home soon, so I could call her and ask her to get an extra pizza.”

Sam closed his mouth, considered the offer, then slung his arm over the back of the couch, twisting to watch Castiel. “I wouldn’t want to intrude on you hanging out with your neighbour.”

“We don’t eat together,” Castiel said as he rinsed out the mugs. “We both live alone, and always ate leftovers. So we split the food bill and she leaves my share on the table.”

Sam was unsettled by the logic, though he couldn’t put his finger on why. Then it clicked. “Wait, so you live on pizza?”

“And burgers,” Castiel replied as he wiped the mugs with a tea towel.

“Jeeze, no wonder you’re sick,” Sam said. “You eat worse than Dean.”

Castel shrugged. “I don’t have time to cook, and I lack any aptitude.”

Sam gave Cas a disappointed look and made a show of shaking his head. “I’m staying for dinner, but I’m cooking for you.”

“That’s really not-”

“I cook or I leave,” Sam said firmly. He and Castiel locked eyes for a moment - Castiel’s gaze sharp at being bossed around in his own abode, Sam’s jaw set and his countenance stubborn.

“You do not have to cook for me,” Castiel said at last. There was a stuffiness to him, but Sam also knew pride when he saw it.

“Then I’ll teach you, and you can cook for me next time.” Castiel looked startled at the offer, and Sam used the opportunity to steamroll him completely. “Great!” he said, hopping up for the couch and heading into Castiel’s kitchen. “Do you have any food allergies?”

Castiel didn’t. He also didn’t have meat, vegetables, any herbs or spices (excluding salt and white pepper, neither of which counted anyway), or a wok. Sam was honestly a little stunned. When he’d gotten into Stanford, between the fight with his dad and Sam getting on the bus three days later without saying goodbye, Dean had gone out and bought him a kitchen set. It was cheap, and a few of the regularly used pots had needed their handles reattached over the years, but it had everything a basic kitchen would need, from tongs and an egg whisk through to pots and pans. Castiel had one wooden spoon, and it didn’t look especially well used.

“... I’m going to need to run down to the store for a few things,” Sam said at last.

“I’ll come with you.”

“No, it’s fine,” Sam said hurriedly. “It’s cold out, and you’re sick, and I swear I’ll only be a few minutes.”

Castiel considered Sam’s argument. “It’s not that cold,” he finally said.

Sam made a face at him, and stuffed himself into his warm coat. “Do they take away your cold receptors after you’ve been here for a few years or something?”

“Yes,” Castiel replied sincerely. “And we get a key ring.” Sam left without saying another word.


Sam got back to Castiel’s as quickly as he could, partly due to desperation when faced with the Canadian climate and mostly due to a fear that Castiel would have whipped some instant burgers out of his freezer or something, and be halfway through a feast of awfulness by the time Sam got back. Sam took food very seriously. After a life of eating by his father’s rules he had delighted in cooking for himself, in experiencing a life in which bacon wasn’t its own food group. Castiel needed to be indoctrinated to the world of salad appreciation, and Sam was just the person to do it.

“Sorry I took so long,” Sam called as he pushed open the door to Castiel’s apartment. “I got...” Sam trailed off at the sight of a blonde woman staring at him from Castiel’s kitchen. “Uh, hi,” he managed.

“I’m Amelia,” the woman said, relieving Sam of one of his shopping bags. “The neighbour.”

“Hi,” Sam said again. “I’m Sam. The...” Sam trailed off, not one hundred percent sure how to describe his role in Castiel’s life.

“The Sam,” Amelia supplied, with an odd set to her mouth. Sam got the impression that she liked him, but didn’t exactly approve in some way. “Castiel is in the shower,” she said. “He asked me to help you with anything you need.”

Sam stared blankly at Castiel’s neatly closed cupboards. “I think I went out and bought everything I need,” he finally admitted.

Amelia smiled then. “One tip – don’t leave him in charge of the stove. He burns everything.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Sam replied. Amelia nodded and headed towards the door. “You’re not joining us?”

Amelia gave Sam an odd look. “And miss out on having a whole pizza to myself?” She left without another word, giving Sam the strangest feeling that he’d walked in on a private moment and made everything more awkward.

When Castiel emerged a few minutes later, Sam was chopping vegetables into neat strips and Castiel was towelling his hair dry. He’d exchanged the cupcake pyjama pants for a worn pair of jeans and had a pair of slippers on his feet. They were normal, perfectly respectable slippers. Sam was oddly disappointed. Not that he’d given Castiel’s slippers any thought in the past, it was just that Sam felt that any slippers that weren’t novelty slippers in some way were a wasted opportunity. He was a big fan of bunny slippers or monster feet.

(Dean, in all of his big brother glory, had somehow managed to find Hello Kitty slippers in Sam’s size and had gotten Sam seven pairs in different colours. Sam had a rainbow of Hello Kitty slippers. A pair for each day of the week. When Sam had been back in IT and staying up until 3am each morning drowning his sorrows with premixed vodka drinks and fanfic, he’d taken perverse pleasure in sending Dean photos of him wearing the slippers in the wee hours of the morning. The joke turned out to be on him – Dean had printed out the photo of Sam with a red Hello Kitty slipper crammed into his mouth and taped it in every bathroom stall on set months before Sam had even gone in for his interview. What a reputation to precede him.)

“What are we cooking?” Castiel asked, draping his towel over the back of the couch.

“Vegetarian stir fry,” Sam replied. “Though it has oyster sauce, so I don’t know how vegetarian it really is.” He considered that for a moment. “Is oyster sauce made from oyster, or is it sauce that you have with oysters?”

“Maybe it’s evocative of oysters?” Castiel suggested as he leaned against the kitchen counter, inspecting the back of the bottle. “Like tiger balm.”

“What’s the point in evoking oysters though?” Sam asked, and then he considered the one trait associated with eating oysters. “You know what? Never mind,” he mumbled, and Castiel laughed quietly beside him.

“So,” Cas said, moving to stand beside Sam. He smelled fresh and clean. The heat from the shower was still radiating from his body and Sam instinctively leaned into it. “Teach me how to stir fry.”

Sam set Cas to removing the centres of bell peppers, to slicing zucchini diagonally and then slicing the discs in half. They worked well together. Cas could follow instructions. It was an odd thing, but Sam had spent most of his life around people who had been determined to do things their own way. Even Jess. Especially Ruby. Castiel scooped the sliced vegetables up with both hands – red and yellow peppers, green zucchini, white bean sprouts, and slid them into the wok under Sam’s direction. They stood side by side at the stove, Sam stirring the vegetables and adding sauces while Cas watched Sam under the guise of waiting for water to boil. They didn’t talk much, but one thing that Sam liked about Castiel was his silence. It was not something that Sam was used to, being quiet around someone else, but he thought that he could grow to like it very much.

“I got you something,” Sam mentioned in a cool, offhand way that sounded completely constructed. “There’s a bag on your table.”

Castiel frowned as he finished shaking water out of the noodles over the sink. “Dinner wasn’t enough?”

“It’s a get well soon present,” Sam said by way of justification.

“It’s just a cold,” Castiel muttered, but he trooped over to the table to investigate the paper bag Sam had left there. Sam focussed on adding the noodles to the cooked vegetables as he heard Castiel rustling through the paper bag. “Back to the Future and... lip balm?”

“Actually, it’s the whole Back to the Future trilogy,” Sam called over. “I noticed you didn’t have them in your collection, and I used to watch them all the time as a kid. We had them on tape. Uh, sorry if you hate them.”

“I haven’t seen them,” Castiel replied absently, reading the blurb on the back of the case. He looked up when he was done and twisted around to look at Sam. “We could watch them while we eat?”

“Sure,” Sam replied, turning the stove off. “That sounds good.”

Cas cleaned up the living area by throwing his towel through a doorway that presumably led to his bedroom. Sam served their dinner up in big heavy bowls while Cas grabbed the cutlery. Sam was used to eating his pseudo-Asian food with chopsticks (one of the few skills his father had learned in Vietnam that he’d passed onto his sons), but considering that half of Castiel’s cutlery draw was filled with plastic spoons, Sam wasn’t going to turn down the fork that was handed to him.

They watched the first movie with Cas sitting with his lower back against the arm of the couch, his toes buried under Sam’s thigh for warmth. Against Sam’s better judgement, he suggested watching the second one right after the first, since Castiel had enjoyed the movie and Sam had enjoyed watching television with another person in the room (though he kept that motivation to himself). Castiel grabbed a blanket and switched the main light off while Sam changed the disc. Sam was of the opinion that Castiel really needed a better couch, was unsurprised when Castiel admitted that he didn’t watch television very often.

The discomfort didn’t keep Sam from falling asleep somewhere between Marty McFly impersonating his son and the trio returning to the twisted version of Hill Valley. Didn’t stop him from slumping down, or stop Castiel from falling asleep with his head on Sam’s shoulder, pressed close to Sam’s warmth with little, snuffling breaths. Sam jolted awake at the very end of the movie, just before the credits started, waking Castiel who had sprawled sideways across Sam’s lap.

“Sorry,” Sam said, his voice low and gruff from sleep and the stiffness in his neck. “Fell asleep.”

“S’okay,” Castiel replied, his voice barely above a murmur. He was still stretched across Sam’s lap, propped up with one elbow on the arm of the couch, bringing their faces close together. Sam belatedly realised that his hand was resting at Castiel’s waist, that he could feel each breath that Cas took, could feel the steady way he held himself. He could feel Castiel’s breath by his chin, could smell the faint traces of shampoo in Castiel’s hair. He didn’t know if he should move or stay still, if he should say something...

And then Castiel kissed him.

A slow press of mouth against mouth. Gentle and easy and soft, Cas tilting his head to find that perfect position for their faces to rest together. Then Cas eased back for a moment, inhaled and then let out this little breathy sigh that had Sam’s hand clenching at Castiel’s waist, that led to Cas gripping the back of Sam’s neck, tugging at the hair at the base of Sam’s skull, had Sam closing the distance and kissing Castiel like he had only just realised what his mouth was for, like he was determined to make up for every moment of his life that had been spent not kissing Castiel, all that wasted time that hadn’t been devoted to coaxing small noises from between lips and teeth and tongues, that hadn’t sent Sam’s sliding up against Castiel’s side, pushing that loose sweater up and touching the hot, lean skin underneath, cupping his palm over the angle of Castiel’s hip as Cas bit down, as he sucked on Sam’s lower lip.

“Fuck, Cas,” Sam hissed into the hot, tight space between them, tilting his head to one side and giving Cas access to kiss and nip along Sam’s jaw.

“I like you,” Castiel said plainly, sounding like a sweet, breathy confession as he bit at Sam’s earlobe.

“Cas,” Sam said again, gripping Castiel’s waist, resting his hand there and squeezing, pulling Cas closer. And then their mouths met again, slow and lazy kisses shared between warm and sleepy bodies. A perfect moment made real by small details like the sweatiness of Sam’s palm against Castiel’s side, Castiel pulling back to breathe through his mouth, his nose blocked and his little sighs sounding stuffy. It shouldn’t be sweet, Sam knew. But it was. It was sweet and imperfect and impossibly wonderful, the weight of Castiel across his lap, the mingled flavours of their evening together on his tongue. And then Cas pulled back, pressed his forehead against Sam’s cheek bone, and the two of them took a long, slow moment to compose themselves.

“I need to go,” Sam said at last. He didn’t recognise his own voice, this wrecked rumble that came from his chest. “I don’t want to,” he hastened to add. “But.”

“But it’s late,” Castiel finished. “And you have work tomorrow.”

“And you need rest,” Sam contributed.

Sam could feel Castiel’s cheek shift, the motion of an invisible smile. “For what it’s worth,” Castiel murmured, “I’m feeling much better.”

Sam let his head fall back against the couch, laughed a little. “That’s not much incentive for me to leave, you know.”

Castiel kissed him one last time, a chaste press of plush lips against Sam’s own. “That’s unfortunate,” he said, before hauling himself off Sam’s lap, sounding completely insincere.

“Maybe... I should get your number? Or give you mine?” Sam offered. “You know, so you can keep me updated on your progress.”

Castiel gave Sam a smile, small and easy and with his kiss-bitten lips and dark eyes such an innocent expression looked incredibly sexy. He held his hand out for Sam’s phone, and Sam passed it over without taking his eyes off Castiel’s face. Castiel turned away, walking across the room to fetch Sam’s jacket.

“You going to change back into your pyjamas?” Sam asked as Cas walked him to the door, walked Sam past it and out to the elevator. “Back into the cupcake pants?”

Castiel looked down at his jeans, and looked mildly embarrassed when he looked back up. “I realised I was wearing my sister’s pants,” he finally admitted. “She always leaves something here when she visits.”

“For what it’s worth, it wasn’t a bad look,” Sam replied with a grin.

Castiel gave him a small shove into the lift, stared at Sam fondly with his hands in his pockets and his shoulders curled inwards against the cold of the hallway. Sam grinned back as the doors shut, and then he sank back against the wall of the elevator. What a night. He wasn’t sure how to even process everything – Castiel’s lack of movie knowledge, the tender intensity of Castiel’s kisses. He walked through the foyer of the building in a daze, getting shocked back to reality when he stepped into the cold, winter air outside.

Sam leaned against the front of Castiel’s apartment building, sucking in deep breaths of the chill, Vancouver night. He could still taste Castiel’s sleepy mouth against his own, could still feel the warmth of where their bodies had pressed together. Sam shivered, and pulled his phone out of his pocket. He managed to talk Dean into picking him up. He had about fifteen minutes in which to compose himself, but every time he closed his eyes he saw the way Castiel had looked at him with warm, relaxed eyes, he heard the rough rumble of Castiel’s voice, a mixture of sickness, sleep, and coiling arousal as he had told Sam that he hoped to see him soon.

When Dean finally pulled up against the curb, Sam felt just as electrified and uncertain as when he had first stepped out of Castiel’s apartment.

“Late night,” Dean commented when Sam slid onto the passenger seat, and Sam’s stomach sank. Even though there was nothing in Dean’s voice beyond brotherly teasing at good-boy Sammy staying out late on a work night, Sam had to fight the urge to smooth his hair down, to press his fingers to his lips and see if they were swollen.

“We fell asleep watching movies,” Sam replied, his voice a little raspy. He cleared his throat and it sounded too loud and too awkward in the familiar interior of the Impala.

“What’d you watch?”

“Back to the Future.”

“Which one?”

“First two.” Sam gripped his thighs and then forced himself to relax his hands slowly. “But I fell asleep during the second one.”

“The third one’s the best,” Dean replied, some hardened fact in his own mind.

He was completely incorrect. The second one was clearly the superior text of the three. But Sam stared out of the passenger window at the city lights and the smooth sidewalks passing them by, and made an absent “Mm,” of agreement. The dim face of his watch told Sam that it was nearly midnight. Sam and Dean rode through the night in silence; Dean no doubt looking forward to crawling back into his bed, and Sam’s mind still loitering inside Castiel’s sparse apartment. Sam barely noticed when they entered his neighbourhood, the Impala pulling up outside his building like a warm animal, grumbling it’s annoyance to the streetlights above.

Sam was halfway out of the car before Dean spoke. “Dad’s birthday is coming up.” Sam paused for a moment but didn’t reply. He stood on the sidewalk, one arm braced against the shiny roof of the car and the other holding the door open, waiting for Dean to spit it out. “I was thinking we could head home for a visit. Catch up with everyone.”

Sam bit his lip. “Maybe,” he said noncommittally, and then shut the car door as firmly as he could without slamming it. Dean waited until Sam was inside his building before driving off, and Sam slumped against the elevator walls rather than taking the stairs. His brain was buzzing with conversations that he didn’t want to have, comparisons that he didn’t want to make. He flopped down on the too-soft bed that never felt quite big enough and fell asleep fully clothed.

He dreamed about hands and mouths and touches and tastes. About the night in the AD trailer with Castiel and Balthazar and how differently it could have gone. He felt vaguely ashamed when he woke up in the morning. Walking out on Castiel the previous night had definitely been the right thing to do, as tempting as it had been to ask to stay. Sam repeated that thought to himself as he hauled his body out of bed, as he drank his morning coffee. He had it perfected as a mantra as he brushed his teeth and collected his phone and wallet, as he waited for the carpool to pick him up.

And then Castiel sent him an adorably formal text, thanking him for the night before with admirable punctuation and each sentence beginning with a capital letter, and Sam felt a flood of warmth rush through his chest and curl around his ribs. “I will cook dinner next time,” Castiel texted as Sam stood by the craft services table, a pastry forgotten in one hand. “I hope you like toast.”

“What are you smiling at today?” Balthazar asked in a low voice, an amused murmur by Sam’s ear as he reached past Sam to fill his travel mug with something hot and bitter that passed as coffee, their shoulders brushing as Balthazar stepped into Sam’s personal space to grab the creamer.

“Nothing,” Sam replied, doing an awful job at keeping his smile hidden. With memories of Castiel in his mind and Balthazar pressed close and teasing by his side, Sam felt wonderfully content and at peace.

And then his heart sank as he realised exactly how problematic his life had gotten.

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Awww, poor Sam. The problems you face. Both of them looking all interested at you. However will you cope with your sad, sad existence?

... and I just realised there is more to this verse. -eyes it-

I know, right? Sam just has THE WORST problems to deal with. Baby.

Be careful. I'm sure reading it all will only put you on the path to madness. Or threesomes. One of the two.

Oh dear. Madness and threesomes.

... hey, I just realised that, despite my general preference for OT4, I've never written a threesome. Or, technically, a foursome, just the lead-up to one. Hm. Sometime I ought to rectify that.

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You will like the next chapter. It is filled with Sam being a dork about his bi-crushing.

Cas likes his home! Even if you think he is weird and lonely! He can just sit at the table and knit and no one expects him to be anyone but himself.

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That is true. But Cas is also passively anti-social and lazy. Getting to know people and stuff? Hnnng, he'll just sit in the corner with his crosswords kk.

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This installment just turned into 100% fluff, didn't it? And poor, poor Sam. What hardships he faces. What trials and tribulations. What I wouldn't give to swap places with him.

This fic makes a lot more sense now that I have read the rest. And Cas' deadpan is beautiful.

... Gabriel totally ships OT3, doesn't he? GABRIEL KNOWS ALL. Heed him, for he is the Messenger.

Also, yay Daphne! This is the first non-7x17 fic that I have seen her in. :)

Poor Cas and his trust issues. Every Cas incarnation should have trust issues. It makes so much sense. And then poor Dean (or whoever) keeps stumbling into them accidentally (brashly, in Dean's case) then going WHAT WHY IS HE REACTING LIKE THAT. And then Cas does not get a hug.

Gabriel is just the best character for catalysing or enabling. And I hope that Daphne does crop up in more fics. I really liked what little we saw of her.

Well, the trouble is she got about one line. Which means that pretty much everything we know/think about her is relative to Cas, rather than to herself. I do hope the show gives us a BIT more than that at some point.

On the other hand, I managed to do an entire chapter of one fic from the point of view of Cathy Randolph, so obviously meagre material doesn't mean we can't make something of small canon characters!

We didn't get much more than that from Claire Novak or Jess, and I have read some wonderful fics about them both. We need more passengers on the Daphne train. And I certainly think that Castiel's time as Emmanuel and Daphne's part in that is worth exploring. (I have all kinds of 7x17 feels.)

trying to hold the phone and stuff his hand in a mitten at the same time, and ending up with a mobile phone where his fingers should be.

I'm not the only one! No, wait. I may still be the only one, but at least someone was able to imagine it happening.

Oh, I remember some of Sam's thoughts and feelings from my first real romance -- that wondering what the hell I'd been doing with my life when I could have been kissing this person...

Re: Fallen part 6

I'm not a big wearer of mittens, but I have used the finger section to store loose change and stuff in the past. And yes, I had fun casting back to the 'just barely dating, amazing first kiss' moments in my life when writing this.

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