merlin is shifty - julesoh

wistful_fever


I am a woman of a certain reputation.

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Fic: You Were Just So Conveniently There (SPN, Sam/Castiel)
merlin is shifty - julesoh
wistful_fever
Title: You Were Just So Conveniently There
Author: Fabella (wistful_fever)
Rating: R
Summary: Castiel and Sam become friends, or something like it. 5x14 episode fic. 8699 words.
Fandom: Supernatural.
Spoilers: Season Five, with emphasis on 5x13 and 5x14.
Characters: Castiel, Dean, Sam
Pairing: Sam/Castiel
Warning: Slash, Some Violence, Sexual Situations
Author Notes: This blindsided me. I wasn’t planning on writing it. I think I’ve slowly convinced myself that this actually happened during the episode.

“You are what I’m looking for, because you’re close, because you’re near.”
-Dead Angels, by Vast


You Were Just So Conveniently There 1/1

Sam is fifteen. Only he isn’t fifteen, he is twenty four, but in this moment, he is fifteen. Dad and Dean are gone for the afternoon. Bread and sandwich meat are waiting in the refrigerator. Sam is sitting straight-backed on the lumpy black leather couch. A broken spring pokes his hip. He presses his knees together, taps his fingers on his thighs, and glances at the window. It is snowing. A car passes, but doesn’t stop. The Odyssey is sitting on the floor by his feet. The bookmark still rests between the cover and the first page. His first assignment on the book is due in two days.

Sam looks at the flimsy digital clock on the TV stand. She had said four-thirty, eyelashes grazing her high cheekbone, books hugged to her chest, but it is past that. Sam doesn’t know how he knows this because the numbers on the clock are upside down. Sam looks outside again, but now it’s dark and it isn‘t snowing. There is a knock on the door. Sam gets up, steps on the book, slips, rights himself, and goes to the door. It opens before he can grasp the knob. A man in a trench coat with large blue eyes is staring at him from the porch, wind kicking up his hair. His mouth is leaking red. Jaw unshaven.

“Castiel,” he says, but he shouldn’t know this man yet.

Castiel stares at him. Reaches out, clutches the front of his ripped AC/DC t-shirt.

Sam looks down. Castiel’s nails are bitten and chapped from cold. When he looks up, Castiel is there, closer than before. Sam is fifteen, and he is eye level with Castiel. Castiel’s other hand sneaks up, touches his jaw, his cheek. It skitters across Sam’s face like it is blind while he stands there passive, because this never really happens. This is not how today goes. Castiel doesn’t stop touching Sam for a long time. His fingers tangle in Sam’s grungy hair, whisper over the lobe of his ear.

“Sam,” he says. “What is happening to me?”

“Stop,” Sam says. Castiel flinches, pulls his hands a fraction away from Sam’s body. He freezes that way, eyes flickering over Sam’s face. The streetlamps burn brighter, then dim. “What are you--I don’t understand. This doesn‘t happen.”

“I wish to know you,” Castiel says.

Sam pushes Castiel back with both hands, then shuts the door on his blank expression


*

Sam sat up the second he opened his eyes and scrubbed his hands roughly over his face as if that would remove the dream from his memory. It did wipe off the dried drool on the left side of his mouth. Dean continued to snore, belly-down on the next bed, one leg flopped over the side, muscled arm curled under his pillow. Sam cracked his neck and went to the bathroom, dodging the stray boots, soda cans, and books nesting in the plush carpet. The taste the dream had left in his mouth didn’t hold out against toothpaste and a thorough tongue scrubbing. That feeling though, the hole in the back of his head feeling, lingered like the yellow of a healing bruise. He spit into the sink, and rinsed his mouth.

Sam didn’t bother staring morosely at himself in the mirror. He tried to save that for after I’m-the-chosen-vessel-of-Lucifer dreams. He dried his hands on the stringy motel towel with the conspicuous yellow tint, and went to wake Dean, who kicked him, once, deliberately high on the thigh, before rolling over.

“Bitch,” Dean said.

“Short Bitch,” Sam said, pulling on the blankets. “Get up. Castiel wants us outside bright and early.”

“Not short,” Dean grumbled into the pillow, but he got up and reached for his flask. He took a long drink of whatever was in the flask this week, and kept one eye open on Sam shifting his weight from one foot to the other by the window. “You look weird.”

Sam fiddled with the mud-toned curtains, but didn’t peek out.

“Your face,” Sam said.

Sam and Dean waited for Castiel at Bill’s Kwik-Stop. Sam warmed his hands on a coffee cup while Dean paced in front of the car, hands crooked into his front jean pockets. The sole of Dean’s left boot flapped when Dean walked, separating from the rest of the boot. They probably had enough cash to stop somewhere and buy Dean a new pair before he tripped and shot someone he shouldn’t, likely himself.

Through the plate glass window, the store clerk eyed them occasionally. Dean stopped pacing and tossed him a jaunty wave, ring glinting in the early light. The store clerk dedicated the rest of his staring to the register. Dean resumed pacing, boot sole flapping.

“Dean,” Castiel said.

Dean jolted mid-step as he came face to face with the angel.

“Castiel!” Dean stumbled back. “How many times do I have to tell you!”

For his part, Sam choked on his coffee and had to wipe the mess on his coat sleeve. Castiel looked over Dean’s shoulder at Sam propped against the Impala. Sam cut his eyes away, biting his cheek as he recalled last night’s dream. Fingertips under his chin.

“Sam,” Castiel said, lips barely moving.

“Castiel,” Sam said, directly to the pavement.

“Oh-kay.” Dean stretched the word beyond its syllables. “Now that everybody knows everybody else’s name, can we maybe talk about apocalypse stuff or do you want to gaze at my brother some more?”

Sam winced. Castiel‘s face went perfectly bland.

“I was not gazing,” Castiel said flatly. “Sam was merely located in the direction I happened to be looking with this vessel’s eyes.”

Dean didn’t know what he was saying, Sam knew, but he’d unintentionally cut close to the bone by pointing out Castiel‘s unusual concern for Sam. Even though he’d gone most of last year and some of this one alternately ignoring or bumping heads with Sam, Castiel had apparently decided they were friends without consultation. It wasn’t that Sam couldn’t use a few more friends. It was just. Something. The tension in the room whenever they were both in it, like there wasn’t enough space. They couldn’t seem to help but exist to one another as friction. It didn’t feel like friendship.

Sam did like Castiel, but that had started because of Castiel’s affection for Dean. When Castiel’s attention had narrowed, focused on Sam at times in exclusion of Dean, Sam likened that to being hit by a door that should have already been closed. It wasn’t a concern that Sam welcomed. It felt like yet another tether pulling him in yet another direction. The lack of welcome had yet to restrain Castiel. Last night’s was not the first dream of Sam’s that Castiel had been caught eavesdropping in. It was the third. Maybe more for all Sam knew, but he did know that it was the first dream in which Castiel had touched him. Naturally Dean would have picked up on the weird tug-of-war between them and tortured them about it.

“I said gazing and I meant gazing,” Dean said. “Focus Pay Attention, Cas.”

“I’m sorry,” Castiel said, twitching his attention onto Dean with visible effort. “I have very little news of Lucifer to relay to you. There are stirrings in every direction from his followers. A virgin sacrifice took place last night in his honor, but he remains silent.”

“To you guys,” Sam muttered. And, also, “Virgin Sacrifice?”

Castiel twitched again, like a miniature seizure, then stilled. Sam narrowed his eyes.

“Freaky when a guy that likes to talk that much gets quiet,” Dean said thoughtfully, then clapped his hands sharply. Castiel and Sam startled simultaneously, and Dean eyed them, before shaking his head and sauntering toward the Impala’s driver side door. “Ok, well let’s get on it. Next time maybe we can actually stop the virgin sacrifice before it happens, but until we hear about one we can proactive all over, I read something really freaky in the paper this morning. Some kids eating their hearts out over love or something, but literally.”

Sam lifted himself away from the car slowly, still lost in thought, only to find Castiel had displaced the air before him. He stood there, tie askew, hair more wild than normal. Sam stopped, pulled back, a little dizzy from reversing his momentum. He put a hand up, as if that would either catch his balance or hold Castiel at bay. Castiel snapped out, grasped Sam’s hand so tightly his fingers ached and Sam had to wince.

His temples throbbed for an instant at the connection, like an electrical current had been sent straight to the heart and brain. His ribs started to ache. He was bewildered at how this was happening. His mouth tasted like some ugly love child of coffee and dollar store mint toothpaste, his eyes were still crusty from sleep, and an angel was holding his hand like that was normal. Castiel’s eyes were odd, narrow instead of their normal wide, the dark blue chilly behind tangled lashes. Glittering darkly.

“I will not allow Lucifer near you,” Castiel said, without inflection. He released Sam’s hand and stepped back, chin slightly angled as he waited. The icy breeze tugged at Castiel’s hair, pushing the dark brown strands across his forehead. It humanized the stillness of his inhumanity, so Sam breathed out, let himself forget, again, Castiel’s sudden peculiar interest in him. It seemed to be the only thing that kept Sam from getting an ulcer again.

Sam flicked Castiel’s tie, and put the effort into a smile.

“I ain’t worried,” he said.

Castiel nodded, and opened his mouth as if he wanted to say more, but shoved his hands into his pockets instead, a deeply human motion.

“Not worried at all,” Sam lied to the air where Castiel had vanished.


*

Years ago (what felt like a hundred), Sam would have spent Valentine’s Day peering at flower displays in a journey to find the best and brightest bouquet for Jess. The love of his life. This year, this Valentine’s Day, Sam was peering at a blood-smeared floor where two would-be lovers had eaten each other to death. Ironically, they’d done this in the kitchen, by a refrigerator with a fresh ham in it. This year’s journey, for Sam, involved trying not to get body snatched by Satan. It didn’t need irony to make it suck. He could almost understand the need those two kids must have felt to consume and be consumed.

When Sam left the apartment, the sun had stopped shining. He waited for traffic to ease, then jogged across the street toward the Impala. A drop of rain hit the side of his nose just as Sam ducked inside the car. After putting the keys in the ignition, Sam hesitated to start the engine. Rain had begun a soft patter on the car roof, and to his left, in the periphery of his vision, waited a florist shop lit up warmly with lingering holiday lights. Sam swallowed, and turned toward it. The front window contained an enormous display of the reddest red roses, arranged to spell the word love.

Two young girls stopped in front of the display and gawked at it. They shoved each other playfully and ran away when it began to rain more forcefully, drenched hair swinging out behind them like a memory Sam used to have.

He had been in love, once. It was not likely to happen again.

Jerkily, Sam turned the keys in the ignition. The windshield wipers burst into motion and the radio screamed that the jig was up. An arm reached out from the passenger seat as Sam pulled into traffic, turning the volume down until the fall of the rain pinging against the car could drown the song. Sam didn’t bother looking over, navigating the dampened streets with one hand on the wheel, the other propping his head away from the window.

“You are sad,” Castiel said.

“You gonna tell me what’s wrong with you?” Sam asked. “Or just keep stalking me?

“I would like to hear about your first love.”

Sam stopped the Impala at the red light swaying back and forth on the wire, and the car began to idle noisily in impatience. Sam sighed and took his hand off the wheel to reach into his suit jacket and pull out his wallet. He fingered the creased photograph he found inside, touching his nail to the curve of Jess’s jaw. It wasn’t the best photograph: she was wearing sweat pants and a stained t-shirt too big for her. Her hair wasn’t washed. She was laughing, eyes closed, knees curling up to her stomach like that would contain her joy, hand blurred in a shooing motion at the camera. It wasn’t the best photograph of Jess, but it was Sam’s favorite. Looking at it, now, Sam loved her so hard he wanted to puke.

After a moment, he handed it to Castiel, who took it carefully, lips parted on a pale face made blue-ish by the overhanging clouds and the shadows of tall apartment buildings. Castiel’s eyes flicked to Sam’s face and just as quickly away, focusing on the photo as he brought it into the window’s light.

“That’s Jess,” Sam said.

“She is very appealing,” Castiel said.

“Yeah, that’s the truth.” Sam laughed. “Was the truth, anyway. Sure you know the story.”

“I am sorry.”

Sam took the photo back when Castiel handed it to him, and tucked it carefully away. The light turned green. He shifted gears, pulling away from the intersection with a grinding noise that made him wince and hope the Impala couldn’t actually talk to Dean like Sam occasionally expected. He chewed on the side of his mouth and barely saw the ordinary people moving on the sidewalk as he cruised by them.

“She wouldn’t even know me now,” Sam said, only half speaking to Castiel as he took the turn that would bring him back to the motel room where he had left Dean. “I’m not who she loved anymore. Or I‘m more him. I can‘t say.”

Sam risked a glance at his passenger, but Castiel’s eyes were focused forward, glazed with a different kind of seeing than visual. Sam shook his head. He didn’t know why Castiel was following him. He didn’t know why he kept talking to him, sharing these pieces of himself except that Castiel kept asking, in dreams and in reality. No one else asked, and the way things were looking, Castiel was likely to be the last person---sorta person---to hear anything good about the late Sam Winchester.

The remaining five minute drive to the motel was quiet but for the splash of the tires meeting puddles, planes of water thumping at the flanks of shiny black metal. When they pulled into the parking spot in front of Sam and Dean’s room, they sat for a moment, Sam waiting for Castiel to either pulse away or physically climb out of the car and go inside to Dean.

“Dean’s inside,” Sam prompted, when Castiel continued to imitate a statue.

Castiel turned to him, an instant of unreadable emotion on his face.

Sam blinked, and Castiel was gone. Sam went inside the fast food restaurant across the street before returning to the room, and again, did not mention to Dean the weird behavior of his best angel buddy. As Sam told Dean everything he had learned at the death scene, he admitted only to himself that a part of him was flattered by the attention. He’d been chasing after angels since he was just out of diapers. It was nice to have the reverse be true for a change.


*

A second set of lovers had committed a double suicide, forcing Sam and Dean into the morgue and in front of the grizzliest tupperware containers Betty Crocker could have imagined. A faint itch in his stomach had tried to distract Sam’s focus, an odd rhythm to his heart, but he’d settled down soon enough and stopped thinking about the man he’d passed in the hallway on the way to the morgue, the strange wetness of Sam’s mouth when he’d caught a whiff of the man’s aftershave. Next time they ate, though, he was getting a steak with his salad. Rare.

When Sam discovered the Enochian sigils on both of the hearts they were examining, the markings on his ribs seemed to burn under his skin for the moment before he shared the information with Dean. Predictably, Dean called Castiel, while Sam prodded intensely at one of the hearts (and honestly, he wasn’t sure which one), wishing they could just have one case where Castiel wasn’t sweeping onto the scene like a skinny John Travolta. Sam didn’t think it was a coincidence that the marks on his ribs burned again the moment Castiel appeared in Dean’s path.

“I’m going to hang up now,” Castiel said, into his phone.

“Right,” Dean said.

The two of them stood there awkwardly, face to face, before shutting their phones nearly in sync. In the background, Sam peered through his eyelashes at the angel and his brother, and felt a tug in his blood that had nothing to do with demon hunger. In this light, the shadows emphasized the hard edge of Castiel’s unshaven jaw, and the steel behind those blue eyes when he turned them on Sam. Sam poked the heart forcefully when Castiel’s eyes softened by a degree. Blood splattered across his chin.

“Watch where you’re squirting,” Dean warned, handing him a wipe.

Sam rubbed his chin clean and tried not to notice the hint of a smile on Castiel’s usually stern mouth. He rubbed his chin harder to keep from smiling in return, because that would be something like encouragement, and whatever this was, this following him around and making him feel good, Sam was sure it was not a good idea to encourage it.

He hadn’t seen Castiel since the shared car ride, but there had been an odd moment this afternoon while he’d been waiting his turn at the coffee island. The hairs on the back of his neck had suddenly stood up and goosebumps had broken out down Sam‘s arms. The big haired woman in front of him poured coffee into her environmentally friendly paper cup with a gurgling hiss, and even that sound seemed to crawl from Sam’s spine to his brain. Randomly, he’d begun to whistle, and a faint tingle had grown to a pleasant heat in his stomach, stretching outward in cyclical waves until his whole body was warm and he couldn’t stop himself from grinning stupidly at the back of the woman’s blindingly red head.

Still grinning, Sam had glanced around without moving, extending his eyes to the furthest reaches of his sight, then scoping out the rest of the store through the reflection of a Budweiser clock. All he’d picked up was a guy in a cowboy hat taking his time studying the bikini advertisements on the beer cooler doors, and the short, fat cashier scratching his balls. The urge to grin at everyone around him had passed by the time he left the store juggling two coffees, four ham and cheese sandwiches, and an apple. The urge to wear gloves whenever touching store money had not.

And now, here was Castiel, again, though Sam felt he was never far away.

He stared at Castiel as he handled the human heart unflinchingly, considering that he should tell Dean that he’d somehow broken their heavenly helper. He imagined the bloodshed that would follow when Dean realized Sam had fucked up again. Without meaning to, Sam flashed on the last time the Winchester brothers had shed each other’s blood, and the conversation between Dean and Castiel dimmed, coming from a distance. He was in a hotel room, spiked on power, and Dean was calling him a monster. Sam only broke out of his gruesome trance when Castiel revealed that the supernatural creature they were looking for, was…

Well.

A perfectly continent cupid. Specifically, a perfectly continent cupid gone rogue.

Naturally.

“So what do we do?” Dean asked, tugging off the apron.

Castiel looked back and forth between the brothers, then shrugged. Faint lines had appeared around his eyes after his explanation about the cherubs, and he had twice brought a hand up to his stomach and frowned more intensely than normal.

“That’s helpful,” Dean said. “Sam?”

“How to catch a cupid,” Sam mused out loud, as he struggled with the lid to the entrails container. He gave a hard push and the edges of the container crinkled under his weight. Luckily, it snapped back to the original shape when Sam stopped pressing, and the entrails only looked a little squished. He pursed his lips at the dilemma, and said, “Um, what about setting up a trap. It’s still Valentines Day, this has gotta be his favorite hunting day, maybe we can catch him in the moment?”

Dean snapped his fingers, grinning.

“This is why I keep you around,” he said, sounding, for a moment, genuinely happy.

It was not the same voice he had used to call Sam a monster.

Castiel, who had been watching Sam struggle with the evil Tupperware, abruptly displaced the air next to Sam’s hip. Sam froze when he felt Castiel’s hands overtop his own, forming to their shape. That tingle in his stomach earlier was this time a full blown sizzle. Sam hissed when Castiel’s hands pressed down.

Friction.

The lid snapped neatly onto the entrails container. Castiel’s cheek grazed Sam’s as he pulled away, and Sam tried not to move until his vision stopped doubling. Castiel had smelled vaguely of sand, or maybe volcano rock. Sam kept his hands on the lid. Dean bunched up the apron noisily, sending Sam a flat look that didn’t stop behind his eyes, and didn’t start there either.

“Thanks,” Sam rasped, then cleared his throat. He stood, and stepping around Castiel, carried the remaining body parts back to the refrigerator. He let his head hang in the cold for a moment, sightless of the dozens of organs displayed on the shelves. The sweat on his neck and upper lip caught chill and brought Sam’s temperature down to something less than enormously embarrassed. When he felt it was safe, Sam shut the refrigerator door. Turning, he found Dean glaring at Castiel, who had his back to Dean and looked very much like he was trying to make a deep, lasting connection with the wall.

“Okay, so,” Sam started, uneasy. “Where would Cupid pick to hunt?”

“I have an idea,” Castiel said, as if he’d known what to do all along. He forced a stiff little smile at Sam, and tilted his head toward the door. “Follow me.”

“Yeah, Sam,” Dean said, nasally, “follow him.”

When Castiel’s back was turned, Dean made kissy faces. Sam stuck his tongue out. Dean punched his shoulder and sent him a wide-eyed look that Sam ignored. Dean raised his eyebrows, then mockingly swooped his arms in the retreating angel’s direction.

“After you, Sam,” Dean said.

Sam’s mouth pinched up, but he followed Castiel into the hall. Castiel set a slow pace, hands tucked into the pockets of the trench coat. When Sam and Dean caught up to him and matched his stride,
it occurred to Sam that more and more Castiel was taking the slow, human way of traveling instead of jumping, zapping, or whatever it was called, to his desired destination. He wondered if it had something to do with Castiel’s stunted powers. He wondered how much strength Castiel had actually lost and if it left him as empty as Sam’s loss of powers had.



A strange growl emitted from Castiel’s stomach, and both Sam and Dean stopped walking to gawk at it. Castiel, too, looked down and put a hand over the area, gently pushing. His chin jerked up, panic written in the whites of his eyes. He sought out Sam’s gaze questioningly, and Sam stepped forward, putting a hand on Castiel’s shoulder before he could stop himself.

The cloth Sam touched was warm, the shoulder under his hand solid. Castiel leaned into it immediately, eyelashes fluttering before his eyes opened impossibly wider, trapping a reflection of Sam caught under a wave of blue. Sam got pinned by that look, and felt himself begin to flush as Castiel’s pupils expanded. A roaring began in Sam’s ears.

“Cas, what’s wrong?” Dean asked.

Castiel shook his head, lifting a palm. Sam squeezed his shoulder gently, trying more to keep himself standing under the weight of Castiel’s attention than to comfort. One of the humming fluorescent light bulbs shattered, raining them in sparks rendered somehow painless.

Castiel gasped. Sam jumped.

“I will meet you there,” Castiel said. He vanished, leaving Sam holding air.

“What the fuck,” Dean said, then, “Meet where?”

Sam shook his head, and looked from the glass pieces on the floor to the still sparking bulbs overhead, filaments exposed.

*

Cupid turned out to be a dick. In a puppy way.

After Dean nearly broke his fist on the cherub’s face, Sam realized they were back at square one with the case. They had five known victims: two couples, and an office employee, but no idea who was inciting the double murders. Naked hugging aside, Cupid turned out to be guilty of nothing more than loving love. When Castiel had reached inside Cupid’s mind, the room had shifted out of focus for a moment and Sam saw, again, a windblown Castiel standing before his door, reaching desperately toward Sam with his hands and his eyes.

This time, Sam had remembered that a small part of him had wanted to bring Castiel inside the house, inside his mind. Sam shrugged it off as Castiel confirmed Cupid was innocent. It was a useless memory. Sam was aware that he could, at times, be carnivorous in his need for affection.

After Dean stormed out, because of course there was nothing wrong with him and the whole world sucked for thinking there was, Castiel and Sam made identical faces of frustration at each other. Only Dean could get away with punching Cupid by making you concerned for him. When Sam moved to follow Dean back into the main part of the restaurant, Castiel stopped him with a single fingertip to his sleeve. Sam’s arm caught heat. He carefully angled a look at his sleeve, watching the angel’s fingers slowly unfurl until he was grasping Sam’s wrist with a full hand.

“At least there are no exploding lamps,” Sam muttered. “What’s up, Cas?”

“Are you well?” Castiel asked.

Sam shrugged. There were degrees of well. “Yeah, why?”

“Your heart,” Castiel said, eyes focusing on Sam’s tie. “It has been beating unevenly for most of today.”

Sam’s heart chose that moment to thud quickly, then trip to a near stop. Sam growled and pushed Castiel’s hand away, taking two steps to the right. Castiel’s arm landed limply at his side.

“Will you---just stop.”

Castiel stared at him with a vague misunderstanding. He looked like he wanted to smile at Sam again, but wasn’t sure if it was the right moment to do so.

“I’m not your dog, Cas,” Sam said. “You don’t need to take care of me.”

“You are my friend,” Castiel said, stretching the words out like heavy bricks being laid into a foundation. There was a question built between the words and the nails.

“Friends know when to back off.”

Castiel’s mouth parted. Sam turned his chin into his chest, letting his hair drop forward to shadow his eyes, and stepped around Castiel, not letting their bodies touch. He felt the friction anyway, but it was easily ignored. When Sam was at the hallway leading out into the restaurant, he paused to look back. He expected to find empty air, but Castiel still stood where Sam had left him, motionless, apparently staring at a storage rack. Sam sighed. He really was doomed if he couldn’t show kindness to an angel determined to watch over him.

“Hey, uh. You coming?”

Castiel looked over his shoulder. It wasn’t in Sam to turn down friendship right now, so he bit the corner of his mouth, then tried to smile.

Castiel closed his eyes, visibly shuddering as he turned his head away.

“I must go,” Castiel said. Sam blinked at the empty room, cursing, but as he moved to leave again, electricity tingled over his mouth. Sam took a steadying gulp of air and kept walking.

“Stay out of my head,” Sam warned, looking around him in the hall as if Castiel might pop out cartoonishly from some dark corner and make a grab for him. “You’re not invited, you hear me? And while you’re at it, keep your hands to yourself.”

*

The road stretches into a red pulsing horizon. Sam is walking. One foot moves past the other, touches the scorched earth. Toward the burning. It is night, or the sky has been consumed by a wolf at last, Sam is not sure. He is only a man walking on a straight road that does not curve or wind. All trees are ashes. All mountains are giants in chains. Sam has a burning cold knife in one hand. There is a rope binding his waist, reaching behind him. It tugs every now and then on his stomach but never restrains him. He has the forward momentum of a falling object. Warm rain begins to beat on his shoulders.

“Stop,” Castiel orders.

An explosion rocks the horizon. Screams ring out.

Sam looks at his hands. His fingertips gleam crimson. He must walk.

Momentum yanks him to a stop and spins him around. Dark wings extend from Castiel, a mile in each direction. He is holding the knife now. It catches the light of hell as Castiel lifts it and sets it against the rope. Sam says nothing as he watches the angel become drenched in the red rain, watches the side of his down-turned face.

“I cannot see you like this,” Castiel says, jaw clenched as he saws and saws at the rope.

Choice.

“This is unbearable to you,” Sam says. He feels nothing.

Castiel’s trench coat is molded to his vessel, rivulets of red dripping off his chin. The knife slips on the rope, leaving it undamaged. Castiel lands on his knees in the bloody mud. He lifts his face toward Sam.

“Please. Sam.”

Sam tilts his head. “Why do you care so much?”

“Your guilt is my guilt,” Castiel swears. “Your pain is my pain. I am bound.”

“Do not be so rash,” Lucifer says. “You will not interfere.”

Castiel stands, and the rope is around his waist. He begins walking toward the horizon. Lucifer watches his relentless march. Attached to his rope is a young Sam. Five, at the oldest. Young Sam looks at Lucifer as he passes, eyes too big for his small face, then stumbles forward, and begins walking again. Stumbles, then walks. Castiel’s wings swallow the horizon.

“You are a fool, brother,” Lucifer says. “He is as God. He will never love you.”

Sam woke in silence. He opened his eyes, gently, as if he had merely blinked. Dean stopped shaking his shoulder and straightened, the imprint from his pillow running from his mouth to his ear. The red light from the vacancy sign slanted over his cheekbones, the letter Y stretching to his forehead like the beginnings of yes. Sam’s teeth started to chatter.

“Yo,” Dean said, yawning. “Another body. Your turn for the morgue. I’m going back to bed. It is too wet and cold outside for this shit.”

*

Add eight suicides and nineteen overdoses to the unusual death tally. And very nearly one demon with a suit, a tie, and the heaviest briefcase Sam had ever carried. Sam held his breath as he leaned against the brick wall of the Heritage Library, waiting for the black shining metal to cut through the gray light and take him a little farther from what he had nearly done. His stomach growled obscenely.

A woman and her child passed him, the little girl’s purple and yellow Dora backpack skimming the sidewalk as she was pulled along. They walked by him like it was safe to, like he wasn’t 6 feet four inches of crazy demon bloodsucking rage. The click of the mother’s sensible high heels over wet cement stabbed Sam’s eardrums. He wanted to lift her off the ground so she was quiet. Sam knocked his head against the wall, pressing harder into the rough brick as he clicked his jaw and ground his teeth together.

He was so fucked up. He should be locked up in that asylum. He should have stayed there. What was he going to tell Dean? Sam got a flash of Dean under his hands, pushing Dean’s throat into the floor, and wrapped his arms around his middle. God. Fuck. He was gonna throw up. Bubbles in his stomach, pulling like they would rip out of him, spill his guts onto strangers walking by him with their blinders firmly attached to their heads. He’d wanted to come back to this, begged Dean for another chance on the hunt, because he had himself under control, he could handle it.

Sam laughed. It came from the wet place in the back of his throat, mucousy like a cough.

The suitcase lay on the sidewalk next to the shine of Sam’s shoes. Rain dripped from the library‘s eaves, hitting the side of the case with dull plops, before shuddering off the surface into a puddle formed by a crack in the cement. Water ran sluggishly into the gutters in front of him, taking with it leafs, gum wrappers, and cigarette butts. The knife tucked under his jacket still smelled like the demon, like misery and need, like sex in daylight made dark by the shadow of the motel roof, ass bared to the street, the seat of a kid’s tricycle under his foot, Ruby riding his thigh, teeth in his neck.

“Ha. Ha. Hear me laughing at you,” spilled from a truck radio.

Sam’s legs shook, stomach throbbing. Traffic ebbed and flowed, metal frames so easily crushed with a thought, if. If Sam were not so weak. A spiky blonde-haired guy strutted by smoking a joint, pocket chain jangling with each step. Sam pressed his hands flat to the wall. His knees wanted to get out of his legs, but he locked them, forcing his shiny shoes into a groove in the cement.

“Castiel,” he whispered. “I need---”

The roll of thunder didn’t totally mask the sound of the Impala growling around the corner. Sam lifted his head, opening his eyes. Dean didn’t bother parallel parking. He stopped in the middle of the street, forcing the red Jetta behind him to break-check with a screech of tires. Dean rolled down the window and hung out of it, leering at Sam. Relief tasted like the cold cherry slushies stolen while Dean distracted the cashier with his pouting mouth and Sam snuck out with two freezing cups against his ribs under an oversized blue sweatshirt. Dean, Sam thought, would always be to Sam what the safety tree was to a game of tag.

“Hey, Princess, how much?”

Sam smiled grimly.

As he was crossing the street, waving apologetically to the stocky woman in the blue van clutching the steering wheel and glaring at him, he saw Castiel. Over the gleaming roof of the Impala and the traffic attempting to fit between Dean’s car and the parked vehicles on the other side of the street, Sam saw him. He stopped in his tracks. Castiel had one hand touching the post of a streetlight. The red Jetta honked continuously but Sam hardly heard the racket. The constant grind of city life fell away. Everything about Castiel stood at an angle: his trench coat and tie lifted by the wind, his hair sticking out in cowlicks, flat line of lips tilted. Even the lean of his body toward the post was that of an object falling.

When their eyes met, the hook in Sam’s gut released. He huffed out a breath and stared at Castiel in amazement. He nearly laughed.

“Sometime toooodaaaaay,” Dean sing-songed, piercing the fog.

Sam jerked forward and crossed around the grill of the Impala, getting in.

“Finally,” Dean said. “What’s wrong with you.”

Since that was no more a question than usual, Sam turned back to the street. Castiel still stood there, eyes electrically blue against the gray of the buildings behind him. Sam smiled shakily, lips stretching dryly to show Castiel his teeth. Castiel dipped his head, half a nod.

Sam had prayed. And Castiel answered.

Friends, Sam thought. Okay. I get it, I’m here.

The peace Castiel had instilled in him lasted for the few hours it took to drive back to the motel, explain an edited version of his fight with the demon to Dean, avoid Dean’s worried look ten times, and have a human soul pop out of the demon’s suitcase at him. By the time Castiel appeared in their room and, eating White Castle take-out, explained that one of the Horseman, Famine, was causing the unusual deaths, Sam’s nerves had begun to fray a little. When damp washcloths no longer kept his temperature down and he could hear his heartbeat more clearly than his thoughts, he knew he was beat.

“Demon blood,” Dean said, disgusted, when Sam told him.

Sam’s head grew too heavy for his neck. He stared at the wet boot prints on the carpet.

“You gotta get him outta here,” Dean pleaded with Castiel, voice crawling at the edges with the worms of panic. “You gotta beam him to, like, Montana, anywhere but here.”

“It won’t work,” Castiel said. Sam's vision began blurring out, and he blinked repeatedly to clear it, but he could hear that Castiel was deadly serious, like he was taking the situation personally. Like he knew, first hand, what hunger was. “He’s already… infected. The hunger’s just gonna travel with him.”

Hunger. Sam’s stomach groaned, growled, wept. The muscles spasmed if he hadn’t eaten in years. Wallpaper started to peel away under his fingertips, so Sam shifted, tried not to follow the path he could see himself walking in the carpet: out the door, down the center of the road, nose held aloft to catch the scent.

“Well, then, what do we do?” Dean burst out.

“You go cut that bastard’s finger off,” Sam said.

Castiel and Dean stopped arguing to look at him. He wondered if they saw the wreck of his veins opening up like a billion hungry mouths, the strain of the door jamb as it held him to reality, Ruby’s fingernails cutting into his back as she peeked around his neck at them. The look in Dean’s eyes went on forever, down into twelve years ago, Sam’s fat lip the one time John lost his temper, John’s black eye the one time Dean lost his. Sam tried to stand the weight of that gaze, the history, the love. Ruby’s hoarse cries faded from his ears as he tried to make his feet belong to his ankles. He owed Dean more than this messy kid in a man’s body.

“Lock me up,” he ordered, body already straining as if trying to get free.

*

“May I have a moment with him?” Sam heard Castiel say from behind Dean’s shoulder.

Seated on the cold bathroom tiles, Dean crouched over Sam about to handcuff him to the sink, both brothers turned to look at the angel in the doorway. Castiel held the White Castle bag, still chewing. A little human, after all. Dean turned back to Sam, one eyebrow inclined. Sam, eyes stinging from drops of sweat, nodded. He pushed his hair off his forehead as Dean stood, edging by an unmoving Castiel. Sam leaned his head against the sink, waiting. The porcelain felt frozen to his burning skin. Castiel stepped forward, shutting the bathroom door behind him without touching it.

“Uh,” Dean said loudly from the motel room. “No.”

“It is okay,” Castiel said, pitching his voice to be heard through the wood. His focus never left Sam’s long body tucked in on itself. “Sam will not hurt me.”

“You’re becoming a freak,” Dean said back. “Just so you know!”

Sam craned his head back to watch as Castiel stepped gracefully over mold and Sam’s bent knees. He put the toilet seat down with a wave of his hand, then sat on it, facing the door, trench coat fanning out and settling around the toilet like wings. Another burger miraculously appeared from within the bag.

“This is so bizarre,” Sam said, as Castiel opened his mouth wide and took a bite.

I am sitting on the floor of a random motel bathroom, he thought, about to get handcuffed to a sink by my brother so I don’t vamp out, and I’m being kept company by an angel, on a toilet, eating way too many carbs.

“I like the pickles,” Castiel mumbled, showing Sam a mouthful of masticated ketchup, bread, and meat. And something green that wasn’t quite lettuce. “Also, the cheese.”

“Did you have anything to say?” Sam prodded, losing his patience as fast as he was losing his mind. “Or were you just trying to hide that burger from Dean?”

Castiel straightened and stopped chewing.

“Oh! Yes, I apologize. This vessel’s hunger is getting the best of me, I’m afraid.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Sam said, waving at Castiel to continue, the handcuffs dangling from his wrist.

Castiel finished chewing, then with a look of faint regret returned the unfinished burger to its wrapper and set the meal aside. Sam stared up at him from the floor. Castiel placed his hands on his lap, palms face up, fingers curling inward. He spoke without looking at Sam, and his tone vibrated in Sam‘s own mouth, tickled his tongue.

“You know I have been… involved… in your dreams,” Castiel said.

Sam nodded carefully. His stomach started to clench up with something other than hunger. The sweat under his arms and on the back of his thighs cooled instantly.

“I thought we weren’t talking about that,” Sam said.

“That was another clue,” Castiel continued, ignoring Sam’s plea. He turned and showed Sam the strain of the skin over the bones in his face. The top two buttons of his shirt had come undone at some point, and a tuft of chest hair peeked out. Sam’s thoughts grew sluggish, dislocated to a place where he was in this bathroom with Castiel, but also in this bathroom with a man. “Jimmy’s body still hungers for food. I, myself, have other hungers.”

“I’m not sure what---” Sam shook his head, wincing when he knocked it against the porcelain sink. “Do angels even have souls?”

Castiel’s body seemed to expand, prickling outward.

“All of God’s creatures were gifted with souls!” Castiel said tensely, voice raised.

“Oh, don’t get offended,” Sam said, putting his hands to the floor and pushing himself to his knees. Castiel grabbed his face with both hands, thumbs pressing hard into Sam’s cheekbone, fingers threading into his unwashed hair. Like the dream. Sam froze, didn’t even breathe. Castiel glared almost angrily at him. Sam stayed like that, on his knees at Castiel’s feet, stomach resting against Castiel’s knees. Gravity couldn’t reach him in Castiel’s hold. Sam was prone. Vulnerable. He felt as weak as an infant on his belly attempting to crawl.

“You will not ever understand,” Castiel said, words evenly spaced, “the depth of my hunger to be near you always. God must will it so, for me to desire it so ardently.”

His breath smelled like onions, Sam thought wildly. He chuckled, snorting.

“This is not even happening,” Sam said, still laughing.

Castiel’s eyes roved his face. He made an aborted motion forward, then stopped, pressing his lips together until white lines appeared around them. His eyelashes were like streaks of coal. A man built for burning, Sam thought, and realized that he was still holding his breath. He let it out in a gust, over Castiel’s mouth, and Castiel’s eyes fluttered shut. Castiel leaned forward again, farther this time, unshaven jaw scraping Sam’s chin as Sam let Castiel give him the softest, stillest kiss he had ever received.

Castiel withdrew almost immediately, eyes squeezed tightly shut.

“I am afraid to look at you,” Castiel whispered, too honest.

“Me, too,” Sam said. His ears buzzed. He was sweating again.

Dean knocked on the door, sharply, then opened it. He found them standing on opposite sides of the room, Sam all but in the tub as he clutched the shower curtain, Castiel barricaded by a toilet.

“Time’s up,” Dean said, suspiciously. “Gotta train to catch.”

“Actually, Dean,” Castiel started.

“We need to sever the finger of a guy called Famine,” Dean said. “I know. It’s a joke.”

Castiel looked at Sam, then at Dean, frowning. The White Castle bag crinkled as he picked it up and opened it, reaching inside. Sam’s heart was thundering in his ears again. He didn’t know what he wanted, exactly, blood probably, maybe another kiss, but the plastic in his hands was beginning to tear. He wanted to crawl up the walls and perch on the ceiling and laugh at his brother. Hunger came from the body, and hunger came from the soul. Sam’s hunger came from both.

“If you take one more bite before we leave this room, I am cutting you off,” Dean was saying, making a grab for the bag. Owl-eyed, Castiel held the bag out Dean’s reach. “What the, you are not that tall, how are you doing that?”

“Um, guys?” Sam interrupted. “Better lock me up now.”

A drop of sweat rolled down Sam’s spine as they looked at him in unison, Castiel still holding the White Castle bag aloft, Dean still making grabby hands.

This is my life, Sam thought, don’t let me fuck it up.

*

After. After the blood, flesh torn by teeth, after finding out Famine’s location and killing the other demon anyway, stalking through the city streets openly with blood leaking from his chin, after finding Castiel weakened by his hunger, and Dean held victim by Famine’s army, after exorcising a dozen demons with barely a thought to focus, after the tremble of power in his limbs, after Dean stared at him so sadly while Sam watched Famine’s body decay and collapse, after Dean sat on a bar stool next to a fly-infested body and put his head in his hands, after Castiel stood and came to Sam and wiped the blood off Sam’s mouth with fingers that smelled like meat. After.

He still hungered.

“You will survive,” Castiel told him, daring to stand too close. He put a hand to his own chest as if making a pledge. Sam laughed and laughed, until he started coughing and his knees unlocked, sending him crashing to the floor. Castiel caught him effortlessly, with not even a reflexive step back, like Sam was a doll instead of two hundred pounds of barely leashed needs. He hefted Sam’s arm around his shoulder and turned them toward the door. He smelled like the forest in autumn, like leafs aging, falling, and being crushed under the weight of snow. Sam let his head hang down as Castiel dragged him past the drunken spill of dead flesh. He could eat and eat and never be full. He would be hungry forever.

“You’re gonna have to use all you got,” Sam said. “Chains, ropes, your fricken hands. I don’t know how long before I lose it again.”

“Yes,” Castiel said, opening the door and looking straight ahead.

“I’m so fucked up,” Sam moaned. “Shoulda let Anna have me.”

“Shh.”

Castiel pulled him to the car and unlocked the puzzle of their limbs to nudge him through the door and into the back seat. His trench coat billowed out over their bodies as he leaned in and put his palm over Sam’s eyes, shutting them. He pressed his cheek gently to Sam’s forehead. Sam breathed him in, fingers flying over the front of Castiel’s body, searching for a hold. Castiel allowed it for a long time, breathing needlessly into Sam’s hair, body humanly warm and gaining heat as they maintained contact. And when he pulled away, Sam whined, heart beating so hard in his chest it shook his body. He kept his eyes closed, trying not to shake apart. Already, so soon, he needed it. His veins opened up, feeding him power and eating his power in an unending loop that bruised his organs and hammered his joints. His mouth opened in a gasp, his limbs waved ungainly as he tried to find his balance on a seat that wasn‘t moving.

“Fuck,” he said, and again. “Fuck. Fuck.”

Warm fabric draped over him, and Sam slit his eyes. Castiel was shutting the door, his expression solemn, eyes hidden by the gleam of a streetlight on the glass of the window. Sam tried to move, but he discovered that he had been bound by rope and chain, if not by hand. He managed to get his cuffed hands around the fabric of Castiel’s trench coat. Seams popped in one of the sleeves as hunger took him under, to that place where Jess was sitting on his belly, weeping on him as her hair burned away between his fingers.

Sam screamed.

In that other world, the world Sam had just left, Castiel was forced to ignore Sam’s screams in order to cajole an unresponsive Dean from the diner stool. Dean stumbled when he stood, and looked blankly at Castiel, bruises already forming on his temple. Castiel led him, with a hand firm on Dean‘s unresisting back, out of the stench of blood and into the wet night air.

From the distance of the diner, Castiel saw Sam kick the Impala’s windshield with his bound feet.

Glass shattered onto the street. Dean didn’t react.

Grimly, Castiel lifted a hand. The glass raised off the ground and seared back into shape within the window frame. Sam’s boots came up again. Castiel turned his hand slightly, and angled his chin, and Sam was stilled, feet falling limply away from the window. Dean stood next to him, swaying. Castiel led him to the passenger side of the vehicle, and opened the door. When Dean didn’t move forward, Castiel pushed him into the seat, bending Dean’s legs into position. Sam was whimpering, Castiel knew, but he kept the thought away from his consciousness. He was ashamed, but he could not bear it.

In that other world, the world Sam was not currently in, Castiel awkwardly climbed behind the steering wheel, and tried to remember how to work the clutch. Failing that, he placed his hand on the dash and the vehicle stirred slowly to life as if being woken from a deep slumber. The wipers came on, slashing rain away from the windshield. Music played. The seat vibrated under him. In this world, Castiel’s world, where Castiel had realized he was in love with Sam Winchester, the brother of Castiel’s human friend, he looked into the rear view mirror, and saw a specimen of the human male: weak, young, bloodstained, prone to sin and cursed to die for it.

“Jess,” Sam moaned, throat reaching to the sky. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“Do not be sorry, Sam Winchester,” Castiel said. His tongue still tasted like flesh of the beast. “It is not only your fault.”

Castiel put his hands on the wheel, and he drove.

*End*



Feedback would be wonderful. It's been a long time since I wrote something, so I'm chomping on the bit to get a response.

*goes to read*

You could post it in the sam_castiel community
http://community.livejournal.com/sam_castiel/

I just finished and it was awesome, but I don't think Sam feels the same way about Castiel. *sigh* It is a dificult situation. Btw, very in character!. I loved it to the core.

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It could be epic love, I think, if only it were to happen ;)

... and whatever this was, this following him around and making him feel good, Sam was sure it was not a good idea to encourage it.


wow. wow, that was gut-wrenching & awesome. i absolutely loved it!
i haven't seen the episodes (& i'm not planning to watch them any time soon), but this was still a wonderful read - i love how you managed to capture their relationship & hunger... so different, yet so alike. so so good! oh sam/castiel, i don't even know why i still have such a weak spot for this pairing, *happy sigh*

(you should definitely write more! *pokes you*)

They reall are so different, but they have both experienced a fall from grace, the search for a father, the trouble with their brothers, etc. I just. I don't know. I wrote this because I wanted to explain my thoughts on them, almost. I wanted to show people what I saw, why there was such emphasis on their handshake, how important it is that there is such tension between them... that friction comment, I wrote, that's exactly what I think of them. Put them in a room together, and shift their focus minutely away from Dean and it's... sparks. I love it. Thank you for reading!

I have so so so so so much love for this. There needs to be more Sam/Castiel in the world and this was just so wonderful and IC and loooooove.

Thank you!! I'm glad you read it and enjoyed it. I, too, agree that there needs to be more Sam/Castiel in the world. There wasn't enough to satisfy me, so I had to write it myself! I hate doing that! LOL.

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Thank you so much! I'm glad you chanced reading it :)

Wow. This is amazing; intense, intricate, and just so very awesome.

Thank you for writing.

Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. It's very much appreciated!

Beautiful. This weaved in and around and with so episode in such a brilliant way.

Thank you! I've never actually done an episode fic before. It was... different. Always a choice of how much of the episode to include to make it flow, but not so much as to be redundant.

I really loved this, its intensity was wonderful!

I could not stop reading your story once I started! I loved the imagery, the character voices, and the atmosphere.

That's awesome to hear! I'm glad you liked it, hun :)

...omg. you have no idea how much I love you right now. I have been looking and look and looking for a fic like this for what seems like FOREVER. I absolutely adore you right now (even more so since I now realize you're the one who made House Inside of You and Lovestoned. ♥)

I'd have to say my absolute favorite thing about this fic is that it's so awkward, but at the same time the writing flows seamlessly. I just have a hard time buying the fics where Sam is right there and ready for love when he hates himself so much in s5 or the fics where Castiel knows what he's doing even though he stumbles through everything else (ie: sees cellphones as redundant, doesn't like using doors, etc.)

So yes, I was happy to see Castiel confused and trying to understand while Sam just kept trying to get away from something that'd make him feel good.

*happy flail* The fandom needs more of this. It does. Thank you so much for sticking with this fic!

... I think I have some idea, because I love this comment. Yep, I made those videos too, because I'm primarily a vidder, though I think some of my interest in writing as returned with odd insistence. I think Sam would fight tooth and nail not to fall in love again, though a part of him sorta longs for it. I've carried around this thought of him for a while, the realization he must have had that he is not likely to live long enough to love again, and how wrenching that must be for someone who feels everything so deeply.

And Castiel... man, I think sometimes he comes across too innocent and holy in some fics. I think that's definitely part of it, but if you watch the show, you know that he's got some dark and sharp edges, and that's why I find it natural to write him as confused (the innocent, unexperienced, vaguely relucant lover) but ultimately out to take (because he has ambition, man, and he will CUT YOU) whatever he can get. The way he's been talking about Sam lately, as if... well, as if Sam is kinda his territory? Yes, please.

Thank you for commenting!

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I really wish there was more fic. I'm pushing for it lately. I really want to read it. Aw, to love a rare pairing. It's painful. ;)

Oh that was lovely...and painful...and lovely :)

Aw, thank you. That means a lot coming from you, I appreciate it.


This was positively gorgeous, from Sam's bewilderment at Castiel's actions to his dawning knowledge that Cas is his friend and has deep feelings for him. Also, the ending was so heartbreaking, in that Castiel had to care for both Winchesters, while dealing with his emotions regarding Sam. My favorite part, though, was the discussion about Jessica. :)

It was really important to me to not neglect other relationships, so I thought a good way to portray that would be A. Dean's concern for Sam, and B. Castiel taking over at the end, caring for his friend and his would-be romantic interest. Thank you for responding!

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