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A Cardinal Affair

By shinigami_yumi

Adventure / Romance

Chapter 1: You Don't Know You're Beautiful

Sam's eyes were still a little puffy when he arrived in Palo Alto, but he justified it with having rubbed them too much on the bus and the sudden glare of warm California sunshine. He supposed he'd expected Dean to take his side, even after all the initial fighting, but in the end, his brother had only stood by in silent grief as he slammed the door on his family and ran to the bus station without looking back. In hindsight, he should have known better: Dean had never stood up to their father before; why would he start now? He’d been really upset when he first heard of Sam’s plans to leave, too. Once registrations were complete though, he felt cheered. Stanford is beautiful as he walks through it, all sandstone and red tile, oak trees and wide open spaces, bustling with students moving in and families helping out.

He catches himself.

No, he can do this on his own. He‘ll get his law degree and prove to them that they can have something outside the family business. There's more to life than hunting and revenge, and they can have that if they choose, but he wants something better, and he's going to show Dean it's possible.

Armed with a map of campus, he finds Lagunita Court easily enough. It’s a lovely complex overlooking Lake Lagunita, which still has some water in it. By the time he reaches his small room on the second floor of Granada, it appears that his roommate has already arrived, if the boxes scattered about the floor are any indication. The guy himself is nowhere to be found, however, so Sam sets to unpacking his few belongings from his knapsack and duffle bag into the wardrobe chosen for him before flopping back on the mattress tiredly.

Just then, the key turns in the lock, and it takes some effort to sit up calmly like a normal person instead of jumping for a weapon. The newcomer, presumably his roommate for the year, pauses in surprise as he sees Sam, then quickly breaks into a friendly smile.

"My new roommate, I gather?" he opens, shifting the box in his arms to lock the door behind him. "Hi. I'm Misha." He sets the box down and offers his hand.

"Yup. That's me." Sam shakes it. "I‘m Sam."

"Any idea what you're studying yet?"

"I’m not sure yet, but I was thinking of law school, so probably public policy."

"Yeah?" Misha grins; he has a lovely smile and the bluest eyes Sam's ever seen. "Me too, but sociology." He still hasn't let go after the earlier handshake; he has nice hands, and his shoulder-length chestnut hair is tied up in a ponytail with a tacky pink rubber band. "And I was just wondering how to loft my bed by myself, but now that you're here, how about we work on both our beds together? I just got the materials from Housing."

"Oh, uh... I'd rather not loft mine. It's not like I have much stuff, and I don't like the climb."

Misha visibly deflates, as if he expects Sam to refuse to help simply because he doesn't also benefit, and Sam realizes at once that it feels a lot like letting down the favorite toddler nephew he never had.

"But I'll help you with yours," he adds quickly, standing. "I don't know how though."

The other brightens enough to proverbially light up the room. "Great! I do, so no worries. Just follow my instructions, and we'll get it done in no time." They set to work dismantling the bed frame, and Misha asks, "Is your family dropping by tomorrow with the rest of your stuff?"

Sam smiles thinly and hesitates before answering, "No, I've got everything. No one's coming."

Fortunately, Misha is too busy working on the bed frame to notice his expression and continues talking. "Oh. And here I was thinking I’d be the only one here that came alone. My mother really wanted to come, but she couldn't get off work, and she can't afford to not work all the shifts and hours she can get anyway. Okay, now we need to join these two pieces." They do, and then Misha has Sam hold the pieces in place as he puts in the screws. "Also, she wasn't so happy that she barely saw me over the last few months because I got that grant to spend it on this volunteer program in Nepal and Tibet, which was really cool. I had trouble breathing the first few days, but fortunately, I got used to it." Misha moves to the other side to continue working. "Anyway, people live such simple lives there. It made me feel so thankful for all the things we take for granted, though. And we learned that tourism and handicrafts were huge contributors to their economy, so I felt bad that I couldn't afford to buy more souvenirs, but..." He pauses to clamber over to a well-worn bag and dig out a wooden box. "I did get this set of eight tsaklis and these little Nepalese puppets. And two rugs that I'll show you later."

The box is painted blue with red geometric shapes on it and tied shut with a yellow braided cord. "Did it come with the box?" Sam asks as he unwinds the cord and opens it to find eight Buddhist paintings on small pieces of cloth affixed to little wooden sticks. Secretly, he's a bit worried that they may be cursed, but probably not if they're mass-produced for souvenir shops. The puppets are tiny, but made with heartfelt attention to detail, and there are a dozen of them, all wearing what look to be traditional costumes.

"Ah, no, I had to make the box myself because it didn't seem right for them not to have their own box."

He shuts the lid to take a better look at the wooden box. It's very well made. "You made this?" He looks up at his roommate, astonished.

Misha moves to put the screws into a different joint. "Yeah, I apprenticed with a carpenter throughout high school. It covered my expenses, and I learned a lot. I just got a job working part-time at a company nearby. The owner is a friend of my last boss, so he got me the job when he heard I was moving out here."

"Oh wow, that's really cool. It's a very nice box."

"T—Thanks. Um. Now we need to move these into position."

Sam puts the box back into the bag before going over to help.

"Yes. Right here. Now, if you'd just hold this...?" Misha continues talking as he works. "Anyway, I caught a glimpse of the Dalai Lama too as I was walking through Lhasa one day, but I didn't get to meet him. Did you know Tibet’s the most underdeveloped area in China? They're dependent on the Chinese government for ninety percent of their expenditure. And then in Kathmandu, as we’re walking around, these kids would run up to you and ask for alms, only they weren’t asking for money; they wanted things they could use like pencils and notebooks. And I just... Someday, I want to start some huge charity drive for them. I spent every spare moment at the monasteries. I find meditation very restorative. You should try it someday. The food's mostly okay, very Indian in Nepal if you’ve had that, but did you know they drink tea with salt and yak butter in Tibet?" Misha makes a face. "Doesn't sit well with my stomach. The first time I tried it, I was in the bathroom for hours and— Oops." He stops, turning to look at Sam sheepishly. "Sorry. People tell me I overshare. Hope I haven't made you uncomfortable."

"What?" Sam blinks. "Oh, no, no." It must be nice, being able to talk so freely about oneself without being declared delusional. "Keep going. I don't mind at all. You're very interesting."

"Oh. Oh good. I guess that's one way of putting it."

"What's the other way of putting it?" Sam asks as they move on to joining the next two pieces.

Misha smiles, almost shyly, and it's impossibly charming. "I believe the accepted vernacular is weird."

Sam squares his shoulders. "Well, I think you're a great person, and maybe people just don't like that you make them feel worse about themselves in comparison," he declares firmly.

Misha laughs, blue eyes twinkling. "Defending me already?" His expression grows fond. "You remind me of Vicki, my best friend. She said something like that too. Only she's pretty wacky herself, so I'd say her benchmarks are all biased, yeah?" He grins again. "Anyway, residential dining hasn't started yet, so when we're done here, let's go grab dinner. Where did you say you were from again?"

"I didn't. Lawrence, Kansas."

"Boston, Massachusetts. Well, I‘m sure you'll like that café anyway. Everything they serve is good. And you can tell me all about yourself, so I don't feel like I'm always the only one talking."

Sam chuckles nervously. "Nah, my story's pretty boring in comparison." What I can tell you of it, anyway. If Misha is weird, then Sam is quite sure his own life is batshit fucking insane.

"Well, tell me anyway and let me be the judge. And if you're done before dinner's over, we can always move on to ground rules."

"Yeah," Sam agrees, smiling. Stanford is going to be great. Normal is going to be great. He can feel it. And he already has the coolest roommate in the world. It's going to be an amazing four years.

As it turns out, Misha has a car, a blue sedan with a grey upholstered interior he’s had since he started driving. It’s nothing Dean would swoon over, even had he place in his heart for any car besides the Impala, but it’s well maintained and has good mileage for its age. Sam thinks it could have come right out of Singer Salvage.

“When I can afford it, I’d like to switch to a hybrid. More eco-friendly and better mileage,” Misha says as they get in. When he realized that Sam had been completely serious about having nothing he hadn’t already unpacked, Misha insisted on making a supply run to the nearest Target. “Most of the stuff will probably be somewhat cheaper at Wal-Mart, but we shouldn’t buy from them. They support all the wrong things,” he adds by way of explanation over the fifteen-minute drive.

They make it to the cashier, soon to be about two hundred dollars poorer, and while standing in line, Sam digs into the side pocket of his knapsack for the extra cash he’d been saving up for when he got here. Finding it, he slips it into his wallet, pulling out two Benjamins before pocketing it.

“Hey, I think you dropped this,” Misha says beside him, reaching under the cart to pick something up.

When the other stands, Sam sees it’s his old rosary. He’s surprised by the relief he feels when the silver cross doesn’t burn where it touches Misha’s skin. He hadn’t even realized he’d suspected his roommate of being any number of non-humans in disguise.

“Are you religious?” the other asks, running his thumb over the effigies with what seems like fondness.

He pauses to think before answering. While he does pray every night, he’s no churchgoer, and he certainly doesn’t know any part of Scripture that doesn’t help in slaying evil beings. “Not particularly,” he decides at last. Not in the traditional sense of the word, at least. “It’s a gift from an old family friend.” Pastor Jim gave it to him long ago, and he doesn’t even use it to pray; he kept it around for making holy water.

“Yeah, me neither,” Misha says as they reach their turn. “I think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re kind to everyone.”

“Yeah, I can get behind that,” their cashier —Rachael, says the nametag— chimes in with a smile as she rings them up. “If only more people lived by that philosophy.”

Sam smiles as he pays, while Misha begins bagging their purchases in the reusable shopping bags he brought, and wonders how he ever thought his roommate might be a monster. He needs to stop thinking like that, like a paranoid hunter. Like Dad. He shakes himself. This is normal. He needs to start acting like it.

Like any new Stanfordite, Misha had no idea who his roommate would be until he returned from his trip to check out lofting materials. He’d never minded being too weird for most of his peers, but he’d also never had to live with any of them, and he had to admit that not knowing what to expect made him a little nervous. He certainly, however, hadn’t expected a giant puppy —for that was the only word he could think of to describe Sam’s combination of pettably messy hair, dewy olive green eyes and endearing, shy smile— much less one who liked him from the start. Not tolerated, not accepted, but actually, honestly liked him.

As vague details of the story came out over dinner, (he didn’t press much because Sam obviously didn’t really want to talk about it) he figured out that Stanford was Sam’s home now, for better or worse, since his father said not to come back if he left. Sam’s family also moved around a lot, so he’d never really lived in Lawrence, and a family friend’s salvage yard in South Dakota was the closest thing he knew of to a home. He had to say he was surprised the sasquatch wasn’t at Stanford under the athletics program for basketball and also impressed that Sam had gotten a full ride here after a lifetime of moving from school to school. He didn’t know what the family business was, or why Sam seemed constantly worried that someone or something might jump out of nowhere to attack him at any moment, but he was pretty sure he couldn’t handle a family that would disown him for wanting to choose his own path in life. He’s really close to his mother, and she’d always been a fount of unconventional ideas and unconditional love in his life.

Now, at the end of orientation, he’s also positive Sam is his new favorite person — sob story, secrets and all. Stepping out takes courage, getting into Stanford takes brains, but above all, Sam is kind, and it shows in his every action — no matter his own situation, Sam will always try to help someone else in need. Add that to the way he tries make their room feel like home, which it now is to him, and Sam’s the Emerald City to Misha’s yellow brick road in finding the ideal person to live with. It’s obvious from how often the name ‘Dean’ pops up that Sam was very close to his older brother and misses him terribly. But Dean not taking his side in the final family drama is also clearly still a sore point, so Misha chooses not to point out that there’s this thing called a phone.

They’re back in their room now that he’s owned Sam at Twister after being soundly defeated at Cranium, when he decides to bring one last thing up. “Oh, just so there are no surprises, I should probably mention that I’m pansexual.”

Sam rinses his mouth as he finishes brushing his teeth at the sink and spits the water out before answering, “Well, you do seem the type,” with a grin.

Misha scowls. “Hey. What’s that supposed to mean?”

Laughing as he wipes his face with a towel, Sam jokes, “Unusual people have unusual tastes?”

“Oh, so you do think I’m weird!” He pokes Sam in the chest with a finger. “I’ll have you know—”

“That you won’t be bringing any creepers home?” Sam continues teasing, catching hold of Misha’s hands.

“That they’re not creepers, you ass.”

Despite that, it’s clear Sam is unfazed, and Misha doesn’t expect the relief that washes over him. He’s not used to caring what others think of that, and he wasn’t expecting Sam to mind, even if the sasquatch does come off pretty all-American hetero, from the way he was checking out only the girls earlier, but... it’s nice not even needing to explain it for once.

He twists his hands out of Sam’s grip and finally gives in to his weeklong temptation to vigorously ruffle the other’s soft brown hair like he would the fur of a particularly shaggy dog. And when Sam picks him up after he’s ignored the other’s repeated protests and threatens to throw him out the window, it feels like everything is right with the world, and Misha thinks it’s the perfect start to a great year.

"Hey," Misha greets Sam from his desk as Sam walks into their room.

Sam smiles tiredly as he drops his bag and flops back on his bed. "Hey." He has barely seen his roommate all week, between classes and work, and he's starting to doubt he can really do this many units at once.

"You up for dinner, or do you want me to grab you something?"

Misha really is every bit the sweetheart Sam met that first day, however, and after the slew of roommate horror stories he’s heard, he's truly glad to have found a good friend in his. He sits up.

"Yeah, I'll come with you. I haven't seen you since classes started."

Fighting his exhaustion is worth it for the way Misha lights up. "Great! Just at Lakeside, nice and near. How many units are you doing this quarter anyway?"

"Eighteen," he answers as they start walking down.

"Oh God, you are crazy." Misha slaps him on the shoulder, and he jumps a little because no one but Dean has ever been so physically affectionate with him. He’s noticed that Misha is a very tactile person. He doesn’t mind though; it just takes a little getting used to. "Guess it's up to me to remind you that there's a life out there, huh? Actually, I might even have to keep you alive."

Sam smiles gratefully. “I’m starting to think the reality is just going to be you bringing me coffee every night."

Misha grins as they step out into the cool evening air. "I can do that."

Sam has made some new friends in his classes, and true to Misha’s word, Brady, Aaron and Sandra all think his roommate is pretty weird. They did laugh at Misha’s comical impressions of his professors’ antics in various very accurate accents though. Misha doesn’t like Brady, and the feeling might be mutual. On the other hand, Sam’s also met Vicki, Erin and Toby, and he doesn’t like Erin, so he figures they’re even. He also sprinkled holy water on them all before sharply reminding himself that he doesn’t have to do that here, that he really needs to stop doing that here. Normal, he tells himself, starts with you.

As he walks out of class into the early afternoon sun, he takes out his cell phone to call Misha. He has about an hour and a half before his next class. The dinner was two weeks ago, and he hasn’t seen his roommate since. Whenever he gets back from work, group meetings or class, Misha is always either out or already asleep.

“Sam!” Misha’s voice is cheery over the line. “What’s up?”

“Want to get lunch? I have ninety minutes.”

“You have no idea how much I’d rather be having lunch with you than waiting for my turn in this hall.”

“Your turn for?”

“Auditions. TAPS plays. I tried my hand at acting once before I moved here, and it was fun, so I thought I’d try some stage. I heard it’s really different, and I could use the practice and experience.”

Acting? He’s starting to wonder if there’s anything Misha doesn’t do. “Where are they?”

“The Nitery.” That’s not far.

“Well, have you eaten? I could grab sandwiches and come meet you.”

“Oh, Sam!” Misha gasps in an overly dramatic impression of a love-struck teenager. “You must be an angel!”

It takes some effort to stop laughing long enough to ask, “Okay, okay, what do you want?”

“Roast chicken and bacon, pepper jack cheese, all the vegetables and honey mustard. Could you have them toast my peppers and onions too? Oh, and get one for Vicki? She’s here keeping me sane. The same but in a spinach wrap with no bacon and Italian dressing instead.”

When he’s gotten the three sandwiches, he makes his way over to the Nitery to find a crowd waiting outside the theater doors. Misha waves him over excitedly and makes a kissy face at him when he hands over the sandwich. He also passes Vicki her wrap, and she thanks him before returning her attention to her gender studies book. He’s barely sat down beside Misha when a thin blonde steps out of the theater and calls for a “Mister... Dmitri Tippens Krushnic?”

Vicki slaps a hand over her mouth to muffle her giggles, and he blinks as everyone looks around the room.

“Wow,” he remarks quietly, taking out his own sandwich. “That name exists? Dmitri Krushnic? No, wait, Tippens Krushnic? Really?”

Vicki dissolves into more hysterical giggling even as Misha stands up.

Misha Collins, damn it,” he corrects sullenly, dropping his unopened sandwich in Sam’s lap before picking his way across the room. “I am changing it on all official records as soon as this quarter is over. Vicki, stop laughing.”

Sam turns to Vicki. “Seriously?”

She’s laughing too hard to do much more than nod in reply. Misha. Dmitri Tippens Krushnic. He bursts out laughing too, and Misha turns to glare at him. It only makes him laugh more.

“Don’t worry,” Vicki says breathlessly when she can finally speak again. “Just... distract him with llamas.”

Sam likes working in the library. It’s quiet, the hours are nice, and he can study when it’s slow, as he’s doing now. If the rest of his shift goes on like this, he’ll be done with the week’s assigned reading for his Law and Public Policy class by the end of it, and then he can turn in early and feel more energized for his biweekly morning run with Misha. It’s an easy way to both work out and spend time together, and they usually end it with some fountain hopping and breakfast. Just as he’s wishing he’ll be left relatively undisturbed for the next two hours, someone comes up to the desk.

“Hey there, big boy~”

He doesn’t have to look up to know it’s his best friend, here to troll him in a rare visit to the library. When he does look up, he takes in Misha’s cheery outfit —jeans paired with a navy hoodie over a bright orange T-shirt and equally bright orange tennis shoes— and plays along with his best saucy grin.

“And just how may I help you today, handsome?”

His roommate leans in closer to whisper conspiratorially, “Well, see, I’ve got this crush on one of the librarians working here? He’s really hot and about yay tall;” he indicates approximately six inches taller than him with one hand, “and really smart;” he bats his eyelashes flirtatiously, “and I was just wondering if you knew when his shift ends so I could stalk him to his room?”

Sam snorts and swats Misha on the shoulder. “Now that’s just creepy. What are you doing here anyway?”

“Flirting with the hot librarian in hopes he’ll locate my research materials for me?” Blue eyes turn hopeful.

Sam rolls his eyes and holds out his hand. “Give me the list.”

Misha’s grin widens with delight as he hands over the crumpled note. “Oh, you are the best.”

Once he’s looked up all the materials on the system, Sam stands. “So you want to come with or wait here?”

Misha falls into step beside him. “Seriously, what time do you get done here tonight?”

“Ten,” he replies, turning left as he reaches the right row of shelves to find the first book.

“I should be done with these around then too. Come find me in the reading room when you’re done?”

He grins. “Sure. Let’s grab a bite at TAP on the way back too. I didn’t have time for dinner earlier.”

“You sure you’ll last that long?”

“Yup.” He hands Misha a hefty tome on the list. “Because you’re doing the heavy lifting.”

Burgers, salads and smoothies later, they’re walking back to West Lag when they hear a boy apologizing profusely. “Look, guys, I’m so sorry I forgot. It’s just... been a long week, okay? I’m sorry! I swear I’ll make it up to you. It’s just one quiz. Prof says he’ll drop two. I won’t forget again, I swear!”

“That’s supposed to be for the two lowest that aren’t zeroes, you ninny. What do we have you for?” One of the two bigger guys pulls his fist back, and Sam catches his wrist before he can punch.

“How about you two do your own work for a change?” It’s hard to believe there are still Dirks and Barrys at a place like Stanford, but maybe not everyone grows up by the time they reach university.

“And what’s it to you?” the other bully asks as both brutes round on him.

Sam squares his shoulders and straightens; at his full height, he has about two inches on them both. They’re bulkier, but he’s going to bet they haven’t been raised fighting superhuman monsters. “Just can’t stand the sight of you lazy jerks trying to ditch classes by making someone else do the hard work.”

“Oh yeah? Well, I just can’t stand the sight of your face.”

The first guy takes a swipe, but Sam ducks and elbows him in the gut before dodging the second guy’s punch and sending him sprawling with a kick to the back of the knees. The first backs away, doubled over, as the second picks himself up. Realizing they are well and truly outmatched, they take off, shouting over their shoulders that they’ll remember this. Once he’s made sure they’re most definitely not coming back, Sam turns to find Misha coming over with the other kid.

“You’re a ninja, aren’t you? Secretly?” Misha demands, blue eyes glinting.

Sam laughs. “What? No. Come on, Mish. This?” He indicates his full 6’4” stature. “Not stealthy at all.”

“Hey, um...” The other kid is a few inches shorter than Misha and somewhat mousy. “Thanks for that.”

“Hey, no problem. Can’t let people get away with this.”

“Sometimes people really suck.” Misha pulls a face somewhere between a pout and a grimace, but then reaches up to wrap an arm around Sam’s shoulders and cheers up. “I still think you’re a ninja. And I was just telling your homeboy here that he should come hang with us. Isn’t that right, Ed?”

“Um, yeah. You guys live halfway across campus from me though. I’m in Branner. Classics major. Don’t think we’ll run into each other much.” Ed laughs nervously.

“Hey! I read dead languages too,” Sam protests. “And two of my Thinking Matters classes this quarter are from your department.”

“Really?” Both Ed and Misha turn to look at him.

“Which?” Ed asks. “Sorry, I mean the dead languages,” he clarifies, adjusting his glasses.

“Um... Some Latin, a bit of Greek and a bit of Aramaic?”

“What are you, Templar? Illuminati?” Misha asks with exaggerated suspicion. “Wait, I know; you’re in SHIELD, aren’t you?”

Ed actually rolls his eyes before turning back to Sam. “Wow, first time I’ve met someone who knows Aramaic. That’s really cool. Well, I guess I’ll see you around then. But now, I gotta get back. Oh, um... I’m Edwin Broderick, by the way.” He holds out his hand.

Sam shakes it. “Sam Winchester.”

“Right. Glad I ran into you. Again, thanks so much for earlier. Uh... Night, guys.”

Misha and Sam watch Edwin walk away for several moments before they too start heading back.

“Think he’ll be okay?”

“I hope so.” Sam shoots a look back over his shoulder. “Should we have offered to walk him back?”

“You mean to ask if we should have tried to make him feel more awkward than he already did, which was... pretty fucking awkward. Is that the question? Yeah, no, probably not,” Misha admits.

Sam hums in agreement as they turn onto Santa Teresa Street. Misha slips an arm through his, and really, Misha is about a hundred times more physically affectionate than Dean would likely ever be.

“Well, I still think you’re in some badass secret society, and you’d better tell me all about it one day and initiate me,” he insists petulantly. “Wait, that’s it!” He snaps his fingers. “This is the Matrix, and you’re awake in the real world, right? Come on, give me the red pill too!”

Sam buries his face in his hands. In some ways, Misha is an even bigger geek than Dean. “I’m not— This isn’t—” He sighs. “Misha, you’re confusing fantasy and reality again.”

“That’s what they all say when they’re trying to keep their superhero identities a secret.”

Despite the context, it’s uncomfortably close to the truth, so Sam doesn’t reply. Sometimes, he wishes it were all as glamorous as fiction makes it out to be, but that’s so far from the gritty reality he grew up with.

“But... I’m proud that we’re friends,” Misha adds out of the blue, growing serious. “Sometimes, I wonder why people can’t all be kind to each other. But yeah, you did a grand thing back there. Not a lot of people would have done it, you know?” His grip on Sam’s arm tightens a little. “Some wouldn’t dare, and some wouldn’t care. He was a complete stranger, and yet... Maybe we can’t stop every bad thing in the world from happening, but... just tonight? We changed something for the better. And maybe it’s small, or maybe it’s life altering, but it matters. I've always believed that all you need is one good man to make a difference. So um... Thanks. For uh... having more good in you than you know.”

Sam ducks his head to hide a blush. “Did you... just quote both Captain America and The Hobbit?”

Misha punches him in the arm. “Couldn’t you have said ‘you’re welcome’ or something and left it at that?”

He pulls the orange scrunchy off and musses Misha’s light brown hair as they climb the stairs. His roommate’s “Hey!!” of protest dissolves quickly into giggles, and by the time they reach their room, Sam’s quite sure a few of their neighbors will be less than pleased at breakfast. It’s not his fault Misha has a distinctive giggle.

It’s hot. There’s fire everywhere, it’s searing his skin where he stands, and the stench of burning flesh is overwhelming. He’s in a bathroom, and a girl lies dead in the flames, sprawled in unnatural angles over the toilet seat, her clothing ripped to shreds burning up in curling tendrils. She looks kinda familiar, but he can’t place her. There’s blood in the toilet, on the floor, splattered on the walls, and he tries to back out of the cubicle, but he can’t — something’s rooting him to the spot.

Pieces of flesh melt off the girl’s bones, and he claps his hands over his mouth — he’s going to be sick, he can feel it rising in his throat, and he can’t—

Sam sits up with a gasp and manages to fight the gagging long enough to make it to the sink in the faint light of dawn. It’s mostly bile that comes up, not much food left in his stomach, but the acrid aftertaste it leaves in his throat despite brushing his teeth is foul, and he can practically taste the smoke and burning flesh under the mint of the toothpaste.


He rinses his mouth one last time and washes his face before turning to his roommate. With his sleep-mussed chestnut hair sticking out in odd places, bleary blue eyes and the languid way he stretches as he yawns, Misha looks like a giant kitten that just rolled out of its basket, and in spite of the nightmare, Sam finds himself smiling. “Hey,” he says softly, reaching out to flick at a few stray locks of hair by Misha’s ear with the tips of his fingers, and the other even reacts just like a cat would, tilting his head into the contact even as he moves out of reach. It is the most adorable thing Sam has ever seen. “Morning, kitty,” he adds with a grin.

“Hey,” Misha protests, swatting his shoulder as he slips past. “Not a kitten. I’m... I’m a she-llama.”

“A she-llama?” Sam bursts out laughing and feels better for it. “Where the hell did that come from?”

Misha shrugs as he picks up his orange toothbrush. “What are you doing up so early, anyway?”

Not wanting to think about the dream, Sam evades with “I just... woke up.”

“Mm, join me for breakfast?”

He’s too awake to return to bed, so he runs a hand through his hair and goes to change. “Yeah, sure.”

They walk through the crisp morning air over to Lakeside in companionable silence. It’s not too crowded at this hour, so it’s easy to find a quiet table to sit at with their waffles, fruit salad, eggs and bacon. Misha digs into his breakfast with gusto, but Sam can’t seem to get the taste of bile out of his mouth, and not even the syrup on the waffles sits well on his tongue. He manages about a quarter of the waffle and half the fruit before he can’t anymore, and even the sight and smell of the bacon and eggs make him queasy.

“I’m done,” he says sitting back and pushing his plate away. He’ll probably be hungry later, but he doubts he’ll have the appetite. Even the food he’s already eaten is churning uncomfortably i— “Ow!”

Misha thwacked his arm with a spoon hard enough to bruise. “Don’t waste food,” he chides with a frown. “There are people starving out there.”

Sam rubs his sore arm. “I know.” He remembers, clearly, the time Dean looked longingly at the last can of spaghetti-O’s before giving it to him, not knowing whether or not Dad would be back the next day with money for more food, remembers wondering just how many times before —when he was younger and didn’t notice things like these— Dean had done exactly the same thing and given him the last of their food, remembers insisting on sharing because he knew better now. “I know. I just...” He catches another whiff of bacon and eggs and has to clamp a hand over his mouth as he nearly gags, pushing his chair further back from the table.

His roommate’s face instantly clouds with worry. “Hey.” Misha is on his feet and by his side in an instant, a grounding hand on his shoulder, and the spicy scent of Misha’s cinnamon aftershave seems to settle his protesting stomach a little. “Sam? You okay?”

“Yeah.” He runs a hand through his hair. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little queasy.”

“I’m sorry I hit you with a spoon,” Misha mumbles guiltily, rubbing around the darkening spot on Sam’s arm in a likely futile attempt to keep it from bruising too badly.

“It’s okay. You didn’t know.”

“Yes, and I should have asked. I’m sorry.”

He covers Misha’s hand with his own and smiles up reassuringly. “Mish, it’s okay.”

“Get some tea?” Misha suggests, tentative. “Or PowerAde? Might help settle your stomach.”

He nods, standing. “I’ll do that. Tea sounds good.”

“Try peppermint or ginger. It’s good for nausea.”

When he returns with a steaming cup of ginger spice tea, Misha has started on his half-eaten food, and he’s reminded of Dean; his brother never left food on the table either —it was either finish it or pack it to go— and he wonders if maybe Misha has been there too — hungry, not knowing whether he’ll have food that day. The thought haunts him as he sips at his tea and makes him reach for a piece of melon. It goes down all right, so he pulls the bowl over. Concerned blue eyes flick to him in question.

“I think I can manage the rest of the fruit,” he offers, and Misha smiles sunnily around a mouthful of waffle.

"Saaam," Misha whines from his bed. "Why am I not twenty-one yet? Why is my birthday in August?"

It’s Friday evening, Misha has nothing better to do for once, and there’s apparently a drag show at this nearby club that he really wants to see tonight, but it’s twenty-one and up only. Sam, of course, has work in the morning and assignments to finish tonight, so he can’t afford to go out, in more ways than one.

“You realize that only means you just had your birthday recently, and if it were coming up, you’d be even younger?” he points out, his eyes never leaving his laptop screen as he keeps typing.

His roommate flings a cushion at him, which he deflects easily before resuming work on his paper on the philosophy of justice.

“Hmph, I thought you were a nice person.”

Sam laughs. “So you want me to lie to you?”

“No,” Misha groans. “I want you to be sympathetic.”

“I am, Mish, I am,” he murmurs, placating, not a pause in his typing. “What do you want me to say?”

“C’mon, Sam, you have two weeks to finish that paper. Help me figure out how I’m going to sneak in instead.”

Distractedly —Where was that paragraph I wanted to quote here again?—, he offers, “I don’t know, man. Use a fake ID or pick the lock on the back door?”

Misha twists around in his loft. “Sam,” he intones seriously. “You look at me now, young man.”

Sam finishes his sentence and turns, bitchface in full force. “Fine. Fine. Are you happy now?”

Misha’s face splits into a delighted grin. “Nope, but have I told you lately that you’re brilliant? Criminal, but brilliant? Now, just tell me you have the know-how to back those ideas up.”

Shit. Sam groans internally as he realizes what he suggested, but the moment of silence is all the confession his best friend needs.

“Oh my God, you do!” Excitedly, Misha climbs down and takes his hand to tug him to his feet. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me earlier. Now, come on, get changed. You’re coming with me.”

“What?” Sam twists his hand out of Misha’s grip and stands his ground. “The hell I’m coming with you. I told you I can’t go out tonight.”

“Then how are you going to pick the lock for me? Oh, you’re going to tell me where I can get a fake ID! Wait, how do you know where to get one around here? You haven’t even been here that long!”

Sam sighs, long-suffering, and sits back down. “I don’t. I never said I knew how to accomplish either.”

Misha curls a knee under himself to pull his chair closer and slide into it dejectedly. “But earlier...” he deflates further. “Look, I know we haven’t known each other for very long, and I’m silly and a terrible influence, but man, you didn’t have to crush my dreams like that.”

Sam takes in the sight of pouty, morose Misha, feels something inside crumble even though he’s learned by now that his roommate can be a manipulative little shit, and knows he’s been had when he finally sticks out his hand and mutters, “Let me see your driver’s license.” He’s used to having that effect on Dean, and he never thought he’d ever be on the receiving end, but there’s something about making Misha sad that feels a bit criminal.

Misha looks up in question, but hands the blue-green card over regardless, and Sam inspects it under his desk lamp. It doesn’t actually look too hard to reproduce, not compared to FBI badges anyway.

“I can’t believe you’re older than me,” he remarks as he turns back to his laptop.

Misha makes a wretched sound that’s half-snort-half-sniffle. “That’s fucked up, Sam. You shouldn’t be judging me. Why are you judging me?”

“I’m not judging you, Mish,” he replies, rolling his eyes as he looks through his old files. Aha! He even has a template for Massachusetts. “If I were, I’d ditch your sorry ass and go write my paper in the lounge.”

The other sighs, scooting closer to plant his cheek on Sam’s broader shoulder. That’s when he catches sight of the screen. “Sam, is that...?”

“I swear to God, Mish, if you breathe a word of this to anyone...”

Misha practically squeals in delight. “Scout’s honor!” he promises with a mock salute. “Seriously though, you don’t know how to loft a bed, but you can make fake IDs? Where are you even from?”

Sam laughs humorlessly. “A Chevy ‘67 Impala.”

“I still think you’re Jason Bourne.”

“What, no more Thor or Neo?” He cuts his eyes towards his best friend with a grin.

Misha giggles. “Nope, they’re flashier, and they don’t make fake IDs. But you, o’ best roommate in the universe, can be my superhero anytime~”

“Oh my God. Vicki. Vicki.” Misha grips her shoulders. “You are not going to believe this. I got Candis Cayne, Erica Andrews and Yoshiko Oshiro to sign my gluteus maximus!”

They’re at the Main Quad, and he can barely keep his voice down from sheer excitement.

“What? No way.”

“Yes way. Do you want to see?” He’s practically bouncing with glee, and people are staring, which isn’t that unusual for him.

“Here? No! How the fuck did you even get in?”

“I— No. I swore I wouldn’t tell a soul. But the point is? Sam? He’s in SHIELD, I tell you.”

Vicki rolls her eyes. “Mish. Fantasy.” She points at his head. “Reality.” She gestures around them.

“Fine. Fine, not SHIELD.” He sits down beside her. “But Secret Service. Or KGB. Or something.”

She laughs. “Okay. So your puppy of a roommate is secretly a spy. Point is he got you in.”

“Yes. No, point is he’s all kinds of amazing, and I’m going to knit him a sweater.”

Vicki looks up from her laptop to stare at him in horror. “Look, Mish, I’m only telling you this because I love you, but no. No, you are not knitting him a sweater. You have terrible taste in sweaters. This is a horrible idea.”

“I know! But that’s the point exactly! I’ve checked. He doesn’t have any ugly sweaters!” Misha turns pleading eyes on her. “Come on, Vick, you know everyone needs an ugly sweater. What’s he going to do on Christmas?”

“Well, when you put it that way...”

“I’ll even put a giant reindeer on it!”

Vicki shakes her head in sympathy as she turns back to her work. “Oh man, I feel bad for him already.”

Sam is on the way out of his Law and Public Policy class when Brady claps a hand on his shoulder.

“Hey man, what are you doing this Friday?”

“Probably finishing another paper.” Sam adjusts the strap of his knapsack.

“C’mon, man, it’s friggin’ Halloween. The best parties happen on Halloween weekend! You’ve got to come out with us, Sam! Kappa Sigma’s having a huge party, and tons of people are going.”

Sam rolls his eyes as they step out into the late afternoon sunshine. “Brady, I don’t even like Halloween. Why in the world would I want to go to Halloween party?”

“Dude, just pretend it’s any other kind of party. Have you even been to one of these parties yet?” He only pauses long enough to catch the ‘obviously not’ look on Sam’s face. “No? Then you’ve gotta come this Friday. The booze is on free flow, and all the chicks are going to be in sexy costumes. I’ll even come pick you up.”

“Are we talking about a Halloween party?” It’s Misha, falling in step on Sam’s other side as they near Granada.

“Hey, Mish,” he greets with a smile, and Misha grins right back up at him.

Out of the corner of his eye, he thinks he catches a flash of irritation on Brady’s face before his classmate continues, “Yeah. KSig is having an awesome one this Friday night, and I’m trying to get Sam here to go.”

“Kappa Sigma?” Misha’s expression turns bemused. “Funny, Erin was just inviting me to that. Her boyfriend, Keith, is a KSig. I told her I’d check it out.”

“Hah! See? Even Misha is going,” Brady declares triumphantly, and Sam’s shoulders sag a little in defeat.

“What do you mean ‘even’ I’m going?” Misha protests, annoyed, as they reach the front door of Granada.

“I mean it’s just that awesome, and Sam, if your roommate’s going, you have no excuse. I’ll come get you at seven, and we can all walk there together. Ciao!” Brady takes off in the direction of Schiff with a wave.

“Hmph,” Misha scoffs as they walk up to their room. “What are you going as, Sam?”

Oh man, now even Misha is talking like his going is a foregone conclusion. He sighs resignedly. “Myself?”

“What?” His best friend’s scandalized face is a sight to behold. “It’s a Halloween party, Sam. You can’t not dress up.”

“Fine,” he squares his shoulders firmly. “Then I’m not going. Dude, I hate Halloween.”

“Aww, Sam, don’t give me that face.” Misha unlocks the door to their room and they step inside. “C’mon, man, it’s our first Halloween at university. Let’s have some fun together. I’ll even go in drag.”

Sam can’t help snorting a laugh even as he turns to his roommate incredulously. “What?”

“You heard me. Tell you what.” Blue eyes twinkle with glee as Misha’s voice rises in excitement. “You go as Captain America, and I’ll go as Sharon Carter.”

“What? No.” He doesn’t even like superheroes that much. They remind him of Dean telling him for years that Dad was a superhero — not only a fantasy, but an utterly ruined one.

“But but— you have the Steve Rogers height and build!” Misha whines with a pout. “Come on, Sam, my first Halloween costume that I can remember was Captain America, but something fell apart in it, and I—” His voice cracks a little. “I ended up crying my eyes out all night because I wanted it to be perfect, and it wasn’t. I couldn’t even get into trick-or-treating; I was so miserable.” His eyes tear up. “So I haven’t tried to pull it off again since, but you! You’d be a great Captain America, and there wouldn’t be any point in doing Agent 13 without a Cap, right? So Saaaam, pleeeaaase?”

And even though he knows Misha is an excellent actor and that the sob story was probably a lot less emotional than his best friend made it out to be, Sam’s never been able to say “no” to those teary, pleading blue eyes, which is how he ends up costume shopping with Misha after classes on Wednesday and showing up at the frat party as Captain America on Friday night. He’s not the least bit sorry that Misha paid for the costume —it was Misha’s idea, after all—, and he has to admit that it looks good. Meanwhile, Misha looks way too convincing as Sharon Carter —he’d never really noticed till then how easily Misha could pass as a pretty girl—, and the look of stunned disbelief on Brady’s face might well be worth the entire ordeal.

After a flurry of introductions from both Brady and Erin, through which more than a few guys flirted with Misha and not all of them stopped when they realized he isn’t female, Brady presses a glass of punch into his hands and tells him there’s someone he’d like Sam to meet. He follows his classmate through the throng of people swaying to the thumping bass of the music into another room.

“Lindsay!” Brady greets enthusiastically, and a bubbly redhead with emerald fairy wings turns.

She sets her drink down on the cocktail table before running over to give him a hug. “Hey! Brady!”

Brady gathers her into his arms and lifts her a foot off the floor before setting her down. “Sam, this is my cousin, Lindsay,” he says, leading them all over to the cocktail table where a sweet-faced blonde dressed as a Greek goddess is waiting. “And this is her roommate, Jess. Girls, this is my buddy, Sam.”

Jess smiles as she holds out her hand, and Sam thinks she does look like a goddess in that flowing white dress that hangs alluringly over her toned curves. “Jessica Moore. Nice to meet you, Sam...?”

He takes it; her hand is soft and warm. “Winchester. Sam Winchester.”

“Lindsay Manning.” He shakes hands with Brady’s cousin; her grip is firmer than Jessica’s.

Turning back to Jess, he asks, “So you’re a freshman too?”

“Yup. I’m thinking of doing Chemistry, but some of these other classes I’m taking are really interesting too, so I might change my mind.” She tilts her head, and her blond waves cascade over her shoulder. “What about you?” Her blue eyes twinkle. “Set your heart on a major yet, Captain?”

“I don’t know,” he admits, feeling inexplicably shy. “Only thing I’m sure of is I want to go to law school.”

“Oh, so you’re like Brady here,” Lindsay cuts in with a grin. Her bright green eyes match her shimmery dress.

“Yup, one of mine,” Brady agrees, slinging an arm over his shoulders. “We have Law and Public Policy together this quarter, and Sam here is too smart for his own good. Or too diligent. Whichever works.”

Sam laughs. “What about you?” He turns to Lindsay.

“Me? Management and Marketing. Dad wants me prepped to join the family business, and hey,” she shrugs. “I like it. I mean, there are other things I like more, but I can do those as hobbies.”

He can’t help squaring his shoulders a little at the words “family business,” but who is he to remark on that if she likes it? So instead he turns back to Jess and asks about those other classes she likes.

“I have Psych, Lit and Theatre History, and they’re all unexpectedly cool.”

“Gonna be one of those people who change their majors every year?” Lindsay teases.

Jess laughs. She has a nice laugh, warm and cheery. “Doubt it. I’ll bet most of them are only nice at intro level.”

“You know what?” Brady asks, surveying their empty cups. “Be right back. I’m gonna get us more punch.”

“Thanks, hun!” Lindsay calls after him as he leaves with their cups just as the music shifts into a catchy number that opens with rap.

“Oh! Crazy in Love! I love this song!” Jess says suddenly, grabbing his and Lindsay’s hands. “Let’s go dance!”

And Sam has no idea how to dance, but apparently, Lindsay says most people don’t either, and when they all join the mass of gyrating costumed bodies and Jess just starts rocking it out to the music, Sam realizes she’s right: no one cares, and he should just try to have fun.

Several hours of being hit on by Keith’s frat brothers later, Misha realizes he hasn’t seen his new best friend since Erin dragged him over to meet her boyfriend, and Brady led Sam away to meet other friends. So he excuses himself to find his roommate. After looking in a few rooms, he finally finds Sam on a couch with a shapely Wonder Woman straddling his lap. Sam is giggly and red in the face as he drains the full glass of punch in his hand before pulling her closer to mumble something in her ear that makes her laugh, and when Misha finally makes it through the crowd to their side, she’s started trailing kisses down Sam’s neck.

“Hey!” he says loudly, dropping into the couch beside them and feeling oddly satisfied with the interruption. “I was just about to leave, and I was wondering if you wanted to come with, but I’m guessing you’re not coming back tonight?”

“Well, you could always join us, cutie,” Wonder Woman offers with a flirty once over. Now that he’s closer, she appears to be Hispanic and quite attractive.

“Hey! You’re back!” Sam wraps an arm around him, and oh boy, from the slur in his roommate’s words, he’s going to bet Sam can’t even walk on his own at this point. “I think Bella here—”

“Vera,” she corrects, and now she looks miffed, as if she expected him to get her name right in his state.

“Right. Vela. I think she has the right idea! We sh—”

“Okay, okay, I think you’re coming with me right now.” Vera rolls her eyes and slides off Sam without protest when he tugs on his best friend’s arm, and he offers her an apologetic look. If Sam is proposing that they all have an orgy, he must be pretty fucking drunk. “Up now, Sam. Let’s go.” He hefts Sam’s arm over his shoulder, and Sam obligingly stumbles out of the seat, leaning heavily on him.

“Bye~” He waves at Vera, giggling as he follows Misha to the door. “I had a great time!” Okay, make that stupidly drunk.

Somehow, they manage not to fall down the stairs as they walk out into the slightly chilly night air, and Misha is eternally grateful that Sam is mostly walking by himself, because he doesn’t think he could support all 6’4” of sasquatch dead weight otherwise. It's a not a long walk to West Lag, but it is made a lot slower by Sam’s drunken meandering.

“Do you know? I didn’t always hate Halloween.” His speech is slurred and off hand. “I remember... Once, when I was a kid, I wanted to go trick-or-treating like all the other kids.”

“Yeah? What did you want to dress up as?”

“Dress... up...?” Sam’s brows furrow in confusion at the question. “Hmm... Oh!” He lifts a pointed finger and waves it vaguely. “I remember now. I wanted to be an angel.”

Misha smiles fondly. “An angel, huh? I think you’d look good with a halo.”

“Mm, I wanted to be... pure.” Sam giggles. “Dean said angels don’t exist though.”

Misha scoffed. “That’s fucked up. How does he even know? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but he shouldn’t try to disillusion you of your faith.”

“And Dad...” Sam continues as if he hadn’t spoken. “Dad wouldn’t let me go anywhere on Halloween. He said it wasn’t safe, and why do people want to dress up as things that go bump in the night anyway? And— and back then, I didn’t understand any of it. I just wanted to go be normal with the other kids, and I cried, and we fought, and he locked me in my room for the night. I was just so fucking angry and miserable.”

“Wow, no wonder you hate it.” The more he heard about Sam’s father, the less Misha liked the man.

"But get this." Sam grins. "Dean? He sneaked into my room in the dead of night, brought me a ton of candy and told me, 'Sammy, I know you really wanted to go out tonight, but why do all that lame door-to-door walking, right? I got you Starburst, Reese's and Nips~' Then he put a tinsel halo on my head and said, 'And I still think angels don't exist. But you can be the first. You can be my angel, Sammy.' And—"

"Aww…" Sam’s brother sounds like a sweetheart, and Misha thinks he'd get along smashingly with Dean if and when they meet someday.

"Right, and it was really sweet at the time, but like—" Sam dissolves into giggles here and nearly walks right into a pole, but Misha pulls him aside just in time. "I'd all but forgotten about it, but then—" Sam giggles some more, almost hysterical. "Get this." He breathes deeply in an effort to stop laughing long enough to speak. "Just recently, I went with him to the bar, and he totally pulled that line on this girl he was trying to pick up," more breathless giggling, and now Misha is snickering too, "and it was so surreal?"

“Oh my God.” Misha laughs. “Tell me you didn’t let him live that down.”

“Of course not! I ribbed him about it for weeks!”

They laugh together for a long time, and Misha marvels at how enjoyable he finds the company even when his new best friend is drunk off his ass. It’s nice. Vicki is a fun and wacky drunk, and he loves her for it, but Sam’s just that: nice. By the time Sam starts speaking again, they’ve reached Granada.

“Say, do you know why we dress up in costumes for Halloween?”

Misha has to prop Sam up now because he nearly fell flat on his face climbing the stairs to the front door, and that’s probably the last glass of punch kicking in, because Sam seems just barely conscious, and he even sounds like he’s sleep-talking.

“I read that it’s to ward off the harmful spirits and fairies that were believed to cross over into this world on Samhain, the related Celtic pagan festival.”

“Mm... You’re so cool...” Sam mumbles as they reach their room. “I really... like you...”

Misha fumbles for his keys and unlocks the door. “Thanks, Sam. I like you too,” he says with a chuckle. “Come on now.” He pulls Sam into the room with him and maneuvers around the giant to shut and lock the door behind him with one hand and one foot. As he tugs Sam towards the bed, he’s glad for once that Sam chose not to loft his bed, because Misha can’t imagine how his roommate would climb the slats in this state. “Okay, here we are. Y—oof!”

He tried to drop Sam onto the bed, but somehow, that went all wrong, and now he’s pinned beneath 192 pounds of drunk Captain America, and it’s heavy. It’s also uncomfortably warm and sweaty.

“Damn it, Sam, get off me!” He flails helplessly, pushing ineffectually at the dead weight atop him. “C’mon, man, I can’t breathe down here.” But Sam doesn’t budge, doesn’t even respond, and Misha deflates at the prospect of having to spend the entire night like this. “Saaam...” He shakes his best friend. “Oh, come on...”

Sam stirs, to his relief. “Hmm?” But instead of rolling off as he’d hoped, Sam suddenly nuzzles his neck. “Mm... You smell... so good,” he murmurs.

Then Sam is alarmingly trailing kisses up the side of his neck, and Misha’s eyes widen. “S—Sam?”

Sam doesn’t answer, just traces the back of Misha’s ear with his tongue. They’re both dirty and sweaty; Sam reeks of cheap booze, saccharine cordial and three different perfumes, but more importantly, it’s Sam, his new best friend, roommate and the only person he’s ever enjoyed hanging out with as much as Vicki, and—

Oh God, it’s Sam.

The reality of it hits him like a freight train as Sam scrapes his teeth over Misha’s jugular, and instead of grounding him as he’d hoped, the thought only makes this hotter.


“Sam?” He scrambles to push Sam’s head up and back. “Hey. Wh—”

“God, you’re beautiful,” Sam breathes reverently, olive green eyes bright in the faint illumination streaming in through the window; then he simply dips his head, and they’re kissing.

Drunk as the guy is, it’s not... clumsy, per se. It’s imprecise, but... exploring, as if Sam wants to know him, and Misha is kissing him back before it even registers in his mind. Sam’s tongue slides slow and sweet along his own, and Misha whimpers as his blood goes rushing down. Fuck, but he’s never been so turned on by a mere kiss in his life, and when he angles his head to accommodate, Sam deepens the kiss — it’s ardent now, wanting, and like slipping into familiar ground, suddenly much more practiced. Who knew Sam would be such a good kisser?

It’s somewhere between ridiculous, embarrassing and pathetic that he’s leaking in his suddenly-too-tight costume from just this, but then Sam starts rocking their hips together, and he’s moaning helplessly into the kiss because Oh God, Sam, fuck, he doesn’t think he’ll last very long. And when Sam breaks off to mouth at the other side of his neck, he pushes the face mask off to slide his hand into messy hair and tilts his own head back for better access, pulling Sam against him as he arches up into the friction.

“S—Sam,” he gasps as the other obliges with a sharper cant to his hips, and he turns to bury his face in Sam’s soft hair and inhale deeply of the other’s slightly spicy scent.

A hand cards through the hair of his blond wig as the other cups the turn of his hip. “Get this... It sounds crazy...” Sam chuckles, and Misha feels more than hears the rumble through the body pressed to his. “And cheesy as fuck, but... y’know? I think... I may be...” Every pause is punctuated by a nip at his collarbone and a buck of Sam’s hips, and God, Misha is so close. “A little bit... in love with you already.”


The last has Misha curling into Sam and muffling his cry in brown hair as his vision whites out. He holds Sam to him as the other follows him with a soft groan moments later, and sighs resignedly as Sam just collapses atop him, breath evening out and deepening as sleep takes over. As his luck would have it, he’s still stuck spending the night like this, and it’s messy now, on top of hot, sweaty and heavy, but Misha has to admit, in the post-coital haze, it doesn’t seem so bad.

Misha wakes when Sam stirs to find that it is half past eight, and they both have to be at work in about two hours. He shoves at his roommate.

“Wake up, sunshine. C’mon, Sam, we need to go to work.”

Sam groans, props his head up tiredly with one hand, and cracks his eyes open blearily. “Wha— Mish?” He rolls off in a hurry and ends up falling gracelessly to the floor. “Ow! Shit.” He holds his head in his hands and grunts in pain. “Oh God, I am so sorry, how long have I been out?”

“Hmm… By the time we got back here, it was maybe one in the morning?” he answers, stretching.

Sam runs a hand through his hair. “Oh man, and I’ve been… We’ve been sleeping like that the entire time? God, Mish, I’m really sorry. Dean says I’m a miserable drunk too. I hope I wasn’t too terrible to you.”

Misha smiles at the memory, looking down at his feet. “Actually, you were uh… really sweet to me.”

Sam heaves a sigh of relief at that. “Oh. Oh, that’s good. So uh… What happened? The last thing I remember was making out with some girl at the party.”

“Oh.” Misha isn’t quite prepared for the sudden weight in his chest or the lump in his throat the words bring. It’s awfully silly; it’s not like he expected anything to come of the previous night’s events. Aloud, he only takes a calming breath and swallows before saying, “Let’s see… I came to ask you if you were ready to leave when I was, found you with Wonder Woman in your lap, kept you from embarrassing yourself further by hauling your stupidly drunk ass back here, by which point I had to help you up the stairs and into the room, and then you collapsed on top of me when I tried to drop you on your bed. Since I couldn’t move you, I naturally ended up sleeping where I was.”

“Oh. Wow. Thanks, Mish. I’m really sorry about that. I’ll uh… I’ll make it up to you somehow, okay?”

He doesn’t know why he has to blink away the sharp sting in his eyes, but that’s his cue to get the hell out before he embarrasses himself. “Well, I’m going to shower,” he says, standing and grabbing his things. “The Advil is on the desk if you need it. You should probably grab one of my granola bars first though.” With that, he hightails it out of the room without looking back and reflects on how pathetic it is that he’s crying in the shower.

Misha has to admit he doesn’t know how to deal with his newly discovered attraction to his roommate, so he’s taken to avoiding being alone in the room with Sam. It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy the company — of course he does, maybe too much. The problem is that Sam is distracting. Gone are the days when he could actually get work done around Sam. Now, even a stray lock of hair falling into his roommate’s face catches his eye till he realizes he’s staring longingly, wishing those long fingers were twirling his hair instead of the pen or up his a— No, no, no, he needs to stop thinking along these lines. He hasn’t even reached their room yet, damn it.

When he reaches the right door and unlocks it, he’s surprised to find Sam sitting on the bed, staring blankly at the cell phone in his hands. He’d chosen this time to return because Sam should be at work right now.

“Hey,” he greets with a smile. It’s too easy to smile around Sam, too hard to keep the love-struck sparkle out of his eyes.

Sam looks up, as if only now noticing his presence. Strange. Sam usually notices the slightest sounds of movement. “Hey. You cut your hair.”

“Yeah.” He sets his things down. “It was starting to be a hassle to dry.”

“It looks good,” Sam remarks with a grin, and it’s ridiculous that Misha is fighting down a blush. “I’m going to miss the scrunchies though. But I guess it’ll grow.”

He smacks Sam lightly on the arm to distract himself. “Ugh, at this rate, I’m going to have to keep it short. What are you doing here anyway? Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”

Sam blinks, then looks at the clock on the desk. “Shit. Oh God. Well, not much point going now, I guess.” His face falls, and Misha has to clamp down on the sudden urge to kiss the smile back.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, stepping closer so they’re face-to-face.

Sam looks down at the cell phone. “I called Dean,” he says simply at length.

Misha wants to ask, “Isn’t that a good thing?” It’s obvious how much Sam misses his brother. But his roommate doesn’t seem happy at all. So instead, he asks, “What happened?”

The other’s lips thin, curl into a sardonic smile. “He…” Sam sniffs. “He said I walked out on our family. And since that’s my choice, I should stick with it. I walked out, so I should stay out and,” Sam’s voice cracks, “never call again.”

“Shit, Sam,” Misha mumbles, giving in to the impulse to hug. He wraps his arms around Sam’s head and pulls him in to bury his face in Misha’s thick blue hoodie. “I’m sorry.”

To his surprise, Sam returns the embrace, trembling arms folding around his hips, and takes deep, calming breaths.

“You have me,” he longs to say, twining his fingers in Sam’s soft brown hair, because he wants to be, and a small part of him is glad that he’s here — not Brady, not Sandy, not that amazing girl Sam made out with at the party. He’s here for Sam even when no one else in the world is, not even Dean. “You’ll always have me.”

It’s Thanksgiving, and they have the week off. Sam, of course, doesn’t have a home to return to, which is how he finds himself in Boston with Misha, who was appalled at the idea of him spending Thanksgiving alone. Sam is disinclined to inform him that even if he had somewhere to go, Dad and Dean don’t really ever do anything for Thanksgiving. In fact, they’re likely to be out hunting the monster of the week anyway, and he can either join them or spend Thanksgiving alone regardless.

Rebecca is as sweet and wacky as her son, whom she sometimes calls Mish the Quiche (Misha says he used to be chubby, which is hard to imagine, so he even looked a bit like a quiche once), and it doesn’t feel like there’s even a generation gap to speak of. Sitting here in their small apartment waiting for the turkey to finish roasting seems an incredibly intimate affair, but he’s never made to feel like he’s intruding. Rebecca proudly shows off the wooden furniture and knitted throws that Misha made; Misha tells him that his mother quilted all the seat pads and sewed all the cushion covers herself. Misha has a modest Marvel Comics collection in his room, and he says he couldn’t afford to get every issue, but he has read them all, and the ones he bought are his favorites. Misha has a twin bed, so Sam will have to take the couch, but the couch is longer than the bed anyway, so that suits Sam just fine. It’s just them tonight, because Misha’s parents have been divorced for years, but his father will be here tomorrow.

Dinner is turkey, potato salad, and green bean casserole, and it’s possibly the best Thanksgiving dinner Sam’s ever had. Mostly, Misha talks about life at Stanford or growing up here in Boston, and they both listen, but occasionally, Rebecca will ask Sam something Misha hasn’t already told her about him, and he’ll answer what he can without mentioning the monster hunting. After dinner, feeling especially useless, Sam insists on doing the dishes.

Suddenly, Misha shows up in the kitchen, hands behind his back. “Hey~”

Sam turns to glance at him as he rinses a plate. “Hey. I’m almost done, don’t worry.”

Misha shakes his head and chuckles. “Take your time. Want a beer?”

He nods. “In a minute, sure. Just let me finish here.”

He rinses off the last few plates and cutlery, before wiping his hands on a hand towel hanging from a hook beside the sink. He turns to find Misha holding out a paper bag. “Here. Happy Thanksgiving, Sam.” His grin is at once cheery and shy as he bounces on his heels, and Sam suddenly feels like a terrible person.

“Oh my God. Mish. I— Uh… I didn’t get you anything, and you’ve alr—“

“Well, if you help me thoroughly clean the apartment this week, I’ll consider us even. Deal?”

He smiles and takes the paper bag. “Deal.”

Misha goes to the fridge to pull out two beers. They’re El Sol; he even drinks the same beer Dean does. “Go on. Open it.”

Obediently, Sam opens the bag and reaches in to pull out a large fuchsia and orange… sweater. It’s a sweater with a… “Is that a moose?”

Misha scowls as he hands him a bottle. “A reindeer, Sam. It’s a reindeer. Moose antlers don’t look like that.”

“Uh. Oops?” Sam tries sheepishly as he takes the beer.

The scowl fades. “I hope it fits. I made it a little bigger than your shirts, but it’ll probably shrink in the dryer, so I hope it’ll still fit after a couple of washes.”

The alternating fuchsia and orange yarn is a somewhat garish combination, and he still thinks the brown reindeer looks like a moose, but it’s the sweetest gift Sam’s ever received, and the thought of Misha secretly knitting it whenever he wasn’t around has him pulling his roommate in for a hug. The other stiffens momentarily, then returns the hug warmly.

“Thanks, Mish. It’s the best present anyone’s ever given me.”

“I—I’m glad.”

“Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.”

For Misha, Thanksgiving week is spent going on morning runs with Sam (which is not too different from life at Stanford), cooking or discreetly salvaging either lunch or dinner (Sam is a disaster in the kitchen when it comes to anything but the cutting board, and he'd eat it, but Sam would feel terrible), cleaning the apartment (which is easier with Sam) and jerking off in the shower (which is harder when the object of his fantasies is outside the door waiting for his turn).

His father came the day after Thanksgiving proper. They finished the rest of the turkey with turkey noodle soup made from the bones and a salad with homemade honey mustard, then spent the evening singing old songs as his father played the guitar. Sam keeps trying to write his paper on the role of education in the pursuit of justice. Misha keeps trying to get him to do fun things because they’re on vacation.

They play Scrabble, and Sam beats him soundly two thirds of the time. Since it’s Sam’s first time in Boston, they do touristy things like the Freedom Trail, Union Oyster House, several museums and the Swan Boat on the lake in the Public Garden. They watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which doesn’t live up to the book, of course, but that doesn’t stop them from being absurdly happy about the movie. Sam finds the basilisk really cool and still thinks the casting is great — everyone looks a lot like how he imagined them. Misha can’t get over Hamlet being Gilderoy Lockhart, and if the entirety of Harry Potter were rendered in a Shakespearean play, he’d be the first in line to watch it if he couldn’t act in it himself. He also wants to hug Dumbledore and Hagrid. They got a ton of popcorn, and Sam let him pick the flavors, so half was covered in caramel and apple cinnamon while the other half had white cheddar and parmesan garlic. By the end of the movie, he was surprised they’d almost finished it. Then again, Sam must have grown to that height somehow. Sam has also won even more points in his book for loving many of the same things in the series —heck, Sam’s even fond of Moaning Myrtle— and Misha really needs Sam to be a little less perfect.

Sam is waiting outside when he exits the restroom, so he sneaks up behind him and grasps his shoulders. “Hey~”

Quick as lightning, Sam drops and flips him overhead, lets out a surprised shout, and catches him by the waist before he hits the ground. “Jesus Christ, Mish!” he swears, setting Misha down and backing away. “I could have killed you.”

“W—wow.” That is the least of Misha’s immediate concerns, the primary of which is how much he wants Sam to do that all over again. “You are so definitely a spy,” he says, looking over his shoulder with a grin because he can’t turn around. “But you wouldn’t though.” It’s a little uncomfortable, but he makes himself walk to his car and wills his hormones to calm down. The cold air helps, and by the time Sam climbs in beside him with a scowl, he’s fine, bar a few extra fantasies of being manhandled.

“That’s not the point, Mish.” Sam runs his hand through his hair. “Please don’t do that again.”

Well, he won’t, but not for the reason Sam’s warning him. He flips on the music, and Sam looks at the iPod jack with a bemused expression as they drive home, as if there’s something distinctly incongruous about driving around Boston to Peaches and Goldfrapp.

“What?” he asks with a sideways glance when they stop at a traffic light.

Sam grins. “Just marveling at how your taste in music manages to be so different from Dean’s, and yet not any better.”

“Hmph.” There, he’s found one minus point, finally. “Too bad~ It’s my car.”

He turns up the volume, but Sam only chuckles. “Seriously? I’ve been stuck in cars listening to music I don’t care for longer than you’ve had a car, Mish. Dean always says driver picks the music, and shotgun shuts his cakehole.”

“Your brother has the right idea.”

“Yeah. But he likes most of Dad’s music anyway, so he never had a problem with that policy.”

“You clearly need to rethink your musical tastes.”

Sam snorts. “Or you guys do.”

By now, they’ve reached home, so Misha parks and climbs out. “What’s not to like about Peaches and Goldfrapp?”

“Nothing,” Sam replies, joining him outside and slinging an arm around his shoulders. “For you.”

Misha sticks his tongue out at Sam as he unlocks the door and steps inside. His mother’s home, so he runs over to give her a hug in the kitchen. “Momma! How was work?”

“Mostly business as usual, but remember the guy I was telling you about that keeps trying to hit on me?” Her eyes twinkle, and they look just like Misha’s.

“Yes! What did he do today?”

“So he was trying to get my attention as usual, and then as he was walking, he slipped on something and fell backward, right into someone’s cart?”

Sam snorts, but manages not to burst out laughing hysterically. Rebecca is just barely reining in her laughter, though, and Misha is abuzz with excitement.

“Oh. My. God.”

“Wait, wait. Anyway, he got stuck, so a couple of guys had to help get him out of there, right? But as they were pulling,” she cracks up, “they ended up pulling his pants down!” There are tears in her eyes, and she has to take a deep breath between giggles to stifle her laughter long enough to finish with “And he had these bright pink Hello Kitty boxers on?”

Misha howls with laughter, falling back against Sam, who musses his hair.

“Which were actually kinda cute, but—”

“Well, I don’t think he’ll be back any time soon after that,” Misha concludes as he calms down. “Which means some peace for you.” He wraps an arm around his mother. “Poor guy, though.”

“What did you boys do?”

“We went to catch the new Harry Potter movie.”

“Without me?” Rebecca gasps in mock horror.

“Ta-da! My excuse to re-watch it!” Misha sings with a twirl between them. “And I still think Sam is a spy.”

“I still think your son has no sense of self-preservation.”

Misha smacks Sam on the shoulder. “Do too! I just didn’t expect you to do that!”

Rebecca turns to her son. “Do what?”

“He flipped me over his head and caught me like a princess~”

Sam snorts. “I nearly threw you halfway across the street. Would have if you hadn’t yelped. Silly Mish.”

Rebecca wraps her arms around Misha protectively. “No throwing my Quiche around.”

Misha beams sunnily, and Sam can’t help feeling a little envious. If only his family were more like this. He feels so much more at home here than he did all those years growing up with his own.

“Oh, I need eggs and cream for dinner, but we’re all out. Be a dear and run down to the store across the street, a—”

“I’ll go,” Sam offers before she can finish.

“Oh, I’ll go with you,” Misha says, disentangling himself from his mother’s arms.

“Nah, you should stay and help with dinner, since we both know I’m no good at that.”

Misha has the good graces to blush at having been discovered salvaging meals Sam tried to cook, as Sam grabs his keys and heads out the door with a sheepish grin.

“What a nice young man,” Rebecca remarks, not for the first time that week, as she puts the Dutch oven on the stove.

“Isn’t he?” Misha turns to start setting the table. “Best roommate ever.”

Rebecca tosses in several slices of bacon. “Well, here I am waiting for you to finally bring Vicki home, and instead you bring this gorgeous hunk of a sweetheart back here. Warn a mom, now, wouldja?”

Misha pauses momentarily as he sets the cutlery down. “What?” He smiles wistfully to himself. “It’s nothing like that.”

“But you want it to be?’ The bacon sizzles, and she turns them over. “I’ve seen the way you look at him.”

Misha laughs. “Sam’s straight as an arrow, Momma.”

Rebecca takes the bacon out of the pot before coming over to kiss him on the temple. “My poor baby. You’ve asked?”

“No, I’ve seen. He’s only ever checked out the ladies.”

“Maybe you just haven’t seen him checking out the boys.” She moves away to put the onion into the pot.

“Nope, even drunk, only girls.” Or what looks like one, but Misha doesn’t want to think about that. He hadn’t needed all those things to be true until Sam said them, hadn’t needed Sam until he had him. As before, he’ll get by just fine without him. “Not getting my hopes up.” He skips over to the sink to drain the vegetables soaking there. “Ooh, we’re having kale!”

“Of course, dear. I know it’s your favorite.” He adds the kale to the pot, and she stirs it a bit before covering it. “Well, you’ll always have me,” she adds, squeezing him to her in a hug by the waist.

He leans in to rest his head on her shoulder. “I know, Momma, I know.”

Misha sighs. Christmas is coming, and he wants to invite Sam home again, but he doesn’t know if he can take a longer round of Thanksgiving break — many, many more days of his mother watching him moon over his off-limits best friend. As it is, he doesn’t know how he’s going to last the rest of the year sharing a room with Sam. He’d try the “getting over someone by getting under someone else” trick if he could even look at someone attractive without wishing it were Sam, but it really doesn’t work that way. He sighs again.

Vicki pokes his cheek over the table. “Hey. What’s with you? You’ve been moping all day.”

He pouts at her and takes another bite of his salad. “Have not. It’s lunch, Vicki. That’s scarcely half the day.”

She snaps a finger at his wrist. “Not the point. C’mon, Mish, what’s wrong?”

He sighs for the third time and decides to start from the beginning. “I think I’m in love with Sam.”

“You think?”

He glares at her, then deflates. “It’s that obvious?”

She rolls her eyes, eating another spoonful of pasta. “He’s all you’ve talked about since you moved in together. Yeah, it’s pretty obvious. I think we’ve all noticed. Heck, I can’t believe he hasn’t.”

“Y—yeah. My mother noticed over Thanksgiving, too.” He pokes dejectedly at his lunch.

“What I want to know is why you haven’t told him.”

“He likes women, Vick. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t qualify.”

“Prefers,” she corrects, waving her fork sternly. “And you don’t even know that. Besides, if he’d switch teams for anyone, I daresay it’s you.”

He stabs at a pepper. “Don’t get my hopes up.”

“I’m not. Seriously, Mish, just tell him. If he says no, you’ll know for sure, and you can move on. For fuck’s sake, he thinks the world of you. I highly doubt it’d put that much of a dent in your friendship if it doesn’t work out like you want it. Sure, it’ll be awkward for a while, but he’s not going to up and leave just because you had a phase.”

“It’s not a—”

“I know. But he doesn’t have to.” She tilts her head pointedly.

All right, fine. When he gets back, he’s going to t— No, he’s going to tell him about what really happened the night of the party, drop it casually like “Yeah, we made out, and it was kinda nice, actually” just to test the waters, see how Sam reacts. And if he doesn’t freak out, maybe ask if he’d do it again, if he’d be opposed to “more than friends.” Yes, that sounds like a safer plan. That way, if Sam does freak out, he can pass it off as a joke or a drunken mishap. He spends the rest of the day planning out the conversation in his head, preparing for any eventuality, and when he finally makes it back to his room, he’s relieved to find that Sam’s already there.

“Hey,” he greets, closing the door behind him and setting his bag down by his desk.

“Oh my God, Misha, get this,” Sam gushes, too excited to even stand still. “Remember that party we went to on Halloween night?”

“Y—yes, of course.” He definitely wasn’t expecting Sam to bring up the party first. Sam doesn’t even like Halloween.

“So while we were there, I met this girl. Her name’s Jess, and she’s gorgeous and really cool, and we ran into each other again today, and she just asked me out?”

And Sam’s obviously waiting for his reaction, but it feels like his stomach just dropped out, and it takes probably far too many seconds for him to recover enough to force a smile and manage “Th—That’s great.”

“I know! So we’re grabbing coffee this Saturday at three, and if that goes well, we’ll probably meet for dinner and a movie next week. I can’t wait for you to meet her, Mish. I think you’ll like her. She’s a—”

Fuck, his eyes are stinging. He turns away and grabs his things. “Amazing, I bet. Listen, I really need a shower, so hold that thought, and you can tell me all about her when I get out.”

“Oh. Sure. Yeah. I’ll probably have to leave for work soon though.”

Yes. That’s exactly the plan. “Well, uh… tomorrow then. I’m sure you’ll think of even more things to tell me by then.”

With that, he all but runs out of the room before Sam can reply, and by the time he reaches the communal showers and locks the door to a stall behind him, he feels like a pathetic jerk. He leans against the door and wipes his eyes.

Sam’s happy.

He should be happy for his best friend. And he is. He really is. It’s just…

He really needs to stop crying in the shower.

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