Something soft and warm nudged against Sam's bare leg as he slept. The small touch made the man twitch, but wasn't enough to wake him up completely. He was still in the depths of subconsciousness, but somehow aware that the fuzzy object was moving up his body; tickling its way up his thigh, caressing his side, and eventually pausing to hover near his shoulder. By the time it reached his neck, Sam couldn't ignore the soft tickling anymore. He forced an eye open to blink into the bright room.
Apparently, the soft fuzzy object was Dickie. The tiny dog was sniffing the edge of Sam's shoulder; unaware that he was nudging the man awake with his wet nose. Morning light was shining in from the high basement windows, and Dickie was trying his hardest to snuggle up in a sun ray next to Sam; to claim as much warmth as possible. A smile slipped across the man's sleepy mouth. Sam didn't exactly know from personal experience, but maybe all dogs were like this. Maybe all dogs loved sleeping in sun rays, and snuggling up to humans without a care.
A gentle hand suddenly slid across Sam's bare, open chest.
The man jumped at the sensation, rolling over to see who had touched him. As soon as his eyes fell to the left, Sam was instantly drown in a sea of gold; blonde hair and shiny peach skin everywhere. Gabriel was asleep, and completely naked, lying next to Sam on the basement floor. They were both sprawled on top of the jumbled couch cushions, sharing the same blanket. Gabe was on his stomach, snoring quietly and clinging loosely to Sam with one arm.
It wasn't until Sam's eyes traveled back to Gabriel's hand resting on his chest, that the man remembered the night before. The whole thing replayed in his mind at once – racing to save Gabriel from Raphael, watching him nearly die, kissing him for the first time, surviving Dean's rage, sneaking downstairs to be with Gabe, talking to him, kissing him again, making love to him... Sam blinked at Gabriel's small hand, feeling a mix of approval and shock. Damn. Did all of that really happen in such a short amount of time? Did they really go from having their first kiss, to making love, in less than an hour? How did that happen?
Sam's eyes slowly wandered back over to Gabriel's scruffy face, where the archangel's pouted lips were surrounded by a forest of blonde stubble. Sam was sure that there was something in the Winchester DNA, that always made him feel at least a little guilty whenever he woke up next to someone after a night of raw sex. He assumed that the sudden deaths of his past partners had a role to play in his remorseful conscious; that their deaths were somehow linked with having sex with him, and therefore made him feel bad when he did it again with someone else. But, as he stared down at Gabriel's closed eyelids, Sam was surprised to find that he didn't feel a single ounce of guilt. So what, they had jumped into bed – or, rather, onto the floor – together in less than an hour after kissing? They had been building up sexual tension for days, right? It all had to come to a head at some point...
Sam's smile returned, as he carefully reached up to move a few pieces of Gabe's blonde hair. Though the archangel was still asleep, Sam could tell that Gabriel didn't regret their night together, either. The man could clearly remember the phrase 'I love you' being spoken in Gabe's soft voice. Goosebumps suddenly rose on Sam's skin at the memory. How many times did they exchange those words last night? How many times did Sam confirm his affections to Gabe? How many times did Gabe's eyes light up when Sam said it?
A sudden cough echoed from the stairs.
Sam let go of Gabriel's hair and instantly spun toward the sound – and his heart leaped into his throat. Dean was leaning against a support beam, at the bottom of the basement steps. He was fully dressed in his everyday attire – black t-shirt, faded jeans, dirty boots, no-nonsense attitude – and his green eyes were set in a mild scowl. Dean's arms were crossed, too, making it look like he'd been standing in the same spot for a long time. Sam could feel the blood draining from his own face, as he took in the sight of his older brother. Holy shit. Dean was literally just standing six feet away, glaring down at Sam and Gabriel – who were laying naked together under the same blanket. Terror was on a steady rise in Sam's chest. Oh, no. Dean was going to flip his shit, wasn't he? Was he going to kill Gabe? Was he going to kill Sam? The longer the two of them stared at each other, the more Dean's eyes narrowed.
“I want to talk to you upstairs,” Dean said, finally breaking the awkward silence.
Sam merely blinked; too stunned to actually move. Dean's voice didn't sound as lethal as he was expecting. There was no acid in it at all; no anger, or malice. Dean actually sounded kind of weary, and his body language aided it. The older brother dragged himself from the support beam, in order to walk toward the stairs. He flashed one more glance at Sam on the way up to the first floor.
“Now,” he added gruffly.
The quiet slam of a door reverberated around the basement, and Dean was gone. Sam took several breaths, unable to look away from the spot his brother had been standing in. He was suddenly aware of his whole body; able to feel that most of his bare torso and legs had been exposed while Dean was there. And Gabe's! Oh, God, Gabriel's bare back – and the top of his ass – were laying out in the open! Sam tried to keep his heart from pounding, as he eyed the archangel's body beside him. Thank God, Gabe was still sound asleep. Otherwise, he would probably be freaking out just as much as Sam...
Not wanting Dean to come back downstairs, Sam quickly and quietly edged off the pile of cushions. Gabriel only stirred a little at the movement, but thankfully remained asleep. Once Sam was up, Dickie crawled over to claim the warm spot; curling up next to his owner. Sam's insides were constricting with queasiness, as he retrieved his underwear from inside his discarded jeans. As the man made himself decent, his mind was filling with questions. How long had Dean been in the basement? How long had he been standing there, just staring at Sam and Gabriel like a common stalker? And, why was he acting so calm? After last night's tantrum, Sam was sure that Dean would be ready to murder someone... especially now, after seeing his brother laying naked with the trickster...
Sam took one more look at Gabriel's bare back and messy blonde hair as he started up the stairs, hoping Gabe would stay asleep until he got back. Sam's feet felt like concrete blocks; heavy and unwilling to move. But he forced himself to go upward; knowing that Dean didn't have much patience for waiting. On the way to the basement door, Sam was already trying to prepare a statement for his defense. Should he use the old, 'it's not what it looks like' line? No, Dean wouldn't believe that bullshit. Maybe he could say, 'Gabe was upset and really needed a friend,' instead. Or, if he was really hard-up for an explanation, Sam could always say, 'it was the heat of the moment.' Because it was true, and he knew Gabriel would thoroughly approve of the phrasing.
With a bracing breath, Sam turned the knob and pushed the door open in one quick motion; getting it over with, like ripping off a band-aid. The open living room and kitchen were bright with morning sunshine, and Sam could smell the lovely scent of coffee in the air. Dean came into view as the door swung all the way open. The older Winchester was standing near the wall opposite the basement door; just loitering there, with a steaming mug of coffee in hand.
Sam eyed Dean cautiously, as he took a step forward to shut the door behind him. Dean's face was holding a slight glare, but he still seemed rather docile; with relaxed shoulders, and his free hand stuffed loosely in his pocket. Sam was left feeling overwhelmingly skeptical, by Dean's mellow reaction. Sam knew his brother wasn't an idiot. He knew that Dean was fully aware of what had transpired in the basement last night. So, why wasn't Dean freaking out? Why wasn't he spouting profanities and threatening murder? Sam simply stood by the basement door in nothing but his boxer shorts, waiting to hear the third degree from his older brother.
Dean took a small sip from his coffee, before clearing his throat again. The room was disturbingly silent, and Sam was kind of grateful when his brother started talking. Dean's voice was low and somber; holding only a small trace of bitterness.
“Please tell me that you were wasted last night,” Dean requested quietly, seeming a little disgusted, “Tell me that you found Rufus's liquor stash and drank the whole thing. Tell me that you got so damn smashed, that you couldn't tell who he was.”
Sam gulped. He knew damn well that the 'he' Dean was referring to was Gabriel. But Sam couldn't give his brother the answer that he wanted to hear. As much as he knew Dean would hate it, Sam forced himself to shake his head. No. Sam didn't drink a single drop of alcohol, last night. He had been high on something else; on someone else... Dean took a long, deep breath of exasperation at Sam's visual reply, and hung his head.
“Son of a bitch,” he mumbled, sounding defeated.
Sam quickly tried to come up with a plan of defense; hoping to stop Dean's rage before it flared up again. But he couldn't find the words. How could Sam explain to his older brother – to the one person he had looked up to, for his entire life – that he had grown to love a man? Dean was probably disgusted by Sam already; ashamed that his own flesh and blood would do unspeakable acts with a guy. With Gabriel, of all people. Dean's head rose again and his eyes met Sam's with total seriousness.
“Did he force you somehow, Sam?” the older brother asked, his tone housing protectiveness.
“No,” Sam answered instantly, shaking his head, “No. I – I wanted to.”
Sam could feel the heat on his own face. He wasn't afraid of confessing his love for Gabriel. But having to admit to his brother that he wanted to have sex with the trickster, made Sam feel fifty shades of embarrassed. Dean's eyes squinted and his mouth fell open.
“Why?” Dean asked, sounding a little bewildered, “Last time I checked, you hated that bastard just as much as I do. Hell, his life's mission is to make our lives miserable! Were you really that desperate for a romp in the hay? Honestly, Sammy, why the hell did you want to sleep with him?”
After hearing Dean's question, Sam finally found the defense he had been searching for.
“Because I like him, okay?” Sammy breathed, feeling his own insides trembling with nervousness, “I like him. He's funny, and he's attractive, and he – he makes me laugh when I feel terrible, and he reminds me what it's like to be a kid again, and he makes me feel like I'm important. I know he can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but he can be really sweet, too. Like, just the other night, he actually apologized to me for being rude. Apologized. And, he has a dog, man! An adorable, fuzzy little dog that I can't get enough of. I just can't resist him, Dean. Gabriel means a lot to me, and I like him. Actually, I – I love him.”
A deafening silence settled amongst the room, once the last syllable left Sam's mouth. The two Winchester brothers were staring boldly at each other; Dean with a look of shock, and Sam with an open expression. All of the cards were on the table, now. Dean knew everything about Sam and Gabriel, and Sam was bracing himself; waiting to hear a long rant about the dangers of having sex with other men, or why Gabriel wasn't a suitable partner. But, surprisingly, Dean's calm demeanor didn't falter at all. The older brother seemed perplexed and irritated, but not angry.
“Are you hearing yourself, Sam?” Dean asked, sounding astonished, “You love him? You're talking about the trickster.”
“I'm talking about Gabriel,” Sam corrected.
He knew that Dean was just trying to use any excuse, now; trying to convince Sam that he was crazy for loving someone that was known for being an asshole. But the younger brother stood firm in his affections. Once Sam Winchester loved something, he loved it with his entire soul. And not even Dean could persuade him otherwise...
Dean sighed again, and took another frustrated sip from his coffee mug. His green eyes wandered away for a second, but returned to Sam's. There was something new in his stare, now. Almost a look of pity.
“You know that this is never going to last, right?” he uttered.
Sam's heart plummeted. Never going to last? Why the hell would Dean say something like that?
“What?” the younger brother breathed, feeling queasy again, “Why – why would you -?”
“This is only going to end in one of two ways, Sam,” Dean said, his voice unyielding and his face set with seriousness, “Either Raphael is going win, free the archangels from the cage, and kill Gabriel so that he can keep his grace -”
“Or,” Dean interrupted Sam's angered outburst, raising a finger, “We somehow get the jump on Raphael, and stop him from opening the cage. If that happens, Gabriel will probably get his grace back. And then what, Sam? You think the trickster is going to want to stay in shitty motels with us, while we try to hunt things and save people? You think he's going to come down from his ivory tower to live in the slums with you?”
Sam gulped, feeling the ache of uncertainty swirling in his chest. He didn't want to believe anything Dean said – but what if it was true? What if Gabriel turned into a different person, when he got his grace back? What if he forgot all of those moments that he and Sam had shared; all those words they had told each other?
If Jack had survived the Titanic, and somehow won the lottery, would he have stayed with Rose?
“I... I don't know,” Sam eventually mumbled, trying his best to cling to hope, “All I know, is that I'm happy right now, Dean. So, would you please just let me enjoy it?”
A flash of guilt briefly crossed Dean's face. He seemed to have realized that he had cut Sam to the core with his words. The older brother took a deep breath and ran his hand across his own forehead, as if he was upset by his own actions.
“Sorry,” Dean uttered, “I just – I just don't want you to get hurt, Sammy.”
Sam was still surprised by his brother's behavior. Where was all of this calm remorse coming from? Dean wasn't acting the way Sam thought he would. Dean was actually apologizing for upsetting Sam, and not letting his anger get the best of him. What in the world had happened, to change his perspective? Did Cas have something to do with it? Did their late-night discussion in the bathroom effect Dean's attitude? Sam glanced around the room, suddenly searching for the angel in a trench coat.
“Where's Cas?” Sam asked, not seeing him anywhere.
Dean's body language seemed to change instantly, at Sam's question. His free hand rose to cup his coffee mug and his throat quivered with a sudden swallow. His eyes darted away and his cheeks reddened a little, too; giving Sam the impression that he was embarrassed.
“He left this morning to find the altar,” Dean answered, moving quickly toward the kitchen, “He should be back pretty soon.”
“Altar?” Sam repeated, lost.
“Yeah. The altar for the spell,” Dean replied, as he rinsed out his mug, “It's supposed to be in some church in the deep south. Cas is pretty sure that Raphael already has all three ingredients, so the only shot we have left is to find the altar and destroy it. No altar, no portal. Home team wins.”
Sam nodded slowly. Destroying the altar did seem like a pretty good plan – if they could make it there before Raphael. Dean slowly turned back around to give Sam another look of indifference.
“You better go wake up Shaggy and Scooby, and get their asses ready for battle,” he instructed, “We're leaving as soon as Cas gets here, and Raphael's not gonna go down easily.”
Sam took a deep breath. He knew that his brother was giving him the chance to go back to Gabriel, and he wasn't about to pass it up. As Sam backed toward the basement door, he was trying to think of something to say. Should he thank Dean for remaining calm? Should he reassure Dean that Cas would return safely? Strangely, nothing came out of Sam's mouth, as he turned away. And he knew it was because he was still upset about Dean's predictions of his and Gabe's future...
Just as Sam was about to start down the basement steps, something shiny caught his eye. The man paused to look toward the left, and beheld the giant pile of Butterfingers on the table. Their golden wrappers were shining in the morning light; twinkling deliberately, as if they were trying to get Sam's attention. Sam tossed one last look at Dean, who was digging around in the fridge, before grabbing one of the candy bars off the table. He knew that Gabe wasn't much of a morning person, but maybe a nice orgasm-inducing stick of awesomeness could help him start the day.
On his way back down into the musty basement, Sam could hear a faint noise coming from the floor. It sounded kind of like an infant whimpering, as if it was about to cry. A high pitched whining was accompanying the sound, too; making it difficult to tell them apart. Sam nearly galloped down the steps at once, worried about Gabriel.
The room was in the same condition that Sam had left it in. The couch cushions were in a jumbled mess on the floor, with Gabriel sprawled on them. But the archangel wasn't sleeping peacefully, anymore. Now, he was curled up on one side; face skewed in discomfort and hands clinched into fists. The blanket was barely covering him, because his legs were moving; kicking the blanket away without being aware. And he was making strange noises; panting, and whimpering and slurring words. Dickie was whining and pawing at Gabriel's back, seeming concerned about his owner's condition. What was going on? Was Gabe having a nightmare?
Sam instantly dashed to the make-shift bed, where he knelt down next to Gabriel's face. The archangel was still fighting an enemy in his sleep; jerking and twitching and grunting. Not wanting him to be in distress, Sam carefully clutched Gabriel's shoulder and shook him gently.
“Gabe,” Sam said loudly, “Gabriel. Wake up.”
Though Sam had to shake him several times, the archangel's golden eyes eventually flew open and he sucked in a gasp; as if he'd just been saved from drowning. His body paused its motions while his eyes darted around; taking in the scene with shock. Sam watched him come to his senses, feeling helpless. What kind of dream did Gabe have? Was there anything Sam could do to comfort him?
“Gabe?” Sam repeated softly, reached down to touch his cheek.
The instant Gabriel's eyes met Sam's, the archangel shrank away. He nearly rolled over on the cushions, in an effort to get away from Sam; scrambling backward to cower in fear. His eyes were wide, and seemed to be brimming with pure terror; as if he was staring at Adolf Hitler's reanimated corpse, instead of Sam. Guilt was flowing through Sam's conscious. Why was Gabriel so afraid of him? What the hell happened in his dream?
“It's okay, Gabe,” Sam said, trying his best to comfort the frightened archangel, “I think you just had a bad dream.”
Even with Sam's reassuring words, Gabriel remained petrified. He was panting heavily, causing his chest to heave in and out, and his wide eyes barely blinked. He was staring at Sam with such fear; such absolute horror. For a moment, Sam just stared back at him apologetically, unsure of what else to do.
“S – Sam?” the archangel sputtered, searching the man's face with wide eyes.
“Yeah, it's me,” Sam breathed, feeling a little confused.
Only after taking several large breaths and looking up and down Sam's entire form, did Gabriel crawl back over to him. The archangel clutched Sam's face with both hands and scanned his eyes with fervor, before wrapping him into a tight embrace. Sam hugged him back immediately; burying his nose into Gabriel's soft hair and clinging to his moist back. He could feel Gabriel's facial hair scraping against his shoulder as they held each other, and Gabe's lungs working overtime beneath his skin. Sam stared at the golden strands of hair in front of his eyes, wondering why Gabe had been so afraid of him.
“Gabe? Are you alright?” Sam asked quietly, able to feel the archangel's heart beating fast against his own chest.
Gabriel carefully raised his head to look at Sam's face again. Sam took in the sight of Gabe's stubble and golden eyes, hoping that he had calmed down enough to use actual words. Gabriel's hand was back on Sam's cheek; cupping the man's face with trembling fingers, and tracing Sam's bottom lip with the edge of his thumb.
“You were there... I – I saw you,” Gabe said, apparently trying his best to describe his dream, “You were facing the other way... so I called your name... and you turned around... and I looked at you, but... But I didn't see you... It – it wasn't you... It was... It was...”
Sam swallowed with a hard gulp, able to hear the tiny cracks in Gabe's voice. Gabriel didn't have to finish his sentence, because Sam already knew what he was about to say. The man could feel the answer in his heart; teetering in there like a heavy rock.
“Lucifer,” Sam stated, without feeling.
Gabriel's nodded and looked away; cringing as if he'd just been punched in the gut. Sam's hands were instantly running up and down the archangel's bare back, caressing him in an effort to comfort him. There was nothing Sam hated more, than seeing Gabe in such a state of fear and grief. But he could understand why Gabriel was so upset. The archangel had just had his very first nightmare, and it involved Sam being his brother's vessel. It was no wonder the guy had cowered away from Sam when he woke up. He probably couldn't tell the difference between his dream and reality, at first. Gabriel probably thought he was seeing Lucifer, instead of Sam...
“It was just a dream, Gabe,” Sam whispered, trying his best to sooth him, “Your brothers are still in the cage. And I'm right here, with you.”
“I – I know,” the archangel breathed, resting his forehead against Sam's, “I know it's you. I can see it in your big, beautiful eyes. It's just... Ugh. That was the scariest freaking thing ever. You might have to change my diaper after that one.”
Sam smiled a little, relieved that Gabriel was finally getting his precious sense of humor back.
“Are you okay, now?” the man asked, hoping Gabe would be able to shake off his terrible nightmare.
“Eh. I'm fine, moose. Just a little weirded out,” Gabe dismissed.
Sam continued to watch Gabriel, unsure if he was telling the truth. But Gabe seemed to gradually calm down enough to take a few strong breaths. His eyes softened, and traveled down to stare at his own chest. Sam followed his line of sight, seeing their bare bodies pressed together. Gabriel, of course, was still completely naked, and the only thing Sam had on was his underwear. And the sight must have been humorous to Gabriel somehow, because he gave a small chuckle.
“Oh yeah. You and I got frisky last night, didn't we?” Gabe smiled, before flashing a worried look at Sam, “That wasn't part of the dream, was it? We really did have sex, right?”
“Yes. We did,” Sam nodded, amused.
Gabriel's expression softened again, and he put on his best 'sexy' face. It was rather terrible, actually, because most of his face was covered by the golden beard he'd woken up with. Still, Sam enjoyed watching Gabe sneak their lips closer together.
“Was I any good?” Gabe asked, raising a seductive eyebrow.
Sam could feel heat trying to build up in his cheeks, just from the memory of the night before. All that heat, and sweat, and pleasure, and lust...
“The best I ever had,” the man admitted, voice holding nothing but honesty.
“Wow. Best ever? That must be some kind of record,” Gabe smirked, “What do I win, huh? A lifetime supply of Butterfingers? The keys to your brother's car?”
The mention of Dean made Sam's insides curdle with discomfort. The morning conversation Sam had with his brother was replaying in his mind, making him feel shitty all over again And the thought of it made Sam realize – Gabriel had no idea that Dean knew about them being together. Gabe must have seen the look of worry on Sam's face, because his sexy smirk vanished in an instant.
“I was just kidding. I'm not going to take the Impala keys again. I'm a terrible driver, anyway,” Gabe said, trying his best to coax Sam into smiling.
“Gabe,” Sam gulped, unsure of how to phrase the events, “I think you should know that, um... Dean was here this morning. In the basement. He - he saw us. He knows.”
Gabriel's honey eyes went vacant momentarily. He was blinking repeatedly at Sam with a blank expression, as if it was taking longer than usual to process the words he just heard. The guy might as well have had a loading symbol hovering over his face, because he was motionless for several seconds. Thankfully, he was able to find his voice again.
“But... I'm still alive,” the archangel pointed out, his scruffy face skewing with confusion, “At least, I think I am. Let's see. Dickie's here, and you're here, and there's a Butterfinger... Wait, did Dean already kill me? Is this heaven, Sammy-boy?”
A blush bloomed on Sam's cheeks. He never thought he was important enough to be included in anyone's heaven...
“No, Gabe. We're still alive. And Dean is... surprisingly okay with us being together,” Sam informed, still unable to believe his brother's reaction, “I'm pretty sure Cas had something to do with it. But he's not here, so I can't ask.”
“Cassie's gone? Where'd he go?” Gabe asked.
“He went to find the altar. Dean wants us to be ready to leave when he gets back. Which reminds me,” Sam said, glancing up and down Gabriel's furry face, “You need a shower. And a shave. God, you're starting to look like a member of the Bee Gees.”
“Uh! Hey! Watch your tongue, moosie. The Bee Gees are awesome, thank you very much,” Gabe grinned with pride.
“Yeah, but I don't want to be seen kissing one,” Sam explained.
The archangel's golden eyes softened, and his grin faded into a simpler smile; one full of genuine affection and love. He nestled himself closer in Sam's arms, putting their mouths extremely close together.
“Oh, that's right. I get to kiss you whenever I want, now, don't I?” he whispered.
Sam nodded earnestly and his eyes slowly close, as the distance between their lips vanished. Their kiss held all the same potency that it did the night before; the rush of excitement, the tingle of arousal, the overabundance of pure love... Gabe plucked his mouth away after a moment, and sighed deeply.
“Did you eat Lucky Charms, this morning?” the archangel asked, grinning with mischievousness.
Sam blinked at him with confusion. Lucky Charms? Did Sam's mouth taste like cereal or something?
“Um, no. Why?” he asked, lost.
“Because you're magically delicious,” Gabe answered, bouncing his eyebrows with sophistication.
Sam rolled his eyes at Gabriel's terrible joke, but smiled anyway. There weren't many people in the world that could win Sam over, by comparing the taste of his kiss with a cereal slogan. But Gabriel was, by far, the only exception. Sam met the archangel's smirking lips with another kiss; a wet one, that incorporated their tongues. The two of them held each other in a warm in embrace for a moment, kneeling on Rufus's basement floor, with Dickie watching nearby. And Sam couldn't remember a time that he had been so happy.
“I love you,” Sam whispered into their kiss; his voice echoing in Gabriel's mouth.
Gabe paused to look into Sam's eyes again, and hold the man's face with both hands. Sam remembered the promise he had made the night before; about telling Gabriel that he loved him every single day. And it seemed like Gabriel had just remembered it, too. Because he was staring at Sam with reddened cheeks and a warm smile.
“I love you, too, kiddo,” he replied softly.