Actions

Work Header

Trials and Errors

Chapter Text

Gabriel Tapping knew better. That’s what they were going to write on his tombstone, he thought, as he slowly regained consciousness. No matter how safe the campus was, the area near campus wasn’t as safe, and as an unmated Omega he had no business walking back to campus by himself at two in the morning. He should’ve called Campus Safety, who would have come to pick him up even though he was at an off-campus party, since he was an Omega. But he was buzzed, and young, and immortal, and had taken scent blockers this morning to dull his scent, so he’d assured his friends he’d be fine and headed off into the night. His first error.

It wasn’t fair that your presentation made you so much more likely to become a statistic, but that was the way the world worked. Society had improved dramatically for Omegas since the development of scent blockers, birth control pills, and medications that prevented heats and ruts, but in many ways, Omegas were still second-class citizens.

Not that Gabriel often felt that way. His parents were rich, and actually gave a shit about him and what he wanted, so he was three-quarters of the way done with his bachelor’s degree in business management--he wanted to open his own bakery, and, besides, he was smart, and he didn’t want to waste that staying at home and having pups for some Alpha who didn’t have two brain cells to rub together. He was just lucky he’d been born this century and not last century.

Nowadays, it wasn’t at all unheard of for unmated Omegas to attend college, although it was still rare. At UCLA, Gabriel had found professors and students who were forward-thinking enough that they appreciated him for his brains, not for his ability to procreate, and he’d flourished.

As he cracked his eyes open, Gabriel realized that some of his feelings of safety had been illusory. He hadn’t even bothered to be wary when a dark-skinned Beta about his age had stopped him to ask for the time; he’d just looked down at his watch. Next thing he knew, the Beta was pressing a cloth with something chemical-smelling on it to his nose and mouth. He thought he’d heard a vehicle drive up, and tried to cry out, but wasn’t sure if he’d been able to or not before he passed out.

Now, he was waking up to something foul-smelling. Well, someone. It wasn’t the Beta that had stopped him to ask the time; he’d smelled fairly nondescript, of leather and beer. Instead, it was an Alpha, whose scent was a disgusting mix of cloying flowers, lemons, garlic and onions. Rarely had Gabriel smelled any combination that was so off-putting. He opened his mouth to say something, but realized that there was a strip of cloth tied around his head, gagging him. He went to struggle, next, but found he was securely tied, with ropes around his torso and arms, wrists, knees, and ankles.

The Alpha sitting across from him in the--was it the back of a van? Something like that--just laughed at his attempt to free himself and his rising panic. The choking scent thickened as he leaned forward to leer at Gabriel. He was tall, with a receding hairline and hair fading to gray. He had scars on his face and his hands, speaking to a hard life. “Struggle all you want, little Omega. You’re not getting out of those ropes any time soon. Don’t think anyone’s going to smell you and come running to help, either. We’ve given you medication to block your scent...even more than you’d already taken. Good thing Gordon has a good nose, or we might’ve missed you.”

“Try remembering that when we divvy up the cash this time, Al,” called someone from the front. Gabriel sort of recognized the voice--he was fairly certain it was the Beta who had asked him for the time and then assaulted him.

“Yeah, yeah,” the Alpha called back. “You’ll just waste it on the whores like you do every time.”

“Like you don’t,” came the reply. “At least my tastes aren’t that expensive.”

The figure in front of Gabriel snorted. “They’re called standards, and anyway, it’s better with Omegas.” He was smirking as he looked back at Gabriel, who had frozen as the seriousness of the situation started to become apparent to him. “Too bad you’ll be too expensive for me--this time,” he sneered. “I got a little whiff of you before we gave you the blockers. You smell absolutely delicious. You’re going to make us so much money.”

Gabriel tried to speak around the gag, but it came out muffled. Once again, the Alpha just laughed at him. “Oh yeah. We’re going to take you across the border. We know this guy in Tijuana. Pays handsomely for unmated Omegas like you. Turns them into well-behaved little whores.”

Gabriel’s heart dropped. To be honest, he’d been assuming (okay, hoping) that this was a ransom situation. But if they actually made it into Mexico… He swallowed hard. Mexico still had some very backwards laws about Omegas.

‘Al’ was still talking. “Don’t worry, little one. You’ll enjoy yourself, once they drug you. They’ve got this pill that makes you want to present to anything that moves.” His smile was all teeth. “You’ll be so out of your mind, you’ll beg to be knotted, over and over. And then, after a few years, when they’ve worn you down a little and you’re all scarred up...well, then you’ll be a lot cheaper. And then I’ll come find you, and do whatever I like to you.”

Gabriel started crying. He hadn’t meant to, but he was honestly so terrified that he thought he was going to piss himself if he didn’t release some of the emotion. It just got worse when ‘Al’ leaned down over him, garlic and jasmine clogging his nostrils. He turned his head away from the man, but to his horror, Al set his hand on his shoulder and then licked the tears off of his cheek before nosing at him, leaving his disgusting scent all over Gabriel. “And if you’re worried about pups, well, don’t. They do a little procedure to make certain that’s not an issue.”

Gabriel started to sob, muffled by his gag. He’d never been certain he wanted children, but to have the option just...gone? Part of the point of making a choice to not have children was to actually have the option, one way or another. Al just chuckled, and continued to speak in his ear. “You think you don’t want it, but you do. It’s in your biology. You need to be knotted, and then you’ll finally know your place, little Omega--pleasing Alphas like me.”

The Alpha ran his nose over Gabriel’s scent gland, and the college student let out a whimper. “They’re going to love this smooth, smooth skin of yours. It won’t be smooth for long, though. Every Alpha’s going to want to claim you, even if they won’t be able to keep you. Your entire back is going to be a mess of scars. Our friend lets his clients be as rough as they want. Oh. And if you’re not a good little Omega for them? They’ll cut off your penis, so you can’t feel a thing when you’re taken.”

Gabriel wanted desperately to get away, to do /something/, but he was tied in place. He was panting with fear behind his gag, certain he was going to throw up or worse at any moment. If his scent glands had been working, people from miles around would probably smell his panic.

“Al, knock it off. If you terrify him, those scent blockers might not work completely,” Gordon’s voice came from the front. “And we do not want to get caught with him in the trunk.”

The Alpha hovering above Gabriel snorted, but pulled back. “I don’t smell a thing,” he said, taking a seat on what Gabriel realized must be the trunk they were talking about. It was tiny, and Gabriel couldn’t imagine being stuffed inside. “How far are we from the border?”

“Twenty, thirty minutes,” Gordon said. “You should probably give him another dose and get him in the trunk.”

“Fine,” Al retorted. He took a cloth and a bottle out of his pocket. Gabriel realized it must be chloroform, or something similar. “Say goodbye to the great US of A, little Omega,” he said as he opened the bottle, held the cloth over the top, and then upended it. “When you wake up, you’ll be in Mexico. Property of whatever Alpha has hold of you at the time.” He got entirely too close again, and then put the cloth over Gabriel’s nose and mouth.

Gabriel fought it, but as hard as he was panting, he was asleep in seconds.

---------------

Gabriel was never quite sure if he actually had any memories of the events that followed, or if he’d dreamed it later. There was a strong smell of wool--they’d wrapped him in a blanket before stuffing him in the trunk--and old sweat that was much too clean--probably from Omegas like him that were scent-blocked. It was completely dark, and he felt like he was stuffed into a sardine can. Even if he’d been fully conscious, he probably wouldn’t have been able to move.

Then came light--much too bright--and a smell that calmed him immediately. It reminded him of home, old, dusty books rather than new, but still books, and beer, and fresh lettuce. He nuzzled into the scent, clinging to the person it belonged to. Later, he’d think he remembered comforting, soothing touches and words--a voice telling him that everything would be all right, that he was safe now, that he was going home.

The wonderful smell made him believe it.

-------------------------------------------

When he finally did wake up, the familiar smell of family was interlaced with antiseptic and bleach, and there were beeping machines everywhere. He realized he was in a hospital, and wasn’t that surprised to see his dad hovering over him when he blinked open his eyes. “He’s awake,” Chuck Tapping said warmly, running his fingers through Gabriel’s hair. He smelled of new books, ink, whiskey, and worry.

“Thank everything that’s holy.” Oh dear. That was his mother, Naomi Tapping. An Alpha and a businesswoman, she ran the family with an iron fist, and she was going to be very, very angry once they got the full story out of him. She stalked over to his bed, although her face softened when she looked down at Gabriel. “We will definitely be putting some extra money in the plate this week.”

“I told you he was fine.” Gabriel recognized his brother’s voice before he looked over and spotted him near the end of the bed. Raphael, a rare Omega doctor, was reading his chart. “They gave him some drugs, but that’s all, aside from the rope burns. He’s metabolized the chloroform already, and he’ll get through the scent-blockers soon.”

“Hey, fam,” Gabriel said weakly. “Thirsty?” Chuck immediately grabbed a cup, and put the straw to Gabriel’s lips. Gabriel had never tasted anything quite so wonderful in his life, even if it was just ice water.

“I just wish we’d been the ones to find him. Those assholes don’t deserve a trial.” Ah, at least one of his older brothers was there too--it sounded like Lucifer. Lucifer and Michael, both Alphas, fought nearly constantly. They’d almost killed each other multiple times when they were growing up, and to this day Thanksgivings and Christmases at the family house were...awkward, to say the least.

So, Gabriel was surprised to hear Mikey’s voice too. “I want to rip them limb from limb. You sure they didn’t touch him, Raffie?”

“He’s fine,” Raphael assured him with a roll of his eyes. “Aren’t you?” he asked, looking at Gabriel.

The Omega nodded. “Yeah. Little fuzzy still, bit stiff and sore from the ropes, but mostly okay.” He wanted a washcloth, to wipe Al’s scent off of him, but he knew if he asked for one, the Alphas in his family would probably go nuts. He’d wait until he was alone with Raphael and/or Chuck. “What happened?”

“You were kidnapped,” Naomi said, her eyes glowing red briefly and her scent spiking. Chuck, her Omega, walked around the bed to lean against her in an attempt to calm her. “They were going to take you across the border into Mexico.” Her jaw worked a moment, but nothing more came out.

“Somehow, one of the border patrol officers smelled you.” Michael stepped closer, shaking his dark head of hair. “We still don’t know how. It’s been hours, and none of us can even smell you yet. You don’t know how weird it is, seeing you there but not being able to smell you at all.”

Gabriel offered his family a weak smile. “Hey...Mom...I’m okay. They didn’t do anything.” Besides scare him half to death, tie him up, stuff him in a trunk, and give him a few unwanted touches, but he wasn’t going to just volunteer that last bit of information to the entire family. Maybe Raphael, once the others left. Maybe Chuck, at some point. He wasn’t sure. With that came a thought. “Police?” he asked, still tired.

“We told them to leave you the hell alone until you felt better,” Naomi told him firmly. “They want to ask you about what happened, but there’s no need for you to go through it now. I told them tomorrow at the earliest. Hannah will be here to make sure everything goes smoothly.” Hannah, a Beta, was the family lawyer that was tasked with dealing with delicate matters.

“Get some sleep, son. You’re safe now,” his dad told him, smoothing his hair down. “When you wake back up, we’ll get some food in you and see how you feel then.”

Gabriel nodded, and closed his eyes. He was asleep almost immediately; whether it was due to exhaustion or lingering effects of the chloroform, he wasn’t sure.

Thankfully, when he had the conversation with the police the next morning, the Alpha members of his family were all back at work, and only Chuck and Hannah were with him in the room. He was glad of the support, because he found that relating what had happened to him--regardless of how miniscule it seemed compared to how bad it could have been--was extremely difficult. He frequently had to pause, and Chuck had to supply him with a steady stream of tissues. Chuck started crying himself while Gabriel related what the Alpha in the van had told him about what was going to happen to him.

The detectives--both Betas, and both surprisingly kind--offered their sympathies and told Gabriel how lucky he was; the two men they had in custody, Gordon Walker and Alastair Rolston, had apparently been operating for some time under the supervision of a Beta who went by the nickname Azazel. They were still trying to pry information from the two, but apparently they’d been kidnapping Omegas in the LA area and selling them to a human trafficking ring in Mexico for several years now; a search of their homes had turned up numerous items belonging to missing Omegas.

Gabriel had a hard time not throwing up upon hearing that. He’d come so close to the fate that Alistair had described...thank God for the border patrol agent who’d somehow smelled him. As soon as he had the thought, Gabriel asked the detectives about finding the agent and thanking him. They asked Gabriel and the family to wait to contact the agents involved until after the trials, so that their testimony would be stronger. Hannah agreed, so Gabriel and Chuck said that they’d wait.

“Please don’t tell any of the others,” Gabriel begged his father after the detectives and Hannah had left. He was specifically referring to the unwanted touches and the threats, but right now he couldn’t bear the thought of Chuck telling anyone about any of it.

“I won’t, son. You know I won’t.” Chuck and his two Omega sons were inseparable, and over the years they’d all accumulated a variety of secrets that had been judged unnecessary for the Alphas in their family to know. Gabriel was very glad that his father was there to help him through this.

They went home the next day, not to Gabriel’s dorm room--Gabriel had decided to withdraw from his classes for the rest of the semester to focus on himself--but to their family home in Carbon Mesa. He soon found himself spoiled; his father made all of his favorite dishes, and they had an Omega therapist whom Gabriel absolutely loved, named Garth, make house calls for him. Raphael handled his post-hospital check-ups (he’d have no lasting physical scars from the ropes), and even their mother worked from home a few days each week so she could watch over him. All in all, it was a good environment in which to heal, both mentally and physically.

Chapter Text

Alastair and Gordon were tried together. Gabriel was very much in favor of only sitting through one trial, although he decided to be present for the entire duration. At least one and usually two or three family members joined him whenever possible, and Hannah always accompanied him. He’d grown quite fond of the Beta as she kept him up to date on the legal proceedings prior to the trial. The lead prosecutor was a Beta named Gadreel Penikett, while the lead defense attorney was a slimeball of an Alpha named Zachariah Maury. Thankfully, Hannah made certain Gabriel minimized his contact with the latter--especially since Zachariah, for whatever reason, smelled like jasmine, just like Alistair, and Gabriel now hated the scent.

The State had charged Alistair and Gordon with multiple counts of kidnapping and human trafficking in addition to the charges stemming from Gabriel’s abduction; most of the first two weeks of the trial dealt with the other counts. The testimony largely came from police officers and forensic scientists, who described finding objects and trace evidence belonging to other missing Omegas in the van and in Walker and Rolston’s homes. Several of the families of those still missing were in the courtroom, and Gabriel felt awful for them--none of the other Omegas had been located yet.

Piece by piece, Gadreel slowly and carefully built a logical case against the two men, complete with plenty of evidence. Unfortunately, Hannah had explained to Gabriel that the prosecution’s otherwise excellent case rested on a single fact: the idea that the initial search of the van by the border patrol agents was legal. All of the evidence the police officers were discussing stemmed from searches conducted after that first search that found Gabriel. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem, but the fact that it relied on a border patrol agent smelling the Omega while he was on powerful scent blockers might make it hard to convince the jury. Zachariah would likely do everything in his power to make the jury think such a feat was impossible and that the initial search was unconstitutional--which would make all the searches afterwards illegal, too.

Gadreel had assured them that he had an expert witness that would testify that the Alpha who had smelled Gabriel despite the scent blockers did in fact have an excellent sense of smell. However, Zachariah would probably do everything he could to discredit both the expert and the border patrol agent, and if he could get the jury (or worse, the judge) on his side, it could easily result in a not guilty verdict.

Gadreel didn’t bring in the border patrol officers until a few weeks into the trial. Gabriel still hadn’t had any contact with them, so he didn’t know what they looked like until Gadreel called Dean Winchester to the stand (Hannah had told him that Sam and Dean Winchester were the names of the Alphas who rescued him). Gabriel soon discovered from the testimony that the attractive Alpha with sparkling green eyes wasn’t the one who had actually sniffed him out; Dean described watching over Gordon and Alastair while his brother, Sam, searched the van and then talked about how they took the two into custody after Gabriel was discovered.

Gabriel looked over at the people who had been sitting next to Dean. Based on height, it was clear which one must be Sam. He was tall (hardly surprising for an Alpha), with gorgeous brown hair just long enough to pull back into a ponytail and, to Gabriel’s surprise, a kind expression you usually didn’t see on an Alpha.

After Dean had answered Gadreel’s questions, which covered not only the night in question but also various situations in which Sam had used his keen sense of smell, Zachariah sauntered up to cross-examine the elder border patrol agent. “So, Dean, just so we’re all clear...the van my clients were in was not targeted to be randomly searched, correct?”

“Yeah,” Dean said, reacting to the other Alpha’s presence by crossing his arms and then beginning to fidget. “My brother said he smelled someone, so--”

“I only need a yes or a no answer, Dean,” Zachariah said in a smarmy tone practically guaranteed to ruffle another Alpha’s feathers. “So you yourself did not see or smell anything out of order before your brother searched the truck?”

“No, but--” Dean tried.

“Just out of curiosity, could you smell the Omega after Sam had pulled him out of the van?”

“No,” Dean practically growled, his twitching becoming more pronounced, “but--”

“So your nose was not sharp enough to smell the Omega even after he was freed from the blanket? It seems as if those scent blockers were pretty effective.” Zachariah fake-smiled at Dean.

“Listen, dickwad,” Dean started, slapping his hands down on the bench in front of him and climbing to his feet. The judge, Julian Ritchings, promptly rebuked the border patrol officer and, upon hearing that Zachariah had no further questions for him, declared a short recess until everyone could ‘rein in their tempers.’

Gabriel spent the short recess watching the Winchester brothers. Dean walked back up to what was presumably his brother, who was shaking his head in seeming reproach. Gabriel initially thought that perhaps they got along about as well as Michael and Lucifer (i.e., not at all), but Dean just smiled and shrugged at his brother, took his seat, and soon the two were laughing about something. Gabriel wanted to go introduce himself to the people who had saved his life, but Hannah told him to wait for more than a brief break to do so.

After the recess, Gadreel brought in an otolaryngologist by the name of Anna, who described testing Sam’s sense of smell. She showed the court results that clearly demonstrated that Sam had an exceptional sense of smell--not just above-average; Sam was closer to the top 0.05-0.01% of the population. She also testified that the scent blockers Gabriel had been given didn’t actually block all of your scent, just 98% of it (give or take), and argued that theoretically, someone with Sam’s acute sense of smell should still have been able to smell Gabriel from outside the van, especially if the latter was under or had been under duress. Gabriel began to relax as Gadreel talked Anna through making a very convincing argument.

Once Gadreel was finished, Zachariah cross-examined her. After a few questions meant to cast doubt on her abilities as a doctor and an expert, he asked her, point-blank, if she had any proof that someone who had taken as many scent-blockers as Gabriel had been given had ever been smelled by someone else. Unfortunately, Anna had to admit that she did not, but maintained that it was theoretically possible.

Zachariah immediately turned to the judge. “Motion to dismiss all charges against my clients,” he said, “as the State has no proof that such an event is even possible, meaning that the initial search of my clients’ van, and any searches that occurred afterward, were unconstitutional.”

Nearly everyone in the courtroom started talking at once, so Judge Ritchings yelled for order and banged his gavel. “Approach the bench, both of you,” he said as he narrowed his eyes at Zachariah. Gadreel went up and stood next to Zachariah, and the three began talking in hushed tones.

Gabriel, who had one of Chuck’s arms as well as his comfortable smell of books, ink, and whiskey wrapped around him, watched the lawyers and the judge carefully. He was fairly certain from observing Zachariah’s behavior that the defense attorney’s nose would be a nice shade of brown when he turned back to the courtroom. The judge didn’t look particularly impressed, but Gabriel honestly wasn’t sure the odd-looking man would look impressed for anything short of a nuclear bomb.

Gadreel started out relaxed, but gradually tensed and made a few angry gestures as the conversation went on. When they finally reached a conclusion and Gadreel turned back to the spectators, he seemed as if he was calm and in control, but Gabriel could see a muscle in the prosecutor’s forehead twitching. Chuck’s arm tightened around Gabriel’s shoulders. ”It’ll be okay,” he whispered in Gabriel’s ear. “No matter what happens, you’re safe, and that’s what’s important.”

“The court will recess for half an hour. We will reconvene at 3:00,” Judge Ritchings announced, before banging his gavel again and leaving the courtroom. Gabriel supposed it was better than an announcement that he was dismissing all charges, but he definitely didn’t feel comfortable with this new turn of events.

Almost immediately, one of Gadreel’s assistants, a particularly eager young paralegal named Jack, came hurrying over to Naomi. “We need to meet with you and your family right now in conference room C; that’s just down the hall a few doors. It’s important. Don’t worry, Mr. Penikett has everything under control.”

Naomi, who was sitting on the other side of her husband, nodded at Jack. “Very well,” she said, before standing and ushering them all (Hannah, Gabriel, and Chuck) out of the courtroom. As they left, Gabriel heard several family members of the missing Omegas asking Jack for more information about what was happening.

As soon as they were out in the hallway, Naomi glanced over at Hannah. “What do you think this is all about?”

Hannah shook her head. “I don’t know,” she admitted. Her smell of roses and Lily of the Valley spiked in Gabriel’s nose; she was upset. “This isn’t normal, but Justice Ritchings has always been a bit...unpredictable. I suspect he might want to have Gabriel’s scent collected by an expert and then used to test Sam, or something similar.”

“Why haven’t they already done that?” Naomi asked.

“We didn’t want Gabriel to have to go through any more tests than he had to,” explained Hannah. “The process of extracting someone’s scent isn’t horrible, but it’s not exactly pleasant, either. And it takes a few days to do properly. Also, there was the risk that Sam wouldn’t be able to smell it. Better a theoretical possibility than a negative result.”

They were the first to arrive at the conference room, and took seats along the far wall. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the other families who joined them; instead, it was the Winchester brothers. The two nodded politely to them, and then sat down across from Gabriel’s family and Hannah. Taking a deep breath, Gabriel realized that he recognized the combination of their scents--old books, beer, motor oil, and lettuce or some other green. He really wasn’t sure why it all smelled so good--especially the lettuce; he didn’t even like vegetables much. The beer also should have been a problem, what with Gordon’s scent, but Gordon’s smelled stale and cheap, while Dean’s and/or Sam’s smelled as if it were fresh from the tap.

Before they could even introduce themselves, Gadreel, Jack, and Gadreel’s other assistant, Jessica, walked in. Gadreel sat at the head of the table, while the others mostly filled in the empty seats on the Winchester’s side of the table.

“What’s going on here?” Naomi demanded as soon as everyone was seated. “Please tell me Justice Ritchings isn’t planning to dismiss the charges.”

“No,” Gadreel said immediately, shaking his head, “But he is thinking about seriously considering the motion.” He had to hold up a hand to keep Naomi from interrupting him. “Unless we provide him evidence that it is possible for Sam to smell someone on scent-blockers. We therefore asked if we could postpone the trial for a few days in order to have additional tests done on Gabriel and Sam, assuming they are both willing.”

“Sam will do anything you need him to do to make sure those assclowns end up in jail forever,” Dean interjected. Sam nodded in agreement.

“Be that as it may,” Gadreel continued, “Justice Ritchings does not want to, quote, ‘waste everyone’s valuable time’ by postponing the trial. Instead, the defense proposed a ludicrous, unscientific method we could use to prove our point, and Ritchings wants us to agree to it.” It was the first time Gabriel had heard any heat in Gadreel’s voice. “Otherwise, he will ‘seriously consider’ the defense’s motion.”

Gadreel waited for everyone to process that, and then picked up where he left off. “Please understand that him considering the option does not mean that he would definitely agree to drop the charges, just that he would think about it. He did point out that it was in the prosecution’s best interest to provide more than just theoretical proof that Sam can do what Anna says he can do; however, we are not obligated to do so. At the moment, I am planning to tell Justice Ritchings to consider the motion. If he does, and he denies it, the trial will continue as we planned. If he accepts it, we can appeal; I’m certain we can make a more reasonable judge accept our evidence, and in the meantime, we can have additional tests done.”

“Wait.” Naomi, the epitome of a businesswoman, was not about to let one of the only two options remain unexplained. “What did the defense propose doing?”

Gadreel shook his head. “That we give Gabriel a dose of scent blockers, put in him a random room upstairs, and then have Sam find him in front of the judge and jury. I don’t like the number of variables involved.” Gabriel could tell that what he really meant was that he didn’t have 100% confidence in Sam’s abilities.

Nearly everyone in the room started talking, either in favor of or opposed to the defense’s proposal. Gabriel kept his mouth shut, for now, and watched the conversation as if it were a sporting event. It was obvious that not everyone on Gadreel’s team liked the idea of doing nothing, while Gabriel’s family didn’t like the idea of putting Gabriel through any tests at all; Dean, however, was very vocal about demanding that his brother be given the chance to prove himself.

Gabriel expected Sam to be arguing just as loudly, but instead, when he looked over toward the brothers, he discovered that Sam was also watching the other people at the table--in fact, their eyes met, and the Alpha gave Gabriel a small, reassuring smile. Fuck me, he’s got dimples, Gabriel thought.

Sam waited until the arguments had trailed off before clearing his throat to get everyone’s attention. Suddenly, Gabriel wasn’t the only one watching him. “While the ultimate decision rests with Mr. Penikett, the representative of the State, our options are limited by what Gabriel is willing to do. I’m willing to submit to the defense’s test.” He met Gabriel’s gaze again. “So, it seems to me that it’s past time to ask him what he wants to do.”

Gabriel’s eyes widened. An Alpha deferring to an Omega was rare, /especially/ when there was an Alpha who could represent him (Naomi) in the room. Thankfully, he’d always been extroverted, and he’d sat through enough class discussions to know what to do when the teacher called you out like that--give yourself time to think by answering the question with a question. “That depends--are you sure your nose is as good as you say?”

Sam didn’t seem to be upset by Gabriel questioning his abilities, although behind him, Dean looked disgruntled. “I smelled you in that van. I’ll be able to smell you again if given the opportunity. I wouldn’t say I could if I wasn’t absolutely sure.” He met Gabriel’s gaze the entire time.

Gabriel nodded slowly, convinced. This wasn’t Alpha bravado; he was certain that Sam was telling the truth. “Can you tell me what the test would involve on my part?” He directed this at Gadreel.

With a resigned expression, Gadreel nodded and explained, “Of course. You, a member of the prosecution, and a member of the defense team would take scent blockers. A doctor appointed by the court would make certain you swallowed them. You’d all have to take showers and get into clean clothes. The doctor would have to watch you to make certain you washed yourself properly.”

“Then, the three of you would go to one of the floors upstairs and hide in one of the rooms, randomly determined by the judge and only known to you three and the judge. The jury, judge, and so on will go up to that floor, have the opportunity to try to determine where you are for themselves, and then we would bring up Sam and have him find you.”

Gabriel considered it. Aside from having to be next to a member of the defense team, and the shower, it didn’t sound too bad. It also didn’t involve Gordon or Alistair, which he had been seriously afraid of.

“I don’t like it,” Naomi said flatly. Hannah was nodding along. “With no offense to you, Sam, it seems like this could go wrong in any number of ways. Are we sure the judge won’t let us take a few days for additional testing in a medical facility?”

“No,” Gadreel replied, spreading his hands. “Judge Ritchings has a flair for the dramatic. It’s this, or allow him to consider the defense’s motion to drop all the charges.”

Gabriel looked up, and met Sam’s eyes. The other man was projecting confidence, but also sympathy. Gabriel studied his face for a few moments, and then finally gave him a slight nod before putting a hand on his mother’s arm. “I want to do it.”

This started another round of arguments at the table, but he focused on his mother. “No, mom, listen.” He gave her his best resolved look. “We can’t let these douchebags get away with this. The test won’t hurt me, and Sam seems sure he can do it. If he does, there won’t be any doubt in the jury’s mind, and they’ll have to convict them. I want them to go to prison. Just…” he looked over at Gadreel, who had quieted when he started talking. “Is there any way to make sure the person for the defense isn’t Zachariah? I’m not sure I could avoid throwing up if it were him.”

Sam snorted out a laugh, which he quickly stifled, and it made Gabriel feel slightly better. Meanwhile, Gadreel began to slowly nod along. “Yes, it wouldn’t make sense for the lead defense attorney to be the one to take you upstairs. For our part, it would probably be Jack here, unless you have any objections.” The young man in question beamed at Gabriel, and he essayed a small smile back at him as Gadreel sighed. “I suppose I can agree to this if you’re all certain, but I have to say I’m not completely comfortable with it.”

Naomi, apparently having realized that her son had made up his mind, next rounded on Sam. “Before I even consider letting this farce of an ‘experiment’ happen, I need you to look me in the eye and swear to me that you will still be able to smell him.”

“Look, lady--” Dean started, but Sam put a restraining hand on his brother’s arm before raising his hands toward Naomi in a placating gesture. He also tipped his head to the side, baring his throat to the female Alpha for a brief moment. Gabriel watched as Sam then met Naomi’s eyes, and was surprised by his lack of anger. Most Alphas didn’t react well when their abilities were questioned.

“I swear to you, I can do this. I smelled your son back at the border in the trunk and through that blanket, and I will find him tomorrow in front of the judge and jury if that’s what it takes to convince everyone I can do this. If I don’t, you can rip my throat out, because I’d deserve it for letting those two loose on society again.” Everyone seemed a bit stunned at Sam’s pronouncement (ripping throats out was not particularly common in modern society), but Gabriel found himself grinning fiercely.

Naomi raised one perfectly-manicured eyebrow before nodding. “Very well.” She then turned to Gadreel. “It seems that we are consenting to the Matlock option.”

He nodded, sighed, and then looked around the table. “All right. If no one has anything else…”

“Actually, I’d like to thank these boys,” Chuck said, “If that’s okay with everyone. But we don’t need you to stay,” he told Gadreel.

Naomi glanced over at Chuck, and then nodded her head in agreement. “Yes, it’s high time we thanked them properly.”

As Gadreel and his assistants made to leave, Chuck stood and rounded the table, holding out his hand for first Sam and then Dean to shake. “I can’t tell you how much having our boy back means to us,” he told them as his voice thickened with emotion. “I don’t think we could ever do anything to thank you enough, but if you ever need /anything/, just contact us.”

Naomi was a bit slower as she led Gabriel and Hannah around the table, but she also shook hands with both of them. “Yes, thank you, and thank God for giving you the ability to find my son. I don’t know what we would have done if we’d have lost our precious Gabriel. As Chuck said, after all of this is settled, if there’s anything we can do for you, please let us know.”

“It’s all in a day’s work for us, ma’am,” Dean grinned as he shook their hands. Now that Gabriel was closer, he could tell the scent of beer and motor oil was coming from Dean, and he could see a small mating bite on top of his scent gland. “Though if you know anyone that sells classic car parts for cheap, I wouldn’t say no to an introduction.”

“Dean!” Sam glared over at his brother, and Gabriel had to smile; it sounded exactly like various exchanges he’d had all of his life with Rafa and, to a lesser extent, with Michael and Lucifer.

As Gabriel stepped up to shake Sam’s hand, he finally got a lungful of his scent. He wasn’t exactly surprised by the smell of old books, beer, and fresh lettuce, but he enjoyed it nonetheless. Meanwhile, he kicked his brain to try to figure out what you should say to the person who literally saved your life. Thankfully, his mouth was often able to act on autopilot. “I want to say thank you, but I’m not sure that’s enough for what you did for me.”

Sam gave him a brilliant, dimpled smile. Damnit. “I understand. I just wish these two had come through our checkpoint earlier; then you never would’ve had to go through any of this.”

Wait, was the Alpha blaming himself for what had happened to Gabriel? What the hell? Gabriel immediately shook his head, and forgot to let go of Sam’s hand. “This is NOT your fault, Sam. You’re a damn hero.”

Sam blushed--blushed!--in response and mumbled something unintelligible. Dean, who was watching the exchange, laughed and slapped his brother on the back before taking Gabriel’s hand to shake. “I keep trying to tell him that,” he said, winking at the Omega. “But he won’t listen to me and use the story in bars to get free beers and pick up Omegas like he should.”

“Dean!” Sam shoved his brother, who just laughed and let go of Gabriel’s hand to shove him back. Gabriel found himself missing the contact, not with Dean, but with Sam. The only good part about stepping back was noticing that Sam didn’t have a mating bite.

“Hey, I don’t suppose--” Gabriel started to ask for Sam’s phone number, even though his parents were right there, but he was interrupted as Jack came back into the room.

“Court’s starting in a couple of minutes!” the kid announced. The group of them sobered up and made their way back into the courtroom, where Justice Ritchings entered and then asked the lawyers to approach the bench again. Gabriel wanted to smack the smug look off of Zachariah’s face when he turned around and took a seat.

Justice Ritchings announced that the court would recess and reconvene at 10:00 the next morning. He also ordered Gabriel, Sam, Jack, and Amara, one of Zachariah’s assistants, to present themselves in his chambers two hours prior to that time.

Gabriel left the courtroom hoping that Sam was really as good as he said, and that he’d be able to get Sam’s number at some point.

Chapter Text

Chuck dropped off Gabriel at the courthouse about fifteen minutes early the next day. It was spring, so it was light outside already, although the air was still chilly. He made his way to Judge Ritchings’ chambers, where they found a bailiff, Ritchings, Jack, and Sam already waiting. Jack and Sam smiled at him, while the judge just nodded to some chairs. Gabriel returned the smiles, though he was nervous; this had seemed like a much better idea yesterday.

An older Beta Gabriel didn’t know walked into the room a few minutes after he’d sat down. Gabriel figured it was the court-appointed doctor, since the man smelled of antiseptic. Amara walked in a few minutes after that.

“Sam, if you would please leave now; Mr. Turner, please accompany him to Conference Room B,” Justice Ritchings said. Nodding, Sam got up, gave Gabriel a reassuring smile, and walked out with the bailiff, whom Gabriel figured was going to ‘guard’ Sam until it was time for him to ‘find’ the Omega.

“Very well. Doctor Monster?” The older Beta, who had been preparing things at a side table, stepped forward. He handed Amara a paper cup with some pills in it and a paper cup full of water; she dutifully swallowed the pills and allowed the doctor to check her mouth with a flashlight. Gabriel and Jack did the same when it was their turn.

The doctor glanced at his watch. “We’ll need to wait half an hour for them to take effect, Your Honor,” he told Justice Ritchings, “Then I can take them down to the showers.”

The judge nodded and then looked at the three human guinea pigs. “I had Mr. Turner bring in some magazines,” he said, indicating another side table. “If you would like some entertainment while you wait.” Cell phones and other electronic devices weren’t allowed in the building.

Jack immediately leapt up and started leafing through the pile of magazines, while Gabriel followed him more slowly. He didn’t particularly like magazines, as nowadays it was so hard to tell where the stories ended and the ads began, but he knew he’d get bored waiting otherwise.

Jack grabbed a copy of Golf Digest, which amused Gabriel; Jack didn’t look old enough to play golf. He himself deliberately passed by Omegas’ Home Journal, even though it promised, ‘50 recipes to tickle the tastebuds of your Alpha.’ Instead, he picked up a copy of Business Weekly to take back to his seat. He didn’t see what Amara chose.

The half-hour passed both too slowly and too quickly. The magazine wasn’t really grade A entertainment, so Gabriel was bored and the time seemed to drag on forever, but whenever he looked up at the clock and found that some time had passed, it was a sudden step closer to the ‘experiment’ that had his stomach tying itself in knots. What if, after all this, Sam couldn’t find him today?

Eventually, Dr. Monster (Gabriel asked, and yes that was his real last name) led them down to a lockable bathroom that contained a shower stall. The doctor suggested they make use of the other facilities since the experiment may take a few hours, and they did. Jack then volunteered to go first, so the doctor instructed him on how to brush his teeth and tongue and then how to wash himself. The doctor watched both procedures with clinical dispassion and, when Jack emerged from the shower with a clean towel wrapped around himself, handed him a clean pair of scrubs and some flip-flops, which he went back in and put on.

Gabriel was next. Brushing his teeth was fine, although annoying since it seemed it had to last longer than all the times he’d ever brushed his teeth put together, but showering in front of the doctor was mildly uncomfortable, although thankfully the Beta’s professional demeanor never slipped. Eventually (they had to wash themselves for 15 minutes), the doctor handed him a towel and then a clean pair of scrubs, which he gratefully pulled on. He put on the flip-flops a little less gratefully, if truth be told. Flip-flops weren’t sexy.

Finally, it was Amara’s turn, and if she was uncomfortable with the male doctor watching her, she didn’t say anything. Gabriel and Jack stood as far away as possible with their backs turned to give her some additional privacy.

When all three of them were ready, Dr. Monster (Gabriel had to stifle a fit of hysterical giggles this time when he thought about the name) told them not to touch anything, not even hand railings, as they walked back to Judge Ritchings’ chambers. He opened doors and held them open for the group along the way.

“Here you are, Your Honor. They’re all yours now,” Dr. Monster said once they arrived, setting a couple of bags containing their clothing and shoes down on the side table.

“Thank you, Gaines. Fish and chips Thursday after work?” Justice Ritchings asked.

“Absolutely; see you then,” the man apparently named Gaines Monster replied as he left the room.

All Gabriel could smell in the room now besides faint traces of Monster, Sam, and the bailiff was Justice Ritchings’ scent, which smelled like something freshly deep-fried and ancient decaying paper. He couldn’t smell Jack’s regular fennel and sage, nor Amara’s odd geranium and phosphorus combination.

“I will now take you three upstairs,” Justice Ritchings announced. They left his chambers and walked over to an elevator. Once they were inside and ascending, the judge explained, “All of the offices on this floor have been vacated, cleaned, and left unlocked. You are to enter the office I tell you to enter using the sleeve of your scrubs on the doorknob, use an elbow to close the door behind you, then proceed to the other end of the room. Once there, please set up this tape recorder,” he held one up, “And hit record. That way, if there is a dispute about whether or not anyone made any noise later, we can review the record and judge for ourselves. You should all sit down and make yourselves comfortable, as it may be some time before we bring Sam up. Do not make any noise until the experiment is finished. Do you understand?”

Gabriel’s mouth had gone dry, but he nodded, and Jack chirped, “Yes, Your Honor.” Amara made a vague affirmative noise.

“Very well. Room 917,” Justice Ritchings told them before handing the recorder to Amara. She took it, and the three of them walked down to the room the judge had indicated. All of the offices on the floor had heavily frosted windows, so no one would be able to see them once inside unless they were close to the glass and moving. Jack carefully opened the door with his sleeve, and then pushed it shut with his elbow once they were all inside. They made their way to the back of the office, which contained three desks, and Amara set the recorder down and turned it on. Jack indicated that Gabriel should take the comfortable chair behind the last desk, so he did. Amara sat down in the chair across from that, her back to the hallway, while Jack pulled a chair over from behind another desk and sat in it.

And then...they waited. For what seemed like forever. Gabriel didn’t have a watch, but there was a clock on the wall, and it was good half-hour before they started hearing noises on the floor. People eventually began walking up and down the hallway, and Gabriel assumed that this was the jury being allowed to smell for themselves if they could tell which room the three of them were in.

After another ten or fifteen minutes, all of the noises receded to the elevator end of the hallway and then things got quiet. A few minutes later, Gabriel could hear a single set of footsteps echoing through the now oddly empty-sounding hallway.

Gabriel shouldn’t have been nervous; he knew he had no control over what Sam could or could not do at this point, but his stomach was still roiling. He couldn’t smell Jack or Amara at all, and they were both much closer to him than any of them would be to Sam.

When he heard the footsteps in the hallway walk past their office, his stomach plummeted. Shit, he thought. So much for putting the bad guys in prison forever.

Then the footsteps stopped, and Gabriel found himself holding his breath. The footsteps turned around, though initially they headed for the office across from theirs. Gabriel stared at the second hand on the clock, as if this was a timed event. It actually seemed like it; they’d first heard the solitary footsteps less than a minute ago.

The footsteps came back toward their side of the hall, but also went a few feet past the door, toward the elevator. Tick, tick, tick went the clock. The footsteps turned one last time and headed back, straight toward their door.

No fucking way, Gabriel thought, as he sat there, every muscle as tense as a piano string. He’s done it.

All three of them jumped when Sam spoke up right in front of their office door. “They’re in here,” he said confidently, before opening the door to the office. Half a moment later, he was framed in the doorway, beaming at them.

Gabriel beamed back. He wanted to launch himself out of the chair and into Sam’s arms, but realized at the last minute that (a) it would be unseemly, and (b) it might mess up the experiment if he emerged from the room with Sam’s scent all over him. In any case, there were a couple of desks between them. Instead, Gabriel stood and craned his neck up at the Alpha--who grew that tall? “Hi there, Jolly Green. Looking for something?”

“Not anymore,” Sam replied. Gabriel couldn’t blame the Alpha for the hint of smugness in his smile.

“C’mon, let’s go out so they can all see us!” Jack said from where he was sitting. Sam looked over at Jack and nodded before turning to lead them all out. When he did, Gabriel was extremely pleased to hear an impressed murmur go through the crowd...and even more pleased to see Zachariah looking as if he’d just bitten into the world’s most bitter lemon.

The four of them made their way over to the jury, and Jack immediately invited the members to scent him to see if they could pick anything up directly from his glands. A few asked if they could do the same to Gabriel, and, after a moment’s hesitation, he allowed it. He wasn’t precisely happy about it, but he knew how important this was to the case, and everyone who took advantage of the opportunity was at least respectful.

As one of the jurors was running her nose along Gabriel’s neck, he happened to notice the small, smug smile Justice Ritchings was wearing. Unpredictable, indeed. The judge caught his eye and widened his smile before announcing that court would resume after lunch, with Zachariah continuing his cross-examination of Sam.

Speaking of Sam, as the group broke up, Gabriel smelled him coming closer, and turned to seem him walking up behind him. “Are you all right?” Sam asked. His expression was a bit darker than Gabriel had ever seen it, and his eyes were on the last jury member that had scented Gabriel.

The Omega grinned up at him. “I’m fine, Sam,” he said. “Now that you’ve been my guardian angel a second time.”

Sam’s expression softened as he looked down at Gabriel. “Good,” he said, before quirking his lips upward. “I told you I could do it.”

“Yeah, but I still don’t know how. I was closer to Jack and Amara than you were and I couldn’t smell anything,” Gabriel replied, starting to walk toward the elevator; he wanted to get back to Justice Ritchings’ office so he could change. Sam fell into step beside him.

The tall Alpha shrugged. “I’ve just always had a sensitive nose. Hell, I could tell you what half of the jury ate this morning, if you wanted. When I’m around a bunch of people, I usually have to take meds to dull it, or I end up getting awful headaches.”

“I think I figured out a few of their meals already,” Gabriel quipped, making Sam chuckle. He liked the sound of the Alpha’s laughter. Damn, he was definitely falling for him. Speaking of which… “I don’t suppose you have a pen I could borrow?”

“A pen?” Sam blinked, then took one out of his shirt pocket and handed it over. Gabriel tried not to imagine the other man with a pocket protector, because the mental image was just too adorable. And dorky. Adorkable? Yeah, that fit the Alpha in front of him.

Gabriel glanced around, noticing that the rest of the group had gone on ahead; most had already filed into the elevator or the stairwell. With a flirty grin, he grabbed Sam’s hand and pushed the sleeve of his shirt up a little, then wrote his number on Sam’s inner forearm. “Text me sometime and we can go out,” he said. “If you want to wait until after the trial, that’s fine.”

Sam actually blushed as Gabriel put his pen back in his pocket. “Um, I--uh, I mean…”

“Don’t tell me you’re one of those Alphas who can’t handle an Omega asking them out,” Gabriel said teasingly, wrinkling his nose. He was already pretty certain that Sam wasn’t like that.

“No!” Sam blurted out quickly, “It’s just--”

“You’re already seeing someone?” Gabriel usually wasn’t quite this forward, but he couldn’t help it; it was fun teasing Sam, now that they’d pretty much guaranteed a conviction in the trial. Well, Sam had.

“No, but...I...I don’t want to take advantage of you,” Sam finally managed, looking a bit wild-eyed.

Gabriel couldn’t help it; he rolled his eyes as he finally walked over to push the button to call the elevator back to their floor. They were alone now; everyone else had left. “Maybe I want you to take advantage of me,” he told the Alpha, who slowly turned red in the face and started spluttering. Gabriel normally liked them a little smoother than this, but somehow the flustered look was cute on Sam. “Look, if you think I want to go out with you only because you saved my life--although I can’t imagine what’s wrong with doing something to thank you for that--I don’t. You’re handsome, you’re nice, and I’d like to get to know you a little better. We can start off just texting if you want to take things slow.”

Sam followed him onto the elevator. “Thank you,” he finally managed, rubbing the back of his neck as he slowly lost his blush.

“You’re welcome,” Gabriel beamed at him. “Alpha,” he couldn’t help but tease, “Just don’t lose the number.”

“I won’t,” Sam promised, as the elevator took them back to the floor with Justice Ritchings’ chambers on it. Gabriel got off, while Sam stayed in. Gabriel gave Sam a wink, and then turned to go retrieve his clothes, smiling to himself. Operation: Phone Number had gone perfectly.

.oOOo.

Later that afternoon, after Gabriel had changed back into his real clothes and told his family all about what had happened upstairs over lunch, Sam finished testifying. There wasn’t much more Zachariah could do to try to discredit him after the decisive experiment, although the defense attorney certainly tried.

Gabriel was the next witness Gadreel called up to the stand. Hannah and Jack had coached him on what he should do, so he spent most of the time looking over at the jury or at the judge as he answered Gadreel’s questions. He tried to cut down on his natural tendency to joke around, though he couldn’t completely stop; at least, not until they got to the part of the testimony that he’d been dreading, where he had to explain, in detail, what had happened to him. There wasn’t anything funny about that.

He recounted the story, and, when prompted, identified both Gordon and Alistair as his kidnappers. He also gave a detailed description of their scents. At one point, he had to look back at his family and take a moment or two to breathe in order to avoid gagging and throwing up; he could suddenly feel those ropes around him and taste Alistair’s awful scent in the air.

Gadreel gave him time to compose himself when he needed it, but he knew that when Zachariah came up to ask him questions, he wasn’t going to have that luxury. Thankfully, court recessed after Gadreel was finished asking him questions, so he didn’t have to deal with Zachariah until the following day.

He didn’t notice the text he’d gotten from an unknown number until the next morning: “Good job testifying today; that must have been hard. I’ll be there tomorrow, but then my brother and I have to go back to work. Don’t let Zachariah get to you.” Smirking, amused by the fact that Sam actually used capitalization, punctuation, and grammar while texting, Gabriel quickly texted back, ‘thx i wont!’ before setting his phone down and leaving for court. His entire family would be there today to support him; he actually kind of hoped Zachariah tried to do something horrible to him, because between Michael, Lucifer, and Naomi, and maybe Sam, his brain added, there wouldn’t be anything left of the smarmy dick if he did.

Unfortunately for Gabriel and fortunately for him, all Zachariah did was ask questions. After some straightforward ones which Gabriel had expected, though, Zachariah stooped low: “So, can you tell us approximately how much alcohol you consumed at this party you were at on Friday night?”

Gabriel just stared at the defense attorney for a few seconds, and he heard several growls of disapproval from the spectators. At least one hadn’t originated from the seats his family occupied, and his heart gave a little lurch. That set off a chain reaction, where he opened his mouth and, instead of employing the filter he ought to be using for court, set phasers to maximum snark. “Yes, I can,” he responded. “And before you ask, my skirt went all the way down to my knees. It wasn’t short at all.” One of the female jurors actually snorted in amusement and then looked abashed.

Zachariah glared at Gabriel. “Answer the question, Mr. Tapping.”

“I did. You asked if I could tell you how much alcohol I’d had, and I said that I could, in fact, do so.” Gabriel purposefully didn’t make eye contact with the judge or Gadreel, whom he was certain was probably shaking his head in disapproval right about now.

Zachariah visibly ground his teeth; it seemed he couldn’t take what he liked to dish out. “Please,” he growled, “Tell the court how much alcohol you think you had at that party.”

“When I left,” Gabriel said, purposefully phrasing his answer in a manner that wouldn’t allow Zachariah to cut him off early, “I estimate that my blood alcohol content was approximately .11 or .12%, based on my weight and the fact that I had five drinks at the party, which lasted about three hours.” He deliberately waited until Zachariah turned around to add, “Not that it has any bearing on the fact that your clients kidnapped me.” By the time Zachariah had whirled around to stop him from completing his sentence, Gabriel had already finished and put on his most innocent face--the one that always got him in trouble with his parents because it made them absolutely certain he’d done something wrong.

“Why didn’t you call the campus shuttle service?” Zachariah asked next.

“Because I’m not psychic, so I didn’t know your clients were going to kidnap me on my way home,” Gabriel retorted.

“Are you sure you didn’t miscalculate the amount of alcohol you drank at the party?” Zachariah asked him. “Could you have passed out on your way home?”

“Well, I’m just an Omega, so math is really hard for my tiny brain, but I’m pretty sure I had, let’s see...one, two, three beers,” he very pointedly raised his middle finger first toward Zachariah while ‘counting’ on his fingers, “plus two shots over the course of three hours, and that adds up to...hmm, five drinks, which is NOT enough to make my two-hundred pound plus ass pass out while walking home. Feel free to check my math, though; I could be wrong.”

“Your Honor!” Zachariah finally protested.

Justice Ritchings cleared his throat. “Mr. Tapping. I believe your mother is in the courtroom today. Please act like it.”

Gabriel tried not to snark. He really did. And then he failed. “I am, Your Honor. My mother taught me not to suffer fools.”

“Be that as it may,” Judge Ritchings spoke over the top of Naomi’s laughter, “You are dangerously close to being found in contempt of court. Please act accordingly.”

Gabriel managed to swallow the first thing that came to mind, about being in contempt of Zachariah but not the court, and instead managed, “Yes, Your Honor.”

Zachariah had been silently fuming his way through their exchange. When Gabriel looked back at him, he continued his line of questioning. “Is it possible you drank those drinks over a shorter time period? Say, within the last hour before leaving the party?”

“No,” Gabriel replied. “No one goes to a party and doesn’t start drinking until two hours in.”

“Is it possible you forgot about some drinks that you had that night?”

“No.”

“Are you taking any medications that might affect your ability to metabolize alcohol?”

“No.”

Zachariah paused and seemed to re-collect himself. “Have you ever blacked out after a night of drinking?”

Gabriel bit back, ‘hasn’t everyone?’ and went for a safer option. “Once, on my twenty-first birthday. The hangover was a bitch, so I never drink that much anymore.”

“How much alcohol had you had the night you blacked out?” Zachariah seemed to think he was getting somewhere, and Gabriel was hard-pressed not to roll his eyes.

“Twenty-one shots, plus a couple of beers. From about 9PM to 2PM. Which, for the record, would put my blood alcohol level somewhere over 0.35, nearly three times my level on the night when--”

“Yes, yes.” Zachariah managed to cut him off this time before he could point out that he was kidnapped again. “Is it possible that you stumbled, slipped and fell, and hit your head on that Friday night?”

Gabriel stared at him. “No, and it still wouldn’t explain why your clients were trying to cross an international border with me.”

“Is it possible you got lost on the way home?”

“No,” Gabriel said, shaking his head. “I’d only made it two blocks from where the party was held when your client assaulted me.”

Zachariah stared at him for a few seconds, looking decidedly unhappy. “...No further questions, Your Honor.”

Gabriel grinned fiercely, and stepped down when the judge indicated he could do so. He made his way back to his family, who hugged him and bundled him back into his seat.

Gadreel called a few more witnesses--Gabriel was shocked to hear the dimensions of the trunk he’d been stuffed in; it had been even smaller than he’d thought--and then rested the prosecution’s case.

Zachariah called his first witness, an ‘expert’ who said it was completely impossible for Sam to be able to smell Gabriel while he was on the scent blockers, and the trial went on.

That evening, Gabriel made a beeline for his phone when they got home. He grinned when he saw that there was a text waiting for him.

“Nice job today, too. I enjoyed you making Zachariah look like an ass, although you didn’t need to do the prosecutor’s job for him ;).”

Gabriel snorted, and texted back, “how do u no wut his job is?”

“I’m pre-law.” Sam responded almost immediately, and Gabriel’s eyebrows climbed into his hair. He had just assumed that Sam had chosen a career as a border patrol agent.

“smart! and super sexy ;) u in school now?”

“No, I’m taking a year off to try to earn enough money to afford room & board next year. Got a scholarship for law school, but it doesn’t cover everything. What about you?”

Gabriel was impressed; scholarships to law school were practically unheard of, and meant that Sam had done extremely well as an undergraduate and on his standardized tests. “business major,” he replied, “third year. took spring semester off after what happened. will go back next fall.”

“Good for you,” Sam replied, “You must be doing well; your math skills are certainly above-average ;). By the way, Dean nearly lost it when you flipped Zachariah off. He had to leave the courtroom.”

“XD,” Gabriel replied, before he heard Chuck calling him from downstairs. “gotta go, father in fase, ttyl.”

“‘Bye,” Sam replied. Gabriel headed downstairs to see what his father wanted with a smile on his face.

The trial, of course, continued. Unfortunately, Sam and Dean didn’t return, so Gabriel didn’t get to see Sam again, but they texted almost every day once court was done, and Gabriel kept Sam appraised of what was happening. Both of them had agreed not to go out on a date until after the verdict, so they kept the flirting light.

It was another week or so before Zachariah finally rested his case and closing arguments began. Gabriel wasn’t sure what to expect, but the jury returned a verdict after only two hours of deliberation: they found both Alistair Rolston and Gordon Walker guilty on all charges. Gabriel didn’t realize how much stress he’d been under during the trial until he felt that weight lift off his shoulders. Sure, there would undoubtedly be appeals and such, but the hard part was over--at least, that was what Sam had told him, and the Omega trusted the Alpha.

Gabriel told Sam about the verdict that evening, and then asked him if he wanted to get dinner the next time he was in town (Sam and his brother shared a house closer to the border, in a small town). Gabriel was over the moon when Sam said yes.

Chapter Text

Gabriel was nervous, which was odd. He’d been on plenty of dates, and, after the first couple, the butterflies had all but disappeared. As far as he was concerned, if someone didn’t like him, it was their problem, so he never worried about living up to his date’s expectations.

He’d been texting back and forth with Sam for some time now, though, and he found himself honestly caring about what Sam would think. The Alpha was supportive, kind, and, well, smoking hot. Meanwhile, Gabriel knew he was not a great catch; he was no one’s definition of a perfect submissive Omega, his lips quirked in weird directions when he was speaking, and his nose and chin were both oddly-shaped. His hair never did what he wanted it to do unless he put a ton of product in it (which he had for this date). Over the course of the afternoon, Gabriel had tried on no fewer than ten different shirts to go with the dark slacks he’d decided on. Eventually, he’d settled on a gold-colored one with maroon accents.

At least he was home alone today; Chuck had gone with Naomi on one of her business trips. His father would often stay in the hotel room and write while Naomi did whatever she needed to do in various boardrooms. Gabriel remembered times when he and Raffie would be allowed to bounce up and down on the bed, as long as they didn’t make any noise so that their father could write his world-famous books. (Gabriel had eventually read them, and he was of the opinion that there was fanfic better than his father’s books...not that he would ever, ever tell Chuck that; he loved him too much).

He heard the doorbell as he was re- re- re- re- re-considering his shirt choice, and threw himself out of his room and down the stairs to the main hall, where he opened the door, grinning up at Sam, who smiled back. “Hi,” Sam said, and Gabriel nearly melted on the spot. Even Sam’s voice was perfect.

“Hi,” he said back, giving Sam a quick once-over. Sam was in nice jeans and a button-down blue shirt that brought out his eyes, and his natural scent automatically soothed Gabriel. Gabriel hadn’t put on any additional scent, knowing how sensitive Sam’s nose was (and, okay, smelling like a dessert nearly everyone liked didn’t hurt).

“I brought you something,” Sam said, handing over a small wrapped package. “I hope you like it.”

“I’m sure I will,” Gabriel replied, still smiling. “But you didn’t have to bring me anything.”

“I know,” Sam shrugged self-consciously. “But I wanted to.” He smiled as he watched Gabriel rip open the package (the Omega wasn’t a big believer in saving the wrappings).

Gabriel opened the box to find a simple braided leather bracelet with a bead of amber on it. As a long-term resident of Southern California, he could identify Native American artwork when he saw it--and he knew the difference between the real thing and mass-marketed crap for tourists (the real thing never looked as nice as the mass-marketed stuff). This was the real thing, from one of the local tribes. “I love it! Thank you, Sam!”

“You’re welcome.” Sam’s smile widened when Gabriel smiled up at him.

“Help me put it on?” Gabriel asked, deploying his favorite puppy dog eyes and holding out his wrist with the bracelet draped over it. Sam carefully tied the leather straps around his wrist. His large fingers were surprisingly deft, and that gave Gabriel all kinds of inappropriate ideas.

“That good?” the Alpha asked when he was finished.

“Perfect. Where’d you get it?” Gabriel asked, as he set the box down on a table, planning to put it away when he came home. He turned his wrist back and forth to admire the bracelet in the light before setting the house’s alarm system and stepping out onto the porch with Sam, closing and locking the door behind him.

“There’s an older woman who lives across the street from us. She still makes traditional jewelry. Dean and I help her out with housework sometimes, and a few weeks ago I saw her working on this and asked if I could buy it from her,” Sam explained as he began to move back toward his car, an older blue Prius.

“Well, tell her she does great work. And has great taste in handymen.”

Sam laughed as he opened the car door for Gabriel. “I’ll pass that on.”

Gabriel snorted, and waited for Sam to climb in the car with him. The car was old, but well-cared-for. Not that Gabriel really knew much about cars. “You and Dean seem to get along well,” he noted as Sam folded his lanky frame into the driver’s seat. “Much better than my two Alpha brothers.”

Sam shrugged. “We’ve always been close,” he said. “Our mother died when we were young; Dad wasn’t very present, so Dean kind of raised me. Nothing changed after I presented, except maybe the occasional urge to tear his throat out became stronger.”

Gabriel laughed. “Raffie--the other Omega--and I are still pretty close. It’s just our brothers that can’t get along. If Luci were to say the sky is blue, Mikey would insist it was pink with purple polka-dots.”

“That’s kind of how I am with my dad,” Sam admitted. “We don’t get along. As soon as I turned 18, I moved out here so I wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore. Dean followed a couple of years later.”

“I’m sorry,” replied Gabriel. “About both your parents.”

“It’s okay; I’ve had time to get used to it,” Sam glanced at him and gave him a slight smile. “You seem to be close with your family.”

“Yeah, I am,” Gabriel admitted. “I’m the baby, so I can’t really do anything wrong. It used to drive Raffie nuts when we were kids, because he’d be the one that got in trouble for all the crap we pulled. And you do -not- want to get in trouble with my mom.”

Sam chuckled. “I got that impression,” he admitted. “But she seems to really care about you.”

“She does. As much as she can, anyway. She’s not very maternal, but our father makes up for it.” Gabriel couldn’t help but glance over at the speedometer, and wasn’t at all surprised by what he saw--Sam was going exactly two miles an hour over the speed limit. “Let’s see, rescues kidnapped Omegas, wants to go into civil rights when he becomes a lawyer, saves old ladies and kittens stuck up trees, does the speed limit...what do you do for fun, Sam, read encyclopedias?”

Sam snorted. “Apparently I take sassy Omegas on dates.”

Gabriel fake-gasped and splayed a hand over his heart. “You wound me, Alpha!” Grinning, he added, “No, seriously, what do you do for fun besides text me?”

“I read a lot,” Sam was forced to admit, which made Gabriel snicker, “And I mess around on the internet. I go hiking, when it’s not too hot. What about you?”

The question sobered Gabriel up. “Until recently, I went to parties.”

“Oh shit--Gabriel, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean--” Sam took his eyes off the road to look over at the Omega in his passenger seat.

“It’s okay. I know you didn’t, I just hadn’t thought about it until you said something.” Gabriel took a deep breath, and forced a smile back on his face. “But, hey. I’m a survivor, not a victim, right? So...how about TV? What shows do you like to watch?”

“True crime, mostly,” Sam admitted as he put his eyes back on the road. “Some police stuff. You?”

“Lifetime movies,” Gabriel deadpanned.

“...Really?” Sam was clearly doing his best to not be judgemental, but he didn’t completely succeed.

“Nope,” Gabriel said, laughing at the look on his date’s face. “Had you going there for a second, though. I mostly watch cooking shows and drama-type stuff. We probably overlap on some police procedurals.”

The rest of the time it took them to reach the restaurant Sam had chosen was spent discussing a little-known show called The Agency that they’d both watched. “Jackson just did what anyone with a heart would’ve done in his position,” Sam was arguing as he opened the door for Gabriel.

“Yes, but it was still the wrong thing to do, Sam. Quinn was the only one who truly understood what the CIA was and what it had to do.” Gabriel was thoroughly enjoying the verbal fencing with Sam, and happily accepted the hand that Sam held out. He barely noticed his surroundings, though he did glance once at the restaurant.

“I know it doesn’t look like much,” Sam admitted, following his gaze, “But they have really good Mexican food.”

“It looks fine, Sam.” Admittedly, Gabriel didn’t exactly look at the restaurant’s facade again--he was looking up at the Alpha whose hand he was holding. “I love Mexican food.” He patted his belly. “Actually, as you can see, I love all food. Maybe a bit too much.”

“I think you look perfect,” Sam gave the correct reply before they walked over to the restaurant door and he opened it for Gabriel.

A hostess settled them in a booth, and brought them menus and glasses of water. They chatted as they decided what to have; Sam ultimately went with a giant burrito, while Gabriel decided to try the seafood paella. Their waitress, a Beta, brought them some chips and salsa while they waited for their food.

“Mmm, you’re right, this is good,” Gabriel told Sam through a mouthful of really amazing salsa.

Sam smiled back at him. “I’m glad you like it.”

“So, Sam, what’s the deal?”

“Hmm?” God, Sam looked adorable when he was confused.

Gabriel grinned at him. “You’re a gorgeous, smart man who’s going to be a lawyer. Why aren’t you mated already? Do you snore or something? Leave dirty socks in the sink? Forget to put the toilet seat down?”

He felt a pang of guilt when Sam’s face fell. “No! Well, I snore a little. I just...haven’t had good luck with relationships.” His lips quirked up into a self-deprecating smile. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m not really much of an Alpha.”

Gabriel just stared at him a moment. Surely Sam was joking. As more seconds ticked by, however, he realized that Sam wasn’t. “Sam, that’s--” he searched for a word to describe how incorrect the statement was, and couldn’t find one.

Sam shrugged, and looked away from him, his expression closing off even further. Worse, he tried to make a joke of it, even giving a weak chuckle. “It’s okay. There have to be Alphas like me to make the others look good, right?”

“Make the others--” Gabriel had never really been tongue-tied before, but here he was. “Sam. Why on Earth do you think you’re not a perfect Alpha? For one thing, you’re huge.”

Sam sighed. “Yeah, but...I don’t like to fight. I’d rather talk my way out of situations. Hell, you heard our testimony; Dean was the one that took both Gordon and Alistair down. All I did was hold you and call for backup.”

Gabriel shook his head in disbelief. “So you’re not a knothead like your brother. So what? Some of us don’t like knotheads. Especially the stupid ones...not that your brother’s stupid; I was thinking of Zachariah.”

Sam looked down, still avoiding Gabriel’s gaze. “That’s…not what most Omegas think.”

Gabriel reached across the table and took Sam’s hand in his. “Sam. Do you think I’m less of an Omega because I’m going to college, I talk back, and I actually stand up for myself instead of just rolling over and submitting?”

“No, of course not.” Sam finally glanced up at him.

“Well, I don’t think you’re any less of an Alpha because you’re kind, or gentle, or don’t like to fight, or whatever else you’re beating yourself up over. I like you because of all of that,” Gabriel told him, holding his gaze. “Just like I hope you like me because of how awesome I am.”

Sam stared at him for a time, and then essayed a weak smile. “I do like that you stand up for yourself,” he admitted. “And how quick-witted you are.”

“Well, there you go. And if you can like that, then I can like the fact that you’re smart enough to talk your way out of situations without resorting to fighting. Or that you care about the old woman who lives across the street from you. Or your giant shoulders--no, wait, those come standard, don’t they?” Gabriel beamed as he got Sam to laugh for real, and then let go of Sam’s hand to reach for another chip and more salsa.

The rest of the dinner passed without incident; the food was every bit as delicious as Sam had promised. Gabriel deliberately kept the conversation light; one serious discussion was plenty for a first date, as far as he was concerned.

Although he’d asked Sam out and had planned to pay for their date, he didn’t fight Sam when the Alpha picked up the check. Gabriel still couldn’t quite believe Sam could be so confident in court and then be so insecure when it came to relationships, but he wasn’t going to undermine what confidence he had by fighting him about who got to pay for the meal. He was just happy Sam seemed to like him, because every minute he spent with Sam he felt himself falling a little deeper. He hadn’t fallen this hard or this fast for anyone in a long, long time.

When Sam walked him back out to the car, he put a loose arm around him, and Gabriel couldn’t help but notice exactly how perfect the size difference between them was--he fit neatly against the Alpha’s side. The Alpha’s rock-hard, muscular side. Sam opened the car door for him, and he climbed inside reluctantly.

Once Sam had gotten into the car as well, he asked Gabriel, “Want to get dessert and coffee? I know a place near here; I’m sure it won’t be as good as your bakery once you open it, but since you don’t have yours yet…”

“Why, Sam, are you suddenly craving cinnamon rolls?” Sam blushed scarlet again, and Gabriel laughed. “Yeah, both coffee and dessert sound good. Although for some reason,” he leaned a little closer to Sam and sniffed the air, “I feel like I could really go for a beer and a salad about now.” Sam laughed, this time, and drove them to a nearby coffee shop.

Sam got an oatmeal-raisin cookie with his coffee, while Gabriel went with a slice of cake. He insisted that Sam, who clearly needed to learn what was a proper dessert and what wasn’t, take a bite of it. And if he caught himself daydreaming of baking delicious treats that Sam wouldn’t be able to say no to, well. His fantasies were his to enjoy.

The Alpha and Omega spent a couple more hours just talking, and then Sam drove Gabriel back to his house. Gabriel briefly realized what his parents’ gigantic house must look like to a poor kid from Kansas, but he tried not to feel too guilty about it as Sam punched in the code for the gate, which opened and allowed him to drive up to the entrance.

Gabriel took it for granted that they were going to go inside and at least fool around, so he got out of the car and headed up to the door, unlocking it and disarming the security system. When he’d done that, he turned around to find a nervous-looking Sam standing at the door. “Hey, sorry, I should’ve asked; I just assumed you wanted to come in. Don’t worry, no one’s home but us.”

“It’s okay,” Sam replied, stepping into the huge house and glancing around, taking in the sparse but modern decor. “This is beautiful.”

“It’s my parents’, I can’t take any credit for it,” Gabriel said with a shrug. “I know, I know, living with your parents isn’t really sexy...but usually I’m in my dorm room, not living with them.”

“Nothing wrong with living with your folks,” Sam replied with a shrug as he closed the main door behind him. “Makes a lot of sense financially.”

Gabriel shook his head. “As you can see, we don’t really have to worry about that,” he said, gesturing to an expensive-looking painting. “C’mon, the living room’s in here. You want anything to drink?”

“No, thanks, I’m fine,” Sam replied as he followed along behind Gabriel. The Omega enjoyed having the strong Alpha at his back; it felt right, somehow.

“Here we go,” he said, turning on the lights in the spacious room, which contained multiple couches, a faux fireplace, and a few bookshelves filled with his Dad’s books. The room was more for show than anything else, but Gabriel didn’t care...he was suddenly feeling a bit shy and didn’t want to take Sam straight to his room. Of course; shy was a relative term--he turned on the fireplace and then sprawled on one of the couches before patting the spot next to him. “Have a seat.”

Sam sat where indicated, and smiled at him before reaching out a hand to smooth the hair back from his eyes--Gabriel always had at least one tendril that refused to cooperate with the hair plan. “May I?” Sam asked.

Gabriel loved the fact that Sam asked. The few Alphas he’d been with--he actually normally preferred Betas--wouldn’t have hesitated to assume that he had consented to everything and anything just because he’d let them in the door. Not that he wasn’t ready for everything and anything with Sam, but it was oh, so nice to be given the option, as if his feelings--no, as if he--mattered. “Please,” he said, closing his eyes as Sam brushed the errant hair away and then slowly ran his fingers through Gabriel’s hair.

“I’ve been wanting to do this all night,” Sam admitted, as Gabriel opened his eyes and leaned into the light touches on his scalp. “You’re...amazing, Gabriel.”

“Damn straight,” Gabriel said, though he softened it with a smile. He wasted no time tangling his own fingers in Sam’s hair. There was so much of it, and it was just the right length to get a good grip on…

He leaned up and Sam leaned down at exactly the same moment. Gabriel kept smiling, wordlessly giving his consent for what turned into the most gentle, adorable kiss he’d ever had; Sam kissed him like he was made of porcelain. Gabriel seriously considered deepening it, but decided to let Sam control the pace. Somehow, the gentle pressure from Sam was sexier than all of the filthy kisses that Gabriel had ever had.

Eventually, Sam pulled back, his nostrils flared and his eyes darkening. “Been wanting to do that all night too,” he murmured.

“Not sure it took. Best try it again, just to be sure,” Gabriel retorted, causing Sam to shoot him a swift grin before kissing him again. His hand in Gabriel’s hair kept the Omega from moving, not that Gabriel had any intention of doing so.

Sam slowly deepened the kiss, exploring Gabriel’s mouth at a leisurely pace. Gabriel explored right back, tasting coffee and oatmeal and something that was unique to Sam. As they kissed, he settled his other hand on Sam’s bicep, while Sam’s free hand came down to rest gently on his lower back.

Gabriel was game to go all the way tonight if Sam was. He was on birth control, he already felt like he knew Sam inside and out from their hours spent texting each other, he had condoms, and he had a dental device to prevent him from accidentally biting Sam. Plus, damn it, he was a liberated Omega and could have sex whenever he wanted. His parents would have disagreed (Naomi explosively; Chuck in the disappointed tone Gabriel hated to be the cause of), but it was practically 2020 now. He wanted this, and his body was enthusiastically seconding the motion; he could feel himself starting to produce slick.

Sam finally pulled back slightly, and from the looks and smell of things, he had no objections to helping Gabriel liberate himself. Given how thoughtful Sam was, Gabriel assumed he had a dental device too; most people carried them on dates nowadays. Sam slowly kissed his way across Gabriel’s cheek and down to his scent glands, where he began breathing in deeply, scenting the Omega. Gabriel tilted his head to give him more access to his neck.

Of course, he also took the opportunity to scent Sam right back, enjoying the smell of the musk he was getting in addition to Sam’s regular scent. He nipped Sam on his scent gland, causing the other man to grunt. Sam took his hand from Gabriel’s back and gripped his wrist; Gabriel wasn’t sure if he was holding on to his bicep too hard or if Sam just wanted to try to reposition him, but he was looking forward to finding out.

And then everything went wrong; Sam’s tongue darted out to lick over Gabriel’s scent gland, and suddenly Sam’s hands restraining his wrist and the back of his head were like ropes binding him, and he was back in the back of the van with Alistair licking him, rubbing his scent all over his face. “NO!” Gabriel jerked backwards, heart rate and breathing rate soaring higher as he went directly into a full-blown panic attack.

Later, Gabriel would love Sam for the fact that he immediately released the Omega and pulled back. Sam moved so quickly, in fact, that Gabriel fell sideways off the couch. When he hit the floor, he scrambled backwards, trying to put distance between himself and his attacker--no, that wasn’t an attacker; it was Sam. Oh god, what was wrong with him? He backed himself up against another couch, managed to barely register the horrified look on Sam’s face, and burst into hysterical tears, because situations can always get a little worse.

Gabriel knew he was hyperventilating and saturating the room in distressed Omega pheromones, but couldn’t stop. “Gabriel! I’m sorry!” He barely heard Sam’s apologies through his sobs. “I won’t hurt you, I promise.”

He thought he heard Sam take a few deep breaths, but all that mattered to him was that Sam wasn’t moving; the threat wasn’t coming closer. When Sam spoke again, his voice was deeper, more commanding. The border patrol agent plus the Alpha in him, likely, not that Gabriel was able to place it at the moment. “Hey, Gabriel. Listen to me. You’re safe. No one’s going to hurt you. Try to think. Is there anything I can get you that will help?” He hadn’t moved from the couch, and Gabriel was thankful for that. Part of him wanted to go to Sam and let his Alpha hold him, but part of him knew he would just panic more if Sam tried to come any closer.

When he didn’t respond, Sam continued to gently prod. “Is there someone I can call, Gabriel? Something I can get?” He was keeping his voice measured and even. “Water? A blanket?” Gabriel couldn’t respond verbally, but shook his head no. Although...Garth or Hannah would be nice. Or even Raffie. What was wrong with him? Why couldn’t he calm down? Why couldn’t he answer Sam’s questions? Sam wasn’t Alistair, or even Gordon; he wasn’t a threat. Gabriel liked Sam. Hell, he was pretty sure that he was in love with Sam.

He gasped in air, and smelled calming pheromones. He couldn’t believe Sam was able to calm down so quickly; it must be his training. He was grateful, though--the pheromones started to take the edge off the panic. After a few more moments, Sam slowly slid off the couch and sat down on the floor, coming down to Gabriel’s level. He carefully held out a blanket he’d gotten from the back of the couch they’d been on. “Do you want this?” Gabriel reached out and snatched it like a frightened animal--what was wrong with him--and wrapped it around himself tightly. Home, it smelled of home. Home was safe. He was home; he was safe. Why couldn’t his body understand that?

“Good,” Sam praised him. “Good. Now. Take a deep breath for me.” Gabriel tried to listen to the command in Sam’s tone, he really did, but it was hard not to breathe as fast as he was sobbing. Still, he managed to get half a deep breath in before a sob ruined his effort. “Perfect, Gabriel. Keep breathing. You’re all right. You’re safe. Just breathe for me.” Sam was great at this, and Gabriel slowly began to slow his breathing down as he rocked back and forth, trembling and clenching his fists in the blanket.

“That’s perfect. You’re doing so well, Gabriel.” Sam kept the praise up, and then began slowly asking more questions. “Can you try to think for me? Is there anyone I can call for you? Someone who can help? Maybe your therapist?”

Gabriel managed to nod. Yes, Garth would help. Not that he really wanted anyone to see him like this, but Garth could help him. Oh, god, he’d ruined everything with Sam, hadn’t he? Sam would never want to talk to him again after seeing him like this. “Okay, your therapist. Do you have your phone?” Gabriel nodded. “Can you get it out and give it to me?”

Gabriel reached for his back pocket and pulled his phone out. He set it down on the floor, unlocked it, and slid it across to Sam with his foot. He was still crying, but his sobs were slightly less hysterical now, and his heart didn’t feel as if it were about to burst.

He semi-heard the following exchange: ‘Is this Garth? Gabriel’s therapist? ...I’m Sam Winchester. I’m really sorry to bother you this late, but Gabriel’s having a panic attack and asked me to call you...yes, I’ll put you on speaker.”

“Hey, man,” Garth’s familiar voice came over the phone, which Sam set down on the floor between them. “Sam says you’re not feeling good.” Gabriel just snorted; there was no way Garth couldn’t hear his hysterical crying. “Okay. Snap your fingers twice if you’re okay other than the panic.” Oh, god, what if Garth called the police on Sam because he thought Sam had done something to him? Gabriel hastily snapped his fingers twice.

“Okay. Then let’s work on your breathing. In the meantime, maybe your friend...Sam, is it? Sam, could you go make him some hot chocolate? That always makes him feel better.”

“Is it all right for me to leave him alone?” Gabriel could hear the concern in Sam’s voice.

“He’ll be fine, I promise,” Garth’s soothing tone continued. “You’ll only be a shout away.”

“Okay. I’ll go. Take good care of him.” Sam stood up and carefully sidled backward, then left, presumably on a quest to find the kitchen and hot chocolate ingredients.

“I will,” Garth said over the phone. “Okay, Gabriel, remember what we talked about. Can you lay down?”

“Yuh,” Gabriel managed, though it was easier to say than to do; his instincts were screaming at him to be as small as possible, and that involved curling up, not stretching out on the floor.

“Okay, lay down for me, please. You don’t want to disappoint Mr. Fizzles, do you?” Gabriel would’ve rolled his eyes if he’d been capable of it. Instead, he managed to get down on the floor on his side, although not very far out of the fetal position.

“Okay. Deep breath in; I want to hear it.” Once again, Gabriel tried to do as instructed. This one went a little better than last time. “All right, that was good. Try another, and then we’re going to hold it for a count of three.”

Gabriel tried, and managed to get the breath in, although not to hold it. As he began to calm down, he started to realize the awful position he’d put Sam in. Shit. “Sam,” he whined.

There was a pause on the other end. “Is Sam there?” Garth asked hesitantly.

“Nn. Wan’--want Sam,” Gabriel managed to gasp out.

“Okay, well, if you want to let him know you want him to come back, you’ll need to calm down a little more,” Garth replied, sounding relieved for reasons Gabriel couldn’t fathom at the moment. “So try to breathe with me. Deep breath....now hold it....now let it go. Slowly.” Gabriel had sobbed it out instead. The more he calmed down, the more foolish he felt. He couldn’t believe he’d seriously had a panic attack while making out with Sam. What the fuck was wrong with him? “Okay, another deep breath...hold it…”

Garth slowly talked him into a more relaxed state, enough that he was able to fetch a box of tissues to wipe his eyes and nose and, well, kind of everything. Gabriel wasn’t exactly a dainty crier, especially when hysterical.

Garth asked him to pick up the phone and take him off speaker, which he did. “Hey man. Are you all right? I’m on my way over, but should I call anyone else?”

“No,” Gabriel said, shaking his head in the negative even though Garth couldn’t see it. He’d finally calmed enough to catch the subtext of Garth’s question. “Sam didn’t do this. He didn’t do anything wrong; I just freaked out.” He willed his therapist to believe him about this.

“Good. I thought so, but I needed to make sure.” Garth was still using what Gabriel called his soothing tone on him.

“I’m so stupid. He’s going to leave and never come back.” Gabriel thunked his head back against the couch. “Why did I do that? What’s wrong with me? I wanted to be with him.”

“Hey, man. Deep breaths. We’ll figure out exactly what happened so it doesn’t happen again. In the meantime, you don’t know how he’s going to react, so let’s not borrow trouble, okay?”

Sam cleared his throat from the doorway to the living room before Gabriel could say something really embarrassing in front of him, for which he was glad. “Hey,” Sam said quietly, a steaming mug in one hand and a clear glass in the other, “I got you some hot chocolate and some water. I’m going to put them down there, okay?” He nodded to a table that was near Gabriel, but not too close, either.

“It’s okay, Sam. I’m better,” Gabriel said miserably. “You can stop walking on eggshells.”

“Okay.” Sam still set the beverages down and then retreated from the table. “Is there anything else I can get you?”

“My dignity would be nice,” Gabriel told him. After a moment, he added, “Garth’s on his way,” mostly because he thought that Sam might want to bail. “I’ll be fine if you want to go.”

“I’ll stay until he comes,” Sam said. His face a mask of concern still, he asked, “Is he still on the line?”

“Yeah,” Gabriel said, reaching for the hot chocolate. He couldn’t smell it because his nose was all plugged up from crying, but it /looked/ good. He took a sip, and noticed that Sam had found and used his favorite mix...plus milk instead of water. Just the way he liked it. “Sam’s here now, Garth,” he said, even though he figured Garth already knew from his side of the conversation.

“Can I speak to him?” Garth asked from his ear.

Gabriel nodded, which didn’t help anything, and then held the phone out. “He wants to speak to you,” Gabriel said as he set the phone down where the hot chocolate had been. The chocolate was helping to relax him, but although he was decidedly less panicked, he was feeling more and more guilty about what he’d done. He kept going over it in his head, and Sam hadn’t done anything wrong. Gabriel had just flipped out like some whiny Omega in the movies who’d broken a nail.

“Hello, this is Sam,” he heard Sam tell Garth as he sat back down on the couch where they’d been making out. There was a short pause, and then, “Of course I’ll wait. I want to make sure he’s safe....okay. I’ll tell him.” Sam hung up the phone, and then relayed Garth’s message. “He said he’d be here in a few minutes and that you could call him again if you started feeling worse.”

Gabriel nodded, unable to look up at Sam, so he stared into his hot chocolate as if it held the secrets to life. “Sam--” he started.

“Gabriel--” Sam began talking at the same time. They both fell silent, and then Sam started again first. “I am so sorry, Gabriel. I should have asked before I did anything else.” He sounded like his heart was breaking. “I did not mean to make you panic.”

“It’s not your fault, Sam. I was okay with what we were doing. I just...suddenly I wasn’t, and I’m so sorry I ruined the evening. I understand if you don’t want to see me any more.” Gabriel was exhausted from his panic attack, so he couldn’t even bring himself to contemplate how much that would hurt.

“Gabriel, it’s not your fault either. It’s called PTSD, and it’s completely normal after what you went through. I...have nightmares, still, about something that happened when I was on border patrol during my first summer break,” Sam told him. “I’m not mad at you, and I don’t want to stop seeing you. I’m sure you and Garth will be able to work through this; he seems like a good guy.”

“Really?” Gabriel only cared about one small part of Sam’s speech, and he looked up at Sam to see if he meant it. Sam turned out to be giving him puppy dog eyes--which just weren’t fair on an Alpha.

“Really.” Sam didn’t hesitate, and Gabriel took a gulp of hot chocolate to stop the tears that had started to form again in his eyes.

“Could I,” Gabriel blurted out once he set the mug down, “I know this isn’t really fair to you, after what happened, but...could I come sit on your lap? Your smell calms me down,” he admitted. “Just until Garth gets here.”

“Of course,” Sam said immediately. He took his hands from his lap and set them on either side of his thighs. “I won’t touch you unless you want me to.”

“‘Kay.” Gabriel felt lower than an earthworm, but he got up and relocated himself and his blanket onto Sam’s lap, burying his nose in Sam’s neck. Sam was still sending out those calming pheromones, even though he had to be upset about all of this, and Gabriel found himself relaxing much more quickly than he’d anticipated.

Sam started to whisper soothing words and phrases, but remained true to his word and didn’t touch the Omega. Gabriel took deep breaths of Sam’s scent and finally relaxed fully, although he didn’t stop beating himself up. “This is so stupid,” he said finally. “What I went through wasn’t even that bad, compared to, well...you know.”

“That doesn’t mean it wasn’t traumatic,” Sam replied. “Some people have to be in the middle of a war to get PTSD, but some people just go to a mall on a bad day. You went through something that would give a lot of people panic attacks. Have you had them before?”

“After it happened, yeah. A couple of times during the trial. Not since then, though,” Gabriel admitted. He wanted Sam to rub his back, but he also didn’t want him to, just in case it triggered him again. “I thought I was done with them.”

“I’m not sure you’re ever fully done with something like this,” Sam replied, “But...there are coping strategies. I’m sure Garth has taught you some.”

“Yeah, I just...didn’t notice the signs until I was already too far gone, you know?” Gabriel said, feeling lamer than some peg-legged pirate.

“Of course. I’m not upset with you, Gabriel. Like I said, this is normal.” Gabriel thought he could hear fondness in Sam’s tone.

“Why are you being so nice to me?” Gabriel wanted to know.

“I told you, I’ve sort of gone through this myself.” Sam sighed. “I’ll tell you the whole story later, but the short version is that someone decided to do the suicide by cop thing, and I happened to be the border patrol agent that he tried to run over with his truck.” He didn’t need to finish the story; his tone told Gabriel that the man had been successful.

“Oh, Sam.” Here Gabriel didn’t think his heart could break any further today. “I’m sorry. That must have been awful. But it wasn’t your fault.”

“And this wasn’t yours.” Sam looked back toward the door when a noise came from the vicinity, and stiffened. “Does Garth have a key?” he asked. “Did you lock the door behind us?”

“Yeah, it’s okay. He’s got the code and a key,” Gabriel told him. “And I locked the door. Garth?” he called, as they heard the door open.

“It’s me, little buddy!” a voice called from the entryway. “Is Sam still here?” Soon, Garth Fitzgerald IV presented himself in Gabriel’s living room, complete with Mr. Fizzles. Gabriel had to stifle a groan.

“Yes, I’m here,” Sam called, eyeing Garth carefully as he came into the room and taking a deep lungful of air, probably scenting him. Gabriel could feel the tense muscles underneath him relax. As a mated Omega, Garth was about as far from a threat to either of them as you could get.

“Howdy, Sam! I’m Garth, and this is Mr. Fizzles,” Garth told him, holding the sock puppet up, which then said, “Hello, Sam!”

“Please put Mr. Fizzles away?” Gabriel begged.

“Well...okay, if you insist,” Garth sounded a bit crestfallen, but the puppet disappeared into a back pocket.

Sam carefully held out his hand for the therapist to shake once the puppet was gone. “Sam Winchester. Gabriel and I had a date tonight.” He shifted, so he could better look down at Gabriel. “Should I go now?” he asked.

“I don’t want you to,” Gabriel admitted. “But--”

“It would be best,” Garth said. “Gabs and I have a lot to talk about, and you know how patient confidentiality rules are.”

“Okay. ...Gabriel, can you get up?” Sam asked him, still keeping his promise of not touching him.

“Oh...right.” Gabriel sheepishly climbed out of Sam’s lap. Garth walked forward to hug him as Sam stood up, and though it was childish, Gabriel set his head on Garth’s shoulder.

“Okay, I’ll leave, but...please text me tomorrow morning, so I know you’re all right?” Sam asked Gabriel.

“I will,” Gabriel promised. “Sam, I--” he couldn’t figure out exactly what to say. “Thank you for...everything,” he finally managed.

“You’re welcome. Feel better.” Sam’s hand twitched as if he really wanted to reach out and touch him, but he didn’t. “Please take good care of him,” he told Garth.

“Of course!” Garth was way too chipper for as late--well, as early as it was.

“Okay. Good night,” Sam offered them both.

“‘Night,” Gabriel said. He was feeling miserable again.

“Good night.” Garth settled Gabriel on the couch and then walked with Sam back to the door. Gabriel heard him say something apologetic about locking up behind him, and then Sam was gone. Gabriel briefly wondered if he’d ever see him again, despite his assurances that he would.

“Garth, I’m sorry,” Gabriel mumbled when the other Omega reappeared. “I didn’t do anything right, I didn’t remember any of the things you told me.”

“Hey, that’s okay.” Garth fetched his hot chocolate and put the mug back in his hands. “Do you want to talk about it now, or do you want to go to bed and talk about it in the morning?”

Gabriel drank down the rest of the chocolate before it got cold, and then pondered the question. “I think I want to go to bed. You know where the guest room is, right?”

“Yup, no problem,” Garth assured him. “Let me help you upstairs and then I’ll get myself situated. So, other than the panic attack, how did the date go?”

Gabriel let Garth pull him to his feet and walk him up the stairs. He knew Garth was just trying to make him feel better before he went to sleep, but he let the other Omega steer the conversation. “It was...really, really good, until I panicked.”

“Good, well, I don’t know how much of our conversation you heard, but he was very worried about you, and from what I could see, he did everything right--called me, got you warm, got you hot chocolate, and helped you calm down. Most Alphas can’t even keep their heads in a situation like this, let alone think of calling someone for help. I think you may have found a keeper this time.”

“Garth, he probably doesn’t ever want to see me again,” Gabriel groaned as Garth got him into his room and into his bed, then helped him take off his shoes and socks. Gabriel took care of his pants and his shirt himself.

“I think you’re wrong. And Mr. Fizzles thinks you’re wrong, too!” Garth told him as he tucked the other Omega in. “Now, go to sleep. We’ll talk in the morning.”

Garth left the room, and Gabriel fell asleep almost as soon as he closed his eyes.

Chapter Text

When Gabriel woke up the next morning, he was pretty sure he had a hangover: his head ached and his stomach was upset. He rolled over to grab his phone to see what time it was, but it wasn’t on his bedside table. It was about then that he came awake enough to remember what had happened last night. Groaning, he smacked his head against his pillow repeatedly. “Fuck. Fuck me, fuck my life, fuck everything. Fuck,” he added the last one for good measure before getting up and going into the bathroom to take care of several pressing issues, including the state of his teeth.

Peering at himself in the mirror after brushing his teeth, he decided that he looked a lot like warmed-over shit. HIs eyes were bleary and red and he had bags under them, and he needed a shave but couldn’t summon the energy to do so.

He put on some sweats and an old T-shirt that he probably couldn’t leave the house in and then wandered downstairs, only to find that Garth was both a late-night and an early-morning person. “Good morning!” he chirped. Gabriel literally growled at him. Thankfully, Garth just pushed a steaming cup full of mocha that his parents’ fancy one-cup coffee machine made toward him. Gabriel reduced the growl to a grumble in thanks.

Garth also produced Gabriel’s phone, which...let’s see, Sam had had it last, so it had probably been left on the couch. The Omega glanced at it, and saw he had several texts from Sam plus a few from his friends. He sipped at his coffee as he scrolled through them; Sam basically wanted to know if he was all right, and he didn’t really care what his friends had to say right now.

As he drank his coffee, he decided that he owed Sam a reply after all that he’d done for Gabriel last night--not to mention all that Gabriel had done to him. So, he summoned the energy to text back: ‘awake alive gotta talk 2 garth now.’ He then turned off notifications, and tossed the phone back onto the counter.

He’d expected to make Sam a huge breakfast this morning, but instead he retrieved a bowl, some Lucky Charms, and some milk. At the last minute, he remembered to grab a spoon, too. Garth had disappeared; he knew Gabriel took a while to fully wake up. The Omega should be glad that his parents paid Garth exorbitant sums of money to deal with his problems and do things like come over in the middle of the night, but right now he just wanted to eat his cereal, sulk, and let the nectar of the gods (coffee and chocolate) flow into his veins where hopefully it would replace his blood and he’d reach Nirvana. Or at least not rip someone’s head off before lunch.

Garth returned while Gabriel was on his second bowl of pity-cereal and second cup of pity-coffee and was debating getting out the pity-ice cream he knew was in the freezer. “Hey, man,” Garth said, sitting down on the opposite side of the breakfast bar, “You feel like talking?”

Gabriel was pretty sure he didn’t, but then he opened his mouth and everything tumbled out anyway. He told Garth how well the date had gone at first, and then explained how it had suddenly gone sideways. He detested himself for some of the self-pitying statements he made, but that didn’t stop him from making them. He was in tears by the time he was done, cereal forgotten and melting into the milk, and Garth had to retrieve the tissue box for him.

Garth was in the middle of summarizing what he had heard, a favorite pastime of his and every therapist as far as Gabriel could tell, when the intercom buzzed; someone was at the gate wanting in.

They broke their conversation off, and Gabriel answered it, thinking maybe he’d ordered something from Amazon and then forgotten about it. More likely, it was just some kid playing with the buttons. “Hello?”

“Delivery,” came the crackled reply. “For Gabriel Tapping.”

“Okay,” Gabriel said, pushing the button to open the gate as he mopped up his face with some tissues, “Come on up to the front door.”

“What is it?” Garth asked.

“Dunno. I can’t remember ordering anything, but obviously I did,” Gabriel replied with a shrug. He walked to the front door, Garth following along behind, and opened it to wait for the delivery man.

The young driver was in a van owned by a local delivery service, according to the decals on the side. He wore a red and white uniform, and Gabriel felt a little sorry for him because he was fighting a losing battle with acne. The kid parked and then jumped out of the van with a wrapped package.

“Gabriel Tapping?” he asked. His nametag said, ‘Alfie.’

“Yup,” Gabriel confirmed.

“I just need a signature, right here,” Alfie said, handing over the package (why did they always hand the package over first and then expect you to juggle the package and sign their mechanical signature doo-dad, Gabriel wondered) and then holding out a machine for Gabriel to ‘sign’ with his finger. Gabriel did so, and Alfie beamed at them. “Have a good day!” he called as he loped back to the van.

“You too,” Gabriel still didn’t know what this was, especially since it didn’t come from Amazon. Maybe Chuck had sent him something; sometimes his father had a sixth sense about how his children were faring.

Once Alfie was gone, Gabriel let Garth close and lock the door while he ripped off the wrapping paper to see what it was. “...Gourmet hot chocolate?” he asked, tilting his head. It looked delicious, but he definitely hadn’t ordered it.

“There’s a card,” Garth pointed out, having to bend down to retrieve it from where Gabriel had accidentally discarded it with the wrappings.

He handed it to Gabriel, who quickly opened the envelope. “I hope you’re feeling better today, but just in case you’re not, here’s something for you. --Sam.” Gabriel stared at the card for a few moments, and then silently passed it over to Garth, whose eyebrows climbed as he read it.

Garth turned a megawatt smile on Gabriel. “I told you!” he exclaimed, punching the other Omega in the shoulder (Gabriel barely felt it). “He clearly wants to see you again, or he wouldn’t have sent this.”

Gabriel cuddled the fancy tin of hot chocolate to his chest, even though it didn’t smell of Sam (he was sure Sam had handled it all online; he hadn’t had enough time to do otherwise). He hated to get his hopes up; he was in the sort of mood where he wanted to feel sorry for himself, but Garth had a point. A good point, even. Plus, it was a very thoughtful gift; Sam really seemed to care about him.

Walking back to the kitchen, he sat down again and set the tin in front of him as if it were a puzzle they were going to figure out together. “Okay. So I’m pretty sure it was the licking that triggered me. Let’s talk about that, but then let’s brainstorm some ideas to keep it from happening again. Maybe we can also come up with some alternative things Sam and I could do that won’t send me into a panic attack?”

Garth beamed at Gabriel. “We sure can, little buddy!”

.oOOo.

That afternoon, feeling considerably better after his brainstorming session with Garth (who had eventually gone home) and a decent lunch, Gabriel made himself a cup of the hot chocolate Sam sent him and went up to his room. He went back and read the earlier texts from Sam with a new perspective, and felt a little guilty about his abrupt reply this morning.

Despite the tone of his reply, Sam had texted him back: “Good, I’m glad. Let me know how it goes.”

Gabriel hesitated before sending a reply, then took a long swallow of hot chocolate and typed the following: “hey sam doing much better. have a sec? would like to call. and ty for the gift ;)’

It was a few minutes before his phone buzzed in reply, which he spent replying to his other friends’ texts and drinking his (absolutely wonderful) chocolate. “Sure, I’m home. Call me anytime. And you’re welcome ;)!”

Grinning, Gabriel hit the ‘call’ button, too excited about his plan to even pretend to wait a few minutes as if he hadn’t been waiting for Sam’s text. Sam picked up the phone on the first ring. “Hello?”

“Hi Sam. It’s me!” Gabriel saw no need to tell him who ‘me’ was.

“Hi Gabriel. You sound like you’re feeling better,” Sam replied.

“I am. Sooooo...I could spend some more time apologizing, if you want, but I’d rather skip that, if it’s all right with you. Garth and I talked about what happened, and then we brainstormed some solutions. I think you’ll like some of them, and I can’t wait to try them out.” Gabriel wiggled his eyebrows, even though Sam couldn’t see him.

“Yeah? I’m...intrigued. But I would like to know what I did wrong so I don’t accidentally do it again,” Sam admitted.

“Garth would stop you right there and ask you a dozen questions about why you used the word ‘wrong,’ Sam, but luckily I’m not a therapist.” Gabriel couldn’t keep up the chipper tone through the next bit, though. “So...it was probably a combination of things. Again, it’s not your fault, but a lot of it was probably you licking me.”

Sam grunted. “I thought so. I didn’t remember your testimony until afterward. Gabriel, I’m--”

“Hey, if I don’t have to apologize for last night, neither do you,” Gabriel insisted. “We can’t change what happened. Anyway, yeah. Licking anywhere near my face is a no-go, at least for now. We can work on it, if you want. Garth gave me some suggestions for some things we might try to desensitize me to it. They’re...pretty creative, but they have to be done in person. It may take some time before I can relax through it, though.”

“No licking for now. Got it.” Sam still sounded like he was disappointed with himself.

“Well, for the record, we think licking elsewhere might be okay. If you want to, you can warn me, and then if I don’t want you to in the moment, I’ll tell you,” Gabriel explained.

“Fair enough.” Sam said. “What else?”

“Feeling restrained. I think ropes are probably a no-go for a very long time, if not forever. Of course, Garth did point out that if I tied you up, I wouldn’t feel at all restrained.” Sam made a vaguely inquisitive noise, which Gabriel filed away for a later day. “But, basically...for now, at least, keep the touches light and try not to hold me too tightly.” He winced. “I know that one’s going to be hard because it isn’t as clear-cut as the first one, but--”

“But I can try,” Sam said, sounding hopeful. “I will try, I mean. Anything else?”

“Nothing definite, but, rubbing your face against my face and neck probably isn’t a good idea,” Gabriel told him. “No matter how much I might want to smell like you or you want me to smell like you. Again, other scent glands are probably fine, but...ask first.”

“Okay. So no licking and no rubbing around the face, and try not to restrict your movement? That’s...really not that bad. Although my heart was breaking last night when I couldn’t hug you.”

“You have no idea how much I wanted you to hug me,” Gabriel admitted. “But I was scared that if I told you that it was okay, it might not be and I’d end up freaking out again.”

“That was probably the right call. I’m so glad you’re feeling better, though. I really hated seeing you like that,” Sam told him, warmth in his tone. The fondness that Gabriel thought he’d sensed last night was apparently back in spades, and this time, there was no mistaking it.

“Believe me, I hated you seeing me like that. But before we go into all that again...I’d like to try one of Garth’s ideas now, if you’re game.” Gabriel was already grinning; this had been a very good suggestion.

“Sure, what is it?” Sam asked, curiosity permeating his tone.

“Well...are you somewhere private?” Gabriel asked.

“Sort of. I’m outside, cutting brush. Why?”

Gabriel tried not to think of Sam working out in the hot sun, undoubtedly shirtless. Okay, that was a lie. He totally thought about it, and very much enjoyed the thought. “Welllll,” he said, drawing the word out, “Let’s just say that I think it may be time to take a break, get yourself a big glass of water, and head to your room. Unless you don’t have time right now?”

“...No. No, I have time. Just...give me a couple of minutes?” Judging by his tone, Sam had caught on to the general idea, but then, Gabriel had suspected that he would.

“Okay. I guess I’ll just lay here, alllllll alone in my bed, wishing I could watch you out in the hot sun, shirtless as you fight the cruel bushes…”

Sam snorted. “I’m wearing a shirt, Gabriel. You’d have to be stupid to do brushwork without a shirt on; you’d be scratched all to hell in the first five minutes.”

“Damn it, Sam, work with me here!” Gabriel laughed, despite Sam ruining his momentary fantasy. “I mean, right now I’m wearing the rattiest pair of sweatpants I own, but I wasn’t going to tell you that; I was going to tell you that I was in tight jeans that showed off my ass.”

“So you were going to lie to me,” Sam teased. Gabriel could hear him walking.

“You know, Sam, if you don’t want hot phone sex, you can just say so,” Gabriel teased back, “and I’ll hang up.”

“Don’t you dare, Omega,” Sam growled, and the sound of it went straight to Gabriel’s groin. Good to know that Sam did have an Alpha voice that was separate from the controlled border patrol agent inflection he’d heard last night.

“--” Gabriel couldn’t think of anything to say for a moment; ‘meep’ was not manly. Instead, he covered the brief silence with a cough. “Uh, yeah, so, tell me when you’re ready.”

Sam chuckled darkly in response, and then Gabriel heard the sound of a sliding-glass door opening and closing. “Impatient, Gabriel?”

“Always, Alpha.” Gabriel’s grin returned as he heard the sound of water being poured into a glass. “Mmm. I’m going to imagine you just also poured that over your head and shirtless chest to cool yourself down.”

“And what would you do if I had?” Sam asked before Gabriel heard the tell-tale sounds of someone drinking water thirstily.

“Well, it would be a hard job, but I suppose that someone would have to lick each and every drop off of you.” Talk of licking, especially when he was the one theoretically doing it, didn’t bother Gabriel at all, and he grinned; Garth had been right.

“Got anyone in mind to do the job?” There was movement on Sam’s end again.

“I suppose I could volunteer. But I’d need you to lay down, because otherwise I couldn’t reach those shoulders of yours,” Gabriel told him, laying back in his bed and enjoying the fantasy they were creating, knowing it was unlikely to trigger him. “And I really want to be able to reach those shoulders.”

“Hmm. Give me a minute. I’m almost to my room,” Sam replied.

“What to do when an Alpha is keeping you waiting? Hmm. I’m a little warm. I think I’ll take my shirt off.”

“...Yeah?” Sam sounded interested.

“Yup,” Gabriel replied, sitting up and doing just that, making sure that Sam heard the sound of clothes rustling over the phone. “You know, that didn’t help much. I think I’ll take my sweats off too.”

He heard another door open and close on Sam’s end. “...And what are you wearing underneath those, Omega?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Gabriel teased him. “First, you need to get shirtless for me, Alpha.”

“I can do that,” Sam replied, and now Gabriel heard clothing rustling.

“Now lay down.”

“Bossy,” Sam said, but Gabriel heard some bed springs protest.

“You like me anyway,” Gabriel retorted. “Mmm, now, if I were there, I’d climb over the top of you, giving you a good look at my best smiley face boxers,” Sam let out a snort, which Gabriel was too dignified to respond to, “And then lean over you and start licking every. single. drop. of water off.”

“Mmm,” Sam said. “Can I touch you?”

“Feel free, this is a fantasy,” Gabriel replied. He freed himself from his boxers--yes, they were his smiley face ones; he tended to wear underwear that contrasted with whatever his current mood was, and his mood this morning had been a resounding, ‘fuck my life.’ Clearly, the day had improved. “But you should know, outside of this little fantasy, I’m touching myself.”

Sam groaned. “Hang on, my jeans are too tight now.” There was more rustling from his end. “Hmm. Now that I have a beautiful Omega on top of me; I’d take my hands and run them slowly up and down your back, going lower and lower each time.”

“Fuck, Sam.” Gabriel started stroking himself, pretending that Sam’s huge hands were on his back. “I’d forget I was supposed to be licking water off of you and start kissing you.”

“I’d kiss you right back, while my fingers played with the waistband of your silly boxers.”

“Don’t make fun of the boxers if you don’t want to see what’s underneath them,” Gabriel retorted with a laugh. “Are you touching yourself yet?”

“Mmm...thinking about it,” Sam said lazily. “But I’m definitely getting nice and hard for you.”

“Good,” Gabriel told him. “Once we’re both too out of breath to kiss any longer, I think I’d start on that long neck of yours, see if I can’t leave a few marks, and then start heading for your chest, picking up any stray water droplets on the way.”

“I’d leave just one hand in your hair, since I can’t reach your boxers now, and run my fingers through it.” There was a short pause. “Your hair was so soft last night, Gabe. I can still smell it on my fingers, even though I’ve washed my hands half a dozen times since then. Your scent is...amazing,” Sam murmured. “Best thing I’ve ever smelled.”

“Shit, Sam,” Gabriel gasped, stroking himself harder. “Please tell me you’re touching yourself.”

“I am now,” Sam confirmed. “Thinking about how you smelled and tasted. I can’t stop remembering it, Gabe.”

“Then don’t,” Gabriel replied, leaning back. He set the phone down and put Sam on speaker. “Because once I’m done with your chest, I’m going to help you take off whatever you’re wearing down below and /finally/ get my mouth on that monster cock I’m sure you’re sporting, and I hope you’re ready for me.”

Sam groaned, and Gabriel took it as an invitation to continue. “I’d wrap my lips around what I could and slowly stroke the rest with my hand before I took you as far down as I could--and I’ve worked hard on my gag reflex over the years.”

“Fuck, Gabe. I’d have to fist the bed sheets to keep myself from thrusting up into your mouth. You’d look so hot like that, I’d probably have to work hard not to come right then and there.” Sam sounded breathless now, which just urged Gabriel on.

“Well, I’d definitely show you a trick or two I know, but if you got too close, I guess I’d have to pull off,” Gabriel was stroking himself harder by now, twisting his wrist as he did so.

“Then I’d beckon you to come closer, because it’s your turn,” Sam said, breathing heavily. “When you did, I’d wrap one hand around you while I teased your entrance with the other.”

Gabriel moaned shamelessly; the thought of Sam putting his hands on him, not to mention in him was almost too hot to bear. “I’d be so wet for you, Alpha; I’m dripping right now just at the thought of it, let alone the real thing. God, Sam, I’m getting close.”

“Wait for me, Omega,” Sam said in a low tone that made Gabriel whine. “Normally, I’d take my time with you, but if you’re already that ready, then I’d help you situate yourself so you could slide right down onto me.”

“Fuck, Alpha,” Gabriel whined, closer than ever now. “I--I’d put my hands on your chest for leverage, like I was holding you down, and I’d ride you. Mmm. Hard and dirty and fast.”

“Oh god,” Sam agreed, voice straining. “Ready, Omega? Are you ready for my knot? Won’t take me--long now,” he gasped.

“Yeah--yeah. Come on--Sam!” Gabriel cried out his partner’s name as he came in thick spurts all over his hand, boxers, and belly. He sank down onto the bed, utterly relaxed, and heard Sam cry out his name on the other end of the line, then silence.

Gabriel floated on the orgasmic cloud for a time before slowly taking off his boxers and using them to wipe up the mess; they had to be washed anyway. “Mmm. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did.”

“Definitely,” Sam replied, still breathing hard. “You all right? I didn’t say anything wrong, did I?”

“No,” Gabriel assured him, tossing his dirty boxers in the direction of the hamper. “I don’t know if I would’ve been fine if you said anything about, well, the L-word, but just the touches and everything else...that was fine.”

“Maybe we could work on touches for real next week when I have some more time off?” Sam asked, sounding relaxed but hopeful.

“I’d like that,” Gabriel admitted. “Just text me the days you have off and we’ll work something out.”

“I’ll do that. Because I’d really like to cuddle you right now,” Sam told him.

Gabriel considered that. Cuddling was not his thing, and yet...yeah, he found himself wanting to cuddle with Sam. Not that there was a lot of choice when you were hanging off of an Alpha’s knot, but still. “I wish you were here to cuddle me, too.”

“So what else did Garth suggest?” Sam asked after a brief pause in which Gabriel imagined himself surrounded by the Alpha and his scent.

“Well, exposure therapy, mostly, but also some things we can try if anything does get uncomfortable for me.” Gabriel paused, and then picked up the phone and switched it off of speaker. “Sam...I’m going to work through this, I promise.”

“No, Gabe. We’re going to work through this. I’m going to help you, both when things go well and when they don’t,” Sam told him. “Um. If...if you want to let me, that is.”

Gabriel laughed. “Are you asking if we can go steady by promising to help me work through my sexual hang-ups?”

“Don’t you want to?” The insecurity in Sam’s voice hit Gabriel like a physical punch, and he grimaced.

“No! I mean, yes! Of course I do. I’m happy to be exclusive with you, call you my boyfriend, and all that mushy stuff, Sam,” Gabriel amended hastily. “If you’re okay with all that too.”

“Yeah,” Sam breathed the word out like a sigh of relief. “I am very okay with that.”

“Good,” Gabriel replied. “Alpha.” See, he could do the mushy stuff if he really wanted to.

“Omega,” Sam’s tone was fond.

.oOOo.

Over the next few weeks, Sam and Gabriel slowly worked on discovering what Gabriel still liked and what he didn’t. Gabriel enjoyed the process, and was pretty sure Sam did too. They never went all the way (unless you counted phone sex), but they worked on desensitizing Gabriel to gentle touches, hugs, and Sam rubbing his face on, for example, Gabriel’s wrists over his scent glands. Licking and holding Gabriel tightly still tended to increase the Omega’s anxiety too much for them to make much progress on that front, but they were gradually working their way up to it. In turn, Gabriel did everything he could think of to boost Sam’s confidence in himself and their relationship.

They talked and texted as well, discussing the future and the possibility of getting an apartment together next year, when Sam was in law school and Gabriel was (kind of) in his senior year at UCLA. Some of the things they talked about were important, such as whether or not they wanted kids (both sort of thought they ultimately did, but neither wanted to have them right away). Some of them were as ephemeral and unimportant as their thoughts on the fact that the show Criminal Minds, which Sam had gotten Gabriel hooked on, was ending.

In the meantime, Gabriel spoke with first Raphael, then Chuck, and finally even Naomi about his new soon-to-be-a-lawyer boyfriend (or so he was billing Sam as). Raphael was enthusiastic, and Chuck was happy for him but reserving final judgement until he had the opportunity to get to know Sam better. Naomi thought her son could do better, which is why she scheduled a dinner party in early June, over Gabriel’s objections, for the entire family, Sam, and his brother and his mate. She knew as well as Gabriel did that no relationship could survive a party with his family unscathed.

Chapter Text

Gabriel wore his smiley-face boxers the day of the party. He spent most of the day helping to get ready and snarking at his father, who didn’t really deserve it, but Gabriel couldn’t bring himself to care as he was in such a sour mood.

Raphael and his mate, a Beta named Madison, came over early to both help Gabriel and Chuck cook and to chat with them. Of his brothers’ mates, Gabriel liked Madison the best. She was a doctor, just like Raffie, and she treated him as an equal, something he couldn’t always say for his older brothers’ mates.

When Raphael and Madison arrived, Gabriel was preparing a salad. He kept sneaking bits of it to eat, so he wasn’t ecstatic about their presence. After all, how many people did you need to make a salad? He’d already chopped the cucumbers and the carrots, but Raphael grabbed the hard-boiled eggs and started to remove their shells, while Madison found some pecans and began to candy them on the stove. “You’ll spoil your appetite,” Raphael told him fondly when he grabbed an egg and ate it.

“Fuck you,” Gabriel retorted with his mouth full. He was pretty sure he had a bad case of Nervously Eating Everything in Sight. Also drinking everything in sight, which was a bit weird, but whatever; no one would notice the gallon of orange juice missing from the back of the refrigerator since they were all planning to drink alcohol tonight--because his family improved so much with each adult beverage.

Raphael glanced around and then leaned a bit closer to him. “Gabriel. It’ll be all right. Just keep reminding everyone that Sam saved your life. You can’t really ask for more in terms of a mate.”

“That reminds me,” said Madison, grinning over at them as she shut the burner off. “When are you planning to get appendicitis so I can save -your- life and your mother will stop giving me such a hard time for not being an Alpha?”

“Not any time soon,” Raphael groaned. “At least, I hope not. Next week I’m booked solid.”

“Well, hurry up,” Madison told him. She and Gabriel began adding ingredients to the large bowl, starting with the greens. And if he stole a bit of lettuce to munch on because it reminded him of Sam, what of it?

“You know it wouldn’t matter. She’d probably like you even less if you were an Alpha; look at what she’s putting poor Gabriel through,” Raphael pointed out as he sliced the eggs. Gabriel stole a leaf of one of those flavored lettuces that he normally hated and ate it while they talked. What was wrong with him?

“Hello, brothers.” Gabriel recognized the voice and the greeting; it was Michael. Sure enough, when he turned around, Michael and his mate, another Alpha named Anna, were standing there. Neither made any move to help the salad crew, although they at least moved out of the way when their father came half-running through the kitchen, declaring that he’d forgot to put ground mustard in the marinade for the steaks.

The Tappings normally catered their events, but Gabriel had managed to convince his parents that the personal touch was better for the men who had saved his life. Chuck had agreed that he and Gabriel could prepare the meal, and Gabriel was happy; he knew that whatever the Winchesters brought to share (they’d been told they didn’t need to bring anything, but he knew Sam better than that), it wouldn’t hold a candle to a catered dinner.

Shaking his head, he realized that Michael had asked him something. Judging by Raffie’s frown, it hadn’t been particularly polite, but then he expected that of his stick-in-the-mud eldest brother. “Sorry, what?”

Michael looked as if he barely stopped himself from rolling his eyes. “I asked you when your newest obsession was going to grace us with his presence, brother.”

Gabriel’s hands fisted; the only reason he didn’t punch his brother then and there was the many memories of that being utterly futile when they were children. Now, as an Alpha, Michael probably wouldn’t even notice it. “His name is Sam, Michael,” he said through gritted teeth, “And you better be nice to him. He saved my life, for fuck’s sake.”

“Language,” Chuck called from over by the steaks.

“We’re all adults, Dad!” Gabriel glared over at him, but his father just raised an expressive eyebrow.

“Well, I can certainly understand why you want to thank the men who saved your life, but you’re dating one of them? Isn’t he like...a policeman or something?” That was Anna, Michael’s mate. She fit perfectly into the family, Gabriel thought with a mental growl, with her perfect dress and her perfect jewelry and her perfectly wrinkled nose. Normally, he sort of liked her, but right now it seemed that Michael had briefed her on Mother’s intent to scare the Winchesters off, and she often went along with Michael and their mother so as not to rock the boat.

“He’s going to be a lawyer. He got a full-ride scholarship to law school,” Gabriel corrected her none-too-patiently.

“His parents couldn’t pay for him to go?” Wow, Anna was really getting on Gabriel’s nerves today.

“His mother’s dead and his father’s estranged. I have to go check on the grill.” Gabriel shouldered his way past them, none too gently, and stalked out to the yard--it was a nice day, so they were going to have dinner outside. He briefly considered getting into the alcohol, but then decided that he should probably stay sober or he might be the one to ruin the party.

“Hey.” Gabriel jumped as the voice spoke from right behind him, then realized it was Chuck. His father put a hand on his shoulder, and walked him over to the grill (which more or less cooked food on automatic and didn’t need to be ‘checked’). Gabriel figured it was for the look of the thing. “Son, you need to try to calm down a little. I know you love him and you want your family to love him. But you can’t just wave a magic wand and make it happen.” He paused for a moment as Gabriel’s shoulders slumped. “Tell you a secret?”

Gabriel glanced around, then nodded. Chuck had a habit of imparting important knowledge at opportune moments; it must come from him being a writer. “Your mother’s parents were absolutely furious when she said she wanted to mate me, an unpublished author with literally pennies to my name. I think they’d’ve found a way to put a stop to it, if I hadn’t been an Omega. They probably figured I’d just stay home, raise the pups, and forget about writing.”

“Really? But Gram and Gramps love you,” Gabriel replied, furrowing his brows.

“Believe you me, they didn’t used to,” Chuck told him, rubbing his back. “Look, your mom and the rest--they’re Alphas. They’re biologically programmed not to want to let another Alpha near you. Cut them some slack, okay, Son? They’ll come around.”

Gabriel felt himself relaxing a little. “I hope so,” he said, adding, “Thanks, Dad. I really--” he hadn’t said this out loud to anyone, not even himself. “I really think Sam may be The One.”

Chuck chuckled. “I know,” he replied, and before Gabriel could ask why, he explained, “You’ve been nesting something awful. And you’ve never talked about your dates like this before. It’s not just how much you’re talking about Sam, but also what you’re saying. You’ve been discussing apartments and supporting each other through law school and the beginnings of your bakery. It’s pretty clear that you’re serious about him.”

Gabriel took a deep breath, and then nodded. “Unless he runs screaming after dinner tonight.”

“Son, if he does run screaming, no matter how much it may hurt, it means he didn’t feel about you the way you feel about him, and it’ll be a good thing in the long run. But I don’t think he will,” Chuck told him, moving to a table and laying vegetables on tin foil so they could be grilled later. “Just from what you’ve said, I think he may be pretty serious about you, too.”

Gabriel let out a soft exhalation, and released some of his tension with it. “Thanks, Dad. I--I think I needed to hear that. Plus, it’s nice that someone is on my side.”

“Your mother and your brothers are on your side, too, Gabey. They just have a...strange way of showing it, sometimes,” Chuck shook his head. “Alphas. Every day I thank God I presented as an Omega.”

Gabriel snorted. “You and no one else,” he said, but he volunteered, “I’ll go get the salt and pepper for those. You want me to bring out the salmon too? We should probably start smoking it.” His suggestion had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Michael and Anna had just appeared, drinks in hand, to survey the backyard and pool, of course.

“That’s a good idea.” If Chuck saw through his attempt to evade his oldest brother, he didn’t mention it.

Gabriel headed back to the sliding glass door, not coincidentally going the opposite way around the table as Michael and Anna. He slipped into the kitchen, where Raphael and Madison were putting the finishing touches on the salad. Or at least he tried. Before he could make it all the way, he found himself in a headlock getting a noogie from someone who smelled like Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. He shouted in surprise and fear, but before he could go into a full-blown panic attack he was released along with the sound of laughter and a casual, “Hey, little bro.”

Gabriel whirled around to face his last brother, Lucifer. The momentary sense of relaxation he’d had with Chuck was all gone now; his heart was pounding. “Damn it, Luci! I don’t like being grabbed like that, and you know damn well why!”

“Sorry, bro.” Lucifer mock-pouted and, if he was actually sorry, was clearly only marginally so. His mate, an Alpha named Lilith, was ignoring the whole exchange, staring avidly out into the garden through the sliding-glass window at Anna. The two women hated each other almost as much as Michael and Lucifer did.

Gabriel flipped Lucifer off, being careful not to let Naomi, who had followed Lucifer and Lilith into the dining area, see. Then, he turned on his heel and marched over to the refrigerator to retrieve the salmon. At the last minute, he remembered the salt and pepper and balanced them on the tray. He didn’t say a word to anyone as he marched back outside to hand the food over to his father.

.oOOo.

Gabriel was fairly certain that his mother was responsible for the fact that the Winchesters arrived a good half-hour after Lucifer and Lilith so that they had to deal with the entire Tapping clan at once. The extra time had, at least, given Michael and Lucifer and their mates time to get into a decent sniping match while they lounged in the chairs set up around the table for the party.

Naomi also refused to allow Gabriel to get the door when the bell rang; she and Chuck went instead. Everything had been moved outside, so Gabriel was nervously drinking beer and munching on chips at his seat at the table. Raffie had commandeered the seat next to him, and Gabriel was happy for the support. They’d left three chairs next to him for his three guests.

Michael and Lucifer were seated on either side of Chuck and Naomi along with their respective mates and were not-so-casually ‘discussing’ some big business deal that Gabriel would have been able to follow if he’d cared enough to do so. Raphael surreptitiously patted his hand when the others weren’t looking, although he was chatting quietly with Madison; it seemed as if they were thinking about adopting children.

Finally, Gabriel’s nose picked up Sam’s scent, and moments later, the Alpha walked into the backyard with his brother, his brother’s mate Castiel, whom Gabriel had met once or twice, and Naomi. Gabriel bounded out of his seat and rushed over to hug Sam, who gave him a gentle hug in return. He then stepped back and looked the Winchesters over. The three Winchesters had dressed nicely, but Gabriel couldn’t help but notice that Sam and Dean were in the same suits they had worn in court--probably their only ones. The table the Tappings were eating at was probably worth more than all three mens’ attire combined.

Dean handed Chuck a stack of homemade hamburger patties along with several bags of hamburger buns and fixings; Gabriel was sure it had been Sam’s idea. Speaking of Sam, Gabriel looked up at his face and found his brow furrowed and his nostrils flared. “Gabe,” Sam said quietly enough no one else could hear, “...are you going into heat?”

“What the fuck, Sam?” Gabriel hissed. To say it was not a polite topic of conversation was an understatement. “You know I’m on blockers!”

“Yeah, but, Gabe, listen. You know how good my nose is, and it’s saying the blockers aren’t working.” Sam sounded like he was honestly only trying to help, and Gabriel forced himself not to snap at him a second time.

In fact, Sam’s suggestion made sense as he thought back through the day. He’d been snappish with everyone. His stomach hadn’t felt settled, yet he’d eaten a ton of food. He’d been hot, too, but he’d just thought it was a hot day. Eyes widening, he looked back up at Sam. “When?” he asked softly. Sam would probably know better by his scent than he would from experience since the blockers weren’t working.

Sam held up a hand and rocked it back and forth. “A day, maybe? Less? I’m not sure, it smells a little...odd. Probably because of the blockers.”

“Fuck my life.” Gabriel closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. “Well, let’s get through dinner and then worry about it.”

“Okay,” Sam agreed, but he still wrapped a comforting (and possibly a tad possessive) arm around Gabriel’s shoulders when the Omega turned back to his family.

“So, uh,” Gabriel was still trying to absorb the information he’d just been given. Raising his voice, he managed to get everyone’s attention. “Guys? This is Sam, his brother Dean, and his mate Castiel. You’ve already met my parents. That’s my oldest brother Michael and his wife Anna, my second-oldest brother Lucifer and his wife Lilith, and my youngest brother, Raphael, with his wife, Madison.” He pointed out each person in turn, and the Winchesters greeted everyone with a wave.

“Well, I’d best get the food on the grill,” Chuck said, heading for the device with the stack of patties. Gabriel wished he could go with his father, but he knew he had to stay put for the moment.

“Cas, why don’t you go help him?” Dean suggested, snagging two bottles of beer and handing one to his mate. Castiel nodded and followed Chuck. Gabriel had to hand it to him; it was the most tactful he’d ever seen Dean be. He knew from experience that both Dean and Cas were excellent grillmasters, but this way, Castiel didn’t have to feel like he had to respond to any verbal altercations, Naomi had no reason to worry about strange Alphas near her mate, and Dean could stay and support Sam.

Of course, that still left Sam and Dean at the mercy of all of his brothers, sisters-in-law, and mother. Naomi leaned back in her chair; she preferred to let her eldest sons fight her battles for her whenever possible. Thus, Gabriel wasn’t surprised when Michael opened his mouth to ask the first question. “So, Sam. You’re a...border patrol agent?” Gabriel fumed mentally; he’d told Michael Sam was going to be a lawyer not two hours ago.

Sam didn’t even blink. “For the rest of the summer. I’m saving money for room and board for law school next year. I have a scholarship that covers tuition and fees, but it doesn’t cover living costs.” He still sounded relaxed, and Gabriel was impressed by his composure.

“What do your parents do?” Lucifer asked, when the first question didn’t appear to crack Sam’s armor.

“My mother died when I was too young to remember.” Sam’s voice now held a hint of emotion, but Gabriel thought he was probably the only one who could tell...although Dean was frowning, so he probably wasn’t. “My father was a marine in Vietnam and then a mechanic. We’re estranged.”

“So, you think you’re going to make a ton of money being a hot-shot lawyer?” Lucifer’s follow-up was smooth, and Gabriel glared at his blonde brother, at least until Naomi narrowed her eyes at him.

“Money’s not important,” Sam replied, shaking his head. “I just want to help people who need it. That probably means doing a lot of pro bono work, only charging those that can actually afford it.”

“You do know our little brother’s a high-maintenance Omega, right?” Lucifer smirked at Gabriel, who actually started growling under his breath at his brother, Naomi or no. “Pro bono doesn’t sound like it’ll pay his bills.”

“Maybe not,” Sam admitted. Somehow, he was keeping his smile on his face, although he squeezed Gabriel’s shoulders briefly. “But I’ve heard Gabe’s business plans and I’m sure his bakery will be a huge success.” He glanced down at Gabriel, and his smile widened.

“...You wouldn’t care if he made more money than you did?” This was a surprised-sounding Michael.

“No, why would I?” Sam shrugged, seemingly undaunted.

“Now there’s a healthy attitude,” Raphael finally broke into the conversation, giving his older brothers a mildly reproachful look. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have if you’re happy.”

“That’s bullshit, Raffie, and you know it,” Lucifer said, shaking his head at Raphael. “You and Madison both make a fortune; you wouldn’t know what to do if you had to go on a budget.”

“You mean like we did back when we were both in medical school?” Raphael shrugged at Lucifer.

“Do I get a say in this?” Gabriel could feel himself bristling. He felt Sam lay a hand on his back, and start rubbing gently up and down. It felt nice, but it didn’t stem the tide of words that came out of his mouth. “Because Raffie’s right, there’s nothing wrong with being on a budget, especially when you first start out in life.”

“How much did you spend on Amazon last month, Gabriel? Do you have any idea how many pastries you’d have to sell before you could pay that off?” Lucifer sounded fond of his little brother, but it was clear he didn’t think Gabriel knew what he was talking about. “Romance is all well and good, but when you’re used to spending as much money as you are, you have to have a large income.”

“Yeah, how many rounds of golf did it take for you to earn that necklace Lilth’s wearing as CEO of the company Mom gave you?” Gabriel shot back, sarcasm dripping from his words.

“Gabriel!” Naomi finally stepped in. “That was rude. Apologize to your brother right now.”

Gabriel growled in response; he didn’t feel like apologizing to anyone for anything. It was his life, damn it, and he could live it how he chose. Naomi growled back, however, and she was louder. Gabriel eventually looked away, baring his throat. “Sorry.” He knew he didn’t sound very contrite. Sam’s touch was still gentle at his back, and he was glad of it.

“Hey, everyone!” Chuck had almost certainly seen what had happened, but he pretended he hadn’t as he brought a large plate full of grilled hamburgers and steaks to the table. Castiel was right behind him, carrying the smoked salmon on a platter. “Food’s on. We’ll have more in a few minutes, so eat up!”

Chuck’s sons were still clearly not happy with each other, but everyone kept the peace as the Winchesters sat down, plates were filled, and dishes were passed around the table. Gabriel wasn’t at all surprised when Sam took a large amount of the salad, but he surprised himself by doing the same....although it didn’t stop him from nabbing both a hamburger and a slice of grilled halloumi. He supposed he could blame his upcoming heat for the amount of food he was eating today.

Soon, Chuck joined them with the grilled vegetables. “This is excellent, Mr. Tapping,” Dean commented after a few bites, breaking the silence. “Thank you.”

The was a chorus of polite agreement, and Chuck beamed at all of them--including the Winchesters, Gabriel was happy to see. “Gabriel helped,” he pointed out. “He’s a better baker than he is a cook, but he’s no slouch at either.”

Gabriel felt his cheeks redden as he caught Sam smiling at him. “I mostly helped with dessert,” he mumbled. Trying to deflect attention away from himself (which was odd; normally he was fine being the center of attention), he tossed a conversational soft ball over to Dean. “I made pie; I know how much you like it, Dean.”

Dean groaned around a mouthful of steak; Gabriel saw Sam wince when he opened his mouth with food still in it. “You sure it’s my brother you want? ‘Cause I can…”

“Dean. If you finish that sentence, you’re going to end up regretting it for a very long time,” Castiel told his mate, his eyes narrowed.

Dean chuckled, and, still smiling, said, “Okay.”

Gabriel smirked at the both of them; Castiel was a bit of an odd duck, but he liked the other Omega.

“So Sam,” Chuck said while everyone else was chewing, “What got you interested in civil rights?”

Gabriel relaxed a little as Sam (who thankfully swallowed his food before replying) explained how he’d watched Omega rights change over his lifetime, and how he felt as if it were analogous to the Civil Rights Movement in the 50’s and 60’s. He wanted to make sure he was on the right side of history for the social issue of his generation. Gabriel, meanwhile, inhaled his food; he felt as if his metabolism had sped up in just the last few minutes. He had to admit, Dean made a good burger, but he was more than happy to leave the older Alpha to Cas. Dean was nowhere near as gentle or as understanding as Sam was.

Chuck asked some follow-up questions, which Gabriel appreciated. He could tell Sam had already won his father over, and Raphael was positively beaming at the tall man. He felt a sudden, irrational spike of jealousy; he knew Raffie and Madison were happy together, but Sam was his, damn it. He tangled a foot with one of Sam’s long legs under the table. The Omega wasn’t actually planning to play footsie with Sam, but it was better than doing something rude like rubbing himself all over Sam to help stake his claim in front of his parents.

Sam glanced at him, smiled, and set his hand back on Gabriel’s back. Gabriel nearly purred, and realized with a shock that his heat must be closer than even Sam guessed. He lost track of the conversation as he shoveled salad into his mouth, savoring the flavor of...the lettuce? What the fuck? (Good) lettuce didn’t have a flavor, it was just blah rabbit food. Still, somehow, sitting next to Sam was making him crave it.

He vaguely heard Sam calmly respond to something negative Michael had said, but he still wasn’t paying attention. How could Sam not think that he was a perfect Alpha? Here he was, keeping cool and collected while certain members of Gabriel’s family were downright rude to him. How was that not amazing? “Pass the salad,” he asked Raphael, who raised an eyebrow but handed him the bowl. Raffie had been trying to get him to eat more vegetables for...well, his entire life, basically. “And the steak.” He lost a few more minutes of conversation concentrating on his food.

Ugh. Fuck. He hadn’t heard exactly what his mother had said, but he’d heard the tone she’d said it in, and he knew her well enough to know she was delivering some sort of backhanded insult, either to Sam or the Winchesters in general. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Dean tensing, and Castiel laying a hand on his mate’s forearm to calm him. He glanced up, and Chuck was frowning; Lucifer was smirking, and his mother was starting a sentence with the dreaded, “That’s as may be, but…”

Gabriel snapped. He couldn’t take this any more. The only way to deal with his mother was to stand up to her, so he set his hands on the table and pushed himself to his feet. “Stop it!” he yelled, “I love Sam, so don’t sit here and try to convince us both that he’s not good enough for me! You’re wrong, because it’s the other way around. I’m not good enough for him!” With that, he startled himself by bursting into tears, suddenly realizing exactly what was happening as he felt slick start sliding down his thigh. Shit.

Gabriel was going into heat. Now. In front of his entire family and the Winchesters. Because fuck his life, that’s why. Oh, and he’d just declared his love for someone he’d been dating for only a couple of months. His head swiveled toward Sam, whose nostrils were flared and his pupils dilated. The man still had control of himself despite what Gabriel must smell like right now and what he’d just said, although he was gripping the arms of his chair tightly.

Shit shit shit. Dean was staring at him avidly too, over Sam’s shoulder, but thankfully Castiel got up and sat down in his mate’s lap, distracting him with his own scent. In normal circumstances, such an action would be considered rude, but it was actually the best thing to do given the situation. Gabriel mentally thanked Cas as his tears stopped as abruptly as they’d started. “Raffie? Dad?” he whined. He bit down on his impulse to ask for Sam, trying not to make things any harder for his Alpha.

“Michael. Lucifer. Take your mates and go,” Naomi ordered. “Dinner’s over.” She’d already stood up, and was heading in his direction; so was Chuck, he thought.

“I will get Dean out to the car and then I will come back and help with Sam,” Castiel promised, standing and pulling Dean to his feet.

Gabriel had absolutely no idea why Raphael started laughing just then--a warm, amused laugh, of all things, not a cruel making-fun-of-him laugh, which he was pretty sure he deserved. He felt his brother’s hand on his shoulder, stopping him from leaning any further toward Sam, who didn’t seem to be able to take his eyes off of Gabriel any more than Gabriel could take his eyes off of his Alpha.

“See, Mom, Dad?” Raphael was speaking. “They’re true mates, just like you. Gabriel is on heat blockers; you know that. The /only/ way he could go into heat now is that they’re so compatible, their scents are overriding each other’s biology. Sam, when you found Gabriel in that room during the trial, could you smell Jack or the woman?”

Sam licked his lips, and Gabriel was suddenly /very/ jealous of Sam’s lips, despite the way he tended to respond to licking right now. “No. But they were Betas, so I thought they just didn’t...have...” He trailed off, unable to follow the train of thought very far with an unmated Omega in heat that he was attracted to less than a foot from him.

“I don’t think that was it. I think you were able to smell Gabriel when he was on such strong blockers not just because of your nose, but because you’re true mates,” Raphael explained. “If you believe in Him, it means God made you for each other. If you don’t, your biology is just so compatible that you’re drawn to mate with each other. Either way, even Mom can’t argue with it.”

Chuck was suddenly on the side of Gabriel Raphael wasn’t, putting an arm around him to half-support and half-restrain him. “He’s right,” he said, probably to Naomi. “But that also doesn’t mean we should just let them mate each other today,” he added. Gabriel strongly disagreed with that sentiment, and he started growling.

“He can’t consent,” Sam spoke, and his voice was so rough and full of want that Gabriel began to struggle to move forward, toward him. “Not now. And I’m not sure I can--he might panic. I’ll need...help...to leave. Please? Cas is strong, but if I lose control…”

“No!” Gabriel started thrashing, attempting to make Chuck and Raphael let go of him. They just gripped him harder; Chuck turned so he could put his shoulder to Gabriel’s chest and pushed him back a couple of steps. “No, please…” Once he realized he wasn’t getting out of their grip, he sagged in their arms. “I need him, please, I consent, I need my Alpha...please, Dad, Mom, please?”

Naomi stepped between Sam and Gabriel, and the Omega howled in pain--both the pain of his impending heat, and the pain of being separated from Sam, if only by sight. “I’ll help you,” she said. There was no anger in her tone now; if Gabriel had been thinking more clearly, he’d probably have realized that even she was impressed by Sam’s self-control.

“That’s not a good idea, Mom,” Raphael said in a warning tone. “This heat of his is probably going to be the worst he’s ever had. And Sam will probably go into rut, and that will be the worst /he’s/ ever had. I’m not saying we let them mate--I know Gabriel has a dental device, and hopefully Sam does too--but I think we should let them spend their cycles together. If Gabriel starts having panic attacks, maybe we can tie Sam down or something. You’ve still got that room you made for Michael and Lucifer when they were going through bad ruts, right?”

“Yes, but--” Naomi didn’t turn around.

“He’s right, Alpha,” Chuck noted, fondness in his tone despite the situation. “Gabriel’s already burning up, and I can feel him cramping, poor thing. Fake knots aren’t going to help much.”

“No consent,” Sam muttered in a broken tone. Gabriel renewed his struggles to get to his Alpha, but Raphael and Chuck held him firmly.

“He’s consented, Sam,” Raphael said. “He made his wishes clear to me before he went into heat. He’d been planning to go off the blockers so he went through a heat later this summer, and he told me he wanted to spend it with you if you were still together at that point, even if he ended up with panic attacks.” Gabriel could have kissed Raphael, if he still hadn’t been holding him back from Sam.

“That’s good enough for me. You?” Chuck asked Naomi.

She sounded as if she was biting into a lemon, but Naomi replied, “Yes.”

Gabriel suddenly heard Cas’ voice; when had he reappeared? “I brought this, I thought it might help prevent accidents.”

“How?” Sam asked. “I left it at home.”

“I know; Dean insisted we put it in the car just in case.” Gabriel couldn’t see whatever it was they were talking about.

Meanwhile, Madison appeared out of nowhere with Gabriel’s dental device. He opened his mouth and let her put it in; while he very much wanted to mate Sam now, even he realized that it probably wasn’t a good idea to do it in the middle of a heat, at least not without talking about it beforehand.

Gabriel felt Madison’s hands on him, helping to take off his shirt, and he decided that this was a good thing since he was so hot, even if the hands he wanted on him were much larger. There was some conversation he didn’t quite catch, and then Chuck and Raphael were leading him away from the rest of the group. “Noooooooooo!” he howled, struggling again. “Sam! I want Sam! Alpha!” He tried to turn around, but their grip was firm.

“You’ll have him,” Raphael tried to placate him. “We’re just going to help you get ready while Mom puts the fear of God into your boyfriend.”

“Please,” Gabriel whimpered. “It hurts so bad, please.”

“I know, Son. I know. Just a few more minutes.” Gabriel wanted to go to his room upstairs, but Chuck and Raphael led him to an out-of-the-way room downstairs that had its own bathroom as well as a large bed that had places designed to tie an Alpha down, if necessary. Someone (Madison, he’d realize later) had gone to his room and retrieved items that smelled of both himself and Sam, including his pillow, plus a couple of fake knots and some lube. “Here we are,” Chuck told him, easing him down onto the bed.

Gabriel grabbed the first thing that smelled like Sam, an old T-shirt, and held it to his nose and took deep breaths. He tried to strip himself with his other hand, but Chuck had to take over.

Raphael pushed a cup with a straw in it into his free hand, and he immediately drank from it. It was iced juice, and it was perfect. For a moment, he was content to suck on the juice and breathe in Sam’s scent as Raphael and Chuck helped him out of his clothes and into the bed. He didn’t understand why they pulled a sheet over him; he was much too hot.

Raphael crouched down beside the bed. “Gabriel. I need to ask you something, and I need you to focus on me.” He pushed back Gabriel’s already sweat-soaked hair as the Omega did his best to listen to his brother. “Are you okay with knotting? And don’t--” Gabriel was already nodding. “No, Gabriel, think. It’s going to be like a restraint, like ropes. Are you sure you’re okay with it?”

Gabriel really tried to think about the question, but later he wouldn’t be able to put his hand on a Bible and swear that his hormones hadn’t helped him answer. Still, he met Raphael’s gaze, and nodded firmly. He was pretty sure the hormones would take the edge off of his anxiety anyway, and being knotted was quite different from being tied up.

“Okay. Sam will be in in a few minutes; I need to talk to him first,” Raphael told him.

“Sam!” Gabriel lost all focus besides his heat as he set his drink to the side and reached for one of the toys in the hopes of taking the edge off.

“Sam’s coming, Son,” Chuck promised before he left the room with his older brother.

Chapter Text

Gabriel could tell that Raphael had been right--this was going to be a very bad heat. He was in a great deal more pain than usual, and he was pretty sure his temperature was a degree or two beyond what was normal. He’d already jerked off once, and it had hardly helped lessen the waves of heat wracking his body.

Thankfully, Sam soon stepped into the room, his suit jacket already off. He had the shirt that Madison had helped take off of Gabriel in one hand, and was scenting it; the other held a glass of water. Gabriel moaned at the sight of the Alpha, and couldn’t care less that he was naked and bouncing on a fake knot in the middle of the bed (the sheet had been thrown off a few minutes ago). “Alpha!” he cried out, before taking a deep breath full of Sam’s scent. His eyes rolled back into his head. Damn, Sam smelled perfect.

When he managed to get his eyes under control, he noted that Sam looked concerned, fond, and aroused, as if several different thoughts were going through his head--and knowing Sam, they probably were. “Gabriel, it’s all right, I’m here. I’ll help you.” Sam tossed Gabriel’s shirt on a chair and set the water down on the nightstand, then began removing his own shirt. The Omega licked his lips as he watched.

“Alpha. Please. Need you. Now,” he whined. He didn’t stop trying to bring himself to completion; he was too far gone for that.

“I know, Omega, I know.” Sam sped up the process of removing his remaining clothes, and later Gabriel would be disappointed that he didn’t have more time to savor the sight of Sam Winchester getting naked. Right now, however, he was wishing Sam would just rip everything off. “I’m right here, Gabriel, don’t worry.” Once Gabriel could see him in all his glory--and there was a lot of glory--Sam sat down on the edge of the bed.

As soon as he pulled his legs up, Gabriel let go of the fake knot and straddled Sam, throwing his arms around him and kissing him deeply. He’d have sunk straight down if Sam hadn’t grabbed his hips. “Wait, Gabe,” Sam gasped. “Wait. Just a minute.”

That was not what Gabriel wanted to hear. “No,” he growled, reaching a hand down between them to grasp Sam and try to line him up.

Sam growled back at him. “Stop.” Gabriel froze; his body obeying the Alpha’s voice even if his mind didn’t want to. Sam let go of his hips, and reached up to cradle Gabriel’s face with both hands. When he spoke, it was in a slightly huskier version of his normal tone. “Gabe, I need you to think. Tell me that you really want this, that you want me to knot you. I know you told Raphael you did, but I need to hear it.” One of his thumbs stroked gently across Gabriel’s cheekbone, calming him.

Gabriel really tried to do as his Alpha asked. He bit his lip, and stared into those gorgeous eyes of Sam’s. “Yes, Alpha...Sam. I want this, I want you to knot me, please, Alpha.”

“Okay Gabe,” Sam said softly, leaning forward for a gentle kiss that soon became more demanding. And a bit awkward, thanks to the dental devices, but that was normal. When they finally pulled apart for air, Sam was back to using his Alpha voice. “But we do it my way.” He laid back and then pulled Gabriel forward so the Omega was sitting on his chest instead of his lap. It negated their height difference, and Gabriel immediately leaned down to put his nose against Sam’s scent gland.

“Good boy,” Sam said, stroking his hands gently over Gabriel’s back before leaning forward to kiss up and down his neck and scent him right back.

Gabriel melted under the praise and the gentle touches, even if he wanted more. “Alpha, please, need you, need more,” he whimpered.

“As you wish,” Sam murmured, and Gabriel would have to smack him later for using the Princess Bride reference in bed. He forgot all about that, however, as one of Sam’s hands carefully gripped his hip and the other slipped between his legs. “Need to make sure you’re ready for me, Omega. Relax,” Sam added, and Gabriel went boneless as Sam slowly inserted a couple of fingers. Damn, Sam had long fingers.

“More!” Gabriel mewled, closing his eyes.

“Impatient,” Sam huffed, but slid a third finger in before starting to work him open. Gabriel moaned--finally, he had some of the stimulation he needed. He began to explore Sam’s well-muscled chest with his hands, lips, and teeth. “There’s a good Omega,” Sam praised, letting go of Gabriel’s hip and running a hand up and down his back briefly before reaching for something on the nightstand--Gabriel couldn’t see and didn’t care what it was; he only cared about the feel of Sam’s fingers inside him, the feel of his slick running down onto them, and the feeling and taste of Sam’s skin.

“Please, Alpha, knot me,” Gabriel whined, when he felt that Sam was taking a bit too long with the preparations.

“Mmm. Soon,” Sam promised in a dark tone. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You won’t...please,” Gabriel begged, and when Sam didn’t immediately remove his fingers, the Omega bit down on his scent gland, causing Sam to gasp again. Thankfully, the dental device stopped Gabriel from mating Sam--which didn’t mean he didn’t leave a mark. He would get his way one way or the other; right now he couldn’t care less if it meant making Sam lose control.

Sam pulled his fingers out, and after a moment finally let Gabriel shuffle backwards, where he discovered Sam had put a condom on. Condoms made for Alphas had to be strong, and weren’t that much fun for the Alpha. Whining, Gabriel asked, “Why?” though that didn’t stop him from easing down onto Sam’s covered length.

Sam was licking his fingers clean, eyes closed in what looked like bliss. “Mmmmm…” It took him some time to realize that Gabriel had said something, and when he looked back at the Omega, there was very little hazel color left in his eyes. “Raphael said your birth control might not work,” he managed to explain before adding, “God, Gabe, you taste amazing, and you feel even better.”

Gabriel had honestly forgotten about his question by the time Sam answered it; finally Sam was inside him, and finally he felt full in a way a fake knot could never replicate. He began moving almost immediately, needing this in a way that was nearly impossible to describe.

Sam set his hands on Gabriel’s hips and started to thrust up into him as he slid down; Sam’s grip might have been a little tighter than Gabriel could normally handle, but it didn’t trigger any panic. Sometimes hormones didn’t suck. The Omega locked eyes with Sam and set his own hands on the Alpha’s chest. “Feels so good,” he gasped, grinding down against Sam’s pelvis. “Sam--Alpha.”

“Yes! Gabe!” Sam clearly agreed. Gabriel was pretty experienced when it came to sex, but this...this was amazing. This was right. Sam let go of him for a moment to pull him down for a sloppy kiss made sloppier by the retainers, and then there were no more words for a while.

Gabriel knew he wouldn’t last much longer, and he very much wanted to be knotted, so he leaned down and ran his nails down Sam’s flanks, hard enough to leave little scratch marks. Sam growled in response, surging up to bite down on Gabriel’s scent gland. Sitting up meant he couldn’t thrust any longer, but the change in position was still enough to tip Gabriel over the edge. He came with a shout, but kept moving until Sam’s knot swelled enough that he couldn’t move at all anymore. He watched Sam come apart with no small amount of satisfaction, feeling the condom swell inside of him, then pushed the Alpha onto his back and laid down on his chest, falling into a light doze.

.oOOo.

When he woke, Gabriel felt better and his head was much clearer. Sam was purring, and had apparently lifted him up at some point to clean them up, because there was no dried mess in between them. He was also idly running his fingers through the Omega’s hair. Gabriel immediately started purring back, feeling safe and comfortable. After a few minutes, he stretched and looked up at his Alpha.

“Hey there,” Sam lifted his chin and smiled down at him; unfortunately, him speaking put a stop to the purring. “How are you feeling?”

“How do you think?” Gabriel quipped, before his brain could remind him of everything he’d done leading up to the amazing sex they’d just had. Immediately, he felt his face fall. He was never going to live what he’d done at dinner down.

“Gabe?” Sam’s smile faltered in turn. “What’s wrong?” He quickly removed his hand from the Omega’s hair, as if it were his touch that had caused Gabriel’s sudden mood swing.

Gabriel closed his eyes. “Sam. Fuck. I am so sorry for the way I acted earlier. You didn’t deserve any of that.”

“Gabe, it’s not your fault,” Sam replied quietly. “You had to deal with your family, and then you went into an unexpected heat. That would make anyone snap. I’m not upset with you. I was just worried about...about panic attacks.” Gabriel suspected he’d almost said something else, and he wasn’t yet up to figuring out whatever it was.

“I’m fine.” Gabriel wiggled experimentally, causing Sam’s breath to hitch, as they were still locked together. Opening his eyes, he forced a smile onto his face for Sam. “Not like ropes at all.” He couldn’t keep up the act long, though. “...You didn’t deserve to hear...um, what I...well, you know, what I...yelled at my mother like that. I mean, you deserved to hear it from me to you, not from me to my mom.” What the hell? He never got tongue-tied.

That caused Sam to scoff, and return his hand to Gabriel’s hair. The Omega tried to turn his head into the touch, but Sam gently moved his face until they were looking into each other’s eyes. “I love you too, Gabriel,” he said quietly.

The Omega’s breath caught. He wasn’t one for sappy romance nonsense, but...that was nice. Very nice. Of course, what did he do in response? He blurted out the first thing that came to mind, which was, “Good thing, since we’re apparently true mates.” He made a face at his stupid comment.

“It’s okay. We have plenty of time to work that out,” Sam told him, fingernails now scratching gently at the nape of his neck. “Raphael told me that it doesn’t really work like it does in movies and books, so at least there’s that. You wouldn’t have died if I hadn’t joined you in here.” His lip twisted in a half-smile.

“Maybe, but I would’ve been really miserable. You have no idea what it feels like,” Gabriel responded, laying his head back down on Sam’s broad chest.

“No, I don’t,” Sam admitted. “Rut’s not really that bad; there’s no pain and it doesn’t last as long.” He shifted his weight, and brought his other arm up and put it around Gabriel. “I’m sorry I made you go into heat, Gabe.”

Gabriel snorted at that. “It’s not as if you meant to,” he retorted. “And...I have to admit, of all the ways of convincing my mother that we’re not going to be talked out of this relationship, this one was the most...spectacular.”

“It was that,” Sam chuckled. “The look on her face was priceless. And then your brothers...Lilith came all the way out of her seat; Lucifer had to pull her back down and hang on to her.”

“Ugh,” Gabriel grimaced. “That would just be...ugh. Lilith?”

“Ugh?” Sam suggested, laughing softly. Gabriel loved the way his nose crinkled up when he did.

“Ugh,” Gabriel confirmed, leaning up to kiss Sam’s nose. “Not to mention Lucifer would probably have torn both of us apart.”

“I wouldn’t have let either one touch you,” Sam told him. “I had a hard enough time letting your mother and father get between us.”

“True. You have some serious control,” Gabriel noted. He could feel Sam’s knot deflating, and knew he’d soon lose his Sampillow. “I can’t believe you didn’t grab me.”

Sam’s smirk was wry, and accompanied by a shrug. “Like I said, I’m not much of an Alpha. Besides, if I had, I might have lost control entirely.”

“From where I’m sitting, you’re plenty Alpha,” Gabriel teased, though since Sam’s knot had deflated far enough, he got up off of him and helped take the condom off and throw it away...or at least in the general direction of the wastebasket. “I can’t believe you think that just because you have such good control over yourself, you’re somehow ‘less.’ It makes you ‘more’ to me.” He settled back down next to Sam, rolling onto his side so he was facing him and placing a possessive hand on his chest.

“Really?” Sam sounded as if he didn’t believe it as he rolled onto his side too. “My last girlfriend...well, never mind. This isn’t the right time.”

Gabriel raised an eyebrow. “Maybe not,” he conceded. “On the other hand, you might like it if you made me jealous.” He waggled his eyebrows, but knew Sam was still hurting and chose not to drop the subject. “Sam--after what I went through, I need someone with control. You made sure I was on top and tried to not hold me too tightly and kept your tongue to yourself, and I’m in heat. My pheromones must have been driving you crazy, but you put me first. I won’t forget that. And I promise, one day, you won’t need to rein yourself in. You can go nuts and fuck me into the mattress however you want and I’ll love every second of it.” He let his hand slide up to cradle Sam’s face. “But right now, if you weren’t in control, I don’t think I could stand to have you with me. So I’m super glad you are.”

He leaned in for a gentle kiss, and nearly melted at the grateful smile Sam gave him afterwards. The Alpha stretched, and then glanced over at the door and sighed. “I promised your brother that I’d go let him know when it was okay for him and Madison to come in and take blood samples. He wants to know whether or not your birth control’s still working, and what both of our hormones are looking like.”

“Does that mean we can stop using condoms soon?” Gabriel perked up at that. He wasn’t excited about medical tests, though he supposed it made sense to do them.

“I don’t know. But I’m clean. You?” Sam turned and sat up, reaching for the juice on the nightstand and handing it to Gabriel.

Before he drank, Gabriel nodded and waggled his eyesbrows. “As a whistle, though you’ll have to work up to blowing me.”

Sam shook his head, but it was with a smile. “We’d better get Raphael in here before your next wave hits.” He drank some water, and then reached down beside the bed to look for clothing. Gabriel’s smiley-face boxers were closest. “...Really?” he asked, holding them up before tossing them at the Omega.

Gabriel burst out laughing; thankfully there wasn’t -too- much juice in his mouth, so the sheets didn’t get /too/ wet. He let the garment hit him in the face before grabbing it with his free hand. “They’re my lucky boxers now, Sam. Best get used to ‘em.”

“I present this as evidence that we are not really true mates. Prosecution rests,” Sam retorted as he climbed out of bed and stretched before going to find his own black boxers, slacks and shirt. Gabriel maturely wolf-whistled at him, and Sam maturely flipped him off.

“You need less clothes to do that, Alpha,” Gabriel said sweetly. He put on his boxers and then grabbed some more juice. He could feel another wave of heat coming--they’d have some time, but not too much. “But I suppose it’s best if you don’t go around flashing the rest of my family.” He paused a minute. “No, I lie. Please go find Michael and Lucifer and flash them? I want them both to know my boyfriend’s dick is bigger than theirs.”

“Behave,” Sam told him as he buttoned up his shirt. He combed his fingers through his hair and then left. Gabriel knew the room was soundproofed; not that Raphael would likely come in without an invitation even if it weren’t. With a sigh, he emptied the glass of juice. All that was left was Sam’s water, but he didn’t want to steal it. He made a mental note to ask his brother to bring more.

.oOOo.

Not long afterward, Sam re-entered the room with Raphael and Madison. They were carrying food--leftovers from the party--and pitchers, which Gabriel hoped had more juice in them, as well as medical supplies. “Don’t let him have anything before I take his temperature,” Raphael instructed, when Sam noticed that Gabriel’s cup was empty and went to refill it from one of the pitchers. Raphael set up a tiny medical station on one of the nightstands, then turned to Gabriel with a medical-grade thermometer.

Gabriel rolled his eyes, but wordlessly allowed his brother to place the device under his tongue. Madison set everything she was carrying down, and then ducked out for a moment, only to come back with a clipboard. She took over control of the medical station, while Raphael assaulted Gabriel with a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope in the crook of his arm. Normally, Gabriel would be bantering with the two doctors, but today he didn’t feel like it.

Sam busied himself laying out food and drink for them on a nearby table, even if Gabriel couldn’t have any yet, and then put a plastic liner in the trash can and sat down on the end of the bed. Raphael gave Madison the blood pressure numbers, and then Gabriel’s temperature, once the thermometer beeped. He’d been right; it was above normal, even for a heat. His blood pressure was high, too. Madison wrote all the numbers down on the clipboard, and then (and Gabriel was oddly pleased to see it) Raphael headed toward Sam with the thermometer and a blood pressure cuff designed for Alphas.

That meant, however, that it was time to take his blood sample. Madison examined both his arms, then tied an elastic band around his left arm and pricked it with a needle. Gabriel winced, and she grinned at him as she allowed the sample to flow into the vacutainer. “Don’t be a baby,” she teased him. He stuck his tongue out at her, and she handed him a lollipop when he was done, an old joke between the three of them. He took off the wrapper, threw it at the trash can, and stuck the lollipop in his mouth without comment.

By the time Madison was done with Gabriel, Raphael had Sam’s blood pressure and temperature, which she also wrote down. Then Sam got to donate blood, too. Gabriel was pretty sure that doctors were just a subclass of vampire. “So, does this mean we’ll be able to stop using condoms?” he asked his brother.

“Sorry, no. We probably won’t have the results back in time,” Raphael told him. Gabriel groaned. “But I promise, we’ll figure out exactly what’s going on and if your birth control is still working, so the next time you go into a heat, we’ll know what you can and can’t do.”

“Can I at least have more juice?”

“Yes, you can eat and drink now.” Gabriel chose to drink, grabbing the cup Sam had filled and settling down with it. He didn’t really care that the taste of the lollipop clashed with the taste of the juice.

“He’s not going to have to go into heat every three months now, is he?” Sam asked as Madison drew his blood.

“Not from what I’ve read, although I definitely need to refresh my memory with respect to true mates,” Raphael replied. “From what I remember, the initial scent-bonding just synchronizes your ruts and heats. Once they’re synchronized, the blockers usually work again.” He picked up the clipboard, and looked over it. “Definitely a bad heat,” he remarked before looking at Gabriel. “Drink and rest as much as you can between waves.”

Gabriel mock-saluted him (he knew the drill by now), and Sam nodded. “You said earlier I might go into rut. Do you know when?” the Alpha asked Raphael.

“Sorry, Sam. Without knowing what your normal values are, it’s hard to tell if and when you’ll go into rut. My guess would be a couple of days, but given how fast Gabriel went into heat…” Raphael shrugged. “May I scent you? My nose might be more accurate.”

“Sure.” Sam tilted his head to the side, and allowed Gabriel’s brother to nose at his neck. Gabriel growled, set his juice down, and crawled over to Sam so he could climb in his lap just as his brother leaned back.

“It’s okay, Gabey, he’s all yours.” Raphael seemed amused by Gabriel’s possessiveness. Gabriel gave him another growl anyway, and he just chuckled as Sam reached up to put his arms around the Omega. “Yes, I’d say a couple of days. You’re definitely getting close, though.”

Sam swallowed and nodded again, tightening his arms just slightly around Gabriel. “I’m afraid I may panic him again,” he admitted in a rush. “I’d never hurt him, but…”

Raphael nodded, and took a step or two back. Gabriel hadn’t meant to give his brother the Evil Eye, but apparently he was. “We’ll get some rope. You’ll probably want to get him to tie you down so you can’t grab him or lick him unless he wants you to.” He was speaking to Sam now.

“We can work up to licking,” Gabriel couldn’t believe how defensive he sounded. He tried to remind himself that it was his /brother/, for fuck’s sake, and that Raphael was already happily mated...but it was hard. The hormones were threatening to take him under again, and he started rubbing his face all over Sam’s neck. He opened a couple of buttons on Sam’s shirt for better access.

Raphael chuckled. “Time for us to leave. Gabriel, you have your phone; you can text me if you need anything. Sam, we’re staying here tonight, so if you need us, we’re the second door on the left upstairs. Don’t feel bad about waking us up; I’m going to have to cancel some of my appointments next week anyway.”

“Thanks, Raphael, Madison.” Sam put his arms around Gabriel, pulling him close. Gabriel started purring again. “Think you can eat something?” Sam asked, as Gabriel’s brother and sister-in-law left. “Besides the lollipop?”

“Maybe later.” Gabriel wasn’t in the mood for food, and continued unbuttoning Sam’s shirt. “Mine,” he said, rubbing his face over the skin he was unveiling.

“Yours,” Sam confirmed, amusement in his tone. “But you do have to eat after this time, okay?”

Gabriel made a vaguely affirmative noise as he pushed the shirt off Sam’s shoulders...god, Sam’s shoulders. “Wanna try it with me on the bottom. Can we, Alpha?” he asked as he nibbled his way along one of the shoulders.

Sam considered his request--damn him for having a mostly clear head!--as he removed Gabriel’s lollipop from his mouth and set it aside, and then nodded. “We can try. If it bothers you, we can always roll over, or stop.”

Gabriel bit down hard. “No stopping!” he growled.

Sam laughed. “All right, no stopping,” he promised, lifting Gabriel up and setting the Omega in the middle of the bed on his back.

.oOOo.

Their experiment proved quite successful; Gabriel’s heat significantly reduced his anxiety, and he never felt trapped even though he was underneath Sam. Afterward, Sam’s long arms came in handy, because he was able to retrieve Gabriel’s juice even though they were still connected, having rolled onto their sides. The Omega dutifully emptied the cup while Sam cleaned them up with a washcloth, and then sighed happily, wiggling around in Sam’s arms. “I could get used to this,” he said.

“So could I,” Sam replied, setting the juice cup back on the nightstand before leaning in and kissing Gabriel on the tip of his nose.

“Does it bother you that you can’t lick me?” Gabriel asked quietly, tilting his head to the side.

Sam answered him honestly. “A little,” he admitted. “I’d love to eat you out, and I’d love to be able to open my mouth and taste you when I kissed your skin. But we literally have the rest of our lives to work up to it.”

Gabriel fake-gasped. “Sam! Are you proposing?”

The Alpha spluttered a bit, and then discovered that Gabriel’s sides were ticklish, so he was able to properly get him back for that remark. “You know what I mean,” he growled, tickling Gabriel until the Omega couldn’t catch his breath.

“I do,” Gabriel retorted once he’d recovered. Sam held him close instead of tickling him again, which he probably deserved. The Alpha had been right; Gabriel really enjoyed cuddling with him. “Let’s try it,” he blurted out.

“Try what?” Sam sometimes couldn’t keep up with Gabriel’s rapid-fire topic changes, but Gabriel didn’t mind; it just meant that he was forced to slow down and think all the way through some of his more random ideas.

“Using your tongue on me. Next time I go under, use your hands and then switch to your mouth. The hormones make it easier. And we can stop if it doesn’t go well.” Gabriel gave his lover a wink. “Well, not stop, but you know what I mean.”

Sam looked concerned. “Are you sure?” he asked, reaching out to cup Gabriel’s cheek. The Omega leaned into the touch.

“Yeah,” Gabriel confirmed. “Might as well try it when my anxiety’s at its lowest.”

“You’re bossy,” Sam rubbed his nose against Gabriel’s, and then, since his knot had deflated far enough, pulled out of him gently, removed the condom, tied it off, and tossed it into the wastebasket. “But I suppose I can do that.”

Gabriel laughed and sat up, stretching. “Willing to make the sacrifice?”

“Yes. Now eat,” Sam insisted, passing him a plate with a hamburger on it. Gabriel didn’t really feel like eating--you didn’t, when you were in heat, which was part of why you ate so much beforehand--but he accepted it without argument. Well. Mostly without argument.

“Only if you eat dessert first,” he told Sam. “I want to see your face when you try my pie.” He felt himself blush, another thing he almost never did. “...That did not come out the way I meant it.”

Sam was already doubled over in laughter. It was probably a good thing he hadn’t yet started to get food for himself, or the sheets would have gotten messier. As it was, the glass of water he’d grabbed was tipped sideways, and the only reason it hadn’t spilled was that there wasn’t much left in it.

“Shut up,” Gabriel glowered at Sam. “Alphas who laugh at me don’t get any pie!” He burst out laughing afterwards, though, unable to help himself. He hadn’t really seen Sam laugh this hard before; the man tended to be a bit too serious. Gabriel set his plate on the nightstand and hopped out of bed, making his way over to the table, where there were a couple of slices of his homemade apple pie on a plate. “I’m going to eat it before you can have any!”

That sent Sam into another fit of laughter, but he good-naturedly set his water down, climbed out of bed and chased after Gabriel, who grabbed the pie plate and ran across the room with it. He then literally just picked up a slice of pie with his hand and shoved as much of it as he could into his mouth. “Gabe! Gross!” Sam protested.

When he caught up to Gabriel, Gabriel grabbed the other slice and tried to force-feed it to Sam. Needless to say, this ended in pie getting all over both their faces before Sam wrestled the plate away from Gabriel and set it aside. “...Damn, we’ll need to keep my brother away from your bakery or he’ll be broke in a week,” Sam admitted, after he swiped some of the apple filling off of his face and ate it. “But right now, I have a bigger problem. A bratty, sticky Omega.” He leaned down and swept Gabriel off of his feet, arranging him bridal-style, probably so he didn’t feel too constrained.

Gabriel whooped and threw his arms around Sam’s neck. “And what are you going to do about it, Alpha?” he asked in his most innocent tone of voice.

“You’ll find out.” Sam headed for the bathroom instead of the bed, nudging the door open with his foot before walking in. Gabriel started wiggling to get away as soon as he realized Sam was heading for the shower, but he still ended up with a face-full of first cold, then pleasantly warm water.

“Saaaaaam!” he complained, but the Alpha just set him down gently and proceeded to wash them both thoroughly.

“No more food fights,” Sam told Gabriel, mock-sternly, as they dried off.

“I promise nothing,” Gabriel shot back, darting naked out of the bathroom and taking a flying leap onto the bed.

Sam came out more slowly, a towel wrapped around his waist, looked around the room, and shook his head. “Well, I’m hungry,” he said, filling a plate with food for himself. “At least drink something if you’re not going to eat.” He sat down in a chair and ate his food like a mature adult.

Gabriel rolled his eyes at the mothering (or was it fathering?), but he did take a few bites of his hamburger and then drained another cup of juice. He set the plate with the remnants of the hamburger on the nightstand, and then went to find--ah, there! Raphael knew him well; there was a dish of expensive chocolate candy near the end of the table. He popped two in his mouth at once. Mmmm, chocolate. He studiously avoided the urge to eat more salad, the remnants of which, yes, had been brought into the room. He needed to ask Raphael about that; he didn’t want to end up craving rabbit food for the rest of his life.

As the chocolate melted in his mouth, he looked around and decided to clean up the room at least a little; he could be a slob sometimes, but knew that the combination of food, bedding, used condoms, etc. was getting to be a little much. And, hey, if cleaning up involved a lot of bending over while naked and ignoring Sam being an adult, well, that was just a bonus.

Sam, drat the man, ignored him, or at least appeared to. He calmly finished his food, took a single chocolate (Gabriel had already had two more) and then pitched in, helping to make a pile of soiled towels, washcloths and the like in one corner of the room while dumping used things into the plastic-lined garbage can in the room. He filled Gabriel’s juice cup and his water glass, and even straightened the sheets on bed (the duvet had been an early casualty of Gabriel’s heat, and was tossed off to the side of the room).

Just when Gabriel opened his mouth to make a smart remark, Sam apparently decided that enough was enough; he grabbed Gabriel and tossed him into the center of the bed. Gabriel yelped, and then laughed, and then pretended to try to get away, which became actual trying to get away when Sam held him down for another round of tickling. “You are such a tease,” the Alpha growled, though he didn’t seem particularly unhappy about it. Once again, Sam stopped at the point where the tickling started to be uncomfortable. Hovering over Gabriel, he started kissing his face. “Still want to do what we talked about earlier?”

Panting, Gabriel tried to think. His heat was peaking again, and he couldn’t quite remember what Sam was referring to. Oh! Eating him out. He considered it briefly, and thought it was a very good idea. “Yes, please, Sam.”

“Oh, now you’re polite,” Sam kissed down his chest, bringing up one hand to gently circle a nipple while he was at it. Gabriel let himself moan; he’d never really figured out why anyone wouldn’t let their partner know that they were enjoying what they were doing. Speaking of which, he was going to have to do some very nice things to Sam when his heat was all over to make up for all the attention Sam was giving him now.

Sam crawled backwards and began to kiss Gabriel’s stomach. His hand, however, reached down and grasped the Omegal’s cock. Gabriel promptly moaned again; Sam’s large, slightly calloused hands were everything he had ever wanted touching him there. Sam began to jerk him off slowly, and Gabriel threw his head back in pleasure while twining his fingers into the Alpha’s hair. He knew they’d planned this, but it didn’t make it any less sexy. “Keep going, Sam!” he gasped out when he felt the fingers of Sam’s other hand probe his entrance.

Sam inserted a couple of fingers, and Gabriel started to find it really hard to think. Sam finally began kissing lower, although Gabriel barely noticed it. He was squirming by the time Sam started kissing his inner thighs, and he heard the Alpha chuckle before nosing at the scent gland in his groin, kissing it, and then pausing. “Yes, more!” Gabriel shouted, and Sam gave the gland an open-mouthed kiss.

Gabriel barely even registered it when Sam’s tongue finally replaced his fingers; the part of his brain in charge of panicking was fully shut off now. Besides, he could only smell Sam in the room; okay, maybe a little residual Raphael and Madison, but mostly Sam, and he his body trusted the Alpha implicitly. Sam would never hurt him.

He came wailing the Alpha’s name; judging by the smug look on Sam’s face when he raised his head up and looked down at Gabriel, he was proud to have brought the Omega so much pleasure.

Sam retrieved a washcloth and cleaned Gabriel up before settling beside him, one arm around his chest and his nose in Gabriel’s hair. “That was okay?”

“Okay?” Gabriel nearly choked as he worked on getting his breath back. “That was fucking amazing.” He realized a moment later what Sam was actually asking. “Oh. Yeah, it didn’t bother me at all. But I was pretty far under; I don’t know if it would be the same if I wasn’t in heat.”

Sam kissed his hair. “Good. And that’s okay; we’ll go as slowly as you need. But I definitely want to do that again sometime. You’re better than any cinnamon roll I’ve ever tasted.”

Gabriel huffed a laugh. “I’ll have to make you some once this is over. I bet I can change your mind.”

.oOOo.

Later that night, something woke Gabriel. It was dark in the room, so he had no idea what time it was. It hadn’t been the anxiety dream he’d been having that had woken him (thankfully, it was just a mild one; in it, he’d forgotten to take a final exam for one of his classes).

Frowning, he turned his head so he could see Sam. And saw a pair of glowing red eyes looking back at him. He froze. Sam was in rut, and Gabriel’s next wave of heat wouldn’t hit for a while. Damn it. Gabriel considered his options. From the looks of things, Sam was ready to pounce on him. No sudden moves, then.

Unfortunately, the anxiety he’d had while dreaming started to build. He knew Sam wouldn’t hurt him, of course, but he wasn’t sure that Sam would let him be on top, or remember not to hold him too tightly, or lick him, or put a condom on, or… Double damn it.

He decided that the best thing to do was to let Sam have free rein so he wouldn’t try to constrain Gabriel. He’d try to remind him about the condom, but otherwise… Gabriel took a deep breath and tried to let it out slowly, but failed. Why couldn’t his heat override his head this time, of all times?

Slowly, Gabriel rolled over onto his stomach and then drew his legs underneath him, presenting for the Alpha. He heard a pleased-sounding rumble come from Sam’s chest, and he felt the Alpha get up and crawl behind him. “Don’t forget a condom, Alpha.” Sam made a noise, but Gabriel didn’t know what it meant. He’d continue to insist, but Sam might be too far gone for him to actually think through the process of retrieving one and putting it on.

The Alpha’s hands came down on his shoulders, pinning him in place. Gabriel tried not to let it bother him--he knew it wouldn’t have if his hormones had gotten the memo Sam was sending with his pheromones--but it did, and he couldn’t help himself. He started to breathe faster, and trembled slightly as Sam’s nose came down to scent him from behind. It was exactly what Alistair had done before he’d licked him, and he couldn’t help but whimper--and not in a good way. His panic started building, and since he was terrified of having another panic attack, the anxiety fed on itself.

Sam paused, and lifted up his head, breathing deeply. He stayed like that for a few moments, and then slowly took his hands off of Gabriel’s shoulders.

And then...nothing, aside from some small movements. Adrenaline made Gabriel tremble for a while longer, but he finally made himself look over his shoulder. Based on the position of Sam’s eyes, the Alpha was kneeling behind him, and then, a moment later, Gabriel realized what the little noises he’d been hearing were. Sam was jerking off. Gabriel had never heard of an Alpha in rut who was able to avoid claiming an Omega in heat (even if the heat wasn’t very strong right this second). But his amazing, gorgeous, amazing, wonderful Alpha had.

Gabriel almost laughed, but he didn’t want to trigger a negative response from Sam, so he focused on calming down. He took deep breaths, and slowly the anxiety passed. Once it had, Gabriel slowly turned around. “Let me help you, Alpha,” he said, keeping his tone and posture deferential. He’d been wanting to get his mouth on Sam for a while now, but he reached out with his hands first.

Sam let him take over, and Gabriel gave him the best blowjob he could, given their somewhat awkward positioning and Sam’s size. He was happy to note that Sam was both vocal and clearly appreciated his efforts; he enjoyed bringing pleasure to his partners. Gabriel even managed to reduce Sam to monosyllables: ‘yes,’ ‘Gabe,’ and ‘more’ were some of his favorites. Sam couldn’t even seem to get out, ‘Omega,’ which amused Gabriel to no end. Sam did get a firm grip on his hair, but Gabriel was able to tolerate it.

When Sam got close, Gabriel pulled his mouth off with one last firm press of his tongue to the underside of Sam’s cock, and aimed him at his chest while he finished by jerking him off. Gabriel had no compunctions about swallowing, but swallowing what an Alpha in rut produced was impossible. Thus, he let Sam paint his chest white as his knot popped and he came.

Sam panted for a few minutes, his head thrown back. When he finally brought it forward to look down at Gabriel, the red glow in his eyes was fading. The Omega breathed a sigh of relief, which was cut off when Sam leaned forward to kiss him deeply but slowly.

Gabriel pulled Sam down so that they were both lying down again. “Thank you,” Sam finally breathed when they came up for air.

Gabriel shook his head. “Thank you,” he replied. “I started to panic; I didn’t mean to, but I was having a bad dream before you woke me.”

“I’m sorry. You should tie me down. I wish I’d thought of it before we went to bed, but I didn’t think I’d go into--” Gabriel cut Sam off with a kiss; he didn’t want to hear any of it right now.

“Stop it, Sam. You were amazing, and I’m not going to tie you down. Tonight just proved that you don’t need to be; you’re better than that. Hopefully we’ll synchronize soon. Speaking of which…” he pressed his erection against Sam’s side. “I’m starting to feel a little needy, Alpha.”

Sam grinned back. “Well, let’s see what I can do about that, Omega.”

.oOOo.

Gabriel had been right; they both got horny at the same time after that, and he had no further anxiety issues. Castiel brought some of Sam’s things the morning after the party so he’d have clean clothes to change into as well as a toothbrush, a razor, and so on. Sam spent three full days in rut, but Chuck, Raphael, and Madison took good care of both of them. Raphael took daily blood samples, and declared he might write a paper on them because the preliminary results were interesting. On the bright side, he suspected from the early results that Gabriel’s birth control was working, so they wouldn’t have to use additional protection in the future.

Gabriel’s heat broke sometime in the night almost a week later, and he woke to a fully-dressed Sam sitting on the bed, stroking his hair. Once Sam realized he was awake, he leaned down and kissed Gabriel on the forehead. “I have to go to work, babe,” he explained, “Dean is picking me up in a few minutes. I’m sorry I have to leave like this, but you should be fine now. I’ll call you once my shift’s done.”

“Stay,” Gabriel whined. He was insanely comfortable in their nest, and he didn’t want to move, heat or no heat.

“I can’t.” Sam gave him another kiss. “I have to go; other people have had to cover my shifts.”

Gabriel groaned, but sat up. He thought back through everything that had happened in the past week, and caught Sam’s hand before he left. His Alpha deserved to hear it, the right way this time. “Sam? I love you. Be safe, okay?”

Sam’s face split into a brilliant smile, and Gabriel got a kiss on the lips this time. “I love you too, Gabriel,” he replied, squeezing the Omega’s hand before letting go and standing up to leave.

Gabriel watched him go, and then snuggled back into the blankets that smelled of him and Sam. Salad, beer, books, and cinnamon rolls--not a bad combination, he decided.