Sam stops, standing halfway inside the dark motel room, one hand still resting on the doorknob.
“Um. Hey there, Dean.”
Dean squints up at him from the floor next to his bed. “Why’re you so tall?”
Sam raises his eyebrows. So. Somehow, Dean’s managed to get himself drunk drunk. That’s always… interesting.
“I didn’t think I was gonna see you back tonight,” he says cautiously, stepping into the room and closing the door behind him. Damn it, he just wanted to eat his falafel in peace.
“Yeah, well,” Dean mumbles. “Couldn’ find anybody.”
Couldn’t… what? Dean Winchester couldn’t find someone willing to jump into bed with him?
“Right,” Sam says slowly. “Sure. Where’s Cas?”
“Cas ‘s… s’fine. Found a… um. Chick. Was chattin’ her up.”
Dean takes a moody swig from his flask, and Sam lets out a quiet sigh as he sets down his bag of food, resigned to fulfilling his duties as his brother’s (his emotionally constipated, maudlin drunk brother’s) part-time therapist. Not for the first time and not, he’s unfortunately certain, for the last.
“Good for him. That was why you guys went out tonight, right? You said you were gonna be his wingman.”
But being resigned doesn’t mean Sam’s not gonna be an asshole about it. Today sucked, Dean-and-Cas tension wise: it’s been bad for a while, but something must’ve happened that really freaked Dean out, because he’s been doing that weird thing where he acts like a frat-house bro whenever he and Cas are in the same room. It’s actually, physically painful to watch, and depressingly pathetic on top of that, because the eye-fucking doesn’t stop. It never stops. It’s just even more obvious than it usually is. And if Sam wasn’t so sure that being direct with Dean would do anything other than make him freak the hell out and possibly ditch them for another continent, he would’ve locked the two of them in this godforsaken motel room four days ago with some water and condoms and yelled at them to just get it over with already.
As it is, though, he’s gotta be sneaky. Which is why he doesn’t even feel a little bit guilty as he watches Dean’s face do something complicated, cycling through a painful-looking blend of misery, low-simmering jealousy, and yearning.
Hmph. Serves him right.
Dean swallows. “Yeah, was… s’what I said.” He snickers, a little too wetly to be the result of genuine mirth. “Wingman. B’cus ’e used t’be an angel.”
Dean’s watery grin slides off his face like wet paper when Sam doesn’t join in with the laughter, and he looks down at his flask. “Didn’ need one though. Didn’ need me.”
Sam closes his eyes for a second, resisting the urge to go over there and smack Dean solidly on the back of the head. Seriously. He counts to five, breathes, and then opens his eyes back up to give Dean a look.
“You know that’s not true, Dean. Cas needs you, and you need him. You guys rely on each other.”
Dean gives him a distrustful side-eye, and Sam can see him trying to puzzle out if there’s an implication there that he doesn’t like. Which ordinarily, yes, there would be. But Dean’s alcohol soaked brain can’t quite figure out where exactly it is, so he lets it go.
Instead he tries to take another swig from his flask, only to lower it again almost immediately and give it a look of disgusted betrayal. He drops it on the floor next to him and leans his head back against the bed, looking up at the ceiling. Sam pulls his iced tea out of his takeout bag, cracks it open, and settles in to wait for Dean’s next train of thought to limp into the station. It’s probably good that he’s out of booze, though. Any more and he won’t remember this come tomorrow morning. Which would be useless.
Sam puts his drink aside. “Yeah, Dean?”
Dean keeps staring up at the ceiling. “Y’ever look at Cas n’ think, y’know. What a great friend.”
“Uh,” Sam says, trying hard to suppress a smile. “Yes. Absolutely.”
“An’, what a powerful… he used t’be really powerful. Smitey.”
Dean lapses into silence for a second. “An’ he’s got this presence, right?”
Sam raises an eyebrow. “Ah. Yeah, he does, doesn’t he?”
“Yeah,” Dean sighs. “Yeah.”
Should Sam be videoing this? Maybe. But Dean’s not drunk enough that he wouldn’t notice, and no matter how smashed he is he’s never been excited about Sam’s camera being pointed in his direction. Sadly, that would probably end all this progress that’s going on right here, and even though Dean’s still pretty obviously trying not to acknowledge why he’s sitting here on the floor, drunk, instead of tumbling into bed with some busty blonde, Sam’s cautiously hopeful that he might be slowly coming to some sort of tipping point based on the direction of his ramblings.
Dean hums a snippet of something, his hands dangling loosely in his lap. Sam can’t tell what it’s supposed to be; hell, could be Taylor Swift for all he knows.
Sam frowns. “Huh?”
“Cas’ eyes.” Dean says, sounding slightly annoyed that Sam’s not keeping up. Then he fades back into that helpless, faraway stare. “Th’re so blue. Y’ ever notice that, Sammy?”
Sam grins a little. “You’re losing me there, Dean. Can’t say I spend a whole lot of time staring into Cas’ eyes.”
“Hm.” But that doesn’t deter him for long. “His lips, too. S’got weird lips.”
Sam stifles a laugh.
“Nice, though,” Dean adds, as a slightly melancholic afterthought. “Nice.”
Sam goes to take another drink, shaking his head. “Maybe I should just go get Cas, huh? You know, if you told him even half of this stuff you’d have everything worked out in half an hour.”
Dean recoils a little. “No, y’ can’t. I can’t tell him I think he’s got a nice ass.”
Sam chokes on his iced tea, but Dean doesn’t even notice. “That chick had ‘er hands all over ‘im,” he says darkly. “I wanted t’ go over there and show ‘im—”
“Jesus, Dean,” Sam coughs, rubbing his streaming eyes. Iced tea was not meant to be inhaled. “Just— stop. If you’re gonna get R-rated, I’m leaving.”
Dean slumps. “Doesn’ matter, anyways. He w’s fine with it.”
And even though Sam sincerely doubts that, he can’t quite bring himself to contradict it. Maybe… maybe Cas finally gave up on waiting for Dean to pull his head out of his ass, as uncharacteristic as that sounds. God knows Dean hasn’t made it a secret that he still picks people up every so often. Not as much as he used to, sure. But he does. And having Dean try so hard to push Cas into some stranger’s arms…
Well. Dean might’ve done this to himself, and Sam’s pretty sure he deserves it.
He’s just opened his mouth to say as much when there’s a quiet rap at the door. Dean doesn’t pay it any attention, mumbling unintelligibly to himself with his forehead propped in one hand. Sam spares him a look before answering. “Yeah?”
The door swings gently open, and Sam’s eyebrows climb high. Cas is standing there, his shoulders slumped and his free hand stuffed into his pocket.
“Cas, hey,” Sam says in surprise. Dean’s gone quiet. “You alright?”
Cas can’t even muster a sad excuse for a smile. “Yes, Sam, I’m fine. I just wanted to let you know that I was going to bed. I assume Dean found a— companion.” He hesitates on the last word, an almost imperceptible flash of something painful streaking across his face. It smoothes itself away before Sam can get a good look at it. “I didn’t see him leave, but I doubt we’ll see him again before tomorrow morning.”
Sam blinks. “Oh. Um, okay. No luck for you, then?”
Cas’ eyes slide away. “No. I suppose I wasn’t in the mood.”
Cas starts, noticing Dean for the first time. “Dean— what?”
Sam looks back at Dean like he’s watching a tennis match, thanking every god he can think of that Cas isn’t a huge fan of texting and decided to come say goodnight in person.
Dean does a bad job of not glowering jealously. “Y’ had that girl practically sittin’ on y’r lap. Not in th’ mood, my ass.”
Cas looks wildly bewildered, and more than a little pinched in irritation. “Dean, I was attempting to turn her down. When I finally convinced her I wasn’t interested, you were already gone. I thought… I thought you must have found someone and left.”
Dean shakes his head. “No, tha’s… no.” His shoulders droop a little. “Don’ wan’ anyone else, Cas.”
You could hear a pin drop. Sam’s mouth is hanging open.
Did… did Dean just say…
All of a sudden, Sam stands up. “Well, um. I think you guys have some stuff to talk about,” he says quickly, grabbing his bag of now lukewarm Middle Eastern food and edging towards the door. “Cas, I’ll just crash in your room, okay? You can stay here tonight. Dean’s…” Sam trails off as he takes the keys from Cas’ limp hand, looking down at where his brother is sitting on the sticky motel carpet. “Dean’s probably gonna need help getting into bed.”
Cas snaps out of his shock just as Sam’s closing the door behind him. “Wait—”
“Night, guys!” Sam yells gleefully, and bangs the door shut.
Oh yeah. That felt as good as he’d imagined it would. Now, all he’s gotta hope for is that Dean and Cas haven’t murdered each other by morning.
Or, alternatively, that the walls are thicker than they look.
— - —
Dean wakes up, and immediately wishes he hadn’t.
His skull feels like it’s being split open with a jackhammer, his mouth tastes like a barroom floor that’s also an ashtray where a rat went to die, and the soft morning light coming in through the curtains stabs into his eyes like, like something... stabby.
The point is, ow.
At least he doesn’t feel like he’s gonna hurl. His stomach is usually pretty good about staying in line when he drinks, but there are so many other symptoms making themselves known right now that he doesn’t really give a shit one way or another.
He squeezes his eyes shut and drags a hand over his face, letting out a low groan. Then he freezes.
Because there’s someone behind him.
The arm slung protectively over his waist (the thick, muscular, very male arm) tightens a little, and a nose bumps into the back of Dean’s head. How the hell did he miss the warm line of the body pressed all the way down his back when he first woke up? He’s the fucking little spoon. What is happening.
Then there’s a soft puff of breath against his neck, and a gravelly, sleep-roughened, horribly familiar voice emanates from somewhere near his ear. “Good morning, Dean.”
And Dean remembers.
Well, “remembers” is a generous description. It’s more like, he’s immediately assaulted with a jumble of disconnected memories from last night. Downing four (or was it five?) shots of vodka while trying not to watch Cas get felt up by some blonde chick, already two beers deep. Walking back to the motel while drinking from his flask. Talking to Sam. Talking to Cas, a lot less coherently. “I said, I don’ wan’ anyone else. You, Cas. Jus’… you.” Cas helping him into bed, gently pulling off his boots. Dean catching his wrist as he turned to go. “Stay with me?”
He presses his face into the pillow, making an unintelligible noise that comes out sounding something like, “Hrnghrhrg.” Cas (because that’s Cas lying next to him, the Cas Dean might kinda-sorta be in love with, the Cas he basically fucking confessed to last night) sits up, his hand coming to rest hesitantly on Dean’s shoulder.
“Would you like some Advil?”
Dean manages to make a noise that’s close enough to assent to get the point across, and just focuses on not dragging Cas back down next to him when the warmth of him disappears.
The sounds of Cas rummaging around in Dean’s bag and then filling a glass with water drive white-hot spikes of pain into Dean’s brain through his ears, but at least it stops him from thinking. He stifles a couple of small sounds in his pillow, and almost forgets Cas is even there until the bed dips beside him and Cas’ hand lands back on his shoulder.
“Here, Dean. Sit up.”
Dean does as he says, downing the extra strength Advils Cas drops into his hand with a swallow of water before sliding back down, rolling onto his stomach, and burrowing into his pillow. After a moment of painful thought, he sighs, shifting his hand so it brushes against Cas’ thigh. “Thanks,” he mutters.
“It’s nothing,” Cas says softly.
Dean breathes in the faint, musty smell of the sheets, waiting for the meds to kick in. Cas stays where he is, sitting up against the headboard next to Dean, a warm, reassuring presence beside him. Dean feels an absurd swell of gratitude for it.
He doesn’t really know how long he’s been lying there, slipping slowly back towards something resembling sleep, when he feels the gentle touch at the crown of his head. It’s Cas, he realizes suddenly. Cas has started running his hand through Dean’s hair, carding his fingers through it in a soothing, repetitive motion. Dean turns his head towards Cas, cracking open his eyes, and Cas snatches his hand back.
“Dean,” Cas says, quickly. “I’m— I thought you were asleep. I’m sorry, I—”
“No, it’s…” Dean interrupts. “It was nice,” he says quietly.
He meets Cas’ gaze. The moment hangs between them, hushed and soft. Then, carefully, Cas reaches his hand out and resumes his movement. Dean’s eyes slip closed of their own accord, and a contented hum rumbles out of his chest.
They stay like that until Dean’s headache has faded a little, and opening his eyes doesn’t feel so much like a crime against humanity. Reaching up to snag Cas’ wrist, Dean opens an eye. “Wha’ time izzit?”
Cas’ mouth twitches into a fond grin. “It’s close to eight-thirty.”
Dean groans. “God. Why? Too early.”
“Would coffee make it better?”
Before Dean even knows what he’s doing, he’s pressing his lips to the back of the hand he’s still got his fingers wrapped around. It surprises Cas as much as it does him, going by the twitch of the muscles under his lips. He decides to roll with it, though. “Yes. If you go get breakfast, I will kiss you.”
And fuck, there he goes again. What the hell? Is he still drunk? What ever happened to not ever telling Cas ever? What happened to that, huh? Now he’s kissing the backs of hands and making stupid promises all over the place.
After a second where they both founder at the strangeness of all this, Cas laughs. “Only if you brush your teeth, first.” Despite Dean’s headache, a thrill ripples down his spine at the thought. He grins up at Cas.
Cas drags his fingers over Dean’s as he gets up, pulling his jacket and boots on before heading out to the car.
Dean does not immediately rush to the bathroom to brush his teeth. He gets himself out of bed and shuffles to the bathroom like a perfectly regular zombie, does his thing, and has just made it back into the warmth of the bed when Cas returns with a couple of paper bags and a tray of steaming to-go cups. Dean rubs his eyes, putting his phone down on the bedside table as Cas sets most of the coffee and baked goods aside.
“I’ll text Sam soon,” he says as he sits back down on his side of the bed, holding Dean’s coffee and food. “I don’t want his things to get—”
Dean silences him, making good on his word. Cas’ jaw is rough with stubble, and his mouth is soft and pliant and perfect against Dean’s.
“—cold,” Cas finishes weakly when Dean breaks away. He’s staring at Dean in awe. “I… I didn’t think you were actually going to do it.”
“Yeah, well,” Dean says gruffly, taking his coffee. “They say drunk mouths speak sober thoughts. What I said last night was, um. It was true.”
Cas leans in and buries his face in the crook of Dean’s neck, his hand coming to rest on Dean’s thigh. Dean leans his head against Cas’.
“That makes me very happy,” Cas says to Dean’s throat. Dean shivers.
Much too soon Cas pulls back, pressing a kiss to Dean’s cheek as he does. “As much as I would like to stay here, though, I need to have a shower. And Sam needs to come get his breakfast.”
Dean attempts not to pout, but he’s not very successful. Cas grins as he gets up, pulling out his phone to text Sam. “However, you should know that as soon as we get back to the Bunker, I don’t intend to let you leave your room for at least two days.”
Dean almost chokes on his coffee, his eyes going wide. Cas just smiles at him and pockets his phone. “All my clothes are in the other room. Can I use some of yours?”
— - —
Morning dawns bright and sunny, and Sam spends the better part of an hour trying to figure out whether he dares go see how things are with Dean and Cas. The question is answered for him, though, in the form of a text from Cas that comes in around nine, telling him to come by to get his breakfast.
This, of course, means one of two things: either that Cas took pity on a violently hungover Dean and went on a food run post good-emotional-chat, or he took the Impala to spite a violently hungover Dean and only got food and coffee for Sam and himself. (Which sounds childish, Sam knows, but Cas can be one petty son of a bitch when he’s been driven to it. And based on Dean’s behaviour over the past week? He’s definitely been driven to it.)
Sam walks down the row of rooms from Cas’ to what had been his and Dean’s prior to last night. He doesn’t hesitate, exactly, before opening the door, but he does take a fortifying breath. Because as much as he’d like option one to be what happened…
The odds that it’s two are very, very high.
“Morning, guys,” Sam says evenly as he walks in, scanning the scene in front of him. He has to try hard not to let his surprise show on his face as he does.
“Your stuff’s over there,” Dean grunts, his face haggard from his hangover. His hair is spiked up all over the place, and he looks like nothing so much as a disgruntled hedgehog as he takes a long drink from his to-go cup of coffee.
The muffled thrum of the shower in the background explains Cas’ absence, and as Sam retrieves his bagel and coffee from the little linoleum table he does his best not to stare at Dean. Because the bed not currently occupied by his brother is still as crisply made up as it was when Sam left yesterday. And even more interestingly (or damningly, depending on your point of view), both pillows have migrated to the head of Dean’s bed, and both are dented from use.
Dean glares at Sam when he sees the smug smile crawling across the younger Winchester’s face, shifting uncomfortably in his nest of sheets. “Not a word.”
Sam just takes a hugely self-satisfied sip of his coffee. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Dean. I was just gonna tell you how good my falafel was last night. Nice and crunchy, with this really good garlic sauce. It’s a little congealed by now, but I’ve got some left— you should try it.”
Dean glowers at him, looking queasy at the thought. “Anyone ever tell you you’re the worst?”
“Nope. Why, have people been talking about me?”
“Just shut the fuck up.”
Sam laughs and starts in on his bagel, thoroughly enjoying himself. Dean keeps sending him furtive little glances, like he’s waiting for Sam to launch into an interrogation about last night, but Sam ignores him. As long as things are good between Dean and Cas, Sam doesn’t need the details.
Nor does he want them. Like, at all.
As soon as the shower turns off, though, Dean’s eyes are pretty much glued to the bathroom door. When it finally cracks open, releasing a puff of steam, he flushes and develops a laser-focused interest in his coffee again.
Sam rolls his eyes.
Cas comes out in what looks like a clean set of Dean’s clothes, scrubbing at his hair with a towel. He smiles. “Good morning, Sam.”
“Morning, Cas,” Sam says brightly, watching as Cas grabs his own paper bag and wanders over to the bed. He sits down, one leg tucked up underneath him, and smiles at Dean.
“How are you now?”
Dean flushes again, fiddling with the lid of his coffee cup. “I’ll be fine. S’not my first hangover, I can deal.” His eyes flick up to meet Cas’ and he wets his lips. “Thanks again for the coffee.”
Cas hums, peeling the wrapper off his muffin. “It was no trouble.”
Sam grins, looking between the two of them. Damn, he didn’t expect them to be so goddamn cute. He gets to his feet and crumples up his bag, satisfied with what he’s seen. “Cas, I’ll go grab your stuff from the other room, okay? If you guys can clean up here, I’ll go fill up the car and then we can head out when I get back. Sound good?”
Cas nods, his mouth full of muffin, and Dean grunts in agreement. He’s still watching Sam warily, like he’s waiting for the other shoe to drop. And Sam wasn’t gonna say anything else, really, he wasn’t— but now, he’s practically obligated to. Such is the job of younger brothers.
So just before he closes the door, he pokes his head back in, grinning widely. “Oh, one more thing.”
“Yes?” Cas says, turning to look at Sam. Dean’s eyes widen in understanding, and Sam’s shit-eating grin gets a little more gleeful.
“I’ll probably be about forty-five minutes. Is that enough time for you two lovebirds to get it all out, or do you want me to take a little longer?”
He closes the door just in time to block the balled-up sock that comes sailing towards his face and the string of hoarse profanities that accompanies it, and sets off back towards Cas’ old room with a grin on his face, older brother successfully embarrassed. Yeah, he’ll give ‘em forty-five minutes. That’ll be plenty of time, and then he can get back to needling Dean on the car ride back. Cas isn’t the only one who’s had to suffer from Dean’s bad mood this week, and Sam’s not gonna let it slide just because Dean’s had a big gay awakening.
Still. He’s happy for them.
(As it turns out, forty-five minutes is not enough. Dean and Cas stumble out of the motel room an hour and fifteen minutes after Sam left on his gas run, both with fucked-up hair, stupid little grins on their faces, and multiple visible hickeys. And it’s not like Sam gets paid, but he definitely feels like he deserves a raise for dealing with this idiocy twenty-four seven.
They’re holding hands, though. And Dean looks happier than he has in a long, long time.)