Dean’s gaze flickered across the papers in front of him. What Sam deemed his ‘concentration face’ (brows pinched, lips pursed etc. etc.) hadn’t changed in so long it was starting to get creepy. Yes, searching for the monster was important— especially if he was going around wearing a fedora, for God’s sakes— but there was no reason for it to have captured Dean’s attention so much.
The silence was eventually broken by Dean’s report, namely that he had found absolutely nothing that fit their criteria. Sam duly fed back his (slightly more successful, admittedly) research, and Dean asked to see his computer. The quip fell onto Sam’s tongue, and was far too good to hold back.
“You going to look at more anime, or are you strictly into Dick now?”
Something about Dean’s expression— ‘concentration face’ was replaced with ‘mildly disturbed’ rather than ‘annoying brother’ face— prompted Sam to probe further.
“Because, you know, if you were, then it’d be okay.”
Dean’s mouth opened but no words came out.
“I mean if you were into dick— rather than Dick, I mean if you were into him I would be a bit worried…”
“Sam.” Yeah, alright, he was babbling, but he had a serious point to make.
“Just… if you were gay, that’d be okay.”
Dean didn’t even look up from the computer screen.
“I mean, I’d like you anyway, obviously.”
Well that was a stupid thing to say, but he kept ploughing through like the Shire horse he was. “Because, if it were me then I would feel like I was able to say that I was gay.”
“Except I’m not. Gay, I mean.”
Dean looked at his brother. What had gotten into the dude? Why did he feel the need for some freakish touchy-feeling moment?
“If you’re finished with the sharing and caring crap, you might want to look at this.”
And so they went back to analysing the incident with the fedora and the shiny red light. In silence.
“I can’t, he’s not my type.”
“You’re gonna have to play through that.”
“As in he’s not a girl.”
Sam couldn’t believe he was hearing this. He was crouched in a skeezy van, longing for the ability to straighten up all 6’4.5” of him, listening to Dean’s ‘How to Flirt with Guys’ 101.
Dean had always been a worse actor than Sam. Sam’s career on the stage was as brief as his high school years had been (because that was literally when it had occurred), and Dean’s had been shorter than the length of his many hook-ups (i.e. non-existent).There was something about him that meant he always had to break character for the sake of humour or his own code of honour, but now he seemed wholly relaxed. He smiled warmly and fed Charlie the compliment about the guard’s athleticism.
“It shows, you look amazing.”
Okay, he wasn’t subtle (Dean never was), but he was more than just relaxed— he was an expert. Sam couldn’t help but stare.
“This never happened,” the thin whisper seemed a little unnecessary to Sam. Of course it was happening—it was necessary for their mission that it happened. Dean was always just a little too defensive about these kinds of things.
The wheezing laugh that escaped Sam was probably not the most professional thing to do, but it was hardly worth the scorn in Dean’s voice. This moment of his life was so far removed from anything else he had had to deal with on a job. It was simply absurd.
Once Charlie was safely in the room, they had plenty of tense silence to fill.
“Dean, you were pretty good at that flirting thing.”
“I told you, it never happened.” Sam was immune to his elder brother’s scowl by this point, so he continued.
“If you were…” Sam coughed, maybe now wasn’t the best time to bring this up. But he’d started now.
“Queer, I’d still be here—and I don’t just mean literally here in the van, I mean I’d still support you. Because you’re my brother.”
“Alright Sammy.” Sam hadn’t known that it was possible to growl and staccato your vowels at the same time.
“And I know that my brother would accept me, if I was like, ‘hey, guess what, I’m gay!’”
Sam returned to crouching, and waiting, only stopping to add:
“But I’m not gay.”
There was no point to this whole conversation if Dean thought Sam was trying to work through his own sexuality.
The crystallised anger emanating from Dean was sharp and silent.
And, while Sam had kind of expected this from his many previous stumble blocks towards the topic, the waiting was far more strained after that.
Sam felt it was necessary to announce his presence when he walked into the motel room and saw the scene in front of him. His brother and Castiel were sat opposite each other on the two beds, knees touching, eyes gazing, sad love music playing in the background… Okay, the music wasn’t actually there but it may as well have been. When Cas had been stuck in purgatory Dean had seen him in rain spattered windows for Christ’s sake!
And, okay, it was the angel’s power trying to form a connection, but Sam was pretty sure he knew the reason that he hadn’t seen anything.
The sound of ripping Velcro would have been appropriate as Dean tore his gaze away from Castiel’s. But its escape was short-lived as Cas began to speak almost at the same moment Dean’s attention drifted.
“Dean, you’ll never guess what happened to me while I was searching for you.” Cas shifted and very obviously avoided Sam’s eye; which meant, as Sam had learnt (a little belatedly), that he was up to something. “There was this guy, and he was smiling and talking to me.”
“What, he wasn’t scared away by the mud?”
“I mean, he was being really friendly and I think he was… coming on to me, as you say.”
Dean cleared his throat.
“Why are you telling me this?”
Castiel’s eyes flickered down to his lap for an instant.
“Why should I care if some dude wants to get with you? I don’t care.” Dean turned away, stood up quickly, and addressed Sam.
“What did you have for lunch today?”
Feigned nonchalance drew him back to sitting on the bed opposite Cas, and his eyes poked the corners of their sockets. Sam didn’t bother replying because it was pretty evident that Dean didn’t care.
The low clearing of a throat made Sam feel like maybe he shouldn’t be there.
“Did you— did you get with him? With the dude I mean?”
The thinness of Dean’s lips was a near-facsimile of the stretched out atmosphere, both brothers deeply curious as to the answer.
Castiel shook his head, “No. But I thought you might be… interested.”
The change in Dean was instantaneous.
“What do I care about some gay guy you met?” Abrasive like their tacky motel room soap— the kind that promises ‘intense moisture’ but reduces your hands to flakes within a day and the reason Sam continued to carry around hand cream, despite his brother’s teasing— Dean’s laughter and caustic burst over Cas.
“If nothing happened. There’s no reason for me to care, even if it did. Why would you think I’d be interested?”
Castiel absorbed this, tilted his head slightly, maintained eye contact with Dean for slightly longer than was comfortable, and vanished.
Dean huffed and puffed, but there was nothing left for him to blow down, so he turned back to Sam.
“You really don’t have to get so defensive about this, Dean.”
“I’m NOT getting defensive, I really don’t care what Cas does with anyone, or even if he does do anything with anyone. Does he even do that?”
“This is something we should be able to talk about honestly, Dean.”
“Honestly Sam, I don’t want to talk about it. Conversation over.”
Dean rolled to lie on the bed, facing away from Sam, who was still stood in the doorway like a stunned sheep.
He decided that this time he would do more than tease the edges of the subject. He sat at the end of Dean’s bed, voice carefully neutral and eyes carefully focused on nothing in particular.
“Dean, if you were gay, it wouldn’t matter to me. Or to anyone really, except of course any men you chose to sleep with.”
But it wasn’t, so Sam kept on talking.
“It’s just— I know that you would accept me too, if I were gay. And even though I’m not, I don’t care, as long as you’re happy.”
Sam felt the weight distribution on the bed shift slightly, suggesting that Dean was either listening or preparing to throttle him.
“What should it matter to me what you do in bed with guys?”
The weight returned to where it had been, falling down with the comment, “Gross, Sam, gross.”
“No it’s not! If you were gay I’d be happy for you, really. But I’d stay out of your way so you could get with whoever, whenever.”
“Sam, I’m not gay.” A deep honesty was stretched out on those words, but Sam knew there was something else.
“You can count on me, Dean. Lying to each other never gets us anywhere, remember?”
“I’m not lying, Sam.”
“Dean, please, I’m not going to leave it alone this time.”
Dean stood up, grabbed his jacket and stormed to the door.
On the threshold he paused, ancient tree coils rooted in the tension of his shoulders. A slow (overly dramatic, Sam felt) half-turn placed his face in half shadow, and Sam knew something important was going to be said.
“I’m not lying to you. I’m not gay, Sam.”
The tension fell away, and—dramatic turn completed— Dean, directly facing Sam, confessed.
“I thought you were meant to be the smart one here.” Dean puffed his breath out with the next word.
Sam’s eyebrows twisted for an instant and then cleared.
“That it?” Dean was already going out the door.
“Where are you going?”
“Do you have anything else to say to me?”
“No. Just okay, and thanks.”
Dean continued to edge out the door, ants in his pants all of a sudden.
“But where are you going?”
Dean’s answer was an exasperated surrender.
“I’m going to call Cas. I need to talk to him.”
And Sam was left alone with his thoughts.
They mainly went along the lines of: of course he’s not gay, look at his track history; ah, so that’s how it is; and, dammit I owe so many people money now—why didn’t I think of Cas?