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Sam slips into the hotel room silently, lock expertly picked and door shut behind him without a sound.  He isn’t very inconspicuous, still in his bulletproof suit with a large bow and quiver strapped to his back, but the night had covered his entrance and the doorman looked almost unimpressed, like he had seen better heroes in his time.  In any case, Sam is aware that he isn’t being careful, that he probably should have scaled the building and swung in through the window or something equally dramatic, but the job is already done, all possible attackers either dead or behind bars, and he’s can’t help himself; he’s been eager to get to this moment since they arrived.

His eyes are immediately drawn the balcony doors, carelessly thrown open, the billowy white curtains floating away from the entrance in the slight breeze.  There’s a figure on the balcony, small and overtaken by the bright city lights of the city, glittering beautifully just outside the walls.  The palace is a little too far away to be seen clearly, but the room has a clear view of the Parliament building, an enormous display of wealth and power in its own right.  The magnificent building sits on the river, lit up and beaming, throwing silver and gold light across the water like a crystal prism.  The sky around it seems to glow, softening the harsh architecture of the spiky towers and lending its beauty to Sam’s unknowing host, crowning the man’s blonde hair with a halo of artificial light.

Sam wouldn’t believe that such a lovely city could have such a seedy, dangerous underbelly if he hadn’t just spent the last three hours shooting his way through it.  He has stitches in his arm to prove it.  He’d underestimated his opponents – with good reason, as most of them made for easy targets, nothing but a bunch of poorly trained guards to a band of overly cocky terrorists – but Sam got caught off guard, distracted by his partner taking a fist to the cheek.  It’s the reason Bobby doesn’t like it when they work together.  While, individually, they both have the ability to take on and take down a group of ten men, they tend to throw each other off when they get close enough to start guarding one another.  But H.U.N.T.E.R.S. doesn’t get calls from the Hungarian government very often and Sam and his partner were the best agents for the job.  Bobby sent them off with a warning to “keep their shit professional.”

Now that the criminals have been apprehended, Sam is fairly certain that they are no longer under such orders.  Without a word, Sam joins the figure on the balcony, slipping his arms around the smaller man’s middle and pulling his warm, solid, very much alive form against his own.  Sam knows his partner as a quick and deadly killer, easily startled with the reflexes of a cat, but the man in his arms doesn’t even flinch. Instead, Sam hears a quiet, content sigh and feels him lean back against Sam’s chest.

“Sammy,” Gabriel greets him, smile audible in his voice.

“I could have been an axe murderer,” Sam points out, the teasing words contrasting with the way his hand slides over the flat plane of Gabriel’s chest, unsure if he’s caressing the shorter assassin or just reminding himself that Gabriel’s still alive and whole.

“You think I can’t recognize your giant feet by now?” Gabriel quips.

Sam snorts before burying his nose in Gabriel’s hair and inhaling sweetness and cheap, hotel shampoo.  “Not all of us can have the build of a pixie.”

“I could kill you ten different ways right now,” Gabriel warns, twisting around in Sam’s embrace and leaning back against the balcony to stare up at him, his eyes sparkling with mirth and that hint of danger that he never seemed to lose, even two years after he abandoned the Archangels in favor of playing for the good guys.

“Wouldn’t even leave a mark,” Gabriel adds with a smirk.

“You’d be dead before you hit the ground,” Sam replies.

Gabriel grins and rises up on his toes, catching Sam’s lips in a kiss that is a little too desperate to match their playful banter, and Sam’s glad to know that he isn’t the only one affected by the mission, by the possibility that they could have died within an arm’s reach of each other.  When they’re apart and fighting individual battles, it seems easier.  It’s less real and there are other things to focus on.  Or perhaps there is just one fewer thing to focus on.

“How’s your arm?” Gabriel asks when they pull away, hand already grabbing at Sam’s wrist to twist his limb around.

“It needed stitches, but I’ve definitely had worse,” Sam says.

“You did a shit job,” Gabriel tells him, sounding annoyed.

“I was sort of distracted by the needle in my skin.”

“What’d you clean it with?  Rum?” Gabriel continues, thumb grazing the surrounding skin.

“PBR,” Sam admits.

“Oh, Sam,” Gabriel sighs, voice disapproving, but also tender in a way Sam rarely hears.

Encouraged by Gabriel’s minimal but meaningful display of affection, Sam brings a hand up to cup Gabriel’s cheek, thumb brushing cautiously over his skin.  “I thought you’d have a black eye,” Sam tells him.  “I could hear that punch you took.”

“He caught me just under my cheekbone,” Gabriel says, rolling his eyes at his own incompetence.  “It’ll be an ugly bruise, don’t you worry.”

Sam nods, although he doesn’t like the thought.

“I need a shower,” he finally says, pulling Gabriel back into the room and closing the doors and the curtains, closing them off from the lights and sounds of the city below them, the city they saved just earlier today.  He reaches into his bag and produces a bottle of red wine that he hands to Gabriel, who looks down at the label like he’s impressed.  Sam feels a pleased warmth fill his chest at the sight of Gabriel’s approval, but turns away to hide his smile.  “Open that and I’ll be out in a second.”

He finishes his shower quickly and emerges from the bathroom in nothing but a towel, partially because he has nothing else to wear and partially because he enjoys watching Gabriel’s stare linger on him, heated and heavy and full of promises for the rest of the night.  Two glasses of wine sit on the bedside table, but Gabriel pulls him straight into the bed and the wine gets a significantly longer amount of time to breathe.  It’s too close to the white sheets for Sam’s comfort, but Gabriel rented the room under a fake name, so the sheets aren’t their financial responsibility.  And it’s hard to care about anything else when he has Gabriel underneath him, head thrown back and Sam’s name on his lips.

Sam doesn’t really blame Bobby for separating them.

Gabriel makes happy noises when he drinks his wine later, and Sam feels that pleased feeling come over him again, delighted that he has the ability to pick out a decent red wine, that his taste is something that can impress even Gabriel, who spent most of his life drinking the expensive alcohol supplied by his ring of criminal masterminds.  Sam had texted Castiel in the wine store, of course, to verify that he wasn’t totally off the mark, but he chose it off the shelf himself and paid for it with his most recent kickback from a job.  He feels happy, almost to the point of giddy.  So later in the night, when he catches sight of Gabriel’s serious stare, the smaller man’s lips turned down in a confused frown, it throws him off, especially since Gabriel, up until this point, had seemed just as happy.

“What?” Sam asks, nudging his shoulder with a smile, but Gabriel’s expression stays thoughtful and intense.

“If you had expensive wine,” Gabriel eventually asks.  “Why did clean your stitches with beer?”

It’s a strange question coming from Gabriel, who prefers to do everything in his power to avoid Sam’s more romantic impulses, skirting around any meaningful words and shying away from touches that seem to linger too long and too lightly.  To be set up for a declaration of affection like this is incredibly bizarre, and Sam finds himself having everything to say and nothing to say at the same time.

“I forgot I had it.”

Gabriel’s specialty is interrogation, ripping people to shreds and baring their secrets without even revealing the fact that he’s doing it, but Sam’s voice sounds too casual even to his own ears.  But Sam isn’t completely incompetent when it comes to reading people, and he thinks Gabriel’s small, secretive smile says just as much.

“Stupid move,” Gabriel responds simply.  “Although, you are a Winchester, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.”

They spend the rest of the night in bed, eventually throwing the sheets on the floor, their glasses emptying and refilling throughout the night.  Tomorrow morning, Bobby will call and tell them to get their asses back to headquarters, where he will most likely greet them with one folder in each hand to send them to different parts of the world.  Tonight, they’re free to be more than just partners, more than just assassins and spies.  Sam didn’t know what it was like to feel truly human before Gabriel.  He’s fought entire armies, taken down a dozen gun-wielding men with nothing but his bow, and even leapt out of a plane to avoid being blown up, but now, warm with wine and covered in clean sheets and Gabriel’s scent, Sam thinks he’s never felt more alive.

“Sucks that we’ll always have to remember Budapest as the city that almost blew up,” Gabriel sighs, leaning back against Sam’s chest and elegantly swirling his wine around in his glass.  “Would have made a nice vacation.”

Sam hums his agreement, but, in all honesty, he thinks he’ll probably always associate Budapest with this, remembering nothing besides a soft bed, a glass of wine, and Gabriel in his arms, guard down and hand tracing little patterns over the back of Sam’s hand.

When his phone rings the next morning, he lets it go to voicemail just once.