Pairings: Sam/Gabriel (and kinda sorta Castiel/Balthazar).
Rating: R (For language mostly. Lots of F-bombs.)
Word count: 30.234
Spoilers: None really, although it helps if you know who Gabriel and Balthazar are.
Warnings: Lots and lots of swearing. Age difference.
Feedback: Yes please.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything even remotely related to Supernatural. (But if anyone wanted to give me Gabriel for Christmas I sure wouldn't complain.)
Beta: mithrel was a champion for taking on this monster and teaching me a few new tricks along the way. THANK YOU!
Notes: Human AU.
Summary: The story of how Sam got the sweetest job in history and how Gabriel learned how to run away. In which there are cute dogs, texting, boners and friends with benefits. There's trouble in Winchester-land, Balthazar butts in a lot, and Gabriel's brothers are dicks, except for the one you least expect.
A couple of weeks later an early autumn storm swept through the city, causing a decorative structure on top of the Milton offices to collapse. It destroyed enough of the roof that the building had to be evacuated until it could be determined whether it was safe to be in the top offices or not. So for the first time in a couple of years at least, Gabriel headed home in the early afternoon, rather than around dinner time. Sam had already walked Chewie once that day, as he had proved to Gabriel with a couple of wind-swept pictures of Bones looking like he was being blasted with an industrial strength hair dryer, and Chewie on Sam's arm, miserable and damp from the drizzling rain
So Gabriel was surprised when he was greeted by not one but two dogs as he came through the door, and from the living room he heard a muttered curse, followed by the sound of frenzied activity. Curious, he followed the sounds, not stopping to take off his coat or shoes, Chewie and Bones bouncing around his legs.
By the couch, Sam was hastily shoving papers and books into his backpack, swearing steadily under his breath. “Shit, shit, shit, shit...”
Gabriel couldn't help but grin and leaned against the doorjamb, the very picture of nonchalance. “Going somewhere?”
Sam froze and slowly turned to face Gabriel, a look of utter mortification on his face. “Gabriel. Hi. Uhm. I can explain.”
“I'm sure you can. Do you mind if I take my coat off first?”
Sam immediately started packing things again. “Yeah, I mean, no, of course not, I'll just-”
“Sam,” Gabriel cut him off. “Sit down. You're making me edgy. So park it. Breathe. I'll be back in a sec.”
Sam flopped back onto the couch, clutching his half-zipped backpack and his laptop charger, and looked for all the world like an abandoned puppy. Gabriel tried to be cool and collected about it, but it seemed that every time he was in the same room with Sam, his entire body decided it was suddenly a teenager again, all jittery hormones and pulp romance. So it was barely thirty seconds before he was back in the living room, forcing himself to put on a casual air, since Sam looked thoroughly spooked.
“So...” he said airily, dropping down into his armchair. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?” He meant it to sound vaguely menacing, but in reality it probably sounded pretty much like the truth it was. It really was a pleasure to come home to someone, even someone unexpected. Especially when that someone was Sam.
“I, uhm...” Sam started, eyes firmly fixed on the floor as he explained. “I have a paper due on Monday. And one of my roommates – Andy – he's got some friends over from some foreign country... Poland or something, I dunno. But they're really loud so I just couldn't concentrate there. I didn't wanna leave Bones there either, because Andy got every single one of his hookahs out and I didn't wanna expose Bones to that. The study hall doesn't allow dogs, and I needed to come here anyway, so I thought...” he swallowed hard and tried to meet Gabriel's eyes, only to give up and look down again.
“I was just gonna stay a couple of hours and get started on my paper before heading out. I guess I lost track of time or something,” he muttered.
“Nah, you didn't. The storm broke something above my office. Had to evacuate the entire floor. It's not even three PM.”
“Oh. Well... uhm. Anyway, I'm really, really sorry, and I'm a total shithead for abusing your trust, I know, and I'll get out of here right now–”
Sam had been halfway to his feet again, but dropped back down at the command. Gabriel had to fight really hard not to laugh when Bones planted his butt on the carpet simultaneously.
“Look, I get why you think you're in trouble, but I swear you're not. Hell if I knew you needed a place to study, I would have offered. I'm all for the education of young minds, you see.” He winked at Sam and was relieved to see him roll his eyes slightly.
“Yeah well, I'm sure you're not really in favor of said young minds squatting on your couch.”
“Well... I don't mind much when the young mind in question is a friend.”
Sam gave him an odd look. “Really?”
“Really really. Anytime you need somewhere to study or just a quiet place to sit for a while, you're welcome here. You have a key. Just let yourself in, whenever.”
Still clutching his things to his chest awkwardly, Sam didn't speak. For a long moment he just looked at Gabriel, and the air got suddenly heavy in the room. Gabriel jumped up to break the tension.
“Anyway, you go ahead and set up camp again. I got some work to do since my office is taped off, so I won't be good company for a few hours. But if you're still around when I'm done, you're welcome to... you know, hang out. We could watch a movie, have some junk food delivered, whatever you feel like.”
Gabriel cursed himself when he realized that he had been standing awkwardly by his TV the entire time, fiddling with one of his silly perpetual motion machines, as if asking Sam to stick around was in the same league as asking out his prom date.
In fact, asking out his prom date had been easier. But then again, he thought belatedly, back then all he'd risked was a brief moment of disappointment. Here he could at worst be facing a sexual harassment law suit. But from Sam's reaction you'd have thought he really was being asked to the prom. His smile could have lit up a small county.
“Seriously? Yeah, I'd love that!”
There was another long moment of eye contact, this time accompanied by smiles which Gabriel was pretty sure could be labeled as dopey, at least on his side. God, he was so very screwed.
“I'll just...” he eventually said, reluctantly moving to his work space, which was pretty much a small office set up in the corner of his spacious living room.
“Yeah,” Sam nodded, and started unpacking his things again, setting up his battered laptop on the coffee table and smoothing out his rumpled papers. Bones jumped up on the couch, making Sam grimace and send Gabriel a nervous look. Gabriel just rolled his eyes and settled in for work. And if he sat down slightly at an angle to his desk so he could watch Sam out of the corner of his eye, then nobody commented on it. Chewie spent a moment looking from Sam to Gabriel and back again, until Gabriel sighed.
“Well, go on then.”
Chewie took a gleeful trip around Gabriel's chair before zooming back to the couch and snuggling up between Sam's side and Bones' butt. Sam smiled and patted the small terrier gently with his large hand before going back to his paper. Gabriel followed his example and booted up his own considerably more expensive laptop, but if how his eyes were glued to Sam was any indication, working wasn't in his horoscope today.
* * *
As expected, a couple of hours later Gabriel had gotten ridiculously little done, and he could not bring himself to care. Not when Sam was sitting right there on Gabriel's couch, tiny frown on his face from concentrating, sleeping dogs plastered against him. When he would get stuck on his paper, his hand would always reach out and find a furry body to stroke, and Gabriel followed the gentle motions with his eyes, absurdly wishing he was a dog for several insane moments.
Finally he decided that work was utterly unimportant when he could be basking in Sam's intoxicating presence, so he made a good show of stretching and at least giving the appearance of having done actual work.
“Well Sammy-boy, I don't know about you, but I'm starving. How do you feel about Indian food?”
Sam looked up from the screen and sent Gabriel another butterfly-inducing smile. “If it's food, odds are I like it.” Then he also stretched, and Gabriel had to turn away really fast when Sam's shirt rode up and revealed just a sliver of his belly, enough to give Gabriel an all too clear view of the narrow trail of hair below Sam's navel. Sweet mercy. Gabriel was a breath away from having a very sudden and awkward erection, so he hurriedly busied himself with finding his phone and calling one of his regular take-out places.
“Val! Just the man I was hoping to talk to,” Gabriel greeted when the phone was picked up by the owner. Val wasn't actually Indian by any stretch of the imagination, but he did make killer curries.
“Mr. Milton! It's been almost a week. You cheating on me with that new sushi place?”
“I would never!” Gabriel cried dramatically, making Val chuckle.
“All right then. So, since you wanted to talk to me, something special you want?”
Gabriel cast a glance at Sam who was following the exchange with a smirk. “Yeah, I was thinking my movie night special, two servings. Only make one of them a double. And maybe throw in one of your creative desserts too.”
“Ahh, one of those nights, eh?” Val leered.
Cursing himself for having ordered one too many date night menus from Val, Gabriel rolled his eyes. “No! Well... not... it's...”
Val was apparently much more observant than Gabriel gave him credit for. Either that, or Gabriel's junk-food consumption had finally reached a level that was beyond fixing. “I see. You want to impress, but you're cautious. I get it.”
“Am I being psychoanalyzed by my junk food provider?”
“Yes. It's an exclusive service we only offer to those select few who have us on speed dial.”
Gabriel sighed and looked over at Sam again. Since he was briefly busy packing his backpack –a little more sedately this time– Gabriel took the opportunity to murmur into the phone: “Just... something nice, okay?”
“Don't you worry Mr. Milton, I'll make sure it's special without being obvious.”
“You're a saint, Val. Don't let anyone tell you different.”
Val huffed into the phone and hung up on him, evidently already elbows deep in whatever delicious thing he was putting together. That man was a cooking god who should have his own five star restaurant, rather than a crammed junk-food place. But he liked things the way they were, apparently, which was more than Gabriel could say for himself. He spun with a flourish, hitching on a broad grin.
“Dinner will arrive shortly. Why don't you pick a movie, and I'll find us something to drink.”
Gabriel dug out two semi-expensive beers from his fridge, which might as well be re-labeled his drinks-cooler, because it had probably been years since there had been actual food in it, except for the recently consumed casserole. He felt an acute, but not entirely surprising, pang of regret that his life wasn't one where he could fill up his ridiculously high-tech appliance with all the best produce, and actually have time to make something with it. But he managed to shake off the thought and headed back to the living room. He found Sam already holding a DVD, and damn, if the smile he was sporting just then could be turned in Gabriel's direction, then Gabriel would gladly sit through the most horrible movie ever made. Not that such a thing would ever exist in his movie collection. Because he had taste.
“Return of the Jedi? Why start with the end?”
“Because...” Sam hesitated, and to the distress of Gabriel's pulse, even bit his lip innocently. “Well, when I was kid, we spent a couple of years living on the road, going from motel to motel, never settling down. I was about five years old, maybe. Anyway, it was my brother's birthday, and I heard him saying that he liked the Star Wars movies, so I found Return of the Jedi on betamax totally randomly in a thrift store and bought it for him.”
Gabriel could totally envision tiny, well-meaning Sammy wanting to get something awesome for his brother's birthday, and smiled. He almost managed to forget that it wasn't nearly long enough ago that Sam was five. But Sam's general level of adorable was already hard for Gabriel to resist, so the added mental image of said adorableness at kid's level was heart-clenching. He quickly offered Sam one of the beers to cover up how he was getting emotional over a cute little story. Sam accepted the beer, but still held on to the DVD.
“But there was a problem,” he continued. “Since I was only five, I never considered that to watch it, you'd need a betamax player, which we did not have, since we were practically living in the car.” Sam grimaced briefly, but then his soft smile was right back. “Dean– that's my brother's name... you should have seen his performance when I gave it to him, wrapped up in the comics page of a newspaper. You'd think I'd given him the friggin' Hope Diamond or something, he was so ecstatic.”
“Aw, that's nice,” Gabriel said honestly.
“Oh, but it gets better. He kept it in his backpack for ages, and one day he happened find a betamax machine in a dumpster. Somehow he got that old piece of crap working, hooked it up to the motel TV and then we sat down and watched it over and over again that whole night while our dad was out working. I think over time it became something like a challenge to him to track down betamax players he could either borrow or fix up, so we could watch that glitchy second-hand video tape as many times as possible. Just to make me happy.”
Gabriel decided it was no wonder Sam had turned out so decent with such a devoted role model to look up to.
“Dean sounds like a really awesome brother.”
“He is. The best.”
Sam was still holding the DVD close to his chest, almost hugging it, as he read the back info. Granted, there might be a few million more features on there than there had ever been on the tape, but Gabriel was pretty sure that what Sam was seeing had nothing to do with the movie.
“You miss him.” It wasn't a question.
Nodding shortly, Sam avoided his eyes and started putting the DVD back on the shelf. “Sorry. I didn't mean to unload on you like that. I just got sentimental I guess.”
“Hey, no, don't do that!” Gabriel protested. “I'd love to watch it! Skywalker is a total pussy in the first ones anyhow.”
“No he's not, he's just... young.”
Gabriel nudged Sam's side and spoke out of the corner of his mouth in an exaggerated whisper. “Hey lawyer-boy, here's a hint! Don't argue when I'm trying to make your case for you!”
Sam snickered and held up his hands in surrender, letting Gabriel pluck the movie off the shelf again and put it on. As they settled down on the couch, the dogs snoozing between them, Gabriel decided that while Sam's beautiful smile hadn't been for him, he would still happily sit through crap movies for just being allowed to sit and watch it break out on Sam's face at random times during the night.
Not that Gabriel thought the movie was crap at all, as became embarrassingly evident when Sam somehow weasled out of him that he owned quite a few pieces of merchandise. But, as it turned out, he had no reason to feel awkward compared to how wildly Sam started geeking out over the lightsaber replica. They were in the middle of an enthusiastic, yet gentle, mock duel with Sam wielding the lightsaber in elegant arcs, and Gabriel doing his best Han Solo impression, complete with gun belt and blaster pistol, when the food arrived. Sam seemed a little flushed from being caught in the middle of goofing around, but the pimply kid handling the delivery was utterly unimpressed.
“Val said to put the dessert in the fridge until you eat it and that you owe him baseball tickets,” he said flatly.
“Cheeky bastard,” Gabriel grinned, even as he forked over a generous tip. “This dessert of his better be awesome, then.” He glanced at Sam, still absorbed in the detail of the lightsaber, apparently not listening in.
“It always is,” the kid said in parting, making it sound like acknowledged truth, rather than a promise. Like he was saying water was wet or that the Earth was round.
Gabriel shook his head as he closed the door behind the kid, and dutifully put the dessert in the fridge.
The food was great, the movie was given as much attention as one can when knowing it by heart, and over the next few hours, Gabriel laughed more than he had in months. Possibly years. And when the time came for dessert, Gabriel decided then and there that nothing short of a season pass would do for Val. Because he'd somehow made it look like a simple, unassuming fruit concoction, but the sounds Sam made while eating it... Gabriel was pretty sure it was some form of torture. But that didn't stop him from firmly filing them away in his spank bank. If that made him a pervert, then so be it.
They finished the movie and then spent a few more hours happily going through the special features and sharing their mutual loathing of the prequels. When Sam announced with a sad face that he really had to go, Gabriel offered to walk him home, under the pretext of needing to walk Chewie anyway. If it hadn't already felt distressingly like a date, this would have done the trick, even if there was no goodnight kiss outside the truly crappy apartment building where Sam lived. But even so, Gabriel practically floated home, elated and regretful in equal measure. If only Sam hadn't been so goddamn young, Gabriel would totally have made a move that night. He wasn't even sure if Sam was into guys at all, but Gabriel would gladly have given him the benefit of the doubt and just jumped him anyway.
Sam had certainly given enough encouragement, which in this case ended up feeling more like torment. He'd been laughing, smiling and casually touching Gabriel for no apparent reason the whole night. Just a hand on his shoulder or a nudge of his elbow. It felt intimate and wonderful, and had things been different... but they weren't.
By the time he got home he was significantly more subdued, but he still smiled when he entered his living room to find the mess they'd left behind. The beer bottles and food containers, the pile of Star Wars stuff he'd hauled out from his closet and all the other small things that just said: “someone had fun here.” He told himself firmly that the reason he didn't clean up before bed was because he was lazy, not because he liked to look around and see the evidence of Sam everywhere.
Even Chewie didn't buy a lie that obvious.
* * *
The chirp of his phone yanked Gabriel out of his work funk. Michael and Luke were being especially dickish to each other that day, and Gabriel had been running himself ragged all morning doing damage control from their conflicting orders to the lower ranks.
[You said whenever I needed peace to study, right?]
Sam's name on the screen had never seemed more welcome, and Gabriel cradled the phone close, as if it were his most precious possession.
[Yup. Absolutely anytime.]
[Thanks. There's a party at my place. Nobody asked me first.]
Gabriel smirked, even as he felt for Sam. [Welcome to communal living.]
[If I kill them all, will you help me hide the bodies?]
[That's what friends are for. ;) ]
[You're the best. :) ]
And just like that, Gabriel's entire day was made.
“What are you grinning about?” his secretary asked, wide-eyed, when he bounced past her moments later, cheerfully off to prevent yet another management-induced disaster.
“Isn't it just a fantastic day, sweet Ava?”
Ava glanced out of the window at the pouring rain. “Can't say I agree. Are you okay?”
This made Gabriel pause. “Uhm... yeah. Any reason I shouldn't be?”
Looking sheepish, Ava avoided his eyes. “No, of course not, it's just... I don't think I've ever seen you happy like this since I started working here. Not once.”
“Well, it's a stressful job,” Gabriel bristled.
“That's my point,” Ava said sincerely. “You're one of the bigwigs here, you could set your own hours if you wanted. There's no reason for you to be stressed out and unhappy.”
Gabriel opened his mouth to argue, but froze stupidly when he realized he didn't have a counter-argument. Instead he collapsed back against the wall next to Ava's desk. “Ugh, seriously, is everyone psychoanalyzing me these days?”
“I suppose we have to, since you don't seem to notice your own misery.” In the next breath Ava realized what she'd said, and added: “please don't fire me.”
And suddenly, Gabriel couldn't help laughing. A full, loud belly-laugh, which made his cheeks hurt. “Oh god, how is this my life?!” he howled, wiping tears off his face.
“Are you asking me, yourself, or just the universe in general?”
Gabriel's laughter trailed off with a few final snickers. “Oh... heh. Fuck, I dunno.”
Ava sent him a crooked smile. “If you wanna add psychotherapist to my job description, then I'm gonna need a raise.”
“Don't you get cute with me, missy,” Gabriel admonished, wagging a stern finger in her face.
“Just sayin',” she shrugged before answering the phone. Gabriel mock-glared at her before he left with a smile, because no matter how many inconvenient truths he was being kicked in the nuts with, the fact of the matter still stood.
You're the best.
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