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.
Sam had promised to text Gabriel when he arrived, and some time after midnight he reported that he was with Dean, safe and sound. Gabriel didn't even try to delude himself that he hadn't been waiting up. At this point he was at least admitting to himself that there was no way he would be able to sleep until he'd heard from Sam.
The next morning he impulsively took the day off. Ava sounded genuinely concerned on the phone, but as soon as she was assured that he was fine she joined the choir of cheeky bastards meddling in his life by telling him he'd better not be back until he'd had some fun. He huffed and hung up on her, just to make a point, and then channel surfed with the dogs until he got bored. And when he got bored, he inevitably started wondering how things were going with Sam. Which was bad.
While he was considering what to do with his day to distract himself, Bones tried to squeeze his entire bulk into Chewie's tiny doggy bed. When Gabriel was done laughing, he decided to go shopping for something that fit Bones, plus whatever else he felt like the dogs should have, and then let Sam protest all he wanted later.
He piled the dogs into his boring but dependable car, which he hardly ever used, but he doubted any cab driver would wanna haul two dogs around, plus whatever stuff he ended up taking home. A couple of hours later he had to take three trips on the elevator to bring in the dogs and all the things he'd bought, and he briefly considered if maybe he should find some kids to spoil instead. It was amazing what you could buy in pet stores these days, really. But Bones was ecstatic about his new doggy bed, and Chewie promptly decided that his own was so last Tuesday, and instead snuggled up along with Bones in the bigger one.
Since it was apparently naptime for the dogs, Gabriel packed away all the tennis balls, chew toys, treats, blankets and various pet-related knickknacks before sitting down in his office corner to at least try and get some work done. But going pet-shopping had only kept his mind off Sam for so long, and as quiet descended on his apartment, all his mind could do was run in circles around what was going on in Winchester-land. So when his phone rang he pounced on it, a superhero joke ready on his lips, but it died the moment he heard Sam's voice.
“Gabriel,” Sam said simply, and Gabriel was immediately on high alert, because even that single word had made it clear that Sam's voice was wobbling.
“Sam? What's wrong?”
“Well... looks like I won't owe you money after all. He, uhm...” There was the audible sound of swallowing before Sam could continue. “My dad. He didn't want the money. He said–” Sam's voice cracked and for a long, agonizing moment there was only the slight rustling of movement on the other end.
“Sam?” Gabriel prompted carefully.
“He said he didn't want anything from me! Ever!” The words suddenly rushed forth. “That shop is his life, his and Dean's, but he would rather hold on to his stupid pride and lose everything than accept anything from me!” Sam's voice shook more and more with every word. “And now of course he won't accept any help from Dean either, because he thinks Dean will just have gotten the money from me!” There was a sound like a choked-back sob, and Gabriel couldn't decide if the acute heartache he felt from knowing Sam was in distress was more likely to make him cry too or punch something.
“Please tell me you're on your way home,” Gabriel begged, only realizing after the fact that what he'd really meant was 'home to me'.
“I have to,” Sam confirmed, a very telltale sniff making Gabriel clutch his phone so hard the casing creaked. “Dean picked me up late last night, and I stayed in his room until this morning. Dad was not happy when he realized I was there. He let me stay just long enough to shout at me, and then he kicked me out.” Another half-sob escaped, and Gabriel was relieved to hear the scratchy PA system of a bus station echo in the background. That meant Sam was on his way. “The things he shouted at me... and at Dean...”
“Look, you just get your ass on a bus back here, and take a cab to my place. You can crash here, spend some quiet time with your mutt or watch stupid movies or whatever. Just don't go back to that drafty opium den you call home, okay? Please? For my sanity.”
There was more sniffling, and then a quiet: “Okay,” as if Sam was just too drained to argue. “Bus leaves in twenty.”
“All right. I'll see you in a few hours, kiddo.”
“Anytime. And I mean that,” Gabriel added.
After hanging up, Gabriel stood frozen in his living room for several minutes processing what had just happened. Sam was upset, and for that alone Gabriel felt a serious urge to scream. But Sam also needed comfort, and while it didn't feel like much, Gabriel could at least make sure there was food and such in the house. It would make him feel less useless to go out, anyway.
So he went grocery shopping for the first time in years and bought whatever he could think of that might cheer Sam up. Not that he expected Sam to really be able to cheer up at all, at least not at first. Gabriel knew how deeply family could cut you, so there probably had to be a period of shock. But if there was the slightest chance that snacks and booze could dull the pain just a little, then Gabriel was damn well giving it a shot. All the effort he could put into making his home as comfortable as possible for a distraught friend could still only take so long, and he ended up spending hours pacing and wringing his hands, waiting in agonized impatience.
When Sam finally came through the door hours later, Gabriel was going out of his skin from worry, and he forgot all about how he should really not be so attached when Sam simply dropped his stuff and pulled Gabriel into a desperate hug, not even stopping to take off his coat. Gabriel hugged back fiercely, and let Sam take whatever comfort he needed. It was awkward from the height difference, and Sam would probably end up with a back ache for it, but Gabriel couldn't care less.
“It's okay, kiddo,” he said, gently rubbing Sam's broad back, and in return, Sam hugged him tighter. His breath hitched slightly and he hid his face in Gabriel's shoulder. Every shaky exhale cut Gabriel more painfully than any knife could have, and he held on as tightly as he could, letting Sam lean on him.
“I'm here, Sam. I'm right here,” he murmured. And just like that, Sam fell apart. His legs gave way and he tumbled to his knees, dragging Gabriel down with him. They ended up on the kitchen floor, Sam slumped over, but still clutching desperately at Gabriel, who ended up almost straddling his knees. And Sam's next breath was a sob.
“Shhh, baby, it's okay,” Gabriel hushed, hardly even aware of the endearment he let slip. “It's okay, I'm here. It's okay.” He kept saying it, hoping against hope that it was true. That he could somehow make it okay, while Sam's shoulders shook with every ragged sob.
“He told me to get out of his house and never show my face there again,” Sam said between shuddering breaths. “He said... he said I'm no longer his son.”
“Oh, Sam, I'm so sorry.”
“He said I brought it on myself by leaving them. Thinking that they weren't good enough for my fancy dreams or whatever.” Sam's voice was wobbly and muffled by Gabriel's shoulder, but every word shredded his heart a little more. He felt a very acute urge to go carve old man Winchester a new one or two for treating his own child like that. Especially a child like Sam. Generous, humble, kind, brilliant Sam, who had done absolutely nothing to deserve this kind of hurt. As much as Gabriel had really wanted Sam in his arms, this wasn't the way. Not by a long shot.
He let Sam soak his shoulder with tears until there were no more left, stroking his hair gently, and he stayed on the floor, holding Sam close, refusing to be the one to pull away. There was no telling how long they sat there, but by the time Sam finally shifted slightly, Gabriel's knees were sore and his shoulder was cold under his damp shirt. Almost afraid of what he'd see, Gabriel hesitated before raising his eyes to meet Sam's as he pulled away. Tear-streaked and reddened, Sam's face was a mess, but he still gave Gabriel a weak smile that felt like sunshine after a hailstorm. The smile died away, and Gabriel worried for a moment, but then Sam's gaze darted down to his lips briefly, and then back up to his eyes, as if asking permission.
Gabriel's jaw dropped open, and the air between them immediately felt heavier. His insides were turmoil as Sam edged closer, his lips parted slightly, warm breath washing over Gabriel's lower lip. They hovered there, only the tiniest space between them, and Gabriel was feeling weak in a way that made him very glad he was already on his knees. But just as it felt like it was inevitable for him to close the gap and let himself drown, one single fresh tear trickled down Sam's cheek. And in that instant it slammed into Gabriel what was at stake here. If he took this step, then there would be nothing but more heartache on the horizon for Sam. And there was no way in hell Gabriel would be the cause of that.
Panicked, he turned his head away, took a few deep breaths, and then slowly pulled out of Sam's arms, not daring to look at his face and see the hurt there. There was an awkward moment where they both just sat on the floor, pointedly not looking at each other. But then there was a low whining sound, and Bones cautiously came closer, clearly uneasy and apparently not daring to approach fully until Sam let him.
“It's okay, buddy, come here,” Sam beckoned, and Bones padded to his side, ears back and tail lowered. “I'm fine, don't worry about it.” Bones sniffed his ear and licked his chin, as if to make sure he was still the same, before finally wagging his tail slightly and dropping his heavy head into Sam's lap. Chewie was watching the whole thing from the huge doggy bed, his ears flicking towards them. When Gabriel snapped his fingers, he shot off the cushion and into Gabriel's arms, squirming wildly, unable to sit still now that the tension had finally broken.
Desperate to lighten the mood, Gabriel got to his feet with a groan, his knees popping loudly, and announced: “Right. Snack time!” He then got out some of the bags and boxes of dog treats, and amused himself with letting Chewie pick which one to open first. Bones came to join them when the first bag was opened, but not before giving Sam's hand one last lick. Deliberately avoiding looking at Sam, Gabriel fed the dogs way too many treats, while Sam slowly picked himself up off the floor and finally got his coat and boots off.
“You mind if I take a shower?” he asked Gabriel's back, his voice low and coarse from crying.
“Sure, go ahead.”
The instant the bathroom door closed behind Sam, Gabriel let himself keel over and banged his head onto his kitchen counter. “Damn, damn, damn,” he chanted, giving himself a nice sore spot on his forehead before he finally felt he'd chastised himself enough for having no brains whatsoever. He should know better. He should have realized from his past that nobody's happiness should ever be in his hands, not like this. He should really have learned this particular lesson by now.
Once he'd given himself a decent headache to go along with his massive load of guilt for causing even more hurt while Sam had plenty on his shoulders, Gabriel decided to treat it like he did most of his emotional issues. He ignored it and ordered some really nice food for them. Because he might have groceries, but he could hardly boil an egg.
Sam emerged from the bathroom looking cleaner but still crushed. Gabriel sent him a cautious smile, unwilling to talk about what just happened, but anxious to show that there were no hard feelings. He got a tiny twitch of a smile in return, and while it was next to nothing, it was more than he'd hoped for.
Going silently along with whatever Gabriel offered, Sam sat down on one end of the couch, the dogs both snuggling up to him, and let Gabriel find a CSI rerun for them to watch until the food arrived. They ate in silence that was sometimes comfortable but mostly tense. Sam hardly spoke at all until much later when Gabriel told him to go sleep in the bed. He tried to argue that he should not be kicking Gabriel out of his own bed, but Gabriel took gross advantage of Sam's exhaustion, and pretty much pushed him into the bedroom. Under the circumstances he also chose to overlook how the dogs joined Sam on the bed, breaking one of the few no-dogs-allowed-here rules he had, and was happy to see Sam hug both furry bodies close and drift off almost instantly.
Checking off “Sam getting some rest” from his mental check list, Gabriel went on to the next point on his plan for solving this situation. Regardless of his complicated feelings towards Sam, he was still in crisis mode. Had been so since the moment Sam had told him of his dad's money troubles. He couldn't not try and fix it. He just couldn't. He'd always been too eager to try and solve other people's problems, even when they didn't want him to. He just couldn't help it. No matter how many times he'd gotten in serious trouble over it, he'd never been able to rid himself of the urge to fix something when he could. And this? This he could fix.
He made a few calls and packed a bag before stretching out on the couch to grab a few hours sleep. His phone alarm woke him up while the sky was still dark outside, and even the dogs thought it was too early to get up. He wrote a short note to Sam, claiming there was an emergency at work, asking him to look after the dogs for the day and to feel free to raid his fridge. Then he was out the door, ready to save the day.
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