This one is Sam POV, I have a follow-up/companion piece in the works that takes place right after this one. ^_^ Keep an eye out for it!
It’s Sam’s turn to do laundry.
He’s in the Laundromat, giving a prefunctory check to the pockets of each pair of jeans and every shirt. He doesn’t expect to find anything; they’re usually pretty careful about taking things out of their pockets before tossing the dirty clothes in the duffle that serves as their hamper. Even Cas, since he had taken to wearing more than just his suit, had picked up the habit.
Sam’s fingers brush something in the pocket of Dean’s favorite jeans, last worn on a particularly brutal hunt that all of them had been happy to finish. He pauses for a moment, then digs it out.
It’s a sheet of paper, heavily creased and fragile and muddy. Curious, thinking it might be a grocery list or something similar and wanting to check before tossing it, Sam opens it up.
There is a list, but not for groceries. Not even ‘groceries’ for hex bags or spells.
There wasn’t much written on it, just little reminders; references Sam was sure only two people on Earth would understand; self-deprecating questions that had been violently crossed out; other, serious questions; and at the very bottom, in small, somewhat shaky but familiar handwriting, two goals that boiled down to ‘kiss him’ and ‘tell him’. They had been underlined in blue ink, obviously after the original message had been written.
Even without the constant references to ties and angelhood, it wouldn’t have taken a genius to figure out the name Dean carefully hadn’t written down.
Sam shut his eyes, recalling the day three weeks ago when Cas had literally fallen back into their lives. He’d been in bad shape, unconscious and bloody, but he’d been alive.
If Sam had had any doubts before about Dean’s feelings for Cas, they would have vanished at the way Dean had reacted. Dean had insisted on carrying Cas into the motel they’d been staying at and had scarcely left his side but for food and sleep. Sam had wisely kept his mouth shut at the time; he knew it wasn’t something to joke about, that spot in Dean’s armor too weak to bear even gentle mockery and yet too precious to damage.
Cas had woken up three days later, and since then Sam couldn’t count the number of times Dean had opened his mouth to speak only to shut it again, wordless. Those moments had become fewer and further between as time dragged on and they had trickled to a stop last week. Was this what Dean had been trying to say?
Sam bit his lower lip and wished he hadn’t looked. This wasn’t meant for his eyes.
He carefully refolded it along the creases and put it in his shirt pocket for safekeeping.
He tossed the pants into the washer and continued on, the slim sheet of paper heavy in his shirt pocket.
It isn’t ten minutes before he comes across the pants that Cas was wearing in that same hunt and finds another sheet of paper crumpled up in the pocket. The moment his fingers touch it, Sam knows.
Even so, after he absently tosses the jeans into the washing machine, he unfolds the sheet of paper to read what Cas had written down.
It’s so similar and yet so different from Dean’s list, practically a mirror image, and it ends with repeated reminders, all in different-colored inks, ‘don’t tell him, don’t tell him, don’t tell him’.
'It's all right that he hates you as long as you can still keep him safe'*
Sam feels his heart break a little for the angel he’d come to call a friend. Hell, Cas was more than that, he was family.
Sam folds the list back up, feeling twice as guilty for reading it as he had for reading Dean’s note. He slips it into his pants pocket, not wanting to get the two confused, and continues sorting the laundry even though his mind is very far from the task at hand.
He can’t stop thinking about it.
All of the tension between Dean and Cas; the constant, longing gazes returned seconds too late to lock; and Dean and Cas, one unable to say anything to break the status quo and the other refusing to speak. Cas, so desperate for any touch, for Dean to smile at him, trying to be content with being Dean’s protector forever. Dean, too emotionally stunted to bring himself to speak.
Sam knows that they could make each other happy. He’s seen it. He sees it in the soft smile Dean gives Cas when he thinks no one is watching, in the almost reverent, longing gleam that creeps into Castiel’s gaze when he isn’t careful. He hears it in the fear in Dean’s voice when Cas is threatened by whatever monster they’re hunting that week, in how fierce Cas becomes whenever Dean is hurt. Sam hears it in the nights he wakes up to go to the bathroom and wingbeats sound just before he opens his eyes.
There’s a lot of love there and Sam is sure that the only two people who don’t see it are Dean and Cas themselves.
The pair of them could do this dance forever, constantly skirting around the issue and constantly denying themselves until one of two things happen; either one of them gets galvanized to act or they split up for good, unable to take the pain at close range any longer. Or, worse, the galvanizing action is the death of one or both of them and it’s too late.
Sam doesn’t even want to think about Dean suffering through Cas’s death (again) or how Cas (or himself) would handle Dean dying (again). Death might be cheap, but there were only so many times one could expect to be brought back.
Any death could be their last and Sam doesn’t want to know the fallout of Dean or Cas dying and not coming back
All they need is a little push.
Sam thinks he can supply one. The lists feel lighter now, almost warm with anticipation, and Sam shuts the washer’s lid.
When Dean comes in fifteen minutes later, irritated and tense, and demands to know if Sam found any paper in his jeans from the hunt two days prior, Sam hands over Castiel’s list without a second thought.
When they see Cas for dinner that night, Sam waits until Dean leaves to visit the bathroom before taking Dean’s list from his shirt and handing it to Cas.
And then, he waits.
* = directly quoted from the lists, not my line
The Companion Piece will be about what happens after Dean and Cas read said lists. ^_^ Coming soon!
ETA: Companion/follow-up now written and available HERE.