Actions

Work Header

Trials and Tribulations

Chapter Text

Gabriel took a deep breath of the dusty, hot air that was filtering into the small house through the window. He was practically bouncing on his toes; it was his mating day (assuming his heat cooperated, but he was pretty sure it would judging by how much he ate yesterday).

He and Sam had planned this out; Raphael had told them that the strongest mating bond was a result of the Alpha chasing an Omega in heat and then claiming them. Gabriel had gotten over a lot of his hang-ups, but he didn’t dare run down the streets of Los Angeles where any Alpha could catch him. No, he and Sam had switched buildings with Dean and Cas. Dean, Cas, and little Mary were staying in Sam and Gabriel’s apartment for the week, while he and Sam were in Dean and Cas’ house. It was out in a five-house ‘town,’ so it was perfect. They’d even chosen the route ahead of time--up the nearby hill, so that Sam would be able to keep an eye on Gabriel the whole way, even though he was giving him a head start.

Gabriel didn’t feel like eating, but he drank some orange juice they had in the refrigerator. He wished, briefly, that he’d been able to make the place smell more like Sam and him--it reeked of Dean and Cas’ scents--but he’d had to make do with the nest itself. Dean and Cas’ bed was piled so high with blankets and pillows from Sam and Gabriel’s apartment that even Sam had had trouble last night scrambling up onto it. They were going to have a lot of laundry to do when they were done, but it would be worth it.

Sam had lived in the house before he moved out almost a year ago, but his scent had been largely erased by the new family member. Their niece, Mary, had been born during Sam’s first year at law school and Gabriel’s last year as an undergraduate. He’d graduated with his BBA a few weeks ago, although he was waiting to start his bakery until he and Sam were mated. They had decided that Sam would work for him over the summer before going back to law school, first renovating the building and then running a cash register (Sam’s talents didn’t really include baking).

At the moment, Sam was still in bed. It was exceedingly rare for Gabriel to be up earlier than him, but his heat was starting and the bed had felt too hot. Besides, he was ansty, and had wanted to be ready to run when his heat finally hit. So, he was dressed--albeit in old shorts and a T-shirt--and had his running shoes on as he peered out of the window at the trail he’d be running up. Given the number of rattlesnakes in the area and the fact that a good deal of the ground was covered in pumice and cacti, Gabriel was happy that he’d been able to make Sam promise not to claim him the instant he caught him, not that Sam would ever do anything to hurt him.

He was becoming sick and tired of waiting for something to happen when he felt the first traces of slick leak out. With a grin, he set his empty glass down on the counter, opened the front door, and took off running. Gabriel was not much of a runner, admittedly, but his biology cheerfully took over. The sugar in the juice he’d just had helped, too. As he ran, he felt his body slide more firmly into heat. He was glad that it was still morning; otherwise it would have been entirely too hot. He still shucked his T-shirt, throwing it to the side of the trail. Sam would pick it up. And then… Gabriel couldn’t wait until they were bonded. He usually wasn’t much of a romantic, but there were a few big exceptions and that was one of them.

It wasn’t long before he had to slow down, energy from his heat or no energy. It was California, and the ‘hill’ was actually just shy of being a legitimate mountain. He glanced over his shoulder, but didn’t see Sam. He knew Sam would be able to smell where he’d gone, however, given Sam’s amazing nose. So, he turned his attention back to running.

After another few minutes, he glanced down again and saw that Sam was now on his trail, quickly eating up the distance between them and carrying the shirt he’d shed. Gabriel grinned fiercely and tried to put on more speed, although he really wasn’t in that great of shape. His antics startled a covey of quail, which flew up off of the trail in a loud cloud of feathers, only to settle down just a few feet away in the brush.

When he next looked back, Sam was close enough that Gabriel could see that his eyes were glowing red: his heat had apparently triggered Sam’s rut. Once upon a time, that would have terrified Gabriel, but not anymore. He’d worked through the majority of his issues, and he trusted Sam more than he trusted himself, sometimes.

Gabriel could hear Sam behind him now, gaining on him, and he threw back his head and laughed, knowing it would annoy the Alpha in Sam. He put on one final burst of speed, but it was, of course, no use--Sam’s arms appeared out of nowhere and scooped him up, turning him almost effortlessly and draping him over a gigantic shoulder. “MINE,” he heard Sam growl.

Gabriel went limp instinctively, but after a few steps back down the path, he gathered his courage and smacked Sam on the ass. “Mine,” he responded cheekily.

Sam swatted his backside, hard, and Gabriel let out a yelp. “Stop,” Sam ordered in his Alpha voice, making Gabriel shiver. “Want to claim you right here.” His words were a little slurred, and Gabriel realized it was because his mating fangs had already descended. That sent a second shiver through Gabriel. He ran his tongue along his teeth, and found that his were out, too, although not as far as it sounded like Sam’s were.

“Cactuses,” Gabriel pointed out, wiggling and earning another swat. The part of him that was in heat was totally good with Sam claiming him right this second. The part of him that didn’t like hunting for cactus spines embedded in his skin, not so much.

“Serve you right,” Sam growled. “Didn’t even wake me up, just took off. Anyone could have caught you.” He began to pick up the pace. Gabriel realized they were going downhill, but even so Sam was carrying him, and he was not small. Yet, Sam jogged the rest of the way down the hill and then flat-out ran into the house (he hadn’t closed the front door, nor did he bother with it this time).

He ran into Dean and Cas’ bedroom, and tossed Gabriel up onto the nest before remembering to at least close the bedroom door. Gabriel had to swallow hard when Sam threw him as if he weighed nothing. The Omega tried to situate himself on the bed, but moments later Sam had climbed up onto the nest and was looming over him with other ideas. The Alpha literally ripped his shorts off, which was definitely less sexy in the real world than it was in bodice-rippers: Gabriel was certain that no fictional Omega ever got a wedgie when they had their clothes ripped off.

He was too far gone to care, though; he just cried out “Sam!” as the Alpha grabbed him and began to rub his scent all over Gabriel while also divesting himself of his own clothes. Sam managed to yank their shoes off too, but he was apparently too far gone to worry about socks.

“Present for me, Omega,” Sam growled in his ear, and his body fell all over itself trying to obey that beautiful voice as he rolled over and got up on his knees, chest pressed into the mattress. He heard Sam let out a pleased growl, and then felt him rake his nails down Gabriel’s back before leaning in to scent-mark him again.

“Please, Alpha!” Gabriel needed Sam inside of him yesterday. “Claim me!” If Sam hadn’t been in a rut, he probably would have taken more time to make sure Gabriel was ready, but as it was, he simply pushed himself deep into the Omega’s heat with no preparation. “Yes!” Gabriel was so wet due to his heat that he barely felt the stretch anyway.

Sam began to nip at his shoulders, and Gabriel moaned shamelessly, writhing underneath him as Sam started up a frantic pace set by his biology and not his mind. “So good,” the Alpha grunted out as he set a hand in between Gabriel’s shoulder to push him further down into the mattress.

There was no way Gabriel could have done this without panicking even half a year ago, but time and therapy had provided distance between what was happening now and what had happened when Alistair Rolston and Gordon Walker had kidnapped him. Besides, it was Sam, and he trusted Sam with his life. Maybe even more than that, if truth be told. Plus, it felt amazing. He’d wanted this ever since he’d set eyes on the Alpha in the courtroom so long ago. “Mate me, please Sam, please Alpha!”

He heard Sam let out a pleased growl above him. “Mine.” His knot was already swelling; Gabriel knew it wouldn’t be long. He could already feel himself teetering on the edge, and allowed himself to sink into the feeling just as Sam’s bite landed on the scent gland on his neck. There was a tiny sting, Gabriel’s vision narrowed, and he felt himself climax.

“Alpha!” Gabriel screamed in pleasure as he decorated the sheets beneath them.

Sam growled something in return, but his mouth was full of Gabriel’s neck. The Omega felt Sam fill him up, however, and the sensation caused him to orgasm a second time. This time, he floated away into blackness.

.oOOo.

Gabriel had no idea how long he spent ‘floating,’ but when he became aware of himself and his surroundings again, he felt Sam licking at the mating bite on his neck. His saliva would help it heal, at least until he refreshed it.

The Omega barely cared about the bite, however, as he felt the full effects of the bond settle on him. Scientists swore it was only chemical and not psychic, yet Gabriel knew he’d never have to search the grocery store for Sam again.

The bond felt good. He was complete in a way he didn’t know he could be, wrapped up in his Alpah’s--his mate’s--arms. Sam did like to snuggle. In any case, Gabriel didn’t know if the bond alerted Sam that he was back with him or if it was something else, but he heard Sam chuckle. “How are you?” the Alpha asked, ever solicitous.

“Amazing. My Alpha.” Gabriel twisted his head around so that they could kiss. He thought maybe he could feel some of Sam’s joy, but again, perhaps it was just the pheromones the Alpha was giving off. The room reeked of contented Alpha and Omega pheromones, heat and rut temporarily sated for both.

“My Omega,” Sam whispered when they broke the kiss. They were laying on their sides; Sam’s knot hadn’t fully deflated yet. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

Gabriel snorted. “Hardly. How many times do I have to tell you I won’t break?” He stretched a little, then put his arms over Sam’s. “Can you feel it?”

He could hear the smile in Sam’s tone. “Yeah. It’s...Remind me why we waited so long to do this?”

Gabriel chuckled. “We wanted to see the worst of each other first, remember? You in law school and me during finals.”

“Stupid reason,” Sam murmured, and Gabriel laughed; waiting had largely been Sam’s idea. He grabbed one of Sam’s hands and brought it to his lips so he could kiss it. “Your turn,” Sam added. “How do you want us?” His Alpha was remarkably flexible in more ways than one, and over the past year they’d tried a number of different things, including Sam bottoming for him.

Gabriel knew that wouldn’t work, however. “I’ll ride you,” he said, groaning lazily when he felt Sam pull out of him. “Easier for me to reach your neck.” Technically, only Sam’s bite mattered as far as the bond was concerned, but both of them wanted the mating bites to be mutual. It was actually in fashion these days for Omegas to claim their Alphas, so that people could easily see which Alphas were taken and which weren’t. Gabriel was not about to give some other Omega an excuse to be near his Alpha now that they were mated; this last year had been hard enough.

Gabriel rolled over so they were facing each other, put his arms around Sam, and exchanged a few lazy kisses with him. He could already tell that this was going to be the best week of his life. Maybe there was something to his religious’ parents saying that everything bad happened for a reason--if he hadn’t been kidnapped, he never would have met Sam.

Chapter Text

A few weeks later, Gabriel wanted nothing more than to go back to Dean’s house with Sam. He was learning--the hard way--that opening his own business wasn’t as easy as they made it sound in college. At the moment, he was in the front room of what would be the bakery sitting at a folding desk with a laptop plugged into the only currently-working outlet in the front. The folding chair across from him was empty; he had one more person left to interview, a ‘Jack Kline,’ but he almost hoped that the guy didn’t show.

This morning had been a disaster. Gabriel had come in, checked on the construction crew in the back where they were renovating the kitchen, and found half a dozen things they were doing wrong. He’d told the guy in charge, but the Alpha had completely ignored him despite his threats to pull out the contract. Of course, the Alpha listened just fine when Sam got there and tore them all a new one, threatening to sue for breach of contract.

While Gabriel was glad that the issue was solved, and that Sam was currently in the kitchen area double-checking everything the crew was doing, it really hadn’t helped his morale to have to have his mate give the ultimatum. Why couldn’t they just have listened to him? No, he didn’t know a whole lot about construction, but he certainly did know that the doors of the built-in ovens couldn’t open all the way if the ovens were flush against the outer wall!

Needless to say, the construction noise from the back wasn’t helping him get work done in the front, either. Technically, he could have worked from home, but he wanted to be present in case there were any questions--a whole lot tended to randomly ‘come up’ while renovating old buildings. Gabriel supposed he should just be glad that the construction crew hadn’t found any bodies. Yet.

On top of all of that, this morning Gabriel was trying to hire someone to help him out--the position was temporary, for now, but if Gabriel liked the person, he planned to ultimately hire them as a cashier. Of the people he’d interviewed this morning...well. Two were nice enough but were just not salespeople. One, an Alpha, had laughed when she’d learned that she’d be working for an Omega and gotten up and walked out. Another had just struck Gabriel as odd. That left him with Jack Kline, he thought, looking down at the kid’s resume. He almost hadn’t asked Jack in for an interview; he didn’t seem very experienced. However, the kid had seemed enthusiastic, both on his resume and when Gabriel had called him to arrange the interview.

The Omega put his head in his hands and rubbed at his temples. He had a headache, but it wasn’t bad enough that he wanted to take anything for it. He was definitely going to work from home this afternoon, though, questions or no questions. Maybe Sam would stay, and they could call him if anything came up.

There was a polite knock at the main door, and Gabriel looked up as it opened. A tall kid who looked as if Gabriel might break child labor laws by hiring him walked in, wearing a very cheap and ill-fitting but clean suit. “Hello,” he said, beaming, holding out a hand to shake. Gabriel found himself smiling because the kid was smiling. “Are you Mr. Winchester?”

“Yes, I am,” Gabriel stood up and took the proffered hand. He saw Jack inhale and realize he was an Omega, but the kid didn’t flinch, which gave him brownie points in Gabriel’s book. The kid himself smelled of wood smoke and something like peat moss, but it was muted, so he must be a Beta.

“I’m Jack Kline,” replied the kid. Gabriel’s eyebrows raised slightly; not only did he not look old enough to have what little experience he did, but he was a good fifteen minutes early--which he immediately apologized for. “I’m sorry, I know I’m early. I can wait or come back if you want.”

“Nah,” replied Gabriel. “We can start now. Please, have a seat,” he said. “Sorry, we haven’t ordered the chairs for customers yet. No point until we put in the flooring.”

“That’s okay,” Jack replied, sitting straight as a rod in his chair and folding his hands in front of him. “Thank you very much for this opportunity, Mr. Winchester, I really appreciate it.”

Gabriel paused; he hadn’t been referred to as Mr. Winchester much, and he suddenly realized that he could get used to it. “Please, just Gabriel is fine,” he replied. “Sorry to be so blunt, but...how old are you, Jack?”

Jack let out a small sigh, yet somehow managed to keep smiling. “I’m twenty. I know, I don’t look like it,” he replied, fishing in his pocket for his wallet. He pulled out his ID and handed it over. “I actually went to college for a semester.”

Gabriel studied the ID--he knew what a fake looked like from personal experience--and then raised his eyebrows. “I’m sorry for the mistake,” he replied, handing the ID back. “If I may ask, why didn’t you continue college?”

Jack’s smile faded, which surprised Gabriel. “My mother got sick,” he explained. “She’s doing better now,” he added, brightening a little, “but I had to take care of her for a while, and it ate up our savings.”

Gabriel winced. Way to put your foot in it, he thought. “Sorry to hear that, although I’m glad she’s feeling better. Anyway, let me tell you a little about the position, and then I’ll ask you a few questions. Does that sound all right?”

“Sure, Mr. Gabriel,” Jack replied. He’d already regained his enthusiasm from earlier. “But--I have to disclose something first, because I don’t want to waste your time.”

Gabriel blinked. There was no way this kid had a felony, so…?

Jack cleared his throat. “I haven’t presented yet. Genetic testing says I’m an Alpha.”

Gabriel raised his eyebrows; that explained a lot. With Alphas, the later the presentation, the more likely it would lead to someone going feral or being extremely violent. The kid in front of him was a literal ticking time bomb...and if Gabriel was going to hire him, he’d need a lot of extra insurance, not to mention a tranquilizer gun. It was one of the only reasons you were still allowed to discriminate against someone. His business sense--and his mother’s voice in his head--immediately dismissed the possibility of hiring Jack.

His conclusion must have shown on his face, because the kid’s expression fell. And here Gabriel had thought that Sam had a good kicked-puppy-dog look. “It’s okay,” Jack said. “I understand, especially with a small business like yours; I know it’s hard.” He put his hands on the table and started to rise.

“Wait, kiddo.” Gabriel’s business sense could knock him over the head later, because his heart had taken over control of his mouth. “I do want to interview you.” That much was the truth; Gabriel suspected that Jack would be a very hard worker. Plus, with his looks and enthusiasm, Gabriel would bet money on the fact that he could turn Jack into an excellent salesperson. “I’m not going to promise you anything, but the least I can do is give you a fair shot, and at worst you come away with some extra interview practice.”

Jack’s face lit up, and he settled back in his chair. “Thank you! You have no idea how much this means to me, Mr. Gabriel,” he said.

“Okay, so...since you are an Alpha, how would you feel, working for me?” Gabriel asked.

“I’d have no problem with it,” Jack replied, shaking his head. “I saw those commercials you were in, and my mother is an Omega. I want to be a real Alpha, like your mate is.”

Although Gabriel wasn’t ecstatic about the reminder (the entire ‘being in a commercial’ thing had eventually grown old), he appreciated the sentiment. He went on to appreciate how enthusiastic Jack was about the possibility of learning a trade--whether that be sales or baking; the Alpha wanted to try it all--and how honest and genuine he was.

By the end of the interview, Gabriel knew he was going to have to hire the kid, even though he’d been dead set against it at the start. “One more thing,” he said, once they’d nearly finished. “Since he’s here, I’d like you to meet my mate, Sam, if that’s all right with you. He’ll be around until law school starts in the fall, and what he says goes when I’m not here.”

“Of course!” Jack eagerly followed Gabriel through a swinging door into the back.

There was AC in the building, so, sadly, Sam was wearing a shirt, but Gabriel still ogled him as they walked up. Not long; the bond and Sam’s sharp sense of smell alerted his mate that he had arrived, so Sam turned around, smiling and setting his things down, then removing his ear protection. “Hi babe,” he said, leaning down to give Gabriel a delicious-smelling and slightly sweaty kiss on the cheek.

Gabriel briefly forgot why he was there, but then he snapped out of it. “Oh! Um. Sam, this is Jack. Jack, this is Sam, my mate.”

“Hi Jack.” Sam smiled, reaching out to give Jack a handshake, then tilted his head to the side and gave the kid a sympathetic look. “Late presenter?”

Gabriel was used to Sam’s nose ferreting out all sorts of things normal people couldn’t detect, but Jack wasn’t, and the kid jumped a little. “...Yeah...how did you know, Mr. Winchester?”

“I have a really good sense of smell, and I didn’t present until I was seventeen,” Sam replied. “Of course, my older brother, Dean? Presented when he was barely fourteen. So...I know how it feels.”

“I’m twenty,” Jack replied, causing Sam to raise his eyebrows--apparently the soon-to-be-lawyer’s nose couldn’t detect age, Gabriel thought to himself. The thought may have been a little smug. “I’ve seen your commercials, and I want to be like you. You know, after I present.”

Sam nodded. “Good for you,” he said. “I hope for your sake that that happens soon.”

“Me too,” Jack said emphatically. “Um. Was yours rough?”

“My presentation? A little,” Sam admitted. “Luckily my brother was there to keep me from doing anything too stupid, though I did give him an impressive shiner in an attempt to get out of the house.”

“Don’t worry, his brother probably deserved it,” Gabriel asided to Jack, who looked a tiny bit frightened of Sam now. “He can be a bit of a dick. And Sam would never hurt anyone now. Unless they really deserved it.”

Sam nodded his agreement, smiling, and Jack returned the smile. “Well,” Gabriel said, “Unless you have any more questions for Sam, I’ll show you out.”

“No, I don’t want to take up any more of your time. Thank you so much for meeting me, Mr. Winchester.” Jack nodded respectfully to Sam, bared his throat to the older Alpha, and then turned to walk back through the swinging door. Gabriel followed him, waving as he left, then sat back down at his ‘desk.’

“Well, shit,” Gabriel remarked--seemingly to empty air, but he heard Sam walk in just in time to catch it. He wasn’t surprised when his mate walked up behind him and put his ginormous hands on his shoulders.

“It will be worth it,” Sam said. “You’ll have a loyal Alpha who looks up to you around when I can’t be here. And the latest presentation I’ve ever heard of was 22. Once he presents, you won’t need the extra insurance and everything.”

Gabriel glared up at his husband. “How do you know what I’m thinking? This bond isn’t supposed to give you psychic abilities, you know.”

Sam chuckled, a deep rumble that made Gabriel want to be pressed against him. “He’s the only one you introduced me to. And if he wasn’t a late presenter, he’d be perfect from what I saw. Plus, he must be willing to have an Omega for a boss, or he wouldn’t have lasted any longer than that other Alpha did.”

“He and his mother need the money, I think,” Gabriel said, his expression softening. “And it’s clear he’d be a hard worker. I can teach him to be a salesman. Hell, I can teach him to bake, if that’s what he wants. But the extra insurance will be a lot that I hadn’t planned on spending.”

“It will,” Sam agreed, “But like I said, it’ll be worth it. I have law school completely covered; your parents own the building we live in...we’ll scrape up the extra. I know what it’s like to be in a crappy family situation like that, and we both know what it’s like when someone takes a chance on us.”

Gabriel did; very few Omegas actually got college degrees, and Sam was paying for law school with a scholarship and an agreement with a law firm where he’d work for five years after obtaining his degree. “Yeah, we do,” he said softly. “Okay. I’ll call the insurance people first thing tomorrow morning. But I’m going to go work from home this afternoon; I can’t handle all the noise.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Sam replied, leaning down to kiss Gabriel. “I’ll stay here and make sure those idiots don’t mess up your design. Don’t worry about dinner, I’ll bring something home.”

“I love you,” Gabriel noted as he sat up straighter so he could shut his laptop down.

“I love you too, Gabriel,” Sam said before he turned and headed back to the construction site.

Chapter Text

Sam got back to the apartment around seven. He was carrying a large bag of takeout, but stopped to check the mailbox anyway. There was mail in it, so he picked that up too, juggling it, the food, and his keys as he took the stairs up to the fifth floor where his apartment was.

He unlocked the door, opened it, and called, “It’s me, Gabriel!” His mate was not nearly as anxious about strangers coming into the apartment as he used to be, but Sam still liked to reassure Gabriel that it was him coming through the door.

“I’m in here,” he heard Gabriel call from the study they had made out of a second bedroom. Sam walked into the kitchen and set everything down, taking a deep breath full of the scents of home, then walked back to the door to close and lock it. He took off his work boots at the door, then went and poked his head into the study.

“Hey, Gabe,” he said, smiling as he spotted his mate sitting at his desk. “I’m going to take a quick shower, and then we can eat. I got your favorite from that Chinese place.”

Gabriel turned and gave him a bright smile. “Have I mentioned that I love you, Alpha?”

Sam chuckled. “Once or twice already today, Omega,” he replied. “How’d it go this afternoon?”

“I got a lot more done than I did this morning. You?”

“They finally finished all of the wiring,” Sam replied. “And started on the water.”

“Oh, thank god,” Gabriel said. “I thought they’d never finish with that.”

“Me either,” Sam agreed. “Okay, shower, see you in a bit.”

“Okay,” he heard Gabriel say as he turned and walked down the hall to the master bedroom. Once upon a time, his mate would never have allowed him to take a shower without him, so Sam figured that Gabriel must be hungry...or maybe they were just finally starting to get past the ‘honeymoon’ phase of their relationship.

Sam took a quick shower, dressed in a fresh t-shirt and jeans, and made his way back to their kitchen. Gabriel had set out a plate and chopsticks for him, and was sitting at their dining table with a plate of his own, already half-finished with his pork fried rice. Sam shook his head, amused that he’d been right about his Omega being hungry, and began to load his plate with his favorites.

It wasn’t until he turned and went to set his plate down that he saw the pink envelope sitting at his place...and the shit-eating grin that had suddenly appeared on his mate’s face. “Saaaaaammy has faaaaaan mail,” Gabriel sang, laughing at him.

Considering how possessive Gabriel could be around other Omegas, Sam didn’t understand why he loved it so much when Sam got ‘fan’ mail from those commercials, but he suspected it had to do with how flustered he became. Speaking of which, he attempted not to let his embarrassment show on his face as he swept the envelope to the side so he could set down his plate and sit down. “Don’t call me that, Gabe,” he instructed for the millionth time.

“Ooooh, Sammy’s afraid to read it in front of me! Do you think this one describes their mental image of your knot the way the last one did? I had half a mind to post a response online, hashtag fan suspicions about proportion confirmed!” Gabriel reached across the table and nabbed the envelope, then proceeded to open it as Sam glared over at him half-heartedly.

Sam hadn’t been happy with the similar mail Gabriel had collected, but he’d put up with it. Gabriel, with his gorgeous eyes and his little smirk, at least deserved the admiration. Sam...not so much. His mate, of course, absolutely loved teasing him about each and every letter he received, so he tried to brace himself for whatever this one would say.

Gabriel’s expression changed from ecstatic to confused at about the same time the smell from inside the apparently scent-secure envelope hit his nostrils. “Oh, shit,” he muttered, setting his chopsticks down before he gagged on it. Judging by the amount of scent that was released, someone had worked very hard to scent-mark whatever was inside. Sam was trying hard not to imagine how they’d done so, especially since the combination was familiar to him.

“What the fuck, Sam?” Gabriel asked a few moments later. He was opening something made of pink paper that had been folded over, and small pieces of what looked like torn-up paper with an image on it were falling out of it. The folded item turned out to be a large construction-paper heart. Gabriel eyed what was on it, repeated, “Seriously, what the fuck, Sam?” in a sharper tone and slid it across the table before examining the papers that had fallen out of the heart. Sam knew his mate didn’t mean to assault his sensitive nose, but he couldn’t help but sneeze violently at the combination of honeysuckle and lavender, with a bit of anise sprinkled in.

He made a face and rubbed at his nose as he pulled the construction paper heart closer so he could see what was glued to it. The air was beginning to reek of burned cinnamon rolls, too; Gabriel was really upset by whatever this was.

The construction paper heart framed a photo of a younger Sam seemingly making out with a young woman with dyed blond hair. To add insult to injury, she had signed it, ‘To my Alpha, Sam, with love, your real Omega, Becky.’

“Fuck. Gabriel, I can explain,” Sam said, looking up to find his mate piecing together a ripped-up photograph of himself from the commercials. The burning smell was getting stronger. “I went on one date with Becky back in high school, before either of us presented. That’s all, I swear. I didn’t tell you about her because she’s back in Kansas--at least, I hope she’s back in Kansas--and it was one date. We went in a photo booth,” he said, holding up the photo, “and she grabbed my face and kissed me. I pushed her away because it was too much, but not before the booth took this. Look, look how young we are,” he added, pushing the heart back toward Gabriel.

Gabriel snatched it from him, and glared down at the photograph for a few moments before he began to relax, his scent normalizing. Sam closed his eyes. “She was another weird kid and no one wanted to hang out with her, so I tried to be nice to her. She asked me out, this happened, and then I avoided her after that.” He opened his eyes and looked over at his mate. “I would have told you if I’d thought about it, but I never expected she would contact me again, let alone send me something like this.” He wanted to ask about the torn-up photo in front of Gabriel, but didn’t dare bring attention to it yet.

Gabriel eventually essayed a weak smile. “You look like a total nerd in this photo, Sam. Zits and all. I didn’t realize how young you were in it at first.”

Sam sighed again. “I was a total nerd, then. Please, Gabriel, I know I probably don’t deserve it, but will you come here? I’ve never liked the way she smelled, and this is too much for me; I want to scent you.”

Gabriel hesitated a moment, but then got up and came around the table; Sam pulled him into his lap and buried his nose against his mate’s scent gland, breathing in deep lungfuls of still slightly overly-toasted cinnamon roll. Gabriel slid his fingers into Sam’s hair and eventually started purring soothingly.

After a few minutes, Sam lifted up his head to look at his mate. “Was that a picture of you?” he asked gently.

The purring stopped immediately, and Gabriel sighed. “Looks like it,” he said. “Looks like someone...she...what did you say her name was?...printed out a still from the commercial, ripped it up, and stuffed it in that heart.”

Sam couldn’t help but growl. “Becky. I’ll write a cease and desist letter as soon as we put the food away.”

Gabriel shook his head. “Don’t feed the trolls, Sam,” he said.

Sam was geeky enough to get the reference. “Are you sure? Let’s at least check the return address? Make sure she’s still in Kansas?”

“Okay.” Gabriel extricated himself from Sam’s embrace and went to look at the envelope he’d discarded. “Yeah,” he said, nodding, “the return’s from Kansas. So we ignore it.”

Sam wasn’t sure he felt the same--maybe because he’d known Becky--but Gabriel was the most offended party in this case, so he allowed him to make the call. Standing, he helped his Omega pick up all the bits of Gabriel’s picture, the heart, and the envelope. They threw them away together, and then Gabriel retrieved some scent neutralizer and sprayed it practically everywhere that wasn’t their food.

“Do you forgive me?” Sam asked quietly as he sat back down.

“Yeah, Sam. It clearly wasn’t something you wanted or asked for, and it’s not like I’ve told you about everyone I dated in high school,” Gabriel replied, and Sam could hear the ring of truth in his words. As he finished spraying the room, he set the scent neutralizer down on the kitchen counter. “Better?” he asked.

“Much, thank you. Remind me to make this up to you.”

“I can think of a few ways you could do that,” Gabriel replied as he washed his hands, turning his head to waggle his eyebrows at Sam. “In fact…” Hands washed, he made his way to his plate and then pulled it across the table so it was sitting next to Sam’s. “Why don’t you feed me dinner tonight, Alpha?” he asked innocently, plopping down in Sam’s lap again.

Sam couldn’t help but laugh at his antics. “Gabriel, you are a grown-ass man who is perfectly capable of feeding yourself.”

Gabriel widened his eyes and let out a pathetic-sounding whine. “Please, Alpha? Won’t you feed your poor, starving Omega?”

Sam looked down at him, and couldn’t help himself. Shaking his head, he picked up his chopsticks and began feeding Gabriel. “Only if you promise that you will never pull this shit in a restaurant,” he said. He realized, as Gabriel’s eyes lit up, that he shouldn’t have said anything; he was just giving his mate ideas. “You’re incorrigible, you know that?”

“But you love me anyway,” Gabriel said smugly before Sam deposited a rangoon in his mouth. “And not that...Becky.”

“I never have, and I never will,” Sam promised him. “Only you.”

“Good,” Gabriel said, and started purring again.

.oOOo.

When they’d both eaten their fill and put the dishes in the dishwasher, Gabriel talked Sam into watching an episode of Firefly with him. He was loving Wash, the Omega character on the show, and Sam didn’t have the heart to warn him of what was to come--especially since Gabriel had this theory that by the end, Captain Malcolm would totally steal Wash away from Zoe. Sam had to admit, Gabriel’s theory was...unique.

“You can’t take, the sky from me!” Gabriel belted out with the ending credits, for some reason that Sam couldn’t fathom. He just held him--Gabriel loved to sit in Sam’s lap, and Sam loved to let him.

“Another one?” Sam asked, though it was starting to get late.

“Nope,” Gabriel replied, nosing at Sam’s scent gland. “I have to ration these; they’re too good. Anyway, I should get there early tomorrow to make sure they haven’t made any more mistakes.”

“So, bed, then?” Sam replied with a smile.

“If by ‘bed,’ you mean ‘sex,’ then yes, please, Alpha. This mating bite of yours is looking a little...old.”

Sam shook his head as he stood, taking Gabriel with him. He’d asked around, and Gabriel definitely bit him more often than other Omegas bit their Alphas. Even Cas, who apparently liked to bite Dean, only did it when he was in heat. Sam certainly didn’t feel like biting Gabriel outside of rut--well, not now that they were mated, at any rate. But, of course, the repeated bites were a very small price to pay for the love of his true mate. And if Gabriel wanted to mark him as taken, well, he very much was, so what did it matter?

“Does that mean no sex, or no bed, or no bite?” Gabriel was playfully referring to his head shake, and broke Sam out of his reverie in the process.

That means that you have a very understanding Alpha,” Sam retorted, focusing on Gabriel as he made his way to the bedroom. “You want to brush your teeth before, or after?”

“Before. Your knot takes forever to go down when I bite you,” Gabriel said smugly, licking over Sam’s scent gland.

“Brat,” Sam said affectionately before depositing him in the bathroom, where they went through their pre-sleep routines.

Gabriel, who was always a lot more comfortable than Sam with being naked, finished first and shed his clothes before jumping into their nest. Sam heard him take a deep breath of their combined scent, and smiled. He did love Gabriel’s cinnamon roll scent, and couldn’t quite believe that the Omega with the sweet tooth really liked his combination of lettuce, beer, and books, but he’d seen plenty of evidence by now that it was true.

Leaving the bathroom, Sam turned off the light and went to make love to his Omega.

Chapter Text

To their dismay, pink envelopes continued to appear in their mailbox. Gabriel insisted on throwing them away unopened, and Sam let him. At first, the letters arrived once or twice a week, and then the frequency increased to about one per day. After a month or so, when they stopped altogether, Gabriel happily declared victory over this Becky character. Sam didn’t seem as enthusiastic, but Gabriel knew how to make his mate look on the bright side--and he did.

In the meantime, Gabriel secured the insurance, training, and tranquilizer gun he needed to hire Jack. Just a few days of having Jack around to do tasks large and small made it clear that they’d made the right decision; the kid was a hard worker, and he attracted attention from what Gabriel called ‘the kids,’ even though ‘the kids’ were only a few years younger than he and Sam.

When the construction of the kitchen area was finally finished, Gabriel began testing out his recipes on a much larger scale than he’d ever had cause to. They made a lot of friends in the apartment complex by giving away what they, Dean, Castiel, and Mary, and the construction team members (who were now working on the shop portion of the bakery) couldn’t eat. Gabriel and Jack made sure that the baked goods that were given away always had colorful little advertisements for ‘Sprinkles! All-Purpose Bakery Opening Soon’ on them. Once Gabriel had all of his licenses in place, they occasionally gave items and advertisements away to passers-by on the street.

In short, Gabriel was excited and anxious and generally thrilled that he was making his dream come true--and not only that, but he had an amazing mate to fall back on when there were hiccups, burned goods, or worse. It was one thing for Sam to say he supported Gabriel’s dream; it was another for him to go on a nearly all-carbohydrate diet of baked goods so that they could save some extra money. Aside from a few good-natured grumbles about having to run further each day to keep in shape, Sam never complained.

A week or so after the end of the pink envelopes, Gabriel was in the back of the bakery, working with Jack on bread. Jack was good with simple recipes, but the addition of yeast was giving him trouble, and Gabriel was explaining how to best mix the yeast with the water and sugar. “You want to make sure it’s fully dispersed and can get to the sugar, but you also don’t want to beat it so hard that the yeast dies,” he was saying.

Jack was paying rapt attention, nodding as Gabriel spoke. “So that’s why you always mix it by hand before you put it in the big mixer.”

“Exactly.” Gabriel beamed at Jack. “And after you add it to the dough, you have to make sure the mixer’s on a slow setting, or you’ll get flat bread anyway.” He was still shocked at how earnest Jack was about learning baking in addition to everything else--baking was ‘supposedly’ an Omega task. Even Sam hadn’t shown much interest in it, although Gabriel knew it was because Sam wasn’t any good at baking; it wasn’t because Sam found it ‘beneath him’ as an Alpha. Gabriel had to admit it was much more fun to watch Sam pound nails into the wall to hang cabinets than to watch him try to follow even the simplest recipe anyway.

“Mom says your bread is the best she’s ever had,” Jack said, still carefully watching Gabriel as he added the yeast mixture to one of the larger mixers. “She says she won’t go back to store-bought.”

“She’s still coming to the grand opening?” Gabriel asked as he set the mixer on low and watched it start to spin the different components of the dough together.

“Yeah! She says she wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Gabriel hadn’t met Kelly Kline, but Jack’s stories had given the woman a near-mythical status by now, and he was looking forward to meeting the real thing. She was a rare single Omega who had brought Jack up by herself, no Alpha involved. Gabriel sometimes wished that she, and not Naomi, was his mother; Naomi and Chuck hadn’t raised them wrong, exactly, but he definitely didn’t have the same relationship with Naomi that Jack had with Kelly.

“Well, you tell her that she’s more than welcome, and she will always get the family and friends discount at Sprinkles!”

“I’m sure she’ll appreciate that. Maybe she can even come work here if she can’t find another job!” Kelly had had to quit her job when she got sick, which had left her with no medical insurance and a whole lot of bills. It was one of many reasons why this job seemed to mean so much to Jack, who was now--both figuratively and literally, given all of Gabriel’s experiments--bringing home the bread. Kelly was able to do some work from home, but nothing too strenuous.

“You’d want to work with your mom?” Gabriel was surprised, no matter how close they were.

“Why not?” Jack shrugged as he fetched another bag full of flour, recognizing that the dough needed some more. “Make it a two-family affair. You and Sam and mom and me. Not that the bakery would be /ours/, of course, it’s /yours/, but our little family would work here.”

Gabriel smiled at the kid’s enthusiasm. “For the record, you’re practically family now, both of you. It’s a low bar as far as I’m concerned, but Sam puts a lot of importance on family.”

“He’ll make a really good father,” Jack nodded. “He’s so patient with me. I mean, you are too, but he’s an /Alpha/ and he’s patient with me.”

“He will,” Gabriel agreed, smirking to himself. “Part of me wants to have his pups right away, but the rest wants to make sure Sprinkles! gets off the ground and running properly before I do. It’s going to be hard enough to stay on my feet all day without a gigantic belly.”

“I can only ima--” Jack started, but was interrupted as the back door opened with a loud bang that startled them both.

Gabriel realized that it was his mate striding across the room toward him at about the same time that Sam’s upset smell hit his nostrils: Sam reeked. The beer had gone flat and stale, the lettuce smelled as if it were going bad, and the books in his scent were mildewing. Sam was still in his usual running outfit; he clearly hadn’t been back to the house to shower. He was also disheveled, there was a bruise on his face, and his right forearm was dripping blood. “Sam!” Gabriel met him halfway across the room without even realizing that he’d moved. “What happened? Let’s get this--” and then he paused as another scent hit his nostrils. One that made him want to rip someone apart.

“It’s just skinned; it’s not as bad as it looks,” Sam tried to reassure Gabriel, but the Omega was already pulling his Alpha toward the staff bathroom and pushing his arm under the faucet. The Alpha winced when he turned it on, but allowed Gabriel to wash away the blood.

“She’s here?!?” Gabriel couldn’t quite believe it, despite clearly smelling Becky’s scent on Sam.

“Yeah. I’m just glad you’re--I was worried about you. She found me on my run; startled me so bad that I tripped and fell. I’m okay,” Sam added hastily. “Just a few bruises and the arm, but then...she made a huge scene. We need to talk about it--at home.” He glanced over toward Jack, who was, not surprisingly, watching them curiously.

“Okay. The crew should be fine on their own for the rest of the day. Jack, do you want to finish baking these loaves? You can take them home when you’re done, and I’ll--I suppose I’ll call you tonight or later today with a plan for tomorrow,” Gabriel called as he ducked out of the bathroom to get the first aid kit.

“Okay, Mr. Gabriel. Are you all right, Mr. Winchester?” Jack asked. Gabriel mentally shook his head at the way the kid refused to just call him ‘Gabe’ like everyone else.

“I’m--” Sam clearly wasn’t sure how to finish that sentence. “Physically, I’m fine,” he said after a moment’s hesitation. Gabriel finally pulled his arm out from under the faucet and started inspecting it while patting it dry with paper towels. Sam was right; his arm was skinned badly, but didn’t seem to be injured otherwise. Gabriel applied antibiotic ointment from the first-aid kit and then started covering the skinned area with gauze.

“Okay. Um. I’m going to go make sure they’re still doing what Mr. Gabriel wants,” Jack said, fleeing toward the front.

Gabriel snorted indelicately as he started taping the gauze in place. “Kid has more social skills than he thinks he does.” When he realized how tense his mate still was, he added, “Sam. Relax. I’m fine. You’re mostly fine. I know I overreacted about Becky at first, but I’m not mad at you.” He looked up so Sam could see he meant it. “Yes, I get jealous. Yes, I hate it when other Omegas flirt with you. Yes, I’ve considered biting you on every scent gland you have to make sure that everyone knows you’re mine. But you saw Becky, and your response was to worry about me. You came running back to me. I’m okay, Sam. Calm down so we can make sure that you’re okay, and then we can go home and talk about it.”

As soon as the tape had secured the gauze in place, Sam put his arms around Gabriel, pulled him close, and buried his nose in his neck. Gabriel wrinkled his own nose, because it meant he could smell Becky on Sam even better, but he did his best to keep calm. Instead, he reached up to run his fingers through Sam’s hair and tried to get his own nose closer to Sam’s scent gland (damn height difference). “God, I love the way you smell,” Sam murmured. “It’s never too much, not ever overwhelming to me. Even when you’re mad.”

“I’m not mad. Concerned, but not mad,” Gabriel told his Alpha, running his other hand up and down Sam’s back. “Now, let me get a look at these other bruises, and then we’ll walk home.” He slowly pushed Sam back a little. The bruise on his temple was becoming more obvious, but there were no cuts on his face that Gabriel could see. “Pull up your pant leg and let’s see the spot you hit there.” He gave Sam an eyebrow wiggle, which always made the Alpha smile--sometimes shyly, sometimes wickedly.

The ghost of a smile did indeed appear on Sam’s face, but it was clear he wasn’t really in the mood. Instead, he set his foot on a chair and pulled up the leg of his sweatpants. As Gabriel had expected, a few bruises were already starting to form next to a small patch of rug burn on Sam’s knee. “No blood,” he observed, “So I think we’ll forego the bandage since you’re a big, tough Alpha. Are you sore anywhere else?”

Sam shook his head no, and Gabriel helped him pull his pant leg back down. “Okay, let’s go home, then,” Gabriel said. He took off his apron and set it aside, made a note of the time in a log book, and then pressed himself to Sam’s side for the short walk back to their apartment. (As a baker, Gabriel would have to get up early. He’d be damned if he had to get up extra early because he lived far away from his place of business.)

Sam didn’t say a word during the walk, though he was constantly scanning the area around them as if someone was going to come out of nowhere and accost him. Gabriel just held him close, and put up with him checking the outside lock on the apartment complex several times before they actually went in. Gabriel led Sam to the elevator (he’d take the stairs despite his injuries, if Gabriel let him), and then dutifully stood just outside the elevator door while Sam thoroughly sniffed their apartment door.

It wasn’t until he was watching Sam check their door that Gabriel realized his mate wasn’t just being overprotective--Becky knew where they lived, because she’d sent them letters. While their apartment complex may have an outside lock, it was common procedure for people to buzz delivery people or people who had forgotten their keys up to their apartments. Gabriel felt his stomach plummet, even as he saw Sam shake his head and unlock the apartment, then open the door and go in. Becky knew where they lived, and suddenly, that frightened Gabriel more than he’d ever be willing to admit.

“She hasn’t been here,” Sam announced as he strode back into the hallway. Whether he could smell Gabriel’s fear or was reacting to something else, he hurried over and scooped Gabriel up into a bridal carry. Normally, being manhandled like that by Sam would make Gabriel swoon, but his stomach just churned faster as his mate carried him into the apartment. The Alpha held him up with one hand while he closed the door behind them and locked it. He then carried Gabriel straight to the bedroom, to their nest, and carefully set him down in the middle. “I’ll get your shoes,” he said, and proceeded to do just that, disappearing into the hallway with them once he’d removed them from Gabriel’s feet.

Gabriel reached over and turned on a lamp by the bedside; they tended to leave the blinds in the bedroom closed even when it was daylight, and suddenly he was inordinately glad that they did. He shed his jeans and outer shirt, leaving him in a T-shirt and boxers, and burrowed down under all the blankets and pillows, where the smell of Sam was strongest. Thankfully, it was only a few minutes before the source of that smell joined him. Sam had shed his outer layers, too, which meant he no longer smelled of Becky. It was Gabriel’s turn to scent Sam, who wrapped his Omega in his arms and held him quietly for a few minutes.

After what seemed like forever, Sam’s scent had finally calmed Gabriel to the point that he felt mostly rational, so he pulled away in order to look at his Alpha. “What happened?” he asked, trying to keep his tone as neutral as possible.

Sam sighed. “I was running--I realized later that I posted about the route I take on Facebook--and thinking of what we still need to do before the opening--and then suddenly, she was just there, running beside me, in a jogging outfit, like we’d run together for years.”

Gabriel frowned deeply, then tried to relax his facial muscles as Sam responded with a guilty look. Regardless of how he felt, Sam continued, “Like I said earlier, it startled me, and I tripped and fell. She apologized, and then tried to pull me up, asking if I was hurt. She kept calling me Alpha, like...well, like she was you. When she saw I was bleeding, she--” Sam hesitated, and Gabriel could tell he really wasn’t going to like whatever came next. “She grabbed my arm and tried to lick it.”

“What the fuck?” Gabriel sat straight up in bed, pulling away from Sam in the process. Licking the wounds--with the exception of a mating bite--of another person in a non-life-threatening emergency was unheard of. Yes, saliva had antibacterial properties and was good for helping close small cuts, but licking was a very intimate gesture--a mother or an Omega might lick their pups’ first few wounds, but that was about it.

“That’s what I said,” Sam told him wearily, eyes wide in the dim light. “I scooted backwards and got to my feet as fast as I could, keeping her away from me with my other arm. Then I told her I was mated to my true mate and was not, nor ever would be, interested in her.”

“Fucking cunt.” The words slipped out of Gabriel’s mouth before he could filter them.

“Gabriel!” Sam admonished, now sitting up himself. “You can’t call her that. That’s all kinds of--”

Gabriel reached out to set a finger against Sam’s lips to shush him. “Sam, you know I respect women and I would never call anyone something like that without cause. But if a guy tried to lick you, I’d call him a cocksucking bastard. I think I’m justified this time.”

Sam didn’t look like he fully agreed, but he also probably thought he was on thin ice with Gabriel, who almost certainly smelled of burning cinnamon rolls by now. He took a moment or two to collect his thoughts, then continued to tell his story. “By then, people were starting to notice us. She grabbed my arm and howled like I’d hurt her; I just put my hands up as best I could to show I wasn’t doing anything to her.”

Gabriel growled. The fucking cunt--sorry, Sam--had tried to make it look like Sam was hurting her? Sam would never hurt anyone, unless they truly deserved it.

“She started telling everyone that we were true mates, but that I was rejecting her, and at the same time begging me not to reject her. She was hysterical, screaming and crying and begging. Gabriel...she’s unbalanced. Seriously. I think she may actually be delusional or schizophrenic.” He swallowed hard. “I started to wonder, if she’d been on my social media, she’d certainly know about the bakery, and what if she’d gone there first and found you?” This time, he shuddered, and grabbed ahold of Gabriel, pulling him close once more and scenting him despite the mood he was in. “I was so worried, but I couldn’t do anything because there was a crowd around us and a police officer had come over to see what the problem was,” Sam murmured against his neck.

Gabriel quickly snaked his arms around Sam, trying to convey to his Alpha that he wasn’t mad at him. “It’s okay,” he murmured. “She didn’t. I’m fine. We’re home. We’re safe.”

Sam hugged him tighter. “Becky finally howled something about how if I rejected her, she’d die of pining sickness, and then she fainted.”

Gabriel rolled his eyes. “Of course she did,” he muttered, before calling her a few additional things Sam wouldn’t approve of under his breath.

“I caught her before she fell and put her down on the sidewalk--that’s why my clothes smell of her. The police officer had everyone give her some space and made sure she was okay, then asked me what the hell was going on. I explained, and then begged to go because I was so worried about you, but I don’t think she believed me at first. Luckily, a few people had seen the entire thing and backed my story up, plus, I was the one bleeding and there wasn’t a scratch on Becky. So, once the police officer called for backup and ran my driver’s license, she said I could go but that I’d probably be contacted by the police later. As soon as she did, I turned and ran straight to the bakery.”

“Oh, Sam,” Gabriel breathed, cradling Sam’s head again. “I’m so sorry.” He knew that Sam not only felt guilty about the fact that he’d essentially told Becky how to find them both on Facebook, but probably also because he’d left the scene without determining whether or not Becky was all right. Gabriel didn’t give a flying fuck, but he knew his mate would even though that would in turn make him feel as if he were betraying Gabriel. Sam was much too kind sometimes.

“I’m sorry I left you alone. And that I got you mixed up in all of this. I know you’re mad, and I’m so sorry. I told you I was a terrible Alpha; you should’ve listened,” Sam mumbled. “If you were with someone better, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Oh, for crying out loud, Sam!” Gabriel’s tone startled his mate enough that Sam pulled away from him to stare, and he used the opportunity to grab the sides of Sam’s face so he couldn’t look away. “Do you really think that Becky’s stalking you because you’re undesirable? Do you really think that I, who am a totally awesome catch, by the way, would want you if you were such a terrible Alpha? Hell, why do you think I’m jealous of Becky? Sam, you’re an amazing Alpha. The right Alpha for me. You’re handsome and you smell wonderful and you care about other people and that’s why this is happening. It’s not your fault. I know I overreacted at first, but that’s because I thought that picture was more recent. I’m mad as hell at Becky, and if I see her, you should probably worry more about her safety than mine. But I am not mad at you, Sam.”

Gabriel watched as Sam searched his face during his tirade. When he was finished, Sam pulled him closer for a searing, if teary, kiss. He pulled away long enough to murmur, “I don’t deserve you, Omega,” before diving in for a second one.

“Mmmm.” Gabriel hummed into Sam’s mouth and kissed him back with equal fervor. If this was something his Alpha needed, he was more than happy to provide it. After a few minutes of exchanging kisses, he rolled onto his back and pulled Sam along with him.

“I love you, Gabriel. You’re too good to me,” Sam told him the next time they broke apart.

“Only as good as you deserve, Alpha,” Gabriel retorted as Sam began kissing down his neck toward his scent gland. “Now, come on, Sam, show me that I’m the only Omega for you.” He reached a hand down, and found that Sam was already hard. Sam let out a pleased growl as Gabriel took his cock in hand and started stroking it. Sam’s fingers found the waistband of Gabriel’s boxers, and his long arms started working them down his legs.

As soon as they were down far enough, Gabriel kicked them off--well, mostly; they ended up around one ankle. The important thing was that they weren’t in the way. He spread his legs apart and moaned when Sam’s fingers probed at his entrance; he was already producing some slick and felt the flow increase as he began to let himself relax.

BZZZZZZZT. The apartment buzzer startled them both, and they stared with wide eyes at each other until Gabriel snorted and started laughing; Sam quickly followed suit. “Ignore it,” Gabriel suggested, giving Sam a firm stroke.

BZZZZZZZT. Gabriel groaned as Sam sighed and pulled away from him. “It better not be a fucking forgotten key again,” he muttered, but he got up, pulled up his boxers, and went to answer the bell.

Gabriel could only hear half of the conversation. “Hello? Sorry, who is this? Oh! Yes, I’m Sam. Of course you can come up.” Gabriel growled in annoyance, but put his own boxers back on and waited for Sam.

When he returned, Sam looked panicked. “It’s the police,” he explained. He grabbed his jeans and tried to pull them up so fast that he nearly fell.

“Goddamnit,” Gabriel replied, but sat up and reached for his own jeans. Of all the times! He supposed that they were just looking into what had happened that morning, but that didn’t mean he had to be happy about it.

Sam got dressed first and hurried back out toward the living room. When Gabriel finished getting dressed, he went into the bathroom and put some scent neutralizer on. Many police officers were Alphas, and he didn’t want them smelling his arousal; Sam had enough to deal with without having to respond to another Alpha’s reaction to his fragrant, if already mated, Omega.

When he finally left the bedroom (he wanted to stay in the nest, but knew he needed to be present to support Sam and his story), he found Sam pacing very much like their ancestors would have in such an enclosed space. “Sam, calm down. You haven’t done anything wrong.”

“I know.” Sam ran his fingers through his hair and let out a frustrated noise. “But it’s annoying.”

Gabriel walked over and slid his arms around his Alpha. “We’ll get through it, Sam. Just like we’ve gotten through everything else.”

Sam smiled softly down at him. “You’re right,” he said, hugging Gabriel back and then kissing him on the tip of his nose. Gabriel nearly growled again when there was a knock at the door, but instead he stepped back away from Sam--and the door.

Sam bent to peer through the peephole in the door, then unlocked and opened it. Gabriel wanted to try to soothe him again, because he could smell how anxious Sam was, but he knew better than to get in his way right now.

“Hi there.” A huge bear of a white man stood next to a smaller man of African descent. The bear, who had an accent, was the one speaking. “I’m Detective Lafitte, and this here’s Detective Henriksen. We’re looking for Sam Winchester?” Both men looked relaxed, but Gabriel got the impression that they could move in a hurry if they needed to.

“I’m Sam Winchester, and this is my mate, Gabriel. Please, come in.” Sam gestured back toward Gabriel, who gave the men a little wave, and then led the way to the kitchen table, which had four chairs. “Would you like some water, or coffee?” He was being scrupulously polite, but Gabriel could see through his act and knew exactly how uncomfortable his mate was.

“I wouldn’t mind a glass of water, cher,” rumbled the large man in a Cajun accent as he pulled out a chair and sat down. “If’n it’s not too much trouble.”

“I’m fine,” said the other man in a clipped tone. Once he sat, he looked over at Gabriel. The Omega found his stare disconcerting, and looked away despite himself. The pair were on at least mild scent-blockers, because he couldn’t smell anything, but that wasn’t all that surprising.

“Not at all. Ice?” Sam asked as he walked over and opened the refrigerator. Gabriel was proud of him; even most well-meaning Alphas would probably look to the Omega in the room at this point, expecting them to fetch the drink.

“No, thank ya,” Detective Lafitte replied. Sam poured him a glass of filtered water and set it down in front of him, then pulled out a seat at the table and gestured for Gabriel to come take it. He took the last chair himself. Gabriel couldn’t blame him for the fact that the seat he’d chosen for the Omega was just a little behind Sam’s.

“I presume this is about what happened this morning? Is Becky all right?” Sam asked as Detective Lafitte took a polite sip of water. Gabriel was pretty sure by now that he was an Alpha, but he had a manner that was clearly designed to set people at ease. Henricksen, on the other hand, had an edge about him; Gabriel could see why they made a good team.

“That’s right,” agreed Lafitte. “She was taken to the hospital for observation, but had no wounds on her. Would ya mind telling us, in your own words, what happened?” Henricksen finally looked away from Gabriel, taking out a notebook and a pen and poising the latter over the former.

Sam nodded, and, starting with the arrival of the first pink envelope, told his side of the story. The detectives asked about the envelopes, and Sam explained that they’d thrown them all out. Victor made a note of that--and most everything else that Sam said. Occasionally, one of them interrupted to ask him to clarify a point, but for the most part, they sat and listened to him talk.

Gabriel kept quiet as Sam spoke, except to confirm that he patched Sam up and that Sam had bruises on his knee as well as his face. He was wishing he hadn’t made Sam throw all of the envelopes out; they would have backed up Sam’s story. Hindsight was 20/20, he supposed.

“Is she going to try to press charges for something?” Sam asked when they were done going over the story.

“No,” Lafitte replied. “When she came to, she agreed that y’all hadn’t hurt her physically.”

Sam was already too much of a lawyer to let out a sigh of relief, but Gabriel found himself doing it for him. He’d been terrified that Becky would lie about what happened and somehow get Sam in trouble.

“But,” Lafitte said, and Gabriel glanced up at him sharply, “She does claim that you’re her true mate, and that she collapsed due to pining sickness. So far, the doc agrees with her.”

“What!?” Gabriel shouted, nearly jumping out of his chair.

“Forgive me, detectives, but that’s ludicrous,” Sam said with a great deal more diplomacy, if no less heat. “Gabriel and I are true mates.” He set a hand on Gabriel’s shoulder and squeezed it possessively. “As far as I know, it’s impossible to have two.”

“Do you have proof of the fact that you two are true mates?” Detective Henriksen asked.

Gabriel looked at Sam, who frowned and admitted, “No. We didn’t do genetic compatibility testing before we mated, because we already knew what we were.”

“Unfortunately,” Lafitte rumbled calmly, “That means that, as long as her doc doesn’t change his mind, you’re required to visit her in the hospital for a minimum of an hour every other day. Officially, she needs to get a court order, and, after that, we could force you to go. We’d be obliged to ya if you’d be willin’ to go without a fuss; easier on everyone involved.”

“No way! She’s totally faking it!” Gabriel interjected. He ducked out from under Sam’s hand and leapt to his feet, shaking his finger at Detective Lafitte because he wasn’t suicidal enough to wave it at Henricksen. “You can’t make someone go see their stalker!”

“Gabriel.” Sam sounded a whole lot more calm than Gabriel felt. “They can, actually; the law was passed a couple of decades ago after an Omega died because her true mate refused to see her.” He stood, and gently wrapped his arms around Gabriel, who could actually smell the burning scent coming off of himself at this point. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only thing I can do in response is to get a court order for a DNA test to prove that we’re not true mates and therefore she won’t be harmed if she’s forced to stay away from me.”

The two detectives nodded. “If you agree to be reasonable about this,” Lafitte told him, unaffected by Gabriel’s posturing, “And not fight the visitation, we’ve got a sample of her DNA already. We could take a sample from ya and run them in the lab, since it’s obvious we’ll have to do it anyway at some point. Otherwise, if you’re right, you’ll prolly have to fight her in court to get a sample.”

Gabriel felt Sam nod slowly. “How long will the test take?” he asked the detectives, pulling Gabriel back against his chest.

Detective Lafitte gave him a sympathetic look. “Prolly a couple a’ months,” he admitted. “If I were you, I’d have your doctors do a genetic test on the two of you. If that comes back sayin’ you’re true mates, some judge’d prolly be willin’ to stop the mandatory visits until our results come back.”

Gabriel’s heart sunk. It was his fault they didn’t have money for frivolities like genetic testing right now. And yes, he could just ask for some from his parents (who were loaded), but that would feel like defeat. “Well,” Sam said, “I guess take my DNA, then, and we’ll see what we can do.” He pulled Gabriel with him as he sat down again, so that the Omega ended up in his lap. “As long as you put the sample in the queue right away, I’ll agree to make the visitations willingly until a judge says otherwise.”

“Okay. This will only take a minute.” Henriksen was the one who pulled out gloves and a sterile DNA swab. As soon as he had everything ready to go, including a labeled evidence bag, Sam opened his mouth and let the detective swab it. Gabriel just concentrated on not growling at Henricksen, no matter how much he wanted to.

“All done,” Henricksen announced a few minutes later, putting the swab back into its container and then into the bag and sealing it. “Thank you for your cooperation.”

“You’re welcome,” Sam said. “I assume you know what hospital and room she’s at? And who will be keeping track of when and for how long I visit? I’d prefer that a neutral party confirms that.”

Detective Lafitte gave him the hospital and room number--Becky was apparently at the university hospital--and explained that Sam could check in and out with the nurses. A hospital security guard would escort Sam during his visit to make sure nothing untoward happened. “All a judge can require you to do is sit in a visitor’s chair near her bed. You don’t have to speak or do anythin’ else, but you can’t be wearin’ scent blockers, obviously.”

“Can I take medication to reduce my own sense of smell?” Sam asked. “I have a very sensitive nose.”

“Sure,” Lafitte nodded. “No rule about that.”

Gabriel’s heart soared when Sam asked, “Can Gabriel come with me?” The Omega quickly looked over at the detectives, who both appeared dubious.

“As long as the doc don’t say he can’t, I suppose he can,” Benny said after thinking. “But if he started anything, the hospital’d be well within their rights to ask him to leave.”

“I can behave myself,” Gabriel stated flatly, eyes narrowed at Detective Lafitte.

Sam chuckled, and pulled him closer. “Don’t worry. I know how to keep him quiet and make sure my scent’s strong enough for scent therapy.”

Gabriel’s eyes went wide, and he jerked his head around to stare at Sam. “Sam! Did you just sugge--” and then Sam was kissing him and smelling just the slightest bit smug.

“See?” Sam asked, eyes twinkling when he finally pulled away.

Lafitte let out a belly laugh. “As long as you’re prepared for her to complain to her doctor that that makes her pinin’ sickness worse,” he said, climbing to his feet. Henricksen followed his lead.

“She can complain all she wants,” Sam replied with a shrug, standing and setting Gabriel down. “But no law says what it is I have to be doing when I’m making regular scent visits. And I wouldn’t want my actual true mate to get pining sickness because his imagination conjured up all sorts of awful things I could be doing with some other Omega every other day for an hour.”

As Gabriel stared up at Sam, he decided he wouldn’t bother to employ what little brain-to-mouth filter he had this time. “Could you two show yourselves out? Because right now I really have to show my Alpha just how much I love him.”

The detectives laughed, and left, promising to call Sam with the results of the test as soon as they had them.

Gabriel immediately turned to Sam and started working on the button of his jeans. “Where were we before they so rudely interrupted us?” he mused.

“Gabriel, I’m not complaining, but shouldn’t we talk about--”

Later,” Gabriel growled, flashing gold eyes up at Sam. “Go get in our nest, Alpha. I’ll make sure the door’s locked and then join you.”

“...Yes, Omega,” Sam replied meekly. He obeyed, too.

Chapter Text

Neither Gabriel nor Sam was in the best of moods when they finally made their way to the hospital a day later. Gabriel wanted to be there, to see what was said between Becky and Sam, but he also wasn’t sure he could fully control himself. Challenges between Omegas had been rare in the distant past, but not unheard of--and he didn’t doubt he could take Becky in a fight. Of course, such a thing wasn’t Done and they had to be all Civilized or some shit now. He kicked a rock to show it what he thought of being civilized.

Gabriel must have also growled under his breath without realizing it again, because Sam shot him a quelling look. He immediately felt guilty: many people believed that an ill-behaved Omega, even though it really should only be held against the Omega in question, reflected on the Alpha. Gabriel didn’t want to make Sam look or feel bad, but this situation was bringing out the worst in him.

Sam reached over and set a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it before letting go. Gabriel tried to remind himself that Sam didn’t want to have to go through this any more than he did, but it wasn’t Sam’s status as his true mate that was being challenged. Still, when they climbed into the elevator for the trip up to the floor Becky was on, Gabriel was happy to be pulled back against Sam, and even happier when Sam leaned down to whisper in his ear, “Just remember I love you. No matter what.”

Gabriel let out a long sigh. Leaning back into Sam’s arms, he replied quietly, “I love you, too.” He wished the elevator ride would last forever, but of course all too soon they were climbing out.

Sam found the nurse’s station nearest Becky’s room and explained who he was and why he was there. She sniffed him to make sure he wasn’t wearing scent-blockers (Gabriel frowned), and then asked him to wait while she called security. Sam took a few steps back, pulling Gabriel with him. “I hate this,” Gabriel told him.

“Me too.” Sam replied. “But maybe she’ll have a change of heart once she meets you.” He didn’t sound particularly convinced, and Gabriel let him know how probable he thought that was with a snort.

Too soon, a burly Alpha security guard had arrived, and led them into Becky’s room. Gabriel had to give the bitch this much--she honestly looked sick. She was emaciated, with sunken eyes and pale skin. Sam looked around, and then took a seat in a chair near her bed. He let Gabriel decide whether to sit in a chair next to him or on his lap; after a short hesitation, Gabriel took the seat next to him. He knew that Sam wanted to try to talk to her, and he’d have more luck without Gabriel distracting him. The security guard leaned up against the wall next to Gabriel.

After a minute or two, Becky stirred. “...Alpha?” she mumbled. “...bring me...rolls?” She blinked her eyes open, and Gabriel couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the stereotypical picture of Omega helplessness she presented. He immediately hated her and her stupid dyed, messed-up hair, emaciated or not.

Sam took a deep breath. “I’m not your Alpha, Becky,” he said evenly. “And I didn’t bring you food. You’re smelling my mate--my true mate, Gabriel.” He set a hand on Gabriel’s back.

Becky ignored his statement--and Gabriel. “Alpha. You came,” she said, breaking into a bright smile as if she hadn’t heard his previous statement. “I knew you wouldn’t leave me.” Gabriel had to grit his teeth so he didn’t growl at her.

Sam ignored her statement as thoroughly as she’d ignored his. “Becky. Where are your parents?”

“Dead. Car crash,” she said dreamily, looking over at Sam with doe-eyes. “There’s just you for me now, Sam.” Gabriel hated her for playing to Sam’s protective Alpha instincts.

Sam frowned. “Any other family?”

Becky shook her head. “Just you, Alpha. Please--I want to go home. Take me home?”

“Becky,” Sam said with more patience than Gabriel had in his entire body, “Listen to me. I know you think that I’m your true mate. But I’m not. Gabriel, here, is my true mate.” Becky’s eyes didn’t even move in Gabriel’s direction. “We’re having a test done to prove it, but...you can’t be pining for me. Have you smelled any other Alphas recently?” Gabriel realized that Sam thought she actually had pining sickness, and he rolled his eyes again. Couldn’t Sam tell she was faking it?

“No, only you,” Becky answered quickly, shaking her head. “I saw you, in that commercial, and I remembered you and knew you were my Alpha, and then I smelled you when you were out jogging. You smell so good, Sam. I’m such a lucky Omega.”

“Becky...when was your parents’ car crash?” Sam asked.

“March.” Even Gabriel had to wince at that. No wonder she was so messed up, if she’d lost her parents only a few months ago. He hated himself, but he actually felt a little sorry for her.

“I’m sorry,” and for once Gabriel didn’t begrudge the sympathy in Sam’s tone. “But Becky, I don’t think you’re well.”

“That’s because I’m pining for you, silly,” Becky told him. “But now you’re here and you can take me home and mate me and we’ll have so many pups! What do you think about naming one Danielle, after my mother?”

Sam stared at Becky; Gabriel didn’t think he’d ever seen Sam well and truly speechless before. He could hardly blame him, though. Sam was right; Becky was delusional, and it wasn’t completely clear if she knew it or not. As she continued to prattle on, about how if he didn’t like Danielle they could potentially name one of their boys Danny instead, Sam looked, first to Gabriel, and then to the security guard, who just shrugged. Not his problem, clearly.

Sam waited until Becky had wound herself down on the topic of pups. “I’m not here to take you home, Becky. I’m here for an hour-long scent therapy visit every other day, because if and when you get a lawyer, they’ll get a court order for it. But I am already mated, very happily, to Gabriel here. Look.” He pulled down the collar of his shirt, so she could clearly see his mating bite. “And when the DNA test comes back, it’s going to show that we aren’t true mates. I’m sorry, but you need to start thinking about what you’re going to do when it does. Because if we aren’t true mates you can’t be pining for me.”

“I know you believe all that, Sam, but you’re wrong. You’ll see,” Becky told him, shaking her head. “You don’t really love him, you just think you do. I’ll be a proper Omega to you. I’d never mark your beautiful skin like that, and I won’t follow you everywhere you go because I’ll always trust you, Sam, no matter what.”

“Why you--” Gabriel growled, and suddenly found the heavy hand of the security guard on his shoulder. He realized he’d started to stand up, and sat back down. The security guard gave Gabriel an amused look, and Gabriel glared at him in return.

“Gabriel.” The Omega couldn’t believe how calm Sam sounded; he wanted to chew nails. And spit them at Becky. Like a machine gun. Sam reached out to turn Gabriel’s face away from the security guard and toward him; the Omega allowed it, but narrowed his eyes for good measure. “Please don’t get yourself thrown out of here. I want you here with me. Remember what I told you before we came in.” I love you, no matter what, Gabriel remembered, and his glare softened. Sam smiled at him. “That’s right, babe.” Sam leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead.

Once Gabriel was no longer about to launch himself at Becky, Sam turned back to her. “I love Gabriel and everything he does, including his mating bites. Now. I came in here to see if I could help you realize that you need help--from a therapist, not a doctor. Right now, I’m still willing to try to talk with you. But so help me, Becky if you insult my mate--if you insult Gabriel Winchester one more time, I won’t say another word to you until I’m waving the DNA report in your face and telling you I told you so.”

Gabriel’s eyes widened in astonishment, and then he began to grin. Score one for Sam! He knew there was a reason he loved the Alpha.

Becky gaped at Sam like a fish. “But--but--” She finally actually looked, really looked, over at Gabriel, and began to frown. “Why on Earth would you even want him? His face is all...crooked, and he does not have proper birthing hips.” She sneered at Gabriel, and he returned the look with interest.

“Enough,” Sam snapped, in his Alpha voice, and Becky’s eyes went wide and she quieted immediately. Gabriel smirked at her, mostly because he could. “We’re done talking.”

Gabriel wanted to do a little dance as Sam resolutely stared across the room instead of at Becky; there was no way she could start the conversation up again without making a liar of herself and disobeying ‘her’ Alpha.

Gabriel considered climbing into Sam’s lap, or starting up an unrelated conversation (although he wasn’t sure he really wanted Becky to overhear anything they might say to one another). At that moment, though, Sam moved his arm, and Gabriel had an idea. It was like that one scene in the Grinch, but instead of his heart growing three sizes, Gabriel became Petty Prince Pettiness, ruler of all Pettyville. And he embraced it as he reached out and gently pulled Sam’s injured arm to him. Sam had taken the bandage off so that the wound could get some air, and the ointment had long since rubbed off.

Sam let him have the arm, though he gave him an odd look. Gabriel wasn’t paying attention to his mate, however. Instead, he made eye contact with Becky. And then stuck his tongue out. And began licking Sam’s injured forearm. Sam made a low, surprised noise, but didn’t pull his arm away. Becky glared daggers at Gabriel. No, not just daggers, full-on broadswords. If looks could kill, Gabriel would have a DNR order stapled to his forehead.

He was surprised at not only how intimate it felt, but how right. He’d licked his own wounds occasionally, and this was really no different aside from the taste, which was obviously Sam’s and not his. He felt the scabs loosen a little as he worked, making them more pliant, which would help the skin grow back faster. He worked his saliva in, making sure the wound wouldn’t get infected. In almost no time at all, he’d forgotten why he was licking Sam’s arm and had just closed his eyes and surrendered to the process.

After a while, he realized that Sam was slowly running his other hand through his hair, and that Gabriel was purring. He blinked his eyes open in surprise, and looked up to find Sam giving him a slightly dopey smile. Apparently, his mate was thoroughly enjoying the intimate gesture. In that moment, they may have been in the middle of a hospital surrounded by other people, but only the two of them existed.

Of course, Sam’s phone alarm went off as they stared at each other. Gabriel sat back, surprised--he knew Sam had set it for an hour. Just how long had he been licking Sam’s arm? He chanced a look over at Becky, and actually felt himself pale slightly. Judging by the look on her face, yes, he’d been caring for Sam’s wound for the better part of an hour. He’d honestly completely lost track of time.

Sam looked to the security guard, and stood up. “Goodbye, Becky,” he said in a tone that made Gabriel shiver. “I would highly recommend you ask your doctor about a good therapist.” Ouch. Gabriel got up and led the way out of the room, though he could sense Sam close behind him.

Sam took the lead once they were back in the hallway, making his way over to the nurses’ station. “I need to check out,” he explained, “But I also want to make it clear that I believe she should be seen by a psychologist. She apparently lost her parents recently, and she’s under the mistaken impression that we’re true mates. I’m already mated,” he said, gesturing to Gabriel, “And I can’t even stand her scent; there’s no way that we’re true mates. The police are doing a genetic compatibility test, and I’m really concerned about how she’ll react when she finds out she can’t possibly be pining for me.”

The nurse at the station nodded. “I’ll leave a note for her doctor,” she promised, “but as you’re probably aware, there are privacy and other concerns with issues like this.”

“I know,” Sam said, softening his tone. “But I want her to get help. I don’t want her to be devastated when the reality she’s constructed in her head comes crashing down.”

“We’ll see what we can do,” the nurse promised. Sam nodded, and then turned to Gabriel. He gathered the Omega into a brief hug before interlacing their fingers and leading him back toward the elevator.

Gabriel studied Sam as they headed back down to the main floor. The Alpha looked exhausted, and it was still morning. After his absence yesterday, Gabriel really had to make more than just a token appearance at the bakery. Unfortunately, he knew Sam wouldn’t go home without him; Sam had refused to let the Omega out of his sight ever since he’d run into Becky. Normally, that would annoy Gabriel, but after seeing for himself how messed up the other Omega was, he could see why Sam was concerned for him.

Gabriel had his own concerns, though he didn’t give voice to them until they’d climbed back in the car. “What if she’s right?” he asked suddenly, unable to stop himself from blurting it out.

“What?” Sam turned to look at him, confusion written all over his face.

“What if we’re wrong, and she really is your true mate?”

“Gabriel. If she really was my true mate, I’d be pining for her, not sneezing whenever I get close because I can’t stand her scent,” Sam pointed out calmly.

“Yeah, but...I mean, what if she really were?” Gabriel persisted.

Sam shook his head. “Not much would change. They could force me to make regular scent visits. I wouldn’t have to mate her or...oh, Gabriel.” The Omega didn’t realize he was crying until Sam put his arms around him and pulled him close. “They couldn’t make me give you up, don’t worry. You’re my mate, and nothing is going to change that. Ever.”

Gabriel wiped at his eyes and sniffled, hating the hormones that made him susceptible to bursting into tears. Sam gave him a moment or two to collect himself, and then released him in order to start the car. “By the way,” the Alpha said, sounding almost embarrassed, “I...liked what you did in there. No one’s ever done that for me before.”

It took Gabriel a few seconds to figure out what Sam meant, and then he felt himself blush. “Oh...that. It just felt right. But I’m glad you liked it.” Making a snap decision, he turned back to face the front as they pulled out of the parking lot. “Let’s stop at Starbucks on the way to Sprinkles!”

“Gabriel, we said we were going to save money--”

“I know what we said. But we’re going to splurge, just this once. You look exhausted, and we’ve both been working hard. We deserve it,” Gabriel insisted. “And the construction so far is coming in under bid.”

Sam groaned. “You know it won’t stay that way,” he warned Gabriel. Apparently the Omega had convinced him, however, because Sam changed lanes so that he could turn into the nearest Starbucks.

Chapter Text

Gabriel glanced at the clock. 2:30 AM. With a sigh, he gently extricated himself from Sam’s octopus-like hold, and replaced himself with his pillow. His Alpha had tried hard to distract him last night, but it hadn’t worked. Today was the grand opening of Sprinkles! (yes, the exclamation point was important), and Gabriel couldn’t sleep. He knew he’d regret it later, but for now, he padded around the room, getting dressed as quietly as he could before returning to the nest to watch Sam sleep.

Sam’s face, where it was half pressed into a pillow, was smooth, and it made Gabriel smile. Sam was the one that wasn’t supposed to be stressed out this summer, but it hadn’t ended up that way. The DNA test hadn’t come back yet, which meant that Sam was still making regular visits to Becky, now at an outpatient clinic since she’d ‘recovered’ from the pining sickness thanks to his scent visits. Gabriel allowed himself to glower. He hadn’t gone with Sam every time--he’d been too busy with Sprinkles!--but he’d gone enough to know that Becky wasn’t any more sane than she had been to begin with. Sam had tried to help her, but she’d refused in order to stay in her imaginary world.

“Must be nice in there,” he muttered to himself as he slipped out of their bedroom. Marching into the office, he wrote a quick note and then left it on the table where Sam would see it. He raided the refrigerator for an energy drink--he didn’t feel like eating, yet, and besides, there would be plenty to eat at Sprinkles! if he wanted--and cracked it open while dialling a car service that ferried Omegas safely from one location to another. It was, perhaps, an unnecessary expense, but he didn’t want to wake Sam and, even though they were just a few blocks from the bakery, Gabriel wasn’t about to walk that distance at three in the morning.

He might not always learn every lesson the universe tried to teach him, but he had definitely learned that one. Besides, if Sam thought he wasn’t using the service… Sam had gradually let him spend more time by himself as Becky proved to not be the threat to Gabriel Sam had thought she was, but that didn’t mean Sam wanted him walking down the street on his own in the middle of the night.

And rightly so. Gabriel shuddered as he took a swig from the can and made his way into the elevator. He could still remember Gordon’s voice as he asked for the time and then the medical scent of chloroform as a rag soaked in it covered his nose and mouth. Was it safe for him to walk from his apartment to his bakery? Probably, but he wasn’t going to take that chance. Not when he could still hear Alistair’s awful voice whispering into his ear about what would have happened to him in Mexico.

He made a face. “Get a grip, Gabe,” he told himself, frowning at the can of liquid caffeine. The elevator dinged, and he let himself out, walking over to the doorway. He waited there for the car to pull up; his phone would beep to signal that it was the correct one.

When it did, he left the apartment and practically skipped out to the car. “Hey, Tessa,” he said as he opened the passenger door--this wasn’t the first time he’d been unable to sleep and in need of a ride.

“Hey Gabe.” He liked the Beta; she was nice. “Couldn’t sleep?”

“Nope,” he agreed, closing the door and fastening his seat belt. “And today’s the big day!”

“That’s great,” the dark-haired woman enthused, putting the car back into gear. “I’ll be sure to come by later, once you’re open. Didn’t want to wake the old ball and chain up?”

“Nope,” Gabriel replied, popping the ‘p.’ “Sam’s been working really hard, and he needs the sleep. He gets grumpy otherwise,” he added, winking at her.

Tessa laughed, and shook her head. “We wouldn’t want that,” she said as she drove the few blocks to Sprinkles! “Though somehow, I just can’t picture him getting mad at you.”

“He doesn’t,” Gabriel agreed. “He just gets,” and here he shuddered, “...disappointed.”

“Oh, dear,” Tessa replied. “That’s worse.”

“Way worse,” Gabriel agreed as she pulled around to the back door of the bakery. He unbuckled his seat belt and hopped out. “Thanks for the ride, as always, and maybe I’ll see you later.”

“I’ll be there,” Tessa promised before he closed the door. She made no move to move the car, though; she always made certain that Gabriel had unlocked the door and gone in to the bakery before she left. Sure, it was standard for the service’s drivers, but Gabriel still appreciated it--especially now, when the headlights of the car made it that much easier for him to use his keys.

He heard Tessa drive away as he closed the door behind him and flipped on the lights. “This is it!” he announced to the appliances. He considered his aprons, and then tied on the one that read, “I drank the candlestick maker under the table.” He made some notes in the log, booted up the computer system, looked at the inventory (although he practically had it memorized) and started baking.

.oOOo.

Jack and Sam arrived at a more reasonable hour, within minutes of one another. Jack threw on an apron and started helping Gabriel right away, but Sam walked over to greet his Omega first. “You used the car service?” he asked quietly, slipping his arms around Gabriel from behind.

Gabriel leaned back into him, and looked up, nodding. “Yeah,” he confirmed. “I promised I would.”

“Thank you. I love you. Today’s going to be amazing,” Sam told him, leaning down to peck at his lips.

Gabriel allowed the kiss, and then playfully pushed Sam away. “Not if I don’t get baking!” he exclaimed, pointing Sam toward the aprons. Sam was still not allowed to do any baking, but he fetched large sacks of flour and sugar from the store room and would be running the till later. He was also allowed to brew the coffee; he made a pot for them when Gabriel’s energy drink ran out--though only he and Gabriel partook; Jack seemed to have enough energy for all three of them without ever touching caffeine.

Once Gabriel and Jack had all they needed to work, Sam double-checked the front part of the store. It had a handful of colorful chairs and tables for anyone who wanted to sit down, in addition to the counter and display cases. There was wi-fi, but the password changed daily and customers had to ask for it--although for the grand opening, the password was chalked on one of many signs Gabriel had put up. The display cases were already full of loaves of bread, cookies, cupcakes, dinner rolls, baguettes, pies, brownies, bars, and even doughnuts. When Gabriel made an ‘all-purpose’ bakery, he made one that had literally anything you could bake. He had designed the store as a place to bring pups--pups under fifteen years old got a free sugar cookie (with sprinkles) with their parents’ purchase. Or, because Sam was involved, a free carrot-oatmeal cookie (with sprinkles, because Gabriel still had standards). And of course, right next to the cash register, in pride of place, was a small mountain of delicious cinnamon rolls Gabriel had baked this morning. It made the whole place smell like him, and Sam loved it.

Sam checked the cash register, making sure they had enough change, and glanced over all of the signs to make sure everything was ready to go and properly priced when they opened. He didn’t have much of an eye for decoration, but Gabriel certainly did; the place looked and felt amazing--warm and welcoming without being stifling.

Gabriel allowed Sam to cut up various desserts and loaves to create ‘free samples,’ of which they’d be giving out lots today. The plan was for Gabriel to man the area in front of the display cases, while Jack encouraged passers-by outside to come in and try free samples. Sam would ring people up if they bought anything.

Sam had no idea what to expect. He hoped, for Gabriel’s sake, that today went well, but he couldn’t help but worry about the sheer amount of food Gabriel and Jack had made for the first day. Unless today exceeded their expectations by quite a lot, they’d end up wasting a lot of it. Well, not wasting; Gabriel had contacted a local homeless shelter, and he had made arrangements to donate the day-old food to them at the end of the day. Which was all well and good for the shelter, but Gabriel needed to make money, or Sprinkles! wouldn’t be open long enough for those donations to make much of a difference. They had done a lot of advertising on social media and the like, but Sam didn’t know how much of a difference that would make.

He walked back into the back to find Gabriel practically vibrating from nerves (and caffeine)--they planned to open the bakery at 7, and it was almost six. Gabriel was tapping his shoe against the floor as he iced some cupcakes. “Jack! What are you doing? I said to put the sesame seeds on the buns, not on the rolls!” he snapped uncharacteristically.

From the hurt look Jack gave him when he turned around, Sam was fairly sure that Gabriel hadn’t told him any such thing. “Gabe,” Sam chided softly, putting his arms around his Omega and pulling him back into his arms again.

Gabriel blinked, and then sighed. “Sorry!” he said. “Sorry!” His voice actually managed to be shrill when he repeated the word. “I’m just--I’m sorry, Jack, I didn’t mean to snap at you.”

“That’s okay, Mr. Gabriel,” Jack said politely. “I know you just want everything to be perfect today.”

“Nothing’s ever perfect,” Sam rumbled, cutting Gabriel’s reply off. “But it’s going to go well, regardless of where those seeds are, now isn’t it?”

Gabriel slumped against Sam. “Yes,” he admitted. “Sorry,” he added, in a more normal tone of voice.

Sam leaned down and kissed Gabriel on top of the head before releasing him. “It’s all right. No one is at their best when they’re stressed out. But I don’t want you to lose your best employee, babe.” Jack beamed at Sam’s compliment from across the room, even though he was still their only employee.

“You’re right. I’m sorry, Jack. Just...keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll finish these cupcakes.”

“Okay, Mr. Gabriel.” Sam loved Jack’s name for his mate; Mr. Gabriel was just so...fitting. And adorable, not that he’d ever tell Gabriel. He knew he should probably be a little jealous of Jack, as close as he was to his Omega, but Sam also knew Gabriel wasn’t interested in anyone but him. He couldn’t fathom why, but the whiskey-eyed man only ever gave Sam the look he was giving him now--the look that made Sam really wish they had more time before Sprinkles! opened.

Unfortunately, it was time to brew the coffee for guests--Sprinkles! didn’t carry many beverages, but customers who ‘dined’ in could get water, coffee, and bottled juices from a local juice bar. Sam vaguely wondered if anyone would drink any of the decaf, but he brewed a pot of it along with the normal stuff and filled the two machines, which sat near the register. Next, he opened up the blinds, letting light into the store, before heading back to the back, where Gabriel was shoving another tray of sugar cookies into the oven. “It’s almost time,” Sam told them. “Jack, you should probably take one of your breaks before we open.”

“Okay, Mr. Winchester.” They had a break area in the back which had a fridge for their lunches and an area to plug in cell phone chargers and the like. Jack took off his apron and headed in that direction.

Gabriel gave Sam a look that suggested he might be sick. “What if I’ve forgotten--” he started, but Sam leaned in and interrupted him with a kiss. “...You make a very convincing argument,” Gabriel murmured, when they finally broke apart.

Sam laughed. “I’d better, if I’m going to be a lawyer,” he said. “You go check things out front. Anything back here that still needs to be done that I can do?”

“We could use another sack of sugar,” Gabriel instructed. He glanced in a mirror and swiped some flour off of his cheek, then headed toward the front. Sam just smiled as he walked back to the storeroom to retrieve the sugar.

.oOOo.

Kelly Kline was their first customer that morning. She walked over and hugged Gabriel right off the bat. “Thank you so much for giving my little boy a job,” she told him.

“He’s worth every penny,” Gabriel replied. “You raised him really well.”

“God knows I tried,” she laughed, pulling away and shaking her head. “It was touch-and-go there for a bit, but… Wow,” she added, looking around. “This place is amazing! And you have everything! And you’re so close to our apartment!”

“Thanks,” Gabriel said, beaming. “And thanks for putting up with the, ah, ‘half-baked’ trials that didn’t work out for the last month or two. Pun completely intended, of course.”

“Are you kidding? Not having to buy all that saved us so much money,” Kelly told Sam’s mate as a couple of potential customers wandered in, directed by Jack to the plates of free samples. “You want to get their whole wheat bread; you won’t regret it,” Kelly told them.

Gabriel laughed. “You sure you don’t work here?” he asked Kelly. “Speaking of which, if you really don’t mind working with your son, we’d love to have you. Even just part time.”

“I’ll think about it, but you should go talk to your other customers,” Kelly told him, smiling and making her way over to Sam.

“So, a loaf of whole wheat, anything else?” Sam asked her, grinning.

“Let’s see, half a dozen dinner rolls and...I’d better get a baguette; I’ll do spaghetti with garlic bread tomorrow,” Kelly told him as he sliced her loaf. “Thank you, too, by the way,” she added as he rang her up and she handed over some cash. “Jack looks up to you. With his dad out of the picture, it’s nice that he has some male role models.”

Sam gave her back her change and handed over the bag. “Like Gabriel said, Jack’s a hard worker and a really good kid. I’ll be happy if my pups turn out half as good as he has,” he joked, winking at her as she stepped out of the way so a couple of college kids could buy some danishes.

“I’m sure they will,” Kelly told him as he quickly rang the college students up before pouring them coffee. “Are you planning to start trying soon?”

Sam shrugged, and glanced over at Gabriel, who was entertaining some commuters who were chewing free samples thoughtfully. “It’s up to him. It might be better to wait until I’m finished with law school, but...it’s not as if I’ll be that much less busy once I’m done with that. Speaking of pups,” he added. “Hey, Cas!” He’d just spotted the tall Omega walking in, carrying little Mary.

“Hi, Sam!” Cas made his way to the cash register before looking around. “Wow, you’ve done wonders with this place!”

“It was mostly Gabriel,” Sam told him. “Kelly, this is Castiel, my brother’s mate, and my niece Mary. Cas, this is Kelly; she’s Jack’s mom.”

“Oh, the boy outside,” Cas agreed, shifting Mary to his other arm so he could shake Kelly’s hand. “I’ve heard a lot about him--all good,” he hastened to add. “I heard you raised him on your own. I can’t imagine raising Mary here by myself.”

The two Omegas instantly dove into a conversation about pups while Sam rang up more customers; Jack was convincing a solid percentage of the passers-by to at least come in and have a free sample. Almost everyone who took a free sample ended up buying something, which Sam was happy about.

Gabriel, of course, came barrelling over with a sugar cookie as soon as he spotted Cas and his niece. He completely ignored Cas’ explanation for why Dean couldn’t come (he was working a double shift), and instead grabbed Mary and started feeding her bits of frosted cookie. Sam couldn’t help but laugh as she enjoyed herself--and made a huge mess. “Definitely Dean’s daughter,” he said. “Next thing you know, she’ll be demanding pie.”

“Pie?” the tiny pup repeated hopefully, making them all laugh.

“Not until after dinner, sweetie,” Cas admonished her, using a wet-wipe to undo some of the damage Sam’s mate and his frosted cookie was doing. There was a brief lull in terms of customers, and they all enjoyed watching Mary eat a surprising amount of her cookie while Gabriel cooed over her.

Soon, Mary started demanding to be put ‘Down!’ so she could, ‘Play!’ Of course, upon being set down, she promptly toddled as fast as her little legs could carry her away from the three Omegas. Gabriel and Kelly laughed while Cas gave chase, looking flustered.

“You can always just drop her off here; we can look after her while you’re shopping,” Gabriel called to Cas as he finally managed to scoop Mary up. Sam winced slightly; while he’d love to babysit his niece, Sprinkles! was hardly an appropriate place for a tiny pup when he and Gabriel were busy working.

Castiel straightened up and seemed to consider Gabriel’s offer; given his answer, Dean had been working with him on tact again. “I will keep that in mind,” he said finally, bouncing Mary as she began to cry (great, Sam thought, her first sugar-induced meltdown, and it’s all our fault…). “In the meantime…”

“You’re not allowed to come home without pie,” Sam finished Cas’ sentence. He slid two pies, already boxed up, across the counter to the dark-haired man. “What else do you want?”

“One loaf of white bread, and one of wheat, please,” Castiel replied, smiling at his brother-in-law as he calmed Mary down.

Sam sighed. “Dean is still such a child sometimes,” he said, slicing the loaves for Castiel and then wrapping them up and putting them in a bag with the boxes. “He won’t eat bread that ‘is contaminated with seeds and stuff,’” Sam explained to Kelly, who laughed.

“Dean-o doesn’t know what he’s missing,” Gabriel opined, before going to talk to some potential customers about the difference between his raspberry bars with chocolate and his raspberry chocolate bars.

Cas and Kelly eventually left, and Sprinkles! continued to attract a steady flow of curious people. Around noon, a local news crew showed up and did an interview with Gabriel and some of the customers. Sam watched Gabriel fondly, chuckling when the news anchor made a rather questionable noise upon trying one of Gabriel’s special cinnamon rolls. The Omega was, as always, perfect in front of the camera, and Sam found himself zoning out for a moment or two, watching his mate work the crowd.

When he finally looked around again, Sam could see how this sort of life appealed to Gabriel. Not only was he sharing his talent with the world (and making money in the process), but Gabriel got to talk to everyone who came in, learning about them and what they needed/wanted in a local bakery. He was a surprisingly good salesman, and talked more than one person into buying more than they had initially wanted. Sam, meanwhile, was content being behind the register rather than the center of everyone’s attention.

That afternoon, Chuck came in to say hello and do some writing, jokingly deploring the fact that he now had to pay for his son’s treats. His presence (which had apparently been announced on social media) attracted a few of his fans, and while Sprinkles! wasn’t as crowded that afternoon as it had been that morning, they still had a decent number of people coming in and out of the shop. A few students emulated Chuck and began working at their own tables, too, ordering a steady stream of muffins, cookies, and coffee.

Sam forced Gabriel to take a long lunch break, which included a nap in addition to the (nutritious) lunch Sam had packed for him. He and Jack then traded off ‘lunch’ breaks that afternoon.

Chuck eventually left, after bidding his youngest good luck, but not before declaring Sprinkles! an excellent place in which to write and noting that he would be back. A reporter appeared from a local paper, and Sam let him into the back to speak with Gabriel, who was already working on making dough for tomorrow. Sam smiled as he heard his mate go on about how they had sourced as much as they could locally, were employing locals, and the like.

Jack earned every penny he made that day, cycling from the back to the front depending on what Gabriel needed. Gabriel was careful not to snap at him again, and Sam appreciated the fact that, when Gabriel asked Jack to do something, Jack didn’t check with Sam first--he just did it. He knew that tomorrow, when he had to go have a scent visit with Becky, Gabriel would be in good hands with Jack.

Eventually, Gabriel flipped the ‘Open’ sign on the front door to ‘Closed’ and locked it. He turned around, and beamed at Sam and Jack. “We did it!” he said excitedly, running and leaping into Sam’s arms.

Sam made an ‘oomph’ sound as he caught his mate. “No, Gabriel, you did it,” he replied, kissing his mate’s flour-covered nose. “And I am so proud of you. This was a huge success!”

“It was!” Jack agreed, setting a hand on Gabriel’s shoulder. “If we can keep this up, we should do really well! But we’ll need some more people to help us.”

“We will,” Sam agreed. “Today was great, but long...and we have to do it all over again tomorrow.” Their Grand Opening specials and free samples lasted for a week.

“Yeah, but we can space things out better,” Gabriel pointed out. “We won’t normally need two people in the front area; just one of us can handle it most of the time. Jack is much more helpful than you in the mornings and in the evenings, when we’re actually baking or getting things ready to bake for the next day. I think what we should do is have me and Jack here every morning, Sam here every afternoon and evening, and then Jack and I can trade off afternoons and evenings. At least, until we can hire some more people, if we end up needing them.”

“I think we’re going to need at least one more person,” Sam replied, setting Gabriel back down on his feet and then ruffling his hair. “Especially if you’re still set on being open six days a week. Jack’s going to earn a whole lot of overtime this week.”

“I think Mom was honestly interested in working here,” Jack said, “And afternoon is probably a good time for her to work. I’ll talk with her, and tell you what she says tomorrow?”

“That sounds good. Now, get out of here, your shift is more than finished,” Gabriel said, softening his words with a grin. “Sam and I will clean up and get everything ready for the morning.”

“Okay, Mr. Gabriel,” Jack said, pulling off his apron and heading toward the back. “Congratulations again!”

“Thank you, Jack; see you tomorrow morning,” Gabriel said, giving him a little wave before turning to Sam. “You clean up out here and deal with the money while I do a quick inventory and then set up the back for tomorrow morning?”

“Sure,” Sam replied, turning to fetch a cloth to use to wipe the tables down. “The muffins did surprisingly well, I think.”

“Yeah, I noticed that too,” Gabriel responded, grabbing a clipboard and making notes on what they had and hadn’t sold while Sam cleaned up. “Especially the chocolate-chocolate chip ones. But the chocolate-chocolate chip cookies didn’t sell as well as the plain chocolate chip ones.”

“There’s no accounting for taste.” Sam and Gabriel cleaned up, put money in the safe, got everything ready for tomorrow morning, dropped some goods off at the homeless shelter (not nearly as much as Sam had feared), and then went home. Sam had plans for what he was going to do to reward his Omega for his success, but Gabriel fell asleep at the table halfway through dinner. Chuckling quietly, Sam picked him up, took him to their nest, undressed him, and tucked him in. He leaned down to kiss Gabriel’s forehead before turning off the light and making his way back to the dinner table to finish eating. There was always Tuesday--the one day of the week Sprinkles! wasn’t open.