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Messenger of Letters

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{May, 1909}

"Gabriel!"

Marcus' voice rang clear through the hallway, searching for a particular golden-haired odd biologist.

"Marcus, some of us are trying to bloody sleep..." Vance emerged from his room, rubbing his face.

"Sorry, Vance." Marcus smiled apologetically. "Have you seen Gabriel?" He questioned as the tall, dark haired man leaned on the doorway.

"Can't say I have, Marcus, sorry." He shrugged, yawning. "Try the Archives. Or ask Vincent. He knows everything in this bloody place I swear." Vance yawned again, jaw popping as he did so.

"Thanks, Vance." Marcus grinned. "Get some sleep."

"You woke me up." The younger, though larger, man growled good-naturedly. "I'm going to get coffee. If I spot Gabriel, I'll keep him around until you get to him."

"Thanks!" Marcus called over his shoulder as he continued down the hallway, turning into the War room. "Oh!" He gasped when he noticed the two ladies at the table with one of the other men. "Good morning, everyone." He greeted.

The shorter blond girl, in a soft blue dress, turned to look at him. "Hello, Marcus. Good morning to you as well."

"Ah, Priscilla, it is good to see you again." He smiled. "And Isabelle, ever silent, always hunting." He laughed gently.

The taller, dark haired girl smiled mysteriously, raising her hands to sign out a few words.

"She says 'it is always a pleasure to be back among friends.'" Priscilla translated.

"I couldn't agree more, Isabelle." He nodded to her. She smiled softly, then turned back to her book. "De'van," Marcus turned to the younger, a skinny, lanky almost-boy who didn't quite fit with the elegance of the room. "Have you seen Gabriel?"

"Yes, actually." De'van turned on his chair. "He was in the Archives, last I saw 'im." He waved a hand to the hallway. "You could also try his room."

"I'll check the Archive first." Marcus agreed with an eye roll. "Thanks, De'van."

De'van hummed a 'you're welcome', Priscilla and Isabelle waving at Marcus' retreating back.

The biologist trotted down the hall, shoes tapping as he headed for the Archive, a room rather obvious in the grand scheme of things. The door labeled '7B' wasn't quite closed, but it was obviously occupied, lit from within.

"Gabriel?" Marcus questioned, knocking on the doorframe to make his presence known. "Are you in here?"

"Marcus?" The man who responded was sitting cross legged on the floor, surrounded in paper, with a happy-go-lucky grin and ink smudges all over his face. His hair, a dark, honey-brown, was ruffled and a little worked over, Gabriel obviously not having slept for a while. All the same, his golden eyes were bright and excited. "I'm here, yep! What can I do for you?" Gabriel, because of his... strange accent, said 'you' more like 'yah', but it was engaging and interesting.

"Mostly? To see if you've slept yet today."

"Of course!" Gabriel sounded like he finished, but when Marcus gave him a glare over his glasses, Gabriel looked down. "Not..."

"Get some rest." Marcus ordered.

"But Marcus, research!" Gabriel gestured to the scattering of papers around him, messy, but with an order. It was interesting to examine. Gabriel worked in such odd ways sometimes.

"But Gabriel, sleep." Marcus mocked nasally, walking over to nudge Gabriel with a foot. "Go. Now. The research will still be here when you get back."

"Ugh, fine..." He sighed, standing. Gabriel was rather short, a kind, clever person who enjoyed tricks to no end. Younger than Marcus, but the most brilliant translator and mythologist that he had ever met, and as a result, Marcus really couldn't help but treat him as almost a son.

That meant ruffling his messy hair when he stood up, only to have his fingers entangled in the smaller's long, tangled mess.

"Ack!" Gabriel exclaimed, dragged off balance by the assault on his head.

"Whoa, sorry." Marcus carefully extracted his fingers, though Gabriel winced with each movement, making the elder question if he was being gentle enough. "Brush that mess."

"Fine, Marcus." Gabriel huffed, moving past him, pushing out the door. "Don't touch my research!" He called from the hallway, making Marcus chuckle and shake his head as he knelt down to see what Gabriel had been working on.

Pages and pages of Gabriel's near-calligraphy writing was translations and summaries on angels, demons and every halfbreed imaginable.

"Angel research..." Marcus sighed. "You crazy bastard, Gabriel... You crazy, crazy bastard."

{October, 2013}

Crash-landing had been painful.

Gabriel had felt the heat of some unseen fire lapping at the tips of his wings and instantly guessed what had happened. He had felt a Nephilim die already, and had heard the anguished cry of Gail, the Cupid.

He wondered, briefly, what poor bastard had his Grace taken.

Then he remembered that he was about get his damn wings burned off.

Wheeling around, Gabriel reached within himself for Loki's icy powers, cloaking his wings in the cool frost, wreathing them in a temporary cocoon of safety. Fear lodged itself in his throat, a chunk of bile that felt like he would choke, angelic adrenaline filling his True Form like a wave.

Gabriel fired like a shot, six wings whipping at the air, an ever-undulating wave of power and energy, heading south over the United States. The sprawling land below held no wonder to him tonight, as the sky lit up with angels plummeting to Earth.

The heat that surrounded the frost barrier was beginning to melt his defense, charring the edges of his feathers, making flying heavy and difficult. He poured more energy into the barrier, determined to make it at least halfway there... He had to.

He knew precisely where he was going. After all, he had spent a human's lifetime there. It had been fun, to play at being fully human for once, even involved as he had been with the unnatural. It was terrifying and awesome all at once.

The layer of ice buckled, letting the all-consuming heat, greater than any hellfire, lick at the back of his wings, blackened streaks painted on his feathers. He patched it as quickly as he could, the crackling of ice a tinny undertone to the screams over angel radio, and the roar of flames.

Around him, angels fell, unable to protect themselves from the searing heat. Gabriel had to swing out of the way at one point, barely dodging a terrified, crying Ariel, who plunged past him without recognition.

Few of his siblings would find vessels early, and would instead spend their time floating around, looking for rest, and finding none. Some, he thought, like Castiel, would already be in vessels, and their wings would simply burn. He hoped his younger brother wasn't in too much pain.

The barrier over his smallest right wing suddenly cracked, the wing alighting with pain. Gabriel cried out in his true voice, echoing loudly across the sky, before he pushed his wings to flap faster. Below him, the wide expanse of Dakota farmland seemed to glow with joyful energy, like the earth was drinking in the angel's pain.

It was when the barrier over his second wing on the left side cracked, that Gabriel realized he'd never make it to Kansas. At best he was over Glenham, South Dakota, miles from where he needed to be. All that, and with very little hope of making it much past the border without damage.

The stretched blue, curving shape of the Missouri River sprawled across the plains, clawlike tendrils of smaller streams sinking into the surrounding land, casting life to the farmlands.

Guess I gotta put 'er in the water. He decided grimly, swerving over the river directly, following it south as he descended, dropping a few hundred feet quickly, flames already beginning to claw over his golden feathers, marring them with ashen black.

C'mon, just hold on, once the spell stops, your wings will stop burning, just a few more minutes, c'mon, c'mon... He urged himself, wings pumping faster, shooting over Forest City like a rocket, wings half folded into his chest, smoke trailing off him, a grey pathway of his defeat.

Mission Ridge rose grandly from the ground, shading a wide bend of the Missouri River. Gabriel's eyes flicked from the peninsula that made the bend distinctive a distinctive loop, then to the rocky hill that made up Mission Ridge, and finally to the bubble of space in the river.

With the spell boxing him in on all sides, and the barrier squished against his feathers, he realized that if he slowed down, he was going to turn into a spray of bloody ash in the sky.

If the only way to go is forward, then I guess I go forward! He pushed for more energy, the muscles in his back screaming for rest, for him to stop flapping like he wanted to tear them out.

Mentally, he marked a few locations, where he would angle his wings downward into a dive, where he would plummet to the wider strip of the river. The calculations were immense, taxing, and he knew where it would end up.

When he passed his mental marker, he pulled his wings in as hard as he could, combining all the barriers into one, surrounding his entire body from the spell, the frost smoothing down, a bullet wreathed in flame.

He plunged, wrapping his arms over his head, eyes squeezed tight as he guarded with his forearms, upper body locking down, every muscle tensing to a rock hard point.

Air rushed past his ears, whistling hatefully, blowing some of the flames out viciously. For the first time since this whole ordeal began, Gabriel wondered if he was going to be fine.

Then came the impact.

At the velocity he was going, hitting the water felt like slamming into a brick wall at Mach 3.

Gabriel spun, barrier shattering like cheap frozen plastic, bouncing across the water in a spray of white. He yelped in pain and shock before his he felt his vessel's ribs crack under the strain, as well as his arm and right top wing.

The final landing brought more agony, plus the realization that without his momentum, he was sinking. With a shout that released the last of his air, Gabriel kicked for the surface, heavy, waterlogged wings pulling him down, but angelic strength lent itself to help.

He swam against the current, determined to keep his head above water as he gasped for the surface, afraid and pained, floating down the river in an endless wash of water.

It took him a solid twenty minutes of struggling and pain to swim close enough to a dead tree, clinging to the shore by a few roots, to grab and hang on, to shut his eyes for a few seconds and relax. His beaten, broken vessel and burned, scarred True Form were exhausted. He had used a ton of grace just to keep from getting his wings too charred. Now...

There was a long pause as Gabriel refused to think for a few moments, soaking in the feeling of deep, calming breaths and of the water suspending him.

Fuck... He thought with a soft groan. My week just turned real shitty real fast.

Chapter Text

{May, 1909}

"...And that's why I'd always choose Hell!" John finished, making De'van and Vincent burst out laughing, at the same time that Gabriel wandered, sleep-drunk, from his room. He was still in his dress pants and button-down, but he had at least removed his jacket and undercoat.

"Speaking of 'coming back', look who's no longer dead!" Vincent crowed to the young man, who flipped him off as he stumbled for the kettle containing the bittersweet, delicious promise of life: coffee.

"Right back at you, pal." Vincent grinned, a little sadistically when Gabriel turned the pot over his cup, only to have nothing come out.

"Whichever of you boneheads took all the coffee and didn't make more, I'm going to shank." Gabriel growled viciously, slamming the pot down and rifling through the cupboards for more grinds.

"Oh, calm down Gabe." De'van stood up, walking over to the shorter, setting a hand on his shoulder. "Here." He placed the bag of coffee on the counter in front of Gabriel. "Emil said that you needed a few minutes of panic, but I think that this is less panic and more murder."

"Yah' damn right." Gabriel snapped, taking the coffee, measuring and pouring the water into the kettle and setting it to heat before slumping in a chair at the table. Arms folded in front of him, Gabriel lay his head on the table, closed his eyes, and seemed to go back to sleep.

"That's your problem, Gabe." De'van noted.

"Whassat?" Gabriel slurred sleepily, one golden eye opening to a slit.

"You can stay up for hours, but after you sleep, it's all you want t' do." De'van reached over and patted the other between the shoulders, the people around the table laughing.

"Mock me all ya' like, I'm still the best translator here." Grumpily, Gabriel turned his head away from them. They all laughed at his childish display of irritation.

The tapping of feet announced a new presence in the room, one that moved with quick, distinct strides softer, but just as heavy as any of the men's.

"Well, someone get me a jitney!" Shay proclaimed in her black southern twang. "I didn't think I'd see me a shimmer of that golden hair before at least noon?"

"I got up before noon?" Gabriel groaned softly. "Cancel my coffee, I'm going back to bed."

"Unfortunately, I don't think that Curtis would appreciate that." Vincent sighed. "He keeps insisting that we have 'work' to do."

Gabriel let out an exaggerated, plaintive moan. "But sleep..."

"If I remember correctly, Gabe, we were on the opposite ends of this argument last night." Marcus grinned as he walked in, taking two mugs from the cupboard and pouring both himself and Gabriel a cup of coffee. "Shay, do we have any milk left?"

"I can't say we do, Mista' Brown." Shay answered, placing the coffee grounds in the cupboard, then turning around. "Gabriel, head up. Mista' Brown has got your coffee."

"Just pour it on me." Gabriel mumbled into the table. "I'm not getting up."

"Gabriel Moran!" Shay half-shouted, grabbing his ear. Gabe yelped as he was dragged into a proper sitting position, a cup of coffee slapped in front of him. "You have a job to do, you hear? Drink your coffee, and get out of my kitchen!"

"Yes Ma'm!" He obediently began to nurse his coffee, casting fearful glances over his shoulder at the ferocious older woman. "Fine, alright." He stood, all serious Gabriel again, narrowed, sharp eyes included. "Vincent, do me a favour. Send Winchester and  Fletcher to the Archive for me." He picked up his coffee. "Tell them they've got ten minutes or I'm starting without them."

"Yessir!" Vincent spun off his chair, trotting over to the radio board to page the aforementioned pair, while Gabriel swept from the room, presumably to go get something decent on.

It always amazed Marcus how quickly that man could tidy himself up.

{October, 2013}

It had taken Gabriel a solid half-hour of rest, clinging to a dead, floating tree, wings hanging limply over it's slick bark, before he could pull himself to the shore.

When he finally dragged himself up onto the rough, cold, sharp gravel bed, he flopped onto his side, ignoring the sharp bite of pain in his ribs. He could feel where the cracked ones ground against each other, and the broken one seemed pretty determined to punch a hole in his left lung.

Gabriel didn't use his grace much nowadays, because an Archangel's grace tended to have a unique signature. He'd be pretty obvious to the right person, who could recognize him at any time. For now though, he used a slip of it to fix his fully broken rib, and to make sure that his arm wouldn't get infected.

Standing up was a painful process, that involved a lot of huffing and panting, growling and straining. When he finally did make it to his feet, leaning on the roots of the tree that helped him onto land in the first place, he almost went down again he was so shaky.

It was times like these that Gabriel remembered how rough having his wings broken could be. Admitted, to basically everything else, they were invisible and intangible, but to him, they ached and stung, heavy and now, a few burned and feathers ruined, while one of them was broken.

Gabriel growled softly under his breath, removing his green jacket carefully. His vessel was cold, the October air having chilled him clean through the skin, and the sudden lack of sleeves wasn't helping. However, he supposed that his time in Lebanon had taught him something, and he knew he had to wrap his ribs. Unfortunately, his arm was way worse, but healing that was going to draw attention, the opposite of what he wanted to do.

In the end, he wound up forming a makeshift sling with his jacket, and struggling through the ribs.

Whoever cast that spell knew what they were doing. Gabriel thought, realizing how weak he was. He could feel every twinge of pain in his side, where the ribs grated against each other.

Bracing them by pressing his already hurt arm to his chest, Gabriel walked up and down the beach, seeking some way up the steep climb. He knew he was on the east side of the river, so it would be easier to climb. After that, he had to fix himself and go to Lebanon. His key was still in his pocket, and the Bunker would always be one of his homes. After all, he had really only ever had two. The pagans didn't count.

Gabriel limped up a slightly worn incline, chest spasming with pain and inability to draw a full breath. He couldn't use his broken arm, and struggling with the rocky slope was easier said than done, especially with only one arm at his disposal, but he did eventually make it up. Through pain and exhaustion, far beyond anything he cared for, he made it up.

In all honesty, he was debating whether he regretted trying to fly to San Francisco or not. If he hadn't, he'd still be in the Caribbean, hidden temporarily, but stuck and uninjured. Because he had, he was now a couple hundred miles from the safest place on this side of the continent, but he was also badly hurt and mostly cut off from his grace.

His week already sucked.

He supposed he was lucky enough to get washed into a random cove, that happened to have a road within seeing distance. It made the walk that much less painful on Gabriel.

When he reached the road, he knew it was probably for sight-seers and the insane that wanted to go camping. An old sign proclaimed it as '277th Ave', which didn't make Gabriel feel much better for his prospects.

"Damn..." He hissed, air coming in short pants now. "Half a day out of Pierre." With water and without injuries.

Best get walking. A voice that sounded disturbingly like Michael encouraged him, and he started a slow, limping gait down the rugged, dusty road.

The twenty minute walk stretched to thirty, then forty-five, before he finally reached the cleanly paved road that was definitely an access route. It looked like it was for truckers, almost, wide and well paved. For a while, Gabriel simply makes along beside it, gradually slowing as the pain in his chest got to be a bit much. The cold wasn't helping either, making his arm shake and jar the broken bone.

It was honestly unsurprising that he didn't hear the truck approaching until it stopped beside him.

"Hey, buddy, you okay?" An older, Caucasian man leaned over to the passenger window, drawing Gabriel's attention from the ground.

"U-uh, s-sorta. I'm good." He answered shakily, turning to look at him.

The trucker examined him with sharp eyes for a few seconds, before coming to a verdict based on his scrutiny. "Look, pal, I know pride is a thing, but y'h look like dirt. Where ya' headed?" Speaking now, Gabriel could hear the southern drawl in his voice.

For a moment, he considered lying, saying that he was fine, that he'd make it out ok. But honestly, why make life more difficult than it needed to be? "I'm headed to Pierre." Gabriel responded, casually smiling.

"Well ain't that convenient." The man grinned happily, popping open the passenger door. "I'm on my way that direction. Hop in."

Gabriel struggled into the tall truck with only one arm and some angelic strength, breathing heavy and deep, making his ribs blaze in agony. When he finally slumped in the seat, he officially hated whoever cast the damn friggin' spell.

"So, what's in Pierre for ya'?" The man asked as he shifted gears and pulled back on to the road.

"A bus, hopefully." Gabriel panted, bracing his ribs as best he could. "I need to get to Lebanon."

"Well now, that's a long ways to go with two feet and a heartbeat." He nodded. "And can I ask who is goin' to Lebanon?"

Gabriel chuckled at the wording. "M'name's Gabriel. Like the angel."

"Well now, Gabe, good to meet'cha. People 'round here call me TJ." 'TJ' announced.

"Glad that someone's got a heart around here, TJ." Gabriel nodded firmly, which made his ribs pinch and complain loudly to any sort of movement.

"I know it's not my place to pry, but I gotta know," TJ began, making Gabriel glance over. "but if you gotta be in Lebanon, what in God's good name are you doin' out here?"

Gabriel chuckled as he thought of the best way to explain. "Uh, well..." He coughed wetly, TJ leaning forward to click on the heater. "Thanks. Uh, I wound up with a few former 'friends', and they decided to see if I lived up to my old college swimming days." It was weak and made up on the spot, but for now it was a good idea of a lie.

"No offence, kid, you need some better friends."

"Yep, well," Gabriel sighed, good arm reaching up to press on his ribs as well. "heard that song before."

"You got family down south?" TJ asked, passing a marker that declared '184th St', braking to turn down a much better paved, newer road.

"As close to a home as I got." The younger man shrugged, immediately regretting it when his arm yowled in protest.

"Got someone y'can call?" The trucker offered him a cell phone.

"They won't be there. Kinda like a uh... meeting place, but not a home." Gabriel explained, wincing when he pushed his arm in the wrong direction.

"Arm looks pretty bad." TJ noted, nodding to the side. "You need me to call a hospital?"

The Archangel shook his head. "Naw, I'll get some help when I hit Pierre. At the moment, it'd just take an assload of pain for an ambulance ride." He huffed, doing his best to keep his ribs from screaming. "I can make it... uh, however long."

"It's a good hour trip, kiddo." TJ informed, turning on a '278th Ave'. "But you're tough. You'll be fine?"

"Yeah, I can wait." He said agreeably, trying not to wince with every breath.

"Well, if ya' check in the compartment there, y'can take a Tylenol." TJ made a small hand motion at the glove box, and Gabriel opened it to pop two of the (unfortunately nighttime) pills. "If ya' pass out on me, I'm not blamin' ya'." TJ had reassured. "Heard I can be pretty borin' t'talk to."

Over the next half hour, Gabriel made small talk with TJ. He had two daughters, which he had custody of after a horrible divorce, but they were happy. He actually lived in Huron, a few clicks east of them, and was out here on a special shipping route to Fort Thompson. Gabriel had told him that getting back home after the job sounded nicer than hiking his way to Lawrence.

He didn't know when he fell asleep, disconnected from his grace as he was, but it was after they hit the highway. Next thing he knew, TJ was nudging him awake.

"We're about to hit Highway 83, kiddo! Next stop, Pierre!" He called over the music, which was playing at a decent volume. Gabriel was honestly amazed he slept through it.

It was another twenty minutes of joking and waiting before they pulled into Pierre, a small town of not much at all, rather isolated, but surrounded by highways, making it a decent rest stop for truckers.

"Well, last call, Gabriel. Was nice talkin' to ya'." TJ smiled kindly as they pulled into a gas station, brakes hissing loudly, air making itself known.

"Thanks for driving me. Walking would've been a pain." He returned the grin, going to open the door.

TJ's hand caught his shoulder before he could start climbing out, handing him forty dollars and a few more pills. "Go to a clinic an' get yourself cleaned up before y' head out, alright?"

"I'll do that. Thank you again!" Gabriel was completely lying about the first part, slowly descending from the truck with his good arm, pocketing the pills and cash before walking away, heading for a more central part of town.

As he left, he took a quick glance back at the truck that had probably saved him a good deal of pain. Hey Dad, if you're listening... do me a favour and keep TJ safe. He directed the thought to the sky, hoping that God somehow got it.

Then he turned forward and started for somewhere he could start fixing himself up.

={[|]}=

The walk had been painful and long, every step a cross between his ribs flaring and his arm grating. The temptation to just use his grace and heal the things was getting to be a little much, but he couldn't risk it. Not unless he was in somewhere safe.

When he found the Walmart, step one was getting tensor bandages. Wandering through the chaotic 'everything-is-here' store was like trying to make sense of IKEA; It just didn't work. He wandered for some twenty minutes before the aching fire in his ribs became bad enough for him to swallow his pride and ask for their location.

The cheapest ones were still expensive, but he got an extra long and a long one anyway. He could find sticks outside, to act as braces.

Step two was getting a map.

After opening a half-dozen and receiving no results, he managed to shred the last of his angelic dignity by explaining his direction to an underpaid, overtired teen who seemed excited and happy nevertheless. Said teen jumped at the chance to help, handing him the 'ideal map', which did happen to be the perfect map.

After paying for the bandages, Gabriel walked out into the sunlight, wincing and wishing that he could use his grace to summon some sunglasses. Even that though, would tip off a few angels within the area, and if he wanted to make it to the Bunker without incident, he was stuck dealing with things the human way.

At least he knew how to function. Most of his siblings would be stuck without half their powers and their wings, in a world they had no clue how to deal with. Half of them wouldn't even know to eat.

Turning the corner of the Walmart, mostly hidden from prying eyes, Gabriel sat, leaned against the wall, carefully wrapping up his arm. A pair of twigs he had found made a decent enough splint, protecting him from further pain while his grace subtly sewed the bone back together.

After that, he stood up straight and removed his shirt, tying up his ribs equally as carefully. The brace made him feel significantly better, allowing him to breathe more easily, before he pulled back on his shirt and jacket, sitting down with the map.

Tracing his route in pen, Gabriel had an idea of where he was going to go. Hitchhiking was dangerous and irritating, but he could make it. The magic of trucking highways was that he was never in danger of being unseen.

He would start with Pierre, see if he could hitch a ride to Vivian from the Fort, get to Presho, and then make it down the I-90 to Winner. The jump from Winner to Colome would be easy, but after that he had to convince someone to take him to Springview, Nebraska. Getting to Bassett would be simple, but from there to Taylor or Sargent would be a long trip. There was any number of small towns he could get someone to drop him off at on the Sandhills Journey from there, but he'd aim for Ravenna. From Ravenna, it was pretty much a flat run to Minden, from there to Franklin, and down there through Highway 8 to Athol. After Athol, it was basically a straight shot on 281 to Lebanon.

If he had a car, it would be a seven, maybe eight hour drive all at once.

With how he was going, he'd be lucky to make it to Springview by the end of the week.

Great. He reflected sarcastically. Abso-freaking-lutely great.

He got to walking.

Chapter Text

{May, 1909}

"Where did Gabriel go, anyway?" Vance questioned the shorter, stout man with angry eyes and bright red hair.

"Don't ask me." He answered gruffly. "Vincent jus' said to get our asses to the Archive."

"He's probably there, then." Vance huffed. "I'm gonna scrub that goop if he started without us." He grumbled as the pair walked into the room.

"Well, then I'm glad I gave you an extra few minutes." Gabriel was leaned back on a chair, feet on a desk, reading a book on sigils. "C'mon, get in here. We've got work to do."

Papers from Gabriel's last night lay scattered across the floor, books in mysterious languages splayed wide, their secrets spilled for all to see. Slipped between pages, notes and letters of sigils and translations were set, revealing the hidden meanings and double entendres that the text held.

"Well, I don't know how much coffee you had to drink, but-"

"Is that the Enochian book? That Murray brought last month?" Vince pointed at the ground, picking up a thick tome with handwritten notes shoved between chapters and pages. "Pal, De'van couldn't translate more than a few pages."

"There's a reason that you keep me around, y'know." Gabriel stood up, stretching his back with a distinct few pops. "I'm a good little quick-study." He joked, picking up a few of the papers that had dropped onto the floor. "The book is about demons, angels, all sorts of stuff. I haven't gotten that far into it, but I think it's more about angels than demons. And not anything mythological either, we're talkin' the real deal."

"Don't be a nut." Curtis rolled his eyes at the idea of a mythology book that was as though made for hunters.

"'And so it was written, as it was told, the Archangel Gabriel will come on three wings of gold'." Vance read from a note. "This a direct translation? Thought you said they didn't do the whole 'mythology' thing in this one."

"Well, of course it's still got some mythology stuff in it, kinda has to, but the reason that's written is because of the 'three wings' thing." Gabriel pointed to an illustration in the book. "I think that if we're dealing with any of the Archangels, we're dealing with an angel with six wings rather than a Seraph's two."

"Wait, so you're saying that..."

"Archangels are basically the end of anything unholy times three?" Gabriel nodded, mouth skewed to the side as he took the book from Vance. "Yeah, that's what I'm saying. These are the big baddies of Heaven. Michael," He flipped to a page that depicted an angel with flowing hair and massive white wings, holding a flaming sword over his head. "The warrior. There's some shit in there about him training younger angels to fight, but I'll need to go through it more." Then he flipped to another page, an angel with short, brown hair reading from a Bible to other angels. "Raphael. There's some information on him too, but again... I'll need time with it." He then flipped to a final page, a painting of an archangel with graceful, pointed golden wings descending to talk to Mary. "And finally, Gabriel. Who my mother decided to name me after." Gabriel huffed. "Like, look'it this simp." He grumbled.

"Looks like one helluva self-righteous crumb." Vance laughed at him. "You ain't like that though, Gabe. Don't take offence to it."

"Shoulda' changed my name ages ago."

"Are we gonna keep pointin' out the floozy's stupid hairdo or we gonna do some work?" Curtis picked up a folder of notes. "C'mon, let's translate and catalogue somethin' useful about these posh grifters."

"Alright, pass me that book. I'll see what I can get out of the Michael chapter." Gabriel sat at the desk, fully at alert as he picked up his pen and a notepad, already scratching away as he translated line after line of Enochian.

Vance shook his head with a chuckle. Once Gabriel started working, he wouldn't stop until whatever he was doing was complete. He was a little like a gun. Point him, shoot him, he'd keep going until something stopped him.

They were an hour into silence, aside from the shuffle of papers and the scratch of Gabriel's pen when he looked up. "Curtis, can you find me the folder of Enochian spells? I think I might have a few old things to revise."

"Yep." Curtis replied shortly, standing and walking to another section of the Archive before returning with a brown folder of papers, holding it out to Gabriel.

The younger nodded his thanks, turning back to the book as he flipped open the folder, brushing through it with mock urgency as he located a specific paper, laying it on top of his tome and looking at something between the lines.

Then he caught it. 'As far as known information, the Archangel Gabriel dwells on earth, hiding from the chaos of his homeland.'

Gabriel wanted to just skip the whole section. It would be easier, just to pretend like he couldn't read it fully, but that might attract attention to himself, because the language in it was rather easy.

Fine. Gabriel growled internally. I'll translate the entire damn story why I'm a failure. Fuck you too.

His pen scratches became rather angry after that.

{October, 2013}

He managed to snag a kind enough man to take him to the Fort, just across the river, and left him at the Holiday Inn just off Highway 83-slash-1806. Catching that ride alone had taken him nearly an hour, but without his ribs screaming in agony every step, moving and waiting around for stuff to happen became much more manageable.

Gabriel, by his calculations, had figured the ride to Vivian was probably about half an hour to forty-five minutes, if he got lucky. It was pretty much a straight line run from the Fort to Vivian down Highway 83.

It was a good twenty minute walk that made him regret breathing again, but he made it to a gas station called 'Fresh Start' on 'N 1st St', immediately thankful for all the truckers here. Someone had to be heading south.

"Hey, uh..." Gabriel began uneasily as he edged his way up to the till. The tired-looking 30-something glanced up from his phone, looking him over. In all honesty, Gabriel probably looked like ass. He felt like ass, to be completely truthful. Ribs hurt, arm hurt, and his True Form ached under his vessel. That, though, he could stubbornly ignore by hiding behind his human body until he got to the Bunker. Resetting his wing was going to hurt like a bitch. "Y'think y'could help a brotha' out?" He let his voice slip into a more southern tone, a little Cajun, a little Texan. It was kinder and less suspicious than his more formal tone. "If un'of those guys comes in here headin' for Vivian, couldya' ask him to throw me a bone?"

30-something nodded. "Sure, mate, I can do that for ya'." The guy had some form of an Australian accent. "Just wait outside. We get 'hikers all the time down this road."

Flashing a small grin, Gabriel picked an 'Oh Henry' from the small cubby under the register. "Ring tha' up for me, pal. Thanks for that."

"Anytime, stranger." Aussie answered, scanning the chocolate bar. "What's yah' name?"

"Gabriel." He replied without thought or pause. "Gabriel Moran."

={[|]}=

Gabriel knew that money didn't buy happiness, but it sure bought chocolate, and that was good enough. Twenty minutes of him leaned against the building, playing away on an old harmonica that he had kept around since God-knew-when, had brought a tall man over.

Black hair, leather jacket, sharp cheekbones and blazing blue eyes. "You Gabriel Moran?" He demanded in a faint English accent.

"That's me." Gabriel smiled, giving a small wave as he lowered the harmonica from his lips.

"Goin' to Vivian?"

"Yep."

"I'm your ride. C'mon." He said impatiently, leaving Gabriel to scramble to his feet as the stranger's much longer legs ate up the distance to a sleek black car.

"Whoa, nice car." Gabriel gasped as he trotted up to it.

Emo dude hummed a response, getting into the driver's side. Gabriel hopped in the passenger's seat.

"And your name is..?" Gabriel egged, hoping that his new friend would actually converse with him.

The stranger remained silent for a few moments anyway, before opening his mouth. "Dan."

"Nice to meet you, Dan." Gabriel smiled. Dan didn't answer, focusing on the road. "...what'cha heading to Vivian for?"

"Family." Dan stated.

"Cool." The Archangel leaned against the armrest, observing the world in passing instead of trying to keep a conversation with one word Dan. He could handle the outside world better than him and his difficulty.

The Fort Pierre National Grassland was a wide expanse of green during the summer, but now it was just mostly yellow and faded tan as the grass dried out in preparation for winter's arrival. The lakes that dotted the landscape were small and beautiful, sapphires and turquoise stones peeking from the sandy desert. If he had been flying, he was willing to bet it would be brilliant, a patchwork of farms. For now, he was grounded, and the quickly-passing grassland was nothing more than a fading, dusty plane, slowly turning to dust even as he watched. If it wasn't a metaphor for his life, he didn't know what was.

It was mid afternoon before they reached Vivian, Dan practically throwing Gabriel, alone, onto the roadside, driving deeper into the town so as to escape the nobody who he had helped.

Dan didn't know, but he too got a prayer from an Archangel.

After consulting his map, Gabriel had at least figured out that getting to Presho by State Highway 16 would be faster. It wasn't a long trip by any stretch of the imagination. Hell, if he was feeling better, he'd just walk it. From there though, he had to hit the 183 for a while, and reach Winner.

As it turned out, getting a ride from Vivian to Presho was difficult. Vivian was a tiny town that didn't even have a real gas station, so he was pretty much screwed. Nobody actually stopped in Vivian, and as a result, any attempt to get out of Vivian was basically asking for a great big bottle of 'fuck you'.

So Gabriel started walking.

By his calculations, he was over four hours from Presho on foot.

He was going to hate this evening.


={[|]}=



When he hit Presho, the first thing he did was storm into the nearest gas station covered in dust, ignore the loud college age kids, buy water and the heaviest-duty painkillers he could find, and march out with murder in his eyes. If he wasn't going to be connected to his grace, then by God almighty, he was going to enjoy human drugs.

After downing about three times the recommended dosage and half the water, he felt a little better, Archangel metabolism kicking in to speed up the activation, but then slowing to extend the drug's effect.

Exhaustion's a bitch. He decided, sitting on the curb with the bottle of water loosely held in his fingers. It was cool and soothing, but almost reminded him of the river. A whisper of wind washed over his head, ruffling his sweaty, slick hair. He needed a bath, a shower. He promised, silently, the day he made it back to the Bunker, he was going to sleep for a week before doing anything with the angels scattered across the planet. Maybe I should finally call the Winchesters. The thought drifted past, but made him hesitate with it's strangeness.

He hadn't even considered the Winchesters since the Elysian Fields thing, when his brother proved that he couldn't see a bloody illusion when it almost stabbed him.

Gabriel had hoped he would be able to reason with his brother, but apparently not. So he made the biggest prank on his big brother ever done.

The look on Lucifer's face the day he figured out that the Gabriel he had stabbed was the illusion would be priceless. Still, a little jarring to know that his elder brother, his best friend, would and did stab him in the gut.

Which was just one reason in a laundry list of reasons why he was sitting outside of a shitty trucker's gas station called 'Cenex', on a dirty curb, waiting to see if there was anyone so kind as to take him to Winner.

Ballsack.

Letting out a few coughs that he muffled on the back of his wrist, Gabriel stood up again. Three semi-trucks and an honest to God Volkswagen Transporter black van were parked either at the pumps or nearby, their occupants having a smoke or... Gabriel had no idea where the people driving that dingy old van from Hell knew when were. The thing should've been a light blue, but it was actually a dusty vomit brown, so covered in dust as it was.

That was when the loud college kids burst out, cheering together about something. Three boys and three girls, all headed to the van.

Gabriel decided to play it risky.

Using his grace to tone his age down to about their age and clean himself up a bit, he trotted on over, a happy-go-lucky grin smeared across his cheeks. "Heya, guys!"

The kids slowed down, glancing between one another and Gabriel suspiciously. He just kept up his casual, cocky grin and waited it out.

"Who're you?" Demanded a moderately tall, brown-skinned dude who sounded pretty Mexican.

"Wanderer, just like you." Gabriel shrugged. "Was wonderin' where you were headed."

A tanned boy, with long blond hair and high cheekbones stepped forward. "Why are y' wonderin' that?"

"Mostly? I got stuck with a few jackasses. My former pals dumped me about three towns back, and I've got no way to head home." Gabriel sighed, kicking at the dirt.

"Where you callin' home, stranger?" One of the girls, a thick black woman with busts to match her hips, swayed forward, in front of the boys.

"Depends on where you're headed." Gabriel shrugged. "If I've got somewhere on your path, I'd love to join ya, if that's cool."

They considered it for a few minutes, eyes flicking to eachother, before the third guy, a tall, pale dude with soft black hair, high cheekbones and eyes like charcoal, nodded. "We're on our way to Ord." His voice was sophisticated, low and cool, a little smokey and a little dark. "The farthest south we could put you is Sargent."

"Well, if it isn't my lucky day. That isn't far from my drop point at all." Gabriel smiled genuinely, not quite believing his timing. "Westerville is my hailing ground."

"Can't take you that far, but Sargent sounds good. We stop there anyway." Mexican kid nodded. "What do y'say, Jake?" He turned to face Cheekbones, who apparently had a name.

"Eh, sure. If you can pay for your own food, you can hitch a ride." He dipped his head, then the whole troupe, Gabriel included, started back for the car.

"So, gold-eyes," The second girl, a sharp-eyed brunette, began with a surprisingly deep voice. "you got a name?" She interrogated, retying her flowing, wavy hair into a ponytail.

"Gabriel." He purred immediately. "Gabriel Moran."

"Good to meet'cha." She dipped her head to the side in a half-agreement. "I'm Anastia, but these guys call me Ti. Gangster," She looked to the Mexican kid. "is Jamie." Jamie waved in response to his name being called. "Surfer is Max," She jabbed a thumb at the tanned blonde. "Tall, dark and handsome is Scott," She gestured to the pale guy, who simply nodded in response. "Hot-like-fire is Kayala," She flashed a grin at the curvy girl who looked like she could hold her own in a fight. "And that one," She pointed to the thin, extremely white girl who had yet to speak, her short-cut red hair in a curly fringe that just hooded her hot-ice eyes. "is mine."

The last part caught Gabriel off-guard and he blinked in her direction, quirking an eyebrow.

"Heh, kidding. Sorta." Ti laughed loudly. "Her name's Alex. And she's super, mega freaking taken. So no peeking, buddy."

"Point made." Gabriel chuckled, holding up his hands in surrender. "Anyone else I can't hit on?"

"Max and Kayala." She answered, then lowered her voice. "Scott is free and totally, 100% in desperate need of getting laid though, so..." She made a short few gestures, most of which were obscene.

"Ti, if you're trying to set me up with the dude we just picked up, you can walk." Scott said over his shoulder.

"Fuck you, Scott." She called forward as they all piled into the plush seats of the van, which started when Scott turned it over, rumbling to life beautifully with the cadence of Justin Cross in the background. Kayala got into the passenger seat, pulling a map up from the glove compartment.

"Alright, well, welcome to the Biosphere, Gabriel." Max grinned hugely. "All we need is food and fuel, and we'll keep goin' forever."

"You rehearse that?" Gabriel fired back loosely.

Jamie made a laugh that sounded a lot like 'ohohoho' before turning on Max. "Roasted by the new guy, dude! Just bad mojo."

"Oh, fuck you." Max growled good-naturedly, crossing his arms and looking away as the others laughed. "I'll have you know I'm very happy with that speech."

"Yeah, quoted out of 'Paper Towns'. Kayala half-shouted from the front. "Glad we got the new guy here to roast out your ass!"

"Flame broiled, motherfuckers!" Ti let out a loud whoop following her statement.

Maybe I was wrong. Gabriel thought with a smile. Maybe my prospects are looking up.

Chapter Text

{May, 1909}

"Y'all seen Gabe?" Shay walked in with her regular swagger, hair tired into a bun. "Wayne wants t'talk to him."

"I'm here, Shay." Gabriel's head popped out from behind a shelf, covered in dust. "By the way, call Emil for me. He needs to go through these back files. They look like the haven't been touched for a damn century!" He exclaimed, brushing cobwebs from his undershirt as he grabbed his suit jacket from a chair.

"They're from another Bunker, Gabe." Vance informed without looking up. "Remember? You wanted to keep that kitten from the Farm?"

"Kitten was cute! He had these nice little streaks of white!" Gabriel waved an arm as he marched for the door. "And if I was the only one here, I'd keep the kitten in the Bunker. He could catch some of the mice and shit." Gabriel whipped around the corner, only to stop three feet down and backtrack to stick his head into the room again. "Guard cat. And his name would've been Skeleton."

"You're batty." Curtis chuckled. "You're makin' me want the damn thing. Go see what Wayne wants."

"Yep, got it. Bye!" Gabriel swept out again, setting a light jog toward the stairs, on his way to the dungeon.

Wayne didn't talk much, not after his time of half dying and spending twenty minutes with his head in Hell, but he did make a spectacular torturer. Gabriel would never comment on whether or not he made sure that Wayne came back to his sister and brother, but it was leaning toward the former. It had been the first and so far only time he had used his grace for something noticeable in the Bunker.

The warding, though, was rather unique. Levels of different wards, only sections that had to be on at a time. The general wards though prevent the entry of anything malicious, anything with negative intentions to the inhabitants. That specific type of warding hadn't been seen in well over a thousand years, to Gabriel, so he was rather glad to see it the Bunker. They were called Blanket Wards for a reason. They trumped basically everything. They were demonic wording, in Enochican sigilwork, translated to be in Latin. Honestly, impressive.

They allowed him to walk through the angel warding like it didn't exist, especially after they added his name to the sigils, deeming him a member of their personal home. It was an honour, really.

For now, though, he walked to the dungeon, room 29 level 2, faintly humming something not quite of the time period under his breath, mouthing the words carefully as he spun into the dark area. "Hey, Wayne, you wanted to chat?" He called out, knocking on the doorframe.

A pained wail greeted him.

"Point taken... still at work." Gabriel huffed, marching deeper into the hall leading into the centre and peeking in.

On the ground, an angel lay. A fallen one, twisted up and burned by hellfire. Wayne, a thickset, large man with pointed, dangerous brown eyes and a soft voice that seemed very out of place on him, stood overtop of it's wings, walking around it and picking up a sword that made Gabriel wince.

It was his blade, technically. When he came to the Bunker, he said he filched it off an angel and used it as his own, but it was actually an Archangel's blade. Specifically, his. An exposure risk, but, well, prices to pay.

"Hey, be nice to my sword." Gabriel reprimanded when Wayne tapped it's tip against the wall. Everyone knew of Gabriel's probably unhealthy attachment to the sword, which he took with him when he went on hunts. But all the same... he'd much rather keep it at the story that Gabriel had managed to kill an angel and was protective over his prize than any other reason.

Wayne, though, rolled his eyes and stopped with the tapping. "Got an assignment for you, Gabe. You never mind hunting, right?"

"Not now, not ever." Gabriel leaned against the wall, watching the fallen angel wheeze on the floor. "What's the mission?"

"This yegg's friend. Twenty clicks east, a little hotel called 'Sun trail.' Room 18." Wayne answered, voice clipped but steady.

"You'll never find her." Rasped the angel. "She'll be long gone."

"You can hope." Wayne turned to Gabriel. "We've got an extra sword. Take yours, maybe ask Priscilla and Isabelle if you can hitch a ride with them."

"I'll ask, yep. Thanks, Wayne. Was wondering if I was gonna go stir crazy." Gabriel chuckled. Last time he had gone 'stir crazy' he had rearranged the entire archive, to Emil's eternal chagrin.

"Just take whoever's willing to go and get outta my sight. Bring me another angel." He huffed, waving Gabriel off dismissively, turning back to the angel on the floor.

"I'm on it, Wayne! Back in a bit!" He announced, skipping out with light steps.

-{[|]}-

Gabriel, Priscilla and Isabelle were packing up, Gabriel tying the belt that held his blade loosely around his hip. It would be concealed by the long coat he wore, hidden pressed against his thigh, ready to be drawn.

"You gonna come back to keep translating that damn book?" Vance questioned, leaning against the wall by the staircase. He tried to look nonchalant and casual, but he had never exactly had a like of hunting, or seeing his friends go out hunting. His anxiety was clear from the tenseness of his shoulders and the way his eyes kept flicking from Gabriel to the door.

"Couldn't keep me away, Vance." Gabriel knelt down to tie his boots. "Don't worry about me. I'll be back before you know it." He laughed, straightening.

"Of all you librarians, Gabriel's always the one willing to come on out and get his hands dirty." Priscilla smiled gently, tying her own boots up. They would be hidden under her long dress, which she could tie up perfectly would the need arise.

Isabelle never said anything, but she too had her boots and dress, nodding faintly to each of them.

Isabelle's muteness was a part of something that Gabriel had only asked about once. Apparently, it involved a rusty bronze-copper knife, a blood sacrifice and a dangerous, borderline deadly deal. That was all he knew, except that Isabelle was the second most dangerous person he'd ever met. The girl was cold-blooded, and would happily kill anything she was allowed to.

She made a few quick hand-signs to her sister and him, nodding with a soft purr. Gabriel, though, cocked his head at the last sign. He recognized it from somewhere, he just couldn't remember where...

"Gabe, Isabelle said to hurry your ass. Let's go." Priscilla nudged his shoulder, pushing him for the door.

"Alright, I'm coming. I'll be back soon, Vance!" He waved over his back as he pushed open the door, holding it for the girls, who immediately got into their car, relegating him to the back seat.

"Road trip!" Gabriel jokingly cheered, but it made Isabelle smile, a rare thing. She sighed a few words, and Gabriel once again was left to question what that one sign was, and why he knew it.

"She said 'Gabriel, you're ridiculous.'" Priscilla informed, but she was also smirking.

When they lapsed into the silence of the hunter's road, he remembered that sign and what she was using it for.

The sign meant 'Angel'. And she was using it in place of his name.

{October, 2013}

The ride started fun, continued to be so, even when they took a break at the side of the highway outside Springview.

During the first hour of the trip, they had discussed everything from life on the road to politics, to sex. It was all the intelligent brilliance and luscious debauchery that Gabriel had missed over the last few years, even if it was mostly talk.

Literally, college kids were freaking magic.

They talked silly to serious, all the way through, before Ti had to pull over.

"Rest stop, bitches." She announced, spinning around in the seat. "Alex, get your pretty ass over here, boo." She waved a hand. "C'mon, we can make out as long as we keep it down."

Alex climbed the seats, laying down with Ti in the front row. Gabriel caught the rest of their conversation rather clearly, thanks to angelic hearing.

"Y'now, if you can keep quiet and not move, we can have a little fun up here too." Ti whispered conspiratorially.

"Kinky." Alex returned in a light, sultry tone. "You know I'm into i- not now, wait until they're as-sl-sleep..." The redhead but back a whimpered moan at that.

"Hey, uh, Gabriel..." Scott clambered his long limbs over the backrest into the rear row, basically the trunk. "I'm getting kicked out of the middle row. And I think Ti and Alex are doing it in the front seat. Sorry to make it awkward." He said sheepishly.

"Hey, as long as nobody winds up with an STD, yo." Gabriel shrugged, uncaring.

He and Scott had a few minute whisper conversation that, while interesting, mostly ignored what was going on behind the short little decorative curtain that made for a useful person shield. They were very alike, Gabriel and Scott, and had a lot in common, including an interest in the other. It was a while before Gabe finally popped a question in the lull of an awkward pause.

"Wanna make out?"

"God, please, yes."

The magic of being a pagan god is the sinful shit. Gabriel decided as they quickly lost their jackets and boots and multiple other layers, touching and touching and skin and skin and a little lower, a little harder, a little more, a little-

Then he realized something a little less of the pagan half of him, and more the angelic half of him. He missed the feeling of another body by his.

Touch starved, He remembered, that's the term.

Even if he barely knew Scott or his life or his friends, or path, or anything, it felt damn good.

He really needed to get to the Bunker.

-{[|]}-

Gabriel didn't really wake up, even when they got on the road. He let the minimal amount of grace he had active drain away, and he let his vessel's instincts take fully over, and he just splattered for the rest of the night.

"Hey, Max, wake up Gabe and Scott. Ask 'me what they want from Mcinedibles." Kayala ordered from the driver's seat.

"'Ee, I swear, if tha's you badmouthing Micky Dee's I'm breaking up here and now."

"Alex, when have you ever hear' me complain abou' McDonald's. Ever."

"No'sure, but you could've."

"Fuck you."

"You already did."

"Yeah, you're right." Ti huffed. "Max, wake up!" Ordered Ti with a kick to his seat. "Wake up the boys and ask them about food."

Max groaned, but flipped over and sat up, brushing the curtains away from the back seat and looking down.

The sunlight from the front windshield fell over his shoulder, illuminating Gabriel and Scott's faces, who scowled squintily up, growling angrily at Max

"Oh Jesus my eyes!" Max yelped, falling back to his own side of the seat.

It was then that Gabriel remembered he and Scott were mostly naked, barely covered by the fluffy but worn grey blanket that was just pulled up to Gabriel's rather sharp hip-bones. Hey, for all the junk that he ate, deep down, he still liked looking like a sex god.

"Fuck off, Max." Scott grumbled, twisting his head to press into the space between the seat and Gabriel's arm. "Suck my dick."

Ti's head, hair a little ruffled, popped up from the seat. "Looks like Gabriel already did that."

"Fuck you too, Ti." Scott flipped her the bird, and Gabriel gave a rumbling chuckle.

"As fun as this is, I'm hungry, which means you need to get off me." He patted Scott's shoulder. The other young man groaned, but obeyed, sitting up and straddling Gabriel's hips.

He turned to lean on the back of the next row of seats, a relaxed, cocky grin plastered on his cheeks. "Get me two Bacon Mcdoubles, a large fries, and a coffee." He called forward.

"Ditto that, but can you get me a hot chocolate instead of the coffee?" Gabriel half-shouted from his position pinned under Scott. "I've got some cash if Scotty would let me grab my jacket."

"Uh-uh, I'm paying for yours." Scott insisted.

"You kidding? To the guy who managed to get Scott out of his deep blue funk and call him 'Scotty' without getting slapped? You ain't paying for shit." Ti threw her head back, wavy brown hair ruffled, cackling.

Gabriel laughed loudly, and settled back as Scott handed him his jeans and shirt. "Well, then, thanks."

"Sit down and shut up." Alex growled from some random location. "Some of us are still sleepin'."

They all giggled a bit at that.

-{[|]}-

The next two hours were fairly unneventful, all of them trading stories from their journeys, not exactly wanting to let go of each other. Scott's hand didn't leave Gabriel's thigh for a solid hour, until it was his shift at driving.

That put Gabriel in the passenger's seat, managing music while Scott and him talked on jokes and pranks, plans for the future.

"Well, yeah. I went to college, I have an engineering degree, or whatever. No plans, though." Scott shrugged, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of 'Pumped Up Kicks'. "How about you?"

"I just have to make it to home." Gabriel sighed. "I'll figure out what to do from there. I used to do some pretty crazy shit way back when, and I don't think my life'll slow down." Ever. Gabriel added wordlessly.

"Well, I don't like to sonder, but damn, you sure sound like you had a wacky early basis." Scott joked.

"You've got no idea." Gabriel chuckled weakly, watching out the window as they continued down the highway.

It wasn't as long of a trip as Gabriel had hoped. Really, he wanted to be stuck in that car with the other teens for another few hours, but he didn't get that option.

"Well, Gabe, thanks for... y'know, riding with us." Scott nodded to him, a forlorn smile on his mouth. "Y'sure you can't stay?"

"I'll be back on the highway before noon, Scotty." Gabriel tipped the hat Max had given him, a sheer, silk black baseball cap. "Thanks anyway, though."

"Where are y'headed? Specifically. And don't say Westerville, you lied about that. Nobody as cute as you goes to Westerville." Ti joked with an eye roll.

Gabriel took a breath, closing his eyes. "...Lebanon." He announced, dropping his head.

"As in, Kansas?" Kayala let out a low whistle. "Long way from home out here, Gabe."

"No kidding, right?" He crooked his head upward to look her in the eyes. "...Thanks a lot, you guys. Really."

"...You're welcome, Gabe. Thanks for... everything." Scott gave him a final, sad smile before sliding further into the van, Kayala hopping into the passenger's seat while the others sat up straight, shutting the door and waving to him through the window. Gabriel kept his hand up, waving to them too, then the van turned onto the highway and vanished from view.

"...Later guys..." He murmured to empty air, slowly letting his hand lower.

He had a long way to go.

Gabriel stopped only once before a gas station to undo the disguise he had given his vessel. Upon arrival, he noticed two trucks this time rather than the normal three or more. Damn... I'll probably have to steal a car, come Ravenna. He realized with a grim sinking feeling.

He pushed into the store, buying more water and another bottle of painkillers, just enough to last him to the Bunker. After that, he had all the medical supplies in the world and a bed. God, a bed.

Archangels didn't need to sleep, but that didn't mean it wasn't awesome. Sleep was great. He loved it. Replenish, rejuvenate... Wonderful. He couldn't wait for a bed.

His room had always been room 1, level B. The 'Monday room', as they had jokingly called it, because it had one of the few windows in the place. In the summer mornings, it was Hell when the sun came up. Bright and irritating, though the least they could do was spray-paint some fake dirt on it. It didn't really help, though. On top of that, he thought it was rather ironic that the Archangel of Monday lived in the Monday room.

Gabriel requested the store clerk to see about anyone heading to Ravenna, before walking out to check on his ribs and arm.

They were healing nicely, but one of the branches in his arm-wrap had broken in his uh... activities, the night prior. After fixing the brace and rewrapping his bandages, he felt much better. The splintered end of the broken stick had been poking him in the arm for the past hour, but it was more comfortable now.

"Um, excuse me..." A voice, light and simple, and not at all imposing, crept up behind him. Gabriel spun around, coming to face a short girl, barely over five feet with soft blond hair, looking at him shyly. "You... said you needed to get to Ravenna? In the store?" She inquired warily.

"If uh... if you're willing to take me..." Gabriel mumbled softly, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Follow." She instructed gently, her flats tapping on the concrete as they headed for a golden and black-marked car. It had to be a Crown Vic, something that Gabriel hadn't seen in years, but it sounded no less pretty when she turned it on. "So..." She began, adjusting her mirrors. "What's your name?"

"Gabriel." The Archangel purred, keeping his voice calm and soft, no flirtatious lilt this time. "And you are?"

"Hannah." She murmured, then focused on the road.

Gabriel didn't make an effort at conversation either. He was too tired to.

-{[|]}-

"Well, thanks for the ride." He smiled loosely as he hopped out of her passenger seat.

"...You're welcome..." She blushed. "...I'm, sorry I'm not a good conversationalist."

"Well, you got me here alive, and that's good enough. Thanks, kiddo." Gabriel plastered on another fake smile, hoping, wanting this day to be over already. He was exhausted.

When her golden Crown Vic had vanished down the highway, Gabriel made his way to the gas station. He was tired of waiting.

It was a straight line run from Ravenna to Lebanon, and he was making it.

The grace it took to unlock and start his stolen car was minimal, Gabriel slipping into the silver Chevrolet Impala without incident. It sure wasn't the Impala he was used to, but it would have to do. Somewhere, deep in his chest, was a long-forgotten sensation of longing, the desire to... to have a friend again. The time he had forgotten that had been when he was with Scott and the others, and they were...

Safe. Gabriel thought, leaning his head forward to rest on the wheel. They're safe. Just go to Lebanon. Clean up. Bandage wing. Eat. Drink. Sleep. In that order. He told himself, just wanting peace. Peace and quiet.

...Let's go home now. That Michael-voice who told him to get walking earlier was still helping him out, even though Gabriel knew where his brother actually was.

Ignoring the tumultuous feelings in his lower chest, Gabriel put the car in reverse, pulled out, and started down Ravenna Road, away from his feelings.

Chapter Text

{May, 1909}

The hunt was simple. In and out.

He was home before he knew it.

In all honesty, Gabriel had forgotten when he started calling the Bunker, a house full of people more than willing to kill him if they knew what he really was, 'home'.

It was disorienting, to consider a place like that 'home', but that was what it had become. Gabriel didn't have heaven, not anymore, and the pagans could barely be considered his friends. More like 'Acquaintances that won't kill each other. Most of the time.'

"Gabriel!" Vance called, cutting through Gabriel's searing headache like a pick axe. The witch in league with the fallen angel had blasted him, a spell that was supposed to implode his skull. All it did was give him the mother of all migraines and a general hatred of light.

"Voice low, Vance." Priscilla talked softly, her airy, sophisticated tone coming out with the volume. "Gabriel was hit by the witch. Minor spell, a headache for a few hours."

Gabriel dragged forward a bound, blindfolded and ear-covered figure. "But we caught the floozy! Go call Wayne, tell him I got him a present. Gift wrapped." Gabriel grinned loosely, then winced.

"You should go lie down." Vance instructed. "You'll get a crack at her for this later, but go get rid of the headache first."

"Done and done." Gabriel smirked weakly. "Bye, girls."

"Bye Gabe." Pricilla waved while Isabelle signed something along the lines of 'Goodbye Angel' as they left.

"Let's go have a play with that one, shall we?" Vance chuckled darkly as he pulled the unresisting figure down the stairs, heading for the dungeon.

-{[|]}-

Gabriel sat on a comfortable wooden chair, a lazily contented expression on as he watched the angel scream for release, tied down as she was.

The Enochian engraved collar around her throat clinked with the chain that held her down, the shackles on her wrists rattling with her movements, shifts and shouts for her siblings to help her.

Gabriel knew they wouldn't be coming, or if they were, they were coming to kill her before the Men of Letters could crack her. That was, if the angels could even sense her anymore. They probably couldn't, with the whole 'Bunker' issue.

She spat a gob of blood at Wayne's feet, slow, coughing, mocking laughter snaking into the air around them. The angel growled something in Enochian, which only made Wayne hit her with the sword and demand 'ENGLISH' at her, but it didn't work.

This is just getting sad... Gabriel huffed, standing and stripping off his jacket, unpinning and rolling up his sleeves. "Hey, Wayne, buddy, can I get a crack at her?"

"I suppose." Wayne stepped back, leaning against the wall with a sweeping gesture.

Gabriel grinned sadistically, picking his Archangel sword off the table of weapons, walking in front of the angel and squatting to rest his butt on his heels. "Heya sweetheart. How you feeling?" He asked, tilting his head.

She hissed something clear in Enochian. 'Eat shit' was the basic translation.

"I know, baby, I know..." Gabriel murmured softly, running a hand gently over her head and down her hair. Pulling her a little closer to his face, he mouthed some response Enochian. 'Obviously t'was you, who already ate of that bitter meal.'

Her mouth snapped shut with an audible click, staring at Gabriel with disbelief and astonishment. "There you go." Gabriel purred happily. "You wanna try English now?"

She nodded, but was still in too much shock to actually speak.

"Good," Gabriel smiled. "Now, you're going to tell Wayne what he wants to know, or we're going to play 'How much do I know about angels'."

The angel swallowed sharply, but her mouth remained closed and unmoving.

"He's our lead angel biologist, kid." Wayne announced from somewhere behind them. "I wouldn't tempt him."

She spat a revolt at the human, but remained in Enochian. 'Foul mud-monkey! This is no human!'

'That may be true.' Gabriel responded in kind, touching the tip of his blade to the bottom of her chin. 'But you're not quite sure what I am either, are you?'

'The silver is not...' She stammered, waiting in fear.

'Burning me, no.' Grinning toothily, he slid the tip of the knife down to the hollow of her throat. 'Actually, I am human, for now. So you're going to tell us what we want to know, and maybe I won't kill you.'

'You'll kill me either way.' She hissed back, defiance burning in her eyes.

'You're right. The least I can do is promise a swift death. Heaven won't be as kind, will it?'

The angel went very silent once again.

"Alright..." Gabriel announced impatiently in English. "Let's try this again."

And he sliced the knife under her left collarbone, angling the point to carve the meat away from the bone, going through her True Form like a hot knife through butter.

She screamed, wings flapping behind her in terror and pain. He had hit one of six energy centres in the angel, basically the angelic equivalent of a sensitivity spot. "Hey, uh, Wayne, can you get me a pair of Holy Oil Glasses? I want access to her wings."

"Wh-what?!" The angel gasped, breathing heavy and panicky. "N-no, ple-"

"Here you are." Wayne handed him the elegant, horn-rimmed glasses, which for Gabriel were only for show. He could already see her wings.

"Alright..." At her next flap, his hand shot out and caught the top joint of her brown-silver wings. "...You wanna talk yet, or still-"

She spat at him.

"Point..." Gabriel pushed the wing down, then twisted up and brought it forward again in a swift movement. A loud crack followed by the angel's agonized screeching wail, bordering her true voice, rang out. She slumped slightly, panting reedy and overly high-pitched. "Taken." Gabriel finished with a small sigh. He hated hurting his own species. Admitted, he didn't exactly like any of his own kind, but still...

With soft noises and breathy whimpers, she shook hard, like a constant shiver, under his hand. "Trust me, sweetie, you can make it stop."

"...Hea-Heaven'll-ll... Kill m-me an-anyway..." She murmured, tears streaking her cheeks as she hiccuped.

"Then I can promise you, we'll make your death down here quick." He patted her head.

"...O-ok..." She whispered. "... W-Wayne... I c-can tell you... what you wa-want to know."

Gabriel's face darkened with a satisfied huff, and he quickly turned to leave, wanting away from that other angel and her now-broken wing.

-{[|]}-

Gabriel lay on his back at the top of his bunk, holding his book above his head.

"Gabriel!"

With a yelp, Gabriel dropped the book (A nice, thick hardcover) onto his face, flipping over as he spat out dust. "Damnit, Marcus, couldn't'ya knock or something?"

"Sorry, Gabe." Marcus shrugged as he padded further into the room. "You feeling ok?"

"Yeah, fine." Gabriel responded, sitting up and almost hitting his head on the roof. "Why, what's wrong?"

"Nothing. You were just really quiet after the whole thing with the angel earlier." Marcus leaned against the opposite wall, looking up at Gabe.

"Well, I definitely don't enjoy torturing, Marcus." Gabriel snapped, slumping onto his back and bringing his book above his head again.

"...s'long as you're ok." Marcus mumbled as he retreated from the room, leaving Gabriel to his silence and his book.

{October, 2013}

C'mon, dad, throw me a bone here. He thought at the downpour, so heavy he could barely see through it. The rain was loud and oppressive, attacking from all sides. Judging on how water-slick the road was getting, he'd have to pull over soon, or he'd wind up crashing, which wouldn't be useful.

Plus, he was tired.

Not the comfortable, casual feeling of sleepiness that came with rainstorms and their negative ions, but actual tiredness. No Archangel should ever feel tired.

And yet here he was.

The third time he had to force his eyes open was when he officially, well and truly, hated whoever cast the spell. They were actually, openly evil in his eyes, and when he found them... oh, when he found them...

Gabriel was lucky he was resourceful. His wings weren't burned off, protected by pagan magic as they were. They really wouldn't take long to heal, a few weeks at worst, and after that, he was going to fly straight to Heaven and pluck the imbecile's wings. He was going to shred every feather off the idiot, fillet his grace like a tuna fish, and scatter him across the galaxy. Maybe he'd even fly down to Hell and leave him with some rabid demons. Or cut off his wings, or even permanently disfigure them in some way, make them unusable for flight, before throwing his ass into Purgatory. Let off a flash of his own grace for fun, like a dinner bell. One way or another, whoever cast his siblings from their home was going to have hell to pay.

Gabriel pulled over to what he hoped was the shoulder of the road. He just wanted off the highway and back at the Bunker, even if there held the strange sensation of never belonging. Monachopsis. He remembered. Millions of words, in millions of languages, Gabriel had always enjoyed curious, engaging words such as monachopsis. The actual definition was something Gabriel was intimately familiar with; the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place. He hated the way it churned his insides like a whisk, ripping at his chest softly, the world's most gentle scraping, a mouse taking the layers off his lungs with delicate and tiny claws.

Another word, He thought as he watched the rain spray to the ground in peace and silence, shutting out all other thoughts for a bit. is chrysalism. Did you know that? He chuckled slightly as thunder roared across the sky. It's the feeling of peace when you're inside during a thunderstorm.

The desire to talk out loud was actually rather strong, as though he was talking to a sibling. He could remember a similar conversation with Michael years ago, but that was about another word.

For a long time, he just stayed, watching the rain fall within is bubble of quiet and safety, eyes fluttering shut every few seconds. Sleep would feel good, for a few hours. He really did need to get to the Bunker. There, he had security. He could use a little security. Maybe another person to hold on to. Gabriel wondered. He wanted a peaceful life. He had been on the run for so, so long. He needed solid food and sleep.

Sliding down so he lay on his side over the impala's seats, uncaring about the discomfort where the centre console pressed into his spine.

Taking his phone and setting it for 30 minutes, at which point he alarm would ring anwake him, Gabriel settled down for a quick nap.

Less than an hour now... Gabriel thought, reassured by the idea of being home. Carefully, he tugged off his jacket, folding it under his head, reaching up to turn on the heater. It was a cheap move for comfort, but he was lonely.

So, in a warm, rain-drenched car, Gabriel gradually, slowly, allowed himself to sink back into the seat to the sweet, quiet music of water pouring from the before he quite realized how tired he was, sleep swallowed him in it's soothing, secure embrace.

-{[|]}-

The most God-awful alarm woke him up.

At first, he actually wondered if he was back in Heaven, if the last few millennia had been a dream, and if his big brother Luci was screeching in his ear to wake him up.

Instead, it was actually just the fucker who programmed that freaking 'Sci-Fi' ringtone.

Sadist. Gabriel growled unhappily as the high-pitched screaming made a headache spring up, wanting to tackle him back to the seat and go back to sleep. It also didn't help the dizzying shift the world took as he sat up, head spinning with a splitting headache.

When was the last time I checked on my wing? He wondered abruptly, starting to pull them forward, so he could at least see and interact with them.

Which was when his broken one lit up in agony.

Gabriel bit his lip, hands tightening on the steering wheel to keep from howling with the pain. His right wing resisted the whole time he brought it beside him, pinned between the door and himself. It didn't really help, but he liked the illusion.

The grace surrounding the break was charred and inflamed, tumulus and uneven rather than smooth and aligned. Angelic infection. He realized with a soft groan of exasperation, followed by a slightly louder, more bitten whimper as he shifted the wing again.

Leaning over to lay the front seats as flat as possible, Gabriel shifted to the side, allowing his wing some space before pressing his hand to the damage. It was hot and swollen, a sure sign that he wound probably get sick within the next little while if he didn't make it to the damn Bunker.

So he did the smartest thing possible.

He put the car into drive and accelerated, resolved to taking the straightest route to the Bunker he could.

No matter how many speeding laws he broke. He was an Archangel. Fuck that.

Chapter Text

{May, 1909}

It was close to midnight. Probably past midnight. Gabriel cared exactly nothing.

That evening, he had slipped to the garage and hopped onto his black motorcycle, shooting from the basement as fast as he could.

He needed some fresh air.

Riding on the bike now was about as close as he came to flying. He had agreed with himself, that for the duration of Gabriel Moran's, his human nickname's, life, he would use his grace as little as possible to avoid detection.

His wings were a little harder to ignore.

They were physical to an angel, a demon, anything that needed them physical. Some forms of were-creature could even see an angel's wings when they needed to.

He drove swiftly, closing his eyes and letting the wind through his hair mimic the endless feeling of flying.

Alone now, Gabriel had too much time for his own thoughts.

He was... lonely. Despite being in the closest knit community he had lived in since long before the birth of Christ. Back in Heaven.

That had been a long time ago.

Heaven seemed like a millennia ago now, when Dad was home and when he felt... safe.

When was the last time he felt safe?

He supposed here, as it was technically the only place he had ‘belonged’ to since Heaven, but he felt out of position with the humans and their short, precious lives.

Gabriel stretched forward and back into eternity. There was little that could kill an Archangel, and fewer still willing to try. Even a Leviathan would fear a pissed off, righteously angered Archangel.

Yet Gabriel chose to spend his time with people.

-{[|]}-

“Gabe?”

Gabriel turned to face Vance, who walked in silently. Vance would’ve made a good hunter, if he was less bookish and more outgoing.

“Heya Vance. How are you?” Gabriel questioned, head tilted slightly to the side.

“I was wondering the same about you. Gabriel, since that session with the angel you pulled in, you’ve been...” Vance fell off, searching for words.

“Distracted?” Gabriel inserted. “Off-centre? Confused?”

“All of the above.” Vance waved a hand dismissively. “And I wanted to know if you were ok with the... The mission.”

“Look, Vance.” Gabriel sighed. “Shay’s already talked to me about the whole guilt complex thing. I know that... That...” He took a deep breath. “I know that kid wasn’t my fault.”

{October, 2013}

Gabriel pulled down the road in front of the Bunker's entrance, wincing with uneasy shifts in weight. Over the last hour, his whole right side had begun to throb like it was actually on fire.

Carefully, he eased himself out of the car, trying not to put too much weight on his right side at all.

Towering above him, the old power plant they had set overtop of the Bunker rose in it's great stone glory. Even after Gabriel Moran had 'died'... Gabriel the Archangel had long since stuck close to the Men of Letters, at least until his old Pagan 'friends' caught up with him. He had lost regular contact at around 1953, soon after the computer had been installed.

And yet, he still carried his key. Every day of his life.

Gabriel carefully walked around the front of the car, slipping one hand up to his throat. Sliding one hand into the front of his shirt, he traced a thick leather cord over his collarbones, down to his chest, fingers pressing the heavy iron key against his sternum.

He pulled the key free, looping it off of his head, pressing his hand against the door in a means of connection.

"...Home." Gabriel whispered. Then he slipped his key into the lock and turned it, the door opening with a soft grinding noise, effortless and easy.

Stepping inside was like walking into another universe, one where he finally felt he belonged again. A grin spread lazily over his face as he walked through the threshold, the air somehow easier to breathe in now, despite the agony in his ribs and back.

The Bunker was dark, but he didn't care. Memory of thirty-someodd years lived and another thirty stalked brought him down the steps to the breaker almost without thought, snapping the switch to the 'on' position.

Lights turned on progressively, with loud ga-chunk noises that made Gabriel feel more at home than he had in a long time. Leaning against the wall, he crept deeper into the Bunker, walking through it's main room. The tables were neatly arranged, though some notes and files, as well as several books were splayed open on the one closest to the stairs.

Huh. Gabriel thought, reaching over to flip one of the note pages. At the top of the page, a date and label on the notes about demonic torture. 'W. King, 1913' it read. So they're still up and running. Awesome.

Gabriel cautiously maneuvered around the table, humming faintly under his breath as he made a recap of what he had to do. Clean up. Bandage wing. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Sounds good.

First things first though... He decided, circling around to the control panel for the wards in the base. Whoever's here now has no idea how to run this place... He growled darkly, making a note to educate them on how the wards worked. The first level wards were on, meaning that just general creatures were kept out. Gabriel read over the labels to make sure that nothing had changed while he had been out, and turned on the second and third levels. Angel-demon warding, and finally, blanket wards. Perfect. Gabriel hummed happily as he felt the warding kick in, quickly accepting him as a member of the household. After all, once your blood sigil was on the wall, not much was going to get you out of there.

Following old, long remembered footsteps down the hallway, Gabriel took the stairs to the second level. Room 4, level A, showers. Gabriel recalled as he pushed into room 1, level B, into a place that didn't look all that different than how he had left it.

The bed, a pipe-frame loft, was not that changed, just had a desk where a second bed would be, and it looked like the mattress had been replaced too. The old dresser, rickety even when Gabriel had been it's owner, was gone, replaced with something straight out of the 1950's, which was good. He was alright with that.

With the angel warding up, Gabriel felt rather free to strip down to his skin, repairing his clothes and folding them up as he went, allowing his grace out of the cage he had kept it in. Unfortunately, that just made the pain in his arm and spine triple as his grace reconnected with every facet of his vessel.

Taking a long towel from the closet, Gabriel tied a makeshift sling around his neck and chest, resting his semi-corporeal broken wing in the fabric. With the injury reduced to a significantly lower concentration, Gabriel relaxed, sinking a little against the wall as exhaustion washed over him. Slipping into one of the house coats hanging in the closet, Gabriel rested for a moment, wanting to just collapse into the bed and not move for a few hours.

Pushing off the welcomed support, Gabriel turned down the hallway and started for the first level again, accepting the grim humiliation of using the stair railing because his shoulder ached like someone was trying to drive a rusty demon blade through it.

Walking down the hall to the kitchen, Gabriel immediately noticed the addition of a cheap, but obviously from the time period fridge that nestled in the space of a wall and an oven.

“Huh.” He murmured to himself, checking its contents for anything he might’ve needed. Unfortunately, whoever stocked the fridge had remembered lemon juice but not fresh dill. Idiots. Gabriel thought. Who the hell makes poultice without the friggin’ dill? He removed the lemon juice and placed it on the metal topped island, as well as a bottle of purified water and a plastic bear full of honey.

After blessing the water to turn it Holy, Gabriel dumped half a cup of lemon juice, a few squeezes of the honey and all of the water into a saucepan, turning it on to high heat, immediately leaving the room in a swirl of his coat.

From there, he went back upstairs to room 28, snatching all manners of seemingly random items from the walls. Pyre ash, dried oak leaves, poppy seeds, holy oil and angel feather, to name a few. The rest I can find in the kitchen. They probably have oregano and oatmeal, at least. I can zap up the oats if I really need to... Mentally listing the ingredients for the grace repairing substance he was creating, Gabriel returned downstairs to combine his materials.

The soupy green substance was still plenty liquidy by the time he was done mixing it, but it smelled good enough. He knew it would sting like Hell the minute he actually put it on anything, but for the time being, it was like a really chunky tea.

Setting his heat low, allowing the mixture to burn off liquid, Gabriel headed for the bathroom where he could finally, finally clean himself off.

It’s been too damn long...

-{[|]}-

After his shower, Gabriel felt significantly more like himself again. While grace would certainly clean his vessel perfectly, nothing was quite as satisfying as scrubbing down, getting his fingers through his hair, generally, interacting with his vessel. And whoever left the shampoo and conditioner, thank Dad for you.

The kitchen was filled with a warm, soft sort of smell that told him his poultice was probably almost done. Wandering to the cupboard, Gabriel removed the sea-salt, placing it beside the oven as he searched the fridge for something to eat.

He did eventually find a homemade burger in the back of the fridge, setting it and a bottle of holy water on the counter while he removed the thick, gravy-like green substance from the burner and stirred in a generous portion of salt.

He had also found bandages during his last search around the Bunker, setting three rolls of gauze wrap and medical tape on the island, followed by a large spoon and the pot full of poultice.

Removing his wing from the sling, Gabriel lay it flat on the aluminum top, wincing as he strained the already torn muscles. Drawing the saucepan of evil toward himself, Gabriel scooped up a good portion on the spoon, held it over the wound and stopped.

“C’mon...” He mumbled to himself. “It’s just gonna sting for a half second...”

So he dumped it on.

“Mmmmmother fUCKER!” Gabriel shouted, forcing his breathing to measure through clenched teeth, or he was going to bite his tongue off. When the sizzling pain finally subsided enough for Gabriel to shakily press more green death-juice into the cut and inflamed grace surrounding it, he wanted to just tear his wing off. It hurt less earlier, when it was just in the sling! That weird Michael-voice crowed at him, as though mocking.

Yeah, shut up. Gabriel thought furiously, pulling the wing to fold properly, before shoving down, bringing the bone pieces together with a grinding click, then bandaging the whole area. Layered in white gauze, it looked a little like a gigantic wasp’s nest had lain on his wing, but he really, really didn’t care. After it was bandaged and folded, Gabriel reset it in the sling, slumping back and struggling to take a full breath.

He cleaned the items he had used, packaging the rest of the poultice into a container he summoned, labeling it and throwing it into the fridge. After that, he heated the burger and ate, marveling over the taste. The burger was clearly homemade, and Gabriel resolved to compliment the chef when he got around to meeting whoever else lived there now.

Sitting in the chair, Gabriel was briefly stricken with the thought of how empty the Bunker was. Normally, there would at least be one person there, cleaning out the drawers or rearranging the files, or maybe Shay, cooking an early supper.

Gabriel missed the people, the activity, the life of the place. Now, the Bunker just felt like...

A skeleton.

With a sigh, Gabriel stood up, stretching out his back with a series of long popping noises. Cleaned up, wing fixed, food eaten, water drank... He placed the empty bottle on the counter. Sleep. Then find out who’s here still, who’s left, and if anyone knows about me.

Gabriel hummed happily as he hopped back up the stairs, climbing into the loft bed and wrapping himself in a cocoon of soft, warm blankets. Feeling a lot like a metamorphasizing caterpillar, Gabriel half-curled into his stomach, letting his right wings splay on the rest of the bed while his left sets fell over the railing of the pipe frame.

Happy, safe, relaxed and content, Gabriel only held on to consciousness for a few seconds longer, warm and sleepy, before accepting that he was going to be fine here, that he was going to be ok.

And Gabriel fell asleep, fully and completely, for the first time in a few decades.

-{[|]}-

Gabriel headed down the hall, humming faintly to the tune of ‘Can I Get A Witness’ before pushing into a room labeled ‘7B’.

Flicking on the light, Gabriel walked past the shelves, noting how much else had been filled. Records that went back from 1958 back were shelved neatly, prompting Gabriel to walk back to about 1910, mouthing the words of the chorus as he combed through files of the year. Maybe not here... Where’s the familial records? He questioned, crouching down to a filing box, sliding it free and onto the floor as he removed the lid and placed it to the side, searching through the names.

“Well, I must say, whoever you are, I don’t recognize your footsteps.”

The voice was Scottish, a little gritty, and so slick Gabriel wondered if he’d slip and slide onto his ass, and the owner of the smooth voice would wish he was the floor.

And it was coming from the dungeon.

Standing smoothly, Gabriel silenced his humming and slowly, carefully crept toward the bookshelves that hid the dungeon from view.

“Well, c’mon lovely. I’d love to get to know whoever owns that voice.” The person, a demon, Gabriel figured, called again. The Archangel could just about hear the smug smirk in his voice.

Gabriel turned around to check the doorway of the Archive, before placing his hands on the moveable shelves and pushing them open.

“Well, I must say, I didn’t know that the boys had more friends tha-“

Crowley, the King of Hell, sat at a table, tied up with chains and Enochian shackles, looking away as he began talking, then turning forward, the words dying on his lips as he and Gabriel made eye contact.

The pair stood there, staring openly as neither made a move to talk, breathe or shift, shock weighing down the room like a physical thing, imposing itself between them.

“Y-you’re...” Crowley began, and Gabriel immediately spun around and slammed the shelves shut, whirling to press his back against them.

What the hell...” Gabriel gasped in astonishment, backing away from the shelves. “Ok, keep it together, I’m ok, there’s just...” He paused, taking a shaky breath. “Crowley... As in, the King of Hell, trapped, in my Archive.” He whispered.

Archangels may be absolute, but Gabriel had lived on earth long enough to know that they were truly emotional creatures. And the fact that Crowley was in the Archive made him very, very confused. Shouldn’t Crowley be ruling Hell? Not trapped in the Bunker... I should’ve disguised my grace. The thought occurred way late, even as Gabriel calmed himself down. “You, uh, stay put.” He told Crowley through the shelves.

“I umm...” Crowley paused. Gabriel could tell that Crowley was having more problem processing this than he was. “I uh... Alright...”

Gabriel speed-walked away from the dungeon, snatching up the Archive member box and exiting, snapping off the lights as he went away from Crowley. He could come back and get information from the idiot later.

Slapping the box down with far more care than he pretended to have, Gabriel yanked back a chair and sat down, pulling out a listing file, one of the papers that would have all the last names of the members to live in this Bunker over the last few decades.

He read through them, examining each name and trying to remember the forefather that he might’ve known. The name Blanch King-Price sounded familiar, and he realized that one of her parents was Sol Price, a hunter who he had known, along with his sister. The girl’s mother was Emil King, who had never married Sol, and while that would’ve been taboo way back in the day, Blanch had apparently grown up in the Bunker, learning how to be a dissection expert and hunting.

All of them, they got... lives, on top of this. Gabriel realized with a smile. Awesome.

He had just gotten to the last names after ‘U’, when he heard a dull thump of the door closing behind him.

‘Heard’, is used loosely in that case. Gabriel certainly heard the noise, but it didn’t register, because he knew he had locked the door.

So the concept of it unlocking peacefully and opening was not one that occurred to him quickly.

Gabriel, focused on his reading, didn’t even realize that another person was behind him until they spoke.

“...Gabriel?” A voice that was definitely familiar asked, filled with shock, disbelief and astonishment.

Gabriel whipped around, just about falling off his chair with the speed of the movement. “Sam?” He jumped to his feet, meeting the younger hunter’s eyes. Sam was still shell shocked, eyes wide and jaw slightly parted. “...Winchester?” Astonishment filled Gabriel’s tone. “...How the hell did you get in he-“

Vance.

Vance Winchester.

Gabriel’s head snapped to look down at the pages of names, quickly catching a ‘V. Winchester, succeeded by his son Henry, and by his grandson John.’ Gabriel looked back up, making eye-contact with Sam again. Of course. He thought with dark sarcasm.

Gabriel and Sam stood, unblinkingly staring each other down. Gabriel could swear he had could see something inside Sam, something not quite the same as the bright soul he knew. Gabriel had always enjoyed Sam, one of the many reasons he tried to help out the younger Winchester, but looking back on it, he could’ve been less of an ass about it. But for now, he focused on the strange light that seemed to be contained underneath his soul, covered and barely noticeable. Why’s it... there? What is it?

“Sammy?” Dean called from the stairs, appearing around the corner with the Colt held at his hip. Then he saw Gabriel, and immediately aimed at his head.

“Great...” Gabriel muttered under his breath, slowly raising his hands in a gesture of surrender, moving them to sit behind his head. So, so not how I wanted today to go... Gabriel thought as Dean crept forward, holding the Colt in one hand and an angel’s blade in another.

“Not another word outta you, bitch.” Dean hissed, teeth gritted.

Gabriel opened his mouth to retaliate with something snarky and preferably long, but he really didn’t feel like getting shanked or kicked out.

So he shut his trap and accepted the Winchester’s treatment in silence.

Chapter Text

{June, 1909}

The hunt was going poorly.

Gabriel crouched behind a wooden box, his Mauser held tight against his chest with one finger itching to pull the trigger. Admitted, the shot of salt-water coated iron would be useless at the moment, but he wanted to.

He glanced to the lanky blond teen who held a bag of salt and a similarly iron-salt coated sidearm, Sol making a few quick hand gestures to move forward. Gabriel boosted to his feet, remaining low and balanced as he dashed forward, followed by Sol, the pair hiding behind a second crate. "Where's Alpha?" Gabriel hissed at him.

"Not sure." Sol answered, stretching his neck to peer around the corner, snapping back to look at Gabriel swiftly. "At least three of them out there. You gonna be good with that?"

Gabriel rolled his eyes. "I've been hunting longer than you've been alive." He whispered. "You kids need to get on my level."

"I'm sure, we'll think about that in about a second, when Alpha's done with the ground level demons." Sol agreed placatingly, right before a single shot rang out.

The first demon, a guard, went down like a sack of potatoes.

The other two jumped as he fell, searching the overhead beams for the black shape that would betray the sniper's location, which was when Gabriel and Sol moved.

A few shots and a quick finisher with his angel blade, Gabriel was waving to the ceiling of the warehouse, it's tin roof preventing him from seeing where Alpha was hiding at all. "Next shot's yours, kiddo. Go get the big one down, we'll get the others." He whisper-shouted, the words greeted with a soft slipping noise.

Sol and Gabriel leaned on the wall beside the door, waiting for the shots that would declare their time to come in.

"Well, got any good jokes?" Gabriel questioned quietly as they rested and listened.

"Really, Gabriel?" Sol turned to face him, an eyebrow raised. "Can you be serious for more than two minutes in a firefight?"

"Nope." Gabriel answered, a little too confidently. "Besides, I thought kids your age liked jokes."

"Not jokes from before I was born." Sol huffed, pulling out one of their potion smoke-bombs, custom made by De'van.

"I know, that's why I asked you about any jokes you knew!"

Sol chuckled lightly at that.

Then the shot came.

Sol lobbed the smoke-bomb over the wall, the glass shattering and slow, soft tendrils of thick grey smog leaking over the walls as chaos reigned inside the boxed off area, Alpha having obviously dropped into the fray, slaughtering the demons wholesale and ignoring the human hostages, avoiding the one they had been sent to capture.

Gabriel hummed a tune he had heard De'van singing the other day, pacing slowly while Sol fiddled with the Enochian handcuffs he brought along.

"Boys!" Alpha's surprisingly deep, low, half-growl of a voice called after the noises subsided. "All clear!"

Sol placed one hand on the handle, nodding to Gabriel, who cocked his rifle anyway, before pushing inside.

In the centre of the room, a tall, lithe, muscular woman stood, her short-cut black hair and combat gear making her look more like a guy. She was swiftly tying down a trapped demon, the one they had been sent to retrieve for Wayne, while Sol checked the rest of the room and started to untie the survivors.

"Hey sugar." Gabriel grinned playfully at Alpha, who simply gave him a fond scoff.

"You going to flirt or help me? Sol, pass Gabriel those cuffs!" She ordered in her sharp accent that sounded vaguely Irish, but also weirdly Canadian. It was the strangest thing to listen to, but... Gabriel was definitely going to Hell for wanting the half-child of a werefox, but damn if he wouldn't tap that.

The Enochian cuffs in question landed about an inch from his foot, prompting Gabriel to slide the tip of his boot under the chain and kick the cuffs upward, catching them as they came within grabbing range.

After that, Gabriel locked the demon into the cuffs, stepping away to allow Alpha to gag and blindfold him, covering his ears with thick wads of fabric that prevented him from hearing.

"Well, that hunt went great!" Gabriel grinned as Sol finished cutting the hostages free, helping them up and running to get his truck so they could be taken to the nearest town.

"We do indeed have the target." Alpha agreed, patting the demon's head, green-blue eyes flashing to slits. She intrigued Gabriel on a level few ever had.

"Oh, mission mission blah blah. Let's just put him in the trunk. Go for dinner." Gabriel suggested. 

"Gabe, we have Sol with us." Alpha informed unnecessarily, dragging the demon to his feet by his neck.

"Yeah, but we could get food."

"Later, you kinopsha." She laughed.

"Wait, was that Enochian? Damn, that sounded great!" Gabriel laughed as the group and their freed victims walked out of the warehouse, into the safety of the sun.

{October, 2013}

"You are the worst conversationalist I have ever met. I thought you were the Trickster, joking and all that."

Gabriel facepalmed lightly, letting his hand slide down his face with a drawn-out groan. The cuff around his wrist clinked loudly against itself as he did so, making a jarring clang as he dropped his hand toward the floor. "Do you ever shut up?" He growled, annoyed, at Crowley.

"Not at all." In the darkness, Gabriel could practically hear the demon's smirk. "It's a little worse right now, as I've had nobody to talk to for the last few days."

"Then go back to pretending that." Gabriel snapped, shuffling to lean in the corner better, wincing as his wing twinged with the rough movement.

"We're trapped in the same cell, angel, and we should talk as prisoners do. You know, don't make friends with the officers, but with the victims?" Crowley questioned.

"First off," Gabriel held up his pointer finger. "You ever call me 'angel' again, I'll smite you, wards or not. And before you ask," Gabriel interrupted when Crowley opened his mouth. "I know every nook and cranny, every ward, every sigil and it's counter in this place. Second, if we're both prisoners, how come you've got a collar and I've got a cute bracelet?" Gabriel held his hand up, rotating his arm to make the shackle bounce on his wrist with small clicking noises.

"Because, Goldie, they like you better." Crowley replied, making Gabriel grunt begrudgingly. "Though, I'm sure your previous treatment of them won't end up poorly, not at all." The demon noted smugly.

"Oh my God." Gabriel breathed out, words coming out as an exasperated heave. "Who the fuck decided it was a good idea to dump you on the throne of Hell?"

"I did!" Crowley responded just in time for the light to snap on, and footsteps to fill the area outside the dungeon.

"Hey, uh..." Gabriel raised his voice, temporarily ignoring the demon. Light, trying to be smaller footsteps. Annoying Michael informed. "Sammy!" Gabriel called. "Can you come'ere for a sec?"

The footsteps paused, suspicious, before the bookshelves pushed open. "It's Sam." The hunter growled darkly, staring down Gabriel.

"Or moose." Crowley piped up unhelpfully. Both of them completely ignored him.

"...Ok Sam." Gabriel agreed with a sigh. "Can you get my sling? Sitting on this floor hurts." He requested.

"The towel that you had tied around your shoulder earlier?" Sam questioned. Gabriel nodded in assent, and Sam raised an eyebrow. "Your arm doesn't look broken."

"It isn't." Gabriel answered immediately, wincing regretfully at the speed of the statement. "Look, it's private, I don't want to-"

Crowley bumped in instead. "His wing is busted, Moose, an-"

"Shut your trap." Gabriel hissed furiously, his other wings spreading out slightly, making Crowley's hide behind him.

"Your wing is broken?" Sam stared at him in astonishment. "How does an angel break a wing? Wait, hold on..." Sam waved him off as he prepared to answer. "How do you still even have wings?"

"Trade secret, but know I broke one on landing." Gabriel huffed, accepting his apparent fate. "And I'd like off this floor and my sling back so it doesn't hurt as much, thank you very much."

"Hold on, bitch." Dean growled gruffly, stalking into the room behind Sam, throwing the makeshift sling at Gabriel. "You're not going anywhere out of this room until you tell us how you made it into the most heavily warded place on earth."

Gabriel was momentarily astonished. "The most heavily warded place on- Oh my God, you idiots barely had the first layer of wards on!" He exclaimed, waving his free hand. "You're lucky that nobody knows about this place, or you'd've had every angel from here to Nevada on your ass!"

Sam and Dean shared a quick, suspicious look between each other and him, before turning back. "Still doesn't explain how you got inside." Sam stated in a measured, cool tone. "Did you pick the lock?"

"Oh yeah, I picked the lock on a fifty-someodd year old door, on the most heavily warded door on the planet." Gabriel stated, voice showing complete honesty. Sam and Dean appeared confused for a half second before Gabriel continued. "Of course not!" He exclaimed. "I had a key."

That seemed to confuse them even more. "...Where..." Sam stepped closer. "Where did you get a key?"

"I own one." Gabriel stated with a casual shrug. He really saw no reason to lie about this now, he was in too deep already.

"Yeah, sure you do." Dean scoffed. "Who's was it?"

"Mine!" Gabriel tapped a hand to his chest. "It's mine! Go ahead, check it." He fished the key out of his pocket, holding it out to them. "I happen to know what every key in this place is made of, and let me tell ya, salt-soaked, consecrated iron isn't easy to recreate or manipulate, so this is the original key."

Sam reached out carefully, snatching the key from Gabriel and handing it to Dean, who examined it. "... This is a key from the nineteen-hundred set." He glanced over as Sam stared at him in confusion. "...Where the hell did you get a key, in... a cover name, from the nineteen-hundreds?"

"I live here!" Gabriel half-shouted. "In the files, if you look, there was an angel researcher. His name was Gabriel. Alexander. Moran." Gabriel gritted out. "He was me."

"I know that name." Sam piped up. "He was an Enochian translator. That one who was working on the demon record book?" Sam's eyebrows narrowed. "He uncovered the names of some 60 demons, most of which had their bones burned."

"Yes!" Gabriel remembered. "We had to capture a demon for that! His name was Finnic. I pulled the information about the book out of him, then translated the book!"

"So, you mean you worked here?" Sam came a step closer. "You worked with the Men of Letters as their translator?"

"Better," Gabriel nodded. "I was their angel researcher. I lived here."

"Hold on..." Dean interrupted their chat. "You lived here?" He demanded, voice still disbelieving.

"Well yeah! I played at being human for almost a half century! Didn't really use my grace for any of it." Gabriel rolled his eyes in distaste. "I was stationed at this place for thirty years."

"...And you know how to use this place?" Sam asked suspiciously.

"Of course!" Gabriel snapped. Am I misspeaking or something? "Hello~? I spent the-" He cut off, realizing what he was about to spill. "I spent some time getting to know the hunter community. Well, Men of Letters community." He shrugged. "Now can you untie me?"

"Hold on..." Dean ordered when Sam reached for the cuff. "...How do we know you won't stab us in the back?"

"You trust me?" Gabriel returned. Dean stared at him, unimpressed. "Alright, you don't. But personally, as much fun as it would be to kick you all out and claim this place for myself, I rather enjoy you two, as trouble seems to follow you. And I'm bored. Faking your death only goes a little fun, y'know?"

"That reminds me..." Sam began, kneeling in front of Gabe. "How did you escape anyway? We went to get your body after you cleared out. Saw the wing-marks and everything."

Gabriel threw his head back and barked a laugh. "Hah! Luci wouldn't know a construct from his own brother, even if it was to stab him in the ass. I was actually the one you saw walk in from the front." He chuckled. "Right after I knew he was actually going to stab me, well..." He made a small flicking gesture. "Slight of hand trick. Never actually touched me."

"...Alright." Dean relented. "Let him out. One slip up, though, and I'm-"

"Gonna shove my own sword up my ass?" Gabriel finished.

"Good enough." Dean growled, starting to stalk off.

"Hey, can I have my key back? I actually like that thing!" He shouted after Dean's retreating back. The key landed on the floor a few feet away. Gabriel sighed as Sam started to unlock his cuff. "Well, Sammoose, looks like you gotta introduce me to the others." He said, fake-happily. "Who's the brains in this place now, because, no offence, the Men of Letters don't really take well to the whole 'hunter' business."

"...What do you mean, 'others'?" Sam asked slowly.

"Y'know, the researchers? Who's your witch right now? Oh, did you guys get a Wiccan instead?" Gabriel stood up as the cuff fell off, stretching out his arms.

"...What are you talking about?"

"C'mon Sammy! Clue in here!" Gabriel trotted a few feet away, picking up the key and sliding it's leather loop back over his head. "I know you're not stupid. Who else is on call? Working? Who else lives here?"

Sam looked him over, expression unreadable. "Gabriel... When did you last... see, the Men of Letters?"

"Uh..." Gabriel paused, thinking for a second. "Ninteen... fifty... three? About there?" He shrugged, trying to keep a casual appearance while something in his chest sank.

Sam winced. "So you don't know what happened then, to the others..."

Gabriel froze, the feeling in his chest like he had swallowed a ball of Mistletoe. "...Sam, what happened?" He whispered, low and dark.

"Gabriel, they were killed. The Men of Letters were killed and... disbanded in 1958."

His vessel's heart, which happened to be beating, stopped dead.

-{[|]}-

It was like everything inside him, everything that made him more than an angel, had just collapsed. It was just his grace, his cold, too bright, too stark and too sharp grace, throbbing and pulsing with his unnecessary breathing.

He had forgotten how long he had been staring at the page for. The page of all the people he had... abandoned.

Blanch King-Price, Fay and Dixie Fox, Ivory Ellis, Clarence and Celeste Fletcher, Henry Winchester... Gabriel Moore. He read the last line with reverence. Shay named her daughter after... After me.

I should've stayed. He thought bitterly, biting the edge of his lip. I should've faked that I had a deal with someone. Stayed around for... for years. I could've. Come back under a new name... I could've protected them! I could've-

"God DAMMIT!" Gabriel screamed, slamming a fist on the table, cupping his face in his hands and trying, trying not to cry. He was Gabriel. He was Gabriel, the Trickster, the Liar! The ultimate jokester, and absolute badass who had fooled the devil himself, evaded Heaven for years, and somehow come out on top of it all still alive. Archangels though... they were supposed to be perfect. And unfortunately, perfection still had it's flaws. Theirs? Once they felt emotion, they couldn't get rid of it.

"Cursing your own father there, Gabr-"

"I will shoot your FUCKING CAT!" Gabriel shouted at Crowley, sat behind the shelves.

"...Well now that's just rude." Crowley responded through the blockade.

"Your face is just rude." Gabriel spat back, emotions threatening to spill over in a wave. He really wanted to be back in that van now, somewhere on the other side of the country, probably mouthing off to Scott.

"That was uncalled for."

"Your face is uncalled for."

"I'll have you know, I am a rather attractive demo-"

"I know you are, I can see your true form. And FYI, you are prettier than most demons I've met. But I've gotta say, the red and orange? A little girly, dude." Gabriel smirked at the thought of pissing off Crowley.

"Excuse me?!" Crowley exclaimed, already getting riled up. "I'll have you know, that-"

"Crowley, can it." Dean ordered, silencing the demon. "He's just pissing you off."

"I thought you of all people wouldn't mind me pissing him off." Gabriel smirked as Dean sat down, silently shoving all his emotional baggage into his chest and throwing away the key.

"Yeah well..." Dean rolled his eyes. "The more pissed off he is, the less he talks."

"Oh, God, then please let me piss him off! Idiot wouldn't shut up twenty minutes ago..."

"Sorry, ranger, you're on probation."

"You gonna cuff me, officer?" Gabriel gave a suggestive eyebrow wiggle.

"Gross." Dean rolled his eyes, and bit into the burger he had brought with him. "What'cha lookin' at?"

"I'm looking at... at the old files. The kids, of the members I lived here with." Gabriel sighed. "A lot of them died that night. Henry's body was never found, your grandad."

"About that..." Dean rubbed the back of his neck. "He traveled in time to come meet Sam and I. He died savin' the world from Abbadon."

"...Sounds like we aren't done with that yet, either." Gabriel snarled. "Can't wait to sink that bitch myself."

"Get in line." Dean chuckled. "Can you kill her?" He asked after a moment's hesitation.

"Pfft, please, Winchester." Gabriel rolled his eyes. "I'll need to get in close, but a stab from an Archangel's blade ought to do it. Also, I gotta ask, did you make those burgers? Because damn."

"So you stole my burger?" Dean growled, making Gabriel laugh. "Should've known."

They sat in semi-companionable silence after that.

Chapter Text

{June, 1909}

Driving home had started fine. Alpha and Sol were laughing along with Gabriel as they fled the scene of chaos.

They had gone a good hour, maybe two, before Gabriel caught the wave of black coming over the hillsides, demons shaking over the fields like writhing snakes, coming for the car, coming for him, coming, coming-

Gabriel reached over and yanked on the steering wheel, almost rolling them over right then while Alpha and Sol swore incoherently at him, right as the demons hit the car.

And flipped it.

Gabriel was just starting to reach for his grace, trying to make it respond, trying to be ready to throw up his true form and protect them, when he slid upward in his seat, smashing his head into the roof, and he knew no more.

-{[|]}-

Gabriel. ...

Gabriel, wake up. ...mmh...

GABRIEL!

The soft groaning of metal filled his ears, oddly loud in his limited perception.

He knew his human form was bleeding from the head. His leg was broken. He had a concussion. His shoulder felt weird.

A list of problems, none of which he could fix without someone helping him first. Because he had to pretend to be human. And his head was ringing, swollen like it was three times it's normal size and crushed in a vice.

" Help," He gritted out, low and hoarse. "Help!" His voice sounded like someone had put rocks through it, breaking and crackling like glass midway through the syllable. His grace, compacted and compressed down to nearly nothing, stubbornly refused his calling. He felt...

Weak. Soft. Broken.

Human.

He did his best to rotate, to free his body from the crushed footwell and escape the crumpled roof. Vaguely, everything felt a little floaty, like he was walking on clouds. The ringing, though, had disappeared.

Gabriel had never exactly bothered to be 'normal' during anything but the past few years as Gabriel Moran. As a result, he was very bad at human injuries.

The concussion was new.

He fell from his seat, landing on his already damaged shoulders with a heavy thump. The potentially dislocated joint made its presence known, screaming obscenities at the rest of him that rolled over on it, Gabriel flipping around slowly.

" Alpha?" Gabe questioned slowly, voice still slurred and gritty. "Alpha?" He asked again, a little more frantic. The silhouette of the girl, crumpled like a puppet with her strings cut, was cast in sharp reality by the moonlight. Blood turned a reflective black in the odd lighting. "S-Sol?" Gabriel called, head whipping to locate the boy. He couldn't see Sol.

The demons outside, meanwhile, were lazily sweeping over the car, swirling in seemingly random directions. Gabriel was suddenly thankful for the anti-possession tattoo he had gotten. It helped keep up his human appearance. The Enochian sigilwork on his ribs, however, was a method to keep angels from tracking him.

One of the demons, still in their gaseous form, poked its red smoke-self through the cracked side door, nudging around Alpha, poking at her hair and her skin.

" Hey. Hey!" Gabriel barked hoarsely, swatting at it. Quickly, the inquisitive demon fled, though their ghostly circle tightened around the car. "Fuck off." Gabriel snarled, glaring at the red line that marked that specific demon.

The ringing in his head returned with a vengeance, ferocious and loud, brutally harsh, screaming like something was trying to rip his vessel in half, and-

Crossroads demon. Watch out for any blue smoke.

The ringing stopped.

Suddenly, it clicked in Gabriel's head, right before the demons smashed through the car and started their violent attacking.

...Was that Michael?

Then they went off the cliff.

-{[\]}-

Gabriel woke up to the horrific ringing a second time, but this time, he forced it away, buried it under his grace as he struggled to roll over.

' Up' was a confusing concept, all turned over on it's ass. His stomach felt like it was doing somersaults just leaning on the overturned seat. (Ok, down. Alright. So I'm sitting on the roof.)

" Alpha?" He questioned again. Time, had also become a very fluid concept. When had they first been hit by the demons? When had they crashed? How long had he been out?

This time, he got an answer.

"Gabe?"

The voice was at least seven or eight feet away, and decidedly not in the car.

Unsafe.

There it was again. The creepy voice he was almost positive had to be Michael. He wasn't quite sure what it was talking about though. Was Alpha not safe? Or was he?

"Gabriel, don't move." Alpha ordered. "I just got Sol out, I'm going to come for you next." She informed, and the slick noise of leaf litter shifting under her feet as she moved forward sounded. "Please, stay real still, ok? The demons are still somewhere around here."

He didn't make a noise, didn't move, didn't breathe. He just waited for the broken, destroyed side door to open and for Alpha's hand to reach for him. Taking her fingers in a light grip, because he didn't know when the ugly little bastards were about to show their faces agai-

The red demon, the one from earlier, pounced, slamming the door closed behind it and ripping at Gabriel with a non-physical form.

"SON OF A B-" He shouted, kicking back at it with his True form spread out a bit to make contact. Struggling away from it, Gabriel took another swipe, clawing through the broken seat to the back...

When the car creaked.

"How many bloody cliffs are there on this h-"

His next words were lost to a fall.

{October, 2013}

Gabriel woke up uneasily the next day, after napping in his own (heavily warded) room. Neither of the Winchesters trusted him, Not even the taller, cuter one, and both seemed determined to make his life Hell.

That included making him hang out where he was either in view, or wearing an Enochian sigil.

What neither Winchester seemed to understand was that Gabriel could care less about the bloody Enochian. Loki's powers were starting to return, the icy flow of energy a gradual refilling of his being, and the power that came with it a good reminder of something he didn't want to face yet.

He was the last angel on Earth with intact wings.

Maybe Cas had the sense to take out his grace, to protect it before the spell hit, but if Cas couldn't, well... He was stuck somewhere else in the country, exactly as clueless as eighty-nine percent of their siblings, and potentially without any way to communicate with his Hell-dragged soulmate or the lumbering, adorable younger brother.

He had considered asking Sam or Dean about it, but he decided not to yet. Instead, he checked the wrapping on his wing, which had promptly vanished from human view after he put it on the broken section, and decided a mild test was in order.

Focusing on the living room, the west side with the telescope, at the empty space in the floor right before the war room, Gabriel spread his second and third pair of wings and took flight.

The fact that he flew, rather smoothly at first, then tripped over his own feathers and narrowly avoided crashing into a table, instead splattering on the floor, was telling.

"Jesus Christ!" Dean shouted when Gabriel appeared in a whoosh and startled squawk, knocking one of the chairs on top of himself.

"Close, but not-" Gabriel rolled onto his back, trying to put the chair up straight without breaking it. "Not quite, Deano." The Archangel chuckled, waving one hand. "Hey, Sammy, Samster, can ya' help me up?"

"Cut it with the nicknames. Only he gets to call me Sammy." Sam informed, but reached out his hand anyway.

"Sure thing, Sammoose." Gabriel shrugged as he got pulled upright. "Ow." He muttered, rubbing at his back where he had crashed.

"Wait a second..." Gabriel could hear the gears turning in Sam's head as he spoke, looking the Trickster up and down with careful scrutiny. "Did you just... Fly?" Sam's voice was low, disbelieving.

He didn't want to stare. He really didn't. But that weird light in Sam was bugging the holy Hell out of him. He could barely focus on anything but that. "Yeah, I did." He mumbled in return, staring at the centre of Sam's chest like it held all the answers.

"What?!" Both of the Winchesters demanded. "Let's go back to the earlier thing, how do you still have wings?" Sam continued. "No avoidance this time.

Jolted out of his reverie by the shout, Gabriel's head snapped up to look Sam in the eyes, caught. "Sorry, yeah, I managed to protect them until the spell burnt itself out. Sizzled 'em a bit, but I'll be fine." He skimmed, not mentioning the break. Crowley had already ratted out his wings being damaged. He had to keep up the burns as his reason for flying like shit, and he desperately needed to reset that wing better.

Unfortunately, the bone was close to the shoulder, and that meant he had a hell of a time setting it. Which of these two do I trust more with my True being... Gabriel questioned, but there would be time for that later.

"So, you're..."

"Fully winged, didn't even lose my smallest set." Gabriel nodded. "I'm all set, Sammoose, to cruise in the skyline!"

"And you aren't because..?" Sam drifted off.

An eye roll, followed by a small snort, made Dean give him an odd glance. "Hello, I live here. Hell, I've lived here longer than your lifespans a few times over." He made a short gesture. "And at the moment, I know more about this place than either of you. And yes, that includes the computer."

"But Gabriel Moran disappeared in 1924, how did you get back in here?" Sam questioned, sitting at the table and watching Gabriel.

Gabriel knew he had always intrigued the taller hunter, even after he had killed his brother a few dozen times. Even after he had trapped them in TV hell. Even after he had saved both of their lives and completely distracted Lucifer long enough to take out some 200 demons in the vicinity of Bobby Singer's locale before blasting off to Europe and hiding his golden ass away from the fire.

"Well, that's easy, Sammoose. Follow me." Gabriel grinned, standing from the table and starting for the hallway. After a few seconds, there was a shuffling and the rapid tapping of feet on the approach.

Gabriel trotted down the fourth hall, a barely lit, dark place where the walls were unpainted and unprotected.

And there, sunk into the concrete, wood and countless other materials that lined the walls from over the years, names. Enochian names of humans.

"Welcome to the Hall of Letters, Sammy." Gabriel looked around. He was always lost with a sense of wonder at the names. Humans truly never ceased to impress him.

Sam, though, seemed confused. "Gabriel, I don't... Get it."

"You don't- oh, that's right, you don't read Enochian." Gabriel remembered, mentally facepalming.

"Gabriel, nobody but... people taught by angels, know Enochian."

"That's a lie." Gabriel held up a finger to emphasize. "Most of the Men of Letters could at least read it."

"Huh." The noise echoed through the hall. "What are these?" He lightly ghosted fingers over a set of symbols on a wood wall.

"These, are blood sigils. They are the names of every person who has ever permanently lived in this house." Kneeling, Gabriel searched around a concrete wall for his. "These sigils directly connect to the blanket wards in the house, and protect the names written here." He pointed to a slightly shorter line of symbols, written in a calligraphy style. "See? These are mine."

Kneeling down, Sam peered at the words curiously. "Are they just... blood?"

"You have to say an incantation and then sign your name. If the sigils detect any malice toward the current inhabitants within you, it explodes. Sometimes, it's killed people." Gabriel tapped his knuckles against a black spot, an explosion radius, around a charred word. "I'm guessing 'Malone Marcus' had other intentions for this place." He chuckled.

"What do you mean, 'blanket wards?'" Sam asked.

That's one thing I like about you, Sammy. Totally willing to listen to everything in your own way. Gabriel smiled at the thought. "Well, there are certain wards that protect against generalizations. For example, the main blanket ward in this place basically is a big 'fuck you' to anything that wants to hurt the people in the house. It keeps out anything with bad intentions for any of the inhabitants."

"So anyone with their name on this wall..."

"Gets protected, yeah." Gabriel nodded. "It's an extremely powerful, extremely old ward. If you mess it up when making it, it kills you. But it lasts forever, even if the house is burned down." He stood slowly. "See, this name? 'De'van Fletch Ellis.'" Gabriel underline the Enochian with a finger. "He was a witch. I worked with him often."

"You worked with a witch?"

"More like your great-grandfather did. Vance is the one that hired him." Gabriel explained, waving a hand before continuing. "But De'van just kinda became a part of the group."

"'Great-grandfather'? You knew our great-grandfather?" Sam stood too, looking over the wall.

"Yeah." Humming faintly, Gabriel trotted a few feet down. "Here." He located the name, holding a hand under it. "'Vance Thomas Winchester'." A good man. Gabriel thought, not that he was ever planning on directly telling the current-time Winchesters.

"Vance..." Sam murmured in mild awe, placing his hand on the wall beside. "So we really have been here since forever?"

"Oh yeah. Literally. Not in this Bunker, but in other areas. You're all over the place." Gabriel explained, eyes flitting between names easily.

"What does that say?" Sam made a movement to a series of Enochian words that formed a sequence over the other sigils in black ink.

"That? 'Hallway of...' doesn't have a real translation, but 'Legends' works." Gabriel shrugged, momentarily turning around to check on the state of the other sigils.

When he went back to look at Sam though, the taller man was a few inches from him. "Can you uh... teach me Enochian?"

The words made Gabriel physically pause. "...you want me... to teach you Enochian?"

"Yes."

They waited for a few seconds.

Then Gabriel split into a grin. "Sweet. That's awesome! Yeah, I can teach you Enochian! Let's go see if my translation book is still somewhere around here! C'mon!" Gabriel encouraged, running off down the hall with Sam on his heels.

Chapter Text

{Summer, Before}

Gabriel sat up on his mass of clouds, briefly arching his back to splay out his six golden wings, arching behind him in a catlike stretch.

Eyes scanning the expanse of Heaven, he noted the relative peace that seemed to pervade every corner of the light, glowing and glimmering with purity and calm.

Then he heard it.

Lucifer screaming at Michael, again.

Turning toward the House of Churches, Gabriel had been just in time to see Lucifer streaking out of the building with wings spread wide, whipping the winds around him into submission as he shot for the corners of Heaven, wherever that may be that day.

With an enormous sigh, Gabriel got up, beating his wings against the currents of Heaven to take to the air, languidly chasing his elder brother who shot across Heaven like a star, blazing a bloody trail across the sky.

Gabriel trailed him to the farthest corner that Lucifer had yet found, tracking him by the red stripe he left in the sky, the messed up clouds, and shots of grace that hit the ground every few minutes. He didn’t get too close until Lucifer’s anger was spent, until he had destroyed every empty chunk of unused material, until the crater around him was nothing but smote ash.

Then Lucifer sat down right in the centre of his destruction, folding his knees into his chest and crossing his arms over his legs, burying his face in the little shadowed spot created by the movement, wings wrapping quietly around him, alone in his world.

Gabriel landed carefully on one of the half-destroyed white pillars, balancing on one foot, the other hanging down the side. As the Messenger, Gabriel tended to be swifter and more agile than the other Archangels, even moreso than Michael, and because of this, he could easily balance on a slanted piece of smooth, perfect carving, no more than a few inches wide.

He waited for several minutes, watching Lucifer with sharp, silent eyes, right before all the tension in his brother’s shoulders came back, and a low, half-muffled sob started from the ball of burgundy-red-orange feathers.

Gabriel unfurled his wings, leaning forward on the pillar to offset his balance, tipping off the edge and falling, gliding smoothly to land beside Lucifer.

“Luci?” He asked, as if he hadn’t just watched his brother break down.

Lucifer instantly stiffened, sitting up somewhat and rubbing at his face with a wing. “Oh. Hey, Gabriel.” He greeted, voice a forced happiness. Gabriel recognized it for the shitty imitation it was.

Lucifer was the Morningstar. He was unique and beautiful and too brilliant to be real. His wings were gorgeous and flashy, rivalled only by Gabriel’s, and a young angel with silver wings. It didn’t matter. When Lucifer was happy and relaxed, he laughed softly, a more gentle sound that seemingly couldn’t exist, not even on Heaven’s plane. If he found something excessively entertaining, he would wheeze silently on air, tears half coming out of his eyes from amusement. Even then, Lucifer’s laughter never failed to make Michael smile.

Gabriel huffed unhappily, sitting at Lucifer’s side promptly. “...You wanna talk about it?”

“About what?” Lucifer questioned, swiping a hand subtly over his eyes.

“Don’t bullshit me.” Gabriel ordered, extending his left wings to lay over Lucifer’s back. “I saw that fight. What was Michael on about now?”

“...I kinda... Blew a hole. In the Tapestry.” Lucifer admitted slowly. “Again.”

“Again? Oh, bro...” Gabriel moaned in shared agony, letting Lucifer lean on his shoulder. “...You really shouldn’t do that.”

“I know, Gabe, I know...” Lucifer mumbled into his wing. “I just... I’m...”

“It’s hard.”

“Yeah.” Lucifer nodded, careful and considerate and controlled. “...Yeah it is.”

{June, 1909}

Gabriel woke up in screechingly eerie silence.

He meant that oxymoron in every last sense.

The forest around him was wreathed in absolute quiet, soundless and dark, while his head screamed at him as if someone was grinding a chainsaw against a chalkboard. It didn’t help the flow of sentences that ran through his head with howling cadence, overlapping and lacing the others, dipping and twisting around themselves and another.

Gabriel remembered it badly, having missed it for a couple millennia. He wasn’t used to being... this, not anymore. Too close to his grace, his human shape.

He had begun to question what he was. Was he a human, with access to grace? Or an angel, too close to earth? Is this what nephilim feel like? He wondered, but Gabriel wasn’t a nephilim. He was just... Gabriel. Archangel. Trickster. Pagan god. Member of the Moran family.

And maybe a ‘Gabriel’ was a little different than a normal angel.

Realizing he was still in the car, Gabriel sat upright, or at least, he levered himself into a half-upright pose, trapped at a shallow angle, looking at the door near his feet with disdain.

He lashed a foot out at the half-crumpled door, cracking most of the metal and springs, only requiring a second kick before tearing free, allowing Gabriel to crouch down, spin around and crawl free.

Standing, Gabriel turned to look up the hill. He had fallen, through branches and trees, nearly 60 feet. It was a testament to the build of the car that it had kept him as safe as it had, but no longer. He was trapped, at the bottom of the hill, with sev-

Gabriel barely flinched as he raised his blade to cut a black demon out of the air.

Correction. Only six demons now. Gabriel smiled faintly, a slight hint of a sadistic grin smeared across his face.

Closing his eyes, Gabriel spread out his stiff wings, trying to pinpoint the exact location of each demon.

There were still the six, four black demons, the basic kind, and two red ones. Crossroads demons. He could handle six demons with ease, even with half his ribs busted and enough bruising to kill someone. There were ups to being an Archangel.

One of the black ones lunged, forcing Gabriel to call on his old agility, whipping around with inhuman speed, extending his True Form to the tips of his fingers, snagging it out of the air.

Writhing like a wet snake in his grasp, the demon made a few futile attempts to escape, gaseous body scraping across his hand in a bad approximation of an attack. It hissed, compressed steam in his palm, trying to evade the burning grace that surrounded it.

“Oh shut up.” Gabriel snarled at it, roughly shaking it a few times to stun it.

Now the other demons gave him a wider berth, nervously circling as they watched him hold their less fortunate compatriot. He knew they couldn’t entirely see what he was, and they definitely couldn’t tell he was an angel. But they knew he was bad news.

Tightening his grip on the captured demon, he let out his grace just a bit and charred it.

Immediately, the others pulled back farther, gaseous forms turned spiky and sharp with fear and realization. And horror, of course. Even if demons didn’t care for each other, seeing another member of your own species reduced to ash was a bad experience.

“Alright, who’s next?” Gabriel growled at the remaining few.

The crossroads demon who had poked at him earlier was the first to leave. It raced over the hillside and vanished from his senses, quickly followed by it’s partner and their little following, fleeing like Hell was on their heels.

Or an angry Archangel.

Leaning against the car, Gabriel lowered himself to the ground with one arm, brushing the charred remains off his hand with subtle movements that caused him less aggravation. If he pushed himself too hard, he might be forced to use his grace, and that would put him on the spot again.

And that was the last thing he needed.

Gabriel leaned his head against the ruined car, and waited.

{November, 2013}

“Orr.”

“Orr?” Sam questioned, and Gabriel nodded in response. “Orr.”

“There you go.” Gabriel murmured encouragingly, pointing to the next letter on the page of Enochian. “Graph.”

“You’re kidding.” Sam leaned in to stare at the letter suspiciously. “‘E’ is pronounced ‘Graph’?”

“Would I lie to you in the language of angels?” Gabriel made a helpless gesture.

“Gabriel, you aren’t speaking Enochian right now.”

“I can, if you want me to.”

“Go ahead then.” Sam sighed, writing out an Enochian ‘E’ a few times on a scrap piece of paper.

“Medveh, fammedtal.” Gabriel announced with a smug smirk.

“What did you just say?” Sam turned to stare at him, as though astonished.

“I just told you ok, Moose. Calm down.” Gabriel chuckled.

“‘Medveh’ is...” Sam looked at his paper, considering. Gabriel had to pause for a half second, because Sam talking in the rough, growling tones of Enochian was damn hot.

“It’s like, the Enochian equivalent of ‘Alright’.” Gabriel explained, writing out the two sigils in the word. “Think of it like ‘ok’.”

“Medveh...” Sam murmured, letting the syllables roll around in his mouth. “What was the other word?”

“Your nickname in Enochian. It means ‘Moose’.” Gabriel grinned at Sam’s scoff and eyeroll, but he didn’t catch any complaining.

“Well then, what is your nickname?”

“You really want to know?” Gabriel tilted his head, taking a moment to brush his fingers through his hair.

“I would, actually.” Sam responded.

“Galurmedged.” Gabriel wrote out the four sigils. “It basically translates to ‘gold’, or ‘golden’.” Sammy, you call me that, I’ll come whenever you call.

“Galur...medged.” The hunter repeated, sounding it out carefully. “Neat. Hey, what can we call Dean?” His words were innocent enough, but the twinkle in his eyes announced that the nickname had to be something to mock Dean about.

“Hm... Well, there’s just his name. Druxungraphgal.” Gabriel scribbled the letters down. “But, we could just go with something short and embarrassing.”

“Like?”

“I was thinking hm...” Gabriel grinned widely. “‘Castiel’s’.”

“With the possessive? Totally.”

“Famunveh.” He said emphatically. “Put the accent on the ‘veh’ when you say it to make it possessive.”

“Famunveh.” Sam nodded. “He’s going to be pissed when he figures it out.”

Gabriel shook his head. “If he ever decides to learn it.”

“What would that make my name then?” Leaning in, Sam examined the page before him with a critical eye. “Fam...”

“No, remember, Enochian is backward.”

“Right, right...” Sam agreed in realization. Gabriel waited while he found the letters again. “Um... Tal....un...fam?”

“Talunfam. Sam.” Gabriel’s smile grew. “That’s the one.”

Sam wrote the sigils in their perfection. “Talunfam.”

“Talunfam, Druxungraphgal, Galurmedged, and... I guess Cas would be Famunveh.” Sam pronounced the ‘Fa’ with emphasis rather than the ‘veh’.

“That’s us. Sam, Dean, Gold and Cas.” Gabriel laughed.

“What about a prophet?” Sam inquired, leaning back slightly. “A prophet and a hunter?”

“Um...” Gabriel scratched out another few sigils. “That one’s galdonmed. It means ‘word’, and it’s what we use for prophets. “And this one...” Another word. “Gisgdruxvanna.” He tapped the pencil’s eraser under the word. “With the emphasis on ‘drux’, it means hunter.”

“So, Kevin is Galdonmed, and Charlie is Gisgdruxvanna.” Sam murmured, copying the words.

“Who?” Gabriel half heartedly demanded, putting his feet up on the table as Sam went back to scribbling the sigils.

“Oh, uh, we made some friends. Kevin, he’s a prophet. We had him on the angel tablet for a while.” Sam explained. “And Charlie... she’s a hacker. She helped with the leviathans. And then she became a hunter.”

“Well, that’s awesome! Where are they now?” Gabriel smiled happily, glad that Sam and Dean were actually... building a family.

“Well, Kevin’s just... not here, because he was going nuts.” Laughing slightly at the thought of not going crazy in this job, Sam continued after a second. “And Charlie is currently... Somewhere over the rainbow.” Sam smiled sadly, a look that made Gabriel’s heart twist oddly.

“Like, literally, or...”

“Literally.” There was a short pause. “She went to Oz with Dorothy.”

“Heard about that kid. I wasn’t around the day that she took a trot down the road, but definitely picked up on it.” Gabriel sighed. “Good kid.”

“Well, thanks for the introductory Enochian. I’m gonna see what we have for cases.” Sam smiled kindly, sweeping all of the scratch paper and pages into the folder that was labeled ‘Sam’s writing’ and pulling his laptop from the floor.

Gabriel returned the smile, pulling his chair closer to Sam and resting his hand on his chin as they looked over the news reports for a few towns.

“Hey, that one.” Gabriel pointed to a page. “Enid, Oklahoma.”

They were scrolling through the report when Dean walked in, placing his hands on a chair with a quick glance to Gabriel.

“Wow.” Dean muttered.

“What?” Sam asked, looking away from the computer.

“Kevin.” Dean sighed. “Just poured some buffalo milk down his gob. Twice.”

Gabriel snorted slightly at the idea.

“Buffalo milk?”

“Yeah the uh...” Dean made a short gesture. “Hangover cure-all. Has everything in it. Except buffalo milk.”

Sam leaned back. “How is that kid still recovering from Branson?”

“What can I say, he’s an amateur.” Dean slapped a hand on the chair again. “The slippery nipple shots at the Dolly Parton Dixie Stampede nearly killed the guy.”

Gabriel snorted back a laugh as Sam chuckled. “All right, well, uh, we got something that’s gonna get us back on the road.” Sam turned back to the computer, Gabriel pausing to watch Dean closely, as the older brother pulled out the chair, sitting down with a quick few glances to the oblivious other hunter.

“A case?”

“Yeah.”

“You sure you’re ready for that?”

His words made Gabriel pause, staring at Dean with a faint scowl.

“Why would I not be ready for that?” Sam questioned. Yeah, Dean... Gabriel agreed. Why not?

“Aren’t you kinda running on empty?”

Now Gabriel was really paying attention, glaring between the brothers uneasily. What does Dean know about Sam... that Sam doesn’t know? The niggling feeling of something else wrong occurred to Gabriel, and his eyes flicked down to Sam’s chest, where the faint glow had receded into his lungs more.

“Yeah, but the last three nights straight I had eight hours of shut-eye. For a hunter, that’s like, twenty.” Sam shrugged. “Trust me, Dean. I feel good.”

“Well, that’s great in all, James Brown, but you’re still recovering from the Trials.” Dean seemed more... nervous, offset, worried. “I think you ought to pace yourself, y’know? And the sooner you heal...” There was a sharp inhale as Sam glanced over and Dean stopped talking.

Ok, what the hell is going on? Gabriel wondered.

“...Yeah?” Sam egged Dean to continue.

“...I just want you back to your old self.” The older looked at his hands, trying to talk calmly.

“I am, Dean! Look, Kevin’s back on the Heaven spell, Crowley’s locked up, Gabriel’s here to keep fort,” Sam nodded to the Archangel. “We should be out there doing what we do best!” Starting to sound a little frantic and pissed, Sam glanced between Gabriel and Dean, as if asking for help.

“Well-“ Dean began, shifting in his seat.

“You want to listen, at lea-“

“Hey, Deano, feet off the glass!” Gabriel ordered. Dean threw him a glare, but pulled his feet off the glass of the map table and onto the side.

After that, Dean shrugged.

“Ok, great! Taxidermist, named Max Alexander mysteriously crushed to death. Nearly every joint in his body dislocated, every bone broken... poor guy is a human pretzel. You tell me what’s got that kind of strength.”

“A demonic luchador?”

Gabriel rolled his eyes. Can you ever have a straight talk, Dean?

Sam joined him in the movement, before sighing. “Shop’s a couple hours away in Enid, Oklahoma. We should at least check it out.” When the older shifted to examine his watch, Sam continued. “Unless there’s some reason you think we shouldn’t.”

Then, Gabriel caught it. The way the light shimmered when Sam shifted, how it moved with him, instead of beside him. He straightened with a sharp gasp, chair scraping back slightly and making both brothers look at him in confusion.

“No, no I uh... Guess not. Go get packed up.” Dean picked his feet off the table, standing.

Gabriel stood as well, twisting slightly away from the table. “Hey, Deano, can I talk to ya, for a second?” He waved Dean down one hallway.

“Yeah, sure, Gabriel. Be right there.” Pushing the chair back, Dean trotted over to the Archangel, who lead him into the library, waiting for Sam’s footsteps to disappear down the hall before whirling on him.

“Ok, what the hell, Deano?” Gabriel snapped in a barely contained hiss. “There is an angel inside of Sam.” Resisting the urge to pin the hunter to the bookcase and beat him silly, Gabriel kept his fists at his sides. “And if I didn’t know better, I’d say he has no fucking clue!”

Dean’s eyes flicked to meet the Archangel’s, but could only hold it for a half second before glancing at his left foot.

“Oh my God.” Gabriel’s jaw dropped, all the anger temporarily rushing out. “He has no idea, does he?” Dean remained stubbornly silent. “Does he, Winchester?!” Gabriel snarled, voice high and filled with disbelief.

“I don’t have to explain to you.” Dean insisted furiously, but it was a weak argument.

“Bull. Shit.” Gabriel growled in return. “Contrary to popular belief, I have the misfortune of caring for both you idiots, so, Dean Winchester, tell me now,” His eyes glowed slightly with his wrath. “What. Did. You. Do.”

And Dean told him. From the end of the Trials, to the fires, to the angels falling, everything. Everything from Gabriel’s crash to then. And Gabriel only interrupted him once.

“Wait, he said his name was Ezekiel?” Gabriel cut off Dean’s next sentence.

“Yeah, that’s his name.” Dean nodded slowly, as if suspicious of himself.

“No it isn’t.” Gabriel responded instantly. “I don’t know who that is, but it isn’t Ezekiel.”

“Didn’t you know other angels?” Dean questioned, skeptical.

“Yes, but remember, I haven’t been in Heaven for a few millennia.” Gabriel whispered furtively. “I don’t recognize his wavelength, and trust me, I’d recognize Ezekiel.”

“And why should I trust you?”

Rolling his eyes with a soft scoff, Gabriel listened in case Sam was approaching. “Because, at the moment, I’m the only angel who is actually fully, completely and truly on your side.”

“...Don’t fuck this up, Gabriel.” Dean warned carefully.

“If I fuck this up, Dean, I swear on my grace you can be the one to carve my heart out with my own blade. I have no intention of harming any of your family. Ever again.”

“...I’ll see that day, then.”

-{[|]}-

Gabriel stood at the door, waving to them as the Impala took off down the road, grinning loosely, as though he was going to do nothing but sit around and read, leaving them to the hunt.

Instead, the instant they turned the corner, Gabriel’s smile fell to a dead-set glare and he whipped around, just about slamming the door as he stalked for the dungeon, pulling open the bookshelves to glare at Crowley.

“...Hello, Gabriel.” Crowley sounded confident and casual, but Gabriel could detect the slight nervousness and fear that he was tied up and semipowerless before an Archangel.

“Heya, Crowley.” Gabriel greeted with a half-smirk, pulling a second chair around to rest his elbows on, pointedly examining his nails. “So, you’ve been around these two lately...” Using his grace, Gabriel repaired them to a more healthy appearance, and summoned himself a bottle of faint gold nail polish, that would only show up in the right light. “You wanna tell me what’s up with Sammy’s hitchhiker?”

“Feeling protective, are we?” Crowley tilted his head. “Why do you care?”

“Mostly, I have one angel to worry about already.” Gabriel raised his pointer finger without looking up. “The asshole up in Heaven who kicked everyone out. At the moment, he’s the only other person with wings. So, I don’t want to worry about whoever’s in Sammy.”

“So you do have a heart...”

“More of one than you.” Gabriel’s snap-back made Crowley twitch in shock. “Now, if I remember correctly, I asked a question.”

“I didn’t say I would answer i-“

Gabriel slammed both his hands on the table, standing so sharply that he knocked his chair, leaning imposingly over Crowley, who crouched down slightly in his chair, remembering why demons were scared of angels. The food chain was a rather delicate balance, and unfortunately for Crowley, he was on the lower end of it.

“Here’s how this is going to work.” Gabriel snarled, all pretence of being the clever, smart-mouthed Trickster abandoning him. His eyes were dark and glowed slightly with a light golden colour that glittered behind his vessel’s iris’ brilliantly. “You, are going to tell me what I want to know. And what I want, is everything you know about Sam’s little backpacker. In exchange, I won’t break your wings. Am I clear?”

Crowley swallowed. Demon’s and angel’s wings were their pride, their source of happiness in some ways. To have his broken would be agonizing, and he couldn’t escape with broken wings anyway.

“All I know is that after Squirrel convinced Moose to not finish the trials, he wound up in a coma. When I saw him after that, that dirty little half-fallen scum was attached to him. That’s all I know.” Crowley relented with a growl.

“Did you recognize the angel?”

“...Not as Ezekiel.” Crowley answered slowly.

They stayed, poised for a moment, while Gabriel made his decision.

“Thank you, Crowley.” Gabriel stepped back, picking up his chair, placing it by the side and exiting, closing the bookshelves and flicking the light off.

“That’s it? Just a ‘thank you’?” Crowley demanded furiously.

“Do you want a broken wing instead?” Came the returning call, right before the flutter of wings announced that Gabriel was no longer around.

Leaning back and letting out the breath he didn’t realize he was holding, Crowley sighed. “...Bollocks.”

-{[|]}-

Sitting on the roof of the old power plant, Gabriel lay back, eyes loosely tracking the clouds overhead, flicking between the different wispy shapes and blue sky of the background.

Hands under the back of his head, cushioned comfortably, he remained in silence, utterly bored. His broken wing splayed on the gravel, prompting him to breathe slowly and steadily, trying to relax enough to allow the break to slip back in place without too much pain, and without help.

He could’ve been healed in nearly a week, but now, his wing ached and the bone kept grinding. He felt like dirt and it wasn’t helping that he was moving around more now, helping the Winchesters find things in the filing that they would’ve messed up when he should’ve been resting. He preferred pretending that he could manage on his own, without the idiots around him, without his siblings or his pagan ‘friends’.

He didn’t know who he could trust anymore.

So he went back inside.

-{[|]}-

The door to the Bunker shifted open at about three in the morning, Gabriel’s head snapping up from the Enochian book of demons he had out to meet Sam’s sheepish smile. “Hey, Gabriel.”

“Heya kids.” Gabriel waved. “How are ya’ doing?”

“Oh, pretty good. Dean acted like a dog for most of the day, hilariously.”

“So, no change then?” Gabriel joked, glancing back to his book. A laugh met his words as Sam sat on the couch beside him, barely giving Gabriel time to yank his knees up.

Gabriel lifted his eyes from the words on the page. “...What are you reading?” Sam asked.

Gabriel sat very still for a moment, before speaking. It was a long line of Enochian, with exactly as much meaning to Sam as if he had spoken in Arabic. To the angel inhabiting him though... ‘Understand this, angel... I do not trust you. Harm him, you will face my wrath.’

“What did you say?” Sam’s head tilted, leaning in to see the book.

“Oh, sorry. It’s just a passage from the book. Means, ‘To the demons of Heaven and the angels of Hell, the crossed bridge of power and the eternal well,’ and then it goes into a lot of mythological shit, but it sounds cool.” Gabriel knew that the angel had heard. Understand, you won’t get the chance to hurt him. I’ll put you down before that. I intend to right some wrongs with this, and you aren’t getting in my way. 

“Yeah, that is cool.” Sam nodded agreeably, before they fell into a period of wait. “...Hey Gabriel?”

“Yeah, Sammoose?”

“...This is really random, but other than the damage the Trials did to me, is there anything... off? Like, with me?”

Gabriel’s mouth opened as he flicked his eyes up and down Sam, briefly lingering on the light in his chest.

Glancing over Sam’s shoulder, Gabriel caught Dean’s eyes, who had just entered. The fear, the mild horror, the uncertainty and terror in his face. Not at Sam learning, but of Sam dying.

His eyes snapped back to Sam. “...Nothing I’ve noticed.” Gabriel shrugged casually. Behind Sam, Dean visibly relaxed. “Why, somethin’ happen?”

“Yeah, it’s probably just... I don’t know. Something ridiculous.” Sam sighed, looking down at his hands.

For the first time in years, Gabriel felt something about lying. Guilt.

Guilt. The Michael voice repeated.

Gabriel swallowed it and looked back to his book.

Chapter Text

{June, 1909}

When Gabriel woke up, it was to Alpha yelling at his face.

“Gabe! Gabe, dammit, wake your dumb ass up! Get up! On your feet! Now!” She ordered, slapping his face with far more care than she pretended to have.

“I’m up, damn...” He murmured, shoving her away and planting a hand on the hood to lever himself off the ground.

“Stay down.” Alpha ordered. “We called backup, we’re getting you out of here.”

“Then you should’a let me sleep...” Gabriel chuckled, releasing his hand just as someone else came crashing through the bushes.

“Alpha? Sol?” De’van dropped from a nearby tree, dressed in a black leather and fabric suit. His witching suit, it’s silver emblems glittering in the half-light of the moon.

The louder noises were from a pair of hunters who jumped through the underbrush, wearing casual outfits, padded for support against supernatural damage.

The shorter, with slick black hair, leapt on long limbs to Alpha’s side, kneeling by Gabriel and pulling him upright to tie up his ribs. Faking pain, Gabriel hissed, shifting around for emphasis.

“Gabriel, I need you to stop moving.” Lucius ordered, holding him down by the shoulder.

“Ah... love you too, Lucius.” Gabriel laughed weakly, leaning his head against the car.

The second man, a thin but powerful figure with soft-looking black hair, streaked with silver, jogged over, holding a blade at the ready as he watched for attackers from all angles.

“Ward, I chased... ‘em off...” Gabriel waved to the newcomer.

“Gabriel, I know this is hard for you, but do me a favour and stop talking for a bit. I know you and your healing tendencies but for the love of everything good and holy in this world, stop talking.” Lucius ordered, tightening the wrapping around his chest.

“What hit you guys? Demons? Because sulphur’s everywhere around here.” Ward noted, flipping over a stick with the tip of his blade.

“Something like that.” Gabriel gritted out, tapping Lucius’ hands away from his chest, standing with careful allowance for how bad his injuries were. “They’ll be back though.”

“How many were there?” Ward questioned, digging through the broken back seat of the car, freeing a few large bags.

Gabriel limped to his bag, marked with a golden pin, unzipping it and arming himself with his sword and a few other small blades. “I managed to get rid of a few, I sent ‘em back to Hell. But I think there were four or five that ran off. Two reds, and the rest were blackies.”

“Got it.” Checking his gun over, Ward circled the area again. “We need to get Sol out of here though. Kid broke his leg and cracked a few ribs, nailed his head.”

“Damn.” Gabriel hissed, turning to look at Alpha, knelt on the ground, clutching a shaking, mostly unconscious Sol to her chest, his sandy hair the only thing entirely visible, the rest wrapped in a thick black blanket.

“He’s going into shock.” Alpha informed with her special brand of cold detachment, shifting Sol’s weight to her knees, slipping her other arm from his hand to his legs, lifting straight up, as if she was picking up a small bag of potatoes. The unaware moan that drew from the lump was proof enough that it was still a person.

Gabriel limped to her side, brandishing his sword with a sense of detached ease, flipping it to face backward. “Let’s go, Alpha.” He nodded, starting in the lead.

“You good to walk?” Ward turned to him.

“I’m not gonna fall over on my ass up this hill, if that’s what you’re asking.” Gabriel returned, flipping his sword around again. “Let’s get Sol out of here.”

The troop marched steadily up the hill, Gabriel leading, but having to hop every few feet on his bad leg.

Moving swiftly, they headed for the road where Gabriel, Sol and Alpha had fallen, slammed by a group of demons.

“Did you steal a bus?” Gabriel questioned with a disbelieving tone as they jogged toward the vehicle parked at the side.

“Of course I stole a damn bus, what do you take me for?” Ward returned.

“I take you for a lot of things, Ward.”

“Shut up... and get in...” Alpha panted as Lucius pulled open the door, helping her into the bus, followed by Ward, then Gabriel.

His ribs were practically on fire, but Archangel magic was keeping the pain at a minimum. He could still feel the repressed nerve endings shooting off under his grace, where the energy snapped and crackled down his limbs.

“Let’s get before they catch up.” Ward announced, starting the bus without issue as Lucius rested one hand on the back of the chair where he sat, watching the windows for danger.

“How’s the kid, Alpha?” Gabriel called to the other girl.

“He’s getting some heat back. Still worried about shock, but it’s getting better.” Alpha replied.

“Ward, what’s top speed here?” He turned forward to look at the driver.

“Top speed is whatever you need it to be.” The bus accelerated slightly, though Ward had to keep it slow because of the turns on the hill.

“Then let’s get to the Bunker.” Pushing off his chair, Gabriel stood in the middle of the aisle to also keep watch of the surrounding hills.

{November, 2013}

Gabriel got up early that morning because he rolled over on his wing.

His bad wing.

After biting his lip hard enough to bleed to keep from screaming, he got up and wandered down the stairs, cleaning his chin off unhappily.

I need to get this fixed. I can’t do it myself, so I guess I need one of the boys to... reset it. Maybe Sam. He’s cuter than Deano, at least. And Castiel has his claws on Dean.

“Well, you’re up early.” Sam commented with a half-smile as Gabriel walked into the kitchen.

“You’re up earlier.” Gabriel retaliated with a playful grin, walking over to the cupboard to pull out the sugar. Glancing over his shoulder, he noticed Sam tapping on the coffee machine. “...Are you going to explode that again, or are you good?”

“First off, screw you, I can make coffee.” Sam hit the coffee machine’s top, to which it responded with a horrific spitting hiss, some bubbling dirt-water rising from the lid of the coffee maker.

With a yelp, Sam stepped back, just as Gabriel stepped forward, lifting the filter out of the inner mechanism and pressing cancel. “...You can, huh?”

“Just make the damn coffee, Gabe.” Sam laughed slightly, stepping back to watch as Gabriel cleaned out the machine, put in new grinds, and set the coffee to brew.

“Ta da...” Gabriel gestured to the calmly brewing coffee. “Coffee.”

“You suck.” Sam sighed, but the words lacked bite.

Then the Archangel remembered something. “Ah, yeah, that reminds me!” Gabriel exclaimed.

There was silence for a moment.

“...That... came out wrong...” Realization evident in his tone, Gabriel rubbed his temples. “Not like that. No, I uh... have a bit of a... personal problem.”

More silence.

“Uh, Gabe, I-“

“This is not how this conversation was supposed to go!” Gabriel waved his hands by his head, trying to hold in his laughter. “No, ok, well... It’s personal, but not that kind of personal.”

“...Oh...kay?”

“Well...” Gabriel awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck. “I kinda... I need you to...” He stammered.

“Yes..?” Sam pushed.

“I need you to... Ineedyoutohelpmeresetmywing.” He hissed out, quick and quiet.

“You need me to what? I thought your wings were healed.” Sam poured a cup of coffee, handing it to Gabriel before pouring his own coffee.

“Well, yeah, sorta.” Gabriel shrugged. “The biggest one on my right side, I broke it in landing. And uh... The break’s a little far back on my wing for me to reset.”

“Wait, it was broken? Is that why you crashed earlier?” Sam realized, drinking his coffee.

“Yeah. I’m off-balance, and it hurts. I rolled over on it this morning and...” Inhaling through his teeth, Gabriel rolled his right shoulder. “Yeah. I really need it fixed, or I won’t... Get back the speed I had.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m still the fastest angel, Sammy. Perks of being the Messenger.” He tapped his chest. “But in order to do the flying end of things, I need to fix my wing.”

There was a pause as Sam considered it. “Ok.”

“Wait, really?” Gabriel gasped. “You’re... cool with that?”

“I mean, at the moment, you’ve still got your wings. It would be smart to keep your wings healthy.” Sam shrugged, unfazed by Gabriel’s reaction to his acceptance. “What do we need to do?”

“Well...” Gabriel took a deep breath. The last person who had fixed his wing had been his older brother, and nobody had touched or seen them since he came to Earth. “...I’m going to need to let them go physical, and then you just have to push the bone back in place.”

“Sounds easy enough.” Sam answered with a nod. “You need to do anything special for that?”

“We’re going to need a section of the floor space to lay on. There’s an empty room in the second level we can use.” He pointed up. “Follow me.”

When Gabriel pushed into the room, it was largely unimpressive. Naked walls, wood flooring, old scuff marks and chinks in the grey of the bricks that made it feel old and ratty. It was, however, huge. Whatever was in here years ago had been removed, but now the some forty by twenty space could be used for their enjoyment.

“No drywall in here, Sammy.” Gabriel said at Sam’s shocked expression. “That was only installed in about... mm, 1922? ‘23? I forget.” He tossed the two metal braces and tensor bandages that they had hauled with them to the corner.

“This is what it looked like in the Bunker? Years ago?” Sam asked, reaching out to touch the rough wall. “Jeez.”

“Yeah, when I was here, it was all grey stone. Gave it way more of a ‘sex dungeon’ feel.” Chuckling, Gabriel peeled off his coat, undershirt and t-shirt, setting them on the floor in a corner.

“We should use this room as a sparring and training room later. Dean would love it!” Sam trotted around the space for a few minutes, grinning while Gabriel prepared himself.

“You sure you’re good with this?” The Trickster asked.

“Are you sure you are?” Sam returned, giving Gabriel pause. “I’ve been doing a lot of reading on angels, and their wings are an extension of their True Being. Basically, you’re letting me touch your True Form. And I...” Sam looked at his hands for a second. “I’ve done a lot of damage. You’re throwing a lot of trust on someone you don’t really know here, Gabe.”

“First off, all the damage you’ve done, you thought you were doing the right thing. Second, I wouldn’t trust anyone else.” Gabriel smiled softly. Sam’s face brightened a bit, and the Archangel felt something squirm inside, so he decided to throw off the feeling. “Plus, it’s kinda hot.”

Sam chuckled, but shook his head at Gabriel. “You hide shit better than Dean. C’mon, what do we have to do here?”

“Well...” Gabriel walked to the middle of the room, faced the longer wall, and carefully lay down. “Just give me a second here...”

The hunter nodded and looked away, instead going and folding up Gabriel’s clothes. Lowering his head to the floor, Gabriel crossed his hands over his chest, taking deep breaths into his vessel’s diaphragm.

It’s ok... He reassured his fluttering grace. Sammy won’t hurt me. And that angel won’t reveal himself to me. That’d be suicide.

So he clamped down on his feelings, inhaled, and then released his wings.

The soft, echoing rustle of feathers unfurling, even with the stab of pain from his right side, was something that Gabriel revelled in. All three pairs of his wings unfolded, the points of his largest set stretching to touch the sides, even while he was laying at the centre of the longest wall. Tamping down his grace, he made the wings fully corporeal, the grace concentrated in his bones.

“Ok Sam.” Gabriel breathed out, opening his eyes. “You can turn around now.”

Sam turned around with a faintly bemused smile, though that quickly drained away to shock and awe, tracing the edges and tips, trailing across the golden feathers. Letting out a small noise of amazement, Sam stepped a little closer, watching the golden shading ripple like water whenever Gabriel shifted.

“Like what you see?” The Archangel smiled up at him.

“Gabe... wow...” Sam whispered. “They’re... beautiful.”

Gabriel froze.

When was the last time someone had actually called his wings ‘beautiful’?

“Th-thanks, Sam...” He stammered. “Uh... Yeah.”

“Like, honestly, Gabriel.” Sam knelt on his right side, stretching out one hand in a request of permission. “...Can I?”

“Uh, well, to fix them you kinda have to, so go ahead.”

Sam set his hand on the smallest wing, which practically arched into the touch. Gabriel had to force it down, though his other wings shuffled faintly at the feeling. Better question, how long has it been since anyone has touched my wings? He wondered, so deep in thought and lost to the calming sensation of someone else taking care of his wings that he almost missed Sam’s question.

“Where’s the break?” Sam asked, taking his hand from the wing.

“Oh, uh,” Gabriel folded his second and third pairs on the right side into his chest. “Top right. It looks pretty swollen, and-“ Sam poked at a section of feathers, prompting a hiss of pain to escape the Archangel. “Yep, there, you found it.”

“Sorry.” Sam winced in sympathy, running his other hand through the primary feathers in an act of comfort. Gabriel immediately relaxed, head almost falling back on the concrete before Sam caught him. “Whoa, you ok?”

“Yeah, ‘m ok...” Gabriel mumbled, eyes flicking back open. When did I close them? “‘T’s just... painful.”

“Ok, well...” Sam pulled off his coat, folding it and laying it under Gabriel’s head. “There. Now how do I fix your wing?”

Shaking his head to clear it, Gabriel looked over. “Ok, here’s what you do... put your hands one over the other, palms down, so like, this.” Gabriel demonstrated. “Like if you were going to to CPR.”

“Got it.” Sam nodded, folding his hands properly.

“Now just put them over the break, and-“ He yelped again. “Gently, please!”

“Sorry!” Sam let up on the slight pressure. “What now?”

“When I say go, put your weight on the break until it pops back into place.” Gabriel gritted his teeth.

“Whoa, what? That’s what this is?” Sam lifted his hands and sat back.

“Yeah, that’s it. It’s gonna be agonizing, but it’s like a dislocated shoulder. Gotta put it back.”

“...If you’re an angel though, it has to be a little different though.” Sam petted his wing gently.

“Yeah, well...” Gabriel looked at the roof. “No matter what, I pass out, I scream, you don’t let up until you hear it click, got me?”

“Gabe, I really don’t want to hurt you.” Sam admitted, continuing to pet the top of his wing.

“And you won’t. Not for long. Sometimes you have to hurt to help, Sammoose.” Gabriel patted Sam’s shoulder. “You ready?”

Sam let out a long breath, but prepared himself in the proper position again, locking his elbows and preparing to bear down on the break. “Tell me when.”

Gabriel sucked in some air, holding it. “...Go.”

The full weight of Sam’s driving shoulders hit the break, and it was everything in Gabriel’s power to not howl in pain, letting out his true voice and everything. Instead, he just settled for a choked off screech that a human could make, back arching off the ground as Sam shoved, increasing the pressure.

“It’s not going in, Gabe!” Sam exclaimed after a few agonizing seconds.

“M-make... it... g-go in!” He gritted out, still trying not to scream outright.

Sam’s weight shifted a bit, hands changing position without letting up, and Gabriel realized what he was about to do.

He barely had time to throw up a mental barrier from the pain before Sam drove his knee down on the break, and his thin walls against the pain shattered with a snap and a wail, leaving the world to a blanket of white.

-{[|]}-

When Gabriel finally blinked awake, spots of colour sifted through his vision, as if he had stared at the sun for a few minutes without Archangelic shades. Other than that, the world was a disorienting mess of light and sound, so he stopped focusing on it and closed his eyes again.

His wings were folded by his sides, the right top one bandaged tightly, the others simply placed there. It took him a surprising few seconds to realize that someone was slowly stroking his broken wing, laying the feathers straight.

With that knowledge, he expanded his view a bit more without sight, and realized that he had been moved from the room. He was on a bed, or maybe a couch, with something warm under his head and in his hair. Who the hell..?

“Hey, I think he’s waking up.” A voice announced from directly above him. “You back with us yet, Gabriel?” Sam. He realized.

“He better be. You both have some explaining to get to. I thought you were doing it.” A deeper voice came from further away. Dean. Ok, good.

“When I walked in and heard that, I though you were being murdered.” A new voice, one that Gabriel didn’t recognize, came through. Younger than either of the boys by a good margin, a little weary for someone of that age, and a little sleep deprived.

“Oh, calm down. I just had to fix his wing. He asked me to, Dean.” Sam patted his hair again, and Gabriel suddenly realized he was laying on Sam’s lap, letting Sam pet his hair, while he lay his feathers right.

And damn if he didn’t just want to go back to sleep right then and ignore everything in exchange for the first time he felt truly safe with another in a few millennia.

But there was a rogue angel in Sam and he needed to get rid of it. And it was too close to him. He could cuddle with Sam later. For now though...

Gabriel let out a rather eloquent noise of awakening, like a half choke and a breath all at the same time.

“He lives.” Dean proclaimed from one side of the room, coming over with heavy footfalls. “Ya’ gonna go all Victorian Lady on us again, or are you awake for real this time?” He demanded, this time, his voice was only a foot away from Gabriel’s face.

“‘m up.” Gabriel mumbled, shifting limbs that felt like lead under his body, trying to push into a sitting position.

“Hey, give it a few minutes, Gabe. You were out for almost half an hour.” Sam’s arm trapped him on the bed, forcing him to stop moving.

“D’d y’ get my wing in, ‘t least?” He murmured, laying back down slowly.

“Yeah. It went in at the same time that you went out. I think you caused a power outage in town, by the way.” Sam chuckled. Gabriel groaned in response.

“Ugh, sorry...”

“Hey, I think you kind of earned that one.” Sam patted his shoulder gently. “Felt the break afterward. Not clean, a little spiralled. I’m amazed the power in here didn’t go out.”

“Can’t.” Gabriel answered. “Not by me. I’m linked in, remember?” He grunted, shifting around again to try and get up.

“Right. Gabriel, stop- Galurmedged! Sit still!” He ordered.

Gabriel froze, and almost instantly relaxed, laying back down while everyone else stared at Sam.

“...What is that, a safeword or something?” Dean questioned sarcastically.

“No, Dean, it’s Enochian.” Sam reached over to his back. “And Gabe, I didn’t want you moving because we wrapped your wing in a blanket and I don’t want you ripping it to pieces trying to stand.” Another layer of something was thrown off his back, and Sam looped a fabric knot over his head before helping him rotate forward and sit up.

The fabric knot pulled taut as something heavy pulled it down, and Gabriel looked down to see the sheet wrapped around the middle and top sections of his wing, supporting as much as holding it together.

“...Thanks, Sam.” Gabriel reached over, running his hand over the break, wrapped in gauze and the metal rods for support. “It feels much better.”

“Good enough to start actually healing?”

“I should be right as rain in a few days.” Gabriel grinned, using the bed to stand up. Then he focused and wreathed his wings in his grace, pulling them and the bandages into his nonexistent, non-corporeal self.

“Whoa!” Sam gasped as the wings flickered and vanished.

“Sorry. Should’ve warned ya’.”

“What about the bandages?” Waving one hand behind Gabriel’s back, Sam seemed both curious and concerned.

“They’re all here. I just pulled them into my little slice of non-corporeality.” Gabriel shrugged. “We’re all good.”

“As long as you’re ok.”

“If you two are done having your... Whatever that is,” Dean interrupted with a wave. “Kevin had ‘big news’.”

“Yeah. C’mon, guys.” Sam patted Gabriel’s shoulder, and stood up, following the others.

Kevin? As in Tran? Gabriel wondered, letting go of the bed and following slower.

“That’s your ‘big news’,” Sam asked, flipping through pages just as the Archangel wandered down the stairs. “Is that you translated the tablet into... Doodles?”

“It’s cuneiform.” Kevin explained. Both of them looked at him like he had spoken another language right there, so he continued. “I-I hit a wall translating the tablet into English. But I found and ancient codex uh, linking the angel script into proto-Elamite cuneiform, and, I was able to translate the tablet and the footnotes into Elamite, which... is-“

“Doodles.” Dean filled in as Gabriel limped over, picking up a sheet himself.

“It’s extinct.” Corrected Kevin.

“Well, can you read it?” Sam questioned.

“No one can.” Kevin answered. “Scholars have tried for centuries.”

“Hang on, give me a sheet.” Gabriel held out his hand. “Yeah, gimmie.” When Sam passed him another page, he examined it for a moment, squinting. “...Yeah, sorry. I think I was in the Sahara on a party at the time...” He sighed, setting the pages back down.

“So it’s a dead end.” Dean slapped down the pages in his own hand.

“N-not quite, now, most proto-Elamite is abstract, but I was able to decipher one phrase from Metatron’s footnotes.”

“Metatron?” Gabriel questioned. “The little foot-licker?”

Silence.

“...That aside...” Kevin resumed “‘Falling angels.’”

“Ok, so the footnotes refer to Metatron’s spell?” Sam asked.

“Maybe.” Kevin shook his head slightly.

“Ok, hang on, fill me in. Metatron, the shaking little scribe, is the one who did this?!” Gabriel exclaimed.

“Yeah, Gabe, that’s what’s happening.” Sam huffed. “Though, maybe if we can decipher the footnotes, then we can reverse the spell and-“ He dug through their shelves for a moment, searching.

“Punt those winged dicks back to Heaven.” Dean finished.

“I’m standing right here!” Gabriel exclaimed.

Ignoring the previous statement, Dean continued. “Where do we start?”

“Research.” Sam slapped down a set of books in front of each of them, including Gabriel. “We comb through the library, see if we can find anything else on Elamite.”

“...I’ll see what I can snag from... Not here.” Gabriel pushed the book away from him. “I can manage a pond-hop on four wings. I’ll be back at around... mm, let’s say, five, now time.” He made a quick gesture. “Mesopotamia should hold some shit that I’m looking for. Back later, call me if you need anything!” He saluted, and spread his uninjured wings, passing harmlessly through the wards that were marked with his blood, gliding into the daylight.

-{[|]}-

It was hours of sorting through ancient texts and museums, that yielded barely any information, but it wasn’t enough. Gabriel stared at the texts until his eyes hurt, but it still wasn’t enough.

It did, though, give him a lot of time to think about a lot of things.

Like why he felt so... calm, when hanging around Sam. He felt relaxed, comforted by the presence of a hunter, a hunter who had the misfortune to care about an abandoning son of a bitch like himself.

Too bad he was stuck there now. Wouldn’t it be nice to just... run away? Again? He thought, glancing up at the fading sun, the moon behind him rising steadily.

No it wouldn’t. You need to be done with running. You abandoned your responsibilities once. You can’t keep doing it. Not anymore. The Michael in his head ordered. The angels need someone to lead them, and-

I know you’re just a figment of my imagination, but you’re starting to sound a lot like Michael. And in case, me, you forgot, we already picked a side. And it sure as shit ain’t Heaven. Gabriel ran a hand through his hair, sipping on the cold, alcoholic drink in his hand. I’m just glad that Archangels can’t technically fall. Just... Cast out.

And how do you know that I’m a figment of your imagination?

Gabriel spat all over the table.

“I-I apologize.” He said to the server nearby in Arabic. “I will help.” He picked up a cloth, quickly starting to wipe down the table. “My apologies. Something... surprised me.”

That... What the fuck? Mikey? Is it actually you or what? Gabriel demanded as he paid for the drink, said sorry for the like, 500th time, and left into the chilly night.

It is, Gabriel. Still in the Cage... with our other brother.

It was the disdain, self-loathing, anger, love, and fear in that one sentence that made Gabriel ignore him for the rest of the day.

He spent most of the day in a crypt, fixing old scripts and tablets, even some talismans. Each page he fixed felt like four steps backward for each step forward, but it was working. He was learning to read the ancient, scratched cuneiform.

“And by the grace of...” He murmured, leaning closer to the page. “...Hect... something... May she rise... from our...” Gabriel rubbed at his forehead, trying to focus on that rather than how he’d much rather be resting his weakened, damaged body on a couch with his favourite Winchester.

His wing had started to ache again at around hour three, and it was nearly hour six now. It was stiff, should’ve been stretched out, and tomorrow, he’d need to exercise it. Healing wings is a pain in the ass, pass it on. I just want to go sleep. Preferably on Sam. That’d be nice. He is nice.

I agree, Gabriel. Michael responded to his musing. To the healing wings problem, not... the rest of it.

Fuck off, Michael. Gabriel snapped in return, biting his lip.

That word is ‘Hectacate.’

“I said fuck OFF!” Gabriel screamed, whipping a tablet at the wall. It cracked and shattered upon contact, pieces crumbling to the ground. The Trickster though, had spun around to look at nothing. “One of you threw out the other, and now the other tried to kill me! Goddamnit, Michael, leave me the fuck alone!”

Silence answered him, and Gabriel collapsed onto his knees in the empty cave, emotions finally overwhelming him into a shocked few whimpers, right before the faint, choked sobbing began.

-{[|]}-

“It’s time when I bloody well say it’s time- Hello, Abbadon.”

Those were the words that greeted Gabriel as he reappeared in the Bunker, homing in on Sam’s location.

Inside, the King of Hell, chained up though he was, was talking into a bowl of blood. Uninvited, Gabriel stayed back and out of sight.

“How are the numbers?” Crowley asked the blood, carefully observed by Sam and Kevin. There was a pause as Abbadon spoke. “...You’re taking souls before their time.” Crowley realized after she finished. “Voiding my contracts.” He hissed darkly as Sam glanced to Kevin.

Gabriel grit his teeth. Crowley, really, had been the best king that Hell had seen in a long time, all because he knew how the world had to work. Hell needed integrity.

“You... Ganky... Putrescent... Skanger!” Crowley half-shouted. “It may look like bean-counting to you, it may lack a certain, adolescent flair, but my way... Works!”

Gabriel came into the room, meeting Crowley’s eyes. For a half second, they simply stared at each-other, waiting. Then Gabriel gave a slow, careful nod. I support you in this one.

After nodding back, Crowley continued. “You think you can control Hell with chaos alone, without, the support of those who are still loyal to me?!”

Then Crowley went very silent, eyes dark with rage. “Your way... Will backfire.” He snarled. “You. Will. Burn.” He stated.

Then he pushed away the bowl of blood.

“...Crowley?” Sam questioned.

“Bring me the translations.” He said coldly. After a pause, he continued. “I keep, my agreements.”

Kevin immediately went for the pages, taking them over to Sam, who set them in front of Crowley.

“‘Obtain the ingredients- heart, bow, grace.’” Crowley read off. “Blah blah blah... ‘Mix until the smoke shall rise from the ashes, casting the angels from Heaven.’ Blah, blah blah... Oh.” He blinked in surprise. “...It’s irreversible.”

Gabriel stiffened, sucking in a sharp breath. Sure, he still had his wings, but he was locked out of Heaven. That was when he whirled around, slammed one hand into a bookcase with a resounding crash, and stormed out, hissing bitter Enochian curses under his breath.

He ignored Sam’s attempts to call him back.

-{[|]}-

The hunter found him nursing a glass of whiskey over his pages after he finished with Crowley.

“You went out of there pretty quick.” Sam commented, sitting beside him.

“Yeah, well...” Gabriel began, running a hand through his hair, lifting up the vellum notes to Sam. “Here. Try to translate what you can with that.” He huffed.

“These are...”

“What I spent my day on.” Gabriel sighed, taking another sip of the beverage. “...What happened to Dean, after I left?”

“Oh, he uh, got a call from Cas. About a hunt.”

“Good. Still using his powers to help people. Good.” Gabriel repeated, rubbing his forehead.

“Cas doesn’t have his powers anymore.” Sam stated. Gabriel just about dropped his cup.

“...He doesn’t what?!” Gabriel hissed, whipping to face Sam with wide, furious eyes. “And he isn’t here because why?”

“Because he thought that he’d bring angels down on us, and he didn’t want us hurt.”

Gabriel stood up, walking over to the control panel. “Bullshit. He could easily stay, just-“

There was a flicker of energy shift behind him, too close behind him.

When Gabriel whirled around, he already had his blade out, chest to chest with Ezekiel, if that was his real name, the tip of his sword touching Sam’s throat, forcing the angel to pull back slightly.

One good reason, angel.” He whispered darkly, certainty and promised hatred lacing his tone. “Give me one good reason not to cut you out and spread your ashes across the galaxy.”

“...I am healing this body.” It said in Sam’s voice, but so, so much not Sam. “If you pull me out, I could do life-endangering damage before I was free.”

“...So it could.” Gabriel hissed, pulling the knife a half inch up, forcing Ezekiel to lift his head higher, revealing more of his throat. “...You kicked out my brother, possessed my Winchester and now, you have the audacity to threaten Sam’s health on your escape.” He pushed the knife a little higher up. “...The day he is healed.” Gabriel stated. “The very day he can survive and heal without you, you leave. Or I kill you.”

Then he lowered the knife, and stalked out to go deal with the rage in his chest elsewhere.

Chapter Text

{September, 1909}

Fear ate away at people.

In this case, the fear of demons tore at every hunter's heart.

All, except for Gabriel.

At the moment, he was worried about being discovered.

Isabelle had come to the Bunker, in all her furious glory. She arrived with half her dress covered in blood, Priscilla missing from her side.

'Priscilla and I are working alone for a bit.' Was how she had explained. 'I've brought more demon research for Gabriel.' Except she didn't say 'Gabriel'. She said 'angel', just like always.

Isabelle had invited herself in, Like always, following Gabriel to his room as he worked to translate the book. Taking extra time, Gabriel attempted to circumvent any suspicion from the mute hunter, but it didn't seem to work.

"Hey, random question." Gabriel sat up from the old vellum book, looking back at Isabelle. "Why do you call me 'angel'?" He asked innocuously. "Is it just because my name is Gabriel or..."

'You know, I'm not surprised that an angel is a shitty liar.' Isabelle signed back, leaning on the table. 'They aren't built to be good liars, are they, Gabriel?'

Gabriel's innocent half-smile fell, and he looked up, eyes empty of all emotion at Isabelle, who met him with an equally cold expression.

He wasn't sure if he should laugh it off, or fake it, or make it better in some way, or just admit to it.

"...When did you figure it out?"

'Ever since I stepped foot in this Bunker. Don't worry. You and me are one and the same.' Isabelle replied, violet eyes lowered to the floor.

It took a moment for Gabriel to place the feeling that he recognized around Isabelle.

"...You're a fifth generation Werewolf." He announced to the quiet space.

She nodded. 'One of the few. True blood wolf, too.'

"So then you have a wolf form." Gabriel remembered, pulling forward a book of monsters.

Fifth generation werewolves, when they were pure blood, not mixed, could have a spell cast over their pregnancy that allowed them a grand many abilities. For example, full wolf form. Not just fangs, and teeth, full on, gigantic grey wolf. He had only ever met one once. They had fur like armour, muscles like coiled springs, and enough bite strength to bend metal. They were essentially the apex form of all werewolves, more resistant to silver, in full control of both their forms, and, like all bred wolves, they could shift at any time. The only way to fully kill them was to cut them in half.

'Of course.' Isabelle signed. 'I smelled angel the day I walked in here. So, angel... what is your real name?'

"You really wanna know?" Gabriel chuckled sarcastically. "...It's Gabriel. Just Gabriel."

Isabelle froze. 'As in... A-R-C-H angel?' She spelled out in hand signs, eyes wide.

"...Yeah. As in Archangel." Gabriel flipped a page of the text she had brought him, reading the Enochian as easily as English. "...We're one and the same, you're right. Both uncommon uniquities in our species."

'I do not believe that is a word. U-N-I-Q-U-I-T-I-E-S.' She spelt.

"Hey, I'm an Archangel." Gabriel shrugged. "I'm allowed to bend the rules a bit."

The bond between them only grew, a soft sense of kinship and alignment with all other special creatures in their species.

'That is why you translate so well. You have seen much of this place.' She signed, tapping her hands to her head in a gesture of realization. 'Much of this earth.'

"You'd be right. But the shit that you must know as a... As a wolf." He made a small motion with his hand, flipping another page. "...Just... Something spectacular, really." He sighed.

'There is always time for learning. Lessons and knowledge are an old thing for me.' She explained. 'I spent years away from Priscilla, learning as a wolf. I'm returning to that, Gabriel.' Isabelle signed slowly.

"Wait, hold on, you're... Running away?"

'Call it that if you will.' She signed. '...Priscilla is...'

"Priscilla found out." Gabriel filled in.

'Close enough to.' Isabelle responded with a small breath. '...You will not see me again. I am leaving to a hunt in Yellowstone. All evidence...' She paused. 'Will point to my death.'

"So this is it, huh?" Gabriel shut the book that she had brought with a definitive clap. "You're just... Leaving."

'I cannot live like this any further. I will be joining a wolf's pack in the caldera.' Isabelle signed with soft, careful movements.

"Can't live like what, Isabelle?" Gabriel stood up to face her. "Because trust me, running away from your problems, it's not... Not ideal."

'Judging by the fact you are here, you don't heed your own advice well.' Isabelle said with a faint, grim smirk.

"Yeah well... I've got all the time in the world."

'As do I, Gabriel.' She signed out his full name, in spelling. He realized it had been the first time that she had ever outright fully stated his name.

Gabriel let out a long-suffered sigh, picking up the book she had given him and flipping to the first page, picking his little gold and black pen off the table. "...So what now? Your secret dies with me, mine dies with you?"

'That... is how it will go. If you are... alright with that.' She signed haltingly, stunted and sharp.

"...As long as you give me something to remember this by." Gabriel held the pen out to her.

Isabelle glanced between the pen and the book, before nodding and taking it, signing a small message in flowing cursive, along with her name.

'...I cannot keep anything... to remind me of you.' She signed sadly.

"That's a lie." Gabriel stated, and reached into his pocket. Using his grace, he created a thin gold chain that would not break, standing up and clipping it around her throat. "...I will miss you, Isabelle."

'If my sister comes through here later... looking for me...' Isabelle's hand fell, and she opened her mouth. In a low, unused voice that didn't sound human, more animalistic, she spoke. "...Tell her where I went."

Gabriel understood. Let my sister find me. Let my sister get closure. Don't tell her what happened to me, but tell her where I am. She needs the finality. He nodded, and stepped in, wrapping the shorter wolf in his arms.

"...Goodbye, Isabelle the wolf."

"Goodbye... Gabriel the Archangel."

-{[|]}-

The knocking on the door was loud.

Loud and angry. Too angry. Too angry to be angry. More frantic, scared.

Gabriel didn't have to look at the soul of the person who stormed in past Marcus with a furious shove to know who it was.

Priscilla was on the hunt for her sister.

"Where is she?" Priscilla demanded as she whirled into the room, her dirty-blond hair in wisps and waves around her head, obviously having not been done in a while.

Silence and shocked looks answered her, which only had the effect of pissing her off.

"WHERE IS SHE!?" Priscilla roared, slamming a fist on the table and almost knocking over a glass of water. "She came here a week ago, I know that! She told me!"

Gabriel carefully closed the book on his lap, not letting the first page show.

"...Where..." Priscilla's hand uncurled from it's fist, spreading across the table. "...Where did my sister go?"

The break in her voice just about shattered Gabriel's insides.

"Priscilla... She... She went off to Yellowstone." He announced, making Pricilla's head swivel to focus on him with both endless pain and eternal rage. "Said she was hunting... Vampires? Werewolves? ...I'm sorry I don't remember." He said lowly. Guilt twisted up and crushed his insides.

"...Thanks, Gabe." She said, taking in a shaking breath. "...I'll go look. Thank you."

And just like that, she was gone.

{October, 1909}

The funeral was a month later.

A month of searching, of hiking through every inch of Yellowstone National Park and it's surrounding area, combing every tree.

Nothing supernatural would be coming to Yellowstone for a very long time, if the bodies left in their wake were anything to tell by.

Priscilla was a juggernaut, walking through anything inhuman. She slaughtered demons, vampires, even a werewolf pup in her rage. 'ISABELLE! WHERE IS SHE?!' Were the words always repeated, right before a knife went through their chest.

And nothing, not one kill, brought them closer to finding Isabelle.

Every so often, Gabriel was certain he'd see a wolf slip through the trees when he was on a hike. A wolf with brilliant, violet eyes, as if they'd been cut from the deepest amethyst.

He was never certain.

They held a pyre with an empty body, nothing more than a pile of sticks in a unique formation, and a small iron ring placed on top.

They had the funeral on the grassy knoll behind the Bunker, just as the snow was falling. The heat of the pyre and the chill of the October day seemed to be a cruel, mocking representation to the heat of everyone's anger and the iciness of Gabriel's guilt.

When the funeral was over, he took his book to the research room, turning on a single lamp, just for himself, before opening the book to the first page.

'To the other uniquity of an old species, Gabriel. Take care of them for me.
-Isabelle Greenwood'

Beside her name, a tiny paw print and fang were drawn, marked down in ink black as night.

Gabriel, for the first time in a long time, closed the book, curled on his side in the armchair, and silently cried for the family he had lost.

{November, 2013}

Gabriel spent his morning in Yellowstone, trying to do as much damage to an area as possible without triggering anything messed up.

He didn't know why he picked Yellowstone National Park, what with it's huge amounts of visitors, massive mountains and risk of volcanic activity, but once he figured out that some of the trees needed to be cleared because they were getting too dense, he tore into it like nothing else mattered.

The first roar and swipe of his hand released a spray of grace strong enough to obliterate a tree, scattering sawdust-like pieces of it across fifty feet at high velocity.

After that, he was just glad he had been smart enough to cloak what was going on there.

The second tree went in far larger chunks, taking bullet-sized holes out of logs and removing sections of bark like it was nothing. He shattered boulders and changed a few water flows, for a bit. He razed a few hundred cubic meters of ground cover because he was pissed.

When it was over, and his anger cooled, the rage in his chest dimming, Gabriel flew to the other side of the caldera and sat beside a dead tree, leaning back on the soft, rotting bark.

It was only moments before he locked onto the Greenwood pack and flew to a tree nearby, hiding in the branches.

The wolves were there, in all their semi-creature glory. The leader was a large, black and silver male who's soft lavender eyes twinkled with life and energy. Around his neck, a thin string of gold lay, the same necklace that he had made for his great great grandmother years ago.

The young alpha's name was Myron. Gabriel had kept an eye on Isabelle's pack when he had 'died', which was in many ways, fortunate. He had even spent a few months as a rogue wolf in the area, going to pay his respects at Isabelle's true grave.

Priscilla never did find her sister.

He still wasn't sure on the how of Priscilla being a human, and yet, Isabelle being a fifth generation werewolf. He was certain adoption had a part in it, and the girls had never been told that they were anything but siblings.

Isabelle had loved Priscilla deeply, but she had known what she was, and that she'd have to leave one day. Priscilla, on the other hand, had loved Isabelle like Dean loved Sam; She would sacrifice herself, kill others, and break moral codes for Isabelle.

He still wasn't sure which sister had been right.

Now though, Myron trotted into the rest of his pack, nosing a pup calmly out of his path. He sniffed around, checking the perimeter, before glaring at the tree where Gabriel resided.

Wreathing himself in grace, Gabriel took on a mimicry of Fenris' form, in golden fur and smaller stature, before climbing down the tree.

One of the females, a young one with soft brown fur, growled at him, but a single yip from Myron silenced her.

The alpha crept forward, sniffing at Gabriel quietly. While the language of wolves was not easy to translate, Gabriel still heard him talk. "I recognize you." Myron stated, pacing around Gabriel.

"You should." Gabriel responded with a tentative sniff of his own. "I was once a friend of your pack's first alpha."

"...Isabelle?" Myron questioned, staring at him with mute curiosity. "You are Gabriel. The one who's colour I still bear."

"As has every alpha born of Isabelle's bloodline." Gabriel nodded slowly, thoughtfully. "You will not be the last."

"You are welcome in this pack." Myron tapped noses with Gabriel, before stepping back. "...You are stressed. What ails you, brother?" With a tail flick, Myron gave a gesture to follow as he started to patrol around the camp.

"I have joined with a new pack. They are small, but they are strong. One of them... his mind is taken by another." Gabriel explained in simple terms, hoping the wolf would understand.

"And you wish to save him?" Myron questioned. Gabriel dipped his head in confirmation as they walked slowly about the trees. "...A long time ago, one of our young wolves was attacked by a Mountain Cat. After that, she became different, as though her mind was taken over. It was a long time to fix her, but we had to save her."

"How did you save her?" Gabriel asked, remembering all the things he had learned about Feline Parasitic Viruses. They basically made the infected animal crazy.

"We forced her to throw up the bad, eject it. Her recovery was long, and difficult, but she did recover." Myron flicked an ear at a wolf with silver and deep orange-red fur.

"She is your mate." Gabriel realized, watching her play with pups that weren't her own, but bonding nevertheless.

"Yes." The wolf responded, smiling faintly at the others. "...Protect your pack, Gabriel. Sometimes, you have to hurt them first, but..." He looked specifically at the female wolf. "They will recover stronger than before."

Watching the wolf, Gabriel noticed the scars on her stomach where fur would never fully regrow, and the limp in her left front side. When she ran, the fur blew over the wounds, and the limp vanished. She looked perfect, all alive and brilliant. It was then that he truly understood what Myron was telling him, and he began to realize what he needed to do.

"...Go save your friend, Gabriel." Myron encouraged.

Gabriel opened the door of the Bunker soundlessly, stepping inside while using some grace, reducing any noise he made even further. His wing, stiff from sitting in the sling all day, protested the slowness of the movement.

Normally, he wouldn't care. He would strut in powerfully, call out for one of the hunters as a joke, and Dean would return with swear words.

But it was 3:37 AM. And not even Gabriel was that big of a jerk.

He closed it just as quietly, slipping down the stairs to the main floor with silent footsteps.

It was then that he realized someone had left a light on for him.

That's nice. He thought. Completely unnecessary. But nice.

As he turned the corner into the lighted library, he realized that nobody had actually intentionally left on the light.

Sam was slumped over a book, snoring softly into it's aged pages, arms crossed under his head. Gabriel chuckled faintly, taking off his boots before walking over, patting Sam's ruffled, fluffy bed-head. "Hey." He called gently, scratching at the hunter's scalp. "Hey, get up." He laughed slightly at Sam's displeased moan. "You're gonna have one hell of a kink in your back, kiddo, unless you get into an actual bed."

"F'ck 'ff." Sam mumbled, turning his face into his arms, away from the invasive presence and light.

"I mean, if you feel like waking up with a knot in your back..." Gabriel retaliated by digging his knuckles into Sam's spine, making the taller man snap upright and arch back with a strangled noise.

"Ow!" Sam exclaimed, glaring back at the Archangel, who shrugged.

"Hey, I'm just doing you a favour." He shook his head slightly, then winced when his wing resisted the motion again.

"Did you hurt your wing again?" Sam asked, looking at him closely.

"Not hurt, just... it's stiff. Sitting in this sling all day, y'know?"

Sam gave him a curious look. "...Want to go sit in my room for a while? You woke me up, might as well watch Netflix."

"Why Sammoose..." Gabriel smirked, trying to cover the fact that his grace had just about sprang out of his body to wrap around that soft, warm soul, to cuddle it and love it because for everything that Sam had done, he still had the prettiest soul Gabriel had seen in a long time. "Are you asking me to 'Netflix and Chill?'"

"No, I'm asking if you want a wing massage and a chance at a nap." Sam rolled his eyes. "Yes or no, Gabe?"

"I'm coming..." He sighed with a loose grin, chasing Sam to the other room.

"What do you want to watch?" Sam asked after they had flopped on the massive bed that Dean had obviously got specifically for massive-moose-man Sam.

"Disney." Stretching out the energy in his back, Gabriel breathed out, forming his wings into physical entities. The healthy ones simply folded at his sides, spreading over his body like a blanket, while his broken one slowly unfurled as much as the reappearing knot of fabric would allow, the sling stretched over the feathers. "And can you please untie this?" He asked.

Sam nodded, reaching over to unloop the knot from Gabriel's wing, freeing out the feathers. "How healed are you?" The hunter questioned, running a tentative hand over the bulge of bandages and braces across the break.

"I'll be back in the air within a week." Gabriel splayed out the feathers across Sam's lap, mostly because he had nowhere else to put the wing. With it unfolded, it was significantly more comfortable to just lay there, even as The Little Mermaid started, and Sam lay hands over his feathers.

"Whoa, some of these are..." He stroked down them, Gabriel's head almost immediately collapsing onto the pillow in response. "Burned."

"...mhmm..." Gabriel agreed quietly, letting Sam pet his wings gently.

"Is that from your landing?"

"Fr'm the sp'll." He mumbled sleepily, taking a pillow and pulling it under his head and chest, acting as a support piece for his body. Sam brushed his feathers straight, rubbing at the aching muscle as he combed them into an orderly pattern. "B'rned..." Gabriel sighed, nuzzling into the pillow.

"Do you even need to sleep?" Sam chuckled, but he sounded kind of sleepy too.

"N't really..." Gabriel mumbled back, feeling the muscles in his back and wings relax.

"...Sounds good though..." Sam slid down in the bed, lying there with his head barely tilted to watch the low-volume Disney movie.

And, with a silent promise in his mind to protect Sam always, Gabriel fell asleep with another person's hand on his feathers.

The morning went by fairly uneventful. Neither of them treated it as awkward or strange, just Sam helped Gabriel put his wing back in the sling, and then Sam went downstairs, while Gabriel took his research book and followed, though he hid in the War room.

"Dean?" Sam called as he walked in, looking around. "Kevin?" He continued, looking between the bookshelves.

After making sure he would not be interrupted, Sam reached over to a shelf and pulled 'Tales from Oz' off it, settling in to read.

Of course, the minute he did so, the phone rang.

With an exasperated sigh, Sam stood up and walked over to answer it. "Hello? ...I'm sorry, there's no, uh... there's no D-dawg... uh..."

"I got it. I got it." Dean repeated, taking the phone from Sam. "Sonny, hey." He greeted, attracting Gabriel's attention as well. "So, what's up?" Sam sat down to watch his brother talk. "Okay." Dean acknowledged. "Alright, yeah, just sit tight. I'll be there as soon as I can. Yeah." He nodded, then hung up.

"So..." Sam began slowly. "What was that all about, 'D-Dawg?'"

"You remember when we were kids, that spring in upstate New York?"

By this point, Gabriel had fully lowered his book, watching with muted interest.

"Dad was on a rougarou hunt, we uh- we crashed at the uh... Bungalow colony with the ping-pong table?"

"Yeah, uh. Y-you disappeared. Dad came back, you were gone. He shipped me off to Bobby's for a couple months and... went and found you. You were lost on a hunt, or something." Sam recalled.

"That's what we told you. Right." Dean realized.

Long pause.

"I'm sorry, that's what you told me?"

"Truth is, um... I lost the food money that dad left for us in a card game. I knew you'd get hungry, so, I tried taking the five-finger discount at the local market and got busted. I wasn't on a hunt. They sent me to a boy's home."

"A boy's home." Sam stated. "Like, a reform school?"

"Yeah, more or less." Dean nodded. "It was a farm, and the guy who ran it, Sonny, he uh... you know, he looked after me."

"Wait. Does Sonny know what we do?"

"Yeah. He's good people. I gave him the number to the bat phone, and, sounds like he's got something in our wheelhouse, so... Hey, are you gonna be cool to do this, or are you too tired?" Dean turned around, just as Sam yawned.

"Uh, no. Yeah, I'm just uh... I'll be fine."

Dean leaned forward, resting hands on the chair in front of him. "And everybody's ok with heading out to the Catskills?"

Sam tilted his head slightly in confusion. Gabriel's hands tightened involuntarily on his book, eyes narrowing to slits at the light in Sam's chest.

"...Unless we're taking Gabriel, I am everybody."

"...Yeah. Alright. Grab your stuff, and we'll head out."

There was a pause before Sam stood up. "Hey, Dean... I mean, why didn't you tell me you went to a boy's home?"

"I don't know." Dean shrugged. "Uh, it was dad's idea. And then it just... you know, the story became the story. I was 16." Dean turned, walking off, down the hall.

"...Alright. You good?" Sam looked at Gabriel.

"You owe me another wing massage tonight for taking care of your prophet." Gabriel joked, like it was such a hardship. Sam only snorted and rolled his eyes before he trotted away as well. "Yeah, sure, roll your eyes! Let's see if I make sure he doesn't pass out later!"

"Screw you, Gabriel!" Sam called back down the hall.

"Yeah yeah!"

"Hey, Kev?" Gabriel leaned against the prophet's doorframe, smiling loosely.

The teen looked up, turning away from the tablet and his notes. "Oh." He noted, then swivelled around again. "Hey, Gabriel." Kevin said as the Archangel walked further into the room, leaning on the table to watch him take notes in cuneiform. It had been nearly three days since Sam and Dean had left, and all Gabriel had done with Kevin so far was forcefeed him and make sure he slept enough.

"...You hungry?" He questioned, shifting down slightly to rest his forearms on the table rather than his hands. "You look bored."

"I am. But I got stuff to translate. I got a responsibility to everyone, including you and the other angels in Heaven."

"Yeah, but kid, you're like... 16."

"18!" Kevin exclaimed, then his eyes widened, as if he was realizing that he was still talking to an Archangel.

"Sure. Still a little on the small side." Gabriel grinned, happy that someone other than a hunter treated him on an equal standing. "But that aside. You need a break, you're gonna burn yourself out on these tablets by the time you're twenty."

"Well... I guess I could use a break..." Kevin sat back, rubbing his face.

"So, on four wings, I've got about a half-continent in any direction, and you need a break. Where do you feel like going?" Gabriel flared his wings behind him, even if they were invisible to Kevin.

Kevin paused for a few minutes, glancing at his pages before turning back to Gabriel. "...can we go see Frozen?"

It was an odd request, but one that Gabriel would accept.

"Sounds good." He nodded, a smile starting to cover his mouth. "Grab your coat! We're heading out!" Gabriel spun one finger in the air, turning and leaving. "See ya at the door, kiddo!" He called as he trotted for the stairs to the exit.

Kevin rejoined him about ten minutes later, zipping up a jacket and pulling on his boots, smiling slightly as they stepped outside, Gabriel locking the door once they were in the open.

"Alright, where do you feel like going to see Frozen?" Gabriel asked as he flipped the leather strap of his key back over his neck, dropping the key down his shirt.

"Um... How about Edmonton?" Kevin suggested.

"...Edmonton? As in Canada?" Gabriel confirmed suspiciously. "Why Edmonton?"

"Because... Well, I've always wanted to go there for the mall. Kinda weird, right?" Kevin laughed nervously, rubbing at his neck.

"Trust me, Kev, this is a judgement free zone." He patted the kid's shoulder. "Let's go." Gabriel tightened his grip on Kevin and beat his four functional wings, taking to the air effortlessly.

After Frozen, (Which had Kevin humming 'Do you Wanna Build a Snowman?' constantly) Skittles and the largest bucket of popcorn that God had created, Kevin seemed much more like an 18 year old kid and less like a particular aged, overtired thirty-something by the name of Winchester.

They wandered around the rest of the mall, every so often one of them slowly starting up on one of the childish songs, for the other to join in about three seconds later.

"Can we get candy apples?" Kevin requested, nodding to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory as they walked past.

"It's like you're a smaller, more responsible me!" Gabriel replied with a grin, nudging Kevin's shoulder toward the shop.

Three minutes later they left with Kevin carrying a massive red sugar-coated apple, and Gabriel munching on a caramel-coated, rolled in M&Ms apple. "Good idea Kev! That was your best one yet! Hey, do you think we should go watch the Sea Lions?"

"You're ridiculous." Kevin rolled his eyes, like any teenager, before glancing over at the clock that showed 7 minutes before the next show started. "Yes please let's go watch the Sea Lions." He blurted out.

So they watched the Sea Lions and pretended that they were just normal people for a while.

After the mall, Kevin had deserved like, triple the sleeping time he was getting, so Gabriel put something cheesy on the TV and they watched a movie for no reason. He prophet had fallen asleep, stretched out across the longer couch, after about ten minutes.

"Gabriel?" Sam called as they closed up. Immediately flying to the front door, Gabriel popped into reality, making Dean fall back with an embarrassing squeak.

"Keep it down. Kevin's sleeping." Gabriel hissed. "I made him take a break day."

"You did what?!" Dean demanded, but at a glare, kept his voice low. "He needs to translate the tablet!"

"He can't do that if he's burned out, Winchester. Shut your trap for a while. Let the kid sleep. Let... just let him work as he can."

After a small glare, the older brother pushed past Gabe and trotted down the stairs quietly, throwing his bag at the foot of the staircase.

"...I'm tired, so good night!" Dean snapped, and stormed away.

"...What was that about?" Gabriel questioned when he was out of earshot.

"Apparently, Dean was ready to stay at the farm. I think he... I think he just has some bad memories about leaving." Sam explained, running a hand through his hair. "How did your weekend go?"

"Well enough." Gabriel shrugged. "I want to start flying again in a few days. Maybe by Thursday." He smiled slightly, his wing already flaring at the temptation of the open sky.

"...then do you want... to... uh... watch a movie?" Sam smiled sheepishly. Even after a few days of just hanging out while Gabriel napped and Sam preened his wings, the hunter wasn't quite comfortable with it. He used little messages and things to get his request across, which Gabriel found eternally cute.

"Yeah, sure." Gabriel shrugged. "Right before I start flying again. Sounds good."

They watched the first 'Die Hard', which had Gabriel in stitches until he fell asleep, Sam chuckling and softly combing his wings. Which is about when Gabriel realized he was screwed. He had fallen for a Winchester. And to him, it wasn't a sensation of 'falling', per say, more a light tugging upward into some sense of home through this disaster.

It's like he's flying.

It's like he's falling.

The heat was burning at his wings with the force of Lucifer's cold grace, when the brother's sunset red wings had pulled up high, scattering ash and hellfire over Gabriel's own wings, right before he boxed him in with soft, half whispered threats and promises that were way too sexual.

The wind beat at his wings like claws, trying to rip out all his feathers, scattering them across the stars. His hair was wild and tangled behind him as he struggled to get his wings, his burning, dying wings, back under his body, back against the air. His Trickster magic was gone, he couldn't protect them, there was screaming in the sky and he couldn't fly and he couldn't fly, he was going to crash. He could feel his wings tearing from his spine, the agony ripping forth another wail from his throat like the cry of a wounded child.

He was falling. He was missing his wings.

He was...

Archangels really, shouldn't be the kind of creatures to wake up with a scream building in their throat.

Gabriel shot upright, chest working overtime, though he had no use for the oxygen it brought. On the wall opposite, two spots of gold stared back at him from within the dark room, a surefire sign that his grace was reacting.

It was a nightmare. Gabriel told himself, reflecting, not for the first time, on the fact that Archangels should never have nightmares. They should never be terrified into their memories and grace turning on them when they rest. They should never be that traumatized. It was a nightmare. He repeated, rubbing his eyes and focusing on the blanket that had fallen into his lap, blinking rapidly. The twin circles of golden-white light dimmed slightly, but didn't flicker out. His wings had fluffed up with the stress, and he fear, and his vessel's heart rate was way too high. His breathing was erratic and irregular, a little panicked.

For a moment, he didn't want to fly.

He wanted to stay down, where it was safe. Where he wouldn't wind up burned out of the air.

"'br'l?" Sam mumbled in some twisted, garbled form of his name. "Y' 'k?"

"Y-y-eah." And Gabriel hated the way his voice broke. "I'm ok." He murmured, glaring at the palms of his hands in an attempt to get rid of the headlamps.

There was a moment of silence before Sam shifted upright in bed too, making Gabriel's feathers pull at awkward angles when the sheets moved below them. "...no, you're not. Gabriel, you're shaking." Sam realized with a hand on the Trickster's back, faint shivers running down his spine every few exhale.

"J-just... give me a sec, here, Sam. I need-..." Gabriel panted. I don't need air! It's not a thing I require! Why do I feel like I'm going to drown if I don't have it?!

"You need to calm down." Sam said, pushing Gabriel's wings out of the way to wrap the Archangel in a hug. "Breathe, Gabriel."

He wasn't quite sure what he was doing, letting himself be comforted by a human. He wasn't sure why it was working. He also wasn't sure why his vessel suddenly needed air, and he definitely wasn't sure why Sam was doing anything for him at all. Ever. God knew he didn't deserve it.

But, never the less, he let Sam hold his head against his chest, rubbing his back between his wings as Gabriel struggled to take a full breath, eyes wide and lungs hitching strangely between each intake. Gabriel had been in many stressful situations before, but only once before, like this.

One time before that left his grace fluttering in panic, one time that had his chest working with rough gasping noises, but no air coming in. His diaphragm compressing and expanding so fast he wondered if he might get a cramp.

The one other time was when his brother was cast out.

Gabriel wasn't sure why something so simple as a nightmare was bringing out that level of reaction, but it was painful. The gasping had devolved into choking, tears streaming down Gabriel's cheeks and he didn't know why he was so emotional and afraid and he didn't know why he was clinging to the t-shirt on Sam's back like it was a lifeline.

He didn't know why he was slowly taking deeper swallows of air, gulping it down like water as Sam rubbed his back in gentle circles, other hand pinning Gabriel's head to his shoulder and over his neck. He wasn't sure when Sam started humming as a comfort method, but it was working. He was starting to breathe again.

"...You alright? What happened there?" Sam asked when Gabriel's gasping had been reduced to heavy breathing.

"...nightmare." Gabriel admitted, closing his eyes and burying his face in Sam's shoulder.

"I didn't know you could get those." Sam stated, running a hand through his golden hair.

"Neither did I." Gabriel murmured, nuzzling down a little more as Sam leaned back onto the bed, pulling Gabriel with him. "...I was falling.

"...go to sleep, Gabriel." Sam patted his back, settling into the blankets. "You've got to fly in a few days, not fall."

Gabriel wasn't entirely sure about a lot of things that evening, and when he had fallen asleep was just another on the list.

Chapter Text

{Spring, Before}

“C’mon, Fledgling. C’mon Gabe, spread out those pretty wings.”

“Luci!” Gabriel whined. “I’m not a fledgling!”

“Hey,” Lucifer put his hands up in a gesture of surrender as he looked at his shorter, younger brother with nothing but love and indulgence. “don’t let me tell you how to do it. Though, c’mon, I’m gonna teach you to fly.” He said as the pair crested a massive hill, the other side appearing as a cliff, silver-grey rock making up the open face, sprouts of green and white that signalled new growth peeking through the stones.

“Luci, I know how to fly!” Gabriel shook his head at his brother’s foolishness. “Mikey taught me.”

“I know that Mikey taught you how to ‘fly’, like that, where they jump to places. Yeah, I know that.” Lucifer nodded, smiling kindly. To any person who had seen him, he might appear 13 or 14, thin and lithe with huge sunset-coloured wings on his back. “But to fly, Gabe. Not like that, but to really fly.”

With those words, Lucifer straightened up and spread his wings on either side of his body, light playing off the feathers. Rather than wrap himself in his wings and pop off to another location, Lucifer stepped back, heels on the edge of the cliff, glancing over his shoulder. “Luci?” Gabriel questioned, stepping forward nervously. “Luci, what are you-“

Lucifer leaned backward, folding his wings to his back and closing his eyes with a mischievous grin. Gabriel let out a shocked yelp as his brother fell backward, plunging down the cliff without opening his eyes.

Watching in horror, Gabriel prepared to shoot off to get Raphi, who could help with the definite damage his brother was about to take, but he felt frozen in fear.

And, mere feet before he would’ve come into contact with the ground, Lucifer spun around, flared his wings, and shot forward, gliding only feet off the surface of the grass with speed that left Gabriel in awe.

With a howl of absolute excitement, Lucifer beat his wings and swirled upward, one wingtip clipping a tree branch as he whirled, heading high into the sky with his wings extended. When he had gone high above the cliff again, he pressed his wings to his sides, allowing momentum to carry him over his back again, before he started a soft sort of glide, returning to land smoothly and easily beside Gabriel.

The small golden-haired angel stared in amazement and wonder as Lucifer laughed, shaking frost from his short blond hair from going that high. “That’s flying, Gabe!”

Gabriel still remained frozen with his mouth open before he jumped to his feet. “Luci, how can I fly like that?!”

“C’mere, Goldie. I’ll show ya’.” Lucifer patted the edge of the cliff, sitting with his feet dangling off the drop.

Gabriel sat beside him, six golden wings quivering in excitement as Lucifer ran him through the mechanics.

“See, Gabe, Dad is going to design these animals called ‘birds’ like us. He told me that they would have wings like us, wings to fly through the air on Earth! And then he showed me how they would fly... So I took some time a while ago, and I tried flying like the birds did.” With that, Lucifer pushed himself off the cliff, only dropping for a few feet before catching himself with his wings, beating them in a semi-circular motion that kept him floating. “Turns out, it works.” Lucifer flapped forward, coming closer to the cliff edge with his arms held toward Gabriel. “C’mon, Goldie.”

Gabriel edged closer to the drop, holding out his arms to his brother before immediately retreating. “...Luci, it’s too high!” He stammered, staring at the ground.

“Gabe, it’s ok. Look at me, I’m fine!” Lucifer gestured to himself, still hovering.

Gabe shuffled forward again, reaching out before glancing down and scrambling backward. “I-I can’t do it!” He announced, wrapping his arms around his knees and burying his face in the hem of his white robe.

Lucifer gave a small sigh before pushing forward and landing on his knees beside his brother’s crunched up form. “...C’mon Gabe, it’s alright.” Luci said softly, rubbing the smaller Archangel’s back between his wings, now curled around him. Moving to pull his brother’s frightened form into his side, Lucifer petted his soft golden hair gently. “Hey, look at me.” Luci shook him slightly, making Gabriel turn his head to look at the older brother. “...I won’t let you fall, ok?”

They sat there, nothing but eye contact. Gabriel’s golden eyes flashed in fear, anticipation and trust as Lucifer shifted away from him, starting to hover off the cliff again.

“Just don’t look down, ok?” Lucifer encouraged, holding out his hands.

It took Gabriel a few seconds to uncurl, creep to the edge and take his brother’s hands, spreading his wings as Lucifer pulled him forward with a firm grip on his arms, holding the smaller fledgling in front of him as he took Gabriel off the land. The golden-haired boy whimpered, clinging to Lucifer with all his strength, eyes shut. “Hey, Gabe, you have to watch me, ok? Just me. Don’t look at the ground, just watch me, alright?” Lucifer encouraged, and Gabriel’s head turned up to stare at him, wide and fearful eyes full of anticipation. “There you go.” He said. “Now watch my wings. You see how they move? Think you can do that?”

With a tentative nod, Gabriel spread his wings a little wider, and started forcing them to beat in time with Lucifer’s.

“A-am I doing it?” Gabriel asked.

“You’ll have to beat faster than me. Your wings are smaller, ok Goldie? Just move them a little faster.” Lucifer nodded in confirmation, and Gabriel, small eyebrows furrowing in concentration, forced his wings faster. Lucifer had also noticed that Gabriel’s wings weren’t quite as wide as his, more pointed and thin, edged and elegant. If he was older, they would be longer than Lucifer’s, and as sharp as Michael’s spear.

He would be far faster than Lucifer, Michael or Raphael when he learned to fly properly.

Which was why, when Lucifer felt Gabriel’s weight start to lift off his arms, he slowly let go.

Gabriel didn’t lose hold of his focus for a second, small shoulders rolling as he fought against the downward pull of gravity.

Lucifer backbeat a few feet away, letting his brother fly on his own with powerful, deceptively easy wingbeats. “Hey, Gabe, try to come over here.” Lucifer encouraged, making the smaller angel lean forward to tread air into Lucifer’s space.

They spent hours, Gabriel chasing Lucifer around until the fledgling’s wings could no longer flap all at once, forcing Lucifer to dip forward and catch him.

“Whoa, you ok, Gabe?” Lucifer pumped his own wings a little harder, despite the fact that exhaustion was dragging on him too. He could feel his younger brother’s smaller, lighter wings, less built for hovering, trembling against his hands as Lucifer dipped forward, landing on the grass with a minor stumble. “Hey, you ok?”

Gabriel lifted his head from his brother’s shoulders, grinning widely. “That was awesome, Luci! Can we keep fly-“ Gabriel yawned. “Flying?”

“Later.” Lucifer laughed slightly, still holding Gabriel against his chest. “When neither of us are so tired.”

“...Ok.” Gabriel relented, leaning into his brother again, wrapping his shivering wings around Lucifer as the older Archangel lay on the ground, closing his eyes. “...Should I call Mikey?” Gabriel questioned, watching as Lucifer, significantly more tired from both hovering and flying earlier that day, attempted to sleep.

“S’re, G’be...” Lucifer mumbled sleepily as he pulled his wings around the two of them.

So Gabriel sat, fighting sleep until Michael arrived with Raphael, the latter of which picked up Gabriel without hesitation and wrapped him in his huge, rich brown wings, bracing against his hip.

Michael, meanwhile, knelt down beside Lucifer. “Hey, Luci. Wake up.” He shook the younger’s shoulder. “Wake up, little brother. You can sleep back at the palace.”

Lucifer responded with a small noise rather than any form of movement or waking, so Michael simply shuffled closer, pure-white wings wrapping around Lucifer’s more red-orange wings as the oldest Archangel picked up the Morningstar, leaning Lucifer’s head against his shoulder before wrapping all four of them in his wings and jumping them back to the palace.

Gabriel, right before falling asleep in the safety of Raphael’s wings, was briefly struck with the idea that he’d have to teach Mikey to fly like a bird.

{October, 1909}

Gabriel poured himself into the demon book that Isabelle had brought, translating the Enochian like reading a fiction novel.

And then one day, it all came to pass.

A demon record book, hidden in a slip between the pages, and suddenly, everything was changed.

Gabriel slapped down the page of names, human names, their date of death, burial locations, everything, in front of Ward and Lucius days later. “...Start burning bones, boys.” He said.

Ward and Lucius glanced between one another, as if checking Gabriel for problems before Ward snatched up the paper and started reading it, eyebrows increasingly furrowing as he read down.

“Gabriel, this is...”

“A list.” Gabriel finished for them. “I found it in that book Isabelle left me.” He pulled another page out of the messenger bag at his hip. “Demons. Like, at least twenty, maybe more.” Gabriel placed the second page of ten in front of them. “Real names, burial locations, everything.”

“...so we just go in and bat cleanup?” Lucius raised his eyes to Gabriel without moving his head.

“Spread out those names.” Gabriel encouraged, pushing the pointless reading glasses up his nose (“They’re adorable on me, Shay!”) with a soft laugh. “We can cut a few out of the demon population.”

Ward took a long look, and then nodded. “...Lucius, pack it up.” He ordered with a kind lilt to his tone. “We’re going demon hunting.”

With a hum of agreement, Gabriel picked back up his pen and trotted for the Archive again. “Come back here in a few weeks, I’ll have more names for ya’!” He called over his shoulder.

After arriving back at his table, Gabriel flipped to the next page of Daemonaec notes. Daemonaec was definitely not Gabriel’s favourite of monster languages, but it was easy to read.

‘Easy’ seemed like such an odd concept to Gabriel as of late. ‘Easy’ was him leaving Heaven for somewhere less... hateful, but it was also the hardest thing he’d ever done. ‘Easy’ was Isabelle just leaving, faking her death and escaping the cruel cycle of hunter and hunted. ‘Easy’ was translating the book she left behind. ‘Easy’ was...

He wasn’t so sure anymore.

‘Easy’ would be running off again. To not feel the loss, the guilt. To escape in the simplicity of merciful debauchery.

Gabriel had stopped wanting ‘easy’ a long time ago. Goddamnit, he was an Archangel and he should have the pride of one.

Correction: should’ve had.

Gabriel scrubbed down a new name as Vincent stepped silently in, picking up his own translations and going to the other section of the table to work, apparently noticing Gabriel’s harsh focus and considerate, contemplative expression.

Gabriel didn’t want ‘easy’ any longer. He wanted the hard. Begged for it, in fact. Begged enough to make it into the Men of Letters. He was learning to become even more human, moreso than normal, even.

Gabriel could play pool and poker, he could kick anyone’s ass at the latter. He liked singing and cooking and being... human.

It was, for an Archangel, an odd sensation.

“...hey Vincent...” Gabriel questioned, looking over.

Vincent glanced up quickly. “Hm?”

“...do you think monsters ever... ever just want to be human again? Vampires was to be cured, werewolves, y’know.” Gabriel shrugged. “...even demons?”

“...if there’s a cure for demons, Gabe, we’ll find it. And we’ll cure every demon we can.” Vincent reassured with a quick nod.

And that’s what I’m worried about. Gabriel thought, hand tightening on his pencil. ...Everything getting unbalanced.

First name. Last name. Birth date. Death date. Burial location.

Gabriel had been on earth for a lot of years, and not once had he seen a demon ‘cured’. He wanted to see one, but he couldn’t help wondering what would happen to the possessed person. Did they just get... shunted out?

Where did they go?

...Where all lost souls go. Gabriel answered his own question.

And where’s that?

He had no answer.

{November, 2013}

The wave of white fabric fell from the golden feathers of his wing like the unveiling of a statue.

Slowly, Gabriel stretched out his six wings, flaring them to their full length like he was unfurling his hand. The feathers stretched out languidly, catching the wind in their elegantly pointed shapes as the early morning sunlight glittered over their surface, casting a golden glow across the gravel of the Bunker’s roof.

“Whoa, turn down the brightness.” Sam quipped as he shielded his eyes. “All better, though?”

“Sammy...” Gabriel laughed, stepping on to the edge of the roof to give a few quick flaps, testing the joint. No problems with the movement reared their heads, so Gabriel simply flexed and shifted the wing forward and back, checking on all of them as a single entity, waiting for any resistance to his actions. When none came, he shook out his wings to align the feathers down their backs. “...Watch this.”

And Gabriel jumped.

He was lucky the electrical plant was as tall as it was, because it gave him the freedom to fall. Gabriel plunged with his wings half-folded at his sides, reviling in the sensation of wind against his feathers.

It had been just a few weeks, but it was still too long.

Some ten feet to the ground, Gabriel spread out his wings and beat them, one after the other, in a strong wave, from light gold to golden brown, swooping upward as he felt the pleasant burn of work on the slightly atrophied muscles of his upper right wing. He knew they would get stronger with exercise, and actual flying was the best way to get that done.

So Gabriel shot into the sky with a whoop, ignoring Sam’s calls to ‘keep it down!’ even though the hunter was grinning as wide as Gabriel, who only beat his wings, closing his eyes and bathing in the heat and light of the open sky.

Most of his siblings had always believed in the more transportation side of flying. The ‘teleporting’, using his wings to wrap himself in a cocoon of safety as he jumped dimensions.

Gabriel, though... He preferred the physical side of flying. Perhaps it was the fact that it was one of the strongest remaining ties he held to Lucifer. Lucifer had been the one to teach him to fly, like a bird. Admitted, Gabriel surpassed Lucifer’s speed and agility within weeks, able to preform ridiculously fast brakes, changes in direction, dives, and turns at a moment’s notice.

Lucifer never stopped trying to outfly him on a straightaway. Not until the day he fell.

Gabriel kept going, waiting until his vessel’s lungs struggled to draw air, his heart threatened to stop before preforming the exact trick that Lucifer had all those days ago.

He let his wings go lax, trailing behind him like massive streamers as he let momentum carry him higher, higher...

Then fall back.

He plunged for the ground, body held at an easy tensity that neither hindered his movement or made it faster.

He could hear the whistling of the air change as he started to get closer to the ground, and at some forty feet from the roof, Gabriel swung his feet down, wings cupping down to create a huge gust of air as he slowed himself to almost nothing. Sam’s hair blew back with the dust kicked up at the downsweep, Gabriel’s feet lightly tapping on the ground as his wings pulled back, unfolding from their parachute position to refold behind his back.

“Ta da...” He gave a cocky grin as he gestured outward. “What did you think?”

“That was...” Sam stared in awe. “Something else! Can all angels fly like that?”

“Oh Sam, I’m not even at full strength right now!” Gabriel panted slightly. “Give me some time here, I’ll wow you!”

“You already did.” Sam chuckled as the Archangel bent his wings backward, stretching high for the sky. “Like... wow.”

At Sam’s yawn, they walked back inside, Gabriel sending Sam to get breakfast while he put his wings away.

When he returned, Dean nodded to Sam, sleeping beside a soggy bowl of cereal.

“What did you two do this morning?” Dean questioned, glaring at Gabriel suspiciously.

“I took him to spot me for flight practice. Nothing major.” Gabriel explained.

“And... Number two’s still in there?” Dean nodded to his sleeping form.

Gabriel grimaced, a dirty sort of snarl escaping his mouth. “...Unfortunately.”

“We’ll get him out soon.” Dean reassured, though he sounded doubtful as well as he poured a cup of coffee.

“We better.” Gabriel growled.

Dean picked up a bowl and tossed it onto the table, making Sam snap awake.

“Hey.” Dean greeted, which Sam returned. “You ok?”

With a grunt, Sam rubbed his face. “Yeah... Uh... yeah.” He repeated as Dean poured the cereal. Gabriel just leaned against the counter, drinking his coffee. “Just uh... resting my head for a second.” There was a pause as Sam tried to process everything from the past few days from sleep to awake. “Um, how’s Kevin? He uh- He find anything?”

“Uh, jack.” Dean announced, pouring the milk. “Goin’ on about four days no sleep. He looks worse than you.”

With a yawn, Sam continued with his questions. “Huh. What about Crowley? Um, do you think he might be lying about the whole, uh,” He cast a glance to Gabriel. “‘Metatron’s spell being irreversible’ thing?”

Gabriel’s hand tightened involuntarily on his mug. He needed to make sure that Metatron couldn’t affect him anymore. Or at least, not as much.

“Oh Crowley? Lie?” Dean scoffed. “I do know one thing; Next time that junkie’s jonesing for a hit of blood, we got leverage.” Sam yawned in response. “Seriously, you want a pillow?” Dean sarcastically questioned.

“No, I’m fine.” Sam nodded.

“You’re sick.” Dean stated, an inarguable fact.

“No, I’m not sick. I’m just uh- I feel like my battery can’t recharge.”

That got Gabriel’s Archangel instincts riled up. That dirty lowlife of a foot-licking pigeon is sucking energy off Sam to make more repairs to himself how dare he.

Gabriel was a half second from taking that angel out of Sam over their breakfast, when Dean’s cell phone rang. “Hello?” He questioned it. “Sheriff Mills! Hang on, Sam and Gabriel are here too.” Dean put the phone on speaker, and Gabriel walked over.

“Hey Jody.” Sam greeted.

“Hey Sam,” Came a motherly voice of a middle aged woman, Gabriel finding that he liked her already. “Uh, I got a bit of an oddball to pitch your direction.”

“Shoot.” Sam answered.

“A small town I cover outside of Sioux Falls - only crime to speak of being the occasional cow tipping - then last week, four people go missing.”

“Alright.” Dean began. “So what makes you think this is our kind of weird?”

“I’ve got a witness who says he saw someone lift an S.U.V. to nab a girl last night.”

Dean looked up with an odd little nod and a duck-lips-esque expression, glancing to Sam. “...Sounds like us. We’ll be there right away.”

“Alright boys. See you soon.” Jody hung up, and both the Winchesters immediately stood, turning for the exit.

“Okay, so I guess I’m cleaning the kitchen? And managing a few days? Ok, I can do that. See you later!” Gabriel waved them out. “I have my own stuff to research anyway...” He mumbled, picking up the dishes to place in the sink with a small grunt of displeasure. “God, how did they survive without me? I swear I’m the only one who ever cleans this building...”

-{[|]}-

To find what he wanted, Gabriel had to go into the deep end of De’van’s research, even down to discoveries from his half sister Raven.

Raven was a tough little hunter, but entirely unique with what she used and how she worked.

Raven was possessed. Gabriel knew enough about her, but he could also tell it in her writing. Half of her writing was calligraphic, brilliant and flowing. The other half, notes, extra information, etcetera, was in blocky, precise printing. He never quite knew too much about her, but some of her research helped clear a few things up.

When she was thirteen, an escapee demon with valuable information on Hell’s leaders got caught in a trap in her house. She, stupidly or wisely, walked into the circle with him.

The details of what happened next were fuzzy, but Gabe had pieced together that she had been possessed, sitting in the circle, not eating or sleeping, for upwards of four days. Apparently, they had come to a peaceful resolution, a deal that was supposed to last a year. She gave the demon hiding, if he let her continue to be human.

It lasted twenty seven.

The girl spent every day until she was 40 with a demon in her chest. According to everything De’van had written about her, their relationship was entirely symbiotic. If they got stuck in a Devil’s Trap, the demon would smoke out, she would step free, erase the corner, and let him back in. There were a lot of things she did.

Most of her records included information on how to transport a friendly or captured demon, from specific types of exorcisms that demons could say, to special traps that one could put in their bag, hiding a demon inside their purse. According to Raven’s research, she used a sigil she called Blackfeather consistently. A Devil’s trap with Enochian lettering, it could be slipped inside of a satchel, completely hiding a demon’s energy signature from the rest of the world.

He wasn’t looking for how to cure. He wasn’t looking for how to exorcise a demon specially.

He was looking for a combination spell. One that could combine, bind two energies together. Not combine souls, but energies.

Raven had done it with the demon, Damian. She could access his hellfire, his strength while still in control of her own body, and he could access her energy to repair himself.

The reasons for the insane idea that he could were simple; Gabriel had figured out how to prevent Metatron’s spells from affecting him.

He just had to combine his Archangel grace with the gift of power he had from Loki.

Really, it was brilliant. His grace would prevent Loki’s energy from dying or fading, as well as prevent most pagan spells from disabling or crippling him, and it would reroute summoning spells on him. Loki’s energy would protect his wings from Heaven’s fire, some summoning spells, and most of anything from the Tablet. All he had to do was find how to combine them.

He found the spell half in an Enochian translation of Daemonaec text, while he found the other half in Pictograph and foursquare code. Hilariously, Raven was writing in the Daemonaec Enochian, while what he assumed was Damian’s handwriting showed its sharpness in Pictograph and foursquare. With it switching somewhere between every six lines and in the middle of every second word, the words are oddly difficult to read. Evidently, it had been written when Damian and Raven were so close they could practically think for each other.

The Daemonaec Enochian and Pictograph easy, but Gabriel didn’t actually know how to read foursquare code. Which was why he went to Crowley, hanging out in the dungeon.

He slapped down some of the translations. “You know what this code is? It’s called foursquare. How do I read it.”

There was a moment of shocked silence from Crowley, who blinked at Gabriel’s sudden appearance and demands. Fortunately, he recovered quickly. “Why Gabriel... are you asking a demon for help?”

“Cut the shit.” Gabriel responded. “I asked a lot of questions to a lot of demons all those years ago. Demons made up half my Earth education. Now how do I translate foursquare?”

“...well, I can suddenly see why you are the way you are. I-“

Gabriel slapped him.

Not overly hard, just enough to shock him into silence. “Listen, Crowley. I prefer you as King of Hell to Abbadon all day, got me? This means a fucking Archangel has voted you for King of Hell. Which means for you, you want to be in my good circles. Now, I’m currently trying to translate a spell that’s going to prevent Metatron from doing much damage to me. So you need to tell me how to translate foursquare. Now.”

Crowley was quiet for a few seconds before grabbing his crayon and a small notepad, scribbling down the legend for foursquare code. “There.” He growled.

“Thanks!” Gabriel announced cheerfully before warping himself back to his seat, starting his work on the foursquare translations.

-{[|]}-


Dragon’s scale, witch’s blood, essence of... vampire? Ugh, gross. God, why can’t I get the simple spells?

Most of the ingredients were bloody, messy chunky things to get and burn, but some of them were herbs and other things.

He wasn’t looking forward to the process that he’d be taking over the next few days. The spell was confusing and strange, but he had no doubts about his ability to do it.

The first half involved a shitload of holy water, some pagan spellwork, and innumerable herbs, gemstones, blessed metals and other items of the like. He was supposed to fill a bathtub with it.

The second half involved lifeblood of a werewolf, essence of a vampire, the heart of a serpent, blood of an elk, etcetera. It was to be literally mashed together to form a thick soup, which he had to pour over himself.

Guess I’m going material hunting... Gabriel huffed, packing up a back pack. As he headed for Kevin’s room. “Hey kid.”

“Yeah?” Kevin glanced up from where he had fallen asleep, wiping the corner of his mouth and his hair half squished upward.

“Nice look.” Gabriel commented, making Kevin scramble to brush his hair flat. “I’m going out for a bit. You gonna be good?”

“Yeah, I’ll be good.” Kevin nodded with a yawn.

“No uh, raves in the basement, no talking to creepy uncle, no adult movies?” Gabriel questioned with a sarcastic, playful grin.

Kevin gave him an odd look. “Y-yes, I guess?”

“Attaboy.” Gabriel patted his shoulder. “I’m off to the great unknown. Gotta get some stuff for a spell!”

“Have fun with that.” Kevin went back to his translating as Gabriel tromped for the front door, stepping outside just long enough to lock it before spreading out his healed wing.

It was still a little stiff and weak, but flying would only strengthen it.

So he flew.

-{[|]}-

First place on his list was Jerusalem.

Unsurprising.

He spent a few hours out in the middle of the desert mountains finding quartz crystals, putting them in his bag carefully.

When he had enough, he jumped to Australia, an act that left him panting. After a while of flying down an old mineshaft, he managed to find some opals, taking a momentary break before wreathing himself in feathers and shifting reality, heading to the Madagascar forests, vanishing between the trees.

And so went his day.

-{[|]}-

Part one.

Gabriel spread the items in front of the bathtub, full of cool water.

Grind all the gemstones to a fine powder, set aside... Alright, done there. Bless the water with your preferred method. Gabriel picked up the rosary, placing it in the bathtub with an Enochian enchantment. Begin by pouring ground bloodstone in the water, mixing in carefully. He did so.

Citrine, fluorite, hematite, iolite, kyanite, obsidian, opal and (a potentially excessive amount of) quartz were poured into the water, their softly coloured grit colouring the water a multitude of different shades. Magnolia bark, lavender, basil, thyme, poppy seeds, oregano, sage, peppermint... Gabriel added the perfect amounts, pieces lining the water’s surface. After that, came the weirder items. Amapola Oriental blooms, Passion flower blooms, moonflower blossoms, sage fern, skeleton flowers, pecteilis radiata... All in all, it looked like an herbal bath.

The next step for Gabriel, was to ‘heat it with the lesser of the two energies’. He assumed that meant Loki’s energy, which was not going to be easy for him. Not one bit.

Loki’s energy ran cold. Making the water boil with Loki’s power only was a struggle, but he managed to get it bubbling, turning the water a clear, faintly off-white teal, more sea-green than blue. It was actually quite beautiful.

After that, came the messy part. Heart of a serpent, blood of a demon, dragon’s scale, essence of vampire, werewolf and shifter, blood of a witch, lungs of a lamb, tendon of a foal, a puppy’s tail, kitten’s claws, and powdered hoof of a calf. Ribs of a lion, liver of a wolf, spine of a cheetah, paws of a bear. He hated getting most of those to mix in the huge copper bowl, now filled with nearly 10 litres of a thick, visceral red liquid. Then he had to chill it using his larger energy source, and cooling something with Grace was easier said than done.

After casting the ashes of the damned over it and saying a Daemonaec incantation, Gabriel deemed it ready.

Pulling out his phone as he stripped down to his boxers, he fired off a text to Dean.

<Can u come upstrs? Rm 1b 2nd lvl.> As an afterthought, he added. <Don’t brng Sam>

When Dean knocked on the door, Gabriel was sitting on the edge of the bathtub with the copper bowl of... goop... on his lap.

“I thought you were an Archangel. Why do you use- dude, put some clothes on.” Dean grunted as he glanced away, then back at the bowl of thick blood. “What the hell is this?”

“A spell.” Gabriel informed. “It’s to combine my two energies. It’ll make my angel more resilient to things that hurt angels, and it should stop all pagan things from affecting me.” He then nodded to the sigil on the roof over the bath. It looked like a pentagram with an infinity mark, a cross, a heart, a satanic cross, and a Trickster marking in it. “All I need you to do, is help me dump this on myself, then break that circle in about three hours. Maybe four. Doesn’t matter. Between three and four.”

“...And Sam can’t know because..?”

“Oh he can know. I just don’t want the angel to know.” Gabriel explained, stepping inside the tub with a slight shiver. “You two can come up here to break it. Because I won’t be conscious as long as the circle’s intact.”

“...And this is to keep Metatron from screwing you?” Dean asked as Gabriel handed him the copper bowl.

“If you don’t mind, yeah.” Gabriel nodded, shaking himself out. He had no idea what this would do to him.

“...Alright then.” Dean shrugged, standing on the toilet. “Three hours, break the sigil.”

“Make it three and a half.” Smirking loosely, Gabriel ignored his nervousness.

“Sure thing, shorty. Let’s do this.” He agreed, and then at Gabriel’s signal, dumped the bowl slowly over his head, covering Gabriel’s skin. When the two liquids mixed, they formed a deep burgundy colour that looked a lot like watered down paint. Gabriel felt his mind slowly fading from reality, sliding down, under the liquid, and the world all turned to the pure blackness of nothing, empty and dead. It was sleep, and yet not.

Void.

-{[|]}-

Awareness flooded back with a jolt, forcing him to instinctively inhale, only to receive a lungful of thick liquid.

Gabriel’s hands shot out of the fluid, his amniotic cocoon of warmth and semi-safety broken by the fact that he was choking. Everything that made him inhuman seemed to have vacated the premise, leaving him drowning in the water as his fingers scrabbled for purchase against the slick, slippery surface of the container her was trapped in.

Spasming muscles in his back and chest seemed to make breathing, rising up, moving impossible, reactions and timing messed right up.

Then he caught the lip of the slick surface and pulled himself upright, rising out of the liquid to forcefully eject the fluid trapped in his lungs, coughing and hacking with interspersed gasping. Leaning over the side, he clutched with all his strength to the lip, chest heaving to regain the air lost.

“Breath deeper.” A voice, low and worried, instructed from above him, a hand touching the back of his neck.

“Disconnected from the Matrix there, Neo?” A second voice, deeper and a little harsher, but still concerned.

Gabriel’s eyes opened to their widest, unfocused and all too bright, but a surefire sign that he could still function. His grace was slowly returning to his body, like it was waking up from a long nap. This time, he felt a tendril of silver run through his golden energy, weaved perfectly between the other strands.

“...’t w’rk’d...” Gabriel panted out with a slowly growing grin. He chuckled wearily, focusing on his reviving grace as it pulsed itself back throughout his body. “It worked.” He enunciated, shaking his head with a raspy laugh.

“Hah!” He cheered, almost giddy with the sudden flow of energy and the new connection in his grace. “Take that, Metatron! You hear me, you son of a bitch?!” He raised his head to the roof. “IT FUCKING WORKED!”

Sam looked to Dean with utter confusion, but Dean’s stony face was focused only on the crazily giggling Archangel.

Chapter Text

{Spring, Before}

Gabriel shot across the skyline, pulling his wings to his sides and spinning before spreading them out again, swirling over backward to head back to where Lucifer glid, watching the skyline.

Gabriel flew under him, flipping onto his back to grin up at his brother. “When do you think Mikey and Raphie are gonna be here?” He called.

“When they get here.” Lucifer answered cryptically, rolling to the side away from Gabriel, heading back to the cliff.

Gabriel had called them the Silver Cliffs of Destiny, which seemed to stick. Lucifer had enjoyed the name at least. When Gabriel told (read; demanded) Michael and Raphael to get to the Silver Cliffs, both of them stared at him like he had started talking like a wolf.

God had merely laughed, and agreed with the name.

Which was why, just as Lucifer and Gabriel landed on the edge of the cliff, Raphael and Michael appeared.

Lucifer had no problem with Gabriel helping teach Raphael how to fly. Already, the younger Archangel was faster than he was, and, from the endless practice he came out to get, he was stronger too.

Lucifer preferred to stay with their Father recently, watching the creatures that he created. As a result, Lucifer knew a lot about what they were going to see down on the surface, but he had less time to fly around.

But he was still just as good, chasing his faster, more agile brother around, requiring more trickery to catch him each time. Now, though, it was time to teach their missing siblings to do the same.

“Lucifer, Gabriel!” Michael smiled upon seeing his brothers, then frowned at their closeness to the cliff. “...What are you doing?”

Gabriel shot to his feet in an instant. “Mikey! Raphie! Luci, can I do it this time?” He asked his brother excitedly.

“Go ahead, Goldie. Show ‘em what they’re gonna learn.” Lucifer nodded to the cliff with a wide smile.

Michael and Raphael stared at Gabriel curiously as the youngest Archangel stepped right up to the edge, putting his arms out on either side, spreading his wings simultaneously. He pulled onto his toes...

And jumped.

Behind him, he heard Michael and Raphael’s panicked shouts as he dropped, wings on either side as though he was just gliding vertically.

Right before the ground, close enough that his tunic brushed the grass, Gabriel angled his wings and feet, shooting back upright in a perfect reversal. Beating his wings in a wave, Gabriel pushed for the skyline again, determined to surprise even Lucifer with the trick he had been practicing on his own.

He went as high up as he could, face rosy from the chill of the wind, before he twisted, stretching his wings down on either side of his body, spinning upward in an arc, before pushing his grace to the tips of his wings...

And falling.

Spiralling for the ground, golden light trailing off his feathers and heading straight for Michael without opening his wings, Gabriel grinned.

As he approached, he could hear Lucifer calling his name, saying ‘slow down! How are you going to stop!?’

Gabriel ignored him completely. He had practiced this for weeks.

At the perfect height, Gabriel opened his wings and swung his legs downward, cupping the feathers to form a brace against the air. Just like each time he did it, the impact jarred him as his wings caught in the wind, cutting his speed quickly, allowing him to land perfectly in front of a semi-cowering Michael, who had obviously been expecting to get hit.

“Ta da!” Gabriel announced with a huge smile.

Michael and Raphael stood in shocked silence for a moment, right before they burst into astonished questions.

“How did you-“

“When did you le-“

“Did Lucifer teach y-“

“Does Dad kno-“

“Mikey, Raphie...” Lucifer interrupted with what would become the universal ‘calm the heaven down’ signal. “I taught him. After watching Dad’s birds.” He informed with a chuckle. “That’s why we dragged you here. Though, apparently, Gabriel’s been practicing without me.” He hip-checked the younger.

“You’re just mad because I beat you. Again!” Gabriel exclaimed.

“Yeah, well, I’m not nearly as flashy as Goldie there. So, Mikey, c’mere.” Lucifer grabbed his older brother’s wrist, pulling him closer to the cliff. “Raphie, you stick with Gabriel.”

“Ok, come over here, Raphie.” Gabriel jumped over to the cliff. The mostly mute Archangel followed, but looked skeptical. “Ok, spread your wings.”

Raphael’s largest wings were barely longer than Gabriel’s, but only on account of age. His wings were broad, massive things, more like Dad’s swans and ducks. Gabriel’s matched a falcon’s, but that made him cut corners like he was taking off chunks of mountains, easy and brilliant.

“Ok, watch this.” Gabriel said, flapping his wings in their round, hovering formation, lifting off the ground a little. “You see how mine lift in a circle? Try that.”

Raphael nodded with a glare of determination, starting to circle his wings in short, quick arcs.

“No, no Raphie... Your wings aren’t shaped like mine, see?” Gabriel lined his wing up to his brother’s. “Spread them wide. You’re gonna have to do it slower than me, because your wings are bigger.”

The brown-winged Archangel made a second attempt, this time pulling off the ground with the second wave of strokes and letting out a yelp as he lifted into the air a bit, crashing into his brother in panic.

“Raphie! You can’t get scared!” Gabriel laughed, picking himself and his brother out of the tangle of limbs. “Come on, let’s try again!”

Within a little while, Raphael could hover a good few feet off the ground, and Gabriel was just teaching him to chase around the other, when Michael shouted in frustration.

“I can’t do it!” He growled, hitting his top wing, and immediately wincing. “Why doesn’t it work, Luci?”

“Maybe it’s because your wings are massive?” Lucifer raised an eyebrow, taking Michael’s hands “You have to move more slowly.” He encouraged. “You can’t always be perfect, Mikey. Just practice it. Watch closely, ok?”

With steady, slow wingbeats, Lucifer pushed downward, drawing his wings close to his body to beat out again, rising steadily until he held a position just a foot off the ground, still holding Michael’s hands.

“...Ok...” Michael whispered, watching the movements.

“Now you come up here and join me.” Lucifer grinned.

Michael, with intense concentration, forced his wings down and forward, yanking Lucifer hard.

“Who-AHH!” Lucifer shouted as Michael landed on his back, wings flailing as Lucifer went into a glide, barely catching himself and stumbling on landing.

Michael got to his feet and kicked at the grass. “I can’t do it!” He announced, flopping onto his side, wrapping himself tightly in his wings.

Gabriel and Raphael shared a look. Whenever Michael didn’t ‘get’ something right off, he tended to be over-dramatic about it.

“Aw, c’mon Mikey...” Lucifer trotted around to his older brother’s front, kneeling in front of the wing cocoon. “Get back up. It takes practice.”

“Raphael can do it!” Michael lifted the corner of one wing to yell, then clammed back up.

“Uh-huh, and he’s smaller and lighter than you. Up. C’mon.” Lucifer patted Michael’s shoulder, prompting the older to curl into a ball even deeper. Pausing at the tension, Lucifer sighed. “...You can’t give up! Then who’s gonna be there to make sure I don’t fall?”

That made the ball of white feathers pause, Michael’s ruffled head poking out from between the wings. “...I won’t let you fall.” He resolved, standing once more.

“Good. Let’s try it again.” Purring, the Morningstar took off again, holding Michael’s hands.

This time, the slow, careful downward wingbeats brought Michael’s weight upward, pulling onto his toes, then lifting off the ground. “Wh-ooo...” Michael gasped, looking at his feet as Lucifer beat his wings a little harder, helping Michael go higher than he had been.

“C’mon, pump harder. Faster on the downbeat. It’ll make you go higher.”

Michael forced himself upward, climbing to match Lucifer, as the younger brother slowly lowered his hands, flying away slightly. “H-hey!” He exclaimed, caught in the air, suddenly without support.

“Just come over here. It’s easy. Just fly over here, you can hold on again.” Lucifer smiled, waving him over and holding out a hand.

Michael’s eyes narrowed determinedly, leaning forward tentatively to reach for Lucifer, who backbeat away.

“Hey!” Michael exclaimed, chasing him. Lucifer continued to retreat over the cliff, laughing all the while, as Gabriel and Raphael joined the other two. “Come back here!”

“Mikey, look.” Lucifer grinned, gesturing around them. “You’re flying, big bro!”

Michael glanced down, as if confused to his brother’s referencing, before squawking in shock and retreating to the ground quickly.

Lucifer’s ringing laughter could be heard across Heaven.

{November, 1909}

Gabriel’s wings fluttered behind him as he waited on the car, a silent and deadly predator, shoulders pulled forward and weight spread out over the weak roof.

It was really impressive, the way he held, in one of De’van’s combat suits, on the roof of an unmoving car. Nobody would notice him, held still as stone on the moonless night.

The werewolf second-in-command he was hunting walked out of the dirty bar, checking the street before crossing the street to the carriage.

De’van, hidden in the back seat, lay still as death, waiting for the car to start in order to muffle the man’s screams.

The second the aged engine started with a rattling creak, De’van took his signal. Gabriel slid easily onto the hood of the car, causing the werewolf to jump with a shriek, only to have De’van bury a syringe full of narcotics and silver shavings in his neck.

After that, Gabriel slid around the engine, opening the door without ever touching the ground, and shoving the werewolf over for De’van to handle, before turning the wheel and driving away, stealing the car, the wolf, and leaving the peace undisturbed.

-{[|]}-

Wayne slashed the holy-oiled Archangel blade through the werewolf’s arm, the Blessed Silver of the sword making his skin bubble. The hissing of burning, boiling flesh filled the dungeon as the wolf wailed hoarsely.

“Where is your leader?” Wayne demanded for the upteenth time, shouting over the wolf‘s broken sobbing. The wolf didn’t look like it could do much anymore, and by this point, even Gabriel and Vance - fairly hardened to the screams and blood - started to wince.

Wayne had the glitter in his eyes though, the sharp, deadly edge that promised suffering and unstoppable agony.

“Hey, Wayne...” Gabriel stepped forward. “I think he’s done. If he knew where his alpha was, he’ve told you when we pulled out the angel blade.”

Pausing, the oldest King took a move back. “...You’re right, Gabriel.” He nodded.

Gabriel hummed in satisfaction, glad he wouldn’t have to see any more needless suffering.

Then Wayne lunged forward, the tip of his blade landing under the werewolf’s jawbone, right beside his throat. “How does your leader give you orders, if you don’t know where he is?”

Vance’s eyebrows shot up as Gabriel winced, knowing all he’d successfully done was convince Wayne to switch topics.

This time, the wolf’s face hardened, leaning slightly away from his tormentor.

“So you do know that...” Wayne purred with a sadistic, crazed grin. “...start talking.”

“He’ll kill me.” The wolf murmured, head lolling on his shoulders.

“I’m,” Wayne emphasized, tapping the blade to his chest. “going to kill you. He’s the least of your worries. Now tell me, or I’ll make it hurt worse than silver through the chest.”

Then Gabriel recognized the dulled power that resided in all common werewolves.

“Wait, Wayne,” Gabriel darted forward, snatching the blade from Wayne’s hand. “he’s a bitten, not a born.” He held out a hand placatingly in front of Wayne. The older hunter eyed him suspiciously, watching his hand and the sword held in it. After ensuring the massive man would not throw him out of the way and charge for the wolf, Gabriel turned to face the victim. “...You want revenge as much as we do, trust me.” Gabriel stated with a small nod. “We know a cure. But we need to know how to get to the one who bit you.” He informed in a soft, small tone that was nothing but comforting. “Have you fed yet?”

“N-no... Th-they didn’t let me... J-just l-let me st-starve.” The wolf panted, looking up at Gabriel desperately. “Pl-please h-he-help...”

“We can help you.” Gabriel twisted back to wave to Vance. “Go get the materials together.” He ordered, and the mousey-haired man turned to dart from the room with a firm ‘hm’. “We can help you.” Gabriel reassured. “But first you need to tell us where we can find that leader.”

The werewolf, laughing in slightly crazed happiness, nodded vigorously, and immediately began spilling everything he knew, and probably half the things he theorized.

-{[|]}-

Raven, De’van’s younger half-sister, was sent to retrieve the big bad wolf.

Gabriel, before seeing the hardy, tall girl, had never heard of her. Upon Marcus’ order on De’van to call her, because she’d be the best one to get the pack leader. Gabriel didn’t question the way that De’van had flinched at her name.

Not at first.

She didn’t enter the house. She knocked on the door, stood at the entrance waiting. Vincent answered, examined her up and down before saying ‘come in.’

“I’ll stay outside, thanks.” She responded easily. Vincent gave her a strange stare, before turning back to shout at De’van.

“Your sister’s here!” He yelled, and that brought half of them running to meet the girl.

The instant more people appeared, she took about seven steps away, retreating into the woods a bit, standing with one hand in her pocket, the other on the bag that hung at her hip.

Amos, their base leader who had arrived back from a work trip a few days prior, was an older man who had set Marcus to be his successor in running their Bunker. Old beliefs, no nonsense, gruff voice, and thinning white hair on a moderately sized, thick, powerful man made an intimidating image.

Which was why he scowled at the girl, no older than 20, wearing trousers and carrying a messenger bag.

“Young miss, you’re Raven?”

“Born that way, sir.” She answered in a firm, steady voice, arms folded behind her back at attention.

“...You’re mighty young for a hunter.”

“Ask De’van, your witch. I’m certain he’s willing to vouch for me.” She gestured to the other ebon-haired boy in the area, who glanced down and away.

Gabriel could feel something around her, an air of mild superiority, but also of control and power. And the scent of sulphur clung to her like a rabid animal.

Did she fight demons on the way here? He wondered.

When Amos turned back to look at De’van, he nodded. “...She’s the best one I know of.”

“Better than Isabella was?” Vance blurted, almost immediately glancing anywhere else.

“...I hate to say it... but yes.” De’van agreed quietly.

“Well then, miss...” Amos smiled to her gently, though suspiciously. “Come inside, we’ll get you your orders.”

“You’ll have to excuse me for a moment then, sir.” She stated, turning away and walking out of their view to the main road, high above.

“...Your sister is strange, De’van.” Amos noted as he watched her until she disappeared.

“Just... Give her a moment, sir. She’ll be down soon.” De’van reassured.

They went inside and waited, and less than five minutes later, Raven, sans messenger bag but plus a Hunter’s backpack, trotted in, crossing the wards without issue.

They sat her at the table downstairs, let her test herself multiple times (Apparently Gabriel wasn’t the only one who had smelled the sulphur.) and then Amos sat down in front of her, placing a thick yellow envelope on the table.

“...Your orders, miss. Because I’m not explain’n all of ‘em.” Amos slid it forward, and Raven peeled it from the glass easily, but silently. Her eyes flicked over the writing, which Gabriel knew was half in Enochian, mouth soundlessly shaping the words.

When she had read the back of the envelope, she opened it up, glancing over the inner letter. “...Understood.” She dipped her head, refolded the letter, slid it into her pack, and started for the stairs.

“Good luck to you, miss.” Amos called as she trooped for the door.

“Luck,” She responded simply. “has nothing to do with it.”

The door shut behind her smoothly, and she left nothing in her wake.

-{[|]}-

When she returned, she held a wolf, tied with a silver collar and a leash, making almost everyone wince and laugh. His arms were tied with thick ropes to his collar, choking him whenever he tried to struggle and keeping his arms at an uncomfortable level. The leash was just for humiliation, and the blindfold and muzzle just kind of completed the ‘rabid dog’ look.

“Here.” She held the leash to Gabriel, but he noticed again, suspiciously, she didn’t put her arm past the threshold.

He carefully lifted it from her fingers, tugging the wolf inside. He tripped over the salt-painted iron, but she didn’t cross it.

“...Mission complete.” She purred, turning around the moment Wayne appeared to take away the wolf.

“W-wait, Raven!” Gabriel jogged after her, managing to stop her immediately.

“Yes?” She questioned, staring at him with a measured gaze.

“...you aren’t worried about pay?”

“You’ll know when I come for that.” Then she paused, and rephrased. “Correction; De’van will know when I come for that.”

And with those words, she just... marched away.

That was the last Gabriel saw of her for a while.


{December, 2013}

Gabriel’s morning had been uneventful.

The last week was spent recovering from that hideous spell. Apparently, Raven and Damian didn’t feel like throwing any side effect lists on their spells, which mean Gabriel spent three days alternating between shivering and burning on the couch, unable to use his grace, Loki’s magic, not even his wings. It was honestly a little disturbing to have his grace and magic coiling and rippling under his skin, and yet, he was no stronger than a human.

The direct after effect of his brains being totally scrambled only lasted a few hours, though he felt a little shifty for almost the whole day.

He ate and drank whatever Dean or Sam gave him, too exhausted and hungry to care, though flip-flopping grace and magic brought it back up ten minutes later.

Kevin and Sam were very sympathetic, sitting nearby, talking, reading, bringing him water. Sam at one point even brought him a hair elastic, holding the chin-length strands out of his face when he started vomiting.

Dean just rolled his eyes at the fact that he was the only one with a set of balls in the area. Just to be a jackass, Gabriel threw a few of the symptoms his way when he managed to catch a slip or his grace.

After emptying his stomach for half an hour, Dean just shouted ‘gABRIEL!!’ down the hall, leaving the Archangel to chuckle before he threw up himself.

By day four, Gabriel could eat and drink without vomiting up anything, grace slowly returning to his control, though it felt strange. Like a limb, half numbed. He couldn’t do much with it, at best he could heal a small cut or call the remote to his hand (within a few feet) but the control back was getting better.

His grace burned lower now, he noticed. Normally, grace was like an orange flame, bright and flickery, hot and a little mean.

Now, his burned in a low blue and white jet, like a Bunsen burner at perfect heat. All coiled power and excessive heat, lying in wait for him to flare out, lash with brutal confidence.

Day seven, a week later, he was back to normal. He could almost feel the frost wreathing his wings now, the lone line of silver on the lowest pair that he hadn’t noticed before glimmering in any form of light. It glowed just as bright as the rest of him, Loki’s colour shining through like a tattooed statement on his forehead; I’m not your average Archangel.

He had tried flying again on day six. His wings had been stiff, but functional. He practiced flying through the forest behind the Bunker’s disguise, tight turns and sharp angles, whirling and diving, dodging branches, trunks and other damaging items. The first shot had gone... poorly, for lack of a better word. He crashed into the first tree he tried to turn around.

He kept going until he was back up to par, diving and weaving between the forest’s cover with elegance that a fighter pilot would be jealous of. Sam and Kevin watched below, the latter whooping at his snappish, almost 180 degree turns while Sam simply chuckled, pages spread on the grass as he looked for hunts.

On top of that, he moment he could march a straight line, he went to the training room of the basement. The Men of Letters always had a hunter’s training ground, complete with anything one could possibly train with. The best witch they could find, De’van’s mother, helped get it set up so it ran, at least partway, on spells.

The training room was huge, one massive room under the Bunker. Only two small, adjacent changing rooms reduced it’s size, all concrete and ferocity.

Equipment lined the walls, including a magic-spring based pool along the largest wall. A boxing ring, all sorts of gymnastic equipment in an area with a raised roof, and a half dozen other areas with sandbags, karate equipment, wooden knives...

He trotted down the stairs, flicking the light switch on, revealing the massive room to the four of them.

“Holy fuck.” Dean breathed as Gabriel smirked, half limping to the sandbags.

“As much fun as that would be, Deano...” Gabriel began as he pulled on a pair of aged gloves, preserved by magic. “I think it’s better if we just got to work.”

Whenever he was sparring with any of them, he toned down his strength and speed, working instead on the finesse of the movement. He found, training with all of them, Dean was technically his fighter’s match. They both had a rather similar style of fighting, a straightforward deadliness with little flourish or flexibility of pattern, though they could shift to become unpredictable, difficult to pin down and dangerous.

Sam though... Gabriel decided he liked how Sam’s fighting style looked.

Sam moved similarly to Dean, but with less of the relaxed tension that experience, confidence and repetition brought. Sam fought with flow. He moved with his opponent, rather than against them. He didn’t force them, and didn’t let them force him. He glid between strikes, lashing out and taking time to reset before doing it again, weaving and dipping his opponent into a box.

Gabriel thought it, when he was fighting Dean, was like a dance.

When he fought Sam, he realized its effectiveness and decided to start incorporating it into his own style.

If he wanted to get back into fighting, back to kicking ass with Sam, Dean and Cas, he had to get better. Faster. Stronger.

He started sparring by himself, working with mental constructs of Michael, Raphael, hell, even Lucifer made an appearance every once in a while. The new technique taken from Sam worked better than he had expected, particularly on Michael, with his unrelenting, consistent form and unbelievable power.

Gabriel much preferred the wolf’s style, strike, retreat, strike again. Keep the opponent off balance and confused.

Which was why, one day, he dipped past false-Michael’s left wing, half tripping him with a slide of his heel, causing the imitation to stagger, right before Gabriel spun around, pulled his feet out from under him, and then pinned the false-Michael with his own knife.

For a long few heartbeats, both of them, the ethereal fake and the real, just stared in shock. Like not even Gabriel’s subconscious, controlling the Michael-doll, could believe it.

“Ha-HAH!” Gabriel crowed, throwing up his arms in a show of victory.

“What, what?” Sam’s head snapped up from his book, turning to Gabriel.

“I just- uh...” He glanced down, watching the fake-Michael dissipate. “...You wouldn’t get it. Archangel thing.” Gabriel chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck.

Gabriel stared at Sam briefly, the bright spot of angelic light just below his sternum, wondering why Dean seemed stressed after his ride out with Sam in the days previous. They had gone out to an angelic crime scene in the middle of nowhere, where apparently, some 10-15 angels had been killed by other angels at some odd bar.

Bartholomew.


The name had sat oddly in his his chest, along with distrust, hatred, anger and spite. He felt guarded, on edge, and if the constant desire to train had anything to do with anything, he was sharpening his own blade.

Archangels were indeed absolute, total, and complete. They were the head and heart of all things. Archangels had instinct given unto them by God. And Gabriel’s instinct said ‘it’s time for war’.

He didn’t like it, but he also didn’t resist it. That was why he was sitting at the War room table, reading his Enochian book on demons, while Sam tapped around on his laptop.

“Any word from Cas?” Sam asked, as Dean walked in.

“Uh, nothing yet.” Dean responded, glancing up.

“And we’re not... Worried, that he just took off like that again? I mean, it’s not like he does this kind of stuff alone.” Sam stated with concern.

Dean masked his guilt quite well, self-hatred and horror for what he’d done to his best friend rearing it’s ugly head. “...It’s the way he wanted it, honestly.”

Gabriel scoffed at him, though he pretended it was about his reading.

Sam glanced to Gabriel, then to Dean, who continued. “Look, man, he’s been all over the map since he got his wings clipped. What do you got?” Dean pushed his rolling chair back, sliding over to Sam’s side. “Obituaries? That one of the bikers?”

“Yeah.” Sam replied, and Gabriel slid over too. “His name was ‘Red Dawg’.”

Dean chuckled. “Of course it was.”

“It’s not what you think.” Sam shoved him slightly. “He’s a family guy. Big in the PTA, he played Santa at Christmas parties.” The younger hunter explained.

“So, what? Just one day, he up and joined a biker gang?”

“No, he did that years ago.” Sam stuck a finger in the air at a proclamation. “Get this. This is weird. Look,” Sam loaded a picture. “These are all the victims, right?” Gabriel leaned in closer to look at them. “They were all baptized together.”

A pause.

“Baptized.” Dean repeated, as though he didn’t quite believe it.

“Yeah. They were a... born-again biker gang.”

Gabriel almost snorted his water all over Sam’s laptop, instead turning away with masked giggles, shoulders shaking.

“Well, that is not something you hear every day.” Dean remarked.

“No, it’s not.”

“Wait...” Dean’s eyes narrowed as he peered closer. “Make that bigger.” After a quick point, he read off the writing. “‘Boyle’s Boys’? Boyle, as in  Reverend Buddy Boyle?”

Sam stared for a second, then yanked the laptop a little closer and started searching. “Listen to this. Red Dawg’s widow said he was always religious, but a week before he died, he came home from a prayer meeting and was a changed man filled with divine glory.”

“So Boyle’s at it again.” Dean’s mouth was a hard line, set to an annoyed flat grimace. “Selling folks on being meat suits for angels.”

“Just what - talking to smaller groups now?” Sam questioned.

“I don’t know. Maybe softening up thousands at a time he wasn’t able to control what angels got let in.” Dean deduced. “This way, Bartholomew’s followers can jump in just as soon as Boyle does his thing.” Dean waved at the screen with his explanation.

“So, Red Dawg and his guys were Bartholomew’s people?”

“Yeah, and they got slaughtered.” Dean noted. “Which means that this new group, is even worse.”

“...Give me half a week...” Gabriel mumbled. “I’ll start headin’ out on hunts with you boys.”

“Haven’t I always said angels are dicks?” Dean finished.

Gabriel slapped his book shut with a helplessly, sarcastically frustrated grunt. “I am right here!”

-{[|]}-

After he beat his fake-Michael for the fourth time. He almost felt... guilty about it.

Ghost-Michael hadn’t spoken with him in nearly two months. Not to belittle him for fighting a mental replication of him, not to remind him of some random detail, not even to remind him of something stupid with Sam, or the other angels. Nothing.

So, with a small white rose in his hand, he walked through the War room toward the exit. “Dean, there may be nothing here.” He heard Kevin say. “Crowley said that the spell that cast down the angels was irreversible.”

“Yeah, well, screw Crowley.” Dean responded. “Why would you think that anything he says is true?”

“This part... is nearly indecipherable.” Kevin murmured, trying to translate the tablet through Gabriel’s proto-Elamite notes. “Almost like, when Metatron wrote it down, he wanted to keep the words hidden. Even from prophets.”

Gabriel, with one foot on the stairs, stopped, stepped down, and backtracked over to the others.

Sam walked in, making Dean look up. “Hey, check this out.” He called. “Another angel attack.”

While the two of them went over the attack, Gabriel rested his arms on the table beside Kevin, staring at the translations. “Odd.” Gabriel pointed to the tablet section, where it was jumbled. “You’re right. That’s all run-over itself.”

“Uh...huh...” Kevin mumbled, staring at the tablet.

“Kevin.” Dean called, apparently done with his conversation to Sam. The prophet glanced up. “...Clock’s ticking.”

-{[|]}-

Stull Cemetery.

Quiet, cold, snow-covered Stull Cemetery.

The weeds and overgrowth were brown with cold and death, the empty trees, bare of leaves, like skeletons above old, weathered gravestones and windblasted wooden crosses.

The sky was grey and cloudy, overcast hanging a low ceiling, mimicking his emotions to a point. Everything inside him felt empty, drained, devoid of life, like returning to the place where his brothers were lost was actively sucking away his will.

But Gabriel needed to stop thinking about them.

He needed to stop feeling guilty.

By sending Sam and Dean that... video, about how to get rid of Lucifer, he had doomed his brother.

“H-hey... Hey Michael. Hey Luci.”

He had never doubted Sam or Dean’s tenacity, knowing that they’d do whatever it took to stop the Apocalypse, and if that meant throwing Gabriel’s big brothers into a caged pit, along with whoever had to drag them down there, they were willing.

It didn’t mean he didn’t feel guilty.

“I uh... Cam here to... To do something. Something that... Angels don’t really do.”

Voice-Michael had mentioned that the once. He noted that Gabriel felt guilty for lying to Sam, but that wasn’t why he felt it so strongly.

Gabriel had carried the weight of his abandonment, leaving a set of fledglings - who looked up to him - behind, for the sake of himself. He was selfish, prideful, arrogant, greedy, spiteful... Everything an angel shouldn’t be.

“Y’see, I just... I don’t... I’ve partnered up with the Winchesters.” He announced to the empty yard. “And I just... I learned that human loss, is not that different than angel loss. And we all feel it.” Gabriel chuckled. “And I’ve uh... learned a lot, in the last little while. One of the things I learned is that... it never stops hurting.”

The rose he had cleverly hidden with his wings slipped from the area of non-corporeality, back into his hand.

“I suppose that’s why people attend funerals.” Gabriel said as he walked slowly through the snow and brown-yellow, frost burnt grass. “Closure.”

Gabriel moved elegantly and silently, keeping his eyes on the ground and skirting graves where he could. He had enough respect.

The whole place seemed out of time, separated, distant. As though, once he crossed the gateway, the rest of the world fell away, and allowed him and only him in the solitude and peace of the silent graveyard.

He walked through the snow, to the centre of deep-rolling power under the grass. He could feel it, the hidden gateway that held his older siblings. He knelt, looking at the space where he knew Sam had pulled his brother in, staring at the rose held lightly between his fingers.

“I just... I want to stop feeling guilty about it. I have to go fight. On the side of people. And I can’t keep thinking about what I did to you, or the angels I abandoned. I have to move forward. So I can’t keep slowing down to look back.”

He rubbed a thumb over the elegant white petal, the softness of the flower like silk against his skin. “I’m going to go fight now. I’m going to face off the other angels. I’m going to fight Metatron, Malachi, Bartholomew, all of them. I’m going to stop them all. The fighting has to start somewhere, but the war has to end. And it’s not going to without some blood spilled.” He resolved. “I’ll try my damnedest not to kill anyone. Not even Malachi, or Bartholomew. I make no promises about Metatron, or that bitch angel in Sammy,” He laughed sadly, the sound like an echo of something long-forgotten. “but... I’ll try, ok? But to do that, I have to keep moving forward.”

Gabriel shuffled forward on his knees, reaching out his hand to set the white flower over the centre, where Sam had thrown the rings, the entrance where his brothers were trapped.

“...And... And that’s why I came out here. For closure. To keep moving forward. So... Until you two come back on up because you’ve changed... I guess this is-“

GABRIEL!


It had been a long time since Gabriel had been prayed to. But that wasn’t quite a prayer.

That was a desperate scream for help.

Gabriel snapped his wings open and shot for the location of the cry, locking onto it’s sender, shooting for the spot because he recognized the caller, he knew the shout, and if that person was screaming for help from Gabriel, he was honestly scared.

In the middle of his flight, a wave of energy rushed through him, making his wings tense up, his heart shatter, and his mind set up an endless mantra of no, no no no... but the world contradicted him as he knew every angel on Earth froze, feeling the death of... of...

Gabriel appeared in the Bunker just as Sam, or more accurately, that thing, turned from a pinned-to-the-wall-by-invisible-forces Dean with no emotion, a strange expression on Sam, kneel beside Kevin’s smoking corpse, and lay a yellow card with his name on it, on Kevin’s chest.

And suddenly, Gabriel recognized him.

Gadreel.

Gadreel the tricked.

Imprisoned wrongly for Lucifer’s deceit. Gabriel had thought him innocent.

Thought him innocent every day until then.

With a roar that shook the Bunker’s walls, Gabriel’s sword was in his palm, wings spreading to their full size, half hooded and bristled behind him, Gabriel shot for Gadreel, who snapped back with a small grunt, fear making an appearance on his face.

Uncaring about the nick the tip of his sword put in the wall, Gabriel continued forward, Gadreel unable to defend with the backpack in his hand. When Gadreel once again dodged a cut, Gabriel whirled around with a scream of rage, slamming the upper corner of his largest wing into the other angel, heedless of the human between. He’d heal Sam. He’d heal Sam, Sam will understand, he’ll forgive me for this sin against his body.

Gadreel flew back almost ten feet, slamming into the floor and bouncing slightly against the hardwood. Eyes wide, he scrambled to his feet as Gabriel stalked forward, teeth bared and eyes glowing with barely-restrained power.

Dean had been released from his hold as Gabriel vaulted the War-room table, his blade leaving a slash in the ground where Gadreel had barely managed to avoid his wrath. The older hunter simply sat there, staring brokenly at Kevin’s body with tears in his eyes, whispering his name a few times, hoping for a reply.

None came.

Gabriel cut a thin, even line of flesh in Gadreel’s arm. The angel howled in pain from being sliced by an Archangel’s blade, pressing to the wound as he sprinted for the door. Gabriel, with wings intact and Archangelic anger fuelling him, tackled him, pinning him to the ground with righteous fury and unholy hatred.

Gabriel raised his sword above his head, already knowing the point to strike at to kill the angel, not the person, he could save Sam, I can save Sam, I can-

Gabriel’s sword met hardwood.

The dull thunk of a metal point digging itself into wood sounded like the tolling of a death bell to both Dean and Gabriel.

Gabriel didn’t move for a precious few seconds, staring uncomprehendingly at the empty air underneath him. At the lack of struggling weight, at the lack of burned wings, at the lack of... Sam.

Eyes wide and breathing hard and heavy, Gabriel just... sat, in a sort of half-kneeling position, slumped overtop of his sword, as his hands loosened their grip, sliding down the hilt of his blade and leaving it, arms slumping to the floor as the blade stayed straight upright. A flag of his failure.

They remained silent for a very, very long time.

-{[|]}-


Time afterward was spent carefully constructing a pyre, a Hunter’s pyre.

Gabriel didn’t know why Dean let him help, but he did. Dean may have been the one to lay Kevin’s cloth-wrapped body on the mass of sticks, but Gabriel was the one who lit the fire. He flicked a golden lighter, engraved with a ‘K’, and then tossed it onto the wood. Dean didn’t complain.

They stood in silence, watching Kevin go up in smoke.

His notes still lay on the table as they walked back inside, a finished sandwich and an inch of milk beside the pens and pencils.

Gabriel sat on the stairs that descended to the War room, back to Dean, as he stared at the papers with too much emotion to express.

The crack of a phone hitting the brick wall came first. Then the thumping and fluttering of papers scattered to the ground. Then the crash of a lamp. Then the chair. Then just breathing. Too hard, too deep breathing.

Dean drank too much over the next little while, and all the hard stuff too. Whiskey. Vodka. He drank as he packed. Weapons after weapons.

They remained in silence for a long, long time, not meeting each other’s eyes, not speaking. Gabriel barely breathed.

“...Where were you?” Dean finally asked, in a voice so quiet and ruined Gabriel scarcely recognized it.

“...Getting closure.” Gabriel whispered back.

“For what!?” Dean whirled on him, voice crackling with underuse and overdrinking. “B-because, if you had been here, you could’ve protected them! You could’ve saved. Kevin.” He half shouted.

Gabriel didn’t reply, just watched him rant with sad, empty eyes.

“I-I didn’t like you from the start, and now, they’re all gone and I couldn’t protect them and you couldn’t stop him!” Dean picked up the bottle of Jack Daniel’s on the table, staring at it briefly as he shook with emotion, tears falling onto the label. “Now, Sam’s in the wind, Kevin’s...” Dean didn’t say it, couldn’t say it. “And you’re STILL HERE!”

Dean threw the bottle across the room, into the wall, the remaining third of amber liquid splattering onto the bricks. Gabriel couldn’t bring himself to care about the damage to his home.

They went back to not making eye contact and breathing.

“...If it is me you wish to blame, go ahead.” Gabriel finally said, voice unwavering from it’s hollow, broken whisper. “You’re right.” He shrugged.  “I should’ve been here.”

“No.” Dean growled out, slumping into the seat across from Gabriel with his head in his hands. “No, no. I’m wrong. Kevin’s on me.” He whimpered, a sound Gabriel never expected to hear from the elder Winchester. “No. You didn’t do anything. You came when... when I called for ya’. I f-forg-...” He sucked in a shuddering breath. “I just r-reacted. Called t-to the one I k-knew who...”

Dean wasn’t good at emotion. Gabriel knew that much. They were very similar like that.

“To the one who’d actually come.” Gabriel finished quietly.

“...I was wrong about you.” Dean sniffed. Now Gabriel wondered if it was alcohol making him that open. “I-I... I said yo-you would... F-fuck th-this up.” Dean chuckled mirthlessly, and now Gabriel was certain that it was alcohol making him so weepy. “...An’, you were right. Y’said y’ would n-never harm u-us again... an-an’... An’ ya’ haven’t.”

“...I’m going to go hunt the other angels.” Gabriel announced. That shut Dean up.

“...Do it.” Dean ordered, voice suddenly stern and commanding, solid and steady.

Gabriel nodded.

Just like that, he left to pack.

They didn’t speak for the rest of the time he was there.

-{[|]}-

The door of the Bunker slid open without a noise. The gravel of the road crunched beneath his sneaker, the Archangel sword on his hip tapping at his thigh. The lone warrior, heading to battle. Gabriel thought, tipping his head back to the sky. He felt cold, and not just because of the rain sprinkling on his head.

Shutting the Bunker up, locking it, Gabriel turned down the road.

Not for the first time, Gabriel felt like he was leaving something behind. Like he was turning a page, and rewriting his own novel. He was supposed to protect Sam, protect Kevin, protect Cas, even protect Dean.

Now, he was here. In the middle of a road, with nothing to his name but a few sets of wings and a blade, hair gradually soaking with the cold water from the dull grey sky above.

Gabriel turned down the road slowly, walking for a few steps before spreading his wings out fully and taking flight.

He didn’t look back.

Just like last time he left the Bunker...

Gabriel didn’t look back.

Chapter Text

{Spring, Before}

It was another screaming match.

This time, Gabriel didn't go investigating, didn't go waiting, didn't go looking.

Instead, he went to the training grounds.

Other angels were there, blades clashing with showers of silver sparks, practicing with either constructs of the real deal.

Reds, golds, blues and browns danced between movements as the angels swirled in and out of combat. A few angels stood at the sides, watching the practice with interest and calculating coldness. Another specific one, wings of red and pink, flecks of gold lining them, stood with a group of young angels with undersized, puffy wings. One particular one, white and gold winged, peeked with curiosity, trepidation and amazement at the sparring. Gabriel smiled at all of them, even if he couldn't go down and greet them.

Gabriel knew that his older brothers' fighting had made all the Archangels nearly unapproachable. He hated it.

So, not wanting to disturb the angels sparring underneath him, Gabriel turned away from them and flew fast for the other side of Heaven, his decision made. Within hours, he was looking to a place he once had shared with all his brothers.

The Silver Cliffs, and their twisted Destiny.

Gabriel landed on the undisturbed grass, so far from any type of angelic life, he couldn't even hear Michael and Lucifer.

The peace, and sudden silence, astounded him. He was unused to it, having been taken care of by his older brothers for years, and then listening to them scream at each other in the new form of twenty-four hours, seven days in a week.

But sitting on that cliff again, for the first time in a long time, Gabriel started to feel his grace cool. Gabriel had feared coming out onto the Cliffs for the reason that that time, he knew he'd be alone. He had never really been alone before, surrounded in silence and empty air.

It was more peaceful than he could've ever imagined.

Gabriel liked the silence. He thought it was something to hate, to fear, because it meant he didn't have a friend to his name, or a person to help and talk to him.

But it was perfect.

Gabriel glid down the rock face, movements slow and cautious, fingers trailing across the silvery rocks that gave the cliff its name. When he landed on the ground in the sheltered shadow of the huge, cut apart hill, Gabriel wandered to the small cave he knew was in it's corner.

He never told anyone about it, not even Lucifer. Back then, he did it because it made pranks easier. It was about to get a new purpose.

Crawling in it was harder than he remembered as a fledgling, but it was a similar concept. Feet first, hands on the top edge, slip inside, pull wings in. Easy.

Plus, it was wide enough inside to fit all four Archangels plus Castiel, a young angel with black wings, and Balthazar, another young angel with purple-ish wings. The entrance was just tiny.

Slipping inside, Gabriel sighed gently, rearranging his feathers with soft humming noises. He had brought a small bag of a material that would one day be called 'cotton' on Earth, but for now it was called fluff. It would form one part of a nice makeshift bed, one where Gabriel could come and hide in whenever he wanted.

Exhaustion washed over him, forcing him to pull his wings into his chest with a soft sigh, eyes fluttering shut as he lay on the cotton bedding. He was tired. Tired of hearing them fight, tired of the constant rip of grace across the sky, tired of his younger siblings... fearing him.

Suddenly, being alone didn't seem so bad.

They couldn't fear him while he was far away, and if they did, he couldn't feel their frightened gazes. Michael and Lucifer couldn't snap at him.

Gabriel curled in on himself, grace compacting itself to a tiny bead in his chest, ignored and unimportant, it's flare dulled to a soft glow. He didn't want that bead in his chest. He didn't want the responsibility or power that came with it.

And so, shoving away his grace, Gabriel wrapped himself fully in his wings, shut his eyes, and passed into blackness. His sleep was dreamless.

{January, 1910}

The world was bright and clean again, the new year having brought more experience, more brilliance, and more promise of new hope.

Though, Gabriel was starting to feel... skittish.

His grace was reacting oddly to his distance from Heaven, a problem he never expected to experience.

Namely, because Gabriel had been expecting himself dead by the early 1400s.

Admittedly, he'd been begging for it for years. Everyone kind of took 'Loki's' exuberance with his abilities, his overexposure, everything, as some form of calling card to himself.

Somewhere, subconsciously, Gabriel wanted someone to catch him. To find a way to kill him. Because he was sick of the noise.

When he first left Heaven, Gabriel had left himself open to everything but location. He listened to the angels when he wanted to, ignored it the rest of the time. Somedays, he would simply rest, faking sleep and just hearing, letting the Enochian flow over him and remind him of home.

But then it started to get oppressive. It started to shove down on his shoulders, dragging him under his grace and into a world of roaring, competing, angered voices.

Loki, through their strained, minor connection, must've sensed his distress, because for a moment the energy within him flared up, sucked away the noise and replaced it with simple silence and cold.

So Gabriel started working to die.

Tyr, Forseti and Kali noticed first, their little gang of misfits and outsiders. Closest friends that the pagans ever formed.

They noticed when Loki's tricks started being more obvious and less hidden, more direct irony and less quiet trickery. When Loki started drinking in a corner at parties, only smiling when someone waved at him, raising his drink with a half smirk that seemed... off.

When Loki started aiming for actual fights rather than half-done sparring matches.

When he disappeared for a week and a half, and came back with his chest half ripped to pieces and holding his ribs together, but laughing. He had slain a Scorpicore, which was basically a bigger, meaner Manticore.

Gabriel had run off, wanting a challenge, something, anything that could kill him. He picked a Scorpicore and fought. And when it pounced on him and ripped into his chest, he realized that Loki, the real Loki, must've kept an eye on his investments because Fenris shot from nowhere, snarling brutally, distracting the Scorpicore just long enough for Gabriel to slam the oil-covered pike through it's chest.

And then he started giggling.

The huge black wolf, green eyes glittering, walked closer, whining at him concernedly.

He laughed. Because half his chest was ripped to pieces and he still wasn't dead.

C'mon Dad... He thought dizzily to the sky, all of his energy bleeding away. His vessel was loosing blood fast, his grace was cut to pieces, and Loki's energy couldn't have a hope to repair it all as it was. Do me a favour... Let it all just... go silent for a while.

Fenris had nosed him and barked, licked and yelped until he convinced his unresponsive limbs to move upward, to stand slowly and lean on the wolf.

When he came back to their little slice of half-reality, where they could just... live, like people for a while, Kali spotted him first.

"Brahma dvaara!" Kali exclaimed, and her voice, someone else finally seeing how actually damaged he was, broke him.

Loki collapsed under the weight of his injuries, while Gabriel collapsed under the weight of his sins. One way or the other, they both hit the floor.

"Taayar, yahaan apane gadhe milata hai!" Kali had shouted to the rest of the room, speaking in Hindi, because that was her native tongue. Gabriel, or maybe Loki, he forgot by this point the distinction between them. They both left their homes, betrayed their people. They both hated themselves. Who gave a fuck who was what?

Tyr skidded on the floor, long blond hair forming a golden sheet around his shoulders as Kali leaned Loki, Gabriel, on her side, calling his name, or the name he was faking being in multiple languages, Forseti appearing seconds later.

He didn't remember much after that, until he woke up again.

When he woke up, he was glad for the fact that he was the only one in the room. Because he woke up and started crying.

God couldn't even be bothered to let him die.

Dad really didn't care.

That hurt worst.

He noticed Fenris sticking particularly close after that, watching him with sharp, suspicious eyes.

So Gabriel didn't do anything stupid, he let himself relax. Go back to being normal Trickster, if a little obvious.

But now he had been too far from Heaven for too long.

He had to go back, soon. Even for a few days.

So he took a few names out of Isabelle's book, set them on a piece of paper, and started packing up. Marcus stumbled in on him just as he placed his blade in the bag.

"So, were you going to tell us about the hunt you're apparently packing for?" The older Man of Letters announced, making Gabriel fumble with the blade slightly, body locking up.

"Going to burn some demons." Gabriel resumed packing after his pause. "You want to come?"

"That's not the reason you're leaving Gabriel." Marcus stepped further inside, and this time, Gabriel's anxiety rose. Fortunately, he had come up with a plan for just such a situation.

Turning around with his head down, Gabriel stared at the floor for a long time. "I uh..." He began. "...It's my sister." He said. "She's sick. I'm gonna go visit her, go take care of some things at the same time."

Marcus seemed taken aback. Gabriel had definitely made up a whole history of Gabriel Moran, taking the place of the eldest Moran son. Though, he had been very careful to rarely discuss his 'family' around the others, so that when he mentioned something wrong, it would be real and sudden-feeling.

Which was why nobody stopped him, nobody interrupted him, only to send their condolences to Julie Moran, and Gabriel reassured that he would be back soon, and give their 'get well's to Julie.

Which was why the minute he had the car out of sight from the Bunker, he wrapped the whole thing in his wings and vanished from view.

Gabriel had sent the car to a hiding spot at the same time that he slingshotted for the skyline, wings streaking out behind him as he wreathed Loki's energy around himself, changing his wings to a lighter colour, more soft gold and white, less pure metallic. He pulled his lower two pairs into a disguised position as well, shoving a ton of his energy under the rug in an attempt to hide his Archangelic position.

The few times he had snuck into Heaven before, to steal something or hide something, he had used the angel Duma. Duma, a scribe, wasn't well known or strong, so making himself look and act like the softly golden and white-winged angel was easy, saying he was simply taking a walk to clear the numbers from his mind.

Hannah, an angel with silvery wings, stopped him though, as he flew over one of the angel's garrisons.

"Duma! I didn't expect you out at this time of day." She exclaimed, jumping up to fly beside him.

Gabriel froze up, unable to interact with the angel. It had been a long time since he had met another of his species, especially in Heaven. Gabriel had been aiming for the Silver Cliffs, hoping to spend his day hiding and sleeping in Heaven's light. He hoped that would be enough to replenish himself.

"U-uh... y-yeah!" He stammered, looking desperately for an escape. "I um..." he glanced to the side. "Needed to clear my head." With a firm nod, Gabriel dipped his wings down and swooped underneath Hannah, preforming a small flip maneuver that shot him forward, away from angelic civilization.

What he wasn't aware of, was Hannah watching his trick with astonishment. That type of flying, the ease and skill that Duma displayed, hadn't been seen for a long time.

While she observed him glide off, she didn't follow him, a fact that Gabriel was eternally grateful for.

He spent the next half hour avoiding angelkind as he traveled across Heaven, darting and dodging with speed that apparently, most angels had lost. They didn't enjoy flying anymore.

The only one he had seen that could truly fly, and make it look good, was Castiel. The young angel's satin black wings shone in the sunlight as he dipped and dove, playing with another angel. The smaller angel and his fluffy white and reddish marked wings chased Castiel all over, though the black-winged angel was clearly the more skillful flier. Even if the younger had been faster than Castiel, he would've been easily outmanoeuvred.

Gabriel swooped into the forest, hiding as yet more angels passed by, crouching down and letting Loki's simmering cloak pull away briefly, his darker feathers blending into the autumn, sunlit section of the forest.

The silvery forest's season was strange.

Not that he cared.

Moving fast through the forest, he glid between trees, wings only half-spread to compete with the cris-crossing branches of the tangled woods, shooting swiftly and easily around the trees.

Ahead, voices forced him to warp his course, lunging to the side to avoid being seen. Below, two very young fledglings wandered, one with pearlescent, powder blue wings and the other with soft orange, rust-tipped wings.

"We're lost, Eth!" The small blue one announced.

"Och, it's alright. I'm sure that we can call someone, if they can... hear us..." Eth replied, searching the tree line, acting tough even though her wings were trembling.

Och looked closely as well, his head set on a constant swivel, trying to find any help in the distance.

Gabriel knew that angels rarely visited the forest anymore. Michael had forbidden it. It's proximity to the Silver Cliffs was too close for comfort, especially with most of their siblings as absolutely terrible casual fliers.

He turned away slightly, shuffling his wings close to his back and starting for the Cliffs again, when Och whimpered, hearing the rustling of branches above her head.

Immediately, Gabriel bit back a noise of sympathy. He couldn't leave, not even at risk of his own capture, a pair of lost fledglings alone. It actively hurt his heart to even think of it.

So, he carefully put one hand on the branch under his feet and slid down, half-flaring his wings to land easily. "Hey kids." He called, walking over to the skittish fledglings.

"Wh-who are you?" Eth questioned, stepping in front of Och.

"That's not really important." Gabriel reasoned, holding out his hands. "What are you two doing way out here?"

They both paused, looking stricken, before shuffling their feet and staring at the ground. "...We wanted to see what the Archangel's Forest looked like." Och admitted quietly, grinding the toe of her golden sandal into the dirt.

"The Archangel's Forest..?" Gabriel mumbled, considering that name. He supposed it was accurate. He and his brothers had spent a lot of time in the woods. "Well... Did you like it?" He asked, kneeling down in front of them. He had never liked dealing with the politics and commands of older angels, but fledglings he could handle. Especially nervous ones.

Eth and Och, who had obviously expected to be punished, glanced between each other before looking back to Gabriel. "I-it's... Really pretty." Eth smiled, gazing around them at the silver and pearl bark of the trees, and their glassine leaves. "...I see now why they liked it here."

"It is really pretty, isn't it?" Gabriel nodded, keeping a pleasant face as Eth edged a little closer to him. Och made a sound of agreement, stepping toward him as well. "Yeah, it's really beautiful here." He sighed, running a hand along one of the trees with a sense of forlorn love. "But the forest is really big, isn't it?"

"Yeah!" Och piped up. "I thought I could make it through, but... I guess I wasn't big enough yet." He glanced down again.

"It's too big!" Eth's eyes widened in fear. "I... I thought that an Archangel was gonna find me! They can be mean..."

If Gabriel was closer to Michael in any way, shape or form, he would've flown a beeline to him and backhanded him for that alone. As it stood, he simply made a hum of agreement. "Yeah, they can be some days." He gave a sad smile. "But hey, nothing's gonna hurt you in this old place."

"What if there is something, though?" Och questioned, glancing around frantically. Which was when, conveniently, the wind made a branch snap.

Both the young angels jumped, whirling around while Gabriel tried to shush their whimpers and cries.

"Hey, it's alright." Gabriel comforted, and he held out a hand to the young angels. This time, both of them shot for him rather than away, Och immediately hiding his head in Gabriel's chest while Eth hugged tightly under his arm. "There you go..." He murmured, petting their wings gently, trying to get them to stop shaking.

It took a few minutes to get the terrified fledglings to relax, cradled against him, but by that point they were both looking exhausted, yawning, wings fluffing up and trying to cuddle against him more.

"Hey, you two... You can nap on the way back, ok, but I need you to tell me who your guardians are." He shook them both a little, both only Och opened his eyes.

"...D'n't kn'w you..." He mumbled. "...G'nna be mad..."

"...Riel. My name is Riel." He said. "And yeah, they are, but they're gonna be glad you're safe first. Who's your guardian, kiddo?"

"...S'raphiel..." He yawned, leaning further onto Gabriel. The Archangel sighed, but didn't dare put him down.

It took some finangling, but he managed to get Och tied to his back using his robe, carrying Eth against his stomach as he spread out all six of his wings, four of them still cloaked, taking flight above the forest and heading back to the nearest garrison to begin his search.

He could hear a pair of panicked shouts at the next garrison over, so rather than distract himself, he changed course and headed for the second one instead.

In front of the doors, calling loudly with wings fluttering in worry, two angels flitted about, asking others, searching, trying to find their fledglings.

His wingbeats declared his presence first. "Is one of you Seraphiel?" He announced, gliding down and landing without jarring either of the small angels in his current care. "Because I think I found your fledgling." Reaching behind his shoulder to untie Och from his sling, Gabriel held both of them to his chest.

The other angel, a male with green wings, shot forward to see as well. "You found them!" He exclaimed joyfully, reaching hands out for Eth. "Thank you." He whispered fervently, hugging her to his chest and stirring her awake. "Thank you!"

"No biggie." Gabriel shrugged, handing Och off to the female angel with soft purple wings. "They found me, really."

Seraphiel wrapped Och in her wings, holding him tight. "Thank you. You are too modest, even for one of us." She stepped forward to tap their wings together, an angelic 'Thank-you' hug, before looking to Och. "Where in Heaven did you find them?"

"I'll tell you, but don't go too hard on 'em. They're just fledglings." At their nods, he continued. "They went to go see the si- Archangel's Forest. Heard it was pretty, and they wanted to see for themselves. They got lost pretty quick."

"Oh, these naughty little-"

"Hey, no name calling now, sister." Gabriel gestured for her to ease off. "They're alright. Just went to go satisfy some curiosity. In my opinion, you've got a pair of capable little fledglings on your hands." He nodded to them.

The second angel, Zikiel, gave him an odd look. "What do you mean?"

"Well, they managed to evade you, sneak through a garrison, get to the forest, and then go deep enough in it to get lost." Gabriel listed. "Quite the escape artists, I'd say. They'll be great when they get older."

"...Yes." Seraphiel nodded considerately. "...You are right. For now, we'll just... make sure they know not to run off. Thank you, brother."

Gabriel let out a hum of response, turning to leave, when Zikiel spoke again. "I don't recognize you, brother, and my apologies. Remind me of your true name?"

He paused. "...Riel." He finally answered, then spread his wings and took to the air again.

Och glanced up just in time to watch him go, lifting a hand to wave. "...Bye, Riel."

Gabriel, briefly, wished that he was more selfish.

When he made it to the cave, or as he jokingly called it, Silence Cavern, Gabriel felt peace and exhaustion sweep him.

Everything was exactly how it was the day he left it. The cotton bed was rolled up, the notes for where he was going to go once on Earth, his carvings on the wall, everything. Not a speck of dust, out of place.

Just now, Gabriel himself was.

He wasn't... that, anymore. That Gabriel wanted out. This Gabriel... he wanted to come back.

He couldn't though.

So, unrolling the cotton pad, Gabriel lay down and shut his eyes, determining that he didn't deserve anything that anyone gave him.

Blissfully, he didn't continue on that train of thought for long.

He fell asleep before that.

{December, 2013}

Tabris made the perfect choice.

Golden wings, marked with deep brown rather similarly to his own. Silver feather-shafts rather than full on gold, but close enough. He could shift the colour pretty easily. The burning on her feathers would also be easy to fake.

She had died in the fall, but had crashed a good distance from anyone else. She had burned up so fast that she barely had time to scream, her excruciating pain condensed into the span of seconds rather than minutes. It had probably been easier than anyone else's death.

Gabriel knew, because he had been the one to pull her body out of a sand crater in the Sahara.

The shifting dust had long-since covered up the burn-marks where her wings should've been, though some kicking uncovered glass pieces in the shape of feathers.

He kept one for the sake of remembrance.

Gabriel felt blank. A puzzle, missing all it's pieces, scattered to the four winds and back.

Not back together, just... back. Arranged in a loose pile for someone to reassemble.

And his putting it back together was going too perfectly.

He tracked down Malachi's people first. The factions were starting to gather up non-combatant angels, put them into fighting with the others. Gabriel needed to help end this war. What better way to do that, than from the inside?

His 'recruiter' was an angel named Arak, who he played at resisting for the first few minutes, then resigned to being captured.

Arak pulled him into Malachi's base of operations, a concrete maze that Gabriel navigated easily, because the idiots had let him walk by himself.

Twelve steps straight, right hand turn, third door by the echos... A whole bunch of other things I could navigate in my sleep... Wow...

There were far fewer angels than there should've been, the ones remaining moving around nervously and swiftly, as if they were afraid of him already.

You should be. Gabriel thought, biting the corner of his lip to hold in the snarl.

When the cloth sack was yanked off his head, Gabriel instantly recognized Malachi's fire-red wings, though this time they were charred and burned, missing feathers and skin, wounds cauterized by unbelievable power.

"Tabris... Sister..." Malachi nodded to his guard, who immediately stepped back with a curt bow. "I hope they did not harm you."

"You'll find they didn't." Gabriel responded, narrowing his eyes at the other angel. He knew that Malachi was calling him 'sister' because Tabris and her golden wings definitely had a sweeter, higher-pitched song than any of her brothers.

"Good." He purred. "I am glad." He stepped forward, carefully taking Gabriel's ropes in his hand, starting to untie them. The holy-oil soaked coarse ties didn't hurt him as much as they should've, Loki's energy matching his grace inch for inch. "Listen, sister." Malachi began, and Gabriel had expected it. "We are at war. Bartholomew is trying to take over. The fight has become madness, and every angel is required at service."

"You are asking me to fight for you." Gabriel responded, keeping his tone even and cadence light. How an angel talked.

"Yes." Malachi nodded with a smile, his seedy-looking vessel's hair bobbing with his motions. "It's time to go to war, sister. War for Heaven."

"War for Heaven." Gabriel repeated, as though he didn't know. Oh, I know, Malachi. I know too well. This war ruined my quiet, pleasant little life. He thought with a low hiss that never made it out of his throat.

"Yes!" He quietly cheered, a little bit of crazy rearing it's ugly head. "The new rulers are being decided. Myself, or that sinner Bartholomew. We will fight this war on Earth, and the winner shall return to Heaven to defeat Metatron."

Oh, one of us is going to Heaven to rip Metatron in half, but it sure as shit ain't you. Gabriel's intrusive thoughts were never stated, but he stared in faked skeptic confusion at Malachi. "...You wish of me to join you." He surmised. Because that's how angels were.

"Precisely. We will return to Heaven, sister. I promise you." Malachi reassured, finishing freeing Gabriel from the useless binds.

That was one other thing that Gabriel had noticed with his new combination with Loki's energy; Holy oil, wards and blood sigils didn't do as much as they should've anymore. Holy oil hurt like a bitch to walk over, but he could. Wards made him feel odd inside, and if he walked through one it was painful, but other than that, not much. Blood sigils, like a banishing sigil, he hadn't tested, but he imagined it wouldn't do much more than cripple him for a while.

"...If it means returning to Heaven..." Gabriel began, looking at the ground to hide his smirk. "Then I will fight."

He felt like Malachi smirked wider than he should've.

'Tabris' was introduced to a commander, a younger angel named Ambriel.

Ambriel was a hardened warrior with tough blue and red wings, burned though they were. He ran his set of five angels - 'Tabris', Aratron, Hariel, Isda and Phuel - with an iron fist, ruling the fact that Malachi had chosen him to lead them over their heads like a storm cloud.

Aratron, Hariel, Isda and Phuel seemed to hold a weird brand of respect to him for it, but Gabriel didn't buy half a second of what he was selling.

Which was why he made Ambriel his first target.

Gabriel started collecting names. He didn't want to have to slaughter every angel in the bases, because he still had Bartholomew to deal with and the longer that he was fighting with Malachi, the easier it made his job. On top of that, all he had to do was discredit the leaders to get the angels around them to disband, or overthrow. Hopefully, few deaths would be required for it.

Ambriel, Dokiel, Theo, Geniel, Baris, Matriel. It really hadn't taken long to assemble a list of some of the top angels for Malachi, being the fact that he had to know to obey them.

The angels that Bartholomew had at the head of things were also relatively easy to find. Ambriel had been delighted to know that 'Tabris', his best fighter and strategist, was so interested in the affairs of their opponents. Adnachiel, Diniel, Trismegistus, Ofaniel, Sophia, and Alphun.

Gabriel had rolled his eyes and scoffed internally, simply thanking on the outside.

Their first 'mission' involved driving, in ridiculously over-stereotypical biker gang outfits, to a church choir in Montana.

Gabriel wore the leather jacket they gave him, but rather than the baggy cargo pants, he put on a few gold chains and a pair of ripped, skintight black jeans. Goth biker boy. He thought with a smirk, as Ambriel checked out his fake 'true form' with interest. Dad, eat your heart out.

Casually sticking a lollipop between his teeth with a loose grin and a flirty wink, Gabriel hopped on the bike they had given him and followed Ambriel carefully, staying back, but within a few feet, in perfect formation.

He had already decided this round. He'd just work with them. Do exactly as commanded, figure out what their fighting styles were so he could take them out better.

When they rolled into the choir, Gabriel did a power-sweep of the area. Eight angels, all inside. No humans. He hummed faintly with satisfaction, knowing that there would be no collateral damage today. He didn't have the stomach to hurt one of the creations he worked so hard to protect.

Ambriel led them up, his order to follow showing that he obviously intended to walk right through the front door with a kick and an open challenge.

"Um, sir." Gabriel piped up, slowing to a walk. "Perhaps we should... Go around?" He asked at their looks. "Attack from behind?"

Silence for a moment. "...Are you questioning me, Tabris?"

"N-no, sir!" Yes, sir. "I was simply wondering if it would be a more intelligent move to go around." Because you're going to lose an angel in this if you attack head on.

"...No." Ambriel answered, and threw the door down.

Exactly as Gabriel had expected, they were gathered and expectant, waiting for the group of their six combatants to just walk on in. Precisely like they had.

Combat in a hallway was never good, and that much Gabriel knew. While the others clambered over and around, trying to support Isda, trapped at the front, he jogged back a few paces, then ran forward, using the wall as a running platform. He went over the other angels, landing behind choir sisters with a flourish, drawing his blade with a soft noise, smooth, cold silver gripped in his palm tightly.

"Heya." He murmured, grabbing the one of them by the wrist.

She jerked, turning around just in time for Gabriel to drive his blade through her sternum. The howling shriek of agony filled his head as the angel burned around the silver in her chest, Archangel's fire definitely making the process faster.

By that point, everyone else had suddenly realized where he was, and it went from push-pull battle in the middle of a hallway to full blown firefight.

One of the girls, a brown-haired lady still in one of those pink dresses, pounced on him, knocking him onto his spine. Immediately, Gabriel rocked backward, planting his feet on her stomach and rolling onto his feet at the same time that he shot her down the hall.

Temporarily leaving her be, Gabriel left his back to brown-haired girl, facing off with a blond.

"...So, what do I know you as, sister?"

"Tabris." Gabriel responded, flipping his knife around his wrist. "Forgotten me so fast, Fariel?"

"You only wish."

"Never." Gabriel purred, the smile in his voice nothing like the coldness on his face.

Fariel moved first, lunging in with a sidestep and a quick slash. Gabriel dodged easily, slicing into her arm. She let out an enraged shriek that matched the noise her grace made, silencing to attack again. Which gave Gabriel just enough time to hear where the brunette was.

Darting forward, Gabriel cut an enormous gash across her stomach, literally gutting her human vessel.

Fariel staggered back with a rough choking noise, her grace bleeding out onto her dress like a waterfall, in time for Gabriel to flip his knife, pointing back, and drive it into brownie's ribs, through her heart.

Then came the shriek of an angel dying, but not one of the ones he had slain.

"HARIEL!" Isda screeched, flaring her wings behind her as she attacked the angel standing over Hariel's limp body, her wings burned into the walls. Her killer moved forward, going for Isda next.

Gabriel got there first, an instinct in him shrieking for him to reach out and drive his blade through the attacker's wing, rather than their physical body. Instead, he simply settled for cutting her through the shoulder, causing her to stagger away from Hariel's corpse, and Ambriel subsequently spearing her.

Gabriel didn't say it. None of them said it.

If they had gone around the back and flanked, Hariel would still be alive.

Gabriel shot awake at 2 am, sleep an utterly lost cause. He didn't need to, but it still made him feel more... human.

Helped him remind himself of what he was still fighting for.

Unfortunately, that had become a strange concept.

Sam? Revenge? Because I should? He wondered, and deep in his chest another feeling arose, something he hadn't felt this strongly in nearly a millennia.

Instinct.

Archangels had it. It helped guide them, showing itself only when wars actually happened. Gabriel had felt it during his brothers' fighting, during the war with Hell for the Righteous Man, during the angelic civil war, and now. The last time it had been that strong, he had to decide between his brother in Heaven, and the one who he was closer to.

He had decided not to choose, and he ran off. Now, he didn't have that option.

So, silently, Gabriel pulled himself up, back against the wall, leaning his head to rest. Eyes fluttering shut, he relaxed, mostly boneless, with the wall supporting him.

Emotions buried at Gadreel's betrayal resurfaced, making Gabriel slump over, falling on his side. He blinked a few times, trying to understand why he had fallen, right before the tears started.

He wasn't certain why he was crying. Why then, why there, but he wondered if Archangel instincts and the personal Hell that came with them had flared up his emotions, making them run screaming. Because he knew that if he just... Let Archangel instincts go wild, he would turn into a cold, deadly machine.

It might've been preferable to the rippling agony of emotions that coursed through him. He hated it.

Gabriel rolled onto his side, facing the wall opposite. The cold concrete under his cheek felt like ice and disrupt, breaking his supposedly cohesive thoughts into a thousand pieces. It was tiring.

Gabriel closed his eyes, wanting to go back to sleep.

"Tabris?" A new voice asked, the door to his little room sliding open.

"I-Isda." Gabriel shoved off the floor, turning to face the other angel. "H-hey. What can I uh-" He stammered, wiping his face absentmindedly. "What can I do for ya'?"

"I mostly... wished to thank you." Isda slipped into the room, sitting beside him carefully. "You... You saved my life today. Being on earth has taught me to... value that."

"...You're welcome, but that isn't exactly something you need to thank me for." Gabriel shrugged. At her confused look, he continued. "It's uh... More like something that teammates do."

"Teammates? Are we not simply warriors in a special garrison?" She questioned with a head tilt.

"It..." Gabriel swallowed, the feelings from earlier rising up as he started explaining. "...Teammates have a different connection. We... we're like a little bit of a family."

"Tabris, all angels are family." Isda stated, and Gabriel had to force himself not to roll his eyes. I swear to Dad, this is why I left home.

"Yeah, Isda, but... closer. Really close. We know each other forward and back, and we care more deeply. Like, look at a human family. A good one. They all lean on each other, and they all stay up." He couldn't help but think of the Winchesters and their strange relationship, the codependence with a poor imitation of self-determination.

"...Is that not how angels are?"

"Isda, look around." Gabriel sighed, feeling like he was trying to teach a fledgling to fly. "We're at war with our family. That's a feud. Not family."

"...And... If we are then, a family, what is it to be 'teammates'?" She questioned.

"Teammates are... like a family, but a family of warriors. And not a family in the biological sense, no. Think of teammates like a family in every way, shape and form, except biology. They love each other, but they aren't sibling related, though it can feel that way." Gabriel explained.

"...You speak as though you have experienced this." Isda noted, looking at him more carefully. Gabriel made sure the imitation of Tabris was at full strength before continuing.

"I have. I've been on earth for a while. You... Pick up a few things." Gabriel chuckled wearily. Yeah, like feelings, pain, hatred and cynicism.

"...Thank you, Tabris." Isda smiled, standing. "...I will inform the others not to bother you, in your meditation."

"That would be-" He paused for a moment, considering that with a dark feeling in his chest. "...Nice. Thanks."

And, with plans brewing in his mind for the next night, Gabriel fell asleep.

The next night had him flying effortlessly out of the camp.

The day had been boring, pointless, and fruitless. Some basic training that he could've done blind and deaf, some Heaven-like combat sparring... Nothing useful. Like learning how to blend in properly, or a little dirty fighting. Because what Bartholomew's angels won't expect is a rough backhand. And that might keep Isda and the others alive for another damn day.

They got a new angel into their group, Manakel, who seemed too eager to get to the fighting.

Gabriel, meanwhile, had other plans. Meaner plans.

He had let his power loose a little when they had gone scouting, and had immediately fixated on Sophia, her energy burning within the base they had cased around, acting casual.

Angels acting casual was entertaining to say the least, how they had awkwardly walked in relaxed circles around areas, or sat in the same bus stop for hours at a time, staring at nothing.

Gabriel, meanwhile, had cased the building properly.

He circled it like a shadow a few times, inconspicuously far, but also closer than most. He knew where the windows and doors were. Which ones were locked, which ones weren't.

That, he didn't even need Archangel powers for. He knew how to stalk a building through the Men of Letters' training.

Brick. Unimportant. An almost complete in architectural charm. Ten floors, four windows on every floor. Patrolled regularly, five minute interval. Move fast, two minute safe zone. South windows are least defended, only one guard. Sophia's office must be on the north side, which means I'll have to be quick.

When they returned to the base, Gabriel had given basic information, enough to tip Ambriel into not attacking. Not yet.

Which gave him time.

The Trickster in him was screaming to just 'swag on in', walk through the door and distract everyone with a single trick, get to Sophie and get out before anyone noticed.

But the Archangel in him disagreed.

Don't walk straight in. Try to avoid casualties and being seen. They can't know the danger until they're off their balance.

He went with the Archangel, turned his wings at least semi-corporeal, enough so to fly, and took off, landing on the fifth floor window ledge.

The balance required for that was something Gabriel was unused to, arms windmilling as his wings fluttered, struggling to keep purchase. Eventually, he steadied himself, sliding the point of his blade under the corner of the window, slipping it and making it lock in place, before worming his own thin, lithe body through the gap. He pulled the window closed before anyone even noticed it open.

The office he had landed in was dark and silent, which was also why he chose it. He trotted up to the door, unlocking it with a hairpin and a trick he learned from Shay, pinning one side of his hair back afterward. Who said only chicks can use these things?

Slipping silently through the halls, Gabriel started for the target that his grace had identified hours ago, avoiding all other angels with a skill that Archangels didn't have much of. The hiding, sneaking... That was all Loki. Archangel energy just heightened that skill.

"Yes ma'am. Thank you." An angel's voice floated down the hall, followed by quick-moving footsteps. A woman, rather short and of Asian heritage, walked past, vanishing around a corner.

Gabriel poked his head out before stepping back into the hallway, heading for a dark wood door, frosted windows hiding the person inside.

So Gabriel knocked.

"Yes?" Came the response.

The frequency beneath the word, undetectable to humans, gave away her identity.

Gabriel flipped his hood over his head, pulling the corners of his jacket up higher before stepping inside, closing and locking the door behind him.

"Excuse me, Dabriel, this his highly unusual behaviour-"

"Guess again." Gabriel dropped his voice an octave, the growl rumbling in his throat.

Sophia went silent, stood at the head of her table with an expression half of shock and half of fear. "How did you get-"

"Trade secret." Gabriel interrupted. Her eyes narrowed.

"...you've come to kill me." She said. It wasn't a question, or a request. It was simply a statement of fact.

He, unlike normal, didn't reply, and didn't bother drawing his sword yet, watching his double creep up behind her silently.

"...you will find, sister, I am not as helpless as you may believe." Sophia didn't even look back, at the hologram sneaking toward her. "You will find, assassin, that I am perfectly capable of defending myself!" Just as it raised it's blade though, she finally spotted it.

"Hah!" She exclaimed, dancing back. "Trick me, would you?"

She stepped forward, drawing her own blade to slash through the angel behind her, only for the blade to simply dissipate the copy. She seemed stunned to see it not only disappear, but that it was the same person.

Gabriel drove the real knife through her spine. Pulling her against his body and leaning his head over her shoulder, he spoke again. "...yes. Yes I did." He whispered, right before tearing the knife out of her back, dropping her as the light show started.

Rather than turn away, Gabriel found himself watching with morbid curiosity, huge wings turning to ash and charring themselves onto her floor with a scream. And for a moment, he felt nothing but satisfaction. And then came the horror. That hadn't, by angelic terms, been a quick death.

He stepped back in shock at himself.

Then Gabriel remembered the other angels in the base.

So he wrapped himself in his own wings, his unburned, safe, warm wings, and flew away.

-{[|]}-

Gabriel didn't land right.

Less land, more crash.

He appeared in the hallway, ramming into the wall across from his room with way too much force. After gripping tight to the bricks and registering where he was, he slid down the wall with a soft groan, turning his shoulder to touch the wall.

"What the..." Another voice announced, forcing Gabriel to lunge to his feet despite the pain shooting through his wings.

Whirling around and ducking inside his room, slamming the door shut and waiting, listening, for an angel to come out and find him.

None came.

Gabriel slid to the floor, leaned against the door, breathing hot and sticky. His vessel's heart thumped in his chest, too loud and overly hard, beating wildly as he attempted to keep the non-required, but still nice, function at bay.

When he finally got it calmed, everything that he had done came crashing down like a tsunami, washing over his whole self as though he had been trapped under it.

Slowly, he pulled his knees into his stomach, resting his head on them as crash after crash of hate and pain, regret and guilt, confidence and failure landed on him, eating away at his resolve.

He didn't know if he could take it.

So for then, he didn't. Gabriel simply closed his eyes, and hoped.

He would've prayed, but he didn't know if anyone was listening.

So instead, he simply hoped. He hoped that somehow, someone, somewhere, would bring him the strength to continue on this path.

Because... after all... Gabriel thought as he soundlessly sobbed into his jeans. The road to Hell... Is paved with good intentions.

Chapter Text

{January, 1910}

Gabriel woke up, still in the cave under the Cliff. This time though, he felt much better.

He stood up, stretching out the relaxed, sleepy feeling that still clung to him, wings shivering down to their tips, basked in warm light and Heaven's energy, replenished to their full, glittering beauty.

Sitting back down, he grabbed one of them by the top wrist, pulling it over his lap to lay out flat, fingers carding through the feathers with careful reassurance.

He lay each of them flat, combing through the pinions, and the primaries and secondaries, the coverlets, freeing the dirt and dust from each individual feather. It felt good to just clean them, to forget his responsibilities and his duties, to simply relax under the sensation of clean feathers.

Gabriel brushed his feathers straight before pulling up his other wing, laying that one down and starting to pick it clean. He could remember a time when Lucifer or Michael had cleaned his and Raphael's feathers, preening them flat and oiling them, so they remained shimmery and strong.

Now, he did it himself, the coiled power within his wings for him and him only.

After stretching out again, cleaning the second and third pairs of wings, and laying back down, he found himself almost ready to sleep again. He had time. Not too much, but enough time.

So he went back to sleep.

After his second nap, Gabriel felt fully refreshed and ready to resume his hiding, his self-imposed exile on Earth, back to ignoring angels and their promises of the end, the final war. Then, paradise.

Gabriel didn't believe a half-second of it.

Because for there to be paradise, one of his brothers had to kill the other.

And Gabriel wasn't sure which one he wanted to win. Wasn't sure which one he could lose permanently.

He snorted.

Who am I kidding? He asked himself as he wiggled out of the cave. I already lost 'em. Lost 'em the day I left.

Avoiding notice was easy, at least until he got away from the forest. His wingbeats became soft and long as he glid overhead, not the inelegant, sharp, harsh wingbeats of his siblings. About midway back, he decided to land for a bit, in the middle of the training fields. Nobody was there, that time of day, and Gabriel felt safe enough to walk around, to observe and reminisce.

" Riel?" A small voice questioned, prompting Gabriel to spin around. Eth, her thin rust-orange wings shimmering in the light. "What are you doing out here?"

" I could ask you the same question." Gabriel smiled, squatting down. "I'm just taking a break for a minute. What are you doing?"

" ...Seraphiel and Zikiel told me that we could start learning how to fly!" She cheered, jumping up with a light fluttering of wings.

" Awesome! I'm sure you'll be a great flier." Gabriel grinned, but that message, that other angels were on their way, was a warning sign if he ever got one. "But I've gotta go, ok?"

" Why do you hav'ta go, Riel?" Eth asked, tilting her head.

" Because... I've got a mission." He knelt, shifting into a more comfortable position. "A real important mission on earth."

" Really?" Eth's eyes widened, staring at him in amazement. "You get to go to earth?"

" Uh huh." Gabriel nodded firmly. "Which means I have to go, y'know? I have to go do my job."

" ...Can I watch you fly down?" She asked, jumping on the balls of her feet.

" I uh..." He began, looking around for a second. "I guess. Follow me, ok?" He smiled, standing and starting for the gates of Heaven.

After a small walk, the pair stood before the gates, an enormous pair of pearl-carved, elegantly decorated doors, that Gabriel pushed open easily. "Alright, kiddo. You be good for Zikiel, got it?"

She looked out the open gates, staring at earth in awe and wonder, eyes circling over the water and clouds, the brilliant emerald forests and sapphire lakes, the smokey-yellow band of the Sahara desert.

Her eyes were filled amazement, reflecting the reality of earth, the cities, like stars, glimmering on the shores of the continents.

" ...Wow." She breathed.

" I know right? It's even better up close." He chuckled. "Just you wait. You go down there, and you get to make a special connection with a human. And then..." He sighed. "The world changes for you."

" So, you've got a special human?" Eth questioned, stepping back.

Gabriel made a noise of affirmation. "Of course. He's my friend." He smiled. "You gonna head back to the field once I start flying?"

" Uh huh!"

" Alright then." Gabriel stepped right up to the edge, beating his wings to take off, hovering over the earth as he reached over to close the gates. "Bye Eth. Next time I see you, you'll probably be on earth!"

" Bye Riel!" She waved to him with a wing, right before Gabriel flipped over his back, unveiling all of his wings just for a second, diving away, a star in the evening sky, for earth.

Gabriel woke up, in his human body, in the back of his car.

Flinching with a deep inhale, he pulled upright, mentally checking himself over for injuries or problems. Only three days had passed on earth, and as a result he was fairly certain that his body would be fine. So far, his empty vessel had sustained no damage, few nutritional issues, and a minor case of dehydration.

Nothing he couldn't fix in two days of travel.

Gabriel started the car, checking it's condition just as fast as his own, before pulling out of the forested driveway and turning down the main road, chugging away toward the first place on his little list.

It took two days to travel a few hundred miles, digging up graves and pulling apart bones, burning demons as he went.

The last one was a man who sold his soul somewhere in the 1600s, for God only knows what, and had become a high ranking demon in the mid to late 1800s.

Gabriel spent a better portion of the night digging up the grave alone, without using his grace. For an angel, he always used surprisingly little of his grace for some harder physical labor, but Gabriel had always preferred corporeal things. Like, when he dragged the rotted, dry bones from the grave, pouring salt and a liberal amount of gasoline over the body, dropping a match in it without need of holy fire.

" Well..." Gabriel sighed heavily. "Goodbye, Killian the demon." He told the fire, knowing that somewhere, some demon's vessel had just gone up in flames with him.

Gabriel packed up his equipment, and headed for Somerset, a town steadily growing larger by trade and business from Canada.

After picking up more food, an extra shirt, and more gas, Gabriel started off, back for the Bunker. Down the road, he wound up on a flat-packed path through the woods, humming faintly to himself as he kept eyes on the road.

Hold on... Gabriel questioned, pausing for a moment. Did I remember that knife?

Shifting over to look in his bag, Gabriel shuffled through the contents, guns and knives clattering against each other as he searched to confirm a specific one.

When he turned back, he was shocked to see a person suddenly kicked onto the road.

With a yelp, Gabriel swerved, only to bump the guy anyway, almost running him over.

Then another figure, taller and thinner, hood covering their face, walked right over, leaned down, grabbed the guy Gabriel hit and yanked him out from under the car.

" Hey, what the-" He began, shocked, as the black figure dragged the other one back into the forest.

" This doesn't concern you." They snarled, voice an ambiguous growl, as they pulled him away.

Gabriel immediately drove to the side of the road before leaping from the car and following the disappearing figure.

Creeping through the underbrush, Gabriel followed them, the trail left by the prisoner's kicking, squirming body an easy path to track. He worked quickly and efficiently, taking out his knife midway through the path.

The broken branches and cracked underbrush lead to a clearing, a fire in the centre crackling strongly, where the figure threw the man to the ground, quickly nailing him in the face with the toe of their boot, dazing him and kneeling on his back, tying his wrists together.

"Alright." They snapped as they grabbed his shoulder, twisting it forward and down, a terrifying crack echoing through the clearing. The person screamed, and the figure shook him briefly, before throwing him against a tree with little effort. "That should serve as a bit of a warning. Nobody's leaving." She, Gabriel realized, hissed.

Then he realized something else.

Every person in that clearing was possessed. The girl was, potentially, but he couldn't sense it on her, despite the fact that she had tossed the others around like they were nothing. Evidently, the demon possessing her had a vendetta against the rest.

" L-look, bi-bitch," One of the demons stuttered, staring up at her with one eye. "I d-don't know wh-what problem you've got w-with us, b-b-but," He coughed, evidently, his vessel's ribs shattered. "Y-ya' haven't ki-killed anyone y-yet."

" And I don't plan to." She purred, stalking right up to him. She grabbed the front of his shirt, picked him off the ground like he was a child, and yanked him close to her face, looming overtop. "You sure as shit don't recognize me... But you might know a different name."

And Gabriel watched, in half horror, as the whites of her eyes became black, only a steady, semi-glowing ring of blue as her mark of humanity.

The demon flinched under the gaze.

" ...Damian." He stammered, eyes going wide.

" Not entirely." Now, her voice sounded deeper, a little darker, like something else was talking alongside her now. "Damian, he's here. I'm just using his powers. He's just watching the show."

" ...So he's not strong enough to come out and do the job himself? He lets his pet take care of i-"

She sliced her knife across his throat with a small flourish, and suddenly, he was choking on his own blood, unable to speak.

" No, it's just that he knows that I'll get it done quicker." She smirked. "So, another of you want to talk?" She called out.

One of the demons tilted her head back, brown hair cascading down her spine, as she arched up to 'smoke out'.

When the girl darted across the clearing, grabbed the smoking demon and shoved it back in it's vessel. "Oh no, sweetheart. You aren't going anywhere." She purred, and extended her hand to the fire. She held her hand out for a poker, at least a foot long with a fashioned branding head, burned red in the dark night. It launched from the fire, the cold end of it slamming into her hand without much thought.

Then the possessed woman bit the girl, who flinched back with a small yelp, staring in half awe, half disgust at the woman.

Then her eyes flickered completely black, dull growl rising in her throat. "You really, really, shouldn't've tried that."

The demon's screams lit up the night as the other demon, Damian, Gabriel guessed, branded a Devil's trap into the woman's chest.

Then Damian jerked back, shaking the girl's head, the black vanishing. "Good grief Damian, control freak much?" She griped goodnaturedly to herself. "C'mon, let me work here." She rolled her eyes, and Gabriel started questioning why he knew her voice. "I know, but honestly, that's no excuse to just hurry up and brand her. I wanted to threaten her a bit." She sighed, leaving the sobbing demon and placing the brand back in the fire.

With a huff, she pulled up straight and yanked her hood off, rubbing sweat off her forehead.

Gabriel's jaw dropped.

"...Raven?"

The girl's head snapped to stare at him, hood flipping up without a second thought as her eyes clouded black, only rings of blue remaining.

Gabriel whirled around, starting to run, considering flying. He had never seen a human able to access the demon inside them's powers, nevermind have the competency with said powers. She would definitely see him fly, and if word got back to the Men of Letters...

He kept running.

While Gabriel crashed ungainly through the forest, seeking the road, Raven, Damian, whatever she was, leapt through with elegance and speed, catching up and landing on his back, forcing him to the dirt.

Gabriel spat out dead leaves and snow, shaking his head as he realized that his arms were being tied. The instant he tried to struggle, though, the familiar grate of holy oil stressed his boundaries, and he lay still.

"...So uh... hey." He chuckled, glancing over his shoulder at the girl, eyes still creepily glowing, nothing but iris. "Didn't expect to see you out here."

Silence for a moment.

Then she flipped off her hood, leaning closer to his face with confusion evident. "...Gabriel?" She gasped, sitting up. "What in God's name are you doing here?"

"Could ask you the same thing." He grunted, wiggling slightly. "Ok, we know each other. Can you let me up?"

A few seconds of untying let him stand, but when he checked again, the girl's eyes were half and half, one normal, one completely black. "...I asked first." She stated, pulling him back toward the clearing.

"Ok, uh, if you need to know, I was on my way back from a demon burning." Gabriel shrugged, curious and concerned about the fact that there was a demon inside Raven.

"Good." She purred, pushing back into the center, approaching the fire. "Glad we're out here in the middle of nowhere. We can actually talk about some in between things that most people don't understand." She turned the poker and it's brand over, tapping charred blood and skin from it's surface.

"...Such as?"

"Don't be nïeve." She snapped, making him take a step back. "You're an angel, I'm possessed by a demon." She stood up, spinning around. "Let's not beat around bushes, pretend, or lie, got me?" Tapping an angel blade to his chest, she swung along beside him, trotting over to check the bindings on one.

"...So you know you're possessed. And you know I'm an angel." Gabriel sat, cross-legged, by the fire, warming his hands. It was a rather cold night.

"Of course." She responded. "I see what he sees, he sees what I see. And in this case, that means your wings." She pointed out an indeterminate space behind him.

"...And you're alright with the demon inside you?"

"His name is Damian," She informed sharply. "and he's been my best friend and sole supporter for a long time now. Other people only call me when they need me." She scrutinized the slice in the one's neck, preventing him from speaking, before driving the blade through his skull. The electrical crackling of dying demon filled the air briefly.

Gabriel watched her carefully, noting the way that Damian, the demonic shadow, seemed to hide within her soul when he wasn't needed, creeping away to stay safe while she simply acted human. "...You two work together?"

"Have for a while now. What about you, your vessel got a name?"

"Not one that I could translate easily." Gabriel chuckled.

They remained in uneasy silence, the groaning of one demon exchanged for the crying of another. Apparently, Raven and Damian had a bit of a reputation.

"So, what's up with this?" Gabriel finally questioned, gesturing to the circle of demons.

"Information." She responded simply. "I have a pair of lists, have to fill them out. These guys have information on a certain Letcher Finch."

"And has he been naughty or nice?" Gabriel smiled at the diffusion of tension.

"Mr. Finch has been distinctly naughty." She laughed slightly. "Pedophile demon. Runs a trafficking ring. And I plan on dismantling it, starting with some low level informants."

"Sounds like fun. Except that the chick you branded isn't a low level." He pointed over to the offending demon, who he noticed - during her attempted escape - was a crossroads demon.

"No." She admitted. "No, Sherry is an old friend of Damian's. Caught her following us a few days ago."

"So, she's here because..."

"Damian wants her dead, so I want her dead. Which means I'll grill her for information, and then kill her." Raven shrugged, circling the clearing again. "Excuse me for a moment."

She knelt in front of one of the demons, talking in a low, dangerous whisper to the demon. He replied, equally as hushed, and she made his death quick and clean. He suffered nothing when she cleaved his head from his shoulder with the angel blade.

"Alright, sorry..." She wiped off the blade, walking back over to the fire. "I actually do have a job to do." She sighed, staring into the fire for a few minutes before jolting upright. "...Damian wants to speak with you."

Gabriel's surprise turned to open shock. He has to ask permission? "Uh, ok?"

She closed her eyes, head lowering for a moment before lifting back up, eyes pure black. "...hello, angel." Her voice had become dark, deep and slightly gravelly.

"...demon."

"Play nice, boys." Raven moderated, her eyes briefly flicking to their normal colour before being swallowed by black again.

"You wanted to talk?" Gabriel questioned, staring suspiciously at the demon.

"Mostly, wanted to see you for myself. I don't trust people around her. Because they've hurt her before. So, angel... you harm her, I'll cut you in half."

Gabriel knew that, while he was an Archangel, and this demon was just some punk common demon, he was technically bonded with his vessel. A rare occurrence, when a human and their supernatural inhabitants bonded together, able to switch, attack together, hide within the other, and numerous other abilities. Even with Archangelic powers, fighting off a soul-bonded demon would be unpleasant.

"...sounds fair." Gabriel shrugged. The demon nodded, uncaring as to his response beyond that, and then the black faded away, leaving just Raven.

"Damian needs to calm down apparently." She chuckled as she stood up, taking the brand with her toward another demon.

Gabriel watched with morbid curiosity as she sizzled another mark into the demon's skin, talking in calm, hushed tones. He simply listened to their conversation, to sate his curiosity, and went back to watching the fire.

{December, 2013}

The pounding headache was persistent as it was aggressive.

Gabriel hadn't slept in sixteen and a half days.

It was unlike him.

He couldn't seem to keep down his food either. Nothing he wanted to eat tasted right, or felt right, and he kept throwing it back up. Water, for now, was still alright, but he had no idea what was wrong.

Standing up and stretching his aching back, Gabriel rubbed his shoulder where an angel's blade had slashed him on their last attack. The wound had healed nearly instantly, but that didn't stop him from massaging it. What had really made him start questioning himself was the lack of pain he felt.

Normally, Gabriel was very close to his vessel's skin, unlike most angels, which allowed him to feel more sensations, more like humans.

It didn't help that his emotions were muted, dulled, as though he was drugged or bleeding out. He felt like crying, but no tears came out. He wanted to scream, but he couldn't dredge up the energy to breathe fully.

Most of all, he just wanted to sleep.

By this point, it was unsurprising that he felt twitchy, on edge, and anxious. To a person, he just looked overtired and worn, like all his sharp lines had been smudged, frayed and torn.

To an angel, he might've looked like he was falling.

His true form was suffering too, all messed up and muddied, barely able to hold onto the incoherent form of Tabris to keep his identity safe.

Living on earth for so long had given Gabriel many human-like qualities that he gave no second thoughts to having, or doing. Like eating, which he found enjoyable, sleeping, which was great, and drinking. Which he needed to do more of if this went on.

Now, the strange ripping, a sudden separation from his vessel like never before, felt like shin splints on a human body. He was tearing, unintentionally, from his own body.

At least he could use painkillers, which seemed to dull the effects on his vessel, so long as he could keep the pills in his stomach, which seemed to reject everything. He was a mess and he knew it.

After slamming another ten Advil, which had maybe a chance to stop the headache, but bring to light the fact that his whole body ached, lack of oxygen taking it's toll as he tried to keep breathing. It sounded forced, his long inhales, and sharp exhales. If he didn't breathe, though, he found that he kept passing out.

So, I can't sleep, but I can still pass out. He had thought after he keeled over in the middle of their bus drive, standing up for a half second to stretch his legs out, only to wake up with Isda calling Tabris' name, the other angels staring at him with confusion.

"Sorry..." He had said. "I uh... Seem to have lost more of my grace than I thought, in the fall."

That had been just a few days ago.

Shoving off the wall and rolling forward to rest on the balls of his feet, Gabriel stood up, waiting for the room to stop doing an odd slide thing before starting for the door.

Pushing into the hallway, Gabriel started for the main gathering area. He had a new target anyway.

Dokiel seemed like a nice enough angel, but he was closer to Malachi than the others. Which meant, to start dismantling the whole infrastructure, he had to die.

How to get him alone, though... Gabriel wondered, resting his shoulder against the wall for a brief second, squeezing blurry eyes shut. Everything was too bright and too fuzzy all at once. Right. Blink. He reminded himself.

All the past night, he had spent trying to use his grace to create a letter to place on Dokiel's desk, one that would make him appear like a double agent. He had finally gotten the right one, just now, the problem was planting it.

He turned so that he was leaning fully on the wall, both shoulders, head lowered and focused. There has to be a way into the office. At least, unseen.

"Tabris." One of the angels greeted. Gabriel snapped his head up.

"Sorry, sir." He responded, avoiding the angel's, correction, Theo's gaze. "Just thinking." Theo was one of the attack angel leaders, ferocious and powerful. Gabriel wanted him dead just as much.

"Ambriel wishes you to meet with me and Sheriel. Please, follow." Theo ordered, though he pretended like it wasn't, and Gabriel followed.

In my lap, yet. How pleasantly convenient. This'll be fun.
 He thought, the energy of his blade tingling at his fingertips.

Gabriel stepped back slightly, away from Theo's footsteps and out of striking range, starting to switch to 'hunting' mode rather than 'just existing' mode. The latter was almost entirely offline as of late, but he made do.

Following Theo into his office, Gabriel took the offered seat across from his desk, noting the third of their party, Sheriel, in the corner. Sheriel had been an angel who watched over the health of other's grace. He'd have to play careful with her.

"Tabris, this is Sheriel. I'm not certain you've... met?"

"I don't think we have." Gabriel stood up, shaking Sheriel's hand. "It's a pleasure."

"To you too, Tabris." Sheriel nodded. Apparently, my replica is better than I thought. Gabriel smirked internally. She can't see through it.

They chatted, with Sheriel holding her hand on his shoulder, checking the state of his grace repeatedly. He made sure the fake was at full force but still damaged, stating that yes, my grace has been feeling weird lately and no, I haven't made any deals or been anywhere but here, one of which was a blatant lie, but he could care less.

"Tabris, may I take a sliver of your grace for closer examination?" Sheriel requested after a bit, and Gabriel consented, sending her a thin slip of false coloured grace for examination. All that would turn up was a bit of weakness.

Gabriel knew that, because Lucifer had taught him to fake grace, avoiding Raphael's healing.

After she moved to the next room, Gabriel watched as Theo stood up and walked to the barred window, staring out. "Tabris, what is to become of our siblings?" He sighed, brown hair bouncing slightly as he shook his head. His perfectly done navy suit suddenly seemed a little too tight for Gabriel's liking. He couldn't wait to cut it off.

Whoa, where did that come from? Gabriel questioned himself while unfolding the letter, tapping a finger against the page to change Ambriel's name to 'Sheriel', and Dokiel to 'Theo', the fine type rearranging and shifting at his command. "Not sure." He stated. "The world does seem to be in chaos."

Laying the page on the table, Gabriel flicked his wrist, locking all the doors, turning off the one camera pointed at the entrance, and summoning his blade.

Standing up slowly, not making a single noise, Gabriel crept over to the other angel, staying a few feet behind.

Theo huffed again. "Our world is falling apart, Tabris. It will take every angel we need, on our side."

Gabriel took that as his cue. Letting out a fake shout, then a few choice curses, he moved forward effortlessly.

Theo whirled, shock and confusion evident, at least until Gabriel's blade sank into his ribs, grace screaming out as he burned alive in his vessel. Thinking fast, Gabriel pulled the body against himself, snatched Theo's blade from limp fingers and fell over backward. The thump was hard, sharp, and painful, made doubly so when he raised Theo's blade and drove it into his own shoulder with a shout.

Sheriel burst in a second later from the side door, while a few other angels crashed through the front door. "Tabris?" Isda called worriedly.

"O-over here!" Gabriel gasped, playing up the pain for all he was worth.

The angels rounded the table, staring at him, the body and the blade stuck in his shoulder in astonishment, before Sheriel moved in to assist him.

"Tabris, your grace is weak. I will remove the blade, and heal you, alright?" Sheriel reassured, and Gabriel nodded shakily. The blade was intensely painful, though not as much as it could've been. In all honesty, it was quite easy to handle, once he was confident he could.

Isda and another pair of angels pulled Theo's body off his chest, letting Gabriel scramble back before Sheriel tore out the blade and sealed her hand over the wound, repairing it instantly.

"Tabris, what happened?" One of the angels asked, in a blond vessel with hazel eyes. Gabriel recognized the angel as Seris.

"He just... Said something about all angels being on our side and then turned!" Gabriel explained skillfully.

Isda was examining his desk with the third angel, another woman. "...Seris, Sheriel..." She turned around, holding the unfolded note of paper that Gabriel had planted. "We need to go to Malachi immediately."

Gabriel's grace did a silent cheer as Sheriel helped him up. "You, Tabris, should rest. If Theo was truly planning on betraying us, then you did a great deed today."

Gabriel smiled, the planted letter working perfectly how he'd planned it. "Self defense, really..." He mumbled sheepishly, turning for the door to leave.

It wasn't until his vision grayed out and the room flipped dizzyingly that Gabriel realized he had forgotten to breathe the whole time.

It was his last thought before hitting the ground.

He woke up to the thought of, right, can't sleep but can pass out. Remember this time please. It wasn't pleasant, sitting up with a stabbing ache in his brain and a hard bump on his forehead, but at least one of those was fixable. He was back in his room, alone, because angels didn't exactly do the caring thing.

Tapping fingers to the spot just below his hairline, Gabriel leaned back with his eyes closed, reaching into the corner under an extra coat for the excessive amount of Ibuprofen he kept around.

When he realized the headache was gone.

Gabriel shot to his feet, snapping fully awake and no longer off balance. Instead, his grace thrummed directly under his skin, not quite connected to his vessel, but not so withdrawn either. More like...

Like my first connection. He concluded, staring at his hands as he clenched and unclenched his fists.

Another sensation hummed underneath his actual grace, small intrusive thoughts every so often making observations about certain things, like the molecules in the walls, or the angel down the hall. It was making him slightly twitchy, but it felt... Good.

He felt relaxed for the first time since... Gadreel.

The new-old power, the new-old sensations under his skin felt like his grace trying to reboot itself, a computer running a diagnostic. It identified the streak of silver where he was different from last time, Loki's energy thrumming like an icy arrow lodged within the spine of his grace.

Unfurling his wings, even though they were rather compressed in the small room, felt different as well. Everything resetting and spreading back out, realigning. Rolling his shoulders, Gabriel flared his wings slightly, the smallest pair barely able to spread out halfway in the room, feathers shuffling softly.

His wings held more of a sheen since last time he took a good look, less than a week ago. As though something was warping inside him to make him more powerful. Well, not more powerful. Just make his power more present.

He wasn't sure if he liked it or not.

Their next assignment, with Ambriel, was a guarding assignment. His job, along with the other angels of their crew, was to give guidance and protect a high ranking spy angel affectionately named 'Viva'.

She wasn't on Gabriel's hit list.

The plan was that at least one of them (read; Ambriel) was with Viva at all times, the others trailing behind and scattered in various areas while Viva told her gathered-slash-stolen information to Ambriel.

Gabriel was waiting on a roof some twenty feet away, their little sniper. He knew that diving onto the street like some kind of bird would definitely attract attention, but not nearly as much as the bladefight that would be happening on the street.

Taking a sip of his hot water and lemon, the only drink he could keep down and appear human drinking, Gabriel watched as Ambriel waited, tapping fingers in an impatient thrum on the table where he sat outside of Starbucks.

It was almost another hour before a woman with elegant curves and gorgeous lines, brilliant black hair tipped white and shimmery in the sunshine, sat down with Ambriel. After a few minute's quiet conversation and a pair of drinks to go, they started down the street.

Gabriel focused on the alleyway to his left, wrapping himself in his wings and effectively vanishing from the rooftop, reappearing in the alley and stepping onto the sidewalk.

Tracking Viva and Ambriel with focus most bear hunters lacked, Gabriel stayed exactly fifteen feet their diagonal, across the street but within quick retaliation range. Scouring the rest of the crowd, human souls glittering like diamonds in the sea of people, Gabriel started trying to find any other angels, ones that he didn't know.

Viva and Ambriel rotated, disappearing into an alleyway. Gabriel signalled to the drivers, skipping across the road and melting seamlessly into the crowd, slinking into the alleyway before anyone noticed him appear or disappear.

Ducking behind a dumpster, Gabriel listened carefully to Ambriel and Viva's conversation.

"...There's no activity in the east, but they're spending a lot of time out north. Be careful when heading south, too. They have a base down there." Viva was talking, clear and steady, but something was off.

Namely the figure standing high above the alley, holding a blade.

He could spot three such figures, and sensed another six. This wasn't a meetup. This was a setup.

Gabriel started to stand up and move, about to launch for Ambriel, telling him to run, because this was an ambush, when his muscles locked up.

It was then that he realized what he should do. Not for the good of his new 'team', but for the good of his mission.

He let them drop down.

When the fighting began and the rest of his compatriots shot for the battle, Gabriel sprinted, his heels picked up so he got more of a driving motion as he ran, for the skirmish.

The first angel he cut through was effortless. Not one of Malachi's, but Bartholomew's. He was lunging for the next one before their body even hit the ground.

The fight raged on, half silent and chaotic. There was no yells of rage or challenge, just metal on metal and blood and sweat, grace moving and flowing with true forms.

And out of the corner of his input, he saw Ambriel forced back, fighting off another angel who slashed brutally at his face and head. The angel caught Gabriel's eyes, faltering a step, as though worried that the other would shoot over and tackle him down.

Gabriel didn't move, face gone deceptively blank.

He considered the moment. His consequences of murdering Ambriel, versus allowing the unplanned second to take the fault, to force his allies to retreat while doing half his job. He knew, knew that somewhere inside him, he should object to the murder of another angel, but... The coldness in his chest seemed to deny him that. So he waited.

The angel's eyes widened, as though shocked, right before turning back and stabbing Ambriel through the ribs, the leader choking briefly before flaring up, coating the alleyway in light.

They all stood in silence for a few minutes, mostly in shock. Gabriel though, in mild, silent satisfaction.

"Retreat!" Aratron shouted, scrambling backward as the other angels started fleeing.

Gabriel, though, only sank back, vanishing into the cover of shadows.

The angel who had killed Ambriel watched him with curiosity and fear, waiting until the rest of the enemy angels had clearly left before stepping into the alleyway where Gabriel had hid.

"...Hello?" He called, searching with suspicious eyes for the figure concealed in the corner.

"Thanks for doing my job for me." Gabriel stepped into view. "Been playing doubles for a while. You just made my day about six times easier."

"...Pardon?" The angel questioned, backing away slightly. Gabriel knew that his power was a little more evident than before. Still concealed, but with more there. To most of the angels on earth, he just looked like he had retained more of his grace.

Gabriel rolled his eyes, wondering how he could put that into words that an angel understood. In the end, he decided not to bother. "What's your name?"

"...Kadmiel, ma'am." He nodded.

"Kadmiel, huh? I'm Tabris." Gabriel informed. Normally, any other time, he might've felt the need to shake the other's hand. He felt none of that now.

"...Why did you let me kill Ambriel, Tabris?"

"Because I needed him dead. Just as much as you need him dead." Gabriel shrugged. The apathy sinking through his voice tasted like bittersweet victory over his emotions.

"Why should we trust you?" A second angel - soft blush-coloured wings charred, but nearly usable, salvageable, at least - stepped out from behind Kadmiel. "You're one of Malachi's."

"That insane insurgent?" Gabriel scoffed. "Please. I've been double teaming that rat for weeks." I double teamed you a bit too, but now I've got a way in your door. He thought alongside his statement. "Been looking for a way to get in contact with a few of Bartholomew's angels for a while now. Hoping to join the proper side."

"I'd say that allowing Ambriel's death is proof enough. As far as I saw, you didn't hurt any of ours." Viva walked into the scene, gazing between the gathered few.

"Nope." Gabriel shook his head, blatant lie not even pausing him.

"...Come." She invited with a soft nod. "Meet with Bartholomew. We'll see what we can do for you."

Gabriel dipped his head, thanking her. Internally, his grace twisted with sadistic happiness. Everything's coming together...

He didn't actually wind up meeting Bartholomew, a major disappointment. He imagined that the fight would've been something for the ages.

Instead, he met with his assistant, Cambiel.

Cambiel watched him with respect and awe for what he had enabled to happen, though Gabriel greeted her admiration with slightly nonchalant politeness.

She welcomed him, informing him that he had done Heaven a great service by enabling the death of Ambriel. Gabriel accepted her praise wordlessly as he was guided to one of the busses out of the main building. After he arrived to the new concrete base he was stationed at, he was lead to a small room that was now his, for a time, at least.

He had been assigned to Alphun, and had almost immediately started planning for his murder. He'd have to frame another, but to do that, he'd need to steal a blade and have a reliable excuse. Lying on the floor of the small room where he was staying (more comfortable than Malachi's base) and staring at the roof, Gabriel was struck with a blinding realization.

I'm planning the murder of an angel I don't even know.

The thought was slightly sickening. In fact, his stomach gave a very real lurch at the idea.

Gabriel spent the next few minutes crunched over himself, dry heaving as ripples of pain rushed up his back. Muscles clenched and warped, too focused and too sharp and the migraine pounding in his head roared to life with vengeance.

This time, a few strings of bitter bile came from his throat.

The tears came to his eyes unbidden, unwanted, and generally hated. Gabriel was scared, scared at the knowledge that he was losing himself, and not slowly either. An instinct, age-old and barbaric, was coming to life. The instinct to protect and kill, to defend Heaven with everything he had.

Every emotion that he thought had vanished over the last few weeks rose up with fury, roaring in his head for the world to die, for the angels against Heaven to burn. The anguish of being alone, without his family, without even his friends, broke him inside. Gabriel had been so close to his family as a child, only to leave when that closeness started to tear him to pieces. As Loki, he had many... alliances, nobody who he could quite call 'friend', until later in his life with Kali and the rest. They, though, only knew him as Loki. Not as Gabriel, the Archangel. Who he really was.

Then, for a while with the Men of Letters, and Gabriel remembered what having a real family, people who loved and cared about him, was like. It was a bitter, hated memory at first. He had almost forgotten it, and that sensation of being alone was easier to take if he didn't remember what having a family felt like.

Soon enough, Gabriel lost that family too, but to necessity. He did what he needed to.

He had started to get his family back with Sam, Dean, even Cas when he saw him. His new family was starting to come together.

And then it was shredded.

So Gabriel curled into a ball in the corner and cried, grace folding in over itself and twisting into a tiny knot in his chest, drawing his reality into his body, away from the world outside.

And he sobbed.

When he came back to himself, his limbs felt cold and stiff, heavy with aches that openly rebelled to movement, head bleary and sleepy, as though stuffed full of cotton.

Working through his weighted limbs, flexing and stretching to try and put out the kinks in his vessel. Yawning, Gabriel shook his head, sitting up fully and leaning on the wall. He felt more tired than he did before, drained like an old sink, cracked and broken on the inside with all the white varnish still clean.

He was sick of it. He was sick of hiding, of lying in wait. He was sick of being attacked, or waiting for a command like a well-trained dog. The Archangel side of him openly rebelled to it, to being told what to do and pushed around. You're not a creature to be ordered... It hissed insidiously in his ears. You're a creature who makes the orders. And it's time they all knew that.

Gabriel hated the feelings that started to sink through the black ichor at the bottom of his grace, floating, just covered, at the surface. He couldn't quite feel it, but barely.

His eyes shut, eyebrows crunching down. You're right, Michael. If that's you, talking? He chuckled mirthlessly. You're right.

It's time I stopped ignoring what I actually am.

There was something dripping from a pipe.

It plopped onto the cold concrete underneath in a steady beat, like an endlessly echoing drum.

An outsider might follow the dripping, hoping to stop the incessant noise with the tightening of a wrench, only to find something darker than water on the ground. Warmer, too, but cooling and drying steadily.

If they turned a light onto the roof, they'd find a body laying on top of the pipes.

If they continued down the hallway, they'd find misshapen wing marks, all over the walls and floor. Bloody trails and broken bodies, blade-marks through chests and heads, sometimes slashed through necks. Lights were burst and ruined, the shattered bulbs spilling small sparks to the glass-covered ground, as though some unnatural power surge had ripped them to pieces.

Bodies of some ten people lay, dragged across the floor or simply left where someone had slaughtered them. Blood splatters across the walls betrayed swift retribution of brutal proportions.

And down the hall, seated on the stair steps of the exit, Gabriel remained as the sun crested over the hilltop and bathed the empty building in the glory of the morning light.

It filtered into the dark crevices, frightening the shadows from their sleep, revealing to the new guardian of creation the creatures waiting there.

Standing, he let the wind flow over his body, ruffling his hair and filling him with a sense of purpose that before, he had lacked.

Gabriel turned his head toward the open sky, wings slowly spreading in a show of power.

As he prepared to take off, his heart rate dropped off to nothing, vessel turned silent and dead.

He flew anyway.

Chapter Text

{Autumn, Before}

Gabriel always enjoyed being on his own.

He supposed it was why he was so independent. As much as he loved his brothers, he appreciated the freedom of not needing to rely on anyone. Dad had told him that was a good thing. He was an Archangel, after all. He was supposed to be a leader, and leaders had to work well alone.

Gabriel flew effortlessly over the Elysian Fields, wings spread wide to catch the sweeping updrafts of heat, barely requiring him to beat his wings as he swirled higher into the sky.

Closing his eyes and relaxing into the heat and light of the open air, Gabriel stopped flapping altogether, simply letting the updraft and wind carry him high above, into the bordering of Heaven and Beyond, the Aether.

Gabriel had learned of points where he could cross over into the Aether, where the world was so bright he thought he was walking on Dad's purest star. The world up there was electric, more energy and power than anyone should possess, but at the same time, so peacefully empty. Gabriel, just dreaming of it, turned his wings for an entrance, a slip between the Aether and Heaven, and dove for it.

To another angel, he just appeared to be plunging for the ground, as though he was trying to crash-land, but hitting the slip at the right speed and angle shot him through, and Heaven was gone.

The waves of mist-chilled grass, a faint, semi-transparent green, flowed silently with the breezes of the daybreak. The never-setting stars glimmered overhead, the sun blocked out in this realm, the only light the eternal glow of some unseen nightfall, where an invisible sun was setting. Twilight was endless, the galaxies of the world spun into a fading stream of mapped stars and solar systems, their imperfections too many to name and too beautiful to be called mistakes.

The air was filled with a frosty chill, so far beyond the warm light of Heaven that the universe itself seemed uncaring as to how cold the Aether was. Gabriel could feel the tendrils of ice that wreathed their way over his feathers, tipping them in clear, brilliant silvery-white.

The Aether was as wide as it was empty, a land of nothing but the most basic creation. Light, the darkness concentrated into the navy arc high above, glittering with thousands of stars. Gabriel watched the sky with a loose sense of detachment, feeling utterly small, a sensation that he - as an Archangel - experienced rarely.

The Aether had always put his world into perspective. In the grand scheme, while he was large, he was neither the centre of the universe, nor was he unimportant. He wondered, often, if he should pull Lucifer, Raphael and Michael into the vault of midnight blues and bright lights, sharp, glittering contrasts. Maybe it would convince Michael off his high horse, and Lucifer to calm with the glowing, and Raphael to stop being such a smartass.

He guessed, despite a fair amount of self-appreciation, that he was more humble than his brothers because of the Aether. He had never taken anyone else into it because he wanted it to be private, wanted this realm to be as much 'his' as he could call it, a space to just fly and think.

So he followed the curve of the ground as the world grew slowly darker, stars blinking out. Gabriel shut his eyes, continuing on the exact same path with practiced skill, a parabolic arc that extended further down the shadows.

And after a time of endless-seeming wingbeats, Gabriel opened his eyes.

The world was an inky black, no light whatsoever, an expanse of empty nothing. Until his eyes adjusted. The area took on the faint appearance of an onyx crystal cave, colour so deep he felt like he could fall into it forever, a black hole.

The Void.

The other half of the Aether, effortless transition. Where the Aether was bright, the Void was black, the perfect opposites to one another.

To most angels, the darkness was something to hate and fear, to fight, to resist and damage.

To Gabriel, it was simply the shadows underneath the light.

And so, simply forgetting whether his eyes were open or closed, Gabriel took in the sensations of the Void, the way noise traveled through it, creating a mental picture of all that he passed.

Gabriel forgot how long he spent floating through the comfortably warm darkness of the Void, unable to identify if he was moving or not, if his eyes were open or closed. For all he knew, he was just floating, unmoving, at the base of the semicircle of black, eyes closed, dreaming the sensation of movement.

He kind of wished that black would buoy him, long enough for him to fall asleep and forget the world, forget any concerns he had and just remain in the shadows for a bit. Because being an Archangel, one of God's warriors, he had to be the brightest, just to show how great their dad was. So being in the blackness didn't hurt him. It was peaceful.

And then light, a familiar wash of cold, and the grass started to appear again. Gabriel grinned as the world lit again, glowing with an ethereal energy, radiance and power.

His laughter made no sound in the airless place, as he located an exit from the Aether, back to Heaven, where by then his brothers would be waking up.

Gabriel had the most backwards sleep schedule in Heaven, and he doubted that, at a good portion of his growth now, he required any. However, Michael still slept, and often, Gabriel would wake up early for his morning fly and see Lucifer curled under Michael's wings, pressed against his brother's side in a tiny 'c' shape. Michael never seemed to react.

Raphael, though, rarely slept. Only when he needed to give information time to seep in. Admitted, he let information sink in rather often, so Gabriel guessed Raphael had a better sleep cycle than he did.

He suspected that because Gabriel went to bed after the others, and woke up long before. Some nights, he didn't even bother, napping during the day to recharge, but other than that, not bothering. He didn't feel it necessary.

Angling himself for the exit, Gabriel levelled out, breathing for a moment before shutting his eyes and hitting the proper velocity.

Which was when he was reminded of a very important lesson.

The entrance always appeared in the exact same spot in the Aether, but the same wasn't true for Heaven. The entrance-slash-exit relocated each time he used it, and as a result, could make escape difficult. But Gabriel thought he was skilled and could manage.

Which was why he opened his eyes just in time to see the tree.

Which was why his brothers woke up to the pained scream of their younger, rather than light bathing the sky.

-{[|]}-

Michael came first, while Gabriel kicked and screeched, struggling, fighting, tears streaming down his face as he tried to free his shattered wing.

"Gabriel! Gabriel, calm down, you're just-" He was interrupted by a gut-wrenching howl of agony as Gabriel's wing twisted the wrong way with his shifting movements.

"What happened?" Lucifer demanded as he touched down, concern filling his voice.

"Not sure, but he's struggling too much, I can't get him from here." Michael jumped up, careful of the branches, to try and get closer to Gabriel, who thrashed in the snarelike trees.

Raphael landed in the tree opposite, not saying anything but eyes wide with poorly concealed horror.

"He's tiring, just wait..." Lucifer murmured, watching as Gabriel's movements slowed before stopping, exhaustion overcoming even the panicked grace-boost he had received.

They started to try and clear the branches, Lucifer hovering and acting as a safety net while Michael and Raphael circled their injured sibling, cutting and tearing the twigs free. It went well, at least until Raphael gripped the wrong branch and Gabriel let out a keening wail, a grating yowl on their graces.

"Raphael, stop!" Their Father burst through the woods, in His favourite form of a man named Chuck. The Archangels immediately backed down, landing on the ground while Chuck reached for Gabriel's once-again-panicking form. "Shh... Shh, Gabriel... stop moving, you're fine. You're fine..."

Grabbing the young angel carefully, Chuck slowly untangled Gabriel's shattered wing while the golden-eyed messenger clutched to His arm, unnecessary breathing working overtime in panic and pain.

By the time Chuck finally managed to free the Archangel, Gabriel was shaking, eyes wide in shock as the Father pulled him down, against His own chest, trying to work heat back into the frozen body.

"Hey now... It's alright. Breathe, Gabriel." He encouraged, rubbing the young angel's back gently.

"Father, what's wrong with him?" Raphael crept forward, curiosity shining in his eyes.

"His wing is broken, Raphael." Chuck responded, making all of the angels flinch back with yelps of their own. "He'll be alright, don't worry. He just needs it to heal."

"So, can we help him?" Lucifer took off, hovering near Gabriel, though the panting, shivering angel didn't seem to notice or care enough to respond. Curious as to the extent of injury on the damaged limb, Lucifer reached forward cautiously, and ran light fingers over the upper edge of the wing.

Gabriel screamed as the feathers pressed on the cracked and pieced bones, pulling further from the light and heat of the outside world, closer to his Father. "Sh, Gabriel... You're alright." Chuck encouraged, running His fingers through Gabriel's hair. "You boys go find your fledglings." He instructed, turning and leading the troop away. "I'm going to help Gabriel's wing, then he can come out with you for a bit."

The three Archangels stared at the shaking bundle of gold feathers and white fabric in their Father's arms with varying levels of curiosity, anticipation, concern and sympathy, Michael hovering protectively over Chuck's shoulder like a guard dog.

Chuck had to smile slightly at that.

-{[|]}-

"Catch me, G! C'mon!" Lucifer encouraged the small angel fluttering after him, green and blue marked grey wings just barely big enough for anything more than a second in the air, already a decent flier by his size.

The slightly chubby, childish shape of Gadreel hopped after Lucifer, who backbeat his wings to escape the smaller, laughing angel.

Michael, with the diminutive Seraphiel sat on his lap, watched with amusement as Lucifer and Gadreel jumped around the grassy hill playfully. Raphael knelt on the grass a few paces away with Naomi, reading a book that Father had given them.

And finally, Gabriel. Laying some decent distance away, one eye lazily opened, half-focused on the engagements around him.

Gabriel had never bonded with one of his angel siblings, the 'guarding-slash-teaching' aspect seemed almost against his nature, the nature to fly far and fast from most things, only hanging out when he wanted to. Gabriel preferred things on his own terms.

Which, he supposed, was sort of the reason he was on the ground with his wing bound up, half drugged on poppy oil, trying not to sleep while watching his brother bounce about with a tiny fledgling.

The game had switched, and now Gadreel was chasing Lucifer, who enthusiastically kept just out of reach until Michael grinned, flicked a finger and launched Gadreel at Lucifer, who let out a surprised squawk as the smaller pounced on his back.

"Gotcha!" Gadreel cheered, tiny hands fisting into Lucifer's toga.

"Yep," Lucifer coughed, everything in his body having been double-squished when he was nailed by a baby angel, and then thrown to the ground. "yep, you got me."

"He caught you pretty good, huh Lucifer?" Michael asked with a smile, acting innocent as Seraphiel giggled.

"Yep..." Lucifer let out a wheezy chuckle, rolling onto his back and grabbing Gadreel to place on his chest. "Yeah, you did!" He exclaimed as he dug in his fingers a bit, causing the angel to squeal with delighted giggles, half heartedly pushing away from the tickling fingers.

Gabriel smiled at the ridiculousness of it, of watching his big brother with essentially a baby on his chest, laughing and playing. Lucifer rolled over, knocking Gadreel's tiny warrior body onto the ground, before both of them jumped to light stances, a pair of playful cats, before Lucifer wheeled around and darted off, Gadreel's small wings pumping as he struggled to catch up.

Seraphiel giggled at the pair, pushing off Michael's lap to stand. Lucifer whirled past her, touching her chest with enough force to push her back a step, calling, "Tag!" over his shoulder.

Seraphiel grinned, light violet wings whipping as she took off, shooting for Gadreel first. The other, flashier coloured child dodged her first strike, causing her to switch targets for Lucifer.

Lucifer was slower than normal, because he was only using his first set of wings, the other two stationary at his sides, providing little more than gliding power. He didn't, however, notice the small streak of purple that launched at him, dragging light fingers across his shoulders. "Tag!" Seraphiel exclaimed, spinning away before he could snag her back.

"Oh why you-" Lucifer swirled down, landing in front of his older brother. "Michael, your fledgling is out of control!" He gasped dramatically, hands on his hips. "You need to come up here and show her how to behave." He ordered, folding his arms with an air of joking finality.

Michael raised an eyebrow. "Do I, now?"

"Yep." Lucifer nodded, holding his nose high in the air.

"I'm... Quite fine on the ground, Lucifer." Michael shook his head.

"You don't get a choice!" Lucifer hopped closer with a wide grin, pushing on his brother's chest with three fingers. "You're 'it' now! Come get us!"

"Lucifer, you have to be-"

"Aw come on, Michael!" Lucifer reprimanded. "You too scared to admit that your little brother might be faster than you?"

A few cheered 'yeah's made it into the air from Gadreel and Seraphiel, Raphael even having glanced from his book, small smile on his lips as Naomi focussed utterly on the pages in her lap.

"Oh, is that how it is?" Michael tilted his head.

"You bet your butt." Lucifer stepped back slightly, readying himself.

Michael sighed, slowly getting to his feet. "In that case..." And with that, the streaks red and white shot into the air, the fledglings scattering with excited squeals.

Michael switched direction midway, tapping Gadreel's shoulder on his way past, the other angel immediately launching for Raphael. "C'mon Naomi, Raphael! Come play!" He encouraged, all bright smiles and relentless joy.

Raphael regarded him coolly, before making a soft humming noise. He pushed the book from his lap, closing it carefully. "Alright." Raphael jumped into the air, moving with a decent degree of clumsiness as Naomi joined the fray of fledglings with a cheer.

Raphael targeted Seraphiel first, having to use all of his wings and barely staying aloft, Lucifer giggling at his flared feathers and mistimed flaps. Until Gadreel, who had been tagged by Naomi, who had been snagged by Raphael, launched at him.

"Whoa!" Lucifer exclaimed, whirling around to fly farther off, trying to shake the fledgling on his tail.

And they played, a family growing closer while the final member lay trapped below, ensnared by his own stupidity.

He wasn't sure what that said about his future.

Instead of considering it, Gabriel curled up a little tighter, covering his face with a wing, shrouded in warm darkness and the knowledge that someone was at least watching over him.

He didn't wake up until he felt a sharp spike of pain go through the broken one, flinching with a gasp. He tried to take in his surroundings, remembering why he was in pain.

"Hey, Gold, it's alright. Calm down." A familiar voice told him, hand grabbing his head to gently press him back down. Gabriel resisted as best he could.

Seraphiel, Gadreel and Naomi were in a small angel-pile, wings and limbs splayed over each other. Gadreel was on the bottom, Naomi laying over his back with her head on his chest. Seraphiel sprawled over the two of them, wings spread out over Gadreel's head and Naomi's seemed rather comfortable, sleeping all over one another.

Raphael, a few feet away, was reading a much thicker tome, but now he glanced up to Gabriel, fixing him with a narrowed expression. To any other angel, it might've looked like disapproval, but Gabriel knew it as worry.

Lucifer was also sleeping, not far from Gabriel, red and orange-faded pinkish wings curled against his body for warmth and comfort as someone's hand threaded through his hair.

Gabriel finally registered the fact that Michael was underneath him, wings resting on either side of him in a large arc that hid Gabriel quite well. Letting himself be pushed down, he rested against Michael's stomach as the older angel's hand slid over his eyes. "There you go, Gold..." Michael whispered in a way that made Gabriel wonder if he had been awake before.

"'m awake, Mikey." Gabriel responded, though it was slightly garbled.

"Oh, so you're actually awake this time." The eldest son chuckled, slowly removing his hand.

Raphael glanced up from his book. "Michael, you know that Gabriel's grace is more highly pitched than the rest of us. It is of no surprise that he would be the one to half wake for us."

The pitch of an angel's grace determined how 'high strung' they were, how twitchy and aware. Gabriel's, as far as Dad had told him, was incredibly high for any of the Archangel's.

"What, did I say something?" Gabriel yawned, sitting up and shifting closer to the warm grace of his older brother.

"You woke up multiple times." Michael explained. "Mumbled for a moment, went back to sleep." He grazed a hand over the broken wing, making Gabriel hiss in pain.

"Mikey, off the wings!" Gabriel snapped protectively, guarding the wing.

"Not my fault you broke it hitting a tree." Michael chuckled, but his concern was evident.

"Gabriel, you are in pain again. Here, Father said we were to give this to y-" Raphael broke off to yawn. "You." Raphael held out a small container.

"Looks like you could us some yourself." Gabriel chuckled, taking the proffered bottle.

"I can fall asleep without pain rather easily." Raphael informed haughtily, looking away slightly.

"Then put away the book, Raphael." Michael encouraged gently, leaning slightly away from Gabriel and grabbing Lucifer's shoulder, pulling his younger brother against his side, chest under Michael's arm and face against his ribs. Lucifer woke slightly at the action, eyes opening blearily. "Go back to sleep, Luci." Michael told him, and with a small nod, Lucifer obeyed. The Morningstar nuzzled his face into Michael's stomach and chest, finding a comfortable enough spot to sleep on.

Raphael awkwardly moved closer as well, flopping back with his head on Michael's legs.

"Ow, hey!" The eldest exclaimed quietly.

"Hay is for Father's horses, Michael. Do try to get it right." Raphael responded in good-natured condescendence, not looking from the book resting on his chest.

"Oh, I'll show you who's right. You aren't going to last until sunset."

Raphael snorted, and Gabriel grinned at the conversation, simply pretending to be asleep. "I'll be certain to prove you wrong then."

It wasn't really long before Gabriel heard the shift of weight that marked a position change.

"...I know you aren't asleep, Gabriel." Michael murmured, and Gabriel turned to look at his older brother.

"So does that mean I win?" Gabriel pulled up his head, twisting to locate Raphael.

The other Archangel really hadn't lasted long, hands gone slack over his book, which lay over his face.

It was fairly entertaining to watch his brothers in sleep. Raphael, asleep in the same position that he had maintained while awake. Lucifer, practically hugging Michael's arm, as though he could protect it. Or maybe it could protect him.

Gabriel knew that he slept in a loose coil, like a snake. But really, Michael was the best to see.

If Michael got and held a certain degree of heat while even slightly tired, he'd just sleep. Apparently, his position mattered not, just the simple heat of his body. With his white wings, it was often difficult for him to absorb the light like a sunning lizard, so Lucifer had figured out his secret.

It had been winter, and to help keep Michael's snow-white wings warm, Lucifer had spread his set of three, significantly darker coloured wings over Michael's back. He made a quick little 'stay quiet' gesture to Gabriel and Raphael, and within minutes, Michael had slumped against Lucifer's side, snoring.

It had been fairly entertaining, to watch their eldest brother, the unshakable, indisputable brother Michael, sway side to side under Lucifer's wing, as though vaguely trying to keep awake, before his subconscious seemed to give in, letting him slide down in the nest and his head falling onto Lucifer's shoulder, eyes fluttering shut.

"There." Lucifer had said quietly. "Told you it worked." He smiled kindly, lovingly at his older brother, reaching up one hand to gently run through Michael's hair. The older angel didn't even flinch.

"He's really asleep?" Gabriel had crept closer, carefully grabbing the wrist of Michael's top wing to pull over his brother's chest. Michael didn't wake.

Which was when Raphael, the little scientist, walked right up and poked their brother firmly on the nose, much to Gabriel and Lucifer's horror.

Michael snuffled vague words before his wings subconsciously pulled up around his head, which turned further into the base of Lucifer's neck. The Morningstar stiffened briefly before relaxing, chuckling faintly at the activity. "And I'm not moving for a few hours. But now you know. You get him warm, he'll pass right out."

Gabriel looked back fondly at that day.

So now, with the poppy oil numbing his brain and the comfort of his older brother's hand on his back, Gabriel relaxed, as did Michael, evidently enjoying the heat of his siblings.

And the Archangels, their little family, slept.

{January, 1910}

Raven moved unbelievably fast.

Like a bullet, inhuman and brilliant, as though an angel, while really, the exact opposite.

Gabriel's weekend had gone poorly after one of the demons escaped from Raven's torture ring, lunging at him with a stolen angel blade.

The result for Gabriel was a broken rib and a five-inch gash in his arm, both of which he had to swallow his distaste for demons of to let Raven sew him back together.

Angel blade wounds had a nasty habit of being unable to magically heal.

She though, had crossed the clearing in a second, eyes flicking to a dangerous half-black as they tore through the demon before her. Gabriel didn't know why the thought of both Damian and Raven defending him was comforting.

She had, after that, killed the others and packed up her equipment, having expected Gabriel to have healed or flown off. He had, so far, done neither.

So, in the back of her van-thing, Gabriel had his arm stitched up, wrapped and slung by a possessed person.

Add that to the list of 'Things I Never Need Dad to Know About'. Gabriel thought as she turned on the car, pulling to the road. They hadn't talked for a bit, until Raven had pulled into an Inn, parking on the street outside, and picking her bag out of the backseat.

"Gabriel, are you flying off, or staying with me?" She had questioned casually, as though she wasn't talking to an Archangel.

"Pardon?"

"Am I getting a second bed?" She clarified, fixing him with a single raised eyebrow.

"...If you'll have me, I'll stay." Gabriel shrugged. Contrary to popular belief, he did certainly enjoy learning. And one of perhaps three vessel-demon friendships was right here before him, he was curious! That would be his defence.

Which was why he was laying on a ratty old Inn bed, in the upper floors of some old lady's house, across from a young woman who wasn't so much ignoring him as just relaxing, enjoying silence, while the smoky black form of a demon curled around her chest.

It had been strange, to watch the demon voluntarily exit her body, only to wrap it's shadowy shape around her middle, a non-living blanket. She sat there, running one hand mindlessly over the approximate middle of the formless shape, humming faintly to the tune of a song Gabriel recognized as 'Somewhere, a Voice is Calling'.

It took him an inordinately long period of time to realize how much of a bonding period this was to them, a show that they trusted each other entirely.

Gabriel lay his head on the pillow, wondering, briefly, how one could get back that kind of trust for their family.

When he opened his eyes again, not having remembered closing them, he felt an odd presence above him, hovering. Looking over the beds, Raven was watching him with a faintly happy, though suspicious and wary, smile, not even bothering with the book on her lap.

Gabriel twisted to see what was staring at him, when he was met with the demon. In smoke form.

He could feel fear and animosity from the demon, but only in minor degrees. It trusted Raven enough to know that she'd stop Gabriel before anything bad happened. The other emotion though, was curiosity. The demon, floating ominously above his head, was curious.

"...He likes you." Raven noted, though her stance, subtle as it was, never relaxed. "That's rare. I've known him to like maybe two other people, and never an angel."

"Well uh..." Gabriel tilted his head at the demon. You know I could kill you. But you're curious enough to ignore that. Huh. "...I think we're as curious about each other as you are to me."

"Sounds about right." Raven smiled, and with that, turned away, as though Gabriel had passed some kind of test.

Pulling into a straight sitting position, Gabriel smiled. "So, this is the real Damian, huh?"

There was a pause as the ghostly gas form of Damian rotated around, morphing into a thin, just-barely-drinking-age spirit, horns curving downward and weeping lines of grey from his wide red eyes. Back-canted paws brushed the floor while long, clawed fingers rested on the bedspread. His ears, triangular and slightly doglike, were pointed forward, though the left one drooped as though broken. All in all, had he not been burned, blackened, twisted and a little shattered, he would've been quite a pretty soul.

To Raven, he looked no different then the gaseous blob of normal, but to Gabriel, the true form spoke volumes.

Damian stared at him, ruffled, spiky hair a mess on his head as the red eyes caught his attention again, wincing slightly as he focused on Gabriel's true form. "...nice lightshow." Damian commented, raising one hand to guard his eyes.

"Thanks." Gabriel replied with frequencies true forms used, keeping his voice low and soft, not wanting to harm the demon. "So, you like it here?"

"Liked it enough to stick around." Damian nodded with a small grin, sharp teeth showing. "How 'bout you, angel? You liking it here?"

"On earth, or with you two?" Gabriel questioned, stretching his back for a moment.

"Earth." Damian shrugged. "Or Hell, even here. Gotta be weird for an angel to just chat with a demon, huh?"

"I don't know." Gabriel nodded to the side. "Long time ago, I met a fledgling named Kemrial. He fell because he was friends with a demon. Never found out what happened to him."

"Oh, I think I know that one. Key, is what he's called now." Damian pushed off the floor, floating further onto the bed and lying at the end of it, his batlike wings pressed close to his side and his thin, forked tail flicking like a cat's. "Diende, that's the demon. They live on Earth, now. Diende's a Crossroad's, and Key is a high ranking guard for Hell's exit."

"So that's what happened to him." Gabriel snorted slightly. "Demonized."

"Hey, just because we can't experience true happiness and love, doesn't mean we can't experience anything, angel." Damian shook his head. "I mean, I've seen worse relationships in humans."

"I suppose that's good enough then, right?"

"It has to be." Damian sighed, turning his head to look at Raven, cross-legged and staring at her book, eyes flicking side to side as she read lines and passages. Her mouth formed the words in another language, translating effortlessly. With those words, Damian judged the conversation over, his lower half returning to it's more gaseous form as his arms launching him lazily over the gap between the beds, circling Raven.

Gabriel watched as she glanced from her tome, Damian waiting as though for an invitation, and she lifted her arm up. He immediately crawled over her lap, lying there as if he belonged there, stretching his hands as though a cat, claws spread wide while he yawned, laying his head across her leg, joining her in the reading of the book.

The Archangel watching them wondered how deep trust could truly run.

Deeper than I thought, apparently.

He picked up a book of his own, translating through.

-{[|]}-

"Gabriel, up." A voice ordered, and Gabriel immediately shot awake, sitting straight up.

To come nose to nose with Damian.

The demon yelped, tumbling over backward, staring at Gabriel with wide, slightly scared eyes. He had been entirely expecting an attack.

Even without Gabriel making a move to hurt him, Damian leapt off the bed, gliding to Raven, currently standing over the cracked porcelain sink with a glass of water, and swirled around her legs before landing on her shoulders, glaring across the room to Gabriel.

"What's got you riled up?" Raven chuckled, obviously not having noticed Gabriel awake. "Ready to spend the day in a car again?"

Damian didn't reply to her, knowing she wouldn't understand him, and instead did something that Gabriel found simply impressive.

He morphed his smoke form, the one Raven could see, into an extremely accurate and detailed replica of a Husky, all puffy fur and long tail, powerful body and dense, long-limbed structure.

Gabriel had to blink in shock.

He had heard of some demons learning to take animal shapes, to blend into natural society.

Never, had he ever seen one this accurate, well-contained, or simply pretty. He looked like a show dog.

"Good, so we're on the same page." Raven stated as Damian sat down in front of the doorway with a sharp dip of his head. "Want to get reacquainted with the plan, or should we write it?" She asked, and Damian barked with a small nod. "Alright then."

Raven knelt down, and Damian relaxed into his smoke form, lazily floating around her face, as though asking permission, before she opened her mouth, taking a breath in.

And the next second, had Damian's hazy black body disappearing into Raven's mouth.

She stood up, shaking her head with a blink, eyes appearing differently. One was normal, one was entirely black. Leaning back with a soft groan, she shook her head, popping her spine and readying herself for something. She stood, eyes shut and body relaxed, while Gabriel got to his feet and put on clean clothes.

Then she knelt back down, and Damian poured back out.

"You have to be careful, got me?" She ordered as the now-doglike shape of Damian purred around her legs, then bounded for the door, morphing into ash before swirling under the door, vanishing into the outside world.

"Where's he going?" Gabriel questioned as she packed up, throwing weapons into bags. "Alone?"

"He's playing chaser. We need a hunter out of the way, so he's going to go lay some sulphur and keep people off our tail." Raven answered, checking the sharpness of a small handblade.

"And if he gets caught?"

"The collar." She tapped a hex bag in that was taped to her hip. "It's enchanted. He gets caught, he can call me. It'll lead me straight to him, help me get him out."

"...Huh." Gabriel smiled at the thought of a friendly demon. "And what else?"

"We get in the car. I'm taking you back to your Bunker, and meeting up with him on the way out of town." Raven ordered. "You've already been out too long, and I'm not about to piss off Marcus because I stole his Archangel."

Gabriel sighed, picking himself off the bed. "Let's go, then..." He mumbled, joining her down the stairs as they trotted for her car, still on the street.

-{[|]}-

As it turned out, Damian got himself in trouble, because midway through their lunch, Raven flinched with multiple swears.

"We gotta go. Pull out that angel blade, Damian's in trouble." She snapped, throwing a handful of cash on the table and barely pausing to pick up her coat as she darted from the establishment, getting in the buggy and pushing it as fast as it could go.

Before Gabriel knew what was even going on a bit, they were pulling off the road beside a dilapidated barn, Raven racing around to the back seat, cocking a shotgun - loaded with salt - with one hand, throwing it at Gabriel, while she pulled out a brilliantly dangerous weapon.

Gabriel knew that Vance would've drooled over it, but the modified, dark-wooded Ross Mk. III rifle was no popgun. And it definitely wasn't filled with salt.

Raven loaded it skillfully, barely an inch of hesitation as she held it, point down, against her torso. "...In case." She growled.

The pair snuck close to the building, listening and waiting for the proper moment to strike. Raven nodded to the side, drawing Gabriel closer as they snuck under a broken chunk of wall, creeping into the dusty confines of the barn.

The gaseous form of Damian pinged around a cylindrical area, unable to step beyond the trap on the roof. A human, male, maybe thirties, watched him with muted interest, every so often mumbling a line of an exorcism, just to watch him squirm.

Raven didn't hesitate.

Gabriel watched in semi-horror as she swung the gun to her shoulder, focused down the sight, and without so much as a flinch, pulled the trigger.

The man's head wasn't split with a deafening crack, blood and grey matter sprayed across the floor in a painting of destruction, like Gabriel expected.

Instead, the shot went into the base of his neck, a guarantee for slow, long bleed outs and suffocating on his own blood.

Gabriel's jaw dropped.

He knew that Damian, the demon, hadn't been influencing that shot one bit. He hadn't changed her trajectory, from his head to his chest. That had been all Raven.

Raven who ran to the middle of the room, aimed at the roof and broke apart the outer ring on the devil's trap.

Damian, who had been crouched against the floor, as though expecting to be returned to Hell, immediately shot for her, and she breathed in, encouraging the demon to come back to what she considered 'safety' for him.

For a few minutes after, while Gabriel kept watch, they simply kneeled, her arms wrapped around herself, face scrunched up as they convinced each other that they were fine, Raven humming a shaky song that Gabriel definitely didn't recognize, as though she had written it herself.

Gabriel wondered, honestly, what that was like.

True, worried fear for another being.

He wondered if he'd feel it again.

...Probably not.

{February, 2014}

Gabriel flew fast.

The airways were clear, alone, so desperately cold and dark that Gabriel could swear he was the only thing so far alive.

He turned his head for the north, wings twisting to accommodate the change in direction, the wind rippling over his feathers as he beat them a few times, accelerating toward the north with no dilutions as to how his meeting was going to go.

Gabriel stared at earth with narrowed eyes, observing the starry patterns of human souls that covered the earth, those concentrated in cities glittering brightly, other, smaller dots of light peppering the landscape with houses for farmers, families together.

Gabriel pointedly ignored those, and followed the hum of grace.

He was hunting.

Archangel instincts had cut back on his powers initially, his own indecision his greatest enemy, but now his senses were starting to kick back into full gear. He had finally accepted the basest of his instincts, simply wielding them as though a blade, through which angelkind would be burned.

He would crush the fools in his way and then fly to Heaven, and he would rip Metatron into pieces.

He would shred Metatron's wings, pluck off every feather and fillet the meat from his bones. He would rip out his grace as that evil, lying, sack of crap did to Castiel, the little baby angel that damnit, Gabriel loved.

If the angels were a pack of ferocious dogs, dangerous and wild, but still close together and partners, then Gabriel was a panther.

His golden fur, shimmering through the concrete jungle of the cities and towns where he was the top of the food chain, was a mark of death for the creatures, the dogs he stalked.

Watch out, boys. Gabriel's grace purred with the promise of blood on his hands. Archangel's coming home.

-{[|]}-

An Archangel's bloodlust was to a lesser angel what a Wendigo's wrath was to a hunter.

All vicious and brutal, cruel and unthinking. The Wendigo didn't stop to consider it's prey, just it's hunger. It saw food, and thought 'eat'.

And yet, through all that, it was still intelligent.

A Wendigo would mimic a human's cries, drawing in more prey as it strung up the first victims, preserving them for a few extra weeks, giving it more food.

Gabriel found himself frequently comparing his and his brother's basest instincts to those of the Wendigo that had tried to kill him less than a week ago.

It moved fast, but not fast enough. When it took off the ground with a roar, long claws spread wide to pounce on the human-ish creature before it, it wasn't expecting the person to whirl around with his wings summoned, slamming the Wendigo across the clearing and into a tree, shattering the decades-old oak with a single stroke.

The Wendigo scrambled to it's feet, obviously unused to being fought back against. Gabriel spread his wings, hooding them behind his back and over his shoulders, staring off with the thing twice his height and weight.

This was what Gabriel considered the first test. The Wendigo shot for him, all claws and teeth, snarling and slavering as it tried to bite through his wings and body, while Gabriel didn't even bother to pull out his blade.

At least the Men of Letters taught me that... He thought, grace lighting fires on his fingertips that wreathed his hands and lapped at his arms, an icy heat that reminded him of Sodom and Gomorra, with it's rain of fire.

And while he hadn't been the one to light the bright red tongues of flame, the golden and blue ones that charred bodies so quickly it seemed more like a blessing to die so fast, those were his.

And that was what turned the Wendigo to nothing but ash.

Gabriel left the smouldering pile on the ground, only a fleeting thought running through him of other hunters.

Was anyone on this case? Did I just kill their Wendigo? He wondered briefly, eyes flicking around the forest.

Some tiny part of him, the part that still wanted him human, piped up.

Is Sam he-

NO!

Gabriel gripped his head as the emotions flowed over him, a wave of ice that threatened to drown him before he forced it back, damming up he flood that loomed above him.

He couldn't think about Sam. Sam was taken, a prisoner to an angel that Gabriel was going to shred slowly. He didn't have time for that. He'd come back and get Sam when he knew that he could protect the hunter.

Because even his Archangelic side had gone and gotten itself attached.

But he had a mission first. Protect the humans, defend Heaven. The angels were ripping earth apart with their petty squabbles over who got the honour of killing Metatron. And nobody, Gabriel knew, was shanking that bitch but him.

But the angel war was killing as many humans as angels, the vessels left to die from fatal burns and knife wounds. Fully aware that it could not sustain itself, Gabriel was under no illusions that they needed to unite. Which was why he was going to hunt down and kill the top ranking angels in the factions, scattering them until they reunited as one.

He knew it was a twisted, broken, flawed logic, but it was, for the moment, the best plan he had. Until a better one could be formed, he was stuck with nowhere to go.

He only had Archangel instincts to rely on now, not his supposed family, not his preferred family, not anyone. It was all up to him now, and damn him if he would fail his duty again.

Somewhere, in the back of his mind, the strains of a song played, as though on repeat, an echo of something once present, now lost.

"Oh boys... Oh boys... The devil's come for you...

The sky... it is dark, and he's come to collect his due...

You forget, what you are... you forget it every day.

Now you're here. All alone. And Hell, has come to pay."

-{[|]}-

Gabriel landed outside of a hospital, where he had managed to snag knowledge that Trismegistus, one of Bartholomew's leaders, was hiding out. At least twelve angels circled the place in vessels, another three currently hiding out missing them, waiting for some human with a weak soul and weaker mind to give in to their weakening body and let in a damn angel.

A friggin' angel. Like he needed more of those to deal with.

Gabriel hid himself from sight without so much as a sigh of impatience and waited, standing a few feet from the door as he watched for an angel to catch. He needed a victim, someone to take the guise of and get information from.

I need to stop getting lucky. Gabriel reflected briefly as an angel, young with soft, sable-shaded wings, stepped out of the hospital, pulling out a cigarette. The angel stuck it between his lips, shielding it with one hand as he lit it, briefly pausing to take a breath in, exhaling through the nose.

Gabriel materialized, stepping forward to clap one hand over the angel's mouth, his blade flashing to life without a second thought, pressing a line of bright red into the other's throat. "One squeak, I kill you, got it?" Gabriel stated, monotone voice bleeding with a calm sense of control.

The angel swallowed, but no true voice bled through his vessel in an attempt to call his friends. Gabriel yanked back, walking the blonde-haired angel down the steps and around the corner, out of the way of prying eyes.

Pinning the angel against the wall, Gabriel tapped his blade to their throat, then desummoned his weapon and placed his hand over the angel's chest. "What's your name." It wasn't a question, more a demand.

"A-Adiel, s-sir!" The angel exclaimed after a few moment's hesitation, staring at the hand on his ribs, directly over the core of his grace.

"How many angels are in this building." Gabriel snapped again, forcing the angel's attention back on him.

"I-I-"

"Better question: Who's in charge?" The Archangel growled out, eyes glittering with the faintest trace of his true form as he pushed down slightly.

"B-Barth-Bartholomew i-is d-dead... Castiel k-killed h-him." Adiel stammered fearfully.

Castiel, Castiel... Unimportant. Combatant, but- Oh, Cas. Yeah. Right.

The memory lapse was strange, unpleasant, and rather disturbing. Gabriel quickly shook off his discomfort and returned to the angel in front of him.

"Well, he's out of the picture. Who's in charge now?" Gabriel leaned closer, fingers sinking into Adiel's skin, his true form reaching within, surrounding Adiel's slowly.

"N-no, please-" The angel struggled slightly, pushing with panicked insistence on Gabriel's arm.

"Answer me, who. Is. In. Charge?" Gabriel snarled, louder, true voice hissing behind his words. The grace sunk deeper, blood spots blooming beneath his vessel's skin. It's an angel, you can't feel a soul in here. It's just the angel. The comforting mantra he kept was the only thing keeping him in control. The blue sheen of grace also tinged the bruises, torn scraps of the grace that Gabriel was filleting.

"W-wh-"

"Too slow." Gabriel meant for his voice to sound like a growl, but it comes out more as a quiet sigh. In one smooth, effortless movement, Gabriel's grace sunk all the way through, clawing around the other's grace before tearing through skin, bone and other human body parts that simply gave way under his power. The angel choked, shock evident on his face.

Gabriel raised the fistful of struggling angel to his face, blood and fluid dripping down his arm in a languid few drips. He rotated his arm considerately, making a dull humming noise in the back of his throat as he examined the angel. Every movement he made was deliberate and overly calm. "...way too slow." He murmured, tightening his hand around the angel. It writhed in panic, the small barrier of defence it had thrown up buckling, crushing it's light down and tighter. And finally Gabriel tilted his head to the side, and snuffed it out. The angel's dying screech was little more than background noise by the time it registered.

With a soft exhale, Gabriel turned around and hopped back up the steps into the hospital, ready to start his hunt.

And as he walked past the waiting room, where a group of children sat, he took note of a song that they were singing.

"This little light of mine... I'm gonna let it shine...
This little light of mine... I'm gonna let it shine...
This little light of mine... I'm gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine..."

-{[|]}-

Gabriel stalked the halls of the hospital with purpose, head down and eyes shadowed, flicking back and forth between people. If they weren't angels, they were disregarded.

Civilians. Try to protect the humans. He reassured himself, ducking just behind a corner and acting casual as a nurse walked past, pushing a sealed metal cart. Gabriel would've, just to create a diversion, made the cart's front tires stop, but hospitals commanded a good degree of his respect. He wouldn't screw around with lives in the balance.

Instead, he simply changed his direction, waiting beside a mechanical door for someone else to come out. When the doors finally opened wide, a brunette stepping out, Gabriel pulled up a trickster illusion, making himself appear as another nurse before he caught one of the double-doors in his hand, sweeping inside unnoticed.

Gabriel trotted down the hall, only keeping up the fake cover until he turned a corner, the first victim on his list dead ahead.

The female angel carried an empty tray, shining silver in the hallway lights. She met his eyes a second before she realized what was about to happen, but by the time she could call for help, Gabriel had already thrown his blade at her head. The point buried itself in her brain, leaving her to stand, the human within her locked up, unable to move as the nerves all fired in death throes.

Gabriel moved quickly, catching her falling body before yanking the blade from her skull, dragging the nurse's limp form with him.

He wound up tucking the body in a supply room, behind a gigantic metal cabinet with enough space between it and the wall to well, hide a body. After that, he took her image, and replicated the angel's grace as well as he could.

But he was done pretending. He didn't want to come out and say 'look, in the sky, the Archangel Gabriel is fucking alive!' That would be too forward, like painting a gigantic target on his back.

Creeping through the halls, Gabriel turned the corner and ducked into a doorway back to the main floor. The church minister, as he could sense, was an angel. He was the second closest one, and these were all combatants. He'd need to move fast. It wouldn't be long before someone figured out the voices were silencing.

He checked the hallway before releasing the disguise, pushing open the doorway as himself again. He had a feeling that Loki's energy was about to become very useful.

His blade was pressed to the inside of his wrist under his sleeve, completely unseeable to any passerby as he silently marched through, pausing at the side of the open door at the church.

He hated the thought of entering one of his Father's houses after so long, and with such dishonour to the Archangels hanging in his grace, but there was an angel within. And he had a job to do.

Gabriel stalked through the doors, walking rather quickly down the row between the pews.

"Ah, hello." The angel greeted with a soft wave, glancing up for only a second. It took him longer than that to realize, the person coming closer wasn't a human.

He didn't have time to scream when Gabriel plunged his blade into the angel's chest.

The man choked, the grace within him glittering and burning around the fatal wound, and Gabriel caught his falling form, quickly dragging him into the back of the church's stage, kicking the body under the fabric that ringed the perimeter.

The carpet'll absorb most of the blood. I'll be gone before they find this body. He reasoned to himself before desummoning his blade and flying to the next level. With angels down, he had flight access without detection up to the third floor.

In a corner of the fourth, his third target resided.

Patient, male. In a hospital bed. This would be the worst to take, Gabriel knew. He had to get into the room, then manage to keep the nurses off long enough to finish the kill. And somehow, prevent them from finding the body.

Joy.

-{[|]}-

The bodies left in Gabriel's wake were hidden, as best they could be, under tables and behind cabinets, in the dark spaces where antiseptic and bleach turned the world into a chemical-scented nightmare.

The shadowed hallways reminded him of some spaces in Heaven, little sections that no one talked about and fewer people knew of.

Gabriel knew of them.

He took the stairs two at a time, trying to press down the instinct to just fly to the final two targets, a female angel on the eighth floor and Trismegistus on the sixth.

The female, he knew, would be of use to him later. He'd handle her last.

Trismegistus, though, there was a fight.

Gabriel had been slashed only twice with a blade, two of nine angels actually spotting him in time to engage in a half-second of futile combat, before Archangel power and strategy won out and they were ended.

This particular bitch angel, though, had strategy and experience equal to his own. After all, Trismegistus was an old Rit Zien. He would fight for everything he had hold of, and it would be a bitter battle. Not even an Archangel would be able to overcome a Rit easily.

And as for catching Trismegistus by surprise, the Rit would probably sense him the minute he set foot on the floor, the amount of internal turmoil he was throwing off.

Not that Gabriel cared.

He flipped his bloodstained knife around his hand a few times, the silver underlay of a thin burgundy shimmering brightly. His grace lay still within his vessel as he silently jumped up the last of the stairs.

He wondered, briefly, if this was how he'd be remembered to angels. Not as the Trickster, not as the Archangel who ran away. But as the hunter, the killer. The angel who stalked others, his vessel silent and dead, unidentified and dangerous. He was an assassin, the wolf in a flock of sheep, capable of cloaking himself in one of their skins and keeping his head down just long enough to lure one away.

He found himself indifferent.

Pushing open the door to floor six, Gabriel turned his senses for the glowing spot of reddish-pink light, a Rit Zien hiding out. Their grace was differently coloured, not too much less-bright than his own. Rolling his shoulders down and back, Gabriel trotted casually down the hall, humming faintly the tune of a song he randomly thought of, uncertain of it's name.

When the glowing red ball of Trismegistus finally realized he was there, Gabriel had gotten more than halfway across the building. Five more minutes, he'd be in the Rit's office.

Gabriel couldn't help but notice the panicked twisting of the red-pink grace, something the Rit shouldn't've been doing. If Trismegistus played his cards right, chances are that he could actually escape the Archangel currently tracking him. At least temporarily.

That was another problem with Rit Ziens; They could see through grace illusions. Which meant that Trismegistus knew who was coming for him, knew that there was an angel, far more dangerous than himself, coming in for a kill.

Gabriel's instincts sang for grace to spill, to pour over the floor as if he was nothing more than an honourless killer.

Looking at it then, he supposed he was.

Gabriel kicked in the door of Trismegistus' office.

The angel had taken the vessel of a young human male, thin and powerful. Evidently a sportsman, a runner, powerful legs and body. Perfectly done lady-killer hair, soft blue eyes... He reminded Gabriel slightly of a younger, shorter haired-

He cut off that thought just in time to dodge the blade thrown at his head.

The silver blade dug itself a clean six inches in the drywall and probably concrete, because Gabriel could see the molecules of silicone and carbon, forming rock and body behind the papery thinness of drywall.

"...Gabriel, this fight does not concern you." Trismegistus growled darkly as he pulled his blade back to his hand, other palm tinged with pink energy, the Rit in him reacting to the agonized angel across the desk.

"On the contrary," Gabriel snarled, summoning his own blade with a soft noise. "this fight concerns me more than you." He lunged forward, vaulting the desk as Trismegistus darted around the side, barely dodging the first strike. "I'm sorry about this." The Archangel sighed, kicking the swivel chair out of the way as he stalked forward. "It's nothing personal."

Trismegistus let out a low hum, true form spreading through the air as he tried to convince the other, sick angel before him to stand down, but no Rit had ever actually tried to take down an Archangel. Which was why, when Gabriel unleashed his true form and towered over the other angel, Trismegistus took a step back.

Gabriel shot forward, the desk slammed into the opposite wall as his wings flapped powerfully, flinging objects and papers in a swirl around the room, slashing down as the other angel tried to block him, the glowing red hand landing on Gabriel's wrist.

And his true form lit up with agony, sparks and bolts shooting up his spine down to the tips of his wings, Loki's magic blocking most of the physical damage but almost none of the pain.

Gabriel howled, kicking Trismegistus in the stomach to throw them apart, cradling his hand against his chest and rubbing it gently.

"Ok, retract my former statement." Gabriel hissed, eyes alight with golden glow. "Now it's personal."

Trismegistus' vessel swallowed hard as he realized what he had done; namely, piss off an Archangel. Gabriel fired forward, grace flared to it's widest, paper whirling around the room as he let out a roar, blade lighting up with golden-yellow and blue fire, meeting the Rit's blade in a shower of flaming sparks.

Trismegistus had braced for the blow, but nowhere near how much he needed to be. His vessel's left tabula and fibula, the main guard, bowed and snapped like twigs beneath Gabriel's powerful strike. Immediately, the Archangel shot backward as Trismegistus' cream wings sprang to life around him, throwing up a defensive layer.

The red edging on the middle third of the Rit's primary and secondary feathers glowed with a dangerous pink light, a sign that he was ready to fight, well and truly. Trismegistus' eyes glimmered dangerously between sharp feathers, alight with pain and anger.

Gabriel drew up his shoulders and then dropped them, his wings flaring from his shoulders in a huge whoosh, all three sets arching upward as the pair stared each other down, sizing themselves compared to the other.

Trismegistus had a Rit's ability of grace-burning death energy, but Gabriel was faster and stronger. Plus, Trismegistus would be expecting his ability to work almost immediately in crippling the Archangel, while Loki's energy would protect him from the majority of the damage.

So Gabriel waited, for Trismegistus' Rit instincts to work against him, force his hand first. Archangels had near-infinite patience, and he could play with a lesser angel all day.

It was kinda fun, anyway, to play.

Like a cat with a mouse.

Trismegistus lept forward with a furious cry, wings spread at his sides, red burning off them as Gabriel ducked under, his own triple set wrapping tightly to his compact body before flaring open and tapping the corner of the Rit's left wing.

The action threw his opponent off-balance, crashing into the wall opposite and barely moving in time to avoid Gabriel's punch, cracking bricks as he smashed the concrete to pieces.

Trismegistus swirled around the other side, hovering a good half-foot off the ground, wings struggling to flap in such a small space, while Gabriel used his a completely different way.

Half folding his wings and planting the wrists on the ground, Gabriel raised himself off the floor, as if flying but using his wings as enormous stilts. He jumped forward, slashing through the corner of Trismegistus' wing, the Rit's other wing coming around to scrape over his own feathers, pressing down ferociously over his right top wing.

Gabriel shouted in pain, dropping his centre left wing to the ground, raising up his left top and punching Trismegistus in the face.

The other angel carted off-balance, wings caught between gliding and hovering as he fell back, landing on the table in a heap. Shooting forward with a growl, Gabriel drove his blade into where Trismegistus' head would've been, if the bastard would stop moving around.

Gabriel paused, listening for a second as Trismegistus circled around back quickly, before ripping the flaming blade from the aged wood and whirling about, launching the weapon from his fingers effortlessly and with deadly accuracy.

The pained shriek that Trismegistus let out told Gabriel he had hit his mark.

Focusing properly on the Rit, Gabriel noted that he had indeed struck him practically perfectly, the blade pinning the angel to a wall by his wing, stabbed clean through the wrist joint.

Gabriel sighed, listing to the side and lifting his burned, weak wing off the ground as the others slowly relaxed, lowering his feet to the floor. He walked over slowly as Trismegistus scrabbled weakly at the blade embedded in his already charred wings. He wouldn't be flying long distances anytime soon.

The Rit was crying, silent tears running down his cheeks as his blackened hands pulled and scratched at the blade, wreathed in Archangel's fire, that was locking him against the wall.

Normally, Gabriel would be struck by such profound fear in the angel's eyes, the horror and realization, the thought of 'I don't want to die!'

Now, he felt indifferent to it.

Gabriel shoved Trismegistus' hands away from the hilt of the blade, taking it in his own hand instead. Without any words or other indication, Gabriel braced Trismegistus' wing to the wall and yarded out the blade, immediately turning to stab it into the Rit's throat.

Trismegistus made a faint choking noise, kicking at Gabriel as his grace burned, physically charring his vessel from the inside out, ripping through with the finesse and force of a freight train.

All that was left was a husky, drippy, ashen corpse and the Rit Zien's pretty wings turned to black imprints on the walls when Gabriel finally pulled out his blade.

Cleaning it off on the corner of his shirt, Gabriel searched the room with careful scrutiny, leaning down to start sifting through pages scatters on the floor. Few had information he cared about, but enough did. Enough that Gabriel started forming a seriously bad-good idea. Castiel-Purgatory-Soul-God level bad-good.

He folded up the pertinent sheets of paper and slid them into his pocket for later. He had just the man in mind to handle the small outposts of angels marked out on the huge wall-map. Unfortunately, he'd have to come back to get that.

Because there was still that one female angel two floors up.

The female angel was young. New, inexperienced.

Absolutely no idea what she was getting into, or how to sense and fight what was coming for her.

Gabriel peeked around a corner with a dark promise in his eyes, tracking each of the human souls that bustled around the building. The molecules and cells of their bodies glittered as their souls shone through, painting a beautiful picture of life.

He had no eyes for it today.

The sharp, harsh blue-white of grace glittered beyond a wall, where the angel stood, simply humming and flipping through sheets of the patient she was assigned to. Her orders had been to pretend to be a normal human nurse, serving and tending to humans.

What angels were meant to do.

After checking the hallway, he moved forward with swift assurance, blade dropping into his palm easily.

Gabriel rounded the corner, grabbed the angel's throat and slammed her against the wall, listening to her panicked squeaks as she pushed uselessly against his arm.

"Open your radio." He snarled, blade digging into her neck and trickling a long, thin line of red down her collarbone.

"W-what?" She stammered, struggling, her grace writhing in her vessel.

"Open. Your angel. Radio." He ordered, eyes glowing gold with power. "And not to your faction, everyone."

She let out a shaky nod, trying to be steady and failing. "O-ok, i-it's open."

"Listen up." Gabriel growled low, the light in his eyes stepping up a few notches. "This goes out to every angel out there." He announced, hearing the steady rise-fall, high pitched hum of the other angel's true voice spreading out over the angel radio. "To all combatants, and non combatants, pay attention." The snarl, the hiss in his voice was evident only to the angel directly in front of him, not wanting his name known yet. "Combatants, I'm coming. And oh yeah..." He grinned joylessly, a terrifying barring of teeth. "I am coming to kill you. Noncombatants, you have my protection and blessing. Combatants..." He murmured with finality. "Listen to the cries of your sibling, and know this is no joke."

The angel looked at him with wide, confused eyes, finishing the message quietly.

And Gabriel shoved his blade through her second rib, downward, into the heart of the human. With a single twist, he felt the silent, cold, cruel blade shake slightly with the final, struggling beats of her heart.

"...Have fun with that, angels."

-{[|]}-

Gabriel knocked on the metal door of the old bomb bunker, stepping back with his arms at his sides rather than in his pockets, one folded slightly under his shoulder to support the rolled up map he had stolen from Trismegistus' office.

A man - past middle age and slightly overweight, with a receding and greying hairline - opened the door, suited body and air of unamused professionalism screaming 'demon' before Gabriel even took a second glance at him.

At least this King's professional... Gabriel thought as the man's eyes widened, flicking briefly to his demonic red, before darting back inside and slamming the door.

Gabriel heard at least three locks click before footsteps fled down the hall. Of course, I get the slow service... He thought with a sigh.

"Hey!" He yelled, knocking harder on the door. "Hey, I'm not here to hurt you, I just need to talk!"

There was no reply for the longest time, before finally the locks slowly slid out, and a demon poked a single red eye between the cracks of the door.

"Hello." Gabriel greeted shortly. "I need to talk to Crowley, if the Winchesters let him out."

"...Crowley's not here." The demon responded, looking suspicious when Gabriel didn't take a step forward or try to charge in.

"Ok, well, can I speak to whoever leads this little section?" He questioned. "I have information on Heaven's movements on Earth that they might find important."

Long hesitation as the demon considered his words and threat level. "...I can call Becka. She runs this base." The demon nodded, shutting the door and locking it back up before heading off down the hall. Gabriel stood outside in the half-frosted air, though temperature didn't affect him one bit. The only thing it did was make him almost hyper-aware of his non-breathing. It made him feel awkward enough that he actually wanted to start inhaling and exhaling again, at least until the locks ground open once more, and a female demon appeared in the doorway.

She was taller than he was, but not by much. Only an inch or two, technically, but it looked like five or six because of the heels she was in. Her hair was soft brown, streaked with platinum silver, eyes gleaming with the midnight blue that deemed her a powerful demon. Her outfit, a professional looking dress suit, accented her already sleek figure. "...Good afternoon, Archangel." She said, voice light and with deceptively suspicious calmness.

"Hi." Gabriel dipped his head. "Let's ignore the pleasantries," He stated, all playfulness lost from his tone. "I have information, about angels."

She narrowed her eyes at him, deep navy wings flicking behind her. The action made Gabriel take a glance back, seeing the three other demons crouching behind, staring at him with wide, scared eyes. "...And why would you give up information about your own species?"

"Because I want them back in Heaven as badly as you do. Or, if you don't care, as badly as your employer does. Crowley needs to get his ass back in-"

"Crowley is no longer in charge." Becka purred smoothly, the midnight in her eyes shifting colour slightly, to a lighter blue.

"Well, then who should I take this information to?" Gabriel tilted his head.

"Abbadon."

Gabriel was certain that if his heart was beating, it would've stopped. He knew that name. The one Knight Of Hell with even a sliver of a chance at being alive.

"...Abbadon." He repeated in an unreadable, flat tone. There was a long pause as the demon looked awkwardly to the side and Gabriel tried to process it into his growing plan. Without Crowley, he'd have a lot more struggle dealing with demons, especially if a Knight Of Hell was leading the charge now. "...then I assume she won't wish to see me... alright, then can I come in?" He asked, taking a step forward.

Becka positioned herself expertly in front of him, blocking his entry. "I have reason to doubt your apparent lack of malicious intent against me, Archangel."

"I just don't want the papers to blow away. It's just me working on the ground right now, I need some kind of backplay team." He held out the map. "But if you don't want me inside, here." He placed the map in her arms, then the folded pages and a couple files he stole. "Information. Decipher what you can." And with that, Gabriel flew away, leaving a group of very stunned demons in his wake.

-{[|]}-

Gabriel's memory lapses were starting to get crazy.

He had lost the last week, and reasons he was in Salt Lake City were pretty foggy, though, once he woke up, he understood. Salt Lake was damn near crawling with angels.

Worst of all, he thought he had a guess for what was causing the lapses.

Archangel grace was unique in a lot of ways, mostly though, in it's makeup. While most angels were just angels, created and born with grace, and as such could be disconnected from it, Archangels couldn't. They were made of and from grace, and as a result, their personality wasn't quite tied in with the energy.

Their instinct, however, was.

Their most base form, what was called the Colour Form, was perfectly wired into their grace. In that form there was no conscious thought, just basic commands. He could recognize friend and foe, sort of, and he could fight without remorse. None of the Archangels ever had to spend more than a few days, maybe a week in Colour Form before being pulled out of it, but Gabriel had the oddest feeling that if he gave in - which, he realized, he already partially had - he'd never come out.

Gabriel only had to truly go fully into Colour Form near the beginning of humanity, when his Father assigned him to cull the giants.

And by all things holy, did he ever wreak some havoc.

He woke up to Lucifer cradling him, whispering words of calming comfort. "You scared me, Gold." He had whispered with wide eyes. "You wouldn't come out of it. Like it had you trapped."

Gabriel never admitted that, right before his memory faded, he did remember. He remembered the power flooding his body, the simultaneous heat and cold. The roar of the dam breaking, letting out the dragon that hid within the wolfskin. And that power hold him captive, wrapping him in a righteous sense of satisfaction and anger.

It had taken all of them to hold him back, and each one of them had to work to get him to return to himself.

Gabriel remembered when each of his brothers shifted into Colour Form, and how, while they were difficult to drag free, they weren't nearly impossible.

Like he was.

So he guessed, if he went Colour, he'd never come out.

Which was why Salt Lake was a dangerous place to be.

He was surrounded by combatants. You could tell which angels were combatants because their grace burned high and fast, rather than slow and calm, considerate.

The hundreds, thousands of souls in the area flickered with their bright colours, human and ignorant to the fact that creatures so much more dangerous than anything they could create or have with them, the dark, oily spots of demons and light blue-ice flickers of angels.

It was then that he saw the noncombatant.

A single angel, grace glowing mutedly through an apartment wall, obviously warded to the sky and back, paced around the room, his barely visible figure pausing every few seconds by the window, as though checking.

A noncombatant. Gabriel thought, staring at the grace on the thirty-eighth floor of the apartment complex. So they do exist.

He watched the angel circle the room with curiosity, his worry palatable even from that distance. The poor angel, grounded an now, stuck in a city full of angels, was unable to escape without impression into one of the sides or death.

I should help him. Get him out of the city. Gabriel thought, staring unabashedly at the confused, lost, hapless angel who was stuck within a guillotine of picking something he didn't want to do, or death.

Gabriel's eyes narrowed as he made up his mind, standing from the rickety Starbucks chair outside in the snow and starting down the street for a crosswalk.

When he made it inside the building, Gabriel gently stomped off his boots, shook the snow from his hair and made his chest move in and out without actually taking in any air. He did blend in more than most angels, having spent a good few centuries on the planet. After a moment of rubbing free of snow, he walked to the elevator, signalling to the woman at the desk. "Got a friend here." He explained with a friendly smile, keeping up a pleasant appearance until the elevator door open at the button's command, and he stepped inside. Then the facade dropped as if it never existed, replaced instead with cold determination.

When he reached the floor he wanted, Gabriel turned to the north side of the building, using his measures of the windows from watching the young angel to judge where exactly he would be. Knocking on door 3811, Gabriel let his hands fall to his sides and waited.

A young man, bright orange hair and pale hazel-blue eyes stared at him in suspicion, then fear, then confusion and recognition.

The door shut, a chain sliding from it, then opened fully, revealing person within.

Who spoke a single word.

"...Riel?"

The angel gaped in obvious disbelief, observing him with his jaw dropped. "Riel, what in the livid- look, what are you doing here? Where did you go?"

Gabriel was as confused as the angel before him. Evidently, this young one recognized him, even if the same was not true in reverse. "Pack your things." Gabriel ordered, pushing the angel inside. "I'm getting you out of Salt Lake."

"Riel, stop, hold on," The angel cut him off with a sharp shove to the chest. "what are you on about? I mean, yeah, that's great, but what's going on with you?" The angel's wings, soft-looking and sky blue, bristled behind him in anger. "Don't you recognize me?"

I'm not certain what you mean by- Och. Gabriel's eyes widened, and for a half second he wondered if he could make it all better now. If he could regain his humanity and go back to being himself. Instead, he crushed it down. "Yes, I do, Och. Now pack up, we have to hurry."

"Riel, you're gonna do what, through Salt Lake City? We're dead. So dead." Och backed up, pressing his hands to his face and sliding them up to brush through his hair. "Riel, I don't know what you're on about, but there's no way."

"You're a noncombatant, almost a civilian. I need to get you out." Gabriel answered simply.

"And you need to back up. Riel, I thought you were a freaking dream for the longest time, where the fuck did you get dug out of?" Och obeyed, throwing items into a small bag as he talked.

"Och, I just need to get you out, and to do that," Gabriel spread his wings out while talking, sensing for other angels. "we have to move, before someone figures out I'm h-"

"Holy shit."

There was a thump as a bag hit the floor.

Gabriel turned around, only to catch Och staring at his wings, particularly the huge top and small, thin bottom pairs. The angel's mouth opened and closed as though trying to make words, but no sound came out.

"...Och?"

"You're a fucking Archangel?!"

Gabriel wondered, for a moment, if perhaps Och had either spent too much time in a bar, or picked up some bad habits from another angel. "...yes."

Och scrambled for a moment, searching Gabriel and the room. "I-I'm so, sorry sir." He panted, trying to tidy up. Gabriel quickly darted in, grabbing the angel's wrist and forcing him to turn away.

"Och, look..." Gabriel murmured, more kind and comforting than he had been in almost two months. "You're fine. I'm not here to give you an assignment or to tell you what to do." Gabriel took his hand off the angel's wrist and moved it to his shoulder. "I just need to get you out of here, alright? It's not safe."

"...You're not here to... order me to go to the factions?" Och looked honestly confused, eyebrows narrowed and a slightly unhappy head-tilt thing going on.

"Father, no." Gabriel shook his head. "The only reason I'm not-" Killing you. "The only reason I'm here is to get noncombatants like yourself out."

Och examined him, looking for chinks in the armour, any reason that he might've been telling a falsehood, but found none. "...Ok." Och agreed with a soft nod. "But we have to get out my friend too."

"Yes, the other fledgling... Um, Eth?" Gabriel knuckled between his eyebrows.

Och took on an expression of bitter regret. "No, not... Not Eth. She left when Bartholomew came and tried to take us all. My friend and I ran... His name's Rampiel." Och picked up his bag, slung it over his vessel's head, diagonally across his chest. "He's..." The look on Och's face was one of worry, fear, self-flagellation and love, pure, absolute love. "We're close. And I won't leave him here."

"Is he a noncombatant?" Gabriel questioned.

"He defended us once, but he doesn't want to fight." Och quickly stated. "We were planning on heading to Canada, but while he was looking for other places for us to hide, a whole group of angels showed up. We're pretty boxed in." He turned to a countertop, snagging a small cell phone. A burner, to be precise, and called a number. "Rampiel?" Och questioned the phone. "Are you ok?" There was a pause, Gabriel waiting for the reply. Och paled briefly, before whispering an Enochian prayer. "Ok, look, Gabriel showed up. He- Yes, that Gabriel. Not as dead as we all thought, it's ok. He wants to get us out, but we gotta move, ok? We'll be there to pick you up in a few minutes." The blue-winged angel turned off the phone, looking to Gabriel with worried eyes. "...You won't harm us?"

"You are the next set of angels destined to become the servants of Heaven. You don't want this pointless war. And it's my job to ensure you survive." Gabriel nodded slowly. "I won't hurt you. I promise you, Och." He swore solemnly. "I will get you and your friend out of this city, safe."

"...Ok." The young angel agreed, walking closer to him.

-{[|]}-

It had been a long, nervous cab ride to the apartment Rampiel was trapped in.

Once there, Gabriel had been quick to etch some warding onto their ribs and tattoo it onto their skin, noticing with muted, dulled interest how close Och stayed to Rampiel, his light blue wings constantly guarding and protecting the pair of soft brown wings, edged in silver and green, under his own.

Had he been feeling like himself, he might've been more interested, trying to joke about what they were like in bed, or being semi-serious and asking if they were happy.

But Gabriel was just... Empty.

"Ok." He announced finally. "Time to go. We have to get you out of the city and heading northward before morning. I'm certain someone's been watching you."

Rampiel nodded, standing slowly and leaning against Och, who supported his weight easily. Rampiel was badly injured, a blade having cut a huge hole in the left of his abdomen, obviously an angel's damage. It had also clipped his wing, making the already burned feathers further incapable of flight.

"You ok to walk?" Och questioned softly, his own charred wings wrapping over Rampiel's.

"I'll be fine." He nodded, bracing his side gently, in pain even after Gabriel had wrapped him up. Angel blade damage took time to heal.

"Let's go." Gabriel peeked out the front door, examining the street for anything aside from human souls.

There. Two blocks down, at the Starbucks. His gaze lingered over the angel's grace before continuing to track, searching for another grace signature. Building above, fifteenth floor. Restaurant to the right, the waiter.

And Dad knows how many more waiting at the exits.

Gabriel's eyes narrowed, calculating their chances. Poor. Very, very poor. He took a glance back at Och and Rampiel, the former biting his lip nervously. But I made you two a promise I intend to keep. Gabriel stepped into the sun, carefully waiting for Och and Rampiel to position themselves beside him, Gabriel using one wing and some Trickster energy to cloak the pair, extending the golden extremity around them as though a gigantic cloak.

Carefully flagging down a cab (The magic of a downtown area, he thought briefly.) Gabriel pushed the pair of angels toward the road, looking in at the driver. "What's the farthest out y'can take us?" He half-demanded, checking to the side again.

The Starbucks angel had moved.

Damnit.

"Ah' go out 's far as Springville, sonny." The aged black man informed him with a pleasant smile.

"Take us there, please." Gabriel popped open the back seat, helping Och get Rampiel inside and buckled. "I'll double the money if you can make it fast." He whispered as he got into the passenger side, the man smiling gently instead.

"Sonny, I can make it fast for ya'." He agreed, pulling onto the main road with a small look to the three of them, his hand sliding between the seats and the centre console, where Gabriel knew there was a gun. He was eternally thankful that this human had decided to help anyway. Admitted, he probably knew more gangs in this area, and had probably been a getaway for more than one fight, but he was still grateful. "Name's Tully."

"Gabriel." The Archangel greeted, shaking the man's hand as they stopped at a red light not twenty feet down the road. "Sorry for the rush, we have to get out of here." He explained vaguely.

"Ah understand, sonny." Tully nodded. "Trust me, ah understand. You boys don't need to tell me anything. Ah'll get you out in good time." He stated, starting forward as the light changed to green.

Which was when the missing angel, red-edged grey wings hooded overtop of him, landed clumsily on the hood of the car.

"Shit!" The car swerved, Tully somehow handling it with one hand as his other slipped fully between the seats to yank out the gun.

Matte black and short handled, the Glock was a perfect little bolt of black in a world that felt like a whole lot of white.

Thank Father it's the middle of a damn Monday. Gabriel thought as the car spun slightly, the angel gripping to the hood tightly with wide-eyed shock that the human didn't just scream and slow to a stop. Instead, Tully pulled out a gun and accelerated, focusing half on the road and half on the angel he was about to shoot. In the back seat, Och and Rampiel gripped to each other and let out a fearful shriek. The noise only reinforced Gabriel's desire to protect the pair, and he slammed his elbow into the passenger window to try and crack it open, the angel driving his blade through the windshield, attempting to hit Tully.

Which was when Tully shot him.

The bullet went through the windshield, slamming into the angel's shoulder.

Immediately after, Tully drove one foot down onto the brakes, their seatbelts locking in as the car lurched to a halt, other cars honking their horns and people at the sidelines screaming.

The angel was flung off, hitting the ground and rolling for a moment, the stunningly accurate shot to his shoulder practically incapacitating him right then, staggering to his feet and realizing that the force had ripped his blade from his hand.

Gabriel summoned his own blade, cursing the whole time, going to step out and take down the angel, when the passenger side door, Rampiel's side, was torn open, a hand coming in to rip the injured angel out of the car by his wing.

Letting out a shriek, Rampiel landed on the concrete with a sob, other wing fluttering weakly in panic and fear, feathers falling free as he struggled to escape the painful grip on his damaged appendage.

Gabriel moved to help him, but Och moved faster.

The blue wings swept out of the car with a furious roar, pouncing on the offending female angel and driving her off the wounded person below her.

Gabriel kicked open the door in the next instant, stepping out as Tully took his foot off the brake, not waiting for anyone to approve of his actions as he charged forward, ramming the angel who had originally attacked them.

Gabriel's wings spread out, smacking the angel who had attacked Rampiel back, flinging her to the side like a piece of dirt. Taking a quick glance to Och, standing protectively over Rampiel, Gabriel waited, uncertain of attacking or defending.

"I've got this, Gabriel!" Och called over, lifting Rampiel onto his feet, practically carrying the other angel. "Get rid of them!"

Gabriel dipped his head sharply, unfurling all of his wings to their widest, his huge golden feathers scraping the ground and dragging the gravel spread on the concrete into the air around him, the molecules of earth reacting with his grace, a pure primal energy answering the call of a pre-universe demand.

With a single flap, Gabriel rammed the angel and flung him to the side, a second angel pouncing on his back and driving a knife through his wing. No survivors. Demanded his grace. They can't let others know that you're back.

Gabriel kicked off the ground, flipping forward and twisting, the angel thrown off balance as one of the Archangel's bottom pair flared out, a donkey's kick to the stomach of his attacker, flinging the angel to the ground.

Whirling about with a flip, Gabriel drove the elbow of his top left wing into the angel's chest, or he would've if the bastard hadn't dodged. The female angel lunged at him, catching one of his wings by the corner and dragging him from his stance.

Which was when he brought up one of his other wings and slammed it onto the female's wing. They were pale cream, lined faintly with grey and auburn and a faded undertone of a chocolate brown, marred with burns and missing chunks of feathers.

The scream she made when her wing snapped in half was extremely satisfying for Gabriel.

She crumpled, a marionette with her strings cut, while the male charged him again. This time, Gabriel didn't waste a half-second in handling the issue.

The blade slid home startlingly easily, ripping through delicate human muscle and bone, shredding his diaphragm and left lung with a dull choking sound. Gabriel felt the angel twitch on the end of his knife, a painful-feeling movement. He ignored the obvious agony of the angel, practically throwing him off the end of his blade instead, his body hitting the ground with a dull thump.

At the same time that Rampiel let out a shriek of horror.

Och hit the ground beside Rampiel with a blade buried into his back, just under his scapula. Gabriel twisted to slash the female angel through the throat in a near-effortless action, her blood spraying in a perfect arc around his movement path, feet landing with nothing more than a slight tap to the ground before he was shooting for the angel who had stabbed Och.

The green-silver winged angel obviously didn't know what to expect when an Archangel's flaming blade plunged through his heart, but it obviously wasn't the slow charring that he got. Gabriel yanked Rampiel's blade from his shaking, uselessly weak hand and threw it with unerring accuracy at the angel still chasing and challenging Tully.

That one hit the ground too.

Their observers on the streets, the paramedics just arriving, the chaos surrounding them in a painful blanket made Gabriel's ears ring, at least until he forced his true form away from his vessel.

Gabriel jumped over to Rampiel and Och, grabbing them by the shoulders and spreading his wings, turning his head toward the open sky and flying as far from there as he could think to be 'safe', aiming for anywhere with a group of noncombatant angels.

He had to keep them safe, had to save them, had to get them to the next part of their story because his story was theirs and-

And he flew for Alaska.

-{[|]}-

An oak tree.

At least half a century old, huge and impressive, it's huge, clawlike branches spreading into a wide canopy over the small cross near it's base.

Where Och was buried.

It was faintly poetic, to be buried under a tree with a similar name. Gabriel had located a noncombatant angel base in Alaska, hence, leading him here. He needed somewhere safe to send the injured angels in his charge, even if it had been tiring to fly them both there.

And especially if, on landing, one of them was dead.

Gabriel's grace had felt like it wanted to eat itself when the burning sensation of dying angel writhed up his arm. He had wrapped his wings around Rampiel, hoping that he wouldn't wind up with two dead and nothing to show for his attempt at bringing himself back to what he wanted to be, the saviour and helper, not a murderous monster.

But still, the aching presence in the back of his mind had remembered his words.

'I will get you and your friend out of this city, safe...' It reminded traitorously, even as he flipped himself backward and took the brunt of the landing, bouncing on the dirt as he braced Rampiel and Och.

Which was when Rampiel had finally felt Och's body.

Gabriel untangled his wings from around the young angels, only to look at Rampiel, uncaring for his own wounds, shaking Och's body with tears in his eyes. "No, no, no please no..." He whispered, biting the corner of his lip hard enough to bleed. "No, no, not Och. You aren't allowed to have Och. Please. No..."

Gabriel had recognized it, the tone, the prayer. Even as other angels ran out of the cabin beside their landing location, Rampiel ignored their surroundings. He sat there instead, holding Och's limp form in front of him, hands sunk into the other's shoulders, before slipping back, under his arms and crossed on his back, pressing Och's lolling head into the junction of his shoulder and neck. "Wake up, please, please wake up..." Rampiel pleaded with empty air, pulling one arm up to sink his fingers through Och's hair, gripping tightly, like it was the only thing keeping him bound to earth.

Rampiel was praying, begging to their Father to, "not let this one go, please don't take him from me..."

Gabriel's lower two pairs of wings had folded to his back, concealing his status once again as he struggled to get off the grass, all while trying not to look at the angel that he had killed.

You should've waited, planned better. You could've taken out the other angels and then got them out now what? Gabriel felt guilt and hatred pressing in on him from all sides, the suspicion and fury from the surrounding angels like a bitter scent in the air.

Now, though, standing before the huge tree, staring at the cross that he felt bore the weight of his failures, Gabriel understood why his Father had made him use his colour form all those years ago.

Rampiel walked over slowly, arm in a sling, but his wing tied to his back with sticks to provide stability. "...He wouldn't've blamed you, y'know."

Gabriel didn't reply.

"He wasn't like that." Rampiel continued unfazed. "He didn't believe in blaming someone for bad circumstances."

"I made you a promise."

"No you didn't."

"I made him a promise, then." Which just makes it worse.

"You did your best. Circumstances work against us, Gabriel." Rampiel gave him a sad smile. "Sometimes it's best just to move past them."

And he held out a hand.

Gabriel glanced over, looking between the angel's earnest face and his outstretched hand, searching for something, anything other than an open invitation to go back to how he was, to return to being Gabriel, the Archangel-Trickster, who loved candy and being human and people.

You're in too deep now.

Gabriel shook his head. "You don't understand, Rampiel... I can't just move on, it's..." It's more than just letting go. "There's a war being fought, and I..." I have to be the end to it. "...What I'm becoming is..." A means to an end. "...It's..." Going to tear me apart.

Rampiel gave him a weird look. "...Are you alright?"

I haven't been in years. "I'm fine." He nodded shortly. "Take care of yourself." He grumbled unhappily, turning and marching away from the grave.

"Hey Gabriel," Rampiel called to him over his shoulder, turning slightly to watch the Archangel.

Gabriel paused, but didn't glance back.

"...Don't do anything you're going to regret."

Silence.

Then the flapping of multiple pairs of wings.

And he was gone.

-{[|]}-

The minute Gabriel's feet hit the ground in the barn, the warded-to-the-nines-and-back barn that Dean and Castiel first met in, his knees buckled, tears flowing hot and fast. His lungs cramped up, unused to air on top of the overworked sobs that came all-too-heavy on his weary body.

Gabriel folded his arms over his chest and tried, at least made an attempt to keep in his cries, the whimpers that filled the cramped, oppressively dark space far too loud for him.

He had flipped to curl into small lump on the floor, head down and body low, shaking faintly.

He didn't want to have to do this. To have to become this. But the war had already cost him people he promised to protect, people he cared about, people he loved.

It had cost him his family, what he wanted to be, and where he wanted to stay. It had cost him his home.

The thing he wanted to become though... That hadn't cost anything, so far. He was ready for it, so much more than ready.

Gabriel's hands curled and uncurled, nails piercing his skin with each tightening movement. "F-Father..." Gabriel panted through his shuddering final sobs. "...Father forgive me."

He could almost hear his Father replying, 'What, Gabriel? What requires forgiveness?'

Nothing yet, Father. I am not here to apologize for things I have done. His head lowered, eyes shutting with a final exhale.

Then he lifted his head, eyes glowing with icy golden grace.

...Father forgive me for everything I am about to do.

Chapter Text

{Winter, Before}

“C’mon, Mike-a! Keep up!” Gabriel called over his shoulder, twisting his body effortlessly to maneuver around a tree, his six wings undulating perfectly as he circled.

“Not...” Michael panted. “My fault... You’re fast.” He swerved about the trunk with far less grace than Gabriel, but managed to keep his wingbeats well-timed.

“Come on, I had a cast off less than fifty years ago! You’re just getting slow in your old age, Mickey!” Gabriel laughed, diving for the ground as Michael let out an irritated scoff and followed.

“I am not old, Gabriel. And how do you keep getting these nicknames, anyway?” Michael shouted after his quickly moving brother.

“Pull them out of my feathers, Mickle!” Gabriel cackled. “I’m amazed that you haven’t figured that out yet!”

“I’m not as silly as all that, Gabriel.” Michael plunged close, intending to ram the smaller Archangel before Gabriel pulled to the side, almost causing Michael to hit the ground. The white wings braced and flapped up at the last second, shooting him back at level with his brother.

“You need to live a bit, Mich!” Gabriel barrel-rolled around a tree, wings pulled close before flaring out again. “Besides, you came out here with me.”

“Only because Lucifer was helping Father, and Raphael is still recovering from the incident with the monsters.” Michael rolled his eyes, pretending to be disenchanted, but really, he liked flying over the so-far noncorporeal plane of earth with his siblings.

“Foo bah. Don’t pretend you don’t like it, My-cake!”

“That nickn- That didn’t even make sense!” Michael laughed loosely as he followed Gabriel through the trees.

“Really? I thought it was quite good.” The younger grinned, playfully swooping to fly upside-down over his elder brother, smiling like nothing could stop him. “C’mon, let’s find somewhere to land! You pick this time!”

“Alright.” Michael nodded with a soft hum, turning his nose to the west as Gabriel fell into formation behind him, rising slowly above the tree line where the air was slow and cushion-y, making their flight only easier.

Michael’s broad, soaring wings barely twitched as they glid over the forests of earth, simply enjoying the scenery of what the currently rocky, bare planet was to become.

“Over there, Gabriel. That... marsh, it looks like.” Michael nodded to the side, turning in the direction of the place he saw, wings tilting to compensate for the motion.

Matching his brother pace for pace, Gabriel dipped below an errant branch of a particularly tall tree, his sharp-shaped wings more built for speed than power. Even with the massive updraft, Gabriel still had to flap every so often to keep the speed he needed to stay aloft.

“Where’s this marsh? And why a marsh, anyway? Squishy, slimy places, I thought you didn’t like getting dirty.” Gabriel questioned as he sped forward, in line with his brother now.

“I’m curious.” Michael shrugged. “There will be much of this world to learn of, and more of it to explore. I wish to at least know the ‘lay’ of the planet before it is truly a...” His voice dropped off.

“A place? Not just this... Construct?” Gabriel tried to finish, dipping under his brother to talk up at him.

“Exactly.” Michal nodded with a soft sigh. “I don’t want to... have to learn once this planet exists. I want to simply explore.” He turned his wings down, slowly dipping back below the treeline, Gabriel following and landing on a branch high above, smiling down at his elder brother, who had landed on a moss-covers fallen log.

“Is it slippery?” Gabriel questioned, watching him like a jungle cat, wings even hunched over his thin form.

“It is a bit, yes.” Michael absently answered, squatting down to poke at the mud. “It’s not nearly as gritty as a seabed, but it’s more gritty than a swamp.”

“Swamps are pretty soft, bro.” Gabriel responded, jumping onto the next tree as Michael skipped forward, landing on a small outcropping of drier dirt, once again leaning down to observe the mud and grass.

“Yes, but this is less so, Gabriel.” Michael murmured, rubbing some of the mud between his fingers. “It’s getting squishier, as though trying to absorb more.” He murmured, fluttering to a small, thin root that arced over the water, seemingly more unstable than the liquid itself.

Somehow though, Michael managed to get balanced and leaned down again to examine the muck.

“Hey, Gabriel, don’t lean on that branch too much. It might break.” Michael glanced up at the younger Archangel.

“I’ll be fine, Mikey. Go back to playing in the mud.” Gabriel answered with an eye roll as he examined a leaf on another tree.

“It’s not playing, it’s-“

The crack of a branch interrupted them, causing both Archangels to freeze.

Then the root of the tree snapped, and Michael fell into the mud.

“Ugh, disgusting!” The older Archangel snapped, his white wings raised high above the mud, even the lightly tinged blue lower ones pulled up almost to the middle of his back. Gabriel laughed so hard he had to float down to safe ground, watching his brother’s irritation. Michael, noticing that the water seemed to be absorbing him now, flapped his wings a few times to try and fly out.

Then the mud started clinging to his feathers.

“Um... Gabriel..?” Michael stared at his hips, now stuck in the mud, eyes slowly widening as he started to realize he was in trouble, cold mud sucking a his body.

“This is priceless, by Dad....” Gabriel managed to choke out through laughter.

“...Gabriel? Can you help me out?” Michael questioned, watching the ... mud eat him slowly.

“Wow, stuck, huh...” Gabriel stared, long and hard at the white-feathered Archangel, slightly concerned now. “Alright, Michael... Where’s a good place to land?” He took off, circling the swamp as Michael sank.

“There’s that sandbar over there.” Michael held his arms above the clinging, sticky half-liquid that pulled him down until the goop was level with his mid-chest, his lower two pairs of wings almost completely buried, the third held high above him. “There’s- ah, there’s a stone here. I can stay like this.” Michael smiled warily, glancing down at the muck before returning to stare at Gabriel.

“So, you’re good for a second?” Gabriel questioned, and Michael nodded. “Ok then, stay here for a bit.” He insisted, darting around the jungle for a moment, returning with a long strand of vines. “Here, Mikey. I’ll get you out of there in a flash.” He landed on the sandbar again, handing Michael the end of the vine and tying it around a tree branch some feet above their heads. “Though, uh, your feathers won’t thank me for it.”

“I’ll deal.” Michael responded uneasily, holding tightly to the vines, wrapping them around his one arm for extra security. Mostly, he just wanted free of the cloying goo.

“Alright then...” Gabriel’s wings flipped back as a counterbalance, holding out one hand to Michael. “Let’s get you out.”

Once the pair was holding on, Gabriel started to pull up and forward, slowly drawing Michael out of the mire he had been trapped in, wings fluttering to give a boost to his overly slow rising.

“Gabriel, I am not weak, you can pull fast-“

“Michael, I’m really worried about you slipping deeper, so shut up.” Gabriel growled out, all focus and concentration that Michael rarely saw on the youngest of their group.

So Michael, and his eternal impatience, pressed the balls of his feet to the rock under the water, and pushed upward.

Instead of going forward and up, like he should’ve, the rock gave a shudder, shifting under his weight right before sliding fully out from under him, giving way to a steep incline.

Michael had half a second to gasp out ‘oh sh-‘ before his full weight hit Gabriel’s smaller, sharper wings, hopeless to support that amount of pressure, barely having time to land and dig his heels into the sandbar, wings sweeping backward as the top corners of them snagged on a few tree branches, acting as huge second bracing arms.

The elder stared for a moment, impressed. He had certainly never thought to use his wings like that. Then he resumed flapping the free pair, the mud on their tips spraying to the sides as he kicked and ran up the muddy lakebed, trying to get free of the watery death trap. Unfortunately, on that particular plain of existence, he was capable of drowning, which only made the thought of sinking scarier.

And then his feet slipped from under him.

His chest hit the marsh plants with a hollow sounding splat, followed by his wings, quite unprepared to be suddenly fired forward, landing flat in the mud. Gabriel’s hand slipped off his, and just like that, Michael was underwater.

Gabriel let out a small shriek, watching his brother’s hands claw at the open air, his wings uselessly flapping against the thick, heavy liquid trapping him.

There was no way he could get Michael out by himself. No freaking way.

So Gabriel did the one thing he could do.

“LUCIFER!” He screamed, hovering over the marsh and grabbing Michael’s one wing, trying to pull him back up. The other wing fluttered in pain and fear. “LUCIFER HELP!” He howled again, grace roaring his panic and desperation.

Lucifer’s grace answered with a confused question that shifted to worry, while Raphael just showed worry and started flying toward him.

By the time that the pair of middle brothers got there, Gabriel was almost sobbing, wings shaking with exertion at trying to draw out the sinking sibling. Michael’s wings, all of them, had stopped moving entirely, the one simply laying on the mud, half sunk.

“Gabriel, what the-“ Lucifer began.

“Michael was looking an’ he fell! He won’t come up and he’s not moving!” Gabriel screeched, backbeating like his life depended on it. His brother’s probably did.

Lucifer didn’t have anything to add, his huge sunset-red eagle’s wings flared to their widest as he landed in the muck, stuck his arms into it and yarded, straining his arms and wings as he pulled his elder brother to safety.

It was a long few minutes to Gabriel and Raphael, standing nervously at the side, wings wrapped around each other as Lucifer repeated small words over and over, wind kicked up by his wings blowing over small trees.

Then finally, Michael’s dark-brown-topped head pulled free.

Lucifer growled a dull noise of encouragement, wings never slowing as he carefully extracted his brother’s mud-coated body from the mire.

The minute that Michael’s wings came fully out, Lucifer turned around and flew to the shore, cradling his elder sibling to his chest as he landed on his knees, bracing Michael’s upper body against his own. Michael’s breathing was low and raspy, like a small, soft choking sound. It was horrific, the tiny, breathy gagging noise that seemed to take up too little space for something so strong as Michael.

“We gotta get him to Dad.” Lucifer mumbled, gathering up the huge plumes of messy wings and lanky, but strong limbs to his abdomen, wrapping Michael protectively in his lowest pair of wings, the upper two taking the brunt of the force required to lift another Archangel into Heaven.

Gabriel, meanwhile, couldn’t help but feel it was his fault.

-{[|]}-


Lucifer paced in front of the bedroom, wings twitching in irritation, worry, impatience and slight pain as their Father worked whatever quiet ritual would help their brother heal.

“He does not blame you, Gabriel. I am certain.” Raphael reassured for at least the fifth time in an hour, to the youngest Archangel nodding with his face buried in his hands.

Lucifer turned on a dime, marching the five steps to the other side of the hall.

Raphael and Gabriel sat, leaned against the wall across from the door, wings still mostly entangled in each other’s, while Lucifer walked the hallway repeatedly, moving up and down the walkway with swift assurance, his rhythmic footsteps a tether to reality for the younger two.

When their Father finally emerged from the room, Lucifer had been at the other end of the hallway. He opened his wings as wide as the space would allow, no doubt pulling on the strained muscles used to get him into Heaven while carrying his older sibling, whirling over to his Father. “Is he alright?”

“Michael is cold, ill and confused. He will be fine, however.” Chuck smiled softly, patting his second son’s shoulder. “Gabriel, you did the right thing, calling for help. How did Michael get trapped, anyway?” He walked over to the younger two, kneeling in front of Gabriel.

“We were... flying, and he wanted to see the marsh. So he stood on a root while he was looking at it all, and the root broke. He just...” Gabriel shuddered. “Started sinking.”

Chuck made a low ‘mmh’ noise of understanding before standing smoothly. “Why don’t you three go to the library, and play some games and such. That way, you are close enough to Michael, as I need to return to working on earth, sorry...” He said, almost sheepishly.

“It’s ok, Father.” Lucifer murmured, turning away from the doorway of the room, where he had been watching his sibling, the soft rise and fall of his chest. “We understand. If Michael comes out, we’ll take care of him.”

With another gentle nod to their Father, Lucifer gestured for the others to follow him, leading them around the corner to the library, Raphael immediately dragging Gabriel to the side for a game of ‘Bones’, a strategy game that would one day be better likened to chess. Lucifer, meanwhile, pulled a book off Father’s shelf, sitting in one of the chairs nearby.

Gabriel didn’t exactly time it, but it was four point two-six rounds of Bones (Gabriel was winning) and almost a third of Lucifer’s book before a very bleary looking Michael stumbled into viewing range, white blanket wrapped around his shoulders and wings, which slumped weakly at his sides.

“Hey, hey...” Lucifer’s sudden scramble off the couch toward the hall was what attracted Gabriel and Raphael’s attention, watching as Michael blindly staggered forward, glassy blue eyes searching the room with sticky, misjudged focus.

When the loose, detached skitter of his eyes brought his too-bright blue gaze to Lucifer, Michael seemed confused , though slightly relieved. “...L’k?” He mumbled thickly, eyes sliding from him to the floor. Gabriel and Raphael crept closer, faintly amused at the nickname. The younger two and their Father stuck to ‘Luci’, while Michael, rarely, called him ‘Luka’. He was the only one allowed to call Lucifer, Luka, and even then he always got a half-glare.

This time though, the nickname didn’t even phase Lucifer. “Yeah, Mikey. It’s me. Eyes up here.” He encouraged, placing a hand on Michael’s shoulder. The elder Archangel’s unfocused stare rose to meet Lucifer’s. “That’s it... hi.” Lucifer murmured, grabbing Michael’s blanket and pulling it tighter around the shaking, slight form.

“...G’br’el?” Michael mumbled, turning to look at the other two. “...R’ph’el...”

“Yes, older brother.” Raphael walked closer to him, smiling softly.

“I’m ok, Mikey. We’re all ok.” Gabriel stated, patting one of Michael’s massive wings. Michael fixed him with a blank look, before Lucifer carefully looped one arm around his shoulders.

“C’mon, Mike. How about you come and sit.” Lucifer suggested, pulling Michael into his side before walking over to the couch, sitting his sibling down on it. Michael almost immediately slumped into the cushions, eyes fluttering closed as exhaustion swallowed him up again, curled tightly into the opposite corner of the couch as Lucifer.

After a quick check to ensure he was still breathing, Lucifer picked up his book and just let Michael sleep, close to him or not. He had been pretty out of it when he first walked in, and Lucifer planned on letting him get back more reality before taking the permission of sibling cuddles.

Michael woke up again about two hours later, jaw cracking with a yawn that at least allowed him to focus.

“Hey, Mikey. You with us, this time?” Lucifer questioned, glancing from his book.

“I... I believe so...” Michael mumbled, rubbing his head. He was still tired, Gabriel could see it in his eyes. The way he was half-leaned over, not fully supporting his own weight, looking about the room with a sleepy stare.

“Good. Dad said that you’d probably be tired for a while.” Lucifer flipped around, putting his feet on the couch beside his brother, who stared at him suspiciously.

“...What happened, fully?”

“You sank under. I pulled you out, and Dad fixed you up. You’ll be fine, just tired.”

“I feel as though I have slept for a year.” Michael moaned, pressing a hand to his forehead.

“You look it.” Gabriel muttered, making Raphael snort with laughter.

“I am never sleeping again.” Michael mumbled, leaning back and blinking at the roof. He painted the perfect picture of the drunks that would appear on earth, one day.

“Uh huh...” Lucifer didn’t even look from his book, merely sitting up beside Michael.

“Never. I’m going to stay awake forever.” Michael restated.

“Why’s that.” Lucifer questioned disinterestedly.

“Because sleep feels like drowning. It sucks, Luci.” The elder groaned, wings wrapped around his shoulders.

“Uh huh...” Lucifer hummed again, carefully unfolding his largest wing to subtly slide behind Michael as the first Archangel continued to rant about sleep.

“The mud was so cold, it felt as though I was being pulled down by it! You understand, yes?” The older Archangel threw up his hands in defeat, then turned to his unresponsive brother. “What are you reading?” He inquired after a pause, leaning in to Lucifer to see the pages.

To Gabriel and Raphael, who caught the subtle smirk that Lucifer shot in their direction, they realized that this is what their brother had planned all along.

“The Saddest Song. From the future.” Lucifer said, opening the book a little wider and slowly wrapping his wing around Michael. “‘“Why does she play upon the hill, Fen?” The young, sable furred wolf questioned her elder, ears flopping to the side.’” At Lucifer’s reading, Gabriel and Raphael left their game, sitting eagerly beside them to listen. “‘“She plays, Sera, for her own reasons.” Fen’s white fur waved softly in the wind as they watched the shifter above them, the mournful tones of her violin singing into the sky as though a lone wolf, the last of her kind. “You may, however, go ask her.”’”

“‘At those words, Sera started up the hill, her skillful paws making short work of the steep incline, dust kicked from her clipped, quick steps filling in her path. When she finally arrived to the side of the woman, wavy red hair flying from her ponytail as she stood with her violin on her shoulder, the dark wood shining from the firelight below, Sera found herself lost for words. Even in her less intimidating, soft human form, Vien still held an ancient shape, reminiscent to the shifters of old. She was long limbed, strong and tall. Her eyes still narrowed to slits, similar to a cat’s, and her face was sharper, more elegant. “...You have questions, pup.” Vien stated simply in her exotic-sounding accent.’”

Lucifer paused and took a breath before continuing. “‘“I-I do.” Sera nodded jerkily. “Every night, you play that song. The same one, every night.” Vien laughed faintly, a rumbling purr of long-lost power. “Ah, pup...” She sighed. “You are wise to recognize it.” They stood in silence after those words, watching the horizon that bridged their world and the next. “Do you know what the saddest songs are?” Vien spoke into the quiet, not looking from the edge of the world.’”

“‘“N-no, ma’am. I don’t.” Sera answered, staring at her curiously. “The saddest songs, pup, are duets, played alone.” Vien explained, voice low and soft, as though missing something deep within herself. There was a pause as Sera considered that, and then Vien continued. “A long time ago, I wrote a piece of music.” She murmured. “It was the most beautiful duet I had written. I memorized half of it, like I would memorize my mate’s body, or their face.” Vien’s eyes turned to the ground. “When I was in a city, the sheet was torn, and the second half of the piece, it’s partner, it’s mate, was forever lost. I have never been able to recreate it.” The red-haired woman‘ s face rose, the stars reflected in her eyes. “That is why it never sounds right. This half of it is always waiting for a reply, like a wolf for their partner. How sad,” She turned a wan gaze to Sera. “when they shall not find theirs.”’”

“‘“...I hope, ma’am... That your half finds the other.” Sera murmured sympathetically. “Hm.” Vien huffed a soft laugh, then placed the instrument on her shoulder, laying her head on the rest, and she played. The notes, drawn and soft, danced alone in the night sky, one half of a pair, forever meant to be.’” Lucifer finished, letting Gabriel and Raphael hop up onto the couch to read along with him, rather than hearing it out loud.

As Lucifer lazily read the book and flipped the pages when the group could agree on being done, his spread wing gently settling around a distracted Michael’s shoulder.

It really wasn’t long after that, the dark red feathers absorbing the heat and warming their brother, that Michael’s head began to nod, eventually just settling on Lucifer’s shoulder. The Morningstar, for all his joking attitude to his brother, didn’t move or shift, simply bracing and allowing Michael to lean on him.

With a quiet giggle, Gabriel and Raphael got off the couch to resume their game, only to watch as Lucifer shifted back, resting against the one arm of the couch with his feet on the other side, dragging Michael down with him.

The elder Archangel was pulled alongside his sibling, squished between the back of the couch and the other warm body, wrapped in one gigantic red wing. Neither of them thought about it awkwardly, simply fledglings nesting together for warmth, but Lucifer would never admit to the fact that he knew it was more for Michael than for him. Gabriel knew that if it had been for him, Lucifer would’ve been curled in a tight little ball, hidden under his wings, but instead he was stretched out and providing heat.

They lay in silence for a few minutes, Michael attempting to not nod off, head dipping and raising consistently, eyes lidded and a yawn escaping his mouth every so often.

“Tired, Mikey?” Lucifer asked with a slight smirk.

“No.” He replied petulantly. “Said I wouldn’ sleep, so ‘m not sleepin’.” Michael slurred tiredly, the warmth acting like a catalyst for a healing sleep that he desperately needed.

“Sure, big bro.” Lucifer smiled wider as Michael snuggled deeper into his wing and the couch, a safe little dark space for him to hide in.

Another three minutes, and Lucifer folded up his book with one hand, looking the elder over. “...He’s out, guys.” He informed the other two, making Gabriel and Raphael turn from their game, walk over and carefully pull themselves up onto Lucifer’s chest. The pair of younger Archangels were no longer as small as they had been, but the four still somehow managed to fit semi-comfortably on the couch. Raphael stretched out, wings sprawled over Lucifer’s folded one and Michael, laying on the Morningstar’s chest. Gabriel rested near the bottom of the couch, pinning down legs to ensure that they would all be numb by the time they woke up.

Once Gabriel and Raphael were settled, Lucifer picked up his free wings and wrapped the whole group in a huge pile of warm feathers, protective and comforting all at once. Gabriel picked up the book, ‘The Saddest Song’, and flipped it open to the page he had stopped last.

“Still reading that silly book?” Lucifer questioned, one arm around Michael’s shoulders and the other hand in Raphael’s hair, gently scratching him, as though a cat.

Gabriel shrugged. “It’s a good book.”

“If you say so.” Lucifer yawned, settling back, his feathers starting to fluff up.

“Hey, you like Vien. She’s powerful and alone, but still friendly.” Gabriel looked up, meeting his brother’s blue eyes. “You said you liked her.”

Lucifer glanced away sheepishly. “...Maaaybe I like her...”

“Oh Father.” Gabriel gasped low at the Morningstar’s evident blush. “You have a crush on a book character!”

“She’s awesome, alright?” Lucifer snapped back playfully, not meeting Gabriel’s eyes. “She’s... suffered, but she’s good.”

“That’d be hard to do. To be hurt, damaged, but still good.” Gabriel murmured, flipping back a few pages to see the drawing of Vien, her elegant figure caught strong and silent, stoic longing painted on her face. Her hair flared out in windswept red, catlike ocean eyes staring out at the cliffs, the base below. “...I wonder if there’ll ever be one of us like that.” Gabriel mumbled.

With a faint snort, Lucifer brushed it off. “I don’t think that Dad would let anything happen to us, and who would hurt us anyway? I don’t think I could ever hurt Michael, or Raphael, or you.” The Morningstar gently rubbed the elder gently between the shoulder blades. His white wings shuffled as he nuzzled into Lucifer’s chest with a small snuffle, the exhaustion of nearly drowning still keeping a tight hold over him.

The shift brought a small look of discomfort to Michael’s face, breathing interrupted, before Lucifer shifted Michael’s shoulder with his wing, and the white-winged Archangel’s deep breaths resumed a normal cycle.

“There you go, Mikey...” Lucifer murmured, patting his shoulder once. Michael didn’t reply. “...Don’t stay up too long, ‘kay Goldie?”

“I won’t, Luci. Don’t worry about me.” Gabriel nodded, then opened back up the book and resumed reading.

A few minutes later, and the sound of steady, soft breathing told him that Lucifer was asleep as well.

When their Father walked in moments after, Gabriel was still in the back corner of the couch, reading the tales of Vien’s warrior trials. “...Hello Gabriel. I assume Michael’s recovering.”

“Yep.” Gabriel glanced up, first to Chuck, then to the angel pile across from him, his brothers’ peaceful faces illuminating by Heaven’s light. “...Yeah he is.”

Chuck sat in the armchair across from them and picked up his own book, going through and making revisions without further comment.

{January, 1910}

When they finally pulled up to the shaded, slightly overgrown, hidden entrance of the Bunker, Raven sighed. “Well, last stop.” She announced with a small smile as she turned off the car, stepping out of the buggy at the same time as Gabriel.

The driving time and it’s conversations had been very interesting. Raven was an interesting person, a past as twisted as Gabriel’s own, while Damian -who talked to him when Raven fell asleep in the passenger seat - was a demon who knew way too much for his own good.

“You know the location of the Knights?” Gabriel had questioned, staring at him in disbelief. He curled protectively over Raven’s unconscious form, one ghostlike, clawed hand over her ears. “Kid, like... nobody knows those!”

“I do.” Damian dipped his head. “There was a scroll in Hell. Pop it open, gain information, that kind of thing.” He shrugged. “I stole it. Snuck right into Hell’s throne room an all. Which is why I can’t return to Hell.”

“You’d be eaten alive.”

“Exactly.” Damian nodded. “I managed to get up here. Which is where...” His red eyes focused on Raven.

“Where you met her.” Gabriel finished, glancing at the road. “...And nothing’s changed since then?”

“There’s been some rough spots, but nothing major. Nothing that could get me...” His voice dropped a bit. “There’s no place safer.”

Now, Gabriel stared at the entrance of the Bunker, the misty rain that fell in soft sheets around them blurring the concrete doorway slightly. “Do you want to come inside?” He asked, turning back to look at the girl leaning on the wheel of her car.

“Can’t. Not without leaving Damian outside, and I don’t have the time to prep his collar.” She shrugged, water streaming off her hair.

“Really?”

“Blanket wards’ll let me, demon warding won’t.” She responded simply.

“It won’t?”

“Don’t have my blood sigil in there.” She explained easily. “Best I can do is make sure you don’t die on your way to the door.” She smirked at the words, glancing over at him with a light, playful grin.

“Sounds like a struggle. Should I pay you for that, miss bounty hunter?” Gabriel started for the door, smiling at her.

She clicked her tongue. “Ah, not a Bounty Hunter. I’m a Mercenary.” She stuck a finger in the air with her proclamation.

“What’s the difference?” Gabriel chuckled, hands in his pockets.

“Mercenary is more professional.” She explained.

Gabriel threw his head back with a single ‘hah!’ “Please explain to me what the difference is.”

“Well, Bounty Hunters go for the highest bidding and will desert their mission if better money comes up. They’re offered money first, then do the deed, then get paid.” She listed off on her fingers. “They’re expensive and picky. And they always work on a down payment.”

“And Mercenaries?”

“Where you find a Bounty Hunter, you call a Merc. You give them the assignment, and they tell you what they will do that assignment for. After that, they’re bound by essentially a contract, to complete the mission.” She shrugged. “Much more professional. It’s more like a job.”

“Is that how you get your money?” Gabriel nodded back to the car.

“How else do you think?” She laughed outright. “The Men of Letters are always willing to get a job out of the way on the down-low, as long as they don’t get their prissy little hands dirty dealing with,” She pretended to shudder. “Hunters.”

Gabriel snorted slightly at her actions. “They do tend to grouse a lot about handling deals with them.”

“You’d think they were as bad as demons.” Her face twisted into a cross between a grin and a sneer, a savage kind of smirk as her eyes flicked black with a blink. The next time she blinked, the colour was back to normal. “The northern Bunker calls me in for all their dirty-work assignments.”

“Heard anything from overseas?” Gabriel asked as he checked the forest around them.

“Nothing much. I can’t exactly travel there, after all. The boat ticket is easy enough to get, but the wards at the entrance of the bloody place...” She rolled her eyes. “You’d think they wanted a pure breeding.”

“They do.”

“Idiots.” She sighed.

“So, why do you bother with the assignments anyway?” He questioned, but at her strange look, he rectified his statement. “Not just the money, but you hunt normally as well, you go looking for cases, like a hunter. What’s up with that?”

“Well, you know. Each hunt brings me one step closer.” She said conspiratorially, rolling her head to one side.

“Closer to what?” Gabriel pressed.

“Finding the Knights of Hell.” She answered with a massive, sadistic half-smile that showed off her canines.

“What?!” The Archangel exclaimed, staring at her with wide eyes. “I thought that the others-“

“You guys didn’t finish off all of them.” She said grimly. “From Damian’s information, there’s still four more. He has a whole mess of stuff about them.” Raven tapped a finger to her head. “I’m no hawkshaw, but we’re handling it.”

“Can you take one?”

“I’m not looking to kill one. I’d need to be mad.” She shook her head. “Cain’s Mark and the First Blade just seem like bad planning on my part. We don’t need two demons in this skull.” Raven bit the corner of her lip. “There’s a lot of information about it. Damian got it all, which is good... I think, unfortunately, I’d be a candidate.” She sighed.

“...A candidate for what?”

“The Mark of- You don’t know too much about this, do you?” She stopped walking.

“Not really. I was in Greece at the time, I think.” Gabriel averted his gaze sheepishly.

“Ok, well, there’s this guy, I’m positive you at least know Cain.” She practically demanded, and Gabriel nodded, because that was one question he could answer.

“First demonized soul, yeah, I know of him.”

“Ok, well, he took a group of demons under his wings, the Knights of Hell. You know this part too. The Knights were taken care of by Archangels, blah blah blah, Cain beat it, you know the drill.” She made a ‘continuing’ gesture with one hand. “But his Blade and he were separated, and the remaining Knights showed up again.” She folded her arms. “Now, the one thing that can actually kill them is that Blade, but the Blade’s useless without the Mark.” She summed. “There’s a few binding rituals I can do for them, get them stuck in Hell for the rest of eternity. I can do that, at least.”

“...How much do you actually know about the Blade?” Gabriel questioned slowly, watching her warily.

She exhaled a half-laugh with a mirthless grin, only for her laughter to increase gradually to a semi-crazed cackle. Then she sighed and turned over to him. “Everything, Gabriel. Damian’s overloaded with it, to him it’s all jumbled, but it’s pretty clear to me.” She explained. “Anything you ever needed to know about that damn Blade, I know. Hell’s a treasure trove of knowledge, if you know how to get to it.”

“...What does it say about the Knights?”

“Everything.” She shrugged. “What do you want to know?”

“Better question, what does it say about Cain himself?” Like can he be taken out? Gabriel added silently.

She sucked in a breath between her teeth, leaning on the wall beside the door. “...little harder. See, he vanished before too many records were made. The last thing in there regarding him is this weird prophecy.” She skewed her jaw in displeasure.

“What is it?”

“Uh, ok, let’s see here...” Raven’s brow furrowed as she focused. “‘Of the man who so loved an angel, and the brother he pulled from Hell; righteousness stands with him no longer, beware of the blood, the backfire and the shrapnel.’” She stated in prose. “There’s more in the translation, some stuff about the Mark and the Knights, so I’m going to keep looking. It’s better if we’re prepared when they come.”

“‘Righteousness stands with him no longer...’” Gabriel quoted. “You think they’re talking about the Righteous Man?” He wondered aloud.

“They could be.” She bit the corner of her lip again. “That’ll be one for you to throw in the record books. Next time I have a free weekend I’ll come down here and write you a little notebook of everything I’ve got on these bastards.” She informed, handing him a tiny slip of paper. “Burn that if you seriously need me. It’s a call sigil.” She explained as Gabriel examined the oddly clawed ‘c’ shape of the symbol. “I only give one each time I go somewhere, so don’t burn it for pointless reasons. In the meantime though...” She held up her right wrist, the leather brace on it glimmering with twelve crystals in varying colours, a straight line down it’s centre. She touched a single finger to the second from top crystal, a soft burnt ochre one, and backed away. Gabriel then noticed the red one near the base glimmering with an unseen light, brighter than the rest, a signal that she was needed elsewhere.

With a final wave, she turned around and disappeared into the forest, footsteps silent as Damian’s navy-grey wings spread from her spine, the perfect balance of humanity and demon, more powerful than both.

Gabriel unlocked the door and pushed inside the Bunker, greeted immediately by a waft of warm air that enveloped him with soft heat and the scent of old paper, a blanket promising ‘home.’ The smell forced a sort of gentle relaxation on him, making him close his eyes and take a deep breath, revelling in the sensation of safety.

“Gabriel, I sware to God, if you don’t close that damn fookin’ door, I’m going to come up there and shank your arse!”

And there’s the noise. Gabriel thought with a grin, pulling the door closed. “Hey Vincent. How was your week?”

“It was nice until you came in here makin’ th’ damn floor cold as Jesus fook!” Vincent shouted back as Gabriel trotted down the stairs and into the main room.

Vance, Curtis, John, Marcus and a very, very drunk Vincent sat at the table with shots and cards, making Gabriel honestly pause to question if he was the only one that actually held the Bunker together, because things seemed to go to shit without him.

“Are you guys playing Shots?” He questioned stupidly, and Vance flashed him a ‘yeah, obviously’ look in response. Shots was basically poker, but the winner of the hand didn’t have to drink. Everyone else did, to a certain level. And judging by the light in Marcus’ eyes, the ridiculous giggle that Curtis had going, and the fact that Vincent’s Irish accent was coming out, Gabriel was going to say that Vance was winning and the game had been going for quite a bit of time.

“For the last hour or two, Gabe.” De’van answered, observing the game backwards on a chair, chin and arms resting on the back as he watched the group sway and try to play the game.

“Ah’ll call it off in about... fifteen.” Amos, who Gabriel had just noticed, was sitting back in a chair across from the table, also observing the game.

“And Elvira?” Gabriel turned to the woman standing in the shadows of the kitchen, watching with a smile.

“I’m just here to make sure nobody dies of poisoning.” She informed with a simple shrug.

“Sounds fair.” Gabriel responded with a light smile. “I’m going to go unpack. Curtis, you throw up in the bedroom I’ll shoot you.”

“Point taken, Gabe. Throw up in the doorway.” The younger man’s voice held the tone of a sassy black lady’s.

“Fuck you, Marcus!” Gabriel called good-naturedly over his shoulder.

-{[|]}-

“Why, God, why, did you let me drink that much?” Vincent moaned, one hand over his eyes while holding his head up, the other hand around a mug of coffee.  

“Well, I wasn’t here for most of it.” Gabriel shrugged, smiling at him faintly. “Good news though, your Irish comes out when you’re drunk. And you still managed to drink Marcus under the table.”

“You’re a surprisingly bad player sober, and a surprisingly good one drunk. I don’t even want to know how that works.” Vance, who had lost only about three rounds over the course of the game, had gotten up significantly earlier than the crack of 11 AM.

Which was when Vincent, John and Marcus had finally risen from their respective graves, Curtis having been awake for nearly three hours, courtesy of Gabriel screaming in his ear and dumping cold water on his head.

The next ten minutes had been harsh southern swearing and threats on Gabriel’s manhood, at least until Gabriel had held out a mug of coffee with a perfectly innocent smile. Curtis grudgingly took it, growling at Gabriel the whole time as he tried to brush his slightly-too-long brown hair out of his face.

“How’s your sister?” Vance’s head turned to Gabriel, innocent curiosity extruding from his being.

“She’s good. Recovering just fine.” Gabriel smiled. He had used some of his grace to spy on the Moran family, the middle sister recovering, but not from a disease. She had broken her arm, ‘falling down the stairs’. In reality, she broke it when a shapeshifter tried to take a chunk out of it.

He did love Hunter families, or at least, where they started.

“I need to get back to work, though.” He muttered.

“Speaking o’ that...” Amos entered with a thump of large boots. “Gabriel, I have a new assignment.”

“What’s that?” He questioned. “Field work? I’m not fired, am I?”

Amos raised a white eyebrow. “No, ya’ madman. I need,” He slapped a tan folder in front of Gabriel. “that sorted out.”

Gabriel gave him a skeptical look, before picking up the file and opening it up.

‘Crossroads Demons’

Well... Gabriel smirked faintly. If the boot fits...

A new chapter had begun.

{November, 1910}

The demon had caught Vance unaware, pounced on him without a second thought, hesitation or moment to correct.

It was a dangerous, impulsive move that could’ve killed the demon if he didn’t execute it as sporadically as he did.

Which was why, when the demon shot out of the human it was possessing during Vance’s exorcism, lunging straight for the person spouting Latin at it.

It rammed into him, knocking him over and cutting off the exorcism in one sharp movement, right before surrounding his head, trying to find a way in.

Vance kept his nose pinched, shoulders hugged to his ears and mouth closed, searching desperately for an escape from the demon surrounding his head.

Which was when it dove in through his eyes.

Gabriel had spent a lot of time on earth, seen a lot of shit. But the sound that Vance made when the demon forced itself through his tear glands was on the list of the worst sounds he had ever heard.

Lunging forward with his wings plainly evident to all the demons in the room, Gabriel blocked off access to Vance with a furious snarl, shoving a bag with a Devil’s Trap over his head before pulling his blade out.

And with the silver shining brightly through the darkness of the street, Gabriel snarled one word, filled with righteous hatred.

Burn.”

The scent of ozone hung heavy in the air as the atmosphere in the forest changed, air manipulating at the Archangel’s beck and call. The oxygen sucked back, area turned devoid of it as the creatures before him gasped before breath. And then every demon, excluding the one trapped in the Trap protected by Gabriel’s wings, began screaming.

Air rushed back to the area in a burst, the thrum of long-unseen power howling low around the woods.

And around the woods, under the cover of trees, there were columns of fire. The screaming echoed through the trees, the wails of the damned being eaten alive by an Archangel’s wrath, souls screeching as they twisted and struggled against the oppressive golden light that absorbed and consumed them. The columns of blue-white flame thrashed about madly, their agony a warning to anything that turned it’s attention toward the glowing area.

Gabriel watched, indifferent, as the columns of flame slowly extinguish into piles of ash, their darkening fires casting long shadows of the trees to the ground. When the last one crumbled, the forest seemed stiflingly dark, pressing in on all sides.

The minute that the amber-yellow glow faded from Gabriel’s eyes, his wings folded back as he dropped beside the human gasping and struggling, weakly twitching as the demon percolated and took over his nervous system. “Jesus Christ, Vance... I’m sorry, Jesus...” He whispered, slinging his friend’s possessed body over his shoulders, sprinting to the horses waiting nearby.

The Men of Letters, when they weren’t using fancy modern cars, were using long legged horses that could navigate the forests easily. Jet and Pat were out with Gabriel and Vance, and while Pat was a brilliant golden pinto, Gabriel had always preferred Jet’s shining black-grey coat.

Now, though, when he used his wings to boost himself into the saddle, Jet’s steadfastness came into play. The black horse was unwavering, a stubborn creature, but he could sense the damage done to the other human on his back.

So when Gabriel grabbed his reigns in one hand, and Pat’s in the other, the Archangel questioned the horse’s intelligence, because once they were ready, Gabriel didn’t say a thing.

The horse took off without a word, hooves pounding strongly though the snow-covered woods.

-{[|]}-

When Wayne pulled the hood off, the demon shrieked as it was forcibly removed from one Devil’s trap, already stuck in another.

Vance’s face was marred by claw-like nail scratches, and the blood that leaked from red eyes covered his cheeks like oddly coloured tears.

Those present were Marcus, Vincent, De’van, Wayne and Elvira, as well as Gabriel, who leaned against the back wall with murder in his eyes.

“This’ll just go easier if you leave.” Vincent growled to the demon.

“As if I’d give up this body. Vance Winchester.” The demon threw back Vance’s head and laughed. “Perfect.”

The group circled nervously. Torture would help Vance nothing, and an exorcism could make the demon break every bone in Vance’s body before being sent back to Hell.

And Gabriel knew that smiting would just purge the corpse.

“...Marcus, can I talk to you?” De’van questioned from the back.

The second in command turned around and headed over, his taller stature slightly intimidating with the furious glare that wasn’t directed at De’van, Wayne or even Gabriel.

“I think I may have someone who can help, but to let her, we’d... We’d have to put down warding for a bit.”

“Who?” Wayne, Gabriel and Marcus questioned at the same time.

“...I have a call sigil for Raven. She can help.” De’van said after a pause. “She’s... Got some expertise.”

Raven. Gabriel’s Archangel instincts sang. There was a feeling attached to her name, like friendship but so much... stranger. Even if she was possessed by a demon, his most inner base, the Archangel energy side, was undeniably attracted to her, like a moth to a flame. She was powerful, interesting, intelligent, dangerous - the darkness to his light.

She was something entirely unique. And he wondered, briefly, if he liked it too much.

Marcus glanced back to Wayne, circling the demon with a predatory eye, but still slightly worried. “Can she get the demon out without damaging Vance?” He growled out.

“She can try.” De’van answered. “She’s got the best chance.”

“Call her.” Marcus half-ordered, resuming his silent, subtle tic, which was shifting his weight from leg to leg, as De’van nodded and spun around, vanishing from the room.

And inside, Gabriel’s Archangel instincts purred, knowing it would soon see that intriguing spot of power, the power that drew him in wth promises greater than his own capabilities. She would make a worthy ally to his Archangel grace.

He didn’t want to think about the other half of that. The part that wondered, faintly, if she’d make a good partner.

-{[|]}-

Gabriel wasn’t the one to answer the door when Raven arrived, but judging by the fact that he felt the warding drop for a bit, then resume, and that he could hear De’van, Marcus and another voice talking, he guessed that she had been allowed entrance.

Gabriel trotted into the main room, crossing his arms over his chest to try and hide his minor nervousness at the reintroduction of that... dark brightness that shone from her.

Over the last several months, Gabriel had spent his time researching Crossroads Demons, their deals, how the deals worked, and how someone could try to escape the deal, how to kill Hellhounds... The job had been distracting, not paying attention to what was going on in the Hunter community’s daily lives. He had been too busy to ask if anyone had seen her.

“Where is he?” The voice, a light, easing tone, questioned from the hallway. Gabriel peeked around the corner at the same time that Wayne opened up the door, and Raven stepped inside.

Her black hair shone in the elegant half-light, cut down and tied in a neat, slick ponytail, now laced with no subtle amount of frost. Gabriel could sense Damian swimming around her chest, waiting for either her command or an attack.

“...And you want me to pry a Crossroads demon from him, without damaging his body?” She asked, taking off her jacket and revealing a simple shirt underneath.

“That’s the idea.”

“...Alright.” She said smoothly. “Do you have a separate trap for afterward?”

Wayne stepped forward, handing her a jar with a Devil’s trap on the bottom. She made small humming noise, placing the jar at the side, before looking to the others. “Who needs to be in the room for this mess?” She questioned, circling the edge of the larger Devil’s Trap.

“...An odd ques-“ Marcus began, confused.

“Let me rephrase;” Raven responded simply. “I want De’van, Gabriel and Marcus in here. Nobody else.”

“And why’s that?” Vincent growled low, stepping further into the room.

“Because I don’t feel like it being either mine or my partner’s funeral.” She responded with a sharp glare.

“I can reassure you, Raven.” Marcus smiled placatingly. “Nobody will harm you. Or... them.” He finished hesitantly.

She looked around at the group of them, a silent judging of her chances against the group, before turning around. “Fine.” Raven nodded slightly. “I’ll take you at your word.”

And then she stepped into the trap.

The subconscious shudder that ran through her, the vulnerability and weakness that would now infect her, played to simply emphasize the position she was putting herself into in front of them.

The demon infecting Vance twisted his face into a grin. “Well, they brought in the boss, huh? Glad, because I only deal at the top.”

“Do you now?” Raven purred out with a subtle hissing undertone, arms folded behind her back. “Maybe you’ll be glad to know this then.”

The way the demon flinched, eyes gone wide and fearful rather than confident and cocky, Gabriel knew that Raven’s eyes had just flashed partially black, revealing what exactly she was.

“That’s what I thought.” She growled at the demon, stepping away slightly, watching him from an angle. “Now, we can do this peacefully, or we can do this another way.”

“...I won’t deal with traitors to the throne!” The demon proclaimed with a shake in his voice.

“Fair enough.” She responded with a shrug.

And then she opened her mouth, Damian pouring free.

Everyone excluding Gabriel and De’van flinched, staring with shocked eyes as the demon possessing Vance yelped, the noise enough to let the other black smoke creature find an entrance, flowing down his throat effortlessly.

Raven continued to circle Vance as his eyes flicked from red to black and back again, head twitching as the demons inside struggled for dominance over one another. Her nonchalance toward the event relaxed the others, but not significantly.

She paced around Vance’s twitching body, mouth gaping and closing like a fish out of water, as the demons fought their war for occupation of the body. When his head finally slumped, chin against his chest, before lifting with a pained expression, Raven spoke next.

“Damian?”

“Y-yeah.” Vance cracked open one eye, pure black filling it. “I-I’m here...” The demon bit out, wincing.

“Can you get him out?” Raven questioned, kneeling in front of the demon-possessed Vance and laying a hand on his cheek. “Or should I shake him a bit?”

“S-shake him!” ‘Damian‘ growled out.

The ease and speed at which she obeyed showed practice, as if what she began saying was totally normal. “Voco te, immunde spiritus, et verba mea vitare et pati!”

The exorcism was different entirely from any Gabriel had heard or seen before, the black-eyed demon apparently unaffected, while the crossroad’s demon screamed, red flashing through the black as smoke bubbled up in Vance’s throat.

“Deus desuper, et ad inferos deorsum, et ego in vobis fructum terrae oculos!” Raven snarled again, pacing around Vance with increased fervour. “Come on, Damian... Et venit ad lucem tortiones et dolores tenebunt...”

She paused as Vance’s head snapped forward, eyes turned red with a cry, before he listed to the side and she went on.

“...ab hoc corpore et anima, promissa Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.” Raven nodded as the black eyes appeared in Vance’s face once again. Through a contorted neutral expression, the demon nodded as well. “Audi, et uri!” Raven finished with a furious shout.

And two smoke entities, one a dark red while the other black, dumped from Vance’s body.

Raven immediately grabbed the back of Vance’s chair, hauling herself and the unconscious man from the circle, turning him over to Elvira’s care before whirling around, staying just outside the Trap.

The black and red smoke-balls twisted around each other, streams of balled hatred, hissing constantly as though made of compressed steam. The black one was smaller, though more skilled in the evident art of non-possession combat. It swirled and danced around the other one, constricting and clawing back. Squirming from under the better opponent, the red demon shot for Raven, with one foot inside the circle, only for the tail of the black one to loop around it’s end, ripping it away from Raven and slamming it back to the floor. The movement was expertly done, to the point where it looked rather impressive.

The group edged closer as Raven toed the line of the trap, watching the pair tussle with the capture jar in her hand, holding to the cork by her side, unfazed by the fact that she had almost been possessed. “Damian, stop showing off and let’s get this over with.” She ordered darkly as the demon smoke balls crouched on the ground, expanding and contracting as if breathing heavily.

The black one seemed to rise up, two tendrils of smoke splitting from the main body as though arms, the ends stabilizing and becoming sharp, mimicking blades.

He sat back, the blades sliding on the concrete with small clicking noises. The red one shifted nervously, as though waiting for a strike.

All three of them were waiting.

Then Raven let out a sharp, piercing whistle, stepping into the circle at the same time.

A black bolt lunged across the circle, knives spread with a terrifying hiss, the red one scrambling back desperately when one of the blades pierced it’s gaseous body. The noise the demon made was akin to a scream, a hideous shriek not unlike a knife being scraped on a sheet of metal.

Everyone winced, excluding Raven, who simply watched, pacing close to the demons as the other claw came up to slash through the corner of the squirming creature. The black one howled, like wind pushed over a tiny pipe, high-pitched and reedy, calling out it’s displeasure for the weaker red one stabbing significantly less sharp points into it’s underside.

“Damian, ready...” She knelt beside them, holding open the jar. “Now!” Raven barked, the black demon shooting off the red one at the same time that she scooped up the gaseous form, slapping the container shut without a second’s hesitation.

The room collectively let out a breath, though most of the gathering was watching the black demon with suspicion, and then alarm as Raven moved to the outer edge of the circle. She stepped through, setting the jar of furious, injured Crossroad’s demon in the centre of a table, before walking back over to the circle.

“It’s ok, Dami. Sit there for a second.” She whispered to the black shape that followed her closely, staying at the edge of the circle, waiting for an escape.

Gabriel and De’van didn’t make eye contact with anyone else, keeping their heads down and bodies small, as the others glanced between Raven, each other and the demon ensconced in the trap at the centre of the room.

It took a good bit of considering for the rest of the group, but Marcus gave a tiny nod to the others, a silent signal to take out the potential threat.

Vincent opened his mouth. “...Exorcizamus te-“

The sound of a gun’s hammer cocking at the same time that it was drawn and aimed broke him off.

Raven’s cold glare seemed darker than normal, glaring down a sight to point directly at Vincent’s head. The swiftness of the movement made everyone in the room freeze.

“One more word and three people are dead before you hit the floor.” She whispered low.

The whole group paused, room fallen silent with no small degree of fear as she stared down Vincent, who slowly raised his hands in a motion of surrender, keeping his mouth shut.

“Good choice.” Raven growled, stomping one foot over the outer ring on the trap, letting Damian squirm over the broken circle, immediately swirling over her shoulders, as though a fur collar. “It’s ok. Sorry.” She murmured to him, lowering her arm though she didn’t unclick the gun at her side. “...Now, I believe we’ll be leaving.” Her voice was deceptively soft, a layer of wool over a long knife, disguising and hiding the malicious intent of anyone who spoke against her.

Vincent watched with amazed curiosity as the demon swirled around her neck and chest, pressed close to her body but not possessing. When her hand rose to stroke through the ghostly form around her chest, Vincent spoke up.

“Are you controlling it?”

She paused, the mostly innocent question in his voice making her consider if she wanted to continue communicating. After a moment, she turned back to him. “No. His name is Damian. He’s... my partner.”

“A demon?” Marcus‘ face and tone held evident confusion as he relaxed his stance slightly.

“Yep.” She nodded, smiling faintly as she glanced down to the smoke figure around her middle. “Has been for a while.”

“He’s... not possessing you.” Elvira noticed, turning from Vance.

“Nope. He doesn’t want to right now, or maybe he’s hurt. I’m not certain.” She bit the corner of her lip. “Communication is hard when he’s like this.”

Damian changed directions and swirled softly around her arm, which made her chuckle. Everyone waited with tensed breath, as if expecting him to break her wrist, but instead she just petted him, the demon clinging to her hand as if a limpet.

“...Let us send him back, he’s manipulat-“

“Finish that sentence and I’ll tell you exactly where you can shove it.” Raven snarled viciously, and Damian subtly tightened his grip over her arm. “Ow, hey.” She turned to him, her disposition immediately changed.

“See, this is-“ Marcus stepped forward, holding out the salt.

“Back the fuck up!” She shouted, raising the gun to his head level again. “He was scared, he tensed.” Her eyes were dark as Marcus immediately jumped away.

De’van was suddenly moving, stepping between them, holding up his hands placatingly. “Look, Raven, I know that they don’t understand-“

“You knew about this?” Wayne, Marcus and Vincent shouted at the same time.

“But you really need to put the gun down.” De’van tried, even though the gun was now practically pressed to his chest.

Raven glared, as though attempting to eat a hole through De’van with her eyes, unmoving with will potentially as great as Gabriel’s. Before he could step in though, Damian unfurled from her arm and slid over the space to De’van, who immediately tensed up, watching as the demon wreathed over his shoulders and under one arm, before coming back up and returning to Raven.

She watched him with narrowed eyes, but when he came to wrap around her shoulder and neck, she relented. The gun lowered to her side, a sharp click sounding before she slipped it back in her pocket. “An exorcism starts, someone’s getting shot.” She promised darkly.

“And it’ll be on my head.” De’van finished with a grim nod.

With a slight growl, she glanced to Damian. “C’mon then.” She said. “We’re less welcome here than I thought.”

She opened her mouth and breathed in, the demon gently flowing into her body without too much thought. She dropped her head, shook it once and pulled up straight again, blinking once to reveal black eyes with her regular blue irises, then fading away to perfectly human eyes. “...Are we good now?” Raven questioned the collective, who watched her with shocked expressions.

“...Are we speaking to you or the demon?” Vincent snapped out. She whirled on him with pure-black eyes.

“Now, you’re speaking to me. Damian. Can you remember that?” The demon snarled in return, voice not even similar to Raven’s. Vincent flinched back, moving sharply away from the demon. “...That’s what I thought.” It growled, before the black faded out and Raven was back.

“Raven, this is dangerous. You’re working... with something you hunt!” Elvira exclaimed, stepping forward.

“And he’s the only one who’s kept my back for all these years.” She growled, turning around and starting slowly for the door.

“To gain your trust! It’s only a matter of time before he takes you over. Raven, you’re playing with fire here!” Vincent exclaimed.

“And I’ve got the burn scars to prove it.” She responded instantly, glancing over her shoulder with smouldering rage.

“That’s- You’re insane! It’s controlling you!” Marcus moved for her now, reaching to her arm. “Raven, please, listen to us, we need to get it-“ She whirled around, smacking his hand away from her shoulder.

Which was when her mouth opened, and with a small breath, Damian poured free. He immediately swirled above her head, landing on her shoulders, a clear sign that he wasn’t controlling her, because he wasn’t in her anymore.

She didn’t say anything, just instead stood with an expression that said ‘proof enough?’

“De’van told us you left your mother when you were younger, probably after you got possessed. You’re working with that piece of filth, and you put it as higher than your family!” Vincent shouted, but then immediately seemed to realize his mistake. He knew nothing about her life or De’van’s, only what he had heard. He had no idea what she could’ve been affected by.

There was a pregnant pause.

“...You have your friend back. I did my job. We’re leaving.” She said firmly, eyes steely with concealed anger.

“And what about you. And the demon you... use?” Marcus called to her back, where she picked her cloak off the side chair. “We know.”

“And what are you going to gain from it?” She responded. “Contacts know I get my job done.”

“They should know they’re working with a demon.” Vincent grumbled.

“So you’re saying I might work deals?” Raven’s voice was cold.

Cold enough that Gabriel flinched. The obvious accusation was dark and hurtful, but somehow she managed to turn it back on Vincent as Damian swirled around her shoulder, almost a comforting movement.

The dead, icy glare that she had fixed Vincent with never wavered.

“...Yes.” Vincent admitted slowly. “...You can’t keep evading... consequences, for working with something like... Like that.”

“I haven’t.”

“Haven’t what? Evaded the consequences? Because it sure looks like you have.”

“The bill will come due, South.” Raven stated, but it sounded more like a threat, all dark and slightly dirty sounding. “The bill always comes due. Trust me.”

And in a swirl of a thick black cape, Raven pulled the furred hood over her black hair and exited the room, moving swiftly toward the door as the guard-dog of a black smoke ball flowed over her shoulder, waiting until she slammed the button for the warding to turn off, then take the stairs in a dignified, ladylike fashion, the click of her shoes as much of a warning as the slick grind of a whetstone, or the unsheathing of a blade.

When she pushed the door open into the now-snowstorm, Damian moved out first, diving through the warding quickly, his smoke form blown and swept by the wind. Raven tightened her cloak around her body, and stepped into the storm.

Gabriel took the stairs two at a time to watch her walk into the snow, cursing himself for being such an idiot. He hadn’t gotten a chance to just talk to her, and now she was just leaving... Like the world still belonged to her.

He watched, the swish of her black cape and the demon by her outstretched hand staying close until the snow swallowed them up, a shadow and a wraith, lost to the faithless snow.

Like they were lost to people who might’ve been able to give comfort.


{?, 2014}

The attack began swiftly.

With alarms screamed over angel radio like the calls of desperate souls damned to Hell, undeservingly.

The thing hunting them was unyielding, didn’t tire and never slowed down, moving elegantly through the powerful creatures before it as if the angels were made of paper.

It cut them down in flashes of a silvery blade and darkened wings, too fast for the eye to see as it stalked down hallways and searched corners, slashing out the throat of anything found alive.

They cowered before it, useless petals of an already-dead flower, slowly being consumed by something they once considered a leader. Now, it tore them into pieces, smeared their vessels and grace across the walls and floor in a bloody tapestry, a brutal Picasso of reds and softly fading blues.

The kills were precise, clean, and in order. Bodies would be left where they were found, slews of angels slaughtered before the endless march of their pursuer, the apex predator.

It hunted without remorse or enjoyment, the apathetic, blank face and a sharp gleam of powerful eyes all that they saw before death, and sometimes not even that. Sometimes it was simply a flash of yellow sunlight, right before a blade went through their ribs, grace consuming itself in a charring wave.

The thing didn’t waste time gloating with kills, it didn’t pause or stop, it didn’t halt the ceaseless hunt, a constant march. Angel blood flowed from it’s sword, dripping to the floor in a minute stream, half the creature’s face covered in similar splatter.

It didn’t say anything. No amount of talking, in Enochian or language of earth could get a flicker of recognition - a flicker of intelligence beyond the mission - to appear. It was a hunter with no emotion, no connection, no need for the flesh it left behind. It required neither sustenance nor energy, simply the endless trudge of one base to the next.

It had minuscule direction, though.

That was what Termar learned, when she attempted to get her brothers and sisters freed from a base of Malachi’s angels. The creature was there in a strike of lightning, staring at her with cold, sharp eyes.

She waited, frozen in fear, as it glared, expecting to be added to the thing’s body count. Instead, it simply turned away, throwing open the door with barely a flick of it’s wrist.

Her friends, noncombatants, made it free, while the rest of the angels were less fortunate. They were slaughtered without pause, their lifeblood and grace spilling across the pockmarked grey concrete, turning it slick with uncongealed substances. The bodies were left to drain, their blood searching the halls for an escape as it lead Termar and her allies free.

But the surviving angels were left with a clear, nonverbal warning; If you were a combatant, you were to die.

It continued stalking, shredding armies of the warring groups, scattering their leaders and hunting around the globe, where different factions were stationed for fighting each other.

The news traveled fast, after a few attacks. The news went everywhere, and it was no light warning. It was a call, a statement, a display of power that could not be ignored, by any angel on the planet.

Five words that terrified them all, were painted on walls like graffiti by young angels, signed with grace, their noncombatant skills coming into play to provide a sharp danger sign to demons, angels, and monsters alike. It was always the same five words, each and every single time. And every single time, it made every creature shudder, hide their face and pray to what was left of Heaven, because it would stop at nothing, until it’s mission was finished. So the five words, for the moment, held the rod with which the object of the sentence wielded.

‘Archangel Gold is on Earth.’

-{[|]}-

Day. Overcast. No rain, not until 4:06 PM Mountain Standard, at which point it would sprinkle lightly for 57 minutes, before the rain will come down swiftly, with a cross-breeze of 42 miles per hour in sporadic bursts that would blow the rain at a 38.6 degree angle. The water itself would be 3 degrees colder than the air surrounding it, but it would not freeze.

The facts registered in his mind without much conscious thought, simply a play-by-play of what he may need to watch for. Flying above the atmospheric ceiling could cause his wings to ice, and while he didn’t care about his own temperature, iced wings were slower and more cumbersome, a liability in a fight.

He touched down outside the church, the house of his Father, blade heavy and silent in his hand. His vessel was uninjured, functioning at peak capacity, his grace providing enough energy and recovery to it to keep it from decaying, the constant degradation of human flesh a gratingly unfortunate mortal adaptation.

Archangel Gold didn’t bother touching the door, simply throwing it aside with his grace and stalking into the sanctuary. Humans, there for confession, prayer or otherwise took in his sharp glare with confusion and trepidation, watching as he whipped around a corner and headed for one of the confession stalls.

Angel. Male. Older. Priest in training. He could sense the grace a few hundred miles away, glittering like a dangerous spark set to light a fire that would blaze across the old-growth forests of the area.

Archangel Gold’s hand bit into the wood, cracking the handle with the force as he tore it open, reached in and threw the angel out, onto the red (Dye. Artificial. Fabric is dusty.) carpet. He immediately scrambled back, eyes wide, as though not expecting the thing that greeted him.

“Y-you!” He exclaimed, vessel paling as a natural reaction to the stress and fear that the angel within was experiencing.

He didn’t grace it with a reply.

When the blood sprayed over his hands from the angel’s rent neck, he didn’t feel the splatter. He did hear the screams, though.

The angel, screaming as he was burned alive in his vessel, grace attempting to repair a tear in itself that couldn’t be fixed while choking on his vessel’s fluids. The humans, screaming as they tried to escape what looked like a madman, murdering their immature priest. The nuns and their bishop, screaming in horror of a murder in God’s church, demands to call the police.

Don’t you know? He wanted to ask. Don’t you know that God has slaughtered hundreds in the name of protecting his people? Just as I am now?

He didn’t ask though. The humans didn’t need to know. Instead, he stood up, calmly wiping the blade of his sword off on the corner of his shirt, a thin, filmy residue of grace clinging to it, homage to the number of times he had cleansed similar stains from the molecules and threads. After that, he glanced over the burned wingmarks on the ground, their messy, half-ruined appearance a calling to the angel in Heaven, pretending as if he was God.

Archangel Gold opened his wings, filling the church with a faintly yellow-orange glow, before taking off, vanishing to the humans. He left them with the body.

-{[|]}-

The next hunt was successful. Each one was.

Every time he traveled to a new location, he ensured he had the element of surprise, never hunting within the same area twice in a time frame.

Monday. Europe. A military encampment on the border of Iraq. 11:43 AM.

Sunny, with smatterings of thin stratus clouds casting linear, lens-shaped shadows on the ashen grey-red ground. There was no crossbreeze to slow the unending waft of sunlight heat over the people milling about tents on the sand.

None of them had noticed, though, the one of their rank who didn’t seem to be having too much of an issue, moving with a small spring in his step.

This angel was a noncombatant. Skillful, resourceful, defending humans while not getting involved in the angel war. He was not what Archangel Gold was there for. He was there to protect the noncombatant.

Two angels were heading his way. One of the leaders of the warring groups, and a bodyguard. He was a larger, tougher angel, specifically warrior, but nothing he wouldn’t be able to handle. It would make the capture of the leader more difficult, but the fight would be swift.

They were incoming from the northwest, a helicopter that betrayed the fact of their burned, charred wings. Archangel Gold had noticed a lot of angels that he had fought with semi-burned wings, maybe able to be saved and healed, but most of them were combatants. And in order to help the noncombatants fly again, he first had to get rid of all the fighters.

Archangel Gold checked over the small dune of sand where he hid, practically buried in it he had spent so long. The wind blew over him, sand grains gradually piling up over his still body. He didn’t bother blinking, guarding the lenses of his vessel’s eyes with a thin layer of grace as he observed their small, windblown encampment.

The helicopter touched down, rails sinking into the sand before the individual grains interlocked and formed a hard enough base for it to stay stable. Within it’s belly were three humans and the two angels, their wings shuffling painfully behind their backs.

Rotating around and struggling free of the sand, Gold followed at a distance, observing as the noncombatant angel’s wings twitched, folding tight to his spine in a display of fear.

Baring his teeth in displeasure, Gold crept closer, stalking near enough to hear the fighter angels, one in a suit and one in a militant outfit, talk to the general of the base.

Mark Edwin. That was the noncombatant’s human name. Gold made another move, shifting toward them on the sand. To him, it was just the voices around him, the hum of the angel’s graces, and the low, careful tones of the vessels they used.

When Mark Edwin stepped back, hiding almost behind one of his human friends, the bodyguard angel moving forward, burned wings coloured a faint tan-brown, Archangel Gold lunged.

Wings outstretched as he descended with unbelievable speed, gliding less than a foot from the sand, which flew up in a dusty yellow plume behind him. The bodyguard spun around, wings flaring to his sides as he let out a shriek of alarm, right before Gold rammed into him, wings blowing forward, pounding the lesser into the dirt.

Shouts of confusion rang up mere seconds after the Gold hit, tackling the other angel to the ground. Their wings flapped furiously, wind and dust kicked by the movement of unearthly appendages. Gold drew his wings up around his body, arched high above, casting an intimidating shadow over the other angel.

Gold shifted, bringing his wings back down to pin the angel’s hands and wings to the ground, raising up his blade and plunging the sword through the chest of the vessel.

The crackling, wet pop noises of his sternum splitting open, the blade shredding the stem bronchus, echoed in Gold’s ears as he sunk the sword in deep, knowing when he had gone clean through the spine of his victim.

The angel gasped and choked, eyes going wide and blank as Gold drove deep, then immediately withdrew, tip tracing a glowing line out of his body as the Archangel’s wings cartwheeled him around, glittering brightly in the sunlight, before landing, sand blowing about his small body like smoke and ashes of those defeated.

Grey-blue wings. Male. Alphun. His instincts filled in as the other angel turned and started fleeing, eyes wide in terror as Gold advanced with swift assurance, blade dripping blood at his side.

One of the humans, finally realizing the danger, raised their gun and fired several shots. Archangel Gold simply lifted a wing, the hard outer edge absorbing the impact as if it was rain against his feathers before flicking the useless lumps of lead out of his ochre wing, opening the set of six to their widest and beating once.

“Impossible!” Alphun gasped, stepping back with a horrified expression.

Gold didn’t answer.

Instead he moved forward, wings an arc of destruction that sliced through the sand as if it wasn’t there, right before pouncing on the stunned grey-winged angel, feathers flying in all directions as Gold’s wings turned sharp and hard, the blades of his feathers cutting into Alphun’s own, pinning him just long enough to draw up his blade, drive it through-

And a human pounced on him.

Full body tackle, spreading his wings wide off the angel pinned beneath his grasp and flipping over, sense of direction momentarily confused before one wing shoulder twisted back and his first wing shot forward, a corner-edged punch to the human’s side, flinging him a clean forty feet away without much effort.

Gold rolled to his feet, listening to the distinctive thump of a human body hitting the ground, the small crackling of his bones, and the laboured, weak thudding of his heart, a hammer on cloth.

Civilian casualty. He thought, a brief flash of... remorse running through him. It made him stumble, fall back slightly.

He remembered this.

“...It’s ok, Gold. (but not Gold...) Sometimes... Things just happen, and you can’t stop them."

With that memory, came the shape of snowfall-white wings, crystal eyes and a kind smile.

“FIRE!” One of the humans, a general, yelled, drawing Gold from the recesses of his grace.

Don’t fail them again. You must protect, never harm. Kill the combatant, save the noncombatant, leave the humans. His grace ordered, and Gold barely twitched before his body responded, utterly ignoring the bullets that either pierced his vessel or bounced from his wings, his entire focus on the once-again pinned angel beneath his body.

Gold slashed the blade over Alphun’s throat, the angel screaming once before going still, grace draining into the sand.

And just like that, the spell was broken, and Gold was gone.

-{[|]}-

Salt Lake City. 3:46 AM. Warehouse 282, owned by Bildex construction. Hiding point of a demon meeting, in favour of Knight of Hell, Abaddon.

Notes on Abbadon; Ineffective queen, impulsive and unwilling to change her plans for smarter, more future-considerate ideas. Replace with subject; Crowley.

Archangel Gold watched through a window, the demonized souls swirling within their possessed victims, milling about and simply discussing the souls and the state of their kingdom. There was 214 demons that Gold could see, and another 27 that were hidden behind walls, leaning and acting casual. They were more powerful than the commoners within, keeping lookout and offering protection to the lesser demons.

His blade vanished from his grasp, unneeded for this particular incident. There were no angels inside. All that would be left behind would be ashen shadows of bodies, as though someone had set off a bomb in the room.

Gold swept his wings forward before carefully tucking them back behind his spine, relaxed but at the ready.

The door, old and rusted and the molecules of paint no longer clinging quite so tightly, was half-locked shut on aged hinges, but he gripped tightly and pulled it open without much thought.

Two-hundred demonic eyes turned to him in shock and horror.

Gold stepped inside, sharp gaze slowly scanning the crowd gathered before him, observing the demons glance shiftily between each other, uncertain of what to do next.

Then he pulled his wings from his back, and with a smile, meant to be intimidating and nothing more, Gold filled the room with light.

It spread into every crack and crevice as his wings arched above his head, spread wide on either side of him so that all three sets were visible, feathers glowing with unearthly power, Heaven’s might shining down behind him.

The demons screamed, guarding their faces with their arms, struggling to escape out windows and doors as their victim’s skin boiled, bodes baked under the heat of the grace, crackling and peeling. Howling in pain, the demons squirmed under a wash of yellow-orange light which was ripping them apart.

A few tried to smoke free, their twisting, coiling black bodies and panicked faces briefly illuminated by the gold, before being consumed in a wave of energy.

The high-pitched, reedy ringing of Gold’s grace gradually filled the area, growing oppressively loud as he amped up the power, accelerating the wave of horrific holy power that ate away at the creatures within.

When Gold finally started lowering his wings, pulling them behind his back and shuffling the feathers straight, the glow fading away to nothing. He shook out his shoulders, a shimmery dust falling from his wings, ash turned into small metal shards.

Subjects terminated. Gold’s grace informed as he glanced around the room, then turned, spreading his wings once more to launch into the sky, gliding away silently from the place of destruction.

-{[|]}-

Archangel Gold could recognize when he was tired, exhausted even, grace needing a recharge and a rest.

And now, sitting in the canopy of a redwood tree with his wings exposed, he knew that he wouldn’t need long.

He shuffled his feathers softly, the rustling a reminder that everything was how it was meant to be, the smooth primaries and secondaries in their places, fluffing up and relaxing periodically, muscles and bones lax behind him.

Gold couldn’t attach a feeling to this sensation, but the awareness of how little he was doing to protect Heaven was explicitly clear in that moment. He wasn’t contributing to his goal, he wasn’t defending the Gates... he felt quite displeasured about the whole ordeal.

But his grace did need rest if he was to continue functioning at a high level, which meant letting his vessel sit, and allow his true form to be buoyed by the ebb and flow of energy within the human body. While it might not have been getting the air or other substances it required, it still needed some care.

Gold stroked one hand through his feathers, aligning them for best speed and agility, before standing on the branch of the tree. The huge sequoia supported his weight easily, barely bending under his vessel’s short, small nature.

His wings opened up, catching the wind with a soft rustle, right before Gold dropped off the branch, feathers smoothing into hard lines as he plunged for the ground, then changing his angle and shooting back into the sky, bursting through the canopy and aiming for the next target, a few active angels meeting not far from his location.

He flew swiftly.

-{[|]}-

He burst through the window of the hotel’s basement, shards of glass shining in the half-light, the new-setting sun illuminating the spinning pieces in a filigree of entropy, the light tinkle of their resonance filling his ears. His wings swept outward, reducing his landing speed as the two angels within stared in awe.

“Run!” Shouted one, the pair turning to flee.

Archangel Gold whirled around, whipping his sword at the one’s outstretched wing, the sword sliding effortlessly through the muscle and bone before plunging into the concrete floor, pinning the angel to the ground.

The trapped one let out a screeching howl as Gold spun, catching the second by the shoulder. This angel, though, wasn’t one to simply attempt an escape, rather, clawing back, cutting a thin ribbon of red through the Archangel’s arm.

With a startled huff, Gold sprung back, glancing between the deep, angelic-made wound in his arm and the angel who had his vessel’s blood dripping from the point of his sword.

Flipping blood off his fingers with a muted sensation of displeasure, what anyone else would consider annoyance, Gold stalked forward, wings flared at the ready, an intimidation show like nothing else, full energy of an Archangel a terrifying sensation, like metal and ozone and awe.

Summoning his blade to his hand, Gold moved swiftly, one hand clamping on the closer angel’s wing. The surprised angel let out a shriek, squirming futilely against the grip of the much more powerful creature twisting his wing behind his back.

“Ah! Ahh!” He gasped, kicking weakly in sight lashes as Gold simply held him, turning to the brother who was attempting to flee.

“Stop.” Gold ordered shortly, the angel’s legs locking up with the blatant command. The angel hesitated, grace bleeding on the floor, before starting to move again. “Stop or I rip his wing off.”

“Ah! No, please! Keliel, please, no!” The captive angel squirmed, panic overloading his vessel as tears streamed down his cheeks.

Keliel slowly turned around, injured wing at his side. “...What do you want from me, Archangel?”

“Where is Bartholomew.” Gold demanded in a monotone. When the answer wasn’t immediate, his grip tightened impatiently on the wing in his hand.

At his partner’s screech of pain and horror, Keliel answered. “Ok, ok! You win!” He exclaimed, and Gold’s grip relaxed minutely on the broken feathers. The other angel sobbed with relief and pain, shaking in terror and agony. “Bartholomew’s dead.”

Gold said nothing, but when the other angel’s shrieking resumed, the answer was clear.

“Look, that’s all we know! When Castiel killed Bartholomew, we got out! We didn’t want to keep going like this! We couldn’t be part of that faction, so we left!” Keliel swept one hand in front of him. “We don’t know who’s the next leader, though!”

Gold scrutinized them for a few moments, watching Keliel with narrowed, but impassive eyes. “...Understood.” He shrugged, hold on the other angel easing.

The grey-green winged creature in his arms slumped, breathing shaky, shuddering breaths, interrupted by small sobs as tears dripped onto the floor.

Then Gold pulled back, turned his hand and twisted off the wing.

The slick, wet pop of the joint breaking, then the ripping of flesh like wet paper echoed in the hall, the broken, severed wing falling to the ground with a dull thud, burned feathers and flesh almost more evident with the grace leaking free.

It wasn’t going to heal anyway.

Keliel’s eyes were huge, utterly focused on the shattered wing lying across the ground. The other angel froze for a half second, body tensing up and freezing, uncertain about it’s next actions.

Then he screamed.

True voice howling wail, the remaining glass shattering as Gold dropped the ball of sobbing, screeching angel to the floor. Each inhale of his vessel made a reedy sawing noise, as if trying to breathe through a whistle, and each exhale sounded like a cry. Or maybe a prayer.

Gold ignored it, instead walking up to the shell-shocked angel staring blankly at the wing, the dead, empty wing, turning to ash before his very eyes.

Then he turned his blade down and slashed through Keliel’s vessel, the vertebrae severing like taut string before a knife, his head hitting the floor before the human’s nervous system caught up to the fact that it was dead. The moments of the empty body standing upright were strangely relaxing, only peace as Gold waited, knowing that the other angel wouldn’t survive more than another ten minutes.

His grace would bleed out, Gold knew, so he left him lying on the ground, sobbing weakly, one wing torn off his body.

Gold shook out his own wings, sheathing his blade, before walking for the front door, closing it carefully behind him.

-{[|]}-

Six angels in a car.

Some memory of his drew the name ‘Geniel’ forward, attaching it to the lead angel with pink-orange wings.

Archangel Gold watched closely for signs of movement that might indicate a change of direction as he glid over the van.

It was tan, as pure-coloured as everything the angels did. Easy to spot in the crush of semi-dusted vehicles driving on the streets of Chicago. When the van slowed to make a left, Gold leaned over, slowly banking alongside them, wings pounding at the air languidly.

While he knew that Geniel needed to be killed, he really didn’t want a battle in the middle of the street if he could avoid one. They attracted spectators, and humans, easily injured, delicate humans, could get in the way.

He didn’t like that.

The car finally managed to find a space beside the apartment complex where the meeting would take place, pulling into the space with a small squeal of brakes. With an angry growl, Gold turned his wings downward and prepared to attack.

It appears that they won’t be driving through anything hidden. He thought, changing his vessel’s appearance slightly, pulling a hood over his head, and finally, making himself visible.

Some human, thinking he was a suicide of some kind, screamed, attracting one angel’s attention, right before Gold raised his arm and aimed a spark of grace.

The van exploded.

Flaming debris went in all directions as the angels were blown clear, lacerations appearing on their pressed jackets and exposed skin, cars screeching to a stop around them, swerving to avoid the sudden detonation. Other alarms wailed loudly in the area, howling as humans scrambled to get away from what may have seemed like a terrorist attack.

Geniel, in her businesslike grey pencil-dress, was guarded on either side by two angels, the other four lying in various states of consciousness on the concrete nearby.

Gold swung his legs underneath his body, wings flaring to slow his descent, a gentle backbeat cutting his speed down as his blade appeared in his hand, light flickering down it’s razor edge.

The first angelic bodyguard of Geniel’s summoned his own blade, the other’s hand glowing red with a Rit Zien’s power. The first lunged, sword slashing down for Gold, who parried easily. The blue sparks that flickered free, flecks of grace that showered onto the tar below, making small crackles as energy discharged into the ground.

“Miss, go inside.” The Rit Zien ordered shortly, pushing Geniel toward the entrance with his inactive hand, before heading for the sword fight between Gold and the other angel.

Gold dodged the first strike from the Rit, twisting his spine around to escape from the red light. He wondered why the Rit could even target him. He wasn’t injured, and he definitely wasn’t in pain.

It was suspicious.

Gold leapt up and spun, kicking the Rit’s hand at the same time that the downslash of his blade caught the other angel’s arm, blood and grace welling up from the slashed wrist.

One foot hit the ground, allowing him to practically break his spine rolling over to face forwards, driving his blade clean through the angel’s sternum. The crackle it made upon impact was quieter than the crunching of bone being torn down the middle as Gold picked up the body by the neck, swinging it behind him and into the Rit, the blade embedded in it’s ribs carving a clean line through the chest.

The Rit staggered back, eyes wide with horror, as grace from a burning angel landed in his arms, right before the angel inside the vessel detonated. The Rit’s distraction by the blinding light was more than enough time for Gold to cleave his head from his shoulders.

The second body hit the ground after he turned his back to it, walking into the apartment building with a blank expression. His grace covered him in a watery disguise, completely invisible to any human who cast a look his way, as he flew carefully up the stairs, wings bracing and banking in hallways too narrow for his span.

Gold climbed, singling out the worriedly flickering wisp of grace that was hiding between the human souls, hunting it down with unerring accuracy.

When Gold used a wing to blow a door in, focusing on Geniel without much hesitation, the humans in the room stared at him fearfully, concerned for the supposedly crazy man who launched at the terrified woman in their hallway without much thought-

And Gold hit an invisible wall.

To an angel, the noise the sigil wall made was similar to someone running into a metal door, loud and painful and abrupt as Gold bounced backward, landing on the floor.

His wide, confused eyes immediately fixed on her, then flicked up to the sigil on the roof.

“Gold, listen closely.” Geniel growled low, all authority and fury, though Gold was no longer paying attention to her. “Gold!” She ordered sharply.

His empty, blank eyes turned to her.

“There. Pay attention. You are a weapon of Heaven, and we serve Heaven. Now, that sigil will contain you and hold your powers, until we can get you to somewhere safe for reconditioning.” She stated, ignoring the humans.

Gold stared at her, understanding the words entirely and ready to obey, though his grace wasn’t so convinced. Lies. Only those trusted and God may command.

Gold’s eyes narrowed, grace switching operation. Use; Silver energy. Useful in such events.

The roof above him split, ice clawing it’s way through the plaster as people screamed, fleeing the area.

“How did-“ Geniel stared in awe, almost impressed that Gold had the strength to resist a sigil that powerful, Enochian woven into the blood used to draw it.

Gold didn’t respond, instead raising his blade above his head as he stepped free of the sigil, driving it down on her head as she howled for mercy.

Blood welled up in the pit that he carved into her skull, quiet and warm over his supporting hand, before he spread his wings and vanished once again.

And in the room, left behind by a fleeing human, a phone rang, it’s blues-y feeling song playing for the empty room to know.

‘You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution... will be live.’


-{[|]}-


The next base was a little more carefully scouted.

Within were numerous elder angels, including his target, Adnachiel, but also a number of younger, smaller angels. Three had especially bright graces, and his scouting had shown that all three were extremely skilled, with decently healed wings.

This would not be a fight he would escape unscathed.

Gold slipped in through a window on the second floor, three floors from Adnachiel, knowing he’d need to fight through the small, well-trained attack-force that were serving as his bodyguards.

Creeping through the hallway, ducking into other rooms when required, Gold made slow progress in finding both the bodyguards and Adnachiel.

Footsteps, down the stairs. His head snapped to stare as he swerved into a side room, peering around the corner carefully.

One of the younger angels. The bodyguards. His grey-marked tan wings lay against his shoulders, minimal singing on their wrists and tips. He wasn’t flight worthy, but he may have had a chance at recovery.

Gold popped out of the room behind him, snaking one arm over his mouth before yanking him backward, quickly tipping his head back and slicing the throat, a wet spurt of blood flying forward as the large veins in his neck were severed.

Lowering the body quietly to the ground, Gold kept moving, arriving at the second floor easily and without further interruptions.

“Hey!”

Nevermind. Interrupted. His disposition grew cold with the annoyance of being challenged, the male seraph’s green and brown wings spreading at his sides. Most of his primaries and secondaries were missing, burned off by a single lash of fire, the blood feathers permanently damaged. He’d never fly again.

But for now, they were useful combat weapons.

The angel’s blade dropped into his palm, followed only by Gold’s own blade being drawn, and the clash of their attacks rang out over the hallway.

The angel sidestepped, blade slipping from the hilt of Gold’s, his arm twisting as the Archangel caught him in a swift parry. Jumping back, the angel regained his bearings, sword at the ready for when he stepped in again. Gold met his lunge with a swift kick to the chest, knocking the other off-balance as his blade flipped in his hand, the noticeably longer Archangel blade flashing on the artificial lights within the building.

Neither said anything, the smaller’s green wings fluttering behind his back as he arched them up, an intimidation spread.

And suddenly, Gold knew why they were acting so strange.

Subject; Naomi. Garrison leader with odd ideas that she called progressive. Brainwashing all angels except for leaders, using them as programmable tools.

Gold’s eyes narrowed. These young angels would never act so bold against an Archangel, not unless they were forced to. Which meant that there had to be a leader angel somewhere around, someone to command the group on the field.

On the next attack, Gold ducked under a slash, his hair flaring out in a small halo around his head before he shot forward, ripping through the other angel’s ribs.

Immediately, the angel staggered and went down on one knee, barely managing to deflect the blow that Gold slammed down on him, sparks flying to the floor at the gong-like crash.

Green wings flaring to his sides, the angel shot upright again and swung, intending to catch Gold on the shoulder. The roboticism of the motion was what caught Gold, a pattern to his motions, easy to block and slide through if he knew what the angel was going to do.

The attack barely nicked his arm as Gold took a step backward, faking an unbalanced motion. The angel lunged forward, intending to trip him and slice open his throat when Gold pulled forward again.

Ducking under the level slash, Gold drew up behind the angel’s exposed side, burying his knife in the angel’s ribs.

The gasping choke as his lungs were torn open was a brutal sound, like wet cardboard being shredded, before he collapsed to his side, curled over the bleeding rip in his side.

Gold turned away, going for the stairs again, when the raspy, steadily fading wheezes caught his attention.

Slowly, he turned around, walking back over to the dying angel.

The least he could do, for a skilled opponent, was a swift death.

Then he moved to the next floor.

When he pushed open the metal door, he was expecting, perhaps, an ambush.

But definitely not someone casually leaning against the wall about twenty feet from him.

Young angel, a pretty female. She struck him as strange, the brightness of her rusted orange wings, even with the burned edges, almost abnormal, as if her grace resonated with his own.

“Well...” She sighed, smiling grimly. “I wondered how long it’d take you to handle Nikiel and Sebastian. Not as long as I wanted, I guess.” She pushed off the wall, her wings held at a light, easy elegance behind her. Their attitude, stance, even the smooth, oiled feathers showed that she was still capable of flight. Not long-distance, but flight.

Gold’s head tipped. He knew this grace, recognized it. Admitted, now it was older, more seasoned, but there, never the less.

“I figured it out just days after you left.” She shrugged, coming a little closer, the hallway wider than the other ones with the doors shut and locked. “The six wings, the power. The way you could fly, and make it look fun, rather than just... transport. I guessed it was you all along.”

He slowly let his blade slither into his palm, hand tightening on it’s handle.

“...You’re not who I wanted you to be.” She sighed softly. “I wanted you to be... Heaven’s light, like they said you were.” Her head shook, vessel’s short blonde hair bouncing slightly on her head with the motion. “I went, and I searched. I searched for every angel in Heaven who knew anything about you. I wanted... To know how you were like, fighting and flying. And knowing what I know, I know you wouldn’t want to be... this.”

Gold remained silent, letting her speak.

When he didn’t say anything, she breathed out and continued. “But I’ve trained my whole life to fight.” She announced. “That’s been my focus ever since you left me up there, by the Gate.” Her grace started to force it’s humming louder, melodic and slow, like the first note of a heartbeat held into eternity, wings pulling high on her spine and spreading to touch the walls of the hallway. “To be as strong as you. To come as close to being an Archangel as I could.”

Her own blade dropped to her fingers, light and swift. Gold noticed with an impressed eye that the blade had been modified, thinner and sharper, featherweight and easy to handle with it’s shaped hilt. It resembled an Archangel’s blade.

“Well...” She breathed, raising the blade to her face and examining it slowly. “...I guess neither of us get what we want, huh, Gabriel?” She questioned.

Gold flinched subtly, but his expression and stance didn’t shift the slightest bit.

They moved at the same time, mirror images of each other, blades coming from the same angle to crash together, the air-sucking sensation of grace connecting, remembering, copper and golden wisps of energy swirling between them from the crossed weapons.

The implosion from the half-done mixing of grace shattered every window on that floor, glass falling to the floor in a chaotic musical, reflecting their motions as she swept her sword down, throwing Gold’s footing to the side as her wing rose up to attack.

He threw his own wing forward, suddenly forced to change his combat style just to match her, blocking the copper-orange feathers that impacted his wing. Flaring the long appendages, Gold threw off her wing and returned with a punch from his largest on the other side. She danced to the side, wings spread and beating once to duck away from the attack, barely parrying the downslash that followed the wing.

Bringing up one leg, she planted a firm kick to his stomach, forcing him back while she spun away, glass crackling under her feet. “You’re fast.” She purred smoothly, but Gold could sense the trepidation and wariness. The initially traded blows had shown her exactly what she was dealing with. She may have been a seraphim, much higher ranking than a common seraph, but she was still fighting an Archangel.

She jumped in, grace lancing off the tip of her blade as she swung, the burning copper energy ripping a charred scar into the drywall as his blade gleamed golden, the sparks mixing when contact was made.

Gold shoved forward, sliding his blade down to the hilt of hers and twisting, almost flipping the silvery sword free of her hand before she raised a wing and forced him to twist away and block the strike, just enough space for her to carve a thin, angry line through his ribs.

A strangled noise escaped his throat as her - evidently more modified than he assumed - blade sliced into his skin, grace searing his true form with pain as the vessel’s nerve endings lit with burning agony.

Gold staggered away, staring in shock between her blade and the blood on his hand, interspersed with glittering flecks of grace.

She seemed equally as surprised as he was, meeting his eyes with a wide stare of her own, before glancing to her sword. “Huh... So it works on you too.”

Then her grace flashed through the blade, illuminating blood sigils and wards wreathed into the metal. The glow was a warning as clear as a snake’s rattle; the blade was meant to poison angels, prevent them from healing themselves.

With a quick shake of his head, Gold refocused and stalked forward again, wings hooding his body aggressively as golden rays scattered along the walls.

She smirked and met him move for move, refusing to back down before the powerful Archangel, her barely-singed copper wings reflecting glittering orange light within the hallway.

They began anew.

Blow after blow. Knives to the limbs, wings, even a chunk carved out of Gold’s shoulder, the blood running thin as his vessel began to empty. The fight had been going on for almost half an hour, the young angel equal to his own swordsmanship at a smaller stature, with fewer feathers in the way. At the current rate he was fighting, he would be forced to retreat, and attempt this fight again another day.

When he finally recognized an error.

When she swung left, her wing pulled up, out of it’s guarding position by centimetres, just enough space for him to slip into.

He shot in, catching her wing on the upper wrist, blocking it from folding inward as his wings flared out, distracting with their flashy golden colour, right as he flipped the blade around in his hand and brought it down, driving it through her spine without hesitation, the crackle of bone breaking and flesh separating loud and distinctive.

She immediately went rigid, body locking up in it’s death throes as the brilliant copper wings began to char, the grace left inside eating her alive.

Slowly, she reached up with a shaking hand and grabbed his shoulder, flipping herself around gingerly, even as Gold lowered her to the ground with far more care than he should’ve had.

“W-well... Gabe...” She panted low, chest muscles spasming as they struggled to compensate for the damage done to her body, the last breaths of something already dead. “...G-guess-“ She coughed. “G-guess we d-did g-get what w-we wanted...”

He gave her a strange, silent look, kneeling beside her struggling body.

“I g-got... to see y-you... again.” She chuckled breathily, her half-limp hand rising toward his face. “A-and... y-you...” She placed it delicately on his face, as though scared she’d break him, thumb gently rubbing across his cheek. “...Y-you’re th-the real... f-fixer of H-Heaven.”

Her fingers were cold, shivering against the skin of his vessel, body finally starting to cease it’s fight for life, energy spent. When her hand started to slide from his jawbone, he wasn’t sure what possessed him to reach up and support it again, using his other hand to gather the burning, dying copper winged body into his lap, head on his shoulder.

He wasn’t sure why he spoke either, but he said a few simple, final words to her halting breathing.

“...The world changes you.”

Her huffed, the weak sob sounding painful to his own indifferent ears.

Then silence.

-{[|]}-

The pink-orange wings of Geniel burned within her office, trapped alone, with no backup or assistance coming. He was uncaring to the brutality of the attack, or the blood left behind. The only thing that had actually had... any sort of impact on him, was laying the copper-winged angel down, crossing her arms over her chest with her sword through the middle. A warrior’s death.

She fought valiantly. She deserved that burial, not to be left by the side like a common rat.

He wasn’t sure why it made him feel so...

Alone.

Archangel Gold stared at Geniel’s body one final time before spreading his wings, blood flakes peeling from the feathers, before turning for the horizon and vanishing once more.

Chapter Text

{March, 1911}

Gabriel took the head from another vamp, carefully searching the forest for the remaining few. For all he knew, Marcus and Vincent had already handled them, but judging by the sudden gunshot that rang out some ways to his left, the threat definitely wasn’t ‘handled’.

Week after week, attack after attack, and monsters, witches and beasts of all kinds were gradually pressing in on the Bunker. Admitted, nobody had even come close to the hidden door concealed into the hill, but Gabriel supposed that was part of the magic.

Flipping his blade into his belt, Gabriel vaulted a fallen tree and shot for the direction of the gunshot, lengthening his strides over the bare forest floor, weaving between trees and tall bushes.

When he saw Vincent looming over a fang with no small grin, Gabriel knew he had this handled. When the sharp report of the rifle in his hands cut through the brain of the vamp, Gabriel kicked off the next tree and headed for Marcus’ stationed point.

The instant he heard the shriek of cornered fury and a fang’s roar of hatred, Gabriel picked up his pace, shooting over the roots and crunchy covering of dead leaves, skidding on the spring-mushy ground.

Just in time to spot the vamp leering at Marcus, trapped on the ground.

Gabriel tackled him.

He’d never admit it to his siblings, of course, but Gabriel did know how to fight dirty. His vessel, compact and small, was built for unbelievable speed and power, particularly in the act of projectile attacks, in which Gabriel could plant shoulder to kidney, arms around the vamp’s waist, a full-bodied tackle.

The two went down in a heap, the vamp shrieking first in rage, then progressively in horror as it started to scent his Archangel blood. I don’t want to clean my coat! He thought as they rolled around in the dirt, kicking and fighting, wrestling furiously across the forest floor.

Gabriel flipped it over, pinned it’s arms, and slashed through it’s throat.

With the vamp’s lifeblood gurgling softly through the leaflitter, Gabriel stepped off the man’s body, his black hair spattered with spray. Then he turned to Marcus, and held out a hand.

“I had that one.” The younger growled, eyes narrowed.

“Uh huh, sure you did, librarian.” Gabriel snapped back playfully. “We’ve got one-“

A gunshot cut him off.

“...No more, then.” Gabriel finished with a smirk. “Vincent would’ve made a damn fine hunter.”

“There’s really nobody with better aim.” Marcus admitted, straightening his jacket.

“Nobody.” Gabriel agreed, heading in the direction of the shot.

The pair arrived, bloodstained and roughed up, just as Vincent was climbing unscathed from a tree. “She’s about forty feet up the hill. Gabriel, can you get her head?” The man questioned, dropping to the ground with his gun slung across his back. “I managed to get a spine-shot in there, but better safe than sorry.”

“Got it.” Gabriel nodded, turning away and beginning his steady climb up the low slope, finding the body of the shot vampire relatively easily. The small yellow dress she was wearing didn’t hide her very well. Gabriel bit his lip uncomfortably, crouching close to see the practically perfect hole that Vincent had shot, exiting slightly to the left of her windpipe, but the entrance dead centre of her spine. “Yikes, Vincent...” He mumbled, threading fingers through her soft blonde hair before yanking upright, pulling the neck taut so that his blade, with one swing, cut clean through the severed section. The sensation of tendons snapping and muscle shredding through his blade wasn’t one he liked, that much he knew.

Gabriel set the head to the side, leaving it almost as a flag, before carefully bending down and pulling the body against his back, one arm over his shoulder to hold, and a leg over his other shoulder. I
am going to have to get this coat cleaned. He thought with a long-suffered sigh, slowly beginning his march back to the Bunker’s door.

“Got the body, Gabriel?” Vincent questioned, holding a shovel as Marcus was already dumping gasoline and salt into their little back pit for corpses.

“Of course I do.” He huffed, shoving the heavy thing off his back and into the pit, where Marcus helpfully poured a generous splash of gasoline all over it. “What do you...” He sucked in a breath, hands on his knees. “Take me for?”

“Lazier than you are.” Vincent stated without hesitation, leaning on his shovel with a catlike smirk.

“And short!” Marcus added unhelpfully, lighting his cigarette and taking a few calming puffs before taking the thin, cinder-tipped stick and tossing it into the dirt pit.

The flames steadily spread over the five vampire corpses, four of their heads piled by the side as Vincent knelt down with a pair of pliers. “Marcus, can you go get the last head?” He asked, slicing open the cheeks of one and breaking it’s jaw with a quick strike from his ball-peen hammer. The crack of bone was relatively distinct as the younger made a slightly disgusted grunt, beginning to extract the fangs of the vampires, a sightless face kept steady between his knees as long, thin, needle-like teeth clattered into the bowl beside him.

“You’re right, Gabriel. He really would make a fine hunter.” Marcus smirked as he set the last head, the female that Gabriel had sliced off, on the pile.

“I.” Vincent snapped, yanking on a particularly stuck fang. “Hate. This.” He emphasized each word with a pull. “Job!” The tooth finally ripped free, and Vincent threw it at the bowl in a last act of spite, smirking with a small curse word in Latin.

In the meantime, Marcus and Gabriel stuck their hands closer to the now-roaring pit of fire, the March chill catching a little more through blood and dirt-soaked clothes. The scent of burning flesh and hair and the sound of bone snapping under the intense heat hung heavy in the air, the tired pair who weren’t still working on their third vampire head sitting near the flames. “Y’know, I’m sure if we poured some pepper on this, it’d smell great.” Gabriel commented.

“Yes, certainly, spice the corpses.” Vincent muttered sarcastically. “Should we see if we can find some forest mushrooms to go with it? Maybe some apples?” He looked over, waving his pliers for emphasis.

Gabriel and Marcus were practically cackling, the latter having rolled onto his back at the absolutely finished, but bloodstained expression Vincent wore.

It took a few minutes and the last head picked clean before the other pair finally stopped their aftershock giggling, watching as Vincent tossed the heads into the final throes of the fire, briefly rekindling the hot flames, before Marcus nodded, satisfied.

“I’ll watch these go down. You and Gabriel get yourselves cleaned up.”

Vincent started for the door without complaint, jogging ahead of Gabriel before the shorter caught up at a low run, the pair half-sprinting, half casually strutting for the door. One way or another, they both entered the Bunker at the same time.

“I can’t fucking believe-“

“Oh yeah? That’s the fifth time in two weeks!” John’s voice rose high above Curtis’ low grumbling and Vance’s profanities.

“And what are we expected to do, huh? Wait for a saving grace? Maybe an angel?”

“And calling Goddamn North down here is better?!”

That got Gabriel moving a bit.

He and Vincent jumped down the stairs, swinging into the main room where De’van, John, Vance, Wayne, Curtis and Emil argued loudly, swinging arms and angered words doing nothing to get a point across. Leaning on the side wall, beside Amos, a rather confident looking, thin, sandy-blond haired man stood, watching the ongoings with muted disinterest.

“What tha’ hell is going on?!” Vincent shouted, accent showing through the smallest bit with his words.

Gabriel hated days like this. When a subordinate, though equally important, one of their team objected to something that the other said. They weren’t a militant group, after all.

“This bastard,” De’van growled at Vance. “Wants to send a good portion of our library to the Ghost Bunker.”

“It’ll be safer! They’ve figured out we’re around here, and it’s only a matter of damn time-“

“The blanket wards, Vance!” John shouted from the sidelines, bitterness filling his voice.

“And if a witch, one of the dozen that we’ve seen in three months, figures out a blood cancel? Or even just carries a damn gun?!” Vance slapped a hand on the table.

“That mountain is the safest place on this continent! It’s a magic sink, well warded, isolated-“

“Yeah, isolated! Good luck getting needed information out fast!”

“Ok ok hold on!” Gabriel shouted over the clashing voices, waving his hands to catch their attention. The room went silent with the new voice as Gabriel turned to Vance. “Northern? Really? Why Northern?”

“See what I mean? Y-“ De’van began, before Gabriel spun around.

“And what do you have against Northern?”

The shouts of vitriol-filled, testosterone fuelled fury mixed together, words no longer intelligible between them.

Amos interrupted with a bear-like roar, immediately silencing the two like whipped puppies, shrinking back slightly from the man three inches shorter and a hundred pounds meaner than they were.

There was quiet for a few bitter seconds, nervous glances flicked between the group, before the blond man stepped forward.

“Well, as entertaining as it is to watch you...” He began in a slightly French, though majorly English accent. His voice was soft and calm, with a cool, casually dignified air to it. “I’d like to get on with this.”

“And who tha’ fuck are you?” Vincent demanded, spinning to face the newcomer with no small amount of anger.

“My name is Daniel. Daniel Smitt. I’m a contact for North.” Daniel responded, smiling faintly.

“As in, the Northern Bunker?” Gabriel questioned.

“Yes. We heard about the... increasing number of attacks on this Bunker and have decided to act.” Daniel purred smoothly. “I’m here to advocate the removal and copying of at least sixty percent of the documents held at this location.”

“And moved to?”

“North.” Daniel shrugged. “I’m here to make sure you get there.”

“And nobody said we were taking our shit and dumping it on you syrup-loving-“

“Enough!” Amos shouted, immediately silencing the room. “Obviously, main command has taken notice of our increased exports, and as a result, has decided that we’re in need of assistance.”

This made Gabriel roll his eyes.

The Men of Letters had four technical bases in North America, and one central command. South base, the one he was stationed at, was high on the chain of authority, but North, the most remote and least attended base, was the Holy Grail of the Bunkers. Hell, they might’ve even had the damn Grail in that stupid base.

“My apologies, sir... but I’d really like to get Bailey in here. He’s a historian, he can tell us which books need to be copied, and which need to be transferred.” Daniel stepped forward, smiling calmly.

“...Just, listen to command, boys.” Amos sighed. He was aging now, they all knew it. It would take one wrong spell, one bad day, and Amos was dead. None of them wanted to admit it, none of them wanted it to happen. But they all knew. “Help Daniel and Bailey. I’m sure they’ll get what they need to. After that, Vance, Gabriel, I want you two to go with them as insurance and protection.”

“Yes sir.” Vance nodded, jaw skewing slightly.

Daniel didn’t object or complain in the slightest. “I’ll go get Bailey, and we can start clearing some space. I have a feeling this will be a lot of... work.”

Gabriel growled to himself.
I think so too.

-{[|]}-

The pile of boxes loaded into the back of the wagon looked like crates of perhaps fruit, or other tradeable goods, but in reality, they were dangerous just to have free of the warding.

Bailey, a short, stout man with mousy brown hair, a perpetual squint and seemingly two moods (overly happy or dead silent) sat at the head, holding gently to the reins of the two horses at it’s lead.

Daniel, as it turned out, wasn’t as much of a prissy asshole that Gabriel had first taken him for. As it turned out, he was a huntsman, the modified, but beautifully crafted bow on his back sharp evidence of that. The arrows in his quiver were of multiple materials, from a few pointed gold ones to hard iron tips, oak and birch, one even infused with sandalwood. The bow was Daniel’s pride and joy, and his weapon against all things supernatural.

He sat astride a snowy-white horse, a few black markings on her fetlocks and face, fluffy, slightly shaggy fur protective against the spring chill.

“Pretty horse.” Gabriel commented, petting Jet’s nose gently. The mare that Daniel had was a good bit thicker in muscle, much stronger body than Jet, obviously some form of tough breeding to her.

“Thanks.” Daniel purred with a smile. “Snowflake’s been up and down that mountain a few times.”

“Good to know, because I don’t think Jet’ll handle it well.” Gabriel smirked, pulling himself onto the saddle before watching for Vance, who climbed into the wagon beside Bailey.

“He doesn’t look it, no. Long limbed Arab.” Daniel chuckled.

“Nevermind whatever sort of crossbreed Snowflake is there. She looks like a damn Shire.” He flicked his head toward the horse as Bailey called out a quick ‘hup’, and the wagon got started.

“She is. Half, anyway. Shire and some... Indeterminable breeding.” He patted her neck. “Apparently her mother had it in with some wild horse, so had no idea.”

“You the one who raised her?” Gabriel questioned as they trotted along, passing through their ‘hometown’, Lebanon. The town was packed dirt roads, two churches and a few dozen other buildings, it’s population showing in the people walking about in thick dresses and long-sleeved outfits.

“I had a hand in it, yeah.” Daniel nodded. “Bailey, let’s pick up the pace. I want to get there by the second week.” With that and a quick little tap of the reins, the powerful white horse sped up, leading the way for the wagon and Gabriel, as the group started their long trek north.

-{[|]}-

They made good time, trekking through towns and cities that gave the convoy strange or welcoming looks, depending on their situation. Often, they didn’t even notice, just more trainers or farmers travelling through their centre square as Daniel led them on strange direction that was nothing Gabriel had walked. He didn’t cut straight through the states they were crossing, rather winding around the borders and skirting edges to keep away from specific areas.

“It’s a redirection.” Daniel had admitted quietly one evening while he and Gabriel sat across from each other on beds, the inn they had appropriated for the night warm and rather comfortable. “They’ll have issues to follow us further.”

Daniel was a nice person, albeit insecure and suspicious of essentially everything, but Gabriel had noticed the scars on his shoulders, the repeatedly reopened wound marks on his chest and back, stretched with age, that spoke soft words of childhood torment. The Archangel supposed he had a reason.

“Gotcha.” Gabriel had nodded gently, running one hand through his hair. “Then we’ll keep going.”

The grand state of Washington, northerly and close to the border, a mountainous land of opportunity for those willing to take it, rose high above their caravan, awing to the southern Vance, who had never been much beyond Kansas or it’s few surrounding states.

As they arrived in Enumclaw, the steady tapping of hammers and nails, poles and spikes driven into the dirt from the new-arriving Pacific Railroad met them, ringing through the white-painted shops by the dirt roadside, the enormous shadow of Mount Rainier encompassing them like a looming bird.

“...Whoa.” Vance whispered, craning his neck to stare up at the snow-tipped mountain.

“Not like Sunflower, is it?” Bailey chuckled, tapping the reins again and pushing the horses forward. “If we’re lucky,” He rolled his shoulders, trying to relax his spine from being stuck in it’s harsh curve all day. “We’ll just grab the ponies and start up the damn hill.”

“Wait, we have to climb that thing?” Vance gaped openly now. “How in Hell are we going to get the boxes up?”

“You’ll see.” Daniel chuckled as he lead the group around the corner, hopping off Snowflake’s saddle and knocking on the door of an older barn, covered with new paint. “Stiles! Stiles, open up!”

An elderly man with little hair and a permanently furious face tore open the door, aiming a shotgun at the lot of them, growling low.

“Whoa, whoa!” Gabriel yelped, stepping away, closer to Jet.

“Danny?” The man snapped gruffly, swinging a squinty glare to the tall, well-dressed man. “Danny, if that’s you, boy, y’ have to start sayin’ it.” ‘Stiles’ lowered his gun, Gabriel and Vance slowly stepping out from behind their hiding places.

“Sorry, Stiles.” Daniel gave a slightly flippant wave. “I need to borrow three of the ponies and the-“

“Mountain crosses, ah know.” Stiles grumbled, turning around and walking in. “Bring yours in here, I’ll get’cha the ponies.”

The next half hour was filled with the sounds of the group unloading the wagon, watering the horses and getting them set in their stalls, aside from Snowflake, who seemed quite determined not to enter such a small, confined space.

After that, three horses with thick, stout legs that were most certainly not ponies were hooked to strange triangular-shaped contraptions, no wheels on them, just stilts that would drag behind. Snowflake also received one of those, but her’s was distinctly longer and thicker, able to be piled with more of the boxes than any of the ‘ponies’.

Gabriel left Jet with grumpy Stiles on the reassurance from Daniel that Stiles was a good caregiver to animals, but his attitude to humans could leave much to be desired.

Kinda obvious. Gabriel agreed silently, stepping onto the back of the sorrel horse, her mane well-brushed but short and matte. She stamped her hooves as a steadying action, already prepared to climb the rough slope, where a barely-present pathway slid through the trees, as Daniel had explained.

“Sorry to run out on you again, Stiles, but we do have to be up this mountain.” Daniel excused, turning Snowflake toward the door.

“Yeah, yeah... Git out.” Stiles waved them off. “Git up that darn hill before nightfall. You know it gets cold up there.”

“Thanks again, Stiles!” Daniel called over his shoulder, turning Snowflake back out the exit, leading the newly outfitted troupe back through the city, and closer to the looming shadow of the mountain.

“This bloody mountain... It looks insane! Why in the name of God’s green earth did you build it up here?”

“Good question.” Bailey grumbled. “Have to climb this darn thing every few weeks.”

“Good exercise, considering that we have to walk the last leg.” Daniel purred. “It was built on the mountain for defence. Plus, it’s one of the most densely magic areas on earth.”

“And huge.” Bailey added. “It’s gonna be bigger than anything you boys have seen before.”

“Well... I’ll judge that when we get up there.”

“Prepare to be amazed.”

-{[|]}-

During the last leg of their trek, Gabriel started to feel the low hum of power through the ground, and anything less than an Archangel probably would’ve turned back. He could feel the wards, the salt, and the energy swirling and coursing through the rest of the area, like it’s own heartbeat.
This is going to sting. He sighed, preparing to just block the angel warding and walk on through.

Then, rather abruptly, searing pain shot through his stomach, prompting him to drop to one knee with an arm around his gut. He didn’t even know what was wrong, burning agony eating his chest alive, grace snapping and crackling in absolute panic. His vision tunneled, unable to see much beyond the pinprick of forest floor that lay under his nose.

After the initial gasp it took out of him, he felt his grace receding, curling within his vessel so small he could barely sense it, a tiny flower concealed within his heart.

“Whoa, Gabriel...” Vance’s hand was on his shoulder. “You alright?”

Returning to himself was a difficult process, but enough breathing struggled through it, vision once again widening to encompass the whole area, greeted by Bailey and Daniel’s nervous glances to each other.

“Wha...” Gabriel panted before breaking down into a coughing fit, hacking angrily into his elbow.

“Yeah, what the hell?” Vance growled, turning his head to glare at Daniel, as if it was somehow his fault.

“...Hang on a moment.” Daniel looked outward, at the surrounding woods, before dismounting from Snowflake and stepping through the underbrush, a soft whistling of wind following him.

When he returned, Gabriel felt slightly better, but not much so. His grace was still doing knots in his chest, but it no longer felt like he was being stabbed. Admitted, Vance and Bailey had dragged him back a good five feet, but he didn’t even know what had hit him.

“I gave Fiend the information. Blackbird’s probably fixing it as we speak.” Daniel murmured as he jogged back over, every so often checking his shoulder.

“What the hell was that? Ward gone wrong?”

“Probably altitude. We have some chemicals around the area. Fiend and Blackbird are a pair of our guardians. They watch the area. Gabriel potentially just hit one of the gas bombs.” Daniel scrubbed through the dirt for a moment, then pulled up a small, ball-looking deflated item.

“That’s what dropped him?” Vance sounded skeptical, glancing from the paper bag to Gabriel, who was struggling to his feet.

“Yes.” Daniel said decisively.

That’s not what dropped me! Gabriel wanted to scream. You know something! You know it’s warding! With a huff, he straightened with a soft groan, massaging his chest where his grace took the brunt of the damage.

“You good, Gabriel?” Vance questioned.

Not really. Still can’t feel my grace, and everything hurts. “Yeah, I’m fine.” Gabriel groaned, easing upright and leaning on the horse beside him. “Just need t’ sit down for a minute...” He mumbled as he started to sink back again.

“Nope. Not happening. The base is only a bit more, you can make five minutes.” Bailey encouraged, walking away from his horse to grab Gabriel and help him stabilize himself against the creature’s flank.

The going was slow, between Vance’s wariness and Gabriel’s desire to curl into his stomach with every ripple that flowed through his grace, like waves of pins slicing through his True Form.

“You going to be alright, there, Gabriel?” Vance looked over for the fifteenth time, concern echoing off him.

“Let’s just...” The Archangel took a deep breath. “Get... to the base.”

“It won’t get better.” Daniel growled almost directly beside his ear, making Gabriel jump. He hadn’t heard the other man’s approach.

“Pardon?” Gabriel hissed, fingers tightening on his chest.

“It won’t get better in the base. I’ve got a spell in my jacket, enough to put down your grace for a few hours.”

“Wh-what?!” He burst out, slightly louder, the sharp action making his grip slip, landing Gabriel in the dirt once more.

Daniel was beside him in an instant. “Bailey, take Vance, meet me at the entrance. I’ll let Gabriel get his breath back.”

With a nod, Bailey grabbed Vance’s reins, pulling the two horses away, deeper into the trees.

“What... are you talking about... ‘Grace’?” Gabriel gritted out, the agony ripping through him like a furious rougarou.

“You’re an angel. I can tell. Nothing else would’ve been able to stay alive after passing through that barrier.” Daniel fumbled about in his coat. “Now look, I don’t know how powerful you are, but for the duration of your stay in my Bunker, you’re now powerless, got me?”

“You’re... awfully trusting... of an angel... you’ve never met.” Gabriel chuckled breathlessly.

“I’ve learned to work on a few other things,” Daniel tapped the glasses that hung low on his nose. “than just trust.”

“Malicae... wards in those?”

“That’d be the one.” Daniel handed him a small vial of a powder-purple, gritty looking fluid. “It’s not going to taste good.”

“If it stops... ripping me open...” Gabriel snarled, taking the vial and shooting it back. He trusted the Men of Letters, and he had heard some of the reports on people who had worked for North. Vampire guards, Werewolf librarians, even an angel guard who had vanished a few years before, they were all members.

It was only a short few seconds that felt far too long before his grace began to cool, his breathing lengthening steadily as his body relaxed, energy sealing away within himself as the potion did it’s deed, coiling away his grace as if it were a marble, concealing it.

And then Gabriel was human.

He breathed steady and low, supported upright only by Daniel’s hand on his shoulder, until he shook his head and refocused.

To any other angel, the world would’ve been silent and colourless, but Gabriel knew how to be more human than anyone else. He was fully aware of how beautiful earth was without grace-glasses.

“Kicking in yet?”

“Yeah.” The Archangel nodded, grabbing the tree behind him to push off, rising from the forest floor. “We should get moving.”

When the pair got back on the path, Gabriel couldn’t help nervously glancing around the trees. Without his grace to tell him where the heartbeats and souls of every surrounding thing was, his anxiety rose up, showing things shifting through the shadows as if they were alive.

Though, he couldn’t decide if the constantly dipping, weaving, presence-like shadow was real or not.

When they caught up to the others, it was just as they arrived in front of the huge iron door, carved into the rock. Extremely well hidden, from any sort of angle, but when Daniel stepped forward with a key, Gabriel noticed it instantly.

“Well, let’s see this grand base of yours.” Vance smiled, but Gabriel could detect the waver of nervousness that went through the other.

“Prepare yourselves.” Daniel purred, and with one final clank, the door swung inward, drawing the whole group into a deep grey, blown-out tunnel.

“...Huh.” Gabriel mumbled, rather unimpressed. He knew their had to be more, but he wasn’t aware of how much more, not without his grace, which was unresponsive to his commands utterly.

“The horses go over here.” Daniel beckoned them, and the horses - evidently used to being in the dark, confined space - went without issue.

When the boxes were unloaded and piled in the dark hallway, Daniel started to lead them down the path and to a second door. “Here we are...” He smiled happily, evidently pleased to be back where he would’ve called ‘home’.

And when that door unlocked and opened, Gabriel and Vance were floored.

It was wider, longer and more open than the South Bunker. Standing on the balcony beside the stairs, they could look an easy few dozen feet in either direction, rows upon rows of bookshelves filling the space.

The wood that made up the interior walls was a warm colour, leading Gabriel to wonder if one of the witches had dyed it to keep it more friendly-looking. It certainly held the brilliant appearance of a home, smelling softly of some sort of incense, lit by a few magically-made lights.

It sprawled across the interior of the mountain, at least triple the size of the South Bunker, if they had been laid together. As he descended the stairs into the enormous library, he caught sight of a set of stairs against the wall, where it evidently led to another floor, and then the second set just underneath them, for the basement.

How big is this place? He gaped at it. Heaven was beautiful, yes, but it never held quite the same wonder to him as a human’s home. Homes were places of love and relationships, and this place, the huge base, felt like a home.

“This is...” Vance breathed, staring around in slight awe.

“Second floor, door number four is the spare bedroom. There’s three beds in there, so take your pick.” Bailey called from the top of the stairs, where he was holding onto a large, heavy box full of books. “Hey, Dan, if you’re done showing off, can you call- oof- Deemer? We’ve got to get these inside.”

“Yep, I can get him. I’ll come help too, I just want to get Gabriel and Vance to Jackson.” Daniel returned over his shoulder, only to hear a loud thud and another curse. “Nevermind. Just keep going straight, you’ll find the main room. Gabriel, can you take a peak down the right hallway there? See if you can find Jackson. He’s short, black and white hair.”  The well-dressed man informed, before spinning around and heading back up the stairs.

“This place is massive.” Gabriel whispered to Vance as they headed forward, eventually coming out of the huge library, and into an area that resembled the War Room, but was so much larger and fancier, more magic run and magic built, soft edges and thin lines of faintly glittering silver that ran up and down everything, wreathing through the wood and the floor, as if this Bunker had it’s own heartbeat.

“No kidding... I’m going to wait here, you go see if you can find Jackson.” Vance smirked at him.

“How come I get all the hard jobs?”

“Because Daniel told you to do it. You get to explore the base though!”

“That helps so much.” Gabriel sighed, but turned down the right hallway and into more of the library. Evidently, it made up most of the base.

The books hidden in the North Bunker were ancient, some dating back or copied from scripts before the birth of Christ, and Gabriel, even with his grace as buried and limited as it was, could sense the power within the place.

He walked slowly through the shelves, mouthing the words from their spines, telling him where they were from, how old they were, what they were, authors, titles, languages... Most of it was in varyingly styled, tiny print, labels and numbers well-made and with an air of perfection.

When a book, ‘Judicave Damondes’, caught his eye, and he turned to take it, a new voice met him.

|Well now, aren’t you unique?| It said, echoing through his mind sharply, like the call of some being far different than a human.

Gabriel stepped from the shelf, searching around and spotting nothing, until he finally drifted over the darkened corner some feet away, a pair of hazel-green eyes staring back at him.

And from the shadows, with the flowing, elegant strut of his species, a cat emerged.

He had mid-length fur, longer than any normal American barn cat, and he was majorly a brilliant, crisp, dark auburn-orange, as though he was a perfectly cooked bread. Streaked through the fluffy fur was black, lines that flowed and faded through his fur with his movements, as though watercolours, constantly fading.

For a moment, without his grace, Gabriel was entirely lost. He turned away from the cat, searching for the source of the voice instead.

|You are not deaf, nor blind...| The voice spoke again, and Gabriel peeked around the corner.

“...Hello?” He called. “Vance, if you’re playing a trick on me-“

|I can reassure you, this is no trick.| The cat was now beside him, staring up with a small glare and no small amount of disapproval.

“Well, Vance, if you somehow managed to sound slightly sophisticated, that’s magic right there...” Gabriel bent down, reaching to pet what might’ve been the North Bunker’s mascot.

Only to receive a stinging bite in response.

Gabriel jumped back with a yelp, staring at the cat as it rolled it’s eyes and approached. |Are you listening now?| It asked, and the Archangel desperately wanted to facepalm himself.

“God, you’re a familiar.” He groaned. “I’m an idiot...”

The cat chuckled in it’s deep mental voice. |That I am, and that you are. You are new here.|

“I’m uh... sorry for bothering you. And ignoring you.” Gabriel smiled sheepishly at the cat. He knew a shocking amount about familiars, and they weren’t quite as demonic as everyone thought. Familiars were formed when excess supernatural energy took a perfect form, which was often preformed via a spell. As a result, they tended to be a mix of angelic and demonic power, more shades of grey than either. He knew that they liked to be treated well, or else they would attack simply for the offence at their disrespect.

Familiars commanded respect, and gave it freely to anyone who earned it. Even an Archangel could respect a familiar.

The cat flicked his fluffy tail, staring at Gabriel cynically. |You are forgiven, this time.| It purred. |Be thankful though, I recognized you struggling without your grace.|

Gabriel threw up his hands in defeat, prompting a chuckle from the cat. “Does everyone know now, or just one more person?”

|It is simply me. I imagine Bailey suspects, and Fiend most certainly knows.| The cat purred out, as though mocking Gabriel.

“Aw, man... I’m going to have to remake my identity.”

|Not so, angel.| The cat bunted his hand. |I shall not expose you, and neither shall anyone else in this Bunker. We are slightly different than you lowland barbarians.| The cat sniffed derisively, head raised to the side in a ‘hmfp’ pose.

“‘Lowland barbarians’, huh? Well, is there anything this ‘lowland barbarian’ can call you?” Gabriel questioned.

|I have gone by many names, but the one I possess at the moment is Jinn.| He grinned, all fangs and sharp teeth, before trotting slightly closer to Gabriel and gently nuzzling his arm. |Why was six afraid of seven?| Jinn inquired, staring up at Gabriel with his off-green, mint-hazel eyes.

The Archangel rolled his eyes. “Because seven ate nine.”

|And why did seven eat nine?| Jinn’s catlike grin had grown to a near-Cheshire level.

“Uh...” Gabriel paused. “I’m uh...”

|You must eat three squared meals a day, Gabriel. Try that aisle.| The familiar let out one final rumble before turning away, and with a flick of his elegant, long tail, he turned the corner, and vanished from Gabriel’s view, leaving the Trickster staring in his wake.

Gabriel’s eyes narrowed for a moment, considering the cat’s words, before standing up and turning the corner, walking around the corner to section three.

In the middle of shelves D and E, stood an older man with his coat slung over one shoulder, carefully flipping through a large tome he held braced against his ribs.

“Uh, Jackson?” Gabriel asked, making the man’s head snap up, which was when Gabriel figured out that he wasn’t as old as he looked, first glance. His hair had simply greyed early, more salt-and-pepper than true grey though.

“...Yes?” His voice was suspicious, examining the stranger before him with a quick, evaluating glance.

“Daniel wanted you to see us..?”

“Oh, you’re from South.” Jackson immediately relaxed, smiling calmly at Gabriel. “Yes, come on. Back to centre.” He nodded, slipping the book back into it’s designated place before leading Gabriel to the main room once more.

Now, Vance sat at a table observing as Bailey, Daniel and a massive other man emptied the boxes. The newcomer had to be at least a half-foot taller than Gabriel, with arms the width of some trees and a shaggy beard. He looked like a hermit, or perhaps a lumberjack.

“Look at this, I’m willing to bet none of them even know what this is.” Daniel rolled his eyes as he pulled out a long, cherry wood bow. “Nevermind how to shoot it.”

“Stop badmouthing our brothers from the South.” The bear-man stated gruffly.

“Yeah, alright...” He sighed, laying the bow back in it’s case. “Oh, hey, Gabriel found Jackson. Boss, we’ve got some new stuff.”

“Yes, so I heard. Anything of particular interest?”

“An Amazonian bow, and a few books on angels and the like.” Bailey listed. “I’m more interested in a few of the spellbooks, but these work too.”

“Spellbooks?” Bear-man questioned.

“We have one here with some residual and information from the book, as in capital ‘B’.”

“The..?” Jackson made a small hand gesture.

“Other one.” Bailey’s jaw skewed slightly in displeasure.

“Oh.”

Gabriel glanced to Vance, who only shrugged. There was a brief lull in their conversation, before Jackson glanced over at them again. “If you two want to, you can take a look through the library. It’s here for use, after all. Just make sure you put stuff back where you found it.”

“Sure.” Vance smiled slightly, standing. “Come on, Gabe. Let’s go see what this huge place has to offer.”

“It’s more than huge, trust me.” Gabriel laughed as he followed. “It’s absolutely massive.”

“You got to take a walk before me, but that doesn’t mean I believe yo-“ Vance stared out at the arranged shelves. “...Nevermind.”

“It’s something else, isn’t it?” He chuckled, stepping into the library and gazing around with an impressed face. “They’ve got a familiar in here, too.” He told, not wanting Vance to flip and attack the cat. “Big cat, auburn. He looks like toast.”

“Good toast?”

“Good toast.” Gabriel confirmed.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Vance checked the upper shelves for evidence of the familiar’s presence, but they were truly masters of unseen, unheard movement. “De’van should get a familiar.” He said abruptly.

“He really should. He’d be way more powerful with a familiar by his side.” Gabriel agreed, drifting through the library and once again reading off the labels.

When he got through one section, he suddenly understood why his grace and his Trickster power had basically caved in on themselves when he came into the protective ring of sigilwork and energy. The knowledge contained in this base would dwarf any contained in the other three Bunkers put together, and possibly everything in all the chapterhouses as well.
If anything bad got in here, it would be a disaster... Gabriel though, fingers skimming over the books’ spines.

The place was a treasure trove, all sorts of information laying across the shelves and arranged on tables, research for all kinds of beasts and beings.

|Jinn told me about you.| A new voice greeted him, musical and brilliant, calm and clear. |He said you were a curious thing.|

Gabriel turned to see a second familiar, but this one was white, black stripes making him resemble a Siberian tiger, amber-gold eyes watching Gabriel with muted curiosity. It jumped up to the table closest to him, observing.

“Another one of you.” Gabriel murmured.

|Just us two, in this place.| The new cat replied quietly. |I am Kesmet. And you are an Archangel.|

Gabriel chuckled faintly, running a hand down one book about angels. “I wish, Kesmet. I wish I still could be called that.”

Kesmet’s eyes studied the book, then him for a moment. |You feel you have used Loki’s powers for so much-|

“How in the world can you even tell?” The... not-Archangel growled viciously, and was immediately greeted with a deeply unimpressed glare. “...Sorry.” He mumbled. Archangels were extremely powerful, but he still didn’t want to press his luck with a familiar. If Kesmet or Jinn struck first, chances had it they’d disable a good portion of his powers before he could strike back, and that would be a disaster.

Let’s not test it. Gabriel decided, sighing quietly.

|You feel,| The cat continued with a haughty sniff. |as if you have used Loki’s powers for too much. And as such, you feel like you are no longer an Archangel.|

“It’s... true.” Gabriel agreed.

|Don’t.| Kesmet ordered shortly. |Do not feel like something you aren’t. You are an Archangel, and whether or not you use those abilities does not make or break that birth.|

Gabriel blinked in shock at the cat.

|And do not try to separate yourself from what you are. You were born like this, and you will die like this. Do not resent something you could not control.| He dipped his head, amber eyes glittering.

“...Then what do you think I should do?” He questioned, the familiar staring back at him with a sort of pity, but also sympathy.

|Stop trying to be something you aren’t.| Kesmet turned around, jumping down from the table where he sat. |It won’t satisfy you, Gabriel.|

His black-tipped tail flicked around a shelf, and he was gone.


{?, 2014}

Archangel Gold’s blade, slipped between his fingers, seemed too long and light against any lesser angel’s blade. The two noncombatants, the one who had introduced herself as Miraim carrying the taller, thicker, grey-winged angel against her side.

Over the time period where Gold had been active, the angels had settled down, sinking back and away from him, not wanting to incur the wrath of the Archangel seeking them, avoiding fights more and escaping their laws.

Once upon a time, the Colour forms had used fear to keep the nephilim and giants in check, and Gold already knew, somewhere deep inside, that he could use it again.

Which meant that he had a new task once he got these noncombatants free.

When another angel, long red wings flared behind her, swept around the corner with a furious growl, Gold simply stepped forward and freed her head from her neck in a single, deft stroke, the edge of his blade smouldering with golden flames.

“Follow.” He ordered, twisting into the hall with less than a weight shift, wings shifting to accommodate the movement with a razor-sharp defence, another angel shooting from the sidelines to attack.

Gold parried the initial thrust, deflecting the blade between him and the wall. The angel’s arm, trapped now and hyperextended, Gold pressed down on until it broke, feeling the muscle fibres rip and shred as if paper.

The angel let out a howl, his True Form assaulted by the Archangel pinning him, as Gold slammed his hand down, preventing any shift in motion before flipping his blade around and driving it into the angel’s neck.

After pulling it free, Gold spun around, slashing without hesitation at a newcoming angel who had just turned around the corner.

Clutching the red mess where her throat used to be, the angel staggered back with a gurgling choke, wide hazel eyes barely flicking up to meet Gold’s before he brought down the knife effortlessly, through her neck and spine, and into the wall behind.

Miriam’s eyes were huge and horrified at the ease of which he took out the angel. He had a job to do, and if Heaven objected, then God could come down and stop him.

His grace expanded, drifting through the molecules of walls as he searched, confirming the lack of other angelic life. When he retracted his True Self back into his vessel, he turned to the noncombatants.

“I will take you to Alaska. There is a base there.” He stated simply, pulling the information from the back of his memories. Why is it buried? He wondered for a second, before he shook off the question and ignored it, focus taking over instead.

Gold shifted his weight, wings extending as he pushed forward to test the warding. Will not cause permanent damage to break free of. Save the noncombatants first. He decided, reaching back to grab the other angels, drawing them closer to his vessel in preparation.

“A-Archangel?” The grey-winged angel questioned, eyes widening as he saw the huge sets of wings spread, their golden feathers rustling softly as the celestial being prepared himself, ready to blast through the wards as if they were simply a pathetic wall before him.

With a single downsweep of those brilliant wings, Gold shot himself forward and toward the base he knew of.

Then came the pain.

-{[|]}-

Gold flipped around, his only thought to save the combatants as energized claws raked down his wings, lighting his True Form in unknowable agony.

Wrapping the pair in his twitching, spasming wings, bracing to take the impact himself, Gold’s True Form gathered in his chest, an instinct to prepare himself for the damage he was about to take, his vessel already weakened and his grace poisoned from the copper-winged angel’s venom.

The initial hit was the worst, breaking his vessel’s ribs and back as if nothing and jarring his True Form, flipping him over himself repeatedly as he kept the two noncombatants close, trying to preserve the next generation of Heaven. He did not matter. They did.

When they finally came to a stop, Gold was left stomach down on the ground, grace shakily expanding back over his vessel, healing what it could in it’s weakened, bruised state. The other angels were concealed safely under his wings, even as the female shoved one off and took her grey-winged ally under the arm, calling to the other angels nearby for help.

Gold didn’t make a noise - though his vessel wanted to - as he shuffled his wings back against his newly-healed spine, using the silver energy now sewn into his grace to cool the energy that had seared his feathers.

“Gabriel?” A voice asked him, a hand landing on his shoulder.

Gold’s head snapped up to stare at the angel, who’s silky brown, edged green-silver wings were half flared, recovered from an injury and feathers slowly repairing themselves.

The moment that Gold turned to look, the angel flinched back, hand lifting from his shoulder. “...Archangel Gold?” He whispered, eyes wide in disbelief. “No, no no no...” The angel dropped to his knees, grabbing to Gold’s arms this time, confusing the Archangel. “Damnit, Gabriel, I told you...”

Gold was not used to this. Nor should it have been happening. The noncombatants were not to worry about him, he was simply just the engine of destruction that would ensure they were returned to the throne of Heaven.

So why is this angel concerned? Gold questioned, watching as the angel looked over his condition, checking his vessel with wide, worried eyes.

“I thought I said not to do anything stupid, you idiot!” The angel half-shouted, evidently furious about something. “And what do you go do? Fall off the grid for two months and show up again in your Colour form!” He’s a seraphim. Gold realized, knowing that meant that the angel was fully aware of who he was, and what he was capable of. I will not abandon Heaven! The Archangel’s wings flared backward, sweeping out as he backstroked powerfully, spinning and landing on his feet.

The next stroke shot him into the sky, away from the base that would keep the angels he had rescued safe, even though his wings burned with pain.

-{[|]}-

Calgary. 11:36 AM. Montana’s on Scarcee Trail. Bright outside, but overcast coming for 1:52 PM.

There were six demons inside the establishment.

High ranking members of Abbadon’s new crowd, the demons were to continue their host’s former job temporarily, until they were called to possess the patrons of the restaurant.

His vessel was not functioning at peak capacity, and he would soon need to stop, but for that moment, Gold had to press forward.

He slumped slightly, put on a soft smile and stepped into the diner.

“Hello sir!” The woman standing at the door greeted.

“Hi. Can I get a table for two?” He said carefully, acting perfectly human.

“Oh, a date?” She questioned with a smile, picking up two menus.

“Yep.” Gold purred, following her through the restaurant to a two-seat table, sitting down as she got his water.

Gold ignored the drink, the other patrons, and the waiter’s slightly pitying glances as he observed the people who stood around, grace reaching out and searching for the demons that hid within the restaurant.

Two were customers, one was at the bar, and three stayed ensconced in the kitchen, surrounded by knives and other useful items that could be used to damage his weakened vessel.

The kitchen first. It will cause less collateral damage and panic, and a narrower space. He decided, rising from his seat with a quick glance around, immediately beginning to decide his direction of attack.

He headed for the washrooms first, but at the last second slipped his sword into his hand and swung into the kitchen, wings hanging low on his back.

The demons were in the back corner, their smoky red and black bodies hiding within the human they appropriated. The third, with oddly light smoke, stared at him from the cutting block, eyes narrowing in a second.

The fight broke out within seconds.

It began with the black-eyed demon whipping a knife in his direction, which prompted the Crossroad’s demon to shoot over one of the stove with a kick, stealing a cleaver as the humans in the room yelled, calling for help and other things.

The white-eyed demon raised his hand, a long knife-sharpener in the corner rising at his call to slot itself through the bars of the door, then bending as if made of rubber to knot the door shut.

Then came the real fight.

The pale wings of the white-eyed demon spread, all four an intimidating cross-shape behind his back, while Gold countered by spreading out his own wings.

While the soft cream colour of the white-eyed demon was no Knight of Hell’s multi-toned red and blue spectrum, they were not to be disregarded in the slightest. White-eyed demons, Lilith’s children, were the most powerful of their brethren, their ability to use psychic and magic energy unrivalled by anything in the natural world, aside from angels.

Subject; Lilith. Deceased. No longer a threat, but her offspring provide a danger.

The other demons quickly started to realize that in this combat, they would be not more than fodder, backing up and beginning to flee, the Crossroad’s simply spreading his wide, bright red wings and vanishing while the black one turned and sprinted for the bar, possibly to assist the demon their in escaping.

The first thing that the white-eyed demon did, was flare the stoves.

Fire lit up the kitchen even brighter than before, forcing the humans to begin fleeing as the alarms sprang to life, roaring in their ears as they shot, golden wings against cream, and the battle for dominance began.

-{[|]}-

Status; Failed.

Gold had failed.

Two demons had escaped, both Crossroads. The others didn’t get nearly so lucky, with Gold catching them, wings bleeding and grace singing with pain, but nevertheless, he got them.

Now, though, his vessel was weak, broken, bleeding, his wings twisted and bruised, and his grace drained.

One more mission. His grace whispered as he spread his wings. Find the Crossroad’s demons.

With a finalizing downstroke, Gold streaked into the air, vanishing beyond the clouds.

-{[|]}-

The first Crossroad’s demon had escaped to a densely populated base sixty miles south of Chicago’s city limits, a stone-grey building with bright lights and heavy shadows, filled with flat-pack boxes.

Gold flew in swift and silent this time, creeping up on his specific target with the grace of a cat.

Then the stack of crates he was on shifted.

His wings flared out, grace shrieking at him to stop and flee, he was too damaged for this, Gold couldn’t fight like this-

When he hit the ground in the middle of a gathering of demons.

The wooden boxes split, throwing splinters in all directions with vigour, spearing a few possessed humans and landing in his shoulder, arm and leg with the force of a small gun.

Gold spun to his feet, wings spread wide as the demons roared their challenge, his sword summoned and cutting through their ranks swiftly, grace exhaustion not giving him a single pause as he pushed far beyond what his limit should’ve been.

“Of all the idiotic... I can’t let you soft fools do anything, can I?” A new voice rose over the battle, causing all of them to freeze, uncertain.

Knight. Gold just about shot at the demon coming right then and there, but he would not survive the fight with a Knight of Hell as weak as he was. He’d need to recover.

Gold stumbled upright, blade held at his side, just as Abaddon, the Knight, stepped into view.

Her eyes widened upon seeing Gold, evidently surprised and potentially a little scared. After all, there were two things that could kill a Knight of Hell.

The First Blade.

And the weapon that fell softly into Gold’s hand.

Abaddon screeched wildly as her hellfire claws arched from her fingers, wings, huge and violet-spectrum, flared to the side. Gold let out an equal roar and shot at her, blade ready for a deadly slash.

The ringing clash of hellfire meeting grace would’ve deafened any human within the area, the red sparks breaking with blue grace and roaring their rage against each other.

Then Abaddon pushed him back with a sweeping stroke and vanished, wings shooting her out of the building and away into the sky.

Gold’s own wings spread to try and keep up, but his top left wing failed, sinking as his other ones rose. The demons had already scattered, fleeing his presence and undying (but now dying) light.

Gold flailed slightly, trying to regain the height lost and give chase, but his grace was already drained. He was running out of time.

After his foot touched to the ground, he kicked up again, his grace screaming against him to stop, but he ignored it, flying south for the second Crossroad’s that had escaped.

-{[|]}-

Status; Successful.

Gold’s grace fluttered under his vessel, utterly useless. It was too weak, too drained.

The limp demon under his body still held the knife upright in it’s chest, where the point had stabbed through it’s sternum and through it’s true form.

The barn where it had hidden was old and musty, filled with half-rotting machines that cast intricate shadows under the light of his wings.

He didn’t need to think, his hand going back over the handle of the knife while his wings, shaking and exhausted, spread once more for take off.

Then the door opened.

Gold spun as fast as he could in his current, mangled state, glaring at the newcomers to the scene. Normally, he would just fly away. No witnesses, no further casualties needed, but between his damaged wings and dead grace, he was running on empty. Gold was trapped.

Two people entered.

An angel, alone in his vessel, and a human.

Tan coat, black wings, blue eyes. He registered, eyes narrowing. Combatant. The human beside the angel was taller, thicker, and had longer brown hair. His soul was marred brutally, scarred and stained by a slip of red blood buried underneath a layer of old grace, but it still glowed stunningly bright.

Gold pushed off his knees, removing his blade from the target’s sternum, blood dripping from the tip.

“...Sam.” The angel said, backing up, blue eyes blown wide with fear. “Sam we have to leave.”

“What? Cas, why?!”

“Sam, that isn’t Gabriel.” The angel explained shortly, pulling on the human’s arm. “We need to leave now.”

Gold could hear the words, but they didn’t hold any meaning to him. The last words of dying creatures to him.

“Sam!” The angel exclaimed, a waver of fear making it into his voice, pulling on the human’s arm again.

Threat to the mission. Kill them both. He perceived, flipping his blade around in his hand to hold backward.

The human, though, didn’t move. He just stood there, tough and tall, until Gold got into striking range.

With inhuman speed, Gold moved, slashing for the human. The human, somehow, dodged, stumbling backward with wide hazel eyes. The colour doesn’t matter. Ignore.

Gold didn’t say anything as he attacked again, the human jumping away. “Gabriel!” He called, desperately avoiding the blade. “Come on, look, it’s me! It’s Sam!”

“Sam, he can’t hear you! That’s not Gabriel in there!” The angel cried from the side.

“It’s Gabriel all right.” The human snarled, glaring at him. “Galurmedged! Malsmedgisgfam!” He demanded.

Gold faltered, the direct order forcing him to lock up, to stop attacking the human in front of him. ...How did it know my name? And... This one is trusted. He realized. Safe. Protect this human and angel.

The human immediately sighed, shoulders slumping as Gold froze, his eyes glittering with amber energy as he settled, stepping out of stance and lowering his sword to his side.

“...You can speak Enochian?” The angel questioned, eyes wide.

“Slightly.” The human, the trusted, responded. “Not well. He started teaching me.” Tipping his head toward Gold, the human glanced away. “Uh... Galurmedged.” He called, making Gold’s head snap to face him. “That’s creepy, ok... Uh, galdonmedvanfam... gonunvanun?” The human asked.

With a flick of his wrist, his grace reabsorbed the sword for hiding, letting it vanish into his core being.

“Huh, alright, that worked...” The human said, stepping closer. “My god, Gabriel...” He whispered, putting one hand on Gold’s shoulder and cringing at the wounds he could feel under the jacket. “Jeez, Cas, he’s screwed up.”

“That’s not Gabriel, Sam. That is Archangel Gold.” The angel growled, wings flicking nervously behind him.

“Archangel Gold?” The human asked, peeling back the edge of his vessel’s coat, trying to get a better view of his injuries.

“A colour form.” The angel hissed, moving around the pair carefully. “He’s been in this form a while. Too long.”

“Colour form?” The human repeated, starting to pull off Gold’s jacket. “Ururgongisgfam.” He ordered when Gold shifted, and the Archangel stilled. “This is really weird, Cas. He’s not even reacting when I touch this one on his arm.” The human poked at a long cut on his vessel. “He’s just a robot.”

“Yes, base programming and unconfined power.” The angel nodded agreeably.

“And he’s answering to Gold...” The human hummed softly, as if making up his mind. “Galurmedged. Nafamgonurgeddruxgraph.” It sounded like a request, but phrased as an order.

“Yes.” Gold responded immediately.

“Ok, wow, so that worked... Huh.” The human smiled at him. “Cas, how do I shut down Colour form?”

“...I don’t know, Sam. The Archangels were the only keepers of that knowledge.” The angel took another step closer, but flinched away again when Gold turned to stare at him.

“No, no, Gold. Castiel is a friend.” The human ordered, bringing Gold’s focus back to him. “How to fix you...”

“The colour forms were brought out to protect Heaven under extreme circumstances.” Castiel, the angel, tried to move in again, but this time, Gold didn’t react.

“Ok... Archangel Gold, what is your mission.” The human demanded.

“Protect Heaven. Kill all combatant angels and protect noncombatant angels.” Gold stated coldly.

Castiel’s eyes went wide in realization. “Sam, Gold is the one killing the angels.”

“What?!” The human exclaimed, looking between Castiel and Gold. “...Then I think I know how to fix this.” He murmured, grabbing Gold by the shoulders. “Gold, mission over.” The human stated.

Gold blinked in confusion. That had not been what he had expected.

“Yeah, mission over. C’mon. It’s time to go back to being Gabriel, ok?” The human’s soul was kind, his touch gentle, trying to call forth something deep inside Gold himself.

Mission over... His grace whispered.

Then, for a moment, he saw the human’s face through the glow of his soul.

What..? Gold wanted to ask, right as the human smiled.

“Mission over, Gold.” The human repeated, taking off his own coat to place over Gold, who had just noticed that his vessel was shaking. Blood was running down his arms in small streams, soaking into his shirt as he shivered. “You did well.” He repeated. “Vanmedgon galgongal ururgraphvan.”

The grace of the angel and the soul of the human seemed to slip through his grasp like water, eyes refocusing as his chest spasmed, vessel unable to cope with sensations it wasn’t supposed to have.

“There you go...” The human- Sa- human human encouraged, hands still gently resting on his shoulders. “C’mon...”

“Sam.” Cas- Castiel said, voice low.

“It’s working, Cas, hang on.” Sa- hum- Sam encouraged, smiling at Go- Gab- Gold, Gold calmly.

“Sam.” Castiel repeated.

“Just a second, Cas.”

“Sam!” Castiel shouted, making the human turn away.

Go- Gabriel finally opened his mouth, taking in a choking swallow of air, his vessel screaming back to life, savaging at his grace with new ferocity, demanding repayment for his mistreatment and abuse to it.

Gabriel dropped to his knees, legs unable to support his vessel’s weight anymore, gasping like a fish as his grace, weak and drained as it was, was forced to help liquidize his blood, restart his heart, pulling him to pieces.

“Gabriel? Gabriel!?” Sam shouted as Gabriel’s vision flickered, clouding over with a soft white and blue haze that seemed to surround everything, grace ringing in his ears as everything rose up, higher and higher, a wave building as it drew everything back into his centre. The pain began to fade, to fall away, just fill him instead with the soft sensation of lost power, dazed and confused.

Then it all came crashing down, and Gabriel knew no more.

Chapter Text

{Summer, Before}

When Father created the Archangels, he created a base, then built their personalities around said base. An artist using clay on a wire frame.

The base forms were dangerous, incredibly so. Their only thought was in the good of Heaven, and anything that got in the way of that goal would die.

Father knew at some point, that the Archangel’s love, be it for each other or something else, would stop them from doing what they needed to do. So He created a failsafe.

The Colour Form.

The barest, most basic version of the Archangel, now trapped inside it’s own body, screaming forward as it’s grace shreds all before it.

The first of them to enter the Colour form was Lucifer.

Called to help defeat the Leviathans the first time, while Michael had wound up injured. Lucifer stepped forward as the Leviathans started their attacks on him, and let go. He let go of his emotions, of his brilliance and kindness and smarmy smirk. He let go of his love, his control, his hatred, his balance, and he exchanged it for insanity.

When Archangel Red shot from the fray of slimy, goop-like black creatures that had pinned down Lucifer, Gabriel felt hope. Hope that maybe, maybe Lucifer didn’t go Red, didn’t let go of everything he had and give it away for unrestrained Archangelic wrath.

But when Red’s blank, blood-coloured eyes scanned the battlefield above a crazed, insane grin, Gabriel knew that the Leviathans were going to Purgatory, even if the Aether itself had to crash down for it to happen.

Archangel Red shredded them. His grace, unrestrained and exploding in chilling lashes, was like nothing before seen by any of the Archangels. Not even Michael had ever brought down this much raw destruction, Red cleaving the Leviathans in two and laughing, as if this was a game to him.

He was uncontrollable, simply doing his job as his grace instructed. ‘Imprison the Leviathans’, his mission, the very reason for Red’s presence.

And when it was over, when Red stood before the locked door of Purgatory, splattered in black viscera and his own, blue grace, he cackled. He tipped his head back and he laughed.

Michael, injured though he was, went to him, reaching to the damaged Red and pulling him tight to his chest.

“It’s over, Red.” Michael hissed into his ear, all while the laughter rang around them like a cacophony of bells. “It’s not your time anymore. Come back to me.” He whispered, one hand on his brother’s head, clutching him against his own body.

It took a long, long time, or what felt like a long time to them, for Red’s laughter to slowly crumble, turning instead into horrified, hiccuping sobs. Lucifer’s shaking hands rose up to fist into Michael’s wing-shoulders, the white feathers his only connection to reality.

After that, Gabriel and Raphael sprinted in, playing guard dogs and comfort as Lucifer knelt on the ground, wings slumped to his sides and shivering while Michael simply stayed, his own, huge white wings resting on Lucifer’s, trying to get the bloodied, slime-coated sets to relax, to stop their terrified shaking, but it didn’t work until Lucifer finally collapsed, grace utterly drained from being that... thing.

Gabriel looked at him, and prayed to their Father that he’d never need to do that.
Don’t let us ever do that again.

Lucifer slept through the next few weeks, with at least one of his brothers by his side at all times. When he woke up, all three of them had been present, discussing quietly their own Colour forms, and making up ideas for how to shut them down.

“...Mikey?”

“Luka!” Michael had shot across the room in a flurry of white feathers, along with Gabriel and Raphael’s golden (What does my colour form act like?) and brown trailing him.

“Wha-“ Lucifer groaned, slowly pushing upright with one hand to his head. “What happened..?”

“How much do you remember?” Raphael questioned with mock-calmness.

“...Not... much.” Lucifer winced with a soft hiss, his hand falling over his eyes. “Just... The Leviathans pouncing on me. Then red. A lot of red.” He explained. “And then... I just... I think I woke up for a bit at the end there. Mikey, you were... talking. And Raphael’s wing was hurt.” He added. “...But other than that, it’s all pretty hazy.”

The other Archangels glanced between each other. “...Nothing?” Raphael finally asked.

“No, not really. How long was I...” Lucifer didn’t finish, fingers splitting and one grey-blue eye straining to focus on the second youngest.

“A day and a half.” Gabriel answered instead.

“And I’ve been sleeping for what... four days?”

“Try three and a half weeks.” Michael stated. Lucifer’s eyes went wide.

“Holy...” The Morningstar dropped off. “And I still feel like one of those Leviathans chewed me up and spat me out.” He ran a hand through his hair. “It’s really been that long?”

“And you only spent a day and a bit as Red.” Gabriel nodded grimly.

Lucifer slumped back, arm now over his eyes. “...Never again.” He swore. “I’m never. Doing that. Again.”

The murmurs of assent that rose to greet him were very welcomed.



The second one was Raphael, which none of them expected.

The Fay creatures, created by the magic of the earth that God had left behind to encourage growth, were resisting their imprisonment, by attacking and wounding fledgling angels.

Raphael was not an emotional angel. He relied on his intelligence and skill to win a fight, striking with fine-tuned cuts that filleted flesh had weakened bone for one of his other brother’s life-ending impacts.

When they were surrounded though, with Gabriel’s wings trapped and Michael being drained, Lucifer barely conscious on the ground, Archangel Silver came out.

Gabriel had wondered why he was called ‘Archangel Silver’ when his wings were brown, but when Raphael’s eyes turned to him, filled with passionate, vengeful silver energy, Gabriel understood.

The strikes were random, followed by explosions of uncontrolled grace. Silver was all passion, all emotion in a single, focused target. And when he struck, Fay died. He was brutally swift, messy like a dog would one day savage a squirrel.

The Fay were quick to retreat, but Silver chased them down. He chased and he killed more. His grace lashed to burn dozens from the air, random whips and strikes.

And when the Fay agreed, finally, to stay in their own dimension for a time, it was Gabriel who shot for Silver.

“Done, Silver!” Gabriel grabbed Silver’s shoulders. “It’s done. You’re done. Mission over!” He ordered, as powerfully as he could. The ferocity of Gabriel impressed Michael and Lucifer, who both blinked at the authority in his voice.

The shock seemed to get to Raphael as well, who stiffened, silver bleeding and draining from his eyes before falling forward, deadweight on a shocked Gabriel.

Raphael had barely spent a day as Silver, and yet he still slept for nearly two weeks. When he woke up, it was Michael with him and the others waiting outside.

Raphael’s eyes opened, their steady brown immediately searching the room he was in with a sort of drugging slowness. “...That was strange.” He whispered.

Lucifer and Gabriel stepped inside then, with the elder coming close first. “It’s not pleasant, is it?”

“The memories... They’re...” Raphael began, rubbing his head.

“They come back. Trust me, they come back.” Lucifer said darkly. “Not all of them, but enough of them.”

Lucifer and Raphael simply talked, while Gabriel and Michael listened in steadily-growing alarm, to everything that Lucifer remembered progressively and what he did wrong.

Then Raphael let out a sigh. “...What did I do?”

“Killed a lot of Fay.” Gabriel answered instantly. “But you got them imprisoned.”  He finished at Raphael’s horrified look.

“...And...” He murmured. “...Silver?”

“Wasn’t...” Michael took a deep breath. “As destructive as Red.”

Raphael pulled in a deep breath, his expression morphing slightly into something that said ‘I suppose I can live with that.’



Michael was the second to last one to use his Colour form, as he was honestly terrified of what it could do.

“I can’t... I can’t risk it, Gabriel!” He explained one day in practically a frenzy, pacing his room with his wings flicking repeatedly, feathers fluffed up furiously.

“Michael, you won’t need to.” Gabriel murmured. “I’m sure that you won’t ever have to.”

“But what if I have to! You saw what Lucifer did! Hell, even Raphael!” He snapped. “If I go... Gabriel, it’s going to be a disaster.”

“Well, I haven’t gone yet!” Gabriel jumped to his feet. “And if you don’t, I won’t either. We can’t just... let out the Colour form without first making a choice to. And we won’t. Neither of us will.”

He said that long before they had to walk through a voided space that would one day be Hell, filled with the escaped Leviathans from their initial purge of the world.

It started with the group moving in, Lucifer holding up a sphere of his brightly glowing grace, cold pouring off it in comfortably numb waves.

“Are you alright holding the light?” Raphael questioned, hopping forward with his wings spread slightly.

“I’m fine! Totally unable to hold my sword with both hands, but as long as all of you can... I’m good.” He shrugged, lifting the grace ball a little higher.

“Michael didn’t even bother to bring his sword, he brought his spear.” Gabriel nodded toward Michael, who turned to look at him.

“Not a spear.” He said, holding the long weapon higher. “Lance.”

“Looks like a spear.” Gabriel shrugged, one hand on the hilt of his own sword.

“It’s not.” Michael insisted calmly. “Lance, of Michael.”

“Technically,” Raphael held up a finger. “a lance is a weapon used by a Calvary soldier. Since you don’t ride a horse... Well, it should be the Spear of Michael.” He shrugged.

“Admit it,” Lucifer glanced over his shoulder with a brilliant smirk. “you just wanted it to be the Lance because lance sounds way cooler.”

There was a pause as they all walked about three steps. “...oh shut up!” Michael snapped playfully, turning away from Lucifer.

“Hey, I’m not shitting on your ideas here, the ‘Lance of Michael’ does sound way cooler than the ‘Spear of Michael’, but you do have to fess up to- HUP!”

The grace lamp vanished, followed almost immediately by the heavy exhalation of Lucifer hitting the ground chest-first, then his unholy screech that echoed around them.

“LUCIFER!” All of the others shouted in perfect sync, lunging for their brother’s location, even as his screams got fainter, something of unbelievable speed spiriting him away.

When Lucifer’s scream subsided, the remaining three Archangels with their swords drawn pressed back-to-back, Gabriel’s hand shooting up to summon another ball of grace, burning as an omnipresent source of golden glow. “Ok, watch your feet.” Gabriel snarled, suddenly glad he could summon his much smaller, dagger-like blade instead of using his full sword. “Bastards trying to-“

Then Michael hit the ground with a yelp, lance slipping from his fingers and onto the ground before Raphael picked it up and held it as dangerously as any other weapon.

The pair stood, back to back, mentally preparing for whatever the darkness beyond had to throw at them.

Then voices in the distance... and an explosion of light turned three shadowed bodies to ash a good length away. The younger two Archangels wasted no time, shooting over for where their eldest brother’s grace had erupted.

But when Michael, eyes white and teeth bared under narrowed brows, expression the epitome of rage, turned to them, they both spun around and stayed their distance.

Archangel White was the most destructive at the time. He shredded at least two-thirds of the Leviathans remaining alive, scarring the area with slashing burns of unbelievable power.

White was terrifying, rage and fury and hatred balled up and lashing out, overcontained and overcharged. He was an ocean of untold hatred, cruel and vicious, determined to kill all within his path.

When the Leviathans practically threw themselves into Purgatory to escape White, he didn’t calm down.

White screamed incoherently at the door, grace exploding in massive, fiery expulsions, burning up Michael’s reserves of energy as if it was nothing.

Until Lucifer, leg bleeding and using the outer edge of his wings as a guard, pushed forward, screaming Michael’s name.

“MICHAEL!” He howled over the roaring of energy. “MICHAEL!” He screeched again, the outside of his wing with it’s brilliant sunset-red feathers charring progressively. “MICHAEL THAT’S ENOUGH!”

Lucifer reached out, arm blackening in the backlash, grabbing Michael’s wing and yanking him down to his level, wrapping both of them in his own.

It was remarkable, how fast White went away.

Within seconds, the energy cooled, the grace retracted, and Michael’s arms slowly rose over his brother’s wings.

“Hey, there...” He whispered. “It’s ok. Ok? It’s ok.” Lucifer said, his own wings relaxing. “You’re safe now. I’m here, Raphael’s here, Gabriel’s here, we’re safe.”  The Morningstar insisted.

And when Michael’s knees finally gave out, the exhaustion finally catching up to him, his brothers were right there.

Hours later, with Michael unconscious in the next room and Lucifer chest-down on the couch with his wing and arm wrapped in bandages, Gabriel walked over.

“You alright?” He asked the older, concern etched in his features.

Lucifer’s eyebrows narrowed as he considered that.

“...It’s been a long day.”



Michael had spent the week after he woke up with debilitating headaches, weakness, and an inability to fly more than forty meters without crashing utterly.

Lucifer had spent the week after White had messed him over in constant pain and unable to fly as his feathers struggled to knit themselves back together.

Normally, there would be some casual banter about their Colour form, some basic name-calling and joking about the crying afterward, because that’s how the group of them worked.

But nobody commented on White.

None of them wanted to think about the hours and days that Michael spent whimpering in pain, curling around a pillow or one of his brothers, because he needed some kind, any kind of comfort.

“...That is awful.” He whispered raspingly when Lucifer next walked into his little resting space. Gabriel followed him secretly, leaning on the wall outside the room.

“To go into your Colour form?” Lucifer asked for confirmation, gliding almost through his room. “Yeah. It’s pretty bad.”

“...I’m not doing that again.” Michael began, then broke down coughing.

“We might have to.” Lucifer murmured, sitting beside the elder and rubbing his back. “Just... we might have to.”

Gabriel walked elsewhere, and didn’t hear the rest of the conversation.



The day, that hellish day that Gold first moved into the light was a cold one.

Raphael and Lucifer had already done their Colour forms for a second time each, with Gabriel dragging back Raphael and Michael holding Lucifer until he stopped crying, when Gold came out.

Michael didn’t want to go Colour again, and Raphael used his when Michael balked.

Lucifer, though... he meant to pull out Red. And Red was just as destructive as they remembered him.

But when the creatures of earthen magic came, before humanity, those failed experiments... Gold was called in.

Fighting the Creatures was difficult, and when the decision came to the Archangels to pull out a Colour form, it was a bad time for all involved. They knew that Red or White would be too destructive, too damaging to earth itself, while Silver was too unpredictable, never mind the fact that Raphael was too weak to actually pull off the Colour form without dying.

In the end, it was decided that White would come out.

Michael brought his sword when the four made their move, probably out of spite to each time they made fun of his ‘Lance’.

They strutted into the place of battle, a plain on ancient earth with the Creatures challenging them with huge roars and gaping, claw-toothed maws, their spitting throats and squirming tongues facing them down.

“...You ready, Mikey?” Lucifer growled low.

“As I’ll never be, Luka.” He whispered in return, stepping forward slowly, sword edge glittering at his side and steely determination in his eyes.

He brandished the sword, glare gleaming with fury and anger as the tip sparked and glowed, red and orange flames lapping their way up his blade, tongues of heat wreathing their way around the silver weapon.

For a moment, with his pure white wings spread and his sword lit with fire looked like the creature of wrath he was meant to be. The other three providing backup, felt a swell of mild intimidation and hope.

Then the ground split open, blue-blood covered tongues tangling over Michael’s limbs.

He let out a terrified shriek, swiping at them frantically, even as more pulled free from the dirt to tie Michael down.

“MIKEY!” Lucifer shouted in time with Raphael, just as the earth around them tore with a deafening crack, the blue tongues surrounding them in a cage of darkness and wet, creepy warmth.

Lucifer was half-tied already, struggling against the meaty appendages that held his fighting still. Raphael was nearly too weak to use any of his power against them, almost immediately tied up and yanked back.

Then Gabriel felt it.

The sensation of responsibility for necessity that crept in along with the slippery, squirming limbs wrapping around his arms and legs, crushing his wings and attacking his body with vicious lashes.

I’m listening, Dad. Gabriel thought. I’m ready to try.

He shut his eyes.

And he let go of the world.



For a moment, it was all hazy colours and too-bright lights, flashing abruptly in his mind and exploding across his head like his Father’s power at full force. The full tsunami of hate and exhaustion crashed down on his thin shoulders.

Hands were on his wings, the sensation like pins and needles running up his spine, overstimulation and pain lancing up his body, pulling him backward and off balance as he locked up, pushed by another solid wall of power, latched tight to his shoulders.

When he blinked next, it was to his brother’s wide, scared blue eyes staring into his, the colour gone from his face, Lucifer’s mouth moving but missing the sound to go with the shaped motion. All that remained was the low-pitched ringing of an explosion.

What..? Gabriel’s body shook for a moment as he tried to focus, a tremor running through his spine as sound started to come back, words starting to pierce through the fog that seemed to surround him.

“...riel! Wake up, Gabriel please, wake up!” Lucifer’s voice got progressively louder, Gabriel’s brain struggling to contend with the new rush of sensation and information.

Michael was practically wrapped around his largest two wings, trying to stop him from moving away. Raphael had a tight grip on his centre pair, helping Michael keep him back.

Lucifer stood in front, hands on Gabriel’s shoulders and practically screaming to get his attention, braced for an attack, ready to be thrown away from his brother like nothing.

Gabriel’s eyebrows pinched, confusion radiating off him in waves. He glanced down, away from Lucifer, trying to process what was happening, why he felt something leaving and retreating, why he felt so... strange.

Then he looked back up to Lucifer, eyes glazing over with exhaustion as the sharp golden light finally faded away. The youngest’s legs, finally hit with the full force of the energy used in his former state, trembled with exertion.

Lucifer’s eyes widened further, but not in fear. “Raphael, Michael, drop him.” He ordered, voice a little higher pitched than strictly needed.

The two immediately obeyed, watching as Gabriel fell forward into Lucifer without a second thought, eyes shuttering closed and body going lax as his sword slipped to the dust through gripless fingers. The Morningstar caught him, immediately pulling the smaller, limp angel against his chest.

“...L...Luci..?” Gabriel murmured dizzily, eyes opening to slits to try and focus on his brother’s faces.

“Y-yeah, Gabe.” Lucifer stammered, crystal tears finally starting to fall from his face and onto the smaller angel’s. “Y-yeah, ’m here, ‘m here...”

Gabriel’s eyes slid shut as Lucifer hugged him tight, the head of the youngest nestled in the crook of his neck and shoulder. Raphael nosed into the pile, trembling wings wrapping around his brother’s for comfort as the lax golden feathers simply lay across the ground.

Michael joined the group quickly, wiping his own tears on Lucifer’s wing before taking a glance up with clear eyes, taking in the destruction wrought by the youngest.

Oh Father... Michael prayed silently, wrapping tighter around his brothers with wide white feathers. ...What did you do, when you made Gabriel?

Gabriel had destroyed the Creatures.

Their bodies lay in scattered shreds, tantamount of the hand of God Himself falling to the earth in a vengeful command to burn. As if Gabriel was wielding the single greatest power, the ability, like nothing any of them had seen.

Gold did not cause collateral damage. He did not scorch the earth, or burn any plants.

But he tore into the Creatures without mercy, ignoring their cries of pain. He bathed the sky in their blood and did it without expression, without emotion. His face was a blank mask as he cut them to pieces, blade barely rising out of the flesh it had bit into before slashing once more.

The scariest part, had been seeing Gabriel as ‘empty’.

With his face cold and dead, shadowed only by a terrifying, calculating glare, Gabriel looks truly separate from himself.

Unlike the other Colours, which could be distracted in their wrath, Gold was singleminded. Focused in a way the others just weren’t. It wasn’t that they didn’t concentrate, it just wasn’t to the same level of horror.

It had taken all three Archangels to hold back Gold long enough for Lucifer to worm under his skin, to talk to Gabriel, and it still didn’t go well.

So Michael didn’t ask questions. He didn’t demand to know why Gabriel was forced to have that as his Colour form. None of them liked their Colour forms, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t alright with them, to a degree.

But Gold...

He knew that the only way any of the other Archangels would let him come out again, was by their own dooms.

And God help whatever was the target of Gold.



Sleep was a blessed gift that came rarely, infrequently, and - in Gabriel’s current state - painfully.

He spent the first day in fugue, utterly disconnected to the world around him. Sitting up with his knees to his chest and staring at the wall through blank eyes, Gabriel didn’t speak. He didn’t move, gaze wide and focusless, barely even tracking movement that occurred in his periphery.

Raphael was often up on the bed beside him for the initial few days, reading whatever book their Father had recently given him aloud, pointedly ignoring the fact that Gabriel made no joking comments on any of the reading.

Lucifer spent his time with Gabriel wrapped in his wing, talking quietly about anything he could think of, anything he could say, anything to distract his brother from whatever his head was running through.

Michael just sat across from Gabriel, staring back at him with equal intensity, speaking in low, quiet words that bordered pleading, begging for Gabriel to relax or even show interest in him beyond the fact that the constant, dead terror in his eyes vanished when one of his brothers was there.

The other three had slept after returning to themselves. Each time, they had fallen into sleep and remained that way for nearly a week, but Gabriel was blank. A container, emptied of everything and refilled with horror.

He didn’t exactly sleep, and he only did so when someone was playing guard, as the Archangels figured out quickly. When he did sleep, it was fitfully and restlessly, curling and uncurling repeatedly, wings always pressed to his sides and shivering, whether he was warm or cold. It didn’t matter.

Gabriel came back progressively, with encouragement from his brothers to do so. Over time, he tentatively edged back into his own grace, jokes coming back and his smile returning.

It took him nearly a month to become ‘Gabriel’ again, the playful, trickster brother. They all had seen it though, for almost a year after, the little glances, the little flicker of cold, dead expression when Gabriel seemed to be remembering Gold.

None of them commented on it.

And they never did.

{March, 1911}

The journey from the Northern Bunker back wasn’t quite as difficult as the journey there. Daniel took them down the mountain, got them their horses, and then let them off with a simple instruction;

“Tell anyone about anything you’ve heard here, and the Familiars will have your head.”

It was no idle threat.

Ancient Familiars, like those two, were known for their deadliness in combat and deep loyalty to their witch and their home. To have one of those chasing their ass would be both unpleasant and probably deadly. And Familiars had a nasty tendency to know what you didn’t want them to know.

Which was probably why Gabriel and Vance nodded frantically and made their escape within the next few minutes.

They rode hard and fast, only stopping when they strictly needed to. Without the burden of extra books and other travellers, neither wanted to be far from the enshrouding protection of their Bunker, Gabriel especially so.

For the first few days of journey, he was still affected by... whatever Daniel had given him, effectively preventing his nonhuman side from functioning.

Which, to him, extremely unsettling. He felt disconnected from the planet itself, missing utterly the link he could possess to know any threats that surrounded him. Even his Trickster side was shut off.

He always felt like something was watching him. Constantly. That twitch at the back of his neck that sent shivers down his spine and made him keep checking his over shoulders.

Sleep didn’t come for the first three nights, and he began to wonder how humans could even do it.

Admitted, he nearly passed out day four, and Vance ordered him to get some rest, steering the pair into a town off their path.

“...Sorry.” Gabriel mumbled, slightly guilty that he had set them back with something so stupid as nerves.

“You sleep more than anyone, why in the name of all that’s holy,” Vance half-ranted, making Gabriel wince with his word choice. “did you just stop?”

“...It’s been a bad week.” Gabriel shrugged pointlessly, remembering words said long ago by someone who cared so, so deeply, and lost so... so much.

They had found decent lodging, and first thing that Vance did was nod to the bed. “Get. I don’t want to see you up until tomorrow.” He ordered, letting Gabriel lay down, take his time flipping and turning and twisting, until at least a spark of his grace showed itself again. Even with that barely extended worldview, Gabriel instantly relaxed, slipping into sleep without hesitation.

 




When they finally reached the Bunker, they were careful to what they told the others, having to state and restate several times the threat hanging over their heads for a Familiar to come crashing down on them.

De’van considered the information about the Familiars oddly, as if both interested and turned off. “It’d be nice though...” Was often his statement about the concept.

But one night, while studying his demon book, Vance walked in. “Gabe, can I talk to ya’?” He asked, leaning on the doorframe.

“Yeah, of course. What do you need?” Gabriel replied, shutting the thick red tome.

“...What happened up there? At North? When you collapsed.”

Gabriel froze, hands tightening briefly on his book. “...I’m not really sure. One second I’m fine, the next, it feels like something’s trying to eat my internals.”

“You sure, Gabriel?” He questioned, slightly louder.

“I’m sure, Vance.” Gabriel growled out, staring into Vance’s eyes. “Besides, vicious intentions?”

“...I suppose.” The Man of Letters sat back, focused on Gabriel with a harsh expression.

“Then leave it.” Gabriel snarled. In all honesty, that might’ve been the worst way to say, ‘I’m an inhuman creature’, but he was too tired to care.

So he just let it go, as it were.

Gabriel Moran would die one day, along with his secret and his life. And one day, Gabriel Moran would be forgotten.

But for now, he was totally willing to just let the feeling of hope, hope for a future and a ‘family’, be all that he had.

{April, 2014}

Breathe in, breathe out.

The roof above him briefly illuminated, the moving light source flashing repeating lines of yellow-white light, rectangular reflections through the glass at his feet that glowed over his head before fading in the distance, almost immediately another starting it’s arc across the roof as the previous disappeared.

Breathe in, breathe out.

The rumbling of an engine under his ear was both comforting and unnerving, eyes barely focused on anything as he struggled to comprehend where he was, what was wrong, and if he needed to defend himself. Not that he’d be able to.

Brea- hitch, cough. Breathe out.

His cycle of inhale-exhale was interrupted by his vessel, no, his lungs spasming, a weak cough erupting from his chest in the same motion, filling the too-quiet air with a few low wheezes.

“Hey, I need you to keep breathing, alright?” A voice rose up from his right diagonal, from some space in the seat ahead, left side. “Cas said your grace was drained. I’ve got no idea how angel biology works, so you have to keep breathing.” It ordered.

Breathe in, breathe out.

“There you go...” The voice sighed, one arm sliding over the seat to reach a disturbingly long distance, fingertips brushing at his forehead. “You don’t have a fever, really. You’re a little cold though.” It noted, pulling it’s arm back to the front. “We’re going to stop at a motel. Or a hotel. Whatever I find first.”

Breathe in, breathe out.

“Yeah, we should be there soon.” It restated, a shadowed head turning to glance out the window. “Stay breathing until then, at least, ok? Because I can deal with that when I’m not trying to drive.”

Focus seemed a struggling concept, the ability to concentrate on one thing at a time, other than inhaling smoothly and cleanly, and exhaling evenly and slowly, just in an effort to keep calm.

Breathe in, breat- choke, cough. Out.

“Damnit- I jinxed it. You ok?” The figure glanced back at him, hazel eyes wide with worry.

He tried to fixate specifically on the figure, it’s voice and it’s eyes, even the smallest comfort he could ask for - to know he wasn’t alone - a trying ability.

Breathe in, breathe out.

“Ok, still breathing. Keep doing that.” The figure stated, not exactly an order but not just words, either. “Sleep, too, if you can. Or just close your eyes. You might pass out again.”

That was smart. That was a good suggestion. He couldn’t sleep, but he also didn’t need to stay entirely awake.

So, turning back to staring up at the roof, he unfocused his gaze, the lights swimming into hazy lines and streaks, before any connection to the world seemed to break, and he drifted away.



“Gabriel? Gabe, hey, wake up.”

He blinked, taking an aborted breath and trying to clear his vision on the person above him.

Long brown hair hung around the man’s face, the hazel in his eyes the only colour that he could actually focus on. Everything else was backlit with an odd red and blue glow, with some warm white from the side. “Hi.” The man smiled as Gabriel’s eyes sharpened slightly, not that they actually were looking at him. Gabriel was instead just... focusing, at nothing. “C’mon. We’re at the motel.” He explained, reaching into the car to wrap an arm around Gabriel’s chest, slowly bringing him out of the car.

Gabriel’s leg hit the ground, pain flaring through his form from his injuries, flailing slightly as he tried to curl back up, but his body was too weak to support his own weight, resulting simply in a shaky forced stand, leaning heavily on the man. Sam. He remembered, pressing into the other’s side in an attempt to hide. As it stood though, with his light shivering and exhaustion, Gabriel couldn’t do much more, barely even able to turn his head halfway into Sam’s chest, attempting to shield sensitive eyes from the harsh, oddly coloured light.

“It’s ok, I got us a room already. Just... can you even stand?” Sam tried to ask, but Gabriel didn’t even respond, no noise coming out of his throat.

Though, as the pair limped toward the door, old wood with a weathered, copper-coloured plaque that read ‘14’, it was clear to Sam that Gabriel couldn’t. And not for lack of trying. The Archangel was struggling to even keep his head upright and face hidden against Sam’s chest, eyes pinched shut as the neon lights from the motel sign flickered across his face.

“Got it.” Sam mumbled, other hand grabbing Gabriel against his ribs, hiking him higher up, making it easier for both of them to stay standing. It jarred the scrapes and rips in his skin, thinly wound in gauze that rubbed in a sort of comforting way against his body, but it was a distant sensation. Even the pain was dulled, as though feeling it from far away.

It was a good few minutes of struggle, but Sam managed to get them both inside and safe, setting Gabriel on the far bed before turning on a single lamp, hoping it wouldn’t be too painful.

The Archangel immediately scrambled onto the bed, knees pressed into his chest and back touching the headboard of the ancient bed, which protested his activity with an angry squeak.

“Ok then...” Sam mumbled, head turning slightly to observe Gabriel, as he stared through the hunter to some indeterminate spot on the wall opposite. Gabriel’s eyes stayed wide and blank, utterly empty of all things, which was both relieving and terrifying.

Sam came over to the bed farthest from the door, sitting sideways to examine Gabriel. The Archangel detected the movement peripherally, not paying attention to him, instead keeping his eyes on the wall in an attempt to sort through the muddied mess his memory was of the last several days. Weeks?

“Hey, can you hear me?” Sam questioned from beside Gabriel, raising one hand to slowly swipe in front of his face. “...not focusing.” He murmured to himself, lowering his arm. “Do you know where you are, even?”

Gabriel couldn’t summon the strength for a reply of any kind, not even to change where his gaze was fixated.

“...Ok, then.” Sam sighed, gently patting Gabriel’s shoulder. He pulled up the side of Gabriel’s shirt, checking on the bandages around his body, then pressing a hand to his forehead. “Jeez, you’re cold. Here.”

Sam pushed Gabriel back slightly, pulling down the oddly stained cream-brown blanket and sheet from their tight laid position around the bed. Then he yanked them all the way off, before turning around and wrapping them about the smaller man, curled into almost a fetal position on the bed, staring out at nothing.

“...That’s all I can do for now, until you talk. So you’ve gotta work with me here.” Sam smiled, moving directly in front of Gabriel so the Archangel would see him. His face fell though, when he noticed the blankness of the Trickster’s gaze. “...I’m going to go to bed. I’ll sew you up tomorrow, ok?” He mumbled, standing and turning off the lamp.

He went to the side, unzipping the duffel he had taken in and pulling out a few folded items of cloths, heading to the bathroom with a final glance Gabriel’s direction. Once he was ready for bed, he flipped away from Gabriel with a low sigh, as if both relieved and exhausted.

The room was silent after that.



The person beside him (Who?) next moved, it was several hours later.

Gabriel couldn’t exactly remember what time had passed before the action nearby had pulled him even slightly out of his stupor, but it was still dark out, though the first few glimmers of red light were peaking at irritating brightness from the one small, square foot mirror by the door.

The angry rays seemed to centre their wrath on the Archangel, who curled his head deeper between his shoulder and elbow, under the blanket, trying to hide from the excessive brightness.

There was a yawn, a few pops that signalled his... roommate, was stretching, getting ready and active for the day. Footsteps came closer and a hand slowly came into the side of his sight range.

“Hey.” Someone was talking to him. He didn’t really bother looking over, when a face appeared in his vision. Sam held up a single finger, that Gabriel was quick to focus on as it carefully moved side to side, following. “Ok, so you can track today... That’s good...” Sam sighed, settling onto the bed. “Can you talk?” He asked. “Or, at least let me know that you can even hear me?”

Gabriel didn’t move.

“Guess not.” Sam huffed, turning away, then snapping back to Gabriel. “Ok, look, Gabe, this is so far out of my realm of capability, so I get that you’re probably in pain, and confused and going through grace reset or whatever, but I need you to tell me, or at least give me direction of how to fix this!” He exclaimed, hitting one hand to the bedspread slightly less hard than he might’ve with Dean.

Gabriel’s reaction was absent.

“Yeah...” Sam murmured with a low sigh. “...I wouldn’t listen to that craziness either.”

He stood up, turning away and heading for the duffel bag in the corner, preparing to repack the few items he had removed.

“...Water.”

Sam’s head pulled up so fast his neck popped, meeting Gabriel’s golden gaze. The Archangel’s head was lifted, eyes focused on Sam, the most notable movement he had done in the past day and a half. The hunter stared for a moment, slowly processing.

His voice had been scratchy, as if not used recently, and it had hurt to try, throat almost too dry to even bother.

“...Ok.” He said, a soft smile lighting up his face. “...Water. I can do that.” Sam nodded, turning away to walk into the bathroom, to fulfill the request.

He came back a few minutes later, holding a opaque plastic cup with the shadow of water sloshing minutely as he trotted over, smiling brightly to him. “Here. You gonna be good with the...” He held it out, but Gabriel had returned to staring at the wall. “...Hey.”

The Archangel’s gaze flicked over to Sam at the quiet, yet insistent word, head moving slightly to accommodate the movement.

“Yeah. Water?” He asked, offering the glass.

Gabriel blinked, as if having forgotten what he asked for, then slowly unfurled his arms from their crunched in, hunched forward position, grabbing to the cup shakily. Sam kept one hand nearby, as if guarding so that the cup didn’t fall and splatter on the weakened Archangel’s lap.

After a few small sips, he handed back the glass, shivering softly.

“There.” Sam said, as if satisfied, setting it on the worn, scratched bedside table. “Take five. I’m going to have a shower, then patch you up.”

With another kind pat to the shoulder, Sam stood up and took his clean clothes, stepping into the overly small bathroom with a small hum.

Gabriel turned his eyes back to the wall and waited, listening to the endless drone of water spraying weakly and then splashing down, as if being vigorously wiped from something.

When Sam next emerged, in three layers of cotton and flannel and of course, jeans, Gabriel had to blink in astonishment, despite his weak, not-himself state.

On his head, Sam had a towel hat. White and plain, but a towel hat never the less.

Gabriel made a choking noise low in his throat, chest spasming and breathing suddenly freezing up, unable to work anymore.

“Whoa, whoa...” Sam called, darting over far faster than anything his size normally moved, one hand on Gabriel’s front to keep him from falling forward onto the bed and patting his back as the Archangel coughed violently. “There you go, breathe...” He encouraged, until Gabriel sucked in a long breath and continued panting, leaning weakly into Sam’s arm with both hands resting on his wrist with a too-soft grip, fingers flexing and tightening minutely on his skin with each wheeze.

When Gabriel finally had the strength to straighten back up and curl into his ball again, Sam gave a moment to examine him, let him get his breath back and relax before turning away. “I’m going to get the first aid kit.” He stated, sliding the bolt on the door before slipping outside.

Gabriel’s eyes unlocked from their endless fixation with the wall, to glance along the walls.

And to spot a small, copper feather resting in the corner.

His brow furrowing in confusion, the Trickster unfolded his legs as best as he could, as though hypnotized by the glimmering feather lying to the side. His hands wound over his shoulders to grip absentmindedly at the blanket over his back and arms, hanging limply after that.

One shaking foot pressed against the floor, eyes focused entirely on the confusing feather, that he was sure didn’t have a partner three seconds ago, Gabriel tried to push into standing.

And immediately hit the ground.

Gabriel fell at about the same time that Sam popped back in the room, carrying a large duffle with a small, fading and peeling red cross painted on it, evidently the work of some younger Winchester determined to remember which bag was which.  

“Gabriel, what the-“ Sam placed the bag on the other bed before running over to the fallen one, gently placing one hand on his good shoulder. “Why did you get off the bed?” He questioned as he moved closer to Gabriel, trying to discover what had happened.

“F...Feather.” Gabriel hissed out, breaths turned shallow and panting. With one hand, he gestured to the corner where he had seen the copper items.

Sam glanced quizzically between Gabriel and the wall. “...Gabriel, there’s nothing there.”

The Archangel turned his face up to Sam, staring at him confusedly, an unspoken question in his expression.

“Yeah, ok...” Sam sighed, heaving him upright. Gabriel made a small choked noise as the movement stressed his injured ribs again, Sam wincing in sympathy.

After that, there were no words spoken from either. Sam pulled off the coat and shirt that Gabriel was wearing, laying them carefully by the side. The outfit was rather iconic to the Archangel, between the camo-green jacket and burgundy-red shirt, and when he was better, hopefully he’d be able to fix them, stained and destroyed though they were.

Gabriel returned to staring at the wall for a bit, until Sam took a hissing inhale between his teeth, flinching back. Then he glanced down.

His chest was a mess, as were his upper arms. A mottled collection of blue-red marks, shaped and styled like burns but no breaks in the skin, like bruises. Under those, swelling and purple-coloured bruises on both sides of his ribs that indicated broken bones. Cuts and scrapes littered the surface, painting it’s dyed canvas with red splatters and shapes.

His arms, on top of the red-blue damage, contained deeper cuts, though not nearly as bad as the slash across his lower ribs or the chunk missing from his shoulder, wounds he received from... From...

“Jesus...” Sam breathed, interrupting Gabriel’s train of thought. “What is this..?” He wondered, running light fingers over the red-blue marks, moving around to check on the rest of Gabriel’s upper body.

Gabriel momentarily forgot that he could reply, but his voice still came out as a squeak. “Sigil burn.”

“‘Sigil burn’?” Sam repeated, shifting back to make eye contact with the Archangel. With his weak nod, Sam continued. “As in, burns made by a sigil? When what, you broke out of it?”

Gabriel nodded again.

“...Then your wings must be a mess too.” He muttered low, brow furrowing as he drew connections. “And your back’s hurt. Not much, it looks like the vertebrae twisted, or shifted.” Sam listed. “I’m going to put you back to straight, then lay down, and I can sew you up.”

There was a pause as Gabriel nodded once more, knowing that he was just going to help, even if he had to hurt a bit to do so.

“And I want to see your wings.”

Gabriel’s head snapped up to stare at Sam, shaking his head jerkily.

“Yes, Gabriel.” Sam insisted. “I want to make sure they aren’t broken, or too cut up. Your wings just got healed a few months ago, and I’m not about to let you spend another few weeks unable to fly.”

The Trickster gave Sam a look, fear and nervousness and pain. Sam didn’t even want to think about how wrong it felt on Gabriel’s normally so joyful face, now marred by deep circles of black under his dull, honey brown eyes. They weren’t gold, not while he was this frightened and hurt.

“It’s ok.” Sam promised him, as if he was a frightened dog. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

Gabriel continued to stare at him, worried, but eventually nodded twitchily.

“Ok.” He said, then immediately chuckled nervously. “I know I just said I wouldn’t hurt you, but this is going to hurt, ok?”

Glancing back, Gabriel met the hunter’s eyes as the other readied himself to slide the offset vertebrae back into place.

“On three. One... Two!”

The shock and pain shot up Gabriel’s spine, an aborted scream choking it’s way out Gabriel’s throat as he slumped back, breathing heavily. Every so often, his breath hitched, a sign that his ribs were catching.

“Sorry, sorry...” Sam mumbled, laying him down. “Hurts less if you’re relaxed.” He explained, going through the duffle until he pulled out a curved needle and a spool of surgical suture thread. The thin black wire glimmered slightly as Sam started to unwind it, threading it skillfully onto the needle and pulling out a bottle of disinfectant (What, Gabriel couldn’t tell) a larger bottle of holy water, and a small, orange-brown blotched cloth.

Standing, Sam took that cloth and one other, similarly marked one, trotting off to the bathroom and returning after seconds of running water, holding both the washcloths, now damp, and several of the motel’s too-small bleach white bath towels.

“Sit up for a second.” Sam said, taking Gabriel’s good shoulder to assist him in the simple act of pulling upright. Humiliating, if he hadn’t been... so tired.

After Sam laid down several of the towels on the bedspread, yanking a pillow down to support Gabriel’s head, before grabbing the nightstand, taking things off it with far less care than he pretended to have, and tugged it close to the pair of them. With careful fingers, Sam disinfected the needle and his fingers, rubbing the chemical across his entire hands and a good portion of his wrist too. After that, he handed Gabriel three large, white pills, and waited until he swallowed them.

Sam said nothing, just gave the Archangel a slight nod and unscrewed the cap of holy water, pouring it on one of the cloths, followed by some disinfectant, and then, at last, over the slice on Gabriel’s arm.

Watching carefully, Gabriel noted Sam’s utter focus, his eyes tracking exactly how the 3/8 curved needle went in and dipped under his cut, before rising on the other side. It was agonizing, but disconnected as he was, he barely noticed it.

Sam cut the thread, tying probably about four too many throws, but he was worried. Gabriel could see it, and had an idea of what he was thinking; An Archangel should not need to be sewn up by a human.

Sam continued on though, making an effort not to dwell on that thought too much, judging by the focused narrowing of his brow.

Mindlessly, Gabriel followed the needle with his eyes, watching quietly as Sam went with his work.

Some eighteen stitches later, he sighed and tied off the nineteenth, wiping off his hands with the second towel and some disinfectant before rummaging in the duffel again for a few moments, pulling out a few sterile gauze pads and a roll of medical tape.

After patching Gabriel’s arm, he moved onto the shoulder.

“Jeez, what’d you even get hit with?” He mumbled, slightly irritably as he examined the wound.

He didn’t reply, just gave Sam a plaintive look. “...Ok then...” The taller cleaned off the needle, picking up the holy water again as the Archangel tensed slightly. “You’re making me do mattress stitches. I hate mattress stitches.” Sam unscrewed the cap, poured some water into the lid and dipped the needle, then re-disinfected the thin, crescent shaped tool. “Kinda sad that I have a least favourite type of stitch. Jesus.”

Gabriel’s eyes slid shut as Sam poured the holy water, letting it wash over the wound, but then winced as it started hissing furiously.

It was like the floodgate had opened on everything Gold had been holding back.

“Whoa, wait, what the-“ Sam’s eyes went wide as Gabriel’s back arched, pain lancing through his body with simultaneous blazes of heat and chill. A strangled, choked-off scream made it out of his mouth, hands straining and clawing into the sheets with pain, squirming away from the agony that was soaked into his body.

Blood bubbled up with the spitting white water, the half-formed scab over the damaged flesh ripping and disintegrating with evidently sigil-made poison clashing against holy water.

Sam shot off the bed when Gabriel’s mouth opened again with another ripping screech, body stiff and sweat breaking across suddenly shock-pale skin. The icy flames bit into his body, through his vessel and sinking into his true form like the fangs of a snake, pumping vile venom through his system and purging every aspect of itself.

Then a splash of cool, perfectly, blessedly normal water over the wound, and the feeling evaporated.

Gabriel sucked in a heaving gasp, going limp against the pillows and panting heavily into the bed, the only sound he could hear the endless roar of his own blood flow, the steady drumbeat of his own heart. My own heartbeat...

“...riel... Gabriel! Gabe?” Sam called to him, leaning overtop of his head with wide, slightly scared eyes. “What the Hell was that?!”

Gabriel blinked slowly, sluggish, fried brain struggling to keep the words together with Sam’s face, to put a sound to a person, before he could even consider answering. “...s’g’l...” He mumbled out, eyes fluttering slightly more closed.

“No, no.” Sam growled out, tapping harshly at his cheek. “Stay awake. Will it kill you?”

“...b’rn... out...” Gabriel managed, already dazed from both the pain still throbbing through his shoulder and the effort of talking.

“I’ve got to use the holy water to burn it out of you?” Sam filled in, expression both concerned and determined. With a stunted nod, Gabriel’s eyes flickered more shut, trying to pass out fully but the low pain not enough to yet put him over.

Sam took a deep inhale, skewing his jaw as he picked up the bottle of holy water.

“Really sorry about this.” He whispered quietly to Gabriel, then poured the holy water.

Everything went white with pain, then finally, blessedly, black.


Gabriel blinked awake not fifteen minutes later with a startled hitch in his breathing. Sam flinched, making the slash in his shoulder throb brutally as one of the stitches pulled roughly.

“Jesus...” Sam swore as he placed a hand on his chest, breathing out slowly. “Scared me.” He said quietly, patting Gabriel’s chest for a moment before going back to his work. “The one on your rib burns like that too, by the way. No idea what you got hit with, but whatever it is doesn’t like holy water.”

Gabriel made a quizzical expression, trying to talk, but only a small squeak coming out.

“Yeah, hang on. Let me tie off this...” He sat back with a sigh, reaching to the side table and picking up a bottle of water. “I don’t know how much holy water affects you if you drink it, but-“

He was interrupted when Gabriel tried to take the bottle with shaking hands, fingers too weak to grip.

“Ok, then.” Sam laughed slightly, but helped hold the bottle of water as Gabriel tried lazily to take it from him.

When he was done, Sam returned to stitching up a few other wounds while the Archangel enjoyed the slightly relaxant effects of a good dose of holy water, simply lying in a half-asleep state while Sam sewed him up.

The rib cut burned with a splash of holy water, but some cold tap water cleaned it off quickly. After that, Sam leaned down and picked up an old pottery container, dipping his fingers into it before wiping the wound with a particularly syrupy, staticky-feeling substance.

“Holy oil neutralized it.” Sam explained, without any question needed from Gabriel’s end. “It going to harm you?”

“...Should help.” Gabriel got out, voice slightly quieter, but smoother.

“Got it.” Sam nodded, then moved on to the scraping on his right shoulder, where there definitely wasn’t the damaging cut, but scrapes and raw skin mottled the area. “This looks like you got thrown into something. You know where you got it?”

“...Cr...rash land.” He mumbled, then blinked.

Alaska.

It was in Alaska.

Why was I in Alaska?

“That’s good, sorta.” Sam responded, rubbing some antibiotic cream gently into the scrapes. “Remember why?”

Gabriel shook his head, and Sam’s mouth tightened into a thin line.

“When you can talk again, we’re having a chat about a few things.” He stated, patting the gauze pad now on Gabriel’s shoulder.

He nodded in agreement, starting to let his eyes focus on the wall again.

“Time to sit up.” Sam said, slowly pulling the Archangel upright. Gabriel tried to help, but it probably was just flailing, even to himself. After a moment of examining his chest with careful fingers, Sam shook his head. “Three cracked, one bruised, and one broken. Best I can do is wrap them up, but I’ll wait until we have this taken care of.” The hunter poked softly at the red-blue marks on his chest. “Holy water didn’t have an effect, and neither did holy oil. You got any suggestions?”

“...Cream?” Gabriel questioned, a slightly hopeful tone in his voice.

“Really? Sigil wounds, and burn cream?” Sam chuckled, shaking his head.

Gabriel shrugged slightly, wincing at the tug it gave to the wound on his shoulder. Could work.

“Ok then...” Sam agreed with a sigh, picking up a small container of some kind of evidently stolen burn cream, smearing the thick white substance over the marks on Gabriel’s chest and upper arms, then noticing his damaged, red-marked wrist. He rubbed the cream into the burn there as well.

After that, it was tightly wound bandages about his ribs, where they had been snapped by some kind of brutal impact.

“There.” He finally sighed, sitting back with a tired but satisfied grin. “I’ll look at your wings later, but you need a rest and so do I.” He tried to run a hand through his hair, but instead hit the towel hat that both of them suddenly realized he was still wearing.

“What the-“ Sam looked up, grabbing at his head with one hand, yanking off the towel.

His hair, half-dried, unbrushed, and mostly a tangled mess that curled up at weird angles.

“So that’s why it wasn’t in my face...” He mumbled under his breath, standing up and placing unused or still usable items back into the duffel bag for some other Team Free Will injury, zipping it shut. After that, he went back to the washroom, this time probably to fix his hair.

When Sam returned, hair brushed as straight as it ever got, he immediately picked up the car keys, watching as Gabriel squirmed back, spine against the headboard again.

“You know, if you lay down, it won’t hurt as much.” Sam said, one hand on the door.

Gabriel had already gone back to staring at the wall, meds making him a little sleepy, but still forcing himself awake.

“I’ll be back soon.” Sam reassured, to what might as well have been an empty room.

And then Gabriel was alone.



He didn’t jump hard enough to fall off the bed when Sam returned. Gabriel, when he was well, would deny that to the end of his days.

“Hey- whoa!” Sam lunged forward, significantly too far a distance to actually make across in a second, before Gabriel hit the floor.

The Archangel let out a pained moan, the wounds on his vessel screaming at him angrily and his wings, that he finally noticed, were flopped weakly behind him.

For the past day and a half, he had been at least partially aware of his vessel, because he could see it fully. His wings, though, had been farther disconnected, like his grace. And suddenly, there they were, spread out across one bed and pinned under his shoulder like a gigantic, broken kite, all pinions and blood and broken struts.

“Gabriel?” Sam was back close, grabbing Gabriel’s shoulders and pulling him upright, helping him back onto the bed. “You ok?”

This time, Gabriel shook his head. The pain from being moved, even that little bit, had made the room spin and a strange feeling well up in his stomach. Sam’s hands were still on his shoulders, behind his back, a heavy and warm comfort as the hunter rested beside him.

Then Gabriel threw up on the floor between the beds.

“Jesus-” Sam jumped slightly, feet snapping to he side as Gabriel heaved up watery brown and almost black substance, too thick and goopy to be normal. When the violent nausea passed, briefly, Sam patted his back. “Let’s get you to the bathroom. Bobby always said, ‘better out than in.’”

Sam chuckled at the words, walking Gabriel to the tile floor, throwing the blanket neatly over his body as the Archangel’s fingers curled over the lip of the toilet. It was probably a sad, sad sight, a being that powerful, weak and shaking, hunched over a stained porcelain bowl.

Patting his back for a moment, Sam waited with him, letting Gabriel get his bearings back and pull semi-upright, before taking a few of the towels and soaking them with water, apparently to wash the black stuff from the stained carpet.

When he returned, to dump the soiled towels in the bathtub, Gabriel had just started puking again, body clenching up as it attempted to expel what he didn’t have. His focus shrunk down, to nothing but the shadowed pipe at the bottom of the toilet.

When the attack of dry-heaving passed, Gabriel remained between the toilet and the bathtub, breathing heavily and eyes shut. “Still alive, Gabe?” Sam questioned, one hand landing on his shoulder.

The Archangel made a low moan, trying to blink away the black spots in his vision.

“Going to take that as yes.” Sam sighed, kneeling beside the sick Trickster. “You should get some sleep. Then we can fix up your wings.”

With that, Sam helped Gabriel to his feet, staggered over to the bed with him, and handed him the trashcan, obviously an impromptu barf bucket. After that, some water and several pills. Gabriel raised an eyebrow with a suspicious expression.

“Don’t look at me like that.” Sam said, sounding almost motherly with the tone he uses. “You haven’t slept in the days we’ve been here, and I do know. You’ve only passed out, and that’s about it. So take the pills, we’ll watch some TV, and you’ll take a nap.”

Gabriel shook his head, sitting against the headboard with a small, soft sigh.

“Gabe, please...” Sam huffed, picking up the TV remote even as he sat beside the Trickster. “Just take the damn pills?”

With another wordless ‘no’, Gabriel focused on the wall and ignored everything.

Until Sam slid over, slung an arm carefully over his shoulders, and held the pills in front of his nose again. “C’mon. Watch some TV, not the wall.” Sam said with a dull smile, somehow producing a bottle of water as well.

With a heavy, borderline painful sigh, Gabriel took the pills, unscrewing the cap off the water and taking a few sips before leaning on the warm body next to him and moving his eyes from the wall to the crappy television, loosely tracking the Simpsons on the screen.

Some half an hour later, he began to physically feel his body relax, against his own will, too.

With a small gasp and a slight struggle, Gabriel tried to free himself from the blankets, needing to stay awake. He couldn’t know if he had to go back, back to being... that, if he was asleep.

“Hey, you ok?” Sam asked, and Gabriel immediately shook his head, though the movement felt sluggish. “Drugs kicking in?” He hypothesized, using the arm behind Gabriel’s back to pull the blanket back up.

With a jerky, hesitant nod, Gabriel tried to force his eyes open, frightened.

“Relax.” Sam said, pulling him closer and pinning he struggles. “Stop fighting them. You don’t need to stay awake.”

But I do! It’s all scary in the-

“How about I guard, ok?” With a smile, the hunter interrupted his thoughts. “You get some rest, I’ve got this watch.”

The words sounded almost rehearsed, as if they had been repeated before. Gabriel yawned, trying to hold it in and failing, before giving Sam a questioning look.

“I mean it, Gabriel. You’ll be fine. I’ve got this watch.” Sam’s hand slid into his hair for a moment, a gesture of comfort, before tugging Gabriel’s head onto his shoulder in a practiced sort of movement.

Pinned with his fears more-or-less sated, Gabriel nodded slowly in considerate agreement, feeling his spine relax and uncoil, at the same time that he took a proper deep breath, and turned his eyes back to the television.

Warm and safe, and recognizing it, Gabriel breathed out, tension draining away, and finally, finally, he allowed himself to drop off into unconsciousness.



When Gabriel came to, it was to a dark room, pressed against something warm and soft. Nuzzling his face into it, Gabriel squished his eyes closed tighter, and tried to go back to sleep. The blanketing, fuzzy feeling of drugs still weighed on him, calling him to return to darkness and a good, long nap,  when a dull rumble came from under his chest.

“Jeez, you and Dean are so alike it’s weird.” Sam mumbled absentmindedly.

Me and Dean? Really? What the hell are you on, Sam?

“Stubborn, self-sacrificing, idiotic, protective, and, when drugged or injured...” Sam chuckled. “You’re both cuddly.”

There was a half second pause to consider that, then Sam laughed a bit more. “Really. When Dean was younger, he’d cuddle or hide when hurt. It was pretty ridiculous. He’d either be curled so tight around this hot water bottle dad got him, or he’d have somehow jammed himself under the sink in the bathroom.”

Gabriel made a few quiet hums of amusement with that mental image. Dean, teenage or otherwise, squishing into an impossibly tight space, was a hilarious concept.

“And instead of either of those, you’re using me as a heating pad.”

Golden eyes flicked open, turned, and focused on Sam’s face.

He was lying on Sam’s chest, half-hugging him and in a position that suggested Gabriel had, at some point, tried to bury himself inside Sam’s ribs. Which was ok. Surprisingly.

Rather than bother to wake up more, Gabriel groaned, turned his head back into the dark spot a good three inches from his face, and tried to pass out again.

Sam chuckled, one arm moving up to gently rub at Gabriel’s neck and the base of his skull. “Yeah, I get the point. Go back to sleep, Gabriel.”

The Archangel did just that, the whole situation reminding him of another time, with orange-red-pink wings wrapped around him, warm and heavy, the presence of another person promising safety.

And he slept.



Gabriel woke up when a beam of light fell across particularly sensitive eyes, letting out a low groan at the intrusion. He didn’t want to be conscious yet.

“Hey, wake up.” Sam’s voice came from somewhere nearby as Gabriel pulled upright, into his knees up curled pose, face on his legs. “That’s better than nothing, I suppose.” The weight on the bed shifted, signifying someone standing from it.

Gabriel took a deep breath, opening his eyes slightly to watch Sam before letting them slip closed.

“Still not really talking to me?” He asked quietly. Gabriel didn’t reply.

“Gold.” Sam stated abruptly. Silence. “You told me to call you that. Said it was nice. Can I help you with that name?” He questioned, turning around.

Gabriel was crying. Tears streamed down his face silently, only the smallest hitch in his breath signifying that he was actually barely keeping in sobs, sounding more like muffled hiccups than the wracking screams they looked like.

Sam stood, dumbstruck for a moment, before Gabriel let out the smallest, wordless whimper a grown man or Archangel could make. “Ok, ok, not Gold, you’re not Gold!” Sam shot across the room in a second, pulling Gabriel into a tight hug and rubbing his back. “Not that. You’re not Gold.”

There was a few minutes of Gabriel clutching to Sam’s back with hooked fingers and shaking, shaking like he was going to rip himself apart.

“...Is that what you were called? When you were hunting angels?” Sam asked, voice overly calm and yet, still shaken. “...Gold?”

Gabriel nodded jerkily into Sam’s shoulder, hands fisting into the flannel over his back.

“You’re not him anymore. I don’t know that... thing.” Sam stated. “And you’re not going to be him. Ever again.”

They sounded like words said before. Maybe even from Sam, to himself. A convincing speech about who and what they were determined to become.

“...Sorry.” Sam whispered after a long few minutes of silence.

It’s ok. Gabriel wanted to say. It’s going to be ok.

He just hugged Sam tighter.

By the time they let each other go, neither of them had really wanted to move. Gabriel knew that moving would mean pain again, and Sam knew that moving meant releasing some form of grounding.

“We should fix up your wings.” Sam said, sitting back.

Gabriel skewed his jaw, sighed, and nodded. “...’t’s going to hurt.” He coughed, cleared his throat, and shook his head.

“You got out a full sentence.” The hunter smiled, getting out the first aid kit again. Gabriel made a scoff-hum noise, rolling his eyes slightly before standing.

With a quick ‘Turn around’ gesture to Sam, he leaned on the bed for a moment with both hands, arching his back and spreading out his wings. Their incorporeal form slowly filled with light before solidifying, a new heaviness and a sense of real weighing them down.

Then the pain hit.

Gabriel’s wings slumped to the floor with an agonized hiss, the feathers flaring and folding quickly as his hands tightened on the bedsheet in pain.

“Those look... ok, hang on.” Sam nudged Gabriel carefully off the bed, onto the floor where he could lay until Sam was done yanking the beds end to end, with Gabriel flopping in the centre. “You want to move those?” He asked, tapping one hand against an intact wing. Or, what could be called intact. His wings were missing feathers, scraped and cut, and one was broken.

Maybe two were.

“No.” Gabriel growled, lifting his right wings onto the bed, having to use his lowest one to help the centre. A dull hiss escaped his lips, a verbal form of the complaint the bruised joint was flaring off.

Then came the left.

He shuffled his smaller two under the broken largest, practically straining the muscles to lift the shattered wing off the ground and deposit it on the bed, sliding the lower set out from their trapped support position and folding against his back.

“That’s the broken one... What’s wrong with the middle one on the right?” Sam questioned, running his knuckles over the feathers of the broken wing, being extremely gentle to the swollen spot of hot, irritated muscle.

“Sprained.” Gabriel explained softly, folding his arms under his chest to try and look over his shoulder.

“So if we wrap it, shouldn’t be that bad?” He asked, sitting beside the left wings, some of the scrapes and cuts along it’s thin, powerful bones having reopened.

“No.” Gabriel repeated, shaking his head. After a cursory examination of all six wings, Sam let out a contemplative hum.

“Doesn’t look like you’re going to need stitches, for most of this. Just some butterflies.” He commented, patting Gabriel’s wing-shoulder. “But, that wing’s got to be...”

“Reset.” The Archangel finished with a sigh. “...Yeah.”

If he was to be completely honest, Gabriel didn’t really remember anything after Sam put his hands on the broken wing and pressed the shattered pieces back together.



“Hey, Gabriel.”

The Trickster moaned at the rude awakening, blinking blearily in the mid-morning light.

“Good morning.” Sam greeted, kneeling beside his bed with a small smile. “Time for us to get out of here, whenever you’re good to stand. We have a few stops to make.”

Gabriel pushed himself upright with a grunt, shaking his head. “‘m good.” He gritted out, shifting to set his feet on the ground as Sam straightened as well, walking away to the door to pull on his shoes.

Following after a moment’s more rest, Gabriel tugged on his sneakers and tried to use shaking hands to tie them, but in the end just jammed the ends of the left shoelace beside his foot and left the sloppily tied right side alone. Popping the collar of his half-torn, but usable coat, he reached to take one of the bags from Sam, determined not to be completely useless.

“No.” The hunter pulled the bags away with a small glare, but lead him toward the Impala regardless. “You look like you’re dying.”

“That bad?” Gabriel croaked out with a half-grin.

“Save the snark until you can walk a straight line.” Sam insisted, pushing Gabriel into a slightly better standing position.

“Sammy-“ Gabriel coughed slightly. “Nothin’ about me is straight.”

“Talk less.” Sam ordered, unfazed.

“And do what more?” The Archangel asked.

“Shut up more. Sleep more. Both.” With a soft shove, Gabriel was pressed into the passenger seat, with enough leg room to curl into the footwell and nap there comfortably, but it was probably for Winchester sized movement.

Hopping into the driver’s side, Sam stretched back an arm and placed the duffel bag and grocery bag in the back, before scrambling through the old canvas bag in search of something.

Then Sam pulled it forward, and slapped what felt like a bag full of cold gel onto his lap.

It made a rather satisfying smack as it hit his thighs, but still brought forth a hoarse, pained yelp.

“Ow! Not into that, Sam-m.” Gabriel coughed harshly.

“If you can do full sentences, you’re fine for now. If you can make jokes, you’re on the mend.” Sam stated, but patted the weird blue-gel thing. “Heat pack. Give it a shot.”

Gabriel had half a mind to reply with something snarky, anything to shove down the pain and maybe make some kind of mental anaesthetic for the memories and the stupid copper feather in the back seat (He could see it in the mirror.) but he didn’t know how much longer his throat would work for.

Instead, he shrugged and picked up the end of the pack, the gel sloshing about minimally. “How...”

“The metal piece.” Sam nodded to the gel pack. “Press it, it should work.”

“Where’d you even find this thing?” Gabriel questioned, the metal button making a small ‘snap’ noise as he pushed it in, the gel turning cloudy white and solidifying from the action, warming in his hands.

Sam chuckled, shaking his head. “That thing’s older than some of our guns. Blame Dean, apparently 13-year-old him wanted it when Dad had to hunt a spirit at a convention of some kind.”

With a mild hum in response, Gabriel curled in on the heat pack, wide enough to be pressed against his chest in a way that was extremely comforting.

“Seatbelt, then sleep.” The Winchester cast him a glare, sitting back in the seat in a way that indicated he was not driving until Gabriel obeyed.

With a muffled grunt, the wounded Archangel pulled the seatbelt over his body, clipping it into the lock, and tightening back up. “L’ve me ‘lone.” He growled at Sam.

“Functionality, temporary.” Sam noted aloud, smiling slightly as he pulled out of the parking space. “Take a rest. We’ll be at the Bunker soon.”

Gabriel sighed lightly, wrapping closer to the heat pack contained on his abdomen. The warmth definitely was helping uncoil some of the tension that had locked up his shoulders and grace, and as a result, when he rested his head on the leather seat... he blinked once, and fell.



“SAM!”

The car swerved slightly as Sam flinched and swore, turning to stare at the Archangel. “What?! What’s wrong?”

“I’m not warded!” Gabriel burst out, holding his hands to his temples as if he wanted to crush his skull in.

“You-“ Sam cut off. “You burst awake screaming and that’s your concern?”

“It’s a big one, Sam.” He said with a hoarse growl, lunging into the glove compartment, hoping to find a pencil or pen. Locating the former and a pad of paper, Gabriel started scribbling out sigils aggressively, showing Sam when they were complete.

“...complex.” The hunter commented quietly, skimming them before turning back to the road. “How big to they need to be?”

“Well, the anti-possession,” He paused, took a breath, continued. “Can go centre of my chest.”

Neither of them said why the anti-possession was necessary, particularly because neither wanted to think of the implications of one.

“The sight and scrying preventer needs to be big.” Gabriel coughed a few times into his elbow. “Back. Should probably take up the whole thing.”

Most of it’s body resembled an arrowhead, with flared off extra lines and droplets flowing off it. Within the arrowhead, a long, thin, kite-shape flowed. In the centre, the widest part of the inner diamond, a single, slitted eye stared out.

“Jeez, that big?” Sam mumbled incredulously.

“Needs to be.” The Archangel nodded. “The eye prevents sight spells and location searching.” He flipped to the next page of the note. “Like, your ribs but stronger.”

“Ah.” Sam agreed. “Sounds good.”

“This, too.”

Gabriel held up a hiding sigil overlaid with an angelic name, and then a ring of Enochian surrounding it.

“A little more wordy...” Sam noted, checking the road before squinting at the words. “K, C, U... oh.” His eyebrows shot up, before he glared at Gabriel. “Does that have a point, or-“

“Nope.” Gabriel smiled cheekily.

“So uh... you’re just going to walk around with a giant angel ‘fuck off Metatron’ on what... your hip?”

“Good position.” He gritted out with a soft nod. “Good choice.”

“I didn’t mean... whatever. It’ll work, right?”

“Keep my grace hidden.” Gabriel murmured, drawing up a third and final sigil.

Long, thin and loopy, like half a figure eight on a stick, sideways, with lettering under the tail of it, as if a strikethrough, and the whole thing circled in a broken oval, points curling off it periodically.

“Got it.” Sam nodded. “Sounds fair. I think we can get that done, the next time we’re in a town with a decent tattoo parlour, we’re going to get you done up.”

“It’ll have to be-“ Gabriel coughed. “In Lebanon. We have to get back to the Bunker. We’ll... both be safer there.” He murmured quietly, head bobbing back down until he rested against the back of the leather seat again.

“Got it.” Sam agreed, turning to the road once more.

Chapter Text

Hey everyone. How are you doing? Is it good?

God I’m sorry.

This summer has been a damn disaster, but I swear I never forgot!!! My new school year is going to be busy but I am no longer working, so I’ll have lots of time to focus on writing :)

Sorry for the long ass hiatus. Next chapter should be up sometime in September. Thanks y’all, love you!