Actions

Work Header

Mortal Obsession

Chapter Text

It was the sixth month when Gabriel got his first taste of human ineptitude.

His first experience with humanity came with the delivery of a rather awkward message.

It wasn't all that impressive looking back, not in his option anyway; Mary was a rather boring human and her husband mightily confused. In the end though, it all worked out splendidly. He had an easy ride and his Father was finally able to begin repairs on Heaven after the war.

Earth was new, angels were still in their early days, and with Jesus out amongst the humans, they had no commanding officer home; and so, to coincide with the coming of The Son, the party began upon high.

Michael ruled the roost. Gabriel raised and played with the younger angels. Uriel road the sun rays between worlds. And Raphael did… actually no one really knows what Raphael did. Something boring probably.

Gabriel loved looking after the younger angels. Sparring with them. Teaching them to fly. He even enjoyed their daily hymns come evening time but over time he became exhausted by the routine of it all.

So instead, he took interest in the Son he had prophesied amongst humans, his Father’s greatest creation, and the reason they were in this mess to begin with; Jesus.

In Gabriel's opinion, Jesus was just his Father's way of showing off. He had created the most beautiful beings and after that, all he really wanted was to create one of His own perfect son who could part seas, multiply fish, and spread His word. Like most of us, He wanted to be loved, and His Son, along with His many followers, created countless believers to fill the Heavenly void in His Almighty heart.

Through His son He could explore His world, patch in new small rays of beauty and hope, and thwart the vengeful nature of the villain, Lucifer; His brightest and most twisted creation.

He had no plan, had put no real thought into it, and wanted no more than to experience the world He had created through his Son and earn the love of His precious humans.

Really when you think about it, God, with His endless power, ending wars and creating worlds, had decided that for His final decisive act he would do little more than show off. It was pointless; stupid.

But for some reason, He didn't think so. He loved humans; much to the annoyance and downright confusion of many angels. Not that they would outwardly admit that to Him.

Some time ago, Gabriel had been given the task to protect the first Humans; to oversee Adam and Eve in their early days and to protect against his brother and any plans he might have for malice against them. He oversaw the Gate of Paradise and watched as humans took their inevitable taste of sin and fell to their current state.

Following this and the War, Gabriel was discreetly disposed of his responsibilities and began to wonder what method, if any, lay at the heart of his Father's madness. In particular, why He might allow humans the choice to spoil themselves when they could rise to the strength of Gods, why He would allow Lucifer the chance to tempt them at all, and why, after having betrayed Him, He would continue to bestow His ceaseless love upon them.

Why would he favour such sinful, messy creatures over his angelic purity? An angel would never betray him the way Eve would, so why?

In all honesty, he didn't understand it. To him, it seemed downright stupid. Yet for some reason, his all-supreme being of a Father seemed to actually enjoy indoctrinating overgrown apes to worship Him and His prowess. Why not raise them to the majesty of angels and His Heaven?

Gabriel struggled but longed to gain even an inkling of His Almighty thought process.

In pursuit of this knowledge, Gabriel ventured to Earth and stayed around for a time, watching the humans grow and develop. Sometime around the third decade, he even came to care for them, despite his prior irritations towards their being.

Their ability to grow, to empathise, and to fall; their fatality was tragic, their capacity for love boundless and beautiful, and their struggles so small when compared with that of angels or fallen, yet so massive and all-consuming to them.

In them, Gabriel saw all shades of character relating to both sides of Heaven; the mighty and the fallen.

If intentional or not, his Father had created beings of both love and malice, kindness and mischievousness, beauty and trickery. Their existence offered a second chance to the characteristics held by the fallen and their bright leader, yet, with each human it became more and more obvious that within them a subtle love and morality took precedence above all else.

Gabriel remained with them for a time. He studied their being and used his power to transform his appearance so that the might continue his travels among them and explore minds unmolded by his Father’s all-seeing eye. Within them, Gabriel discovered a beauty unseen in Heaven.

Every mind was so beautifully different and rebellious in its own way. It did not take long for him to revel in their company.

How could an angel ever compare to the heart of Martin Luther King Jr.? A man so full of compassion and with a rebellious streak so perfect it could never be rivalled.

An angel would never write like William Shakespeare, paint like Michaelangelo, or innovate like Henry Ford. Not a single human would ever be matched by an angel. Their complexities alone. They were breathtaking.

With each visit, Gabriel came to love them more and more.

He almost enjoyed his time amongst them as much as his Father did; His creations were, although he would not admit this to Him, unparalleled by all of creation. Over this time with them, he saw their incredible capability for beauty and emotional depth which far exceeded anything any angel could achieve or even possibly comprehend.

Yet he came to decide it was their matching capacity for mischievousness that held his attention. Not only that, it changed him. Never before in Heaven had he seen so much joy achieved between minds. Never had he experienced jokes and pranks made to make others smile. It intrigued him; it likely intrigued his brother Lucifer too but following their conflict he would never admit it.

Contrarily, Their Father, and likewise, His favourite Son, were blissfully unaware of their darker side and sung praises of man amongst His angels.

Nevertheless, come crucifixion, the message was very much received.

When you think about it, it was the just desserts His Father deserved; if you create beings in your image, it should be in your interest not to be a sardonic asshole.

So, Gabriel chuckled, watched the sunset, and finished a glass of wine before finally heading home.

God - 0: Humanity - 1.

Chapter Text

We all know the story. Faced with the rage of the Almighty, Lucifer fell with many of his brothers to the depths of hell.

To summarise rather extremely, in the interest of avoiding the whole messy politics, the argument came down to the simple fact that Lucifer truly believed he was perfect.

Beautiful, wise, and full of power, he had been told he was perfection, and over time, he had come to believe it. So much so, he felt he would make a better ruler than Jesus ever would; that he would be able to create better creations than his Father and His so-called favourite Son ever could.

The final straw came when Father asked the angels to bow to Jesus and his human beings. Humans of all things!

Lucifer refused.

And rightly so: Lucifer had no time with humans. To him, they were nothing more than cheap knock-offs; full to the brim of extreme character flaws and weaknesses by the bucket load.

To once again summarise to the heart and soul of the matter; they weren't perfect. Not like him. And neither was His Son, Jesus, who had risen the ranks without so much as a thought for his brothers. The boy wonder had fed their Father endless praise and risen on love alone.

It made Lucifer sick.

If he had concentrated power rivalling that of his Father, he would create humans to be much more decisive, with none of the emotional weakness his Father praised as their greatest characteristic. Humans were described to him by his brothers as annoyances and time and time again he saw this come to pass. They multiply like bacteria and run back and forth, going nowhere; learning nothing.

Although he knew little of Earth’s inhabitants, he believed them to be of lesser intelligence, weaker, and all together doubted their long-term survival.

In his mind, his Father’s request was the equivalent of asking a man to bow his dog or a cat to a mouse. It was against the laws of nature and he refused the request with great prejudice.

While to not love His creations might have been accepted, to not love His greatest creation, that being His Son and heir Jesus, whom now would lord over Heaven and all its angels, was unacceptable and led to a war greater than any that had ever been.

His banishment was swift, leaving the remaining angels shocked, and in horrified disbelief. Lucifer used this to act swiftly, and in his banishment, he slaved to prove that humans were flawed by design, showing others by corrupting them, and leading them astray.

With the fall, he went rogue, renamed himself, and took on a whole new punk rock vibe. It took some time, but he made a name for himself, and once news spread to Heaven, nothing was ever the same.

Quite suddenly after the fall, angels to fear the same punishment, as well as Lucifer himself.

Many felt his remark was justified, that he should not have been punished for pointing out the obvious or questioning their Father, particularly as it was well-known he was not wrong; humans were weaker than them, so was His son Jesus, and neither had earned the respect of his winged creations.

Opinions divided. Those who fell with Lucifer were released by him to find themselves new lives as fallen angels, those in Heaven who lived in fear ran and carved out their own lives on Earth, and of those who remained were plagued by the fear of what might happen to them. This fear only grew as their Heavenly Father took a step back and Michael, despite Jesus, began gearing up to take on the throne, promising another bloody war for dominion over Heaven.

Gabriel was amongst those who ran. He got the idea quicker than most and jumped ship early on. The closing of the war left him with little hope for the new leaders of Heaven, and so, he escaped to Earth.

With how the fighting was back then it was clear to him it was his only option. He didn’t care who was on the throne. He only wanted to be free and there was no doubt in his mind that as one of the four main archangels, and with the battles raging in Heaven, he would never be left to himself if he stayed.

Once on Earth, more specifically Norway, he was lucky enough to stumble upon Loki, the Norse God, in a sticky situation with his wife and a less than pleasant snake. After freeing him, Loki was kind enough to offer an assist, and off he went with his new identity.

This lasted for some time. Wine, song, goddesses. He loved his time as a Pagan and for a while, he forgot he was ever an angel to begin with.

Well, that was, until the Winchesters.

Millennia had passed since he had lent thought to his brothers but with the arrival of Sam Winchester, all of that changed.

The first time they met, one sight of the Winchester pierced Gabriel with a familiarity he had not felt since first leaving Heaven. When he finally locked eyes with Sam, he was struck by him; in Sam’s eyes, he felt as if he was staring right back into the eyes of his fallen brother, Lucifer.

Sam was happy, charming, and as bright as his brother had been before the fall.

He didn't want to get involved. And despite catching himself staring at the boy, evaluating him for further similarities, he was adamant he had no interest in either him or his brother.

So, with that decision, he led them a merry chase and made it convincing enough to have them off his back within the week.

Problem solved right? It left all parties happy and soon the boys moved on.

Yet still, he was oddly drawn to the boys. And so, against his better judgement, he followed them.

It was equally entertaining as it was painful.

Sam wasn't like Lucifer, not really. Yes, he rallied against his father and had his spats with a loving yet controlling older brother, but Sam was different. The human had grappled with the fact that he was not perfect, and truly believed he was flawed. In an odd way, the demon blood had done him a favour in that respect. After some time believing he was "broken", Sam had become much more thoughtful and gentle than Lucifer ever could be.

He had to admit it, Gabriel saw a bit of himself in Sam too. Not much, but time and time again he caught glimpses of a playful spark that was now often more subdued by the situations they found themselves in. Death and demons had spoiled Sam of his childish devilry. Yet despite it all, the playful twinkle in his eye remained. He had no doubt Sam would have been quite the trickster, destiny allowed.

But destiny had other plans. Well, to be more specific, Michael did.

Mystery spot came and went. Nothing changed.

Well, that's not entirely true; in the aftermath, Gabriel realised he truly was obsessed, and it scared the ever-loving crap out of him. He caught himself on occasion watching the boy for his odd warm looks, the compassion he showed to strangers on hunts, enjoying his laughter, especially that with his brother, and through all of it, wishing he knew the boy better before his inevitable end.

He was sure, if they had both been born the same species, they would have been good friends.

In truth, he couldn’t leave Sam alone, and as the apocalypse began to dawn, he didn’t want him to be alone.

He didn't want to put a label on his feelings, whatever they were, and especially when Sam had no idea he was there at all. The hunter was clearly more focused on Ruby, Lilith, and the impending apocalypse (Gabriel couldn't really blame him on that one).

Though it seemed, despite it all his efforts, he couldn't escape the boys forever.

So, when Sam and Dean came hurtling into the town sniffing after him, Gabriel decided to make a stand.

Little did he know his obsession for Sam would change the course of destiny for them all.

Chapter Text

He's been watching them the moment they hit town. Sam and Dean; Lucifer's Vessel and Michael's Sword.

Their motel was boring. Their FBI questioning relatively mediocre.

He was all on track to trap them up until two words: "You sure?"

Sat invisible in corner of the room, Gabriel had been tremendously bored up until that. Sam's comment had surprised him so much, in fact, that he almost scoffed back and revealed himself to the hunters.

And so, intrigued, he listened in for the next bombshell: "Are you sure you want to kill him?"

Gabriel stared at the man in open-mouthed disbelief; could the brothers have seen him he would have appeared positively comical. Sam didn't want to kill him? After killing his brother hundreds of times right in front of him? Toying with him? He didn't want revenge? Gabriel just couldn’t piece it together.

"Talk to him?"

Gabriel searched his body language for any sign of trickery. Is he hearing this right? Sam couldn’t know he was listening so what the hell was he thinking? 

"Ally with the Trickster?"

He is in as much disbelief as Dean but for some reason completely unknown to him Sam continued on with his desire for peace.

"Well, I'll be damned," the angel thought to himself. He curled his lips up and into a triumph smile. "Sammy-boy wants a truce." Was it even possible? He wasn't sure.

"It's worth a shot. That's all. If it doesn't work, we'll kill him."

"Now that sounds more like you," Gabriel chuckled to himself but still the underlying shock remained.

He made a mental note to take his words into consideration, despite his plans for the boys, and silently moved on to set his trap.

It was like taking candy from a baby. One second, warehouse; the next, Doctor Sexy MD.

***

The looks on their faces were absolutely priceless. The instant they walked in; Sam getting the slap; Dean's fangirling. Priceless.

It was top notch entertainment and Gabriel was laughing his ass off (internally, of course, he didn't want to be noticed; he wasn’t invisible anymore, after all, he had his part to play just as they did).

He enjoyed playing Doctor Sexy, he was good at it, and it was all fun up until: "We just need to talk to you. We need your help."

Typically, Gabriel would enjoy being an asshole against this sort of vulnerable admission, but the snark he had ready in mind just wasn't presenting the same satisfaction it usually would. He had been there while Sam and Dean had struggled with their attempts to fight off their impending doom and after all this time, he had come to care for the boys.

So, he tried a different tact.

A deflated sigh answered the younger Winchester. "The Apocalypse huh?"

Sam's eyes softened as they did on other hunts. "Please, just five minutes, hear us out." The gentle tone of the hunter seriously chipped at his defence; not that Gabriel let this show.

It took a moment, but the archangel remembered his act and feigned genuine consideration for a moment. Instead, he used this time to weigh up the possibility of keeping the boys here in TV land indefinitely.

He quickly snapped out of his thoughts when he realised each and every scenario lead to his, and their, inevitable deaths.

"Sure," he voiced finally, irritable sarcasm dripping off him, "can't keep you here forever anyway: wouldn't end well."

It took Gabriel a moment to realise he had said too much. He cut back into the conversation without delay before the Winchesters' confused looks could amount to any form of response: "Ok. Tell you what. Survive the next twenty-four hours; we'll talk."

"Survive what?"

He indulged himself with a moment of flamboyance, "The game!"

"What game?"

"You're in it."

"How do we play?"

"You're playing it."

"What are the rules?"

Wink and eyebrows. Classic exit.

Gabriel set his timer for twenty-four hours and watched for a while. He needed time to think; away from Sam’s puppy dog eyes.

Twenty-four hours passed quickly and the boys did well; for their first time.

He pushed them through a few ads rather than any particular meatier content; he simply didn't have time for the fun stuff. He made a promise after all.

In another world he would have ignored Sam’s request, he would have thrown the boys into Scrubs or Law and Order type sets and watch them squirm, but he had too much affection for the younger human to quash his hopes; especially after hearing Sam might actually accept him on the boys' side.

Gabriel wasn’t truly looking to join them, but he was still happy to have the option and after Sam’s words earlier, he wanted to hear them out.

In another time, or maybe another world, there would be no question; he would fight alongside them without hesitation. In another world, Michael would not have started the second war. And in another, he could fight alongside his brother for both wars or suffer no wars at all. He felt himself getting lost in thoughts of mourning and shook himself to attention; he wasn’t that man anymore.

Despite a shorter time span than he would have liked, the boys got the message. Play along. Or more specifically "play their roles".

They didn't seem to clock the outside relevance, but it didn't matter, because as soon as the brothers had finished one of many over-the-top Japanese adverts, his timer went off.

***

Sam was completely out of it by the fifth advert. Doctor Sexy MD couldn't have been more than an hour ago, but his mind felt as if it had been stuffed in a dishwasher, put on a half an hour spin cycle, and then dropped repeatedly into a bucket of ice cold water.

He had been animated, covered in paint, and he had run from monsters made up entirely of strange candies.

And he had decided, after some thought, that he hated Japanese commercials. They were just too much.

Sam was zombified.

He had hunched over in the brace position as he heard, what he could only guess were terms and conditions for the strawberry lace candy he was currently covered in, and leaned into Dean, who was crouched equally lifeless at his side.

Fatefully, at that moment, his prayers were answered and time stopped altogether.

Everything slowed; their extremely excitable Japanese co-stars dragged their words as if being placed into slow motion until moments later they came to a complete and sudden halt.

Then, within the next second, just as he started looking up, the ground below him fell through, and he was dropped, alongside his brother, little less than a metre onto a soft, welcoming fabric.

He didn’t have time to react. His hands had darted out for any type of purchase, and once landed, he forced his head back down into the brace position where he remained frozen in preparation for whatever strange candy the Trickster might literally douse upon them next.

"Hey..."

That voice. He didn't even bother to lift his head, but at his side, he felt Dean whip his eyes up and stare daggers at its source. He instead sighed a strange form of release. No more ads. No more candy.

"Dean.” The voice acknowledged with some humour before dropping it entirely for a softer tone, “Sam?" There was a pause. "Come on, kiddo I know I've been rough on you."

The voice was tentative, sincere, apologetic, and somehow, soothing. Sam groaned.

He heard the dragging of a coffee cup across the table toward him and moved his hands from his head to wrap them around it in a form of sluggish acceptance.

"What are you doing here?" Dean spat.

Sam pushed against Dean in silent disapproval before shaking himself to full attention. He caught the eyes of the Trickster and saw his smirk grow ten sizes the instant their eyes met.

Sam coughed purposefully, giving himself a reason to break the uncomfortable stare, and instead using the moment of silence to work out where they were. Unsurprisingly, they were in a coffee shop. The coffee had sort of given that away. It was a small trendy place which entirely empty and without servers. Outside a storm was brewing; heavy rain flew ferociously against the window beside them, filling in all awkward silences with the harsh sounds of water pelting against the glass.

"I made a promise, didn't I? 24 hours. You did well. Both of you."

Sam nodded slowly whilst taking in the meaning of his words. He hadn’t really believed the Trickster would stick to their deal, he was a Trickster after all, but it was a step in the right direction to see the creature keep his word. "So," Sam croaked for a moment before clearing his throat and trying again, "So, you'll give us a chance?"

The smallest of the three shrugged non-committedly, "Sure. Why not."

Sam looked to Dean and recognised his scepticism. "Ok," Sam barely knew where to start but knew he needed to be so incredibly convincing if they stood a chance of getting the creature to listen. They needed him, his power, but he didn’t need them and Sam was painfully aware of it.

He took in a deep breath and began, "there aren't many nice ways of saying this. Back at Mystery Spot, we would never consider this but... well, the Apocalypse."

It wasn't the best start and Sam winced at his words but unexpectedly the Trickster kept his eyes on him and gave him a small nod of encouragement to continue. Sam released a breath of anxiety and focused on relaxing into his speech. The Trickster was hearing him out, that alone was more than they could have hoped for going into this.

He took another breath to steel himself, and continued, "Long story. Michael and Lucifer; they are pushing us to be their 'vessels' so they can fight, kill each other, and destroy the world along with it. We need your help to stop them."

"Right..." The Trickster drew the word out at its syllable and his expression scrunched into expectant confusion.

“I suppose it isn’t really that long of a story huh,” Sam added nervously and quickly moved to sip his coffee. Damn, he had hoped he would be more convincing than that.

The Trickster looked away from the boys and let out a deep sigh. Sam noticed his brother lift an eyebrow at the clear emotion of it but they kept their thoughts to themselves and both watched the creature carefully.

The rain dragged out their silence.

Once again, and after some time, the Trickster exhaled deeply, shaking his head, and turned back to the boys. "Honestly, there's a tonne of issues on my side.” He started off slow and sincere and Sam’s heart sank expecting he would refuse them. “I don't know what I can do for you boys. I mean... we're talking archangels here!" He looked down to his drink and back up again, looking at each of them in turn, "Look, I'm sorry, but my sort of power would barely make a scratch."

Dean seemed to visibly soften at his sincere apologetic tone and so Sam pressed again. "We won't ask you to fight them. You're a Trickster - you've been around for much longer than either of us: your knowledge alone-"

"It comes down to the fact that we can't fight these guys," Dean jumped in. "We need some sort of tactic; some magic or ancient voodoo; I don't know. We just need a way to block these a-holes from getting to us."

They both stared at the Trickster now, looking for any sign that their words were getting through to him.

He had gone incredibly silent and took to staring blankly at his drink. “Please,” Sam thought, “you can trust us. Please. God knows we need the help.”

Sam took a shaky intake of breath and turned away, watching the rain dart under street lamps.

The sun was setting, it was raining, and Sam forced himself not to see these things as bad omens or some form of real-life pathetic fallacy. He crossed his fingers under his table and addressed a silent prayer to no-one in particular.

***

Gabriel took in their words and drifted off in deep thought.

He tried to take on the situation from their point of view. He thought of himself as a weak human who was chased, hounded, and carolled into giving himself over to a higher power, who would destroy his closest kin, his reality as he knew it, along with his entire world and all its inhabitants.

He could see why the boys were trying so hard to avoid their fates.

So what options did they have?

They could keep saying no, but Luci would see to that on Sam's side; after all, he had a knack for torture and history of unravelling humans.

Gabriel could make claim to one of the boys, but as much as Sam was definitely his type, they really weren't at that level yet. It had to be mutual and there was no way he could see Sam wanting that. Especially not as a trickster and he couldn’t risk being found by his brothers.

He could at least help with holding off a load of the torture for now: though if Lucifer were to see Sam surviving so well and combating his attempts to break him without so much as a sweat it would be difficult to remain in hiding.

They could say yes. It would be disastrous. They could attempt to trap Lucifer or Michael in the cage: but that would leave a human soul trapped between one or more archangels and unbreakable prison bars. In short; not good.

The claim seemed like the best option, but he couldn't agree to it, at least not straight away. Sure, he felt different around Sam, and the human clearly had the ability to convince him into changing his mind, but a claim was a one time deal for all parties involved. More than that, it was entirely unexplored territory, something that would need heavenly protection to flourish. Not only would Heaven be against it, but almost all angels who perished before him did so unbound.

Protecting the boys from a few of his brothers' harsher tactics seemed like the best play for now.

Gabriel took in a deep breath and the boys noticed instantly. Sam, who seemed to have looked away, whipped his eyes back to take him in. Similarly, his brother, who had been wolfing down his drink, stopped himself in his tracks and placed the drink back down with less than a tenth of the liquid still remaining.

Gabriel felt a spike of panic run through him when their human eyes locked onto him with overwhelming intensity, demanding his decision. He took another breath, forcing himself to settle, and leaned back into the conversation.

***

Sam darted his eyes back to the Trickster the instant he heard a sound coming from his direction. He noticed in his peripheral that Dean had done the same.

He kept his stare locked onto the creature in hope and offered him a warm and welcoming smile when he noticed the shakiness of his second breath. “Please,” Sam prayed, “It’s so selfish but we need someone, please.”

And then, the Trickster spoke once again: "In terms of power, there's nothing I can do against those big boys.” There was a pause and Dean’s shoulders visibly dropped. “But… I may be able to help in some ways."

Sam's eyes widened in shock and he knew he must look like a child who had just been offered candy but he couldn't bring himself to care. “The Trickster is actually listening! He is listening to us!” he wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

Dean, comparatively, had lifted an eyebrow in scepticism, and allowed only a slight slither of hope to make its way into his tone, "Go on."

The Trickster shuffled and brought out his hands in wavy movements as he spoke; a sign Sam took as him becoming more comfortable in their conversation. "These winged ass monkeys, they have shitty tactics; they play with their food. If they're not messing around in your dreams, when your mind is at its most vulnerable, they will be soon. There are a few options you boys have but none seem better than holding out.” He paused for a moment and appeared to consider the situation from their perspective, “I can understand why you want me on your side."

The last comment gained a smile from Dean and the Trickster mirrored it before checking himself.

Suddenly, he leaned backwards, as if something had stopped his thoughts in their tracks, and squinted his eyes in the scrutiny of something playing on his mind.

"So," he winced at the harsh break of their silence, "you'll help?" Sam asked tentatively.

The Trickster snapped his eyes back to Sam immediately and the human squirmed under the intensity of his gaze. The creature looked him up and down, before squinting his eyes in even greater scrutiny.

Their surroundings disappeared and they were returned back to the warehouse they had first entered where an assortment of boxes replaced the café’s chairs. Dean stared at the spot where his coffee once was in silent mourning.

Alternatively, Sam’s gaze whipped around to take in his surroundings before snapping back onto the Trickster, who had stood and was taking hesitant steps back.

"Give me time... I need to consider this." Sam could see his mind racing and stopped himself from reaching out to grab the Trickster before he disappeared.

They needed to give him space. They needed him to choose his by himself if he would ever freely support them.

“Well shit.”

Chapter Text

Fucking Sam. With his hopeful eyes and perfect hair. Damn him.

His plans were up in smoke and all because a human batted his eyelids at him. For fuck’s sake.

"All that effort - and for what?" Dean was angry. Well fuck him he could be angry all he wanted to be; what was he expecting? For Gabriel to change his mind after two lousy humans whine at him for twenty-five hours solid! No!

That’s unreasonable. That’s completely out of the question.

He was centuries old. He had never fought his brothers. Never. And now he was following two humans around to help make up his mind on whether he wanted to sort out the biggest squabble in history or survive another couple decades!

Gosh, when had he become so pathetic?

His deep, intrinsic instincts craved for nothing more than to survive this fight. If that meant running away, hiding in Heaven, or even skipping to another universe, they didn't care.

But something in Gabriel refused to let him give in and he despised whatever weakness had him so chained to the chivalrous idea of saving a good human.

What had he ever done to deserve this?

Lucifer was right. Humans suffered emotions like plagues. They are deadly weaknesses and Sam had infected him with one, a feeling so parasitic in nature it invaded his core and demanded his attention, weakening his defence against the younger Winchester.

It was firey and hot, and Gabriel begged himself not to name it. He didn't want to get attached. He would not get attached.

"We got through to him Dean. Whatever he had planned back there, that 'playing our roles' stuff - it doesn't matter now." Sam was throwing his arms about and barely containing his smile. "He doesn't know whose side he is on because he listened, Dean! He heard us."

"And you believe him, do you?" the older brother was quick to snap back.

"Don't you?"

Dean scoffed, "He's a trickster Sammy. How do we know he is telling us the truth; how do we know this isn't his biggest trick yet?"

Both Gabriel and Sam scrunched up their faces in reply to this but once again the younger hunter impressed him by replying slowly and beseechingly. "Dean he had a whole plan in mind and he scrapped it right in front of us. You saw it! One TV show and a few ads; he must have had more planned than that!"

Something in him loved hearing Sam defend him so perfectly.

Gabriel reeled back his own pleasure. Something stirred deep inside of him. He really shouldn’t be listening to this.

"Yeah maybe." There was a long pause and the atmosphere between the calmed considerably. "You hear him mention Angels messing with our dreams?"

"Yeah."

"That's some next level Jedi shit,” Dean pointed out.

“Think he meant it?"

"I think he knows more than he is letting on; how he knows so much about angels; their powers."

"You think he's danced with them before?"

He couldn't listen to this.

"Maybe... You heard him. 'Barely a scratch'.”

“Yeah! And he was so sure too."

Dean nodded and was happy that his brother had absorbed some of his healthy cynicism. "We can ask him next time we see him."

The boys froze; Sam's lips snapped into a smirk, celebrating a silent victory at Dean's admission, and Dean awkwardly coughing away his last comment, which had sounded way too warm toward the trickster for his liking.

"Hmmm..." another pause, "where is Cas at anyways?"

He watched the boys make their way back to the motel and watched for a while longer. He smiled affectionately toward the boys throughout the night. He was right about them; they were good people. Both have left such an impact in the lives of those they love and even that of strangers. They were selfless, kind, and so very human.

It had him wondering: Should he join them? Should he fight against Michael?

NO! For fuck's sake, what was he thinking? He was turning into a girl. A teenage girl. Is this it? Sam asked him to prom and he was seriously gushing like a teenage girl!

Dad surely wouldn’t approve. Not that he would approve the apocalypse either.

Fuck, what were his brothers thinking?!

He watched the sun set over their shitty choice of motel. The contrast was oddly beautiful.

He would be silly to think that they all might survive this. Michael was too far along to be reasoned with unless Dean, and all subsequent vessels, were entirely taken off the table. Or if Lucifer was.

So, that was their game? Wait them out and spend this time finding tactics to remove Lucifer from the equation. Gabriel had to admit: it was the option that offered the highest probability of success, but it ran many risks, not to mention his brother's sheer power and vengeful nature. Getting it wrong would be a recipe for disaster and would almost certainly guarantee a slow, painful death.

If only he had stepped in earlier. If only he had stopped Lucifer at the Gates or held Jesus back when expelling him from Heaven. If only he had the courage to beg his Father for mercy upon Lucifer and his fallen brothers.

If only he had stopped Sam or told him earlier. It would have been so much easier to defy his brothers if Lilith hadn't kamikazed and set this whole shebang in motion. He could have killed the bitch and ended their troubles before they had even begun.

Should he join them? He could wait it out but that left the two weak and he couldn't help but think what might happen to them if he did. Sam and Dean were of keen interest to him now. They were the humans he had spent most of his time with here on Earth and he found he cared for what would become of them.

He waited until the boys fell asleep and a mad thought crept into his mind: he needed to talk to Sam.

***

Sam had no idea what to do after their meeting with the Trickster. He threw himself into more research. The colt; the composition of its bullets; how many bullets were out there. The Trickster; the folklore and stories surrounding his kind; the possible names he could have. Angels; Lucifer; Michael.

Somewhere in his research, he fell asleep. Even with his eyes closed, he continued to weave theories and for some reason, time and time again, he would become fixated on the Trickster and the mystery of his true name.

Was it Hermes? The Greeks had thought of him as the origin of lying, a gift he had passed on to others, and spread throughout Greek demigods and royalty. Maybe not. Their Trickster might be very powerful but lying had never been his thing, as today had shown.

Was it Loki? The Norse God and shapeshifter who treated other Norse gods with malice; conducting evil plots to ensure their death, including most notably that of Baldr, son of Odin.

Sam thought Loki more likely, mainly due to the death element, though he wasn’t sure how he felt about the Trickster having many children, particularly an eight-legged horse. To further prove his theory, he envisioned the Trickster as Loki and smiled to himself. Yes. He could see the Trickster he knew setting off an apocalypse, Ragnarok, if not just for the fun of it.

Other possibilities included Mercury, another Greek god of trickery and thieves; Veles, the Slavic god of the Underworld and relative to Loki; Set, Egyptian deity of disorder and violence; or even a Kupua, a group of tricksters mentioned in Hawaiian mythology.

The possibilities were numerous and Sam found himself running over their characteristics one by one.

Well, he was, up until he noticed a figure come into view from out of the shadowy depths of his mind.

“Hello?” The figure froze and Sam recognised him by the ghost of his outline. “It’s you.”

Sam gawked at the Trickster and speculated on whether his mind was playing tricks on him or if this might be real. "Are you really here?"

"Yeah... Yeah, I suppose I am." His voice was deep yet uncertain and hung in threadbare in the air between them.

"You don't seem so sure."

The Trickster sighed, and his shoulders deflated into a haunted and dejected look. "I'm not."

Sam had never seen him like this; he seemed so human and so achingly powerless. The hunter smiled in gentle encouragement and continued cautiously, "I meant to ask you about that. I mean: you seemed pretty pro-angel up until our chat back there."

The Trickster huffed at that and let a small smile slip. "You could say that."

"So why are you here? In my dreams."

"For one; to prove to you how easy it is. Lucifer will do the same; he will eat you up, Sammy." He paused and became quieter, fidging with his hands in keeping his eyes low in a show of edgy anxiety. "But - well - I guess I want to prove something to myself too."

"That being?"

"That being," he hissed and turned away slightly, frustrated at himself, "that I care. That I don't want him to."

"Oh."

"Yeah."

There was a thick silence.

Sam’s mind was working at 100 miles an hour; so the Trickster cared about him. The instant it hit his mind the Trickster winced, and Sam realised that he must hear his thoughts. The creature was in his head after all.

Which oddly, thinking about it, didn't phase him one bit.

The Trickster shook his head and turned further away. He had become somewhat calmer since that admission. "I didn't know until you wanted to side with me."

"What do you mean?"

"You're like him," he caught himself and turned back to Sam, desperately trying to explain. "I- I mean, you're like someone I used to know. But you're still so... You. I don't know - Am I making sense?"

"Sure."

He huffed. "I'm surprised you're not upset!" The Trickster threw up his arms.

"At what?"

"Me; being here... 'In your dreams’," The Trickster mocks Sam's tone.

"Oh yeah... No, it’s- It's quite nice actually. Having you here... Company."

"Oh."

"Yeah…” Sam blushed slightly but quickly cleared his thought and got back to business, if not to quickly cut that topic short. ”So, you want to help us?"

"I think so... But Sam, I can't fight those angels."

"We won't make you. Scouts honour."

The Trickster shook his head affectionately with a smile. “Were you even a scout?”

“For a few days!” The Trickster started laughing at that and Sam smiled. Then it hit him, “How are you here?”

“How?”

“Yeah… How?”

The Trickster lifted an eyebrow with his trademark smirk, “You think I can create time loops and entire mini-worlds, but I can’t get into one human’s mind for a simple conversation? Sam, you wound me.”

Sam smiled and put up his hands in mock surrender. “Okay okay, fair enough.”

The silence returned but it was more comfortable now. They smiled at each other.

“So…” The trickster began, “Say I want to help you. Say, I get you charms to block angels and asshats like me getting into your dreams. Offer you escape routes. Maybe some on-hunt tips. How do we go about this?”

Sam’s eyes widen. “You want to help us?”

“Sure kiddo, keep up.”

The sheer hope and excitement blaring through Sam’s mind throw the Trickster’s smile into a full-on gleam. “We meet with Dean and Cas. Go through your plans. Get those charms and start from there.”

“Ah, Castiel.” His smile fades and concern returns.

“Is there something wrong?” Sam asked hesitantly.

“No, nothing.” The other supplies. “I- Well… I would rather be 'round without angelic interference if you don’t mind. I’ve had bad experiences… I won’t ask you to get rid of him; I just won’t be there when he is.”

That sent alarm bells ringing at the back of his mind but he purposefully ignored them in case the Trickster might hear them too. He would get to them later. “Oh. Sure, ok. That’s fine.”

“Well then,” the Trickster offers Sam a delighted smirk, “are we agreed?”

Chapter Text

“YOU WHAT?”

A week had passed and Sam had put off telling Dean about the Trickster appearing in his dreams at all. Sam was convinced that a single mention of their conversation would send Dean into full mother-hen mode, and low and behold, the veins in his forehead had pulsed and his eyes had filled with flaming fury.

“I agreed to meet him; to make a deal.” Sam hissed out, irritated he was being forced to stay the words for the third time.

“Oh great. Great! That’s just great!”

Dean paced back and forth between their twin beds in today’s motel. Sam was otherwise occupied stationed on his bed with his laptop and trying his hardest not to laugh as Dean was forced to economise on his typical anxious stride and instead achieve an absurd, vicious shuffling. It was so out of place it would have commanded his whole attention if not for the Trickster.

“So not only do you want to be Facebook friends with him – which okay, I admit, he charmed us back there.” Dean took in a deep breath and turned to repeat his laborious shuffle, “but you want to make deals with him? DEALS Sammy! Like a demon.”

“Uh huh.”

“I mean, what are the rules for this? We haven't made deals with demons for years Sammy, and for good reason!”

“Yup,” Sam replied without thinking and instead focused his search on the identities of all known once again.

The power of a True Name on demons was astronomical, maybe it was the same for Tricksters.

Take the Lamashtu demon for example; a female demon that could eat men whole or drink their blood dry within seconds. They could bring disease, sickness, and all manner of death. Yet with its True Name, you become its master. It would listen to your every whim. Heck, you could kill it in an instant with nothing more than a paper clip and your command.

Not that he wanted to kill the Trickster. Far from it.

What he wanted was some form of insurance. His last meeting with the Trickster not only worried him, as he was able to enter his dreams, but it had him questioning his safety around him. The Trickster had placed in the terms of their agreement that Castiel knew nothing of him. Something wasn’t adding up there. Of course, a Trickster would mistrust angels and demons alike, but to outright refuse to be around in Cas' presence? He didn’t seem like the type to fear angels, so why?

“Sam?”

Did he know Castiel? Had they met before? And how did he recognise him and recite his full name from only ‘Cas’?

“Sammy?!”

He must know him! Or at least know of him. But should he tell Dean? No, maybe not. Not after his reaction to his deal with the Trickster...

“Hello? Earth to Sam?”

Was it a good idea; making a deal with something that isn’t human? It felt weird even placing him in the non-human category.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake! SAM!”

Dean's yell startled Sam, yanking him suddenly back into conversation. “Yes… yes, sorry.” He raised his head up from his laptop screen and pretended as if he had been transfixed by a paragraph from some random website. “Research,” he voiced the excuse.

“Right… Well, this deal is shit.”

“No, it isn’t Dean. We agreed that he would help us. How is that a bad deal?”

“It’s too open-ended for one!” Dean threw his arms out wide in a show of frustration but in truth, he was far from annoyed; he was obviously just enjoying the fact his brother was actually answering him again.

“Come on, Dean. He’s not a demon. We don’t need to write down a whole contract!" Sam snapped his laptop shut and honed in on Dean. "And anyway, isn’t that the same deal we have with Cas?”

“Yeah but that’s Cas.” Dean shot back quickly.

The older brother paused, searching his mind for a moment, before throwing his arms up in an overflow of frustration, “Where is he anyway!” Dean hauled his phone out from his pocket and punched at the keys, storming toward the door on his way out without a regard for his brother.

Sam smirked, he knew he had won.

Turning away busily, Sam grabbed back at his laptop and thought over the situation. They had the Trickster agreeing to help them. It was a start, but they needed more; they needed to know what he knew. By the sound of it, he had brawled with angels before or at the very least held a grudge against them. He might know their weaknesses.

Equally, it would be a clever way to bond with him. To find out about his past; his name.

Sam was tempted to summon the Trickster and learn his name that way. From his research, he was almost certain it was one of two options: Hermes and Loki.

He smirked and rose from his bed with purpose; seems he would just have to try both.

***

Gabriel watched with amusement as Sam gathered together the necessary tools for a summoning.

Not too long before he had been playing his role as a Trickster in New Orleans: focussing his justice in on a child murderer and haunting him with numerous ghosty figures until he finally confessed his guilt on the stand.

The confession had him smug and with a click of his fingers, he was able to return to his spying on the boys.

Except only Dean remained in their motel.

Sprawled out on the bed, he was violently messaging on his phone with one hand and twiddling a wooden stake with the other.

Getting a sinking feeling that stake might be for him, Gabriel was ready to dart back to the trial when he heard Sam calling to him, or more specifically, to Loki.

“Oh hello, Sammy,” Gabriel thought to himself with a sickly smug tone, “are you trying to trap me? How sweet.”

A moment later, he followed the call.

***

White spray cans for sigils. Candles to outline the circle. A Latin incantation.

He had been forced to merge various summoning rituals together, as not only could he find no evidence of the correct procedures for Trickster summonings online, but it seemed like no one in their right mind felt the need to summon them at all.

Sam didn’t blame them, thinking over his early experiences with the Trickster, but when faced with the Apocalypse he couldn’t afford to be picky.

He anxiously hauled the ingredients for his spell into his rucksack and carefully made his way from the motel to an empty warehouse he had spotted sitting there twenty minutes out of town on their way in.

Once there, he drew the sigil wide, lit the candles, and began the ritual.

Within moments, he appeared.

Sam was overjoyed and smug. He has guessed right!

“Hello, Trickster… Or should I say Loki.”

“Samuel Winchester, I should have guessed." Loki had the arrogance to look smug. "Well, you caught me. Seems I don't have to introduce myself after all.” There was no trace of fear or anxiety in the man whatsoever. For a secret Sam had had to drag out of him, or more literally to trap him for, the creature didn't seem bothered at all by the reveal. “It is good to see you, Sam.”

“Likewise.”

“Though I must ask about your methods… was the summoning really necessary?” A cheeky smirk took shape and Sam soon mirrored it.

“How else was I to get you here?”

“You could have called.”

“I don't have your number.”

“You could have called me in your dreams.”

“You can hear my dreams?” The hunter didn't hide the anxiety in his tone.

“No! But I- I’d at least expected you to try it!” Loki threw out a full cheeky smile and Sam laughed, mostly in relief. “I’ll give you my number or something, we can't be doing summonings every time you want my attention.”

Sam smiled as a way of response and watched as Loki joined him in a light-hearted glee.

“So what's up, Shaggy?” Loki probed playfully. “Didn't trap me here just to get my number did you?"

“N- No, I mean- I thought we should talk.”

“Ok, sure. Talk,” Loki returned. “Talk about what?”

“I want to know how much you know about the Apocalypse; angels; anything else that might help us.”

“Hmm." That halted the Trickster for a moment. He visibly put up his guard and dropped all joviality. The creature had decided to pick his next words carefully. "And I’m guessing by us you mean you and your brother.”

“Yeah.”

“And I’m also taking a bit of a stab in the dark here in saying that you won't let me out until I’ve told you.”

Sam winced slightly and tried to sound sincere in his reply. “Can’t have you disappearing again.”

“No, I suppose not. It's okay Sam. I understand,” he reassured the hunter. “Ask away.”

“Ok,” Sam visibility relaxed at Loki’s understanding and Sam found himself thinking that maybe he could trust the man after all. “Let's start with the Apocalypse. How much do you know?”

“What much is there to know - Michael and Luci will dance the Lambada with you two boys as their meat suits.” He paused for a moment and Sam watched as a thought visibly brightened his whole demeanour and a cheeky smile appeared on his lips. Suddenly, he took on a gossipy tone, “That being said, rumour has it they didn't get the go-ahead from the Big G before starting this all up.”

“Wait. They didn't?” Sam interjected in keen interest. He ran the information over in his mind and wondered how on Earth a Loki would have that information. “How do you know that?”

“I’m a Trickster, Sam. Our knowledge is our work; ‘knowledge is power’ and all that nonsense.” He paused and took great care with his following words. “Sometimes I trade with angels, sometimes the Pagans hear things and we share between ourselves in exchange for the odd favour, but rest assured, I share nothing that has not been verified; if it is not true, it can not be of value when traded after all.”

“Okay…” It seemed like a good enough answer so he accepted it. Sam also noticed the detail the Trickster had gone into there; he hadn’t needed to offer that much to Sam but for some reason he did. Sam felt himself trusting his words more and more as time went on so he purposefully tried an open question next to see what else he might share. “What else do you know?”

“I know how the seals were broken and how you boys were set up to do it.” Loki paused for a moment; a dark thought flew through his mind and eclipsed the light in his eyes, “For the record, if I knew you more back then, then maybe - well-”

“Maybe what?” Sam jumped in without malice, in an attempt to get a cohesive answer from the creature.

“I don't know, I might have given you the heads up or something?”

Loki's tone was slightly snappy but Sam ignored it and smiled warmly at the man. Of all things, and especially considering their history, he had not expected that.

“Don't worry about it” Sam assured him, “It's done.”

“I know. It's just- These angels they shouldn't be able to mess around like this.” Loki steals his gaze from the hunter and continues, letting his internal thoughts escape unfiltered, “Sure you humans are messed up; I would know more than most; I punish the worst of you after all. But some of you are- well you're amazing; brilliant, bright, and-” he lingers and snaps himself out of his trance. He deliberately locks eyes with Sam, “And if I had told you… it would have been so much easier, you know?”

“Yeah, trust me, I get it.” Sam took in a long, deep breath and turns away from the Trickster for a moment. Again, Sam had not expected that response. With every passing comment, he became more and more certain that his trust had not been misplaced in Loki. The hunter continued, “So what about Lucifer?”

“The fallen Archangel.” The Trickster looked relieved for the change of topic, “Not much. Only that he’s bad news and a hard man to kill."

"You think the Colt would do it?"

"You know about the Colt huh? Nasty weapon that one. Not many know of its existence y’know? You should keep that on the down low.”

Loki rolled his eyes when he saw Sam growing inpatient and took a moment to mull over his question. “I’m not too sure. It is said that it can kill any and all creatures, though that’s not strictly true. I got a tip a few years back that said there are a small bunch of creatures who stand immune to its power."

"Do you know if that includes him?"

The Trickster shakes his head regretfully, "I'm sorry, Sam. I wouldn't know.”

Sam decided to take this moment to tease him, “I thought Tricksters were all about knowledge; power.”

"Ah!" Gabriel laughed heartily and offered Sam a warm smile. “But that one is a bit above my pay grade, unfortunately. Nice to know you think highly of me though Goldilocks.”

“Come on, Goldilocks?! At least pick one nickname and stick with it!”

“Let me out and I just might.” Loki returned Sam’s cheek and they smiled playfully with one another.

“Now why would I do that?”

Loki had lost none of his confidence with Sam’s jab and moved divisively to the circle’s edge. The flames furthered the intensity of his amber eyes. “Because we have a deal. Because you trust me.”

“How can I trust a Trickster? Loki the silver tongue? The father of… Wait do you have children?”

“No, of course not Sam. Who could possibly sire a six-legged horse, a world-sized snake, and an undead woman?”

“Good point.”

“Child support alone would be a nightmare,” he returned playfully.

Seeing his comment have little effect on the hunter, Loki decided to change tac. “You trust me don’t deny it,” he announced with a smug pride. “After everything, I have done to you: I have never trapped you, or betrayed you. I always listened. When I killed Dean over and over you asked me to stop and I did. Mystery Spot was to try help you; I have always tried to help you.”

“Killing Dean over and over again-” Sam moved closer to a few feet to the edge of the circle, driven in a spur of anger at the creature’s comment.

“Wasn't the best method I know, but you can't deny the logic.”

“The logic or the enjoyment?”

“Oh Winchester, stop it, you know why I did it. You know why I stopped too. Because of you. You’re just- You’re an interesting human and evidently hard to ignore.” Loki waved toward the circle.

“I am flattered but-”

“Nuh-uh-uh,” Loki cut him off, “your turn to listen. I want to make it clear I do this for you. Not your brother and certainly not anyone I used to know. Because you're better than this and you deserve more.”

The trickster stepped forward through the circle without breaking a sweat and stepped to within a metre of Sam, allowing him to speak in a much softer tone. “I will save you. But you need to trust me.”

“Y-” Sam stood, shellshocked.

“Me.”

“You broke the circle-”

“Well, yea-”

“How?”

Sam’s mind was racing and his skin was becoming pale in a stab of panic.

“It was a pathetic circle Sam and you're missing the point. You trust me to some degree but something is holding you back, probably your brother.”

“So you were just pretending this whole time?!” Sam’s mind was whirling and his breaths were becoming shorter. He shuffled backwards.

“Of course I was Sam, it made you feel comfortable. But honestly? You got it all wrong. The ingredients; the markings.” Loki dialled the smugness on his face up to eleven. “Probably just too desperate to see me. Rushed it. Happens to the best of us.”

Loki returned to his playful tone but it was all too much for Sam who is struggling to calm himself down.

“Sam? Woah kiddo relax.” Loki approaches the human slowly with his hands outstretched until he was able to take a hold of his arms in an attempt to steady him. “I’m sorry. You're in no danger.”

“I know.” Sam breathed out. Usually, he would have shrugged someone off when this much panic was thundering through his system but it didn't seem at all necessary this time. The trickster was right; despite the panic, he felt safe in his presence, like something warm and inviting offset the panic in his body from the instant he touched him. A warm, honey-like electricity spilt from the touch.

“And you know what this is right?” Loki purposely responded in slow and calming tones.

“Yeah.”

“It's okay. A little panic is healthy; good for the soul.”

“Yeah…” Sam closed his eyes and focused on slowing down his breathing. The energy from Loki was working wonders and he had no idea if that was brilliant or offering him more reason to panic.

“I guess you don't get many angels or demons do that to you huh?” Loki took his hands away and his small smirk grew wildly at how Sam’s body leaned after him as he moved away. The trickster remained within an arm's length. “I’m sorry Sam.”

“It's okay.”

“No. I should have told you your circle was bogus rather than just stepping out. It freaked you out and I'm sorry.” Loki paused to make sure he was appearing genuine. “If it wasn't me you would have had a shitty situation on your hands. I get why you freaked. Can't imagine the hell you'd have on your hands if a demon did it to you.”

“Yeah…”

“I just- I want you to trust me. I want this to work.”

He took a deep breath. “So do I.”

“So let me help you, Sam.”

Sam sighed, the last of his panic subsiding, only to return in the face of the trickster's slightly terrifying Cheshire-cat grin.

“Ok. But we play by my rules.”

His grin only grew.

"Killjoy.”

Chapter Text

A week passed at a snail's pace.

Within the first day, Sam had filled his brother in on the full extent of his chat with the Trickster. On the second, he had been forced to promise never to summon the creature alone again. Not that it would make much difference if Dean were there or not. On the third, he practically had a transcript in his mind, and finally, on the fifth, it was entirely forgotten in favour of a new hunt.

It was on the mid-afternoon of the third day when the hunters had agreed to stick to small cases and were conducting research when an urgent call came in from Chuck. Or more accurately, Becky posing as Chuck.

A Supernatural convention was just enough to drive his brother around the bend and come the end of the evening Sam was exhausted. "At least the Trickster was forgotten though", Sam rejoiced in his thoughts, not too long ago he thought he'd never hear the end of it.

The boys threw themselves into their motel room after a day filled with frustration. Sam launched toward his bed, but just as he had dived face first into tonight's covers…

*Buzz*

“Oh, what now?!” Dean's muffled groan came from across the room; it seemed his brother had had the same idea.

*Buzz*

“Ugh.” Sam willed his hand to move and grab the phone. Shuffling to his side, he clicked it on and groaned at the brightness of the screen.

Trk5ter: Good evening Sammy-kins

Trk5ter: How was the hunt?

Typing out a short reply, the hunter flipped over and let the phone rest lazily in his clutch.

Sam: Not now - too tired

Within moments of staring at the wall, he had his reply.

Trk5ter: That good huh?

Trk5ter: Too tired for a gift?

“Sammy, who is it?” Dean queried sluggishly into his mattress.

Sam ignored him.

Sam: Depends… What do you have in mind?

Trk5ter: Come out front and I'll show you ;)

Trk5ter: Will be worth the trouble - scout's honour

Sam smiled and lifted himself up onto his elbows and tucking the phone in his jeans' pocket. “No one,” he replied rather suddenly remembering he had to see to his brother's curiosity, “well no…  it's Becky again.”

Dean groaned into his mattress and pulled the pillow down to cover his head.

“Don't worry, I'll ignore it.” He pulled himself to his feet and continued after a small sway of imbalance, “I'm going to grab my laptop from the car. You want anything?”

His brother grunted and waved a hand non-committedly.

“Ok then.” Sam smoothly made his way across the room and through the door, only to freeze to the spot the instant he noticed he had walked right out of their motel, at what would have been the dead of night, and out into a city of pastel colours and busy shop owners set up their stalls for the crack of dawn.

“Loki?” He called out hesitantly, turning back to the door to reassure himself of his way back only to find it had suddenly transformed and instead now stood as a glass barrier to the entrance of a patisserie.

Looking around, Sam mused it was as if he had been dropped into the set of Mary Poppins; the architecture stood tall and box-like, each building appearing modern and quaintly European in nature. The buildings professed an assortment of pastel shades, including pale pinks, light oranges, and an abundance of creamy white.

Walking out further into the street, Sam spotted the biggest give away of them all of his location: the Austrian Alps.

“Loki?” Sam tried once again, the anxiety in his voice growing in disregard of his tiredness.

Finally, the Trickster replied, offering a simple acknowledgement alone: “Sam.” Appearing as if from nowhere, Sam whirled and spotted the Trickster no less than two metres distance away, with his hands hidden behind his back.

“You promised me a gift,” the hunter replied with tired caution.

Loki gave the human his biggest grin yet, “ah yes! That I did!” Excitedly, Loki pulled a chain from behind his back and once he had gathered Sam's interest in the object, he opened his fist and uncovered a small container of collected petals hooked onto the chain as a charm.

Unearthly and striking in nature, the petals floated within the container, but what was yet more notable was their indescribable deep violet-red colour that shimmered like a supernova contending with a glittery, night sky.

Transfixed, Sam’s eyes searched the petals in awe in an attempt to take in every nuance of colour. “What are they?”

“Amarant.” Loki's gaze left the petals and focussed on Sam in a stare so intense and full of emotion that it captured the hunter and left him with no idea what to do with himself. “Amarant planted in the Heavens beside the Tree of Life. This immortal flower has incredible healing properties, and, if I am right, which I am, their petals can be charmed to protect the wearer from outside interference.”

“Like a forcefield?”

Loki grinned affectionately at Sam and the hunter fought against a blush under the familiarity and warmth of it. “Stop it, Winchester,” he chided himself.

The creature nodded, “Just under the skin.”

“So it could make sure we can't be killed?”

“Pretty much. Angels used to wear it in Heaven. Even better though…” The trickster moved closer, and Sam let a blush slide. Up close he could see the honey-whiskey colour of his eyes which pinned him to the spot and filled him with the same warmth his touch had only a week prior.

“Angel possession,” Sam replied dumbly but Loki nodded all the same, following his train of thought. Sam's mind betrayed him and honed in on the feel of hot breath on his neck. "What would it feel like to be kissed by a Trickster?" his mind wondered and took his eyes with it to soft and full lips.

“Bingo.” A smirk graced the Trickster's lips. Slowly and methodically, he brought his hand up within Sam's eye view and moved a stray hair away from his eyes. “They can't mess with your dreams either,” Loki spoke in a hot, deep whisper.

Sam paused, snapped his eyes from the Trickster's lips, and forced his brain to take in Loki's meaning.

Naturally, the Trickster had given all the good points and none of the bad, there must be a catch. Yet, despite that, everything he was offering would be invaluable against Lucifer. It would mean an immunity however long or intense; whatever the price it cost it meant they could finally win. They could be free of angelic influence or use their immunity to fight back and win.

That aside, that wasn't the only thing the trickster had offered in their meetings. Their closeness. His insistence over the course of his agreement to help him and his brother. That he could trust him. That he had always tried to help Sam. That he wanted this to work and he agreed to help him and him alone.

A dangerous sense of excitement filled him at the prospect; Loki liked Sam and in much more than simply a friendly way.

Or he was tricking him.

Sam doubted it yet he ran over the prospect. Would Loki trick him in this way; what could he possibly gain? He knows a lot about angels, he has said he had dealt with them before, and yet he is offering help to Lucifer's vessel. Why him? Why would he trick him in this way?

Sam couldn't deny that he felt the connection. Their proximity alone made a warm shiver run throughout his entire body, but still, something held him back; a niggling fear that this was all to weaken himself for Lucifer or that somehow, and in some way, he was being deceived.

He swallowed down the shiver and replied in earnest. “It's perfect.” A slight slither of his fearful scepticism fed into his probing, “How did you get it?”

Loki must have picked up on it as he held his breath and moved to search Sam’s eyes. “Sam, I get it. I’m a trickster. My name is synonymous with evil and deceit. I know it's hard to trust me. But-” He sighed and took a step back, giving the hunter some breathing room. “As I said I want this to work... The flowers aren't permanent. As soon as they touch something mortal-”

“They become mortal too.” Sam jumped in on autopilot, and quickly checked himself with irritation; he should have let the creature reveal more about their origins.

“Which is why there are none on Earth; no immortal ones anyway. And why they are in this tube. Their effects are over 24 hours; no longer.”

There was a pause. Sam nervously fidgeted with his fingers. “You still didn't answer how you got them.”

“Ah. Yes, that old chestnut.” The trickster started on a journey of small paces around Sam and toward the patisserie door. “It was actually a trade I made a while ago. Being a trickster an all, with relative immortality of my own, I ended up with no need of them... I kept them in case they might be useful someday.”

Sam sensed it wasn't the whole truth but accepted it nonetheless. A few moments of silence allowed his tiredness to kick back in.

“Loki…”

“I know.” The creature touched the door handle and the two watched as colour spilt over it like paint and it once again became the door to the boys’ motel.

Next on his mission, Loki turned to him and raised two fingers slowly to Sam's temple without the hunter's complaint.

Sam sighed in relief as the heaviest layer of drowsiness faded away and was replaced by a warm, honey-like energy. Loki. “Thank you.”

Sam felt the trickster take his palm and press the necklace into it. He lazily accepted the gift. Sam would have asked more but drowsiness was overcoming him. He felt as if he was floating on Loki's energy and any attempt to regain his attention back on the situation floundered against rising exhaustion.

“Don't sweat it, kid.” Loki once again smiled affectionately towards the hunter.

Sam lazily returned a playful smirk and leant into the creature without thinking before pulling himself back upright again with an embarrassed blush. “You want me to lift you back into bed too?” Loki toyed with him.

“No no.” He quickly replied and ignored the Trickster's raised eyebrow and smug smirk. “I can do it.”

Stumbling to his arrival at the door, Sam turned back with one hand posted on the handle, only to see that Loki had entirely disappeared.

With a nod, he turned back and made his way through the door. Back to his brother. Amarant in hand.

***

“So they're magic petals?”

Sam rolled his eyes for the hundredth time that morning. “Which make us immune to almost everything…”

Dean was rustling through the motel room in search of their gear and gathering it all together haphazardly on his bed. “Ok well as cool as that is, and as much as I would love to see you fight the devil with flower power, the Colt comes first." Dean loaded his pistol and continued without looking to Sam. "Cas called earlier, he spotted this ‘Crowley’ guy making a deal up-state.”

And without much more conversation they were on their way. They set up with Bobby (navigating around Ellen and Jo, who had happily taken over his living room), left some of their more valuable things with the older hunter, and headed out to Crowley’s mansion for nightfall.

With some help from Jo, they made it in, enjoyed a rather odd conversation with Crowley, and took the Colt without a single ounce of force. Altogether, it was rather an odd night.

Trk5ter: That was almost pathetically easy

Trk5ter: I like this Crowley guy though

Trk5ter: And your face when the gun didn’t fire -

Trk5ter: Priceless.

Sam took out his phone and shook his head, hiding a small smile from Dean.

“Who’s that?”

Sam: Should have known you'd like the sarcastic demon.

Sam: You don’t follow us everywhere do you?

“Trickster.”

Trk5ter: Noooo. I only check up on you ;)

Trk5ter: Provides some welcome entertainment

“God, you two text too? Get off the damn phone, Sam. We’re back.”

The Trickster was right; that whole mission was pathetically easy and they had even made it home before sunrise.

For the rest of the night, and up until first light, they focused on planning their upcoming meeting with Lucifer. 

Well, saying that, Jo and Ellen were much more focused on trying to get Cas drunk, and Dean, though planning, was more focused on pushing to get Sam off the mission altogether than any of their plans to go against him.

“But if we think about it you can’t come with,” Dean argued, but soon gave in to Sam, as he always does.

“If we’re gonna to do this, we’re gonna do it together,” Sam argued his point and though Dean didn't like it, he accepted it.

Trk5ter: He is right you know.

"You're each other's weakness. The bad guys know it, too. It's gonna be the death of you, Sam."

Sam checked his phone and quickly ignored it. The Trickster was wrong, the Winchesters were a package deal, and they would beat Lucifer as they had done everything else; together.

The evidence all pointed one way: the Devil was in Carthage. But despite their confidence, it lingered on each and every one of them that this might be their last night on Earth.

Bobby demanded they all get in for a picture but as soon as it was taken none of them looked twice.

Secretly known to them all, they were preparing to die.

***

Carthage was a ghost town. No people; no signal; the only sounds coming from the place were echoes from their tires as they rolled through town.

Castiel quickly disappeared, chasing after Reapers, and they all feared Lucifer had already taken the strongest of them away for good.

And then, all at once, it got so much worse. “Meg!”

“You shouldn’t have come here, boys.”

Dean threatened her, Meg set hellhounds after them and they ran in all directions, like lambs to the slaughter. Jo screamed. She was badly hurt. They fired in blindly and dragged across the street away from unseen jaws.

In a hurried panic, they boarded up in a DIY store, blocking the main entrance with garden chains and lining all entrances with lines of salt. With this time they realised Jo was more than hurt; she was dying. One look at her wound had the brothers turning to one another in dark understanding. She didn’t have long left and they didn’t have the tools to save her; not here and not without Cas.

Ellen saw it too and it damn near broke her spirit entirely. The bandage they placed over the wound was pathetic for what she needed. Her insides wanted out and there was nothing they could do.

“You heard Meg, Sammy, her Father’s here. We have to take this chance no matter what.”

But they were stuck with hellhounds outside and Jo on her last legs.

“Sam," Dean asked frantically, "you got those petals?”

“What are they going to do now - they’re meant to be used before you get hurt not after!”

And then, somehow, it got even worse. Jo spoke up through and her mumble caught their attention. “Can we be realistic about this, please?”

She was barely strong enough to move and still fought all of them to have herself heard. 

Her plan; an explosion to kill off the mutts. With her still inside.

“We can’t let her do this Sammy. I didn’t want to ask before but do you think-” Dean cuts himself off, fearing the girls might hear, and instead gestured to his brother's phone.

Sam’s eyes widened in understanding. “The Trickster?" He whispered harshly, "You want his help?!”

“I don’t know! You seem to trust him!” Dean replied in hot frustration. The girls had heard and so he lowered his voice once again to avoid their questioning looks, “It can’t hurt Sam. We have to try something. She’s barely holding on.”

“Okay okay.” He pulled his phone out and strode away from Dean.

He was right. They needed help.

***

Oddly, and in a move which had been rather out of character until meeting Sam, Gabriel was reminiscing about a particular moment from his past when the hunter thought to call. It’s not something he does often and this time it was entirely the human's fault; the reminder of Lucifer had subconsciously, and of no fault of his own, led Gabriel right back to the Gate of Eden where the brothers had once stood toe to toe such a long time ago.

It was the first time they had been on opposing sides and it was the first time Gabriel had seen how much evil had tainted the light within his brother. 

He had barely recognised him that day.

Looking to the stars for answers, as he had that day, he was admiring the constellations of Paradise, and their close resemblance to those on Earth, when his phone rang.

He flipped it open and answered in a daze. “Hello?”

“Loki! Loki? Oh, thank God.”

Sam’s fear snapped him right out of his stupor and without a second thought he turned on his wing and strode from the Gates and toward Heaven’s edge.

“Sam? What’s wrong?” he gave out an air of confidence hoping to calm the boy.

“We’re in Carthage.” The voice frantically replied over the speaker. “We are trapped in some store with hellhounds outside. Loki, one of our friends is dying.”

Gabriel took in a deep breath and honed in on the avenging angel within him; this was his chance to show the human that their deal was worth it, that he could save them, and he would damn-well prove he could do it. “Name the store,” he commanded.

“Uhh.” Sam was all rustling distress. It made Gabriel's heart melt in concern. “Schaus Hardware. S-C-H-A-U-S, Hardware. Carthage, Missouri.”

The angel snapped the phone shut and took in a deep breath. Once steady, he closed his eyes and took the graceful step off Heaven's edge and into free-fall.

Dropping down to Earth at speed, like a comet to the ground, he weaved through dying stars and raced against the sun’s rays. Down, down, to Missouri.

***

“He hung up.” Sam swung around and stared at Dean in shock. “He hung up on me!”

“Oh Sam, don’t get too upset.”

With an echo of a snap, the Trickster appeared at the entrance of the store. With a second to assess the situation, he decidedly strode toward Jo. “Hellhound?”

“Yeah,” Dean answered hurriedly. He had left Sam at the side of the room and darted straight to Ellen’s side.

“Who-? Is he an angel?”

The boys ignored Ellen, their anxiety for Jo outweighing her need for a response, and instead focused their attention on their savour. “How old?”

“Not more than half an hour.” Dean shot back and followed the movement of the Trickster’s hands as they came over Jo’s wound.

“Don’t,” Ellen growled at him. “I don’t know who you think you are-”

“Mum…” Jo tried weakly to protest.

“Ellen, let him, please.”

The Trickster remained frozen until Dean’s encouragement granted him a nod of permission from Ellen.

Deliberately slowly, he opened his fists and released golden wisps of energy from his palms, which spilt across the wound and grew in their intensity with each passing second.

“Talk about last minute.” The Trickster huffed through gritted teeth before softening his expression and raising his eyes to meet Jo's. “Alright little one, I’m sorry, this is going to hurt, but hold on, okay?”

Jo nodded meekly and they all watched as the strands of gold clumped together, stirring within her wound, and grew into a blazing white gleam.

With weak yelps and clenched teeth, Jo fought against the pain, encouraged and held tightly by her mother.

It must have been a few minutes but it felt like an age when finally the glow stopped and the Trickster hunched into himself, taking back his hands and holding them close to his chest as if they had been burnt.

Jo slumped against Ellen and the mother worried about her daughter.

“Is she-?”

“No! No,” Ellen called frantically, “I can feel her pulse.”

A resounding sigh fills the room as they all let go of the air they had been holding in. Loki confirmed in a hollow voice: “She’ll live. She’ll need some time to recover... but she should wake up come morning.”

Ellen nodded toward the creature and reached over to take in one of his hands, pulling in his attention. “Thank you.” She took a shaky breath and took her hand back to wipe away her tears before taking hold of her daughter again with a teary smile. She had come far too close to losing her daughter today.

Loki nodded, unsure of what to do with himself, and decidedly rose to his feet in a sluggish sway. He remained unusually quiet.

“Lokes,” Sam called out to him and moved across the room to stand in front of him, but despite being right in his eye-view, the Trickster barely moved. “Loki?” The hunter grabbed his shoulders to steady him and tried again.

The creature shook himself to attention. “Sorry… Sorry, that took a lot out of me.”

“I can see that,” Sam replied affectionately and smoothes his grip from the creature's shoulders to his arms. “Thank you... You think if I give you an address you could take the girls there? You could rest there too.”

“Me?”

“Yeah. Right, Dean?”

Sam dropped his hands from the creature’s arms and turned to stare at his brother.

Dean wasn’t sure about the Trickster, he had hated him at one point, but saving Jo changed things completely and it was written all over his face; that and the slight mist in his eyes.

“Right,” he nodded an affirmative.

“I-”

“What about the hellhounds?” They all snapped their attention back to Ellen, “I’m not leaving you to deal with them alone.”

“God where is Cas when you need him!”

“Be thankful he isn’t here or I wouldn’t have come.” Loki sneered, apparently gaining his energy back a little too quickly for Dean’s liking going by his expression alone. “I can help with the hounds, but I’m not following you to the Devil, that’s where I draw the line.”

“No- no, that’s good.” Sam looked over to Ellen who nodded once again in consent. Sam smiled for the first time that day; the girls would be safe.

"Alright then, Trickster." Dean rose and made his way over to the others, readying his weapon, "What’s the plan?”

A mischievous smile appeared and internally Loki rejoiced, he was to be trusted after all. 

“Why, a trick of course.”

***

The Trickster’s plan went off without a hitch. It was simple really; distract the dogs with a fake Jo, have them follow her to another store, and boom, Loki sets off a bomb and destroys them all. Meanwhile, this whole shebang keeps Meg focused on him rather than the boys, who start up on their mission to find Lucifer.

Loki did as promised; he took Jo and Ellen back to a rather confused Bobby and helped Ellen haul her back into bed. 

With the welcome distraction, Gabriel never realised how close Sam had gotten to death that night.

Soon the boys returned home but unfortunately, they came with Castiel at their side, and so he was forced to watch from the sidelines. Naturally, Sam and Dean ask where he went, but Ellen couldn’t answer and they didn't seem to mind.

And neither did Gabriel. Today the boys had trusted him more than ever before. They proved this could work; that they could work together. They may not be able to kill the Devil just yet, but they would find a way.

He would save the Winchesters.

Chapter Text

Not even a few days after their attempt to kill the Devil, Sam and Dean were back at it again as Martin, an old friend of their Dad's, called in for a helping hand.

“Yo Cas, you think you can help in packing up this stuff?”

“Of course.” The angel replied as stiffly as ever. The change in pace from Heaven to Earth was jarring; still, he grabbed at various items in the hope he would stumble upon times the boys might hope to pack.

Between the three of them, they had decided to store some of their more important artefacts, such as the Colt and Amarant petals, somewhere safe while they investigated Martin's call.

“Amarant.” Castiel had instantly spotted them amongst the pile and named them with a tint of confused shock in his tone. He picked up the necklace and studied it closely. “How did you get this?”

“It's a long story.”

“A Trickster gave it to us.” Dean blurted out.

“A Trickster?” Castiel's face scrunched up in further confusion, “no Trickster should possess these.”

The brothers’ packing screeched to a halt and they shared a quick, unsettled look; alarm bells were ringing.

“That's what I thought.” Sam agreed tentatively. He didn't like where this was going. “He said he got them in a trade with an angel.”

“A bad one I bet.” Dean chimed in and despite Sam's annoyance at his brother's insistence to see the worst in their new friend, Castiel nodded and hummed his assent.

“Amarant was used by the forces of Lucifer in the Holy War.” Castiel ran the chain of the necklace through his fingers and gazed at the petals, studying their colour. “It was laced into their armour. It healed the rebel angels with every sunset - threatening eternal war - until our Father ended it.”

“You saying he would have gotten this from a fallen angel?” He didn't want it to be true.

Castiel's nodded and handed the petals back to Sam. “Most likely. The only other option would be for him to enter Heaven and steal some himself, but I doubt that; even I don't know where it would grow in Heaven anymore, so you would need to be linked to someone very high up - most likely an Archangel." The angel turned away and stared out of the window, up into the clouds. "We believed it to be all but wiped out when Lucifer fell.”

The boys looked to one another once again and shared a nasty thought. Sam held the petals tightly and felt a hot anger bubble under his skin.

Dean went to speak but Sam glared at him. Even the angel got the message and excused himself from the room.

The boys turned their separate ways and continuing packing in a cooler atmosphere than before.

***

They were on the road when Dean broached the topic again.

“What do you think that meant earlier?”

“What - that Loki has the petals of a fallen angel?” Sam huffed back in annoyance, “Of Lucifer's fallen army? Pretty sure you know what I think, Dean.”

They had just hit Sioux City, just over an hour after leaving Bobby’s place, and Sam was bursting with pent-up frustration when they finally reached the topic.

“Okay then.” Dean clipped his brother's aggression and waited a moment. “Can we trust the guy?”

Sam didn’t know the answer to that. “He saved Jo,” he replied meekly. He sounded unconvincing even to himself. How much did they really know about the Trickster after all?

“And what if he is working for Lucifer?”

“Wouldn't he have given us to him already?” Sam stuck up for the creature. “He has had loads of chances.”

“But they need you to say 'yes’ and mean it. Remember Sammy?”

“I suppose.” He really didn't want to think about it; Loki lying to him.

In his heart, he thought Loki incapable. As silly as it sounded, Sam was convinced Loki had some form of feelings for him. They had an easy connection when they were together, a sort of unrushed flirtation which he didn't want to sour. Still, even he had to admit, the possibility of ‘Loki’, the God of Lies, lying to him was incredibly likely.

A nasty part of his mind was kicking itself with ‘I-told-you-so’s and blaring through memories of leaning into Loki, of him promising he would help, that he reminded him of someone, and of the kiss he wanted to take; taunting him and labelling them all as false, as ways to get closer to him for his ultimate trick - leading him to Lucifer.

“Not exactly far left field for 'Loki’ is it?”

Sam was left surprised with how much rage that statement arose in him. His mind continued to furiously attack himself in a form of emotional self-destruct sequence. “Let's just focus on the hunt, Dean." He snapped. "Or on Martin. Or Michael, or the Devil. How about that?”

“Alright, alright.”

They sat alone in silence and Sam slowed his breathing to calm his mind.

He thought logically: they knew nothing solid yet, they had not asked Loki, they had not even considered he had told the truth. Loki had made a deal with them; he had pretended to be trapped for Sam’s questioning; he had saved them and he had saved Jo from certain death. He deserved the benefit of the doubt.

Sam sighed and quietly cut through their silence. “Just leave Loki to me.”

Another moment of awkward silence passed.

“He's all yours, bitch.”

An eye roll. A head shake. An affectionate smile.

“Jerk.”

***

The brother’s had a blast with Doctor Fuller at first. Being able to say all the crazy shit they were facing, to someone expecting to hear crazy, in a place of full crazy… Needless, to say it was a blast.

Then they mess up.

Doctor Fuller was never the wraith, to begin with, and they were both actually going insane.

Sam attacks Dean. He attacks Loki. Or at least he thinks he does. In reality, the wraiths venom has gone too deep and all Sam can see is red. Blood red.

People surround him, prepared to attack.

“It's not the demon blood, Sam. It never was. It was all you.”

His mind rallies against them.

“I've been tricking you this entire time.”

But every word cuts deep.

“You killed all of us. Pathetic freak.”

“Typical Winchester. Too dumb; too weak to save your friends.”

It’s killing him.

“You evil son of a bitch! You're no better than the Devil!”

“Who could love you?”

Maybe the world would be better off without him.

“You’re not my brother.”

Maybe he didn't have a place here after all.

“You’re a monster, Sam. Just like me.”

Their figures appear as ghosts but to Sam, they appeared deadly real. He flails at them like a broken animal and howls his pain but his blows never reach.

Instead, real people shatter his reality and grasp at him, pulling at him from all angles.

He is too weighted down by drugs to fight it. He is too broken to care.

They drag him away.

***

He wakes up lying on a stiff bed in the centre of a padded cell.

He forces himself to focus and search for some form of escape but still the drugs pumped into his system render him floppy and useless.

Sam tests the straps on his ankles and wrists to no avail. “Loki?” he tries, “Loki, please I know you’re there-”

“A final prayer?” A nurse enters and Sam yells at her to release him. “Ah-ah-ah, you are far too angry to be out there in the real world.”

“What?” Sam complained breathlessly, dropping his head back only to shoot back up at the reflection of the wraith in a mirror at the corner of the room. This was no vision. “You.”

“Me." It announces. "I gotta say, you hunters are quite the letdown.” The creature circled the bed, oozing smug confidence and sarcastic victory. Sam fought uselessly against his restraints. “You and your brother were so very easy to spot. Then all it took was a touch and you were mine.”

She bent over the head of the bed. “And oh how I love it here." Dead eyes meet his and he strains in anger. "It is my own personal five-star restaurant.” A finger trails along Sam’s forehead and he this time he squirms to be away from her. “Crazy brains. The dopamine; the adrenaline; the hormones and the chemicals. Delicious.”

“You did this to me!” He howls.

“Well,” she exposed her teeth in a wicked smile, “I helped. But that rage?” She drags out her words; savouring every syllable in spit of the human's pain. “No, no, no. That’s all you. I don’t make the crazy. I just crank up what’s already there.

“And I bet you taste-” She licks her finger and startles to a halt at the taste.

Her victory shatters. Her heart quickens; eyes widen. Her face twists into an expression of pure fear.

A snap heightens the fear in her features. She jumps away from the bed and to backs herself up against the padded wall. “Like he’s off limits?” Sam's head snapped up to catch the predatory grin.

“Back up.” His voice lowered into a growl and he snapped his fingers once again, blowing the door off its hinges.

“Dean!" He called back, keeping his eyes on the wraith. "Get in here!”

Moments later, Dean comically stumbled through the door at an awkward full pelt. He dazedly assesses the situation, then throws himself toward the startled wraith. He swings his knife at her and is thrown about the room.

It all comes down to the wire. Dean finishes it; he snaps the wraith’s skewer and stabs his silver blade into her heart, burning the life out of her once and for all.

By the end of it, Dean was utterly breathless and rounds on the Trickster with a glare. “Didn’t feel like helping out?!” Dean threw up his arms and yelled in hot frustration.

But the creature, who had been watching the entire time, just rolled his eyes and freed Sam in a snap. The younger hunter glared at him for not releasing him earlier and before opening his mouth the Trickster transported them all back to the Impala.

Before the boys could gather their bearings they whirled around to greet a familiar sigh. Loki had rounded on the boys, and with an empty terse tone, he finally replied dejectedly, “Why should I help? Deal or not it seems you two will never trust me.”

He shook his head and continued before they cut in. “You two seem more interested in how I get my tools rather than my actions to help you.”

“Can you blame us, Loki?”

That earned Dean a death stare, which was soon passed on to Sam. The younger brother squirmed with the guilt when met with the rage and hurt in Loki’s eyes. “I thought we had broached this topic. I am who I am,” he growled.

“Doesn’t make it easier to trust you,” the older brother snapped.

“I have given you no reason not to trust me.”

Dean scoffed, “you killed me a hundred times over."

“And you remember none of it. Sam should be the one complaining!" Loki rolled his eyes. "And anyway, we hadn’t made a deal then.”

Dean wasn't having it. “You refuse to show up with Cas around,” he snapped back for a second time.

“As I told your brother, I don't work with angels.”

“And yet you trade with them.”

Enough! ” Sam bellowed from between them. The smug victory of Dean's face and the rage that emanated from Loki was enough for Sam to break.

The other two snapped their glares over to Sam and quickly sunk their shoulders in guilt when they noticed how truly haunted Sam looked.

“Sam? You okay?” Dean reached out toward his brother, only to be brushed off.

“No. The wraith Dean - she was right.”

“No, she wasn’t.”

“Yes, she was! Most of the time, I can hide it, but I am angry. I’m mad at everything.” The Trickster takes in a noticeably unsteady breath and looks away. Sam continues in spite of him. “I make excuses. I blame Ruby or the demon blood, but it’s not their fault. It’s not them. It’s me. It’s inside me." He looks to Dean, begging him to understand. "I’m mad all the time and I don’t know why.”

Instead, his brother became ridged and burst in frustration: “Stop. Stop it. So what if you are? What are you gonna do? You gonna take a leave of absence? You gonna say yes to Lucifer? What?”

“No, of course not. I-”

“Exactly. And that’s exactly what you’re gonna do. We’re gonna take all that crap and you’re gonna bury it because that’s how we keep going." Dean demanded. "Are you with me?”

Sam paused and looked anywhere but Dean.

“Take it from a monster, Sam..." Loki turned back toward the brothers, re-entering the conversation with incredible caution, "You’re not one. Not even close.”

Dean nodded his assent at the Trickster and turned to Sam once more. “Come on, man. Are you with me?”

“I’m with you.”

“Alright, good. You too, asshole.” Dean pointed to the Trickster. “I don’t know what deals you’ve made in your past but Sam’s right, you proved yourself with Jo and we sure as hell need you.”

Knowing better than to push his luck, the Trickster nodded and made his way to the back seat of the Impala.

***

The boys decided to haul up at a motel for the night and drive back to Bobby's come dawn.

Once parked, Dean nodded toward his brother in a secret communication the Trickster could only imagine meant they would get everything sorted as usual: Dean would get the room while Sam made a start unpacking.

Typically Gabriel found humans difficult to read but after having spent far too long with these two - it was impossible not to know their meaning.

Throughout their hour-long journey to the motel, the boys had been incredibly silent. Often, they took turns looking in their mirrors to confirm the Tricksters attendance, followed up by surprised looks; it was clear they were shocked by how long he had decided to stick around with them this time.

This communication continued all the way up until Sam knocked the Impala’s back window and called for him to come out of the car.

Loki jumped, shook himself to attention, and snapped himself out the car and in front of Sam.

For a moment there was silence, but then Sam caught his attention clearing his throat and stepping forward to within an inch of him without any hesitation. “The Wraith.” The human brought up his fingers to the creature’s forehead. “It stopped when it… ‘tasted’ me. After you did this,” he feigned moving the hair from Gabriel's eye view and abruptly dropped his arm to his side. “Why?”

“You spotted that, huh?” he replied with a hint of nervousness. A needy corner of his mind was itching for Sam to touch him again.

Sam smirked confidently; a look that secretly melted Gabriel at his core. “Yup. What did you do?”

“Protection spell.” He replied at lightning speed. “Nothing big.” He assured nervously. “Kind of like a metaphysical spring trap.”

Gabriel recreated Sam’s prior smirk rather sheepishly. “It sure freaked her out.”

“Sneaky.” The original smirk returned and so did the fingers, which now played with the collar of his shirt. Sam’s eyes locked onto his and trapped him to the spot. Damn it. “You saved us again.”

Gabriel stood frozen, lost in the sensation of Sam’s fingers on his skin, and replied lazily, “Technically I didn't save you the first time, I freed you.”

“You saved Jo.” Sam pressed.

“Would again. She's a badass.”

The fingers halted and he was forced to full attention. “Loki. I'm trying to thank you.”

“Really?” He smiled and decided to be bold, taking a hold of Sam’s arm. “I'm sorry, us Norse God's, we take our thanks in different ways.”

Sam’s brow raised and his smile returned, “Oh?”

“Yeah.” He began stroking his thumb across the human's bicep. “Most days we're talking candles, sex, liquor... sex-”

“Sounds like a good time,” the human breathed and his fingers began moving again. Lord, this boy would be the death of him. The human was leaning in. His eyes flickered down and back up to meet his.

Gabriel stopped his movements altogether the instant their eyes locked. “You're awfully close, Sammy,” he warned thickly. “I’m Loki remember; can't be trusted.”

“I don't care who you are,” the hunter whispered hotly.

Gabriel's mind raced with a wave of guilt and excitement. “No?”

The boy moved his hand to cradle his jaw. “Loki or not. You've proved yourself. Oh, God of Lies,” he mocked.

Gabriel leaned into Sam’s hand and pinched his arm playfully, “Alright then, am I getting a thank you or not?”

The human smiled in a way that broke down all of Gabriel's resolve. He melted into his arms and absorbed the butterflies in his stomach as the hunter leaned in.

He was in Heaven for the third time since meeting Sam.

They kissed. His lips were soft, his movements slow and tender. They lingered. His breath was warm. His eyes were endless. They smiled.

“I could do with more of this,” Gabriel admitted happily.

“Keep up the good work,” Sam replied cheekily, leaving the promise of reward in the air, and the two cracked into smiles before leaning in to kiss again.

This time it was hot, increasingly needy as time went on. Since the beginning, they had been building up to this. Finally, their emotion between them was out in the open and neither of them could pull away.

The two were inseparable up right up until Dean announced his re-entry.

Sam cleared his throat awkwardly and the Trickster took the lead, bidding the boys farewell for now. His human smiled at him sheepishly as he left.

***

It was then that Gabriel became aware he was entirely screwed.

He felt like he was floating.

But with that warmth, came an equally potent sinking feeling; finally, and after so long, Gabriel had a weakness.

He had a reason to give his True Name - to reveal himself.

And moreover, with Lucifer on his way to destroy this bliss, he had a new monster to fear.

But for now, he ignored those fears and decided to float for just a little longer.

Chapter Text

The stars warned against battle that night.

There had been merely two sunsets in the Heavens since the fall and already Gabriel caught Lucifer snooping at the Gates of Eden; a monstrous echo of the brother that once was.

He was a miserable mutation. His eyes were darker. No longer shining with the light of morning, Lucifer was haunted by deep, dark purpose.

His body had greatly suffered the fall. It now wrapped around itself in raw, ugly deformity. Every inch stung.

His once blinding brightness had been squandered by malicious intent.

On that day, Gabriel stared up to the stars for guidance, wishing his Heavenly Father would look to his distress and offer some answer. He prayed that they might relieve him of the battle his brother demanded; that they might give them a reason to escape further harm. And in that action he betrayed his post, imagining Heaven's fires as he had wished them to be rather than what they were: a warning of what would come if Lucifer were not weakened.

His foolishness he allowed the Devil to return to the shadows, as he was so accustomed, and with this second chance, the brute awaited midnight's daemonic hour, when angelic guards retired their posts, to conduct his mischief.

By the very moment, Heaven's skies had formed their darkest shade, the Devil took flight and fought over the Gate, and into the Garden.

By night, the Mother of all men, Eve, was tormented by the Devil.

By day, he appeared to her as the charming snake. So unrivalled in his intellect, he convinced her to eat the fruit of sin and convinced her with a false of safety and benevolence.

And thus, humanity fell. Eve by deceit; Adam with love.

From then on, Gabriel cursed himself. He had been tasked and was so eager to guard the humans and yet he had betrayed them by staring at the stars too longingly. He had become too soft in darkness’ wake.

The fall had weighed too heavily on his heart. Not too long before Gabriel had felt the pain that it was to hurt his brother. He had vowed if ever to see him, that he would envelop him in love, and beg forgiveness for not protecting from their Father's and his highest son's Heavenly wrath.

So great was the cost of Lucifer's fall, that humans became incredibly important to his Father's Heavenly void.

His Father was furious.

And so with his failure, Raphael raced to warned mankind, lowly angels were tasked to watch the failed usurper on his return to Hell, and Gabriel was disgraced and ignored by his Father forevermore.

In the wake of this disaster, it would be decreed that the kingdom their Father had sought to create would now be maintained by their strongest Heavenly brother, Michael. That Michael's wing should encompass the world and all her inhabitants, human or otherwise, and protect them from harm while their Heavenly Father took the angel Phanuel and his chosen brothers to the throne of Heaven at her farthest reaches.

In other words, God was furious. He turned and slammed the door on the majority of his children.

Gabriel only heard stories of what happened next. But from what he did hear, those angels never did return, and neither did their Father.

***

A long drive later, the Impala was empty once again and the boys had dumped their main bags at the foot of their beds for the night.

Dean smirked and watched as his brother dived face first into his pillows, “So you and the Trickster huh?”

Sam stilled momentarily at that but thankfully his brother's tone was light and playful, so instead sat up and suffered his shit-eating grin. “Yeah. I don't know, it just- happened.”

“And you're sure this isn't another Ruby thing.” Dean pressed lightly: although disapproving of a relationship with a non-human partner he was hardly as negative as he had been about Ruby. “He isn't tricking you?”

“No, Dean. He isn't." Sam assured him, "I made the first move. I trust him.”

His brother nodded. Loki's more recent actions had done wonders to soften Dean's opinion toward him. By saving them, saving Jo, and protecting Sam, particularly in their last hunt, a significant amount of barriers to their relationship had been overcome. Like him, Dean had begun to trust him.

But still, he pressed: “With your life?”

Sam nodded, “With our lives.”

“Well, I sure hope you're right because now the Colt is a no-go we need a way to end the Devil and fast.”

“We can do it, Dean." Sam forced himself to sound positive. "We'll beat the Devil. And Michael." He thought of Loki. "We're stronger now.”

Sam was saying it mostly for his sake and Dean showed a visible hesitance to his enthusiasm.

They had come to rely upon Loki far too much recently, suffered too many close calls, and now they were praying for him to come up with some form of a solution to a problem none of them could fight head-on.

“I sure hope you're right Sammy.”

The two shared a look and sank into their beds. A new silence became them.

Sam replayed the conversation in his mind.

Loki was right; he undoubtedly trusted him.

Unlike Ruby, who was never interested in anyone other than him, or Meg, who was a psychotic demon, Loki had never forcibly manipulated him. He had protected him and his brother, he had saved them and their friends, and he cared for him.

He assured him that he was not broken: he demanded nothing to fix him. He was not forcing anything: their relationship was moving in baby steps and it was a welcome change. Sam had no fear he was being manipulated, no reason to worry that their love would fire up and burn out. Things were still growing between them and to enjoy the chase again, since Jess, felt amazing.

More than that, the sheer comfort of having a Trickster, a powerful demi-god, who would drop everything and appear at his side whenever he needed had given him a new sense of security he had never before experienced.

And with Dean finally accepting him everything was looking up.

He listened out for his brother's tell-tale light snores and drifted off to a dream of an apple pie life; a cottage, a dog, and Loki.

***

Gabriel once again took to Heaven. He needed to explore his options. Maybe he could find Phanuel or other angels close to God.

Surfing the outskirts of Heaven, he froze in a familiar stretch of land.

Alone he stood in the fields of battle long past.

It was here that their Father had ordered the bloody struggle between brother and brother, sister and sister, and sat upon high, watching for days as the war raged on.

Beside Michael, he had stood proud and strong. Together, they fought the jealous rage of Lucifer, as well as the many angels he had ravaged under his command with words of promised success and new beginnings free of their unjust ruler.

Thinking back with a fresh mind, if he were what he is now, Gabriel might have joined him.

God chose Jesus to be the ruler of Heaven and Earth, angel and man. He took to him so greatly and treated him as if he were his only son; that angels and archangels alike were nothing more than another one of his creations, expected to follow Him without question, as their maker, and love and serve His humans.

With the first day of war, Lucifer was severely wounded. Michael's sword, at the beginning of its form as once a true blade, struck Lucifer down and forced his troops to drag him away in howling agony. The sight was almost too much for Gabriel to bare. For the first time, they had gone too far. It was the first fight for many angels and the majority of them were mortally wounded.

But on that fateful night, the sad stars of Heaven came time to heal His angels. Amarant soaked in the moonlight and angelic armour, laced with the flower, took to healing their every soldier. By sunrise, the very same armies clashed again.

The cycle continued until on the third day, Lucifer, the maniacal, brought with him cannons, which the treacherous angels had laboured throughout the night to create.

This backed Michael into a corner. With his forces trapped by deadly slow advancement, few of them surviving cannon fire, and the fear of what retreat might bring from their Heavenly Father, the angels of God stood motionless against the fire. Once again, Gabriel was forced to watch scores of his brother's pinned at the wing and howling in what seemed like endless pain and suffering.

This was not the Heaven he knew.

He shook his head and tried to force himself back to the present. But the horrific images forced their way into his mind.

Countless prayers were offered to his Father that night. Unlike the present, their Father listened, and their solution came. The hills of Heaven rallied with their cause and the earth rolled against the traitors, wrapping around their cannons and destroying the weapons.

In the fray, Lucifer's fallen were tossed amongst the violent earth and were so weighed down by their armour made of precious metals and laced in adamant, that they floundered amongst the rocks, and once the earth stopped, lay motionless as an army of groans.

Jesus, sent by their Father to end all conflict, saw his opportunity to prove himself as their rightful leader and judged them with unforgiving, almighty power.

Gabriel stood helpless. To move was to give away his thoughts, to speak against a vicious ruler, and to speak was to condemn himself to his brothers’ fates.

Instead, he watched with great empathy as the Son uprooted Lucifer's angels from Heaven with a thousand, thousand volts of thunder, thieving their collective energies, and robbing them of all power or root to the Almighty.

He mutated them. He violated their graces.

Gabriel watched in awe and ached as he met the eyes of Azazel and saw a childlike look of dread which would haunt him for all his days.

With a thought from the Almighty Son, the treacherous army was gone, and with that, the army of God let out a relieved cheer.

With their Father, they celebrated the rise of Jesus, but a look between him and Michael confirmed what they were both thinking; that although these celebrations were impressive, they were all but true.

Heaven was no paradise. Lucifer had shattered the illusion.

They were terrified.

Alone on this abandoned battlefield in the dark centre of Heaven, Gabriel trudged through the fields to the side of the traitors.

He wondered what war might rage on Earth without their Father or his Son to end their brothers' fight, and more importantly, what might become of him if he failed to save humans on his second attempt.

Amarant grew over the spot where Lucifer was first stuck and bled; beauty immortal.

Gabriel stopped and knelt to meet the flower. This place had an odd effect on him. The flower stood like a headstone to Lucifer's innocent self. He whispered to the flower, low and fragile, “Give me strength.” He looked through the flower and across to where Lucifer first rallied his fallen together against their Lord. “Help me find a way to protect those I love. Like you.”

But as a flower does, it simply swayed in the light breeze, giving no answer, and no indication of fact or opinion.

The reminder of Heaven's stars appeared in his mind.

Nothing ever seemed to lead him down the right path here. Nothing had opinion. Even their Father gave no indication of his thoughts.

Here he truly was alone.

He felt so incredibly lost. The image of Michael's fearful eyes meeting his at Jesus' coronation appeared in his mind. Did his brother feel this way? Did he feel so incredibly alone ruling over Heaven? Was he lost? Alone? Abandoned?

Maybe he had started the apocalypse to end all of this.

The humans were better than them. They created leaders so easily; their wars fractured them but they continue despite their issues. They love deeply and often.

Angels were different. They had self-destructed and each and every one of them is alone at their core.

Gabriel felt his resolve crack.

Finally, and with no one there to watch him, he allowed himself to let out the pain this place had caused him.

***

Sam wrestled with his thoughts all night, as did Dean.

A new anxiety ruled over the two and Dean had once again begun to look to Sam for answers; time and time again he hoped something would appear in his research that they could harness against the Devil.

By the following morning, the two packed up and again hit the road on their way to Sioux Falls, back to Bobby's.

Except, only two hours into the drive, the plan changed completely.

“Who was that?” Dean asked lazily, caressing the wheel.

“Donna.” The brothers cracked into smiles and made the silent decision to redirect to Housatonic, Massachusetts.

Donna was family. She had babysat the boys while John went on hunts in the past and this detour, despite adding two more days to their journey at the very least, was well worth it to be with one of the countless people they loved.

***

For a while longer, Gabriel searched the edge of Heaven but found no better location.

He returned to the flower and watched from afar as the boys ran around like headless chickens. It cheered him up just a little.

Gary flexing Sam’s muscles was also a lovely treat though the boy had no idea how to make it look sexy at all. Figures; teenagers.

The kid made yet another mistake by calling a demon but then, when the going gets a bit gory, he finally gets the message.

The two have the usual after-talk. They pack up. They drive off.

Gabriel sighs. While watching the boys provided some welcome entertainment, it also further reproved, with each passing hunt, how truly weak they were; how many ways the Devil could win over them.

He had regained familiar fears yet his love made him all that more afraid.

In all of creation, he had never felt so truly vulnerable. He wanted Sam to hold him, he wanted him safe, but without a bond, his human was so very killable.

A thought came to mind. It was a dire option but it needed to be done. If Michael felt at all as he did, he would visit this field, he would visit this flower, and he might listen.

He took a pen to a page and tried to write from the heart. 

Once complete, he tied the paper to the flower and smiled as the paper shone with the flower's colour; his message would be safe and he prayed he would be heard.

The stars shined as they had that night yet Gabriel noted a subtle change in the air.

The boys were further still down their path to shaping the future of humanity.

Chapter Text

The Housatonic River runs the length of western Massachusetts. After months of non-stop hunting, the brothers decided to take the morning off and visit one of the main sights of Massachusettes while they were still there. Or, more accurately, Sam enjoyed the sights, while Dean spent most of the morning sleeping.

Surrounded by a mass of autumn reds, oranges, and browns, Sam claimed a spot amongst the trees where he could skim stones across a long stretch of the river, and ignored his brother in his peripheral as he needlessly fished through the back of the Impala.

“Hey, Sam!” Dean bellowed across to his brother in an attempt to throw him off his game, "Heard from Loki yet?"

Sam's swing jolted and his rock plopped out of sight. He sighed. “Nothing yet!” he called back and stood to walk back across to Dean. “Actually, he did suggest chopping Michael's head off.”

“Oh? I’m sure Lucifer would love that.” Dean's sarcasm melted into a smile.

A moment passed and Dean spoke again. “He’s cool y’know.”

“Yeah?” Sam stared at Dean with a childish smugness; he only wished his Trickster was here to hear his brothers comments.

“Don’t push your luck.”

Sam went to goad the other once again but was cut off by the appearance of an angel.

Stumbling through the branches awkwardly, Castiel appeared from the treeline and gave himself away instantly. The brothers shared a small smile before the angel had managed to trudge to within a metre of the brothers.

Castiel cleared his throat and spoke in his usual monotone. “Did you speak with your Trickster friend?”

"He's popular isn't he," Dean smirked, goading Sam back, before replying plainly to Castiel. “He's in the clear.”

“Okay…" Castiel scruched his eyebrows together in deep confusion. "How did he come to acquire the amarant?”

Sam sighed and Dean rolled his eyes. “It doesn't matter anymore Cas. He saved one of our friends; we believe in him.” Dean snapped the Impala boot shut in one swift resounding movement.

“Okay,” the angel dragged out the word’s final syllable and failed miserably to hide the bewilderment on his face.

Sam cut in. “So what do we do about Lucifer?”

Dean sighed and made his way to the front of the Impala, patting a hand on Cas’ shoulder as he passed. His brother mirrors him and made his way to the passage seat. “The Colt don't work. Loki is coming up with nothing. You have no ideas,” he pointed to Cas, “so how about a drink?”

The younger hunter's eyes brightened at the suggestion. The two were as thick as thieves as they jumped into the Impala and took the angel with them to the nearest shitty bar.

***

Stumbling back after a couple of drinks, with assistance from his two partners in crime, Dean plopped himself soundly on his bed.

Tucked under his covers by one concerned angel, he resigned himself to sweet dreams that night, only to dart awake after an unconscious run-in with a familiar face.

“Anna.”

Dean recounted the tale at the crack of dawn. She had come to destroy Sam.

He was irritable that morning; frustrated that they had no answer for the apocalypse and now more angels had begun looming over them. 

He took to a local café, sat by the window, and quickly downed a coffee or two. Just thinking about the apocalypse drained him.

“An angel wants me dead. Heaven wants me dead,” he muttered to himself. His fingers played with the empty coffee cup in a spasmodic expression of nerves.

A snap. “Sounds serious,” a sarcastic voice enters.

Sam rolled his eyes fondly. “Loki.”

“Don't think on it too much Gigantor. Heaven isn't all clouds, rainbows, and unicorns.” The creature snapped a hot chocolate into his own hands and Sam noted the steam now coming from his less-than-empty coffee cup. He laced his fingers around the cup to soak in its heat. “They’re assholes.”

“But they have a point.” He was quick to respond. “If they kill me Lucifer never rises.”

“That's what they decided for you, Sam.” The creature tuts back with a waggle of his finger. The expression alone teeters Sam on the edge of a smile. “But what's your decision?”

Sam sighs but there is fondness to it. Of course, Loki is trying to cheer him up. Still, while Sam's heart was content, his mind refused to ignore the issues they were up against. “They aren't giving me much choice here.”

Loki shakes his head. He leans in to reply softly but clearly. “It might look that way right now. But take it from a Trickster: there's always a way to worm yourself out of a terrible situation. No matter how bad.” He leans outward, taking a sip from his hot chocolate before concluding, “We just haven't found it yet.”

Sam sits there silently for a moment, then he nods, accepting the Trickster's words. “Thank you.”

“Course,” Loki brushes it off.

“No really.” Sam reaches over the table to place one hand over Loki's. “Thank you.”

“Don't sweat it, kid,” Loki takes the hand and brushes his thumb over Sam's knuckles.

Sam loses track time there for a moment. He is too focused on the movement of the Trickster's thumb to remember he was on a time limit. 

But then it hits him. “Uh…" Awkwardly, he took back his hand and asked, "Could you drop me back at the motel?”

“Sure thing, Sam. It would be my pleasure.” Loki took on a predatory smile and jumped up from their table. “A touch and you're back.”

“Ok…” Sam cautiously stands up and moves toward the Trickster, reaching for his hand.

The creature pouts. “Ah ah ah. Come on Sammy.” He whined overdramatically. “Humour me.”

The hunter caught on at lightning speed and smirked playfully. Pulling the Trickster in, he leaned down and slowly, carefully brought his lips to within an inch of his.

“This what you have in mind?” Sam taunted but all his playfulness melted when the Trickster whined in reply and grabbed on to the hunter's arms.

“Yes,” Loki answered dumbly before quickly adding, “I've been on my best behaviour, Sammy.”

Sam’s insides mewled in pleasure at that statement alone. He places a hand under the creature's jaw, and brushes this thumb along it, and smiles when the other leans into it. “Yes, you have.”

He doesn't wait any longer, the hunter swoops in, and claims the Trickster's lips. Sam barely holds in a predatory smile as the Trickster melts into it, consuming as much of the kiss as he is offered, and moving his hands to Sam's hips.

Time seems to slow around them and only when the hunter realises it truly is, that Loki is actually purposefully slowing time to milk this, does he pull away for a moment, just to watch as the creature followed his movement longingly but allowed his ultimate retreat.

“We’re not at the motel yet.” Sam pointed out devilishly.

Loki sighed happily and shook his head. His lips soon took on a cheeky smile. “I got distracted.”

“Well, we can't have that.” Sam teased and pulled away from the other, taking one hand off of his hip and weaving his fingers through their smaller counterparts.

“Humans. So incredibly pushy.”

“You love it.” Sam taunted. He caught himself too late though and stopped dead still once he had realised what he said.

Loki beamed back at the hunter and squeezed his hand encouraging. “I'm certainly getting there.” He took the other hand from the hunter's hip and raised the fingers to snap then away. “Might take some more convincing yet.”

Sam lips raised into a subtle but affectionate smile, which the Trickster soon mirrored. The smaller man lifted an eyebrow, and on the other's nod of permission, a familiar and warm honey-like sensation spilt through him from his fingers and through his entire body. Within a moment, the all-consuming sensation was there, and the next it was gone, and he had been transported right back to outside the motel.

“Sammy?” He heard his brother instantly shout from inside the room.

Sam cranes his neck to reply. “I'll be there in a minute!”

Loki stepped back, sensing the human's hesitance with his brother around. He was playing with fire here. “So what’s today's monster?”

“Anna, this angel, she has gone back in time. She wants to get to us before we were born.” Seeing the disbelief on the Trickster's face, he added, “We're gonna stop her.”

“How? Time travel?!” He replied frantically, “Cas can't be strong enough for that.”

“Well, apparently he is,” Sam shrugged back. “Don't worry. I have full faith in him. We'll be fine.”

“You better be.” The other hissed, “Or I'll make that rat with wings’ live through hell.”

“SAM!”

“Alright!” Sam yelled his reply, before moving back into the Trickster. The creature said no words but followed his actions without complaint, allowing himself to be lead by the human. He leaned down to peck at his lips, then the corner of them, and pulled back. “Just, keep looking for something to fight Lucifer while we're gone, okay?” Sam smirked and taunted, “Another flower maybe?”

Loki’s smile cracked into a full-toothed gleam and he pushed the human away with a hand on his chest. “Oh shut up Winchester.”

“Don't worry about me.” Sam grabbed the hand and kissed his knuckles briefly.

“Stop almost dying and I promise I will.”

The two fully pulled away from one another. Sam ached to see the anxiety written across Loki's features. “I’ll see you soon.”

“Be careful.”

“I’m always careful.”

“Then be extra careful.”

“Okay, okay!” Sam smiled his coined sheepish smirk and backed out until he was forced to turn his back on the Trickster.

Loki exuded intense distress but kept his features still. He watched his every move when leaving toward the motel.

Only when Sam turned did he note the familiar sound of a snap. He was alone again.

***

Darting back into the motel, Sam came face to face with angry, impatient Dean, and their angel Castiel, who simply nodded, noting his return.

Dean had packed their tools for the both of them and glared at him for a moment, before turning back to Castiel and nodding. They wasted no time. “Okay.” Castiel took in a bracing breath and reached over to the boys.

From his fingers spilt the familiar honey-like sensation, except this time it reminded him more of a liquid lavender. Recognition hit him like a tonne of bricks and every instinct in him rang with alarm bells. It felt similar to Loki.

Sam motioned to frantically voice his thoughts but before he had the chance to ask, his brother yelled at him to bend his knees and Sam was thrown into the past.

His thoughts ran wild throughout the journey.

Why did Castiel's touch offer the same sensation as Loki's? He forced himself to remain still despite the deep recesses of his mind fighting the familiar, but utterly wrong sensation.

Tricksters and angels are nothing alike. Why would his energy, or his power, Sam wasn't sure which to call it, feel the same? Even more worrying, why would Castiel feel even lesser than Loki? The angel should be more powerful than him, right? Yet the sensation he had from Castiel's touch felt thinner somehow.

Sam's mind was working overtime. He should ask Cas. If he told Dean he would freak out, but Cas would have an answer.

Except they had landed in 1987 and Cas collapsed on the tarmac. They ran to him but blood spilt from his face and he flopped into their hold.

He concluded he would just have to keep it to himself for now.

***

All else in Sam’s mind is blown away at the sight of Mary. For a while there he just stares at her.

They try to convince her to leave John, to save herself, but it’s already too late. The sigils disappear; the holy water evaporates; the ringing starts.

Uriel and Anna were both gunning for them. They fight; they fall. Anna stabs him. And the next he knows he is back at the motel.

Dean fills him in; Michael had appeared, killed Anna, and returned them back to the present day without breaking a sweat.

Yet, when Castiel appeared to break their silence, the angel can barely stand. They rush to help him stand but his body collapses in on itself and the boys are forced to lug him to Dean’s bed.

The two pour themselves a drink and toast to nothing in particular. It had been a rough day.

“Well… this is it.”

“This is what?” Sam takes a sip.

“Team Free Will. One ex-blood junkie, one dropout with six bucks to his name, your Trickster boyfriend, and Mr Comatose over there. It’s awesome.”

“Not funny, Dean.”

“I’m not laughing.”

The boys take a moment to look over Castiel’s body, before Sam sighs, “They all say we’ll say yes.”

“I know. It’s getting annoying.”

“What if they’re right?”

“They’re not.”

“I mean, why, why would we, either of us? But...I've been weak before.”

“Sam.”

“Michael got Dad to say yes.”

Dean is tired but he is having none of it. ”That was different. Anne was about to kill mom.”

“Yes, but that's what I mean. If you could save mom, what would you say?”

Dean says nothing.

The Trickster, or whoever he is, was right, they were each other's weaknesses. Lucifer and Michael would eventually find ways to make them say yes. There were a tonne more ways too. There were too many people they cared about.

Speaking of, Sam needed to talk to Castiel; something was off with Loki, and he was determined to find out what.

Chapter Text

The instant Castiel wakes Sam is on him like a hound, subtly dragging out knowledge from him, and piecing together his theory.

The clues were all there. He stared intensely down at the adamant chain as he placed it back in its box and stepped outside into Bobby's scrapyard.

He had a plan.

***

Sam had told Castiel and his brother to remain indoors and keep the others with them until he returned. Dean put up a fuss of course. No one had any idea why Sam was being so serious and none of them liked that he had taken so much care to where and how this conversation would go. They were all nervous and swiftly agreed to stay out of the lovers’ spat on the condition they didn't go far.

The hunter readied himself in Bobby's yard and took in a deep breath.

He whipped out his phone and dialled the number.

“Sam? Uh... Hello, Sam?”

“I need you.”

“Sam, are you ok?”

“I'm at Bobby's. Can you get here?” He twisted his voice into that of affection. Even to him, it sounded off.

Hesitance met him from the other end of the line. “Uh... Yeah, alright… I'll be there in two ticks.”

And true to his word, the Trickster appeared with the echo of a snap.

For a moment there was silence.

“Loki.”

“Sam is everything okay? You're acting a bit strange.” The Trickster walked up to him and stood within a few inches, bringing his fingers to brush against Sam's. “It's not Lucifer is it?”

“No. It's something else.” The hunter was rigid; focused on calculating his next move. “Something I’ve been thinking about for some time.” He brought his hand away from the creature’s and took a step back.

“Okay,” Loki paused and continued warily, with a new tone of concern, “what is it about? Can I help?”

Sam’s eyes dart in all directions, assessing his trap, before snapping back up to the Trickster. He sighed dramatically and turned his back on the Trickster.

“Sam, come on, talk to me.”

His heart was racing and the Trickster must have known not to approach; lucky him. Slowly pulling a lighter out from his jacket pocket, he lit the flame and held it there for a moment, studying it flicker.

He took a moment to draw up the courage to continue with his plans.

He needed to know the truth.

“Okay, Loki,” the hunter turned on his heel and threw the flame down with purpose. Fire spat at Loki’s feet, racing to heat the holy oil trail surrounding him, and cornering the beast once and for all.

Loki’s face dropped.

Realisation violently snapped the concern right off his face. He closed his eyes to take a steadying breath and for a long moment, he remained silent.

Then, feigning calm, he put his every effort into keeping his voice measured, and hissed, “I thought we'd already been through this Sam.”

“Yeah, we have.” The hunter prowled at the edge of the circle; eyeing daggers at the creature. “Y'know, I've run through that moment over and over in my mind and I still don't know why that first trap didn't work.” He pauses and reminds himself of his last attempt to trap Loki. “Sure it was a guessing game, but that's why I was so careful.” His eyes snap up suspiciously to Loki’s. “The more I've been thinking about it, I think I see why.”

“I told you why! You tried to trap me without my Name. Without knowing how!” The Trickster threw up his arms in a dramatic huff. “Sam, come on! Holy oil?! This is ridiculous!”

It was a lie. Sam had his name. Or what he thought was his name at the time.

Hearing him lie to him like this, seeing him avoid his eyes, a wave of violent anger ran over him. “Oh really?” The hunter replied maliciously. “Step out if the circle then.”

“Why are you doing this!?” There came an angry yell of a reply.

“Your knowledge of angels. The amarant. Your energy. It all points to one thing.”

Once again the Trickster huffs but this time he runs his fingers through his hair in hot frustration. Sam’s eyes follow the movement and glares at the other in further suspicion. “I told you, Sam, Trickster's rely on knowledge, it is our job to know things. That's why I had the amarant. And my energy? Energy?! Castiel is weak - we might feel the same because of it." He huffed and threw his hands out in all directions, "You shouldn't be able to feel these things anyway! Maybe it's that psychic-kinetic background of yours but it's all wrong!"

Sam continues to glare at him and barks his reply. “Amarant comes from fallen angels! From their armour.”

“And you think that qualifies me as a fallen angel?” A similarly angry tone meets him in response. “One of Lucifer's army?!”

“It makes sense!”

“How does it?!” A poisonous tone spat at him.

“You - getting so close to me while offering no way of fighting Lucifer.” Sam continued to circle him. “You have his tools, his weapons, you say you are as strong as Cas and yet you insist you won't show up with him around! Why? Because he might recognise you!”

The realisation hits the Trickster’s eyes and he freezes. Fuck. He's trapped. His actions have led to this. Sam might not have it right but no matter which way he thinks about this he will always come to the same conclusion.

So now he was at the mercy of Sam's understanding.

Sam had the upper hand. He could keep him trapped forever. He could reveal him to Michael. To Lucifer.

He was at the mercy of an intelligent hunter, with strong knowledge of angels, and the sting of betrayal coursing through him.

Gabriel decided to try a softer tone. “Sam-”

It works somewhat on Sam, who now replies in frustration rather than pure malice. “Just admit it.”

“I swore I would work with you. Not against you. My identity doesn't change that,” the creature continued to plead.

“So you are an angel!”

“No!” Loki replied pathetically and Sam saw red.

“Then step out of the damn circle!” He yelled his reply but his eyes begged for an end to this.

“I can't!” A childish whine filled his tone.

“Why?!” Sam tried again.

“Because- I-”

“Tell me!”

A moment of pause hits the Trickster.

His eyes dart in every direction, his mouth moves, ready to form another lie. But then instead his eyes close and expose visible strain which the hunter soon capitalises on, "Tell me or I swear to God-"

“My name is Gabriel,” he replies in empty defeat. “I'm Gabriel, okay?”

The realisation of the magnitude of what the other had just admitted hits Sam's eyes first and they widen into golf balls. “Gabriel? The archangel?!”

The creature's eyes open but they remain downcast; he avoids Sam's gaze. “Guilty.”

Gabriel.

The Messenger. The Visionary. The Prophet.

The angel who guarded humans and fought Lucifer arm in arm with Michael in Heaven.

Sam's knowledge of the name flashes through his mind and overwhelming speed but the last point in particular plays on his mind. “So you're on Michael's side?”

“No!” Gabriel's eyes shoot up to meet Sam in a panic. “No, Sam, no please believe me.”

“You lied to me.”

Gabriel shakes off the last comment and continues to plead with him. “No- Yes- I- I have been lying for centuries, Sam.” He pauses to unsuccessfully collect himself. When he begins again the urgency remains in his voice. “My family; they aren't the type you'd want to be around. They are scary; controlling. Surely you can understand that!”

“Sam?” Dean called from around the corner, appearing from around a pile of tires and junkyard cars.

“I thought I told you to stay inside,” Sam snapped at him.

“When you're yelling the place down?! We can hear you two lovebirds over the TV.” Dean moved up from behind Sam and paused there, taking in the scene. “Why've you holy oiled him?”

The two froze. After some time Dean went to speak again but the appearance of a certain angel cut him off before he could question them further.

“Gabriel?” Castiel asked in confusion.

Dean's eyes darted between the pair for answers but they both avoid his eyes, “Like the angel?!"

“Brother,” Gabriel acknowledged gravely.

Dean’s eyes darted demandingly between Cas and his brother but soon came to a halt when both instead honed their judgement toward the angel. The realisation it must be true hits Dean like a tonne of bricks. “Oh, what the fuck…”

“You have been posing as a trickster to the Winchesters. Why?” Castiel ignored the human and began his interrogation.

Gabriel’s gaze snapped to Sam and lingered there. “Tell him,” the hunter demanded.

“The War.” Gabriel sighed and honed in his focus on the younger angel. He spoke without an ounce of joy in his voice.

The younger human fiddled with his fingers to concentrate his outer frustration; despite his anger and his shock at this revelation, seeing his lover so lost and out of character severely stung.

“Michael would not rest. He was scared. We all were. Lucifer tried for power. Father and his so-called Almighty Son left us.” The bitterness of his tone spikes at the mention of God but soon simmers down again and is replaced by despondency. “Raphael began sizing up every angel he passed… Almost every angel was trying to take some form of power. Michael thought I might consider taking his. I didn’t, I wouldn't, but I was the only one who could… He couldn't risk it. He thought to condemn me before I had the chance.”

Castiel scrunched his eyebrows in confusion and turned his head to the side. The comment had clearly perplexed him and so he pressed: “He would do that to his second-in-command?”

“I don't know. Maybe.” Heartache filled his tone. He raised his head and looked to his younger brother with glassy eyes. “Lucifer's punishment was too much. I saw that after the fall.” He turned to Sam now and with every word implored him to understand. “Michael was worried I would fall too. He saw me with humans and he knew I cared too much. He mentioned it - the option of leaving… I couldn't stay anyway, I-”

“I see.” Castiel butts in again, dragging back his brother's attention.

The older angel replied to his brother in a factual tone, “I met Loki. Freed him. He gave me everything I needed to… well to carry on the mantel so to speak.”

“And he was okay with that?” Sam speaks softly.

Honey eyes shoot to his and a layer of hope enters his tone as a result of Sam’s compassion. “He liked the idea. Had affairs of his own to iron out; a crazy weird family dynamic. I maintained his reputation while mine was undercover.”

“But then why get involved again? Even as a Trickster.” Dean jumped in.

“Sam.”

“Me?” The younger hunter asked in bewilderment.

“I knew from the moment I saw you I wanted to know you. Then we spoke. I followed you for some time, watching your adventures, and I… I came to care for you.”

Gabriel winced at his own admission. “I never lied to you, Sam. I didn't think anything would come of it. Obviously, I wanted it to.”

Gabriel took a moment to look to them all individually before continuing with a new topic. “Humans deserve much more than what my brothers’ have planned for you.” Once again, his eyes hone in on Sam, and lock sights with him. “I have stood guard at the Gates of Eden, I have given news of the coming of the Lord and Saviour, and I have watched you and your brother all this time. You are brilliant. You - Sam - you're brilliant. Your soul is as radiant as the brightest star and you care so much. You are, and will be, capable of so much.”

Within a split second, Gabriel looks away and clenches his teeth in anger. “For them to squander that, to go against the word of God, to ignore his message, and destroy something so brilliant -”

Gabriel cuts himself off, realising he was riling himself up and at no one in particular. Decidedly, he turns back to Castiel. “Father was right - they are better than us. They always were. They do not deserve to be hurt by our mistakes. Not again.”

“So if I am to stand as guard of mankind for the second time this millennium I will,” Gabriel announces, and turns again to Sam with an air of finality. “They will not have you. I forbid it.”

Sam simply nods. He has no idea how to answer that. Gabriel, the Archangel, just declared his undying love for him and that he would protect him in any way he could.

What is his life?

But even with the incredibly demanding butterflies soaring through his stomach, the presence of his brother and the younger angel focused him on the issues they still had to tackle. Namely, how to flip the script on this version of Romeo and Juliet.

After a long pause, he decides on a soft tone: “So how are we going to fight them?”

“Or how are you going to fight them more like.” Dean scoffs and his brother shoves an elbow into his side.

Gabriel waits for Sam to finish glaring at his brother before replying. “I can't win against Michael or Lucifer. The War in Heaven taught me that.” The angel tries his damnedest to convey honesty. He knows he is on the back foot here. “My brothers have been fighters all their lives, they were made to be so. I was made a messenger. I have been a commander sure but that is all. I am swift, I am lucky, and I know far more than they do - planning I can do. Swords not so much.”

“Awesome,” Dean replied sarcastically and receives a second round of optic daggers.

Seeing that this isn't inspiring either of the boys, the archangel adds: “Well… there is one thing that might help us. One thing that would make a human un-possessable to an angel.”

Both the boys’ eyes widen. “How?”

“Brother,” Castiel warns and drags out the word. “You think it wise to tell them? Would Sam want that?”

“I want to know.” Sam snapped and the boys encouraged him to continue.

A sigh came from within the fire and the angel turned away from Sam in an effort to keep his voice clear and factual. “It is done with love: when angels bond with their partners, they do so for life. It is looked down upon in Heaven and for one simple reason: the two who bond share their energies, in this case, angel grace and a human soul, to become one being of two hosts.”

“So a human bound to an angel becomes a Nephilim?” Dean chimed in.

“No. A human bound to an angel gives up a small part of their soul and receives a small part of grace in return. That grace makes the human un-possessable, as no angel can possess another angel, and that human would become, by a small amount, part-angel. Though they would have no grace of their own.”

There was a pregnant pause. A dirty thought enters the Winchester's mind. Sam glares toward the archangel, “So you planned to hoodwink me?”

Gabriel’s eyes dart up in anger and glare right back at him. “Do you really think I would do that?”

Sam shrunk under the pain and anger in the angel’s voice and looked anywhere but in his direction. The archangel scrunched his shut eyes and took a moment to do the same. “I wanted to tell you but back at that warehouse I only knew you from watching you. I knew my feelings but-”

Sam nods again and concludes for him: “You didn't know if this could work.”

“It only works out of love.” He reinforced tenderly. “It can’t be forced or tainted in any way.”

Sam went silent, thinking of his words, and his brother cut in harshly. “And what part of this doesn't mean you are working for Michael?”

“I am not!” Gabriel growled back. He took a moment to force down his anger before acknowledging the point. “Yes, it would benefit Michael to have Lucifer's True vessel out of the picture, but is that really a bad thing if it means you are safe?” The angel ignores the older human and turns to the one he cares for. “As I said, Sam, a bond has to be true; it can not be created to manipulate, or to force an agenda, it must be born of pure love.”

He shook his head and sighed. “Look, another reason I didn’t mention it is because a bond of this type must be bound in Heaven. Michael would have to agree to it, or we would have to create one god-like distraction to get away with it.”

“You didn't think it would be possible.” Sam once again concluded.

The angel confirmed his reply with a nod. “As far as I know my brothers want this apocalypse. They want to duke it out… But they are wrong; our Father never agreed to this.” He howled in anger. “He never said to destroy the beings he loves!”

“And he would not.” Castiel agrees, “I see that now.”

Gabriel looks to Sam, and spoke in slow, pure honesty, “You are worth my every effort. I don't know what else could work.”

A long silence became them. So a bond was their best option and they had to get Michael on their side or distract him to get it. That being if their love was true enough, to begin with, to achieve a bond. Setting his mind to work, Sam was already conducting various ways they could distract Michael, and only on the third option did he realise he hadn't questioned the strength of their love at all; Sam simply knew it would work.

From the furious pain he had felt when setting up this trap, to the trust that still runs through him, fighting in Gabriel's defence with every waking moment and aching with every hint of his pain, a deep part of him knew this was it; that this would work. It would save them all.

“It could work.”

“The bond?” Dean asked. Gabriel reared back in a mix of shock and hope.

“Yeah. I mean- I am tainted but-”

“You are in no way tainted, Samuel Winchester,” Gabriel quickly jumped in. There was a subtle spark of hope in his eyes, but the angel kept his voice low and steady. Even now he refused to force Sam into anything, he wanted him to make his own informed choice, and Sam felt himself forgive the Trickster that little bit more. “You have to be sure. We can try a million times but if it does take hold, it is a lifetime deal - no going back.”

“And I am okay with that,” Sam assured him. “I trust you.”

Gabriel's face was priceless. From a dark drained and worried look, a beaming glow appeared first on his eyes and then blossomed in his features. His smile remained subtle but in his body language, warmth and security reappeared. It was as if a thousand-tonne weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

“Easy for you to say - I'm under mood lighting,” he dared to joke.

“Oh right, yeah.” Sam fell into his typical sheepish smile and looked to Dean, who walked across grab the hose from the front of the house.

“We can't rush this.” The archangel reinforced, “If you want to do this. We need to plan it. We need to convince Michael.”

“You say it like you're afraid of him.”

“I am,” Gabriel admitted. “I can't tell what he'll do… I can only hope.”

“And Lucifer?”

Gabriel sighed, and the shine slipped from the corner of his eye, “Honestly? That name brings up more regret than fear.”

Sam nodded and decided to leave the topic alone. Instead, he attempted to lighten the mood: “Wow… I'm dating an archangel.”

“Yes you are,” the angel smirked and turned to dote on his human. “And I am lucky to have you.”

“I should think so too!” Dean chimed in, dragging the hose in from behind him.

Before releasing the creature, he demanded, “No more tricks. No more lies.”

“You got it, Deano.”

And with that, Dean doused a section of the fire, and they all watched as the flames burned out.

Once gone, Sam walked over to the archangel and pulled him into a quick hug, enveloping him with his height. “So we have one solution but it's somewhere between The Hitch and Mission Impossible,” Dean surmised.

The two pulled away from one another and latched hands. “The Hitch?”

“It's one of the only romance movies he knows - Will Smith.”

“Ah.” They smirked at one another and Sam began leading him toward the house. “Better than Doctor Sexy I suppose.”

“Come inside.” He voiced softly, “I know someone who really wants to see you.”

Gabriel simply smiled up at the hunter pulling him along and allowed himself to be dragged away.

Internally, Sam celebrated his triumph; not only did they had a way to defeat Michael and Lucifer but once again his lover had finally proved himself to the others. With an archangel on their side and a possible solution to their issues, the boys could finally enjoy their time together in relative safety.

Chapter Text

Gabriel took to their family very quickly. Jo absolutely adored him; they shared mischievous looks throughout the day and planned tricks against people on a lengthy list of names. He found favour with Ellen and Dean alike for his attitude towards her and time and time again the two joined in conversation with witty comments or shows of sarcastic disapproval. Despite the circumstances and their overly serious situational surroundings, the girl and the angel were as thick as thieves.

Bobby and Castiel, on the other hand, took the watchful approach. Both observed the archangel with great suspicion and more than often their opinions manifested in tuts or concerned looks, particularly as the angel became closer with Samuel.

As was expected, Gabriel spent most of his time with the younger Winchester. Over that familial week together the angel occupied what must have been a third of the time with the Winchester family.

The remainder of his time was spent solely on Sam.

He doted on the hunter, offering him insider knowledge on Michael and Lucifer when they were younger, snapping snacks or full meals into existence for him, blankets, many of which he kept, and making it his overall purpose to be there for him twenty-four seven.

Gabriel was aware that his reveal as an archangel had left him with much work to do with each of the Winchester clan. He had decided to put extra effort into being respectful, into being friendly, and to offer any semblance of help - which definitely included Sam’s growing blanket fort.

That being said, by the end of the week, lingering touches and hooded eyes had become a common part of Sam’s day, leaving the hunter increasingly frustrated as the week went on. So much so, that when Sam noticed the tell-tale buzzwords of a case in a small town just about a day’s drive out, he jolted up to find Dean.

***

Gruesome suicides are what attract the boys across the country this time.

They are FBI. They are pathologists. They are certain they want to maintain a fifty-foot radius between them and this naked-ass Cupid at all times.

Everything seemed clear, despite the chaos, right up until Sam spots a shifty-looking demon. And then Demon blood.

Sam stares at it for far too long. The way it dribbles from the demon’s body in some places and spills from it in others. The way the light reflects off of it less than normal blood The way that it flows out of him in Sam’s direction. Almost as if it knew he was there. Almost as if it was calling for him.

Dean notices how pale his brother has become on his return.

After so long of being free of it, of not even offering it a spare thought, the image of it there in front of him dominated his mind.

They retire to their motel and wait for Castiel to appear, so they can discuss their situation. Sam is sweating the whole time. He yearns for Gabriel. He wishes everything was simpler and they could go back to brushing fingers and blushing like school girls in their blanket fort. Safe and warm; away from the world. But every memory is soaked in red and every little thought stings.

This headache was familiar and it threw him into a wild panic. His heart filled with dread, his head with fear and his soul begged for the comfort the angel would offer.

He sat on his bed and crumbled into himself.

How had one look sunk him so low?

***

Sam had been thinking about the angel all night.

So, when Gabriel appeared that night in their motel and took Sam by the hand, suddenly dragging the hunter from the room without a single explanation, he blushed a vibrant red and felt a deep lust command his body. His brother mocked their steamy departure, noting it with nothing more than an apathetic wolf whistle.

“Probably thinks it’s about time,” Sam thought.

He was marched through the bathroom door and into what could only be the luxury suite of a New York hotel, judging by the visible night sky and bustling nightlife illuminating their view. Staring out the window, Sam is frozen in awe of the sight alone, but not for long as a warm body wraps around him from behind.

“Gabe…” he breathes.

“Hmmm, enough of that.” A mischievous voice commands, and all at once he is turned and launched through the air and back onto a king-sized bed. “Gabe!” He yelped and complained. The bed was incredibly soft, and he melted into it like butter. Or he would have, if not for the angel prowling at the edge of the mattress.

“Samuel,” Gabriel purred, snapping the door shut behind them with a snap of his fingers, and prowling to the end of the bed to drink the sight of Sam eagled out before him. Hands pried his legs open, and an angel stationed himself between them.

The hunter pushed himself up onto his elbows and was met with blown pupils and a predatory gleam. “What are you doing?”

“Enjoying myself,” the angel kept his voice low and suggestive, all the while kneading his thumbs into the meat of Sam's legs and slowly up his thighs. Sam pulled himself up onto a sitting position and came within inches of black-honey eyes. A furious desire reared up from the pit of his stomach. “I've been watching you on and off all day.” Hands grabbed his hips. “The way your eyes change when you see humans ravage each other with the dart of a Cupid. The way your breath hitched... You want that. You want to be worshipped like that. Let me-”

The smaller man launched to Sam's neck, forcing him back down onto the mattress with an onslaught of kisses, nips, and sucks at his skin and down along his collarbone. “Oh god,” Sam moaned and stretched his neck to offer the angel more skin. Instinctively, his arms went to pull the angel in.

Gabriel dragged the hunter back up and moved his hands to below the hunter's thighs, effortlessly lifting him into the air. The hunter yelps and scraps for purchase but the angel soon places him down further up the bed. The two lock eyes and smile heatedly.

“I want you. I've been good. I’ve been patient. Now, I need you.” Gabriel’s lips consumed his and dominated his mouth. Once again, the angel manhandled him, this time into his lap, all while continuing the kiss, and began slowly unbuttoning his shirt. The hunter moans into the kiss. Never before has he been so manhandled; usually he is the one holding, lifting, and destroying his lovers with his attention. Now with the shoe on the other foot, he melts into the angel’s touch and agrees to his every whim without a second thought.

Never before has he been so wrecked so quickly.

He moved his head away to escape Gabriel's intensity, “What- What brought this on?” The question comes from a place of niggling thoughts and almost all interest in his answer completely disappears as the angel clicks his fingers and snaps their shirts out of existence.

“You. It's you. It's always you.” The angel shook his head and moved so the hunter was spread out down on the mattress below him. Gabriel made sure he was between the hunter's legs and purposefully brought his body down flush against the hunter’s and rolled his hips slowly as he continued his reply. “I can't help it. I need you.” He rolled against him again purposefully slowly and purred into his neck, “All of you.”

“Oh- I-,” Sam moaned and rolled back into the other's movement in a daze.

“I need your love. I need your acceptance.” The archangel continued his movements and trailed a finger over Sam's lips before moving to capture the once again. “You make me better. Your love… it's so real,” the angel practically moaned the word and rolled against him once again.

An insatiable hunger burned within him and his body was beginning to betray him, leaving all coherent thought behind in favour of sinful friction.

The angel pulled away and feathered kisses down his throat and toward his heart. Pulling back to view Sam's face in its entirety, he concluded in a sultry tone, “And that love, that acceptance, everything I need, it's all in here.” He ghosted his hand over Sam's heart.

The angel stilled for far too long to be normal and his gaze remained locked on his chest, staring at his ribcage with predatory glee. Like a lion with the gazelle's throat between its teeth. The image popped into the hunter’s mind and his desire wilted abruptly. He knows that look. “Gabe?” The hunter voiced some hesitant concern.

Soon the angel's hand started to tingle the skin under it, then came a sharp pain, and then suddenly, it burned. It burned like a blowtorch held right against his chest and he screamed.

“Gabe stop!” The hunter yelled, fighting to get the angel off him. He failed wildly at his arms, chest, and soon his face. Still, the angel's pupils remained blown and unnatural.

They would not look away. It terrified him.

Only with all his strength could Sam dislodge the hand from his chest. He jumped up and captured the angel’s lips, using the distraction to flip them, and force his hand from the scarred skin.

The angel moaned, and his hands clamped onto his hips, dragging him down in repeated motions.

It was a dream. It was his worst nightmare. His sinful touch was savage and relentless. It was not loving, nor gentle. It wasn't Gabriel.

Rolling out of the grip in one solid move, Sam scrambled to get from the bed, and made a start for the door, only to hear the echo of a snap and have the monster block his exit.

“Stop this!” Sam cried in frustration. He looked in all directions for some form of escape and kept distance between himself and the creature. His chest was on fire.

“Stop what?! Stop loving you?” This version of Gabriel yelled in agony, “stop needing you?” It edged closer and he edged back.

Sam's eyes darted around for a second time like crazy for an escape but he saw nothing. Instead, a thought popped into his mind and at the very same instant, a distant firework flew over New York and lit the sky a red-purple mix. Adamant.

Gabriel had given them to him - like a forcefield just under the skin he said. Like armour, protecting him from this spell!

He looked to find the petals, praying they would have some effect against whatever mind control Gabriel had fallen to.

Spotting the bottle sitting happily on his shirt atop a chest of drawers, where they sat folded from Gabriel's earlier snap, Sam changed the direction of his retreat and began slowly backing up away from the beast and toward the vial necklace.

“You don't need me, you're an archangel.”

“It was all so lonely without you Sam. Nobody knew me. Not as me. You accepted me. You gave me a chance to be good again.” The angel crept forward with every word and implored the other madly.

Turning and kneeling with lightning speed, Sam dropped and grabbed the adamant vial. The instant he jumped back up, this version of Gabriel had come to within inches of him and forcefully grabbed at his arm. “What is this?” It demanded. Sam winced from his vice-like grip.

“Petals from a flower- Our flower. I thought we should both eat a petal…” Sam replied nervously. He attempted to keep his voice steady. “A toast! T-To celebrate our love.”

“Oh.” The creature stared at the petals for some time and must have recognised it as something good within Gabriel's mind because he released Sam’s arm slowly and smiled at Sam lovingly, who feigned a smile back. ”Yes. Yes, of course.”

Sam nodded and took out the midnight petal with great care before handing it to him in the same way a man would give steak to a lion. The beast leaned in for a peck of his lips, which the hunter froze to receive, and swallowed the petal in one fellow swoop.

Deep within the blackness of his pupils, a momentary purple glow spun. Flying outward, it engorged all colour and shrank back to size within an instant. With it, his pupils receded and his eyes found their honey colour once again.

For a moment he was frozen as this all occurred in his eyes. Then the angel stepped back and sluggishly placed a hand on the hunter's arm for purchase.

“Sam?”

“Oh, thank god,” he let out the breath he had been holding and dragged the other into a tight hug.

“Where are we?” A tired voice muffled against Sam's chest.

“Doesn't matter. You're you.”

Gabriel pulled away from their hug, so he could face Sam. His expression was full of concern. “What have I missed?”

“A Cupid is messing with people in a small town. He is making lovers kill each other. You were trying to pull out my heart, he must have-”

“Can't be a Cupid if it got one over on me.” Gabriel cut in. “Higher tier of angel, darling.”

“But if not a Cupid, what?”

He thought for a moment and then replied. “Famine.”

“Famine?”

Gabriel nods and looks to Sam’s naked chest with a sheepish smile. “Hello, abs…” He pulls back further from their hug and notices the burns across his chest for the first time. His smile drops. “Sam-” his voice spilt back into concern, this time mixed with sorrow and guilt, “Sam, I hurt you.”

“No, I-”

“Shut up.” Gabriel cuts him off, placing a hand over the skin to heal it before moving further away from the boy.

“Gabriel, it's not your fault.”

“Look. I would love to go through it all with you... Or to pick up on where this was going.” Gabriel makes a suggestive look and points his finger between Sam's shirtless-ness and the bed. “But I hurt you tonight and I think we both know what I was after.” Gabriel's hand makes imitates clutching a beating heart for a moment until the angel shakes it off in disgust. “The Amarant will only keep me out of Famine's spell for a short time. I need you to trap me.”

“Trap you?”

“Yes.” Gabriel agrees dejectedly. “Otherwise I will come for you again.”

Sam shook his head and frowned. “How?”

“I will give you angel cuffs powerful enough to lock down any angel, even an archangel. You need to put them on me as soon as we are back at the motel,” Gabriel commanded.

“With them on I can't hurt you. Not by using my grace anyway and I'm pretty sure I'd be weaker than you as a cuffed human.”

Sam agreed with a cheeky nod and smile. Gabriel rolled his eyes.

“Alright. Let's do it.”

The two shared an awkward smile and Gabriel snapped a pair of handcuffs into existence. He carefully handed them to Sam and snapped their shirts back on for good measure.

“The symbols are Enochian.”

“I guessed,” Sam replied gently, moving forward to take the angel's hand. The hunter swiped a thumb over his knuckles and looked him with warm affection. “You okay?”

Gabriel took in a sharp breath. “Just do it.”

“It will be okay. Trust me.”

“I do.” Gabriel released a small smile and Sam gleamed back at him.

Purple flashed like a shooting star across his pupils and their smiles broke. Gabriel snapped at the door, opening it to their motel, before turning back to Sam, presenting his wrists for cuffing. “Quickly!

The handcuffs were snapped onto one wrist and the other in lightning speed.

Gabriel winced as if he had been struck but Sam followed the movement and pulled him in. The hunter leaned in to kiss Gabriel on the forehead. “We'll work this out. Whatever this is. I promise”

Gabriel looked at the cuffs and up to Sam in a single heart-breaking look. He nodded mutely.

The hunter pulled the angel into a long and final hug before they turned to make their way back to the motel.

Sam sure hoped he was right.

***

A guilty part of Sam was happy that Gabriel was here at all, even though chained. Their moment wasn’t perfect, far from it, but still the heated looks from Gabriel, however perverse, had left a warm feeling in his core.

The two dropped back into the motel to meet the intrigued gazes of Dean and Castiel.

“You are handcuffed.” The younger angel noted dumbly.

“You are eating.” The other replied, mocking his tone.

The brothers looked at each other for answers. “Famine,” the boys explained at the same time and their expressions formed a similar scrunched confused look.

The angels ignored them. “Enochian. Sam. And you?”

“My vessel, Jimmy. His hunger for red meat has been touched by Famine’s effect.”

“So, this whole town is just gonna eat, drink, and screw itself to death?”

“We should stop it,” Sam insists.

“Yeah, that's a great idea.” The sarcasm of this reply comes as no shock to anyone in the room. “How?”

With the younger angel's help, Dean recounts their defeat of War and resolves to cut off this new horseman's finger the same as the last. The two bicker in wry humour for some time before the older human turns to his brother.

In contrast to his brother Sam shows signs of suffering throughout their conversation and Gabriel's worried eyes remain on him as he uses a flannel to cool down the feverish heat rising from his neck and face.

“Oh shit.” Gabriel clocks on and Sam whips his head around to stare daggers at the angel. His shoulders crumble and he holds up his cuffed hands in mock surrender.
Dean catches the exchange. “What's going on?” He asks sharply.

“Dean I- I can't I'm-” Sam tries and stumbles weakly back into the archangel. The younger hunter groans and leans into the smaller figure for support.

“He's not going with you,” the angel finishes for him.

“Shut it. You don’t speak for him.” Dean snaps at Gabriel. His frustration turns to worry as his eyes dart to Sam. “Sammy, what's going on?”

“I think it got to me, Dean. I think I'm hungry for it...”

“Hungry for what?” He asks with caution.

“You know.”

“Demon blood?”

Sam hangs head and the question is answered.

“You gotta be kidding me.” Dean turned back to Gabriel and implored him. “You need to get him out of here. You got to beam him to… I don't know, somewhere; anywhere but here!”

“I can't.” Gabriel lifted his cuffed hands once again.

Dean nodded and turned to the other angel. “Cas?”

“It won't work.” The usual monotone replied. “He's already infected. The hunger is just gonna travel with him.”

“What now then?”

“You go cut that bastard's finger off.”

Dean nodded. “You heard him.”

“But, Dean…” Sam interrupted with eyes downcast. “Before you go, you better… you better lock me down - but good.”

“You can't be serious,” Dean replied in frustration for his brother and turned to Gabriel for a solution. “You have to be able to do something here, right?!”

“I wish.” The angel swiftly replied before noticing the desperation in Dean's eyes. He stopped, sighed, and continue in a softer and more helpful tone. “We give him amarant - enough for twenty-four hours of protection from outside forces but he'll still crave it - Famine has already touched him.”

“How are you coping so well then?” Dean snapped.

“Sammy gave me amarant and then locked my grace within these cuffs. Famine's effect doesn't reach me this way… though I have no angelic power so it’s not exactly what I would call coping-”

“Alright, whatever.” Dean huffed and turned away from the angel. “Some protection is better than nothing; give Sam the damn petal and stay with him.”

“Sir yes, sir.”

The older Winchester nodded sharp approval at Gabriel and moved to grab a pair of handcuffs from their bags. They positioned Sam in the motel bathroom, sitting on the floor, and locked to the sink piping. They all knew it wouldn't hold him if he really wanted to get out, but they all hoped he wouldn't. “There. Now you're both cuffed.”

“Kill it, Dean.” Sam exuded anxiety. “And quickly.”

“Sure, can do.” Dean gathered their supplies together and stopped at the door to reply to his brother. “See you later bitch.” And then to Gabriel. “Other bitch.”

“Jerk.” Sam softened against the wall and closed his eyes. Gabriel stood in the doorway and watched over him, ignoring Dean’s comment.

He watched as Dean left, followed closely by Castiel.

For a while, the two stayed in absolute silence.

Chapter Text

“Is it bad to say you look good like this?” A cheeky voice broke the ice. It hadn't been long since the other two had left but the mix of tension and anxiety for them to return extended every minute of their wait in excruciating silence.

Previously dead silent, Sam found himself releasing a full loving smile at its source. Thank god for Gabriel. Without him here he might have already reduced himself to counting the bathroom tiles by now.

“Cuffed to the sink?” He countered with a shit-eating grin. “Kinda.”

The angel audibly shrugged and came into the bathroom. His movements were more sluggish than usual, something Sam attributed to being the fault of the cuffs, yet he still found a way to gracefully get to down onto his knees and lift his hands to have one brush the human's cheek.

“It's forward of me to say but..." Gabriel pulled back and locked onto Sam's eyes with a warm and all-consuming gaze, "I can’t wait to be bonded to you.”

The boldness of that statement had Sam blushing.

The angel smirked and released a short huff of content victory before pulled away.

Gabriel had kept the methods of their bonding to himself for now, and typically Sam would use this time to ask more questions, but at that moment he was too anxious; his thirst was beginning to dominate him.

Black eyes, blood, and dune smoke filled his mind. He cringed at his own thoughts and tried to physically shake them out of himself.

Gabriel is here. Dean and Cas are going to fix this. Once they do we can all move on.

“Want anything? Hungry? Thirsty?” After that first touch, the angel sat back on his heels and stared at the human for a while.

“Gabriel,” Sam struggled, “you're too good to me.”

“Sam-”

“Water- water,” he cut him off with urgency, “please.”

The angel shook his head and put a mask of confidence on. “On it.” He winked light-heartedly and dragged himself to his feet, launching himself out of the room to find a glass.

Sam noted that Gabriel had been acting increasingly helpful since their scenario earlier that day. He guessed he was feeling guilty for hurting him. It was surprising really when you take Mystery Spot or those Japanese Adverts into account. He really was changing.

From the bathroom, Sam heard Gabriel open draws way too gently, then all together too quickly, drop things all over the place, and curse to himself under this breath.

“Sounds real graceful in there,” Sam yelled over.

“Shut up!” Gabriel huffed and Sam laughed. He had clearly opened the right cupboard for the glasses, as evidenced by the tell-tale creek, and had gone to pick up a glass when: An unfamiliar voice echoed through the motel room.

“Move!” Various footsteps. The door not been forced open: this was something supernatural.

“Shit!” Gabriel cried and the hunter thought he heard the glass fly off the counter and smash to the floor. Whoever was home; it wasn't Cas or Dean.

There was a struggle. “No!” From what Sam could tell, Gabriel ran in all different directions, threw things at them, kicked at things, but none of it was enough.

He was still cuffed after all.

“Gabe? Gabe! What's happening?”

It was quiet for a while and Sam realised they must have caught him. Harsh whispers bounced off the walls. They were threatening him too.

“Ah," A pair of beady, smug black eyes edged from around the door. "there you are…”

"Get away from h-!" Gabriel yelled only to be muffled once again by another demon.

“Look at this. Someone trussed you up for us.” The demon snarled at Sam become cackling to her counterpart, who viciously yanked at the archangel's chains. “And lookie-here, an angel too!” The other dragged Gabriel over to her despite his struggling. Glass was sticking out of various points of his arm. “Powerless.” She digs her claws into his neck, drawing blood, and the angel clinched his teeth. “Boss will like this. He says we can't kill you. Won't stop us having fun with you.”

The demons eye up one another for a moment before the male demon launches Gabriel across the room and watches as the angel slams into the opposite wall.

"Gabe!" 

"Shut up!" The male demon makes the mistake and into leaning down to break Sam's cuffs and drag him up himself. Sudden and violent, the hunter throws himself at the demon, slamming him into the shower wall and momentarily immobilising him. Without a pause for breath, Sam had launched himself on the female demon with animalistic rage.

Sam tackled the female demon and slammed her down onto the glass table at the room's centre.

Gabriel scrambled on the floor like a fish out of water to turn to watch Sam. He groaned, kicked, and manoeuvred himself closer to the outer wall so he could at least turn himself around to watch it all.

Meanwhile, latching onto the largest shard of glass he could spot, Sam focused all his strength into striking hard and fast, sinking the sharp point of his weapon into the demon's throat.

Blood gushed from her neck and Sam froze. His mind went hazy and his skin began to itch; every dark idea came alive from the recesses of his mind and infected his thoughts.

Blood. Demon blood.

He latched on to the shard, and twisted, ignoring the demon's screams.

Blood. Power. Need.

He paws at the shard and yanks it out.

Sweat drips down this throat and his throat dries in record speed.

Gabriel uses the hard wall to turn and watch his human.

Sam pants. His pupils dilate.

So thirsty. Need. Now.

 

The glass shard drops to the wooden floor and Sam launches himself at her neck.

His lips seel around her wound and his fingernails bite into her sides. She screams louder and lashes at his sides.

New senses return to his mind; an incredible power fills his every muscle. A dark satisfaction grows and wakes the jet black beast within. It purrs in contentment.

With lightning speed he breaks her arms and stops her fighting, drinking her dry until the sack of bones folds and clutters to the floor.

Finally.

He swipes at the air behind him and throws the other demon aside. The beast licks its lips and he kneels to lap at the lifeless shell of the first demon.

He can feel the blood drying on his chin and he loves it. They love it.

Hunching low he circles around the body on all fours, eyeing it thirstily. Stopping still at the perfect angle, a quick hand snaps forward, breaking her rib and reaching through her chest and to her heart. Clawed fingers pulled it out into the cool air.

Black pupils spot his target. One last drop of demon blood rolls over the dead organ. It's very last drop.

Leaning low to capture the sweet red nectar, he locks eyes with the angel and cracks into a predatory smile.

Strong. Safe. Loved.

***

Lucifer.

He looked just like him; after the fall.

Contorted and beautiful.

Gabriel refused to show the beast any outward fear.

Sam was much more powerful than him at this moment, their roles over the course of some hours had completely reversed, and he didn't want to give him any reason to doubt their established trust.

In reality, if the archangel was to be entirely honest with himself, he was absolutely terrified. This monster, this beast before him, it knew him like no other in existence. It loved him and it was in pain.

Dried blood framed its loving smile. He wished he could look away but he couldn't show weakness, not now.

“Sam?” The angel called. “Please stop.” His voice cracked and the beast noticed it too.

“Gabriel, love. I can't.”

“Please.” He begged. His thoughts snapped to the bond in a frenzy to offer him any remanence of hope. Michael would notice this method, especially on Earth, and it wouldn’t be a full bond, not until they completed it in Heaven, but who cared? For a bond they needed to share soul and grace; in summary, and for right now, Sam would need to consume his grace.

“Have my grace instead!”

“Yeah! Listen to him!” The male demon shouted back and Sam glares at him. Splaying his fingers, he used his telekinesis to snap his wrist to the side and closed his fist in one sharp motion that had the demon howling in agony.

Gabriel cringed and shut his eyes as he heard the crunch, and then silence. The demon was out cold.

“Please. Please, Sam. Don't do this again.” He continued to beg. Gabriel raised his voice. The predator turned his head to the side and began to crawl toward him. “You decide. You're mine or you're theirs…”

Its lack of response raised his nerves. Sam continued to creep closer. “Famine is playing you. Please!” The angel growled in frustration. He pushed himself fully upright against the wall at great effort and hissed at the bruises repainting his vessel’s skin; he closed his eyes against the effort and pain of his new wounds.

The instant he opened them again the beast appeared inches away from his face. Gabriel forced himself not to startle. It was watching him intently.

“Your blood?” A deep animalistic tone replied, the smell of fresh blood lingering on his breath.

“No, Sam. My grace. Take the cuffs off. You can have it. My grace. Yours." He replied in swift desperation. "Kill that demon but don't feed on him, I beg you.”

“I could… or just take every last drop… by force.” The beast made no move yet. His eyes grew in intensity. Gabriel pushed back into the cold wall.

“You could. You could drink me dry and I couldn't do a thing about it. But you want me. Not just my grace. It would be a waste.” Gabriel insisted nervously. “Wouldn't want that.”

“Mmm.” Sam mindlessly agreed and leaned in to kiss Gabriel hard. It came out of nowhere but the angel didn't try to fight it. The beast forced his domination, brutally took his pleasure, and darted back at the first sound of the angel's enjoyment.

Gabriel kept his eyes on the beast. Why had he enjoyed that? What the hell? He kept an eye on it's every movement and quashed the fear inside of himself. Sam wouldn't hurt him, demon blood or not.

“You taste nice too." The beast leaned in again to lick the blood away from Gabriel's lips. It pulled back when the angel flinched and glared at him. "Your grace is not necessary. Come, my angel. We must meet Famine.”

“Gladly,” Gabriel whispered. He held his breath as the beast held his glare.

Claws darted forward and held his chin in a vice-like grip. It watched for any sign of Gabriel's hesitation.

Fuck fuck fuck. Stay calm, stay calm.

Satisfied he saw nothing, the beast took off to find his target, killing the remaining demon with a flick of his wrist and leaving angel to stumble after what remained of his human.

***

“Let him go.” Dark eyes met his.

The beast within him purred at the familiarity.

“Sam.”

He heard an echo of a yell from his brother but focused on the demons edging forward to attack. The beast compelled him to lick at the dried blood at his maw. It was hungry and dinner was approaching.

“Stop! No one lays a finger on this sweet little boy.” Famine commanded. “Sam, I see you got the snack I sent you.”

Confusion hits him and shakes him from his stupor. “You sent?” He questions with great effort.

“Don't worry. You're not like everyone else. You'll never die from drinking too much.” The creature gleams at him. “You're the exception that proves the rule. Just the way Satan wanted you to be.”

At his brother's side a figure darts back as if it had been struck by those words. Gabriel. His eyes implored him. Dug deep into his soul and begged his attention. Sam's attention.

“So…” Famine lifted his hands and gestured at the demons guarding him. “...cut their throats. Have at them!”

His brother yelled again and a voice calls his name. This time it is clearer. Dean. Gabriel. Castiel. They were all here for him.

“Please, be my guest.”

Sam gaze snapped back to the creature demanding his attention. Lifting his hand, he closed his eyes and listened to the purrs of his internal beast as all five demons were torn from their hosts. He could feel the smoke that pooled at his feet and it filled the room.

Famine waited and waited - expecting him to gorge their energy.

It would be so easy... but...

“No.”

“Well…” The creature lifted an eyebrow but does not question it. “Fine,” he huffed, “If you don't want them - then I'll have them.”

Black, grey, and silvery smoke circled Famine at the rims of his wheelchair. Flicking his wrist in a circular motion, round and to his mouth, the smoke followed his command and flows through silvery-blue lips down and into his core.

He devoured them with an insatiable hunger until finally, once finished, he turned his malicious gaze onto Sam, who had refused his offer and then childishly rose his hand at him in an attempt to harm him with his meagre excuse for power.

“I'm a Horseman, Sam,” He chided. “Your power doesn't work on me.”

“You're right.” Sam agreed, but instead of fear, it was murderous satisfaction that became his expression. “But it will work on them.” Sam honed in on the demonic energy trapped within the creature and ripped it out in one violent crack.

Famine screamed.

Blood dripped to the floor. Sam's blood. But it is worth it, his beast reminds him, to see the Famine explode from the force of the demonic souls escaping him. A carcass is left slumped in his chair. His eyes swim empty in their sockets and he smiled maliciously at the corpse.

Echoes of a distant purr fill his ears.

***

Sam screams. He screams and screams and screams. Again… and again… And again. It never ends.

“Let me out of here, please! Help!”

The remainder of Team Free Will stand all outside the room. All three of them lean up against wall pillars. Dean and Gabriel avoid eye contact with Castiel, who stares at the two relentlessly in shifts.

“Dean! Dean! Gabe, please! Let me out!”

“That's not him in there.” Castiel's reminded the older Winchester, who twitched at the calm mention of his name. “Not really.”

Dean closes his eyes and takes in a long breath before answering the angel, his voice laboured. “I know.”

Harsh bangs followed by primitive whines force Gabriel's eyes to shoot up to stare at the door for a moment and then over to Dean. He is struggling to listen just as much as he is.

“The way he looked at me…” Gabriel starts but he is unable to complete the sentence. The two look away from one another.

“Sam just has to get it out of his system.” Castiel's attempted to assure them both but a glance between the other two confirms it isn't working. At least by this point, Gabriel had the cuffs off; if he had still had them around his wrists he would probably look just as tired as Dean did by that point. “Then he’ll be -”

“Listen, I just, uh-” Dean struggles to find the words as he hears another yell from his brother. His eyes turn to Gabriel in a look of lost desperation that the angel recognised all too well. He had seen it on angels after the Fall, on Sam when he started the Apocalypse, and now on Dean.

He got the message within an instant- Dean needed away from here, now.

With a snap, they were out in the scrapyard.

A sky full of stars greets them. Gabriel was not sure how he felt about that.

Gabriel turned to the hunter and moved to speak but the Winchester just shook his head and turned away.

He watched the man take a few aimless steps, kick a tire, and look up in prayer.

Dean was lost, that much was clear. They all were to some extent.

“He is not Lucifer and he's not a demon,” Gabriel spoke aloud to reassure Dean. Dean's shoulders rise in surprise at the sudden interruption to their silence but soon slump back to how they were before. “He will be your brother again soon.”

“And this ‘bond’,” he asked tentatively and turns to lock glassy brown eyes with Gabriel's, “It will save him?”

“Yes. It would. But it's his choice.” Gabriel clicked his fingers and summoned a blanket. He carefully approached the older Winchester and draped it over Dean's shoulders to grudging acceptance. “It isn't hopeless Dean... Even if it was - you love one another… He would do anything for you; Mystery Spot proved that.”

“Don't mention Mystery Spot. I'm still mad at you for that.” Dean returned in a playful huff and wrapped his arms tightly in the blanket. Gabriel laughed at the lack of conviction in his tone and Dean cracked a small smile too. He sniffled gently and turned to hide his eyes from the angel.

“You know, I'm not sure how much Sam told you about that.” Gabriel's started. “I must have killed you a hundred times in round one, but the second time - on that Wednesday? He chased me for six months straight to save you.”

“Damn right he did.” Dean sniffed and looked over his shoulder at the angel with a smile. “That's my Sammy.”

“As I said, he loves you.”

“He’s my baby brother,” Dean confirmed flatly. Gabriel raised an eyebrow at his tone and watched the human as his mind ran away with itself. He could only begin to imagine the memories flashing through the human’s mind. Whatever they were, they made the man crack into the most honest smile he had ever seen him achieve. Gabriel looked away and thought of Sam as well. His oh-so-human loveable dork. The angel hid a warm smile similar to the hunter's.

Dean snapped himself out of it but maintained a hint of that smile when addressing the angel. “The way he looks at you, Gabriel…” His smile finally gave up on him and honesty split out: “God I hope you can save us. I know it's unfair to pin all our hopes on you, and we're not, not all of them… but most of them. You must know that.”

“Yeah, I do.” Gabriel's smile left him too. Whatever Dean needed to say he had a funny feeling he was about to hear it.

“And I know you need love to make this thing work. You must almost be there right?” Dean implored. Both were shocked at their words but this was the best conversation they had achieved yet and the frankness of it gave them both overwhelming assurance.

“That's up to Sam,” Gabriel replied tersely and sighed. He might as well be honest with the human. “Well not entirely… He scared me today, Dean. He isn't himself.”

“My baby brother scared an archangel,” Dean pulled the blanket off of his shoulders and looked over to Gabriel with a smug smile. So he was feeling better then. Of course, it would be honesty and angelic embarrassment that would cure him, figures.

“That he did.” The angel mirrored the brother's smile. There was a silence between them for some time; Dean had turned away from him and had looked up to the stars.

Good lord, he hated the stars. It was Heaven, everywhere he went, they were the same. Still, they were beautiful.

After some time alone with his thoughts, Dean smiled lightly and shook his head. “Come on," he called back to the angel.

Dean began to trudge back toward the house and Gabriel soon followed. It was clear from his tone that that was the end of that conversation.

But despite it all, Gabriel smiled to himself; somehow, from fighting about every little thing they had become the support each of them needed.

Once inside, Dean threw the blanket to the sofa and opened a beer for Gabriel.

“Now that's more like it,” the angel voiced playfully and watched as Dean opened his own beer, raising it toward the angel. A smile joined his. “Next time with Sam.”

“Next time.” Gabriel agreed. He raised his glass to gently clink with the hunter’s and together they drunk the night away.

Chapter Text

Sam Winchester: Gabriel seriously please

Sam Winchester: Come home

It had been a week. That damn amarant petal protected him from hurting himself throughout that week but only extended his suffering two days longer than usual. According to Dean, over the week Castiel hammered on about God and after four days of non-stop God-talk, the archangel blew up and vanished. The argument came as a shock to Cas but the older Winchester had seen it coming; each time he had broached the topic Gabriel’s jaw tightened and his eyes closed until finally, he burst.

“You should have seen it, Sammy,” Dean explained in wicked excitement over a beer, “He neutered him.”

“I don’t understand why he would not want to find him. Why he will not consider him an option.”

Dean shook his head and smiled knowingly at his brother. From what Sam could gather, the angel had been a broken record for the last three days of his incarceration. Dean seemed to find it hilarious, “He was awesome Sam. Literally ‘thunder-lightning’ ‘wrath of a god’-type awesome.”

“Where is he?” Sam rasped; his throat was still sore from earlier that week.

“He mentioned he had some stuff to do with the Pagans,” Dean replied flippantly. He was unclearly uninterested in the topic and would have much preferred a reaction to his previous comments.

“But he hasn’t come back?”

“No,” Castiel replied this time while Dean shrugged his answer instead, “He has not returned. I- I want to apologise. I did not know the topic of our Father was-”

“He’ll come back,” Dean cut in, “you being locked up was rough on us both, Sam. You scared him.”

“Me?” Sam’s tone filled with dread.

Dean nodded and swigged his beer. “He was cuffed remember. And you were...” he made a shapeless gesture with his hands.

“Yeah… OK.” Sam sighed and looked down at his beer. Fuck. He’d scared Gabriel. He had seen him at his worst. As a monster.

“Don’t beat yourself up about it.” Some compassion made its way to Dean’s eyes. “He was good you know? The first night was rough on us all. He helped.”

Dean didn’t say it all but Sam got the idea and offered his brother a small smile. Gabriel had clearly looked after his brother while he wasn’t himself. Sam knew it would have been hard on his brother to listen to him thrashing and screaming in the bunker.

A wave of pride and affection for his lover surfaced from deep within his core. He looked down to his phone again and indulged himself in another message.

Sam Winchester: I miss you. Be careful

Dean pulled his attention away from his mobile moments later. "Come on Sammy, let's get on another hunt, you and me."

The two smiled at each other with a hint of caution and Sam gulped down his beer. "I'll start packing."

***

It wasn't the best idea he had ever had; trudging into the lion's den.

Kali, the Creator and the Destroyer, vain, manipulative, she was everything Gabriel had ever desired, before Sam that is. She was the dark to Sam's light; his love and compassion would only ever be equalled only to her scorn.

It had been clear to the angel ever since the Winchester had considered the option to trust Gabriel; to convince him rather than overcome him. Where he employed compassion, she would only ever think to maim and destroy. Her chief weapon was pain. Sam's: love.

“Get out.”

Gabriel rolled his eyes and snapped a rose into existence. He stood at her door as the perfect gentleman. Stylish black suit, bow-tie, hair gelled back, and his most romantic tone all warmed up for tonight's performance. “Humour me.” He walked slowly into the room and offered her the rose in a small bow.

She stared at it sceptically. “Why should I?”

“You know you want to,” Gabriel twisted the rose between his fingers, stepping closer.

“I'm not interested,” the deity hissed and plucked the rose out from his grasp, turning away to move to another part of the room.

“Good.” The angel smirked. “Neither am I.”

The danger was Kali's intelligence. She was manipulative and he was almost certain a touch from him might reveal some grace or energy similar to that Sam had noticed before, especially after recent flower-related fiascos. This time he needed to play coy.

“What do you want?” Red lips demanded.

“Information. A simple catch up. A friendly meal. Take your pick.”

“For nothing in return?” She mused, staring down at the rose.

“Oh Kali, my dear.” A deep affection entered his tone. He couldn't help it. “I'm sure there is something I can offer.”

“The Winchesters.”

“Ah. Of course. So that is her game.” Gabriel thought to himself. He kept a check on his reactions. He would not give her anything that could make her his enemy.

“I am familiar.”

“They are the vessels of Michael and Lucifer.”

Gabriel huffed and rolled his eyes, acting all together disinterested in the simple questioning but internally he worried: asking easy questions first is her tactic to building up to the more interesting, hard-hitting questions. Doing this brought her victims into a false sense of security. The easier the opening questions, the quicker they begin to answer, and then later on when the tricky questions come, they slip. She already knew too much for his liking so what could she be building up to? “That they are.”

The deity's eyes snapped to his and froze him in place with great scrutiny. “Where are they?”

“Ah. Cutting right to the chase I see…” Gabriel smirked, jumping up into action and snapping some candles alight before casually sauntering between furniture of her dark room. “They flit around the country from case to case in a beaten up old Impala.” He came to a stop dramatically in front of her. “Why are you so interested in a couple of humans?”

“They will lead me to the angels,” Kali reached out toward him but he stepped away before her fingers got too close. He would not be manipulated. He was the Winchesters’ only chance and he would not be revealed.

“Kali, we can't defeat them.”

“‘We’?” Kali reared back and snarled at him. “ I created this world and I will end it. Not you nor your children.”

“Leave the kids out of this darling.” He snarked back. It was common knowledge Kali despised stories of Ragnarok, of which multiple of the real Loki’s children are prophesied to be accountable for, and so it was a sour point in their relationship. But now and again meetings with Odin warmed her right back up to him. The man was more boring than a plank of wood and a complete let down considering all the war stories he takes part in. A meeting with him would make anyone, god or not, root for his demise.

Gabriel continued, “These angels - they want to fight each other. Not end the world.”

“But they will end it.” She was beginning to sound like Sam. Gabriel shook his head, half at her and half at himself for allowing the comparison to go through his mind.

“So what will you do?” He asked gently.

“I must gain their attention.”

“Ah.” Her plan all became clear. Trap the boys, hurt them even, get them close to death and the angels would come running. The only flaw there is she actually believed she would defeat Michael or Lucifer in a straight fight. Typical Easterners.

“Yes. And you will not get in my way,” she snapped at him and released a fiery glare in his direction.

“Duly noted,” Gabriel released the breath he was holding and forced himself to ignore how amazingly sexy Kali looked when she was mad. “And out of interest, what does my dear old Dad think of all this?”

“Odin is pathetic.” She released a sultry smirk. She was playing him, or more specifically she was playing Loki, and her every syllable accentuated this fact. “He is no leader. He rules nothing and no one. None of them do. I must take the reins if we are to get together and stand against these-”

“Pretty boys with wings,” he finished for her and she smiled at him, holding the rose to her heart and nodding slowly.

“Damn,” the angel thought and watched her body move.

*Buzz*

Sam.

*Buzz* *Buzz*

Oh thank the lord, thank you Sam.

“Somewhere else to be?” Red lips curved and a nose scrunched in disapproval. She must have known she had him around her finger right up until that moment. Gabriel mentally slapped himself. How could he be so easily manipulated?

“It seems so.” He smirked down at Sam's loving messages. “So sorry to cut this short my darling.”

“I am not your anything,” she hissed and turned her back on him.

“Always a pleasure,” he kept his tone light and raised his fingers, ready to snap himself out of this infernal place.

***

“You called?” Gabriel snapped himself into the apartment in his fancy tux with his back turned to the main room. At a leisurely pace, Gabriel threw his mobile into a chair by the entrance of the door and stripped himself of his over-jacket, turning to face the main room, “I must say your message was quite the pick me u- Oh fuck.”

There at the centre of the room lay the bodies of the Winchesters. Both dead. Both covered in blood.

“They have been this way for some time Gabriel.”

Gabriel ignored him and darted across to Sam. How had this happened so quickly? His vessel’s heart skipped a beat. His mind raced. He reached for Sam’s fingers.

He must have spoken because Castiel continued, “Hunters came a few hours ago.”

“No,” his voice sounded small to himself. He shook his head and brushed a hand through his hair, trying anything to push back the panic flowing through him.

“They’re in Heaven.”

“Fuck.” Gabriel paced at Sam’s bedside, “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Castiel stared at his brother for some time before taking a small step into the room. “Gabriel-”

The archangel snapped out of his pacing and ran over to the chair by the door, grabbing his suit jacket and throwing it over his shoulders. “I’m going after them.”

“Gabriel no-” Castiel followed his brother, “we can talk to them from here.”

“Talk?” He glared in his brother’s direction and threw up his arms in hot frustration. “All of Heaven will be out for them, Cas!”

“We need to be logical about this.”

“They’re in danger.”

“Gabriel.” Castiel stepped forward and grabbed Gabriel’s arm before he turned to exit the door. “Michael will spot you. We can’t risk this.”

The shook his head and pulled his arm free. “Keep talking to them.”

“You are their only hope!”

“I know.” Gabriel snapped his wings out to full extension and took flight. Past comets and dying stars, wings of gold weaved up, up, and further still, to Paradise.

***

Fireworks burst in all directions, painting a raven night sky in vibrant shades of nostalgia. Dean enjoys the moment, his little brother’s smile, before the crack of a firework snaps him back into reality.

“Dean!” The radio shrills in a scratchy voice.

“Uh… Cas?”

“Yeah, it’s me.”

Castiel grabs his attention and explains that this isn’t a dream, he is dead, and this is Heaven.

As soon as the realisation hit Dean, a deep violet-red streak split across the darkness overhead, revealing a galaxy of stars unfamiliar to him. “Heaven? How did I get to Heaven.”

“Please, listen,” the radio commands with a scratchy tone of worry, “What do you see?”

“What do you mean ‘what do I see?’”

“Some people see a tunnel or a river.” The voice hurriedly explains, “What do you see?”

“Nothing.” Dean huffs, “My dash. I’m in my car. I’m on a road.”

“Alright. A road. For you, it’s a road. Follow it, Dean. You’ll find Sam. And keep an eye out for Gabriel.”

“Gabriel?”

“Yes, he returned this morning.”

“And saw our bodies, Jesus,” Dean shook his head with a sigh. If that would have happened to him, if he had walked in on Sam’s dead body, he would have done exactly same; heck, he had done exactly the same in the past.

“He is on his way to Heaven. I couldn’t stop him.”

“Alright. Alright, Cas. It’s alright,” Dean assured him. “We’ll find them both.”

“Don’t let him use his grace. Michael will spot him and all w- orked f-”

“Cas?” The signal completely dropped and Dean frantically struck the dash in the hopes it might revive it.

“Fol- ro-d,” the radio crackled again, falling out of signal for a second time, and this time died altogether.

***

Dean found his brother in a pathetic memory. Or a depressing one. He hadn’t decided on his final opinion. Either way, the fact that little Stephanie’s Thanksgiving had somehow made its way into Sam’s top-hits was absolutely hilarious to him.

He snapped himself back on track. “A road.”

“What?”

“Cas spoke about a-.”

Searchlights stream unnaturally through the window and the boys dive to take cover; something is out there, searching for them.

They reconvene once they had passed. “Okay, what the hell was that?”

“Cas?” Dean ignored his brother and hits at the radio on the family mantlepiece.

“What are you doing?”

“Angel stuff,” Dean huffs and hits the radio once again. “Cas? Cas?!”

“Yes,” the TV behind the boys’ flickers to life and propels the angel’s voice through the room, “I can hear you.”

The boys dart across to the TV. “Cas. Hey! So I, uh, I found Sam but, but something just happened. There was this weird beam of light.”

“Zachariah.”

“The Angel?” The boys look at each other with worried looks.

“Yes, the light is him, or more specifically it is there because of him. He’s searching for you.”

“And if he finds us?”

“You can’t say yes to Michael and Lucifer if you’re dead, so Zachariah needs to return you to your bodies.”

“Great!”

“No. You don’t understand. You- you’re behind the wall; this is a rare opportunity.”

The brother’s looked at each other in confusion. “For what?”

“You need to find an angel. His name is Joshua.”

“Oh great, another one,” Dean replied sarcastically. Sam rolled his eyes and smiled at him with affection.

“Wait-” He noticed the way Dean was anxiously looking of into the distance and how he swallowed straight after his last comment and his smile dropped - he just knew something was off. “What do you mean?”

“Sam-”

“Just tell me.”

Dean huffed and replied cautiously, “Gabriel is up here too.”

“What?!” Sam yelled and Dean rolled his eyes and made an 'I-told-you-so' face like he was justified for not telling him about Gabriel. Sam’s looked daggers at his brother.

“He followed you two up after seeing your bodies,” Castiel replied in a very anxious tone, “Please, do not worry about Gabriel, a simple message would drive him back to Earth without being spotted.”

“No,” Sam yelled back. “No, Cas, I’m not leaving him up here!”

“Yeah, no offence, but we are kind of ass full of angels. We should be focusing on Gabriel.” Dean agreed for once. Sam could barely hide his surprise as his brother prioritised his love life right before his eyes. “You find this Josh guy.”

“I can’t. I can’t return to Heaven.”

Dean rolled his eyes and asked the question the boys both needed answering: “What’s so important about this Joshua guy anyway?”

Cas’ plan is pretty simple. Joshua speaks to God, and so if Gabriel had no messages from the Lord, we would send him one ourselves or at the very least, check with the son he speaks with most to see what he really thought about this whole Apocalypse thing. It was a simple and clear plan and Dean liked it.

Sam, on the other hand, didn’t know who he was most angry at. Gabriel for following them to Heaven and endangering their whole plan. Castiel for letting him. Dean for not telling him. Or himself, for dying in the first place.

***

They should have expected some trouble; clear and simple plans never do end up that way with a Winchester involved.

They go through many memories. Dean hugs Mary; Sam resents their relationship. Sam hugs Bones; Dean is offended his best times are Dean’s worst. Dean holds Anna; they are both conflicted considering she recently tried to kill them. Sam holds Gabriel; it hurts to see a fake version of him when the real one searches through Heaven for them. They carve their names into the Impala. Neither of them knows whose memory that one was.

Zachariah soon catches up to them and they are forced to run through unfamiliar terrain. They skirt across another section of Heaven and crash unawares into Ash.

He asks about Ellen. About  Jo. Sam is reminded of Gabriel and he keeps quiet so Dean can relish in the memory of saving them instead. Pamela returns and she loves every moment of their tales. With their help, they find a shortcut to the Garden.

“That Zachary fella’s going to be watching every road to the Garden.”

Pamela says her goodbyes to the boys. A hug for Sam; a kiss for Dean.

With good wishes and promise of cold beer in the afterlife, the boys step through the door and into the white unknown.

Chapter Text

It was a trap.

One moment they were with Ash, the next they were in their old house in Lawrence.

A train whistled by in the background and Dean’s eyes search the house’s every feature.

It was pitch black outside, the windows were open, and the house stood empty. Yet, somehow, from what little bare bones the house stood in, Dean’s eyes snapped to Sam’s in horror.

The floorboards creaked. Feet patter on the wooden floorboards behind them.

The boys whip around. “No,” Dean’s voice shakes.

Blood dripped from her hand and down onto the wood. “Honey." She spoke softly, "Why are you up?”

“Look. I-I’m sorry." His voice shook, his eyes looked anywhere but at hers, "I love you but you’re not real and we don’t-”

“Did you have another nightmare? Tell me.” The ghostly figure demands. Golden locks fall prettily over ghostly white breasts, covering part of the deep burns spiralling over her collarbone. Her nightgown is a pale white, matching her skin, with blood pooling on her centre, and dripping an endless stream down her sides and to the ground where it pools around her.

“I gotta- I gotta go,” Dean insists, moving to step backwards and away from her. He keeps his eyes on her now.

“Then how ‘bout I tell you my nightmare, Dean?" She creeps closer. "Tell me about the night I burned.”

Her ruby red lips disfigure and crumble at one side; her skin folds in on itself and melts away to reveal the pearly white teeth underneath. Just brushed; ready for bed.

“Sammy," Dean paws at the air beside him, finding his brother, not letting his eyes move from her for one moment, "let’s get out of here.”

Her skeletal arm rises and points to her son. “Don’t you walk away from me!” She limps closer, blackened toes wading through her own blood. “I never loved you, you were my burden! I was shackled to you. Look what you did to me!”

Dean freezes. He stares at her for a moment before he whips around, straight into a pair of beady yellow eyes.

The beast grabs him and holds him, still forcing him to watch. "Dean!"

The pain, the smell, skin bubbling away.

Sam struggles to grab at Dean and the beast behind him but he can't. He's behind held just out of reach. He doesn't understand. He searches the room, eyes darting to every blacken corner, and then, in the corner of his eye, he spots it. The reflection of black eyes. Ruby.

“Everyone leaves you, Dean. You noticed?” The bones of her arm disintegrate as she continues, “Mommy. Daddy. Even Sam. You ever ask yourself why? Maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s you .” The remainder of Mary’s lips curve in malicious enjoyment.

Yellow eyes savour the quiver of Dean’s lips.

“Easy now, kitten.” A smug voice commands and the melting halts, the blood stops. The brothers strain to work out the familiar voice whilst Mary smiles back into the darkness with evil glee. Her eyes fill with lust and Dean barely holds back the sickness rising from his stomach.

“You did this!” Sam accuses angrily, fighting against the energy restraining him. Zachariah. This was all Zachariah. 

“Oh, I am just getting started. I mean, guys. Did you really think you could just sneak past me and into Mission Control?” He rolls his eyes and with a thought the room becomes light, and the boys are released. Sam caught his breath while Dean prepared to launch himself on the rotten angel.

Quickly, he clicks his fingers and another angel appears behind the brothers, manipulating their arms behind their backs and into a vice-like grip from each of his hands.

The boys fight against the grip but find no respite. At least the angel didn’t cause them pain or make it more awkward for them as they fought their hold; small mercies.

“You son of a bitch!” Sam growls at the beast beside his mother.

“Tut tut tut Sam. You would say that in front of your dear old mother?” Zachariah moves Mary’s hair from her collar bone and kisses her neck. His hands come around her hips.

"Get off her you sonovabitch!"  Dean growls and forces his eyes shut in revulsion.

“I think we’re going to be logging a lot of quality time together.” The angel trails his fingers down Mary’s arm, across skinless meat, and down to the stub of her bone at her elbow. Sam cringes and turns away.

Zachariah chuckles and snaps his fingers. The image of Mary disappears. “Well... Since I have your attention, let’s brass tack this, shall we?”

The boys turned their gazes back toward the angel with deadly glares. “You gonna ball-gag us until we say yes?” Dean replied smugly, “Space and horses, are these really your best references?”

Zachariah steps up to Dean and slams his fist in Dean’s stomach. Dean’s knees buckle and he folds in on himself with a pained groan. Sam fights against the second angel but he holds him effortlessly still and yanks Dean back up to his feet beside him.

“Let me tell you something.” Zachariah glares back at the older Winchester. “I was on the fast track once. Employee of the month, every month, forever. I would walk these halls and people would avert their eyes !” The house rumbles and shakes against the pressure of his anger. “ I had respect ! And then they assigned me you. Now look at me.”

Zachariah chuckles madly, turning away to muse to himself. “I can’t close the deal on a couple of flannel-wearing maggots? Everybody’s laughing at me… and they’re right to do it.”

He turns on his heel and resumes glaring at the boys. "So! Say yes, don’t say yes; I’m still going to take it out of your asses. It’s personal now, boys, and the last person in the history of creation you want as your enemy is me. And I’ll tell you why. Lucifer may be strong, but I’m… petty .” His smile turns up at its edges in evil pleasure. “I’m going to be the angel on your shoulder for the rest of eternity.”

“Hmm. No, no I don't think so.” A familiar voice cuts him off. Sam’s gaze snapped to its source and back to Zachariah, a shit-eating grin appearing on his face. Dean also sneered at the angel in vicious satisfaction. “See I’ve counted angels, I’ve counted shoulders, and honestly, I’m not seeing enough room left for you, Zachy.”

“You-” Zachariah staggers back from the boys and his expression drops into one of pure shock. “That's impossible.”

“That’s no way to address me,” Gabriel emerges from the corner of the room, waltzing into their messy scene and glares at the younger angel. His eyes turn away from Zachariah and look to Sam with renewed warmth and tenderness at their edges. “Are you hurt?”

“No,” Sam smirked at the angel.

“Don’t worry about me then,” Dean complained in fake irritation; in reality, he was loving the archangel’s sudden appearance just as much as he was.

“Oh don’t worry, Deano. Zachy will answer for that.” Gabriel pointed lazily at all of him, loosening up the collar of his suit.

Zachariah went to speak but was cut off by his goon. “Archangel Gabriel, sir.”

Gabriel’s gaze inclined to the secondary angel and his eyebrows scrunched in scrutiny. “Sandalphon?”

“Yes, sir.” He nodded. The brothers looked to one another, noting the weakening of the grip on their hands, but neither attempted escape.

“The Angel tasked to protect unborn children." Gabriel rattled off dutifully, enjoying playing his part a little too much in Dean's mind. "You were given the responsibility of protecting humanity, as I was with the Garden.” The archangel clarified his position as if a commander to his squadron. Despite human eyes rolling, angelic ones remained fixed on him. “Tell me Sandalphon, does that feel like what you are doing at this moment?”

“No.” The angel admits anxiously, “No Sir, it doesn’t.”

“Hmm.” Gabriel rose an eyebrow and surveyed the angel for a moment. “Release my human.”

“Don't listen to him!” Zachariah called but it was too late, Sandalphon had released both Sam and Dean and had taken a step away from the humans.

“I would much rather listen to him than you ,” Sandalphon returned and Gabriel smiled smugly toward Zachariah.

Despite his support waning, Zachariah continued to insist his superiority: “He is a messenger. Nothing more.”

Gabriel snaps the younger angel away with a thought and takes a few steps to put himself between the Winchesters and the angel. “Why don’t you tell us how you really feel, Zachy?”

“My name," he snarled, "is Zachariah, Zach-a-ri-ah." The angel enunciated every syllable sharply and with great prejudice as if hoping they could do some harm against the archangel for him.

“You are whatever I call you, fledgeling .” Gabriel snapped back. It was a vocal display of dominance that seemed to almost literally slap Zachariah across the face.

“How dare you!” The house shakes, fury burns bright in his eyes, and with his blade at the ready, the angel launches himself at Gabriel.

His moves were quick and careless. To him they must have seemed impressive and they were undoubtedly deadly, but Gabriel saw nothing but the slow swipes of a child.

His instincts took over. Zachariah brought his blade up and swung it around in a savage stroke, but Gabriel stepped back and let it pass. Then, he slashed his blade down hard to strike his wrist. A few cracks answered.

“Bastard,” he growled, ignoring the pain and rushed into battle again, throwing a flurry of speedy jabs his way.

If he were smart Zachariah would have snapped his wrist back into place. He was an angel after all; it would heal. But at this moment, Zachariah was anything but smart.

Gabriel once again stepped back and used minimal effort to deflect his blows.

Finally, the younger angel tried again, slamming into Gabriel and setting himself up for a punishing swing. To close the move, he swept the blade in a long arch in an attempt to disembowel the archangel, but the effort the move took allowed Gabriel to avoid the hit and ram the hilt of his blade forward so that struck his breast and drove him back.

Zachariah staggered backwards and snarled in anger. His eyes went red hot with shame and humiliation. For a moment he stood there, unsure how best to attack.

Gabriel raised an eyebrow and his smile re-appeared in cocky victory. Still, he stood silent and waited for the next strike.

Shaking his head, the angered angel drove himself forward in a scream of fury. The resulting stroke was off course, filled with more rage than sense.

Gabriel’s smirk grew once he noticed the arch of his swing. Boy, he has missed this type of battle.

With a similarly savage blow, he met the blade with similar force and slammed the force of his body into the other angel, staggering him back close to the wall behind him.

Using his confusion as an advantage, Gabriel struck his wrist once again, this time making a long and painful cut.

Zachariah groaned in pain and the archangel quickly followed it up by striking the blade from his hand so that it flew far from his grasp. There was a mild terror in his eyes now. He had realised his fate.

“You threatened my future mate,” Gabriel said and rammed his blade forward, striking him once on the knee as he tried to back away in any way possible. When he tried to reach for his blade, Gabriel slashed the knee again much harder, so that now white grace was pouring from his kneecap and between the fingers clutched at his wrist.

Zachariah’s lip trembled in a mix of terror and white-hot frustration; he wanted to speak, to shout insults at the archangel, but he feared what might come of it. Gabriel stepped forward and the archangel reached out to grip his shoulder.

“You know I can’t forgive that,” Gabriel twirled his blade in his hand and brought the tip to rest over his brother's heart, “but as you are my brother, I promise to make this quick.”

Zachariah stared down at the light spilling from his body and up to Gabriel in defeat. “Thank you,” he mouthed and lent into Gabriel, dropping his head on the other’s shoulder. Gabriel nodded slowly.

And with one deciding thrust, Gabriel rammed his blade up and through his ribcage, leading to a burst of white from his core.

The room turned white.

Gabriel held the angel in an awkward one-handed hug whilst his grace boiled and burned out like a dying star.

He held on until the white stopped and for a while after.

Slowly, carefully, Gabriel lowered the angel’s body to the ground and sat down beside him.

The brothers said nothing. Sam edged slowly toward the angel and came to sit by his side. Dean picked up the blade and stuffed it in his coat before coming to stand over the body as well.

“Gabe,” It was some time before they spoke. Sam reached for his lover’s hand, hesitating at his flinch, but smiling all the same. “We need to go.”

“Joshua,” Dean added, hoping this would jog the angel's memory.

“Oh. Yeah… yeah, sorry.” He slowly rose to his feet and the hunter swiftly followed along behind him.

Even though the angel had enjoyed the fight, ending his brother’s life had a clear effect on him; he stood much hollower than he did before.

Sam went to speak again, but instead, he weaved his fingers through Gabriel’s, which accepted his this time, and gave them a tight squeeze. Sam turned to Gabriel who looked at him in sadness. The hunter squeezed again and gave him a small concerned smile.

“Which way now?” Dean asked simply, and Gabriel went to reply but was cut off by a familiar voice, a voice so full of power it demanded all of their attention.

Both hunters flinched. The angel froze.

“Gabriel?”