Actions

Work Header

Across the Universe

Chapter Text

Sounds of laughter, shades of life
Are ringing through my opened ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love, which
Shines around me like a million suns,
It calls me on and on across the universe

 

Prologue

Gabriel spins in his chair, twirling in circles and popping his gum. His hands pound out the rhythm of the song playing as he watches the ceiling go around in never ending circles. The ceiling tiles above him whirl together as he goes around and around.

What is he doing? He's losing his mind. He's reached a level of boredom so beyond any he’s known that he's getting his kicks spinning in office chairs like a five year old. He’s watching people fill tiny paper cups from an oversized plastic jug. What the hell? How do humans stand this?

The stuffy air, the endless phone calls discussing the same thing with 20 different people, the paperwork, the filing, the computers. The endless monotony is enough to drive someone off the deep end. Gabriel is pretty sure that's where he's headed.

He's had his fun here, but this office is pretty pranked out now. If he’s being honest, this was a lightweight Trickster job anyway -- small fries compared to what he’s really capable of. He needs something new, something exciting. But how does he manage that without drawing attention to himself? Anything on a middle-to-large scale that screams trickster is going to set off warning bells for every angel in heaven, and he sure as hell doesn't want to get their attention.

Maybe he should find another office but he's just not in the mood.

He pauses his spinning to kick his feet up on a secretary's desk, scattering the guy's papers everywhere. The guy looks like he's going to cry. Gabriel should probably feel bad.

No, no he really shouldn’t when he thinks about it. He heard this prick ask one of the female assistants if she really needed that extra spoonful of strawberry topping on her cheesecake yesterday and it had just irked Gabriel.

“I mean really, Debbie, do you even need the cheesecake? That skirt looks like its reached max capacity. I'd hate to see you bust a seam at work, how embarrassing.” The dickhead had patted her arm in mock sympathy, smiling slyly as Debbie hung her head.

This guy is such an asshole.

Poor Debbie had returned to her desk to cry and shovel rich, delicious cheesecake down her throat. It was valiant attempt to drown her self-hatred. Gabriel had considered afflicting Debbie with an overactive thyroid so she could drop her unwanted weight, but her issues weren't really about the extra 20 pounds. Hell, she looked damn good in his opinion. She was curvy in all the right spots and way the hell out of dickhead Bill’s league, even though she couldn't see it.

No, helping her lose weight wouldn't fix anything. She's just going to have to learn to love herself on her own, flaws and all. Probably never happen, it never does for most humans.

Gabriel snaps his fingers and sets off the sprinkler over Bill’s head. Just that one, so he alone is getting drenched. Maybe he should hit Bill with an underactive thyroid? Make him gain 20 to a 100 extra pounds so he knows how it feels?

Bill looks up at the ceiling in total disgust. “Fuck my life,” he mutters.

Nah, Gabriel's work here is done.

What the hell is going do though? These low level trickster gigs are such a waste of his talent. He's meant for bigger and better things, not sulking around cloaked in invisibility feeling like a window peeper.

Maybe he should try jumping universes again. He hasn't done that in centuries. He was always a little afraid of it, which made it even more exhilarating. It took him awhile to figure it out, but he had nothing but time on his hands. Eons and eons of time. Angels can live forever, after all, if they’re careful.

The first time he'd managed it he’d been shocked. And then he thought he might be stuck there. He’d had no expectation of ever making it home because he was totally wiped. His grace was toast, making him almost human.

He'd landed in a rather drab post-apocalyptic world that at first was novel for its utter uniqueness, but soon became depressing. When he recovered enough power to jump out of there he assumed he'd land some place else random, but instead he landed right back at home in the middle of a screaming match between Lucifer and Michael. And each time he'd jumped after that he'd end up somewhere random and new, and then he'd land right back at home.

It took so much of his power to jump he was trapped wherever he landed for a few days. Sometimes he'd had enough juice left to snap around inside the new universe, but sometimes he couldn't even do that.

And the last time he'd jumped had been a total fucking disaster.

He'd landed in a universe where the world was ending. And not an averted apocalypse or a World War kind of way, this was an overheated Earth core with catastrophic side effects. The earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, storms, tidal waves -- it was all pretty unsettling for him. It would have been for the people of the universe as well, but they'd all died by the time he jumped in on the scene.

He was terrified that time, truth be told. He'd never worried much about where he'd land before that, he figured there wasn't anything he couldn't charm or snap himself out of (he is pretty damn charming after all), but he was terrified he'd die in the implosion of that planet before his batteries fully charged so he could jump again. He hadn't jumped since, and that had been centuries ago.

But sometimes when he jumped he landed someplace awesome. He almost got addicted to it for a while, bouncing around, seeing what other earths were like, what the people and Gods and monsters were like.

It always interested him that wherever he landed he seemed to be near the location of the humans, Gods or monsters that he was currently surrounding himself with. It must be some strange law of universes or something. Not always, occasionally some were missing; they were dead or hadn't been born yet, but usually.

One time when he was hot and heavy with Kali he'd landed on an earth where the sand was silver and reflective and the sky was a strange shade of green like none he'd seen before. He wandered the streets of a primitive city looking at the strange fruits, vegetables and meats for sale. He'd turned a corner and seen her there.

Kali was surrounded by her children, there must have been at least five running around her legs. The similarities in all their features made it obvious she was their mother. She was laughing as she watched one of her daughters dance; she'd bent down and cupped the child's face in her palm and called her “Ut’st.” Gabriel assumed it was the child's name, the word sounded both harsh and gentle on her tongue.

He'd wandered closer and followed her through the streets for a long while. Her skin seemed to shimmer with blue where the sun touched it, and some of her children had the same coloring. A few of them seemed to shimmer green though, and one shone with a soft pink. She took turns carrying the three youngest toddlers. One of her sons had finally pulled her down to whisper in her ear and she'd turned and looked at Gabriel.

She smiled and dipped her head to him, her children running over. They tugged his arms and laughed when he tried to raise them. She'd slowly walked over, admiring her children as she did.

“Kali?” he'd asked when she came near. Sometimes humans had the same names, but you never knew with gods. She might not even be a god in this universe.

“Yes,” she'd said in her native tongue.

He could understand her. He could always understand everyone, though sometimes it took a while to acclimate to the stranger dialects.

“You don't belong,” she paused and motioned to him, “where?”

“Where am I from?” he tried to clarify her question.

She nodded.

“Another universe. You know what a universe is?”

She nodded to him again.

“You're a god here?” he asked.

“Yes,” she spread her hands to gesture to her children, “fertility.”

“Of course, a fertility god.” He smiled, chuckling a little. He couldn't wait to tell his Kali the Destroyer about this version of her.

She'd taken him home with her to her husband, who shimmered with a pink sheen in his skin, and her 13 older children. Eighteen children and she was still young for a fertility god in her world, he learned. She'd probably end up having a hundred. The more she had the more her followers were blessed with healthy babies.

He'd spent six days with them. He'd laughed and eaten and been just as captivated by that Kali as he was by his own, more if he was being honest. He was strong enough to jump home after four days, but he'd stayed two more just to be near this Kali.

She was so loving and maternal. She made him feel treasured and yet she showed no signs of an attraction to him. On the contrary, she appeared to make everyone feel loved and whole, and so people flocked to her for comfort and reassurance. She never turned one soul away while he was there.

She was absolutely faithful to her husband, and the man with the pink shimmering skin worshipped her. He seemed to know that he'd somehow gotten a soul so rare it was indescribable. He welcomed Gabriel to their home and made him feel just as important as Kali did. This was a special place.

Those extra two days though. Something had started happening in those two days. Gabriel had started to feel different somehow, different down in his core. One time he'd glimpsed a mirror and he could have sworn he saw a gold shimmer in his skin. He'd turned his head this way and that for a full five minutes but he couldn't get it to come back. He just couldn't shake the feeling that something strange was happening, and he'd finally been rattled enough to go home.

He hadn't wanted to leave that universe. He'd almost mourned it when he left. He'd tried to find it again once or twice but it was impossible to find a specific universe in the swirling vortex when he jumped around.

His Kali hadn't been impressed with the other version of her.

“Loki, I wish you'd stop with these fantasies and stories. It's tiring. There's only one universe, and we rule it. Why do you insist on dreaming up others?”

Soon after he'd drifted apart from Kali and he knew he'd never find that other universe again.

He thinks about that world more and more lately. It brings back that longing to jump again, over heated earth core and world-ending catastrophe be damned. What is he living for at this point anyway? To torment the likes of Bill?

He's bored. He's been in hiding since he faked his death with Luci and all this laying low and drawing no attention is just so damn tedious at this point. He needs a change, and a few days in an alternate universe sounds like just the ticket.

Screw it, let's do this.

 

Day 1

Gabriel juices himself up, drawing his power up and pushing it into a hole until it opens up. The window to a chaos unlike any other opens up and he dares to step into a swirling abyss of unknown. He's immediately lurched to the side and his feet are swept up and around.

He smiles, reveling in the loss of control, in the light feeling in his stomach as he lets himself be catapulted away. He sees glimpses, fractions of seconds of other worlds, other realms. Most he has no place in and he's pretty sure he can't enter. They sweep by so quickly he wouldn't be able to try if he wanted to. He lets the chaos propel him wherever it wants, and eventually he feels himself pushed out.

He lands on his feet in the middle of a crosswalk; it's a busy street in a bustling city. He glances around at the people pushing past but they don't seem to notice the small, rather nondescript man that appears out of nowhere. They're busy trying to get to their lunch meetings or quick midday meals. A man bumps into his shoulder as he passes.

“Excuse me, sir,” the gentleman apologizes kindly. Gabriel has no idea if this city exists where he's from, but at least they're polite here.

He wanders down the sidewalk, looking up at the buildings and into shop fronts. This earth appears to mirror the one he's from. Humans look exactly the same, they're dressed the same, cars look the same and so do the flowers being sold by the vendor on the corner of 80th Street and Metcalf Ave. This must be a parallel, not an alternate universe.

He sees a sign on a diagonal corner of the street. “Overland Park Farmers Market” it says. It points east of where he is, and a block down he can see a sign that points him south. He strolls along toward it, taking in details and interesting sights.

He isn’t necessarily aiming for the market but he figures it's as good a place as any to people watch and get a feel for the city. This part of town is older and has character. The sun is shining, warm and comforting as he walks. He likes it.

The market is closed. It's a weekday afternoon and there aren't any vendors or shoppers, just a few people moving through from one destination to another. Gabriel wanders on. He's in no rush, obviously there's nowhere for him to be. But what's better than that is the feeling that he doesn't need to hide. There's no need to watch his back or look over his shoulder, no one here knows anything about him being an angel.

That sets him free.

A couple blocks from the market he passes a restaurant with a lovely outside seating area. He decides to have a seat and order a dessert. He steps into the section of tables and glances into the bar looking for a waitress.

He makes eye contact with the bartender for a brief second until a man stands up between them to reach into his pocket and retrieve his wallet. The man lays a few bills on the bar and the woman beside him stands as well. When they turn toward Gabriel he instantly panics.

No- no way! It couldn’t be, could it? Sam? Sam Winchester?! Gabriel stumbles back into a chair and manages to turn away just as Sam’s eyes raise to the noise. What is Sam Winchester doing here? His mind is reeling.

Gabriel shouldn't have to hide here, this isn't home, and the same rules don't apply. But recognizing someone who was so closely caught up in the apocalypse throws him off and he feels he needs a second to compose himself.

He spins and bolts from the tables and back to the sidewalk looking for a place to duck into. Maybe that wasn’t really Sam. Maybe he saw a guy with a similar build and features and he just assumed. That could be, right? He should get a closer look, just to be certain.

He finds an alley a little ways down and slips into the shadow, hoping they move this direction. He waits and sure enough, a couple minutes later Sam Winchester walks by with a short red-headed woman. They're chatting and she's laughing, she smiles up at Sam.

Gabriel gives them a few minutes and then peeks out. Should he follow? He hasn't seen Sam in years and he has no idea who the woman is. He never had much of a relationship with Sam outside of trying to teach him lessons around the apocalypse.

Hmmm. What the hell, he thinks. Might as well see what Sam is up to in this universe. Nothing better to do anyway.

He steps out of the alley and just catches the couple turning right up ahead. He follows them for quite a while and they turn out to be pretty damn boring. The woman talks a lot. Sam listens attentively and nods at all the right times, but eventually Gabriel wonders if Sam is really listening.

After about 25 minutes they step into an apartment building. Gabriel figures that's it, they're home and they're obviously seriously boring so he might as well move on. But just as he's moving closer to the entrance Sam comes back out. Gabriel spins on his heel and tries to act nonchalant.

He turns and follows Sam back the way they came. Two blocks back Sam unlocks the door of a townhouse and steps inside.

Huh. I figured he was married to her. Oh hell, probably just his girlfriend. He's probably a doting, loyal, perfect boyfriend. That sounds like Sam.

Gabriel hangs around outside figuring Sam will emerge that evening, but he doesn't. He thinks about moving on, wandering around and looking for something interesting, because standing across the street from Sam Winchester's townhouse is definitely not interesting. But he stays, he doesn't know what makes him stay other than the fact that usually the first person he encounters in a universe is the one he's the most involved with in his own.

But Sam, he's not involved with Sam at all anymore. So what's going on here? It doesn't make sense to him. But really, maybe it's just because he's not really involved with anyone these days. No friendships, no family, nothing romantic. He's been lying really low. So maybe Sam is a default, because the last people he was involved with were the Winchesters. What did he expect, to bump into Bill and Debbie?

Whatever the reason, he stands there all night.

Chapter Text

Day 2

He watches Sam emerge the next morning in a well-fitting suit with a briefcase in his hand. Sam walks quickly and with purpose as Gabriel follows and they end up at the courthouse.

He's a lawyer. Of-fucking-course. Gabriel chuckles.

He wonders who else from his other world is close to this location. He leaves the courthouse having zero desire to follow Sam in there. He doesn't have a destination in mind but around an hour later he finds himself outside the woman's apartment as she stumbles out her door.

She appears half asleep and she's talking into a cell phone tucked into her shoulder. She slides sunglasses over her squinting eyes to block the bright morning sun and half runs down the sidewalk.

He's not interested in following her. He saunters off determined to put her and Sam Winchester behind him and stop wasting time. He needs to enjoy himself while he recharges. He doesn't feel terribly weak, but he's not one hundred percent. He could snap himself out of a hairy situation but he couldn't make the trip home. That kind of power probably won't be back for about a week.

And then he finds himself standing at Sam Winchester's door. The mailbox mounted to the back says 'Winchester' in clean, gold letters.

Seriously, Gabriel? Why are you here?

He has no clue. He looks around the empty street and reaches out to touch the door, popping the locks quickly with a tiny bit of his power. He steps into a small, dark entryway.

He wanders in slowly. The entryway has stairs going up one side, and it leads to a large open floor plan through a doorway on the other. He steps into the living room and sees the kitchen at the back of the room. It's decorated modern and clean, very minimal. There are a few photos in frames on a small black table behind the couch.

One of them is of Dean. He's standing with a red-haired woman, but not the one Sam was with. There are two small children and the woman is obviously pregnant again. The little boy is the mirror image of Dean and the girl has red hair and freckles sprinkled over her nose. The woman has one hand on her stomach and the other on their son's shoulder. Dean is beaming at the camera.

The other photo is of two men and a woman. The picture is dated by their clothes; it's at least 20 years ago. The blonde woman is turned toward the dark haired man who's smiling down at her, his arm slung over her shoulder. The other guy is laughing at something. Gabriel doesn't recognize them.

He moves into the kitchen. It's almost stark. There's nothing on the counters and when he opens the cabinets everything is neatly put away, including the coffee pot and toaster. He opens the refrigerator and looks inside, no idea what he's looking for.

He hears a sound behind him and quickly slams the refrigerator, making it rock.

“Son of- SHIT! What the hell, whoareyou?!” Sam yells, all in one breath. He's so startled that he fumbles his briefcase as he tries to set it on the counter, wondering who the fuck is in his kitchen looking in his refrigerator.

The man turns quickly, obviously surprised by Sam walking in on him. Sam recognizes that face immediately, but he can't place it at first.

“Uhh…” The man appears at a loss for words.

Gabriel goes blank, his voice trailing away. You're gonna have to do better than that, Gabriel. You're breaking and entering here, he thinks, trying to decide if he should snap himself out.

“What are you doing in my apartment?!” Sam yells, his voice harsh.

“Sam?” Gabriel asks hesitantly, why is Sam even home? Gabriel just left him at the courthouse.

It suddenly dawns on Sam where he knows that face from. “Professor?” he asks, confused. Why the hell is his Conflicts of Law professor from Stanford standing in his kitchen? And more importantly, “How did you get in here?!”

Gabriel's mind whirs. Shit. Shit, shit, shit. Snap out of here, dammit. He can't make himself do it. It might seriously freak Sam out. Or who knows, maybe Sam will snap out behind him. You never know what humans can do in other universes.

“I'm sorry-” Gabriel stammers, wondering what at the hell he is supposed to say here. “I saw you leaving and I thought to myself, hey, that's Sam Winchester, I remember him!” Gabriel chuckles awkwardly. “And then I suddenly needed to use the restroom so I checked the door and it was unlocked so I let myself in.”

Sam doesn't buy any of it, Gabriel can tell from his face.

“I know I locked the door,” Sam is very serious, “I always lock the door.” Sam checks it three times every day before he leaves. Three times. Every day. He knows it was locked.

“Huh,” Gabriel scratches his head, “I dunno. Maybe it didn't catch?” Gabriel clears his throat softly, floundering internally for what to say. “So anyway, figured you wouldn't mind me using your bathroom, seeing as we know each other. Right? How ya been, Sammo?”

“Sammo? I'm sorry; I can't remember your name, professor?” Sam's so confused. He hasn't seen this man in- what? Thirteen years maybe? He only had him for one class, and they never even really spoke. And why the hell is the professor calling him Sammo? No one has ever called him Sammo in his life.

“Yeah, I don't-” Gabriel looks around for a clue. Where the hell is he gonna find a clue for a vessel's name that he picked up so long ago he doesn't even remember? If this is a parallel the guy should have died a hell of a long time ago.

“You don't what?”

“I don't know.” Gabriel shrugs. He has no idea what he's doing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

“You don't know who you are?” Sam asks, eyes wide.

“Something like that.”

“Do you have amnesia?” Sam's voice goes soft quickly. He puts his hands on the counter to lean against it.

“Must be," Gabriel answers. Sure, sounds good, you run with that, Sam.

“Do you know how you got here? I haven't seen you since Stanford and that's got to be pushing 15 years ago. That seems like a world away.”

Gabriel smiles a little. “World away sounds about right.”

“I'm not following you.”

“I don't think either one of us is.”

Sam squints. What is the professor talking about? I wish I could remember his name. “Wait, maybe we can google you!” It's the first thing that's made sense since Sam walked back in the door.

“Sure, give it a shot!” Gabriel says. He's actually having fun now, this confused Sam is entertaining.

Sam opens his briefcase and pulls out his laptop. He sets it on the counter and turns it on, waiting for it to power up.

“So-” Sam says, unable to disguise how uncomfortable he is. “How are you? I mean other than the amnesia and- oh god, that's a stupid question. I'm sorry, Professor.”

“No worries, kiddo. I'm currently having a grand old time watching you stumble over yourself.” Gabriel smiles wryly. “So, how well do we know each other?”

“Um, not at all really.” Sam starts typing on the laptop. “I only had you for one class and we never really spoke in it. I remember you carrying in coffee that smelled like chocolate every morning, but that's about it.” Sam's eyes flash up quickly. “And sometimes I'd- um- I’d catch you looking at me.”

“Really? Huh.” Gabriel looks Sam over. He sees a blush creep into Sam's cheeks. “Can't for the life of me figure out why.”

Sam ignores that comment. “Ok, I must not be searching the right thing. Nothing is coming up. Are you sure you can't remember how you got here? Do remember when you got to Kansas?”

“I'm in Kansas?!” Gabriel barks out a laugh. “Well if I wanted some excitement the universe sure put me in my place. Short of a tornado I doubt there's much excitement here.”

“Hey, I happen to likeKansas. So does my family.” Sam isn't hiding his offense to Gabriel's comment. “And what are you talking about, excitement? The universe? I don't know what you mean.”

“Ok, listen,” Gabriel steps up to the counter and places his palms on it. He's just going to try a little honesty and see where it goes. It'll either be interesting or it will blow Sam's mind and spiral downhill. Well, either way will be interesting if you look at it that way.

“Yes?” Sam prompts.

Gabriel was thinking too long. “Right. So, here's the thing, kiddo-”

“Don't call me that-” Sam cuts in, “not to be rude, but I find it a little creepy for some reason.” Sam looks at Gabriel closely. “You know, the last time I saw you I was about 20 I think, and how old would you have been, early 40s? I swear you haven't aged a day. I'm 33 now and you still look like you're in your early 40s. That's weird.”

“Yeah, I was trying to get to that until you creeped out over the kiddo thing-” Gabriel holds a finger up, “duly noted, by the way. Although you're definitely a kid compared to me. I've got a few years on you for sure. Anyway, getting back to the point here. I'm not your professor. Well, I kind of am I guess. We look alike, but I can't figure out why he'd be alive right now. He should have died centuries ago. Wait- maybe he's a vessel? Oh that's interesting, I hadn't thought of that.”

“Wait, hold on. So you're not Professor Engel?” Sam stands up straight and claps his hands in front of him. “Engel! That's it! Man, that was driving me crazy!” He grins from ear to ear and shakes his head down at the laptop.

“Nope, not him.”

Sam looks up again. “So are you his twin or what? Because there's no way two people can look that much alike. No way.”

“Well, there's doppelgängers. You have those here?”

“I have no idea what you just said.”

“I'll take that as a no. And no, I'm not his twin. I'm from a different universe.”

Sam doesn't respond. His facial expression doesn't change either. He studies Gabriel very seriously for several seconds before he speaks again.

“Are you feeling okay, Professor?”

“I'm not your professor, I'm an archangel.”

“I'm sorry, a what?”

“Archangel.”

“Is that your job? I've never heard of that.”

“You haven't heard of an archangel? Are there any angels in this universe?”

Sam shakes his head no.

“Hmm. Okay, what about God?”

“I don't know what you're talking about.” It's like he's speaking a foreign language to Sam. The words are gibberish.

“Oh, well this just got interesting.” Gabriel steps back and crosses his arms, appraising Sam. “Wow. Well now this is fun.”

“I gotta be honest here, I'm not having fun, Professor.”

“I'm not your Professor.”

“Right. Okay then, what's your name?” Sam asks.

“Gabriel.”

“Yeah, not fun, Gabriel. Sorry.”

“S’okay. Let's try to get back to common ground, shall we?”

Sam nods his agreement.

Gabriel continues. “So do you have deities here? Is there anything you worship?”

“I don't know what 'deities' is. I don't know the word worship either.”

“Okay then. Let's think. There's no creator here?”

“Creator- like an inventor or something?”

“Well, if they invented the earth then yeah, pretty much.”

Sam screws his face up in confusion.

Gabriel tries again. “Okay- okay, so how did your world start? Any theories behind that?”

“Theories? No, but there's scientific proof of a Big Bang.”

“So where did humans come from?”

“We evolved- what does this have to do with who you are? I'm sorry but I'm getting a little frustrated here.”

“Well, Sam, it's hard for me to explain when you don't even have a word for my existence in your vocabulary.”

Sam doesn't respond. He has no idea what is happening and he's absolutely convinced that the professor is totally off his rocker. He should probably be concerned, but the professor seems lucid right now and doesn't appear to be any threat. Come to think of it, he should probably contact the authorities. Why hadn't he thought of that until now? That's strange, the first thing he should have done was pick up the phone and call the police. Why isn’t he thinking clearly? Is he thinking clearly? The Professor's questions cut into his thoughts.

“Did your early humans have religion? Did they perform rituals or believe in magic?” Gabriel asks.

“None of that makes sense. Magic is tricks and illusions, no one believes
in it. What's to believe? And early humans invented the wheel, they discovered fire, I don't know what you’re talking about or what it has to do with why you're in my home looking in my refrigerator.”

“You're right, I apologize. I'll go, Sam. I shouldn't have come into your home.”

Gabriel steps around the counter and Sam reaches an arm out to stop him.

“Wait,” Sam can't let this confused man out on the street by himself. If he hurt someone or if he got hurt Sam would never forgive himself. “Are you hungry?”

“I don't eat,” Gabriel looks down at Sam's hand on his arm. He stares until Sam pulls it away. “Sometimes I have candy or dessert, but I don't need to eat.”

“Right, sure.” Sam moves to the refrigerator. “I don't eat sweets but why don't you humor me and I'll make you something. You want breakfast? Maybe some eggs?”

“No, but thank you. That's very kind of you.” Gabriel starts to leave again.

“Don't- don't go,” Sam says to his back. “I know you think you're fine and I'm sure you believe every word you're telling me, but I can't let you leave. If you walk out the door I'll have to call the police, I don't know if you're dangerous to yourself or anyone else. I think they'll place you on a psychiatric hold. If you want to stay here for a few hours I can try to make a few phone calls and figure out what's going on.”

Gabriel turns back to Sam. “You know what? I think you’re a good person. You were back at home too. I was an ass to you and you didn't hold it against me in the end. I'm not dangerous, Sam, I promise. And no one is going to place a hold on me. I'll be fine. I shouldn't have said anything, I was curious what would happen if I did and now I know it was a mistake. I'll be fine.”

Gabriel turns again and he makes it to the table behind the couch, the one with the pictures on it, before Sam speaks again.

“Wait- please don't leave. Let me help.”

Gabriel picks up the picture of Dean and studies it.

Sam watches the professor's back, lost as to what to do or say. If he leaves Sam will have an obligation to report him. He's quite possibly a serious public safety hazard, although Sam highly doubts it. He sees him pick up the framed photo.

“That's my brother,” Sam says quickly, looking for something to fill the silence.

“Dean, I know,” Gabriel sets the photo down again.

“How do you know his name?” The hair stands up on Sam's arms and his voice can't hide his suspicion. This feels threatening suddenly.

“I know Dean like I know you, in another universe. I don't recognize his wife though.”

“They've been married nine years. They've been together almost eleven, if you knew him it must have been a long time ago.” Shut up, Sam. Don't give him more information than he already has," Sam is smarter than this, he should know better.

“That's funny; I can't imagine Dean with someone other than Cas.”

“I'm sorry?”

“Back where I'm from Dean and my brother are pretty hung up on each other. It's obnoxious actually.”

“Our brothers are together where you're from?” Sam wonders why he's humoring this.

“Yep, he and Cas have been through hell together. Quite literally.”

“I don't know what that means.”

“Hey, is Cas here? Is there someone named Castiel here?” Gabriel finally turns around to look at Sam, open curiosity on his face.

“I've never heard that name.”

“Huh,” Gabriel looks away for a second, “I'd think he'd be here unless he died. Dark hair, about your brother's height, weirdly blue eyes?”

“You mean Jimmy? How do you know Jimmy?” Stop giving him details, Sam!

“I don't know Jimmy, I know Cas.”

“Right- well it sounds like you're describing Dean’s brother-in-law, Jimmy.” It's like Sam has verbal diarrhea, but something about the absurdity of this is fascinating him.

“Probably him, are they close?”

Sam is hesitant what to say here. How much information is safe to give this man?

“Yeah, they're friends.” That's pretty vague.

“Yeah I bet they're friends.” Gabriel laughs softly.

“Are you implying that there's something between Dean and Jimmy? Because Dean loves Anna more than anything, he's devoted to her. And Jimmy and Meg have been together since high school, so I'm taking offense to your implication.”

Sam. Shut. The fuck. UP. Sam berates himself.

“Nah, sorry if it sounded that way. I just can't imagine them not together.”

Sam nods slightly, looking at the picture behind Gabriel. Dean and Anna are perfect for one another; he wishes he could find someone that makes him that happy.

“Apology accepted.”

“Listen, Sam, I don't think I should intrude on your life anymore. I was curious because you're the first parallel I saw here but I think I'm just gonna lay low until I can jump back home. A few days of recharge and I'll be gone. Just forget I was here, deal?”

“I can't do that, Prof- sorry, Gabriel . I'm pretty sure I'm never going to forget this, it's pretty much the weirdest thing that's ever happened to me.” Sam leans back against the counter and thinks. “You said a few days right? That's not long, just stay here. I'll work on figuring out what's going on and I'll know you're safe. If you leave I'm going to worry something's happened to you.”

“No, that's alright. You've got a life here; you should get on with it.”

“I have no plans the next few days. My case was continued until next week and I'm fully prepared, so I have nothing to do. Come on, please?”

“No offense, but you seem a little boring. Sorry, but it's true. I jumped out of my universe for an exciting vacation, not to hang out with a lawyer for three days.”

“First of all, I'm not boring. I'm not! All my friends say I'm a great guy. And second of all, I really want to figure out what's happening here and I don't know if I can do that if you leave.”

“What's happening here is that I'm from another universe. Do you have the word universe here?”

“Yes, why wouldn't we?”

“So you know there are alternate and parallel universes?”

“Well, there are theories about it but there's no proof.”

Gabriel motions up and down his body theatrically. “Proof,” he says.

“Okay, but how is it proof until I see you and the professor in the same room?”

Gabriel sighs loudly. “One thing you and the other Sam have in common is infuriating stubbornness.”

“I like to call it determination.”

“Call it what you want it's still infuriating.”

“Come on, please?" Sam whines. "Give me one day, just one day. Convince me that what you're saying is true.”

“I don't have to convince you of anything. It is true, whether you believe it or not.”

“Right, but give me proof.”

Once again Gabriel motions to himself as proof.

“No, some other proof. If you can convince me in one day I won't report you to the police as insane.”

Gabriel cocks his head slightly and squints at Sam. “Is that a threat?”

“What? No- no! It probably sounded like that, but I didn't mean it that way, I swear. Just- come on, one day. That's all I'm asking.”

Gabriel sighs again “Fine.” Why not? Not like he's got anything better to do or somewhere better to be. He's stuck in Kansas in a universe with no magic. High excitement isn't likely.

“How do you know I'm a lawyer if you weren't my professor?” Sam caught that detail and filed it away, he's not letting it slip by.

“Okay, putting all my cards on the table here. I saw you yesterday and followed you when you were walking your girlfriend home. Then I hung out across the street overnight and followed you to court this morning. The perfectly tailored suit, the expensive leather briefcase, the courthouse, it all equals out to a lawyer.”

Sam's mouth falls open. Shit, Sam. You just invited a stalker to stay with you. His mind goes numb.

“What's with the briefcase anyway? Don't most guys your age carry messenger bags or something? So you can have your hands free to use five electronic devices at once?”

“I-” Sam focuses on the question and his brain tries to restart, “I don't like for my suit to be wrinkled, the shoulder strap on messen-” Sam holds his hand up, “No. That's not the point here. Go back to what you said before about following me. You've been following me?” Sam demands, his voice sharp.

“Well…” Gabriel can see the fear settling in Sam's face. He probably shouldn't have put all his cards on the table. “Yeah. But just since yesterday. And not in a creepy way like you're thinking.”

“What other way is there?”

“Uh- hmm. Good question. I'll get back to you on that.”

“Well if we're showing our hands here let me just say this. I think you've lost your mind, Professor. I think people are probably looking for you where you're from and I'm going to try to contact them. And you following me is freaking me out.”

Gabriel smiles at Sam. “I like your honesty. You think you're freaking out, you just wait until the good professor sees me.” Gabriel winks.

“Right.” Sam looks around. Where does he start? What should he do first? “I'm gonna change clothes, is it safe to leave you in my living room?”

“Probably not.”

Sam doesn't know how to react to that. He opens his mouth to speak but only a soft squeaky “I-” comes out.

“Kidding. I'm kidding. I'll be fine.”

Sam nods a little and then slowly walks past Gabriel and back to the entryway to the stairs leading up to his bedroom. He turns in the doorway.

“Just- don't go anywhere. Don't leave.”

“Yes sir.” Gabriel does a little mock salute. “I'll be fine. I'll sit quietly on the couch and wait with bated breath for your return.” Gabriel clutches his hands to his heart and flutters his eyelashes.

“Yeah,” Sam mumbles as he turns back to the stairs, “what is even happening.”

Sam returns to find Gabe sitting on the couch staring at the wall.

“Do you own a TV? Because I'm really rethinking staying here if you don't have a TV.”

“Yeah, it's on the wall. That mirror there is a TV.”

“Really?” Gabriel walks closer and studies his reflection in the mirror. It startles him a little when he hears a click and his reflection is replaced by a newscaster. “Well that's cool. Pretty sure that hasn't been invented where I'm from.” He returns to the couch and sits again.

Sam grabs his laptop from the counter and sits on the other end of the couch.

Gabriel glances around. “You must not do much entertaining.”

“What makes you say that?”

“You only have enough seating for three people. You can't be hosting party central with one couch.”

“Oh,” Sam looks around, “yeah, my friends and I usually go out.”

Sam starts typing, fingers flying over keys. “Now that I remember your last name I should be able to find you.”

“You found me; I'm two feet away from you.” Gabriel dead pans. “And I don't actually have a last name.”

“Okay, looks like you're still listed in the current Stanford staff. You've got tenure too.” Sam scrolls and scrolls.

“I don't think I know what tenure even is, is that important?”

“Not right now, no.” Sam's expression changes, he obviously found something interesting. “Here's something,” Sam starts reading from an article. “Professor George Engel and his husband Nick Engel plan to travel the world for the next three months on summer break from Stanford University. Professor G. Engel says he found love later in life and now he wants to make up for lost time. “It's our ten year anniversary and I'm 55 years old, it's time to live it up.”

Sam looks at Gabriel's face for a second, he looks from the top of his head down to his chin and then he turns back to the laptop and goes on.

“Professor George Engel teaches Conflicts of Law, among other law courses at Stanford, and Professor Nick Engel (Nick took his husband's name when they married) teaches Frontiers in Theoretical Physics at Stanford. Both say that they're most excited to visit Greece. “I'm excited for the history.” Professor N. Engel say-

Sam abruptly stops talking and Gabriel looks over. Thank Heaven, that was the most boring article I've ever heard,Gabriel thinks.

Sam slowly looks over and studies Gabriel with wide eyes.

“Strange look you got there, Sammich. Looks like you've seen a ghost.”

“What's a ghost?”

“It's what happens when a person dies and their soul doesn't cross- You know what? Doesn't matter. What are you looking at?”

Sam spins the laptop so Gabriel can see it. There's a photo of the Professors Engel standing in a flowering garden.

Gabriel gasps.

“Did you have plastic surgery? You had to…”

“What?” Gabriel looks away from the husband to see himself in the photo. The age difference in this version of him is obvious. The hair is thinner on top, the hairline further back. The short thick beard is full of grey, and he's wearing black framed glasses. His arms are wrapped around the waist of his husband, who is a full head taller than him.

“No, that's not me. You wanna hear something creepy though? And I'm not talking “kiddo” or me following you for a night creepy,” Gabriel shivers, “this is next level creep out…” Gabriel leans down to study the picture closer.

Sam waits for Gabriel to go on.

“That guy, that Nick, he’s the parallel version of the vessel my brother Lucifer used to try to kill me with back home. And Georgy boy here married him.” Gabriel shivers again as he studies that ruggedly handsome face, that blonde hair and short blonde stubble along the jaw. Steely blue eyes and perfect toothy smile. He's like an overgrown Ken doll when he's not covered in abscesses and flaking skin. He shakes his head.

Sam turns the laptop back to look at the husband. He hadn't noticed him before, he'd been too shocked by Professor George’s appearance. This fantasy world he's concocted is disturbing. He thinks his husband tried to kill him? Or he thinks his brother tried to kill him? What?

Gabriel leans closer to Sam to look at the photo again.

“I guess he is hot though,” he looks up at Sam and flashes a smile, “if I'm being objective.”

“Yeah, he's a good looking guy I guess,” Sam says uncomfortably. Did he just call his brother hot? Or his husband? What?

“You guess?” Gabriel leans back to his end of the couch. “Oh come on, you're not man enough to admit when a guy is hot? You afraid your girlfriend will hear about it and dump you? She might think it's a turn on ya know, lots of chicks like two hot guys together.” Gabriel wiggles his eyebrows.

“I don't have a girlfriend.” Sam looks back at the laptop.

“So the redhead?”

“You mean Charlie? No- no, she's my best friend.” Sam shakes his head earnestly. “No.”

“Really? Why not? She's cute if you ask me. Seemed to talk a lot though.”

“Yeah, she's fine I guess, if you're into that.”

“Into what, what do you mean?”

“Women. I mean if you're into women, Proff-” Sam closes his eyes tightly as he corrects the name, “Gabriel. I'm not into women.”

“You're gay?” Gabriel can't hide the surprise in his voice.

Sam nods. “My whole life.”

Gabriel looks Sam over, taking in the designer t-shirt, the well sculpted muscles in his lean arms, the perfectly fitting jeans, the hair.

“I should have guessed; you have better hair than most chicks.”

Sam snorts. “Shut up.”

“It's true.”

“Thanks. I guess.” Sam looks from the photo to Gabriel again. “Maybe your amnesia started after your surgery. This article is dated two months ago, their vacation may have been a cover story to hide plastic surgery.”

“Poor George is probably gonna be offended that you think he needs plastic surgery so bad.”

“No- that's not what I'm saying! He’s a perfectly handsome guy, I'm just saying- the difference is,” he studies Gabriel's eyes, “that's the best plastic surgery I've ever seen.”

“Sam, did you just call me handsome?” Gabriel grins a little.

Technically no, Sam had accidentally referred to the professor as he instead of you. This conversation and its pronouns are getting difficult to navigate. Sam decides not to argue and ignores the question. He wishes he could ignore the heat of the blush rising in his cheeks.

“I'm going to email Nick Engel and see what he says. I don't see any missing persons reports though, which is strange.” Sam's hands hit the keyboard again.

“I'm not missing, I'm two feet away.”

“Shut up,” Sam repeats as he types.

“Rude,” Gabriel mutters. He sees Sam try to hide a smile.

Sam types for a while and Gabriel looks around the room.

“You know, if I can figure out how they did that mirror thing on the TV I could probably make some money when I go back home. Not that I need money, really.”

“Mm hmm,” Sam says, pressing his lips together as he types.

“You're not paying a bit of attention to what I'm saying.”

Sam continues typing for a few more minutes and finally hits send. He looks over at Gabriel and takes a deep breath.

“Yes I was, something about not needing money, right?” The laptop dings and Sam looks back down. “Well crap.”

“What's up?”

“Standard out of office reply from Nick Engel. Says he won't be back until late August. That's not gonna help us.”

“No, I'm sure as hell not gonna be here at the end of August.”

“I wonder if I could get his personal email if I contact Stanford HR or something.” Sam dives into the laptop again.

Sam types out a quick email just asking if a personal email address for Professor Nick Engel is available. He says he needs to reach him due to a family emergency and hits send.

Then he closes the laptop and looks over at Gabriel. What is he supposed to do with the nutty professor now?

“So…” Sam’s voice trails off. He absently rubs his hands over the laptop.

“Rethinking this whole venture now aren’tcha?”

“No, not at all. I’m just not really sure what to do,” Sam clears his throat; “it’s getting close to lunch time, how about lunch?”

“I don’t eat.”

“Right, you said that already. Humor me? At least watch me eat?”

“If there’s one thing I’ve got in abundance it’s a sense of humor. You wanna eat then I’ll watch.”

Sam stands to walk to the kitchen. “Are you tired? If you stood outside all night you probably want to rest?” Sam is still seriously uncomfortable with the idea of his professor standing across the street staring at his door.

“I don’t sleep either. Unless my batteries are seriously wiped, which I guess they kinda are. But I’m okay right now.”

Sam looks back from the kitchen counter as Gabriel wanders over.

“Sure…” Sam opens the fridge to see what he can find. The professor is seriously delusional. “I’ve got some really good leftover grilled halibut; sure you don’t want some with a salad?”

“Halibut fish?”

“Is there another kind of halibut?”

“I don’t know, I’d never eat that though. It feeds on bottom dwellers.” Gabriel makes a disgusted face. “Wait a second, here’s an interesting question. How did halibut get its name?”

“Uhhhh…” Sam gives Gabriel a confused look. “How would I know that? I’m not an expert on fish.”

“Right, but in my world halibut were named for a Catholic holy day. Haly for holy, and butte for flatfish. So if there’s no religion here how do you have a Catholic fish? Huh?”

“What’s a Catholic?”

Gabriel stares at Sam. “Oh, buddy. I don’t even know where to start with that question.”

Sam shakes his head. “You are weird in the things you’re delusional about.” Sam shouldn’t have said that out loud. He hadn’t actually meant to say it out loud. He’d thought it and it had just flown out of his mouth like he had no self-control.

Gabriel laughs. He throws his head back and laughs. “Sam, if I were going to be delusional about something I’d probably convince myself I’ve got some hot piece of ass I need to get back to. I don’t give a shit about fish, I was just asking.”

“Okay, well if you’re humoring me while I eat I guess I’ll humor you about fish, let me get my laptop-“

Gabriel cuts Sam off with a wave of his hand. “Fix your lunch, I’m fully capable of googling this.” He returns to the couch to grab the laptop and brings it into the kitchen with Sam as he heats up stinky fish.

He opens it to find Sam’s email, with one new message staring at him. “You got an email.” He slides the laptop across the island to Sam.

Sam opens the message. “Dammit,” he swears, “they won’t give me his personal email. They said to give them more details and they will pass them on to him.” He looks up at Gabriel. “How do I do that and not sound insane?”

“Good luck,” Gabriel slides up on a stool at the island, “that fish stinks.”

“Whatever, it smells good.” Sam starts typing again.

“We have a completely different definition of good smells.”

Sam hits send with a flourish. “So tell me what smells good to you.” He turns back to the stove to turn his fish as it heats and then he grabs the things for a salad from the fridge.

“You mean what food smells good?”

“Sure, or whatever.”

“Chocolate. Chocolate smells good. Rich, dark, sweet chocolate. Or cotton candy, a big stick of cotton candy you can bite into. It smells so sweet it's almost nauseating, but the sugar dissolves on your tongue in that way that's just a little bit grainy and a lot perfect, and you can't help but moan around a mouthful of it. And caramel,” Gabriel takes a deep breath like he can smell it, “the soft kind that makes you lick your lips in anticipation. It's sticky and it clings to your teeth and you taste just a hint of salt. Cinnamon. Oh, cinnamon. Mmmm I love the smell of hot cinnamon rolls, just out of the oven. With icing dripping, you have to lick your fingers to clean them off.” Gabriel closes his eyes. “Yeah, baby. That’s the good stuff.” He opens his eyes to Sam staring at him. “What?”

“I think you just took the phrase “food porn” to a whole other level. You really like sweets, don’t you.”

“Hey, you asked.”

“True. So other than food, what smells do you like? I like the smell of the rain. You know when it just rained and the clouds start to part and you can see the sun. You get that smell, like the rain is starting to evaporate and the earth is clean and-“ Sam sees Gabriel staring at him with a strange look on his face, “sorry, I don’t know why I’m rambling. Just something to talk about. Let’s change the subject-"

“No, I know what you mean. I know that smell, I love it too.” Gabriel folds and unfolds his hands, suddenly a little nervous for some reason. “So- what other smells do I like, uh, okay I got one. I love the smell of a woman, you know like right behind her ear. Where you smell a little bit of her shampoo and maybe some perfume, but underneath that you really smell her. You know?”

Sam shakes his head.

”Oh right, not into the ladies."

Sam shakes his head again.

“Well, same goes for men. I’ve been with men, they smell just as good. Different, but good. You know what I’m talking about. The guy you’re with, it doesn’t even have to be sexual. You hug him and smell his neck and it’s masculine and there’s probably pheromones and all kinds of things happening and you take a deep breath and it’s just perfect. You’ve had that before right?”

Sam looks down at the counter. He knows exactly what Gabriel is talking about and he really wants to change the subject.

“I think that fish is burning.”

Sam spins around and yanks the pan off the heat. “Shit!”

“Sorry,” Gabriel says sincerely.

“Not your fault, it’s not too bad anyway. Definitely still edible.” Sam sets the plate on the counter and sees Gabriel make a disgusted face. “So you’ve been with guys too?”

“Sure.”

“Huh. I just figured the way you went on about a woman’s shampoo that you were a ladies man.”

“I don’t really see gender. Not when it comes to sex anyway.”

“Are we discussing sex?”

“Aren’t we? I just assumed that was your meaning…”

Sam stops fixing his salad and looks at Gabriel. “Yeah, I guess so. Not something I usually discuss.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I guess it just doesn’t come up.”

“How does it not come up? It’s a pretty big part of humanity.”

“Yeah, I guess I’ve just been single so long I forget about it.”

“Bullshit. If you’ve been single that long it’s going to be coming up more and more regularly. Does for me anyway.”

Sam snorts, the innuendo not lost on him. “Yeah, I know what you mean. How long have you been single?”

“Uhhh, well, I guess Kali was my last real fling, so a long time. A depressingly long time. I did some porn in there though so my dry spell hasn’t been that long.”

Sam fumbles his fork and it lands on the floor, his face flaming red. “You almost seemed normal there for a few minutes,” he says as he bends to pick it up.

“Normal is one thing I’ve never been accused of. So how long you been single?”

Sam pulls another fork from the silverware drawer. “Brady and I broke up, man, almost three years ago? I can’t believe it’s been that long. That’s depressing too.”

“How long were you together?”

“Since freshman year at Stanford. We met a couple months in but we didn’t start dating until the end of that year. I was head over heels. I’d had a few crushes in high school but nothing close to what I felt for Brady.”

“So what happened?”

Sam stabs at his salad. “I don’t know. It was like we just started drifting apart. The last couple years we were together we couldn’t seem to find common ground on anything. We didn’t even seem to enjoy each other’s company. So when he was offered a job back east and he asked me to go with him I could tell that he was asking because he felt obligated to. I told him I thought he should go alone and I could see the relief on his face. That was-" Sam looks at the wall for a second, “that was the hardest thing I’ve ever said. I still loved him even if I knew it wasn’t right anymore.” He meets Gabriel’s eyes. “And I just killed the mood, didn’t I. Sorry about that. Now you see why my place isn’t party central.”

“Nah, you’re fine Samsquatch. It happens to all of us.”

“What did you just call me?”

“Samsquatch. You know, cause you’re tall. You’re like half Sam, half Sasquatch.”

“What’s a Sasquatch?”

“Well-“ Gabriel scratches his head, “you’re not gonna like this description much. It’s a big humanoid type creature that lives in the forest. They’re like a myth, or a fairy- never mind, forget that part. Anyway, I guess it’s like a gorilla, but it’s like nine feet tall or something. Covered in long hair.”

Sam opens his mouth to speak and then snaps it shut really fast. He takes a bite of halibut. “You ever find anything on the fish?” he motions to the laptop with his head as he chews.

“Right, almost forgot about that,” Gabriel types in the search bar and clicks on the first link. “Well that’s a letdown. It says it was named after a chef who supposedly prepared them as a delicacy for some king. Bummer.”

“Yes, what a bummer.”

“Do you want to see what that fish looks like so you know what you’re eating?”

“No. I do not. Brady did that to me one time and I went vegetarian for six months. Do not show me a picture of this fish.”

“Good choice, it’s an ugly bastard.”

Sam's phone blares rock music from the other room.

“Nice ringtone,” Gabriel smirks as Sam runs to grab it.

“Hey, Dean, what's up?”

“Callin’ to check on the case, Sammy, figured you'd be breaking for lunch about now. How's it going?”

“Another continuance.”

“Are you shitting me? How is she getting away with that?!”

“Another change in representation, the new lawyer needs time to prepare. The judge is pissed, he gave them until Monday and he said no more.”

“Well it's about damn time someone got pissed, this is ridiculous.”

“Yeah I know.”

“So what are you up to? You wanna come for dinner tonight? The kids would love to see Uncle Sammy.”

“No, I've ah, I've got a strange situation here. I think it'd be best if I stay home,” Sam steps around the corner into the entryway.

“What's goin on?”

“Well, you're not gonna believe this, but when I got home from court one of my old professors from Stanford was in my house. He's got amnesia or something, he's concocting the strangest stories, and none of it makes sense.”

“Dude, call the fucking cops! What the fuck?!”

“No, he's harmless, seriously.”

“Sam, if you don't hang up the phone right now and call the police, I will.”

Sam thinks about this again. Why isn’t he rushing to call the police? He doesn’t know, he can’t put his finger on it. There’s just something in his gut telling him the professor isn’t going to hurt him.

“Dean, trust me, he's not a threat. He's actually a nice guy, he's just mixed up. I've contacted Stanford to reach his husband; I'll make sure he gets home safe and sound.”

“This is not your problem. This is why there are police and mental health professionals. I'm dead serious, call the cops.”

“Just let me handle this my way, please? Contrary to what you think I actually am an adult.”

“If you end up dead from some serial killer I'll kill you.”

Sam chuckles. “Yeah, how does that work again?”

“Call me every hour. If I don't hear from you I'm calling the cops.”

“No! I'm not calling you every hour! What is it, noon? I'll call you at six.”

“You call me at two or I'll have the police on your doorstep and be heading there from Lawrence.”

“Dean-”

But Dean hangs up.

Shit, Sam thinks. Why did I even say anything? I'll never hear the end of this now.

Sam tosses his phone on the couch as he heads back to his food.

“You hear all that?”

Gabriel looks up from his internet search of fish and nods. “Every word.”

“Figures.”

Gabriel sees a pop up in the corner. “Another email.” He slides the laptop back to Sam.

“Huh,” Sam takes a bite of salad as he reads. “This woman says she Skyped with both professors two evenings ago and she assures me they're fine. She's forwarding my information to Nick though, just because she knows this will interest him.”

“Well, it's a start.”

“A start to what?”

“Proving to you that I'm an angel from another universe.”

“What is an angel anyway?”

“It's not worth taking the time to explain.”

Gabriel watches Sam’s movements closely. He looks at the way Sam holds his fork, the way he raises his arm to take a bite, at his mouth as he chews, the way he absently brushes his hair off his brow as he reads the email again. Gabriel wonders, and not for the first time since this little scenario has started unfolding, what exactly would happen if he made a small show of his power to Sam? Just snapped up a new fork and handed it over when Sam dropped his. Or snapped Sam’s phone to him from the other room when it started blaring.

He’s becoming more and more certain that it wouldn’t have a desirable effect. This Sam seems to be keen on facts and proof, what could be more proof than Gabriel snapping himself away? But seeing Gabriel disappear and snap back into the room might give the man a stroke. Especially after what he found on a quick internet search when Sam left the room.

From what Gabriel could gather, there is absolutely nothing in this universe even remotely relating to religion, Gods, or God his father, monsters, nothing exists with power outside of a normal human, and there doesn’t appear to even be fairytales or myths surrounding anything of the sort. How this world came to so closely mirror his own is beyond his understanding. So much of his own universe is based to faith and belief, two things that don’t even exist here. Children don’t even believe in Santa Claus, much less the tooth fairy. Snapping his fingers and handing Sam a puppy probably isn’t going to go well.

And as concerned as he is about Sam’s reaction, he has a mounting dread about how the good professor will take it. Twice around the time he originally took this vessel he had jumped into a universe where an alternate version of the man existed. Neither time had gone well. The first man had passed out cold after screaming and clutching his chest when Gabriel rounded a corner and came face to face with him. Gabriel had thought he died, but the man came to some time later. His nerves seemed to be shot after the experience, though. He trembled when he looked at Gabriel, he couldn’t speak; his eyes were wide and vacant. It made Gabriel feel bad. But feeling bad then was nothing compared to how he felt when the second man actually died. He’d had a heart attack and dropped on the spot, completely dead.

You’d think seeing yourself wouldn’t be so scary, and maybe in the modern world it wouldn’t. You hear the sayings about how everyone has a twin; heck, you can even find pictures of people who share an uncanny resemblance to one another from opposite sides of the world. But coming face to face with someone who is your exact clone? Something about that isn’t fathomable to humans. It damages their sense of “self” somehow. And Gabriel really doesn’t want to kill this poor professor. The man is innocent, he doesn’t deserve it.

“Hey, you okay?”

Sam’s voice snaps Gabriel out of his thoughts and he blinks, glancing around.

“Yeah, just thinking.”

“About what?”

“Just rethinking the whole “meet the professor” plan. I don’t think we can avoid it at this point though, the email has already been sent.”

“Why don’t you want to meet the professor?” Sam acts nonchalant but his voice gives away a curious suspicion in its tone.

“I’ve only encountered other versions of my vessel twice and it didn’t go well. Let’s hope since this is a more modern time and your science is advanced enough that you can at least acknowledge the possibility of alternate universes, that he takes it a little better.”

Sam busies himself with cleaning up his lunch, washing the pan and plate and putting everything away. Gabriel watches him some more. Something about watching Sam move is calming. He’s big but he’s graceful, he moves in a masculine and deliberate way, but he still seems gentle. It’s nice. And Gabriel is starting to feel fatigued.

“You looked exhausted all of a sudden,” Sam says as he wipes the island in big sweeping motions.

“Yeah, I am a little tired.”

“You wanna lay down?”

“I’ll be alright, I don’t want to impose.”

“What do you mean impose? You’re staying here tonight anyway. The guest bedroom is ready. Come on, follow me upstairs.”

Gabriel ascends the stairs behind Sam, his feet growing heavy. He feels like he’s trudging, like his feet should be loud on the stairs, but they’re not.

Sam flips the light on in the clean bedroom. “Feel free to hang your clothes up; there are hangers in the closet.”

Sam pulls the fluffy comforter back and Gabriel immediately lies down.

“Or, you know, sleep with your clothes on.”

Gabriel’s breathing immediately goes slow and steady. He’s asleep instantly.

Sam shakes his head and pulls the professor’s shoes off, sitting them neatly by the night stand. He wraps the blanket over the sleeping man and takes a second to closely inspect that face. He even peeks behind the ear, looking for fresh pink scars. If the plastic surgery was in the last couple months there should be some trace somewhere, but there’s nothing. Strange.

Sam pulls the door shut and goes back downstairs. He checks his email and there’s nothing new, so he throws his feet up on the couch to watch TV. This isn’t how he’d normally spend a perfectly good afternoon, but this isn’t a perfectly normal day either. So he settles back and enjoys it.

“Sam. Hey, wake up,” Gabriel jostles Sam’s shoulder softly, “Yo! Sammo! Rise and shine!”

“Hmm?” Sam sits up on the couch and rubs his eyes, looking around his living room. He notices Gabriel by the end of the couch and sits up straighter. “What? What’s going on?”

“Email. I was surfing the web and it popped up. It’s from Nick Engel, figured you’d want to see it a-sap.”

“Oh! Yeah, thanks, I can’t believe I fell asleep. I haven’t taken a nap in years.” Sam stands and stretches, his arms rising above his head, his elbows bent so his hands touch his shoulders. His head goes back and his eyes close.

Gabriel is struck with the sheer size of Sam. He towers over Gabriel’s vessel. Gabriel sees a small slip of Sam’s stomach as his shirt comes up during the stretch. He makes a distinct stretching groan that all humans make.

“Geez, Sam, we could paint you green and call you jolly.”

Sam half laughs through a sigh as he drops his arms. He looks at Gabriel with dimples spotting his cheeks. “What does that mean? Paint me green?”

“Nevermind.” Gabriel returns to the laptop in the kitchen and Sam follows. He slides it over for Sam to read.

“Dear Mr. Winchester,” Sam says under his breath, “my friend in the Stanford HR department relayed a strange message to me today. She states you know the whereabouts of my husband and want to be sure that I know he’s currently in your home in Overland Park, Kansas. I find myself utterly confused and intrigued by this message because my husband George is currently enjoying a lovely cup of coffee across from me in a quaint café in Istanbul. Despite my husband’s many talents I’m quite certain that he can’t be on two sides of the globe at once.
I understand that you had George for one semester at Stanford over ten years ago so I assume you’d recognize him. This has piqued my interest in seeing this man that claims to be George. Is there a way we could set up a Skype meeting for tomorrow morning? If you’re available around 8am that would be 4pm here. That should give us time to search around for a more reliable internet connection to maintain Skype. If this works for you please let me know at your earliest convenience. Thank you so much, Nick Engel.”

Sam looks up at Gabriel quickly. “Did you write this?” His tone is sharp. It’s the only thing that makes sense. It’s not possible for George Engel to be on the other side of the world having coffee with his husband, because he’s currently staring at Sam across the island in his kitchen.

“What? No! Why would you-“

“I’m very serious here, don’t lie to me.”

“Sam, why the hell would I send you an email asking to set up a Skype to see a man that I don’t want to see? How is that logical?”

“Why don’t you want to see him?” Sam’s eyes narrow.

“Because the last time I saw another version of me he died. That’s some pretty heavy shit to carry on my shoulders. I bump into a guy in a brothel and he just keels over, real mood killer let me tell you.”

“A brothel?”

“That’s what you’re fixed on? Not that a man died, but that I was in a brothel? Really? If you knew me that wouldn’t shock you.”

“I feel like I know you and it shocked me.” Sam doesn’t think before he says it but he immediately wishes he hadn’t. He shouldn’t feel like he knows an insane man standing in his kitchen. That’s not normal. Wait- is he insane? Is the professor really in Istanbul? How…?

“I feel like I know you too. It’s pretty damn weird, considering I didn’t spend much time with the other Sam outside of torturing him.”

“You tortured someone?”

“Well not when you say it like that. That sounds horrible. I just tried to teach him a lesson-“

The conversation is interrupted by a loud banging on the door.

“Who would that be?”

Sam rounds the island and quickly heads to the door as the banging starts again. He opens the door to two police officers standing there.

“Dean.” He says, knowing exactly why they’re here.

“Are you Sam Winchester?”

“Yes. I’m so sorry my brother called you, there wasn’t any reason for it, officer.”

“He said there was a mentally unstable man here and he feared for your safety, is it alright if we step inside?”

“Yeah, please, come on in.” Sam steps out of the way to allow them in just as Gabriel speaks from the doorway.

“Mentally unstable? Dean called me mentally unstable? I’m offended.” He leans into the door jam and crosses his arms, calm and collected.

“I’m sorry, and you are?” an officer asks.

“Gabriel.”

“And your last name Gabriel?”

Gabriel glances at Sam, just a quick flick of the eyes.

“Winchester-“ Sam pipes in, stepping to Gabriel’s side.

Gabriel’s eyes go a little wide and he rubs his nose to cover a smile.

“Winchester? Are you two related?”

“Yes- yeah- we uh, we eloped. Just today. Last minute thing. Hadn’t seen him in years and he showed up and the flame was still there, you know. These things happen.” Sam is awkwardly shoving his hands in his back pockets looking more uncomfortable by the second.

“And your brother doesn’t know you eloped?”

“See that’s the thing, boys,” Gabriel says, letting the lies roll off his tongue, “Deano never liked me, never approved of his little brother dating me. Always thought Sam could do better,” Gabriel turns into Sam and slips a hand behind his back and places a palm on Sam’s flat abs. He can feel the muscles under that shirt. “And really, I mean look at him, Sam could do better. No question. But there’s just always been something between us. We can’t shake it. So when I showed up on his doorstep and we picked up where we left off it just felt right, ya know? So we decided to make it official.”

“Do you have any ID, Mr. Winchester?”

“Which one of us are you asking?” Gabriel grins.

“You, Gabriel.”

“Oh, no, I’m sorry; my luggage was lost on my flight. Hope to have it back in a few days, but good luck with that, right? And then my carry on was stolen and it had my wallet and everything in it. I used what little cash I had to rent a car and show up here.”

“So you drove without a license?”

“Yes, officer, I guess I did. Sorry about that, I didn't think that one through. Marriage isn’t technically legal yet either, not until I get a replacement.”

“Did you file a police report?”

“Well, I filed a report with airport security. Does that count?” Gabriel knows that question was meant to trip him up; he can tell by the cops expression that he passed. Good thing he hung out in an airport wreaking havoc a few years back, he's pretty well versed in airport procedure.

“Yeah, that counts,” one of the officers chuckles, “and I'm sorry about your luggage, man. I've lost my luggage twice, you’re never gettin’ that back.”

“Uh, so frustrating. I’ve got to go buy clothes and everything. That’s if I can ever get this one out of the bedroom, we just woke up from a nap and we’re already back at it.” Gabriel rubs his hand over Sam’s six pack and feels him tense. Sam doesn’t show it though, he just smiles through the redness in his cheeks.

The officer’s clear their throats and look anywhere but at the couple.

“Right, well, you’ll want to have a serious discussion with your brother, Mr. Winchester. He can’t call the cops just because he doesn’t like your new husband, that’s a criminal offense. We could press charges for that.”

“Yes- Yes, officer, I understand.” Sam steps out of Gabriel’s arms and extends his hand to each officer to shake. “Absolutely. I will, I promise. I’ll call him as soon as you leave. I’m so sorry you made a trip here for nothing, you guys have better things to do- I know that. Hey can I get you guys something to drink or anything?” Sam smiles a big wide grin, all charm.

“No, thank you for the hospitality, sir, but we’ll be going. Let you two get back to your- uh- honeymoon.”

The officers turn and exit, closing the door behind them with an decided click. Sam leans on the door for a second and exhales a breath.

“I’m going to kill Dean.”

“Well, in his defense, weren’t you supposed to call him at 2? It’s after 4, he probably thought I murdered you.”

“Shit,” Sam says as he goes to find his phone.

“I’m going to kill you,” Sam says into the phone, his teeth gritted as he ascends the stairs.

Gabriel goes back to the laptop to give Sam some privacy in which to threaten his brother. He minimizes Sam’s email and goes back to his web search. He'd woken up from his nap to find Sam snoozing on the couch. Rather than wake him he'd tip toed to the laptop and fired it up. He’d been searching every random thing he could think of.

There’s no war here. Or at least there hasn’t been in 47 years, no war in the entire world. And they don’t fight wars over religion obviously, they fight over greed. Humanity is seen as one large race, there isn’t a distinction between black, white, hemispheres, facial features. None of it. They’re humans.

There’s no homophobia either. It’s seen as normal; they’re allowed to marry just like anyone else.

This universe seems so peaceful compared to his own. Gabriel has a tiny thought pique in his brain. Could all the problems in his own universe really stem from religion? Is that possible?

No. No way. His Father doesn’t make mistakes. Right?

“WELL YOU COULD HAVE CALLED ME BEFORE YOU CALLED THE POLICE! I’VE NEVER HAD THE POLICE IN MY HOUSE, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!”

Gabriel hears Sam's voice boom from above him. A few minutes later he hears Sam’s feet on the stairs. Sam tosses his phone on the black table with a clatter and stomps into the kitchen.

Gabriel doesn’t look away from the laptop. “Hey, do you guys have birthdays?”

“Professor, I can’t with your weird ass questions right now. You’re gonna have to give me a minute here, okay?”

“Right, sorry.”

Sam puts his hands on his hips and looks up at the ceiling taking deep breaths. “What do you mean do we have birthdays, why wouldn’t we have birthdays?”

“Yeah, no, but do you celebrate them? See, where I’m from it’s this whole thing, like, where did birthday celebrations come from. Was it early Christians or maybe the Romans, just, how did it start, ya know? I mean, I was around for it and I didn’t pay attention. I’ve always been curious.”

Sam lowers his head to look at Gabriel. “Man, you are full of some weird shit.”

“It was just a question,” Gabriel mutters as he starts another google search.

“Yes. Yes, we have birthday parties. Is that what you’re asking? Cake, balloons, all that.”

“Ugh, Thank you! I don’t know why that was bugging me, but it was.”

Sam shakes his head and opens the fridge to get a bottle of water. “Want one?”

“No, thanks. So it sounded like you and Dean had quite the brotherly bonding moment there.”

“I can’t believe he called the cops. He was driving over here too; I told him if he got within a mile of me I’d beat him to a pulp.” Sam pauses to gulp water. “I wouldn’t, but he doesn’t know that.”

“Yes he does. Hey, look on the bright side, hubby. At least I got to feel you up, nice abs by the way.” Gabriel winks.

Sam snorts on his water and covers his mouth. “Shut up,” He grabs a paper towel to wipe his chin. “I still can’t believe we lied to the cops. What am I doing?”

“I can’t believe they bought it.”

“What, you don’t think they’d believe that you married me?”

Gabriel laughs loudly. “Pretty sure you got that backwards, Sammich! Guy like you? You’re way outta my league.”

“Nah, come on. Don’t sell yourself short.” Sam winks at Gabriel.

Gabriel groans. “Really, Sam? That’s the best you got? Make fun of a guy for his height?”

“No, I’m kidding. You’re a good looking guy, I’d be lucky to find a guy like you.”

“Yeah, well, I’ll have you know that my true form is a hundred times your size. I have to squeeze to fit in this vessel. So don’t go getting a big head just because you’re taller than me right now.”

“Aaaand we’re back to the weird. Give me the laptop; I need to email Professor Nick back.” Sam pulls the laptop away before Gabriel can close the search window. “Why are you searching gay marriage?”

“Well, I was originally searching marriage to see what the purpose for it is here, because where I’m from the ceremony started as a promise between the couple and God. But then I got all these images of gay weddings coming up and I got distracted because that’s illegal in some places back home.”

“Illegal? Why?”

“Some people think it’s a sin. Most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, like my father gives a shit about two men or two women together.” Gabriel scoffs.

“What’s a sin?”

“Just forget it, get back to your email.”

“As long as you're not picking out colors for our wedding I don't care.”

“Oh please, Sam, I've been planning my wedding since I was five. Our colors will be lavender and silver and we’ll have an evening wedding in the spring.”

Sam stops typing his email to look up. “Lavender? You've gotto be joking. I would never have a lavender wedding. It'll be fall and we'll have fall colors, yellows and oranges and reds.

“Navy and oranges mixed with neutrals and soft gold accents.”

“Deal,” Sam goes back to typing, “now we can focus on the menu.”

“I'm game to go cake tasting whenever you're ready.”

Sam laughs softly. “Cake is your choice; I get to pick the fish.”

“Oh lord, a whole room full of fish? Can you imagine the smell?”

Lord?”

“Yeah, that's my Dad.”

“Oh, like Lloyd?”

“They're pretty similar.”

“Okay, email sent. Now what do we do with ourselves?”

Gabriel shrugs. “This is your world, I'm just visiting.”

“That’s right. My world. Well, professor, why don’t you tell me about your world?”

“I’m not your professor.”

“I keep forgetting, sorry. Gabriel, why don’t you tell me a little about your world?”

“What do you want to know?”

“Good question,” Sam leans down with his elbows on the counter, thinking. Maybe details about this delusional world would give a clue as to the professor’s mental state? Doubtful, even though the man seems rational and lucid the fact that he’s invented this whole other universe in his head proves that he’s not.

“How about you,” Sam goes on, “tell me about you. An angel or whatever you said you do, let’s talk about that.”

Gabriel looks at his hands. “That’s- well, I don’t know how to explain that to you so you’ll understand it.”

“Give it a shot; I’m smarter than you’ll think.”

“I don't doubt your intelligence; on the contrary, I’m certain you’re above average in that category. It’s difficult because there’s no comparison in your world. This universe is based on science, and while science is a growing area in mine, for the most part mine has been ruled by belief. People have lived lives based on faith in something they can't see or feel or hear, something they have no proof actually exists. It's been that way for the majority of the time humans have been on earth. I’m part of that belief system. While angels are real and exist, we rarely show ourselves to humanity. Humans choose to believe in us, not because they have proof we’re real. Does that make sense?”

“None whatsoever.”

“That’s what I figured.”

“So you’re not human?”

Gabriel shakes his head. “I’m inside a human, but no, this body, this face- not really me.”

Sam knits his brows together. “Hmm. But you said you have a dad? If you’re not human then is your dad?”

“No, my dad is most certainly not human. He created humans though.”

“Your dad created humans,” Sam says with an unreadable expression, “so you don’t think humans evolved?”

“Oh, buddy, you just opened a can of worms.”

“In what way?”

“So- okay,” Gabriel pinches the bridge of his nose as he gathers his thoughts. “In my world you’ve got people who have complete and total faith in what their religion teaches them, right? They believe whatever creation tale their faith tells them. For some it’s God, my father. ‘And on the seventh day God created’, it goes on and on, there's a whole chapter about it in one of his books. Others believe in an 18,000 year old egg, some believe in fire demons and fire giants, or a rainbow serpent, alien eggs, the list is never-ending. “

Sam eyes are wide and round, his mouth open. “What?”

“Wait, I’m getting to the point, give me a second. So you’ve got these humans who believe in these religions, they worship and praise their Gods down in their very soul, ya know? But then you’ve got science, which has been growing leaps and bounds in the last 800 years or so. And it, science, it creates doubt. The more they discover through science the more doubt there is. It’s like a sickness for some. They’ve lost their faith, they don’t know what to believe, and it’s a crisis. So this evolution thing really freaks out the devout. You understand?”

Sam stares blankly. He shakes his head but he doesn't speak.

“I got a little too detailed there,” Gabriel scratches his head, “this is hard to explain.”

“I don't know what half of those things are, Giants, demons, did you say alien eggs?”

“Are there aliens here?”

“You mean aliens from another planet?”

Gabriel nods.

“No, there's no proof of them.”

“Huh. I've never seen them but I've always wondered.”

“I'm just-” Sam looks at the wall behind Gabriel, a worry line forming between his eyes. “I don't even know.”

Gabriel doesn't respond, he stares down at his hands. He did an extremely poor job explaining anything. But how do you explain religion? He wishes he had a dictionary, but a dictionary in this universe wouldn't be any help.

“Ok,” Sam says, “so which one is right? Your dad has to be since you're real, that's what I assume.”

“No, they're all right.”

“How? How can they all be right?”

“I don't know, it's just the way it is.”

Sam's mouth moves but no words come out. “So,” he finally manages, “so what do you do. Not your dad on anyone else. What do youdo? You didn't answer that.”

“Well, at one time I was a messenger. I delivered revelation from my father to humans.”

“You don't do that anymore?”

“No, my father left. Not many messages to deliver anymore.”

“He left? Why?”

“Not sure really. Probably because my brothers wouldn't stop fighting. Plus humanity is always fighting too; I think he just got fed up.”

Brothers, that's something Sam can latch onto. Brothers are normal. Run with that, Sam.

“You mentioned two brothers before, Lucifer and Castiel, do you have others?”

“More than I can count. Sisters too. But I was closest with Lucifer, Michael and Raphael. And later Castiel, but that was way later, after I ran away.”

More brothers and sisters than he can count. Nope, not normal.

“You ran away from home?”

“Yup. Got tired of the fighting, just like dad.”

“So what do you do now?”

Gabriel looks to the heavens for guidance. What does he say here?

“I teach people lessons.”

A smile quirks the side of Sam's mouth. “So, let me get this straight, you're not my professor but you're a teacher?”

Gabriel chuckles softly. “In a manner of speaking, I guess you're right, Sammich.”

“Right.” Sam smiles a little more looking directly at Gabriel.

Gabriel feels a flutter in his stomach. No, don't do it Gabriel, don't you dare develop a crush on parallel universe Sam Winchester. Stop it. Right. Now.

Gabriel clears his throat and breaks eyes contact. “Tell me about yourself, what do you do?”

“I'm a lawyer.”

“I know that, but what kind?”

“Contracts mostly, but I take cases for friends too. That's my biggest case right now, a divorce for my friend Jess.”

“Nasty break up?”

“Really nasty. And they're both quite wealthy and fighting over money. That's why she keeps switching lawyers, buying time so she has a little more time with access to her assets. It'll backfire though; I'll get that returned in the settlement. She's a piece of work.”

“Jess is married to a woman?”

“Yeah, she and Ruby haven't even been married two years. I told Jess that Ruby wasn't right for her.”

“What is contract law?”

“Basically you write agreements and contracts between private individuals or between companies. Negotiations are usually worked out outside the courtroom so I rarely have to go to court for those.”

“No offense, but your job sounds tedious and boring.”

“It can be,” Sam looks at the clock, “you hungry?”

Gabriel knows this is an intentional subject change but he lets it slide. “No, I don't eat.”

“Right, I keep forgetting. Wanna watch me eat again?”

“Depends, are you eating fish?”

Sam laughs. “No, I was gonna walk over to Ellen's. She got a great restaurant a few blocks over. Charlie says she has great brownie alamode.”

“Hmm…” Gabriel leans toward Sam on the counter, trying very hard not to notice that Sam is staring at his mouth when he speaks. “You have my attention, tell me more.”

“I'm buying.”

“You're on.”

Sam stands up. “Ok, let me use the bathroom real quick. Do you need to go?”

“I don't have bodily functions like that.”

Sam's step falters a bit. He probably went while I was asleep. “Right, sure.”

The walk is pleasant; the weather is warm but not oppressive as summers can be in Kansas. They stroll along, chatting and in no rush. Small talk is easy and simple.

The minute they walk in the door Sam knows something is up. Ellen looks at them coming in and bumbles a plate, managing to balance it and not drop it to the floor. Her eyes widen and her eyebrows arch.

Dean. Dean called her. Dammit.

“Sam!” She greets them brightly, covering her surprise before Gabriel notices. She sets the plates in front of the diners and makes sure they have everything they need before moving to the table Sam and Gabriel chose.

“How are you, sweetie?” She leans down to kiss Sam's cheek.

“I'm good, Ellen, you?”

“Just fine, honey, you know me. I'm better than yesterday and not as good as I'll be tomorrow.” She winks at Sam wiping her hands on her apron. “Who's your friend?” She smiles big and bright at Gabriel.

“Ellen, this is Gabriel, Gabriel, this is Ellen. She's my second mom.”

“Stop it, Sam, you'll make me cry,” she slaps at Sam's shoulder and then extends her hand to Gabriel, “pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Gabriel shakes her hand, “I hear you have good brownie alamode.”

“You musta been talkin’ to Charlie,” she shakes her head. “Don't get me wrong, it's good, but nothing beats my Sex In a Pan.”

Sam makes a show of rolling his eyes.

“I'm sorry, sex in a pan? Please enlighten me, my dear.” Gabriel rests his head in his hand, giving her his complete attention.

“It's got a pecan crust, and then a layer of whipped cream cheese, chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, whipping cream and topped with grated chocolate. It's positively decadent.”

“Hit me, beautiful.” Gabriel wiggles his eyebrows and Ellen grins.

“Usual, Sam?” She asks as she turns to walk away.

“Yes, ma'am, thank you.”

She enters the kitchen and Gabriel looks at Sam seriously.

“You entice me with brownies alamode but you don't mention Sex In a Pan =?”

“I didn't think about it, I don't eat it.”

“Never?”

Sam shakes his head. “Not since I was a kid.”

“Why?”

“I like to eat healthy.”

“That's unfortunate.”

Sam chuckles a little.

“So, second mom?” Gabriel questions.

“Yeah, my mom died when I was eleven. Ellen helped raise us.”

There’s a pause from Gabriel. “I'm sorry.”

Sam can't help but notice the sincerity in Gabriel's voice. “It's okay. She died of breast cancer. We had time to prepare a little, it wasn't a huge shock. Not that it was easy either.”

“No, I wouldn't expect it to be easy. So that picture beside Dean’s, is that your mom?”

“Yeah, her and my Dad and my uncle Bobby. He helped raise us too.”

“What about your dad?”

Sam shifts uncomfortably.

“You know what; I shouldn't be asking these things. Forget that.” Gabriel looks out the window.

“No, it's okay. He's, uh, he's better now. He didn’t do very well when she died. At first he just kind of shut down, but then he started drinking. Mom tried to prepare us; she’d been through it with her Mom. My Grandma Deanna died of breast cancer too. So mom, she had us all set up with grief counseling and everything, she tried so hard to make it okay, but she couldn't. And Dad, I think he tried, I really do. But eventually he just gave up caring about anything.”

Sam puts his hands on the table and picks at his nails.

“The first anniversary of her death was the first time he went into the hospital. He was really bad drunk. I was 12 and Dean was 16. I remember him throwing up and Dean trying to help him but he just screamed and roared and cried. I was so scared. He was drunk every day, all the time by that point, but this was different. He ended up passing out and Dean couldn’t get him awake so he called the ambulance. He was in the hospital for a while, they dried him out before they released him and tried to get him treatment but he refused.”

Sam looks around the restaurant, seeming to gather his thoughts. Gabriel really wishes he hadn’t asked this. It’s obvious this is hard for Sam to talk about.

“Dean tried to keep me busy all the time. He took me to the movies; picked me up from band practice and we'd go to Ellen's or Bobbys and hang out. We stayed with them a lot; we even had our own bedrooms at their houses.”

Sam sits back and clears his throat. “They tried so hard to give us something normal, like a family. That's what really got us through; I don't know what would have happened without them.”

Sam pauses when he hears Ellen's voice talking to a table across the restaurant. “Sorry for laying that on you.” Sam smiles half-heartedly.

“No, I asked. Thank you for telling me.”

Sam nods. “Yeah, I guess.”

Ellen arrives with their food. “You boys okay?” She looks seriously at Sam.

He sighs heavily. “All good, just talking.”

She looks between them. “Mm hmm. Need anything else?”

“No, thank you,” Gabriel says, eyeing the dessert on his plate.

She walks off and he looks at Sam's salad. “Poor plants,” he mutters.

“Yeah, well it smells better than fish.”

“You got me there.” Gabriel picks up his fork and sets it down again. “You said your Dad's okay now?”

“Yeah, it took three hospital stays for alcohol poisoning and two stints in rehab but he's been clean for years.”

“That's good. Are you guys close?”

Sam shakes his head, chewing. “No. He remarried about ten years ago and moved away. He has a step son he adopted, Adam. Sometimes I think he’s trying to make up for the shit he put Dean and I through with Adam. He calls me maybe once a month and tells me everything Adam is doing. Then he calls Dean to talk to the kids and that’s about it. We see him once a year or so.”

“I’m sorry, Sam.” Man, could the kid have had a harder time with his parents or what?

“It is what it is. I think when he looks at Dean and I he thinks about Mom and it just hurts too much. I don’t know, maybe not. But he always seems sad around us so I don’t push to see him.”

Gabriel studies Sam. This conversation wasn’t easy but Sam seems to have resigned himself to this limited relationship with his father, which is tragic, but maybe for the best.

“Okay, change the subject.” Sam looks down, moving the lettuce around.

“Right,” Gabriel looks at his plate and lowers his voice, “I'm not gonna lie, Samsquatch, I'm a little concerned with the look of my dessert. This does not look decadent.”

Sam laughs loudly, covering his mouth. “Just try it. If you don't like it I'll buy you the brownie.”

“I don't want to hurt Ellen's feelings,” Gabriel whispers, leaning toward Sam.

“It'll be fine, she's got tough skin. At least try it.”

Gabriel picks his fork up again and slides it through the layers, getting a small bite. He raises it too his nose and smells it. “Hmm,” he muses. He gingerly slides the fork in his mouth and slowly drags it back out, closing his eyes.

The moan he lets out is positively erotic, especially with the expression on his face. It makes something coil low in Sam’s belly, something he hasn't felt in a long time. He quickly looks away.

“Good?” Sam asks, his eyes locked on his salad.

“I can't even talk right now, it's so good. What it lacks in looks it sure makes up for in taste.” Gabriel takes another bite and groans low in his throat. “Oh my heaven, this is just wrong.”

“So? Whatcha think?”

Ellen's voice cuts into Gabriel's bliss and he opens his eyes.

“Woman, you deserve an award for this. I'm not kidding. You need a statue erected in your honor.”

She throws her head back and cackles in her throaty voice, patting Gabriel's shoulder.

“I'll have Sam start a petition,” she meets Gabriel's eyes and smiles, "I like you.”

“I like you too, might just stick you in my pocket and take you home with me.”

“Oh really? Where you from?”

“Lets just say I'm a long way from home. And no matter what Dean told you, I promise I'm not crazy.” Gabriel winks.

Sam sits up rod straight and Ellen looks at him. “I'll be sure to pass that on,” she says as she walks away.

“Oh relax, Sam. I could tell the minute we walked through the door that she was freaking out.”

Sam exhales the breath he was holding and nods.

“You have to try this.”

“No thanks,” Sam shakes his head taking another bite of salad.

Gabriel holds out a heaping fork. “I'm not taking no for an answer.”

“No, really, I don't eat that stuff.”

“Are you diabetic or something?”

Sam laughs and coughs a little as he swallows, grabbing his water. “No,” he sips, ”no, I just try to keep my eating habits in check.”

“So you can't take one bite of sex? Because seriously, this is like sex in your mouth. It makes love to your taste buds in an unimaginable way.”

“You really have a thing for desserts, don't you?”

Gabriel holds the fork out, not budging.

Fine,” Sam says in exasperation, leaning over and opening his mouth.

Gabriel pushes the fork in and studies Sam's face as he closes his lips around it. Gabriel pulls the fork out slowly and watches as Sam's tongue darts out to catch a bit of whipped cream on the corner. The pink tip brings some seriously dirty thoughts to mind.

Sam savors the bite, closing his eyes and he tastes and swallows. “Shit,” he whispers.

“You don't like it?!”

“No- I do, I like it too much, and that's the problem. Every time I come here I'm gonna crave that now.”

Gabriel smiles. “Describe it to me, what did you taste?”

“Chocolate.”

“That's it? Chocolate? That's all? Come on, Sammo, give me some food porn.”

“Okay,” Sam sits back, licking his lips. “It's sweet.”

“Words, use your words,” Gabriel takes another bite and inhales, “mmmmm, give me more than sweet.” He loads the fork up again and holds it out to Sam.

Sam doesn't hesitate this time. “I'm gonna regret this,” he opens his mouth and closes it around the food, closing his eyes. “It's sticky sweet, rich, fluffy but still thick. The perfect kind of thick that clings a little in your throat. The layers combine to be silky and smooth and sumptuous. The crust gives it just the right amount of texture so you feel like you've got something with substance in your mouth. Something heady and melt-in-your-mouth perfect.”

Sam opens his eyes to see Gabriel staring with obvious intent at his mouth, hanging on Sam's every word. Sam smiles and bites his lip. “How was that?”

“Well, let's just say it's a good thing there's a table covering my lap right now or I'd be really embarrassed.”

Sam's face flames red and he grins, dimples dotting his cheeks. “It's really damn good, basically,” Sam mutters self-consciously.

Gabriel holds the fork vertical in front of his face and makes a show of licking the whipped cream off that Sam missed. “Yeah, it is.”

“Why boys,” Helen says as she saunters up, “if I didn't know better I'd think y'all were flirting.”

Gabriel wouldn't have thought it possible but Sam goes a deeper shade of red.

“Helen, my dear, I've gotta be honest with you,” Gabriel holds his fork up and bounces it at her as her talks, “I've had plenty of sex and this is by far the best sex that's ever been had in my mouth. No question.”

“I know, honey,” she squeezes his arm, “that's what they all say. Can't believe you got Sam to try it though. Haven't seen him eat anything like that in a long time.” Her eyes flash to Sam and Sam casts his eyes down to his plate.

“It's really good, Ellen,” Sam says to his mostly empty salad plate.

“Oh now, Sam just practically wrote me a sonnet of food porn. Don't let his ‘really good, Ellen,’ fool you.” Gabriel mocks Sam's tone making Sam's mouth turn up a little at the corner.

“And with the disturbing mention of food porn I'll take my leave, let me know if you boys need anything.” She moves off to another table.

Gabriel savors another bite. “We should take a pan of this back to your place.”

“No, no way. It's going to be enough just having you stay with me. I don't need the temptation of that sitting in my kitchen.”

Gabriel offers the last bite to Sam and grins as Sam takes it.

“Why, Sam, if I didn't know better I'd think you were flirting with me. Did you just call me a temptation?”

Sam picks up his water and gulps it all down. “That's not what I meant; I just meant it'll be strange having someone stay over at my place.”

“Well that's a letdown.” Gabriel pushes the plate away.

“Do you want me to flirt with you?” Sam wipes his mouth with a napkin, looking anywhere but at Gabriel. He ignores the nervousness in his stomach as he waits for an answer.

Gabriel watches Sam closely. “Maybe. If you didn't believe I was a lunatic then yeah. I'd be up for some serious Sam flirting.”

“Right.” Sam stands and pulls his wallet out tossing money on the table.

“Sam, can I talk to you for a minute, please?” Ellen calls from the door to the kitchen.

“Uh oh, someone's in trouble.” Gabriel sing-songs as Sam saunters away. He doesn't check out Sam's butt. Nope. Not even for a second.

“Sam, Dean told me about this guy. He seems sweet and normal but are you sure he's safe?”

“Yeah, he's harmless. I wouldn't feel so comfortable with him if he wasn't. At least I don't think I would,” Sam glances over his shoulder and notices Gabriel staring at him. Is he checking out my ass?

Gabriel abruptly shifts his eyes away.

“Okay, honey, just be careful. I agree, he seems harmless and my crazy radar is pretty spot on from doing this job so long. I can spot crazy from across a football field. I'll tell Dean that too, he was worried sick.”

“Thanks, Ellen,” Sam leans down and wraps her in a hug.

“Welcome, babe, I'll see you later.”

Gabriel and Sam stroll leisurely, quiet and somewhat uncomfortable. Something about Sam asking if Gabriel wanted him to flirt and Gabriel's admission that he would set things off between them. Where they'd been comfortable and strangely relaxed in each other's company before, now they don't know what to say, conversation seems strained.

Until a huge, goofy, black dog comes barreling at them. Its tongue lolls out one side of its mouth and its tail whips violently back and forth as Sam squats down in its path.

“Hey buddy, whatcha doin?” Sam's voice goes high like he's talking to a small child. “Why're you runnin around all by yourself? That's not safe, big guy.” Sam checks the dog's collar for a tag while Gabriel leans against a lamppost, his mouth quirking up at Sam's gentle demeanor with the animal.

A woman rounds the corner in front of them running frantically and yelling. “Cole! COLE! Oh thank you so much!” She huffs in exertion as she gets closer. “Thank you for catching him! We were at the dog park a few blocks away and someone opened the gate and he just bolted. Scared me to death!”

“Yeah, I bet it did. He's a sweet guy,” Sam says, scratching the drooling dog behind the ears making it whine.

“He is, he thinks he's a lap dog,” the woman snaps the leash on the collar and puts her hands on her hips, catching her breath.

“You take care of your mom, Cole. Don't you give her any more heart attacks, got it?” Sam stands and smiles at the woman. “Have a good day.”

“You too, thanks again.”

“Any time,” Sam looks over at Gabriel leaning into the pole, his hands stuffed in his pockets. Gabriel smiles and Sam returns it.

They move on, a little more relaxed now.

“Why don't you have a dog? You seem to like them.”

“I work too much.” Sam's tone is a bit short.

Gabriel gets the hint and doesn't say anything more, but he knows this isn't the whole story.

“I like dogs too.”

“Yeah?” Sam looks over, his face questioning.

“Sure, they're easier to read than people. Always honest, whatcha see is whatcha get. Ya know?’

“Yeah, I know what you mean."

“You like cats?”

“I dunno,” Sam kicks at a rock, “I never had one. I don't have anything against them. Ellen had one when I was a kid, but it was like 500 years old. All it did was sleep.”

“I find cats are a case by case thing. Some of them are real assholes, but some are pretty cool.”

“Kinda like people.”

“And angels.” Gabriel glances over to look at Sam, hoping he's smiling. He not.

“You seem so normal and then all of a sudden you say some off the wall thing. It throws me.” Sam glances over, “you're really easy to talk to though. Even when you're crazy.”

“I'm not crazy, Sam, I'm not. And you're easy to talk to yourself. I haven't talked to someone the way I talk to you in…” Gabriel tilts his head back, looking at the sky as he thinks, “a long, long time.” He finally says.

“Not even when you were doing porn?”

Gabriel chuckles, he can just feel Sam blushing but he doesn't look over. “The point of porn is kinda notto talk.”

“True.”

They catch up to the rock Sam kicked and Gabriel kicks it ahead of them.

“Did you really do porn?” Sam questions.

“I wish I could say no because I think this is going to bother you, but yeah. I did.”

“I didn't think you were lying.” Sam kicks the rock. “Did you like it?”

“Wouldn't have done it if I hadn't.”

Sam looks up at the sky, shoving his hands in his pockets. “I wish I could do that.”

“Porn? Most guys do.”

“No, just have sex with some random person. I don't know why I can't. It just doesn't work for me.”

Gabriel has a very strong urge to reach over and hold Sam's hand. It's something he's seen humans do a billion times and he's always wondered why. What about it do they like, what's the appeal, why do they have the urge to do it? He thinks he might understand now. It's not really explainable; it's just a feeling of wanting to connect.

Sam clears his throat and brings Gabriel back to the moment. He shoves his hands in his pockets and goes on with the conversation.

“Nothing wrong with that, everyone is different. I can honestly tell you that sex with someone you care for is way better, if that means anything.”

Sam rolls his head toward Gabriel. “It kinda does.”

Gabriel kicks the rock. “So eight o'clock, that's the big reveal?”

“Yup. Nervous?”

“About a couple things, yeah.”

“What are they?”

“That something will happen to the professor when he sees me. I really don't want to go through that again. And that you still won't believe me, even after you see him.”

Sam is quiet until they get to his door and Gabriel leaves him be. But as Sam stops and stands there he looks at Gabriel, his eyes wandering over the angel's face.

“Why wouldn't I believe you?”

“Because I don't know if you can. The fact that I exist will rock you to your foundation, I imagine.”

“Nah, it'll just prove that alternate universes are accessible.”

“If you say so.”

Sam unlocks the door and they move inside.

“You wanna watch TV or something?” Sam kicks his shoes off and sees Gabriel looking at his feet.

“I think I'm ready for bed, kinda tired, Samsquatch.”

“Yeah, okay, you want some pajamas or something? You don't wanna sleep in the clothes again, do you? Do you have other clothes?”

“What do I need other clothes for?”

Sam doesn't know how to answer that so he just moves up the stairs, Gabriel following. Sam flips the spare bedroom light on and points to the end of the hall. “There's a bathroom if you need it. Make yourself at home. You want those pajamas?”

“Nah, I'll just sleep naked,” Gabriel winks up at Sam, “night.”

“Night,” Sam pulls the door shut behind him and crosses the hall to his own room. It's only 7:00 and he's not even tired since he took a nap, but he sets his alarm and settles on the bed to watch TV.

What a freakish day. He can't even figure out how to feel about it. He started out absolutely sure that the professor was crazy. He had amnesia or dementia and had somehow tied Sam into his fantasies. But now… now he actually wants to believe that Gabriel is real. That's a scary thought, because if Gabriel is really his crazy professor then Sam is going to be disappointed.

What if he is Gabriel though? What would that mean for Sam?

It would mean that this is the first guy you've been interested in since Brady. And that's scarier than a crazy professor or an angel from another universe combined.

Sam lays back, hands behind his head as his thoughts spin. He lays like this, lost in his own world until sleep finally settles over him.

Gabriel, on the other hand, lies in bed with an ache in his chest that feels like it might just cave in. Maybe his ribs are closing like fingers around his heart, squeezing it tightly in a bony, macabre grip. He takes a deep breath, stretching the fingers.

Quit being so dramatic. Even if you prove to him you're who you say you are, it's obvious Sam isn't someone who'd be interested in a week long fling. It's not even worth entertaining the thought.

Gabriel still can't figure out why he's here. He should have abandoned this ship the second Sam came home, but no. He felt some need to prove to Sam he isn't crazy.

No, that's not even true.

He likes this Sam. He felt it within the first few minutes. Something clicked. Sam gets his sarcasm, he follows his jokes, and he even plays along. It's fun . And Gabriel can be himself; he's free to be completely himself.

You're going to fuck his whole world up, Gabriel. It's not fair to him. You should leave. Now.

He rolls to his side. Who's he kidding? He's not going anywhere.

His battery is so low. Maybe tomorrow he won't get tired so easily. He's asleep within an hour.

Chapter Text

Day 3

Sam rolls out of bed after he swats his alarm. He must have slept… What, ten hours? Plus a nap yesterday? He never does that. He'll probably be up for days now.

He showers quickly and dresses, then heads out of his room to wake Gabriel.

The door is open, the room empty. The bed is rumpled, blankets twisted up in the middle. Sam looks at the bathroom at the end of the hall but the door is open and it's dark.

He heads down the stairs and rounds the corner to find Gabriel kicked back on the couch watching Laverne and Shirley.

“Morning,” Sam says brightly on his way to the kitchen.

“Mornin’ Sam-a-lam, what's cookin?”

“Are you hungry? What sounds good to you?”

“Sex.” Gabriel looks at Sam over the back of the couch and wiggles his eyebrows. “Sex in a pan sounds good.”

“Sorry, fresh out. How about a fruit smoothie?”

“How about no.” Gabriel settles back into the cushions, “you ever watch this show?”

“Not in probably 20 years,” Sam gets the coffee pot out and fills it, “you like it?”

“Lenny and Squiggy ain't bad, it has its moments.” Gabriel flips off the TV and wanders into the kitchen to sit at the island bar.

“You sleep well?”

“Yeah, you?”

“Can't believe I slept that long, but I guess I needed it.” Sam opens the fridge and pulls out a carton of liquid. “Eggs?”

“Last I checked eggs don't come in carton shape.”

“It's egg substitute, better for your cholesterol.”

“I'll take your word for it.”

Sam busies himself with cooking a quick breakfast and sits on a stool beside Gabriel to eat.

Gabriel pulls the laptop to himself and powers it up. “How does Skype work?”

“It's just video chat, so we can see them and they can see us while we talk. If you're asking for a detailed description of how the application functions then I have no idea. I don't get that in-depth into tech stuff.”

“No, video chat is the explanation I was looking for.”

“You nervous?”

“Yes, I told you that last night.”

Sam nods and eats, not saying anything else. He's nervous too.

Gabriel has been thinking about what he wants to say to Sam since he got out of bed this morning. Something about the mention of flirting last night set things askew between them and Gabriel can’t seem to shake that feeling. He wants to clear the air and let Sam know he wasn’t intentionally trying to make him uncomfortable.

“Sam, I'm sorry for saying I want you to flirt with me. I'm not sure if that was out of line, it probably was, I usually say stuff out of line. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable and I could tell you were after we left the restaurant. I'll try to keep my mouth in check.”

“Huh?” Sam looks at Gabriel, his eyebrows arched high making lines in his forehead. “Man, I asked. Don't even worry about it. You didn't say anything out of line. I don't know why it got awkward but that wasn't on you. Forget it.”

Gabriel runs his fingers over the keyboard, listening to the soft clicking sound they make. He doesn't know what to say, and if he says anything right now he's afraid it will ruin how nice Sam just was to him. He presses his lips together and makes an effort not to speak. He can't do it.

“Why do you put your coffee pot away?”

“What?”

“I've never known someone who puts their coffee pot away every day. Why bother? Don't you just get it out tomorrow?”

“I like things in their place. I don't like clutter,” Sam says shortly.

Gabriel should have kept his mouth shut. He slides his hands over the keys some more.

“Give me that and we'll get ready,” Sam pushes his plate away and slides the laptop in front of him. He types in the address and then pulls up his contacts. He already added Nick Engel so he hits the video call and gives it a shot. They're only five minutes early.

Nick Engel pops up within 20 seconds. The video is a little grainy and halting, but Nick smiles when he sees Sam.

“Mr. Winchester, I assume?”

“Yes sir, call me Sam.”

“Nice to meet you, Sam, I'm Nick. George is getting tea, he should be right back. So where is this mystery twin of my husband's?”

“He's beside me, he's just a little nervous.” Sam turns away from the laptop to look at Gabriel. “Come on,” he motions Gabriel over with his head

“I'll wait until they're both there.”

“He's waiting until you're both there,” Sam says, “what's the weather like there?”

“It's perfect. We've had perfect weather the whole trip. Hopefully it stays that way.”

“Where else are you traveling?”

“We've already been to Madrid, Barcelona, Monaco, Paris, Lucerne, Venice, Florence, Rome, Vienna and now Istanbul. We're almost done on the continent, we'll make a few stops in Germany and one in the Netherlands and then we'll hit the UK. Edinburgh and Dublin are must-sees for me but we'll still have a few weeks when we get there, so we don't have to rush.”

“Woah…” Sam sits in shock. “You weren't kidding; this really is the trip of a lifetime.”

“It is. Our plan is to save and every five years have a summer like this. Next one Africa, then either Australia or Russia, and so on.”

“That's incredible. I'm jealous.”

Gabriel hears the professor laugh. “You travel much?”

“Not anymore, I used to love it though.”

“What stopped you?”

It's at this point that Gabriel hears the professor's voice. Sam does too, and it shows on his face. He glances at Gabriel and then back at the screen with anticipation.

“Oh bollocks!” There's a fumbling sound. “So sorry, Nick, I spilled a spot of tea. Did you start without me?”

“He's British?!” Gabriel practically yells in a hushed voice.

Sam glances at him quickly but his eyes are back on the screen in a millisecond.

“Professor?”

“Sam! So good to see you! How've you been, my boy? More to the point, where this handsome chap you speak of?”

“I…” Sam makes eye contact with Gabriel again.

“Really? He's British and you still thought I was lying?” Gabriel whispers.

“Sam?” Professor Nick says. “Could you introduce us to your friend?”

“Just a second, he's a little shy at the moment.” Sam looks at Gabriel. “I watched a documentary about amnesia once and it said some people wake up with a totally different accent. It's a syndrome or something. Get over here.”

Gabriel is leaning his body far away from the laptop and as Sam tries to turn it to put him in the frame he stands and moves.

“Really?! Come on!” Sam whispers impatiently.

“Sam? Everything okay?” One of the professors cuts in.

“Just a second.”

“Sam,” the other professor, Nick, that one's Nick, Gabriel thinks, “Sam, are you feeling alright? We've been concerned about your mental state since I first heard you were trying to contact me-”

“Gabriel, they think I'm crazy, get over here!”

“Now you know how it feels!” Gabriel says from the opposite side of the kitchen.

Please!”

Sam's tone is desperate and it breaks Gabriel’s resolve.

“Fine, but whatever happens is not my fault,” he says as he rounds the island, “I warned you.”

And with that he steps into the video.

Nick’s mouth falls full open and Gabriel swears he can see the man's tonsils.

George sits stone still for several seconds before he yelps loudly and attempts to shove his chair back. It must catch on something though, because he's flipped backwards in his chair and as he falls back his knees bump the table making the video shake violently.

“Is he okay?!” Gabriel barks. “Did he hit his head?!”

“Fine! Just a little bump,” George's voice comes from the floor as Nick turns to help him up, “right as rain.” The men right the chair and sit again, and then George leans toward the camera. “Now, let me have a look at you. Come closer.”

Gabriel pulls a stool over and sits close to Sam, so they're both in the frame.

“Shite, Nick, what’d’you make o’ this, then?” George pushes his glasses off his nose and then drops them in place again, squinting.

Apparently George’s accent gets thicker when he surprised.

Nick shakes his head much longer than needed, apparently struck dumb.

Bugger me,” George whispers. He turns to glance at Nick and sees him still shaking his head. George swats his husbands shoulder. “Oh now, you normally won't bloody well shut up about your science but one look at him and you're a daft pillocks!”

Sam looks confused by what the professor says but doesn't comment, he just studies him closely.

“What's your name again, chap? I think Sam told us in an email but I've forgotten.”

“Gabriel, nice to meet you, George.”

“Gabriel, yes, I do apologize. Blimey, I can barely think when I look at you. It's like I'm sloshed or something.”

“Well you're taking it better than the last me I met, I'll give you that.”

“What happened to him?” George pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

“He died.”

“In a brothel,” Sam supplies.

The video freezes briefly and then connects again.

“The fuck, Sam? You finally find your voice and that's what you say?”

“Sorry- sorry, it just came out,” Sam shakes his head like he's clearing a fog, “so Gabriel is from an alternate universe.”

“Yes, if Nick could ever get his wits about him I imagine he'd have a few questions for Gabriel.” George turns to Nick and snaps his fingers in front of his face. “Come on, then! Do I need to slap you, love?”

Nick blinks deliberately and finally closes his mouth. “Stop it! I'm fine! This is just…” He leans toward the screen and shakes his head, his voice fading away.

“So how did you get here, Gabriel?” George asks.

“Well,” Gabriel raises an eyebrow, thinking. How does he answer this in a way they'll understand? “I have the power to bend time and space, and the control to focus that and create a portal. That portal, once I step into it, takes me wherever it sees fit. And this time I ended up here.”

“So you don't control your destination?” Nick asks.

“No, and it's never taken me the same place twice.”

“When you leave here you move to the next place it sends you?”

“No, it always sends me home. When I'm home and I step in it sends me somewhere else, and when I'm somewhere else and I step in it sends me home.”

“So it's conscious? This portal?” Nick sits back in his chair and crosses his arms.

“Interesting question. I don't know.”

“And you said you have the power to create this portal? Do all humans in your world have this power?”

The conversation is solely between Nick and Gabriel now. Sam is glancing between George and Gabriel, and George is cleaning his glasses peering at the screen.

“I'm not human. But no, humans have no power to create a hole to another universe. They'd have to seriously advance their science to have that capability.”

“You're not human?”

“No. This body is human, but I'm just inhabiting it.”

“Inhabiting it…” Nick's face changes, his expression looks slightly put off. “Like a parasite?”

“Ew, no. I'm not a parasite. I don't need this body to survive, it doesn't sustain me. It just allows me to interact with humans because my true form isn't something safe for you to see. It would burn out your retinas, at least.”

Nick's eyebrows go high and his mouth opens with no sound. “Okay. Well, I'm stumped here. I need a minute to think after that.”

“Take your time.” Gabriel glances to his right. “You okay, Sam? How're you dealing with this?”

The video stutters a bit

“I-” Sam turns and looks fully at Gabriel, “I'm struggling, to be honest. I'm trying to figure out how you could fake this.”

“I told you, you wouldn't believe me even with proof.”

George's voice interjects. “I'm having the same thought about you, Sam. That this is some fantastic ruse, I just can't figure out your motive.”

“No, no professor, it's not a ruse. I swear it's not.”

“So he should believe you but you won't believe me? How's that work again, Sam?” Gabriel asks.

“I know, just-” Sam rubs his eyes and looks at Gabriel, “give me a few minutes. This is…”

“I know.” Gabriel nods and looks back at the laptop. “You seem to be taking this the best, George. That's interesting.”

“Well I can't explain any of it but it's not my area of expertise. I'm going to let Nick field this if he can ever get his brain functioning.”

“My brain is functional; it's just got an overload of questions. I can't sort through them fast enough,” Nick puts his hand on his chin as he talks, “I'm just thinking out loud here so no one get offended. Let's say this man resembled you, a very close resemblance, and he decided he wanted to beyou. So he had plastic surgery to make the similarities even closer. But why? He hasn't stolen your identity; he hasn't intruded into your life in any way except for through a random student of yours from over a decade ago. How does that help him? Is he trying to become famous? By convincing people he's from another universe? That's insane. He doesn't strike me as insane.”

“I agree,” George says.

Nick leans into the camera again, resting on his elbows to look at Gabriel. “He looks just like you did on our first date,” he says softly, “even if he had the best surgeon in the world there's no way to fake that eye color. Medicine can't recreate eyes yet.”

“That's what I keep looking at too,” Sam looks at Gabriel's profile, “those eyes.”

“I think we should fly home,” Nick says abruptly, “I have too many questions and I think we need to meet face to face. I want to have DNA testing done.”

“No.” Gabriel states it flatly. There's no argument, it's just a frank refusal.

“Why?” George tries to sound curios but his expression can't hide his suspicion.

“Because by the time you get back to the states I'll be gone. I'm only here a few more days and then I'll jump. Don't cut your trip short because I won't be here that long.”

“I don't think you understand the impact of your existence, Gabriel.” Nick sits back again, trying to remain calm.

“On the contrary, I do. I'm sure my arrival will have resonating repercussions for Sam, as well as both of you, and I'm sorry for that. I should have thought of that before I interacted with Sam. But I want to keep my effect here to a minimum. So email me your questions and I'll answer what I can, but I will not tell you how to create a portal, so don't ask.”

“Ok,” Nick nods, “I'm going to have a courier bring over a DNA test. Will you agree to that? I have a friend in Kansas City that will test it, he'll be very discreet, you have my word. I want to compare it with George's.”

“I'll think about it.”

The connection distorts, and then goes black. It takes a few seconds to reconnect.

“This bloody thing, it's infuriating!” George is saying.

“I’m going to start typing up questions as soon as we end this video chat.” Nick grabs a pen from beside him and scrawls something out.

“So, you believe him, Nick?” Sam asks hesitantly. He doesn’t want to offend Gabriel further but he has to know the answer to this.

Nick look up seriously at Sam. “I do. I really do.”

Sam sits back and looks at the ceiling.

“Sam, if I could I’d like to say something to you. This is completely irrelevant to Gabriel’s existence, but I’ve needed to say this for years and never had the stones.”

Nick looks at George with clear uncertainty. “This isn’t the time.”

“There never will be a time, love. I just need to say it.”

“What is it, professor?” Sam’s voice is full of concern and something that almost sounds like fear.

“Call me George, please.”

Sam nods but doesn’t respond.

“I’ve thought about this so much over the years and now I don’t know where to start.”

Gabriel watches with growing interest. Is George going to confess some undying love for Sam in front of Nick?

“So let me first say that I was raised in a rather caustic environment. My parents loved me, I don’t mean to imply otherwise, but my father was very outspoken in his support of Extinctionism. It’s all but been eradicated these days, but I trust you’ve read your history on it. You can imagine the things I heard growing up, or maybe you can’t, I don’t know. I won’t subject you to it, but I will say that it stunted my emotional development in a way that meant I never had a relationship. When I had you in class I had never had a real relationship with another man, despite knowing I was gay from the time I was seven, at least.”

George takes a deep breath. “So fast forward almost 35 years and in walks Sam Winchester. A confident, handsome, intelligent young man. And one day as I’m entering class I see him openly kissing his boyfriend in the hallway. And this wasn’t passionate or lustful, it was a quick kiss and an “I love you” and then you walked in and sat down like nothing in the world was out of the ordinary. And for everyone else in that room nothing was. No one noticed. No one cared. And I had an epiphany in that moment, Sam. I had a light bulb go off in my brain. Why in the world was I allowing my father, who’d been dead for ten years at that point, keep me from a fulfilling life? I was lonely. I wanted what you had. And I watched you that whole semester. I heard you and him planning a wedding. A wedding for shite’s sake! I was over 40 and hadn’t seriously dated someone and you were half my age and not even out of university, but you’d found the love of your life and you were planning your wedding!”

Sam pointedly looks down at his hands and Gabriel watches him. Sam looks drawn into himself almost. He’s closing off but he’s trying not to show it.

“Don’t get me wrong, I knew gay couples. I’d seen them make out passionately in public. I’d been to gay weddings myself; none of this was out of the ordinary. But something about you, about seeing you and your fiancé. All I can think is that it was finally at the right time in my life to open my eyes.”

George pauses to collect his thoughts before he goes on.

“I heard you talking about the wedding to your friends in class and it sounded spectacular. I was so jealous of you, Sam. I was pathetic. And when you left my class I promised myself that I was going to change my life. There was no reason for me to be lonely and miserable. I could be you, or I could at least tryto be you. And so I opened myself up, slowly but deliberately. I went on dates, I asked men out, which was terrifying, and they asked me out. And eventually I asked out Nick, and here we are. All because of you, Sam Winchester. So thank you. That’s what I want to say. Thank you.”

“I don’t know what to say, George. I didn’t do anything.”

“Maybe you didn’t intentionally do anything, but just by being yourself you inspired me to do the same. I’d say that’s pretty amazing.” George smiles at Sam. “So, did you have your big wedding? How was it?”

“Yeah, we did. It was-“ Sam looks off and smiles faintly, “it was perfect.” Sam’s expression falters and he looks like he might crumble for a brief second.

Nick seems to recognize this, although George seems oblivious, still smiling at Sam.

“So, I’m going to email you questions, I’ll send the courier with the test, and thank you to Sam for our marriage. That sums this up, right?”

Sam doesn’t say anything so Gabriel takes over. “Perfect summary, Nick. Talk to you soon.” And with that he closes the laptop.

Sam doesn’t move or speak, so Gabriel doesn’t either. They sit quietly for several minutes, Sam seeming to stare at the kitchen sink. And then he stands and walks away. He sits on the couch and Gabriel doesn’t know what to do. Does Sam want to be alone? He waits a few minutes and then slowly approaches the couch.

“Sam, I-“ he sits hesitantly at the other end, not sure what he was even going to say, “I didn’t know you were married…”

“I know, that’s because I didn’t tell you.”

“Why?”

A tear tracks down Sam’s cheek. “I think it was just nice having someone not know I was a failure.”

Gabriel has no idea how to respond to that. None whatsoever. “How are you a failure?”

Sam laughs, but it’s bitter and humorless. “I loved Brady. He was the love of my life, he was. But I got so caught up in my career.” Sam shakes his head, “we were so happy for a while. I was a prosecutor and I wanted to be the best. I wanted the highest conviction rate I could get, and I worked and worked and worked. And we got more and more distant. And Brady tried to tell me, he told me, ‘Sam, I need you to pick me over your job’. And that- it scared me, ya know? So I put my notice in, but I had to give them three months. And I couldn’t just walk out on that, I had an obligation to them, but- I should have put my obligation to him first. I fucked up. And by the end of those three months he was moving. He asked me to go but he didn’t want me to. I think he was already talking to someone else by that point. I really do.”

Sam wipes at his face and takes a shaky breath, trying not to cry.

“So we got a divorce. He took the dog. He took Butler, I couldn’t believe it. ‘You don’t have time for him, Sam.’ That’s what he said when he was loading up his stuff,” Sam’s shoulders shake from crying, “he took my fucking dog! We picked this house because it was a block from the dog park, for shit’s sake! And I just shut down. I couldn’t even live for months. Everything reminded me of Brady, reminded me that I was a failure. I started working again. Not in the prosecutor’s office, I couldn’t face those people, but I started my own practice. And I put away everything that reminded me of him. He used to wake up so grumpy in the morning, and he’d fumble downstairs and get coffee first thing. He’d set it to start the night before so it would be ready and 6:30 on the dot. And I’d always make his toast because I knew he liked to smell it when he got out of the shower. So I put away the coffee pot and that fucking toasterevery day, just so I don’t have to look at them.”

Sam sobs. His shoulders shake with sobs. “I lost all our friends. Who wants to be around me? I’m depressing as shit. All I have left are Charlie and Dean. My life is so fucking pathetic.” Sam leans forward, trying to breathe. “It’s been three years and I’m still a mess. And you know what? I heard he moved in with a guy in Connecticut within five months. How could he do that?”

“Sam…” Gabriel wants to comfort him but he has no idea how to go about it. He gingerly reaches out and takes Sam’s hand, the length of the couch still between them. “I don’t know what to say.”

And Sam just leans over onto him. He rests his head in Gabriel’s lap and just cries. Gabriel doesn’t know where to put his hands so he holds them up and looks up and down Sam's body. Sam’s eyes are squeezed shut; his face looks like he’s in pain. Gabriel finally rests one hand on Sam’s side and the other on his head and he just sits there, not saying a word.

Very rarely is Gabriel quiet, but he knows that this is one time he just needs to shut the fuck up and be present. His fingers start absently feathering through Sam’s hair after a while, as he watches Sam’s face. Sam calms down slowly, his breathing slowing down and going steady. His eyes stay closed and Gabriel feels him relaxing.

Gabriel can relate to feeling like a failure, but he doesn’t think Sam wants to hear about that right now. Sometimes you don’t need to relay your own story, you just need to listen to the other person’s and justify what they’re feeling.

“I don’t think you’re a failure, Sam. I know how I feel doesn’t matter, but I’m gonna say it anyway. Maybe you didn’t make all the right choices, but you tried. When it mattered, you tried. That’s all you can do. Maybe he was the love of your life, and I’m sorry to say this cause it’s gonna hurt like hell, kiddo, but you weren’t his. He couldn’t have left if you were. That’s not your fault though. You gotta quit punishing yourself like you failed. Maybe you don’t want to love again, and that’s okay, but you have a right to let this go and be happy. You need to move on.”

Sam sighs. “I know. I know looking back now that he didn’t love me the same way, that wasn’t his fault. How do you move on though?” Sam rolls to his back and looks up at Gabriel. Maybe he should feel weird about lying in this man’s lap, he barely knows him after all, but he doesn’t. Not one bit.

“Well first of all, why the hell don’t you fucking move? I mean, you put the toaster away every day so you don’t think about him, but you’re living in the biggest reminder there is. Have you even thought about moving?”

“Now you sound like Dean and Charlie.”

“Then Dean and Charlie are right. What keeps you here?”

Sam stares at the ceiling for a long time, trying to decide if he can say this out loud. He’s never said it to Dean or Charlie, he just blows them off, but he’s gonna try.

“I guess I think that if he…” tears start falling again and Sam wipes at them in irritation, “if he ever came back-“ and then his voice closes off and he can’t speak.

“What, that if he comes back it’ll still be his home?”

Sam covers his face with his hands and nods.

“Do you want him back, Sam? Really?”

“No, but I don’t want to be alone either. I’m so tired of being alone,” Sam’s breath is hitching and he feels like a piece of garbage. Why is he talking to Gabriel like he’s a therapist?

“That’s because you’re still living your life with him, he’s just not here. When you’re ready you’ll move on.”

“I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t lay all this crap on you.”

“It sounds like you just need to get it out. Do you talk to anyone about it?”

“Not anymore. Dean and Charlie just want to bash Brady and call him names. I appreciate the support but I don’t want to hear that.”

“That’s what friends do, but I know what you’re saying.”

Sam sits up, wiping his face with the bottom of his shirt. “So what does that make you?” He intentionally avoids looking at Gabriel when he asks this.

“I don’t know how to answer that. As much as I’d like to explore it I don’t think we’ll have time to figure it out.”

Sam looks at the floor and nods. “Thanks for being honest.”

“Well, while I’m here I’ll at least listen.”

“Yeah, I may need it if I keep having mental breakdowns. I feel like shit.”

“Emotional hangover, I imagine. Poor nutty professor seemed oblivious to how you were reacting. At least Nick picked up on it.”

“And you,” Sam looks over at Gabriel, his eyes bloodshot and red rimmed, “you could tell too.”

Gabriel wants to kiss Sam. He wants it very much. He changes the subject instead. “Can I ask you a question about something George said?”

“Sure, what is it?”

“He mentioned Extinctionism or something? What is that?”

“Oh, that. Okay,” Sam turns toward Gabriel on the couch, “around the turn of the century it was discovered that the number of gay humans was increasing with every generation, and it was disproportionate to population increase. Meaning that even taking in to account the increasing number of humans being born the number of gay humans was still off the charts. So there was this group that started an outcry, saying that this was basically an evolutionary means of population control, and that if it didn’t stop humanity would eventually go extinct. They were radical and scary and the movement grew pretty quickly.”

“They’re everywhere, these idiots. It’s always something,” Gabriel mutters.

“Yeah, I guess. So they wanted to round up gays and remove them from the population, what purpose that serves I have no idea. But they thought it would have some effect. They also wanted gays sterilized, therefore no chance of ‘passing it on’, even though there’s no genetic factor in homosexuality. The biggest opposition though, the thing that finally beat them back, is that evolution doesn’t work that way. Evolution doesn’t have population control; the purpose of evolution is to make a species more successful and prolific. So their thinking was completely backwards on the issue. The movement died out slowly, but I guess there are still people who hang on to the notion, like George’s father. George’s grandparents must have been supporters of the original movement, which was probably about their time. And George’s Dad carried on the ignorance. I can’t imagine being raised in that environment. That’s sad.”

“It is. And all too common, no matter what universe you're in.”

Sam kicks his legs up on the couch, tucking his white socked feet in beside Gabriel's hip. He gives Gabriel a thorough appraisal before crossing his arms.

“So you're really from another universe?”

“I guess that depends on if you believe me or not.”

“How so?”

“I can tell you I'm from another universe until I'm blue in the face, but if you don't believe it it's not going to matter. So I guess you have to answer that question yourself.”

“Wait-” Sam holds his hand up to think. He slides his feet back and forth against Gabriel's side. “That makes no sense. If you're from another universe then you just are. It doesn't matter if anyone believes you.”

“That's one way to look at it. But from the other side, I can tell you this couch is grey until the end of time but if you don't want to see it, or can't see it, does that change what I'm saying?”

“What? The couch isgrey.”

“But maybe we're color blind. So what if someone comes in and says that couch is yellow? Then are we wrong because we don't have the ability to see yellow?” Gabriel turns and throws his feet up beside Sam, so their legs are parallel to each other. “It's entirely possible for you not to be able to believe that I'm from another universe because it's so far outside your normal thinking. If you can't or won't believe it I won't argue, but it doesn't change that I am from another universe. Do you see what I'm saying?”

“I have no idea what you're saying. It's like we're talking in circles.”

“I'll talk in circles with you any day.”

Sam smiles his first genuine smile since his emotional roller coaster of a day started. He lays his head back and looks at the ceiling.

“You gotta stop saying things that make me like you so much.”

“Can't help it, Samshine, it's my natural charm. Gets ‘em every time.”

“Yeah I bet it does.” Sam looks at Gabriel again. “Do you have anyone back home? A girlfriend or boyfriend or whatever?”

Gabriel raises his eyebrows in mock surprise. “Why Sam, it almost sounds like you believe me.”

Sam goes serious for a second, his feet rubbing back and forth on Gabriel's side. “I do.”

The surprise from Gabriel is genuine this time. He wasn't expecting that. He doesn't have a single thing to say, so he just nods his appreciation.

“Now answer the question.”

“Oh- the girlfriend thing? No, no one. No boyfriend. Just me.”

“Any prospects?”

“Not a single one.”

“Huh. Ok. So what do you do? I tried asking about the angel thing yesterday and it got confusing. What do you do on a daily basis; can you answer that so I'll understand?”

“Mostly I hide. Try to teach a few assholes the error of their ways here and there. That's about it.”

“You hide? From what?”

“Anyone that might know me.”

Sam looks thoroughly stumped by this answer. “But why?”

“They all think I'm dead, I want to keep it that way. My family always wants me to pick sides in every little squabble they have, they're exhausting. So I hide.”

“Why would they think you're dead?”

“My brother Lucifer thinks he killed me. I'd like to say it was my excellent special effects and Oscar worthy performance that clenched it, but really it was just his ego. He doesn't think I could beat him. Man was he wrong.” Gabriel chuckles.

“Right, I forgot you said that yesterday. So your brother really tried to kill you?”

“Yup. He's not your average bear, that one.”

“Why would your brother want to kill you?”

“That's a long story, Sam. I'll tell it if you really want me to. I'll start with the snake in the garden and take it all the way to the apocalypse if you want, but it's gonna take a while.”

Gabriel looks at Sam and thinks, that befuddled look on Sam's face is absolutely adorable. Stop it Gabriel. Stop. Don't look at him like that. QUIT. IT. Please stop being so beautiful, Sam.

Is he at least in prison for trying to kill you?”

“Yes. He's in the highest security cage known to my universe.”

“You keep your criminals in cages?”

“Don't you?”

“Well- I guess if you think about it like that…” Sam's forehead wrinkles as he ponders this.

His phone blares obnoxious rock music from upstairs.

“Oh shit, that's Dean.” Sam goes to move and Gabriel puts a hand on his legs.

“Wait, don't freak out on me but I want to show you something, okay?”

Sam's face is full of hesitation but he nods.

Gabriel thinks about snapping the phone into Sam's lap but decides against it. Instead he snaps his fingers and the phone appears in his own hand, blaring loudly. Gabriel holds it out to Sam.

Sam's eyes go wide and he goes a shade whiter, but he takes it pretty well, considering. He holds out his hand and takes the phone and swipes his thumb across the face. He stares at it for a second and Gabriel can hear Dean’s voice- Sam? You there? Sam puts the phone to his ear.

“Dean?”

“Yeah, it's me- don't hang up alright? I know you're still pissed but I just wanted to make sure you're okay.”

“Yeah, I'm fine. Everything's fine.”

“Is that guy still there?”

“He's here.”

“I talked to Ellen last night, she said he seemed normal. You sure he's safe?”

“I-” Sam pauses.

He's never taken his eyes off of Gabriel since he put the phone to his ear. He's obviously not processing well, but he's trying to navigate the conversation with Dean as best he can.

“Yeah, Dean, I'm sure. He's safe. And he's not crazy. It took some doing to figure it out, but it's okay.”

“Alright, I'm gonna take your word for it. But you tell him that if he so much as touches a hair on your head I'll track him down, you got it?”

“Yeah, I got it.”

“I'm serious.”

“I know you are, I'll tell him.”

“I'm sorry for callin’ the cops, I just panicked when you didn't call me-”

Sam cuts him off. “No, that was my fault, I fell asleep and spaced on the call. Just, next time don't call the cops.”

“I won't. Okay, I gotta get back. You comin’ out tomorrow?”

“What's tomorrow?”

“Saturday. Didn't know if you'd be comin’ to hang out.”

“Probably not since I have company.”

“OK, call me and let me know what's going on. Or if anything gets weird. Even a tiny bit.”

“I will, Dean, nothin’ to worry about.”

“Alright, later.”

“Later.” And Sam hangs up, still holding eye contact with Gabriel. “What the fuck was that?”

“I believe you said it was your brother.”

“Don't be a smart ass, you know what I mean.”

“I told you I could do things humans can't. That was an example.”

“That creeped me out.”

“I imagine it did. Speaking of, I'm sorry for calling you kiddo earlier. It slipped.”

“I didn't notice.”

“I did.”

“Don't do that shit again. I believe you.”

“Noted.”

Sam very purposely breaks eye contact finally and puts his head back to stare at the ceiling again. His heart is still racing. He'd tried to stay calm and not panic but it was almost impossible. How had Gabriel done that? It's probably not worth pondering, Sam's not sure he really even wants to understand it. He tries to get his head comfortable.

“I hate this couch.”

“Why?” Gabriel moves his shoulders a little, presses the warmth of his side up to Sam's feet more.

“Because it's uncomfortable.”

“You said it, not me. Why'd you buy it?”

“I didn't, Brady did. He decorated. I wouldn't pick so much black and grey.”

“I'd hope not. Funeral parlors have more color than this place.”

Sam laughs, his head still back.

Gabriel studies Sam's long neck arching over the arm of the couch, his laugh is deep and his Adam's apple bounces a little. That neck is begging to be-

“Why am I so comfortable with you?”

“What?”

Sam lifts his head up. “Why is this so comfortable, like it's easy or something? I've never in my life been comfortable enough with someone in the first 24 hours to share a couch with them like this. Why is that? Is it part of you not being from here?”

“I don't think so, it's never happened before. I can't really answer it except to say that I feel the same way.” And I have a sneaking suspicion that this will never happen again. “So if you were gonna pick a couch what would it be?”

“Uh, okay- let me think. Not grey.”

“What color?”

“I don't know. But I'd want leather. And a taller back. I don't mind modern but I hate the short back and the cushions on this. These cushions suck.”

“Agreed.”

“I'd want it longer too. I can't really lay down on this. It not a couch for making out, that's for sure.”

“No, this is a couch that sends you to the bedroom.”

Sam bellows a laugh. “Maybe I'll keep it just because of that! I think Brady left it because he knew I didn't like it. He took the chairs and the love seat and left this. Now I can say this ugly couch moved things to the bedroom a little faster.”

“I don't think you need the couch for that. Pretty sure when you're ready you won't have any trouble getting someone in your bedroom.”

Sam blushes a little. “Only time will tell I guess.”

There's a knock at the door.

“What now?” Sam almost whines. He pulls his legs back and stands up, heading to answer it, he can't help but notice how cold his feet are after being up against Gabriel. He opens the door to find a courier standing there. His hat reads Lightning Delivery.

“Mr. Winchester?”

“Yes, come in. I forgot we were expecting you.”

“I have a delivery and then I'm supposed to return something to the sender?” He hands Sam a sealed padded envelope.

“Gabriel? You gonna do this?” Sam rips the top off and glances at the instructions.

“Shit, I forgot about this too. I haven't thought about it, should I?”

“That's your decision.” Sam shrugs.

“Oh, what the hell. How do we do it?”

“It looks like it's the same one we gave our dog. Let me put the gloves on and I just swab the inside of your cheek.”

“Your dog? This is a dog test?”

“No, but we gave one to our dog for identification in case he was lost. Most people do.”

Sam slips the rubber gloves on and pulls out a long Q-tip and a plastic tube. “Open your mouth.”

Gabriel obliges. Sam steps closer, his hand cupping Gabriel's chin as he rubs the cotton over the side of his left cheek. And then he pushes the Q-tip into the tube, closes the cap, shoves it into a new envelope and hands it to the guy.

“Easy enough,” Sam says.

“Thanks.” The guy opens the door and leaves. The entire thing takes less than five minutes.

Sam wanders back to the couch and sits again. “Man I have a headache ever since I stood up.”

Gabriel could probably heal that. Not a good idea, that would really freak him out.

“Are you hungry?”

“No, not at all. Just tired, which is stupid considering how much I slept.”

Gabriel sits again. “No it's not, not with how this day has been. Go lay down. I'll check for an email from Nick, he's probably sent eight million questions by now.”

“No, that's okay. I'll be fine.” Sam rubs his temples.

“Something you should know here, Sammich. I'm stronger than I look, and I will carry you upstairs if I have to.”

Sam smiles briefly and then side eyes Gabriel. “Just for an hour. I don't want to be rude.”

“You're not being rude. I was rude when I walked in here yesterday. You've been surprisingly pleasant. Now go rest up, you're taking me back to Ellen's tonight.” Gabriel stands up and goes to the kitchen to retrieve the laptop. Sam hasn't budged when he comes back. “I said go. I don't want any excuses for not taking me back for more sex tonight. And you're getting your own, buddy. I'm not sharing this time.”

Sam finally stands. “Fine.”

Sam settles on his bed with his temples pounding. He rubs them again and tries very hard to relax. This day has worn him down. He feels like he hasn't slept in a week and it can't be much past noon. The realization that Gabriel is telling the truth, the emotional break down over Brady (how fucking embarrassing can you get), the sheer terror he'd tried to keep under control when Gabriel had snapped him his phone. It's all compounded and he feels exactly like Gabriel described earlier, like he's hungover.

He closes his eyes and rolls to his side. He's not going to sleep. He's going to lay here and think about the crush he's developing on the man downstairs. He wishes Gabriel would bring the laptop up here and lay in bed beside him. It figures the first guy he finds the least bit interesting since Brady left him is someone unavailable. Well, technically not unavailable, but not available long term. And Sam isn't into short term. He can see something with Gabriel though, if they had the chance.

He can see lots of fun and laughter. Lots of talks, plenty of complicated, meaningful conversations. Those are Sam's favorite. He sees Charlie and Dean liking this guy, his nieces and nephews playing with him. Slow down, Sam, you don't even know if he likes kids.

Sam busies his mind with these wistful thoughts and after a while he's groggy. Sleep pushes him under and wraps him up in dreams with an angel and laughing kids. He smiles in his sleep.

Downstairs Gabriel wades through question after question.

Not answering that. Or that. Nope. No way, professor. I did make it clear I wouldn't answer anything that would help them advance themselves enough to leave this universe, didn't I? Did I imagine that? Oh well, guess the guy's gotta try.

He keeps his answers vague on the things he even bothers to reply to. Some of the questions are sharp, they make him seriously think. One question on the movement of time takes some serious contemplation, and he lays his head back on the arm of the atrocious couch.

This couch is horrible. His ex had shitty taste. Except in men, I guess. He picked at least one good one anyway. He was an idiot though, what intelligent person would let Sam get away? And not just because he's hot. He's smart, he's funny, he's kind, and it sounds like he gave up his career and dreams to make that dipshit happy.

Gabriel closes his eyes and shakes his head a little. And that smile. He's got a gorgeous smile. His neck… I'd love to get my mouth on that neck. My hands in his hair. I want to strip him down, touch and kiss every inch of him.

Gabriel adjusts himself in his pants. He needs to stop thinking about this. It's not gonna happen. Sam seems interested in him, the comment about liking him so much made that clear. But Sam also made it clear he's not into flings, and Gabriel won't be around long enough for anything else. He doesn't want to hurt Sam; he likes him too much for that.

And that's saying something. He hasn't liked a human in… Well. Ever. He's been with humans, that's a given, but to like one enough to think about something long term or meaningful has never happened. Huh. This is new. Gabriel isn't sure what to think of it.

I shouldn't have snapped that phone up, scared the poor guy half to death. It also set my power back a bit. Gabriel yawns and looks down at the laptop again. He can't focus long enough to answer this complicated question right now. His thoughts keep drifting to Sam, and they're fuzzy around the edges from sleepiness.

He sets the laptop on the floor and puts his legs up on the couch. He falls sound asleep daydreaming about sneaking upstairs and crawling in bed beside Sam.

“Gabriel?”

Gabriel's eyes fly open and Sam thinks, and not for the first time, he has the strangest colored eyes. Golden brown and almost glowing.

Gabriel studies Sam, bent down in front of him so the man's face is right at eye level. He sits up and looks around. “What is it, Sam?”

“Nothing, you were moving around so I thought you were waking up. I didn't want to wake you when you were sleeping so soundly, sorry.”

“No, it's fine. I was starting to wake up anyway. How do you feel? Headache better?”

“Yeah it is, thanks. I'm starving, you still want to go to Ellen's?”

“You kiddin’ me? Hell yeah!” Gabriel is off the couch and they're out the door in a minute.

“So, you go out to dinner every night?” Gabriel asks as they walk the familiar streets.

“Nah, not usually. I go to Ellen's maybe once a week, sometimes I go to dinner with Charlie depending on if her dating schedule can accommodate. And Anna and Dean are always asking me out to Lawrence, so sometimes I drive out there on the weekends.”

“That sounds nice. So you all get along?”

“Yeah, we do. Except when they're trying to set me up. I get tired of that. Anna always whispers at Dean when I'm in the other room, ‘Leave him alone, you can't force him to be ready.’ And I can hear Dean, ‘I know, babe, I just want him to be happy.’ That's when I take the kids outside to play.”

Gabriel smiles. “How many kids do they have? I can't imagine the Dean I know with kids.”

“Really? Why not? Dean loves kids.”

“Well…” Gabriel looks at his passing reflection in the shop window. This Sam and Dean may look like the ones he knows but they've lived totally different lives. Who knows what his Winchester brothers would have been like if they'd been given the chance. “I guess his life just didn't work out that way.” That's about the simplest answer he can think of.

“That's too bad,” a fleeting sadness crosses Sam's face. “They have three. Benny, Mary, and Deanna. I always say I have five nieces and nephews though because Jimmy and Meg live right down the street and their kids are always at Dean's. Lily and Balthazar.”

“Balthazar?” The name leaves Gabriel speechless.

“Yeah, but everyone calls him Bart. Unless he's in trouble,” Sam chuckles, “he's in trouble a lot.”

“We had a brother named Balthazar. He got into an awful lot of trouble too.” Gabriel watches his feet as they walk, thinking how strange things are. How similar, yet completely different everything is here.

“What happened to him?”

“Huh?” Gabriel is so lost in thought it takes him a minute to come back to reality.

“You said had. Do you mind me asking what happened to your brother?”

“Oh, yeah. I mean, no, it's fine you asking. He was killed by another one of our brothers. He made a bad decision, well, he made a lot of bad decisions, and they caught up to him.”

“Your brother killed your other brother?! Are you serious?”

“Pretty sure I wouldn't make that up.”

“No- no, of course you wouldn't. I just can't believe it. One brother tried to kill you and another one killed a different one,” Sam shakes his head, “your family sounds…” He doesn't finish that sentence.

“My family is fucked up, Sam, I'm fully aware. Hence, why I hide.”

“Yeah, I guess. So, what about the other Sam? He have kids?”

Gabriel was waiting for this. Human nature would make someone curious about another version of himself.

“No, no kids for that Sam.”

“What’s he like?”

Gabriel watches his feet as he walks. “He’s uh- well, I don’t know. He tries his hardest to do the right thing. So does Dean. It’s- it’s not like this world.” He doesn’t know what else to say about it.

The last few steps are quiet. Sam pulls open the door for Gabriel and follows him in the restaurant.

“Well I'll be, Sam Winchester and his handsome date comin’ to see me two nights in a row? I feel downright honored, boys. To what do I owe this pleasure?”

Sam's face is flushed dark red, he can feel the heat of it in his neck and cheeks. “It's uh- this isn't a- uh, date or anything. Whatever. It's just-”

“Oh, Sam look’it you fallin’ all over yourself,” Ellen follows them to a table, “quit that babblin’.”

“I don't know about him” Gabriel motions at Sam with his thumb,” but I'm here for sex.”

Ellen throws her head back and hoots. The entire restaurant turns toward them and smiles.

“Oh honey,” she rubs Gabriel's shoulder, “if I were 20 years younger I'd have fun with you, lemme tell ya.”

“Why do you need to be twenty years younger? What's wrong with you right now?”

“Oh boy, you gotta a handful in this one, Sam.” She leans down and kisses Sam's cheek, which is still bright red. “Get ahold of yourself, baby, I was kidding. Your usual?”

“No, I'm starving tonight, Ellen. Bring me a burger.”

“Yes, sir!” And with that she wanders to the kitchen.

“Sorry about that,” Sam says awkwardly, eyes flicking around the restaurant. Looking anywhere and everywhere but at Gabriel.

“No worries, Sammich. If there's anything I know how to take it's a joke.”

Ellen comes back with two waters. “You seen Charlie this week? I ain't seen hide nor hair of that girl. She got a new one on the line?”

“Yeah,” Sam says, “I saw her Wednesday afternoon. She met some girl last Friday and you know how she gets.”

“Great. So in two weeks she'll be in here bawlin.”

Sam nods. “That's usually how it goes.”

Ellen's nose wrinkles when she frowns. “That girl,” she mutters as she walks away.

“What's that about?” Gabriel asks.

“Nothing really, it's just Charlie. She's in love with falling in love. Once that newness wears off she's on to the next, crying about how it never works out for her.”

“She pick the wrong ones?”

“Every time. At this point I'm convinced she does it intentionally.”

“That's rough.”

“I keep hoping she'll grow out of it. She's over 30 now, so I don't know.”

“Do you know how young that is?”

“Well, it doesn't feel young to me. Some days I feel old.” Sam runs his hand through his hair and sits back.

“That's because you're an old soul.”

“What's a soul?”

Gabriel sighs softly. That's gonna take way too long to explain. “Forget that.”

“So how old are you? Forty?”

Gabriel laughs, his eyes sparking. “I wish, Sammo. I really wish.”

“What's a wish?”

“You don't have wishes here?”

Sam shakes his head no.

“Course not, you wouldn't. Ok, well, a wish is something you really want. It's something your heart desires more than anything, you want it so much but you know you'll never have it. It's wanting something so badly you can taste it but knowing you never will. You long for it, yearn for it, but it's out of your reach. That make sense?”

“Yeah, I know that feeling a little too well.” Sam looks down at his hands.

Gabriel goes on. “Where I'm from wishes are kind of magical. There are beings who grant them, genies and fairies and the like. And humans have created whole rituals around wishing. They throw coins into wells and wish on falling stars, they make wishes on eyelashes. They close their eyes and make a wish before they blow out candles on cakes, and when they blow the fluffy seeds off of dandelions. Some make wishes on white horses, or if they look at the clock and its 11:11. It probably sounds silly.”

“No,” Sam smiles softly, the corners of his eyes wrinkling, “no, that sounds really nice actually. I love that idea.”

Ellen arrives with the food. “Need anything else right now?”

“No, thank you, m’lady,” Gabriel grins.

“Oooh, so fancy,” Ellen makes a show of fanning herself.

“Actually, I want some of that too, when I'm done.” Sam points at Gabriel's plate.

Ellen's eyes go wide for a second. “Really?”

“He's a bad influence, he's gonna make me fat.”

“Sam, honey, you have never had an ounce of fat on you. You'll run it off tomorrow.”

“I felt those abs, Sam-a-lam, pretty sure one dessert isn't putting a dent in those.” Gabriel wiggles his eyebrows.

Sam blanches white and then flushes red as he sees Ellen smirk.

“It wasn't like that, Ellen, we were-”

Ellen holds her hand up. “Pretty sure I don't need details.”

“As much as I'd like for it to be what you're thinking, Ellen, it wasn't. We played a married couple for the cops.”

Sam goes five shades paler again. “Gabriel! Shut. Up.” He bites out.

Ellen's mouth falls open in surprise, and the corners turn up in a smile she tries to hide. “I like this one, Sam, I do.” She strolls off.

“Man, what are you thinking? Why would you tell her that?”

Gabriel shrugs. “I dunno.”

Sam sighs and takes a bite of his burger, watching Gabriel savor the dessert.

“So you wish you were younger?”

Gabriel opens his eyes and looks confused for a second. “Oh, no. It's kind of a figure of speech. No, I don't want to be younger, not really.”

“So what do you wish for?”

“Hmmm…” Gabriel slowly drags his fork out of his mouth. “That's a tough one. Not much I can't just snap up for myself, if I want it. Probably I'd wish for my family to be normal again. For my dad to come home, my brothers and sisters not to fight. Those things are pretty unattainable; they'd make a genuine wish.”

The sadness of this comment hurts Sam. He sits back from his plate. “You could make your own family.”

Gabriel studies his food before meeting Sam's eyes. “They'd never be safe. If anyone found me the people associated with me would be in danger.”

“I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked that question.”

“Nah, you're fine. What about you, you have any wishes?”

“Too many to list.”

“Subject change, this is getting depressing. What are we doing after this?”

“I don't know, going home?”

“Back to bed?”

Sam knows Gabriel wasn't implying anything sexual but the thought is in his mind before he can stop it. There's a definite twitch in his pants. He clears his throat.

“I'm not tired. You wanna get a drink or something?”

“Sure, as long as it's sweet and fruity.”

Sam grins. “Yeah, Lisa can do that.”

“Lisa?”

“She owns the bar Charlie and I always go to, The Republic.”

“It's a date.”

“Wha-” Sam starts.

“Kidding, Samsquatch. Don't have an aneurysm.”

Sam snaps his mouth shut and goes back to eating. The meal passes without much more conversation, and then they stroll in amiable quiet over to the bar.

It's busy, tables full of chatting people sitting in subdued lighting. Music plays in the background but it's not loud or overpowering. The woodwork is warm and comfortable.

“Anything in particular?” Sam asks Gabriel.

“Surprise me.”

“Get us a table and I'll be right over.”

Gabriel finds a small table and sits, watching Sam chat with the bartender. She's got dark hair and tanned skin, she's pretty, and something about her is a little exotic looking. He sees her motion to him with her head and he wiggles his fingers in a wave. She smiles, white teeth flashing.

“That Lisa?” He asks as Sam sits his drink down.

“Yeah, she's good people.”

“You seem to surround yourself with good people, Sam.”

“I try.”

Gabriel sips the drink and hums appreciatively. It's almost syrupy it's so sweet, and he tastes pineapple and rum. He holds it up to Lisa and nods his approval. She gives him a thumbs up.

A perky redhead bounces up out of nowhere. “Sam!” She says excitedly as she approaches. “What are you doing out on a Friday night? And who is this?” She shoves her head at Gabriel.

“Charlie, this is Gabriel. He's in town for a few days so I thought I’d show him around. Gabriel this is Charlie.”

“Nice to meet you, beautiful. You mean Dean didn't call you too?”

She looks at Gabriel appraisingly; something in her expression tells him he was right. Dean did call her and she's here to see the crazy guy for herself.

“Charlie!” A brunette from across the room yells. She motions Charlie back to her with a finger.

Charlie blows her a kiss and holds a finger up to say she'll be right there. She turns her red head back to the men.

“So, Sam, is this a date?”

Sam coughs on his beer. “No, no, why does everyone keep saying that? Uh- Gabriel and I just met and decided to hang out. I didn’t know you were going out tonight, is that the new girl?”

“Don’t deflect, Sam. I know that’s what you’re doing.”

“So, who is she?”

“Oh, you know, someone I just met and we decided we’d hang out.”

Gabriel guffaws.

“Shut. Up.”

“Oh come on! You haven’t been out in three years and you suddenly show up with a cute guy and I’m not supposed to ask questions?!”

“Did you call me cute?”

“I did. You are.” Charlie smiles at Gabriel.

Gabriel winks at her.

“Don’t even try hitting on her, she’s gay and you know it.”

“I wasn’t hitting on her, I’ve winked at you- did you think I was making a pass at you?”

Maybe I hoped a little. “Both of you need to shut up.”

Charlie winks at Gabriel.

“Would you two stop please?”

“Sam, are you getting territorial over me?” Gabriel feigns shock.

“This is not a date.” Sam says pointedly to both of them.

“You've made that very clear, Sam. This is not in any way to be confused with a date. Got it.” Gabriel sips his drink.

“Woah, Sam. Dick much?”

“Go away, Charlie.”

“You’re lucky I love you or I’d be offended by that.” Charlie picks up her drink and turns to Gabriel. “It was nice to meet you. Don’t mind Sam, he just needs to get laid.” And with that she turns on her heel and strides back to the girl.

“I can’t believe she just said that.”

“No big deal. You don't have to keep pointing it out though.”

“I didn't mean it like that, I really didn't. I wouldn't even know what to do on a date anymore. The thought of it kinda scares me actually.”

“What's to be afraid of?”

“I don't know,” Sam spins the neck of his beer between his fingers. “Everything I guess. I haven’t been on the dating scene in so long I wouldn’t even know where to start. I wouldn't even have the guts to ask a guy out anymore. Plus most guys want to move really fast. I don't want to just jump into bed with somebody.”

“I get that,” Gabriel sips his fruity concoction and thinks. “So you’re out of practice, that’s what you’re saying.”

“In not so many words, yes.”

“Then take me out. I’ll be your practice.”

“What?”

“No, seriously. I’ll only be around a few more days, there’s no pressure for sex, you get to practice going on dates, I’ll give you feedback or whatever, and when it’s over we both go on with our lives in totally separate worlds. What’s to lose?”

Sam has to admit, this is a good, if not totally messed up idea. “Huh,” he says as he swigs his beer, “you really serious or are you just fucking with me?”

“If I were fucking with you you’d know it.”

“Are you flirting with me?”

“No, but if we’re on a date I’ll turn on the charm, just wait and see.” Gabriel wiggles his eyebrows at Sam making him laugh.

“Ok,” Sam points his beer at Gabriel, “you’re on. Tomorrow evening at 7pm. Dinner and drinks.”

“Uh, no. We’ve got all damn day; you can come up with something better than that. Let’s say noon. Put your thinking cap on, Sammo, I expect your best work.” Gabriel raises his glass and downs his drink.

“Well I've got something to do tomorrow afternoon, but it actually fits pretty well. I'll think about the evening part.”

“You have to ask me.”

Sam pauses drinking his beer, his arm half raised. “Huh?”

“You said you don't know how to ask a guy out, so that's where we start. You ask me.”

“Okay- uh,” Sam clears his throat. His heart is suddenly beating a little faster; he feels heat in his face. He wishes he didn't blush so easily. He wiggles in his seat. “Gabriel, I'd like to take you out tomorrow, if you're interested.”

“Why, Sam,” Gabriel puts a hand over his heart, “do you mean on a date?”

“I do,” Sam's dimples flash.

“I'm very interested.” Gabriel winks.

“Is that a yes?”

Gabriel leans in toward Sam, staring intently at Sam's mouth and then meeting his eyes. “Yes.”

Sam nods and looks down at his empty bottle. “You want another? I'm gonna hit the bathroom and then grab a beer.”

“Sure.”

Sam stands and turns, walking toward the restroom. Gabriel gives him an appreciative once over. The broad shoulders and small waist, perfect ass, legs for days. He's a gorgeous man, there's no denying it.

“Hello, handsome,” a soft feminine voice whispers in his ear. She steps around his side and he recognizes the girl with Charlie. She's got soft brown hair and her green eyes are lined strongly in black. Her face is pretty and she knows it. Her long legs are wrapped in low cut glittery black tights, and she's wearing a zebra striped cropped tank that is in no way hiding her lack of a bra.

Gabriel takes her in with one sweep of the eyes. “To whom do I owe the pleasure?” He cocks his head, cunning eyes flashing in curiosity.

“Bela,” she says, placing a hand on his knee. “Charlie said your name is Gabriel?”

He stares at her long fingers, her thumb rubbing back and forth. This is interesting.

“That's what I go by some days.”

She smiles a little, one side of her mouth turning up. “Can I ask you a personal question?” She leans in a fraction of an inch, her hand sliding up his thigh a bit.

“Please, I'm dying to know what it is.”

She flips her hair over her shoulder and looks down at his chest. “You only into men or do you like ladies too?”

He watches her closely. “I don't have a preference really, I like what I like.”

She leans in a little more, looking at his mouth. “Me too,” her hand inches higher.

Charlie appears behind her and he sees hands appear on Bela’s hip bones. He watches Charlie's hands slide over Bela’s tight flat stomach, and then up under the tank top.

Oh shit, I'm in trouble. Serious fucking trouble.

The hand on his thigh bumps his cock, which is quickly responding to what he's watching.

Bela closes her eyes as Charlie's fingers roll her nipples. She lays her head back and Charlie kisses her neck. Fingers slide along the length of his hardening cock.

“You interested in joining us tonight?” Bela asks, her eyes fluttering as she tries to look at him. One of Charlie's hands slides down her stomach and into her pants. Bela inhales.

“Ladies, as much as I know I'll regret this someday- I'm afraid I have to decline.”

Bela uses her fingernails, lighting trailing over the bulge in his pants. And there it is, she's teased it to full attention. He sits forward, trying extremely hard not to push his crotch toward her hand. He looks down at the wood of the table and takes a deep breath.

“Any way you'll change your mind?” Bela leans into his neck, her mouth at the base of his ear. “That cock is awfully hard, and it's so thick, just how I like them. Are you sure?”

Gabriel closes his eyes tightly. Fuck. Me. “‘Fraid so. I just got asked out on a date by an amazing guy and I really don't want to fuck that up, sorry, girls.”

“What's going on here?”

Sam's voice makes Gabriel's eyes fly open. Charlie steps back and Bela leans away from him, but she doesn't remove her hand.

“Just a little test, Sam. Don't worry, he passed,” Charlie grins at Sam, who does not return her smile.

“A test? Are you kidding me? Are we in junior high again?”

Bela grips Gabriel's cock tightly in her hand and leans into his ear again. “This wasn't a test; let me know if you change your mind.”

He wants to whine at the pressure on his cock, he wants to move against it. He nods instead hoping she'll finally get her fucking hand off him. She turns into Charlie and slips her arms around her and then smiles over at Sam.

“You're Sam I take it? I'm Bela.”

“And I'm not the least bit interested, Bela.”

Sam!” Charlie yells.

Bela just smiles and saunters off in her spike heels, rolling her hips exaggeratedly to put her ass on display.

“How rude! I can't believe you!” Charlie says in outrage.

“Are you kidding me, Charlie? Are you really gonna go there? When you had one hand up her shirt and one down her pants putting on a show? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“I like her, Sam, you probably just fucked it up.”

“News flash! She likes him,” Sam nods at Gabriel, “you've got competition already.”

“That's because she's bi! Plus she's fucking crazy in the bedroom, I mean she'll do anything, lemme tell ya,” Charlie snorts a laugh, “this one might be marriage material.”

Oh, Jesus, what did I just turn down? Gabriel tries to discreetly adjust himself in his pants.

“Charlie, I can't have this conversation right now. You need to go do whatever with her and leave us alone.” Sam runs a hand down his face.

Charlie stomps off.

“I'm so sorry; I don't know what the fuck that was about.” Sam flops down in his chair.

“I think she was trying to make sure I liked you. It wasn't malicious on Charlie's part, a little messed up maybe, but she didn't mean anything. Bela on the other hand…” Gabriel downs the drinks Sam set on the table in three gulps. “Bela is a different story.”

“You wanna get out of here?”

“I'm going to save you some embarrassment and say that you're gonna wanna wait until this raging party in my pants goes down.”

“Ohhhh, right.” Sam covers his mouth with his hand, stifling a smile. “Should I ask what she was doing under the table?”

“I'll leave it to the imagination, you can guess.”

“Yep, okay. So.” Sam looks around the bar, catching Charlie looking at him. “She probably will marry this one, just because I already can't stand her. I'll have to be Charlie's best man or some crap, the whole time thinking about that chick grabbing you under the table.” Sam rolls his eyes.

“Do I sense a touch of jealousy from you, Sam? I'm flattered.”

“Shut up.” Sam sits back and crosses his arms, appraising Gabriel. He wonders if Gabriel would be embarrassed by what Sam heard. “I'm pretty sure when I walked up I heard you say something about a guy you really like asking you out. I take it that was me, unless some other guy swooped in when I left for the bathroom?” Sam cocks an eyebrow.

“No, I was talking about you.”

Sam is the one embarrassed now, why is he embarrassed? Why did he ask that? Why? Sam nods and doesn't say anything.

“But I didn't say I liked you.”

“What?”

Gabriel watches Sam's face fall a little. Shit. “Nope, I said I got asked out by an amazing guy and that I didn't want to fuck it up. I guess I implied that I liked you, that's probably where you got that.”

“Oh, you implied it. My mistake, I apologize.”

“No need,” Gabriel waves his hand, “you already said you liked me, I can say it back.”

“When did I say I like you?” Sam's face looks surprised.

“Earlier today. 'You gotta stop saying things that make me like you so much.' Your words, not mine.”

Sam blushes again. “Guess I did say that.”

“I like you, Sam. I like you a lot. I wasn't expecting it but there it is. Are you happy now? Can we pass junior high?”

Sam's shoulders fold in, his confident posture faltering. He rests his elbows on the table and leans in toward Gabriel. “See? I told you I've been out of the dating scene too long. This is why I avoid it. I started dating Brady at 19, I've either been in a serious relationship, married, or single sincenineteen.” Sam doesn't even know what else to say on the subject. He shakes his head and looks around the bar. Charlie seems to be gone.

“So you weren't ever going to try?”

Sam shrugs but doesn't respond.

“You would eventually. Someone would catch your eye eventually and you'd think they were worth trying for.”

“And what's to say they'd think I'm worth trying for?”

“Seriously? How in the world does a guy like you have confidence issues? Have you ever watched the room when you walk in? Every straight woman and every guy with even a slight attraction to men does a double take. On you. Every time.”

“Shut up. How do you know?”

“Happened at Ellen's both times, happened here, and I'm pretty sure the courier guy was checking out your ass when your back was to him.”

“Shut up.”

“You say that an awful lot.”

“Yeah well, you talk a lot.” Sam looks irritated.

“Do you want to sit quietly?”

“Yes. That's what I want- quiet.”

Gabriel looks away, watching the crowd of mingling people. He spots Bela staring at him and she locks eyes and sips her drink. Charlie isn't with her. He looks back at Sam.

“And besides, I don't want someone who's only interested in my looks. That's empty and shallow.”

“You told me to shut up before I could finish. You want me to talk now?”

Sam lays his head down on the table like a kid. “You're exhausting, you know that?” He mumbles into his arm.

“I have heard that a time or two. You want me to finish what I was saying or not.”

Sam raises his head and rests his face on his palm. “Fine.”

“So you've got looks going for you. Okay, that's great and everything, but that's just a foot in the door. Right? But does Sam Winchester stop there? Nope. You're smart. And not average smart, you're wicked smart. You're sexy smart. And you're funny. You get the joke every time and return it. And to top it off, you're nice. Who the hell doesn't want someone like that? Plus I'm pretty sure you're rich, which is just unfair.”

Sam snorts. “I'm not rich.”

“Really? That's your retort?”

“I don't know what else to say. Thank you. I guess? I don't see all that, I've never been good at taking compliments.”

“And you're humble. Add another check in the perfect boxes. Man, he did a number on you, didn't he?” He knows instantly he shouldn't have mentioned the ex, even if it was vague. You're a fucking idiot, Gabriel. Shut your damn mouth.

Sam looks away and doesn't reply.

“Sorry. I'm sorry for that. I crossed a line there.”

“It's okay, don't worry about it. You okay to leave now?”

Gabriel stands. “I'm good.”

“Let me hit the bathroom one more time.”

“I'll meet you outside; I don't want a repeat of last time you left me alone.”

Gabriel steps outside and breathes in the night air. He immediately spots Charlie leaned against the brick wall a little ways down. She's staring up, like she's looking at the stars. There are too many lights to see stars here. He wanders over to her, his hands stuffed in his pants pockets.

“How ya doin, Charlie.” It's more of a statement than a question. He leans into the wall beside her.

“I'm okay. Just needed some air.”

“Your date's in there.”

“Yeah, I don't care.”

Gabriel leans his head back on the brick like Charlie is, looking up at the starless gray sky. “Can I ask you something?”

Charlie rolls her head to look at his profile. “I don't date guys, if that's what you're about to ask. That was a shitty thing to do to you, I'm sorry.”

“No need to apologize, you're watching out for Sam. I get it. Can I ask you something about Sam and Brady?”

“That depends on what it is…”

“Sam told me what happened. That he quit his job but Brady left anyway. He’s still pretty messed up, thinks it's all his fault. I know that's just Sam's side of things, I wondered if you could give me any insight on what really went down?”

“Brady was a jealous fucking prick, that's what went down.”

Gabriel straightens up and faces her, giving her his full attention.

“He always was. Sam was a prize to him, like a trophy or something. Sam is good at everything, everything the guy tries he excels at. He's good at sports and school and he had friends and he's gorgeous and perfect. That's just Sam, he's the guy everyone wants to be or be with, and Brady got him. Pretty soon after they started dating I noticed Sam letting Brady win at things. Just little things, pool, basketball, cards, nothing that really mattered, ya know?”

Gabriel nods.

“And I thought maybe it was good for Sam or something, to like someone so much he lets go of trying to be the best. Looking back I was wrong. I was so fucking wrong. Sam catered to Brady. He gave him anything and everything, and I don't just mean weddings and houses. Sam gave up himself to Brady, his own person, does that makes sense?”

Gabriel nods again, he doesn't risk interrupting her and making her lose her train of thought.

“So when Sam started putting more of himself into his job, doing so well, having his name in the paper and all, feeling accomplished and proud of something? Well, Brady couldn't have that. Oh no.” The bitterness in Charlie's voice is like venom. “And then Sam beat him. In the courtroom. Brady is a defense attorney and they went up against each other. They’d managed to avoid it until then, but they couldn’t that time. And Sam wouldn’t let him win. He knew the guy was guilty and he proved it and got the maximum sentence and Brady was pissed. So he threatened to leave. And Sam dropped it all. Just dropped it. Dean called me freaking out, we'd talked about Brady and what was happening before and Dean was just livid. We tried talking to Sam but he just kept saying how he fucked up and he had to make it right.”

The anger leaves Charlie's face and a sadness settles in. “And Brady left anyway. I knew he would. By the time he got Sam to quit his job he knew he was leaving. So he took his shit and left, and Sam, it's been…” She looks up at Gabriel, her eyes swimming in tears. “He's like my brother. I love him like a brother and it kills me to see him just shut down. I wish I could help him.”

Gabriel opens his arms and she hugs him, crying silently. “Thanks for telling me. I kinda figured it was something like that.”

“What's going on?”

Sam's voice makes Charlie jump and she pulls away, wiping at her face.

“Is she okay? Are you okay? What happened?”

“Nothing big. I had a fight with Bela and Gabriel found me getting some air and gave me a shoulder to cry on. It's fine now, I'm fine.”

“Charlie, why do you go after girls like that?” Sam face is desperate and he pulls her in and hugs her.

“Oh, Sam,” she drums her fist on his chest until he finally lets her go. “I'm just a glutton for punishment, you know me. I was about to call a cab, I don't feel like walking. You wanna split a cab?”

“Yes, I'll pay for your cab,” Sam wraps his arm around her in a mock headlock, “call it in.”

Gabriel watches Sam and Charlie wrestle like siblings. Sam starts walking, pulling her along, and Gabriel follows.

“You're a brat,” Charlie punches Sam's arm, “you're lucky I love you.”

“I know I am, I love you too, Lee.”

“I hate it when you call me that.”

“No you don't. And I don't care, that's what you get for telling a guy I like that I need to get laid.”

“Oooh, you like him? Did you hear that Gabriel? I heard a rumor that Sam likes you!”

“Shut up! He'll hear you!”

Gabriel smiles watching them. The kid doesn't know how lucky he is.

“I heard that rumor,” Gabriel says, “I heard they've got a date tomorrow night.”

Charlie gives an exaggerated gasp. “A date?! Oh my! This is serious!”

He strolls a little distance behind them, watching them tease each other. Before he knows it they're standing in front of Charlie's apartment building.

“No fair, I was tired and didn't want to walk. You tricked me.” Charlie pouts.

“You made it so quit whining.” Sam pushes her toward the door.

“Wait!” She says halfway inside, she turns and runs back to Gabriel and throws herself on him, hugging him tightly. She kisses his cheek and whispers in his ear. “Don't hurt him.

Gabriel smiles and nods, hugging her back. I'm halfway convinced that I'm the one who's getting hurt here, he thinks.

She bounds through the door and waves back at them.

“What did she say?” Sam asks as they turn toward his place.

“She told me not to hurt you.”

Sam drops his head and watches his feet. Why the fuck would she say that to him?

I don't want to hurt you, Sam. That's the last thing I want to do. Should we bail on this thing now? Be honest with me.”

Sam stops walking, eyes still locked on the brown leather of his shoes. He finally looks up and he has trouble meeting Gabriel's eyes, but when he does he doesn't look away.

“I don't like one night stands or flings, I told you that.” Sam pushes his hands deep in his pockets, drawing his shoulders up.

Gabriel nods. “That's okay, I understand.”

“You didn't let me finish. I can't get into those things because I need a connection with someone and that takes me awhile. Somehow we have that. We have it in just a couple days. No- that's not even true, we had it in a couple hours. I thought you were mentally ill and I still felt it. I don't even understand what you are and I feel it.”

Sam starts walking again. “I know you're not here much longer but I don't want to ignore that feeling. It's been so long since I've had it. So maybe it'll hurt, I'm pretty positive it will, but I think it's worth it. Do you?”

Gabriel doesn't hesitate. “Yep. I'm in.”

The corner of Sam's mouth turns up in an adorable lopsided grin and Gabriel knows he's totally screwed. The rest of the walk passes in comfortable quiet, and they both head to their beds expecting not to sleep at all.

Chapter Text

Day 4

Sam pads into the kitchen on bare feet. Gabriel is sitting at the island typing on the laptop.

“Whatcha searching for now?” Sam asks as he starts cooking his eggs from a carton.

“Finally answering all these emails from the professor.”

“Sounds riveting.”

“You have no idea,” Gabriel rolls his eyes and hits send, “there, all done. So what's on the agenda?”

“It's a surprise. Nothing fancy for the first part, but hopefully you like it. The second part is fancy. By the way, is that all you have to wear?”

“I can snap up whatever I need.”

“Snap up, you mean like the phone thing?”

“Yep. I can do it in another room if it scares you. How fancy are we talking, do I need my evening gown?”

Sam sniggers as he scrambles the eggs. “I can just imagine you in an evening gown.”

“I do have the ass for it.”

“No evening gowns, a suit though. You'll need a suit tonight.”

“Easy enough.”

“So what other things can you do?”

“That's a pretty broad question; you'd probably be better off asking me what I can't do. Anything from snapping up phones to creating portals to other universes is in my repertoire.”

“Interesting.” Sam bites the inside of his cheek, thinking.

“MmHmm, it's fascinating. So when are we leaving?”

Sam sits down with his plate to eat. “About an hour. We need to be there at noon and that gives us time to walk over.”

“Do you ever drive?”

The question surprises Sam for some reason. “Yeah, sure. Why?”

“Just curious.”

“Well, part of the reason we picked this house was because it's within walking distance of most every place I go. I have a car, I drive out to Lawrence to see Dean and Anna, or if I'm shopping for something I can't get close by. But I'd rather walk.”

“Makes sense.” Gabriel nods.

Sam’s phone rings, but it’s not the blaring heavy metal music that indicates it’s Dean. Sam picks it up and checks it, but he doesn’t recognize the number.

“Hello?”

“Sam? Is this Sam Winchester?”

“Yes, who is this?”

“Oh, good. Sam, it’s Nick. I’ve been trying to reach you but our internet here is shit. Has Gabriel emailed me back? I sent him a million questions.”

“Yeah, he just hit send on the email not even ten minutes ago.”

Gabriel realizes who it is on the phone and smirks a little.

“Here, I’m putting you on speaker phone, Nick.”

“Well if we ever get back to the civilized world I’ll look forward to those answers. That’s not really why I’m calling. It’s about those DNA test results. Gabriel, can you hear me?”

“I’m here, Nick.”

“Good. Okay, so on a basic level it looks like your DNA matches ours. And yours is a clone of George’s, right down to a T. But there’s something else present, something… Different. It didn’t last long in the lab, it deteriorated pretty quickly. My researcher friend is asking for another DNA sample. Are you willing to do that?”

Gabriel looks at Sam and shrugs. He doesn’t know what to do. He assumes what they found was some residual bit of his grace. It wouldn’t last long away from him, and he can’t imagine what they would do with it even if it did. They would have absolutely nothing in this universe that would compare to the grace of an angel.

“Gabriel? Are you there?”

“Yes. I’m here. Yeah, I guess that’s okay. I imagine what he found was my grace, Nick. If they want another sample I’m fine with it.”

“What’s grace?”

“Uh, well… It’s my power, I guess is the best way to describe it. I don’t know how to answer that.”

“Right, Ok. Well a courier is on their way over.”

“How long until they get here? We had some plans this afternoon,” Sam says.

“Should be there any time. He was sending someone rush when I got off the phone with him, that was just before I called you. He said if you don’t want to give another sample to just send the guy back.”

“Ok, sounds good, Nick,” Sam picks his phone up, preparing to end the call, “you guys enjoy your trip. Don’t spend all your time on the phone, promise?”

Nick chuckles. “You sound like George. I can’t help it, Sam, I’m dying to be in that lab right now. But I’ll do my best. Thank you for this, Gabriel.”

“No problem.”

“Talk to you both soon!” Nick hangs up.

Sam sets his phone down. “I’m gonna get my socks and shoes on and then as soon as the courier is here we can leave.” His feet barely make a sound on the kitchen tiles as he leaves the room.

Gabriel moves to the couch and sits back. He’s not sure if he should be doing these DNA samples, but if the DNA is the same and his grace fades quickly then he can’t imagine what it would hurt.

Sam sits beside him to put on his shoes. He’s closer than what he’s sat before, their thighs almost touching. Gabriel looks across Sam’s wide back as he leans down to tie his shoes. He’d love to runs his hands across those shoulders.

Sam sits back and looks over, realizing suddenly how close he sat to Gabriel. Should he move down? Is it weird to sit this close? Would it be weird to move? Why does this seems so important?

There’s a knock on the door. Sam escapes his awkward thoughts and answers it.

“OK, let's do this.” He rips open the test and dons the gloves. It takes two minutes and the courier is gone again.

“He was definitely checking out your ass.”

“Good to know,” Sam says sarcastically.

“Hey, don’t blame the guy, it’s not his fault. I’ve checked out your ass too, it’s a nice ass.”

“Is this the charm you mentioned? Is this you flirting?” Sam pulls the front door open for Gabriel to exit and they step out onto the sidewalk in the warm sun.

“You don’t like my flirting?”

“I guess if you admitting you stared at my ass is flirting then it’s fine, I just had a little something more in mind.”

“You’ve stared at my ass too.”

“What? How do you know that?”

“I don’t, but I think you just admitted it.”

“Ok, you caught me,” Sam laughs and checks his watch, “we're gonna be early. That'll make Pam happy.”

“Any clues as to where we're going?”

“Clues…” Sam smiles watching his feet as they walk, “ok, we'll see if you can guess. You'll stink when we're done, so you'll probably be running to the shower.”

“Oh I'm excited already; this sounds like a lovely date. You should know that I don't shower, I don't need to.”

“Ever?”

“Nope. But if I'm showering with you I could make an exception.”

Sam blushes and ignores the comment. “So you've never taken a shower?”

“No. I can keep my vessel clean without it. I'm not opposed to a bath though, especially if I'm not alone. And suction cup restraints are a nice accessory. I can hold my breath for a really long time.”

“Bondage? Are you into that?”

“Some days it's fun. Ever tried it?”

Sam is purple he's so flushed; he can feel it burning on his neck. “Yes, but nothing hard core.”

“I'm a fan of the lighter stuff myself. All those knots can get complicated.”

Sam tries to hide his laugh and fails. “I went to an art show about six months ago and it was all pictures of men and women tied up in the most complicated knots and ropes. I was blown away.”

“Yeah, but the real question is- did it turn you on?”

“Not really, I mostly just stood there and thought about how long it probably took and wondered how in the world they get out of them.”

Gabriel laughs.

“Next clue. It's loud. Your ears will be ringing when we leave.”

“So it stinks and it's loud. Is this some new techno gym thing that I haven't heard of? Because if you're taking me to exercise you'll be sorely disappointed. Although I won't be, I'd love to see you sweating and lifting heavy things.”

“I'm not taking you to work out, what a shitty date idea.”

“Ok then, I'm stumped. Next clue.”

“When I leave I always feel a little sad, and I'm covered in hair.”

“Covered in hair? Human hair?”

“Ah, are you supposed to ask questions or do I just give clues, we didn't set rules.”

“I don't follow rules anyway.”

“Not surprising. And no, not human hair.”

“Are we going to play with puppies, Sam? Because this could backfire on you, I might be sneaking them out under my shirt.”

Sam grins wide, his eyes sparkling. “I've tried, they won't let you. There's not many puppies though, so don't get your hopes up. This is a rescue where I volunteer; it's mostly adult dogs they're trying to find homes for.”

They're getting close, Gabriel can hear dogs barking. “All dogs are puppies, Sam, doesn't matter how old they are. They never really grow up.”

“That's kinda true. They called me and asked me to come exercise a dog that came in last week. Sounds like he's a handful.”

The building is white and painted with cartoonish dogs and paw prints all across the front. They enter through a side door and walk into an office. Two women jump up to hug Sam.

“Gabriel, this is Pamela and Missouri, ladies, this is my date, Gabriel. I'm hoping he'll help me socialize a few dogs today.”

“I'm very skilled at socializing, nice to meet you ladies.”

“You got your work cut out for you today, Sam,” Pamela says, “Oreo is sweet but he's out of control. We don't even have him on the adoption floor right now, we're going to have to foster him for a while and get him some basic obedience.” She shakes her head as she walks out of the room.

Sam follows and then steps into a holding room. “She'll bring him here and we can see what we're working with. They told me that his family couldn't handle him anymore, he got too big and they had kids they were concerned he might accidentally hurt. They like me to take these energetic guys out to the runs and wear them out. Sometimes it takes a while, you okay with being here for hours? You said you like dogs and I took you at your word.”

“Yep, I'll see how I can help.” This is probably going to freak him out. It will. It's definitely going to freak him out.

The door opens and the largest dog Sam has ever seen barrels through it. His head is massive and his flashy black and white spots make his chaotic movements seem even more exaggerated. He bounds up to Sam and jumps, putting his front paws on Sam's shoulders.

“Shit! Oreo get down!” Pamela yells.

The dog drops from Sam and leans his excited wiggling body against Gabriel. The surprising weight of the dog knocks him off balance and he flops backward into a chair.

“Pamela, you said big and black and white and I just assumed a Dalmatian. I didn't know this was a Great Dane!”

“I'm sorry; I left it out because I was afraid the size would scare you. We have zero interest from any of our fosters right now because of his size and I at least need someone to get some of his energy out. He's out of my league; he pulls me around on the leash like I'm the dog. Will you please try?”

Gabriel rubs the dog's neck, making him groan. He's panting and excited but as long as someone is showing him attention he seemed to be controllable. The minute Gabriel stops petting him he tries to climb into his lap.

“Of course I'll try. How old is he?”

“Almost a year. He's not even done growing in height and he'll probably put on fifty more pounds of weight. His family had no clue what they were getting when they brought him home.”

Gabriel takes the dogs face between his hands and looks at his eyes. “You're still a baby,” he says softly. “Your head is huge.” The dog blows out a big huff of air, his jowls flapping.

“Ok, I'll see if I can get some of this energy out and we'll go from there.”

The relief on Pamela's face is plain as day. She slips out the door, leaving Sam staring at Gabriel and the massive dog.

Sam scratches his head. “Now I know why they sounded so desperate on the phone. It’s all women here; I imagine getting him out to the runs is quite a chore. And the runs aren’t big enough for him to stretch his legs.”

“He wants to run,” Gabriel says, standing. The dog leans into his thighs.

“Yeah, I bet he does.”

“No, he wants to run. Full open, really fast. His legs itch, he wants to really run.”

Sam gives Gabriel a weird look. “His legs itch?”

“You’re gonna freak, but we need to just get it out of the way. I can communicate with him. Not like he’s talking, but in feelings, pictures kind of. He wants to run. He’s not hyper; he just hasn’t been given any outlet. Let him run it out and he’ll be a totally different dog.”

“You can communicate. With a dog. Riiiight.” Sam sits in the chair and stares at the floor. Why did he think this date would be normal? Nothing is normal about Gabriel.

“I know it’s weird, I realize you won’t believe it and we’ll be back to you thinking I’m crazy. But if I can snap up a phone then why can’t I understand Oreo? That’s a stupid name by the way. Cute for a puppy maybe, but did they not expect him to grow?”

Sam smiles a little, it isa stupid name. That’s the first thing he’d thought when the dog jumped on his shoulders to look him in the eye. “Okay, so he wants to run. They don’t let dogs off the property, it’s a liability. What do we do with him?”

“You need to go talk to them; they need to make an exception. He’s nervous. He doesn’t understand why he’s here. He misses his humans, especially the little ones. He even misses the big male, and he yelled at him all the time. So he’s anxious and lonely and pent up. He likes human contact and he’s deprived of it, that’s why he wants to jump on the women. He wants them to hold him. He thinks he’s small.”

“Ok, stop. You’re gonna make me cry and I’m not crying on a fucking date.” Sam rubs his hair back from his face. “Let me talk to Missouri.”

Sam leaves Gabriel standing with the dog. His head is at Gabriel’s waist, and Gabriel pets him absently. “You have to be good, okay? Best behavior. Don’t give Sam any trouble, you hear me?”

The dog whines.

“I know. If you can be a good boy you’ll find a home sooner. I know it’s scary here, you have to be a good.”

The dog lowers his hind quarters to the floor and sits calmly.

“Just like that, Oreo. That’s good,” Gabriel pats his head, “you need a different name. Who in the hell names a dog like you after a cookie? You’re more of a Brutus or a Hercules type.”

The dog groans, his lip catching on his gum giving him a lopsided expression.

“Don’t like those? Okay, what about Moose? Or Thor?”

The dog sighs.

“Okay, let’s really think then. You’re a big guy, like a giant. Maybe Titan? No, that doesn’t fit. What about Rungnir? Nah. Sam probably wouldn’t want to say that all the time, doesn’t roll off the tongue very well. Rung was an ugly bastard too.”

He looks the dog over. He’s handsome and flashy, a real eye catcher.

“What about Reis? You look like a Reis. He was handsome too, for a giant.”

His big tail thumps the floor.

“Reis it is, I’ll make the announcement.”

Sam and Missouri enter the room a couple minutes later and take in the perfectly behaved dog and Gabriel lightly scratching his ear.

“That’s the calmest I’ve seen him since he came in. You got a way with dogs don’t ya,” Missouri says.

“He’s happy because I changed his name. Missouri, Sam, I’d like you to meet Reis.” The dog barks, low and loud.

“Strange name,” Missouri smiles, “fits him though. Alright, Reis it is. You sure this is a good idea, baby?” She looks at Sam with concern.

“We’re about to find out.” Sam snaps the leash on the dog's collar and looks at Gabriel. “You coming?”

“To run? No, not my speed. He said he’ll be on his best behavior though.”

“Right,” Sam moves to the door, the dog staying at his side, “let’s do this, Reis.”

“So, Gabriel,” Missouri looks him over, “you wanna try another dog while Sam’s gone?”

“Sure. Got anything smaller?”

“I do actually. She needs a special touch, you might just have it. Let me get her.” Missouri is gone and back within a minute, she holds a small black bundle against her chest. “This is Abby. I’m going to put her down and leave the room, you see how she does.”

Gabriel nods and watches her sit the tiny dog down. She can’t be more than five pounds and she’s trembling all over her body.

Her black hair is short and shiny. Her big brown eyes are darting around. She’s a mutt, probably chihuahua and maybe some terrier? Who knows, really.

She crouches so low and tight that she looks pitiful. He sits on the floor and crosses his legs and lets her come to him. She inches over as Missouri shuts the door and sniffs his outstretched hand. She climbs into his lap and curls up immediately. He sees Missouri shaking her head and smiling through the window.

Gabriel lies down after a couple of minutes and lets the little dog climb up and lay on his chest. Her shaking slows and then stops, and pretty soon she’s asleep. He hears people walking back and forth passed the door and he knows a couple of them stop to look in. After a while he hears Sam’s voice down the hall, and then he knows Sam is standing outside the door watching. Gabriel doesn’t move, he doesn’t want to disturb the dog.

Sam finally turns the door handle and slips inside, sitting in the chair looking down at Gabriel. His hair is wet around his temples from sweat and he still looks a little flushed. “I’m sorry, but you do realize how many dogs have peed on that floor, right?”

“This is the way her human used to lay with her, before he died. She liked to listen to his heart. There’s no bed available and I figured a little dog pee wouldn’t hurt me as long as it calmed her down.”

Sam bounces his head back lightly against the wall, eyes raised to the ceiling. “There you go, saying stuff to make me like you.”

“I told you I'd turn on the charm; I didn't realize laying on a dirty floor would be charming.”

Sam lowers himself to the floor beside Gabriel and lays down, staring up at the fluorescent lights.

“You could have picked a spot without dog shit stains,” Gabriel teases.

“Shut up, you ass.” Sam swats at Gabriel’s arm and Gabriel catches his hand quickly. Their fingers slip together like they’ve done it a million times.

“How’s Reis? Was he well behaved?”

“He was perfect. Wore me out pretty fast since I couldn’t warm up. I took him to the jogging trail. He was at a full sprint for about fifteen minutes and then he settled down. Perfect leash manners while we walked back. He’s smart too, if they can find someone to foster him that can keep up he’ll learn obedience really quickly.”

“So what do we do now?”

“Well, whenever you want to move her we’ll go pull some more dogs and take them out to the runs. Throw the ball or just pet them, whatever.”

“I’m good with holding your hand for a while.”

“I’m good with that too,” Sam smiles and glances over at Gabriel’s profile. His eyes are closed and he looks calm and relaxed. They lay there quietly with the little dog content on Gabriel’s chest for a bit and let her start moving around when she decides she wants to. She moves over to lick Sam’s face and his big hand dwarfs her body as he pets her. “You realize she stays in the corner of the cage unless they pull her out? She doesn’t move or walk or anything. If they put her down she freezes and curls into a ball. You’re the first person she’s come to since she’s been here, and that’s almost a month.”

“That’s because I’m not a person. And this is the worst environment she could be in. The noise and the commotion aren't good for her. She needs a calm quiet house, her human was old, all he did was watch television.”

“What about kids? Should she go to a house with kids?”

Gabriel runs a hand over her. “Yeah, she'd be okay with kids. Her human had grandkids and she liked them. They just have to know to be gentle with her.”

Sam stands and picks her up, she looks ridiculously small in his arms. “I can't believe how small she is.”

“She's got a big heart if she could get out of here.”

“I hate to put her back in that cage.”

“You and me both, Sammich.”

The next four hours are spent rotating dogs out of cages, playing with some, letting them run and jump, and cuddling others. Gabriel thoroughly enjoys it, and he enjoys watching Sam's smile even more. He laughs when Pamela offers him a job working with the dogs, blowing her off. And he thanks Missouri and tells her he appreciates the offer when she does the same.

“So did you have fun?” Sam asks on the walk back.

“I did. I really did,” Gabriel slips his hand into Sam's again, if this is a date he's going to act like it. “One question though.”

“What's that?”

“You said you're sad when you leave there, why is that?”

Sam looks at Gabriel's face, studying those eyes. “You don't miss anything do you? Yeah, sometimes I'm sad. I think about Butler and it makes me sad. Brady loves him too, I know he probably takes great care of him but I still miss him.”

Gabriel nods.

“Butler, I mean. I miss my dog. Not Brady.”

“You don't miss Brady?”

“I don't think it's Brady I miss as much as just missing having someone. Being alone sucks sometimes.”

“I can't argue with that.”

“Is there anyone you miss?”

Gabriel takes a deep breath, thinking for several seconds. “I miss my family, but I don't miss how crazy they are. Sometimes I miss Kali, but she and I weren't ever going to be long term. We both knew that.”

“How long ago did you split up?”

“I don't know, eight hundred years ago maybe?” Gabriel watches Sam try to process this, his face flipping through expressions. “So I know you miss your dog but have you ever thought about giving one of those dogs a home?”

“Yeah, sometimes. I guess I just haven't met the right one yet.”

“Now I see why you're sad when you leave, this is kinda depressing.”

“Sorry.” Sam's apology sounds genuine.

“Nah, no worries. So, any clues on the next half of the date?”

“Hmmm…” Sam breaks his hand away to pull out his keys, “not yet. I've gotta shower and get dressed, don't forget the suit. How is it that I'm covered in dog hair and sweat and you look the exact same as you did when we left?”

“A lady never reveals her secrets, Sam.” Gabriel winks.

Sam opens the door and climbs the stairs to shower and get ready.

Gabriel checks the laptop and finds more questions from Nick. He answers what he can and ignores the others. Before he knows it he hears Sam coming down the stairs. Gabriel snaps on a black suit just before Sam rounds the corner.

And dammit it all, Sam looks good. He's wearing a charcoal grey suit, no tie and the top button of his white shirt is undone. Sam is one of the few men who somehow manages to be masculine and elegant at the same time. The long neck, the small tease of exposed collar bones, the narrow waist and perfectly fitting jacket. Elegant is the perfect word for it.

Holy shit he looks like a model.

Gabriel is openly gawking, he knows, but he can't help it. He clears his throat and looks down. He waves his hand and makes his tie disappear, matching Sam.

Sam smiles a little, surprised by the action but not scared of it. He looks at Gabriel, his hand tucked into his pocket, pulling back one corner of the jacket. He looks perfect, exactly what Sam was hoping for.

“I'm gonna be honest, the only reason I made reservations at the restaurant later was so I could see you in a suit. I knew you'd look good.” Sam rubs his palm over the back of his neck.

“Me? Did you look in the mirror? I could eat you for dinner, Sam.”

Sam can't help but grin and look down at his shoes.

“Sorry,” Gabriel holds his hands up, “no pressure for sex, I promised. But damn.” He shakes his head and looks at the open collar on Sam's shirt, that dip at the base of his throat. Nope. Cut it out, Gabriel. Look anywhere but there.

“Right, okay. Let's do this, my car's in the back.”

Sam leads them out the back door, over the patio and through the back yard to the garage. Gabriel had no idea Sam had a patio, or yard, or garage. He never even looked out the back door.

Sam drives an SUV. A big, black, shiny, enormous SUV. This is what guys drive when they're compensating for other shortcomings. Gabriel chuckles a little and Sam glances up.

“What?”

“This the only thing you can fit in?”

“No, shut up,” Sam gets in and waits until Gabriel is in the seat beside him. “Brady took the car, which was stupid because we specifically bought this to haul the dog around in. But no, he had a hissy fit over the fucking Porsche and I just didn't give a shit by then. And this is paid off so if he wants that car payment that's on him.”

“I have no idea what you're talking about so I'll just nod my head.”

Sam smirks and backs out of the garage.

Gabriel's eyes light up when he looks at the center console covered in buttons. “What does this do?”

“That's the temperature for your side of the climate control.”

“What's this?”

“Satellite radio,” Sam is only half paying attention to Gabriel as he navigates the busy traffic.

“Oooh, what's that,” Gabriel watches a map appear on the screen.

“Navigation. It's maps and stuff. Do you drive?”

“No, I fly though.”

“You can't drive a car but you can fly a plane?”

Gabriel is pressing buttons everywhere. “I can't fly a plane. I can fly. What's that?”

“Wait, you can what? That's your heated seat- No, don't push that, that's myheated seat! Okay- Stop! This is like the last time I had Benny in here, I couldn't figure out what all he pushed for a week. Hands off. ”

Gabriel huffs. “Benny sounds like my kinda guy.”

“Yeah, I'm sure you'd get along great. Go back to the flying thing; this could mess up my plans.”

“How would me flying mess up your plan?”

“Just clarify the flying, please? Are you talking about a pilot's license?”

“No, I know nothing about planes. I myself can fly. Kinda. I have wings in my true form, but in a vessel I snap my fingers and I'm somewhere else, it happens so fast. You want me to show you? I could snap you with me if you want. Where do you wanna go?”

“No- absolutely not, no. I believe you,” Sam focuses on driving for a second. “Well, shit.”

“What's wrong?”

“I just don't think this date idea is gonna be that big of a hit.”

“So far you're ten for ten, Samoose, unless things take a drastic turn I think we'll have a good time doing whatever.”

“Yeah, you're probably right. It should still be fun anyway.”

“That's the spirit. Give me your hand.”

“Why?” Sam puts his arm out.

“I want to hold it.”

“You're pretty tactile aren't you?”

“You have no idea. Does it bother you?”

“No, I like it actually,” Sam's eyes flip between his mirrors. He feels a slight blush in his cheeks as Gabriel slips his fingers between his own.

“So we're going in a plane?”

“No, no planes. I'm sure you'd like a plane though, lots of buttons to push.”

“Hmm. No planes. Okay then, any clues?”

“Not this time, I want it to be a surprise.” They're driving out of the city now, houses are spacing out and fields are opening up. The afternoon sun is getting lower in the sky.

“How much longer?”

“About 20 minutes.” Sam looks out over the open space and takes a deep breath. “I've wanted to do this since it started two summers ago, but it's not something you do with a friend. I guess it could be but I wanted to do it with someone special, not Charlie or Dean or whatever.”

“You sayin’ I'm special, Samsquatch?” Gabriel intended to sound teasing and humorous, but the voice that came out was soft and almost shy.

Sam glances over at those golden brown eyes. “Yeah, Gabriel, you are.”

“So are you.”

Sam looks back at the road and clears his throat, “so how long do you think you'll be here?”

“I don't know, a couple more days maybe? Didn't think about it much when I jumped, I didn't even know if I'd make it back.”

“Why not?”

“Well, last time I landed in a universe with an earth that was in meltdown mode, and I mean that literally. Scared the shit out of me, I didn't know if I'd be able to recharge before it went nuclear. When I jumped back home I told myself never again.

“So what changed? Why are you here?”

Gabriel looks out his window over the vast open plains, occasionally dotted by houses. The huge blue sky, clear and calm and seemingly never ending spread out above them.

“I'm not sure I was thinking clearly. I was bored and tired of the same thing, over and over. I figured if I landed somewhere and didn't make it back then whatever, no one would ever know the difference. No one would care.”

Sam doesn't know what to say to that. Maybe he's been lonely in his life but he's always had his brother and friends to lean on. He wishes he could think of something appropriate to say, something that would make Gabriel feel better. Instead he just squeezes his hand.

Gabriel looks down at Sam's long fingers between his own, feels the pressure of Sam holding his hand tightly. He likes this Sam so much he can't even put it into words. He wants to keep him just like this forever. The quiet of the car, the comfort of the silence, Sam offering consolation with a squeeze of his hand. Something inside Gabriel feels like it's been soothed. Like a broken piece being pushed into place. He sighs softly and squeezes Sam's hand in return.

The rest of the drive is spent quietly watching the fields pass by. Eventually, Sam slows and turns onto a gravel access road and drives along the bumpy path past a barn and some farm equipment.

“I texted an old co-worker last night, her boyfriend runs this business. They made special accommodations just for us.” Just as Sam finishes saying this they round a corner and a giant basket appears in front of them. What looks like miles of brightly colored fabric are spread on the ground and steadily rising up.

Sam smiles so big it makes Gabriel's heart ache, and then Sam looks over at him. “So no planes, but have you ever ridden in a hot air balloon?”

“Can't say as I have,” Gabriel hears the hissing burner, flame shooting into the balloon as it rises. He can't help but feel excited. He's never given hot air balloons much notice beyond a passing glance before now, but Sam's excitement is contagious. He'll never look at the brightly colored lumbering giants the same. Sam's face covered in childlike wonder, his eyes sparkling and cheeks dimpled is a vision Gabriel will never forget.

A woman starts waving from beside the basket.

“Come on,” Sam opens his door and walks around to Gabriel's side, grabbing his hand to pull him on.

“Sam!” the girl exclaims. She runs over and wraps her arms around him. “I've missed you!”

“You're always so sweet, I've missed you too,” Sam hugs her tightly and then turns her to Gabriel. “Hannah, this is Gabriel, Gabriel, this is Hannah. She's the nicest person I've ever known.”

Her dark hair frames an open and honest face that beams with a genuine smile. She's gorgeous, but it's apparent that she's the type of woman who couldn't care less. Her light blue eyes are striking, and Gabriel likes her instantly.

“Oh, Sam, quit telling stories on me. Nice to meet you, Gabriel.” She gently shakes his hand.

“Don't let her fool you, boys, she's got a temper like a rattlesnake,” a long haired guy walks toward them wiping his hands on a rag, “that's what I like about her.” He grins and flips Hannah's backside with the rag, making her yelp.

She smacks his arm. “Stop it, Ash! Sam, Gabriel, this is my boyfriend, Ash.”

Handshakes are passed around. “Sorry, haven't had a chance to change yet. Give me a few minutes to run and do that and we'll be ready,” Ash says.

“No need to change on our account, we're ready when you are. Are you ready, Gabriel?” Sam's eyes dance like a kid.

“I don't think you can hold Sam back much longer.”

“We're almost upright,” Ash says as he turns back to the balloon, “almost time!” He calls over his shoulder.

“Hannah, are you joining us?” Sam asks.

“No, Sam, I'll be in one of the chase trucks. We'll follow you guys and grab the drop line if we have to land in a tight space, and then they load up and I drive you back here. You'll have about an hour up there, plenty of time to watch the sunset and then land.”

The three of them wander closer to the balloon as it lifts higher and fills out. Gabriel notices several other men packing up a huge fan, and one holding a long rope attached to the top of the balloon. As it inflates more the guy lets go of the rope.

“You look good, Sam. I'm so glad you came today,” Hannah smiles, “you couldn't have planned better weather either.”

“Winds are low today, and they're gonna take us west,” Ash holds the gate open for them to step into the basket, “I love going west for the sunset.” He closes the gate and leans over to Hannah. “Kiss me, beautiful.” Hannah gives him a quick kiss and then steps back to wave.

“Alright!” Ash hollers and grins a lopsided smile. He hits the propane burner and shoots a flame up. “Let's do this!”

The basket starts to rock and Gabriel looks down at his feet. The rocking feels unsteady for a second, and then it stops as they lift off the ground. Sam grabs his hand tightly. Gabriel looks up at Sam, but Sam is looking up into the balloon above them.

The center is yellow, with yellow points coming out like a sun. Between each point is an alternating color of the rainbow that extends down to bands of orange and red. It looks almost lit from within, the way the sun is hitting it.

“That's called the envelope,” Ash says over the sound of the burner.

“The balloon part is called an envelope?” Gabriel asks. He's completely calm, not unsettled in the least.

Sam's emotions seem to be bouncing between excited, terrified, and fascinated, if Gabriel is reading his face correctly. Whatever Sam is feeling has him speechless.

“Yes sir,” Ash nods.

Wind hits them, not horribly strong but it seems to distract Sam from his thoughts. He looks down from the envelope and around them as the ground slips away.

“That wind will die down as we get higher,” Ash looks out over the horizon, “it's gonna be pretty tonight. I can tell.”

“How do you steer?” Sam steps closer to the side, his hand still holding Gabriel's.

Gabriel steps fully to the side of the basket, pulling Sam with him to look over.

“I take us up and down through the currents as best I can, but the wind is really your guide, not me.”

They ascend faster than what Gabriel imagined they would. It's not fast, but it's smooth, and he has to correct his initial thought from when they drove up. The things aren't lumberous at all. Seeing them on the ground is like seeing a whale out of water. It's not in its element. It's at home in the sky, and it's graceful and beautiful.

The wind dies off, and when they reach the altitude Ash wants he lets off the burner.

And then it's quiet. It's the calmest and most serene quiet Sam has ever heard. He'd imagined it would be windy, but it's not. It's almost weightless it feels so smooth. It's not anything like what Sam expected, it's better. It doesn't seem possible, but it is.

“You nervous?”

Gabriel knows Ash is talking to him because Sam is still lost in his own world.

“Not at all.”

“You flown before?”

“Not in one of these.”

Sam laughs to himself at that smooth evasion of an answer Gabriel gave. “I wasn't nervous at all, and then I got really nervous. But now it's so calm. I can't believe how calm it is.”

“That's why I love it,” Ash blasts the burner for a few seconds, “basically this is just controlled falling, boys.”

“How long have you been doing this?” Sam slips his arm around Gabriel's waist. Gabriel immediately wraps his arm around Sam without a single hesitation. It feels totally normal.

“Been flying with my dad since I was a kid, but as a business? Two years. Had a guy call me one day, he got my number through a friend. Said his girlfriend always wanted to take a ride and he wanted to propose while they were up, asked me what it would cost. I told him it's not cheap to fly; he said whatever it costs to double it. People started callin’ pretty regular after that, and then we started the date stuff. That was Hannah's idea, she says this is the most romantic place to be, up in the sky without a care in the world. Works pretty well unless one of them is afraid of heights. Had a few just flat out refuse. Pretty good living though, considering I mostly do it on the weekends and only in the summer and early fall.”

“This has to be the best job in the world,” Sam smiles at Ash, “you know how lucky you are?”

“Worst part is dressin’ up, that was Hannah's idea too. She makes me wear a tux because she says I look so handsome. She's crazy. Still don't know what she's doin’ with me after all these years.” Ash grins a little as he looks away.

“How'd you guys meet?” Gabriel asks.

“Prosecutor's office. I got myself in a little bit of trouble and took a plea. I saw her on the phone, typing on her computer and I just couldn't look away. When my lawyer got done I walked right up to her desk, it was right outside your office, Mr. Winchester, and I said,” Ash shakes his head, thinking back, “I don't really know what I said. Somethin' about how pretty she was I think. And then I asked her out. She was on the phone and I was talkin' to her like an idiot and she looked up and smiled and I swear I almost passed out. She said yes and here we are.”

“Yeah, you guys met right about the time I left. I forgot that. She really liked you; she said it was like she'd known you forever. I'm glad she's happy, she deserves the best.”

“Yes sir, she does. She deserves better than me, that's for sure. She made me wanna do better so she wouldn't be ashamed to be with me. I was gonna cut my hair and everything, she almost had a fit. I don't know what that woman sees in me,” Ash leans into the side of the basket; “there's no one else like her.”

“You're right, there's not. I always knew it would take someone special to catch Hannah's eye. Looks like she found it.”

“I don't know about all that, Mr. Winchester.”

“Call me Sam. Hannah may be nice but she's also the best judge of character I know. If she's with you, you're worth it, Ash.”

“Thank you, Sam.” Ash hits the burner again, taking them higher. “Listen to me, jackin’ my jaw when you guys should be looking at that.” Ash points west and Gabriel and Sam turn to look behind them.

Sam has never been the dramatic, gasping kind of guy. But his shock at the beauty of the sunset forces out a long, “woahhhhh.” He feels Gabriel's fingers tighten on his back and he presses into Sam's side, and it's perfect. The open, unobstructed view of a fiery orange sunset fading into shades of pink and purple and blue as it goes down. The feel of this man against him whom he's quickly becoming more and more attracted to, and the quiet and calm. It's all so perfect.

No one says anything because there just aren't words to do justice to the beauty of the moment. It's one of those things you have to see, just take in as much as you can, because you know it's fleeting and you want to remember every detail. It almost makes Sam sad knowing this moment can't last forever, but the exhilaration is more powerful and he stands in wonder.

He has no idea how long they stand in silence, the only sound being the occasional burst of the burner. They watch the colors change and the sun drops lower, first intensifying and then softening as the light lessens.

There's a crackle of a radio.

“I'm here,” Ash says into a walkie talkie. He holds it by his ear and listens to the broken words.

“Sounds good, we'll start moving down,” he turns to Sam and Gabriel, “winds took us further than I thought; you boys have anywhere to be? Hope it didn't mess up your plans, I got kinda caught up in watching that sunset myself.”

“Yeah, we did but it doesn't matter,” Sam pulls his arm away as he turns toward Ash. He catches a few of Gabriel's fingers with his, not wanting to break contact.

Ash nods. “Sorry about that.”

“It was just dinner; I'd miss a hundred meals to watch another sunset like that.”

The radio crackles again and Ash puts it by his ear, Gabriel can make out a few words.

See that, Ash?........-beautiful……..-wish I was with you.” Ash smiles with his head leaned toward the radio in his hand.

“I'm gonna marry her,” he says softly.

“When?” Gabriel asks. He sees Ash come back from his dreamy thoughts and straighten up, thinking about the question.

“Probably when I ask her.” He looks over the side and then hits the burner.

“I better get an invitation,” Sam grins.

“Yes Sir, Mr. Win- Sam, you will. Hannah says you were the best boss she ever had. She misses you.”

“I wasn't her boss,” Sam shakes his head.

“Well she was your assistant, what else does that make you?”

“I don't know…”

Sam's voice trails off but Ash doesn't notice. He's hitting the burner in quick short bursts and watching where they're headed. It's pretty much dark and he's making sure the chase vehicles can easily reach them where they land and doing his best to aim as he keeps the decent smooth.

“Now I'm a little nervous,” Sam whispers, backing away from the side.

“Ah, don't you turn into a scaredy cat now, Samsquatch.” Gabriel moves in front of Sam and reaches back, grabbing both of Sam's hands. He pulls Sam's arms around himself and then steps to the side, making Sam follow. He can feel Sam's excited breathing in his hair.

Sam holds on tightly to Gabriel’s hands as they watch the slow descent. Ash continues the bursts from the burner, keeping the speed controlled as they move back toward the ground. Sam’s nerves don’t fade, but his excitement overrides them, and he stays where he is as they bounce a little to the ground.

“That was awesome, Ash. I’ve never done anything like that. Thank you,” Sam’s voice is sincere as he pulls away from Gabriel to shake Ash’s hand.

Ash returns his smile. “My pleasure. You ever wanna ride again just get ahold of Hannah. Next one's on the house. Maybe I’ll take you up early morning sometime.”

“I’m gonna take you up on that.”

Hannah and the chase trucks pull up as Sam and Gabriel step out.

“What’d you think, Sam? Did you like it?”

Sam wraps his arms around her, the happiness from the experience overflowing. “I loved it, Hannah. Best thing I’ve ever done.”

“I’m so glad! What about you, Gabriel? Did you like flying?”

“I did. Haven’t enjoyed something that much in a long time. And the company wasn’t half bad either.” He winks at her and appreciates the beautiful smile she flashes him.

“Okay, boys, make yourselves comfortable in the red truck. I’ll talk to Ash and we’ll head back.”

Sam and Gabriel walk side by side to the truck, slow and a smiling. Gabriel leans his back against the vehicle and looks up at Sam.

“I wasn’t kidding. I haven’t enjoyed something that much since…” He looks down for a second as he thinks. He’s not sure he’s ever enjoyed something that much, not a human activity anyway. “Since I don’t know when,” he finally says, looking back up.

Sam has his hands in his pockets, the bottom of his suit jacket pulled back. He steps closer, very close to Gabriel, but he doesn’t make a move to touch him. He leans in a little and watches the way Gabriel looks up, like he’s expecting to be kissed. And Sam wants to kiss him. He leans in a little more.

“Alright!” Hannah’s excited voice interrupts them. “Ready?”

Sam steps back as she rounds the truck to see them, smiling from ear to ear. He clears his throat. “Yeah, thanks Hannah. I think we’re ready. I’m hungry, we’ve gotta get something to eat.”

“Ash said he took too long, he feels bad that he messed up your dinner plans.”

They all hop in the four door truck, Hannah driving, Sam in the passenger seat and Gabriel in the back.

“No big deal, tell him not to worry about it.”

“Where were you going?”

“I got us a reservation at La Maisonette. We missed it by about 45 minutes.”

Hannah’s eyes go wide. “Are you kiddingme? La Maisonette?”

Sam smiles. “It’s not a big deal, really.”

“Whatever, Sam, it is and you know it.” Hannah rolls her eyes at him. “How long have you been waiting to get in there?”

“I called today and pulled some strings.”

Today?! What- how?! You know what, nevermind. I can’t believe you didn’t tell Ash to hurry it up; I wouldn’t want to miss the chance to eat there. Have you been before?”

“No, always figured it was a special occasion kinda place and I haven’t had a special occasion in a while.” Sam looks out the window, noticing Gabriel’s silence. “Hey, if you and Ash ever wanna go just call me. I can pull those strings again.”

“I imagine those were some serious purse strings, I appreciate the offer but I couldn’t ask that.”

“Seriously,” Sam looks over at her, “make sure you tell Ash, okay? If you guys want to go I want to make it happen. He already offered me another ride at no charge, it’s the least I can do.”

“Thank you,” Hannah reaches over and pat’s Sam’s leg, “I really do miss you. Has Zeke emailed you yet this month?”

Sam chuckles a little. “Yep, like clockwork. It’s not that I don’t miss my job, but I’m doing fine on my own. Plus my head hasn’t been in it. If I ever get my drive back I’ll call him.”

“Zeke said he’ll email you every month for the next twenty years until he retires. He wants you back,” Hannah turns onto another country road, “and I’ll be waiting. If I hear you’re coming back I’ll have my stuff in front of your office the day you come back. Promise.”

“You better. I won’t come back if you’re not there. Ash knows how lucky he is, right? Is he good to you? He seems like a good guy.”

“You would have been a good older brother, Sam. Charlie and I used to talk about that. Yeah, he knows. He’s so good to me; I don’t know what I did to deserve it. I know everyone was worried when we started dating because he’d been in trouble, but I couldn’t ask for a better guy. He’s perfect for me.”

“I’m glad. You deserve it more than anyone I know.”

“Oh quit. You act like I’m perfect or something.”

“You kinda are, Hannah. If I liked women I’d be giving Ash a run for his money.”

Hannah laughs. “Whatever! You’d have a line out the door, honey.” Hannah glances in the rearview mirror at Gabriel. “So how long have you two been dating?”

“First date actually,” Gabriel says from the back seat.

“Really? You guys seem so comfortable together; I never would have guessed that. How long have you known each other?”

“A few days,” Sam pipes in.

“Wow…” Hannah doesn’t seem to know anything else to say on the subject. She turns the conversation back to work and the people she and Sam know, and the rest of the long drive passes with Gabriel quiet in the back.

“I’m sorry, Gabriel, I didn’t mean to leave you out. I’m sure us talking shop is like watching paint dry to you,” Hannah says as they step out of the truck.

“Nah, gave me time to look at the stars. It's so clear tonight, perfect for stargazing.”

Hannah and Sam both turn their eyes upward. She nods and looks back to Gabriel.

“I'm glad you both enjoyed it. No more going a year without getting in touch, you hear me?” She shakes her finger sternly at Sam.

“Yes ma'am, you have my word,” Sam hugs her tightly.

She watches them get back in Sam's SUV and waves as they pull away.

Sam gets them back on the road and then settles in for the drive. He feels a little awkward suddenly and he's not sure why. He can't think of anything to say as Gabriel looks out his passenger side window.

“Give me your hand.” He finally tells him.

“Why?” Gabriel smiles a little, glancing over.

“Because I want to hold it.”

Gabriel obliges, lacing their fingers together.

“I have got to eat; my breakfast wore off about four hours ago.”

“Don't let me stop you, Sammich. Eat whatever you want.”

“I don't know anything around here; I don't know what's good. I should have asked Hannah.”

“Stop at the next place you see, doesn't matter to me.”

Sam nods, focusing on the small piece of the world he can see in the light of his headlights. “I can’t believe that sunset. I wish I would have had my camera.”

“You like photography?”

“I do. I have since I was a kid. I took both those pictures on my table you were looking at, the one with Mom I was really little when I took it. I stole Dad’s camera when he wasn’t looking and snapped it, he didn’t know until he got the roll of film developed. He framed it and gave it to me for my birthday that year, with my own camera. That’s still the best gift I ever got.”

“So what’s your favorite thing to photograph? People? Nature?”

“I don’t know, I’m not really any good at it. If I get a good shot I think it’s more by accident. I like going to galleries though, that’s how I stumbled into the bondage one. I just look for the word ‘photographer’ and check it out.”

“You ever take pictures in the bedroom?”

Sam laughs a little. “No, never have.”

“Why not?”

“Never thought about it,” Sam shrugs, “what’s that up there? Is that a restaurant?”

“No, it’s a gas station.”

Sam keeps driving, chatting about photography for a while as the houses get closer together again.

“So what about you, any hobbies?”

“Uh, welp, I guess Trickster could be considered a hobby. Not sure.”

“Trickster?”

“Yep. It’s something I’ve done for a long time. Watch humans, pick out the assholes, and teach them lessons. I’m like living, breathing karma. You wouldn’t have karma here. Do you?”

Sam shakes his head. “So how do you teach them lessons?”

“Depends on the human. Say for instance I come across a guy that enjoys scaring people. And I don’t mean little jump scares and boos, I mean intimidating, threatening, power trip type scaring. You know the type?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“So maybe I’d drop him in a little Trickster created horror movie. Take away all his control, teach him what it feels like to be emasculated and scare the shit out of him. Usually that phrase ends up being literal by the time it’s over. That’s how I teach them lessons.”

Sam doesn’t say anything for almost a minute. Finally he sits up a little bit and pulls into the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant. He looks over at Gabriel as he pushes the shifter into park.

“I don’t know what to think of that. I thought …” Sam looks away.

“You thought what?”

“I don't know, it just doesn't seem like a nice way to teach someone a lesson.”

“Well, maybe it’s not nice for him. But when he comes back it’s nice for the people who live with him. Or who work with him. Or anyone who ever has to interact with him again. But you’re right. I’m probably not a nice guy.”

Sam sits there thinking again. He looks down at their hands linked together between them. “No, I think you are. You’re just different. You have a different way of thinking than other people I know.”

“Probably because I’m not a person.”

“Yeah, I keep forgetting that.” Sam opens his door and steps out. He meets Gabriel at the door of the busy restaurant. “This smells so good, I could eat a horse.”

“Better than a fish.”

Sam shakes his head as they step into the sound of mariachi music and people chatting as they enjoy their food. They’re seated quickly and Sam orders a beer, Gabriel doesn’t order anything.

“You ever had a strawberry daiquiri?” Sam asks before the waiter leaves.

“Nope, what is it?”

“Bring him a big one with lots of whipped cream.”

The waiter nods and heads off.

“Lots of whipped cream sounds right up my alley,” Gabriel wiggles his eyebrows at Sam. I’d like to cover him in whipped cream, start at his toes and lick and suck it off over every inch-

“You gonna eat?”

Sam cuts into Gabriel’s thoughts as he studies his menu. Gabriel does a quick scan.

“I might get something.”

“Didn’t end up needing the suits,” Sam pulls his jacket off and hangs it over the back of the chair. “I’m not really disappointed though. The French restaurant is supposed to be good but fancy food isn’t that exciting to me. As long as it tastes good I don’t care.”

“Well, I got to go on a date with a male model in a fantastic suit, so I’d like to thank the fancy restaurant, even though we didn’t end up there.”

The waiter returns with their drinks as Sam laughs. Gabriel grins at the huge red drink covered in heaping whipped cream.

Sam orders something, and when the waiter looks at Gabriel he asks for fried ice cream. “Extra honey, please.”

“Of course you want extra honey,” Sam says as the waiter walks away. He rolls up his sleeves.

Gabriel watches his movements, the muscles in his forearms. He really could make a meal out of Sam. He wasn’t kidding with that comment earlier.

“I know, I know, I’m sweet enough already. That's what you were going to say, right?”

“Absolutely,” Sam leans over the table, resting on his elbows. “So I know the dates not over yet but what do you think? How’s it been so far?”

“What are we using, scale of one to ten?” Gabriel leans onto the table, looking closely at Sam’s smiling eyes.

“Sure. Where am I, an eight? It has to at least be an eight, right?”

“I don’t know what date you’ve been on but I’m giving this a solid twenty.”

“Wait, we said one to ten-”

Gabriel holds his hand up. “I’m aware of how math works. I’m saying that you’ve more than exceeded my expectations. You blew it out of the park. On a scale of one to ten it’s at least been a twenty, probably higher.”

Sam looks away, grinning. “I’m glad you’ve had fun, so have I.”

“Best date I’ve ever been on, no lie.” Gabriel puts a hand over his heart. Also the only date I’ve ever been on, technically. That doesn't matter though. “What about you, have you had a good time?”

“I have,” Sam meets those golden eyes again. I really wish Hannah wouldn’t have interrupted that kiss though.

“So what’s the best date you’ve ever been on? And don’t say this one just to make me feel better. Be honest.”

Sam sits back, holding eye contact with Gabriel as he chews his lip, thinking. “I am being honest, it’s probably this one. Don’t get me wrong,” Sam crosses his arms over his chest, “Brady and I had plenty of good dates, but today we did stuff that I like or that I’ve always wanted to do. You really seemed to enjoy yourself, even laying on a pee stained floor. That’s pretty awesome. Brady would never have done that.”

“What can I say, I am pretty awesome.” Gabriel holds his hands up in surrender, enjoying Sam’s smile. “No, I really did enjoy myself. I did. It wasn’t an act. Promise.”

The waiter arrives with their food and Sam dives in immediately, devouring his tacos.

“Mmmm, that’s so good.”

Gabriel watches him for a minute, Sam closing his eyes and making delicious noises. He really wishes sex wasn’t off the table tonight. But he doesn’t want to pressure Sam or ask for something he isn’t ready for.

Sam opens his eyes and sees Gabriel staring.

“What? Is something on my face?”

“Nope, that face is as handsome as ever,” Gabriel picks up his spoon and licks off the honey. “What color of your eyes anyway, seems like every time I look at them they change color.”

“Yeah, they do that. Depends on the lighting and what color I’m wearing. I usually just say hazel.”

“They’re not hazel but I see what you’re saying.”

Sam nods. “Your eyes are kind of unsettling sometimes.” Sam looks down at his plate.

“In what way?”

“I don’t know. Sometimes you get really still and they just look,” Sam looks directly into those eyes searching for the right word, “intense. And they’re a strange color brown. I’ve never seen brown eyes with so much gold in them.”

Gabriel shrugs. They’re not really his eyes, but he’s not going to remind Sam of that right now.

“So, any more plans on this date Sam-a-lam? Gonna take me out dancing or something?”

Sam tries not to laugh with food in his mouth. “Do you like to dance? I’ve never been much of a dancer myself.”

“No dancing around the house in your underwear when you clean? Oh come on, don’t break my heart. Let a guy dream.”

“I actually do that sometimes,” Sam’s face reddens, “other than that though I don’t really dance.”

“No, me either. I would with you though.”

“I’ll remember that for next time.”

“Wait a second, are we committing to a second date here? This is a big step.” Gabriel pushes his plate away and sits back, sipping his daiquiri.

“Are you done with that?” Sam pulls the honey covered ice cream over after Gabriel nods. “I’d definitely go on a second date, if you’re here that long. And if you want to.”

Gabriel lifts an eyebrow. “Oh I want…”

Sam flushes again and tries not to smile, dimples flashing for a brief second.

Sam finishes the rest of the food and his beer and asks for the check.

“I should really be paying for a meal, here. I feel like a mooch,” Gabriel says as they leave the register.

“Nah. No big deal. Do you have money?”

“No, I could snap some up though.”

Sam pauses his step briefly and then continues to the vehicle. “Don’t do that. I don’t want to get arrested for counterfeit or something.”

“It wouldn’t be counterfeit, no one would ever know. But I won’t, I promise.” Gabriel slips his jacket off and tosses it in the back seat with Sam’s as they get in.

“So, home okay with you?”

Gabriel nods. “Sounds good to me.”

Their hands meet in the middle without anyone having to ask for it. The conversation is easy and comfortable, the laughs frequent and long. It seems like no time passes before they’re pulling into Sam’s garage and walking slowly to the back door.

Sam lets them in and they wander to the stairway. Sam starts climbing the stairs a little slowly, Gabriel following. Sam stops in front of Gabriel’s door, rubbing his hand through his hair as he looks at the man.

“I really wanna thank you for doing this today. I know to you it was just to help me get my confidence back and take the nerves off or whatever, but it was a real date to me. I was nervous this morning and you took that away and I just-” Sam shakes his head, he feels like a rambling idiot.

Gabriel takes a step closer, tilting his head back to look up at Sam. He takes another step, and Sam feels the closeness of the other man almost like a weight pushing on him. Is it pushing him closer or pushing him away? He’s not sure.

“Maybe we agreed to this to help get your confidence back, but this was a real date to me too, Sam. You’ve got nothing to be nervous about when you decide you want to get back out there. You’ll do fine.”

Sam looks at Gabriel’s mouth. He can’t help it. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

Gabriel’s hands are still in his pockets and Sam suddenly wishes that the other man would reach out and pull him closer. Sam’s mouth goes dry. Man I want to kiss him.

“So, is that it then?” Gabriel is staring at Sam’s mouth when he asks it.

“No, I don’t think it is,” Sam inches closer.

“What else is there?”

“I want to kiss you,” Sam leans down a fraction, “can I kiss you?”

“I think you better-”

Sam drops his mouth down on Gabriel’s, hot and hard. He feels Gabriel suck in a breath and realizes he didn’t wait for his full answer. Maybe he was saying no, maybe he was about to say you better not.

Sam's mouth is sweet and hot on Gabriel's. His tongue dips in, just a tease, and Gabriel chases it with his own.

Sam pulls back and Gabriel looks dazed. “Shit, I’m sorry. What were you gonna say?”

“I don’t-” Gabriel looks at Sam’s mouth again, “what were we talking about?”

“I asked if I could kiss you,”

“Yeah, you can fucking kiss me, why did you stop?”

And Sam seals their mouth together again, forcing Gabriel’s open. Their tongues touch and tease, teeth bumping with the neediness of it. Gabriel nibbles Sam’s bottom lip and Sam pulls back.

Shit,” Sam breathes heavily.

“Sorry, did you not like that?” Gabriel lightly brushes his thumb over Sam’s lip.

“No, I did. I like it a lot.”

Gabriel grabs the front of Sam’s shirt and pulls him down. “Mmmm,” he moans into Sam’s mouth.

Sam grabs Gabriel by the hips and turns him, leading him backwards until Gabriel’s back hits the wall outside Sam’s door. Sam can feel himself getting hard already. This is moving pretty fast all of a sudden and he has no inclination to slow it down. That weight he felt a minute ago, the one he wasn’t sure which way it was pushing, he knows now it was definitely pushing him toward Gabriel.

Maybe it’s presumptuous but Sam slides Gabriel down the wall and through the open door of his bedroom. Gabriel breaks his mouth away for a second, his hands stay tightly fisted in Sam’s shirt.

“Sam, are you sure? Is this too fast for you?” He moves toward Sam’s mouth as he talks, it’s obvious he’d rather be kissing, but he wants to clarify.

“I’m sure,” Sam kisses him quickly and then pulls back, “is it too fast for you?”

The side of Gabriel’s mouth turns up into the start of a smile. “No such thing,” and then he raises up to capture Sam’s mouth again. His fingers start in the buttons of Sam’s shirt, nimbly working them open all the way down until he untucks it from Sam’s pants and slides his palms over skin.

Sam can’t be that patient; he just doesn’t have it in him right now. The warmth of Gabriel's hands on his sides makes him frantic to undress him. He grabs the neck of Gabriel’s shirt and yanks it apart, buttons skittering across the floor. He backs him up to the bed, until Gabriel’s knees hit and Sam can push him down.

Sam lays over him, his long frame pressing Gabriel into the mattress. Gabriel can feel Sam getting hard against his thigh and he moves his leg, putting pressure on the erection.

Sam sucks in a breath at the sensation and moves between Gabriel’s legs. He pushes his hips in and smiles into the kiss when he hears Gabriel inhale. Sam starts to grind and thrust, their belts catching each other and making metal clink.

Oh, shit, the friction. Fuck, oh, shit, yesss… Gabriel pushes his hips up as much as he can to meet Sam. He can feel himself getting hard within seconds and Sam immediately notices. He adjusts his angle and then their cocks are sliding on each other with just the fabric between them.

Gabriel’s hands slide over the muscles of Sam’s sides and Sam grabs them one at a time, pinning them over Gabriel’s head.

Oh fuck the grinding, I’m gonna come in these pants, slow down, Sam, he tries to tell himself. He doesn’t slow down though. Instead he releases Gabriel’s hands and stands up, stripping his clothes off in seconds.

Gabriel stands and does the same, grinning like a cat as he looks at Sam’s body. He places his hands on Sam’s hip bones and pushes him down on the bed, making him lay back. Gabriel kisses over Sam’s ribs, down each muscle of his stomach, and then he takes a second to appreciate Sam’s cock.

“That’s a thing of beauty, Sam. That’s the most perfect cock I think I’ve ever seen,” his eyes flash up to Sam’s red face, “I can’t wait to taste it. I guess I do get to eat you for dinner.” And then he licks and kisses it from base to tip as Sam whines.

He slides his tongue over the head, around it, enjoying Sam twitching and moving and wanting more of his mouth. Gabriel slowly sucks the head of Sam’s cock, hearing Sam let out a breath he hadn’t known the man was holding. He pushes his mouth down, forcing Sam’s cock into the back of his throat and Sam moans loudly.

Gabriel would smile if his mouth wasn’t full. He slides his mouth up and then down again, quickly, and he sets a pace. Sam’s breathing gets faster and faster, his hands moving from Gabriel’s hair to his shoulders to the sheets, constantly looking for something to hold on to.

“Mmmm, fuck, no, wait, no- no, no, no,” Sam sits up and grabs Gabriel’s shoulders; he pulls him up onto his chest. “I don’t wanna come yet, I wanna come inside you.”

Gabriel grins as he kisses Sam. “What makes you think I’m a bottom?”

“Well, with an ass like that you should be,” Sam reaches down and squeezes two handfuls, “and besides, if you do it for me I’ll return the favor. With enthusiasm.”

“Oh, Samsquatch, how could I turn that down?”

Sam rolls, putting Gabriel under him. He reaches over to the bedside table to grab lube and a condom. He never emptied this drawer from when Brady left. He'd used the lube on himself, but he's grateful now that he never pitched the rubbers.

“We need to get you ready,” Sam slicks his fingers with lube and moves to Gabriel's side. He kisses him, and man, he really kisses back. Sam's cock is leaking everywhere and he doesn't care, he grinds it against Gabriel's hip as he wraps his hand around his cock.

“Who'd you say had a perfect cock?” Sam whispers into Gabriel's ear as he strokes him. “Yours is so thick, I love a fat cock.”

Gabriel's eyes are closed, his mouth open as he pushes into Sam's slick palm. He reaches down and wraps his own hand around Sam, the long cock dripping pre-come. He feels Sam's hand move down between his legs, a slick finger lightly teasing his hole. He bends his knees up to give Sam more access.

Sam twitches as Gabriel rolls his hand in the slickness, around the head of his throbbing dick.

“Ah, be easy on my cock- I don't wanna come in your hand.”

Sam slips a finger just in the rim and Gabriel rolls his head away, leaving his neck exposed. Sam kisses it, sucking and nipping from his ear down his collar bone. He pushes his finger in more, lightly teasing Gabriel's prostate.

“Oh fuck, you're gonna feel good. You're so tight,” Sam grabs Gabriel's chin and pulls his face toward him. He sees Gabriel's eyes flutter, pupils wide, and Sam kisses him like he needs it to live. He slips another finger in slowly, probably before Gabriel was ready, but he doesn't protest.

He works his fingers, opening Gabriel up, trying to be gentle and not rush. It's so hard though, Sam wants inside him desperately and seeing Gabriel writhe and push down on Sam's fingers isn't helping. He adds a third finger and Gabriel rolls his face into Sam's shoulder, biting down.

“Sam, please,” he moans, his words mumbled against Sam's skin.

Sam doesn't hesitate; he pulls his fingers out and grabs the condom, ripping it open.

Gabriel flips to his stomach as Sam rolls the rubber on. He gets on his knees behind him and pulls Gabriel's hips up higher, lining himself up. He slides his cock around the sensitive hole and smiles when Gabriel tries to push back onto it. He pushes the head in and it's so fucking tight, he's not sure he can fit. The inside of him is so hot Sam feels like it's burning him. He feels like he's stuffing himself in the hottest, tightest place on the planet. And damn it's good.

Gabriel's head drops down on the bed, his arms up, hands holding the edge of the mattress.

“Are you sure you're ready?”

Gabriel nods but he doesn't speak, he's not really sure he could form a sentence right now. He looks down his chest as Sam pushes past his prostate and watches a rush of pre-come drips to the bed. He moans. It aches, Sam's cock stretching him open. It stings and burns and it's so good, so fucking good.

Sam hits home, his cock buried deep in Gabriel. He stops, letting him adjust. Sam's hand slides around Gabriel's stomach and down toward his cock.

“I wouldn't do that,” Gabriel's groans, “you put your hand near that thing and it's gonna go off.”

Sam chuckles, his hand moving up to pinch Gabriel's nipple. He grins at the little gasp it causes. The words are still funny to Sam and he tries so hard not to laugh. He really does, but he can't help it. He's buried eight inches deep in a man for the first time in years and he's laughing about some stupid comment.

“Shit, don't make me laugh,” Sam tries to get himself under control, his squeezes Gabriel's hips.

“Come on, Sam, fuck me…” Gabriel moves forward about an inch and then pushes back.

The sensation is enough of a distraction to get Sam serious again. He drags his cock almost out and slowly back in.

Gabriel watches pre-come ooze onto the bed again, his cock heavy and throbbing. He's making a mess on the sheets and he couldn't possibly care less. He closes his eyes as Sam starts a slow rhythm. Gabriel tries to talk but every time the head of Sam's cock his hits prostate his almost loses it.

“Fuck- I knew you'd- fuck- feel good,” he bites the sheets for a second, taking a deep breath, “but fuck, Sam- fuckkk- your cock is- fuck, it's so good, oh fuuuuck…” Sam's thrusts push his head into the mattress.

“Yeah, you feel good too,” Sam's hands bite into Gabriel's hip bones, “ah shit, Gabe- I'm not gonna- oh fuck.” Sam tries to keep from coming, he slows down but Gabriel is so tight it doesn't help.

“I need to come, Sam, come on,” Gabriel reaches for his cock but Sam's hand is there first, wrapping it tight, “fuck me, please.” Sam speeds up again, his hand sliding along Gabriel's cock in the same rhythm and in less than a minute Gabriel is coming everywhere with a loud keening, “yes, yes, yes- hhnnnngggg.”

Sam feels Gabriel come, his muscles tightening all around Sam's cock and Sam buries himself in the tight heat.

“Ah, fuck, Gabe- so good- fuck- ah, ah, ah-” Sam comes hard, hips snapping, his throbbing cock empties into Gabriel as he fills him up. His upper thighs and balls tingle and his muscles clench. He's so sensitive he can barely move.

Gabriel collapses into the wet, sticky sheets. “Fuck, that was good.”

Sam pulls himself out and stands on shaking legs. “Yeah, I'd say so.” He puts his hand on the wall to steady himself and looks down at the full rubber.That thing's probably expired by now, I should have thought of that before. “You wanna shower?” Sam asks, looking at Gabriel practically passed out in his bed.

“No need,” Gabriel snaps his fingers and cleans himself up, as well as the bed sheets, and he gets rid of the condom too.

Sam's eyes shoot down in surprise and he takes a quick step back. “What the-” he stops short before he finishes that thought. Pain stings his left knee, not horrible but enough to make him suck air through his teeth. I shouldn't have run without warming up.

“No big deal, Sammo, no need to freak.” Gabriel's eyes are closed and he's sprawled across Sam's bed.

Sam gingerly puts weight on the knee again. There's a little catch but nothing bad. He steps toward the bathroom. “Yeah, how'd you do that?” Sam asks from the doorway.

“Part of what I am, although I don't know of any other angels that use their powers that way. I could heal that knee too.”

Sam turns to look back at the bed. Gabriel's eyes are still closed, how did he know?

“Well, it's a nice touch. I need to check those rubbers; I bet they're expired by now. I didn't even think of that before, not very responsible of me. I'm sorry.”

“Doesn't matter, you don't need them anyway. I can't catch anything; my grace would take care of anything foreign if it entered my vessel.” Gabriel stretches, opening his eyes to look Sam up and down.

“Okay,” Sam is feeling a little weird about the conversation and the disappearance of the condom. He needs a minute to recover. “Well I'm gonna shower really fast.”

Gabriel's senses Sam's unease; he shouldn't have snapped his fingers to take care of the mess. “So should I head back across the hall now?”

“What? Why? Do you want to go back across the hall?” Sam gingerly steps toward the bed but Gabriel holds his hand up to stop him.

“No, I don't. I can tell you're freaking a little though so I was checking. Go shower.”

Sam nods and turns away. He almost has the bathroom door shut when he pulls it back open and leans out. “Don't leave,” he says, and then he deliberately leaves the door open.

Gabriel can't help the little smile as he turns his face into the sheets.

Sam turns the water on hot and steps in, letting it wash over him. He doesn’t really feel like he needs a shower, he actually feels extremely clean since Gabriel snapped his fingers, but he still wants a few minutes to himself. He washes his hair and does a quick lather and then just stands under the water, thinking.

His knee is going to be stiff and painful tomorrow. He’s going to have to dig out his brace. He hasn’t worn the brace in close to a year, he’s been really careful about stretching and warming up to prevent this from happening.

The condom disappearing startled him, sure, but the pain in his knee startled him more. And when Gabriel had asked if he should go back to the guest bedroom Sam’s heart had sunk. He missed sleeping next to someone just as much as he’d missed sex, and subconsciously he must have been looking forward to it.

He turns off the shower and steps out into the cool air. He towels dry and takes a second to massage his knee a little bit. He hates when his knee acts up, it makes his hip and back start hurting because he tries to compensate. So he’s going to spend the rest of Gabriel’s time here gimping around. Great.

He brushes his teeth and wipes the fog off the mirror. There's a faint bloom of a bruise just starting to shade his shoulder in purple. It's where Gabriel bit him. This is the first time Sam can remember someone being so turned on in bed with him that they accidentally leave a mark. He has to admit, it's kind of hot. He hesitantly steps into the bedroom, wondering if Gabriel is still there. What he sees gives him a warm feeling in his chest.

Gabriel is still lying on his stomach, his face turned toward the bathroom. He’s softly snoring, and he’s still completely naked. He doesn’t look like he moved an inch since Sam went to shower.

Sam grabs some boxer briefs out of his dresser and slips them on before climbing on the bed. Gabriel doesn’t move. Sam pulls the sheets and blanket up over them both and then lays back, his hands behind his head.

Sam is suddenly sleepy. He’d been wide awake in the shower but his eyes are getting heavy now. He turns his head to look at Gabriel beside him. Sam moves closer and kisses the top of Gabriel’s head.

Gabriel stirs, he mumbles softly and pushes himself into Sam’s side.

Sam holds extremely still, not wanting to disturb him anymore. He slowly wraps his arm behind Gabriel and sighs when he hears him start to snore again. And in a few minutes Sam is sleeping himself.

Chapter Text

Day 5

Gabriel wakes with a faint touch of sunlight just entering the bedroom window. He looks around the room. He’s sprawled over Sam. Gabriel's arm is wrapped around Sam’s chest and his leg is thrown over Sam’s thighs. Sam has his arm behind Gabriel and is sleeping like a baby.

Gabriel fell asleep before he intended to. He meant to be awake and ready for round two when Sam came out from the shower, but he’d been suddenly tired and had thought he’d just close his eyes for a few minutes. He doesn’t remember Sam coming to bed.

Sam is so warm, and he smells good, like soap and… Well, like Sam. Gabriel presses himself a little tighter to Sam’s side. Sam is wearing underwear now. Gabriel runs his hand down Sam’s side and slips a pinkie under the waistband. Sam’s bladder is full. Gabriel moves his hand and eliminates that pesky business.

Sam moves his leg and grunts a little, he doesn’t fully wake up, but his eyes tighten a bit and Gabriel knows he’s in pain. He saw Sam turn wrong and suck in a painful breath last night, something is wrong with his knee.

Healing it will set his grace back a bit, but Gabriel doesn’t care. He’s feeling stronger every day, he can spare a little grace to fix Sam’s knee. He wants every inch of him in full working order. Gabriel has plans for some positions that will require Sam to be pretty flexible. And now that he’s thinking about it, he should probably check Sam over, just to be sure there’s nothing else that requires his attention.

Gabriel grins and slips below the blanket, careful not to wake Sam. He slides to the bottom of the bed and starts with Sam’s feet.

He gently kisses the arches, checking for anything that might cause Sam pain. He kisses around the heel and each and every toe, and then he moves up to Sam’s ankle.

This is about the time Sam starts to stir. He takes a big breath and stretches, his toes pointing in Gabriel’s hands.

Gabriel kisses Sam’s left ankle, and he heals a little stiffness there but nothing major. He moves to the right ankle but there’s nothing there.

Sam looks around the room and rubs his eyes. It takes a second to realize that Gabriel should be beside him, but instead he’s under the blanket kissing… Is he kissing my shin?

“Uh, what-” Sam feels a warmth in the front of his leg, right where his shin splints flare up from time to time. It’s soothing and he knows something is happening there, something that feels better. “What are you doing?”

“Relax, Moose. I need you limber, I’ve got plans for this magnificent body in the next few days. I’m fixing all these things you don’t take care of.”

“I take care of them, I try to anyway. Running is hard on your body but I like it so I try to be careful-” Gabriel moves to the other shin and the warmth floods in. It’s relaxing and nice. “That feels good, Gabe.”

Gabriel smiles, his lips pressed to the front of Sam’s leg. He’s had a million nicknames for Sam in the last few days, he likes it that Sam has come up with one for him.

He trails kisses up to Sam’s right knee. This isn’t the bad knee but it’s not good either. Gabriel kisses around the kneecap and pushes his grace into the joint, healing the ache there.

Sam relaxes more. He didn’t even notice that knee was hurting, probably because the other one is hurting so bad.

Gabriel moves to the other leg. This knee is a mess. The cartilage is wrecked and it’s full of inflammation. Gabriel slips his hand behind the joint and lightly touches his mouth along the kneecap as it heals and he knows the pain is easing he kisses a little firmer, his tongue lightly flicking the skin.

“Oh shit,” Sam bends his knee up, amazed by how easy it moves. “It feels like it did when I was a teenager. Thank you.”

Gabriel moves up Sam’s thigh. His hamstring isn’t quite right. He blinks and Sam's boxer briefs are gone. Gabriel slides his tongue up the firm muscles, his breath hot on Sam’s skin.

“Stretch it out, Sam, you promised me enthusiasm. I’m expecting acrobatics.”

Sam laughs. “Acrobatics? I don’t know about that, I’m athletic but I'm far from an acrobat.”

“Nonsense, where there's a will there's a way. What about a swing, you ever try a sex swing?”

Sam sighs as Gabriel kisses up his other hamstring. There’s no massage that’s ever come close to relaxing him half as much as this. He slips his fingers into Gabriel's hair.

“No, but if you’ve got one handy I’m game.”

“I can always snap one up, but right now I think your body is keeping me pretty busy.”

“Yeah, can’t say I’m complaining.” Sam feels like he’s sinking into the mattress, like he might relax so much he’ll just melt into the sheets he’s lying on.

Gabriel moves up to kiss Sam’s hip bone and around his side.

“So you can really heal people?” Sam glides his fingers through Gabriel's hair.

“Yes.”

“So can you cure cancer and stuff?”

Gabriel pauses kissing up Sam's ribs. “No, wish I could, Sammich. Those miracles are few and far between.”

“Miracles?”

“Forget it,” Gabriel pulls Sam's hand from his hair and kisses the inside of his wrist, “just know I can't cure cancer.” He kisses up his forearm and bicep and then trails his nose over the bruise on Sam's shoulder. “Sorry about that, I got a little carried away.”

Just as Gabriel is about to kiss and heal it Sam moves slightly. “It's okay, leave it,” he says softly.

Gabriel moves his mouth to Sam's ear, gently taking Sam's earlobe between his teeth. “You like me leaving a mark on you, Sam?” Gabriel whispers. “A reminder I was there?”

Sam nods almost imperceptibly. He's pretty sure that for the rest of his life when he thinks about those words he's going to feel his cock swell, just like it is now.

You like me leaving a mark on you, Sam? If that's not the hottest thing he's ever heard he doesn't know what is. A reminder I was there? He shivers.

Sam cranes his head back and to the side, opening his neck up for Gabriel.

“I like it too,” Gabriel whispers the words into Sam's skin.

Oh fuck me, that's hot, Sam thinks.

Gabriel nips and licks his way down Sam's throat, and then seals his mouth to Sam's collarbone sucking a bruise there.

Sam's hand slides up Gabriel's thigh and grabs his ass tightly. He looks at Gabriel and meets his eyes. For a second Sam would almost swear they were glowing a strange golden amber, but then it's gone.

That's a little bit scary, and somehow that turns me on even more.

“Easy there, I'm not done checking you over yet.” Gabriel moves out of the way. “Now flip.”

“Why?” Sam asks as he rolls to his stomach.

“I felt some tension in your neck, I wanna work that out.” Gabriel straddles Sam's back and places a palm on the back of his head, sliding it down the start of his spine.

“That's just from stress, any time I get stressed my neck and shoulder get tight.” Gabriel's thumb presses warmth into Sam's vertebrae. “Oh, man, that feels good. I don't think I've ever been this relaxed in my life.”

“That's what I want,” Gabriel kisses Sam's rhomboid muscle. “You're too tight right here.”

Gabriel's hands on his skin feel like they're covered in energy. “I feel like I'm melting.” Except for my dick. My dick is really hard and I'm lying on it. He can feel Gabriel's heavy cock resting on his lower back.

“Oh I'll make you melt alright…” Gabriel starts a trail down Sam's spine.

“Can you do this once a week?”

“I'll do this every day if that's what you want. I'd love every minute of it.”

“Me too.”

Gabriel's kissing across Sam's lower back, paying specific attention to those dimples above his ass. He moves lower, his mouth getting closer and closer as his hands spread Sam apart.

Is he really going to-

Sam feels a tongue touch the tight ring of muscle.

Oh fuck- yep, he is. This is usually something reserved for someone you know really well, in a very intimate way. Not someone you've known a few days, that's Sam's experience anyway.

“Gabe, are you sure you wanna-”

The flat of his tongue slides up and over Sam's hole. “Hmmm?” Gabriel hums.

Sam fists his hands in the sheets, the question he asked totally forgotten. He cannot help the movement of his hips as he thrusts a little, looking for friction on his cock. A finger slips inside, just the tip, and then the tongue follows it and Sam's breath is forced out.

Oh shit, Sam can't breathe for a second, it's like his body forgets how. And then he takes a deep breath and pushes his ass back wanting Gabriel to go deeper.

Gabriel uses his fingers and tongue, and just a touch of his grace as he slowly works Sam open. He needs to stop using his grace, he can feel it draining, but Sam is like putty in his hands and Gabriel can't help himself. He wants to keep Sam just like this for as long as possible.

Sam slips a hand down his abdomen and grips his leaking cock. “I need to come, I need it really bad.”

Gabriel raises his face up. “Go ahead if you need to, but if you wait I'll make it worth your while.”

“Will you fuck me now?”

Gabriel is kissing up Sam's back again, around his sensitive sides. “You think you're ready?”

“Yeah, please…”

Sam is restless beneath him, so turned on he's getting worked up. “How can I say no to that?’ Gabriel mumbles into Sam's hair.

“I wanna turn over.”

Gabriel moves to Sam's side so he can flip, and then slides between Sam's legs. He looks between them as he slides their cocks together, and he smiles when Sam's hands clutch his sides tightly.

“Look at that, Sam,” Gabriel groans as he grinds into him.

Sam looks between them and reaches down, wrapping his big hand around both their cocks. He looks back up at Gabriel with eyes half closed, and when he feels him rut into his hand he swears he sees that flash of light in those eyes again.

Sam is close to coming, Gabriel can tell from his breathing and from the expression on his beautiful face. He reaches down and pulls Sam's hand away. “Not yet.”

Sam spreads his legs apart; his knees bent up and open. Gabriel sits back on his knees and pulls Sam up onto his thighs a little. He reaches to the table for a condom.

“Don't bother,” Sam says.

“No, I will-”

“I believe you; if you can heal me I know I'm not gonna catch anything.”

Gabriel rubs his hand over his cock creating some lube, and then he rubs the tip over Sam's ass making him moan softly. He slips the head just inside the ring of muscle and watches Sam's brows draw together.

“Relax for me, Sam,” he rubs his hands over Sam's inner thighs, massaging.

“I am, you're so fucking thick,” Sam strokes his cock lazily, “feels so good.”

Gabriel rocks his hips just barely and Sam raises his arms above his head. He starts a shallow rhythm, gliding over Sam's prostate and listening to him breathe.

“Hhh, hhhh, hhh, unhhhh,” Sam's body is rocking with the motion, his cock sliding back and forth across his stomach, leaking strings of pre-come.

Gabriel wants to taste it. He wants it in his mouth. Sam's dick is so long that Gabriel might be able to bend down enough and still stay inside Sam. He pulls it up and doubles himself over and sucks the head as far into his mouth as he can.

Sam bucks his hips violently. “Oh shit- how- fuckkk-” Gabriel's cock rubs his prostate and Sam has never felt so much stimulation in his life. “How the fuck can you do that- I'm gonna come, Gabe. I'm com- uunhhhhgggg-”

Sam was already tight, but as he comes he clenches around Gabriel so hard. Gabriel squeezes his eyes shut and tries to concentrate on catching all of Sam's come in his mouth. He swallows what he can but he's not at the right angle and some of it drips down to Sam's stomach.

He lets Sam's orgasm ride out, listening to him gasp and moan and pull at the sheets and Gabriel's hair. Finally Gabriel pulls his mouth off. “I need to go deeper, are you okay?”

Sam raises his head, watching Gabriel raise up on his knees. He's waiting for Sam to say yes.
I just had an orgasm that fried my brain and I'm so sensitive I feel like my nerves are on fire, but you can fuck me as deep and hard as you want forever and ever because I'm pretty sure I just became a total cock slut for you. Sam doesn't say any of that out loud.

He looks at Gabriel's eyes, his pupils wide with lust. The sun is coming through a crack in the curtain and cutting a line down from Gabriel's chin to his belly. He licks his lips, still waiting. He eyes look almost champagne colored in the strange light. Sam nods. “Yeah,” is all he can think to say.

Gabriel looks down, watching himself slide in and out of Sam, deeper and deeper, resisting the urge to slam into him and just fucking come already. He wants that but he wants to enjoy this more, a little longer. He goes slowly at first but he can't help but speed up. Skin is slapping and Sam is breathing hard and grunting, his arms above his head pushing himself down so he doesn't hit his head on the headboard.

Sam bites his lip and lays his head back again and just loses himself to being fucked, hard and hot and deep. Fuck if it doesn't feel good. Gabriel's hands are tightening on his thighs and Sam looks at him again. His head is tipped back toward the ceiling and his eyes are closed and Sam knows he's close, he's right there.

“You gonna come? You gonna come for me, Gabe?”

“Sam,” it's barely a whisper, not even really heard, more just seen in the movement of his mouth. He drops his head to meet Sam's eyes.

Gabriel's eyes are glazed and hooded and now they're a dark amber color again.

“Come in me, come on,” Sam moves his hands from the headboard and puts them over Gabriel's on his thighs. Gabriel's fingers clutch his as he slams into him. “Fuck yeah, fuck me- oh, come on…”

Gabriel drops down on his hands and grinds, his cock sliding into Sam with the smooth rolling motions of his hips. He can feel the wet sticky mess of Sam's come between them and something about that pushes him over the limit. He almost growls as the orgasm rips across his belly and between his legs. He groans and strains and hisses from the sensation. One hand slides under Sam's back to ground himself, his head dropping to Sam's shoulder as his cock twitches.

“Holy fucking hell that was good,” Gabriel pants.

Sam shakes with a little laugh. “Can't argue with that.”

Gabriel is almost trembling he's so exhausted, the feeling slams over him once the high of the sex wears away. He gently pulls out of Sam and very awkwardly flops to his back beside him.

“Oh, man, I'm a mess,” Sam says looking down at himself.

“Normally I'd lick that up, next time I will, but I'm too tired right now.” Gabriel snaps his fingers and the mess is gone. He closes his eyes, he shouldn't have done that. Healing Sam used way too much of his grace and that move just about wiped him out. “I'm tired.”

Sam inspects himself, raising up and wiping his palm where the come was. He even feels clean on the inside, the lube is gone and there's a little ache but not what he should be feeling. He pulls the blankets up over them and tugs Gabriel to his side. The angel does little to help the movement but he finally turns his naked body toward Sam and rests his head on Sam's shoulder.

“Feel like I'm drunk on you,” Gabriel mutters.

Sam knows what he means. The smell of Gabriel, the feel of so much skin, the sound of his breathing. It's all intoxicating. He tightens his arm. “Go to sleep,” but he's pretty sure he already is.

Sam's sleepy too, he sighs and closes his eyes. He wonders what time it is, he has nothing to do on this Sunday but the sun is up and he just feels like he has to check the time. He grabs his phone.

It's 7:24 am. Normally he'd be up by 8:00 on a Sunday but he knows if he goes back to sleep he's going to be out for hours. Should he get up? He doesn't want to. Even if he doesn't sleep he's content where he is. He wishes he had his camera, he'd like to take a picture of Gabe sleeping, but his camera is downstairs.

He has his phone though. He went to a multi-artist exhibition recently that was all photos taken with cell phones. He'd been impressed, some of them were excellent. Which just goes to prove that it doesn't matter how much you spend on equipment, talent can't be bought.

He brings up the camera on his phone and switches it to front facing. He doesn't particularly want himself in the photo. He centers Gabe's face and takes several shots from different angles. He looks so peaceful and small beside Sam's chest. He takes a picture of his hand on Gabe's side and then makes it black and white. He likes that one. Then he moves back up to his face and Sam turns his head toward Gabe.

Sam's closes his eyes and blindly snaps some pictures. He kind of feels bad suddenly. Maybe he shouldn't be doing this. Taking pictures of a naked man when he hasn't asked if it's okay. That's kinda creepy really. Even if Gabe did porn it doesn't mean he'd consent to this, it doesn't mean Sam should expect consent to this.

Sam puts his phone down and settles in, his eyes growing heavy. He'll ask Gabe later if this was okay, if he says no he'll delete them. Sleep fuzzes his thoughts and soon he's sleeping just as soundly as Gabe.

He wakes what feels like minutes later to someone ringing his doorbell. He looks down at Gabe; he doesn't even flinch at the sound. It rings again. Who would be ringing his doorbell on a Sunday morning?

Sam eases out of bed, throws on a robe and heads downstairs. He opens the door to a courier standing there. Same company as the last two times, but a different guy.

“Can I help you?”

“Yeah, I'm supposed to collect a sample from someone named-” he peers down at a paper in his hand, “Gabriel? No last name listed.”

“He's asleep.” This is irritating to Sam. Gabriel didn't agree to this, it's presumptuous to send a courier when no one has approved it.

“Can you wake him?”

Sam doesn't want to be short with the guy; he's just doing his job. Technically this isn't his fault but it's rubbing Sam wrong.

“No, he didn't agree to this sample. I'm not going to wake him.” Sam isn't rude but his answer is final.

The guy looks around. “Okay, well when he wakes up will you ask him?” He hands Sam a card. “I'll let the lab know it's on hold for now.”

“I'll let you know.” Sam closes the door. He doesn't care if it's rude, he's getting even angrier over this the more he thinks about it. Is this Professor Nick’s doing?

He heads to the laptop and immediately checks his email. There's a pop up in the corner with two missed Skype calls, both from Nick Engel. He has nine new emails from him, all addressed to Gabriel, all full of questions. The last three are more and more frantically worded, all asking or almost begging for another sample.

A Skype pops up from Nick. Sam considers ignoring it for a second but decides to open it.

“Sam! Oh good!” The relief on Nick's face is obvious. “I've been trying to reach either one of you since yesterday evening, we need another sample.”

“Yeah I know, I just sent the courier back empty handed.”

“What? Why? Did Gabriel refuse? Did he leave?”

“No,” this question is strange to Sam for some reason, “he's asleep.”

“Shew,” Nick smiles and it seems a bit wolffish, “scared me for a second there.”

“Why?”

“Oh nothing, I'm just hoping we can get the next sample ASAP.”

Something in the way he says this makes Sam think they'll be asking for another. And another. He doesn't know why he feels that way but it bothers him.

“Why do you need another sample?”

“There was more of the substance present in the second sample but we still couldn't maintain its stability in the lab. We'd like another to try and see if we can keep it viable.

This substance he's talking about, Sam remembers Gabe calling it his grace.

“Viable, do you mean it's alive?”

“Well yes, just as alive as he is or we are. Kind of like a sample of your blood is only good for so long outside your body, you understand? If you don't have a properly sterilized tube with the appropriate serum or anticoagulant inside, the sample is trash within minutes, it's the same with-” the professor shrugs, “well, we don't know what this is. It's like nothing discovered on Earth before. It seems to have strange abilities but the sample fades so quickly it can't be properly tested.”

“Abilities?”

“Yes, this most recent sample healed a deep cut on one of the researcher's finger. She put her hand near the tube and says she felt something warm. She had been careless with a scalpel when slicing samples for another experiment, when she removed her glove the gash had disappeared. No trace left.”

“Yeah, he healed my knee after I ran yesterday…” Sam stares off a bit, thinking. Something in his gut is telling him this might not be a good thing, them discovering Gabe’s abilities.

“Do you know what that means, Sam? He might hold the cure to cancer inside him! Or MS, or AIDS, or any other horrible plague on humanity. Can you imagine?”

“No, he doesn’t. I asked him. He can’t cure cancer.”

“Are you sure he’s telling the truth?”

Anger bubbles in Sam, he has to check himself before he answers. Be calm, don’t be defensive. Think. "Why would he lie? Everything he’s said has been truthful up to this point.”

The professor fidgets a bit. “Right. Of course you’re right. When is he getting up? I’d like to send the courier back as soon as possible.”

“I don’t know, I don’t plan on waking him. When he wakes up, if he wants to have another sample taken I’ll call the guy. He gave me his card.”

The professor’s brow furrows and he crosses his arms. “Why wouldn’t he give us another sample?”

“Maybe he will, I said I’ll ask him.”

“This next sample will be blood. We’re hoping to collect a stronger sample through blood. The courier is a certified phlebotomist, let him know that please.”

“Yeah, I will. Thanks.”

Sam moves to disconnect but the professor leans in toward the camera.

“Sam, wait! I want to ask you a couple questions; it’ll only take a few minutes.”

Sam nods but his hesitation is apparent.

“Have you noticed anything strange in his behavior?”

“I don’t think so. He seems normal.”

“Ok, what about physically? Have you been able to observe any of his anatomy?”

This is outside Sam’s comfort zone. He doesn’t want to lie but he’s not going to admit where this relationship has gone either. “No I haven’t.” It’s true. He didn’t observe any physical abnormalities, so what if the way he answered made it sound like he hasn’t observed Gabe naked? The answer could be taken either way.

“I know you said he healed your knee, has he told you anything else he can do?”

Sam checks off a mental list. He doesn’t eat, he normally doesn’t sleep unless he’s recharging, he can heal injuries, he’s older than recorded history, he can fly, and that’s just what Sam can remember off the top of his head. He’s not telling the professor any of that. It feels incriminating. He trusts his gut.

“Not that I can think of.” Lie.

The professor appears deep in thought for a second, his index finger tapping on his mouth. “If you think of anything, even if it seems insignificant, will you call me?”

“Sure.” No I won’t.

“You have my number?”

“I do.”

“If he refuses the test will you have him contact me?”

“I’ll leave that up to him.”

“One more question…”

Sam waits.

“Why would you ask him if he can cure cancer?”

Sam clears his throat. He's not sure what question he was expecting but this wasn't it. “Because my mother and grandmother both died of breast cancer. I have two nieces that my brother could have passed that gene on to. It was the first question that came to mind when he healed my knee.”

“I’m sorry, Sam, I really am. How sad.” The professor’s face echoes his sadness for a second, and then it’s gone. “What did it feel like when he healed you?”

“Uh, well…” Sam thinks on this for a second. “Warm? That’s it I guess.”

“Could you see anything happening? The researcher said she saw a faint glowing, did you see that as well?”

Add another weird thing to my secret list, sometimes I think his eyes glow. “No, I didn’t notice anything like that.” He was buried under the blankets though, so maybe I missed it.

“Thank you for answering my questions truthfully.” The emphasis on that last word is a bit unsettling.

“You’re welcome professor, is that all?”

“For now. Have a good day, Sam.”

“You too, Nick.” Sam disconnects. He’s sweating a bit. He hadn’t noticed that until now. He rubs his forearm over his brow. Why is he nervous?

He stands up and throws off the robe. He needs to cool off, think about something else. He's naked but it doesn't matter. Not like anyone will see him, all the windows have curtains.

Dinner. What can he make for dinner that night? He opens the fridge and grabs some vegetables and the stew meat he bought a few days ago. He busies himself for a while chopping vegetables and adding spices to a big kettle. He turns it on low to cook all afternoon.

He eats something, suddenly starving after the first bite of oatmeal. He makes a second portion and eats some toast too. Now what?

He goes to his office and pulls out his camera. He hasn't had it out in almost a year. It doesn't seem possible. The battery is dead and he plugs it into the charger.

He putters around in his office for over an hour, getting some paperwork in order for an upcoming case. He finally wanders out to the kitchen to stir the stew and check his laptop.

Another email from the professor. He doesn't even open it, but something about there being another email really pisses him off. His reaction is silly and he doesn’t even understand it. Why should the emails bother him? Why does it nag at him that the professor wants another sample? These are things for Gabriel to decide if they’re out of line or not. Sam doesn’t have a say in that.

He’s mulling this over as he stirs the stew, trying to talk himself through what he’s thinking and feeling.

“Well, I feel overdressed.”

The voice makes Sam jump, jarring him out of this thoughts.

“I had no idea you liked to hang out nude. If I’d known that we’d have started the first day.”

Sam turns. There’s no hiding the blush pushing up his chest and neck. He looks Gabriel over. His hair is sticking up in every direction and he seems to be trying to tame it by shoving his fingers through it. It’s not helping. He’s not wearing a shirt or pants, but he’s got on a pair of tight fitting boxer briefs that are doing a good job of showing off his thighs.

Wait a second… “Are those my underwear?”

Gabriel looks down his torso and rubs a hand on the back of his hair. “Yeah, um, I hope it’s ok. I didn’t realize we were going naked and I didn’t want to use my grace and snap up clothes. Let me get rid of these-”

Gabriel shoves them down and steps out of them before Sam can stop him. He tosses them on the couch with the robe.

Sam turns back to the stove, his face burning. He wishes for the millionth time in his life that he didn’t blush so easily. It’s stupid to blush seeing a naked man that he’s already slept with, but he can’t control it. He clears his throat and watches the stew as he stirs it.

“I don’t usually go naked. I threw my robe on when the doorbell rang and then I got hot. I didn’t want to wake you up so I’ve just been killing time down here. You feel better? You still look tired.” Sam turns back to look at Gabriel again. He’s got circles under his eyes and he’s yawning, his arms raised over his head.

“Yeah, still tired though.” Gabriel sits at the counter and pulls the laptop over.

Sam swears he can see something in Gabriel’s expression fall a little when he sees the emails from the professor. Almost like he looks even more tired somehow.

Gabriel shuts the computer. “Who was at the door?”

“A courier. They want another sample from you. The professor said this one will be blood, he wants you to know that the guy is a phlebotomist.”

“A what?”

“He knows how to draw blood, basically. I have the guy's card; I can call him to come back if you want.”

Gabriel sighs.

“You know you don’t have to give these samples, right? You don’t owe them anything.”

“I know. It’s starting to feel a little weird.” Gabriel looks down at his hands, his fingers fidgeting a bit.

“I agree,” Sam swears he sees a little relief when Gabriel looks up at him, “I Skyped with the professor after the courier left. He was pushy and something about it left me with a bad feeling. I don’t even know why.”

“Trust your gut.”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’m overreacting. But they found out you can heal things; your grace healed a cut on a researcher's hand. He was really excited and said you might be able to cure cancer, the whole conversation just left a nasty taste in my mouth.” Sam shakes his head and leans over the counter, he can’t even explain it.

Gabriel’s eyes go wide. “I didn’t know my grace could do that away from me. I didn’t know there would be enough to do that in a swab from my vessel.”

“They want more because they’re trying to create an environment to keep it viable. They don’t want the samples to keep fading. Basically they don’t want to have to keep getting samples from you, they want to be able to keep your grace alive, and then I imagine the goal will be to create more.”

“No.” Gabriel squeezes his eyes shut. “That’s a bad idea. I don’t know what they could do with it, actually I know they could do a lot with it and I’m not enabling that. No, no more.” He looks at Sam sternly.

“I was hoping you’d say that. The professor asked for you to contact him either way with your decision.”

“Right now?” Gabriel’s voice sounds a little whiny.

“Nope, not if you don’t want to. What do you wanna do?”

A glint hits Gabriel’s eye and he raises an eyebrow as he looks at Sam. “I can think of a few things,” he winks dramatically.

Sam snorts and hangs his head down. “I thought you were tired?”

“I think sex helps rebuild my grace, gets me back to normal faster.”

“Really?” Sam’s face is full of genuine curiosity.

“No, that was a lie. I just wanted an excuse to get you back in the bedroom.”

Sam's dimples dot his cheeks and a toothy grin spreads across his face. “If you’re serious then you don’t have to ask me twice.”

“I’m very serious. Lead the way, I wanna watch that perky ass climbing the stairs. And I think I saw something in your drawer I want to try.”

Sam knows what Gabriel saw and he tries his damndest not to blush, but he walks ahead and doesn’t look back just in case.

“Did you know your ass blushes?”

And now Sam is seriously blushing. And laughing. Really hard. He bounds up the stairs, leaving Gabriel in the dust.

“Hey! No fair! I’m not at a hundred percent, I can’t keep up.” Gabriel climbs the stairs infuriatingly slow, acting like an old man.

Sam waits at the top impatiently and when Gabriel finally reaches the top he scoops him up and carries him to the bedroom bridal style.

“You carrying me across the threshold?”

Sam grins and tosses him on the bed. He reaches into the bedside table, tossing Gabriel what he was asking about.

“What is this?” Gabriel looks it over. It’s obvious from its shape what it’s for, but he’s never seen one.

“It’s a Fleshlight.”

“That’s what I figured. I’ve heard of them but I haven’t seen one. No offense, Sam, but isn’t this supposed to simulate a woman?”

Sam flops down on the bed and shrugs. “I guess so. Doesn’t matter to me, it feels good, that’s all I care about.”

Gabriel sticks his finger in the fake lips. “Have you ever been with a woman?”

“Once, in high school.”

“How’d that go?” Gabriel looks up and realizes this might be a really personal question, not everyone talks about sex as blasé as himself. “You don’t have to answer that, sorry.”

“No, it’s ok. It didn’t go well. It’s not a fond memory. I didn’t want to do it, it was kind of a favor thing and it was a bad idea.”

“Did I kill the mood asking that? I did, didn’t I…”

“No, it’s just a long story.”

“I’ve got time, if you want to tell it. If not we can skip to the sex.”

Sam chuckles a little. “You really wanna know?”

“Yeah, sure.” Gabriel lays the Fleshlight on the bed and focuses on Sam. He wants to know everything he can about Sam, everything that's happened in his life.

“Okay. So-” Sam lies on his back and looks at the ceiling. “So, Charlie was a year below me in school and she was really good friends with this girl Becky. When I’d spend the night at Charlie’s most of the time Becky was there too-”

“Wait, you spent the night with Charlie?”

“Well, yeah. She’s Bobby’s daughter. I told you we stayed with him a lot, remember?”

Gabriel raises his eyebrows as he fits the pieces together. No wonder Sam and Charlie seem like brother and sister, they practically are. He nods for Sam to go on.

“So anyway, Becky was there a lot too. And the older we got I kinda knew that she had a little crush on me, ya know? She asked to practice kissing with me more than once when I was 15 and she was 14, that kinda stuff.”

Gabriel grins, he doesn’t know this Becky but he can just imagine. He can’t fault her for trying anyway.

“So fast forward a couple years. She had been asking me to be her first for months and I kept saying no way. It needs to be special, you’ll regret doing it with me, you’ll meet the perfect guy and you’ll wish you’d waited for him, it's such a cliché having sex with your gay friend, I kept telling her all that. But she just wouldn’t quit. Come on, Sam, you said your first time was awkward and it hurt and you just wanted to get it out of the way. That’s what I want too! Please?

“It was that stuff all the time, practically every day at school. She’d write me notes, she’d corner me at Bobby’s, walking home, and it was just constant. And Charlie kept telling her to shut up but one day even she finally said, just fucking do it so she’ll shut up!”

Sam sits up and turns, sitting crossed legged facing Gabriel as he goes on.

“So I finally say ok, I’ll do this as her friend, and I knew it was a bad idea. But that Friday night she sneaks into me and Dean’s room at Bobby’s. Dean was out with his girlfriend. So she climbs in my bed and we kiss and mess around. I had no idea what I was doing with a girl. I’d messed around with guys in the back seat of cars and it was always awkward and uncomfortable like it is for teenagers, but this was just…” Sam shakes his head and pauses for a second before going on.

“I tried, but she was under me and she was so soft and curvy and I kept looking down and wanting to see muscles and angles and just- a guy. And she kept touching me, my arms and my chest and my stomach. I was a scrawny kid, I hated how skinny I was, I didn’t want her touching me- it - it just wasn’t working.” Sam closes his eyes, remembering.

“And I’m not sure but I don’t think it was her first time. She was seriously into it, there was no hesitation, no pain, no sense that she didn’t know exactly what she was doing. And she was moaning and she told me she loved me and she’d wanted it for so long and I just wanted away from her. I wanted to run. So I faked an orgasm and tried to get out of bed but she wanted to practice some more. It was fucking horrible. I told her I was tired and she wouldn’t get out of my bed, so I went to Charlie’s room and locked the door and slept with her.”

Gabriel sits up, seriously wishing he hadn’t asked Sam to relive this experience.

“The next day I told Charlie what happened and her face looked about like yours does now. She tried to talk to Becky and apparently she said something to the effect of, she knew I loved her too I just hadn’t realized it yet and that Charlie was just jealous. Something insane like that. Charlie kicked her out of my bed and out of the house and told her not to come back. She was so mad, but I think she was mostly mad at herself for telling me to go through with it.”

“She tried to keep Becky away from me but Becky was persistent. She wouldn’t leave me alone. Charlie tried to run interception, she stayed with me as much as possible and intervened when she could but Becky followed me everywhere. She’d show up at Ellen’s when I’d bus tables and Ellen would make her leave. Dean’s girlfriend at the time, Ronda, she was kinda rough. When she heard what happened and what Becky was doing she cornered Becky and threatened to beat her to a pulp, but nothing fazed her.”

“She left me gifts and wrote me letters, and I mean like five page long letters multiple times a day, about how it was the most meaningful thing that had ever happened in her life. How she was in love with me and if I’d just give her a chance she knew I loved her too. I started to see her everywhere, all the time. I’d look in my rearview mirror and she’d be behind me. I’d look out the window where ever I was and she’d be sitting in her car, watching me. It creeped me out. I kept the curtains closed all the time and I hated going anywhere alone.”

Sam takes a deep breath. “She never did anything though. She tried to talk to me and she put notes in my locker and my car, but she never tried to hurt me or anything. Except one time I think she flattened my tire. She pulled up and offered me a ride but Dean roared up and threw gravel all over her car and Ronda jumped out. They just happened to be driving by. Becky hauled ass outta there.”

“And before you ask, no I didn’t go to the police. Maybe I should have but I was embarrassed. I should have never had sex with her. I didn’t care for her that way, so it was partly my fault.”

Sam rubs his hand up the back of his head, thinking. “Probably why I don’t like sex with people I’m not involved with to this day. Anyway, Dean, Charlie, Ellen, even Bobby tried to get me to talk to the police, but I wouldn’t. I didn’t want to get her in trouble.”

“And I finally graduated and got the fuck out of Lawrence as fast as possible. I went to Stanford and met Brady and by the end of my first year we were hot and heavy. I forgot all about Becky, I hadn't even thought about her until she showed up on campus my sophomore year. Brady thought it was funny. He laughed when I’d hide from her; he invited her to parties with us. Man, that pissed me off. I tried to tell him she wasn’t stable but he didn’t get it. Charlie went to Stanford too and she tried to tell him but it was like he thought it was a joke.”

“Finally one night we came home from a party and he was drunk. We both knew she was in the hallway outside my room. He intentionally left the door cracked so she could see us on the bed. And he fucked me with everything in him, he rode me hard, he really gave her a show. It was wrong, it was cruel and I knew it was but I was so tangled up in Brady and he was taking me all the way in-” Sam shakes his head, “he never did that, he said it hurt. But not that night. And he kept asking me stuff, who feels better, Sam? Does my ass feel better than her pussy? You like my ass? You like cock? You do, you’re a cock slut, Sam. I’m gonna fuck you, you want me to fuck you after you come? It went on and on.”

Sam blows out a breath and studies the ceiling. “She left campus the next day. She came home and then went to a school on the east coast. I haven’t seen her since then. Don’t get me wrong, I never want to see her again, but I hope she’s okay. I hope what she saw, what she heard that night didn’t mess the poor girl up even more. Whatever was happening in her head wasn’t her fault. She needed help; I was just too young and stupid to know that. There were a million warning signs, I just didn’t see them.”

Gabriel sits quietly trying to think of something appropriate to say. There isn't anything, there's nothing you can say to a story like that, that can encompass what you're feeling. It's just sad and uncomfortable and unfortunate and no one's fault, and he hates that Sam had to go through it and he hates that the poor girl lived it and… Yeah.

“I'm sorry,” he finally says. The words feel too small for the moment.

“Me too. Kinda why it creeped me out that you stood across the street. And why Dean got so paranoid when I told him about you.”

“Yeah, that's understandable.”

Sam lays down on his back again, staring at the ceiling. After a couple minutes Gabriel lays back and stares at the ceiling too. They're quiet, listening to each other breathe.

“Killed the moment for you, didn't I.” Sam states it as a fact, not a question.

“No, I think I did that when I asked you to tell the story.”

Sam rolls his head to the side, looking at Gabe's profile. “It didn't kill it for me. Does that make me an asshole?”

Gabriel laughs, he can't help it. He looks at Sam with smiling eyes. “Nah, you're not an asshole. I don't think you ever could be. You didn't do anything wrong back then, Sam. You were young, it was a mistake, and you didn't mean to hurt her. You're right; something must have been off with her.”

“Yeah I've thought about it a lot over the years, I think I'm desensitized to it now.”

“Time heals all things, or so they say.”

“I don't know about that, but it gave me perspective in this instance.”

“Makes sense.” Gabriel rolls toward Sam, resting his head in his palm. “That mood is coming back.”

Sam's eyebrows raise. “Oh really?”

“Mm hmm.”

Sam rolls to his side and grabs the Fleshlight, holding it up. He's swelling already, just the idea of sex with Gabe making his cock hard. “You wanna use this?”

“No. I wanna watch you use it.” Gabe wiggles his eyebrows.

“Oh,” Sam hadn't thought of this. He looks away.

“You don't have to, if you're not comfortable-”

“No,” Sam cuts in, “it's not that.” I hate that I blush all the time. He clears his throat. “I- I can do that.”

Gabe sits up and grabs the lube from the drawer and hands it to Sam, smiling. He leans down, his hand gently cupping Sam's cheek as he studies him. “You may be the only human I've ever met who's as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside.”

Sam is a little dumbfounded by the words; it's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to him. He doesn't have time to process it though because Gabe is suddenly kissing him with everything he's got, and he can feel the heat of a growing erection pressing into his thigh. And with that, any bad memories are shoved away and gone.

“I don't wanna fuck this thing,” Sam mutters between kisses as they start slowly grinding against one another, “I wanna fuck you.”

Gabriel knows if he doesn't back off he won't get the show he's looking for. He nips at Sam's ear. “Don't worry, you will.” He pulls away to sit up, his back resting on the headboard.

Sam fills his palm with lube and slicks his cock. It's glistening and beautiful and Gabriel wants to wrap his hand around it- but he waits. He wants to watch this more. He palms himself; his own dick is heavy and aching hard.

“How often do you use this thing?” He asks as he watches Sam shove the device slowly down his length. Sam's eyes close halfway and he bites his lip. Gabriel wants to ravage him.

Sam's voice is lower when he answers. He closes his eyes, slowly sliding the thing up and down. “Maybe once a week? My hand is easier but this thing feels better.” Sam purposely opens his eyes to look at Gabriel, his pupils blown. “Not as good as you though.”

Oh shit, Gabriel. You're so screwed, he's got you wrapped around his finger, Gabriel thinks to himself.

Gabriel lubes his palm and a finger, wraps his hand around his cock and spreads his legs open so Sam can watch him slip a finger into himself.

“Fuck,” Sam bites the word out as he watches Gabe slip a second finger in, working himself open. He can tell when Gabriel hits his prostate because his eyes tense, tiny lines showing at the corners. Sam wants to kiss those lines, gentle and slow, and he wants to fuck him fast and hard at the same time.

Gabe's hand is moving slowly up and down his thick shaft and Sam realizes he hasn't had that cock in his mouth yet. He wants to now; he wants to feel it stretching his mouth wide. He wants to taste his pre-come and swallow every drop of his load, but he'll wait. He'll give Gabriel his show right now, and next time he'll suck his cock until Gabe begs him to come.

Sam speeds up a little. He wants to close his eyes but he doesn't want to miss a second of watching Gabe. He sees him slip in a third finger, his fist tight around his cock.

Sam's plants his feet and raises his hips off the mattress. His stomach muscles are standing out, tense and toned as he fucks the device.

“How many abs do you have, Sam, twenty?”

Sam chuckles a little, his head falling back. “Quit, don't make me laugh right now.”

“I didn't mean to, it's a legitimate question. I want to bite ‘em all.”

“No,” Sam raises his head again, “I'm going to fuck you and you're going to fuck this.” He pulls the Fleshlight off with a squishy suction sound and hands it to Gabe. “Try it.”

Sam kisses him hot and hard as he pushes it down his cock, it takes more force than he imagined it would. “Damn, that's tight,” he hisses as Sam kisses his neck.

“You're thicker than me, that's probably why. You can adjust it, just twist that bottom thing.”

“Right, like your dick is small or something,” he twists the end and it gets easier to move.

“You’re supposed to heat it up in hot water, it makes it feel better but it takes like ten minutes,” Sam whispers in his ear, “turn over.”

Gabe shifts to his stomach, and then raises up. He balances on his knees and one hand, the other holding the Fleshlight on his cock. He feels Sam run a finger over his hole as he kisses down his back. Sam slips two fingers in him, slicked with extra lube.

Sam wants Gabe right now, but he wants to take his time too. He sets his cock at the opening, just over the tight ring of muscle.

“Now fuck me,” Sam holds his hands up and away so Gabe has all the control in his movement, “come on.”

Gabe moves himself back, sliding Sam inside him as he pulls out of the device. He thrusts forward and buries himself in the silicone and lube in his hand. Sam's cock hits his prostate.

“Oh sweet fucking-” he pushes back onto Sam again and he can't even speak, his voice goes hoarse.

Sam's hands go behind his head and he closes his eyes. “That's so much better than that thing, you feel so good.”

Gabriel can hardly keep a rhythm, it all feels so good that it's overwhelming. He wants to come but he doesn't know if Sam is ready. He tries to hold it back, keep going. He slides forward and back, fucking and being fucked, his eyes closed tightly and his breathing ragged.

“Sam…” It's all he manages.

“You gonna come?”

He feels Sam's hands land on his hips and he nods.

“Me too,” Sam's voice cracks as he holds Gabe tight and surges forward.

There's a twinge of pain when Sam bottoms out, just the hint of it, and it sends Gabriel tumbling over the edge. He always liked just a touch of pain, he can't help it, and Sam goes deep enough to feel really good with just a hint of raw burn too.

He grunts as the force of Sam pushes him into the Fleshlight, his cock twitching as he feels the muscles inside him clench around Sam. He comes hard, lights flashing behind his eyelids, his breath lost in the intensity of it. He feels the heat of Sam coming in him a second later, his hips shoving hard and fast.

Sam practically yells as he comes. Maybe he does, he's so lost in the feeling that he's not even sure. He ruts and thrusts, trying to get every centimeter of himself buried in Gabe. He's out of breath and his thighs are shaking when it finally stops. He falls onto Gabe's back, making him collapse between Sam and the mattress.

“Man, we’re good at that,” Sam's voice is rough and scratchy, he needs water.

“What, fucking?”

“Yeah fucking, what else would I be talking about?” He rolls to his back to catch his breath. “I won't lie; this is some of the best sex I've ever had.”

“Me too, Sammich, and that's saying something. It's interesting that 24 hours ago sex was off the table and now our table seems to be covered in a buffet.”

Sam barks out a loud laugh. “Yeah, no joke,” he looks at Gabe. He wishes he had his camera so he could get a shot of him like this. Lying on his stomach looking back at Sam, smile lines crinkling the corners of those beautiful eyes. Sam's smile falters a bit, his face going serious. “I need to tell you something. Hopefully you won't be mad but if you are I'll delete them.”

Gabe doesn't move but the smile lines fade from his eyes. “Go on.”

“When you fell asleep earlier I took some pictures of you with my phone. I didn't even think about it, but then it seemed weird because I didn't know if you'd be okay with it. I'm sorry, I-”

“Slow down, what's the big deal? Was I just sleeping?”

“Yeah, and they were just of your face. You looked so relaxed and beautiful and I wanted a picture of it. And I took one of your side, my hand on your side, but that's it.”

Gabriel could almost blush. He's never blushed in his life, not that he can think of anyway, but Sam calling him beautiful… It makes his grace warm; he feels it grow a little. Those butterflies fan in his stomach. Maybe Sam is technically calling his vessel beautiful, but whatever. It still feels like he said it to the angel part of Gabriel. He tries to hide a shy smile, his dimples give it away.

“Well, can I see the pictures?”

“Yeah, absolutely. I should have thought of that,” Sam sits up and starts to reach for his phone. “You know what, can I shower first? I'm covered in lube, I'm pretty sure it's in my hair- oh yeah, it is. And there's handprints of it on my sheets. Ew-” Sam laughs.

Gabriel sits up, he's covered in it too. “I'd like to snap this mess up but I'm trying to conserve my grace-”

Sam cuts him off. “No, don't bother. You wanna shower first? I'll strip the bed.”
I've never been in a shower for the purpose of washing, just for shower sex. How do you even wash yourself in a shower? What do you do? Gabriel doesn't ask any of this out loud, instead he nods and stands. “You could shower with me, ya know…”

Sam follows him into the bathroom, planning on showing him where the towels are, but Gabe stops just inside the door. He's staring at the tub. “Gabe?”

“Why would you shower when you have that?” The tub is huge, deep and long. It's got seats made into the side for shit's sake.

“Uh, well, a shower's faster for one thing. I never use that unless I have sore muscles.”

Gabriel spins toward Sam. “Are you serious? What kind of life are you living? I'm using that.” He points a finger at the tub.

Sam shrugs. “Okay.” He starts the water running and hands Gabe some towels. “These buttons are for the jets-”

“IT HAS JETS?! And you're not sitting in this thing every day?! I'm questioning your judgement here, Sammo,” Gabriel climbs over the side and sits as the tub fills, “come on, get in.”

“Maybe next time. I'm gonna strip the bed and shower, I'm really hungry and the food is probably ready.”

“Fine, but I'm holding you to your word. Next time.”

Sam grins. “Deal.”

Gabriel turns the cold water down and sinks in, feeling the warmth surround him. “I’m gonna use all your hot water, Samshine!’ He calls to Sam in the bedroom.

“Nah,” Sam says loudly over the sound of the filling bathtub, “I’ve got an exceptional hot water heater.” Sam tosses the linen in the laundry room to wash later and then heads to the shower. Gabe shuts the water off as Sam enters the bathroom, quietly sinking below the surface for a second. Sam smiles. It’s strange how normal this all seems, how comfortable they are in each other’s presence. He pulls out towels from the closet and hears Gabe take a breath as he rises from the water.

The jets roar to life and Sam turns to see Gabe with his eyes closed, his head back on the wall, bubbles swirling around him. His hair is dripping and it’s curling at the back of his neck. It’s a tempting sight. He considers climbing in the tub but his growling stomach changes his mind. He closes the glass door knowing that Gabe can see him if he wants. He washes his hair and body quickly and then just stands under the stream of water letting it rinse the soap away.

He shuts the water off and looks out the shower door. Gabe is watching him, eyes roaming over Sam’s wet skin. He grabs a towel and rubs it over his head and face. He absently dries himself a little before he steps out.

Gabriel could watch Sam for hours and never get tired of it. He's beautiful, that's obvious, but there's something about him, something else that holds Gabriel's attention. He's quiet but not secretive. He's fiercely intelligent and still has a sense of humor. And there's something different about him, something calm, or something that makes Gabriel feel calm. He makes Gabriel comfortable, he smiles at him with genuine warmth and something that Gabriel hopes is affection.

He likes this Sam. He likes him so much it's scary, considering he can't stay with him. But what's even scarier than that is that he somehow knows that Sam feels the same way towards him. It doesn't have to be said because it's obvious.

Sam feels Gabe watching him, it’s almost like the gold eyes leave a sensation where they touch his naked skin. He follows his normal routine, brushing his teeth, his hair, hanging the towels to dry. All the time knowing he’s being watched and not caring in the least.

In all honesty this is probably the most at ease Sam has ever been with someone, even Brady. Sam is comfortable around people, but he’s always a little reserved. He doesn’t feel like that with Gabe. He doesn’t feel the need to hold back, he can do or say whatever and he knows Gabe will take it in stride. How he knows that he’s not sure, but it is what it is.

Something about this situation is making him reflect on his life, most importantly on his marriage. He thought Brady was the love of his life, but looking back now he has to wonder. He always felt the need to hold something back, keep a little of himself behind a wall for fear of rejection or…

Or what? Mockery? Brady was so good at mocking people, but mostly behind closed doors. No, Sam hadn’t feared mockery, he’d feared disdain.

He’d known Brady better than anyone; he could read the smallest changes in his face. He knew every time Brady had looked at him with those eyes. Sam would say something, hint at something, hesitantly ask for something, and there it was. That small quirk of the mouth, the gentle lifting of the brows. It could easily be mistaken for kindness or sympathy, but it wasn’t. It was a laughless humor, a loss of respect, an oh poor Sam, poor pitiful Sam. He doesn’t know what a child he is.

Sam doesn’t fear that from Gabe. Realistically maybe he should, anyone else would say there’s no way he could really know him in this short a time. But he knows. It’s why he’d been comfortable enough to take him up in a hot air balloon. Brady would have hated that date. It’s why when they were about to have sex the first time he’d been comfortable enough to ask Gabe to bottom. Brady hated it. He’d topped ninety percent of the time. Probably more than that. And Sam had been ok with it. Or he thought he had. But as he looks over his shoulder in the mirror and sees Gabe staring intently at his ass with no shame or attempt to hide it, he wonders…

Why? Why was I ok with that? Why couldn’t my needs have been met too? Maybe, deep down, maybe I wasn’t as happy as I thought I was. Maybe I needed this time alone to learn about myself. And maybe now I’m finally on the road back to a life, a happy life.

I just wish he’d be at the end of that road.

But Gabe’s been honest, he’s here for a short time and then he’s leaving. Sam doesn’t care. He’ll take whatever time he can get with Gabe. The angel. He still doesn’t fully understand what an angel is. He’ll have to ask about that again.

“I’m gonna make the bed and then eat, you coming?” Sam wanders slowly toward the door to the bedroom waiting for an answer.

“Yeah, I’ll be down. You go ahead.”

Sam stops and turns, leaning into the door frame. He smiles a little lopsided grin. “I almost forgot, I had a surprise delivered for you last night.”

Gabe pulls the drain plug and stands, water sluicing off of him. “Oh really? I’m intrigued.” He grabs a towel and rubs awkwardly at his hair, not really drying it so much as matting it to his scalp.

“What are you doing? You’ll never be able to get a brush through that.” Sam’s eyes go a little wide.

“I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve always snapped myself dry. How does this work?” He holds the towel in front of him and looks at it like it's rocket science.

Sam chuckles. “You’ve never dried off with a towel? Here,” Sam steps forward and holds his hand out, “give me that, let me help.”

Gabe hands it over. He looks a little bit embarrassed, not meeting Sam’s eyes. He clears his throat and drops his head. “Thanks.”

Sam starts at his head and rubs his way down, drying Gabe like he would his nieces or nephews after a swim. “There, that better?”

Gabe nods as he steps from the tub. He looks up into Sam’s smile as he slides a comb through the tangles and pats Sam’s face.

“You’re the best, Moose,” he teases.

“I’m the best moose? When did I become a moose?” Sam’s dimples are huge as he smiles.

“I don’t know, probably about the time you grew bigger than the rest of humanity. All you need is a set of antlers and you get the part.”

“Shut up, you ass.” Sam turns and strides away.

“So you’re a moose and I’m a donkey? That’s pretty accurate when you think about it.”

Sam just shakes his head and makes the bed. Gabe tries to help but he has no idea what he’s doing. He’s obviously never tangled with a fitted sheet before, and the fitted sheet wins.

“Don’t you make enough money to pay someone to make your bed?”

“No, and even if I did I wouldn’t pay someone to make my bed when I’m fully capable and it takes five minutes. That’s nuts.” Sam walks out of the bedroom with Gabe on his heels. Neither one of them bothered to put clothes on.

“I don’t know how humans deal with all these tedious things. Doesn’t it get boring and monotonous?”

“You mean life? Does life get boring and monotonous?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“I don’t know,” Sam hits the kitchen and the smell of the stew makes his stomach growl, “Sometimes, I guess. I don’t really think about it, it’s just what you do.”

“I’d rather just snap my fingers.”

Sam dips out a bowl of food and looks at Gabe. “Want some?”

Gabriel eyes the bowl. He can’t deny that it actually smells good, and there’s a feeling in his abdomen, something a little rumbly and hollow. Is that hunger? My grace must have been really low if human needs are setting in.

He nods. “Sure, I’ll give it a shot.”

Sam grabs another bowl and fills it up, sliding it across the island to Gabe as he sits on a stool. “Aren’t there things that angels do that get monotonous? You don’t ever get bored?”

“Oh hell yeah, I spend most of my life bored. It’s what usually gets me in trouble.”

Gabriel slides a spoon through the broth and raises it to his mouth, sticking his tongue out to taste. It’s actually good. Really good. It’s savory and delicious, and he’s definitely hungry.

“So you said you hide from your family, but what do other angels do?”

Gabriel raises his eyes, thinking. “There’s all kinds of angels that do all kinds of things.”

“Like what? Name a few.”

Gabriel speaks between bites, blowing on his full spoon. “Well, there are Seraphim, they protected my father’s throne before he left. They’re warriors. Um,” he takes a bite, chewing. “There are cherubs, everyone thinks they’re cute little babies but they’re not at all. They’re full of wisdom and act like they know everything,” he rolls his eyes, scoffing.

“Oh- there’s Dominions. They supervise other angels and make sure they don’t break the rules. Those guys hate me,” he wiggles his eyebrows and smiles when Sam does.

“There’s Guardians, they’re closest to humans. They watch them and protect and guide them.”

Sam nods. It’s hard to take in and fathom, this other world, but he does his best. “So what are you?”

“I’m an Archangel.”

“Sounds important, what do you do?”

“At one time we were kind of the rulers of Heaven,” he shakes his head sadly, “oh how the mighty have fallen. My brothers and I, we were close with our father. We were his messengers, he entrusted us with information to be delivered. But Michael and Lucifer couldn’t get along, and when Lucifer became jealous of humanity, well it was all downhill from there.”

He pushes his bowl away and watches Sam eat. “I ran away before my father did, truth be told. And then Lucifer fell, which is bad, it’s really bad in the angel realm. So he’s now locked in a cage with Michael in Hell, a foul place of his own creation. Serves him right. And Michael too, it serves them both right for always being assholes. And I hide so Heaven doesn’t try to pull me back in. My father hides, I think because he’s tired of all the bullshit. And humanity goes on, none the wiser to it all.”

Sam studies his bowl, questions swirling in his mind. “If you could have your family back, whole and happy, would you want that?”

Gabriel picks at his fingers for a long time. “I don’t know, Sam. It can’t happen so I don’t let myself think about it.”

“If it could happen though, if you could have things exactly like you wanted, what would it be?”

Gabe finally looks into Sam’s eyes. He holds them there, and Sam doesn’t look away. He wants an answer to this for some reason, he doesn’t know why.

“No. Maybe?” Gabriel shakes his head. “I don’t think so. I think I’d just want them to be happy. To leave each other alone, you know? I don’t need my family to be whole; I just wish they were all happy and healthy.”

Sam nods. This was a good answer. He feels it in his gut. What he likes about it he’s not even sure, he just does.

“So if you could have your family back, is that what you’d want?”

Sam looks startled at the question. “What do you mean, like my Mom? Yeah, absolutely. I’d want her back in a heartbeat.”

“No, not that. Of course you would, I know you’d want your mother back. I meant Brady. Would you want the family you created with Brady back?”

“No.” Sam doesn’t hesitate. “No I wouldn’t. I don’t regret it, my marriage I mean, but I think I’m realizing that it wasn’t as perfect as what I made it in my mind. I think you’re teaching me that. I was just thinking about it upstairs.”

It’s Gabriel’s turn to be surprised. “Me?”

Sam finishes his bowl and pushes it away. “Yeah, you. Somehow I’m more at ease with you after a few days than I ever was after years with Brady. That has to mean something, right?”

“Yeah, I think so. I don’t know what it means, but I’m the same way. I don’t have to hide with you.”

Sam nods and turns to the refrigerator. He pulls a metal pan out that’s covered in foil and sits it between him and Gabe on the island.

“What’s this?” Gabe eyes it curiously.

There’s a note on the corner, Sam hadn't seen it before. He pulls it off to read it.

“It’s from Ellen. She says Jo and Chuck will be home this fall, in October. They want to stay a couple nights with me,” Sam lays the note aside, “you ready for your surprise?”

“For me? From Ellen?” Gabriel points at the pan.

“No, for you from me, Ellen just made it. She dropped it off last night before we got home, we were just a little distracted and I forgot about it.” Sam winks.

Gabriel pulls the foil off and his mouth instantly waters at the pan full of dessert.

“That’s a whole lotta sex, baby…”

Sam rummages in the silverware and hands Gabe a clean spoon. “Sure is, you think you can handle this?”

“Look who you’re talking to, Samshine. Who’s more equipped than me?”

“True,” Sam takes a bite straight from the pan and sighs. “Man, that’s so good. I’m gonna have to run 20 miles this week.”

“I know I mentioned cake tasting but just forget that plan, we’re having this at our wedding.”

“We can’t have this,” Sam scoffs.

“And why not? I’m planning this wedding too, mister.”

“Because we have to have a cake. You can’t have a cake topper without a cake, and the cake topper is the most important part of a wedding.”

“The cake topper? Are you serious?”

Sam nods, his mouth full.

“Come to think of it, I’d love to have one with you in a tux and me with wings and a halo.”

Sam chokes a little. “What?”

“Forget it, bad joke,” Gabriel stuffs his mouth with a spoonful. “Oh, father, this is sinful,” Gabriel moans, “mmmmmm…”

“What’s sinful mean?” Sam inquires.

“Pretty much anything fun,” Gabriel closes his eyes as he takes another bite. “So who are Jo and Chuck?”

“Jo is Ellen’s daughter, Chuck is her husband. They’re a bit of an odd couple but they love each other like crazy.”

“Odd couple?”

“Yeah,” Sam puts his fork in the sink so he’ll stop eating, “Jo is a weapons specialist with a private security firm. They’re stationed somewhere overseas right now, it’s classified. Chuck is a writer, so he just goes wherever her job takes them. He's older too. Not old enough to be her dad, but it's still obvious.”

“How is that odd?”

“You’d have to meet them. The minute you saw them together you’d get it. They’re good for each other though, they really are.”

Gabe shrugs at Sam, taking his word for it. And then there’s a knock at the door.

“Son of a-” Sam is instantly fuming as he rounds the island and heads for the door. He assumes it’s the courier back again.

“Might wanna put some clothes on,” Gabriel mutters over his shoulder.

Sam’s step falters. He forgot he was naked. He sees the robe from the corner of his eye and snatches it up, angrily wrestling it on and cinching it closed. He yanks the door open to see Charlie standing there.

“Hey! Whatcha doin?” She chirps out, stepping around him into the house.

Gabriel hops off the chair and steps to the other side of the island just as Charlie steps into view.

“Oh-” She stalls in the living room, taking in Sam’s robe and Gabriel’s bare torso. “I’m sorry. Hi Gabriel. Am I interrupting?”

“Not at all!” Gabriel assures her.

She shifts her weight between her feet, obviously a little embarrassed. She glances at the couch and sees the discarded boxer briefs, her eyes go wide. “I was just going to see if you wanted dinner?” She looks at Sam who’s still behind her a little.

“I made stew, you want some?” Sam heads to the kitchen, trying to figure out how to get clothes to Gabriel while still being discreet. Luckily the island hits him at about the waist so he’s covered.

“Nah, no thanks. I tried to call and I text you, is your phone dead? I wanted dirt on the date last night but from the looks of things it went pretty well.” She smiles as she slowly steps toward the kitchen.

“It did,” Sam looks down, placing his hand on Gabe’s lower back, a small smile on his lips. His thumb slides over soft bare skin.

Gabriel adjusts his feet and a little bit of his thigh peeks out from the edge of the island.

Charlie freezes. “Are you naked?” she whispers.

“Let’s just say you should be glad I’m short,” Gabriel wiggles his eyebrows. “You want some sex?”

“No! What?!” Charlie’s mouth falls into a shocked O.

Gabriel points to the pan and chuckles a little as he sees relief wash over Charlie’s face. “Sorry, the dessert, I meant the dessert.”

“You know,” Charlie steps back, her hands waving in front of her until she finally slides them in her back pockets. “I’m good, really guys. I’m just- I’m gonna go. You boys have fun.” She backs into the table and stops, looking behind her. “I’d shake your hand, Gabriel, but I’m not going to. Sorry to be rude.”

“No, not rude at all, kiddo. No worries.” He waves at her.

“Yeah, ok. Sam? Good luck in court tomorrow. Let me know how it goes.”

“Yes, absolutely,” Sam moves away from Gabe and follows Charlie toward the door. “I will. Are you sure you don’t want to hang out for a while? You’re really not intruding, we weren’t doing anything.” He looks over his shoulder at Gabe for help. “Right? We weren’t doing anything?”

“Nope, nothing at all. No need to leave, Charlie, really.”

“It’s fine guys. I’m going to cry to Ellen about Bela so she can tell me to grow up,” Charlie smiles meekly.

Gabriel almost steps around the island without thinking, almost.

Charlie sees the movement and slaps her hands over her eyes.

“Sorry!” Gabriel says quickly, “I’m sorry! It’s all clear! Just- let me run upstairs and throw on some clothes, you can tell Sam about Bela. Okay?” He feels really bad, and he suddenly feels like he’s the one intruding here.

“No!” Charlie keeps a hand covering her eyes as she turns away. “No, you don’t need to do that, really. Sam never has company, I want him to enjoy it and he’ll enjoy it much more if you stay naked.”

She steps out of Gabriel’s sight into the entryway.

“I’m out, bye!” she yells, and the door clicks shut.

Sam looks at Gabe, his expression a little unsure. After a few seconds he cracks, a smile breaking across his face. He doubles over laughing heartily.

“I shouldn’t laugh, I’ve never seen her so uncomfortable, but that was funny.” Sam stands up, his hands on his hips as he catches his breath. “Poor Charlie.”

“Yeah, I do kinda feel bad,” Gabriel walks around the counter, “she wanted to talk to you but I was in the way.”

Sam gets serious pretty quick. “No, don’t worry about it. She wanted me to go and listen to Ellen baby her and then tell her to grow up. All I do is nod along. Trust me, missing it is no big deal.”

Sam moves toward the entryway but he turns back when Gabe doesn’t answer. “Hey,” he waits until Gabe looks at him, “I mean it, okay?” Gabe finally nods. “I’m gonna grab my phone, I forgot to show you those pictures.”

Sam bounds up the steps and snatches his phone off the table. He checks it as he wanders back down. Five missed calls. One from Dean, one from Charlie and three from an unknown number. Charlie had text him and so had Dean.

He shoots a text to Dean. Hey, I’m good. Slept late and been hanging out with Gabe today. Got court in the morning, I’ll let you know how it goes. He’s cool, you’d like him. Don’t worry. And don’t call the cops.

Dean texts back immediately. Glad you’re ok, good luck tomorrow.

Sam finds Gabe on the couch with a small throw wrapped around his shoulders.

“Are you cold?”

“I think so. My grace got too low. I’m not used to these human feelings. But I shook all over and the hair stood up on my arms.”

“You mean you shivered?” Sam sits on the couch and pulls Gabe’s feet into his lap. He hisses when they touch his thighs. “Shit, yeah you’re cold alright; your feet are like ice! Here, you know how to scroll through these?” He hands Gabe the phone with the photo gallery open.

“Sure,” Gabriel starts studying the photos.

“I’ll be right back,” Sam stands again and takes the steps upstairs three at a time. He returns with his arms full. He lays a thick soft blanket over Gabe and then pulls his feet into his lap again. He tugs wool socks on his ice cold feet.

“You don’t have to do that, Sammich. I could probably use my grace to regulate my temperature again, I’ve just been saving it,” he says absently as he flips back and forth between pictures.

“No big deal,” Sam pats his legs, “and you’re welcome.”

Gabe finally looks up at the hint of sarcasm in Sam’s voice. “Right, thank you. This is good.” He turns the phone around to show a photo. It’s the top half of Gabe’s profile, his head slightly to the side. Sam’s mouth and chin are tucked down, like he’s about to kiss Gabe’s forehead.

Sam likes that one too. “Yeah, I like it,” he smiles. “I like the one of my hand too.”

“Me too. These are good. You need to trust your gut, you have an eye. You just over think,” he’s flipping through the pictures again. “They’re good but we can do better. Don’t delete them.”

“We can do better?”

“Yep,” Gabriel tosses the phone back, “you said you’ve got a camera, right? We can definitely do better.”

“I’ve actually got two cameras, I’d have to charge my old one though,” Sam shifts a little on the couch, “what kind of pictures are we taking?”

“Fun ones, of course,” Gabriel smiles, “naked fun ones. You game?”

“Yeah, uh-” Sam looks away, his hand rubbing nervously on Gabe’s shin like he’s trying to warm him. “I don’t know, I mean- now? Right now? I’ve just nev- never-” Sam actually stutters.

“Are you nervous?” Gabriel tries not to laugh, he didn’t mean to throw Sam off his game like this.

“Well, maybe a little. I’ve never been naked in front of a camera.”

“No different than being naked any other time.”

“Yes it is, I have to look at it,” Gabe starts to cut him off but Sam holds his hand up. “And it’s not like looking in a mirror, don’t give me that shit. You know pictures are different.”

“I wasn’t going to say that, I was going to tell you that you look damn good naked, there’s nothing to be nervous about.”

“Oh, well thanks. So, now?”

“You that anxious?”

“No, just wondering.”

“I don’t care when we do it. How ‘bout tomorrow? You think on it, make sure you’re comfortable.”

“Yeah, ok. I have court in the morning. You’ll be here when I get home?”

“I’ll be here.”

Sam smiles.

“Why do you keep telling me not to go anywhere? I’m not going anywhere, not yet.”

Sam nods, rubbing Gabe’s feet. He looks down at them in his hands. He doesn’t want to say this out loud, he’s afraid of Gabe’s reaction, but he wants to be honest.

“I get the feeling that you’re not gonna say bye, you’re just gonna vanish on me.”

Sam’s voice is soft but it slams a pit in Gabriel’s belly like a slug shot. It hits him so hard because he knows it’s probably true. It sounds like something he’d do, he won’t deny it.

“I’ll stay as long as I can, I promise.”

“I’d like to know how long that is, that’s all.” You’re sounding needy, Sam. Don’t be that way.

“I don’t know, Samshine. I wish I did. I stayed longer than usual in one universe and something strange happened. I’m not sure, but I think I started to become like the beings there.”

“What makes you think that?”

“They all had this sheen to their skin, all the people and Gods there. Some shimmered blue, some green, some white, they were beautiful. After a while I started to feel a little strange somehow. Nothing I can even put my finger on to tell you, just different than myself. I looked in the mirror once and I swear I had a gold sheen to my skin. I think I was turning into one of them. I didn’t know what that would mean for me, what affect it would have on my grace, my power. So I jumped.”

Sam nods his understanding.

“If that happened here, if I started to turn into you, then I assume it would make me human. I’d lose my grace, my power. I wouldn’t be able to leave. It’s just a theory based on a gut feeling, but my gut is usually right.”

Sam looks up and Gabriel swears he sees tears in his eyes, but Sam blinks and they’re gone.

“Would that be so bad? Being human, I mean. Would it be bad to be stuck here?” Stop, Sam. Stop sounding like you’re pressuring him.

God dammit, Gabriel swears to himself, I’m hurting him. I don’t want to hurt him.

“Sam-”

“No, don’t answer that. I’m sorry, let’s change the subject. You wanna watch a movie?”

Sam turns his head to the TV and Gabriel sees him raise his hand and wipe his eyes.

Sam fumbles around, wiping irritably at his face. He doesn’t want to cry, it’s stupid to be crying over this. He knows Gabe is leaving, he told him he’s okay with it. He has to prepare himself, he needs to enjoy the now and stop worrying about when he’s gone.

“Look at me.” It’s a demand but Sam doesn’t move.

Fuck. I don’t want him to see me cry. He’s seen me cry enough. Sam takes a deep breath.

“Sam, please?”

The tone of Gabe’s voice melts Sam’s resolve. It’s soft and almost pleading, and Sam wants to give him what he wants. He turns back, his eyes shining.

“I don’t want to hurt you, that’s the last thing I wanted, but we’re in it now so… What should we do here?”

“You’re not hurting me. It’s gonna hurt when you leave but I know it’s coming. I’ll be ok.”

“It’s gonna hurt me too.”

“I know.” Sam looks down again. I don’t know if it’s gonna hurt you as much. Sam instantly feels like shit for thinking that. He has no way of knowing how much it will hurt Gabe. That thought wasn’t fair. It was selfish.

“Look at me.” Gabriel waits for Sam to meet his eyes. “Being human wouldn’t be a bad thing if it meant staying with you. But what would I do? How would I survive?”

“What do you mean?” Sam’s eyebrows draw together in confusion.

“Sam, I can’t shower myself. I don’t know how. I can’t feed myself, not really. I’ve never gone to the bathroom. Hell, I’ve never even drank water. And that’s the simple stuff you’d have to teach me. I’ve never had a job, how would I work? Who would hire me? I have no identity here, I don’t have a last name. I’d be a burden.”

Admitting that was hard for Gabriel. He’s a being who doesn’t rely on anyone, not for anything. Telling Sam that he’d be a burden may be true, but it still sucks to come to that realization.

“No, not to me. You could stay with me. You wouldn’t have to work. Really, you wouldn’t.”

Oh, Sam, bless your sweet soul. Gabriel has to look away for a second. Now it’s his turn to try to hide tears.

“And what happens when the novelty wears off? When I’m an asshole, and I don’t mean a fun, joking, teasing asshole. I mean when we have a real fight and you want me the fuck out. And it’ll happen, trust me. What then? You’ll feel an obligation to take care of me. You’ll resent me.”

“Gabe…” Tears fall from Sam’s eyelashes.

There’s a pinging sound from the laptop in the kitchen

“What is that?” Gabriel asks.

“Skype. Probably Professor Nick.”

“And then there’s that.” The last word drips with contempt.

“Just ignore it.” Sam wipes at his face again. He’s realizing that what he asked Gabe for when he suggested he stay is much bigger than he imagined. He hadn’t thought it through. Gabe seems to be thinking ahead. Even if Sam knows deep down that he’d never resent him, he can’t ask someone to give up himself for him. It’s not right.

“I’m sorry for crying. I don’t really expect you to stay. I wouldn’t expect you to give up what you are, your identity, for me. I wouldn’t really want that. But it’s nice to dream.”

Gabe lays his head over on the couch, watching Sam. “It is. You’re kinda like a living dream, you know that?”

“Yeah, so are you,” Sam smiles, his hands massaging the bottoms of Gabe’s feet. “Are we okay?”

“Long as you’re rubbin’ my feet we’re perfect Sam-a-lam.”

The laptop goes on for a long time, both of them ignoring it. Once it stops Gabe sits up, pulling his feet off of Sam.

“I’m going to email him.” He grabs the laptop from the kitchen and sits next to Sam, their thighs pressed together. He opens the last email from the Professor and hits reply without even bothering to read it.

Professor Nick,

I understand you’re requesting another DNA sample from me. I respectfully decline. I appreciate you confirming my identity but I fear I have damaged your universe enough already with my identity being known. I don’t want to cause any larger of an impact. Thank you for understanding.

Gabriel.

He looks up and Sam gives him an approving nod. Gabriel hits send.

“I haven't signed anything in a long time. Just doesn't seem right without my sigil. Gabriel seems so much less important somehow.”

There’s a reply that pops up before he can even close the laptop. He shuts it anyway.

“What's a sidil?” Sam pronounces it wrong

“No, a sigil, s i g i l,” Gabriel draws his eyebrows together, thinking. “Well, it's kind of like a signature. But it's stronger; it contains a type of magic. I used them as seals on messages I delivered, to protect the contents. Humans wore my sigil to ask protection from me. They'd use it to call to me, try to make their prayers stronger. It worked too, it's like a lure, kinda pulls me to it. But I could still ignore them.”

Gabriel sits the laptop aside. “Haven't used it in maybe 2,000 years, give or take. Humans seem to have forgotten it, which is good. I don't want it in anyone's hands now.”

“Why?”

“Who knows how it could be used. Lots of angels and demons have them. I don't think anyone openly shares them anymore. Hell, even some pagans have them. They guard those things like they're the Holy Grail. Pffft, like anyone gives a shit about them anymore.”

“Pagans?”

“Never mind. Basically a sigil is a sign, like a signature for that being. They're not used anymore, not unless it's something significant anyway.”

“Right,” Sam shakes his head, obviously not clear on the subject but more than willing to let it go.

“Anyway, that’s done,” Gabriel says finally.

“Yeah, you wanna watch a movie?”

“Nah, I’m a little tired. What time is it?”

“Uh,” Sam looks at his phone, “7:30. We can watch TV in bed, if you want.”

“That sounds good.” Gabriel stands, wrapping the blanket over his shoulders like a cape. “See, you don’t want an old man like me sticking around, Sammich. Going to bed at 7:30, that’s ridiculous, next thing you know I’ll be asking for senior citizen discounts.”

“Well that just sounds terrible, I can’t imagine my embarrassment. How would I ever survive it?” Sam’s voice it dripping sarcasm as he trudges up the steps behind Gabe.

“Don’t sass me, youngster.”

Sam laughs and pinches Gabe’s butt, making him yelp.

“You kids and your libidos, I’d never keep up with you,” Gabriel says in his best old man voice.

“In my bed, Grandpa,” Sam orders, pointing at his bedroom.

Gabriel climbs under the blankets and Sam props pillows up for them to rest on. He flips the TV on and the mirror over his dresser comes to life.

“That is the coolest shit ever,” Gabriel says in awe.

“Come here,” Sam holds his arm out and Gabe leans into him, his head resting on Sam’s shoulder. Sam squeezes him close. “Mmmm, this is nice,” Sam kisses the top of Gabe’s head.

“It is,” the words are already a little sleep slurred and groggy.

“I’ll take what I can get, Gabe, as long as you can stay. But I think this,” Sam’s voice cracks, “I think we would…” He trails off not knowing what to say. They’d be good together? They both know that despite Gabe’s argument downstairs.

“Yeah, we would.”

Sam flips through the channels. He knows when Gabe falls asleep against him. His breathing gets even, his weight gets heavier as he relaxes. Sam set his alarm and then lets himself just enjoy not being alone. At some point he falls asleep, and when his alarm wakes him up in the morning he finds himself curled on his side with Gabe’s leg and arm wrapped over him.

He slides out as gently as he can. Gabe snores softly and rolls away. Sam readies himself for court, showering and buttoning up his suit. He kisses Gabe’s temple before he goes downstairs for breakfast. He tosses his laptop in his briefcase and heads out the door, holding Gabe at his word that he’ll still be here when Sam gets home.

Chapter Text

Day6

Gabriel rolls over, his arm thudding on the empty bed. He raises his head looking for Sam. He’s gone, he had court. He crawls out from under the warm blankets and instantly regrets it. Should he just stay in bed? Should he use his grace?

No. His grace is better, much stronger, but if he could go one more day without using it he’d be strong again. Not that he’s leaving, but he’d at least be ready when it’s time. If there’s ever a time he wants to leave. Right now he can’t imagine it.

He looks in Sam’s dresser and pulls out a shirt and flannel pants from what looks like a pajama drawer. They dwarf him. He has to roll the pant legs up, his wool socks poking out the bottom. The shirt hangs down on his thighs but he doesn’t care. He wants some of Ellen’s dessert.

He hits the kitchen and pulls the pan from the fridge. He’s just settled on a stool when the door opens. He hears Sam’s voice drifting in.

“Yeah, it went fantastic. We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. Jess is thrilled that it’s over and Ruby has to pay back all the funds she's embezzled since the legal separation was filed.”

Sam strolls into the kitchen with the phone pressed to his ear. He sets his briefcase on the counter and leans down to smack his lips to Gabriel’s. He’s obviously excited. He yanks his tie off and tosses it aside, unbuttoning his top button.

Sam takes in Gabe’s outfit in one long sweep of his eyes. He’s wearing my pajamas and they’re three sizes too big and if that isn’t fucking adorable I don’t know what is. Sam grins.

“Yeah, I know, Charlie. I wish you could have seen Ruby’s face. You’d have squealed out loud. I almost did. She was so pissed.” Sam plops down on a stool beside Gabe. “And Jess, you know how wishy washy she’s been through this whole thing- but not today. She looked so beautiful and she had on the perfect power suit. She wouldn’t even glance at Ruby and you could tell it was eating Ruby up. Man, it was awesome.”

Gabriel can hear Charlie chattering excitedly on the phone. He loads up a fork of the dessert and holds it out for Sam, who immediately opens up and devours it.

“Mmmmm…” Sam moans.

“Sam, what are you doing right now? Are you messing around with Gabriel? Because I don’t want to be-”

Gabriel can hear every word Charlie is saying as Sam cuts her off.

“Charlie would you stop? No, I’m EATING, okay? Calm down!”

Well I’ve never heard you make sounds like that when you eat, and I heard you kiss someone-”

“Okay, I’m gonna go, Lee. I had a voicemail from Pamela asking me to come exercise a dog. If I can rope Gabe into it I’m heading down to the rescue. You wanna come?”

Don’t call me Lee, I hate that-”

Sam cuts her off. “You love it and you know it.”

“Whatever! No, I can’t today. I slacked off too much last week because I couldn’t stop thinking about fucking Bela. I’ve gotta get some work done today.”

“Fine. Hey, you okay over Bela? Sorry I didn’t go last night.”

“It’s fine, Sam. Really. You’ll be there for the next one. And the next one. And the one after that. Bela was just a drop in my bucket.”

“Man, Lee, you ever gonna grow up?”

What’s the fun in that?”

Gabriel can’t help but laugh at that. He likes Charlie. He figures if they got to know each other she’d like him too.

“Alright. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Tell Pam I said hi!’

Sam hangs up the phone and looks over with smiling eyes. God, I could love him. I could really love this kid if I let myself, Gabriel thinks.

“Nice pajamas.”

Gabriel looks down in surprise. “What? These old things? Just something I threw together. Might be a little bit too big though. I’m making it work.”

“Yeah, it works alright. It’s somehow adorable and sexy at the same time.”

Sam plants another kiss on him, his hand grabbing the back of Gabe’s head tightly. He tastes sweet, like chocolate and whipped cream and it’s perfect. Sam pulls back suddenly.

“So, wanna walk over to the rescue with me? Reis is restless again.”

Gabriel can’t help but feel a little dazed by the quick ending to the kiss. He was really enjoying it. He clears his throat.

“Umm- yeah, sure. I think my grace will be okay if I just snap up some clothes, shouldn’t be a big deal.”

“I can probably find something that would fit better, maybe shorts would work?” Sam stands and pulls off his suit jacket. He has to change anyway; he can go through his drawers and surely find something.

“Nah, I’d still need shoes. Pretty sure your feet are five sizes bigger than mine.”

Sam snorts. “Ok, let me change and we’ll go.” He heads upstairs.

When he comes down Gabe is sitting in the same spot taking bites of the dessert, but he’s wearing jeans and t-shirt now. The soft brown hair is curling over the dark fabric of the shirt. His back is to Sam and his shoulders look wide and strong the way he’s leaned forward. He doesn’t look small the way he had in Sam’s ginormous pajamas. He looks good. Really good.

“Ready?” Sam questions.

Gabriel stands and puts the pan back in the fridge. Snapping up clothes hadn’t set his grace back at all, he’s better than he thought he was, almost back to normal. He turns around to find Sam wearing loose shorts and a t-shirt, with running shoes tied snugly on his feet. His muscular calves and arms are exposed and he looks like he’s about to play some sort of sport that Gabriel has never given a shit about before.

Damn, I’d watch him play every stupid sport ever invented. He’s hot as Hell on the day Hitler arrived, and I heard they really cranked up the heat for his welcome home party. “Yep, let’s hit it!”

Sam talks excitedly about court on the walk over. He’s riding a high from his win, even though he says repeatedly that he knew the outcome would go in Jess’ favor. He’s so happy that he could help her and he can’t stop smiling.

“I’m sorry, I’m rambling aren’t I. I should shut up and let you talk,” Sam says, a little embarrassed by his own enthusiasm.

“No way! I love seeing you like this. You should be proud, Sammich. Seriously.” Gabriel grabs his hand tightly and holds it.

Sam smiles bigger, if that’s even possible. “Thanks. It’s nice having someone to share it with. I mean, I called Dean and Charlie but that’s not the same for some reason.”

“I like you sharing it with me.” He turns his head and looks up into Sam’s face. I love the slope of his nose. And the way his eyes turn up and his forehead relaxes when he smiles. And those dimples, those fucking adorable dimples are gonna kill me-

“What are you thinking about?”

Sam cuts into Gabriel's thoughts. “How hot you are.” Gabriel winks.

Sam laughs softly and looks away. “Shut up.”

Gabriel shrugs. “You asked.”

Sam wraps his arm around Gabe’s neck and pulls him closer. He kisses the top of his head and breathes him in. “You’re pretty hot yourself.”

“Please, Samshine, you’re way outta my league and I know it.” Gabriel wraps his arm behind Sam’s lower back.

“No way. You don’t know how sexy you looked in my pajamas. I had to stop that kiss or we never would have gotten out the door.”

“Is that what that was about? So all I gotta do is roll my pants up and wear a shirt that hangs down to my knees and you’ll be all weak around me?”

Sam throws his head back laughing. “We’ll try it later and see what happens.”

“Deal. But you realize that you might have a pajama kink? I didn’t even know that was a thing and I thought I knew all the kinks.”

“I doubt it’s a pajama kink. I think it’s just a you kink,” Sam looks up at the sky, his face screwed up like he’s thinking really hard. “And maybe you wearing my clothes.”

Gabriel tightens his hand on Sam’s lower back. “If you have a kink for me then we’re in business. I’ve got a serious Sam Winchester kink.”

Sam pulls the door of the rescue open. “To be continued…”

“I’ll make a mental note: continue kink talk with Sam.” Gabriel makes a checkmark in the air before he walks through the door.

“Ladies!” Sam calls out as they enter the office. “How are you today?” He’s full of charm and positive energy. He’s like a walking ball of sunshine.

“Sam! You look so happy today, look at you, baby! Give me a hug.” Missouri beams as she stands and wraps her arms around Sam.

Gabriel watches with a content smile on his face. People love Sam. They can’t help it.

“Aren’t you in a good mood today?” Pamela asks. “Does this guy have anything to do with it?” She motions her thumb toward Gabriel.

“Me? Nah! Sam won in court today, he’s riding a high. I’m proud of him.”

Missouri and Pamela take turns congratulating Sam, patting his shoulders and smothering him in complements.

Sam rubs his chin and looks away, trying to stop them. “It’s no big deal, really. You don’t really “win” in divorce court; things just went in my client's favor. I didn’t have to do much. Her ex-wife was a nasty piece of work.”

The women ignore him. They tell him what a good job he did and how proud they are and Sam can’t hide how awkward he feels. But he smiles and thanks them and looks adorable the whole time.

“Anyway-” he finally interrupts them, “how’s Reis? Is he ready to run? I’m stretched out and ready to go.”

“You better be ready, he’s dying to get out,” Missouri shakes her head, “poor guy. Wish we could find someone with a fenced yard to take him. I think he’d actually make a good apartment dog if he could get a walk or a run a couple times a day. A kennel just isn’t good for him.”

She turns her kind eyes to Gabriel. “What about you? You think you could spare some time for Abby? She’d love to see your handsome face.”

“I’d love to see her too. I mean, Sam’s good company and all but I really came to hang out with her.” He winks at Missouri and she grins.

“Well I see where I stand now,” Sam acts indignant but it’s obvious he’s kidding.

“Go on now, boys,” Pamela shoos them out of the office, “you both know your way around. Get out of here so we can get some work done!”

“You mean people work around here? I thought you just came here to play with dogs,” Sam calls over his shoulder.

“Sam, don’t tell all our secrets!” Missouri yells as the door closes between them.

“I like those two,” Gabriel follows Sam into the kennels of excited barking dogs.

“They like you too, everyone does.”

“Maybe here, that’s sure as hell not true where I’m from.”

Then stay here. Stay with me. Sam knows better than to say it out loud. He changes the subject instead.

“Thank you,” he says as he presses a quick kiss to Gabe’s temple. It can hardly be heard over the cacophony of dogs.

“What for?” Gabriel looks legitimately confused.

“Saying you’re proud of me. That felt good.”

His asshole husband probably never said that to him. Sam probably worked his ass off looking for that guy's approval and he never got it. Gabriel would love to throw Brady a little bit of karma.

“You’re welcome.”

Sam heads to the rows of large kennels at the end.

Gabriel steps to the front of the tiny black dog's cage. She’s right at his eye level. The dogs on either side of her are barking and jumping and making everything shake. Abby is curled in the back corner, her whole body shivering.

He holds his hands up to the excited dogs on either side, telling them to be still. Both relax and settle down, panting and watching his every move with interest.

Abby stands and walks to him on her tiny paws. He opens the cage door and she licks his nose. She’s so sweet, she deserves better than this.

“Hi sweetheart, how ya been? You wanna blow this joint? Hmm?”

Her little tail wags at him and he scoops her up. He goes back to the holding room that he waited in the other day and sets her down. She spins in circles and stands on her back legs. She’d have quite the personality if she weren’t in this place. She’d be a little clown if someone gave her the chance.

He sits on the floor and she jumps into his lap. He lays down and lets her crawl onto his chest. She licks his chin and tucks her head into his neck when she lays down. She wants contact and quiet, that’s all. He obliges.

He actually falls asleep for a short while. He’s a little startled when the door opens and Sam walks in. Abby jumps off his chest and wiggles excitedly over to Sam.

He drops to the floor beside Gabriel, flushed and out of breath. He picks the little dog up and kisses her.

“How’s that knee?”

“Perfect. Haven’t felt that good on a run in years.”

“Be easy on it.”

“I will,” Sam takes a deep breath, “what’s her name again?”

“Abby.” Gabriel watches her ears perk up at her name. She’s intelligent and quick.

“She's a chihuahua?”

“I think so, some kind of mix probably.”

“She’s so gentle,” Sam’s eyes sparkle as she licks his face.

“Don’t let her fool you, she’s scared here but she’s a fighter. I bet she’d surprise you if you saw her outside of this place. You know someone that might take her home?” Gabriel really wishes Sam would keep her. She’d love Sam fiercely; she already likes and trusts him.

“I’ve never had a dog this small, I’d be afraid I’d step on her.” Sam sets her down and she immediately jumps into his lap again. “Plus I’ve been thinking about fostering that big lug. He’d be a good running partner while I taught him some manners.”

The fact that Sam is even considering it makes Gabriel happy. “That would be good. You’d be good for him.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Sam leans back on his palms, trying not to think about the pee stained floor. “So, I was thinking about those pictures while I ran.”

Gabriel’s head shoots over to look at him, his gold eyes glittering. “What were you thinking?”

“I’ve got some ideas.” Sam has lots of ideas. He spent way too much time while he was running thinking up positions. He got himself worked up over it pretty quickly.

“Do tell.”

“I’ve got some fabric, these big bolts of black and grays. They’re left over from when Brady was decorating. I don’t know what the fuck he bought them for. Probably just to spend money. Anyway- I was thinking that I’ve got an empty wall at the back of my office. We could hang those and take pictures against them. It would make our skin stand out.”

“I like this idea. Do you have lights?”

“No, not good photography ones. We could buy some though.”

“No need. My grace is good, better than I expected. I’ll snap them up.”

“You sure?”

Gabriel nods. “What about tripods?”

“I’ve got one for each camera. I’d like to take some pictures of you, if you’ll let me. And then we can put the cameras on tripods. One at the side and one facing us and we can do whatever…” Sam’s cheeks feel hot.

“Oh I like this idea more and more, Moose. When are we doing this?”

“I don’t know. I’m hungry; you care if we stop on the way home? Then I’ll shower and we can get started.”

“Let’s go,” Gabriel stands, “come on Abby. I know, sweetie. Let’s see if you can hang out in the office, you think the ladies would mind?”

The look on Gabe’s face almost kills Sam. The worry over the little dog. It’s obvious in his expression, in the way he picks her up and cradles her against him.

“Yeah, we can ask. Come on,” Sam places his hand on Gabe’s lower back. As excited as he was to leave a second ago, now he seems hesitant to move. Sam has to push him a little to get him walking.

“She’ll be okay. Small dogs always find homes faster, Gabe.”

“She’s been here a month already. The longer she’s here the more she draws into herself. She breaks my heart, Samshine.”

And that breaks Sam’s heart. He keeps himself behind Gabe so the tears in his eyes don’t show. Maybe it’s a good thing he can’t stay. If he did they’d probably end up with 20 dogs.

Gabriel opens the office and looks between the women. “Ladies, would you mind if this little princess hung out with you for a while? I think she needs a break from the kennels for today.”

He sets the dog down and watches her sniff the floor. He sends her reassuring vibes, trying to give her courage. She wanders to Missouri and places her paws on her leg.

“Aww, honey, you come to Missouri. We’ll cuddle and do paperwork, okay?” She picks her up and sets her in her lap.

Pamela eyes Gabriel, looking at him closely. “You’re good with that little dog. You sure you don’t wanna take her home?”

“I do, I would in a heartbeat if I could. I’m not from around here though and I’ll have to go home soon.”

“We don’t usually adopt to people from outside the area, but I think we’d make an exception in this case.”

Gabriel feels Sam’s hand on his shoulder. “The journey home won’t be an easy one, I’m afraid she wouldn’t do well. I’m sorry. I really am.”

Pamela nods. “So am I but I understand. She’s just a hard one. She’s so scared, plus black dogs are the hardest to adopt out. People always overlook them.”

Gabriel doesn’t have anything to say to that. He’s afraid if he opens his mouth he’ll offer to keep her. He can’t do that; she’d never survive the jump.

“Right, we’ll be off ladies. You have a good afternoon.” Sam ushers Gabe to the door. He can see by the slump of his shoulders that he’s having a hard time leaving the dog.

They shove through the door and step onto the sidewalk. They walk a block in silence and then something in Sam makes him stop. He plants his feet and grabs Gabe’s arms and pulls him close. He holds him for a second before he returns the hug.

Gabriel fists his hands in Sam’s sweaty t-shirt. He buries his face in Sam’s chest and smells him.

“This is really fucking sad, Sam. I don’t know how you do this.” Gabriel feels a tear slip from his eye. Am I really crying? Over a dog? What the hell? But she’s so small and sweet and innocent. She had a person who loved her and took care of her and she lost him. Shit. I’m such a sucker.

“I know, I’m sorry.” Sam can hear the emotion in Gabe’s voice. He’s cried on the way home from the rescue many times himself. Sometimes he wonders why he goes back, but he knows. The dogs don’t deserve to be there, and he can give them a few minutes of happiness while they’re stuck in that place it’s worth a thousand of his tears.

Gabriel looks up, his eyes swimming. “This sucks, crying and stuff.”

Sam smiles down at him. “Well I’m not gonna lie. I’ve cried in front of you so now I kinda feel like we’re even.”

Gabriel cracks a smile. “Let’s go feed you so we can get to these pictures.”

“Yep, sounds good. Let’s just go home, I’ve got tons of stew to eat.”

“I could snap us there. You wanna try it?”

Sam looks hesitant; he pulls out of the hug. “I don’t know…”

“We can walk, no big deal. Come on.” Gabriel tugs Sam’s hand but he doesn’t budge.

“No. Let’s do it. I don’t want you to leave and then regret something. Do it.”

Gabriel looks around. There are no people in sight but they still shouldn’t do this in the open.

“C’mere.” He tugs Sam into an alley down a little ways. He wraps his arms tightly around Sam. It’s not necessary but it might make Sam feel more secure. Plus he just likes holding him that close. “Ready?”

Sam holds his eyes for a second and then gives a tiny nod.

Sam feels a woosh of air and a violent spinning sensation. His eyes slam shut out of instinct. He feels weightless for less than a second, Gabe’s arms around his waist the only thing grounding him. And then it stops. It’s quiet and his weight is firmly on his feet again.

He opens his eyes. Gabe is staring up at him, his eyes watching Sam closely. Sam looks around. They’re standing in his kitchen. It happened so fast he can’t believe it was real.

“Shit,” Sam breathes. “That was incredible.”

“Yeah? You’re not freaking out?”

“No, I am. I’m just freaking out in a good way.” Sam leans down and kisses the angel. He thinks he might be starting to understand what Gabe is, what he’s really capable of. Or maybe he’s finally starting to accept it, he’s not sure.

Sam smells really good. He smells like wind and sweat and Gabriel can taste it on his mouth. His hands grip Sam’s waist, his fingers tight.

“Mmmm,” Sam pulls back a little, “food, shower. I’ll hurry.”

“You better,” Gabriel steps back and claps his hands. “Let me get the room set up, it’ll distract me. Where’s this fabric?”

Sam leads him into his office and opens a closet. The bolts are stacked on the floor. He pulls his tripods out and puts his old camera on to charge.

“I don’t know how to hang that fabric. Should we nail it or something?”

“Leave it to me. Go eat.” Gabriel waves him away.

He ponders the situation and finally decides he’s not messing with the tedious side of this. He feels strong. Snapping up clothes and flying didn’t set him back at all; he’s going to see what he can do.

He snaps and the fabric is cascading from the far wall. It’s layered and gives a nice effect, pooling halfway across the floor. It’ll do nicely. He snaps again and the tripods are in the positions Sam described, the second camera is fully charged, and lights are set up. He snaps again and he’s wearing Sam’s oversized pajamas.

This is why he wouldn’t make a good human. He’s impatient and he can’t stand taking his time to complete simple things like this. He’d never make it without his grace.

He sits in Sam’s office chair and waits, spinning in circles. That’s how he got here, that’s what started this whole thing. Spinning in an office chair, bored out of his mind. That seems like a year ago.

He looks around. He does wish he could stay. Hell, when he jumped he never even cared if he made it back home. He’d decided that it didn’t matter if he jumped into another universe where the world was ending. But now…

If he lost his grace he’d eventually die here. As a human. That thought is terrifying. Death isn’t something angels really think about. It’s not inevitable for them the way it is for humans. What if he stayed here and then Sam died? He’d never survive that. Never.

And he has a nagging feeling about the professor. He’s not going to let Gabriel get away with declining the sample. He’ll persist. He’ll email again, call again, Skype again. He’ll push for a yes, and the only real way Gabriel will be able to ensure he can’t get more of his grace is to leave.

Maybe he could just make the professors forget he exists? Hmm. That’s a possibility. Well, not really, the more he thinks about it. What about the researchers? All the people who came in contact with his DNA and his grace? Hell, even the couriers. He’d have to reach all of them too, and he has no idea who those people are.

So memory wipes are out. He can’t see a way around it. Looking back now he should probably regret having intruded in Sam’s life at all. He can’t do it though, he doesn’t regret it. He’d do it again because he’s selfish, and because he likes this Sam so much. Because he could see himself having something with this Sam. Something that he’s never had before.

He can see himself lov-

“You ready?”

Sam’s voice jars him out of his thoughts. He stops spinning and looks at Sam walking through the door. He’s naked. All that beautiful skin exposed. His hair is damp and he runs his hand through it as he looks at Gabriel and smiles.

“Okay, I admit it. It’s something about you wearing my clothes. I definitely like it.”

“Good,” he stands and meets Sam, “I definitely like you naked.”

Sam looks over the room, the fabric, the tripods. “That’s perfect.”

“Alright then. Tell me how you want me.” Gabriel steps back and spreads his hands wide, waiting for instruction.

“As much as I like you in my pajamas I think I want you naked for this.”

Gabriel snaps and the clothes are gone. Oh yeah, my grace feels good. He can feel it flaring, it hums inside him. We’re gonna get some good pictures, Sam. You have no idea.

Sam gawks for a second but he quickly recovers. He grabs a camera and motions for Gabriel to cross the room. He snaps several pictures of him walking away. Man, he’s got a perfect ass.

Gabriel hears the shutter on the camera and he smiles. He stands facing away from Sam, letting him take as many pictures as he wants. He drops his head and looks at the floor. He pushes his shoulders back a little.

“Yeah, I like that. Put your head up again, keep your spine straight.”

Gabriel does as he’s told.

“Turn your head.”

Sam starts giving instructions. Gabriel never speaks; he just does what Sam wants.

“Don’t look at me, look straight out. Good.”

“Now turn. Slowly.”

“Stop. Put your hand behind your head. No, other arm. Elbow out. Yes, perfect.”

“Head back. Hand in your hair. Close your eyes.”

It goes on and on.

“Face me. Look down, a little to the left.”

“Look up, eyes into the camera. Make them change color.”

Gabriel stops moving. “What?” He has no idea what Sam is talking about.

Sam lowers the camera. “Your eyes, can you make them change color?”

Gabriel shakes his head. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Oh, well,” Sam drops the camera to his side, “when we were- there’s been a few times, mostly when we were fucking, when I thought your eyes were changing colors. Maybe I was just seeing things-”

“Really?” Gabriel crosses the room and grabs Sam’s second camera, “I didn’t know they did that, it’s not intentional. I’ll see what I can do. Look at me.”

Sam looks directly at the camera and Gabriel starts snapping. Sam raises his camera and smiles from behind the lens as they take pictures of each other.

“Put that down, get over there,” Gabriel finally says.

Sam mounts the camera on the tripod and then stands in front of the fabric.

“Grab your cock.”

Sam feels extremely self-conscious, but he does it anyway. He starts swelling instantly.

“Keep blushing, it looks beautiful against that black. Now, other arm over your head. You’re getting hard, that’s perfect.”

The longer it goes the more relaxed Sam gets. Until Gabriel isn’t talking, he’s just letting Sam move on his own. Sam’s body is long and muscular and the camera loves him.

Sam is raging hard and he’s watched Gabe get hard from just looking at him through the camera lens. He finally wraps his hand around his cock and slides his thumb over the slit, pushing pre-come around the head. He leans back into the fabric and looks directly at the camera, licking his lips.

“And that’s my cue,” Gabriel snaps and the camera is on the tripod.

“Do we need to set up timers on those? I have a remote for the new one, let me grab it.”

Gabriel advances on Sam, pushing him back with his hands on Sam’s hips. “No need, it’s covered. I’m not waiting another second.” He starts to sink to his knees and Sam pulls him back up.

Sam spins Gabe so his back is to the wall. He knows this won’t be good for pictures; his taller frame will totally obscure Gabe from this angle. He drops down and looks up into those eyes.

“Your eyes just changed color.”

“Did they? Must have something to do with being turned on, you on your knees is definitely turning me on.”

Sam kisses Gabe’s stomach and across his hips. He smells his inner thighs, that distinctly male smell that makes his dick throb. He kisses in the short hair above that thick cock, smiling when he feels Gabe’s fingers on his head.

Sam licks Gabriel’s cock, running his tongue up and down it to slick it up. Gabriel aches for Sam’s mouth, and he groans when Sam finally stretches his lips around it. His hands pull in Sam’s hair.

Sam slowly slides his mouth up and down. He gradually pushes Gabe down his throat until he touches his gag reflex.

“That feels so fuckin’ good, Sam.”

The encouragement drives Sam on. He slides Gabe as far back as he can, ignoring the gag he has to fight against. He sucks hard as he bobs his head and when he hears a hard grunt from Gabe he can’t help but grab his own cock.

“Slide your finger over the head and let me taste it.”

Sam opens his eyes and looks up. Gabe is watching him, his pupils huge. His eyes are a dark amber and lustful. Sam rubs his thumb over the head of his cock and raises it up.

Gabe grabs his wrist tightly and sucks Sam’s thumb in. His grip is so tight on Sam that he knows he’ll probably have bruises there. Sam doesn’t care.

“Mmm, tastes so good.”

Gabe drops his arm and Sam pulls his mouth off. “So do you,” Sam cups the other man's balls and suddenly remembers. “Shit! I forgot to bring the lube down!”

Gabriel smiles. He snaps and hands Sam a bottle.

Sam doesn’t waste a second. He lubes his fingers. “Spread your legs.”

Gabriel plants his feet wider. He has to close his eyes when Sam’s mouth sinks onto his cock again. Sam’s fingers are teasing over his balls and ass and he lets his head thud back into the wall.

“Sam, your mouth,” he sighs softly, “it’s perfect.”

Sam slips a teasing fingertip into the tight ring of muscle, making Gabe pull his hair a little. He starts a rhythm between his mouth and finger and before long he can feel Gabe’s thighs start to shake. Sam wants to leave him a whining, moaning, shaking mess from his mouth and hands. He wants to wreck Gabe, make him weak, putty in Sam’s hands.

And it seems to be working. It doesn’t take long before Gabe is breathing fast and shallow. His hips rocking into Sam’s mouth. He whines when Sam slips another finger in.

“Sammmm, shit,” his hands are on Sam’s head like he needs it to keep him standing, “I need to lay down. You’re killing me, fuck. Please, please…

Sam stands and grabs Gabe’s face, kissing him roughly. “You begging?”

Gabe nods into the kiss.

Sam gives him space, letting him lay on the fabric draped floor. Sam is back on him in a second. His mouth sucking and licking, his fingers opening him up. He’s determined to make Gabe come in his mouth.

But Gabe is begging, he’s begging Sam to fuck him.

“Please, I need you, fuck me, Sam. I need you to fuck me, fill me up, oh fuck…” His hands on Sam’s arms, his face, clutching at his hair.

Sam finally grabs them and pins them at Gabe’s sides. “I want you to come in my mouth.”

“You’re gonna kill me,” Gabriel’s arms are held down tightly and his head is arched back, Sam’s mouth and fingers are the best kind of torture. A low groan escapes when Sam deep throats him.

“Shit, Gabe, I want you,” Sam can’t take the desperate pleas and moans anymore. He wants inside Gabe so much, more than he wants to get him off with his mouth.

Sam lifts up and takes a second to fill his hand with lube and slick his cock, which is so hard and heavy that it’s aching. He tugs Gabe up onto his thighs so Sam can sit on his knees. He may be lost in the moment but somewhere in the back of his mind he’s still conscious of the cameras.

His fingers grip Gabe’s hips and he slowly sinks into him.

Gabriel’s hands fist in the fabric. His breath is hitching and fast. Sam rocks into him slow and shallow at first, gradually going deeper. He brushes over that sweet spot every once in a while and Gabriel raises his hips, trying to get more.

“Deeper, please,” Gabriel looks at Sam’s hands on his hips. He follows those arms up, muscles and veins standing out. Sam’s jaw is clenched as he concentrates.

“You’re bossy,” Sam says through gritted teeth.

Gabriel relaxes, he lets Sam have control. This is Sam’s show; Gabriel isn’t going to make any more demands. But damn if he doesn’t want to feel Sam buried deep inside him.

Sam leans forward a little, putting his hands on the floor at Gabe’s sides. He rocks his hips harder, watching Gabe’s Adam's apple jump as he takes a hard breath. A high pitched noise escapes, almost like he’s in pain.

“You okay?” Sam slows a little, trying to make sure that Gabe isn’t hurting.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Gabriel grabs Sam’s forearms and holds on. He wants Sam deeper, harder, but he’s not gonna beg. Sam will get there when he wants to.

Sam slowly buries himself in Gabe, so slow that he’s driving himself crazy. He may have told Gabe how bossy he was, but Sam wants to go deeper just as much as Gabe wants it. He just doesn’t wanna come yet.

He drags his cock out and shoves in fast, but not all the way. “This what you want?”

Gabriel’s eyes roll back. “Yeah, when you’re ready, fuck you feel good.”

Sam sits back on his knees again, grabs the back of Gabe’s knees and pushes them back as far as he can. He speeds up, going deep but not hard. Not yet.

Gabriel can’t help but whimper each time Sam hits bottom. That hint of pain, that delicious burn, he loves it. He’s gonna come soon, he won’t be able to help it.

“Am I hurting you?” Sam’s voice is soft and concerned.

Gabe’s eyes open, shining gold under the photography lights. His eyes are intense, his jaw working each time Sam thrusts. The whimpers are quickly turning to grunts.

“Gabe, I don’t wanna hurt you. Am I hurting you?”

Gabriel nods very slightly. “Don’t stop, Sam. I like it, fuck-” Gabriel grabs his cock, he’s getting close.

“You like it?” Sam’s eyes are hooded. His face may look concerned but his eyes are full of desire.

“Yes, I’m gonna come,” Gabriel’s head rolls to the side as Sam slides in hard. “Yes, fuck, yes, yes, yes-”

Sam can see veins standing out in Gabe’s neck and his hand is working up and down his cock. His eyes are closed tightly and he bites his bottom lip. He comes hard, his inner muscles squeezing around Sam as he slams into him. Come shoots all the way up to Gabe’s chin as he cries out.

Sam drops Gabe’s legs. He lays down on him and licks and kisses up the come that streaks his chest, neck and chin.

He nuzzles by Gabe's ear. “You taste so good, I knew you would.” He's still buried inside him, and Sam hasn't come yet. He holds still letting Gabe rest for a minute, knowing he'll be sensitive.

Gabriel turns his head and captures Sam's mouth with his. He kisses him deep, tasting himself on Sam's lips. Sam starts moving in him gently and Gabriel wraps an arm around his back, holding him close.

Sam pulls back from the kiss and looks down at Gabe. “You're fucking gorgeous.”

Gabriel has a million rebuttals for that in his head. He wants to tell him he's wrong, that Sam’s the gorgeous one, that Gabriel is nowhere near as beautiful as him. But he doesn't, he doesn't want to ruin the moment. So instead he fists his other hand in the back of Sam's hair and yanks his head down to kiss him again.

Sam goes deep, quick and hard thrusts of his hips. He can feel that twisting heat in his belly, that anticipation building. He wanted to try a million positions and fuck all night, but the way Gabe is holding him close and clutching at his back, kissing Sam like he needs it to breathe. Sam isn't going to last.

“I'm close,” Sam wraps his arm tightly around Gabe's lower back, holding on. “I'm so close, Gabe.” He's ramming into him, probably too hard really, he's never been with someone who didn't complain when he fucked them this hard. But Gabe is holding him tight, his breath teasing Sam's ear.

“Come for me, Sam. Come on. I got you.”

Sam's hips stutter, he buries his face in Gabe's neck as he groans and curses. His thighs are left quivering and he shivers when Gabe's hands slide down his back. His entire body is overly sensitive.

“Fuck, I didn't wanna get off that fast,” he pants. He lifts himself up on shaking arms to look down at Gabe.

“Well I got off first, you saying I was premature?”

Sam laughs hoarsely. “No, that's not what I meant,” he rests on his elbows, his forearms framing Gabe's face. “I wanted to do a bunch of other positions. You know, for the pictures.”

Gabriel shrugs “So we take a break and come back later.” He takes his thumb and catches an eyelash from below Sam's eye. He holds his finger up to Sam. “Make a wish and blow it away.”

Sam has to think for a second, he has to remember that conversation. What did Gabe say a wish was? Something you wanted more than anything.

“I wish I could keep you,” Sam says. He looks over the angel's face, trying to memorize it.

There's a lump in Gabriel's throat the size of his fist. “I wish you could keep me too,” he manages to say.

Sam closes his eyes and rests his forehead against Gabe's. Dammit, he may know that this can't last but he's for damn sure going to make sure nothing goes unsaid between them. Even if that means watching Gabe's heart break as he says the words.

“I would love you, Gabe. I would love you so much.”

Gabriel feels like a hole opens in his chest, a huge gaping hole that's going to suck him. He imagines it's lonely there in that hole. It's dark and empty and there's nothing there but eons of time that he’ll spend alone, without Sam. He doesn't want to leave him. Ever.

“I know you would, Sam. I wish I could stay with you,” he has to stop talking and swallow. He feels a tear drop from his eye and he hears a small sound when it hits Sam's arm. It feels like his throat is closing off and someone is ripping out his heart.

“I'm sorry,” Sam raises his head and forces a small smile. “This isn't what I imagined when I was running.”

“What did you imagine?” Gabriel feathers his fingers in Sam's hair. It's soft and slick; he rubs it between his fingertips.

“Pictures of you. Tons and tons of pictures of you, from every angle imaginable. And a lot of sex.”

Gabriel chuckles. “The sex I understand, but why all the pictures of me?”

“Because I never want to forget a single detail of what you look like.” Sam's face crumbles, he tries to control it but he can't. He wants to say this but the words feel like razors. They want out so much he wants to scream, but fear tries to hold them back. “What if I forget? If I didn't have pictures of my mom I don't think I'd remember what she looked like anymore. I don't want to forget you.”

Gabriel thinks he's going to die. He's not going to survive this much emotion, Angels aren't equipped for this. He wants so much to console Sam, but he feels like he needs to be consoled himself.

“Hey,” Gabriel's voice breaks, “you won't forget me, okay? I'm never going to forget you either. It's not possible. No one has ever made me feel like this, there's nothing that could make me forget.” He wraps his arms behind Sam and just holds him, more for himself than for Sam. He just needs to feel Sam's weight laying on him, feel his breath on his neck, the warmth of his skin.

“I'm sorry.”

“Stop saying that, stop apologizing. This sucks, Sam. Why the hell did we have to meet in different universes where it can't happen? It's not fair and I hate it, but I don't want to give up a second of it. We're allowed to feel like shit for a minute.” He slides his hands over Sam's back. “And then we'll get over it and enjoy ourselves again.”

Sam nods into Gabe's neck. “You know, you could always look up the other Sam when you get home.” Shit, Sam! You struggle saying the meaningful thing but you just blurt out something shitty like that?”

“Nah, he's not you, Samsquatch.” Gabriel hadn't given this a single thought, but it makes sense that Sam would assume it. Knowing there's a clone of you out there somewhere probably fucks with your head in some messed up ways.

“That was shitty, I don't even know why I said it.” Sam finally lifts himself off of Gabe and sits back on his knees. He smiles a little when Gabe snaps and the mess is gone.

Gabriel sits up, stretching his legs and crossing them at the ankle. “It wasn't shitty. We're in strange territory here. Hell, I don't even know how to navigate it. I'll tell you this though, that other Sam Winchester? He may look like you, maybe his personality is similar to yours, but he's a different person. He's led a different life. A hard, fucked up life, Samshine. And after this, after you, I don't know if I could even look at him.”

Sam studies his fingers. “I don't think I could look at the professor either.”

“Yeah, see? Same thing. He's me, but he's not me.”

“I get it.”

“You hungry?”

Sam raises his finally head. “No,” he looks at little confused, “are you?”

“No, but you're always hungry so I thought I'd check.”

“I'm not always hungry,” Sam looks indignant.

“Oh please, you eat all the time. You're always talking about your next meal.”

“What? Just because I have a fast metabolism-” Sam cuts off when he hears his phone blaring from the other room.

“Better get that. I know that song, it's Dean right? We don't want the cops here again. Especially since we're always naked now.”

Sam hops to his feet. “I'm pretty sure us being naked would have gotten rid of them faster.” He makes it to his phone just before it stops ringing.

“Hey, Dean.”

“Uncle Sammy?”

Gabriel can hear the child's voice through the phone as Sam strolls back into the room.

“Hey Benny! What's up, buddy?”

“Uncle Sammy, I had to tell you! I jumped off the high dive today!”

Sam's face lights up. “What?! Are you kidding me? The high dive? But you're only five!”

“I'm five and a HALF, that's what Mom told the swim teacher. She said I was the youngest kid to ever jump from that high before.”

Gabriel can hear a slight lisp in the child's speech. And Sam is beaming as he talks to him.

“Five and a half. I'm sorry, bub. That's so cool, I'm proud of you!”

“Yeah, even Bart wouldn't do it. He was too scared.”

“Wow, that's pretty special Benny. Next thing you know you'll be on the swim team.”

“Nah, I wanna wrestle like Daddy did.”

Sam's grin somehow manages to get even bigger.

“Yeah he was pretty good, but I bet you could be better.”

Gabriel could watch Sam talk to his nephew for hours. He looks so happy.

“Shut up, Mary! Go away!”

“Hey hey, don't talk to your sister like that. What's she doing?”

“She wants to talk to you but I told her no.”

Daddy said you have to share Uncle Sammy!” The little girl's voice screeches through the phone.

“Put her on the phone for a minute, bud.”

“But- wait- will you come see us this weekend? Please?”

And once again Gabriel feels like an intruder. He kept Sam from visiting these kids who so obviously adore him. He looks down, he feels like he shouldn't even be watching the conversation now.

“Yep, I'll be out for sure.”

“You promise?”

“I promise. Now put Mary on the phone, okay?”

The kid huffs. “Fine.”

“Uncle Sammy! I jumped off the big board too!”

Sam makes an exaggerated gasp. “Mary! Did you really?! But you're only three!”

“I'm four now! I was three but then I had a birthday and now I'm four! Remember?”

“Oh that's right, I forgot. You're growing up so fast.”

“I know, I'm big.”

“You are, baby. I'm gonna come see you in a few days, okay?”

“Yeah!”

“Tell daddy that Uncle Sammy said he's proud of you. And give Mommy a kiss. Got it?”

“Got it!”

“Can you remember? That's an important job.”

“I remember!”

There's a shuffling and clanking sound through the phone and Sam pulls it away from his ear to look at it.

“I think she hung up.” He shrugs.

“Probably,” Gabriel says, “you gave her a really important job.”

“Yeah, she's a sweetheart.” Sam looks around the room. “You like kids?” He feels awkward asking this for some reason, which seems silly with how intimate he and Gabe were just moments ago.

“Dunno. Never paid much attention to them honestly. I don't not like them.”

Sam nods and continues finding things to look at other than Gabe.

“I think my nieces and nephews would really like you.”

“Maybe.”

“You could bond over your love of sweets,” Sam smiles a little, finally meeting Gabe's stare.

“I could always bribe them with candy.” Gabriel wiggles his eyebrows.

Sam laughs. “Yeah, they'd love you alright.”

“Do you want kids, Sam?”

Sam crosses his arms over his bare chest. “I don't-” he shakes his head slightly, “yeah, I mean I did. I hadn't really thought about it since Brady left. I'd want to raise them with someone.”

Gabriel doesn't know what to say here. He stays quiet, fidgeting with his hands in his lap.

“Ok, do that snap thing and get dressed.”

The subject change happens too abruptly. “What? Why?”

“Because we're going shopping.”

“What for?”

“You'll see.” Sam's phone dings and he looks down. He snorts.

“What's wrong?”

“That was Dean. He said it wasn't really the high dive, just the regular diving board and Benny was wearing a life vest. And Mary jumped off the side into Anna's arms. But he said not to tell them I know because they're so proud.”

“Sounds like they want to impress their uncle. You must be a pretty big deal in their world.”

“Yeah, I hope so. They're good kids. Maybe you can meet them before you leave.” Sam knows he shouldn't say it. He shouldn't even suggest introducing the kids to someone they'll never see again, and deep down he doesn't really believe Gabe will be here that long. He wants to imagine it though, he's indulging a dream.

“I'd like that.” Gabriel wishes like mad that he could stay. This isn't fair, this entire situation is not fair and he's getting angry about it. He wants to stay, Sam wants him to stay. Isn't there some way it could work?

“Right.” Sam walks to his desk and pulls out a pad of paper and a pen. “I'm gonna make a list while I get dressed. I'll be right back.”

Sam scribbles out necessities as he heads upstairs and throws on clothes. He argues with himself internally the entire time.

Stop being such a downer. You don't know how much longer he'll be here, just enjoy it.

But I don't want him to leave and have any doubt about how I felt. He's shown me that I can be happy again. Even if he can't stay I know that I can be happy on my own now. If I meet someone some day then great, but if I don't I'm okay.

Shouldn't I take every opportunity to tell him that? To tell him how I feel?

Sam's back down stairs within a few minutes. Gabe is lounging on the couch in his jeans and t-shirt. Sam tosses the pen and pad of paper on the table.

“Ready?”

“Yep, I was just making a mental list of positions for later.”

“Good, we'll compare notes when we get home.”

Sam grabs his keys in the kitchen and moves toward the back door.

“We're driving?” Gabriel follows right on Sam's heels. “We buying a couch or something?”

“What? No- why would we be shopping for a couch?”

“You said you hate that one. I was just trying to figure out what we'd be shopping for.”

“Not a couch. I feel like I'm wasting money if I buy a new couch before that one is worn out,” Sam says as he slides in the driver's seat. “Don't push any buttons and buckle your seatbelt.”

“Aye aye, Captain Sammich.” Gabriel salutes him.

“Where do you come up with all these nicknames?”

“It's a gift. It adds to my irresistible charm. You know you love it.”

“Whatever you say,” Sam backs out of the garage, “you call everyone nicknames like that?”

“A few people. They’re not usually nice nicknames though. Those are reserved for you.”

“You got any other nicknames besides Gabe?”

“Not that I know of. You're the only one who's ever called me that.”

Sam raises his eyebrows. “You want me to stop?”

Gabriel reaches out and grabs Sam's hand. “Nope, I like it. Got any others?”

“For you? Hmm,” Sam ponders as he drive. “Sugar? That one definitely fits. Maybe Short Stack, I like that one.”

Gabriel rolls his eyes. “My vessel's not that short, you're just freakishly tall.”

“Did you just call me a freak?”

“Seriously, Moose. Your height is obscene.”

It's Sam's turn to roll his eyes.

They don’t drive that far before Sam pulls into a strip mall. Gabriel instantly knows where they’re going.

“Pet store?”

“Yep. If I’m gonna foster then I need supplies.” Sam hands Gabe the folded paper with the things he could think of. “You see anything else I need?”

Gabriel looks it over. “Toys. You don’t have toys on here. He likes tug of war and you’re big enough to play it with him. You need rope toys. And balls. And chew stuff, he’s still a puppy. And-”

“Okay, divide and concur. You hit the toys and I get the rest of the stuff. I’m getting hungry.” Sam grins.

“I knew it! You’re always hungry!”

“Shut up.”

They enter the store, Sam grabs a cart and heads to the food and bowl aisle. He grabs an elevated food and water bowl set for giant breed dogs. He throws two large bags of dog food in the cart. He looks over the treats and tosses in a few different kinds. He gets two enormous dog beds, both extra cushioned. He looks through the collars and leashes and grabs a solid black set and also a harness, just in case. He makes his way to the toy aisle.

Gabe is standing with his arms overflowing. There are things threatening to fall to the floor at any second.

“What in the world, how many toys do you have?”

Gabriel turns to Sam. “It’s about time, I’m about to drop these.” He dumps the toys into the cart. More than one toy starts making obnoxious noises.

“Gabe, that’s way too much.”

“No such thing.”

“I don’t even know how long I'll have him; it may just be a few weeks.”

“Mmm hmm.” Gabriel strolls away, looking at doggy doors. “You should get one of these.”

“I’m not putting in a doggy door, I don’t think he’d even fit through those.” Sam checks his list one more time. He blushes hotly when he sees the bloom of a bruise starting on his wrist. That's where Gabe had grabbed him to taste his thumb. Shit that's hot.

“Sure he would, look at this one.” Gabriel holds up a box that’s half his size.

Sam drops the list looking up. “Yeah, that’s almost the size of my door. Not happening.”

“Suit yourself; I’m just trying to save you a trip.” He grabs a tennis ball and tosses it in the cart.

“Aren’t there already three of those in there?”

“Trust me.”

“Let’s get out of here before you bankrupt me.”

Gabriel smirks and follows Sam to the check out. It doesn’t end up being a cheap trip. Not by a long shot. He helps Sam load everything in the back of the monster SUV.

“Probably a good thing you have this ginormous vehicle, he’ll need it.”

“Yeah, at least it’ll be put to use again.” Sam closes the back hatch. “Come on, that Italian place it really good.” He motions next to the pet store.

They eat and chat and laugh, talking about the dog and how Sam will work his schedule to best care for him.

“I’ve been thinking about going back to the prosecutor's office part time.” Sam says it nonchalantly as he eats his lasagna.

Gabriel sits back in surprise. “Wow. That’s- I think that would be good.”

Sam nods. “Yeah. I miss it but I don’t want to work the hours I did. I liked the job but I want to keep my life, ya know? So I’d probably do my contract work too. I can do that at home.”

“I like this idea.”

“I haven’t asked them yet, they may say no. We’ll see.”

“From the impression Hannah gave they’re not gonna say no.”

Sam shrugs and continues to eat.

Something about this decision makes Gabriel feel better. Like Sam is healing, repairing the life that he gave up for Brady. A life he loved. This is good, he knows it.

They’re in the car driving back when the phone rings. It takes over the stereo, blaring through the speakers. Sam looks at the number on the screen.

“I think this is Nick.”

Gabriel sighs. “Just answer it. He’s not going to give up unless I talk to him.” Pretty sure he’s not gonna give up even if I do talk to him.

Sam slides the green bar over to answer the call. “Hello?”

“Sam?” It’s Nick.

“Yeah, Nick. It’s me.”

“Sam, I need to talk to you about Gabriel. Is he with you?”

For some reason Sam has the urge to lie. He wants to say no - nope, sorry, Nick. He already left. Haven’t seen him since yesterday.

Gabriel answers before Sam can. “I’m here.”

“Good. How are you Gabriel?”

“I’m fine. What do you need?” Something about Nick’s voice is annoying. Gabriel wants to get to the damn point.

“Right. I wanted to ask you to seriously consider giving us another sample. This will be the last one, you have my word. We’d like to test the substance one more time and see if we can stabilize some of the prop-”

“No.” Gabriel cuts him off, not interested in listening to the explanation.

“Gabriel, I didn’t want to have to say anything, but I’m afraid we can force you to supply us with a sample if you don't consent-”

Sam is immediately enraged, he leans over the steering wheel. “Excuse me? What the-”

Gabriel holds a hand up to cut him off. “And just how do you think you’ll be able to force me, Nick? Please, enlighten me.” Gabriel’s eyes glitter with amber and gold.

“Well, I- I hoped it wouldn’t come to this, honestly, but you have no rights here, Gabriel. You’re an alien. There’s no precedent on how you should be treated-”

“Stop right there, Nick.” Sam shuts the professor down mid-sentence. “You’re married to a law professor, you know what you’re saying isn’t true. Gabriel will be granted an appearance before an immigration judge and in the meantime he’s a sentient being who poses no threat. He will be treated with respect and will be allowed the same rights as a human. Maybe his case will be a precedent, but don’t sit and lie through your teeth to try to scare him.”

“He doesn’t scare me, Sam," Gabriel says.

“How do you know he’s not a threat? There’s no telling what abilities he has, right now it’s outside our understanding what he is, what he can do. He will be detained to control any possible threat until he can go before a judge.”

“Fuck you, Nick,” Sam spews the words like venom, “even if he is a threat and you obtain the proper paperwork to detain him, you cannot force him to provide you with samples of anything and you know it. And don’t think you’ll show up on my property with anything less that every document you need, if there’s an apostrophe out of place I’ll find it and shut you down.”

“There won’t be.” Nick sounds positively smug.

Gabriel leans in closer to the phone. “Listen, professor. This has been a lovely chat, it really has, but I want to tell you something. You have no idea what I am or what I’m capable of. None. So you know I can heal things, that’s well and good, that’s something that could help mankind, right? So you want more, and that’s understandable. But I’m capable of things you can’t even fathom. I can lay your world to waste if you threaten me, and I’m tempted I must say. But I won’t. Not yet.”

Gabriel leans back, pausing. “I know you’re back in the States, or close to it. That’s a shame, you shouldn’t have cut George’s dream trip short. You’re not a very caring husband, I don’t think. You’re coming off pretty selfish and self-serving right now. I’m going to implore you to leave me alone because if you don’t, I don’t think you’ll like the consequences.”

Nick clears his throat into the phone. “You still think he’s not a threat, Mr. Winchester?”

Sam doesn’t hesitate. “Absolutely, if you leave him alone he’s no threat at all.” He looks at Gabe, who inclines his head and winks.

“Right. Well, I have much to discuss with my colleagues. I’ll be in tou-”

Sam ends the call. “What a prick.”

“He won’t be in touch, he’ll just show up.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.” They’re home now and Sam is pulling in the driveway.

“I can leave now. I’m strong enough. Do you think I should?”

Sam looks startled. “No, no I don’t want you to leave yet. Can you stay longer?”

“I can stay until the minute they show up, if you want. I don’t want to make you a target though. I’m afraid if they know what our relationship is they might try to use it to hurt you.”

“So I won’t tell them.” Sam turns in his seat. “Don’t leave. Not yet.”

His face is almost pleading, his big puppy dog eyes defying settling on one color. Dammit, Sam, this is getting dangerous. Gabriel won’t deny him though, he’s not strong enough to deny Sam anything.

“Not yet.” Gabriel shakes his head in agreement.

“Could I maybe go with you?” Sam’s voice is soft and hesitant. This thought has crossed his mind before, just fleetingly. He’s afraid maybe Gabe won’t want to take him.

Gabriel’s eyes go wide. This hadn’t crossed his mind because it’s not possible, but he desperately wishes it could be. He places his hand on Sam’s cheek.

“Oh, Samshine, I wish you could. I wish it more than anything. But you wouldn’t survive. It would rip you to shreds. I have to hold myself together atom by atom, it takes everything I have. And I can’t take you away from your life, your family. That’s not fair of me. They love you; I would never do that, no matter how much I want you for myself.”

“Yeah,” Sam places his hand over Gabe’s, “I understand.”

They exit the vehicle and Gabriel snaps his fingers to unload the supplies.

“It’s all in the kitchen,” he says as Sam starts toward the back of the car.

Sam turns around and follows Gabe inside. He smiles when he sees everything piled in the floor. Maybe he’s scared of Gabe leaving but he can’t help but be excited about bringing a dog home.

“Will you go with me to pick him up tomorrow?”

“Absolutely.” Gabriel grins up at Sam.

Sam puts the bags of food in the pantry and sets the food and water bowls up in the kitchen. He tosses a bed in the living room and throws another one at the foot of the stairs to take up to the bedroom. He puts the toys in the drawer where all those things used to be kept for Butler. It causes a little pang of sadness but he keeps moving. He puts the leash and collar by the door for in the morning.

Gabriel sits on the couch watching Sam move around in his mundane activities. He’s lost in thoughts of all kinds of just desserts for Professor Nick Engel. He thinks again about erasing memories. It’s not possible, who knows who is involved now. Maybe he could just hide? Just stay inside Sam’s house and be invisible if anyone shows up?

No, he can’t do that. That’s not fair to Sam. Never going anywhere or doing anything with him outside his house? Sam likes to eat out too much for that. He smirks at that stupid thought. He can’t see a way to stay. He just can’t.

Sam plops down beside Gabe on the couch. “What are you thinking about?”

Gabe looks over into Sam’s handsome face. He sighs softly. No reason to even discuss it anymore.

“Positions.”

One side of Sam’s mouth turns up a little. “What do you have in mind?”

“Well, I was thinking about us on our knees, you behind me, see where that goes.”

Sam turns and swings his leg over Gabe’s lap. He’s so much taller that it doesn’t quite work, but he leans down to kiss him anyway.

Gabriel slides his hands around to tuck them in Sam’s back pockets. “Or we could give this couch a work out. Try to break it, that way you won’t feel guilty for replacing it.”

Sam laughs. “Not a bad idea.” He hears a soft rip and looks down. One of the cushions has a visible tear.

“Oops.” Gabriel squeezes Sam’s ass.

Sam grinds his hips a little. “It’s gonna have to be more than a tear, I think we have to break it.”

The center leg snaps and the couch collapses forward. Gabriel holds Sam in place on his lap.

“You’re right, you’re stronger than you look,” Sam laughs softly.

“Wanna break it some more or should we head to the pictures?”

“Well,” Sam tries to move but Gabe is holding him tightly, “I think it’s broken pretty good.”

“Yep, definitely needs replaced. Now, we were supposed to compare notes. What positions did you have in mind?”

“Uh, well-” Sam sits back a little in Gabe’s lap, “I was thinking about that one, where you were bent over. You were inside me while you sucked my-” Sam can feel the blush in his cheeks. He hates blushing, he’s not a teenager. This is ridiculous.

“Oh yes, that one. Can do, Samsquatch. I liked that one myself.”

Sam grins. “I imagine when you’re gone I’m gonna think back and not believe that was real. We have to save it for last though, I won’t last long in that one.”

“You know, I can keep you hard if you want.”

Sam’s not sure exactly what Gabe means. “Uh, yeah, I mean, it won’t take me long to get hard again after…” Sam trails off.

“No, I mean I can keep you hard,” Gabriel trails a finger over the seam of Sam’s jeans, right where his cock is.

Sam’s back arches involuntarily and he gasps, his cock instantly aching and uncomfortable in his jeans in this position. “Fuck,” Sam stands and immediately unzips his pants. “No, I didn’t know you could do that. How would I know?”

Gabriel looks at Sam’s cock stretching his underwear tight. It’s still tucked into his jeans, pulled to one side so it’s not totally visible.

“Well you knew I could heal, which is a kind of regeneration. Same thing as that.” He inclines his head at Sam’s crotch.

“You know the kind of money they could make off men who have erectile dysfunction if they can get that in a pill? No wonder they want your grace.”

Gabriel throws his head back in a laugh. “Never thought about that. Hell, I’d give it to them if that’s what it was for. There’d be a lot of happy people out there, I imagine.”

Sam slips a hand inside his open jeans and massages his cock. He’s hard as concrete. “Yeah, no shit.”

Gabriel is on his feet. He can’t watch Sam touch himself like that, it’s too much. “Let’s go,” he tugs Sam by the hand.

“Yeah, I’m ready,” Sam wants his jeans off right this second. He’s turned on, really, really, turned on. “I want out of these pants.” Even his balls are aching, like he’s got blue balls or something.

The minute they step into the office the lights flare to life and Gabriel snaps his fingers. Their clothes disappear and he hears Sam sigh in relief.

“On your knees,” Sam commands. His embarrassment is gone, replaced by a feverish desire.

Gabriel obeys. Sam kneels behind him, his legs spread wider so they’re outside of Gabriel’s. It brings them a little closer to the same height.

Sam grabs Gabe’s hands and lifts them out from their sides. He tucks his face into Gabe’s neck as he presses himself against his back.

“You said you like pain?” Sam asks softly.

“In certain settings I like a touch of pain, yes.”

Sam places his hands on the sides of the angel’s waist. He slides one big palm up his stomach and wraps his fingers around Gabe’s throat, pushing his head back. In photos it would look like he’s choking him but he’s not applying any pressure. His other hands slides down, brushing the base of Gabe’s hardening cock.

“What kind of pain?”

Gabriel wraps an arm up behind Sam’s head. “I like biting. Hair pulling,” he tugs Sam’s hair and smiles when Sam groans, “hands that grab so hard they leave bruises, rough sex so I really feel it on the inside, like you can do. That kinda thing.”

Sam shifts his hips lower, slotting his cock between the cheeks of Gabe’s ass. He grinds into him. This kind of talk is turning him on. Granted, talking about donuts would probably turn him on right now, he’s that hard. But Gabe likes the same things Sam does, and that's exactly what Sam wanted to hear.

He wraps his palm tightly around Gabe’s cock and jacks his hand. “Fuck I’m horny. Is that from what you did? I think I could get off just listening to you talk.”

“I might have had a little something to do with that.”

Sam holds Gabe’s head back and touches their lips together in a quick chaste kiss. “I want you so much.”

“Get on your hands and knees,” Gabriel says.

Sam doesn’t hesitate. He feels Gabe’s hands on his ass and there’s not a second for Sam to prepare. Gabe is instantly licking and sucking over Sam’s hole, teasing and flicking the ring of muscle. Sam won’t be able to take much of this.

“Oh fuck,” Sam whines.

Gabriel doesn’t let up. He starts with his fingers, slipping one inside while he uses his tongue around the outside. Sam’s groans tell him how much he likes it. He slips a second finger in and starts opening Sam up.

Sam grabs his dick, holding it tightly in his hand. He doesn’t let himself move, he knows he’ll come if he so much as slides his hand up and down. He needs pressure at the base though, so he squeezes his fingers around to try to hold himself back.

Gabriel has three fingers in Sam. He can feel Sam’s thighs trembling, his breathing fast.

“Gabe, please…”

Gabriel sits back on his knees. “Get on your back.”

Sam flips, looking up at Gabriel with wide pupils. His lips look swollen like he was biting them. Gabriel lays over him and kisses him long and hard. Sam’s hand fists in the back of his hair tightly and pull and the angel can’t control the quick flick of his hips.

He pulls himself away from Sam’s mouth and sits back on his knees again. He tugs Sam onto his lap and rubs his fingers against his palm, creating lube. He slicks himself well and then slowly sinks into Sam, watching his eyes close and his mouth part. A small crease forms between Sam’s eyes.

Sam’s legs wrap tight around his back, his feet locking together. His head pushes back, making his clavicles protrude and the little dip at the base of his throat hollow out. Gabriel’s hands tighten on Sam’s waist and he rubs his thumbs over the veins crossing Sam's hip bones.

“Fuck,” Sam breathes as Gabe slowly pushes into him.

“Beautiful, Sam. You’re so fucking beautiful.” Gabriel closes his eyes when he’s all the way inside, his balls pressed up to Sam’s skin.

“Come on,” Sam pleads.

Gabriel goes slow, shallow movements, watching Sam’s reactions so he knows when he hits his prostate. He eases into a faster rhythm, his hands holding on. Sam starts to reach for his cock but Gabriel slows down.

“No,” he tells Sam softly. He eases back and bends himself down, pulling Sam’s cock up. Sam has to uncross his feet to allow Gabriel to bend down enough. He slides his mouth down and the sound Sam makes is the most erotic thing Gabriel has ever heard. He starts moving in him again, making sure to hit that sweet spot.

“Fuck, Gabe, fuckkk, I can’t-” Sam’s hips lurch up into his mouth and he comes almost instantly.

Gabriel doesn’t stop. He can keep Sam hard and he can also give him as many orgasms as he wants. Sam stops one and the next one starts within seconds.

It rips through Sam almost violently. He yells, his face looks pained, veins standing out against blood rushed skin. His hands twist in his hair as his body rocks with Gabriel’s rhythm.

Gabriel swallows what he can and then lets Sam come down a little after the second one. He lays over him and kisses Sam’s chest, biting at his neck. Sam’s hands grip his hair.

“Deeper,” Sam whispers, knowing what Gabe wants.

Gabriel buries himself, biting Sam’s clavicle when his head thrashes back. He pushes his hand up onto Sam’s long neck, his fingers splayed wide. He grunts when Sam’s hands yank his hair and he pulls out and slams into him.

Sam locks his feet behind Gabe again. “Fuck me.”

Gabriel feels Sam's heels digging into his back, Sam's hands holding onto his neck and hair. He thrusts into Sam hard.

“Come on, faster,” Sam's body shoves hard each time Gabe moves. His hands are frantic, sliding over skin, gripping flesh tightly, slipping as he desperately tries to hold on.

Gabriel grabs them, pinning them down at the wrist as he slams into Sam without mercy.

“Oh fuck,” Sam's voice is high.

Gabriel loses his breath as he comes. He comes so hard that he wants to roar. He almost loses control of his grace, it wants to stretch and flare, but he holds it in. It takes everything he has, but it could hurt Sam so he controls it.

Sam comes again, his cock emptying between them. He's hoarse, he can't catch his breath and he's so sensitive that he almost hurts.

“I've never done that. I've never come untouched,” he finally says.

Gabriel smiles and nips at Sam's collarbone. He can feel Sam's dick between them, still hard and throbbing in the rhythm of Sam's heartbeat.

“Wanna do it again?”

Sam laughs into Gabe's hair. “Yeah, yes.”

“Got anymore positions to try?”

“I can think of a few.”

“Name one.”

“Me sitting with my back to the wall and you riding me.”

Gabriel lifts up, grinning at Sam. “Let's do this.”

And they do. They fuck for hours and then they take pictures of each other. They fuck again and then they lay on the floor laughing and talking. They hold each other, comfortable in the quiet. Eventually they climb the stairs to bed, exhausted and sore in all the best ways.

Chapter Text

Day 7

Sam startles awake the next morning from a nightmare. The details fuzz and fade quickly but he remembers Gabe in handcuffs, being led out of Sam's house by a group of authorities. He turned to look at Sam who was aching with helplessness. Gold eyes shining and pleading for Sam's help.

Sam jerks, his arm tightening around Gabe'S waist. He's spooned to the angel's back, holding him like he might try to get away.

“Sam?” Gabriel turns his head over his shoulder. Sam had yelled and clutched him before waking up. His heart is racing. Gabriel can actually feel it against his back.

“I’m okay, just a bad dream.” Sam tries to calm himself. Just a dream, nothing to worry about. Chill out, Sam.

“You yelled, what were you dreaming about?”

“I yelled?” Sam feels stupid now. He doesn’t think he’s ever yelled in his sleep before.

“Yes,” Gabriel rolls to his back so he can see Sam’s face. “Tell me about the dream.”

“I don’t know, it’s kinda fuzzy already. Something about you being arrested?”

Gabriel looks over Sam’s face closely. He seems to be calmer now. Gabriel places his palm over Sam’s heart. It’s slowing down, steady and strong.

“I’m sorry, it’s stupid right? I’m fine.”

Gabriel rests his head on Sam’s shoulder. “Not stupid. But they can’t arrest me, don’t worry about that.”

Sam nods. He slips his arm around Gabe, rubbing his back. Sam tugs the blankets up higher. The sun is up, shining through the curtains. Normally Sam would be itching to start the day but something just feels off. He doesn’t want to face it for some reason.

Gabriel turns, looking at Sam's neck.

“Oh shit, Samshine, I got a little carried away last night.” He sits up on his elbow and looks over Sam's neck and collar bones. They're covered in tiny bruises and hickeys.

“What do you mean?”

“Love bites. Bruises. There all over your neck.” He trails a finger under Sam's jaw. “I need to heal those; you won't want people seeing that.”

He leans down to kiss them but Sam puts a hand on his face. “No, I like them,” Sam admits softly.

He takes Sam's hand and kisses the palm. There's a bruise on his wrist too, from where Gabriel held his arms down.

“Sam,” he moves to kiss it but Sam pulls his arm away. “I know you like them, they turn me on too, but at least let me get rid of the ones from the neck up. That way you don't have to explain them, the rest we'll keep.”

Sam hesitates but finally tilts his head back to allow access.

Gabe's mouth is soft on his skin; he feels the warm gentle touch of his tongue every once in a while.

Gabriel finishes one side and then straddles Sam to reach the other. He feels Sam, hard and pressing against the flesh of Gabriel's thigh. Sam's neck has short stubble on it and it tickles his mouth.

“Did I hurt you? All these bruises- I didn't mean to-”

Sam's hands slide around his hips, pulling him higher.

“No, you didn't hurt me.” Sam's fingers massage Gabe's lower back.

Gabriel takes his time, a lot longer than really needed. He kisses every centimeter of Sam's neck, down across his clavicles, paying special attention to that little dip in his throat. He shifts his body slowly, moving so that Sam's cock is lined up just right. He concentrates and creates lube, it's hard to do without his hands but Sam seems lost in the feeling of Gabriel's mouth on his neck and he doesn't want to disturb that.

Sam relaxes under Gabe's touch. The healing warmth sinking into his skin. The Angel's hands on his sides, sliding up his arms, under his chin to tilt his head back more. There's so much tenderness in the touch that Sam could weep from it.

He feels so strongly for this man, it's grown beyond a simple attraction, the school boy feeling of a crush. No, this is bigger, it's stronger. This is trust, a kind of harmony, it's love, and Sam knows it.

Gabriel gradually sinks down, working himself open, up and down, little by little. Sam's big hands hold him, strong but somehow gentle too.

This is different than the night before. This is slower, calmer, it doesn't have that desperate, almost frantic edge to it. This is about connecting, feeling each other with more than just gripping hands and sucking mouths. This is patient, sacred in a way that is foreign to Gabriel and for the first time he realizes he's making love to someone.

He rides Sam slowly, holds Sam's hands, kisses him, touches him, and Sam returns it all. He feels his orgasm building, the anticipation coiling as it pools in his belly. He can tell Sam is getting close too, his eyes half closed as he stares at Gabriel, his lips parted as his breath comes faster and faster.

He watches Sam's face as he comes. He looks pained, his eyes close, biting his lip. He groans, his veins straining in his neck while his hands press into Gabriel's skin.

Feeling Sam coming inside him, the heat and slickness of it, he can't hold back. He comes without even touching his cock, spilling himself on Sam's stomach. He says Sam's name, he whispers it like a prayer.

Sam pulls Gabriel down, wrapping his arms tightly around his waist. He lets himself catch his breath, afraid to speak with all the things he's feeling. He finally tries.

“Gabe, I -” but he doesn't get the words out. They stop, sticking as his voice cracks.

“I know, Sam” Gabriel says. He's pretty sure Sam was going to say I love you. As much as he wants to hear those words he's also sure that it'll break him if he does. “Me too,” he whispers.

“Can we run? Why can't we just hide until this blows over?”

Gabriel tries to sit up to look at Sam but Sam's arms tighten.

Sam knows Gabe won't go for this idea but he has to at least try.

Gabriel stays quiet for a long time, thinking, deciding what to say and how to say it. When he finally speaks his voice is calm and steady.

“No, Sam. Not because I don’t want to, but because this will never blow over. They would never stop looking. And that's no life, I've lived that life for longer than I care to admit. It's not fun, it's not exciting, it's not romantic. It's scary and lonely and it's not a good life. You don't want to live like that, Sam. You don't want to hide. I don't want you to live like that. Me leaving isn't because I don't want to stay, it's because I want better for you. Okay?”

Sam cries. Gabriel can tell because of the erratic rise and fall of Sam's chest. He lies quietly on top of Sam and lets Sam hold him closely. Eventually Sam speaks again.

“Okay, I understand.”

“You wanna stay like this or are we gonna go pick up your dog?”

Sam laughs, a little forced but not totally. “He's not my dog, I'm just fostering him.” He loosens his arms and let's Gabe look down at him.

“Mmmm hmm. Sure.” Gabriel closes his eyes when Sam places a palm on his cheek. “You should let me get rid of the bruises on your wrist, Sam.”

“You said anything from the neck down could stay.”

“People will ask questions.”

“I don't care.”

“Promise me something.”

“Anything.”

“If they try to get blood from you don't let them, whatever you have to do, just don't let them. Not right away. Healing you will leave traces of my grace in you, understand?”

“Yeah, I won't let them. I promise.”

“Good, now go get ready so we can pick up your dog.”

Sam kisses him, long and soft, and then he rolls away and heads to the bathroom. He showers and dresses and finds Gabe in the living room sitting on the broken couch.

“You better get new furniture, pronto. There's nowhere else to sit in here.”

Sam shakes his head. “Let's go.”

“What, no food?”

“I'm not hungry.” He grabs the new leash and collar by the door and they head out.

The walk is slow and quiet. Everything is touched with a tinge of sadness and no matter how much he tries Sam can't shake it. Gabe holds his hand and stays silent.

When Sam opens the door to the rescue and steps inside he looks at the two women sitting there and simply says, “I'm here to speak to someone about fostering a dog.”

The women are so excited, they yell and laugh and hug him too many times to count. Gabe stands beside him for it all, holding his hand, quiet and supportive.

When Missouri leads Sam down to another office Pamela looks at him and nods her head toward the hall.

“Go on, go see your girl.”

Gabriel does as he's told. He holds her and lays how she likes and tries to soak up as much of her love as he can. Sam may be a dream come true but he knows this isn't a fantasy world. His time here is drawing to a close and this is probably the last time he'll see this little dog. He keeps himself calm for her sake, doesn't want his emotions to upset her.

Sam comes in a little later and joins them.

“I think we’re about ready.” He lies down. He should be excited starting this new adventure, but he’s sad looking at Gabe with this dog he so obviously cares about. He wishes he could do or say something to make him feel better.

The door opens and Sam raises his head. Pamela is struggling to control Reis, he’s trying to get through the door to get to Sam. She loses her grip on the leash and he bounds inside. It happens so fast and Sam is afraid Reis will lunge at the smaller dog, step on her or scare her. Sam bolts to a sitting position.

Gabriel calmly raises his hand. Reis drops to a crawl, instantly calm. He wiggles closer slowly, trying to appear smaller and less intimidating.

Abby stands on Gabriel’s chest. She sniffs the air in Reis’s direction and then jumps to the floor. She approaches him cautiously, holding first one and then the other front leg in the air. Her tail is tucked but still wagging.

Reis pushes his nose out and she sniffs it.

Sam is holding his breath. She is smaller than Reis’s head, if he opened his mouth and clamped down he could snap her in half.

Reis’s huge nose can be heard. He sniffs her loudly. He stays down but his tail is wagging.

She drops her front legs into a play bow. Reis’s tail thumps the floor and he woofs soft and low. She spins excitedly and he licks her face with his huge tongue.

Sam feels his anxiety flutter away. He smiles hesitantly, not believing what he’s seeing. Abby hops and plays and Reis slaps his paws in her direction but doesn’t seem to really try to make contact. He’s playing with her in a way that won’t hurt her, and she loves it.

Sam looks at Gabe. He’s still laying on his back with his eyes closed like he’s not concerned in the least.

Pamela is standing in the doorway looking like she might cry tears of joy. She looks at Sam and smiles, shaking her head in disbelief.

“Gabe, you should see this,” Sam whispers.

“They’re fine, Sam. They’re dogs, they figure it out on their own. People cause more issues between dogs than dogs do.”

Sam watches the dogs again. It doesn’t take long until Reis lazily rolls to his side. Abby tucks herself between his legs and chest and sighs contentedly.

“You know what,” Sam stands up and brushes off his pants, “fuck it. Give me adoption papers on them both.”

Pamela lights up like a kid in a candy store. She actually jumps up and down.

“Sam! Are you sure?! I’m so excited!” She claps her hands looking at the dogs. “Okay, let me go pull the papers, I’ll bring them to you.”

“No, I’ll come with you,” Sam start to follow her but he stops when Gabriel sits up, looking at him.

Gabriel stands and looks up at Sam with a face full of emotion. “You don’t have to do this, Sam. If you don’t want her-”

Sam kisses his quickly, cutting him off.

Pamela squeals, still standing in the doorway.

“I wouldn’t take her if I didn’t want her. I didn’t want to suggest it because I was afraid it wouldn’t work and I couldn’t bear to see you disappointed. But it works,” he looks at the dogs, “they’re good. This is good.”

Gabe’s hand touches Sam’s face gently and he looks down at him again.

“Thank you,” Gabriel whispers. The words don’t seem big enough for what he’s feeling.

“I’ll be back,” Sam presses a quick kiss to Gabe’s cheek and then follows Pamela from the room.

Gabriel plops himself in a chair and stares at the animals. The relief he feels is huge.

“Hey you two, get over here.”

The dogs stand and saunter over, tails wagging. They sit in front of Gabriel, ears perked and ready to listen.

“Okay we need to have a talk. I want you both all ears, got it?”

Reis whines and Abby cocks her head.

“Good. Now, Sam is going to be your new Dad, you understand that, right?”

Tail thumping all around.

“Yeah, he’ll be a good Dad. You both hit the jackpot. I want you both to be good for him, you hear me?”

Both dogs lay down, heads raised, giving him their full attention.

“That’s good. You’re both good dogs. I wish I could stay with you,” his voice cracks and betrays him.

Reis sits up and whines. Abby stands and places his paws on his shin. He picks her up and Reis lays his head heavily on Gabriel’s knee. He takes a minute to compose himself.

“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here. I have to leave soon. You two have to take care of Sam for me.” He looks back and forth between the dogs, making eye contact with both.

They’re listening attentively.

“He’s got some kids that he really loves. They’re special kids. Very special. You love those kids like you love Sam, that’s really important.”

He rubs his palm over Abby’s head, a soft blue light shining from his palm. He does the same to Reis. He connects some synapses that are usually lacking in dogs. It gives them a higher reasoning ability than most, and a much higher intelligence. Nothing to set off radar’s, they won’t be doing algebra, but the people who get to know them will all notice how smart they are.

“Ok, just one more thing before Sam comes back.” He slides his palm over Abby’s chest, that same blue light creeping out. He repeats this with Reis.

Reis and Abby sigh.

“Be good for him, promise me.” Gabriel can’t help the tears streaming down his cheeks.

Abby places her tiny paws on his chest and licks his nose. Reis stands up and does the same.

He sets her on the floor. “Ok, as you were. Not a word about this, you two better be able to keep a secret.” He winks and smiles when they bark at him.

They lay down again and he wipes his face, trying to get himself together before Sam returns. He manages. Barely.

Sam comes back in with a leash looped on itself.

“We’re gonna borrow this while we walk her home. We’ll have to go shopping for her later.” Sam sits heavily in the chair beside Gabe, his hand on Gabriel’s thigh.

“We had a talk while you were gone.”

“Oh really? About what?”

“Space time continuum mostly, but we got into a little string theory there for a second.”

Sam chuckles. “With you? I wouldn’t doubt it.”

“They’ll be good, Sam. They promised.”

“Yeah, I know they will. I tell ya, the thing that really scares me is that the big lug won’t live long. I mean, I don’t want to be morbid but dogs that size don’t usually live past eight.”

Gabriel pats Sam’s hand. “You never know, he might surprise you.”

“Yeah, I hope so.”

Missouri appears in the doorway. She looks down at the two dogs laying together and her face melts.

“Oh my word, I’ve never seen anything so sweet. Can you believe it?”

Sam nods. “Hey sleepy heads,” he says to the dogs, “you guys ready to go home? Plenty of time to sleep there.”

They’re on their feet and wiggling around Sam in seconds. He stands up and slips the leash over Abby’s head for the walk home.

“Missouri, would you snap a picture of us?”

“Oh, baby, you know I will. Give me the phone,” She takes the phone after Sam brings the camera up.

Sam and Gabriel kneel down. Reis sits beside Sam and Gabriel holds Abby in his arms. They smile big, both genuinely happy.

Missouri admires her photo before she hands it back to Sam. Sam grins when he looks at his phone and wraps his arm around Missouri appreciatively. He turns the phone to Gabe so he can see the photo.

“I need a copy of that,” Gabe says as he kisses Abby’s head.

“Okay, let’s get them home,” Sam heads out of the holding room and through the office, thanking Missouri and Pamela profusely. He’ll be back next week to play with the dogs he assures them.

He and Gabe walk leisurely down the street.

“Thanks again, Sam. Really, I can’t thank you enough. I’m so glad she’ll be taken care of.” Gabriel sits Abby down so she can walk beside Reis, the dogs between them.

“I’m so happy I can give her a home, Gabe. Stop thanking me. I just hope she likes the kids.”

“She will, I know it. Just watch them.”

Sam nods, smiling down that the dogs. They’re a strange pair but somehow they seem like old friends.

They walk at Abby’s pace. It’s slow going because both dogs want to smell everything. And Reis wants to pee on everything too.

“Oh man, I hope she doesn’t walk under him when he hikes his leg,” Sam jokes.

“She won’t. They’re pretty smart.” Gabriel winks at him.

Sam’s phone rings. He pulls it out but doesn’t recognize the number. “Hey, you mind if I take this? I’m expecting a call about a contract I’m working on.”

Gabriel nods as they start moving again. He’s looking around, taking in the now familiar streets. They’ll be familiar to these dogs soon too.

“I’m sorry, hello? You’re cutting out,” Sam is saying into the phone. “Yes, I hear you. George? Is that you professor?” Sam stops walking. Both dogs sit.

Gabriel feels like ice slides up his spine. Every instinct tells him this isn’t good. And his instincts are usually right.

“George? You cut out again. Okay, yeah- I hear you. What’s going on?” Sam drops his head and places a finger in his other ear to hear better, trying to drown out noise from cars driving by.

“What do you mean they’re coming, who’s on their way?”

Gabriel touches a hand to Sam’s arm, trying to get his attention.

“Are you ser-” Sam stops talking and listens.

Gabriel can hear catch parts of what George is saying.

I’m probably risking my marriage tipping you off to this, Sam, but it’s not right. It’s not legal. They’ll be there within an hour-”

Gabriel tries to get Sam’s attention again. “Sam, hang up the phone.”

Sam holds a finger up to Gabe, trying to hear the details George is giving him.

Gabriel squats down by the dogs. “That’s my cue, kids. You remember our talk, okay? Everything you promised?” He rubs their heads and they whine.

Sam turns away from Gabriel and the dogs, trying to focus on the poorly connected phone call.

Gabriel stands up. This is probably for the best. He doesn’t think he could really say goodbye to Sam even if he could get him to hang up. And Sam is going to be in a panic, he’ll try to get Gabriel to stay, to fight, to run, to hide. Gabriel can’t have that conversation again.

He waits until a woman passes them on the sidewalk and then glances around them. He looks at Sam’s back. God dammit, I love him. He has to go. Now. If he doesn’t he never will.

He snaps.

Sam feels a wind from behind him. He hears a paper rip loose from a lamp post and it glides out into the street, whipped around by traffic. He looks behind him without thinking.

The dogs are sitting perfectly still, both sets of eyes locked on Sam. Their leashes are lying loose on the concrete. He looks up and down the sidewalk.

Where the hell is Gabe?

The professor is still talking in his ear. Sam isn’t hearing any of it now.

“Gabe?” Sam turns in a circle. He looks around frantically. There’s a woman a half a block down walking away from him but that’s it.

He raises his voice. “Gabe!” He calls out.

Nothing.

He turns in a circle again. He has to be somewhere, he has to be.

“GABRIEL?!” He yells.

“Sam? Is everything okay? What’s happening?”

The voice in his ear makes his gut flip, he feels like he’s going to throw up. It would sound exactly like Gabe if it weren’t for that accent.

Sam feels the strength drain from his legs, his knees threaten to give out. Reis stands and approaches. Sam’s hand absently lands on his head.

“Sam- are you there, can you hear me? What’s happening?”

Sam focuses on the phone again. “He’s gone, professor.” Sam says matter-of-factly. He wants to end this call, wants to be off the phone. Now. Right now.

“Gone? What do you mean?”

“I mean he’s gone. I can’t talk right now, I’m sorry.” He hangs up the call and picks up Abby. “Let’s go,” he says to Reis. He doesn’t pick up the leash. He isn’t thinking clearly enough to remember that.

Gabriel stands in Sam’s office. He looks around slowly. He figures he’s got 15, maybe 20 minutes before either Sam or the police show up. Hell, maybe it won’t be the police, maybe it’s the government. Doesn’t matter really. He has work to do.

He snaps. The fabric is gone, discarded. The photography lights are down and in the closet, Sam might want those for something. The tripods are put away too.

He walks to the computer. He puts the SD cards from the cameras in and transfers the pictures. There’s so many pictures that he has to give it a little boost to speed it up. The he snaps up a flash drive, one with an unprecedented amount of memory. He slides it in Sam’s computer and in a blink the pictures are copied over.

He tucks the drive into his pocket. He touches the computer again and safely secures the photos from prying eyes. He doesn’t want anyone to know what he and Sam’s relationship was unless Sam sees fit to tell them. He imagines whoever is coming is going to search every detail of Sam’s life.

He walks to the living room. He snaps and puts a big supply of special small breed dog food and treats in Sam’s pantry. There’s small matching dog beds in place beside both of Reis’s in the living room and Sam’s bedroom. He puts a pink collar and leash on her downstairs bed so Sam will see it right away. There’s also toys for her mixed in with Reis’s.

He leaves a new collar for Reis as well, both of them adorned with some special bling.

And then he picks up the pad of paper and the pen that Sam had tossed on the table the day before. He sits at the kitchen island and tries to think quickly. He hasn’t put pen to paper in so long, he doesn’t know where to start.

Sam,
A couple key points before I say what I really want to say.

1) Our dogs are a little smarter than usual. Definitely too smart for their own good. They’re also going to live longer than usual. Hopefully you’ll thank me for that someday.

2) I encrypted some sensitive files on your computer just in case it’s searched. To be safe I won’t say the password here. I’m going to hide this letter but just in case they show up before I’m planning- I’ll only say this. The password is a five letter word for my signature. Let’s hope you have a good memory. Now- on to the important stuff.

This is harder than I thought it would be, kiddo. Please don't hate me for not saying goodbye. I wanted to, I tried, but I'm weak. If you asked me one more time to stay I don't think I could deny you, and I know that staying is the wrong decision here. I've made a lot of bad decisions in my life and I don't want you tangled up in my mess.

I owe you so much, Sam. I jumped in here without a second thought for who I might meet or what might happen and what I found was something so beautiful that I can’t believe it. I found happiness. I found you.

The happiness in these days with you is something I’ve never had. You’ve shown me kindness that I’ve never known before, kindness that I certainly don’t deserve and that I’m sure I’ll never find again.

I don’t want you to think that because I left I don’t feel anything for you. I think you know better than that but I want to reassure you. What I feel is so big, so strong, so much that it overwhelms me. I look at you and I can't think, I can't breathe... and as much as I want to stay and try to show you each and every day for the rest of your life exactly how much you mean to me, my feelings are also why I have to leave.

I don’t want to Sam. I want to stay. I want to fight. I want to love you so fiercely that I think it would scare you. But I can’t. You have a life. A good life, with people who love you, they need you. I can’t stay and destroy that. I won’t do that to you, or to them.

You deserve better than that- better than me. I have to leave. I have to make myself leave. I can’t be selfish. I won’t ruin your life.

I want you to be happy, Sam. I know you can be happy again. You will.

I’m going home now. I’ll never jump again. If I did, it would only be in hopes of coming back to you and I don’t think that’s possible. No one gets that lucky twice.

Take care of yourself. Take care of the dogs. They’re gonna love you extra since I can’t be there to do it.

Please don’t ever doubt my love, Samshine.

I love you,
-Your Gabe

 

Gabriel folds the letter and walks it to the table behind the couch. He presses his thumb to it and seals it, infusing a little magic. The paper disappears. That should last until morning. Sam’s home should be empty by then.

He turns in a circle. He tries to memorize every detail of Sam’s home. The kitchen where they spent so much time talking. The cool, mirrored TV. The photos of Dean’s family and Sam’s parents. The broken couch.

He tells himself to stop stalling. Stop putting off the inevitable, no matter how much he knows it’ll hurt.

There’s a knock at the door. That’s the authorities, it has to be.

He focuses his power and draws it up, pushing it into a focal point that warps space. It grows and opens, it seems like it takes minutes but it’s really seconds. He glances around one more time…

And then he steps inside, sucked away from Sam and his world forever.

*********************************

Sam approaches his house slowly. There's a group of men standing at his door. He considers walking on by but the one who's continuously knocking looks at him and he knows he's been recognized.

The guy meets him on the sidewalk. He extends his hand rather aggressively.

“Mr. Winchester, I'm agent Roman. We're here to execute a search warrant of your premises.” He pulls a badge from his pocket and tries show it to Sam.

Sam ignores it. “Let me see the paperwork.”

Another man steps forward and hands Sam papers.

Sam stands on his sidewalk, he reads them slowly, knowing it's irritating to the agents. They're a mix of FBI and Homeland Security. There's a warrant for Sam's home and computer. There's also an arrest warrant for Gabriel, no last name listed.

Sam doesn't say a word. He walks to his door with Abby tucked in his arm and Reis at his side. He realizes he's not even holding Reis' leash, Reis is actually carrying the end of his leash in his mouth so he won't step on it.

Sam unlocks the door and leaves it open behind him. He tosses his keys aside and walks into the living room. He spots the small dog bed immediately. His heart jumps into his throat.

He crosses the room and picks up the pink collar and leash. The tag has a strange etching on it, the other side has Sam's name and phone number.

He was here. He left me and came here. Is he still here?

Sam tries to hide any emotion. He slips the collar on Abby and sets her down. He puts the new collar with a matching tag on Reis.

He looks around, watching the men meticulously take his home apart. They're split into groups, each taking a room. The ones in the living room are looking inside picture frames, behind his TV, under the dog beds, in the cushions of his broken couch.

Agent Roman enters the room.

“You will not destroy my home during this search. I expect everything to be left exactly like you found it. I've seen what's left after a police search, don't even try it.”

“Of course not, Sam. Can I call you Sam?” He tries to shake Sam's hand again, smiling a smarmy smile.

“No, you can't.”

He tucks his hand in his pocket. “Okay, well feel free to call me Dick.”

Sam doesn't answer.

“I'd like to ask you some questions, Mr. Winchester.”

“Is this a formal questioning?”

“Not at the moment, no. But I'd appreciate it if you'd cooperate.”

Sam stares at him.

“I need to know where Gabriel is. Do you know his whereabouts?”

“He's gone.”

“Where did he go?”

“Home? I couldn't really tell you, he didn't say goodbye.”

“Where is his home?”

“Not here. Nick Engel has the same answers to these questions. He knows as much as I do, ask him.”

“Oh I have, I'd just like to hear your answers.”

“Comparing notes?”

“Yes.”

“Where did you say his home is?”

“Another universe.”

“Any idea how he came here?”

“None.”

Dick nods. “Ok, I'm told you're aware he can heal people.”

Sam is stone faced.

“Did he heal you?”

He's asking because he already knows the answer. “Yes.”

“We'd like to get a blood sample from you if you'll consent-”

“I will not.”

Dick looks him over. His eyes drift to the dogs lying in their beds behind Sam.

“Those your dogs?”

“Obviously.” Sam has an attitude. He doesn't try to hide it.

Dick nods. “I'm guessing you're not going to be very helpful, Mr. Winchester.”

Sam wants out of this conversation. He wants to look around for anything he might need to hide. Like the fucking cameras. He's itching to get to his office.

“Right. I'd like you to compile a list of anyone who came into contact with this Gabriel. We'll need to question them.”

“Compile your own list. I'm sure you're investigating me, you know who my friends and family are.”

“You're very helpful, I appreciate your compliance in this investigation.”

Fuck you, you fucking prick. Sam walks away without a word.

His office stops him in his tracks. The fabric, the lights, the cameras set up, it's all gone. The cameras are sitting side by side on his desktop. He hears a clatter in the closet and looks over to see an agent fumbling with one of the photography lights.

“You break it you bought it, and those weren't cheap,” Sam says. Technically they were free. He put it all away. All of it. Something about this eases Sam's fears. He feels like Gabe helped protect him.

He wanders to the kitchen to find something to eat. He's not hungry but there's nothing else to do until the search is done.

He eats. He sits precariously on his broken couch and watches TV. He takes the dogs out. The search is thorough and takes hours. Agent Roman tries to question him several times. Most of the questions Sam can't answer and the rest he ignores.

Except one. He only lies in response to one.

“How did you get that bruise on your wrist, Mr. Winchester?”

Sam looks down, studying the blue and purple mark encircling his arm. He doesn't have to answer but the words are out before he thinks about it.

“The dog. Had the leash around my wrist and he yanked.”

Agent Roman looks at Reis lying in his bed. The dog blinks at him.

“He's a big guy. I imagine he could do some damage.”

“Not intentionally.”

The agent nods and wanders away. He bought it.

It's after dark when they finally wrap up. Agent Roman approaches Sam one last time.

“Just one more thing, we’ll need to search your cell phone. I have a tech-“

“No.” It’s an absolute refusal from Sam.

“Mr. Winchester, we have a warrant-“

“You have a warrant for my home and computer, that’s all. If you want to search my phone you need to contact a judge, that wasn’t listed in your original warrant. They’ll have to issue a new one.”

Dick Roman isn’t hiding his irritation. “Right. We’re done for now.”

Sam doesn’t reply. He follows them to the door and locks it behind them.

He turns and immediately climbs the stairs. He’s not even to the top step before he’s crying. He crawls into bed feeling empty and alone.

The dogs jump up and situate themselves against him.

“You guys aren’t supposed to be on the bed.” He gently pets them, feeling less hollow inside. “Ok, just this once.”

He manages some sleep. It’s restless; he wakes several times and immediately starts crying. He has to yank on the blankets to keep himself covered because Reis is laying on them. It’s like trying to move a mountain.

**************************************************
Gabriel lands in the same shithole office building that he'd jumped out of. It's dark and empty, obviously after hours.

He collapses, not out of exhaustion, although he's tired too, but the grief over leaving Sam knocks the wind out of him. He sits on his knees on the cheap office carpet, the mix of sadness and anger boiling in him threatening to overflow.

“Fuck this God forsaken world,” he mutters, the words full of spite. “I should end it.”

He should. He should flip it on its axis; make Hell rain down upon it. Literally. Why does he have to live this pathetic existence? Alone, constantly hiding, never able to be happy?

Why? Why me, father? Do you hate me? What did I do?

Sobs wrack through him, his shoulders slumping in. “WHY?!” He screams in rage at no one.

Papers explode from filing cabinets, phones fly off of desks, staplers embed themselves in the cheap drywall. His rage is a force like a storm. It's wrathful and it pours out of him like a river. He shouldn't have the juice left for this kind of power but the anger fuels him.

He should bring this building down, wipe the miserable place off the face of the planet. His anger threatens it, but he reels it in. He stops his tears sometime in the hours around dawn. He sits, catatonic and invisible in the middle of the floor. Employees make their way in as the sun comes up.

“What the hell happened?” Dickhead Bill asks.

“It looks like we've been vandalized. Debbie already called the cops, they're on their way,” some woman says as she gingerly steps around papers.

“Why would someone break in here? This place is a shithole, no one wants in here,” Bill mutters.

Gabriel laughs. His laugh is bitter and angry. For the first time Bill and I actually agree on something. He laughs even harder. This calls for a celebration.

He snaps his fingers and balloons and confetti pour from the ceiling. Party horns start an ungodly cacophony.

“What the fuck?” Bill yells.

The staff shuffles back outside to escape the never ending torrent. Eventually there are balloons packed to the ceiling.

Gabriel realizes he's probably losing his mind. He doesn't care. He sits there for days, refilling the balloons as they try to clean them up.

Four nights in and he hears popping from down the hall.

It's close to midnight, who would that be?

He sees flashlights bobbing around, searching.

“I dunno, could be a poltergeist.”

The deep voice sets off all his alarms. He stands for the first time since he got back. He stays hidden.

“It seems awful celebratory for a poltergeist, are the usually this whimsical?” The voice is rough and gravely.

He should leave, he should, but he's frozen.

“Hell, I dunno, Cas. Not like I've met every poltergeist on the fucking planet.”

He watches as Dean Winchester and Castiel round the corner. They can't see him but he sees them plain as day. Dean looks irritated and Cas is ignoring him.

“If you look under the balloons things look violent,” Cas says, pulling a stapler from the wall.

“What the hell is going on?” Dean looks at Cas. He holds up a phone with a tape dispenser lodged into the center.

“Hey, Sammy! Come look down here!”

Gabriel's heart races when he hears the name. He tries to move, or run, jump, leave, anything. He can't, he's frozen.

“What is it, Dean?”

The voice is close, approaching the door. Just the sound of it makes him yearn, he pines for Sam.

Gabriel, you have to move. Leave, it's not him. GO.

He sees an arm swing through the door holding a flashlight up.

He snaps. He's standing somewhere in Beijing. He looks around him, his heart threatening to explode.

He can't do that again. He won't. He’ll hide from this Sam for the rest of his days, the pain is too much.

He wanders the city. Alone in a place full of millions of people. He's so bitter. He resents this world, his life, everything and everyone around him.

He goes on. Day by day, week by week. Surviving. Coping. Hiding.

Sam

Sometime early the next morning he finally gives up and stumbles out of bed. The dogs follow him downstairs and he lets them into the back yard. He’s standing in the kitchen making coffee when he sees something lying on the black table in the living room. At first he thinks one of the agents forgot their paperwork, but something gold catches his eye.

He wanders over. The paper is sealed with gold wax; the same symbol from the dog's tags is pressed into it. He gently picks up the letter and carefully unsticks the seal, keeping it intact. When he opens it and sees the tightly written script he sinks to the floor, the strength in his legs sliding away.

He reads the letter through tear-filled eyes. He reads it over and over. He’s both hurt and happy. Hurting for what he lost and happy that Gabe said good bye. He said he loves him. Sam wishes he could say it back.

He finally gets off the floor when the dogs bark at the back door. He studies them. Smarter than average, huh?

He busies himself with breakfast. Fighting tears. He makes himself shower quickly and then comes downstairs again. He panics when the dogs are gone.

They’re nowhere to be found. They don’t come when he calls. His house isn’t that big, they couldn’t have gotten lost in another wing for shit’s sake. He hears a woof at the back door.

He bolts to it and flings it open. Reis is standing there wagging his tail.

“How did you get outside?”

Abby prances over looking pleased with herself.

Reis steps around the door into the house. He pushes the door shut with his nose, leaving Abby outside.

She barks.

The handle on the door isn’t a knob, it’s a long lever that’s almost the same height as the dog. Reis gently places his teeth on the lever, he moves it down and pulls it back and Abby steps inside. He pushes the door shut again.

“What the…” Sam stares at the dogs, both now sitting perfectly and looking back at him. “What have I gotten myself into?”

He heads to his office shaking his head in disbelief. He’d made himself wait to look at these pictures. When he realized Gabe had cleaned up yesterday he’d assumed that the angel had deleted them. And it’s strange that no one asked him for a password to access locked files yesterday. He’d have to disclose that in compliance with the warrant. The more he thinks on it the more curious he gets.

He sits down in front of the computer and powers it on. It’s like the computer recognizes it’s him. It immediately asks for a password. He’s never locked anything on his computer before.

He slowly types in the letters, sigil. Image files jump open at him. There have to be thousands. More than the memory limit on his SD cards, that's for sure. There's so many pictures, from impossible angles, there wasn't even a camera on that side of the room, he thinks.

He flips through. “Oh my- no way,” he says to the empty room. He clicks on a file. “Oh shit… how?” There's video, complete with sound. How did he do this? The question isn't worth asking really. It's not answerable. How did Gabe do any of the unbelievable things Sam had seen him do?

He looks at pictures for hours and he's not even made a dent. He spends days looking at pictures. He prints some off, some of the tame ones. He prints the one of him and Gabe with the dogs too. He buys a frame for it and puts it on the table with his family pictures.

The investigation dies. Nothing comes of it. He becomes increasingly convinced that Agent Dick Roman doesn't even believe Gabe was real. Sam doesn't care.

The dogs keep him busy. The days turn into weeks. He buys a couch. A recliner, a really big one. He redecorates the whole house, slowly but surely. He replaces black and grey with warm earthy colors. He heals. He misses Gabe but what can he do? He's going to live the life that Gabe wanted him to have.

Chapter Text

Six Months Later

Sam is standing in Dean’s kitchen watching Abby out the back door as she relieves herself. She does it as quickly as possible. She hates the snow with a passion. He cracks the door and she shivers her way inside.

He follows her as she zips into the living room. He leans into the door frame and watches her. He still can’t believe his eyes sometimes. He can’t believe how much those silly dogs enrich his life.

Reis is sprawled on the floor in front of Dean’s roaring fireplace, five kids lying around him as he snores, their heads propped on him as a pillow. The kids have played in the snow all day, had a big dinner and now they're groggy and fighting sleep as they watch movies.

Abby slips in beside Mary, curling into her tummy. She loves Mary and Mary loves her. Mary talks to her and tells her special stories; she babies the dog and treats her like a princess.

Exactly like Gabe would have, Sam thinks. He smiles at that thought. He wishes he could tell Gabe about Mary and Abby. About how she'd called him yesterday, all excited about the snow in the forecast.

“Uncle Sammy! We're gonna play in the snow and build snowmen, will you come too?”

“I might, Mary, but it's supposed to snow a whole bunch. What if I get stuck there?”

She giggled with delight. “Mommy said we could have a slumber party! Abby could spend the night and sleep in my room!”

Sam had laughed. “What about me and Reis? Where will we sleep?”

She was quiet for a second and then he could hear her whispering to Anna.

“Mommy said on the couch!”

Sam couldn't resist, she was too excited. “Slumber party it is, Mary.”

He could just see her jumping up and down in delight. Gabe should be here for this. He wishes he could tell Gabe about everything in his life.

He hears Dean behind him in the kitchen and he turns around.

Dean is looking into the living room.

“Those dogs of yours, man. Sometimes there’s something strange about them.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know. It’s like they look at you and they just know or something. It’s fucking weird.” Dean fakes a shiver.

“Oh whatever, Dean. You never were a dog person.”

Dean looks hurt. “That’s not true. I just never wanted a dog. There’s a difference.”

Sam shakes his head. He’s not having this argument again. It’s pointless.

“Seriously, man. I was watching Deanna earlier, we have to watch her like a hawk . She's into everything right now. She's started pulling drawers out on the buffet and climbing it, she's not afraid of anything. I need to pick up some of those hook things to keep the drawers from opening, those childproof things,” Dean snaps his fingers trying to remember the name.

“Anyway, I was watching her and the big one walked into the dining room. I watched to see what he was doing. Every time she'd try to pull out the drawer he'd kinda bump her tummy with his nose, real gentle like, and she'd fall back on her butt. She thought it was hilarious and it went on for like five minutes, like it was a game or something. At one point she was laughing so hard she could hardly breathe. She finally forgot about the drawer and tottered off and then your dog looked at me-”

“Reis, Dean. His name is Reis.”

“Yeah, that one. He looked at me and I think he was judging me, Sammy. Like I wasn't going to stop her from opening the drawer or something. I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm a bad parent.”

Sam stifles the urge to laugh. “Are you serious? You think my dog was judging you?”

“I'm just saying, man. Your dogs are weird.” He turns and walks away from the door.

“So, how’s the job?” Dean leans into the counter and crosses his ankles.

“It’s good. They’re not overwhelming me, just letting me take the cases I want. I’m glad to be back in the office. I missed the people,” Sam leans over the counter, “Hannah got engaged last week.”

“Oh, no shit? To that balloon guy you mentioned?”

“Yeah, Ash. She’s so happy. He had me get them a reservation at La Maisonette and he popped the question.”

“That’s cool,” Dean nods. “How’s Charlie? She still seeing your friend?”

“Jess? Yeah. She calls me every day too. Charlie is so freaked she’s going to do something and fuck it up, she’s paranoid. It drives me crazy.”

This is something else Sam wishes he could tell Gabe about. Charlie and Jess have been dating for two months, that’s a record for Charlie. They’re completely infatuated with each other.

“Jess calls me too, it’s ridiculous. Both of them called me the other day to tell me they had sex for the first time. I hung up with Charlie who just got done telling me not to say anything to Jess and then Jess called. What the fuck?” Sam snorts.

“Who’s having sex?” Jimmy wanders in from the den.

“Charlie and Jess, finally. They’re taking things slow, so this was a big deal.”

“Well good for them, at least someone is having sex. It’s sure not happening at my house.”

Dean laughs and Sam looks at Jimmy questioningly. Jimmy seems to read his expression.

“No marital troubles. Bart is having nightmares all of a sudden. We don’t know what’s going on. He’s in our bed crying at bedtime every night.” Jimmy opens the fridge and grabs a beer.

“Get a dog,” Sam says.

“You say that about everything, Sam.” Dean scoffs.

“No, seriously, hear me out. You adopt a dog, you put the dog's bed in his bedroom, the dog keeps him company so he feels safe. Maybe he even feels responsible for the dog a little bit, especially if he helps take care of it, so he doesn’t want to abandon the dog in his room at night, right? It works and you and Meg are back in business.”

Jimmy takes a swig of his beer. He looks between Sam and Dean. “This is brilliant,” he points at Sam with the hand holding his beer, “really, I like this idea. I’m gonna talk to Meg about this.”

He turns to leave the room and Sam calls after him. “I know a good rescue if you’re seriously in the market.”

Jimmy holds his beer up to Sam.

Dean shakes his head and smiles. “Saving the world, one dog at a time.”

“Yeah, something like that,” Sam straightens up. He wants to tell Dean something that happened but he’s not sure what his reaction will be. Charlie hadn't taken it well.

“Uh oh, whatcha’ thinkin’ ‘bout, Sammy,” Dean crosses his arms. He’s always been able to read Sam like a book.

“I got a phone call this week,” Sam shifts his feet uncomfortably.

“Yeah, go on.”

“Brady called me,” Sam rubs the back of his neck.

What? Are you fucking kidding me? This better not be a jo-”

“No, I’m serious. I couldn’t believe it either.”

Why?” Dean steps forward placing his palms firmly on the island counter between them. “I mean, what did he want?”

“He wanted to come back,” Sam states.

Shit. What the fuck,” Dean shakes his head in disbelief. “What did you say?”

“I said no.”

Truth be told he’d said a lot more than that. He’d been so shocked when he answered the phone and heard Brady’s voice that he couldn’t properly respond at first. He should have just hung up, but his shock left him staring into space.

He was about to open the pictures of him and Gabe again, flip through them for the millionth time, but his phone rang. Strange number on the caller ID, possible client.

“Sam Winchester,” he answers out of habit.

“Sam?”

“Yes, can I help you?”

“It's me.”

He recognizes the voice and he freezes, silent for what felt like minutes. “Brady?”

“Yeah. It's so good to hear your voice. How are you?”

“I- Um, I'm-” Sam takes a deep breath, “I'm sorry this is just a surprise. I'm okay, I'm good actually, how are you?”

“I'm okay. Not the best but I guess every day can't be perfect right?”

Strange answer, Sam thinks. “Yeah, no, I guess it can't. So what's going on? What's new with you? How's Butler?” Why the fuck are you calling me?

Brady laughs a little. “Oh you know, work is busy. Always people trying to get off Scot free, you know how it is. Butler is fine, leave it to you to ask about the dog first thing. How's your job? Still keeping busy with contract work?”

That comment about the dog was irritating. “Yeah, some. I'm back at the Prosecutor's office some too. I try to keep up with both so I have more ti-”

“You're back there? Wow, Sam. I never thought you'd go back.” The surprise in Brady's voice shows how true this statement is.

Yeah, I'm sure you thought I'd be too embarrassed. “Well they kept asking so I finally caved. Decided I might as well give it a sho-”

“That's good. I'm glad to hear it.”

You didn't hear it, you didn't let me finish." So where are you now? I think last I heard it was Connecticut?”

“Oh goodness no, haven't been there in- what? Two years? I'm in Boston now. It's a great city, Sam. The history and everything, it's fabulous. You should come visit.”

“Uh,” What's happening right now? He's asking me to visit him? “Sure, maybe.”

“Sam, I want to talk to you about something serious. Is now a good time? Do you want to call me back?”

Oh shit. “No, now's fine. What's going on?” Is he dying or something?

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking- about us, our marriage, our life. I think- I think we made a mistake when we called it off. I wanted to see what you think.”

We? You think WE made a mistake? Sam thought it but kept control of his mouth.

“Well, Brady, honestly-”

“Butler!” Brady calls the name excitedly. “Hey, come here and talk to Daddy on the phone. Here, he can hear you Sam.”

Sam feels a pit drop in his stomach. He can't speak for a second.

“Butler?” He raises his voice to the one he uses for dogs. “Hey, buddy, can you hear me?”

He hears a woof through the phone. Sam seriously thinks he's going to puke. He's going to throw up all over his home office. He still loves that dog as much as the day Brady drove away with him.

Brady’s on the phone again. “Did you hear that, Sam? He misses you. I miss you too.”

Reis appears in the doorway, his tail wagging. He looks at Sam and barks low. He heard Sam from the living room where he’d been sleeping.

“Was that a dog?” Brady asks.

“Yeah, that was Reis.”

“You have a dog?”

“Yeah, I have two actually. Reis and Ab-”

“I can’t believe you got another dog. You replaced Butler? How could you, Sam? What if they don’t get along?”

And that, those words, they confirm something that Sam had been thinking about.

Looking back on the relationship he and Brady had Sam hadn't realized the level of control and manipulation Brady had wielded over him. He had started having small realizations before Gabriel, but after Gabriel had gone it was like Sam had an epiphany. The wool was pulled from his eyes and he saw things clearly, but he wondered if maybe he was just being hard on Brady. Maybe Sam was villainizing him as a way of letting himself move on.

He figured he'd never know since he didn't have contact with Brady, but now it's confirmed. As fucked up and unbelievable as the situation with Gabe was, it was still a million times healthier than the point his relationship with Brady had reached. No wonder Dean and Charlie hate him, they saw what Sam couldn't see.

That sentence was all Sam needed to hear. The guilt and the assumption that Sam would open his home to Brady again, it sets Sam’s teeth on edge.

“What did you just say?” Sam asks through clenched teeth, his jaw working.

“I- well, I-” Brady actually stutters trying to recover. “I just never imagined that you'd get another dog, you were so close with Butler, that's all I meant.”

“I know what you meant.”

“I'm sorry, Sam, I think that came out wrong.”

“No it didn't. It came out exactly like you wanted.”

“Don't get an attitude with me. You don't know what I've been through.”

“You're right, I don't, because I haven't spoken to you, Brady. Do you know how long I put my life on hold, how long I stopped living after you left? How long I sat around just thinking about you making a call like this? Three years, every fucking minute of three years. That's pathetic but there it is.”

“Sam,” Brady's voice is soft, “I'm calling now-”

“Yeah, no. You don't get to make this call now.”

“Well then- why didn't you call me? Why is this all my fault?”

Sam laughs, but there's no humor in it. “The day the divorce was final you changed your phone number and your email. You asked not to have your address disclosed to me in the papers so I couldn't write you. I didn't have a way to contact you.”

“You could have gotten my info from my mom.” Brady sounds accusatory with these words, like once again everything is Sam's fault.

“I didn't want to speak to your mom. I didn't want to hear her condescending voice telling me that her precious Brady was finally moving on and would find someone who actually deserves him.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Your mom never tried to hide how she felt about me. I wasn't good enough for you. You're Ivy League and I'm from blue collar stock. It didn't matter what my GPA was or my conviction rate, nothing impressed her.” Must be where you get it from, Sam thinks.

“I don't even- What are you talking about? My mom told me I was an idiot when I left you. She's been telling me that for years. She loves you, Sam. I lo-”

Sam cuts him off. If Brady is about to say what he thinks he's going say then Sam doesn't want to hear it.

“Well she's got a strange way of showing it.”

“Yeah, she does. I think I'm kinda like her. I wish you would have told me, I would have tried to change.”

So his behavior is my fault. Sam shakes his head and tries to gather his thoughts.

“Brady, I'm not sure what's going on with you right now. It sounds like you're having a rough patch and I'm really sorry to hear that-”

“Thank you, Sam, that mean-”

“Stop. Stop interrupting me, okay?”

“I'm sorry, go on.”

“As much as I wanted you to make this call, and I wanted that for a long time, now I see that we weren't good. Our marriage, especially towards the end, it just wasn't a good place for either of us. It took me finding someone else to really make that clear-”

“Wait- are you saying you're in a relationship?”

“No, not right now-”

“So you broke up?”

Sam rubs his temples, he's tired of being interrupted. “Not technically, he head to leave-”

“So you're single? Because I know our marriage wasn't perfect but I think we've both changed and maybe now we could really make it work, maybe it would be better. What do you think?”

I think that you sound exactly the same and I don't have the energy for it anymore.

“I'm sorry, Brady, I think there's just too much history there-”

“Wow. Wow, Sam. I can't believe it. I really thought that you'd be ready for this. I guess you've changed, and not in a way that would make us compatible anymore.”

The last thread of Sam's patience finally snaps.

“You know what? No, you can't come back here. You know why? Because there's not a place for you in my life anymore. I redecorated, I got a brown leather couch that you would fucking hate, and huge recliner made for tall guys. And I replaced our family picture with one of me and Gabe and the dogs. Then I got a red toaster because something told me that Gabe would love it and every time I look at it I smile. I leave it on the counter all the time. And I have two dogs, Reis and Abby, and they're the coolest dogs ever. And I'm so pissed at you, Brady-”

“What the-”

Sam stands up from his office chair.

“SHUT UP AND LET ME FINISH! I'm pissed at you because you made me feel like shit because I was smart and successful- and you made me feel guilty because I could beat you at basketball. And I'm mad because you left that ugly fucking couch because you knew how much I hated it. Guess what, I broke it! With another guy. And it was fun. I think I'm most mad at you for taking my dog. I don't think you really wanted him, I think you wanted to hurt me. And you did. Really bad. For a long fucking time. But I'm done now, I'm done with it. So no, you can't come home, I'm not going to visit you either. But if you want to drop my dog off feel free.”

Sam hung up the phone. For a while after the phone call Sam had felt better, like he'd gotten something off his chest. But the next day he started feeling bad. He could have handled it better. He should have been kinder. He doesn't want Brady anymore but Brady can't help who he is. Sam should have let it go.

When he relays the story to Dean though, in word for word detail because Dean demands it, Dean is beaming.

“Shit, Sammy! That's the best fucking thing I've ever heard! The nerve of that self-entitled prick-”

“Dean, listen, I don't really feel great about what I said to him. I could have handled it a million times better-”

“No!” Dean's face is instantly serious and he holds a hand up to silence Sam. “No, you listen to me, Sammy. You've beat yourself up over that guy for years, you beat yourself up while you were still married for shit's sake. You're gonna stop right now. He got a taste of what he deserves, now let it go.”

Sam may not agree with all of that but he knows it's true to a point. He nods a little.

“Man, I can't believe the difference in you in the last few months. I know I give you shit about this Gabriel guy being crazy, but I still can't figure out why he left you. Sometimes I wonder if he was even real, Ellen swears he was though. I think he was good for you, I do. I notice it more and more all the time.”

Sam doesn't know what to say. Charlie has commented on this too and it tends to make Sam emotional. “Yeah. He was.” He walks to the fridge and pulls out a beer.

And that's when Dean finally sees it.

He grabs Sam's forearm and yanks it toward him, Sam is still holding the beer in his right hand. Luckily he hadn't opened it or Dean would have made him spill it.

“Is that a tattoo?!” He tugs Sam's sleeve up.

Sam has been waiting for this. He's had the tattoo for over a month but it's on his wrist and he's wearing long sleeves since it's winter.

“Yeah,” it's all Sam can think to say.

“I can't believe you got a real tattoo. This should win you some bad boy points, maybe get you a few dates.”

Sam laughs. “I doubt that.”

Dean studies it. “What is it?”

Sam pulls his arm back and rubs his thumb across the tattoo. “It's a sigil.”

“A what?”

“It's kinda like a signature.”

“From?” Deans voice implies that he already knows the answer.

Sam nods. “From Gabe.”

“So that's his signature wherever he's from?”

“Yeah. And it holds some power, I guess? Maybe a little more significance from the way he explained it.”

“Yeah, ok. You and your weird words these days. Sigil, wish, angel, save that stuff for the kids.”

Anna pads into the room, her shiny red hair swaying. “What's going on in here? Are you guys coming to play cards or what? We've been waiting forever; the kids may not be quiet for much longer.”

Dean wraps his arms around her. She's small beside him, petite and frail looking. She's not weak though, she's strong enough to put up with Dean and that's saying something.

“Yeah, baby, I was just checking out Sam's new tattoo.”

“Oh you finally noticed?”

Sam looks at her in surprise. Leave it to Anna to spot it though, she doesn't miss anything.

“You knew and you didn't tell me?” Dean sounds put out with her.

“Well I figured Sam would tell us when he's ready. Or this summer when he wouldn't be able to hide it anymore.” She flashes Sam a smile from inside Dean's arms. “Now come on, I'm ready to beat your ass at cards, Winchester.” She smacks Dean on the ass as she strolls away.

“Mmm, that woman will be the death of me,” Dean mutters as he follows her.

Sam takes a second to peek in the living room. The kids and dogs are quiet and comfortable, much like his life these days. Maybe it's not perfect, no one's is, but at least he can say he's happy. That's more than most.

He rubs his thumb over the tattoo. He finds himself doing that a lot since it healed, especially when he thinks about Gabe. He misses him. He wants him back. It hurts, it hurts so much sometimes. But in the long run he knows that the time he had with Gabriel was something he desperately needed. It healed something in him, it made him feel human again, worthy of loving and being loved. And he wouldn't give up a second of the whirlwind that Gabe created in his life, not for anything.

“Come on, Sammy! We ain't gettin’ any younger!” Dean yells from down the hall.

He smiles and turns away from the warm and quiet living room. He rubs his wrist as he walks down the hall.

Gabriel

He stands in Moscow. It’s bitter cold. Why he’s here instead of sunning himself on warm sand makes no sense, but here he is. The cold doesn’t really bother him anyway, and this is a place he imagines Sam would like to see.

St. Basil’s Cathedral is tall and proud in front of him. Fluffy snow obscures some of the details but it can’t mask the beauty in the architecture. This place wouldn't exist in Sam’s world, it’s a place of worship and they don’t have those there. He still thinks Sam would appreciate it though.

He’s occupied his time in the last few months bouncing around the world, looking for things he’d like Sam to see. Restaurants and buildings and places of interest. He started a mental list somewhere in New Zealand, looking around at the breathtaking scenery and thinking, Sam should see this. It would take his breath away.

He carries a camera now. He takes pictures constantly. He dreams about jumping back to Sam, landing in his universe again and showing him the pictures. Telling him the history, detailing how the French pastry tasted, what the coffee smelled like, how the birds sounded. Everything, all of it, he wants to share it all with Sam.

He knows he can’t. It makes him lonely. And angry. And sad. But he’s also started to enjoy it. He watches people. Sometimes he photographs them, although he rarely gets their faces. He photographs buildings, shadows, nature, dogs, so many dogs. Sunsets. Every day, so many sunsets, though none are as perfect as the one he shared with Sam.

His vision has been changed. Sam did that. He shifted something in Gabriel. He changed him, sometimes Gabriel thinks the change goes down to a molecular level. He feels different, deep inside him something is just changed.

He wonders if that’s from love. Could loving someone do that? Can it really make you feel full to the brim and empty at the same time? Probably. That would be why humans celebrate it so much. It’s also why they’re so devastated when they lose it. He understands now.

It's like the emotions that war inside him when he looks at the pictures of him and Sam. He's so thankful he has them; otherwise he's pretty sure he'd have convinced himself that Sam was just a figment of his insane imagination. But man, sometimes looking at those just hurts. And sometimes it's the only thing that gives him comfort.

He snaps some pictures. He moves around the cathedral slowly, looking for interesting angles, how he can use the snow to his advantage. He likes this. Human movement, walking, taking his time, looking through the eyes of his vessel rather than with his angelic abilities. He never thought that would happen, that he’d embrace the limitations of feeling like a human, but Sam did that to him. Another one of those changes.

He stops and lowers the camera. He has that feeling again, the one that keeps gnawing at him. It feels like someone is calling him, pulling at him. It’s gentle, like they’re far away. Almost like an echo that’s bouncing at him over miles and miles, faint and almost inaudible. He’s tried to pinpoint it, bounced around the earth looking for it. He can never get closer to it, though. It always stays the same distance away no matter where he is.

It’s so faint and yet it’s right there, like it’s on the other side of a thin wall…

He shakes his head trying to clear it. Whatever it is he’ll figure it out eventually, he always does. But right now he wants some more shots of this cathedral before he loses the light.

He looks back at the building and raises the camera to his eye again. The shutter clicks repeatedly. Sam would love this, he thinks.