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{Fic} Where All My Journeys End Act One 2/2

*Act One: May you find some comfort here*
Masterpost



~

Sam sat on the porch steps, rolling his empty beer bottle between his hands. He and Dean had finished talking a half hour earlier and parted ways for the night. Now alone with his thoughts, Sam felt oddly hollow. He felt relieved that Dean was ready to fight again; it had loosened some of Sam's tension to hear his brother didn't want to disappoint him. However, that good news was offset by the absence of Castiel and loss of Adam.

Why did Adam have to get dragged into this? Sam set aside the beer bottle and rubbed his hands over his face. I am so sorry. We should have kept a closer eye on you.

"Thinking awful loud there, Sammy." Gabriel's fingers carded through Sam's hair.

The hunter tilted his head so he could look up. "Did you find Cas?"

Gabriel looked grim as he took a seat next to Sam. "Yeah. He's at a human hospital. Kinda the best place for him right now." He grimaced. "He's in a coma. His little trick did a serious number on him. I made sure the cuts were healed, but honestly? He needs a heavy dose of sleep to recharge." He stared out over the yard silently for a while. "I'm not sure how he'll be once he wakes up."

"Are you sure he should be alone?"

The archangel shrugged. "I'll keep checking on him. Right now he's tucked away and since he's just resting, he shouldn't draw any attention to himself."

Sam accepted that with a nod. The press of Gabriel's arm against his lent a welcome warmth to the chilly evening. Slowly Sam allowed himself to lean closer until he could tilt his head to rest against Gabriel's. He felt the archangel's arm wrap around his waist, anchoring them together.

Eventually Gabriel asked, "Are you alright?" The hunter bit back the urge to laugh, afraid it would sound more like a sob.

Once he felt he had control of his emotions, Sam answered, "Dean's still here." That said it all, really. Cas was out of the picture, at least for now, Zachariah was dead, Michael had arrived, and Adam was... something. But Dean had said he couldn't disappoint Sam. He'd looked Sam in the eye when he said "screw destiny" and "I say we take the fight to them and do it our way."

Gabriel heard all of the meanings within the simple answer, and more importantly, Sam knew the angel understood. "Good. No more running off," Gabriel eventually responded.

Sam curled closer to his lover, somewhat awkward to do on wooden steps and with their height difference. Gabriel silently shifted to accommodate the change, and he guided Sam's head to his shoulder.

They'd been doing this a lot lately, Sam realized. What had started out as the prelude to friendship had turned to mutually enjoyable sex and developed into a friends-with-benefits relationship; but none of that had relied much on long periods of silence and simple touching, until recently. Sam was loath to call it "cuddling," long ago inured to his brother's way of classifying sappy chick-flick moments. He didn't deny that this – whatever it might be called, how he and Gabriel were touching right now – was significant, more emotional and almost soul-deep compared to the usual physical pleasure. It was what Sam had been yearning to have for so long. It was a desire he'd been fighting since giving it a name – love. Oh God, I'm in love with an archangel.

"Sam...?" There was a note of confusion in Gabriel's voice that made Sam catch his breath nervously. He tensed as the angel shifted as if trying to pull away. Bracing himself for whatever was coming, Sam sat up straight and started to move. Gabriel didn't allow him to go far. "Where are you going? I just wanted to look at you," Gabriel told him, his tone obviously exasperated.

"Um... sorry?" Sam felt at a loss. He had no guarantee that Gabriel had picked up on his thoughts, though it seemed likely.

Gabriel caught Sam's gaze and although the unblinking stare was unnerving, Sam didn't look away. The archangel pressed his hand against Sam's cheek, his fingertips brushing over the temple. "You are extraordinarily self-deprecating for a man so stubbornly set on fighting tooth and nail to keep his free will. I get it, kiddo, I really do. Most of the time you've gotten the shit-end of the stick, but then again you've made something of it, right?" Gabriel tapped Sam's temple gently. "Give yourself a break from the Heavy Thoughts scrambled with all that messy logic." He leaned in for a long kiss.

When they parted, Gabriel ran his thumb over Sam's cheek as he stared at the human thoughtfully. "You... really feel that way, about me?"

At another time Sam may have tried to divert the conversation and avoid the truth. Instead, the bewildered expression on the archangel's face urged Sam to admit, "Yeah, I think so." He'd spent so many weeks trying to avoid focusing his attention on the feelings that he suddenly felt as lost as Gabriel looked.

"Okay," Gabriel murmured, apparently trying to process the admission. His hand moved so that he could rub his thumb over Sam's lower lip. "Okay," he repeated, voice a little stronger. His eyes glittered as he smiled. "Shove over."

Not exactly sure what the angel wanted, Sam let himself be moved so that he sat facing the yard. Gabriel quickly filled Sam's empty lap. Gabriel's arms draped over Sam's shoulders as he shifted as close as possible. Sam curved his hands around the angel's waist and back and was struck with the realization of how familiar the angel's body had become.

"Don't think," Gabriel murmured as he threaded his fingers through Sam's hair. "Stop thinking you have to punish yourself." He softened his words with a long kiss. "You know what you've done, Sam, so do I, so does your family. We've forgiven you." Gabriel paused for another kiss, his lips parting to slip-slide against Sam's. "Your life's hard enough, kiddo, stop torturing yourself. Stop thinking you can't get what you want."

Sam closed his eyes and swallowed down the tide of emotions threatening to overwhelm him. He opened his mouth to Gabriel, eagerly welcoming the warm invasion of tongue and lips.

He groaned in disappointment as Gabriel turned his face away. "You can have this, Sam," the archangel murmured against Sam's ear. "I promise, this is yours."

Sam tightened his embrace and turned his face into Gabriel's neck, muffling any embarrassing noise that might escape. He could feel himself trembling as Gabriel continued to rub his fingers through Sam's hair and began nibbling at Sam's ear. It took a few minutes to collect himself before Sam was ready to return the attention. He slid a hand under Gabriel's shirt, rubbing the warm, smooth skin. He followed the line of the angel's neck with his lips and tongue, mouthing kisses as he worked his way up to a stubble-free jaw.

"Please don't lea— Stay. Please, stay," Sam breathed the entreaty against Gabriel's skin. Maybe, just maybe, he could have this, have Gabriel. It would be good and it had been good so far. But he knew it would end, and judging by the trend of his history, it wouldn't last long. Sam clenched his fingers, wishing he could make this last with willpower alone.

"Sam..." Gabriel sighed and started tugging at Sam's jacket. "Sheer pigheadedness goes a long way, you know." He managed to get the left arm completely free of the jacket, but instead of working on the other arm, Gabriel shoved up the sleeve of Sam's shirt. His hand wrapped around the human's elbow. "I'm right here."

Sam rested his head against Gabriel's shoulder as his breath escaped him in a shuddering exhale. "How long? I'm not an idiot, Gabriel. I know I can't just keep you."

"What, like a bird?" Gabriel teased. "Look, neither of us is big on the long term plans. Doesn't mean I'm taking off tomorrow without a word." He nudged Sam's head off his shoulder. "Look at me. Forever is a long time. I know. But trust me when I say, me being here, with you, in this colossal mess is a big deal." He leaned in for a long kiss.

When Gabriel pulled back, he kept his stare locked on Sam. Gabriel's eyes brightened with ethereal light at the same time that Sam felt the angel's hand grow unbearably hot against his arm.

"What are you...?" Sam hissed in pain as the heat peaked. He felt sure he'd blister from the touch and wondered if Gabriel intended to leave a mark like Castiel had on Dean.

Slowly the pain faded away and Gabriel removed his hand. The cool air soothed the lingering burn on Sam's skin. He didn't dare to look until Gabriel's gaze shifted down. Together they examined the reddened patch of skin on the inside of Sam's arm near his elbow. It wasn't a handprint; it wasn't blister-like, either. The mark's black lines made it look like a tattoo. Sam didn't understand the script following the curve of his arm. Gabriel stroked his thumb gently over the sensitive skin.

"What is it?" Sam asked, finally realizing that at least some of the symbols resembled Enochian.

Gabriel's voice was low as he briefly touched different parts of the – was it a signature? "Strength. Endurance. Goodness. Hope." His lips twitched in a brief, almost wistful smile; "Humanity."

Sam considered the evidence and said, "It's your sigil, isn't it?"

Gabriel responded with a noncommittal hum. He turned his attention to removing Sam's jacket and shirt, kissing exposed skin as he went. Sam shivered with the contrast of chill air and hot mouth brushing his skin.

"Sammy?"

And his brother's shocked voice was definitely not something Sam needed to hear while his lover was doing obscene things with his mouth.

"Oh shit." Sam tilted his head back to look up at Dean, who stood in the doorway with a stunned expression.

Gabriel muttered something unflattering against Sam's chest before sitting up and glaring at the other human. "Seriously? Your timing sucks, Winchester."

"My— What the hell? What are you doing?" Dean let the door slam behind him as he stormed across the porch.

"That should be rather obvious." Sam reflexively tightened his hold on Gabriel when Dean visibly clenched his jaw. The archangel placed a hand over Sam's new tattoo in silent reassurance.

"Dean..." Sam trailed off warily. He looked pleadingly at his brother.

"No, Sam. How is this okay?" Dean pointed at Gabriel as he ground out, "After everything he's done? Okay, so he's been hanging around – but doing what? Jumping in on the occasional side hunt? Ganking demons? This dick's figuratively screwed us over and over. If he's not killing me or dragging us through TV hell, he's pulling pranks and distractions. What about the big picture, Sam?"

Gabriel's expression tightened in anger, but he remained seated in Sam's lap. "You don't like me, I get it; can't say you’re my favorite person, either. But you should think real hard about what the hell's gone on in the past few months. Which of us is the one prone to benders and running off to get ourselves killed?"

"It's called taking risks and I don’t see you willing to step in!"

At that Gabriel disappeared from Sam's lap and reappeared right in Dean's face, making the human stumble back. Sam quickly stood up, hoping that it wouldn't actually come to blows.

"There's a hell of a lot you don't see, Deano," Gabriel said, voice low in clear warning. "I've been working on an alternative to this bullshit showdown and where were you just twelve hours ago? Still set on submitting to Michael. All ready to ditch the last few people who believe in you. Way to go." The angel slow-clapped.

Sam tried to step in and diffuse the situation. "Gabriel, back off. Dean..." He scrubbed a hand over his face. "Stop. Please, just stop it. You know he's helping us."

"Yeah?" Dean kept a suspicious gaze on Gabriel. "We don't know the reason." He stepped closer to Sam and finally looked away from the angel. "Can we really trust that he hasn't been working some drawn-out plot to arrange things the way he wants?"

"Jesus, Dean, why are you so paranoid?" Sam was exasperated and quickly getting frustrated.

"Because you're not!" Dean snapped. "Are you even thinking, getting involved with an archangel? A fucking Trickster, a monster?"

Sam drew in a sharp breath. He felt Gabriel's hand gently wrap around his arm. As the silence drew out, Dean seemed to realize the impact of his accusation and his eyes widened. "S-Sammy—"

"It's not the same," Sam whispered, angry at himself for the spike of fear he couldn't block. He knew this wasn't like Ruby, wasn't about manipulation, but that didn't stop the lingering worry at the back of his mind. "I'm not screwing this up." Without making the conscious decision to do so, Sam lifted his hand to press over Gabriel's. He felt a spark of warmth from the tattoo.

Dean looked down to stare at their hands. The anger faded from his expression, leaving behind frustration and puzzlement. He shook his head slowly and eventually let out a long sigh.

"Yeah. Okay. I'm just..." Dean rubbed a hand over his face. "I'm gonna turn in." He walked back into the house.

When he'd gone, Sam let out a shaky sigh. "Thanks, for not saying anything else," he said. Gabriel snorted and the annoyed sound coaxed a small smile from Sam. "Really. It's, uh, kind of a tradition to blow up before processing surprises."

Gabriel turned Sam to face him and placed his hands on the human's shoulders. "Well I don't like it. He's full of shit, by the way." He hopped up to plant a kiss on Sam's nose and then his legs suddenly wrapped around the human's waist. Sam grunted in surprise as he moved his hands to help hold the angel up. Gabriel smirked. "But your brother's nosing around did prove we should move someplace a little more private."

With a snap, they appeared in the room that had become Sam's whenever they stayed with Bobby.

"Now where were we before that rude interruption?"

*

If the Winchesters went about breakfast as per usual without any mention of the confrontation on the porch, well, that was their way. Bobby didn't seem inclined to ask about the ruckus, either. The lack of attention to the matter actually had meaning, though. Dean didn't put up a fuss so Sam knew that whether or not his brother "approved," he had at least decided to take the revelation in stride. Gabriel seemed torn between amusement and irritation with their actions but didn't interfere.

Bobby offered up a new hunt after lunch. Dayton, Ohio had seen a lot of recent demonic activity for whatever reason and it seemed like a worthwhile stop to investigate. Dean made the decision to leave the next morning after another night of sleep, given how busy they'd been recently. A fourteen hour drive could be done in a straight shot but facing it in daylight was better than driving through the night.

Gabriel decided to time his departure with the brothers'. Bobby was slowly coming around to the angel's search for Death, especially after Gabriel explained that a being like Death would be balking under the beck-and-call of Lucifer. Between the archangel's abilities and Bobby's research, they thought they might finally have a solid lead.

Sam spent most of their last night at Bobby's in bed with Gabriel. An uneasy sense of time running out made Sam desperate to spend as much time as possible with the archangel.

A little before dawn, they parted ways. Gabriel leaned in for a last kiss, then with a smirk and a wink he disappeared.

That evening Sam and Dean pulled into the brightly lit parking lot of the Elysian Fields hotel, seemingly the only shelter from the torrential storm. As Dean enthused about delicious pie and their luck, Sam struggled with the feeling that something wasn't right.

*

Sam really wished that he hadn't been correct. Facing a room full of gods meant nothing good as far as he was concerned, especially considering what he knew of the various mythos. The only thing that might work in their favor was the fact that few of them valued cooperation over animosity inherent in conflicts of power and religions.

Their attempt to slip from the room while the arguing heated up was foiled by a dropped chandelier and the elegant-looking Kali calling attention to the Winchesters. Her expression was tight with determination. She addressed the gods, "We have to fight. The archangels, the only thing they understand is violence. This ends in blood. There is no other way, it's them or us." She had a point, though Sam hardly thought she meant to include the hunters as her allies.

Mercury, who'd played the damn hotel manager, attempted to argue, apparently believing bargaining could be achieved with the angels. Sam and Dean exchanged exasperated looks. Kali didn't seem impressed either if her Darth Vader-esque force-choke was anything to go by.

The ballroom doors suddenly burst open behind Sam and Dean, and they spun around in time to see Gabriel make a showy entrance. He was pure Trickster with his familiar swagger and a broad smirk.

"Can't we all just get along!" he called as he walked in without a second glance at the humans.

Dean's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Ga—!" His voice cut off and when Sam tried to speak, he found that he, too, had been silenced.

"Sam! Dean... It's always wrong place, worst time with you muttonheads, huh?" Gabriel chided with a condescending look.

"Loki." The name was said with great disdain.

Gabriel's smile took on a slight edge as he walked to the middle of the room. "Baldur. Good to see you." He looked around casually at the gathered gods. "Huh, I guess my invitation got lost in the mail."

Baldur looked like he wanted to sneer but believed himself above such pettiness. "Why are you here?"

Gabriel spread his arms, "Why? To talk about the elephant in the room." At the sound of a chair pushing back, Gabriel rolled his eyes and pointed at Ganesh, "Not you. The Apocalypse." The lightness of his tone seemed to fade a little. "We can't stop it, gang. But first thing's first." He turned back to Sam and Dean. "The adults need to have a little conversation. Check you later, boys." He snapped his fingers and the hunters found themselves in their room.

"Son of a bitch!" Dean shouted, obviously having regained his voice. He pointed an accusing finger at Sam. "What the hell is your boyfriend doing?"

Sam waved the finger away from his face. He decided to ignore the boyfriend comment for now. "I don’t know. But think about it, they only know him as a pagan and obviously they don't care for angels."

Dean grimaced. "Yeah, secret identity really wouldn't go down well with this crowd." He glanced around their room, they hadn't even had time to unpack their bags. "So... time to get out of here?"

"Sounds good to me. And next time, when I say let's keep driving? Let's keep driving."

"Yeah. Next time."

Sam eyed the door, wondering if they'd been locked in. "Have a plan?" he asked.

"Uh, get those poor saps out of their dinner date? Bust 'em out and leg it. If we're lucky, maybe we'll get out of here before they realize the main course flew the coop."

"Since when have you had good luck?" Gabriel asked from his position on the couch with his feet propped up on the coffee table.

"Why the hell didn't you warn us?" Dean demanded.

Gabriel snorted indignantly. "You think I knew about this shindig and still let you come this way? Oh, please." He rolled his eyes. "Baldur isn't a fan of mine and it seems he was in charge of this little convention. I only just got an invite from Kali like an hour ago. Should've figured you two would get caught up in this."

"But now that you know, you're getting us out of here, right?" Sam asked.

Gabriel stood up and stretched. "That's probably a good idea given that whatever they decide to do – kill you or use you as bait – you're uber-boned." He smirked as he settled his hands on his hips. "And you happen to be on my shortlist of likeable people."

"Don't I feel honored," Dean muttered under his breath. "Okay then, let's get the bystanders free and zap out of here."

"Whoa, hold up, speedy." Gabriel's expression lost its humor. "Couple problems. One, Kali's got you by the short and curlies thanks to a blood spell. You boys are on a leash. Two, we're short on time and those people are already screwed. We don't need the extra baggage."

"We're not just going to leave them here to be killed, Gabriel," Sam said. He added, "And if we can't leave immediately, Dean and I still have time to get them out. What are you planning to do about Kali?"

For a brief moment Sam thought Gabriel looked embarrassed. Whatever the look had been, it was quickly replaced by a smirk. "Me and Kali had, uh, a thing. Dean would like her, chick's all hands."

Sam decided not to look at that too closely. "Wait. Could they do it? Could they take on Lucifer?"

Gabriel frowned. "It's a bad idea. Lucifer's gonna turn them into finger paint."

"You have a problem with gods going up against Satan, but you're fine with us going after him?" Dean fixed a disbelieving stare on the archangel.

"I'm not happy with it," Gabriel said. "But I don't have a problem with you guys in this mess because you know it's probably suicidal, yet you still choose to fight. Those knuckleheads out there? They think this is a picnic in the park and easy to wrap up in a tidy package. They don't get it, so they need to shove off. You two? You're long past the point of no return."

It explained a lot, Sam thought. Dean's expression seemed to indicate that he found the archangel's reasoning acceptable.

"Fine. So what's the plan while me and Sammy get the d'oeuvres loose?"

Gabriel glowered at Dean. "You're not letting that go."

Sam shook his head. "They're getting out of here, too."

Gabriel rolled his eyes as he snapped into existence a bottle of breath spray. "Okay, okay. Go release the feast, just don't cause too much commotion, okay? I'm only keeping Kali distracted." He spritzed his mouth. Sam narrowed his eyes suspiciously when he realized Gabriel seemed to purposefully avoid his gaze.

Dean picked up on that too. "And that's happening how?"

"You know how sentimental I can be."

"Gabriel—" Sam bit his lip when the angel reached out to squeeze his arm reassuringly. Amber eyes brightened for a moment in silent promise.

"See you in a bit, guys."

~

Sam rubbed at his sore neck as he and Dean were forced back into the ballroom. He quickly forgot about the lingering pain from being choked by Zao Shen when he saw Kali standing over Gabriel. Dean muttered a curse. Somehow Kali knew Gabriel's identity.

Kali looked the humans over disdainfully before addressing the gathered gods. "Well, surprise, surprise. The trickster has tricked us."

"Kali, don't."

The goddess looked down at Gabriel with a shuttered expression. "You're mine now, and you have something I want." She leaned over and reached into his jacket. Sam's eyes widened in surprise when she withdrew a familiar looking blade. "An archangel's blade. From the archangel, Gabriel."

That revelation resulted in suspicious and wary looks being exchanged amongst the gods. Gabriel's smile lacked its usual brightness as he effected a casual shrug. "Okay, okay! So I got wings, like kotex. But that doesn't make me any less right about Lucifer."

"You're a spy." Kali pointed the blade at the angel.

Gabriel held up his hands. "I'm not a spy, I'm a runaway." He looked around the room. "I'm trying to save you!" He focused back on Kali, clearly trying to talk her down. "I know my brother, Kali. He should scare the shit out of you; you can't beat him. I've skipped ahead, seen how this story ends—"

"Your story! Not ours." Sam wondered if Gabriel really had seen the future, or at least some version of it. Kali sneered; "Westerners, I swear. The sheer arrogance. You think you're the only ones on earth? You pillage and you butcher in your God's name. But you're not the only religion, and he's not the only god. And now you think you can just rip the planet apart? You're wrong. There are billions of us and we were here first. If anyone gets to end this world, it's me."

As Kali raised the blade in preparation to strike, the only thing keeping Sam from lurching to his feet was Dean's vice-like grip on his arm. "I'm sorry," Kali said as she plunged the knife into Gabriel's chest.

Dean's fingers bit into Sam's arm but he could barely feel it as he struggled to even breathe. Light flashed from Gabriel's eyes and mouth and Sam could hear the angel's cry ringing in his ears. Sam gasped quietly for breath as he stared disbelievingly at the slumped, lifeless body.

"They can die. We can kill Lucifer." Kali stepped away.

It took a little longer for Sam's brain to finally kick into gear and make an important realization: there were no wing marks. Oh... oh thank God. Sam let out a shaky sigh as he pulled himself together. Next to him, Dean straightened up in his chair.

"All right you primitive screwheads, listen up." The gods' reactions varied from amused to angry.

Sam wasn't quite sure what his brother had in mind. "What are you thinking?" he muttered.

"I'm outta options," Dean muttered back. He released Sam's arm and stood up to address the gods. "Now on any other given day, I'd be doing my damnedest to, uh, kill you murdering chimps. But hey, desperate times." He shrugged. "So even though I'd love nothing better than to slit your throats, you dicks, I'm going help you. I'm going to help you ice the devil." Dean looked around the room, meeting each being's skeptical stare. "And then we can all get back to ganking each other like normal. You want Lucifer, well, the dude's not in the yellow pages. But me and Sam, we can get him here."

Sam really, really didn't know what his brother had planned.

~

Somehow Dean managed to bargain for the humans' lives. While Dean saw to their release, Sam stood in the ballroom with Kali and Baldur.

"So you're going to summon Lucifer." Kali looked over Sam with a considering, almost predatory gaze.

"Sort of," Sam replied, shifting uncomfortably under the watch of two powerful gods. "I, uh, just need you to squeegee some stuff from my ribs and he'll come running." He chuckled humorlessly.

Kali arched an eyebrow. "Breaking them would be easier."

Sam grimaced, but before he could respond, Dean strode into the room. "Show's over," he announced. Sam recognized the angry set of Dean's jaw. "The sword's a fake, and Gabriel's still kicking. I hate to break it to you, sister, but you've been tricked." Kali's lips pressed together in a frown.

"Dean, what are you doing?" Sam was relieved to have confirmation that Gabriel was alive. Even though he could guess how Dean's encounter with the angel had gone, Sam was disappointed that Gabriel hadn't rejoined them.

The lights suddenly flickered. "What's happening?" Baldur turned a concerned gaze to Kali.

Sam looked anxiously to his brother when they heard the first scream echoing down the halls. The walls reverberated with the sounds of dying gods. He didn't need to spell out the explanation, "It's him."

Kali's eyes widened. "How?"

Looking grim, Dean asked, "Does it matter? Too late now, shazzam us out of here!"

Baldur grimaced, "We can't."

The ballroom doors slammed into the walls. Sam backed away quickly when he saw Lucifer walk calmly into the room. "Of course you can't. You didn't say mother may I. Sam, Dean, good to see you again." The archangel's vessel, in addition to being covered liberally with blood, was clearly burning from the inside out. Raw patches of skin seemed to smolder.

Baldur's lip curled as he moved forward. Kali warned, "Baldur, don't."

The god ignored her completely, and he stepped right up to the Devil. "You think you own the planet? What gives you the right?"

Lucifer's expression remained perfectly calm as he drew back his arm and stabbed his hand through Baldur's chest. "No one gives us the right, we take it," he said. Lucifer twisted his hand and a wet ripping sound coincided with the god's body going limp.

Sam looked away from the bloody death when he realized Kali had begun glowing. In moments her arms were ablaze. Dean tugged at Sam's arm and they ran to take cover behind one of the tables. They heard a squelch as Baldur's body dropped to the floor. Kali shouted something in an unfamiliar language as she attacked.

"You okay?" Sam asked, licking his lips nervously.

Dean didn't reply, Gabriel did. "Not really." Sam leaned forward to look around Dean. Gabriel looked resigned as he shoved something at Dean. "Guard this with your life, I mean it."

"Gabriel?" Sam half crawled to reach the archangel's side. "What are you doing?"

The angel offered a crooked smile and his gaze darted to Dean for a moment. "Better late than never, huh?" His amber eyes flashed with power as he met Sam's gaze. "Getting us out of here, Sammy." He grabbed Sam's shirt and pulled the human in for a quick kiss. "Now c'mon."

Gabriel stood up, his angel blade appearing in his hand. Sam heard a surprised grunt and the crash of someone hitting a wall on the other side of their barrier. At Gabriel's nod, the hunters stood up and went to check on Kali.

"Lucy, I'm home!" Gabriel called. In the hallway Lucifer stood up and casually brushed himself off. The only outward sign of his anger appeared in the otherworldly light in his eyes.

Gabriel pulled Kali to her feet before letting Dean take over. His eyes never left his brother as he took up a defensive stance. "Get them out of here," he said lowly. Sam's breath caught, ready to protest.

"Over a girl. Gabriel, really?" Lucifer's lips spread with a false smile. "I mean I knew you were slumming, but I hope you didn't catch anything."

Dean grabbed Sam's wrist and pulled. An unseen force pushed Sam onwards and that was the only reason he followed the retreat. Behind them, Sam could hear Gabriel's voice. "Lucifer, you're my brother. And I love you. But..."

"Come on!" Dean directed the order at both Kali and Sam as he herded them outside.

"I'm not getting into that thing!" Kali protested when she saw the Impala.

Dean glared over the roof at her. "Get in the damn car, princess." With a huff, Kali pulled the back door open and slid in. Dean paused halfway in and rapped his knuckles against the roof to get Sam's attention. "Sammy. We gotta get going."

"Yeah. Of course." Sam went through the motions, opening the door, sliding onto the seat, tugging the door shut. Absentmindedly he clicked the belt into place. Dean backed up across the parking lot and then sped towards the highway.

"You're my brother.... But..."

Fine. Gabriel would be fine. Had to be fine.

He could feel Dean glancing over at him frequently.

"What's—" Dean's question cut off into quietly muttered curses as Sam's attention caught the reflection of bright light in the car's mirrors.

Sam jerked around and stared out the back window in time to catch the last flash of concentrated light back from the way they'd come.

The car sped up and Sam could feel his body jerk against the seat at the change, but the sensation seemed to come from a great distance. He felt cold and hollow as he continued to stare at the rapidly shrinking lights of the motel.

~

They eventually stopped; Dean pulled into the lot of a rundown motel looking much like their usual fare. Kali said nothing before she disappeared, the only reason Sam noticed her departure was the brief burst of flame. Dean muttered something derisive about flames and the Impala not mixing. Sam didn't pay much attention to what he was doing, still reeling from the night's events.

"Sammy." Dean called him back to the present. The older Winchester handed over Sam's bag and motioned toward a room door. "C'mon. Get some sleep."

Sam shook his head as he followed Dean into the room. "I'm gonna shower." He dropped his bag on a bed, absently pulling out toiletries and a pair of sweatpants. He could feel Dean's concerned stare until he closed the bathroom door between them.

He turned the lock as he toed off his shoes and stripped off his clothes. He leaned over the tub to turn on the faucet and switched the water over to the showerhead without checking the temperature. He was taller than the shower curtain so he had to duck under the rod as he stepped in.

The water was almost too hot against his skin, but Sam just closed his eyes and leaned back against the tiles. It took a few moments to realize he was shaking; at first little tremors but soon he was wracked with full-body shudders. Sam slid down the wall to sit in the tub, arms wrapped around his knees. Sam's hair clung to his face and shoulders as he gasped quietly. He pressed his face against his knees. A sob tore from his throat and he quickly bit his lip to suppress the noise.

Gabriel was dead. Truly dead. This wasn't like the ineffective staking of Trickster doubles. Sam felt like the dying flare of the archangel's Grace was burned into his mind's eye. As much as he didn’t want to picture it, Sam could imagine the shadowy impressions of wings burnt into the floor of the ballroom. He felt nauseous thinking about Gabriel's body lying empty and abandoned.

"Damn you," Sam whispered brokenly, unsure who he was cursing. God? Lucifer? Gabriel? Himself? "Fuck!"

As his shudders eased into something more manageable, Sam loosened his hold on his legs and leaned back. He stared blankly up at the ceiling, blinking away water as it splashed into his eyes. He was vaguely aware of the water cooling, but he wasn't ready to go out and face Dean's scrutiny.

Sam scrubbed his hands over his face. The hollow feeling from earlier had turned to a deep-set, inescapable ache. As he hung his head, Sam's gaze fell to the tattoo on his left arm. He choked back an exhausted sob and covered the mark with his hand.

"You can have this, Sam. I promise, this is yours."

"No. No, I can't."

*

The familiar sound of snapping fingers cut off the cheesy porno music and the scantily-clad woman lying on the bed vanished. Gabriel appeared sitting on the end of the bed a moment later, smirk in place. "Sorry, Dean, this probably isn't the video you're looking for."

He waved at the camera as he continued. "Hey guys. You're probably wondering what the hell is going on. Well, if you're watching this, I'm dead." He smiled brightly and rolled his eyes. "Oh please, stop sobbing! It's embarrassing for all of us!"

He leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees. "Now here's the thing: without me, you've got no shot at killing Lucifer. Sorry. But!" Gabriel paused dramatically, hand raised. "You can trap him. The cage you sprung Lucifer from is still down there. And maybe, just maybe, you can pull out that dumb luck and shove his ass back in. Not that it'll be easy. You've gotta get the cage open, trick my bro back into it, plus avoid Michael and the God Squad." He shrugged. "But hey, details right?

"And here's the big secret, Lucifer himself doesn't even know. The key to the cage? Actually, it's keys, plural." He held up four fingers and wiggled them. "Four keys – four rings. Yup, you guessed it, the Horsemen. You get them all, you got the cage. Two more to go, kids. Never did meet up with Death, but he might not require a fight to get his."

Gabriel ducked his head for a moment and when he looked up, the amused pretense had faded. "So Dean, you weren't wrong. Family means something to me, too, and that's put off what I should have done when you chuckleheads asked for my help. I was afraid to stand up to my brother, but not anymore." He stood up and spread his arms. "So this is me, standing up.

"Now, Dean, shove off and give me some privacy with your brother." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, followed up by a wink.

After a pause, Gabriel sat back down on the bed. "So, Sammy." His lips curved in a wry smile. "Never can tell how things are gonna go down. But hey, you've gotten this far. If anybody's got a chance coming out of this still standing, it's you." Gabriel rolled his eyes. "This better not turn into one of those chick-flick moments. But heck, I suppose you deserve to hear 'I believe in you.' And I do, Sam. They might not show it real well, but our brothers got through a lot of these past weeks because of you."

Gabriel sighed quietly. "Didn't mean to leave it like this, kiddo. I'm sorry." For long moments he stared at the camera, lips parted like he wanted to say something more.

Eventually he shrugged with a crooked smile and gave a jaunty wave.

End Act One
Act Two

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
auntmo9
Oct. 20th, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)
While there was definitely angst in the first part (especially with the detox which was amazingly well done btw), the angst was kicked up a notch or two here, and I just wanted to pull the two of them into a hug.

I also loved Dean's reaction to discovering the two of them on the porch. I think you nailed him perfectly, and you had Sam describe it perfectly: It's, uh, kind of a tradition to blow up before processing surprises. and Dean didn't put up a fuss so Sam knew that whether or not his brother "approved," he had at least decided to take the revelation in stride.
enmuse
Oct. 20th, 2011 02:44 am (UTC)
Yay! ♥ Thank you so much for the comments, it's really great to hear that things are working out, and some of my interpretations make sense to other people. :)
(Deleted comment)
enmuse
Oct. 22nd, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
But it's a happy ending so you're good! ;)

Yay someone has the tattoo~! I'm addicted to the idea now, lol. And I wanted something a bit different than what I usually see in stories so I though this would work. :3
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )