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{Fic} Stay (Awake) With Me | 9/10

Masterpost

Nine: ____

Gabriel moved on instinct when he felt the wards at Singer's place fail. Raphael would know why he left, he would have sensed the trespass as well. The possibilities of what he would find were too many for Gabriel to focus on just one.

"Gabriel..." Castiel, broken-nosed and bloody, looked up at the archangel forlornly. Gabriel's fists clenched at his sides as he stared at the empty bed.

Footsteps pounded down the hall and Dean almost tripped over Castiel when he reached the door. Between bouts of cursing, the hunter asked if Castiel was alright.

"I will be fine momentarily," Castiel assured quietly, though he accepted Dean's assistance in regaining his feet. "I am... so sorry."

"Damn it, Cas, it's not your fault," Dean said.

Of course it wasn't. Gabriel knew he should be saying that, knew that Castiel was trying to apologize to him; he could feel Castiel's grace tentatively reaching out for him, attempting to offer apology and comfort, but the sensation grated and Gabriel flinched away. Should have been here! He was peripherally aware of his skin beginning to glow as his body trembled.

“Dean, wait downstairs,” Castiel ordered. For once the hunter didn’t seem inclined to argue.

Gabriel remained frozen in place but turned his gaze on Castiel. The younger angel didn’t pull back, though Gabriel knew that his eyes must have lost their humanness and his expanded wings were probably visible to even human sight.

“Brother,” Castiel murmured. He looked amazingly human as he stared back. His expression was wrought with emotion echoed through his grace. "Gabriel. I am sorry."

It was too much – the anger, the guilt, the fear. Gabriel yelled wordlessly, letting go as he felt Castiel move close and embrace him.

I should have been here! I'm supposed to protect him, Cas!

"He is not lost. Sam is strong."

Gabriel found himself clinging to the other angel and buried his face against Castiel's shoulder. I swore I'd keep them from touching him again. What they did—! Where are they? I have to get him back before anything happens.

As Gabriel's outburst began to subside, Castiel's grace reached out again and gently wrapped around him to provide further comfort. "Did you and Raphael determine a way to stop them?"

When Gabriel spoke he was surprised to hear how hoarse he sounded; "Yes." He brought a trembling hand to his face and wiped at the tears on his cheeks. "Yes, we were preparing when..." he gestured broadly.

"If you feel composed, I believe we should join the others and have you explain the plan," Castiel said.

Gabriel nodded and stepped back. He folded his wings out of sight and into his vessel; he tucked away his grace until it no longer threatened exposure to the humans. Part of him wanted to argue against further involving the others, but the fight was as much theirs as his, and when it came to facing two Fallen archangels, additional help would be invaluable.

They joined the hunters downstairs and Bobby stared pointedly at the broken glass where the living room windows used to be. Gabriel snapped, silently fixing the broken windows throughout the house.

Castiel asked, "Where is Crowley?"

"He's checking with sources to see about locating where Sam was taken," Bobby said.

Dean crossed and uncrossed his arms, looking restless and ready to start pacing at any moment. "You guys figure out a way to take these bastards out once and for all?"

"We'll be able to strip their power. It requires preparation, which we were working on before I... came back here." Gabriel felt his fingernails digging into his palms as his hands fisted. "Two parts. There's a potion – for lack of a better word – that has to hit their vessels' skin. Then there's an incantation."

A huff of what sounded like relieved laughter escaped Bobby. "Heh. Sounds like the odds just got better."

"Won't be easy, but it significantly simplifies the fight," Gabriel agreed. He crossed his arms and started pacing. "We have to find them. I'm not letting them lay their grimy hands on Sammy a moment longer."

"When we've got the location, we go together," Bobby stated firmly. Gabriel turned to meet the hunter's serious gaze. "Rush off on your own, they're just gonna use you against Sam. The boy's stupid in love with you. Don't give them more ammunition."

*

Sam came to awareness confused. He wasn't sure if he was really awake or if he was just moving, once again, from one nightmare to the next. This one didn't seem to be based on any particular flashback, not in terms of setting at least. He vaguely identified old farming equipment in the vast expanse of an industrial sized barn space. He was strapped upright to a vertical beam, his body stuck fast against the beam, and chains around his wrists held his arms spread above his head. He looked around to get further details and shifted through his other senses' input, like the smell of mold and dust and... blood.

He turned his head and was surprised to see Crowley lying prone on the floor within a devil's trap. One of the demon's legs was obviously broken and blood soaked up along the pant leg as well as staining the floor. No one else seemed to be around at the moment, leaving Sam more confused. What was going on? He had vague memories of holding a conversation with Raphael. He'd been in his head, trapped under the weight of countless memories and the active manipulation of Lucifer...

Lucifer. Michael. They were out of the Cage.

Sam felt suddenly much more aware and he twisted in place, trying to get a better view of his surroundings. He could turn his head and get a pretty good view of the area, but anything behind him was a loss. He looked again at Crowley, his heart sinking. "Crowley?" he called to the demon. "Hey, are you doing okay?"

A long moment passed with Sam anxiously holding his breath, but finally the demon stirred and his head lifted. Crowley glared at Sam and hissed, "Fucking fantastic. What do you think, idiot?"

Sam huffed a relieved sigh. "Do you know where we are?"

A different and intimately familiar voice answered, "Back near where all of this began for you."

Sam swallowed hard and turned his head in the direction of Lucifer's voice. The Devil stepped into view with a disturbingly delighted smile. "Hello, Sam. Glad you could join us in the land of consciousness. Wouldn't want you to miss our little soirée."

Crowley's muffled cry of pain snapped Sam's attention back to the side and he saw Michael standing with his foot grinding into the demon's broken leg.

"You've been sorely missed," Lucifer said as he drew close. He lifted a hand and gripped Sam's chin so that the human couldn't turn away. Sam shuddered at the feel of Lucifer's fingers stroking the sensitive skin of his throat. "How long do you think it will take for your little 'team' to get here, Sam? I'm afraid Michael doesn't have my patience, and we wouldn't want our pitiful little Crossroads king to die before our other guests arrive."

"Leave him alone," Sam whispered.

The smirk on Lucifer's lips widened and his eyebrows rose. "What makes you think you can ruin our fun?" The Devil used his free hand to tug at the chain wrapped around Sam's wrist.

Lucifer fingered the skin around the chain. "You're exactly where you're supposed to be. You didn't really think you would escape forever?" The Devil leaned close, his breath brushing across Sam's cheek as he said, "You said 'yes', Sam. You're mine. Do you remember everything, now? How you broke beneath my touch and submitted? Or must I remind you? Perhaps when your friends are here to watch."

Sam couldn't pull away from the hold Lucifer had on him, but he squeezed his eyes shut and tried to block the Fallen archangel's words. His still healing mind ached with the memories rolling beneath the surface of freshly healed scars and he felt sick to his stomach. Goosebumps rose on his skin as he shivered.

"Sammy, don't be like that," Lucifer coaxed. The air around them changed, seemed to become charged with unnatural energy, and Sam opened his eyes just enough to confirm that the angel had released his wings. Unlike the prism light of Gabriel's, Lucifer's wings flickered like lightening and the sparks of a downed power line; violent, dark, threatening.

"Brother, why don't you leave our other guest for a while and get reacquainted with Sam here?" Lucifer rubbed his thumb over Sam's bottom lip and then pulled away. He looked over at Michael with an arched eyebrow. "Wouldn't want to wear anyone out before the rest of the guests arrive."

Michael snorted derisively. With a last kick aimed at Crowley's ribs, the archangel walked away from the devil's trap.

"It's been too long." Michael's hand rose and the human flinched. A toothy smile spread across the archangel's lips as he patted Sam's cheek. "Oh Sam, I did miss you." He snapped his fingers and a dark-bladed dagger appeared in his hand. As he cut away Sam's shirt, he murmured, "I want you to scream for me. I want you to scream for my Father to save you. But he will never come, and this will never end."

*

They hadn't heard from Crowley. With every passing hour and the sun getting lower, Bobby looked grimmer. The group kept busy preparing supplies and weapons, searching for signs of the archangels' location, and discussing plans for how to dispense the required "potion."

After hours of waiting and no solid leads, Raphael arrived with the necessary potions and important news. "We have their location," Raphael announced as soon as he produced the solutions; each one was sealed in a small glass sphere.

Gabriel stared intently as he accepted one of the four orbs. "Where?"

Raphael handed another sphere to Castiel, and after a long staring match with Dean, he handed the last two to the elder Winchester.

The archangel answered, "Balthazar found signs leading to Kansas and investigation has made obvious they are awaiting confrontation in Lawrence."

With a grimace, Dean said, "Beginning and end, huh."

"Anything else?" Bobby prompted.

"They have an additional prisoner," Raphael confirmed. "A demon?"

Bobby didn't look surprised, but his posture tensed and his expression tightened. Dean glanced sidelong at him a moment, and Gabriel briefly touched the older hunter's arm. They couldn't discount the good luck that Crowley hadn't been killed outright.

Gabriel met Raphael's gaze and asked, "Do you still plan to come with us?"

With a nod, Raphael said, "I am best prepared for the incantation. I assume you have determined how to apply the solutions?"

"Yeah, we got the options narrowed down," Dean said. He looked down at the spheres in his hand. "Got a couple extra shots, I see."

"But that's all," Raphael cautioned. "The whole container is not required, but more than half the contents must meet the vessel's skin."

"We understand," Castiel agreed.

"Ready, boys?" Gabriel asked, forcing himself to sound more confident than he felt.

"Let's end this bullshit," Dean answered, expression dark. "Take these fuckers out once and for all."

Gabriel could feel Raphael's reluctance to engage in battle, but that was why they had worked on coming up with a way to strip the Fallen archangels of power. They needed to be subdued, that was something they could all agree on. Gabriel wasn't exactly keen on the idea of killing his brothers, but it if it came down to it... well, he'd made his choice months ago. He still wished he'd made the decision earlier and spared Sam all the pain and trouble. He needed to make up for it now and he swore he would.

*

The angels transported their human companions to the grain mill where Raphael reported that Michael and Lucifer had been seen. They appeared in the middle of the grain mill, loosely positioned in a semi-circle. Gabriel saw Crowley first, the demon caught in a devil's trap with a broken leg and a disturbing amount of blood. Bobby started forward and Gabriel had to catch him by the shoulder as he took in the rest of the scene.

Wings spread wide and sparking with malevolent energy, Lucifer turned to face them. "At last, the rest of our guests arrive." His gaze trailed over the group; his lip curled briefly upon seeing Raphael, but eventually he settled his stare on Gabriel and his smile widened. "And it is so good to see you again, Gabriel."

Lucifer stepped aside, making a sweeping gesture with arm and wings to indicate the sight he had been blocking. A couple yards away, Michael stood in front of Sam, who was tied to a vertical beam with his arms above his head. Michael dragged a dagger across already marked skin. Gabriel felt sick at the sight of countless open cuts and burns covering his lover's bare torso, neck, and arms. A moment later, he found out how the burns had been made. Michael's wings – radiating ugly, corrupted grace – flickered into sight and moved to brush against Sam's skin. Whereas the human had kept silent except for small gasps as the blade cut into him, the twisted grace scraping against his flesh pulled a pleading cry from his lips. Sam seemed unable to look beyond Michael, a glazed look in his eyes as he twitched and flinched at every touch of blade or graze of wings.

"Oh you should see your faces," Lucifer murmured, eyes lighting up with perverse pleasure.

Dean started forward, "You fucking dickhead—" Lucifer barely glanced away from Gabriel as he threw up his arm; with a sharp gesture, the hunters flew backwards and the angels had to fight to stay on their feet. Gabriel heard the sound of glass breaking and Dean cursing violently behind him.

"How much do you really know?" Lucifer asked, moving closer to Gabriel. "Do you know how many times I broke him down until he begged and pleaded for an end? Do you know about all the times he willingly submitted? It was always the best when you – well, not really you – were there. Just one little detail and it made things so much more interesting."

"Get out of my way," Gabriel threatened as Lucifer again moved between the archangel and his lover.

"Oh let Michael work, he's been rather distraught since Sam got so rudely pulled away. I think you'll be interested to see his work, too. It's rather creative for someone who was so straight-laced and following Daddy's orders for so long."

Lucifer grinned at Gabriel. "Did you even think that your claim might be challenged? Sam isn't yours, Brother. He was mine from the start and I never agreed to share him with you." Lucifer nodded in the direction of Michael. "But see how well he marks up. How easy it is to fall back into place. It will never end for him. You can't take it away, your pitiful pagan made her attempt to make things 'less painful' on his mortal psyche, but look how it fell and crumbled. He will always be on the edge of break down. Leave him to us, Brother. Walk away and I'll consider letting your other humans live."

Beyond the Devil, Michael pressed closer and the meeting of his wing pressing flush against Sam's side caused a violent shower of sparks that brought out a choked sob from human lungs. For the first time, Michael glanced away from the human and in the direction of the other angels. His eyes were darkly lit and he met Gabriel's stare with a toothy grin. "He'll never be yours again. He makes the best sounds. Have you truly heard him scream?" He switched the dagger to his other hand and reached up to curl his fingers around Sam's arm where Gabriel's sigil was tattooed. He gazed again at Gabriel and tilted his head. "Can't have this here anymore. Just doesn't quite fit with the rest, does it." His hand began to glow.

Enraged, Gabriel flew past Lucifer as Castiel charged the Devil, moving him out of the way just in time for Gabriel to pass. Gabriel tackled Michael, yanking his brother down as he used his other hand to free the glass orb he carried. As they hit the floor, their wings outspread and clashing with bright light and a sound like a thunderclap, he cupped the glass in his palm and threw the sphere directly into Michael's face. The orb shattered, its contents spreading across the Fallen angel's face and into shallow cuts left by glass shards. Gabriel pulled his hand away and flicked off the few drops of liquid that had splashed onto his skin.

Michael retaliated by wrestling Gabriel onto his back. He punched the younger archangel in the face, cracking his cheek bone. The second punch stung a little less, and Gabriel caught Michael's next swing. Michael's wings were flickering in and out of sight, growing dimmer with every passing moment. As Gabriel maneuvered beneath his brother, he could hear Raphael speaking the incantation, weakening Michael's body. Gabriel released his hold and kicked out, knocking Michael back in an impressive arc. The Fallen archangel stumbled, unbalanced by his draining grace.

Gabriel looked up in time to see Lucifer fling Castiel into a bank of machinery. Dean had made it back to his feet and was closing in. The hunter threw his unbroken potion sphere, but Lucifer turned and the glass broke on his shoulder.

Lucifer sneered as the potion soaked into his sleeve ineffectively. He didn't run, not even as his focus caught on Michael raging about his sapping power. Instead, the Devil flew to Sam's side and thrust his hand at the human's torso. Dean shouted in denial and Gabriel felt paralyzed by the fear that the other angel had ripped into Sam's body.

But it was worse than that. Sam screamed, a harsh, drawn-out cry that broke in time with the burst of light where Lucifer plunged in to tear at the human's soul.

Gabriel was barely aware of moving. One moment he stood frozen in place and in the next he had his hand wrapped around his sword as it plunged into his brother's chest. Gabriel stared at where the blade protruded from his brother's torso for a long moment, almost stunned that they were standing there with roles reversed. He looked up and met Lucifer's incredulous, almost... impressed stare. Lucifer grunted softly, eyes narrowed, but he didn't release Sam's soul, seemed to even tighten his hold and tug just that much harder. Sam cried out again, the light of his soul fluctuating in the painful grip. Gabriel pressed hard with his sword and felt a half-remembered pain of his own stabbing as his blade thrust upward. Lucifer's eyes rolled and his eyelids shut. Finally his hand slipped free and he slid to the floor as Gabriel released his hold on the sword.

He stared at his older brother as the last of his grace flared up. He instinctively shielded Sam from the blast, distantly hoping that the other humans were protected. Lucifer lay still, dark imprints of multiple wings scorched into the floor at Gabriel's feet, the hilt of Gabriel's sword still gleaming from where it sank into the archangel's chest.

Sam's hoarse whimper of Gabriel's name caught the angel's attention. Gabriel forced himself to look away and lock down hard on the emotions threatening to overwhelm him. Sam's soul had been damaged enough to bleed and the human had to be walking the line of delirium; it was important to heal the wound quickly. Gabriel pressed his hands firmly over Sam's sternum and let threads of his grace pull back the strands of Sam's soul that had bled out and did his best to fill in the painful gaps. As soon as the soul seemed intact, Gabriel moved his hands to Sam's face and gently cupped his lover's cheeks as he pushed his grace to heal the wounds covering the human's body. He freed one hand and with a snap, Sam's arms dropped from where they'd been bound and the human collapsed against him.

"Gabriel," Sam murmured again, sounding more aware than he had so far. Sam remained limp in Gabriel's arms as the archangel walked them a few feet away and lowered Sam to the floor.

Dean came into view and knelt at Sam's other side. The elder Winchester met Gabriel's gaze briefly. "Thank you," he said quietly before turning his attention to Sam. "Scared the crap out of me, dude. We've got you now."

Sam's eyes rolled to the side to look at his brother through half closed lids. "'S good. Crowley alright?"

"Idiot, always caring for everyone else," Dean teased quietly. He looked over his shoulder to where Bobby and Castiel were moving Crowley out of the devil's trap. Angelic healing couldn't be used much, given a demon's reaction to grace; Crowley would be in for a more human-like recovery in the days to come.

"He'll be okay," Gabriel answered.

Sam's gaze returned to Gabriel and he frowned, eyebrows scrunching together in a look of concentration. "You... I'm so sorry," he whispered.

Gabriel shook his head and closed his eyes. He pressed a finger against Sam's lips to silence any further apology, which he was sure his lover would try to offer. "No. I... I had no choice." He wanted to say more but words failed him and he felt so drained, numb. Opening his eyes, Gabriel looked down and found Sam watching him sleepily but with a look of understanding. Sam lifted his hand and wrapped his finger's around Gabriel's wrist. The angel changed position until their fingers entwined.

"What happens to him?" Dean asked. Gabriel looked up as Dean nodded in the direction of Raphael standing over a subdued, catatonic-looking Michael.

Raphael, apparently having heard the question, looked in their direction. His expression was closed but Gabriel could feel some of his own regret, anger, and sorrow echoing back from his brother.

"He has very little strength for now. The Host has established a place where he can be kept. We will watch him as he recovers." Raphael's gaze slipped aside. "Michael's power will never fully return without intervention. But I... sincerely hope he will one day rejoin us."

Dean looked incredulous but was surprisingly tactful and didn't comment. The human nodded his acknowledgement and looked back to Sam.

Raphael returned his gaze to Gabriel. "I will secure Michael in Heaven. Your... companion still requires guidance in healing." He hesitated before continuing. "As do you, Gabriel. If you wish, I will return to assist the process."

Releasing a slightly shaky sigh, Gabriel shrugged one shoulder. "We'll talk first. Can I contact you if we choose your help?"

Raphael's expression softened and amidst the grim emotions lingering between them, a thread of loving assurance reached out. "Of course, brother."

"Thank you," Gabriel murmured before looking away. Sam was half asleep in his arms, the human's head resting against his shoulder. Gabriel pressed his cheek against his lover's hair and breathed deeply.

"Hey," Bobby's gruff voice broke the silence. He and Castiel held Crowley up between them. When the others looked up, he said, "Let's go home."

***

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