March 18th, 2011

Blank Pages Masterpost

Title: Blank Pages

Author: 1_with_Russia (Kari Kurofai)

Artist: vicious_sock

Genre/Pairing: Historical Crossover? Pairings: Gabriel/Sam, background Dean/Castiel, alluded to Crowley/Bobby, Crowley/Aziraphale, Merlin/Arthur.

Rating: R

Word count: 52509? -ish?

Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers for all of season 5. Possible spoilers for the BBC Series Merlin. Spoilers for Good Omens. Warning, WARPED VEIW OF HISTORY. :]

Summary: Sequel to Open Pages

Dean, Castiel, and Sam set out to find a way of returning Gabriel, stuck in a childlike form after his supposed death, to his rightful, normal annoying self. But while they get advice from an old friend Balthazar lays out his plans for revenge ending in the ultimate demise of the last Archangel. When Kali comes into play with a final offer, and the only solution, Sam decides to make a blood bond with the miniaturized Archangel that unknowingly sends him on a trip through Gabriel’s best, and more often than not his worst memories. In the end, it’s up to Sam to make the choice whether or not to complete the bond or let Gabriel die.

 

Link to fic: Full
 Part 1
 Part 2
 Part 3
 Part 4
Part 5
 Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
 Part 10
 Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14

Link to art:Here


Blank Pages Part 1


Blank Pages: When Everything’s Made To Be Broken

 

 

 

 

 

Dean Winchester loved the feel of the open road. He relished the sound of rubber rolling over gravel and blacktopped roads, the strong guttural roar of the Impala’s engine, and the blaring beat of Ramblin’ On from the car’s tape deck. As much as he loved the open road and the pleasant sense of peace and solitude it had given him in his early years, the extra weight in his baby was just as nice.

The passenger seat, normally occupied by his brother Sam bore a relaxed looking angel of the Lord that day, who turned a shy smile to Dean when he noticed the Hunter’s eyes on him. Dean grinned back, taking in the smooth sweeps of the tan trench coat that billowed up around Castiel’s legs and the sky blue tie the same shade as the angel’s eyes hanging askew from his collar.

Just behind the angel sat Sam, who had a handful of toy soldiers strewn about in his lap, a rather comical sight considering his not-so-childlike size. He raised an amused eyebrow when he noticed his brother staring through the refection in the mirror, before turning back to what he’d been doing. Beside the younger Winchester sat a small boy. Or at least, you’d think he was a boy if it weren’t for the mottled feathers in shades of black protruding from his shoulder blades. He too had a lapful of little army men, and his honey-gold eyes were fixed on them as he played with Sam, peering up at the Hunter through auburn brown bangs with a laugh.

It was because of this child that they were on the road again, so soon after their ordeal with Raphael and Meg just a month before. Castiel had insisted, a motion that was only urged on by Crowley’s warnings that an angel as powerful as Gabriel could not be contained within a child’s body for much longer.

Gabriel

As if sensing the turmoil in the Hunter’s thoughts, Castiel reached over and squeezed Dean’s shoulder comfortingly. Dean smirked, watching as Sam observed the silent exchange with a roll of his eyes from the back seat. “Problem, Sammy?” he asked teasingly.

“No,” Sam muttered, looking away. Sam had always been an observer, even as a child. Watch, listen, sense, and learn; that’s how it had been since he was small. So it had come to no surprise to him when a little over a month ago the only way to save Castiel’s life was True Loves First Kiss. From Dean. He smirked to himself, thinking back to the mortified look on his brother’s face when innocent little Gabriel had presented him with the solution to keeping one renegade angel intact. However, as an observer, he was becoming increasingly annoyed with the fact that thus far, Castiel and Dean had yet to do anything more than that. A quick kiss here and there, a light brush of the hands or soft touches when they thought Sam wasn’t looking, but that was it.

It was odd to the younger Winchester that Dean hadn’t jumped the angel’s bones already, being Dean and all. He surmised it was some kind of purity issue, possibly even a nagging doubt in his brother’s mind about committing some sort of grievant sin. All the same though, Sam was slowly scheming to trick the little group into getting two rooms instead of the usual one. Then he could get rid of the general UST and do some legit research on their current predicament, AKA returning one archangel to full size and power.

Gabriel stood up in his seat then and climbed over into Castiel’s lap, ignoring Dean’s protests about safety and “Put the kid in a damn seatbelt!”, Sam simply laughed, amused before he went back to sneakily playing with the plastic soldiers all by himself. Castiel looked pleased, and undid his own seatbelt (earning a reprimand from Dean in the process) and holding out his hands towards the other angel, palm up. Gabriel giggled and smacked them, launching into a long practiced game of patty-cake with his brother.

It was a calming scene for Dean to watch his little rag-tag family. “Settle down,” Sam had urged him over a year a half ago now, “Live that apple pie life you’ve always wanted. Be happy, for God’s sake.” And he was. He had tried to be for a short time with Lisa, but as with everything that had ever made him mildly content, it just hadn’t worked out. Plus, the nagging feeling of the Hunt calling him back had always been there in his heart and mind.

Dean had always been a man of the road, and he was perfectly happy to have it remain

that way. Sitting still in one place too long made his skin crawl with apprehension, dreading the day some creature would find him and extract its rather dull and unjustified revenge. And now, just like Sam had wanted him to, he had his family.

There was his brother, who Dean knew he couldn’t live without and would sacrifice himself for again and again if it came down to it. Sam would do the same. There was Castiel, his angel who had “Raised him from perdition” and whispered soft I Love You’s to Dean in the night when he thought the Hunter was sound asleep. After that was Bobby, his father in all but blood, and, grudgingly, Crowley, who’s saved their asses a couple dozen times by now and who they owed more than they wanted to admit. Hey, at least he seemed to genuinely care for Bobby, thought he aging Hunter chose to ignore 99.9% of the affections directed at him from the demon.

And then there was Gabriel, or Gabe as Sam so adoringly called the little archangel. They’d discovered him when Castiel had gone missing a little more than a month ago, hiding out in a suburbia playground with nothing but his name to console him. He had no memories, little controllable powers, and possessed the typical vocabulary of a four year old. Next to none. Sam wouldn’t let him leave his sight, and Dean couldn’t say for sure whether it was out of guilt or something else that made his brother look at the archangel like he did. To Gabriel, they were his family just as much as they were Dean’s. Castiel was his “little” brother, who he enjoyed playing with the most out of anyone, though Cass wasn’t the best company when it came down to it. He was getting better though, and these days even had a small smile on his face whenever Gabriel tugged at his hand or whispered secret child whisperings to him. Dean was his father, or at least the Hunter was treated as such. Gabriel held his hand when they went grocery shopping or crossed the street, and he went to Dean with his biggest questions, large golden eyes begging for answers to things even Dean sometimes couldn’t fathom. Bobby was his grandfather; the one he insisted should read him bedtime stories and whose lap he always wanted to sit in. Unfortunately, Bobby was also the one who got the brunt of Gabriel’s jokes, possibly unconscious revenge emerging from his Trickster personality. Crowley was simply the demon, the man the little archangel would stare at around corners in Bobby’s old house, shying away whenever Crowley looked at him but never coming within ten feet of the man.

And Sam? Sam was . . . Well, Dean wasn’t entirely sure what Sam was to Gabriel. He was the adult the angel ran to when he was scared, or had had a nightmare and needed someone to hold onto him through the remainder of the night. And Sam took diligent care of the fledgling as he would his own child, except that metaphor seemed off and somehow wrong to Dean. It was just another reason why this trip was so crucial. They needed to find out a way to change Gabriel back to normal as soon as possible, for Sam’s sake. Every day his brother’s eyes grew more and more anguished when he looked at Gabriel, guilt and fear and something Dean couldn’t name swimming in viridian green depths.

If he thought about it, Dean had to admit that he’d miss the kid when he turned back into an annoying bastard again. He’d always liked having someone who depended on him, or called up that “Maternal instinct” as Sam had so kindly put it one time. But Sam was grown, and though Dean loved to pretend he still needed him Sam had always had that independent streak to him. It was quite frustrating, really. As for Castiel, he and Dean were equals (in Dean’s mind anyways), so that didn’t fill in the blank for Dean either. For now, Gabriel did, and if the kid became an annoying jerk again he would miss it.

“I wannna sister, Tass,” Gabriel spoke up suddenly. The car swerved as Dean’s hands slipped on the wheel momentarily.

Castiel raised an eyebrow, pointedly ignoring Sam’s hysterical laughter from the back seat, “If Dean and I had a child it would be your niece, not your sister,” Castiel said logically, and Dean nearly lost control of the car again. Sam was clutching his sides and fighting for breath at this point.

“Wait, what?” Dean gasped, “What’s all this about kids? I never said anything about kids!”

Gabriel and Castiel both turned their heads in that slightly creepy robotic-angel way to look at him, “You were thinking it,” Castiel said firmly.

“W-was not!” Dean protested. Sure, he’d been thinking about kids in general, that didn’t mean he wanted a half-angel baby with Cass. Right? He coughed, directing his gaze to the road again as Gabriel crossed his arms and pouted.

“Meany-head,” Gabriel muttered, “Tell him he’s a meany-head, Tass!”

Obligingly, Castiel smirked and mouthed, “You’re a meany-head,” to Dean, watching as the corners of the Hunter’s mouth quirked upwards into a lopsided smile before he too laughed, the sound echoing Sam’s own persistent giggle from the back seat.

Yes, this was exactly where he wanted to be for the rest of his life.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO 

Balthazar was not a kind angel. Every movement he made, every miracle he brought about, every step he took between the three planes of this world he did for himself, and himself alone. If an action came with no rewards it was not worth his time, or his thin patience. He’d stood by during the biblical plagues of Egypt, gathering up the newly released souls of first borns like candy on Halloween, bargaining them off to demons and deavas alike. For a price, of course. If he’d had a choice, he would have preferred the lifestyle of a crossroads demon, buying and selling to his heart’s desire and swimming in the riches he was presented with.

But no, he was an angel. All that holy do-gooding la-di-dah that made him gag at the mere thought of it. Sure, he fought his wars when it was required of him, he’d even filled out a few prayers in his time. However, he considered that to be the dullest part of his existence. Wasn’t there supposed to be some higher purpose?

Sure, as an angel he should have been content to be a servant of God. If only he was. The truth of the matter was that Balthazar cared only about himself; not humanity, not his brothers, and certainly not his Father.

If one traced Balthazar’s actions back far enough it would be easy to find the point in time when he’d begun to stop caring about anyone but himself. As with all angels back then, it had been Balthazar’s duty to guard the tree at the center of Eden for a short time, and he’d done his job quite well if he said so himself. At least until the snake came, it’s fangs dripping with the venom of greed. It bit Balthazar in the cover of the night, just as it did Eve, and the movement so fast and swift that the angel never felt a thing.

Soon after Balthazar grew tired of his duties, frustrated with his siblings, and spiteful of his Father. It was then that the snake struck a bargain with him, the first of many the angel would partake in from then on. He was to leave his post, if just for an hour, and allow Eve access to the tree. In return he would be granted a piece of Lucifer’s own Grace, the brightest of them all.

Who could resist such an offer?

It was a small piece, but it still glowed brighter than the sun and the moon combined, even after Lucifer’s Fall from Grace, the most beautiful spark Balthazar had ever seen. It was his most treasured possession, and it made his greed grow.

It was Balthazar who told Michael about the angels down on earth who had bred with humanity, and he’d watched in glee as the garrison in question was struck down and the offspring locked away, never to be seen by living eyes again.

It was Balthazar who’d pointed out the Tower Of Babel to his siblings, taking the riches from it after it had been crumbled to dust.

It was Balthazar who’d convinced his brothers to give humanity another chance, to spare the greedy lowlifes so that he too could continue to roll in the corruption he created. Thus, Noah was given the message to build an arc.

It was Balthazar who brought a gift to The Savior the night of his birth, knowing that to give was to receive. Who better to receive from than God’s son?

And it was Gabriel who Balthazar was jealous of, marking just another sin on his angelic self, Envy. Gabriel got away with everything. He was absent from Heaven for hundreds of years, and not a single angel had noticed the way the archangel played Pagan God down on Earth. No, not Gabriel, he’s an archangel. Even after Balthazar gave them proof they didn’t believe him. Then when Gabriel had taken a liking to the youngest, and the last angel to be born within Heaven, Balthazar seethed.

There was nothing special about Castiel that Balthazar could see. He was an awkward fledgling, and an even more awkward angel. Following orders seemed to be his only purpose in life, and he, like any other angel, possessed little to no real emotion. Yet Gabriel doted on him as he had any of his Pagan born child monstrosities, maybe even more. It made Balthazar sick. There wasn’t a single thing special about the little angel of Thursday, the weakest, the youngest, the most inexperienced of all the brethren. Yet somehow, Balthazar was overlooked, and Castiel stood in the light of Gabriel’s Grace. Always.

“One day his actions will change the world as we know it,” Gabriel had told him once, watching Castiel with a fond look. Of course he would know, as the Angel of Prophecy, what the future would hold. There was some great and divine destiny for Castiel, of course there was. But for Balthazar? How many times could an angel be overlooked before it got to be too much?. Dean still could hardly believe it when he looked at the fledgling riding in the backseat of his car. This was the Trickster that had wrecked havoc on a college campus, trapped the brothers in an endless time loop of hundreds of Tuesdays, and watched in glee as they tried to play their roles in TV land. Dean sighed, reminding himself that besides that, it had been Gabriel who had died for them and basically handed over the keys to Hell. If it hadn’t been for the archangel, they wouldn’t even be around to face this problem in the first place.
 

Not long after that Gabriel vanished. The others said he died, but Balthazar knew better. Gabriel was too clever, too conniving, too human to simply die. No, he wasn’t dead. He was simply free, one of the many things Balthazar had never been able to obtain. But it was from Gabriel’s disappearance that Balthazar realized how to release himself from heaven’s confines, and truly begin the life he’d always wanted to lead.

He faked his own death in the heat of battle and slunk away into the shadows, not to be seen again for hundreds upon hundreds of years.

Balthazar had not been too pleased with the whole Apocalypse-That-Wasn’t affair. In truth he’d long grown tired of humanity, and saw nothing new in what they could provide him with save for their souls, filthy sinful things that they were, which he sold off first chance he got, . Actually, he’d been rather pleased to learn the world would be ending soon, and that Hell stood a winning chance. He’d always been one of the few on Lucifer’s good side ever since Eden, and the pickings in Hell presented him with whole new opportunities he’d never had before. It was quite exciting.

Until that damn Castiel had gone and put his foot down, screwing up the whole matter for everyone. And for what, some “Righteous Man?” Balthazar gagged on the very thought, remembering the angels he’d turned in for affections towards humanity.

Before Gabriel interfered things were still swinging his way however. The future Dean Winchester had glimpsed courtesy of Zachariah remained basically the same until the lost archangel had done a U-turn and changed his mind, going against the prophecy he knew all too well and getting himself killed.

Balthazar had never hated anyone more than he did in that moment when Gabriel’s Grace sent a shockwave across the earth as he died. From that point on, Team Hell was royally screwed.

Then Castiel the perfect little angel had reinstated heaven, putting out the order for all turncoat angels to be brought into custody. It was only a matter of time before they discovered Balthazar was not as dead as he’d pretended to be.

Which was why he had to act. Balthazar was no idiot, and he’d felt the flare of power from his Father the day shit went down at Stull cemetery. That was, after all, how Castiel had survived. Little known to most, that was how Gabriel survived as well.

The archangel’s Grace was contained in a tight ball, almost unnoticeable if Balthazar hadn’t been looking for it. God forbid the two biggest humanity loving angels should stay dead for any period of time. Though it was hidden to most, Balthazar saw it, for a brief flash of power before it disappeared amidst the rest of Earth’s life.

If he could find Gabriel, if he could kill an archangel, he could use that archangel’s Grace to conceal himself from his searching brethren for eternity, just as Gabriel had for so many years. It would have been the perfect plan except for the fact that he couldn’t actually find Gabriel. He’d managed to follow the faint glow of Grace to a playground in Collins County New Jersey before he lost it entirely. That was a month ago.

 

Balthazar paced in his apartment of the week, twirling his long-unused angel blade between his agile fingers. His eyes flickered to the naked figure bound to his bed and he licked his lips at the sight of the cuts already beginning to scab over. He’d enjoy picking them off one by one. “Where is he?” he asked, baring his teeth.

The figure on the bed glared up at Balthazar defiantly and jerked his head to the side so that his long silver-blond hair fell away from his blue eyes, “I. Don’t. Know.” It was the hundredth time he’d spoken those three words today alone.

“Don’t be like that,” Balthazar crooned, leaning over the man and tracing the scabs on his chest and abdomen.. He paused to watch him shudder with sick satisfaction. “You know you can tell me, Aziraphale. I won’t tattle.”

Aziraphale struggled against his binds and let out a defiant scream that Balthazar ignored. “You’re a monster!” Aziraphale roared, arching his back in an effort to free himself. Balthazar merely blinked.

“Thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment,” Balthazar replied coolly as he touched the tip the tip of the silver blade to Aziraphale’s sternum.

Aziraphale scowled and jerked away as far as he could from his brother, “You’re sick,” he hissed breathlessly, chest heaving for air as he fought down waves of fear.

“Let’s just say a snake bit me,” Balthazar murmured. He blinked, as though just realizing something and a wicked smile worked its way across his face before he cut a long line from collar to navel across Aziraphale’s flesh. “Now that I think about it, you’re friends with that snake, aren’t you.” He grinned as the other angel’s eyes went wide, “You are. What’s his name again? Crawley?”

“Crowley,” Aziraphale spat, the blood welling up from his newest wound, creating spider like whorls across his chest as he spoke, crimson dripping down his sides. “And he has nothing to do with this! You can’t blame your greed on him either; the venom only works on the ones who are already corrupted.”

“Keep telling yourself that. You’re just as corrupted as me,” Balthazar whispered, licking the blood away from the other’s ribs. He smirkd as Aziraphale hissed in disgust. “How long have you been on earth, Aziraphale? Longer than Gabriel even, surely. Which means you would have noticed the archangel’s presence wherever he is.”

The blond grimaced and bared his teeth, “Even if I did, you’d be the last person I’d tell.”

“No, but I know who will,” Balthazar sneered before he dragged the edge of the blade up Aziraphale’s arm with a bored stare, watching the blood well up in its wake. “Crowley has a looser mouth than you, little angel.”

Aziraphale’s blue eyes went wide again, his mouth dropping open, “Don’t you dare-”

“Hurt him? That’s not really up to you.” Balthazar paused, amused, “Oh, don’t tell me you care about the little Hellspawn, Aziraphale.” He laughed when the angel’s mouth set into a tight frown, silence stretching. “Do you love him, angel? Do you love that demon?” He spun the blade in his hands, waiting for an answer that would never come. “Why are you here then, angel? Why not be at his side like you wish to be.”

“It attracts to much attention,” Aziraphale spat, eyeing the silver apprehensively. “A demon and an angel hanging around each other during the midst of an apocalypse? It got us in enough trouble once. It’s safer this way.”

“Or so you thought,” Balthazar mused. His tongue flicked out to taste the tip of the blade, lapping up droplets of blood. “Now there’s no one here to save you, little angel.”

Aziraphale watched the knife lower towards his heart and swallowed, “He’ll kill you,” he whispered. “He won’t rest until he finds you and rips your head from your shoulders.”

“Exactly,” Balthazar laughed, the sound cruel and cold, making Aziraphale wince. “And when he does find me, I’ll be waiting. And I’ll get him to tell me where the last archangel is.” He cocked his head, drinking in the sight of Aziraphale’s defiant, terrified blue eyes. “For now though, your Grace will be enough to keep me hidden.”

The blade plunged down into Aziraphale’s chest and the angel screamed, the white-blue of his Grace ripping itself from his body before Balthazar scooped it into his own, gathering it up with a triumphant laugh as the light died from Aziraphale’s eyes.

 

 

Bobby studied the chessboard contemplatively, deciding on his next move with the utmost care. The boys had never been much of a match for him, not even Sam with his Stanford smarts and skills at thinking ahead. But Bobby had more practice, more time in his later years to spend playing nothing but chess, honing his skills and strategies to his heart’s content. Crowley, however, won half the games they played together. A worthy opponent if he said so himself.

He was about to move his knight into place when Crowley looked up at him over his glass of scotch, mouth half open and eyebrows furrowing together. If Bobby didn’t know better he would have said the look was one of pure anguish. Except that Crowley was a demon, surely he couldn’t feel things like that, but apparently he did. Crowley dropped his glass, the thing shattering on the hardwood floor of the kitchen before he dropped his head into his now empty hands, his entire body giving a heaving shudder. “Crowley?” Bobby stood, wondering if the wounds the demon had received from the deavas were acting up.

“We have to go,” Crowley whispered, the sound coming out in a choked sob. “Gotta find the boys.”

“Wha-”

Crowley raised poison-yellow eyes to him, looking more deadly than Bobby had ever seen him, “Some bloody fool is trying to piss me off and they’re doing a right fucking job of it. Pack your bags, Bobby, we’re leaving before the wanker gets a clue as to where I am.”

Bobby swallowed as he skirted into the other room to grab the emergency pre-packed duffle he always had on hand, “And if he does?”

“I’ll tear him limb from limb, what of it?” Crowley snapped before leading the way towards the truck. Bobby started the engine and checked over his shoulder to make sure the weapons supply in the back seat was ready to go. On the passenger side Crowley had curled up into a tight ball, forehead resting against the glass.


Blank Pages Part 2

Blank Pages: Angel Of Prophecy

 

 

 

 

 

Missouri Mosley went about her days post Failed-Apocalypse like she had the days before it with little change. It wasn’t as though she’d been oblivious to the events that had gone on in the outside world, far from it, she had simply chosen not to do anything about it. There wasn’t much she could have done in the first place, really. She kept track of the weather patterns and demonic activity nationwide, as she’d always done, watching the news with baited breath as a storm like none she’d ever seen whipped up over Chicago one dreary afternoon, knowing it was because of the Winchester boys that it subsided as though it had never been there at all. It was hard to miss the brief ruckus in Detroit as well, the tiny pool of demonic energy that suddenly faded away after lingering for weeks and weeks.

 She knew, instinctively, that Sam had said yes that day, and had sent any customers that called in the next twenty four hours home, urging them to stay with their families and tell their precious people how loved they were if they hadn’t in awhile.

 Because while she was psychic, she was no prophet.

 It was of little surprise to her when she felt the two archangels touch down only a few miles from her, and she clasped her hands together and prayed to a God she wasn’t entirely sure she believed in, waiting and pleading for a miracle even as she felt Dean’s soul shudder with guilt and a sense of the end when he set foot amidst the graves between his brothers.

 What happened then was far from a miracle, but when she thought back she knew that it was the exact destiny that was planned all along, painful and heart wrenching as it was.

 After that she had gone about her business as usual, giving false reassurances to customers who wanted good news, and revealing reality to those who begged nothing but the truth. Missouri had seen a handful of Hunters come and go in her day, but every time she sensed the strong steadfast heart of one approaching, she couldn’t help but look out her window and hope it was those boys or John.

 Of course, it never was.

 It wasn’t hard to miss the Impala’s low, guttural rumble the second it rolled into town however, and Missouri muttered a speedy, “Yes, the baby is yours,” lie before shooing Mr. Wilkins out onto the walk, closing the door and waiting.

 And when one was expecting the Winchesters, there was never too long a wait. She smiled to herself as the sleek black car rolled up in front of her house, barely in park before Dean swung himself out of the driver’s side. He darted around to the passenger door and swung it open with a grin on his face, green eyes dancing as a dark haired man in a trench coat climbed out, folding his arms over the frame of the car door as he murmured something to the Hunter.

 Missouri shook her head, now this was new.

 Sam uncurled from the backseat, stretching out his limbs that were no doubt cramped from the long ride before he reached back inside, grabbing something and hauling it out. Or rather, someone. Missouri chuckled to herself as the small child latched onto the open car door before he could be dragged into the open, letting out a terrible screech, the sound intensified as the psychic opened the window she’d been standing at to hear the conversation that had picked up.

 “Come on,” Sam pleaded, “We’re just going to go inside and have an old friend take a look at you, there’s nothing to be scared of.” The child shook his head furiously, his fingers curled tight around the door to the Impala while Sam tried to drag him out of the car.

 “No!” he squealed when Dean moved to pry his fingers from the door, “It’s scary in there! Scary!” At this point Dean had managed to release his fingers and he screamed bloody murder, flailing in Sam’s arms with a wail of, “Tass! Save me!” before the man with the trench coat intervened and scooped the boy up and tucking him against his shoulder with a disapproving look at the brothers.

 “What?” Dean said innocently, a motion mimicked by his brother, “Don’t look at me like that, Cass, now I feel like I was abusing the kid.” The boy stuck his tongue out at Dean before pressing his face into the dark haired man’s shoulder again, who in turn smirked at Dean, a new expression that made the Hunter take a step back, mouth hanging open.

 “Come on,” the man said evenly before leading the way towards the house, the Hunter trailing behind.

 “Good old Lawrence Kansas,” Dean muttered, watching with mild satisfaction as the child twisted in the other man’s arms, noticing that despite his earlier thoughts that his brother was a place of safety, he was still headed for the house. He screeched, struggling in the man’s grip as though his life depended on it.

 “No! Let me go Tass! I don’t wanna!”

 Missouri decided that now would be a perfect time to make herself known, and pushed the door open, “Well well, it seems like you’ve finally made some friends, Dean,” she smiled, hands on her hips. Behind his brother, Sam snorted into his hands with amusement.

 Dean opened his mouth, but the man beside him held out his hand before he could speak, “I am pleased to meet another friend of Dean’s,” he said, “He’s spoken of you before. My name is Castiel.”

 She shook his hand readily, casting an eye at Dean at the same time, “Polite friends. Goodness me, what did you ever do to deserve this one’s affections?” Dean’s cheeks grew decidedly pink, and he stared at his feet. Turning her gaze back to Castiel she hummed, “Well, it’s good to finally meet you as well, Castiel. Come in, come in,” she pointed a finger at Sam before he could step inside, “Wipe your shoes, sweetie, you have some mud on the left one.”

 Herding the group inside, she bustled them into her living room. Dean plopped down on the couch, eyeing the coffee table warily and earning a glare from Missouri before he grabbed the end of Castiel’s trench coat, tugging the angel down beside him with a frown. Castiel passed the squirming child to Sam when he approached, who took out a large candy bar from his pocket and handed it to the golden eyed boy who immediately quieted and began eating. Dean hissed something about unhealthy habits, and Sam snapped back that it was no worse than a straight diet of burgers, beer, and pie.

 “Settle down, settle down,” Missouri tutted, bringing over a steaming pot of tea as she sat on the sofa opposite, watching as Sam made grabby hands for it and poured himself a cup. “Now before we start, I think I’m owed an apology, correct?” she said over the rim of her own teacup, narrowing her eyes. Dean blinked at her, confused.

 “Uh, what?”

 She glanced at Castiel, “Cuff him over the head for me would you, hun.”

 Castiel did so. Dean put a hand to the lump forming and scowled, “Ow! Cass, why are you listening to her?” The angel rolled his eyes, another new human motion that made Dean stare, before he hooked an arm around Dean’s shoulders and pulled the Hunter to him, kissing the place on the top of his head he’d smacked only seconds before.

 “Because you’re an idiot,” he explained evenly, ignoring Dean’s embarrassed sputter of protest at the affection before the other noticed that the dull throb of the bump was gone once the angel touched him. “She’s upset that after six years, the only reason you’re visiting is because you need her help again.”

 Sam seemed to get the hint first, and looked away, ashamed, “Sorry, Missouri.” The sentiment was repeated by Dean when Castiel glared at him. “We didn’t think-” the younger brother went on.

 “No you didn’t,” Missouri cut in, taking a long sip of her tea and setting it down, adding a cube of sugar. “You didn’t think that there might be other people out there who were worried about you two boys all this time.”

 Dean scowled, folding his hands on his knees, “We were kinda busy,” he muttered.

 “Busy is just a code word for, ‘I don’t want to get attached,’ for you boys. Please do remember that I can see through your poor excuses,” Missouri chided. She directed her attention at Sam again, “And don’t make faces at me behind my back, boy,” she added with a smirk as Dean went rigidly still behind her, his tongue still hanging out between his lips. Castiel rolled his eyes. “Now Sam, what have we here?” Missouri smiled, gesturing at the small boy balanced on the Hunter’s knees.

 Sam situated the child in his lap, taking out a napkin from his pocket and wiping chocolate from the boy’s cheek absently as he spoke. “Well, we’re in a bit of a mess, Missouri. And we weren’t too sure where to go from here.”

 “And with your personal prophet missing, you decided to come to me,” she surmised.

 “We haven’t really seen Chuck since the Apocalypse-That-Wasn’t,” Dean explained. “Except for the one time he contacted us last month. But it was some sort of fluke, because he’s still missing.”

 “Maybe he simply doesn’t want to be found,” Missouri said simply, putting her teacup down on its saucer before looking at Sam once more “So this mess you’re in, it has to do with the child?”

 In Sam’s lap, the boy stilled, eyes fixed on the psychic, “Yeah, for the most part,” Sam replied. “Missouri, meet Gabriel, the archangel.” Gabriel pressed his face into Sam’s shirt, not meeting her eyes.

 Missouri laughed, “An archangel, huh? I should have guessed, his power is much fiercer than Castiel’s from what I could feel.”

 Dean raised an eyebrow, “You knew Cass was an angel?”

 “Of course, dear,” Missouri huffed, “What do you take me for? Only a complete idiot wouldn’t have known. I recognized his presence immediately when he entered here.”

 “Recognized-” Dean started only to be silenced when Castiel clamped a hand over his mouth.

 “It’s of little import,” the angle said in his gravelly voice, “I have a question for you, Ms. Mosley.”

 “Fire away,” she smiled.

 Castiel nodded, clearly grateful for the chance to speak freely, “Before we can begin searching for a way to undo the curse on this child, we need to be able to hide him better than we have been. You see, his wings . . .” As if on cue Gabriel lifted up his arms, Sam drawing off the large hoodie he’d been wearing so that the pair of dark feathered wings could unfurl from his shoulder blades, extending out and flapping once.

 “I do see,” Missouri said, awed, “He certainly can’t walk around like that in public, now can he.”

 “It is a bit of a pain,” Dean admitted, chin resting in his hands now. Gabriel squirmed and Sam let him go, watching as the fledgling bounced down from his lap to examine the candy bowl sitting on the end coffee table. “Which is why we need a solution,” the Hunter went on, “ And Sammy, don’t let the kid eat the whole bowl,” he added, casting a glare at the little archangel as Gabriel shoved a hand into the midst of the chocolates. Dean snorted and turned his attention back to Missouri, “Anyways, if we’re going cross country to look for a way to undo whatever Lucifer did to him, we can’t keep Sam holed up in the motel with him all day. We’d never get anything done.”

 “Sam is the brains of the pair of you,” Missouri smiled. Dean scowled at her in return. “I’ll see what I can do,” she promised.

 Castiel nodded thankfully to her, “Also, before his wings became corporal, Dean tells me he had markings on his back, tattoos, in the shape of his wings. Is that-”

 “A binding seal,” Missouri confirmed, “Yes, I can definitely help you then. Let me go get some things,” She stood, smoothing out the edges and newly formed wrinkles on her dress, “Come with me, Castiel. You can help me carry some things while I bounce a few ideas off of you.”

 Dean watched them go before he stood as well and walked over to where Gabriel was digging around in the candy jar. “No more for you, young man,” the Hunter chided, scooping the fledgling up and tucking him under one arm like a sack of potatoes all the while ignoring Gabriel’s exasperated whine. “No matter what Sam says, you’ve had enough sweets today for five kids. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much.”

 “If only you could hear yourself talk,” Sam grinned as he stretched and reached over to punch his brother lightly in the arm, “And then listen to your own advise.”

 “I’m a model citizen,” sniffed Dean before he paused and moved Gabriel to his shoulders, wincing slightly as the archangel fisted his tiny hands into short cropped hair for support. “I am the image of perfection.”

 Sam grunted in false agreement, “If you say so. I’d hate to see a world where you’re the ideal.”

 “You’re lookin’ at it,” Dean smirked.

 

 In the kitchen, Castiel examined the jars passed to him from Missouri’s cabinet, fascinated, “I’ve never seen some of these things before.”

 “Neither have those boys, I’m sure,” Missouri agreed. “It’s just some basic ingredients for a salve that will replace a seal. Considering the one in question is an archangel’s work and most likely planned for such a situation, it shouldn’t be too terribly hard to reseal it.” She held up two jars to the light, narrowing her eyes at the contents, “I wish I could see the original tattoos though, or something similar. I can’t be sure whether to use the elder flowers, or the berries.” She chose the jar in her right hand, passing it to the angel. “So, now that Dean’s not here, you can ask, sweetie.”

 Castiel blinked, “You knew I had a question on my mind?”

 Missouri cast him a glance over her shoulder, “It was written all over your face as soon as you walked in. I don’t need to read your mind to know that. And since you’re wondering, no, I can’t read all angels like that. Of course, then again, you’re one of the only two I’ve met in person.” Cass started to open his mouth, “You’re very human, hun, despite your Grace. You’re no harder to see through than Sam is. Like him you’re just a little inhuman, but with more than enough heart to make up for it.”

 “Thank you,” Castiel swallowed, staring at the jars in his arms, unsure of how to go on. “I . . . That means more to me than you know. For awhile, I was scared I had lost what had once made me human.”

 “Humanity is gained, never lost,” Missouri soothed, tossing him another jar.

 Castiel breathed out and caught the jar before he spoke again, “I want to ask about Dean,” he explained. “Recently . . . There was an incident which forced him to reexamine what I mean to him, and I’m not sure he’s taken it as well as he could have in different circumstances.” His voice wavered slightly before he added a hushed, “Or at all.”

 “You wonder if he loves you,” Missouri summarized, “Or whether what happened a month ago was simply a fluke. Worse, you believe it may have been Gabriel’s own chosen ending to that chapter in your lives.” She didn’t look up as the angel nodded, blue eyes downcast at the thought. “But you dare not look into his mind because you promised him his space and privacy, is that it?”

 “Yes.”

 “Then you cannot ask me to do so in your place, Castiel,” piling one last jar into his arms, she smiled before steering him towards the china cabinet and pulling out a bowl. “Your uncertainties of his feelings are something you must face alone. But,” she held up a finger as he opened his mouth to protest, “If I had to give any sound advice it would be this: Dean trusted you with all his heart not long ago, and then you left him. His strongest feeling right now is the same as yours: uncertainty. Place those jars on the counter child and open them for me, would you?” she ordered, watching as he spread them out, uncapping them on her direction. “Above all,” She went on, “what that boy needs is someone he can trust without hesitation. He had it once in you; he can very well have it again. But you can’t keep secrets from him, angel. And you must be willing to show that you too trust him in return.”

 “But I do,” Castiel protested as he grabbed a spoon from a drawer as she pointed to it. “I’ve always trusted Dean.” Missouri raised a skeptical eyebrow, taking the spoon and measuring out ingredients into the bowl.

“Always?” she questioned softly, “There was not a moment when your faith in him wavered?” Castiel shifted where he stood, and his hands slid into the pockets of his trench coat; knowing she had used to word “faith” for a reason.

 “I’m sorry, Dean. I just don’t have the same faith in you Sam does.”

"I was hoping he had forgotten," he murmured almost innaudibly

The psychic shook her head, letting out a sigh, “No, honey. Words like that are hard to forget when they come from someone you trust. Just as Sam can still hear his brother’s warning to never come back when he closes his eyes. Things like that, broken trust and bonds, are what wound the heart the most. Dean remembers, just as clearly as you do.”

 

 Castiel frowned, his hands forming fists in his pockets. “So it’s my fault?” he whispered.

 “No,” Missouri said as she spooned up some white powder and dumped it into the bowl. “One party is never entirely responsible. Dean shows the same amount of emotion as a rock despite what he may feel inside, and you’re not much better. The two of you are a perfect pair that way, and both equally at fault because of it.” She pointed the spoon at him as though brandishing a knife, “But for now, it is up to you to fix it. Dean’s done all he can, True Love’s First Kiss and all, and has walled himself up, scared of being abandoned again. You can’t blame him for acting like that, after all he’s been through. If you want him to reveal what he feels you have to break down those walls and show him you will never leave again.”

 “I can’t promise him that,” Castiel protested, “If Heaven needs me I-”

“Then leave now,“ Missouri’s eyes narrowed, her gaze suddenly dangerous as she looked at him again, “and never come back. The sooner you decide where your loyalties lie, the less it will hurt Dean. If you truly cared about him, you would know what to do.”

 

Gabriel was sitting on Dean’s shoulders, the Hunter hanging on to his calves as the fledgling tried to touch the ceiling. “Be taller, Dean,” he commanded, frustrated when his fingers failed to reach no matter how high he stretched, his little dark wings flapping as though he meant to take off then and there.

 “If he could he would have surpassed me years ago,” Sam chuckled, earning a glare from his brother. “What?”

 “You’re a bitch,” Dean hissed, hoping he’d spoken low enough that the little angel hadn’t heard him.

 “Jerk,” Sam said instantly, smirking. He straightened up as Castiel and Missouri shuffled into the room, the angel balancing a bowl in his hands that absolutely reeked. “Oh, good god, what is that?”

 “A salve to help your baby angel,” Missouri said tartly, taking the bowl from Castiel and gesturing towards Gabriel on Dean’s shoulders, who Cass grabbed wordlessly. “Sam, I need you to spread out his wings. Dean, you too. Castiel and I will coat all of his feathers with this, and it should rebind the seal properly.”

 Dean wrinkled his nose as he sat down on the couch on Castiel’s left, taking one of Gabriel’s wings and pulling it out to it’s full length, as Sam did the same on the opposite side. Gabriel whined, and Castiel murmured something to him to silence him. “And how long will that hold?” Dean asked, staring at the smelly concoction uncertainly.

 “A few weeks at the most,” Missouri replied, dipping a hand into the salve so she could begin coating black feathers with it. “The seal was most likely meant to be held together by his own power, rather than the spell in the ink on his back. Just as before, it will hide his wings for awhile. As small as he is however I can’t promise he’ll be able contain his Grace and keep the seal bound for long.”

 They worked for close to an hour in which Gabriel became bored and wiggly, which didn’t help at all. After the first half hour Dean was sure it wasn’t going to work, but when the last feather was coated and glistening with the stinky concoction, Gabriel shivered and the wings were gone as though they had never been there, dark inkings showing through the holes in the back of his shirt. The fledgling wobbled for a moment in Castiel’s lap, unused to the suddenly lighter weight of his body. Sam laughed, half in relief, half in amusement, “Well, now I think the next order on the list is a bath,” he put a hand to his nose to emphasize this idea.

 Gabriel made a mortified face and launched himself off of Castiel’s lap as if to fly, instead landing hard on the floor with a slightly startled look on his face. He frowned, glancing over his shoulders at the place where his wings would have been with a frustrated noise. “Hey! Now I can’t fly!”

“You don’t need to,” Castiel said evenly, grabbing him so he could tuck him under his arm in the same way as Dean had done earlier that day. “Remember that talk I had with you about blending in?”

 “Try to look as human as possible cause Dean will get mad if you stand out,” Gabriel said robotically. “I ‘member.” Sam snorted and Dean looked mortified.

 “Dude, you told him that? You’re not allowed to give the kid pep talks anymore,” Dean hissed.

 “M’not a kid, I’m an angel!” Gabriel yelled, flailing under Castiel’s arm as the larger angel began walking towards the front door.

 Dean laughed. “You’re still too small,” he mocked, atching Sam follow Castiel to the door he grew silent, Missouri’s hand coming to rest on his arm. “This isn’t going to be easy, is it,” he murmured, for the psychic’s ears alone.

 “No,” Missouri whispered, “But since when is anything ever easy?”

 “Never,” Dean agreed softly. “But will it end well? I . . . I don’t think Sam can take loosing Gabe again. Or anyone for that matter.”

 “I’m not a prophet,” Missouri chuffed, folding her arms over her chest, “I can’t tell you of things to come. But I will say this, you have to let Sam be his own person, Dean. It’s about time you let him grow up.”

 “And if I don’t?”

 Missouri shook her head, “What will come will come. I can’t give you promises or reassurances, Dean. Not without them being lies.” She pushed him towards the door, “Now shoo. You have places to go and people to see. Don’t be a stranger though, you hear?”

 “We’ll try not to,” he promised, smiling slightly.

 She watched them go with tired eyes, the Impala’s engine rumbling off into the distance as they drove away. Missouri wasn’t oblivious, to say the least. She saw more in a day than most people did in an entire lifetime. But Gabriel had taken her by surprise, in a way nothing had in a long, long time.

 The child’s life was a ticking time bomb, and she prayed that with those boys helping him, the countdown would stop before it was far too late.

 

Blank Pages Part 3


Blank Pages: Wings On A Cloud

 

 

 

 

 

Dean was entirely unused to a life that revolved around something even remotely similar to a typical family. Sure, he’d lived with Lisa and Ben for almost a whole year, but that wasn’t what he’d call family. It was simply playing the part; going to the baseball games and the barbeques and reading the kid a bedtime story when Lisa was working late. It had all been for a promise he made on his baby brother’s dying day. Making a promise was not the same as having an actual emotion for the situation.

With what he had now though, Dean couldn’t help but realize that he had that family he’d always wanted now. Not with Lisa and Ben, but with Sam, Cass, and Gabriel. Even when on the road, shifting between dingy motels, they were somehow home.

The morning after their visit with Missouri started out as many mornings had in the last month or so. Dean was the first awake, sitting up with a hand to his forehead and smacking his lips to try and dispel cottony taste from his mouth. He glanced over at the other queen bed, a smirk crossing at the sight of Sam curled around the miniature archangel. Gabriel lay on his stomach, his much-too-big shirt riding up almost to his shoulders so that the tattoos across his back were bathed in the glow of early light sneaking in underneath the tightly closed curtains. Dean twisted his head to the other side, groaning as his neck cracked. He stopped dead where he was then, breath halting in his throat.

Castiel was sitting on the other side of his bed his profile to him and his chin to the rising sun peeking through the curtains. He glanced at Dean when he caught the Hunter’s eyes on him and raised an eyebrow, “Good morning, Dean.”

Dean pounded a fist to his chest as if trying to restart his heart, “ ‘Good morning?’” he repeated, “You scared the life outa’ me, Cass! How long have you been sitting there? I thought you went to go do . . .” He waved his hand vaguely in the air, “Angel stuff?”

The angel in question cast him a patient look at the remark, “I came back, Dean.”

The Hunter stared at him for a long moment, mouth half open. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t understood the blatant metaphor for events not that long past, but it was a whole other thing to admit that. Dean rolled his eyes, “I know you did. Anyways, wanna flip a coin for who’s getting breakfast?”

Castiel shook his head, smirking slightly, “I’ll go pick up donuts,” he decided as he stood and began smoothing down the wrinkles of his trench coat with his hands, pretending not to notice as Dean watched, “Chocolate cream filled for you, I presume?”

“You know me so well,” Dean grinned as he swung his legs over the edge of the bed reaching over to give Castiel a light punch in the stomach, a motion which the angel merely frowned at. The Hunter chuckled, “What’s that face for?”

Straightening his collar so that he looked somewhat presentable to the outside world, Castiel muttered a short, “Your means of showing affection seem to be a little off,” before looking sharply at the wall as if he hadn’t said anything at all.

Dean blinked owlishly at him, rising to his feet and stretching his hands over his head. “What did you expect?” he asked before he lowered his hands to his hips, trying his best not to look like a total girl as he did so. Castiel shrugged, his gaze trained on the wall and Dean’s heart went to his throat with guilt. He grabbed the collar of the angel’s trench coat that the other had just fixed and dragged him forward. Castiel started as the Hunter kissed him hard, eyes widening in surprise.

The angel’s hands went to the back of Dean’s neck, pressing into the ridge of the Hunter’s spine. He breathed out as Dean pulled back, a smug smile on the human’s face though his green eyes glinted with faint uncertainty Castiel barely caught. “Better?” he asked, tongue drawing across his lips.

“Dean-” the angel started, but the other had turned away to stride across the room with a call over his shoulders of, “You gonna get those donuts or what?” And Castiel disappeared in a whirl of displaced air and the near silent sound of ruffled feathers.

“That went awesome,” Sam said drowsily, startling Dean as he raised his head from his pillow, threading his fingers through the still sleeping Gabriel’s hair.

Dean glared at him, though Sam took no notice, eyes closed and his face buried in the mattress. “What was that supposed to mean?”

Sam opened an eye, “You ask too many questions for someone who has everything he’s ever going to need right in front of him.” He choked back a yawn, “Anyways, before he wakes up help me get Gabe into the bath, he still smells like that crud Missouri put on him last night.”

Dean felt the protest die on the tip of his tongue as Gabriel jumped up suddenly like the blankets were on fire and launched himself across the room in less than two seconds flat. Sam yelled something, and Dean dived after him, catching the fledgling by the ankle before he could reach the other bed to hide beneath it. “Whoa there Clarence, calm down,” he laughed, throwing the struggling angel over his shoulder.

“No!” Gabriel wailed, “No baff! No baff!”

“Stinky children need baths,” Sam chided as he took Gabriel from his brother and marched into the bathroom before any more protests could escape the angel. The younger Winchester closed the door while Gabriel screeched like the possessed. Dean sat at the table and a pad of motel sticky notes to begin making a list of things they’d need to get through the week.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

Though his hair was still damp and his lower lip was stuck out, Gabriel seemed to be mildly content with a donut stuffed in his mouth when he sat in the seat of the shopping cart, swinging his legs back and forth while Dean pushed it down the isles and Sam strolled along beside it, hands in his pockets.

Castiel approached with two different types of Doritos in hand for Dean to compare before tossing one into the body of the cart on the Hunter’s direction.

That’s when Dean had the not so shocking realization that he’d turned into a total housewife, and he dropped his head into his hands. Sam patted his back, “Dean? You okay?” Dean shook his head.

“My life is just so weird, man,” he mumbled. The Hunter tensed slightly when Castiel laid a hand on his shoulder comfortingly.

Sam huffed, “Well of course it is. Do you remember what we do for a living?”

His brother looked up at him, his eyes narrowing, “No, Sam, I don’t remember that we run around fighting monsters at night and crash in gross motels during the day while angels flit around the room and . . .” He blinked once, twice, as his gaze shifted over the far end of the cart for a heartbeat, “ . . . And pagan gods like to shop at Safeway.”

Instantly, before they’d even turned around, Castiel had his angel blade in hand and Sam had scooped Gabriel out of the basket of the grocery cart, the little archangel against his chest. Dean just chose to stare, raising a bored hand, “Hello, Kali, what brings you here?”

“Dean-” Castiel started warily, but stood his ground as Kali took a few steps forward, keeping her distance all the same.

Among all the goddesses (and Dean had met a good handful in his years as a Hunter) she was by far the most beautiful. Kali was dressed in a slim, but not unprofessional navy blue dress that stopped just above her knees where she held her shopping basket in front of her legs almost as if she had something to hide, Dean knew better. Her hair was tied back into a loose bun, stray strands falling over her ears here and there as she stood rigidly still only feet away, though Dean surmised that she really shouldn’t be the terrified one in the situation. The older Winchester tapped the handle of the cart, “Any reason in particular why you’re here?” he questioned, ignoring Castiel’s tense stance and Sam’s protective embrace over the child Gabriel.

Kali tilted her head to the side choosing to continue study them at a distance, “Is it wrong to want to repay a debt?”

“A little late, isn’t it?” Sam asked, teeth bared.

Dean smirked and shook his head, “The middle of the grocery store isn’t a great place for such a thing, is it?”

The goddess scowled, “It’s better than the alternatives. I’d rather not show up at your dirty motel like some sort of call girl, thank you.” Her eyes blazed, and Dean’s self preservation instinct finally kicked in and he let his hand fall to his waist where his knife lay strapped to his belt. “And,” she went on haughtily, “being seen with you outside isn’t safe.”

“Safe?” Castiel echoed as his fingers clenched around his blade , “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Kali barely cast him a glance, “Learn to keep track of your siblings better, Angel, and maybe you’ll understand.” She turned to Dean again when Castiel stiffened, “I want to return something to you.”

The Hunter held out a hand, “Go on ahead and then get the hell out of here.”

Her eyes narrowed dangerously, “I am a goddess of sacrifice, Winchester. You will not give me orders.” Kali smirked when Castiel shifted to stand in front of Dean, “And neither will you, Angel.” She breathed, eyes landing on Sam, and then Gabriel in turn. “You, Demon Spawn,” she ignored Dean’s annoyed grunt at the name, “What would you do to save that child?”

Sam blinked, taken aback, “Gabriel?”

“What would you do to save his life?” she repeated, patience wavering at his redundancy.

Gabriel buried his face in Sam’s shirt and shivered at her tone. Sam placed a hand on his back comfortingly, “Anything,” he whispered, much to Dean’s surprise.

“Sammy, wait-”

Kali looked mildly amused before holding up a hand until Dean fell silent, “Anything? Are you sure?”

"Yes,” Sam insisted, his gaze so serious Dean’s heart went to his throat.

“Then there is no turning back,” she murmured. Kali reached into her handbag and drew out a small vial filled with crimson, the glass flashing in the too bright store lights. Before anyone could move the goddess had thrown it to the ground. Letter-like characters from some distant language scrawled their way across the floor, twisting in the blood until a circle had formed.

सुधार और आना-जाना, चाल से घटकर अतीत के रास्ते पर आपके चुने हुए अपने पख्र में किया जाना चाहिए और आनंदन्

Gabriel screamed, his nails digging into Sam’s shoulder before he was simply no longer there. Sam shouted in alarm and groped at the empty air. Kali watched a heartbeat before gesturing towards the circle, “You said ‘Anything’, Vessel.” She said darkly, “Now you have but only one choice. You’ve always had but one choice.”

“Sammy, don’t!” Dean yelled, held back by Castiel grabbing his wrist before he could intercept his brother.

Castiel straightened, keeping his grip on Dean as he rested his gaze on Sam, “Only go forward if you really care, Sam Winchester,” he warned, his own blue eyes making contact with Kali’s red for a brief moment, “Gabriel will not accept your pity."

Sam swallowed and nodded shortly before he stepped into the circle of blood, and Dean held his breath as the aisle erupted in light, and his brother vanished. He snarled, whirling on Castiel so fast the angel started and released the Hunter so that Dean could lunge at Kali across the shopping cart. The Hunter fisted a hand into the front of her dress, “What did you do?!

“I am simply paying back a debt,” she smiled nonchalantly. He howled, fingers inching up towards her throat though he knew it would do no good. Strong hands grabbed his shoulders and yanked him back while Kali disappeared in a puff of smoke the instant his grip disappeared.

“I’m going to kill her!” Dean screeched, grabbing uselessly at the air, “I’m going to destroy her! What has she done to them?!” he writhed until he faced Castiel, the angel’s hands still on his shoulders, “Let me go, Cass,” he growled, breath coming in short panicked gasps.

Castiel frowned, “You are in no state to go anywhere, Dean. And besides that, Sam has made his decision.”

“He makes stupid decisions!” Dean protested.

“He is a grown man!” Castiel snapped in return. the Hunter grew silent in shock at his tone. “Good decisions, or bad ones, he has the right to them all the same, Dean. Let him choose, for once in his life.”

Dean hissed between his teeth, “The last time I did, he walked away from me with a demon bitch at his side.”

Castiel inhaled, “That . . .” His fingers loosened on Dean’s shoulders, and the Hunter stepped away, chest heaving.

“What, Cass?” he demanded, viridian eyes suddenly dark.

Castiel focused his gaze on the ground between his feet, “That was not Sam’s fault, Dean.”

“And whose was it?” Dean asked, voice low and accusing, “You, Cass? Don’t act so innocent,” he growled at the astonished blink the angel cast him, “Or surprised!” he added, “As if I couldn’t have guessed! I knew all along, you lying bastard! Which is just one more reason I can’t let Sammy wander off by himself when you’re the one holding me back! Again!”

“Dean-”

“Hiding things is the same thing as lying, Castiel,” the angel flinched at his full name on Dean’s lips, “And I’m a little more than tired by now of you keeping secrets. Just because you don’t tell me things doesn’t mean they’ll hurt any less.” He whirled and stomped down the aisle, leaving his groceries, and his angel, to their own devices.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

When Castiel popped into the motel room an hour or so later after giving Dean time to cool off a bit, he found the Hunter in the midst of tearing up the room while practically screaming into the phone. The bed sheets were strewn across the expanse and every item in all the duffle bags had been spread out on the mattresses of the two queen beds. Papers were still drifting across the carpet, and a half eaten bag of chips had been knocked off the table. Dean had his cell phone tucked between his shoulder and ear as he rummaged around in drawer besides Sam’s bed for his brother’s laptop, lips pursed as he listened to the person on the other side of the line.

“No, Bobby,” he hissed, Castiel straining to listen from across the room once he knew who it was Dean had called, “You don’t understand. Sam was,” he waved his hands, though Bobby obviously couldn’t see what he was doing, “sucked away. Like ‘Pop!’ and he was gone. Gabe too.” He glanced up, taking note of Cass’ presence in the room before he tugged the laptop ungraciously from the drawer and tossed it on the bed. “Yes, I know you’re on the road and can’t- I know! Look, I don’t care if some angel with a vengeance kink is on my ass, it’s not like it’s never happened before.”

At this Castiel grabbed the phone from Dean and whipped back across the room before the Hunter could protest. “Bobby, what’s going on?”

There was a scuffling sound on the other end of the line and suddenly Crowley’s voice came over the wire, loud and annoyed, “Aziraphale’s dead, Castiel.”

Castiel’s breath caught in his throat and he swallowed thickly in response, “W-what?”

Dean paused in his movement of trying to grab the phone back from the angel, mouth half open at the sound of Castiel’s stutter. “Cass?”

He ignored the other, “What happened?”
 

Crowley growled, “How the fuck should I know?! I just know that he’s not here anymore, not alive. His Grace has been shattered and I can feel it.”

“Only an angel could have done it,” Castiel surmised darkly, his fingers clenching against his trench coat. He suddenly felt way too hot. Aziraphale had been his second in command, someone he trusted and looked to for advice, one of Gabriel’s oldest friends and Crowley’s . . . Something. Cass actually had to admit that the times Aziraphale spent with Crowley on earth he sort of ignored and didn’t ask questions about. Even when events had gotten a bit fishy and dark-omen-like in the 90’s.

“Don’t say that as if I know which one,” Crowley snapped, clearly pissed. “I haven’t been in Heaven for eons. Look, angel-boy, just hold down the fort until we get there and keep Dean out of trouble. Bobby will have your neck if he charges out willy-nilly like a right wanker. Sam and Gabriel will be fine.” And the line clicked.

Staring at the phone for a moment, Castiel looked up at Dean and blinked once, twice, “Crowley says Gabriel and Sam will be fine,” he whispered, shock still coursing through his body at the demon’s news.

“Yeah, he said that to me too,” Dean snorted. He grabbed the front of Cass’ coat and tugging him down onto the mattress, “You, on the other hand, are in a perpetual state of shock.”

“What’s that?”

“That angel that died, you knew him. Just . . .” Dean patted the bed and stood, “Sit here for a bit, and I’ll pour you a drink. Or three,” he added with a glance at Castiel’s face.

Castiel nodded silently and shed his coat and before lying back as he’d often seen Dean do when times were rough and uncertain. He pushed his palms into his eyes as he closed them, sighing heavily until he felt a cold glass rest against his stomach. He huffed, “Dean . . .”

“Drink it,” Dean instructed, a hand falling to Castiel’s forehead to push back his hair.

The angel inhaled, grabbing the glass and bringing it to his lips. He downed it in one long gulp that had even Dean clapping, impressed.

“Another!” Dean declared before pouring himself a glass as well.

And while drinking didn’t change anything, it definitely helped him forget that everything had gone to hell in ten seconds flat all over again. At least for an hour or so.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO 

When Sam stepped into the circle of blood and Hindu scribbles he wasn’t sure what exactly he’d been expecting. Hell, maybe? He didn’t know where angel’s went when they died, so it was at least slightly probable. Heaven, perhaps? He thought of the place he’d had in Flagstaff, and the first real Thanksgiving he’d ever been a part of.

But what he got was endless white puffy clouds against a blue sky clearer than anything he’d ever seen. And he was standing on them. If he gave it a moment’s pause he supposed that this could be the real Heaven, though he highly doubted it. It seemed too pristine and perfect, contrasting against the 99.9% of the angels he’d ever met.

“It’s Heaven as a child would see it,” a voice said, cutting into his thoughts. Though Sam recognized it immediately without even turning to see the speaker’s face, the tone didn’t fit.

Gabriel had his arms crossed over his chest where he stood behind the Hunter, and Sam gaped at him. The archangel was no longer the child who’d been running around the various motel’s they’d stayed at the past few weeks, and with his chin tilted up he stood in all of the full archangel glory as Sam had last seen him before he died. “You’re okay,” Sam whispered, awed.

Gabriel frowned, “If you call being completely incorporeal and trapped within my own mind ‘okay,’ then yes. I am.” He shrugged, though the motion was stiff and uncomfortable, “I didn’t expect to see you here, kiddo.”

Sam blinked at him, “Why not? I’ve been taking care of you - the fledgling you - for the past month or so. I found you. Why wouldn’t I be here?”

“Because I didn’t choose you,” Gabriel muttered, glancing at the clouds beneath his feet, gaze wary as though he half expected them to disappear.

“Choose me?” Sam echoed.

“Yes, choose you, moron,” the Trickster huffed. He unfolded his arms and gestyred to the white and blue landscape around them, “Kali preformed a blood binding, didn’t she? As the process goes, in a few minutes you and me will be taking a long walk through the highlights of my life. And by highlights I mean the epic failures and pitfalls.”

Sam breathed in slowly, “So what?”

“So-” Gabriel laughed, the sound harsh and forced, “So what? It’s my life, Sam! If I had to show it to anyone it certainly wouldn’t be you.”

The Hunter made an offended noise, taken aback, “And why not? If anyone has a reason not to trust the other it should be me, not you.”

Gabriel stuck out his tongue in response, “That’s not what I meant, sasquatch. I meant . . .” His hands went to his pockets and he stared down between his feet again, “I just meant that I don’t want you to be the one to see this side of me, all right? It’s not going to be pretty, and it’s certainly not going to be pleasant.” He sighed before looking up at the sky then, “I’ve lived a long, long time, Sam. And in a life like that, there’s bound to be more poop than roses on the path.”

Sam laughed, “Nice metaphor. But I think I can handle it.”

The archangel merely bit his lip before everything went dark across the sky almost as if someone had drawn curtains over the sun. Flashes of blood red lanced through the clouds below their feet, sparking like lightning, “I don’t think you can,” Gabriel whispered.

 


Blank Pages Part 4


Blank Pages: The War Of Brothers

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Gabriel?” Sam swallowed when his voice came out much more timid than he’d meant it to and tensed in frustration, trying to squish down his fear deep inside him. “Gabriel, what’s going on?”

The archangel glanced at him sympathetically and shook his head, “This will probably suck a lot more to remember than it was to experience the first time around.” He shrugged, “See you in a few, Sammy.”

 Sam blinked when Gabriel vanished as if he’d never been there at all, and shuddered. His eyes went to the sky above again where the darkness continued to seep across it like ink in water. The clouds crackled under his feet and he side-stepped as though that would somehow spare him, though every inch of the puffy surface snapped with electricity. “Gabriel!” He called, unable to keep the panic from his voice, “Shit, what is this? Gabriel! Get back here right now!”

At that point, Sam had to wonder if his words had an effect on the fucked reality he was in, because everything lightened. Green grass exploded out from beneath his feet and the crimson lightning that had woven through the clouds sparked to the surface as towering oaks and willows, maples and palms, fronds and rosebushes. Thousands of plants that never should have co-existed all springing to life around him. Poppies bloomed among the grass and cherry blossoms unfurled from a tree right beside Sam, and he inhaled sharply in mild surprise. “What the-”

 Gabriel must have been wrong. What could be bad about a forest, or wildlife reserve, or whatever it was as beautiful as this? It was like a garden of paradise.

 Sam hissed between his teeth in realization, dread coursing through him. The Garden. If these were Gabriel’s memories, like the angel had said, then this could be only one place that made even a little bit of sense.

 The Garden of Eden.

 Sam practically threw himself on the ground as he heard footsteps tromping through the undergrowth, flattening his large frame as much as he could behind a holly bush, not a second too late. Sam barely withheld a gasp as Lucifer himself walked past just inches away from his nose.

 It was not Lucifer as Sam had last known him, that searing pain of fire and ice eating away at him, body and soul, but rather Lucifer as he would have appeared when he had first possessed Nick. A young man, probably a good ten years younger than Nick had been before he’d let the Devil in, with short dirty blond hair and light eyes. His skin was smooth and unmarked as Sam had never seen it, free of decay and disease from the thing inside him. But it was not Nick, and Sam knew it instantly, if only by the wings protruding from his shoulders.

The feathers were like nothing he’d ever seen, a mix of silvers and pure golds extending up and out as they unfurled from his back, waving every so slightly in the barest breeze that twisted through the trees. Sam marveled at the sight of them, understanding at once why Lucifer had once been known as the most beautiful of all angels.

 

Lucifer turned, staring in Sam’s direction, and the Hunter held his breath. “Come out, you idiot. I don’t like being followed, if that’s what you think you’re doing. Your sneaking could use some work.” Sam shivered but stayed where he was, praying that Lucifer was speaking to someone of this place, someone of this memory, and not him. He thought he was done with the Devil forever, this was too much.

To his immense relief a small head poked out of the bushes a little to Sam’s left, slick autumn brown hair and honey-gold eyes revealing immediately who he was. He scrambled up to his older brother, dark black feathers trailing along in the flowers and grass behind him as he stumbled through the undergrowth. The child grabbed Lucifer’s hand tight in his own, smiling innocently.

 “Gabriel,” Lucifer chided softly, and Sam was shocked at the gentle tone the fallen angel’s voice.

Wait, if he was in Eden then Lucifer wasn’t fallen, he was still a pure, unsoiled by sin, angel. The thought itself was so weird Sam nearly choked on his spit as it entered his mind. He knew the bible and the stories about the Fall of Lucifer, so of course he knew Lucifer had once been an angel. But seeing it, that was another matter entirely.

 “Gabriel, aren’t you supposed to be with Michael today?” the older angel went on smoothly, interrupting Sam’s thoughts.

 Gabriel stuck out his little pink tongue and clung to the other’s hand defiantly,

“Michael’s no fun,” he whined, and Sam huffed in silent laughter. Some things never changed, even in heaven.

 Lucifer rolled his eyes before he bent down and scooped the much smaller angel up into his arms, “And what makes you think that I’m fun to be around?” he asked reasonably, a small smile tugging up the corners of his mouth.

 “Because you’re nice,” Gabriel informed mater-of-factly, “You don’t say things like, ‘Go over there, Gabriel. Stay out of the way, Gabriel. Don’t touch that, Gabriel. Stop running, Gabriel. Stay where I can see you, Gabriel,’” the young archangel folded his arms over his chest as he finished his list, annoyed at the very remembrance of the words.

 A chuckle escaped Lucifer, and Sam’s heart shuddered at the sound of it. It was like the laughter of his nightmares. Here, though, it was real rather than fake and forced, as if there was more than anger and greed behind it. “Michael cares for your well being, Gabriel. He just worries a bit more than most.”

“He’s yucky,” Gabriel muttered. He glanced off somewhere into the deeper reaches of the forest, pointing a finger into the distance, “Let’s go to the Tree, Lucifer! I wanna go see the Tree today!” Lucifer shook his head, but began to walk in that general direction, wings flared out behind him.

After the sound of the archangel’s footsteps began to fade Sam pushed himself to his feet and followed, creeping around between the trees and staying as far in the shadows of them as possible so as not to be seen. He ducked behind a willow and stayed beneath it’s overhanging branches as he watched Lucifer place Gabriel down at the base of the hugest freaking tree Sam had ever seen in his whole life. If a redwood was big, then this was a redwood’s daddy and a half, or more. Gabriel whooped and put his hands against the bark of the thing’s trunk, looking absolutely thrilled. Lucifer put his hands on his sides and laughed, reaching up and grabbing an apple from one of the lower branches and handing it to his brother. Sam held his breath in fear. The apples of Eden were not to be eaten, he knew that for sure.

 He wanted to cry out, to warn Gabriel as the fledgling took the apple from his sibling, but doing so would give him away. And besides, what could he change? This was the past, a memory. Anything that would happen already had. Sam watched, riveted, as Gabriel looked up at Lucifer, as mesmerized as a child staring into the sun, “We don’t eat,” he said evenly, confused.

 “I know,” Lucifer murmured, crouching down so that he was at eye level with the younger angel, “But you’ll love eating this, Gabriel. It’s good, and delicious, and it’s everything angels aren’t supposed to have.”

 The gleam in Gabriel’s eyes was exactly like any child’s would be when told not to do something, and he gulped, staring hard at the ruby red apple before sinking his teeth into it.

 Sam gasped, a hand over his mouth as he did so. There was no change to Gabriel physically as he swallowed the bite of fruit, but when he looked up at his brother again there was a light in his eyes that Sam knew had not been there before.

 The light of real emotion.

The Hunter clenched his fingers at his sides as he fought down the urge to go out there and ask Lucifer what the hell he thought he was doing, to get some sort of explanation. But before he could move a hand went right through his chest to touch the tree trunk Sam was hiding behind. Sam squealed, staring down at the hand in utter horror before it withdrew from his ribs through his back, and he felt no pain. Like the hand of a ghost. He whirled, breath catching in his throat as he came face to face with his younger brother.

 Adam.

 But Adam looked right past him, towards where Gabriel was scarffing down the rest of his apple and Lucifer was watching him with appreciation in his eyes. Sam stared at him and took in the sight of the sibling he thought he’d never see again, short golden brown hair and sea-glass eyes. He wanted to apologize. For being a terrible brother, for pulling him to his death into Hell. Adam only gazed right through him, brushing aside the overhanging willow leaves as he paced out into the sunlight that dappled the Tree and the two angel’s beneath it.

 And as he walked away Sam noticed his wings, long platinum feathers with ebony tips brushing the ground. He let a breath escape him, shoulders slumping. It wasn’t Adam, it was Michael.

 Lucifer’s head jerked up as the oldest archangel approached, and Sam thought for sure that he would look scared, or ashamed at what he’d done to Gabriel. Except that Lucifer smiled, and Michael smiled back.

“Don’t you think he’s a bit young?” Michael asked, as he came to stand beside Lucifer, resting a hand on his shoulder.

 Lucifer shook his head, “The younger he is, the more it will work. Emotion is a beautiful thing, brother.”

 Michael raised an eyebrow, “And yet you don’t care for our Father’s grandest creation. They’re the ones these apples were made for, Lucifer. Not angels.”

 Hissing out between his teeth, Lucifer spoke, “Angels were made first, angels are children of God, not those . . . Things down there.” He snatched another apple off the branches and bit into it, hard. “These should have been for us all along, not them. Us.” Gabriel looked between his brothers, oblivious to the argument boiling under the surface. Michael just frowned, turning away. As he walked past Sam, the Hunter’s eyes followed him, watching the angel in the visage of his little brother while the world around him changed.

 The Tree sunk back into the ground, and the bushes skittered around to different positions in the forest, the trees shuffling until the scenery was vaguely different. Sam froze, realizing that Michael had vanished into the trees, and he all but cursed.

 And then he did, when an older version of Gabriel pushed past him. The archangel barely cast him a glance, but unlike Michael he actually touched him when he shoved past, a hand pausing on Sam’s shoulder as he did so. He was not either of the Gabriels Sam was familiar with, neither the fledgling nor the man. If Sam had to label him, it would be an adolescent, a teenager if he must.

 Sam followed him, keeping a good ten feet away until Gabriel stomped to the edge of a clearing, putting his back flat against a broad tree and peering around the edge of it. The Hunter jumped behind an oak nearby, though he was pretty sure no one but Gabriel could even see him.

In the clearing ahead voices rang out loud and clear, and Sam wondered if that was because Gabriel remembered every word, or simply because of how the Garden carried sound. Glancing into the open space, Sam stiffened at what he saw.

 Lucifer stood in the center, flocked on each side by what appeared to be to angels, speaking to the in a low voice. Sam barely noted the two sets of ash gray wings on the pair’s backs, and he narrowed his eyes at their persons instead. To Lucifer’s right stood Crowley, clad in the same ivory robes all the other angels seemed to be wearing around there. His eyes were a poison yellow, and he tilted his head to the side as Lucifer spoke, listening intently. He was much younger than Sam remembered, mid twenties or so he guessed, and he stood tall and proud in a way that outmatched the Crowley he was familiar with, if that was even possible. To Lucifer’s left, was none other than Azazel, and Sam shuddered bodily at the sight. His eyes and wings were the same color as Crowley’s, and when Sam took a moment to think about it he could come to no other conclusion that they were not only angels at the moment, but brothers as well. Not the way all angels were brothers, but the way the Winchester boys were brothers. In blood and bond.

Gabriel’s chest was heaving as he listened to the words Sam hadn’t been paying even the slightest attention to, and he gritted his teeth, going back the way he had come through the forest. Sam felt the longing to linger here, to figure out why Azazel and Crowley were in Heaven, but as Gabriel moved Sam was tugged along as if he was following on nothing but instinct. The young archangel crashed through the undergrowth like wanted Lucifer to know he’d been listening in, spying on him, but he didn’t seem to care, and he stopped only when he drew up in front of a low building. Sam stared at the thing, taking in the white marble columns and granite base, marveling at it’s structure before he hurried along in Gabriel’s wake, the angel already halfway up the steps to the door.

 Inside he wasn’t the least bit surprised to see Michael. The eldest archangel was standing near one wall and gazing out a window that was simply a square hole it’s surface and leaning heavily against it. He still bore Adam’s image as Sam had last seen him, maybe because he could never imagined his brother to be any older than he had been when he’d died. Michael barely looked up when Gabriel stormed in. “Yes, Gabriel, what is it?”

 Gabriel paused, taken aback at his sibling’s calm tone, “What’s- are you kidding me? Haven’t you noticed what Lucifer’s doing?!”

 “He’s speaking with Azazel and Caphriel,” Michael said simply, not alarmed by this in the slightest, “There’s nothing wrong with that, Gabriel.”

 The younger seethed, face turning red, “But he’s talking of war, brother! They’re discussing a rebellion, tactics and plans!”

 Michael’s eyebrows furrowed together, his wings shifting uncomfortably against his back, “Why would you say such a thing, Gabriel? Lucifer loves his brothers and our Father, he would never-”

 “But he does not love Humanity!” Gabriel snapped, hands fisting at his sides, his knuckles white. “He does not obey the Last Order, and you know it! What if-”

Michael moved to stand before his brother, placing a finger against his mouth commandingly, “Do not speak of your brother like that.”

 “But-”

 “I will hear no more of it. He is our brother, my brother, and I have faith in him no matter what he does,” Michael went on. “And I know he does not what you say he does, at the very least. Do not lie, Gabriel.”

 “I’m not-”

 “Do. Not. Lie.”

 Sam swallowed thickly, looking away. Michael’s conviction that his brother could do no wrong was so much like Dean, it hurt. And just like Lucifer, Sam had betrayed his brother. It was as perfect of a match as Gabriel had once described it in TV Land. Too perfect, even.

 Gabriel wilted, his wings brushing against the ground as he averted his eyes from his brother, not knowing what else to do.

The world seemed to tilt once again and the sky opened up outside, rain cascading down against the roof of the building. Sam bit his lip as he noticed that the room was suddenly vacant, the stone it was made of cracked and chipped where it had been unmarked and pristine before.

 Thunder boomed, and Sam rushed outside, eager and terrified to see the greatest war history had ever known unfold. There was nothing else it could be. Outside the garden was gone, smoking ashes of trees that had once stood where it would be. On the horizon Sam could still see the Tree, it’s leaves burning as flames erupted into the sky, undeterred by the rain that cascaded down. Above, what Sam had first thought had been lightning flashing across the sky he now realized was angels, the sparks of metal against metal lighting up the clouds as swords clashed, blue streaking through the rain as Grace exploded out from the dying. Sam put his hands to his mouth and sucked in a shaking breath.

 Far above, Crowley went tumbling through the clouds, crashing to the ground and then passing right through it, closely followed by Azazel while a blond angel with sky colored wings stabbed his blade into the soil, letting out a triumphant cry. “Cast them down!” he called to his brothers high above, “Throw the traitors to Hell!” The sound was repeated through the garrisons, and Sam saw Gabriel lift his sword in reluctant agreement as he yelled it back. He still looked so young. The blond angel on the ground tilted his head up into the rain, gazing towards the war waging overhead with his mouth half open, eyes wide.

 Sam followed his gaze, catching sight of Michael blazing through the clouds, sword aloft. Lucifer crashed into him head on, appearing out of nowhere to meet his brother in battle. Sam sat down hard on the ground, watching as they locked swords over and over, metal clanging through the noise of the storm. And the world stood still, every other angel halting what they were doing to watch the fight in rapt awe, including Gabriel. Lucifer lunged with his free hand, grabbing a fistful of Michael’s feathers and smirking as his brother shrieked as he ripped them out, plunging his sword into Michael’s shoulder while he was distracted.

 There was no blood, only the sapphire bleed of Grace as Michael clutched at his arm, gasping in shock and pain. “You . . . Don’t know what it is you do, brother” he whispered, though the sound was loud enough for all the brethren and Sam to hear.

 “Yes, I do,” Lucifer all but snarled in his brother’s face in reply.

 “Then that is all the worse,” Michael murmured, grabbing his brother’s shoulder. For all the world it looked like an embrace as he pulled the Devil to him, until his sword was protruding from Lucifer’s back.

 Unlike the rest of the angels, his Grace did not leave him as his body was pierced, and Sam inhaled sharply as Michael pulled away, watching coldly as Lucifer simply fell, all the way to the ground just as Crowley and Azazel had, and then right through it.

 “Never return,” Michael screamed after him, and Sam sobbed, watching as Lucifer was banished the same way he had been when he had walked out on Dean.

He really was the perfect vessel.

 

 And then everything stopped. The angels halted mid flight, the noise vanished, and the rain froze where it was falling. Sam could reach out and touch the individual droplets if he chose to. “I told you it wasn’t pretty,” a voice said softly near his ear, and he nearly jumped out of his skin as he twisted his head around to stare up at Gabriel. He was dressed in twenty first century clothes again, hands in his pockets as he rocked on his heels.

 Sam shook his head, “And that’s just the start of it, isn’t it,” he whispered.

 “Just the tip of the iceberg, bucko,” Gabriel sighed.

 


Blank Pages Part 5


Blank Pages: The Son Rises

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What now?” Sam winced as he asked it, Gabriel’s eyes falling on him with a look of exasperation.

 “Do you even, remotely, think I have any more control over this than you do?” the archangel sighed, annoyed, “You agreed to this, Sam. And Kali made the spell. I have the least control over what happens next.” He narrowed his eyes and foldedhis arms before glaring across the expanse of Heaven, frozen in time in the midst of the Rebellion, “I guess we’ll just have to see, won’t we.”

The colors, grays and dark blues and whites of the storm and the angels inside it, blurred together, and when Sam looked again Gabriel was gone. He groaned, watching the colors of the world blend and merge before reforming, painting out a new picture of Heaven in pretty golden oranges of the setting sun. Time started again.

 

The Hunter’s eyes found Gabriel instantly, just yards away from him sitting in the higher branches of a young redwood. The Garden had regrown from how Sam had last seen it, ashes of plants and fire blazing across nothingness, the flowers had returned and the trees had grown anew, though their stature was half of what it had been before, he could see that clearly. Gabriel was lounging with his back against the trunk, feet dangling on either side of the branch he sat on, arms at his sides and his eyes half closed.

 Sam jumped as someone passed right through him, and he put his hands to his chest and stomach at the eerie tingly feeling it caused. His eyes followed the new figure and he raised an eyebrow as he noted that it was Adam. Michael. The oldest archangel tilted his head back to gaze up into the tree, a frown crossing his features, “Gabriel, our Father has been calling you for hours.”

 Gabriel snorted, closing his eyes fully, “So?”

 Michael made an annoyed noise in the back of his throat, “So? Gabriel, he’s summoning you. Our Father.” Michael groaned when Gabriel began to hum, ignoring him. “I will come up there, Gabriel.”

 “No you won’t,” Gabriel sang, pleased with himself.

 The other growled, and extended his wings, a motion Gabriel didn’t notice until Michael had shot into the branches and grabbed the collar of the younger’s robes. Gabriel squealed in surprise, falling backwards off the branch with Michael on top of him as they crashed to the Garden floor together. It was then that Sam saw the scars across the eldest Archangel’s wings where Lucifer had ripped his feathers out in the war. Apparently, some wounds didn’t heal. Gabriel laughed as they hit the ground, the sound winded and wheezing, but a laugh all the same, and to Sam’s utter bewilderment, Michael laughed too.

 The sound was melodious, real, and heartbreaking all at the same time. The birds in the trees above burst into the air as it rose and fell, and the wind whipped up as if the archangels had summoned it. Michael rolled off of his brother and sat up with huff as he caught his breath, Gabriel doing the same.

 “So what’s the deal-io with Dad?” Gabriel asked, putting his hands behind him across the grass, fingers threading through the blades.

 Michael rolled his eyes, “It’s your summons, Gabriel. Not mine. I suggest you answer them and find out for yourself.”

Sam blinked and the world twisted, and he found himself looking at the brothers again, though they were standing now, underneath the same tree. Gabriel looked tense, his feathers ruffled as they had not been only seconds before. It was one of the only ways Sam recognized the passage of time, and he realized he had not been privy to whatever conversation the archangel had had with God. He was kind of relieved, actually. After all the shit he and Dean had been put through because of the absent Father, he wasn’t sure he wanted to see him. Ever.

Gabriel was absolutely fuming, pacing around the base of the tree with his wings flared and his eyes narrowed. He moved until he was suddenly nose to nose with Michael, who didn’t seem the least bit alarmed by this, and growled, “Why does it have to be me who does this, Michael? Wouldn’t you be more suited, as the eldest, the closest to our Father?”

 “I am not the Angel of Prophecy, the Messenger,” Michael said evenly, eyebrows raised in amusement. “That would be you, dear brother.”

 “And do you remember what happened the last time?” Gabriel snorted. “John? If there was any messed up kid in this world, it was this one.” He shrugged, “And I’m pretty sure Zacharias was not his father. Not that he could tell.”

 Michael groaned, putting his head in his hands, “Don’t remind me. Can you try not to mess up so terribly this time around? Father would not appreciate it if his Son-”

 “That’s exactly it!” Gabriel waved his arms around, nearly smacking his sibling in the face, “He’s trusting me with the delivery of his Son, Michael. His Son.”

 The older smiled, “He trusts you.”

 Gabriel flailed, “Why? I’m the most irresponsible, air headed, lazy angel in the garrison! Why me?” Michael chuckled as he watched his brother’s panic.

“Maybe because you love humanity more than anyone else, Gabriel,” he murmured.

The younger paused, “What? But the whole garrison-”

 “Tolerates and obeys our Father’s wishes. That is not love, Gabriel.” Michael closed his eyes as Gabriel stared at him in shock, “It is not the same as the love I hold for our Father, or for all my brothers. You however,” he opened his eyes again, meeting Gabriel’s gaze, “You spend much time on earth, among humanity. I’ve seen you, Gabriel, holding the newly born souls you reside over, helping the crippled with their crops and their seeds, and caring for the sick until Azrael comes for them to lead them on. Why should it not be you, who does all these things and more for our Father’s Son?”

 Gabriel swallowed thickly, “I-”

 “Go, Gabriel.”

 

This time when the world tilted, Sam knew instantly he wasn’t in Heaven anymore. His feet landed on an untidy dirt floor, and his eyes instantly went to the roof over his head, thatch and straw laced together. The place had a single room and a single bed, beside which a young woman was crouched, kneeling in prayer. She had long dark hair that was tied back out of her eyes, and her skin was tanned from either birth or from a lifetime of work out in the hot sun. Her eyes were closed as she murmured words Sam couldn’t hear until they suddenly snapped open in alarm.

A light bathed the room, the same white hot glow that Sam had only seen when he’d banished angels during the Almost-Apocalypse. The woman jerked back from the bed as the light descended from seemingly nowhere to hover before her, fading until it had revealed Gabriel, faint traces of the glow still glinting off the edges of his wings.

 “Hail, one receiving grace,” Gabriel’s voice was unlike Sam had ever heard it, full of power and authority as it echoed around the tiny house, “the Lord is with you.” The archangel placed a hand upon the top of her head and she shivered at his words, “Blessed are you among women.” It was almost comical, to Sam, to hear such formal speech from him when he usually used his own odd mix of words and phrases from the twenty first century.

 The woman trembled at the angel’s touch, awe and dread in her gaze, and Sam took in the sight of her bright blue eyes the same shade as he knew Castiel’s to be. Gabriel smiled soothingly at her, “Do not fear, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Sam inhaled, mesmerized. Mary, this was Mary, the chosen virgin to carry God’s child. “And behold!” Gabriel continued, raising the hand that was not resting on her head towards the roof, “You shall conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call him Jesus.” Mary opened her mouth, but Gabriel put a finger to her lips and silenced her, “He shall be great and be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord shall give him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the House of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom, there shall be no end.”

 Mary’s eyes watered, and she gazed up at the angel before her, “How shall this be, since I do not know a man?”

 Gabriel nodded in understanding, though this was probably not new information to him, “The Holy Spirit shall come to you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. Therefore, also that Holy One which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.” She blinked at him, obviously confused, but he went on, “And behold, your cousin Elizabeth also conceived a son in her old age. And this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God, nothing shall be impossible.”

The archangel lowered his arms from his dramatic gesturing, and let out a long, loud sigh, to which Mary blinked at him, taken aback at the sound, “Oh good grief. Now that that’s finally over . . .” He held out his hand, “My name is Gabriel, Mary. And from here on out, I am you very own personal angel.”

 Mary stared at him and Sam snorted into his hands, stifling a laugh. She smiled then, lips quirking as she laughed as, clasping the offered hand in both of hers, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Gabriel. And an honor.”

 When Sam blinked, he found himself outside that same little house, if he could even call it that, with Gabriel at his side. The archangel didn’t look at him, but when he shifted their shoulders brushed. Gabriel crossed his arms and peered down the thin winding road outside of the house as though he was waiting for something, his stance tense. And just when Sam was starting to worry he’d missed something, he mary came careening come careening around the corner, the edges of her dress (it could have been robes, Sam didn’t really know what to call her attire) held up as she ran, practically leaping at the angel when she approached.

 Gabriel huffed, catching her, “Whoa, you shouldn’t be running girly, you’re two months in.”

 “Joseph proposed to me!” Mary all but squealed in delight, “We’re to be married on the morrow!”

 “So soon?” Gabriel asked, astonished.

 “Yes, I have told him about,” she lowered a hand to her stomach in the place of words, “And he doesn’t care. He wishes to meet you, Gabriel, to speak with you about raising the child.”

 The angel squeezed her shoulders, “I apologize, but I can not just yet, Mary. Tell Joseph that he will see me the day God’s Son is born.”

 Mary looked up at him with worried eyes, “What? Are you going somewhere?”

 “No,” Gabriel soothed, “But the trials you must face soon are yours and your husband’s alone, I am forbidden to interfere. But I will watch over you, have faith.” She nodded, eyes glistening, and he pulled her into a tight hug, “Have faith, Mary.”

 “I will.”

 Sam watched in stunned silence, shocked at the affection Gabriel was showing towards her, though he’d protested against the job in the first place. It seemed that Michael was right, he really was the angel who cared the most for humanity. The thought made Sam feel sick and proud at the same time. He was mortified that all the other angels didn’t feel even anything remotely like this towards the people of earth, and he was proud that Gabriel was different, and that he dared to defy what his brothers believed.

 

When the ground slipped out from under him this time, Sam found himself zipping through a series of memories that whipped by so fast he had no time to dwell on them. A long journey away from Mary’s home when her neighbors deduced that her child was not Joseph’s, a rushing river crossed in struggles and breaths, shivers and tears. Towns and cities passed through where no one spared the pair a glance, sweeping desserts where there was no water to be had for days and days, each drop given to Mary while Joseph went without. All the while Sam watched as her belly swelled with the Son of God.

 And the world slowed again as they approached an inn on the outskirts of a small city, pleading for a room that would not be given.

 Sam held his breath as Joseph begged, hands clasped together, “Please, my wife is heavy with child and-”

 The innkeeper gazed at the man with cold eyes, “We’re full, as is every inn in town this time of year, go elsewhere, I have nothing for you, beggar.”

 “We are not, beggars!” Joseph hissed, and Sam marveled at his pluck, “Please, I am begging you, we just need a place to stay for the night, a with a roof over our heads out of the wind and cold.”

 The innkeeper studied him, a frown on his face, before he gestured over to a ramshackle barn, “You may use the stables, if you must. Go, be among the livestock and horses where you belong.”

 Joseph held back a snarl at the insult, but nodded and let out a curt, “Thank you,” before he steered Mary towards the barn, shoulders tense with anger. She laid a hand on his arm, murmuring something to him, and he relaxed ever so slightly at her touch.

 Sam hung back on the edges of the stables, absently running his hands over the horses only to have his fingers pass right through them. Maybe he could only touch things he’d seen before, in is time. Things that still existed in his time, like Gabriel. Or maybe it was only Gabriel he could come in contact with because it was Gabriel he’d entered this chain of memories for. He watched, passive, as Mary went into labor and Joseph scrambled around to create a makeshift crib for the baby. He waited, wondering when Gabriel would keep his promise to return. And he wished he could help every time that Mary screamed.

 After a few hours of this, Sam couldn’t take it anymore. Thus far, it was the longest memory he’d been a part of, and besides that it worried him immensely that Gabriel had yet to show. He walked outside into the chilled night air as he silently prayed for the archangel to appear.

Suddenly, from the inn, a woman emerged, wrapping a shawl around her shoulders and tilting her head back towards the sky as she did so. She gasped, throwing a hand in the air and pointing. Sam followed her extended finger, narrowing his eyes in surprise. A star, brighter than any he’d ever seen glinted right above the stables, high in the sky. Sam laughed softly to himself at the sight, shaking his head. At least he knew what the archangel was doing now, even if in the long run being the star that shone the way for the coming wise men was the least important event of the night. The Hunter snorted and wandered back into the stables.

 As soon as he stepped inside, Joseph’s eyes went to him, halting him in his tracks. “Oh, thank the Lord. Please, could you lend me a hand here?” Sam blinked, stunned. How was it that Joseph could see him now, when he hadn’t been able to for hours and hours just awhile ago. He nodded and paced over to allow Mary grab to his hand and tug him down, wincing at how hard she crushed his fingers. “Uh-”

 “Just stay there and make sure her breathing stays even,” Joseph directed as be moved to crouch between her legs with a cloth and a basin of water, “Thank you.”

 It was then that Sam realized he didn’t like the miracle of life anymore. With Mary cutting off the circulation in his fingers, the amount of screaming, the blood and birthing fluid on Joseph’s hands, it was all very traumatizing and gross. He never wanted to see it again.

And then she stopped screaming, making room for the wails of the child that Joseph held aloft with eyes tearing up. Holy . . . Sam decided not to curse, even in his mind, not here at the birth of God’s Son. He decided he liked the miracle of life again.

 “Beautiful, isn’t it?” a voice whispered near his ear, and Sam started so bad he fell over, Mary’s hand slipping away from his.

 “G-Gabriel!” he screeched, “What the-”

 Mary had pushed herself up onto her elbows, whipping the sweat from her brow wearily as she took note of the archangel, “You know this boy, with the weird clothes,” she waved at Sam’s t-shirt and jeans, and he blushed, feeling suddenly out of place. “Thank you.”
 

 

 Sam raised an eyebrow, he had expected. an annoyed remark on Gabriel’s absence, or something about letting a stranger into such a private and holy event. No such luck. Gabriel butted in before Sam could say anything to the thanks, however, “No problem, Mary. I knew you might need a hand. Anywho . . .” The angel made grabby motions towards the baby crying pitifully in Joseph’s arms, “Lemme see that thing.”

The Hunter frowned at the use of the word “Thing” but let it slide, standing up and looking over Gabriel’s shoulder as theTtrickster took the infant. Gabriel cooed at him and wrapped him tight in the cloth Joseph had provided. “That’s him, huh?” Sam whispered, awed.

 Gabriel simply nodded as he continued to make little noises at the child, “Lookit you! Such a little cutie!”

 Sam frowned, staring at the small boy, “He looks kinda familiar . . .”

 “You’re imagining things,” Gabriel hushed him.

 Together, they settled the child down in the manger stuffed with hay and wool from the sheep. Gabriel and Sam step aside to allow the new parents room to crowd around the baby. They marveled at him and whispered things to him Sam had no right to hear, so he simply stoped listening. “So,” he said to Gabriel, waiting for the inevitable shift to another memory, “Are we done here?”

 “I’ve told you before I have no control over this,” Gabriel hissed, frustrated at his questioning. “Apparently there’s still something here that needs to be seen.” He crossed his arms and stared at the dirt beneath his feet.

 Sam glanced up as the stable door creaked open, shifting until he was sure that, should it be an enemy, he could charge at them and stop them from hurting the baby and it’s parents in an instant. A man poked his head inside and gazed around in confusion before his eyes rested on the manger. Sam tensed, but Gabriel put an arm across his chest, stopping him from butting in, “Calm, it’s just the first Wiseman.”

The Hunter bared his teeth at Gabriel’s calm when it very well could have been a threat, but hung back and watched as all three filed in to stand around the manger, bearing beautiful gifts that glittered of precious metals and stones in the light of the candles in the stable. The third, as Sam watched them semi-warily, caught his eye more than the other two. He looked no different, bearing the typical beard and fancy getup as was the apparent style of higher stature in this age, but Sam took note of the glow behind his shoulders before any of this. He raised a hand in the man’s direction, casting a sidelong look at the archangel at his side, “He’s an angel?” he asked.

 Gabriel blinked at him, “Balthazar? Yeah, he is. How’d you know? He’s hiding it pretty damn good.”

 Sam shrugged, glancing at the glow behind the apparent angel once more, “I can see . . . His Grace? On his wings.”

 The archangel bit his lip and mused over the Hunter’s words in silence for a heartbeat, “You really shouldn’t be able to, I wonder why that is?”

 And the world shifted under their feet.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

 The events that flashed by were slower to Sam’s senses this time, images that paused and stilled like an old movie reel. Sometimes they would be much more reminiscent of a slideshow, capturing single moments in time like a photograph reflected for Sam to see. He watched the child grow up, as any child would, watched him play and explore and do all the tings a normal child would. It wasn’t surprising, not really, but Sam couldn’t recall anything about Jesus’ childhood to say it would be odd to learn he’d been just like any other boy his age.

 Things paused every time that Gabriel made an appearance, though Sam didn’t doubt he was really there the whole time. The memory that caught in Sam’s mind the most, struck a cord if you will, was when the boy was six or seven.

 Joseph had been teaching him how to work with wood, how to craft and create, carving with the grain and the lifelines of the tree. Jesus had looked so proud when Gabriel arrived, showing the angel a little cart he had made that was about the size of a man’s hand. The wheels even turned, and Gabriel examined the thing with much praise for the workmanship. “But you know what this cart needs?” Gabriel asked, clapping his hands together, “A strong horse to pull it.” When his palms parted he revealed the most beautiful wooden horse Sam had ever seen, which was saying something considering all the marvels of the twenty first century he’d witnessed. The horse was smooth and perfectly carved. Thin strips of leather made up it’s mane and tail, and two little chunks of round obsidian were it’s eyes. It was absolutely perfect, and the boy took it with awe and wonder in his eyes, attaching it to the cart as though it had always belonged there.

 That wasn’t the last time Sam saw the horse, and as the memories continued tot flash by it continued to show up. Jesus treasured it, cleaning it whenever it got dirty, making sure not a smudge stuck to it’s body. When he began to travel, it was stowed away in the single small pouch he carried with him, tucked away in safety.

 Sam had little interest in following the events that were told in the bible, and he paid them little attention. Some of the stories were skewed, especially the ones of the man’s younger years, but he started paying attention when he was standing at the base of a low rising hill, the Son at it’s peak, speaking to a gathered crowd about his Father. He noticed it then, what Gabriel had denied when the child was born, and his eyebrows furrowed together. The man’s beard was thicker than Sam had seen it in his time, and his eyes were a shade lighter, like someone who had seen more than most. But undoubtedly, Jesus Christ looked almost identical to Chuck Shirley. “What the . . .”

 “You hadn’t guessed before?” Gabriel’s lips were near his ear, and the Hunter felt the prophet’s eyes fall to them, taking note of the archangel’s appearance. “He was more powerful than the average prophet, Winchester.”

 “Dean suspected . . . But not this.”

Gabriel rocked back on his heels, “He suspected that kid was God, didn’t he? After he disappeared. Ha.” The archangel shook his head, amused, “Jesus is the middle plane’s incarnation of my Father, it’s technically the same thing.” He shrugged, grabbing Sam’s wrist in the same motion, “Come on now, not much of this series of memories left to go. And this one doesn’t have a happy ending either.”

 Sam swallowed and allowed Gabriel to lay a hand over his eyes blocking out the things to come.

 He could still hear, though. The anguished cries of Mary, the pained gasps that were choked back were still clear to his ears. The scent of blood lingered in his nostrils, and Sam closed his mouth so that he wouldn’t taste it in the air. The jeers of the Romans filtered in as well, and the emotion of betrayal was so strong from the gathered and the dying that even he felt it, it seeped into his heart with every beat. Tears welled in Sam’s eyes unbidden, stopped by Gabriel’s fingers blocking his sight. The archangel’s chest was against his back and he could feel the other’s heartbeat, rapid and uneven. Sam reached his hands over his shoulders, finding the side’s of Gabriel’s face and moving up, threading his fingers through the angel’s hair. While he felt panicked merely from the sounds and the overwhelming rush of anguish from the memories he couldn’t see, Gabriel was reliving them, events that had pained him thousands of years ago, and still pained him now.

 “Let me see,” he urged, but Gabriel shook his head, his chin brushing against Sam’s shoulder.

 “There’s nothing left to see,” and the hands lifted from Sam’s eyes, revealing the white blankness Sam had seen when he’d first stepped into Kali’s spell circle.

 Sam gritted his teeth, suddenly angry at the lack of memory, “But- Gabriel, didn’t he rise after three days?”

 Gabriel drew away from him back stepping away, “Rising doesn’t mean living, Sammy,” he muttered, frowning. “And it was three days.”

 “Exactly!” Sam snapped, “You couldn’t have waited three days? Is that why there’s nothing else to see? I thought those memories, if nothing else, showed that you cared about him.”

The archangel snarled, surging forward and grabbing the collar of Sam’s shirt, “I did care! I do care! Do you even understand how long three days is in Hell, Sam? It’s a year, a whole fucking year. Back then, Hell was worse than it is now, if you can believe it. Every soul went there, every single one. And Jesus spent a year picking out the good from the rotten in that place.” His breath stuttered and he paused, chest heaving, Sam watching in stunned silence. “How could I . . . He was like my child, Sam, my brother. How was I supposed to look him in the eye after that, like everyone else did? To tell him I was sorry for what he’d been through, that I’d known all along it would happen.” Gabriel swallowed, “I’m the angel of prophecy, Sam. I knew what would happen, and I let it happen. Let him get hurt. I couldn’t face him after that.”

 “He would have forgiven you,” Sam whispered.

 “You can’t know that for certain,” Gabriel replied venomously, and he stepped away.

 


Blank Pages Part 6

 

Blank Pages: Ashes To Ashes

 

 

 

 

 

As Gabriel stepped back, Sam found himself staring at entirely different world than he’d last been placed in. Gabriel had vanished once again, and the Hunter’s eyes widened as he took in the sight of a cobbled street lined with low buildings underneath a pure blue. It wasn’t the perfect blue of Heaven and clouds were dotted here and there, but it was beautiful, untainted yet by the machines of the twentieth century. The air too was fresher somehow, tinged with the smells of the new city he’d been placed in, baking bread and cool water that could be heard over the hustle and bustle of the people, running through a stream nearby.

 Sam sucked in a long breath, turning on the spot to try and see exactly where he was for certain, get his bearings. For it’s time, the city itself was absolutely stunning, and Sam guessed from the use of the aqueduct he could see nearby that he was somewhere in Italy, Rome perhaps. His eyes fell on a mountain looming up from just above the buildings, and his brow furrowed together at the thin line of smoke he could see rising from it. A fire? Or . . .

A shoulder bumped against him, and he jerked out of his thoughts to see Gabriel striding past, talking amiably to another man. He glanced up as he made contact with Sam, giving him a grim smile before carrying on, making Sam hurry after him if he had any hope of seeing what was to come. As Sam drew up beside him he noticed the angel’s garb. Where before Gabriel had remained clothed in the robes he adorned in Heaven, here he possessed what Sam could assume was the traditional dress, as the other man was wearing something similar. He bore a gold cloth covering his person from shoulders to just below his knees, tied up and held by a thin, fine rope along his waist. Behind his ear he’d tucked a sprig of some green plant or another, and it held his hair back from his honey eyes.

 His eyes themselves shone. Sam had the sinking feeling that they had not done so for years after the Son’s death, and he felt a burst of relief at the thought that Gabriel was somehow at peace here, as he assumed had been the angel’s intention of staying a place as beautiful as this.

 As he thought that, Gabriel nudged his companion, nodding towards the distant mountain, “Mount Vesuvius is in poor spirits today, should we not get someone to climb to the peak and see that all is well?”
 
Sam’s heart lurched, and his eyes went to the mountain instantly. He stood frozen in place as the other two continued to walk.

 “No, if there’s something wrong I’m sure the soldiers we have stationed at the post there will alert us, it is one of their many jobs after all,” the other man replied smoothly. He had light auburn brown hair that shone in the afternoon sunlight, his eyes of a similar shade. Well muscled with arms laced in scars both thin and thick, Sam had to wonder if he was a gladiator, as his dress was far from as formal as Gabriel’s was.

 The Hunter paled at the other man’s words, swallowing as his eyes caught sight of that thin, almost unnoticeable line of smoke in the sky once again. Oh, Gabriel. The archangel’s gaze was unworried as he turned away from the peak, heading down another street with his friend, and Sam followed at a slower pace. There was no fear in the way Gabriel walked, as there was with Sam now, who couldn’t help glancing over his shoulder at the ominous shadow the mountain cast over the city, trembling every time he thought he caught a whiff of the smoke, though he knew it was yet too far away to smell. Gabriel was oblivious, and for the first time knew nothing of the things to come. Unlike Sam. Sam didn’t need a sign to tell him where he was, the mountain’s name had been enough, and he wished he could close his eyes then and now and miss the destruction to come.

 For this was the grand city of Pompeii.

Turing another corner, Sam found himself standing suddenly inside a room, and when he glanced over his shoulder the street he’d come from was gone, a wall in it’s place. Red cloth hung from the corners, draped along the upper parts of the walls on all four sides, curtaining over the stone entryway to the room. A bed, different from what Sam was used to, but elegant for it’s age, adorned with thin golden hangings and tassels so that anyone inside would be shielded from prying eyes was in the far corner. A chair sat, similar to the ones Sam had seen people lay on in psychiatrists’ office in the center of the room beside a table decorated with fresh fruits in a bowl. It was there, unsurprisingly, that he found Gabriel, lounged on his back and popping grapes in his mouth.

 “Heya, Sammy!” he called, motioning the other over.

 Warily, Sam approached, staring at Gabriel’s outstretched hand when it was offered,

“Wha-” he started, allowing the angel to grasp his own hand before he was pulled down on top of the other with a startled squeak. “Gabriel!”

 Gabriel grinned, sprawling out underneath him, arms behind his head. His wings weren’t corporal, but at this close range Sam could make out the faint glow of where they were hidden behind the angel’s shoulder blades. Waggling his eyebrows, Gabriel held up a grape to Sam’s lips, ignoring the way the Hunter had levered himself up on his hands so that they were barely touching, “I’m sure you’re starving,” he said smartly, “So eat as much as you want, kiddo.”

 “Gabriel-” Sam started, mind roiling with questions and his body screaming, “Run away!” but the archangel simply laughed, popping the grape into the his open mouth. He chewed, frowning down at the Trickster before trying to speak again, “Gabriel, this is serious, you do know that-”

 “That Pompeii is going to burn in a fiery pit of ash?” Gabriel asked, voice tinged with anger, “No, I didn’t. Not at the time. This was when I . . .” He closed his mouth, shaking his head, “Never mind, you’ll see for yourself. That’s what the point of this whole memory trip is after all. That, and rebuilding myself of course.”

Sam narrowed his eyes. “Why did you come here, to this place?” he asked. If Gabriel was the angel of prophecy, as he’d said before, surely he would have known what was to befall Pompeii and it’s people.

 The angel shrugged again, “To relax, mostly. Forget, maybe. I came here as soon as Jesus breathed his last breath, and I stayed until it was buried beneath the spit of the mountain. It was a paradise on earth, Sammy, and I felt safe there - here,” he corrected, looking unsure of which term to use. “But anyways,” Gabriel picked up a slice of apple between his fingers, pressing it to Sam’s lips, “Eat. Even in a memory, this is your real body. I’m not going to let you wither like a dried up prune.” He made a face at the very thought, and Sam guessed that prunes were not the angel’s food of choice in the slightest.

 Obediently Sam opened his mouth, licking the slice inside and chewing, the juice of the apple sliding down his chin. Gabriel blinked and watched the coarse of the sticky stuff drip down before he pushed himself up onto his elbows, tongue darting out to lick it away. Sam stared at him, stunned, before he swallowed, “What was that?”

 “What was what?” Gabriel asked innocently, raising a hand and threading his fingers through the back of Sam’s hair.

“That,” Sam pointed to his chin, “and this,” he motioned to Gabriel’s hand in his hair, “What are you doing?”
 
Gabriel hummed thoughtfully, “You know,” he said, and Sam rolled his eyes at the evasion of the question, “Back in this time, the only true bond was thought to be between two men.”

 Sam’s heart leapt to his throat, “Uh, I really don’t think this is the time for-”

 “Prude?” Gabriel asked lightly, in the same tone Dean always took when Sam sneered at his skin magazines.

 “No,” Sam snapped before falling onto his forearms so that their chests were touching, “Try me.”

 And Gabriel did, pulling Sam down with the hand he had in his hair until their lips met, kissing him hard. Sam’s breath escaped him and when he opened his mouth Gabriel slipped his tongue inside, exploring across gums and teeth, nudging at Sam’s own tentatively. Tentatively. The word itself seemed foreign when combined with Gabriel, and Sam deepened the kiss at the very thought of it, taking the angel by surprise this time. There was snap and Sam felt himself falling back with a huff, the breath knocked out of him as Gabriel landed on top of him across the bed where they’d been transported to with magical archangel powers. “Misuse of power,” Sam chided, sucking in air.

 Gabriel laughed, lacing his fingers into Sam’s hair again, their foreheads touching, “Please. It’s my Grace and I can do what I wish with it. Item number one on the list is Seducing a Winchester,” he leaned down and pecked a kiss to Sam’s lips teasingly.

 Sam snorted, “I would think it would be ‘Return oneself to one’s body’ first and foremost.”

 “Less important,” Gabriel said loudly, as though making a statement to an audience instead of just Sam, “I’ve been dead, and as a small child for far too long. I need me some awesome.”

 The Hunter groaned, arching up as Gabriel kissed him once again, hands on either side of his face. He moved his own up, finding purchase against the archangel’s shoulders, “And by ‘awesome’ you mean . . .” Sam prompted when they broke apart for a breath, his chest heaving, fingers wandering down the wrinkles in Gabriel’s Roman clothes to the rope at his waist.

 The angel held up his hand and snapped twice, the first time causing their clothing to disappear, to which Sam shivered, the second time to move the fruit bowl onto the bed, to which Sam glared. “Awesome fun naked times, what else would you expect from me?” he smirked, grabbing a strawberry and biting into it, red juice drizzling from the fruit onto Sam’s chest.

Sam arched up again, nails digging into Gabriel’s shoulders as the archangel licked a stripe down his body from sternum to navel, lapping up the streak of red from the strawberry in one movement. “You know,” Gabriel murmured as he placed another small kiss just above Sam’s belly button, “I’ve been waiting for this a long time.”

 Sam raised an eyebrow and he loosened his grip on the angel’s shoulders. “You sure didn’t act that way,” he said darkly, and Gabriel flinched, “Not until you died. Why now?”

 Gabriel frowned, “I acted as I was required, Sam. I was forbidden to touch the vessels, did you know? The first time we met I barely lifted a finger towards you,” He began tracing a circle on Sam’s stomach, not meeting his eyes, “And the second . . .”

 “The second you hurt Dean,” Sam filled in, voice cold.

 “No!” Gabriel jerked his gaze up, honey gold meeting green, “That’s not what I set out to do. I’ve told you before, Sam, in these memories, that I am the angel of prophecy. Even though it was forbidden, I was . . .” He looked away again, “I didn’t want you to become what Ruby turned you in to. I tried to show you revenge got you nowhere, but you were too stubborn. My methods weren’t ideal, but they were all I had, Sammy, all I knew after years of playing Loki. In order to teach, you must trick. I . . .” He drew off, watching the confused, softer gaze Sam had shifted to, “I care about you, a lot.”

 “Show me,” Sam whispered, and Gabriel shivered as his fingers fumbled against his shoulders, moving to touch between the blades of them to where the base of his wings would lie.

Sam watched in silence as the angel’s wings unfurled, a mass of dark feathers, some of them shaking loose to float towards the floor. He tilted his neck as Gabriel placed a series of kisses along his jaw line, trailing smaller and smaller ones down his neck and across his sternum. Their legs tangled together and Sam whimpered at the sudden friction, curling his fingers into black feathers, eyes fluttering closed as Gabriel gasped.

 Their movements were jerky, hesitant as they explored each other, trapped in a memory until the blood bond came full circle. Sam shivered with every tiny kiss Gabriel graced him with, mapping out his skin with lips and fingers tracing along old scars. He parted his legs when Gabriel asked him to with touch alone, thanking the stars for magical angel powers (as Dean insisted on calling them) when the archangel pushed inside him relatively pain free, the movement swift and easy. Sam wrapped his legs around the other’s waist as they rocked, burying his face in the pocket between Gabriel’s neck and shoulder with a muffled cry when he came, the angel kissing away the tears that had welled in the corners of his eyes.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

 When Sam drifted awake the faintest smell of ash was already in the air, even inside the room. He rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling for a moment before he levered himself up onto his elbows, twisting to the side to catch sight of Gabriel. The archangel was snoring slightly and Sam smiled to himself, realizing that until now he hadn’t been sure if angels rested or not, let alone slept.

 “Only when we feel like it,” Gabriel yawned as he shifted to his stomach and pressed his face into the cloth. “Today’s the day, isn’t it,” he said, voice muffled.

 “Yeah,” Sam said, though really he was guessing, “I think so.” He rolled out of bed, searching for his clothes and finding them neatly folded on the table beside the long chair. He slipped them on with his back to the angel, and when he turned around the bed was empty.

He wasn’t surprised, really. Gabriel seemed to get whisked away into his memories at the oddest of times, today would be no exception. It took some time, but eventually Sam navigated the hallways of the building he was in to the outside, pulling his shirt up over his mouth as he stepped out into the ash filled air.

 To his surprise no one seemed alarmed at the light flurries of ash and pumice raining down like darkly colored snow, and many people were going about their daily business with pieces of cloth covering their nose and mouth. Sam wanted to yell at the mother who passed with her child, tell her run and leave the city before things got worse, as he knew they would, but she wouldn’t have heard him inside the memory.

 He noticed Gabriel, back against the building Sam had just emerged from, staring up at the smoke clouded sky with narrowed eyes, the same man Sam had seen with him the day before at his side. “Doesn’t this seem a bit worse to you than usual, Sirix?” he asked, glancing at the man in worry.

 Sirix, as Gabriel had called him, put a hand to his nose and mouth, lacking the cloth the other citizens had, Gabriel also minus one, “It does. I shall inform Lady Aglaia. She can set up an emergency system if things start to go bad.” He shrugged, gesturing for Gabriel to follow as they made their way past Sam. The Hunter trailed behind them with his eyes for a heartbeat before he found himself standing in a different scene entirely.

The mother he had seen before was running, or rather stumbling through soot and ash knee deep, her child at her side, clinging to her cloths as he practically swam through the hot ash, crying all the way. Sam looked away. Whatever Sirix and Gabriel had tried to plead with the nobles of this city, it had failed.

 As if on cue the man in question himself came hurrying past, a young woman held safely out of the way of the burning ash on the ground in in his arms. Gabriel shoved through at his side, pointing to the far end of the city from the mountain, “Get to the docks, Sirix!” he commanded, “I will try and help the people!”

 “I’ll be back,” Sirix promised, heading for the docks. Sam cast a glance back at Gabriel as the archangel swooped over and lifted up the child from the ash, a motion that revealed the boy’s raw red burnt legs, taking his mother by the arm and directing them the way he’d pointed Sirix, placing the child in her arms. The Hunter turned away and followed Sirix and the girl he was carrying, curiosity getting the better of him.

 On the dock Sirix set the young lady down and motioned to the boats waiting for those strong enough to reach them, “Go, Serena,” he pleaded, “I’ll be right behind you in a few minutes, I promise. I must go get Loleus and Lady Aglaia.”

 “You’ll really be venturing into the darkness?” Her eyes, a copper tinted gray, darted to the rain of ash in the city behind him and down to her own legs, flecked with burns from the piles and sweeps she now stood in.

 “I’m sorry, Serena,” Sirix whispered, reaching out to brush a strand of ebony hair from her eyes, “But as a servant of the House of Felix I must do what I can to ensure their safety.” He swallowed, the sound audible amidst the wails of the city behind him, “You go down to the end of the harbor with the other escapees.” Sirix turned just as Gabriel reached the docks carrying two more children, pausing to wait as the other man approached.

 “No,” Serena spoke up, “I will wait for you here.”

 Sirix stiffened, and Gabriel rested a sympathetic hand on his shoulder, “I might not be coming back, Serena!”“All the more reason!” She called to him, waiting until he faced her again. Gabriel hung back. “For I can not live even one second in a world without you.”

 It was the cheesiest, sappiest thing Sam had ever heard, but he covered his mouth with a hand to hold back the sound of a sob as the words echoed around the dock. This wasn’t some movie he was witnessing, but people’s actual lives and deaths as Gabriel remembered them. They were true words and exchanges, playing out eternally in the archangel’s mind.

 “To live my life, with you, Sirix, is the reason I was born,” Serena whispered.

 Sirix moved to embrace her, pressing his chin to the top of her head, “Serena, I’ll come back, I swear it.”

 And the world faded to black.

 This time when Sam blinked, he found himself in the Garden of Eden again, and the shift between the death plagued air and Heaven made him dizzy. Gabriel was nose to nose with Michael, face red and twisted in grief and rage, “Why was I not told about Pompeii?!” he asked, voice rising with every syllable.

 Michael regarded him coolly ,“Pompeii is not under our control, Gabriel, you know that.”

 Gabriel’s eyes widened, “But . . . This world was made by our father! Why-”

 “And it is governed by humanity,” Michael interjected, “Who are free to believe in whatever they wish. And that is not always us and our father, Gabriel.”

 “Wha-”

 “They believe in other gods, if you will. And in belief comes creation where there was nothing before.”

Gabriel narrowed his eyes, brow furrowing in anger, “And they had the right to slaughter hundreds of innocent people?”

 “The people killed believed in the powers of those gods, thus they could do with their believers as they wished. We have no say in the matter,” with this Michael turned away, apparently tired of the conversation at hand.

 The younger archangel snarled and stalked off in the opposite direction, hands fisted at his side. With a flap of his wings he alighted in the lower boughs of a tree, digging his nails into the bark of the trunk, “This is stupid,” he hissed, glaring down at the ground where Sam stood not far away, though the Hunter knew he was looking right through him. “Stupid, stupid. How can a heartless pagan god have more power than an archangel.” He inhaled suddenly, eyes turning dark, “A pagan god has more power than an archangel . . .”

 Sam knew that at that exact moment in time Gabriel had an idea that would change the future of the world in an instant.

 

A/N: The characters in Pompeii are from the manga NG Life. It is not nessasary to read the manga to get the scene though.

Blank Pages Part 7

Blank Pages: Web Of Lies

 

 

 

 

 Sometimes, when he really has nothing better to do, Dean liked to think about alternate worlds. He knew they existed, he’d seen one. The one where they lost the fight for humanity and went down in a pathetic last stand sometime in the year 2014. It wasn’t pretty, and Dean hoped to God he’d never have to see it again.

 But he liked to think about places like that, where things went just a little differently. Maybe there were worlds where his and Sam’s dad never died, where their mom never burned. Maybe there were worlds without the supernatural in them at all, and Dean and Sam went to college every day like good little boys, while Cass . . . Dean smirked, closing his eyes, Castiel is their counselor, maybe Gabe too. And Dean was too much of a chicken-shit to tell him he likes him.

 Maybe there were a worlds where Gabriel came to their aide the first time around, instead of the last. Worlds where they not only won the War, but they did it stunningly with an archangel on their side. Worlds where Sammy didn’t have to die for everyone else to live. The thought made Dean swallow hard. There might even be hundreds of worlds like that.

 There could be worlds where Adam was alive, where they hunted together, the three of them like it always should have been, instead of the youngest Winchester becoming that one they couldn’t save. Dean’s heart still clenched when he thought about it.

 “Adam isn’t here anymore.

 Maybe there were worlds where he and Cass were married, the thought made him laugh, because he knew that in order for him to be married he must have been very, very hammered. And in Vegas. Maybe there were worlds where Sam never came back from Hell, and where Dean and Castiel moved on with their lives. He thought that while morbid, a world like that might, in time, be beautiful. There might be some really whacked world where Cass got cursed by witches to sang Brittany Spears songs all day and night for days on end. At this, Dean snorted back a guffaw and knew he’d been awake for way too long. There could be a world where the people of it were smart enough and pulled their heads out of their asses long enough that they realized not only did supernatural things exist, but Sam, Dean, and Cass had totally saved their lives. He had the sinking feeling that they were celebrities there, and he didn’t like that much at all.

 Dean thought then that there might be worlds where he was a chick. Maybe some where Sam is a chick, or they’re both chicks. Maybe Cass is a chick in some world too. He rolled over on his stomach to look at the angel and decided that no matter how hot it would be, he liked the Castiel he had here and now best.

 The angel was lying on his back, hands folded on his chest that rose in fell in the light breaths of sleep. Dean smirked to himself, because he finally had confirmation angels could sleep, and he planned to use that information to his evil advantage.

 His mind going off a wild tangent, and he wondered if there were worlds where magic was the norm, like Harry Potter or something. Maybe there’s a world where Dean was a prince, and Castiel is his knight, and Sam is . . . A dragon? The image wormed it’s way into his head before he could stop it, and he had to hold back a giggle so as not to wake Cass up.

 But Dean knew that no matter what, in all of them, all of them, Gabriel was a dick. No question about it. He looked at his watch, realizing it had been almost twenty-four hours since Sam and tiny Gabriel had vanished, and his unease still hadn’t gone away.

 As if woken by the other’s anxiety, Castiel sat up suddenly, flexing his fingers against his knees and staring down at Dean, who simply blinked up in return. “They’ll be fine, you know,” he said softly, in that deep gravely voice that sounded so certain, even when Dean couldn’t see a way out.

The Hunter sighed, glancing away to look at the ceiling morosely, “So you’ve said.” He closed his eyes, unable to watch the vaguely hurt look cross the angel’s face, “It’s not that I don’t believe you, Cass, it’s . . .”

 Castiel frowned, recalling Missouri’s words about Dean’s hesitations, “You don’t trust me,” he concluded. When Dean didn’t answer, he stiffened, “Is that really what it is? Dean, you know I-”

 Dean bolted up, suddenly nose to nose with the other, “No, I knew. I don’t know anything anymore, Cass. For all the ranting you did back then, all the promises you made to stay by my side as long as I needed you, you left. You left, and just when I needed you the most.” He snarled and looked away, “So forgive me if I’m slow to place my faith in you anymore, Castiel.”

 Castiel flinched, eyes narrowing as Dean spat out his name accompanied by the word faith. The word he’d first betrayed the Hunter with. It was a low blow. “You were the one who didn’t call me back!” he hissed in reply, “You were the one who went to that woman and her child as if you had a place there.”

 “I did have a place there!” Dean fisted a hand around Castiel’s tie.

 “You simply wished you did,” Castiel retorted sharply, “Because of a stupid promise to your brother.”

“I’ve lived off of stupid promises all my life!” Dean snapped, “A promise to kill the demon that slaughtered my mother. A promise to kill him when he killed my father. A promise to get my soul back from Lilith, apromise to stop the apocalypse before it started. A promise to save the world. And more than anything else, a promise to keep my fucking little brother safe!” He growled, baring his teeth, “And you made me promises too, except unlike me, you didn’t even try to keep them.”

 “What was the point,” Castiel’s voice had lowered to a dangerous tone, “Of keeping a promise I was not given in return. I gave you everything, Dean. And I was given nothing. Not once did you promise me anything.”

 Dean inhaled sharply, “I . . . I did so . . .”

 “Not once,” Castiel repeated, “Did you make a promise you had any intention to keep. You promised to side with the angels no matter what. We both broke that one, so I don’t hold it against you. After that, you promised to help me find my Father. You barely even tried. You promised never to say yes to Michael, but you did.”

 “And I promised not to let you die a virgin,” Dean added.

 Castiel rolled his eyes, “Unfulfilled.”

 “Only because you’re a prude,” Dean whined. He paused, realizing he still had a hand around the angel’s tie and tightened his grip on it. The Hunter dragged Cass towards him slowly, “Missouri said all angels can show their wings.”

 “We can,” Castiel confirmed.

 “Why am I not allowed to see yours then?” Dean tilted his head to the side and moved a hand to touch between the angel’s shoulder blades, watching in wonder as Castiel took in a sharp breath. “Is it like some sort of angel private part?” He grinned at the thought, “Then fair’s fair, isn’t it? It’s not like you’ve never seen me shower before.”

 Castiel blushed and Dean smirked at his embarrassment, “That was one time, when I miscalculated my landing. It was an accident.”

 Dean laughed, “And I’m sure you’ll claim that till the day you die. And I’ve seen your wings before, right? The day we met? Just the shadows though. And back in April during the apocalypse.”

 The angel’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion, “In April? I didn’t-”

 “-Have any wings then,” Dean finished, tone low, “I know. You don’t remember that night, do you. The night you lost them?” He waited a heartbeat, watching the expression on Cass’ face freeze, the angel growing utterly still, “Sam freaked out when you started screaming, bleeding from your shoulders. He said he could see your wings falling out. Why couldn’t I?”

 “I don’t remember this,” Castiel breathed.

“You were kinda out of it. Bobby locked you in the Panic Room, and I stayed with you until you stopped bleeding. It was just a little over a day, and after that Sam said he couldn’t see your wings anymore.” He stopped, “Why could Sam see them?”

 “Sam had faith,” Castiel answered instantly.

 Dean snorted, “As always. That’s what makes him special.” He made a face, pressing the pads of his fingers against Castiel’s right shoulder blade and leaning back a bit to watch him shudder, “But what’s wrong with showing me? Telling me your secrets?”

 “You never tell me yours,” Castiel said haughtily, too which Dean raised an eyebrow.

 “You know every single itsy bitsy detail of my life, Cass. And I know nothing about you, and you know it.” Using his hand on Cass’ back he tumbled the angel onto the mattress, hovering over him on hands and knees, smirking as Castiel’s blue eyes widened. He hooked his forefinger into the other’s tie, loosening it, “I wanna see your wings.”

 For a heartbeat Castiel stared up at him as he lay there unmoving, before he reached his hands up, sliding them across Dean’s shoulders with the Hunter’s eyes watching his every movement. He closed his eyes, digging his heals into the comforter as his back arched, light erupting from his upper spine, uncurling and spreading outwards until Dean was forced to look away for fear of going blind. When he looked again a pair of gossamer white wings were unfurling across the mattress underneath the angel. They stretched from wall to wall in their span, and Dean inhaled as ivory feathers drifted into the air from the motion, little tufts of down. Castiel’s eyes opened, his chest rising and falling with rapid breaths as he locked eyes with Dean, waiting for a reaction.

 “Oh . . . Jesus . . .” Dean breathed, awed. He ran a finger across one of the nearest primaries on Castiel’s left wing, the angel following him with his eyes and shivering at his touch. The wings were almost the exact opposite of Gabriel’s. Where the archangel’s feathers had been shades of dark midnight blacks and grays, Castiel’s were pure white, and even shadows seemed to get lost in their glow. “They’re beautiful, Cass,” Dean whispered, leaning down to tuck his chin between the angel’s neck and shoulder. He ran his fingers through the feathers slowly, taking time to savor the tickle of power he felt race from the tips of his fingers throughout his whole body with every little touch.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

Gabriel lay on his stomach, taking no notice of Sam inside the memory as the Hunter paced the length of the small room over and over again. If the Hunter thought about it, it really wasn’t often inside this world of the past that Gabriel paid attention to him, and Sam had to wonder if the times when he did were a coincidence, or simply times when he was strong enough to break away and not get wrapped up in the memories. This was not one of those times.

 A young man pushed back a rice paper door as he sidled into the room, holding a needle in one hand and a bowl of simple black ink in another. This was the third day Sam had spent in this particular memory, the longest thus far aside from the night they’d stayed in Pompeii. Gabriel craned his head over his shoulder when the man entered, frowning at the bowl and needle, “You know, for something so simple it sure hurts a lot.”

 The man laughed, the sound reaching Sam’s ears from the other side of the room and sounding more like a yip than a chuckle. “My friend, it is far from simple,” he gestured to his handiwork already etched across the archangel’s back, almost finished. Great sweeping lines and curves marked out the design of the each individual feather of the wing tattoos on Gabriel’s back, stretching from the base of his neck to just below the top of his hips. This wasn’t the first time Sam had seen them. “Each feather has the binding spell written out in Enochian, too small for the human eye to see,” the man went on, sounding immensely proud of himself.

 “Hurts like a bitch though, Kiba-san,” Gabriel growled, gritting his teeth as the man brought the needle to his skin again.

 “It wouldn’t be working if it didn’t,” Kiba huffed, his laugh once again sounding like the yip of a small dog to Sam, who kept his distance. Unlike a traditional Japanese man, Kiba had cloudy gray hair and bright, tinted autumn red in some places, gold eyes peering out from his bangs, Sam knew what he was in a heartbeat. “The ink must bind with your Grace in order for a spell this strong to hold,” he went on.

 “It had better hold,” Gabriel warned.

“It will,” Kiba promised smoothly as he dipped the needle into the ink and brought it back to Gabriel’s skin again. “No one knows better about deceit and trickery than my people, Tenshi-sama. You came to the right place when you sought my help. It is simply too bad you choose not to stay among my kind.”

 Gabriel shook his head, resting his chin on his folded arms across the edge of the table he lay on, “Your people are not gods, Kiba. I seek the power only a deity can offer.”

 “My home has no true god,” Kiba murmured in understanding, “We believe in nature, and the people of it, like my family.”

 “It’s better that way,” Gabriel assured softly. “What do you think, Kiba-san? I’m trying to decide between middle east and the lands up north.”

 Kiba smirked, “I wouldn’t know what to decide, Tenshi-sama, I have never left this land.”

 “I’m thinking north,” Gabriel went on lightheartedly. “As soon as I’m done here of course. Can’t have any of the higher god peoples seeing my wings. They seem to have this thing against angels and my Father in general.”

 “They fear your power.”

 “And yet the people fear theirs,” Gabriel muttered. “It’s a weird world we’re in, Kiba-san.”

 The fox demon raised an eyebrow, lifting his needle with a smile, “Yes, it is.”

 Sam had only faced a Kitsune once before, when he was younger. A minor Trickster, a thousand times less powerful than Gabriel or any pagan god, but a pain in the ass all the same. Sam didn’t like them, and as the Kitsune looked up their eyes met for a breath. The world tilted away.


When Sam blinked, he found himself standing on a plain of grass, wind whipping up around him fierce and fast and dark clouds roiling above. Gabriel was standing ahead of him a ways, arms spread as he stared up into the stormy sky, screaming something Sam couldn’t hear over the howl of the wind. Wrapping his arms around himself the Hunter pressed forward, struggling to Gabriel’s side.

 “Hellooooooo!” Gabriel screamed into the wind, “I know you’re here, Farbauti! I’ve come to ask a favor! Remember that one time I kinda swooped in and saved your idiot son Byleistr from running over the edge of a cliff during your last war? Well time to pay up!” The angel lowered his arms, annoyed as the storm rage on above him, “Hello!?”

 Sam nearly had a heart attack when a jag of lighting snaked down from the sky and struck the ground only inches from Gabriel’s foot. The archangel merely grinned, while Sam pounded a hand to his heart off to the side, unnoticed. “There we go,” he said, breathless in a way that made Sam think he was excited. “Farbauti! I’d like it if you could take me in, as a favor to an old friend. Tell the others I’m your son, and I will act it every day for the rest of my life, I swear upon my own Father. I will be yours in any war, loyal to your people as true as I am to my own. I simply ask to be granted that status and power.”

The ground shook beneath Sam’s feet and he jumped back as roots erupted from the soil, ensnaring Gabriel’s ankles. A tree began to sprout from the grass, twisting up the angel’s lower legs as it raised him towards the sky a good couple dozen feet. While Sam panicked below, Gabriel simply smiled, triumph echoing across every inch of his face. The clouds crackled and lightning streaked down, striking the new tree and Gabriel wrapped up in it. Sam gasped, hands to his mouth as the entire thing lit on fire, angel and all, the flames arcing up towards the sky until they disappeared a puff of smoke and ash, leaving a large ring of soot across the grass.

 And at it’s center stood Gabriel, hands still raised, palms open towards the sky. Slowly, he closed fingers to his wrists, a long, low laugh starting to escape him. The sound made Sam shudder as it rose and fell, strong over the shrieking wind. And with every note sparks flew from the already burned out soot, dancing even as rain started to pelt the ground from the clouds above. And the angel laughed and laughed. No, Sam corrected, not the angel. The Trickster. Loki.

 Loki the Wildfire.

 


A/N: Dean alludes to a bunch of my favorite SPN Fanfics in this chapter.

. Listed here in order of mention.

A Cold Academic Hell by Moorishflower

Every Team Free Love themed fic ever. Seriously. Why didn’t Gabe just jump onto Ship Team Free Will from day one?

The What Happens In Vegas Series by DauntPerplexity

Strike Me Down And I’ll Become More Powerful Than You could Possibly Imagine by ???? (Sorry, can’t find a name on my copy).

Party Like It’s 1999 by ??? (Again, blank where Author name would be. Might‘ve been from the Secret Angel Exchange at some point or another.)

I Wanna Be Famous (also from the SAE, and I am too lazy to track down the author.)

The Mirror by CloudyJenn

Epic by ??? (Another SAE. Sorry.)

Blank Pages Part 8


Blank Pages: Thursday

 

 

 

 

 

For what felt like years Sam watched Loki’s comings and going among humanity, and Gabriel didn’t once look his way. Sam watched him quarrel and fight with the other gods and demi-gods as if he truly belonged there, undeterred when they muttered behind his back that he was the odd duck of the family. The words made Sam’s heart clench in sympathy. Gabriel was an outcast even when he was already the outsider in the situation.

 He was amazed to find a handful of the stories to be true, especially the ones he never expected. Sam reveled in Gabriel’s courage and determination when he courted Svaoilfari the great stallion as a stunning mare, refusing to change back once he found out he was caring Svaoilfari’s child, even when his pagan god siblings urged him to. Sam made note to mock him about it later but went back on the thought when he saw the foal, every inch of him absolutely beautiful, eight legs and all.

Sam knew it must have been over a hundred years that spanned the memories he hurtled through, and it was just after seeing Gabriel standing with his foal, human nose pressed to Sleipnir’s snout with a giggle of contentment the Hunter had never heard before from the angel, that he found himself standing in Heaven’s Garden again beside a very disgruntled looking Trickster.

 “I don’t see why you need my help,” Gabriel snarled, folding his arms over his chest. He was facing Michael, still in Adam’s form. Unlike his elder brother however Gabriel’s wings remained unseen, completely restrained even to Sam’s eyes where the human could normally find a faint trace of Grace against his back where they would be. Michael took little notice of this fact, simply raising an eyebrow at his sibling’s stubborn attitude.

 “I have allowed you to be away, Gabriel, and play the little games you have going on down on Earth with the other deities, but this is your duty before that.” Michael folded his arms, straitening as he did so, if only to manifest his superiority over his brother. “We must each do this at least once in our lifetimes, Gabriel, and your turn is long past due.”

 Gabriel bared his teeth, “And you know perfectly well why that is, Michael. It would be wrong for me to so much as touch a fledgling, considering who it was that raised me.”

 Michael stiffened noticeably, and Sam held his breath for the inevitable confirmation of what he had already seen. “Lucifer and I both looked after you, brother. And just because he had faults, does not make those same mistakes yours to bear.” With that Michael stepped back, reaching a hand inside the breast of his robes and drew out what looked to Sam like a chicken egg. A chicken egg the size of a college textbook that is. Its shell was a swirl of ivory and cloudy blue, and when Gabriel reached out to hesitantly touch its surface Sam noted the flare of Grace from his fingertips on contact. “Look, it already likes you,” Michael deadpanned. He deposited the egg into Gabriel’s arms while the younger blushed and proceeded to look decidedly flustered, “Okay, bye.” Sam blinked, for with that Michael turned on the spot and vanished, leaving the Hunter to mumble something to himself about apparation and Gabriel to stare blankly at the egg in his arms.

Then, for the first time in a hundred years worth of memories, the archangel looked straight at Sam, bustling over to him within a heartbeat of doing so. “Sammy! It’s bee awhile, huh?”

 The Hunter glowered, “Gee, really? Now you decide to notice and talk to me?” He gestured vaguely off to his side, “Gabriel, you haven’t said a word to me since that night in Pompeii!”

 Gabriel’s eyebrows furrowed together, “I haven’t?” Sam swallowed at the sudden lost look on the other’s face, remembering that the Trickster had no more control over the memories than Sam did, maybe even less as he was the one reliving them. “I . . .” The angel started, honey-gold eyes growing glazed, “Kiddo, all of this,” he waved a hand at the Garden, “and on Earth, with the pagan gods, they were the only times I was even mildly happy. It’s like a fog, and I can’t see past it to you sometimes, I’m sorry.”

 “Is that the same for bad memories too?” Sam asked, voice unsure. This wouldn’t be the first time Gabriel lied to him.

 “Less so, because at those times I need someone to look to to break myself out of the pain that I’ve already lived through. Pompeii was a shock though,” Gabriel shrugged loosely, the motion slow and calculated. Like a flawlessly carved mask.

Sam frowned but ignored it for the moment, instead taking a step towards the archangel and peering down at the large egg balanced in his arms, “Is that . . .?”

 The Trickster grinned and raised it a bit for Sam to get a closer look, “Oh, you’re gonna love this Sam-o. This right here has a fledgling inside it. A very special fledgling.” He laughed when Sam cast him a bemused look, “You’re gonna love it, I promise.” Sam decided he’d just have to take his word for it.

 Unfortunately, Gabriel massively zoned out around the egg after that, and ignored or forgot about Sam as he set about going through the motions of his memory, making a nest for the egg (made out of clothes and feathers and what looked like bed sheets to Sam), and then proceeding to be massively bored. At least they were on the same page.

 Sam watched as Gabriel stared at the egg, commanding it to hatch with his eyes alone. He watched as Gabriel read a book with the white and sky-blue orb on his stomach. And he watched, and intercepted, as Gabriel tried to juggle the egg and a couple of rocks, the incident nearly ending in disaster until Sam caught the thing before it smashed on the ground.

 “Gabriel!” Sam snapped, winded from where he lay on his back across the grass, the egg held gingerly just centimeters from the ground in the arm stretched out behind his head. It had been a particularly spectacular dive and catch if he said so himself, “Will you take this job seriously, like Michael said? You nearly just made scrambled-angel-baby!”

The archangel sat down beside the younger Winchester brother and proceeded to poke him in the stomach before taking the egg from his outstretched hand, “Yeah, I suppose you’re right. This is kinda how it went the first time around though, if the memory is correct. ‘Cept there was no one to catch it when I dropped it.” He sighed, and Sam gaped, shocked. “Probably why the kid is so weird,” Gabriel added after a pause, smiling as if he’d never thought of that as a cause before. Sighing again, he flopped down on the grass with the egg tucked against his side, Sam pushing himself up on his elbows just in time to take in Gabriel’s shift between noticing the human, and immersing himself in the memory.

 A glassy look crossed the Trickster’s face not a second too soon, and Sam flinched as another angel wandered into view, pushing through the trees and undergrowth with a stormy scowl on his face. His eyes fell on Gabriel lightly dozing with the egg laying innocently at his side, and a dark smirk crossed his features as he bent over them both. Sam scooted back across the ground, knowing the angel couldn’t see him but feeling the dread coil up in his stomach all the same. The angel had dirty blond hair, not too similar to Dean’s in style. His milky blue eyes crinkled around the edges, and Sam felt that their shade, just slightly different from Castiel’s, was somehow infinitely more tainted in that single gaze alone he cast the archangel and the egg. His wings flexed against his back, a mix of dark grays and sunrise crimsons that looked almost like blood, and after a moment Sam realized he’d seen him before. Gabriel cracked open an eye then, unsurprised by the other angel’s presence hovering over him.

“Can I help you, Balthazar?” he asked coolly, raising an eyebrow.

 Balthazar smiled toothily and shook his head, “Nothing in particular, brother, thank you. I merely came to get a look at the Last. I heard you were placed in charge of it.”

 “That I was,” Gabriel yawned, putting a hand on the egg as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do, but Sam caught the way his fingers clenched against the shell, and the sudden protective gleam in the Trickster’s eyes. “Michael was a fool too leave it in my care, really.”

 “A shame,” Balthazar agreed, and Gabriel stiffened, apparently not expecting others to agree with him. “The Last Angel should have someone who cares watching over it, really.”

 “I care,” Gabriel hissed. He sat up and laid his hand flat against the egg, his upper lip pulled back in a silent snarl of defiance.

 Balthazar simply looked amused at this show, “A pagan god has no place raising such an important angel,” he mused. He took a step back when Gabriel’s eyes glinted dangerously, “Though really, it is no concern of mine.”

 “Damn right.”

 “If I had it my way, I’d have dropped the egg off a cloud ages ago,” Balthazar coughed. He looked away, “After all, it’ll only cause more trouble than it’s worth in the end.”

 Gabriel growled, pulling the egg up onto his lap and curling his body around it defensively, to which Balthazar seemed to take a hint and shook his head, pacing back through the trees as though he’d never said anything at all. The archangel watched him go until he couldn’t even hear him anymore before pressing his forehead to the azure and white shell with a groan of relief, the pads of his fingers gliding over the surface.

 Slowly, Sam shuffled back to where he’d been before at the angel’s side and he smiled when Gabriel glanced up as he did so. “That Balthazar guy . . .” The Hunter started, allowing Gabriel his moment of protectiveness, “He was there the night Jesus was born, wasn’t he.”

 “Yeah,” Gabriel muttered against the egg, brow furrowing, “I’ve never liked him much. He’s got some sort of mindset that everything our Father planned is a waste of time.”

 “Isn’t it though?” Sam asked, thinking of the two years he and Dean had spent running around trying to clean up after one of those “plans.”

 “Not everything,” Gabriel snapped, chin on the egg, “And not this. This,” he ran his hand across the shell, “Is one of the few good things in my life. Right up there with Jesus, the first few hundred years of being Loki, and a couple of other things as well.”

 Sam frowned, “What other things?”

“You’ll see soon enough,” Gabriel muttered, “It’d be ridiculous to go through this whole ordeal and not come face to face with those kids again.” He sat up straighter suddenly, face lighting up, “It moved!” Sam didn’t have time to react as the Trickster grabbed his hand, placing it on the shell so that Sam could feel the shudder that passed through it, once, twice, before a long crack jolted down it’s frame and the archangel whooped in joy. “Sammy, you don’t get it, I know, but this is The Last, the last egg to hatch, the last true angel to be born. And long before this day he was prophesized to do great things.”

 The Hunter chuckled, shaking his head, “By who, exactly?”

 “Me of course,” Gabriel snorted, “I am the Messenger after all.” He placed his hands behind him and leaned back, watching as the egg rocked against his legs as the thing struggled to hatch. A piece of the shell broke off, and Gabriel fidgeted, apparently unable to wait anymore as he dug finger into the little hole created, peeling bigger and bigger fragments of the shell away until something wet and feathery tumbled out from the gap in the egg and onto the grass. For a dizzying second, Sam thought it was dead, until its wings, pure white and covered in soft down, flapped, expelling the slimy fluid from them in a single movement. Gabriel laughed and lifted the limp fledgling up who sniffled pathetically at the contact.

 Gently, carefully, the archangel picked away the little pieces of shell that clung to the fledgling’s body and wiped away the egg fluid with the edge of his robes. Sam watched in fascination as the Trickster dried off the fledgling’s head to reveal a little tuft of dark hair. When it yawned, pink gums showing, its eyes flickered open expose shockingly blue eyes. Sam inhaled, “Holy . . . Cass . . .”

Gabriel smiled, placing a chaste kiss to the top of the little angel’s head, “Welcome to the world, Castiel. Angel of Thursday.”

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

 After three plus years of being in the angel’s presence, it was only when he saw him grow from fledgling to young adult did Sam realize why Dean loved Castiel so much. He was the exact opposite of the elder Winchester in a thousand ways, and at the same time just like him in the places he needed to be.

Castiel spent his days as the shy baby angel that followed Gabriel around the Garden like a lost little duckling, tugging on the ends of the archangel’s robes and tripping along behind him. Where Gabriel’s wings had been inky black like the midnight sky, Castiel’s were unique in their ivory purity, beautiful in way even Michael’s were not. Sam had yet to see another living angel with white wings such as Castiel’s, the very picture of the angel wings every child and believer had ever imagined. Castiel seemed not to notice the difference between him and his siblings, and when Gabriel would flit between Heaven and Earth, angel and pagan respectively, the fledgling immersed himself in books detailing the thick history of the world he’d been born into. He memorized every detail so that he could recite it all back to the impressed archangel upon his return.

 He didn’t notice the whispers hushed behind his back from his brethren at every turn, or if he did he simply ignored them. The other angels spoke of the fledgling that was the Last, the one that was just a little bit different, a little too human.

 “Have you heard? Gabriel says this child will be the one to raise the Righteous Man.”

 “Castiel? But he is just a fledgling, he’ll be less than two thousand years old when that day arrives. Much too young.”

 “Too young and too easily influenced. Do you know, sister, that Gabriel has withheld the rest of that Message from us?”

 “Blasphemy!”

 “He claims it is so we do not interfere in what is right and what is meant to be. What do you think that means?”

 “That Castiel is destined for trouble just like Gabriel, and Lucifer, that’s what I think.”

 And Castiel just stared at them, the same way he stared at everyone else in his lifetime to come. Cold, calculating, powerful, with his back straight and his hands clenched at his sides.

He got in a fight with the second youngest, Famiel, about it though, and Gabriel spent over an hour pulling out broken feathers from Castiel’s wings while Cass sniffled and gritted his teeth and bore with it, though his blue eyes were tearing up around the edges.

 “Gabriel,” he said quietly while the archangel preened the younger’s feathers, “They say things about me, about a Righteous Man. I don’t understand.” Gabriel raised an eyebrow, amusement clear in his gaze as he eyed the adolescent angel.

“I wouldn’t worry about what they say too much, Castiel. They don’t know anything.”

 “But they say you do,” Castiel whispered, glancing over his shoulder at the other with large pleading eyes. Sam put a hand over his mouth in order not to laugh.

 “I do,” Gabriel chuckled as he smoothed out a mussed white primary, “But that hardly means I’ll tell you about it.” He smiled at Castiel’s put out expression and shook his head. “Castiel, knowing your future, and the future of those you care about, is a terrible burden to have. You are better off not knowing.”

 Castiel crossed his arms, head turning away from his brother once more, “Fine. I shall just hope I know this Righteous Man when I see him then.” At this Gabriel laughed so hard he was gasping for breath and he let go of Castiel’s right wing so that he could pound at his chest.

“Oh, Castiel, you will know him, I guarantee it. The minute your Grace sees his soul, no matter how torn you find it, you will know. And you will love him all the more for it.”

 “More than you?”

 The Trickster huffed, “I would hope so! I’m a terrible influence on little fledglings like you, and you’d do better to forget me.”

Castiel frowned, “I won’t. Will I love him more than Father?”

 Gabriel’s eyes clouded for a moment in pain, and he inhaled slowly, “Castiel, you can not truly love what you have never seen. You fear Father’s power, and you are loyal to him and love him because that is what you have been told is right. But it is nothing like real love. It is fake, and forced, and broken.” Sam stared at the ground, the words going straight to his heart as he watched. “True loyalty comes from trust. Which comes from a connection and a bond. And true love comes from such loyalty. You will know it when the time comes.”

 “Do you know it?” Castiel asked, almost too quiet to hear.

 “I have felt pieces of it, but not really. Not yet.”

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

 Gabriel was tracing the Enochian letters in a text Sam couldn’t even begin to decipher. His eyes were glazed, and Sam knew he was dreading the memories to come. Carefully, he laid a hand on the archangel’s shoulder, watching him shiver at his touch. “This is cruel,” the Trickster hissed between his teeth, “And it serves no purpose in the bond being created.”

 Sam looked over the other’s shoulder at the book, spine well worn and the page creased and folded around the edges where Gabriel had worried it, “I’m supposed to know the good and the bad in you, right? Maybe this is a part of that?”

“It’s not,” Gabriel slammed the book closed, “It’s not good nor bad on my part, it’s simply pain. Pain, and cruel destiny.” He spat out the last word, shoulders stiffening as he said it in a way that made Sam wonder if Destiny held the same connotations for Gabriel as the word Faith did to Castiel. A broken promise in a screwed up story.

 They looked up as the sound of rustling feathers diverted their attention, and found Castiel standing on the other end of the table, toeing at the floor nervously. “Michael says it’s time for you to go,” he murmured regretfully, glancing up at the archangel as though waiting for a cue of some sort.

 “Very well,” Gabriel sighed. He stood and made his way from the building to stand out in the afternoon sunlight. Balthazar was there, and Sam growled under his breath at the sight of him. Balthazar looked smug as Castiel blazed past. The little angel ran down the steps ahead of the Trickster so Gabriel wouldn’t see the anger and grief on his face at being left behind. Gabriel knew anyways.

 “One day his actions will change the world as we know it,” Gabriel said suddenly, eyes falling on Balthazar with a carefully guarded look.

 “As I’m sure yours will as well, Messenger,” Balthazar smirked. “Just as long as you don’t interfere with what is already written.”

 “And what would you know about that?” Gabriel asked coldly, folding his arms behind his back as he waited for an answer.

 “You are not the only one who knows of things to come,” Balthazar murmured vaguely. He watched Gabriel freeze in surprise, “Oh, not me, of course. But there are prophets, and texts written by prophets. They exist not just in the faith of our people, Gabriel, but in the world as a whole. I know just as much as you about what is to become of the child whose birth you will fly down and oversee this night.”

 “Two children,” Gabriel corrected evenly.

 “And two Once And Futures,” Balthazar hummed, “What will you do, Gabriel?”

 


Blank Pages Part 9


Blank Pages: The Once And Future

 

 

 

 

 

Sam had seen a lot inside of Gabriel’s memories, things he’d never thought he’d one day bear witness to in a thousand years. But all of them had had some sort of reference, whether it was biblical, a background Sam couldn’t deny since the moment Castiel had walked in on his and Dean’s life, and sometimes it was historical, with as much evidence of it’s existence as Gabriel had feathers. But this, this was new.

 It was new, and stunning, and breathtaking, and completely illogical because Sam knew it should have been legend alone, whispered words for all of eternity in so many variations that historians couldn’t even count it as history at all. It was myth. And it was real.

 “They couldn’t conceive a child on their own,” Gabriel whispered to him, voice almost inaudible as though he dared not break the deathly silence that had filled the castle room as Queen Ygraine’s screams died away and the world held it’s breath, “So they made a deal with a witch.” The Hunter shivered at the words that sounded all too familiar, a life for a life.

 “They didn’t know,” Gabriel murmured, the words lost as the child wailed it’s first breaths of life. “They never even comprehended what you know now. There is no life without a price behind it.

 The king, in the midst of shouting, “A son! A son!” in utter joy turned to look at his wife, cold and still on the bed, and he froze. Gabriel frowned as the man howled in rage, handing his newborn to one of the midwives to launch himself at a woman standing on the outskirts of the room, shrieking, “Treachery! Sorceress! Treachery!” at the top of his lungs, but the woman simply vanished before his hands could grab at her dress.

 “He didn’t hold his own son again for over a year,” Gabriel hissed, not sparing the king a glance as he strode across the room, picking up the crying infant that had been laid at his deceased mother’s side while the midwives scuttled about the chambers, trying to calm their king and running to get the guards. “Uther purged the kingdom of magic before he so much as named the boy,” the archangel said through gritted teeth. He swaddled the sobbing baby in a soft cloth that had been set out on a chair, cradling him close to his chest. “Whatever stories you have been told of this child, Sam, they are wrong. The tale of Arthur Pendragon and Merlin Emrys is not gallant, or bold, or happy in any way.”

 With that he set the baby down where he had taken it from, leaving it to be ignored amongst the grief for the queen that quickly enveloped the castle, “Come, let’s step forward a few months and save some time.”

 

Sam didn’t know what he expected of Merlin’s birth. Really he was still reeling from Gabriel telling him, blatantly, that this memory was of a legend Sam had had little time for in his childhood, nor in his career as a Hunter. Thus, his first words when he found himself sitting next to Gabriel outside a dingy hut in a even dingier village with another infant in the archangel’s arms was, “Merlin is younger than Arthur?”

 Gabriel gave him a patient look, placing the squirming baby on his knees. It’s mother was asleep inside the house, near a small fire the Trickster had whipped up, and the child was quiet and well behaved for one just a few hours old, gurgling up at them in the silence of the cool night so much different from the eerie silence of Arthur’s birth. “Yes,” Gabriel confirmed, “By almost a year. Any more stupid questions?”

 “Why is this,” Sam gestured to the infant, and then to the land around them. Gabriel had called it Albion. “Why is any of this important to the angels?”
 
The Trickster snorted, “Just one of the many great destinies we're supposed to control,” he heaved out a sigh, grinning suddenly when Merlin grabbed at his fingers. “This wasn’t the first job like this I’d had, or the last. The Messenger carries the messages, makes sure prophecies get fulfilled, yada-yada-yada.”

 “What others were there, before this?” Sam asked, curious.

 “Oedipus,” Gabriel made a retching sound and Sam gaped, stunned. “That one I let some lower angel handle though. Guy wasn’t of our faith, but it was written and god forbid someone didn’t make sure it happened that way. Though the Greek gods did a fine job of that themselves.” He shrugged and turned to smile at the horrified look on the Hunter’s face, “Don’t look so shocked, Sammy! You’ve experienced the rigid rules of prophecy before for yourself, remember?” The angel waggled a finger at him, “And broken them. That takes guts.”

 Sam rolled his eyes, not appreciating being reminded of that incident, “Gee, thanks. But you encouraged Oedipus?” he asked incredulously, getting back on topic.

 “No,” Gabriel made an offended gasp, hand to his heart, “But if it’s writ, then so it shall be. Not my rule. Anywho . . .” He drew off, lifting the infant on his lap up to eye level and cooing softly at him unintelligible things Sam couldn’t hear, and had no right to.

 The world curled in on itself, and Sam looked away.

 
When he turned back they were standing on the edge of a vast wheat field and Sam watched as the wind swept over the golden plain, rippling it like waves on the ocean. Gabriel was off to the right a bit, closer to the tall blades of wheat that went high over his head, and a young man stood in front of him, hands on his hips as he talked to the archangel, blue eyes blazing beneath dark bangs. “An angel?” He asked, his exasperated tone suggesting he’d repeated it a thousand times over and still didn’t believe it.

 “Yes,” Gabriel confirmed, crossing his arms. “Would you like it better if I was something else?”

 “No,” the young man replied hotly, “I just need to know what you are so I can look up a viable way to kill you next time I see you.”

 Gabriel pretended to look appalled, though really Sam knew he wasn’t surprised by the outburst in the slightest, “But all I’ve done is warn you about your destiny!” he gasped.

 “And I don’t need it. I already have a bloody dragon breathing down my neck about it all day and night. ‘Do this, Merlin,’ and ‘Protect Arthur, Merlin,’ because god forbid the royal prat should die and not become a great king or whatever it is he’s supposed to do. I don’t need an angel screaming the same things in my ear. I get it.”

At this, Gabriel laughed, tilting his head back towards the sky, “I’m sure the dragon is doing a magnificent job of that, really. I just came to warn you, as I said.”

 “Warn me,” Merlin repeated. He looked decidedly unamused at the idea.

 “Warn you,” Gabriel said, making a round of it, “To listen to aforementioned dragon if you know what’s good for you.”

 Merlin’s lip curled, “That dragon is only saying those things for his own benefits, not mine and certainly not Arthur’s.”

 “All the same, he’s not wrong in saying them,” Gabriel said lowly. A darker tone crept into his voice as he spoke Sam had only heard a few times before. “You’ve already screwed up, Merlin. It is against the rules to defy your destiny.”

 Merlin raised an eyebrow, “I’ve done everything the dragon asked of me, and then some.”

 “But you let Mordred escape.”

 Sam shuddered, realization dawning on him like a fast spreading poison. This was why Gabriel had been so dead set on destiny when they met in TV Land. He’d seen what happened to those who meddled with it, and Sam already knew how this tale ended before it had hardly begun. He couldn’t help but wonder what the real prophecy had been then, if Mordred was never meant to live.

 “He’s only a child,” Merlin snapped, “And it was not my decision alone to make.”

 Gabriel let out a long suffering sigh, “Then don’t let me stop you, I’m quite curious to see what would happen to one who defies. It’s not been done before you see.”

 Sam’s heart sank to his stomach and he swayed on his feet, suddenly feeling sick. Gabriel had encouraged it, this rebellion of fate. As he thought this the archangel was suddenly at his side again, leaving Merlin to glare at the spot he had been, letting out a disgusted huff. “This is why you wanted me to say yes,” Sam said, frowning, “You were scared of what would happen to me if I didn’t.”

 “And if you did,” Gabriel added in a soft murmur, staring at the ground. “I made two mistakes in my lifetime of watching over the souls of the world as they carried out what we had written down on our father’s word. The first was Merlin. The second . . .” He paused, letting the name go unspoken, leaving it up to Sam’s imagination until that particular memory came into play. “With Merlin I let him run amok, curiosity getting the better of me. What would happen if he tried to change things? Would they stay the same or would they end in a happiness that hadn’t been foretold? Or great anguish.” The Trickster glanced at the Hunter, eyes glazed, “You know how the story ends, Sam.”

 “Yeah.”

 Looking away again, he went on, “With the other, I made sure she did her part to the book, not a hair out of place. That was a mistake as well, maybe even a worse one. Merlin knew what he was doing, was aware of what he caused every step of the way. Joan . . .” He stopped, stiffening as the name escaped his lips, “Never mind, you’ll see soon enough.”

 Sam blinked as the archangel grabbed his hand, pulling him close and tapping his forehead with his first two fingers of his other hand, and the human’s vision whited out for a moment, coming back into focus a heartbeat later.

 For a second Sam thought Gabriel had merely zapped them to Merlin’s side as the nineteen year old pushed into the wheat, the call of, “Merlin! Come on! The farmer said a goblin was in these crops of his and we’re supposed to be back by nightfall!” ringing through the air. But Merlin didn’t even look up as the appeared beside him, or behind him or wherever they were. No, Sam thought, they were neither. It was like they were the air, hovering all around the young sorcerer as he trudged through the wheat, smacking himself in the face with a particularly stubborn stalk when he tried to push it aside. Sam felt disconnected, from his body, from the world, and he wondered briefly if this was how angels saw things when they watched over their charges from heaven.

 Merlin grumbled as he tripped over a blade of wheat, nearly falling flat on his face into the area of flattened crop at the center of the field. While Sam thought crop circle, Merlin muttered something about mischievous goblins, staying where he was on the smashed crop as a blond emerged from the only a few feet away amidst the wheat. The other, garbed in light fitting chain mail over a red and gold tunic, laughed as he caught sight of Merlin sitting on the ground, holding out a hand, “Whatever are you doing, Merlin? If I needed goblin bait I wouldn’t use someone as gamey as you.”

 The dark haired teen made a face at him, but took the offered hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet, “Glad to know you think I’m gamey,” he said shortly, “And you do know the goblin has most likely moved on ages ago, don’t you? They never stay in one area for more than a week.”

 The blond rolled his eyes, “Yes, but my father, as you know, insisted we do something about it. I’m leaning towards make up a story about how we chased it off, but it was simply much to fast to catch on foot and that we’ll definitely bring horses next time.”

 “And the evidence of that will be . . .” Merlin prompted, his eyes narrowing at this new level of idiocy. “The farmer will know if we were just lazing about out here.”

 “Which is why we will chase the goblin.”

 “Arthur,” Merlin sighed, “there is no-” he stopped as he noticed the way the blonde’s hand was inching towards the hilt of his sword, a wry grin on his face, “Oh no. I am not-” the younger yelled as Arthur took a step towards him, making a mad dash for the wheat, the prince hot on his heals. “This is not the way to make it look like we’re chasing a goblin through the field!” he shrieked over his shoulder, running faster so that Arthur would have no time to draw his sword if he wanted to have any hope of catching up in the near future.

 “It’ll make enough noise and squash enough wheat!” Arthur called, laughing like a maniac. “Now come back here you troll!”

 “Goblin!” Merlin corrected over his shoulder with a whoop. He stumbled then, breath escaping him as he toppled over into the wheat, Arthur reaching out to catch his arm too late. They went barreling down a slight incline in the field and landed in a heap just inside a second goblin circle. Merlin’s mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water as he gasped for air, shoving at the prince who had fallen on top of him, “Get off you ruddy lump! You weigh more than a horse!”

 “I do not!” Arthur said indignantly as he pushed himself up on his elbows but remained where he was. “What do you think,” he asked then, digging his knuckles into Merlin’s scalp as he spoke, “Are we sweaty and filthy enough to pass for two blokes who chased goblins for a bit?”

 Merlin grimaced and wiggled until he managed to get his knees under Arthur and shoving him off in one smooth motion, before leaping to his feet. “Hardly. And besides, if I had a proper start I could beat you any day with all that god awful mail you wear.” And with that, he’d dived back into the wheat, leaving Arthur to stare dumbly after him before he laughed and got to his feet in pursuit.

 Sam watched, existing as air for a moment longer for a heartbeat. Gabriel pulled him back into himself and the archangel watched him carefully for a reaction of some kind. “They. . .” The Hunter started faltering for the right words, “What did the dragon say about them, exactly?”

 The pair’s laughter and shouts as they chased each other through the field could still be heard on the wind when Gabriel spoke, “That they are two sides of a single whole. Merlin knows this, Arthur does not.”

 “And that makes a difference?” Sam asked, “Whether one knows and the other is left in the dark?”

 “It doesn’t help,” Gabriel said darkly. “You know what happens next, Arthur marries Guinevere. And after that . . .”

 “Guinevere goes to Lancelot,” Sam finished. “But that’s in only a few of the tales, they’re all mixed up and . . .” He swallowed, a soft, “oh” escaping him. “Merlin . . .”

 “Was Arthur’s true soul mate,” Gabriel said sharply, staring out over the field. “No matter which legend, this remains this same. They die together, and will be reborn together. Not Guinevere and Arthur, and not Freya and Merlin. Arthur and Merlin.” He growled, shaking his head, “Come on, time to go to the next memory.”

 Sam blinked, “You can control it now?”

 “No, I just know there’s nothing else to see here.”

 

The colors of the world blended together, and Sam let himself be taken over by the merging and shifting of the archangel’s memories once again.

 Merlin had a basket tucked under one arm as he pulled up roots and shoots of small budding plants and tossed them into it. He muttered to himself and hardly looked up as they appeared just a few feet away. Though he frowned as an acknowledgement of the archangel’s presence his eyes remained on his work as he ground out, “What now, angel?”

 Apparently this wasn’t the first time Gabriel had made a visit to the young sorcerer since the wheat field, and Merlin spoke with the same tone Dean used when strange angels he didn’t particularly like (AKA, anyone but Castiel) popped into existence. “Nothing,” Gabriel said evenly, watching him with curious golden eyes, “Just came to talk, kid, is there something wrong with that?”

 Glancing warily at him, Merlin ground out a, “Yes,” and went back to his work. He was a bit older than when Sam had last seen him, in what had seemed like only seconds before, but that wasn’t unusual with the way the spell skipped about Gabriel’s memories, he appeared to be about twenty-eight or so now. His hair was a little longer, tied back in short ponytail, and the crinkles around his eyes a little deeper, a little more weary. Gabriel merely watched for awhile, not saying anything, until Merlin looked up at him again, eyes narrowed. “What’s the point of telling you anyways? As if you don’t already know.”

 “Arthur doesn’t know,” Gabriel reminded, and Sam was left to stare, utterly confused.

 “What more does Arthur need to know!?” Merlin snapped, “I’ve already told him about my magic, about all the times I saved his idiot ass, about his great and magical destiny . . .” He sighed, “The King has enough on his shoulders without me dumping this on him as well. What would he say if I told him that Gwen and Lancelot have been traipsing around behind his back since we went across the channel last year?”

 Sam inhaled, keeping his distance as Gabriel shook his head and Merlin glanced away, brow furrowing. “I can’t . . .” He started, “I can’t tell if this was all my fault or not. Sometimes I wonder if things would be different if I hadn’t tried to poison Morgana, or if I had killed Mordred. Maybe things would have changed if I had refused to go along with Arthur’s ruse in the jousting tournament all those years ago. He would not have loved her then, would he.” His voice broke for a moment before he inhaled sharply, almost as though banishing away the thought and the pain that came with it.

 “No,” Gabriel murmured in return. “But it’s far too late to change those things. Arthur is still fulfilling his destiny as he should, even if there are flaws.”

 Merlin snarled, shoving a handful of flowers into his basket of herbs, “What’s the point if he can’t even smile anymore!? He has no time to himself, no time to relax! What’s the point of destiny if it doesn’t make the bearer of it happy?”

 “Prophecies are not meant to do that,” Gabriel explained coldly. “They are meant to better the world. Not the bearer. The bearer goes through more hardships than most can imagine in order to fulfill such destiny.” He turned his gaze away, “They bear the cross of the world, if you will.”

 “And I am supposed to just stand by and watch it all go down?” Merlin hissed, anger in his eyes, “what is the purpose of that?”

 “I’m sure we’ll all know, in time.” But Gabriel looked uncertain as he said it, and Merlin narrowed his eyes in icy disbelief.

 
Sam recognized the ruins of Camlann when they alighted in the next memory, he saw them once in a documentary. Gabriel was beside him, head bowed as they gazed down the slope at the place, far from being ruins now. The bricks and mortar were stained with the blood of both sides, the gold and red of Pendragon clear against the dark washes of blacks and grays of Mordred’s faithful. “Lancelot and Guinevere eloped, and Arthur left Mordred in charge when he went after them, though Merlin warned him not to. Irony at it’s best, eh?” Gabriel said this lightly but when Sam looked at him he saw the tautness of his jaw, the way his eyes narrowed as if he was stealing himself up for something, holding back the pain. “I’ve been trying to skip over some of the worse parts of this series of memories,” the archangel went on, feeling Sam’s eyes on him, “But I couldn’t get rid of the ending.”

 Arthur was below, the last man standing so that Sam’s gaze found him easily as the blond tugged his helmet off, throwing it aside as he dug the blade of his sword into Mordred’s heart. But it was far too late, as the Hunter noticed the gaping wound that pierced right through the front of the king’s chain mail, and all the way to his back. It dripped crimson across the already stained ground as Arthur sunk to his knees, supported only by his sword.

 An anguished cry echoed across the plain, and Sam looked up the slope to see Merlin just a ways higher up, held back by a woman with long dark hair and fiery golden eyes alight with magic. Merlin wrenched his arm away from her then, tearing down the hill towards his fallen king so fast Sam barely caught a glimpse of him. It couldn’t have been more than five years since the last piece of memory, and as Merlin collapsed beside Arthur, pleading with him to lie down so he could stop the bleeding, the Hunter realized that they were far too young. The legend spoke of great deeds done over countless years, not all squashed into a handful. Merlin had been right, Arthur had born far too much on his shoulders for such a young king.

 Merlin pressed his hands over the gaping hole in Arthur’s stomach as Gabriel led Sam down the slope, looking on regretfully but not lifting a finger to aide the sorcerer. Sam couldn’t help but wonder if he had done the same the first time around. “Arthur! Arthur, look at me! You have to stay conscious here or I can’t do anything to help you! Arthur!”

 But Arthur’s eyelids were already flickering closed, fighting feebly to stay open as if he didn’t really care anymore whether he lived or died. “Arthur! This is not your destiny!” Merlin pleaded, abandoning his useless attempts at quenching the flow of blood, “This is not our destiny! Please! Forget Gwen and Lancelot, they’re not a part of it! You are, I am, not them!”

 “It’s too late,” Gabriel murmured, almost too soft to be heard, but Merlin’s head whipped around to him anyways.

 “You!” Merlin gasped, somewhere between rage and relief, “You can heal him!”

 “I can not fix what has already been done,” the angel snapped, “I allowed you to steer off the course of your fate, and this end has been brought about because of it. There is no alternative.”

 “There is if you do something!”

 Gabriel’s lip drew back, teeth baring in a way that was almost feral. Sam flinched, and Merlin looked on unblinking, “Don’t you understand! I already ‘did something’ by allowing you to ‘do something.’ I’m done trying to change what’s already written, you little fool. It only causes more pain!” Again, the words rang in Sam’s ears, echoing of things that had yet to be said.

 “Suck it up, accept your responsibilities, and play the roles that destiny has chosen for you!”

 

 Merlin looked away, placing his hands on either side of Arthur’s face as the king’s chest stuttered with broken, fading breaths. He touched his forehead to the blonde’s, ignoring the streaks of blood that spread under his fingertips, his back to the archangel, “Then I’ll do something,” he whispered, more to himself than the Trickster.

 “Arthur, please, I know you probably can’t hear me but . . . Do you remember when I said that you should get another servant in the next life? It was ages ago, but anyways, I didn’t mean it. They say you’re the Once and Future king, Arthur. And no matter how long it takes, no matter how many lives I have to live to do it, I will find you again.” His hands shook and his voice rose, wavering with grief, “Do you hear me, Arthur?! I will find you again!” Merlin’s back arched then, and he inhaled sharply, making a pained noise in the back of his throat.

 “Then so it shall be,” Gabriel said softly, placing a hand against the mans’ spine, “You shall die with him, and live with him again. That is all I can do for you. Do you accept?”

“Yes,” Merlin breathed, squeezing his eyes shut, “Because this was not our destiny.” He sobbed, body convulsing with a spasm of pain, and Sam could practically hear his heart shudder as it fought to beat with the archangel slowly sapping the life from it. Merlin lowered his head and pressed his face to Arthur’s shoulder, whispering “I will find you,” Over and over, until Sam had to look away and wipe the streaks of tears from his eyes, not even realizing he had shed them.

 

Because Gabriel hadn’t. He’d stood by and watched and allowed two destinies to get screwed up so badly people had died because of it. His reasoning was flawed, but his intentions had been good, both then with Arthur and Merlin, and with Sam and Dean centuries later. Play your part or people get hurt.

Blank Pages Part 10


Blank Pages: Of The Heart

 

 

 

Sam didn’t protest when Gabriel tugged him down at the ruins of Camlann, placing the Hunter’s head in his lap and threading his fingers through his hair, murmuring soothing things near his ear in a language Sam didn’t know. Norse, he guessed, with the way the words rumbled in the back of the archangel’s throat when he spoke. He felt guilty when he came back to himself enough to realize that Gabriel had been comforting him, when it really should have been the other way around. These were Gabriel’s memories after all, littered with pain and mistakes as they were, not Sam’s.

 But the anguish of Merlin and Arthur as they died, and of Gabriel as he realized all the wrong he had put them through in letting them alter destiny was something he felt as raw and fresh as though he had lived it.

 In a way, he had.

 “Gabriel,” Sam said quietly, “I don’t . . .” He swallowed, “I don’t really get the whole ‘Destiny’ thing. What’s the point of it?”

 Gabriel laughed, the sound echoing through his body and into Sam’s head from where he had his ear against the archangel’s thigh, “I wish I knew, kiddo, I really wish I knew.” He sighed, fingers clenching in the hair along the nape of Sam’s neck, “There wasn’t always a written fate for everyone, you know.”

 “Oh?”

“It happened after Lucifer fell, actually. Michael was furious, with the garrisons, with Lucifer, with our Father, everyone. He blamed God, Sammy. He said that God, who was supposed to know all and see all, should have either killed Lucifer long ago to avoid the bloodshed, or warned Michael so that he could have ended it himself.” Gabriel shifted and leaned down so that his breath tickled against Sam’s ear, “So he demanded that all fates, great or small, be written out and spoken by the prophets to come. Thus, the angels could know and act on the destinies foreseen whether it be to stop them, or to help them along.”

Sam closed his eyes, sucking in a breath, “No wonder they were so gung-ho about getting us to sign up to be angel puppets then.”

 “Yeah,” The Trickster muttered, “But that part is yet to come in this little timeline. Come on Sammy, get up, we gotta keep moving.”

 The Hunter glanced up, rolling over onto his back to stare at the other’s sugar-golden eyes, “Huh? But you don’t-”

 “Have control?” Gabriel finished, amusement flickering in his gaze, “See, bucko, there’s this thing about the blood bond. The closer you get to completing it, the more power I regain a hold on. I can now pause,” he snapped and the world shifted, the Camlann dissolving into an open field of small flowers, “And restart this hell-hole.”

 Sam pushed himself up onto his knees, pushing the hair out of his eyes as he gazed around him. The air was lighter than where they’d just been, lacking the salty tang of blood with every breath, and the sky was an aqua blue, not a single cloud obscuring it. “Whoa . . .”

“Impressive, huh?” Gabriel grinned, looking more than a little proud of himself. He stood then and brushed off his pants, which Sam just now realized looked absolutely ridiculous. The archangel was dressed in what would be considered nobility clothes for the age, puffy shoulder pads, bright colors, and funny tights. Sam put a hand over his mouth to hold back a burst of laughter.

 Gabriel cast him a glare over his shoulder, “Look, just cause you get to skip the costumes of my memories doesn’t mean you have to be rude.”

 Sam clutched at his sides, folding in on himself as he laughed, unable to contain it any longer, “Dude, I can laugh all I want!” he wheezed, “You’ve put me through worse in TV Land, and you gave me herpes!”

 The archangel frowned before turning on his heels and walking out into the field a little ways. He paused to make sure Sam was watching to witness his fake indifference even as the Hunter began to literally roll around laughing. He didn’t know anyone even did that in real life until then.

 But Sam regained composure when he noticed the little girl Gabriel was walking towards. She looked up as the angel approached, eyes widening and lighting up like the sun. Her hair was the same shade as Dean’s, a dark dirty blond that was almost brown, but not quite, and it glinted gold in the glow of the afternoon sky, her blue eyes fixing on the Trickster as he came to stand over her. Sam would have thought a child her age should have been alarmed, terrified to be crouched at the feet of a stranger, but she merely smiled up at him, returning to picking little wildflowers from the grass.

 “You’re not scared of me?” Gabriel asked when he kneeled down beside her.

The girl shook her head, beginning to chain the flowers together one by one with more patience than Sam could have ever devoted to such a thing. “No, maman says not to be scared of anges,” she said simply, looking up at him out of the corner of her eyes.

 Gabriel smiled, though the way he froze ever so slightly at her words showed Sam how surprised he really was. “Ah, I see,” he said lightly, fingering the end of her flower chain as she worked on it, “Do you know who I am?”

 “The Messenger,” she replied instantly, still focused on her flower chain. Then, frowning, she asked, “Do you know who I am, ange?”

 The archangel laughed, “You are a very special little girl, that’s who you are, Joan.”

 Sam’s breath caught a little in his throat. It wasn’t a shocking revelation, by any means, especially when Gabriel had uttered her name at Camlann. But all the same, the streak of Gabriel’s luck in charges was astounding. Bad luck anyways. “Gabe . . .” He started as he stood and made his way to where the archangel was kneeled on the ground beside the small girl, putting a hand on the other’s shoulder.

 “She’s beautiful, isn’t she,” Gabriel whispered, voice wavering slightly. Joan had gotten up and plopped herself down in the angel’s lap, still chaining her flowers together one by one. “I didn’t know, Sammy . . .”

“That she would die?”

 Gabriel stiffened, shoulders hunching under Sam’s hand. The Hunter sat down beside him and dug his fingers into the knots there in an attempt to knead them loose. “No, I was . . . Michael had forbade Metatron from conveying the whole prophecy to me because he sensed my wavering loyalties.” He leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on the top of Joan’s head, lingering for a heartbeat and simply breathing, “Where I only spent a little bit of time with Merlin and Jesus, I practically raised Joan. She was . . . Sammy,” he faltered, “Sammy, she was my whole world. She was mine.”

 Sam swallowed, closing his eyes as the world folded in around them, curving into the shapes of a new set of memories all over again.

 

“Please, sire, I know what I ask is-”

 “Outrageous?”

Joan gritted her teeth but relaxed slightly when Gabriel placed a soothing hand on her shoulder, “Yes. But I swear on the Holy Ghost that what I say is true. If we fail to act now, France will fall.”

 Dauphin Charles narrowed his eyes at her, reclining back in his seat. From where Sam stood, just a little to Gabriel’s right, unnoticed in the midst of recollection, he could see the stiffness in the to-be king’s posture, though he was clearly trying to appear at ease with the sixteen year old girl’s pleas. His expression (Sam could tell from experience) was of one trying to mask the utter hopelessness of the situation at hand, the face of someone trying to overlook the fact that everything they believed in was falling apart around them. It had already been a hundred years of bloodshed. “And you say that an angel told you this,” he mused, resting his chin in his hand.

 “Yes,” Joan said shortly, impatience in her eyes. Gabriel tightened his grip on her shoulder, warning her without words to keep her temper in check. “He urges us into the war, Sire, to end it once and for all. We must be done with caution and reason, and instead turn to battle and strategy. Our opponents are not kind nor are they merciful, and if we continue to pussyfoot around them, we will be slaughtered in our sleep.”

 An advisor to Charles’s right coughed into a hand and looked away, while to his left the second frowned with genuine curiosity in his gaze. Charles eyed her for a long moment, “Why should I have any reason to believe your words, girl? You are a peasant, outside of the strife of our nation. For all I know you could be a liar, it would not surprise me in the least.”

Joan narrowed her eyes, placing a hand on top of Gabriel’s, still resting on her shoulder, unseen to anyone but her. “I tell no lies,” she hissed.

 Sam watched, awed, as Gabriel’s wings snapped open from the tattoos on his back, ripping through his clothes. The force of the motion sent the candles balanced on the table flying, snuffing out the flames of the ones on the edges of the room so that only the single candle near the door behind them remained, illuminating the shadows of the archangel’s body and wings as they spread across the wall. Charles inhaled sharply, scrambling back and nearly falling out of his chair until his advisors caught him under the arms, frozen to the spot. Gabriel tilted his head back and withdrew his wings as the candles relit themselves with a snap of his fingers, the room as it had been before save for the stunned Charles and his men.

 “I tell no lies,” Joan repeated coldly. “I know how the next battle will end, my lord, and if my prediction is correct, I request to be placed at the head of the army. I will lead us to victory, I can promise you that.”

 Charles nodded mutely, waving her out of the room with his hand, unable to speak. She stood, followed closely by the archangel as she went out the door and shielded her eyes from the light of the setting sun that hit the doorway just right. “I’m not sure that went well,” she muttered, glancing at Gabriel out of the corners of her eyes.

The Trickster shrugged, “I’ve seen worse.” He smiled when she scowled at him, her hands on her hips. A young lady she was certainly not, Sam thought, for the period she lived in. She acted and spoke as a boy would, stubborn and defiant in every motion and word. Uncannily, she reminded him of Joanna. “You will be a great leader, Joan,” Gabriel murmured then and he grinned at the way her posture loosened, face betraying that she had not expected a compliment just then.

 “Thank you,” she said softly, uncertainly, “For your faith in me.”

 

 

Joan stabbed a finger down on the fresh ink of the newly drawn map, directly onto a blot at the edge of a sketched out bridge, “If we retake all the bridges, we can gain the advantage,” she explained, casting a wary glance at her co-commander.

 John of Alencon stared down at her, raising an eyebrow, “Your rebelliousness has lead us to fluke victories thus far, my lady,” he drawled, ignoring her noise of outrage, “But this is a foolish plan to say the very least.”

 She straightened and winced as she tried to turn her head round to glare at him. She placed hand to the bandages wound tightly around her neck, covering the wound she’d received in the last battle. “You dare-”

 “I dare,” John said evenly.

 “He is afraid you will take total control,” Gabriel said suddenly, moving from where he’d been at the edge of the tent to stand at her side, whispering in her ear, “Reassure him that you wish only the wellbeing of your nation, and require no rewards of any kind.”

 Joan hissed between her teeth, but relayed what the archangel had said, watching carefully as John visibly relaxed. “They won’t expect it, sir, since the Rheims is so far away compared to Paris. They will think us rash, after all our defeats, and predict us to go for our capital, not the river and the bridges.”

 John rocked back on his heels, studying the map, “But the Rheims has been enemy territory for years now.”

 “Which is exactly why they won’t expect it!” Joan exclaimed, slamming her finger down on the map again, “They’ll have their guard down from possessing the area for so long! Like it’s theirs!” She smirked at his startled look, “You know I’m right, Duke, we should head out at dawn, don’t you think?” With that she turned and strode out of the tent with the air of a leader all around her, the soldiers outside nervously jumping to attention as she passed.

 Gabriel walked at her side, shaking his head and chuckling to himself, “You do know how to make a point, I must say.”

 Joan laughed before defiantly snapping her fingers in his face, “I did learn from the best.”

 “Obviously,” the archangel huffed, hanging back as she entered her own tent. He waited as Sam caught up and stood beside him.

 “Every bit the stubborn idiot you are,” Sam commented lightly.

 “Hey now . . .”

Sam shrugged, “In case you haven’t noticed, Gabe, I hang around with nothing but stubborn idiots.”

“I’ll make sure to tell Dean you said that,” Gabriel smirked.

 

When the world tilted again, Sam knew instantly that something was wrong. The French countryside was gone, replaced with the now familiar landscape of the Garden, where Gabriel stood nose to nose with Michael, teeth bared and face red with fury.

 “The prophecies said nothing about her capture!” he snarled, looking smug as Michael flinched back, eyes narrowed at his younger sibling.

 “What I relayed to you said nothing about her capture,” Michael corrected coldly. “Did you really think I would tell you her fate after what you pulled with Arthur and Merlin? You’ve already interfered in fate once, Gabriel, I will not stand for it a second time.”

 Gabriel choked, wings snapping out and his entire body quivering with rage, “Then she is to die?!”

 “There’s nothing you would be able to do at this point to change that,” The elder hissed.

 “I will not let her perish!” Gabriel yelled, “She has done nothing to deserve such a thing!”

 Michael frowned, “She is human. She was born.”

 The Trickster started, taking a few rapid steps back, “Do you know who you sound like?” he whispered, voice quavering around the words.

 “Well maybe he was right,” Michael growled.


Sam stumbled as the memories shifted again, getting a feeling of vertigo from the swiftness of the switch. As he righted himself he found that they were standing in a circular stone room with a single glassless window, upon which Joan was leaning. Even imprisoned she still maintained her almost regal air, appearing unfazed by her dire situation. She didn’t even look up when Gabriel appeared behind her.

 “Get me out of here,” she commanded smoothly, gripping the sill so tightly her knuckles turned white.

 “Gladly,” Gabriel smiled. His wings, already out after his encounter with Michael, flexed as he grabbed her around the waist and dove headlong out of the window towards the ground below. Sam wasn’t entirely sure if he could die inside a memory, so when he ran to the window to see them land, he didn’t dare follow. He knew that eventually the memory world would change again no matter where he was. Below, Gabriel landed soundlessly, a precaution taken in vain the second Joan touched her feet to the ground. A guard came careening around the corner, screaming about an escape.

 “She jumped from the tower and survived!” the guard screeched, “She’s a witch! A witch!”

Gabriel roared, releasing Joan to charge at the man only to be stopped in place, as though literally frozen. Angelically even. Apparently, the Trickster thought so too, as the next words out of his mouth were, “Michael! Michael you coward, face me in person!”

 Joan didn’t make a sound as the guard seized her and forced her to the ground as he yelled into the night for help.

 “Michael!” Gabriel howled, unable to interfere.

 The memories flashed past faster, and Sam knew it was because Gabriel didn’t want to go through them again, didn’t want to remember. He saw more escape attempts, various bits and pieces of a long and painful trial. In one memory Gabriel was screaming and pushing a man away from Joan, now garbed in women’s clothing, nearly ripping the man to shreds for a crime Sam didn’t dare dwell on though he could guess from Joan’s torn garb. He saw Joan standing resolute to her cause as she said, “If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me,” nodding once and sitting back down, eyes narrowed in total defiance.

 A cry of “Heresy!” and the building of a pyre were the last images to flicker past.

 Gabriel stood amidst the crowd as Joan was tied to the pyre, and time slowed down again. Sam wanted to shake him, to disperse the look of utter hopelessness that had settled on the archangel’s frame, but Gabriel barely cast him a glance. “I don’t want to see this,” he whispered, so softly in the throngs of the gathered English Sam barely heard him.

 Sam swallowed, pulling the archangel to him and pressing Gabriel’s face into the space between his neck and shoulder as the executioners lit the pyre, the flames licking up around Joan’s ankles. Her eyes scanned the crowd, looking for something, looking for the angel, but Gabriel clung to Sam, not daring to return her gaze only to stand by and do nothing. “I couldn’t do anything then, and I can’t in a mere memory,” he whispered, “I don’t want to see her die. Not again.”

She didn’t make a sound as she burned, and Sam forced himself to watch, Gabriel’s fingers digging into his back. If the angel had gone through this, then he would too. That was the deal of the bond after all.

 Looking up suddenly, Gabriel snapped, his hand shaking so bad it took him more than one try. Sam watched, awed as a dove burst forth from Joan’s chest, flapping frantically up into the air unnoticed by most of the gathered, though a few pointed at it as it disappeared into the clouds. “Free passage for her soul,” Gabriel choked, pressing his face back into Sam’s shoulder.

 They stood there until the crowd had dispersed, and Joan’s ashes burned twice over, as though to make sure she was really dead. The smoke had long since dispersed by the time Gabriel pulled away, turning from Sam not a heartbeat before there was a pop and a flutter of wings, an angel appearing in front of them.

 Sam was used to angels popping into existence at odd times, but this took the cake, and he nearly fell over in an effort to jump out of the way. Not that he had to, as the other looked right through him to Gabriel without hesitation.

 The other was not much taller than Gabriel, and his waist length platinum blond hair was tied back out of his eyes, one of which sporting a monocle that Sam wasn’t entirely sure fit the time period. Gabriel stiffened at the sight of him, hands clenching at his sides, “You can tell Michael I’m not coming home, if that’s what you came here for.”

 The angel rolled his eyes, “Hardly. I came to see if you needed a place to stay, since as I recall you can’t go back to your pagan friends, they think you’re in eternal damnation tied up with your son’s innards and being poisoned.”

 Gabriel growled but raised an eyebrow thoughtfully, “You know, I don’t think I recognize you, brother.”

 “I’ve been away since the first war,” the angel clarified, “It’s much more amusing down here, compared to Heaven’s drab décor.” He held out a hand then, which Gabriel readily took, “My name is Aziraphale, and you don’t have to go home any longer.”


Blank Pages Part 11


Blank Pages: Deliver Us, Too

 

 

 

 

 

Aziraphale moved around Europe every few years, and Gabriel with him. Sam was startled the first time Crowley simply waltzed in a few years into the memories, and neither angel so much as lifted a finger to stop him. Gabriel looked up from the book he was reading with a raised eyebrow, “Caphriel, was wondering where you got off to after the war. How’s Hell?”

 “Boring, mundane, slightly more interesting than Heaven,” Crowley yawned, throwing himself into the armchair Aziraphale was already sitting on, pushing the tome the angel was holding onto the floor and sitting across his lap with a smug grin. “How’s shacking up with Az here?” He draped his arms around the blond angel’s shoulders, raising an eyebrow towards Gabriel.

 “We’re not ‘shacking up,’” Gabriel snorted, turning back to his book, “Have at it.”

 Crowley did just that, Aziraphale letting out a shocked little squeak as the demon kissed him.


Time continued to be like water, the slightest ripple sending Sam to a different memory all together.

 Sam couldn’t help but be surprised the at moment when Gabriel stood in the hall of a little hospital in Lawrence Kansas, cradling a tiny, newborn baby and whispering soft things to it that Sam could hear clear as day.

 “Samuel, Sammy, Sam . . . You will grow up to be a special little boy, and a wonderful young man.” He turned to Sam then, the current Sam, and grinned, “Did you really think I’d not be here the moment you were born?” Sam shook his head, blushing furiously, “Idiot. I’m the Messenger, the angel of prophecy. And your prophecy, kiddo, was more important than any other I ever took part in.”

 “What about Jesus?” Sam joked.

 “Less important.” He said simply. “I rebelled for you, Sammy.” He tickled the baby under the chin, elbowing the Hunter in the side in the same motion, “I wonder if the whole memory would implode if you touched your past self . . . Hmm . . .”

 The world blurred again, events flickering in and out too fast for Sam to follow. There were brief periods where Sam couldn’t see anything hear anything at all, as though someone was muddling up his senses and covering his eyes. After that however, everything was painfully clear.

 Gabriel was sitting in the overstuffed, and yet strangely comfortable armchair by the front window of Aziraphale’s shop that he’d bought a few years before. The younger angel was perched on his desk, an old, leather bound book balanced on his lap while his right arm rested on a precarious stack of newer tomes. Sam stood unnoticed in a corner. Silence stretched endlessly between them as Sam looked on, it was a Tuesday afternoon, and all of the few and far between potential customers were at work. Out of all the Trickster’s brothers, Aziraphale was the only one Gabriel could stand being in the same room with for so long. He was quiet, thoughtful, and only ever spoke up when he had something important to say. The exact opposite of most of Gabriel’s other companions. Stretching his arms over his head, his body uncurling like a cat after sleep, he closed his book, “Az, you ever gonna go back to Heaven?”
 
Aziraphale looked up with a frown, “What a ridiculous notion. Of course not,” he drawled, returning his eyes to the book. He was scribbling down little notes on a pad of paper beside him as he read. Sam sidled over to the blonde’s over to the blonde’s side and tried to decipher them, but Aziraphale’s handwriting was like serial killer. After a moment, the younger angel coolly shot back, “And you’re not either, I presume.”

 “No chance,” Gabriel smiled. “I have too much fun down here. Which is why I have to spend the last days of earth wreaking havoc as usual.”

 “The last days of earth?” Aziraphale echoed, still engrossed in the musty old book on his knees. Sam tensed.

 At this, Gabriel gave the other angel a characteristic eyebrow raise, “Surely you’ve heard, bro. The Apocalypse is coming.”

 Aziraphale glanced up with a bored stare, “It’s always coming. We have a scare here and there every few years.” He rested his chin in his palm, “The Antichrist I once knew will be turning twenty two this year. He’s a grown man, and no longer of much of a threat to anyone.” The Hunter blinked, confused, but he passed it off to the time when the memories had blurred over and hidden from him.

 “There’s a new one,” Gabriel started.

 “There’s always a new one,” Aziraphale sighed.

 “And the vessels-”

 Aziraphale looked mildly interested as Gabriel started to speak again, “The vessels? That is new. They’re not as common. You’ve met them, I suppose?”

 Gabriel rested his hands in his lap, curling his fingers uncomfortably, “Not officially, no. I held the second, Lucifer’s kid, though.”

 The younger angel’s eyes narrowed, “You do not want to. Why? They are God’s chosen. You should have been looking after them, watching over them, giving them reasons not to say yes. Why are you here, Gabriel? When you should be there.”

 The archangel frowned, “I just want it to be over. If we let them fight, it’ll all be over, and we won’t have to sit around with our thumbs up our ass waiting anymore.” He’d interfered before, and he’d sat back and stood by as well. Better to let it rest and stay away from it entirely than witness so much anguish all over again.

 “So you’ll give our brothers those children without a second thought. You, the protector of men, God’s mouthpiece.” Aziraphale shook his head, his blue eyes full of remorse, “You are a coward, Gabriel.”

 Fury blazed in Gabriel’s eyes, “I am no coward! I don’t want to watch them tear each other apart! They’re my family, no matter how long I’ve been away! Interfering means choosing a side!” He stood, striding over to his brother and flinging the book to the ground, Sam dodging out of the way though he knew neither could see him in this memory.

 The ancient leather volume hit the floor and skidded across the hardwood, it’s worn old pages crinkling and bending. Aziraphale scowled, “That was a very important text there, brother,” he said softly, though his blue eyes glinted with anger. He shoved himself away from the desk until he was nose to nose with Gabriel, or rather, nose to eye. Aziraphale was a few inches taller than the other. Sweeping his long, tied back silver-blond hair over his shoulder, the younger angel adjusted his glasses on his nose and sighed, “Gabriel, you look at the world in black and white. Have you ever thought that maybe there was a gray mixed in there somewhere?”

 Gabriel bit his lip, “What?”
 
Aziraphale smiled, “Humans, demons, angels, sometimes we all want the same thing. Freedom is the most prized treasure of all, Gabriel. And Father gave every one of us a choice. Though the third path may be a bit harder to find your way on, that never means it’s the wrong one.”

 “Demon lover,” Gabriel hissed between his teeth, disregarding the rest of the short speech. He hadn’t forgotten his sibling’s fondness for one in particular, and the memory irked him to no end. Sam chuckled to himself at the words, however, glad that for once Gabriel was not paying any attention to him.

 “Thank you for that obvious statement,” Aziraphale smirked, “And by that same token, are you not the same towards humans? I recall your endearment towards Joan of Arc with perfect clarity, brother. That was where we met, after all.” The younger was not surprised to find himself suddenly thrown up against the desk, his back bending painfully over the stacks of books that began to topple over onto the chair behind. “You loved her like your own child, Gabriel. Don’t think I don’t know. And I can see in your eyes that it is for a similar reason you’ve been avoiding the vessels. Is it not?” He smiled, “You’re afraid of watching them die.” Sam inhaled, fisting a hand in the material of his shirt over his chest.

 “I’m no coward,” Gabriel growled. “I held that child in my arms, knowing full well what he would grow up to be. You can’t possibly understand what having that knowledge is like. I never asked to be Father’s tool like this. I don’t want to know what the future will bring.” His nails dug into Aziraphale’s skin, his eyebrows furrowing together. “Every time I know, I either fuck it up, or get hurt myself.”

 Aziraphale’s eyes drifted to the book lying on the floor where Gabriel had tossed it, the fading letters spelling out something along the lines of “Nice and Accurate Prophecies” on it’s cover just visible in the London afternoon light. “I understand more than you think, brother. What you don’t seem to understand is that knowing is half the battle. If you know what’s to come about, you can do something about it, can you not?”

 Gabriel inhaled slowly, his grip on the other loosening, “It’s fate.” Sam couldn’t help but wince.

 “Nothing is ever set in stone, even when a prophet writes it,” Aziraphale smiled. “Why don’t you meet these vessels in person, Gabriel? See their strength and their souls with your own eyes. There is always room for people to change, you just have to give them a shove in the right direction. Humanity is a beautiful thing.”

 “Humanity isn’t beautiful, Aziraphale,” Gabriel snorted in reply, eyes narrowed in disgust. “It’s foolish, broken, and contaminated with things like desire and want.” he folded his arms over his chest, backing up from the younger angel with a roll of his eyes.

 “You’ve seen much of it, haven’t you,” Aziraphale said solemnly. “You’ve seen the darker side of it in your time as Loki.”

 “I am Loki,” Gabriel sneered. “There was never a real god by that name, only me. I took that guise long before I left for good.”

 “I know,” the other smiled wisely. “You think me arrogant to your ways, brother. But I’m not. You may have taken up permanent residence after Joan of Arc’s death, but you have been living among Earth’s peoples from the moment Adam was created.” He tilted his head to the side, studying Gabriel with a contemplating look, “You want to go to him, don’t you, Gabriel.”

 “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 Aziraphale laughed, and Gabriel raised his eyebrow at the action, unused to it coming in any sincerity from other angels aside from himself. “The vessel, brother,” he clarified with genuine amusement in his Grace-blue eyes, “You are worried for him, are you not?”

 Sam shivered at the tone in the words, glancing around for a calendar so he could check the date, though he knew it was years still before they would meet on a college campus, a Hunter and a Trickster. Even this far back, before Azazel murdered Jess, before their father died, Gabriel was aware of Sam’s every move, worried for him, holding back from helping.

 Gabriel sat down in the chair he’d been in before, falling heavily into it and slumping in it’s reassuring presence. “Lucifer’s already played a hand in tainting him,” he admitted slowly. “His name is whispered among the demons even now.”

 “And you believe it to be too late?”

 “No,” the archangel snarled, “Of course not. But-” he stopped, eyes turning to the window, “I’m not an angel anymore, Aziraphale. I can pretend to be, but I’m not. I may still have my wings and my Grace, but I’m too sullied.” He flexed his hand, clenching his fingers against his palm in frustration, “Too pagan. Too human.”

 “Aren’t we both,” Aziraphale sighed as he bent to pick up the books Gabriel had thrown to the floor earlier. His fingers lingered on the old, musty tome for a minute longer than the others before he lovingly closed it, caressing it’s leather bound cover with a smile. “That’s because humanity possesses what we were born without, what we have to learn for ourselves.” He chuckled as Gabriel cocked his head lazily, confused. “Free will, Gabriel.”

 “Team Free Will. One ex-blood junkie, one dropout with 6 bucks to his name, and Mr. Comatose over there. Awesome.” The words echoed in Sam’s mind as clear as they had been when Dean had first spoken them.
 

 “You have it too, you know. I wonder if you were not the first of us to have it,” Aziraphale finished.

 “Lucifer-” Gabriel started.

 “Is no more your brother anymore than any other demon. I know you cared for him greatly, Gabriel. But is choices caused his own downfall.” Aziraphale shook his head sadly, “Brother, do not let yourself be the same by just standing idly by. If you want to see the vessel, then see him.” He leaned back from where he was balanced on his heels on the floor, an odd sparkle in his eyes, “Give yourself time to get used to the idea, settle down somewhere and make mischief like you always do. He’ll find you eventually. It’s meant to happen.”

Gabriel blinked, “Weren’t you the one just going on and on about free will?”

Aziraphale smirked, “It is your free will. But whether or not you go to him now, or never, he will find you. Your Grace and his soul are remarkably the same.”

 “Like you and that demon?” Gabriel said sarcastically. His gaze roamed over the empty shop with a vague look of curiosity, “Where is he, by the way? Haven’t seen him in a few years.”

 “Busy preparing to play his own part in destiny,” Aziraphale said calmly, restacking the books. “He’s making connections and holing up in a very hidden, but noticeable place in America. He won’t tell me where.” He laughed softly, “Crowley can take care of himself, and so can I. He’ll come back when he’s bored again.”

 “You love him, don’t you,” Gabriel said coldly.

 “I wouldn’t exactly say that, I would never bind him with such a thing. He’s free to see whoever he wants, and has had many human lovers of both sexes through the millions of years we’ve been alive.” The younger angel looked thoughtful, leaning against the desk. “But we’ve been through much together, him and I. I would be lost without him.”

 “Isn’t that love?” Gabriel raised his eyebrow and frowned.

 “Hardly,” Aziraphale made a face, “He’s letting his human body age for convenience at the moment. And I’ll tell you now there is not one thing about that I love.” He made a face that caused Gabriel to snicker. “Angels are supposed to be incapable of love, Gabriel.”

 “Yes-”

 “Incapable of love for things our Father did not create,” Aziraphale corrected himself, studying his nails, “Which includes demons. Humans, however, are the one thing we are told to love more than God.”

 

The memory caved in on itself then, and Sam knew exactly where they were going to end up next, and his heart raced in the excitement of seeing this side of it.

Aziraphale leaned out the third floor window of the deceased professor’s office, smiling broadly as he caught sight of the pair of young men making their way towards an old, but very nicely kept black Chevy Impala. “So that’s him, is it? The vessel? He’s quite the catch, I must say.”

 “Az!” Gabriel snapped, looking annoyed. Sam, standing just behind them, laughed so hard he almost couldn’t breath.

 “Oh don’t get all uptight, I didn’t mean anything by it.” He swept his long, tied back blond hair over his shoulder with a fond smirk, “After all, he’s not mine to take. You’ve been waiting almost six years, haven’t you, Gabriel.”

 Gabriel snorted, staring down at the car as it rumbled to life and began to drive away. Absently, he began to pick at the collar of his navy-blue janitor uniform, watching the Impala vanish over the hill leading down to the college. Yes, he’d been waiting, it wasn’t a lie. He had bided his time and waited, playing meaningless pranks on the thickheaded and the arrogant on the college grounds, hoping that the Winchesters would someday pick up his trail. And so they had. “They’re going to come around again tomorrow, I’m sure. Once they figure out that the professor took his swan dive from this room.” He shrugged, trying not to look as though he was anticipating the encounter, but Aziraphale only smiled knowingly. Father, his brother was such a prat.

 “And what will you say to him, brother?” Aziraphale asked calmly.

 “Nothing,” Gabriel whispered. “What am I supposed to say? ‘Yes, hello, I’m Gabriel the archangel and I’m very pleased to meet you, future vessel of Lucifer.’” Sam huffed with laughter, and the archangel rolled his eyes, stepping back from the window and heaving a sigh. His eyelids fluttered closed and he tucked his chin against his collarbone, crossing his arms over his chest defensively. “You don’t understand, Aziraphale. I . . .” He flexed his fingers, curling them into the fabric of that damned itchy uniform, “I can still remember how it felt to hold him, the day he was born. He was so warm and small and I . . . I knew instantly what he would become. I had never considered my place as God’s Messenger to be a curse until that moment. Because I knew that I‘d have to watch him suffer, a thousand times worse than Jesus, Merlin, or even Joan.” He shook his head biting his lip as he caught his brother’s sympathetic gaze on him, “I can’t do anything for him.”

 Aziraphale smiled, the expression not quite reaching his eyes, “For now, I think it would be enough to simply stay as you are, Gabriel. Challenge him, test how far down his path as Lucifer’s chosen he is. Get to know this vessel, and maybe the answer of what he needs of you will become clear all on it’s own.”

 At this, a small smirk crossed Gabriel’s features, “You want me to continue playing The Trickster?”

 “It is what you do best.”

 

 Sam watched as the archangel did just that. It would be a lie to say the archangel wasn’t nearly bursting out of his skin when Sam first approached him inside the memory, Michael’s vessel at his side. He readily agreed to show them up to the room the professor had occupied before he’d given him some personal divine judgment. Sam played the part of the innocent electrician a little too well if Gabriel said so himself, however.

“So how long have you been working here?” Past-Sam asked as he followed The Trickster up the stairs, eyes on him in a way that made Gabriel’s spine crawl and his wings shift in unease from their space hidden between dimensions. Current-Sam followed at a distance, remembering Gabriel’s joke about messing up the universe should he bump into his other self, and he wasn’t planning on taking any chances.

 “I’ve been, uh, mopping this floor for six years or so now,” Gabriel said offhandedly, opening the door to the now empty office and motioning for them to step inside. His eyes caught the glint of metal as Past-Sam withdrew his EMF reader out from his coat, and the angel placed a look of oblivious curiosity on his face, “What’s that for?”

 “Um, finding wires in the wall,” Past-Sam muttered, looking away quickly as though he was afraid Gabriel would recognize the device. Which he did, but he wasn’t stupid enough to say anything about it. Current-Sam smiled, mocking his own complete lack of subtlety back then.

 “Don’t know why you’re wiring up this place though,” the Trickster said, trying his best to paint a picture of boredom on his features as he watched Past-Sam scan the walls diligently as though he really was looking for wires. It was amazing to Gabriel how much he’d grown. Not just physically, because that much was blatantly obvious. But emotionally as well. He’d checked in once or twice when the boys had first started hunting again a year and a half ago. Past-Sam’s eyes were clear again, free of the grief and anger that had clouded them for months.

 “Why’s that?” Past-Sam asked, raising an eyebrow. Gabriel tried his best not to smirk at this. As if he didn’t know. Cute. Mentally he smacked himself, biting the inside of his cheek for thinking such a thing. Current-Sam watched the exchange and literally smacked himself at how much it looked like he was flirting. And if he thought about it, maybe he had been.

 “The professor’s dead,” Gabriel replied mysteriously, “Jumped out that window right there,” he motioned towards it, eyes following the way the curtains fluttered away from the glass just so.

 “Oh yeah?” Gabriel chewed forcefully on the inside of his cheek as Past-Sam turned those falsely innocent hazel-green eyes on him. Damn. He’d heard of the famous Puppy-Look but this was insane. “Did you see it?”

 The Trickster snorted, “I was the one that found him.”

 At this, Past-Sam’s expression changed from childlike-curiosity to genuinely intrigued, “Did you see him go into the office too?”

 The angel shrugged, “Yeah, I did. I saw him go into the office with someone. It wasn’t the first time it had happened, so I didn’t think anything of it. I told the police about her, but I guess it was a dead end.” Of course it was, it wouldn’t be much of an illusion if there was solid evidence to leave behind. Not unless he left it purposefully.

 Past-Sam tilted his head to the side, staring at him for a long moment before he spoke again, “So this building only has four floors, right? So there wouldn’t be a room 669?”

 “No,” the archangel replied smoothly, unable to keep the slight smile from his face. The fools had bought his fake story he’d planted a few years back. “Why do you ask?”

 “Er, no reason,” Past-Sam mumbled, looking mildly embarrassed. Current-Sam put his head in his hands and groaned. Oh good lord, he had been flirting. Dean was right, he was such a girl. The memory shifted again.

 “You plan to let them kill you,” Aziraphale said slowly, as though he’d misheard his brother’s intentions.

 “I plan to let them think they killed me,” Gabriel corrected with a frown, noticing the blonde’s unease. “It’ll give me time to relocate, maybe follow them for a bit.” Sam rested his chin in his hands as he listened to them talk, none of this being new information to him, and in general much less interesting to watch than his past self acting like a total moron.

 Aziraphale cocked his head, blinking into the wind from his position on the windowsill of the deceased’s office. “You are truly worried about that vessel, aren’t you.”

 The archangel narrowed his eyes, “I really couldn’t care less, actually.”

 “You sensed it, didn’t you? What Azazel had done to that child,” Aziraphale started, pausing as confusion entered Gabriel’s gaze as he spoke, “You did not? Gabriel, just how distracted were you back there?”

 “I wasn’t-” Gabriel started, offended that Aziraphale would think such of him.

 The younger angel raised an eyebrow and smirked, “You weren’t checking out Sam Winchester’s ass?”

 “I-uh . . .” The Trickster folded his arms over his chest with an annoyed scowl, but didn’t deny it. Which only made Aziraphale laugh, Sam echoing it. Now this was new information, highly worthy of later blackmail once they got out of this chain of memories.

 “I don’t blame you, dear brother,” Aziraphale smiled. “But really, you did not realize at all what has already happened to the vessel? I suggest you take a closer look at him, and I’m not talking about his ass, you pervert.” He chuckled as Gabriel growled defensively. The world tilted and heaved, sending Sam tumbling into another recollection from just hours later.

 The Trickster led the way up the stairs from the janitor’s locker room with slow steps. Sometimes he really loved his guise as the Norwegian god Loki, it was great for stress relief. One of the many things he’d done the night before, actually. He could feel Past-Sam’s presence behind him as the boys followed him up the stairs, but he dared not take a moment to turn and examine him too closely. “Sorry I’m dragging today boys, I had a long night.” He grabbed hold of the banister and swiveled around so that his chin rested on it and he was able to look down at Past-Sam, still on the flight a few inches lower. “Lotsa sex,” he grinned, wiggling his eyebrows just so and watching with amusement as the young man blushed profusely, “If you know what I mean.”

 Current-Sam paled, remembering what it had felt like to be on the other end of those words and gaze, the prickling heat that had made it’s way through his body. Oh god, they’d both been flirting. Unconsciously, yes, but still.

 “Hard not to,” Dean grumbled, and Gabriel merely smirked.

 In those ten seconds he’d faced the youngest Winchester Gabriel had seen what Aziraphale had been referring to, and that was all he needed. Behind the hazel-green of Sam’s eyes roiled a spark of inky black, too hidden for mortal eyes to catch, but just enough for Gabriel to take note of. The child had drunken demon blood, though whether it was by force or his own free will, Gabriel couldn’t tell. Aziraphale had suggested that the demon Azazel had had a hand in it however.

 Past-Sam, still looking noticeably flustered, something Current-Sam ignored pointedly, began to back away, muttering something like, “Oh, I forgot, um, something. In the car. Yeah, in the car. Be right back.” Gabriel tilted his head and nodded, pointedly leading Dean farther up the stairs to allow Past-Sam to make his fake retreat, and the memory dissolved.

 The Impala rumbled off into the distance, it’s engine loud and clear from Gabriel’s position on the roof of Carter Hall, Current-Sam sitting unnoticed beside him. The angel bit into his candy bar and sighed, leaning back to catch sight of Aziraphale standing over him.

 “That is the least subtle car on the face of the planet, you know,” he said offhandedly.

 “That it is,” Aziraphale nodded, taking up a seat next to him, the side Sam wasn’t sitting on, and stretching out his wings visibly in the moonlight. Unlike Gabriel’s, they were a pure light gray, tinted on the edges with silver. “Have you seen what is to become of them in the near future, brother?” At this, Gabriel looked away, staring down at the ground far below them with a small shake of his head. This was answer enough. Aziraphale sighed deeply, “He will die within the year, Gabriel. And yet you won’t lift a finger.”

 “If he dies then he will never become Lucifer’s vessel,” Gabriel replied, his throat tightening around the words. “It is a better fate.” With this, he glanced directly at Sam, who had been unnoticed for the greater part of this set of memories, and the Hunter swallowed. Would it have been better?

 “If that is what you truly believe then you are more of a fool than I took you for,” Aziraphale said lowly, his eyes narrowing. “You act as though he is yours, and yet you do not follow through as though you mean it. You are a fool, Gabriel.” He snarled in frustration as the archangel didn’t reply, “Very well. You have no more use for me then, brother. I take my leave.” And with that, the angel was gone. Gabriel stared at the empty space for a long moment before he turned his gaze outwards once more, refusing to change his belief that there was nothing more he could do.

 Sam leaned against the Trickster’s shoulder as they were left alone, looking out over the empty parking lot with a weight in his heart, closing his eyes as he felt the memory begin to fade around the edges, blending into the next.

 

Gabriel sat back on the stool that first morning in what would be one of many identical Tuesday mornings, glancing over his shoulder at the pair that had just entered the small diner with a surprised start. His guise for his current round of tricks was already firmly in place for the day, but he couldn’t help giving himself a once over in the reflection in the unused spoon beside his half eaten plate of pancakes overly doused in maple syrup. Making sure he looked nothing like he had over a year ago, he looked up once more, taking in the stock of the two Hunters seated at a booth beside the window.

 Sam watched them too, himself and Dean from nearly four years ago, innocent compared to what they now were, bumping into each other as they walked, trying to make one another trip.

 The archangel couldn’t help smiling to himself as Dean kicked back against the plush but well worn cushion of the booth, his eyes on the menu board above Gabriel’s head. Across from him, Past-Sam sat, his hands raised slightly as he tried to explain their newest case to his brother, who was obviously not listening in the slightest. Gabriel stuck a piece of pancake in his mouth and chewed, taking in every small detail.

 Past-Sam had almost all but gotten rid of his bangs, sweeping what was left of them to the sides of his face, his hair in general over an inch longer than it had been since Gabriel had last been in his presence. Though his voice was stern as he lectured his brother on ordering items off the menu when he didn’t even know what they consisted of, his shoulders were slack with held back amusement, and a smile tugged at the corners of his lips. His dark green, hazel tinted eyes however flashed with hints of a grief, and Gabriel frowned, having to take a second look at Dean to understand why. Current-Sam didn’t need to, remembering all too well the turmoil of that year.

 The older Winchester brother’s soul was marked, a timer that was slowly ticking down the days, hours, minutes, until it was pulled into the depths of Hell. Gabriel sighed softly to himself, tearing his gaze away with a shudder.

 Just as the hands of time wound down on Dean’s life, so too did they on that of humanity in general. Dean being dragged down into Hell would be step one in the final countdown till the ultimate end.

 Gabriel had seen what would happen, just as he was able to see all things a certain ways into the future that his brother’s didn’t keep closely guarded, and the plan for the vessels was well known amongst the garrisons by now. Glancing back, he took in the simmering darkness that roiled behind Past-Sam’s eyes, dulled immensely since their encounter at the college, since Azazel’s death, but there all the same. It would only take a drop or two of demon blood, just a taste, and that shadow would increase, like a light switch being turned on after waiting since it’s installation to activate. The archangel swallowed, closing his eyes in an effort to wipe the sight from his mind, to little avail.

 Fate had already been carved out for the Winchesters, and all the pawns of destiny had been set in place, awaiting their orders to move. There was nothing that could be done.

 The Trickster opened his eyes as the waitress dropped a bottle of hot sauce, splattering the ground with it contents orange-red and not too unsimilar to blood. Gabriel’s nose wrinkled and he raised his line of sight to the brothers again, taking in their expressions in that moment. They were carefree on the outside, smiling and laughing with each other as they always had, the inner sadness well concealed.

 Sam watched, holding his breath, as the look of resignation in the Trickster’s eyes shifted to anger and determination instead.

 No, the pawns were not all in place, Father be damned. Gabriel hadn’t lifted a finger when Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, believing it to be long written out fate. Words could always be erased, smudged, and rewritten with a different ending, just as with what had happened to Merlin and Arthur. No one would expect him to interfere, he was the knight, moving in from the side, unexpected and game changing no matter how small the act.

 Gabriel snapped his fingers, the Winchesters taking no notice of the invisible shift of air and reality. If Past-Sam could see the future, even a faked one as Gabriel could create it, things might change. They would at the very least possess the potential for change. He would give Past-Sam the chance to glimpse the mindless thing he would become, and maybe, just maybe he could create a new path for the brothers. One that veered straight off that of what should have been unchangeable, and was ruled by nothing but free will and their own choices, for better or for worse.

 Current-Sam shook his head, looking away as the memory ended like a freeze-frame in a movie, starting up again a heartbeat later. He didn’t want to see what happened next, not this. He had forgiven the archangel for it a thousand times over by now, but it still hurt to watch, to witness the hundreds of Tuesdays where fate never changed no matter what he’d done to try and change it.

 Past-Sam was incapable of accepting the inevitable, especially when it came to his brother. Gabriel had watched for countless Tuesdays as the Hunter refused to give up, trying everything he could think of to stop Dean’s death, a task that was literally impossible as the Trickster could simply look into his mind and figure out an appropriate counter to whatever Past-Sam thought up that Tuesday.

 He wasn’t surprised when Past-Sam caught him, after all he had changed his syrup preference on purpose, having long ago grown bored with the game. Still, it hurt to see the utter hatred in Past-Sam’s eyes as he was slammed against the chain-link fence, the Hunter’s hand pinning him there with a stake pressed to his throat. More than anything, it scared him. He wasn’t afraid for his life, Father no, that stake was nothing to him. But that dark glint that roiled in Past-Sam’s eyes, that scared him more than anything. It was demon blood still untapped in his veins and Lucifer’s touch all rolled into one, a darkness in his gaze that Gabriel felt was all too familiar.

 So he let Past-Sam have the illusion that he was out of the time loop, watching from not far away as Dean Winchester died one last time and tipped Sam over the edge as he realized that this time there was no waking up.

 “You're right. I was just screwing with you,” Gabriel drawled, shoving his hands in his pockets, “Pretty good, though, Sam. Smart. Let me tell you, whoever said Dean was the dysfunctional one has never seen you with a sharp object in your hands. Holy Full Metal Jacket,” The Trickster waggled his eyebrows in amusement.

 “Bring him back . . .” Past-Sam didn’t even move. Gabriel had half expected to find a stake protruding from his chest by now, but the Hunter merely squared his shoulders and stared at the archangel in disguise.

 Gabriel blinked, “Who, Dean? Didn't my girl send you flowers? Dean's dead. He ain't coming back. His soul's downstairs doing the hellfire rumba as we speak.” He shuffled his feet as if to demonstrate.

 “Just take us back to that Tuesday—er, Wednesday—when it all started,” Past-Sam pleaded, so soft Gabriel could barely hear him. The archangel raised his eyes hesitantly, breath catching in his throat as he saw the tears welling in the younger Winchester’s eyes. “Please. We won't come after you, I swear,” Past-Sam whispered, taking a step closer, his hands held forward in surrender, palms facing up.

 The Trickster shuddered, looking away again. He couldn’t do this anymore, hurting Past-Sam like this. And even though that darkness hadn’t faded from his eyes, he just couldn’t play this game anymore. It wasn’t worth it if he had to se that hopeless, desperate look in the human’s eyes. “You swear,” he said, his voice as cold as he could muster.

 “Yes,” Past-Sam gasped, a spark of hope in his gaze. Gabriel wished that damned word had never been invented, the word that would one day seal the deal and allow Lucifer free reign of the Hunter’s body.

 “I don’t’ know. Even if I could-”

 “You can,” Past-Sam interrupted, hands clenched in the folds of his shirt as he stared at Gabriel, voice dripping with desperation. 
 
“True,” Gabriel admitted, tilting his head to the side as he used aloud, “But that don't mean I should. Sam, there's a lesson here that I've been trying to drill into that freakish Cro-Magnon skull of yours.” You’re too codependent, too fragile and easily influenced.

 Past-Sam stared, shocked, “Lesson? What lesson?”

 “This obsession to save Dean? The way you two keep sacrificing yourselves for each other?” The Trickster bared his teeth, feeling his invisible wings flex behind him, “Nothing good comes out of it. Just blood and pain. Dean's your weakness. And the bad guys know it, too. It's gonna be the death of you, Sam.” That. That was what he never wanted to see, not again. And not by his brother’s hand. “Sometimes you just gotta let people go.”

 “He’s my brother,” Past-Sam whispered, the tears literally almost spilling over from the corners of his eyes now. Gabriel just couldn’t take it.

 The Trickster snorted, “Yup. And like it or not, this is what life's gonna be like without him.” With a revenge ethic and a shit ton of demon blood mixed it, and oh, maybe the begging of the freakin’ apocalypse.
 
“Please. Just-” Past-Sam’s voice wavered and Gabriel looked away, “-Please.”

 “I swear, it's like talking to a brick wall. Okay, look. This all stopped being fun months ago. You're Travis Bickle in a skirt, pal. I'm over it.” He shoved his hands in his pockets, staring deliberately at the wall as if to make a point before his gaze flicked back to Past-Sam.

 Past-Sam stiffened, “Meaning what?”

Gabriel frowned, “Meaning that’s for me to know and you to find out,” he snapped his fingers, watching as the world shifted away back to that first Wednesday over six months ago.

 

He was done with helping, Father be damned. Let things happen as written, he didn’t care anymore. If the world ended then so too would he.

 Maybe then it wouldn’t hurt this bad to watch Past-Sam fall.

 
With that snap, the memory ended, and Gabriel collapsed, finding himself standing very suddenly on the concrete sidewalk outside of Elysian Fields Hotel. Sam crouched down at his side, placing a hand against the small of his back as the angel gulped down air, almost as though he’d been holding his breath through the whole exchange with Sam’s past self. “Sammy,” he gasped, head hanging between his shoulders as he breathed, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry . . .”

 “I know,” Sam whispered as he rested his head against the archangel’s shoulder and sucking in a breath of his own. “I know.”

 Gabriel lifted his head and gazed at the hotel before them before stiffening under the Hunter’s hands, “I can’t . . .”

Sam raised an eyebrow, casting the building a glance, realizing exactly where they were. “What happens if you die in a memory, Gabe?” he asked softly, fearing the answer.”

 “I don’t know . . .”
 
 


Blank Pages Part 12


Blank Pages: Blood To Blood

 

 

 

 

Crowley had reclined the passenger seat as far as it would go, and he let himself sink into it with every breath, eyes closed and his hands folded across his chest. But every breath hurt, rattling in his lungs like death had a grip on him, on his host. “Hey,” he said suddenly, cracking open an eye, “Bobby, do you know anything about Purgatory?”

 On the driver’s side Bobby raised an eyebrow, frowning, “Not much, no.”

 “It’s the place things like me go when we get what we’re due,” Crowley drawled, nodding slightly and sounding for all the world as though he was bored despite the subject at hand. “I tried to find it once. I thought that because it’s supposed to lie between Heaven and Hell that I, of all people, could find it. Since I have dwelled in both.” He shrugged, staring up at the ceiling of the car with a grim expression set on his face.

 “The only thing between here and there is this pocket of mud,” Bobby smirked, “Take it or leave it.”

 The demon rolled his eyes, “I have, for thousands of years. But I’m afraid I’m going to be a few years short of seeing the next century.” He frowned, feeling the Hunter’s eyes on him, “I’ve fought a hundred wars, fucked my way through all manners of history’s brightest, and stopped two apocalypses. I’m good.”

Bobby tightened his hands on the wheel, “What’s with the last words? I thought Team Free Will was all about dodging the bullet.”

 “With style,” Crowley added, smiling. “Dodge all you want, but someday you just get too worn out to keep running.” He looked away, “I’ve lost the one thing that kept me from giving in all these years. I’m done.”

 The Hunter snorted, “And we’re nothing to you? The times you risked your life for those boys and their cause, for me, are worthless‘?”

 Crowley chuckled softly, “Hardly. The boys are a pain in my butt and their angels ten times worse. And you . . .” He paused, grinning, “Are the worst crotchety old fool I’ve ever met. Which is saying something with how long I’ve been around.”

 “Why thank you,” Bobby huffed.

 The demon nodded, sitting up and gesturing towards the side of the road, “Park there, would you? We’re close to the boys’ motel now. Better if we approach from a distance in case that bastard is there.”

 “Bastard . . .” Bobby started, the question unspoken.

 “Whatever angel or demon killed Aziraphale,” Crowley clarified before he got out of the car and leaned against the door as he closed I. “So, I say that we go in all stealthy like,” he went on once Bobby had come to lean against the truck at his side, “And then basically just storm the castle once we’re close enough. Kapeesh?”

 “Sounds reckless.”

 “Sounds bloody brilliant to me,” Crowley laughed. He moved then, turning to grab a hold of the front of Bobby’s checked shirt and pulling until their lips clashed together. Bobby started and the demon let him go, rocking back on his heels, “Just thought I might give that back to you.”

 Bobby raised an eyebrow, scrubbing at his mouth, “Give what back you idjit?”

Crowley smirked, “Your soul. I’ll let you hang on to the legs free of charge too.”

 The Hunter blinked and turned his gaze down to stare at the blacktop between them, “You’re really not planning to leave here, are ya.”

 “Sorry, love, not this time,” Crowley murmured, pausing to reach up to squeeze the other’s shoulder, “Just so you know though, you suck at chess.”

 Bobby laughed.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

 Dean knew it would take awhile to get used to the feeling of waking up with someone beside him, limbs tangled together (and in this case, wings as well), and the tickle of warm breath against his neck. But he knew that he would, given time.

 What he would hopefully never get used to was the sudden, panicked scrabble of Castiel’s fingers against his skin, and the muffled cry of someone who was trying to call out just before a hand stifled any noise. Dean sat up so fast that his head spun, and he blinked rapidly as he tried to clear both sleep and dizzying blood rush from his senses. He reached for the hands that had only a moment before clawed desperately at his skin ad froze, arm stretched out just inches away from Castiel as his eyes took in the sight before him.

 A stranger, an angel by the way his blue eyes seemed to bear that same knowing glow Cass’ and Gabriel’s did, held Castiel against him, one arm wrapped around the smaller angel’s shoulders to cover his mouth. The other hand twisted one of Castiel’s pure white wings in a way that clearly hurt, and the smaller angel writhed in panic and pain each time the larger angel clenched strong fingers around the joint in his wing. The strange angel gazed at Dean with that same, odd, infinite calm Castiel had had when they’d first met and his faded blue eyes flickered in way that made Dean’s breath catch in fear. This angel wasn’t joking around, and as he straightened, Castiel still pinned against him remaining smothered by his hand, Dean couldn’t help but be sickeningly reminded of Raphael.

 “Another Mutant Ninja Angel?” he asked sarcastically, watching the other’s every movement. His whole body itched to just launch across the space between them and snatch Castiel back, but the way the smaller angel’s eyes rolled back in his head when the other tugged at his wing again stopped him. One wrong move and Cass would probably lose that wing. Dean didn’t want to go through that again.

 “Hardly,” the angel said lightly, “Raphael and I are nothing alike.”

 “Really?” Dean snapped, quickly losing his patience, “Because Raphael had a vendetta against me and Cass too.”

 The other laughed, the sound gravelly and dark, and he raised an amused eyebrow as Dean stiffened, “I’m not after you or your booty-call angel, Winchester. I came for the archangel, and since I assume he’s been traveling with you . . .”

“We don’t know where he is,” Dean said, a little too hastily, and the other frowned.

 “Oh? Well I hate to break it to you, but that’s the wrong answer,” the angel shifted, lifting his hand from Castiel’s nose and mouth as he wrenched the smaller’s wing right out of it’s socket.

 Castiel screamed.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

 Sam stared at the door to the hotel for a long, long time, his arms tightening around Gabriel’s shoulders with every second that passed. He wouldn’t let the archangel go in there, not again. “What happens if we just . . . Refuse to go through this again?” he asked softly, not daring to look down and meet Gabriel’s eyes, knowing the other was watching him.

 “We’re stuck here, forever, in this spot. We can’t just wander around the street inside a memory, I have to follow the same path I did the first time around, or nothing happens at all.” Gabriel swallowed, pushing away from the Hunter with grim determination, “I . . . I can’t let you stay trapped in my head, Sammy. Come on.” He stood, turning to face the entrance to the hotel.

 “No!” Sam practically leapt to his feet, grabbing the Trickster’s wrist and tugging him back until they stood toe to toe, the startled angel staring up at him in surprise. “I won’t let you die for us again,” Sam hissed as he raised his other hand to touch the side of Gabriel’s face.

 Gabriel leaned into the touch and shook his head, “It’s a memory, Sam, I don’t think I can die again.”

 “You don’t think,” Sam echoed, disbelieving, “If there was any doubt you’d stay here!”

 The archangel laughed then, reaching up to place his hands on Sam’s cheeks, drawing his head down so that they were almost eyelevel, “Idiot,” he whispered, “I died for you. And I would do so a thousand times over if that’s what it took to keep you safe.” Sam inhaled sharply as Gabriel stood on his tiptoes and kissed him, stealing all the air he’d just sucked in away as their lips collided. “Okay?” he asked before pulling away a bit so that their noses brushed as he spoke.

 No, Sam wanted to say, not okay. Because that hadn’t felt like a kiss between lovers, friends, or whatever they were (he really wasn’t sure), it had felt like a kiss that whispered, “Goodbye,” in the breath that it took away. But Sam, with Gabriel’s pleading eyes on him, only nodded and prayed that he was wrong.
 

 

The next instant they were standing in the dining area of the hotel, Gabriel between him and Lucifer. Sam caught sight of his own back as Dean herded him and Kali out the door and into the lobby, away from the Devil, and he looked away, laying a hand on the archangel’s shoulder as Gabriel drew out an angel blade. When he did so, however, his hand connecting with the fabric of Gabriel’s jacket, he knew something was wrong.

 Lucifer circled his younger brother, eyes gleaming, and Sam watched him warily. He couldn’t figure out why this whole situation didn’t feel right. The Hunter wasn’t even listening to the Devil’s drone about family and brotherhood, and he jolted as he realized what was wrong.

 This Gabriel, the one he was touching, was cold, in that familiar eerie way he had been when Dean had killed him the first time on the college campus.

 A fake, a copy.

Lucifer knew it too. A split second after Sam saw the real Trickster appear behind his brother, so too did the fallen angel, whirling and fisting a hand around the blade the real Gabriel was about to plunge into his back and shoving it instead right into the archangel’s stomach. Sam howled, the illusion in front of him disappearing as Lucifer tugged the short sword free. Gabriel fell to the ground, the white light of his Grace exploding and then fading from his eyes and mouth. Just like that, the Devil was gone, taking one last look at the sibling he’d slain before vanishing as if he’d never been there at all.

 Sam moved, sliding across the wooden floor to Gabriel’s side, pressing a hand against the flow of blood from the wound in the Trickster’s gut, though he knew it would do no good. He lifted his other hand and stared at the black smudge streaked across his palm from where he’d touched the ashen imprint of wings on the ground, swallowing back the bile that rose in his throat.

 Any moment now Gabriel would get up and they could get out of here, out of this hell-hole of memories and back to Dean and Castiel at the motel. But Gabriel didn’t stir. He lay still, his body quickly cooling under Sam’s fingers. The Hunter choked back a sob, taking the angel’s face between his hands and pressing their foreheads together and gulping down air to hold back the anguish that threatened to overwhelm him. Tilting his head he kissed the other’s unresponsive lips, a last desperate attempt.

 “Happily Ever After . . .”

 

He tried again, drawing away slower this time, his eyes flickering helplessly across Gabriel’s motionless form, over candy-gold eyes frozen in shock and stained wing marks spanning the length of the room. Nothing happened.

 “No,” Sam whispered hoarsely, “Not like this. Kali said this would save you, not kill you all over again! This isn’t what I wanted!”

 The sound of footsteps met his ears then and Sam stilled, afraid he’d turn and find Lucifer had returned to destroy what little remained of his brother. But when he looked up, expecting the worse, he was surprised to come face to face with a different angel.

 Aziraphale peered down at him behind his glasses, straight at him in a way that Sam was sure was not a part of the original memory, if this was part of it in any way at all. “You-” Sam started.

 “Kissing him won’t work you know,” Aziraphale said, cutting him off and glancing between his brother and the Hunter, “Your story is not the star-crossed love that Dean and Castiel share.”

 Star-crossed. That was one he’d have to remember to taunt Dean with later. “Then what is it?” Sam asked, a lump forming in his throat he could barely swallow past, “What am I supposed to do?”

“Nothing,” Aziraphale concluded, kneeling down beside him and pressing his first two fingers to Gabriel’s forehead, “You and my brother were never meant to be, no matter what he felt for you.”

 “Felt . . .”

 Aziraphale cast him a sidelong glance, “You were his favorite, his beloved in a way none of his other charges ever were. In them, Jesus, Merlin, and Joan, he saw a child that needed a hand to hold. In you, he only saw humanity at it’s finest, flawed, broken, pure in ways no one but him could ever understand, and willing to forgive.” He looked away again and lifted his fingers, “You know, he once told me you had the most beautiful soul he’d ever seen, more so than Lucifer’s Grace before he fell.” The angel paused, looking at the Hunter out of the corners of his eyes, “I see that now.”

 Sitting back, Aziraphale twirled his hand around in the air above Gabriel’s still form, like one would a fork in pasta. Sam watched, heart in his throat, as a strong of silver-blue Grace wound around his outstretched fingers, curling up the other angel’s arm. He stood then, holding the appendage that glowed from index finger to shoulder towards Sam, waiting as the human held his arms outstretched, not knowing what the angel wanted from him. Behind them, Gabriel’s body shattered like glass and dispersed into a thousand tiny pieces. The light of the Grace fell from Aziraphale’s arm and into Sam’s hovering just above his skin in a roiling mess before the light went out, and Sam barely had time to react before he caught the thing that fell into his arms.

 It was Gabriel as Sam had last seen him outside the memories, a child of no more than four, curling into the warmth of Sam’s chest as he clutched the fledgling to him, relief coursing through him. The Hunter looked up, a thank you on the edge of his tongue until he took in the sight of an empty room, and his heart immediately took root in his throat again as it started to swim around him.

“You and my brother were never meant to be, no matter what he felt for you.”

 

 

 


Dean roared in anger, leaping to his feet in an effort to get to Castiel, who had gone limp in the enemy angel’s arms, but the other simply raised a hand and the oldest Winchester felt himself freeze in place. Not now, not like this. He’d just gotten Cass back, he did not need to deal with this shit.

 His eyes darted to the fringes of the room as something snapped and the lights flickered. The curtains, tightly drawn, rattled on their rods as if disturbed by an absent wind. Sam was crouched near the door. Gabriel, still a fledgling, was tucked against his chest. The adversary angel’s eyes instantly went to him, a sick grin lighting up his face.

 He dropped Castiel and Dean was instantly at the fallen angel’s side, freed of the hold that had been over him. His fingers flew across his angel’s chest and face, checking for any other injuries besides the wing that hung askew.

 Across the room, Sam tightened his hold on the motionless fledgling and glared up at the angel that stalked towards him like a starving cat, “Balthazar,” he breathed, not entirely surprised.

 Balthazar paused, raising an eyebrow, “I don’t believe we’ve met, human.”

 Sam bared his teeth at him, but didn’t reply, shielding Gabriel as much as possible from the angel’s hungry gaze. “What do you want from him?” he snapped, muscles coiling as he prepared to fight the other off, to dodge a blow or to simply run and get them to safety.

 “What does anyone want?” Balthazar laughed, “Power, revenge, a better life in general, the usual.”

 “And you plan to take it from him?” Sam snarled, scootching back until he came in contact with the wall. He started as he realized he had nowhere to go.

 Behind Balthazar, Dean leaned over Castiel, gripping the angel’s shoulder as he snapped his wing back into his socket with one fluid motion, covering the other’s mouth with a hand when Castiel jolted, another cry threatening to escape him as he jerked back into consciousness. The youngest angel rolled over onto his side, Dean pressing his forehead against his opposite shoulder in silent relief. “Balthazar,” Castiel whispered, just loud enough for Dean to hear, “I thought he was dead.”

 “Yeah,” Dean huffed, “We tend to think that about a lot about things that aren’t really dead. Just sayin’.” He sat up a little, keeping a hand on his angel as he eyed the situation for a loophole. “Cass, do you think you could get between him and Sam and get Gabriel out of here? As long as the kid is in the room Sam won’t attack, he’s too scared of hurting him.”

 “Then you grab Balthazar from behind,” Castiel murmured, before pushing himself to his knees and saying the words near Dean’s ear as he pressed his blade into the Hunter’s hand, “Try not to get yourself killed.”

 “I think that’s my line after last time,” Dean joked grimly, curling a hand around the hilt of the blade. “On three.”

 It was some sort of unspoken rule that “On three” really just meant now, and Castiel disappeared and reappeared between Balthazar and Sam. He snatched the tiny archangel up and vanished into thin air, leaving only one shocked angel and two Hunters. Balthazar started, opening his mouth to say something only to feel the press of Castiel’s angel knife against his throat.

“Wanna try that again?” Dean growled behind him while Sam stumbled to his feet, fists clenched at his sides.

 Balthazar stood statue still, breath coming in startled gasps as he tried to keep his skin away from the metal of the blade against his Adam’s apple. “Actually,” he said softly, “I think I might.”

 All the air whooshed out of Dean as he was flung back against the opposite wall, a hand yanking Castiel’s knife from his hands over a triumphant cry of, “Angel, remember?” and as his head hit the wall, making him see stars behind his eyes. He heard the pained gasp before his vision came back into focus just in time to see Sam with Castiel’s knife protruding from his chest, Balthazar leering over him. “How many times is this now, Winchester?” the angel said gleefully as the blood began to bubble up in Sam’s mouth, the younger brother coughing and gagging on it as his hands scrabbled weakly at the hilt of the blade sticking out of his chest, “Four, five? I think with this one you might beat your brother in ‘Who’s died the most,’ don’t you?”

 “No!” Dean howled, trying to get to his feet as the door burst open.

 Castiel was there, holding a squirming and flailing Gabriel, who shrieked at the sight in the room. But it wasn’t Cass who surged across the room, the glint of metal in hand, yellow eyes alight with rage.

 It was Crowley.

Balthazar jerked back, the blade in the demon’s hand nicking his cheek as he tugged Castiel’s knife out of Sam’s chest, ignoring the Hunter’s gasp of pain. “Ooh! Caphriel, I didn’t know you had it in you! Missing your little angel-boy, are you?” He sneered, catching Crowley’s wrist as the demon swung at him again, “Some revenge this is,” he said coolly, examining the blade held just inches from his heart, trapped between his fingers, “A poor revenge you’ve planned though, this weapon was not meant for the likes of me.” Balthazar grinned, “How the mighty have fallen, demon. I would have thought better of you.”

 “And I of you,” Crowley snarled, “But apparently you are still as daft as the day you hatched!” His other arm arced through the air, platinum silver dagger embedding itself in the Balthazar’s throat, “I’m still an angel, you wanker, no matter how long ago I fell.”

 Balthazar gurgled, slumping against the demon and falling to the floor with an unceremonious thud. Against the puce colored carpet of the motel, the light of his Grace burst from his eyes and the ashen print off his wings stretched out across the room, staining the walls and the mattresses in it’s span. The demon smiled grimly and sank to his knees, resting his head in his hands and sucking in a choked breath.

 Dean made his way across the room to where Sam lay, falling at his brother’s side and wadding up his favorite leather jacket, pressing it into the gaping hole in Sam’s chest. “Shit, no, no, no,” he hissed between breaths, eyes widening as the blood pooled in Sam’s mouth as he tried to breath, spilling out when he choked on it and gagged. “Cass, do something!”

“I can’t,” Castiel said, and Dean’s eyes snapped to him, “the bond . . . The blood bond he entered with Gabriel prevents me from-”

 “Gabe is still a squirt! And if Balthazar could fucking stab him, then you can heal him, something obviously didn’t work!” Dean pressed his coat into the wound harder, crimson seeping through the material. Too fast, too much.

 But it was not Castiel who knelt beside the dying Hunter, and Dean fixed startled eyes on the fledgling as he pushed the jacket aside, pressing tiny hands to the wound, blood oozing out between his fingers. When Gabriel spoke, it was not the same, hesitant voice of a four year old Dean was accustomed to by then, though the pitch and youth of it was the same. His words were perfect and unwavering, confident in every breath. “Samuel Winchester, do you complete this blood oath, under the eyes of my Father and your Lord, under the goddess Kali who enacted it and the witnesses who stand here to see it through?”

 “Yes,” Sam choked, coughing as scarlet dripped out from between his lips as he spoke.

 Gabriel smiled, and Dean met his honey eyes for a split second, taking in the grim resolution in them with a heavy heart. The fledgling leaned forward, pressing a soft kiss on the edge of Sam’s stained red lips, “Then I give you my life,” he whispered, “As you were willing to give me yours.”

Beneath the angel’s hands, the gash on Sam’s chest began to glow with the unearthly silver blue of Grace. Sam gasped and arched up against the touch, coughing hard and expelling more blood from his throat and mouth before he sucked in a breath. His skin began to stitch together, leaving a tight, pink scar beneath the Trickster’s fingers as he pulled away.

 Chest heaving, Sam twisted his head to the side to stare at the fledgling, opening his mouth to ask something, but the question never came.

 Gabriel stood, taking two steps back so that he was out of Sam’s immediate reach. Tiny sparks of light had begun to lift away from his body, evaporating into the air above his head. The lights grew, urethral balls detaching themselves an floating away from the angel one by one until he was surrounded by them as they hurriedly dispersed into the air. And with every illuminated orb, Gabriel became less and less there, appearing almost transparent to Sam’s eyes.

 “No,” the word finally escaped the younger Winchester, but when he tried to move Dean held him down. “This isn’t what I wanted, Gabriel!” It was the second time he’d spoken those words in the last hour, and his throat tightened around him.

“Since when does anyone get what they want?” Gabriel laughed bleakly, voice breaking. “What we want and what we get are never the same, Sammy. If anything, that was what you should have learned from my memories.” He shrugged, staring at the ground as he flickered in and out of existence, not too unlike a ghost, “I’m glad, Sam, that you were willing to give your life for me. No one ever has before.” The fledgling angel smiled, and shook his head to banish invisible tears from his eyes, “Thank you.”

 “Gabriel-” Sam stretched out his hand as far as he could reach with Dean practically sitting on him to keep him still.

 Gabriel leaned down and touched the Hunter’s palm with the tips of his fingers, “We will meet again, Sam. I will find you.”

 “I will find you.”

 

 Sam sobbed, watching the last of the lights lift into the air and vanish, leaving nothing of the archangel in their wake.

 

 

Blank Pages Part 13


Blank Pages: You Say Goodbye, I Say . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Damn right they’re flawed, but a lot of them try to do better. To forgive.”

They took Crowley back to Bobby’s where the demon died not long after. He explained to Sam that Aziraphel had made the same sort of pact with him that Gabriel had with Sam, a bond of blood to blood. When one died, he said, the other would shortly follow.

 

 Sam neatly folded up his last pair of jeans, jamming them into his duffle and zipping it up fast so as to make sure nothing would come flying out in it’s overstuffed state. His hands on his hips, he smiled in triumph at his packing handiwork and nodded to himself.

 “Ready to go?”

 Looking up he saw Dean’s head poking around the doorframe, eyebrows raised in impatience. Sam chuckled, “Yeah, as ready as I’ll ever be I suppose.” He slung the duffle over his shoulder before following his brother out into the hall, shoving him aside as they raced down the stairs side by side. Dean shouted once they hit the ground floor that he’d cheated. “It’s not cheating if you shoved me back,” Sam protested.

 “It was self defense!” Dean exclaimed haughtily.

 “Says the man who brags about winning every fight he’s ever had against his brother,” a low, faintly amused voice spoke up.

 Sam glanced over his shoulder to see Castiel standing there, arms folded as he watched them, though his blue eyes sparkled with unspoken laughter, “He lies,” Sam informed him, “I’ve won some.”

 “Two,” Dean confessed, holding up the required number of fingers.

 Castiel shook his head, striding to the front door to gesture outside with a wave of his hand, “I thought you wanted to be off before noon, Sam.”

 “I do, I do,” Sam chuckled as he was practically pushed towards the door by Dean as he said this. “And I thought you were sad to see me go.”

 Dean snorted, “Sad to see you go, glad to have the house to ourselves.” Castiel nodded and Dean went on, “I mean, sex is only so much fun when you have to be quiet.”

 Sam put his hands over his ears, “I don’t wanna know, I don’t wanna know,” while Dean took his duffle and tossed it into the trunk of the Impala. At this, Sam paused, “Wait . . . I thought I was taking the Toyota,” he made a motion towards the truck parked on the curb.

 “Naw,” Dean shrugged, tossing Sam his keys, “Take the Impala. She belongs out on the open road., not this domestic thing. Plus, at least I know if you take her you won’t end up stranded with a messed up engine on the side of the road.”

 “I’d prefer not to, yes,” Sam laughed. He stepped forward then and lifted his arms, “I better get a hug.”

 “Dude that’s gay!” Dean protested, raising his hands in front of his chest in defense, to which Sam merely fixed him with a stare, flicking his eyes to Cass and back again. “Okay, yeah, I get your point, fine.” Sam grinned, enveloping his brother in a tight hug. “Squeezing . . . The life outa me there, Sammy,” Dean gasped into his shoulder.

 Sam jumped back, “Sorry!”

 Castiel approached then, holding out a hand for the younger Winchester to shake, “I wish you well, Sam,” he said evenly.

 “Gee . . .”

 “And I ask that you call Dean every night before you go to sleep, or he’ll worry incessantly and drive me ‘up the wall,’” Castiel took the liberty of adding air quotes to that last part, and Sam and Dean both stared at him for a moment before cracking up at the sight.

 “Cass, that is not how to use that motion,” Dean gasped out, holding his sides as he laughed.

 “It seemed appropriate to me, since I will not be literally climbing any walls.”

 Sam shook his head, “Nice try, but no. I’ll try to call though.”

 Castiel frowned, “Not try, do.” He rested a hand on Dean’s shoulder, the other still laughing so hard he was having trouble breathing. “Or I’ll pop in wherever you are and drag you back home.” Sam blanched.

 “Er, I’ll call then,” he said, sliding into the drivers seat of the Impala.

 

He was taking a trip cross country, stopping wherever he ended up each night and taking the back roads and side streets.

 It had been a little over a year since Gabriel had given him his life, vanishing as if he’d never been there at all. Eleven months since Crowley had died, the demon withering away like a leaf in fall. When Bobby had asked why he’d simply given up. To Sam, though he had explained everything. Crowley had laid out the typical rules of a blood bond to Sam in the last hours of his life, from every unexpected aspect that could show up, to every inevitable one, such as the death of the holders not long after each other. They held no ceremony when Castiel had informed them one morning that the demon inside the host had turned to the spiritual equivalent of ash, and Bobby had stood alone while they burned the body, tossing an old chess set into the flames.

 It was Crowley’s words that had forced Sam to leave. When Castiel had first gotten it into his head that he wanted a home, a house to call their own (while staying out of Bobby’s hair, thank you very much, as the older Hunter’s own words had been), Sam had refused to have anything to do with it. He feared that if Crowley’s words were true he would be on his own deathbed soon as well, with Gabriel gone.

 When a month came and went, then two and three, he readily agreed to take up one of the spare bedrooms when Dean excitedly showed him the new house in Wyoming, giving in to the relieved and delighted look on his brother’s face.

 But Sam itched to keep moving. While he loved the domestic life more so than Dean, who even though he insisted he wanted it took to it like a cat to water, Sam couldn’t sit still. More often than not Dean stayed home while he and Castiel ran the errands.

 They didn’t Hunt anymore, But they kept their old phones, including John Winchester’s, active, answering whenever they rang and finding other able Hunters for the job. Castiel’s wide expanse of knowledge aided many particularly nasty hunts when Bobby asked for an opinion or advice for a Hunter in need somewhere. They weren’t outside of the loop of the supernatural, and they never would be, but they were tired of stepping willingly into the fray. They’d done their part a thousand times over. When Sam had expressed his wish to return to the road, Dean had argued until he’d convinced his elder brother that he had no desire to hunt, and that he simply ached to keep moving. That was one of the few things Dean understood.

 Sam stopped in Arizona and stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon. He stayed overnight in New York, geeking-out (as Dean would say) at the museum at Ellis Island and taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. He lingered awhile on the beaches of Florida, and sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. For a day and a half he went up into Canada and lingered, breathing in the air that he knew was the same as that in the United States, but thinking that maybe it tasted just a little bit different.

 He carried on like that, shifting from place to place and taking in the sights he and Dean had never stopped to see, making sure to call his brother every night, lying on the motel bed and talking to both him and Cass about what each had done that day, until he’d been on the road for just under a year. It was not long after that that he found himself in Springfield Ohio.

 Sam had been driving with no particular destination, having forgotten what state line he crossed a few hours before in the early hours of dawn. But when he saw the sign he braked, thankful that there were no other cars behind him as he skidded on the road to a halt. Dean would tell him no, warn him to just drive on through and forget he’d ever been there. As Sam gazed up at the blazing white letters against a blue metallic background reading Welcome to Springfield Ohio his heart went to his throat, and he swallowed it down in with a flash of resolve.

 Just a look, a little peak. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to have just a look.

 The university was just as he remembered it as he parked the car in an empty visitor space, paying the meter. The hustle and bustle of students running between classes and whispers of a Friday night party, which, Sam realized, would actually be tonight. He’d stopped keeping track of days and dates months ago.

 Pushing his way through a crowd that had gathered outside Crawford Hall he made his way towards the door and shouldering his way inside. No one spared him a glance, and he thanked God for the lack of security on big campus buildings such as this. He found the stairs easily enough and took them slowly, counting each step up to the third floor. Forty-six. He found the room just as easily as he did the stairs, even after over five years.

 Pushing it open, Sam glanced around the empty room and breathed out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. “That room is cuuuuurrsseeed!” Some kid wailed behind him as he walked past, and Sam let the door swing shut, shoving his hands in his pockets. He shouldn’t have expected anything, really. What did he want to find? A professor ready to jump, an alligator in the pipes?

 Rolling his eyes at the very thought, the Hunter began to trudge down the hall back towards the stairs with his gaze locked pointedly on the ceiling. Which was why when his foot hit the glistening tile of freshly cleaned floor, he didn’t notice until he lost his balance and went crashing right down the flight of stairs to the second floor.

 Sam groaned, hands finding his head and rubbing at the bump he could already feel forming. He lay back against the cool tile in an effort to ease the swelling, ignoring the nervous stares of the students as they shuffled past, not wanting to get involved or be the one to call for help should he needed. Which he didn’t, this was nothing compared to the things injuries he’d gotten Hunting.

 “Ouch. Need a hand there, kiddo?”

 Sam froze, palms still pressed against his head and his eyes closed in pain.

“I’m afraid that the water on the other floor is totally my fault, sorry about that. But you see, I was trying to make this certain sasquatch epic fall down the stairs so that I could watch and giggle creepily to myself.”

 Sam breathed, the inhale as stuttering as his heart that pounded in his chest, “So, how long have you been working here?”

 “I’ve been mopping this floor for almost two years.”

 The Hunter opened his eyes to stare up into pure honey-gold and an sarcastic grin on the face of a five foot eight man leaning over him before he closed them again, scrubbing away the moisture that welled in the corners. Oh, God, he’d hit his head harder than he’d thought. He was hallucinating a terrible, evil, hallucination.

 A hand touched his shoulder, “Hey, kiddo . . . You okay?”

 Sam pushed himself to his knees and whirled, flinging his arms around the other, “You . . . Idiot! Do you know that I thought I was going to die?! Or that I’ve been practically a fuckin’ nomad these past few months? I hate you, Gabriel!”

Gabriel laughed, wrapping his arms underneath Sam’s, “Ha ha, no you don’t, you adore me.”

 “I hate you.”

 “I’m sorry I didn’t come find you,” Gabriel murmured near his ear, “But I knew that if I did, it would have been too easy.”

 “I hate you,” Sam said again.

 “You would have pushed me away, eventually,” Gabriel went on, “And besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder!”

 “Hate.”

 The archangel pulled back, taking Sam’s face between his hands and forcing him to meet his eyes, “And I knew that if you truly cared, you’d come find me first. I’ve been waiting, Sammy.”

 Sam swallowed, leaning in and kissing the other quickly, hesitantly, “I’ve been looking,” he replied softly.

 Gabriel grinned, “I guess we found each other then.”

 

 

 


Blank Pages Part 14

Blank Pages: Epilogue

 

 

 

 

 

Gabriel was not a morning person. Unlike Castiel, who simply shared Dean’s bed and tended not to sleep at all (choosing the second option of being a creeper and watching his significant other sleep all night), Gabriel liked to sleep. He liked to sleep a lot. Which was why he was just a little pissed when Sam came bounding into the room and jumped on him, actually jumped right on top of him at eight in the morning on a Saturday.

 He gasped, winded as he suddenly received a lapful of Winchester. Heaving in a breath, he opened his eyes and glared up at the Hunter with his best smiting look. “Much as I love it when you sit like that,” he motioned to Sam’s legs on either side of his waist, “Dean has a new rule about sex in the morning.”

 Sam sputtered but didn’t move, frowning for a moment before he leaned down, Gabriel pushing himself up onto his elbows to meet him halfway with a smile and a roll of his eyes, kissing the human hard. Gabriel sighed and tangled his fingers into Sam’s hai to hold him there as he kicked the blankets off of his legs, the larger man shifting so that he could do so. Sam laughed softly, “What was that about Dean’s new rule?”

 “Just be reeeaaaallly quite,” Gabriel smirked against the corner of the other’s mouth, trailing a kiss down Sam’s neck to his collar bone. The archangel sat up and moved his hands down to Sam’s hips, tugging him down so that they were pressed up against each other. He groaned against the collar of the Hunter’s t-shirt.

 “Shh,” Sam practically giggled, rolling his hips when Gabriel pressed closer. He tilted the Trickster’s head up, kissing him and teasing his bottom lip with his teeth, drawing a strangled moan out of the other.

 “I said no sex in the morning!” Dean’s voice yelled up the stairs, and they froze like deer in the headlights until Gabriel choked out scared laugh and Sam obediently rolled off of him.

The archangel grabbed his wrist, putting a finger to his lips and tugging Sam towards the bathroom connected to their master bedroom. They mock tiptoed to the shower and locked the door behind them. Gabriel peeled off each article of Sam’s attire for the day one by one, pushing the Hunter under the hot spray of water and up against the wall, and Sam didn’t complain, laughing softly while Gabriel shushed him with tiny kisses whenever he started.

 “Hey,” Sam asked, his head leaning against the tile wall and his hair dripping, hoping he wouldn’t have a bruise on his back like the last time they’d done this, “It’s slippery in here, you sure you can-”

 Gabriel snorted, his hands on the back of Sam’s thighs, “Hello? Archangel? Now come on Sammy-boy, up.” Sam complied, chuffing out a muffled laugh as he hooked his long legs around Gabriel’s waist.

 “Dean’s going to kill us, you know,” Sam whispered, bracing one hand against the shower wall and gripping the angel’s shoulder with the other.

 “Not if,” Gabriel grunted as he slid into the Hunter in one smooth motion, “He doesn’t hear us.”

 Sam groaned, “Yeah . . . Don’t count on that.”

 “Sammy, half the point of doing it in the shower is the cancellation of noise via the pounding water. And pissing Castiel off about the hot water bill.” He sank his teeth into Sam’s shoulder then, stifling a moan as he thrust into the other.

 Sam however, had always been a bit of a loud one.

 
When they trudged downstairs a half hour later, Dean was glaring daggers at them over the top of his newspaper while Castiel barely looked up from the stove where he was cooking breakfast. Sam nudged Gabriel, “I told you,” he hissed.

 “You are so lucky that bathroom has a lock,” Dean growled, lowering his eyes to the paper.

 “Why, you wanted to join?” Gabriel teased, undeterred by Dean’s threat, “I mean, I’ve been telling Cass for ages that we should totally have a four-way . . .”

 Sam, who had been in the midst of taking a big gulp of water from the glass Castiel had handed him spit it out all over the floor while Castiel frowned and vanished the mess with a wave of his hand. “Wha?” Sam said meekly.

 Gabriel only laughed, throwing himself into the chair across form Dean and leaning on the edge of the table towards the highchair standing at the end, “Good morning, cutie!” he chirped.

 Dean held up his fork menacingly, “You don’t get to talk to my kid after what you did this morning.”

 Gabriel ignored him, picking a slice of fruit of the child’s plastic plate. The little girl was just under twelve months, with hair the same shade as Dean’s and eyes as blue as Castiel’s. It had been rather unexpected for all of them when Castiel had shown up with her egg a little over a year ago, just weeks after Sam had returned from his road trip with Gabriel at his side. At first, Dean had freaked, thinking his poor angel had actually birthed the thing before Castiel assured him that angel eggs were created by their Father, and that the one in question possessed a piece of Castiel’s Grace and a piece of Dean’s soul.

 Sam had said bullshit, Gabriel had confirmed it, and none of them had denied it when she hatched. And Dean, despite his initial protests, had always wanted a family.

 They’d named her Joanna Marie. Gabriel had suggested Joan because he (and Sam) thought she resembled the French heroine more than just a little. Dean had said that was stupid, and they had settled on Joanna after their fallen friend. Gabriel had relented that it was close enough. And Marie for Sam and Dean’s mom, because Mary had sounded odd when said aloud with Joanna, something Castiel insisted on doing every time they tried out a name.

 “I’m her favorite,” Gabriel smirked as Joanna giggled, clapping her hands on either side of his cheeks when he puffed them out.

 “You’re a pest,” Dean muttered, “I liked you better when you were small and cute.”

 “Aw, Dean-o, you think I’m cute!”

 Castiel, who chose to ignore their banter as he did every morning, grabbed the egg carton and turned to Sam, “One egg or two?”

 Sam waved a hand, “No, I’m good. I went to go get a bagel this morning at-” he stopped, whirling and running around the table to grab Gabriel, tugging at his arm, “I almost forgot! Come on, you have to see this! I ran in this morning for a reason!”

 Gabriel stuck out his lower lip as he stood, “A reason other than to have really hot shower sex with me?”

 Dean covered Joanna’s ears and she squealed with glee, thinking it was a new game, “Guys!”

 “Just come on!” Sam pulled at the angel and Gabriel sighed before he grabbed a coat from the back of the door as Sam lead him outside.

 “Where are we going?” the Trickster whined, dragging his feet. It was a ten minute walk to Scholegel’s Bagels, which was where he knew Sam had gone just by observation of habit, and it was cold out.

 “The bagel place!” Sam exclaimed, “There’s . . . oh, just hurry up! You’ll see when we get there!”

 And get there they did, taking an extra five minutes because Gabriel chose to walk as slow as humanly possible if only to piss Sam off. The hunter pulled him to a halt just outside the little breakfast café, stopping in his tracks, “Oh! This is even better!”

 Gabriel followed his line of sight to where a young man of no more than twenty or twenty one was leaning with his back against the fake old bricks of Scholegel’s Bagels. His jacket hood was pulled up over his head and a single earbud rested in one ear, the other tucked into his shirt collar. He looked up briefly as Sam and Gabriel paused a few feet away, revealing blue eyes and dirty-blond hair before he went back to bobbing his head lightly to the music, mouthing the words silently.

 The door to the café jingled open and another man, a bit younger than the other ,stepped out, sweeping back dark hair from his eyes with an amused smirk. His hands moved behind his back to untie the uniform apron he was wearing, “There you are, you prat! I thought you said you were going to come inside and get breakfast before you went to work! I have your usual set aside.”

 The blond looked up and grinned from ear to ear as the younger man stomped towards him, “But your boss says no romance on the job.” He reached over grabbing the other’s wrist and tugging him forward.

 The dark haired man yelped, colliding with the elder, “Arthur!” he sputtered indignantly, “You have to get to work!”

 “And you have to go back to it,” Arthur countered, “Come on, just a little kiss, I won’t tell anyone, Merlin.”

 Merlin’s face turned a nice shade of pink and he leaned up, kissing the blond swiftly, “There. Now go get your breakfast.”

 “Walk me to work?”

A long sigh escaped, the other, and he rolled his eyes, “Fine. I’ll ask for a fifteen minute break, so hurry up!”

 Arthur dashed inside and emerged just seconds later with a paper bag. He linked arms with Merlin and held up his other earbud, “It’s your favorite song,” he tempted.

 “If you say so.”

 Gabriel watched them go in stunned disbelief, turning to Sam, “How . . .”

 “I saw Merlin at the counter, apparently it’s his second week here,” Sam informed proudly, “And I thought you might want to know that you didn’t exactly go wrong with them.

 Farther down the road, Arthur had burst into song, elbowing Merlin into singing backup, “You’re the voice try and understand it! Make the noise and make it clear! Whoa-oh-oh-oh!”

 “They found each other,” Gabriel whispered.

 Sam squeezed his shoulder, “Yeah, they did.”


A/N: DONE! Thank freakin finally. Anywho, just an FYI the things mention in this chapter, like Joanna and Team Free Will's house life is something that will be explained better in the side fic Bookmarks I will have out eventually. I just wanted to add some last bit of Merthur in to wrap it up.