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[personal profile] rosivan
wordcount: ~9100
warnings: none!
summary: Gabriel will always follow after this particular soul, will always make sure it's safe, even if the soul doesn't remember what it once was, or what they once had.

NOTES: I only wrote Gabriel.




Gabriel once set into motion a prank that took twenty years to fully play out - something that was still a very meagre speck of his concepts of time - but watching Sam, his very own Samiel, attempt to save the life of his supposed brother, over and over...and over. Too much. Too close to home, too much for Gabriel to handle.

So he had strawberry jam that morning, because you know what? Fuck it.

And of course, Sam noticed. Sam noticed everything, now, because this was the hundredth Tuesday he'd lived in this town, where everything was the same every day. Of course he noticed, and of course he knew. A Trickster - that was what it was, what it had to be. The only thing cruel enough to fuck him over for this long, purely for entertainment.

He left Dean in the diner with a quick, "Be right back," and caught the guy halfway down the street, whipped him around by the shoulder and shoved him into the chain-link fence surrounding Neilsen's Auto-Lot. "You," he snapped, pressing in harder, crowding the guy against the soaked wooden stake in Sam's hand, hidden under his jacket. "I know exactly what you are."

"Whoa, easy son, I don't know know what you're talking about," Gabriel raised his hands, looking appropriately alarmed and scared. He hated to give up the game right away. "Easy, my wallet's in my left pocket."

Sam snarled, pressing the stake right up under the Trickster's ribs. "You're a Trickster," he hissed, eyes locked on the creature's. "And I'm fucking sick of you jerking me around, so why don't you just tell me what you want."

Gabriel held the terrified face for a little longer, then let it drop. His face melted into his chosen guise, and he shrugged. "This stopped being fun ages ago. So hard to get anything through that freakishly cro-magnon skull of yours."

Sam looked briefly stunned at being faced with the same person; that he hadn't expected. He dug the stake in harder. "You. We killed you."

"Sorry kiddo, gotta get up earlier in the morning to gank me," Gabriel shrugged again, watching Sam's face; he'd always liked the look of surprise on him. Nowadays he wasn't picky to how the look got there.

"But - " Sam glanced down at the stake in his hand, snarled and pulled it back. Obviously it was useless. He shook his head, took another step back, like a colt shaking water from its muzzle. "I don't - How?"

"Mostly because I'm just awesome like that," Gabriel dusted off his collar, smiling smugly at Sam in a way he didn't truly feel. "Look, it's been fun playing 101 Ways to Kill off Dean, but you seem to be missing the point here, Sammy. You can't save him."

"So - what?" Sam snapped. "I'm supposed to watch him die? Just let him go?" He snarled, looking away for a moment, temper flaring and cooling all in one instant. "Newsflash - I've tried it. I can't. I don't care what your point is, I won't watch my brother die."

Gabriel's temper flared, but he let it curl silently under a narrowed smile. "You can, and you will. I tried to make this easy on you, but you know what?" He sighed at Sam and raised a hand to snap his fingers. "Joke's on you."

Sam grabbed for his hand, yanking it down. "I'll save him," he vowed. "I don't lose family. I wouldn't ever abandon family." Something silent and creeping slid down his spine. "I wouldn't."

Gabriel couldn't help himself. He let his fingers drop as if he were letting his guard down and brushed the tips over Sam's skin. "You're lousy at saying good-bye," he said quietly, gaze guarded and tone flat. It was an echo of something he'd once said. This time he added, as part of the lesson, "Get better at it." Gabriel then vanished out of Sam's grip.



-



Sam hunted. He searched up and down, followed every slight indication, pushed himself until he was starving and constantly fatigued. And finally, Bobby found it.
It took him three days to drive what should have taken five, and everything from there was a whirl until he stood over Bobby, staring down at the stake buried in his only remaining family member's back. Icy numb ran down him, through him, chilling his veins, stopping his heart. His murmurings got steadily more frantic, until at last the Trickster revealed himself, smooth as always.

And Sam turned to face him, broken down, at the edge of pleading. "Bring him back," he murmured, staring the creature down. "Bring him back."

Gabriel stared at him, unmoving. Sam was going to learn this, dammit. "He's your weak spot, kiddo. The whole damn world knows it. Nothing good is going to come of this, only blood and pain." He flicked his fingers at the illusion of Bobby's body, irritated with himself as much as with Sam. Gabriel needed to back off, stop speaking from experience. "Just let him go, Sam."

"I can't." Sam clenched his fists at his sides, gaze locked onto Gabriel's. "I can't do this without him, you can bring him back. What do you want? I'll give you whatever you want, I swear."

"You don't get a choice, Sam." Gabriel bit off the rest of the name, angelic on the tip of his tongue. Whatever you want - fuck him, what a promise to make. It made him feel so, so greedy. Gabriel pressed into Sam's space, crowded him against the doorframe and held him there with one hand square against his chest. "You don't seem to get that I'm trying to help your sorry ass. I don't give a rat's ass if you think you can't do it without him, because you will. You will because you have to, it's what happens when your brothers up and leave you, do you understand me."

Something in Gabriel's tone made a fragile thing inside Sam snap, and for a moment he thought he was going to break loose, lose the fragile hold on his temper and his sanity and kill the Trickster with his bare hands, but it took only a moment for him to realize it wasn't rage that was sweeping up through him. It was hot, but not searing, and it spread to every end of his nerves. He blacked out hard, consciousness forcing itself offline as a sweeping wave of memories crashed over him, personality quirks he didn't remember having, conversations he would swear he had never taken part in. It was like watching a movie about himself, and every detail snapped into place with a terrifying clarity that made him shake.

Above all, it was Gabriel that snapped into focus. Not the Trickster - that wasn't what he was. He was one of Sam's - Samael's - brothers. And his lover. The light dancing in the edge of his vision. And Father how he'd loved Gabriel, even above his love for all of Creation. He snapped back into himself under Gabriel's palm, shuddering hard, pushing the other angel away for fear he would lose control of his body. He stood, gasping for breath and glassy-eyed, pressed back against the wall in silent thanks for something solid.

Gabriel watched silently, holding Sam's body upright as his mind loosened and wiggled free of its human limitations. Sam needed to understand, really needed it. Even if it meant bringing back everything that he'd lost. Gabriel wasn't going to let him go through what he had. He was stupidly sentimental that way, dammed if he would mention it.

He let himself be pushed away and was still quiet as the human collected himself. Gabriel listened in on the jumble of thoughts, knew his game, all of his games with Sam Winchester, were over. Whatever Sam was, he also was Samael, now. Samael, but human. Gabriel couldn't sweep him away in all the ways he wanted to, not without breaking him permanently.

Sam's vision cleared slowly, the haze of everything lifting. He forgot to breathe, for a moment, when he looked at Gabriel and remembered who he was without prompting. He stood up, stood straighter, surprised that he could stay upright without the wall's support. "Gabriel."

Gabriel glanced away. "Samael." It still drew a certain warmth through him, saying the name. Suprising. "Pushed you just enough, hm?"

It felt like someone else speaking through him. "You should have known better. You almost broke me. Humans aren't like us, you forget."

A tight smile held back Gabriel's inital remark on Samael's knowledge of what Gabriel did and didn't forget. "Couldn't help m'self," he mumbled instead.

Samael raised one eyebrow. "So you have me. Do you intend to do anything with me or have you split poor Sam Winchester's mind for no reason?"

"Don't get mouthy," Gabriel murmured, his gaze turning sharp. He was in front of Samael in an instant, hand pressed high against his throat. Gabriel stroked the skin there, before sliding a hand down to tug at Sam's shirt. "Couldn't help myself," Gabriel repeated in a whisper against Sam's lips.

Samael inclined his head, slotting their lips in line but leaving space between them, eyes locked on Gabriel's. "I'll get as mouthy as I want, brother," he murmured, pressing against Gabriel's hand, a blatant challenge. He knew Gabriel was far stronger, especially since Samael was contained in human form, but he had always been fiery, hard to contain.

Gabriel squeezed enough to restrict Samael's breathing, but not enough to hurt him. He pressed them into a kiss, soft but unyielding, and stole the rest of Samael's breath away. Gabriel moved away from him when he was done and retreated across the room. He needed to put things back before it was too late.

Samael watched him, breathing ceased. "What are you doing," he said, eyes flicking to Gabriel's legs, watching him pace. His tone wasn't questioning.

"You were reborn into the Cain and Abel bloodline, Samael," Gabriel told him. How far back to go...could he handle another round of Sam's face pleading with him?

"I realize." Samael took a moment to breathe. It was taking vast amounts of control to keep from embracing Gabriel, drawing him in and finding out how well he remembered him. He was terrible at goodbyes, but that did not mean he didn't wish to say them.

"I have to put you back the way you were."

"After you worked so hard to call me out?"

"Only wanted a moment." Gabriel steeled himself and turned to face Samael. The last time he hadn't looked; this time he would.

Samael glanced away, eyes shading over. "That's all?"

"Good bye," Gabriel raised a hand. Scene reset, curtains drawn, take two.

"Wait," Samael snapped, his voice fearsome. "You worked all that time, all that time, for nothing?"

"I shouldn't have done it at all," Gabriel bit back.

"What did you expect from this? From me?"

"It doesn't matter. I'm trying to help your dumbass new self."

Samael stepped closer to him. "Why don't I believe you? You don't do things for no reason, Gabriel. Lest you forget I know you best."

Gabriel shoved him, none-too-gently. "You gave up those cards a long time ago, so stuff it in your ear. This is me helping." His volume escalated without intention. "This is me trying to spare you some heartbreak, but you're freaking clinging to it."

"Oh yes," Samael said softly, head tipped down and voice calm, low. "I'm the one clinging."

"Well it takes one to know one!" He wasn't going to deny it.

Samael huffed out a sigh. "What do you want from me, Gabriel?"

"Say good bye to me, Samael, because I'm putting you back, and you've got to do it right at least once."

"Is that what this is about." Samael raised a hand, slid one long finger along Gabriel's jaw.

Gabriel's gaze narrowed and he barely stopped himself from moving away. "You know me best, you tell me."

Samael pierced him with one of his weird, focused gazes, and held it for damn near half a minute. "You ache. I hurt you. You want me to atone for what I've done to you. And yet you can barely stand my presence."

"Yes," Gabriel breathed, "Yes, maybe just a little," he swallowed, let his eyes flutter shut for a moment, before blinking with sharp clarity. "And really fucking wrong."

Samael swayed back, and toward him again, a simple shift in his weight. "Wrong?"

Gabriel fisted a hand in Samael's shirt, the other smoothing up over his Samael's chest. "I couldn't fucking help myself, Samael. You're not listening."

"Then speak," Samael said softly, leaning into him, lips brushing his temple. "Tell me."

Gabriel shivered with self-restraint, fingers going lax. "I left shortly after you did. Couldn't Fall, I'm not made that way." He then half-quoted himself, "I've never lost interest in you. You never say good bye right."

"You send me away," Samael murmured, and for the first time there was real inflection to his voice, a melancholy, aching tinge. "You always send me away. I never can tell you good-bye, Gabriel, not the way you want. Are you so unsatisfied with me?"

"You chose this," Gabriel said, ignoring the question. "But I can't just." He leaned back, away from Samael. "This one might be your last."

"And if it is?"

"Had to have you for real," Gabriel said blankly. "Just for a moment."

Samael's face softened abruptly. He cupped Gabriel's jaw, fingers curling under his chin. "I miss you, Gabriel," he said, almost too soft to hear. "I do."

Gabriel shook his head. "Don't." His tone was flat, struggling to be detached, "I might not give you back."

"Why do you have to?" Samael was angry, suddenly, with himself and the path he had unwittingly chosen. "My current self - he means nothing to you. Why not have me?"

Gabriel blinked at Samael for a moment. "What."

Samael frowned. "You banish me every incarnation. Why not simply have me? Sam Winchester is dormant."

"This is the first time I've talked to you since you Fell."

"Then keep me," Samael growled. "Do not send me away. Sam Winchester is not needed here."

"You left, I can't keep you," Gabriel snapped, "And Sam Winchester is meant to be Lucifer's vessel."

"You would have the Apocalypse?" Samael raised both eyebrows. "Have you changed so much that you welcome war between our brothers?"

"I welcome nothing but the end," Gabriel said harshly. He pressed a kiss to Samael's cheek and said, "Let me teach you once more, brother. Good bye." Gabriel sealed him away and returned everything back to what it was before he had 'Bobby' stomp in. Gabriel needed a moment to gather himself.



-



Sam woke on a Wednesday, and Dean was alive, and Asia wasn't playing. He lay awake in bed, staring at the same stain on the ceiling that he had seen for the past hundred days, and he knew it wasn't a dream. He glanced at Dean and swung out of bed, padded out onto the small, rust-iron-fenced balcony on the outside of their room in his jeans and t-shirt.

He desperately hoped it hadn't all been a dream. Because if it had, he was about to make himself look like a moron. He dug through his memory for a prayer. "...Saint Gabriel the Archangel, I..." Shit, what was it? "I venerate you as the Angel of the Incarnation - " He broke off. This was ridiculous. "Yeah, fuck that. Gabriel, if that wasn't all a dream and I really have... I really am Samael, I need to talk to you."

A part of Gabriel was startled to feel the faint prickling of a prayer, not because it was one (he got those every day - they generally sort into his junk mail folder, so to say), but because it was directed to him from Sam Winchester. Which meant that Gabriel did a shitty job of packing that kid's brains back in. And it wasn't the 'Angel of the Incarnation' part, no. It the end of it.

Gabriel didn't appear, just hovered between planes enough to mutter clearly, "You call that a prayer?"

Sam snapped round, searching empty air for the angel. "I - no, not really," he admitted, hunching his shoulders in a little. Before, he'd prayed every day. "Where are you?"

"Here," Gabriel said, before slipping into view, leaning against the railing. "You weren't exactly sleeping, were you, kiddo?"

Sam shook his head, slow, his gaze hovering on Gabriel. Of course he hadn't been. "He's...me?" he asked, a half-question.

"You're like the latest layer of colour on a jawbreaker," Gabriel clarified.

That worked over in his mind for a moment. "So I'm - " Sam halted for a moment to gather himself. "But... I'm different. Than him."

Gabriel didn't have a candy metaphor at hand this time. "Well, until I cracked you open, you were him. Sort of. It's a whole Jesus-is-God type thing."

Sam wrinkled his nose. "I don't like him," he said bluntly, and shrugged.

"You don't know him," Gabriel said lightly, dangerously.

"I know him enough," Sam snapped. "He's in my head, remember?"

Gabriel crowded Sam against the railing, his head canting as he looked up at him. "I know precisely where he is. And I like him fine, so shut it."

Sam narrowed his eyes, pushing at Gabriel's chest. "He lied to you. He was trying to trick you into locking me away," he growled. "Why should I like him?"

Gabriel caught Sam's hand and held it tightly. "Look, I don't care if you like him or not, you're not going to remember anyway when I'm done, and you can go back to clinging so hard to your brother that it's gonna destroy you."

Sam's gaze dropped to his hand, trapped in Gabriel's fingers. "You're going to erase my memories?"

"Bingo, kiddo."

Sam thought for a moment. Then, slow, "What can I say to stop you from doing it?"

Gabriel's smile twisted slightly, "Why would you want to keep them?"

"Because - " Sam shook his head, tugged lightly at his trapped fingers. "Because if I don't, who will?"

"If you're worried about someone remembering, I'm on it." Gabriel gave him a Look and belatedly let his fingers go.

Sam shook his head. "Just let me keep them. Just - " He sighed, switched topics. "I - You said something about a vessel. About me as a vessel."

Oh dang. Gabriel had forgotten he'd mentioned that. "Ah. Did I?"

"Yeah. You did." Sam's gaze was steady, if a little wary. "So you - you're really an archangel. And I'm..." He couldn't think of the word.

"A pain in the ass?"

Sam frowned at him. "I'm an angel. But...not."

"No," Gabriel said with absolute certainty. "You're an incarnation of a fallen angel."

"I don't get it," Sam mumbled. "Are we two totally separate people, then?"

"If you were a cake," Gabriel said, "You'd be the cakey top layer and he'd be the cakey bottom layer."

Sam shook off the topic, because the best he could see, he and Samael were both part of one another, and neither wanted to be. He lowered himself to sit, leaning against the balcony railing. "Can I ask you something?"

Gabriel nudged him in the side with the toe of his boot. "Been asking me plenty."

"Just a little more," Sam murmured, circling one hand around the back of Gabriel's leg, holding him there. It was strange; an hour ago - by his time - he'd had nothing on his mind but revenge against this thing, and now he was facing an archangel who had apparently slept with his past self. Sam knew, in weird ways, where Gabriel liked to be touched, and how he liked to be treated, but they were hazy, like sensory memories. It was all very unsettling.

Ever the child, Gabriel pushed at Sam's ribs for a moment, sighing. "Ask your questions three." Sam was being touchy. It wasn't a good sign.

Three. Sam bit his lip. "Do you still love him?"

Gabriel raised an eyebrow, peering down at Sam. "That was a waste of a question," he said, tone implying duh you moron. "Next."

Sam raised his eyes to Gabriel's. "I don't think so," he murmured. "I got an answer."

Gabriel grunted, noncommittal. "If you were listening, you wouldn't have asked." He was fairly sure he'd been pretty blatant about it.

"I was listening. I wasn't sure if it was more love or hate."

Gabriel rolled a shoulder and shrugged. "Got another question or what."

Sam hummed quietly, rolling the question around in his head for a moment. "Would you - When he asked you to keep him, you wanted to, didn't you. You'd rather him than me."

"You're annoying."

"So're you."

"Well it takes one t-" Gabriel stopped abruptly. He'd said the same exact thing to Samael. "Look, I love him, maybe I'd keep him if I could, it doesn't matter." He held up a hand before Sam could speak again, "It doesn't, cause of things you overheard, which is why he's all nicely packed away. Third question."

"Will you come back if I call you?"

That certainly wasn't what Gabriel was expecting. He seriously considered it. "If I'm bored."

Sam's expression was earnest. "I want to talk to you," he said, reaching back and pulling himself to his feet. "Without Samael, I mean, I." He shrugged awkwardly, looked away.

"About what," Gabriel asked loudly. A laugh was barely held out of his voice, but the sound of it lingered in his words.

"Anything."

Gabriel shook his head, pushing away from the railing. "Kiddo, I'm so not Dear Abby."

"So just - " Sam started after him, frustrated. "Come and sit with me for an hour and, I don't know, watch movies or something." He reached out for Gabriel's shoulder, pulled him around sharply. It felt familiar, something squirming in his stomach. It was that same strange him-but-not-him feeling. "Just don't leave."

Gabriel knocked Sam's hand away with a little more force than was strictly necessary. "I've killed your brother a hundred times. You've killed me (so to say) twice. This ain't you, Sammy." He reached out to touch Sam's forehead.

Sam jerked back, slapping his hand away as instinctual fear curled up his spine. "Don't take them from me."

"Why not!" Gabriel demanded. "They're not yours!"

"You gave them to me!" Sam hissed. "And you say Samael's part of me, so these are mine too!"

Gabriel stared at him for a long moment, face pinched in fury. "Fine. You want 'em? Keep them."

Sam's arms crossed over his chest, like he was holding them in, keeping them safe. "You don't have any right to be angry with me," he muttered. "No right at all."

"Maybe you missed the memo, kid, but I'm an archangel and I pretty much do what I want."

Sam hissed and whirled away, a step from heading inside. Some weird ache echoed in him at the thought of Gabriel leaving, but anger overrode it. "Fuck you. You stalk me, try and force me to forget my brother, pull my other self - the one you're in love with - out and then treat me like - " Like what? Like he didn't matter? But Gabriel had called him back. "Like you can't stand being near me."

Gabriel's hand came down heavily on Sam's shoulder, his fingers tight as he forced Sam to turn back. Of all Samael's incarnatons... "At the risk of starting a Jerry Springer fistfight, you don't know me. For all you've got those memories tight in your freakishly large hands, you're not getting it." He let Sam go with a small push, shoving him back against the railing. "I'm not human. You are. You'll never understand certain things, and you'll never feel what we did, because you can't. Even Samael can't anymore. So for the love of whatever floats your strangely aligned boat, understand me when I say I try. To help."

Sam stared at him, partially stunned by the sheer amount of strength coiled in his body, partially a little bit paralyzed by the intensity of Gabriel's voice. "Help? Help with what?"

Gabriel had the feeling that shaking Sam right then would be the equivilent of shaking a newborn baby. He kept his hands to himself....and kick started a volcano somewhere with a relatively low population count. "Help you. Holy fuck."

"Help me with what?"

Gabriel spun away, hands going into the air instead of around Sam's throat. "Did I sunny side up your brain? Was I too kind with one hundred deaths of Dean Winchester?" He trailed off, muttering to himself, "Are we butterflies or men?"

Sam narrowed his eyes at the archangel's back. "You want me to let Dean go to Hell."

"He is going whether you like it or not."

"I can save him," Sam muttered, before he could stop himself. "I can."

"No," and Gabriel was genuinely sorry for it. "You need to let this happen."

"But why?" and Sam didn't care that he sounded petulant. He couldn't.

Gabriel's hands caressed the metal of the balcony railing in place of Sam's face. "When Dean dies and it destroys you cause you're too stupid to let go, who've you got to put you back together?"

Sam turned on him, eyes locked on the back of his neck. "You're not one t-" He drew up short, jaw working for a moment. Oh. Oh. Oh, God. "You," he murmured. "You never let go. And you're trying to stop me from doing the same thing you did."

"You've got a long road ahead of you kiddo," Gabriel told him, glossing over Sam's realization now that the lightbulb had shakily flicked on. He couldn't remember the last time he gave out free predictions of the future, but... "A very long road."

"Are you gonna be there?" Sam asked, words out of his mouth before he'd processed them. It was happening a lot now. "When Dean's - when Dean's dead?"

Gabriel supposed that which time? would be a little to much information. He eyed Sam uneasily, not exactly ready to make that jump. "I'm not a crutch. And I'm not kind."

"You think I don't know that?" Sam muttered. "I think you're cruel and selfish and wild. And dangerous. But obviously you care."

Gabriel nodded, glad Sam understood some things. "Well there you have it."

"So you'll stay."

"I'll be around," Gabriel amended. It wasn't a new development, but Sam didn't need to know it.

Sam nodded, almost to himself. He wanted to reach out; he settled for laying a hand on Gabriel's shoulder. "Will you get Samael back when this is all over?"

"No."

"So why bother with me, then?"

Gabriel gently rolled his shoulder out of Sam's touch. "Can't help it."

Sam blinked at him, once, twice. "I don't understand," he said frankly.

Any reason that Gabriel could give would be counterproductive to his 'help Sam' plans. "Good," he said, "If you did, everything I'm doing would be pointless."

The Winchester's gaze shifted, sharpening. "Is it me? Or is it him?"

"Is what either of you two?"

"Is - " Sam waved a hand between them " - all this helping. Is it because of him, or is it because of me?"

Gabriel slanted a look at him, then said flatly, "He's you."

Sam's jaw flexed. "So you're only here because I happen to be one of his... reincarnations."

"Wouldn't have looked twice atcha otherwise." Gabriel looked suddenly amused, "Don't get a complex."

"So is it still him, or is it me, too."

Gabriel frowned slightly and repeated, "He's you, you're him, does it matter?"

Sam leveled him with a flat stare. "Yeah, it does."

Gabriel made a disgruntled sound. "I look at you and see parts of him. So helping you is the same as helping him."

"No, it's not," Sam snapped. "You said yourself that you won't get him back when this is over. So you get me. Not him. Stop thinking of me as him."

"I don't."

Sam snorted. "Really."

"You seem to think you two are separate," Gabriel muttered.

"I might be him on some level, but I'm not him." Sam sighed, leaned against the sliding door. "I'm a different person, and if you're only here for him, you might as well go."

"You need my help, kiddo."

Sam's eyes narrowed. "I'm not Samael."

"No." It was the other way around, but Gabriel didn't think the distinction would help matters.

"And you know that."

"You're not the first rebirth," Gabriel snapped, tired of Sam's insistience. "It ain't my first rodeo, yanno."

"But I'm not any of them," Sam snarled back. "You look at me like you know me. You don't."
Gabriel turned a 'oh please' expression on Sam. "I do my homework."

Sam tipped his chin up, defiant. "So you think you know exactly who I am because you screwed who I used to be?"

Gabriel's gaze narrowed and he reached a hand up to slide his fingers along the exposed slope of Sam's neck. "All the shiniest bits of him burn bright in you, and every one of you that came before." He dropped his hand away, sighing. "And by homework, I mean I took a peek at your past. And poked at your brain. C'mon."

Sam's eyes slid shut at the touch, and he moved toward it without meaning to when Gabriel withdrew his hand. His jaw flexed as he followed its retreat with his eyes. "How did the other incarnations treat you?"

Gabriel shrugged. "Varied."

"Varied like?"

"I didn't appear to all of them. And some were grouchy. Others weren't."

Sam pierced him with a half-glare. "Any of them want you to touch them?"

Gabriel offered a smirk that curled tight at the edges. What a silly question.

Sam's eyes narrowed again, slower. "You should go."

"You asked me here~"

"And now I'm asking you to leave."

Gabriel's head tipped to the side, examining Sam. "Are you...offended?"

Sam sliced a glance at him. "Should I be?"

"You're acting like I ate your eight-hour roast and then told you I hated it."
Sam turned away, hand on the sliding door's handle. "What exactly do you expect from me, Gabriel?"

Gabriel sighed at him. "I expect you'll you whatever it is you want. You're stubborn dick."

"What do you want me to do?"

"I am not having this conversation again," Gabriel said. "We've done this already. Twice, I think. Go back inside, have your happy funtimes. I'll just get going."

"We've had it twice and I still don't know what you want." Sam whirled, eyes narrowed, shaded over, set of his jaw hard. "I know I have to let Dean go. I get it. What do you want?"

"TO HELP YOU."

Sam flinched back. "I don't get why," he hissed, his every instinct on end. "I've never seen you care about anything until you brought him out. He's gone. So why are you still bothering?"

Gabriel's jaw shifted and then clenched, gaze rock still, "You don't want my help? Fine. Don't call me again."

"I didn't say I didn't. I just want to know what you're planning on getting out of it."

"Nothing."

"Nothing."

"Nothing."

Sam shook his head. "You're going to suddenly stop being selfish?"

"It's cute when you think you understand me," Gabriel felt the need to note.

Sam snapped forward, wrapping a hand around Gabriel's wrist and yanking him forward, then crowding him back into the railing of the balcony until they were pressed chest to chest, sharing warmth. And Christ, Gabriel was like a space heater. "What's this do for you?" he asked, hovering an inch away, Gabriel's eyes fuzzy from the proximity.

"Well, it rumples my shirt," Gabriel managed. His gaze shifted a little.

"And what else?" Sam pressed in a little closer, using his height the same way Samael had, pinning Gabriel there.

"Keeps me from falling over, definitely."

"And?"

"And you're kinda sexy, but I-" Gabriel pushed Sam away, hard enough to send him stumbling back, "Am not to be toyed with. Sam."

Sam caught himself on a section of railing and glared. "What if I want to?"

"It's never occured to you before," Gabriel noted.

Sam blinked and backed away a step, eyes coming back into focus. "...Sorry," he muttered, retreating back to the door.



-



Sam made it three and a half weeks. Dean didn't remember most of Mystery Spot - he remembered stopping there, checking the place out at night and finding nothing, then waking up the next morning to a newspaper headlining stating the professor had been found, slumped over a trash can and completely sauced. So they went on. Tracked down a rogue werewolf outside Dayton, a group of demented witches near Salem (ha), and finally, with no jobs to handle, headed back to visit with Bobby.

Something about not having a job to focus on made Sam squirmy. He'd been considering everything Gabriel had said over the past weeks, rolling it around and around in his head. He didn't know if seeing Gabriel through Samael's eyes had changed his perspective on the guy, but the urge to be around him was certainly new. And the sensory memories, the ones that overlapped with Sam's own. He'd wake sometimes in the middle of the night and for a moment know exactly what it felt like to have Gabriel next to him. Or he'd remember the singing ozone feel of shooting in a wide circle over the Earth, both of them tangled up in unfettered joy. Sometimes it was a little too much to handle.

He waited until after midnight, when Dean was zonked in his room and Bobby had fallen asleep on the couch. The air outside was crisp and cool; he didn't try a prayer this time, just stepped out and said, "Gabriel, you hear me?"

Gabriel had promptly vacationed in Spain after the whole Sam mess, barefooted on a beach somewhere. He hadn't exactly moved from his spot for about a month either, even though it was freaking out the locals.

The tickle of his name brushed against Gabriel's awareness. He ignored it.

Sam sighed, leaned on one of the rusting cars. "Gabriel," he said again, "I need to talk to you. Don't make me start praying."

Gabriel pulled Sam over to Spain and dropped him into a chair beside him, with a beer in hand. "Praying's not exactly a threat, yanno."

Sam's head spun, his vision going blurry for a moment as sunlight seared inward. "Jesus," he gasped, clutched at his stomach - and nearly spilling his beer in the process. He peered at it; it was in Spanish. Of course. He pressed the heel of his free hand between his eyes. "At least warn a guy when you're about to yank him halfway across the world."

"But then you wouldn't have made that face." Gabriel grinned at him, waggling his eyebrows over the tops of his sunglasses.

"Dick." Sam settled back, trying to calm his stomach, and found himself staring up at a thick covering of branches and wide, green leaves. He turned his gaze downward and looked out across the ocean, and yeah, he had to give Gabriel points for style. "Where are we?"

"Bienvenidos a Espana," Gabriel drawled, waving a hand at the sand and water in front of them. "So what's crawling in your brain now, Winchester?"

Sam glanced at him. His voice was quiet and mostly monotone when he responded, "Mostly you."

"How rude," Gabriel said, "I haven't been in your brain for nearly...four weeks."

"You haven't, but you have."

"Eh," Gabriel said with a shrug, sprawling back further into his chair, "What can y'do."

"Well," Sam murmured, "you can start by telling me why you're still hung up on Samael."

"Nah," Gabriel said offhandedly. He sipped his drink without looking Sam's way. "I think I'll pass."

Sam leaned back in his chair, staring out at the sea. "Then tell me exactly why I'm hung up on you."

Gabriel calmly took another sip of his drink. "Not my problem I'm fantastic and desirable."

"Be serious for once," Sam muttered. "Is it because of Samael?"

Shrugging, Gabriel slumped further in his chair. "Probably. Partially, anyway."

"Partially."

"Residual," Gabriel clarified. "Maybe underlying. Introed to your brain, didn't it?"

Sam paused for a moment, staring out at the water. "So none of this is me."

"I wouldn't say that." Gabriel peered at him over his shades. "Am I getting your rocks off, Sammy?"

Sam raised an eyebrow at him. "At this moment? I'll go with no."

"That sounded like a challenge."

"Everything sounds like a challenge to you, love," Sam said sarcastically, flicking the fingers of one hand in a gesture he realized belatedly wasn't his.

"....Right." Gabriel's good cheer was abruptly gone. "Finish your beer, kiddo, and back you go."

Sam slanted a glance sideways. "What?"

Gabriel was determinedly not looking at him. "Unless y'don' want it."

Sam shifted, took a sip of beer. It was good, but not what he was after. He set it in the sand and shifted up to sit sideways, staring at Gabriel's averted eyes. "Gabriel?"

Gabriel grunted at him, questioning, but not really. He already knew he wasn't going to like theis train of thought.

"What's wrong?"

"Wine's better in France," Gabriel told him, as if it was what Sam had asked about. "I'm on the wrong beach."

Sam shifted onto Gabriel's chair, sitting on the edge of it and curling his legs up so he could sit cross-legged, hip pressed to the side of Gabriel's thigh. He didn't say anything, just sat there and watched, eyes locked on the archangel's.

Gabriel's gaze slid slightly, guardedly looking back. He raised an eyebrow. "What."

Sam shrugged. "Nothing. I'm just here."

Gabriel nudged at him with his knee. "I can see that, kiddo."

"Mmhm," Sam hummed. He shifted his eyes away from Gabriel, staring back through the trees, and let the long side of his forearm rest on the angel's knee.

Gabriel eyed Sam and his sudden closeness, and asked, "That's all you wanted to talk about?"

"Mmhm."

"Right. Back you go, then."

"I can't just sit with you?"

"I'm going to France," Gabriel reminded.

Sam quirked an eyebrow at him, one slow smile curling a side of his mouth. "Yeah?"

"....y'wanna come with?"

"You wanna take me?"

"In the manliest fashion," Gabriel purred, and slipped a hand over Sam's forearm. They were off to France in the next moment, a softer transition than when Gabriel had pulled Sam over the first time. They reappeared seated in an outdoor cafe, glasses of wine and desert menus in front of them.

This time it was more of a shift. One moment Sam was sitting, tucked up against Gabriel, and the next he was looking out over half of France. He forwent the menu for standing and staring, hands resting on the wrought-iron balcony railing that kept him from toppling over. "Wow," he breathed, drinking it all in.

Gabriel smiled to himself behind the screen of the menu and examined the list of pastry. When the waiter sauntered over, Gabriel spoke with him quietly, rolling French syllables effortless. He ordered for the both of them and then watched Sam stare out at the view.
Sam came back when the waiter appeared to pour wine, gaze still locked on the sprawling city. Certainly better than the view from his motel room. He scooped his wine glass up and cradled it in long fingers, taking a sip. It'd been forever since he had had wine, Stanford at least. It was good, rich with a bite at the end he couldn't identify. He glanced up as the waiter said something in French and Gabriel responded, voice low. "What'd he say?"

Gabriel watched Sam drink for a moment, his gaze low and smile absent as if he'd forgotten he was letting it curl his lips. He answered after a moment and hummed contently as he sipped from his own glass. "Just small talk." Gabriel was something of a regular at the cafe, but rarely did he bring anyone with him.

Sam watched the waiter sway into the kitchen. The atmosphere was comfortable and quiet, slow in the beat of the city. He turned to look out again. "You can have questions."

"Can I?" Gabriel rumbled, shifting back in his chair. He knew the scenery all too well; he watched Sam instead.

"You gave me three." Sam swung his gaze back to Gabriel's. "Quid pro quo, right?"

Gabriel's smile deepened in amusement. "If I really wanted to know something, I'd just take a looksie."

Sam raised an eyebrow at him, shrugged. "All right then." He folded one leg over the other and looked out again, quiet.

They were silent for a moment, then Gabriel offered, "Would you like three more~?"

A flicker of a smile. Sam stayed turned away, raised his wine glass to his lips. "Since when are you so generous?"

"You think real loud."

"Doesn't mean you have to listen."

Gabriel, truly being generous, informed him, "Everytime I block you out, you do something stupid like dying."

Sam's eyes flicked up to Gabriel's. His eyes narrowed suddenly. "Could you have stopped it? Brought me back?"

Gabriel sighed. "I'm an archangel. I generally do what I want."

"But you didn't."

"I was too late."

Sam ground his teeth. "How were you too late to bring me back?"

Gabriel's gaze went slightly transparent as he tipped his head, staring into Sam. "You were in heaven."

Sam blinked. Everything after Jake was fuzzy, abstract. "I was?"

Gabriel flicked his fingers in assent, looking down for a moment. "Y'come back, you don't get to remember. That's the deal."

Sam hummed softly, took another sip of wine. "My three questions get honest answers."

"Possibly."

"Gabriel."

"Two truths and a lie~?"

"Honest answers. This isn't summer camp."

Gabriel leaned forward, poured more wine into their glasses. "If it were, I call top bunk~" He played with the cork a little before putting it back in the bottle. "Ask away, Sammy~"

Sam met his eyes, scooped up his glass again. "What am I to you? Me, not Samael."

"An interesting bit of finery?" Gabriel offered, mostly serious.

"M'not a china bowl, Gabriel."

"Not that kind of finery, kiddo," the archangel said. "You're Sam Winchester. Stubborn and annoying."

Sam eyed him sidelong. "Then why didn't you send me back to the motel? Why'd you bring me here?"

"What. Just cause you're stubborn and annoying, it means I can't take you places?" Gabriel looked thoughtful for a moment, "Is that the rule?"

"No, that's not the rule. But people don't transport unimportant people across the world to a French diner if they don't like them."

"I've done plenty of extravagant things for people I don't like."

Sam looked square at him. "Do you like me?"

abriel shrugged one shoulder, "Don't wanna smite you."

That was good enough for now. "What'll happen to me at the end of this? I'm still part Samael, right?"

"At the end of what."

Sam shrugged. "Samael's reincarnations. My death? I don't know. The end."

Gabriel shrugged again this time slower, more unsure. "You're more you than you are him. I don't know where your end is."

Sam tilted his head slowly, left it there, raised his glass to his lips again. "He's already had his end?"

"Yes and no," Gabriel allowed.

Of course. Sam sighed at him, shifting to cross his arms. "Don't think I'm just going to stop thinking about this vessel thing you slipped."

"I didn't know you were listening," Gabriel pointed out irritably. He should've known better, but what was done...

"Doesn't mean I'm going to drop it." Sam met his gaze. "I know my Bible, Gabriel. You're saying I'm Lucifer's vessel?"

Gabriel sighed as she reached for his wine again. The waiter returned to set down the desserts and Gabriel spoke once he'd gone once more. "Big bro's gotta wear something, yanno."

"Wear something to what?" Sam said, wary. He eyed the decadent slice of chocolate cake the waiter had set out and picked up his fork, but returned his attention to Gabriel.

"Prom."

Sam slitted his eyes. "In Revelations," he murmured, "a fight between brothers was prophesied. Twins." He pressed his fork into his cake, but left it there. "If Lucifers - If I'm Lucifer, who's Michael?"

Gabriel busied himself with eating cake. He so wasn't going there.

"Gabriel, answer me."

Gabriel chewed the cake slowly and stared guardedly at Sam. "You're not Lucifer. Lucifer wears you. But only if you say yes. You don't need to know who Michael wears."

"Michael and Lucifer are brothers," Sam stressed. "Brothers have to fight." He kicked at Gabriel's leg under the table. "It's Dean, isn't it."

"I'm their brother," Gabriel pointed out, "That mean I'm related to you?"

"I only have one brother, Gabriel."

Wrong, but Gabriel wasn't letting that can of worms spill open. "Then try again, lawyer boy. Your theory's flawed."

One corner of Sam's lips quirked, sly and slow. "You're lying."

Gabriel leaned forward, a bite of cake speared on his fork. "That so?"

"Yeah." Sam leaned in as well, staring him down. "Your eyes give you away."

"And just what did I lie about. Spesifically."

"Dean is Michael's vessel."

Gabriel shrugged, smiling. "Maybe~"

Sam stared at him. "What do you mean, I have to say yes."

"You ever watch Buffy?"

"...No."

Gabriel sighed, muttering about how uncultured Sam was. "How about Star Trek."

"Once or twice? Didn't exactly have a lot of time."

"Geez, kiddo. Gimme something to work with, here. Look, your body's a wonderland, and Lucy needs the key to unlock the door to get there, only you've got the key and the key is 'yes'."

"And if I say yes," Sam said, "what happens to me?"

"Think of what it'd be like to stand under a rocket when it takes off."

Sam's expression closed a little. "I'll die."

Gabriel plucked a pastry off of one of the serving plates. "Eventually. Maybe. Depends on big bro, really. Maybe he'll keep you around cause he thinks you're funny."

Sam blinked, sat back. That was almost a definite yes. He'd either die or he'd be in holy amounts of pain until Lucifer was done with him. "And you're willing to just let this happen to me."

"I hadn't decided," Gabriel said, plainly honest for once. "I was working on the 'letting Dean go' thing first. Which was a flop, bee-tee-dub."

Sam started. "If Dean's going to Hell, how is he Michael's vessel?"

"Google it," Gabriel suggested.

Irritation flashed across Sam's face. "Stop playing with me."

"Stop using me as a crystal ball."

"I've got no one else," Sam protested softly. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do."

Gabriel waved a hand as if to say 'that's life'. "Keep going?"

Sam's throat worked for a moment. "I'm going to die."

"That's a bit melodramatic."

"I'm going to be Lucifer's vessel."

"Oh," Gabriel said shortly, "So you've decided to say yes?"

Sam narrowed his eyes. "You've decided you want me to?"

"No, but sounds like you've decided." Gabriel sighed at him. "Listen, kiddo. I can tell you all sorts of things, but Dad gave you a neato thing called free will, so ultimately it's worth squat."

"And what'll Lucifer do to me if I don't say yes? Sorry for assuming things about your family, but I can't imagine he'll just sit back and let me free."

"Sam." A slightly flux and they were back on the balcony to the Winchester's motel room. "You are a dinosaur talking about steam engines. You have a fuckload to do before you even get anywhere near there, so take it easy."

Sam sighed, swaying with the change. "What do you want," he asked after a moment. "And don't say to help me. What else."

Gabriel held up a pastry to Sam's mouth, ready to shove it at him if necessary. "I want you to stop asking so many damn questions. Seriously, google that shit."

"So if I tell you to leave and never come back, you won't care."

"I'll cry myself to sleep each night," Gabriel said, amping up the puppy eyes.
Sam backed a step away. "I'm serious."

Gabriel pushed the pastry closer. "Eat this. You didn't even have one."

Sam's hand lashed out before he could stop it, long fingers wrapping around Gabriel's wrist and yanking him in close. "If you're not going to give me straight answers then fuck off, love," he hissed dangerously close. "I don't appreciate being toyed with."

Gabriel twisted his wrist an an impossible angle and gripped Sam's arm tightly. The pastry smushed between their skin, ruined. "I have given you far too many answers today, so don't be greedy."

Sam stared down at him, eyes aflame. "If I'm your entertainment, I want nothing to do with you."

Gabriel stared back up at him, unbowed. "You are a child who can't get in the cupboards. Get a sense of humour, get wikipedia, and if you want nothing to do with me, fine. I'll vanish so thoroughly, you'll wonder if I were simply a dream."

"I just want to know what you want from this whole ordeal." Sam's hand tightened, seemingly of its own accord.

Gabriel ripped his hand away, expression twisting in frustration. "Stop asking me that. I don't want."

"Everyone wants." Sam pressed in on him. "No - I don't have to ask. You want Samael. You can't stop following his incarnations because you want him back."

Gabriel rushed Sam, hands fisting in the fabric of his shirt, pulling him down to his height just as he was shoving him back against the rail. The force of the push made the metal creak, and Gabriel wasn't letting up. "That's enough. You don't care what I want, you just wanna hear me say it. You just want to hear that I want my brother, my lover back, and that I want to steal him away from you, and destiny, and fuck everyone." Gabriel pressed harder, as if he could somehow imprint his words into Sam by sheer force. "I love him, more than you can process, or understand or imagine. I want to be at his side, despite his decision, and there I will remain until his soul scatters to dust or he returns to heaven, whatever his final incarnation may be."

Sam felt his a rib or three crack under the force of Gabriel's hands, and he cried out, hand wrapping around the angel's wrist. When they were both silent and panting, Sam staring at Gabriel and waiting for the strange mist to ebb away from him, he pressed his free hand flat to Gabriel's chest and pushed gently, moving him back so Sam could stand. He hesitated, hovering there for a moment. Then, softly, "I'm sorry."

Gabriel leaned forward, his expression blank, and pressed a gentle kiss against Sam's mouth. He wasn't so forgiving as so fix his ribs, but Gabriel did murmur, "Good bye."

"No, don't - " Sam caught his wrist, much gentler, pulled him close. "Don't."

Gabriel made a face, but stilled. "Sorry, kiddo. Not gonna fly."

Sam maneuvered them, leaned against him. "Gabriel..."

Gabriel turned his face away. "Go back to your brother. He's onna clock, and you know you want him to stay."

With a soft sigh, Sam slid his hand up the length of Gabriel's back. "Come back," he murmured. "Promise you'll come back."

It was all too easy to lean into Sam's touch for a moment and pretend it could be that easy. Gabriel slipped away without saying anything, simply vanishing out of Sam's arms.



end.

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