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[personal profile] rosivan
Wordcount: ~12000
warnings: whumpy!Gabriel, French!Gabriel, appearances by Lucifer, rage management issues
summary: Young Gabriel climbs the castle gate to fetch a rose for Kali and ends up being captured by the man with the dark eyes. Sam saves him, but Gabriel is then trapped within the Castle under the conditions of the curse that plagues Sam.

NOTE: I only wrote Gabriel.

Through the mist in the woods there was a castle that no one ever visited, overwrough with ivy along it's walls and iron gates. At one time it became a dare - climb the fence, make your way across the grounds, and pick a rose from the garden. In the daytime it was easy enough, your friends huddled whispering at the gate, someone racing through the overgrown hedges, everyone made it home safely, hearts thudding and giddy.

There was a sliver of moonlight that night, Gabriel small and quick as he dug his hands and feet into the ivy, moving up the wall. Baldur dared him to pick a rose at night. Gabriel said he'd race him for it. Now, the wolves were howling and Gabriel was alone, swinging one leg over the wall to prove that he should have Kali's heart - that a coward like Baldur couldn't even make it up the wall, let alone return with the precious flower.

The fairytale began like others. Once there was a prince, and he lived in a far castle, towering above a small town. Of course, it didn't end like others. According to legend, the prince hacked off a witch, and he was cursed - spend half his days as himself and half his days as an evil shade. A charmer, a demon. He was given a rose, imprisoned in a glass case, and was left sixteen petals, one for each year. Sixteen years to find someone to love him.

Over time, the prince grew bitter and withdrawn. He shut off his castle and fired his staff, and lived alone, never to be seen again.

Sam really hates the kids that climb over his fence, but Lucifer hates them more. Sam's dislike is more like envy; Lucifer's is murderous. He's sick of the little brats infringing on his territory, stealing his space. And when he sees one at night, finally, he makes his move.

He lets the little creature stalk his way across the grounds to the gardens, lets him crouch down to pick a rose, and in that instant he melds out from the shadows, snarling. He grabs the youngling's arms, pins them to his sides, and hisses in his ear, "Look what's for supper."

Gabriel's shaking, afraid, so fucking afraid, because Baldur didn't follow him, because there's no one out here except him and the wolves...and this man. But Gabriel has his pride, his stupid ego, and he forces out, "Not hungry, thanks."

"Oh no," Lucifer murmurs, and licks Gabriel's ear. "But I am." He grabs the kid and hauls him up bodily, trapping flailing limbs in an iron grip. It's more for amusement than anything, for now. He's sick of the little creatures scrambling around his yard. Maybe he can get some good screams from the kid when he flays off his skin.... His sharp hearing picks up shouts, and he turns, snarling into the darkness, and shoves the door open, backing inside with his find clutched tightly in his arms.

"Damn, damn," Gabriel swears, thrashing in the man's hold. His legs kick every which way, pushing against him, finding a way out. "Let me go!"

"Oh, I don't think so." Lucifer tightens his grip enough to feel bones crunch, just a little. Not enough to break, but enough to hurt. He kicks the door shut, turns immediately down and heads for the dungeon. The cells are dusty from disuse, but they're small enough that he can shove the kid in one and locks the door, smirking through the bars. "I'm going to have lots of fun with you, little one."

Gabriel gasps as he's squeezed, tears embarrassing at the corners of his eyes. They're going deeper into the castle, down into the darkness, and a sense of dread trickles in. When he's sprawled on the floor, stumbling away from the bars, Gabriel glares at the man through the bars, swallowing hard. "They'll send people to look for me."

Gabriel manages not to whimper, but only because his voice died completely in his throat. He makes himself small against the wall, eyes flickering away from the man's.

"You shouldn't have come up here, little one," Lucifer purrs, and then he stands and clicks away, back up the stairs. The door slams and he locks it behind him, heading for his chambers - and then, on second thought, heads for the back entrance. He has a few hours left before sunrise, a few hours left in this shared body.

He feels like having a little fun.

Gabriel's on his feet almost immediately, waiting until the echo of the man's footsteps had faded away. There's a window, just a little one, but it's too high up for Gabriel to reach, and he doubts he'd be able to fit through it anyway. The bars are equally unyielding, and despite being a cell in an unused castle, the walls are firm, stone and packed close, no bricks wiggling or shifting to give Gabriel hope.

Lucifer hunts for the majority of the night. His prey varies: a bear, a homeless man on the edge of the village, a wary fox. It's fun, pure and simple, and it makes his other self scream. He arrives back at the castle in the morning, just in time for his body to wrangle out of his grasp and collapse. A moment later, Sam is there, pushing against and over him, reclaiming. And then Lucifer is gone.

Sam stumbles upright, hand pressed to his forehead. A pounding headache threatens to overwhelm him, and he groans at it, willing it away. He's exhausted.

The night isn't easy, and Gabriel spends some time raging, yelling and screaming for help he know won't start looking for him until at least the morning. There's nothing in his pockets except a coin his father gave him, a crushed violet from Kali's bouquet that morning. ...the previous morning. Gabriel falls into a unsteady sleep, propped in the corner and waking at every small sound.

When he's got breakfast and tea in him and he feels remotely like himself - and not like Lucifer - Sam decides to try and venture down to where his "prisoner" is. He's in a tight spot with this one. The kid's seen him, will no doubt run off and tell everyone what horrid, mean monster is living in the castle in the woods. Sam's seclusion spells can only work for so long. But he can't let Lucifer harm the poor kid.

He sighs and yanks the basement door open, heads down, bare feet on cold concrete. He calls out ahead of him, trying not to scare his impromptu guest. His voice, when he speaks, is slightly accented. Irish, maybe. "Hullo?"

Gabriel remains silent, not so stupid as try asking to be let go. It's clear the man won't let him. He stands, still pressed still against the wall, farthest away from the cell door as he can be. He aches, all over from being locked in there all night, sitting on the hard floor.

Sam sighs; Lucifer gave the poor thing a hell of a fright. He steps up close and hunches his shoulders, peering into the cell. His voice is a pitch higher, his words soft and rounded with accent. "I won't hurt you."

"Putain de merde," Gabriel hissed at him, not moving an inch. "You think I am stupid?"

"Not stupid," Sam murmured. "No, if you were stupid you would have begged for your release the moment I entered this dungeon. But you didn't." He leaned against the bars. "Can you not tell I am not the same one who captured you?"

"Your face is the same," Gabriel muttered distrustfully. If he could have moved farther away, he would have. "You will not catch me twice."

Guilt stabbed at Sam; over and over he'd had this happen, had watched Lucifer torture some poor creature before his eyes, had been unable to save it. "I don't intend to." He lowered himself to sit, watching the boy. "Your name?"

"Is mine," Gabriel said. He was pushing his luck, would probably be punished for it later. Demons were not always vicious. In some stories they charmed with smiles and then ate you.

"Clever, I see. Mine is Sam." Sam's voice dipped a little, soft. "If I explain to you, will you listen?"

"You mean to ensnare me," Gabriel assumed, fingers pressing against the wall, a nervous fidget.

Sam blinked at him, long and slow. "How? I am no demon."

Gabriel crossed his arms, raising an eyebrow. "Hnh."

"Look..." Sam sighed and crossed his legs, resting his elbows on them. "What happened last night was... an unfortunate accident. You met someone I'd rather not have anyone met."

"So you will let me go," Gabriel said flatly, not believing he would for a moment.

Sam twisted his lips. He should. He... he was bitter, twisted, not - good company for anyone. But - "I can't," he whispered. "I am sorry, I can't."

"Then why you come here to me?" Gabriel asked, shifting further into the small corner. "I will not give, and you will take, I think. Sam, who is not a demon."

"You would send them after me," Sam murmured. "At one point in time or another, you would lead them to my place and you would destroy me."

"I will not pity you," Gabriel said lowly. "No more than I pity men when their birds bite them."

Sam's voice was soft. "You have a family to go home to?"

"I have many things," Gabriel said harshly. "None of them here."

Sam bowed his head, pain writ across his face. "I am sorry," he whispered, anguished. "I am sorry to rob you of these things. It was never my intent, please."

Gabriel looked away - he would not be sympathetic and wouldn't let himself entertain the idea. "Keep your apologies," he muttered, "They taste of ash."

The pain doubled. Sam wanted to lash out at him, to hurt him because he had hurt Sam, but he held himself back. He wouldn't let Lucifer take him just yet. He rose to his feet instead and went swiftly up the stairs and to the kitchen. Bread, butter, fresh-caught fish from the day before, grapes. He wrapped the food in a towel and returned to the cell. One hand carefully extended, he pushed the wrapped food into the child's cell and stepped back, eyes on his guest.

Gabriel eyed the bundle and then Sam, his mind churning with suspicions. He carefully bent to take it, not moving any closer than he had to in order to snag the edge of the cloth between his fingertips and tug it closer. He returned to the far wall to examine it.

Sam watched him, working it out in his head. Lucifer would harm him tonight - or perhaps not, not if he took a liking to the boy. He had never taken a liking to the others. But this one... Sam liked this one, inexplicably. He settled against the far wall to give him room, and then said softly, "The one who took you was Lucifer." His hand pressed to his heart. "He is a burden I carry."

Gabriel had decided that if the food was poisoned it would be a quicker death than the one he was likely fated for. Perhaps Sam was being kind in that way. He picked at the grapes. "I do not understand," Gabriel said, clearer than anything else he had said to him - it was the first thing he learned in English.

"He is - " Sam paused. He didn't want Gabriel to know about the rose. About the love. That was... That was impossible to speak of. "He is my curse. He shares my body."

Gabriel choked a little. "You - possede. No?"

Sam bit his lip. "That is accurate. But at night only."

Gabriel nodded, biting into the fish, over the bread. "So, tonight, you will visit me again, then. You will not be so kind." The food wasn't poisoned, then. He would have a slow death if he did not escape.

The boy was smart, smarter than Sam had hoped for. "Perhaps. I am hoping he takes a liking to you."

"I would be a poor toy," Gabriel informed him. "A poorer pet."

Sam's gaze turned simultaneously wary and sympathetic. "The choice is not as a pet," he murmured. "The choice is life or death. Should he take a liking to you, he will perhaps leave you alone for me to speak with. If he... if he takes interest..." Sam shivered, remembering what those who Lucifer was interested in became of.

Gabriel had finished the food in the bundle and was folding and refolding the napkin in various shapes. "He already has interest, I think." I'm going to have lots of fun with you, little one.

Sam nodded morosely. "Yes. It appears he does." He sighed and stood, retrieving keys from the pocket of loose slacks and unlocking the kid's cell. "You're free to roam as you please."

Gabriel scrambled to his feet again, back against the stone. The door being unlocked was like a trap, too sweet to come so soon. "So he may chase me again?"

"He will not return until the sun sinks below the horizon." Sam gestured. "It is barely dawn."

"But after?"

Sam's gaze slid to the ground. "I suggest you conceal yourself. Without telling me where. He will use my information against you."

Gabriel didn't find the downcast gaze convincing even though Sam's words seemed honest. "You think I will not leave?"

"You can't," Sam whispered, voice barely audible.

"I am clever," Gabriel tapped the side of his head, mouth twitching in a halfhearted smile.

Sam's smile softened a little. He stepped aside to let Gabriel out. "I can see. You can feel free to try any way you can think of to leave."

Gabriel didn't follow immediately, sliding along the cell wall. "You think I will not do it," he observed, inching towards the door.

"No, I think you will. You are clever." Sam didn't move, his muscles relaxed, shoulders turned at an angle meant to be nonthreatening.

"Non, you think your bird won't figure out locks," Gabriel said, kicking out to nudge the door open. "Not that he won't bite at it."

"There are no locks," Sam responded, voice just as soft. He felt the rage rise in him, the anger for no reason. Perhaps simple lack of dealing with rational people. "There is nothing physical to keep you from leaving me." Your bird.

"Nothing physical," Gabriel repeated softly. He slid out of the cell, quickly backing up against the wall that led away from Sam.

Sam took a step back, hands raising slowly. "I won't harm you. I swear that to you."

"Keep your promises also," Gabriel told him. "Your demon will break them." He turned and ran, rushing up the stairs as quickly as he could, seeking his freedom.

That was true - there was nothing Sam could say to the contrary. He sighed and shut the cell door, heading at a slower pace up the stairs. He wanted time alone, time to reconvene and bring his thoughts together, but he had been through this drill twice before. Not with someone quite so interesting as his current guest, however. He needed to speak to Gabriel, calm him down. Explain.

The castle was a blur off hallways and doors, and by the time Gabriel found a door that led to the grounds, he was short on breath and anxious. He couldn't remember the path he'd been taken along the night before, and everything looked the same, so unfamiliar.

Gabriel swung the door open, a servant's entrance, and surged forward- only to rock back on his feet, as if he'd hit something substantial. He stumbled back, swearing, and tried again to the same result.

The candelabra from the table in the hall sailed right out the door and into the dirt. It was only Gabriel who could not leave. "Sorcellerie," he gasped, reaching out to push against the nothing that contained him. Perhaps it was the demon's power that would not let him leave.

Sam found Gabriel staring wide-eyed at the back servants' entry, staring at a candelabra he'd obviously thrown outside. "It's just you," he said softly, coming to stand in the doorway. "It keeps you, just as it keeps me."

"But you took me last night," Gabriel murmured, hands pressed to the open air as if there were glass over it. "By the roses."

Slowly, with measured steps, Sam came to Gabriel's side and pressed his hand into the solid air. "That was not me."

Gabriel could see Sam straining against the...barrier. They were indeed both prisoners. Only, Sam was a prisoner of two prisons. "I will find a way," Gabriel decided, turning away from Sam and starting slowly back down the hall. "There must be a way."

"There is no way," Sam said quietly, turning to follow him. "I have spent years, little one, years trying to escape this place, escape him."

"There must," Gabriel told him flicking a hand in the air as he opened doors, looking inside them. "Something you could not find, something needing smaller, or more." Upset, he was losing his grasp on English, making his sentences as basic has he could.

Sam came up behind him, rested broad hands on his shoulders, surprised at how fragile the boy felt. "You should never have come to this place," he said softly, sadly.

Gabriel shrugged him off violently, spinning to look up at him, glaring with tears in his eyes. "Do not!" He took off running again, needing to just get away.

Pain shot through Sam. This was going to end the way the other two incidents had, he could see it. He slumped down, sitting curled against the wall, and if he imagined Lucifer laughing in his head...

He gave Gabriel until noon and later before looking for him again, this time with a sandwich made with bread and a soft, garlicky cheese. More grapes, nuts. With the food wrapped up, he set out to look for his new roommate.

After exploring feverishly the entire morning, flinging open windows and doors, closets and cupboards, anything that opened and he could fit through, Gabriel stopped. He sat crosslegged on the floor leaning against the foot of a bed. Only for a moment, he told himself, working his fingers through his hair, combing it out of the leather noose at his nape and letting it drape freely. Only a moment...

Sam found the boy in one of his many bedrooms, slumped down and sleeping with his head leant to one side, hair spilling down over his neck. He lingered in the doorway, eyes sweeping up and down Gabriel's form, examining him. It wasn't possible for there to be more than sixteen, seventeen years in that body, unless he was naturally small. "Little one," he murmured, coming to kneel at the boy's side. He touched the boy's shoulder. "Little one. Food."

Gabriel stirred, sleepily alarmed until he saw the softness in Sam's eyes. Even then, he straightened, back hitting the foot of the bed solidly. "Je ne pas petite," he muttered crossly, raising his legs between them. He rubbed his forehead, mouth twisted and miserable.

A real, honest smile. "You are smaller than me." Sam raised his fingers and brushed Gabriel's bangs aside. His forehead was warm. Sam's lips twisted, displeased, but he pressed the bundle of food into Gabriel's hands. "Eat, and you should rest."

"I still have the day," Gabriel mumbled, fingers unfolding the cloth he'd been handed. Quieter, "I think many are smaller than you."

"But you may not have the night." Sam dropped down to sit, turning until his back was to the foot of the bed and he was sitting beside Gabriel. He let out a soft, halfhearted laugh. "Yes, perhaps many are."

Gabriel offered Sam some of the grapes he'd been brought, a reluctant truce. "I am named Gabriel," he said softly.

Sam glanced down at him, surprised, and gently took one of the grapes, left the rest in Gabriel's hand. "An angel's name."

"My mama named me so," Gabriel said. The bread and cheese was eaten quickly, soft and comforting. He slid the handful of nuts into a pocket for later, should there be one.

Right. Gabriel had a family. Sam dropped his head into his hands, sighing quietly. "Your mother must be a very beautiful woman, if you bear her likeness."

"Papa says this is so," Gabriel confided, hesitating before explaining, "I know her only in my heart. I lived when she did not."

"Oh," Sam murmured. "I am sorry. She died in birth?"

Gabriel folded the cloth neatly, setting it on Sam's knee. "Angels carried her away."

Sam rested his hand on the scrap and stayed silent for a long while. At last he said, "I truly am sorry you have come to this place. It is not a punishment you deserve."

Gabriel worked his way through the grapes slowly, chewing thoughtfully. "Perhaps angels will take your demon away."

A small, wry smirk. "I appreciate your optimism, and I wish it were the case."

"They hear wishes, too." Gabriel looked out at the sun, judging how much time he had left.

"Not mine," Sam said, in a voice so soft it could barely be heard. He followed Gabriel's eyes. "Another six hours, I think."

"All wishes," Gabriel said, touching his fingers to Sam's knee, light and quick.

Sam glanced down at him. "If they cared for my wishes I would not have to watch those who venture here suffer under the hands of one who wears my face."

"Perhaps there is somethng you must do," Gabriel suggested offhandedly. "I do not know the minds of angels. I only talk." Six hours. He could linger a little longer before finding somewhere to hide away.

"Not I," Sam responded. "But yes, there is something." He brushed Gabriel's bangs away from his forehead again, commented, "You are feverish."

Eyes dropping to look at his knees, Gabriel murmured, "I am fine."

Sam fretted briefly. A sick companion was not a good thing. "Ma cherie," he murmured, "You are not."

Gabriel batted at Sam's hand, frowning at the endearment. "I am not a girl," he protested.

Sam smiled, his eyes warming to soft hazel. "Mon cher," he obliged. He shouldn't get attached. Gabriel was not likely to survive the night. "Listen." He touched Gabriel's shoulder. "If you - ah. If you continue to stay with me, there is one place I must ask you not to go."

Gabriel would've protested again, but at least it was the masculine form. "Where is it?" He had an instant curiosity about this forbidden place.

Sam gave him a dry glance. "In the tower. My study." His gaze hardened. "Do not go there."


"You ask too many questions, cherie."

Another frown. "You are not enticing to stay out. Ma bichette."

Sam snorted. "Stay out," he said, tone serious. "Or perhaps it will not be Lucifer you shall need to fear."

"I see," Gabriel said, turning to peer at a painting on the wall. What a lousy reason. Perhaps he would look anyway.

Irritated and with no other option, Sam hissed, "If you venture to that room I will kill you."

Gabriel's jaw tightened and he stood. "A hobby you and your demon will have together." Six hours to go. He'd better find a good place to hide for the night. Gabriel moved past Sam to leave.

Sam stood and reached for Gabriel's shoulder, held him in place. "Make no mistake: I do not wish to harm you. I quite enjoy your company. But that place is forbidden." He locked eyes with Gabriel, held his gaze. "Please don't go there."

Gabriel shook him off, backing away to the door. "Perhaps you keep your heart in there - so afraid to let people see." He never did know when to shut up.

All Sam's muscles stiffened, his breath catching hard in his throat. He whirled and strode to the balcony doors, one hand raising to press, open-palmed, to the glass. Gabriel didn't realize how right he was, and that only made it worse.

The reaction was swift enough that Gabriel could see he'd guessed right. Perhaps Sam kept a lover there - someone sick or dying. Maybe trapped in a spell, like they were trapped in the castle. Gabriel slipped out of the room, went and looked for somewhere to hide.

Sam didn't look for Gabriel again. The less he knew about the boy's hiding place, the less Lucifer knew. He instead retreated to his study for the remainder of the day, watched the sun sink below the horizon. Felt his last shuddering moment of control before Lucifer yanked it from him, flowing seamlessly into his body and stretching like a cat, claiming it as his own.

The first thing he did was look for his erstwhile prey.

Gabriel's first thought was maybe to hide in the kitchen, but there were far too many sharp things there for him to feel comfortable, and he was only a farmer's son. He could handle a sickle, maybe. Ultimately, Gabriel found himself a small space in the library, tucked in a shadowed nook between book stacks.

It took Lucifer an hour of prowling to find Gabriel. The little thing had left the library door slightly ajar. Barely an inch, but enough to invite Lucifer. With silent steps, he slipped inside and began to systematically check every square inch of possible hiding space. And when he finally found the kid, he crouched down outside the nook, slow, predatory smile lighting on his lips.

"Hello, little one."

An hour. One heart pounding hour. I wasn't even dark as ink outside yet, not even dark as the demon's eyes. "Monsieur," he murmured, blinking down at his knees.

Lucifer laughed, dark and rich as chocolate, and reached in to cup Gabriel's jaw, long fingers cradling it as he tilted the boy's face upward. "You have been waiting for me, no?"

A muscle in Gabriel's cheek jumped and he jerked his chin away. "Been waiting for the sunrise," he said.

Undeterred, Lucifer gently took Gabriel's jaw in his fingers again, this time with the press of his fingers, as though reminding Gabriel that his neck snapping was a very very real possibility. "Too bad," he murmured, leaning in close. "I've been waiting all day for you."

"Hm," Gabriel said, throat bobbing as he swallowed nervously. His fingers were white, pressed tight to the walls of the shelves surrounding him.

"The scent of your fear is overwhelming," Lucifer purred, and fisted his hand in Gabriel's shirt, pulling him out as he retreated, forcing the human to stand. "Why are you so frightened?"

Gabriel gathered enough nerve to stare up into his gaze. "I am not afraid," he lied.

Lucifer smiled and leaned down to lick across Gabriel's lips. "You taste of it, too," he whispered, lips finding the boy's ear. "So delicious."

Gabriel didn't bother to suppress a shudder, turning away as much as he would allow. He tried to jerk away.

Grip like steel, Lucifer pulled Gabriel closer, nipping the lobe of one ear. "I think we should get to know one another better," he said, almost conversational. "Don't you?" He snatched the boy up and tightened his arms around him, caging him in again as he left the library, heading back for the main hall.

Gabriel grunted, shifting so he could breathe better. "Why do you carry me?" He asked, annoyed as he watched the carpet race by beneath him.

"It's only proper," Lucifer responded, nudging the door to the dungeon open. He set Gabriel on his own feet and pushed him back inside, locking the door. "You stay," he purred, eyes raking down Gabriel's body. "I'll only be a moment."

Gabriel crossed his arms over his chest, fingers fisting in the fabric of his linen shirt. It was the same cell, the same trap. He shook a little, dispairing, he'd been let out.

Lucifer returned with chains slung over his shoulder and a sheathed knife tucked under the band of his pants, at his hip. He let himself into the cell and seized Gabriel's wrists in an ironclad grip, forcibly brought him around and chained him to the bars of the cell, arms raised above his head. Chained at the wrists and ankles, Gabriel was caught, and Lucifer reveled in the sight.

Gabriel had fought when the chains appeared, but the demon was too strong for him, overpowering easily. Arms above his head he clenched his jaw, lifting his chin defiantly. Whatever pride he could retain, Gabriel would claw for it.

The knife glistened as Lucifer unsheathed it, running his fingers along the blade. He lifted it to Gabriel's cheek, made a shallow cut that followed his cheekbone. "What did he tell you about me, my little one?"

Gabriel hissed, fingers wrapping around the bars above him, eyes squeezing shut for a moment. He glared up at the demon and did not answer.

Lucifer smirked, licked the blood dripping down Gabriel's cheek. "I know what he said," he whispered, close and threatening. "He said I'm his demon, didn't he? His curse."

"You like to plague him," Gabriel accused, looking away. He did not want to see Sam's face attached to the demon's cruelty.

Long fingers wrapped around Gabriel's jaw, holding him still. "I am no demon. I am him." He smiled, leaning close. "All those little dark desires he keeps in the back of his head."

"You are distinct," Gabriel said, eyes flickering down.

"Yes," Lucifer said, making another shallow cut under the first. "He hides his demons so well."

Gabriel blinked rapidly, eyes watering from the pain, unfamiliar. "Are you trapped here too?"

Lucifer snickered. "Not quite." He made a third cut, deeper, lapped the blood when it flowed. He slid the knife down to Gabriel's collarbone, traced it with the tip, bold red blood line mirroring the bone underneath.

Gritting his teeth against the next cut, Gabriel breathed out harshly, just a touch away from making a noise he didn't want to give up. He swallowed a plea for him to stop.

"What's wrong," Lucifer hummed. "Waiting for your Sam to come and save you?" He tapped his temple with the hilt of the knife, grinning. "I am Sam." He dug the knife in deeper, under Gabriel's collarbone, exploiting the sensitive skin there without a hitch, slicing down and across, blade dipping dangerously into the dip where the bones met.

Gabriel did cry out this time, pressing back hard against the bars to get away. "No!" He gasped, not a plea for his life, but trying to focus on the conversation, on something other than the liquid hot kiss of the knife. "Neither of you will help me," he said. Gabriel had seen that much in their day together.

Lucifer chuckled. "Oh, he'll try. Hopeless... bleeding heart..." He cut another line, twisting the knife in his hand, tracing through pale flesh.

Gabriel squirmed, letting his chin drop to his chest. Could he...bargain? He didn't know what other kind of amusement the demon would want...he wasn't sure if he would want to know.

Leaning in close, the demon breathed, "What's wrong, little one?" He nipped the shell of Gabriel's ear, licked the lobe.

"What's in the tower," Gabriel asked faintly, breath hitching.

"So curious, even when you know the consequences..." Lucifer dug the knife into the soft joint at Gabriel's shoulder, slipping it under his collarbone and pressing it slowly in, one centimeter at a time. "I'll leave that for Sam to tell you, little one." He smirked and shoved the knife all the way through, took a step back. "Unless you bleed to death."

Gabriel screamed, short and cut off abruptly when he swung forward against the chains, his knees weak. When he could see again, vision fading back into focus, he spat at the demon's feet, whispered, "You protect him? Or is your secret too."

Lucifer laughed, that same rich, dark sound. "Protect him? Hardly. This secret is eating his heart out, and I like it that way."

Gabriel made a long, low noise as the knife jostled in his shoulder when he moved. "What will you do with me, demon?"

"I think I'll leave you here," Lucifer murmured, stroking down Gabriel's jaw. "And let Sam work himself up over you. Let him fall a little..." He grinned, mad and wide. "And then I'll take you from him."

Gabriel stared at him, nodding as it had been confirmed, "I am a toy to you."

"No." The demon tilted his head. "You are my chance." He stroked down Gabriel's bleeding cheek and licked his fingers clean. Slammed his foot into the bars and knocked the door wide open, and slammed it shut equally as forcefully, making no effort to pay attention to Gabriel's comfort. He locked the door, trailed his fingers down the back of his captive's neck. "You will break him." Without another word, he turned, heading up the stairs.

"I'll do no such thing," Gabriel muttered to himself, turning to take the knife blade between his teeth, pulling it out each careful inch until it dropped, clattering to the floor. He had to rest after that, breath rasping and dizzy, before letting his weight drop free, twisting his hands against the metal cuffs, even when they cut into his skin.

Lucifer hunted again, slaking the thirst he'd worked up for a kill with creatures of the night. He was silently gleeful: Sam would be miserable the next day, and for many more days - as many as Lucifer wished.

At the first brush of sunrise he returned, blood-streaked and sated - for the moment. He dropped away and let Sam slide into place as sunlight began to pour into the main hall.

Gabriel was hanging unconscious by one wrist when sunlight slipped through the tiny window. Unfocused below him was a pool of dripped blood. His heartbeat was a distant thump in his ears and Gabriel closed his eyes again, blocking it out.

Sam hurried down the stairs to the dungeon, taking them three at a time, long legs eating up the ground. He slammed into the floor, grabbed his keys and shoved the right one into the padlock. He had to stop himself from yanking the door open and instead pulled it open slowly, mindful of Gabriel's weight. One arm slid immediately under Gabriel's knees, lifting him, and he fumbled with his other hand to unlock the chains binding the boy. He was near tears, near hysterics. Was he dead? He pressed his ear to Gabriel's chest - no. Alive. Barely.

Gabriel slurred to him in French, talking about the vineyard and his chores. Papa said to finish the washing, go get apples with Anna. Kali wants to walk later. He didn't seem to be concious of what was really going on around him.

"Shhh," Sam soothed. He tightened his arms around Gabriel, tucking the boy's injured shoulder against his own chest, taking all his weight. He rushed back upstairs and to his main quarters. He gently laid Gabriel on his bed, careless of the blood now soaking his sheets, and went to run the bath.

Gabriel shifted on the bed, feverish and trying to stand, hands gripping weakly in the sheets. The rushing sound of water confused him. Rain? Where they flooding? He had to get Papa..

Sam rushed back into the room when he realized Gabriel was trying to move, was murmuring again. "No, no, relax," he said, pressing Gabriel back down. "J'ai besoin de vous detendre, ma cherie." He skated his fingers over Gabriel's cheek, trying to rouse him.

Gabriel sighed, chin dropping in a nod. "Oui, mon coeur," he breathed, fingertips fluttering up and then back down again. "Pour vous..."

"Merci," Sam murmured. "Merci, merci, ma cherie." He gently tugged Gabriel's shirt. "I need to take this off. Can you sit up if I help?"

Gabriel smiled, eyes drifting open, trying to focus, "Vous chose méchante~" He rasped, sinking back against the bed. He frowned up at Sam, not recognizing him for a moment.

Sam wanted to sob in relief. If Gabriel could still crack jokes, then he would be all right. He leaned over the younger boy, palmed his cheek, which was sticky with dried blood. "Gabriel, I'm going to sit you up."

"You go right ahead," Gabriel slurred, English short and accented heavier than it had been before.

Sam slid his arms around Gabriel and lifted his limp body up, carefully stripping him of his shirt and undershirt. Without thinking too much on it, he reached down and undid the buckle on Gabriel's pants, carefully worked those off as well. He tucked Gabriel's shoulder into his chest and pulled him up, carrying him carefully to the expansive bathroom.

Gabriel hummed against Sam's neck, the imagined toss of tree leaves above him causing the stars of dizziness in front of his eyes. "Later we will have to pick apples you know." He was warm, hot all over, buzzing, couldn't breathe right. "Vous jolie chose~"

"Whatever you wish, cherie," Sam said worriedly, nudged the door open and climbed half in the tub, careless of the clothes he was soaking through. He let Gabriel slip into the hot water, hoping it would help him wake, and crouched in with him, cupping the back of his head and easing it back to rest on the rim of the tub.

Gabriel relaxed into the water, making a soft whimper as it slipped over his wounds. After a moment he blinked up at Sam, confused. His eyes flickered to the side, searching, probably for the fading illusions he'd wrapped himself in.

Sam stayed absolutely still, his hands soft and supporting on Gabriel, but unmoving. Finally he murmured Gabriel's name, searching his eyes.

Everything snapped abruptly to reality, and Gabriel curled away from him, frantic splashing in the water. He lurched towards the edge of the tub, crying out softly when he put pressure on his injured shoulder, trying to stand.

"Gabriel! Gabriel, ma cherie." Sam gently took hold of Gabriel's uninjured shoulder, holding him in place. "I am not him. You need to sit or you will further harm yourself." His words were soft but his grip was firm, the pads of his fingers cautiously gentle where they lay on Gabriel's skin.

"Non, non," Gabriel muttered, feet slipping in the tub, sending him back into the water. "I pulled it out - why am I still here?"

Sam shook his head, eyebrows furrowed, hands steadying his young charge. "I do not understand. What are you talking about?"

"You should not have saved me," Gabriel said, pushing weakly at Sam's hands.

Sam's expression collapsed for a moment, but he shook his head, clasping Gabriel's hands in his. "I must." He surveyed Gabriel's wounds, dipped one hand under the water and rubbed the blood from his cheek.

"You heard what he said," Gabriel said, wincing as he pressed against the cuts, drawn in neat rows on his skin. "You are doing what he wants."

"I am doing what I want," Sam said grimly. He reached over and took the washcloth in his hand, dipped it underwater and raised it to press to the cut along his chest. "I will not lose you."

"He will make you watch me die," Gabriel said, lip pulled between his teeth, everything about him pained. He watched Sam's hand, holding tight to the tub edges.

"Not if I have anything to do about it," he murmured. Sam brushed Gabriel's bangs aside, kissed his forehead. He continued to clean his cuts, and when he finally was able to clean Gabriel's shoulder he slid an arm around him, pulled him forward and gently mopped up the back of his shoulder.

Gabriel tipped his head against Sam's shoulder, noticed that he hadn't bothered to take his clothes off. "You are shy?" He asked, pulling at the buttons of his shirt.

Sam half-smiled. "Worried," he corrected, but when he let Gabriel lean back on his own, he obliged and stripped his shirt off. "There was no time to be concerned about wet clothing."

Gabriel nodded, fingertips light against Sam's chest. He shivered, remembering how strong he was, and sank back into the water. "He found me quickly."

"He does that." Sam sank down in the water, sitting against the opposite side of the tub. "I - " He broke off, looking guiltily away. "You know he was lying. I would never wish to do that to you."

"I do not know what to believe," Gabriel told him, folding his legs beneath the water. He fingered the edges of the wound in his shoulder, face held in restrained pain.

Sam reached out, grasped his wrist. "Don't touch." He sighed, settled back. "He is a demon. He is no shade of mine."

"He says 'he and I' instead of 'we'," Gabriel pointed out, like most French, aware of the pronouns. In regards to the wound, "It feels strange."

A slow nod. "Yes." He leaned closer, examining Gabriel's wound. "It will be fine. I will bandage it after you are clean." He twirled his fingers. "Turn for me?"

Gabriel eyed him for a moment, then moved up to the tub edge, leaning his arms over the side to bare his back.

Sam reached for soap, liquid and smooth, and poured a generous amount into a clean cloth. He swept it up and down Gabriel's back, fingertips massaging lightly to work out his stiff muscles. When he had finished and rinsed the boy off, he added, "Your hair as well - you cannot lift your arm."

Gabriel shifted away from the edge, so he was sitting upright, facing away from Sam. He watched the wavy shapes of his fingers beneath the water. "Will do do this always?" He asked curiously.

The elder man blinked as he poured more soap into his hand. "Do you wish me to?" he asked carefully, rubbing his hands up through Gabriel's hair.

"I am no noble's son," Gabriel pointed out, enjoying the feeling of hands in his hair.

Sam's touch lightened briefly. "You are in a prince's home. I do think you may claim nobility - if you wish."

"I do not," Gabriel said. He would have pulled away stubbornly if he could actually lift his other arm.

A tilt of Sam's head. "You don't like nobles."

"Some nobles," Gabriel clarified. "Who think their shoes are too good for dirt."

Sam hummed, pressing his fingers in a little more firmly. "And am I one of those you despise?"

"I do not yet resent you."

Genuinely surprised, Sam let his hands fall to scoop water up. "That is... heartening."

"You've been kind. The demon has not." Gabriel pushed his hair back off his forehead. "I may yet mix the two."

"I pray you do not," Sam said, softer. He let water slip from his hands, rinsing soap from Gabriel's hair. "Come, I need to bandage you."

Gabriel brushed the water from his eyes, then started to stand, fingers tight on the porcelain edges. The cool air over his cuts felt strange, aching. His whole body ached.

Gabriel's difficulty obvious and heartbreaking, Sam pushed himself up, pants dripping and soaked, clinging to his legs, and hauled himself out, then gently picked Gabriel up. He cradled the boy to his chest, carried him into the bedroom and laid him back on silk sheets. Some rummaging found Sam a pair of smaller pants - left from a previous guest - and a shirt which surely would drown Gabriel, but would work nonetheless. "Bandages," he said to himself as he handed Gabriel his clothes. "One moment, I'll be back."

Gabriel shifted the fabric of the clothing between his fingers, hair dripping down his back as he did. With a soft sigh, he slipped into them, leaving the shirt off as he waited for Sam to return.

Sam came back with bandages and a towel. He draped the towel over Gabriel's head and rubbed gently, then knelt at his feet, letting the towel slip back so he could see the boy's eyes, his own soft, his hands resting lightly on Gabriel's knees. "Comment allez-vous?"

"Comme-ci, comme-ca," Gabriel murmured, tugging the towel off his head.

Sam raised a hand to cup his cheek, his eyes just slightly narrowed as he examined the cuts on his opposite cheek. Softer, he whispered, "Je suis desole."

"Do not be," Gabriel said, turning gently out of the touch. "Unless you did it. Hm?"

Stilled, Sam asked, "Do you think I did?"

"From the way you apologise, I am starting to."

Sam nodded, eyes dropping to Gabriel's chest. He eyed the ragged shoulder wound and gently lifted Gabriel's arm, taking a roll of bandage in his other hand. "I suppose I can expect nothing more," he murmured, mostly to himself.

Resting his raised hand on Sam's arm, Gabriel lightly pinched his skin. "Maybe you stop apologizing, yes?" He raised an eyebrow.

"Maybe," Sam breathed, hint of a smile teasing his lips. He turned his palm up, lightly encircled Gabriel's wrist, and began to roll the bandage around his shoulder with his other hand. It took both to wrap it around his chest and then his shoulder again, chest, shoulder, around his back, until Sam was finally satisfied. He tied it off and pressed his fingers at the ends, making sure it was satisfactory. "Souffrez-vous?"

"Oui," Gabriel grunted, "I would worry were I not." He moved his shoulder carefully, testing the range of his bandages.

Sam pursed his lips briefly. It would not do for Gabriel to continue to be in pain. He stood. "Stay here," he said firmly. "I will bring something to ease your pain." He turned and left, heading swiftly up the set of stairs nearest his rooms. His study was quiet and dark, damp, same as always. From the shelf next to his workspace Sam selected a small jar of tiny crushed green leaves, uncorked it, and raised it briefly to smell. Satisfied, he headed back downstairs to his quarters.

Gabriel had made it over to the window, leaning forward against the glass and peering outside. His shirt had been slipped on, laces loose at his neck.

The sight of Gabriel, framed beautifully against the glass, was almost enough to make Sam stop in his tracks. He leaned in the doorway for a moment and watched, then cleared his throat, shaking his bangs from his eyes. "Here," he murmured, stepping up behind Gabriel until he could see both of them reflected in the glass. He held up the bottle and fished out enough of the leaves to fit on the pad of his forefinger, which he raised to Gabriel's lips.

Leaning forward, Gabriel slipped his tongue over the leaves, lips barely brushing against Sam's skin. He pulled away, leaning against the cool glass as he chewed. "Do I swallow them?"

"Yes." Sam prayed for serenity as he stayed there, Gabriel's warm scent surrounding him, along with a hint of the minty leaves. "Slowly, not all at once." He fought the urge to bury his nose in Gabriel's hair, so denied the simple things for so long.

Gabriel chewed slowly, swallowing carefully as he was instructed. Sam had the strangest expression on his face, in the reflection of the glass and Gabriel half turned to examine it directly.

When Gabriel turned, one golden eye fixing on him, Sam snapped upright, blinking down at the boy. "Oui? What is it?"

Gabriel reached up with his good hand and ghosted over Sam's cheek before dropping his arm back down. "I thought I saw something." He turned away again, swallowing the rest of his leaves.

Sam blinked at his own reflection in the window, raised his hand to his cheek. "Yes," he murmured, and took a step back. "Perhaps."

Facing away, Gabriel's head dipped, and he curled against the curtain. He'd have to find a new hiding spot soon. He'd be slower moving today.

Sam settled his hand on Gabriel's shoulder after a moment's hesitation, fingers rubbing circles in the pale skin shown by his loose collar. "Are you hungry?"

The sensation was good, but Gabriel didn't tell Sam - he knew who else was listening. He carefully moved Sam's hand away, started for the door. "I am."

It took a moment for Sam to follow, actions translating late. "Kitchen is right, down the stairs," he directed, crowding Gabriel in the right direction. "I will make you something to eat and something to take with, yes?"

"Just for now," Gabriel murmured, swaying away and walking in the direction indicated. "You don't have to cook for me."

"I want to," Sam responded, softer. He led Gabriel down to the full, stocked kitchen and peered into a cabinet, searching out bread. As he cooked, he kept his eyes down, murmured, "Why won't you let me touch you?"

"I will give your demon no more weapons," Gabriel told him, sitting on a barrel against the wall. He watched Sam as he worked.

And yet you will deny me, Sam's mind told him; he refused to speak it aloud. He could not let this young thing love him. He had already trapped him, forced him here, if unwittingly. "... Of course. My apologies."

Gabriel made a sound, flicking his fingers at Sam as he looked away. "Again you apologise. Do you have nothing else?"

"To offer?" Sam turned, sandwich in hand. "No. Nothing of worth, anyway." His smile was razor-sharp, bitter whiskey.

"Hm," Gabriel said, almost seeing through the look on Sam's face. He took the sandwich from him, nodding his thanks. "So why do you wait?"

"Wait?" Sam asked, making himself one as well. He rarely ate - Lucifer had that covered. But hell, he was feeling nostalgic.

"For morning, for night. Nothing else." Gabriel ate, waiting for an answer.

Sam tilted his head. "Have you any idea how long I have been trapped in this castle?"

"It doesn't matter."

"It does. There is nothing to wait for. Death, perhaps."

Gabriel raised an eyebrow at him. "Death is everywhere. In the palm of one hand. You do not have to wait for it."

A small, humorless smile. "Ah, but ma cherie, I know the moment I will die."


Sam grew irritated swifly, his muscles tightening. "I have nothing to hope for, Gabriel. Nothing to wish for. If I could, I - " He glanced away. "I would have death now."

Gabriel's eyes narrowed slightly and asked again, "What's in the tower, Sam?"

Sam's jaw clenched so hard it creaked. "Nothing that concerns you."

"It concerns me," Gabriel told him, eyes lowering as he ate, "When a man who waits for death is so concerned about it."

"Death is the only way to escape this," Sam muttered, taking a bite of his sandwich.

"And who told you that?" Gabriel wondered.

The prince eyed Gabriel up and down, incredulous. "There is a line between stupidly foolish and doubting, Gabriel," he hissed. "You are toeing it."

Gabriel took a big bite of the sandwich, chewing for a while. "I have nothing else to do."

"Find something," Sam snapped, then took a deep breath and calmed himself. "You think last night was awful for you? I watched mine own hands commit such deeds."

Gabriel stood and went to the cupboard for a cup. "Papa always said he regretted telling me to amuse myself," He poured water from a jug into the cup.

Sam sighed, breath rushing out of him. "You frustrate me, cherie."

"This is not so strange," Gabriel gulped down the water, poured more. "I will find out what is in there, you know."

Dangerously close to lashing out, Sam clenched his fists hard at his sides. "Why must you?"

Gabriel turned, expression blank. "Something to do."

Sam's teeth flashed. "Find something else to do. My heart is not for your amusement."

"Your heart,' Gabriel repeated carefully.

It took a bit-off snarl for Sam to realize what he had said. His breaths quickened, heart beating hard in his chest. He whirled, his back to Gabriel, hands clutching the marble counter. "Nothing."

"Everything," Gabriel corrected, moving to leave the kitchen. "I must find a place to hide. For your kindness today, merci."

Sam didn't risk a glance back at him. "Vous etes les bienvenus. Adieu."

Gabriel was sitting in the center of the large ballroom floor surrounded by books he didn't bother to clean up anymore. They were his own private cities laid out before him, and Gabriel read them tenderly, each word a priviledge he hadn't had when he was at home. When he was free.

A month and some days: Gabriel had been with Sam for a month. He had settled in, if only somewhat, and while he was much more comfortable with Sam, he still held back. Still avoided touching him, still asked every single day about what lay in Sam's tower. And Sam had learned to live with that, too.

It was a little past noon, the sun high, and Sam had a bowl of stew in each hand and a half loaf of bread tucked under one arm. Gabriel was fairly easy to find during the day, sprawled out among his books.

"Ma cherie," he greeted, heading in without knocking. He set one of the bowls of stew down on top of a stack, ruffled Gabriel's hair and settled himself down cross-legged so he could tear hunks off the bread.

"What's in the tower?" Gabriel asked promptly, taking the stew and starting in on it. "Thanks."

"Birds," Sam responded, as had become custom. "My pleasure, cherie." He ripped off some bread and handed it over, took a bite himself.

Gabriel eyed him, flipping a page in the book without reading it. "I think you should tell me."

"I just did, Gabriel," Sam said through a mouthful of stew. "Birds. Lots of them. From India."

"I'll start asking Lucifer instead."

"Lucifer won't answer. He prefers to let me suffer my own secrets."

"I'm sure he'd bargain for it."

Sam's gaze sharpened. "And what have you to bargain?"

Gabriel pushed his hair away from his face, raising an eyebrow at Sam as if to ask what do you think?

Hazel eyes narrowed further. "I will not let you invite his touch."

"Sun goes down," Gabriel said, dipping bread carefully in the stew, "You have no say."

Sam hissed. "You would force me to watch him - " he stumbled, biting hard on his lip. "You would force me..."

Gabriel did not look at him. "It would not be forced."

And that, that struck something. Hard. Gabriel would let Lucifer have him, but he would barely let Sam lay hands on him? He set his bowl aside, managed with shaking hands, and then surged up and set an entire stack of tomes flying. He crouched over Gabriel, pushing him down, holding him there, threatening.

Gabriel looked up at him impassively. This wasn't new. The daylight was new. The lack of ink across Sam's eyes was new. Things flying, Gabriel pinned - that wasn't.

"How dare you," Sam snapped, his hand so close to wrapping around Gabriel's throat. "How dare you do that to me."

"It's my choice," Gabriel said quietly.

Sam hissed, eyes flashing, rage boiling under his skin. "You despise me so? You want to force me pain?" He slipped, too angry to speak fully coherently.

"There is nothing I do that does not!" Gabriel burst out, kicking out, wedging one leg between them. "You look at me and all I see is pain in your eyes."

"Silence yourself," Sam snarled. "Pain is inevitable, but that is no reason to cause it on purpose."

"You say this," Gabriel spat, thrashing despite his aches from the night, "You hold me, you want me to fight him, be your pretty companion. You, you, you."

Sam hauled himself up, shoved Gabriel away from him. "You - You," he hissed, and was angered, ashamed to feel hot tears prick the backs of his eyes. "I - "

Gabriel face was twisted in pain, breath hitched for a moment. "Is easy for me to die, there is nothing in a tower that holds my heart. I could end it in a moment, but I haven't." He pushed himself off the floor and fled from the room.

Sam stared at the door that Gabriel had fled through for a long, exhausted moment, his entire body about to give out on him. It hit him so hard he thought his knees would buckle: Gabriel had stayed. All this time. He could have used a kitchen knife, thrown himself from one of the inner balconies. He could have ended Lucifer's torture.

And he hadn't.

He was running before he realized he was, catching Gabriel at the end of the hallway and skidding, his shoulder colliding with the wall and Gabriel's shirt firmly in his grip. "Why," he panted, hand wrapped tight. "Why didn't you?"

Gabriel muttered very unpolite things at him in French, trying to pry Sam's fingers off his shirt. "Because there are birds from India in your tower and I think they'd like to be free also. Because it was an end choice. Because there must be another way."

Sam yanked him closer. "You want to free me," he said, and it wasn't a question.

Gabriel frowned, truly angry, and slapped him. "You certainly don't!"

Stunned by the pain, Sam's grip loosened for just a moment, but he recovered swiftly and turned, slamming Gabriel into the wall. "You want to see what's in that damn tower?" he snarled, and hauled him back, shoved him down the hall. "Then go."

"Putain de merde," Gabriel said, hand pressed to one side. He struggled to his feet, turned down a different hall than the one leading to the tower. "I could have gone at any time."

Sam flew after him, grabbed the back of his shirt. He tightened his hand, iron-gripped, and pulled. "No. You will see," he hissed, low in Gabriel's ear. "You are so desperate." He shoved Gabriel in front of him, pushed him along to the staircase that led upward.

"You're desperate," Gabriel flung back at him, pulling down tables, vases, anything in their path. "Desperate to hide. To die - supposedly desperate to fight this thing that is bleeding out of you~"

"You speak such things when I am showing you," Sam spat. "You don't wish for me to hide? Then fine! I no longer hide!" He dragged Gabriel up the stairs, hissing when his young charge fought him every step of the way.

"This is you, then, eh?" Gabriel made himself a dead weight, knowing it wasn't going to stop Sam long. "Finally I have brought the true you?"

Sam snarled out a laugh and hauled Gabriel up bodily, trying not to think about how like Lucifer, how Lucifer had... "The true me?" he hissed. "The true me is the thing you have chipped away at me to fetch." He kicked the door to his study in and dropped Gabriel at his feet, leaving him to look at the ravaged walls, the shredded paintings. And the curtain that hid Sam's secret, illuminated in the sun.

"Then there was not much, was there?" Gabriel spat, kicking him in the shin for good measure before moving into the room. He saw the destruction, the rips across canvas and plaster, and the curtain drawn across. Gabriel moved towards it curiously.

Entire body shaking, vibrating, Sam waited in the shadows, his hands knotted in a torn, broken curtain. This was everything. All of him, spread wide open - and he hated it.

Gabriel slipped carefully beyond the curtain without pulling it back, crowded into the space with a glass case, placed over a rose. Petals had dropped to the top of the pedestal, and Gabriel frowned, seeing the single petal left.

This was Sam's secret?

It'd been so long since Sam had looked at it, and now it was too bright, too perfect. He stepped from the shadows and came to Gabriel's side, fingertips resting on the case, like it would crack under the lightest touch. "One petal for each year," he whispered.

Gabriel looked up at him, "You would kill me over this flower?" He understood that it was Sam's hourglass, but it still didn't... "I don't understand."

Sam slid to sit, curling his knees to his chest. "What of the curse do you know?"

"You do not leave, I do not leave, there is a demon." Gabriel doesn't mention how that's all he's been told because everyone in the bloody castle's as stubborn as the stones.

The prince heaved a breath. "I am cursed. A witch." He ducked his head. "I.. I was foolish. I tried to - tried to convince her to cast a spell. And she grew... angry with me. And cursed me." He laughed hollowly, eyeing the flower. "She gave me thirteen years to live with this thing inside me. And her challenge was, her punishment, is..." He broke off again, tears pricking. "I must find someone to love me. Before the last petal falls."

Gabriel was eeriely quiet, still except for his fingers stroking the glass. "These are your birds, from India. That you must be loved? You could not say?"

"How can anyone love me?" Sam hissed. "He is meant to stop it." He pointed, finger wavering in the light of the rose. "And when it falls, when it dies, so shall I. And then there will be only him."

Gabriel rubbed his eyes, informed him, "You are very, very stupid."

Sam blinked, staring at him. "Excuse me?"

"You forgot what we said earlier?"

"... Oui?"

"Very stupid," Gabriel grumbled. "How does this rose know if you are loved?"

"The curse," Sam whispered. "The rose does not - the curse..."

"So you are the one that needs to realize?" Gabriel raised an eyebrow, moving over to him. "Mon Dieu, mon amant precieux."

Sam's expression dipped and glazed with several emotions, flashing one after another. "Ma cherie?" he murmured, questioning both Gabriel's words and his motive. "Realize what?"

Wincing a little as he dipped down to his knees, Gabriel offered a small crooked smile. "You are so angry I did not let you have me - but I did not so he would not. I wanted it for you."

Hazel eyes softened, just a little. "You despise me," Sam said, his fingers winding in the soft material of his pants. "As is right."

"...Am I not saying right?" Gabriel squinted at him. "I like when you touch me, Sam. When you sit with me. But I do not want him to have those moments, yes?"

Sam shook his head, pulled away. "No. You - do not deserve me." He fumbled. "Ah, no, no - I do not deserve - "

"I do not care what has past," Gabriel told him, curving his hands along Sam's neck, forcing him to look over at him. "Do you not want me?"

"Why," Sam whispered. He raised a hand, pressed it to Gabriel's chest, almost pushed him away. "Why do you?"

Gabriel dropped his hands to Sam's, pulled his hand up to press his lips over Sam's fingers curled in his own. "Aside from today, you have been very kind to me. Someone so pained, must love so deeply."

Sam tried to pull away again, fighting Gabriel's gaze. "I shall find a way to let you go," he said, determined. "I shall."

"Sam, no," Gabriel held on, frowning. "Your rose - don't push me away."

"You deserve to leave," Sam whispered. "To go back to your home. You should not suffer this. Any of this."

"I will go, when you can go with me," Gabriel said stubbornly.

Sam clenched his teeth. "How can you throw away your life at a moment's notice?"

"Says the one watching himself and a flower die."

"What else am I to do? No one ventures to my castle." Sam glanced at Gabriel, meeting his eyes for the first time. "Except you."

Gabriel leaned close, said quietly, "I was after your roses~"

Sam breathed out a slow laugh, and lifted one hand, palmed Gabriel's shoulder. "Do you want me to apologize?"

"I would like you," Gabriel murmured, tugging on Sam's shirt, "To stop hiding."

"I don't know how," Sam murmured, completely truthful.

"Just be here." Gabriel slid into Sam's lap, open and trusting.

Sam's hands jumped to Gabriel's shoulders, gripping. "What - "

Gabriel settled, looking up at him, unguarded. "Tell me to go and I will." It was clear he would prefer not to.

Sam rubbed the backs of his fingers along Gabriel's cheek. "I don't understand why you're doing this."

"I wanted this a long time ago," Gabriel told him, turning into the touch, eyes still on Sam. "I thought it would hurt you. For Lucifer to turn it against you."

"Lucifer's still here," Sam murmured, pulling Gabriel closer to him, letting him sit on his upper thighs.

"If you had told me," Gabriel told him, tugging on Sam's hair lightly, "It would break it, I would not have cared. This is 'another way' Sam."

Sam's eyes dropped and he shifted, wrapping his hands around Gabriel's hips. "I'm - " He shook his head, pressed his forehead to Gabriel's shoulder. "Thank you."

"Ne vous inquiétez pas, mon cher," Gabriel said, low and close to Sam's ear, "I have you."

Sam turned his head ever so slightly, let his lips brush Gabriel's cheek. "You are so young," he mumbled, scrapping for reasons.

"And spry," Gabriel purred, shooting the objection down.

"That," Sam said, and pressed his palm to Gabriel's cheek, pulled him back so their foreheads rested together.

Gabriel tipped his chin further forward, stealing a brief kiss. He grinned. "Hm~?"

Sam went liquid at the kiss, tangled his fingers in the hair at the nape of Gabriel's neck, pulled him in for a proper kiss.

Gabriel hadn't exactly kissed many poeple and had almost always been the initiator, so a hand pulling him in was a shivery pleasure. He melted against Sam, hands sliding down over his shoulders.

"Your family," Sam said softly, lowering his head to mouth Gabriel's throat.

"Will be happy to know I am alive," Gabriel pointed out, tipping his head back for Sam.

Sam caressed the nape of his neck, licking lightly at his collarbone. "What will you tell them?"

"I was whisked away," Gabriel murmured, humming deep in his throat.

"So inventive." Sam kissed the hollow at the base of Gabriel's throat. "I can still feel him," he confessed. "I don't know how..."

"Je adore tu, mon Sam," Gabriel shifted to murmur at the corner of Sam's mouth, "Let us think just of us, oui?"

Sam's fingers tightened instinctively. "Je adore tu, ma cherie." He nodded, drew Gabriel into another kiss.

Even if the sun were to fall that night, Gabriel would hold the moment in front of him, a sheild for his mind. He sincerely hoped he wouldn't have to.

It was small. Subtle. Silent. One moment Sam was kissing Gabe, and the next moment - the same. He pulled back, blinking rapidly.

Gabriel made a small questioning sound, eyes opening to look at Sam, stroking his cheek. "Quoi?"

Sam pushed Gabriel back, not forcefully, just insistently, stumbled to his feet. "I - Viens avec moi." He took off, slamming out the door and skidding down the hallway, taking the stairs three at a time and running for the main hall.

"Sam?" Gabriel moved after him, slower than he'd like, "Pourquoi?" What was he doing?

The main hall was streaked with sunlight; Sam burst out across it and yanked the front doors open, swinging both enormous oaken panels inward. He stood, staring out at the grounds, his every muscle tense.

Gabriel slowed as he came up behind Sam, watching him stand at the doorway. Was- did they manage to- Gabriel's eyes widened slightly.

Sam extended one hand, palm flat, like he was expecting resistance - and he was. He dug his fingers into silken air and thrust his hand through the doorway, then gave a wild cry and flung himself down the steps and out, into the grass.

Watching Sam move beyond the doors was...surreal. Gabriel edged across the threshold, and then out into the sun, grinning up at the sky. He stretched his arms up, laughing, and spun a little.

Sam was sprawled in the grass, arms flung wide and staring up at the sky - the sky, which he could... God, he could touch it. He sighed, content for the first time in twelve years. "Viens ici, ma cherie."

Gabriel did, leaning over Sam with grin stretched widely from ear to ear. "Vous voyez~? J'avais raison."

"Je veux te sentir."

Gabriel laughed, folding down into the grass beside Sam. "Is that so~?"

Sam extended one arm, pulled Gabriel into his body. "Il est alle," he murmured. "Toujours."

"Bon," Gabriel murmured, curling against Sam, "Et le demon?"

"Disparu." Sam tightened his arm, rubbing his cheek into Gabriel's hair.

"Tres bon~" Gabriel sighed. Grass and warmth and sunlight - he wasn't sure he'd ever feel it again.

Sam slid a leg between Gabriel's, coaxed him to toss one over Sam's thighs. "Je suis fatigue, cherie."

Gabriel smiled, teeth half biting into his lip, and sprawled over Sam. "Alors le sommeil, mon amour~"

"Here?" Sam murmured, but he was drifting already with Gabriel's weight over him.

"I am not ready to go back in yet," Gabriel told him, nuzzling into his chest.

Sam hummed in response, the sunshine lulling him. He pressed a hand into Gabriel's back, holding him there. "Stay," he murmured, slipping off.

Gabriel, who had been dozing himself, made a soft sound of protest, "Wasn't going anywhere."

"Never know," Sam replied, words half-slurred. He tangled Gabriel thoroughly around him and held him there, eyes closed. "Je adore tu."

Gabriel mumbled something garbled back, mostly in French, but it didn't really make sense. He was sleeping.

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