Spot on the Mystery

C'mon, Sam. You're supposed to be the smart one. Gabriel shifted on his stool, apparently to reach for the menu but to give Sam a good view on his wrist watch. He didn't need to read the menu, he would have pancakes like the last hundred days or so, but he did need Sam to notice the difference.

Today I'm wearing a watch, yesterday I didn't. C'mon, notice!

He studied the menu like every other day, ordered his pancakes and ate them quietly like a hundred other times before.

Sam did not notice today, he was too busy being grumpy and all in all just feeling miserable, and inwardly Gabriel rolled his eyes at him.

Sam had perfected his simultaneous speaking with Dean, though. It had been kinda more fun when Sam hadn't been this perfect, if Gabriel was honest. The first time Dean had come up with the ruler, they'd both cracked up laughing for minutes. However, Sam had stopped rather abruptly when Dean died of a stroke due to the laughing.

This was far from getting boring, Gabriel still had a few creative ways to kill Dean up his sleeve, and Sam's new-found enthusiasm about this Hasselback guy was just adorable. Fruitless but adorable.

Okay, Gabriel had to admit, he could have come up with a better case for the Winchesters to "investigate" than this but that wasn't the point. He'd wanted them here and he got them here, flimsy cover story be damned.

Now he just needed Sam to notice him.

But Sam didn't notice.

He didn't notice the different shoes or the tie. Didn't notice the frequently changed syrup Gabriel put on his pancakes or that he switched from right to left-handed once in a while.

Slowly but surely Gabriel got desperate. He'd counted on Sam picking up on something to get the second part of his plan in motion but so far Sam just stumbled from one loop to the next without a clue.

Killing Dean was still fun, strangling him with his own sheets was Gabriel's personal favorite, followed by the car crash caused by seeing Judge Myers in his pink furry bunny outfit, that one never got old. However, this wasn't about Dean. This was about Sam. And while the first part worked incredibly well, the second part was the one with the real lesson.

And Sam failed to notice him. Gabriel was short to putting a neon sign above his head when one thoughtless comment from Dean finally, finally, got Sam's attention.

Sam went into hunter mood after that, he was like the Terminator on a mission, and Gabriel gave him the moment of short-lived triumph when Sam "caught" him. Sam didn't even think twice about why Gabriel gave in so easily but after so many Tuesdays Sam just jumped at the opportunity to end this time loop once and for all.

The laughs were on Gabriel's side again the next day. Sam's face while he held his lifeless brother in his arm, begging to wake up, it was hilarious.

Gabriel let Sam live his solo life for about half a year so he could get a real taste of a life without Dean.

Of course, Dean wasn't dead for real. That would have set things in motion Gabriel didn't want to get in motion, that was the whole point of this little prank. He couldn't see the future clearly but Dean's death would spin Sam out of control, that much was clear, so Gabriel figured if he could give Sam a taste of that life beforehand, Sam would be prepared and not fall for the manipulation, Gabriel had no doubt, Heaven and Hell had ready for him.

A Winchester on a crusade, like father, like son. Gabriel hadn't known John Winchester but he found more than enough about him in the memories of his sons to get the picture. Not exactly father of the year material. And Gabriel knew a thing or two on that topic.

He would never admit it but the path Sam took after his brother's death scared Gabriel more with every day that passed.

Sam grew colder with every day, like he'd lost his soul or something, and that was exactly the thing Gabriel was trying to avoid here. He needed Sam to be strong, yes, but at the same time he needed him to be caring, sympathetically, otherwise Sam wouldn't care for the collateral damage, which in this case was Earth and humanity as a whole, his actions caused.

Gabriel was dancing on a fine line here and after half a year he didn't dare to draw this out any longer. He did put up one last test to see where Sam stood now, though. And to mess with him for good measure, of course.

One call from "Bobby Singer" telling him he'd found the Trickster and Sam came running.

Gabriel honestly thought Sam would back off as soon as he heard he'd have to kill somebody to get to the Trickster.

So Gabriel nudged it up a bit more and let Bobby offer his own life instead. However, the cold-bloodedness with which Sam was willing to kill the man he thought of as a father shocked Gabriel.

It was kind of a relief to hear that Sam knew it was one of the Trickster's illusions he rammed the stake into and not his surrogate father.

But how sure had Sam really been? Not one-hundred percent. The way he was calling out to Bobby when the illusion didn't fade immediately spoke for itself.

Sam had taken the risk to actually kill the other man. Gabriel was impressed and worried at the same time.

The banter after that was only for show. Even without Sam's pleading and what Dean might have called the puppy dog eyes, if he'd been there and not playing dead at the moment, Gabriel would have set everything back to normal anyway.

Sam couldn't know it but he'd lived in a cozy little bubble of alternative reality for the past six months and as much fun it had been, Gabriel couldn't keep him there forever. Sooner or later his heavenly brothers would come looking for the Winchester. And it would raise questions if Dean's deal came due and his soul was nowhere to be found.

So Gabriel let Sam "convince" him to bring them back to that Wednesday in Broward County.

"Meaning that's for me to know and you to find out." Being all cryptic Gabriel smirked at Sam before he snapped his fingers and ended this charade.

Gabriel wasn't as sure as he'd sounded, though. After Sam was gone he just stood there for a long moment, thinking. His knowledge of the future had never been clear and as far as he could tell nothing had changed.

But it had never been about the big events. The small things, that's what mattered. The wrong kind of syrup could change everything. A kingdom could fall apart because of one nail missing.

This experience had changed Sam and that was all Gabriel could ask for.

"I hope it's enough." With a snap of his fingers Gabriel was gone.