Chapter 18

Gadreel and Gabriel were on the roof of the old power plant that was built above the bunker. They stood, shoulder to shoulder, watching the sun set over the treeline while they waited.

Everyone in the bunker had exhausted themselves in the preparation of the tasks to come. Though they had all come to the consensus of taking on Abaddon, they found it rather difficult to track her down. Gadreel very much doubted that she had taken his warning to heart, but rather, was likely creating plans of her own.

And so everyone did what they could until they had something more tangible to work with.

Charlie and Kevin had been making massive headway on decoding the angel tablet, with Castiel often acting as their designated translator. While not necessarily useful for bringing down a Knight of Hell, it could certainly help them when their aim eventually shifted to Metatron. It was a collective effort to get those two to rest, and take breaks, but no one could judge how efficient they had become.

Sam and Dean insisted on staying close, delegating come cases to a few trusted hunters so they could assist. Jody had been among those few, and Gadreel had been touched when she passed on her regards to him as well.

Gabriel had an idea for locating Abaddon, but it required him meeting with an old colleague from his Pagan days.

Gadreel had just begun to convince his mate that he did not need to hide that side of himself. So when Gabriel arranged a meeting, he made it a point to join him. As support or as back up, he did not yet know.

So here they were, watching the sky change colors as the sun slowly sunk below the horizon. It was reminiscent of days long past, and Gadreel was so incredibly grateful for this chance to rebuild what they lost.

Eventually, Gabriel leaned into Gadreel's side, prompting him to drape an arm around his shoulder.

"Are you sure that he will help?" Gadreel asked quietly.

"Well. I'm sure there's a possibility," Gabriel admitted. "I haven't exactly touched bases with the others since I got back. My last reception wasn't all that great. Then again, most pantheons don't like being lied to. Especially by one of their own. "

"Ah, but us Tricksters are fond of a good deception, now aren't we?"

Only Gabriel's lack of reaction kept Gadreel from drawing his blade on instinct.

The creature that had appeared beside them held the shape of a man, but Gadreel could see the shifting nature of the form twisting under the skin. A human would see a man with gleaming black hair, deeply tanned skin and a flashing smile. The eyes were dark and glittering with mischief. "Raven!" Gabriel greeted enthusiastically. He ducked out from under Gadreel's arm as he gave the deity a grin. "Thanks for showing. Wasn't quite sure of my welcome, you know?"

Gadreel didn't comment on the casual half-step he took in front of Gadreel. After all, being protective in unsure situations was a trait they both shared.

"I was pleased to hear your summons. Many of us mourned when we heard of your passing, Loki." Raven's head tilted, the movement decidedly sharp and bird like. "Or would you prefer Gabriel?"

Gabriel swatted at the air dismissively. "Pick your preference. Doesn't really matter."

Raven bobbed his head. "Regardless, I'm pleased to see the rumors of your demise to be false. I'm curious on where you've been hiding. It's unlike you to remain silent for so long."

"No hiding. I really was pushing daisies." He shoved his hands into the pockets of his jacket. "The Winchester brothers were involved, in my death and my resurrection, if that helps any."

"Ah." Raven lifted his chin, as if that explained everything. "I always thought your attention was a bit too focused on them, but in hindsight, it makes sense." Those dark eyes then landed on Gadreel, the gaze sharp and assessing.

The sudden attention made something twist in Gadreel's gut, but he did his best to appear unaffected.

"I do not believe we have been properly introduced." He offered a smirk and a short bow, and Gadreel was given the brief impression of feathered wings mimicking the motion of his arms. "I am Raven, trickster and deity of countless people across this little world."

"Gadreel," he replied neutrally, offering a small nod in return.

"Gadreel! Ah, it's good to have a name to go with the Winchester's second guardian angel." His laughter held echoes of crow's cackle. "You have left the demons in quite the tizzy lately. My children have been laughing about it for weeks!"

That instantly set Gadreel on edge, and he could feel his wings mantel in response even though they remained hidden from view. He took a step forward, drawing even with Gabriel. "And how would you know that?"

Gabriel's hand grabbed the sleeve of his jacket. "Easy there, babe."

The tone of his mate's voice spoke volumes, sounding casual while his grace brushed up against his to offer reassurance. Gadreel did his best to calm himself.

Raven took a step back, and lifted his hands. "Peace, friend. I mean no harm." He offered another flashing smile. "My children are everywhere, and when they learn something interesting they like to share it with me. Quite the little gossips really, but I don't mind. I do like to be well informed, after all."

"A lot of corvids are his kids," Gabriel explained conversationally. "Crows, ravens, rooks, magpies. As a result, he's got potential eyes and ears everywhere."

"Yes. Very helpful when dealing with hunters. I find that the easiest way to avoid encounters with the Winchesters and their ilk is to be aware of them whenever possible." A playful wink was shot in Gabriel's direction. "But to each his own. I take it that you've gotten involved with their latest batch of trouble, then. They certainly have a surplus of it."

"Which brings us to why we called you. I was hoping to cash in that favor."

Raven's sharp eyes grew serious. "What use am I against the likes of Heaven or Hell? I am not a combatant, Loki. You may have enlisted to aid their cause, but I have not. And your friend here, while very pretty, is not worth dying for if he stands against Hell's new queen."

"Careful, Raven," Gabriel warned, allowing his grace to flash just a bit. "You have no idea what Gadreel is worth to me, so don't push it."

Gadreel's chest warmed at his mate's words.

"I see," Raven murmured, clearly taken aback. "My apologies." He then surprised Gadreel by acknowledging him directly. "And my apologies to you, my friend. I was unaware that Loki had taken a Lifemate. It explains much."

Gadreel was completely thrown. "It- it does?"

"A flock of my children were roosting nearby when you sent your message to the Demon Queen. They told me you claimed the Winchesters as your brood."

"Aw, babe," Gabriel whined. "Does everyone know you adopted those two blockheads?"

"Everyone but the Winchesters themselves, it would seem," Gadreel returned dryly.

"Let us begin again," Raven said, bringing them back on topic. "Ask your favor. And then I will choose whether or not I refuse it."

"All we want is intel," Gabriel said promptly. "Observation only. We need to know where Abaddon is hiding, or at least where she's gonna be." He shrugged. "Can't take out the trash if we don't know where it is. And if it looks dicey to you and yours, then pull back. Some info is better than none."

Raven took a moment to consider it. "That seems reasonable enough. Is that all?"

"Well, we're also trying to keep my resurrection out of the rumor mill for the time being, so I'd appreciate it if you didn't go spreading it around."

"Then I accept."

oOoOo

Castiel had taken to watching Gadreel and Gabriel.

He had known another Bonded pair, back when he first took command over his garrison. If you did not spend time with them, you would have never known they were anything more than an extremely effective pair of soldiers, who were more efficient together than apart.

Gadreel and Gabriel were nothing like that.

There was so much gravity and warmth between them that they could be nothing else. It was impossible to miss, and mesmerizing to watch. Their interactions were often beautiful, but confusing, and all around difficult to turn away from.

Gabriel was the more tactile of the two, always invading Gadreel's space in a way that was somehow both casual and vaguely protective. If Gabriel could find a way for one of his limbs to be in contact with Gadreel, he would do it, sometime's going as far as sitting in his mate's lap. Gadreel took it with an ease that showed familiarity, and would often reciprocate with smaller gestures, most of which would be easily missed if Castiel hadn't been actively looking for them. There was light teasing and warm smiles, and Gadreel looked far more at ease than Castiel had ever seen him.

There was a fascinating balance between them. When Gabriel would get riled up, Gadreel was usually right there bringing his temper into check, or making sure the others granted him space if necessary. In turn, when Gadreel had his moments where he would retreat into himself, Gabriel would bring him out of it by making him focus on the present, or putting him in a situation where he had to actively participate. Sometimes his tactics were frustrating and over the top, but it never failed to get Gadreel's attention, especially if he enlisted the help of Charlie or, on occasion, Sam.

There were cracks between them as well. Little moments where their time apart was on display, where the jagged edges of it scratched and bit at them.

Gadreel still took pains to hide his wings from view, which had always been an odd thing to Castiel. A lot of angelic social cues were expressed through the wings, so with them out of sight it was often difficult for Castiel to discern his mood. Thankfully, he's had time to observe the cues of his vessel. On the other hand, Gabriel had no qualms leaving his wings out for all who could perceive them. At least while in the confines of the bunker. Gabriel's wings, when displayed, were as animated as the rest of him, and sometimes they would flare and arch in a bizzare gesture Castiel had never quite seen the like of. Clearly, there was some sort of reciprocating gesture to go with it, and when it never came, Gabriel's wings would droop a bit, clearly crestfallen.

Gadreel always looked apologetic after, and Gabriel would quickly rally, moving on like nothing had happened.

Castiel had seen the wings of some of his siblings after the Fall. They had been scorched and bare, effectively leaving them flightless and badly damaged. Ephraim in particular had no qualms about displaying his destroyed plumage.

Gadreel's must be in particularly bad shape to hide them the way he did.

And then there was Gabriel and his history as Loki.

After confirming that the archangel had never met with the Crowley prior to his death, Sam had been the one to first suggest their approach when dealing with the demon. As readily as he had agreed to it, Gabriel had balked before leaving to visit with the self-appointed King of Hell. Gadreel had pulled his mate aside for a private moment alone, and when he came back, his grace was suppressed to the point that all Castiel could sense from Gabriel was the harsh electricity of his pagan persona.

It was a disturbing thing to see another angel's grace so easily obscured from view.

However, Gabriel's manipulation of the demon had been flawless, and the memory of Crowley's face would make Castiel smile for years to come.

After that, some sort of hidden tension seemed to ease between the pair. Gabriel no longer suppressed his pagan magic, which apparently, had become an integral part of him, and in return Gadreel, for the most part, seemed more open than he had been.

However, there was still something . . . Missing from their dynamic. Small moments where it was almost as if a key element was absent, and it was throwing off their rhythm.

And it was never more apparent than when Castiel was in the room.

He didn't know if it was him specifically or the absence of other angels as a whole, but he knew that it became more obvious when he was interacting with them.

Castiel liked to think that he and Gadreel had made great strides in their friendship. He still recalled when the older angel had a hard time coming to the forefront of his vessel just to speak with him, and had enjoyed their progress since then. When he was at ease, Gadreel's temperament was placid and rock steady, and Castiel enjoyed the calm he himself gained just from proximity. But there were moments when Gadreel would shut down and withdraw in the middle of a perfectly civil conversation, and Castiel couldn't for the life of him figure out what he did wrong.

Sam was there after one such incident in the library, and had been quick to reassure him that it wasn't his fault.

But if it was only Gadreel, Castiel might have agreed.

Gabriel had odd moments too, but his reactions varied so much it was near impossible to determine a trigger. The most volatile reactions usually happened when the three of them were together. Sometimes the archangel would just stare, looking infinitely lost and terribly sad. Of course, as soon as he noticed an audience, it was quickly swept away with jokes and sarcasm. Other times the three of them would be conversing, and Gabriel would turn to Castiel, only to abruptly cut himself off. Sometimes he would leave in the wake of his sudden silence. No explanation, no excuse, just a sharp snap or the flutter of wings, and he would be gone.

Gadreel always let him go.

"He needs time," he would say. "This is hard for him."

Castiel never quite knew what Gadreel was referring to, but he didn't think it was his place to ask.

Author's Notes: Hey all! Here's an early Valentine's Day present for you. Believe it or not, I've been a really prolific writer as of late, it's just been spread across four projects. So with luck, more from me sooner rather than later. Review are loved and appreciated, but I appreciate my silent readers too. Happy Reading! -Shadow