Disclaimer: 'Supernatural', characters and premise, belongs to Eric Kripke and all his assorted minions, none of whom are me (but I can dream). 'Van Helsing' characters and premise property of Stephen Somers.
A/N: I wanted it to be short, I said. Ten pages later . . . Mentions of 'Faith'. I'd have to set it late Season 2. Inspired by the following segment -
Sam: "And you've got angels filed under the 'bullcrap' list."
Dean: "Because I've never seen one."
Summary: Sometimes, seeing is believing. Sometimes . . . it isn't. All in all, just watch what you file under 'bullcrap'. Crossover with 'Van Helsing'
NO SUCH THING
"Dean . . . who was that guy?"
Moves like a friggin' shadow. And with an introduction that consisted only of tossing a bag of silver bullets their way before disappearing into the underbrush . . . No hunter I've ever met. Or heard of. "Got me."
The only sound he could hear was the grinding of his brother's teeth; not even insects were prowling the darkened ranks of evergreens. August heat meant they should be out, adding to night noises the Winchester brothers would have to listen around for any hint of wolf-sign. Still, it was Wyoming.
Quiet. Soft. "I know, Sammy." We can't do anything until we kill the werewolf, and you know it. But Sam had a point. After Gordon Walker, their luck with other hunters had been hellish all around. And this' just gotten off to a great start. No friggin' idea where he went. Super. If the dude got shot, he had only himself to blame.
A sigh huffed toward him; Sam ducked past needled branches, silver-loaded handgun leading the way. Dean pressed left, eyes straining through the night. Under the cover of the forest, light from the first full moon of the month did them little good. It was damn dark.
Biker boots whirled; familiar warmth had his back as Dean searched thick blackness, head cocked for the slightest sound. Werewolf, or hunter? Toss up, at this point – neither of them knew where the stranger had gotten off to. Hell, for all we know, he's ditched the hunt and is back at a bar!
Dean shook his head, then remembered. "Na-uh."
They were too good to startle, but damn that was close. And to the –
"West," Sam hissed. Dean could hear his frown. Sure as hell can't see it. Dark as - "You see -"
A sharp, shorter bark. Rougher tone. North. "Oh, hell."
They're still pack animals, Dean could hear Dad saying, years ago in the Michigan wilds. Still have the instincts to hunt together. If there's one alone, you won't hear it before you see it, won't even know it's there until it's right on top of you. But if there's a pack, you'll hear 'em talking to each other.
And by the time you do, you've been surrounded.
Sam's bulk pressed against his back; Dean's brain was already calculating possible angles of attack while they moved, as one, further down the path. The deer-track was really too narrow for the two bodies pressed side-to-side, but Winchesters could make do with the best of them.
"One's a lone wolf," his brother's low voice breathed over the cool wind. "Two's a mated pair. Three's a pack."
Another yip, the slightest shade west of north; answered from dead west.
"You remember that, huh?" Pacing slowly to Dean's left, Sam matched him step for step, searching for soft footing.
"Yeah." A breath steadied the body behind him. Sam's voice was grim. "We surrounded, you think, or are they just herding us?"
"Two so far." This sucks out loud. Dean watched a ripple in the underbrush, catching the faint scrape of light fur against darker leaves. The barrel of the .45 followed the movement. "They're not singin' the hunt yet, so we've got time. Car's back thataway," he knew Sam wouldn't see his head tilting to the west, but it didn't matter. Gotta get Sammy outta here.
His brother was an adult, as he was so fond of reminding Dean. He can handle himself. That wasn't the problem. They'd planned for one, come armed for twice that, but if any more surprises popped up –
"North," Sam said tightly. "If we move fast, we can break through the line. Get back to the car."
And the supplies, Dean mentally filled in. Dirt scuffed under black boots as he pressed one shoulder back against Sam. His brother shifted obligingly until Dean was nearly full-on facing the northwest. "I like the way you think, little brother."
Deep breath. "Two – go!"
Oxygen seared his throat as he let it out on a piercing shout. Thorns tore at ragged denim, thin branches whipping the skin of his face as Dean plunged forward. A squeeze of the trigger to his left yielded nothing; the report echoing off to the right from his brother's gun was followed by a growl. Great, now it's really pissed. Think, Dean, think! One on Sam's side. Where's the other?! "Son of a bitch!"
"All clear ahead! Run!"
Too damn tall. Sam was practically running him down; his brother's shout nearly deafened Dean. "Where's the other -"
Disjointed pain in one ankle registered as he hit the dirt, already rolling, struggling to bring the gun up in time. He felt the brush of air and hissed curse as Sam, surprised, leapt over him, werewolf only feet behind. Not gonna make it -
Dean had half a second to appreciate his vulnerable position before tearing agony wrapped in claws and fur slammed him into blackness.
The pure panic in the boy's voice whipped his head toward the shout.
Shoving through the brush, he saw the taller of the two before his eyes caught the whole of the scene; Gabriel sucked in a shocked breath.
Blood dripped from heaving fur. Rattling gasps assaulted his ears. They brought it down. Gabriel couldn't help the raised brow. He'd come across human hunters only occasionally over the years; the organization which guided the Knights of the Holy Order hadn't truly extended to the New World. Those who arose in this new land were no less skilled than the hunters trained by the Order, but their spirit was different. Not fighting a holy war, but for something else -
A broken whisper redirected hazel eyes. "Dean." Long fingers searched out each wound in the darkness without prodding so much as a sound from the man in the dirt. Came back stained.
Brief words of prayer slipped past the hunter's lips; the light of life around the prone form was already fading. He's -
The taller of the two youths whirled, crouched by the still, crimson-tainted form of his brother. Unforgiving steel settled on his heart. Good reflexes. Better aim. Gabriel lifted both hands, weaponless.
Blue-green stared unblinkingly. "You."
"I can help you." He had to. A very few things in this world were meant to be – and this, most assuredly, was not one of them. This is my fault.
And he was bound to rectify it.
"There's another one, out there somewhere. Its mate." But the boy kept pressure on the steady flow of copper-scented blood even as he spoke, both eyes and all his attention firmly on his brother. "Come on, Dean. Stay with me. Wake up, Dean. Dean!"
Gabriel took two steps forward; close enough to smell wet copper on the air. "No. There was only the one."
Irritation tinged the beginnings of the puzzled frown the boy tossed at him. "We heard two – one north and the other off to the west." A quick glance to the werewolf, shuddering faintly now in the last of its death-throes. He was needed there as well.
Gabriel shook his head, grimacing in guilt. They heard – and thought – oh, no. "I had to flush it out."
Shock, for a short moment, stole words right out of the tall boy's mouth. "That was you?!"
'May others be as passionate in their hunting of you.' Gabriel blinked his way out of the memory in time to see the gun return its one-handed focus to his heart. The Frankenstein was right.
Regret rolled over him in a steady wave; no matter how many years he walked the Earth, his failure to protect any of his Father's children tore Gabriel's heart. Abba, please, don't let that change anything. "Please. Let me help."
"Why should I?" Accusation was burning blue eyes in a face blanched by fear and anger.
Blood was slowly soaking the dirt, adding a sinister dampness to black soil. "Because he doesn't have time for us to argue."
Gabriel couldn't properly see the boy's expression through the dark; it was enough that something flashed over his face, and he shifted aside, gun coming down. Two steps closer landed the older hunter on his knees in blood-warmed dirt and pine needles, reaching for a pulse. One, two, three cuts – claws. What little light filtered through dense tree cover gleamed off bone. One of the slashes was lower, cutting deeply through skin and muscle to nick sensitive organs beneath. "Did it bite him?"
"No," was the short response. The boy had propped Dean's head on his leg, hands soothing and carefully monitoring each shaky, shallow breath.
Small mercies made the world. Gabriel pressed, hard, against the gushing of blood, and somehow forced a moan from unconscious lips. I need to – But there was only one way, now. They were in the middle of nowhere, the nearest hospital a good half-hour away. And one of Father's children is dying under my hands.
Gabriel paused then, to look at the younger brother. "What's your name?"
"Sam." Blue-green never lost its focus, gazing down on slack features.
Gabriel took a breath, and in a heartbeat's space of time reached deep within and set all veneers of humanity to the side. Power curled up, hazel eyes opened and he looked.
Not just with the light of life, tenuous as it was, but with something more that Gabriel had rarely seen. Something that would give every oath they swore in his Father's name a power to make the Fallen cringe. Enough power that they could hold the oath true. In Sam, it was ever-so-slightly smudged and smeared, overshadowed by the touch of something he recognized.
The Nameless Ones.
Those who had lost the right to the names Father had given them when they rebelled, and twisted themselves into something altogether opposite of what they had been born into being. He had known for some time that they were on Earth, but they avoided him no matter how he tried to seek them out, and spent their time playing with human lives instead. Whichever one had touched these brothers had missed Dean's intensity, hidden as it was, and honed in on the radiance Sam carried, trying to twist and taint free will into choosing them.
But that was only because they feared the brilliance of what these mortals carried, souls burning with a steady light beyond the flickering candle-flames of the rest of humanity.
What he was searching for, however, was not there. Sam isn't a conduit. One of those few mortals who could channel the power he commanded into a laying on of hands and remain unaffected by it. Gabriel could heal Dean without using a conduit – but it would change him. No choice.
And the blink of time he took to see clearly was over; Gabriel gathered the power, then, and turned it to warmth and wholeness and healing and poured it into the still body, latching soul to flesh.
Blood slowed, and flesh knitted seamlessly. Lungs expanded under his hands; Dean choked softly, and breathed.
Gabriel sat back, weariness soaking into each bone. Turned to look at Sam. And found himself staring straight down the barrel of a gun.
"What are you?"
The stranger's hands were carefully raised, but the man was still far too close to his brother for Sam's comfort. His brother, who was shifting now against the ground, green-gold eyes blinking open. "Sam?"
He's alive he's awake he's okay - "Dean?!"
The stranger pulled back quickly as Sam rushed forward, one hand seeking the slashes that had almost cut his brother from this life and into the next.
Skin, clean and smooth, met his fingers. 'There's only one thing that can give and take life like that. We're dealin' with a Reaper.' Dean's voice echoed in memory, but something wasn't right. 'You can only see 'em when they're comin' at you . . .' Sam could hear the shock in his own voice. "Dean, are you -"
"'M fine, Sam." It was the puzzlement in green eyes that convinced him, even as he pulled his big brother to his feet. A chill raced through him anyway. Nothing good ever comes without a price. Roy LeGrange had taught them that. So what is this going to cost?
Dean fingered the rips in his shirt, and Sam swallowed back nausea as cooling blood smudged his brother's skin. Dean looked up. "What happened?"
I don't know. Sam gestured over his shoulder, toward the werewolf, and forced himself to shrug casually. "You tripped and went down. I couldn't get it before it – you lost a lotta blood -"
"It's okay, Sam." But Dean stiffened as his eyes followed Sam's hand. "What the -"
In time to see the stranger reach out to the werewolf, ducking feebly scratching claws with ease. Movement to his left; Dean was searching for his gun. But the stranger's hands landed squarely on the heaving chest, digging into blood-matted fur. And for some reason, all Sam could think was, Too late.
Only – it wasn't.
The light was dimmer this time, not the brilliance that had destroyed his night vision and left Sam with spots blinking behind dazed eyelids. He could squint and still see; and the astonished breath at his side told Sam that Dean could, too.
Wings. He has wings.
Not a hint of feathers; instead, shafts of fluttering light flared out from the stranger's shoulders, half-spread and glimmering against the night. It was wonder and amazement and awe cresting through every beat of his heart. Sam wasn't afraid. It's . . . beautiful.
Then the brightness surrounding the stranger and the dying werewolf blazed higher, taking all vision with it.
Can't see – defenseless – where's -
Warm fingers curled around his arm. Dean. Sam gripped back, reassured by the pulse beating steadily in the wrist under his fingertips.
And the blackness of seared retinas slowly gave way to the darkness of a national park in the first hours of a new day. Across the clearing made by bodies thrashing undergrowth flat, the stranger was draping his long coat over the unconscious form of a boy no more than fourteen, with ragged clothes and close-cropped orange curls.
The stranger looked up, tiredness in hazel eyes that shone too brightly for such a normal face.
Instantly, Dean was a step forward and half in front of him. "What the hell's goin' on here? Who are you?"
The stranger's face went curiously blank. Waiting for a reaction. So we won't give him one. "My name is Gabriel."
Sam's brain put together light and wings and Gabriel and his jaw sagged, all resolution to keep calm flying out the proverbial window. No way.
Dean was a little more articulate. "You've gotta be kiddin' me."
It wasn't that they didn't believe. Hell, they were Winchesters – their lives depended on belief. The words of an exorcism meant nothing if you didn't hold to the power behind them. But faith is something else entirely. Sam knew that Dean despised faith and all its connotations; found public displays of 'belief' more a case of one-upmanship among holier-than-thou community members than true reverence. Their Dad and God hadn't been on speaking terms for twenty-three years, but Sam had always looked to Dean first; his older brother had practically raised him.
So, Sam believed.
Just haven't had a lotta proof recently.
The stranger – Gabriel – kept his voice low. "We need to get him home."
"Fine." Dean moved, going to help the stranger carry the werewolf-turned-boy. Sam jumped ahead of him, meeting his brother's annoyed glare with one of his own. Healed or not, you lost a lotta blood, Dean. Don't try it.
His older brother's lips pressed tight, said Okay, in an expression anyone else would've missed. Sam nodded, tightening his grip under limp arms. Good. Green-gold eyes shifted to the man carefully hefting the boy's legs, but Dean let Sam speak for the both of them. "But then – we want answers."
"Omnes angeli, boni et mali, ex virtute naturali habent potestatem transmutandi corpora nostra."
"Dude, I know." Dean pulled his coat tighter, covering the gaping holes in his shirt. Latest to join the rag pile. Damn it.
Sam was too big to slump in the uncomfortable plastic forms this Emergency Room was trying to pass off as chairs. Instead, his little brother was perched on the edge of his seat, elbows propped on knees as blue-green eyes stared intently down the hallway.
Half an hour. Not bad, really. The ER had been deserted when they'd driven in, which was something that this place slightly off to the side of Nowhere, Wyoming, had over anywhere more populated. The boy had been admitted immediately, and – Gabriel – had followed the doctor.
"I don't know, man. I mean, d'you think. . . ." Sam floundered, raking one hand through too-long brown strands. Blue-green slanted his way, concern and worry bright in his brother's expression.
Dean hunched forward. "I don't know what to think." One glance at Sammy's face said that that was not going to cut it. He scrubbed a hand over his face and tried again. "When he healed me -" and he wasn't going to think about the weirdness of being able to say that about two separate instances in his life, "- it . . . it didn't feel. . . ." Words deserted him.
"Didn't feel?" Sam prompted gently.
Dean didn't look sideways, avoiding the probing stare. "It didn't feel like – before." Like Roy LeGrange, he wouldn't say. "It didn't feel wrong. It was . . . warm." Safe. He shook the thought away. Concentrated on the electrical hmmm of flickering fluorescent lights instead.
Dean scowled, digging both hands deeper into leather pockets as he slouched back against hard plastic; he wasn't going to squirm, he wasn't. "I can't explain any better'n that, Sam. I . . . don't really remember." What little he could recall of those confused moments before warmth had curled honey-warm inside him consisted of the sharp stab of pain every time he tried to breathe, and a frantic, familiar voice –
That did it. Son of a bitch.
Sam's head snapped toward him, mouth open and about to say something that would plunge them even further into one of those emo chick-flick moments Dean hated, when he was unexpectedly rescued. Gabriel was walking back down the hall, speaking with the doctor. Oh, thank God.
"How is he?" Sam bounded to his feet almost before the doctor and Gabriel were in hearing range.
Dr. Houtman smiled, the expression taking a good ten years off her face. "We're treating him now for exposure and shock, but aside from being very sore tomorrow, he should be fine. It's very lucky you boys found him; lost at the bottom of a ravine like that, his chances wouldn't have been too good alone."
"Good," Sam breathed, smiling.
Dean found his own feet. Ravine, huh? "Yeah, that's great, really. You gonna give his parents a call?"
"Oh, Sean and Eileen are already on their way down," Houtman nodded, noting his look of surprise. Small town, everyone knows everyone else. "Eric wasn't exactly quiet when he snuck out earlier. They were afraid they might be getting this call from the police, but Eric's a good boy. Just a little too enthusiastic about Scouting." She chuckled, the sound overflowing with relief. "I can't wait to see how he's going to explain this. . ."
"Scouting." Dean almost rolled his eyes, but not quite. Shot a look at Sam, and saw the slight nod of agreement; they both rested their eyes on Gabriel, who was murmuring something to the doctor. Good. Time to get some answers. "Right. Well, we better get going."
"Thanks for your help," Sam smiled, earning a return grin from the Dr. Houtman's stern, matronly features.
"No, thank you," was her sincere response. "We don't see many Good Samaritans these days."
"I can imagine." Gabriel's voice was warm and wry with experience. But underneath the normality in his tone, Dean could hear something else, reverberating like a sweetly-struck bell. Something . . . unearthly.
Then he realized what he was thinking, and snorted. Right. Great. C'mon, Dean. Bumped against Sam's arm on the way out of the ER, and kept his voice low. "'Bout time we got our answers, y'think?"
They cornered Gabriel between the dusty truck he'd followed them to the hospital in and Dean's gleaming, cherry-black baby. He let us catch him, the warning voice in Dean's mind whispered. Green-gold flicked over the open stance, empty hands and waiting coat pockets, and his dad's training agreed. Add to that the light-show and . . . It was very probable they were in over their heads, here.
Since when has that stopped us?
Surprisingly, it was Gabriel who shattered the terse silence. "We need to talk."
"Now," Sam agreed. "But not here."
"Not here is right," Dean muttered as a silver four-door was followed by a black-and-white into the parking lot. Eric's parents, probably. Good Samaritan acts or not, he'd been run out of enough towns to be wary. "Motel out on 76," he nodded at Gabriel, pulling out his keys. "Fountain Inn, Room 8. Follow us there."
Flowers. Everywhere.Gabriel blinked back the impression, breathing through heavily perfume-scented air. The brothers had flung a window wide, but scent of gardenias was still thick in the motel room. "Where do you want me to start?"
Dean was propped just inside the door, arms folded. Gabriel could feel the weight of his gaze. "The beginning might be nice." Sarcasm hit every syllable on the way to his ears, and then hung in the air for good measure.
Gabriel couldn't help it; one brow hiked.
"Who are you?" Sam interrupted from across the motel's single table. The younger brother was sitting opposite him, hands hidden below the surface and eyes more curious than wary. Older takes primary exit at the door, leaving the younger to cover the windows. "What are you?"
"My name is Gabriel," he repeated carefully. Weighed the options; but these two were far too attuned to the supernatural to let him slip easily from their memories. And with what they've seen . . . the truth. "They once called me . . . the Left Hand of God."
Sam's face was paper-white. "The Left Hand of God."
Dean stared. "The Left Hand of God? As in, archangel, Messenger, Destroyer, enactor of God's Will on Earth?"
"Something like that," Gabriel snorted.
"And you're – what – wandering the earth curing werewolves?"
Gabriel folded his own arms, leaning back to give Dean an assessing stare. "I'm a hunter."
At that, the older brother scoffed outright.
Sharp blue-green was focused on him, though, and Gabriel met Sam's gaze evenly. "Dean . . . I think he might be telling the truth."
Exasperation from the door. "Sam . . ."
"He healed you, Dean -"
"Yeah? So did Roy LeGrange," Dean snapped, mouth tight.
Who? Gabriel frowned; whoever that was, there was painful history there. And true Healers were . . . very rare.
Sam flinched a little, but persisted lowly, "He healed Eric. I put three silver bullets in him, Dean – no way was he going to survive. He was a werewolf, for God's sake – Gabriel made him shift back to human form on the night of a full moon. Everything we know says that's impossible!"
"I still think that there's a chance we might have overlooked something, that there might be another explanation," Dean's voice was quiet, but firm.
"You said yourself, Dean – when he healed you, it didn't feel wrong."
He remembers that? Gabriel started. He shouldn't – But by all accounts, there were many things these brothers shouldn't be able to do or know. That doesn't appear to have stopped them at all. He spoke into the frustrated silence. "I found out about Eric about a week ago. I didn't expect anyone else to be here."
Too much truth. Thousands of years on the same seven continents, and humanity was still bright and new – young – enough to surprise him.
"There was once an antidote to the werewolf's bite," Gabriel continued, knowing the brothers had their attention fixed squarely on him. "For a different species of werewolf, one that came primarily out of Transylvania. It was . . . the blood of an angel." My blood. "The last known dose was used about a hundred years ago."
"So you didn't use the antidote on Eric," Sam filled in.
Gabriel shook his head. "What I am is . . . different. I am almost mortal, nearly human, but . . . not quite. Being who I am -" and Abba this was difficult to say, "- what you saw in the clearing. That was what I really am. And I didn't do any healing tonight."
Gabriel focused on suddenly cold green-gold.
"What do you mean?" Sam said sharply.
"I put things back, the way they were supposed to be," Gabriel kept his eyes locked on Dean's. "But I left a mark. . . and changed you."
Dean. Changed?Panic was a bare breath beyond the thought. He'd thought it was over – well, apparently he'd thought wrong. His big brother's eyes caught his immediately, a million messages of reassurance and calm there; saying, It's okay, Sammy.
"I don't feel any different."
Dark hair, longer than his own, worked free of the clip at his nape as Gabriel shook his head. "You wouldn't. It's not something overt. Just trust your intuition. You won't know it right away, but eventually you'll be able to sense evil."
"Mark? What mark?" Sam demanded, while Dean was absorbing that bombshell.
The hazel eyes that turned to him made Sam gulp uncomfortably. Not just golden, but almost. . . glowing. Eyes are the windows to the soul. . .
The words that came out of Gabriel's mouth were not what he expected to hear. "It's just a fingerprint, mostly. There's one on you, but what left it is -"
"Is what?" Dean snapped.
Dread took up residence in Sam's bones, weighing him down. Desperation was thick on his tongue, and tasted like blood. He was choking on gardenias. Oh, God – "The Demon."
"It doesn't control you," and there was a timbre to Gabriel's voice that could not be denied. Sam found his eyes locking to the – the archangel's. "It can't. Free will was a gift given by my Father to all his Children, and his Sons, Light or Fallen, never had the power to change that." Confidence gave way to something softer, something sorrowful. "Only other humans could ever do that."
"So what does it mean, this mark on Sam?"
Sam glared, not yet ready for the relief he was feeling. Right, Dean, and what about the mark on you? Typical.
Gabriel frowned, eyes losing their focus as he stared beyond Sam. Okay, little weird. Sam shifted uncomfortably in the cheap, flower-patterned motel chair. A long moment passed. "Whatever left the mark did it so it could find you again," Gabriel said gently. "So that others of its ilk, or who had been touched by what you call the supernatural, would be able to sense it."
It's a tagging device. A locator. And the part of Sam's brain that wasn't going haywire over this was laughing hysterically at being monitored like an endangered species.
Dean's jaw clenched.
"But the two together cancel each other out."
It couldn't possibly be; Winchester luck didn't run that way. Then again, Dean nearly died tonight. Maybe they were due for some good news.
Gabriel spoke quietly then, about evil he knew and what the night's changes meant for them. Sam swallowed the words, examining them and picking them apart for shades of meaning. Dean sat silent, eyes distant, as Gabriel told them shortly about the first of the vampires, and the curse of the werewolf. He's the first hunter. Sam blinked at his brother, the tilt of Dean's head told him the older Winchester was thinking the same thing.
For a long time after Gabriel finished speaking, they sat in heavy silence. True to form, Gabriel was the one to break it. "It's time for me to leave." The hunter stood, stepping past his brother and reaching for the knob.
Sam needed to know. "Will we see you again?"
Gabriel shrugged. "It's a small world." The motel door closed softly, leaving them alone with flower-prints and the sickening scent of gardenias. The places we end up in . . . But really, this motel didn't even make the scale.
Dean huffed out a breath.
"So. . ." Sam bit back a grin. And really, this was just too good to pass up. "Bullcrap, huh?"
"I'm just sayin' . . ."
A/N2: Translation below. Writing this story was a bit like pulling teeth in the era of the caveman; that is, slamming a rock repeatedly against the outside of your jaw and hoping you knock the right one loose. Feedback and any insight / input would thus be very much appreciated.
"Omnes angeli, boni et mali, ex virtute naturali habent potestatem transmutandi corpora nostra." – "All angels, good and bad, have the power of transmutating our bodies." (Dictum of St. Thomas Aquinas.)
Abba – Father, used in reference to God.
As for the cure for werewolf-ism being the blood of an angel . . . watch 'Van Helsing'. The antidote is red, and so I just totally made that up. But it sounds good, doesn't it?