So I write to make myself feel better. Still no news on my convention, but since it's the weekend that's to be expected. This is it, the final chapter and I think I got it all wrapped up! This silly thing changed from my original plan twice during it's creation, once when it went from one shot to multi-chapter fic, and again when it decided that it wanted to be a lot less dark than I had originally intended. I don't see that as a bad thing.

Chapter Eighteen.

Sam's startled cry of his brother's name is cut abruptly short when he finds himself in the motel parking lot looking straight at the Impala. He glares at Gabriel for a long moment who pulls a face at him and shrugs.

"You want to watch?" He asks, head tilting ever so slightly and Sam wonders whether this is something that all angels do, or if it is just the slightly more rebellious kind. "I'll put you back if you like, but really, I didn't think you swung that way."

The meaning behind Gabriel's words makes Sam narrow his eyes and scrunch his nose up a little in disgust because he really does not need to be having thoughts like that involving Dean under normal circumstances, let alone his brother with an angel of all things.

"Wait, you're okay with that?" He asks, and honestly he is surprised by the realisation that Gabriel is not in the slightest bit bothered by what is surely happening between Dean and Castiel behind the locked door.

"It's none of my business," the archangel says, though Sam suspects that is not the entire truth, "and I haven't exactly been a saint since I took up this whole Trickster gig anyway." He holds up his hands and looks at them, starting to walk away then turning to look at the hunter when he does not follow. "Coming? Because I promise you, you don't want to be in there."

Sam glances back at the motel room door, grimaces a little when he gets the mental image, and follows the archangel as he heads to the diner across the street. He waits until they are sat down before he repeats the question that Dean's sudden display with Castiel interrupted.

"So what changed your mind?" He queries as the waitress sets a coffee in front of him and a hot chocolate in front of Gabriel. "I mean, you weren't exactly eager to help us." On one level he is cursing himself for asking this, because he is supposed to be keeping Gabriel on side, not reminding him of his reasons for not helping in the first place.

"I was watching," the archangel runs his finger around the top of his mug, seeming suddenly young. "Of all of them, Castiel's the only one who wants the fighting to stop as much as I do. Not for the same reasons, but he wants this to end and he's doing something positive about it. I'm not convinced it'll work, and I still think that the only way to really stop it is for you and Dean to play your parts, but Castiel's doing what he can."

"So it was Cas?" Which Sam honestly finds hard to believe given that the last time Gabriel and Castiel saw each other, Gabe had just sent him somewhere to have the hell beaten out of him.

"No," their plates of food appear and the archangel pauses until the waitress is gone. "It was Zachariah. For centuries he has been the loudest voice among my brethren calling for the war between Michael and Lucifer to be resumed. He wanted the chaos. He wanted the fighting to carry on." The humour that the archangel has spent so long developing and cultivating so that it seems convincing is gone, but Sam understands.

"Do you think it will stop, now that Zach's gone?" The young hunter asks and Gabriel's answering smile is sad. "It never stops," he answers the question himself. "What are you going to do now?"

Gabriel takes a mouthful of his drink as he thinks and then shrugs a little. "Nothing's changed, Sam," he says. "The war's still being fought, I still think you and Dean should be falling over yourselves to play vessel for my brothers and I'm still going to keep doing what I do."

"But you helped us back there!" Sam cannot keep the frustration he feels from showing and yet he is not entirely surprised that Gabriel would apparently prefer to remain in the background. If the young hunter had a choice, he would rather be an anonymous bystander too.

"No, I helped Castiel," the archangel insists, waving his fork and letting a blob of ice cream drop back onto his plate of pie. "Little Bro' may not have exactly the most noble or right motivation, but he wants this to stop. I keep him alive, I keep all my options open." Gabriel is doing that same crazed stare thing that Cas does and Sam finds it more than a little unnerving to be the one on the receiving end of it. "Castiel's trying to find Dad and as long as he's not getting in my way and keeps on trying to stop all of this, I'm not going to hurt him." He pauses. "Too much, anyway."

Still, Sam can read the rest that Gabriel has not bothered to say. He can see it in the feigned nonchalance, can tell that as soon as Castiel becomes an inconvenience the archangel will not wait before he wastes him. Sam nods his understanding.

"Great. Well, this has been fun, but I've got business to attend to." Gabriel raises his fingers, poised as if to snap them and then stops, something like mischief on his face and in his eyes. "Oh, one other thing. That offer Lucifer made Castiel? The Morning Star told him that if he handed you over, he would be allowed to keep Dean when Lucifer wins. Interesting that the one of us who absolutely hates humanity is the one who picks up on what your brother and mine want from each other first." With that he is gone, leaving Sam alone in the diner to digest his words as the food he just ate sits heavily in his stomach.

Sam understands the implication behind Gabriel's words, he is not stupid after all, but it makes him wonder, makes him worry and he hurriedly throws some money on the table for the food and drinks as he all but races from the diner. He is not actually concerned that Cas will really hand him over to Lucifer, that is something that Sam is fairly certain Castiel understands about Dean, that protecting Sam comes above all things. Even Dean's own life and Sam really is tired of this sacrificing himself for others thing that his brother has going for him.

First, however, he has to deal with this thing that Dean and Castiel have suddenly started, because while it explains a great deal of his brother's behaviour the last several months, or pretty much since he had been pulled from Hell, it does not make Sam particularly comfortable. When he gets back to the motel room he knocks, because even though there is no sock on the door he has been caught out too many times in the past to run the risk of doing it again, especially with the incredible detail that his mind is providing him with of it's own accord.

Dean takes a moment to answer the door, but when he does he has his jeans on and over his shoulder Sam can see that Cas is also in a similar state of dress, or undress depending on which way this thing he interrupted was going. From the less than annoyed expression on Dean's face, Sam would say he came back on the right side of undressed and ignores the question his brother's green eyes shoot at him. The sound of the door closing is soft and then Dean is standing at Castiel's side, his expression tight and wary where Castiel seems to have closed down and is once more the expressionless angel that Sam first met.

"Sam?" Dean asks and there is almost a note of hesitation in his voice, like he is expecting his brother to throw a fit, to scream and rage about how he just defiled an angel. Truthfully, that was Sam's original plan and some of that must have shown in his face because Castiel steps forward, as though he is expecting Sam to do exactly that and the younger hunter is surprised by just how in tune with Dean Cas suddenly seems to be.

"So, you and Cas?" He honestly cannot think of anything else to say at this point.

"Yeah, me and Cas," and Dean smiles at him, honest to Castiel's Father smiles and while it does not silence Sam's misgivings about this, he finds that he cannot air them here, cannot air them now because it has been too long since he saw Dean this happy. "This is going to be awkward, isn't it?" His older brother mutters through the tension.

"What about Lucifer?" Sam asks suddenly instead, sees Dean frown at the sudden shift in topic. "Gabriel told me what he offered you and what he wanted in exchange." He directs this at Castiel, who's head is tilted at an uncomfortable angle even as his eyes take on an expression that Sam cannot quite decipher but that his brother seems to understand fairly well. They must have spent more time hunting together than Sam realised, or Dean probably loves the angel which just makes this whole discussion more awkward and makes Sam want it over as soon as possible.

"Lucifer's offer was never an option, Sam. I wouldn't hand you over to him simply because it suited my wishes." There is an unspoken 'unlike some' on the end of that and Sam realises just how stupid it was to go off on his own with Gabriel. He reminds himself not to do it again.

"So you and Cas, huh?" He mumbles at Dean again and he comes to the conclusion that this probably has not fully sunk in yet. He needs some time, and a new brain, to work through all of this. "I'm getting my own room," he tells them, nods absently and grabs his things.

"Think he's going to be okay with this?" He hears Dean asks as he closes the door, hears the low growl of Castiel's reply and pauses with his fingers light against the handle. This is weird, his brother is not into guys, but somehow, that does not seem to matter anymore and Dean is not freaking out about it. Yet. Which makes it somehow better in Sam's mind. He needs time to get used to it, but he knows that he will. Dean has a chance to be happy now and the younger man is going to do everything in his power to make sure that happens.

Besides, if Castiel hurts his brother there is still enough holy oil in the trunk of the Impala to deep fry another three angels at least.

Fin.

I think the number eighteen holds some sort of significance to my subconscious. Also, I've grown to like writing Gabriel and intend to use him as much as possible in the future, which is fortunate with my next fic.

Poke the button one more time for me, please?

Artemis