Title: Please Don't Take a Picture
Summary: Sam has a bad day, and Gabriel, for reasons best known to himself, tries to help. Written for the first-ever square of my schmoop_bingo card. The prompt was "Bad Day." This takes place somewhere in-between "Changing Channels" and "Hammer of the Gods."
Spoilers: General spoilers for Season 5. Nothing specific.
Word count: 2,858
Warnings: Bad language. Sam has a potty mouth. ;)
Disclaimer: If they were mine they'd bleed a lot more. I think we should all be grateful they don't belong to me in any fashion.
Neurotic Author's Note #1: Written at the instigation of peppervl. She wanted Sam/Gabriel, and this is as close as I could get to that. Yeah, it's gen, and mostly neither Sam nor Gabriel really know what's going on here.
Neurotic Author's Note #2: Okay, so the schmoop took some doing, and there's probably a lot more angst in there than there should be. Writing schmoop is hard!
Neurotic Author's Note #3: Unbeta'd, written in one go, you know the drill. Read at your own peril.
Neurotic Author's Note #4: Title taken from the R.E.M. song "Bad Day."
It's all Sam can do not to groan in despair when Dean calls dibs on first shower and disappears into the bathroom. To be fair, they're both battered and bruised after a hunt that took all afternoon and half the night instead of a couple of hours. One vengeful spirit turned out to be an entire family, and if Sam never has to torch another child's toy in his life, it'll be too soon. He and Dean had yet another argument on the way back about whether or not it was a good idea for Sam to throw himself between Dean and flying weaponry, which devolved into the usual pattern of 'it-doesn't-matter-if-I-die-I'm-Lucifer's-vessel' on his part and 'we-are-not-discussing-this-you-don't-get-a-say' on Dean's. Then they spent the last twenty minutes driving in complete silence, for which Sam is grateful, if only because his head is throbbing from where it connected very solidly with an oak chest. Otherwise, he thinks glumly, the song remains the same. He wonders how long they'll be able to pretend that everything's normal before Dean finally snaps and throws him out for good.
He eases himself onto the end of the bed, stretches out the leg that took the brunt of a particularly bad fall, wincing as his knee protests, then bends over to unlace his boots, fumbling with fingers that have long since gone numb. Pain lances through the shoulder he nearly dislocated as he tries to remove his jacket, and he gives it up as a bad job, lying back on the bed and trying to get stiff muscles to unknot. His eyes slip shut, although he can still sense the light from the bedside lamp through his eyelids, making his headache worse, and he throws an arm over his eyes to shield them from the dim glow. His stomach feels off, and he prays he doesn't have a concussion on top of everything else.
The bathroom door opens and then shuts again with a slam —trust Dean to be loud even when it involves a door. He doesn't bother moving, has a sneaking suspicion that his back is going to hate him for even trying.
"Shower's all yours," Dean says, flicking a wet towel at him. Sam flinches, but doesn't answer. "You going to lie there like a lump or what?" Sam just grunts, and he can practically feel Dean rolling his eyes. "Don't try too hard now, Sammy. You might strain something. You alive in there?" he smacks Sam on his bad knee, eliciting a pained yelp.
"Dean, Jesus!" He cranes his neck painfully to see Dean sliding on a pair of form-fitting jeans and a clean shirt, the standard blowing-off-steam-in-the-nearest-bar uniform. "Isn't it a bit late to go out?"
Dean snorts. "What, are you going to entertain me? I don't think so. You spend way too much time on the internet. You coming, or are you gonna stay here like a big old emo freak?"
Sam doesn't bother answering —he thinks he might actually pull another muscle if he tries, and Dean pulls on his leather jacket, turns up the collar, and slams the door on his way out. If nothing else, Sam tells himself, he ought to be grateful for Dean's amazing powers of recuperation. His brother, the human rubber bouncing ball. He waits the requisite ten minutes to make sure Dean's not coming back, then glances at the bathroom door. A shower would make him feel better, he's pretty sure, but there's the whole problem of getting all the way there. It hasn't been that long, but it feels as though all his muscles have seized up. He manages to roll over on his stomach, then buries his head in the lumpy motel pillow with a stifled groan.
"You run out of Rub A535 there, cowboy?"
Sam starts so violently that his vision greys out for a second. He lets himself fall back onto the bed with another groan. "Oh, fuck me."
Gabriel smirks from where he's leaning against the wall by the bed, arms folded over his chest. "Don't extend invitations you don't mean, bucko."
Oh, this day just keeps getting better. "How'd you find us? I thought we were invisible to angels. "
Sam thinks he should be worried, or really pissed off, or something, but mostly he's just really damned tired and his whole body aches. He finds himself kind of hoping that, whatever Gabriel has in mind this time, it'll get done fast and maybe even be permanent.
"You might be invisible, but your car isn't."
The logic is sound, and Sam finds himself wondering just how Dean would react to the carving of Enochian sigils on his baby's insides. "Why are you here?"
"I'm bored. You've always been an endless source of entertainment for me, so I thought I'd look you up."
"Fuck off. Go find Dean. He's out picking up chicks —more your speed."
"But it's not as much fun to torture him. You make the most adorable bitch faces. He's not nearly as entertaining when he freaks out."
"I'm not saying yes to Lucifer. So fuck off."
Gabriel clucks his tongue, then perches on the side of the bed. Sam clamps down on his tongue as the bed dips, making every single muscle in his body scream in protest. "What makes you think I'm here to torture you into saying yes?"
"Because that's what you did last time?"
"Point. But no. I figure you're going to say yes eventually. It's fate, blah blah blah. I'm millions of years old. What's a few more months to wait for my brothers to make the world go out in a giant ball of flames?"
Sam wants to drown himself in a bottle of aspirin, and maybe a bottle of JD to wash it down and make sure he's well and properly drowned. "I don't suppose asking you nicely to go away would work?"
"Nope. Like I said, I'm bored, and you're the nearest source of entertainment. Come on, I'm practically omnipotent, and I've come more or less in peace," Gabriel bounces on the bed, and this time Sam can't quite bite back a hiss of pain. "You're not as lively as usual," the archangel notes.
"Fuck off. Please."
"Rude and polite and all in three words. Impressive. So how come you're not out painting the town red with that brother of yours? Or did you two have another tiff? That's been happening a lot lately. Anyone would think he doesn't trust you."
Sam twitches. "He doesn't," spills from his lips before he can consider the wisdom of saying anything remotely personal to an archangel who has, without fail, made their lives a living hell every time they've crossed paths.
Gabriel snorts. "You want some cheese to go with that whine? Poor me, I'm Lucifer's vessel and my brother doesn't like me. Sounds familiar. No wonder my brothers picked the both of you. It's like having a low-resolution replay of the last time." He conjures a beer bottle out of thin air, cracks it open with a bottle opener, also conjured out of thin air. "You want one?"
Sam doesn't answer, shoves himself to a sitting position, wincing as the movement jars his shoulder. Instinctively he pulls in his injured arm, cradling it against his chest. His fingers are still numb, and when he looks down he's not entirely surprised to see that his wrist is purple and swollen. Just great. Another reason for Dean to be mad at him, if it turns out to be broken
"I need a shower. Please be gone by the time I get out."
Gabriel doesn't have a smart retort for that, but he smirks and folds his arms over his chest, seemingly waiting for something. Sam just rolls his eyes, but when he tries to get up he finds that his knee has completely locked, the pant leg of his jeans stretched taught. He swears under his breath, glances up to find Gabriel staring at him.
"Take a picture, it'll last longer," he snaps, the last of his almost non-existent patience ebbing away. "Come on," he feels a whine creeping into his voice, and hates himself for it. "I've had a shitty day. Whatever torture you've got in mind, just get it over with okay? I just want a shower and to be left alone."
"Doesn't look like you're going to make it that far," Gabriel comments, and he feels a surge of anger —which he tells himself is completely rational. He has every reason to hate the trickster-turned-archangel, and it's not like there's any love lost on Gabriel's part either.
"Fuck you," he says, though there's no real heat in the words. He starts as he feels a hand on his good shoulder, pulling him back on the bed, swallows a grunt of pain. "What're you doing?"
"I'm a lot stronger than you, so I suggest you don't resist. You'll just hurt yourself more," Gabriel doesn't explain himself, just makes it clear he wants Sam on the bed. He snaps his fingers, and Sam finds a bottle of aspirin in his lap. He blinks at Gabriel.
"What. The fuck. Are you doing?" he says slowly, but the archangel just grins.
"Humour me." Gabriel pokes him in his good shoulder, and Sam finds himself sinking back in spite of himself. He keeps having to remind himself that even though he's about a foot taller than the guy, Gabriel is an archangel, and could fold him into a pretzel without breaking a sweat. "I'm trying something new. Turn over."
"Turn. Over. Don't make me do it myself."
"I'm not taking part in your sick little mind games."
Gabriel rolls his eyes. "Oh, for the love of... fine. Ye of little faith," he snaps his fingers, and in the next moment Sam is on his stomach —and minus most of his clothes. He yelps and flails, but Gabriel's got a hand between his shoulder blades and is pinning him to the bed. "Relax, Gigantor. You might even like this. I have no designs on your virtue, I promise. Didn't I tell you I was trying something new?"
"That's not exactly reassuring," Sam mutters into the pillow. At least Gabriel left him his boxers. It's not much, but it's something. The archangel lets out a whistle, and Sam can't help but shudder as he feels fingers tracing along the bruises mottling his left side.
"You really did a number on yourself there, kiddo."
"Technically it was the ghost of a five-year-old girl. Ow!" he shifts —or tries to, anyway— under Gabriel's hand.
Sam can't exactly move his head to look at the archangel pinning him to the bed, but he gives it a good try anyway. "Did you actually just apologize to me?"
"Don't get used to it. So what hurts?"
"We playing doctor all of a sudden? Because, let me tell you, you're not exactly what I'm looking for."
"Humour me," Gabriel repeats. "What hurts?"
There's a patient sigh. "What hurts the most? This?" He traces the fingers of his free hand over Sam's swollen wrist.
"Close contest between that and my knee, if you really want to know." This may well qualify as the most surreal conversation Sam has ever had, even including ones that start with 'so this killer truck.'
"Okay, let's see what we can do about that, then."
Sam hears another finger-snap, and then both wrist and knee are enveloped in cold. The sensation is so sudden and unexpected that he doesn't even have time to swallow a sigh of relief. He twists his head, sees that there's a gel pack wrapped around his wrist, moulded into the perfect shape. It's not much of a stretch to imagine there's one around his knee too. Gabriel's hand is still pressed up against his spine.
"You going to relax and stay put if I take my hand away?" the archangel leans forward to whisper in his ear, and Sam nods.
"Do I have a choice?"
"Nope. Hold still, and relax, for God's sake. I won't bite. Not you, in any case. You're note my type."
Sam doesn't quite relax, but he does hold still. The bed bounces a bit, as though Gabriel is rearranging his weight, and the pungent scent of menthol fills the air. "What are you doing?" he lets out a strangled moan a moment later, biting so hard on his lip he nearly draws blood as he feels thick fingers digging into his back. "Oh God..."
"What's it look like I'm doing? Quit asking stupid questions. Honestly, I thought you were supposed to be the smart brother."
Even if he wanted to come up with a smart answer, Sam is pretty sure that that ship has sailed. He thinks his brain might just leak out his ears, and right now even that sounds pretty damned awesome. He doesn't want to think too hard about where Gabriel acquired his apparently fantastic massage skills, definitely doesn't want to think too hard about what's going to happen when the other shoe drops. The room has turned unexpectedly warm, even though the thermostat was broken when they came in, and the bed feels a lot softer and more comfortable than he remembers it being before.
"D'you do something?" he murmurs, feeling his eyelids droop. He feels clean, too, he realizes, as though he spent that twenty minutes in the shower he'd been planning on.
"You talk too much. At least you've stopped wriggling around like an overgrown caterpillar."
The archangel's hands shift to a tender spot, going more gently when he flinches, then gradually increase their pressure until the knot simply melts away. Sam makes a contented sound, not caring what anyone thinks anymore. If he's going to be subjected to some new and especially depraved form of psychological torture after this, at least he's going to go out relaxed and not in pain.
"Look, this isn't exactly how I was planning on spending my night either. I'm considering it a social experiment, so just go with it."
"Hm," Sam agrees distantly.
He's drifting, bone-weary from carrying his own damned weight for the past two years, which has been getting increasingly heavy with every passing day. Sometimes, it's very hard to remember why he's supposed to get out of bed every day. He feels a hand press to the back of his neck, and for a moment it feels like Dean's hand —like Dad's— and he tenses, throat tightening, because he doesn't deserve that, not now. The hand pushes down, preventing him from twisting away. Stronger than anything human, but still gentle.
"What did I just say?" Gabriel's voice is as gentle as his touch, just as firm. "I get that you're tired. I do. Better than most, in fact. Why do you think I left?"
"Tried that. Twice. Didn't work," Sam mumbles, already sinking back into the bed.
"Didn't work for me either," Gabriel confesses, so quietly Sam can almost believe he imagined it. He's pretty sure he doesn't imagine what comes after, though.
"Dude, are you stroking my hair?"
Gabriel snorts. "Go to sleep."
And, a moment later, he does.
He barely stirs when Dean comes banging into the motel room a few hours later. Dean sheds his clothes and tosses them over the back of a chair, wrinkling his nose. "Jesus, Sammy. Did you take a bath in the Icy/Hot? Never mind, I don't want to know." He glances over at him when there's no response. "Hey, you okay?"
Sam hums something vaguely affirmative, but of course Dean doesn't take his word for it. He switches on the bedside lamp, unwraps the now-warm gel pack from Sam's wrist, brushes his fingers gently across the swelling. "Got knocked around pretty good, huh?"
"'S not so bad now," Sam nestles further into his bed. There is no way he's going to explain to his brother what happened during his absence. There's no way to put it that won't come out sounding wrong. "Prob'ly a hairline fracture."
"Same arm as before?"
"You need anything? Aspirin?"
"'M good. Already took some."
Dean sighs, then smooths a hand over Sam's forehead, brushing the hair away from his face. "Okay, get some sleep. We'll get you checked out in the morning."
Moments later Dean has slid under the covers of the other bed, his breathing deep and even in the stillness of the room. Sam lets his eyes drift shut again, waits for sleep to claim him.
Tells himself he's imagining the rustling of invisible wings in the darkness.