Disclaimer: Supernatural and any and all characters associated with the show are now mind. If they were, the homoerotic undercurrents in the show would be far more glaringly apparent.
Warning: Blasphemy (it's become a standard warning by now, I'm afraid), language, pre-slash, etc, etc, etc.
"To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . ." - The Little Prince
Anansi. Loki. Hermes. Coyote.
Try harder, Sammy.
Wisakedjak. Kerempuh. Awakkule. Set.
Not even close.
Puck. Daucina. Iktomi. Yaw.
You're pushing it, Winchester.
I'll make you a deal. The Trickster says the first night, honey-brown eyes glinting in the dim light of the crappy motel room. He smiles, a slow, easy quirk of his lips that somehow manages to be both amused and condescending. Guess my name, and I'll leave you two alone.
Didn't your mama ever read you the classics? Rumpelstiltskin, Winchester. Winchesters. The day my name falls from your emo-lips, that's the last you see of me.
Sam's first misgiving about the Trickster's apparent death arise when he and Dean walk into their latest motel room to find the pagan god lounging on the bed.
In retrospect, it shouldn't have been that much of a surprise. The Trickster hadn't been anything like the things they normally hunted; the thing was a demi-god, for – well, for someone's sake. He'd thought that the hunt had been too easy; a creature that could conjure alligators from thin air wouldn't have limited himself to a (relatively) unimaginative chainsaw-wielding serial murderer/escaped convict.
Besides. The thing apparently likes them. Enough to drop by (I was in the area anyway) and cheerfully inform them of the fact in a 'surprise-I'm-not-dead!' conversation.
The Trickster very nearly has a laughing fit at the expression on Dean's face.
The youngest Winchester's apprehensions reach record heights when the demi-god cheerfully announces that he likes the Winchester brothers. Most fun I've had in – meh. Long since before you were a glimmer in your daddy's eye.
He feels a headache throb to life in his temple as the creature declares his intentions to stick around for a while.
Fortunately, there is an escape clause.
The first week after the Trickster shows up in their bedroom is spent frantically researching every damn legend they can get their hands on.
Sosruko? Nope. Nanabozho? Nada. Maui? Nah, but she's got huge tracts of –
Sam gains a new appreciation for Tylenol.
They don't give up. There's a werewolf – or something that acts like one, anyway – just across the state border, and in the grand scheme of things – the Trickster's not really all that evil. Yeah, he's a ruthless bloodthirsty monster, but – he leaves people alive. Sometimes. That's more than most of the things they run into do.
It doesn't kill, most of the time; it might leave people terminally embarrassed, but that's not an instant death sentence. There will be time for researching Trickster legends later, time to look up pagan runes on MySpace, but right now -
They've got work to do.
The Trickster, of course, follows them.
They don't forget about the damn thing. It's practically an impossibility, what with how it keeps popping up when they least expect it. But it's not as if the demi-god is actually doing anything – aside from startling Sam nearly out of his skin on a regular basis – and there's always something just a bit more urgent going on at the moment. Enough that Trickster research is second priority as compared to the monster of the week.
It's the little things that tell Sam the Trickster's dropped in to check on them. Candy wrappers scattered across the table of whatever shithole they're sleeping in this time, the absence of the traditional complimentary room mint – Sam likes the mints you find on the bed sometimes – Dean's squawk as his hair turns pink in the shower…
Okay. So that's actually kind of funny.
It's weird how people can get used to anything. Like a pagan demi-god hounding them for entertainment in its spare time, for example.
There are still monsters to hunt, things to kill and people to save. That hasn't changed. Sam gets used to catching glimpses of the brown-haired thing in the most random places, and his eyes now automatically go to the Trickster mythos whenever he browses a mythology website. Sam's taken to composing a list of names, leaving it by his laptop each night before heading to bed. He checks it first thing each morning; each name is inevitably crossed out with rainbow ink.
Nothing's really changed.
About the only difference from their regular (hah) lives is that there's a third party participating in their occasional prank wars. Sam lives in fear of the day the Trickster teams up with Dean. He's not sure he'd survive the experience.
It hasn't happened yet. Still, he's… appropriately cautious.
The Trickster seems to like teaming up with Sam, however.
The candy bars he finds tucked beneath his pillow actually taste good.
Dean teases him about his pen-pal ("Such a girl, Samantha!") but it's actually kind of interesting reading the notes the Trickster leaves on his list of names. It's just gossip, usually. Disbelief that his (The Trickster's) awesomeness could ever be confused with whatever legend Sam's dredged up from the internet. There are snatches of information buried in his words; Sam would never have guessed that Kali and Loki had a 'thing' once, differing pantheons or no. The theological implications alone provide an interesting source of speculation during long car rides.
It's almost like having a friend. A real one, that is; not one of the kids he knew back in college, but someone who actually knows who he is and what he does and doesn't give a shit.
Then Dean makes his deal.
Any sense of camaraderie he might feel with the demi-god vanished when the Trickster killed Dean in order to 'teach him a lesson.'
It's a long time before he sees the Trickster again. The thing stays away from them for the most part, as if it's only just begun to realize that Sam might have been genuinely hurt when it killed his brother over a hundred times in a row.
It acts more like a child than a demi-god at times. Sam's grimly amused by the comparison. His increasingly desperate attempts to get Dean out of the deal are juxtaposed with following up leads on Trickster mythology.
He wants its name.
He wants this thing gone.
Sam catches a glimpse of the Trickster the day before the deal comes due.
It's watching him, expression strangely serious.
When he turns to look, it vanishes.
The Trickster doesn't come to him in the months following Dean's death.
He screams for it until his lungs bleed, desperate to make a deal. He's seen the thing resurrect the freaking dead; it's done it before, it can do it again. He researches it furiously, looking up pagan rituals, prayers, anything and everything in an attempt to summon it, to bind it, to make it bring him back bring him back please…
It never comes.
He still doesn't know its name.
Sam's first thought, after the white-hot swell of rage at the thing imitating his brother has died down into heart-stopping relief is that the Trickster did this. That it brought Dean back to life, that it finally listened to him, that it actually…
Then he listens and learns that it could not possibly have been their friendly neighborhood demi-god.
He doesn't understand the flicker of disappointment that comes with that realization.
The Trickster's response to Dean's resurrection consists of stuffing the Impala with marshmallow peeps.
Dean's subsequent fury is unmollified by the fact that half of them turn out to be chocolate.
The Trickster does not like angels.
It's carefully absent every single time Castiel and his various acquaintances arrive to alternatively badger and/or threaten him and Dean. It's almost a relief, in a strange sort of way; he doesn't have to worry about his hair suddenly turning blue in the middle of the night or Dean's furious roars over the Impala's new upholstery.
It makes sense, of course. Angels probably aren't all that fond of pagan gods. Isn't there something in the Bible about that?
But it's not afraid of demons. Not in the slightest. Sam has seen it laugh in the face of a black-eyed waitress before snapping its fingers; the possessed woman subsequently found herself plunging tail-first into the jello-filled pit that opened beneath her feet.
There's something wrong there, but Sam can't quite place it.
Sam's vaguely amused by the way the Trickster is depicted in Chuck's books.
He very nearly laughs when he finds out that their fans (and god, he still can't quite get over that, they have actual fans) think the demi-god's antics are adorable.
Three days later every single one of their Supernatural books go missing.
The morning after that, Sam wakes up to find himself staring at a startled cow. He's knee-deep in a slaughterhouse.
It takes every single one of his bullshitting skills to explain why he's standing there in nothing more than his underwear.
Apparently, the Trickster doesn't like his skills denounced as 'cute'.
He doesn't ask the thing to help them with the Seals.
Not only is he pretty sure it would laugh in his face, but there's a pattern by now. It tricks them (and hello, Trickster?), it laughs, it leaves – it's down to a routine by now. Sometimes it even leaves candy.
Despite everything the thing's done to them, to him, Sam's mildly stunned to realize he'd miss this small touch of what amounts to semi-normality in an increasingly insane world.
The Trickster's absence becomes pointed after he (ohgodohgod it's my fault it's all my fault I ended the fucking world) kills Lilith.
It shouldn't hurt, but it does.
He finally (finally) learns its name one foggy afternoon when Zachariah's foot is pinning his face to the grimy floor of the abandoned warehouse.
It was a stupid oversight – not the stupidest thing they've ever let slide, but definitely up there in the top ten – that led the angels to them. The carvings on their ribs obscure them from heaven and hell alike, but other things can be located far more easily. There are a certain number of objects that are practically guaranteed to be in their immediate vicinity at all times. Case in point: the Impala
Dean's probably going to kill them for lo-jacking his baby with a particularly nasty Enochian GPS. That is, if they survive this without saying yes – and while Sam's reasonably sure that Dean will agree to being Michael's meatsuit the fifth of never, he's coldly aware that there's a limit to even his brother's infamous will. Sam's too, come to think of it. The angels can't kill them, won't kill them, but that's not particularly comforting right about now; there's only so much that humans can take without snapping at the seams.
And he and Dean are each other's weak spots; always have been, always will be, and Zachariah knows that. He's used it before, and Sam's really not all that interested in finding out what else he's come up with lately. The thought stirs a vague memory, and he's suddenly laughing, chest moving up and down in a stuttering chuckle even as his hands scramble for purchase on gritty concrete. He knows this, he's known it would come down to this since the Mystery Spot, when the Trickster took him and broke him and he gets it now, he gets it, but even so – he wouldn't change it for the world.
Thoughts of the Trickster – memories, images, emotions, everything swirl inside his mind, sloshing back and forth, and he suddenly misses the creature with a fierce desperation all the more surprising for its sheer intensity.
There's a sudden sharp snap.
Pressure falls from his neck like water as something picks Zachariah up and slams him into the wall twenty feet away. Cracks race up and down the wall with the force of him impact. Sam coughs raggedly, scrambling up to his hands and knees as he glances around wildly, automatically searching for the nearest weapon. The youngest Winchester looks up, only to find that the angel looks as flabbergasted as he himself feels. Zachariah's grunts are falling back towards their leader, suddenly looking decidedly less sure of themselves; it's the first time Sam's ever seen something approaching honest fear on their normally emotionless faces. The human twists to the side, following their incredulous expressions as he turns and sees the Trickster's familiar figure walking slowly, deliberately forward.
Zachariah's face is a study of disbelief. "Brother?"
Sam stares, feeling the world lurch sideways, reality reshaping itself as facts suddenly slot into a new perspective. There is nothing, nothing on the Trickster's face, no reaction, no denial – he can't be, he's a Trickster, he – he likes Snickers bars and Saturday Night Live reruns, and once boasted to Sam how he could have been a psychologist if he hadn't chosen a better venue for his talents, and - why isn't he denying this? Why isn't he - Sam stares upwards, feeling disbelief and denial shatter at the uncharacteristically foreboding expression on the Trickster's – on his face and feels his mind click into high gear. Whatever, whoever the Trickster is, he's obviously high up enough in the line of command that Zachariah's grunts are abandoning ship left and right rather than face him -
There are only four angels who have seen the face of God…
Michael and Raphael would be trying to get Dean to say yes, Lucifer wouldn't even have hesitated before throwing his sales pitch, leaving -
(Four classic Archangels, yes, three cardinal angels, excluding Raphael, who was added only during the tenth century at the whim of the Vatican and if you excluded Lucifer, who no longer counted among the hierarchy of the Host, then there were only two…)
And Zachariah is staring at him, eyes wide, and is that fear on his face?
"Gabriel." It's a whisper of sound, and he watches the Trickster's – watches Gabriel's shoulders stiffen. The angel (archangel, some gibbering portion of his mind informs him) turns slowly, gaze unreadable as his eyes settle on Sam's face. The hunter feels his breath catch as those ancient, implacable eyes bore into his own, old and immeasurably weary, and the familiar head dips in a single nod.
"Want me to go now?" There's something bitter to the words, a resigned, self-centered loathing; the Trickster – Gabriel, dammit – stares directly into Sam's eyes, waiting, and it suddenly occurs to him that Gabriel – that he will. He'll leave. Just this once. If Sam wants him to; an archangel will do this for him, will give up – everything they had between them, everything that had been growing, and he suddenly wants, more than anything, to see the dimness in hazel-gold eyes flare with familiar mischief.
Sam can't help but wonder if all of this was a Trick. One last Trick, the greatest of them all, weaving them together with a dexterity far greater than even that required for spinning straw to gold – but one that had snared both Trickster and hunter in bands far tighter then simple connection.
"Stay," he rasps, through a throat gone suddenly tight. "Stay."