My issues with chronological order strike again. So, instructions on where to put this fic in this cluttered series: 'Colour Me Free', 'Soothe the Pain', 'Whisper a Sunset', 'Give Me Wings', 'Take This Life', this fic, 'Leave a Whisper', 'Tell Me Lies'

The radio starts quietly playing a love song, sweet and sappy. There's something inside Dean that goes kind of soft and warm and at the same time a bitter taste settles at the back of his throat. He looks over at the archangel sitting in the passenger seat. Gabriel's angled toward him, leaning more against the door than the seat. His eyes are intent on Dean, like he'd be perfectly happy to just sit there and look.

Ever since that night in the graveyard a few weeks ago Gabriel has been turning up with different love songs playing in the background. At least it means he doesn't startle the hell out of Dean every time he appears.

Gabriel smiles, the edges of the Trickster's grin going soft and gentle. There's something meaningful in the angel's eyes, something that settles like a stone in the pit of Dean's stomach, something that makes him want to reach out a hand and touch the angel.

Dean turns his eyes back to the road.

They don't say anything as the music continues playing and the engine rumbles its own familiar music. It feels a little bit like home.

"So what kind of big bad monster are you going after now?" Gabriel asks eventually.

Dean snorts. "Ghost. Probably."

He misses the Gabriel that used to sit there, the one who would have followed Dean on the hunt. Dean misses not hunting alone, of having someone he trusts to cover his back. And Gabriel had been someone, not Sam, but still someone.

Nothing can ever be quite like having Sam at his back.

"How's Heaven?" Dean asks after a long stretch of road.

"The feather-headed morons are still throwing hissy fits," Gabriel says flippantly, but Dean hears the worry behind it. Knows how tired all of it is making Gabriel. In some ways having had Gabriel around as a human has thought him quite a bit about the angel sitting in his car.

"Yeah, guess it's going to take a while." The words ring hollow; Heaven isn't something Dean can ever really understand. "Cas can handle it," he adds with utter certainty.

"Little brother's something special alright," Gabriel says with a grin in his voice. "But it's a tall order even for Cas-two-point-oh."

"Dude, Cas doesn't give up that easy." Guilt still gnaws at his insides when he thinks about that. "Besides he's got you now." The sincerity of the words isn't quite enough to hide the bitter taste in his mouth.

"Yeah, kiddo. He's got me." Gabriel sounds almost surprised at the words coming out of his mouth and Dean can't really resent him for having some of his family back. And Cas needs the help.

The familiar almost-quiet of the car falls heavy between them. Like it all means something.

It's too much like home.

There's a snap of fingers and Dean glances over at the angel. Gabriel is holding a manuscript in his hands. There's a question in his eyes. Eyes that are still fixed on Dean, like maybe he hasn't looked away at all.

Dean doesn't say anything.

The papers rustle slightly and Dean thinks there's a hint of understanding in Gabriel's voice as he starts reading; "The gravel crunching under his boots sounds too loud in Sam's ears as he walks up the path to the old houseā€¦"

The sound of his baby's engine is as calming as ever, the steering wheel under his hands feels like it always does and there's someone sitting next to him in the car. And maybe it's kind of okay.