Long epilogue is long. Looking back it might have made more sense to integrate most of this into the rest of the tale, but meh. Thank you all so much for your reviews, everyone! I'm shocked at how many people read this thing. My only regret is that it's nowhere near Valentine's Day XD. Whatever the case you all are super fantastic and I hope you enjoy the last chapter-I blame others for inspiring any sort of Sam/Gabriel interest in my writing. Sorry I haven't gotten back to anyone, but now that it's over I'll have plenty of time to field any questions, complaints, and generally squeal at you for how awesome a reviewer you've been. Which is all of you. May sexy angels from on high develop crushes of their own on all of you.
Years ago, Sam and Dean Winchester had had a nasty encounter with one now deceased Bela Talbot whilst reclaiming an artifact in the form of a rabbit's foot lifted from their father's old lockup. In the ensuing effort to restore order, Sam had fallen prey to the artifact's magic and, upon having it stolen from him, had experienced a rut of bad luck so heinous that the very act of scratching his nose held formidable untold danger. Sam only thought of this now because, deep down, a small part of him was sure that his luck never fully recovered from it. How else could he possibly explain incidents like this?
Okay, so he couldn't say he was entirely unaware that there was something more than just a little tension between his brother and the angel Castiel from the get-go. They would have serious, brooding conversations together about death and hell and whatever else had fucked them all up, Dean seemed to get just a little too much joy out of teasing Cas, Cas was always there at Dean's beck and call. Sometimes there would be this thread of genuine affection that…well, to be honest, made Sam a little jealous. After all, how long had Dean known Cas before he started heaping trust onto him while he still gave Sam those suspicious looks over his shoulder? Not that Sam hadn't ever screwed up and not that Cas wasn't trustworthy. In any case, sure, there was always a bond between the two that Sam wasn't about to question or try and change. But this? This right here was too damn much.
As he sat at the table with his bewitched brother, watching Castiel desperately try and contact someone who was quite possibly the worst choice of all viable allies, he wondered to himself whether this witch spell affected Dean's feelings, or just the actions he chose regarding them. Dean would probably punch him square in the jaw for even wondering this, but it had to be asked. After all, why would Dean go so soft over Cas of all people unless there was something, whatever it was, already there? They'd seen plenty of people on the street on their way back to the motel that day—why not one of them? Of course things probably would have been a lot hairier if Dean had fallen madly in love with some strange woman on the street. …It would have been a woman, wouldn't it? Sam didn't have time to open that surprisingly worm-filled can because that's about the moment Gabriel appeared in the room and his brain was irrevocably shot to shit in a glance.
Gabriel. Was. Awesome.
It was outrageous how Sam had never noticed it before. He was witty, he was sassy, he was extremely powerful, he was so…good looking. In fact Sam couldn't believe he'd ever even thought about being interested in girls when all the while Gabriel looked this good. How stupid. Well, that was alright, because Gabriel was here now and that's all that mattered. Ever.
"How pissed do you think old Cas'll be about how long we've been gone?" Gabriel chuckled as he walked alongside Sam down the street.
Sam turned his attention instantly to Gabriel's face, pulling the Slurpee straw away from his mouth and smiling. "I dunno," he laughed. Gabriel was so funny.
Gabriel smirked. "Boy, you sure make for some interesting conversation like this, don'tcha?"
"You think I'm interesting?" Sam grinned.
Gabriel grinned in return, shaking his head. "This is ridiculous; it's like shaking car keys in front of a baby."
"I like doing that too," Sam agreed. It was amazing how much they had in common. They both knew about the supernatural, they both had brothers, they both drank Slurpees.
Gabriel finished the last of his red Slurpee and tossed the cup into a nearby trashcan, clapping Sam on the back. "Alright, well while I've got you so…enraptured here," he quirked a brow, "why don't you answer a few questions I've been mulling over the past few weeks?"
"Okay," Sam said. Of course he would answer questions. Gabriel wanted to know things about him and that made Sam happier than he could ever remember being.
"Perfect," Gabriel nodded in approval. "So what's the real deal with you two meat-suits and Castiel, anyway? Why's he so hell bent—excuse the pun—on keeping two lousy humans on the path of 'up yours'?"
" 'Cause he loves Dean," Sam shrugged. This conversation was boring. It wasn't about Gabriel at all.
Gabriel blinked, making a little 'hmph' of wonder. Sam thought it was sexy. "It's that obvious, huh? Even to you?"
"Yep." Sam sucked up another mouthful of blue drink and eyed Gabriel up and down.
"Hah. What a mook." Gabriel threw up his hands. "I figured as much. He's got the nerve to pretend he's on the honorable side of free will when really he's just chasing tail. And that might sound hypocritical coming from a world renowned tail chaser, but at least I never disguised it with divine purpose." He paused, shaking his head again. "Castiel. In love with a human. Who'da thunk it?"
Sam had a difficult time keeping up with the gist of Gabriel's words, but his lips sure did look good forming them.
"What about your bird-brained brother? How does he feel?"
Sam shrugged again. "Everyone loves angels. How could you not?"
Gabriel laughed outright. "I hope you remember saying that when this is over."
Sam didn't know what was so funny, but he laughed too.
"Question number two," Gabriel began again. "…Why haven't you said yes to Lucifer?"
Lucifer. Lucifer, who was that again? Oh, right. "Because that would be bad," he answered resolutely.
"Profound," Gabriel muttered. "I'm serious, Sammy. You and I both know that it would be easier to just let the big kahunas hash it out, but you two stubborn apes refuse to let it be that simple. I just want to know why."
Sam fiddled with his straw to lower it to the appropriate level of slush in his cup. "I'll say yes if you want me to."
Gabriel stopped dead in his tracks, causing Sam to skitter to a halt and look back at him. All the good humor was gone from the trickster's face, replaced with a stupefied gape. "You'll what?"
Sam turned back to him. "I'd do anything for you," he declared. Wasn't that obvious? Maybe he wasn't being clear enough about his feelings.
"I uh…" Gabriel was actually at a loss for words. That was new.
Sam's brow furrowed in alarm. Gabriel shouldn't be upset. Gabriel shouldn't frown. This was all wrong. He closed the distance between them worriedly. "Gabriel? I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…was it something I said? Don't be sad!"
Gabriel's pensive frown gave way to a slight smile as he gazed up at Sam's face with candid affection. Sam didn't even have time to register relief before Gabriel suddenly leaned up and kissed him hard. Sam let out a muffled yelp of surprise, stiffening and dropping his cup to the ground where it splattered across the sidewalk. He may as well have never been kissed by anyone before. Had he ever really been kissed before this? His eyes fell shut and he gripped Gabriel in his arms, returning the kiss with equal fervor. Hands slipped through his hair, teeth bit his lip, tongues slid against one another and Sam just about lost his mind. He lost track of time and place and all that existed apart from the euphoria of warm lips on his and the ragged breaths between kisses. Just when he felt utterly intoxicated and fiercely aroused, he felt himself pushed back against the nearest brick wall with contact broken. He blinked down at the archangel in shock, chest heaving, eyes dark and wanting.
Gabriel cleared his throat, smoothing back his mussed hair and straightening his clothes casually as though nothing had occurred. "Let's uh…enough with the questions, this game's kinda boring anyway."
Sam agreed. Kissing was lots more interesting. "…Okay. But all was saying was—"
"You want another drink?" Gabriel wagged a freshly materialized Slurpee before the taller man's face.
Sam smiled, taking hold of it. "Thanks, Gabriel. You're the sweetest."
Gabriel beamed back at him. "Don't I know it. Now let's get back to the nest before little brother blows a gasket."
The next thing Sam knew he was back in the motel room with Dean and Castiel, but he couldn't be bothered to take much notice. His heart was soaring. At the time he merrily cemented this in his love-happy brain as his greatest Valentine's Day ever. Later, however, he would look back on it as one of the most surreal and horrifying moments of his life. Either way, if Dean and Cas were too distracted at the time to notice that Gabriel's tongue had a suspicious purple hue, well…thank God for small miracles.
Sam closed his last book with a long sigh, rubbing the page dust from his eyes and leaning an arm onto the table to cradle his aching head. So far this case was a bust. Despite a myriad of evidence at his disposal, he couldn't find a single good lead on the creature being worshipped by a local gang of errant small-town teens. Maybe it really was just a group of kids raising hell under the false pretense of a demon, but that didn't explain the sightings or the victims who were torn to shreds by searing hot claws. Whatever the case there was no information in any source he could find on the alleged demon Malcifur. No local legends, no ancient references, no potential name variants of other demons with a similar M.O. What a pain in the ass that this counted as a distraction—a reprieve from hunting down more perilous enemies while they awaited Castiel's latest intel.
And did that ever suck lately. While part of Sam felt bad about having been right that Castiel would stay away from them after the last blow up, the other part childishly insisted that it served Dean right. But he wasn't even sure about that anymore. Clearly the angel's absence had a supremely negative effect on his older brother, who went from ignoring the issue to constantly complaining about it to worriedly glancing at his phone every hour and scanning every room several times over like he was waiting for an apparition to appear. Sam felt it was best not to talk about this one with Dean. He didn't feel like getting snapped at and nothing he could say would do any good. The fact remained, strange though it was, that there was definitely more between those two than Sam had ever dared to assume.
Whatever the case may be he hoped that Castiel would return soon. He'd had more than enough of Dean's attitude lately and it would also be nice to have just one small lead on the latest horseman. Maybe the angel was teaching them a lesson about taking his long-suffered aid in stride, and he would be right to do so, but Sam doubted it. Spite was almost as far down on Castiel's list of common behaviors as smiling. All he knew was that Dean would go crazy if he didn't show up soon and Sam would be driven crazy by Dean in turn. Just thinking about going back to the motel room right now and having a long, tense, non-conversation with his brother gave this pile of useless research a renewed appeal.
Sam leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms up and rubbing his face. As he reached his hand down to grope around for that little book of conjuring spells, his palm curved around something that felt oddly knee-shaped. Sam leaned forward and looked over to see none other than Gabriel sitting on the table, holding a box of chocolates.
"Hey there, Valentine," he grinned.
Sam yanked back his hand as though it had been burned, blinking at the archangel in surprise that quickly turned into frustration. "Gabriel!"
"Shh," Gabriel chastised. "This is a library, Sam. People are trying to read."
Sam bit his cheek with a petulant glower and leaned around Gabriel to try and make sure no one had witnessed his sudden arrival. The library remained deserted. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same thing," Gabriel retorted. "Chocolate?"
Sam reared back in horror as the box was shoved towards him. Just the thought of candy made his stomach scream bloody murder. "No. Now would you please get out of here?"
Gabriel snorted and pulled the box away, setting it down. "What's the matter, afraid the two of us being seen together is too incriminating? Not exactly the most intimate of settings here. Besides, this is public property. You can't tell me to leave."
"You're an archangel. I can't tell you to do anything. I was asking," Sam sighed, slapping a hand over his forehead and attempting to hunker down over his books. "I've got a lot of work to do, so if you don't mind…"
"You wouldn't have so much 'work' to do if you weren't so thick-headed," Gabriel decreed, biting into a crème-filled chocolate. "I mean sheesh; you're still looking for a demon."
Sam didn't have the energy to muster a sneer. "Yeah. It doesn't match up with the details of any demi god or disgruntled spirit or monster I've come across—what else could it be?"
Gabriel looked up at the ceiling. "Wellll, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it's probably a duck. But if it looks like a toaster, walks like a walrus, and talks like a Bolivian ice-skating champion…it's probably all of the above."
Sam glared tiredly. "I'm looking for an ice-skating walrus toaster."
Gabriel rolled his eyes. "Come on, Sammy, I always had you pegged as the brains of this outfit. What creature has all imaginable traits? Could it be…an imagined one?"
Sam's eyebrows rose, mouth opening as the pieces fell into place. "…A tulpa."
"Ding ding ding, we have a winner," said Gabriel, slapping the book shut.
While relieved to have finally identified their culprit, Sam was displeased to consider the result. A tulpa did explain why the creature had so many variations and only seemed to have come into fruition after a teenaged cult gave it a name and the urge to kill. The downside was that it meant they were the only ones who knew how to kill it. He'd had a hard enough time tracking these kids down already, and was positive that when he did they weren't going to be obliged to hand over their secrets. And just thinking about dragging his brooding, pissy brother along for that grueling quest… "Great. Where did this imaginary demon even come from? How am I supposed to find out how to kill it? And the more people who witness and believe it, the more powerful it becomes."
Gabriel tossed an unfavorably flavored chocolate aside and continued digging through the rest. "Yeah, well…I may have already had a little chat with your brat pack and sorted it out."
Sam frowned. "You what?"
Gabriel shrugged innocently. "Turns out their demon was just a creepy bedtime story big brother used to tell little brother to give him nightmares. Little brother grew up all sorts of freaky and took it to heart. So I gave the little punk the idea that his buddy Malcifur slipped his chain and turned on his summoners. I don't think he'll be doing any phony dark arts for a long, long time."
"Do I even want to know how you convinced him?" Sam winced.
Gabriel thought for a moment. "Mmm, not if you like kids."
Sam shook his head, still eying the angel warily. "Okay. Um…thanks. I guess."
"Thanks, you guess. That's Winchester gratitude for you," Gabriel snorted. "Come on, even you have to admit that I'm not so bad once you get to know me."
Sam thought back to the previous week, then to the previous year, and the one before that. All incidents included, how long of knowing this being had it taken for him to become just this tolerable? It probably wasn't worth mentioning. Today would be a terrible day to be smote. "You could be worse," Sam relented.
"I could be a lot worse," Gabriel agreed. "I mean here you are, safe and sound and devil free."
Sam silently asked himself just why that was. He clearly remembered offering himself to Gabriel's whims on a silver platter like the jack of all asses, but the archangel hadn't seized the opportunity. Why? He looked up and carefully studied Gabriel's eyes. "Gabriel, why exactly am I devil free, anyway? I remember what I said."
Gabriel's face faltered briefly, then he waved a hand and snagged another piece of candy. "Old habits die hard. It felt just a little too sinful to exploit a loophole in your free will. …Besides, the whole thing would only play out if Dean hopped aboard the Michael express, and we both know Castiel never would've let him buy the ticket."
Sam nodded and looked down, folding his arms over his chest. "Well…thanks again. For that."
"Don't mention it."
"So," Sam looked up again, "is that it? The tulpa? I mean is that what you came here to tell me?"
"I came here because it seemed rude that I didn't even call after our first date. Or was the mystery spot our first date? Well, either way, you heard the witch." Gabriel leaned over to Sam, who leaned back. "I have a big embarrassing crush on you."
Sam's lip curled and he desperately insisted to himself that he was not blushing. "I don't even know what to say to that."
"Customarily you're supposed to kiss me senseless once I've admitted my feelings. Haven't you ever seen a formulaic rom-com?"
Sam's pulled back further. "No."
"No to both of those things you just said. I really need to get back to the motel and—"
"And what?" Gabriel lifted a brow. "Watch your brother cry about his missing angelic teddy bear? I don't know how you can stand it."
Okay, so he definitely had a point there. Unable to manage tactful in his current state, Sam set his jaw and stared the angel down. "I'm not kissing you." Wait, what? No, that…there had to have been a cleverer rebuttal than that.
Gabriel only smirked. "Oh?"
"You sure?" he leaned closer, and this time Sam didn't pull back.
Gabriel pressed just an inch closer, voice lowering. "Positive?"
Sam narrowed his eyes. "Absolutely."
The two faced off for what seemed to Sam like decades before he growled in frustration and lunged forward. It was with begrudging roughness that he crushed their mouths together like Gabriel was the only source of oxygen at the bottom of the sea.
What the hell. The world was going to end anyway, right?
…Of course when he finally got back to the motel room after an hour of practicing some shockingly obscene acts in a public place only to find his brother fervently kissing an angel of his own in a way that mentally scarred Sam as sure as a lobotomy, he wished that it had ended just a little bit sooner. Maybe Dean had a point about this godforsaken holiday after all.