AUTHOR'S NOTES: It's kind of fun to write the character Gabriel so expect to see him—technically 'her'—in further chapters of this story.
In the morning, Dean woke early and was surprised to find that he'd woken up on a rather comfortable leather sofa and there was a warm fire flickering happily in the fireplace in the living room. Getting up, he looked around and found his mother still asleep in the downstairs bedroom.
Upstairs, Dean checked on Sam and Ben who had been sharing the larger bedroom but was surprised to find Bobby already up in the guest room. "Morning," Dean muttered, softly.
"Did you even sleep?" Bobby wanted to know as Dean let out a yawn.
"Yeah," Dean replied, rubbing the back of his neck. Looking at the bed taking up most of the room, he added, "Don't remember seeing that last night."
Bobby looked slightly amused as he and Dean headed back down the stairs and into the kitchen where a coffee maker sat on the counter. "You know for an archangel," Bobby commented, pouring himself a cup of coffee. "—Gabriel doesn't seem that bad."
"Yeah, well, you weren't the one he killed more than a hundred times," Dean replied, although he was starting to warm up to the angel/trickster when he tasted some of the best coffee he'd ever had in his life. Sitting at the kitchen table, Dean sighed. "Not what I thought I'd be up to," he admitted. "Great start to not being a hunter, huh, Bobby?"
Bobby's expression grew thoughtful as he sat down across from Dean. "What's so bad about Ben wanting to be a hunter, Dean? Really. I mean, you get to help people, save lives…"
"You can do the same thing by joining the army or the Marines," Dean countered. "And I can't believe you're advocating here. This is THE worst thing for a kid. And, yeah, Dad may have kept Sam and me safe by teaching us about all this stuff, but he could have left us with someone and went hunting on his own. He shouldn't have taken us with him. Bobby, all I want is for Ben to not have to always worry that the thing in his closet is going to kill him. To go to bed and not be scared of the dark." Dean slugged down more coffee and finally said, "I want Ben to have a normal life. I know it's too late for me, but Ben has a shot. He can do anything he wants to."
"And he wants to be a hunter," Bobby countered. Waiting until Dean met his eyes, Bobby sighed. "Look, I get that you don't want Ben to end up like you, Dean. I do. But the kid's apparently been thinking about this for a long time."
"And that's what really scares me," Dean admitted. "Bobby… ever since Ben was 8 I saw myself in the kid. It's like watching myself growing up all over again only this time I've got a chance to make a change and keep history from repeating itself."
"Do you?" Bobby asked, wondering if Dean really believed that. "Dean, if Ben's just like you, then you know how it's going to end. You know there's no way to stop it."
Dean nodded, knowing that what Bobby was saying was true. "Maybe I can't stop it," he said, looking determined. "But I can sure as Hell throw some road blocks in the way until Ben changes his mind."
Sensing that Dean's hope was misplaced, Bobby asked, "What makes you so sure he will change his mind?"
"Cause it's either Ben changes his mind about being a hunter," Dean replied, finishing his coffee and going for a refill. "—or I literally ground the kid for the rest of his life."
Upstairs, Sam was surprised when he awoke to find himself sprawled on a twin bed. Apparently Gabriel—or was it 'Gabrielle now?—at least wanted them all comfortable. Getting up and stretching, Sam looked over at the other bed where Ben was lying on his stomach looking at something on his computer. "Sleep okay?" Sam asked, looking at Ben, a bit unsure about how to talk to the kid.
"Fine," Ben replied, not looking up at Sam as he sat up. "Just wanted to look up a couple things for Dean." After a few minutes of skimming through web pages, Ben looked at Sam and asked, "Why is Dean so against me being a hunter?"
Sam was caught off guard by the question and after pulling his own laptop and setting it on the bed, he sat down and gave Ben his full attention. "Ben, our mom died when Dean was 4. I was barely 6 months old. Our dad died 6 years ago. We've buried friends, family… and all for a job that has zero perks, long hours, and almost always kills you eventually."
Ben was taken aback by the response and frowned as he asked, "Then why do it?"
Again, Sam thought of how best to answer. If he talked about his parents being hunters then Ben would likely use that information to his advantage. "Because someone has to, Ben," Sam replied, vaguely. "Dean and I never had a choice. We were raised to be hunters. Believe me, we both wish we weren't."
But Ben wasn't entirely buying it. "Why would you want a normal life when you can drive around the country fighting monsters?"
Sam laughed and replied, "I had my first real health physical when I went to college. The doctor was surprised I wasn't dead already because of my blood pressure and cholesterol. Before Dean got yanked out of Hell, you should have seen the collection of scars from being cut, stabbed, or shot. Have you ever notice Dean limping?"
Ben nodded as he remembered Dean almost hobbling around sometimes, especially in the middle of winter. "What happened?" Ben wanted to know.
"Dean got into a pretty bad scrap and ended up getting his left knee popped out of joint," Sam explained, remembering when the ghost of a girl taken over by the demon, Meg, had beaten the crap out of Dean. "It still bothers him sometimes."
"Do you have any scars?" Ben asked, cautiously. He knew the whole demon hunter thing was dangerous but the idea that Dean and Sam had permanent injuries from the job was starting to make Ben rethink the notion of following in Dean's footsteps.
Sam could tell that Ben was losing the glamorous notion of a hunter's life and sighed. "Trust me, I've got plenty of scars," he said, knowing that Ben was talking about physical scars. "Not to mention bad knees from sitting for hours on end and back knots from lousy motel mattresses. But the physical stuff is nothing compared to the emotional and mental scars. I mean, Dean and I have both been in Hell. Literally. And with all we've been through… Ben, at best you'd end up like me. At worst… Dean doesn't want this for you. He wants you to have the normal life he never did."
At the Oakland Community College, Sam, Bobby, and Dean split up to try and track down the location of their trickster.
As Dean headed towards the library, he stopped when he heard a soft, feminine chuckle. Turning, he saw Gabriel sitting on a stone ledge watching him. "Pretty bold, even for you."
"Why is that?" Gabriel asked as Dean came closer. "I'm not your trickster this time," she added, crossing her arms over her chest and watching as Dean's eyes slowly traced her curves. "You know if I were in my old vessel I'd find this really awkward."
Gabriel's words seemed to bring Dean back to his senses and he asked, "So if you're not the one ganking coeds, who is?"
Gabriel frowned as she stood and adjusted her blouse. "Obviously another trickster. But I couldn't say who exactly."
Looking around, Dean noticed that more students were heading down the walkway and after looking around for a moment, he said, "I know I'm going to regret this." Looking at Gabriel, he asked, "Know a place where we can talk?"
Gabriel smiled and raised one hand, fixing Dean with look before snapping her fingers and transporting the two of them to an empty auditorium. "How's this?"
"Fine," Dean said. Looking at Gabriel and trying to keep his eyes off of her rather impressive cleavage, he asked, "Who brought you back?"
Crossing her arms again, Gabriel sighed. "I don't know." Looking herself over once again, she frowned. "Whoever it was sure had a twisted sense of…" Trailing off, she slowly closed her eyes and let out another long sigh. "Oh, crap!"
Dean was almost amused as he watched Gabriel fuming. "What?"
Gabriel shot a glare at Dean and huffed. "A trickster demigoddess named Nemesis. Her big thing is retribution." Sitting on a table on the open stage, she explained. "I'd just arrived on Earth, found my vessel and was trying to stay under Heaven's radar when she found me. She knew about my bailing and everything and offered to give me her powers if I played trickster for a while."
"So what happened?" Dean wanted to know as he leaned against a wall and crossing his arms.
"Oh," Gabriel said, rolling her eyes. "I… I tried to trick Nemesis into… Well, let's just say it's a bad idea to try and trick a trickster into killing an angel." Indicating the vessel she was currently occupying, Gabriel added, "Obviously this is her idea of payback."
Dean let out an exasperated sigh as he rubbed his face with one hand. He really didn't need this right now. He needed to find a way to convince Ben that being a hunter sucked and then somehow convince Lisa that he hadn't been working an actual job.
He needed a vacation. A long one.
Getting back to the house later that evening bearing pizza, beer, burgers, and soda for Ben, Sam and Bobby went to do further research on Nemesis while Mary helped Dean lay out the table. "I talked to Ben earlier today," Mary said, casually.
"How'd that work out?" Dean wanted to know.
His mother gave him a smile. "He's a great kid." Her smile faded as she went on. "I told him about when I was his age… about how my parents raised me to be a hunter. I also told him that I never really had any friends, about how hard it was trying to balance a normal life with being a hunter."
Sitting at the table, Dean wasn't sure how to respond to that. "So what do you think?"
Taking a seat next to her son, Mary put her hand on Dean's. "Ben told me that you never really told him about what it was like growing up in the life. That's what he needs to know and he needs to hear it from you."
Dean nodded and stood, heading upstairs to the room Sam and Ben were sharing. Knocking on the open door, Dean tried to look casual as he said, "Can I come in?"
"Sure," Ben replied, closing down his computer and looking at Dean who sat down on Sam's bed. After a short silence, Ben said, "You've got the coolest mom. She was telling me about when she was a kid and how her father trained her to be a hunter." But seeing the look on Dean's face, he added, "Dean, why didn't you ever tell me about when you were hunting?"
Clearing his throat, Dean replied, "At first, I couldn't talk about it. You know, I'd… I'd just lost Sammy. Every time I thought about hunting, I kept thinking of how I'd lost my brother. Same reason I never went into the Impala after I got to your house."
"Dean, when I said I wanted to be like you… hunt things… I didn't know how hard it was," Ben admitted. "And not just the research. But the stuff you've been through… I don't know if I could handle that."
Listening for anyone coming up the steps, Dean gave Ben a smile. "I'll be honest, Ben. Sometimes I can't handle things. At least not alone. If it hadn't been for you and your mom I don't know what I would have had to hold on to."
Ben seemed to be considering something and after a while he said, "If you ever want to talk about anything… I mean, you always say I can tell you anything." Catching Dean's look, Ben shrugged, slightly embarrassed. "It goes both ways, Dean."
"Thanks, man," Dean replied, honestly. "Hey, you hungry?"
"Starving," Ben replied, getting up quickly and following Dean downstairs.