The final chapter of this part of the series! Next up will be the aftermath of Lucifer's defeat, which I'll be starting to draft soon :-D I'll post a note as an extra chapter here when it goes up, so story alert this (if you haven't already! lol) if you don't want to miss it :-D Thanks for the reviews/alerts/favourites! Now on with the story...
It wasn't a planned reaction, he didn't think about it. He just fled.
Sam's words had caught him off-guard. They echoed through his head as he came to rest on a remote mountainside.
*it's what you do – for family*
He shouldn't have left – it wasn't fair to leave Sam hanging like that, but what Sam had been offering...it was everything Gabriel hadn't dared to want or dream of, had despaired of finding, ever since the day he'd fled Heaven.
A family. A place to belong, people to belong to...he wanted it so badly his Grace ached and burned with it.
Could he have it though? Could he risk it? Risk opening himself up like that again...
Although, he realised suddenly, he'd made that choice already when he'd joined Team Free Will.
Gabriel shook his head slightly at the ridiculous name. He'd voted for Team 'Save Earth: they have Chocolate', Sam had been pulling for Team Screw Destiny, but Cas had sided with Dean on his oh-so-imaginative 'Team Free Will', so they'd both been out-voted two to one.
He'd gone to them, set this ball rolling...and now he was running scared.
*Maybe I'm just not cut out for the whole 'playing well with others' thing...* he thought dryly.
Cut out for it or not though, it was too late to back out now. He wasn't about to leave his team...his friends...
*Family...* The word echoed through his head, but he couldn't use it, not yet.
...he wasn't going to ditch them now just because he had some serious abandonment and family conflict issues.
Resolved, he left the mountain-top and headed back to Sam.
Sam was still staring at the empty spot Gabriel had occupied when he reappeared, this time stood beside the bed.
Sam looked up, hand reaching automatically to accept the mug being held out to him.
"Figured we could use some liquid sustenance Sammy – caramel hot chocolate, extra cream and mini marshmallows too," Gabriel chirped happily, grinning as he sat back down at the foot of the bed.
If Sam noticed that the tone was a little off, the smile a little awkward...well, that was his eyes and ears playing tricks on him, right?
He grinned back, willing to let Gabriel pretend for now that he hadn't freaked out.
It had taken Sam all of ten seconds to realise what had likely prompted Gabriel's flight, and he'd spent the rest of the time trying to figure out when he'd given Gabriel the label 'family', and cursing himself for throwing it out there so casually.
"Thanks Gabe," he replied, taking a sip of his chocolate.
They sat like that for a few minutes, a comfortable silence broken only by quiet slurps as they drank. Finally Sam spoke.
"I still don't see why we need to put this much thought into a 'what if...' Gabe."
"You will Sammy, just bear with me. It's gotta make sense – if there's one thing my brother isn't, it's stupid...you're not gonna yell at me again when I add more unpleasant details, are ya Sasquatch?"
"I'll bite my tongue, as long as you have a point and get there."
"I'll get there, just bear with me, this bit isn't gonna be pretty…So, I'll steal the stage with my awesome speech, and then my bro will be a complete douche and order the attack. The big battle won't last very long – this is the bit you won't like, but I swear I have a point, 'kay?"
At Sam's nod, he continued.
"Cas would fall first, saving you from our brothers, buying you an extra few minutes. Raphael and I are pretty evenly matched, but when you fall so will I – distractions like that are kinda lethal after all kiddo."
Sam couldn't help thinking that Gabriel's smirk wasn't entirely appropriate, given his words, but he bit his tongue as he'd promised he would.
"Raphael will leave your brother alive. Michael's not gonna want to lose his vessel, just in case – and besides, killing him at that point would probably be a kindness, and Raph…Raph forgot what that was a long time ago." *When Lucifer broke his faith in everything,* he thought, but didn't say.
Raphael didn't remember the love of a brother saving him. He remembered the twisted hatred of a brother leaving him for dead.
"Lucifer will turn up after he leaves – he won't risk facing them in the poor excuse for a vessel he's got at the moment. This is where things'll get tricky Sammy."
*Obviously. Because three quarters of them dying horribly wasn't tricky or, you know, a bad plan.*
"This is the bit where Plan B merges with Plan A…"
"A for Awesome?" Sam interjected with a knowing smirk.
Gabriel grinned back and threw a candy at Sam before replying.
"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy…are you implying that I'm getting predictable? Because rumours like that can ruin a Trickster's reputation, ya know…"
"Dude, since when do you care what people think of you? Besides, anyone says anything you don't like ends up regretting it, I'm sure."
"You, my dear Sasquatch, make a very good point," Gabriel smirked. "Anywho…Luci turning up is when this goes from hypothetical to actual. Lucifer will be in the warehouse, and so will Dean-o. We need Lucifer to believe our plan went wrong, and he's as good as I am at getting into people's heads uninvited, so Dean will need to thoroughly believe that Plan B happened."
"You'll alter his memories."
"Got it in one Sammy."
"That's why you needed all the detail…"
"Okay, Plan A from the beginning Gabe. If we're even considering letting my brother believe he's lost everything for any amount of time, I wanna make sure it's worth it. Make sure it'll work."
"We set up the warehouse first…"
"Big open space, plenty of nooks and crannies to hide sigils, generally fairly secluded…"
"Point. Okay, so set-up the warehouse…"
"The wards to keep out vessel-less angels are the most important bit, and we'll add a few sigils that will affect fallen angels, weaken them. They won't have a huge impact on my bro, but they'll do enough that he shouldn't smell a trap, and they should make him think twice about doing anything too drastic."
"Killing your brother. He won't risk drawing Mikey or Raf's attention when he's not at full strength."
"Right…and you're sure about that?"
"As sure as I can be Sammy. If it looks like he's feeling particularly stupid or suicidal, I'll step in – and you know Cas won't let anything happen to him either…he'll be as safe as the rest of us kiddo, I promise – trust me?"
Sam's response was immediate, the certainty in his voice making Gabriel swallow hard around the lump that had absolutely no business forming in an Archangel's throat.
"Once the warehouse is ready, Cas can cloak the whole area from Heaven, and mojo us up a bloody battle scene. I'll be making Cas and myself appear dead, cloaking you, and holding the fake memories in place in your brother's mind. Then I send out an echo of some explosions of Grace, enough that he'll believe the battlefield, and I'll make him think you're dead – that should bring him running."
Sam held up his hand, cutting the archangel off.
"Two questions: One – won't I need to look dead too? If he can't see me won't he know something's up? And two – 'holding' the memories? Can't you just plant them and that's that?"
"Memories are a tricky thing Sammy, unless you want to risk your brother being stuck permanently with more traumatising memories it's better if I just hold them there like a mask. No messing with actual memories, but they'll feel real to Dean, and they'll feel real to Luci. As for your own awesome self – well that's where the trick comes in Gigantor. You'll be hidden, but my brother will see your corpse along with the rest of us."
"You know you're not making sense, right?"
"We're gonna clone you kiddo."
"Because giving Lucifer a back-up vessel is an awesome plan," Sam dead-panned, his expression the bitch-face Gabriel had come to realise meant 'You are a complete moron who was dropped on his head as a child. Repeatedly.'
"Actually, it is an awesome plan. Sammy the Second will have a few very important tweaks that Luci won't be able to see from the outside. Big bro will bring 'you' back to life, at which point 'real' you will be in the driving seat – think remote control – how's your acting Sammy? Because this is the bit where you have to make him believe he's broken you – you have to say yes, and you have to do it believably or we're all completely screwed."
"I can do it – but how does giving the devil my face help us?"
"It's a trap. There are sigils that can block an angel – even an archangel – from accessing their Grace, and we're going to build them into the clone's DNA. Without access to his Grace Luci won't be able to leave the vessel, and trying to break the sigils would destroy the vessel entirely."
"Wouldn't that set him free though?"
"No Sammy…no, it wouldn't destroy only the vessel…"
"You're talking about making him human."
"No-one else needs to die Sammy. We could finally end it, everyone walks away…"
"Lucifer despises humanity Gabe, he might not…I mean, what if he decides…"
"Then it'll be his choice. We can't make him take this second chance, but we can try to offer it…we can try to avoid any more bloodshed."
"Michael might not let him walk away human…"
"We'll figure something out if it comes to that. Let's not borrow any more trouble for now – one apocalypse is plenty to be going on with, don't ya think kiddo?"
"I guess…so that's the plan?"
"What do you think? You're the brains of this operation – I'm just the magical muscle," Gabriel smirked, popping a piece of butterscotch candy into his mouth.
Sam snorted. Anyone who thought Gabriel was just anything deserved whatever they got – Sam knew better than to under-estimate the archangel.
"You know it's a good plan Gabe, quit fishing for compliments," he snarked back, grabbing a piece of candy from the bowl before Gabriel could stop him, grinning at the trickster-angel's indignant squawk.
"S'not like you can't snap up more…"
"That is so not the point Sammy!"
"Sharing's good for the soul Gabe, get over it."
Sam grinned happily around his stolen candy as he settled into the comfortable banter, happy to relax for a little while.
Tomorrow was going to be hard, but if it worked…
Sam jumped slightly when the first piece of popcorn – and when the hell had that appeared? – hit him in the face, then quickly grabbed a handful and began to return fire, ducking behind the dresser for cover only to have it disappear. He spared a brief thought to hope Gabriel brought it back in one piece – his favourite sweatshirt was in there – before grabbing a handful of candy-corn from one of the dozen snack-bowls now resting on his bed and launching it at the archangel with a laugh.
Like? Hate? Please let me know either way :-D Reviews are awesome, and will influence future writing and the speed there-of *grins* Watch this space for the next part in the series! :-D