Sam slept, for once, deep and dreamless, and woke feeling like he'd actually rested. As harsh and uncomfortable as the motel bed was, he was reluctant to leave it. A quick glance to his right told him Dean was still sleeping, and would probably be very hung-over if he ever did wakeup.
As far as he was concerned, that was reason enough to stay in bed for a while longer.
His thoughts turned to Gabriel. Not about whether or not he could be trusted; he was still certain that the Archangel truly had turned over a new leaf. He was more concerned with why.
Why had Gabriel agreed so easily to help? It was as if he'd never been killed. Was he maybe trying to make up for lost time? He wasn't sure how he felt about Gabriel invading his dreams, but then he knew that angels could sense emotions and trauma. Gabriel had helped him, that much was obvious, but why?
More importantly, why couldn't Sam stop thinking about him?
He cleared his head, turning his thoughts instead to what Gabriel had told him about Dean.
In love with Castiel?
Well, now that someone pointed it out…
The intense staring matches the "deeper, more profound bond"… and it was true, Dean hadn't been this upset when he lost Lisa. Any of the times he'd lost Lisa. Hell, he wasn't sure Dean had been this upset when their Dad died. Now it had been pointed out to him, he was amazed he hadn't noticed it earlier. He knew he couldn't talk to Dean about it, because Dean just wouldn't talk about things like that. He supposed he just had to let his brother sort it out and make his own mistakes.
Sam sighed and stretched, staring up at the ceiling. Life never used to be this complicated.
It was then that a large crashing sound resounded from the next room. Sam shot out of bed, Dean still growling and stirring like a sleep-addled bear. He opened the door, staring out into the hallway in time to see Hella storm out of the room she was sharing with Gabriel, slamming the door in the most practiced teenage manner.
She scowled at Sam and disappeared, leaving Gabriel to wrench open the door and yell at the space she was just occupying.
"You don't think…" Gabriel blinked at the empty space, before shooting a glare at Sam. "Did you know?"
"Know what?" Sam leant against the doorframe, his hunter instincts sated that nothing was imminently going to kill them.
"Her and Boldr!" Gabriel was fuming, although his anger was less in the "holy soldier of God" category and more in the paternal "not like that you don't" category.
"Oh… Well, she said it was all innocent enough."
"Innocent? Innocent?" Gabriel pushed past Sam, still fuming. He paced around the motel room, ignoring Dean (still struggling towards wakefulness) and looking at Sam like it was his fault. "You don't honestly believe that."
"I don't know… I mean, she can take care of herself. I think Boldr would know better than to push her into anything… you know… inappropriate."
"Sam. Have you read Norse mythology? Ever? They're hardly known for their restraint and social graces."
"Yeah, but Hella seems like a smart kid. She wouldn't…"
"Yes, Sam. Kid. She's too young; I should never have left her alone."
"Then why did you?" Sam was quite amazed at how badly Gabriel was reacting. He tried to speak in a calming, gentle tone, but he couldn't help sticking up for Hella. "If you were so convinced she was too young, why did you leave her?"
"It's not like I could help it. I wasn't too popular in Valhalla, and the angels were starting to get a trace on me. I had to go."
"And you didn't go back because..?"
Gabriel glared at him.
"That's not fair. I was… busy."
"Busy being human? Getting caught up in the mortal world?" Sam raised an eyebrow. "Gabriel, when we first found you, you were working as a janitor and playing overly complicated college pranks on people. Real busy."
"I had…" Gabriel's resolve visibly crumpled as he leant against the wall. "I messed up. I don't have a leg to stand on, do I?"
"Nope." Sam shrugged, deciding he may as well have breakfast, if he was up. "But she loves you. Go find her and apologise, I'm sure she'll come around."
Gabriel sighed, huffing a bitter laugh. Sam thought for a moment.
"Hey, Gabriel? How much of an angel is Hella? I mean, what kind of powers does she have?"
"All my powers, half my strength." Gabriel shrugged. "She doesn't take after her mother very much, which is something I'm more than a little grateful for." Gabriel shot him a rueful smile, before disappearing in a rustle of feathers. Sam shrugged and went back to his breakfast.
"What time is it?"
"Nine a.m., Dean."
"Shit… Got any coffee over there?"
Dean didn't move.
"Can you make me some?"
Sam sat down and started to eat his cereal.
"Well are you going to?"
The wind swept through tall pine trees, making the leaves dance and shimmy. Hella sat at a picnic bench, staring at nothing in particular.
She didn't respond, but she didn't stop him from sitting down, either.
"It's nice. Where are we?"
Gabriel nodded, scooting closer to her on the bench.
"You shouldn't really fly without paying attention. I know angels that lost a lot of blood that way."
She laughed bitterly, leaning on her elbows.
"I teleported home one night with Ron and Sid and Meg…"
"Nothing." She shrugged.
"I'm sorry." Gabriel sighed, resting a hand on her back. "I'm a crappy Dad, huh?"
"No." She sighed, sitting up. "I just thought, out of everyone, you'd get it. I mean, when I started letting Boldr take me places, everyone told me how stupid I was, and even now everyone still laughs at me because of it. But I thought you'd get it."
"Can you remember how you used to cheer me up? When you came to see me in Hellheim, you'd fill the whole hall with whatever crazy stuff I wanted. You'd tell me stories; you'd travel through time to find things I might like. Whenever you came to visit me, it felt like… just for a little while, it made me forget about being stuck there. And then you went away. And I don't blame you I get that you had your own reasons or whatever, but Boldr turned up and offered to actually let me go out and see the world. And… I just thought you'd get that."
Gabriel nodded, pulling her into a hug.
"I do. I'm just… I feel really guilty about leaving you like that, and I couldn't stand it if anything bad happened to you because I was a crappy Dad."
She hugged him back.
"You're not a crappy Dad. You saved me from Crowley."
"Yeah, not soon enough." Gabriel scowled. "Damn bastard. Still, he won't be bugging you for a while. If he's got any sense he'll know he needs some serious power before he can step to this."
Hella laughed, making Gabriel smile instantly.
"Oh no, I'm serious, you don't piss off an archangel. They bust a holy cap."
He smiled, hugging Hella tight as she laughed.
Then, everything exploded. Noise cut through the quiet forest, trees uprooted themselves, and dust tore through the air under the force of impact. When everything cleared, they saw a group of figures walk towards them. Five pale-skinned valkyries, dressed in white and gold, two of them with wolves on chains. They stared at Hella with dead eyes.
"You completed the ritual."
"You were warned. We must take both of you back to Valhalla now."
"We're going nowhere." Gabriel stood, gripping Hella's hand. He saw her bring her knife into her other hand.
"But your presence is…"
"I am no longer known as Loki." Gabriel stepped in front of Hella, locking eyes with them. "You hear that? I'm not Loki any more, I have nothing to do with Valhalla. Hella is no threat to you. Leave us alone."
"We cannot do that." The Valkyries spoke in unison, tilting their heads to the side. They were almost robotic in their quick, clean movements, in their dead eyes and emotionless voices. "We are ordered to retrieve you."
"Fuck off." Hella spat, gripping her father's hand. "Come get us, if you want us."
"We were instructed not to engage in physical conflict…"
"Fuck that, I can take you." She grinned, her face masked in cocky anger. Gabriel was too busy watching the Valkyries.
"As you wish." The Valkyries nodded, before springing forward, leaping into precise, meditated combat.
Gabriel placed his hand on the forehead of the one nearest him, and the Valkyrie exploded in a brief flash of light. Hella stabbed the two with wolves, watching emotionlessly as they shrivelled and died. One of them managed to knock her to the floor, but Gabriel sent her flying with telekinesis, where she smashed against a tree and lay immobile. Hella had the last one at knife point.
"We're not going back. We're nothing to do with you or any of the gods. Go back and tell them that we are no threat to them."
"And." Gabriel spoke up, grabbing the Valkyrie's shoulder and dragging her back into the clearing she made. "I am not vying to replace Odin. If they send any more Valkyries after us, then what has happened today will be nothing, you understand?"
The Valkyrie nodded, and disappeared as quickly as she had appeared. Gabriel closed his eyes, and the forest around them was restored to how it was before, with not a single sign that anything had happened.
"You really hold a grudge, huh?" He smiled, holding his arm out to Hella. He wrapped his arm around her, gripping her shoulder, smiling as she hugged him. "Still pissed at them?"
"Hey, you know, that kind of language is not very ladylike."
"So? I know you've heard worse."
"So are you powered up again now?"
"Yeah… but don't tell Dean."
"I just… I need more time." He smiled, but it was a sad smile, awkward and uncomfortable. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, and sighed. "Come on. Let's go find those silly mortal boys."