Hella gripped the scruff of Fen's neck, warning him to stay where he was. Not that she was any more likely to restrain herself. Jör stood in front of them slightly, his tall, powerful form exuding their mother's influence, arms crossed and silently glaring. She had the coolest big brother ever.
Mrs Kane stood behind them, a bold last wall of defence. For her age and mortality, she stared down the newcomers with just as much defiance as Loki's children, a foolhardy arrogance in her eye that only those who have lived and seen much can manage.
Behind her, Beans the Irish wolfhound protected her puppies. She had yet to go for anyone's throat, but she looked like she might, if the newcomers didn't leave soon. Hel smirked, feeling the power shifting around her. They were Loki's children.
"Admit it." She summed up the group of Valkyries, seven in total, all flawless and robotic, taking them in with emotionless eyes. "You never saw this coming, you dumb whores."
"Hel…" Jörmungandr tutted, but couldn't hide his laugh. Fenrir just growled. He was with his sister on this one.
"We were told to apprehend you." The Valkyries spoke as one, eyes boring into Hel. She didn't back down. "The gods feared that a reunion with your father would cause prophecy…"
"Which is why you were so intent on finding a new Odin."Jörmungandr finished their sentence for them, everything about him tense. "Right. And, technically, they were right. We have brought about the end of a God. But none of yours, and we mean them no harm."
"Despite how much they may have fucked us over." Hel interjected, reinforced by Fenrir's growling.
"But…" Said the Valkyries, nearly displaying some edge of reluctance. Fenrir growled and barked, knowing, even though they weren't showing it physically, they were scared. The three of them had power, maybe more so than any of the Gods the Valkyries served, and on the plane of existence beyond what mortals could see, they were destroying their opposition.
"We have told you individually. Our father has told you. We have no interest in disrupting Valhalla. I'd suggest…" Jörmungandr interjected, his tone landing him about twenty miles past 'suggest' and deep into 'command', "that you leave, and leave us alone. We've fulfilled our prophecy. We have no more part to play."
After a long, still silence, the Valkyries nodded and left, taking with them the odd, deathly quiet, and the unnerving sensation of power and dread. Jör smiled as Hella leapt into his arms. Laughing, he spun her around.
"We did it!" She laughed, beaming as Jör sat her down and she saw Fen run to his pups. He and Beans nuzzled each other under Mrs Kane's proud, watchful eye.
"Ragnarok." Jör sighed, unbelieving. "All those years, all those centuries… We actually came together and helped Dad to overthrow a God."
"Yeah… just, not the one everyone was expecting." Hella grinned, hugging him. She looked at the night sky, feeling cooler and more relaxed than she had done in a long while. Silently, she sent out a prayer.
"We've done it, Dad. I hope it was right. I hope you're proud."
Then, as an afterthought;
"I'm probably going to stay with Mrs Kane tonight; I'll see you in the morning."
Mrs Kane smiled at her, holding out her hand.
"You look like you could use a mug of cocoa and a good night's sleep, girl. After what you done, I'm not surprised."
Hella just smiled, all the way through her late supper with her brothers, right up until she fell asleep. She'd done a lot. And she didn't regret any of it.
Cas slept, fitfully. Dean didn't move from his spot by the couch, except to get coffee, or get rid of coffee. He had been waiting for this, and now it was here, he wasn't going to screw it up. There had been a lot of pressure, which only Dean and Gabriel had known about. He hadn't said anything, because he had never been particularly good at admitting his feelings and he wasn't about to start, but Gabriel, with his weird angel empathy, had known.
And he hadn't appreciated it.
But screw him, that wasn't important to Dean any more. What was important was that Cas needed to pull through.
It was about three a.m. when Castiel opened his eyes, heaving a rattling breath.
"Cas? Cas, can you hear me?"
"Dean." Castiel tilted his head so he could see the hunter, but the way his eyes swam and strained told Dean he was little more than a blurry shape right now.
"Yeah, Cas, it's me."
"I… I feel unwell, Dean."
"Yeah, that isn't going to change any time soon. Do you… remember what happened?"
Castiel stared at him for a moment, before his head fell back onto the arm of the couch, and his eyes fluttered closed.
"All of it?"
"You, uh, had us scared."
Castiel took another deep breath, his face crumpled in sorrow and confusion.
Dean sat by the couch. He didn't soothe. He didn't say it would be alright. Because, odds were, it probably wouldn't be. He just held Castiel's hand, and taught him why humans need to cry.
In the second motel room, Sam felt himself being pulled towards wakefulness by hands that were gently caressing him. He felt a weight on his chest, and looked down to see Gabriel's head rested over his heart.
"What are you doing?"
Gabriel jerked away with a start, guilty smile on his face.
"Sorry… I was, uh… there's no way I can say it without sounding like some super-freak hippy…"
"Try me." Sam smiled, resting his hand on Gabriel's back. They kept their voices low, as the flashing display of the digital clock told them it was only just seven. Plus, motel walls are thin.
"I was… getting some of my energy back by, uh… feeding off of your emotions." Gabriel looked away, and Sam couldn't help but laugh. The glare the archangel gave him would have put a stop to it, but after all he'd seen, Sam couldn't be scared of the archangel. Not right now.
"Sorry, but I've never seen you embarrassed before. I'm amazed."
"Bite me." Gabriel advised, offering only the slightest resistance as Sam pulled him back down into a hug.
"Maybe later." Sam stared up at the ceiling, feeling happiness stir within him like a tranquilized beast. It had been a long time since he'd just held someone like this, and it almost made him feel…
"Normal?" Gabriel supplied, his voice oddly small and quiet. Sam was going to have to get used to the whole mind-reading thing. He squeezed Gabriel's arm.
Gabriel sat back, looking at Sam for a moment, his grey-brown eyes flashing caramel once more. He leant in, gripping Sam's neck as he kissed him. Sam kissed him right back. Gabriel broke away, resting his head back over Sam's heart. Sam took a deep breath, wondering if Gabriel was using some freaky angel power, or if he legitimately was this blissed out.
After a while, Sam pushed himself up so he sat against the headboard, meaning that Gabriel's head wound up in his lap.
Gabriel stared up at him for a moment, disgruntled frown on his face.
"Yeah, I was getting cramped. But, you know, if you want something to do while you're down there…"
"Ha. Oh my sides, how they split." Gabriel sighed, pushing himself up so he could sit next to Sam. "First off, no. Second, you really don't want a blowjob from the Herald of God."
"You know that old joke about Superman's dog? If he humps your leg, you'll be in traction for a week?"
Gabriel grinned, eyes glinting, and Sam really wasn't sure whether he was joking or not. In the end, he settled for leaning back against the headboard and wrapping his arms around the archangel.
"So… Last night. That was a thing that happened."
"Which bit?" Gabriel said, dryly. "The 'me bringing back Castiel' bit, or the 'us sleeping together now you're not too drunk to deny it' bit?"
"The second one." Sam sighed. "Are you…" God, he sounded like such a girl. "Are you sticking around?"
"Looks like it." Gabriel sighed, pressing a kiss to the back of Sam's hand, for no real reason other than that it was there. "I mean, there's no heaven, really, no Host. I doubt the Pagans are going to want me back. Plus…" He smiled up at Sam, a look of cocky defiance in his eyes. "I'm not going to walk out on someone who fucks like that."
"Classy." Sam acknowledged, laughing as Gabriel playfully bit his finger. "So, are we… I mean, would you want to… I don't know, be a thing? Like, a relationship?"
"You humans do make love unbearably hard for yourselves, don't you?" Gabriel sighed, moving away a little so he could look Sam properly in the eye. He cleared his throat. "Sam Winchester, I would like to ascertain your permission to begin courting you, and solely you, for the duration of your natural lifespan, or until one of us becomes unbearably irritating to the other, whichever comes first. Formal enough for you?"
"Dick." Sam rolled his eyes. Gabriel shrugged.
"Did you ever see Kate and Leopold? Good film. Cheesy and trite, but good."
Sam ignored him. "I just mean… I like you. And I'd like to do this, and the whole relationship thing, but I wanted to know whether you felt the same. And, you know, whether or not we'd tell people."
Gabriel seemed to be considering his response, and was about to speak when there was a knock at the door. It sounded somewhat timid.
"Yeah?" Sam called, without moving.
"Hey." Hella's voice drifted through the closed door. Sam tried very hard to listen to what she was saying, and not thinking 'oh shit oh shit I fucked your Dad last night'. Gabriel must have picked up on it, because he bit his fist as he fought to keep his laughter silent.
"Castiel's awake and feeling a little bit better, so Dean's decided we're all going to go to the diner across the parking lot for breakfast. He says get your ass in gear or we'll order without you."
"Thanks, Hella." Sam called back, scowling at Gabriel, who was trying very hard to compose himself.
"Oh, and Sam?"
Hella paused for a moment, before he saw the door creak open and a ball of material fly through the gap at them.
"Dad left his shirt in the hall. Thought he might need it."
Gabriel froze in some sort of mute horror. Then it was Sam's turn to fight back laughter, as Gabriel buried his face against the hunter's arm.
"So we'll see you two in the diner?" Hella's voice drifted through the crack in the door, and Sam managed to stop laughing for long enough to say "yes."
There was a pause.
"You know, a 'thank you for returning my shirt, which for some reason was dropped outside…'"
"Yes." Gabriel didn't move his head form Sam's arm. "Thank you, Hel."
The door closed and they heard Hella running down the corridor. Sam found himself unable to keep his laughter quiet, because he doubted he would ever not find Gabriel's 'paternal tone' hilarious. Something about the trickster trying to be a disciplinarian just didn't work.
"Shut up." Gabriel groaned, prizing his face away from Sam's shoulder.
Sam smirked. Gabriel scowled, and kissed him, which got rid of the smirk for about ten seconds.
"I guess we're telling people, then?" Sam laughed, as Gabriel pushed aside the covers and got up.
"No." He corrected. "Hella's telling people. And I think we should get there as soon as possible to control the situation."
"Fair point." Sam mumbled, yawning and pushing aside the covers.
There was a snap, and he suddenly found himself much more clothed than he had previously been. It was… disconcerting.
"Yeah, I'm going to have to ask you to not do that." Sam grimaced at the sudden onset of mint in his mouth. Gabriel had apparently washed him and brushed his teeth for him too.
"Never again." Gabriel held up his hand, looking about as honest as Sam was a unicorn. "But these are desperate times."
He realised Gabriel was dressed too, as the archangel pushed past him and opened the door, and for a moment, Sam wondered exactly what he had gotten himself in to. Then, as he walked, he noticed a more pressing concern.
"Yes?" The archangel was grinning wickedly, making Sam dread the answer to his question.
"Exactly what kind of underwear am I wearing right now?"
Gabriel wiggled his eyebrows, grabbed Sam's hand, and started discussing breakfast.
When they got to the diner, things didn't look too good. Hella, Dean and Castiel were all in a booth, Hella and Castiel on one side, Dean seated on a chair at the end of the table. Gabriel and Sam slipped into the empty side, noting Hella and Dean with their trouble-making smirks, and Castiel who was staring sheepishly at the table.
There was a moment of silence, before Dean cleared his throat.
"Uh… Sam, the waitress came around before you guys got here, so we… ordered for you, if that's ok."
"That's fine." Sam said, glad that Dean was at least trying to be mature about it and not tease the hell out of him. Maybe they'd all grown up a little bit…
"Yeah, we just went right on ahead and… ordered you a short stack."
Then again, thought Sam, as Dean and Hella descended into fits of giggles and he was sure he saw Castiel crack a smile, maybe not.
"Nice. Great. Thanks for that." Gabriel scowled, aiming for 'powerful archangel' but hitting 'undermined patriarch' instead. "And Hella, you should be ashamed of yourself. Spying on your own father…"
"I wasn't spying!" She gave an indignant squeak, before pulling a disgusted face. "Why would I want to spy on you two doing that?"
"Oh really?" Gabriel glared at her. "If you weren't spying, just how did you find out?"
Hella and Dean both stared awkwardly at their plates, suspiciously looking everywhere but at Castiel. Castiel, who had been oddly quiet, even for him. Gabriel leant across the table, poking him in the forehead.
"Not cool, bro."
"I didn't mean to." Castiel sighed, glaring at Gabriel. "My grace is not entirely gone. I can still sense emotions and other angels…"
"So you told everyone?"
"I… was experimenting with the human urge to… get revenge." Castiel smirked, glancing quickly at Dean. Dean beamed like a proud friend. "I admit, I found it rather satisfying."
Gabriel glared for a moment, before turning to Sam.
"Your brother is a bad influence."
"Dude!" Dean glared, looking unreasonably offended. "You're the one who left your brother on his deathbed to go hook up with Sam."
"Whoa, what's that supposed to mean?" Sam, who had until then been watching the proceedings with a sort of resigned good humour, turned to face his brother. "Like if it was anyone else, that would have been better?"
"And he was not on his deathbed." Gabriel tutted, sitting back. "I knew he'd be fine, the way you were cooing over him. I mean look at him, he's walking and talking already. Clearly that "deeper, more profound bond" crap is paying off."
Castiel looked up sharply, and said something in Enochian. Gabriel raised an eyebrow and responded, his tone implying that his younger brother had better check himself.
It was at that point a waiter who looked something like a young Ryan Reynolds with a mullet sauntered up to Hella's side of the table, all swagger.
"Ok, we have a short stack, short stack and sausage, tuna melt with a side of toast, and…" He grinned down at Hella, who blushed. "And chocolate chip pancakes. Hey."
"That was three coffees, a water and a milkshake to drink, right?"
"Right." Dean grunted, his face set.
"Three coffees for the three of us," Gabriel interjected, his tone so cold it was amazing the waiter didn't drop dead of hypothermia then and there, "The water's for my brother there, and the milkshake would be for my daughter."
If the waiter had been listening, he didn't seem to care. He just winked at Hella and swaggered back to the kitchen. Hella blushed again. Gabriel stared for a moment, before standing.
"We're swapping seats."
"Yes, I want you over there, away from Mr. Sleazeball."
"Seriously?" Dean grimaced, looking at Hella like she was mad. "The dude had a mullet. I know you've led a kinda sheltered upbringing, Hella, so let me spell it out for you. Mullets don't bode well."
"Well, with the exception of Ash." Sam amended, for fairness. "But even then, he slept on a pool table. They're right, Hella, I don't trust that guy."
"Oh, that's fair." Hella huffed, protesting as Gabriel pointed to the seat he'd just vacated. "Everyone gets a boyfriend except Hella. You guys are such hypocrites."
"Whoa, who said anything about a boyfriend?" Dean held up his hands, a blush creeping across his cheeks. "I don't have a boyfriend."
"Don't worry." Gabriel hissed to Cas in a stage whisper. "He doesn't really mean it."
"Why would I worry about Dean's emotional attachments?" Castiel looked up from his toast, nonplussed.
"Don't confuse him." Sam sighed, prodding his pancakes with a fork.
"But it's so easy!" Gabriel whined, grinning as Sam rolled his eyes.
"Ugh, Dad, can you not be totally humiliating in public?"
"I'm with her; not while we're eating. I mean, I accept that you two are a thing, whatever, but I don't want to see it."
"Why would you say that?" Sam glared at his brother. "You know he'll only take it as a challenge."
And so they bickered, argued and laughed all the way through their breakfast, restoring the motel room, and checking out. Sam and Dean drove back to Bobby's, with Castiel sleeping across the back-seat. Gabriel and Hella flew, talking excitedly in Norwegian. Before they left, Sam caught the word "Valkyrie" and "Jörmungandr", but other than that he decided he didn't want to know.
The ride home (it was odd that he thought of it as home now, and Sam wondered what that meant for the family business, or indeed Bobby's sanity), was long and taxing, with Dean deciding it was the best time to have a serious talk.
"So. You and Gabriel."
"I didn't know you, uh… well, you know. Guys."
"Gabriel says the gender of an angel's vessel is irrelevant. It kind of… their angel-ness transcends physical form. Kind of hard to explain."
"Yeah, but… you remember the part where it's Gabriel, right? Gabriel who put us in TV land? Gabriel who killed me over and over again and made you watch?"
"No." Sam shook his head. "He's different. Before, he wanted us to hate him. He didn't want us to ask for his help. But now he's on our side, properly."
"Yeah…" Dean grunted, sounding unconvinced. "It's just… are you sure you know what you're doing?"
"I know." Sam smiled, staring out at the road in front of them. "And we might not be "bond-mates", or whatever you and Castiel are, but we know how we feel for each other."
That shut Dean up for a while.
The night sky was clearer than any of them could remember it being for a long time. The cold air sent shivers across Castiel's shoulders, which were instantly soothed by Dean's warm hands. He smiled, thankfully.
Gabriel watched them from the other side of the porch, absent-mindedly pressing Sam's hand to his lips.
Soon after they had returned to Bobby's, Castiel had offered a sincere and humble apology to the old hunter, which had been grudgingly accepted. Everyone present knew Bobby had allowed Castiel forgiveness more for Dean's benefit than anything else, but no one wanted to rock the boat. Sam and Gabriel were happy to supply a target for any hostility, as the "annoying new couple". For them, it was all in fun.
Hella seemed to love bouncing between the grown men, the central pull to link everyone together. Right now, she was leaning against the railing of the porch, humming "Johnny Come Lately" to herself. Dean had been educating both her and Castiel to music, which Gabriel had stated he would allow as long as he got to teach them about films and TV.
Sam stared out over the sky, hoping the weather reports had been right.
"S'cold." Bobby was leaning against the back wall of the house, staring at the sky.
"I could make cocoa?" Hella suggested, smiling.
"Won't be as good as mine." Gabriel sing-songed, teasing her. Hella stuck her tongue out at him, and stared at her hands, creating a tray and six mugs of cocoa. Dean, Cas and Bobby each took one of the mugs, grateful of the warmth. She handed the tray to Sam and focused on her hands again, creating a large pack of marshmallows.
Gabriel smiled at her for a moment, before snapping his fingers, and handing the resultant bottle of Tia Maria to Bobby. Hella gaped.
"That's your secret ingredient?"
"No." Gabriel tutted. "I wouldn't have plied my child with alcohol. That's just something that'll give it a bit of kick."
"Oh." She nodded, before nudging him. "Tell me what it is?"
He thought for a moment.
She threw a marshmallow at him, and everyone groaned. Gabriel continued smiling, sweeping Hella into a hug.
"There they are!" Sam pointed up to the sky. The weather reports had been predicting it for the last couple of days, and now, here it was. 'An unmatched meteorological phenomenon' is what they were calling it on TV. Thousands of unidentified meteorites, falling stars, tumbling across the sky all around Earth. Gabriel smirked at Castiel, dragging his eyes away from the amazing sight.
"We did that."
"So… are they the souls?" Bobby pushed back his hat, scratching at his head.
"Yes." Castiel sighed. "Not all of them. But many."
"And they're crashing to Earth." Dean nodded, pouring Tia Maria into his cocoa. "Why does that not sound like a good thing?"
"It does probably mean there's going to be a whole ton of monsters wandering around." Gabriel nodded, looking up at the sky. "Funny… they look so harmless, all the way out there."
"So…" Sam looked around at the others. "Does this mean we're back in business?"
"There's always people need saving." Bobby sighed, taking the Tia Maria back from Dean and pouring a generous amount into his own mug.
"Well alright." Dean nudged Castiel in the shoulder. "We're going to have to train you up… maybe get you a stab vest or something."
"Castiel with a gun." Sam muttered, shuddering to himself. Castiel looked form one Winchester to the other.
"I'd rather not be directly amongst the monsters. I don't think I'm…"
"Sufficiently kick-ass?" Gabriel supplied. Hella threw another marshmallow at him.
"Well Hella's not going on any more hunts unless there's no other option." Sam stated, staring out at the stars. "We can have the two of you as our researchers."
"Uh, do I get a say in this?" Hella pouted. Sam and Dean both smirked.
"Bobby, they're being mean."
They laughed, watching as Hella went to hug Bobby, who had become something of an adoptive grandfather over the last few days. Sam wrapped an arm around Gabriel, staring up at the sky, knowing that each falling star represented a future case, but for now he was intent to just enjoy the show.
As he hugged Gabriel tighter, Sam let out a deep breath, that he felt like he'd been holding for a long time, and smiled as it was instantly whipped away by the cold wind. So this was what stood between humanity and it's ever-present doom; Two brothers both struggling to make sense of what their lives had become, one tired old hunter, one fallen angel, one ex-trickster, and a girl with daddy issues.
Sam smiled to himself. They were a formidable team.