Sam leaned against the ramshackle fence bordering Bobby's property at the back of the house, savoring the knowledge that they could take it easy, the war was over and done, the Apocalypse halted in its tracks and Lucifer locked safely back in hell. Dean and Cas, having caught a clue at long last, were off doing things he wasn't going to think about, and he was here at Bobby's with Gabriel popping in whenever he could snatch a moment from his reinstated heavenly duties. Bobby himself was off in the salvage yard, savoring the work he'd been denied before Gabriel had restored his legs. Sam was loathe to intrude on the man, painfully aware of how strained their bonds to him had become given the sacrifices he'd made, so he was here, watching the sun sink lower and simply enjoying the moment.
He'd had time to start thinking about what he wanted to do. He'd still hunt—he didn't have it in him to ignore the monsters under the bed anymore—but he didn't think he could stomach it all the time either. Most hunters, if they got old enough or worn enough, settled down like Bobby had with a business for legitimate income and the occasional hunt on the side. He even had a pretty good idea: with the Roadhouse gone, the hunters had lost a crucial nexus for networking, passing information on, and even just a safe place to relax and recharge for the next hunt. If he combined it with a decent library, offered people a place for research much as Bobby did, he'd have twice the draw. And the bar side of it would appeal to Dean. Their newly spotless reputations, thanks to angels and God's idea of appropriate thanks, wouldn't hurt either. He'd already put feelers out.
And having a stable, legitimate business and a place to call home meant it was time to wrap up the final loose end. But first he was going to have to bring it up to the Archangel who'd Claimed him, body and soul. He blew out a breath, because this was not going to be easy.
"Hey." Strong arms wrapped around him as a body appeared behind in on the fence, and he relaxed into the achingly familiar touch, smile already lighting his face.
"Hey yourself. That was quick."
Gabriel shrugged. "Dad's straightening things out, I'm not really needed, and I'd rather be down here with you."
His smile deepened as he leaned back into his archangel's solid form. "Good."
For a few minutes they lingered, Gabriel perched on the fence, Sam leaning back against him as he watched the sun set, listened to the hum of the insects and the rising chorus of frogs as twilight drifted in. It was Gabriel who broke the hush, voice soft and curious.
"What are you up to, Sammy?"
He hesitated briefly. Gabriel knew about his tentative plans for a home and approved—he'd already decreed he was conjuring up the house based on whatever plans Sam and Dean agreed on, and that it'd be protected with an archangel's might—but he didn't know everything. He didn't know the second part of Sam's dream for their future, and it might break them.
"Sammy." Quiet but stern, a thread of warning Sam had learned to heed. Gabriel's patience with his rampant insecurities had strict limits whenever they led to Sam questioning their bond.
"You probably won't like it," he admitted into the quiet, and Gabriel shifted behind him, one hand falling deliberately to press into the Mark seared into his hip in silent reminder and reassurance. He blew out a breath and surrendered to his angel's will. "Jesse Turner."
Gabriel paused. "Who?"
"His name is Jesse Turner. He's supposedly the anti-Christ." Sam wasn't quite buying it, even if it was Cas who'd called Jesse that; Ruby had gone on a whole anti-Christ kick when it came to him, to the extent of killing off anyone related to him by blood, and God knew he was nothing more than a Vessel.
Gabriel actually sounded surprised. "Whoa, wait, some demon actually managed to bear a kid?"
"His mom got control back—the demon was somehow kicked out while she was giving birth," Sam explained. "She gave Jesse up for adoption. We found him." He twisted in the loose hold until he was looking squarely into speculative hazel eyes. "He was manifesting twisted versions of urban legends: itching powder making people scratch their brains out, a buzzer strong enough to kill. I thought it was you at first, but it lacked your flair."
Gabriel's lips quirked. "Sounds like he's got a sense of humor."
"He didn't know he was doing it," Sam assured him hastily. "He's eleven; kids are stupid at that age. But we showed up and we shattered his world around him." He bit his lip, and a gentle thumb tugged it free again.
"Keep going." Gabriel was listening, and that was almost more than he'd dared hope for.
"Dean…Dean wanted him to fight with us, spun him a story about superheroes. Cas wanted to kill him." He flicked a glance up again, wanting to see the reaction. "He turned Cas into a plastic action figure."
Gabriel blinked, then snorted with laughter. "I'm liking this kid."
"Yeah. I liked him too."
Hazel eyes softened. "And what did you want from him, Sammy?"
Sam lifted his chin. "I wanted him to make the right choice. The choice I was too stupid and proud to make."
Gabriel rolled his eyes briefly, but sooner or later he'd wear even Sam's granite stubbornness down. Right now, he was more interested in finding out where his mate was going with this. "Of course you did. Keep going."
"Demon showed up wearing the biological mom, Jesse turned it down flat." There was a thread of pride in Sam's voice, and Gabriel quirked another smile, not remotely surprised that his mate had reached the boy despite his heritage and the lures the demon had undoubtedly cast. It was a testament to Sammy that the kid had refused; kids weren't exactly known for common sense and making the smart choice, but this one had and he'd lay serious money it was due in no small part to whatever Sam had said to the kid.
Sam winced. "He knew. I saw it in his eyes. He knew that they knew where he was, he knew he'd never be safe again. Never be normal again. It was me all over again, Gabriel. I couldn't—it made sense to take him with us, to use his power, but I couldn't do that to a kid." Not like his father had done to him and Dean. Gabriel shut his eyes, already knowing how it had probably played out. Sam, and Dean too for that matter, had said what was expected, had urged the kid to come with them—and at some point, one or both had given him the chance to slip away and hadn't gone looking when he'd taken them up on it.
"Where'd he go?" he asked mildly, and Sam paused for a second.
"Australia. He had a poster up on his wall, and he liked surfers. He—ah, he called me a couple weeks later to let me know he was okay. We've kept in touch. He knows the Apocalypse is over, but he can't go back. His home is gone. His foster parents, they don't even remember him. He's scared and he's lonely, and he's still just a kid."
Gabriel nodded, mind racing ahead. He'd wondered a little what was driving Sam to sink his roots deep, and now he knew: a bar wasn't a bad place to raise a kid. Sam couldn't give Jesse normal—but he could give him a pretty damn good approximation, especially if his mate was willing to pitch in. It'd been awhile since he'd helped raise a child, but even an anti-Christ didn't have the firepower Gabriel did on his worst day, and Sammy understood all too well what it was like to live with demon blood and the expectations it brought. Between them, they were probably the best choices to parent the kid when all was said and done. Dean would be an awesome uncle, and Cas had unbent a great deal over the course of the Apocalypse what with learning to think for himself and all.
"You ready for a munchkin spreading teenage angst around?" he asked rhetorically, and smirked as Sammy relaxed against him.
"Yeah, actually. You?"
"Sun and surf coming right up," he said, and snapped his fingers. Sam's startled yip made him grin as they reappeared on a pristine beach, humans darting to and fro on the pounding waves as tourists sprawled in pasty bunches under the hot sun. And one young boy stared at them, alarm flashing across his face until he actually looked at them, focused on Sam, and beamed his delight.
Gabriel let his mate race ahead to meet the kid, ambling along in Sammy's wake as he studied the palm frond hut the humans' eyes skated over, filled with the giant flat-screen TV and the Xbox with the piles of games everywhere. Definitely his kind of eleven year old, he decided as Sam's laughter rang out, a rare sound these days and one he cherished. A child's voice wove through the rumble of Sam's, and Gabriel smiled as he watched his mate ruffle their new fledgling's dark hair.
Oh, yeah. This'd work out just fine. His smirk grew as he contemplated the potential of an ally in prank wars—and the looks on his Brothers' faces when they learned about his newly adopted fledgling. And they'd thought him and Cas working with Crowley was bad…oh, this? This was going to be fun.