Author: TardisIsTheOnlyWayToTravel

Rating: PG-13

Characters/Pairings:Gabriel, Jimmy, Castiel, Sam, Dean, Claire

Spoilers: Across seasons 4 & 5. This fic is AU in that Jimmy is brought back when Castiel is, and season 5 goes differently after ChangingChannels.

Warnings: none?

Wordcount: ~5986

Summary:Jimmy Novak is Loki's unwilling BFF, so becoming an angelic vessel was hardly the weirdest thing that ever happened to him. Unfortunately. Crack.


The Epic Bromance of Jimmy and Loki


Jimmy gave a sigh of frustration as he suddenly found himself standing in a room that looked like it was designed to give interior decorators nightmares.

He turned around, already knowing who he was about to see.

"Hey there champ!" Loki greeted him. The pagan god was sprawled on the couch wearing nothing but a pair of boxers and a singlet, and there was a kitten perched on his shoulder and batting at his hair.

"For god's sake, put some clothes on," Jimmy said wearily. "And why the kitten?"

He had to ask. It could be part of a mentally-scarring, devious plan.

Loki shrugged.

"Why not? Found him attacking the ankles of anyone who walked past the local diner. Little guy's got spunk," Loki said fondly, as the kitten viciously bit a lock of his hair.

"You know, I'm supposed to be in class," Jimmy pointed out.

"Class is boring."

"I have an exam today."

"Those are boring too," Loki said sagely.

Jimmy glared.

"Why am I always the one you abduct?"

The pagan god made a pfft sound.

"Please," Loki disagreed. "Like you're the only one I kidnap. Although I admit, you're pretty much the only one who gets out alive and without either injury or vast psychological trauma."

Jimmy wondered exactly what Loki classed as 'vast psychological trauma' if being kidnapped by a chaotic Norse god and subjected to hair-raising experiences didn't count, but his sense of self-preservation shied away from asking.

"But why do you kidnap me?" he tried again.

Loki actually turned his head this time to properly face him, the amber eyes dark and glinting with something that experience told Jimmy was really very not good.

"Because one day, kiddo, you're going to have a really interesting life, that's why."

And the semi-psychotic, definitely malevolently-amused smirk he gave made Jimmy's gut clench.

"What –"

"Let's go do something interesting!" Loki exclaimed, and snapped his fingers.

When Jimmy did eventually get back to school to sit his exam, his creative writing piece ended up being about an animal abuser who caught the notice of a sadistic trickster god, and ended up being torn apart by one of the kittens he'd injured, which had been increased to the size of a tiger.

Jimmy just wished it was possible to get therapy for this.


The first time that Jimmy had met Loki, he'd been twelve years old, and the god had offered him candy.

Jimmy stared at the guy in disbelief.

"Are you kidding me?" he asked. "You're probably a paedophile, or something."

"Whatever," the guy shrugged, and ate the Skittles himself.

Jimmy turned away, and carefully didn't look in the man's direction.

For a couple of minutes there were only crunching sounds and the rustle of candy wrappers.

"So," the guy asked, stuffing the empty packet in one pocket and grinning in Jimmy's direction.

It was kind of a disturbing grin. No one sane was that manic.

"You look bored. The next bus isn't due for another hour. That last Indiana Jones movie, it looked like fun, don't you think?"

Jimmy sent the guy another weird look.

"You know, all that running around, escaping death traps, that kind of thing. Fun, right?"

"I guess," Jimmy replied, looking resolutely in front of him.

Like it wasn't bad enough he'd missed his bus and had to wait an hour, he had a complete stranger trying to make conversation with him.

"Great! Let's go!" the guy declared brightly.

Snap.

Jimmy threw himself backwards in horror and sudden fear, but before he could take another step back the guy grabbed him by one arm and pulled him firmly forwards.

"Whoah! You don't want to do that. There's a death trap right behind you."

Jimmy pushed back his pith helmet – pithhelmet?Pithhelmet?– so that he could see properly and stared wild-eyed at the guy in front of him, who was now dressed like Indiana Jones.

"W-what?"

The guy raised his eyebrows and nodded at something behind Jimmy.

Jimmy turned around slowly to see a raised piece of stone behind him.

"Where… where are we?" He felt faint.

"The Temple of Doom, of course. Now, isn't this a much more interesting way to spend the afternoon? I'm Loki, by the way."

"Loki," Jimmy repeated.

"Yup. Come on then, O midget sidekick! Let's go recover the priceless treasure!"

Jimmy had never admitted it, of course, but while terrifying, the experience has also been one of the most exciting of his life.

Unfortunately, it wasn't a one-off experience, and over the years that followed Jimmy would have given anything to have lead a nice, quiet, uninteresting life.


Jimmy knew that traditionally, college was supposed to be a time of crazy parties and testing boundaries as much as it was academic learning. Honestly, though, Jimmy felt no need to broaden his horizons; he was quite comfortable leaving the parties and risky behaviour to everyone else. As far as he was concerned, things were fine.

Apparently Loki disagreed with him.

"Where are we?" Jimmy looked around curiously.

"We, my young friend, are attending the hippest, wildest party there is." Loki slung an arm around Jimmy's shoulders. "Welcome to the Bacchanalia."

When Jimmy was in high school, he'd thought it was a good idea to read up as much as he could on the mythologies of other cultures, just in case he ever met any other gods and so that he knew what Loki was talking about.

He paled.

Loki rolled his eyes.

"Oh, yea of little faith. Relax, will you? I'll make sure nothing happens to you, okay?"

As Jimmy was fairly well-acquainted with Loki's rather loose definition of the word 'nothing,' this didn't make Jimmy feel much better.

"Just steer clear of the maenads," Loki added. "The Bacchae can get a tad vicious. Actually, avoid Dionysus, too. And Eris. You know what, avoid anyone who looks like a god, and be really polite to everyone else."

Jimmy stared at him in alarm. The trickster just pulled a heavy chain out of his pocket and draped it over Jimmy's head.

When Jimmy looked down, he saw that a pendant shaped like a snake twisted into a figure-eight and eating its own tail now rested prominently on his chest.

He looked up.

"Um –"

"Relax," Loki said again. "Mingle. Have fun. You'll be fine. And if anything happens, just give me a yell and I'll be there."

Before Jimmy could protest, the god vanished into the crowd.

Jimmy ended up gravitating to the banquet tables in the end, twitching nervously whenever someone brushed past him. The food was good, though, really good, and so was the wine, so Jimmy found himself relaxing and just enjoying it. No one was bothering him; he was just standing there eating and drinking without a problem.

He turned to grab one of the chicken drumsticks, and bumped into someone standing next to him. He hadn't realised that anyone was there.

"Sorry," he apologised, and then got a good look at the person in front of him.

She was wearing a tight satin dress that looked positively sinful and she had dark curling hair and a necklace made of tiny skulls strung around her neck, but most of Jimmy's attention was focused on the dark eyes that were staring up into his with a degree of malevolent rage that Jimmy hadn't seen since the time Loki decided that they should both go and bait a nesting dragon.

Loki had baited the dragon. Jimmy had hid behind the nearest rock.

The woman's eyes dropped to the pendant around Jimmy's neck, and her expression changed slightly.

"You're Loki's."

The look she gave him was somehow simultaneously considering and dismissive.

Ordinarily Jimmy would have objected to referred to as Loki's possession, but right now he felt distinctly grateful. All of his well-honed trouble instincts were screamingat him.

"Yes ma'am," he said respectfully.

"Hmph." The woman continued eying him. "At least you're well-behaved."

"Kali!" an extremely welcome voice exclaimed happily, and Jimmy almost collapsed on the spot from sheer relief mingled with terror as he realised exactly who the terrifying woman in front of him was. "How is the hottest woman in the universe going?"

Kali turned to scowl at Loki, but her eyes had softened a little and the corners of her mouth turned up the tiniest bit.

"Loki."

"That would be me," Loki agreed. "Hey, kiddo, everything fine?" he asked Jimmy.

"Yeah. Sure. It's great," Jimmy said, trying to convey the message helprescueme through wide eyes alone.

Loki smirked, and moved closer to Kali.

Jimmy took the opportunity to flee to the other side of the banquet table.

Loki spent the next twenty minutes flirting with Kali, who pretended that Loki's advances weren't welcome.

After a while Jimmy wandered off towards a group of women who were sitting in a circle singing. They were mostly wearing jeans and t-shirts, so they seemed safe enough. As Jimmy approached, they were singing AprilSuninCuba.

A couple of girls stopped singing as he stood next to them, and looked up at him.

"Hey there," one of them said, with a large, impish smile. She had long, messy blonde hair and wide, deep blue eyes. "You want to join in?"

As she said it there was a reshuffle that led to the circle growing larger until there was an empty space next to her.

"Sure." Jimmy folded himself down. "I'm not really much of a singer, though."

"That's okay." The woman talking to him patted his hand reassuringly. As she leaned over to do so Jimmy caught a whiff of a wild, heady scent drifting from her long wind-blown hair. "Just sing along. It's not about the talent, although that helps."

"Okay," Jimmy nodded.

The rest of the group had continued singing during the entire conversation, but as they came to the end of the song several paused to drink, or to eat from the bowls of fruit in the middle of the circle.

The next song they sang was Don't Fear the Reaper, and Jimmy found himself singing along lustily, his fingers curling into those of the women on either side of him. They moved onto singing Madonna songs after that, and Jimmy was surprised by how many he knew the lyrics to.

The energy of the girls was infectious and the wine in his goblet never seemed to run out, and Jimmy had no idea how much time was passing. It didn't matter, though. He was having a wonderful time.

When Loki found him Jimmy had two girls leaning on his shoulders and another resting her head in his lap, while someone passed him a bunch of grapes that were a lot plumper and sweeter than any grapes that Jimmy had eaten before.

"Well, isn't this cosy."

Jimmy tilted his head back to see Loki standing over him, looking a little bemused and rather entertained.

"Go away," said Chloe. "We're busy."

"He's our new favourite," said Agape. "Isn't he, Agathe?"

There were murmurs and nods of agreement from the other girls, including Agathe.

"They like me," Jimmy explained. He felt languorous and relaxed. His head felt heavy.

"Yeah, I can see that." Loki was looking inexplicably amused. "I'm sorry, ladies, but I'm afraid I've got a claim on this one. He's one of mine."

Jimmy wasn't sure exactly what happened next, but Loki rested a hand on his head, there was a flare of warmth from the pendant on his chest, and the faces of all the women fell.

"Aww," Pheobe complained. "It just figures. We find someone wonderful and he follows someone in another pantheon."

"Thems the breaks, I'm afraid," Loki said briskly, extricating Jimmy from the pile of girls and lifting him to his feet. "Come on, Mr Popular. You've got class tomorrow."

"It was lovely to meet you," Jimmy said to them all, swaying slightly on his feet. "You're all very beautiful, and your singing is great."

There were giggles and a 'bye, Jimmy!' and Elektra blew him a kiss as he and Loki vanished.

"They were nice," Jimmy said sleepily, as Loki dropped him onto his own bed back in his dorm room.

"Yeah, I could tell you thought so," Loki agreed. "Apparently you've got a gift for charming maenads. Thank your lucky stars you weren't torn to pieces."

"Maenads?"

"Yes, genius, maenads."

"Oh." Jimmy thought about that. He'd never felt like he was in danger. "Well, they were still nice."

Loki snorted a laugh, and moved to rest a hand on Jimmy's forehead.

"Go to sleep."

The moment that his fingers touched Jimmy's forehead, Jimmy did.


Jimmy was a fairly devout man. It was hard not to be, when you'd met gods from half a dozen cultures and knew, from things your pagan god friend had said, that the Big Guy in the Sky (to use Loki's irreverent phrasing) was completely real.

So Jimmy went to church regularly, and said grace before dinner, and generally tried to live a good Christian life (aside, of course, from the part of it that involved a certain trickster god).

Jimmy knew that it was part of what had attracted Amelia to him, but he was pretty sure she'd feel differently about it if she knew exactly why his faith was so strong.

Jimmy wasn't planning on telling her. He liked his ordinary life, thanks.


"I hear you're getting married tomorrow," a dreaded voice said by Jimmy's ear.

"Oh god," Jimmy groaned, and turned to face his unwelcome visitor.

He blinked in shock, as his eyes tried to assimilate the outfit in front of him.

"Uh –"

It was no good, his brain had stuttered to a halt at the myriad colours and the outrageous clothing. The feather boa was just the icing on the cake.

"Know what that means, Jimmy-boy?" Loki asked, waggling his eyebrows. "Vegas!"

Jimmy would have protested, but he was still in fashion disaster–induced paralysis.

Loki just clapped a hand to his shoulder and relocated them both.

It took two glasses of something sickeningly sweet and immensely alcoholic that Loki had shoved into his hands before Jimmy had quite regained his composure.

"I was just going to have a quiet night," he complained, removing the paper umbrella from his glass so that it didn't poke him in the eye. "I wasn't even going to have a stag night, or anything."

"I know," Loki nodded. "Good thing you've got me, right? Come on, let's take a crack at the roulette tables, and then we can go check out the burlesque show later."

Jimmy sighed.

To his surprise, he actually did pretty well at roulette, raking in a lot of chips while Loki perched, grinning, at his elbow, sucking down like the fifth bright-red thing he'd had that night, somehow managing to drink it without his paper umbrella poking him in the eye. That was a skill he'd like, Jimmy thought wistfully. Amelia probably wouldn't think so, or be impressed, but then Amelia didn't know that Jimmy was the unwilling sidekick/friend/target of a deranged Norse trickster god.

From the roulette tables they moved to the slot machines, before Loki dragged Jimmy off to view the burlesque show. Jimmy was fairly tipsy by then, so he could have been wrong, but he suspected that it wasn't entirely selfishness on Loki's part and that Loki genuinely believed that the show was something that he ought to experience before he got married.

Jimmy decided that this was unusually kind of the god. He hadn't planned on seeing mostly-naked women, but on the other hand it turned out be quite enjoyable, and anyway, he was just glad that Loki hadn't arranged strippers – or worse, because Loki had no shame.

By the time that Jimmy and Loki finally left the casino in the early hours of the morning, the two of them had raked in a lot of cash and drunk a lot of alcohol. Jimmy was just reflecting that the whole episode had turned out to be surprisingly trauma-free when a crowd of menacing-looking guys in all-black suits appeared in front of him and Loki.

Right, Jimmy thought. It figured.

"Hey fellas," Loki greeted them. "What's up?"

"Well, you see," drawled one of them, in the most stereotypical Italian-American accent that Jimmy had ever heard in his life, "somebody in the casino noticed that you seemed to be having a suspicious amount of luck. So the boss had you watched a little more closely, and while we might not have seen you do anything, some of those wins were impossible. So you had to be cheating. And the boss has a policy about cheating."

It was at this point of the conversation that the guns appeared.

Jimmy was pretty damn drunk by this time, but sheer horror and, truth be told, a certain amount of rage rendered him almost sober.

"You brought us to a mob-run casino, and you cheated?" he cried, rounding on Loki.

"They can't prove a thing," Loki answered, eyeing the guns warily.

Jimmy was torn between having a heart attack and trying to strangle the god, although a third option of 'throw up on the gangsters' shoes' was rapidly making itself known.

"They don't need to!" Jimmy bawled. "Christ!"

"Right, I see your point," Loki conceded. "Run!"

He started sprinting as he said it, which left Jimmy no choice but to gape, swear, and stagger cursing after him as fast as he could.

Jimmy could hear heavy feet pounding behind him, as well as the hair-raising sound of bullets ricocheting off stonework.

He was trying to catch up to Loki, but for a guy who ate nothing but candy and desserts the man could sure run fast.

Practice, Jimmy thought grimly.

He rounded a corner and an arm darted out, pulling him into an alleyway by his tie, so that Jimmy was forced to lurch sideways.

"Shh!" Loki hissed, clutching at him. "Don't throw up yet!"

Jimmy clapped a hand over his mouth and slumped back against the wall, sweating. His stomach felt like it was about to turn over.

In the distance he could hear several footsteps running – sounding like, say, a couple of illusions fleeing from mobsters – and a bunch of much heavier footsteps drawing closer.

Loki watched, eyes wide with anticipation, as the thugs ran straight past the alley without spotting either of them.

"Okay, now you can throw up," Loki said reassuringly.

Jimmy threw up.

Out of the corner of his eye he could see Loki watching in a kind of fascinated disgust as he purged his stomach, but there was nothing he could do about it except hope that one day all Loki's accrued bad karma rebounded on him, the bastard.

Feeling marginally better, Jimmy straightened up.

"That was nasty," Loki commented.

God, Jimmy wanted to hit him.

"No one was making you watch," Jimmy snarled. "Can I go home now?"

That last part came out more plaintive than he liked.

Loki stared at him for a moment.

"Sure, okay. How do you feel about a Hawaii Five-O marathon? We can mock their haircuts and dubious life choices."

"That," Jimmy said fervently, "sounds great."


He woke up the next morning surprisingly hangover-free, in his own bed, with a considerably more expensive suit than he'd purchased hanging in his wardrobe.

And if he spotted Loki eating all the desserts at the reception that night, well, Jimmy was in a good enough mood to just smile and shake his head.


"Your boss is hot."

Jimmy just sat there for a minute, feeling depressed and resigned.

He should have known that some day, Loki would turn up at work.

"He's a man," Jimmy said, though, because his boss was.

"So? I'm a god. You think I care about petty little things like sex and gender?"

"You realise this information puts a totally different spin on the time you took me to the nude beach and I caught you staring at me," Jimmy replied. He wasn't really concerned; he knew that the only person Loki really had any interest in was a homicidal Hindu goddess universally known as 'the Destroyer,' which said a lot about Loki's issues.

Loki snickered.

"I can't believe you work here," he said amiably, after a moment. "I mean, selling radio advertising space? Come on. Where's the kid who went through the Temple of Doom with me?"

"Sitting at a desk, rejoicing that he has such a comfortable and unexciting job." Loki was enough excitement in Jimmy's life.

Loki pouted.

"I think we should go on an adventure."

"I think I should stay here while you go away and let me work in peace," Jimmy said dryly.

"Aw, don't be like that."

Jimmy ignored him.

"Look! What if I told you I could get you back here at the exact same moment you left?" Loki wheedled.

Jimmy considered the offer.

Normally he'd say no, but even for him, things had been a bit boring lately. Not to mention, Rosa had been determinedly flirting all morning, and Jimmy was a happily married man. A break from her advances would be nice.

"Would you get me back at the exact same moment I left?" Jimmy asked, finding the loophole that Loki always left somewhere in his offers. People who went on about deals with the devil had never met Loki.

Loki actually looked pleased that Jimmy had noticed his little technicality.

"If you asked nicely," he decided.

Jimmy sighed.

"What are you planning?"

Loki tilted his head thoughtfully in consideration.

"How does a visit to Buckingham Palace sound?"

Jimmy sighed again, and tried to make sure his lips didn't twitch into a grin.

"Fine."


Becoming a vessel to an angel probably wasn't the brightest thing Jimmy had ever decided to do. At the time, he had known that.

By the time that Castiel abruptly left him to go do whatever it was that angels did when they weren't wandering around in naïve morons, Jimmy knew that saying yes had been downright dumb.

As he scoffed down his fourth hamburger, Jimmy fleetingly wondered what Loki had thought of the whole thing – because there was no way that he hadn't noticed that Jimmy was being worn like a suit by an angel – but decided to concentrate on the hamburger instead of following up on that thought.

Hamburgers! God! Wonderful! Praise be! Thankyou thankyou thankyou!

All Jimmy wanted (once he'd eaten enough hamburgers; that bastard of an angel had fucking starved him) was to get home back to his wife and his little girl. God knew what Amelia thought had happened.

He winced at the thought.

There were times he thought that he should have explained his weird sort-of-friendship with Loki to his wife, and he had to admit that if he had, this would probably be easier for Amelia to handle. But on the other hand, exposure to Loki was enough to send any ordinary person insane. Jimmy was only immune due to long-term exposure from the time he was a kid. Well. Partly immune. God knew how that kind of exposure had twisted his psyche as he'd grown up.

Still, here he was, sitting in a hotel room with Castiel's pet projects, and all he wanted was to get home and have everything go back to normal, but there was no way to Jimmy could possibly explain the truth to Amelia.

Yeah. He was kind of fucked.

Jimmy sighed, and wondered if he could convince the Hardy Boys to get him a beer.

God, I've missed beer.


Jimmy hadn't really believed the Winchesters' warning that demons might be after him. He was so used to weird shit happening and everything going back to normal afterwards that it never really occurred to him that this situation might be different, and that the consequences might be longer-lasting.

So he'd sneaked out while Sam was gone, without any expectations that demons really might come after him.

And, by extension, his family.

Jimmy felt like his world had turned to ash.

He'd… he'd thought he could just go back to his life, despite what the Winchesters had said. Jimmy was so used to life going weird on him that he'd thought he could just move past this whole angel possession thing, the way he did whenever Loki did something disturbing.

But his little girl was standing in front of him, with distant, dispassionate eyes that weren't hers, and Jimmy realised that this time things were different.

Jimmy hated being a vessel, but he would do anything to spare his daughter. The last thing he wanted was to see Claire tethered to the angel that had mucked up his life – because Jimmy might have agreed to allow Castiel the use of his body, but he'd never imagined that angels were like this.

Please. Anything but this. Not my daughter. Anything but my daughter. Please, God, Castiel, don't do this.

He didn't care what happened to him. He didn't care what he went through.

"Please, Castiel," Jimmy pleaded. "Me, just take me. Take me, please."

"As you wish," said the angel.

She touched his face, and the world turned to white light.


Castiel usually kept Jimmy's consciousness dormant. Apparently, however, it was difficult for the falling angel to do so when he was pouring all his energy into something else, which was why Jimmy had the unpleasant experience of coming awake just as his body was being mauled by something vicious.

If Jimmy had still had control of his body he would have been screaming from the pain, but Castiel just kept fighting through it without any faltering in his determination to do whatever the hell it was he planned on doing.

Jimmy looked out helplessly through his own eyes, and would have gaped.

He was fighting off dinosaurs. Dinosaurs.

A tendril of suspicion and dread curled upwards from Jimmy's stomach. Or it would have if his stomach had been his, anyway.

Castiel made one last effort to do whatever he was doing and the two of them were in flight for an abrupt moment before the angel burst through a door.

The room inside looked like a kitschy cheap motel room, and Jimmy's pained suspicion increased.

As he walked in the Winchesters looked up, looking almost as bad as Jimmy felt.

"You okay?" Dean instantly asked, his expression morphing into concern. Apparently Castiel did look as bad as Jimmy felt.

"I don't have much time," Castiel said curtly.

"What happened?" Sam asked.

"I got out," Castiel explained, trying to continue before he was interrupted again.

"From where?" Dean asked, frowning.

"Listen to me." Castiel said urgently. "Something is not right. This thing is much more powerful than it should be."

"What thing – the Trickster?"

Jimmy's heart plummeted as his suspicion was confirmed.

"If it is a trickster," Castiel said grimly.

"What do you mean?"

Before Castiel could answer something blasted him and Jimmy back into a wall. Jimmy hated how used to this shit he was becoming.

"Hello!" called a familiar voice, all beaming joy and mischief and unholy glee, and Jimmy was going to kill him, fucking kill him.

"Thank you, thank you, please, stop!" Loki gushed in mock-bashfulness, while Castiel got to his feet with cold anger kindling in him like a blow-torch, which nicely complemented Jimmy's own burning rage.

Loki looked directly at him.

Jimmy could see the recognition, the bastard, but Loki simply smiled.

"Hi Castiel," he said pleasantly. A moment later the smile vanished, and Loki made a little sweeping movement in their direction.

Something yanked just behind Jimmy's stomach, and the next minute he was crashing into someone's feet.

There was a shriek as the owner of the feet leapt backwards.

"Shawn! A guy just appeared out of nowhere!"

Castiel ignored him, getting to his feet and ripping off the tape across Jimmy's mouth, which was surprisingly painful thanks to the fact that Jimmy needed a light shave.

Castiel immediately resumed his attempts to return to the Winchesters.

The next few hours were pretty much as painful as anything that Jimmy had ever experienced, as he was stabbed, crushed, shot (by bullets, arrows, and lasers respectively), partially eaten, burned, drowned, and innumerable other unpleasant things.

There was a sudden jerk behind his stomach, much gentler this time, and then –

Castiel and Jimmy were standing in an abandoned warehouse, looking at Loki trapped within a ring of holy fire, appearing simultaneously defiant and wretched.

"Gabriel," Castiel growled, smarting with betrayal and anger and disappointment.

What?

Jimmy's furious shock caught Castiel's attention, and before he could hear or see any more, he was once again smothered into unawareness by Castiel's Grace.


Jimmy had no idea what had happened, but he was suddenly sitting on the floor staring across at a double of himself.

The double wore the faintest expression of surprise, and Jimmy knew instantly that it was Castiel. You couldn't share a body with someone for as long as he had without learning to recognise them.

"There now," a voice said cheerfully. "Isn't that better?"

Before Jimmy knew it he was on his feet and punching the bastard in the face.

Gabriel staggered back as his nose went crunch, because unlike Castiel he didn't keep his vessel's body as unyielding and invulnerable as stone. It would have been too much of a giveaway.

"You fucker!" Jimmy yelled. "I invited you to my wedding!"

"No you didn't," Gabriel said, nose already healed. He was watching Jimmy warily.

"Well, you came anyway! And you ate half the dessert at the reception, and I never said a word!"

The Winchesters were watching wide-eyed and Castiel was staring, but Jimmy didn't care.

"You set dinosaurs on me, you unmitigated bastard! I was electrocuted and eaten and shot at and stabbed and God knows what else, and Castiel was concentrating so hard on getting out that I felt every minute of it! You were supposed to be my friend! My really annoying friend who drags me on adventures against my will, but my friend!"

Jimmy had to stop there to take a breath.

He stood there, chest heaving, glaring at Gabriel harder than he'd ever glared at anyone in his life, while a fierce geyser of uncontrollable rage fountained through him.

Jimmy took a deep, sobbing breath, and turned away from the archangel.

" 'Sorry' isn't really going to help, is it."

"No," said Jimmy, still with his back to Gabriel. "It's not."

"The fuck?" Dean managed to find words.

"Meet Loki," Jimmy spat out. "My best friend."

He could almost feel Gabriel slump in on himself behind him, but it served the asshole right.

"I didn't realise you were awake in there," Gabriel said, sounding guilty.

"That doesn't matter," Jimmy said, rounding on him in exasperation.

Gabriel looked like a house had fallen on him.

It suddenly dawned on Jimmy that, quite possibly, he hadn't simply been a source of entertainment, but that Gabriel might actually have considered him to be as much of a friend as Jimmy did Gabriel.

It was a startling thought that had never really occurred to Jimmy before.

His rage suddenly deflated, leaving only a vast well of deep, weary hurt.

"When I was fifteen," Jimmy said thoughtfully, "I asked you why you were always abducting me."

Gabriel angled his head down and sent Jimmy a sort of slanted, sideways glance.

"I remember."

"Dude," Dean told Sam. "This is like a soap opera."

Jimmy wished that Dean would fuck off. Sam, too. And Castiel.

"Was that the only reason?" Jimmy inquired.

Gabriel sighed.

"You were a good kid. Castiel had just gone all rebel on everyone and I was curious about you, so I popped back in time to find out more. But you genuinely had fun, no matter how much you bitched about everything, and you grew on me."

Gabriel hesitated, before admitting,

"Most people find me annoying."

"I'm astonished."

Gabriel sent Jimmy a look.

"Yeah, I know, but normally they hate me for it. You, on the other hand? Somewhere beneath all the irritation and the complaints, you actually like me. And you didn't complain half as much as you could have, and that told me something too."

Jimmy couldn't really deny it.

"You traumatised me for life," he said instead.

Gabriel's lips twitched for a moment, before his expression settled back into something sad.

"I want to go home," Jimmy said tiredly.

Gabriel just nodded.

"I've been keeping an eye on your kid," he offered. "Since, you know, the demons thing."

Jimmy closed his eyes.

"Thank you."

There was snap of fingers, and when he opened his eyes again Jimmy was standing in front of his own front door.


On Claire's eleventh birthday Jimmy came downstairs to find his daughter riding a giant pink My Little Pony around the kitchen.

Jimmy blinked once, twice, and then pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Good morning, Claire."

"Dad!" Claire cried. "Isn't this cool? I mean, I'm a little old for ponies, and it's pink, but still!"

"Thank you," the pony said brightly.

Jimmy continued to pinch the bridge of his nose and shut his eyes, but there was an irresistible bubble of laughter rising in him.

"I see. Happy birthday. Did your benefactor happen to say if he was sticking around?"

"Oh, he's out by the pool," Claire responded, as her pony cantered into the living room.

Jimmy's house didn't have a pool, but he accepted Claire's words with equanimity, and went outside.

Gabriel was stretched out on a recliner next to what had been the back yard, sipping something bright pink through a ridiculous curly straw.

"Want one?"

He waved it at Jimmy.

Jimmy watched him for a minute.

Then he sat on the second recliner and held out an expectant hand.

Gabriel grinned, and Jimmy was holding a glass like the archangel's.

He sipped at it.

The thing about Gabriel was, Jimmy knew, that he didn't really know how to deal with people. Underneath the manic, cheerful, maddening exterior lurked a lonely, hurt being who was used to being rejected and reviled, and had no idea how to change that. He'd been lonely enough to hang around with a twelve year old boy, and to keep coming back over the years despite all Jimmy's annoyance, because he knew that beneath it Jimmy had a genuine affection for him.

Jimmy was still angry at what Gabriel had done, but he'd had time to move past it. Underneath Gabriel's smile was a very real fear of being repulsed and forced to go back to being all alone, and Jimmy couldn't do that to him.

"You still have no taste in alcohol," he commented, leaning back. "And it's sad when you hae the best social skills out of all your brothers."

Gabriel frowned.

"I'm going to pretend that was a compliment."

"It sort of was," Jimmy said honestly.

They lay there in silence, sipping their drinks until Claire trotted outside on her pony.

It had a candy painted on its rump, Jimmy saw, looking at it properly this time, and what looked like a trumpet.

He eyed Gabriel thoughtfully.

"Is that pony… you?"

"Kind of," Gabriel allowed.

"Hey, Dad," Claire asked, "is he…"

"Claire, I'd like you to meet Gabriel," Jimmy told her. "He's my oldest friend."

Claire had always been bright and she instantly put it together.

"Is he an archangel?" She stared at Gabriel curiously.

"Ooh, she's clever," Gabriel approved. "Hey, you ever wanted to visit the moon?" he asked Jimmy.

"No," Jimmy replied.

"Aw, come on, it'll be fun."

"No."

"I'd like to visit the moon," Claire said hopefully. The pony nodded in enthusiastic agreement.

"Ooh yeah!"

"No."

"Yeah, right, like you actually have any say in this, kiddo."

"Daddy, please?"

"No! No one is going to the moon!"