Pairings: Michael/Lucifer, Gabriel/Castiel, Michael/Gabriel/Lucifer, Michael/Gabriel/Castiel/Lucifer
Warnings: Self harm, graphic violence, torture, angelcest, abuse of Grace, physical abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, trauma, attempted suicide, mentally unstable characters, insanity
Notes: Oh, this fic. How I adore and fear thee. This actually came about as an idea about a year ago and I had put it down for whatever reason (I can't remember now), but then I picked it back up for horrorbigbang and I'm so glad I did. Thanks to _bluebells for beta'ing the first 6k of this fic. It really put the rest of the story on the right track. Thanks to dr_jasley for the rest of the beta work! She did a great job and made sure it stayed on the right track. More thanks to zekkass, stharridan, ladyknightanka and all my Twitter friends for all their support and encouragement. They really helped me get through this fic. :D Also thanks to my artist, rainyrocket for all her hard work on the art.
"I want to see you break. I want to smash you into a thousand pieces. I want to see you come undone." The words are breathed into his ear, sending a shiver down his spine.
Gabriel whips around, eyes scanning the room for any sign of his brother.
He knew this would happen; knew exactly when his brother was released from his cage and just what would happen when he wasn't there to bow to him.
There's a ghost of a dark chuckle behind him and he turns again, wishing he had the willpower to just leave, but Lucifer would only find him again. Fingernails graze the side of his neck and he jerks away, Grace reaching out to Lucifer's, wanting to know where he is. He doesn't like not knowing where the other Archangel is. It leaves him open to attack. A hand grips his chin tightly, just on this side of painful and forces him to meet his brother's smug gaze.
Lucifer narrows his eyes and doesn't say anything, which only serves to heighten Gabriel's tension. He suspects that's what Lucifer wants: he wants Gabriel to snap and admit his need for him. He won't do it; he can't. Not anymore.
Not since Lucifer's Fall.
There's something twisted and broken deep inside Lucifer and, as much as Gabriel yearns to fix it – fix Lucifer – he just can't. He can't bear the pain and misery and the guilt.
There's another flutter of wings and Michael is here as well.
Gabriel stares at his oldest brother, feeling a mixture of shock and disbelief.
Michael reaches out and strokes Gabriel's cheek softly. "Calm down, dear brother. We're not here to hurt you."
Lucifer sneers, but doesn't say anything and lets go of Gabriel's chin, raking his nails down Gabriel's neck in a way that screams, 'You belong to me'. Gabriel's breath is coming out in short, sharp pants, panic overtaking him. It's rare for him to lose control like this, especially in front of other Angels, but these aren't any ordinary Angels. They are his older brothers. The ones who own him, in a sense. They are the ones who raised him, taught him everything he knows. He knows he can never repay them for that and he hates the feeling of belonging to them like some sort of property, but that's just how it is.
He inhales deeply and lets out the unnecessary air slowly, trying to calm himself. It doesn't work and he's once again caught between his brothers, an unwilling pawn in a chess game where he doesn't know the rules and always loses, no matter what. The one thing he swore would never happen once he left is happening all over again and he's powerless to stop himself from falling, again and again, just for them. It's not supposed to be this way. They were never supposed to find him. He is free now. Free from the chains and restraints of Heaven, free from the wrath of his Father and, most importantly, free from them.
Michael reaches out and presses the ends of two fingers against Gabriel's chest and Gabriel has to struggle not to flinch. He does flinch, however, when Michael pulls his fingers back and there's a brilliant blue-white thread connecting them. Lucifer notices Gabriel's look of pure horror and smiles, enjoying his brother's fear. Michael smiles in a way that is supposed to be reassuring, but it only makes Gabriel panic more. "Don't worry, it's still your Grace. You can have it back... eventually."
He splits the thread, handing one end to Lucifer. Gabriel gasps when he feels the pull on his Grace slowly being dragged from his vessel as Michael and Lucifer both wind the thread around their fingers. They leave him just enough so he's not Fallen, but it hurts; a dull, throbbing ache the vibrates throughout his vessel and his true self, and he shudders at the feeling of someone else having a hold on his Grace when it's been untouched for so long.
To have someone else touch your Grace, either with their own or physically, is the ultimate sign of trust between Angels. Too bad Michael and Lucifer seem to have missed that memo. Gabriel looks between them, aching and weak, just how he knows they want him.
It wasn't always like this. Gabriel can still remember a time before, when Lucifer was Unfallen, Michael wasn't broken and they were happy.
He falls to his knees, unable to hold himself up any longer and he feels his wings manifest in the physical plane, though he struggles against it, trying desperately to hold them back, knowing the games Lucifer likes to play with them. There's a hand brushing through his hair as though trying to comfort him and he wants to move away, but he's too weak and too defenseless. He keeps his head bowed, though he knows that they expect some show of defiance on his part. He can't find the strength anymore.
Lucifer is nearly purring at the sight of Gabriel's magnificent wings, furled up against his back. He strokes a hand down one of them, making Gabriel hiss through his teeth. Lucifer's hands are frigid against his feathers, a chill spreading outward, making him shiver. He feels the tug on his Grace that means Michael has handed it Lucifer. That is never a good thing.
Michael whispers something to Lucifer and Gabriel can just about feel Lucifer's glee at Michael's suggestion when his hands tighten in his feathers.
Lucifer trails his hand through the soft, downy feathers on the inside of his wings, smoothing them out. Suddenly he grabs a fistful and yanks hard, making Gabriel scream with the unexpected pain. His Grace burns brightly, intensifying the ache and Michael smiles at Lucifer while Lucifer laughs, letting the feathers float gently to the ground beside Gabriel.
Michael crouches in front of him, hands cupping his face as he whispers to him in Enochian. Gabriel doesn't understand what he's saying for a moment, too caught up in his own pain to register anything else.
When the pain fades slightly, Gabriel looks up at Michael and asks.
"How could you let him do this to us?"
Michael wasn't always this way. Gabriel remembered when Michael would never let anything hurt him. When he was the big brother that Gabriel adored. Of course, Gabriel still remembered that about Lucifer too, but he never expected Michael to be so cruel.
Lucifer leans down and whispers to Gabriel, "Look at how far he's come. Not the older brother you remember, is he? Then again, you never really knew us anyway." As Michael stands, Lucifer forces a hand between Gabriel's wings and presses him to bow before Michael.
Gabriel feels the cold bite of an Angelic blade pressing against the side of his neck. A part of him wants to press harder against it, wants it to slice through flesh and bone, blood and Grace. He wants it all to end, wants it to be over so bad, he's willing to die for it for a moment. He knows he can never do that though. There's still one Angel out there who needs him, though he's not sure what good he'll be after Lucifer and Michael are finished with him.
Pain flares, bright and sharp and unexpected, in his right wing. He's been too caught up in his own thoughts to realise that the blade had been moved from his neck. The one wielding it, however, isn't who he expects. It's Michael. Lucifer stands in front of him now, though Gabriel's still bowed uncomfortably, but he knows that it's Michael currently hacking away at his wing. Well, to be fair (and Gabriel isn't sure why he is), Michael is delicately slicing into his wing, just barely grazing the skin beneath his feathers.
It makes the last little bit of his Grace draw up and away from the cold sting, but it resonates throughout him anyway. Gabriel holds in his pain though because if there's going to be one thing he keeps in all of this, it's going to be his dignity.
Finally, Lucifer lets him straighten as Michael finishes the new mark. Gabriel feels the Enochian sigils that now scar the flesh of his wing and bind him even more firmly to his brothers. Both Michael and Lucifer place their hands on the marks and push their Grace into them, giving them power. This time Gabriel can't hold in the scream of sheer agony it causes him. Their Grace mingles and burns so bright, too bright, feeling like a fire burning him from the inside out. It blots out his weakened Grace completely and it hurts him in a way that he's never been hurt before, not even by them.
Then it's gone just as quickly as it came and Gabriel is sobbing, gasping with relief. He can't find it in himself to care about the tears streaming down his face or the look of disgust that comes from both of his brothers for acting so human. He finally calms down enough to look up at them, pleading with his eyes for them to let him go.
"You've been pretending to be something you're not for far too long, Gabriel. It's time you remember what being an Angel feels like." Michael says, anticipation flashing in his eyes.
Gabriel knows this look, has seen it before. Never on one of his brothers or sisters, but on the faces of the Pagan Gods. He knows what that look means, knows what's coming and he is terrified. It means punishment and it'll be so much worse than the Pagans ever thought to be because his brothers are nothing, if not creative.
He gathers the last bit of his strength, knowing this could get him killed, and stands up.
"No?" Lucifer cocks an eyes brow at him, amusement in his voice.
"That's what I said. Now give me back my Grace and let me go." Gabriel doesn't know where this false confidence comes from, but he's grateful for it as he faces his brothers.
Blinding pain rushes through him and he can't even scream this time. The air is forced from his lungs and he collapses onto his knees, arms curling around his waist. He's almost bent in half, pain slicing through his very being.
"This is what happens when you defy us, Gabriel." Lucifer's voice is dark and cold, but his touch is soft and kind as he cards his fingers through Gabriel's hair.
Gabriel finally understands what they're doing to him: they're ripping his Grace away. It's their own brand of punishment. Twisted and long-lasting, just as they are. Soon there's just a wisp left and Gabriel seizes it, clinging on with all the determination of a drowning man clinging to a life preserver. He wraps his soul around the last fragment of it and buries it within his true self.
The pain is gone now, but the ache remains and he stays curled up and shivering on the floor at their feet.
"Ready to behave now, brother?" Michael asks, nudging Gabriel with his foot.
"You… used to be… better than this," Gabriel manages to force out through gritted teeth at his oldest brother.
Lucifer is laughing when Michael picks Gabriel up by his throat, choking the other Angel who doesn't have enough Grace to ignore the sensation and slams him against the wall.
"No, you used to be better than this. I haven't changed. You did when you turned your back on us and ran away like a coward. You're the one who ran off for thousands of years to go play a filthy, disgusting Pagan and dirtying yourself with the humans. You're no better than them; no better than demons."
Gabriel clutches weakly at Michael's hand, fingernails scrabbling uselessly against his wrist. Lucifer walks over to them and places his hand on Michael's shoulder. Michael glances at him and then lets Gabriel drop to the ground in a heap. Gabriel coughs and sputters, fingers massaging his bruising throat as he gasps to breathe again. Michael moves back to Lucifer's side and they talk quietly, whispering things Gabriel doesn't care to know. Their guards are down, thinking he's too weak to do anything worthwhile besides obey them. No one else would dare to try to attack, not with both Michael and Lucifer in the same place. No one is that stupid.
Gabriel draws out the last of his Grace and slowly follows it back up the thread to the part that his brothers took from him. He takes a deep breath, steels himself for the pain and gives an almighty yank on his end, jerking his Grace back into his vessel so quickly that Michael and Lucifer freeze for a moment. It floods him with power and, though his wings don't completely heal, his Grace flows through, they flutter and he is gone.
It isn't hard to track down Castiel. He's with the Winchesters in some rundown motel and Gabriel appears before him, falling to his knees with a gasp of pain. Sam and Dean jerk in shock, each reaching for whatever weapon is closest to them, but when they realise it's Gabriel and that he's hurt, they still and look at Castiel.
Castiel blinks and crouches down in front of the Archangel, reaching out to him.
"Gabriel? What happened?"
Gabriel flinches back violently from the touch and winces, breath coming in harsh pants. He shakes his head at Castiel, unable to speak against the pain as his Grace heals his wounds and settles into place. Finally, it subsides enough and Gabriel looks up at Castiel and whispers, "Michael and Lucifer."
Sam and Dean flinch at the names.
"Are they fighting? What's going on?" Dean asks.
Without taking his eyes off of Castiel, Gabriel answers, "No, they found me and that's so much worse."
Dean rolls his eyes at the egotistical Archangel. "Yeah, okay because them destroying the world is so much better than them finding you."
Gabriel doesn't say anything, merely cringes at Dean's harsh tone and Castiel frowns, noting his brother's odd behavior.
"Dean, why don't you and Sam go get another room, please?" Castiel asks without looking up.
Dean opens his mouth to argue, but Sam lays a hand on his shoulder and gestures to the now shaking Gabriel and Dean sighs, nodding. "Yeah, fine."
They grab their bags, thankful that they really hadn't unpacked and walk out the door, casting glances back towards the Angels. When both of the Winchesters are gone, Castiel gently pulls Gabriel to his feet, steadying the Archangel as he sways and leans heavily against Castiel. Castiel absently strokes a hand down one of Gabriel's wings in an attempt to sooth him, but Gabriel jerks from his arms, a whimper spilling from his lips, eyes wide with fear.
Castiel takes a step towards him, but he moves too fast for Gabriel who flinches and stumbles backwards, catching his hip hard against the nightstand and making the lamp wobble precariously. It crashes to the ground, light and shadow dancing across the walls, flickering together wickedly. Gabriel's eyes dart around the room, looking for an escape, but Castiel is between him and the door and there's no way out. Terror builds, rising up from his stomach, burning up his throat.
Suddenly the lamp is back on the nightstand, brightening the room once more. The shadows are burned away again, but it doesn't seem to calm Gabriel. The terror is still there, clinging to the Archangel like a second skin. Castiel takes slow, cautious steps towards Gabriel who presses himself into the farthest corner of the room and slides down, arms wrapped around his knees.
Physical contact doesn't seem to calm Gabriel and it only makes him more afraid of Castiel. So, the other Angel does the only other thing he can think of to try and help his brother. He reaches out with his Grace and brushes it against Gabriel's lightly, testing the waters. Gabriel's reaction is not what he expects. It's an intimate act, but one designed for comfort and Castiel doesn't think Gabriel will object when he so obviously needs the comfort.
The moment Castiel's Grace touches his own, Gabriel lets out a blood chilling scream and forces Castiel's Grace away from him so violently, he flings the Angel to the other side of the room. Castiel picks himself up off the floor and stares at Gabriel. No Angel has ever reacted like that to another Angel's Grace. It makes Castiel ache to know that Michael and Lucifer had done something so horrific to Gabriel that he couldn't even stand to be touched by another Angel's Grace.
Gabriel is keeping up a whispered litany, his face buried in his knees, arms and wings curling protectively around himself. Then Castiel sees what the other two Archangel's have done to Gabriel. His feathers cover them, but the binding sigils stand out as clear as day, burning with Lucifer and Michael's Grace, cut into Gabriel's wings. It's a horrible sight and Castiel moves closer, taking care not to touch Gabriel. He can hear what Gabriel is chanting and it breaks his heart.
"Please stop, don't hurt me, I'll be good, I'll listen, just please stop hurting me, please."
And it goes on like that, Gabriel repeating his pleas to his brothers for them not to hurt him, to just leave him alone. It makes Castiel sick. Angels aren't supposed to be chained down and that's exactly what Lucifer and Michael have done to Gabriel.
"Gabriel, will you look at me?" He asks softly.
Gabriel's wings shift and he falls silent. Slowly he lets his wings fade back into nothingness, out of this plane of existence. He looks up at Castiel with red-rimmed eyes and uncurls his arms and stretches out his legs.
His voice is hoarse and rough and he blinks up at Castiel, honey-hazel eyes strangely vulnerable.
"Yes, I'm here, Gabriel." Castiel sits down beside him, careful to keep his distance.
"You shouldn't be. I shouldn't have come here. They'll find you and you don't want them to find you." Gabriel shakes his head and reaches out for Castiel's hand tentatively, unsure if he really wants to touch.
Castiel lets Gabriel come to him, merely turning his palm up so Gabriel can lace their fingers together. He keeps his Grace under tight control, holding it away from Gabriel, not wanting to frighten him again. Gabriel, who is usually so warm and and bright, is cold and dull now. The spark gone from him, like a star wiped from existence.
They sit in silence and eventually Castiel coaxes Gabriel up onto one of the beds. He makes to move away from the Archangel and Gabriel whines quietly, tightening his grip on Castiel's hand. "Please stay."
The broken whisper that comes from the once so strong and sure Angel makes Castiel freeze. He turns and lays down beside his brother and doesn't say anything when Gabriel shifts closer to him, not quite touching. Gabriel sighs and closes his eyes, sleep dragging him down into the darkness. Castiel wonders just what Michael and Lucifer did to Gabriel to make him need sleep. Angels never sleep unless their Grace has been stretched to its limits and forces them to sleep.
Castiel keeps watch over Gabriel, but the other Angel doesn't even move from his original position and when the sunlight crawls through the cracks in the blinds, Castiel gets out of bed, untangling his fingers from Gabriel's and leaves quietly, going to see the Winchesters and explain to them. He knows they will have many questions, but it is not his tale to tell. He'll let Gabriel decide on that.
After telling Sam and Dean all he can and deciding that they will continue with their current lead and he will stay with Gabriel, he walks back to the other motel room. He frowns when he looks around the small room and doesn't see Gabriel. There is a light on, glowing from underneath the bathroom door and Castiel has a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Something isn't right with Gabriel. He shouldn't have left him alone.
He turns the too yellow-gold knob and slowly pushes the door open. The sight that greets him is awful. Gabriel has his wings outstretched, Angelic blade in one hand, glinting silver and deadly in the artificial light. One wing is curled around him, one of his hands clutching the end of it, pulling on it harshly. There's blood stained feathers all over the floor, blood splattered on the mirror, running down in dark red streaks that glitter brightly. The once pure white wings are dripping with red, dark and morbid against the pureness and innocence.
Each new cut and slice sprays more blood around the room and Gabriel's hands are coated in it, making the blade slip in his grip and it hacks into his wing harder and deeper than he meant it to. He pays it no mind and continues to shred away at the sigils burned into him. Castiel stares in horror as more feathers fall to the ground, no longer white, but a dark, hideous red. He finally finds his voice, throat aching around the words, "Gabriel, what are you doing?"
Gabriel pauses, head bowed, hair falling over his eyes. When he looks up, Castiel nearly takes a step away from him. There's madness swirling in those honey-hazel eyes, bright and fierce. He grins manically at his brother and says simply, "Freeing myself."
He moves to make another slice into his wing when Castiel moves, taking his blade and throwing it out into the motel room. He grabs Gabriel by the shoulders and forces him to look at him. "This is not how you do it. You're hurting yourself, Gabriel. Oh, what have they done to you?" The last part is murmured to himself as he gently runs his fingers along Gabriel's wings. Slowly, Gabriel's Grace begins to heal the cuts. It takes longer than usual because Gabriel used his sword, but after a few minutes, the task it done.
Castiel quickly cleans the room with a wave of his hand and leads Gabriel back to the bed, sitting him on it and checking over his wings. In the light of day, Gabriel doesn't flinch when Castiel's hands drift across his feathers. Satisfied that they have healed as best they can, there are scars underneath the feathers, Castiel walks back in front of Gabriel. Gabriel doesn't look at him, won't look at him. Castiel stares down at him, waiting for Gabriel to break the silence. It doesn't take long.
"I don't know, okay?" Gabriel whispers, voice rough and strained. Castiel strokes a hand along his cheek and Gabriel flinches, but doesn't move away. Castiel doesn't say anything, doesn't know what to say. He sits down beside Gabriel and lets the older Angel lean against him heavily. Time slides by in its' fluid way and, when dusk is approaching, there is a hesitant knock on the door. Castiel gently shifts Gabriel over slightly and goes to open the door.
Sam is on the other side, Dean beside him. "Is he okay?"
"No." Castiel glances back at Gabriel, who has stretched out on the bed now, staring up at the ceiling, eyes glassy and unfocused. He steps out onto the welcome mat and shuts the door behind him. He doesn't like leaving Gabriel on his own again, but he also doesn't want to speak in front of him either.
"Anything we can do?" Dean asks gruffly. He may not like the Angel very much, but something is obviously wrong if you've got both Michael and Lucifer on your ass and they're working together to get at you.
"I don't think so." Castiel says, shaking his head. He doesn't even know if he can help, but he's going to try.
Sam and Dean nod. "Well, we're gonna go back to our room, rest up for tomorrow, then we'll see what's up with Gabriel and everything else. Sound good?" Sam asks.
"Fine." Castiel nods shortly. He wants to get back to Gabriel, fingers clenching on the door knob.
The brothers take the hint and nod, heading back to their room. Castiel watches them go for a moment before walking back inside. The first thing he notices is the pile of bloody feathers on the bed beside Gabriel. He looks up at Gabriel, staring in shock at the Angel. Gabriel is rocking back and forth slightly, wings wrapped around him again, fingers twitching along his feathers, tugging them out from where they're covering the sigils and scars. He places them in the pile carefully, but his movements are mechanical, like he doesn't even realise he's doing it.
His eyes stare sightlessly at the blank TV screen and he doesn't move when Castiel calls his name. He continues to pluck the feathers from his wings, seemingly oblivious to the pain and the blood that drips in slow, small rivers down into his other feathers, staining them with various shades of red and pink and puddling on the bedspread. The memories are writhing just under the surface and they're swallowing up Gabriel's sanity and Castiel wishes he knew how to make them go away.
There is pain. There is always pain when he's with Lucifer. There was a time when being with Lucifer didn't mean being in pain, but that time was so long ago, he barely remembers it. Pain is all he knows from his older brother. There is no love, not anymore. He doesn't know why he keeps coming back. The darkness of Hell pulls harshly at his Grace, threatening to trap him here, torture him for all eternity.
He yelps when Lucifer plucks a feather from his wing, glaring when Lucifer chuckles. "I think I'll keep this, hmm?" He twirls the white feather between his fingers thoughtfully. Gabriel doesn't say anything. He never gets to see Lucifer's wings anymore. The Morningstar keeps them hidden in the darkness of Hell, letting it blot out his light. Gabriel wishes things were different. He wishes he had never come here. After all, he ran away from Heaven before Lucifer even Fell, so why come down here when his brother is locked in a cage?
This isn't the first time he's been down to Hell to see Lucifer either. The first time Lucifer raged at him, hurt him in more ways than one, physically, mentally, emotionally. Any way he could think of. Gabriel didn't come back for a long time after that, too many memories of blood and sacrifice and punishment. Eventually he finds his way back because he can't stay away, can't harden his heart against his brother. He wonders if Michael knows he does this, but he must not or else he would have already dragged Gabriel back to Heaven.
Lucifer never lets his emotions get the better of him after that. He is cold, detached, uncaring and cruel. Gabriel will never understand his desperate need to keep coming back for more pain, to keep torturing himself and letting Lucifer do the same. Maybe he's trying to redeem himself for leaving Lucifer when he needed him most. He was a coward and now, well, he is still a coward, but he's trying to make up for it.
It burns, being here. Angels aren't meant to go to Hell. He wonders how it feels to Lucifer, wonders if it burns him too, a cold aching burn that lingers for days afterwards. It feeds off his Grace, slowly drawing it away from him, though sometimes he suspects it is Lucifer more than Hell itself doing that to him. Either way, he never says anything about it and bears the aching cold in silence.
Sometimes he can go years and years without visiting Lucifer, but eventually he'll go back and Lucifer knows this. Knows Gabriel won't abandon him because Gabriel loves him, needs him too much and Lucifer is all too happy to take advantage of him. Gabriel wonders if he could Fall for this, for going to Hell over and over again and letting Lucifer manipulate him and use him. He's sure that if his Father wanted to find him, he could despite all of Gabriel's protection and hiding and running. It doesn't seem to matter one way or another and so Gabriel rejects that thought. If he hasn't Fallen by now, he won't, not for this at least.
His wings seem to fascinate Lucifer. His brother drags his fingers through the feathers, sometimes gently, most of the time roughly. Every time he comes down here, Lucifer always pulls a feather from him, sometimes a handful. It hurts, Lucifer isn't gentle about it, but Gabriel never protests, never refuses his brother. Not that Lucifer asks for them. No, he just reaches out and takes what he wants with his sense of entitlement that always annoyed Michael. Gabriel sees that same sense in Michael, but he never mentions it. No need to add fuel to this fire.
There are hands on his wings, a Grace pushing at his to heal himself, but he isn't afraid of this Angel. This Angel won't hurt him. Not like his older brothers. This is Castiel, only Cas. Sweet, blue eyed, innocent Castiel. Gabriel wonders if Castiel will ever forgive him for dragging him into this. This isn't his problem and he has enough to deal with with the Winchesters. Gabriel should be strong enough to handle this on his own without breaking into a thousand pieces and running back to his younger brother to help fix him.
Castiel nudges Gabriel's Grace to heal him. Gabriel had been holding it back, whether on purpose or not, Castiel doesn't really want to know. It was probably subconsciously though, because Gabriel looked completely unaware of what he was doing to himself while he drowned in his memories. Castiel watches the feathers regrow and cleans Gabriel's hands, clothes, and the bedspread with a thought. He picks up the pile of blood spattered feathers and looks at them for a moment. His first instinct is to get rid of them, but something stops him and he puts them in one of his many trench coat pockets, slightly disgusted with himself for doing so, but unable to help it.
"Gabriel? Are you okay?" Castiel asks, even though he can plainly see that Gabriel is not alright, but it's the only thing he can think of to say.
Gabriel doesn't answer for a long moment and, when he does, it's to laugh bitterly. "No."
Castiel flinches at the laugh. It's a cruel mockery of Gabriel's usual bright, happy laughter. Castiel reaches out for the other Angel, wishing he could fix him, wishing he didn't have to. Gabriel sighs and looks up at Castiel. "I'm sorry. You don't need to deal with me on top of the Winchesters. Thanks though, for trying." Before Castiel can reach out and stop him, knowing, fearing what he was going to do, Gabriel is gone with a quiet flutter of wings.
Castiel stares at the edge of the bed where Gabriel had been sitting and he feels like screaming in frustration. Gabriel clearly isn't ready to be on his own, knows he needs Castiel, and still he leaves. Castiel almost follows him, but he knows that would not end well, so he stays and goes to Sam and Dean and pretends nothing is wrong and doesn't answer their questions about Gabriel.
Gabriel keeps flying until his wings are begging him to stop, still aching and not quite fully healed yet. He isn't sure where he is, but as long as he's away from Castiel, it doesn't matter. He lands on his knees in the snow, his pants getting soaked instantly. He doesn't care. The cold wind bites into him like a razor blade, but he doesn't feel it. He misses the warmth of Castiel's presence, misses his concern, misses him. He can't do this to Castiel though. Of all the Angels, Castiel deserves a chance to be happy.
He digs his hands into the snow, shoving them so far down, he can feel the frozen ground beneath. He rakes his fingernails across the hard ground, wincing as they tear and break, leaving him with bloody shreds of fingertips. He pulls his hands up and stares at them, letting the blood drip onto the snow. The blood seeps down into the snow, leaving a trail of red in its' wake.
As he watches the blood stain the snow, he thinks it is a fitting metaphor for what he would do to Castiel if he had stayed. He would stain that innocence and purity with his darkness and tainted soul. He's not worthy to have Castiel in his life. Not worthy for anything really. Not even worthy to be an Archangel because Archangels' are supposed to be better than this. They're not cowards who have to run and hide because their family is fighting. They don't have to pretend to be something they're not. Hell, he's no better than a demon.
Suddenly there is a wrenching, burning pain in his wings and his Grace. The sigils shine brightly and then he disappears, leaving only the blood as a reminder that he was there at all. Gabriel appears before Lucifer and Michael in a flash of bright light, looking shocked. Michael smirks at him and stalks forward, pushing Gabriel to his knees. "You know the rules, brother, always on your knees."
Lucifer laughs at the anger in Gabriel's eyes. "I wouldn't challenge Michael, Gabriel. Look who's come to join the fun." He moves to the side, revealing Castiel, bound and gagged, on his knees behind Lucifer.
"This is why we didn't bring you back after your daring escape. We wanted to know just where you'd thought you go to. So we watched and we waited and you led us right to him." Michael grips Gabriel's chin tightly as Lucifer cards his fingers through Castiel's black hair.
"He's so pretty, isn't he?" Lucifer asks, mocking smile on his lips. "Almost as pretty as you, Gabriel."
Gabriel finally snaps out his shock and shoves Michael's hands away from him, rising to his feet. "Don't you dare touch him, you sorry son of a bitch." He makes to move towards Castiel, but Michael is faster, pinning him against the wall.
"You'll want to watch your mouth around us, brother." Michael growls, breath hot against Gabriel's ear.
Lucifer moves behind Castiel, drawing his blade and Gabriel struggles against Michael furiously, desperately, knowing what Lucifer is about to do. Sure enough, he reaches down and pets Castiel's wings gently and then, with all the precision of a striking snake, Lucifer makes a neat slice in Castiel's left wing.
Castiel's scream is muffled behind the gag, but it still feels like a punch to Gabriel's stomach. He strains against Michael's hands holding him to the wall, desperate to get to Castiel. "Stop it." Michael pushes him more firmly against the wall, glaring at him.
"You can't do this to him. Not him. Let him go." Gabriel says, pleading with Michael, trying to reach the caring, loving older brother he knows is still in there, somewhere, beneath Lucifer's dark influence.
"Gabriel, you forget. We can do whatever we want to anybody we wish. Makes no difference what you want." Lucifer smiles at him, a vicious curl of his lips. He pulls Castiel up by his arm and shoves him towards Gabriel and Michael.
Michael steps away and Gabriel practically runs to Castiel, pulling off the tape from his mouth and untying the rope from his wrists. Both the tape and rope pulse with Michael and Lucifer's combined Grace and it makes Gabriel recoil a bit, but he manages to ignore it and runs his fingers through Castiel's feathers, watching the wound close.
He folds Castiel into his arms and wraps his wings around them, blocking out their brothers for a moment. He presses his lips to Castiel's forehead and whispers, "I'm so sorry." before Lucifer is jerking at his wing and making him open them again.
"No private sessions without us, brother." Michael smirks at them.
Lucifer reaches out to Castiel and Gabriel shifts the other Angel behind him, spreading his wings protectively in front of Castiel.
"Oh, look how sweet that is, Michael. He's trying to protect him." Lucifer sneers at Gabriel who glares right back.
Michael laughs and then both of them are on either side of Gabriel, hands fisting in his wings, pulling him away from Castiel. Lucifer lets go of Gabriel to grab Castiel and pull him in front of Gabriel and Michael. Gabriel bites at his bottom lip so hard, he tastes blood, trying to hold in the screams of pain. Michael pins him to the wall again, forcing Gabriel to spread his wings to avoid causing them further damage.
Lucifer presses his blade into Castiel's hand, wrapping his fingers around it. "You know what to do, Castiel. Right through his wing."
Castiel tries to drop the blade, but Lucifer keeps a firm grip on his hand, nearly crushing the bones. "No! I won't."
"Well, either you do this or Michael kills him. Your choice." Lucifer purrs into his ear.
Another Angelic blade appears in Michael's hand, pressing against Gabriel's throat. Castiel nearly sobs, he can't do this to Gabriel, but he can't let him die either. Lucifer forces him forward to Gabriel and this time, Castiel does sob, tears falling down his face. Gabriel smiles tightly at him, blood dripping down his chin from his lip. "Just do it."
Michael watches Castiel closely, eyes narrowed and unreadable. "Are you going to stand there or are you going to get on with it?"
Castiel contemplates just shoving the blade into Lucifer, but he knows that Michael will kill him before he can do anything else and then Gabriel will be left alone to deal with Michael's rage and Castiel won't do that to Gabriel. His fingers close around the handle, feeling horrified with himself that he's actually going to do this, but he doesn't see a way out of it.
He closes his eyes and shoves the blade into Gabriel's wing, pinning Gabriel to the wall like some sort of broken, twisted butterfly. Gabriel doesn't scream, doesn't make a sound and Castiel opens his eyes, desperate to see that Gabriel is still alive.
Gabriel has his head bowed and his eyes are closed. He's not even breathing, but he's still alive. Castiel can feel his Grace, throbbing in pain and agony. Castiel wants to reach out and heal the wound he's made, but Michael is there, pulling him away from Gabriel and Castiel is really too stunned by what he's done to fight back.
"Very good, Castiel." Lucifer smirks, stepping close to Gabriel and inspecting the blade buried in Gabriel's wing.
Castiel feels sick, horrified and desperate to take Gabriel and get out of there, away from Michael and Lucifer. He's realises that, despite whatever the Archangels say, they don't intend to leave him and Gabriel alive after this. They're going to torture them and then they will kill them because they can. The epiphany, instead of sapping all of Castiel's willpower, makes him all the more determined to get out of there.
"He looks so pretty, all splayed out like that, doesn't he?" Michael purrs into Castiel's ear, making him flinch away from the too satisfied voice.
Lucifer flashes them a wicked grin, teeth bared like fangs in a mockery of a smile. "He does, doesn't he? I quite like him like this. Unable to run, unable to leave. At our mercy."
"Not that he deserves any mercy. No, I don't think he does." Michael strokes a hand down Castiel's side, pressing flush against his back.
Castiel shudders and tries to pull away, but Michael holds him tightly, preventing him from moving. "You're sick."
"I'm sick? No, no, no, Castiel. I'm not sick as all. I'm finally seeing the both of you for the first time. How pathetic you both are, siding with the humans and running away from Heaven and your true Family. You deserve the punishment you'll get and then you'll thank us for it. We're here to remind you what it's like to be an Angel." Michael growls out, fingers painfully tight, digging into Castiel's ribs.
Lucifer has taken Gabriel's jaw roughly in hand and stares into his brother's whiskey amber eyes that are hazed over with pain. He's barely aware of anything outside the pain that wraps around his very Grace so completely that he can feel nothing else.
Lucifer caresses Gabriel's cheek. "My precious baby brother. You showed such potential. I taught you everything you know and yet you still ran away like a coward. You should have stood and fought with me. Even if you didn't stand with me, you should have been brave enough to choose a side and stand for it, not run away."
Gabriel whimpers and tries to fight his way through the haze of pain. Something is telling him that he need to be aware, needs to get out of the position he's in, needs to save someone, keep them safe. He can't remember what or who. Pain pulses fierce, sharp, and steady. It is the worst in his wings, bright and aching, the blades firmly in place.
He hangs against the wall, nothing but the blades and Lucifer's hand on his chin holding him up. There's no will left to fight in him. He can't win. He never could, not against his older brothers. He has no chance of escaping. He never did. Not even when he left because he kept coming back to them over and over again. He is weak. He is pathetic. He always has been and he always will be.
Michael's lips curl into a smirk against the skin of Castiel's neck as he buries his face against Castiel's neck. He licks at the warm skin and Castiel twitches. Michael laughs, a dark chuckle. Castiel strains away from him, but Michael merely tightens his grip. Castiel winces, but refuses to make a sound. His eyes are fixed on Lucifer and Gabriel. He wants to look away, but he can't.
Lucifer drags his fingers through the soft feathers on the underside of Gabriel's wings, teasing the ones closest to the blade. Gabriel whines softly, eyes sliding shut, shivering in pain. "Do you want me to stop touching you, Gabriel?" Lucifer asks, a soft purr in his voice.
Gabriel opens his eyes, unbelieving that Lucifer and Michael would let him go so easily if he just said yes. His eyes slide past Lucifer and lock onto Castiel's desperate gaze. Some of the pain fades into the background of his mind and he remembers what he's fighting for, who he's fighting for. He remembers who needs him to be strong and finally take a stand.
He reaches up weakly and wraps his fingers around the handle of the blade in his right wing and pulls it out with a sharp jerk and cry of pain. Lucifer watches him with something like amusement in his eyes. Gabriel keeps his eyes fixed on Castiel and pulls out the other blade, dropping it on the ground and falling to his knees. Blood and Grace pour from the holes in both wings and he can't do anything about that right now.
Lucifer steps out of his way as he struggles to his feet and staggers towards Castiel. Michael cocks his head and pushes Castiel into Gabriel. Gabriel barely manages to catch him and then they're both falling to the ground, Castiel's arms wrapping protectively around Gabriel, wings curling around them both.
He feels someone's hand stroke along the top edge of his wing, but he ignores it in favor of trying to heal the Archangel in his arms. A sudden jerk on his wing has Castiel up on his feet and away from Gabriel again.
"Ah, ah, brother. You can't heal him just yet. Maybe we'll let you do so later." Lucifer scolds him, hand still on Castiel's wing.
Castiel sneers at him and twines his Grace around Gabriel's wounds. He heals them as much as he can before Michael's Grace forces his away from Gabriel. Castiel draws his Grace back to him, avoiding Michael's as much as he can. He doesn't want to touch Michael's Grace. It feels wrong, tainted with hatred and dark intentions. It isn't as bad as Lucifer's whose Grace still carries the taint of Hell, dark and twisted, but it's still not as pure as it should be.
"Such a peculiar thing you are, Castiel." Lucifer says, looking him up and down.
"He is." Michael nods, circling the Angel, ignoring Gabriel for the moment, who's still in a heap at their feet.
Castiel says nothing, but shifts so he's in between Gabriel and Michael and Lucifer.
"Why are you so willing to die for him, Castiel? Why lay down your life for a coward? Someone who runs when things get a bit too rough for his liking?" Lucifer asks curiously, cocking his head at the youngest Angel.
"You could leave, Castiel. We'd let you leave. We really only want him. He's the one that needs to be taught the real lesson here. You've made mistakes, but you can be dealt with later and not as harshly. He needs to understand that he isn't allowed to get away with everything he's done." Michael explains calmly, as if making small talk with Castiel.
"You won't hurt him anymore." Castiel snarls, Grace drawn tight against him, ready to attack should the need arise. He just needs an opening to take Gabriel and get out of this place.
"You think you can stop us? We're Archangels, Castiel. You're just a lowly little warrior, hardly worth the honor of saving the Righteous Man." Michael sneers.
Lucifer smiles sharply at him. "Gabriel has always belong to us, Castiel, and there's really nothing you can do about that."
"He's not yours and we're not going to take this anymore." Castiel whirls around and grabs Gabriel, grasping his arm tightly, With a flap of his wings, they're gone.
Lucifer arches an eyebrow. "Does he think we can't find them?"
"Foolish little Angel." Michael shakes his head.
Gabriel and Castiel land in a heap together on the Winchesters' current motel bed. Dean lunges for the closest weapon before recognizing Castiel and slowly leaning back in his chair. Sam puts the hand gun back on the table and glances at Dean.
"Well, what happened?" Dean asks, looking over the Angels.
"Michael and Lucifer happened and I fear they may be following us. They seek to have Gabriel back for them to torture and play with." Castiel says, not really paying attention to the humans in the room. He gently turns Gabriel over onto his back and finishes the healing of his wings.
"You led Michael and Lucifer to us?" Dean snaps.
"I had no choice, Dean. It was either escape or let Gabriel die." Castiel snaps back at him.
Dean grumbles, but sinks back into his chair, eying the injured Archangel with cold eyes. Sam leans over to the bed to get a better look at what Castiel is doing.
"What are you doing, Cas?" Sam asks with a frown.
"Healing his wings." Castiel says shortly, fully concentrated on his work.
"His wings are injured?" Dean leans forward in his chair, bracing his elbows on his knees.
Castiel shoots him an irritated look and doesn't bother answering. He continues pushing his Grace into the wounds in Gabriel's wings, wounds he caused, and healing them. It takes longer for the wounds to close up since they were caused by an Angelic blade, but Castiel is patient. He can and will do this. It will kind of make up for what he's done, even if he didn't want to harm Gabriel.
Gabriel whines and twists beneath him, arching in pain before collapsing in exhaustion as the wounds finally close and are healed. He pants, sweat dripping down his face, eyes squeezed shut, fists clenched in the comforter on the bed. Castiel whispers softly to him, soothing words to low for the Winchesters to hear and pushes Gabriel's damp hair off of his forehead.
"Is he going to be okay?" Sam asks, biting his lip and leaning closer to Gabriel, frowning down at him in concern.
"I hope so." Castiel murmurs sadly, pressing two fingers to Gabriel's forehead and sending him into unconsciousness. It's too easy for Castiel to be able to do this, but Gabriel isn't up to his full power right now and he goes under without a fight.
"What are we going to do?" Sam looks up from Gabriel to Castiel.
"We can't do anything for now. We have to wait for Gabriel to completely heal." Castiel sits back against the headboard, looking tired and weak himself. He's used a lot of Grace today and healing another Angel takes a lot of energy and Grace.
"Are Michael and Lucifer still after you and him?" Dean jerks his head at Gabriel.
"Most likely. I have warded this place as well as I can, so we will be safe for a little while." Castiel seems to sag back into the headboard.
"What do they want?" Dean asks, glaring slightly at Castiel.
"Gabriel." Castiel says simply.
"But why?" Sam interjects.
"Because they feel he has betrayed them." Castiel says, but does not elaborate.
Suddenly, before either of the Winchester brothers can say anything more, Gabriel sits up with a jerk. He looks around the room wildly and shifts away from Castiel when the other Angel reaches out for him.
"Why?" Gabriel asks, looking at Castiel.
"Why what, Gabriel?" Castiel asks, confusion coloring his voice.
"Why didn't you escape and leave me with them so you could be free?" Gabriel whispers hoarsely.
"How can you even ask me that?" Castiel snaps fiercely, blue eyes boring into Gabriel's amber ones.
"Because I deserve what I get! You don't." Gabriel glares and for the first time, Castiel truly realises how much the other Angel hates himself for leaving his family when they needed him most.
"You don't deserve anything they were going to do to you, Gabriel. They're not the same brothers we once knew, not even you know them anymore. They're broken, hateful creatures and you don't need to blame yourself for that. Please, Gabriel." Castiel begs the Archangel.
Gabriel stares at him. "You will never be safe. They will keep hunting you until the end of time and even then, they will not stop. They will kill everyone and everything in their way to get to you. Even them." He points to Sam and Dean, who flinch, but stay silent, wanting Gabriel to continue.
"They will torture you and then they will play with you for centuries until they grow bored of you and finally kill you, but death won't be the blessing it might have been at one time." Gabriel wraps his arms around himself and digs his nails into his upper arms.
"I don't care, Gabriel. We need to get you away from them." Castiel says desperately.
"No. It doesn't matter how far or fast we run. They'll never stop hunting us and I'm tired of running. Don't follow me." Gabriel presses a soft kiss to Castiel's forehead.
"You were always the best of us, Castiel. Remember that." With a snap and sad smile, Gabriel is gone.
Castiel stares at the spot where the Archangel had been in disbelief. He reaches out with his Grace to find Gabriel and is horrified when he can't feel him.
"He's gone back to them." Castiel whispers brokenly.
"We have to stop him!" Sam declares.
"How are we going to do that, Sammy? Do you really want to get in the way of three Archangels?" Dean pulls out a bottle of whiskey and takes a swig.
"We can't just let him hand himself over to people who want to kill him." Sam protests.
"Dean is right, Sam. There is nothing for us to do now." Castiel says flatly. He looks even more tired and worn down.
Sam looks like he wants to continue arguing, but one look at Castiel and he sits back down next to Dean and accepts the bottle when Dean hands it to him.
"We knew you'd come back to us, Gabriel." Lucifer strokes a hand through Gabriel's hair as he kneels at their feet.
"Such a rebellious but weak brother." Michael shakes his head.
Gabriel says nothing and keeps his eyes on the ground in front of him. He's here because he has to be. He's here for Castiel, to protect him. He can't let his brothers taint Castiel and, if his plan works, Castiel won't have to worry about them ever again.
"Come now, brother. We aren't going to hurt you...much." Lucifer smirks coldly down at Gabriel.
"Just enough to teach you a lesson and cleanse you once more." Michael agrees, pacing around Gabriel's kneeling form.
Gabriel forces himself not to move when he feels Michael's hands on his wings, stroking and smoothing down the feathers over the Grace scars along the edges. He tenses slightly, but then relaxes. Everything will be okay in the end.
At Lucifer's quiet coaxing, he spreads his wings and allows them to trail their fingers trough the soft feathers. Gabriel resists the urge to shudder and fold his wings close to his body. He keeps them stretched out for as long as Michael and Lucifer want, concentrating as hard as he can on what keeps him going. Castiel.
Castiel is the only thing that matters right now. He's the only thing that will ever matter to Gabriel at this time in Gabriel's very long life. Everything he does from here on out will be for Castiel.
He gathers his Grace as close around him as he can without Michael and Lucifer noticing, distracted as they are with the Grace scars on his wings. He can feel their Grace pulsing in the scars, but he ignores it in favor of putting his plan into action.
The explosion of Grace and Holy Fire slams into Michael and Lucifer, engulfing them in seconds. They scream and claw desperately at their skin as the Flames keep them trapped in their vessels. It burns them from the inside out, searing their Grace.
Gabriel smiles through the pain and knows that he has done the right thing. He lets the Fire burn through his Grace, extinguishing it.
His last thought is of Castiel.
Castiel doubles over in pain, Grace burning brightly around him. So bright Sam and Dean have to close their eyes and turn away from him. He keens in pain, high pitched and nearly unbearable for the humans in the room, but then just like that, the light fades and he's silent.
"Cas?" Dean asks cautiously.
"He's dead." Castiel says flatly, still on his knees on the floor.
"Who's dead?" Dean reaches out and lightly touches Castiel's shoulder.
Castiel flinches away from Dean's touch. "Gabriel."
"How do you know?" Sam asks, frowning.
"Dude, did you not see the light show? I think that's how he knows." Dean snaps.
Sam shoots him a look, but then turns back to Castiel.
"Dean is right. Every Angel felt the death of Gabriel, Michael, and Lucifer." Castiel says blankly, getting up from the floor.
"Michael and Lucifer are dead too?" Sam repeats.
"Yes." Castiel gives a short nod.
"How?" Dean asks, looking slightly relieved.
"Gabriel killed them with Holy Fire and it burned him out too." Castiel explains.
"Holy Fire?" Dean and Sam chorus.
"The most powerful defense an Angel has. It burns through anything and everything, including Grace." Castiel stands.
"Whoa." Dean says softly.
"If you are done with your questions, I am leaving." Castiel doesn't bother waiting for them to answer before disappearing, leaving the Winchesters staring at the spot he was standing.
Castiel flies fast and hard until he collapses on a snowy mountain top, unable to fly any longer. He sinks down into the freezing snow and unleashes all the pain and angry he's felt since Gabriel's death. Gabriel didn't deserve to go out like that, didn't deserve the torment of his older brothers. He should be there, with Castiel, teasing him over something human that Castiel doesn't quite understand. He should be there with the Winchesters, helping them prevent the Apocalypse. He should be alive.
Well, I'm not, so quite moping. A voice rings through Castiel's mind, making him jerk up out of the snow and look around.
"Gabriel?" He asks out loud.
Yeah, it's me, Cas. The voice says again. This time it's accompanied by a faint, fuzzy image of Gabriel standing in front of him, smiling gently.
"Are you alive?" Castiel whispers, the wind snatching his words away as soon as they're out of his mouth.
What did I just say? No, I'm not alive, at least not in the traditional sense. I think I'm in Limbo. Anyway, I haven't got much time, but I wanted to say you did good Castiel. You'll continue to do good, here on Earth, and in Heaven. Our family needs you, okay? Gabriel's expression turns serious.
"I understand. I promise you I'll do my best." Castiel says somberly.
I know you will. Remember, Cas, I'm always here if you need me. Gabriel smiles at him one last time and disappears in the wind.
"I know, Gabriel. I know. Thank you." Castiel turns his face up to the sky and feels the cold kiss of the snowflakes upon his cheeks.
Time goes on. Castiel and the Winchesters stop the Apocalypse and everything seems as normal as it ever gets for them. Castiel spends his free time trying to find out everything he can about Limbo and seeing if there's any way for him to bring back Gabriel.
Bobby and Sam help him out on the research and Dean helps out on the various spells and rituals he performs that ultimately fail in the end. He never stops looking for Gabriel.
Sometimes Gabriel comes to him in dreams and tries to make him understand that he can't be freed from Limbo, at least not by Castiel, but Castiel refuses to believe that he can't bring his brother back and continues on with his self appointed quest.
At the end of the most recent ritual, this one without Dean, Castiel pours the last bit of his blood and Grace into the goblet and splashes it on the Enochian Sigils painted on the wall in his blood and there is a blinding light that even he has to turn away from.
Then Gabriel is standing before him, looking shocked. "You brought me back?"
Castiel stares at him then hesitantly reaches out and touches Gabriel's hand. It's solid and warm and Castiel pulls Gabriel to him and wraps his arms around him. "I did bring you back."
Their Graces twine together tightly, weaving in and out of each other, never wanting to be apart again.