Written for the SabrielHolidays Exchange over on LJ.
Disclaimer: I own nothing (more's the pity!).
High-school partial AU, No spoilers beyond basic Winchester family knowledge and who Gabriel is.
Sam couldn't believe his luck – for the first time he could remember he actually wasn't going to have to change schools at the end of the term.
He'd been dreading it since September; more so than usual since it was his senior year and moving always made things so much more difficult.
At Sam's (admittedly rather pathetically pleading) request Dean had spoken to their father, and somehow actually gotten him to agree to Sam staying put whilst they went on their next few hunts. He owed his brother because there was no way that had been an easy or pleasant conversation.
The elder Winchesters would be leaving first thing in the morning since there was no need for them to hang around until school let out for the Christmas holidays now. They'd both given Sam their own version of the 'be careful and don't get stupid or dead' talk, and Dean had accompanied his with the handing over of a large wad of cash which should last a couple of months at least if he was careful and budgeted.
-"From hustling pool…I know you won't waste it Sammy, but just try and have some fun occasionally, 'kay dude?" -
Not that he couldn't jump a bus to the next town over and make a little more easily enough if he had to. Dean might be over-protective but he'd made sure that Sam could look after himself if he had to. The youngest Winchester was tall enough now that he usually managed to avoid getting carded despite his youth, and more than capable of both hustling a little pool and – thanks to his Dad's training – dealing with the kind of trouble such activities could attract if people realised what you were up to.
He wondered if they would get back in time for Christmas – now only three weeks away – but dismissed the thought quickly. If they didn't Dean would be sure to at least call, and it wasn't as if they really made a big deal over Christmas anyway…
Gabriel was having, to put it plainly, a totally completely and utterly rotten week. Or month. Or even year.
Yep, he should probably just call it 'the year my life went to hell' and be done with it.
It had all started when Luc had decided he didn't want to follow in Daddy's footsteps, and teenage rebellion had quickly spiralled out of control to culminate in scandal, arson, gang-warfare and a murder trial.
Gabriel's own attempt to stop his brother before it had gone too far had succeeded only in placing him in the worst place possible at the worst moment imaginable, turning him into a key witness against his own brother for the police.
On one side he had Michael encouraging him to give evidence, to testify in court. Telling him that he would protect him, the police would protect him…
On the other there was the gang Luc had fallen in with. There were the little notes in the mail that hinted at corruption in the police and made him feel like he couldn't possibly be kept safe…
He hadn't known what to do for the best, who to trust, and so he'd run.
He'd left a small note of apology to Michael, emptied out his savings account, packed a bag and disappeared in the night.
Which left him alone.
A new town, a new school for senior year (faking records to get enrolled had been laughably easy!)…oh yeah, this was going to seriously suck.
Sam debated what to have for dinner.
He had enough groceries to throw together a basic meal, or he could splash out and get take-out for a change…
The trouble was neither of those options felt particularly Christmassy.
Dean had called earlier to wish him a Merry Christmas, and he'd even gotten their father to speak to Sam briefly, but neither man had made it back to town to spend the holiday with the youngest Winchester.
Which left Sam alone for Christmas.
Not that he minded really, of course – they'd never exactly been traditional about keeping the holidays after all – but being on his own was new, and whilst he hadn't minded while school was in, he found it bothered him now.
It left him far too much time to think…to wonder what if.
What if things had been different?
What if yellow eyes had found some other family to destroy?
What if Sam and Dean had grown up with a mom and a dad?
What would they be doing for Christmas then?
Reining in his straying thoughts, Sam decided that perhaps it would be a good idea to take a walk, maybe see if the local diner was still open and serving.
At least then he wouldn't be sat around with only his overly maudlin thoughts for company.
The sight that greeted him when he opened the motel door stopped him dead.
Wasn't that the new kid?
And what the hell had happened to him?
Was that blood?
A quick pause to check the lot for danger, and Sam was dashing over to the prone figure outside the room next door before he'd even consciously made the decision to move.
It was funny really.
Gabriel had sort of known that sooner or later his mouth was going to be responsible for getting the shit kicked out of him.
He'd just always assumed that it would be the result of some smart-ass comment…a quick wit was one thing when you were the size of the sasquatch at school – not that said sasquatch had one (that Gabriel had seen at any rate, he probably wouldn't say boo to a goose) – but when you were Gabriel's far slighter build and slightly below-average height, it was a risky quality at best.
Not that that had ever shut him up, but that was besides that point.
The point being of course, that it wasn't a poorly directed witticism that had caused his current, rather pathetic, state.
Glancing to the figure led beside him, Gabriel decided that the split lip, possible concussion, and couple of bruised-at-the-very-least ribs were worth it.
He rather wished he hadn't managed to lose his room key in the scuffle, especially seeing as it was Christmas Day and the manager had shut the office up early, but he was sure he'd be able to jimmy the lock as soon as the world stopped spinning whenever he stood, so it wasn't really his biggest problem at present.
No, that would be where the heck he was going to find a vet working Christmas to look at the sorry-looking creature he'd rescued.
Gabriel was walking home from the diner when he heard jeering from the alley up ahead.
Recognising one of the voices from school his curiosity got the better of him – what were Zach and his cronies doing in this neighbourhood? They usually stayed well away from the poorer parts of town, preferring the company of their own kind – a.k.a. prissy, stuck-up, well-to-do holier-than-thou pricks.
He edged quietly closer to the alley, and peered slowly around the corner.
The boys were standing in a circle, clearly surrounding something…
Gabriel winced as one of the boys let loose with a vicious kick, gritting his teeth at the pained whine that followed.
The low-down, no-good, scum-sucking…!
As another boy – AJ was it? – shifted slightly to deliver another blow, Gabriel got a glance at the target.
A small dog, perhaps no more than a puppy judging by the size of it, cowered before the thugs.
Before he'd even had chance to think it through, Gabriel was in the alley and grabbing onto the nearest boy's jacket to swing him around.
"What the hell do you think you're doing asswipe? Does it make you feel big and strong, beating on something defenceless? One day someone'll give you shits a taste of your own medicine, and I hope to God I'm there to see it!"
Even as he spoke, Gabriel realised he was in trouble.
He'd quite neatly manoeuvred himself into the centre of the circle in his attempt to shield the dog, and the boys were now towering menacingly over both of them.
Well, if he was going down, he was going down swinging at least he thought as he drew back his fist and punched out desperately at the nearest target.
Even as he knelt Sam was reaching into his pocket for the cell his brother had given him when they left…
…only to come up empty.
*Shit!* he thought as he leaned over and sighed in relief at the pulse he quickly located. He must've left it in his room.
*Careless Sammy!* Dean's voice piped up in his head.
Ignoring it, Sam figured he'd assess the damage before deciding whether he needed to go get the phone and ring for an ambulance or whether he could handle it himself.
The new kid – Gabriel, his mind supplied – was covered from the waist up in blood which, on closer inspection, appeared to have come mostly from a potentially broken nose and a gash on his upper arm.
He reached out to lift the arm out of the way, intent on checking his class-mate's torso for injuries, and jumped when the other boy's whole body tensed and curled in on itself with a pained protest.
*Not totally unconscious then,* he mused as he leaned back slightly to give Gabriel some space.
"Gabriel?" he called softly, "It's Gabriel, right? I need to look at you, to find out if you need an ambulance…unless you'd rather I just called one now of course?"
The last part was added hurriedly as Gabriel protested quietly to the first statement.
If he'd rather be seen by a professional that was his business – he had no way of knowing that Sam knew what he was doing after all. He didn't know that Dean had drilled Sam time and again in both general and advanced first aid techniques, being far more thorough than even their Dad had thought necessary.
He leaned in a little closer to hear what Gabriel was saying.
"No ambulance…Michael'll go nuts if he finds out…don't need an ambulance. Need a vet, and my room key, and a freaking huge helping of chocolate cake, if you really want to help Sasquatch."
Sam was relieved to hear that. Although quiet and weary sounding, the words held a trace of the humour that Sam had seen in school and more importantly were not slurred in the least – a serious head injury was far less likely than it had first appeared, at least.
A vet though? Why would he need a…?
The question cut off mid-thought as Sam realised that the pained whimper he'd been hearing before hadn't actually been coming from the boy.
And that he wasn't just huddling in on himself.
A small head poked out between Gabriel's hands at that moment, as if the previously unnoticed puppy had sensed the opportunity for some positive attention.
Deciding that the motel parking lot was hardly the best place to hang around, and that Gabriel was probably safe to move since he'd gotten himself this far unaided – he hadn't been attacked here after all, had he? – Sam spoke again.
"I don't know where your key is Gabe, and I'll have to check the phone book in my room if the little guy needs a vet, so how about we get you two in there out of the cold, and see about cleaning you both up a bit?"
As he spoke he reached down and gently took hold of Gabriel's uninjured arm, being careful not to jostle either the boy or his apparently also injured furry companion.
He was relieved when Gabriel didn't flinch away this time, but instead reached out to help lever himself up from the ground.
The smaller boy didn't once uncurl the arm that protectively cradled the small Jack Russell puppy.
He must've fallen asleep, Gabriel realised as he opened his eyes slowly and the world swam gently into focus.
The lack of an overwhelming smell of anti-septic reassured him the Sam had kept his promise not to call an ambulance. Maybe it wasn't the smartest move, but if Michael got word of where he was, he'd drag Gabriel home and lock him up to keep him safe from Luc's old contacts and himself all in one fell swoop.
He'd make him testify.
So until he could fake up some more records there would be no hospital visits.
He wanted to kick himself for being stupid enough not to have planned ahead in case something like this happened, but he figured he'd hardly notice another kick amongst all the bruises he currently bore.
Thinking about it, he realised he ached rather less than he'd been expecting, but he wasn't going to complain if Sam had taken it upon himself to provide pain relief.
Speaking of the apparently-gentle giant, Gabriel wondered where he'd disappeared to.
An aborted attempt at sitting reminded him that maybe he shouldn't move after all, and he settled for craning his neck to look around the small room.
It seemed he wasn't the only kid at school living alone in a ratty motel.
He let his head fall back to the pillow and wondered what Sam's story was.
Far less incredible than his own, no doubt.
His musings were cut off by the sound of the door opening, and Gabriel tilted his head again just in time to see his saviour's lumbering frame move inside before closing the door softly.
On noticing his guest was awake, Sam smiled faintly before speaking.
"How're you feeling?"
"Far better than I ought considering I don't remember taking anything before I passed out…" he replied, quirking an eyebrow in question before wincing as it pulled at…what felt like stitches?
The kid had stitched him up? Maybe he was more interesting than he looked after all…
"Intravenous pain meds and antibiotics. My Dad's ex-military and he and my brother both have medical training – they make sure I'm never without a well-stocked first aid kit. I uh...I tried to ask about allergies, but you were damn near delirious with the pain by the time I got you inside. I took a chance…"
Gabriel noticed the way Sam glanced away as he gave the explanation, and didn't miss the fact that he wasn't claiming either family member to be actual, licensed medical professionals, but decided to give the kid the benefit of the doubt. He'd helped without being asked, and he hadn't palmed Gabriel off on a hospital to be shipped back to his brother, so if he wanted to be a bit less than forthcoming over some things, he was entitled.
"Well thanks kiddo – I appreciate it."
Before Gabriel could continue, Sam spoke again.
"I took your dog to the vet – he's going to be fine, they said. Few cuts and bruises, a broken leg…nothing that won't heal. What…" Sam hesitated slightly, before continuing, "What happened?"
"I found Zach and his Neanderthals trying to kill the dog, and by the time my brain caught up with me I was in the thick of it – completely surrounded and I'd just threatened five guys who were all twice the size of me. Needless to say, things went downhill pretty quickly from there."
Sam stared at the smaller teenager in…awe? Shock? Admiration?
When Gabriel said twice the size of him, he really wasn't kidding – Zach was Quarterback on the school football team, and his usual gang were all nearly as big as Sam.
And Gabriel had gotten in their way?
To protect a puppy that, apparently, wasn't actually his…
The guy was clearly insane, but it was the same kind of insane that saw the Winchesters going after all manner of big, bad, evil things that went bump in the night.
The sort of insane that Sam could respect.
Something was bugging Sam though…
"Who's Michael? Why didn't you want to go to a hospital?"
"Long story Sasquatch…"
"Well I'm not going anywhere."
When it became clear that that wasn't enough to get the smaller man talking, Sam tried again.
"Look, you've got some pretty nasty injuries Gabe…"
"Sorry…Gabriel. I have some medical training, from my dad and Dean, but I'm not a professional. At the very least you have a broken nose, a handful of bruised ribs – although I'm not ruling out broken – and enough cuts to merit fifty stitches. You're very lucky you don't have a serious concussion, and I actually thought your arm might be broken for a while there. And that's just what I can see. If you've got internal injuries…"
Gabriel's eyes had grown wider as Sam went through his list, and his face had paled worryingly by the time he'd finished.
"I…shit. I guess I'm lucky you found me, huh?"
"To put it mildly. So now I need you to give me a really good reason to keep you here, and not take you to the nearest emergency room."
"The emergency room would be suspicious of the drugs you gave me? Could get your family into trouble."
If Sam hadn't seen the hint of desperation in Gabriel's eyes, he might have believed his flippancy. Might've gotten angry at the implied threat.
"Nope, try again."
"I…" Gabriel paused for a breath, before visibly coming to a decision. "I can't risk popping up on the official system – someone looks into my records, my brother'll find me."
"And registering at school didn't cause that because?"
"Fake records, fake name…"
"I knew it. Gabriel Anansi. I mean, who calls their kid 'Gabriel' these days anyway?"
Sam cringed at his outburst even as he finished making it.
It was true, he'd thought the guy's name sounded more than a little contrived – an Archangel and a Trickster? Really? – but it was hardly the most important thing at the moment, was it? Not to mention he'd have earned a clip round the ear if Missouri or Bobby had been around to hear him.
"Hey! That part's real gigantor – it's the surname that's fake. Anansi. But it won't hold up at the hospital, haven't hacked their records to create me yet. And before you ask no, I'm not telling you my real name."
Sam decided not to push it – he had enough secrets of his own that he couldn't justify forcing someone to reveal theirs.
"So why don't you want your brother to find you?"
"That's the long story, and I'd really rather not go into it. Suffice it to say that my family aren't exactly the Huxtables…I'm my own private witness protection program Sammy."
And if that wasn't a statement that got every ounce of curiosity in Sam standing to attention.
*Not the time…* he reminded himself.
Sam's mind raced ahead, trying to find a solution. It was simple, really…
Gabe needed a hospital.
Gabe also needed fake medical records.
Sam had a life-time's experience at covering with doctors and lying on forms.
"Do you need any more painkillers before we get you in the car?"
"What the…? Were you dropped on your head as a baby? I can't go to the hospital Sasquatch!"
"No, Gabriel Whoever-the-hell-you-are can't go to the hospital. The guy with amnesia that I found passed out in the street? He can go to the hospital easily enough."
"And if someone recognises me from the school? It's a small town Sammy…"
"By the time that happens, if it does, Gabriel Anansi will have a slightly generic but thoroughly believable medical history for them to look through," Sam answered, grabbing his laptop and stuffing it into his bag as he started to gather various items from around the room.
Gabriel was surprised not only by Sam's plan, but by the confidence with which he suggested it.
Like he wasn't the least bit worried about pulling it off.
"Something tells me you're far more interesting than you look kiddo…"
"I've had an interesting life."
"That makes two of us then. Maybe we can trade stories over hot chocolate sometime…?"
Gabriel wasn't sure why he'd said it – it wouldn't do to get to close to anyone after all, to put anyone at risk if the past caught up with him…but the way that Sam grinned at him left him feeling glad he had.
"Let's get you to the hospital. You can buy me sugary drinks later, when you're not high on pain meds."
A lopsided grin formed as he tried to return Sam's smile without jarring his injuries.
"Sounds like a plan Sammy, sounds like a very good plan."
Marked as complete for now, but I might continue this later when I've got less on the go if I get a good response to it *grins* hope you liked it!