Title: An Archangel and a Soul Walk into a Bar…
For: Gabriel Big Bang! (gabriel-bigbang(dot)livejournal(dot)com)
Artist: The super Cybel! (cybel(dot)livejournal(dot)com)
Beta: The amazing Kodamasama! (kodamasama(dot)livejournal(dot)com)
Pairings: Sam/Gabriel, Dean/Castiel.
Genre: Romance, AU.
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me. I am making no profit from this fanfiction.
Spoilers: Up until stuff revealed in 5x08.
Bending of religious themes for my own convenience, use of Neil Gaiman's technique of capitalizing stuff to make it sound mysterious. Also: laws of physics? What's that?
Inspired by: CloudyJenn and Gedry's stories of wings and mates. They always make me smile!
Summary: Gabriel knows he shouldn't fall in love with incorporeal souls, but to his credit, he has a feeling Sam's future body is going to be totally hot.
Link to art: cybel(dot)livejournal(dot)com/81198(dot)html
Part 1: Why You Shouldn't Touch Strays.
Gabriel knows he shouldn't walk here, the Warehouse of Souls… What? It sounds better in Enochian.
It's not really a Warehouse, like the names suggests, but a Plane of existence. His very Grace trembles at its sight, for a creature of Light doesn't belong between the unborn. Yet he's exhausted from a fifty day fight to stop demons from crawling out of the Pit, and the Law of Minimum Effort the humans taught him over the centuries tells him a shortcut will come in handy right about now.
"Sorry, Dad," he whispers before remembering absent fathers don't have a say in anything. Such a long time, and he still finds himself reaching for Him despite his lack of faith.
Not that he hasn't walked here Before. Gabriel had watched as his Father built this place Before Everything Else; he had sheltered the very first souls with his wings and sat beside them as they waited for human-enough bodies, which could house their spiritual energy, to be created.
However, things have changed now. There are no laws that forbid him from being here, but he isn't supposed to, and for an angel, that is enough to make him feel like he's doing something naughty.
The place is exactly the same, only brighter and more crowded. Well, as crowded as an infinite place can get. The souls are everywhere; up and down, left and right, all around him in an endless sea of light, shining like supernovas.
Or maybe it's the supernovas that shine like them. Hm… Gabriel will have to ponder that. That is, after he's done watching his nightly rerun of Friends. He has priorities, after all.
Each and every one of these souls shine their own special light, not one of them the same. How sad – pathetic, part of him corrects – that most of them will spend their lives thinking they are common and boring, that God has not given them exceptional gifts worthy of praise when their very essences are extraordinary in themselves.
They are all gorgeous, his Father's creations.
One soul's beautiful glow in particular catches his eye as he passes by it.
"Aren't you a babe?" Gabriel says even though he knows it cannot answer. To his surprise, the soul shudders and floats to stand right in front of him. How weird... They aren't supposed to react to angels.
Out of all the souls opening a path for Gabriel, only this one seems unaffected by his powers. It just stands there, as if looking at him. He knows for a fact that the souls who wait here are incapable of thought, of consciousness; they can only feel three things, one at a time: tranquility as they wait; jubilation when they form a connection with each other; and expectation, which starts the moment they are called to Earth.
So why is this one soul still staring at him?
"Shoo!" Gabriel makes a hand gesture that's supposed to stress his shooing - another human thing he picked up. The soul doesn't budge. "Go away, pretty soul. My bod is too hot for you to handle. Truefax."
And it is too. There have been Grace/Soul bonds before, and both parties looked pretty healthy afterwards, but never has an archangel t t aken a soul as a mate. Their raw power would probably be too much for any creature to stomach. Most likely. 99.9 percent chance. Okay, Gabriel is certain enough that he doesn't even want to put this theory to the test.
Supernovas are beautiful, but archangels are like the Sun, blinding and consuming.
"Seriously, go find yourself a bond mate. Maybe then your mortal life won't suck as bad." Gabriel turns to walk away, but his little soul friend just floats in front of him again.
Its glow is so beautiful it's almost hypnotizing. What is it about this soul that makes Gabriel want to stay and pet it?
"Aren't you a special snowflake? Let's see what the future holds for you, hm?" Warily, Gabriel reaches a hand for its aura, being careful not to actually touch it. The soul is sphere-shaped, a little bigger than a baseball and would fit perfectly in the angel's hand if only he would dare touch it. The soul seems to brighten under his palm, and allows him to see its Fate Line.
The word 'Samuel' appears in Gabriel's mind. Before he can contain the flow of emotions pouring in, his Grace floods with a kindness so sweet, the likes of which he's never experienced. A protective love that is not his own takes his breath away, wraps around him, and makes him long for more. More of this feeling, more of this soul.
It feels like it belongs to him. Like Gabriel's name is written all over this love, this soul… Giving him the right to take it for himself.
"You'll be so…" This human will be selfless and kind and just. A man who will dedicate his life to another, who will love with everything he is… and none of it is destined for Gabriel.
Even though it feels like it is.
The angel has to force himself to step back before he gets pulled in again by the alluring emotions this soul is destined to feel. "You'll love so much… Good for you."
Gathering himself up, Gabriel pushes the soul, 'Samuel', to the side with a wing and walks faster than before. He shouldn't have come here. 'Samuel' doesn't seem to care it's been brushed aside and just floats behind the angel, following him and glowing almost like it's… happy.
But it can't be. Souls in this raw phase aren't supposed to be able to feel anything aside from their three states of being – tranquility, jubilation, and expectation. 'Samuel' hasn't found a bond mate, so it can't possibly be experiencing 'jubilation'…
Gabriel gulps. "Listen, this is where I get off. You can't follow me." Probably sensing his discomfort, the soul jumps up and down in a demonstration of anxiety it isn't supposed to fucking feel, dammit. The angel expands his Grace as a warning, something he usually does to keep enemies at bay. The soul stops thrashing about immediately and shudders again.
Gabriel doesn't like the way it keeps doing that. As if it might actually be enjoying the contact with his Grace…
Time to go. Now. "Sit. Stay," Gabriel commands it, and maybe the soul finally gets a clue, for it doesn't move anymore. Taking flight, the angel looks back to see if it's doing as he said. 'Samuel' floats, lonely, by himself as it watches him leave.
And – Dad forbid – for a moment Gabriel thinks the soul just gave him the puppy eyes…
"What are you doing, brother?" Raphael sits by his side uninvited.
"Human watching," Gabriel sighs. Sitting on the top of skyscrapers is not so cool when annoying little brothers do it too.
Raphael looks down with distaste at all the humans waking in the streets below them. "What a colossal waste of time."
"Feel free not to join me, Raffi." Butt face, Gabriel adds in the comfort of his mind.
Raphael just ignores him as usual. A long time ago they had been close – once upon a time Gabriel had been the youngest brother who looked up to Michael and always struggled to keep up with Lucifer's huge wings. When his Father created Raphael, Gabriel literally took him under his wings as his own charge to teach and love - his turn to be the protective big brother.
Now they are these two angels who sit together and have nothing to say to each other. Look how well that turned out…
"Tell me something," Gabriel begins and immediately has his brother's attention on him. Raphael can be a complete jerk, but he also listens when it matters. "Have you ever had a connection, of sorts, with a soul?"
Even though he narrows his eyes in suspicion, Raphael still stops to consider it. "No. I suppose you mean in a bonding manner?" Gabriel nods. "Neither humans nor angels evoke in me the need to bond. We're archangels, after all."
"Well, maybe not 'bond' exactly," he says, searching for the right words. "Maybe they are just… special to you?"
"My brothers are special to me. No particular human is worthy of attention," Raphael says solemnly, like it is set in stone. "Why do you ask?"
"I was just curious." Gabriel shrugs. The good thing about being Heaven's oddball is that no one thinks too much of his eccentricities.
While he's dying to talk about what happened in the Warehouse, it also feels like a secret he should keep only to himself. Raphael wouldn't understand, even if he tried to explain it, anyway – in that point Gabriel has developed much more than other angels who have no concept of individuality.
Those feelings inside Gabriel… They were not his own but felt like they were his to take…
'Samuel'. A name burned across his Grace.
Gabriel cannot for the life of him figure out why it had felt like that soul's feelings were directed towards him. He had looked upon many humans' Fate Lines, had known of their love and their pain, but never had Gabriel felt like any of it belonged to him.
"You spend too much time with the humans, Gabriel." Raphael's disapproving tone brings Gabriel back from his musings.
"What can I say? They like my wings." He raises his eyebrows suggestively.
"You changed too much," his brother accuses.
Yes. And now it's too late to ever be the same again.
"You changed too, you know." Gabriel gets up and dusts himself off. "You used to be kind. Now you're what they call an 'ass-hat'. Do you know what an 'ass-hat' is?"
Raphael shakes his head, a serious expression on his face. "Tell me."
"Nah, you should look it up. This stuff is important."
Gabriel makes sure to fly far away before his brother can find a dictionary.
The second time Gabriel finds himself in the Warehouse of Souls, he's so surprise it actually takes him a few seconds to realize where he is. Sometimes, during long trips between Heaven, Earth, The Pit, and The In Between, his wings go auto-pilot on him and take the quickest route available. Gabriel takes the opportunity to meditate and recover his energy.
He tells himself it's best to turn back and go through a different path. Only there's no reason to do that, really. So what if one little soul was being a freak? Gabriel has faced down demons, supernatural creatures, and that entire chocolate-free month after he lost a bet; he won't just avoid a place due to some irrational fear.
He ain't afraid of no future pretty boys.
Walking, the angel decides to go on to prove to himself there's nothing to freak out about.
It's totally not because he wants to see puppy-eyed souls again.
In fact, he's not even going to search for 'Samuel'. Maybe there's nothing to be afraid of about the soul, but weirdos should still be avoided. This is just a shortcut. The Warehouse is huge, and he's faraway from the place where they met… so there.
No looking for freaky, loving souls that gravitate around him like his Grace is the damn Sun.
Gabriel walks a straight line as the souls float out of his way, eyes set on the path ahead of him. Soon he will find the most convenient exit, and that entire incident will have proven to be just an isolated case-
"What t-" Gabriel almost trips over his own wings when a ball of energy nearly crashes into him. The soul floats around him in circles so fast, with a glow so bright, the angel is not entirely sure what's happening at first. Yet the puppyish excitement, the particularly beautiful glow, and the fact that Gabriel's own heart is already racing… "Oh! Hello, you little stalker, you."
The soul seems to get more agitated by the second. The angel is about to catch it to hold it still when the voice of reason – a voice very much like Michael's – tells him Gabriel shouldn't come in direct contact with a weirdly behaving, stray soul; he doesn't know where it's been.
"Calm down, buddy." His right wing gets in the way of 'Samuel's' gravitational circle, and the impact is muffled by soft feathers. When the soul doesn't move anymore, cold worry settles in his stomach before he remembers something like this wouldn't hurt an unborn. Gabriel can't help but smile when he removes the soul from his wing to find it glowing, pleased like a lazy cat that just ate the cream sitting on the table.
"What are the chances I just happen to walk into you again?" Among billions of souls?
Except, the crash hadn't been accidental. 'Samuel' had been the one to come to him, having probably traveled miles from the spot where they parted ways. "Did you… find me?"
How in Dad's Name can a soul just up and find an angel? Had it sensed Gabriel when he arrived? Howdid it do that?
But of course, 'Samuel' has no answers for him, only more of the same pretty glow. To Gabriel's surprise, another soul floats their way and pauses behind 'Samuel'. Their auras brush and neither repels the other the way it usually happens when two souls press too close to each other.
Gabriel takes a few steps forward to put a theory to test. 'Samuel' immediately follows, the second soul moving behind it and stopping again as it comes to a halt by the angel's side.
"You found yourself a little friend?" Gabriel muses out load. Souls don't just follow each other for no reason.
He takes a closer look at the newcomer. The second soul doesn't glow as beautifully as the first, nor does it act like a maniac – which is much appreciated. Curiosity piqued, he debates for a moment if it's wise to see its Fate Line too but decides it's best to deal with one fanboy at a time.
Just by looking at them, it's pretty obvious they formed a connection, one Gabriel knows to be very common among human souls. "If you're lucky, you guys will be born in the same family," Gabriel reassures them. Parents and children, brothers and sisters, friendships that last throughout life. A deeper link between humans, one that perhaps time and distance can numb but not sever. "Or maybe you'll find each other early on in life."
Or maybe – and this shit actually happens – they will meet only for one of them to die a short time later. Gabriel really doesn't know why Fate goes around pulling this crap on people. The bitch.
Not even soul mates are immune to her bullshit. Even though - among humans and angels alike - a soul-bond is considered to be a free pass to marital happiness, sometimes one of the partners passes away, and the one left behind won't find peace until they meet their own ends. It makes sense. Gabriel can't imagine what it must feel like to have part of yourself dragged from your plane of existence, and then actually having to wait around for your own turn to die before you can be happy again.
A few hardcore religious fanatics claimed only soul-mates should get married, for only those chosen ones can be truly happy.
However – and Gabriel loves calling them out on their BS - there are many couples who had not met in this raw state, had not form any previous soul-bond, and still had a happy marriage, regardless.
"So what the heck is the point, right?" This is something Gabriel started to wonder a few centuries ago – why bond a few souls if the other ones are still getting together and living a good life anyway? Are bonded couples happier than unbonded ones? Is the sex better? Do they get tax reductions?
What's the point? Make a point, goddamn it!
The only thing he can think of as a plus about the whole shebang is that two bonded people feel slightly more connected to each other. As in, one will sense from miles away when the other is sad. Pretty sweet deal, huh? Not useless at all.
Gabriel was once infatuated with the idea of two spirits merging together – or in more sincere words, he was like a girl watching Disney movies and wishing for a Prince Charming of his own. He remembers quite timidly asking his father if he could have a mate too, please. Dad dearest had just laughed fondly and patted him on the back. He had said:
"I'll think about it, Gabriel."
But his Father never mentioned it again.
Later on he was told archangels are too cool – well, too hot – to have mates, and like everything else, the novelty wore off to him, and the meaning behind it was put to questioning.
"Worst part is, despite everything, soul bonding is still a big deal because it's your freakin' essence," Gabriel rambles as he starts walking without checking to see if 'Samuel' and company are behind him. He knows they are. "I mean, who doesn't want to be stuck with some loser your stupid soul chose before you could have any say in it, am I right?"
Both souls just follow after him silently. Gabriel is pretty used to talking his lungs out as Castiel just nods along, so this isn't any different.
"All the books and movies and blah about it are getting old too. Trust humans to drool over anything shiny. Not that I liked the angel thing the nineties had going on either. It was pretty lame." Gabriel shakes his head. "Like we need to Fall to get our penises inside someone. Please!"
The angel stretches his wings to the side, and 'Samuel' seems to take that as an invitation to float between his wing and his right arm. The heat it radiates, although weak in comparison to Gabriel's own, warms his skin and takes his mind back to the protective love that blazed in his Grace not so long ago.
His fingers ache to touch its aura again, find out if the second time is just as exhilarating as the first one. Not yours to take, Gabriel, he has to remind himself.
"But Balthazar said - Oh, huh, Balthazar is my brother-" he explains before anyone gets confused. Then he remembers: souls, dude, they can't understand you. "He said the number of people with wing fetishes skyrocketed after some TV show with angels started airing. So I guess angels are 'in' again."
Gabriel briefly wonders if 'Samuel' will have an angel kink too, and the thought of a human stalking him just like this soul is doing now almost makes him laugh. His mind conjures up the image of a young man blushing and stammering as he asks for the angel's phone number.
Or would 'Samuel' be more straightforward, a no nonsense kind of guy? Gabriel hopes for the former. There is something about the contrast between his strong personality and someone else's shyness that he enjoys very much.
…Not that it matters… Because it doesn't. It's not like Gabriel would ever get himself involved with a human, especially one with a soul that freaks him out a little.
"Better angels than vampires, if you ask me," he continues, distracted.
Looking to his side, he sees the second soul floating precisely behind 'Samuel' without hesitation. The conviction that he'll be followed unconditionally makes his Grace yearn for more time with them.
Castiel used to follow him just like this. When was the last time his brother sought him out on his own?
"Wow, you guys really know how to party around here," he comments sarcastically. Thinking about his brother and the accusations that were made all those years ago always left him in a sore mood. "It's like talking to a dog…" he trails off with a sigh.
No point in being an asshole to the poor souls. It's not their fault Gabriel finally became one of those old men who talk to their dogs since there is no one else that will listen.
His wings fall by his side rather sadly. If there was any actual ground to walk on, they would be dragging all over the floor. 'Samuel', instead of being a good soul and walking behind him, takes the opportunity to bury itself in the angel's wing again - like the pervert it really is.
"Stop feeling me up!" Gabriel shouts, half-embarrassed that the warmth slipping between his feathers actually sends an unexpected shiver of arousal through his body. He flexes his wings, sending the soul flying a few feet away. 'Samuel' doesn't hesitate to come back immediately and position itself by the angel's side once more.
The soul might actually be looking… smug.
Gabriel's lips don't seem to be catching up to the part of his brain with the voice of Admiral Akbar shouting 'It's a trap!', for they smile of their own accord. Only this soul can cop a feel of his wing and actually get away with it.
"I can tell you have a crush on me." Gabriel smirks and resumes walking. "You're totally obvious. Don't be shy; I'm not judging." He raises his hands in a peace gesture. "Thing is, I'm not really into souls."
Yeah, only the ones that molest you… His internal voice suggests, and Gabriel has to laugh at this. The idea of getting hot and bothered over an incorporeal being is just ridiculous.
"Nothing personal, of course! It's just that… Well, you have no body, and you're totally boring. I hope you understand we're not meant to be." Except, boring is definitely not the word. The soul has no means of understanding him or answering back, but it still fascinates Gabriel to no end. "You know, you're actually a really good listener. I appreciate that."
Too soon the angel stops a few miles from the gap in the Warehouse that will allow him to leave. He doesn't feel like going away all of a sudden - his wings don't even stretch in preparation for the long flight.
"Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I've got important angel business to attend to, like feeding my dog and not giving a crap in general." He fixes the soul with a hard stare. "Stay."
Gabriel expands his Grace just a little, a rough brush that should pass on the message, 'don't come near'.
What he fears the most happens anyway the moment he takes flight. Disregarding his previous warning, 'Samuel' floats after him, its soul friend following right behind.
"No. I said 'stay'." Wave upon wave of emotions roll off his Grace. Not the fury reserved for demons or anger directed at the creatures that target the innocent. Simple disapproval that, coming from an archangel, should make most creatures turn tail and run.
The second soul endures for a few moments before the pressure becomes too much, and it floats away, stopping at a distance to wait it out. 'Samuel' doesn't seem to be enjoying the contact with his Grace this time around but still tries to hold on, glow raising with the effort. C'mon, Gabriel thinks, frustrated. Go away! It wasn't this hard last time.
Trying his best to control his powers while increasing their intensity, the angel watches, fascinated, as the soul fights for as long as it can, like stubborn children on a beach who feel the tides getting stronger but still try to stand their ground.
I'm sorry, Gabriel thinks as he watches the soul finally fly away, defeated. Not that his Grace can hurt it, but it's still a sad sight.
Taking flight, it occurs to him that by the time Gabriel returns again, 'Samuel' may have found itself a pretty bond-mate - the one that really belongs by its side and has the right to all those magnificent feelings the angel once caught a glimpse of.
It'll probably be a blond with huge tits too.
Bonding is BS, he harshly scolds himself. I don't care.
It takes him five minutes to realize his hands are drawn into tight fists at his sides.
The next time his wings take him to the Warehouse of Souls, Gabriel doesn't even feel guilty about it. Heaven is boring, there is no impending doom he needs to prevent, and quite frankly, he's curious to know if his little friend has been born yet.
A part of him likes to think he'd somehow feel it, even though he knows there is no reason for that to happen.
He walks aimlessly for a few moments, the warmth radiating from the souls gently touching his wings as he passes through the path they open for him. Somehow he knows in his Grace his fanboy-soul will find him among the billions that wait to be born. This notion shouldn't feel as good as it does, but if Gabriel really stops to think about it, chocolate also shouldn't taste so glorious, warm baths shouldn't be so relaxing, and fluffy carpets shouldn't feel so good on his feet.
A little too late to start nitpicking about how angels ought to be.
It doesn't take long for his friend to come crashing into him like a small tornado, sweeping his clothes up and turning a few of his feathers at odd angles.
Gabriel catches it with a wing. "You need to work on your greeting skills, buddy."
Maybe it's all the months he's been gone - and if Gabriel is honest with himself, he did miss his soul friend – or maybe it's all in his head, but for some reason 'Samuel' looks even more beautiful than before.
"Did you miss me, handsome?" he asks and lets his Grace brush against the soul's aura, getting a shudder for his efforts. "Always reacting to my Grace, you… grace-slut."
The angel can almost see Castiel rolling his eyes, and in the end that's what makes him laugh.
"Where's your sidekick?" He looks around. Not a minute later, another soul comes to a stop behind the first one. "There you are, Sancho Panza!"
It's the same one from last time, although it's definitely going through a Phase. Instead of its usual white glow, the second soul shines blue light as it starts pacing around restlessly.
Expectation. It's excited.
"Buddy, I don't know how to break this to you, but…" Gabriel says, an apologetic expression on his face. "Earth is calling for you."
'Samuel' trails after its agitated friend, stopping every so often in front of the angel as if suspicious that Gabriel will wander off as he usually does.
Gabriel sits down on the void as 'Samuel' waits for his companion to leave. The light blue glow slowly graduates to darker shades, which the angel remembers is a sign the soul is getting ready to go.
"When it leaves, you can't go with it. It's not your time yet," he tells his friend, hands casually grooming his left wing. "It's not like you can, anyways, even if you tried."
Gabriel is pretty certain a soul can't just leave the Warehouse without being called to Earth, but he's not about to put any theories to test – especially if it involves 'Samuel', the Soul Wonder.
"And I know you took more than one shot at it, don't try denying anything." Gabriel gives it his best imitation of Castiel's disapproving look. "But if it's of any consolation, it's not like you'll miss your friend. Your range of emotions isn't very wide, you know."
He plucks off a loose feather and puts it in his pocket to throw away later. The now cobalt blue soul almost vibrates with excitement, bouncing up and down in front of him – what Gabriel assumes is up and down, anyways; could as well be left and right in a place with no gravity. 'Samuel' slightly backs away as the blue aura expands itself.
"It's happening-" It's all he has time to say before the soul flies off like a shooting star, without hesitation and without looking back. Gabriel watches his friend chasing after it for about half a mile before losing sight of them among the millions of souls floating about.
It takes two minutes for 'Samuel' to come back, alone.
"See, you can't leave yet," the angel says and pets the soul with the tip of his left wing. If the soul is capable of feeling anything over the forced separation from its companion, it doesn't show. "Someday it'll be your turn too."
As his friend floats under his wing, Gabriel's mind races over the possibilities in their future. Will they be born as relatives? What sort of family will they have?
What if there are complications during labor, and 'Samuel's' friend dies before it can even see the light of day?
And more importantly, why the fuck does Gabriel care so much?
"I'll go see him for you."
Why he keeps talking to a soul that can't even hear still baffles him.
It takes even longer to convince 'Samuel' to stay this time around, which leaves him to wonder about the possibility of a soul developing a tolerance against his powers. If that's the case, then Gabriel really, really shouldn't come back again.
Pisha! Even as he thinks it, there is never any doubt in his mind that there will be a next time.
For the entirety of his trip back to Earth, Gabriel can't decide if he's doing this out of natural curiosity or pointless concern over a friend of a friend. Or maybe he's just so bored out of his fucking mind, visiting newborns will be a thing now. Either way, he's so never telling any of his brothers about his apparently new job doing house calls for humans. His business card would read: 'How We Can All Heal the World One Visit at a Time'. And then Dr. Patch Adams would sue him.
Following his intuition and using just a little bit of his powers, he eventually finds himself in Lawrence, Kansas.
Oh good. Pretty safe, despite the bigotry.
The clock in the hospital nursery room points to eleven o'clock. PM, judging by the silence and the partial darkness lulling half a dozen babies to sleep.
The only nurse around is a middle aged woman apparently so infatuated with her clipboard she hasn't even noticed the winged man who just materialized inside the room.
Carefully, Gabriel plants in her mind the doubt that there was someone she was supposed to have called. Her thoughts immediately go all over the place trying to remember who or why – she obviously had no training against the infamous 'angel probing' - until she leaves to get her phonebook in the locker room.
Finally alone, the angel raises his wings so they won't bump into anything as he searches for 'Samuel's' companion. Once a soul is shielded inside a vessel of blood and flesh, it's harder to look at their auras - especially adults who keep things to themselves. Thankfully, babies don't know the first thing about stopping meddling angels from snooping in on their minds.
"There you are," Gabriel says, and green eyes stare right back at him.
'Dean Winchester' the little card reads.
"Hello, Dean-o." The angel smiles down at the newly born. "You are very red for a little person, I hope you know."
And what a cute baby it is. So healthy and flushed and alive, staring at him with huge eyes with no understanding of the creature he's beholding. His first thought is to pick Dean up in his arms so he can feel the warmth of the soul tucked away inside the tiny body, but Gabriel doesn't trust himself not to harm such a delicate child. He settles for looming over him like the creeper he once accused Castiel of being.
"I just came to check up on you for your brother slash cousin slash whatever," Gabriel informs him, and Dean just keeps on staring at him with a blank expression. "If you keep this poker face up, you'll be a hell of player, kid."
The angel gently wipes away the drool from the corner of the baby's lips, the slow and careful action almost soothing to his Grace, allowing him to get lost in this silent moment where he can just forget the universe outside these walls. Gabriel wonders if this is what it feels like to be one of these infants, with no knowledge of the world and nothing to worry about or focus on except for warmth and light.
Gabriel allows himself half a minute of contemplation on the fragility of life, its ephemeral moments and the fleeting feelings and ideas he sometimes experiences for no reason or purpose. Will he remember this moment two millennia from now? Recall the quiet sounds of the clock ticking and the soft smell of the fabric wrapped around Dean Winchester as a blanket?
The baby with the green eyes stares at him through it all, until Gabriel remembers he doesn't do moments. "Right, you do that, and I'll just go save the world or whatever is on the agenda for tonight."
The infant won't remember an angel had been there. In a few millennia, probably, neither will Gabriel.
Looking at all the blood on the floor and walls as half of the forensics department carefully walks around the storage house located in the back of a supermarket, it occurs to Gabriel that maybe he should have called the Hunters for once instead of 'going on a rampage', as Victor Henriksen accused him of.
He can tell by the tension in the detective's shoulders and the small trembling of his lips that he's not having a good day.
"There was only one demon?" Victor asks, trying to keep his voice level.
Gabriel gives him a condescending smile. "That's what I just said, yes."
"Then why did you also go after the vampires?" the second detective – Mr. What's His Face – inquires, approaching the angel to tower over him. Gabriel finds it so cute when men think they can frighten him due to his short height. "They were in our jurisdiction."
"Oh, right!" Gabriel rolls his eyes dramatically. "I should have just waited for you guys to show up and let the homicidal vampires run amok in the meantime."
Gabriel cannot stand working with field Hunters. Always bitching when someone else kills the monster instead of actually being grateful the menace was stopped while they ate donuts and scratched their asses.
"Listen, there was no time to call you guys," he continues before Victor can open his mouth and whine some more. "I chased the demon here, he called the vamps, and I killed everyone."
"A demon… called a vampire?" Mr. What's His Face smirks at him in mockery, and Gabriel wishes he could punch the bastard with just enough strength to hurt him, without actually breaking his face.
"Yep." Gabriel nods enthusiastically and leans forward to whisper, "They were in cahoots."
"And how is that possible?"
"They all work for the Crime Syndicate of Amerika?" he suggests with an innocent shrug.
It takes a few seconds for Victor to understand the reference until he finally snaps, "This is a serious investigation!"
Gabriel snorts. "Detective, you're what, 20 years old?"
"And I am older than this planet." The angel gives him a sympathetic smile that is just a little bit condescending. "Trust me, it's not the first time freaks from different clans unite to be assholes together."
Gabriel steps forward to leave. Victor bursts out, "We're not done-" but quickly gets out of his way and makes no movement to reach for him.
"Oh really?" The angel grins. "Stop me then." Gabriel opens his arms and stretches his wings in a childish invitation. "C'mon, don't be shy."
Henriksen watches him leave while the second detective fumes in silence. Some other time he would have stayed and annoyed them some more, but sometimes it's best to let their inferiority complex well enough alone, especially when Gabriel has better business to attend to, like buying dog food on his way out of the supermarket.
He passes by a few more agents questioning a shaky guy - probably the manager by the way he keeps repeating he doesn't know how an angel, a demon, and five vampires got into his storage house without anyone noticing – before finding a door that gives way to the frozen section of the supermarket.
Tonight feels like lasagna night. Or maybe pizza. Or Orecchiette with tomato sauce. Ah, yes, that's it…
Gabriel rolls his eyes at himself. Now he will have to make a stop somewhere in Puglia, Italy to find some decent pasta. It's just like him to blow dinner out of proportion.
He is crossing the detergent aisle when a woman's voice drifts from a nearby aisle. "Dean, put those back. We already bought cereal last time."
"But Mommy, Sammy is gonna need cereal too," a child's tiny voice answers.
The woman laughs. "Sammy will be a baby, Dean. Babies don't like cereal."
"No, Sammy is gonna like what I like," the stubborn boy insists.
Gabriel's wings freeze. A Dean… and a 'Sammy'?
Is someone shitting him?
Without letting him even consider his options, his legs take him under a sign reading 'cereal aisle' from where he can see a pregnant woman with blond hair pushing a cart with her four-year old son standing inside.
Dean Winchester. Gabriel doesn't need to check his soul to know it's him. He can feel it like a shot to the chest.
Does not compute.
"What the fuck is this shit?" he mumbles under his breath. Was he so distracted he didn't even notice his feet walking into Lawrence, Freakin' Kansas?
The only thing left is for Rod Serling to start narrating over the scene.
Can it be a coincidence? A bunch of chance circumstances? That he just happens to walk into the woman who's apparently carrying 'Samuel's' soon to be meat suit…
No freakin' way. Perhaps a human would shrug it off with their pathetic attempts at logic, but he knows his Father sends signs in strange, sometimes confusing ways, and if Gabriel is here right now, with his friend's body growing inside a woman ten feet from him, it's because God wanted it to be so.
But what is the point of this? What is He getting at?
Gabriel turns around to leave as quickly as possible to his apartment so he can freak out in silence without hitting tomorrow's front page with, 'Angel Screams Like Little Girl in Local Walmart'.
"Look, mommy, an angel!"
Of course. Couldn't just be easy.
"Don't point at him!" The woman covers his mouth with a hand, looking apologetic and nervous. "I'm sorry."
Gabriel puts on the most serious expression he can make without cracking up. How does Castiel sound again? Something like, "It is okay. Children cannot help but be curious."
She smiles and stares at the ground, probably not trusting herself not to look at his wings. Dean doesn't have the slightest problem with that though, looking at them with big eyes and unabashed curiosity.
He can only imagine the image he's making standing awkwardly in the middle of an aisle with his wings pressed against his sides so they won't knock entire shelves to the ground. A tiny voice in his head tells him to just leave it alone, please, but Gabriel can't keep his eyes away from the woman.
Unless Dean was talking about a different Sammy, his soul friend will be born soon, judging by the size of her belly; she has to be at least eight months pregnant.
"Is- is there something wrong?" the woman asks haltingly.
Caught staring like a creeper. His brother would be proud. "No. I'm sorry for staring. I was merely curious about the child you carry."
"My child-" The color is drained from her face in an instant. Angels are not known for delivering great news to humans; they usually have no reason speak up unless something bad is about to go down. "What about my child?"
"Nothing bad, I assure you." Gabriel smiles while his Grace expands a few feet around him to calm her down. She looks uncertain but relaxes under the invisible force unbeknownst to her. He almost asks, 'when is it coming', but that's not very serious-angel-cliché like, so he goes with, "May I?"
His hand is raised in an offering she can't possible not understand the meaning of. The woman nods dumbfounded as people down the aisle stop and stare with awe. Gabriel was never able to disappoint a crowd in the past.
Repressing a smile, he passes by Dean who goes for an attempt at grabbing his wing but is caught by his mother instead. Carefully he lowers his hand to her belly and tries to feel her aura. Adults usually show resistance to having their souls probed so intimately – even if the person in question is unaware this is even taking place – but the flow of information comes easily enough.
Mary Campbell. The word 'Winchester' comes right after like a correction; she is married but still thinks 'Campbell' despite herself. She loves the smell of milk and coffee in the morning, she's entranced by the rhythm of her feet as she dances, she prays to God with a quiet devotion she doesn't tell people about.
For Gabriel it's like standing under a waterfall of fragments of memories and emotions. Fear and anxiety merged with an almost unbearable pain are engraved in her memory from the day she gave birth without pain medications. She loves her firstborn more than she had imagined herself capable of. Loneliness takes a hold of her life due to a recent fight with her husband, a man who used to be more pleasant but now is rude, even if he-
And it stops. This last information is as deep as she will let him go.
Turning his attention to the fetus, Gabriel can feel the beat of its heart like a peaceful melody under his hand. He's not a walking ultrasound machine, but a quick scan with his Grace shows him the infant is a boy, like it is expected of 'Samuel', and won't be due for another three weeks.
"I can sense he will be very special, Mary Winchester," he tells her solemnly.
Gabriel can't sense shit, of course. There's no soul inside just yet. But humans love spiritual BS – women in particular die for flattery or confirmation that their children are special snowflakes. And it doesn't hurt to give it to them just to see their eyes light up like Christmas trees.
Mary is flabbergasted as she asks how he can know her name. Her eyes blink at a fast rate for a human while her hands rest on her belly, trying to feel whatever it is Gabriel felt. "He will? How? What do you mean?"
He bows his head in respect the exact way angels of lesser ranks do in his presence. "I must go." Yes, yes, brilliant! Now bow before the audience and awkwardly leave the stage.
"Bye, Mister Angel!" Dean shouts with a slur to his words normal for kids his age.
"It's a boy?" Mary still tries although he already walked away.
Several pair of eyes are trained on Gabriel, committing his face, his size, his wings to memory so they can all go home and tell their families they saw an angel today, for real, and to be in his presence was so much more than books could ever describe… Even though he was pretty short. What was up with that?
It wouldn't look very mysterious for an angel to get dog food, wait in line, and then actually pay for it with a credit card, so he decides to take flight and do his shopping some other time.
Gabriel doesn't go to see his friend immediately. That would be a little bit lovesick and pathetic, and angels are above all that.
So he stops by his house and asks the neighbor to take care of his dog. Then he goes to meet 'Samuel', and because he made that stop first, it means he's now a NOT lovesick, pathetic fool.
It's gorgeous, the soul. It always is, but Gabriel feels surprised by this every time, like he unconsciously expects to see Sam again and realize that he romanticized the entire thing, that the soul is not as special as he remembers.
"Met your mom," he tells it, choosing a place at random to lie down. "She's nice."
It's not hard to pretend there is a floor beneath him in the void. All he has to do is imagine it, and his Grace will do the rest. Gabriel lies down and turns on his side, supporting his chin with a hand, getting ready for the waiting ahead of them.
"You know, I sort of… like you," he confesses, absent-mindedly playing with the tip of his wing. "I don't know why. It's not everyday I find something I don't know about."
Sam just floats there in front of him. Gabriel wonders when he started thinking Sam instead of 'Samuel'; touching its soon-to-be-body probably had something to do with it. Maybe he should start thinking 'he' instead of 'it' too, he muses, seeing as how its gender is already defined.
"I guess I do know why," he continues after a few minutes of contemplation. "You are pretty cute, and you'll be an extraordinary human. Apparently." Gabriel pauses to considerer his own choice of words. "Well, not 'extraordinary' as humans see it. More like as angels do. And what else? Ah, you'll love intensely. A very strong love… Which is good, I guess.
"But there have been others like you," Gabriel says, and he remembers these humans, some special enough to warrant the protection of an Archangel so they could live and fulfill their destinies without interruption. "I've seen beautiful, extraordinary, and strong before. You are nothing new."
So why am I so attracted to you?
Like a moth to a flame. Apparently humans aren't the only ones who like shiny things.
Gabriel lies in silence for a few days. Castiel tells him he's incapable of staying still for too long, but that's not entirely true. Just like all other angels, Gabriel can remain silent and static for long periods of time. He just doesn't want to.
However, there is something good in lying here with Sam. Someone could argue Sam isn't really sentient in this state and therefore is incapable of keeping him company, but Gabriel is certain he'd be feeling restless – and perhaps even lonely – if he were alone in his apartment for days. The fact that Sam is only a few inches away is enough for him to describe this silence as 'companionable', like the soul is partaking in the activity.
"You know, angels… We do love, in our own way," Gabriel tells it- tells him. "But it's just sort of boring. Now, you guys, though!" He laughs and playfully punches the void, pretending it's Sam's arm. "You guys do it hardcore. Angel-love is like trying to get high from smoking tea bags, while human-love is the heavy stuff, the illegal drugs.
"My brothers who bonded with humans… They were never the same. Zachariah says they are lesser angels now, but I believe they're lucky bastards, and I think they know it too." His voice drops low, as if part of him doesn't want the other souls to hear him. "They have part of a human soul in them, and that means they can feel, Sam, just like you do."
His mind goes back to long conversations with theses angels and their descriptions of what it's like to have their Graces irremediably tangled with a soul. They can sleep and dream. The things that once made them feel good now set them ablaze. Sensations are more acute, and feelings occasionally flare up without their consent.
When they are afraid, they're terrified. When they love, they throw themselves head first into the feeling.
They are deemed unsuitable for combat, for what good does it do to have an angel who paces and complains and longs for their mates? Not that these angels care; getting 'fired' from their previous posts means they can stay in the human part of Heaven if they so wish. And they do.
"I've been trying for centuries to feel the way humans do, but I never quite got there," he admits, sighing. "I'm an Archangel. I can't bond; I was made to smite, to lead and endure. My Grace is just not custom-made to experience emotions the way you do.
"And- And that's the thing, isn't it?" His voice breaks a little. "I wasn't made for emotions, but I long for them anyway. Why would Dad let me want something so badly if He doesn't plan on giving it to me? What's the lesson in this?"
For days he tells Sam about Heaven, about his brothers, about his time among the humans and the things he's seen. Gabriel tells him secrets, speaks of his transgressions, and all the while the soul remains unchanging.
He's in the middle of his story about werewolves in South Dakota when Sam starts vibrating slightly, his glow turning into a light blue that Gabriel would find lovely if he didn't know what it meant.
"You're turning blue, Sammy…" Gabriel tells him rather sadly, the nickname he heard Dean use rolling off his tongue naturally.
Sam starts pacing in front of him, restless and excited. The angel sits up and watches as light blue slowly becomes darker and darker.
He's going to miss his little friend. Maybe he'd visit Sam without him noticing, probably while he sleeps since there is no way for Gabriel to disguise his wings, and he wouldn't want to raise any questions as to why an angel is suddenly interested in a common human.
The glow becomes cobalt blue entirely too soon for Gabriel's taste. The soul's aura expands itself, and Gabriel can feel it around him, touching his skin like the tenuous heat of a candle.
"Bye, Sammy," he says, for his friend is about to fly off like a comet. But instead, Sam hesitates and starts bouncing uncontrollably around him.
Gabriel narrows his eyes. "Why aren't you leaving?"
And he needs to. Now. A body cannot be born without a soul, and a soul shouldn't remain in the Warehouse in this Phase for longer than necessary.
Sam doesn't want to leave him; he never does, if he can help it. Gabriel considers flying off so the soul will follow him like he has done before, but that could prove to be dangerous. "You need to go alone," he says, expanding his Grace to nudge it away. "If you go with me, you might stray from your path."
Sam just looks even more agitated. Every time he fought against this energy trying to push him away, Sam became stronger and stronger, being able to hold out longer each time. Or maybe he just realized the feeling of Gabriel's Grace is overwhelming but not really dangerous. Now the angel intensifies his powers, the souls around him quickly floating away from the fire that is his Grace, but Sam still doesn't leave.
"Goddamn it, dude-" The angel stands up, wings unfurling to their true length with the effort it takes to control his powers from expanding too much and eventually escaping his grasp. Letting his Grace explode might actually be powerful enough to make Sam run away, and it's something he's done many times when surrounded by demons. Nothing really bad happens to him; after the initial blowup, his essence retreats back to his body while the enemies burn from the contact.
But he has no idea what effect it will have on human souls, or even what effect it will have on Sam, who seems to be an exception to all things regarding his Grace.
The angel starts getting nervous as the minutes pass by, and Sam makes no attempt at leaving, even though he's one step away from losing control. "Just… go…" he groans and wishes he could bitch slap him.
Hoping for the best, Gabriel lets his Grace explode, opening a clearing of almost a mile around him as the souls run over each other in a desperate attempt to get away. The angel only has enough time to be sure they're okay before Sam does the exact opposite of what he's supposed to and crushes into him.
Gabriel screams a soundless cry as an energy that's not his own takes him violently, tangling itself around him. His expanded Grace collapses back into him, embracing the soul, squashing him even further inside Gabriel, until the angel thinks he's going to die from the raw power of their essences fusing and melding inside him.
He can feel part of him being removed, being ripped from him, and something else taking its place, soothing away the pain. The soul takes a chunk of what makes Gabriel who he is but leaves behind something else, something new.
Sam leaves his body as soon as this is done and flies out of the Warehouse with a part of Gabriel that he can never take back. The angel can only envelop his wings around himself protectively and try to take control of his mutilated Grace.
It's night in Lawrence when Gabriel tumbles from the sky with the finesse of a fledgling that has not yet learned the difference between his wings and his legs.
He doesn't need to try and find Samuel; his presence is like a beacon from a lighthouse in the darkness, and the angel follows it in a trance.
Gabriel barely manages to avoid colliding against a wall when he materializes inside the room. This time is not a hospital nursery but a baby's room decorated in blue with a crib and a newborn baby inside.
Samuel is tiny and powerless asleep in the crib, and the angel really doesn't know what do next now that he's standing before the human who stole part of him.
"Brother." A voice comes from behind him, making him jump. It's Castiel, and he seems as surprised as he is that Gabriel didn't notice his presence until he announced it. "I saw you all but fall from the sky like your wings were not obeying you." Castiel looks at his puffed up feathers and overall disheveled appearance before concluding, "You are not hurt."
Gabriel presses his wings against his back in a defensive gesture. "What're you doing here?"
"It is Thursday," Castiel offers as explanation, and Gabriel nods in understanding. "Why are you in a child's room?"
"Stuff happened, Cassie," he says, and his voice sounds heartbroken even to himself.
Castiel approaches the crib, his expression hard and unreadable as he asks, "What have you done?"
Despite his situation, Gabriel can't help but roll his eyes at his brother's tone of impending doom. "Don't be a drama queen. I didn't do anything!"
Castiel doesn't relent. If there is someone who has zero reaction to his bullshit, it's this angel right here. He still looks the same. When Gabriel gave him the trench coat, it was more of a joke so Castiel would look like Rick Blaine from Casablanca. A walking parody to the only movie Gabriel ever convinced his brother to watch.
Gabriel sighs. "Go make sure the parents stay asleep."
The angel - being of an inferior rank - nods and goes to the room next door where a man and a woman are fast asleep. He touches both their foreheads before coming back to the archangel leaning over the crib. Gabriel tells him everything he needs to know, from his first time meeting Samuel to Dean's birthday to the soul's reaction to his Grace.
"When your Grace expanded to its limit, your core was left unguarded..." Castiel takes a guess, and although it does make sense, it doesn't really offer an explanation as to how Samuel was able to endure the explosion. Or why he's attracted to his Grace in the first place.
Castiel touches the baby's head, and his stoic expression falls apart for a moment as he feels the pulse of his brother's familiar power mingled with the human soul.
"What do you think?" Gabriel asks with unconcealed fear dripping from his voice.
Castiel recomposes himself and turns to him. "The bond is legitimate. I was under the impression Archangels could not bond."
"You and me both…"
It's not something he ever expected to happen, he and Castiel in a child's dark room, confirming his bond with a newborn.
Gabriel doesn't know what to do, and neither does Castiel, apparently, as he watches the archangel take in the reality he now finds himself in.
"I don't understand how this could happen…"
"You were walking among the unborn," Castiel points out.
"I didn't choose to get a bond-mate!"
"No, you only chose to walk in a place no one is supposed to ever go and didn't expect any consequences." He sighs, shaking his head. "As usual."
Gabriel half expects his brother to leave after this but is pleasantly surprised when Castiel stays by his side as he watches Sam slowly breathe in and out. This angel has always been loyal to him, even after Gabriel strained their relationship a few decades ago when Castiel accused him of becoming irresponsible with his duties.
"It feels overwhelming," he confesses, hands shaking even as he holds the crib.
"Are you in pain?" Castiel immediately asks.
"No, it's not bad, per say. It's just… frightening." Like living creatures are crawling in his stomach making him feel things, intensified feelings that make his skin hot and unpleasant. Gabriel wants it to stop, even though he spent Dad knows how many centuries wishing for this very thing.
"Perhaps…" Castiel says after touching Sam a second time, "This is a blessing."
Gabriel's eyes are wide with disbelief. "This is a freaking nightmare."
"You're hardly the first angel to take a mate."
"Yeah, but all those other angels had a choice, and their humans said 'yes'!" Gabriel reminds him, his voice reaching a high pitched level he didn't think possible.
Castiel stares at him intensely before coming to his own conclusions. "Our Father made this union-"
"Which I didn't consent to!"
"Neither did any of the other humans who were born soul-bonded," Castiel says matter-of-factly, and Gabriel wishes he wasn't his favorite brother so he could punch him. "And yet they accepted their bonds as the gifts they are."
"Oh yeah?" Gabriel's wings give an aborted flap. "What if I don't want to be fucking stuck with a human?" He points at Sam. "What if he doesn't want this thing forcing him to be with me? There's this little thing they call 'free fucking will' and they ain't afraid to use it-"
"Calm. Down," Castiel commands, and Gabriel is too grateful for the feeling of his brother's once familiar Grace touching his own to be insulted a younger angel is giving him orders. "Maybe you didn't consent to the bond, but there is no hand forcing you two to have intercourse." He raises an eyebrow in question, and Gabriel confirms it with a nod. "As I understand it, even those who chose someone else instead of their intended still found happiness. Yes?"
"Well…" Gabriel scratches his head.
"So, if you stop to analyze the situation you'll realize you're just being a quote unquote drama queen."
Castiel doesn't smile as he says this, but the glint in his eyes makes Gabriel's mouth fall open. What has he been doing lately that he actually got himself something resembling a sense of humor?
"As I was saying, perhaps your relationship with this human doesn't have to be of a sexual nature."
Gabriel crosses his arms, feeling his nerves calm down. "What are you suggesting?"
"That you stay and watch him grow," Castiel says. "With the bond, you'll most likely fall in love with him. And when he's old enough to make his own decisions, according to human social standards, you'll let him do just that."
The archangel looks pained as he muses on this. Castiel doesn't really understand what's there to meditate about; were it him, he'd do anything to stand by his mate, sexual relationship or not.
"No," he finally says. "I can't stay."
"Why not?" Castiel narrows his eyes. "Just talk to his paren-"
"Yeah, I'll just tell them I'm their new friendly neighborhood fucking Archangel."
"Do not cuss, Gabriel," Castiel reprimands him. "You cannot just pretend this hasn't happened. Sooner or later, Samuel Winchester will feel the weight of the bond on his soul, and he will want to meet you."
"No, Cassie," he says, but it sounds like a whine from a kicked dog. "This isn't right. If I stay, he's going to feel like he's got some sort of obligation towards me."
"You don't know that-"
Dean Winchester is at the door, rubbing his sleepy eyes.
"It is okay, child," Castiel says, and Gabriel can feel his brother's Grace filling up the room and lulling the boy into a sense of comfort and security. "We mean you no harm."
Dean smiles and gets on his tiptoes to close the door behind him. "You here to see Sammy?"
"Yes. We came to give him our blessing," Castiel continues, surprised at how readily the boy accepts the presence of two strange angels in his brother's room at this time of night and without his parents.
Sometimes he worries for the humans and how easily they let angels get away with things.
"Up," Dean asks, raising his hands at Castiel who lifts the boy in the air effortlessly. Dean points at the crib, and the angel takes him to it, placing him on the elevated bars.
Both angels watch as the boy touches the blanket around the baby, tucking him in like he probably saw his mother do just hours before.
Castiel sighs, frustrated. "Gabriel, won't you be part of your mate's life?"
"No," he insists. "Let him have his own life. If he goes after me in the end, then I'll see what I do about it, and that's that. But I'm not chasing after him if there's a chance he'd rather have a normal life with another human."
"Their lives are so short, brother," Castiel murmurs in his ear, pleading. "We blink and they have lived and died without us. Don't waste this opportunity-"
"This discussion is over, Castiel." Gabriel arches his wings as Dean turns back to them.
Castiel doesn't want to let it go. This is huge, bigger than this mortal's short life. After death, the body goes back to earth, but the soul moves on, which means this human will still be under the bond's effects – whether he likes it or not – and Gabriel will live on for eternity knowing his mate rests in Heaven and there is nothing he can do about it because once upon a time he decided to let him live his own life instead of-
Arms around his left wing pull it to the floor, and Castiel can't refrain from yelping.
"Gabriel." He looks at the boy gleefully squeezing him. "He's holding my wings."
"I like you, Mister Angel," Dean tells him, kissing a feather with wet lips.
"… Excuse me?"
Gabriel picks Dean up with ease, much to the boy's enjoyment, and hands him to an embarrassed Castiel. The child's hands immediately go around the angel's shoulders as his legs encircle his waist in a tight grip. "Take him to his bedroom and make sure he doesn't remember this."
Castiel walks to the boy's room, trying to shake away the feeling of hands on his private feathers. Dean watches him closely.
"Your wings are pretty," he tells the angel, who doesn't know what to say.
"Thank you." It's considered an offense to compliment an angel's wings, but Castiel thinks a human child probably wouldn't know any better. He remembers from previous encounters that humans appreciate praise in return after they offer their own compliments. "Your eyes are also pretty, young man."
He hopes humans don't feel insulted by this the same way angels do about their wings.
"My name's Dean, and I'm this old." The boy shows him four fingers of his right hand.
"I am Castiel. I am afraid I don't have enough fingers to show you how old I am-" Dean interrupts him once more by kissing his cheek again and again. "Why are you kissing me?"
"'Cause I like you-" he says and rests his chin on Castiel's shoulder.
The angel carefully lays the boy down on his bed and pushes the blankets on top of him. Somehow, he finds it difficult to let go, to erase the memories from Dean's mind and pretend this never happened.
The kissing felt nice. He's never been kissed before, nor has he ever wondered what it might feel like.
"Are you gonna come tomorrow to play?" Dean asks, already sleepy, pushing the blanket to cover his ears.
"No, child. You won't remember me come dawn." And with this, the angel touches his forehead, sending him into a dreamless sleep.
He's about to extinguish the memories of him and Gabriel when another idea occurs to him. Castiel has always disapproved of erasing memories - he thinks he'd very much dislike if it were done to him. Thus, he carefully builds a small wall in the boy's mind and puts the memories behind it, where they will be safe until the day Castiel can reveal this night to him again.
And when that moment comes, Dean shall remember him.
"Sleep in peace, Dean."