Thanks to everyone for bearing with me. Those of you who follow me on Tumblr are probably dimly aware that I'm going through some heavy crap in my life right now, so I'm using Gabriel's situation to help me work through it.
I wrote most of this and Chapter 11 at the same time. I just had about a thousand words to add and to reorder some dialogue, which is why I was able to update this so quickly. I'm glad I did it, too, because all of you have been flailing in the reviews. I don't mean to sound sadistic, but I did giggle a bit at your reviews. IT'S NOT FUNNY AND I DON'T CONDONE SUICIDE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, but some of you get downright silly when you're in panic mode. SORRY, GUYS.
Anyway, as much as I like to keep you in suspense, here is Chapter 12.
For Mems, who gripped me tight and raised me from Perdition.
Sam had knocked for a minute. "Gabe? It's Sam. You in there?" He took a step back from the door when he received no answer. He didn't understand. He could see through the peephole that the lights were on inside. The night they'd slept together, Gabe had turned the lights on as they came in. He wasn't in the habit of leaving lights on in his unoccupied apartment. Gabriel was definitely in there, so why wasn't he answering? He knocked again, louder this time. "Gabe, please. I just want to talk. I'm worried about you." He laughed nervously and then cleared his throat. "Can we just…?"
There was the unmistakable sound of something falling to the floor and shattering. Something glass. Sam's panic instinct kicked in—something was wrong. "Gabriel, answer me or I will break down this door!" He waited for a response. Ten seconds. Fifteen seconds. Fuck it. With two swift, well-placed kicks, the door swung open, loose and limp on its hinges. He charged in, not knowing what to expect and wishing he was armed up, just in case.
Upon first glance, everything appeared to be fine. Sam felt the panic subsiding, giving way to embarrassment. Well, it looks like I owe him a new door. But then he remembered that crashing, shattering sound. No, that wasn't right. He padded further into the apartment and froze suddenly.
He smelled alcohol. Something clear and liquid was spreading across the hardwood floors. He drew closer, nearer to the sofa, and then he finally saw. His heart skipped a beat.
"Gabe?" he breathed. He didn't want to believe it. There was what looked like a bottle of vodka splintered across the hardwood, littering the whole floor with broken glass. And there was Gabriel, hunched over, slumped across the coffee table. "Gabe!" he shouted, dashing forward. Half numb, he dropped to his knees, blatantly ignoring the glass, and pulled Gabriel off the table and into his lap. "Gabriel, please," he whispered, nearly whimpered. He brushed the smaller man's hair away from his face, searching his face for any flicker. "Gabe?" Those golden eyes stayed shut even as Sam gently shook him. Sam looked up and quickly scanned the room, and his eyes fell on the small cardboard box on the table next to Gabriel. He picked it up and stared at the label. "Oh, Gabe, no! No… no-no-no-no-no!" Shifting the writer in his arms, he dug his phone out of his jacket and hit 911. He kept his gaze on Gabriel, cradling him to his chest, praying that he wasn't too late.
"911, what's your emergency?"
"I need an ambulance! My friend is…" He never wanted to have to say these words. "My friend is dying! He—I think he tried to kill himself! He—"
"What's your address?"
Sam spilled the name of Gabriel's apartment building, pressing the first two fingers of his freer hand to Gabriel's neck. There was still a pulse, but it was faint and slow. Please hurry, he begged silently. "He took a whole bunch of sleeping pills—I don't know how many—and I'm pretty sure he chased them with vodka. You have to hurry," he added, nearly whimpered.
"The paramedics are on their way."
The line went dead in his ear. Sam tossed his phone onto the couch and wrapped his other arm around the smaller man. "Please don't die on me, Gabe. Why—?" He choked on a sob. "Why would you do this?" Was it because of him? It didn't make any sense. No, it had to be something else, something he hadn't mentioned. He thought they'd hit it off pretty well, all things considered. He didn't typically sleep with someone he'd met less than forty-eight hours before, but he genuinely liked Gabriel. There was something in his eyes that was sweet. He couldn't figure it out.
Now he was just praying he'd get the chance.
He kept Gabriel tight against him, as if he could keep the writer alive by sheer force of will. He murmured his name, brushed his hair back, rocked him desperately, feeling helpless. What else could he do? The ambulance was on its way and he was only trained in basic first aid. Gabriel was still breathing—softly, shallowly—and his heart was still beating, however weakly, so anything he could possibly do would probably only hurt him. This was why he'd become a cop—so he wouldn't have to feel helpless. But he'd never expected this.
By the time the paramedics arrived, he was almost trancelike. He numbly let the EMTs pull Gabriel out of his vice grip, leaned back against the sofa, and watched dizzily as they strapped him to a cart. One of them was asking him something and he slowly dragged the room back into focus. "Sorry?"
"I need to ask you a few questions about the victim, okay? Can you handle that?"
"Y-yeah. I'll let you know what I know."
"What's his name?"
"Gabe. I mean, Gabriel. Gabriel Speight."
"Date of birth?"
"I… I don't know that. I think he's twenty-seven, though."
"Next of kin?"
Sam shook his head. "I don't know that, either."
"Your relationship to Mr. Speight?"
Jesus. "He's my friend," he mumbled. It was the easiest explanation. There was no word for their actual relationship, not that he knew how to describe it anyway. What did you call someone who you liked a whole lot, who you had pretty strong romantic feelings for already, who you had sex with once, who you thought maybe, just maybe, might be worth getting into something deep with? There was no label that fit.
"Do you know what he took?"
"Best I can guess, a box of sleeping pills and the better part of a fifth of vodka."
"Any idea why he did it?"
Closing his eyes, he sighed. "No. I have no idea."
"Alright, well, they're taking him to the hospital now. We'll take care of him." The paramedic started to walk away, but Sam's head finally kicked back in.
"Hey, just—do you think he'll make it?"
The paramedic shrugged sadly. "Lot of variables. How many pills he took, how much vodka he drank, how long ago he swallowed them, how his body reacts to it, how much he's eaten today…" At Sam's expectant look, he sighed. "I don't know. I give him forty-sixty. Not in his favor. I'm sorry. If I were you, I'd get his next-of-kin info nailed down."
Sam nodded numbly. He knew who would have that information. He grabbed his phone from where it had fallen between the sofa cushions and started dialing.
"Hey, Cas, listen. Um…" He sighed shakily. "I'm at Gabriel's place right now, and—"
"What are you doing there?" Castiel's voice sounded completely baffled.
"It's—he—we were at a coffee shop today and I think it was a date but I went to the bathroom and when I came back out, he was gone, so—"
"You had a date with Gabriel?" In the background, he heard Dean practically screech, "He did what?" and let loose a string of profanities that would have a sailor blushing.
Sam rubbed his temple. "Cas, please, just listen. I'm at Gabriel's apartment right now. He… He tried to kill himself. They're taking him to the hospital right now."
Castiel was silent for several long moments. Sam only knew he was still on the line because he could hear Dean cursing in the background. "Oh, God. I didn't… What happened? What did he do?"
"Sleeping pills washed down with vodka, from the looks of it. They're giving him a forty-sixty chance in favor of him… not making it."
"Hold on. Dean, please, shut up. Gabriel's on his way to the hospital. He attempted suicide." The cursing immediately cut off.
Sam went on. He just wanted this conversation to be over. "I, uh… I'm going to the hospital. I think you should come, too. They need his next-of-kin information and I don't know it." I don't know anything about him.
"We'll meet you there. Thank you for calling, Sam."
"Y-yeah. No problem." He hung up feeling drained and though he knew he had to get back to his car, he couldn't summon the energy. What if Gabriel didn't make it? What if he would have made it if he'd arrived just a few minutes earlier? "Gabe…" He ran his fingers through his hair and his eyes fell again on the coffee table.
A sheet of paper caught his attention. Out of morbid curiosity, he reached for it and pulled it to him. With a choked sob, he saw that his name was on the top. Just before the end, Gabriel's thoughts had been on him. Why?
He rubbed his eyes. There wasn't much on the sheet. Just a few words. Sam, I'll miss you. I'm so—and that was it. For a few long minutes, Sam stared at the note, re-reading the half-dozen words scrawled there, so slanted as to be barely legible. He wondered if it was his usual handwriting or if stress had changed it, and then, again, he wondered what could have caused Gabriel to do something like this. It just hit home that Sam didn't know as much about him as he thought—although that shouldn't have surprised him. They'd just met four days ago. There was no reason to expect he knew anything about him. It didn't stop him from feeling lost, though. He didn't know why, but he felt something for Gabriel.
He folded up the note and shoved it into his pocket.
Dean was in the waiting room when Sam arrived at the hospital. He had his arms crossed, but Sam could tell he was genuinely worried about Gabriel. Sure, they'd squabbled in the past, but they didn't dislike each other. It was more of an affectionate bickering, from what he'd seen and Castiel had said. "Hey," Dean said, standing up the moment he saw Sam.
"Hey. What's going on?"
Dean swallowed, eyes downcast. "He's unconscious right now. They're pumping his stomach I guess. They don't tell me details, obviously, but… Anyway, Cas is in the room with him." He looked up. "Wanna go see him?"
Sam felt himself nodding and followed Dean down a hallway and to an elevator. Unable to keep quiet any longer, he asked, "What's going on with him? You know him better than I do. I mean, you have to know—"
"It's complicated." Dean bit on his lip for a moment, hitting the up button for the elevator a few more times. "As far as I know, his girlfriend dumped him a few weeks ago. He was pretty serious about her, I guess, since Cas said he was all set to propose to her and everything." The Winchesters stepped onto the elevator and Dean smacked the button for the fourth floor. "I thought he was doing okay with it. I mean, I know he was upset about it, obviously, but all things considered, I didn't think he'd do something like this. If he was still freaking out about it, you'd think he would have tried this when it first happened, not three weeks later. I don't know, Sammy. Maybe something happened to set him off." He let out a huff and rubbed his eyes. "How late do you think you're gonna stay? You have work tomorrow?"
Sam shook his head. "Today and tomorrow are my days off this week. I'm… I think I'm gonna stay as long as possible."
Dean nodded thoughtfully. The doors slid open and he led the way out and down another hallway. "So. You went on a date with him?"
"I… Hell, Dean, I don't even know if that's what you'd call it. Yesterday, he invited me out for coffee this morning, and I showed up and I went to the bathroom for like five minutes. I came out and he was gone. No explanation. He left his phone, too. I guess it was supposed to be a date, but… I don't know."
Dean nodded again, looking deep in thought. He knocked on a closed door for a moment, and then opened it up. Castiel was sitting in a chair across from a hospital bed, looking tired and drawn. He looked up as Sam and Dean entered. "Hello, Sam."
"Hey, Cas." Sam pushed back the curtain around the bed. Gabriel's eyes were still closed and he was hooked up to more machines than Sam could count. He was pale and Sam felt a nearly overwhelming wave of sadness. "How's he doing?"
"He's been stabilized." Castiel's voice sounded normal on the surface, but underneath it was a tremor of worry. Gabriel was his best friend, though. It was understandable. "It's looking better, but the doctor says he isn't out of the woods yet. He hasn't regained consciousness, either. It's just a matter of waiting."
So the three of them settled in to wait.
The steady beeping was almost soothing. It was constant and calming. He felt himself drifting, but that beeping kept him tethered. He felt like a helium balloon tied to a child's wrist, slowly bobbing and nudged by the lightest breeze, but still fixed in place. It was nice to float.
And then he heard voices, or rather a voice. It murmured into his ear, repeating his name and giving him something else to cling to. He trusted that voice above anything else. He strained for it, struggled to follow it. It kept speaking to him, brought him back to Earth, and he found himself chasing it. He ran faster and faster until he almost flew, charging toward the voice that was growing steadily more focused, closer, more desperate. I'm on my way! Keep talking! He prayed the voice kept speaking to him. He was afraid of what would happen if it stopped. He would be lost, completely and irrevocably. The void threatened to close in on him and the only safe path, the only assurance that he would make it, was that voice whispering to him.
He found him staring up at the sheer face of a cliff. The voice seemed to be coming from the top. Without a second thought, he started climbing. The voice was his guide and he carefully picked his way along the wall, hand over hand. Inch by inch, he hunted for hand-holds and foot-holds, somehow placing his hands just right to reach them. Finally, the top was barely two feet away and he reached up to find some purchase on the ground.
And then, out of nowhere, he felt strong fingers wrapped around his hand, pulling him up. He held on tight, allowing himself to be pulled up, and his feet found a flat surface to stand on, but the hand still held his, tighter now. He was so sure he recognized that grip, but he couldn't see the figure for the sun in his eyes. He squinted to see if he could make out any features, and suddenly his eyes flew open. "Sammy?"
Those hazel eyes, wide with something Gabriel couldn't decipher, were fixed on him intently. "Gabe!" Sam gasped. Tears started swimming in his eyes but there was a smile on his face, bigger than Gabriel had ever seen before, and then Sam let go of his hand and his arms were tightly around Gabriel.
"Were you talking to me?" Gabriel asked softly. He returned the hug as best he could, but he felt weak.
He felt Sam nodding into his shoulder. "Yeah. I didn't know if you could hear me, but…"
"Yeah. I heard you." He closed his eyes. "I think it helped." As Sam finally released him but grabbed onto his hand again, Gabriel looked around. He was definitely in a hospital, and across from his bed, Castiel and Dean were leaning up against each other, fast asleep. Dean was drooling on Castiel's shoulder, but both of them—and Sam, as well—had worry etched all over their faces.
"I… We were told that if you woke up, we should call the nurses," Sam said softly. His eyes never left Gabriel's face; he pushed a few stray strands of hair back from his face. "I'll be right back, okay?"
Gabriel nodded as Sam reluctantly let go of his hand again. He stared up at the ceiling, listening to Sam's footsteps retreating. He didn't know what had happened, but that look that Sam had given him… He felt like an idiot, but the tightness in his chest was letting up.
He'd survived. Thank God.
*exhales* Is everyone okay? Okay, good. Only eight more chapters until I'm done with this!
"The Reckoning" will be the next update. It will be stupidly fluffy, so everyone can use it as a vacation.