"He's coming this way!"
Gabriel froze mid-step in his walk and had to stop and roll his eyes for a moment. The younger angels really shouldn't be out at this hour. Still, there was no mistaking those excited voices as they shushed each oher and no doubt followed his every move so as to not be detected themselves. He crossed his arms and tapped his foot, quickly turning on the spot to where their voices were.
There was a panicked mix of rustling and mumbling in a nearby wisp of cloud and Gabriel had his target locked.
"Boys." He said it just loud enough for them to know he was serious but not enough to wake any other angels. "What are you doing up at this hour?"
There was a moment of silence and the hope that he would give up and keep walking was palpable. The logic of pre-teens would never cease to amaze him.
He advanced on the cloud and Uriel's head popped out in surrender. "We just want to look a little bit more. Please?" Another head poked out and Gabriel recognized Balthazar's wavy locks.
"And what exactly are you looking at?" He reached the white mass of fluff and gestured for the boys to go in again as a form of 'move over, I want in'. He opened the mass up to invite himself in.
It was a small cloud and already pretty much filled to the brink with only three young angels in it but Gabriel nudged the wall lightly and it widened considerably to fit his own giant wings. Inside was the infamous trio he knew so well.
"Hey Castiel." The youngest nodded his greeting. He had become much more quiet as he got older. That sometimes worried Gabriel.
Gabriel turned to Uriel. "So what was it you were looking at that is so interesting you're willing to risk being tired in flight lessons tomorrow. You know Zachariah will kill you if you crash into something again."
"The earthlings." Balthazar cut in from behind Gabriel and gestured to an open hole in the bottom of the cloud that they had probably opened earlier. Gabriel leaned over and sure enough, there down on the surface was a family of Homo Sapiens going abour their business. It was a pair of parents and their child and Gabriel smiled as he saw them play together.
"We're betting on who will outlast who." Uriel said, apparently taking Gabriel's reaction as a good sign. "I think the Homo Sapiens look cool and I think they'll win but Castiel-"
"I think the Neanderthals will win." Castiel interrupted him. "Their power tree is great!" Gabriel had to smile at that childlike glee.
"And what does Balthazar think?" This would be good. With Balthazar, it always was one way or another.
He didn't disappoint. "I think the dinosaurs will eat them all and win the game and everyone will have to watch out for T-rexs when we're visiting the earth but I won't because I'm strong and I can ta-"
"Alright there big guy." Gabriel gave him an affectionate pat on his ivory wings. His boys could fly now. He was so proud. "I'm sure you remember that the dinosaurs are gone by now."
He was rewarded with a haughty huff. "Everyone says that but I'm still sure it's not true. I'm sure they're just hiding somewhere and waiting for their chance to strike those little meatsacks right where it-"
"Balthazar!" Castiel looked scandalized. "They are not! The dinosaurs are dead and the Neanderthals will soon evolve into full blown humans and all the other Guardians and myself will finally have something to do."
"Well you're right on that part." Uriel was smug. "But you better be ready to look after the Homo Sapiens because they're the ones that will win."
"Alright!" Gabriel held up his hands. Why could these two never stay on the same page? "Neanderthals or Homo Sapiens, no one will be able to Guard anything if you stop sleeping at night." And cue the crestfallen looks he always got when they didn't want to do something he asked. He'd take the looks over the nagging all the other angels got any day of the week.
"Chop, chop." He snapped his fingers and everyone sprang into the action of climbing out of the cloud. Balthazar went first, followed by Uriel. Gabriel caught Castiel around the waist as he tried to exit, earning a yelp of surprise, and climbed out with his little brother hoisted on his hip. Castiel glowered at him.
"I'm too old for this Gabriel." He protested. Gabriel shot him an unrepentant grin.
"You're never too old for this buddy."
Depositing the young angels back into their beds was a daunting task but Gabriel managed. He insisted on tucking them in just as he had done when they were little angels. None of them took it in stride.
Gabriel took one last look at them before he exited their sleeping area. They were all completely still with their eyes closed but they were obviously faking so that he would leave. He was okay with that. Wouldn't mind finding them again.
They had lessons with Anna in the morning. That meant they(inluding himself, though he had other duties) wouldn't have time for anything else. It was a bit sad to watch his little brothers grow up, but Gabriel supposed he would just have to deal.
Castiel was actually pulling off the 'sleeping innocence' look better than the others. He always had been good at that. He would be the most devious angel in his garrison if he wasn't so naive.
But Father if Gabriel didn't love that about him.
It took nearly twenty more minutes of patrolling(Gabriel counted) before he heard the skittering steps and the whispering voices again. Gabriel allowed himself a grin.
They would all be so tired in the morning.
Totally worth it.