Ha! So. It's "Struck by You" but from Sam's point of view! You get a little more insight now.
"I got something for you boys," Bobby says, flipping a newspaper at Dean and me. Dean immediately snatches it up, his eyes scanning the headlines.
"Another Lucifer sighting?" he asks, hunting for whatever it is that Bobby's talking about.
"No, but another possible sign of the end times. Freak meteor accidents. This one in Louisiana—so this guy's standing in a field and all of a sudden, he gets hit by a meteor."
I raise my eyebrows. "He survived being struck by a meteor?"
"Yeah. There's got to be something supernatural about that. You should go and check it out." At Dean's reproachful look, he says, "I'll keep my eyes open for Lucy and give you a call if he pops up. In the meantime, it wouldn't hurt to go find this guy, right?"
I pick up the newspaper that Dean pushes toward me and skim the article. "What do you think, Sam?" he asks.
I don't know why, but I just have this feeling that we need to go. "Yeah. Let's go take a look."
Two days later, we're pulling up in front of the hospital, straightening our ties. "He could be a demon," Dean suggests, pocketing his FBI badge.
"Well, I brought the holy water," I say. In the past two days, we've been bouncing ideas back and forth. True, something about this whole situation is supernatural, but we're not sure if it's the circumstances or the guy himself. Still, both of us are leaning to the guy being the supernatural one.
Finding the guy's room is actually fairly easy. All we need to do is flash our badges and say, "Meteor victim," and the nurse points us in the right direction. By now, we're both so confident in our abilities to feign federal agents that no one questions us. We head up to his room and Dean starts peeking through windows. "Right here," I say, pointing to room 475.
The door is cracked, so we manage to slip inside without waking him. It's strange, but the moment I see him, I feel like I know him from somewhere. Deciding I'll probably figure it out when he opens his eyes, I pull out the flask of holy water and pour some into a glass on the table next to him. Once I stash it again, I clear my throat. His eyes flutter open immediately.
They're practically golden, those eyes. They have to be green or a light brown, but they look like gold. They match his hair—long and golden-blond. I try not to focus on them too much as Dean and I flash our badges again. He barely looks at them as Dean says, "I'm Agent Lee. This is my partner, Agent Nicholson." Dean gestures to the glass. "Want some water?"
Wordlessly, the stranger lifts the glass to his lips and drains about half of it before setting it back down. Well, he's not a demon, that's for sure.
"We'd like to ask you a few questions," Dean goes on.
The guy nods. "Sure, go ahead."
"Okay, what's your name?" I ask.
"I don't know."
I wasn't expecting that answer. "You don't remember?"
"I don't know," he repeats.
"What do you know?" Dean asks.
"It's theorized that I was struck by a meteor, and I'm lying in a hospital bed, perfectly healthy except for being a blank slate."
"You don't remember what happened to you?" I ask to clarify.
"Sorry, boys. Nothing."
Something about the way he says that seems somehow familiar as well. Do I know you? I want to ask, but of course, he wouldn't know. He's probably an amnesiac. Dean and I exchange glances and I wonder if he feels like he recognizes this guy from somewhere, too. "Anything else you might want to tell us?" I ask.
He nods. "Yeah. I want something to eat. Something sweet."
Suddenly, it hits me. He reminds me of Gabriel. Not physically—he looks nothing like the archangel—but he wants something sweet, and something in his mannerisms is just so like him that I completely lose the ability to speak. Dean nods and leads the way out the door. I glance back at the guy in the hospital bed but his eyes are already closed again.
After I pass on the information to the nurse, that this John Doe wants something sweet, Dean and I hop back into the Impala and loosen our ties. "So, what do you think?" he asks immediately.
"He reminded me of the Trickster."
Dean scoffs. "Why? 'Cause he wanted a friggin' candy bar? That's a bit flimsy."
"And the way he talked to us. He had a bit of his smart-ass thing."
"Well, we know he isn't a Trickster, 'cause Gabriel's dead. So let's move on. He's not a demon, so could he be an angel?"
I shrug. "It's possible, I guess. That would explain why he didn't sustain any injuries, right?"
"Except the amnesia. That part doesn't make sense at all."
"So maybe there's nothing supernatural about him at all. Maybe it was the meteor."
"There's only one way to find out."
By the time we get to the strike site, night is falling. We have to stop off at the motel and change out of our suits, and Dean starts complaining that he's hungry, so it's another three hours before we finally get there. From the limited light, it's hard to make anything out, but two things are glaringly obvious: from the scorch marks, whatever touched down was massive; and whatever it was, it's definitely not here anymore.
"That's not good," Dean mutters.
"Well, let's see what else is around here. You brought the flashlights, right?"
"Yeah, of course." We head back to the Impala and dig out the flashlights, but when we try to turn them on, it's a waste. The batteries are dead.
"Great," I say. "Alright, let's just come back tomorrow."
The next day, we're there right after sunrise. Judging from the crater, whatever projectile fell was as big as a person. "There's no way he could have survived being struck by something this size. Something about this is messed-up, Dean."
"Yeah," Dean murmurs. "Was there a police report to go with this?"
"I don't think so. The tape would still be up, wouldn't it?"
"Maybe. But someone has to know what this thing is, right?"
"So let's call Bobby and see if he knows any astronomy experts or something." He pulls out his phone and starts dialing. As he does, I start going over the field with the EMF meter. There are minimal amounts of electromagnetic frequency, just slightly more than as if there were no supernatural event here at all. It's probably faded since it's been about a week or ten days since the event occurred.
"Nothing," Dean calls over to me.
"Bobby's got nothing. Any EMF?"
"Trace amounts. Something was here, but it's not anymore."
"Great. Probably our missing meteor."
"Actually," I say, putting away the EMF meter, "since it hit the Earth, it's a meteorite now."
Dean glares at me for a moment. "It's still a space rock."
I sigh but don't argue. I won't win anyway.
We manage to track down a girl who shot a video of the meteor the next day. We must watch it over a hundred times but nothing about it seems really significant—except the size. It's definitely big, whatever it is. And, whatever it is, it's definitely gone. The question is, where could it have gone?
"But it doesn't really matter where it is," I say later that night. "The fact is, it hit this guy and he survived. He's not even in a coma—he's just an amnesiac. Apart from that, he's completely fine. So I think the really supernatural thing here is him."
Dean nods, looking pensive. "Then we need to figure out what he is. And you know what that means."
Of course I do. It means he can't stay in that hospital. We need to get him out of there and bring him back to Bobby. Even if we can't figure out what he is, Bobby or Cas will know. And what all of this starts with is a stack of forged transfer papers.
The following morning, I throw a change of clothes borrowed from Dean into my duffle bag. Dean isn't too happy about some of his clothes being sacrificed, but he's closer to the guy's size than I am. Once we put our suits back on, we're heading back to the hospital with our stuff loaded up in the back. Bobby already knows we're coming right back with a stop tonight somewhere in Missouri. The moment we have this guy in the car with us, we're out of here.
"Are we still thinking this guy's an angel?" I murmur as we walk through the sliding glass hospital doors.
"It's our best theory," Dean says. "Unless you had any genius ideas."
"No, not really."
Since I can act more professional than Dean can, I'm the one who's stuck making the doctor sign the transfer paperwork. She's confused because it's out of the blue, but I throw a bunch of legal jargon in her face and it confuses and intimidates her. I feel bad but try to push it down—we've got a job to do and I can't be worrying about the feelings of some random civilian.
Dean opens the door and lets the little guy out first. Again, I'm slammed with the strange feeling that I just know him from somewhere, but I just can't put my finger on it. I wait for a few more moments for the doctor to finish looking over the paperwork—considering it's all fake, it's airtight—and once she's done, I slide the papers into a briefcase. With a quick nod at Dean, we lead our new charge out of the hospital.
Somehow, I just know that he isn't going to try to make a break for it. For all I know, he thinks we're real. I wonder how he'll react when he finds out we're not actually federal agents. Still, I open up the rear door for the guy and he obligingly slides in. I shoot Dean another glance before we duck into the Impala and he starts it up.
After about ten minutes without a single word exchanged, Dean—who's been eyeballing this guy the whole time—finally asks, "So aren't you gonna ask what's happening?"
"Not if you're going to keep lying to me."
I can't help my laughter. So this guy knows we lied to him, and he's following us anyway. I don't know if that makes him incredibly brave, incredibly stupid, or incredibly powerful.
"Alright, then," Dean says. "For real. My name is Dean Winchester, and this is my brother Sam. Do you still not remember your name?"
Nothing can prepare me for what he says next. "I've been calling myself Gabriel."
A heavy silence falls for a few moments. I don't know what Dean's thinking, but I'm remembering the last person we knew named Gabriel. The archangel Gabriel, the former Trickster, just died a few short weeks ago. Even though Lucifer was the one who killed him, I can't help feeling responsible for his death. I keep telling myself there's nothing I could have done, but I never believe me. Still, I can't help thinking… Maybe… I turn to face him. "So… Gabriel. What are you?"
He's been staring out the window this whole time, but when I ask this, he looks at me with a slightly puzzled expression on his face. "What do you mean?"
"You're… you're not human. We're pretty sure, anyway. We saw the photos from where the ambulance picked you up and if you got hit by a meteor—and it really looks like you did—then no human could have survived it. But you don't have a scratch on you. So… what are you?" I ask again.
His brows furrow a bit. "I don't know, boys."
"We know you're not a demon, at least," Dean says. "So that's a good sign."
It is. I don't like the thought that this Gabriel could be evil.
"How do you know that?"
"The water you drank. It was holy water. Demons don't like the stuff, to say the least."
Gabriel nods in understanding. His unquestioning acceptance of these facts—the existence of demons, of other supernatural creatures—indicates that even if he isn't one himself, he at least knew about them. It's good.
"We can't really think of a whole lot of things that could survive being hit by a meteor like you were," I say.
"So what are your theories?"
Dean and I glance at each other. He must have been around hunters before. He just accepts that there exists the stuff of nightmares in this world. Dean says in response, "An angel."
"I don't feel like an angel."
"Well, we'll figure it out," I say reassuringly.
"Not like we don't have other crap to worry about," Dean grumbles.
"Why do you even care?" Gabriel asks, crossing his arms over his chest and tilting his head just slightly to the side.
"Because we…" I glance at Dean, feeling the words threatening to spill out. He makes no move to stop me, so I continue. "We're hunters. Monster hunters. Typically ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters… all sorts of things that go bump in the night."
"And asshole angel hunters," Dean adds, and I can see a tiny smile on his face. I know he's thinking about Zachariah and how we both wouldn't mind deep-frying the douchebag extra-crispy style.
"Right. So… we can probably figure out what you are pretty quick."
He gives me this look like he's analyzing the whole situation. I know what we're saying probably sounds a little crazy to him, but he's accepting it. But what he says next completely catches me off-guard. "And decide whether or not I need to be killed."
I don't quite know how to answer that. I wait to see if Dean has any witty reply but apparently, he's leaving this one entirely up to me. "I guess so, yeah. But if it makes you feel any better, I don't think what you are is evil." I give him a reassuring smile, and almost automatically, he smiles back.
Now I know I've seen that smile before. It's so frustratingly familiar—I should know it, but I just don't. The worst part about it is that I'm fairly certain he's aware of it. It's like he knows how recognizable he seems to be to me, and he's only encouraging it. I swallow and try to push it out of my mind. "Are you hearing any voices? Having visions? We won't think you're crazy or anything," I add quickly, but I'm also fairly certain that he knows that, too.
"No. Just you. Unless you're part of my hallucinations, I think I'm okay."
I laugh in spite of myself. He's still grinning at me, that same impish grin that I know I recognize, his golden-green eyes alight with laughter. How do I know you? Who are you?
We lapse back into silence for an indeterminable stretch of time. I'm almost asleep when my hand falls off my lap and next to the car door. In the built-in pocket is a Butterfinger bar I picked up for him at the gas station early this morning, just in case. I flip it over and over for a few moments before looking back at Gabriel in the side mirror. He's taken to watching the landscape again and I wonder if any of this seems familiar to him, too.
"Still want candy?" I ask abruptly.
I'm surprised he doesn't give himself whiplash from how quickly he jerks his head in my direction. Grinning, he holds out his hand, and I can't help grinning back as I drop the candy bar in his outstretched hand. He tears into it so fast that I doubt he knows what he's eating. Strangers do have the best candy, I suppose, I can't help thinking.
"Delicious," Gabriel says, and I feel myself smiling again. As I turn back to the front, I see that the corner of Dean's mouth is quirked up in a half of a smile as well.
About an hour before sunset, we stop at one of the many seedy little motels to which Dean and I have gotten far too accustomed. He goes to the front desk to get a room and I wait in the car with Gabriel. I've been appointed as his unofficial babysitter, something that I should protest on principle, but I really don't mind too much. I can't tell if I'm more frustrated with myself for feeling so at-ease around him or more frustrated with him for making me feel relaxed, for whatever reason. I don't know how he does it. Either way, I don't say anything to him, and he doesn't say a word to me. I wonder what he's thinking, but I just don't know how to ask.
Finally, though, Dean returns with two sets of keys and tosses one set to me. Gabriel and I get out and follow Dean into the room. Once the door is shut behind us and I've slid the deadbolt and chain into place, I flop onto the closes bed with a yawn. Dean, meanwhile, just drags his duffle bag to the bathroom and I hear the couch squeak under Gabe's weight as he turns on the television. I hear him change the channels for a few minutes but apparently there's nothing on that he likes because he just turns it back off a few minutes later.
When the bathroom door opens and Dean comes out, it's my turn. I grab my change of clothes out of his bag—I had to sacrifice my own for Gabriel's borrowed clothing, since we had to use some of Dean's. I don't mind wearing a suit exactly, but it gets a bit confining sometimes. And besides, we've been traveling all day. Even with the air conditioning going, it's been a hot day and I've sweated almost through my shirt.
I take a quick shower and change back into my regular jeans and a T-shirt. Then it's back out into that room, where Dean is perched at the edge of the other bed and Gabe is leaning back on the couch, eyes closed. I set the bag down and sit on my bed, and I have a feeling Dean and I are thinking the same thing as we stare at Gabe: What have we gotten ourselves into? Not that he's being a nuisance or anything, but we know literally jack about this guy and now we've decided to drag him to Bobby's place. But then Dean announces, "I'm getting food." Without waiting for an answer, he gets up and leaves.
I sense rather than see that Gabe has opened his eyes again and now he's looking at me. I don't look at him, though. I'm not really sure why. Maybe it's because I get the strangest feeling that he knows what I'm thinking.
"So, kiddo, if I'm allowed to ask, where are you and Dean taking me?"
Gabriel the archangel—not Gabe the whatever he is, sitting right in front of me—used to call us "kiddo." I wonder if Gabe knows this and I finally look at him, a bit puzzled. "To see a few friends of ours. Bobby and Cas. Bobby's pretty smart, a lot of experience with this whole hunting business, and Cas…" I don't want to just flat-out say Castiel is an angel. But all things considered, I think he's our best bet to figuring out Gabe. "Well, he knows a lot about the supernatural, too. I think that with the four of us working on it, we can probably figure out who or what you are."
"And you're still pretty much convinced I'm not human?"
"Well," I admit, "you look human, but that doesn't mean much. I mean, I guess we can't rule it out, but it seems unlikely. Really, though, I have no idea what you could be. It's probably nothing Dean and I have seen before." As experienced as we are, it's entirely plausible he's something completely new.
"So…" He slides off the sofa and moves closer to me. He sinks to the floor, sitting cross-legged before going on. "If I'm something bad, you're going to kill me."
How do I say yes to something like that? It's not like it was really phrased as a question, anyway. He figured it out on his own in the car.
"But what if I'm… not bad?"
"I guess… depending on what you are, if you're powerful, we'll probably ask you to help us." It's not like we haven't had more questionable allies before—including Gabriel.
I bite my lip and try to figure out how to tell him that we started Armageddon. If anything, that won't go over so well. I sigh. "Averting the Apocalypse. I mean, it's already started, but we're trying to… I guess undo it."
"The Apocalypse?" The incredulity in his voice is apparent.
"Yeah. Armageddon, the end of days, culminating in a showdown between the archangel Michael and his brother, the fallen angel Lucifer. We're kind of trying to keep it from happening."
"Are there other hunters helping you?"
"Kind of. Dean and I just have a particularly vested interest in preventing it is all."
This is already becoming an awkward conversation. This is more than I wanted to tell him, but I can't stop explaining. Maybe I just need to vent, but somehow I trust him. Still, this thing with being Lucifer's true vessel… I'm expecting the same kind of looks Dean gives me sometimes: that I could go Dark Side any minute. Gabe waits patiently for me to explain, rocking back and forth a bit. "Dean and I are supposed to be Michael and Lucifer's vessels."
He blinks. "Come again?"
Well, I guess it's time for his first hunting lesson. "Angels and demons are similar in that they can take control of a human body and basically live in them. We tend to call it a meat-suit. But whereas demons can take possession of any person they want, angels have to have permission from the human. Lucifer has been trying to hunt me down because… well, he did find a vessel, some guy named Nick, but since Nick isn't his true vessel, his body is starting to deteriorate. Lucifer is too powerful for Nick. But I'm Lucifer's supposed true vessel, so if I say yes, he'll be free to wreak all the havoc he wants. And as for Michael, we haven't encountered him yet, but a bunch of other angels have been trying to convince Dean to say yes to him. I'm sure you can tell by now, but Dean isn't the type to just let someone control him. So we're trying to avert the Apocalypse to avoid either of us having to say yes to those feathery dicks." When he laughs, I add, "Of course, preventing the decimation of most of the planet's population is also kind of a big incentive."
Then he asks the question I really don't want to answer. "So why you two? Do you know?"
"Y-yeah. We know. Dean inadvertently broke the First Seal, and I broke the last." He looks lost, so I explain. "There are six-hundred-some Seals—or there were—on the box that Lucifer's been in for the last I don't know how many years. To set him free and start the Apocalypse, only sixty-six needed to be broken. Any sixty-six would do, mostly, except for the first and the last which were non-negotiable. The first was a righteous man torturing souls in Hell. The last was the first of Lucifer's creations, a demon named Lilith, being killed."
He tilts his head to the side and I see the wheels in his head turning. "So… Dean went to Hell?"
"Yeah. He sold his soul to save my life. Then a year later, he got dragged into Hell."
"So how is he here now?"
"Our friend Cas got him out."
It's getting too deep into our lives and I'm not sure I have the energy to explain right now. "That's a long story," I finally say. "I'll let him explain it when you meet him tomorrow."
"Oh. Okay. And so you killed Lilith?"
"Yes. I didn't realize that killing her was the final Seal. I knew she had something to do with it and we thought that she was going to break the Seal, so I decided to just kill her first. And then the goddamn Apocalypse started."
"Wow. You two have been busy."
I laugh, but there's no joy behind it. "Yeah, you could say that. Trying to run around, cleaning up after our mistakes." Again I'm forcibly reminded of Gabriel. I can't help but blame myself for his death, but it's not something I'd ever discuss with Dean. As far as he's concerned, we lost a potential ally. To me, it felt like I lost something more.
Somehow, though, Gabe can tell I'm stressed. "What? What is it?"
"Just…" How do I explain something like this to him? That I got a freaking archangel killed, one who'd been with us for a long time? He'd been a constant—albeit a rather annoying one—for two or three years, and now he's gone. "If I hadn't broken the last Seal, none of this would have started. Lucifer wouldn't have gotten free. He already killed someone who really could have helped us out. I mean, he could be kind of a dick, too, but he was powerful and we could have convinced him to help."
I don't want to tell him that it was the guy he just named himself after, so I say, "He was an archangel."
"An archangel? That's kind of trippy."
"Yeah." You have no idea.
"I mean, there's only seven to begin with, and one of them is gone. That's… that's really messed-up."
"Seven?" Oh, great. We could have to deal with more of these dicks?
"Yeah. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Sealtiel, Jegudiel, and Barachiel. If one of them is dead…"
I stare at him, completely confused. Huh. Maybe he does have an idea. Still…
"How do you know that?"
He blinks now, looking puzzled. "I… I don't know. I have no idea where that came from."
"Wow." He knows more than he realizes. But how?
"Which one?" he asks.
"Which one, what?"
"Which archangel did Lucifer kill?"
I definitely don't want to tell him now, but almost have to. "Gabriel. Lucifer killed Gabriel."
For a few moments, Gabe just looks lost, like someone ran over his dog. Like somehow, back when he wasn't an amnesiac, he somehow knew the archangel and he's in mourning. But then he says, "What a dick," and I can't help but laugh.
"Yeah, I agree. He's a huge dick." I settle back onto my bed and wait for Gabe to ask me something else, but he doesn't. But now that we've had an actual conversation, the silence isn't awkward. It's actually kind of nice.
Dean returns a few minutes later with burgers all around and another Butterfinger for Gabe. The little guy accepts it giddily, completely ignoring the burger.
That night, Dean's the only one who actually gets any sleep. I keep waking up and every time I glance over at the sofa, where Gabe is laying, he's moving or—when he's not facing away from us—I can see his eyes are open. I see him run his fingers through his hair a few times and I can't help wondering if it's as soft as it looks. I push that thought out of my head and roll over, trying to go back to sleep, but I keep waking up almost every hour.
Gabe is still awake at sunrise; I can hear him snapping his fingers softly. It's not enough to wake Dean, so I continue feigning sleep until he wakes up. Suddenly, Gabe practically leaps off the couch and starts bouncing. It's so funny to see that I very nearly laugh, but Dean isn't as amused. He frowns and looks away.
"I think he's ready to leave," I say.
"Yeah? Well, I am, too. Calm down," he adds, rather harshly, to Gabe. He barely looks bothered by Dean's tone but stops bouncing anyway. Instead, he starts snapping his fingers again. Dean covers his face and says, "I'm taking a shower." He goes to the bathroom and I pull the covers over my head.
After a few minutes, I take a peek at what's going on—I haven't heard anything from Gabe—and to my amusement, he's pacing now. I wonder if maybe he didn't sleep because it finally sank in just how crazy his situation is. Maybe he's regretting coming with us, or he's afraid that we're insane and are just waiting to kill him. We basically already admitted that, under the right (or wrong) circumstances, we would kill him. Maybe he's starting to freak out. But he doesn't look worried, just bored.
Finally, Dean emerges from the bathroom, looking more awake and a bit more cheerful than he did going in. "Who wants breakfast?" he asks.
My stomach is growling, so he has his answer. I'm sure Gabe is hungry, too—as far as I know, he only ate two Butterfingers yesterday. He has to be hungry.
"What's closest?" I ask. "I saw a Waffle House on our way here. That's good, right?"
Dean makes a face. "I think there's an IHOP a bit closer, and it's in the direction we're heading anyway. Who wants to eat at a friggin' Waffle House?"
"Alright, fine." I was trying to save a bit of money, but if Dean wants pancakes, we'll get pancakes. I suppose I should be grateful, though, because IHOP has a better low-carb menu than Waffle House.
Dean, of course, gets his usual heart attack on a plate—with extra bacon, too—but I stick with a spinach omelet. It's not bad, but both Dean and Gabe make a face when it arrives. Gabe, though, sticks to his sweet-stuff theme and gets a stack of S'More pancakes with extra syrup. Neither of us can help but stare, but he attacks it shamelessly.
Once we get back in the car, he stretches out on the backseat and shifts around for a few minutes, trying to get comfortable. After about ten minutes, I'm fairly certain he's fallen asleep, but neither of us says anything for another half an hour or so.
Finally, though, Dean notices. "Is he actually sleeping?"
"I'm not surprised. I woke up a few times last night. I don't think he slept at all."
"Yeah, but he's with two total strangers. He probably thought—thinks—we're gonna kill him the moment we get a chance."
"We've had chances. We've had all the chance in the world to kill him."
"Yeah, but still. If I were in Gabriel's shoes, I wouldn't be sleeping so well, either."
Dean glares at me for a moment before looking at Gabe in the rearview. "So, any more ideas on what this guy is?"
"I still think angel is most likely, but apart from surviving being hit by a meteor, he hasn't shown any powers. Could he just really be a blank slate? I mean, Anna was—"
"Anna ripped out her Grace. Then she was born as a human. She had Angel Radio in her head twenty-four-seven for a few months, but she did remember at some point. This guy says he doesn't hear voices. This meteor or whatever the Hell it was hit him two weeks ago, and he's a freaking adult, not a baby. Yeah, he's a blank slate, but he probably isn't an angel."
"But Cas will know for sure, won't he?"
"I freakin' hope so. Any other theories, smart guy?"
"A human amnesiac."
Dean sighs, sensing I'm not going to let this theory go. "Alright, fine. If he's human, he's got a family or friends or something. Call Bobby and have him check for missing persons fitting our guy's description starting around the area where he was found and working out from there. He probably didn't get very far from home when he was hit, so… I mean, someone's gotta be looking for him, right?"
He doesn't ever use Gabe's name. I guess he takes exception to it, like it's a disgrace to the archangel. I'm not quite sure why I'm able to accept it more readily than he is, but I don't comment on it. I also don't comment on how Gabe was in the hospital for several weeks and stayed a John Doe the whole time. If someone was actively looking for him, they should have found him by the time we picked him up. I just dial Bobby's number.
"Hey, Bobby. Look, we found… well, we're not sure who or what he is. He's calling himself Gabriel."
"And that's another thing—" Dean starts, but I really don't want to hear him bitch right now. I wave him off as Bobby says, "Okay, so what now?"
"We need you to run a check on missing persons, just in case he actually is human."
"Okay, what's the description?"
"About five-foot-eight, maybe a buck fifty. Longer golden hair, olive-green eyes." I should have just said blond hair, green eyes. Missing persons reports are seldom that specific or poetic. What the Hell is wrong with me? "No other identifying marks, no scars or tattoos or anything. At least, nothing that's visible in a T-shirt and jeans."
"So he doesn't know anything?"
"Yeah. We asked. He doesn't remember. Apparently, everything before the hospital is just gone. He's like a walking, talking newborn. No name, no age, no birth date, no memories."
"So you have any ideas on what this Gabriel is?"
"I think angel. Dean disagrees, but he doesn't have any counter-theories. Cas should be able to tell."
"Does Gabriel have any ideas?"
"I asked. He doesn't think he's not human, but he isn't sure."
"So you're bringing him here?"
"Yeah, we're on our way now. Should be another couple of hours." I close my eyes, and suddenly, I'm hit by a bolt of inspiration. "Hey, so I have a question. What do you think about a fallen Trickster or something? A Trickster without his powers?"
Dean finally breaks his silence, although I wish he didn't. I know how it sounds to him. "Wait, really? I thought it was all the one guy, just… just Loki." He can't even bring himself to say Gabriel's name.
"Dean, shut up. Look," I say to Bobby, "yeah, we thought all the Tricksters were actually just one being, but is it possible we were wrong? Maybe he had protégés or something? Maybe…" I gasp softly as I'm hit with another brainwave. "What if all the Tricksters just looked like Loki through some sort of binding magic or something, and once he died, the spell broke or something?" It's certainly within the realm of possibility. He definitely had the power to do something like that. "I mean, he j…" I swallow. "He just died a few weeks ago. So like if the spell broke and took Loki's image and his powers, it could theoretically wipe out all the Tricksters' memories. We should scour other hospitals to find out if there are others with the same thing turning up—blank slates, but perfectly healthy apart from that."
"Now what basis in God's name do you have for thinkin' something like that, boy?"
"Well, he's been eating sugary crap like it's going out of style. The Trickster had a sweet tooth. It's weird—it's the first thing he asked for at the hospital." It's shaky at best, but Bobby decides not to press it.
"Alright. I'll run the checks for you."
"Thanks. Call us if you get any hits." I hang up and pocket my phone, and Dean just can't help himself.
"A 'fallen Trickster'? Really?"
"Dean, shut up."
"Are you trying to pin this back to him, or—"
He knows. He knows that this is eating me up. "Dean, shut up."
"You want him to be a Trickster, don't you? Even a Trickster without his powers. Because then you get to have a little piece of him again, don't you?"
And because somehow, Gabe reminds me of Gabriel, but it doesn't hurt. I can't help but want to believe there's a correlation. "You have Cas. And you didn't get him killed."
"Neither did you."
Part of me knows he's right, that I wasn't the one who plunged that archangel's blade into Gabriel's chest. But I can't help feeling responsible. I freed Lucifer from the cage. So what if Lucifer was the one who actually killed Gabriel? I let Lucifer out; I might as well have just doused Gabriel in holy oil and lit him up right there.
Silence falls again and it stays that way until we finally arrive at Bobby's. Dean cuts the engine and we pop open our doors. I glance into the backseat and Gabe is suddenly awake, perched on the edge of the seat with his arms around his knees, hugging them to his chest. In the moment before he notices I'm watching, I can't help thinking that it's kind of sweet. Then he looks up at me and I open up his door. "You need to come in, too," I say.
He half-nods and slowly slides out of the car. I close the door behind him and lead the way to Bobby's front door. Dean is already inside but Bobby is waiting by the door, looking at me and flat-out staring at Gabe. "Bobby, this is Gabriel. Gabriel, this is Bobby."
Gabe grins at Bobby and holds out his hand for Bobby to shake. Two thinks immediately strike me. One is that, if he is supernatural, he was somehow around humans long enough to pick up handshaking at first meeting. The other is that neither Dean nor I has actually touched Gabe yet, so we don't actually know if it's safe. But it turns out, I don't need to worry. Bobby shakes his hand and nothing happens.
"Thank God you two are back. That freaking angel is starting to get on my last nerve."
I try to contain my laughter. "He talking about Dean again?"
"No, the talking I don't mind. You know Dean never shuts up. But it's the staring." Suddenly, Bobby's doing a really good impersonation of Castiel, opening his eyes wide and tilting his head to the side. It's enough to make me actually start laughing. I finally manage to get it under control and motion for Gabe to follow me.
Dean and Castiel are both in the living room. They're not really talking, but they're looking at each other. I'm fairly certain if a woman as attractive as the vessel Castiel picked was giving him the same look, Dean would have already slept with her by now. I don't think Dean's aware that he's shooting Castiel a nearly identical look, though, and frankly, I'm not going to be the one to tell him. But as soon as we arrive, Castiel immediately tears his eyes from Dean's face and looks right at Gabe. He wastes no time in going right to Gabe and fixing him with his analytical gaze, Dean right behind him.
For a few moments, Castiel studies Gabe's face. Finally, he says, "My name is Castiel. I'm an angel of the Lord."
Gabe just blinks at him for a moment. "Um, hi, buddy. I'm Gabriel. I don't know who or what I am."
Castiel gives him another once-over and then presses his hand to Gabe's forehead. Gabe slips right into a trancelike state, his eyes closing. Castiel's eyes close, too, but more to concentrate than anything. I don't know what exactly Castiel's looking for in Gabe's head, but I'm assuming he knows. After a solid two minutes of this, Castiel finally lifts his hand and Gabe's eyes open. Castiel looks more puzzled than I've ever seen him. "There's nothing there," he says. "Just… empty. Like… like when you rewind a cassette and you get to the very beginning and there's nothing beyond that."
Cassette? He must be picking up more from Dean than we thought. "Do you recognize anything? Feel anything? He has an aura, doesn't he?" I ask.
"Every living thing has an aura," Castiel says matter-of-factly. "I don't know what Gabriel is, but I do know that he's not human."
"Well, that's one mystery cleared up," Dean says snarkily.
Castiel tilts his head to the side, still gazing at Gabe. "I feel as though I have encountered your aura before, but I can't place it."
"An angel, maybe?" I ask. Sure, it's a lot to hope for, but maybe…
But Castiel shakes his head. "No, I would recognize another angel."
"How about a Trickster?"
He thinks it over for a few moments. "I cannot tell. It's possible. Then again, he could be a vampire. I simply cannot tell."
"But I'm definitely not human?" Gabe half-asks.
"Definitely not human."
The next morning, I'm slumped by the kitchen sink with a cup of coffee in my hand. Bobby is pouring one for himself and from the living room, we can hear Castiel and Dean talking. They're not loud enough so we can hear what they're saying, but I do hear Dean's groan of frustration. Suddenly, we hear his footsteps approaching the kitchen and he snaps, "The midget doesn't sleep."
"He was awake for the whole friggin' ride back here. He heard everything."
I'm not really sure why Dean's so upset—it's not like we said anything really offensive. All he probably got out of what he heard was a bit of insight into our personal lives. Honestly, I'm more amused than anything. "Alright, calm down," I say and set my coffee down.
I head into the living room, where Gabe spent the night on the sofa again. "Hungry?" I ask him.
"I could eat."
"Alright. I'll take you to get some breakfast." I have a feeling he wants more sweet stuff and he isn't going to find it here, that's for damn sure. Besides, Dean probably won't be anything but openly hostile toward him.
I sneak past the kitchen where Bobby, Dean, and Castiel are talking. Gabe somehow senses my intent to stay unnoticed and hurries by quickly as well. I've already snagged Dean's keys so there's no reason to draw attention to ourselves. As soon as we get into the Impala, I start it up and put it in reverse.
"Dean let you drive his car?" Gabe asks. From the look on his face, I can tell he knows I didn't exactly ask for permission. He's amused by it, though.
I crack a smile. "Maybe 'let' isn't the right word… But I don't feel like driving Bobby's truck and it's the only other vehicle that runs."
He grins at me. "I think I like you, Sammy Winchester."
I feel my smile slide off my face. Only Dean and Bobby and Dad are the only people I ever let call me Sammy. Gabriel could get away with it once or twice. If anyone else does it, I make sure they don't do it again. "Don't call me Sammy," I say softly.
"Sorry, kiddo." He genuinely does sound apologetic, too, so I can't stay upset for very long. "Why are you being so nice to me? Dean and Castiel—"
"I know. They're treating you like a monster, right? But I know how that feels. I mean, being Lucifer's true vessel kind of does that. Makes you feel like a monster. But I don't want you to feel lonely. You're all alone right now—who knows if you even have family?"
He grins a bit, but I can tell it's forced. "So I guess Bobby's missing-persons search didn't turn anything up?"
"Out of all the missing persons in the country, not one is a five-foot-eight, hundred-and-fifty pound Caucasian man with green eyes, blond hair, and no distinguishing features. It's pretty amazing, actually. I thought for sure we would have gotten at least one hit, but it's like there's no one like you anywhere." Or, if he does have a family, they haven't reported him missing yet.
"There probably isn't," he jokes. I feel a smile threatening to cross my face and I wonder if he's doing this on purpose—trying to keep me laughing or smiling. I don't honestly know why he would, but it's comforting to know that someone, at least, wants me happy. Even if he is a potentially supernatural being of unknown origin. Maybe it isn't fair to Dean and Bobby, but sometimes I just want to forget about all this hunting crap—at least for a few minutes—and just laugh.
During breakfast, he keeps up a steady stream of jokes. It's pretty obvious now that, yes, he's trying to keep me happy. I'm particularly amused when he points out that Dean and Castiel tend to stare at each other like a couple of horny teenagers. Grateful for the reprieve, I don't mind when he finally asks, "So. What's a Trickster?"
Frankly, I expected this question since Dean told us that he heard everything. Of course he'd have questions. "It's this creature that likes to play pranks on people. Sometimes it'll find a… bad person, I guess, and punish them by killing them in an ironic sort of way. Like…" I think for an example and finally come up with one. "Okay, the first time we ran into one, he was a janitor at this college. There was a professor there who had affairs with female students, and the Trickster didn't like it, so he created this girl who was supposedly a student of his, only she wasn't. She was based on this local legend of a girl who actually was having an affair with a professor and jumped out of window after he ended it. The legend was just a legend, though. Not real. Anyway, the professor and this illusion got a little… into it, I guess, and he ended up taking a swan dive out of his office window, too. Like the punishment fits the crime, that kind of thing. He doesn't always kill people, though. Like… right after we met this one, he also had this hazing college student abducted by aliens and put through basically what he put the pledges at his fraternity through. And this other time, he turned me into a car." I decide at the last second to tell him that and he grins.
"I'm sure you had a lot of junk in your trunk," he jokes. I can't help laughing even though it's a really bad joke.
"He likes pranks and mischief, and if you're a good person, they're mostly harmless, or at least don't cause permanent damage. He did kill Dean over a hundred times during this time loop thing he set up and threw me into."
"Sounds like there's only one of them."
"It seemed like it. Hunters have been 'killing' him for years because we thought there were a bunch, but apparently there was only the one. Dean and I were the first to encounter him more than once and he had the same form. But… but now I'm thinking they were all set up by Loki to look like him and there really were hundreds of them after all."
"And how does Loki tie into that? I mean, a Norse god? Sounds a little dramatic." He wiggles his eyebrows.
I half-smile. "Tricksters are demigods. They all have—had—Loki's form." Even now, it still hurts to remember that he's gone. "We think he was the original, the mastermind, the one who started it. And when he was killed, whatever spell or whatever it was that made all those people look like him, gave them his powers, we think it wore off and all the former Tricksters are returning to their original forms." I say "we," but I really mean "me." I haven't discussed any of this with Dean or Bobby but it makes sense to me. "Without their memories or powers, of course, but with a kind of imprint on them, which explains how you don't remember anything, don't have any powers, and don't look like anything we've ever encountered before."
He mulls this over. "So there's a dead Norse god and a dead archangel. That's pretty impressive. What killed Loki?"
I hesitate for a moment. "Lucifer."
"Lucifer killed Loki and Gabriel? I would like to amend my previous statement. He is a massive dick."
There's a dull aching in my chest. I don't even want to think about this. But Gabe's huge golden-green eyes are fixed on me and I don't know why, but it comforts me. "Loki and Gabriel were the same being, actually. He was Gabriel the archangel first. Then he left Heaven, left his brothers to their fighting, and reinvented himself as the Norse god Loki. Then, as far as we can figure, after the pagan religions started dying, he reinvented himself again as the Trickster and started creating other Tricksters."
"Still doesn't make Lucifer any less of a massive dick."
"I agree with you there."
As I cut a bite of my omelet, Gabe suddenly asks, "What's 'Angel Radio'?"
I nearly choke. "What?"
"Yesterday, in the car. You and Dean were talking about someone named Anna who had 'Angel Radio' in her head. What is it?"
"Oh." I forgot we talked about that. "Um, well, angels have their own language. Enochian. And since Anna had been an angel but didn't realize it, she could understand it, so she could hear angels talking. It got her locked up with a case of the crazies."
He looks about ready to burst into laughter when I say that, but he doesn't.
It isn't until we're back in the car on the way back to Bobby's that he asks another deep question. "What happens when Tricksters die?"
I'm not quite sure what he means. "Their bodies dissolve?" I half-ask.
He shakes his head. "I mean, do they go somewhere else, like Heaven or Hell, or are they just gone?"
I'm not prepared for that kind of question. We really don't know what happens when the ghosts we salt and burn are taken care of. We know the demons go to Hell, but apart from that… "I don't know. I mean, I assume a lot of the things we kill either go to Hell or just stop existing, but I don't know for sure. Cas would probably know better than me."
He nods as I pull up in front of Bobby's house. Suddenly, Dean is dashing out the front door, yelling obscenities. Understandably, he's upset that I took the Impala without permission which isn't to say he would have given me permission had I asked. I guess he's also angry because Gabe vanished with me. From what I understand, he thought Gabe had kidnapped me, which is actually kind of funny. It's not like I'm not eight inches taller than the guy with probably a solid seventy-five pounds on him. Besides, as far as we know, he doesn't know how to drive, anyway. The whole idea is laughable and as Bobby gets Dean calmed down and back in the house, I give Gabe a quick wink.
Dean, Castiel, and I dig up a hunt a few days later. It's a routine salt-and-burn so it's mindless work. It really just makes me want to get back to Bobby and Gabe although I'm not sure why. Even the night it gets really dicey with the ghost throwing stuff at us—including a freaking desk—I still just want to get the job over with. Not to have it finished, although that's still the goal, but I want to get back. It feels like something is pulling me back to that place.
We head right back the next morning. Since Castiel flies off to do only God knows what, Dean and I have to drive back, which is fine because I've sat through so many long drives that they don't faze me anymore. He pops back in when we're about an hour out, though, so we ride the rest of the way together. I'm not really prepared for what happens when we finally do arrive, though.
Right as we're finally getting some well-deserved food in our stomachs, Gabe says with absolutely no warning, "I wanna help."
"With what?" I ask after a few moments. Dean and I had just stared at him for a moment, trying to figure out what he's talking about.
"Hunting. Averting Armageddon. Whatever it is you're doing," he explains. His eyes never leave mine, and I can't stop looking at him. I wonder if this feeling, this sensation of someone looking right into your soul is the same thing that Dean feels every time he makes eye contact with Castiel. I'd never ask him, though. But then I feel stupid. This can't be the same thing—Gabe isn't an angel. We don't even know what he is, I remind myself. But Castiel is sure he's not an angel. "I don't need to eat or sleep. I'm pretty much ideal for working nonstop—plus I can't just flutter off whenever I feel like it."
I trust him. In that moment, I know that I trust him beyond a doubt. There aren't many people in the world that I trust. In fact, there's only four: Dean, Bobby, Castiel, and Gabe. I look at Dean. "Couldn't hurt. Who knows? He might be pretty handy with a weapon."
Dean eyes Gabe suspiciously. "I don't know. Bobby, what do you think?"
"I think that the more people we have working on this, the better. Especially one that only requires a steady stream of sugar to keep working. I mean, I've tried pretty much every test I can think of on him, short of actually ramming a wooden stake through his chest, and it's not setting off any flags."
I think Dean would have been okay if Bobby actually had tried ramming a wooden stake through his chest. He glares at Gabe for a few more moments before he finally sighs. "Alright, but I'm not teaching him how to shoot. Someone else can do it."
With Gabe's eyes on Dean, I'm able to notice something strange about the little guy. "Gabe, have you even changed your clothes this past week?"
He shrugs. "I guess not. I don't have anything else, though."
"Alright, fine. First thing tomorrow, we're getting you some more clothes. You can't wear the same thing every day."
He looks down at the borrowed shirt and jeans and back up, as if to say, "What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" Honestly, I'm getting a bit too much of the "oblivious angel" vibe from him suddenly. I get enough of it with Castiel and all of his awkward formalness. With Gabe, it almost seems unnatural. He should know better, I think.
"Normal people change their clothes every day," I say simply. Dean scoffs next to me and I roll my eyes. "Alright," I amend, "almost every day." Dean scoffs again. "Alright. More than once a week." Another scoff. I know what he's thinking, too—he's remembering the several trips where we ended up wrecking the two or three changes of clothes we had and ended up wearing the same clothes for nearly two straight weeks. Those are completely different circumstances, though. Gabe was here the whole time with Bobby. There's no reason for him not to at least put on a different shirt.
So the next day, the four of us—Dean, Gabe, Castiel, and I—go to the mall. Dean, inexplicably, decided that Castiel needs a wardrobe change, too. I have a feeling, though, that it has more to do with the fact that he doesn't want to leave me alone with Gabe, and he'd feel weird if it was just the three of us. Really, though, he could have just stayed at home. It's not like Gabe is going to try to hurt me. But Dean isn't going to let me drive the Impala again, not after the stunt I pulled that morning I took Gabe to breakfast, so I let him have his little delusion. One thing I've learned from all this is to pick my battles with him.
We make the mistake of walking in through the food court. Almost immediately, Gabe zeroes right in on the IHOP Express. I'm pretty sure we've created an addiction with that one. Fortunately, he allows himself to be dragged away, but when he openly gawks at the candy machines, I have to sigh in a resigned sort of amusement. Because I know what he's about to ask when he turns those big, beautiful, golden-green eyes on me, I automatically dig out some change and get him some Runts. One by one, he starts popping them in his mouth, smiling the whole time.
"Okay, where to first?" Dean asks Castiel. They both look a little overwhelmed.
"I'm… not sure," Castiel answers slowly. They look around at all the stores and Castiel's eyes go even wider than normal.
"Look," I suggest, "why don't you take Cas and I'll take Gabe? We can meet back here in an hour, okay?" There's no reason Dean needs to worry about leaving Gabe and me by ourselves. He isn't going to hurt me. I just know it.
"Yeah, but…" Dean's mentally flailing. I think the mall scares him a little bit. "I don't know where to go."
I try to sound soothing. "Abercrombie & Fitch? I don't know, just walk around, and figure out what wouldn't make him look like an alien. If you get completely lost, call me." We have to get out of there now, so I quickly motion for Gabe to follow me. He cottons on and hurries after me.
"Bye!" he calls back to Dean and Castiel. "Where are we going?" he asks me.
"You look like a Buckle type of guy."
"Buckle jeans. And Spencer shirts." I have to make sure I keep him out of the eighteen and over section in the back, though. I have a feeling I'll never get him away from the candy panties. And then I wonder.
If, somehow, he actually is human, then someone must have loved him. Someone must have looked at him with adoration and love, held him close, laughed at his stupid jokes. I feel a deep aching in my chest again that I realize a moment later is jealousy. Only I don't think it's Gabe that I'm jealous of.
"I want that," Gabe says, snapping me out of my reverie. He points at a display and I follow his line of sight to a leather jacket in the window.
"Yeah, somehow I figured you would." He seems like a leather-jacket type of guy, too. I sigh again and follow him into the store.
He makes a beeline right for the jackets that match the one in the window and just grabs the first one. He slides it on and I have to stifle my laughter. The jacket he picked would probably fit me. I have no idea why he grabbed it. "What?" he asks with an affronted look.
"You look a little ridiculous."
He huffs in indignation. He's not giving me this one, but that's okay. He almost looks adorable, wearing a jacket that he's practically swimming in. The sleeves completely cover his hands. I grab a smaller size from a different rack behind him and say, "Here, try this."
I've eyeballed his size perfectly. When the first jacket comes off and the second goes on, it hugs him just right. My mouth goes a bit dry but I ignore it and check the jacket from all angles. And that's when I get a good look at the back.
I just grabbed a jacket at random. I didn't inspect the damn thing before I gave it to him. My heart speeds up a bit when I see that there's a pair of wings stitched onto the jacket. Not just any wings, though. These look like angel wings. Not that I've ever seen an actual set of angel wings before. Not living ones, anyway. I've seen what happens to angels when they die, though. Their wings burst into flames and leave scorch marks beneath their lifeless vessels. I've seen those wings.
I've heard archangels have bigger wings than other angels. They're just bigger in general. I wonder what Gabriel's wings looked like, how big the ash outline was when he died. I wish I'd gotten to see them for real before Lucifer killed him. Actually, I wish Lucifer hadn't killed him.
"Yeah, looks good," I say to Gabe. The jacket fits him. There's no reason not to get it."
"Yes, yes, yes!" he says excitedly, staring at his reflection. "Can I get it?"
I laugh softly. There was really no other option.
I convince the cashier to ring up the jacket while Gabe's still wearing it. He wears it out, pulling off the tags as we go. Looking satisfied, he peers up at me. "So, I used to be a Trickster."
"That's what I'm thinking."
"So what do Tricksters look like?"
I can't resist a smart-ass response. "Like the archangel Gabriel."
He rolls his eyes. "Well yeah, but I mean, what did he look like?"
It still hasn't been that long since he died. I try not to think about him too much. All the memories I have of him are strange, anyway. It almost feels surreal, like it didn't really happen. But I know it did because Dean and Bobby and Castiel all remember it, too. But when I think back to it, there's a strange sort of sheen over those memories. I heave a sigh. "He was tall—taller than me. Dark hair, dark eyes. He almost looked Italian. But he was really thin, too. It was weird." He had eyes that could practically see through you, too. Tall and thin and elegant, but there was something strange about it. We should have sensed it from the beginning, from the day we met him. Not that it would have mattered, I suppose.
Gabe wrinkles his nose. I suddenly wonder if the reason he felt drawn to the name Gabriel was because he was a Trickster. They may have known about his true identity and that part of him is still embedded in him. "Wish I still looked like that, then," he says.
I don't really know how to answer, but I'm spared further questioning when he stops in front of another store, staring into the display. His eyes get wider and wider.
"Oh, God, how did I know?" I sigh.
"We're supposed to be getting you clothes. Not feeding your sugar addiction."
"Please?" he pleads. I can't say no to him, not with him looking at me like that.
"Okay," I say with a sigh, and I follow him into the Ghirardelli store.
He starts buzzing around the store, throwing wrapped-up pieces of chocolate into a paper bag and, in general, behaving just like a five-year-old hopped up on sugar. The phrase "like a Trickster in a candy store" comes to mind, and I'm unable to hold back a chuckle. When he finally fills up the bag, he's grinning all over the place and damned if it's not the best thing I've seen all day, maybe all week. Possibly all month.
I make him wait to start munching until after we're out of the store, but the moment we pass the doors, he's tearing into it like it's going out of style. Fortunately, this has distracted him and made him more compliant. I'm able to finally drag him off to Buckle and find three pairs of jeans that fit him in the space of about fifteen minutes. I don't want to spend that much time checking out his ass to see if the jeans fit, so I hurry him out of the store and to Spencer's to get a whole bunch of obnoxious shirts that I'm sure he loves.
I realize as we leave Spencer's that he needs new shoes, too. He keeps nearly slipping out of the ones we gave him weeks ago. So I bring him to Journey's and turn him loose. He finally grabs a pair of Macbeth shoes and, at the last minute, some glow-in-the-dark shoelaces to go with them.
As it turns out, Dean and Castiel made out with the angel's new wardrobe pretty well. Admittedly, Castiel looks very uncomfortable in a new pair of jeans and a button-down flannel shirt, but it's definitely better than a business suit and trench coat. I'm actually quite impressed with how Dean dressed up his little angel, but I get the feeling Castiel will be changing right back into his suit the moment we get back to Bobby's place.
Gabe leads the way back to the Impala. Just as I remember what's on the back of his jacket, Dean sighs. "Really, Sam? Did you have to?" Don't we have enough weird stuff going on in our lives without this? his tone seems to say.
Gabe turns to look at us. "What?"
"Your jacket," Dean practically spits.
"What about it?" When Dean doesn't answer except to sigh and shake his head, Gabe checks the front and then the back. He sees the wings but simply shrugs.
"Did they find any meteor fragments where they found me?" Gabe asks me a few days later. He's sucking on a cherry Jolly Rancher. I can smell it from ten feet away. He's been plowing through them.
"No, I don't think so, but apparently someone got footage of what looks like a meteor falling to Earth and landing basically where you were found. We got a copy, but…"
"But?" he prods.
"It doesn't really look like any meteor I've ever seen."
"What do you mean?"
Deciding that I can't really explain it myself, I pull up the video and turn my laptop so he can see the screen. "Just look."
I've seen this video about a hundred times now. I practically have it memorized. There's just the night sky, black with stars and treetops still in the frame. Then the crack and the flash of light and the meteor falling. Then a thud as the meteor touches down. It's started to make me flinch, that thud. That's the meteor hitting Gabe. What if he didn't know he'd survive? Was he terrified when he saw that rock hurtling toward him? Did he think he was going to die?
Then I hear that girl's voice, telling Eric to call the cops and the sound of static.
Gabe leas back in his seat and lets out a low whistle. "That's intense."
"Doesn't look like a meteor, though, right?"
"Right. Well, maybe we go back? See if we can find something there?"
I shake my head. "Dean and I scoured every inch of that place. There was nothing there. Maybe someone picked it up already, but when we went there to look it over, there was nothing but a crater."
I want to say something else, but Dean enters the living room with something for Gabe. He announces, "Since you're basically part of our team now, Sam and I figured you'd need this." He drops the faked driver's license and scammed credit card on the table next to Gabe, and Gabe picks them up, looking them over. After a moment, he grins at Dean. "You teaching me how to drive?"
"Yeah, no, definitely not. I would not trust you behind the wheel of a car."
"How'd you come up with Richard, anyway?"
"Hell, I don't know, we just picked a name, okay? What, do you not like it or something?"
Gabe shrugs. "It's fine. I just wondered, that's all."
Dean scoffs, fed up with Gabe already. I guess I'm just a little more tolerant of him because I don't mind spending time with him. He crunches through his Jolly Rancher and holds up his license next to his face. "Well, at least it's a good picture," he says.
"Yeah. We're gonna get you an FBI badge and a few others, too. Hopefully you can fake a fed better than Cas can. He can be a bit oblivious at times."
"That whole angel thing?"
"Yeah. He doesn't understand the necessity of deception sometimes."
Gabe nods and starts watching the video of the meteor falling again. The next interruption is Bobby, with Dean and Castiel right behind him. I was right about Castiel, too—he changed right back into his suit the moment we came back.
"Found you another job," Bobby says. "Another Lucifer sighting." He glances at Gabe. "Maybe you shouldn't bring him along, though."
"I can handle it," Gabe says. "Besides, Castiel is coming, isn't he?"
"I can't be responsible for your safety," Castiel says solemnly.
I have a feeling that isn't what Gabe meant, but he skims past it. "Hey, listen, we can't even figure out what I really am. If I get… ganked or whatever, how big of a loss is it? I mean, really?"
Dean doesn't like agreeing with something supernatural, especially when we don't even know what exactly it is. Still, as uncomfortable as he is, he does concur with Gabe. "As crazy and unbalanced as it sounds, I have to agree."
I don't want Gabe in trouble. I just have this feeling that, if it came down to it, I would go out of my way to protect him. Not that he needs protection, because he can handle firearms really well. And wooden stakes. And silver knives. He used to be a fighter, whatever he was. He fought, he battled, he was a soldier. He gets that same look in his eye when there's a weapon in his hand, the same look that Dad always got. He had a mission and he was going to take something down. Gabe gets that look, too, even without something to fight.
I want to see what he can do, and that wins out.
"If you can't hack it, if no one is around to bail your ass out, your death is a very likely possibility."
He shrugs. This blatant disregard for his own wellbeing is something Gabriel—the archangel—was trying to teach out of Dean and me, but it never quite took. It's what got Gabe into this mess with us in the first place. It's what will make him a great addition to Team Free Will. "Okay. Then fine. I say yes."
Gabe grins like I just told him he could have the keys to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.
We need to get more intelligence before we actually go hunting down Lucifer, so we call in the one demon who knows more about what's up down below than any other. Summoning Crowley is just part of another day for us.
Gabe recoils slightly when Crowley appears in the living room and for the life of me, I can't figure out why. It's not like Castiel doesn't pop in and out randomly. But Crowley zeroes right in on Gabe and smirks.
"What's this, boys? Got yourself a new member of Team Free Will?"
"Yeah, and?" I snap instinctively, moving closer to Gabe in case I need to defend him.
Crowley makes no move, though, apart from narrowing his eyes at Gabe. "But what the Hell are you?"
Dean looks annoyed. "Great, even you don't know. Wonderful. Well, we were hoping you might be able to help us—"
"The great angel Castiel won't tell you?" Crowley asks sarcastically.
"I don't know what he is." Castiel refuses to rise to the bait. For all of his obliviousness, it also seems to translate into patience.
"So, recruit, what's your name?"
Crowley raises his eyebrows. "Named after the recently-deceased archangel? Nasty. How've you been doing with that, by the way, Sammy?"
I glance at Gabe for a moment to gauge his reaction before looking back at Crowley. "Screw you," I spit.
Crowley laughs and suddenly, I hear a thud. I spin and see Gabe on the floor, eyes closed but rolling underneath his eyelids. "What did you do to him?!" I demand, grabbing Crowley by his jacket.
"I didn't do a thing to whatever he is. Get your filthy hands off me, Winchester," Crowley growls. He jerks himself out of my grip and straightens his suit. "It's not my fault you picked up one of the defective ones. Maybe you should send him back." With one last murderous glance around, he snaps his fingers and disappears.
"Balls," Bobby mutters, looking pissed-off as well.
I sink to my knees next to Gabe and put my hands on his shoulders. "Gabe? Gabe, wake up!"
"Sam, that might not be—" Bobby starts, but I ignore him.
His eyes fly open. Relief floods through me. I slowly help him to his feet and he rubs his chest. Anxiously, I check him for outward signs of damage.
"What happened?" he asks.
"Did he do something to you? It… For a second, it looked like you were possessed."
"I don't think he had anything to do with it. Where did he go? What happened?"
"Looked like a seizure," Dean said. "Your eyes rolled back and you dropped." He looks at Castiel. "Can you…?"
Castiel obligingly presses his hand to Gabe's forehead again. After about thirty seconds, he pulls his hand away, looking stunned. "When did you see Lucifer?" he asks.
When he saw Lucifer? He saw—?
"I don't know, okay? When I saw him—"
"Lucifer? You saw Lucifer?"
"Briefly. I know I saw more but it vanished. I don't know what else to tell you."
I sigh. "Great." I don't like the idea that Lucifer is somehow in Gabe's head. Something weird is going on. Weird even for us.
"You know," Gabe says suddenly, "I bet that mutton-head douche nozzle did do something to me." There's anger in his voice, pure rage, but what he says makes me laugh. He visibly relaxes when I laugh, though.
Dean asks, "You mean Lucifer or Crowley? Because if Lucifer—"
"I meant Crowley." Gabe sighs and runs his fingers through his hair. "I just really wish I knew what was going on." Yeah, join the club. He looks almost sad now. He murmurs, "Maybe I should just sit this one out. Until I get a better idea of what I really am, you know?"
Dean nods. "Yeah, I guess so."
I know he's right, too, and part of me is relieved that he isn't going to be immediately in harm's way. Still, I know he's disappointed. He wanted to be a part of this fight.
Head down, he leaves the house through the back door and goes to wander through the piles of cars.
Bobby starts clearing up the materials for summoning Crowley. Dean and Castiel leave to do who knows what—probably stare at each other some more and make me really happy I'm not in the same room as them. I glance up every few seconds through the window to see if Gabe's in sight. Finally, I hear Bobby sigh. "Just go find him, okay? Make sure he's not in trouble."
I give him a half-smile. He knows me too well. I head out the back door, too, and start navigating the sea of wrecks.
I finally see him sitting against a stack of cars. His golden hair catches the light perfectly and I just know that, whatever he is, he's special. "Gabe?" I call softly.
He looks at me and the disappointment and frustration is written all over his face. "Hey," he murmurs, hugging his knees to his chest again.
"How are you doing?"
"I'm… I'm okay I guess."
"What happened in there?"
"You know what happened."
"I mean, what did you see?"
"Lucifer. I don't know, I just feel like I knew him. He was important. I don't know how."
That thought scares me a bit. He knew Lucifer. That can only be a bad thing. "You'll remember eventually," I say, attempting to sound reassuring.
"I'm not so sure."
"You already remembered Lucifer. That was more than you knew when we first met you, right?"
He nods slowly, starting to look a little hopeful again. "Yeah, I guess." His eyes seem to light up. I can't look away. God help me, but he's beautiful.
"It'll be okay, Gabe. You'll remember. I'm sure of it."
He nods again and I can't help wrapping my arm around him. He leans into me and the feeling of his weight against me is more comforting than I expected. "What if I don't, though?" he asks.
"You will," I say softly. I turn his head to mine.
I swear I only mean to make him look at me, to reassure him, to convince him. I have to make sure he knows that I believe in him. And I do—I believe he'll remember what happened to him. But our eyes meet and those eyes of his are so beautiful and golden—everything about him is golden—and I just can't resist. I give him a light kiss, just brushing my lips to his, and I don't know why, but it feels like what I'm supposed to be doing. I've messed up so many things in my life, but right now, this feels like I'm doing exactly what I should be.
"Sammy," he breathes, pulling back.
Oh, God, this isn't good. He hates me. I screwed up. I swallow my panic. "What?"
"I remember… something. That footage. Let me see it again."
We scramble to our feet and sprint back inside. I dig out my laptop and find the video. I hit play and watch with him. When the meteor appears onscreen, a look of comprehension crosses his face.
"What?" I ask.
"That's not a meteor."
It's not? "Do you know what it is?"
He hits pause and points at the screen. "That's me."
I hope you don't think it's complete rubbish...