Author's note: Thanks so much to Larakfree, Maknatuna, Heaven's Eagle, Maddy Love Castiel, RachelPhobia, CherylB1964, FireChildSlytherin5, Pizzapig, FictionalNutter, Yana5, Keefer, Nikkilouise, Riceball-1989, witch20, XxZessxX, Lovely Rain Dancer, admirerfromafar, kb18142 and one guest for last chapter's reviews!
I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who ever read, reviewed and favorited this story. You're all awesome people and the reason why I keep writing even on days when I'm not feeling so hot. :-)
Hope to see you all once my new animal!AU goes online! (The title will be "putting the pigeon among the cats")
"Gabriel!" the little girl yelled happily, jumping into the archangel's arms.
Gabriel smiled widely, catching her and spinning them both around a couple of times before he set her back down.
"Hey kiddo," the archangel replied, patting the girl's head before he took her offered hand and let her drag him toward the backyard of her house. They had been through that routine often enough that he knew exactly what was going to happen, but that didn't keep him from enjoying his visit.
Finding Callie's Heaven hadn't been half as hard as Gabriel had feared it might be and he couldn't say that he was all too surprised that the girl was living in an endless birthday party for the time being. At least in this version of her memory her entire family as well as all her friends were around, there were games to be played and cake to be eaten and of course there was that one thing that seemed to be most important to the young girl.
"Daddy rented a pony for me!" Callie exclaimed excitedly, pointing toward the animal that was currently feeding on some hay.
She informed the archangel about that little detail with the same kind of enthusiasm every single time he was visiting her, but Gabriel saw no reason not to play along. The great thing about Heaven was that it was like an endless dream, suspension of disbelieve included. The things people did and didn't remember very much depended on their own preferences, as did the way time passed for them or the selection of the memories they were going to live through again. Of course, the entire thing was steered by the subconscious mind for most people. There were however very few who had managed to catch on to how these things were working and who had conscious control over the way their own personal Heaven looked.
The archangel couldn't deny that he had been happy that Callie had recognized him immediately when he had first found her, but he was just as happy that she didn't seem to remember where she knew him from. The good impression he had obviously left with her had stuck, but the awful circumstances hadn't.
"Wow, that's awesome!" Gabriel stated in an awed tone, "I'm so jealous, I've always wanted a pony."
The delighted expression on the girl's face never failed to make the archangel feel pretty damn good about himself. Actually, just seeing her happy and carefree was enough to do that.
"You can ride it later," Callie promised, "It has to eat now."
Gabriel nodded dutifully and allowed the girl to show him around and introduce him to a few people she thought he should know. In fact, he knew who most of them were already, but one of the things that always changed whenever he visited was who exactly Callie thought was worth introducing that day and what stories she was going to tell about them later on.
After a while the girl felt that she had to get back to her friends and to the pony, so Gabriel took a seat at one of the garden benches around and simply leaned back to watch. This time around he didn't get the peace and quiet he got at that point most of the time, however.
"Of all the Heavens, you always visit this one," Michael pointed out, sitting next to his brother on the bench.
Gabriel shrugged, looking over to the other archangel, prompting him to go on talking. He obviously had meant to say something more with the statement, so he should just go ahead and speak his mind.
"Are you feeling that guilty about her death?" Michael asked, cocking his head in imitation of the gesture Castiel was so fond of whenever he didn't understand something. Yes, the leader of all angels in Heaven was copying gestures from one of the little brothers he hadn't even bothered to get to know until a few weeks earlier.
"There was nothing I could have done differently under the circumstances, so there is nothing to feel guilty about," Gabriel answered with a small smile. It had taken a while until he had been able to fully convince himself of that, but his children and Sam had helped him with that. Seeing for himself that Callie really was doing great in Heaven had helped as well.
Michael nodded satisfied and looked around himself, taking the scene that was new to him in completely. He had been in contact with Castiel and Gabriel frequently during the past weeks and he had made great progress with reaching out toward the other angels, but he had yet to make contact to any humans. Not that he was in a hurry to make that happen. One step at a time.
"If you're here already," Gabriel spoke after allowing his brother some time to simply process the scene before his eyes, "What's our official opinion on nephilim?"
There was no doubt what his own personal opinion on the topic was and always would be, but knowing for sure how Michael was going to handle these matters in the name of Heaven would be good. He had to know if he still had to keep his children away from the other angels, after all. Especially now that at least Fenrir and Hel had expressed an interest in seeing Heaven and getting into contact with a few more of their aunts and uncles.
"The power they hold due to their parentage makes them dangerous. Creating them cannot be encouraged," the oldest archangel answered seriously, before he amended, "However, recent revelations have brought it to my attention that nephilim have the same potential for good and evil as the rest of us and so I am thinking that every case has to be judged individually."
Gabriel looked back at his brother astonished before he patted his shoulder proudly. He really had come a long way already
"Having cleared that up, I would like to meet my niece and nephews," Michael added a moment later, "Castiel speaks of them very fondly."
In fact, Castiel was splitting his time between accompanying Dean and Sam on hunts, spending time with his niece and nephews and organizing things in Heaven with Michael these days. Gabriel joined them ever so often, but he seemed less willing to commit great portions of his time to the cause, so Michael and Castiel were mostly working together as a pair. The oldest archangel had to admit that the seraph could give him very valuable insights into a great many things and even when their talks were purely personal for a while Castiel had a lot of interesting things to share. As much as his two younger brothers enjoyed being around their humans and their family, Michael couldn't help wishing that he could do the same, even though he wanted to direct his attention toward his heavenly brothers and sisters mostly for now.
"Pretty sure that can be arranged," Gabriel agreed. Hel and Fenrir wouldn't need much convincing to come along to Heaven to meet their uncle some time soon. Jörmungandr would want to accompany them on the second visit the latest for sure, if he didn't decide that he wanted to come along immediately just to make sure he could keep a watchful eye on Michael.
"Hi," Callie suddenly addressed the oldest archangel, "Who are you?"
She wasn't afraid of the newcomer in the slightest, but since there were only people she knew around she was curious to learn who he was.
"That's Michael, he's my brother," Gabriel answered when his brother didn't show any signs of wanting to introduce himself, "Michael, meet Callie, she's the birthday girl."
It was perfect timing that Sam chose to contact his partner that exact moment to let him know that Dean was taking Castiel to a bar and that he was alone at the motel and had the evening off. Gabriel grinned mischievously when he stood up and put a hand on Michael's shoulder.
"Sweetheart, I'm sorry, but I'll have to go," the archangel told the little girl, "Sammy is all alone at home and he can't go to sleep when I'm not putting him to bed."
Gabriel couldn't be sure, but he thought that the corners of Michael's mouth twitched. He was pretty sure that there'd be a completely different expression on his older brother's face the moment he finished his little joke, however.
"I'll see you soon," the archangel promised seriously before he gave Michael a light shove and added, "I'm sure Mikey will like to ride the pony instead of me."
The somewhat panicked look on the oldest archangel's face when the little girl squealed delighted and pulled on his hand to get him to come to the pony with her was enough for Gabriel to break into a fit of laughter that lasted until he had already landed on Earth.
"I visited Callie earlier," Gabriel stated, drawing mostly meaningless Enochian symbols all over the younger Winchester's naked chest. They had been lip locked pretty much the entire time since he had appeared at the motel room, so there hadn't been much talking involved. Being cuddled up on the bed happy and satisfied gave them the perfect opportunity to discuss how their days had been, however.
Sam propped his head up to look Gabriel in the eye but didn't say anything. It didn't sound like he was meant to reply, anyway. At the start, mentioning the girl had made the archangel sad. The younger Winchester had always been quick to reassure him that he had done the right thing and that she was probably better off in Heaven during those times. Luckily, it had turned out that he had been right and Gabriel had gone from sad over mentions of the girl to just casually talking about the last time he had visited her.
"No worries, Samsquatch, I am not ready to share you with a kid," the archangel added with a small smirk. He knew that the thought hadn't been on his partner's mind before he had brought it up, but that was part of the fun.
"That's good to know," Sam replied, clearing his throat. He would be lying if he said that the thought of having a more domestic life with Gabriel had never crossed his mind, but he had never seriously considered it all the same. In fact, he wasn't sure if he was even ready to consider it just yet.
Things were working perfectly the way they were and even though Gabriel's children were adults and had been for a long time they still talked about them as 'the kids' and they had too much fun speaking of uncle Dean. So, in a way, they already had their family together, anyway.
"Besides, there's the chance you'd never get your figure back," the archangel commented casually, drawing lazy circles around Sam's belly button.
It obviously took a moment until what he had just heard sunk in, but when it did the younger Winchester looked completely scandalized. When Gabriel started laugh loudly and heartily it only took one moment for that look to transform into one of his completely not amused bitchfaces.
"That's not funny!" Sam ground out, nearly throwing the archangel off him with a hard shove against his shoulder. Stupid jokes were something he had had to get used to having Gabriel around as much as he did, but that didn't mean that he had to take everything without telling the archangel exactly how unfunny whatever he had just said or done was.
"The comment? No," Gabriel agreed before he laughed again and added "The look on your face? Oh yes!"
"Let's see how funny you think it is when I cut you off for a week or two," the younger Winchester threatened, trying to withdraw from the archangel which wasn't that easy since Gabriel was still half on top of him. Not that Sam was putting up that much of a fight to begin with.
"I'm sorry," the archangel mumbled against his partner's neck, nibbling on it the way he knew made him melt every time, "And I won't do it again."
Sam huffed out a laugh. It was a lie and they both knew it. Gabriel could no more stop making stupid jokes like that than he could keep himself from playing mostly harmless pranks on Dean whenever he annoyed him. Even though the younger Winchester wouldn't say it out loud, he was okay with that, too. All these things were a part of who Gabriel was and Sam loved him for it. It helped that the archangel was too good at turning his brain to mush so that he could never stay mad at him.
Later that night, when they were once more lying side by side, the younger Winchester closed his eyes, feeling the archangel's warm breaths against his neck, allowing the warmth and contentment to lull him to sleep.
All in all, Sam's life hadn't changed that much. They were still killing things, saving people, the family business. The family had become considerably bigger however and there was no doubt that that was a good thing.