AN: I'm so sorry about how long this took! I find Sabriel much harder to write than Destiel, for some reason, but I wanted to do something nice for all my awesome followers and reviewers, so I persisted. I'm very glad that I made it in time for April Fool's Day, at least. Today should definitely be renamed Gabriel's Day, or Trickster's Day. :-D This chapter isn't M-rated, but the next one will be. You're welcome. ;-)
Gabriel only had four wings left. This was why he'd had to relearn how to fly. Once, he'd been the best aerial acrobat in the entire Host, the envy of every other angel in the skies. Now, he was all but grounded, and flying was a chore rather than his favourite hobby. He had to remind himself every single day that he was lucky he still had four wings, that he wasn't completely grounded like Lucifer, or a Fallen angel. Still, his wings hung limply from his shoulders. At the time, he'd understood what he was doing, and he'd believed that it was the right thing to do. He'd been decided, determined.
He'd never thought he'd find somebody special, who might want to see him like this. Would he have made a different decision, if he'd known? Well, there was no point in wondering that now. He was glad he had his back turned to Sam. He didn't want to see the disgust on his face, or the pity. He didn't want Sam to see his tears. Gabe flinched when strong arms wrapped firmly around him from behind, pulling him against a broad, muscular chest. "You lied about your wings, Gabe. They are definitely not 'a boring shade of brown'. They're gorgeous. An eagle would be green with envy at the sight of them." He was right about that, Gabriel's wings were incredibly beautiful.
The feathers nearest to the shoulders, the Scapulars, were a pure, metallic gold. The shorter feathers on the leading edge of each wing, the Marginal Coverts, were a pale honey-brown, with golden tips. The small feathers where the wings bent, the Alulae, were pure white. The medium-length feathers in the middle of each wing, the Primary and Secondary Coverts, were a rich, chocolate brown. The end of each one had about a dozen fine gold bars, bright and metallic. The much longer feathers on the lower half of each wing, the Primaries and the Secondaries, were a far darker, coffee brown. These had prominent gold bars, and pitch black tips. The Tertiaries were pitch black, with fine gold speckles.
Gabriel shuddered, tensely waiting for Sam to say something, to ask about what had happened, but the Hunter said nothing. Sam just held him, kissing the top of his head the same way he'd done a thousand times before. The only difference now was that the bases of his wings were pressed between them. Sam's body heat was warming the downy feathers on his shoulders; it was a remarkably soothing sensation. When Sam shifted his weight from one foot to the other, his chest rubbed against the protruding joints, his skin stroked against the feathers, sending shivers up and down Gabriel's spine. Somehow, even though Sam hadn't asked him, that actually made it easier for him to tell his story.
It was a long one, a speech he'd practiced at least a dozen times in his head, but he'd never known how to bring it up. Gabe had never wanted to. "I spent millions of years, living and working alongside my brothers, and loving them with all of my Grace. But, after Luci got evicted, I had to watch while Michael's anger got stronger, poisonous. He started planning an Apocalypse, just to get a chance to kick Lucifer's ass, and Dad just ignored it. I couldn't do it Sam, I didn't want any part of it. So I ran away, and hid on Earth. For close to three thousand years I did nothing but indulge myself."
Sam grimaced, thinking of the scantily-clad women he'd often seen with the Trickster, but he didn't say anything. The god had stopped summoning those long before the two of them had started getting closer. Gabe still had a wicked sweet-tooth, but that Sam didn't mind so much, even if just watching him was enough to make his teeth hurt sometimes. "Then, I met you guys. I learnt about Michael's plans for you and Dean. I kept my eyes on the pair of you, and I saw how determined you were to save Dean, and I hated you. I resented your determination, especially when I knew it was pointless. There's no way to undo a demon deal."
Sam shuddered, no doubt remembering the way Dean had been mauled to death by the hellhounds, but he didn't interrupt. "I wanted to teach you a lesson, so I put your Tuesdays on 'repeat' for four months. I made you watch Dean die, helpless to protect him, every single day. When that didn't get it through your thick skull, I made you live without him for four months. I tried to get you to forget about your brother, to live for yourself, frivolously, the same way I had been. I used every trick I knew, but nothing got through to you. After all of that, you still refused to give up on Dean."
Gabe couldn't see Sam's expression, but the Hunter was smiling sadly at the memory. He'd been so single-minded, so sure. He'd also been so wrong. In the end, he'd been helpless to save his brother, just as Gabriel had said he'd be. "I resented you even more after that, and admired you, and hated myself. I couldn't save Michael or Lucifer. I barely even tried, and when I failed them, I just gave up without a hint of hesitation. I went home that day, and I smashed every mirror in my den. When Dean died despite your best efforts, and then later you unintentionally broke the last seal and let Luci out... God help me, but I felt relieved."
Sam stiffened at the reminders of two of the worst days of his life, but he didn't interrupt. "All I could think was, 'He's not that much better than you. All of his determination didn't get him anywhere, it just made him suffer. Running away like I did wasn't the same thing as failing.' I wasn't in any hurry to fix the mirrors, but still... I'd been keeping an eye on you from the moment we first met, so I could see you and Dean fighting the angels, refusing to accept your roles as vessels. I wanted to put you in your places, to force you to accept your weakness, your helplessness. I desperately wanted to rub your noses in your flawed humanity."
Gabriel shook his head at the memory, disgusted with his old self. He didn't know if he'd ever be able to really forgive who he'd been back then. All he could do now was thank his Father every single day for sending him Sam Winchester. "I trapped you both in TV land, and kept Castiel out of the way. I was totally convinced that you'd eventually give in. You had to know by then that no amount of resolve was going to fix the Apocalypse, that you just weren't strong enough. But you proved me wrong again. Dean figured out that I was an angel, and forced me into a corner. The three of you escaped. I was the one who got taught a lesson."
Sam held him a little tighter, rubbing calming circles into his bare skin. Gabriel slowly relaxed against him, but his teeth were still tightly clenched. His story was nowhere near finished yet. "You were more of a brother to me than an angel, that day. You asked me if there was something that could be done to stop it, you offered me a helping hand. Even if you weren't really doing it for me, that didn't matter. You hadn't changed at all, you hadn't lost your faith in yourself and Dean to end the Apocalypse. Even if you hadn't had any success so far, you still didn't doubt. I spent weeks thinking about what Dean said that day."
Gabriel sighed heavily, and stretched his wings back as far as they would go, until they wrapped around Sam and the tips brushed together behind him. "I meant it when I said that I just wanted it to be over, but Dean was right about me being afraid to stand up to Michael and Lucifer. I was so tired of running away, Sam. I wanted to be better than that; I wanted to be courageous like you. But I'm not a fool. I know when I'm outmatched. Luci taught me everything I ever learnt about being an archangel, and at least half of the stuff I needed to know to become Loki when I left Heaven. There was never any way I was going to beat him."
Sam didn't argue with Gabe, the archangel would know something like that far better than he would. "I needed him to think he had won though, so I could help from the sidelines without having a target on my back. I had to make a clone which was so realistic, that even Luci wouldn't recognise the difference. I had no choice but to put some of my Grace in the clone. Not much, of course, but let's just say that I don't remember much about the Cretaceous these days. There was only one thing it was missing. With a normal angel, when you kill them their wings leave that black imprint, like a scorch mark. You've seen it before, right?"
Sam nodded subtly against his shoulder, and kissed Gabriel's head again. He was starting to see where Gabe was going with this story, and the thought was turning his stomach. "When an Archangel like Raphael is killed, all three pairs of wings leave an imprint. It's easy enough for a human to miss, but an angel would be able to spot the difference a mile away. If my clone didn't leave any wing imprint, everyone would immediately know that I wasn't really dead. I… I ripped out my third pair, and put them on the clone. I've never even imagined so much pain, I lost consciousness for… It was days before I came to."
Sam shuddered; he hated knowing that Gabriel had suffered. "I picked the third pair because they're the smallest, but… they still hurt sometimes, even though they aren't there anymore. I thought only humans got 'ghost pains'. It was a long shot, I should have left the impression of three sets of wings, not one, but I couldn't transfer all of my wings. I couldn't be grounded like that. The only thing I can imagine being worse than death would be existing for the rest of time without ever feeling the air rushing through my feathers again. I figured Lucifer would assume that I'd been demoted when I left Heaven, or thrown away some of my Grace so I could hide from the Host easier, or… I don't know."
Gabriel was trembling again, his feathers quivering against Sam's sides and back. He'd never felt so warm or safe before. Sam wasn't sure if that was just because he was wrapped in an angel's wings, or if it was because they were Gabriel's wings specifically. "Either way, Lucifer is an arrogant bastard. He'd believe that he'd killed me, and so would everybody else. It worked, they bought it. Those wings are toast now, I knew that I was never going to get them back. At the time, that didn't really matter to me. I figured it would be worth it, even having to learn how to fly all over again. I was determined, for the first time in my life. I wasn't running away anymore, I was standing and fighting a battle I knew I couldn't win."
Sam didn't point out how much the thought of that terrified him. If it came down to saving the world or saving his own ass, he knew which one he'd do, no matter how much it would undoubtedly hurt his lover. "I didn't regret it, and I don't think I ever really will. It's just… knowing what I must look like to you now… I never thought I'd find someone I'd want to reveal my wings to, but I did, and now all I have to show you is four wings and two scars. I'm damaged, Sam, and I never wanted you to see me like this. That's why I've never shown you my wings before."
Sam sighed, his breath stuttering with emotion. He buried his nose in Gabriel's soft brown hair, and breathed deeply. "Gabe, we all have scars from the Apocalypse. Some of them run deeper than others, but none of us are really whole anymore. Dean is carrying around the memories of torturing souls in Hell for thirty years. Cas is dealing with the guilt of everything he did when he was God, and the things those Leviathan made him do. I've got cracks in my sanity. Just because your scars are more visual, that doesn't change anything. None of us is perfect, but our scars are nothing to be ashamed of."
Gabriel's breath hitched, and he pushed back against Sam, wrapping his wings tighter around the Hunter. "We got these scars because we chose to fight for something we believed in, something good. They're reminders of our courage and sacrifice. I'm sorry you had to go through that Gabe, I would never wish for you to experience that pain. But, I'm also really proud of you, and I love you. I'm really glad that you showed me your wings. They're beautiful; I had no idea just how impressive they'd be. They were worth the wait." Gabriel smiled a little through his tears, and brought his first pair of wings forward to puff them out and give Sam an eyeful.
He'd always been a little vain about them. Not many angels, even archangels, had proper gold or silver in their feathers, let alone in the quantities his displayed. "If there's anything I can do to help, or make things better for you, all you've got to do is let me know. If I ever need help with the mess in my head, you'll be the first person I'll tell. What do you say? Do we have a deal?" Gabriel folded his wings tightly against his sides in a split second, turned around in Sam's arms, wrapped his arms around the Hunter, and pulled his wings around the both of them. He pulled Sam tight against him, using just a drop of his supernatural strength. "Deal."
Sam didn't complain about losing his ability to breathe. He held his breath for half a minute, and just as he'd predicted, Gabriel loosened his hold enough for him to pull fresh air into his lungs. It wasn't the first time Gabe had hugged him that way, the archangel was surprisingly fond of 'bear hugs'. Sam would never tell Dean, but he rather liked them too. They made him feel impossibly precious, and he regularly did his best to return the gesture to his lover. He didn't let his lack of the angelic power needed to inhibit Gabe's ability to inhale discourage him. Sam hugged Gabriel back, but the archangel flinched and pulled away. "I wasn't built to fly with four wings, so every time I practice it messes up my back."
Sam gave him a worried look. Seriously, all his moose ever did was worry about everyone. It was absolutely adorable. "Those muscles are one big knot right now. I could have made a clone to fix it, but I didn't want anybody but you to put their hands on me. Do you think you could give me a hand?" Sam smirked at Gabe, laughter dancing in his eyes. "I can do better than that, Babe. I'll give you both my hands." Gabriel snorted at the lame line. He loved how cheesy Sam could be sometimes. Unwrapping his arms and wings from around Sam's waist, the archangel moved over to the bed, lying down on his front. It only took a snap of his fingers to summon a variety of massage oils onto the small bedside table.
Even though it would probably take far more to hurt Gabriel, Sam was always very aware of just how tall he was, and thus how much he weighed. He never rested too much weight on any one point of Gabe's body. When he straddled the tops of Gabriel's thighs with a small bottle of Sandalwood oil in his right hand, he folded his legs on either side of the archangel. Most of his weight rested on his knees and ankles. The position was a little bit uncomfortable, but still preferable to unintentionally bruising his lover. Gabe huffed and snapped his fingers again. Suddenly the mattress was a very high-quality pocket-coil model which was far more likely to be found in a penthouse suite than the ratty motel they were in.
The new mattress took some of the pressure off of Sam's legs. Sam leant forward and rewarded Gabe with a chaste kiss to the back of his neck. The archangel lay on his front, resting his torso on a plump pillow which he'd turned sideways. His arms were folded under the pillow, and his head lay on the pillow above his arms. Sam popped the cap off of the small bottle of oil he held, and was about to pour some onto his hands, when a subtle, oddly familiar scent reached his nose. "Gabe, is this Sandalwood oil mixed with holy oil? Isn't that stuff dangerous for angels?"
Gabriel chuckled, turning his head to look up at his lover. "It's only dangerous when it's used to draw sigils, or set alight. Trust me, it'll make a lot more sense by the end of this massage." Sam shrugged, applied the oil, and set to work. He smiled absentmindedly at the little sounds of contentment and pleasure coming from his lover. Each time Gabe groaned as a deep and painful knot was worked out, Sam smirked with satisfaction. For the most part though, his mind was elsewhere. "Gabe, I think there's something Dean isn't telling me." The archangel raised an inquiring eyebrow, even though Sam wasn't looking at his face.
The Hunter answered him anyway. "I know that Dean has had a lot to deal with lately. Starting a relationship with Cas was a really big move for him, and now Cas is sick... He was really vague though, about what Cas is sick with. That's not like him." Gabriel hummed vaguely, and squirmed. He really didn't want to get Molotoved, and Dean wasn't the sort to make threats lightly. "Finding out that I'm more than friendly with you must have been a huge shock for him, too. Still, he's been through way worse than that, and he's never run off like this before."
Gabriel desperately tried to think of a way to inconspicuously end this conversation, but came up blank. "Even when he found out that I was involved with Ruby, he faced it head-on. When there was that thing with Jimmy, and he found out I was still drinking demon blood, he dealt with it immediately. I know that being with you is nowhere near the same thing. I mean, you're one of the good guys. Dean hasn't forgotten the trouble you caused us before, though." Gabriel tensed up at the reminder. He really didn't want to be thinking about the grudge Dean had against him.
Dean was never nasty about it; mostly he just avoided Gabe, or ignored him. None of them ever talked about it, and Gabe wanted to keep it that way, but he was pretty sure that he wasn't going to be so lucky. Sam's hands stilled when he felt the archangel stiffen, so he wouldn't hurt him, but he didn't stop talking. He really needed to get his concerns off his chest. "I'm sure that when he gets back, Dean's going to be really pissed, and shout himself hoarse. I'm ready for that eventuality; I have been from the first time I kissed you. What I never expected was him running off like this. I don't get it, and I don't like it."
Gabe rolled half onto his side, so he could watch Sam without getting a crick in his neck. "The only thing I can think of is that he isn't telling me just how sick Castiel is. What if he's actually dying, and Dean hasn't told me because he doesn't want me worrying about it? It would be just like my brother to try to fix it all on his own. I'm worried about both of them. What should I do, Gabe? I mean, there probably isn't anything I can do until they get back, but what if they've run off so Dean can fight some badass monster like Azazel to win one wish and cure Cas, or something like that? What if he's in danger, and he's hiding it from me? It wouldn't be the first time he's done that."
Gabriel sighed loudly. Loving an imaginative worrywart occasionally had its drawbacks. "Sam, I know what's wrong with Castiel. I found out by accident, and Dean didn't want me saying anything to you until he's had a chance to do that himself, so I've been sworn to secrecy. I can't tell you anything specific, but I promise you that Cas isn't dying, and Dean isn't in horrible danger. They're both just having a regular holiday, and Cas is going to be just fine in about two months. I want to tell you everything, I really do, but it isn't my secret to tell, and Dean would do very painful things to me if I did."
Sam was relieved to have his theories vetoed, even if he didn't like being left out of the loop. If Dean hadn't told him yet, there must be a reason for that. It was enough to know that his brother did intend to tell him at some point. "Trust me Moose, if my baby brother was dying, I would have said something to you about it. That isn't something I could be calm about." The young Winchester beamed at his lover and leant closer to resume the massage, but he paused when Gabe's hesitant question sank in. "Sam, if Dean asks you to stop seeing me, what will you do?" Sam reached down and ran his hand firmly up Gabriel's spine.
The archangel shuddered, lying back down on his pillow with a quiet purr. "If Dean tries to pull a stunt like that, I'll tell him to go screw himself. He can dream all he wants to, but I'm not giving up on us that easily. You aren't the only one of us who has made bad choices. The important thing is that you're with us now. You've fought just as hard, and sacrificed just as much as any of the rest of us. There is nothing Dean could say which would convince me to break up with you. Sorry, but I'm afraid you're stuck with me." Gabriel smiled to himself, and relaxed into Sam's touch.
His entire back was numb and tingling from the treatment, he'd have to make sure he got rid of the toxins which those knots had released into his vessel's system. The last thing he wanted was to get sick; Sam had more than enough to worry about already. His Grace would be able to take care of it, and he'd take some antioxidants before he went to bed, just to be sure. "Is it okay if I… Can I touch them?" Gabriel smirked. They were finally getting to the good part. "Of course you can, honey-moose, you don't even have to ask. Just keep in mind that those bones are hollow, and they don't heal instantly like my vessel does."
Sam leant forward, gently gripped the edge of Gabe's right first-pair wing between the elbow and wrist joints, and chastely kissed the delicate muscles just below the elbow joint. Gabriel shivered, and the three digits on each wing splayed out. "You felt that?" The archangel nodded. "Our wings have more nerve endings than a cat's tongue. Think weather balloons on steroids. I've never let anyone touch them before, not even a summon." Sam's back straightened as he grinned, puffing up with pride. Slowly and deliberately, Sam started at the base of each wing, and worked his way to the wrist joints, placing chaste kisses on the soft, fluffy feathers.
AN: This is my first real foray into Sabriel, and I keep getting this awful suspicion that I'm making Sam and Gabe OOC. Please review, and let me know what you think! I could really use some free hugs. Also, to any of you who have a Tumb1r account, I'd like to wish you a very happy Mishapocalypse. ;-)