Author Note: Nothing long this time around. Just a little snippet. The Winchesters after Gabriel's rescue.

ooo

Sam and Dean stared at the smouldering remains of the holy fire circle in stunned silence.

They'd had the damn Trickster – the freaking archangel Gabriel – trapped and spilling his guts, when out of nowhere some scrawny, glasses-wearing Brit showed up and whisked him away. Since when did the Trick- Gabriel, since when did Gabriel have accomplices? More importantly, since when were angels all touchy-feely? And where had that guy even come from?!

"Cas." Dean immediately rounded on the only member of their rag-tag group likely to have any answers. "What the hell was that? How did he know our names? Actually, how did he do that zappy thing you angels are always doing? And the water? Just, what the hell?"

Sam rolled his eyes and put a hand to his forehead, but had to concede that he was just as curious. Out of everything that could have happened, that was something that had never even vaguely occurred to them.

"I can probably answer some of that," Sam admitted, giving Castiel a little lee-way. "I mean, think about it Dean. If those two are accomplices, or whatever, don't you think Gabriel would complain about us a lot? It seems like the sort of thing he'd do."

"Bloody whiner," Dean mumbled. "But what then? He's got himself some weird creature boy-toy?"

Sam smacked him in the arm.

"I must confess to be unsure as to what he is," Castiel said quietly. "He is not an angel, and he is not possessed. Nothing about him suggests any sort of creature I am aware of. Were it not for the… power… that I felt in him, I would have thought him nothing more than a human."

"Riiiight, because humans can conjure water out of thin air. Not even witches do that! They're all hex bags and freaky rituals."

"Maybe he's something new?" Sam suggested. He was already deep in thought, trying to categorise the man – Harry, wasn't it? – in his mind.

"Whatever," Dean huffed. "Let's just get out of here. We've got an apocalypse to stop, archangel or no."

Castiel didn't follow the brothers as they left the warehouse. Instead he reflected on what he had just witnessed. Gabriel had fled heaven a very long time ago, but if he tried hard enough he could still remember bits and pieces of a time when Gabriel had been among them. Rarely had they crossed paths; most of what Castiel knew of Gabriel was from stories from the other angels, those older than him, or more important.

This Gabriel wasn't much like the Gabriel of old. But if he thought hard enough, Castiel imagined that Gabriel might actually be happier now. It was a different sort of happiness, and even Castiel could tell that he was still furious and aching about Lucifer and Michael, but now he had… balance?

Castiel wasn't sure what to make of it.

He decided he needed to speak with Gabriel and his companion, if they would allow it. He wanted to understand.