"There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create"
One day Gabriel stops being an Archangel. Except of course there are no days in Heaven, neither are there nights, nor really any Time at all. Therein lies his problem; he knows how it will end. His brothers' True Vessels shall be born and brother shall kill brother.
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Like any Archangel Gabriel is terrifying in his Wrath and infinite in his Love. Because it is his Father's will Gabriel has seen to the destruction of an entire species and believed with all that he is that his cause is just. He loves his Father and he loves his brothers. Perhaps if he loved them less, but that is not how his Father created him.
Now Father is gone. Lucifer is Fallen. Michael has grown distant and cold. Raphael has lost hope. The rest of the Host is afraid and restless and so very obedient, mindless little soldiers in Michael's perfect army. They dare not be anything else, not when they have seen what the price of rebellion is.
Gabriel cannot kill another brother, not again. He cannot watch his brothers slay each other.
Free Will, Michael says (has said, will say) is an illusion. Gabriel thinks that perhaps it is the only way Michael can exist with the knowledge of what he has done (what he will do). Michael follows the Will of their Father because it is the only thing he can do. Yet, Lucifer rebelled and Gabriel cannot believe that this could be his Father's Will. He cannot believe that Father would want this, would want brother to kill brother.
But his Father's thoughts are not his thoughts and Gabriel does not know. If this is Father's Will then perhaps their Father's way truly is not Gabriel's way. Then perhaps Gabriel must discover his own path as he can no longer follow Heaven's.
And so one day Gabriel turns his back on Heaven and is an angel no more.
"In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."
Because Father commanded it Gabriel whispered into the ears of Giants and they fell upon each other in anger. An entire race of beings died by his trickery alone. Cruel words, insidious lies and Gabriel felt no remorse, it was his Father's Will that they perish and Gabriel was the one sent to fulfil this task.
Now Gabriel leaves Heaven and will never be sent on such a task again. It is not why he leaves, but he thinks he does not mind so much that he will never again be asked to slaughter indiscriminately.
Gabriel leaves Heaven and that is where he goes, because he can hide there in the chaos and the blood and fear and agony and death. He goes there because he needs a Vessel that Heaven will not look for and if he cannot take a Vessel form the bloodline of his vessels then where else could he find a being that can hold the Grace of an Archangel?
He is a son of Giants. He has watched his brothers die, his mother slaughtered by their own kind. He is young, this son of Giants, but he is not so young that he does not see that they will all be gone soon, now when so few of them are left.
He does not know why this is happening.
In his dreams he sees the wildfire be born as lightning from the heavens strike the dry leaves. He knows it for the sign it is.
"Will you let me in?" A voice asks him in his dreams.
"Why?" He demands, because what reason can he have?
"Because all your kind will die." The voice does not lie; the voice cannot lie to him here in his dreams, about this.
They are dying and he will die with them.
"Yes," he says and knows that like this one of his kind will live.
He is the son of Giants, he is wildfire, he is Loki.
Because it was his Father's Will that he do so Gabriel caused the deaths of an entire race of beings and did not regret it. Until one day Gabriel leaves Heaven and changes that.
"For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons"
Loki is a being of instant gratification. If there is something Loki wants he takes it and Loki has wanted so many things. What is the point of being a god among men if one does not enjoy it?
He is a god among men and they have feared him and worshipped him. He has had their love and their hate and he has revelled in both. Loki has answered their calls, has accepted their sacrifices, has slain them, rewarded and punished as he sees fit.
He is a god among gods. He has feasted in the mead halls of Odin when the Allfather was great and worshipped by his people. He has seduced Destruction and fathered Death. He has lain under the stars with Hermes, traded stories and touches and tried to outdo each other in both.
He has feasted with the gods, has shared bread and drink and bed. He has fought with them and loved them and tricked them.
Loki is a Trickster and a god. He is wildness and freedom. He is cruel amusement and lies. It's all in good fun, even if only another Trickster might agree.
"When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?"
They presume to judge him. They judge him? He has laid judgment on thousands, on millions, by his own whim and by Dad's command and they judge him. They think they know. They dare think they know what he is? What he's done, what he's seen?
So what? They found out his little secret and now they think they know everything about him? They don't know a damn thing.
A coward. Oh, yes he is that. So many times over, but what could he do? There's no stopping Mike and Luci now. There never was.
Do they have any idea what it takes to skip out of Heaven, not just your family, but Heaven. Do they have any idea what Michael would do to him if they found him? What Mike would have to do. Archangels don't go around getting themselves Free Will, just look at what happened to Lucifer.
It doesn't even matter what Dad wants anymore, because Daddy isn't around. It's all about what Michael believes and who knows, Mike might be right. Gabriel knew what he was getting himself into when he left Heaven; he knew there wasn't any going back. Ever.
It's his family and he can never go back. Now, these two humans think they can look down on him for his choices. Choices. Isn't Free Will what those two are all about?
They have no clue about who he is and what he's done.
They know too damn much. Their little pet angel knows too much, knows all too well what Heaven's like, knows that there's no going back. And still the little angel isn't giving up, is he?
Maybe they really can do it. They're damn well stubborn enough. Crazy, stupid, stubborn Winchesters. He likes them. He even likes their little angel.
He can't ever let himself hope that they can actually pull it off.
Gabriel throws his head back and laughs as water falls down around him and the last flames sizzle out.
"I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid."
It's harder than it should be to shrug off the Angel and pull out the Trickster. He doesn't even make a very good angel anymore. It's just getting damn hard to pretend that everything's fine.
He can't exactly not notice his family running all over the place. They're about as subtle as a hammer to the head or flinging a meteor at the planet. The little ones are bad enough, but now all three of his brothers have been traipsing around and he can feel the echoes of their footsteps wherever he goes. Reality warps and buckles around them, strains and barely holds together as they shift and change things.
You don't see Gabriel making the whole of Creation tremble when he walks around. Oh, sure he could do that, even stuffed inside this Vessel he's still absolute power and fury. Of course he's no Michael or Lucifer, but he's damn close. Still the Earth doesn't shake, weather patterns don't get screwed beyond recognition, power doesn't go out, lights don't even damn well flicker when Gabriel shows up.
Gabriel shifts reality with the best of them. Changes it every day and all without making it crack and strain at the seams. Why use brute force when you have skill? But then his brothers never needed to learn how to hide, didn't need to be anything except absolute power.
And now Gabriel can't go anywhere without being constantly reminded that it's getting closer and closer to lights out for this particular ball of mud. And friggin' Dean Winchester of all people is the one who brought it home how very much Gabriel doesn't want for that to happen.
Dean Winchester who'll die before ever harming his family, his brother. Dean Winchester who is nothing at all like Michael and too much like Gabriel. And maybe, just maybe Dean Winchester can do what Gabriel never could.
So Gabriel puts on a Trickster smile and a porn moustache and gives the Winchesters a chance.
"Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question"
When it's all said and done Gabriel knows full well that his sins aren't any less than those that got Lucifer kicked out of Heaven. Just running away from Heaven is bad enough, but Loki went ahead and committed just about every sin ever thought of. So he can't really blame Lucifer for Falling, it's not like he can't sympathise.
Lucifer didn't start out all crazy and hell bent on killing just about everything. Gabriel knows what it's like to feel like Dad betrayed you. It hurts and it never stops hurting, but it still didn't make Gabriel go and create demons and want to end the world. That part that he can blame Lucifer for. And maybe he blames Dad for loving Lucifer better than he did any one of them, if he hadn't then maybe Lucifer would never have Fallen.
Really, there isn't anyone in their little family that's completely without fault. They could all have done things differently, but they didn't. And maybe this is all part of Dad's great big Plan, but honestly as much as Gabriel loves Dad he stopped believing in that one a long time ago. He still can't quite believe that Dad would want all of this to happen.
But then there's that whole Free Will thing (and sometimes Gabriel really hates himself for deciding to get himself one of those) and maybe that's the whole point. If Dad interferes then none of that means anything.
Maybe it was time Gabriel got up and exercised that Free Will of his, not that he didn't always know how that would end. At least he gave the Winchesters a chance.
Dad only knows where good little angels go when they die. Gabriel doubts that's where he's going. He really hopes Lucifer at least feels bad about it.
Damned stupid big brothers.
"We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown."
Gabriel snaps and the dark suited angel about to stab his sword into the heart of the bleeding, unconscious Castiel vanishes, gone but still alive. Two angels are lying dead on the ground and he has to give his little bro credit for going down fighting.
There's one more angel left. For the first time in ages Gabriel lets his Grace out, unfurls his wings and makes Creation quake just a little. And it feels so damn good.
"Leave," he orders and the angel does.
It doesn't matter now if Heaven finds out.
He bends down and presses his lips to Castiel's forehead and the worst of the little fallen angel's injuries vanish.
"Sorry, bro," Gabriel tells the still unconscious Castiel. "You need to sit this one out, but you'll be up in time for the big showdown." He touches two fingers to the angel's forehead and sends him to the nearest humans, who just happen to be on a shrimping boat. Gabriel grins a bit at that.
"You better make sure you save this marble."