It was a Wednesday when the Archangel Gabriel showed up at the Men of Letters bunker in front of Sam and Dean, without so much as knocking on the door, or indeed any sort of explanation as to how he was even alive or how he got into the bunker.
“Pfft, details,” he said, waving off their questions and then set about raiding their magical supplies.
“What the hell do you think you're doing?!” Dean snarled, only to be wrapped tightly in what looked like giant Christmas ribbon, apple stuffed in his mouth with a snap of Gabriel's fingers.
“Shut it, freckles. It's for a good cause, and I know how you boys love those.”
Sam cautiously ventured closer, smart enough to not attack head on. “Would you mind letting us in on what cause that might be?” he asked slowly, casting wary glances at Dean, trussed up and glaring daggers.
“I'm glad you asked!” Gabriel said, as if he genuinely was. “AHA!” he added gleefully when a drawer apparently yielded what he needed.
“... and?” Sam prompted.
Gabriel sauntered over to the table and started laying out things. “Well. Seeing as some higher power that chooses to remain anonymous saw fit to yank my amazing ass back from the void, it seems only fair to pay it forward, you know what I mean?”
“Uhm... can't say I do. Pay it forward how?”
Mixing things together in a bowl and reciting words in a language Sam couldn't recognize, Gabriel ignored him until there was a tall, purple, spiraling flame bursting out of the bowl. “Crunch time. Do you want your baby brother out of the cage or not? Limited offer, short time only.”
Sam started and stared at the colorful fire spitting sparks up in the air. “That depends. What's the catch?”
“No catch. Just plain old do-goodery.”
“I don't believe you,” Sam said, eyes narrowed. Because honestly, despite Gabriel apparently doing the right thing by the end, that didn't change the fact that they trusted him about as far as they could throw him. Which wasn't far, unless Gabriel let them.
Gabriel shrugged. “Up to you, but I can only do this party trick once, so it's now or never. I snuff out this flame and that's the last chance for poor little Adam to get out of being a punching bag for all eternity.”
Still not sure whether to trust Gabriel or not, Sam exchanged a long look with Dean. Even without being able to talk, the message was clear. Don't do it. But Sam was the one calling this one, and no matter how much Dean maintained his belief that they'd find another way, Sam was not at all sure, and in spite of everything, he still had at least a little faith in higher powers. If this was a trick, Sam would deal with it. He'd take the fall for it.
“Do it,” he said firmly, ignoring Dean's muffled protests.
“All righty then!” Gabriel said cheerfully, sliced open his finger and flicked a few drops of blood into the fire. There was a bang so loud that the whole bunker rattled and Sam was amazed his ears wasn't bleeding when the smoke cleared. On the table was a body. Naked and lifeless, but unmistakably Adam. Sam reached out and carefully put his fingers on the cold neck, only to feel his stomach drop. “I guess bringing him back alive wasn't part of the deal?” he said, thickly.
Gabriel scoffed. “Don't tell me you guys wouldn't rather see this kid dead than in the cage? But before you get your panties all twisted, I'm not actually done yet.” The purple fire was still burning and while Sam watched wide-eyed, Gabriel reached into the flame, and in his hand a bright yellow orb formed in misty swirls.
“See,” he explained, “no flesh can leave the cage. Only souls. I had to make a new body to stick it in before pulling it out.” He seemed to grit his teeth when the orb was fully formed and he started pulling it out. Sam could see beads of sweat forming on Gabriel's forehead, and he clenched his fists, tense with uncertainty.
Then suddenly the flame died and Gabriel staggered back, panting.
“Shit, what happened?” Sam said, convinced that whatever it was had failed.
Gabriel took a few deep breaths before unclenching the fist he'd pressed against his chest. In his palm was a tiny golden orb, flickering, but bright, and Gabriel grinned at Sam's jaw dropping. “And now for the grand finale,” Gabriel said, walking over to the table, then carefully easing the orb in to the slack mouth of Adam's body.
At first nothing happened, but then Adam took a slow, deep breath and opened his eyes.
“Kinda anticlimactic, if you ask me,” Gabriel drawled. “Should I add fireworks?”
Sam ignored him and hurried over to help Adam sit up. “Sam?” he rasped. “What... where...”
“Just take it easy, we'll explain everything,” Sam said, keeping Adam steady with an arm around his shoulders.
A door banged open, and Kevin lurched in, panting for breath. “What the hell was that, did something explode?! Are you guys- oh.” He stopped dead when he spotted Adam. “Uh... why is there a naked guy on the table?”
“Long story,” Sam said, and glared at Gabriel until he rolled his eyes and snapped his fingers, releasing Dean.
“Seriously?!” he barked. “Seriously, Sam!?”
“Dean, it wasn't your call. This is on me, and if it comes back to bite us on the ass, I'll deal with it.”
“Listen to the moose,” Gabriel said mildly. “Now, if that's everything, I got places to be and people to kill. Don't call us, we'll call you. Toodles!” With a last eyebrow waggle he snapped his fingers and disappeared.
“What the hell just happened?!” Dean snarled.
“That's what I wanna know,” Adam said weakly. “And... why am I naked?”
Sam grimaced and shrugged off his plaid over-shirt for Adam to at least cover himself with slightly. Kevin was still at the door, staring at Adam vaguely slack-jawed. It took Sam three tries to get his attention. “Kev. Kevin. Kevin!”
“Huh, yeah, what?!” Kevin jumped, and Sam rolled his eyes at him before sending him to find some clothes for Adam.
“This is gonna be a long week, I can feel it,” Dean groaned, rubbing his eyebrow.
Adam yelped and jumped off the table when suddenly another body appeared on the table next to him, though this one was very much alive, trussed up and gagged with some sigil-branded leather straps.
“Or not,” Dean amended, staring at Metatron, squirming angrily against his bonds. There was a note attached to his wrist, and Dean stepped forward to read it.
“Looks like I had one more trick up my sleeve. So I lied. Like you're surprised. Greetings from your friendly neighborhood archangel. Seriously, what the hell is going on?”
“I dunno. But I like it,” Sam smirked, already thinking up a few creative questions to ask their latest prisoner. Kevin stumbled into the room with an armful of clothes and blushed spectacularly when Adam smiled at him. Dean noticed and rolled his eyes.
“Never mind. Long, looong week.”