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Honey

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This was a place where Castiel felt safe. Where he wasn't under the thumb of an oppressive heaven. Where his duties and charges of the Winchester variety could be forgotten, if only for a moment. This was a place where he could just be. And if he was honest with himself, which he should be more often, Castiel was truly happy here.

Here was a small pocket universe that he had created for himself. Nestled between the Earth he knew and the murky plane of existence that no living thing could pass through unharmed, minus an angel of course, Castiel had spent a few earthly years planning, preparing and constructing a perfect getaway. A place he could relax.

And what helped him relax the most were his bees. He loved to watch them fly aimlessly to the flowers around them. He loved to spy on them in their square hives while they make honey. It was a hobby that Castiel could spend eternity doing and never get tired of it.

He took great care while he was constructing his universe so that it would be able to provide the sustenance his bee hives would need to thrive and be a welcoming, warm environment to any that could make the journey unharmed. And while it’s true that he had created this world before he had gotten himself entangled with the Winchesters and their seemingly never ending parade of bad guys and world ending catastrophes, it was set up to be able to provide the proper environmental conditions for any humans that would arrive. Although, at the time, he had never expected Dean Winchester or his younger brother Sam to have made such a large impact on him that he would let them into his sanctuary. But Castiel had considered letting them in on many occasions. He just hasn't gotten around to it yet.

At this moment, Castiel is just enjoying the perpetually perfect weather. Even though Castiel was not affected by something as trivial as the temperature of the air around him, the days here were a perfect 78 degrees, a few clouds in the sky casting shadows on the vast fields, and just a touch of humidity. He couldn’t have the flowers drying out.

It did rain here, occasionally. When Castiels mood shifted into the negative, it seemed to do it here as well, even though he can’t recall setting that function. One time, the storms had wound up to hurricane forces while Castiel raged and fulminated at the universe. He can’t remember what it was about anymore. The bees were not too happy that they had to take shelter, but the hives were held in place and they were no worse for wear. Castiel made it up to them by planting some Wisteria in the garden. He added an archway for them to climb and when they fully grew and bloomed Castiel wondered why he hadn’t planted them before. They were beautiful to look at.

Castiel hasn’t come here for any particular reason today. He just wanted to sit and enjoy some quiet time by himself. At the moment, there were no big bads to fight, no earth ending catastrophe, none of his heavenly brothers or sisters pestering him for guidance or leadership. But there was a need for a wonderful cup of tea. Yes, a cup of tea and the music of his bees to listen to.

And so he sat there. His fingers playing patterns over the designs of bees and flowers and vines set into the wrought iron table and chairs. Tracing out the stingers and wings and leaves. His familiar trench coat was hanging off the back of one the unoccupied chairs. Every now and the he took a slow sip of his tea from a delicate cup, black with yellow filigree, and enjoyed the taste of the individual molecules, then brought them together to taste it as a whole. A skill he learned from his big brother. His tea was always homemade, sweetened with his bees own honey, there was always a honey jar on the table.

He cast a glance to the hives surrounding him. His table was set up on a grassy opening and his eight hives were set up in a square around him. They were simple box hives, three feet tall and painted white. Castiel had used a bit of his grace to add swirling patterns of art and color and even sounds to reflect the feelings of the colony inside. A mood hive, so to speak. There were so many bees in each hive that Castiel had a hard time singling out the queen when he wanted to check on the well-being of the group. This was sort of his direct line. Today he saw all warm colors and light sounds like flutes and flashes of cheerful celebrations and feasts on his hives.

Beyond the hives was a vast ocean of flowers that spread in a circle all around the hives. Castiel had not set a specific distance for the flower garden, but it spread for miles at least. He had planted as many bee friendly flowers that he could think of. Sunflowers, lilacs, black eyed susans, snapdragons, poppies, lavender, goldenrods, cone flowers, yarrow, and plenty of others stretched out for his bees to sample freely. There was no rhyme or reason to where they were planted, and the colors blended, faded into each other, grouped naturally. It created its own tapestry of color.

Past the flowers to the north was the orchard. Apples, oranges, limes, and cherries. His harvests were always plentiful. When the fruits were ripe, they were transported into the waiting carts by angelic grace. Castiel didn’t need to eat, but he did enjoy the sweet fruits with his drink. And if a few bushels were snapped up into delicious warm pastries waiting in pie limbo to be delivered to a certain hunter, no one had to know.

The lake to the east is a new addition to his universe. Castiel did not create this, but he did have it transported here. When the earth has slipped into night, he wanders down the long dock over the still water and waits. And sometimes, when he’s lucky, Dean dreams.

To the south is a large, impressive forest. Castiel started the saplings of the large trees growing, mostly oak and maples but there are pines of all kinds and a square mile or two of giant redwoods. He gave them strong roots and sun and left them to it. It only took a month before the trees were towering over the landscape and housing animals of all kinds. There are trails throughout and Castiel enjoys walking the darkened paths. He talks to all the animals when they approach him, they come without fear, but he enjoys the wolves the most. They are the wisest in the forest and they have many wonderful discussions.

West of everything, there is a cabin. It is by no means extravagant, but it is a touch over impressive. Two stories and a wraparound porch is all he knows about the cabin. Castiel has never been in it, there is no need for him to be. But it is furnished, livable. It’s just waiting.

As he takes in his surroundings, Castiel has a thought, and worries for his universe. It is true that while he is away the universe is self-sufficient, he isn’t sure what happens when his grace gets cut off from himself all together or, even worse, he gets killed. It has happened before, on both counts, unfortunately. And each time he was put back together and able to get away, he flew right back here to check on his oasis. Each time it seemed that nothing had been negatively affected, but it had been short term each time, relatively speaking. He takes another sip of his tea and makes a decision that he will probably regret soon enough.

This is a horrible back up plan, and Castiel knows it.

He lets out a heavy sigh and calls Gabriel.

Chapter Text

"Gabriel, I need to speak with you about a matter of personal importance."

Castiel sits and waits for an answer from the archangel, but none comes. He knows that Gabriel heard him. There is a connection between angels when grace is involved. The portion on his side had linked with Gabriel. Castiel tries again.

"Please, Gabriel. I can assure you this is no trick. I just would like to speak to you." He can feel Gabriel receive the message, but yet again receives no response. Castiel is starting to become a little frustrated with Gabriel for ignoring him, but then he thinks about where he is. He has never tried to contact another angel from this bubble universe before, so he had no idea if back and forth communication is possible.

"Gabriel, are you not able to respond to me?" A small tendril of Grace is poured from Castiel, and it makes a long path towards the earth. When it connects, Gabriels frustrated voice can be heard.

"Well, I'm trying to!" came ringing through his mind loud and clear this time. Castiel startled and leaned away from the loud yelling in his head, but, as it was in his own mind, there was no escaping Gabriels jarring voice.

"Gabriel, please, there is no need to shout."

"Hey Castiel!" Gabriels mood shifted from frustrated to cheerful quicker than Castiel was expecting.

Castiel sighed heavily and tried to keep his patience.

"Hello Gabriel. like I said before, I have a personal matter that I would like to discuss with you. can you locate me?"

"Hang on." Gabriel instantly appeared at the table with Castiel. He looked straight into his younger brothers eyes and deadpanned "I'll be right there." The sudden appearance of the archangel seemingly had no affect on the other angel at the table.

“Welcome Gabriel. Thank you for speaking with me.”

“Hey no problem, baby bro! Not like I was doing anything.” he said it with only a hint of sarcasm. Gabriel looked down at the table between them, a fresh cup of warm tea in front of him, which he eyed warily. “Do you have anything for me to eat?”

Once again, Castiel found himself rolling his eyes. When one spent as much time around Gabriel as he had in the past, it was a motion that one tends to perfect. And Castiel had a lot of practice.

Castiel huffed out another sigh, and a plate of apples appeared. They were quarter cut and dipped into a caramel sauce made with his honey. Gabriel's eyes lit up at the sight of it and wasted no time picking up a slice in each hand and taking an enthusiastic bite.

“Mmmm! Oh man, Cassie” Gabriel said with his mouth full of sweet, “these are delicious! Didn't know you could cook.” He took another large bite and let out a groan of satisfaction. “Yeah, I'm definitely going to need more of these.”

“Can you focus please? I didn't ask you here just to feed you.”

“Sorry, Cas. Can't take a compliment, can you? Whats got your panties in a twist?”

Castiels eyes narrowed in confusion and he tilted his head like he was contemplating what Gabriel said a little too hard. “What? I’m not wearing…”

“Really? That’s not one of your secret kinks you have with your boy toy?” Gabriel said with a wicked smile, although whatever heat it had behind it was washed away with Gabriel chewing a whole slice of caramel apple in his mouth.

Castiels face warped into a harsher anger than Gabriel expected.

“Alright, alright. Not the time, I guess.” said Gabriel, swallowing his sweet snack. “So tell me, Cas, what is this place? It was practically impossible to find you. I only found my way because of the grace connection.”

“That is the reason that I called you here, Gabriel. This is my oasis and I want to keep it safe. It is sustained using my grace and if the connection to this place is broken by my being cut off from the Host or, even worse, being dead again, I don’t know what will happen. And being a cohort of the Winchesters seems to have a side effect of dealing with deaths door as the revolving variety.”

“Ain’t that the truth, brother.” Gabriel interrupted. His mind seemed to wander, and a pained looked flashed across his face for a moment. He tried to recover quickly. “Sorry,” he snapped his attention back to Castiel. “Continue, please.”

“So, if I’m gone for an extended period of time, I would like to know that my sanctuary, and more importantly, my bees, are taken care of. And I’d like to be able to come back here after I’ve been revived again.”

Gabriels trademark Trickster attitude returned along with his typical smirk. “Why Cassie, are you writing me into your will?”

Another eye roll from Castiel had Gabriel thinking that Dean was rubbing off on his little brother. He grabbed another apple slice and chewed behind his smile. He faltered a little when Castiel grabbed his own slice and ate it absentmindedly, his eyes following a small group of bumble bees hovering around a grouping of queen annes lace along the edge of the flower field.

Seeing Castiel eat was an unnerving sight.

“Wow,” Gabriel said quietly. “You're really worried about this place, huh.”

“Yes. I wish to protect it. Not just for myself or my bees.” Castiel hesitated for a moment, looking around. “But, perhaps, if it is written that I would not survive all that life with hunters bombards us with, I could leave this in your capable hands. I would leave the decision up to you, of course, but if you take possession, maybe you could find a way to let Dean and Sam visit here. It would make me happy if I knew that those boys could enjoy this place, too. Father knows they deserve a break now and then.”

Gabriel took in all that his brother said to him. He could see the sincerity written on his face. He tilted his head back in his chair, watching a cloud slowly pass by, eyeing the creeping undulations of the changing shape. A sigh escaped him.

“You know what Dean would say right now?” Gabriel asked.

Castiel paused for a moment. “No chick flick moments.”

A breathy laugh broke free from Gabriel. “No chick flick moments.” he repeated. “Ok Castiel. How do you want to do this?” his eyes slowly returned to Castiel.

The small smile that caressed the younger angels face warmed Gabriels heart more than he would care to admit. For all the trouble that his family had caused him in his very long life, Gabriel was always surprised when the same family could elicit such endearing feelings as well.

“I was thinking a trial period. We should see if your Grace is compatible with the vegetation here. I will transfer power to you and return to earth for a week. Then I will return when the trial period had ended. Or when you fail miserably and I have to clean up your mess.”

Gabriels brows shot up faster than a bullet from the Colt. “Cassie, are you making a joke?!” This time it was Castiels face that held a mischievous smirk. “Oh, dear brother, humanity looks so good on you!” Gabriel shot up from his chair and made his way around the table, grabbed Castiel by the shoulders and hauled him up into a bear hug. A few gentle slaps to Castiels cheek and he was released, almost falling back into the chair.

“Alright, lets do this!” Gabriel was bouncing on his toes, ready to prove himself.

“Before we do anything,” Castiel stated, pulling his trench coat back on and falling back into his normal serious stance, “I would like to introduce you to the bees.”

“What do you mean meet them? They're just bees. They do their bee thing and I'll do my archangel thing.”

“That’s not true at all, Gabriel. Many of them are conversationalists and very witty. Although some of the drones can be a little awkward when you first meet them. Come with me.” Castiel gestured for Gabriel to follow him, but Gabriel found himself planted to the ground in shock.

“You want me to talk to them?”

“Of course, brother. I’m sure they’ll take to you quite well.”

If almost on cue, the colors and sounds swirling on the hives started fading and changing into darker hues, blue and gray swirling together, and the light flute sounds where going silent and being replaced with a brassy deep horn.

“Are you sure, Cas? I’m seeing some resistance from the troops.” Gabriel said as he found his feet and wandered over to Castiel standing at the hives.

“They have been listening to us. They are not happy with this arrangement and do not wish to see me leave.” He turned his gaze to the hives and held up his hand. It was quickly filled with a buzzing pile of honey bees and Gabriel was surprised when Castiel started talking to the small heap. “I don’t think I’ll be able to take care of you forever.” Gabriels eyes softened as his heart broke a little bit at the thought. “This is my brother Gabriel. He is extremely capable of providing care and companionship to you all.” He paused. After a moment Castiels eyes opened wide and he twisted his head towards his brother. His mouth opened and closed silently, and he turned back to his hand.

“That is extremely inappropriate and I do not want to hear that kind of language again.”

“Hey! What are they saying about me?!” Gabriels pose transformed into one of a child at the beginnings of a tantrum, his hands fisted at his hips and his whole face transforming into a harsh scowl.

“N-nothing. Nothing at all, Gabriel.”

“I bet.” His frown softened a bit.

After a few nervous glances back and forth between the upset bees and an equally upset Gabriel, Castiel decided it was best to change the subject a bit.

“Why don’t I show you how they react to our wings and your Grace.”

Castiel slowly unfurled his wings, large black and silver feathers, the smaller ones tipped with deep blue and purple hues, reached up towards the sky, dwarfing the smaller vessel they were breaking through. As they stretched out to their full length, bees poured out of each hive, swarming the wings, burying themselves into the feathers, flying through and around Castiels extra appendages. It made his wings look like they were vibrating, like they were alive and a separate entity that was clinging to Castiel for protection. Gabriel looked up in wonder at the sight.

His eyes traveled down from the tips pointing up to the sky to the base joints connecting to Castiels back. Dancing around the shock of tussled black hair was a swirling halo. A small group of bees were tracing the faint lines of Grace that were always there, but never seen.

Random small groups and other individual bees were flying around Castiel, just seemingly happy to be around the feeling that Castiels Grace provided for them. Gabriel decided it was a beautiful sight to behold, and he found himself a tiny bit jealous of his brothers connection to these animals.

He was shaken out of his revelry by Castiels deep voice. “Let me show you how well they behave.” Gabriels questioning look was answered with Castiels familiar stoic one. “Ladies, lets show Gabriel that you are listening. Can you all go circle the orchard and then return to me, please?”

At his words, the bees flew off in a neat group, only a few hanging behind in Castiels hand for a few minutes more. They all eventually joined the hoard heading for the apple orchard.

“That’s really amazing, Castiel. They seem to love you very much.”

“Thank you, Gabriel. I have found that affection and respect can make any being, whether human or animal, a friend.”

“Hmmm. I see…”

“Gabriel?”

“Nothing, just thinking.”

“Dangerous business.”

Castiel thinks he can hear the sound of Gabriels brows flying up to his hairline again. The archangel just stares for a moment before bellowing out laughter that echos across the field.

“Castiel, I swear to the father that wont answer my phone calls that you are going to kill me one day!!” tears of laughter gather at the corners of his eyes and Gabriels hand come up to wipe them away.

“They are coming back.” A hand was raised above his head, and Castiel called “Come.”

The bees flew back towards the two angels, and Castiel guided them with his palm, showing them where he wanted them to gather. By the time they all had returned from the orchard, Castiel had a giant buzzing swirl of bees held out at arms length. The shape was constantly moving, constantly changing. Gabriel had to take a step back to get out of its way.

“Why don’t you try to take a few into your hand, Gabriel.”

Out of the corner of his eyes, he could see one of the hives change to deep red and black colors. As he looked cautiously around to the other hive, he saw more of the same. Others swirled with violet colors. The music played loud bass drum beats, the sounds of a battle looming. He saw some others flashing pictures of grotesque creatures and animals feasting on bones .

“I don’t think that is a good idea.” he said cautiously. “It looks like you pets hate me, little bro.” Gabriel motioned to the hives.

“They are not my pets, brother. They are my friends.”

Gabriel stifled a groan that was creeping up his throat. He could do this. He would try for his brothers piece of mind.

He held out his hand and asked as pleasantly as he could, “Could some of you bees come to me?”

Slowly, a few lone bees made their way over to Gabriels palm. They landed, skittered around a little, exploring his hand.

“Yeah, there we go. Hey there.” Gabriel brought his hand closer to his face to inspect the tiny bees a little closer. “See? I’m an ok guy. Well, archangel.”

Of the few bees that have landed on Gabriels hand, there is one that seems to be curious about this newcomer. She inches closer to him, trying to figure out if he can be trusted. And not just because the other one said so.

“Try talking to her, Gabriel.” Castiel suggested. “Just use your Grace.”

“Oh, well, ok.” He cleared his throat dramatically. “Hey there, sugar. Hows life in the flower tops?”

The little bee fluttered its wings and hovered in front of Gabriels face so closely that he went a little cross eyed to keep looking at her.

“Umm, I hope that we can all get along...?”

“She is a drone from the corner hive. The colors are shifting again. I believe she approves of you and has relayed this to her queen.”

Gabriel felt his breath ease out a little harder than he realized. He felt a weird relief that this single bee decided he was ok. The bee flew up and away from Gabriels face, and began flying a circle above the crown of his head, following the outline of his own halo. A soft smile played on Gabriels lips and more and more bees flew over to join the first. As more left Castiels hand and came to Gabriel, the colors and sounds and pictures playing out on the hives changed. They were returning to the soft pastels and airy softness of flute that had been covering the white surfaces of the hives when he had arrived.

Soon Gabriel was surrounded by every bee that had occupied Castiels hand a moment before. They swirled and surrounded him like a wall of water, all of them trying to get a look at him. Gabriels body was shaking a little with excitement, and he was smiling wide. He held out a trembling hand towards the wall of downy bodies that enclosed him, but before he could touch them Castiels voice called out “Show them your wings, Gabriel.”

Six golden wings that shown brighter than the sun were slowly unfolded and opened wide and tall. The bees took notice and without hesitation they flocked towards the brilliant feathers. The sensation of them flying through his wings was almost indescribable. They were twisting through any gaps and rubbing their wings on the feathers. Groups were gathering at all of the joints and using their tiny legs to explore the skin they found. It felt like feather light tickling.

“You see,” Gabriel hadn't noticed that Castiel was now standing in front of him. “I knew you had nothing to worry about. They obviously approve of you. Now send out an order. Just ask nicely.”

“Ladies, as much as I love getting this much action on the first date, I've got to call it a night. So can I walk you home, or...?” Gabriel didn't finish his question but the bees slowly started to separate from his wings and made their way to their hives. “I'll call you!” he called as the last few departed.

Castiel also watched his precious bees disperse, his blue eyes full of amusement.

“They say 'you better'.”

Gabriel let out a chuckle. “Well they're stuck with me for a while. Lets get the power cord plugged into me. I'm ready.”

“Grasp my hand brother.” Castiel said with a smile that reached his eyes, turning the angels normally rigid features into a soft joyful expression.

As Gabriel grasped his brothers hand, a coil of blue Grace was snaking its way down Castiels arm making its way across the bridge of hands to settle into Gabriels chest. He felt it circle, looking for a place to settle, then decided on a small space nestled in the warmth of the archangels grace.

Both of their faces wavered as the ground beneath them slowly began to shake.

“What's happening, Castiel?” Gabriel yelled as their hands fell apart.

“I don't know.” His eyes danced across the field looking for anything out of the ordinary. “Look at the plants! They are growing too fast. You are feeding them too much power. Pull back a little.”

“I got it, I got it.” Gabriel pushed his frustration aside and focused on regulating the power he was transferring to keep this place afloat. Slowly the shaking ground stilled, and they were no worse for wear, but the fields did look like they could use a once over. Weeds, grass that was waist high and the vines from the forest had crept out a few feet farther out than they were before seemed to be the only side affects. A snap of his fingers and it was like it never happened.

“Well, that was an adventure.” Gabriel laughter was far too enthusiastic for Castiels liking.

“Maybe this was a mistake.” Castiel looked nervously around to see if anything else was out of place. “Maybe I should wait to leave.”

Gabriel grabbed Castiels arm firmly and turned him eye to eye. “Cas, I got this under control. Minus that one that just happened. Which I took care of. I promise I can handle this. Why don't you go and spend some time with that green eyed man boy you love so much.” Castiels head tilted comically and he opened his mouth to protest, but he was cut off. “And before you even say anything, I am an archangel. I can see where that lake came from. It's all stardust and dream scapes.”

Rather than question his brother further, Castiel just gave in with a sigh. “Alright. I do trust you, brother.”

“That was your mistake.”

“Gabriel, please.”

“Come on, man. You walked into that one.”

“I did not walk into any obstruction. I have been standing right here.”

Gabriel dropped his head into his hands. “I thought we had made progress.” he said sadly.

“I don't understand.”

“Oh, will you just go.” an exasperated Gabriel tried to shoo his brother away. “I can handle this.”

“Thank you, Gabriel.” There was nothing but sincerity in his voice, and then he was gone with a flutter of wings.

Gabriel let out a heavy sigh and was glad to be alone. He walked back to the wrought iron table and sat down with a heavy grunt. Dealing with Castiel could be exhausting sometimes. He conjured up a fresh cup of hot chocolate, he never had a taste for bitter tea. He grabbed the honey jar with glee and spooned a heavy dollop into the cup, then licked the spoon clean before returning it to the jar.

He enjoyed his cup of sugar in silence, absentmindedly letting a few bees dance between his fingers and around his long hair. He accessed the new portion of Grace in his body and made a few adjustments. Just pressing all the buttons on the dashboard, so to speak. Temperature, he turned the heat down. Weather patterns, Gabriel set up a nice summer shower every day he was here. Firewall, this one definitely needed adjustment. If he was going to be stuck here for a week, he was going to need company for sure.

Satisfied for now, he snapped two new cups of hot chocolate and set out a few plates of Castiels fruit and pastries. Satisfied with the picnic on the table, he snapped his fingers. Sam Winchester dropped unceremoniously into the chair next to Gabriel. Sam scrambled out of the chair and pulled a gun from the back of his pants, aiming right for Gabriel.

“Hey honey!” Gabriel greeted Sam cheerfully.

Sams gaze seemed to break as he glanced around to try and get his bearings. He slowly lowered his weapon and his eyes quickly landed on Gabriel again.

“What?!” he demanded.

“Hey,” Gabriel grabbed the jar off the table and extended it to Sam. “honey?”

Chapter Text

“Gabriel?! But, you’re dead!” Sam was a mix of anger and suspicion.

“Clearly.” Gabriel shot back with a sarcastic smile, still shaking the honey jar at Sam, the spoon slowly wobbling in the sticky honey.

Sams eyes went wide. “Oh my god. Gabriel, am I dead? Where the hell am I?” Panic rose up in Sams voice as he took in his surroundings again without the haze of an angel taxi service. “Where's Dean?” The gun that Sam held loosely in his hands was again trained on the archangel, and Gabriel only cocked an eyebrow at it.

“Relax Sam” Gabriel said as he returned the jar of honey to the table with a sigh. “Deans fine, and you’re not dead. You two, I swear. Can’t I just pop you into a mysterious pocket dimension without you being all paranoid?”

“Send me back! Right now!” Sam was shoving the gun closer to Gabriel with every word, but Sams feet stayed planted right where they were.

Gabriel set an elbow on the table and placed his chin in his hand. “Sam, not two minutes ago you thought I was dead. Aren’t you at least a little curious as to how or why I am here in front of you right now?” He gestured to the seat that Sam fell into. “Why don’t you have a seat. You know that gun cant hurt me, anyway. What were you thinking?”

Sam eyed the former trickster cautiously. He knew better than to trust this being, he had had enough of his tricks to last two more lifetimes. But this location, did he call it a pocket dimension? it seemed quiet enough. Sam quickly surveyed the fields, keeping Gabriel in his periphery vision. Nothing except the archangel in front of him seemed like it was a danger.

He looked at the heavy gun, twisting his hands, seemingly questioning its usefulness against Gabriel. Which, he did in fact, know it was as useful as feather against a brick wall. Sams mind fought with itself, going over the pros and cons of sitting with the being that made Sams life miserable on more than one occasion and for months on end.

“Sam,” Gabriels soft voice broke Sam away from himself. “you are thinking too loudly. Just sit down and eat with me.”

The smells of the table made their way to Sam, and he noticed the food and the extra glass of hot chocolate for the first time since he arrived. He stared for a few minutes more, thinking through all the possible situations that could arise, escape routes, incantations on the tip of his tongue. A heavy sigh fell from Sam and he put his gun back in his pants. His face contorted into a frustrated scowl, but he reached up and pulled his chair a little further away from Gabriel and slowly sank into the chair.

“There you go,” Gabriel sing songed. “I knew you'd get there eventually.” Another spoonful of honey found its way to Gabriels cup. He held out the jar to Sam for the second time, but only received a look of disgust mixed with confusion.

“No thanks.” Sam said flatly. Gabriel merely shrugged and deposited the spoon in his mouth, licking the honey and dripping chocolate off the utensil.

“Gross!” Gabriels eyes shot up at Sams outburst, and he was fast enough to see a smile on Sams face. Although it vanished as soon as Sam saw he was being watched.

Gabriel giggled around the spoon. “Saw that, Sammy.“ He pulled the now cleaned spoon out of his mouth and gestured with it towards the fruit and flaky hand pies that littered the table. “Eat, Sam. I promise the foods not poisoned or anything.” He picked up a cherry filled empanada and took a large bite, sighing with pleasure at the taste. “Eat, drink and be merry and all that.” He said through the food in his mouth, spreading crumbs everywhere.

And, as much as he hated it, Sam could feel himself relaxing. The smells of the food was intoxicating, and he was a little sick of diner food and Deans greasy cooking. His eyes roamed the table, taking his time making his decision. He slowly grabbed for the same caramel apples that Gabriel had eaten before.

“Ooh, those are so good!” Gabriel gushed. “I had some earlier. Cas made them. Did you know he could cook?”

“Cas made these?” Sam asked as he took a bite of the apple, thrown off only a bit by the wonderful taste of honey caramel and the golden apple. “Wow, its delicious.”

“I know, right? Who knew he had a skill.” Sams protective walls finally crumbled and he lost himself in loud laughter.

“So, where am I, exactly?” Sam asked when his laughter died down. “You did say pocket universe, right? Am I even on earth anymore?”

“Yes, Sam,” Gabriel mocked annoyance. “Well, close enough. If you need an exact location, I suppose you can say we are earth adjacent.” He caught more cherry filling in his mouth as it was falling out of its crusty shell.

“Earth adjacent?” Sams hand was seemingly stuck on its way up to his mouth.

“Don’t worry your pretty little head, Sam you are perfectly safe with me.” The dance that Gabriels eyebrows did seemed to break Sams body out of his trance, and his cheeks grew hot with embarrassment. “Easy, cowboy.” Gabriel continued. “I’ll behave.” and he shot Sam a smirk that only served to deepen the red color on Sams cheeks.

“S-so what, is this where Cas lives?” the red color hadn’t gone down from Sams face, and he was desperate to change the subject. “Seems like a nice place.” He still wouldn't look back to Gabriel.

Gabriel brought the mug of hot chocolate up and took a long inhale of the rich chocolate drink. “I think it is more like a summer home. I'm house sitting right now. Don’t tell him that I brought my boyfriend over, though.” Another deadly smirk was sent in Sams direction. Sam sputtered his drink and choked a little.

“Shit!” Sams lap was burning slightly from the spilled drink. “What the hell?” He shot his own signature bitch face towards Gabriel, but it faded quickly, replaced by his own smirk. “You are flirting at an alarming rate. Are you sure I'm not dead?”

“No, Sam-a-lam.” Gabriel huffed a laugh. “Trust me, your fine.”

They sat for a while longer, eating and talking. Eventually Gabriel snapped the food away, and conjured up piles of flowers from the garden.

“What are these for?” Sam asked.

“Well, I don’t want to get up from the table ‘cuz I like talking to you, Sam, but I tend to fidget when I sit for too long. So I'm making flower crowns! Grab those shears and start cutting the steams, please.”

Sam stared at the pile of flowers and greenery on the table, then at the archangel starting to weave flowers together and smiling contently. Eventually he did what he was asked and was trimming flowers as Gabriel asked for them.

“So, I gotta ask,” Sam started, “whats with these bees? I know Cas has mentioned before that he watches them, but I didn’t think it went this far. Eight hives seems like a lot. Plus, why are they leaving us alone? Is your grace keeping them away?”

“No, not really.” Sams ever inquisitive mind always impressed Gabriel. “They are keeping an eye on you, but they like to keep their distance.” Gabriels hands worked deftly weaving and placing flowers. But then he paused and looked up at Sam “You wanna see something cool?”

Sam looked terrified. “No.”

“Shut up. Yes you do. Here,” he tossed a crown to Sam “put this on. Yellow roses and periwinkle for you,” he placed his own crown on his head gently, “and lavender for me.”

“That’s rather specific.” Suspicion filled Sams voice, even as he placed the crown of flowers on his head.

Gabriel only answered with a knowing smile, not his usual sharp smirk. He called over his shoulder “Hey, sugar! Come up and see me some time.”

“Who are you talking to?”

“Her.”

Gabriel held out his hand and Sam watched a lone little bee land in his palm. “Hello again.” He smiled down at her.

“They talk to you?” Sam leaned in closer.

Gabriel looked over to Sam and was startled at how close Sam was. “Sort of.” he recovered quickly. “I know they can understand me, but they just project a light humming. Castiel can actually hear words from them, though.”

The honey bee in his hand flapped its wings and hovered around Gabriel, returning to the invisible halo above the flowers.

“You sure like it up there, huh, sugar.”

Sam was watching intently, his eyes following the bees path. Gabriel tried something new, calling out with his grace to the other hives to see if they would respond.

Hey, come on out girls. Come see the new meat. But hands off. He’s mine.

The hives flashed yellows, fading back and forth from bright sunny yellows, creams slightly tinted with orange and golden bursts. Colors of laughter and curiosity. Bees leisurely made their way over to the table, circling both of the men. Sam looked up and noticed they were surrounded. He lept up from his seat, not sure what to do. He started to reach for his gun on instinct, but Gabriel reached up and placed a hand on his arm.

“As cute as it would be for you to point a gun with a flower crown on, you're not in any danger, Sam” Gabriel looked to the wall of bees that enveloped them. You can come in a little closer. He won’t bite. He looked back to Sam “Now, don’t freak out.”

Sam gave a quick nod, still not sure about the situation.

“Just a few at a time, please.” Gabriel called to the bees. “Hold out your hands, Sam”

Once again, Sam did as Gabriel asked and held his hands up, flat and palms up. Small groups of bees came in slowly and landed on Sams hands, investigated him, even a few crawling up under his sleeves. They crawled around his large fingers, traced his veins on the back of his hands, and when they were satisfied, they flew off and new bees would come and take their place. Some would hover around his flower crown, sneakily gathering pollen. All the while, Sam had a look of wonder on his face. The feel of them on his skin was weird, yet pleasant. He was smiling the whole time, and the looks he sent to Gabriel made the archangels heart flutter.

Once the entire colony had their fill of the hunter, they returned to their hives or the flowers. Sam sat heavily into his seat again, out of breath and in a state of fascination. “Gabriel, that was amazing!”

Gabriel had a few of the bees around him still, around his halo and flower crown, some in his hands. He smiled towards Sam, another genuine smile, and it was Sams turn to feel warmed by the look.

A moment of peaceful quiet settled between them.

“So,” Sam interrupted the silence, a little bit nervous. “should we head to the lake? you seem like the kind of archangel that likes to go skinny dipping.”

He flashed an anxious smile that was slowly killing Gabriel.

“As much as I would love to, believe me, we better not, kiddo. Cas didn't say anything, but I'd bet my halo he would really hate me if we went messing with it. Lets head for the forest instead. You can ravish me against the redwoods, my sweet Sammy.”

Sam turned an even deeper shade of red than before, and a shade he never thought possible on a hunter. Shy was never a word Sam would use to describe himself, but that was what he felt he was reduced to. A mountain of a man who could kill a vampire without a second thought, but around Gabriel he found himself not sure of himself, his hands fumbling and words failing him.

“Um, sure. Sounds nice.” Realizing what Gabriel had said, Sam was falling over his words again. “I mean, well, you know,” he took a deep breath. “A walk sounds nice.”

"Off we go, then." Gabriel stood and out his hand out in a gesture that said after you and Sam awkwardly stood and headed towards the edge of the flower garden. He looked for a path or walkway, but found nothing but color blocking him.

Sam hesitated to take a step towards the flowers, his large frame was not made for skipping gingerly through the daisies. he looked pleadingly back to Gabriel. He really didn't want to crush Castiels beautiful flowers. But Gabriel encouraged him to press on, and as Sam brought a foot down, the flowers parted, and a stepping stone started to appear. It started as a pinprick and grew in size until it was able to hold both of Sams large feet comfortably. Sam put both feet down and rocked on the balls of his feet, testing the solidity of the stone under him, he cast another look to Gabriel, his eyes bright and a broad smile on his lips.

"Well that's one problem solved." Sam said, turning back towards Gabriel, "but it's still miles to the forest. I can barely see the edge of the flowers. We'll be walking all day."
"Just go, would ya. You'll see."

Sam shrugged lightly and turned back around. He took a few steps, then Gabriel got his attention again.

“Oh my dad, Sam! there's something on your back!” Sam twisted his neck dramatically to see what twas there. “Don't panic! I'll get it!”

Without any other warning, Gabriel lept up and wrapped his arms and legs around Sams tall body.

“Surprise! Its me! Now, onward moose!”

“Hey!” Sam tried to push him off, but Gabriel just clutched onto his sides even tighter.
 “You think that I'm going to carry you the whole way there?! I'm not your pack mule!”

“I know. I said moose.” Gabriel purred into Sams ear, making Sams stomach do a flip. “Plus its not as far as you think. Now go.” A gentle squeeze to his hips had Sam regretting getting up this morning, and he slapped Gabriels thighs playfully.

“Stop, ass.”

“You like it.”

Sam gave up and trudged on, his arms hooked around and under Gabriels thighs. As he walked further and further, he noticed the forest getting closer and closer. It was coming up to them faster than it should be, based on how far away it seemed to be. They were only walking for about ten minutes before when they reached the forests edge.

“How was that even possible? It was miles away.” Sam wondered out loud.

“This place bends around all the time. Cas and I may be able to fly around everywhere, but it looks like he designed it with you humans in mind. Or maybe just one human.”

Sam noticed the man at the lake first. “Speaking of…” He twisted his body so Gabriel was looking in the direction of the lake as well. And even though they were impossibly too far away to see anything, they could both see a figure sitting on the edge of the dock. “Is Dean really here?” Sam asked.

“No, its just one of his dreams. I guess Cas is the protective boyfriend.” Gabriel slipped off of Sams back. “Even when he cant be around him. He’s just sleeping at your HQ.”

“But why is Dean dreaming here?”

“Because sweet baby Cas is a hopeless romantic.”

Gabriel cast his eyes up the long length of the hunter in front of him, taking in his strong yet soft features. He admired him through lashes as Sam watched the silhouette of his brother sitting on the lakes dock. Sam felt the archangels gaze on him, and turned to take in the affectionate look Gabriel was regarding him with. The gears in Sams head worked for a few minutes to decipher the meaning behind Gabriels scrutiny, but when he did, the redness crept back up into his face and he was fumbling over his thoughts.

Gabriel snickered lightly. “I can still hear you.” he said as he tapped a finger to his temple. Sam tried to look anywhere but at Gabriel, and shoved his hands into his pockets, not knowing what to do with them all of a sudden.

“Shall we go, Sam?” Gabriel gestured his arm toward the wide trail leading into the forest.

“Yeah, OK.” Sams voice was a few octaves higher than normal.

They turned to enjoy a leisurely walk in the woods.

Both men stopped immediately, motionless in the grassy part of the field, their eyes on a sight that was not there a moment ago.

One stared in wonder, the other in dread.

Chapter Text

“Oh my god. Gabriel, its beautiful!”

Sams eyes were wide with amazement, taking in the animal that was in front of him.

What stood before him was the most enormous horse Sam had ever laid eyes on.

The head towered high above Sam as it gently surveyed its new surroundings. The hide was a pure white, fading into deep blacks as it traveled down the strong muscled legs. The hair around the hooves was longer and a blood red color. It floated and licked up its legs past the knees like fire, constantly moving. Its eyes are a deep black opal, and the mane is a matching shade. It shimmers and glints in the sunshine as it flows like its immersed in water, floating in all directions.

“Wow.” Sam whispered. He cast a glance to Gabriel, and what he saw made his heart stop.

Gabriels features were locked in an angry scowl, his body in a guarded stance, and his angel blade had dropped into Gabriels hand from where he kept it hidden.

“Gabriel,” seeing the archangel battle ready terrified Sam. He pulled his gun out and pointed it at the animal in the field. “What is it?”

“Extremely deadly.” He took a step closer to Sam, putting himself in front of the hunter. “Put that away, Sam. Its useless.”

Sam rolled his eyes while still keeping a look at the creature that had them on edge. There was no way he was going to leave himself unarmed if Gabriel had pulled his blade out.

When he focused fully at the animal again, Sam found it to be staring straight at them. It was unnerving, like it was peering into his soul. Suddenly, a booming sound resonated through the air, like an orchestra that all plays at once but are not playing the same notes.

I Am thE mArE

"No, you're not." Gabriels voice was hostile and powerful. Sam could feel his body vibrate a bit at the sound of it. "You are something more. But nothing about you is good."

I Am mAny thIngs. bUt mOstly I Am hUngrY

It's eyes focused fully on Sams. The color within them swirled into a deep foreboding red. Sam could feel himself losing control of his body and going slack. He still was on his feet but his hands fell to his sides and the gun thudded on the soft ground.

He could feel the pressure in his chest. The searching. The groping. It felt wrong but all Sam could do was whisper a broken "help" to Gabriel, who was already clutching Sams chest doing his best to block the mental invasion.

AwAkE

Suddenly, Sam felt the intrusion leave his body. He let out a pained breath and tried to steady himself on Gabriels shoulders.

The hives in he flower field were flashing colors at an insane rate. Reds and dark oranges and blacks. They were restless and knew there was danger, but neither Sam nor Gabriel would let the creature out of there sights. When Sam was released and fell into Gabriel, a battle cry went out through the hives to defend their people.

The hives emptied at an amazing speed, and every able bodied bee was hurtling itself across the field to help. They were screaming at Gabriel to run, to get as far away as they could, that they would distract it. But all they could hear in Gabriels head was SAM SAM SAM SAM!

They whizzed past Gabriel, and when he saw them hurling themselves at the beast, he tried to call out to them. No! Stop! You’re going to get hurt! But they didn’t listen to him. They wouldn’t let harm come to Gabriel and his friend.

When they reached the Mare, they encased it in the same way that they had when meeting Sam and Gabriel, but there was nothing inquisitive or affectionate in their flight patterns. The buzzing was angry, furious that a strange being had come into their territory.

Unfortunately, they were no more than an annoyance to the invader. A blast of sound erupted from with in the swirl of angry bees, so loud it caused Sam to cover his ears and fall to his knees. A ripple of power came immediately after, and the brave bees were scattered in every direction. Both Sam and Gabriel were pelted with the tiny bodies of their would be rescuers and the ground around them were littered with the dead. Others were struggling to stay up in the air, trying to fly to any shelter they could find.

And underneath the swirling distraction, the Mare had changed. Its hide was no longer pure white, but had gone black as the night. The flowing mane and tail had changed into fire. Actual fire bursting off the back of the giant beast, reaching high up into the air. And the beast was bucking wildly. Turning in tight circles kicking its legs and throwing his head from side to side, trying to inflict more damage to whatever happened to be around him.

“NO!” Gabriel tightened his grip on his angel blade, ready to protect Sam. His glare never left the Mare, but out of the corner of his eye, he spied little Sugar sputtering through the air, coming towards him. She was weak, he could tell she wouldn’t last much longer. The tiny bee finally made it all the way to Gabriel, landing on the front of his jacket. Exhausted and defeated, she fell into Gabriels chest pocket.

I’m so sorry, Sugar.

Angel…
 
At the word, a lump formed in Gabriels throat and he could feel tears starting to form in his eyes. The first words he could hear from her and they would be Sugars last. Well, if Gabriel could do nothing else he wouldn’t let this little bee, the first one who accepted him, die. He reached his free hand up over his pocket and released a bit of his Grace, healing Sugar.

The Mare froze on the spot, and it twisted his head to train his blood red eyes on Gabriel.

pOwEr!

Its mouth opened wide, revealing a set of teeth like razors. Each one sharp enough to tear through anything it wanted. The wind around Sam and Gabriel picked up, getting stronger and stronger, pushing them towards that gaping maw. Their flower crowns and other debris went flying away in the strong wind. Even with Sam already on his knees, he still was having a hard time keeping himself upright. He could see Gabriel have to plant his feet, his knees bent and his arms up trying to keep his balance.

Through the roar of the wind, a new sound could be heard. A sharp, high pitched whine. It pulsed and chittered. Sam looked up to see what was happening, and Gabriel fell to his knees beside him. Sam scrambled over to him to help him, and his whole body shuddered in horror at the sight next to him. Gabriels eyes had rolled back into his head, his mouth hanging open wide, and his Grace being slowly pulled out of it. It trailed a twisted path across the field and went down the throat of the Mare.

Real, visceral panic rose in Sam. He was scared. What were they dealing with that could suck the Grace out of an Archangel?

He grabbed Gabriel by both of his shoulders and shook him violently.

“Gabriel! You’ve gotta wake up! Please! GABRIEL!” he shouted over the thunderous wind around them.

There was no change in Gabriel. In his panicked state, Sam slammed his hand over Gabriels mouth, trying and failing to ebb the flow of Grace out of him. His eyes jumped around and his mind raced to think of a solution, but all he could do was clutch to Gabriel and try and protect his body as best as he could.

And then Sam heard a tiny voice coming through in his head.

...to hear me! Sam! Can you hear me! Call Castiel, Sam!

Oh, how could he have been so stupid.

“Castiel!” Sam prayed as loud as he could. “Please! You have to help! Gabriel's in trouble!”

The same tiny voice called back in Sams mind.

Close your eyes, Sam. Gabriels too.

He didn’t question it. Sam pulled Gabriel into his wide chest and wrapped his arms around Gabriels head, doing his best to keep his eyes covered. He buried his own face into Gabriels hair, squeezing his eyes shut tight. The ache in his chest from before was fading, and Sam realized it was because Gabriels grace was still being pulled out and traveling through him. Tears formed in his eyes and Sam didn’t fight them.

Castiel appeared in an instant in front of the two huddled in fear, between them and the Mare. His wings were exposed, the feathers sharp and ready for a fight, his angry eyes glowing and swirling Grace around them. He extended his hands towards the Mare and sent out a massive pulse of Grace energy.

The surge of Castiels power collided with the beast, hard. Its massive head was thrown back and its legs stumbled. It wasn't knocked to the ground, but the wind and the strange sound stopped suddenly and Gabriels Grace was no longer leaving him.

Sam didn't dare let go of Gabriel. He could still feel the power of Castiels true form leaking out of his vessel. When Castiel spoke, Sam thought he and Gabriel would be torn apart right then.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ANYTHING TO BE HERE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION.

I Am hUntIng. And I fOllOw thE smEll Of fOOd.

Castiel could feel Sam behind him, lightly rocking the still unconscious Gabriel. He could hear the comforting words Sam was whispering in Gabriels ear, although he was not sure which of them it was meant for. Castiel pulled back his true form so as not to frighten Sam further.

“Food?” Cas asked. He backed up slowly, never taking his eyes off the now pacing creature in front of him. “Sam,” he crouched next to the hunter grasping his brother like his life depended on it, “Sam, look at me.” Sam tried to duck his head in further. “Its alright, Sam. Its safe to look at me.”

Sam slowly lifted his eyes up to Castiel, who was still eyeing the Mare.

“What did it want, Sam?”

Sams voice wavered. “Umm, it looked, I don't know, inside me. It hurt. And then he said “awake” and let me go.”

Castiels face steeled. He slowly rose to his full height, his eyes never leaving the Mare. “Shit.”

Sam froze. He didn't even breath.

The Mare was pacing restlessly still. His fire mane was charring the leaves of the tall trees too close to the forests edge. Those red eyes were leaving the men in front of him, and he stuck his nose in the air, taking long loud inhales through his nostrils.

“Sam, this thing, it eats dream souls.” Cas' whole body was shaking with fear, rage, protectiveness, ferocity.

The Mare took another sniff of the air, and froze like a deer hearing a twig snap.

“Oh my god,” Sams face went white, “Dean is here, Cas. On the dock.”

The Mares eyes snapped in the direction of the lake.

“I know.”

With unbelievable strength, the Mare lept over the now unimportant men in front of him. He took off at an incredible speed, galloping towards the dock with Deans dream self. A primal scream ripped itself out of Sam. He dropped Gabriel, still out cold, on the ground harder than he intended and took off after the Mare.

He could here Castiel yelling something behind him, but he didn't stop. He couldn't stop. The only thought going through his head right now was to protect Dean, even if he no idea how to do that.

He ran as fast as his muscled legs would carry him. The world bent around him as it had before, but the Mare was faster, stronger. It reached the dock before him.

“NO! DEAN!!” He screamed at his brother.

yEs! gIvE mE thE drEAm! I Am hUngrY!

The demonic laughter was echoing over the fields as it ran down the dock towards Dean, still sitting in his fishing chair. Sam was still running, but he knew he wouldn't get there in time. The tears were running down his cheeks in his fear and frustration.

Sam could see that fearsome mouth opening up again, and he screamed when it grabbed Dean roughly by the shoulder. He saw it take the last few steps, then leap off the end of the dock, into the lake.

Sam kept running, nothing could stop him.

His lungs burned and his legs were on fire.

The thought that this was a bad idea never crossed his mind as he ran the length of the dock and dove in after his brother.

Chapter Text

Castiels mouth dropped open as the giant monster pushed off its hind legs to catapult itself high over their heads. He was frozen in place for a moment while he watched this demon animal take off at an incredible speed towards the lake where Castiel knew Deans dream self was resting quietly in his folding chair. Thoughts of protecting Dean are screaming at him to move, to fly as fast as he can to the hunter and shelter his subconscious apparition.

But before he has a chance to even flap his wings, an animalistic scream tears Castiel out of his stupor. He watches, still unmoving, as Sam drops Gabriel and sprints after the beast.

“SAM! STOP!” It appears that the only thing working on Castiel is his mouth.

But Sam either can’t hear him or ignores him and he just keeps running.

Whatever the reason, Castiel knows that Sam is going to need his help. But he can’t leave Gabriels side without checking him first. A quick glance told Castiel that Gabriel was at least breathing, but he was still unconscious.

Gabriel had fallen on his side when Sam dropped him, one arm pinned underneath him and the other flung up over his face. What troubled Castiel, though, was that Gabriels aura seemed to be different, almost nonexistent. He didn’t see the true form of the archangel, just the slumped form of the vessel he had possessed for thousands of years.

He took a quick, yet cautious, step towards his brother to see if he was still ok. But when Castiels foot hits the ground, he hears a sickening crunch, and his mind freezes.

He needs to look down to see what he stepped on, but he already knows. Eyes that were fearsome a few moments ago slid shut tightly. Castiel tilts his head down and reluctantly opens his eyes, and when he does, they are wet and red.

He gazes at the bodies of his bees under his feet, strewn about in the grass. He calls to them with his Grace, begging them to get up. The few survivors of the massive attack start to make their way to Castiel as he falls to his knees, tears slipping past his lashes.

The sound that comes out of Castiel shakes the ground and rattles the leaves off the trees.

~*~

Sam can feel the ground trembling under his feet as he runs. He can’t tell if can’t tell if it’s coming from the ground itself or if it’s his body quivering with pure fear as he sprints across the fields.

He wasn’t thinking when he took off after the Mare. He knows there is nothing, absolutely nothing that he can do to hurt this creature. But as he runs, Sam is thinking through every scrap of information stored away in his mind. Maybe there is some obscure clue buried away, that seemed useless at the time, which could help him save Dean.

He finds nothing.

Sam doesn’t notice when the ground stops shaking. All he can feel is the burn in his legs and his throat forcing out a scream.

“NO! DEAN!”

The Mare grabs Dean by the shoulder, razor sharp teeth sinking into the soft skin and muscle. The dream Dean opens his mouth like he’s screaming, but no sound comes out. He’s shaken like a rag doll as the Mare takes the last few paces towards the end of the dock and leaps towards the center of the lake.

Sam can’t catch up to the monster, but the way the world around him is bending, he’s not that far behind. The sound of his feet changes from the soft thudding of the dirt under his feet to the hollow banging of wood. Sam takes a few breaths in and out to prepare his lungs for holding a long swallow of air because he is about to do something incredibly stupid.

With one last intake of breath, and no hesitation in his stride, Sam dove off the edge of the dock into the depths of the lake.

His legs kick frantically, propelling Sam deep into the warm water. He cautiously blinks a few times, trying to open his eyes in the water. He expects only to be able to see a blur, for his eyes to not be able to make out anything in the haze of the dark void, but he is surprised that everything is clear. There is no cloudiness, no film over his vision. He can clearly see the Mare swimming deeper and deeper, taking his brother ever farther from his reach.

But Sam keeps swimming down. He will never abandon his brother. Even when all hope seems lost. He has to keep trying.

The last breath of air he took is starting to run out. His lungs are straining as he kicks, screaming for more oxygen.

Through the sound of blood rushing in his ears, Sam can hear a muffled splash behind him. For a moment, he is frightened, no sure of what leapt into the lake after him. Sam’s legs kick a little faster, but he is relieved when it’s Castiel that swims beside him. The angel pauses for a moment next to Sam, his trench coat floating all around him.

Castiel opens his mouth. “Sam, breathe.”

The words are clear in Sams ears, unobstructed by the water. And in a flash, Castiel takes off deeper into the lake, faster than any human could ever hope to keep up with.

Sam is confused. How can he breathe? He’s underwater. So he ignores the pains all over his body and keeps swimming, deeper and deeper. He can tell when he starts to pass out, but he can’t turn back and leave Dean. I’d rather drown than leave him behind! Sam thinks. A few seconds longer and he can’t take any more.

He opened his mouth to suck in a needed breath, and assumed he’d get a swallow of water right into his lungs. Sam expected this was where he died.

But he didn’t.

Instead of water, Sam sucked air. Air as fresh as it was in the flower field. He took another unsteady breath, and got more of the same.

“How…?”

The single word escaped Sam, and it sounded as clear as when Castiel spoke to him. He didn’t dwell on it too long, he was just grateful, and Sam continued to chase the faint red glow of the Mares mane into the depths.

But, a few more minutes of swimming and Sam began to realize that this was a mission without hope. This lake seemed to have no bottom, that he could swim for a thousand years and never reach it. He hadn’t seen Castiel come back up, so he could only assume that even he was still chasing the Mare.

Sam stopped, just floated in the water, thinking. He really didn’t want to turn back.

But this was impossible.

Suddenly, his mind returned to Gabriel, passed out and his Grace leaking out of him.

“Castiel will help Dean.” Sam told himself, in the strong tone of unsure optimism. He just had to convince himself for a second that it was true, so that he could force his body to turn around and begin the climb towards the surface.

Sam is fairly sure that the world bent around him faster than before, because he breaches the smooth face of the water in what seems like no time at all.

He treads water momentarily, trying to get his bearings, when he notices Gabriels slumped figure on the grass, curled up in himself, his back to the water.

The feelings of fear return and Sam has to fight the panic as he swims over to the edge of the dock and hastily climbs the small attached ladder. He heaves himself a little ungracefully over the edge and water streams off of his body and spills onto the dock. When he reaches down unconsciously to try and squeeze some of the excess water out of his shirt, he is bone dry. The wood is still covered in water but everything on Sam, including his socks and his hair, looks like it never had been wet at all.

It’s just another strange thing in this strange place that, in any other situation, Sam would either be cautious of or want to learn everything he could about it. But this situation is far from normal.

Sam ran the short distance to Gabriel, and when he rolled the archangel over to him, was relieved to see he was conscious.

“Gabriel! Hey, are you ok?”

Sams hands were running over Gabriels body, looking for obvious injuries, but found none. That calmed his nerves a little.

But Gabriel wasn’t answering him. He was just staring straight up into the blue sky, lying limp on his back, letting Sam jostle and prod him without any resistance.

When Sam noticed the silence dragging on a little too long, he abandoned Gabriels body, bringing his large hands up to cradle Gabriels face.

“Hey, you gotta answer me. Please, Gabriel. Please answer me.” Sams voice sounded desperate, and it was starting to crack a little.

But Gabriel still stared blankly skyward, and he still hadn’t moved on his own. Sam grabbed him by the shoulders and hauled Gabriel up roughly to a sitting position, letting out a terrified grunt as he did so. He shook Gabriels shoulders, trying to get him to focus.

“Gabriel! Snap out of it! Please! Talk to me!”

Gabriel blinked slowly a few times before his eyes managed to focus on Sam instead of looking through him.

“Hey,” Sam said, softer “there he is.” He brought a hand up to palm Gabriels face, Sams fingers reaching into his hair. “Scared me for a minute. Are you ok? Please, you have to tell me.”

“No.”

The word was barely a whisper, and hearing it made any hope Sam had for Gabriel vanish. Sam rocked back onto his heels, his whole body sinking with defeat.

Gabriel slowly lowered his face into his hands, and sat there. He didn’t cry, he wasn’t shaking. He was just still.

Seeing this once lively angel breaking down in front of him, and knowing that it was just another thing he didn’t know how to fix, Sam did the only thing he could think of. He pulled Gabriel over to his chest, and cradled him. Gently rocking them back and forth, he tried to comfort Gabriel with soft words and delicate touches.

They sat there, undisturbed, for what seemed like hours, but in actuality was only minutes. A large sudden splashing from the lake had Sam grasping Gabriel tighter, but the familiar sound of wings declared Castiels return from the depths.

Alone.

Shit.