It starts off with a witch, or rather a witch hunt. A witch that had left a collection of nasty traps all across the city. Sam has cold congealed miscellaneous magical stuff (that Dean insisted he didn't want to know the ingredients to) smeared across his forehead and both eyelids and the world kind of looks like Salvador Dali painting. Which is very unpleasant and gives them both sickness inducing headaches. But the stuff lasts long enough that when they get back to the motel, and find Castiel and Gabriel having an angel stare off, Sam discovers something.
Angels really do have halos.
Castiel's is small and bright and if Sam was willing to use the words 'shiny' and 'beautiful' to describe what's connected to something that currently looks like a grown man. He would have done. Though not out loud. At least not where Dean could hear him.
Gabriel's...Gabriel's is more like a crown.
He can't shake the image, can't get it out of his head long after the stuff has worn off and Gabriel looks like Gabriel again. Smug and obnoxious and unreliable. Completely lacking any sort of calm or serenity. Or anything remotely of an angelic nature. Like the world's weirdest magic eye picture.
But Sam can't stop seeing it. He has the image seared into the front of his skull.
He wonders if he can touch it, wonders if he'd be able to. He doesn’t stop thinking about it when they head out later to check one final time for traps. Or when Dean takes Castiel to the room next door.
He thinks maybe, up until now, it's never really sunk in that Gabriel is an angel. A proper angel, an Archangel
With a halo.
Which he figures is the reason he eventually finds himself stood behind the chair Gabriel has thrown himself into with a hand in his hair.
Gabriel stops chewing on whatever confectionery he's snapped up for himself today and makes a confused noise like Sam has gone mad when no one was looking.
It occurs to Sam that this could be considered suggestive. Though the fact that he can't feel anything is oddly frustrating.
"You have a halo," Sam says.
Gabriel tries to look at him sideways without dislodging his hand.
"Uh huh, angel, kind of comes with the wings and the flash photography and the superiority complex."
"An actual halo, I saw it."
"You can't see it," Gabriel tells him. "It's not real here, it doesn't exist here. You're not supposed to -" The sentence cuts off when Sam tips his head back, wrecks the softness of his hair.
He makes a strained noise.
"It looks like a crown," Sam says, voice quiet but firm.
Gabriel's inhale comes in sharp and desperate.
"Your halo is a crown," Sam adds shakily and his fingers tighten without him meaning them too.
Gabriel hisses something that's not even close to pain and tips his head back and his hair is so warm.
"It's not a crown," Gabriel says, voice low and amused and something else, something heavier. Then he snorts like Sam has suggested some sort of strange blasphemy.
"I was wondering if I could touch it," Sam says.
Chocolate hits the table and Sam thinks that's the first time Gabriel has ever dropped food.
"If it was possible -"
Gabriel breathes out and Sam's wrists are suddenly warm, the vague push of resistance above where his hands are still moving in Gabriel's hair. Which now gives off bright sparks when he pulls his fingers through it. Shining like it's sitting under something bright and gold.
Sam exhales and it's much louder than he means it to be.
"You do realise this counts as naughty touching, right?" Gabriel says thickly.
Sam clears his throat.
"I, er, kind of assumed as much," he says. But he doesn’t stop.
Gabriel makes a pleased sound and tips his head back into Sam's hands.