(An angel’s sword tears an angel’s grace apart and scatters the pieces. Gabriel wishes that he’d taken the time to write down everything that should be known when you’re going up against angels, because Castiel doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does, and neither do most of the others. He should have at least told Kali.
It’s funny what you never think to tell someone until it becomes important.)
Kali brings him back months later, his empty vessel perfectly preserved and slumped against one of the stone alters where Gabriel used to accept sacrifices. Virgins were a favourite in the early days, but he bored easily and ended up preferring the chase to the sex after a while. Then came candy and, well, he was glad that sacrifices were beginning to go out of style when he developed a taste for it. There’s old magic in the trees that hand over the stone, and the dirt that used to be soaked with blood.
Gabriel has a moment of awareness, a second where he begins to open his mouth to speak before it snatches control away and pushes him back to where Loki once resided.
(Kali brings him back, and something comes with him.
It calls itself Gabriel, and he has no way to correct it.)
Halfway through the first night, Kali realises that Gabriel isn’t Gabriel anymore. He’s not even Loki. There’s a frat boy who liked to slip pills into girls’ drinks dead in a motel room, and a dozen of his friends pinned to the ceiling in the frat house, their stomachs slashed. The sound of their blood dripping into puddles on the floor isn’t going to leave her any time soon.
Twelve people who did nothing but get drunk and act like idiots. Twelve people who didn’t deserve to be punished for anything. There’s blood under Gabriel’s nails and a few drops across one cheek. Gabriel is cruel, he’s manipulative and he’s a bastard, but this isn’t him.
“I wanted to kill them.” Gabriel’s eyes flicker, something dangerous stirring in them, and she hopes that she imagines the flash of colour she sees there. She wants for the lack of colour, the pitch black that she’s seen dozens of times. “There’s a plan.”
He doesn’t claim that it’s his plan and Kali knows what she has to do.
(It takes longer than Gabriel expected for Kali to notice the difference, and Gabriel wonders if he was really that sadistic before he died.
Probably, but he’s only sorry that he didn’t tell Kali where the line was.)
“I never should have brought you back,” Kali holds the vial of blood, and it’s still half full, still binding him to her. A part of her hopes that there isn’t enough left of Gabriel for him to be aware. “Something went wrong. I’m sorry.”
“I’m not. He always wanted to get away, and now he has. It just wasn’t on his terms.”
“You’re not Gabriel.”
“He’s alive, you know, inside this meatsuit, and he can hear every word that you say.”
Kali doesn’t hesitate, but she says, “I’m sorry.”
Gabriel laughs and asks why he thought that she’d even think about letting him live.
Gabriel-who-isn’t-Gabriel, with Loki’s power, amplified by the tiny pieces of grace that had been left behind, with Loki’s memories and Loki’s mind, Loki’s lack of conscience, a demon’s power, he snaps his fingers. The blood is gone and Kali’s security is gone with it. He pushes her power down until it’s a tiny, terrified thing that she can’t even reach.
He leaves the room covered in her blood, but he doesn’t kill her. He doesn’t know the ins and outs of how she brought him (them) back, but it could be tied up in her life and killing her could kill them all. Gabriel urges him to follow that plan, to send them all back. That would be stupid and the Winchesters would make the connection immediately. Instead, he leaves her inches from death and holds her there.
“Nice try,” he says, “but I’m not letting this slip through my fingers, not when I’ve got a nice clean slate to work with and so much power.”
He calls for an ambulance. He can’t risk Kali dying accidentally.
Five minutes after the EMTs arrive, the building begins to burn.
(After all, Gabriel wasn’t the only thing pulled through from Purgatory, and he’s not the only one who wants to cover his tracks.)
A long time ago, Gabriel asked a question. Loki, Loki was desperate and scared and angry, and the power of an angel was too much to resist, and he said, yes; the power of the archangel burned right through him, burned him out.
Gabriel never said sorry because he never was, not until it was far too late and he knew what it was like to be trapped in his own body, his own mind—except it’s not, because it’s as stolen as the name he once used—and now he wonders if this is his punishment for everything he did. The demon burns him without damaging him in any way, and it’s like being slowly killed every single second of every day, and maybe this is what he deserves for everything he’d done.
”I killed so many people,” he said in Purgatory, watching the black smoke rise in front of him, reaching out towards him. “Is this why you’re doing this? Did He send you?”
Another time it was, “Loki agreed. I didn’t make him do anything. It was his own greed.”
The demon was silent.
Maybe Gabriel really does deserve this, but he tries not to think about it when he sees what’s happening, the blood that sprays across the walls and the babies that cry for mothers who are never coming back. He touches his fingers to a small child’s forehead and hopes for the Winchesters to notice that something’s wrong.
Gabriel would pray, but he’s not sure that he believes in his Father any more.
(There was someone in Purgatory, who liked to tear some people open and set building on fire. He took one look at Gabriel and smiled.
“Well, well, well, would you look at what we have here.”
Lucifer stabbed Gabriel, and it was more than just a simple wound. It spread through his grace and ripped it into tiny pieces, leaving only the pieces that were too contaminated to truly be thought of as parts of his grace. Leaving only a trickster. There was more of Loki left than Gabriel, but Loki’s soul was long gone.
There was no blood because he had no blood to spill, and it hurt almost as much as being stabbed with his own sword, but he didn’t scream until he reached for his power and found what little was left being snatched away from him by the demon.
Tricksters can be corrupted, and Purgatory was and is full of monsters.
“Now pay attention, because this is what I want you to do,” he said, and then Gabriel wasn’t alone for the first time in a long time.)
“I know you,” Gabriel says and the demon smiles—using his vessel, of all things, and that’s probably a stupid thing to be pissed off about, but Loki said yes to him. “I know who you are, and as soon as I remember, I’m going to lock you back in Purgatory and put you so far away from everything else that you cannibalise yourself.”
The photographs are familiar in a way that’s more annoying. The demon lays them out of the table, ignoring Gabriel’s attempts to get his attention.
I know who you are. I know your name, I met you before, who are you? I know you were an angel, and then you fell. You fell for Lucifer and you got screwed over when he got locked up in that cage.
“We both loved our brothers,” and Gabriel can’t say what the demon doesn’t want to hear, and he can’t tell him that Lucifer never loved the demons—You’re disposable, a way to get what he wants, he doesn’t give a shit!—he settles for looking at the photos instead.
The demon sets another photograph down. Female. Blonde. Young. Dead. A flash and Gabriel sees her body swinging from something, but he can’t tell what. All he can see if the slow movement of her body from side to side. Another photo. Female. Brunette. Young. Dead. Someone snapped her neck, but Gabriel can still feel the power she held, that played a part in her death. The man who killed the second woman dies when he’s shot, but that’s not a normal bullet.
“Missed one,” the demon says. “They still count, even if they got to come back afterwards.”
The slow, sickening realisation that comes with the final photograph is something Gabriel never wanted.
(It’s like pressing against a glass window. Gabriel can watch, can see everything through his own eyes, but he can’t do anything. The demon—whose name is important, whose name was taken from Gabriel along with years of memories that he knows he will need at some point—sometimes lets Gabriel watch the worst ones: the brothers and sisters who enter the room at the wrong moment; the father who is absent or too slow; the child who isn’t taken from the room before the fire spreads; the people, gods and angels he knew before.
He sees other things as well. A nursery. A blonde woman. A man making a deal. A bullet heading right for him, and the too-late realisation that it’s going to kill him. The Winchesters, Gabriel remembers one day. Sam Winchester was in a time loop to teach him a lesson, and he’d be lying if he didn’t admit that he liked watching him snap, once, twice, a thousand times. Sam, Dean, Castiel. Gabriel grabs at the fragmented memories and tries to piece them together. He doesn’t know why the demon—angel, a voice in the back of his head whispers, he was an angel once, remember?—is doing this, but it’s not going to be good news.
Sam’s photo stares up at him from the table and Gabriel pushes against the demon’s power, dragging what’s left of his grace to him but he’s lost too much of it and the demon’s tapping in to most of it. His fight’s more of a tickle than a real struggle, and it’s over before it really begins.
It’s like pressing against a glass window, and no matter how hard he tries, Gabriel can’t break through.)
He washes his hands and scrapes the blood out from under his nails, humming quietly. His host continues to threaten him, edging closer to beginning with every word, but it’s hardly a whisper. If the original key for a lock is gone, you replace the lock or have a new one made from the original. Or you can find the key. Purgatory can’t be harder to open than Hell itself. Maybe he can even bring back some of the better results. With the Winchesters unaware, and the archangel almost gone, save for his power, maybe he’ll have a chance this time. After all, who suspects the dead?
Yes, things are looking up.
In the flickering light of the bathroom, his eyes flash yellow for a second.