Gabriel was distracted. Here he was, finally standing up to his big brother Lucifer, just when he needed to concentrate the most, his mind was on other things. Right now, knowing that there was every possible that this could go horribly wrong. That he would lose the upper hand that his life would end at the hands of his brother.
That's not where his mind lay.
His mind lay on other things. The events that led up to this moment… his final stand. The events that finally gave him the backbone he had thought he lost long ago.
He remembered back in 1944. He was struggling. His vessel was slowly crumbling around him. His vessel couldn't contain him any longer. He was annoyed, frustrated. Not even the demi-god Loki can contain the grace of an Archangel without combusting in him. But at least he had taken on the powers of the God. The powers of a Trickster. Certainly added a useful set of skills to his arsenal. Added a lot of fun to his witness protection on Earth.
But right now, what he needed was to find a human vessel. One that was capable of containing his grace without breaking down halfway up the road. As he stumbled weakly around the planet he accidently came across the D-Day landings. Thousands of troops, landing on the beaches, raining down from the skies, to defeat the Nazi's.
He must admit he admired the human's plucky nature. But from what he had seen, they didn't really have a chance. That's when he felt something, a human soul stronger than the others. He observed a young male paratrooper land well away from his intended destination. From what Gabriel could tell, this American trooper had the strength to contain him. But he couldn't just go and take him. He was bound by Angel law, they can't take a vessel without permission. And a young soldier was really going to yes and let him take him far away from the fighting, while his mates just are left to die.
So he followed this trooper around France. He watched him battle against the odds and reunite with his unit. Easy Company. He found that his vessel's name was Sgt. Warren Muck, nicknamed 'Skip'. A mortar man. He watched him and his friends fight their way across Normandy, France. Watched him liberate Carentan. Watched him invade Belgium right up to the moment they began the siege of a small town named Foy, Belgium. They were cold, hungry, and low on supplies. But they still fought bravely on.
The guys had more bravery in their little frozen finger than Gabriel had had in his entire existence.
They almost made him look bad.
But as he sat, invisible, next to Muck and Penkala's foxhole, he looked up into the sky and saw another flare. Another flare to mark another gun barrage from the enemy. But something about this one felt different.
The barrage started. It was like the whole forest was exploding round him. He saw Muck and Penkala leap into their foxhole, desperate for the little cover it had to offer. He saw them gesturing wildly for George Luz to get to them. He saw the terror echoed into all three of their faces. But Luz was so terrified it was like his feet wouldn't work. He kept falling over. Both Gabriel and Luz paused to look as they heard the whistle of a shell nearby. Gabriel watched in horror as it landed direct in the centre of Muck and Penkala's foxhole. They barely even had time to think, to escape. To desperate to save Luz they hadn't heard it, before they were blown to smithereens.
Gabriel reacted quickly and grabbed Muck's soul before it passed up into heaven. He asked him the question. Would he be his vessel? Would he be an Archangels vessel and leave this life behind. Muck agreed as long as he got to see his friends safely to the end of this war.
He felt Muck's pain, his anguish as he watched his friend Malarkey fall apart over his death. He felt his anguish over seeing Toye and Guarnere torn up so badly. He was forced to watch Buck Compton fall apart after seeing his friends so torn, so mutilated, so… in pain. Even Gabriel was visibly shocked by the prisoner camp Easy Company found. Jews locked away for their beliefs.
He felt Muck's anguish as he could do nothing but stand and watch his friends, his brothers, go through so much hell, so much pain.
He felt his joy as his friends safely made it to the end of the war.
Then the pains as he slowly watched each of his friends slowly die of old age. Something Muck would never be able to do. He would grow old. He would never see his Faye Tanner again. He would never have children, grandchildren.
Finally Gabriel could take no more. He completely disregarded his vessel's last wish.
He went about his own business. Became a full time Trickster. He became a bitter and twisted angel as all of Muck's anger, hate towards him breaking his promise, infected his very essence.
Gabriel sweet tooth increased. He always was a sweet tooth. But eating a ton of cake and still having room for half a ton of ice cream? This was more like comfort eating on a major scale. Like something someone would do… when they were grieving.
For years Gabriel completely rejected his vessel's wishes. He completely disregarded the hurt, the anguish, the grief. Instead turning his hand to punishing those who deserved it. Giving people, people who do the terrible things they did during World War 2 without a damn for the humanity they were destroying. Giving these… monsters, what was coming to them.
Well he did.
Until two brothers came along.
Sam and Dean Winchester. The vessels of Heaven and Hell. Two brothers who had their destiny set for them long before they were even born.
They told Gabriel he was a coward. Someone who had been running his whole life. Someone afraid to stand up for himself. Someone afraid to stand up to their own family.
And as he watched them leave him alone that warehouse. As the sprinklers doused the flames around him. For the first time since 1944, Gabriel actually stopped to think.
Those two muttonheads were right. He was a coward.
His vessel was braver than him.
His vessel volunteered to fight. He volunteered to fight in places he hadn't even visited. His vessel died in a fiery explosion, in a remote forest, in the dead of night, in the freezing cold, fighting for his country, fighting to save people he didn't even know.
And Gabriel couldn't even stand up to his brothers.
He was a coward.
But here he was. Finally making up for lost time.
He was standing up to Lucifer. He was standing up to his family.
If anything he could at least give his vessel the final stand that was worthy of a brave soldier like him. He would go down fighting. Not killed in an explosion where the person who pulled the trigger couldn't even see his face.
"Gabriel, if you're doing this for Michael…" Lucifer said interrupting Gabriel's thoughts.
"Screw him. If he were standing here, I'd shiv his ass too."
"Oh, I'm loyal" Gabriel interrupted. "To them"
"Who? These so-called gods?" Lucifer said with contempt
"To people, Lucifer. People."
"So, you're willing to die, for a pile of cockroaches? Why?"
"Because Dad was right. They are better than us."
"They are broken, flawed, abortions!" Lucifer shouted, rage creasing his forehead.
"Damn right, they're flawed. But, a lot of 'em try… to do better… To forgive"
And as he said that he knew he was right. His vessel tried to change the world, by fighting to rid the world of the evil that plagued it. And his sacrifice allowed his brothers to continue on fighting, to succeed in doing so.
He always thought that human, with their plucky stubborn attitudes, were silly. They were fighting so much, inflicting so much pain, that they didn't deserve to walk the Earth.
But two stubborn brothers, and a plucky sergeant from Tonawanda, New York, proved to him that humans could be so much more.
And as his Angel blade plunged into his stomach. As he drew in his last breath, as his grace glowed around him….
Gabriel knew he had finally done something right for once.
A final stand worthy of a brave soldier.