One week earlier… La Crosse, Kansas.
‘So three missing kids; two boys and a girl, same age, they don’t live near, but all disappeared the same night… and I’m saying things you already know I presume,’ Dean finished as he looked over the table at Gabriel. The archangel looked at him.
‘It’s really driving you crazy, huh?’ he asked. Dean rolled his eyes.
‘I’m not used to you going all angelic and mysterious on me,’ the hunter said, they looked at each other for a few seconds. ‘Fine, I shut up,’ Dean grumbled. ‘But those kids are still missing, so if there’s a chance to save them you really should tell me what you know now.’
‘If I’m right, the children are completely un-harmed, so don’t worry about them,’ Gabriel told him.
‘Okay,’ nodded Dean. ‘Should I question the parents or is that totally pointless?’ he asked then.
‘Not pointless, I can’t do anything until nightfall; any new information could be useful until then.’
‘You’re seriously freaking me out with this,’ Dean told him. Gabriel sighed.
‘I asked you to trust me, you said you would. How about you actually do so?’ he asked pointedly. Dean frowned.
‘Okay, don’t get your wings in a bunch,’ Dean said. ‘You being this snappy just makes me worried, y’know,’ he added after a beat of silence.
‘I get that,’ Gabriel said.
‘And you’re really asking for some big leap of faith here, man,’ the hunter continued while he finally pushed his notebook aside to lean on the table. Gabriel looked at him again.
‘Tell me if you don’t have that kind of faith in me and I find another way,’ he told him.
‘Okay and now I feel like a jerk,’ Dean admitted. ‘And like you’re testing me,’ the archangel smiled, then shrugged.
‘I’m not. I can’t force you to trust me, so if you can’t then that is it, but stop driving yourself crazy about it; I won’t be offended or angry if you can’t trust me this much yet.’
Dean took a deep breath.
‘I think I’m just gonna stop acting like a delicate flower and suck it up instead,’ he said as a conclusion.
‘That’s good,’ laughed Gabriel.
‘You coming with me to question the parents?’ he asked the archangel after that while he stood up.
‘I have some other things to take care of,’ was the answer he got. Dean stayed silent for a few seconds.
‘Okay,’ he agreed then, it was just way too obvious that it was hard for him to agree without asking further questions. He really wanted to complain about all the secrecy and this whole case, because he had no idea what was really going on. But he shut his mouth, he promised he would, and he intended to keep that promise.
He started to get undressed to change into his suit, but he was turned around a few moments later. He didn’t have time to react as Gabriel was kissing him deeply, holding him in place with his hands on his hips. Dean sneaked his hand to the back of Gabriel’s neck and pulled himself closer to the archangel’s body.
He was almost out of breath when Gabriel let go of his lips.
‘Thank you,’ the angel said before Dean could ask. And suddenly it didn’t seem that hard to keep his promise after all. ‘I’ll see you in a few hours.’ Dean nodded. He got one last small kiss on the lips before Gabriel vanished from the motel room.
The single mom of one of the missing boys was such an unbearable bitch that Dean had the urge to strangle her only after ten minutes, he didn’t do it of course but it was a close call. The house the little girl vanished from could’ve been called a mansion and everything inside was so posh and expensive that Dean felt like in a museum. They were pleasant enough, but they still almost freaked him out, he seriously expected a butler to appear any second, but luckily it didn’t happen. The third couple was the most normal, the mother was a mess, sobbing and completely devastated, but the father seemed resigned, like he knew he won’t even see his son again.
Normally Dean wouldn’t have been that distrustful of any of the parents, but the fact that Gabriel was acting weird about the case put Dean on edge and he found everything suspicious, especially the parents.
But that suspicious feeling he got from them was nothing compared to what went through his head when he and Gabriel were walking in the middle of nowhere when it finally got dark and the archangel returned.
‘You sure you just can’t zap us wherever we’re going?’ Dean asked after an hour of walking. ‘Because this is starting to feel like a really bad horror flick and I’m not eager to play that role.’
‘Really?’ Gabriel snapped at him. He took all of Dean’s complains during the day fairly easily, he probably reached his limit at this point. ‘I’m walking right here next to you, and you seriously think that anything in creation, anything at all could possibly lay a finger on you right now?’ He huffed in annoyance as he put his hands in his pocket. Dean had the urge to play his “I’m too cute, you can’t be angry at me” card, it really worked well on most of his high school girls, wasn’t sure what effect it would have on the archangel though.
He promised to be trustful, but after the weird parents, no sign of supernatural presence only that the kids disappeared from behind locked doors and windows, and Gabriel’s silence he really was alarmed and it put him in the bitching, offensive mood. Now that he thought about it Gabriel tolerated his attitude more than well, he was usually easier to piss off. Dean stopped and turned back towards the angel and grabbed his arm. Gabriel had that look on his face that told the hunter that he expected Dean to explode in his face any minute and he was not looking forward to it.
‘You know what?’ Dean said finally suddenly being very annoyed with himself. ‘Just ignore me, I’m being stupid,’ he said as he let go of Gabriel’s arm after a light squeeze.
‘You’re just cautious,’ Gabriel said. ‘I would’ve been surprised if you acted any different.’
‘I would be much more pissed at me if I were you,’ Dean told him half-jokingly. Gabriel shrugged.
‘You’re trying, that’s enough,’ he said. ‘It’s more than I usually expect or get for that matter.’
‘What?’ Dean stopped him with a hand on his shoulder as he started walking again.
‘You were there when Kali stabbed me in the heart, right? And that she didn’t manage to kill me despite her best efforts was because I expected her to try it. So yeah, I get trust issues,’ he shrugged again. ‘Does it annoy me that you’ve been whining like a little girl in the past hour? Yes, it really-really does. But I know where you’re coming from and believe me when I say that just the fact that you’re making an effort here is more than enough, it’s pretty awesome actually,’ he added with a smile.
‘I was not whining,’ Dean told him.
‘Of course not, big boy,’ Gabriel smirked as he patted Dean on the ass before he started walking again. Dean rolled his eyes, but chuckled.
‘Can you at least tell me wh--’ movement caught his attention from the corner of his eye and it stopped him abruptly. The movement was in the tall grass, but he couldn’t actually see what it was. ‘You saw that?’ he asked.
‘What was it?’ asked Gabriel. And Dean was sure that it was nothing, because the archangel definitely would’ve noticed if anything supernatural would’ve been near.
‘I don’t know,’ Dean told him. ‘Probably just some--’ it was there again. A quick shift in the grass as something dark moved, but it wasn’t too big. ‘Animal’ he finished. He was about to turn his eyes away from where he was scanning the ground, when a small dark head peaked out from between the grass. Dean first noticed the glowing eyes and he almost reached for his gun, but then recognized the form, he was not sure whether he needed a gun or not. He thought it might be a stray dog first, but then he realized that it was a fox, a black fox staring at him. Its eyes glowing in the faint moonlight were fixed on the hunter.
‘Shit,’ Dean breathed out. ‘The little fucker almost scared the crap out of me,’ he said. Gabriel shifted his gaze to where Dean was looking.
‘What is it?’ he asked then and it made Dean frown.
‘What do you mean, what is it? It’s a fox? You can’t see the freakin’ fox?’ because Gabriel must’ve been screwing with him. It surprised him when Gabriel smiled in a very satisfying manner.
‘Nope,’ he said and Dean looked back at the animal still looking at him.
‘How is that possible? It’s not real? You’re a freakin’ archangel how could you not see something I can… am I going crazy here?’ he asked finally. Gabriel shook his head.
‘I can’t see it because I’m not a human,’ he told Dean. ‘And it’s your invitation.’
‘An invitation to what?’ Dean asked and he recognized Gabriel’s expression before the angel had a chance to speak. ‘You still can’t fucking tell me? Seriously?’ he asked and now he was really annoyed.
‘Let’s just get going,’ Gabriel told him.
‘Where?’ Dean asked, and then he looked at the fox again. ‘The fox? We’re following a fox? You have got to be shitting me!’ Gabriel’s amused smile was all the answer he needed. ‘You’re not shitting me.’ He took a calming breath. ‘You so owe me for this,’ he grumbled before he took a step forward towards the black fox and sure enough the little thing turned around and started going somewhere, so Dean followed while Gabriel chuckled behind him.
It was almost hard to follow the little dark shape in the night and Dean felt utterly ridiculous about it, but Gabriel was following him and it seemed important.
He was following a fox in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere with an archangel on his heels. It was way beyond bizarre, but he stopped asking questions he just tried to keep his eyes on the little furry bastard that almost disappeared from his sight a few times.
He wasn’t sure how much time passed like this and how long they walked, but suddenly the fox picked up speed and then suddenly was gone. Dean tried finding it with his eyes again, but it was gone. He just stopped then.
‘The fuck?’ he frowned. ‘It’s gone… what are we gonna do now?’ He started to turn to the archangel, but he flinched as suddenly it was light all around. He had to close his eyes for a second and when he opened his eyes again they were in a giant ring of blue-dark fire. His body got tense and he got ready for a fight as the fire crackled around them. He looked at Gabriel, but the archangel seemed calmed.
‘What’s going on?’ Dean asked. Gabriel swiftly looked around.
‘Just follow my lead,’ he said in a quiet voice after a second. Dean just frowned and was about to open his mouth again, but laughter hit his ears from behind. He swiftly turned around just in time to see as the blue flames died down and a guy in a dark overcoat was walking towards them. He wore a wide brimmed black hat, so Dean only saw his wide grin as he was walking towards them.
Dean didn’t actually want to let the guy walk closer, but Gabriel was right next to him a second later, almost a bit in front of him and he seemed relaxed.
‘Loki!’ the dark man exclaimed when he was a step away and to Dean’s utter surprise he wrapped his arms around the archangel in a crushing hug. Gabriel didn’t draw away and the hunter heard him laugh lightly as he returned the gesture to the stranger.
‘I thought you were dead you old trickster,’ the man laughed when he let go of Gabriel, he clapped his hand down on the angel’s shoulder, while he shook his head. Then he put his hand on Gabriel’s cheek in what seemed like a familiar gesture. ‘What did I tell you about meddling with those bloody wargods you foolish kid?’ he asked and his voice dropped a little quieter and had a gentle tone in it that Dean certainly didn’t expect. The dark man dropped his hand then. ‘Now tell me what brings you here where no bird dares to fly?’ he asked. ‘I hope you bring no trouble to my doors.’
‘No trouble Urdung,’ Gabriel said reassuringly, and then Dean suddenly found himself being looked at by the stranger. Black eyes locked on his face, such a dark color that it almost looked like a demon’s eyes.
‘And who’s this?’ he asked. ‘He found his way and led you here.’
‘A trusted friend,’ Gabriel said before Dean could say anything, he probably wouldn’t have been able to give a good answer anyway. The dark man once again burst into loud laughter.
‘Trusted?’ he asked. ‘I’ve known you for over six centuries Loki, but not once did I hear that word roll off your silver tongue. Either you changed greatly in the last decades… or the boy must be someone rather exceptional,’ he finished while he locked his dark eyes on Dean again.
‘Is this anywhere the place where we should be discussing all this?’ Gabriel asked him and the stranger turned back towards him with a chuckle.
‘Well, look at me, the excitement is making me quite foolish and definitely a bad host. Forgive me my dear friend. Come then, my daughters will be so happy to see you, I swear I’ve never seen them shed so many tears before like when the word of your death reached us.’
‘I came as soon as I could,’ Gabriel told him. ‘And it’s not like it’s so easy to find you.’
‘That is certainly true, but really, come now,’ he turned around, his dark coat flapping around him like a cape, he grabbed his hat as to keep it in place and he started walking.
‘Uhh… Loki,’ Dean tried; it was strange to say the name. ‘What’s going on?’ he asked. Gabriel just smiled at him before grabbing his jacket-sleeve to drag Dean forward following the dark man.
‘Now Dean, welcome to the Traveler’s,’ the archangel said, again there was no time for Dean to ask questions. He saw how thick fog wrapped around them everything fading away immediately while Dean could only see what was up ahead. The darkness was split apart by light and warmth filtering through from somewhere unknown and first the dark man stepped away swiftly disappearing from their sight. And then Gabriel wrapped his hand around Dean’s wrist and pulled him, the next second he felt and saw as the cold night air and the darkness completely disappeared from around them in a blink of an eye.