“It's been six hours,” Sam said, voice carefully neutral.
“Right, that's it,” Dean gritted. “I'm done. I don't care if it's been six hours or six minutes, if anyone can watch his own ass, it's Gabriel. But obviously you can't deal with your boyfriend not checking in every five minutes, and I am sick of listening to your fucking separation anxiety or whatever!”
“He's not my–”
“Whatever! Just... get out of here! Go find him, or go to a bar, or just... go away! Take your angsting somewhere else!”
Sam left the motel room to Dean's discontented grumbling, and slammed the door behind himself with petty satisfaction. It wasn't that Sam was worried about Gabriel, not really. Despite Dean's taunting, Sam was in fact well aware that Gabriel could take care of himself. Especially on a piddly little errand like dealing with a witch.
But Gabriel had promised he'd be back no more than two hours later. His actual words had been that he'd be back in twenty minutes, but Sam knew him better by now. Archangel or not, sometimes things didn't go smoothly. And more often than not, he'd get distracted somehow. He didn't forget his promises, no matter how much Dean claimed Gabriel was just an unreliable little shit.
While Dean and Castiel had been off making cow eyes at each other, or whatever sad things they were desperately doing to avoid doing what they really wanted to be doing – namely each other – Sam had been spending hours and hours with Gabriel, researching, planning and talking. And along the way, Sam had learned a few things.
Gabriel's mind just didn't work like humans'. It didn't even work like Castiel's, even though they were both angels. Out of all of them, the four mismatched weirdos of Team Free Will, Gabriel was by far the most alien.
But the weirdest thing was that Gabriel himself seemed to be the one most often forgetting this fact.
He'd looked genuinely upset once when Dean had shot him in the arm during an argument, and laughed it off after, because “c'mon, dude, it's not like it hurts you.” Or the time Sam had been ticked off about Gabriel rushing them through their morning routine of showering, eating and grooming, and acidly asked if he even knew how humans worked.
Not that Dean noticed, of course. Gabriel was quick to hitch his trickster face back on, but Sam had spent so much time with him now that it was easy for him to see Gabriel's feelings on his face. Borrowed as it was, he'd apparently lived in his vessel for so long that he showed things much more clearly than Castiel had yet to manage.
And Sam... did notice. Okay, so maybe Dean had struck a slight nerve with his boyfriend comment.
Sam shook his head at himself as he stared up the Impala, its engine roaring to life, as if rearing to go, even though Sam had technically swiped the keys from Dean's jacket on the way out without asking. Okay, not technically. Literally.
But Dean could just clench up and ask Castiel for a ride, or take the freakin' bus for all Sam cared. Right now, he had an archangel to find.
The witch Gabriel had gone to see lived two towns over. And he hadn't even gone to kill her, he was just supposed to lean on her a bit for some information. But either some serious shit had gone down, or Gabriel had never made it there, because the house was dark, and when Sam ventured inside through the unlocked back door, it was very obvious that the witch had left in a hurry. No signs of a struggle, but there was a very strange smell in the air which made the hairs at the back of Sam's head stand on end, and it was clear that the person living here had packed her bags and left town, probably not intending to return anytime soon, if at all.
It occurred to Sam that it might not be an actual smell, when he left the house and it followed him. But since nothing seemed to happen to him, he went back to the car and tried to ignore it. But when he tried to turn back towards the motel, it was like something tugged at him to go the other way, so after a moment of consideration he did. He kept his eyes open, but nothing seemed to be amiss, and only a few minutes of driving later, the not-smell got stronger, so he stopped and found himself in front of what was optimistically named “Serenity Motel”, but was really a tall house where rooms could be rented by the hour.
It was the kind of place even he and Dean would drive past if they had any choice at all.
He still went inside, and the cage of safety glass protecting the manager behind the counter only confirmed that this was not a nice part of town. But the smell, or whatever it was, had led Sam here, so he reasoned he might as well give it a shot. He stooped down to talk through the mesh gap in the glass.
“Uh, hi. I was just wondering if you'd happened to see a... uhm... short-ish guy, blond hair, smarmy attitude? Probably wearing jeans, boots and an army jacket?”
The manager looked Sam up and down before nodding significantly at the gap at the bottom of the glass. Sam slid a few bills through, and that bought him a gruff: “Room number eight. At the back. Paid for a whole night.”
For a moment Sam was relieved he'd gotten lucky on the first try, but then something else occurred to him. “Was he alone?”
Another glance at the gap, and another few bills later, Sam headed down the hall knowing that Gabriel was probably in the building, and probably alone. But when it came to Gabriel, “probably” was pretty much as far from guarantees as you could possibly get.
So, prepared for the worst, Sam knocked on door number eight, the strange not-smell telling him that he was most definitely at the right place.
“Hang on!” There was noise from inside before the door was yanked open so roughly the knob almost flew out of Gabriel's hand, and he caught the door unsteadily with both hands before it could slam against the wall.
“Heeeeey! Sammeeeey! Perfect timing! Please tell me you've got food!”
Sam blinked and then recoiled slightly. Because he might have followed a smell of sorts here, but that was nothing to what his nose was bombarded with through the open door.
“Christ, Gabriel, what the hell have you been doing in here?”
“A little of this, a lot of that, but mostly just getting completely and utterly stoned,” Gabriel said, his words uncharacteristically slow, and when Sam looked closer, it was shockingly obvious that Gabriel's pupils were dilated. Looking him over, he generally looked a little worse for wear. His hair was standing up in messy knots, his jacket was torn, and he only had one boot on, revealing a neon-green sock with pink flowers on it. Sam would have smiled at that if it wasn't for the fact that he'd just been told that a creature with the power to level whole cities currently had his faculties impaired by drugs.
“Stoned?!” Sam hissed. “Are you out of your mind?!”
“Not yet, but gettin' there, Sammich!” And before Sam's disbelieving eyes, Gabriel sauntered over to the bed, rummaged through a plastic bag, and with a triumphant grin pulled out what had to be the fattest splyff Sam had ever seen. And Sam had known Andrew Gallagher, so that was saying something. Sam frantically took the two steps required to cross the floor of the tiny room, and ripped the splyff out of Gabriel's hand before he could light it.
“Hey, woah, not cool!” Gabriel whined.
“No, you wanna know what's not cool? Someone like you getting high! Considering what it takes for Cas to even feel a buzz, I didn't think it was even possible! What did you do, smoke all of Amsterdam?!”
“Didn't have to!” Gabriel beamed. “That's the beauty of it!”
“I don't follow.”
Gabriel slumped sideways onto the bed suddenly, as if staying vertical was just too much effort. Sam pushed the door closed, fairly sure he didn't want the whole building hearing the explanation for this, if one was coming at all. It did take Gabriel a full minute to start talking again, as if he'd forgotten Sam was even there.
“Where was I? Oh right... turns out our little witchy-witch was warded to the teeth, and if I ever find her again, I'm gonna ask her how she pulled off the trick I walked right into.”
“Haha, that's funny. Witch was. Geddit?” Gabriel giggled, and Sam – ironically – looked heavenwards for strength.
“Right, right... trick. That little minx shut the taps on my mojo!” he said gleefully, as if he hadn't in fact been the biggest piece on the chess board of the apocalypse, and losing him would most likely doom them all.
“How are you so calm about this?!” Sam said, getting very close to shrieking. Although to be fair, he was on the verge of panic.
“Oh hush, Mr. Worry-Pants, it's only temporary. My guess is 24 hours, but we'll know for sure when my juice kicks in again and sobers me up. So gimme that fattie, I got no time to lose!”
Sam blamed the fact that he was weak-kneed with relief on how he silently handed over the splyff and watched Gabriel light it without arguing.
“But... but if that's all that happened, where have you been for the last eight hours?!”
Gabriel took a long, slow drag of smoke, held it and blew it out a lot slower than should have been humanly possible before answering.
“Weeeell... I wasn't prepared, you see. And, as you very well know, my humongous human friend, getting money and finding dealers can take a little time. Plus, I had to hoof it everywhere. I even got mugged on the way here! You should have seen their faces when they realized I don't even have a fucking phone, not to mention a wallet!” Gabriel snickered and only then did Sam notice a bruise on his forehead, no longer hidden by his hair.
“Jesus, are you okay?” Sam knelt on the bed, carefully swept the hair away to take a closer look. No broken skin and only slight swelling. Even without powers, Gabriel probably couldn't get seriously hurt just from a little roughing up, but seeing him hurt at all made Sam uneasy. But not half as uneasy as he got when he realized that he was literally an inch away from Gabriel's face, and that Gabriel was looking at him with a dopey smile and twinkling eyes under half-closed lids.
“Hi Sammy-Sam,” he purred, and at any other time Sam would have called it taunting and just shrugged it off. But there were no ridiculous waggling eyebrows, no innuendos, no significant glances. Just a warm, soft, molasses-slow intent between them suddenly, which made Sam's mouth go dry.
“Mmm. Too bad you're done sleeping with monsters, because that coulda been one more item off my bucket list.”
Sam flushed with heat from his hair to his chest, and desperately ignored the part where Gabriel pretty much just asked to sleep with him, and instead latched onto the other bit of information the last sentence offered.
“Bucket list? Why would someone who's essentially immortal even have a bucket list?”
“It's the end of the world, darlin'. If we lose, we all die. Even me. Maybe even especially me. So we should all be ticking off our lists now, while we still have time.”
“And... getting high was on your list?”
“Oh yeah. I have a whole sub section of things I could only try should I ever find myself cut off from my grace. I didn't think it was even possible until today. If I had, I would have been prepared. Like carrying around some cash. And condoms. Not that I can actually catch anything, but y'know, some people are very insistent on that kind of thing,” he said, looking at Sam again with that half-lidded gaze.
Realizing that he was still hovering over Gabriel's face, Sam cleared his throat and moved away.
“Okay, so... you just bought a shit-ton of weed, holed up in a rent-by-the-hour dump, and... you were just gonna sit here and stone out alone?”
“Well... yeah. Because... I dunno what I might say or do, and with my luck I would probably end up blabbing to someone on Hell's payroll.”
“You coulda called,” Sam said quietly. “I would have picked you up at least.”
“Not without giving me a fucking lecture, and just for once I'd like for something to be simple, Sam.”
The words were bitter, and sounded much too clear for someone supposedly well on the way to intoxicated. Gabriel noticed too, because he frowned at the splyff as if it had personally offended him.
“This shit had better not be wearing off already. I spent all my hard-earned cash on this bag of goodies. Oh, and stay away from the hookah, that stuff is vile,” he added, and only then did Sam notice the shattered waterpipe in the corner where it had evidently ended its days after offending Gabriel's senses somehow.
As he looked around the room, Sam noticed several signs that Gabriel had indeed been making an effort to get wasted. Sam had never known a lot about junkies, demon blood addiction not included, but he still recognized several pills and various tools for inducing highs. So clearly Gabriel still wasn't entirely human, because if he'd consumed all the things Sam saw traces of everywhere, Gabriel should have been dead or at the very least out cold. But he seemed at worst slightly slurring, which should have been a relief but mostly made Sam feel sad.
Gabriel hadn't had the easiest life. Sam had realized this very early on, and it was probably also at least part of the reason he ended up forgiving Gabriel for his ill-advised schemes to mess around with them all. The endless Tuesday still stung, but knowing the reasoning and motivation behind it made it easier to understand at least.
But knowing that, given the chance, Gabriel wasted not a single moment trying to escape his own mind just made Sam feel so much pity for this eons old being, currently splayed out on a disgusting motel bed, holding his breath for an inhuman length of time in an attempt to pull more effect from the cannabis in his lungs.
“Wait...” Gabriel said suddenly. “How did you even find me?”
“Uh... yeah, that was kinda weird. There was a smell... kind of.”
“Kind of?” Gabriel made a couple of attempts at raising one eyebrow at Sam, but gave up eventually.
“Yeah. It was all over the witch's house, and it followed me when I left. And when I tried to leave town, it sort of... pulled at me to go the other way, so I did. And it led me here.”
Gabriel stared. “Lemme get this straight. You actually sniffed me out? Like a blood hound? We're all wrong, you're not a moose, you're a Great Dane.”
“Shut it,” Sam said without heat. “It wasn't even really a smell, just... I think maybe a sense I couldn't quite recognize, so I think I just picked a random label for it.”
“I thought I was supposed to be the one making no sense by now,” Gabriel smirked. “But whatever. Nice of the witch to make me leave bread crumbs. Just one more thing to ask her about when I find her. Because I will. This shit could be useful against Luci.”
“Yeah, I guess it could,” Sam agreed, and silence fell between them, oddly comfortable.
“Say, could you be a chum and order us some pizza?” Gabriel asked when he was almost through his splyff. “Or just magically make food appear somehow? Because that's a neat trick, trust me, I should know.”
“I feel like I shouldn't be indulging you.”
“Please, Sam? I'll make it up to you with my awesome snapping powers in a day or so. I swear it on my daddy's beard.”
“God has a beard?”
“You'd be surprised.”
Sam laughed. “Okay, fine. Pizza coming up.”
“You are a true gentleman, Sammy, don't let anyone tell you different!”
And so it was that Sam found himself sitting in a dump, eating pizza with a stoned archangel, and the weirdest part was that he was actually enjoying himself. Gabriel under the influence was a lot less scary than Sam would have imagined before he saw it.
“...and Mary was a real trouper, lemme tell ya. Not everyone would be able to keep their cool when some douchebag shows up and tells her that his old man knocked her up, and she'd never even gotten to first base with anyone. Poor girl. And Joseph, he just lost his fucking shit. Can't blame him, but she just stood her ground to a point where I really wanted to ask what size testicles she could possibly have hidden under that skirt, because damn.”
Sam just stared, because seriously, what did you even say to a first hand account of the birth of Jesus, albeit a somewhat baked version.
“And poor Jesus, he never fucking knew what he was supposed to be. The kid knew he wasn't really human, but he still tried so fucking hard to fit in, even though he knew it was gonna end bloody. He was literally born to suffer, and while I kinda get why Dad did it, I also kinda hate him for it. If there's one lesson to be learned from the entire Christian truckload of scripture, it is that God is a douchebag. Remember that, Sammy. God is a douchebag.”
“Did you talk like that to Mary too?” Sam snickered, not entirely sure if Gabriel was joking or not, and maybe Sam was getting a little high too from the fumes, because Gabriel had lit yet another rolled up monstrosity, just as enormous and scary as the previous.
“Well no, because I didn't speak English, duh. Douchebag translates badly into other languages, apparently. Not that I don't think Mary wouldn't have gotten a huge kick out of me calling the Lord a big pouch full of dung. But alas, I was a good boy back then, all about supporting Dad's image. He was trying to become a new man, after all. No more wrath and punishment, oh no. New Testament, new leaf. All peace, love and crucifixions now. Of course, that was before he told us all to suck it and left.”
Gabriel fell into a depressed silence after that, and Sam wracked his brain for something to cheer Gabriel up. Because so far his tripping had been fairly harmless, but that didn't mean Sam wanted to see him during a downer. Sam much preferred to keep the mood where it was, keeping Gabriel chatty, mellow and gloriously stationary for more than five minutes at a time.
“So what else is on your bucket list?” Sam asked eventually.
“Already did most of it. Not a lot of regrets, really. Mostly shitty stuff left.”
“Like apologizing to Sigyn for impersonating her husband for a few hundred years before she found out that he hadn't actually left her high and dry with their kids, but that he'd kicked the bucket and some shitty little fuck of an angel just borrowed his face.”
“Loki is dead?”
“Yeah. Sad story. Even sadder thing is, Sigyn is also dead now, so to check off that point on my list I'd have to time travel, and I can't spare the juice right now to travel back almost 600 years.”
Sam pondered this new information for a bit. “Does this mean that the nordic mythology apocalypse has already happened?”
“Nope,” Gabriel said sadly. “The script for theirs was changed right along with ours.”
“Anything fun left on your list then?”
“Oh yeah,” Gabriel grinned. “Still wanna try the whole sex thing without a filter. Things feel different without mojo.”
That... wasn't really where Sam had hoped for the conversation to go, but at least Gabriel seemed to not direct it at Sam for the moment.
“I already jerked off. Thought I'd better get that out of the way before getting high, you know?”
Sam felt his face heat up again, knowing that a celestial being had been getting his rocks off in this very room only a few hours ago. But Gabriel just carried on, either not noticing or not caring about Sam's discomfort.
“It wasn't like I expected at all. It actually took practice! Can you believe it? Took me four fucking tries to get off. But it was totally worth it. Wow. You guys are lucky you can do that every day if you want to.”
Sam squirmed where he was lying next to Gabriel on the bed, empty pizza boxes creating a nice barrier between them, which made Sam feel weirdly better.
“I still wish I could try it with a partner, though. It's gotta be awesome. Can't blame all the little soldiers for falling left, right and center to get to have this,” he said, voice veering towards sad again. And Sam knew he should just stay out of it, but dammit, he just felt so much sympathy towards Gabriel just then.
“Uhm. If you want, I could... go find you a girl?”
Gabriel snorted. “Thanks, but no thanks. Considering how much I fumbled around when it was just my hand and my dick, I can't imagine what I'd put some poor hooker through. Nah, better spare us all that particular embarrassment. Besides, I think I'm finally too baked to get it up now.”
Gabriel referring to his hand and his... other body parts made Sam ask something he'd so far steered clear of, but his curiosity was suddenly just too great.
“If you don't mind me asking... where is your vessel in all of this? Is there even someone in there anymore?”
“If there is, I haven't felt even a quiver for at least a thousand years. Didn't feel him check out, but then again, me checking in wasn't fun for him in the first place.”
Sam frowned at the ceiling, not sure what to say to that, while Gabriel slowly rolled until he could prop his head up on his hand and catch Sam's eye.
“Don't make that face, kiddo. He wanted it. It was a good bargain for him. Free ticket into Heaven, away from his shit-tastic life. Believe me when I say, I did that guy a favor.”
“I still can't say I like it,” Sam said quietly.
“Of course you don't, nobody likes to be a meat suit,” Gabriel huffed. “But if you're worried that some poor medieval schmuck is gonna get the fallout from this, then no worries. Whatever was left of him has obviously clocked out ages ago. I'm pretty sure he split during a pagan orgy somewhere. I was distracted, what can I say.” He tried again to make his eyebrows obey his commands, this time going for a suggestive waggle, but failed once again.
“Damn, what is wrong with my face? It's not working right.”
“Sorry, Gabe, nothing works right when you're stoned.”
Gabriel looked down at his own crotch with an exaggerated roll of his head and sighed. “Ain't that the truth.”
Sam snorted and Gabriel grinned. With complete disregard for leftover cheese and greasy cardboard, Gabriel squirmed closer, squashing pizza crusts and empty wrappers under him, until he was right up next to Sam. “That don't mean that we can't have fun, though.”
And just like that, Sam went all hot and uncomfortable again. He froze on the bed, keeping his eyes everywhere but on Gabriel's face. It wouldn't do to encourage him in any way.
Gabriel of course didn't miss Sam's blatant rejection, and moved away slightly with a grumble. “Jeez, it's not like I'm trying to compromise your virtue or anything, princess. I was just going for a little smooch, big deal.”
“Yeah, right,” Sam scoffed.
“For your information, Sam Winchester, kissing ain't just a stepping stone to fucking,” Gabriel said primly, but the note of genuine disappointment made Sam turn his head and look at him.
“I know that,” he said quietly. “Unlike Dean, I've actually been in a real relationship.”
Gabriel winced. “Ack, sorry. Didn't mean to poke old wounds. I'm sorry about your girl, Sam.”
“Thanks,” Sam said, mind reeling. Gabriel offering condolences for Jess dying was just surreal. Almost as surreal as how he'd just asked Sam for a kiss. Just a kiss. Sam honestly didn't know what to do with that.
“Is... is that another item on your bucket list? Kissing?”
Gabriel glared. “Don't you dare mock me. I told you, everything feels different without mojo. And screw you, kissing is just nice, okay?”
“I didn't say it wasn't.”
After a long minute of quiet, Sam got up on his elbow as well, facing Gabriel dead on.
“Why me? Seriously, of all the people to ask for a kiss, why the abomination?” he asked, not even sure where he was going, but feeling very bitter all of a sudden.
Gabriel's eyes were soft and trailed across Sam's face before he answered. “Because... you're here, and I'm here, and it might be my only chance and... your lips look really nice...” he trailed off, eyes fixed on Sam's mouth.
Sam went through one brief moment of panic over the sudden thought that Gabriel's lips looked kinda nice too, before throwing all sanity out the window and closing the distance between them. He had no idea what he was doing, but Gabriel made a soft noise against him and immediately melted into the kiss. And jerking off might have required practice, but even high as a kite, Gabriel damn well knew how to kiss. He slipped his hand into Sam's hair, angling his head slightly, and Sam almost jerked away from the touch, but then Gabriel's tongue met his own, and he completely forgot he'd been uncomfortable at all.
Gabriel just took him apart, slowly but surely, with little licks and broad swipes of tongue, nips and pulls of lips, and just plain closeness. Chins and noses bumping, hot breaths huffing across cheeks, and fingers gently scratching Sam's scalp, it all had him reduced to a shivering mess in no time at all. When Gabriel finally pulled away, Sam had to struggle not to follow him and beg for more.
“Wow,” Gabriel whispered.
“No kidding,” Sam agreed, breathing hard.
Gabriel stared at him for a long moment, hand still in his hair. “Was that... was that like a pity-kiss, or is there any chance at all I can try that again?”
Sam felt overwhelmed with the urge to just surge back in, but he paced himself just a little.
“Could you maybe... not tell Dean?” he asked weakly, feeling the pull to get closer, and losing the will to fight it.
“Whatever you want, Sam. Anything,” Gabriel breathed, looking just as wreaked as Sam felt.
So Sam told his good sense to fuck off, pulled Gabriel into his arms and showed him some of the best parts of being human.
Come morning, Sam would most likely face an identity crisis or two, and he might have to reconsider how he felt about Gabriel and their past. But for now, just for now, Sam got to make out with an angel, lying on top of sticky pizza boxes in a weed-fogged motel room. And it was just... good.
Tomorrow could wait.