The smell of blood is thick and cloying. Sam wants to lap it up, keen like an animal. The figure on the ground in front of him is still struggling. Sweet jerky movements that make his stomach tighten and his bones ache. He wants, so badly, but he doesn’t know what he wants. More blood, more screaming, more, more, more.
He raises his arm, the aluminum bat singing in the air. The air around him is coiled with power, his power, all his. Nothing holding him back, not Dad, not...
The figure sobs in front of him, “Sammy, please...”
Sam jerks out of his nightmare in an instant and is running to the bathroom. Dinner comes up, along with the whiskey he used to get to sleep. He doesn’t stop throwing up until his throat burns and he can’t see through the tears in his eyes. Fuck.
He doesn’t know how long he spends shaking over the toilet in this godawful motel room when he hears a soft voice call his name.
Gabriel is standing in the doorway of the bathroom, his eyes wide and concerned. Fuck.
Sam closes his eyes as he hears the water run and then the angel, an angel, is tugging him up, wiping his face clean with a damp towel and smoothing his hair out of his eyes.
“Nightmare?” Gabriel asks and Sam just nods, swallows.
Gabriel knows he doesn’t want to talk about it. He won’t pry and Sam is so grateful for that. He’s always grateful when Gabriel shows up to check on him. Dean doesn’t know he’s doing it, he made that clear when Sam asked. Sam doesn’t think he can stand knowing his brother is keeping tabs on him anymore.
But Gabriel is always there to help. Doesn’t matter if it’s research or a nest of vampires or well... this. The angel pulls him to his feet and drags him back to bed, flipping off the bathroom light as he goes. He tucks Sam in and makes a questioning noise.
Sam’s answer is to wrap his fingers around Gabriel’s wrist and pull.
Gabriel laughs but climbs all over him in the bed before he settles, laying across Sam like a cat and burying his nose in the back of Sam’s neck.
It’s ridiculously affectionate and Sam has spent the last month just soaking it up. He’d done enough reading that when Dean called complaining that the angels were touching him he’d just laughed. Of course they were, they were tactile creatures and once you’d done something welcoming, like letting them live with you for example they counted you as an ally.
Something worthy of attention.
Sam’s not sure how he ended up in that category. Whether it’s just by virtue of being Dean’s brother or simply the fact that he never kicked Gabriel out when he showed up, but well, the archangel is pretty grabby hands whenever he’s around.
Not that Sam minds, even a little bit.
There’s breakfast the next morning, pastries with coffee, and Gabriel is watching the home and garden channel with terrifying focus. Sam eats, because Gabriel will give him dirty looks if he doesn’t, leaning against the headboard. He knows better to interrupt Gabriel during Holmes on Homes.
Gabriel doesn’t look like an angel. Not the ones Sam’s imagined. Tall and majestic with their marks glowing like a halo behind their wings. Gabriel is short and he’s kind of a sarcastic bastard once you get to know him. He’s got a sword, but Sam’s only seen it once, the first time he met Gabriel and thought the angel was going to kill him.
That had been a strange night.
Drunkenly weaving home from the bar when he gets shoved in an alley. If they had been regular muggers he would have just beat the shit out of them and went on his way. But he punched Gabriel in the face and his hand had flared in pain. By the time he was done blinking in surprise he was against a wall, held with enough force to make his stomach churn in fear, with a sword at his throat.
He hadn’t believed them at first. Two rumpled looking guys demanding to know where his brother was? Yeah, fuck that. Then Gabriel had closed his eyes and brought his wings out.
Bright, shining golden wings that seemed to soak up all the light in the alley and reflect it back brighter and more pure.
That sobers a person up real fast.
These were angels, real angels, and they were here for Abdiel. It was all he could do to stammer Dean’s address before the other one, Castiel, was gone. He’d fumbled for his phone as Gabriel cussed and vanished as well.
Then Sam had gone back to the motel and paced until he finally got through to Dean. Only his brother could make it sound like two more angels living with him was gonna be no problem. Sam had spent hours on the phone with the Hunter Council trying to get the paperwork Dean would need to not have this turn into a shit storm.
Finally he’d called his dad which was the last thing he’d ever wanted to but he had pull on the Council and Dean could never ask for anything he needed.
It all worked out because Gabriel popped in on him three days later all apologetic and beaming because they found Abdiel and Dean was sharing his nest and Earth was so interesting!
He’d wrapped his arms around Sam from behind and then asked what he was reading and it had been so out of the blue that Sam just let him while he stammered the name of his book.
The commercials come on and Gabriel rolls over to smile at Sam. “I’m free all day.”
“There’s a poltergeist in Rushville,” Sam says offhandedly and sees Gabriel’s eyes light up.
The archangel is a warrior. Sam’s not gonna waste that.
Gabriel wasn’t a complainer. At least that’s what Sam thought. But then his brother started making eyes at Gabriel’s brother, it was all bitching all the time.
Sam spent a lot of time explaining how humans courted. There was a lot of time over pineapple pizza that was devoted to boyfriends and one night stands and remarrying and divorce. He told Gabriel all about weddings and Gabriel told him all about mating flights which actually sounded way more awesome.
Gabriel told him about Castiel’s mate. About Raziel and how Cas shouldn’t have had a chance in hell to mate him. But Castiel was apparently cunning and stubborn. Sniped him when he went into heat, right out from under the nose of all the warriors that had been eyeing him.
Gabriel laughs when he says it, before he suddenly goes silent. He whispers like he’s afraid someone would hear him, “We don’t usually talk about the dead like that.”
Which just blows Sam’s mind because how else are you supposed to remember them? So he sits next to Gabriel on the motel bed and tells him about his mother. He tells him about the demons and how she’d given Sam to Dean and told him to run. He tells him how she saved a dozen hunters and their children.
In return Gabriel tells him about the war. The war that won’t end even though they killed Lucifer, the real honest to God Morningstar, ages ago. He tells them how Michael left Heaven and the angels fractured into two sides. The ones that embraced the old ways, the ones who wanted to return to the humans, to their charges, and the ones that wanted change. The ones that wanted to let the humans flounder on their own.
He tells Sam about how Raziel was ambushed, his garrison murdered by people they trusted and when Gabriel found out he’d killed them all.
That’s when Sam can see how much of an angel Gabriel really is. He’s a warrior, he’s vengeance. He’s tired.
He’s tired of trying to hold everything together. Himself and his flock and he’s so afraid that Dean will mess it up without meaning to. But Gabriel can’t deny that he cares for Castiel, for Abdiel. But he’s still afraid and it’s all Sam can do to give him somewhere to do that safely.
They share secrets in the dark. Which is something Sam hasn’t done since he and Dean shared a room. Laying side by side on the motel bed. Gabriel still laughs at the idea of renting a nest and give Sam soft looks. Like he wants Sam to have a permanent nest. Sam doesn’t know what to do with that.
No one’s looked at him like that ever. He wants to keep it. It’s been so long since he’s just had something that was all his own. Someone he doesn’t have to worry about hurting him or ordering him around. Sam is tired too.
He thinks Gabriel knows.
It’s sweet and comfortable. Until they fight.
Sam’s used to hunting by himself. Gabriel had called him on it. Wondering why all the other Hunter’s worked with partners and Sam didn’t. Sam had to man up and explain that the other Hunter’s don’t like someone that’s been tainted with demon blood.
They don’t trust him. He thinks he explains it pretty well, but Gabriel ends up looking confused. So he tells him about Ruby and about the other Hunter’s calling him ‘demon touched’. He tells Gabriel about the powers he inherited from his mothers side. How he used to be able to read people and see the future. How that’s all gone now because he burned it out of himself by drinking demon blood.
Gabriel still doesn’t understand.
So Sam tells him what he did to Dean. He tells him why his brother can’t hunt anymore and he waits for the look of horror.
It doesn’t come and Sam doesn’t know how to deal with that. He flips out, starts yelling, and finds out the hard way that Gabriel can give as good as he gets. Gabriel storms out of the motel to a crowd of onlookers and Sam checks himself out.
Later, as he’s lying in the sewers, he’s gonna blame the fight for why he didn’t thoroughly check out the hunt. What he thought was a shape-shifter turned out to be a wendigo and Sam was left unprepared somewhere in the bowels of Kansas City.
He’s in a half inch of God knows what, with his left arm dislocated and slashes tearing up his right leg, trying to come to terms with the fact that if he doesn’t do something right now he’s going to die.
Without thinking about it, he calls Dean. He doesn’t remember what he says but Dean demands to know exactly where he is. He thinks he tells him.
He can see the shadow sliding down the tunnel towards him and just as he can smell its breath over his face, a flaming sword bursts through it’s chest.
Gabriel is cussing in Enochian, worry and vengeance in one breath as the wendigo crumples to the ground. Sam wants to say something witty about timing but he thinks he’s lost too much blood. Gabriel’s hands are on him, running over him, checking for injuries.
He can hear Gabriel, “Please, Sam, please open your eyes.”
Sam doesn’t think he’s ever heard the archangel sound so worried. Gabriel is whispering apologies as he circles his arms around Sam but Sam doesn’t know what for.
But the world blurs around them and suddenly he’s somewhere warm and bright that smells like fresh linen. There’s shouting and scrambling noises as he’s tilted back into Gabriel’s arms. He thinks he hears a baby.
Then Gabriel says, ”I didn’t know what else to do!”
Someone touches his face. “Sammy?”
The last coherent thought he has before he passes out is, Oh God, he brought me to Dean.
Sam wakes up in fits and starts. Dean’s voice, comforting and familiar. A baby is giggling, bright laughter filtering around the edges of his perception. He smells food. Bread, coffee. Voices. Gabriel.
He finally opens his eyes to darkness. He can hear the hum of a refrigerator. His arm is aching and he can feel the pull of stitches in his leg as he moves. Whatever he’s on bounces and there’s a shift in the air next to him and then, “Sam?”
“Gabriel?” He whispers, his voice is rough.
There are hands on him, soothing, brushing his hair back. Questions in the dark. “Are you thirsty? Do you hurt? Dean said it would be alright but you’ve been in and out of it all day.”
Sam lets Gabriel lift him and feed him water. He’s starting to figure out that he’s on an air mattress out in the living room. The shapes of furniture are starting to become clear. He grunts as Gabriel eases him back down. There’s a thick quilt over him that Gabriel is lying on top of and he snuggles down with Sam as he settles.
“How long was I out?” Sam whispers.
“Two days. You scared the shit out of me, you...” Gabriel calls him something very unflattering in Enochian and Sam smiles.
“I’m sorry,” Sam breathes, reaching up with his good hand to tangle his fingers in Gabriel’s hair. “I’m sorry I yelled at you.”
Gabriel tilts into the touch and lets out a breath, “I’m sorry I yelled back. You weren’t listening. I was frustrated.”
There in the dark Sam swallows, “I’m listening now.”
Gabriel takes a deep breath and shifts, moving to press his hand over Sam’s heart, before he whispers the words, “You aren’t tainted.”
He wants to argue it, because of course he is. He’s damaged goods that no other Hunter would even take a second look at.
“Do you honestly think I wouldn’t see something like that?” Gabriel asks and Sam closes his eyes. “There’s no such thing as ‘demon touched’, just Hunters who were afraid. You’re not cursed or twisted.”
No, he’s wrong. After what he did to Dean...
“What you did to Dean wasn’t your fault. You were possessed and he knows that. Sam, he’s not mad. He misses you. All he ever wants is for you to come home.”
Sam chokes on a sob and Gabriel curls around him, gathers him up and lets him cry. They’re pressed forehead to forehead and Gabriel breathes against his mouth.
“You’re not broken, you’re perfect.”
Warmth sinks into him, the single solid idea that Gabriel would never lie to him. He tilts his head up and kisses the angel. Gabriel makes this little surprised noise and leans into it as the warmth flares in Sam.
Gabriel blinks when they break apart, rubbing his nose against Sam’s, “What was that?”
“It’s called a kiss,” Sam grins and almost laughs when Gabriel tries to press closer to him.
Sam wakes up the next morning to the sound of the coffee pot and Castiel standing over them. He blinks for a bit because okay, that’s a little weird. But then Gabriel shifts and drags his wings up the entire length of Sam’s body and Sam shudders at the flare of bliss and contentment that accompanies it.
Gabriel lifts his head and glares at his brother.
Finally Castiel crosses his arms over his chest and says, “You are never allowed to complain about me and Dean ever again.”
Gabriel lets out a long groan. “Fair enough.”
Castiel pads into the kitchen as Gabriel asks Sam a million questions as he helps him sit up. Sam is more focused on the throbbing pain that is his shoulder. That combined with the motion of the air mattress is making him kind of nauseous.
“Are you going to throw up?” Gabriel frowns.
“Don’t say ‘throw up’.” Sam mutters.
Oh fuck his brother. Sam closes his eyes and tries to not think about the rolling motion in his stomach.
“I hate you,” Sam grits out.
But then there’s a rattling noise and when he looks up Dean has Abdiel under one arm and is shaking a bottle of pills at Sam with the other. “I’ve got a shit ton of vicodin that says you don’t.”
“I take it back, I love you.” Sam says as Dean tosses the bottle into his lap.
Abdiel squeals and makes grabbing motions as Sam picks up the bottle. Sam watches his brother roll his eyes and shift the baby so he’s settled on his hip.
“No, you cannot have vicodin. You can have a bottle, unless Cas wants to repeat the oatmeal adventure.”
Which is when Castiel reappears with a bottle and an, “Absolutely not.”
Dean grins at him and Sam swallows. His brother looks good. If Sam wasn’t sure he’d get his ass kicked he’d say he was glowing. He doesn’t look... The last vision Sam has of his brother, terrified, fades around the edges.
And now they’re all looking at him. Despite himself he blushes, “Are you all just going to stare at me all day?”
“You’re the most excitement we’ve had all week.” Dean smiles, before he inclines his head, “So what happened princess? I answer the phone and hear this blubbering about a wendigo, then Gabe brings you back all shit kicked. You’re supposed to have a partner on a wendigo hunt. Them’s the rules.”
“I... um...” He doesn’t want to tell Dean about the other Hunter’s. It would be like fifth grade all over again. “I didn’t do my research, thought I was dealing with a shape-shifter.”
“You. Didn’t do your research?”
“It was my fault.” Gabriel blurts, “We had an earlier altercation and I’m afraid it may have emotionally compromised Sam.”
“That was with Sam? The way you put it, it sounded like some stupid lover’s spat...” A moment passes before Dean’s eyes widen, “Oh hell no!”
Breakfast is awkward. But Dean stops bitching about Sam’s epic love story once Cas kisses him in the kitchen. Tensions run high at points but apparently two mind reading angels shut down a lot of arguments before they start.
Dean is making faces for Abe’s entertainment while Gabriel and Castiel huddle over the kitchen sink when Sam’s cell phone goes off. He takes one look at the caller ID before he limps out onto the porch.
“Hey Luc, what’s up?” He smiles and leans against the house.
”Sam? Are you alright? You sound tired.” He can hear Luc’s worry over the phone.
“I got sidelined by a wendigo.” Sam says and Luc hisses between his teeth.
“Are you okay? Where are you?”
“I’m fine,” Sam assures his friend. “I’ll heal. Gabriel got me, I’m at Dean’s.”
Luc sighs but Sam can hear the smile behind it. “I guess you’re not making it out this week.”
Sam knows they’ve come a long way from the first time Luc tried to shoot him. He’s just hanging up when Dean comes out onto the porch.
“Dude, I think Gabe’s gonna be pissed if you already have a lady on the side.”
Sam narrows his eyes as Dean settles beside him, trying to not look at the cane his brother leans discretely against the house.
“That wasn’t a lady, that was... Lucifer.”
If his brother’s eyes got any bigger they’d fall out of his head. “The angel kid!? How the hell did you find him?”
“I did my research,” Sam grins.
Dean shakes his head. “Why the hell would you go find him anyway?”
Sam rolls his shoulder, “I started looking for him after you got Abe. I figured if anyone knew what not to do with a nestling it would be him and before you start, he’s not psychotic.”
“He killed a Hunter and disappeared.” Dean gives Sam his ‘I know everything’ face.
“Two Hunters had him pinned to a warehouse floor after they forced his wings out.”
Dean winces, he’s been living with angels long enough that he knows what that means. Angels wings are intimate, you don’t touch them unless invited.
“He’s just a kid,” Sam breathes. “A lonely messed up kid that the Benders treated like shit and abandoned after he didn’t turn out to be the perfect Hunter.”
“You tell Gabe about him?” Dean frowns.
“I’m letting him get used to the idea of other angels even existing before I tell Gabriel.”
“Well, you know how much Gabe likes to rescue strays and bring them home,” Dean grins.
“You’re such a jerk.” Sam says but there’s no heat behind it.
“Bitch,” Dean smiles before he sighs, “I think we got shit to talk about.”
“Do we have to do this now?” Sam frowns as Dean leans over to grab his cane.
“Cas says I have to talk to you or he’s not letting me in the nest tonight.”
Sam can’t help but grin. “You. Are so whipped.”
“Says you, cuddleslut.”
It doesn’t quite devolve into yelling. Dean is astonished at the guilt Sam carries and Sam is baffled at the lack of anger Dean has over the whole situation. But they’ve got three years of shit that hasn’t been said all threading back to Sam was a fucking idiot and trusted a demon.
“Okay,” Dean rubs his hands over his face as they sit out on the porch, “Just, why?”
Sam swallows and lets out a breath, “I was having trouble with my powers. She said she could help me.”
“Your powers? Shit, Sam, why didn’t you tell anyone? We could have gotten someone to look at you. That was a stupid...” Dean growls but ducks his head when Cas glares at him out the kitchen window.
“Come on, Dean,” Sam frowns. “You know how it was. These powers, they weren’t seen as a gift. The other Hunters were either afraid of me or treated me like some freak. Even you and Dad would get uncomfortable talking about them. I didn’t want... I didn’t want to bother you with my own problems.”
Dean rubs his eyes with a sigh, “Okay, don’t tell Cas this but something he said a while back stuck with me.” Dean swallows as he looks up, “It was, ‘divided we are blind, but together we are kingdoms’, anyway it sounded better in Enochian.”
“What’s it mean?” Sam asks, trying to not smile at the thought of Castiel trying to teach his brother angelic proverbs.
“He was trying to explain how angel flocks worked and all I had to compare it to was our fucked over family. It means pretty much that, when someone has a problem in the flock it’s everyone’s problem.” Dean shakes his head, “I know we weren’t raised like that. We were raised to deal with our own shit and if we couldn’t hack it we kept quiet. But, fuck it Sam, that didn’t work. It didn’t work and I am too old to deal with this crap anymore.”
It’s possible Dean’s right. Sam had always thought that his problem was Ruby or that he hurt Dean, but...
“I’m sorry,” he says and listens to Dean let out a noisy breath.
“Dude, I know, you’ve said that-”
“I’m sorry for not coming to you when I needed help,” and saying that feels strange, like something in him gives.
Dean rubs his hand over his head before he looks at Sam, “I’m sorry for letting you think you couldn’t.”
Dean looks like saying that hurt, which is how Sam knows he meant it. Everything isn’t fixed, he’s not naive enough to think one afternoon on a porch was gonna do that but it’s like there’s light now where everything used to be dark.
“Are you two done hugging it out!?” Gabriel yells from inside the house, “Cause Cas made that tortilla pie thing!”
Sam rolls his eyes at the same time Dean does and for the first time in three years, he feels good.
Sam hadn’t realized just how domestic his brother had gotten until he’s in his house for a week. Dean has routines and not surprisingly Cas slides into them with remarkable ease. Cooking, cleaning, running the Hub.
If Cas was in the kitchen, you stayed out of the kitchen. If Dean was in the library, you stayed out of the library.
It wasn’t a problem when he was recovering. He’d apparently filled Abe’s criteria of liking things. His criteria mostly consisting of, ‘will it feed me?’ and ‘can I sleep on it?’ so he mostly spent his time napping with Abe and playing with him.
But once walking wasn’t such a chore any more, he always seemed underfoot.
Now he knows why Gabriel spends most of his time outside.
Sam leaves Abe asleep in his playpen and goes to investigate what all the sawing is. He knows Gabriel likes building things. He always has to be doing something with his hands. But Sam stops short when he comes out to the pair of aluminum sheds that are behind the house.
One is full of tools, there’s a bandsaw and, was that a lathe? The other is filled with some of the most intricate furniture that Sam’s ever seen.
Gabriel is running his hands over what looks to be a coffee table but he looks up and grins when he sees Sam.
“Did Dean finally kick you out of the library?” he asks as Sam stops in the doorway of the shed.
“I figured after the third dirty look, I might as well save myself.”
Gabriel chuckles and crosses the shed to nuzzle Sam’s neck until he tilts his head down and kisses the angel. Gabriel has been sliding into bed all week as soon as everyone else cleared out of the living room. Trading slow kisses in the dark was something Sam wasn’t going to ever get tired of.
“Your brother is getting cranky,” Gabriel breathes against his collar bone and Sam nods as he slides his hands down Gabriel’s sides, hooking his fingers in the angel’s pockets.
“I’m getting too mobile. He thinks I’m getting ready to take off.” Sam murmurs as he takes in the warm scent of sawdust and sunlight that’s Gabriel.
“Are you?” It’s a genuinely curious question with none of the hidden apprehension that have been in Dean’s looks.
“One of us has to keep hunting. It wouldn’t be right any other way. But...” Sam’s breath hitches as Gabriel’s fingers find their way under his shirt and skim along his lower back.
“But?” Gabriel teases.
“I guess I can stop by now. It ‘ill be nice to have a place to come back to.”
Gabriel hums against his neck, “You’re going to need a partner.”
“A hunting partner?” Sam says because that’s gonna be so much paperwork.
“An everything partner.”
Sam freezes, because well... He’d hoped but he never thought...
Gabriel chuckles and bites at Sam’s jaw, “In case you haven’t noticed, I like you.”
Sam surprises the Hunter Council when he informs them that he’s working with a partner. He gets a couple of sly looks and flattering smiles until he tells them his partner’s designation is ‘angel’.
They keep him in limbo for awhile, saying that since his partner isn’t sanctioned he wasn’t allowed to be given any hunts. Dean just rolled his eyes and told Sam to go kill a fucking vampire in Syracuse.
This lasts for two weeks until Sam gets so frustrated at the run around that Gabriel goes out to the compound in DC. Sam still doesn’t know what he said to the Council but all his paperwork comes over the net an hour later with all the T’s crossed and the I’s dotted.
Sam looked over to where Gabriel was playing with Abe on the couch and figures that whatever he’s gotten himself into has got to be worth it.
Gabriel builds an addition onto the house.
Dean bitches about the noise every chance he gets but he smiles more. They all smile more. They’re all figuring out how they fit together. He and Dean still disagree about things, they still argue, but it doesn’t feel like every word is going to be the one that breaks it all apart again.
They’re getting it. Dean researches, Sam hunts, and their angels are never far behind them.
Gabriel builds Sam a permanent nest, a proper angelic nest that Dean complains is just a hole in the floor with pillows in it. Sam ignores his brother, he loves the nest, he loves Gabriel. Just not all the time.
“Come on, try again.”
Sam groans into the pillows he’s wrapped around and huffs as Gabriel prods him into a sitting position. Somewhere along the line Gabriel thought it would be a good idea to work on his powers again. Even though Sam said they were gone, the angel refuses to believe him.
So now he’s sitting in their nest, frowning, trying to catch one of Abe’s bouncy balls with his mind. It’s hard and stupid and he doesn’t know why Gabriel just hasn’t given up on him already.
He can hear the TV out in the living room, Gabriel brought back a bunch of Disney movies after last night’s hunt and Abe was mesmerized by Peter Pan. He can hear Cas and Dean making dinner and he just wants to lie down and...
“One more time,” Gabe says, “One more time and I will do wonderful filthy things to you.”
That gets Sam’s attention. He swallows and waits. The ball arcs perfectly off Gabriel’s fingers and Sam only has to do this once. He tries to remember what it was like, before Ruby, before the blood, before everything went to shit...
When he was home.
He feels it. A flicker of wholeness. The ball stops on it way back down and hangs in mid-air before Gabriel tackles him into the nest with a shout of triumph.
Sam’s missed home.