Sam pointed his flashlight toward the ground in the dark, illuminating the massive pile of festive explosives in front of him. Dean was walking back and forth from the trunk of the Impala a few feet away, carrying armfuls at a time. Mounds and mounds of canon shots were all piled up near countless tubes... Sam had never seen so many fireworks in his whole life.
“Dude,” the man muttered in exasperation, watching his older brother cart another arm-load, “How much money did you waste on these fireworks?”
“None,” Dean answered simply, kneeling down to arrange them, “That guy in Cleveland gave them to me in exchange for a few boxes of ammo.”
Sam shook his head as he watched Dean start to set up the various fireworks. Really? Dean exchanged their precious ammo for a stockpile of fireworks that were only going to last a few minutes? That was worse than wasting money...
“Is this really necessary? I mean, it's just the Fourth of July. It'll come back around next year,” Sam reminded.
Dean actually stopped what he was doing and turned to give Sam a look of utter surprise, as if he couldn't believe what he just heard.
“Sammy, they're fireworks. And he's never seen them before,” Dean almost whispered, his eyes flickering toward the treeline a few yards away.
Sam automatically knew who Dean was referring to. He was talking about Jude; his and Cas's five-month-old son. Sam, too, raised his head to look toward the small group in the distance. Cas, the baby, Dickie, and Gabriel were all huddled together on the hillside, waiting for the show to begin. Sam sighed, feeling his resistance slip away. Dean loved fireworks. Of course he wanted to put on a grand show for his son's first Fourth of July.
“Oh yeah,” Sam mumbled, feeling a smirk flash on his own face, “Well, in that case, do you need any help?”
“Nah. I'm just going to set them up,” Dean answered, turning back to his work, “Cas is going to light them from up there. You go ahead and have a seat, Sammy. I'll be up there in a minute.”
Sam nodded and handed Dean his flashlight before starting the trek up the hill. As he got closer to the top, the sight of his family came into better focus. Cas was planted on a blanket on the ground with his son in his arms. The angel's eyes were firmly set on Dean, watching him from a distance with curiosity. Jude, on the other hand, was happily drooling all over a rubber toy, seeming uninterested in his dad's current mission. Sam grinned when his nephew blinked up at him with giant blue eyes. Ah, man, Jude was so small and cute. And even cuter was the fact that he was clinging to Cas's coat with one hand, treating it like his own security blanket.
“Hey Jude,” Sam muttered, giving a small wave.
The baby only replied with a small 'eh' before returning to his toy. Gabriel's dog, however, was thoroughly distraught. The little Jack Russell Terrier barked a few times and jumped around, obviously jealous of the attention that Sam was giving the baby. Wanting to put the dog at ease, Sam stepped over and picked him up; turning him upward to scratch his furry belly.
“Oh, stop whining. You know I still love you,” Sam cooed to the dog.
Dickie wiggled and panted, enjoying the praise.
“What about me?”
Sam looked up at the sound of Gabriel's playful voice. The archangel was perched on a blanket of his own with his legs stretched out and elbows back. It looked like he was pretending to be on a beach somewhere, lazing around in the sand. Sam's eyes wandered all over Gabriel's form – his tight jeans, dark shirt, golden hair, moist lips – before greeting his amber eyes. Wow. Just looking at Gabe made Sam's whole body tingle.
“Don't I get a belly rub?” the archangel asked, raising an eyebrow.
Sam gave a small chuckle as he sat Dickie down and walked over to join Gabriel on the blanket. He made sure that Cas and the baby were out of hearing range before leaning over to whisper to his archangel.
“If you're a good boy, I'll be sure to give you a nice rub later,” Sam smirked, giving a wink for added effect.
Sam knew that he wasn't very good at flirting, and that his inappropriate line about 'rubbing' wasn't all that funny or sexy. But Gabriel seemed to appreciate it anyway. The archangel flashed a huge pearly grin and nuzzled closer to Sam on their shared blanket, bringing his sweet scent closer.
“Well, in that case, I'll be on my best behavior. Or at least, I'll try to be,” he purred, snaking his hand along Sam's thigh.
A few more tingles raced up Sam's spine at the sensation of Gabe's warm touch. The archangel was groping the inside of the man's thigh, getting dangerously close to his crotch. Sam stole a worried glance toward the babbling infant a few feet away as he reached down to stop Gabe's hand from going any further.
“Not in front of Jude,” Sam hissed, even though he was still smiling.
“Ah, he's just a baby. He doesn't know any better,” Gabriel whispered.
Sam was about to forcefully remove Gabe's wandering hand, when Dean started jogging up the hill. Luckily, the older brother's arrival made Gabe's hand drop away from Sam's thigh. Everyone watched as Dean crawled up to sit on the blanket next to Cas and lift Jude into his arms. The little baby giggled as Dean bounced him in the air a few times.
“Okay. Are you ready to see some fireworks, little man? Huh? You wanna see the sparkly lights?” Dean asked as he gently tickled Jude's tummy.
The baby smiled and laughed in response, even though he was probably unable to comprehend what Dean was actually saying. But Jude's smile was infectious; causing everyone else to smile too. Gah, he was just so adorable; with those puffy cheeks, that dark hair, and those blue eyes. He was the perfect mix of Dean, Cas, and all the cuteness of a million teddy bears rolled into one.
Dean was grinning proudly when he turned the baby around in his arms. Once Jude was facing the bottom of the hill, Dean nodded to Cas and the angel raised his hand toward the pile of fireworks in the distance. One by one, he started lighting them up, making fire sizzle up the fuses and set them off. Lines of sparks zig-zagged up into the air and exploded, causing massive booms to echo across the field. They burst overhead, displaying huge bouquets of colorful lights.
It seemed like everyone was keeping one eye on Jude, wanting to see how he was going to react. Sam figured that the initial blast of sound would shock him and make him cry – but it didn't. The baby only flinched and smiled, showing all three of his baby teeth. Dean seemed really excited by his son's enthusiastic reaction. He smiled and pointed to various bursts of light, whispering happily in the baby's ear. Cas was wearing a pleasant smile the whole time too, enjoying the sight of his family bonding.
Sam watched the three of them for a minute before looking back up to watch the colors blossom in the air. Though he was originally against it, Sam had to admit that Dean did a great job of picking out the best fireworks. Even when they were kids, Dean always knew exactly where to find the greatest shows. Both brothers loved the big fireworks; where the explosions seemed to engulf the whole sky and the lights cascaded down like willow tree branches. For the longest time, the Fourth of July was Sammy's favorite holiday because he got to sneak into parks and backyards to watch fireworks with his cool older brother.
Feeling nostalgic, Sam turned to ask Gabriel if he was enjoying the show too, but he lost his words. The archangel wasn't looking up at the sky. He was watching the baby instead. Gabe's golden eyes were blinking slowly toward Jude near them while a soft smile rested on his lips. Sam glanced back and forth between Gabe and the baby, seeing that his stare was almost vacant. What was he doing? Was he distracted by Jude's sheer cuteness? Or was he thinking about something?
“Gabe?” Sam asked, reaching back to rake a hand through the archangel's soft hair, “You okay?”
Gabriel's sight flickered back toward Sam, where his smile spread into a full grin. The archangel wiggled a little closer the the man on the blanket in order to crawl up into his lap. Sam swallowed harshly when Gabriel climbed up to sit on him, feeling Gabe's warm ass press right against his crotch. Gabriel roped both arms around Sam's neck and shoulders too, holding onto him the same way a little kid would hold onto a grown up.
“Look how happy they are, moose,” Gabe mentioned over the booming sound of fireworks, “It's like looking at a post card or something.”
Sam took the time to look back at Dean, Cas, and Jude, watching them giggle and laugh together under the glow of colorful lights. Yeah, Gabe was right. Sam had never seen them so happy before; especially his older brother. Dean had never laughed so much in his entire life...
“Yeah. It's nice,” Sam mused, hugging Gabriel's tiny form close.
For another moment, they were both quiet; simply watching their brothers play with their nephew. Dickie was running around too, trying his damnedest to catch the falling sparkles even though they disappeared long before touching the ground. Sam actually felt content, for once. Was this how normal people felt all the time?
“He is so adorable,” Gabriel mumbled.
Again, Sam blinked between the archangel in his arms and the rest of his family nearby, unsure of why Gabriel was pointing out the obvious.
“Uh, yeah. He is,” Sam agreed quietly.
Gabriel gave a smug smirk and tugged his arms a little tighter around Sam's shoulders. His eyes stayed glued to Jude, even as he brought his lips close to Sam's ear.
“Ours is going to be cuter,” the archangel whispered.
Sam felt like he had been shoved violently from a tall ledge. All the blood suddenly drained from his face and he nearly gasped in shock as he turned to fully gaze at Gabriel's face. Ours? Ours?! What the hell did he mean by that? Was Gabe talking about the two of them?! Did he seriously just mention having a child with Sam?!
“O – Ours?” Sam stuttered, feeling his heart pound against his ribcage, “What are you talking about? Gabe, are – are you pregnant?!”
Gabriel's face skewed in confusion while his shiny eyes reflected the cascading lights from above them. His head started shaking back and forth, making his flared blonde hair whip around.
“What? No. I'm not pregnant,” Gabe quickly denied, “At least, not yet, anyway...”
“Not yet?!” Sam repeated, “What do you mean 'not yet'? Are you saying that you want to have kids?!”
“No. I'm saying that I want to start a peach farm in Texas,” Gabriel spat sarcastically, “Yes, I want to have kids, Sammy. I mean, one kid would be fine. One little mini-moose to spoil rotten. What do you think?”
“I think you're crazy,” Sam scoffed.
Apparently, Gabriel had been hoping for a different answer. Because the moment Sam spoke his reply, it looked like Gabriel's heart shattered into a million pieces. His smile vanished and his eyes glimmered with pain. His arms fell a bit too, barely staying around Sam's neck. Sam could feel his own heart breaking the longer he stared at his disappointed angel.
“You... You don't want to have a baby?” Gabe mumbled, barely audible over the constant sound of booming fireworks.
Sam gulped hard, making his Adam's apple bob in his throat. As much as he wanted to give Gabriel an answer that would make him happy, Sam knew that he had to be completely honest. No matter how much it hurt.
“No,” he breathed, feeling guilt swell up in his chest, “I don't.”
After the words escaped Sam's mouth, Gabriel's arms slipped from his shoulders and 'thunked' between them. Off to the side, Dean and Cas were giggling and playing with their infant son, filling the air with the sound of merriment and delight. But an awkward silence had swept between Sam and Gabriel as they stared at each other in disbelief. The icy chill of disagreement had cooled down their warm embrace. And Sam had no idea when it was going to end.
The only thing he knew for sure was that he and Gabe were headed toward a very long discussion...
Millions and billions of years ago, when the world was fresh out of the box and still had that 'New Earth' smell, Gabriel was there. In fact, the archangel was standing right next to his old man when the guy spoke the infamous line, “Let there be light.” Of course, light appeared and all the angels 'oohed' and 'awed' at how amazing it was to behold the beginning of life. That was the first time Gabriel realized that he wanted to be just like his dad. Confident. Powerful. Maybe just a little dramatic. Those three traits were what he craved to have the most.
After five days of nonstop miracles on the home front, dear old dad decided that he was finally going to make the most precious creation that he had ever thought to conjure. Humans. Weird, naked little creatures that were sort of made out of his own image. The first man was created from the dust of the Earth and, again, Gabriel was standing right there when it happened; watching his dad play in the dirt like an animal. To be honest, he thought it was going to be a complete disaster. But when God blew air into the lungs of the hairless ape and the creature took his first breath, Gabriel was genuinely impressed. The very first human was actually beautiful in his own special way. Gabriel could still remember that his exact words on the subject were, “Ar bolape bellus, pilah irgil piripsax,” which was Enochian for, “Damn, that thing is prettier than the streets of gold!”
Then, after giving the human power over the entire world and letting him name every single animal in existence – which, by the way, Gabriel thought was a huge mistake. 'Hippopotamus?' 'Platypus?' Ugh, it was like listening to a first-grader name the class pets – God gave the man a mate. The first female. Then things pretty much went south from there. Long story short, they disobeyed the one rule they were ever given, ate the forbidden fruit, got kicked out of the garden, and then bam. Poor little Eve got saddled with the most painful punishment of all.
Gabriel had to admit that the process by which Adam and Eve conceived their first child was pretty awesome. Watching it for the first time from heaven undoubtedly sparked his interest. The panting, the thrusting, the beating hearts, the trembling limbs – it all looked so good. And it wasn't long after the sex took place that Eve became pregnant. And, boy, did she swell up fast. The girl looked like a balloon with arms and legs. For nine months, she carried the child around inside her own body; waddling here and there, eating whatever Adam brought to her. Gabriel, and most of the other angels, kept an eye on her the whole time, waiting to see how the kid was gonna come out. Because they knew it was going to be painful whenever it happened.
And then one day, seemingly out of the blue, she went into labor. All of the angels – archangels included – were all crowded near the edge of heaven, gazing down on Earth in wonder. Gabriel was there too, watching with excited anticipation just like the rest of them. Back in those days, nobody had ever seen a pregnancy before, let alone a birth. Hours went by and poor little Eve cried and groaned while her body adjusted to make way for the baby. Little by little, a tiny head, torso, and limbs came out of her. And the whole of heaven was astonished once again by the magnificence of God's work.
Once the baby was born, he let out a soft cry. And that one tiny sound seemed to echo straight up to heaven and ping directly against Gabriel's heart. From the moment he saw Eve cradle her firstborn child in her arms and smile down at him, Gabriel knew he wanted to share in that inexplicable joy. He wanted that bond; that strong, intimate, loving bond between a parent and a child. Gabe wanted to be a good father, just like his father had been for him.
Ever since he witnessed the first baby being born on Earth, Gabriel wanted to have a baby of his own.
Fast forward a few millenniums after abandoning heaven to live amongst humans, Gabriel found himself living in the lap of luxury. Dad was gone, so the archangel took it upon himself to rid the world of evil in his own special way. He started giving assholes their 'just desserts'; making them suffer and go through the pains they caused everyone else before eventually killing them. While he bounced around the Earth and cast judgment on mankind, Gabriel forgot about his earlier ambition to have a child – because, frankly, the angel was starting to think that it was a stupid idea. Who in their right mind would want to settle down and have a baby with a cowardly archangel that had abandoned heaven and wasted his celestial talents by killing bad people and running from his own family?
That was about the time Sam Winchester came into the picture.
Gabriel had heard about the 'Brothers of the Apocalypse' a long before he left home. Dad had made it perfectly clear that one day Mikey and Luci were going to have an epic battle for the end of time, and that they needed to wear the Winchester brothers to do it. So naturally, when he heard that those two hunters were nearby, Gabriel took the opportunity to introduce himself by leading them on a fake hunt. It was the first time he had ever met them – and from the moment he laid eyes on him, Gabriel was fully aware of how much he favored Sam.
After that, it was fun game of cat and mouse – or, rather, cat and moose – between Gabriel and Sam. They kept crossing each others' paths for a few years even after Gabe had stopped chasing him. Whether it was by Dad's plan or mere coincidence, Gabe didn't know why they kept meeting. All he really knew was that he had somehow fallen head-over-heels in love with the plaid-wearing, shaggy-haired, eight-foot-tall mess that was Sam Winchester. And it seemed like like Sam actually loved him back. Because whenever they were together, that kid never stopped smiling...
Now, they were officially together. A 'couple,' as present day humans would say. They held hands in the car, flirted with playful banter, and had wild animal sex in random motel rooms. They laughed all the time, told each other secrets, pulled pranks on their brothers, and took care of Dickie together. Things were going pretty well in Gabe and Sam's relationship – and it was made even better by the fact that they now had a sweet little nephew to spoil.
Jude was a cute baby. Small, reserved, and adorable as hell. And his surprise arrival had finally brought back all the excitement and hopefulness that Gabriel had felt way back at the beginning of time, when he watched his dad create Adam and saw Eve deliver her first child. Being around Jude made Gabriel crave to have his own baby. It made him yearn to be a parent just like he did all those millenniums ago. But even more than that, Jude made Gabriel want to have Sam's baby. Jude looked exactly like his parents, with Cas's big blue eyes and Dean's forever-puckered lips. And Gabriel wanted his child to have Sammy's good looks; his long legs, shaggy hair, and those adorable dimples. With every ounce of grace he possessed, Gabriel desperately wanted to have a baby with Sam Winchester.
But just a few moments ago, the archangel had received the most devastating news of his life. Sam boldly declared that he didn't want to have kids. And Gabriel couldn't stop himself from falling into a spiraling pit of pain and disappointment. No kids? No kids ever? But Gabriel had always wanted a kid! Since the dawn of time! How was he supposed to react to that? How was he supposed to cope with it?
When the last firework fizzled out overhead, Dean and Cas announced that it was time to leave. Gabriel was at a loss for words even as everyone started packing up and heading toward the Impala in the dark. Some kind of invisible wall had formed between him and Sammy, causing them both to clam up and stare off in different directions. Gabe was barely aware that his dog was walking along near his feet when he slowly opened the back door of the car and plopped down into the seat like a sack of depressed potatoes. Jude's car seat was lodged between him and Sam and, for once, he was actually grateful. Because he didn't know if he could talk to Sammy right now.
The trip back to the motel was quiet and Gabe spent the whole time looking down at his lap and thinking about things. Why didn't Sam want to have a kid? Was it because a baby required a lot of expensive things and he felt like he couldn't afford to have one? Was it because he didn't want to deal with the diaper changes and the one-in-the-morning feeding times? Because if that was the case, Sam didn't need to worry about it. Gabe was totally ready to take on all the dirty responsibilities of having a baby. Plus, with his grace, almost nothing was impossible. Hell, he could change a diaper with the snap of his fingers. Parenthood was going to be a piece of cake for them. Didn't Sam know that?
Back at the motel, Gabe shook himself out of his own thoughts long enough to help Cas get Jude out of the car. The baby had fallen asleep during the ride back and Gabriel was extra careful when he scooped the little guy into his arms and passed him off to Cas. An odd twinge of heartache echoed down into his stomach as he felt his nephew's warm little body slip from his grasp. Damn, it was so hard to let go of a tiny baby like that...
“Goodnight, brother,” Cas whispered, already heading toward his and Dean's room with Jude, “I'll see you in the morning.”
“Yeah. Catch you later, baby bird,” Gabriel replied quietly.
The archangel took a deep breath and finally turned around to look at Sam again. The towering beanpole was already at their motel room door, holding it open with one hand. A night breeze was tossing his lengthy hair around, making the dark strands brush across his pretty face as he nodded toward the inside of the room. He obviously wanted to get inside so they could be alone and talk.
Not wanting to keep his giant moose waiting, Gabriel shuffled his way into the room with Dickie close by his feet. He flipped the light on and watched the dog sniff around the floor while Sam pulled the door closed behind them with a gentle click. Yep. That sealed it. They were definitely alone. Normally, Gabe would be ready to climb Sam like a tree and make out with him right about now. But not tonight. Tonight, the archangel wanted answers.
“So, uh... No kids, huh?” Gabe causally mentioned, turning around to look up at his boyfriend with a raised eyebrow, “Why not? Are you allergic to them? Do they make you break out in hives or something?”
Sam exhaled a huge breath and raked a hand through his gorgeous main of hair as he walked over to the mini fridge to grab a bottle of water. It seemed like he was trying to keep his eyes away from Gabriel's; like he was too afraid – or too ashamed – to look at him.
“No. I just don't want one, okay?” he mumbled, taking a drink.
Gabriel sighed and crossed his arms, feeling unconvinced. Sam played with Jude all the time and it seemed like he really loved it. How could Sammy say that he didn't want kids when he clearly loved hanging out with his baby nephew?
“If Jude could talk, he would say that's bullshit,” Gabe pointed out, staring up at the back of Sam's head, “Besides, why wouldn't you want to have a kid, Sammy-boy? They're so cute!”
“Gabe,” Sam sighed in a whiny tone, finally turning around to meet his eyes, “Don't you remember how dangerous it was for Cas to have a baby? We had to surround him with angel wards just so he could bring Jude into the world. What makes you think our kid would be any safer?”
“Because I'm a freakin' archangel, kiddo. No one in their right mind would ever try to cross me, especially if I was pregnant,” Gabriel pointed out, “Besides, I'm pretty sure heaven got the message to leave us alone when I went up there and vaporized half the place to save you.”
Sam paused to take another breath and look away again. Gabe could see, in those beautiful blinking eyes of his, that he was thinking quickly, trying to come up with more reasons.
“Gabriel, I kill things on an almost daily basis,” Sam said more quietly, “This world is full of monsters. I – I don't want to bring another person into this horrible world and make them go through the things that I've gone through -”
“Our kid would have part of my grace, Sam. It won't be as hard for them as it was for you -”
“I wouldn't make a good father, anyway,” Sam interrupted, still listing off excuses, “Dean is different. He's had experience taking care of kids, but not me. I'm too messed up. I'd just end up ruining it, like I ruin everything else. Everyone around me dies, Gabe. And our kid might -”
Gabriel flashed across the room in order to reach up and cover Sam's mouth. He couldn't stand listening to the poor guy talk about himself like that. Sam was worth so much more than he could ever imagine. The man looked down into the archangel's eyes and Gabe could clearly see his pain.
“Stop lying to yourself, Sammy-boy,” he said, giving a soft smile as he let his hand slip away from Sam's mouth, “You're perfect. And you know for a fact that our kid would be completely perfect too. Come on. I know you've had baby fever before. Haven't you ever thought about having kids?”
“Yes,” Sam blurted, his eyes darting away again, “But that was a long, long time ago... back in college...”
All of the sudden, Gabriel could feel his heart beating awkwardly inside his own chest. Oh. Right. Somehow, he had forgotten all about Sam's past. Now-a-days, whenever Sam mentioned 'college,' he wasn't referring to the place where he went to get a higher education. No. He was mentioning the period of his life when he was actually happy. When he actually cared about himself and his own future. Back when he was with her...
A solid rock seemed to manifest in the pit of Gabe's stomach and he had to look away from Sam for a second. Wow. Everything seemed to make sense, now. Sam didn't want to have kids – not because he was afraid of the world or because he hated himself, although some of that was probably true. It was because the last time he thought about it, he had been with Jessica. It was no wonder there was so much pain in his pretty eyes when he talked about it. Every time someone mentioned kids, Sam was probably forced to relive his past girlfriend's death again. And Gabriel felt terrible, because this time it was his fault.
“Oh,” the archangel breathed.
Gabe took a step back and glanced around, briefly seeing his dog climb up on the bed side them. He swayed around for a second, not sure of what else to say. Damn, his chest was aching so bad. Why did thinking about Sam's happy past make him hurt so much?
“Fair enough,” Gabe mumbled, “I... I won't bring it up anymore, then.”
The archangel used his grace to pull a sucker out of thin air and popped it into his mouth before turning to walk toward the bed. Dickie was sitting up on the edge, wagging his tail and watching Gabe come closer. Gabriel gave his little dog a few pats on the head before plopping himself down on the mattress. He didn't feel like talking anymore. Hell, he didn't feel like having sex, either. The conversation about kids had sucked all the joy out of the room, leaving him to feel like a sack of depressed potatoes again. He rolled the lollipop around in his mouth while he blinked toward the far wall, trying his best to find some joy in his favorite food. Candy always brought him happiness. But it sure as hell wasn't working this time, dammit.
Out of nowhere, a giant hand grabbed Gabriel's shoulder and rolled him over, tossing him onto his back and making him face the ceiling. Sam was suddenly hovering over him on the bed with his lengthy hair hanging down. Gabe stared up at Sam's face, eying his strong jawline and perfect eye color as the man reached down and plucked the candy out of his mouth. He tossed the sucker over his shoulder before craning down to smash his mouth against Gabe's. Gabriel let out a small 'mmm' as he sank fully into his sudden kiss and let himself drown in it. Candy might not have been able to make him feel better, but Sammy's wet mouth sure did...
Sam swirled his tongue around Gabe's for a second, making tingles crawl up the archangel's spine, before pulling away to breathe. One of his huge hands came up to rake its way through Gabriel's hair, creating goosebumps on the archangel's skin. Gnah. Gabe loved feeling Sam's hands on him...
“Hey... Don't I owe you a belly rub?” Sam asked, his voice low and playful.
A genuine smile finally returned to Gabriel's mouth. He was glad that all the tension was finally breaking up and disappearing.
“Damn right, you do,” Gabe replied.
Sam let out a chuckle before leaning back down to recapture Gabriel's mouth. Although the idea of having a baby was still tugging at his heart, the archangel put it aside for the time being. Right now, the only thing he wanted to do was be happy and play with his moose.