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Jessie stared down at her fingernails in the sunshine, seeing the colorful polish glisten in the light. Each of her nails had a rainbow painted on it, except for two, which where both purple instead. Ms. Jane said they were different because they were 'accent colors.' And Jessie really liked those. Purple was her favorite color. Besides rainbow, of course.

“Thanks for taking me to get my nails done, Ms. Jane,” Jessie said, lifting her head to look at the pretty lady next to her.

Ms. Jane was driving her big silver car with Jessie in the passenger seat beside her. For the first time since Jessie could remember, it was just the two of them. No daddies or papas or uncles or boys. Today was a girl's day. Ms. Jane glanced down at Jess and smiled a big lovely smile.

“You're very welcome, Guapa,” she replied, “I'm glad you enjoyed it.”

Jessie smiled back. 'Guapa' had been her nickname from Ms. Jane for a long time. Jess didn't really know what it meant, but she liked hearing Ollie's mom say it all the time. Her voice was so pretty when she talked like that... A new song suddenly came on the radio and it made Ms. Jane gasp. She reached over to turn up the dial, making the noise grow louder.

“This song always reminds me of you, Cielo,” Ms. Jane hummed, brushing some of Jess's hair away from her face.

Again, Jess smiled and hunkered down bashfully into her seat. It was really nice of Ms. Jane to say that. Jess knew the song playing because uncle Dean used to play it in the bunker all the time. It was a Beatles song; one of her favorites. “Here Comes the Sun.” The idea of Ms. Jane thinking of her when it came on made Jess feel so good. Because it was such a pretty song. Man, Ms. Jane was the nicest lady ever. Jessie really hoped that she would grow up to be as sweet, pretty, and kind as her.

Although no one said anything about it this morning, Jessica knew what was going on. Today was her birthday. She was ten years old today – finally the same age as Jude and Ollie again, and she was glad that they couldn't tease her about being little anymore – only no one had wished her a happy birthday yet. Papa woke her up this morning and sent her out with Ms. Jane instead. The two girls went shopping, had brunch, and got their nails done. But now, they were driving somewhere. Everybody was probably trying to pretend that today wasn't Jessica's birthday for some reason. But that was dumb. Because Jessica already knew about the party they were going to have at the park. She saw it in a dream a few months ago...

But even though Jessie knew about the party, she didn't say anything. Usually, when she mentioned something about her dreams, everyone else was disappointed that she already knew about it. And Jessie didn't like it when they got those sad looks on their faces. So she kept the little bit about the party to herself. She was ready to act surprised if Ms. Jane took her to the park. Ms. Jane had done so many fun things with her today and Jess was so happy to just spend time with her.

Over the high dashboard of Ms. Jane's silver car, Jess could see that they were on a familiar road. The park was just around the corner and Jessie could feel her tummy getting all bubbly with excitement. While she liked having time with Ms. Jane, Jessie really missed all her boys. Her family was the best family ever, because the people in it were so funny and sweet. She couldn't wait to see them all again, especially for her birthday. Ms. Jane slowly pulled into the park entrance and gave out a large fake gasp.

“Oh my, what's this?” she asked, glancing between Jessica and the windshield.

Jessie could feel a ginormous smile on her own face when she stretched up in the seat to see the decorations in the distance. Rainbow colored balloons where dancing in the breeze, tied to a picnic table full of gifts and food. Everyone in Jessie's family was scattered around the place – even uncle Bobby, uncle Crowley, and Auntie Rowena! Uncle Bobby's three dogs were chasing Dickie around the slide nearby and uncle Dean and uncle Cassie were spreading food out on the table. But Daddy, Papa, Jude, and Ollie were all waving at Ms. Jane's car as it rolled up close, wearing party hats and smiles. Jessica felt like her whole soul was smiling! Even though she knew it was going to happen, seeing it in person was so much better! She couldn't wait to get out of the car and hug everyone!

“It's my birthday party!” Jess squealed to Ms. Jane.

Ms. Jane let out a laugh as she turned off the car, seeming happy for her. Jude and Ollie came up to open Jessie's door for her, letting her out and welcoming her with a giant hug.

“Happy birthday, Jessie!” Jude smiled, nearly picking her up with a squeeze.

Jessie giggled into her cousin's ear and hugged him back, feeling so happy. She and Jude were almost the exact same height, now. Plus, Jude was always so strong, just like uncle Dean. When Jude sat Jess back down, Ollie hugged her next. His hug was softer, more like a pat on the back than a monster hug. But Jessie actually liked it a little better. Ollie was always so sweet and nice, just like his mommy.

“Yeah, happy birthday, Jessie. I like all your rainbow stuff,” Ollie said, pointing toward all the decorations, “It reminds me of Freddie.”

Jess giggled again. Freddie was Ollie's stuffed unicorn; the one he had ever since he turned five. And he was right. The rainbow decorations reminded Jess of Freddie's unicorn, too. Just as Jess was about to say thanks to her boys, Dickie came running to jump up and down in front of her. She figured that the little doggie was wishing her a happy birthday too, so Jess picked him up to hug him like the rest of the guys. Dickie licked her face and whimpered, acting like a proud puppy.

“Thanks, Dickie,” Jessie grinned, looking up to her boys, “and thank you guys. I'm so glad to see -”

“There she is!”

Jessica looked up in wonder to see Papa barreling toward her. His arms were open and his shaggy golden hair was tossing around in the wind when he ran up to scoop Jess into a big hug. A squealing giggle left Jessie's smiling mouth when she felt Papa lift her up. Dickie wiggled frantically between them like he was confused and excited all at once.

“My sunshine-honeydew-bunny rabbit!” Papa chuckled, holding her tight and spinning around, making her dangling feet fly, “Oh, look how pretty you are! I love you so much! How can you look so grown up when you're just a baby?”

“Papa, I'm ten,” Jessie argued, still fighting giggles.

“Nope,” Papa snapped with a grin, pausing his spinning to stare down at Jess with a pretty smile, “You're still a baby. You're my baby. And you're gonna be my baby forever and ever. Got it, sweetheart?”

Jess stared up into her Papa's big golden eyes and nodded. Yep. She didn't mind to be his baby forever. He was the best Papa in the whole world and she wanted him to be happy always. Papa nodded back and planted a sweet kiss to Jess's cheek before sitting her back on her feet. He stepped back so that Daddy could walk up and give her a 'happy birthday' hug, too. Even though Daddy knelt down on one knee, he was still taller than Jess. He was wearing a gentle and proud look when he pulled her into a hug, wrapping both arms around her like a blanket. Jess buried her face into Daddy's long soft hair and took a big sniff, enjoying the smell of his scent. Daddy always gave the most comfortable hugs...

“Happy birthday, Jessie,” he whispered.

“Thanks, Daddy,” Jess replied.

After a few more seconds of gentle hug time, Daddy raised his head to look down at Jess's face. Jessica admired her dad's expression, noticing that his eyes were starting to squint and his mouth was turning downward.

“... You already knew about this, didn't you?” he mumbled quietly.

Jessie didn't want to pop Daddy's happy bubble, but she gave him a tiny nod anyway.

“Yeah,” she whispered, “but I still love it.”

She and Daddy shared a secret wink – the kind that was just for the two of them – before kissing her cheek and standing back up. Papa stepped closer again to take Jess's hand and gently pull her toward the table behind them.

“Come and say hi to your ol' uncle Bobby, baby bunny,” Papa said, “The poor guy's been dying to see you all day.”

Just when Papa spoke, uncle Bobby looked up from the table to see them and a big smile filled his whole face. More excitement bubbled in Jess's tummy as she raced up to him with her arms open. It had been a few months since she last saw uncle Bobby and his Crowley, and it seemed like they were just as happy to see her, too.

“Hiya, uncle Bobby!” Jess sang, running up to hug his pudgy belly.

Uncle Bobby gave a hardy chuckle and patted her back, sounding as jolly as Santa Clause.

“Hey there, darlin',” he smiled from behind his beard, “I heard today was your birthday so I figured I'd bring as many folks as I could. And some gifts while I was at it.”

Jess giggled at uncle Bobby's playful wink. Uncle Crowley came strolling up a second or two later to give Jess a soft look from above.

“Hello again, child,” he purred in an accent much different from Ms. Jane's, “I see you're finally starting to put those Winchester genes to use. You've grown nearly a foot since I last saw you.”

“Yep,” Jessie nodded, “uncle Cassie is keeping track of it in the kitchen doorway.”

“How very charming,” uncle Crowley mumbled, though he didn't seem amused.

“Oooh! There's the birthday lass!”

Jessica turned around just in time to see Auntie Rowena swoop down with a big hug. She was wearing a flowy black and purple dress that almost smothered Jess. The little girl smiled again as she wrapped her arms around Auntie Rowena's tiny body. Man, she was getting so many hugs today! Did everybody get this many hugs on their birthday?

“Yer as pretty as a church bell on Sunday,” Auntie Rowena sighed, standing back up to touch Jessie's face.

“Says the witch who practices dark magic,” uncle Crowley whispered to uncle Bobby.

“Thanks, Auntie 'wena,” Jess smiled and blushed.

“Hey, where's the birthday girl?” uncle Dean called.

Jessica popped her head up to search in the direction she heard her name and found uncle Dean and uncle Cassie carrying a big cake to the table. The little girl's mouth fell open in surprise. That cake was so big and pretty! It was white with purple glitter all around it and a rainbow arch over the top! And instead of candles, there were sparklers! It was beautiful! Uncle Dean smiled and waved her over.

“Come over here so we can sing to you, blondie,” he grinned.

Jessica didn't waste anytime running over to climb up onto the picnic table seat. Dickie hopped up to join her with Jude and Ollie on each side. Daddy and Papa stood up behind her while everyone else gathered around the front side. They were all staring at Jess and the pretty cake when they started to sing 'Happy Birthday.' The only thing Jessica did while she listened to the voices of all her favorite people sing to her was watch the sparklers fizzle on her cake and feel absolutely loved. She hoped that every kid got to feel this way on their birthday because this was the best feeling in the world...

Happy birthday to yooooou,” they finished with clapping.

Papa knelt down next to Jess and hugged her tight to whisper,

“Make a wish and blow out the fireworks, baby girl.”

Jessica paused to think really hard about what she wanted to wish for. There were many things that she could ask to have, so many toys and playthings. But all she really wanted was this. To be happy with her family forever. Jessie tried her best to feel her wish in her heart before she blew air with all her might. The sparklers actually stopped sparkling and everyone clapped again. Yay! She made her wish! And she really hoped that it would come true...

“Great job, Jess,” uncle Dean said as he carefully pulled the cake away, “We're gonna open presents before we eat cake, okay?”

“Okay,” Jess nodded.

“Wow,” Ollie mumbled at her side, staring at the pile of gifts, “You got so many presents, Jessie. I hope they all fit in your room.”

“They will,” Jess nodded.

She didn't know what every present was yet, but she did know that they would all fit in her room. Because her room always looked clean and nice in her dreams. Uncle Dean sorted through some of the presents to find a good one before placing it on the table in front of Jess. It was a big box wrapped in red paper that seemed really heavy. Ollie and Jude were both cheering for Jessica when she tore the paper away and opened the box to see a huge black bowl inside. Huh. What was it? Some kind of bedroom decoration?

“What's this?” Jess asked, struggling to lift the heavy bowl out of the box.

“Oh! That's from me,” Auntie Rowena smiled and waved, “Its yer very first caldron, puppet. Every lady needs to have a great sturdy caldron. How do you suppose we craft our potions and poisons?”

Mother,” uncle Crowley hissed, tugging on her arm.

“Er, yeah, thanks,” Daddy coughed, lunging forward to take the black caldron and stuff it under the table, “Can we have the next present now, Dean?”

“Yep. Comin' right up,” uncle Dean mumbled.

He dug around in the pile again to grab a smaller present. This one was in a dark gift bag with a white bow on the front. Jessie didn't even look at the name tag. She just climbed up to pull the tissue paper out of the top and take out the gift. It was a very pretty box made out of dark wood, carved with tiny details of flowers and hearts. The letters JMW were burned into the top of the lid and Jessica figured that they stood for her name. Jessica Mary Winchester.

“This is pretty,” she breathed, admiring the art.

“Indeed,” uncle Crowley grinned, “but like you, there is more to it than just beauty, my dear.”

He strolled closer to the table so that he could lean down and whisper to Jessie, making his voice sound so welcoming.

“I enchanted this box with special magic,” he said, searching Jess's face with warm eyes, “It is virtually indestructible and will only open for you. All you must do is put your hand over the lid and say 'Winchester'.”

Jessica nearly gasped. A secret box that only opened for her?! That sounded so awesome! She couldn't wait to see if it worked! With uncle Crowley beaming next to her, Jessie grabbed the top of her box and whispered 'Winchester' just like he said – and the box popped open. A giggle escaped Jess's smiling lips as she lifted the lid to look down inside, where another tiny present was hidden. She took the tiny object and unwrapped it to reveal a small pocket knife, just like the one that Daddy had in the glove box of the Impala. Only this one was made of purple metal.

“That one's from me, darlin',” uncle Bobby said with a smile, holing up his cup of coffee, “You never know when yer gonna need something sharp.”

“That's so cool, Jessie,” Jude said, leaning forward, “Can I see it?”

Jessica happily handed her new knife over to her cousin so that he could see how awesome it was. In the meantime, she gave her two uncles the best smiles she had.

“Thank you so much,” she said, batting her eyelashes for good measure.

Uncle Bobby and uncle Crowley both grinned back at Jess, looking like the happiest uncles in the world. Papa carefully moved the wooden box out of the way so that uncle Dean could put the next present in front of Jess. It was a gift bag with a unicorn on the front. Next to her, Ollie suddenly shifted around in the seat with excitement.

“Oh! That's mine!” he smiled, making his brown eyes sparkle, “I picked those for you, Jessie! Open it! Open it!”

Jessie giggled as she yanked the tissue paper out and looked down inside to see a few movies. The little girl pulled them out one by one so that she could read the titles carefully.

“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?” she asked.

“No way! That's my favorite movie!” Papa said, leaning over to stare at the DVD cover with a huge grin before ruffling Ollie's red hair, “Great choice, carrot-top!”

Ollie blushed, but behind him, Daddy sighed and rolled his eyes. It seemed like he wasn't very happy about Papa giving Ollie some love. And though she was curious about it, Jessie went back to looking at her new movies instead.

“Alice in Wonderland, The Last Unicorn, and The Princess Bride,” Jess finished reading.

“Yeah,” Ollie said, leaning close to point at them, “I got you Alice because it has your white bunny in it, and I got The Last Unicorn because its my favorite, and I got you The Princess Bride because the princess is almost as pretty as you are.”

Jessie paused to look directly at her friend next to her; at his smiling face and messy orange hair. Ollie really thought she was pretty? He was so sweet! Jessie put down the movies so that she could wrap both arms around Ollie's warm shoulders. He smelled like watermelon and laundry. Ms. Jane, Auntie Rowena, and Papa all said 'aww,' but Daddy coughed loudly and quickly put all the movies back in the bag.

“Okay, open your next present, Jess,” he said, grabbing a random bag to place in front of her.

“Thanks Ollie,” Jessie whispered before letting go.

Ollie nodded and Jess turned to her gift. This one was from Jude. Jessie knew because she saw this one in a dream. There was a rolled up poster sticking out of the top and something small wrapped up in the bottom. The little girl knew that the poster was of Wonder Woman, because she had already seen it on her wall in many dreams before. She pulled it out and unraveled it, seeing the powerful lady in a fighting pose with a sword and her lasso on the big paper.

“Whoa, thanks, Jude!” Jessie smiled.

“You're welcome, Jessie,” he said, patting her back, “Don't forget the one in the bottom.”

Jess dug in the bottom of the bag to get the other small gift and tore it open. This one was a handmade bracelet. Rainbow beads were all around a purple string, but the middle beads had letters that spelled out her name. Jessica stared down at her new bracelet and felt kind of strange, like she was remembering something that hadn't happened yet. This bracelet was going to be very important to her. Just looking at it made her feel so safe and happy... Jessie looked up to her cousin beside her and gave him a big smile before wrapping him into a hug, too. Jess loved her cousin Jude. He was the best friend that anyone could ask for.

“I made it all by myself. I hope you like it,” Jude said.

“I love it, Jude,” Jessie nodded back.

The little girl had just enough time to slip the pretty bracelet onto her wrist before uncle Dean placed another present in front of her. He winked one of his green eyes when he put it down, like he was proud.

“This one is from me and uncle Cas,” he said.

Jessie giggled as she climbed back up to open the big gift bag. She reached down inside, touched something made of fabric, and pulled it out to see a new dress. It was long, slinky, and made of purple plaid; just like the kind that Daddy and uncle Dean wore, only prettier. Jess gasped and held it up to herself with a smile.

“It's so pretty, uncle Dean!” she sang.

“Uncle Cas picked it out for you,” uncle Dean said, pulling uncle Cassie close to toss an arm around his shoulder, “I got you the shoes.”

“Shoes?!” Jessie gasped.

She put the dress down to dig around in the bag to pull out two big black boots. They were so cool-looking! Like boots that tough girls wore. With big buckles and silver rivets on the sides. And they matched the new dress! It was a perfect outfit!

“The dress is for breaking hearts and the boots are for kickin' butt,” uncle Dean added with a smile.

“Thank you!” Jessie said, reaching both arms out to them.

Uncle Dean and uncle Cassie both leaned over the table so that they could hug her at the same time. Jessie loved them both so much. Uncle Cassie was so nice and uncle Dean was so funny. And they each gave great hugs.

“Happy Birthday, Jessica,” uncle Cassie said, pecking a kiss to the top of her head.

When Jess sat back down, Daddy came around the table with a huge gift. It must have been heavy, because he had to carry it with both hands and sit it down easy. Jessie, Jude, and Ollie all stared at the purple wrapping paper in surprise. Man, that was a big present! There was a really happy look on Daddy's face too, like he was exited for Jessie to open it. It was going to be a good one!

“This one is from me, Jess,” he said, sliding the box toward her.

Jessie couldn't wait to dig into the wrapping paper. She even let Ollie and Jude help her tear it all off of the big box. And when she finally pulled back the cardboard flaps to look inside, she let out another huge gasp. They were books! So many books! All kinds of books! Books were her favorite! Jessica's hands dove into the box to pick up as many as she could to see which ones they were.

“No way, Daddy! You got me The Hobbit?!” she breathed, staring wide-eyed at the dragon on the cover.

“The Hobbit?” uncle Dean repeated, “I thought you guys were reading Harry Potter.”

“Nope. We finished The Deathly Hallows last week,” Daddy answered, looking back to give uncle Dean a proud smile.

“Geez, that kid reads a lot... She's like a carbon copy of you, Sammy,” uncle Dean mumbled.

“And the Sherlock Holmes collection!” Jessie gasped, still sorting through her titles, “and Shakespeare's sonnets?! Oh my goodness!”

Across the table, most of Jess's uncles were giving her and Daddy a few weird glances.

“Shakespeare? Ain't that a little advanced for a ten-year-old?” uncle Bobby asked, raising an eyebrow under his hat.

“Not for our beam of sunshine,” Papa denied, reaching down to brush some of her hair back, “She's the smartest rabbit in the world.”

The little girl hugged her new books to her chest and squealed, feeling so happy. She had heard about – and dreamed about – these stories before, but she couldn't wait to read them for herself. She loved reading! Reading a story before bed with Daddy was her favorite thing to do. And now, she had plenty of new ones! Daddy smiled brightly at her from across the picnic table, making his eyes shine and look so handsome.

“There are some textbooks in there too, Jess. We're gonna start learning about the solar system and the Revolutionary war soon, okay?” he said.

“Okay! I can't wait,” she nodded happily, dropping the books to hold her arms out, “I love you, Daddy! Thank you so much!”

Daddy's smile turned even brighter when he came around the picnic table to give her another big hug. This hug was tighter than the one they had before. Jessie could almost feel Daddy's heart beating against her own chest. Again, she smothered her face into his long hair and breathed, feeling so light and warm.

“I love you too, honey. Happy birthday,” he whispered before kissing the side of her head.

Jess smiled up at her Daddy's handsome face when he pulled away, noticing that his eyes were kinda watery. Behind them, Papa clapped once really loud, getting everyone's attention.

“Alright! Time for the last gift,” Papa announced, meeting eyes with Jess and smiling real big, “And this one's from me.”

When Papa said that, Dickie growled a little bit and let out a few barks from the table. It sounded like he was disagreeing with Papa's words. With a deep sigh, Papa's shoulders drooped and he rolled his gold eyes.

“Okay, fine, it's from me and Dickie,” he corrected.

“Where is it, Papa?” Jessie asked.

She could see that all the presents had been opened, so whatever Papa had must have been somewhere out of sight. A grin – a sneaky kind of grin – spread on Papa's mouth as he eased over to kneel down next to her.

“Oh, this gift isn't something that you can hold in your hand, honeydew,” he said, shaking his head and reaching out to touch Jess's arm, “and it's certainly not here.”

Jessie was puzzled. If the gift wasn't something that she could hold, then how could it be a gift at all? The little girl reached out to hold onto her Papa's shoulders, wanting to know the answer.

“Then what's the gift?” she asked.

One of Papa's hands slipped inside his jacket pocket – and returned with a piece of paper between his fingers. He held out the rectangular paper to Jessie, who instantly snatched it away to read the printed words on the front.

“Kansas City Zoo?” she recited.

“Yep,” Papa nodded, his eyes big and mouth smirking, “Tomorrow, we're all heading out to go to the zoo!”

Jessica's jaw dropped and she nearly jumped out of her seat. The zoo?! Where all the animals were?! They were all going to see them?! All together?!

“The – the zoo?! Everybody's going?!” she asked.

“Uh-huh,” Papa nodded again, “You, me, Daddy, Jude, uncle Dean, uncle Cassie, Dickie. And Ollie, too.”

“Really?!” Jessie grinned.

“Really?!” Ollie said, his eyes big and mouth open.

Really?!” Daddy repeated, sounding upset and confused at the same time.

“Yep. I've already cleared it with his mommy. Right, Jane?” Papa asked, raising his head to look at her.

Across the table, Ms. Jane waved and nodded next to uncle Cassie. Jessie couldn't believe it! They were all going to go on a fun trip together to see animals! Monkeys and pandas and elephants and tigers! Jessie couldn't wait to go! That sounded like the best gift ever! The little girl lunged forward to give her Papa a ginormous hug, holding him so tight that she could feel their graces touching. She loved her Papa so much! He was the best, most amazing Papa ever!

“Thank you, Papa. I love you so much,” Jessie whispered.

Papa's warm arms circled around Jess's back and held her close, making her feel like she was already home again.

“I love you too, Jessie-rabbit,” he said back, “with all my heart.”

Dean carefully wrapped some tin foil around what was left of his niece's birthday cake, trying to cover as much as he could so that they could save it in the fridge. Geez, why did Sam and Gabriel get such a big cake? It was carrot cake – Jess's favorite – and Dean figured the cream cheese icing had to be kept cold. But man, it was going to be difficult to fit it in the fridge. Behind him in the bunker kitchen, Sam and Gabe were already putting away the rest of the food they had at the party. And gossiping like teenage girls, as usual.

“I heard Singer and the demon Brit still aren't living together,” Gabe practically whispered, sounding confused, “What do you think that's all about, Samsquatch? Think something's going on?”

“You mean other than Crowley trying to rule over Hell while Bobby hunts? I don't think so, Gabe,” Sam replied with a sigh.

“Oh, come on, you don't think that's just a little weird?” Gabe issued, sounding suspicious, “They've been married for five years and they've never lived together. Married couples are supposed to want to stay together all the time, right? I mean, look at us. Hell, you and I are practically connected at the hip. And not just in the bedroom.”

Dean actually paused to roll his eyes. Ugh. Why did Gabriel have to mention bedroom things in his presence?

“What are you trying to imply, Gabe? That they don't really love each other?” Sam huffed, sounding disappointed as he stacked veggie trays inside the fridge.

“What? No. Are you kidding? Those guys are head over heels for each other... I think its something else,” the archangel said, smirking as he stared off into the distance, “I think one of them wants a baby and the other one doesn't.”

Dean couldn't stop the laugh that toppled out of his mouth. And apparently Sam couldn't either, because he laughed just as hard. Crowley and Bobby wanting a kid? That was the dumbest idea ever! Gabe's smile disappeared and he glanced between the Winchesters, looking offended.

“What?” he asked.

Dean turned around so that he could look at Gabriel properly and shake his head.

“Bobby has already raised two kids of his own,” the man pointed out, gesturing to himself and Sam, “I doubt he wants to start the diaper changing now.”

Gabriel opened his mouth to argue but Jude and Jessica came running into the kitchen with Dickie at their heels. The birthday girl – still wearing that leftover smile from her party – held up one of her new movies and put on her best goo goo eyes.

“Daddy,” Jess said, batting those long eyelashes, “Can Jude and I watch Willy Wonka before bed tonight?”

Sam paused to look at Gabe, who smiled and gave a shrug.

“I guess,” Sam allowed, “Just be sure to turn it off by nine thirty, okay? We've gotta rest up for the trip tomorrow.”

“Yay!” Jessie rejoiced, “We will! Thanks, Dad!”

The two kids smiled and giggled with each other before ducking back out of the kitchen. Dean sighed contently as he watched his son and niece disappear out of the room. He was so glad that they had fun at the party today. And he couldn't wait to see their faces when they saw the animals at the zoo. That was all he ever wanted for Jude and Jess; happiness, fun, and as many smiles as they could spare...

“Do you think those oompa loompas will give her nightmares?” Sam mumbled.

“Nah. She'll love it,” Gabe denied, munching on some leftover cake, “So, anyway, back to this 'baby' business with Singer and Crowley -”

“There is no baby business, Gabe,” Sam groaned, “Bobby's done with kids. And I'm pretty sure that Crowley doesn't even want them.”

Dean nodded to show that he agreed with his brother's statement as he walked the heavy cake over to the fridge. The guy was right. As far as Dean could tell, Crowley hated kids.

“So what? That doesn't mean anything,” Gabe said, “Dean didn't want Jude at first, remember?”

Dean's mouth fell open and he almost dropped the cake in his hands. What the hell?! Why did Gabe have to bring up shit like that just to make a point? Before Dean could turn around and speak his mind on the matter, a loud 'clap' echoed around the room. Dean, Sam, and Gabe all turned toward the doorway – where they saw Jude standing alone. Apparently, the kid had come back to get a bag of popcorn, but the package laid at his feet where he dropped it in horror. Jude's blue eyes were wide and starting to glisten like pools, and Dean's heart broke instantly. Shit! Jude heard what Gabriel said! He thought that Dean didn't want him! No!

“Jude,” Dean began, shaking his head, “Buddy, I -”

Before Dean could even defend himself, his ten-year-old son turned away and disappeared down the hall again. Anxiousness and heartbreak coursed through Dean's chest, making him feel like total shit. Son of a bitch! Why the hell did Gabriel have to say that?! Dean nearly growled with rage as he spun around and thrust the heavy cake into the archangel's arms.

“Thanks a lot, asshole,” Dean spat.

Gabriel squeaked a tiny apology, but Dean was already dashing out of the kitchen. He had to catch his son and set the record straight. He couldn't stand the thought of Jude wondering if his father really loved him or not, because he did! Dean loved Jude more than anything! More than life itself! Once he rounded the corridor that led to the hallway of bedrooms, Dean looked up just in time to see Jude's door slam shut. Ugh, it felt like Dean couldn't get there fast enough.

“Jude,” Dean called, racing down the hall to knock on his son's door, “Jude, buddy, open the door.”

No sound came from inside and the door stayed shut, separating Dean from his child like a cold barrier. Again, Dean knocked on the door and sighed.

“What uncle Gabe said isn't true,” Dean said, even though his heart ached with guilt at the memories of leaving Cas when he first found out that they were pregnant, “... I do love you, Jude. And I'm proud to be your Dad.”

A tiny moment passed by in which Dean stared at the door and listened to his own heart thump in his ears. Ugh, he hated no being able to see his kid! He wished that he could just wrap his arms around Jude and comfort him like a dad should! Dean blinked hard at the door until he heard the tiny voice from inside finally speak.

“Then why would uncle Gabe say that?” Jude mumbled.

Dean exhaled the breath he was holding and hung his head. At least Jude was talking to him again...

“Because...” Dean gulped, knowing he had to tell the truth, “Because I was scared... When Papa became pregnant with you, Jude, I got scared... It wasn't because I didn't want you, son. It was because I was afraid.”

Dean knew that what he said made him sound weak. And hell, Dean was weak. He was the weakest person he knew. But Jude had always looked at him like Batman; like a flawless superhero that didn't have weaknesses. And Dean was worried that this conversation was going to change the way his son looked at him... But while he waited to hear a response, the bedroom door opened and Jude's tiny head of spiky brown hair and ocean eyes peered out to meet him. Dean's son stared up at him with a curious expression, looking so much like Cas that it gave Dean chills.

“Why?” the little boy asked, sounding genuinely interested in knowing.

Dean took another large breath and gently pushed his son's bedroom door open even further.

“We better sit down for this one, little man,” Dean nodded, “It's a long story.”

Chapter Text

Jude wasn't sure why Daddy had that look on his face when he came into the room and left the door cracked behind him. His eyebrows were together, he was chewing on his lip, and his eyes were stuck on the floor. Dad didn't look at Jude at all, even when he shuffled through the stray toys and books laying around. Jude quickly scurried over to his bed and sat near his own pillows to get ready for Dad's story. He was really anxious to know why Daddy was afraid when Papa was pregnant with him. Dad eventually took a deep breath and sat down on the end of the bed, looking tired and uncomfortable. But his green eyes finally looked at Jude and he started talking.

“This, uh...” Dad mumbled with a cough, “This is going to be hard to explain, but I'll try my best, okay?”

Jude nodded and reached over to fiddle with Bumble Bee's wings. He totally understood what Daddy meant. Sometimes it's hard to change feelings into words. But Jude knew that Dad was a great talker. If anyone could make words out of feelings, it was him.

“Jude,” Daddy started, his voice nervous, “When... When Papa told me that you were going to be born, I wasn't ready. I didn't have a place for you to live, I didn't have very much money to buy you things, and I didn't know how to be a dad.”

Jude found that part a little funny. Dad didn't know how to be a dad? That was silly! He was a great dad. He must have learned really fast...

“Trust me, buddy, I really did want to have you,” Daddy said with a nod, “but I was afraid because I was so unprepared... and I really didn't want you to get involved in what your uncle Sam and I do... You know what we do, right?”

Jude swallowed a large gulp and shrugged a little bit. He sort of knew what Daddy and uncle Sam did. They carried weapons around and beat up bad guys, just like Batman and Thor. But sometimes they wore really nice suits like business people wore on TV. Jude thought that those were their 'alter ego' costumes; the ones they had to wear so that no one knew they were superheroes. Did superheroes have job titles?

“Um... You're superheroes?” Jude eventually guessed.

A tiny smile lifted on Dad's mouth but he quickly shook it away.

“No,” Dad denied, sounding sad, “We're hunters, son.”

Before Jude could ask what a 'hunter' was, the bedroom door squeaked open. Jude and his dad both turned to look at the other side of the room where they saw Jessie's head peek in. She pushed some of her long yellow curls out of her face so that she could see them. Jude noticed that her pretty eyes were on him the longest. He figured she was probably upset that they weren't watching Willy Wonka right now.

“What happened, Jude?” Jessie asked with a worried face.

“Hey, shortcake,” Dad said, giving her a smile, “You know what? You should probably hear this too. Come in and climb up here.”

Jessie looked confused, but she did what Daddy said. She came into the room and Jude scooted over on his bed to give her a place to sit. Jessie narrowed her eyes and tilted her head at Jude while she walked, trying to ask him what was going on without actually speaking. But Jude only shrugged in reply. He wasn't sure what Daddy was going to say to them. Once Jessie and Jude were sitting together, Dad sighed again and lifted his head.

“Jude. Jess,” he said, green eyes darting between them, “Your parents don't have normal jobs like Ms. Jane and Mr. Eddie do. We're hunters. Monster hunters. We hunt ghouls, ghosts, vampires, werewolves – all kinds of bad things. And we either help them become good... or we get rid of them.”

Jude gulped again. Get rid of them? Uh-oh. What did that mean? The little boy suddenly remembered what happened to him and Daddy a long time ago in a gas station. Those two bad guys attacked and Dad had to shoot and stab them both. That was one of the scariest times in Jude's whole life. Did Dad and uncle Sam really do that stuff for a job?

“Really?” Jessie asked in a whisper.

Daddy nodded slowly, still making that uncomfortable face.

“Why?” Jude blurted.

He didn't understand why Daddy would want to have a job that was so scary. Dad seemed upset by Jude's question. He shifted on the bed again and shook his head.

“Trust me, son, I didn't choose it,” he mumbled, “When I was little, I wanted to be a fireman... but my dad had other plans -”

Your dad?” Jude interrupted, feeling the hairs on his arms stand up, “You have a dad too, Daddy?”

No way! Daddy had a dad too! What was he like? Was he brave and strong like Dad? Was he sweet and cuddly like Papa? Was he smart and tall like uncle Sam? Was he funny and short like uncle Gabe? Or was he old and gentle like uncle Bobby? Questions filled up Jude's whole mind and he could feel his heart thumping with excitement. He really wanted to meet Daddy's dad! Why didn't anybody ever mention him before?

But just when Jude's excitement went up, the sad look on Daddy's face made it drop back down. Dad shook his head again and made a face.

“I did. He was my dad and Sam's dad, Jess,” Daddy said, patting Jessie's knee, “But he... he died. A very long time ago.”

Jude felt like his bubble of happiness popped. Dead? Oh man, that was so sad. Jude didn't want to think about how awful it would be to see his Daddy die. He hoped that would never happen to him. He loved his Daddy too much... Still, even though he heard that Dad's dad was dead, Jude was still curious about him. Was he a good Dad? Jude bet that he was. Because Daddy must have learned his skills from somewhere...

“What happened?” Jessie asked, leaning forward.

“He, um... He got hurt while he was hunting,” Dad said slowly, like he was carefully choosing his words, “A bad guy got a hold of him and he couldn't shake it off.”

“He was a hunter, too?” Jessie asked.

“Yeah. He taught me and your dad everything we know,” Dad nodded.

While Daddy talked, Jude noticed that his eyes were dimmer than before. His voice was high and fake, like he was forcing himself to sound happy. Why did talking about his dad make Daddy upset? It must have been because he was dead...

“He taught you stuff about hunting?” Jessie said, sounding excited, “Like what, uncle Dean?”

At first, Daddy didn't answer Jessie's question. He just stared between her and Jude with squinty eyes and bit his bottom lip. Jude blinked back at him with curiosity. What was he thinking about? After a second, Daddy moved around to stand up from the bed. Jude and Jessie watched him, both confused. Where was he going?

“Stay right there. I'll be right back,” he promised on the way out.

Dad left the room and disappeared down the hall, leaving Jude to sit with his cousin in silence. Huh. What was Daddy doing? Maybe he was going to go and get uncle Sammy or something. In the meantime, Jude turned to look at Jessie while he played with Bumble Bee's tiny wings.

“I can't believe our Daddies had a dad,” he said.

“Actually, that makes him our Grandpa,” Jessie nodded.

Jude wanted to roll his eyes. Jessie was always doing that; correcting people when they talked about stuff. She was too smart for her own good. Still, she was Jude's best friend. And she was probably right. That meant they had two grandpas; their Papas' dad and their Daddies' dad.

“Being a hunter sounds pretty cool, doesn't it?” Jessie almost whispered, “Helping bad monsters change into good monsters... I wonder how they do that.”

Jude only shrugged and played with Bumble Bee in his hands. He had no idea how Dad and uncle Sam changed monsters. And while he agreed with Jessie's excitement, Jude was too distracted by the idea of his 'new' grandpa to think about hunting. Man, Jude really wished that he could have met him. If he was anything like Daddy, Grandpa would have been awesome...

Jude's bedroom door opened again and Daddy walked back in with a thick book in his hand. It had a brown leather cover and looked really full, like lots of pages were added in. Jude sat up straight on his bed and watched Daddy come closer with it. Instead of sitting back down, Dad paused to kneel next to the bed and hold up the book. Jessie scooted close to lean over Jude's shoulder and look at it too. Daddy raised his head to stare at Jude and Jessie.

“My dad's name was John. And this is his journal,” he said, opening the cover to flip through some of the pages, “He gave it to me and uncle Sam before he died. It's full of stuff about hunting. But it was his diary, too. Almost everything I know about him came from this book...”

Dad left the book open on a certain page and held it out like he wanted Jude to take it. Jude glanced up at his dad to make sure that it was okay before he pulled it into his lap. Daddy only gave a dim smile.

“I'll let you look at it for a minute, but then I have to put it away, okay?” Dad bargained.

Jude nodded before frantically searching the page with his eyes. Wow! Grandpa John had really pretty handwriting! There were so many words, doodles, and pieces of newspaper that Jude wasn't sure where to look. Jessie was staring at it just as much as he was. Her eyes were practically glued to the page. Jude was a pretty slow reader – slower than Jessie, anyway – so he picked the smallest entry to read.

Nov. 28th, '86

Dean wants to start school. Not sure what I'm going to do with Sam if he does. Might keep him out another year. Need to call Bobby. Got a lead on YED.

- JW

Dean wants to start school? Daddy must have been really little when Grandpa John wrote that. Jude barely had time to finish running his eyes over the words when Jessie reached over to turn the page. A big piece of old newspaper was taped on this one, which showed a black and white picture of a car accident. The letters “YED” were written underneath and circled a few times. What did that mean?

Jude was about to start reading another handwritten sentence when there was a knock on the bedroom door. Daddy sprang up from the floor and jutted his arm out when it opened, like he was ready to cover up the book in Jude's hand. But it was only uncle Sammy. The tall guy came in and glanced around with a polite smile.

“Hey,” he mumbled, looking at Daddy, “Everything okay?”

“Yep. We're all good,” Daddy nodded.

Uncle Sammy brushed his fingers through his long hair and sighed like he was disappointed. His eyes dropped to Jude and a frown grew on his mouth.

“Jude,” he mumbled, “I'm really sorry about what uncle Gabe said in... Wait... Is that Dad's journal?”

There was a look between Dad and uncle Sam that made Jude feel uncomfortable. Uncle Sam made a shocked and upset face but Dad stayed calm and gentle.

“Yeah. I was trying to clean up the mess that your husband made,” Dad huffed, “and somehow ended up explaining the family business to the kids. They asked about Dad and I thought I'd show them his journal. Just for a second.”

The upset look on uncle Sam's face never went away. He just blinked hard at Dad with his hands on his hips. His eyes darted from Jude and Jessie back to Daddy.

“Can I talk to you outside?” uncle Sam snapped.

He waved for Daddy to follow and started for the door. Jude watched his Dad roll his eyes and shuffle along behind uncle Sam. They went out in the hallway to talk, leaving the journal in Jude's hands. Huh. What were they going to talk about? Why was uncle Sammy so upset? Jude tried his best to listen to their conversation while Jessie turned the pages in his lap.

What the hell, man?! I thought we agreed not to tell the kids about hunting until they were older?” uncle Sam whispered in a fit.

Chill out, Sammy,” Dad whispered back, “It's not like I'm shoving guns into their hands or anything. They wanted to know about Dad and I thought they could learn some family history from -

Jude's bedroom door finally swung shut and muffled the voices in the hall. He couldn't hear what Dad and uncle Sammy were saying anymore, but what he heard made him curious. Why didn't uncle Sam want Jude and Jessie to know about hunting? Was it because it was scary? Maybe the monsters were really hard to catch or something...

“Look at that, Jude,” Jessie said, pointing to a picture on the page, “It says 'Wendigo.' I wonder if Grandpa John tamed that monster.”

Jude stared hard at the drawing of a stick man on the page. The Wendigo looked really creepy. Jude really hoped that Grandpa John didn't get hurt by that thing. The little boy turned a few pages so that he wouldn't have to look at the scary drawing anymore, and found more handwritten sentences. Again, he looked for the shortest one and began to read.

April 11th, '92

Dean's aim with a pistol needs work. Sam can't even hold his steady. How are these boys supposed to protect themselves if they can't shoot? I won't always be there to save them...


Jude looked up from the paper and let the words sink in. Huh. Why did Grandpa John say that he wouldn't always be there to save Dad and uncle Sammy? Daddies were always supposed to be there to save their kids, right? That's what Daddy and Papa always told Jude...

The bedroom door opened again and Jude and Jessie both snapped their heads up in surprise. Dad and uncle Sam came back inside, followed by uncle Gabe, Papa, and Dickie. Everybody shuffled in and filled up Jude's room with chatter. The adults were all still arguing in hushed voices, except for uncle Gabe. He smiled down at Jude and Jessie when he came in.

“Hey guys,” uncle Gabe sang, “Whatcha reading?”

“Grandpa John's journal,” Jessie smiled back, “It has all kinds of neat stuff in it, Papa. Just look at that.”

She pointed to the monster doodle on the page and uncle Gabe gasped dramatically.

“Whoa! That thing is uglier than a shaved donkey,” he muttered.

Jessie and Jude both giggled. A shaved donkey? Uncle Gabe was so funny... Daddy eventually pulled himself away from uncle Sam and walked over with a sigh.

“Sorry, you two, but we've gotta put the journal away for now,” he said, gently tugging it back out of Jude's hands and closing it.

“Can we see it again sometime, uncle Dean?” Jessie asked, flashing her pretty eyelashes.

“Maybe one day,” he answered, giving her a little smile, “but now, it's time for bed. Right, Papa Cas?”

Behind Daddy, Papa nodded and stepped closer to get to Jude's bed. He was still wearing his long trench coat; Jude's favorite. Papa looked around at all the faces in the room with big blue eyes.

“I believe it would be best for everyone to retire to their own rooms and get some rest. Tomorrow's journey will begin very early,” he said.

“Yeah, uncle Casafras is right,” uncle Gabe sighed, “Come on, baby bunny. Let's hop across the hall to your room.”

Another smile grew on Jessie's face. She paused to give Jude a hug and whisper 'night-night' before sliding off the bed. She and uncle Gabe literally hopped out of the room, jumping up and down and giggling together as they disappeared into the hall. Dickie hopped along behind them – looking just like a rabbit – and uncle Sammy smiled and said goodnight before shutting the door.

Thankfully, Daddy and Papa stayed in Jude's room. They both helped him climb into bed and turned on his night light, getting him all cozy for sleep. Once everything was in its right place, Daddy and Papa sat on each side of Jude's bed to smile down at him in the warm glow of his night light. Papa reached out to tuck Bumble Bee under the blanket next to Jude.

“Gabriel told me what happened, son, and I just want you to know that your father and I wanted to have you in our lives very much,” Papa whispered, petting his hair, “I was overjoyed when I learned of your conception and we have both loved you every moment since. Don't ever allow anyone to tell you differently.”

“Okay,” Jude said.

The little boy reached out to hold his Papa's soft hand, noticing how big it was compared to his own. Jude bet that Papa had pretty handwriting like Grandpa John did... When he stared up at both of his dads, Jude felt a little strange. What if the thing Grandpa John wrote was true? What if something bad happened when Daddy and Papa weren't around and they couldn't make it in time to save Jude?

“Dad? Papa?” Jude mumbled, holding Papa's hand tight.

“What is it, little man?” Daddy asked, leaning closer.

Jude gulped and looked between them, feeling so worried.

“Will you always be there to save me?” he squeaked.

Daddy and Papa both looked at each other with curved eyebrows. It seemed like Jude's question made them feel anxious. After a second, Dad leaned far over to press his lips to Jude's forehead. Jude only snuggled deeper into his bed and blinked, enjoying the gentle kiss. Daddy raised up to look at him afterward, wearing a soft and honest smile.

“Yes, Jude,” Dad whispered, “Papa and I will always be there to save you. No matter what.”

Papa leaned down next to kiss him, too. Only he kissed Jude's cheek instead. Jude smiled at the feeling. He loved when his parents gave him affection. Papa raked his fingers through Jude's hair when he raised up to look at him again.

“We love you more than you could ever imagine, son,” he hummed.

Jude took a deep breath, feeling so relieved. He knew that he was right. Daddy and Papa would always be there for him.

“I love you, too,” Jude smiled.

Gabriel figured that it wouldn't take the Winchesters – the guys who grew up on the road – very long to pack their own suitcases for a simple weekend trip. But boy, was he wrong. It took Dean and Sam hours to get their shit together. Granted, they were helping the kids pack their suitcases the whole time, too. But still! Gabriel had his part done in the snap of his fingers! Humans were so slow. It was a miracle that they could get anything done on time...

As soon as most of the cases and duffel bags were packed, Gabriel helped everybody carry them to the garage. He would have flown them there, but Jane showed up to drop Oliver off and Gabe didn't want to use his mojo in front of her. She was already walking in by the time Gabriel dropped the first load of luggage to welcome her in.

“Howdy, Jane,” Gabe smirked as he strolled over to take the colorful backpack out of her hands, “That's gotta be Ollie's bag. Lemme take that for you.”

“Gracias, Gabe,” Jane smiled, looking so gorgeous that Gabe could have momentarily mistaken her for Eva Mendes, “Are you sure you don't want me to reimburse you for Oliver's ticket?”

“Pffft, no way, chica. He's practically one of our kids. Don't worry about it,” Gabe winked, reaching over to ruffle Oliver's signature orange hair, “Hey, carrot-top. You ready to see some wild animals?”

“I sure am, Mr. Gabe!” Ollie beamed, looking so freakin' cute.

Jane gently tugged her son's shoulder to spin him back toward her for a second. She knelt down to fix his shirt collar like any mother would before taking his little face in her hands.

“You be good for the Winchesters this weekend, Oliver. Call me every morning and night, okay?” she said.

“Okay,” Ollie nodded, “Love you, momma.”

“Te amo, Calabaza,” she replied, pecking his forehead with a kiss, “Have fun.”

As soon as his mother let go, Oliver ran over to meet Jude and Jess at the pile of luggage and chatter like excited school kids before a field trip. Gabe and Jane both sighed and smiled at the kids from a few yards away. The archangel was so glad to see his daughter's beautiful face light up when she talked to her friends. Sammy was half glaring at Oliver in the distance, which only made Gabe grin even more. Poor overprotective moose. When was he going to learn that it was okay for their baby to have a boy for a friend? Jane's cell phone dinged and she looked at it with a scowl before huffing a breath.

“Eddie's so impatient,” she grumbled to herself, her accent so thick that Gabriel barely caught it, “I have to go, Gabriel. Please take lots of pictures for me, okay?”

“Will do, Jane. Have fun with the hubby this weekend,” Gabe smirked, giving her a secret wink.

Jane only rolled her brown eyes and shook her head with a smile, finding humor in Gabe's sarcastic comment.

“I'll try,” she obviously lied, waving as she backed toward the garage door, “Be safe!”

After he waved Jane goodbye, Gabriel turned around to start helping everyone load the vehicle. Luckily, he and Sam were able to talk Dean out of using the Impala for this trip by renting a nice-looking SUV instead. It had three rows of seats, plenty of room in the trunk for all their stuff, and just enough space for all seven people – eight, including Dickie – to fit comfortably. Sammy picked out the jet black color, thinking that it might 'trick' Dean into wanting to trade it for the Impala. But, of course, the ol' freckle face wasn't too happy about the exchange of vehicles. He stood between them and glanced back and forth with narrowed eyes like a fashion designer caught between one of his originals and a cheap knock-off.

“I still say we could all fit if we tried,” the oldest Winchester muttered to no one in particular.

“Give it up, Dean,” Sam replied as he walked by to stuff the luggage into the trunk of the SUV, “We've already rented this one.”

Dean eventually threw his hands in the air and pouted as he dug the SUV keys out of Sam's bag and marched to the driver's side. In the meantime, Gabriel caught a piece of the kids' conversation and stopped to look toward them. Jessie and Jude were telling their friend all about their Grandpa John and about what their dads did for a living. Gabe gulped when he heard the word 'hunters' being thrown around. Oh boy. Sammy was going to be really upset if he heard that Oliver was learning all these 'family secrets'...

“Hey, kiddos. What's the word?” Gabe said, quickly intervening.

“We were telling Ollie about how cool Grandpa John's journal is,” Jessica answered, her eyes so bright and full of admiration.

“Really?” Gabe hummed enthusiastically, even though he knew that he needed to put a stop to their discussion.

“Uh-huh. Did you know Grandpa John, Papa?” Jess asked.

“Um, no. I never met him,” Gabe answered truthfully, “Hey, you know what? I think we should probably get in our seats. This train will be rolling out of the station pretty soon.”

Jude and Jessica happily skipped over to climb into the SUV, but Oliver lingered back with bewilderment.

“Train? I thought we were taking that car,” he muttered, scrunching his freckled nose.

Gabriel sighed as he put both hands on Oliver's tiny shoulders and guided him toward the car.

“Oh, Ollie-pop,” the archangel mumbled, “You are so lucky that my daughter is a loving genius.”

Of course, Oliver didn't understand why Gabriel said that. He just shrugged it off and climbed up into the vehicle. Once the kids were inside and talking about the zoo, Gabe sneaked to the back of the car to help Sammy with the suitcases. There was already a weary look on the moose's pretty face. What was wrong? How could he be upset when they were on the eve of an exciting weekend?

“You are one strong moose, kiddo,” Gabe mentioned as he watched Sam toss two huge bags into the car in one swing, “but I bet you can't pick me up like that...”

Gabe deliberately purred the last sentence, trying to flirt with Sam and make him smile. But the kid just turned around to look at the archangel with a serious stare.

“The only thing Jess has talked about all morning is hunting,” he said quietly, glancing away to make sure that no one could hear him, “Why did Dean tell her about it? She's only ten!”

“Whoa, relax, honey-bunch,” Gabe soothed, reaching out to take hold of Sam's sides and tug him close, “She's just excited to learn about her Daddy's line of work, that's all. We've kept her in the dark about it her whole life. I mean, it was going to come out sometime.”

“Yeah, but not now,” Sam denied, trying hard to keep his hysteric voice down, “She's still a kid, Gabe! She needs to be a kid! She doesn't need to worry about hunting at age ten! I was neck-deep in this stuff at that age and I will not let it happen to her!”

Shhh,” Gabe interrupted, reaching up to cover Sam's ranting lips with a finger, “Sammy-boy. Everything is okay. Our baby is fine. She's just asking questions like she always does. She's not a hunter yet. She's just a curious kid. I'm sure you were a curious little moose when you were her age, right?”

Sam took a quick and shallow breath but eventually met eyes with Gabe. Once their sights were locked, the archangel pulled his frantic moose down with a soft smooch to calm him. And, secretly, he started the kiss because Sam was just so damn attractive when he was passionate about something and Gabe couldn't resist.

“You're so cute when you're worried,” the archangel mumbled into Sam's wet mouth, “I knew I married you for a reason...”

Sam exhaled but smiled a little bit. It seemed that Gabe's flirtatious persuasion had worked like a charm yet again. Unfortunately, the giant moose and the archangel were interrupted by Castiel, who popped around the back of the SUV to tap on Sam's shoulder.

“Dean sent me to tell you to stop making out and get in the car,” the blue-eye angel said, looking uncomfortable.

“Seriously?” Sam mumbled, sounding annoyed.

“Well, in a manner of speaking,” Cassie revised, “Dean used more colorful language, but I edited it for the children's sake.”

Gabriel rolled his eyes. Ugh. Freckles could be such a princess sometimes...

“We're coming,” Sam assured, reaching up to shut the trunk.

“I wish we were,” Gabe whispered for Sam's ears only.

Sammy grinned down at Gabe, having heard his dirty comment. The two of them playfully shoved on each other as they made their way around the SUV to climb inside. Sam took the seat in the middle row next to Jessie, which meant Gabe had to take the one in the very back with the two boys. But he didn't mind. From that seat, Gabe could play with Sam's hair all he wanted. Dickie was safe in Jess's lap by the time the last door shut and the engine started up. Dean paused to turn around and smile from the driver's seat.

“Kansas City Zoo, here we come,” he winked.

All the kids let out choruses of joy and eagerness, including Gabe himself. He was just as excited about going to the zoo as the kids were. He couldn't wait to watch them 'oooh' and 'ahhh' over the animals and have some genuine fun. Especially for Jessica's birthday. The archangel leaned forward to kiss the top of his daughter's golden head.

“This trip is all for you, baby rabbit,” he reminded sweetly.

“I know,” Jessie replied with a smile.

For the next hour or so, the adults in the car tried to pass the time away by playing various road trip games with the kids. The sounds of all their giggles made Gabriel's heart soar. Ah, he loved hearing a child laugh; especially his own child. The smile never left Jessica's face from the moment she woke up that morning and Gabe was so glad. He really hoped that Sam could see how happy their child was, no matter how worried he might be about the hunting thing.

Soon enough, the car eventually settled down and got quiet during the trip. Jude and Oliver were still awake next to Gabriel but their eyes were kinda vacant, like they were thinking about stuff. And though he couldn't see her face, Gabe was sure that Jessie was doing the same. The archangel could feel that it would only be a matter of time before -

“Daddy, do you hunt monsters everyday?” Jessica asked quietly.

Gabriel cringed in the backseat. Crap. He had a feeling that Jess was going to bring up the hunting thing again, and he also knew that Sam was upset about it. The archangel hoped that Sam wouldn't be too angry to answer their daughter's question. After all, she was just wanting to learn more about her family. Luckily, the peaceful car ride seemed to have relaxed Sam enough for him to answer her without getting hysterical.

“Not everyday, Jess,” Sam replied slowly, reaching over to curl her hair behind her ear, “Sometimes, uncle Dean and I just help people. That's what hunting is really all about.”

“How do you help them?” Jess asked, her big beautiful eyes full of wonder.

“Well,” Sam sighed, pausing to think about it, “... In lots of ways... I mean, just last week, we saved an old lady from a house fire.”

Gabe smiled when he saw the look of sheer admiration on Jessica's face as she blinked up at her dad in wonder.

“You did?!” she gasped.

“Technically, we started that house fire,” Dean mumbled from the driver's seat, “and we didn't know the old lady was still alive -”

“Shut it, Dean,” Sam hissed.

Next to Gabe, Oliver leaned forward to look at Sam over the seat.

“Mr. Winchester, have you ever beat up a bad guy in an alley? Like on TV?” the kid asked.

Sam glanced back at the ginger kid behind him and nodded.

“Actually, yeah. I have. I've beaten up lots of guys. Especially ones that try to hurt my little girl,” he answered with a warning look.

Gabriel rolled his eyes. Ugh! Why did Sam feel the need to threaten poor Ollie Thompson? The kid was harmless! Luckily, it seemed like Oliver didn't realize that Sam's words were aimed at him. He just mumbled 'cool' and sat back with a dopey grin. On the other side of Oliver, Jude leaned forward to look up at Sam too.

“Did Grandpa John teach you how?” the kid asked.

“Uh... He taught me some stuff,” Sam replied carefully, clearly uncomfortable about the mention of John, “But your dad taught me almost everything I know, Jude. We learned a lot of stuff together.”

“Darn right,” Dean said from the front of the car with the steering wheel between his hands, “I'm telling you, kids, as long as you use the buddy system like Sam and I did, you're pretty much golden.”

Jessie raised up in her seat so that she could look back and smile at Jude and Oliver. She held her hand over the seat and the three kids all bumped their fists together and giggled. Gabriel loved that they were all so close. It was like the Winchesters were raising the next generation of badass warriors...

While he listened to the kids' laughter, something sharp cut across Gabriel's conscious.

The archangel grabbed both sides of his head and held it tight, feeling like something was going on with the angel radio in his mind. His entire brain felt like it was suddenly full of noise, and it hurt like hell. Ow! What the hell was that? What was going on? Through the blur of harsh white noise, Gabe carefully raised his head to focus his vision toward the front passenger seat, wanting to see if Castiel was affected by the sound. And likewise, the seraph was clutching his head in his hands. Whatever this angel thing was, Gabriel wasn't alone in feeling it. In fact, Jude and Jessica could feel it, too...

“Papa, what is that?!” Gabriel could barely pick out Jessica's voice from the rest.

Gabe wanted to comfort his child, but he didn't know what was going on. Ugh, he could barely think, let alone talk. The archangel closed his eyes and buried his head toward his lap, trying with all his might to block the sounds out of his head so that he could focus on Jessica. He could feel a large warm hand – probably Sam's – clutching his shoulder, but he couldn't hear anything. Even after the noise started to fade away, Gabe was left slightly delirious. Holy shit, it felt like all the angels in heaven were shouting at once or something...

Once the pain finally started to go away, Gabriel raised his head again to search for his daughter with blurry eyes. She had buried herself into Sam's side, still covering her ears with her hands. Sam was holding her with one hand, but his other was still clutching Gabe's shoulder. Sam's pretty face gradually came into focus and Gabriel took a deep breath. Whoa. That was the single loudest noise Gabriel had ever heard on the angel radio...

“Gabe, are you okay?” Sam asked, sounding borderline frantic again.

Gabe forced a nod. His head was killing him and his ears were ringing, but he was fine. Dean had apparently pulled over on the side of the road because he and Cas were out of their seats and hunched in the back with everyone else. Cas patted Jessica's arm while Dean reached out to Jude, who was curled up in a shivering ball next to Oliver.

“Jude?” Dean said, “Hey, buddy, look at me. It's okay. I'm right here.”

Jude eventually lowered his trembling arms to see his dad and his blue eyes were glistening with tears.

“Wh – what was that?” he squeaked.

Dean obviously didn't have an answer because he turned to look at Cas, who shook his head and looked to Gabriel. Every eye in the car slowly gravitated to the archangel, who was still holding his own head. Gabe could understand why everyone was looking at him. He was the oldest angel in the area. But he wasn't sure what just happened. Although, he did have a theory...

“Something is going on with the angel radio,” Gabe eventually mumbled, “... and whatever it is... it's not good.”

All the adults glanced at each other and shared the same unspoken question. If something weird was going on with heaven, was it still safe to take the kids to the zoo?

“Should we turn around?” Sam eventually asked.

No!” Jessie gasped, reaching up to latch both of her arms around Sam's neck, “No, Dad! We can't go home yet! This trip is my birthday present!”

The utter devastation in Jessica's voice was enough to break every heart in the car. The poor girl really wanted to go to the zoo. And she had every right to. They had planned for months to take her. And Gabe wasn't about to let some bummed out radio frequency ruin it now...

“I say we keep going,” Gabriel suggested, gaining glances from all over the car, “It's just heaven's radio. It's not really a big deal for us.”

“Are you sure?” Dean asked.

“Gabriel does have a point,” Castiel nodded, backing him up, “Radio interference from heaven is a common event, Dean. For the most part, we have learned to tune it out, but it can still make itself known to us. Just as it did this time... We can't control the volume, but we can control the station.”

“So, the angels were shouting in your head just now?” Sam asked, glancing back at Gabe.

“I don't know what that sound was, moose,” Gabe admitted, still trying to shake off his headache, “but it's gone now. We're all okay.”

Dean and Sam looked at each other and Gabe could tell that they were secretly weighing the options in their heads. Gabe really hope that they would stick with the zoo trip. The kids really needed this happy distraction in their lives... Dean finally sighed and looked back at Jude.

“You still want to go to the zoo, little man?” he asked.

Although he looked a little shaken up, Jude nodded feverishly. The kid definitely wanted to go on this trip no matter what. Dean nodded and patted his son's knee again before getting up.

“Alright. Zoo it is,” he said, tugging Cas by the coat, “Let's get back on the road.”

When everything started to settle back down in the car, Jessica's head popped up from Sam's chest and she bashfully glanced over the seat at Oliver. Gabe could tell by the size of her eyes that the radio thing had freaked her out.

“Ollie,” she mumbled, her voice faint, “Can you trade seats with me?”

“S – sure, Jessie,” little Ollie said, seeming a little confused as he unbuckled his seat belt.

While the two kids changed places, Sam and Gabe gave each other questioning looks. They weren't sure why Jessica wanted to trade seats with Oliver – until she sat down in the backseat and circled both of her arms around Gabe. She snuggled up close to her Papa like she did when she was a baby, seeking shelter in his arms. Gabriel immediately wrapped her into a loving embrace and kissed the top of her golden head, wanting to comfort her as much as possible.

“It'll be alright, Jessie-rabbit,” Gabe promised, “Papa's got ya.”

Though she didn't look up, Gabe could tell that his ten-year-old daughter was relaxing. The archangel shared a soft smile with his handsome husband over the seat as the car's engine started up again.

Chapter Text

The road trip to Kansas City took all day. Not because it was very far away – Hell, they could have made it there in four hours flat. No, the journey took so long because the Winchesters stopped several times to get out, stretch, eat, play, and generally enjoy the summertime scenery. Sam knew the main reason behind why they stopped so much was because Dean was worried about the angels. That whole 'radio' thing had put all the adults on edge. In fact, during the very first pit stop they made, Dean and Sam both dug some angel blades out of their duffel bags to keep themselves armed just in case there was an attack. There was no telling what sort of dangerous antics heaven was up to this time, and the Winchesters were determined to keep their family safe. Especially while on vacation...

Sam tried his best to help the children forget about the angel stuff and focus on happier things. He carefully shifted the conversation away from hunting and John and brought up more academic topics. Oliver mentioned that he was currently studying the presidents at school and Sam went over the list with the kids; with Gabe promising candy to whoever guessed the most past presidents in order. And, of course, Jessica won by a landslide. But she didn't want the candy. She settled for a fresh peach instead, which Gabriel promptly tossed to her over the seat. Sam was so proud of his beautiful daughter. Jessica was the most intelligent kid he ever knew, which was made even more amazing by the fact that she never went to school a day in her life.

By the time they had diner and finally got to the hotel, it was almost nine o'clock at night. Thankfully, Sam had already requested a late check-in time so they had no problem getting up to their rooms. And it was a good thing too, because Jess was already yawning and rubbing her eyes. Dean, Cas, Jude, and Oliver were staying in one room while Sam, Gabe, Jess, and Dickie were next door in another. But everyone helped each other settle in for the night by distributing the bags and picking places to sleep. Though he never mentioned it, Sam felt pretty excited to be on this trip. He had never been to a zoo either and was just as anxious to see the animals as the kids were. How was he possibly going to sleep tonight?

“Hey, moose-cakes,” Gabriel hummed, shuffling across the hotel room to tap on Sam's shoulder, “Did you see those brochures for the zoo at the front desk when we came in?”

“Uh, I think so,” Sam replied, sitting his bag down to turn and look at his archangel, “Why?”

Gabriel took a bite out of his candy bar – where did he get that thing? – and shrugged his tiny shoulders with a batty look, doing a perfect impression of a daydreaming teenager. His golden eyes glanced toward their daughter a few feet away an he eased closer to talk lower.

“I figured we could go downstairs and snag a couple of them. I wanna make Jess a birthday collage of this trip. Something she can look at when she's older, you know? And we can totally steal some pictures from the brochures,” Gabe explained.

Sam searched Gabe's familiar face and smiled. Aw, Gabe was such a good dad; always thinking of Jess even when it came to the little things...

“Sure,” Sam agreed, “Do you want me to go with you or -?”

“Well, duh. I'm not leaving my hubby behind,” Gabe winked, finishing off his candy with a huge chomp, “What are we gonna do with the rabbit?”

The archangel nodded toward their daughter, who was looking through her rainbow backpack for a pair of Pjs, and Sam pondered for a second. Hmm. They could always leave her with Dean and Cas for a few minutes. But she seemed so tired; blinking slowly down at her things and moving like a zombie. Poor Jessie was wiped out. It would only be a matter of time before she fell asleep. Sam knew that she might end up passing out in Dean and Cas's room, but he guessed he could always carry her back to this one if she did...

“Jessie,” Sam called.

Jess slowly turned her blonde head around to meet her dad's stare.

“Your Papa and I are gonna run downstairs. We forgot something in the SUV,” Sam swiftly lied, “Do you want to stay with the other guys until we get back?”

Jessica dropped her backpack and nodded with another yawn. Gabriel stepped over to wrap an arm around her tiny shoulders and walk with her – and Sam noticed that Jessica was almost as tall as Gabe was. Whoa. When did their baby get so darn tall? Sam followed them both out the door and whistled for Dickie, who came running up with his moose in his mouth. Sam shook his head as he watched the stuffed animal bounce around in the dog's grip.

Next door, Dean and Cas's room was filled with obnoxious noise. The place was an absolute mad house. Jude and Oliver were jumping from one hotel bed to the other, laughing hysterically and making the mattresses squeak. Near the table, Dean and Cas were arguing with each other about the hand held video camera that Dean bought the day before. Over the sound of the boys' laughter, Sam was able to pick out some of Dean and Cas's argument.

“I've already put the battery in, Cas. That's not the problem,” Dean grumbled.

“Dean, you've placed it in upside down,” Cas said, pointing to the camera, “The device will not function if the battery is not properly -”

“It's not the battery! Ugh, baby, would you please let me do this? I know what I'm doing.”

“Dean, I'm only trying to help you get -”

The guys were literally trying to pull the video camera out of each others' hands and Sam felt the urge to intervene – but Jessica got to it first. Sam's ten-year-old daughter simply waltzed up to her uncles, yanked the camera out of both of their hands, removed the battery, flipped it around, clicked it back into place, and the logo flashed on the screen. Once the video camera was on, Jessie plopped the small machine back into Dean's hands and yawned before walking away. Dean and Cas both stared at Jessica with mouths agape as she wandered toward the boys, seeming impressed and stunned. Cas turned back to give Dean a tiny smile afterward, clearly pleased that he was right. Dean only huffed a breath and rolled his eyes.

“Shut up,” he mumbled.

Sam smiled at his daughter with beaming pride. She was smart and sassy even when she was tired, and could fix a problem without ever saying a word. Man, she really was Gabriel's daughter...

“Hey! Monkey-boys!” Gabriel shouted, halting Jude and Oliver on the beds, “What does this look like? A bouncy castle? Get your wiggly butts down before I fly you home.”

Jude and Oliver both looked at each other with raised eyebrows before carefully climbing off the beds.

“Sorry, uncle Gabe,” Jude uttered with a blush.

“We won't do it anymore. We promise,” Oliver swore, his face pale beneath his freckles.

Once the boys were quiet, Sam and Gabe turned their attention to Dean and Cas, who were both studying their new video camera like it was a foreign object.

“Hey, would you guys mind watching Jess for a few minutes? We're gonna run down to the lobby and get something,” Sam asked.

“Sure,” Dean mumbled without looking up.

There was a tug on Sam's sleeve and he looked down to see Oliver blinking up at him. The kid had wandered over to stand close like he wanted to ask a question without Jude or Jess hearing it.

“Mr. Winchester,” Oliver said, making a weird face, “Are there anymore beds?”

Sam glanced over at the two gigantic queen-sized beds behind them before bringing his sight back to the small, curious child. More beds? Why in the world would they need more beds?

“Um, no. I think we've got plenty, Oliver,” Sam answered.

“But where am I gonna sleep?” he asked.

“You will probably share one of these beds with Jude,” Sam replied, gesturing to them.

A strange look came across Oliver's pale face. It was a weird mixture of nervousness and shame. He fiddled with his own fingers and dropped his tiny voice down to a whisper.

“But... My Daddy says I'm not supposed to sleep with boys...” he wheezed.

Sam swallowed a gulp as he stared down at the innocent little boy next to him. Whoa, that one statement seemed to hit him like a ton of bricks. Of course, Sam knew that Eddie Thompson, Oliver's father, was a stone-cold homophobe and complete asshole. But now, Sam was hearing actual proof that Eddie was warning his son against being gay. At ten years old...

The rest of the adults in the room must have heard the tiny remark too, because they were all staring at Oliver with open mouths and shocked expressions. They were all equally offended by Eddie Thompson's terrible parenting strategy. But Oliver's eyes never moved from Sam's. The kid stared up at him with worry, like he thought his dad would be really upset if he and Jude slept in the same bed together. While Sam struggled to find the right words to say, Dean put the video camera on the table and knelt down on one knee.

“Oliver,” he called, “come here.”

Though he seemed a little uneasy, Oliver eventually shuffled over to Dean. By the gentle tone and the soft look on Dean's face, Sam knew he was going into 'dad' mode. Dean was planning to speak to Oliver the way a father was supposed to speak to their son...

“I don't know why your dad told you that, because falling asleep beside someone else isn't a bad thing. Whether they're a boy or a girl,” Dean began, “So as long as you're with us, you can sleep wherever you want.”

Oliver blinked around at all the Winchesters with huge eyes. It seemed like he was having a hard time accepting that he could go against one of his father's rules. And Sam knew from experience how hard that could be, especially at such a young age...

“I... I can sleep next to Jude?” Oliver eventually mumbled.

“Yes you can,” Dean nodded.

Oliver gulped and finally dropped his hands.

“Alright... But don't tell my dad, okay?” he requested.

“It'll be our secret,” Dean winked.

Oliver smiled and Dean and Sam felt relieved. At least the kid still had some reasonable male role models in his life. Sam noticed Gabriel reach into his pocket and pull out a small box.

“Here's some playing cards, carrot-top,” the archangel smiled, holding it out to Oliver, “Why don't you play 'Go Fish' with the other munchkins until bedtime?”

“Okay! Thanks, Mr. Gabe,” Oliver beamed, spinning around to find Jude and Jess, “Hey guys! Let's play!”

While Oliver scampered off to join Jude and Jess on the far bed, all four of the Winchester adults stared after him with woeful expressions. Poor kid. It must have been so conflicting to grow up with a father who disliked gay people while having two best friends with same-sex dads...

“Can we all line up and punch Eddie Thompson in the dick, now?” Gabe huffed under his breath.

“I'll hold him still,” Dean offered, wearing the same look of disapproval.

“No. We mustn't allow this to escalate to violence, Dean,” Cas muttered softly.

“Relax, babe. We're not actually going to hurt him. We're just venting,” Dean sighed, softly patting Cas's shoulder.

“I don't even know why Eddie is afraid that his son might be gay anyway,” Gabe mentioned, “According to Jess, Oliver will be wanting to sleep with her in a few years, so he's got nothing to worry...”

The archangel trailed off when Sam shot him a bold glare. Ugh! Why did Gabe have to remind everyone that Oliver and Jessica might possibly become a thing?! Sam didn't want his baby to be part of a thing! Jessie needed to be her own thing! Gabe's throat quivered with a nervous gulp as he reached up to pet Sam's arm.

“N – nevermind,” he said, giving a high-pitched chuckle, “Why don't you and I go on down to the lobby, moose-cakes?”

Though Sam was tempted to get mad at his archangel, he rolled his eyes and turned on his heel to head back out. On the way, he paused at the circle of children playing cards on the bed to give his daughter a warm hug – to physically remind her that he would always be there to protect her, even from annoying little boys – before shuffling into the hallway. He, Gabe, and Dickie all filed into the elevator in pursuit of the zoo brochures.

Gabe must have known that he messed up by mentioning Oliver 'sleeping' with their daughter, because he was already trying his best to weasel back onto Sam's good side. The archangel snuggled up to the man on the elevator, hugging his arm and twining their fingers together. Sam tried to ignore Gabe's playful touches and annoyingly pleasant scent, but he just couldn't do it. Trying to ignore the trickster was like trying to ignore the smell of coffee in the morning. No matter how hard Sam tried, he just couldn't resist indulging in it...

“Come on, Moosey-woosey. You can't stay mad at me forever,” Gabe hummed over the sound of the elevator as he played with Sam's hand.

Sam exhaled deeply but kept the scowl on his face. He wanted to argue with Gabe, but there was no point. They both knew that the archangel was right. It wouldn't be long before Sam forgave him. But even so, Sam wished that Gabriel would understand why he was upset; why he didn't want Jessica to grow up too fast...

Before Sam could verbally explain his feelings, the elevator doors slid open to reveal the hotel lobby. He and Gabe exited the metal container together and took a left, heading toward the front desk. The brochures weren't hard to find. The animals on the Kansas City Zoo pamphlets practically jumped off the paper. Sam and Gabe grabbed as many as they could find – even some coupon books that Sam thought might come in handy. Afterward, they bid the hostess at the desk goodnight and started back toward the elevators with Dickie by their side.

“This is actually a pretty good idea, Gabe,” Sam mentioned as he shuffled through the papers in his hands, “Jess is going to -”

Sam's sentence stopped short when he felt Gabe jerk on his arm. The archangel had paused in the middle of the lobby to stare at something in the distance with a huge grin. Uh-oh. Sam knew that smirk. That was Gabe's 'trickster' smirk. What was he looking at?

“Sammy,” the archangel whispered, finally turning to meet Sam's eyes, “... They have an indoor pool!”

Sam took a step back to peer around the wall nearest to them and saw a large enclosed space. The walls were made of glass, which gave them a clear view of the pool and hot tub inside. Sam eyed the water from a distance, feeling kind of confused. What was so special about it?

“Um... okay?” Sam mumbled, unsure of why it mattered.

“Look! They have a hot tub, kiddo!” Gabe pointed out, sounding so excited, “And it's totally empty! We've got to get in there!”

“Gabe,” Sam huffed, already shaking his head, “Jessica is still upstairs with the boys... and look, the pool room is closed anyway.”

The man gestured to the sign near the door which displayed the hours of operation, but Gabriel obviously didn't care. The archangel started pulling Sam by the arm toward the door, wearing a child-like smile and eyes the size of golf balls.

“You're a badass hunter and I'm the sexiest archangel in existence. I'm pretty sure rules don't apply to us, Sammy-boy. Especially when we're on vacation,” Gabe winked.

Despite Sam's constant refusal and pleas not to break the rules, Gabriel ended up unlocking the door with some grace and pulling Sam all the way into the enclosed area. The place was totally vacant, apart from them and Dickie. Once they were inside, Dickie shook his head and accidentally sent the stuffed moose flying out of his mouth, making it soar away and land with a tiny 'splash' in the pool. In a worried frenzy, the dog dove in to swim to it and pulled it to safety. In the meantime, Gabriel took a huge dramatic breath and gestured to the inviting space.

“Ah! Get a whiff of that chlorine, kid,” he grinned, looking so happy as he pointed toward the Jacuzzi, “Those jets look powerful.”

“Gabe, we really shouldn't be in here,” Sam reminded, even though the warm bubbling water looked so good.

“When was the last time you had a hot tub all to yourself, Sam? Let me guess... Never?” Gabe chuckled, playfully shoving Sam's shoulder, “Well, now's your chance, moose! Come on. It'll be so relaxing. Just you and me and the water...”

Sam gulped. Ugh, Gabe was so right. The hot tub looked so good... but they weren't supposed to be in here! It was after hours and the walls were made of glass! They were going to get caught and thrown out of the hotel!

“But,” Sam sighed, “What about -?”

Sam's question got lodged in his throat when he looked back to see Gabriel taking off his shirt. The archangel was already stripping down to his underwear in the middle of the bright room, seeming indifferent to the glass walls and surveillance cameras in the corners. The blood drained from Sam's face as he stared at his husband's bare back and tight underwear.

“Gabe! What the hell are you doing?!” Sam hissed in fear, “Someone will see you!”

“Oh!” Gabriel sang, standing up straight and spinning around to give Sam a huge smile, “So that's what's holding you back, huh? You're afraid someone might see us? Well...”

The archangel raised his hand and snapped his fingers together, and many things happened all at once. Huge, thick red curtains appeared out of nowhere and slid along the walls, boxing in the pool area like a giant four-poster. The surveillance cameras from each corner fell off the walls and crashed into mangled heaps on the floor. And the lights on the ceiling dimmed, giving the room a nice sensual atmosphere. Sam clung to the brochures in his hand and blinked around in awe, stunned once again by Gabriel's celestial abilities.

“... I can fix that,” the archangel finished with a wink.

Sam didn't know how to respond. For a second, he just stood there in shock, unable to fully function. Sam had been in a relationship with Gabriel for more than twelve years now and the guy was still able to take his breath away... Gabe seemed to study Sam's expression, jutting one barely-dressed hip out and squinting his golden eyes.

“Hmm. It looks like you still need some incentive,” Gabe murmured, “Here...”

A tiny bottle suddenly appeared in the archangel's hand and he stepped over to pour the pink contents into the hot tub. The drizzly liquid faded into the water and foamy bubbles started to appear on the surface. Sam noticed an attractive smell was wafting from the warm water too. The sweet scent of cotton candy and sugar drowned out the smell of chlorine and it actually made Sam step closer. Ugh, he loved that smell!

The mischievous smirk grew boldly across Gabe's face as he tossed the empty bottle away and slipped into the hot tub. Sam's eyes stayed glued to the archangel's body as it sank into the mounds of pinkish-white bubbles.

“Oh, Saaaammy,” Gabe purred, splashing around a bit, “I'm all alone in this hot tub. Are you really gonna keep me waiting?”

Well, shit. When Gabe put it like that, Sam didn't have much of a choice, did he? Sam was taking his own clothes off before he knew it; yanking his shirt over his own head and slipping his jeans down. He carefully laid the brochures down on top of his discarded clothes before stepping into the hot tub. Ah, the warm water felt so good on his skin. And it smelled fantastic! Where did Gabriel get that bubble stuff?

It wasn't until he sat down on an underwater seat and felt the jets at his back that Sam realized something was off. The more he breathed in the smell of the bubbles, the more his underwear tightened. All of his muscles seemed to be relaxing – except for one. Sam narrowed his eyes at the amber-eyed archangel sitting across from him and took another breath.

“Gabriel,” Sam mumbled, feeling his own heart starting to beat a little faster, “What did you do?”

Sam knew that Gabriel would know exactly what he was talking about. But, as usual, Gabe put on his innocent face and batted his eyelashes.

“Nothing...” he replied, trying his best to sound like a true angel.

Sam shifted around and looked down at himself, seeing the outline of his own body in the shifting water. He raised his head to see Gabriel again afterward, knowing full well that the trickster was lying.

“Then why do I have an erection?” Sam breathed, feeling it press hard against his wet underwear.

“Uh, maybe its because you're in a hot tub with your sexy beast of a husband?” Gabe purred, wading closer in the water.

Sam was almost panting by the time Gabriel made it close enough to touch him. The archangel's hands slid up Sam's bare chest and the man thought he was going to lose it. Ugh! That felt so good! But where did all this random horniness come from? Sam knew it had something to do with the bubbles, because he could feel it swirling in his lungs with every breath he took.

“G – Gabe,” Sam panted, “Tell me.”

The archangel sighed in defeat as he held Sam's face in his wet hands.

“Okay, fine,” he huffed with a pause, “I... I spiked the bubbles with a celestial aphrodisiac. For old time's sake,” Gabe admitted in a whisper, rubbing Sam's bottom lip with his thumb, “Do you want me to get rid of it?”

No!” Sam groaned, clutching Gabe's hips under the water, “N – no, Gabe... Just – Just make love to me.

Sam felt terribly desperate all of the sudden. On some level, he knew that whatever Gabe put in the water was effecting him. But deep down, he wanted to have sex with Gabriel anyway. Even without the sweet-smelling aphrodisiac. The smile grew back across Gabe' pump lips before they collided with Sam's. Tingles exploded across Sam's body when he tasted Gabriel's tongue on his own. He could feel his dick pressing even harder against his constricting underwear, wanting to burst free and search for Gabe's hole...

“Ah, Sam,” Gabe pulled back to whine, “You're an eager lil' moose, aren't you?”

Sam muted Gabe's yammering mouth with his own lips, wanting the guy to focus on actions rather than words. Their hands were pulling at each others' briefs under the water, tugging them off and letting their bare pelvises meet. A loud groan escaped from the depths of Sam's throat and echoed around the large room when he felt Gabe's thick thighs straddle his waist. Gabe was doing that thing he always did; teasing Sam by rocking his ass up and down the length of Sam's cock instead of letting it in. Dammit! Sam wasn't in any state for that shit!

“Gabriel, please,” Sam panted into his husband's mouth.

Gabe must have enjoyed teasing Sam, because he didn't stop right away. He giggled and rocked his ass once more, acting like a true trickster. But he eventually gave in and reached down to guide Sam inside him. The sensation of piercing Gabe's tight hole electrified Sam's entire body. Jolts of pleasure radiated from his erection and he let out another moan, pitching higher and sounding desperate, even to his own ears.

Ah! Shit, Gabe!” Sam cried out, clamping both hands tight to the guy's soft hips.

Through the haze of his celestially-induced arousal, Sam could see Gabriel grimacing as he sat down on Sam's cock for the first time. They hadn't had sex in a few weeks and Gabriel must have forgotten to brace himself for Sam's massive size.

“Geez, Sam,” the archangel huffed, his wet lips brushing against Sam's, “I am convinced that you secretly rub Miracle-Gro on your dick when no one is looking...”

Sam wanted to laugh at Gabe's terrible joke, but his body was so full of an urgent need to orgasm that he didn't even smile. The man just whimpered and rocked his own hips a little bit, wanting so badly to start thrusting. Gabe must have felt how eager Sam was because he started bouncing in the water, making the bubbles splash around them when he moved. With the dizzying combination of Gabriel's tight hole sliding up and down his throbbing cock, the massaging jets of water pulsating at his back, and the overwhelming scent of cotton candy, Sam was slowly losing control over his own body. He was thrusting involuntarily, holding so tight to Gabe's hips that his hands turned numb. He was shouting without knowing it, hearing his own voice echo violently off the walls. And he was staring hard into Gabriel's gorgeous golden eyes, studying them so acutely that he was sure they were going to be the last thing he ever saw...

“G – Gabe! Ah!” Sam moaned, feeling himself inching closer and closer to the edge, “I love you so – so much, I – ! Gabe, I love – ! Ah!

Sam didn't know whether he was making sense or not. But thankfully, Gabriel seemed to understand his jumbled words. The archangel joined their mouths to circle Sam's tongue with his own before resting their foreheads together and bouncing with all he had. His clinching hole bared down tight on Sam's cock, practically choking it with every thrust.

“I love you too, kid,” Gabe panted, his voice sounding so good, “Lemme have it, big boy. Ah! Come for me, Sam!”

Sam instantly complied with Gabriel's demand. His dick was spurting before he could take another breath. The man's body ceased up as he came and his hips weren't sure whether to thrust or hold still. Sam was momentarily drowning in a sea of pleasure, being buried by wave after wave of sensation. The feeling of Gabriel's body clamping down on his cock, the sweet scent occupying his nostrils, the sound of Gabriel slurring his name, the taste of the archangel's mouth on his tongue, the sight of Gabe's wet blonde hair strung across his beautiful face – Those were the only things Sam was aware of. Time, money, work – none of it mattered. The only thing Sam needed in his life at that moment was the love of his archangel...

Sam kept thrusting until his dick ran completely dry, whimpering and whining the whole time. Once his tank was empty, the man slumped against the Jacuzzi wall and blinked, feeling so utterly relaxed that he would have fallen asleep if he closed his eyes. Luckily, Gabriel was there to keep him awake and occupied. Sam could feel the archangel gently rolling his hips and jerking himself under the water. Gabe's free hand was tangled in Sam's wet hair, clutching a handful of it while his face tightened with pleasure. Sam stared up at his naked husband, watching the guy rise to orgasm on top of him.

“S – sugar-honey-iced-tea!” Gabe moaned, his voice cracking at a higher octave, “Ah! Sam! I'm – !”

A sensual moan floated out of the archangel's mouth and reverberated around the room like a Sunday hymnal. Sam slowly slid in and out of Gabriel the whole time, wanting to provide him with as much pleasure as possible. Gabe's amber eyes rolled back a little and he eventually fell forward to splash against Sam. The man welcomed his husband's weak body, cradling it close to peck a few wet kisses to the top of his bare shoulder.

For a minute or so, Sam and Gabriel just sat there in the hot bubbly water and cuddled each other close. The strong scent of cotton candy was swirling in Sam's lungs, still trying to arouse him, but he kept his focus on Gabriel's body. The man reached down inside the water to grab the archangel's hands and raise them up. Their golden wedding rings glistened in the dim light and Sam smiled fondly at them. Even after five years of wear, his ring still shined as bright as the day Gabe first slipped it on his finger.

“Sam,” Gabe mumbled, raising his head to join Sam in looking at their tangled fingers, “I've gotta know... What do the bubbles smell like?”

“Uhh,” Sam uttered, unsure of what Gabriel was getting at, “They smell like cotton candy, just like you. Why? Can't you smell them?”

Gabe instantly shot Sam a pair of huge eyes, looking so awed and impressed that Sam thought he might actually cry. But Sam was confused. Why did his answer cause Gabe to have that reaction?

“What?” Sam blurted.

“The aphrodisiac... It's different for every person,” Gabe said, reaching over to play with some of the bubbles, “It uses your favorite smell to turn you on...”

A huge grin flashed on Sam's lips as he stared up at his archangel. Oh! That made perfect sense! No wonder Sam practically jumped into the hot tub. That smell – his favorite smell – it was Gabriel. That sweet scent of sugar and candy practically oozed from his pores, and it got Sam going all the time. Gabe didn't need to use an aphrodisiac to get Sam to have sex with him. Gabriel was Sam's aphrodisiac...

While the two of them smiled warmly at each other, a tiny 'splat' echoed near them. Sam and Gabriel both turned their heads toward the sound to see that Dickie had dropped his wet moose on the floor. The plush toy was soaked and so was the poor dog that it belonged to. Dickie's fur was dripping cold water from the pool, but the little guy was staring at his owners with a panting grin. Uh-oh. He was about to shake off all that cold water, wasn't he?

“Dickie! Don't you dare!” Gabe warned.

But, like his owner, Dickie didn't give a shit about rules. The dog braced all four of his paws and shook himself dry, splashing ice cold water right toward Sam and Gabriel's heads and bare shoulders. The two of them tried to shield themselves, but it was no use. They just laughed and clung to each other until Dickie was dry. The dog barked happily afterward, like he thought it was a fun game.

“Yeah, you got us, you furry little asshole,” Gabe grumbled with a smirk, splashing some of the hot tub water back at him.

Sam smiled at their adorable dog – and the pile of clothes and brochures beyond Dickie caught his eye. The sight of zoo animals on the front reminded Sam of why they were even in the hotel in the first place.

“We should probably get back upstairs to Jessie,” Sam mentioned, tugging on Gabe's hand.

“Yeah,” Gabe agreed, reaching for his underwear floating nearby, “Let's go put our baby-bunny to bed. I think I hear her calling for us anyway...”

Jude struggled to fan out the playing cards in his small hands. He always wondered how grown-ups were able to hold their cards so that they could see the numbers in the corners. Daddy and Papa were doing it so easy. And even Ollie was holding his right. How did they do that?

“These cards are so cool,” Ollie said, staring at the pictures on them, “Where did Mr. Gabe get these?”

“It's hard to tell,” Dad sighed.

Jude stared down at the cards in his own hand and wondered the same thing. Each card had a different picture from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on it. Jude looked along all the faces and smiled. He couldn't wait to watch the movie with Jessie when they got back home...

The little boy turned around in his seat to see Jessie across the room. She had laid down on the farthest bed and fell asleep a few minutes before. Jude could see the covers on her back slowly going up and down, so he knew she was breathing peacefully. Huh. She must have been really tired after the long trip in the car.

“Do you have any sixes, Papa Cas?” Daddy asked, looking across the table at him.

“No, Dean. Go fishing,” Papa said, pointing to the stack of cards in the middle of the table.

Daddy smiled as he reached out to take a card, like he thought Papa did something funny.

“Your turn, Oliver,” he said, nudging Ollie's shoulder.

“Okay,” Ollie grinned, looking at his cards, “Jude? Do you have any threes?”

Even though Jude was still having a hard time getting his cards to stay in order, he studied all the numbers he had and gave Ollie his only three. Ollie happily took it and laid out another pair in his spot on the table. Man, Ollie was really good at this game. Did his mom and dad teach him how to play or something?

When it was Papa's turn to play, Jude heard a tiny noise in his head.

It was more of a tingle than an actual sound, but he knew exactly what it was. It was Jessie sending him a prayer without talking. He could pick out her prayers better than anyone else's because her's were the loudest and most colorful; different from all the rest. As soon as he felt her call, Jude turned around in his seat to look across the room at Jessica. She was still laying down under the blankets but she was breathing different. Her back was going up and down faster, like she was panting. Uh-oh. Something was wrong...

“I'll be right back,” Jude said to the guys at the table.

The little boy laid his cards down and climbed out of his seat to walk across the hotel room and get to Jessie. He could see her face when he rounded the end of the bed and it made him worried. Her eyes were closed but her nose was all scrunched up and she was moving around a lot. She must have been having a bad dream.

N – no,” she mumbled, kicking and shaking her head, “Ju... Jude... help...

Now, Jude could really feel her dream-prayers. Jessie was scared in her mind and she wanted Jude to help her. Without another thought, Jude reached out to shake Jessie's shoulder. Her eyes eventually opened and she took a big breath, sitting up to look around in fright.

“Jessie,” Jude said, stepping close to hold onto her shoulder, “It's okay. I'm here.”

As soon as Jessie looked up at Jude, her eyes got all watery. She held out both of her arms for a hug and Jude walked into it, wrapping both of his own arms tight around her shoulders. He hated when Jessie got upset. Seeing her cry made him feel so sad – and mad. There weren't a lot of things that made Jude angry, but thinking that someone could ever hurt his sweet Jessie made him madder than ever.

“What happened, Jessie? Did someone hurt you in your dream?” Jude asked, ready to hit anyone if he needed to.

Jessie took a second to breathe and sniffle before she answered. Her hands were clinging to the back of Jude's shirt so tight.

“I... I don't know,” she squeaked, her arms shivering, “I was older... and it was all dark... I couldn't see anything... I asked for Daddy and Papa and you... but nobody could hear me...”

“I heard you,” Jude nodded, patting her shoulder, “Don't worry. I came as soon as you called.”

Jessie whimpered and hugged him even tighter. Jude knew that his cousin's dreams came true sometimes, but he hoped that this one never would. He didn't like it when she was in danger. Jessie was his best friend and he always wanted to be there to protect her. Just like Daddy and Papa said they would always be there for him... After a second, she took a big breath and calmed down enough to step back and wipe her eyes. Jude wanted to make her smile come back, but how?

“Just think, Jessie. We'll be going to the zoo tomorrow,” Jude said, using the lightest voice he could, “That means we're gonna see monkeys and tigers and hippos and elephants! And Ollie will be with us, too!”

A tiny smile appeared on Jessie's mouth and Jude felt so glad. He liked it so much when she was happy. Her smile was so bright that it matched the sun.

“Yeah,” she nodded, making some of her yellow curls fall around her face, “We're gonna have fun there.”

Before Jude or Jessie could say anything else, the hotel room door opened in the distance and Jude saw uncle Sam and uncle Gabe walk inside with Dickie. They stopped to say hi to Daddy and Papa and Jessie used that time to wipe her eyes some more.

“Don't tell them, okay?” she whispered to Jude.

“Okay,” Jude promised.

The two of them gave each other a fist bump – which made Jude realize that Jessie was still wearing the bracelet he gave her for her birthday – before uncle Sam and uncle Gabe made it to them. Both of them had wet hair, which was weird, but Jude didn't say anything. Uncle Gabe stopped next to the bed with a smile.

“Hey there, honeydew,” he hummed to Jessie, “You ready to head on over to our room and get some sleep? We've got a big day full of wild animals tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” Jessie nodded, squinting her eyes up at him, “Why are you and Daddy all wet?”

“Uh,” uncle Gabe gulped, glancing back at uncle Sam in fear, “It rained for a few minutes in the parking lot.”

It seemed like Jessie didn't believe her daddies. She looked between them and reached up to touch some of her Papa's stringy hair. Jude watched her take a big sniff of it too, which made him wonder if they had a weird smell.

“... Why do you smell like Ollie?” she asked.

Uncle Sammy's face suddenly turned really white. His giant eyes darted to uncle Gabe and he gave him the boldest stare ever. Uncle Gabe cringed at uncle Sam's expression before snapping his fingers together, which made his and uncle Sammy's hair both dry up. But the look on uncle Sam's face never went away. He just stared out like a zombie, like Jessie's question scared him.

“Uh, come on, baby bunny,” uncle Gabe said, gently pulling Jessie away by the arm, “We should probably get to our own room before your daddy has a meltdown...”

Chapter Text

Jessica didn't sleep very well the night before zoo day. She and Dickie had a giant hotel bed all to themselves with plenty of fluffy pillows and soft blankets, but Jessie couldn't keep her eyes closed. She was too afraid of having another nightmare to fall back asleep. Her dreams – especially the ones that she knew would come true – always felt so real. Sometimes they were good, like the one where she saw Papa and uncle Dean helping her pick out a long white dress. But sometimes the dreams were really scary, like the one about being all alone in the dark without anyone to hear her prayers. She hated those bad dreams. They always made her worry about the future.

But another reason Jessica couldn't sleep was because she was so excited to go to the zoo. She couldn't wait to see the animals and have fun with Jude and Ollie. Would there be a gift shop? Would everyone get to pick out a treat? Maybe Jessie could find a friend for her bunny back home. Man, she really wished that she had brought her bunny on the trip. He could have helped her feel better about going to sleep...

It was only a matter of time before Papa noticed that Jessica was awake. Papa never slept, so he knew when everyone else was sleeping or not. Kinda like Santa Claus. When Jessie rolled over, she met Papa's gold eyes from across the room. He was tucked beneath Daddy's long arm under the covers and his lips spread into a warm smile when they saw each other.

“You okay, baby girl?” Papa whispered, keeping his voice down.

Since Papa already knew she was awake, Jessica wiggled her arms out from under her blanket and gave a shrug.

“I'm too excited to sleep,” she whispered back.

She didn't mention her bad dream because she didn't want Papa to worry. And instead, her happy answer made his smile grow. Papa carefully slid out from under Daddy's arm and stood up to walk over to Jess's bed. Jessica shimmied over to give him some room and Papa sat on the very edge to reach down and brush some of Jess's hair out of the way to see her better. Dickie uncurled himself from the end of the bed and wandered over to lay closer to them.

“I'm excited too,” Papa hummed, looking so happy, “I really wanna see a platypus.”

Jessica giggled a little. Platypus? That was a funny name! What kind of animal was that? Before Jess could ask, Papa's grin faded into a soft smile and he leaned down closer.

“Do you need some help falling asleep, honeydew?” he asked.

Though she was still kind of worried about nightmares, Jessica nodded her head. Whenever Papa helped her fall asleep, she usually didn't dream anything bad. She knew that he used some kind of magic to do it, but it was good magic. Angel magic. Love magic. When he got Jess's answer, Papa leaned down to peck a kiss to her forehead. Jessica could already feel her eyelids growing heavy with sleep.

“Sweet dreams, baby rabbit,” Papa whispered, “I'll see you in the morning...”

It felt like Jessica had just closed her eyes when the sound of a loud knock woke her up. The night went by so fast that morning had come without her realizing it, and now she was opening her eyes to see the bright sun starting to shine in the window. Dickie was already awake and barking excitedly from the edge of Jess's big bed, sounding like he wanted to know who was at the door.

“Hold on, I'm coming,” Dad called.

Jessica rolled over to see that her parents were both up and dressed. Dad kissed Papa's cheek on the way over to open the hotel door and let in the rest of their family. Uncle Dean, uncle Cassie, Jude, and Ollie came in, noisily talking in excited voices. Glancing between their smiling faces made Jessica remember that today was zoo day! They were getting ready to see the animals! The little girl instantly rubbed her eyes and climbed out of bed, feeling so happy that she thought she might explode with joy.

“Oh, hey! I'm so glad you're finally awake, sunshine,” Papa sang when she rushed over to the group, “I've got another tiny surprise for you.”

“You do?!” Jessie gasped.

“Yep. Well, technically it's for everyone,” Papa corrected.

“A surprise for everyone, huh?” uncle Dean repeated with a yawn, “I hope it's coffee...”

“Nope,” Papa said, shaking his head.

He dashed over to a duffel bag near the bed to dig around inside. Jessie stood with her boys and eagerly waited to see what sort of surprise it was. Would it be a live animal? Another gift? Some kind of treat? With Papa, there was no telling what kind of surprise it would be! Jess's Papa eventually turned around and held up a T-shirt. It was all black with rainbow letters on the front that said 'Jessie's Wild Winchester Family Adventure' and the current year was printed underneath. Jessie blinked up at the awesome shirt in amazement. Whoa! Did Papa make that? It was so cool!

“Gabe, where did – ? How did you – ?” Daddy sputtered, looking confused.

“I got them special made. Look, there's one for all of us,” Papa smiled, tossing the big one to Daddy and digging out another one.

“We're all gonna wear the same shirts?” Jude asked.

“Yep,” Papa answered, tossing one to Jude, “That one's yours, sidekick.”

“That's a good idea, Mr. Gabe,” Ollie said with a nod, “All the kids in my class have to wear the same shirt when we go on field trips, too. It helps us stay together as a group, so no one gets lost.”

“Red's got a good point,” uncle Dean mumbled, “Alright. I'll wear it I guess. Cas? You okay with losing the coat for one day?”

“Um. I suppose so, Dean,” uncle Cassie shrugged.

When Papa was done passing out shirts, he handed a special one to Jessica and nodded toward the bathroom.

“Go get dressed, bunny rabbit. The faster you get done, the faster we can head on over to the zoo,” he winked.

Jessica immediately ripped the fabric out of her Papa's hand and dashed for the bathroom. Once the door was shut, she changed out of her Pjs and into her new shirt. The one Papa gave her was even more special, because her sleeves were purple. She put on a pair of jean shorts and sandals to match. And afterward, she took a second to admire her new clothes in the mirror. The words on her shirt were backwards in the reflection, but the rainbow color of them was still pretty. Man, she had the best Papa in the world! The little girl blew herself a kiss in the mirror before twirling around to dance back out of the bathroom.

In the main part of the hotel room, all the boys had changed into their shirts – and Jessie realized that everyone's sleeves had a different color. Uncle Dean's were green, Uncle Cassie's were dark blue, Jude's were light blue, Ollie's were orange, Daddy's were red, and Papa's were yellow. Together, all of the Winchesters made a perfect rainbow of color! When Jessie rejoined the group, uncle Dean smiled big.

“Okay,” he sang loudly, “Who's ready to go to the zoo?”

Jessica, Jude, and Ollie all shouted 'me' and jumped up and down. Yay! The zoo! Jessie really wanted to go! Even Dickie jumped up and down with excitement. Uncle Dean grinned and pointed toward the door.

“Then let's head out,” he instructed.

It didn't take long for Jessie and her family to load up in the car and buckle in. They all sat down and started singing 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' while uncle Dean drove. Jessie noticed that the trip from the hotel to the zoo didn't take much time. Five minutes later, they were already there. The giant parking lot slowly came into view and Jess nearly leaped out of her seat to search for the main entrance. A giant 'Kansas City Zoo' sign was hanging over the gate and it made Jess's stomach flutter with happiness. They finally made it to the zoo! The animals were just inside!

When uncle Dean parked the car, everybody rushed out of the vehicle in a fit of smiles and giggles, wanting to get inside the park as fast as they could. But, as usual, uncle Dean didn't let anyone go anywhere without talking to them first.

“Whoa whoa, slow down, munchkins,” he said, stopping Jessie, Jude, and Ollie by the car, “Before we go in, what's the golden rule?”

“Do unto to others as you would have done to you,” Ollie said boldly, looking proud of himself.

Jessie and Jude both turned to blink at their friend in wonder. Huh. Jess had never heard that golden rule before. But it sounded nice. Uncle Dean narrowed his eyes and gave Daddy a strange look before shaking his head.

“Uh... That's true, I guess... But that's not the answer I'm looking for,” he corrected.

“It's the buddy system, Dad,” Jude answered.

“That's right,” uncle Dean nodded, “We're gonna use the buddy system. That means no matter what, you always stay with your buddy. That way, if something bad happens, you won't be alone. Okay?”

“But, wait! Who is my buddy?” Ollie gulped, looking around.

“I'll be your buddy, Ollie,” Jessica volunteered.

Not only was Ollie one of Jessica's best – and only – friends, but she knew from her dreams that she and Ollie were going to be together for a very long time. It seemed like they were going to be buddies forever. But when Jess made the suggestion, Daddy coughed loudly and stepped forward to wag his finger in protest.

“Uhh, no. I – I think that all three of you should be buddies,” he corrected, gesturing to Jessica, Ollie, and Jude, “You know, so you'll have better back up.”

Papa and uncle Dean both gave Daddy tired looks, like they couldn't believe that he interrupted to say that. Jessica was kind of confused about why they were looking at each other that way, but she agreed with Dad's suggestion. It probably would be better to have two buddies instead of just one, right?

“Okay,” Jess shrugged, “We can be like The Three Musketeers.”

“Or The Three Amigos,” Ollie smiled back.

“And with our daddies, we're like the Justice League,” Jude smiled, glancing up at his and Jess's parents.

“Exactly, little man,” uncle Dean nodded, “Alright. Let's go.”

Jude, Jessica, and Ollie all joined arms and started to skip toward the zoo entrance like the characters from the Wizard of Oz, with Dickie playing Toto. The adults followed close behind, mumbling to each other about money and stuff. Uncle Dean was still trying to figure out how to use his new video camera, but by the time they got to the ticket counter, he tossed it in the bag that Dad was carrying and grumbled that he was 'done trying to deal with that piece of crap.'

While the adults gave the tickets to the people at the counter, Jessica stood on her tippy-toes to peer beyond the gate, trying to get a glimpse of one of the animals. A few large buildings were just inside and she could hear the call of birds and the sound of splashing water.

“Do you think the unicorn exhibit is open today?” Ollie asked.

Jessie shared a small look with Jude. Did the zoo have unicorns? Jess always thought that unicorns were only make believe. But were they real? Daddy must have heard Ollie's question because he turned to look down at them with a frown.

“Oliver,” he sighed, “There aren't any unicorns.”

“On this side of the park,” Papa quickly added, giving Dad's long arm a stern yank, “The unicorns are on the other side, right Mr. Sam?”

Jessica could tell that Daddy wanted to argue with Papa; that he wanted to tell Ollie that the zoo didn't have any unicorns. But instead, he just gave Papa a weary look and sighed. Daddy may have been upset, but Ollie was really excited.

“Yay!” he grinned, making the freckles stretch across his face, “I hope we get to see one with a big horn!”

After the adults finished talking to the people at the counter, it was finally time to go inside the zoo. It seemed like the smile on Jessica's face grew bigger and bigger as they got closer to the first set of animals. They started with the building full of birdies on the left side. The place was full of all kinds of birds, flying around and tweeting to each other. Jessie loved seeing the birds. She really wished that she could whistle like them.

From the bird building, Papa led the way to the otter exhibit nearby. The otters were so cute! Some of them were even holding hands while they floated around. Jude said that he really liked the otters and uncle Cassie agreed. With a little bit of walking, they all got to see some llamas and swamp monkeys next. The llamas were so fluffy looking and the swamp monkeys were really energetic. They reminded Jessie of how Jude and Ollie were acting the night before in the hotel, jumping around from one place to another.

The more the Winchesters walked around, the more they could see interesting and exotic animals. Daddy seemed to like the red pandas a lot. He said they looked like fluffy red raccoons, which made Jessie laugh. Ollie really liked when they went passed the kangaroos, because two of the babies were boxing with each other near the fence. But uncle Dean's favorite animals were the tigers. There were three of them laying around inside their cage, sunbathing in the bright light and whipping their stripy tails up and down. Uncle Dean hummed a song when they stopped to look at the tigers, but Jessie wasn't sure which song it was. Something about eyes and tigers...

And when they did stop to see the tigers, Papa noticed something strange.

“Uh, Sam? Where is Dickie?” he asked.

The whole family seemed to have heard Papa's question because they all looked down at their feet. Uh-oh. Where was Dickie? He wasn't with them. Where did he go? About the time everyone started looking for him, the other people around the tiger cage started gasping and pointing inside. Jessica followed some of their pointing fingers toward the tigers – where she saw Dickie walking around in the grass.

“Papa! Look!” she gasped.

Papa and Daddy both rushed over to look inside the tiger cage and saw Dickie. The doggie had somehow wandered into the enclosure and was sniffing around one of the tigers, like he was interested in getting to know them. Oh, no! Dickie wasn't supposed to be in there! Tigers were dangerous! They could hurt him!

“That little shit...” Papa cursed under his breath.

“He's not actually gonna try to hump a tiger, is he?!” Dad hissed.

“Have you met our dog, Sam? Of course he's gonna try! He's crazy!” Papa said back.

“Dude,” uncle Dean said, leaning close, “You've gotta get him before someone sees!”

“Chill out, Dean-o. I'm on it,” Papa promised.

Jessica nervously bit her nails as she watched her Papa brace himself for flight. Inside the cage, Dickie was pawing at the tiger's leg and panting happily, like he wanted to play. But the tiger was hissing back at him and bearing all of its razor sharp teeth.

“Hurry, Papa! Get him!” Jessica pleaded.

Luckily, Papa listened. He flew inside and grabbed Dickie in the blink of an eye, popping in and out of the tiger cage so fast that nobody even saw him. Once Dickie was safe with his family again, Jessica took a big breath and relaxed. Geez, Dickie was like a curious cat! Didn't he know that he could have gotten hurt? Papa and Dad were just as upset as Jess was.

“Dammit, Dickie! You almost gave me a heart attack!” Dad breathed, staring at the dog in Papa's arms.

“You hear that, Dickster? You almost put an entire moose into cardiac arrest! Bad dog!” Papa scolded.

In Papa's arms, Dickie whimpered and hung his head, looking really sorry. But Papa wasn't done punishing him. With the flick of his wrist, a golden leash and collar appeared in Papa's hand and he slipped it over Dickie's neck.

“Until you can learn to control yourself, young man, you're gonna wear a leash like a normal house pet,” Papa ordered.

Dickie whined loudly when he heard that he would have to stay on a leash. And when Papa put him back down on the ground, Dickie laid down and refused to move. He didn't get up to walk, even when everybody started to walk away. Papa tugged on him a little, trying to get him to follow. But Dickie didn't get up.

“Seriously, Dickie?” Papa spat, bracing a hand on his hip, “Why do you have to be such a drama queen!?”

“He takes after his owner,” Daddy pointed out with a smile.

Jessica giggled at her parents when they playfully glared and winked at each other. She was happy that they were having a good day, but she didn't want poor Dickie to stay on a leash. This was his happy day, too. So to help him, Jessica picked him up into her arms to keep him safe.

“I can hold him, Papa,” she offered, “I won't let him bother any more animals.”

Papa's golden eyes glanced from Jessie's face to Dickie's, seeming torn.

“I'll let you carry him for a while, but when he gets too heavy for you, we'll switch off. How about that, honeydew?” he suggested.

“Okay,” Jessica nodded, petting Dickie in her arms, “C'mon, Dickie. Let's go see the other animals!”

After what happened at the tiger cage, the adults decided to take everyone onto the train and head to the other side of the park. Ollie was really excited when he heard they were going there because he knew the unicorns would be on that side. The train ride was really fun because they got to see all kinds of other animals as they rode through the zoo. Dickie stayed still in Jessie's lap the whole time, seeming happy that she decided to carry him so that he wouldn't have to wear a leash. Jude really liked the train ride, too. He sat next to uncle Cassie and pointed out all the animals that they passed with a huge smile. Jessie was so happy that everyone was having a good time.

When the train stopped at the station, uncle Dean noticed that there was a place to eat called 'Rafiki Restaurant,' so the grown-ups decided that it was time to eat lunch. Jessica and Daddy chose to share a salad while everyone else got burgers and fries. Ollie and Jude slipped Dickie some of their food while they ate and Jessie pet him in her lap. The food was delicious, but Jessica couldn't wait to see the rest of the park. There were so many animals and the place was so big! She never wanted this day to end.

Once lunch was over, uncle Cassie pointed out a big tram in the sky. It was like a string of seats that floated over the African park and Jessie really wanted to ride it. Jude was a little nervous, because the tram was way up high and he was afraid of falling. But uncle Dean talked him into going by reminding him that Jessie and Ollie would be riding with him. When Jude finally agreed to go, he, Jessie, and Ollie all piled into a tram seat and lifted high up into the air to sail over the animals.

During the tram ride, the kids saw lots of zebras, giraffes, ostriches, and animals that looked like deer. Dickie barked at a few of them from above, which made the kids giggle because the animals didn't know where the sound was coming from. Jessie was glad to see that Jude wasn't afraid of heights anymore. He and Ollie gently kicked their feet in the air like they were in a huge swing. Jessica really liked hanging out with her boys. They were so funny that they made her tummy hurt from laughing.

When they got off the tram, Daddy and Papa were there to meet them on the other side. They all waited for uncle Dean and uncle Cas to get off too before they all walked around to see the gorillas and the lions. Jessie really liked the gorillas because they seemed so smart. They waved at the people near the glass and played with each other just like humans did. One of the lions with the fluffy mane roared really loud too, and everyone got to hear it. Seeing the lions must have made Ollie want to sing 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' again because he was humming it when they walked away.

The path through the west part of the zoo made a circle, So when the Winchesters made it back to the train station, the adults decided to stop inside the gift shop before getting on the train. Uncle Dean said that Jessie, Jude, and Ollie could all pick out one thing to take home. And Jessie already knew what she wanted. With Dickie in hand, she dashed over to the pile of plushie bunnies and looked around for a friend to take home to her own rabbit. There were a few different kinds but Dickie helped her pick out a good one. The bunny he grabbed had orange-ish fur and brown eyes that reminded Jess of Ollie. She plucked that one out of the pile and handed it to Daddy to pay for. Jude chose to take home a pair of otters with magnets in their paws that held hands. And Ollie chose a pretty butterfly mobile to take home to his Mommy. Jessie thought that was so sweet. Ollie was so good to his momma...

With their new stuff all packed up and ready to go, everyone headed back toward the train. Jessie noticed that Ollie seemed kinda down when the loaded up. She watched him tug on Papa's arm when they took their seats.

“Mr. Gabe? What about the unicorns?” he asked, sounding sad.

“You know what? I think we passed the unicorns when we came in,” Papa said, “Don't worry, carrot-top. You'll get to see one today. I promise.”

That must have made Ollie feel better because he smiled and nodded. The train carried them all back to the east side of the park and Jessie hoped to see more animals. Her feet were kind of tired from walking all day, but she didn't want to stop. She was having so much fun with all her guys. When they got off the train, uncle Dean mentioned that they forgot to see the polar bear exhibit. He led the way to the polar bear passage and Jessie finally handed Dickie back to Papa so that she could run up and see the polar bears for herself.

The polar bear exhibit included a huge clear glass that held a lot of water, kind of like a fish tank, and the bears were swimming around and playing in it. Jessica saw that there was already another small family standing near the huge glass looking at the bears, too. There was a mommy, a daddy, and a small baby inside a stroller. Though Jessica was excited to see the polar bears, the little baby in the stroller kept pulling her attention away. He was so cute and small! Such an adorable baby! Jessie smiled and waved at him – and he actually waved back. Aww! What a cutie!

“Look, sunshine,” Papa called.

Jessie looked up from the baby to see her Papa walking back and forth in front of the glass. The two white bears inside were following him along the glass, swimming behind him like they were trying to play. Jessie, Ollie, and Jude all giggled. That looked so fun.

“Why are they doing that, Mr. Gabe?” Ollie asked.

“I don't know. I guess they like shiny things. And I am pretty shiny,” Papa said, turning to give Dad a wink.

“Cool! Let me try!” Ollie exclaimed.

He raced up to the side of the glass and started walking in front of it – and the bears actually followed him, too! They smacked their big paws against the glass like they were trying to catch him and it only made Jude and Jessica laugh again. Even the baby in the stroller was smiling. That was so funny!

“I wanna try too,” Jude grinned.

Jude ran over to join Ollie – but he accidentally tripped on the way. Jessie could feel a slight change in the air when he gasped and fell forward. Jude used some of his grace without meaning to when he caught himself on the glass... and his angelic touch accidentally cracked the clear surface. Jessie saw it when he stood up and lifted his hand. The spider-web-like crack quickly inched across the entire glass, springing leaks from the water behind it. Oh no! Jude broke the polar bear enclosure!

“Jude, come away from there!” uncle Cassie called, sounding scared.

“Gabriel, fix it!” Daddy gasped.

Before Papa could even lift his hand to snap his fingers, the glass broke completely – and a huge wave of water rushed out of the enclosure like a flood, making screams come from almost everyone, including Jessica. She was instantly engulfed with water and pushed back against the wall behind her. The ice cold liquid poured out like a tsunami to cover the whole room and it pulled the polar bears out with it. One floated by Jessica and its big white paw almost touched her head, making her shriek again. Those claws were so huge and sharp! That would have really hurt!

The polar bear passage was open on both sides, so most of the water flowed out into the park. It took the two bears, Daddy, uncle Dean, Jude, Dickie, and the two adult strangers outside. She could hear uncle Cassie shouting at Papa over the water, saying, “Gabriel! We must put the bears to sleep!” It was all happening so fast that Jessica barely noticed that most of her family was gone. When the water went down enough for Jessica to catch her breath and stand up on the ground, she realized that she and Ollie were the only two people left inside the wet canal – and that the baby stroller was turned upside down on the floor. Jessica's heart leaped into her throat when she saw it. Oh no! The baby!

With her clothes all soaking wet and her heart racing, Jessica ran over to the stroller and turned it over. The baby boy inside was gasping and coughing like he was having trouble breathing, but Jessie wasn't sure what exactly to do. She started by unstrapping him from the seat and taking him out to hold him. She knew that he probably breathed in some water by accident, so she needed to get it out. But how? Maybe she could do what Papa always did and use her grace. Wanting to help, Jessica placed her hand over the baby's tiny chest and let her grace shine, carefully removing all the water from his lungs. And as soon as she did, the baby started crying again.

“I – it's okay, baby,” Jessica cooed softly, “I'll find your mommy and daddy.”

When she turned around to see the broken glass and wet floor, Jessie focused her attention on finding the baby's parents. There was a feeling in her heart that she had never felt before. Jessica felt really important in that moment, like a brave knight in a storybook. She had a duty to accomplish and she was determined to see it done.

While she held the crying baby in her small arms, Jessica noticed that another polar bear was starting to crawl out of the broken window. It seemed like he was curious to see what happened, but he was also staring hard at Jessie. And he was very big. Jessica carefully backed away from the bear, hoping that he wouldn't hurt her. But he kept walking toward her, sniffing in her direction. A little bit of fear started to rise in Jessie's stomach. Uh-oh. What if he tried to hurt her? Or the baby she was trying to save?


Jessica almost gasped when Ollie jumped in front of her. The red-haired boy was soaking wet and standing between her and the bear, waving his arms like crazy.

“Shoo, bear!” he said again, “Go away!”

Jessica thought that Ollie's loud shouts would make the bear go away – but they only made the bear stand up. The polar bear got up on his hind legs and towered over them like a giant statue. Ollie squeaked in fear and turned around to wrap his arms around Jessica, who closed her eyes and held the baby tight. They both braced for the bear to attack them.

But Papa made it back just in time to stop it.

With a single glowing touch, Papa put the bear to sleep, making him fall over and lay on the wet floor like a huge stuffed teddy bear. When she saw her Papa standing there, Jessica could feel the fear in her stomach turning into relief. She was so glad that he came back inside! With the bear asleep, Papa rushed over check on Jess and Ollie.

“Jessica! Oliver! Holy crap, are you okay?!” he breathed, sounding scared.

“We're okay, Papa,” Jessie nodded, “but I need to find -”

“Joey?!” a lady's voice called, sounding so worried, “Joey?!”

Jessica turned to see the baby's mommy run back inside. She picked up the empty stroller and looked around with terror, searching desperately for her baby in soaking clothes. With that feeling of importance swirling in Jess's heart, she boldly stepped away from Papa and Ollie and walked over to the lady. She held out the baby without saying a word and the absolute joy on his mommy's face made Jessie so happy.

“Oh! Th – thank you!” she cried, carefully taking the baby out of Jessie's arms to hold him close, “Thank you so much!”

“You're welcome,” Jessie smiled.

The little girl took a small step back when the daddy came back inside. He and the mommy both showered their baby with love and the view made Jessie feel so good. She was so proud that she helped a small family stay safe. This must have been what Daddy was talking about when he said that hunting was mostly about helping people. It was no wonder why he and uncle Dean did it all the time. This big giant feeling of happiness made Jess feel so good.


Jessie turned around to see Daddy run toward her. He dropped down on both knees to wrap her into a tight hug and she could feel his whole body shaking.

“Oh my God, are you okay?!” he breathed into her hair.

“Yeah. I'm okay, Daddy. I helped that little baby,” she answered, pulling away to point at the family nearby, “I saved him. I was a brave hunter, just like you!”

Dad's smile was both sad and happy at the same time. He stared down at Jessie's face and she smiled up at his wet hair and pale cheeks. It was like he didn't know what to say, but he was very proud of her anyway. Papa eventually wandered over to join them, holding onto Ollie's shoulders.

“Guess what, Daddy-moose?” Papa grinned, “This lil' gingersnap protected our daughter from a huge polar bear.”

“Wh – what?” Dad breathed, his eyes dropping to Ollie, “You did?”

“Well, um, sorta,” Ollie mumbled, playing with the bottom of his wet shirt, “I just did what my dad does when the raccoons get into our trash outside. Mr. Gabe is the one who really saved us.”

“Give yourself some credit, carrot-top. You done good,” Papa grinned, patting his shoulders.

Beyond Papa, Jessie could see uncle Dean and uncle Cassie walking back into the room with Jude between them. Poor Jude looked so sad. He was holding onto his Papa's side and shivering hard.

“I – I didn't mean to break it, P – Papa,” he cried, his blue eyes full of tears, “I didn't -”

“Shhh. It's alright, son,” uncle Cassie said softly, stroking Jude's wet hair, “It was only a mistake. No one was hurt. Everything will be alright.”

With one hand still on Jude's shoulder, uncle Dean wandered over the broken glass on the floor to stand between Dad and Papa.

“What are we going to do about this?” he asked quietly, pointing to the giant hole in the glass wall.

“Well,” Dad sighed, “I would suggest some damage control, but unless Gabe can wipe the memories of everyone in this park I don't think there's much we can do.”

“That's true,” Papa agreed, “I can't fix everything. But I can get rid of the surveillance video so that no one knows that we were here. Sammy knows that I'm pretty good at that.”

Daddy rolled his eyes but Papa snapped his fingers, using some grace to make the cameras in the corners fall and smash to the floor.

“That's good enough for me,” uncle Dean muttered, “They're already evacuating the park. I say we slip out of here while we can.”

“Alright. Let's go,” Daddy agreed, climbing to his feet.

“But...” Ollie squeaked, sounding sad as he followed everyone out, “What about the unicorns?”

Jessica felt bad for both of her boys. Poor Ollie wasn't going to be able to see the unicorns because they had to leave. And poor Jude was so sad because he accidentally broke the polar bear glass. Everyone was leaving the park in a gloomy mood and Jessie wished that she could change it. But people and workers were rushing around the park in a panic, like they thought more animals would be on the loose. While the family quickly headed for the exit, Jessica slipped over to Jude's side and gave him a hug to help him feel better.

“Don't worry, Jude,” she said, “It's okay. The polar bears aren't hurt or anything.”

Jude was too upset to say anything back. He only sniffled and clung to his Papa's side. Jessie gave him a soft smile as they ventured out of the zoo entrance and headed toward their parked car. The grown-ups were talking about their wet clothes and how long it would take for the polar bears to wake back up. And Jessie noticed that Ollie was lagging far behind. He was shuffling along with his head down, looking so depressed that it made Jess's heart ache. There had to be something that she could do.

“Papa,” she said, reaching over to tug on his arm, “Can't we go and see the unicorns really quick? Just for a minute? Ollie really wanted to see them.”

Jessica's plea must have done something because Papa paused in the parking lot to give her a weary smile. His gold hair was all wet and it made him look funny when he tilted his head to the side. He leaned down to get close to Jessie and hide his hand between them, where he quietly snapped his fingers. Afterward, he raised his head to smile.

“Oh! Look at that,” he mentioned loudly, pointing across the parking lot, “Somebody must have broken into the unicorn enclosure too...”

When he heard the word 'unicorn,' Ollie popped his head up to look around and see what Papa was talking about. Jessica stared over in the distance too... and found a beautiful unicorn slowly walking up to them. It had a long flowy mane and tail of pure white hair and its eyes were the brightest blue that Jess had ever seen. A pinkish, spirally horn jutted out from its forehead and it looked almost shimmery in the light. Jessica was in shock. Wow! Unicorns were real! They were so pretty! And Papa had let one out of its cage so that Ollie could see it!

The magical white horse wandered over to Ollie and sniffed toward him, waving its pretty horn around when it bobbed its head. And Ollie just stood there with a giant smile frozen on his face. Jessie carefully walked over to her friend, not wanting to scare the awesome creature away.

“Ollie,” she whispered, “It's a real unicorn!”

“I... I know!” Ollie squealed, his face all pink with delight.

While the two of them stared up at the unicorn in awe, everyone else slowly came closer. Especially uncle Cassie, who was gently pushing Jude forward by angling him toward the magic horse. Papa sneaked up to kneel between Jessie and Ollie.

“Hold out your hands, kiddos,” he smiled.

Papa gave Jessie and Ollie – and eventually Jude, too – some apple slices to let them feed the unicorn. And one by one, the horse nibbled on the fruit from their palms, making them each giggle at his ticklish movements. When he ate the last piece from Jude's hand, the pretty unicorn neighed and bounced his head a few times before slowly turning to gallop away. Ollie's brown eyes were wide and he was holding both hands to his mouth, looking so happy that it made Jess's whole heart feel good again.

“Bye, Mr. Unicorn!” Ollie faintly called, waving as the magic horse disappeared around a building.

“That was purely magical,” uncle Cassie said, blinking strangely with a small smile.

“I feel like I just lived through my own personal version of National Lampoon's Family Vacation,” uncle Dean mumbled with a smirk as he rang-out the bottom part of his shirt.

“C'mon, munchkins. Let's head back to the car,” Papa said, waving for everyone to follow.

Seeing the unicorn must have made Jude feel better too, because he and Ollie grabbed each other by the arm and shared a laugh before racing each other to the car. On the way there, Jessica caught sight of her Daddy leaning close to her Papa. His big hands crept over Papa's shoulders and he bent down to nuzzle his mouth next to Papa's ear.

“Gabe. You're amazing,” he whispered.

Papa turned his head to smack a kiss to Daddy's lips.

“I know,” he replied with a wink.

Chapter Text

Castiel could tell that his son never fully recovered from the incident at the zoo. Jude's behavior strongly mimicked that of his human father, to the extent that Cas practically mistook Jude's private anguish for Dean's. Castiel had become so accustomed to feeling his husband's self-loathing tenancies that he almost didn't recognize that the emotion was coming from their son instead. The angel was painfully aware that his precious child was subconsciously riddled with unnecessary anxiety and guilt. And Castiel desperately wished to comfort his son and remind him that his earlier actions were both unintentional and not of great consequence; that while breaking the polar bear enclosure seemed dangerous, no one was hurt in the process. But Cas feared that Jude may disregard his words even if he stated them out loud.

Jude hardly said a word for the rest of the evening, from the time they left the zoo until they all climbed into their hotel beds to prepare for a restful night's sleep. Oliver, exhausted from walking all day, joined Jude in the large bed and fell asleep almost as soon as his head of orange hair laid on a pillow. But Jude occupied the space next to him and stared up at the ceiling in silence, letting his blue eyes roam back and forth across the large blank canvas.

While Dean dressed for bed in the restroom, Castiel stole the opportunity to talk privately with their son. Jude needed to hear words of comfort, and while Dean may have been better at talking about human emotion than Castiel, the angel hoped he would be a worthy replacement. He quietly wandered toward Jude and Oliver's bed and slowly sat down on the white comforter, silently acquiring Jude's attention by reaching out to take his small hand. Once Jude's open eyes were directed at him, Castiel smiled softly and stroked Jude's small fingers.

“Hello, son,” Cas whispered, momentarily indulging in the sight of his child's beautiful face, “What's troubling you?”

Jude sighed heavily but his fingers curled around his angelic fathers'. The two stuffed otters that he had chosen from the zoo gift shop were tucked under his other arm and he used his other hand to play with one of their paws.

“I really didn't mean to break the glass, Papa,” Jude mumbled, his eyes dropping to their joined hands, “I didn't mean to use my grace... It jumps out on its own sometimes and I can't help it.”

“I know,” Castiel murmured softly.

Even after ten years of coexistence with his grace, Jude still had trouble maintaining it. His cousin Jessica had been in control of her own practically since birth, but Jude was not so lucky. Castiel and Dean both shared many private discussions on the matter and eventually reached the conclusion that Jude's grace was somehow more powerful than Jessica's, and far too large for him to manage. Dean phrased it as 'putting a rocket engine inside a moped scooter,' which Castiel found very fitting. Jude's small, mostly-human body did not seem equipped to handle the magnitude of his grace at times. Especially when his grace acted without his consent, just as it did that day... Still, Castiel had faith that his son was capable of overcoming this lifetime struggle. Jude was a strong young boy with constant love and support from his family. Virtually anything was possible for him.

“What happened today was not your fault, Jude,” Castiel reminded as he looked down into his child's eyes, “You did not break the glass on purpose. It was merely an accident... Much like the time your uncle Bobby dropped his cell phone into a puddle of water.”

The mention of the humorous past occasion caused a brief smile to appear on Jude's face.

“Or the time uncle Sammy forgot to get Daddy some pie when he went to the store?” he responded.

“Yes,” Castiel nodded, “or when Oliver calls you 'Jessie' by mistake... None of those things are intentional, son. They happen because... we are human. And humans make many mistakes.”

Castiel chose to include himself when describing humans, not only to show Jude that he had many allies in his current circumstance, but also because Cas honestly did feel quite human. He, too, made countless mistakes when he fell to Earth. But he wasn't ashamed to consider himself part of humanity. On the contrary, he felt very blessed... Jude seemed to accept the statement with a simple nod. The child nestled farther into the sheets and hugged his toy otters close. The sight of the plush animals made Castiel's curiosity return.

“Jude, may I ask why you chose these specific animals?” the angel whispered, gently tapping the edge of an otter's nose with his finger.

Jude glanced down at his new playthings and shrugged his small shoulders. A yawn escaped his mouth before he replied.

“'Cause I like how they hold hands,” he answered, clicking their paws together, “They're in love. Like you and Dad.”

Castiel beamed down at his child, feeling an abundance of admiration and pride. He never realized how much his and Dean's displays of affection were witnessed by their son. Did Dean and Castiel truly join hands often enough to have it ingrained in Jude's memory? And show him what it was like to be in love? The thought made Castiel's heart thump warmly in his chest.

“I'm glad you chose them,” Cas mumbled with a smile, “Perhaps one day, when you find someone very special, you can give them one of these otters. That way, you will each have something to be reminded of your love for each other.”

Castiel's suggestion made Jude look down at his toys with wonder. For a moment, anguish disappeared from his blue eyes and hopefulness took its place.

“I... I'm gonna find someone special?” the child repeated.

“I have no doubt that you will, son,” Castiel answered, “In due time.”

The angel added the last small comment so that Jude wouldn't worry about finding a significant other for quite some time. Jude was still a child with lots of life experiences before him and plenty of fun to be had while he was young. The small boy appeared to be content with Castiel's comments. The hopeful smile remained on his face as he returned his sight to his new toys and yawned once more.

“Thanks, Papa,” he whispered, “I love you.”

“I love you too, Jude,” Castiel whispered back, “Goodnight.”

The angel leaned over to plant an affectionate kiss on his child's forehead before standing up and venturing back toward his and Dean's bed. Since Oliver was asleep, Castiel saw no problem with dressing for bed in the main part of the room. He quickly and discretely pulled the damp black T-shirt up over his head and straightened it out to study the rainbow words written on the front. It was very nice of Gabriel to make everyone a keepsake from this family trip. Castiel would cherish it forever...


Castiel lowered his shirt and turned around to look back at Jude. The little boy had rolled over and was staring at Cas with furrowed eyebrows and a tilted head. Was something wrong?

“Yes, son?” the angel prompted.

“How did you get that mark on your belly?” the child asked, pointing toward Cas's abdomen.

The angel's eyes dropped to his own torso where he saw the jagged scar faded across the top of his stomach. Memories flooded Castiel's mind in an instant; past visions of being pregnant and sitting on a cabin floor with an angel blade in his hand and a bundled-up tie clenched between his teeth... Cas raised his head to smile fondly at his son as he traced the scar with the tip of his finger.

“This?” he murmured, “I acquired it when I gave birth to you, Jude.”

The statement must have been intriguing because Jude immediately sat up in bed. Wonder and eagerness were harbored in his blue eyes as they blinked up at Castiel.

“Really?” he whispered, “How?”

Castiel carefully tossed his discarded shirt onto the bed before wandering back over to his son with both hands on his own stomach.

“Well,” Cas began, unsure of how to phrase such an astounding experience, “When your father and I, um... made you, your body took shape inside my grace -”

“I know,” Jude nodded with honesty, “I remember being in there. Sort of.”

Castiel paused to stare down at his child with bewilderment. Jude remembered being inside Cas's body? But how? His brain wasn't even fully developed at the time. Perhaps it had something to do with their shared grace...

“What do you remember, son?” Cas asked, feeling curious.

“Not a lot,” Jude admitted, “Just Daddy's voice. And flying around, but I didn't like that part... How did I come out, Papa? Did I make that mark?”

Castiel brought his attention back to his own stomach as he thoughtfully observed his son.

“No, Jude. I made this mark,” the angel corrected, “I had to extract you from my grace and the only way to do it was with the use of an angel blade. So, when you were ready to come out, I sat down and very carefully removed you myself.”

Castiel deliberately left out the background information surrounding Jude's birth; how Dean was not present due to angel capture and Gabriel was too busy rescuing the Winchesters to help. But Jude seemed pleased to learn the small bit of trivia that Castiel supplied him with. He winced sympathetically when Cas mentioned the angel blade.

“Did it hurt?” Jude muttered, clinging to his otters with worry.

“Yes,” Castiel nodded, “It was one of the most painful experiences of my life... But for you, son, I would do it a thousand times over.”

Jude stared up at his celestial father in stunned awe.

“Why?” he breathed, sounding amazed.

“Because I love you, Jude,” Castiel explained, stepping over to gently take his child's face in his hands, “You are my child and I am willing to do anything to keep you safe and happy. My sole purpose is to love and protect you, along with the rest of our family. And I'm certain that your father feels the same way.”

“Same way about what?”

Castiel and Jude both turned to look toward the sound of Dean's voice. The man – now dressed in a pair of pajama pants – had walked out of the bathroom just in time to hear the last piece of Cas's statement. The angel smiled warmly at his husband as the man drew nearer.

“About loving and protecting our family,” Castiel explained.

Dean nodded as he stopped by Jude's bed to join Cas in staring down at their child.

“Definitely,” he agreed, “Your Papa and I have always got your back, little man.”

Jude swaddled his otters close and nodded toward his father, seeming absolutely comforted by the promise Dean made. Another small yawn slipped from Jude's mouth and Dean leaned down to peck a quick kiss to the top of his head.

“Lay down and get you some sleep. We'll be heading home in the morning,” Dean reminded.

The man helped their child adjust the blankets to make sure that he was warm before giving him a subtle wink.

“'Night, Jude. I love you,” Dean hummed.

“I love you too, Dad,” Jude mumbled, letting his eyes rejoin Castiel's, “'Night, Papa.”

“Goodnight, son,” Castiel replied.

Once Jude was tucked into bed next to his sleeping friend, Dean turned out the lamp on the table, which put the room in almost total darkness. The outline of Dean's figure moved toward Castiel, leading the angel back to their own bed. The two of them climbed between the sheets and nestled into a comfortable position, facing each other on their sides so that they could speak quietly.

“Did you have a good time today, baby?” Dean mumbled.

His green eyes were already closed and his arm was draped loosely over Castiel's waist. The angel knew it wouldn't be long before the man completely succumbed to a swift slumber. To help coax him to sleep, Cas reached out to gently stroke Dean's bare back in the dark.

“I did, Dean,” Castiel replied softly, “I enjoy our family outings very much.”

“Mmph...” Dean responded in exhaustion, “Next time... I wanna take Jude to the beach...”

Castiel beamed at his dozing husband's suggestion.

“That sounds like a lovely idea,” the angel agreed.

It was clear that Dean was already asleep because he did not respond. The time of the evening had come in which Castiel was the only person left awake. Everyone else in the room was silent and barely stirring in their unconscious state. Usually, when all the Winchesters were at home and asleep, Castiel would use this time to tidy the children's rooms, clean the bunker, and help Dean and Sam with whatever case they were working on. But now, on vacation, Castiel found that there was not much else to do but stare at his beautiful husband and wait for dawn to approach.

The night seemed to drag on longer than usual. Dean, Jude, and Oliver shifted around every so often, giving the room a brief pause from silence with the noisy movement of the sheets. But other than that, Castiel was kept company by the low hum of breath and heartbeats. And the sight of his most beloved people. After gazing at Dean's perfect face for a few hours, the angel rolled over to stare at their beautiful son from a distance. Jude remained peaceful and calm the whole night, which made Castiel very glad. Jude may have been troubled by the incident at the zoo, but it did not effect his rest. In fact, everyone was resting peacefully.

The whole night seemed relaxing and rather boring... until around five o'clock in the morning, when Castiel felt something hard press against his back.

Some sort of object was laying between Dean and Castiel's bodies in the bed and it was applying pressure to the lower part of Castiel's spine. At first, the angel assumed that Dean had forgotten to remove a weapon from his clothing. Was it the blunt end of an angel blade? The barrel of a gun, perhaps? Cas reached behind him to remove the object, hoping to keep it from harming Dean. But when the angel grasped the cloth-covered shaft, a deep hum rumbled from Dean's throat.

Oh. Oh. That was no weapon...

Castiel carefully rolled back over to face Dean and see that he had been holding onto his husband's penis. Dean had a full erection inside his pants, even though he was completely asleep. Castiel had witnessed this event before. It was something that human men experienced on a regular basis – at least, that's what Gabriel told him. According to the archangel, sleeping males often tended to 'get hard for no reason.' And Dean confirmed this once as well... but the very sight of Dean's swollen member poking out from the hem of his pajama pants made Castiel's own member respond. When was the last time Castiel saw his favorite human naked? When was the last time the two of them took advantage of a hotel room together? Or sneaked away to have alone time?

For a moment, Castiel was ready to wake Dean and make love to him. But then, he remembered that the children were sharing the same room. Cas briefly looked over his shoulder to see Jude and Oliver sleeping peacefully. Dean and Castiel could not engage in passionate intercourse while the boys were there. It seemed very inappropriate. The thought of flying Dean to a different place for intercourse crossed Castiel's mind, but the angel dismissed it. He did not want to leave their child in a hotel room unattended... But there was always the restroom. Yes, perhaps Castiel could entice Dean to join him in the restroom for some intimacy. And make it just as enjoyable for Dean by using one of his favorite things...

Being as stealthy as possible, Castiel slid out from under Dean's arm and exited their bed. He flew himself over to their duffel bags on the floor, where their clothing was stored. The angel quietly dug around in the fabric to find the lacy white pair of panties that he had packed in secret. This was a new pair; something that Dean had not seen before. And he retrieved the blue garter from the bag as well; the same one that Jane had purchased for him years before that Dean favored. Instead of changing, Castiel simply used his grace to switch the clothes. Once he was standing in nothing but a pair of panties and a lace garter, Castiel silently slipped back to Dean's side of the bed.

Dean was on his back now, gently snoring with his mouth open. Castiel enjoyed the sight of his sleeping husband for a moment – imagining how excited and aroused his expression would become when he woke up to observe Cas's new attire – before leaning over the bed to wake him.

But before Castiel even touched Dean, a loud knock came from the hotel door.

The angel gasped and recoiled his hand in fear. Oh, no! Who was there? What if the sound woke Jude and Oliver and they saw Castiel dressed so inappropriately?! The angel flew across the room to grab his trench coat and slipped it on to cover himself. In the meantime, another loud knock came from the door, accompanied by Gabriel's annoyingly boisterous voice.

Helloooo,” the trickster sang, “Rise and shine, Winchesters! It's time to hit the road!”

Somehow – probably with the use of his grace – Gabriel let himself into Dean and Castiel's hotel room regardless of the lock. Luckily, Castiel had just enough time to wrap his coat around his body before his angelic brother led the rest of their family into the room. He, Sam, and Jessica were all awake and dressed, although Sam and Jessica both appeared weary. Dickie was walking around lazily, too. Cas stood near the motel table with his heart pounding adrenaline and shame through his veins at almost being caught in naughty attire. This intrusion was entirely uncalled for! Why did Gabriel have to ruin his surprise?!

Dean woke up with a start, jutting up and blinking repeatedly toward the people entering the room. His green eyes focused on Gabriel and Sam before he glanced toward the window to see the darkness beyond.

“Dude,” the man grumbled, rubbing his eyes, “What the hell? What time is it?”

“It's fifteen after five,” Sam slurred with a yawn, crossing his arms and slumping against the wall “Somebody just had to get up before the crack of dawn...”

“Hey! I wanna get to Denny's before they run out of breakfast food, kiddo,” Gabriel defended.

“Gabe, it's Denny's. They never run out of breakfast food,” Sam huffed back.

While the two of them mumbled to each other, their daughter wandered over to wake Jude and Oliver. As more of his family crowded the room, Castiel began to feel uncomfortable. It would only be a matter of time before someone spotted that he wasn't wearing much of anything under his trench coat. And if Gabriel noticed it first, the teasing would never stop... But still. Castiel didn't want his plan to completely backfire...

“Dean,” Castiel said as he firmly step toward the bathroom, “I need a moment with you in private.”

Dean yawned and tried to shake some of the sleep from his face, but he eventually slid toward the side of the bed. Cas paused to make sure that Dean was up and following him before leading the way into the restroom. The angel didn't stop until he heard the door snap quietly behind them.

“What's the matter, Cas?” Dean asked, sounding groggy.

Instead of answering the man's question with words, Castiel simply turned around and opened his coat. He shrugged the fabric from his shoulders and let it gather into a heap at his feet, exposing his entire barely-dressed body to his husband. Dean's green eyes dropped to Castiel's lower half and Cas could hear the air wheeze from Dean's lungs. The man was rendered utterly speechless by the sight of his angel in white and blue lingerie. And his stunned, aroused reaction caused Castiel's body to respond once more. Blood was pumping to swell Cas's genitals as he stared at Dean's open mouth and wide eyes.

“Whoa...” Dean gulped, his lips dry.

“You acquired an erection through the night, Dean,” Castiel attempted to explain.

At the mention of the situation, Dean slid his hand over to cup himself and blink in surprise.

“Shit,” he breathed.

Castiel glanced down at his own body before meeting his husband's eyes again.

“I... I thought this might help you get rid of it,” he admitted bashfully.

Castiel's plan seemed rather dashed at this point, seeing as their hotel room was full of unwelcome guests. Surely, they couldn't share intercourse now... Could they? A smile slowly lit up Dean's beautiful face and he started to chuckle humorously, making Castiel tilt his head in confusion.

“What?” the angel asked.

Dean let out another small laugh before reaching down to clutch his pajama pants. The man carefully pulled them down to reveal that he had been wearing his favorite pair of pink satin panties all along. Castiel gazed down at the large pink bulge between Dean's legs in shock. He had no idea that Dean wore those underneath his pants through the whole night... Once they were out in the open, Dean raised his head to smirk at the angel before him.

“Great minds think alike,” he mumbled.

Castiel smiled brightly at his most beloved human. Yes, it was true. Great minds did think alike. It seemed as though their many years of being intimate had led them to behave so similarly. Dean stepped the rest of the way out of his pants in order to get to Castiel. His muscular arms wrapped around the angel's back to pull him into a tight embrace. Cas sighed erotically when he felt their erections make contact through the soft fabric of their underwear. Dean's mouth swooped down to capture Cas's as well, letting their tongues wiggle about and bid each other good morning.

“Mmm,” Dean hummed, pulling back while his fingers wandered south to grab a handful of Castile's backside, “Where did you get these, baby?”

“I... S – stole them,” Castiel admitted, feeling his own face fill with heat.

It was true. Cas saw the white panties sitting on a shelf when they were walking through a store to shop for Jessica's birthday gift, and he couldn't help himself. He meant to go back and pay for the lingerie after he took it, but never did... Luckily, his answer seemed to thrill Dean because the man grinned and squeezed his cheeks even tighter.

“Oooh, Cas, you're such a sinner,” Dean purred, “It sounds like you need spanked.”

A whimper squeaked from Castiel's lips before he could stop it. The one dirty, sexual desire he loved the most was being spanked by Dean...

“Yes,” Cas nearly moaned, rocking his hips to grind his erection against Dean's, “I do.”

Dean's smirk mellowed into a devilish grin and Castiel felt the man's hand leave his backside. It returned a second later with a generous smack, causing the meat on Cas's posterior to jiggle inside the lace and his knees to go weak. The tingle that echoed up his body made his erection twitch.

Ah,” Castiel moaned quietly, drawing his arms tightly around Dean's shoulders, “Dean...”

The man seemed pleased with the way Castiel responded to his actions. He gave Cas's backside another tiny whack before squeezing it and pulling him close for another kiss. The two of them sank into their lusty embrace and breathed, rutting their hips together in unison. Castiel couldn't wait to let Dean penetrate his body...

A quiet 'click' came from behind them.

Dean and Castiel instantly broke their mouths from each other in order to turn around and see what had caused the noise – and found their ten-year-old niece standing by the door. Jessica had apparently come in to use the bathroom and shut the door behind her, and now she was planted near her barely-dressed uncles in surprise. Blood drained from Castiel's face when he met his niece's suspicious stare. Oh, no. Dean did not lock the door when he came in. And now they were caught doing dirty things by an innocent child...

For a second, Jessica glanced between Dean and Castiel with narrowed eyes. She appeared to be more confused than offended. Dean, on the other hand, had gone completely ridged in Cas's arms. His face was pale and his eyes were huge, frozen toward Jessica in horror. It seemed that none of them knew what to say until Jessica found her voice.

“Um... Are you guys playing dress-up?” she mumbled, reaching up to scratch some of her messy blonde head.

Castiel only blinked at her. Dress-up? What did she mean by 'dress-up'? Was she referring to the lingerie that Dean and Cas were wearing? Dean coughed nervously inside Castiel's arms before shifting around. Both of his hands dropped down to cover his private area before he faced Jessica completely. In the meantime, Castiel covered himself as well, hoping to spare his niece from the sight.

“Uh, y – yeah. We... we play dress-up all the time,” Dean carefully stated.

Even Castiel could tell that Dean was lying. His voice was high and fake, holding too much worry. And it was clear that Jessica didn't believe him either. Her small hip jutted to the side and she crossed her arms, resembling Gabriel to the point that it made Castiel cringe.

“I don't think so,” she denied, shaking her head.

Castiel turned his attention to Dean, wondering what they could do to remedy this awkward situation. Luckily, it seemed that Dean knew how to take charge. He sighed heavily and rolled his green eyes – which were quite vibrant compared to his red face – before scooting toward the sink. He carefully knelt down to dig around inside Castiel's discarded coat with one hand, searching for something in the pocket. He raised back up a moment later with some paper money and walked it over to Jessica.

“Here's twenty bucks,” he mumbled, “Please get out and never tell anyone what you saw in here.”

Jessica carefully took the payment and shrugged, seeming pleased to have earned some free money.

“Okay,” she promised, finally smiling again, “Have fun playing dress-up, you guys!”

The little girl waved and quietly exited the room, pausing to wink at them before closing the door. Once Jessica was gone, Dean dropped his hands and exhaled, looking defeated and embarrassed. Castiel felt equally ashamed. He never meant for their niece to see them in such inappropriate attire.

“I'm sorry, Dean,” the angel offered, feeling at fault.

“It's okay, baby,” Dean mumbled, turning around to give Cas a half smile, “I paid off Sam plenty of times when he was a kid. Jess is just like him. She'll keep a secret for us... I hope.”

Castiel nodded, unsure of what else to say. Jessica's interruption had caused both of their erections to wither and it was clear that they would not be able to finish what they started. Dean took a deep breath before picking up the angel's trench coat from the floor and handing it to him with a peck on the lips.

“Let's get dressed, baby,” he kindly suggested, “The faster we get home, the faster I can punish you for being a bad boy...”

Castiel gulped at Dean's playful threat, admiring his suggestive green eyes and wet smirk. The angel eagerly looked forward to doing naughty things with his husband when they arrived at home. With a hopeful nod, Castiel slid back into his trench coat in preparation for the long journey ahead.

For Jude, the trip back home seemed a lot quicker than the trip to the zoo. He guessed it was because he had already seen all the places along the road and wasn't impressed by it this time. Plus, almost everybody fell asleep on the way back – because uncle Gabe woke them up early to go get breakfast – so the car was really quiet. Jude was actually looking forward to getting home. He missed Bumble Bee and all the stuff in his room. He wanted the comfort of all the things he knew because what happened with the polar bears still upset him.

Lots of bad thoughts kept clogging up Jude's mind – thoughts about being dumb and flooding the zoo with his stupid grace – but he tried really hard to think about happier things instead. He remembered Papa talking to him the night before about the scar on his belly, and it made him wonder about the time he came out of Papa's grace. He couldn't really remember that part. It was all blurry. But he did remember being in Papa and Daddy's arms when he was a baby. They both looked so big back then; so funny and sweet...

Thinking about being a baby also made Jude wonder about his parents being babies. Were Dad and Papa born from grace, like he was? Did their daddies have to cut them out, like Papa did for Jude? While Dad drove in the front seat, Jude leaned far up from the back to tap his shoulder.

“Dad?” he asked.

Jude saw Daddy's green eyes look at him in the rear view mirror.

“Yeah, little man?” he asked over the sound of the car.

“Did Grandpa John give birth to you, like Papa did to me?” Jude asked.

A weird look flashed on Dad's face and he laughed a little.

“No, buddy,” Dad answered, shaking his head, “Your uncle Sam and I had a mom.”

“Really?” Jude gasped.

Whoa. Jude never knew what it was like to have a mom. He got to hang out with Ms. Jane sometimes and she was pretty cool, but there weren't any moms in the bunker. Daddy really had a mom? Where was she? Was she a cool lady, like Ms. Jane? Before Jude even asked any of his questions, a sad look came over Dad's face.

“She, uh... She died too, Jude,” Daddy mumbled, sounding upset, “Her name was Mary.”

“Like Jessie,” Jude pointed out.

Jessie's middle name was Mary. Jude glanced back at his cousin, who was slumped against uncle Sammy in the backseat. Both of them were sleeping while uncle Gabe played with Dickie in his lap. In the front seat, Dad nodded in the mirror again.

“Yeah. That's where it came from,” he explained.

“What was she like?” Jude asked, curious to know.

“My mom? Oh, she was really awesome,” Daddy said, staring out at the road with a tiny smile, “She made the best pie. And her meatloaf was amazing. She had the softest blonde hair... She gave the best hugs... And when she sang, it was the prettiest sound in the world...”

Dad's voice faded away and Jude's heart hurt. Aw man, Daddy looked so sad when he talked about his mommy. Why did she die? Did it happen like Grandpa John, while he was hunting? Jude kinda wanted to ask, but Daddy looked to upset to talk about it. He wanted to make Daddy feel better instead.

“You sing real pretty too, Dad,” Jude reminded, “Maybe you got it from her.”

A warm smile spread on Daddy's face when he glanced back at Jude in the mirror and Jude's heart felt better again.

“Thanks, buddy,” Daddy mumbled.

The rest of the way home was really quiet. During the ride, Jude thought about Dad's parents and how much he wished he could meet them. He bet that they were really nice people – though Grandpa John's journal was full of words that didn't seem very nice. Hmm. What was it about hunting that made him seem mean? Maybe one day, Daddy would tell him...

Everybody stopped at Ollie's house first. Ms. Jane had been waiting for him and came out of her big house to meet them in the driveway. Uncle Gabe gave Ollie his backpack from the trunk and Ollie dug out his gift from the zoo to give to his mom. Ms. Jane really liked the dangly-butterfly-thing that Ollie picked out for her. She smiled and hugged him and told everyone that she was going to hang it in the kitchen widow to catch the sunlight. Ms. Jane and Ollie both made sure to give everyone a hug before they got back in the car to go home. Jude really hated saying goodbye to Ollie. He was his best friend and there was no telling how long it would be before they saw each other again. But Jude hoped it wouldn't be long. Everybody waved out the windows when Daddy drove off, making sure Ms. Jane and Ollie knew how much they would miss them.

On the way from Ollie's house to the Batcave, uncle Gabe said that they should stop at the park to stretch their legs and enjoy the summer sun while they could. And Dad must have agreed because he drove the car to the playground and parked near the same spot they had Jessie's birthday a few days before. Jude and Jessie were always excited to play in the swings, but today they were a little sluggish. It was nice to be outside and enjoy the weather, but Jude kinda wanted to be home. Everyone was slow about getting out of the car and walking around. Even Dickie, who wandered over to hike his leg on a trashcan.

“Ah! Feel that summertime breeze? It smells like fun and adventure,” uncle Gabe hummed, smiling real big as he looked around the park.

“No, that's pollen,” Dad mumbled, getting out to stretch.

“Nope. It's freedom and fun,” uncle Gabe argued with a grin.

“You're an unstoppable force of nostalgic merriment. You know that, Gabe?” uncle Sam said, shaking his head.

“I sure do, sweetheart,” uncle Gabe winked.

Jude rolled his eyes and wandered off toward a picnic table. Uncle Sam and uncle Gabe were so silly sometimes, always winking and nudging each other. Daddy and Papa did it too, but they weren't as giggly as Jessie's parents.

Jessica mumbled something about needing to go to the bathroom and sprinted away, which left Jude by himself for a few minutes. The grown-ups were crowded around the hood of the car, talking about how Mr. Eddie didn't deserve Ms. Jane or something like that. So, to pass the time, Jude walked over to the picnic table.

But then, something caught his eye.

There was something scratched into the concrete underneath the wooden table. Big marks that made a circle on the ground; marks that definitely weren't there when they had Jessie's birthday party. Huh. Where did they come from? And who put them there? The big circle looked like something that belonged in Grandpa John's journal. Maybe it was something to do with hunting. Maybe the grown-ups would know what it was.

“Hey, Dad,” Jude called, “Look. There are some weird marks on the ground.”

The adults all gave each other strange glances but slowly started to walk toward him. Uncle Gabe flew and popped up beside Jude to see the marks first. In the meantime, Jude knelt down to look closer at them. He even reached out to touch the groove of one, but uncle Gabe grabbed his shoulder and gasped.

No!” uncle Gabe shouted, “Don't touch it – !

But it was too late. Jude's finger passed the line into the circle – and the ground began to shake. The marks under the picnic table lit up with white light so bright that Jude had to close his eyes. Some kind of force was pulling him by his grace; yanking his whole body inside like a magnet. A tiny scream left Jude's mouth when he felt himself being sucked inside. Everything turned really bright like he was flying into the sun...

But then, he dropped and everything was really dark. On his hands and knees, Jude tried to catch his breath, feeling scared and sick to his stomach. What happened? Why did he feel sick? What did those marks do? Where was he? Around Jude, the park was gone and a dark room had taken its place. It was silent here; no wind or sun or voices. The only sound was Jude's whimpering breath... and uncle Gabe's long sigh. As soon as he heard his uncle, Jude immediately scurried to his feet and turned around to reach out for him.

“Uncle Gabe!” Jude squeaked.

“Yeah,” uncle Gabe replied, his voice shaky, “I'm here, sidekick.”

Jude felt around for uncle Gabe's arms and instantly buried himself in the safety of them. Jude was so glad that he wasn't alone in this scary new place! Uncle Gabe was still there with him, even though everyone else was gone.

“Wh – what was that, uncle Gabe?” Jude breathed, blinking around in the dark, “Where are we?”

Before he answered, uncle Gabe raised his hand and let a small golden light shine from his palm. With the light, Jude could see lots of bars all around them; over their heads, below their feet, and at every side. It seemed like they were in a giant metal box inside a dark and empty building. The sight made Jude burrow himself deeper into his uncle's side and shiver with fear.

“That was an angel trap, Jude,” uncle Gabe uttered, his voice echoing around the huge room, “and we're inside a cage.”

Chapter Text

Jessica noticed that her tummy was starting to ache when she walked to the bathroom. At first, she thought that she might need to throw up; that maybe the long car ride made her belly upset and she would feel better if she vomited. But when she got to the bathroom and looked at the toilet, the little girl realized that this wasn't a 'sick' kind of tummy ache. This felt like a 'something bad is going to happen' tummy ache...

Sure enough, when Jessie walked over to the sink to look in the mirror, she felt it. A big rumble came from the floor and it almost made her lose her balance. She caught herself on the edge of the sink and turned around to look at the bathroom door. A bright white light was shining around the frame from outside and she could feel a force gently tugging at her grace. What in the world was happening out there? Was there an earthquake? Was Papa doing some kind of angel trick? The rumbling stopped when the light disappeared from the door, but Jessica didn't let go of the sink. Uh-oh. Whatever that was, it must have been bad, because she could hear her Dad and uncles shouting outside.

Nervous and worried, Jessie forced her fingers to let go of the sink so that she could dash to the door and go out to be with her family again. Her Daddy – the tallest guy in the whole park – was the first person she saw. He was standing with uncle Dean and uncle Cassie near the picnic tables, but all of them were looking around with big eyes and pale faces. Even Dickie was running around, barking and whining. Where was Papa and Jude? And why was that picnic table flipped over?

When Dad turned around and saw Jessica walking up to him, he gasped out loud and ran toward her. With three huge strides, he nearly tackled Jessica's standing form, making her hold onto him so that she wouldn't fall.

“Jessica!” he breathed into the top of her hair, “Thank God! S – stay with me, okay? Don't let go of my hand.”

Daddy's huge hand found Jessie's tiny one and clamped it in a firm grip. When Dad backed up to look at her, Jess nodded, even though she wasn't sure what was going on.

“Okay,” she squeaked.

She had never seen Daddy so scared. His eyes were so big and he was moving around like a crazy person, swirling between the picnic tables all jittery and lost. Uncle Dean was spinning in circles too, calling out for Jude and Papa. But uncle Cassie was kneeling down on the ground, looking at some sort of circle. When Dad pulled her close enough to the spot on the ground, Jessica saw the circle for herself. It looked like something out of Grandpa John's journal; a big round shape of strange marks burned into the concrete. It must have made an explosion or something, because the picnic table that used to be there was all burnt up and tossed across the park.

Jude?” uncle Dean yelled, looking all around, even up at the sky, “Jude?! Gabriel?! Cas, what the hell did that thing do to them?!”

The fright on uncle Cassie's face made Jessie's tummy hurt even worse. He never looked so afraid; so upset and concerned.

“Dean,” uncle Cassie gasped, yanking uncle Dean down by the sleeve of his jacket to make him kneel on the ground too, “This – this sigil! I've seen it only one other time.”

“When, Cas?” Dad asked, his voice high and worried.

Uncle Cassie's blue eyes looked from uncle Dean to Dad, and even glanced at Jessie and Dickie, before falling back to the mark on the ground with horror.

“This is a trap. Michael used it in his first fight against Lucifer,” uncle Cas gulped.

Jessie glanced around the adults with confusion. Michael? Lucifer? Who were those people? They must have been pretty important because uncle Dean and Dad both dropped their jaws and blinked at uncle Cas in shock.

“First fight?” Dad repeated, “You mean -”

“When my father banished Lucifer for corrupting mankind, Michael made this trap to transfer him to the cage,” uncle Cas growled, his voice both worried and angry at the same time, “This is what trapped Lucifer in hell the first time... And the angels must have planted the same trap here... Where the children play... To catch them...”

“Wh – what are you saying, Cas? That – that our son is somewhere in a cage right now?!” uncle Dean huffed.

Jessica gasped and covered her mouth. Oh, no! Jude was in a cage somewhere?! No! He couldn't be! After hearing uncle Dean's question, uncle Cassie gave him an extremely worried look before flying away. Where did he go? Was he going to find Jude? Uncle Dean blinked a few times at the blank space that uncle Cassie had been kneeling in before looking up at Dad. He and Dad were both so scared. Jessie didn't know that it was possible for grown-ups to look so afraid.

“It took Gabe too, Dean,” Daddy said quietly, still holding onto Jess's hand, “Wherever they are, at least we know they're together.”

Jessie could feel her tummy turning sour again as she stared up at her Dad.

“P – Papa?” she repeated, “It took Papa too, Dad?!”

No! No, Jessie didn't want Jude or Papa to be in a cage! Just thinking about them being far away and all alone made Jessica's heart hurt. Tears filled up in her eyes and her hand started to shiver inside Dad's. What if they were hurt? What if someone was being mean to them? When Dad saw that Jess was starting to cry, he quickly knelt down to hug her again.

“Whoa, hey, it's okay, Jess,” he soothed, even though his voice was still high and panicky, “You know how strong your Papa is. He and Jude are going to be alright. I promise.”

Jessica knew that Dad was telling the truth. Papa and Jude were going to be okay. She had seen them much older in lots of dreams, so she knew they would all be together again. But still, she didn't want them to be hurt or scared. She just wanted her family to be safe and happy, like Ollie and his family. Why did things like this only happen to their family and not anyone else's?

While Jessie hugged her dad, she felt a tiny paw tap on her leg. Dickie was whining and looking at her with big brown eyes. Aw, he was just as worried and afraid as everybody else. To keep him calm, Jessie let go of Dad to pick up Dickie and hold him. And when he was close enough, Dickie licked her cheek and snuggled into her arms, making himself at home.


Jessie looked up at the sound of uncle Dean's voice. He was staring at her from across the big burned circle of marks, slowly climbing to his feet and brushing his hands off.

“Can you hear any prayers?” he asked.

With Daddy and uncle Dean's eyes on her, Jessie paused to listen for any voices inside her head. There usually weren't any words; mostly feelings or sounds from the other angels in her family. But now, there was nothing. Jude and Papa must have been really far away, because she couldn't feel anything at all. The little girl slowly shook her head, feeling terrible. But luckily, uncle Dean wasn't too upset. He just nodded and looked around in a daze. Daddy probably saw that uncle Dean wasn't all there too, because he quietly made a suggestion.

“We should stay calm and head back to the bunker, Dean,” Dad said, finally getting uncle Dean to look at him, “It's the first place Gabe would go if he and Jude were able to get away. Plus, we can get a lot more done from there.”

Uncle Dean slowly nodded, but still seemed dazed. He coughed and spun around one more time – which reminded Jessie of the way a lost little kid in a grocery store would act – before getting the keys out of his pocket.

“Alright,” he said, pausing to look up at the sky, “Cas, I don't know where the hell you are, but meet us at the bunker... Sam, take a picture of this sigil before we get in the car... Blondie,” he mumbled, pointing at Jess, “Try praying to Jude and your Papa, alright? Let me know if you hear them say anything.”

Jessie nodded instantly. She would do anything to help get Papa and Jude back! Dad quickly took a picture of the burned circle on the ground with his cell phone before grabbing Jess's hand again. While he led her back to the SUV, Jessie whispered Jude and Papa's names under her breath, sending out a long-distance prayer with the use of her grace. But even as she got into the car and sat next to Dad in the backseat, no one answered her. It was like she was in a soundproof room, only hearing her own voice bounce back to her. Why wouldn't they answer? Were they both asleep or something?

“Jess? You hear anything?” uncle Dean eventually asked from the driver's seat.

Jessica could feel her own face glow with heat when she met his green eyes in the rear view mirror.

“I'm – I'm trying, uncle Dean, but they aren't talking,” she admitted.

“It's alright, Jess,” Dad comforted, still holding her hand tight, “I'll pray with you.”

Jessie felt a little better when she heard Dad start to pray along with her, even though Papa and Jude weren't saying anything back. Uncle Dean was driving crazier than normal on the way back home. Jessica saw that the speed handle never went below the fifty mark on the controls, even when they went around curves. Dickie buried himself between Jessie and Dad during the trip, seeming too scared to poke his head out. Every so often, uncle Dean called uncle Cas's name – probably because he was worried about him flying away too – but uncle Cassie stayed gone. Jessie figured that uncle Cas must have been searching for Jude and Papa on his own; flying around to every place he could think of to find them. And Jessie really wished that she could have flown with him to help, but she didn't want to leave her dad's side. Not after hearing about cages...

The bunker was the exact same way they left it two days before. All the different cars were parked inside the garage, even uncle Dean's Impala near the door. He parked the SUV in the middle of the room and jumped out to pace around the empty garage. It was clear that uncle Dean was slowly starting to panic. He was walking and looking around without stopping and his behavior only made Jessie feel worse. If uncle Dean – one of the strongest, bravest guys Jessie had ever known – was acting this upset, then this situation was worse than she thought.

“Cas! What the hell?! I told you to get back here!” uncle Dean yelled at the ceiling, making his voice echo around the room.

Jessie flinched at the harsh sound. She had never heard uncle Dean yell like that before. It must have upset Daddy too because he stepped up to grab uncle Dean's shoulder and look him in the eye.

“Dean,” he said, “Take a breath, man. It's going to be alright -”

“No, it's not alright, Sam,” uncle Dean growled, shaking Dad's hand away, “My son is in a cage and my husband is gone! And there's not a damn thing I can do about it!

The anger and pain in uncle Dean's voice made Jessie's tears start up again. She hunkered by her dad and clung to Dickie's warm furry body, secretly wishing that she could make everything all better. Jess didn't want anyone to yell or be hurt. Daddy's eyes flashed back at her before he turned to yank uncle Dean closer to him. When he talked again, his voice was really low but Jessica could still hear him.

“I know. But freaking out isn't going to help anyone. You need to calm down. You're scaring Jessica,” Dad hissed.

What Dad said seemed to snap uncle Dean out of his frenzy. He looked down at Jessie and the panic disappeared from his eyes. Uncle Dean reminded Jess of a soldier all the sudden; like he realized that he had an important job to do and he needed to set his panic aside to focus. After taking a few big breaths, uncle Dean nodded at Dad, looking more like the strong hero that Jessica knew.

“You're right,” he mumbled, voice low and calm, “I – I'm sorry. I'm just scared out of my mind...”

Dad squeezed his shoulder and eventually let go. And when uncle Dean was free again, he took the time to glance back up at the ceiling.

Cas,” he suddenly prayed, his voice cracking, “Castiel, I can't do this without you... Unless you're finding Jude, I need you here with me – ”

Before uncle Dean could finish his prayer, a gust of air swept through the garage. Everybody turned around to see uncle Cassie standing by the trunk of the Impala... only he wasn't alone. He was holding onto the collar of a man who was kneeling and shaking on the ground. It seemed like someone – probably uncle Cas, from the blood on his knuckles – had beat the man up, because his nose was bleeding and his cheeks were bruised. Jessica had never seen him before. And apparently, neither had Dad or uncle Dean. They all stared at uncle Cas in confusion, wondering why he had brought the man to the bunker. Uncle Cas's blue eyes were full of such seriousness and anger that it gave Jessica a chill.

“This is Alexander, the keeper of Heaven's scrolls,” uncle Cas explained, pulling on the man's collar, “and we are going to interrogate him.”

Gabriel sighed again as he glanced around his and Jude's new prison. The metal bars stretched up and around them, boxing them in on every side. Though he would never admit it to his frightened ten-year-old nephew, being stuck in a cage made Gabriel feel sick. He hated the thought of not being able to fly wherever or whenever he wanted. Being trapped inside a celestial cage was something that Gabriel avidly tried to avoid his entire life. Especially after hearing what it did to his brother... and now that he was looking out through the bars from the inside, Gabe could feel sudden claustrophobia rearing its ugly head. Ugh. The angel trap at the park was both clever and understandable. But why, oh why, did it have to lead to a freaking cage?

“Uncle Gabe?” Jude's voice sounded so squeaky and small in the silence, “Why are we in this place?”

The poor kid was clinging to Gabe's waist with a death grip, shivering like a leaf on a tree. The archangel reached down to pat Jude's shoulder, hoping to calm the kid – and himself – down.

“Well,” Gabe mumbled with a shrug, “If I was a betting angel, I'd say it's because someone wanted to keep us here.”

Jude was quiet for a second. He just blinked his blue eyes and looked around the cage.

“... Like those animals at the zoo?” he replied.

Gabe gave a single hard chuckle, half from amusement and half from terror. Why did that innocent observation make his skin crawl?

“Yeah,” Gabriel gulped, “like animals at the zoo...”

The last thing Gabriel ever wanted to be was a bird in a cage. Now, he felt bad about walking by those parrots at the zoo the day before and squawking at them. At least their enclosure was bigger than the one he and Jude were stuck in at the moment. The two of them only had a measly twelve square feet to move around in and Gabe could probably reach up and touch the bars overhead. This cage was probably way smaller than the one that his brother Luci was currently trapped in, right? This sorry excuse for a box could not be the standard size of Heaven's jail cells.

“Can you fly us home, uncle Gabe?” Jude asked, tilting his head up to look at Gabe with those ocean eyes.

Ah, dammit. That little face made Gabriel's heart ache. He knew that Jude hated flying, so hearing the poor kid ask for it really struck a chord in the archangel's soul.

“Unfortunately, I can't,” Gabriel admitted.

The archangel walked the nephilim close to the wall of bars and lit up his hand again. Gabriel's golden grace shined on the metal rods and glistened against the poorly etched marks all along each one.

“See those little notches, kid?” Gabe pointed out, “That's an Enochian spell. Arguably the most powerful spell ever created. My dad made it himself. And our grace can't break through it. The only way to open this cage is from the outside. We're pretty much stuck here, Jude.”

Obviously, that was a terrible choice of words because horror flashed across Jude's little face. His arms squeezed Gabriel's waist tighter and he let out a tiny whimper. Crap. Gabriel really needed to start monitoring his own words...

“Uh, don't worry, though. It's going to be okay, lil' guy,” Gabriel quickly amended, using his friendliest voice and patting Jude's shoulder again, “You know how I know?”

Jude glanced down for a second to think, using his fingers to play with the fabric of Gabe's jacket.

“... because Jessie told you?” he eventually mumbled.

The mention of his daughter made Gabriel's heart thump painfully inside his ribcage. Jessica's beautiful face had appeared in his mind and he suddenly missed her like crazy. Poor little bunny. Was she okay? Was she with her Daddy? Oh, shit, Sam was probably losing his mind right now. Their entire family was probably going crazy wondering what happened to him and Jude. Gabe really hoped that Castiel would remember the circular sigil on the ground was Michael's trap. He hoped that his family would be able to find this cage before someone else did...

“Uh, no,” Gabe mumbled, shaking his head and putting on his best smile, “I know we're gonna be alright because... I know your dads pretty well. And they will never stop looking until they find you. Plus, your uncle Sam and your cousin Jessie are the smartest angels in the world. They're all gonna come here and break us out of this cage. I promise.”

Gabriel's little speech seemed to have erased whatever doubt he had accidentally put into Jude's mind. A tiny smile briefly appeared on Jude's face and he hugged Gabe's waist instead of squeezing it. Afterward, he finally let go to fiddle with his own fingers and look around again. Gabriel joined him, peering out between the bars to search for anything recognizable or useful.

The room in which the cage was sitting didn't have any natural light. In fact, the only source of light in the area was coming from Gabe's hand. It cast a golden shine on the empty room around them, showing that there wasn't anything else in it. The ceiling was really high and appeared to be made out of metal, almost like a warehouse or garage, and the floor was a solid sheet of stone. The walls beyond the cage were plain but dirty, with spots of ash or soil splattered across some of the blank surfaces. It looked like there was one door straight across from the cage, but it was shut. And a very large square piece of wood was nailed to the wall opposite the cage, which Gabriel assumed was a boarded up window. The whole sight of the room was boring and lonely and it made Gabe wonder. Were they still on Earth? Or was this cage in Hell? Or Purgatory? Or even Heaven? He had no way of finding out as long as they were trapped.

The lack of light also made Gabriel wonder where the captors were. What kind of person sets up a trap for angels, catches them, and then leaves them alone in a cage? Surely, they wanted to see the prize they captured, right? Whoever caught Jude and Gabe must have been getting desperate. Putting a trap at a playground was a pretty low thing to do. Whoever did it obviously wanted to have Jude and Jessica – but they got Jude and Gabriel instead. Huh. Gabe wondered how the captors were going to feel when they walked in to realize that they got Jessie's pissed-off archangel father instead of her...

Gabriel was actually very relieved to be in Jessica's place. Not only did he know that Jess was safe with Sam, but Gabe knew that Jude really needed an adult right now. The little boy would have been a wreck if he ended up in this cage alone. Gabriel didn't even want to think about the fear and anxiety that Jude would be going through if Gabe hadn't been hanging onto the kid's shoulder when he fell into the trap. While it was bad that they were in a cage, it was good that they were together. They really needed each other to make it through this.

Now, Jude was timidly inching all around the edge of the cage, shuffling his little feet and staring out at the room beyond the bars. Gabe stood in the middle and watched him, listening closely to hear the kid's voice. Jude was mumbling something under his breath and nervously rubbing his hands together. But Gabe couldn't understand what he was saying.

“What is it, Jude?” Gabriel eventually asked out loud.

Jude's feet finally stopped and he turned to look at his uncle again. The boy's face was so pale that it put Gabe in mind of Casper the friendly ghost.

“I'm praying to Papa. But he isn't saying anything back,” Jude explained, his voice still high.

Gabe exhaled woefully. Poor little naïve kid. Jude still didn't realize the gravity of this awful situation, did he? His unbridled innocence made a somber smile return to Gabe's face.

“I hate to break it to you, but that spell won't let prayers pass through it either,” Gabe admitted, “Sorry, Champ. Nobody can hear us from here.”

The pain that grew across Jude's expression made Gabriel cringe. Ugh, he hated seeing that pitiful look. It only seemed to get worse as seconds ticked by. Jude's youthful face slowly scrunched with disappointment and sadness, and his blue eyes eventually started to glisten. A heartbreaking whimper slipped out of his mouth and he finally started crying. Gabe instantly lurched over to wrap both arms around the ten-year-old and hug him close. Jude was always a tender little soul. Gabe should have known better than to be blunt like that.

“Hey, it's alright, little man,” Gabriel soothed, purposefully using Dean's nickname to comfort him, “Your uncle Gabe is going to keep you safe until our family comes to get us. I bet your dads and uncle Sam are working on it right now. They'll be here in no time, ready to tackle you with hugs and kisses.”

At this point, Gabriel was saying anything to calm Jude down. The sound of his tiny sobs echoing around the room were ripping Gabe's heart to shreds. Luckily, the archangel's exaggerated motivational encouragement seemed to work. Jude's crying quieted down to gentle whimpers and eventually faded out, but Gabe didn't let go of him. The archangel softly pat his nephew's back for a few extra minutes, wanting to comfort him as much as possible.

“Uncle Gabe?” Jude mumbled from the edge of Gabe's shoulder.

“Yeah?” Gabe whispered back.

“Do you think Jessie is okay?” the kid asked.

Again, Jessica's gorgeous face popped into Gabriel's mind and it made his stomach ache. But he knew that she was fine. It must have been a papa's intuition or something, but Gabriel just knew in his heart that his baby girl was completely safe. It was sweet that Jude was worried about her though, given that he was the one in a cage.

“Oh, I know she is, Jude. That lil' rabbit is one tough girl. I bet she's helping everyone look for us, too,” the archangel replied, staring down at the top of Jude's spiky brown hair.

For another second, Jude was quiet. Gabriel hated the silence that occupied the cage in the meantime. It was too freaking quiet in here! Where was all the noise? Gabriel severely missed hearing Dickie panting, whining, and barking. He would have given anything to have his dog with him in that moment.

“How do you know so much about this cage, uncle Gabe?” Jude asked, finally breaking the silence again.

“Well,” Gabriel sighed, finally letting go of Jude and wandering over to knock on one of the bars, “This isn't the first angel cage I've seen, kiddo.”

“It's not?” Jude prompted, obviously wanting to hear more.

Gabriel was glad that his nephew was so eager to learn some facts, but he wasn't sure how to go about answering the kid's questions. It was no secret that Sam, Dean, Cas, and Gabriel all tried their best to keep the bad family history hidden from Jude and Jessie. They were trying to spare the children from the horror and grief since they were both so young. But now that he was literally stuck in a cage with Jude, Gabe figured that it was time that the kid found out a few things.

“Nope. There's another one out there. It's in Hell, where uncle Crowley lives,” Gabe carefully explained, “Your Grandpa built that one for your other uncle a long time ago...”

Gabe thought it was probably to soon to mention Lucifer by name. But his statement made curiosity grow in Jude's eyes anyway. The kid blinked up at Gabe and moved closer, no longer crying but fully enveloped in wonder.

“I – I have another uncle?” Jude asked.

Gabriel cringed internally at the sound of happiness underlying Jude's voice. He sounded so glad to hear that he had more family. Little did he know that his other uncle was a great big bag of dicks...

Before Gabriel could elaborate, a gust of wind swept through the bars of the cage.

As soon as the archangel felt the breeze tickle the back of his neck, he reached out to take hold of Jude's arm. Someone else had entered the room and Gabriel was pretty sure that it wasn't one of the Winchesters. With one hand clutching his nephew protectively, Gabriel held up the other and let his grace shine even brighter to illuminate the room. A few yards away, a figure was leaning up against the wall near the door, but their head was down so he couldn't see their face. Gabriel strained to see the person when they started to hobble closer, noticing that their stride was broken as if they were limping. The closer the figure got to the cage, the more nervous Gabriel became. By the time the person paused and lifted their head to reveal their face, Gabe's heart was pounding.

It was Naomi, one of Gabe's little sisters. But Gabriel barely recognized her at all. The left side of her face had been warped with scars and burns. Her left eye was solid white as if she had gone partially blind, and half of her head was bald and calloused with scar tissue. She was holding her left arm close to her chest as if it had been previously injured. The only way Gabriel knew that it was Naomi was by the light of her grace and the sight of her wings, which appeared to be worn and weathered. Holy shit, what happened to her? It looked like she had literally been through hell and back. Why didn't she heal herself? Maybe she couldn't...

When Naomi looked up to see Gabriel and Jude standing in the cage, her flat expression never changed. Gabriel half expected her to be surprised to see him instead of Jessie, but she was indifferent. More than anything, Naomi looked weary and slightly annoyed. Her good eye narrowed in on Jude, which made Gabriel step in front of him. He didn't like the way Naomi looked at his nephew; like he was a bug that needed to be squashed. While Gabriel stood between Jude and their captor, Naomi's lone eye shifted to him instead.

“Where is the other nephilim?” she asked, carefully pronouncing every syllable.

Her voice was lower and more gravelly than Gabe remembered, like some of her vocal cords were damaged. But her question just made him smile. Ah, it always felt kind of nice to be one step ahead of the bad guys for once.

“Not here,” Gabriel replied with a smirk, “You got me instead.”

Chapter Text

Gabe was pretty sure that Naomi would be upset when he oh-so pompously refused to answer her question about his daughter's whereabouts. And from inside a cage, no less. He honestly thought that she would go ape-shit and try banging on the bars with her fists like an animal or something... But no. Naomi was the embodiment of calm in that moment. Her sight wandered over Gabriel's entire form, trying to steal another glance at Jude who was peeking timidly out from behind Gabe's back when she let out a small sigh.

“Then you will have to do... For now...” she muttered under her breath, “I'm running out of options anyway...”

Gabe narrowed his eyes. What the hell was she talking about? What was she trying to do? Why did she want Jude and Jessica? And what was the point of this stupid cage?! Gabriel was so damn sick of his kin interrupting his happy life. The archangel's glare deepened toward his sister and he could feel rage swelling in his chest. Enough with this beating-around-the-bush bullshit! He wanted answers, dammit!

“Look, Naomi, I don't know what's going on or why you're pulling a Freddy Krueger cosplay,” Gabriel said, shoving Jude further behind his back and raising his glowing hand higher, “So just tell me what the hell you want from us. Are you trying to wipe out the Winchesters or something? Huh? Is that it? 'Cause if it is, I've got news for you, honey. It ain't happening.”

“Wipe out the Winchesters?” Naomi repeated with a smile so big that Gabriel could have mistook it for genuine amusement, “You... You really think me that powerful? Or naïve? It's clear that our Father favors the Winchesters above anyone else, Gabriel. No one is stupid enough to even try killing any of you. God loves you and will protect you, which is more than I can say for the rest of us...”

Gabriel gulped hard when he realized that Naomi was including him in the Winchesters and excluding him from his own family. The archangel was shunned by his other siblings for being involved with the world's greatest hunters. Naomi obviously knew that their Father had come to speak with the Winchesters a few times over the past eight years to show them some love. And the bitterness in her voice made it evident that she was jealous about it. But how was being God's favorite any of their fault? She couldn't blame Jude or Jessica for being the guy's grandkids...

“So, you're trying to punish my daughter and nephew because you think Dad loves them more than you?” Gabriel guessed out loud, “Wow, sis. That's really petty.”

The tiny smile that had been etched across Naomi's scarred face quickly disappeared. A small glare took its place and she tilted her head like she was offended.

“Of course you would assume that this is all about you and your 'precious' offspring,” she mumbled with acid, “No, Gabriel. This situation has nothing to do with petty favoritism or wiping out bloodlines... It's much bigger than all of that...”

Gabriel felt like he had heard this bullshit before. His siblings always made things sound more horrific than they actually were. And when Naomi saw the indifference lingering on Gabriel's face, determination swept over her own. Her bottom jaw clinched and she spun around to hobble to the far wall. She kept her left arm drawn close to her torso but used the other to grab the wooden board nailed there. With a few hard tugs, Naomi yanked the board free and dropped it to the floor, revealing the cracked window behind it.

Gabe stepped as close to the bars of the cage as he could to see through the broken glass. The air outside the room was dark gray, like a huge billow of smoky haze had settled around the place. At eye-level, the dark fog was so thick that Gabriel could hardly see anything beyond it. There were a few jagged trees with broken limbs and bushes that appeared to be smoldering, like they had been on fire. But near the ground, he could see bodies. Lifeless corpses where cast all over the place; some with missing limbs, some with burned skin, some that were already decaying. The harder Gabriel strained to see, the more he realized that each body had a set of wings burned around them. Holy shit. Those were angels. Those were Gabriel's brothers and sisters. And they were all dead. He counted at least twelve of them close to the window on the ground. And those were just the ones that he could see. Beyond the dark fog, there were bound to be more.

It looked like a post-war battlefield out there. Like scenery straight from World War II. The gray and disturbing atmosphere made Gabriel realize that this must have been Purgatory, which meant the building was planted in the middle of it. He heard a tiny squeak come from behind him and he quickly stepped in front of Jude again, trying to shield the poor kid from the traumatic view outside. Beside the window, Naomi narrowed her good eye toward her brother and took a single step closer to the cage.

“What's the matter, Gabriel? Don't you recognize your own home?” she hissed.

Pure horror descended on Gabriel's heart and he blinked at his sister in shock. What? This was Heaven? No, it couldn't be Heaven. Heaven was a pure place, always lit up with white light; a combination of every angel's aura. Gabriel's birthplace had comforting vistas; beautiful shores, rolling meadows, sunshine, all that good stuff. It was a place without darkness, a place where the weary souls of mankind could finally rest. That's the way their Father made it... But this was not that place. It was a war zone. A cemetery. A smoke-clouded field of death. How the hell did this happen?

The question must have been clear to see on Gabe's stunned face because Naomi exhaled again and turned to join him in looking at the sea of corpses outside the window.

“Things were never easy after our Father left. Of course, you wouldn't know that. You left, too,” she spat bitterly, “But those of us who remained tried to cope and bring about some kind of order. It started with a council of high-ranking angels. Michael, Raphael, and a few others. For a while, the makeshift democracy ran smoothly. Until we sent Castiel to save Dean Winchester from Hell...”

Gabriel didn't breathe a word. He actually wanted to hear how things went wrong from Heaven's point of view; the side he stopped looking from long ago. At the mention of Cas and Dean's names, Gabriel could feel Jude's small hand tightening around his arm with concern.

“I truly believed we were doing the right thing by starting the Apocalypse all those years ago,” Naomi breathed into the silence, “According to Michael, the defeat of Lucifer would at least get our Father's attention. And we desperately needed God to come back, because the council was slowly falling apart. Michael and Raphael were beginning to fight for dominance. And Michael swore that when he won the battle against Lucifer, Heaven would be his... But you know how the rest of that story goes...”

Gabriel sighed. Yeah, he knew the old song and dance. The Winchesters foiled the angels' plan by throwing Michael and Lucifer into the cage, using Sam and their brother Adam as vessels. Only Sam was saved later, much to Gabriel's relief. Man, Michael's absence from Heaven must have made a big difference.

“With Michael gone, Raphael claimed that he was the new ruler of Heaven,” Naomi confirmed in a solemn tone, “But the rest of the broken council refused to bow to him. Small fights began to break out and I feared that our peaceful situation was at an end... And then, out of the blue, we received word that a nephilim had come into being...”

Naomi turned on her heel to face the cage again, where her lone eye zeroed in on Jude. The kid nestled himself further into Gabe's back and the archangel shielded him as best he could.

“An angel had mated with a human and conceived an offspring,” Naomi said, “I must confess that I had a feeling that it was Castiel before it was confirmed. Castiel, the rebel. And Dean Winchester, the hairless ape that refused to host Michael. They had created a nephilim together. And the news spread through Heaven faster than a plague upon Egypt. It wasn't long before angels began to question its existence. Why would God allow this nephilim to live when he slaughtered countless others near the beginning of time? This nephilim was obviously special. And powerful. And I soon learned that Metatron, the lowly scribe, planned to kidnap the nephilim in order to rule Heaven himself.”

“But he didn't even get close enough to touch him,” Gabriel sternly reminded, able to feel Jude shivering at his back, “You took Sam too, remember? Tried to torture information out of him? I burned a few of you myself for that little mistake.”

“Ah. But that wasn't me,” Naomi denied, hobbling closer to the cage, “I had no idea that Metatron was attacking you until he was already dead. And his death must have frightened Raphael somehow, because he soon fled Heaven as well. We weren't sure why he left or where he went. Maybe to find God, maybe to make a new plan, maybe to restart the Apocalypse. But once again, Heaven was without leadership, so I petitioned for the role myself. And soon, we learned that yet another nephilim had been created...”

Gabriel gulped again, realizing that she was talking about his daughter. Yep. Jude and Jessie were only five months apart. It wouldn't have taken long for the angels to hear about her birth either.

“Clearly, the Winchesters had taken quite the liking to angel grace,” she snipped angrily, “I continued to monitor the situation from Heaven. Watched the nephilim slowly grow. And I began to wonder – why would our Father allow these creatures to live? Especially with the Winchesters, who had no idea what they were truly capable of -”

They're not creatures! They're our children!” Gabriel suddenly snapped.

He was pissed that Naomi kept referring to Jude and Jess like they were aliens or something. They weren't creatures! They were kids! The Winchester's biological children! Were Jude's freckles and Jessica's eyes not enough proof?! Naomi only paused for a brief second before returning to her story as if Gabriel never spoke.

“I decided to send angels to talk to Sam Winchester,” she said, voice the same low tone it was before, “Surely the man would see reason and allow the female nephilim to live with us in Heaven, were it could be safely guarded and nurtured. But the nephilim was already strong. It vaporized all three of my consorts in the blink of an eye.”

“And into purple glitter, I might add,” Gabriel proudly reminded, “That was my idea, by the way. I hope you liked it.”

Gabe was sure that his sarcastic comments would get some kind of response from Naomi. But she just continued on like a professor in the middle of a lecture.

“After that encounter, I decided to keep an eye on the situation from afar. Because other things were beginning to happen in Heaven,” she mumbled, “Angels were disappearing and turning up dead. And after a year of random loss of celestial life, Raphael returned. He gathered everyone together and announced that he was coming back to rule Heaven once more... and that if anyone refused to comply, they would be met with death. He explained that he had ventured into Purgatory and 'made a few new friends' out of the Leviathan...”

“Leviathan?” Gabriel repeated in shock, “What did he want with -?”

“Raphael gave us twenty-four hours to think things over, but there wasn't much to think about. I believe he was trying to see if anyone would flee or try to turn against him so that he could make an example of them,” Naomi uttered, “and in that time, I devised a plan. I knew that those two powerful nephilim were still in Kansas, because I had spotted them at a human dwelling for some kind of event.”

'Oliver's fifth birthday party', Gabriel thought.

“And so, with quick and careful planning, I attempted to capture the nephilim before Raphael discovered them. I thought that if we had the nephilim, we could use them to our advantage,” Naomi explained, “I briefly succeeded in capturing the one currently hidden behind your back, along with a human spare. But its power far surpassed my own. Before I could get the nephilim into a holding cell, it flew back to Earth. Leaving us empty handed and with no choice but to surrender to Raphael and his legion of Leviathan.”

Naomi paused to raise her hand to her face, where she drew her fingertips along the deep scar on her cheekbone. Gabriel's heart actually ached as he watched his sister's eyes turn vacant and fearful as if she was reliving some kind of nightmare in her mind. A small tear escaped her good eye and slid down to drip from her chin before she spoke with despair.

“For five years, Heaven has been a virtual slave to Raphael and his will,” she almost whispered, “At first, a few of us tried to resist, but we have all been broken into submission. Every time we try to coordinate and plan a rebellion, the Leviathan track us down with angel blades in hand. I did my best to cling to hope; to the idea that Heaven might one day be restored to its former glory... But that dream was crushed two days ago. When Raphael attempted genocide on his own race...”

The air fled Gabriel's lungs in a whistling breath. Two days ago? That was the day the Winchesters traveled to Kansas City. That was the day he heard that terrible noise in his head. The screeching prayer that worried every angel in the family... Was that the sound of genocide?

“Wh – what did he do?” Gabriel huffed, unable to even move.

Naomi blinked another tear away before raising her hand to point toward the window. Beyond the glass, smoky air hung over the field of angel corpses like a bleak abyss. Gabriel stared out at the wartime sight again with a new and terrifying perspective. This place – a place that used to be so beautiful, pure, and full of light – was the scene of a crime. Raphael – Gabriel's brother – had betrayed his own kind. He had chosen Leviathan over his own flesh and blood. He murdered the angels without a second thought. Just for a shot at ultimate power...

“Why... Why would he... What... How many...” Gabriel sputtered in disbelief.

“There are but a handful of us left,” Naomi answered, wiping the moisture from her scarred face, “We've sought refuge among the dead by building small huts and cloaking them from view. In fact, you're standing in one right now. Raphael is quiet. We believe he is regrouping his Leviathan army and planning his next move. This distraction will buy us a few days.”

“A few days?” Gabe repeated.

“Yes. And in that time, I will need your compliance, Gabriel,” Naomi said back.

She paused again to reach down and grab the wooden board from the floor. With a bit of grace, she carefully replaced it over the window, covering up the view of corpses and the source of light. Gabriel's glowing hand was back to being the only illumination in the room. After she sealed them away again, Naomi turned to glance back at Gabriel and Jude through the bars.

“You and that tiny nephilim are the only leverage I have left,” she breathed, voice hollow and cold, “You will remain here, out of Raphael's reach, until the others and I decide how best to use your gifts -”

“Use us?! No, you can't use us!” Gabriel growled, “We don't want any part of this! You assholes got yourselves into this mess! We didn't have a damn thing to do with this!”

Naomi flew up to grab the bars of the cage and press her glaring, scarred face toward Gabriel. The archangel took a step back at the sudden motion, fearing that she might try to grab Jude in her suddenly furious state.

You abandoned us!” she shouted, making her voice echo and Jude bury himself into Gabe's back, “You! Michael! God! You all left! … And I am trying to gather the pieces of this broken home that you abandoned, so if you are able to help us, then I will make sure you do! I don't need your consent! I need your grace!”

A cold shiver raced down Gabriel's spine as he blinked toward his sister's distorted face. Naomi really did have the power to make him comply. She was Heaven's official brainwasher, and she was at the end of her rope; so desperate to have her home back that she was willing to sacrifice more innocent lives to make it happen. But Gabriel was determined to keep Jude safe. He would never let his nephew anywhere near her or Raphael.

Gabriel and Naomi glared at each other for a few tense seconds before Naomi let go of the bars of the cage and stepped away. Once she was moving, Gabe relaxed his stance around Jude to follow her trajectory. She was suddenly speaking without looking back.

“I'll return as soon as possible,” she muttered, voice calmer than before, “Try to remain sane until then.”

Naomi flew out of the room before Gabriel could give her another witty retort. Part of him was glad that she was gone, but another part felt nervous about it. What if something happened to her? What if she was the only one that knew where this cage was? What if Gabriel and Jude were trapped forever in an invisible hut on the middle of a battlefield in Heaven? The thought made Gabriel's stomach turn and his heart race with dread.

Once Naomi was gone, Jude finally stepped out from behind Gabe's back. The kid shuffled forward and raised his head to stare out into the vacant room before turning around to look up at his uncle. Jude's face was pale and he was chewing on his bottom lip, but there was a tiny bit of curiosity mixing in with the terror in his eyes.

“What does that Naomi lady want from us, uncle Gabe?” Jude whispered, “and who were all those people she talked about?”

Gabriel exhaled a deep and shaky sigh. Well, it seemed like the time had finally come for Jude to hear all about his angel side of the family. The archangel slowly sat down on the cage floor and patted the space next to him.

“You might as well park it, Superman,” Gabe huffed, “This is gonna be a long story...”

Dean had no idea who this Alexander guy was, where Cas found him, or why Cas thought that interrogating him would give them answers. But Dean was so worried and upset about his missing son that he obediently followed along with whatever his husband suggested. The only objective Dean cared about was getting his son back, safe and sound. And if interrogating a random angel would help, he was all game for it.

Less than two hours after Jude and Gabriel disappeared, the oldest Winchester found himself in the lowest dungeon of the bunker with Cas, Sam, and the bloodied angel Alexander. Sam left Jessica upstairs in the kitchen with Gabe's dog, wanting to keep her far away from the graphic action that was surely going to take place. Cas tied the other angel to a chair with some Enochian handcuffs, so the guy wasn't going anywhere. Dean assumed that he and Sam would get to ask Alexander some questions, but so far, Cas had taken the whole thing over.

It had been a long time since Dean saw his angelic husband act so ruthlessly. It was like Cas had slipped back into his old self; the person he was before Dean met him. There was a low-burning fire in his blue eyes and a cruelness about his demeanor. Cas was speaking without remorse, barking his questions rather than asking, and harassing Alexander when he didn't receive answers fast enough. Cas wasn't the sweet, innocent, loving angel that Dean married. He was suddenly Castiel, one of heaven's most brutal and terrifying soldiers.

The blue eyed angel dragged the edge of his chrome blade across both knees of their captive, making Alexander fill the room with a painful shriek. Dean suppressed the flinch that threatened to shiver down his body at the sound. He wanted to keep a stone-cold appearance to back up Cas.

“The trap,” Cas growled, pointing the sharp end of his blade toward Alexander's chest, “Who placed it at the park? Where is my son?”

Alexander was shaking so hard in the chair that the metal cuffs were clinking together. His entire face was bruised, bloody, and swollen, so mangled that Dean could barely tell which expression he was making. But his voice was full of fear when he spoke.

“I – I don't know! I s – swear!” he croaked, accidentally spraying blood from his lips, “I left Heaven years ago, Castiel! Please! I don't know anyth - !”

Before the guy even finished his sentence, Cas was using the sharp edge of his blade to pierce the guy's chest. Cas drew it across Alexander's torso with one long slip, slicing him with enough force to make light shine from his skin and another scream escape his lungs. Dean couldn't help but flinch this time. Geez, Cas was being so vicious...

Gnay ip doalim adversus gi esiasch!” Cas boomed in Enochian, narrowing his eyes into slits, “My son. Gabriel. The cage. Where are they?”

Alexander stared down at the wound on his own chest before raising his head and sobbing loudly.

“I w – would tell you if I knew,” he nodded feverishly, making the tears and sweat drip from his chin, “but I fled, Castiel. I abandoned Heaven. It – its no longer our home. I do not know where your son is!”

Alexander's answer only made Cas lash out with another sharp cut. The slice was deeper this time, drawn across the angel's shoulder. The poor bastard was howling in pain and cringing in the chair. Dean winced at the pitiful scream. The sound must have effected Sammy too, because he huffed a breath and leaned over to whisper.

“This is getting out of hand, Dean. The guy obviously doesn't know anything,” Sam squeaked.

The logical part of Dean's mind agreed with his brother. Of course the guy didn't know anything, otherwise he would have already said it by now. But Dean's emotional side was a little suspicious. What did Alexander know? Cas probably kidnapped him for a reason, right? Wanting some answers of his own, Dean stepped up to his husband's side to look down at the bleeding angel in the chair.

“Alright, scroll-keeper,” Dean mumbled condescendingly, “What do you know? What made you leave Heaven? Who's in charge up there?”

Alexander raised his head to meet Dean's stare with a pair of swollen, black eyes.

“R – Raphael,” he squeaked, “He has... formed an army of Leviathan. And used it to take over Heaven. Many of us fled beforehand, but now... Now, I don't know what is going on... Please, you must believe me! I would never harm your offspring! I would never trap Gabriel! Please, I beg you! Have mercy!”

Mercy?” Cas replied breathlessly, flipping the blade handle upside down in his hand, “I will show you the same mercy that Heaven has shown my child!”

Before Dean knew it, Cas was slicing up Alexander's entire chest. The sleeve of his tan trench coat was blurring with every swipe, each stab growing harder and more deliberate. Alexander cried out in agony, begging for Cas to stop, and it was making Dean uncomfortable. The man reached out to halt Cas's lethal actions – but it was too late. One scratch went too deep and Alexander's grace suddenly blasted through the room. Dean shielded his eyes and turned away just in time to feel it exploding. The angel gave out one last cry before silence settled in the air. Dean slowly blinked his eyes open and spun around to look at Cas in shock. Alexander was motionless and slumped over in the chair, but Cas just stood there in front of his dead brother like a heartless statue. Holy shit! Cas just killed the guy without even meaning to!

“Cas?” Dean breathed.

To be honest, Dean was a little scared to touch Cas after what he just saw. He didn't know what state of mind Cas was in right now. But the angel eventually dropped the bloody blade from his hand and turned around to walk away.

“I will get another angel for interrogation,” he muttered flatly.

What? Another angel? Hell no! Dean didn't want a dungeon full of angel corpses! The man reached out to grab his husband by the coat.

“Cas, wait,” Dean called, “Baby, listen -”

“No, Dean, you listen!” Cas suddenly barked.

The angel shoved the man up against the wall and pinned him there with strong hands, but Dean wasn't afraid. He just stared into Cas's blue eyes and did what he was told. He listened to what Cas had to say, because Cas suddenly looked more like himself in that moment – like the sweet, caring angel that Dean loved – than he had all day.

“They've taken Jude!” Cas whimpered, finally letting his guard down, “They've taken our son! Our son is gone! Our child! My... My baby, Dean! My baby is gone!”

Cas's pretty face was full of anguish and his blue eyes were filling with tears. The longer he stared at Dean and sobbed, the more his hands slipped away and it seemed like he was going to collapse. Dean quickly wrapped both of his arms around his angel to hold him tight and calm him down. Cas's body had never felt so weak in Dean's grasp before; fragile and shaky. Dean cradled the back of Cas's dark head of hair to bring his ear close enough to whisper.

“Cas, I'm here,” Dean promised, trying to hold back tears of his own, “It's gonna be okay. We're going to find Jude. He's smart and persistent, just like you. Gabe's gonna take care of him until we can get there.”

While Cas softly cried into Dean's shoulder, Dean looked up to see Sam standing by with worry. The tall kid was watching all of this happen with glistening eyes and crossed arms, seeming unsure of what to do or say. He was obviously scared and missing his archangel. The sight reminded Dean of when John would come home late at night when they were kids; how Sam would be expecting a hug, only to get shoved out of the way instead. Sam was making the exact same face now in the middle of the bunker dungeon. And that look made Dean realize that he had to be the strong one. Cas and Sam both needed someone to take charge and make the calls, and Dean felt like he had been preparing for it his whole life.

“Hey. Look at me, baby,” he said, slowly lifting Cas's head up to hold his tear-stained face, “I need you to do something. I need you to fly to Bobby's house and bring him and Crowley here, okay? The more man power we have, the better chance we've got of finding Jude and Gabriel. Can you do that?”

Dean's suggestion seemed to be just enough of a distraction to help Cas get a hold of himself. The angel stood up straight and wiped the moisture from his eyes, sniffling but nodding along.

“I can,” he wheezed, “I will retrieve them.”

Cas spared a quick kiss to Dean's open mouth and the man could practically taste the seriousness in it.

“I love you, Dean,” the angel reminded in a hushed and broken voice.

“I love you too, Cas,” Dean repeated firmly.

When Cas disappeared from the room, Dean realized how much of a mess they had made. Alexander's vessel was still slumped in the chair and dripping blood, and the angel blade had rolled across the floor, painting red everywhere. It was a horrible scene. Dean sighed as he walked over to pick up the weapon and wipe the blood off the chrome. His eyes briefly looked at Alexander's corpse again. Poor bastard. He probably didn't deserve to die like that...

“Sammy,” Dean said, turning to give his little brother a comforting look, “You should go upstairs and be with Jessica. It's probably not a good idea for her to be alone right now.”

Sam nodded along with Dean's suggestion, but gestured forward.

“What about you?” he mumbled.

Dean turned away to hide the somber smirk that flashed on his face. Even with everything that was going on, Sam was still worried about his older brother.

“First, I'm gonna shut and lock that door until we figure out what to do with this body,” he answered truthfully, “Then, I'll probably head upstairs to put on a pot of coffee. I'm pretty sure its going to be a long night for all of us.”

Sam gulped and ran a hand through his long hair. He didn't seem to want to leave Dean alone, so Dean shut and locked the door with Sam beside him. Dean really did feel bad about how Alexander met his end, but there wasn't much he could do about it now. The Winchester brothers locked up the dungeon doors and went up the stairs together, both silent until they reached the upper floor.

Sam made a detour at the kitchen when he saw Jessica sitting all alone at the table nibbling on an apple. Dean stood in the doorway and watched his brother sit down to comfort Jessica. Sammy's method for comforting her was much different than the one Dean used to comfort Cas. Sam tried bringing up the weather, historical topics, facts about the solar system; basically anything he could think of to distract his ten-year-old daughter from the horror that was happening around them. Dean admired Sammy's dedication to keeping Jessie calm at a time like this, especially since the guy was torn up about it himself.

Once he saw that Sam and Jessica were okay, Dean continued down the hallway. His mission – the mission he gave himself to keep his mind occupied – was to go to the garage and get all the luggage out of the SUV. Dean knew that it wasn't a very important thing to do at the moment, but he needed to do something. Anything to keep himself from falling apart while Cas was gone.

But unfortunately, the route to the garage led right passed Jude's room and Dean's feet stopped dead in their tracks.

Even though he knew it would break his heart, Dean slowly turned to look inside his child's room. All of Jude's things were exactly the way he left them; Batman night-light glowing in the corner, Superman comforter spread out on his bed, colorful map hung perfectly over his headboard, dresser filled with clothes, bookshelves filled with books, little blue tennis shoes side-by-side on the floor... but as warm and inviting as it looked, the room made Dean feel empty and cold. Because Jude wasn't there.

Warm tears swelled in the man's eyes as he slowly shuffled into his child's bedroom. His lungs were instantly filled with that smell. Jude's scent. The one he had since he was born. The more Dean breathed, the more his heart broke. Ugh, where was a crossroads demon when he needed one? Dean was willing to sell his soul to anyone to get his son back...

Once inside, Dean fell down to sit on Jude's bed before he toppled over with grief. Why would someone kidnap a child? Why would someone rip a child away from their parents and leave them to suffer like this? All Dean wanted was to hold Jude in his arms and tell him that it was going to be alright. But he couldn't even do that. Was Dean a shitty father because this happened on his watch? Oh God, what if he was turning out to be just like his own old man said he was? Dean shuttered and let out a tiny sob on the bed.

While horrible thoughts plagued Dean's mind, he caught sight of Jude's stuffed bee sitting on the bedside table. The thing was worn and frayed around the edges where Jude had cuddled it so much, but it was still as cute as the day he was born. A sad, tiny smile appeared on Dean's lips as he reached over to pick up his son's favorite toy and turn it over in his hands.

A memory slowly surfaced in Dean's mind while he held the plush bee. A memory from when Jude was only a toddler learning to talk. Dean couldn't understand why Jude had such a difficult time saying 'Bee' when he said 'Jessie' so clearly. One afternoon, while they were visiting Bobby, Dean sat Jude down in his lap on the couch in the study and tried to teach him how to say it...

Jude, say 'Bee',” Dean prompted sweetly.

Jude only smiled up at Dean with chubby cheeks and a few tiny teeth and said, “Buh!”

No, son,” Dean chuckled, “Say 'Jessie.'”

Jessie,” Jude repeated instantly.

Now say 'Bee',” Dean instructed.

Buh!” Jude smiled proudly.

Dean only laughed and gave up his plight. It wasn't until much later that he realized his son was trying to say Bumble Bee instead. That was what Jude named his toy because he always heard Cas call it by its full name. The sweet and tender memory made Dean smile for a minute... but then, it made him feel even worse than before. Jude was ten, now. He could speak clearly. But he wasn't happy. He wasn't safe. He was locked away in a cage somewhere and Dean couldn't get to him. The promise Dean made him a few days before, about always being there to save him, seemed to be just a lie. Dean couldn't save him. He was the worst parent in the world...

“Uncle Dean?”

Dean looked up at the sound of Jessica's voice and quickly wiped the moisture from his eyes. He didn't want her to see him crying, just in case it made her start to cry too. The little girl was standing in the doorway of Jude's room and fiddling nervously with her hands.

“Y – yeah, Jess?” Dean asked, hoping his weak appearance didn't make her upset.

Jessica gulped and glanced down at the stuffed bee in Dean's hands before meeting his eyes again.

“We're going to get Jude and Papa back. I promise,” she said, inching a little closer, “I've seen them in lots of dreams. You and Jude are always hugging and laughing and stuff. He's going to be okay.”

It felt like a giant wave of emotion swept over Dean's entire heart. Once again, his precious niece was able to comfort him with great news from the future. After letting out a small whimper and placing Jude's bee on the bed, Dean reached both arms out to Jessica for a hug. The little girl instantly came rushing over to wrap her arms around Dean's shoulders and give him a comforting embrace, which only made Dean cry harder.

Jessica always reminded Dean of Sam when he was younger, especially when they hugged. Dean felt like one of Jessica's protectors; someone who would kill to keep her safe. But now, it was different. For once, Dean wasn't the strong one. Jessica was the strong one, and she fit the role perfectly. Her small hands were patting Dean's back so gently, and she was whispering 'It's okay, uncle Dean. It'll be okay' over and over. Seeing the future must have given her some major confidence and Dean was glad. Because he really needed a stronger person than himself in that moment, no matter how old they were.

“Thank you, Jess,” Dean muttered, unsure of what else to say.

Dean and Jessica held onto each other for a few more seconds, just comforting one another in the middle of Jude's room, until they heard Sam's voice.


Dean and Jess both looked up to see Sammy standing in the doorway with Dickie in his arms. The guy seemed kind of glad that his brother and daughter were sharing an emotional moment. He proudly glanced back and forth between them before nodding toward the hallway behind him.

“All the guys are here,” he informed, “And Rowena, too.”

Chapter Text

It took a long time for Jude to find a comfortable position to sit in. The bars on the floor of the cage were really hard under him and he kept crossing his legs so his butt wouldn't fall asleep. Plus, the room was pretty cold and it made him cross his arms tight. Uncle Gabe seemed to find it more comfortable, though. Or he just didn't care. He was propped up in one corner with his legs stretched out, but his shoulders were slumped and he looked worried; even more than he did when that Naomi lady was there a second ago.

Jude's body was uncomfortable and his heart was still hurting from everything that had happened, but his mind was full of questions. He wanted to know about all those people Naomi mentioned; about Michael and Raphael and Leviathan. And he especially wanted to know about his other uncle, the one that uncle Gabe said was in another cage like this one. Maybe that uncle was able to get out of his cage. Maybe his daddies came to rescue him, just like Jude's dads were going to rescue him and uncle Gabe.

“Tell me about those people, uncle Gabe,” Jude quietly asked, shifting his legs around again, “What happened to my other uncle? Is he still in a cage? Is that Naomi lady really your sister? Why did she put us in a cage? Why are - ?”

“Whoa, whoa. Slow down, kid,” uncle Gabe huffed, holding up his hand, “Geez, you sound just like Castiel...”

Jude gulped and held back the rest of his questions. He was kind of glad that uncle Gabe said that he sounded just like Papa. Jude loved his Papa. And remembering him made Jude miss him very much. Luckily, uncle Gabe was ready to answer all of Jude's questions, even though he looked frazzled.

“Alright,” he sighed, raking a hand through his yellow hair, “The first thing you should probably know is that your grandpa Chuck... is actually God.”

“I already knew that,” Jude mumbled.

Uncle Gabe snapped his head up to look at Jude in surprise.

“What? Really?” he asked.

“Uh-huh,” Jude nodded, “Dad told uncle Bobby about it when everybody got married, remember? I was there, too.”

Jude wasn't very surprised to learn that grandpa Chuck was God. When uncle Gabe told all those stories about God and how powerful he was, Jude always thought about grandpa Chuck anyway. Jude's answer seemed to make uncle Gabe confused for a second or two. He rubbed his chin and glanced down to stare at the bars on the floor in wonder.

“Huh,” he grunted, “Well, anyway, that's a really important detail you need to keep in mind for the next few minutes, okay?”

Jude nodded and straightened himself up on the floor again, eager to hear what uncle Gabe was about to tell him. Gabe started by lifting the light out of his hand and turning it into a floating ball. He pushed it upward and let it hover over them like a glowing balloon, giving the cage light while keeping his hands free. And when they could see each other better, uncle Gabe finally started his story.

“In the very beginning, before the world even existed, my dad – your grandpa Chuck – had four sons,” uncle Gabe said, “Michael was the oldest. Lucifer came next. Then Raphael. And... I was the youngest of the four.”

Jude stared at his uncle and listened closely, absorbing every word like a sponge in water. Uncle Gabe kept going, talking as though he was thinking of a few memories.

“We were – are – archangels. The strongest things in the universe, other than our old man, of course,” he continued, “We all lived in a perfect place called Heaven. And we helped our Father create the other angels, including your Papa. But once Heaven was full, God decided to create a place called Earth and made every living thing on it, including humans... and the humans were his favorite.”

Uncle Gabe paused to look down at his hands. He smiled for a second but it slowly faded away.

“I liked the humans. I thought they were pretty cool,” he mumbled, “but Lucifer, ever the princess, didn't agree. He didn't like the fact that God loved humans more than him, so he went down and corrupted mankind. I guess he was trying to show our Father that the humans weren't so perfect, but it only made our Father angry with him. By tricking mankind into eating fruit from the tree of knowledge, Lucifer had sentenced them to death. And for his horrible crime, God cast him out of Heaven and Michael threw him into a cage in Hell.”

“Where uncle Crowley lives,” Jude remembered.

Uncle Gabe nodded and raised his head to look at Jude again.

“Yeah,” he answered, “It wasn't meant to last forever, though. God told everyone that one day, Michael and Lucifer were going to fight each other on Earth. He called it the Apocalypse. Michael was going to be the winner, Lucifer would be defeated, and the Earth would become a second Heaven or something like that. That was how the plan was supposed to go, anyway.”

“But it didn't?” Jude guessed.

“Far from it, sidekick,” uncle Gabe sighed, “One day, out of the blue, our Father vanished. We didn't know where he went, why he left, or what we were supposed to do without him. And... It was especially too much for me to handle... so I left, too...”

A really sad and guilty look came across uncle Gabe's face and it made Jude want to reach out and hug him. Poor uncle Gabe. Why did his dad leave their home? Did he have something important to do?

“I, um, I tried really hard to find my dad. Your 'grandpa Chuck,'” uncle Gabe uttered, “but he didn't want to be found. So, I laid low on Earth. I met your dad and uncle Sam. Then, I kept a distant eye on them for a while... until I heard that Dean went to Hell.”

Jude gulped. Uh-oh. Daddy went to Hell? Where Lucifer's cage was? Was Dad in a cage with him? Why did Dad go to hell? Thankfully, uncle Gabe started to answer some of the questions that were swirling in Jude's head.

“He went there because he made a deal to save your uncle Sam,” uncle Gabe explained, “Your dad was supposed to stay there forever... but the angels sent your Papa to save him.”

Jude's ears perked up when he heard uncle Gabe mention Dad and Papa together. Uncle Gabe must have noticed that Jude was eager to hear about his parents because a small smile spread on his lips.

“Oh yeah. It was the first time they met,” he grinned, “When Cassie pulled Dean's butt out of the fire, it was basically love at first sight. Sort of,” uncle Gabe paused to scratch his head, “It took a while for your dad to come around to the idea, but we all knew he loved Cas as soon as he laid eyes on him. They were handcrafted soul mates. Just like me and your uncle Moose.”

Jude smiled really big. He loved hearing about how much Dad and Papa loved each other, along with uncle Sam and Gabe. But uncle Gabe's smile faded away again and he looked sad.

“That was all good. But you see, kid, when the angels sent Cas to save Dean, they didn't tell him why,” he muttered.

“Why did they want him saved?” Jude instantly asked.

Uncle Gabe paused again to shift around on the floor of the cage. The bars underneath must have been making his butt fall asleep too, because he sat up and crossed his legs.

“Jude, do you know what a vessel is?” he eventually asked.

Jude slowly shook his head at uncle Gabe's sudden question. Vessel? No, he didn't know what a vessel was, but he had heard Papa say the word a few times.

“Well, in Heaven, an angel doesn't have a physical body. Angels are just big, powerful creatures of light and sound waves,” uncle Gabe explained, “So when angels come to Earth, they have to inhabit a human body. Which means they have to ask someone to share their body. Their vessel. Take your papa, for example. His vessel used to be a guy named Jimmy Novak.”

“R – really?” Jude asked, feeling a little creeped out.

“Yeah. But I'm pretty sure his soul came here, to Heaven. Jimmy's probably happy in his own paradise right now. At least, he's supposed to be...” uncle Gabe trailed off, “Anyway, angels need human vessels. And when it comes to archangels, they need really strong humans... which is why your dad was supposed to be Michael's vessel and Sam was supposed to be Lucifer's...”

Jude gulped, feeling the hairs on his arm stand up. They were supposed to be vessels? But, that would mean their souls would be kicked out, right? Didn't that mean that they wouldn't be themselves anymore?

“Dad and uncle Sammy?” Jude breathed, “But, you said Michael and Lucifer were going to fight each other.”

“Yeah,” uncle Gabe agreed, “They were supposed to fight each other. But Dean never let Michael in, so the angels got their half-brother, Adam, involved. Basically, it came down to Adam and Sam, because Sam let Lucifer use him -”

“He what?!” Jude gasped.

Uncle Sammy let Lucifer use him as a vessel? But he couldn't do that! His soul would be sent to Heaven if he did! Uncle Gabe reached out to pat Jude's knee, giving him a soft and gentle look.

“It's okay, Superman,” he cooed, “Your uncle Sam is fine. Michael and Lucifer never got to fight each other on Earth because Sam and Dean threw them back into the cage together. Dean and Cas eventually got your uncle Sam free, but they left Lucifer, Michael, and Adam in the cage. They're all still there in Hell, probably fighting and bickering with each other.”

Jude blinked and looked down at his jean shorts and black tennis shoes, feeling all kinds of weird emotions. He was glad that his family was okay, but what about all those other angels? What about Michael and Lucifer and Adam? They were left all alone in a cage, just like the one that Jude and uncle Gabe were sitting in now. That wasn't fair...

In the pause of silence, a tiny gurgle came from Jude's tummy. The little boy raised a hand up to his stomach and cringed. Oh, man. Jude didn't realize it before, but his body was feeling really hungry. He was suddenly picturing Jessie's big birthday cake, with all the icing painted around the sides, and it made his mouth water. Though he didn't know exactly what time it was, Jude thought that it must have been close to dinner.

“Uncle Gabe,” Jude mumbled, looking up to him again, “Do you have anything to eat?”

Jude was sure that uncle Gabe would use his magic to make some food. But a flash of worry came over uncle Gabe's face, like he forgot that they had to eat. His gold eyes glanced around for a few seconds before he started to pat his jacket pockets. He pulled a pack of gum out and held it toward Jude with a frown.

“Sorry. But this is all I've got, junior,” he gulped, “I would get you some real food, but this cage won't let my grace reach through the bars. A place like this was only meant for angels who don't need to eat...”

Jude sighed as he slowly took the pack of gum from his uncle's hand and unwrapped a piece to put in his mouth. It was the fruity, sugar-free kind; Jessie's favorite. Jude chewed up the flavorful gum and looked back at the bars on the floor, feeling bad as he shivered in his short-sleeves. He really hoped that Dad and Papa were going to come soon. And bring a jacket and something to eat with them...

Thinking about Daddy and Papa made Jude remember what they told him the night before they left to go to the zoo. 'Yes, Jude,' Dad said, 'Papa and I will always be there to save you. No matter what.' But now that he was sitting in a cage next to uncle Gabe, with his belly grumbling and his arms going cold in the dim light, Jude worried that it might not be true. What if Grandpa John was right? What if dads couldn't always be there to save their kids?

“You okay?”

Jude raised his head at uncle Gabe's voice, but only shrugged to answer. He didn't really want to say his bad thoughts out loud. But uncle Gabe seemed really worried about him, because he sat up straight and reached out to pat Jude's knee again.

“Spit it out, kiddo. Tell me what's up,” he encouraged.

Jude let out a small breath before gathering up the words in his head. Uncle Gabe always was good at listening. Maybe he would be able to help Jude feel better.

“Daddy and Papa promised that they would always be there to save me,” Jude eventually mumbled, “but, I guess Grandpa John was right. Dads can't always be there to save their kids...”

Uncle Gabe coughed a little bit, making the sound echo around the empty room outside the cage, before looking back with an unsmiling face.

“Grandpa John?” he asked flatly, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah,” Jude mumbled, chewing slowly on his gum, “When Dad showed me his journal, I saw where he wrote that he wouldn't always be there to save Dad and uncle Sammy.”

Jude didn't understand why that disgusted and harsh expression flashed across uncle Gabe's face. He looked really upset all the sudden, like mentioning Grandpa John made him remember bad things. It took him a second to find his voice, but when he did, he sounded very calm and serious.

“Jude. I'm gonna let you in on a little secret about your Grandpa John, okay?” uncle Gabe hummed.

Jude nodded, feeling excited to learn everything he could about him. Uncle Gabe softly patted Jude's knee again with a comforting touch before tilting his head and saying,

“He was a terrible father.”

The tiny smile on Jude's face vanished. What? Grandpa John was a terrible father? But, Dad and uncle Sammy were such good fathers. How was that possible? Uncle Gabe sighed and nodded again.

“It's true,” he huffed, “John Winchester was a real piece of work. I mean, he was alright when Dean and Sam were just babies. But when Mary died, he changed into a different person. He was so focused on finding the guy responsible for his wife's death that he wasn't there for his kids. Your dad basically raised your uncle Sammy, kiddo. And when John did come around, he was pretty mean to his sons. Especially your dad.”

“M – my dad?” Jude repeated in a whisper.

“I'm afraid so,” uncle Gabe answered, “He gave Dean and Sam responsibilities that no kid should ever have. Taught them things that no kid needed to learn. At your age, your dad and Sam were already shooting guns, learning how to hot-wire cars, and stealing money... And if anything ever happened to Sam while John was gone, Dean had to pay for it. In bruises.”

Jude blinked up at his uncle in shock, feeling his heart hurt inside his chest. Bruises? Grandpa John actually hurt Daddy that way? But, Dad was just a kid! Why would Grandpa John do that?

“He... He hurt my Daddy?” Jude squeaked.

Warm water was starting to pool in Jude's eyes and blur his vision, and it made uncle Gabe's face quickly turned soft again.

“Yeah, I'm sorry to say he did, kid... But I only told you that so that I could tell you this,” he hummed, giving a light smile, “Your Dad is nothing like John. And neither is your uncle Sam. They are both amazing dads and they will do everything they can to keep you and Jessie safe. Because they love you with all their hearts.”

Uncle Gabe's words made Jude feel a little better. The little boy always liked hearing about how much everyone loved each other. Under the yellow glow of his grace, Uncle Gabe's smile grew bigger.

“So, when your Dad and Papa say that they're always going to be there to save you, they mean it,” he said quietly, still patting Jude's knee, “They might not be able to stop bad things from happening to you, but you better believe they're going to be there to help you through it, Jude. And so will your uncle Sam and I. Because you and Jess... You guys mean everything to us.”

Jude's chest was throbbing with pain, but he still managed to smile through the tears. Learning about his family history – about how broken his angel family was and that his Grandpa John wasn't very nice – was a hard thing for Jude's little heart to handle. But remembering that all his favorite people would always be there with him through the bad times made him feel much better.

After wiping his tears away, Jude raised up to crawl over and sit next to his uncle Gabe. He buried himself into his side and took a deep breath. Uncle Gabe was warm and smelled like candy, and it only made Jude smile bigger as he clung to his loose jacket.

“I love you, uncle Gabe,” Jude mumbled.

Uncle Gabe's arm reached around to pull Jude even closer to him.

“I love you too, lil' sidekick,” he grinned.

When Dean gave Cas the order to go and get Bobby and Crowley, it only took the angel fifteen minutes to return with the old man under one hand, the demon under the other, and three hellhound mutts at their ankles.

Sam could tell that Cas already told them what happened to Jude and Gabe because Bobby and Crowley were both wearing hardened, determined faces when they arrived. When Sam first laid eyes on them, he was instantly reminded of policemen working an Amber Alert; cold, no-nonsense expressions hiding the shock and worry underneath. It was obvious that they were both holding down their own emotions so that it wouldn't upset anyone else. Especially Dean and Cas, would were both pretty fragile at the moment.

Almost as soon as he appeared in the study of the bunker, Crowley turned to Cas and – reluctantly – asked him to fetch his mother. Though she was bound to be a loud and obnoxious addition, she was also a very powerful witch and could possibly help them with the search. Cas, still a bit dazed from everything that was happening, did as Crowley asked and flew off to get Rowena.

In the meantime, Sam jumped in and offered as much help as he could. He immediately showed Bobby the picture he took of the sigil in the park and explained that it was the same one that transferred Lucifer to the cage, which meant it was probably one of the oldest markings in history. And with only a little bit of digging and searching, Sam and Bobby were able to find the sigil in an old book among the bunker library. But, of course, it wasn't much help. The book said that there was no way to track the sigil to the cage. It was a celestial teleportation spell that was untraceable. Sam was pretty let down when he found that out. Their one and only lead was completely devastated with a tiny scrap of information. Still, Sam hoped that Bobby and Crowley would be able to use their sources and connections to figure out a way to find the cage.

Cas returned in no time with Rowena, who seemed flustered and confused about being woken up in the middle of the night. She was wearing a slinky nightgown and fluffy black robe, and her long fiery curls were twisted in a messy cascade.

“Hells bells,” the Scottish witch huffed, tucking her robe around herself, “Don't you bloody imbeciles have any decency about you? I need my beauty sleep! Have ya not spared a look at the time? The damn cocks haven't even crowed yet!”

It wasn't until Rowena mentioned time that Sam actually glanced down at his watch. Holy shit, it was almost two o'clock in the morning. When the hell did it get so late? Crowley spun to look at Rowena with a bitter expression.

“Stow it, mother,” he hissed, “Sleep does nothing for your wretched complexion. Besides, this is a serious matter. The angels have trapped Jude and Gabriel in a cage.”

Sam half expected Rowena to shrug off the situation and bicker some more. But surprisingly, her eyes grew large and her mouth dipped open in shock.

“They – they took the wee cherub? And the handsome candy lad?” Rowena gasped.

Bobby frowned and nodded to answer her question, which only made the worry deepen on her face. She glanced around at everyone, lingering on Cas the longest, before gulping and patting out the hems of her fluffy robe.

“Well then,” she hummed lowly, turning her sight to everyone else, “Samuel, be a dearie and put the kettle on. Robert, I'm going to need you to retrieve a few things for me, love... Those birds don't belong in a cage.”

Sam and Bobby both looked at each other before wandering off in different directions. Sammy figured that Rowena wanted tea when she mentioned the kettle, so he headed toward the kitchen to boil some water – but halted in the doorway when he saw that Jessica was gone. She wasn't sitting at the table where Sam left her, and panic descended upon him like a hurricane. Oh, shit. Where did she go?! Sam instantly darted down the hall, hoping to find his daughter in her room, but she wasn't there. Instead, he found her inside Jude's room with Dean.

Sam exhaled a gust of relieve when he peered in to see Dean and Jessica hugging each other. Dean was sitting on Jude's bed and softly crying onto Jessica's small shoulder. And Jessica was patting his back, comforting him with gentle words. Dickie was sitting on the floor nearby and the sight of them all gave Sam a bittersweet feeling. Poor Dean. Sam couldn't imagine how he was feeling right now. A missing spouse was one thing, but a missing child? That seemed worse. Sam hated that everyone was so upset, but he was also proud of his daughter for being so helpful and calm during this crisis. She was so brave and beautiful. Just like her Papa...

The sudden thought of Gabriel made Sam's entire chest ache and he quickly pushed it out of his head. He couldn't let himself think about Gabe. Not yet...

“Hey,” Sam called.

Dean and Jessica both raised their heads to look at him in the dim glow of Jude's Batman night-light.

“All the guys are here. And Rowena, too,” he informed.

When Dean heard the news, he quickly wiped the tears from his eyes, gave Jessica a tiny peck on the cheek and stood up to walk out of the room. Sam moved out of the way to let him by and waited for his little girl. Jessie wasn't crying, but Sam could tell that she was still very upset. And it broke his heart. He quickly wrapped an arm around his daughter's shoulder to pull her close.

“It's going to be alright, honey,” he promised in a whisper.

“I know,” she mumbled back, holding on to his waist as they walked down the hall, “I just miss them.”

Sam gulped as he held onto his child. He missed Jude and Gabriel, too. But he didn't want to let himself think about them too much. Otherwise, he would end up freaking out like Cas did in the dungeon... While he and Jessica walked down the hall, Sam noticed that Dickie was shuffling along beside them with his head down. It was like all the sunshine and happiness had been sucked out of his little doggy soul. Sam hated seeing Dickie act so sad, but he couldn't help but feel the same way. Without Gabriel around, how was anything supposed to feel happy?

Sam wandered back into the study with his little girl but hesitated at the entrance. Dean and Cas were sitting at a table to themselves, clinging to each other and whispering like they were trying to hold all of their broken pieces together. Crowley and Rowena were leafing through a few open books on a different table, quietly mumbling to each other about spells, witchcraft, and demons. But Bobby was walking over to meet Sam with an aged look on his face. Peter, Willy, and Humphrey all followed their owner and paused to sniff Dickie when they were close enough. But Dickie didn't seem interested in his hellish offspring. The older dog just sank down to lay on the floor in defeat, which made his pups whimper in confusion.

“Sam,” Bobby said, his voice stern but gentle; the way a dad's voice was supposed to sound, “It's pretty late. You should probably go and get that lil' girl to sleep.”

Sam glanced down at the top of Jessica's blonde head and felt torn. Of course he wanted to stay with her and protect her just in case anything else happened, but what about Gabe and Jude? Sam needed to help get them back. They couldn't spend another hour without them; without knowing if they were okay. Bobby must have seen the hesitation on Sam's face because he reached up to lay a hand on Sam's high shoulder.

“We've got it covered for now, son. I'll come and get you if anything changes,” he promised.

Sam slowly forced himself to nod. He wanted to stay and do something – anything – to find his husband and nephew as soon as possible. But Bobby was right. There wasn't much he could contribute right now, and Jessica needed someone to be with her to help her get some rest, especially after everything she had witnessed that day...

“Alright,” Sam uttered, gently tugging on his daughter's shoulder, “Come on, Jess. You can sleep in my and Papa's room tonight.”

Jessica glanced up at her dad and nodded, even though she seemed pretty unenthusiastic. When Sam started to lead her away, Dickie slowly got up and followed them, leaving his three hellhound sons behind. The trip to Sam and Gabe's bedroom was uncomfortably quiet. Neither Sam or Jessica said anything, even when they walked into the room and turned the light on. The sudden sight of his and Gabe's unmade bed – and the smell of Gabriel's sweet cotton candy scent – hit Sam like a ton of bricks. He suddenly missed Gabriel more in that moment than he had all day. Dammit, Sam wanted to see his archangel so badly. Why did shit like this always have to happen to their family?


Sammy tried his best to keep his emotions concealed as he looked down at his daughter. But as soon as he met Jessica's stare – and saw the moisture rising up in her beautiful eyes – his heart nearly broke in two.

“I – I'm sorry,” Jess whimpered, sounding on the verge of tears, “I should have used the buddy system with Jude, like uncle Dean always says. Maybe this wouldn't have happened if -”

Sam halted his daughter's shaking voice by kneeling down to wrap her into a tight hug. Hearing her say things like that only reminded Sam of his own childhood; of all those times he blamed himself for letting down his family and not being there when he could have been. And Sam absolutely hated that Jessica was feeling the same way.

“No, Jessica. This is not your fault,” Sam assured with a hard gulp, raking back her beautiful hair and holding her close, “Sweetheart, there's nothing you could have done. Sometimes bad things just happen and you can't stop it.”

Jessica's thin arms clung to Sam's neck, bringing back memories of holding her when she was just a toddler. Sam wasn't sure if his words comforted her or not because she was quiet. Times like this were always a harsh reminder of how much Sam needed Gabriel. Gabe was so much better at comforting people than Sam was. He always knew exactly what to say. He knew how to distract people from the pain and make them smile even when they felt terrible. And as he held their weeping child, Sam wished that he could have just a fraction of Gabe's charisma to comfort her.

Luckily, Sam received some help in the form of Gabe's dog. Dickie whined quietly and pawed at Jessica's leg, grabbing her attention with his cute fuzzy face. Jessie sniffled and let go of Sam to pick Dickie up and hug him. The little dog licked away some of Jessie's tears and Sam patted his back with a weary smirk. Dickie was just like his owner, always trying to make everyone feel better... 

While Jessie was focused on the dog in her arms, Sam stood up and walked over to roll down the plaid comforter on his bed. The heavy scent of Gabriel's sweet aroma seemed to be embedded in every single fiber, making Sam feel worse with each breath he took. 'Don't think about him', the voice in Sam's head whispered, 'Not yet.' Sam held back thoughts of his husband while he prepared the bed for their daughter.

“Here, Jess,” Sam called, arranging a few pillows, “You can sleep on Papa's side.”

Sam was glad to see that Jess wasn't crying anymore. Dickie had kissed away all her tears and she was solely focused on petting his fur as she walked over to climb into Sam and Gabe's big bed. When she crawled up to get comfortable, Jessica's foot accidentally kicked the bedside table and a picture frame fell over. Sam didn't mind it at all, but the little girl gasped and reached over to pick it up.

“Sorry, Dad,” she mumbled.

Jessie yawned and rubbed her eyes as she held the picture frame out to him. Sam assured her that it was alright as he took it. But when he turned over the picture frame to look down at it, his breath got caught in his throat. Sam was suddenly looking down at Gabriel's perfect, grinning face. It was a picture they took a few years ago on their anniversary. Sam's heart started to thump rapidly inside his ribcage and the flood gates of emotion broke open all at once.

Oh God, what if the worst happened? What if Sam never saw Gabe in person again? What if Sam never got to hold him? Kiss him? Tell him how much he loved him? What if the angels hurt him? Took away his memories? Tried to kill him? What if he was already dead?

The picture frame fell out of Sam's shaky hand and landed softly on the bed, but it was enough to get Jessica's attention. She looked up at him from under her blonde curls – Gabriel's blonde curls – and was obviously confused. Sam tried his best to keep it together long enough to make an excuse to leave the room because he didn't want her to see him breakdown.

“I – I'm gonna use the bathroom,” Sam lied, quickly striding toward the door, “I'll be right back.”

Jessica nodded and held onto Dickie as she watched him go, thankfully unaware of how close he was to losing it. And Sam barely had time to make it out the door and close it behind him before the tears were running down his face in hot streaks. He walked four steps down the hallway before he slumped against the tiled wall and sobbed into his trembling hands. All it took was one glance at Gabe's face to turn him into a blubbering mess.

In the back of his mind, Sam knew that he had to stop crying. He had to get a grip and man-up for his daughter. But, damn. He never thought that it would be so hard without Gabriel. Of course, Sam was worried about his nephew too. He wanted Jude to be back home in the safety of Dean and Cas's arms, where he belonged. But Sam wanted Gabriel back just as badly. And the constant 'what if's circulating in his head weren't making it any easier to focus. It was difficult for him to stay optimistic when he felt that this had been coming for a long time. Getting to keep Gabriel forever was just too good to be true. Especially for Sam...

The man let himself cry for a second to get it all out. It wasn't long before he started thinking about what Gabe would say if he came around the corner to see Sam weeping against the wall like a baby. It would probably be something like, “What's wrong, moose? Did you get your hoof stuck in the toilet again?” By some miracle, a smile briefly appeared on Sam's lips through the tears. Wow. Just the thought of Gabe saying something cheeky was enough to make Sam feel better. He finally stood up straight and sniffled a bit, reaching up to dry his eyes before glancing toward the ceiling. He knew that Gabriel probably couldn't hear him, but he wanted to pray anyway.

“I need you, Gabe,” Sam mumbled, closing his eyes to picture his husband's face, “So please... Whatever it takes... Just get back to me...”

Sam actually felt pretty good after he said it out loud. Wherever Gabe was, he probably knew how Sam was feeling anyway. After seven years of commented courtship and five years of actual marriage, it wouldn't be hard to guess. Sam just hoped that Gabriel wasn't as hysterical at the moment.

When Sam finally had his emotions under control, he knew that he had to get back to Jessica. But before going back in to be with her, he decided to walk to her room and get a few things. The small trip would give his eyes time to dry up completely so that she wouldn't know that he was crying. Sam wandered down, grabbed his daughter's stuffed bunny and the baby blanket Bobby gave her, and paused to glance sadly into Jude's room before getting back to his own.

Jessica was already laying comfortably on Sam and Gabe's bed with Dickie when Sam walked in. She barely lifted her head to see him when he came over to join her. The little girl was clearly exhausted. Sam held out her bunny and blanket with a smile.

“Here you go, sweetheart,” Sam hummed, gently laying on the bed next to her.

Jessica slowly let go of Dickie and took her things to hug them to her chest. She pecked her bunny with a lazy kiss before blinking up at Sam.

“Thanks, Daddy,” she mumbled, “I love you.”

“I love you too, baby rabbit,” Sam whispered, reaching over to rake the curls away from her beautiful face again, “Get some sleep.”

Without another word, Jessica's eyes closed and she let out a sigh, looking like a perfect angel. While she slowly drifted to sleep, Dickie carefully crawled over on the bed to sniff around Sam. The man welcomed the dog, patting out a space next to him for Dickie to lay down. The poor little guy whimpered before plopping down on the bed and nuzzling his wet nose toward Sam. Sammy just nodded and patted Dickie's soft back.

“I know, boy,” Sam whispered, “I miss him too...”

Chapter Text

When Jessie accidentally knocked over the picture of Papa on the bedside table and handed it to Dad, she didn't know how upset it would make him until he looked down at it. His big puppy eyes got all watery, his mouth turned into a frown, and it looked like he was going to cry. Dad blinked down at Papa's face for only a second before the frame slipped out of his hands and plopped on the bed. Jessie looked back up at her dad's face when it happened, afraid that he might be upset about seeing Papa's picture.

“I – I'm gonna use the bathroom,” Dad suddenly breathed, backing toward the door, “I'll be right back.”

Jessica patted Dickie's warm back and nodded as her dad left the room. He softly closed the door behind him, leaving the little girl alone with the dog. Jessie hung her head and reached over to set Papa's picture back up on the table. His cute and smiling face made Jessie both happy and sad. Poor Dad. He probably didn't even have to use the bathroom. He probably just wanted to check and see if uncle Bobby had figured out a way to find Papa and Jude yet because he missed them so much...

Thinking about her Papa and cousin – and remembering that they were trapped in a cage – made Jessie's whole body shiver. In her heart, Jessica knew that they were going to be okay eventually. But what about right now? Were they hurt? Was Jude afraid? Did Papa miss Jessie as much as she missed him? Even though Dad told her that it wasn't her fault, Jessie still felt like it was. If only she had been holding Jude's hand, then maybe he wouldn't have disappeared.

Dad and Papa's bedroom was really quiet with just Jessie and Dickie in it. And looking around at all of their stuff – at Dad's open books, Papa's crumbled candy wrappers, and their messy blankets – made Jessica feel terrible. How was she supposed to sleep when Papa and Jude were missing? Her body felt really tired, but her mind was full of bad thoughts... Especially when she looked down at her wrist.

The rainbow bracelet that Jude made her for her birthday was resting on her arm and it made Jessie realize that he wasn't going to be around tonight. Uh-oh. What if she had another bad dream? What if she got really scared and Jude wasn't there to make her feel better when she woke up? Jessica gulped and raised her head up to stare at the bedroom ceiling. She wished that she could pray to him and Papa, but they couldn't hear her. Who else could she pray to? Maybe she could ask a favor from Grandpa Chuck since he was so powerful and smart...

“Grandpa,” the little girl whispered, curling her arms tighter around her dog, “Please don't let me have any bad dreams while Jude is away... And please let him and Papa come home soon...”

The room stayed quiet but Jessica felt better after talking. Even though she never got a reply, Jessie knew that Grandpa heard her prayer. He was a quiet kind of guy. Besides, he always liked to answer with actions, not words. In her arms, Dickie whimpered and pawed at her shirt again, wanting attention and love. Jess pecked the top of his furry head with a kiss and finally laid down on the bed, pulling him into a loose hug on the blanket. Papa's side of the bed was soft and smelled like candy, and it made her want to breathe slower and longer to make the sweetness linger in her nose. Huh. It was funny how Papa could comfort her even when he wasn't there...

Just when Jessie was about to close her eyes, the door opened and Daddy came back inside. Jessie only lifted her head up long enough to see that he was holding her bunny rabbit and baby blanket in his hand. Aw, maybe Dad left so that he could go and get Jess's favorite things. He was such a good Daddy.

“Here you go, sweetheart,” Dad whispered, holding them out to her as he laid on the bed.

Jessica lazily reached up to take her bunny and blanket from Dad and cuddled them to her chest. She kissed the top of her bunny's head too, because she missed him during the zoo trip. Dickie wiggled out from underneath her arm and laid next to her while she blinked up at Dad from underneath her tired eyelashes.

“Thanks, Daddy,” she mumbled, “I love you.”

Dad smiled down at Jess for a second before reaching out to move some of her hair.

“I love you too, baby rabbit,” he whispered softly, “Get some sleep.”

As if Dad's voice put a spell on her, Jessie's eyes closed and her whole body relaxed. Her baby blanket felt so soft in her hands and Papa's sweet smell made her so calm. It didn't take long for Jessie to fall asleep next toDickie on her parents' bed...

And then, in her mind, Jessica was somewhere else.

It was a kitchen that she had never seen before. At least, not yet. The room was really pretty, with white counters, yellow walls, and a rainbow mobile dangling in the window to catch the sunshine. No one else was there. Just Jessica, standing next to a counter, holding a wet book in one hand and a ripped jacket in the other.

From the second she found herself in the kitchen, Jessica knew that she was having an awful day. Lots of accidents must have happened to her because she felt so terrible. The things in her hands were ruined; wet and broken. She didn't know how her jacket sleeve got ripped off. Or why the book was so wet that the words were blurred. Or why her legs were tired like she had been running for a long time. All she knew was that it made her so upset. Ugh, this was the worst day! Jessica was glad to be back in the kitchen – Her kitchen – but the damage was done. It was going to be hard to fix everything that had gone wrong.

Tired, ashamed, and feeling hopeless, Jessica dropped the things in her hands and wandered over to sit at the round table in the corner. Her heart hurt so much that she thought she might start crying. Jessie could feel the weight of responsibility – adult responsibility – resting on her shoulders and it was too much. She hung her head in her hands and sighed, getting ready for the tears to start up. Many questions began to appear in her mind. Why did being an adult have to be so hard? Why did things have to go wrong all the time? What if she couldn't be the amazing person that her dads thought she was? What if she just let everyone down?

While Jessica sat at the table with her eyes tearing up, she heard the sound of a door opening and closing.

Jessie quickly rubbed her wet eyes and looked up to see who had come into the house. Footsteps came through the living room and to the kitchen doorway, and the first thing Jessica saw was a huge bouquet of daisies. Aww, they were so pretty! Daisies were her favorite! Who was that? And why were they holding daisies?

Jessie,” a man's deep voice called from behind the flowers, “Where are you? I got you some – oh! There you are.”

The man looked around the bouquet to find her with a smile – and Jessica almost couldn't believe her eyes. It was her friend Ollie, but he wasn't a kid anymore. He was a grown-up. An adult. A man . His orange hair was thick on his head and his face was scruffy with a five o'clock shadow. But his brown eyes were the same that Jessie knew. He was her Ollie-pop, just like always. But older. And as smiley as ever.

Hey,” he grinned, walking over, “I, uh, saw these in the window at the flower shop in town. And Jude told me that daisies are your favorite, so... Here you go, babe. I hope you like them.”

Ollie gently placed the vase on the middle of the table and fluffed up some of the white pedals with his fingers, making the bouncy flowers spring around in the sunlight. And as Jessica glanced back and forth between the beautiful daisies on the table and Ollie's smirking face, she felt a whirlwind of happiness flood her whole body. Her terrible day full of accidents and broken things suddenly didn't feel so bad. Ollie made her feel so special; so loved and important. And he made all of her bad thoughts go away. A few more tears were pooling in Jessie's eyes, but it wasn't because she was sad. This time, it was because she was happy.

Jessica slowly stood up from the table, scooting her chair out with a tiny squeak, before walking over to wrap her arms around her Ollie-pop. His shoulders were so big that she could barely reach all the way around them, but she held him tight and took a big breath anyway. Ollie smelled so good and his chest was so warm. Jess was glad to feel him hug her back.

So... Does this mean you do like the flowers or...?” Ollie asked, sounding hopeful.

Jessie actually let out a giggle. Ollie was so sweet and funny.

Yes,” she answered, resting her head on his shoulder, “I love them, Ollie... Almost as much as I love you...”

Ollie smiled and kissed the side of Jess's head in reply. They both continued to hold onto each other in the warm kitchen for what seemed like a long time. And Jessie was totally okay with it. She could have stood in that spot forever; in Ollie's strong arms with her head resting on his shoulder and her hands tight around his back. Everything was better when Ollie was around...

Jessie sighed happily and slowly blinked her eyes open. The pretty kitchen and the daisies were gone. She wasn't an adult anymore. She was back to being ten-years-old again. But the happy feeling that Ollie gave her was still warm in her heart. He was the sweetest guy ever! And thinking of him made her want to see him again.

Beside her, Dickie and Dad were both asleep, curled next to each other and snoozing like babies, and Jessie was really glad. Dad was always rude to Ollie for some reason, and Jessica knew that he wouldn't take her to Ollie's house if she asked. But Jessie wanted to see her friend. She needed to see him. So the little girl gently crawled out of bed, careful not to wake Dad and Dickie up, and stood on the floor before flying away to Ollie's house.

It only took a single second for Jessie to show up in her friend's room. She had no idea what time it was until she landed next to Ollie's dresser and saw morning sunlight beginning to shine in his window. It was probably early in the morning – because Ollie was in the middle of putting on a fresh shirt when Jessica appeared in his room. He must have seen her pop up too, because he gasped and spun around with big brown eyes.

“What the - ?!” Ollie said, his voice much higher and squeakier than it was in Jess's latest dream, “Oh! Jessie! Hi! Wh – what are you doing here?”

Ollie quickly finished pulling his shirt down and blinked at Jessie with his head tilted. His freckled face was much younger than the one his future self had. It was softer and sweeter now, different than the handsome man he was going to become. Still, his brown eyes were the same. Feeling the leftover happiness of her dream, Jessie dashed forward to wrap her Ollie-pop into a big hug. His shoulders were smaller than she remembered, but he smelled exactly the same.

“Whoa,” he said in her ear, “Um, what's the hug for?”

Jessie gave him one more squeeze before letting go so she could look at his young face again. She didn't want to freak him out by telling him about her future-dream, so she came up with something else instead.

“Uh... You know... Just for being my friend,” she mumbled, awkwardly scratching the back of her head of messy curls.

“Oh. Er, thanks,” Ollie replied, bobbing his head, “Did you fly here?”

“Yeah,” she answered.

“That's so cool,” Ollie smiled, making his freckled cheeks rise, “Did Jude fly here with you?”

The mention of her cousin's name made an ache surge in Jess's tummy. Oh, no. Jude was still missing. And Papa. They were both stuck in a cage somewhere. How could Jessie forget about that? Ollie must have seen the smile fade away from Jessie's face because he was starting to look really worried. But Jessie didn't want to tell Ollie about what happened to Jude and Papa. He was so happy right now and she didn't want to ruin it...

Calabaza,” Ms. Jane suddenly called from the living room, making both kids flinch and look toward the door, “I have to be at work soon. Let's go.

“Uh, okay! I'm almost done!” Ollie called back sweetly.

After answering Ms. Jane, Ollie sighed and glanced back at Jessie like he was sorry.

“I have to stay at my grandma's house while mom is at work,” he explained, “We're getting ready to leave.”

“That's okay,” Jessie assured, trying to put the smile back on her face, “I need to go back home anyway... I just wanted to thank you.”

“Thank me?” Ollie repeated, “For what?”

Jessie smiled to herself, thinking about that pretty vase of daisies in grown-up Ollie's hands...

For everything,” she mumbled, raising her hand and waving to her friend with a warm smile, “Bye, Ollie. I'll see you later.”

Though he looked confused, Ollie slowly raised his hand and waved back.

“Um, okay... Bye, Jessie,” he mumbled.

After taking one last look at her baby-faced Ollie-pop, Jessica flew from his room and landed back in Dad and Papa's bedroom. Everything was the same way she left it. The light was dim, Daddy and Dickie were still peacefully asleep on the bed... and Papa and Jude were still gone. Jessie sighed as she stared at her dad from across the room. His eyes were a little swollen and pink, like he had been crying before bed. Poor Daddy. He really missed Papa. They really needed to find a way to get him back...

Jessie eventually walked over and gently tapped on Dad's shoulder to wake him up. She figured that things would get done faster if everyone worked together as a team; just like when Dumbledore's Army went to the Ministry of Magic in the Order of the Phoenix. Before Dad opened his eyes, he stretched on the bed and tossed a hand out in front of him, feeling along the empty blanket as if he was searching for something... And he softly mumbled Papa's name. But when he raised his head to see that Papa was gone, sadness took over his face and it made Jessica's heart ache.

“Daddy,” she called, getting his sleepy attention, “It's morning time.”

When Dad blinked up at Jessica, he quickly nodded and sat up on the bed, wiping the sleep out of his eyes. Dickie got up and stretched too before wandering to the edge of the bed to jump to the floor.

“Hey, sunshine,” Dad said, trying his best to smile for Jessie as he stood up, “Did you sleep okay?”

“Yep,” Jessie happily agreed, “Let's go to the study and see how everyone else is doing, Dad.”

She took her dad's hand and pulled him out of the room to head down the hall. There was a good feeling in her tummy today. It was there ever since she woke up from that amazing dream about Ollie. It felt like something wonderful was going to happen and she couldn't wait to see the rest of her family.

Jessica, Daddy, and Dickie all walked into the study to find that the place was a mess. Open books and crumpled pieces of paper were all over the tables, jackets were tossed on the chairs, half-drank cups of cold coffee were sitting around, and everyone looked exhausted. Uncle Dean was on the phone, pacing back and forth in front of uncle Cas, who was sitting in a chair with open eyes and a blank face. Uncle Bobby and uncle Crowley were talking to each other near a bookshelf. And Auntie Rowena was sitting at a desk by herself, surrounded by stacks of books and a steaming cup of tea. Peter, Willy, and Humphrey wagged their tails as they wandered up to Jessie, smiling up at her like they wanted to play. But Jessie was too busy to play. She had to help find Jude and Papa with the grown-ups.

“Hi guys,” she hummed, patting them each on the head, “Go play.”

Thankfully, the doggies all crowded around Dickie instead, like they were trying to cheer him up. In the meantime, Jessie followed her Dad over to the bookshelf where uncle Bobby and Crowley were talking.

... Believe me, I hate being in Hell as much as you do, love. I would much rather be topside with your scruffy mug,” uncle Crowley said to uncle Bobby, “But the place has no order without me. Imagine the havoc those soul-eating junkies are causing in the pit right now... ”

“Just a few more hours, darlin',” uncle Bobby interrupted with a pleading look, “Just gimme 'til nine o'clock. We've gotta find these boys. There's no tellin' what those angel bastards are doin' to 'em.”

Uncle Crowley was about to say something else when he noticed Jessie and Dad walk up. He and uncle Bobby both gave him serious looks, like they were sorry. And Dad must have figured it out because he combed his hair back and sighed.

“Hey,” Dad breathed, his voice shallow, “I... I guess we still don't know anything, huh?”

Uncle Bobby's mouth turned down in the corners and burrowed into his beard. Jessie's heart sank a little bit at the news. Jude and Papa were still lost somewhere and their family had no idea how to rescue them. Even though he tried to hide it, Jess could tell that her dad was upset too. He nodded a little before lowering his head to look down at her.

“Jess, why don't you go hang out with Aunt Rowena?” he mumbled, “I want to talk to Bobby and Crowley in private for a minute.”

Jessica blinked up at the guys in front of her, noticing that they were all giving her fake smiles like they were trying to cheer her up, before nodding and turning to walk over toward the table Auntie Rowena was sitting at. On the way, she could hear uncle Dean grumbling with someone on the phone while he stomped back and forth in front of uncle Cas. Though her feet kept moving, Jessie listened to some of the things her uncle was saying as she passed by.

- I know you've got a lot on your plate, man, but this is my son,” uncle Dean breathed, sounding so upset, “Literally anything would help us. Hell, even praying might give us a boost... Well, have you seen any angel activity? Do you know any tracking spells?... What? ... Of course we've already tried that -”

Uncle Cas suddenly stood up from his chair, which made Jessie and uncle Dean both pause to look at him.

“I cannot sit idly by while my child is in danger, Dean,” uncle Cas barked, looking so angry and afraid, “I must go and search for him!”

Cas, no,” uncle Dean gasped, holding the phone to his shoulder so that he could grab uncle Cas's arm, “Baby, I've already told you, we need to stick together on this. I need you here.”

But Dean, our child is out there,” uncle Cas groaned as he pointed toward the wall, “W – we must get him back!”

“We will! I promise,” uncle Dean swore, pulling him closer, “Take a breath, Cas. Sit down. It's going to be alright.”

Though he seemed like he wanted to leave – or burst into tears – uncle Cas did what uncle Dean said and slowly sat back down. He swiped a jar of honey from a table nearby and held it in his hands to look down at it. It was the jar of honey from the kitchen; the one that nobody was allowed to open. Uncle Cas clung to it with shaky fingers and went as still as a statue again. Once uncle Cas seemed calm, uncle Dean carefully pat his shoulder and brought the phone back to his ear.

When her uncles seemed calm, Jessie made her feet start walking again. Poor uncle Dean and Cas. They were so lost and worried when Jude was gone. Jessica really wanted to have him back too, but she guessed it was worse for Jude's daddies...

Aunt Rowena was situated at a table all to herself, and the tiny lady looked really frazzled this morning. Her orange-red hair was tangled in messy curls around her shoulders and she was wearing a black robe like she just got out of bed. But her eyes were wide awake. Auntie Rowena lifted her head and gave an honest grin when she saw Jessie come up to the table.

“Good morning, sweet lass,” she sang, “My, yer as pretty as summertime barley swaying in the breeze.”

“Thanks, Auntie 'wena. You look pretty too,” Jessie smiled back, “What are you doing?”

Both girls looked around at the towers of old books on the table and Auntie Rowena let out a great big sigh that ruffled some loose pages.

“Oh, just a bit of witchcraft,” she replied sneakily, pausing to take a sip from her tea cup and raise an eyebrow, “Would you like to join me, dearie? I'm trying to find a good spell. And two sets of eyes wouldn't hurt.”

“Yeah!” Jessie beamed.

She had always wanted to do cool witch things with Auntie Rowena, like brewing potions or making magic. And now seemed like a good a time as any. The little girl raced around the table to sit next to her aunt and drink in the sight of the books. Whoa, the words on the pages were all old and handwritten, like they were made by people who lived a long time ago. Auntie Rowena slid a particular book in front of Jessie and patted the cover with a smile.

“There you are, love. I stole this one from a coven in Transylvania,” Auntie Rowena winked.

Jessie giggled and instantly opened the cover to look at the words on the pages. The lists of spells and potions inside had lots of details and weird ingredients. Things like blood, salt, rocks, and gems. They were so creepy and cool. But how exactly was this stuff going to help them find Jude and Papa?

“What kind of spell are we looking for?” Jessie asked as she flipped through the pages.

“Any spell you think might help us locate your cousin and trickster father,” Auntie Rowena replied with a smile.

With a goal in mind, Jessie paused on a particular page to really study the spell on it. The title at the top read, “Incantation to Seduce Men.” Huh. What did 'seduce' mean? Did it mean 'find'? Was it a spell that could find men like Papa?

“Auntie 'wena, what about this one?” Jessica asked, pointing to the page in front of her.

Aunt Rowena glanced down at the words and smiled, letting out a tiny giggle before reaching over to curl some of Jess's hair behind her ear.

“Sorry, child. But that spell won't work for this cause... Perhaps I'll teach you that one when you start courting young lads,” she hummed.

Jessie nodded – even though she didn't understand what 'courting' meant – and turned her attention back to the book in front of her. She kept flipping along and looking for something that would help find Jude and Papa, but all the spells in the book were about tricking people or making money. It wasn't very helpful at all. Once she got to the back of the book, Jessie closed it and moved it away. Hmm. Maybe there would be something more useful in one of the others on the table...

Jessica carefully pulled one of the heavier books toward her and looked at it. It was already open on a certain page with the caption 'Twin Bond.' It looked like a really simple spell and seemed like it would be able to find things. Why didn't Auntie Rowena use this one? Didn't she see it before?

“Auntie 'wena,” Jessie said, pushing the book toward her, “What about this one?”

Aunt Rowena paused in mid-sip of her tea to glance down at the book on the table. But, unfortunately, her pretty eyes clouded over with disappointment.

“Oh, aye. That's a very good spell. Powerful enough to transcend different worlds and dimensions. But we can't use that one, cherub,” she mumbled.

“Why not?” Jessie asked.

The red-haired lady took the time to set her tea cup down again before turning in her chair to face Jessie and the book.

“You see this picture, love?” she asked.

On the page, there was a drawing of a pair of rocks. Both of them had squiggles around them, like they were glowing, and there was a faint line drawn between them. After looking at it, Jessie nodded.

“Well,” Auntie Rowena continued, “The way this spell works is that you must have two of the same object – two rocks cut from the same stone, two horns that come from the same animal – a pair of something in which both pieces are related. And wherever one goes, you can find it by using this spell on the other.”

“Really?” Jessie breathed, feeling excited.

“Just so,” Aunt Rowena nodded, “It will make an invisible line from one object to the other. A line that you can easily follow.”

“Then we can use it to find Papa and Jude!” Jessie exclaimed.

“N – no. I'm so sorry, lass,” Auntie Rowena denied, shaking her head, “I thought of that as well. But you see, Jude and Gabriel have nothing with them that we can trace. And so, we must find a different spell to use...”

All the happiness in Jessie's heart seemed to leak out as she sat in the chair. Aw, man. They were so close to having a spell to find her boys, but it wouldn't work... Aunt Rowena patted Jessie's shoulder before turning back to her own book, leaving Jess to sit and think hard. Hmm. What did Jude and Papa have with them? Probably not much. And remembering that they didn't have anything only made Jessie feel worse...

As she sat in the wooden chair, Jessie's eyes slowly glanced back over at her uncles. By now, uncle Dean was off the phone and kneeling in front of uncle Cas's chair. They were both hugging each other and whispering, trying to comfort each other while Jude was gone. Uncle Cas's hand was on uncle Dean's shoulder and Dean was holding it there; trying so hard to make uncle Cas feel better. Jessie blinked and their joined hands from a distance and sighed. Poor guys. They just wanted their little boy back...

But as she stared at her uncles' hands, Jessica caught sight of their wedding rings shining in the light... And an idea slowly started to form in her mind. Huh. Wedding rings. Uncle Cas and uncle Dean's wedding rings looked exactly the same. They were probably made of the same stuff... And Daddy and Papa's rings looked exactly the same, too... And Papa was probably still wearing his... Which meant...

Dad!” Jessica gasped, jumping up from the chair.

Her sudden shout got the attention of almost everyone in the room, including her dad. At the bookshelf, his eyes got real big and he instantly walked over with uncle Bobby and uncle Crowley behind him. Dean and Cas lifted their heads to see her too, probably wondering why she just yelled.

“What is it, Jess?” Daddy asked, walking up with a worried look on his face.

Before saying anything, Jessie reached out and grabbed his giant hand. She carefully wiggled the gold and diamond ring off his finger, which made him very confused.

“What are you doing?” he asked, sounding so lost.

“Here, Auntie 'wena,” Jessie said, holding out her dad's wedding ring, “Will this work?”

Jess had never seen such amazement and happiness in Aunt Rowena's eyes before. The orange-haired lady sprung up from her seat and gasped, covering her mouth with one hand and taking the gold ring with the other.

“Oh my word, you are the brightest star in the heavens, child!” she sang, taking the ring out of Jess's hand and giving her a dainty hug, “This is going to work perfectly!”

While Aunt Rowena bustled around to get a few things out of her bag, uncle Dean and uncle Cas walked over to join everyone at the table.

“What's going on?” uncle Dean asked.

“Uh, something with my ring,” Dad answered.

“It's a spell, Dad,” Jessie explained, “Auntie 'wena's gonna do a spell and its gonna make a line from your ring to Papa's.”

“Wh – what?” Dad sputtered, his eyes getting real big, “You – you can find Gabe?”

“And Jude?” uncle Cas gasped.

“Indeed I can,” Aunt Rowena grinned, pointing at her other books, “Clear off this desk. Right now.”

Nobody wasted time. They all started shoving the heavy books off the table and into the floor, clearing a big space on the table for Aunt Rowena to do her magic. She started by laying out a big black sheet of fabric on the wood and placing a few different objects in each corner. Then, she used a piece of yellow chalk to draw a round circle in the middle and gently placed Dad's ring in the center of it. Everyone watched her work, feeling jittery and excited. Oh boy, Jessie couldn't wait for her to do the spell! She couldn't wait to see Jude and Papa again! Once everything was in place, Aunt Rowena hovered her hand over the ring and started to read from the book.

Donatam revocare vinculum ruptum est,” she recited with a grin, “Quod facis in geminae.”

At first, nothing seemed to happen. Everyone blinked down at Dad's ring in the center of the circle and waited, excited to see if the spell was going to work or not. But then, the gold band started to glow. A pretty yellow light started to shine from the metal, making it look like a tiny golden glow stick. As soon as the light shined, a smile of relieve burst across every face in the room. They did it! They made a spell! Dad's ring was going to lead them to Papa and Jude! Aunt Rowena snapped her book shut with a smirk.

“Let's go get our song birds out of that cage,” she hummed.

Being an archangel, Gabriel didn't really take notice of hunger. He liked the taste of candy, of course, but his vessel always stayed perfectly full. One of the many perks of being celestial. But while Gabe sat in the cage with his little nephew, he could actually hear Jude's stomach rumbling. The kid was holding onto his own abdomen like he was smuggling a growling cat, wincing every time it made a noise. Plus, the poor boy's lips looked as dry as a desert. And seeing him in such pain made Gabriel feel like shit. Ugh, it would be so easy to give Jude something to eat or drink if they were outside of this cage. But there was nothing he could do about it from in here, and it really pissed him off. Freaking Naomi. How the hell could she leave a poor kid in a cage to starve to death like an animal? Jude eventually rested his head on Gabriel's shoulder and sighed.

“I'm thirsty, uncle Gabe,” the kid mumbled.

Gabriel gulped and tightened his arm around his nephew, feeling more useless than an eraser on the end of a permanent marker.

“I... I know, lil' guy,” the archangel sighed, “We'll get you something to eat and drink soon. I promise. When we get out of here, I'll take anywhere you want to go. McDonald's, Chuck E. Cheese -”

“Home,” Jude interrupted, raising his head to blink up at Gabe with serious blue eyes, “I want to go home.”

Gabe's heart throbbed with pain. Ah, shit. He really wanted to go home too... The archangel reached up to ruffle his nephew's dark hair, trying to lighten the mood with an affectionate touch. But it didn't work. The distress and grief in Jude' eyes stayed exactly the same. In fact, the kid only looked down and coughed, wheezing out a dry and pitiful hack that made Gabriel cringe...

And in that moment, as he listened to Jude's tiny, miserable cough, Gabriel felt absolutely fed up. He was done with the angels. Done with Heaven. Done with the cage. The family he came from meant nothing to him now. Naomi was right. The Winchesters were Gabriel's real family. And come hell or high water, he was going to get Jude out of this cage alive, no matter what he had to do.

With a rush of empowerment surging through him, Gabriel carefully leaned Jude away so that he could climb to his feet. The archangel set his sight on the wall of bars in front of him, striding over to take one metal rod in each hand. As soon as he clenched his fists around them, he let his grace shine, using as much celestial power he could muster to try and pull the bars apart. With the introduction of Gabe's powerful aura, the whole room lit up and began to shake. The walls shuddered and small pebbles rattled violently on the stone floor. Air and energy were rushing throughout the room, surrounding Gabriel's true form with light and strength to aid his powerful grip... But the bars didn't move at all.

Gabriel was using every last scrap of his cosmic grace, channeling it all into his hands and arms, and pulling with everything he had in him. But it was no use. His Father's Enochian spell was too strong. And the longer he held onto the metal, the more it felt like the spell was draining the very life out of his body. It didn't matter how hard Gabe tried to break open the cage from the inside. He could have stood there until the end of time trying to pry those bars apart but nothing would have changed. Son of a bitch! Why the hell did Dad have to make this spell so strong?!

Once he figured out that his grace wasn't going to do a damn thing, Gabriel eventually let go of the bars and retreated back inside his vessel. The room went dark and still and the archangel felt woozy on his feet. He dipped to the side a little bit, but caught himself before he fell completely. Whoa. Trying to break free almost knocked him out. That wouldn't have been good. Especially for Jude... Gabe turned around to see his nephew sitting on the floor with a look of hopefulness. Jude had buried his head in his arms while Gabe's grace was out, but now he was blinking up at him in the faint light.

“D – did it work?” he whispered.

Gabriel gulped before sadly shaking his head.

“Sorry, Superman,” he huffed, feeling worse than shit.

Nope. It didn't work. They were still stuck behind bars with nothing for Jude to eat or drink. Sick to his stomach, the archangel shuffled over to rest his head against the other wall of the cage. What could he do now? He couldn't pray to anyone, they wouldn't be able to hear him. He couldn't break through the spell, it was too strong. The part that upset Gabe the most was the fact that he couldn't give his nephew a simple drink of water. That was all the kid needed. A sip of water. Such a simple request that he couldn't fill.

While Gabriel fretted over Jude's well-being, a sparkle caught his eye.

It was a yellow shine that came from his hand and it startled him. At first, he thought his grace was still lingering outside his vessel. It took a second of staring for the archangel to realize that the light wasn't coming from his hand, but from the ring on his finger. The band was blaring like a beacon, glowing golden yellow. And as soon as he saw the divine light emitting from his ring – his wedding ring; the precious band of gold that tied him to Sam Winchester forever – Gabriel knew what it meant. Against all odds, the Winchesters had figured out a way to breech the cage. The archangel could practically feel the magic swirling in the metal on his finger. That group of crazy hunters had done it. They put a spell on Gabe's ring to find them.

“J – Jude,” Gabriel stuttered with a grin, spinning around to hold out his hand, “Jude, look!”

From the floor, the little boy lifted his eyes to see his uncle's wedding ring and his mouth fell open in shock.

“What did you do, uncle Gabe?” he asked.

“Nothing, kid, it's – it's a spell,” Gabriel sang, “Our family must have figured something out.”

Jude gasped and scurried to his feet, jumping up to grab hold of Gabe's left hand and tug it close. He blinked at the shining jewelry before looking back up with eagerness.

“You mean... they found us?” he squeaked.

“I think so,” Gabriel nodded.

An excited giggle escaped Jude's dry lips and he suddenly clobbered Gabe's torso with a hug. The archangel held his nephew close and let out a chuckle of his own. Yes! The Winchesters were coming! The cavalry was on its way! Oh, he knew it would only be a matter of time. Gabe couldn't wait to grab Sam by the face and kiss him hard. He couldn't wait to hold his Jessie-rabbit and tell her how much he loved her. He couldn't wait to scoop Dickie up and scratch his furry belly. Gabe couldn't wait to be surrounded by his family again.

But while Gabe and Jude embraced in a celebration of excitement, a sudden breeze wafted through the room.

Gabriel instantly hid his left hand in his pocket. He knew that an angel had flown into the room and he wanted to keep his magic ring a secret. Once the glowing band was hidden from view, Gabe turned toward the source of the breeze and carefully pushed Jude behind his back. He wanted to keep a protective barrier between his nephew and whoever was there.

From a small distance in the dim light, Gabriel could see Naomi loitering near the wall. She looked the same as she did before, burn scars and all. But she didn't do anything when she came in. She only stood there and stared vacantly at the cage. Gabe was kind of glad that she was back, though. He was going to tell her to bring Jude some water.

“Hey. Joan of Arc,” Gabe called, his voice echoing around the room, “I know you're busy trying to plot revenge or whatever, but this kid needs a drink.”

For a second, Naomi didn't do anything. She didn't even blink. The angel just stood there near the wall like she didn't even hear him. What the hell was her problem? Gabriel was about to say something else when he saw Naomi fall over. She landed face-down on the stone floor.

And there was an angel blade sticking out of her back.

Gabriel's heart thumped hard in his ribcage as he stared down at his sister on the ground. Holy shit. She was dead. Who the hell stabbed her? And how did she even appear in this room if she was already dead? It wasn't until Gabe raised his head that he noticed a shadowy figure lurking behind Naomi's corpse. The sight made Gabriel's grip tighten around Jude and his feet slide backward. The person slowly took a step closer to the cage, gradually putting themselves into the light. And Gabriel was met with the sight of someone he hadn't seen in a very, very long time...

“Raph...” Gabriel breathed, feeling his voice catch in his own throat.

The elder archangel smiled politely from inside his dark vessel.

“Hello, brother,” Raphael replied, “It's so good to finally see you again.”

Chapter Text

It was difficult for Jude to see the other angels in the room because uncle Gabe kept shoving him back to keep him hidden. The little boy knew that his uncle was just trying to protect him, but Jude was too anxious and curious to stay put. He kept leaning far around Gabe's shoulder, trying to steal a peek at Naomi and the guy that uncle Gabe called 'Raph.' Was he Raphael? The same Raphael that had all those Leviathan things? Why was Naomi on the floor? And why was that blade in her back? Was she really... dead?

Jude's sight moved through the cage bars from Naomi to the man who was walking closer. He was tall and wearing a black suit that had blood all over it. His eyes were strange; creepy and mean-looking. The more he moved toward the cage, the more uncle Gabe pushed Jude back to keep him out of the way.

“Gabriel,” Raphael said, his voice so deep and haunting that it gave Jude a chill, “It's been too long.”

“Not long enough if you ask me,” uncle Gabe spat back, making that smirky face he always wore, “I hear you've been vacationing in Purgatory, bro. Taking in the sights, meeting new friends. Trying to find yourself, but losing yourself instead. Isn't that right?”

Raphael stopped and smiled at uncle Gabe's words, but it was anything but friendly.

“Ah. You've been speaking with Naomi,” he said, glancing down to nudge the dead lady on the floor with his foot, “Always circulating the gossip. She was clever, I'll give her that. I can't think of anyone else with enough wits to capture the likes of you. And that nephilim at your back...”

Jude let out a tiny squeak as uncle Gabe's hand pushed him even more. The motion caused Jude to stand directly behind uncle Gabe. The little boy had to stand on the tips of his toes to see Raphael over Gabe's shoulder.

“Look, Riff-Raph, I've been trapped in here for Dad-only-knows how long and I'm not exactly in the mood for talking,” Gabe huffed, “So if you're gonna kill us, just do it. We're gonna end up dying from the sound of your stupid voice anyway. Might as well speed it up.”

A shiver raced down Jude's spine. Kill? Raphael was going to kill them? But, Jude didn't want to die! Why would uncle Gabe say that?! The little boy glanced up and down his uncle from behind... and noticed the yellow glow coming from his hand in his pocket. Oh. Gabe's ring was still glowing. That meant Dad and Papa were on their way and uncle Gabe knew it. Maybe he had a plan after all...

Before Raphael talked again, he paused to bend down and grab the blade in Naomi's back. He had to shake it a few times to get it loose from her body, but the shiny metal eventually slid out. The wet blood oozing out of Naomi's back made Jude sick to his stomach. Raphael flicked the dripping redness from the blade while he looked back to uncle Gabe.

“I would prefer to have this encounter remain peaceful,” Raphael said calmly, his low voice echoing around the room as he slid the blade into the holster on his side, “I wasn't lying. I really am glad that you're here. You see, I was going to find you on Earth myself. But luckily, Naomi has saved me the trouble.”

“Oh, yeah? That's sweet,” uncle Gabe replied with a smile, “Why did you want to find me? Did you want to catch a baseball game? Go fishing? Do bro stuff? I would love to bond with you, Raphie, but I can't do any of that from inside this cage. Sorry. You'll have to take a rain check.”

Jude glanced between the two grown-up angels, feeling his empty stomach cringe. He knew that uncle Gabe was making lots of jokes on purpose. Maybe he was trying to get Raphael to open the cage for them or something. But it seemed like Raphael wasn't going to come any closer. He stood next to Naomi's body and crossed his arms with a raised eyebrow.

“No,” Raphael snipped, “I want to extend an offer to you.”

When the angel's last word echoed around the room, Jude started to hear noises in the walls. He clung tighter to the back of uncle Gabe's jacket and looked around, hearing the creak of metal and repeated banging. It was like lots of hands were hitting the whole room from the other side. The noise only grew louder and louder, making Jude burrow himself into his uncle's back. What was that sound? Who was outside? What was happening?

“Heaven isn't quite the grand paradise that you remember, brother,” Raphael cooed, “It has become so much more...”

While Raphael talked, the door behind him flew open, letting in the smoky haze and gray light from outside. A few new people started to walk inside the room, all wearing suits like Raphael's. Only the new people had really sharp teeth. They wore crazy grins when they came in and looked at Jude and Gabe in the cage, tilting their heads and crouching near the ground like animals. Uncle Gabe must have known who – or what – they were, because he gasped and spun to wrap his free arm around Jude, covering him with a protective hug. Jude's heart started beating really fast in his chest. Those people were so scary!

“This is the dawn of a new world,” Raphael kept talking, “One that will eclipse our Father's broken creation and restore the balance of natural order...”

A loud bang echoed around the room, making Jude squeak and yank Gabe even closer. From the safety of his uncle's arms, Jude could see more and more gray light and smoke entering the room. It wasn't until he heard a few more bangs and screeches that the little boy realized that the walls were coming apart. They were being ripped apart and tossed on the ground on the outside. The roof of the room slid off too, putting the cage in complete light. More and more of those sharp-toothed people were slinking and stomping and crawling closer to the cage from all over the place.

The room around Jude and uncle Gabe had disappeared. The sharp-toothed people had ripped it down with their bare hands. And now, the cage was sitting in the middle of a gray, foggy field where lots and lots of people were laying on the ground, dead. Being in the light suddenly made Jude feel worse than when he was in the dark. He and uncle Gabe were out in the open, surrounded by mean, scary people outside the bars! What were they going to do? What if those people tried to eat them or something?! They were kicking and stomping over the dead people as they moved closer, making bad smells seep into Jude's nose. Outside the cage, Raphael took a small step and gestured to the sharp-toothed people around him.

“Say hello to Heaven's new army,” he smiled at uncle Gabe, “Vicious. Merciless. Accurate. Deadly. Able to withstand even the strongest celestial forces. The Leviathan have claimed this sacred land with me as their commander... And now, dear brother, I am offering you the chance to rule this new world at my side. Together, we can create a lasting paradise far more divine than our Father ever conceived.”

Everyone around the cage seemed to be waiting on uncle Gabe's reply. Raphael just stared at him and the sharp-toothed people hovered nearby with creepy faces and swaying bodies. It was really starting to freak Jude out. Why did Raphael want to make a new world with these people? Were they the bad Leviathan things that Naomi talked about? That wasn't good. Uncle Gabe knew that, right? Jude tore his eyes away from the cage bars to look up at Gabe, who was really quiet. His gold eyes flickered around at all the different faces, but he didn't seem scared. He actually seemed kind of serious. Uncle Gabe wasn't really thinking about agreeing with Raphael, was he?

“Huh. That's, uh, quite an offer,” Gabe mumbled, bobbing his head, “Hypothetically, if I were to say no to this deal, what would happen?”

“I would remove you from existence,” Raphael barked, his smile disappearing in a flash, “But that would be a real shame. I've always admired your independence, Gabriel. You're very intelligent and gifted. Of our remaining kin, you are the one I'd like to partner with the most... But if you refuse to help me create this new world, I would be left with no choice but to end you... And extend this offer to Lucifer instead...”

Uncle Gabe's face turned really pale and he blinked at Raphael in shock.

“L – Lucifer?” he repeated.

“Yes,” Raphael's smile raised again, “Much like you, our brother will be most delighted to escape the prison he is currently stuck in. After everything that our Father has done to him, I believe Lucifer will be more than willing to rebuild a new world on top of this forsaken wasteland... and he will be in need of a strong, stable vessel once he's free...”

Jude almost gasped. A vessel? Oh no, was he talking about uncle Sammy? The frightened little boy looked up to Gabe again and could see the horror in his eyes. Uncle Gabe knew that Raphael was talking about Lucifer using uncle Sammy, too.

“S – so... Let me get this straight,” uncle Gabe breathed, “I only have two options. Either join you and help these sharks take over Heaven, or you'll kill me and recruit Lucifer instead?”

“Yes,” Raphael nodded, “And now is the time to decide, brother. Look me in the eye and give me your answer. Will you side with us who have rightfully claimed Heaven, or will you join our dead kin on the battlefield?”

Everyone was looking at uncle Gabe; especially Jude, who was holding onto him so tensely. The little boy shook his head back and forth and whispered 'no' over and over again. No! Uncle Gabe couldn't join that mean man! He was crazy! Uncle Gabe glanced around at all the sharp-toothed people and sighed a long breath of defeat.

“Well... Before I decide, I think there's something you should know, Raphie...” he mumbled.

Jude whimpered and clung to his uncle even tighter, seeing eery delight grow on Raphael's smirking face.

“And what's that?” Raphael hummed, sounding so proud.

Jude saw uncle Gabe's eyes move away for a second before he looked back with a big giant smile.

“... Sam Winchester is standing right behind you,” he purred.

The devilish joy on Raphael's face vanished and he spun around to see uncle Sammy, who really was standing behind him. As soon as they were facing each other, uncle Sammy reared his fist back and punched Raphael right in the face. The evil angel stumbled over in pain, giving Jude and Gabe a clear view of the entire Winchester family standing in the smoky field.

Jude gasped in utter excitement. Uncle Sammy was here! And Jessie! And uncle Bobby and Crowley! And Rowena and all their doggies! And Dad and Papa! As soon as he saw his parents standing in the middle of the crowd, Jude let go of uncle Gabe and ran up to grab the bars of the cage.

Dad!” the little boy shouted gleefully, “Papa!

Daddy and Papa only had time to glance up and give Jude a pair of warm and relieved smiles before the sharp-toothed people attacked. They all started to clobber Jude's family, but everybody fought back. Dad, Papa, and uncle Sammy were hitting and slashing people with angel blades. Uncle Bobby was shooting the bad guys with one of his really loud guns, making big 'boom' sounds echo across the field. Uncle Crowley was swinging around a blade of his own, dodging punches by popping around in puffs of black smoke. Off to the side, Aunt Rowena was standing behind Jessie, casting spells in a rich accent that tossed bad guys through the air. And near the ground, Dickie and the other doggies were growling and biting the sharp-toothed people, jumping up to take them down and dog-pile on top of them.

A huge fight was going on outside the cage with Jude and uncle Gabe watching from behind the bars. The sharp-toothed people's heads morphed into giant mouths that leaked black ink and they went after Jude's family like walking snakes. Seeing all the people he loved being chased and attacked by those scary people made Jude so worried. But he was glad to see that all the years of using the buddy system came in handy. Uncle Bobby shot a bag guy that was going after Dad, and Dad killed one that was trying to bite Papa, and Papa threw his blade at one that was running toward uncle Sammy. Watching everyone team up together and fight was like seeing the Avengers assemble. They were all superheroes fighting villains, just like Jude always imagined!

From under the scuffle, Raphael crawled out and hid behind a line of sharp-toothed people. Jude tried to keep one eye on him – because he was the worst of all the bad guys there and needed to be stopped – but it was difficult to watch him when Jude was so happy to see the rest of his family. He noticed that Dad and Papa were trying to fight their way closer to the cage with each swing, always looking up to make sure they could see Jude through the bars. And each time he saw his parents' eyes, Jude smiled and waved. They were doing it! They really were trying to save Jude, just like they promised!

“Jude!” Papa called over the sounds of fighting, his blue eyes so big, “Are you alright?!”

“Yeah! I'm okay!” Jude shouted back.

A bad guy suddenly grabbed Papa by the shoulders and spun him around like he was going to bite him, but Daddy got there just in time to stab the bad guy in the neck. Jude clung to the metal bars and gazed out in awe, feeling so helpless. He wanted to be out there too, helping his parents get rid of bad guys, but that really strong spell was keeping the cage closed. He couldn't get out from the inside.

Papa!” Jessie's tiny voice rang through the air.

Jude and uncle Gabe both looked toward the sound of Jessie's shout and saw that Aunt Rowena was crumpled on the ground, holding her face like she had been hurt... And Raphael was stomping toward Jessie with an angel blade in his hand, backing her away from the rest of the fight. Fear and fury flew through Jude when he saw the mean angel trying to get Jessie alone. Raphael was going to hurt her! No! Jude couldn't let that happen! Jessie was his buddy! His best friend! He had to keep her safe!

“Raph! No!” uncle Gabe screamed, “You deal with me, okay!? You leave her alone! Hey! Dammit, Raphael, I'll do whatever you want! Just turn around!

But no matter how loud uncle Gabe cried out, Raphael didn't stop. He kept charging for Jessie, making her back up so fast that she accidentally tripped over a limp body and fell to the ground. And seeing his sweet Jessie in the path of an evil person made something strange happen inside Jude. Without even trying, his grace burst out, just like it did at the zoo a few days before. Only this time, it stayed out. The little boy could feel angel power surging all through his glowing arms – and the metal bars in his hands suddenly snapped apart. The spell was broken. The cage was open. And as soon as he saw the gap, Jude flew from the spot he was standing in and reappeared next to his cousin.

When Raphael tried to stab the sharp edge of his blade toward Jessie, Jude caught him by the wrist and clamped it hard. The little boy knew that his own body was glowing white because he could see the bright shine glistening in Raphael's dark eyes. The evil angel blinked down at Jude in total surprise and tried to yank his hand away, but Jude didn't let go. He was so angry about seeing Raphael try to hurt Jessie – and for being trapped away from his family for so long – that Jude was a statue of rage.

Eventually, Jude's glowing grace actually started to burn Raphael's skin. Jude could feel it shriveling up under his fingers, making pain flash on the guy's mean face. The evil angel groaned and cried, trying to hard to pull his wrist free. By the time Jude eventually let him go, Raphael's entire arm had turned into charred, ashy bone. He clutched his dead hand and backed up to look at it, glancing between the black bones and Jude's face with actual fear.

“M – my grace! You burned my grace!” he barked, “Wh – what are you?! How did you do this to me?!”

Jude didn't say anything. He just stood protectively in front of his cousin to keep her safe. Nobody was ever gonna mess with Jessie while he was around. Especially not a mean angel like Raphael.

“My, how the mighty have fallen.”

Raphael and Jude both looked toward the sound of uncle Crowley's voice. He had walked up to stand behind Raphael and twirl an angel blade around, smirking like he always did. Raphael only gulped and held his skeleton arm close, knowing that uncle Crowley had more power than him... and that he was probably going to die.

“Defeated by a mere child. That must sting something dreadful,” he purred, raising his blade up, “Time to say goodnight, mate.”

With one quick swing, uncle Crowley rammed his blade into Raphael's back. When the chrome pierced his skin, a super-bright light exploded from his body, sending out waves of grace like a huge bomb. Jude didn't move at all, even when the wind and energy tossed his short hair back. The shine burned away almost as fast as it came out, leaving the battlefield darker and Raphael empty. The bad guy slumped over afterward, plopping down between two other dead angels on the ground with his eyes and mouth frozen wide open.

Everything was quiet after that. The fighting must have stopped. But Jude didn't realize it until he felt a tug on his hand. He turned to the side to see Jessie's pretty face next to him, smiling so bright.

“Jude!” she sang, reaching out to hug him, “You're okay!”

Jude felt his grace slip back into his body as he wrapped his arms around Jessie. He was so glad she was okay! He had missed her so much! She looked exactly the same as the last time he saw her, clothes and all.

“I'm so happy to see you, Jessie,” he said with a grin.

While Jude and Jessie shared a giggling hug, uncle Gabe suddenly flew over and wrapped his arms around both of them. He gave the kids a good squeeze before reaching up to take Jessie's face in his hands and smile with watery eyes.

“Sunshine!” he grinned, staring at her like she was the prettiest thing in the world, “Holy crap, I missed you, baby girl!”

Papa!” she gasped back.

Jessie's arms shifted from Jude to uncle Gabe, jumping up to cling to his neck and hold him tight. They both breathed how much they missed each other while they spun around in circles. In the meantime, Jude caught sight of uncle Sammy running across the field. When Gabe sat Jessie back on the ground, uncle Sam tackled him; grabbing him with so much force that they almost fell over.

“Whoa! S – Sam!” uncle Gabe smiled, shifting around to hook both of his arms up and around Sam's neck, “Oh, Sammy-boy, I missed you so -”

Uncle Gabe couldn't finish his sentence because uncle Sam plunged their mouths together. Jude felt his own cheeks flare up with heat so he looked away, feeling embarrassed. Did Sammy and Gabe really have to kiss each other with their tongues like that? It must have tasted so gross. Jessie only giggled at her parents, seeming really glad that they were together again. Dickie dashed over and danced at their feet, wiggling and whining like he was happy to see uncle Gabe again.

While uncle Sam and Gabe embraced, the sound of really fast footsteps caught Jude's attention. The little boy turned around just in time to be smothered by his parents' long arms. Dad and Papa had reached out to curl him into a huge hug, both looking relieved. Jude was happily caught in the middle of his parents, grinning as big as his face would allow. He loved being surrounded by Dad and Papa! It was like he was already back home in the bunker again.

Jude,” Dad's voice was so high and worried in Jude's ear, “Oh my God. I'm so glad to see you, buddy.”

Lots of tingles raced down Jude's back as he felt his parents holding him so tight. The little boy reached up to hug them both back, but Papa pulled away to study him. He crouched down and gently grabbed Jude's head with both hands to inspect his face, looking at every detail of his nose, mouth, eyes, and hair.

“Are – are you alright, son? What did they do to you? Did they hurt you? I'll make it better. Just tell me. I'll heal you,” Papa uttered quickly, his eyes so big.

“I'm okay, Papa. I promise,” Jude nodded, “Uncle Gabe didn't let that mean Raphael guy hurt me. Or that Naomi lady either.”

Daddy let out a big breath and dropped his head, like he was really relieved to hear that Jude was safe. Papa nodded and petted Jude's hair with a smile, but his eyes were still watery. Why was he crying if Jude was okay? Maybe he just couldn't contain all the happiness. Papa leaned forward to kiss Jude's face before pulling him in for another hug. Jude didn't mind it at all. He dug both of his hands under Papa's trench coat and hugged him back too.

“I love you so much, Jude,” Papa whimpered, cradling the back of Jude's head so softly.

“I love you too, Papa,” the little boy mumbled with a smile.

At Papa's back, Daddy smiled and rubbed Jude's arm, looking so pleased that everyone was back together again. From the corner of his eye, Jude saw uncle Bobby, Crowley, and their dogs coming close to the rest of the family. All those sharp-toothed people were gone, though. Where did they go? From Papa's arms, Jude watched uncle Bobby bend down to help aunt Rowena stand back up.

“You alright there, darlin'?” he asked, making sure she was steady.

“Oh, yes. The tosspot just gave me a wee headache. Nothing an ol' Scottish broad can't handle,” she shrugged, touching the red mark on her face, “I've seen worse abuse from a hoard of girl scouts. Just ask that piglet you call a husband.”

Uncle Bobby gave a chuckle at Rowena's statement and helped her step over some dead bodies.

“It's good to see your gorgeous moose face, Sam,” uncle Gabe's voice echoed on the smoky air, “but how in the world did you guys get here?”

Uncle Gabe's question got almost everyone's attention. The Winchesters slowly crowded around in a circle so that they could all see each other to talk.

“Rowena did a spell that linked our rings together,” uncle Sam answered, raising his hand to show that his wedding ring was glowing too, “and we just followed the line.”

“I helped figure it out, Papa!” Jessie added with a smile.

Uncle Gabe leaned down to kiss the top of Jessie's yellow hair and held her hand, looking so proud.

“I brought everyone here to Heaven. At least, I thought it was Heaven,” Papa said, glancing around with confused eyes.

“This is Heaven, Castiel,” uncle Gabe sighed, sharing a look with Papa, “Remember that prayer we all heard a few days ago? Yeah. That was the sound of genocide. Raphael pretty much wiped everyone out...”

Jude watched as the sadness clouded over Papa's blue eyes. He was really upset to hear that his first home was all messed up. Jude hugged him closer, wanting to make him feel better.

“I guess Raphael let the Leviathan take over this place, huh?” Dad mumbled, glancing around at all the bodies on the ground.

“Looks like it,” uncle Bobby answered, “but they all took off runnin' when Raphael blew up. Not sure where they were goin'. Must have wanted to get away from us.”

“As sure as the sun rises, they'll be back, darling,” uncle Crowley grumbled, “Leviathan are more resilient than cockroaches and slipperier than a whore's backside...”

Uncle Sam nudged Crowley's shoulder and gestured forward.

“Dude. Not in front of the kids,” he hissed.

While Crowley and uncle Sam bickered back and forth under their breath about mentioning inappropriate things, Dad took a step forward. He glanced between uncle Gabe and Jude like he was happy and confused at the same time.

“I'm glad you two are okay, but how did you get out of the cage? I mean, I looked up from the fight and it was already broken. What happened?” Dad asked.

Jude gulped and finally let his arms slip off of Papa's shoulders. Of course, the little boy knew the answer to his dad's question. And by the look on uncle Gabe's face, he knew it too. Heat reappeared on Jude's cheeks as he timidly raised his hand.

“I... I broke it, Dad,” he admitted, “I don't know how I did it exactly, but when I saw that Jessie was in trouble, my grace came out and the bars snapped in my hands... I would have done it sooner if I knew I could break it,” he nodded, “but I... I didn't know...”

Everybody was quiet for a few seconds. They were all wearing shocked faces, which made Jude's cheeks grow hotter. He really wished that he could use his grace the right way, like Jessie. Maybe if he did, he would have known that he was able to open the cage and go home whenever he wanted.

“You broke the cage... from the inside?” Aunt Rowena gasped, looking up the the grown-ups, “I thought that Enochian spell was too powerful for anyone to break through.”

“She's got a point,” uncle Bobby nodded, “If Michael and Lucifer can't even make a dent in their cage, how in the world did Jude break this one? Maybe it was a weak spell or somethin'.”

“Ha! I don't think so,” uncle Gabe laughed, “I tried using my entire grace to break those bars from in there. I wore myself out just trying to bend them. They didn't even move an inch.”

“But Jude broke them without even trying?” uncle Sammy asked, “How is that even possible?”

“I suppose the tyke has some powerful grace,” uncle Crowley purred, “He is a cosmic being... Legendary...”

“Biblical...” Dad breathed.

Jude noticed that his parents were sharing a worried stare with each other, like they were thinking the same thing. But Jude was lost. Biblical? What did that mean? Did it mean that Jude was different than everybody else? Was he a hero, like his parents? Or was he a monster, like those sharp-toothed people? Jude didn't want to be different. He didn't want to have super grace. He just wanted to be normal like his friend Ollie. He just wanted to be a kid. He just wanted to go home... Jude turned around to rest his head back on his Papa's shoulder and breathe in the smell of the bunker on his clothes.

“Papa, can I go home now?” the little boy pleaded, closing his eyes so that he wouldn't have to see the dead bodies lying everywhere.

Papa's arms snaked around Jude's back like a warm blanket.

“Of course, son,” he whispered back.

The angels flew everyone home as soon as possible, leaving the corpse-riddled battlefield of Heaven behind. Gabe didn't know what was going to happen to the place now. And frankly, he didn't care. Heaven wasn't the home he remembered and would probably never be the same again. Especially with those damn Leviathan running around. All the Winchesters could do now was protect Earth to the best of their ability. And do it from the safety of their own home.

Gabe didn't realize just how much he adored his underground bunker with the Winchesters until he found himself standing in it again. The sight and smell alone were enough to make his entire soul feel at ease. Ah. Finally. Heaven – even in its earlier stages – couldn't hold a candle to this Batcave. The tiled walls, concrete floors, ancient books, old beds, and shelves full of junk were all he ever wanted. This was where he belonged. Surrounded by home and Sam's long arms.

Sammy never let go of Gabe's hand. Even when they showed back up at the bunker, the kid kept a hold of the archangel like he was afraid that Gabe might disappear again. Gabe tried telling him over and over that he wasn't going anywhere. But each time, Sammy nodded, mumbled 'I know', and kissed Gabe's lips while squeezing his fingers tight. The poor kid obviously missed the trickster while he was away. Jessie clung to her Papa's side for most of the time too, but she bounced back and forth between Gabe and Jude, constantly making sure that they were both okay. Dickie was probably the most ecstatic, though; jumping, wiggling, and barking like a puppy. Gabe carried him around for almost an hour and Dickie stayed right by his side even when he put him down. Gabe loved that little hump-machine so much.

The first thing Dean and Cas did when they arrived home was rush Jude to the kitchen to feed him. Rowena insisted on making him a batch of her 'prize winning' cookies, which made Gabe really curious as to what contest they must have won. Gabriel was privately relieved to see Jude gulp down a glass of water and chow down on some sweets. Poor kid deserved it. Dean and Cas sat with him the whole time he ate, asking him questions about his stay in the cage and reminding him of how much they loved him. Jessie sat at the table with him too, soaking up his words like a sponge.

Gabe and the giant moose attached to his side both loitered in the kitchen doorway and listened. But the more Gabriel heard Jude relive their time in the cage, the more he was haunted by it. Of course he felt sorry for all of his innocent dead siblings; the ones who were just trying to do some good for humanity, just like their Father told them to. And, even though he was a cruel, heartless, evil bastard, Gabriel kind of felt bad about Raphael. Gabe wished that there was some way he could have talked his brother out of going crazy. Gabe liked to think that if he had stayed in Heaven, none of this would have happened. But he knew it wasn't true. Heaven was doomed from the moment his Father left.

The part that ate at Gabriel most of all was the mention of his brother Lucifer. Back before mankind was ever made, Gabe and Lucifer were pretty close. In fact, Luci was the one that taught Gabe most of his tricks. But once their Dad shifted his favoritism toward his own creation, Lucifer turned into a downright arrogant asshole... And just thinking about Lucifer being free – and using Gabriel's husband as a vessel – was enough to make the archangel sick to his stomach. No. If Lucifer was going to try to use Sam, Gabriel didn't want him out of that cage. Luci was Gabe's brother and he loved him, but his freedom wasn't worth Sam's life. Nothing was worth Sam's life. It was priceless...

Gabe tried to calm himself down from this terrible thoughts as he watched his family cuddling each other in the kitchen. Everything was fine, now. Besides, Lucifer was still in his cage... right? Oh shit, what if he wasn't? What if Naomi or someone else had already let him out? What if he broke it open like Jude did? What if he was going to come after Sam?

“You alright there, blondie?”

Gabriel snapped out of his thoughts at the sound of Bobby Singer's voice. He and Crowley were both standing in the hallway with Sam and Gabe, recovering from their fight with the Leviathan. Sam's worried eyes were already on Gabe, probing him for answers to Singer's question. And Gabe tried his best not to let the emotion show on his face.

“Uh, yeah. I'm totally okay. Right as rain. Good as gold. Better than ever,” the archangel lied briskly.

None of the men around him were convinced, of course. Bobby and Crowley gave him flat looks and Sam furrowed his eyebrows together anxiously. The judging stares were enough to make Gabriel huff a breath and roll his eyes.

“Alright, fine,” he grumbled, “I'm just... thinking about my brother...”

“I would apologize for ending Raphael's life, but I'm not in the mood for faking it right now. You'll have to try again when I'm feeling more sympathetic,” Crowley purred in his rich accent.

Bobby only nudged his demon husband and gave him a stern look as if he thought that comment was over the line. But staring at Crowley actually gave Gabriel an idea. The guy was the king of Hell, right? He would know how Lucifer and Michael were doing in their cage, wouldn't he?

“Actually, Raph's not the brother I was talking about,” Gabriel admitted, sparing Sam a quick glance before stepping close to Crowley to whisper, “Have you seen Lucifer? In the cage?”

Crowley let out a gust of air and put on a strange expression.

“I actively try to avoid peeking in on the two archangels quarreling in my basement,” the demon explained, “It's hard to tell if they've finally succeeded in killing each other or not. Why do you ask?”

Gabriel gulped hard and glanced back at his own husband again. Looking up at Sam's puppy eyes made Gabe's stomach twist with worry. He had to know if Luci was still kicking down there. He had to know if his moose was going to be safe.

“I want to go down there and see him,” Gabriel finally said, “I've gotta know if he's still kicking.”

Crowley's eyebrows raised and he smirked as if Gabriel had just told him that he wanted a grand tour of his demonic mansion.

“You want to pay a visit to Lucifer? Alone?” he clarified.

“Yes,” Gabriel agreed.

“No,” Sam suddenly denied, sounding defiant, “I'm going with him.”

Gabriel gasped and spun around to shake his head in protest.

“Like hell you are,” he breathed, “Your giant moose ass isn't going anywhere near that cage!”

“Then neither are you,” Sam argued, his eyes searching all over Gabriel's face, “Gabe, you and I both vowed to take care of each other, remember? To fight side-by-side no matter what. I'm not letting you face Lucifer alone.”

“But Sam, He's – !”

“It's not happening,” Sam said firmly, “I just got you back and you're not going anywhere without me. I can't let you go again, Gabe. I just can't...”

Gabriel gulped hard, able to hear the sincere emotion in his husband's shaky voice. The poor kid was right. They really did vow to love and protect each other forever. Gabe glanced down at their joined hands, seeing the golden rings on their fingers. The shine from Rowena's spell had already burned out, but the amber metal still glistened in the light. Ah, dammit. Gabe couldn't say no to his moose...

“Okay,” the archangel forced himself to utter, raising his head to look up into Sam's beautiful eyes again, “We'll do it together.”

Chapter Text

Sam would have been lying if he said that he wasn't nervous about facing Lucifer again. After everything he went through with the Devil in the past – running, fighting, being tortured, having hallucinations – Sam knew what he was in for. Just the thought of being in the same room with him was enough to make Sam sick to his stomach... but if seeing Lucifer was something that Gabriel needed to do – no matter the reason – Sam wanted to go with him.

In his heart, Sam understood that Gabriel didn't see Lucifer the same way everyone else did. To Gabe, Lucifer was his brother. One of his very first friends. Someone who probably protected him and taught him things. And Gabe was one of the few beings who actually knew Lucifer and Michael before mankind was ever created. And Sam wanted to respect their bond as much as he could, because he knew from experience how important a brotherly relationship was. In fact, it was part of the reason he didn't hesitate to go with Gabriel to Hell. Sam wanted to support his husband through this personal encounter, which was bound to be difficult.

Sam and Gabriel gave Dean and Cas a brief heads-up about what they were going to do and made sure that their daughter was safe with them before sneaking out to join Bobby and Crowley outside the bunker. Gabe took them all to Bobby's garage, where the portal they created seven years before was still active behind a workbench. The king himself led all of them into Hell. Sam kept a pretty tight hold on Gabe's hand all the way into the pit. He hadn't been to Hell for a while and was nervous about being immersed in the eery atmosphere again. Gabe, on the other hand, entered Hell with his head tilted down and a look of determination on his face. Sam couldn't remember the last time he saw his archangel behave so seriously. It made him worry about Gabe's time in that cage with Jude in Heaven. What kind of things did Naomi and Raphael say? What did seeing all of those corpses do to poor Gabriel's mentality?

Once they arrived in Hell, Crowley led them down a series of halls that looked like corridors in a dark castle. Again, just as he did the last time he was there, Sam tried his best to tone out the sound of damned souls being tortured. He focused on the feeling of Gabe's small hand inside his own; how warm and soft his skin was. Crowley eventually stopped at a specific door and turned around with a grim look on his face.

“I should probably warn you of what to expect before you go in,” the demon hummed, eyes fixed on Gabe, “When Michael and Lucifer were tossed into that cage twelve years ago, it wasn't in the most stable condition. We've put spells around the outside of the cage to accommodate for the reach of their grace, so don't get too close. I would recommend staying five feet back if you want to remain on the outside of the bars. Otherwise, they can transport you inside. A few of my men found that out the hard way...”

Sam gulped and glanced down at Gabe, figuring that the news would make him less eager to see his brothers. But somehow, he only seemed more determined. The archangel gave a stern nod before turning to look up at Sam.

“Wait here, moose. I'll be right back,” he said.

Gabriel started to let go of Sam's hand, but Sam gasped and squeezed it tighter.

No,” he denied, “Gabe, I've already told you I'm not gonna let you do this alone. Besides, Jessica would want us to stay together. Buddy system, remember?”

Sam knew that the mention of their daughter would help persuade Gabe to let him come along. And almost on cue, the archangel's golden eyes softened and his planned argument eventually resulted in a defeated breath.

“Alright,” Gabe muttered, “Just let me do all the talking, okay?”

“I always do,” Sam reminded with a wink.

A smile briefly appeared on Gabe's pretty face, which Sam was so glad to see, but it faded away when he turned back to Crowley.

“Ready when you are, your highness,” the archangel mumbled.

Crowley shared a small glance with Bobby, who nodded sagely in agreement, before turning around and cracking up in the door. Chills sprang up on Sam's skin at the screech of metal hinges and he gripped Gabe's hand tighter. He didn't expect the space beyond to be so dark. But, then again, he wasn't sure what to expect. Even though he felt his guts churning, Sam stepped in stride with Gabriel toward the door.

The two of them walked hand-in-hand into what seemed like a dark void. It almost felt like they were wandering into a different dimension. The space around them resembled the outdoors at night, with streaks of lightening zapping overhead and a blanket of fog hovering over the ground. Other than the flashing bolts in the sky, the only source of light in the area was a huge square-shaped wall of fire around a metal cage. This cage was much bigger than the one Gabe and Jude were trapped in, but it was darker too. More sinister and menacing. The spells etched around the box were solid and glowing, but the metal itself was weathered, like it contained a vicious wild animal instead of two archangels.

Even from the distance, Sam could see a pair of shining red eyes staring at him.

Though his heart was pounding and he knew that Lucifer's sight was zeroed on him, Sam focused his attention on the sensation of Gabriel's warm fingers clinging to his hand. As long as he was with Gabe, Sam could face anything. Even the devil himself. Luckily, Gabe seemed to be more comfortable with his brother's ominous presence. His feet didn't stop until he was only a foot from the wall of flames.

Once they were close enough to the cage, the first thing Sam noticed was that Lucifer was completely alone. Adam, who was supposed to be hosting Michael, was gone. Sam's eyes quickly scanned the entire cage over and over, but there was no sign of anyone else. Gabriel must have noticed it too, because he was absorbing the sight as much as Sam. Through the curtain of blazing heat, Lucifer's attention shifted from the man to the archangel beside him.

“Gabriel...” Lucifer breathed, sliding his fingers through the bars to grip them and bring his own face close.

“Hey, bro,” Gabe smirked, tossing a quick wave with his free hand.

“I was pretty sure I killed you,” Lucifer lightly pointed out, tilting his head to the side.

“Yeah. Not so much,” Gabe shrugged, “I've fooled a lot of people with that trick. Always pays off to see the look on my murderer's face when I come back.”

Lucifer gave a half chuckle, making the creepy sound echo into the void.

“Clever,” he complimented.

“Thanks. I learned it from the best,” Gabe nodded.

Sam knew that Gabe was referring to Lucifer when he mentioned the best. And Lucifer himself seemed to recognize the reference too because his red eyes grew soft in the light of holy fire. But the tenderness only lasted a few seconds. Bitter irritation slowly clouded back over his expression when he spared another glance at Sam.

“It's a bit odd, isn't it? You holding hands with my vessel like that?” Lucifer mentioned, gesturing toward Sam and Gabe's tangled fingers.

Sam's first instinct was to tighten his grip. His muscles contracted on their own, clamping onto Gabe's hand with enough force to turn his own knuckles white. Thankfully, Gabe seemed indifferent to the shift of attention. He only raised up their joined hands and smiled a little.

“Oh. You mean my husband,” Gabe casually corrected with a giant grin, “No, it's not odd at all. We hold hands a lot, actually.”

Sam gulped, fearing that the news of his and Gabriel's marriage would piss Lucifer off or freak him out or something. But to Sam's honest surprise, Lucifer only gave a pitiful smile. The guy seemed totally calm about finding out that his vessel was wed to his brother. Maybe he already knew somehow...

“How endearing,” he purred, “To be honest, I was hoping you had brought him as a gift for me...”

Sam's heart wrenched in his chest at the dark tone of Lucifer's voice. A gift? Did Lucifer really think that Gabriel would hand Sam over like a piece of meat? All traces of humor fled Gabe's face and he inched in front of the tall man protectively.

“Keep dreaming, Luce,” he spat.

Gabriel's defense of Sam must have been humorous to Lucifer because he chuckled again, seeming entertained. But Gabe remained a stone in front of Sam. The man was starting to feel really uncomfortable. Why were they here, again? Why did Gabriel even want to see Lucifer? Beside Sam, Gabriel reclaimed his calm composure in order to ask,

“Where is Mikey and his half-pint vessel?”

Inside the cage, Lucifer glanced around and dramatically shrugged his shoulders.

“Gone,” he replied simply.

Sam's eyes narrowed. Gone? How could they be gone? The cage was supposed to trap them all in there for eternity. Did they break out? Or did Lucifer do something terrible to them? Gabe must have been wondering the same thing.

“Where did they go?” the golden archangel asked.

“Away,” Lucifer mumbled.

Gabriel was clearly sick of Lucifer's lousy answers. He shook his head a little bit out of frustration and Sam could sense his level of disappointment just from the tone of his sigh. Was Gabe expecting to get something different out of this encounter? Maybe he was hoping to have an honest and open discussion with Lucifer; something similar to what Sam and Dean did on a regular basis. It broke Sam's heart to think that Gabriel couldn't have the same brotherly bond that he did with Dean.

“Fine,” Gabe eventually huffed, “I didn't come here to fight with you... I just wanted to tell you that... Raphael is dead.”

Genuine concern and pain flashed over Lucifer's face and he leaned close to the bars again. The red in his eyes flared up, making the orbs burn like rubies in the dark.

“What?” he breathed.

“Raphael. He's dead. Not fake-dead, like I was. But really dead. I was there when it happened... and I thought you'd like to know,” Gabriel explained carefully.

Lucifer was visibly upset by the news. He bowed his head for a second, letting his eyes vacantly search the ground, before lifting it again to stare out through the bars. His sight was focused on Gabriel this time, and the sheer amount of concentrated anger in his eyes was enough to give Sam more chills.

“Raphael was one of the few people who stood up for me when Dad threw me out... He was our brother, Gabriel... You're telling me that you were there when he died... But you didn't do anything to stop it? How could you let him die like that?” Lucifer hissed.

Sam knew those words cut Gabe to the bone. He could see the pain in the poor guy's honey eyes. Why did Lucifer have to say things like that? Why did he always have to make things worse? Despite the harsh comments from his brother, Gabriel remained calm and it made Sam abundantly proud. The golden archangel simply took a big breath and tugged on Sam's hand.

“I could go into annoyingly accurate detail about why Raphael brought it upon himself, but there's no use in wasting my breath,” Gabe admitted, already starting to back away, “I did what I came to do. Maybe I'll see you around sometime, bro. Enjoy your eternal solitude.”

Sam shuffled along with Gabe's hold as they started to walk back toward where they came from, but kept his eyes on Lucifer behind them. He was secretly grateful that they were leaving, but part of him was worried. For some reason, the devil was smiling again, watching Sam and Gabe depart with a pleasantly smug expression.

“So long, Gabriel,” he called sweetly, “... Don't forget to tell Jessie that her uncle Lucifer says hi...”

Sam's blood ran cold and his feet stopped dead in their tracks. Holy shit, he said Jessie! How the hell did Lucifer know about Jessie?! They never mentioned her! How did the devil know that they had a daughter?! How did he know her name?! In a rush of fear and adrenaline, Sam spun around to face the glowing red eyes in the distance.

Wh – what did you say?!” Sam gasped with terror.

Lucifer only beamed from behind the bars, delighting in Sam's horrified reaction. In the meantime, Gabriel was yanking firmly on Sam's hand, physically pulling him toward the door.

“Don't listen to him, Sam,” Gabe pleaded, “He's just trying to -”

He said her name!” Sam breathed, “Gabe, he said her name!”

“He's playing with you. That's his specialty. Trust me, Sam, I know,” Gabriel explained, forcing Sam to march along with him, “Tune out his bullshit and come on.”

“But, he - !”

“He's royally screwed and trying to use you to get out of the cage,” Gabe explained in a hushed whisper, “Go!”

The rest of Sam's fearful argument got lodged in his throat when Gabriel finally pushed him all the way through the door. The sight of the cage surrounded by holy fire – housing Lucifer, who was grinning so eerily toward him – was suddenly shut from his view. Sam and Gabriel were back in the dark corridor of Hell, where Bobby and Crowley were waiting for them.

Sam's entire body was quivering. Thoughts of Lucifer coming near his precious daughter were suddenly haunting his mind. Oh God, no! Sam couldn't let Lucifer put Jessie through the same torture that he endured. Just the thought of Lucifer purring corrupt ideas into her ear and forcing her to see horrible visions made Sam want to vomit and punch something. Shit, what if Lucifer somehow broke out of the cage?! What if he tried to hurt Sam's baby girl? Or worse! What if he tried to use her as a vessel?!

“Let me back in there!” Sam growled, already trying to fight his way to the door.

“No! Hey! Sam! It's over,” Gabriel said, grabbing him by the arm.

“He said our daughter's name! He's gonna hurt her!” Sam explained.

“No, he's not! He's stuck in there!” Gabriel barked back.

The archangel took the time to grab both of Sam's biceps and spin him around, making them face each other so that he could bore those golden eyes into Sam's frenzied soul.

“Listen to me, Sam,” he almost begged, “If he could hurt Jessica, he would have done it already. But he hasn't because he can't. Lucifer is just trying to get you upset because he knows it makes you vulnerable. The weaker you are, the easier you are to manipulate, the more likely you'll say yes... Don't you see? They're mind games, kiddo. Trust me. Just let it go.”

Every instinct in Sam's body was telling him to fight his way back into the void and face Lucifer head on; to protect his child before any harm could come to her. But as he stared down into Gabriel's soft and gentle eyes, Sam could feel his rapid heart rate gradually slowing. Gabe was absolutely right. Sam knew from personal experience the extent of Lucifer's manipulative prowess. The guy could make anyone do almost anything. And he really would have tried to hurt Jessica if he could. Sam had no doubt that the Winchesters would be his first target.

Once his head was in the right place, Sam forced his strained muscles to relax. He let himself go limp in Gabe's arms, after which Gabe pulled him in for a hug. The archangel's hands slowly ran up and down his tall back, comforting him more and more with each stroke. Sam breathed in the sweet smell of Gabe's hair the whole time, remembering that their little girl's curls were the exact same shade of blonde...

“What in the hell happened out there?”

The sound of Bobby's voice made Sam completely snap back to his senses. He coughed and raised back up to face the old man and the demon next to him, who both seemed equally curious and confused.

“Nothing. Just Luci being Luci,” Gabriel sighed, turning toward Crowley, “By the way, commander crossroads, did you know that your toolbox is missing a few screwdrivers?”

“What?” Crowley asked, his eyebrows scrunching.

“Michael and Adam. They're gone. Did you misplace them or something?” Gabe prompted, crossing his arms and jutting his hip out.

Crowley's dark eyes widened and he shared a quick glance with Bobby.

“Believe me. No one has entered that void since we put those spells up over a decade ago. If Michael and Adam are missing, I can only assume that they were... obliterated. Reduced to ash or something. God only knows what those angels were doing to each other in there. The screaming was horrendous,” he shrugged.

The news of more dead brothers only seemed to worsen Gabriel's already fragile condition. Though he was putting up a brave, carefree mask, Sam could see the pain in his eyes. Gabe was more upset than he let on and Sam knew it. Because he knew Gabe better than anyone, inside and out.

“Great,” the archangel mumbled sadly, “That's just... Wow... Can you please put some more security detail on this place? I love my brother... but he needs to be supervised.”

“Consider it done,” Crowley agreed smoothly.

Though the king of Hell promised to keep Lucifer contained at all costs, Gabe didn't seemed comforted. Sam instantly wrapped an arm back around Gabriel's short shoulder and pulled him close. It was the only thing he could really do to offer him some support. Sam couldn't imagine the weight of Gabe's emotions in that moment and he wanted to do everything he could to help him. Right now, they needed to be with their daughter. They needed to be home; far away from all this horrible bullshit.

“We need to be with Jess, Gabe,” Sam said softly.

Gabriel turned to look up at him with the most vulnerable expression Sam had seen him wear all day.

“I know,” he nodded, wrapping both arms around Sam's waist, “Take me home, moose.”

Dean wasn't exactly sure why Gabriel wanted to visit his brothers in Hell. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he was forced to spend some time in a cage of his own. Maybe he felt sorry for them or something. All Dean knew for certain was that Gabriel was set on going, and that Sam was determined to go with him. Usually, Dean would have been dead against letting his little brother going to Hell and getting close to Lucifer without him there to protect him. But with Jude back home and in need of comfort, Dean didn't have much of a choice but to let them go alone. Sammy was a big boy; perfectly capable of handling himself. And he knew Gabe would guard Sam with his life. Still, Dean felt uneasy about it.

Luckily, Jessica didn't seem to notice that her parents were gone. She hung around with Jude talked to him about everything that happened while he was gone – including a short visit she paid to Oliver's house, which nobody knew about. Cas never left Jude's side either. He was like a shadow, hovering beside their son every second. Dean could definitely tell that his 'mother bear' instinct had kicked in. Being without Jude, even for a short time, was enough to recharge Cas's parental worries.

It only took Sam and Gabe a few hours to get back to the bunker. And when they returned, Dean could immediately see that something happened to them while they were away. He met them in the control room, where he was greeted by Sam's pale face and Gabe's thousand-yard stare. They were both shaken to the core. Son of a bitch. What was going on now?

“Just lay it on me,” Dean grumbled as he walked up to the two of them, “Tell me what happened.”

Gabriel seemed unable to form words, so he looked up to Sammy instead, who easily took the reigns.

“Michael and Adam are gone. We don't know what happened to them. Lucifer is in the cage alone. And he... he mentioned Jessica by name, even though we never told him about her,” Sam blurted, his voice sterile and flat.

Dean's mouth actually fell open a little. Lucifer knew Jessica by name? But how? Shit, did he know about Jude too? How the hell did Satan find out about the Winchesters' kids? Was he able to pick up angel radio in the cage or something? And what happened to Michael and Adam? Why was Lucifer alone? What the hell?

“Uh...” Dean mumbled, unsure of which of his many questions to ask first.

Before he could even pick one out, Sam cut him off by stepping forward to place a huge hand on his shoulder. There was a mixture of defeat and anxiety in Sammy's puppy-dog eyes, a kind of heartbroken emotion that Dean hadn't seen for a long time.

“You were right, Dean,” the kid breathed, his voice high and full of pain, “We're gonna have to train Jessica and Jude how to defend themselves. They need to know about everything. Spells, sigils, weapons, angels, demons, all of it... Hunting is going to effect them whether we want it to or not. And they deserve to be prepared when it comes.”

Dean gulped hard, glancing from his little brother to the motionless archangel behind him. They were both dead serious about teaching Jude and Jessica some hunting skills. And although it was the last thing he ever wanted to put his child through, Dean knew it was the right thing to do. The dangers of hunting were already effecting Jude and Jess. Hell, they were born into it; grace and all. Dean always knew this moment would eventually come. But honestly, he was relieved. He wanted his son to be able to protect himself if something like this ever happened again...

“Okay,” Dean nodded, “Let's, uh, have a family meeting and talk it out. I'll get everyone rounded up and meet you in the library.”

Sam nodded back and glanced behind him to check on Gabe, who seemed to agree with the arrangement. Sam soberly patted Dean's shoulder a few times before reaching back to take Gabe's hand and lead him toward the study. Dean took a deep breath and started down the hall afterward, heading straight for his son's room. He knew that Cas and Jess were bound to be with him, probably still playing twenty-one questions. Sure enough, Dean peered inside to see all three of them – and Dickie – sitting on Jude's bed. Though he didn't want to disturb what sounded like an interesting conversation, Dean gently tapped on the door to get their attention.

“Hey guys,” he said, trying his best to smile at all the eyes staring at him, “Sam and I want to talk to you all in the library.”

For a second, Jude and Jessica glanced at each other in confusion and Cas gave Dean a set of suspicious eyes. But one by one, they slowly started sliding off the bed to join him at the door. Jessica walked out first with Dickie in her arms, seeming perfectly content with joining her parents in the study. Cas, though, loitered at the door next to Dean and waited for their son to catch up. But Jude – who was holding his stuffed bee and fiddling with its tiny fabric wings – only made it a few steps before he paused. His sapphire eyes glanced between each of his parents.

“Papa? Can I talk to Dad alone for a second?” he asked timidly.

Cas and Dean shared a small look of concern. Why did Jude want to talk to Dean alone? Was something wrong? Though he was clearly worried, Cas gave Jude a nod and a gentle smile before affectionately squeezing Dean's arm and walking out. His absence left the two of them alone in Jude's room, which looked so much brighter and cozier with Jude in it. Hoping to get to the bottom of his son's distress, Dean carefully squatted down until he was at perfect eye level with Jude.

“What's up, little man?” he asked, trying to keep things cheery.

Jude started by taking a big breath and leaning over to put his stuffed bee down on his bed. It seemed like he was having difficulty trying to spit out his words, because he rocked back and forth on his heels and stared down at his fidgeting hands.

“I, um. I just wanted to say...” he gulped, finally raising his head to look Dean in the eye, “I'm sorry that Grandpa John wasn't there to save you. That wasn't very nice of him... But I'll be there for you, Dad. I won't let you get hurt like he did.”

Dean's heart thumped hard in his ribcage, flooding his veins with emotion. The longer he started at his innocent son, the more tears stared to swell in his eyes. Damn. That was the most touching thing he had heard in his whole life. How could his son sound so wise at the age of ten? Jude was so sweet and poetic, just like his papa...

Dean had to look away for a second and clear his throat to keep himself from bursting into tears. But once he regained control of himself, he opened his arms to beckon his son into a hug. Jude instantly leaned forward and wrapped his thin arms around Dean's neck, making the wholesome smell of his hair fill Dean's lungs. The man held his child as close and as tenderly as he could, feeling like all those years of being abused and neglected were finally being redeemed. This was it. This was Dean's reward for making it to this moment. Being loved by his own child in a way his father never loved him.

“I love you too, Jude,” Dean whispered, trying so hard to contain it all, “Th – thank you so much.”

The two of them stayed in their embrace for a few extra seconds, just holding each other in the middle of Jude's room. Dean focused his blurry sight on the colorful map over Jude's bed to get the tears to stop. He kissed the side of his son's soft head before finally leaning back to smile at him.

“You know Papa and I are always gonna be there for you too, right?” Dean wanted to confirm.

“Yeah, I know,” Jude replied, bobbing his head, “Just like Batman and Superman.”

“Darn right,” Dean agreed with a chuckle, carefully standing up and holding his hand out, “Come on, buddy. The Justice League is about to have a meeting.”

Jude's sweet face lit up with a smile and he instantly grabbed his dad's hand. The kid's fingers felt so small and fragile, even though they had the power to break Enochian cages. Dean strolled down the hall with his grinning child in tow, feeling so proud and loved. Jude was the sweetest kid in the world. How did he know that Dean needed to hear those words? Jude may have gotten most of his looks from Dean, but his heart came straight from Cas.

The bunker study was filled with family waiting for Dean and Jude to come in – including Cas, who was loitering near the doorway anxiously. He gave Dean a questioning look, probably wondering what the private discussion was about. But Dean only smiled and gave him a wink, signaling that he would tell him all about it when bedtime came around. Jessica was standing behind Gabe's seat, making him smile by braiding some of his shaggy blonde hair. But Sam was standing nervously by a table, seeming unsure of how to start the conversation. Dean gestured for Jude to sit in a chair near Jess in order to stand by his younger brother and help him get out what needed to be said.

“What's going on, Dad? Is something wrong?” Jess asked, probably seeing the anxiousness on Sam's face.

“N – no, Jessie. Everything's okay now that Papa and Jude are home,” Sam tried to reassure, “It's just, um...”

The kid was clearly out of words because he turned to Dean like he wanted him to explain. Luckily, thanks to being the husband of a delightfully clueless angel, Dean had plenty of experience in the 'explaining things' department.

“Okay. Here's the deal,” Dean began, taking a big breath and glancing at every face before him, “Jude, Jess, remember how I told you that your parents are hunters?”

Jude and Jessica timidly glanced at each other before nodding in Dean's direction.

“Well,” Dean muttered, “Hunters have a pretty difficult job. They get attacked by monsters all the time so they have to learn how to defend themselves at a pretty early age, like Sam and I did... So, because of what happened to Jude and Gabe, we think it's time that you guys start learning a few things too.”

“Not because we want you to be hunters,” Sam jumped in to clarify, “We just want to teach you a few skills that might come in handy if you're ever in trouble.”

“Like what?” Jude asked.

“Like how to recognize angel sigils,” Sam suggested.

“And using salt and iron to protect yourself from demons and ghosts,” Dean added.

Gabriel suddenly raised his hand, doing a perfect impression of a child in school. Dean rolled his eyes but gestured to the short archangel in the chair.

“Yeah?” he prompted.

“What about vampires and werewolves, Mr. Dean? Will we learn how to kick their butts too?” Gabe asked, encouraging the discussion.

“Yeah,” Dean nodded, glancing between his son and niece, “We'll show you how to defend yourself against lots of creatures. It won't be that hard for you guys, especially since you have grace.”

“So, we're gonna do training? Like hunter boot camp?” Jessie asked, her eyes shining with hidden excitement.

“Uhh, sorta,” Sam nodded, nervously scratching the back of his head, “This is mostly for protection, you guys. We want you to be able to take care of yourselves and each other, because there are really bad people out there who won't hesitate to hurt you... or mess with your head... and you need to be prepared...”

Dean noticed that the last part of Sam's sentence trailed off like he was trying to suppress his own fear. The older Winchester reached over to pat the younger on the back to comfort him before searching the kids' faces.

“Anybody got any questions?” he asked.

The bunker study was really quiet for a few seconds while the Winchester family looked around. Dean expected one of the kids to start rambling off a bunch of questions about creatures and hunting. But to his surprise, Cas was the one that spoke first. The angel looked up from the chair he was sitting in to give Dean the most sincere gaze ever.

“When will this process begin, Dean?” he uttered.

“As soon as possible,” Dean answered truthfully, “Probably in the morning.”

“Cool,” Jessica grinned, still playing with some of Gabriel's hair, “Maybe Aunt Rowena can show me some more spells.”

More spells?” Gabe repeated, “Oh for the love of... What has that witch been teaching you?”

“Just some magic stuff,” Jessie shrugged, “She says when I start courting lads, she'll teach me the incantation for seducing men.”

What?!” Sam blurted.

Dean could hear the horror and outrage in his brother's voice. But as shocked as Sam was, Gabriel seemed even more entertained. The archangel chuckled a little bit, accidentally jostling the dog in his lap while he filled the room with laughter. It was the first time Gabriel displayed genuine happiness since they all reunited on that battlefield in Heaven.

“Oh, bunny rabbit. You are gonna completely break your poor dad one of these days. Just like I did. Come here,” the archangel hummed, reaching back to pull his little girl close so that he could kiss her cheek.

Though Sam was pretty upset by hearing about Rowena's plans to turn his daughter into a heartbreaking spell caster, the sight of Gabriel and Jess giggling and hugging each other must have made him feel better. The outrage on his face slowly crumbled and was replaced with contentment. He eventually blinked away from his small family to look questioningly at Dean, as if he was visibly asking, 'what the hell, man?' The older brother simply shrugged in response.

“You always said she needed a female role model,” Dean reminded with a grin.

When Dad and Papa put Jessie in bed, the little girl noticed that they didn't want to leave her room. They kept stalling by asking her if she needed a drink or if she was comfortable. It was like neither of them wanted to let her be alone to sleep, especially not Papa. He kept fixing the books on her shelf and straightening her things, hanging around in her room long past bedtime. Why were he and Dad acting so weird? Were they worried that Jessie would be stolen like Jude was?

“Are you sure you don't need anything, honeydew? Do you want your Daddy-moose to read another chapter from The Hobbit or something?” Papa suggested sweetly.

Jessie yawned really big before shaking her head on the pillow.

“Uh-huh. I'm too tired to pay attention,” she explained, feeling so sleepy.

A few more minutes of quiet went by before Dad pulled Papa toward the door. The two of them stood there and whispered for a little while, talking about cages and whether or not to leave Jessie alone. They chatted quietly for what seemed like a long time before Papa eventually sighed out loud and turned around to give Jess a smile.

“Goodnight, baby bunny,” he called with a smile, “If anything happens through the night and you get scared, just fly to our room, okay? I'll be awake the whole time.”

“Okay,” Jess agreed, “'Night, Papa.”

The little girl's parents came over one last time to peck kisses on her forehead before they finally walked out. They left her nightlight on and gave her a few waves as they went, leaving her in the warm glow of her own room. Everything was really quiet for a second or two, so quiet that she almost fell asleep on the spot... but then, she caught sight of Jude's nightlight across the hall and suddenly felt wide awake. Jude was still there, right? He didn't go anywhere, did he?

Curious and worried, Jessie sat up on her bed to look into her cousin's room. She was glad to see that Jude was still there, laying in his own bed and looking at some stuffed animals. Seeing him made Jessie remember how awful it was when he was away; how scared and nervous she was to sleep when he was gone. Now that she was wide awake again, Jessie decided to go and pay Jude a visit.

The little girl slid out of her covers and tip-toed across the dark hall into Jude's room. He was clicking his toy otters' magnetic paws together over and over, and didn't notice that Jess was there until she gently sat on the edge of his bed. He raised his head to see her and quickly sat up with worry.

“Hey, Jessie,” he whispered, “Did you have a bad dream?”

“No. I'm okay,” Jessie whispered back.

She wasn't sure what else to say, so she joined Jude in staring down at the stuffed otters in his hands. Aww, they were so cute when their paws were connected. Jude was blinking hard at them, like he was thinking some really heavy thoughts. Maybe he was remembering their time at the zoo or something.

“What's the matter?” the little girl blurted.

Jude glanced up at her but dropped his eyes back to the otters. He held them up and clicked their paws again.

“Papa says that one day I can give one of these to somebody special. Somebody I love the same way he loves Dad,” Jude mumbled, “but, I can't think of anyone.”

“Hmm,” Jessie replied, feeling her eyebrows curve, “Well, maybe you just haven't met them yet.”

Jude sighed and nodded like he expected that answer.

“If these otters were yours, who would you give one to?” he eventually asked.

Jessie thought for a second about Jude's question. Who was someone that she loved the same way her parents loved each other? There was only one person she dreamed about doing grown-up stuff with all the time.

“Ollie,” she answered simply, “He loves stuffed animals.”

Jude smiled and bobbed his head again, seeming happy about her answer. The two of them were quiet for another few seconds. Jessie glanced over at Jude's Batman nightlight glowing in the corner that marked the bat-signal on the ceiling over their heads. She was so glad to see his nightlight back on. Having Jude home made her so glad.

“I'm glad you're back home, Jude,” Jessie reminded.

“Me too,” Jude admitted, giving her another smile, “That cage was awful. I was so hungry, I almost forgot what pie tasted like.”

Jessie giggled at her cousin's silly statement. How could anyone ever forget the taste of pie? It was so fruity and delicious. When her laughs quieted down, Jessie leaned far over to give Jude a hug. She loved having him around. He was so funny and sweet. And thinking about him being trapped in that cage made her never want to let go. Plus, she was so grateful that he saved her from that mean Raphael guy. He really was like a superhero.

“Thanks for saving me,” Jessie whispered.

“You're welcome, Jessie,” Jude replied, patting her back, “That's what buddies are for, right?”

“Right,” she agreed, backing up to look at him again, “Hey, did your dads linger around in your room before bed?”

“A little bit,” Jude admitted, “Especially Papa -”

As soon as Jude said the word 'Papa,' uncle Cas suddenly popped into the room. Jude and Jessie both jumped at his appearance, looking up to see that he was wearing Pjs and a worried face.

“What's the matter, son? I heard you call for me. Are you alright? What happened?” uncle Cas asked really fast, looking all around.

“Um, n – nothing,” Jude stuttered, seeming just as confused as Jessie felt, “Jessie and I were just talking.”

Uncle Cassie seemed really relieved to hear Jude's answer. Huh. What was going on with all the grown-ups? Why were they so jumpy and worried? Maybe they were afraid that more of their family was going to get stolen again.

“Alright,” uncle Cassie breathed, “Is... Is there anything I can do for you?”

Jessie joined uncle Cas in staring at Jude, who glanced down at the otters in his hands. He was still quietly clicking their magnetic paws together over and over, fidgeting with them while he thought. An idea must have come to him because he looked back up at his papa with a big smile.

“Can you tell us the story of how you met dad?” he asked quietly.

A really happy smile slowly bloomed on uncle Cassie's face, making his eyes look so big and blue in the dim light. He stepped closer and gently sat down on the empty part of Jude's bed. Jude and Jessie both snuggled close to each other, getting excited to hear a new bedtime story.

“Of course,” uncle Cas almost whispered, his voice full of love, “It all began when your father was sent to Hell...”