How long had it been?
Time passed differently in Hell. And even before then.
He remembered the hotel. Kali. The Pagan Gods. The Winchesters... Lucifer. He remembers his brother, whom he had loved more than anything, plunging his own angel blade through his stomach. He doesn’t remember dying. Dying so that Sam and Dean could escape.
He remembers pain and then... nothing.
He woke up lost and confused in the middle of nowhere. Even now he’s not sure how much times has passed since his death.
Days? Weeks? Months? Years?
He would have tried to find out had he not been captured. He’d enjoyed half an hour of freedom and just being alive again- a half hour of confusion that he now wishes he had been more grateful for- before he woke up again. This time was not so pleasant. A Prince Of Hell has him prisoner.
They tortured him before. For information, and when he refused to crack, just for the fun of it.
But he had laughed, spat in their faces, called them every name he could think of, mocked every single facet of them. It was what kept him going. But with no information to give, and his insults grating, Asmodeus decided to take that away too.
He was conscious for the whole thing. Chained up and restrained with sigils... but conscious.
Conscious whilst they shoved a needle between his lips and wired them shut.
The latch on his cell opens again as Asmodeus flaunts him to someone. Gabriel just stares right back, blankly. He doesn’t want to fight anymore. Fighting got him killed. Now running.
Running away he was very good at.
Thats not something he’s ever truly been proud of. And he was truly sorry for the fledglings he left behind. The ones he had raised in his Father’s absence, in Lucifer’s neglect, in Michael’s disinterest, and Raphael’s dismissal. He hadn’t raised all of them. But he remembers Castiel. One of the siblings he was closest to.
A half smile tugs at his lips painfully.
That same brother who was alike him in so many ways. Both the black sheeps of their family- though it had taken Castiel a while longer to realise it- both runaways, both outcasts... both in love with Winchesters. Though Gabriel’s baby brother is likely to be infinitely more successful in his romantic endeavours- social cluelessness aside. Throwing the object of your affection into a timeloop watching his brother be killed every day in over a hundred different ways and then trying to convince them to allow themselves to be possessed by Lucifer is probably not the best flirtation strategy for anyone.
Gabriel should know.
Hes been with countless men, women- some real, some his conjured people- Deities, monsters, humans. Sammy Winchester is just that one itch he can’t scratch. The one that sticks in his head. And the one itch he never will be able to scratch.
More times passes. Gabriel loses track down here. But he makes out some whispers. They want him to fight Lucifer. Again. Like that’s ever going to happen. Asmodeus can torture him all he likes, Gabriel will not go against his brother again.
He’s done fighting.
The chains block angel radio but when he awoke the first time he could sense Lucifer was alive and out of the cage- Worrying, seeing as he told the two Winchesters exactly how to pop him back in- and that Michael was gone as was Raphael. He had mourned there loss as he stumbled through woods trying to find his way to some form of civilisation- too weak to fly. They might have all been arrogant douchebags but they were his family.
Hes lying down at some point. Alone. Cold. The chains and warding him bringing him to the brink of humanity. There’s a pain he recognises as hunger and another as thirst it nobody bothers sating them.
The latch opens again. A different voice is speaking, one that rings a bell in his foggy, pained memory. Blearily he raises his head as he hears the lock turning. Perhaps if he just allows it to happen Asmodeus will get bored of torturing him and bring him back here quicker.
Gabriel makes a small grunt of acknowledgement as he lifts his head and stares into the face of Sam Winchester.
A lot of time must have passed. This Sam is older. No longer fresh faced and, although rarely in his presence, smiling. Frown lines cut into his face, hair somehow even longer than when’s they last met. Eyes worn and now widening in shocked disbelief.
Gabriel says nothing. This could be one of Asmodeus’ tricks. How many times has he tricked him with images of loved ones, of angels, of Castiel, of the Winchesters coming to save him. He’s resigned himself to the fact that no one knows he’s here, or even knows he’s alive.
“Is that you?”
Gabriel flinches when a hand touches his shoulder eyeing this mirage with trepidation.
”It’s me,” the illusion says somewhat desperately, “Sam Winchester. You remember me, right?” His gaze drops to Gabriel’s lips- Something now reminiscent of a scene from a body horror movie- and sucks in a sharp breath, “Christ, Gabriel what have they done to you?” It’s more to himself than to him but Gabriel merely shrugs all the same.
What haven't they done to him?
“Hold still.” The illusion crouches in front of him and begins fiddling with the cuffs around the archangel’s wrists.
This illusion is certainly more realistic than some of the others. In appearance at least. The others were more accurate in them regard to how Sam Winchester would actually react upon seeing him- disgust, anger, dismissal. One even saw him and left him to his fate. This one is quieter, patient, and surprisingly gentle, letting the cuffs slide off of Gabriel’s wrists and other the floor. Warm grace slowly begins to seep back into his bones.
“Can you walk?”
Gabriel shrugs. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t care. He hasn’t walked in so long and he’s not planning on walking to his own torture session.
“Okay, when we get you home I can cut your mouth free, alright?”
Warm smooth hands cover his cold, ravaged, scarred and bleeding ones. Gabriel eyes the mirage apprehensively. This is so very real...
“Dean!” Sam calls over his shoulder, “Cas!” He turns back to Gabriel and offer some a tentative smile. “You’re going to be okay. I promise.”
Two more figures appear. Both look older. How much time has passed? How many years?
”Is that...?” Dean asks disbelievingly.
”Gabriel.” Castiel sounds just as shocked as Sam did, “brother.”
This is real. Gabriel feels tears welling up in his eyes. This is actually real.
Castiel strides forward and touches his brother’s forehead. The aches and pains slowly begin to fade and at long last the wires finally, finally, fall from his lips.
He looks between them gratefully. His brother and the hunters. When he finally speaks his voice is wrecked and ragged but there.
”... Miss me?” He bares a grin.
Dean snorts, Castiel smiles and Sam wraps an arm to help him up.
“Yes,” Sam admits quietly when the other two turn around and Gabriel feels a great swell of hope in his chest.