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A Gentle Touch: A Sabriel Drabble

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Sam sat down across from the man, eyes drinking in every detail he could see. Even now, he remembered that night in the hotel. The light Gabriel had once had in his eyes, even as he told Dean and him to grab Kali and run. He couldn’t see it now. All he could see was fear.

He picked up the small scalpel, seeing the smaller man flinch at the sight of it.

“No,” he said softly. “I…” He reached a hand forward to touch Gabriel’s shoulder, but the man winced again. For a moment, Sam wondered when the last time Gabriel had felt a hand on him that had been in kindness.

“I…” He softened his tone. Sam was a big guy. He knew it. Hell, the world knew it. Big and intimidating. Maybe not as much as Dean, but Sam figured anyone would be intimidating to Gabriel now.

“I don’t want to cut you,” he said softly. “I need leverage.”

Gabriel’s eyes darted over to the table. Sam understood. He set one hand on the table and brought the scalpel forward.

“Please, if you can, don’t move.”

Gabriel nodded very slightly.

For as large as Sam’s hands were, he’d naturally had a delicate touch. Even as a kid, he’d been able to help his Dad and Dean with their wounds. Hell, learning to use a thread and needle was an essential part of being a hunter. As he cut away the first thread, he stared at it. Half of him wanted to ask, but he knew it wasn’t his place. He couldn’t begin to imagine the pain. Well, he’d been to hell himself, but “hell” was an experience. And from the looks of the once so bright and proud archangel… he’d seen hell.

“I’ll… I’ll get you some fresh clothes and I’ll help you clean up, okay?” He tried to smile, tried to make a good show, but the look on Gabriel’s face spoke volumes. Not disbelief, not miss-trust.

Fear. Even now. Even after he was supposed to be safe. But he and Sam both knew better. “Safe” would never be a reality for them. Still, Sam could try. He lowered the knife.

“I don’t know what you endured,” he said. “And I can’t make it go away… but I can fight like hell to make sure he suffers for what he did. You know I will.”

Gabriel regarded him for a minute. Slowly, he lifted a trembling hand, reaching out to touch Sam’s hair. Still long, still soft. Even now. He let his hand slowly move down Sam’s hair, trembling fingers brushing the light stubble on his cheek… before he lowered his hand and placed it on Sam’s shoulder, gripping it tightly. Sam nodded.

“You can keep it there.”

Gabriel regarded him carefully.

“I won’t touch you.” Sam looked right into his eyes. “I swear to you.”

Carefully, with Gabriel’s grip soundly on his shoulder, he cut away the rest of the thread. He watched as Gabriel’s lips parted slightly, taking in what must have been his first breath in a long time. He looked up at Sam, his other hand still petting Sam’s hair.

“Never cut it… eh, Sasquatch?”

In that tired, ragged voice, Sam could hear the tiniest shimmer of hope.

Chapter Text

Gabriel gripped his knees as he looked at the Enochian symbols around the room. He knew they were about as useful as going after a lion with a pocketknife, but deep down, he knew the previous owners wouldn’t really have known that. He let his toes brush against the soft sheets of the bed. He almost felt bad for sitting on it, ruining something so clean with his presence.

He lifted his head, looking at the man sitting on the other side of the room. He had to give that Sasquatch some credit. He’d kept his word, not touching him, giving him space… still, he could feel the tension in the room. Again, to his credit, Sam was trying to suppress it. The questions. The curiosity.

But it was one of the many things he and Sam had in common. The reckless brothers, the father who was never there…

The torture at the hands of evil itself.

It wasn’t something you could begin to describe. It wasn’t something that could be healed. To that, he was grateful for Sam’s presence. The knowledge that someone else was there who knew what this did to the mind.

He caught Sam’s eyes looking at him. Concern. Years ago, he might have laughed. Concern. Not pity. Even after all he and his brother had done, they might have fallen into the category of “angels” more than he and his siblings ever could.

“We have a shower.”

A desperate break in the tension. Gabriel looked at him.

“If you… wanna clean up, we have a shower.”

Gabriel stared at him for a long, long time before nodding. At least he wouldn’t be messing up the bedspread anymore.

He watched as Sam collected a set of clean clothes from a nearby dresser before nodding to the door. He stood up and followed Sam out of the bedroom and to one of the bunker’s bathrooms. Again, Sam kept his distance, though Gabriel could feel the urge to comfort him physically. He was impressed that Sam could hold it back. Maybe it came from Dean never wanting physical comfort right away. Who knew for sure?

Sam opened the door and flicked on the lights, letting Gabriel step in.

“I can wait outside if you-“

“I…”

Sam paused as Gabriel spoke, his voice still gruff from all this time with no use.

“Would you…?”

Even as he felt them on the tip of his tongue, the words were lost. It seemed like such a childish thing to ask for. One of the most powerful angels in heaven asking for something-

“Sure.”

Again, had it been anyone else, Gabriel would have kicked him for being so understanding when he had no right to be. But Sam had every right to be.

He undressed, tossing the rags to the side. He glanced at Sam, seeing the terror in his eyes and the clenched fist at his side, but again, no words.

Sam sat down on the floor, letting his back rest up against the wall as Gabriel stepped into the shower. He turned the water up as hot as his vessel could stand it and sat down on the floor of the shower, letting the water hit every mark and gash. He watched the droplets turn from clear to red to a murky brown. The sound of the running water was strangely soothing and he found himself mesmerized by the little wisps of steam. The whole while, Sam said nothing, but Gabriel could feel his presence. For some reason, it reminded him of his youth in heaven. Back when there were no sides, no possible end to it all… just him, his brothers and his father. Happy. Really happy.

He wasn’t sure how long he sat under the water, but when he turned it off and got to his feet, he saw Sam do the same. He pulled the shower curtain back to see him standing there with a towel. He held it out, taking his hand away as Gabriel took it and started to dry himself off. He looked at Sam’s hands, half of him wanting to feel those hands helping to towel-dry him off. But the only touches he could remember… Any hand on him…. Reminded him of Asmodeus’ hands.

He never, ever wanted to think of Sam’s hands in that way.

Sam set the clean clothes beside him and scratched his head.

“Are you hungry?”

Gabriel looked at him.

“I know angels don’t need to eat, but… if you think it would-“

“I could eat.”

Gabriel saw the light in Sam’s eyes. Any kind of communication seemed to mean the world to him.

“I… I mean, real food. Not just candy.”

For a split second, Gabriel’s eyes met Sam’s… and lips formed a smile. He knew it was unlikely that Sam had forgotten his calling card, but something about that made him… at least a little elated.

“You? Keeping candy here?”

Sam smiled. “Dean has a stash and insists we keep… “Non-Rabbit Food” around.”

Gabriel watched him carefully. “How’s that going for him?”

Sam grinned. “He eats a plate of bacon at least three times a week. I’m surprised he hasn’t dropped dead.”

Gabriel managed another smile. “If he dies of a heart attack, I’ll never forgive him.”

“You and me both,” Sam said, turning to head to the kitchen. He paused when he felt fingers brush his arm. He looked back to see Gabriel’s now clean fingers on his arm, a puzzled look on his face, as though debating whether to go forward with his action or not.

“Hey.”

The gentle voice drew Gabriel’s eyes to meet his once more.

“It’s okay. I promised.”

Sam felt the trembling fingers enclose around his arm, holding him gently but firmly. When he felt the angel’s grip was solid enough, he led him own to the kitchen, keeping his hands to himself.

Still, he couldn’t help but smile when he felt Gabriel’s finger stop shaking.