Gabriel tried to run. When he left heaven he was running. When he hid with the pagans he was running. When he antagonised the Winchesters he was running. Gabriel was done trying to run.
He couldn't outrun destiny, so why try so hard? Why should he, an Archangel of the Lord, hide and cower as the war goes on? He was a weapon of heaven, a powerful creature with followers and magics up his sleeve, so what was holding him back?
That's right, exactly what Dean said - fear.
He was terrified of what his brothers would do to him, Michael for leaving home, and Luci for refusing to join him. How do you explain millennia of agony to brothers so blind to their surroundings? How could he tell his brothers everything they needed to hear and make them understand with so little time left? Was there any way to manage such a feat without being killed or worse? Well, he could only try.
Flying to the backseat of the impala, he silently altered their course to force them past a hotel called the 'Elysian Fields', where he felt an immense stock of pagan and Norse magic. As they continued through the storm, they almost turned back but Gabriel couldn't let them, he needed them all alive for this conversation.
When they found a motel miles further down the road, he swept it for magic and warded the entire building, securing them protection from heaven, hell and everywhere in between. Once they walked into their room he revealed himself, laying on the bad furthest from the window, casually sucking a lolly as he waited.
"Hello, Gabriel," Dean sighed, setting his duffel on the other bed and treating him almost like furniture, "whatever brings you to our neck of the woods?"
"Wow, that's it? No threats or warnings, just 'hello'. I'm almost starting to think you like me kiddo." Gabriel sat up slowly, for the first time feeling the weight of his years alone and the scars of his past. "Actually, I have a favour to ask from both of you, I need you to-"
"Not interested. We're not saying yes, we're not participating in any pagan ritual and we are not giving you access to your brother. Did I miss anything?"
"No, Dean-o, you pretty much covered everything in the warehouse, and I have just realised as such."
Gabriel leaned forwards, subconsciously curling in on himself and his eyes came to rest on the ground. Exhaling loudly, he rushed to say his piece before they interrupted again.
"You were right. I don't want to face my brothers, not just because of the overwhelming odds but because I'm afraid. I'm afraid that I'll just make it worse and I can't be there if it all goes down. If I am, I'm pretty sure it will break me permanently. Me and whomever survives. I don't want my family to be broken. I don't want the pieces to burn and fray at the edges or we'll never be able to fit them back together again."
The final sentence was barely a whisper, but in the silence left by stunned disbelief he many as well have shouted. "I don't want my destiny, and I don't want God's plan to come full circle, so I need you both to help me stop it."
Days later, Gabriel, Cas, Sam, Dean and a newly healed Bobby stood around a table looking at four rings. The horsemen had been little in way of a challenge for the archangel and when Death handed his over, the set was complete.
"How do we push him in? Its all well and good having the key but I doubt he'll jump in willingly."
"No, he won't. If I try and talk to them it would reveal our ace and they'd be suspicious but if we can get Luci alone I think I can distract him long enough to get him in his box...remember, you have sixty seconds before I'm coming in, don't waste them."
Gabriel was the only reason they had come this far and if he was willing to sacrifice everything, so were they, even if they only knew half of the plan. One last night of drinking and revelry followed before the foreseen day arrived and they prepared to meet the champions of heaven and hell on the battlefield.
The impala roared up to the graveyard where the two oldest beings in creation stood off, tension thick in the air as Lucifer pleaded with his brother to walk off the chessboard. Sam and Dean climbed out, Bobby and Cas close behind and holding their own weapon behind them and prepared to strike.
"Howdy boys. We heard this was a must see show and thought we'd stop by for a while. Must say, didn't expect it to be 'The Good Son' trying to destroy humanity in a pointless battle."
"You refused your calling, you no longest have a place here, vessels." Michael's tone was almost colder than the devil's and even he looked shocked at the frozen comment. Michael subsequently drew his blade which took the form of a spear, before Lucifer brought forth his own dagger.
"Yeah, well, since when did we stay in our place?"
Team Free Will moved forward, each ready with their own part of the plan, when a long and harsh flutter made them pause. They were too slow, Gabriel was already there.
Sharp intakes of breath from both archangels made the lesser beings stop, and actually take it the sight before them.
Gabriel, but not Gabriel lay on the ground between the eldest. His clothing was torn and shredded, hanging by a thread on his bloodied body. His torso and every limb dripped with grace and blood and he coughed up even more every few seconds. The most noticeable thing about him though, was the jeweled sword of gold sticking out from between his ribs.
Unbeknownst to the Winchesters, the pagans the trickster prevented from killing them found out of his deceptions and laid in wait for him at his home. Unbeknownst to them, the very blade sticking out of his chest had been used to shred his body and wings mere moments after it was taken from him in a violent ambush.
Broken hands scrambled for a grip on the hilt but the blood made them slip and side everywhere, resulting in the blade being pushed deeper, and closer to his heart. Each time the sword shifted, the archangel would cry out and arch his back, already stilted breathing worsening, and the third time, everyone was broken from a trance, and something amazing happened.
"Gabe!", " Brother!" , twin shouts rang through the cemetery as both brothers ran for their sibling, dropping their blades to the ground as the fell beside him, each reaching for the blade in his chest. As Michael's hand closed around the hilt, their eyes met, and each was surprised to see tears in the other's eyes. Lucifer nodded, a weak smile forming as he looked down at his most treasured brother for the first time since he fell. Moving behind him, he propped his head up in his lap and pulled his hands to his sides, preventing him from moving in their hold as they worked together for the first time in even longer.
"Hang in there, Gabe, hang in there."
"Call Raphael, it will take several minutes for him to find a vessel and get here. Neither of us can possibly heal a wound this size and made by his own blade." Michael nodded, shouting for his brother on angel radio so loudly Cas flinched, even as he prepared to withdraw the blade.
Sam and Dean watched in shock at how gently they held their fallen brother, and how they worked together effortlessly. Suddenly, however, panic struck Dean. Raphael is the healer. Without him here his grace will leak out before they can stop it and no one will be able to save him then. And that's if he doesn't bleed out first.
Meeting Sam's eyes he saw his brother reach the same conclusion and both sprinted across the field towards the archangels as fast as possible. Dean ripped off his favourite leather jacket as they did so while Sam went for plan B, desperately trying to remember the angel exorcism he heard Alistair use previously, and turn it backwards inside his head.
Dean dropped to his knees beside their comrade just as the blade was pulled free. Ignoring shouts from the most powerful beings he'd ever met, he held his balled up jacket over the wound, pressing down hard, whilst Sam performed his backwards exorcism nearby.
Pained whimpers sounded from Gabriel as he pushed, putting his full weight behind his arms. Lucifer quickly shushed him and Sam began to run through his speech again, and then for a third time. Somehow between them they were keeping both grace and blood contained within the archangel's vessel.
Suddenly, Gabriel's eyes slipped closed and both elders began to panic as they saw him slip into unconsciousness. Dean was forced to kick Michael away from the body as he began to fuss and took his place, not noticing his annoyed yell and stumped face as he berated both conscious archangels.
"Will you both shut up? Obviously you are not helping the situation at all so I strongly suggest you keep your thoughts to yourselves you overgrown pigeons!" Dean turned his attention back to his patient, "damn it, Gabriel, don't you dare check out on us now. Cas!"
"Raphael is two minutes out, Dean."
"Fuck, fuck, fuck." Dean pushed down with renewed vigour, determined not to fail his friend in the last few minutes. "Sammy, you might wanna pick up the pace... and volume." Immediately both increased, Sam coming to rest opposite his brother in his original spot and placing his hands over his brothers to add his own weight as his eyes slipped shut in concentration.
"...angelum omnium obsequendum. Aborro te ut. Omnipotentis dei potestatum invoco. Omnipotentis dei potestatum invoco..."
Cas, finally realising what Sam was doing, added his voice to the chant in perfect sync, crouching down with the Winchesters as Dean too picked up the words and joined in, sharp, crisp Latin filling the air.
Sixty seconds later a crack of lightning struck nearby and a mahogany skinned man ran towards the crouched group clutching a silver staff, met by Michael who told him of the situation.
"Raphael, Gabriel is alive but hurt, the humans and seraph are keeping his grace and blood contained but if they stop or move he will die. We can't heal the stab wound fast enough and we're all lucky the Winchesters reacted as fast as they did to keep him alive with their...creative methods."
Chocking on a gasp, Raphael nodded and ran for his little brother, his prone body lying broken on the grass. As he approached he heard the backwards exorcism and inwardly smiled at the hunters' resourcefulness. Sam looked up and saw him, a smile splitting his face as he skillfully stood and stepped over Gabriel without pausing or letting up on the leather.
Kneeling, Raphael barely even acknowledged his other brother, dropping his staff and touching a finger to his patient's forehead, meaning he could see all the damage done to him, and the stab wound beneath the leather where grace was just barely being forced away from the surface. Dean watched him frown and met his eyes, silently asking his next move with only a raised eyebrow.
"Keep up the invocation as long as it takes and when I say, move away as fast as you can." Twin nods greeted the order and both boys raised themselves onto the balls of their feet, ready to leap away at a moments notice.
"Three, two, one, now!"
The leather was stripped away but the Latin became louder and faster as they turned their attention to just that. Minutes passed as the healer stroked the frayed edges of grace and flesh enough to encourage them back together and form a single, unbroken whole. As the skin knit together and new plumage replaced the old, life returned and Gabriel awoke with a start, golden eyes snapping open and a deep lungful of air being drawn in.
Silence fell as he collapsed boneless and exhausted in the arms of his siblings, eyes squinting as he recognized his family above him. "Raph? Miqa? Luci?"
"Gabe," Michael finished, tears sliding down his face at the sight of the youngest made whole.
"Yes. Let's go home. All of us."
Smiling, the three eldest helped Gabriel gently to his feet, where he proceeded to wobble and fall, only to be caught up against Sam. Rolling his eyes, Sam passed him back to Michael who bent and picked him up bridal style, ignoring his undignified yelp.
"Thank you, all of you for your help in saving our brother. We will never be able to repay this debt but we will always endeavour to do so." Heaven's general looked at the man in his arms who had fallen asleep at some point since being picked up.
Turning to go, the first four were just about to take flight when they were interrupted rudely. "Aren't you idjits forgetting something?"
Bobby walked over and pushed an armful of items into Raphael's hands and smiled softly, rejoining his own flock. The archangel held all four blades with the utmost respect and returned the smile when he saw Gabriel's sword had been cleaned.
"I hope we don't see any of you again for a long while yet."
"Yeah, yeah, you know you love us really. We'll probably be seeing you around." Dean spared a look at Gabriel where he was curled up against his brother's chest peacefully. "Look after him, I think he needs some family time after so long alone."
In a flap, the archangels were gone.