As always in life, there was no stopping the steady march of time. As the weeks passed, the weather cooled, snow began to fall, and the holidays grew swiftly closer, prompting near endless excitement and energy from the children.
Well, the kids and Gabriel, but he had always been more excited about human things than the rest.
He was currently rushing around the house, scrambling to get all the decorations he had bought earlier in the week put up before the kids got home from playing at the park with Layla and Peter. A tree, plenty of lights, tinsel, and as many sparkly and bright things as he could squeeze on the surfaces of the house, and that was only the beginning.
When it would get closer to Christmas, he would gather dozens of presents for each of the children in his care. Toys, books, games, anything they had shown interest in that he was sure they would use. If they wanted it, they would get it. Anyone who didn’t know the boys, or the situation they had been through, would likely accuse him of spoiling them, and in any other case he would agree.
But this year, he would do his best to give the boys what they wished for. They deserved it after all they had suffered.
He wasn’t alone in his rush to decorate, with all three of his elder brothers taking over the decoration of one of the major rooms of the house, and all of them working on the hallways. It was moving along at a relatively quick pace, but there was still quite a bit to do before the boys would return.
A cry from the play area over in the corner caused him to pause, setting down the ribbon that he had been working on hanging above the mantle before walking over and picking Adam up from his blanket. “Oh kiddo, I know. Those nasty, mean teeth are giving you all kinds of trouble, aren't they? Making your mouth hurt and giving you a headache, they're not nice at all are they?” He asked, humming in sympathy when Adam babbled broken syllables through his pained tears.
Walking into the kitchen, he nodded towards Raphael, who had finally been able to visit again, and was working on cleaning, before opening the freezer and pulling out a pacifier that he had placed in there earlier. “Let's see if this helps, or if I'm going to have to get the real thing from the store. Now, this is gonna be cold, so you should be aware of that.”
Delicately wiggling the pacifier between Adam’s lips during a sob, he watched in mild amusement as Raphael cringed at the kid's increased volume, before the sobs slowly tapered off as the child realized that the pain was fading away as the cold of the pacifier did its job and numbed his sore gums.
“There we go, a nice, cold paci for your poor mouth. I bet that already feels better, doesn’t it buddy?” He cooed, smiling as the clearly exhausted babe leaned against his shoulder, gripping the front of his shirt tightly. Glancing towards his concerned older brother, he shrugged as best as he could without jostling Adam, who was swiftly falling asleep. “Yeah, he’s gonna be just fine. The kiddo’s teething. Think a Fledge’s first molt, but a little more pain, and a lot less itching. His teeth are pushing through his-”
“I know what teething entails Gabriel.” Raphael cut him off, looking more than a bit uncomfortable. “I have merely never seen it up close, and did not expect such a…… violent response.”
Gabriel rolled his eyes, walking back to the living room, brother in tow. “Of course he’s not gonna like it, he’s in pain, didn’t sleep well last night, and I was shoving something cold in his mouth. Any kid would complain about that. Just be glad that I’ve taken care of a kid or ten in my time here on earth, and knew what to do. Otherwise, one of you was gonna be running back upstairs and talking with Momma Winchester. As it is she's not happy about last month, so I really don't think you want to test her.”
Setting Adam back down on the plush blanket in the corner, he left the boy to sleep as he continued putting up decorations. Raphael was mumbling about something, before he stopped suddenly, eyes wide.
“Gabriel, what did you mean by ‘a kid or ten’? Please do not tell me that you broke Father's ruling towards Nephilim!” Raphael was begging at this point, and Gabriel couldn't help but laugh, keeping just quiet enough that he wouldn't wake up Adam.
With a grin, he looked back at his brother. “I guess you'll never know then!”
“Gabriel, stop tormenting your brother. Now, we finished the rooms you assigned us to, as well as the upstairs hall. What else will you have us do? Or would you prefer to observe our work upstairs?” Michael asked, an eyebrow raised as if daring him to try anything.
Shaking his head, Gabriel sighed. Did his brother really think so low of him as to accuse him of tormenting Raphael, especially after all he had done? Then again, now that he was thinking about it, Michael would be that kind of person to deflect any blame. Whatever. He could deflect just as well. “You’re just upset that I have a sense of humor.” Looking around the room, Gabriel took in everything that had been set up. “I trust you guys with what you did upstairs. All that’s really left to decorate is the entrance hall, and the tree in here. And I know the boys are going to want to help out with that, so I guess we're done for now, unless you think we should make something for the kids to snack on before-”
He was cut off by the door slamming open, and two frantic bodies rushing towards him, nearly knocking him over in their haste to get as close as possible.
“Gabe, you gotta-”
“I only looked away for-
“An accident I swear-”
Dean and Castiel were babbling, both barely able to get half a thought out before either being drowned out by the other, or having to start over because they were crying so hard. Layla was standing in the doorway, her face wet with tears, and thoroughly shaken, holding Peter as close to her as possible, and Sigurd’s leash tight. But as Gabriel was doing a headcount, his heart fell, and without looking at his brothers, he was more than able to piece together what Dean and Cas were trying to tell him through their sobs, and what Layla had only confirmed with her own tears.
Sam was gone. Someone or something had taken him, and there was no way of knowing if it had been random chance, or if Sam had been targeted. For the second time that year, his family had been torn apart by people outside, and he had no idea how to fix things.
The park was silent. Only the sounds of birds in the trees, and cars travelling by could be heard, instead of the usual noise of children playing and laughing.
The panic that Dean, Castiel, and Layla had caused when Sam vanished had caused parents to leave the park in droves, all holding their children tight and warning others as they were leaving that a child had just went missing. As it was, the authorities had already questioned Layla, and found nothing, and had decided to close the park for the time being, until the missing child was found.
Lucifer however, had work to do.
With Gabriel at the home trying to calm the boys, and Michael taking Raphael back to Heaven due to a reported detection of the Grace of an Angel who had been missing for several decades, that left him to find any evidence he could as to where Sam had been taken, and who by.
With a quick spell to encourage any passers by to look away, he began his search. Part of the appeal of this particular playground compared to others closeby was the fact it catered to multiple age groups. There was a sand pit with toys and a play area sized perfectly for toddlers so parents wouldn’t have to worry quite so much about their young ones falling. For older children, the play area was sized appropriately, and features several slides and swings of various kinds for the more adventurous. It even had a section for teenagers, with skate ramps and simple ziplines to keep their attention should they choose to take their younger siblings to play.
It was almost odd to see the park as abandoned as it was, though he imagined that it wasn’t quite as strange as it would have been had he chosen at any point to come to the park in the night time.
Not entirely sure as to where Sam had been playing, Lucifer began to walk around the entirely of the park, searching with his Grace for any trace of Sam’s residual energy, something he may have left, anything that could help him figure out what had happened. There was no trace near the older area, or anywhere near where teens would spend time, leaving only the area intended for toddlers. It made sense, as Sam wasn't much bigger than the group the area was intended for, and the next area up would be far too large for him to play comfortably.
Looking over the play area, his Grace lit with a flash of memory. It was not a long memory, or even one that was very interesting, but it was one that showed Sam earlier that morning. It showed the boy climbing around the area, and ended with him going down the small slide and running towards the open field behind the playground.
Following the last direction that Sam had been heading in, Lucifer scanned the area carefully, hoping that Sam hadn’t fallen down the slight decline that led to a stream that flowed out into a larger river. As the weather had been cooling, there had been no chance to teach the children how to swim yet, and Sam wouldn’t be able to keep above the surface of the water of he were to fall in.
As he drew closer to the stream, his eyes widened in horror as he saw Sam’s stuffed moose Sully laying on the ground, not far from the decline leading to the stream. Scanning the area as fast as he could, he found another flash of memory, and was relieved to see that Sam hadn’t fallen in. The memory showed Sam walking along the edge of the embankment, before being approached by a man. The man talked to Sam for a moment, before Sam looked away, likely due to someone calling for him, only for the man to grab his arm, vanishing without a trace after, and leaving Sully behind.
An Angel had stolen Sam away from them, and there was no telling where he could have taken him.
His head hurt. Really really bad. Worse than that time he used all his powers at once and had backlash for days after. He was also super dizzy, and couldn't make sense of anything he saw when he was able to open his eyes for a moment.
He had been at the park the last time he could think right, why was he somewhere made of stone, and screamed of hurt and upset?
There were cuffs on his wrists, cuffs that were warm and tingling with magic, and had a chain that led to the center of the small room. Whenever he would try and use his power, they would shock him, sending the energy back towards him in ways that were painful.
As he slowly began to panic, he almost missed the door to the room he was in opening, a woman with long blonde hair entering.
“Good evening Samuel. We have work for you to do.”