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Coming Home

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"We thought you died!" roars Sam, and his hands shake where they’re pinning Gabriel to the wall of the bunker, a forearm across his throat and palm on his chest. "We saw your corpse, saw the wings- we thought you were dead!”

Several emotions grace Gabriel’s face in quick succession - shock, confusion, a brief flicker of fear that morphs into something like guilt and is gone in a heartbeat. “Can’t take the trick out of trickster, kiddo,” he says, a bright grin pasted onto his face, but it’s hollow, the amusement behind it fake.

"We thought you died," repeated Sam, and his arms fall, slowly, no longer pressing bruises into Gabriel’s slightly-closer-to-human skin. The anger fades from his face, replaced by the exhaustion that has graven lines into it over the past year or two, ages him beyond his years and left his eyes hollow, red-rimmed. His hand catches on Gabriel’s shoulder, squeezes briefly as if he’s checking the archangel in front of him is still real.

And then it falls, drops to his side with the other - and Sam’s dropping, too.

His knees hit the floor with a crack that makes Gabriel wince, makes Dean start forward from where he’s been watching. He stops only at Castiel’s fingers on the sleeve of his jacket, pulling him backwards. This is not Dean’s fight; he will have his chance to air his grievances later, as Castiel had done earlier.

This, though. This is Sam’s turn.

Gabriel looks at his brother helplessly, at Dean standing stiff and clenched-fisted next to him, and then back at the man on the ground before him. Back bowed and head hung low, he looks like Atlas, the weight of the world on him.

When his shoulders start trembling, body slumped with exhaustion and grief, Gabriel flinches.

"Oh, Sam," he murmurs, crouching down and pressing a tentative hand to the human’s shoulder. He doesn’t try to turn Sam’s face up, hopes to Dad he isn’t crying because Gabriel has no idea what to do with that. No idea how to fix the hurt he’s caused. "Kiddo, this wasn’t… I never meant for…"

He hadn’t realised. Hadn’t thought that what they had meant so much to Sam - meant anything to Sam other than good, casual sex.

Apparently, he was wrong.

"You have hurt him, brother," says Castiel, and his voice is cold - colder, even, than when he’d discovered Gabriel’s deceit for himself. "More than you can know."

"Do you know what we’ve been through whilst you’ve been hiding?" says Dean, and his voice is hot, a counterpoint to Castiel’s, rough like he’s holding back a scream - or maybe tears. "Do you know what these past few years-" He breaks off, swallows. "We needed you."

And in front of him, Sam’s shoulders are still trembling, body still crumpled forward like he’s been struck, and Gabriel’s mind is stuck on a loop of, I did this to him, that he can’t make stop.

"I’m sorry," is all Gabriel can think to say, the weight of his betrayal heavy on his shoulders in front of Castiel’s disapproval, Dean’s rage, Sam’s grief. He leans forward, pulls Sam into his arms with the strength of an archangel and wishes he still had wings so he could wrap them around the man he’s hurt so badly. Wishes he still had more than a trickle of his former powers, so he could fix all the things he’s broken. "I’m sorry."