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Bear

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It was a raggedy looking thing. Missing an eye, the dull yellow fur matted and fading from exposure to the false light of a storage facility. But as Sam held the little bear, so soft in his calloused hands, he couldn't help but wonder.

Why? Why would someone stitch it's mouth shut?

It seemed so very wrong.

He grieved as his father left, shed tears that needed to fall. Dean and Cas and Mary, they all had processed this “death” in their ways. Together. But Sam, Sam needed to be away. To think. To mourn.

As Dean pulled Cas toward the kitchen, Mary following on their heels, Sam went the other way to his bedroom.

He hadn't noticed the box from the pawn shop sitting on the table in the library, he didn't remember anyone puttinging it there. Had they even brought it in from the Impala? But there it was, the rumpled little yellow bear propped up against it neatly, seemingly staring at Sam with his one eye. Sam swallowed and blinked heavily, a sudden wave of memories and nausea crashing over him.

Gabriel.

The archangel who was delivered to them, mouth stitched up and bloody, blinking up at Sam as the hunter cut through the mangled thread.

Before he could even think, Sam had the bear in his hands, racing down the hall to hide himself in a room, any room, as long as he could be alone.

He stopped at thirty two. Sparing only a second, Sam twisted the knob and was inside, locking the door behind him.

The Enochian symbols still littered the walls, but Sam ignored them, didn't grant them a second look as he sat down on the bed. This is where Gabriel sat, that first day. Doing his damnedest to melt away, to keep Sam and Castiel away from him.

Sam fingered the plastic ring at the bears back.

“I wouldn't do that if I were you.”

The words of the pawn shop owner rang in his mind. And Sam is nothing if not curious.

With a deep breath to steady himself, Sam pulled the string.

And nothing happened.

Sam furrowed his brow, confused. The string was still slack in his hands, dipping down in a deep U between his legs. He gave the bear a little shake. Maybe the string got stuck, or whatever tiny voice box inside it stopped working. He tugged a little harder, a tight snap of his wrist and suddenly the string had pulled completely from the bear.

“Shit,” Sam whispered, inspecting the broken piece in his hand. His eyes followed the dangling string to see a tiny cork hanging there. “The hell?”

No sooner had Sam spoke, the little bear began to glow. A small light pushing its way out through the thin material of its chest. The one eye seemed to become more alive, a tiny prick of light giving it an eerie quality, like it was looking up at Sam. Out of the stitched up muzzle, the light emerged, snaking its way into the room.

With a harsh gasp, Sam dropped the bear, but never took it out of his sight. The light continued to rise from the floor, the air around it buzzing and humming.

“Oh my god, it’s grace!”

Lights in the room flickered, but the darkness was kept back as the Enochian on the walls began to flicker. The grace took off like a shot, bouncing frantically off the walls, knocking over the sparse furniture and nearly sending Sam diving for safety. The rumble and hum of the grace grew louder, cutting right through Sam’s body, almost hurting.

The turmoil of the grace in the room was matched in his mind. A million different sounds echoed over each other, never in sync, never coming together long enough to make any sense. It was going to drive him mad.

But somehow, Sam knew. Knew what it wanted, what it needed.

With tears in his eyes, Sam steeled himself, and called out into the chaos of the room.

“YES!”

It was at him in an instant, grace filling him, finding a warm place in him to curl in to. It felt terrified, hurt, alone.

Sam nearly collapsed at the feeling, and had to bite his fist to keep from screaming as he heard Gabriel’s quiet sobs slowly filled his mind.

 

~~

 

Gabriel awoke with a sharp gasp, breaths heaving and his hands frantically skimming over his chest. There was no archangel blade, no blood from his vessel, no wound for his grace to escape out of. He sighed in relief, but as the memories flooded his mind, of trying to do something other than running, of Michael stabbing him, and his shaky breaths stuttered. They came in shallow pants until his lungs burned.

He lay there for a moment, collecting his thoughts and keeping himself from completely falling apart. The dead cleaves crunched under his fingers as Gabriel pushed himself up. The woods were quiet, the hectic commotion of the Winchesters trying to save all the people was gone. The silence was deafening. A reminder that he was still here and everyone else was gone.

He twisted around, eyeing the bodies that littered the area. They looked like animals had gotten to them. How long had he been laying here?

“Hello?” he called out, not sure if he wanted anyone to answer, unsure of what was hiding out there.

No one did.

Still nervously scanning the trees, he dug inside himself, feeling for his grace. He was low when the group of them came over, but as he looked in the depths of his form, he felt so empty. No trace of his angelic self seemed to be left.

Feeling panic welling up inside him, he snapped, trying to conjure something simple. The sound echoed around him, but nothing changed, nothing appeared.

Gabriel’s vision wavered, the tears returning as dread and horror filled his entire being. He was stuck in this terrible alternative universe. No way to know what happened after he got stabbed, if anyone even survived Michael, and no chance of getting back to the Earth he came from.

All Gabriel’s strength left him. He collapsed, falling against the rough bark of a nearby tree. A strained choke got caught in his throat, and he crumpled. Head buried in his arms, Gabriel whimpered at the thought of being so utterly alone. The whimpers faded into soft sobs, and Gabriel prayed for a miracle.

 

~~

 

They sat around the war room table, the cut open bear and the empty vile they found inside it laid out. The tiny vile was covered in intricate angelic sigils, explained by Cas to be specific to Gabriel’s grace.

“I can't believe there was more of it out there,” Dean said, rubbing his eyes trying to keep his headache away.

“Yes, it appears that Gabriel had bits of his grace spread further than I had thought.” Cas’ face was his usual contemplative scowl, as if he was running a thousand different scenarios with a thousand different variables in his mind. And, he probably was. This...situation could go one of a million ways. So, it was probably best to keep all possible options at the ready.

“What the hell was Sam thinking?” Dean asked. “What could he have possibly seen, that this would scream Good Idea at him?”

Cas didn't answer, only squinted his eyes a little more at the bear. “I can only speculate on Sam’s train of thought at the time,” he said. Blue eyes fell on Dean, “It was good, I am sure of it.”

“Yeah,” Dean’s voice was pensive and far away, “okay.”

The air in the war room became heavy, silence hanging between them. Castiel rolled the empty vile in his fingers, tracing the sigils and pointedly looking anywhere but at Dean. The hunter was angry, though hiding it well, and Cas needed a way to diffuse this situation. And quickly.

 

~~

 

The thick darkness of the room did nothing to help Sam. Having Gabriel’s grace in his mind felt like a constant headache, worse than any demon powers vision that he’s ever had. The pain rolled over him in waves, never ebbing far enough to be ignored.

Dean had brought him to his own room, Sam barely able to stand and leaning on his brother for support. He all but collapsed onto his bed, clutching his head and crying, calling for help. It terrified Dean and when he saw nothing that he could fix himself, he had called Cas in to fix what he couldn't see. When the angel went wide eyed and scrambled out of Sam’s room, following their path back to Gabriel’s destroyed room, Dean knew something was really wrong.

But now, both Dean and Cas had left him to investigate, hunched over on his bed, the sound of Gabriel the only sound he could hear.

“Is anyone out there?!”

I am! Sam called out in his mind. Gabriel, can you hear me?

The headache only worsened when Dean opened the door, stepping with Castiel hot on his heels. Sam winced against the artificial light that flooded in with them.

“How ya feeling, Sammy?”

“Not great, Dean,” Sam said through gritted teeth. “Everytime I hear him call out the pain gets worse. And to make matters worse, I still can't tell where he is.”

“Yeah, well, he is a dumbass archangel,” Dean said lightheartedly.

“That’s the thing, Dean. I don't think he is anymore.” Sam looked at Cas, uncertainty in his eyes. “He wouldn't be-I mean, I don't think he would act, feel this scared if he had his grace.”

Cas nodded solemnly, and took a step closer to the bed. “And he still isn't answering you, Sam?”

“No,” he answered, scrubbing a hand down his face, “he can't hear me.”

There was silence for a moment, and then Cas spoke again.

“I think we should try and complete the connection.”

“What?!”

Twin shouts of shock bombarded Castiel, and he couldn't suppress an eye roll as the brothers continued to shout at him.

“Oh, hell no-” “-even do that-” “with that angel douche-” “-whatever helps-” “-over my dead body-” “-wanna find Gabriel-”

“Enough!” shouted Castiel. Sam and Dean both managed to look sheepish.

“Sorry, Cas,” they said together.

Castiel sighed heavily, and continued.

“First of all, no Dean, I will not be bonding your brother to Gabriel. That’s not what this is. Like I said, it is a connection. A bridge. When Sam said yes and let in Gabriel’s grace, it created a link. But the link only goes one way. Normally, when grace is shared in this way, the coupling affects both parties-”

“Dude, don't say ‘coupling,’” Dean interrupted with a look of disgust.

Sam and Cas both gave him a look, and Dean threw his hands up in surrender.

“Anyway,” Cas continued, “the fact that it is a one way connection tell me that Gabriel is too low on power or “out of range”, as it were.”

Dean smiled at Castiel’s use of air quotes.

“All I have to do is give Sam a boost of power on this side, and theoretically, that should be enough to reach Gabriel, wherever he is.”

Sam barely needed time to think about it. “Do it,” he said.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Sam! You're gonna take in even more grace? That could do serious damage, maybe even kill you. All to, what, save your angel boyfriend?”

Sam sputtered. “He- he’s not my boyfriend, Dean.”

“Ok,” Dean laughed. “Tell me this, then. How many times have you had sex with him?”

Sam felt his face heat up and he knew that he turned the brightest shade of red that was physically possible.

“That’s none of your damn business, Dean!”

“Mmm hmm,” Dean said smugly. “How ‘bout that Rowena thing? How’d that make you feel? Probably fine, right? Cuz he’s not your boyfriend?”

Sam glared daggers at his brother, and would probably thrown something at him if it weren’t for another wave of misery washed over him.

“Hello? Can anyone hear me?” Sam hunched in on himself as Gabriel’s voice tore through him. Dean’s light hearted teasing stopped immediately, concern for his little brother’s well being taking over in his mind. “Shit, Sammy,” he whispered as he rubbed Sam’s back soothingly.

I’m coming, Gabriel, Sam thought, trying to feel out whatever connection their minds shared. I’ll save you. You deserve that.

“Just do it, Cas,” Sam hissed, still in pain.

Castiel rounded the bed, standing opposite of Dean, his hand raised to touch Sam’s forehead.

“Sam,” he hesitated, “this will hurt.”

“I said do it.”

Castiel nodded, shared a sympathetic look with Dean, and channeled his grace through his fingers, letting it flow into the younger Winchester.

Chapter Text

Somewhere far away, Sam heard screaming.

He tried to follow the sound, help whoever was in pain, but he just kept circling. It lead nowhere. And everywhere. It lead straight to himself. Those were his own screams, echoing inside him mind as wave after wave of Castiel grace battered him. It hurt, so badly. He tried to call out, to beg Cas to stop, but all that came out were the screams.

Could Dean hear them? Surely if he could he would stop this. Maybe he was right and Sam had died.

Was this hell? A different kind of hell? A hell where everything was black as midnight and the silence was louder than anything on Earth?

Soon, the pain ebbed, the blackness pulled away to reveal a terrified looking Dean, Castiel standing next him as he pulled his hand away from Sam, his features slightly shifted into his “concerned” face. Sam groaned, and closed his eyes again as the bright artificial light of his room hit him fully.

“Hey, now,” Dean fretted as Sam fell back into his pillow, “are you passing out again?”

“No, Dean, just don't wanna see your face right now.”

If Sam had the energy to look up, he would have seen the relief flood his brother’s face as Cas placed a comforting hand on Dean’s shoulder.

“Please don't get all gooey when I’m in the room,” Sam croaked out, knowing what they were doing. Dean laughed heartily, slapping a hand on Sam’s leg and covertly rubbing a tear out of his eye.

“That’s the best time.”

Sam smiled at that.

“How do you feel, Sam?” Cas asked, his hand still squeezing Dean’s shoulder in reassurance.

“Like I was passed through a sieve.”

Cas hummed, then said, “Yes, that would be an accurate description of the process you just went through.”

“Thanks,” Sam muttered as he tried to sit up, Dean quick to lend a hand to help. “Did it work?”

“I think the only one who can tell us that is you, Sam.”

With his body finally upright, and the pain he felt before finally fading away far enough to be ignored, Sam listened.

“I - I don't hear anything.” A pang of fear clenched at Sam. If he was right, and Gabriel had no grace left, he was in danger. There were things in the alternate universe that wouldn't hesitate to attack anything that they came across.

“Maybe he’s just laying low,” Dean said hopefully.

Sam wasn't so sure. He looked to Castiel. There was something in his eyes, an unease there that Sam was well familiar with. Not knowing the fate of a brother, of family, weighed heavily in the angel.

“Let me try to communicate with him, Cas,” Sam said, trying to reassure not only himself that Gabriel was ok, “I’m sure he’s fine.”

He took in a deep breath, closed his eyes, and Sam sought out the archangel in his mind and called out to him.

~~

Hidden in the deep darkness of a sheltering cave, Gabriel sat silent. He didn't dare breath, hoping that whatever was following him moved past and left him alone. The mangled choked off barking and snarling drew closer, and Gabriel sank even further behind the pile of rocks he was hiding behind.

He watched as a large werewolf like creature wandered into view at the mouth of the cave, sniffing loudly. It was obviously following a scent, and Gabriel hoped with every bit of himself that it wasn't his.

Suddenly, the werewolf stood stock still, eyes reflecting into the cave. Gabriel’s heart stopped. But then just as suddenly, the wolf ran off, howling into the approaching night. Gabriel’s whole body seemed to deflate in relief, and he leaned back against the cool rock wall as he scrubbed a hand over his face.

He hated this place. Everywhere he turned, it seemed like some monster was trying to kill him. No creature was recognizable, always an almost version of something back from his home universe. Gabriel had managed to stay hidden, avoiding being out in the open and in full view of everything dangerous.

The angels seemed to be gone, which was the one positive Gabriel could see. Where did they go, though? Last he remembered, Michael was still alive and kicking and the plan was to trap him here. Did they all, Michael and his minions, manage to cross into the portal? Not like he’d ever get the chance to find out.

He was probably going to die here, and soon.

Maybe he should just let a creature take him. What was the point of staying alive? His grace was gone. He was incredibly alone in a desolate apocalyptic wasteland. There was no one left to help him.

His stomach decided this was a good time to remind him it was empty, growling loudly in his ear.

“Oh, shut up,” Gabriel grumbled as he rubbed his stomach, trying to ignore the hunger pains. But when those faded, pain flared up somewhere else in his body. The pain and his fears mingled, doing their best to destroy the taut thread of his sanity. He curled into himself, his knees coming up to his chest as he fisted his hair in frustration. His body convulsed as Gabriel tried to reign in his terrified emotions.

When the tremors finally passed, he was so exhausted that Gabriel leaned back against the cool rock and fell into a fitful sleep.

*

He woke up in pain. Gabriel wasn't sure how long he’s slept. The light outside the cave hasn't changed much, but the difference between night and day here isn't that much. He could have been out a minute or a few hours.

It doesn't matter, though, because the pain in his head is roiling and he thinks this will be the thing that kills him. Gabriel lurches forward, falling on his hands and knees as the waves of pain slowly  become worse and worse. The angel knows that if he screams, the things that are roaming in the woods will find him, and at this moment he might take that quick death over the sledgehammer demolishing his brain.

But Gabriel bites his lip, keeps quiet as the taste of blood floods his mouth and he passes out again.

It’s a momentary respite from the agony.

*

Gabriel wakes up in a much less comfortable position. He fell forward onto his arm when he passed out, and his cheek ached from where it scraped across the gravelly ground. He wipes a hand over his face as he sits up, scrubbing the dried blood from his skin.

The headache (or whatever the hell that was) seems to have passed. Maybe the stress of being stuck had finally caught up with him, and his body had compensated, decided that he needed a break from it all. It was possible, he supposed. The human body was capable of many things, and didn't that thought hurt a little more now that he was as close to human as he had ever been.

Gabriel!!

The sound of someone yelling his name pulled him out of his self-deprecating thoughts with a gasp. He didn't really hear that, did he? There couldn't possibly be anyone left here.

Hello? Are you there?

Gabriel scrambled noisily to his feet, practically scaling the rock pile to get around it. He skid to a stop at the mouth of the cave, still cautious in his rising hope, and scanned the trees. There was no movement, no stirring in the forest. Only silence. Gabriel held his breath, debating whether it was wise to call out himself.

Gabriel?

He whipped around, his name seemingly being called from behind him, echoing off the walls of the cave.

Can you hear me?

It was a whisper, and Gabriel realized with a shock that the voice was in his mind. The world reeled, spun around him as his hands pulled roughly at his hair. He was panicking again, Gabriel knew it, but even through the sinking feeling in himself, he realized he knew that voice. Gabriel could never forget it.

SAM!!!!

Chapter Text

SAM!!!!

Sam gasped, taken aback at the voice shouting in his mind.

“Oh, shit! He’s alive!” he cried, twin looks of relief on Dean and Cas’ faces. “I can hear him. He just called out my name!”

Sam laughed, letting his body finally relax at the knowledge that Gabriel was alive.

“Well, don't get comfy,” Dean chided, though a smile was on his face, “see if that connection thing worked.”

“Can he hear you now, Sam?” Cas blurted out at almost the same time, the look of fear on the angel’s face unsettling Sam out of his revery a bit. But he didn't say a word, just sent his brother and the angel a reassuring smile as he closed his eyes again.

Gabriel?? Is that you?

Sam! Oh, thank my Dad! Where are you?! I need help!

The fear in Gabriel’s voice stung Sam throughout his whole being. He scrubbed his hands down his face, as he looked up at Dean.

“He says he needs help.”

“What?” Dean’s features scrunched up in confusion. “He’s an archangel. Archangels don't need help.”

“Sam did say he thought his grace was depleted,” Cas answered. “And we should help him if Gabriel needs it, grace or no.”

“I’m just worried about him being safe,” Sam muttered to himself, but caught the side glance from his brother.

Gabriel? We are back at the bunker. Where are you? We can come and get you.

Um, Gabriel sounded unsure in Sam’s mind, I don't really know. I've been hiding in this cave for a while.

A cave?

There’s so much fucked up shit out there, Sammy. I can't even summon my blade. I don't wanna die here again.

“Oh, shit.” Are you still in the alternate universe?

“Sam? What is it?” Castiel asked.

Yeah.

Fuck.

“Gabriel. He’s still over there.” Sam looked up, shock in his eyes and defeat sinking into his bones again. “He woke up in the apocalypse world.”

“Shit,” Dean repeated as he hopelessly fell into Sam’s desk chair.

While the brothers were at a loss, a look of determination fell upon Castiel. His hands clenched at his sides and his eyes glowed with grace. “We’re getting him out of there, Sam. You tell my brother that.”

He turned quickly, stalking out of the room with his coat billowing behind him. Sam and Dean only stared, caught off guard by the outburst.

“Um,” Dean started, “I better go with him before he goes nuclear. Keep me posted.”

“You too.”

Both brothers gave the other a lackluster wave as Dean left to follow Cas down the hallway.

Gabriel.

Yeah, Sam?

Looks like Castiel is going to go through every book in our library to get you home.

Sounds good, Sam a lam.

Hey, Sam said with determination, not liking the way Gabriel sounded like he was giving up, we won't stop until we find a way to get you back here. I won't stop. I need you back here, with me.

Sam could hear Gabriel’s small laugh through their shared connection, and for a few moments after that, they sat in silence.

Dean thinks we’re doing it, Sam thought suddenly, immediately feeling his face go a bit red.

Oh yeah? Sam could sense Gabriel’s tension melt a little. What’d you tell him?

To mind his own damn business.

Nice one, kiddo, Gabriel thought with a smile. That work?

Not really.

Ha! Gabriel barked a laugh, Typical Dean. But think of all the ways I can tease you like this in front of him.

Gabriel, this is serious. Sam was happy to hear a little bit of that familiar snark coming from the archangel. He pulled his legs up and pushed himself back so he was leaning against his headboard with a smile on his face. We need to find a way to recreate the portal spell without all the ingredients. Are you safe for now?

I think so. This cave isn't deep, but nothing wants to come in here. And I’ve got some big rocks to hide behind.

Sam frowned, knowing that any safety in that world was short lived at best. They had to get Gabriel out of there now.

The big question is how are you alive right now? We saw- Michael, he...he…

Stabbed me?

Yeah. Sam wrapped his arms around himself.

It’s ok, Sam. I’m ok now.

No, it won't be ok until you are back here and I can give you the grace inside me.

You- Why is there grace inside you? Who’s grace?

It...it’s yours. I think it’s what connected me to you.

Sam, I think it’s what woke me up. I was dead. A goner. “Death launched me into the Empty,” dead. Then I miraculously wake up after you let in a bit of my grace? Yeah, I’m thinking those things are connected

But why would your grace being in me bring you back? N-not that I’m complaining, or anything.

I've got no idea, kiddo.  We can figure it out if I make it back there.

When, Gabriel. Not “if”.

Ok, Sam.

And Sam frowned at the tight laughter echoing in his head.

So, I’ve traded and stored bits of my grace all over the place, Gabriel changed subjects quickly. Where did you find your stash?

In town, surprisingly. There is, well was a thrift shop, and the owner was going around killing hunters so he could steal...whatever he wanted, I guess. Whatever he thought he could sell.

Wow, what a dick.

I know. We took care of it, but we found this old ratty teddy bear in his hidden room, and that had the vile hidden inside it.

There was a moment of silence in Sam’s head, and his anxiety started ratcheting up again.

Gabriel?

No…

His voice shook, fear lacing his voice.

Gabriel, please. What is it?

It was hers. No, please. Not her, Gabriel whispered, and Sam could hear the tears falling.

Who’s? Tell me, Gabriel.

It was Hel’s. It was my daughter’s bear.

Chapter Text

2010

“Daddy, please. I don't like it here.”

Gabriel looked down with a sad smile at the child next to him, and held her hand a little tighter.

“I know, pumpkin,” he said sweetly as he dropped to one knee to look her in the eye, “but right now, we’re in danger.” Her eyes widened, and Gabriel could feel her shaking a little. “Don't be scared, Hel. Gotta be brave for me. Ok?”

Gabriel caressed Hel’s cheek, and felt her tremors subside. She gazed over to the other beings around them, saw their true forms, and stepped closer to her father.

“I can feel it, daddy. This is a bad place.” Hel leaned in closer, whispering in Gabriel’s ear. “Things get shattered here.”

A cold feeling of heartache spread through Gabriel’s body. He glanced up to Narfi and Fenrir, finding blank looks of disinterest at the conversation happening before them. With a sigh, he looked back to his daughter, thinking how best to convince her she was safe.

“Hel, these are daddy’s friends. Practically family. They will help us.” When the look of fear didn't dissipate, Gabriel tried a different approach. “Baby, have you got Fárbjódr?”

In her arms, Hel squeezed her teddy bear closer to her, still not letting go of Gabriel’s hand. She nodded, and Gabriel wiped a tear that fell from her eye. “Yes, daddy.”

“Good girl,” Gabriel said with a smile. “Remember when I made it so that Fárbjódr would be able to always keep you safe?” Hel nodded again, and a weight lifted from his shoulders when Gabriel saw his daughter smile again. “Well, when you get scared, you tell Fárbjódr. Hold him close and it’ll feel like I’m right there with you. And daddy always makes the bad things go away, right?” He tickled her a little, Hel’s laughter lifting him like a soft breeze. “If you have Fárbjódr, there will always be a part of me with you. Ok?”

She nodded, a bit more enthusiastically than before, yet Hel still didn't let go of his hand. Gabriel gave her a kiss on the cheek, and held her hand tightly as he let Narfi and Fenrir lead them through the seedy motel to Loki’s revamped penthouse.

~*~

Gabriel was grateful that Loki agreed to help him again. After Lucifer stabbed that second copy of himself, Gabriel knew he had to go back into hiding. And he wanted to take the one thing that mattered to him the most.

His daughter, Hel.

Lucifer now knew where he had been since he ditched out on heaven, that he was hiding out with the pagans as Loki. If he knew that, it wouldn't be hard for Gabriel’s brother to find and torture one of his pagan friends and get any information about what Gabriel had been doing for all that time. And there was no way that Gabriel was going to leave Hel on her own in case Lucifer slithered his way into her realm.

He knew that she was powerful, that she was perfectly capable of defending herself even though she was forever in the form of an eight year old child. She would always be his baby, his blood; technically a nephilim that Lucifer could exploit. And Father help him, Gabriel would rather die for real than let his fallen brother take Hel’s grace from her.  

Loki had provided everything they could possibly need. Clothes, entertainment, safety; for Gabriel and his daughter. Any toy Hel could want was only a thought away, although she mostly played with Fárbjódr and stuck close to her father.

The motel was always full. When Loki rolled into town, it was a grand time for all supernatural beings in his good graces. The conjured up ballroom was littered with gods and monsters. Ruckus parties and the occasional orgy were always happening, and every now and then Loki would knock on his door and ask Gabriel to join him and his children as they entertained.

Gabriel always declined. There was always a chance that he would be seen, that Lucifer had followed them somehow. Gabriel would rather wait, hidden in their room until it was safe to leave. And Hel, even though she was a goddess of the underworld, was still afraid of leaving the room. Plus, Gabriel just didn't want to expose her to that kind of debauchery.

Things went on fine for a few days. Gabriel and Hel stayed hidden in the motel while they waited for Lucifer to move on so they could run off undetected. Loki and the pagans partied in the floors below, but they were unheard in the angel’s room.

“How much longer do we have to stay here, daddy?” Hel asked, neatly curled up under the covers of the plush bed after a meal, Fárbjódr nestled in her arms. “I wanna go home.”

Gabriel sighed as he cleared the dishes of Loki’s room service. “I know sweetheart,” he said as Gabriel returned to his daughter’s side. He ran his fingers through her hair, eyes soft and loving. “We should be able to leave in a few days.”

Gabriel’s fingers tingled, but he didn't mention it to Hel.

“By then it’ll be safe enough to take you back to your realm.”

The pins and needles feeling traveled up his arm, and Gabriel started to feel dizzy. Something was definitely wrong. The room was reeling. He needed help.

“Don't- don't be s-scared. It’s...gonna...be-”

Gabriel fell back, hitting the floor hard and gasping for breath.

“Daddy!” Hel scrambled off the bed to his side just as the door to their room slammed open, Loki sauntering in and his three children behind him. “Please! He needs help,” she cried to the gods.

“Don't worry, child,” Loki crooned. “He’ll get what he deserves.”

“H-Hel,” Gabriel coughed through clenched teeth, and she gripped her father’s arm tighter as she realized they had been betrayed.

“Grab him,” Loki commanded, and his sons moved to take Gabriel. Before they could cross the room, Gabriel threw his daughter behind him, and with a shout, managed to pull himself to his knees and fire a blast of grace towards the gods. Narfi and Fenrir were sent flying across the room, furniture breaking and glass flying. Sleipnir was caught by Loki, his golden eyes burning with hatred never leaving Gabriel.

“Stay- stay back,” Gabriel spat, his body feeling too heavy to stand.

“Or what?” Loki replied. “You can barely hold yourself up.” Sleipnir moved towards him again, and Gabriel tried to unleash more grace, tried to protect his daughter, but be found he didn't have the strength. “That archangel poison is making you weaker by the second. Soon you won't be able to move, and then you will pay for what you did.”

“I don't-”

Sleipnir cut Gabriel off, grabbing him roughly and tossing him across the room. He landed at Loki’s feet, Hel’s screams echoing in his ear.

“Hel! RUN!!”

Hel slipped past Sleipnir, her teddy bear still in her arms. Fenrir, who had since recovered, tried to grab her. But she reached out, and with a touch of her hand Fenrir was flying again, landing with a sharp cry and clutching a broken arm. Gabriel expected her to run, to escape, but instead she threw herself at him, wrapped her arms around his neck and sobbed.

“Baby,” Gabriel whispered in her ear as he struggled to lift his arms and hug her back, “run. Please.”

“No, daddy,” she cried, “I'll protect you.”

“Well, isn't this just a beautiful sight,” Loki sneered as he rounded Gabriel and Hel on the floor. “Get her out of here.”

Narfi came up behind her, pushing a cloth in front of Hel’s nose and mouth. She screamed again, flailing her arms as she was lifted from Gabriel’s arms.

“N-no,” Gabriel struggled to hold on to her, but there was no strength left in his body. “Don't touch her.”

“Don't worry your pretty little head,” Loki said as he knelt down by Gabriel, Hel's tiny body going limp as Narfi carried her out the door. “She'll be fine. Probably,” he laughed. “Isn't that how that line goes.”

Loki's smile faded into an angry scowl as he bounced on his toes.

“You need to be more worried about yourself, brother.”

Tears fell down Gabriel's cheek, not for himself, but for Hel. “Just...don't...don't hurt...her.”

Loki just stared for a moment, his jaw working in frustration as Gabriel struggled to breath and to stay awake. He stood, pacing the floor. Back and forth while Gabriel's whines and gasps filled the room.

“I am very upset with you, Gabriel. I offered you protection. Sheltered you,” he paced, “and you left with a promise on you lips.”

Loki stopped, turned his glare to the archangel at his feet.

“Your lips,” he quietly repeated. There was a snap, and a blunt, wicked looking needle appeared in his hand. The thick thread hung down, dragging on the floor as he walked back over to Gabriel.

“Loki...please.”

“Someone has tendered an offer for you, my friend,” Loki said as he knelt back over Gabriel. “An offer that I didn't want to refuse.” Sleipnir came up behind Gabriel, pulling him into a sitting position and forcing him to look at Loki, fingers roughly digging into his skin.

Gabriel groaned, gurgled really, as the debilitating poison cocktail continued to send him further into unconsciousness. He had no strength left to fight back.

“Did you enjoy being me?” Loki asked as he examined the needle in the light. “You took my face, you took my life. My pleasures and joys.” Loki paused as his eyes fell to Gabriel again. “But now, I think it's time you learned of my punishments.” He straddled Gabriel's legs, a hand in his hair as he tilted the angel's head back at a sharp angle.

The needle sank in, just below Gabriel's lower lip, and he screamed. Sleipnir's grip tightened, but Gabriel could only feel the pain of the needle as it was fed through his skin again and again.

“This is because you can't keep a promise,” Loki said as Gabriel's screams became whimpers behind the lattice work of thread. “This is for every one of my kind that has died because of you.” The blood flowed, ran down Gabriel's face and landed on Loki's suit. Gabriel prayed to his Father for help. “For every lie that has fallen from these lips.”

Gabriel's tears were silent now. Slowly, his vision faded. The pain in his face was so far away, even as Loki continued to sew up his lips. He thought of Hel, of how much he loved her. He hoped and prayed that she would be safe.

He stopped fighting. The sound of the needle slipping through his skin and Loki's laughter were all he heard as he slowly fell into the darkness.

 

2018

Jesus Christ.

Tell me about it.

Sam sat on his bed, a hand over his mouth as he listened to Gabriel's horrific story. There were tears in his eyes, and he let them fall.

You ok, Sammy? Gabriel asked quietly.

No. He wiped the tears from his face, tried to collect himself. Is that the last time you've seen your daughter?

Yeah. When I woke up after Loki, I was in a dirty cell, and Asmo-dickbag was my… my whatever.

Gabriel. I am so sorry.

It's not your fault, Sam.

Sam only hunched forward, his hands running down his face then back up again.

Maybe if I went back to that hotel sooner...

Please don't do that, Sammy. Don't blame yourself. Anything that happens to me is my fault. Not yours.

Bullshit, Gabriel. You didn't deserve any of that.

Gabriel sighed, pausing before his sad voice filled Sam's mind again. It's ok, Sam.

No, Gabriel. It really isn't.

They sat in silence, both if them digesting the story that Gabriel told. Sam desperately wished he had a solution for this. Something to give Gabriel hope. But at the moment, he didn't have anything.

Do you think...that she's dead?

Sam's blood turned to ice.

I've reached out, with my grace, after I...recovered. But I can't feel her. She's nowhere.

Gabriel was getting frantic, and Sam couldn't find it in him to blame Gabriel for one second of it.

Hel is my daughter. My daughter! He put his hands on her! His disgusting, slimy hands! Where is my daughter, Sam!

Sobs filled Sam's mind. Hearing Gabriel cry, Sam nearly lost it himself. The thought of losing a child, it was too much to bear for either one of them.

We can find her, Gabriel. Please. Please listen.

He waited until the sobs subsided a little.

I'm gonna try. I'll find Hel.

What? Gabriel asked tearfully.

We know the bear that had your grace came from Boston. A hunter named Bart Kemp. We can start there. Hunters keep records, the good ones do, anyway. We'll work backwards. Keep going back until we find her.

Sam…

Or I'll summon her myself with a spell. I'll find her, Gabriel.

Thank you, Sam. I can't tell you enough how-

Abruptly, Gabriel was cut off. Not a sound came through Sam's mind.

Gabriel?

No response.

Gabriel! What happened?!

Sam, he whispered, someone's coming.