The moment Lucifer’s blade pierced his body, Gabriel felt nothing. There was no slight twinge of pain like when he was stabbed by his fake blade, nor any of the phantom sensations he got when one of his many materialized clones met a bloody end. Only a vague hope passed through his mind that the Winchesters would appreciate the parting gift he left—he wanted to be remembered as having the last laugh, even in video form—before Gabriel ceased to exist.
The next time he woke, it was cold.
Gabriel blinked once, slowly, then several times as he tried to clear his vision. The blurry white expanse remained. Allowing his conscious to flood through the body he occupied, he outlined a round head connected to a plump midsection with four extremities attached at all the locations common to that of a human. His search concluded there; the body was hairless, a pattern of slightly raised lines drawn on the epidermis the only oddity he could find. It was a small vessel. A baby’s body.
A brief flash of panic bolted through Gabriel once he identified his new vessel as possibly one of his Father’s creations. It was a strict edict that all angels must seek permission and have it granted before possessing a child of Adam. The last one who attempted to do so without consent was an underling of Lucifer before the Fall: Adramelech. He was given the lower body of a peacock for his troubles.
Another, more in-depth search eased Gabriel’s worries. The soul that had previously resided in this body had already passed on, likely due to the freezing temperatures and exposure he’d noticed, but paid little attention to—his own powers would protect him from such an end. Gabriel felt a pang of sympathy in his grace for the infant’s death and paused in his thoughts for a moment to mourn. He sent no prayer of safe travels, though; Father only knew who could be listening.
A newborn had no place in weather like this void of the necessities for life, yet mortality rates for the young had always been high on Earth during most of its existence. Maybe he’d been sent back in time with his death, if not to another dimension. Gabriel didn’t expect to survive his encounter with his brother, and he knew he hadn’t. An archangel’s blade was one among a small list of objects and entities that could kill an archangel, ranking just below God and Death. Angels didn’t get a heaven when they were killed. He wasn’t supposed to be anywhere. Putting the useless impossible reality of his situation aside, Gabriel sent his grace, depleted, but thankfully still present, to explore his new body with renewed vigor, happy for any distraction.
Despite the absence of a soul, which was usually proceeded by the body’s expiration, Gabriel sensed a magic keeping the physical alive, even after the conscious had departed. The magic, likely an inheritance from the child’s—in Gabriel’s most eloquent, humble opinion—shitty parents, was vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t quite place from which species it belonged to and, consequently, which species his vessel belonged to. A visual inspection it was, then.
With no small amount of effort, Gabriel convinced the weak muscles in his neck to move, causing his head to rotate slowly before flopping to the ground. His view shifted from the blurred white ceiling to a blurred white wall and down to an archway constructed of blurred white—oh, ice. He was in an edifice made of ice. Well, isn’t that perfect. A-plus parenting. Bitches, the lot of them, as Dean would say.
Tilting his head down, a dark blue pigmentation informed him that his new body was not that of a human’s, but a smurf’s. A very cute smurf devoid of the usual colossal snout native to the imaginary breed. I’m actually rather adorable. Who could leave this little thing to die? Its—oh. Jötunn Markings. Well, that explains it.
The Jötnar, a race of frost giants with a decidedly bad reputation throughout Norse mythology, were not viewed kindly by the rest of the realms due to their status as enemies in Asgard’s supremacy. He should know: for a time, many thought Gabriel one of them during his many millennia of hiding. With his new knowledge of the child’s parentage, Gabriel was not surprised by the boy’s abandonment. The body, though average, if not slightly large, for a human, would be seen as puny by the generally massive people. And although this could be excused with rigorous training, the markings of royalty spun over his vessel’s body would negate that chance. A weak Jötnar of the royal line—his death may have been a blessing, though Gabriel refused to view it as such. So much magical prospective still in its embryonic state, so much potential in all aspects stored away in a single life, now gone to waste.
Gabriel was ripped away from his internal morals parley by the “thud, thud, clank, thud” of approaching footsteps. His eyes darted to the archway in time to see a man pass under them into the ice fortress. No, not a man: a warrior. One who didn’t walk so much as thunder into the pure white palace, breaking any sanctity it could have contained with his mere presence. His hulking frame was garbed in metallic battle armor that would probably be very shiny and pretty if it wasn’t drenched in blood and torn in a few places.
Now this was Gabriel’s kind of guy. If only he were about six feet taller and two hundred pounds heavier, he’d get up and shake the man’s hand, marveling as he probably broke the archangel’s metacarpals before even realizing there was a jabbering insect in front of him. Then Gabriel would de-pants him in front of an assembly or stain all of his whites pink because the warrior reminded him of his brother, Michael. And Santa Claus; the beard was epic.
“Monster,” the man rumbled, his glazed gaze looking down on the infant with a vacant bloodlust that set off at least half of Gabriel’s admittedly declining-with-age danger instincts. Just as he was dredging up his tired grace into a grand escape, featuring fireworks and at least one stink bomb, he took a second look at the man’s eyes. Sure, there was insanity present, as there often is in the heat of battle for soldiers with a lot to lose, but something else shined in their depths as well. Love and loyalty, fierce protectiveness, dedication—all the best traits of a man with a family. A father.
It had been so long since he’d had a family he could rely on—because you ran away from your last family—shut up—that the thought of having a fresh start and that love one day aimed at him stayed Gabriel’s actions. Instead, as the man’s sword began to rise above his little body, he redirected his grace to a less flashy purpose.
The sword above him stilled, along with the man as the baby’s skin melted before him from the hated blue of his worst enemies to the peachy tint his own son had sported as the physicians laid him in his father’s arms for the first time, a weary Frigga smiling indulgently at her husband and newborn. Then the tiny beast began to gurgle quietly and reached his arms up towards Odin, beaconing for him to pick the babe up.
Several minutes passed with the man remaining stationary and Gabriel’s arms progressively getting weaker, though he dared not lower them; the thin appendages were his best defense right now without expending more of his exhausted grace. Eventually, Gabriel shoved down his battered pride and let out one final whine, breaking the man from his stupor.
Slowly, as if anticipating regretting every movement, his reached down to grant the pleading infant its wish. He paused just before touching the child, then, with a muttered oath Gabriel pointedly ignored with his new innocent ears, rapidly snatched him up and held him to his chest, holding his breath. When the baby blinked up at him in response and nodded in approval before wiggling farther into the crook of his arm, the man released a heavy sigh and turned gently, beginning his trek back to safety with unforeseen cargo.
Gabriel’s new father was warm to the touch, and his thick arms cocooned the babe’s frail body in a heated embrace that had his eyes drooping within seconds. Dying took a lot out of an archangel—he deserved a rest, even if it was found in the arms of a stranger who’d tried to kill him.
He’d figure out where the hell he’d been sent to tomorrow.