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Across the Universe

Chapter Text

Sounds of laughter, shades of life
Are ringing through my opened ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love, which
Shines around me like a million suns,
It calls me on and on across the universe

 

Prologue

Gabriel spins in his chair, twirling in circles and popping his gum. His hands pound out the rhythm of the song playing as he watches the ceiling go around in never ending circles. The ceiling tiles above him whirl together as he goes around and around.

What is he doing? He's losing his mind. He's reached a level of boredom so beyond any he’s known that he's getting his kicks spinning in office chairs like a five year old. He’s watching people fill tiny paper cups from an oversized plastic jug. What the hell? How do humans stand this?

The stuffy air, the endless phone calls discussing the same thing with 20 different people, the paperwork, the filing, the computers. The endless monotony is enough to drive someone off the deep end. Gabriel is pretty sure that's where he's headed.

He's had his fun here, but this office is pretty pranked out now. If he’s being honest, this was a lightweight Trickster job anyway -- small fries compared to what he’s really capable of. He needs something new, something exciting. But how does he manage that without drawing attention to himself? Anything on a middle-to-large scale that screams trickster is going to set off warning bells for every angel in heaven, and he sure as hell doesn't want to get their attention.

Maybe he should find another office but he's just not in the mood.

He pauses his spinning to kick his feet up on a secretary's desk, scattering the guy's papers everywhere. The guy looks like he's going to cry. Gabriel should probably feel bad.

No, no he really shouldn’t when he thinks about it. He heard this prick ask one of the female assistants if she really needed that extra spoonful of strawberry topping on her cheesecake yesterday and it had just irked Gabriel.

“I mean really, Debbie, do you even need the cheesecake? That skirt looks like its reached max capacity. I'd hate to see you bust a seam at work, how embarrassing.” The dickhead had patted her arm in mock sympathy, smiling slyly as Debbie hung her head.

This guy is such an asshole.

Poor Debbie had returned to her desk to cry and shovel rich, delicious cheesecake down her throat. It was valiant attempt to drown her self-hatred. Gabriel had considered afflicting Debbie with an overactive thyroid so she could drop her unwanted weight, but her issues weren't really about the extra 20 pounds. Hell, she looked damn good in his opinion. She was curvy in all the right spots and way the hell out of dickhead Bill’s league, even though she couldn't see it.

No, helping her lose weight wouldn't fix anything. She's just going to have to learn to love herself on her own, flaws and all. Probably never happen, it never does for most humans.

Gabriel snaps his fingers and sets off the sprinkler over Bill’s head. Just that one, so he alone is getting drenched. Maybe he should hit Bill with an underactive thyroid? Make him gain 20 to a 100 extra pounds so he knows how it feels?

Bill looks up at the ceiling in total disgust. “Fuck my life,” he mutters.

Nah, Gabriel's work here is done.

What the hell is going do though? These low level trickster gigs are such a waste of his talent. He's meant for bigger and better things, not sulking around cloaked in invisibility feeling like a window peeper.

Maybe he should try jumping universes again. He hasn't done that in centuries. He was always a little afraid of it, which made it even more exhilarating. It took him awhile to figure it out, but he had nothing but time on his hands. Eons and eons of time. Angels can live forever, after all, if they’re careful.

The first time he'd managed it he’d been shocked. And then he thought he might be stuck there. He’d had no expectation of ever making it home because he was totally wiped. His grace was toast, making him almost human.

He'd landed in a rather drab post-apocalyptic world that at first was novel for its utter uniqueness, but soon became depressing. When he recovered enough power to jump out of there he assumed he'd land some place else random, but instead he landed right back at home in the middle of a screaming match between Lucifer and Michael. And each time he'd jumped after that he'd end up somewhere random and new, and then he'd land right back at home.

It took so much of his power to jump he was trapped wherever he landed for a few days. Sometimes he'd had enough juice left to snap around inside the new universe, but sometimes he couldn't even do that.

And the last time he'd jumped had been a total fucking disaster.

He'd landed in a universe where the world was ending. And not an averted apocalypse or a World War kind of way, this was an overheated Earth core with catastrophic side effects. The earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, storms, tidal waves -- it was all pretty unsettling for him. It would have been for the people of the universe as well, but they'd all died by the time he jumped in on the scene.

He was terrified that time, truth be told. He'd never worried much about where he'd land before that, he figured there wasn't anything he couldn't charm or snap himself out of (he is pretty damn charming after all), but he was terrified he'd die in the implosion of that planet before his batteries fully charged so he could jump again. He hadn't jumped since, and that had been centuries ago.

But sometimes when he jumped he landed someplace awesome. He almost got addicted to it for a while, bouncing around, seeing what other earths were like, what the people and Gods and monsters were like.

It always interested him that wherever he landed he seemed to be near the location of the humans, Gods or monsters that he was currently surrounding himself with. It must be some strange law of universes or something. Not always, occasionally some were missing; they were dead or hadn't been born yet, but usually.

One time when he was hot and heavy with Kali he'd landed on an earth where the sand was silver and reflective and the sky was a strange shade of green like none he'd seen before. He wandered the streets of a primitive city looking at the strange fruits, vegetables and meats for sale. He'd turned a corner and seen her there.

Kali was surrounded by her children, there must have been at least five running around her legs. The similarities in all their features made it obvious she was their mother. She was laughing as she watched one of her daughters dance; she'd bent down and cupped the child's face in her palm and called her “Ut’st.” Gabriel assumed it was the child's name, the word sounded both harsh and gentle on her tongue.

He'd wandered closer and followed her through the streets for a long while. Her skin seemed to shimmer with blue where the sun touched it, and some of her children had the same coloring. A few of them seemed to shimmer green though, and one shone with a soft pink. She took turns carrying the three youngest toddlers. One of her sons had finally pulled her down to whisper in her ear and she'd turned and looked at Gabriel.

She smiled and dipped her head to him, her children running over. They tugged his arms and laughed when he tried to raise them. She'd slowly walked over, admiring her children as she did.

“Kali?” he'd asked when she came near. Sometimes humans had the same names, but you never knew with gods. She might not even be a god in this universe.

“Yes,” she'd said in her native tongue.

He could understand her. He could always understand everyone, though sometimes it took a while to acclimate to the stranger dialects.

“You don't belong,” she paused and motioned to him, “where?”

“Where am I from?” he tried to clarify her question.

She nodded.

“Another universe. You know what a universe is?”

She nodded to him again.

“You're a god here?” he asked.

“Yes,” she spread her hands to gesture to her children, “fertility.”

“Of course, a fertility god.” He smiled, chuckling a little. He couldn't wait to tell his Kali the Destroyer about this version of her.

She'd taken him home with her to her husband, who shimmered with a pink sheen in his skin, and her 13 older children. Eighteen children and she was still young for a fertility god in her world, he learned. She'd probably end up having a hundred. The more she had the more her followers were blessed with healthy babies.

He'd spent six days with them. He'd laughed and eaten and been just as captivated by that Kali as he was by his own, more if he was being honest. He was strong enough to jump home after four days, but he'd stayed two more just to be near this Kali.

She was so loving and maternal. She made him feel treasured and yet she showed no signs of an attraction to him. On the contrary, she appeared to make everyone feel loved and whole, and so people flocked to her for comfort and reassurance. She never turned one soul away while he was there.

She was absolutely faithful to her husband, and the man with the pink shimmering skin worshipped her. He seemed to know that he'd somehow gotten a soul so rare it was indescribable. He welcomed Gabriel to their home and made him feel just as important as Kali did. This was a special place.

Those extra two days though. Something had started happening in those two days. Gabriel had started to feel different somehow, different down in his core. One time he'd glimpsed a mirror and he could have sworn he saw a gold shimmer in his skin. He'd turned his head this way and that for a full five minutes but he couldn't get it to come back. He just couldn't shake the feeling that something strange was happening, and he'd finally been rattled enough to go home.

He hadn't wanted to leave that universe. He'd almost mourned it when he left. He'd tried to find it again once or twice but it was impossible to find a specific universe in the swirling vortex when he jumped around.

His Kali hadn't been impressed with the other version of her.

“Loki, I wish you'd stop with these fantasies and stories. It's tiring. There's only one universe, and we rule it. Why do you insist on dreaming up others?”

Soon after he'd drifted apart from Kali and he knew he'd never find that other universe again.

He thinks about that world more and more lately. It brings back that longing to jump again, over heated earth core and world-ending catastrophe be damned. What is he living for at this point anyway? To torment the likes of Bill?

He's bored. He's been in hiding since he faked his death with Luci and all this laying low and drawing no attention is just so damn tedious at this point. He needs a change, and a few days in an alternate universe sounds like just the ticket.

Screw it, let's do this.

 

Day 1

Gabriel juices himself up, drawing his power up and pushing it into a hole until it opens up. The window to a chaos unlike any other opens up and he dares to step into a swirling abyss of unknown. He's immediately lurched to the side and his feet are swept up and around.

He smiles, reveling in the loss of control, in the light feeling in his stomach as he lets himself be catapulted away. He sees glimpses, fractions of seconds of other worlds, other realms. Most he has no place in and he's pretty sure he can't enter. They sweep by so quickly he wouldn't be able to try if he wanted to. He lets the chaos propel him wherever it wants, and eventually he feels himself pushed out.

He lands on his feet in the middle of a crosswalk; it's a busy street in a bustling city. He glances around at the people pushing past but they don't seem to notice the small, rather nondescript man that appears out of nowhere. They're busy trying to get to their lunch meetings or quick midday meals. A man bumps into his shoulder as he passes.

“Excuse me, sir,” the gentleman apologizes kindly. Gabriel has no idea if this city exists where he's from, but at least they're polite here.

He wanders down the sidewalk, looking up at the buildings and into shop fronts. This earth appears to mirror the one he's from. Humans look exactly the same, they're dressed the same, cars look the same and so do the flowers being sold by the vendor on the corner of 80th Street and Metcalf Ave. This must be a parallel, not an alternate universe.

He sees a sign on a diagonal corner of the street. “Overland Park Farmers Market” it says. It points east of where he is, and a block down he can see a sign that points him south. He strolls along toward it, taking in details and interesting sights.

He isn’t necessarily aiming for the market but he figures it's as good a place as any to people watch and get a feel for the city. This part of town is older and has character. The sun is shining, warm and comforting as he walks. He likes it.

The market is closed. It's a weekday afternoon and there aren't any vendors or shoppers, just a few people moving through from one destination to another. Gabriel wanders on. He's in no rush, obviously there's nowhere for him to be. But what's better than that is the feeling that he doesn't need to hide. There's no need to watch his back or look over his shoulder, no one here knows anything about him being an angel.

That sets him free.

A couple blocks from the market he passes a restaurant with a lovely outside seating area. He decides to have a seat and order a dessert. He steps into the section of tables and glances into the bar looking for a waitress.

He makes eye contact with the bartender for a brief second until a man stands up between them to reach into his pocket and retrieve his wallet. The man lays a few bills on the bar and the woman beside him stands as well. When they turn toward Gabriel he instantly panics.

No- no way! It couldn’t be, could it? Sam? Sam Winchester?! Gabriel stumbles back into a chair and manages to turn away just as Sam’s eyes raise to the noise. What is Sam Winchester doing here? His mind is reeling.

Gabriel shouldn't have to hide here, this isn't home, and the same rules don't apply. But recognizing someone who was so closely caught up in the apocalypse throws him off and he feels he needs a second to compose himself.

He spins and bolts from the tables and back to the sidewalk looking for a place to duck into. Maybe that wasn’t really Sam. Maybe he saw a guy with a similar build and features and he just assumed. That could be, right? He should get a closer look, just to be certain.

He finds an alley a little ways down and slips into the shadow, hoping they move this direction. He waits and sure enough, a couple minutes later Sam Winchester walks by with a short red-headed woman. They're chatting and she's laughing, she smiles up at Sam.

Gabriel gives them a few minutes and then peeks out. Should he follow? He hasn't seen Sam in years and he has no idea who the woman is. He never had much of a relationship with Sam outside of trying to teach him lessons around the apocalypse.

Hmmm. What the hell, he thinks. Might as well see what Sam is up to in this universe. Nothing better to do anyway.

He steps out of the alley and just catches the couple turning right up ahead. He follows them for quite a while and they turn out to be pretty damn boring. The woman talks a lot. Sam listens attentively and nods at all the right times, but eventually Gabriel wonders if Sam is really listening.

After about 25 minutes they step into an apartment building. Gabriel figures that's it, they're home and they're obviously seriously boring so he might as well move on. But just as he's moving closer to the entrance Sam comes back out. Gabriel spins on his heel and tries to act nonchalant.

He turns and follows Sam back the way they came. Two blocks back Sam unlocks the door of a townhouse and steps inside.

Huh. I figured he was married to her. Oh hell, probably just his girlfriend. He's probably a doting, loyal, perfect boyfriend. That sounds like Sam.

Gabriel hangs around outside figuring Sam will emerge that evening, but he doesn't. He thinks about moving on, wandering around and looking for something interesting, because standing across the street from Sam Winchester's townhouse is definitely not interesting. But he stays, he doesn't know what makes him stay other than the fact that usually the first person he encounters in a universe is the one he's the most involved with in his own.

But Sam, he's not involved with Sam at all anymore. So what's going on here? It doesn't make sense to him. But really, maybe it's just because he's not really involved with anyone these days. No friendships, no family, nothing romantic. He's been lying really low. So maybe Sam is a default, because the last people he was involved with were the Winchesters. What did he expect, to bump into Bill and Debbie?

Whatever the reason, he stands there all night.