A second or two later, everything just – blows up.
The next thoughts Sam has are "ow, ow, ohmyfuckingGod, OW," and then, "warm."
Much much too warm.
He pries his eyes open and sees orange and yellow and white shimmering much, much too close. Okay, he needs to move and right the hell now, manages to get an elbow under himself before the pounding agony that is his entire body and the funny angle of his left leg inform him that it just isn't going to happen. The fire roars around him or maybe that's the blood in his ears. Not that it matters now. He rolls his head, gasping; sees that he's surrounded. The Devil's erstwhile vessel, going out in a warehouse inferno – there's something ironic about that.
"I'm sorry, Dean," he whispers, and closes his eyes. "I didn't – I'm so sorry." Dean. Oh, Dean. Cas,don't let him do anything stupid this time, and tell Gabriel -
And he'll never know now, will he, coward, Sam, fuckin' coward and you never would just ask-
Much too hot for anything now and he hates hates hates burns, helluva way to die but at least nobody's gonna be using what's left of him after –
Hands on him, hands, a touch like feathers across his cheekbone and a great canopy of fiery, shimmering wings arced over him and Sam has no clue if he's really seeing them or not, but they're beautiful as fuck and way more real than the flames barely a foot from him, they'd burn him to ash in seconds if he touched them but he would, God, he would –
And then a sharp smack of cool air and he gasps for it, choking on the sudden blessed lack of smoke, and someone's holding him, pulling him up to let him breathe.
"I swear to Dad, Winchester, three minutes! Leave your sorry ass alone for three minutes and what the fuck did you do?! "Quick, easy little zombie hunt," he says, "be back before you know it," he says– "
The sniping of a trickster come archangel has never sounded so sweet. "S'all it shoulda been," Sam manages, coughing.
"Well, obviously not."
Sam ends up on his side on the ground with his head in Gabriel's lap, the archangel's hand resting along his neck, warmth of a better kind spreading from the spot. One finger is making slow sweeps along Sam's nape. "Zombies 'r usually easy," Sam says hoarsely, watching the burning building that's now at least twenty yards away. "Stake 'em and done."
"Not when they're working on spontaneous combustion! Not when they were alcoholics while alive and kept eating alcoholics after they got zombified! Fire and booze together? Hello? Ringing any bells?"
"You couldn't've told me that earlier?"
"If I'd known that earlier, yes," Gabriel snaps. But his hand on Sam's skin is careful, almost – gentle.
Sam reaches without thinking, ignoring the stab of pain in his shoulder, and wraps his fingers around a wrist that's not as slender as he expects it to be. "Thanks."
Silence. Then Gabriel huffs softly. "Idiot."
Sam squeezes his wrist.
The pounding agony is easing slowly into something on the closer side of livable, and Sam thinks he's got Gabriel to thank for that. He doesn't say anything. He wonders if he should. "Y'know," he says instead, still watching the fire, "from here it's almost pretty. Just need some marshmellows."
There's a soft click next to his ear, and Sam smells sugar. "Open your mouth." He does, and gets a mouthful of warm goo and caramelized crunch, toasted to perfection. "Don't say I never gave you anything."
Sometimes hanging with angels is awesome. "You take me to the best places," Sam mumbles happily, warm sweetness melting on his tongue.