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For Love is Strong as Death

By Sakuri

Romance / Humor

Chapter 1

Written: 2011

Summary: Sam/Gabe, eventual Dean/Cas AU. Four months after the apocalypse that wasn't, Sam, Castiel and Gabriel are brought back to life at the same time and place, leaving Sam to deal with two suddenly human angels and the fact that he can never see his brother again...

Note: This was written right after Season 5 as some light-hearted closure, so it doesn't take into account any canon events past then.

Sam woke up.

That was the first clue something had gone wrong.

He was pretty sure, somewhere in the back of his head, that one didn't get to just 'wake up' after hurling one's self into the Pit alongside two archangels intent on Earth's destruction. So, naturally, it was somewhat unexpected to blink his eyes open, only to squint them shut again against the light of a winter-white sky. He groaned and forced himself to roll over, his hand pressing into frost-stiffened grass. The presence of grass at all was a little shocking. Sam wasn't an expert or anything, but he didn't think Hell was the kind of place to have grass.

It was entirely possible he was avoiding the bigger issues at hand here.

"Dean?" The name came automatically to his lips, his brother always the first thing he looked to in any situation. And Dean had been the very last thing he'd seen before falling, what felt like mere moments ago. Dean should be here.

But he wasn't, Sam knew instinctively, feeling his stomach twist. Looking around, he realised he wasn't even in Stull anymore. There was no cemetery, no Impala, no Dean. There was, in fact, nothing for as far as he could see but fields silvered with frost and mist.

Crap, he thought eloquently.

It wasn't the strangest thing that had ever happened – not by a long shot – so it was mostly a matter of habit that had him hauling himself to his feet, dusting himself down as he went. Still, even waking up alone in the freezing wilderness seemed far too good to be true when the alternative was Hell, so he couldn't really help but wait nervously for the other shoe to drop.

He didn't have to wait long.

He turned around on the spot, wondering vaguely which direction would be the best to start walking in, when his eyes suddenly caught sight of some flash of colour other than the relentless silver-green.

And Christ, Sam would know that shade of tan anywhere.

He stumbled forward without conscious thought, slip-sliding down a grassy slope towards the blessedly familiar figure of Castiel. It was, admittedly, slightly less reassuring to realise the angel wasn't moving, was in fact looking about as comatose as the time he'd pushed his angelic powers to their very limits. His limbs were sprawled haphazardly around him, as though his strings had been cut and he'd just crumpled. The grass around him was free of frost, maybe even a little scorched closest to the angel's body. But probably the strangest aspect of the whole scene was the randomly placed and rather mundane looking travel bag lying beside him.

Dismissing that for the moment, however, Sam cursed quietly as he knelt down next to the angel. He suffered the sudden, intense memory of Lucifer's cold fury, snapping his fingers while Sam screamed inside his own head and Castiel exploded in a red shower of gore. Sam very nearly recoiled as the vision pressed heavy behind his eyes, but he forced himself to reach out and shake the angel's shoulder instead.

"Cas! Cas, c'mon man, Dean'll kill me if I let you slip into a coma or freeze to death or something..." He didn't give voice to the fact that Dean might kill him anyway, having already watched Sam make a fine paste of his not-quite-boyfriend.

Sam was getting to the point where he was seriously ready to freak the fuck out just thinking about it all when Cas finally deigned to wake up. The angel stirred uneasily, scrunching up his face in a manner his stoic features usually didn't allow, then blinked dazedly up at Sam.

That lasted all of two seconds, and then Castiel was scrambling away from him so fast Sam barely had time to react. Cas looked wild-eyed, and Sam half expected an angel sword to come flying at him any second now.

"Woah! Cas! It's me!" He threw up his hands in what he hoped was a placating gesture, or possibly just abject surrender. "No Lucifer, I swear. Just me."

The angel's blue eyes didn't get any less intent as he tilted his head to the side a fraction, considering. "Sam?"

"Yeah. Yeah, Cas, it's me."

Castiel glanced over his shoulder fleetingly, as if reluctant to take his watchful, wary stare away from Sam for too long. "...Where are we?"

"Was kinda hoping you could tell me that, actually."

"I... am not certain," he admitted after a few long moments of thought. "I can't quite seem to get my bearings."

Sam reached up a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Okay. Right. Well, are we even on Earth, do you know?" Considering the circumstances, it was a perfectly valid question.

"I believe so, yes. How we were returned here, however..."

Sam opened his mouth to respond – to ask one of the countless questions buzzing in his head, perhaps – but he didn't get the chance. Someone else spoke over him.

"Oh, you have got to be kidding me..."

Both he and Cas turned sharply, looking up at the crest of the hill Sam had previously descended. Standing there was one of the last people either might have expected to see.

Gabriel looked thoroughly nonplussed as he moved towards them, and more than a little bedraggled. "I knew it," the archangel proclaimed scathingly. "I knew something like this would happen if I got involved. I died, didn't I?"

"Uhm..." Sam answered, helpfully.

Gabriel just nodded like that explained everything. "Figures. My own fault, really, associating with Winchesters." His amber eyes flashed with something like accusation, which Sam thought was a little unfair, before the archangel glanced around with feigned disinterest. "Speaking of, where is your lesser half?"

"He's –" But Sam had to cut off abruptly, because the truth was he had no idea where Dean was. Hell, he had no idea where they were at this moment in time. He looked helplessly at Castiel, only to see his own bemusement reflected in blue eyes.

Gabriel took this as his cue to let out a noise of utter scorn. "Oh, come on! You're not telling me that of all of us, Dean 'Deathwish' Winchester was the only one to survive the apocalypse! How is that even fair?"

"Shut up, Gabriel," Sam snapped automatically, annoyed. "Look, do you have any idea what's going on here?"

The smaller angel only shrugged. "Nope. Last thing I remember was Luci sticking a sword through my guts – which, by the way, hurt like a bitch. So would one of you chuckleheads like to fill me in on what I missed?"

Sam didn't have the patience or the inclination to give an in-depth description of exactly how downhill things had gone after that, so he said simply, "I said yes to the Devil." After pausing just long enough for Gabriel to gape incredulously at him, he added, "Then I threw myself into the Pit and dragged both your brothers with me. Woke up here about five minutes ago."

Gabriel, for the first time ever, looked truly stunned. He opened his mouth but seemingly couldn't bring himself to say anything.

Sam turned his back on him, addressing Cas instead. "Okay. So. We're alive. ...Right? I mean, we seem pretty alive..."

"It would seem a reasonable conclusion. Perhaps... Perhaps my Father decided to restore those of us who died by Lucifer's hand."

Behind him, Gabriel let out an inelegant snort. "You better hope that's what's going on, little bro, because I swear to Dad, if someone's sold their soul yet again, I will be very angry. I, for one, am not doing all this shit over again."

Sam winced, secretly hoping against hope that that wasn't the case. He was almost completely certain that Dean wouldn't do something that stupid a second time. After all, Dean had made him a promise. Sam had made his brother swear up and down that if he lived through the final battle he'd go back to Lisa and Ben and finally have the Apple Pie life he deserved. Dean had promised, and no matter how much of a thoughtless jerk he could be sometimes, Dean had never in his life intentionally broken a promise to his little brother. Sam didn't think he'd start now, and that meant Dean couldn't possibly have anything to do with their abrupt reappearance in the world, because right now Dean was living it up in suburbia with his ready-made family and his shot at normality and his... and...

Cold abruptly settled in Sam's stomach as he realised something.

He looked at Cas, blinking in shock at his revelation. "Dude, we can't go back."

The angel cocked his head. "Go back where, Sam?"

He raised a hand to run anxiously through his hair, distress finally breaking through the numb surrealism of the whole predicament. "To Dean. Cas, God... He's happy. He's got Lisa and... and a kid. We can't just turn up and drag him back into this fucked up life all over again."

"Oh here it comes," Gabriel scoffed from the sidelines, checking his none-existent watch. "The patented Winchester Angst, right on schedule. And you've only been alive for ten whole minutes, Sammy. New record!"

He was largely ignored.

Castiel frowned disapprovingly. "Your brother would want to know you're safe, Sam. You know that. To allow him to go on believing –"

"No. Stop." He held up a hand, took a breath. "Cas, think about it. Dean... He deserves this. You know he deserves this, after everything he's done. He finally has a normal life, he's safe, he's with a woman he loves. I don't know about you, but I'm not going to be the one who takes that away from him."

It was a low blow and Sam knew it as he watched the angel's face completely shut down at mention of Dean being in love with someone. Sam didn't care. He had to put a quick stop to the angel fluttering off and crash landing back into his brother's domestic bliss, and he'd do it by any means necessary.

Castiel hunched his shoulders and straightened his spine and, at last, nodded once. "Yes. Of course. I was being... inconsiderate."

Gabriel rolled his eyes, unimpressed by the whole performance. "...Uh huh. Anyway, much as I've enjoyed this little catch-up, I think I'll be on my way now. People to see and things to do now that I'm back from the dead. Heck, you two have done this before, you know how it is." He grinned crookedly, then snapped his fingers loudly in the winter silence.

Everyone waited.

After a few long seconds the mischievous expression dropped from Gabriel's face and he snapped again. Still nothing happened.

"Uhm, Gabr–"

"Shut up," the archangel interrupted, too busy glaring at the hand that was still snapping with increasing desperation.

Sighing, Sam left him to it as he turned to Cas. "How're your angel powers feeling? Can you fly?"

Castiel closed his eyes serenely, looking vaguely statue-like with his absolute stillness. It was surreal counterpoint to the background hysterics Gabriel was currently having, his frantic snapping having devolved into claps and curse words violent enough to make even Sam wince.

Eventually Castiel opened his eyes again. "I cannot. I... feel very much like I did when I woke up in the hospital."

Sam blinked. "You're human again?"

"...Hopefully it will prove a temporary condition."

The human sighed for the second time. "Perfect." He took yet another look around, considering his options.

He had no idea how long they'd all been dead. It could be minutes, months or years. Fuck, for all he knew it could be god damn centuries. That'd be just typical.

He had no idea where he was or even, if he was honest, where he was supposed to go. Wasn't like he had anywhere to call 'home' other than the Impala and wherever Dean was – and they were both, for previously mentioned reasons, out of bounds. He supposed there was Bobby's, maybe. Or he could just start from scratch, find his way to the nearest town or city and just pick up where he'd left off – only, y'know, without his brother.

"Why the fuck would He do this to me?" Gabriel suddenly shrieked, his furious incredulity rending the frigid air.

And that was another thing Sam had no idea about. Here he was in the company of two suddenly powerless angels who may or may not be stuck like that, at least one of whom had no fucking clue about how to be human. What the hell was he supposed to do with that? Take them with him? Okay, Castiel he could deal with. He might be Dean's personal angel but it wasn't like he and Sam weren't also friends – after a fashion, anyway. He could get along with Cas. The angel might be nerdy and angsty and sometimes he might get a little bug-eyed when he did his whole Super Serious Angel Business routine, but he was still Cas. Sam kind of owed him.

But Gabriel? Seriously?

Gabriel, who was busy throwing the world's biggest hissy fit right there in front of them without a trace of shame.

Sam had to look away, because some things were just embarrassing. His eyes landed instead on the randomly placed travel bag that had been lying next to Castiel. With a frown, he crouched down next to it.

It took a moment, but when recognition came, he blinked in surprise. It was the exact same bag he'd had with him back before he'd... well, died. The exact same bag he'd hauled in and out of the Impala's trunk and into a thousand motel rooms. He yanked the zipper open and peered inside, strangely bewildered to find his own mundane possessions. The laptop, one spare pair of jeans, a number of shirts and hoodies, some fraudulent credit cards that probably weren't safe to use anymore, and Ruby's knife.

"...The hell?"

"It would seem our Father has seen fit to provide for you upon your return," Castiel observed from where he was hovering at Sam's shoulder.

Sam snorted and wondered why God hadn't seen fit to drop them all off somewhere inhabited, instead, or why He hadn't given the angels back their powers, or even, hell, why He hadn't just stopped the Apocalypse before they'd all died. It seemed to Sam that if God really was responsible for their mass resurrection, He was doing a half-assed job of it.

But that might be the disillusionment talking.

He shouldered the bag with a huff, glancing askance at his not-so-angelic companions. "So. Any preference on which way we're headed?"

It turned out they were in Wisconsin, of all places. The damn Cheese State. God had a stupid sense of humour.

Sam stole the first car they came across.

(As it happened, they came across it only after a two hour trek that was, all things considered, better left unmentioned. Suffice to say that if he ever again had to listen to Gabriel bitch about something as mundane as walking being beneath the dignity of angels, since they should just be able to snap their fingers and BAMF their way halfway around the globe if they felt like – well it would be an eternity too soon.)

He settled for physically hauling Gabriel into the backseat of their newly liberated vehicle – not at all above using his size advantage while the archangel was without his superpowers – kicking the door shut with perhaps more violence than was necessary, and storming around to take his seat behind the wheel. Cas had shotgun, and after taking one careful sidelong glance at the fixed expression Sam wore, didn't even comment on the immorality of grand theft auto.

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