When Sam woke up for the second time, the cabin was bright and smelled richly of coffee. After adjusting his eyes to the morning sunshine, Sam rolled over on the bottom bunk to look around, wondering where that heavenly aroma had come from. Across the room, Gabriel was still snoring on the couch; mouth hanging open and golden hair all over his face. The trickster obviously wasn't responsible for filling the cabin with the glorious smell of coffee. The real culprit was sitting at the table behind the couch.
“Mornin' Sammy,” Dean mumbled, tossing a glance toward him, “You should get over here and take a look at this.”
Sam blinked toward his older brother, watching him leaf through a newspaper. He assumed that there must have been a headline in there that pertained to them. After yawning and stretching, Sam did what Dean requested. He rolled out of bed – and stretched again, to work out all the kinks in his back and neck – before shuffling toward his brother. There was a brown bag and three plastic cups on the table, along with the newspaper. Dean must have went out earlier to get all this stuff. The older brother held up the newspaper, letting the front page stare Sam in the face.
“Multiple bizarre homicides in U.S overnight?” Sam read aloud.
Dean slapped the paper back on the table, as he reached for a plastic cup of coffee. Sam could tell he was aggravated, by the way he was holding his coffee with a clenched fist.
“I've been praying to Cas all damn morning,” he growled under his breath, taking a quick sip, “and he hasn't answered me yet.”
Sam's mind was still waking up, so he had a bit of difficulty understanding why Dean was so pissed. It took him a second to realize that the newspaper headline correlated with Dean's statement – more specifically, it pertained to the angels. Sam sat down at the table with his brother, and quickly read through the article. It said that most of the major cities all over the U.S had reported strange homicides during the night, all sharing similar accounts. Witnesses saw flashes of blinding white lights, police found the bodies surrounded by strange 'graffiti wings,' and a dark man in a suit came up in a least twenty reports...
“Raphael,” Sam uttered, blinking back up at Dean, “He's killing angels. Just like Cas said.”
Dean didn't meet eyes with Sam. Instead, the older brother placed a coffee and a plastic container in front of the younger; as if he was trying to distract himself. Sam could see that Cas's absence was affecting Dean. Sammy didn't want to think about it, either... but what if one of the bodies found with 'graffiti wings' had been wearing a trench coat?
“I brought pancakes,” Dean said, nudging the plastic container, “Eat.”
Sam sighed and tossed the newspaper away. He wanted to comfort Dean in some way, but he didn't know how to phrase it. There was a strong possibility that simply talking about Cas would make Dean feel even worse, and Sam didn't want that to happen. So, instead of commenting on the danger Cas might be in, Sam just copied his brother's denial and pretended that breakfast was more important. Because he knew, that if they didn't stay focused on something else, the worry would eat them alive.
“Did somebody say pancakes?”
Sam spun around in his seat, at the sound of Gabriel's voice. The archangel's messy head had popped up over the edge of the couch, and he was blinking toward the table with sleepy, excited eyes. Sam's lower stomach tensed again, at the mere sight of Gabe's familiar face. Everything that had happened the night before returned to his mind in a flash; Dickie humping the jar, Gabriel's witty comments, the Butterfinger. It was all running through Sam's head, like a pre-episode recap. Last night, on Two Men and a Dog...
“Get over here and eat, shorty,” Dean grumbled, shoving another plastic container toward a vacant seat.
Gabriel didn't have to be told twice. He made a noise of giddiness and excitement, before stumbling off the couch to race toward the table. Sam watched him come closer, feeling a strange sensation tingling in his chest. Gabriel was still only wearing the orange robe from Rufus's closet. The fabric was rather tight and thin – and it gave the whole room a clear view of Gabe's morning wood smuggled behind the cloth. On the way to the table, Gabriel looked down and saw it for himself. Sam tore his own eyes away at once; looking anywhere else, to make sure Gabriel wouldn't catch him staring at it.
“Huh. Where'd this come from?” the archangel mumbled, poking it with his finger, “I must have been dreaming about Butterfingers last night... Oh! That reminds me! Today's Butterfinger day, Sammy-boy!”
Blood rushed to Sam's face, as Gabriel stepped close to pat him on the shoulder. He was still trying to keep his eyes away from the trickster's boner-bulge. Which was pretty difficult, because the thing was right there next to him; practically shining like a beacon.
“Butterfingers?” Dean repeated, lost, “What the hell are you talking about?”
Just as Sam opened his mouth to inform Dean of Gabriel's sudden obsession with the candy, a large rustle of feathers filled the room – and Cas suddenly appeared.
The angel was standing near the couch, now, and he looked... vacant. His eyes were wide, but there was nothing in them; no feeling, no emotion. His face was very pale, too; especially in contrast to the dark splatters of blood on him. His entire outfit, and most of his hands, were covered in red liquid. He looked like a soldier who had just fought his way through enemy territory, and lost every single one of his comrades in the process. Sam's heart plummeted. Now that he thought about it, maybe that was exactly what had happened to the poor guy...
“Cas?” Dean breathed, “Are you okay?”
The angel didn't move. He just stood there, looking like a dazed survivor from 'Saving Private Ryan.' Dean carefully stood up from the table and walked over to him; putting a gentle hand on Cas's shoulder. Sam watched Cas's blue eyes finally flicker up to Dean, where he seemed to come back to himself.
“I tried...” the angel whispered, sounding like he could barely talk, “there were... so many, Dean... I tried, but I couldn't... I couldn't save them.”
“Hey,” Dean said, taking both of Cas's shoulders in his firm grip, “Listen to me. It's not your fault, okay?”
Sam could tell that Dean was trying his best to comfort Cas. None of them had any idea what Cas had been doing, or where he had been, or what he had seen. But it didn't matter. Right now, the angel was traumatized, and Dean was doing his best to ease Cas's mind. The sight of it made Sam admire his older brother even more. It was nice to see Dean being compassionate.
“But, Dean, I was there,” Cas said, his voice cracking, “I could have... I should have -”
“Stop, Cas. It's not your fault,” Dean interrupted, his tone low, “You didn't kill any of them. Raphael did.”
“What's going on?” Gabriel asked quietly, his voice housing seriousness.
Every eye blinked toward the archangel, who was glancing around with confusion. Sam picked up the newspaper and handed it to Gabriel, letting him see the article. While Gabe's golden eyes scanned the page, Dean was carefully guiding Cas toward the table; leading the angel toward a chair to sit him down. Though he still looked shaken up, Cas obeyed Dean's movements and fell into the seat.
In the meantime, Sam watched Gabriel take in the news of his fallen siblings. He assumed that Gabriel wouldn't be very affected by the situation; that the trickster didn't care about the other angels being killed by one of their own – but Sam was wrong. Gabriel looked more human than ever, as he stared down at the page. Genuine concern and emotion was prominent in his features, when he finally dropped the paper on the table.
“Asshole,” the archangel mumbled under his breath, his eyes darting toward Cas, “Using my grace to start another holocaust. Did he kill them just because they wouldn't join his stupid 'end of the world' rally?”
Everyone was looking at Cas, then; waiting to hear the story straight from the horse's mouth. The angel's blue eyes blinked up at Gabriel. He seemed to be still trying to get a hold of his thoughts.
“Yes,” Cas stated, his voice barely audible, “They refused to join his cause... and he slaughtered them because of it. I – I tried my best to keep up with him, as he tracked them all down... I tried to save as many as I could... but, he... he was too quick...”
“It's okay, Cas,” Dean repeated quietly, crouching down next to him, “At least you tried. How many angels are following him? Do you know?”
“No, Dean. He was alone last night, but it's possible that he's gained a few allies since then,” Cas answered, “Once he realized that I was tailing him, he came after me and -”
“Whoa, whoa,” Dean interrupted, his hands going up, “He came after you? Raphael tried to kill you last night, Cas?!”
Dean's cell phone rang, cutting off Cas from answering the question. Dean was staring at the angel with shock; as if he couldn't believe what he'd just heard. Sam was pretty surprised, too. Cas was the one who had suggested that they stay hidden. Why didn't he follow his own orders? Only after forcing himself to blink away, did Dean reached into his pocket and retrieve his loud phone.
“Don't move,” he snapped, giving Cas a threatening finger.
While Dean stepped away to answer the phone, Sam was left to glance between the angels. Cas had turned back into a stone; barely blinking or breathing, while he stared blankly toward the floor. Gabriel – whose bulging crotch was still glowing like a neon sign – finally sat himself down at the table and pulled a container of pancakes close. He shook his head, as he opened it and grabbed the syrup.
“All of this drama is making me hungry,” he mumbled, drowning his pancakes in the sticky liquid.
As Sam watched the archangel dig into the island of pancake amidst the lake of syrup, he took a drink from the plastic coffee cup that Dean had given him. The fluid was lukewarm and bitter, but at least it was coffee. Sam stole a glance toward Cas's bloody clothes and hands as he drank, feeling bad. Was there anything he could say, to make Cas feel better? It seemed like Dean was always able to comfort Cas better than Sam could. Why was that?
After a moment of chattering quietly into the phone, Dean made his way back toward the table. It was only ten o'clock in the morning, and he already looked exhausted. Sam, Gabriel, and Cas all watched him walk back, wondering who he'd just spoken with.
“That was Bobby,” Dean sighed, rubbing his forehead, “he said they found two more bodies near his house.”
A somber silence rested among the room for a moment, as everyone glanced toward the floor. Sam always thought that most of the angels were stuck-up jerks who only helped themselves. But now that so many of them were dying, he found that he actually felt bad. And, deep down, he knew that he was feeling this way because they were related to Gabriel and Cas. Those angels were their siblings; their family. And Raphael was killing them all, one by one...
“I have to stop this,” Cas suddenly barked, jumping up from the table.
Everyone – including Gabriel – stood up with Cas; not wanting him to go. Dean instantly took hold of the front of the angel's trench coat, preventing him from flying off.
“No, Cas! Stop and think for one damn second,” Dean said, his tone slightly begging, “Do you remember what you said to us last night?”
Cas didn't reply. He only blinked toward Dean with questioning eyes.
“You said that Raphael is trying to smite your ass, because he knows you're with us,” Dean reminded, still clinging to Cas's coat, “and he almost got to do it last night. You could be dead right now, Cas! Now, answer me this: What would happen to me and Sam, if Raphael killed you, huh? Tell me. What the hell would I do without you, Cas?”
Sam could hear that Dean's voice was on the verge of cracking, and it made him feel terrible. Dean's words were true, though. None of them would be able to take on Raphael without Cas; especially weak, little grace-less Gabriel. Cas seemed to take Dean's sentence to heart. His blue eyes lightened, his posture relaxed, and he seemed to be eying Dean with some sort of emotion. Dean took a deep breath, but didn't let go of Cas's coat.
“Now, look, I know you want to want to go back out there and save them all,” Dean said, his grip loosening slightly, “but we can't do a damn thing until we have a plan. So, we all need to sit down and figure one out. Me, you, Sam, and blondie. We're gonna work as a team, alright? No more of this 'lone cowboy' shit. Get me?”
“Yes,” Cas answered, his voice quiet.
Dean took a deep breath, before he finally released the angel's coat. Thankfully, Cas didn't go anywhere. His feet remained planted on the floor, as if Dean had cemented them there. On the other side of the table, Gabriel shifted back toward his container of pancakes – making that annoyingly obvious bulge wobble around behind the orange fabric.
“Well, I hate to break it to you, commander,” the archangel said, taking a quick bite, “but your headquarters is lacking a decent fridge. None of us will last very long without food. I'm practically dying already.”
Sam rolled his eyes. Why did Gabriel have to use the word 'dying' in every other sentence? Why did he always have to play up the dramatics? He was literally talking and eating at the same time. Dean sighed out loud, and his face seemed to fill with defeat.
“Shorty's right. We need to stock this place,” he mumbled, glancing around the cabin, “Okay. Here's the first plan; Sam and I are gonna run to town for supplies. Cas, you're gonna stay here and babysit the man-child 'til we get back. ”
“Dean, that's not a very wise plan,” Cas spoke up, his eyes housing worry.
Dean was already handing Sam a coat and reaching for the keys to the Impala. Sam, as always, followed his brother's directions. He quickly tossed on his jacket and stepped over toward the couch to find his shoes. Sam could feel Gabriel's eyes on him the whole time he got dressed; probing him with anxiousness.
“I'm pretty sure Raphael is focused on the angels right now. Sam and I should be fine,” Dean said to Cas.
“Should be?” Gabriel repeated, sounding just as apprehensive as Cas, “Those aren't good words. That means there's a chance this will end badly. I don't like those odds.”
“Look. You two are the ones that need to stay hidden right now. You,” Dean said, pointing toward Gabriel, “and number one on his hit list. And you,” he barked, his finger whipping toward Cas, “are number one on his shit list. He wants both of you dead. And Sam and I are just a couple of vessels that need to stay alive until showtime. Those odds seem pretty damn good to me.”
Sam stood up from the couch, after having put on his shoes, and turned around to see Gabriel cross his arms in disagreement. He and Cas both seemed to be against this idea. But Gabe was right; this place was completely empty. If they were going to transform this cabin into a secret lair, then they needed to stock up on supplies.
“Here,” Dean said, digging a cell phone out of his pocket to hand it to Cas, “You can stay in touch with us the whole time. It shouldn't take that long. Maybe two hours, tops.”
Though Cas's eyes were full of apprehension, he hesitantly reached out to retrieve the phone from Dean's hand.
“I want to hold it!” Gabriel exclaimed.
The archangel dashed around the table, making that stupid lump jiggle between his legs – God, why wouldn't he just go to the bathroom and get rid of that thing?! – and yanked the phone out of Cas's hand. His golden eyes flashed up at Sam, afterward; looking full of playfulness.
“Your number is in here, right kid?” he asked, his tone mischievous.
“Yeah,” Sam answered, edging toward the door with Dean, “and my computer is over there, if you... want to play on it...”
My computer is over there? Why the hell did Sam just say that? The younger Winchester could feel his own face filling up with blood again, as he glanced around with surprise. He just offered the trickster permission to play with one of his most cherished possessions while he was gone. Why? A quick smile appeared on Gabriel's face.
“Sweet,” he grinned, “Be careful out there, Sammy-boy. Oh! And, don't forget the Butterfingers!”
Sam gave a nod, as he followed Dean out of the cabin and into the morning light. A strange feeling was swirling around in Sam's stomach, when he closed the front door and walked toward the shiny Impala with his brother. Somehow, it felt good to know that Gabriel cared about his safety. And, for a reasons he couldn't explain, Sam was kind of excited about bringing Butterfingers back for the trickster.
What started out as a two hour supply run, somehow morphed into an all-day side mission.
At the beginning, the plan was to go to the nearest grocery store, pick up enough food to last a few days, and stop to fill up the gas tank on the way back to the cabin. Dean and Sam wanted to get through it as quickly as possible, so that they could get back to Cas and Gabe and start planning their strategy against Raphael. And everything was running smoothly for the first half hour. The Winchesters made it to the store and got the groceries, plus a small bag of dog food for Dickie.
But, as they were loading up the Impala, Bobby called again. And this time, he was pretty distraught. Apparently, someone – a demon, by the smell of sulfur in the air – had ransacked his house. The culprit took a large amount of his spell ingredients, a few bottles of his whiskey, and left the place a mess. Bobby took refuge in his safe chamber when he found the devastation, and called Dean and Sam for help.
Of course, they told him about all the shit going down with Raphael, Gabriel's grace, and the apocalypse. And they told him that he was more than welcome to stay at Rufus's cabin, until all of it blew over. But Bobby said that he didn't want to be 'an added burden on them.' Instead, all the old man asked for, was a ride to a friend's house; an escort to a safer place, before they tried to deal with the 'Raphael' situation. No matter how much Dean tried to convince Bobby that he wouldn't be a burden and told him to just come to the cabin, the old man wasn't having it. He said he would be happy to help them in anyway that he could, so long as he could stay with a fellow hunter. And the Winchesters didn't have the heart to deny his request.
Needless to say, Cas was pretty pissed, when Dean called to break the news to him. Dean explained that Bobby's house was only a few hours away, and that it wouldn't take long to escort the old man to a safer place, but Sam was sure that the angels were still upset about it. In fact, Sam himself was pretty upset, too. He didn't like the thought of being separated from the angels for that long. The longer the two halves of their group were apart, the less time they had to devise a plan against Raphael. But even though the trip would eat up a huge chunk of their time, the Winchesters knew they had to do it. For Bobby.
At some point during the ride to South Dakota, Gabriel started sending random texts to Sam's phone. Every so often, a message would pop up, saying, 'Don't forget the Butterfingers, kid,' or, 'Stay safe.' Sam didn't reply to any of these messages because, frankly, he didn't know how. But, after a while, they started to get strange and intriguing. One series of texts said, 'How do you use the microwave?' 'Nevermind. I got it.' 'Omg. Why is there lightening inside the box?' 'Note to self: do not put forks in the microwave.' Sam chuckled a bit at that last one, which warranted a strange glance from Dean.
By the time they got to Bobby's house, Gabriel's texts were rolling in at a nice pace. Every few minutes, Sam's phone would ding with another message. A few of his favorites, were: 'Dickie is chasing Cas right now, cuz he's trying to throw away the peanut butter jar. Drop the jar, Cassie! Drop the jar!' and, 'Is it possible to build a treehouse out of Butterfingers? We should try it,' and, 'Mooses moo while moving to the moon. Say it 5x real fast. It's fun!' Bobby and Dean didn't pay much attention to Sam, when he stifled a giggle here and there. But Sam was having a pretty good time reading all of Gabe's hilarious messages.
Bobby made Sam and Dean promise to call him, when they parted ways. The Winchesters made sure the old man was safe with the other hunter, before they started the trek back to the cabin. By the time they got to the Montana boarder, Gabriel's texts had slowed down quite a bit; probably because the sun was going down and Gabe might have been getting sleepy. The latest one said, 'I beat your highest score on the pinball game. Haha. U R such a loser,' and was followed promptly by, 'I'm just kidding, Moose. U R not a loser. Pls talk to me.'
It was at this point, that Sam realized that he hadn't replied to a single message Gabriel had sent, and he felt terrible. After stealing a glance toward Dean, Sam quickly typed a message that said, 'We just hit Montana. Got Butterfingers in trunk. See you soon,' before pressing send. He felt bad that his text wasn't funny or anything, but he hoped that it would at least make the archangel feel better, to know they were close. The reply message came almost instantly. Sam looked down at his screen to see, 'YAY! I can smell the chocolatey peanut butter now! Tell Dean to haul ass! I wanna see your big moosey face!'
Dean didn't exactly haul ass back to the cabin, but he was driving pretty fast. It was close to eleven o'clock, by the time they pulled into the driveway. The cabin windows were glowing with warm light and the sky above was full of stars. Sam was expecting to see Gabriel waiting outside for them; jumping up and down with excitement, or tapping his foot with impatience. But he wasn't. Cas was the only one who came outside to greet them when Dean shut off the Impala. Sam got out of the car and helped his brother unload some of the groceries, glancing around.
“Where's Gabriel?” he asked Cas, feeling a little worried.
“He is asleep on the couch,” Cas informed, sounding exhausted.
Dean and Cas lingered outside to talk, while Sam carried in some of the groceries. He was met at the door by Dickie, who barked quietly and pranced up and down; happy to see him. Sam smiled, as he sat the bags in the floor and knelt down to pet the dog. It was so nice to be greeted with a wet nose and a wagging tail. After saying hello to Dickie, though, Sam stood up to walk over to the couch.
Gabriel was asleep, just like Cas had said. The archangel was on his back, with golden hair all over his face and short legs crossed toward the end of the couch. His right hand was resting on his chest – where he was clinging loosely to a cell phone. Sam smiled at the sight, once again admiring how the fireplace accentuated Gabriel's petite features. It wasn't right, for a guy to look so damn beautiful. It wasn't right that Gabriel was so damn funny, either; or that his dog was so adorable, or that the sight of him could make Sam's stomach do somersaults.
It just wasn't fair, that Gabriel had weaseled his way into Sam's heart so easily.
“Annoying little prick,” Sam mumbled under his breath, trying to hold down a smile.
Although Sam wanted to see Gabriel's eyes light up, when the guy saw the pile of candy they had bought, Sam didn't want to wake him. Gabe simply looked too peaceful to be disturbed. Instead, Sam walked over to grab one of the Butterfingers from a grocery bag. He tip-toed back over to Gabriel, carefully tugged the cell phone out from under his tiny hand, and replaced it with the candy. The archangel's small fingers curled tighter around the Butterfinger, as he shifted lazily in his sleep. Sam smiled down at the sight of him clinging to the candy, knowing that Gabriel would be the happiest guy in the world when he woke up.
“See you in the morning, Gabe,” Sam whispered, as he backed away quietly.