“You mean, there's another way to get to the cage, besides the horseman's rings?!”
Sam's eyes squinted tighter shut, at the sound of his brother's loud tone. Sam was vaguely aware that he was laying on the bottom bunk, and that morning light was shining against his closed eyelids. Though his body fought to stay asleep, his mind was now wide wake; actively listening to the conversation taking place nearby.
“I thought you knew, dumbass,” Gabriel's voice sounded as sassy as ever, “Haven't you noticed by now, that daddy likes to install trapdoors and loopholes for all his creations? Even purgatory has an escape hatch, idiot.”
“Gabriel, this is vital information that we could use to our advantage,” Cas's voice intruded, swooping in with a dark tone, “Tell us how this trapdoor works.”
“It's not exactly a trapdoor, baby bird. It's more of a portal,” Gabriel's voice, again, “Well, now that I think about it, it's more of a spell, rather than an actual -”
“Just tell us how it works, dammit!” Dean nearly shouted.
Sam forced his eyes to open, as he rolled over on the tiny bed. He was too curious to ignore the conversation, now. Through blurry eyes, he could see that Dean, Cas, and Gabriel were huddled at the table behind the couch. Everyone was looking at the archangel, who was huffing in defeat and taking a bite from the candy bar in his hand.
“I don't know, okay?” Gabe seemed to admit, “You have to toss three things onto an altar, say a few words, and then bam. Instant cage portal. But I don't know what the three things are. I wasn't paying attention when Dad was giving his 'how to keep Lucifer in time-out' lesson.”
“Maybe Bobby would know,” Sam suggested out loud, as he rolled out of bed.
The minute Sam stood up, everyone in the room turned to look at him. Dean and Cas remained indifferent; acting as if he'd been standing with them the whole time. But Gabriel, on the other hand, lit up like a Christmas tree. His face brightened instantly, as if his favorite person in all the world had just arrived, and he nearly jumped out of his seat; golden eyes staring up at Sam with admiration.
“Moose! You're finally out of hibernation! Oh, check it out,” he exclaimed, holding up his candy, “The Butterfinger fairy came last night. Do you want one?”
While Gabriel held out a fresh candy bar to him, Sam couldn't stop the smile from spreading across his lips. He suddenly remembered sliding the Butterfinger under Gabe's palm the night before... and it made him realize that he was the Butterfinger fairy.
“No, thanks,” Sam grinned, shaking his head.
Gabriel's expression tightened with confusion, making Sam notice how stubble had grown on the archangel's chin and cheeks over the past few days.
“What? Really? You don't want an orgasm-inducing stick of awesomeness?” the archangel asked, bewildered, “I mean, I know that you already have one in your pants, but...”
It took Sam a second to figure out the meaning of Gabriel's sentence. At first, he thought the archangel was implying that Sam had a Butterfinger in his pocket, or hidden in his underwear... But no. The orgasm-inducing stick of awesomeness that Gabriel was talking about, was Sam's dick. A wave of surprise and embarrassment flooded Sam's system, as he casually glanced down at his own crotch. Why would the trickster say something so flattering about Sam's dick? Why would he mention Sam's dick at all? And how was Sam supposed to reply to something so vulgar? The smugness on Gabriel's face grew, the longer Sam struggled for words...
“Hey, um, could you watch my treasure hoard for a second?” the archangel asked, gesturing to the pile of Butterfingers on the table, as he scooted out of the chair, “I gotta go take another leak. These human bladders don't hold very much. Thanks, sweetheart.”
Gabriel shot Sam a wink, as he dashed toward the bathroom; making the hem of Rufus's orange robe flap against the back of his thick thighs. Sam took a quick breath and looked away from Gabe's backside, once again recalling the sight of the archangel's bare ass in his mind. He attempted to zero his focus on Dean and Cas; desperately trying to ignore the arousing memory of those pale cheeks jiggling around on the bathroom floor. The whole time Gabe and Sam were speaking, Dean and Cas had been talking to each other in hushed whispers at the table. And, by the time Gabriel left, the two of them were getting up together. Dean and Sam met eyes, and the younger brother could see guilt in the older brother's stare.
“Sammy,” Dean sighed, reaching for his coat, “you're probably gonna hate me for this, but I need you to babysit today.”
Babysit? Did that mean Sam was going to be babysitting Gabriel? All day long? Potent excitement rushed through Sam's veins at the thought. Contrary to popular belief, Sam actually liked hanging out with the trickster. Yeah, the guy could be an annoying little shit, at times. But lately, Gabe was a fun person to be around; just like the day before, when he was sending all those hilarious texts. And getting to hang out with Gabriel all day actually sounded pretty awesome.
But Sam had no intention of letting Dean know this. He didn't want Dean to think that he actually liked the trickster. So, once Dean mentioned babysitting, Sam quickly put on his best bitch face; trying very hard to act like it annoyed him, even though he was very excited on the inside.
“That... that sucks,” Sam said carefully, purposefully adding bitterness to his tone, “Why do I have to babysit him?”
“If what Gabriel says is true, then Raphael will be attempting to open a portal,” Cas answered, “and if the portal does require specific ingredients, then it is critical for us to retrieve them first, in order to stop his progress.”
“If Bobby can find out where they are, then Cas and I can pop around to get them. Which leaves you with Gabriel,” Dean explained, “I know it seems like I'm hanging you out to dry, by making you stay here with the pip-squeak, Sammy. But he's a distraction that we just can't afford right now. We're on the clock here, man. Can you do me a solid, just this once? I'll buy you some porn or something, if you want.”
Sam took a deep breath and glanced away, trying to create the illusion that it really bugged him to have to stay with Gabriel. But he was still happy on the inside. For once, Sam wouldn't have to worry about doing research, or locating ancient artifacts, or trying to read through piles of Latin lore. This time, Sam's only job was to hang out with Gabriel. And it didn't seem like a job at all.
“Fine,” Sam huffed, acting like it was killing him.
“Thanks for taking one for the team, Sam,” Dean said, patting him on the arm, “Cas and I are gonna head over to where Bobby is staying, but I'll keep in touch with you all day. Just hang around the cabin and try to keep shorty alive until we get back. And I'll bring you some porn. You still like busty blondes, right?”
Sam gulped. Gabriel was blonde...
“R – right,” Sam mumbled, feeling weird.
“You're the best,” Dean winked, “I'll keep you updated. See you, Sam.”
Sam waved a little, as Cas lowered his hand onto Dean's shoulder. The two of them disappeared in an instant, leaving Sam to stand alone in the living room. A strange feeling was still churning in his stomach, as he glanced around the empty space. Did Sam have a thing for blondes? Did he really have a preference that he never noticed before?
“Hey, fellas, we've got a situa -”
Gabriel's sentence stopped abruptly, when he entered the room to see Sam standing alone. Sam spun around, trying to shake off thoughts of sexual preference. There was some kind of empty bag in Gabe's hand, and the orange robe was hanging off of one of his shoulders. Sam's insides did a few more somersaults at the sight of blonde chest hair swirled near Gabriel's open collar bone. His golden eyes eventually found their way to Sam's, looking full of confusion.
“Where'd they go?” he asked.
Sam cleared his throat, finding it difficult to look away from Gabriel's pale, exposed shoulder. Ugh, why did he always have to be partly naked? Why couldn't he just stay completely clothed, like everybody else?!
“They left to try and find those ingredients,” Sam informed.
A smirk flashed on Gabe's pink lips, as his head shook back and forth. He suddenly resembled a teenage girl that was full of gossip.
“Those two are totally screwing each other,” he grinned.
Sam blinked strangely. Screwing each other? Did Gabriel think that Cas and Dean were a thing? The notion made Sam want to laugh out loud. Sure, Dean and Cas were pretty close, but that didn't mean that they were actually intimate with each other. Dean was too much of a 'man' to ever consider doing something like that with another dude.
“No they're not,” Sam denied, unable to believe it.
“What universe have you been living in?” Gabriel scoffed, “Our brothers are totally doing the horizontal mambo, kid. Oh!” his amber eyes flashed wide instantly, “If they're gone, does – does that mean it's just you and me?”
Sam's stomach fluttered at the sound of excitement in Gabe's voice.
“Y – yeah,” Sam nodded, feeling heat on his own face, “Um, did you say something about a situation?”
The archangel nodded and raised up the empty bag; uncrumpling it to reveal the logo on the front. It was the small bag of dog food that Sam had bought yesterday – only, now, it was completely empty. Sam stepped forward to take the crinkled bag from Gabriel, wondering how the hell it all disappeared so fast.
“Dickster ate it all,” Gabe said, his stubbly lips forming a frown, “I found him in a food-coma inside the bag, sleeping like a pig after Thanksgiving dinner.”
“This is the only one I bought,” Sam informed, tossing the empty bag on the table, “Well, I guess I could call Dean, and ask him to stop and pick up some more -”
“Whoa, what? Call Dean? Why do that when we can just go get it ourselves?” Gabriel asked.
Sam's eyes instantly narrowed. Gabriel knew damn well that leaving the cabin was risky. Raphael, or one of his goons, might see the trickster and smite him on the spot. But – oh, God – that pleading look on Gabriel's face was like magic; tugging at Sam's heart, just like it did that day at the bus station...
“Oh, come on, Sammy-boy. I've been stuck in this cabin for days! I'm a free spirit, kid. And free spirits need wide open spaces!” he exclaimed, stepping closer to pull on Sam's shirt sleeve, “Please, lil' baby moose? One trip into town is all I'm asking for. It'll be fun! A guy's day out. What do you say?”
Sam's heart was beating fast. He didn't know whether it was because Gabriel was asking for something that was virtually against the rules, or because he could feel the archangel's body heat radiating in front of him, or because the trickster's eyes were so damn golden – so damn persuasive. But, whatever the reason, Sam could feel his heart pounding away inside his ribcage like a bass drum.
“Only if you get some freakin' clothes on,” he finally breathed.
Gabriel beamed with utter excitement. He made a howl of enthusiasm and danced around in place for a few seconds – making the robe slip even farther down his tiny arm – before dashing back toward the bathroom.
“Hell yeah! I call shotgun!” he sang as he went.
After Gabriel finally got dressed – into the clothes that he'd been wearing the day they first picked him up – both he and Sam headed to town in the Impala. Of course, Gabriel was all smiles; happy and laid-back, watching the scenery fly passed his window with excited eyes. But Sam, on the other hand, had a nervous feeling that he couldn't shake off. His heart was still beating at a fast pace and his hands were getting clammy on the steering wheel. Sam wanted to chalk it up to worry. Knowing that Raphael was out there somewhere, on the hunt for Gabe, was more than enough reason to be fearful. But, as strange as it sounded, Sam knew that Raphael wasn't the only reason he was feeling so anxious.
It was also because he and Gabriel were completely alone. Sam wasn't sure why it mattered, but it did. Being alone with Gabriel was doing something to him on a physical level; making him get all sweaty, and fogging up his thoughts. Sam could only relate this type of nervousness to one other instance... and that was the feeling he had on his first date with Jessica.
“Ugh. This station sucks. Where's all the good music?” the archangel grumbled, reaching over to play with the radio.
Sam tried to pretend that Gabriel's hand wasn't so close to his own, as the Impala rolled to a stop at a red light. They had made it to town, and the convenience stores were just a few more blocks away. The man was trying to calm himself down internally, as he stared at the glowing red light hanging above the car. 'This is not a date. Stop freaking out like you're on a date,' he told himself, 'You are not gay. You don't have a crush on Gabriel. You're just feeling this way because you haven't gotten laid in over a year. Just relax.'
Sam continued to be coached by his inner monologue, when the light turned green and he pressed the gas pedal again. The Impala started rolling through town at a pretty good speed afterward, headed toward the cluster of stores just up the road. When out of nowhere -
“Stop the car!” Gabriel shouted.
Sam gasped out loud and slammed on the break; making the Impala's tires screech. He roped the steering wheel to the right, causing the car to swerve to a halt on the side of the road. Once they were stopped, Sam instantly scanned the windows; searching for a dark man in a suit.
“What?! Is it Raphael?! What happened?!” Sam asked, already reaching for an angel blade.
Gabriel's golden eyes were wide, and he was staring through the drivers' side window with his mouth dangling open. He raised his finger to point, as a smile flickered on his face.
“It's... it's a candy store,” he said, breathless.
Sam blinked a few times, before swiveling his head around to follow Gabriel's pointing finger. Just as the archangel said, there was a candy store just across the street. The big neon sign in the window read, 'Kaitlyn's Sweets and Treats.' Upon searching the goodies beyond the glass, Sam noticed that it was not just a candy store, but a toy store, too. Baby dolls and plastic dinosaurs were set in playful poses next to giant lollipops and cartons of bubblegum. Sam eyed the colorful display for a moment, wondering why the hell it was important.
“So?!” Sam blurted, spinning back around to raise an eyebrow at Gabriel.
“It's – it's a freakin' candy store, kid! And it has toys!” the archangel said, as if Sam was the one that was missing something, “Candy and toys!”
Sam was absolutely lost.
“And?” he prompted, waiting to hear a good explanation.
“Oh, come on! That's the coolest thing I've ever seen!” Gabriel said, “We've got to go in there and check it out. I'm sure there's probably a mountain of Butterfingers with a chocolate water slide or something.”
“Whoa, stop,” Sam said, grabbing Gabriel's arm to keep him from getting out, “Raphael is literally hunting you down right now. To try to kill you. And you want to go and play in a candy store?!”
“Oh, hell yes,” Gabe nodded, his golden hair tossing around, “There's bound to be a miniature train running circles around Butterfinger Mountain. Doesn't that sound fun? Come on, Sammy. Weren't you a kid once?”
Sam tried to swallow the hard blockage in his throat, before the answer fell out of his mouth.
It was the truth. Sam never got to be a real kid. He didn't know what it was like; to go into a candy store and pick out something sweet. He never got the chance to go into a toy store, either, just to play with the awesome dinosaur display in the window. He never had the courage to ask his father for a train set, or beg for candy – because he knew better. Growing up, Sam knew that money was only used for food and gasoline; not toys and candy. His father never had time to stop at candy stores, or playgrounds, or ice cream shops, or even the library. To John Winchester, hunting down the yellow-eyed demon was far more important than tossing around a football or telling bedtime stories.
Sam didn't really know what it was like to be a kid, because he had to grow up fast.
Gabriel seemed to become aware of this, too, as the two of them sat staring at each other in the Impala. His golden eyes were tracing Sam's face with a hint of sadness; as if Sam had just told him that he'd been abused or something. Silence seemed to stretch on between them for a moment – before a mischievous look came over Gabriel's face. He eased back into the seat and shrugged.
“Well, then I guess there's only one thing to do,” he purred, batting his eyelashes.
Sam's eyes narrowed. Oh, no. What was going through the trickster's mind, this time?
In a flash, Gabriel reached toward the steering wheel and ripped the keys from the ignition. Sam tried his best to catch the archangel, as Gabe slid quickly out of the car, but it was too late. Gabriel was already ducking outside and sprinting across the road with the keys in hand, not bothering to look for cars. Sam gasped and ripped the driver's side door open, watching a van come close to running the archangel over.
“Gabriel!” Sam shouted, dashing after him, “Stop!”
It was no use. Gabriel tossed a smirk back at Sam as he dove into the candy store, with the Impala keys in hand. Sam growled under his breath as he chased the trickster down. Why did Gabriel have to act like a child? Didn't he realize that this was dangerous?! Didn't he realize that Raphael could find him?! And kill him?!
Sam burst inside the candy store and instantly scanned the area for a short head of blonde hair. The sweet-scented, colorful atmosphere was pretty shocking to Sam's senses. His mouth watered at the thick smell of candy in the air, and his eyes darted around to take in the sight of all the moving toys. A catchy 90's pop song was playing in the room, too; making it difficult to hear anything but the music.
“Gabriel?” Sam asked out loud, hoping that the archangel would appear.
But, of course, Gabriel didn't come when he was called. His absence left Sam no choice but to look around the store for him. Sam sighed and dashed down the first aisle, still calling Gabriel's name as he went. Everywhere Sam looked, his eyes fell upon some kind of colorful object. Bouncy balls, action figures, jelly beans, toy robots, puzzle sets, red-rope liquorish, stuffed animals, Barbie dolls, gummy bears, matchbox cars, pirate ships, pogo sticks, lollipops – they were everywhere! Everything a kid could ever dream of was right there; surrounding Sam in a wonderland of nostalgia.
Though Sam tried very hard to stay focused on finding Gabriel, he kept getting distracted by all of the cool stuff. The next aisle over was full of glow-in-the-dark stars, superhero costumes, fake guns, and plastic swords. A few kids were there, too; playing with a set of kaleidoscopes. Sam gulped, as he picked up a little green toy soldier from a nearby bin. A strange feeling was trying to bubble up in his stomach, while the catchy song kept playing in his ears. He hated to admit it... but Gabriel was right. Being in this toy-filled, candy-coated store was pretty cool.
Sam barely heard the word, over the sound of the song playing, but he knew that voice. It was Gabriel, and he was close by. But, for a second, Sam was confused. Why did the trickster say 'Marco?' A smile carefully snaked its way across Sam's face, as he tossed the toy soldier back into the bin. He finally understood what Gabriel was trying to do.
“Polo,” Sam replied, inching his way down the aisle.
The hunter searched his surroundings, as he stalked around the store. He was still searching for Gabriel's faded jacket and blonde hair; using his stealth skills to sniff the archangel out. In the meantime, he was still taking in the colorful sight of the colossal walls of toys and candy; astounded at how many things could fit in such a small space.
“Marco,” Gabe said again, this time even closer.
“Polo,” Sam smirked, dashing toward the sound.
At some point, Sam began to lose track of of time. He forgot what he was even here for, or why he didn't want to come inside in the first place. All he knew, was that he was having the best time of his life. Sam and Gabriel were chasing each other around a toy store like a couple of five-year-olds, and he was loving every second of it. Sam couldn't remember the last time he smiled so much that his cheeks hurt, or to the last time he chased someone just for fun. But now, he could feel it. Being with the trickster – being with Gabriel – made Sam feel like a kid all over again...
“Marco,” Gabe chuckled, for the hundredth time.
The grin on Sam's face couldn't get any wider. He knew that Gabriel was just on the other side of the Barbie aisle; running toward the teddy bears. Sam dashed toward the end, hoping to cut off the trickster before he got away.
“Polo!” Sam shouted, as he jumped.
Sam nearly tackled Gabriel's tiny form; knocking him into the teddy bear display in a fit of laughter. Sam's large arms were circled around Gabe's shoulders, holding him tight to keep him from getting away, and they were both leaning into the plush toys; laughing so hard that their faces were red. Gabriel squirmed in Sam's arms, turning around to look him in the eyes. It was the sudden flash of Gabriel's golden stare that made Sam realize that they were incredibly close. Only a small sliver of space separated Sam's face from Gabriel's... and their smiles were ever so slowly slipping away... and they were both leaning forward... as if they were about to...
Sam coughed urgently and unwound his arms from around the tiny trickster; standing up straight to cover his mouth. Heat was burning on his face, as he tried to look anywhere but directly at Gabriel. He couldn't believe that they'd had such an awkwardly personal moment – and in a toy store, none the less. Gabriel seemed to be trying to shake it off, too; raking the shaggy blonde hair out of his reddened face.
“You, um, you got me,” he chuckled, holding up the keys.
Sam smiled and nodded, as he carefully took the dangling keys. He was trying to come up with something casual to say; something that would distract from the fact that they had just shared a serious – and strangely intimate – moment. But, luckily, Gabriel spoke first. He grabbed a stuffed animal from the wall behind them and held it up.
“Hey, do you think Dickie would give up the peanut butter jar for this?” he asked.
Sam finally forced his eyes to look toward the trickster, and was met with the sight of a stuffed moose. The large, fluffy antlers made another smile flash on Sam's lips. He could almost see it now; Dickie humping the poor thing furiously. Sam reached into his back pocket and retrieved his wallet, as he nodded toward the checkout.
“Let's find out,” he suggested.
Sam and Gabriel both remained casual, as they went to the checkout counter and bought the stuffed moose. The lady at the register was fighting giggles as she handed them the bag – probably because she had watched their entire game of 'Marco Polo.' Sam was glad that the smile was still resting on Gabriel's face as they wandered toward the exit, afterward. Even though they weren't running anymore, Sam's heart was still racing; still pounding with adrenaline.
“So,” Gabriel said, gently nudging Sam's side with his elbow, “how does it feel to be a kid, Sammy-boy?”
Sam grinned, as he pushed open the door and led the way outside. The two of them were on the sidewalk, now; edging their way between two cars.
“I don't know, Gabe. Why don't you tell me?” Sam said, nudging the archangel back.
Sam must have been unaware of his own strength, because when he pushed Gabriel, the archangel nearly fell. Gabe stumbled over and caught himself – on the back end of a very nice, very expensive looking Ferrari. The archangel gasped and giggled a little, as he carefully backed away from the classic car. He and Sam were both staring at it with wide eyes, admiring its smooth contours and cherry red paint.
“Oops,” Gabe chuckled, “I hope I didn't -”
Sam and Gabe's laughter instantly drew to a stop, as a large man barreled toward them. By the look on his face and way he was dressed, Sam assumed that the man was the owner of the Ferrari. Gabriel's hands went up in the air, and Sam could tell that the trickster had put on his best apologetic face.
“Sorry about that,” the archangel said, as the man stomped toward him, “Me and the kid were just -”
A fist flew through the air, faster than Sam could blink. The Ferrari man had stalked right up to Sam and Gabe and threw a punch – and it landed on the side of Gabriel's face. For a brief space of time, things seemed to be happening in slow motion. Sam watched Gabriel tumble to the sidewalk and cower with shock. His golden eyes were wide and full of actual fear. And the very sight of it caused fire ignite in Sam's chest.
Anger and adrenaline raced through Sam's veins, morphing him into the embodiment of rage. Before Sam knew it, he was throwing punches of his own; shoving the Ferrari man up against his car and beating the shit out of him. For a solid twelve seconds, Sam was blinded with protectiveness; hitting the man as if he was Raphael, instead of some random car owner. Sam didn't care whose ass he had to kick. Anyone who laid a finger on Gabriel wouldn't get away with it, as long as he was around.
“Whoa! Sammy! Stop!”
It wasn't until Sam felt a tug on his arm, that he paused to look back. Gabriel was staring at him with huge, amused eyes; trying to yank him off the Ferrari man and pull him toward the street.
“That's enough, kid. I think he learned his lesson,” Gabriel said, trying his best to hold down laughter, “We need to hit the road, now, before the cops show up.”
Sam blinked, carefully coming out of his rage-fueled stupor. Beneath him, the Ferrari man was holding his bloody nose; ranting and raving about calling the police. A wave of shock washed over Sam as he stumbled away from the mess he'd made. Holy shit! He'd just beaten the hell out of a complete stranger! Over Gabriel!
“Come on!” the archangel demanded, still tugging on Sam's arm, “Move those big hooves!”
Sam didn't object. He and Gabriel ran across the street, barely dodging traffic as the Ferrari man shouted profanities at them. Sam dove into the Impala and shoved the keys in the ignition, as Gabriel rounded the hood to jump inside. They were speeding away after that; getting lost in a group of cars heading north. Gabriel was turned backwards in the seat; staring out the back window and clinging to the stuffed moose while he laughed.
“Now that's what I call a hit and run,” he mused.
Gabriel may have been in a joyous mood, but Sam was still full of adrenaline. His hands were clamped to the steering wheel and he was blinking toward the road in a daze. He had finally forced himself come to a conclusion about his feelings. No matter how much Sam tried to convince himself that he was just going through a phase, he knew now that he wasn't. After everything that had happened – after being aroused by Gabriel's ass in the bathroom, and realizing that he liked all those weird nicknames the trickster gave him, and chasing Gabriel around a candy store, and being close enough to kiss him, and beating the shit out of a complete stranger for him – there was no way Sam could deny it anymore.
He was in love with Gabriel. And there was no way around it.