A/N: I'm a day late and a dollar short with this one, but... This was written for Sabrielation on Tumblr. Day 3's prompt was to capture Gabriel's Trickster side. Thus, this ficlet was born.
Sam was no stranger when it came to the Trickster. He knew all about the cheap jokes, subtle flirtations, and corny puns. He knew all about the ironic deaths and the cruel lessons. He'd experienced the Trickster's wiles firsthand, after all. He thought he knew all about the Trickster. Oh, how he was wrong. So very wrong.
Gabriel was one thing. Gabriel was an Archangel in every sense of the word. Righteous. Arrogant. Way too much power at his fingertips. But Gabriel also had soulful eyes that refused to meet others when he was ashamed or upset. Gabriel was afraid, almost fragile, and a coward. Not that there was anything wrong with that. Sam could relate. But, it was because of that-that human quality of Gabriel-that Sam often forgot the Trickster lurked just underneath.
Sure. He'd remember Mystery Spot. Whenever he did, he'd despise Gabriel. Curse him. Question him. But, the Trickster's own words would resound in his head. "Dean's your weakness. And the bad guys know it, too. It's gonna be the death of you, Sam."
And, then, Sam would just feel ashamed. His anger would turn inward. Because the guy had been right. Sam had spent six months chasing that bastard down. He'd been willing to do anything just to summon the Trickster. Even if that meant killing an innocent person. Sam had been shown what he was capable of, warned not to go down that road…and he'd done it anyway. After those thoughts, Sam couldn't find it in him to hate Gabriel. Hell, maybe he even deserved to be the butt of every joke in the Trickster's TV Land.
Sam thought about that a lot. The Trickster versus Gabriel. Which one he was willing to forgive. How much he was willing to forgive.
Before he could figure his feelings out, Gabriel died. Just like that. Sacrificed himself to keep Lucifer from taking them-taking Sam. The only thing left to remember him by was a cheesy porn video even Dean wouldn't watch. A cheesy porn video and the words, "Oh, please! Stop sobbing. It's embarrassing for all of us."
Those words haunted Sam. Because they were Gabriel's way of telling the Winchesters he knew how much they didn't care. Not about him; not about the length he was willing to go to for them and all of humanity. He was just another victim of their curse, nothing more. The younger brother that tried to do what Sam or Dean could never if placed in his shoes.
Time passed. Sam forgot all about the Trickster. He forgot all about Gabriel and the inner turmoil he used to bring. The Archangel's memory was as dead as he was.
Until, one day, he wasn't.
Just like that.
Sam didn't know how or why. He hypothesized that, maybe, when Metatron flipped the switch in Heaven, he jarred something loose. Something that respawned the Archangel. Or, perhaps, Metatron himself had resurrected Gabriel because he wanted an Archangel as his pawn. Someone he thought would listen to his schemes of false redemption.
Sam would have asked if he hadn't been choking on his own blood.
He'd been stupid. Stubborn, more like. Dean was focused on Abaddon and whatever dumb thing he had going on with Crowley. So, when Castiel'd called him, told him he had a lead on Gadreel, Sam took off from the Bunker. He went straight to the address Castiel had given him, instead of swinging by to pick up the fallen angel. He hadn't wanted Cas involved. His hands were the one's that had killed Kevin, not Cas'. He should be the one to confront the angel that had ridden him for far too long and against his will.
But, Gadreel wasn't willing to listen to reason. Gadreel had come too far and done too much to give a damn what his second Vessel had to say. So what if Metatron was using him? So what if the angels would never forgive him? He'd make them see. He'd make Metatron keep his end of the bargain, or else. As for Sam? Well, he'd made the first offensive move, so…
Sam wound up thrown into a wall. He was used to that, really. A favorite trick of demons and angels alike. But, he hadn't pass out this time. He'd struggled to his feet and launched himself towards Gadreel, driven by blind rage and survival instinct.
The angel had hardly stumbled at all. He teased Sam about it. Oh, how the tables had turned now that they weren't in Sam's mind. Now that the laws of physics applied and Sam's body could be injured.
Gadreel'd grabbed him by his throat, again, and squeezed. Only, this time, Sam felt it. He felt when his trachea ruptured. He felt the air bubble under his skin as it failed to reach his lungs. He felt the blood well up in his throat.
He had desperately tried to push Gadreel away from him. He'd clawed at him, he'd slapped, and he'd kicked. But Gadreel had been immovable. The more Sam'd fought, the more damage he had done to himself. He hurt, his strength was failing him, and, so, he had done the only thing he could think to do.
Sam had prayed. Not to anyone in particular. He'd just sent out a distress call, of sorts. To anyone who would get Gadreel away from him. To anyone that would help him. In hindsight, that was a pretty dumb thing to do. No angels had their wings. They wouldn't have been able to zap in and rescue him. Cas wouldn't have been able to zap in and rescue him.
Even so, one second Gadreel was leering at him and the next the angel was flying across the room. Sam had dropped to the floor unceremoniously. He hadn't the will nor the strength to pick himself up. He'd just lain there as his eyes focused on the brown shoes and blue jeans of his savior.
His savior who appeared to be a dead Archangel. Who was a dead Archangel. Only, not dead anymore. Unless Sam was hallucinating. But, if Sam was hallucinating then Gadreel would still have his hand around Sam's throat; he wouldn't be picking himself up off the coffee table in the living room.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Gabriel's voice pierced through the pounding of his heartbeat in his ears. "I thought you'd said, 'Gabriel,' and not, 'villainous asshole who's overstepped his boundaries.'"
"Gabriel," Gadreel said, caution laced through his tone. "Brother."
Sam was clawing for the Archangel. He couldn't breathe, dammit! Would it kill Gabriel to turn around for a second and heal him? He tried to say the other's name, but all that came out was a wet wheeze and a cough.
"Ha!" Gabriel shouted. "Oh, no, buddy boy. That whole 'brother' thing? That's not going to work on me. I'm not a Winchester."
Sam managed a whine. The Archangel finally looked over his shoulder at him. His gaze hardened, his lips pulling down into a frown. Sam had seen that look before. Once upon a time, in a warehouse with firelight dancing upon his features. Sam felt chilled. For a moment, he feared Gabriel was angry with him. That Gabriel wouldn't help him-just leave him there to die, slowly and painfully.
Then, Gabriel was walking towards him. Sam reached out for him, thankful when he felt the other's hand wrap around his forearm. The familiar feeling of Grace spread down his arm and to his throat. He felt slight discomfort as his trachea knitted itself back together, and then, he was fine. He gasped, relieved he could finally breathe.
Sam expected Gabriel to haul him up. Instead, as he began to lean forward, he found out that gravity had other ideas. His back thumped loudly against the tile beneath him and he was momentarily winded. Sam gave Gabriel a questioning look. The Archangel merely glared down at him, pulling his hand away from Sam's arm to point at him.
"Stay," Gabriel growled.
Sam's brow knitted with confusion.
He flinched as the Archangel flung his arm out. Gadreel collided against the wall with enough force to dent it, cracks spreading across the plaster like lightning. The fallen angel grunted in pain, his jaw clenched in anger as he glared at Gabriel.
"I'm not done with you, Gadreel," Gabriel said as he tilted his head to stare coldly at the other.
The Archangel stepped away from Sam, left him to lie there, struggling against the supernatural force holding him in place. He didn't know what to expect. He didn't know whose side Gabriel was on. All he knew was that the Archangel was serious. Serious? Gabriel? That was never a good sign. Sam really didn't want to stick around for whatever he had planned.
"Are you going to kill me, brother?" Gadreel baited. "Are you going to punish me for hurting Sam? That was what you did, was it not? Became a Trickster to settle scores with those who hurt others. I was in Sam's head; I know what you have done." Gadreel smirked, "And you call yourself an angel."
Gabriel rolled his shoulders, "I am what I am. But, what about you, Gadreel? Hmm? Do you think yourself sinless?"
"I did not do what they said I had done!" Gadreel roared, squirming against Gabriel's hold. "I was innocent!"
Gabriel laughed. Threw his head back and laughed at his 'brother.' It terrified Sam. Gabriel had never laughed. Gabriel would scoff; Gabriel would bite with sarcasm and taunts. It was the Trickster that laughed. It was the Trickster that smiled pleasantly while holding a knife behind his back.
Sam could see it now. What the Trickster really was. He was Gabriel's wrath. As if Gabriel had separated it from himself and used it as both shield and weapon. When Gabriel was Gabriel, everything was fine. When the Trickster came out to play…
"You were innocent," Gabriel grinned. "You're not anymore."
"Neither are you," Gadreel hissed.
"Nope. But I paid my price. Now, it's your turn."
"Gabriel," Sam spoke, trying to distract the Archangel.
He agreed that Gadreel should pay. He felt some sort of vengeance should be dealt upon the angel for Kevin and for anyone else he'd hurt in Metatron's crazy crusade. Yet, the Trickster didn't know anything about self-control. The Trickster thought in absolutes. He was judge, jury, and executioner. He would tear into Gadreel until the fallen angel was no more.
No one could learn their lesson if they were dead.
Gabriel didn't hear him. Or, he simply didn't care. The Archangel strode toward Gadreel, the angel glaring at him with trepidation as he hovered against the wall. The smile never left Gabriel's face.
"Whatever you do to me," Gadreel began, "will be nothing compared to what I have already endured."
"Aw," Gabriel cooed as he looked up at the other. "Poor baby."
"Metatron will come for me. You risk his wrath, Gabriel. Do not do this."
Sam jerked back as much as Gabriel's hold would allow, his eyes widening, as the Archangel jerked Gadreel down to his level and plunged his hand into the fallen angel's abdomen. Gadreel cried out, grabbing at Gabriel much the same way Sam had done to him earlier. But Gabriel was like stone, Gadreel's blood trailing down Gabriel's arm and staining the front of Gadreel's shirt and jeans. The Archangel-no, the Trickster-refused to break eye contact with him.
"That's what I'm planning on, bucko."
Without warning, Gabriel began to glow. Sam squinted at the sight. The light traveled into Gadreel. It spread throughout him, causing him to scream. Not just a man's yell but an angel's. His true voice causing the windows to shatter, the plates and glasses in the cabinets, the light bulbs and the knick-knacks.
The only things that didn't bust, miraculously, were Sam's eardrums. Perhaps it was because Gadreel had once used him as a Vessel, but he could hear the fallen angel's voice. The scream that was actually more of a roar. A wounded animal crying out in pain and rage and fear.
The ground started to shake the longer Gabriel kept up his assault-the longer Gadreel screamed. Angels weren't meant to be in that much pain. Not in the physical realm. They could probably tear the area asunder with their voices.
"Gabriel!" Sam yelled, trying to make his voice heard.
"How does it feel, hmm?" He heard Gabriel ask, the Trickster's voice echoing with power. "Feels like you're on fire, doesn't it? Like your very Grace is turning on you. Eating away at you. I bet that's what Abner felt when you slit his throat. I know that's how he felt. So, scream away, little Susie. No one cares."
"Gabriel!" Sam shouted again, his throat actually becoming sore with how loud he was trying to be. "Gabriel, there are people around here! The Vessel!"
Before he could see if his words had any effect on the Trickster, the sound of flapping wings drew his attention. Metatron stood in the archway between the other angels and Sam. He didn't even seem to be in a hurry.
"Gabriel," he demanded, "drop him."
Gadreel's screams ceased as the Trickster obeyed, yanking his arm out of the fallen angel with a disgusting squelch. Gadreel wavered, about to collapse, before Gabriel snapped his fingers and the other disappeared. Metatron rolled his eyes and groaned.
"Why did you do that?" He asked.
He sounded bored, which surprised Sam. Did he not care about Gadreel? At all? Sure, Metatron was a dick, but even that was harsh for a dick.
"Now, I'm going to have to hunt him down and fix his boo-boos. You're making things far too difficult for me, Gabriel."
The Trickster waved his arm once, Gadreel's blood disappearing instantly. Then he faced Metatron, smile back in place. That terrifying smile. A Cheshire Cat grin that made Sam wonder if the Scribe knew what he was dealing with.
"Ah, don't worry about him, douche bag. I have him tucked away in a nice little corner where he can't hurt anyone ever again. I would say, 'Looks like you gotta find yourself another little pawn,' but… You're gonna be removed from the board soon enough."
Metatron looked impressed, "Really? How, pray tell, do you plan to dethrone me, then, Gabriel? Even if you have your wings, you can't get into Heaven. I've locked you out."
Gabriel barked a laugh and placed his palm to his chest, "Oh, I'm not gonna be the one to do it. I may be the one to deep fry your wings extra crispy after the fact, but I'm not the army. No, I think the army should be the entire Host. Our wayward siblings you cast out. Y'see, they didn't do anything to you, Metatron. Naomi and my bros? Yeah. Yeah, I wouldn't be so pissed if you'd punished them and left it at that. But, nooo. You took out everyone. Tsk tsk."
Metatron chuckled once, "Well, if you think you can bring their forces together and stop them from killing each other over petty squabbles, then, by all means, knock yourself out. Just so long as you remember that I hold all the keys to the Kingdom and you're running on borrowed time. Farewell, Gabriel."
Metatron was gone just a quickly as he'd come, leaving Gabriel staring blankly at where the Scribe had once stood. The smile slowly fell from his face. When he finally looked down at Sam, he wasn't the Trickster anymore. He was back to being the Archangel. The one that seemed too old and too tired for the shit he had to put up with.
Sam felt himself be freed. He quickly picked himself off the floor. Dusting his britches off, he eyed Gabriel warily. The Archangel shrugged at him.
"You rang?" Gabriel asked nonchalantly.
"I didn't think anyone would answer," Sam mumbled in return. "Let alone show up."
Gabriel snorted, looking away, "Ye of little faith."
"What are you doing here, Gabriel?"
"Saving your ass. What's it look like?"
"I meant alive."
"Aw, Sammy. That's harsh." Gabriel pouted, "I thought you liked me."
Sam let out a disbelieving puff of air.
"Yeah. Right. The guy who-. You know what? Never mind that." He steeled his nerves and questioned, "What was that about? Just now? The whole…Trickster thing. You didn't have to do that. You could have just yanked him off of me and flown us out of here. Why did you torture him? I never knew you to be the torturing type."
Gabriel stared into him. Not at him, into him. It unnerved Sam. It'd always unnerved Sam. As if the Archangel could look straight at his soul and see everything he was thinking, everything he'd ever thought, and everything he had yet to think.
"You didn't really know me, Sam," Gabriel replied.
"Just…answer the question. Please. Followed by what you did with him."
"He hurt you, Sam."
"He. Hurt. You," Gabriel stressed. He walked closer to Sam as he continued, "And I don't just mean physically. He violated your trust and your body in ways that even my darling brother Lucifer would have never dreamed of. He used you to do terrible crimes. He smote that poor boy; he sliced the throat of an angel that loved him. As far as I'm concerned, setting his Grace on overdrive for a minute is far less than he deserves."
Sam's breathing was speeding up as he stared down at the Archangel.
"How do you know all that?" He demanded.
"I know a lot of things, Sam," Gabriel breathed. "I always have. Perks of being the Messenger, I suppose. Don't worry about Gadreel's Vessel. I won't harm him. He won't be needed where I've sent the angel."
Sam looked down at the floor, his eyes darting to-and-fro as his mind raced. He didn't understand. He didn't understand anything. Why did Gabriel care what happened to him? Why was Gabriel willing to treat the poor man Gadreel was possessing like the human being he was? Other angels didn't care about meat suits. Was it because he'd heard Sam's plea after all? If that were the case, why did Gabriel care what Sam wanted?
"Sam," Gabriel began gently, drawing his gaze back to golden eyes. "I am here because you needed me. I will remain here for as long as you need me. What Metatron said about being on borrowed time? …That's why."
"What-what does that mean? That you're-you're bound to me, or something?"
Gabriel shrugged, small smirk quirking his lips, "Or something. I know how that Cro-Magnon skull of yours works, kiddo. It's not a burden for me, so don't guilt trip yourself over it. In fact, it's kinda refreshing. I mean, hey, I'm alive because the youngest Winchester needed a guardian. Can't complain there."
Sam's mouth worked as he tried to think of something to say. Gabriel's smirk just grew at he watched his confusion. The Archangel rolled his eyes good-naturedly.
"Just take the compliment, kid. Dad's got a soft spot for ya. Now, we have work to do. Is that hunk-o'-junk outside yours or something you stole?"
"S-stole. I don't-."
Before he could finish his sentence, Gabriel's hand was placed firmly on his shoulder and they flew. Sam had not missed the jerking sensation behind his navel that came with flight. Suddenly, he was staring at a very confused Cas. The squinty frown directed towards him traveled to Gabriel. Cas' eyes widened.
"Gabriel?" He breathed.
Nothing else made it out of his friend's mouth. Gabriel clapped his other hand on Cas' shoulder and poof! Next thing Sam knew they were standing outside the Bunker.
"How did you know where this was?" Sam questioned.
At the same time, Castiel demanded, "How are you alive?"
"Christ. 20 Questions already? Come on, guys, I just got here. You should show me around. Do you have any spare rooms? If not, I can so bunk with Sam. I don't mind."
"No!" Sam squawked.
"You don't have any rooms? Hey!" Gabriel grinned. "We'll have an awesome time, kiddo. Plus, I don't snore."
"'No,' as in, 'You are not sleeping with me!'" he exclaimed.
"Will someone please tell me what is going on!" Castiel snapped, drawing their attention.
The Archangel sighed dramatically. "Fine. But in the Bunker. Don't know who's listenin'."
Cas glared at his brother. Taking a calming a breath, the fallen angel reached into his pocket and pulled out the Bunker's key. Gabriel looked over his shoulder to grin back at Sam.
"Ya sure ya don't want be roomies?"