Notes, warnings and such found in Part One.
The uneasy skies delivered on their threat later that evening, and the ground was dusted with snow by the time they arrived. Dean parked the Impala behind the last of the trees and he and Sam made their way down toward the riverbank.
"Wonder what we're gonna get with this," Sam said, more to himself than to Dean.
Dean snorted and readjusted one of the two bags of salt he had slung over his shoulders. "With Gabriel? Something really fuckin' showy."
"'Bout time, boys," Gabriel said, his voice carrying easily although Sam didn't think he'd raised it. "We were feeling lonely down here."
"Fuck you," Dean said matter-of-factly. "You said an hour before sunset, yeah? I can tell time, even if you can't. So let's get this party started."
"Dean," Castiel said, and Sam watched his brother's gaze shift immediately to Castiel, like iron to a magnet. "I need you to start laying salt here, following this pattern…."
Sam set his own two bags of salt on the ground and watched, Castiel walking lines and circles that had already been cleared of snow, Dean laying down salt as directed. He took a fortifying breath and stepped over to Gabriel, who was simply watching as well and for once, not eating. Sam pulled his olive branch, disguised as a small colorful package, out of his pocket. "Twix?"
Gabriel looked at the bright foil and then at Sam, his expression something Sam might almost have called surprise. Which it might be, because Sam had never offered him candy before. "Thank you," he said slowly, and put out his hand.
Sam laid the package in it, his fingers brushing Gabriel's palm. Then he jammed both hands into his coat pockets and dragged his eyes back to his brother's and Castiel's progress. His fingertips tingled, and he slid his thumb over them, safe from view. "That's a really damn big circle."
"Big fish needs a really damn big net. Open your mouth."
"Huh?" Sam turned, lips parting, only to have a Twix bar stuck between them. "Uhm, thanks," he said after he'd rescued it and bitten off an end. Maybe his apology had been accepted, or they'd called a truce, at least. He hoped so. "So, you're doing what – supervising?"
"My part's done, for now," Gabriel said, around a mouthful of chocolate. "Castiel's always been a whiz at spell mechanics, plus he's more – in practice."
Ouch. "What did you do? And what are we fishing for, anyway?"
Gabriel pulled a face and Sam's heart dropped a little. God, he always had to ask one more question, didn't he?
But Gabriel answered him. "Oh, made up a particular little blend of seventy herbs and spices that Castiel's laying down after Dean-o salts the lines. Plus a touch of oil and a little extra polish of my own."
Sam half-smiled. "What, the archangel special?"
Gabriel shrugged. "A smidge of angel, a dash of pagan. Insurance never hurts."
Insurance? "Gabriel…what is this thing?"
Gabriel's eyes narrowed, still staring down at Dean and Castiel. "Something old, something new, something borrowed…. Something big enough to take no chances with. One dance through your head was enough." A sudden, mocking smile. "Unless of course I'm invited back, but you'll have to get better party favors."
"Yeah, about that." Shit, how did he say this? "The whole thing…it shook some stuff loose, and I said –"
"Sam, stop." Gabriel's voice was low and even and Sam couldn't read it at all. "Don't. Two things that you humans never mean: the stuff you say when you're coming or you're dying, or when you think you're dying. The whole death-bed confessions thing? Is a myth, trust me."
Okay, you know what? No. Enough. Man the fuck up, Samuel. "That's just it – it wasn't, it's not. A myth, I mean."
Gabriel went utterly still.
"Or mine wasn't, anyway. I meant every damn word of it, and I'm – sorry if that makes you uncomfortable and I won't say another word about it." Sam took a deep breath, and looked down at his boots. "But there should be one person in my life besides Dean who I'm not lying to. About shit that really matters."
Sam set his jaw and looked up. Gabriel was staring at him, mouth open, looking like somebody'd just slammed him in the back of a head with a –
"Hey, guys! Sam! Now that we've done most of the hard work, you and the Candyman wanna get your asses in gear so we can finish this thing and light it up?"
Gabriel blinked, and blinked again. "Candyman? Really?" he said, still looking at Sam. "Is that all the better he can do?"
The indignant tone was just too much. Sam snickered, then put his head down and laughed out loud.
"Dean, you will hold the north point, and Sam, the south," Castiel said. "I will hold the east."
"Aaand I'll take the west, then. Big shocker there," Gabriel said as he strolled past Sam and stopped at the west edge of the circle, hands in his pockets and legs apart, his weight set.
Balanced and ready. It was – kinda hot.
The summoning circle looked like a devil's trap but not, with additions Sam had no clue about.
"Don't move from the points before the summoning completes, and not after that, either, if you can help it." Castiel walked around the perimeter of the circle, inspecting the lines of salt and "special mix," looking for flaws probably only he could see. The angel's dark hair blended with the coming night, leaving the patch of shirt and swirl of coat. "The power must remain balanced for the trap to work as it should."
"We move, it makes weak spots, I'm guessing?" Dean said.
"Correct." Castiel graced him with an honest-to-God smile, and Dean's whole face shifted.
Sam huffed softly. God, he wished they'd just admit the big gay love already and get on with things. Dean was so gone it wasn't funny, and Cas – Sam was pretty sure Cas was too. Or as much as an angel could be. His gaze slid, unbidden, to find Gabriel.
Who was watching their brothers with a soft look, until he seemed to feel Sam's gaze and looked dead back at Sam, amber eyes zeroing in, intent in the last of the fading light.
Sam's mouth went dry.
"Ready, bro," Gabriel said, still looking at Sam. "Fire it up. And remember, kids, don't leave your corners 'till the time-out's finished."
Sam pulled a face at him because really, he got the message already.
Castiel's voice rose from Sam's right side, chanting in what might be Enochian but sounded even weirder. Sam listened hard as it went on, trying to catch it but there were words, sounds that dipped and rose almost out of range. Not high or low, but sideways, like things not coming from a human throat. Things that a human couldn't pronounce.
Another voice joined in and Sam looked left to see Gabriel's mouth moving now, hands out of his pockets as he spoke, and the sounds buzzed and hovered like things alive, and the air in the circle was thickening, thickening, a smoky swirl like some distant grave-fire, a whiff of something metallic –
Freezing bitter cold that stops Sam's heart in his chest and he's underwater, he's freezing, he's dying and he can't move, no more than a weak thrash and he's alone, nothing but ice and ghost lights below him and no angel beside him this time he'd never get to tell Gabriel, Gabriel, GABRIEL –
A punch to his chest the last of his air gone –
Falling. The landing jarring him hard, stealing his breath and stinging his hands, cold and wet against his skin –
Sam gasped in air and blinked as the world came back into focus, sharp and cold. Or not sharp, because the fire was in the way – the fuck?
His brother's panicked voice penetrated and Sam found his own. "Yeah, Dean, I'm good." He shook his head hard and rolled to his knees, staring –
"Don't move out of the fire circle, Sam." Castiel said from Sam's right. "It's all that's protecting you."
Protecting him from what, Sam didn't have to ask.
Gray and shifting and really fucking damn big it was, writhing in the middle of the summoning circle. What might be wings shifted and kind of – flowed, and Sam squinted. It was like trying to look at something made of smoke and mirrors, like it didn't quite exist in this plane and yet it did, Sam felt the presence pouring off it like liquid tar and a threatening storm, pressing in around the fire circle. Like waiting for a bomb to explode, and Castiel had a hand on Dean who had moved from his spot, who was where he shouldn't be, the angel holding him back but Gabriel, where was – "Gabriel!"
Gabriel stood calmly to Sam's left, braced and ramrod straight, his right hand reached out in Sam's direction. He was staring up at the thing they'd summoned, looking about as concerned as if contemplating a calm walk on a spring day.
"Stay put, Sam." Gabriel's voice was eerily calm. "And you might want to cover your ears."
The screeching leaked around Sam's palms and sent an actual shudder down his spine, like the universe's worst case of nails on a blackboard. Hideous and loud; no wonder the witnesses back in the 1960s had described the sound as awful. But familiar too, queasily so, and Sam grimaced, trying to place –
Gabriel opened his mouth.
The archangel's voice boomed around the clearing, and Sam was vaguely surprised the distant trees weren't bending with the force of it. Enochian again, maybe, he could maybe make out some few words in the din, but like before they twisted in his head, syllables he couldn't, wasn't, shouldn't be capable of hearing –
Another screech from the thing, louder still, and Sam saw Dean wince and actually stagger, hands shoved hard against his ears, held upright by Castiel's grip on his arm. Sam squinted and then took a helpless step backward, heart racing as the thing seemed to grow, wings flaring up and out, mantling wide and curving at the tips where they hit the walls of the circle, the form at the center coalescing into something almost human, glowing from dark to a steel-like shine, light fouled a sick green-gray like a tornadic storm –
"Really?" Gabriel's voice was rock-steady. Mocking. Dangerous as a coiled snake as he simply stood there looking up at it, unmoving. "You really want to have a big dick contest? With me?"
"Close your eyes, kids," Gabriel said. "It's about to get bright."
Sam could never say for sure afterword exactly what he saw then, if he saw, or if it was just his human brain trying to make sense of the unknowable. Giant wings erupted from the air around Gabriel, filling the clearing with near-blinding light, copper-gold-white, like looking into the sun. Impressions of feathers constructed of lighting and glory, a sonic-boom of power literally shaking the ground as something that didn't, shouldn't, could not exist on this plane suddenly, irrefutably did. And in the center of it all, a glimpse of Gabriel, a tiny taste of the enormity barely contained within a thin human envelope.
Sound and light ramping up to scream like the world ending, so loud Sam couldn't breath for the pressure on his chest –
Sam gasped in air and blinked madly. The only sounds now were Dean's breath and his own, the only light that of the fire circle as it burned lower. "Gabriel?"
The archangel stood precisely where he'd been, gaze fixed on the now scorched and blasted circle of earth where the summoning circle had been. "All gone," he said in a slow, lilting sing-song, but his voice was rough.
"What the everlovin' fuck was that?" Dean demanded hoarsely, coming up as close to Sam as the dying fire circle allowed.
"That," Castiel said quietly, "was a fallen angel."
"So," Dean said after they'd gotten back on the road. The Impala's heater was just starting to pump out warm air and Sam was pathetically grateful for it. "How the hell does an angel wind up tied to a bridge in bumfuck West Virginia?"
Castiel made a noise that had it come from anybody else, Sam would have called it a sigh. "You're familiar with the stories of the Grigori?"
"From Enoch? Sure." Dean shrugged, but Sam craned around to stare at the angel – the only angel – in the back seat.
"That was a Watcher? But I thought they all fell, like all the way down."
"A demon, then," Dean said, eyeing Castiel in the rearview mirror.
"No," Castiel said, meeting Dean's gaze. "Enoch got a lot of it right, but there were things he was directed to – obscure. There wasn't a – blanket punishment, as you might say, for all the Watchers. The Lord is fierce but just, always. The punishments were made according to the crimes."
There was silence for a minute. Sam caught Dean's eye for a moment, then looked back at Castiel. "So what did that guy do?"
Castiel's gaze shifted to whatever fascinating thing there was to be seen out the Impala's windshield. "Nahaliel – appreciated this world, this earth, too much. More than our Father intended. Enough that even though he had no interest in binding with the daughters of men, as did so many of the Grigori, he nonetheless stayed as they did. It was in his own interest that none of them be caught."
"So – Watcher for the Watchers, huh?" A corner of Dean's mouth cranked up. "Bet that didn't work real well."
"In the end, it did not," Castiel agreed. "As he had so enjoyed the world and didn't wish to leave it, God decided that he would not. Nahaliel was stripped of grace and bound into the fabric of earth, cut off from Heaven and Host, forever to feel the echoes of God's grace in Creation but never again to touch it. A captive of his own desire."
Sam's brow wrinkled. "So he's been bound to the land all this time?"
Castiel nodded. "Bound and mute, losing himself in the fabric of earth and water…."
"Until they built the Silver Bridge, summoned supernatural protection for it…." Sam said.
"And got a grounded angel," Dean finished.
Castiel nodded again. "It seems that the bridge gave Nahaliel something of coherence again, something to – reform himself around. A fixed point."
"So when the bridge started to fail, of course he didn't want to lose his anchor," Sam mused. "Enter the Mothman. It makes sense."
"Yeah, well," and Sam's chest tightened because here it came, "what doesn't make sense to me is – why Sam?" Dean asked. "We were both asleep, so why him and not me?"
"Because the gate in his fence was wide open and the guard dog was sleeping."
That the car only jerked a little bespoke just how much Dean was getting used to random angels popping in. "The hell'd you just say?" he snapped, glaring at the sudden Gabriel in the rearview mirror.
"Because he's more open to shit like that, obviously," Gabriel snapped back.
Dean's mouth thinned. "Because of the demon blood."
"Because he's him, you moron! You think Azazel didn't know exactly what the fuck he was doing when he picked your brother? Three drops of infernal plasma didn't turn Sam gifted, it just kinked up what was already there!"
Sam's breath caught.
"We need to chat, Sam. Now," Gabriel said, and snapped his fingers.
Okay, Sam was getting used to being yanked through reality, but going from sitting at 45mph to sitting dead still on an overstuffed sofa in what looked like somebody's expensive "rustic" cabin, complete with roaring fire? "Gabriel, what the hell?"
Gabriel was perched sideways on the other end of the couch, posture stiff and gaze intent. "Did you mean it, Sam?"
Mean what? "Gabriel –"
"What you said, at the circle. Did you mean it?"
Realization flushed Sam cold and then fiery hot, sparking the adrenalin left over from the ritual and running it in a shuddering rush up his spine. "Yes." He took a breath. "Yes, I meant it. I want you."
Gabriel's eyes were molten. "You shouldn't," he said nakedly.
And that, weirdly, sealed the deal. "I know," Sam said, nodding, and reached for him.
Gabriel met him halfway.
"So, why was it me?"' Sam asked, much later. "Okay, apparently I'm susceptible but that can't have happened to every sensitive to come through the area, the death records just aren't there."
Gabriel made a face around the strawberry he'd just popped into his mouth. "Wrong place, wrong time, wrong brain. You just happened to be in the way."
Sam narrowed his eyes, because yes – and no. "And?"
Gabriel looked at him, then huffed and rolled his eyes, and sank back down next to Sam on the obscene pile of pillows at the head of the bed. "And – you were in the way."
Fences. Gates? Fallen angels and guard dogs –
Sam dug his elbow into the pillow mountain and hitched himself up with a jerk. "It wasn't me at all that first time, was it? It was you."
Gabriel closed his eyes.
"You've been riding my dreams. But something happened that night, didn't it; you did something different, and it caught you with your pants down and trapped you in my head – I was just the medium, wasn't I?" Sam didn't know what he was feeling. "It was after you."
Gabriel was still for a minute, then the bowl on his chest rose and fell again as he sighed. "I meant exactly what I said, Sam. You're a wide open, beautiful field with barely one rickety-ass fence around it. I've been making sure that nothing gets close enough to plant any weeds, that's all."
"So you've been shielding my dreams. Why?"
Amber eyes snapped open and Gabriel glared at him. "You are not seriously asking me this now?" He waved a hand that took in the room, the bed, their own very naked selves.
Yeah, okay, dumb question. Sam's ire faded a bit. He leaned in and offered a kiss in apology, startling a little as Gabriel bit his lower lip hard and then soothed it with his tongue. "Idiot."
Sam kissed him some more, then pulled slowly away, pilfering a strawberry on the way. "Why was it after you?"
Gabriel's expression shifted from irked to a kind of distant, ancient sadness. "Because I was the one who delivered Dad's punishment." He pursed his mouth. "What you saw there wasn't really Nahaliel, or wasn't much of him, anyway. The echo of a remnant, just enough to recognize me and hurt you because of it."
Sam's eyebrows wrinkled. "How did he recognize you at all? Your whole witness protection thing –"
"Doesn't work as well if I'm – relaxed. And your brain is pretty damned comfortable."
That was possibly the weirdest, most awesome compliment Sam had ever gotten.
He stole another strawberry and then scooted closer, moving the bowl onto the mattress and spreading his fingers into the soft hair on Gabriel's chest. "So I dreamed, and you were asleep at the wheel – or in the shotgun seat, anyway – "
Gabriel's mouth quirked.
"And that let him hijack me and trap you in for the ride. Pretty powerful dream."
"That much human trauma in a tight little space, backed up with even a trickle of grace? Makes a pretty powerful package."
"And if you hadn't been able to wake me up?"
Gabriel didn't say a word, but his hand came up to cover Sam's where it lay against his chest.
Something in Sam went ugly and cold. He had been just freezing, shivering, when he woke up, but he'd also been dry and in bed, exactly where he'd gone to sleep.
Gabriel had appeared completely soaking wet.
Sam tangled their fingers together and squeezed. Gabriel squeezed back.
"Why," Sam asked after a minute or two, when he was sure his voice would hold, "didn't you just tell us what we were up against?"
Gabriel shrugged. "And have the humans flip their shit when they realize the angels are basically going to use the baby brother for bait to trap one of their own? That would have gone over well."
But Sam had his number now, and it went a long way toward settling his own irritation at being manipulated yet again. "Dean's going to be more pissed that you used us again, you and Cas both. But I was never really in danger, was I, in that holy oil circle you set up and hid? You were the real bait, Gabriel, not me. I was just icing."
Gabriel moved, and then Sam was on his back with an archangel across his chest, golden eyes glowing with a thousand things unsaid. "But the icing's my most favorite part, Sambo," Gabriel said, his voice laced with something that thrummed in Sam's bones. He kissed Sam hard, fingers tangling into Sam's hair. His mouth still tasted like chocolate and cognac, and a faint, human tang of salt. "My most favorite part. And I don't share."
Information on the tragedy of the Silver Bridge collapse and the Mothman sightings can be found here: