Title: One Absence of Truth
Pairings or Characters: Sam/Gabriel Pre slash, hints of Sam/Dean if you squint.
Length: Roughly 9600 words.
Warnings: None…? Spoilers, maybe.
Spoilers: General Spoilers for season five.
Summary: Four times Sam encounters Gabriel and one time he doesn't.
Author’s Notes: First of all, there should be like an award given out to lunabee34 for her awesome beta’ing skills. I hadn’t realized how rusty and craptastic I was until I opened my beta’d fic to a sea of red. Kudos to you, Sweetie, and thank you!
Author’s Note 2: Okay so this fic happened when the Gabriel muse
Author’s Note 3: Title is from the song “In This Hole” by Cat Power.
Sam was hiding; okay, well, he wasn’t really hiding so much as avoiding other people. South Greensboro Elementary was the third school Sam had attended this year, the third place he'd started fourth grade, and he was kind of tired of dealing with people.
The first school Sam had gone to had been alright. It was near the outskirts of Philadelphia, and he had fit in. Starting when everyone else did, he made a couple of friends, but the Winchesters had only stayed in town for a month. While the other kids were dressing in their Halloween costumes, Sam was riding through Ohio on his way west.
The second school Sam went to was in the Texas panhandle. Dean had complained about the Texas heat when they arrived, but around January they were both glad that they didn't have to deal with the snow and bundling up in the car all winter. Sam had gotten along okay at that school; his teacher was nice, though she always gave him different spelling words than the rest of the class. She had written a note home to his dad one day where she talked about how he wasn't participating and she had figured out that Sam was bored in class. When Sam showed the note to Dean, he had laughed. “Too smart for your own good, Squirt!” They left that school right before Easter, and while Sam was sulking in the backseat, other kids were searching for Easter eggs.
Sam had arrived in Greensboro towards the end of April. He knew that their stay would be temporary so he didn't really bother to make friends. Dean was in eighth grade that year making it so that Sam had to go to school forty-five minutes earlier than the other kids because the middle school started each day at 8 and not 8:45. Dean was also stubborn and paranoid; he refused to let Sam get on the bus or walk to school alone, even though Sam could take care of himself, thank-you-very-much. It was annoying, and while Dean would have gladly skipped the first half hour of his classes to walk Sam to school, they couldn't afford to have social services start snooping around.
After two weeks of Sam going to South Greensboro, a couple of fifth graders caught on to the fact that Sam was always at school before them. They called him stupid names and made fun of him, calling him poor and homeless and freak. Sam didn't tell Dean about them.
The fifth-graders weren't too bad, they usually just called him names or said mean things to him until the other kids or teachers started to show up. Dean was always there to walk him home in the afternoons, so Sam only had an issue in the morning; that was until today.
Sam was hiding because during recess he had gone to the bathroom and as he was washing his hands, the two bullies had come in. They called him names like usual and then cornered him. Dean and Dad had been making Sam practice boxing, but the other boys were bigger, and one was able to grab him while the other one managed to get Sam’s shoes off. One bully threw Sam’s shoes in the toilet, the other boy laughing and egging him on. The second bully gripped Sam’s arms tight before shoving Sam to the ground. Both boys had laughed as they left the restroom.
So now Sam was hiding beside the two-rowed bleachers in the gym with soggy shoes and wet feet. He didn't really feel angry, just sad and frustrated; he didn't want to be different, and he didn't want to move around so much. Sam wanted to be like Dean, able to fit in wherever they went and have people like him. He wanted their dad to get a real job, and he wanted them to have a real house with pictures on the walls and furniture that they had picked out themselves. Sam wanted his own room and his own bed. He just wanted to be normal.
There was a sudden loud noise at the other end of the gym that made Sam jump. The gym doors bounced off of their frame as the janitor came in. The janitor was dragging a bucket and mop along with him as he whistled. He walked towards the back of the gym and stopped when he noticed Sam sitting in the alcove by the corner.
The janitor paused and then smiled,."Hi there, whatchya doin' in here?" The janitor was tall with brown hair and a goofy smile. The patch sewn onto his uniform said “Tom.”
"Nothing," Sam replied quickly. He drew his knees up defensively.
The janitor came over to him, leaving the bucket up against a wall.
"Nothing eh? Wish I didn't have to do anything." He smiled again and sat on one of the bleachers a few feet away from Sam.
Sam didn't say anything, and after a minute the janitor inclined his head towards him. "Shouldn't you be in class?"
Sam frowned. "No, its recess."
The guy nodded. "Well, I guess that's alright then." He gave a half-smile. "But what are you doing in here? Why don't you go out and play on the playground?"
Sam's scowl deepened before he looked down at his soggy shoes. "I don't want to."
"Oh." The janitor paused before continuing, "Well, you can help me mop if you want."
Sam met the guy's eyes and gave him a look that plainly expressed that Sam thought he was crazy.
"Or not," the janitor said. He looked towards the place where he had left the mop and bucket before turning back to Sam. "I guess it can wait."
Tom sighed and leaned against the side of the bleachers before reaching into his pocket and retrieving a candy bar. He opened it and took a bite. With his mouth full the guy looked at Sam. "Hey, you want one?" He pulled another candy bar out of his pocket and offered it to Sam.
Sam stared at the candy for a moment, debating. "Yeah, okay." He grabbed the candy bar from the guy's hand and opened it.
They were both quiet for a minute while they chewed on their candy.
"My name's Gabe by the way." The guy spoke around a mouth full of chocolate.
Sam frowned. "Why does your shirt say 'Tom' then?" Sam took another bite of his candy bar.
Gabe looked down at his shirt in surprise, his eyes glittering in amusement. "Eh, Tom was the old janitor. They just gave me his uniform." He shrugged. “Sides, Tom is a cooler name anyway."
Sam snorted and took another bite.
"So what's your name?" Gabe shoved the last half of his candy bar into his mouth, chewing loudly.
Gabe crumpled his candy wrapper into a ball and tossed it behind the bleachers. Sam gave him a look that clearly questioned Gabe's qualifications for being a janitor.
Gabe pressed his hand to his mouth, as if shielding it from view of anyone but him and Sam and mock whispered, "Don't tell anyone."
Sam finished his candy bar and wiped the excess chocolate from his fingers onto his jeans. "You don't seem like a very good janitor."
"Maybe I'm not really a janitor. Maybe I'm like a secret agent or a magician or something cooler. Maybe this is just my day job." Gabe leaned forward, resting his elbow on the bleacher seat above him.
Sam raised an eyebrow at him.
"Well, I mean it could be! You never know." Gabe shrugged. "What do you wanna be when you grow up?"
Sam frowned. “I don't know." After a moment of thought, he continued, "Maybe a geologist-"
Gabe got a pinched look on his face.
"-or a soccer player." Sam folded his hands across his knees.
Gabe grinned enthusiastically. "That's cool. Soccer's a good game; lots of people like to play it."
Sam nodded. "Yeah, I like it pretty well. I haven't ever played on a team, though."
"Well, you should. Try out for one. First step to becoming a big-time super-star athlete is to get on a team!" Gabe grinned before adding, "Well, that and practice."
"Yeah." Sam gave a small smile. If only life were easy enough that he could just go some Saturday and sign up for the town’s soccer association.
They sat in silence for a moment. Right then the bell rang; recess was over.
"Well, that's my cue to get back to work," Gabe said, gesturing at the mop and bucket.
"Yeah, I should probably go." Sam stood, and as he did so his shoes squeaked. He was suddenly reminded of the bullies, once again, and he was filled with a thick sense of dread.
Gabe stood up when Sam did, and they both stared at each other for a blank moment.
Gabe smiled slowly, a far away look on his face. "Hey, don't worry about all of this, dude." He gestured around at the school. "One day I have a feeling that all this will be..." He paused, as if trying to find the right word. "...unimportant."
After a moment Sam nodded, and turned, walking across the gym. The simple pep talk from the janitor made him feel a bit better, if only for a moment, and his shoes already felt mysteriously drier.
As Sam opened the gym door, he remembered that he had forgotten to thank Gabe for the candy. When he turned back, however, the man was gone.
Sam was all alone at a coffee shop just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was currently waiting for the 2:30 bus to Flagstaff. The bus wouldn't leave for another forty minutes so Sam had decided to grab something to eat.
He wasn't supposed to be in New Mexico, let alone Albuquerque, or on a bus trip. He wasn't supposed to be alone, but he couldn't take it anymore. He was so angry at Dad; he was sick of moving and taking orders. Dean didn't help either. He was just as bad, following every order without a thought. Sam was sick of Dean's blind obedience and willingness to just obey everything Dad said like a mindless soldier. Living out of a suitcase and dropping everything the minute Dad found a case was not fun or pleasant or tolerable to Sam anymore if it ever had been. Sam was sick of Dad and Dean and the whole thing; Sam was done.
Everything had been going okay before he left; nothing major had happened. They'd spent the last eight months in Cairo, Illinois, but four days ago Dad had called and told them to pack up; they were movin' out when he got home. That had been Sam’s breaking point.
When they arrived in Cairo, they hadn't expected to stay very long, but dad caught the trail of a werewolf up in Washington, so he took off ASAP and left Dean in charge of the home front.
They moved into a four hundred dollar-a-month, two-bedroom rental in August. Sam had been restless all summer, angry at Dad for not listening and annoyed at Dean. The house they were renting was in a run-down but quiet neighborhood. The area was dull, and crime was minimal. Sam started eighth grade at the local middle school in the fall.
During the time they spent in Cairo, Sam decided to make a little cash. He spent two months mowing their neighbor's lawns. The money wasn't great, but 10 bucks a pop, times four neighbors, for two months gave Sam a nice little bundle of cash. He had been saving it for a while, unsure of what to do with it, but when Dean announced their orders, Sam knew immediately that he’d had enough.
They had laid down roots in Cairo, nothing big, but Sam had a small group of friends ,and Dean even had a steady girlfriend and a part-time job. They fit in okay with the neighborhood, and life wasn't too bad. Sam had not wanted to leave, and he knew that no matter how much he argued, he was never going to be able to change John Winchester's mind. He usually spent his time trying to convince Dean to stand up to Dad, but he just didn't feel like arguing anymore.
Sam's last day of school before Dad returned was a Wednesday, but instead of heading to school to say goodbye to his friends, Sam skipped out on third period and caught a greyhound to Springfield, Missouri. Sam figured it had taken all of ten minutes, after school let out, for Dean to realize Sam had left, but Sam was long gone by then.
He made his way through Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, and now he was in New Mexico waiting for the last seven-hour leg of his trip. He hadn't planned to go to Flagstaff, but that's how far his two hundred dollars in tickets sent him. He started off in Cairo, just going to the next city, where he got a ticket to the next and the next and the next city. He only had about a hundred and forty bucks left, and he still had to find a place to stay so Flagstaff was where he would park it. He did have an emergency credit card he had swiped from Dean's wallet before he left, but Sam wasn't stupid; he knew credit cards could be tracked.
Sam hadn’t really had a solid plan when he left. He had thought about taking off whenever he'd been in fights with Dad before, but he had never seriously considered it. He'd roughed out a good idea of what he would do on the bus ride, though. He knew how Dean got the fake credit cards, and he figured that once he had a place to stay he could put in for a couple of those. Sam wasn't dumb by any means. He knew that sooner or later Dad would catch up to him if he stayed in one place too long. Sam had a vague idea of getting some credit cards and heading for L.A. He could definitely get lost in a big metropolis for a while before heading to another place.
Ultimately he knew he would have to keep running, but the hope of one day stopping for good, on his own terms, was a big motivator. Sam had a plan, and time would tell if he was successful, but currently he was just happy to be in control.
So in Albuquerque Sam sat in a diner and ordered a cheeseburger and a coke. The diner was nameless and looked like a million other places Sam had been—red vinyl booths and Formica tables, pale waitresses and greasy food.
After the nameless waitress behind the counter took his order, a man sat down next to Sam. The diner wasn't overly crowded; there were still a few open booths. The man ordered a chocolate milkshake and a slice of Oreo pie.
Sam mostly ignored him, only glancing at the man when the waitress brought him his shake. Sam kicked his feet back and forth while he waited for his food before he remembered the postcard in his duffle bag. He'd been picking up postcards as he stopped along his journey. The one he held now had New Mexico scrawled across it with a picture of the open road and route 66. Sam took out a pen and began to make notes. At first he hadn't been sure what to write. He couldn't send any post cards to Dean, but after his first couple of stops he decided to just write down interesting places he saw along the way.
Sam was in the middle of describing the diner when the waitress brought the man his pie. He bit into it and moaned low in the back of his throat.
"Mm mm mm," he said with emphasis. "This is great pie." He had directed his comments at Sam.
Sam looked up and nodded quickly. "Uh huh." He went back to his notes.
"You know I don't think I've ever had Oreo pie. It's pretty good." The guy took a sip of his milkshake. "Do you want a piece?"
Sam leaned back, away from the counter, he looked at the man's face and after a moment, he frowned. "Do I know you?"
Sam wasn't sure, but the man looked familiar. The hair on the back of Sam’s neck stood up, but this guy couldn’t be anything supernatural. Sam was just over thinking things. All people weren’t going to end up being evil, or supernatural, most were just regular people. Now, on his own, Sam would have to understand that. The guy next to him didn't look all that remarkable, brown hair and greenish muddy eyes, goofy chin. He was a typical guy in his mid thirties.
The man smiled. "I don't think so. I'm just passing through town."
"Oh." Sam frowned. "You look familiar."
"I've got one of those faces," the man responded.
The waitress brought Sam his burger, and Sam turned towards his food. After a moment, while Sam was fiddling with the ketchup, the man spoke again. "So have you ever had Oreo pie? Want to try some?"
Sam didn't really want to talk to this guy. He was kind of creepy. "Um no thanks." Sam proceeded to try and ignore the man, taking a bite out of his burger.
"Oh, come on, you've gotta try this!" He snagged the waitress on her way past. "Hey, sweetheart, can I get a slice of pie for my friend here."
The waitress nodded as Sam began to protest.
"Don't worry. It's on me. You gotta try this pie, though." The man smiled and took another bite of his slice for emphasis.
Sam let out a frustrated sigh. "Fine."
They sat in silence for a minute, both eating their food, before the guy spoke again, "So, you live around here? I've only been here a few times, but it seems pretty nice."
"No, I'm just passing through, too."
The waitress dropped off Sam's pie with a fresh fork.
"Oh, you here with your family?" The guy took a look around before taking a long slurp of his milkshake.
"No, I'm on my way to meet them. I was visiting family, and I'm headed home." Sam didn't meet the man's eyes, lying quickly in the hopes of avoiding suspicion.
"Oh, where at? I've got family all over, up north mostly." The guy was starting to annoy Sam. Buying him pie was weird enough; exchanging personal histories was too much.
"Look, thanks for the pie and all, but I just kind of want to eat my food." Sam shrunk in his chair a bit, scooting away from the guy subtly.
The guy put his hands up. "Okay, okay, sorry. Just trying to make conversation. At least try the pie first, though. It's great pie. Don't blame the pie for the weird dude sitting next to you."
Sam made a small noise of frustration before grabbing the fork and stabbing into the pie. He scooped away the point and thrust it into his mouth. He made a face at the man as if to say, 'happy?' The man's only response was to look at Sam in anticipation.
It took a moment, but as Sam chewed he realized that it really was good pie. He'd had Oreo pie before, but this was awesome, the perfect balance of Oreos and filling. Sam's eyes slipped closed, and he moaned in quiet surprise.
"See! I told you!" The man grinned.
Sam swallowed. "Yeah, it is pretty good, I guess."
Sam took another bite of his pie while the man ordered himself another slice. When he turned back to Sam, he grinned. "I don't think anyone can say no to pie."
Sam gave a guarded smile. "My brother definitely can't. He'd eat like three entire pies of this if he could. It actually doesn't even matter what kind of pie it is. If it's pie, he'll eat it."
"Sounds like a smart brother," the man said.
"Yeah..." Sam trailed off. "Sometimes he's just annoying, though."
"Well, older brothers are like that," the man said.
Sam chewed another bite. "Hey, how did you know he was older?" Sam turned, looking at him for a long moment.
"Lucky guess." The guy shrugged.
Sam finished his pie and took another sip of his coke. When he was done, he spoke again. "Yeah well, Dean is really annoying. He doesn't do anything on his own; he just follows everything our Dad says."
The corner of the guy's mouth quirked up, and he shook his head silently. The waitress dropped off the guy's pie, and after a beat, the man spoke again, "Yeah, I know what you mean; one of my older brothers is a lot like that." The guy finished his milkshake, slurping loudly through the straw before digging his fork into his new slice. "But, you know, life would have been worse for me if he hadn't done some of the things he had."
Sam was silent, thinking.
The man continued. "We all have responsibilities, but I guess it's just harder if you're older." He shrugged. "It must be something in the genes.”
Sam smiled. "Yeah, maybe that's why Dean's so weird."
The man snorted and shook his head. "I have a feeling that one day things will be different, and you never know. Maybe you'll understand why he does what he does." The guy shrugged.
Sam frowned, thinking. "Maybe, but sometimes I think that he just doesn't get it. I mean if he doesn't do anything differently, nothing will change."
"Maybe he doesn't see any reason for things to change." The guy paused. "Maybe he doesn't think there's anything wrong. Or maybe he's got his own stuff to deal with, and it's easier to just keep going the same way."
They were silent for a few minutes while Sam pondered the idea. The guy ate his pie ,and Sam finished his coke. It was almost time to leave; Sam's bus was due to head off in ten minutes.
The guy looked at his watch suddenly before looking to Sam. "Well, it's about time for me to go, and I suspect you have somewhere to be as well."
Sam smiled faintly. "Yeah, I need to take off, but thanks for the pie."
"No problem." He leaned sideways in his chair, elbow against the back, turning towards Sam.
Sam started to take some cash out of his pocket to pay for his food, but the guy shook his head. "Don't worry about it. It's on me. Just remember, kid, sometimes there is more to a situation than meets the eye. If you don't stick around to figure that out, then how can you ever really know what’s really going on?"
Sam contemplated this for a moment before shoving his postcard back into his duffle. "I guess I'll just have to wait and see. I don't think Dean's going to change anytime soon, though.
The guy smiled. "Well, we can hope at least, and you never know. Maybe he'll surprise you one day."
Sam nodded, and grabbed his bag."Well, thanks for the food, and uh good luck with whatever."
The man laughed. "Yeah, you too, kid."
Sam left the diner and made his way back to the Greyhound station. Later, on his way to Flagstaff, as he contemplated what the man in the diner said, Sam took out the postcard of New Mexico and wrote, “Best. Oreo. Pie. Ever,” on the back.
Sam is on his way to being completely and utterly shitfaced. He's in a bar about a mile off campus and downing whiskey like he doesn't know it's alcoholic. He'd talked to Dean on the phone earlier, and ten minutes after hanging up, was on his way to the nearest bar.
Sam had left for Stanford a little over a year and a half before and hadn't really spoken to Dean or Dad since. Dean had called at Christmas, but Sam had only stared at his name on the caller ID before shoving the phone in his pocket. When he'd checked his messages later that night, he found a quick, “'Merry Christmas, Sammy,” on his voicemail. The way Dean had been slurring his words, Sam knew he was drunk. Dean didn't call again until Sam’s birthday. Again Sam didn't answer, but that time Dean didn't leave a message.
Needless to say, Sam was surprised when Dean called him earlier that evening, no holiday or birthday excuse, just an ordinary September day. Sam had picked up, not realizing when he answered the phone that it would be anyone other than Brady who he'd talked to not three minutes before.
Sam and Dean had had a terse conversation. Dean was a little out of it on painkillers, and Sam was caught unawares by the call. Dean had ripped up his leg pretty bad chasing a chupacabra on the Mexican border. He'd gotten twenty seven stitches and a couple shots of morphine.
They didn't really talk about anything. Dean asked about classes, and Sam pretended to be fine. His life was doing well by most standards, but sometimes he just missed Dad and Dean without even realizing it. Sam would find himself circling obits in the local paper and miss Dad's no-nonsense way of analyzing Sam's finds. Or he would be at the 7-11, distracted and buying a cup of coffee, only to realize that he had made two, one with milk and sugar, the other with cream just the way Dean liked.
It was frustrating not having the people he'd lived his entire life with around at all. Dad may have been absent a lot, but he was still a part of Sam's life every once in a while, taking up room in Sam's memories.
So it was a little after one in the morning, and Sam was pretty much drunk off his ass. He'd drunk at least half a bottle of Jack as well as a good amount of tequila. The alcohol made him hot and fuzzy. It muffled the sadness he felt and made him angry at Dean for making him feel sad in the first place.
Dean wanted him back in the hunt, the painkillers making him loopy enough to proclaim that he didn't understand why Sam had left, but not sober enough to feel remorse for calling him on it.
Sam hadn't known what to say. Hell, he still didn't know what to say, but he didn't really care right now. No, right now Sam was just smashed.
The bar wasn't very busy. It was Tuesday, and the college crowd was busy with school work. The joint was playing some kind of bad country music low in the background ,and the few regulars were keeping to themselves.
Sam downed the rest of his glass and pulled out his wallet for more cash. He tossed a twenty on the bar and signaled the bartender with a half-assed wave of his hand.
The bartender appeared a moment later, already pouring him another whiskey. He wasn't too tall, but he had a crop of shaggy brown hair and muddy green eyes.
"Gimme a shot of tequila too." Sam kept his eyes on the glass. His gaze was bleary and watery from the shots he'd done earlier.
The bartender raised an eyebrow when Sam turned to look at him. "You sure about that, buck-o?"
Sam squinted at him. "You look familiar." Sam tilted his head before grimacing. "I know you?"
The bartender shook his head. "Sorry, pal. New around here."
Sam frowned. "Oh well." He took a sip of his whiskey before realizing about the tequila. "Hey! Where’s my ketuila?"
The bartender snorted in amusement and grabbed a clean shot glass. When he finished pouring the alcohol, Sam raised the shot glass in a salute. "To you." The burn of the tequila made Sam hiss and grimace. He took a swallow of his whiskey in a vain attempt to soothe the ache.
The bartender moved away and was wiping the bar a few feet away when Sam spoke to him again. "You got a name?"
The guy frowned and came closer, tossing his rag up on the bar. "You can call me Gabriel."
Something in Sam's memory flickered and died, suppressed under the weight of the alcohol. He knew this guy from somewhere; he was sure.
Sam shrugged off his lazy thoughts. "Well ,Gabriel, I'm Sam."
Gabriel smiled and took one of Sam's dirty glasses, beginning to clean it slowly with a dishrag. After a moment he replied, "Nice to meet you, Sam."
Sam grinned a little before sloshing the whiskey around in his glass. He downed the last of it before saying, "You got a fam'ly, Gabriel?"
Gabriel's mouth quirked up in an amused smile, but his eyes were flat. "Yeah, I do."
"Are they nice?" Sam asked. He held out his glass, a signal for Gabriel to pour him another.
Gabriel gave a small smile, shook his head and refilled Sam's drink, "Not really. They're actually a huge bunch of dicks."
Sam nodded his head emphatically. "Yes. I'll drink to that." He took a large gulp of his whiskey. "My family is full of dicks, too." Sam sat back, cracking his shoulders to loosen up a bit. "Fuckin' fam'ly." He huffed out a breath. "God! Just fuckin' want to do my own shit. Don't wanna fuckin' be a hunter forever." If Gabriel didn't blink at the choice words, Sam didn't notice. Sam looked at the bartender. "I mean is that s'much to ask?"
Gabriel shook his head, sad smile on his face. "Nah." He cleaned up the couple of shot glasses littering the area in front of Sam. "But family is like that."
Sam made a sound of agreement before taking another swig.
"Hell, look at my douche bag of a brother. He can't just go with the flow, noooo! He has to make waves and become evil and start the apocalypse." Gabriel rolled his eyes.
Sam blinked slowly through his drunken haze. "What?"
Gabriel sighed. "Never mind. What did your family do?"
"Nothin' really. Brother just, he just doesn't know what it means ta want anything more. Doesn't understand it." Sam folded his arms on the bar, leaning forward. He thought he saw Gabriel roll his eyes, but he couldn't be sure. "He never changes."
After huffing out a quick breath Gabriel responded, "Well, it is what it is."
Sam shook his head. "No, I mean it is, but no. I get why he does what he does, but you can't sacrifice yer whole life for a fuckin' job!"
Gabriel's eyebrows rose in surprise before he turned away to grab his bar-cleaning rag. He didn't say anything as Sam continued, just listened intently.
"He just doesn't even like stand up for himself. 'S so frustrating. I just wanna like shake him." Sam made a clumsy strangling gesture before letting his hands go limp against the bar. "I mean he doesn't even understand why I wanted out." Sam paused, eyes going glassy in thought. "I mean he really and truly believes I didn' want more." Sam said it as if it was the most scandalous thing in the world ,and Gabriel only raised an eyebrow in response. "Like I would jus' be happy playin' good little soldier like him." Neither spoke for a few minutes before Sam seemed to realize that his glass was empty. He turned to Gabriel. "Hey, gimme another."
Gabriel shook his head/ "No-can-do, partner. I think you've had enough."
Sam grunted, annoyed. "Come on, one more. It'll be fine. I'm takin' a cab back anyway."
Gabriel sighed, "Alright, but after this I'm cutting you off." He poured Sam one more drink.
"Thanks." Sam smiled. Gabriel just shook his head in response.
The clock on the wall above the bar said 1:42 and Gabriel started cleaning up, moving around Sam and putting barstools up on the bar. Several people filtered out through the bar doors while Sam nursed his drink. He contemplated the idea that Dean could someday change, someday maybe give up on Dad’s crusade and see the light so-to-speak. Sam thought that day would be a cold day in hell.
Gabriel appeared before Sam suddenly. "Called you a cab. Should be here in a minute."
"Yeah?" Sam sighed miserably. Just another crappy end to a crappy day.
"Look Sam, things suck sometimes. I mean truly and utterly suck." Gabriel removed the last shot glass from the bar and met Sam's eyes. " Shit is sometimes so bad that you think you're never gonna escape. Like, life and your family are such a mess that you don't think it can ever get better, but it will. It will change."
Sam's insides went a little cold, and he sat back on his stool.
"Life will change before you know it, and everything will get better or worse or whatever, but things always change. You just gotta have faith that they will."
Gabriel rested his palms on the edge of the bar, leaning back a little. "My family is fucked up beyond most, and I know things will change. Few years from now, something will happen and someone will do something and everything will get worse and then eventually it will get better. Life will go on and things will change."
Gabriel's eyes went unfocused for a minute as Sam finished his drink. When Gabriel came back to himself, he took the empty glass from Sam and set it on the counter behind the bar.
"My whole life I've tried to ignore my family, run away from certain things, certain responsibilities, and one thing I've learned is that at some point the times change. If you don't stick around, you'll never know what good or bad can come of it," Gabriel said, resigned.
Sam stood when the cab honked its horn in the street. He was a little wobbly on his feet, and Gabriel came out from behind the counter. Sam noticed, suddenly, that he and Gabriel were the only ones left in the place. He took a step towards the door and stumbled.
Gabriel got right in Sam's space, held him up, throwing Sam's arm over his shoulders. "Whoa, there."
"Thanks," Sam grunted, hobbling forward slightly.
Gabriel grimaced, hefting him up. "Jeez, you weigh a ton." They stumbled for the door and when Gabriel threw it open, the cool night air hit Sam like a slap in the face.
When Gabriel stuffed Sam in the cab, he leaned down and said, "Look Dude, just have faith and remember, you can't run forever."
When Sam finally nodded, it was a bit off kilter and wobbly, but and Gabriel's face lightened up. He smirked, as if realizing that Sam was drunk for the first time. "Head home and rest, kid. You'll feel better in the morning."
"Thanks." Sam smiled slightly and gave Gabriel a wave.
Gabriel tapped the back of the taxi with his hand, and the driver pulled away.
In the morning Sam didn’t remember how he had gotten home or when exactly he had left the bar, but he felt better than he had after he’d spoken to Dean, somewhat more optimistic about their situation, and that was all that really mattered.
Three days after Sam turned twenty five, he dreamed of Broward County.
He woke up suddenly in the same motel room that he had seen every Tuesday for what had felt like eternity. Asia wasn’t playing, though, and Dean was nowhere to be seen. Sam didn’t realize it was a dream at first. At first he just sat up and with a horrible, sinking feeling that his life for the past three months had been the dream. He got up quickly, moving into the bathroom and looking around, hoping to find Dean, and for another icy moment he remembered waking up alone for six months in other empty motel rooms. There were two beds in this room, though, so the thought of no Dean, fell away.
Sam wasn’t sure what to do, so he got dressed and headed for the diner like usual. He didn’t pass anyone on the street, and when he arrived at the diner it was empty save for one person.
The Trickster was sitting in the same booth where he and Dean had sat over and over again, sitting in Dean's usual place eating pancakes and drinking coffee.
Sam had the urge to lunge at him, grab the fork out of his hand and stab him in the face. Sam's blood boiled at the sight of him. The only thing that stopped him is the realization that it was a dream, or that the Trickster could extract an even worse vengeance if it wasn’t.
"Sammy! Come in and have a seat!" The Trickster smiled like nothing was wrong and took another bite of his food.
Sam stood for a moment, just watching him, before he took a seat in the booth. His hands curled reflexively into fists.
"Want some pancakes? They're really good." The Trickster smiled and took a bite for emphasis.
"No thanks." Sam's voice came out flat and icy, much the way he felt. He wasn’t sure why he was dreaming of this, but then dreams hardly ever made sense.
"Oh, come on!" The Trickster grinned and snapped his fingers. A plate of steaming pancakes appeared in front of Sam. "Come on, Mikey, try 'em. You'll like 'em."
Sam sighed and leaned back in his seat. "This is a dream right? You haven't like hijacked me or Dean or anything, right?"
The Trickster grinned. "Yep, this is a dream."
Sam relaxed minutely. The Trickster's grin only widened in response. "Go ahead, since this is a dream. Try the pancakes. They're chocolate chip, your favorite."
Sam hesitated before taking a bite. They were pretty good, but he couldn’t help wondering why his subconscious was showing this to him.
They ate in silence for a minute before the Trickster said, "You still want to be a soccer player, Sam?"
Sam frowned in confusion. "What?"
"A soccer player. You used to want to be one when you grew up. Would you still want to be one if things were different?" The Trickster looked surprisingly serious.
Sam was thrown by the question; he hadn’t wanted to play soccer in years. "Uh, no? I don't know. Probably not."
"Well, what would you do if you weren't a hunter?" The Trickster added some more sugar to his coffee before taking a sip.
Sam had to think for a moment. He used to want to be a lawyer, but even now he wasn't sure he still wanted that. Besides, what did any of this have to do with anything?
"Uh, I don't know. Why does it matter?" Sam set his fork aside.
The Trickster took another loud gulp of his coffee before responding. "Well, Things are about to get bad Sam. Real bad." His eyes were hard when he said it. He was dead serious, and Sam found that disconcerting.
"Um-" Sam started to reply but was cut off.
"The next few years are going to be rough. Like, apocalypse rough, and I just want to give you a heads up in case you want to get out while the going's good. What I said about you and Dean sacrificing yourselves is true, but there is more to it than that. You can't go through life with an all-or-nothing, my-way-or-the-highway attitude. If you do, you won't like where it takes you."
The Trickster shook his head. "You know, you've had a bumpy life Sam, but it can get a hell of a lot bumpier. The places you're going to, well, let's just say they’re not in Candyland, and this here, this is the last stop before you hop the train to the Candy Castle."
Sam didn't know how to process what the Trickster was saying. He could surmise that his subconscious wanted to prevent him from trying to save Dean from hell, but there was no way he could just not save Dean.
The Trickster made a sound of annoyance before speaking. "Look, forget about me being your subconscious. Pretend I’m real. Pretend this isn’t a dream. Pretend that I'm just a friend trying to warn you about the shit storm that's to come."
Sam frowned. "Well, I don't know what to say. I mean I can't just stop trying to save Dean. He's my brother. I can't just stop." He shrugged.
The Trickster made a gesture as if to halt Sam's train of thought, waving his hands in annoyance. "No, forget about Dean going to hell. I'm talking about after that. Dean is going to hell. He'll go to hell and then come back and then you'll get Ruby to help you with your powers and then the demon blood and the yadda yadda yadda. What I'm trying to say is that if you have any hope of the world being here when you wake up two years from now, you gotta get off this train now."
This was the weirdest dream Sam had ever had, and he wasn't sure how to process everything.
"Look, I'm going to see you again, okay? A year or so from now you're going to go to a town and try to save some people, but all you will find is me, and I will have a grand old time messing around with you and trying to get you to play your roles in the apocalypse. But you won't give in. Life is going to get really bad. And no matter what I try to get you to say or do in the future it's still going to play out badly." The Trickster took a breath and ran his hands through his hair. "I can't stop you from making certain choices in the future, but I'm here now to try and prevent those choices from ever arriving. You have an opportunity here, Sam. You can stop the apocalypse, stop everything before it even starts. You just have to let Dean go to hell and then get off this crazy ride. If you stop hunting, just stop, become a lawyer or a soccer player or something, nothing will happen in the future, and you and Dean won't have to deal with a world of trouble. People won't die, I'll still be alive, and we won't have the wrath of heaven and hell bearing down on us all."
"Wait," Sam interrupted. "This isn't a dream is it? You said you'd still be alive. You're just trying to get me to save your skin aren't you? What is this?!"
The Trickster shook his head, but Sam continued, "That's it isn't it! All you want is for us not to lay into you when we get the chance. I bet this isn't even about other people or me and Dean. Y you just don't want to die."
The Trickster clenched his jaw before responding. "Yes, I'm going to die. But that doesn't mean the rest isn't true. You and Dean aren't the ones who kill me by the way.”The Trickster rolled his eyes. “It's not about that. There are going to be a LOT of deaths. People on both sides of the war will fall, and it will result in the freaking end of the world.” The Trickster took a shaky breath . “But Sam, YOU can prevent that. All you have to do is stop hunting. That's all. No virgin sacrifices or weird spells. Just stop. Just let Dean go to hell and walk away."
Sam was silent. His blood had gone cold in his body and he hadn't noticed when all of their food had disappeared. He couldn't believe this was true; Sam didn't know what was to come ,and neither did this thing in front of him, dream or no.
The Trickster looked down at the table, his usual enthusiasm gone from his gaze.
"Look, what I've done to you is beyond screwed up. I can't take it back ,and I'm sorry for that. I was arrogant. I was trying to make a point that the world is bigger than you and your brother, but I screwed up the delivery." He closed his eyes for a moment before continuing. " I am sorry. I would take it back if I could." The Trickster reached out and grabbed Sam's wrist, his hand clenching around it tightly. "You have to believe me. Sam, you will die if you don't stop hunting."
Sam whipped his hand away out of the Trickster's grasp. "Stop it." He hissed and clutched his hand to his chest, "What is this? What are you trying to do?"
The Trickster made a sound of distress before rubbing his hands over his eyes. He sat back after a moment and turned to Sam. His eyes were cold and hard and dead serious. "If you don't stop hunting now, you will die. You will have to make a hard decision that leads to your death." He closed his eyes briefly and, a pained look shifted across his face for a moment. When he opened his eyes, he said, "And I know you, Sam. Given the same question over and over, you will never pick a different answer. In the end, you will sacrifice yourself, and you will die. I can't tell you any more than that, but if you continue down this road nothing and no one will be able to stop this story except you. The only way you will be able to stop it is to die."
They were both silent for a long moment. Sam took a breath; he didn't know what to say. He sat back in his seat and stared at the Trickster. Even if this was real, and Sam wasn't sure that it could be, how could he just stop hunting? Sam didn't want to face the seriousness in the Trickster's eyes and admit that he might be telling the truth. He really didn't like the idea that someday soon he would die. It was a cold and sobering thought.
The weight of Dean's deal entered his mind again, and Sam suddenly felt tired and emotionally drained. He couldn't imagine a world where he just stopped trying to save Dean. Even if he was going to die, Sam couldn't just leave his brother to his fate.
The Trickster inhaled quickly, somehow reading Sam's thoughts, "Well, then, I guess there's nothing more I can do." There was a cold kind of fear in his face, something that said he understood what was going to happen and that he felt helpless to try and fight against it.
Sam opened his mouth once, twice. "I just, I can't let Dean go to hell on account of me. I can't let him suffer."
The Trickster bowed his head slightly. He folded his hands across the table in front of him and looked at them solemnly for a long time. After a few minutes he spoke. " I guess I shouldn't have expected anything different. You've always made it clear that Dean was your biggest priority." He slid out of the booth then, standing silently next to Sam.
Sam looked up to meet the Trickster's eyes, and the Trickster gave a sad smile. "You know, I don't know why I bothered to come back here. For some reason I thought maybe you would change your mind if I told you what was going to happen. I know you won't remember this when you wake up, but maybe one day you will." The Trickster smiled forlornly. "Just... just remember that I tried to make things right. Just remember that when you do have to make that decision, it's going to be okay. Things will change, they always change, and you'll have the strength when you need it."
Sam was slightly taken aback, but he felt himself nodding anyway, "Okay." He felt as if he was missing the punch line or the back-story or something in this conversation. He understood the Trickster's sorrow, but he wasn't really sure why.
"Goodbye, Sam." The Trickster smiled sadly and after a second ,his image sort of faded away in a kind of hazy blue smoke.
Sam wasn't sure how to take the conversation, and he was contemplating why he was still in the dream when the Trickster materialized in front of him again.
"Oh, what the hell." The Trickster grabbed Sam around the shoulders and then pulled him into a kiss.
Sam tried to jerk away in shock, but the Trickster's iron clad grip held him in place. Sam felt himself sinking into the kiss, unwilling or not. It was a warm, solid kiss that left Sam confused as hell and strangely wanting more.
When the Trickster broke the kiss he pressed his forehead to Sam's, smiling sadly. After another second, he faded away again, and Sam was left alone.
When Sam woke up in the morning, he didn't remember his dream at all.
Sam jerked awake. His hand flew to his mouth and his eyes sprang open. The lights were out in the motel room, and he was covered in a cold sweat. He suddenly remembered everything.
The janitor and the man in the diner, the bartender and the dream. He'd just awoken from the same dream he'd had two years previously, and yet this time he remembered it. Everything was fresh and sharp in his mind, laid over with the faint haze of time. The memories he had of when he was a kid were cloudy, but he remembered the bullies from Greensboro and the diner with the best Oreo pie.
Sam looked at the other bed and saw that Dean was still sleeping. Quickly and quietly, Sam was out of bed and shutting the bathroom door before he knew it. He leaned back against the door and tried to process all of the information. After a minute, he took a shaky breath and turned on the sink. Sam splashed cold water over his face and then stood to face himself in the mirror.
After they had left the Elysian Fields Hotel, aka Motel Hell, Sam and Dean kept expecting Gabriel to pop up. Kali had gasped and made a small noise of shock about three miles outside of ground zero. She had disappeared, and they hadn't been sure what to make of it until after they had watched the Casa Erotica disc.
When they got back in the car after watching the movie, Sam had asked Dean, "Do you think he's really gone?"
Dean had just shrugged and started the car. "Who knows."
Sam had been quiet for the rest of their drive. Something about Gabriel's death left him unsettled, more than just the fact that another soldier for their side had died. He didn't think too closely about it at the time, but some part of him had started to dwell on Gabriel’s loss, disquieted at the lack of closure.
Sam had never really thought about Gabriel in the sense of his relationship to him. Sam had been angry at him for a long time because of the whole Mystery Spot ordeal. They'd never spoken of the event, and the less Sam and Dean said about it the better. Now Sam understood that Gabriel had apologized. In his own way he'd asked for Sam's forgiveness. Sam just hadn't remembered any of it.
Somewhere deep down, Sam wondered if Gabriel had put some sort of weird time lock on the dream, something so that he would remember it when he could fully understand it. Maybe that was just Sam's wishful thinking.
He still wasn't sure what Gabriel had meant about Sam dying, Sam had kind of figured that he wouldn’t make it out of this unscathed. Although, some part of Sam’s mind wondered if Gabriel had known of his plan to take hold of Lucifer. The plan was half formed in Sam’s mind, sketchy and completely insane, but he didn't see that they really had any other options.
Sam tried not to dwell on the part of the dream where he was going to die. He was too tired and too rattled to deal with that right now. Instead he turned his attentions toward the kiss. Sam didn't really know what that was about either. There had never been any chemistry or signs of attraction between them, but Sam was surprisingly okay with the idea that Gabriel had kissed him. That acceptance in and of itself was kind of a shock.
It was a bit of a moot point now, but Sam still felt a twinge of sorrow that he'd never be able to say goodbye. Gabriel had redeemed himself in the end; by dying at Lucifer's hand he had allowed Sam and Dean to escape. Even though Gabriel wouldn't see the end of the war through, he had finally chosen a side.
Sam went over the dream again in his mind and felt himself turn colder with each passing thought. He hadn't understood what Gabriel had asked him years ago. To give up on Dean and on hunting had been a foreign concept; it still was in a lot of ways. If Sam had known what would happen, everything with Ruby and Lucifer, the war and the apocalypse, if he had truly understood, maybe he would have made a different choice.
Sam couldn't go back in time, and he wasn't sure where he was going to end up. Life had become hard; difficult choices had become commonplace, and regret was a familiar feeling. The weight of Sam's destiny was worth less and less as the days went by, and a tiresome sense of inevitability had settled on his shoulders. Sam didn't know if he had the strength to keep going anymore.
His life had always been about family; whether Sam was running from them or to them, working with them or against them, his life had always gravitated toward the people he had once believed in, the people he had loved and those that he would die for. Sam had made so many bad choices, all in the name of what was right, and yet he still hadn't been able to save some of the people that mattered most to him.
With a small shock Sam realized that he was including Gabriel in this. He'd never really thought he was close to the angel, but actually in a lot of ways he was. Gabriel had shown up throughout his life, with and without Sam's knowledge. He'd helped Sam make some hard decisions whether Sam had realized it or not. He'd helped Sam when he was in pain and offered him guidance when Sam hadn't realized he'd needed it.
Sam closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the bathroom mirror. His breath fogged up the glass, and he just stood breathing for a moment.
Sam's life was closing in on him. Each day he was coming closer and closer to making a hard and difficult choice just like Gabriel had said. He felt cold and sharp, like a hard ball had settled in his stomach. He wished, suddenly, that Gabriel was there to offer him advice, or at the least solace. Gabriel had understood Sam, if only in the ways that they were similar and Sam couldn't help wondering what he would say in this situation. Sam was facing the possibility of his death and an unlikely and uncertain future. There wasn't anything Sam could say or do to change that.
Gabriel had been right; he couldn't run forever. Gabriel had stopped running in the end, and Sam supposed he would have to as well. Sam would have to face his future head on, and even though the thought of saying yes terrified him, he knew it was the right thing to do.
Sam left the bathroom and lay back down in his bed. The quiet pressed in on him, and he couldn't help thinking back through his memories. In all of his experiences, whether he was trying to hide or run or evade what he had to do, Sam had never been strong enough to make the difficult choices on his own.
It was only in the dark, alone with his thoughts, that Sam realized he wouldn't have to make this last decision alone. Gabriel had always known how this would end ,and even though Sam was terrified at not being strong enough to make the right choice, Gabriel had believed in him.
Just maybe, when it came down to it and Sam was struggling with what to do next, with how to conquer his fear and his instinct to run, maybe Gabriel's belief in him, would be enough.
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