Gabriel skimmed through the bunker library, searching for a way to resurrect angels. He knew it was easier said than done, but if any place had information, it would be the secret bunker where the Winchesters lived.
As he closed the dozenth book that had nothing of importance in it, he heard, “it’s late.”
Gabriel whirled around, his heart stopping and starting upon seeing Castiel frame the doorway. For once, he wore no frills, his trench coat gone, enhancing a muscled body that Gabriel didn’t know his brother’s vessel possessed.
“You’re one to talk,” Gabriel shot back. “You can’t sleep either.”
Castiel shrugged, Gabriel slowly growing used to Castiel’s sweatpants and tee. Gabriel normally didn’t dress down in case of a quick getaway, but for Sam, he made an exception.
Castiel stepped inside, eyes glazing over the book spines accumulating on the oak table. “What are you looking for? I can help narrow the search.”
“Angel resurrections,” Gabriel said curtly, flipping through another book.
Before he could turn a page, Castiel abruptly placed a hand on it. Gabriel looked up at him.
An amused glint was in Castiel’s weary blue eyes. “You think if there was a specific book on angel resurrections, I wouldn’t have found it and used it already?”
Gabriel pushed Castiel’s hand away from the book as he closed it, setting the volume on angels on the table blindly. “You’ve read all of these books on angels?”
“Yes,” Castiel said, “I’ve been here longer than you, remember?”
Gabriel sighed, leaning against the tabletop, palms splayed across the surface behind him. “I’ve got nothing, Cassie. You shouldn’t have put the idea in my head.”
The sound of a book hitting the floor was a thunderclap in the bunker chamber.
Gabriel jumped and leaned down, picking up the book. He furrowed his brows as he studied the golden lining on the cover.
“Cassie,” he asked hesitantly, “was this book gold before?”
He saw Castiel shake his head slowly from the corner of his eye.
Suddenly, the book cover opened, as if it were punched from the inside. The blank first page was shimmering gold, and an excess window of light blinded both angels.
The book moved in Gabriel’s hands, slipping from his fingers and dropping to the floor face-up. Gabriel stepped back into Castiel’s front, Castiel peering down at the book over Gabriel’s shoulder.
“Uh,” Gabriel held up a finger, not looking away from the window of light that was dimming by the second, “ever seen this book before, Cassie?”
“It was a book about the angel afterlife,” Castiel said gruffly.
Gabriel tore his gaze from the book and stared at Castiel’s stubbled jawline. “That counts,” he seethed, “as information about angel resurrections.”
The sound of an echo coming from the floor had their heads snapping towards the open book.
“Was that,” Gabriel knelt down with wide eyes, keeping his distance from the book, “a voice?”
Castiel knelt beside Gabriel. “It couldn’t have been. I’ve read this book, Gabe. There’s nothing about resurrections or...or whatever is happening right now.”
The echo occurred again, and Gabriel scooted closer. The light was gone from the cavernous window where the pages should have words, only glittering around the edges. It was a deep dark hole in the middle of the book, and Gabriel peered down into it.
Gabriel gasped, reeling back and crashing against the table leg.
“What?” Castiel asked, crawling forward and looking down the book’s gateway.
There was silence, and Gabriel sat beside Castiel. His profile was completely frozen, eyes wide and lips pressed together tightly.
With determination and immense purpose, he said, “we’re coming to get you, Balthazar.”
Gabriel observed his brother, and said hesitantly, “how do we get him out of a magic book?”
Castiel rose to his feet abruptly, Gabriel following suit.
Castiel replied, “we jump.”
Gabriel breathed shallowly, and Castiel spun on his feet, rushing out of the library and entering the war room. Gabriel watched warily as Castiel returned a moment later with a long length of rope.
“Where did you find rope?” Gabriel asked incredulously.
Castiel didn’t answer, grabbing a section and tying a loop around his waist.
“Whoa,” Gabriel said, reaching Castiel and placing a hand on the rope knot. This halted Castiel’s progress, and he looked at Gabriel, who said, “think for a minute, okay? You could get trapped in there. We don’t know what’s in there!”
Castiel, who was clearly unconcerned and completely insane, said, “I’m not asking you to come with me. I’m going.”
As Castiel moved, Gabriel grabbed his arm and squeezed hard. Castiel halted and shot him an annoyed look.
Gabriel saw the fire in Castiel’s gaze, and sighed deeply. “Alright, dumbass.” He grabbed the free end of the rope and tied it to the table leg. “I’m flying in with you.”
“You could get sucked into a void,” Castiel said concernedly.
Gabriel shrugged. “If you’re stupid enough to jump inside a magic book, I’m stupid enough to fly inside one without a tether.” He clapped his hands together a single time. “Let’s roll.”
“Dive,” Castiel corrected.
Gabriel ran towards the book, feeling his vessel shrink to fit inside. His wings were let out of their confinement, and he freefell into the darkness.
His wings broke his fall as air came up to meet him fast, and he maneuvered his body to sail right side up. His wings flapped in massive bounds, and his feet soon touched a flat surface. He was braced by a crouched position, his palms pressing against something black and cold.
“Gabriel,” a parched voice said.
His eyes shot towards the sound, and they widened as he comprehended the sight of Balthazar.
He rose from his crouch, gaze raking across his brother’s worn face. Even though Balthazar had taken an older vessel years earlier, that same body had seemingly aged for decades in such a short period of time. Balthazar’s tan skin was riddled with wrinkles and age lines that harshened his once-jovial expression. His blonde hair was paler as well, his eyes a dull gray rather than a bright blue.
Gabriel was interrupted by the sight of Castiel dropping between them, the rope still wrapped tightly around his waist. He landed much easier, his wings breaking his fall with the extra support.
Castiel glanced smoothly between Gabriel and Balthazar.
“Well,” Castiel said, “this is awkward.”
Balthazar cracked a smile, and the old him was almost there to Gabriel. Almost.
“I’m sorry that I-” Castiel began.
“You didn’t actually kill me,” Balthazar said, his Scottish lilt music to Gabriel’s ears, “so there’s nothing to apologize for.”
“Yes, there is,” Castiel said, motioning to their completely dark surroundings.
“Can you fly?” Gabriel asked Balthazar, looking up at the glowing window several miles above their heads. In theory, that should get them back to the bunker without any issues.
“Don’t know,” Balthazar said, bringing out his tawny wings from the astral plane. “Haven’t tried.”
Castiel stepped near Balthazar. “Hold onto the rope just in case.”
Balthazar nodded, not making a joke like Gabriel expected. Gabriel made a note to bombard Balthazar with questions after they hid him away successfully.
Balthazar held the rope, and Castiel flapped his wings, taking to the air in a single bound. Balthazar was clumsy for a few beats, but his wings soon adjusted to the movements.
Gabriel jumped and shot into the air easily, flying up to the gateway the book created before the other two could. In order to investigate any differences, he flew through, his body expanding to its normal size in this vessel.
He crashed unceremoniously onto the bunker floor, coughing as his lungs adjusted to the dusty air of the library. He hid his wings as normal, then motioned for his brothers to join him.
He scooted towards the table leg as Castiel and Balthazar appeared, sprawled on the floor like he was a moment ago. They emitted matching coughs, and Gabriel leaned against the table leg.
“Well,” Balthazar got into a sitting position, as did Castiel, “you two never disappoint with a spectacle.” He glanced around at his surroundings. “Where are we?”
“Nowhere important,” Castiel said, as if he didn’t need to think about it. His need to protect the Winchesters, Dean specifically, was second nature by this point. Castiel didn’t even stop and think before saying the words.
Even though Balthazar wouldn’t harm them, Castiel still felt like he needed to be the Winchester’s bodyguard.
Gabriel decided not to correct Castiel, as he was already standing up. Balthazar and Gabriel rose to their feet as well, sensing Castiel’s desire to leave the bunker.
“What is this place?” Balthazar asked again.
“A Men of Letters bunker,” Gabriel replied.
Castiel’s head turned sharply towards Gabriel, another habitual movement, before softening a tad. “Where should we go?”
Gabriel realized Castiel was addressing him as the eldest. He blinked and wracked his brain for a long few seconds.
He decided to look at Balthazar. “Where do you wanna hang out?”
Balthazar arched an eyebrow, a hint of a smile reaching his face. “You’re gonna regret letting me pick, Gabe. Rookie move.”
Castiel sulked off in the corner of the New Orleans Mardi Gras party, wearing a glittering purple hat tipping off his head and layers of rainbow beads weighing him down. He had received many a man and woman approaching to flirt, but Castiel’s awkward demeanor and words soon dissuaded any suitors.
Gabriel was a bit out of it as well, wondering how he could have ended up watching Balthazar dance with three drunk men at once.
Handsome men, that was true, but still drunk.
Gabriel sucked down a margarita and left the bar, fighting his way through the crowds. Castiel was off in the corner, sitting at a table meant for two that was covered in confetti.
Gabriel squeezed past partygoers, plopping down in the empty seat. Castiel shot him the most annoyed look he could muster.
“Sorry,” Gabriel chimed, “I forgot it was Mardi Gras.”
Castiel was unimpressed.
“Well,” Gabriel shrugged, “we can get outta here and drag Bal to a motel.”
Castiel rose from his seat and crossed the room with determination, Gabriel having no choice but to follow. He knew what Castiel was going to do, and he had to keep up and act fast.
Balthazar was taken away from his dancing partners, pouting and whining loudly. Castiel’s hand clamped down on Balthazar’s shoulder, and taking advantage of the crowd, Castiel flew away in the blink of an eye. Gabriel followed their path just as quickly, Castiel choosing to drop Balthazar in a vacant hotel suite on the outskirts of New Orleans.
Balthazar clumsily crashed onto the bed and fell asleep before he could protest about being taken away from the party too early.
“Wow,” Gabriel said as he and Castiel stood over Balthazar’s sleeping form, “he really is old.”
“We should ask him what happened in the book,” Castiel said pointedly, “at some point.”
Gabriel hummed in consideration. “I think it’s best if we let him process for a while.” A pause. “We should get back before they realize we’re gone.”
Castiel inclined his head in agreement, and Gabriel lead them both to the bunker.
When they entered the library, it was dawn and the Winchesters would be waking up soon.
“Well,” Castiel grumbled as he walked away, “this has been...not fun at all.”
He disappeared down a hallway, presumably to climb into bed with Dean before he woke up.
Gabriel decided to do the same a moment later, allowing his mind to process the night.
Balthazar was trapped inside a book. They got him out, and then went to a Mardi Gras party.
Not the weirdest night Gabriel’s had. Not by a long shot.
Gabriel saw that the door to Sam’s room was ajar from when he snuck away around midnight. He crept inside quietly, slipping through the crack in the door and closing it slowly.
“Did you really think I wasn’t going to notice?”
Gabriel nearly jumped to the ceiling, whirling towards the bed and clutching his heart.
He breathed shallowly and said, “I could’ve gone into cardiac arrest just now, Sam. What is wrong with you?”
Sam was sitting up in bed, a half-smile reaching his face and a glint in his ever-shifting eye color. His long hair was unevenly distributed on one side of his head, Gabriel noticing blonder tones scattered underneath the brown. His arms were crossed over his chest, Gabriel fighting a blush at the visible muscle cords.
“Where’d you go?” Sam asked, more curious than accusatory.
Sam narrowed his eyes, but rather than questioning his half-truth, he decided he would rather not know about the mind-bending realities and universal secrets that Gabriel dealt with on a daily basis. Gabriel was glad that, no matter how smart Sam was, he understood Gabriel didn’t want to discuss it at present, and explaining it would be a monumental task.
Gabriel loves him for his foresight, among all the other reasons he loves Sam Winchester.
Sam patted the bed. “You look tired. Come on.”
Gabriel smiled impishly and climbed into the bed with Sam.