Title: Three Hearts
Characters: Castiel, Sam/Gabriel
Warnings: hurt/comfort, spoilers for 9x18
Words: ~ 1000
Summary: Before they part, Castiel tells Sam about his encounter with Gabriel. It doesn't go well.
Notes: I waiting four seasons for this. So please, Sam/Gabriel fics. Castiel was meant as a short narrator, but I always liked him and Sam together.
There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain.
The sort of pain that's only suffering.
Sam watched Dean retreat to a nearby supermarket with a stony expression on his face. The call for food was just an excuse not to be confronted by Castiel again. With a sigh, Sam settled against the car. He was tired and really not eager to get between these two. Long ago he stopped trying to keep track of their issues.
It was best not to meddle, besides Sam could not trust himself to be actually of use in this matter. Projecting his own problems with his brother onto the relationship between Dean and Castiel would do more harm them good.
“Sam, there is something you need to know”, Castiel said to him. The angel still stood there, hands buried in his pockets, looking a bit hesitant.
“Yeah, what's up?” Sam asked and braced himself for bad news.
Castiel leaned against the car besides him. Trying to be empathic, he placed a hand on Sam's shoulder. His moments with Sam were far and inbetween, but they always ranged from ease to calm silence.
It was Dean, who failed at communicating.
“When I was taken by Metatron, he did not immediately revealed himself,” Castiel recounted. “He let his ideas bleed over reality and...”
Sam raised his eyebrows, worried. Illusions and alternate dimensions were never funny. He and Castiel had experienced it often enough with Lucifer.
Castiel's pale strong hand curled around Sam's shoulder, hard enough to leave a bruise.
“Metatron, he … he send Gabriel,” Castiel confessed. “The TV turned on, playing the DVD you mentioned back in days of the apocalypse.”
“Casa Erotica?” Sam mumbled, too shocked to portray an emotion. “It was his last message. To … us.”
Obviously struggling with old sorrows, Castiel saved Sam the humiliation from asking.
“I didn't notice at first. Gabriel tired to help, get me to lead the remaining angels against Metatron,” he summarized the encounter with his brother.
It still hurt, of course. Knowing it had been a lie. But unlike Sam, he saw this meeting as bearable. A long time ago, Gabriel had been a teacher to him. Seeing him - alive - in the days of the apocalypse, was a bitter experience. Just like many other things back then. Hearing of his death, had hurt less than Castiel expected. Perhaps because he had not been present, when Gabriel died.
Trapped in the hospital, Castiel had simply fallen back into old patterns. Gabriel's absence did not change much for him.
Sam on the other hand was probably the sole soul in the universe Gabriel got close to. Remembering the very private tale (again, just a moment between Sam and him) of the half year, Castiel felt it appropriate to draw Sam into a hug. Six months were a lot of time for a human, especially when alone and grieving, no matter if the rest of the world counted the days as a single one. For angels, even an archangel and powerful as Gabriel, it took interest and investment to spend so much attention to someone.
As outsider Castiel could only guess, but the conversation with Gabriel reinforced his assumption there had been more once. Nothing sexual, as far as Castiel knew. Unless Gabriel had been more trough with his illusion of the months Dean had dead than Castiel expect, but even in that case Sam was not likely to remember it.
Still he sense a connection between Sam and Gabriel. With his additional senses to the ways destiny shaped its course, he could not be blind to the fact it had been Gabriel in the end, who told Sam how Lucifer was to be stopped.
First he lectured him about letting Dean go, Castiel thought. And then he showed him how to do it.
When Sam moved, Castiel expected Sam to withdraw from him. Physical constant remained something that often was not comfortable for them. To his surprise, Sam turned towards him. It pleased Castiel deeply that Sam sought him out and did not push him away.
“I cannot do this,” Sam told him in a tired tone. Under his hands Castiel felt how the broad shoulders trembled. “Hearing he might be back, learning that he was real enough to fool you even for a moment...”
When Sam raised his head to look Castiel straight in to his eyes unflinchingly (a feat not everyone was capable of doing and someone ought to tell Sam it was an achievement, the angel fought down the urge to hurt someone.
“Castiel, by everything I have been through, I cannot effort to hope,” Sam said, revealing how deep the pain went. “I can't put up with this. The thought of Gabriel existing, even if it's just a tiny specter of his being on a sheet of paper...it would require a miracle.”
Lucifer, Metatron, Gadreel … Gabriel. Any one of these would do.
But it would not help Sam, so he suppressed it.
Sadly nothing would, at this point.
“Forgive me,” Castiel said and brushed his fingers against Sam's forehead. He had not much grace left, but he could put off nightmares for a while at least. “It was not my intention to burden you with this.”
Finally Sam stepped back, but he only had enough will in him to sink back against the car.
“No, it's alright”, he said. “I appreciate your honesty. Learning about it, after … it would be worse. At least I have a warning, if Metatron wants to mess with our heads.”
Castiel did not comment on his, it was hardly his place.
Instead he mourned the future and the unnecessary pain he had brought to Sam.
When Dean returned, they parted quietly. Back at his motel room, Castiel decided it was time for action. Using Gabriel was a cruelty, Metatron shouldn't have lowered himself to use. As the angel he was, he probably knew what Gabriel had meant for them. For Team Free Will as Dean has called them once.
But about one thing, Metatron had been right. Gabriel always had been a great teacher. And Castiel remembered his last grin. His answer to the question, if he was alive.
With a grim expression, Castiel torn down the pictures from his walls.
As he drew the sign, he said: “You said I had spunk, Metatron. Thank you for reminding me from whom I learned it from.”