Pairings: Sam/Gabriel (and kinda sorta Castiel/Balthazar).
Rating: R (For language mostly. Lots of F-bombs.)
Word count: 30.234
Spoilers: None really, although it helps if you know who Gabriel and Balthazar are.
Warnings: Lots and lots of swearing. Age difference.
Feedback: Yes please.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything even remotely related to Supernatural. (But if anyone wanted to give me Gabriel for Christmas I sure wouldn't complain.)
Beta: mithrel was a champion for taking on this monster and teaching me a few new tricks along the way. THANK YOU!
Notes: Human AU.
Summary: The story of how Sam got the sweetest job in history and how Gabriel learned how to run away. In which there are cute dogs, texting, boners and friends with benefits. There's trouble in Winchester-land, Balthazar butts in a lot, and Gabriel's brothers are dicks, except for the one you least expect.
Gabriel paced back on forth on the sidewalk outside a small café. He was man enough to admit that he was a complete nervous wreck. Not that admitting it helped a lot. So much was riding on this meeting. Gabriel couldn't even remember the last time anything in his life had mattered this much. Except maybe Sam, but he wasn't thinking about Sam right now. Except he was. God, how he wished Sam were there with him, offering support and strength with his mere presence.
But Gabriel had turned Sam away. He had nobody to blame but himself. But maybe... if this meeting worked out... maybe then there would be hope. Maybe then he could actually try to become something worth offering Sam. Balthazar's words were still fresh in his mind, and by god, Gabriel was never telling him this, but those very words ended up being the push he needed to stop pacing and go inside.
“ At least try to not be a basket case...” So he did.
He only had to look around briefly to spot the tall figure of Raphael tucked into a corner booth, fiddling with a napkin. Everything considered, he'd changed fairly little. He was still a vast presence in the room, no matter where he went. But Gabriel was still thrown off slightly from the conflicting impressions he got of familiarity and strangeness. This round-faced, graying, middle-aged man was very different from the vibrant yet steel-willed older brother Gabriel remembered. Even when they'd shared a home, Gabriel had never really spent a lot of time with Raphael. They had been very different people. But where Michael had been dutiful and Luke had been argumentative, Raphael had followed his own road with laser focus, never really causing a disturbance, but not following the stream either.
Gabriel had always felt like sort of the wild card of the bunch, flitting around, doing whatever struck his fancy that day, but avoiding conflict like the plague. Growing up with his two oldest brothers constantly fighting about every single little thing made Gabriel understandably wary of rocking the boat. Raphael had never rocked the boat, but nor had he made a very great impression. So quite honestly, Gabriel had no idea what to expect.
When Raphael looked up and spotted him, Gabriel was amazed at the broad smile erupting, and before he knew it, he was enveloped in his big brother's arms in the middle of a crowded café. Gabriel hugged back, disbelieving but desperate, and he was hardly even ashamed that his eyes were wet when they finally parted.
“Gabriel... my God, it's been.... way too long,” Raphael said, his voice low and full and familiar to Gabriel as if no time had passed.
“Raffi. It's... it's really good to see you.”
“And you, baby bro. Come, sit down. I would have ordered something for you, but I have no idea what you even like these days.”
“Same as always. Sugar with a few drops of coffee in it,” Gabriel said lightly, willing himself to not be a weirdo about this, despite the fact that his mind was still reeling over how happy Raphael was to see him.
Raphael chuckled and waved down a waitress for their orders. After she was gone, Gabriel realized that they were basically just sitting there, watching each other. It had been twenty years and they had both changed so much. And yet, not really at all. Gabriel was scrabbling around for some way to ease into the conversation, but before he knew what he was doing, words tumbled out.
“Why did you leave?”
Raphael didn't even look surprised. He just smiled sadly and sighed. “Yes, I suppose I owe you a lot of answers.”
Gabriel huffed. “I actually sort of assumed I owed you some. After all, I'm the one responsible for ripping our family apart.”
Raphael snorted. “Anyone who ever knew Anna would know that she would have gone out with or without you that night.”
“It was still me at the wheel,”Gabriel said weakly.
“Yet the only guilty party here is the bastard who thought driving drunk was a great idea,” Raphael said firmly, keeping his eyes locked on Gabriel's.
“But if it wasn't because of me, then why did you leave? The way you looked at me... I was so sure I drove you away.”
Raphael sighed again and rubbed a hand across his face. “I so dearly wish I'd done things differently. But I was half mad with grief myself and after listening to Michael and Luke bickering over the damn company through the entire funeral... I just couldn't do it anymore. Dad might as well have been dead already for how little he cared about anything at that point. And I...”
He looked away, uncomfortable.
“I suppose I always wanted something different. Michael always knew he was going to take over the company, and Luke, I suspect just always wanted Dad's attention somehow. I never really understood what was going on in your head, and Anna... well. I don't think she ever had any ambition beyond turning eighteen and getting out of that house.
“I don't know if you're old enough to remember this, but back when Mom was alive, Dad had plans for all of us. We were all supposed to join the company under Michael's management, but when Mom died... it was like he just didn't care anymore. She had wanted a family. I'm starting to think that what Dad wanted was an army, but I don't think he realized how little any of it mattered without her. So after Mom died, it all just fell to Michael.”
Gabriel nodded. Some of this was news to him, but even he remembered the many times they had all been met with a closed door when they looked to their father for guidance, leaving a young Michael to take the reins.
“I never actually thought you'd end up joining the company,” Raphael continued. “Not in a million years. What changed?”
“I guess... after Anna and... well, you...” Gabriel had to swallow hard to keep his voice working. “And then Dad dying... it felt like I was losing all of you. All I had left was Michael and Luke and the company.” He laughed hollowly. “I did try to leave once. Only once. Right after graduation. I don't know if you've ever seen Michael and Luke on the same side, but lemme tell ya... it's terrifying. And if there's one thing they seem to agree on, it is that I'm the one responsible for destroying our family.”
Raphael caught Gabriel's eye again, looking old and burdened.
“I am so very sorry I left you with them. If I had known it would be like this I would have offered to take you with me. But at the time, all I could see was how they cared only for their inheritance, and you... you were so quiet. If I'd been less self-absorbed, I would have realized how out of character that was for you.”
“I guess we were all out of it,” Gabriel said diplomatically.
“That still doesn't excuse Michael and Luke laying all the blame on you.” Raphael gave Gabriel a look. He'd forgotten how intense his brother's eyes could be. “They're still doing it. Aren't they?”
Gabriel shifted uneasily. “Not in so many words...”
“And yet, you're still cleaning up their messes. I've kept updated on what's going on in the company and it seems the only people who are unaware of how destructive their behavior is are Michael and Luke.” Raphael reached out and touched the back of Gabriel's hand. “Why do you stay with them?”
“Because they're all the family I have left,” Gabriel said, well aware that his voice was unsteady. But Raphael's hand closed around his own in a steady hold and offered a brief squeeze of reassurance.
* * *
And just like that, a million things changed. Gabriel felt almost sick with how everything he thought he knew was turned on its head. In the end it left him feeling even more fucked up than he'd ever felt before, and that was the last push he needed to find himself some help. With Raphael at his back, it became easier to ignore how his mind screamed at him that it was all pointless and would never bring Anna back or make him less guilty. But still, Gabriel would probably never have set foot in a therapist's office ever again, had it not been for Sam.
Every time Gabriel started telling himself that it was all a load of crap and that a goddamn shrink wouldn't change anything, he remembered how Sam had kept the door open for him. Forcibly so. Even as Gabriel was pushing him away, Sam had still reached out. And damn it all, Gabriel so dearly wished he had something to offer in return.
He came home from his first therapy session in over a decade drained but determined. He turned on his cell phone for the first time in days, dialed, and after one ring it was picked up.
“Milton Enterprises, Gabriel Milton's office, how can I help you?”
“Oh my God, you're alive! I swear, one more day with your phone off and I would have made the cops break into your apartment! Jesus Christ, Michael and Luke are having complete shit fits all the goddamn time, and do you know who they complain to?! That's right, me! So unless you're calling to tell me you're coming back right the fuck now, or at the very least that you're paying me some serious overtime, then I quit!”
Gabriel blinked, while Ava puffed angry breaths into the phone.
“How would you like a new job instead?”
“You're firing me?!” she shrieked.
“No, I'm offering you a completely different job. One where you'll never have to answer to Michael or Luke ever again.”
“... for real?!”
“Yup. But first I need your help.”
* * *
“Want me to go in with you?” Ava asked, a warm hand carefully on Gabriel's arm as they both hovered outside Michael Milton's office.
“Thanks, but no. This is something I have to do on my own. It's a family matter,” Gabriel said, mentally suiting up for what would no doubt be the biggest showdown of his life. “But I'll probably need you to drag me to a bar afterwards, and pour booze in me until I pass out.”
“Sure, I can do that. In fact, I think it's kinda my job now.”
“Or at least it will be in about ten minutes. Personal Assistant To An Out-Of-Work Bum does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?”
“Better than Official Booze Fetcher,” she snorted.
With a final sigh, Gabriel squared his shoulders and straightened his back. “If I'm not back in twenty, call the cops. There's at least a 50/50 chance that Michael will kill me.”
“You can do this,” Ava said firmly and pushed him towards the tinted glass doors. He knocked shortly before entering and closing the door firmly behind him.
Ava leaned back against the wall and crossed her arms over her chest, prepared to wait for however long it took. But it was barely five minutes before the door swung open and Gabriel came back out, pale and jittery. He grabbed her elbow and dragged her with him at a fast pace.
“Come on, let's go.”
“O...kay, sure. I know you said you were gonna need a drink, but where's the fire?” she asked, as he pulled her along so fast she had to break into a slow run to keep up.
“Here, in about ten seconds,” he said, out of breath.
There was a muffled pop from the office behind them, and then Gabriel started laughing, a hysterical note to it. Ava looked back just before they turned the corner at the end of the corridor, and caught a glimpse of smoke creeping out from under the glass doors.
“You didn't actually just set fire to Michael's office?!” she asked, horrified.
“No!” Gabriel said indignantly. “No, I just gifted his pompous ass with a decades-overdue stink bomb that will make this entire floor smell like rotten eggs in a few minutes, so I strongly suggest you run!”
They made a break for the elevators and as the doors slid shut behind them, Ava couldn't help but laugh as well. “Are you out of your mind?!”
“You know... for the first time in years, I'm starting to think I might not be.
<<<Back to Chapter 10. Onwards to Chapter 12.>>>