i can smell the fanfiction. 

They’re back in the bunker when Sam finds out.

He’s looking at the worn spines of the books in their library when Dean pulls out his phones, playing his new voice mails on speaker phone so Sam can hear too.  They’re all from Cas, and the only thing more endearing than that fact is the way Dean’s hard expression softens by about one degree.  Sam’s more or less tuned out as he selects one ragged book and the final voice mail plays.

When he hears the voice, his fingers freeze and the book falls to the floor, forgotten.

Because that’s not Cas.  That’s Gabriel.  It’s been years since he’s heard that voice, but there’s no mistaking the snide tone, and suddenly Sam’s heart is pounding in his chest as if he’s been running for miles.  Gabriel is alive and was with Cas?  How the hell did Cas fail to mention this?

Chancing a look at Dean, Sam sees the confusion on his brother’s face too, all softness replaced by jagged lines and hard edges.  

"That’s -" Dean starts.

"Gabriel," Sam finishes, his voice almost cracking. "Yeah."

Dean calls Cas, who picks up on the first ring.

"Dean, we -"

"Later, Cas.  Explain to me why the hell I’ve got a voice mail from the frickin’ Trickster," Dean all but growls, and Sam runs his tongue across his lips as he stares at the phone with unnecessary tenacity.

Cas is silent for a beat, and Sam wants to scream.

"It wasn’t him," Cas says, almost a sigh.  "Metatron somehow made it seem like Gabriel was with me, but it was an illusion."

"So he’s dead?" Sam asks, and he hates the way his voice sounds so hollow.  Dean shoots him a look, but Sam cannot look away from the phone on the table.

"I don’t know," Cas says, and he sounds tired, so tired. "Most likely, but I cannot say for certain."

Sam’s heart plummets, and the disappointment hits him so hard, his vision swirls.  Perhaps Dean picks up on this, as he takes the phone call out of the room and closes the door.  Sam stands stock still, trying to come to terms with this discovery.

You’ve always been dead, haven’t you, Gabriel?

He thinks the lights flicker in the room, but he cannot be sure.