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It's a Wonderful Life (Really, it is)

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For absolutely no reason at all, Lucifer finds himself staring out the window at the thin blanket of snow covering the street and the rooftops. It's dark enough that the sky and a lot of the snow is more of a dull, dark gray than white, though the snow surrounding the street lamps is illuminated and shining in a way that taps into what little nostalgia Lucifer has about this holiday.

It's only snowing lightly for now, but it's bound to start getting heavier soon, and he starts worrying about whether Sam can make it home safely. Not that he hasn't been worrying for the past hour or so.

Assuring himself that everything will be fine because it always is (it might be the existential narcissism talking, but he's always been just so sure that nothing could happen to either of them) and figuring that he ought to wait at least another half-hour before calling, Lucifer tries to get his mind off things. He resigns himself to picking up a music box that's sitting on a nearby shelf and turning the key on the bottom so that it plays that song from The Nutcracker, and promptly heading to the kitchen to make himself another mug of hot chocolate.

In the middle of filling up a measuring cup of water to put into the microwave, the sound of tiny, fast footsteps infiltrate the kitchen, followed by a little girl's voice saying, "Papa, when's Daddy going to be home?"

Lucifer feels his daughter's hand tugging on his shirt and looks down, trying not to frown too much at the concern on her face.

"He'll be home soon, Lilith," he tells her, putting the water in the microwave and setting it to go for three minutes. "Daddy's just running a little late. He has a lot of work to do. And you know what, you should really be getting to bed, come on—"

"But Spongebob's not over!" she protests, jumping once and pouting her lip, causing Lucifer to stop in his tracks.

"Then why aren't you watching it?"

"A commercial's on."

He sighs. "Fine. Go finish Spongebob and then it's bedtime—and no, no more cookies. The sugar will keep you from falling asleep and the rest are for Santa and Daddy when he gets home."

Lilith nods and runs back out of the kitchen, her pigtails whipping the air behind her as she goes. It's really odd, how much she looks Lucifer even though they aren't at all related (to the point that people usually assume he and Sam had a surrogate mother with his sperm)—they didn't even really have a choice in adopting her. She was quite literally dropped off at their doorstep five years ago and they made the compulsive decision to keep her, and though they don't regret the decision at all, they never would have willfully made the choice to adopt by themselves.

It's nearly 10 o'clock p.m. and she normally would have been in bed two hours ago, but hey, it's Christmas Eve, so why not let her stay up. She insisted on watching all the cartoon Christmas specials anyway. Lucifer's only disappointed because she knows that Lilith will be upset to not have her taller dad home to tuck her in tonight.

God, he really hopes Sam is okay. He refuses to let his mind stray to the possibility of a wreck on the way home due to the snow—though he does think about how Sam has been off lately. How he's had two trips to the doctor this month after not going at all for nearly a year. And how he hasn't been in the mood for sex for over a week, now. Lucifer knows it's something to do with his job and some kind of stress and so far he's respected that Sam doesn't want to talk about it, but he's worried.

He's not one for prayer—he never has been, and he's always thought the concept was pretty stupid—but Lucifer can't help but think a silent wish out to some higher power that Sam is okay.

And it might just be a weird trick of the light, but he swears, as he glances out the window right then, that he can see a falling star.


 

Nearly every child he can see is holding a candy cane. A large group of people are all holding bells. So is a mall Santa who seems to be on break. Everyone in the small cafes he passes are holding some kind of warm drink.

And in his hands, Sam is holding a briefcase in one and an empty bottle of medication in the other.

His somewhat inebriated mind eventually comes to the conclusion that he should just throw that away. So he does, and he misses a trashcan by half a foot. There are surely some dirty and/or pitiful looks being thrown his way, but he doesn't care.

It's funny, though. If he were going home drunk with a group of other men, people wouldn't judge him nearly as much. That's normal. But he's alone, and who the hell goes home drunk on Christmas Eve, alone?

Except he's not going home. Not right now. He can't stand the thought of Lucifer seeing him like this—no matter how many times he saw him like this before, long ago when they hadn't been together very long, when they were just two lost men helping each other out. Now he's a lost man again and it's not something Lucifer can help him with. The power of love can't save this.

Sam is feeling very self-destructive tonight. He did exactly what the label on his depression pills said not to do and took the last two with alcohol, and at the very most he can be commended for not actually getting shit-faced. He's still walking straight. Or at least he thinks so. And he walks hopefully-straight all the way back to his office at the law firm because it's the only place he has to go.

The sound the door makes when he shoves it open and subsequently slams it shut seems to reflect his current dejection and hopelessness, and he feels much more comfortable with it than all the lights outside that completely contradict everything inside him.

Everything is just ruined. Things were fine for Sam until about two months ago, when he was assigned to the prosecution of charging someone with rape and murder. The case should have been ridiculously easy—that man, Alastair, was so obviously guilty. Not to mention just creepy-looking enough that people would be inclined to find him guilty just on principle.

But Sam fucked up. A tiny logical fallacy in his case and that sick man was back on the streets, along with a guarantee that Sam would never be hired by the State again and what might as well have been a big red X on his reputation.

He wanted to blame the U.S. government for being a piece of shit that lets criminals go on technicalities. He still does, really. But when Sam was going through law school, he was prepared for that. Back then he decided to be the one to overcome that system and to do what lawyers were really supposed to do and bring justice.

But he couldn't do that, could he? He couldn't. He couldn't fucking do it, and he couldn't even get back on his feet after all this time—a single trial since Alastair, and it was only company based and he fucked that one up too.

Now there's been word going around the office that he's going to get fired. Not just for the trials, but for negligence in general. The mental breakdown he had the other day. It's no one's fault but Sam's and he hates himself for it.

He's still drunk, but not so much as before. He's standing in an elevator and the music vaguely resembles Jingle Bells but that might just be the alcohol tricking him, or maybe it's just the ringing in his ears and there isn't any music at all. He wants to kick all the buttons and jam them so the elevator falls and he gets stuck. He doesn't.

Sam is vaguely relieved that his office has solid walls instead of glass like some of those higher up because he really, really does not want anyone to see him right now. Not when he's so full of booze and self-loathing.

It's happening all over again, isn't it? With how he always blamed himself for his mom's death as a kid and thought he was a burden on his family (because his dad definitely always looked at him like he was). And though he got over those feelings years ago it all feels like it only just happened—and now he's fallen right back into them. Everything is always his fault and if he can't even do what he's supposed to do and get any clients anymore, what is he even worth?

Whatever's going to happen to him, whether it be dismissal or bankruptcy, it's not going to happen tonight. It would be a few days at the very least. Sam could go home right now and kiss Lucifer and put Lilith's presents under the tree for her and have a good Christmas and let his consequences come later.

But he won't. He can't. He simply can't go home and face Lucifer and tell him that he could get fired, that he could even be sued and they could lose the house soon because it's in his name and he'll be flat out of money after January is over. He doesn't even want to think about the possible look of dejection—and maybe disappointment?—on Lucifer's face. He loves him too damn much.

There I go again, Sam thinks as his head and arms slam down on his desk, just running away from my problems.

He doesn't think he'll ever be able to stop running away. There's nothing to fight back with, so how can he?

And those words keep surrounding his head like a chant that someone else is repeating to him. Worthless. Your fault. Just run.

Sam pushes himself up and looks around at the papers scattered all over his desk like they might hold some deeper meaning or an answer for him. They don't, of course. And then he stands up and crosses the room and opens a desk drawer to look inside like it might hold an answer for him. It does. And it's in the shape of a gun.

His mind is growing clearer and more sober by the second, but he isn't becoming any less sure that he wants to do this. With hazy eyes and fumbling fingers, he cocks it and checks to make sure it's loaded, and in the moment before he starts to bring the end of the barrel to his mouth, he feels tears start to push their way out of his eyes and he just wishes he had never been born

"Sam, don't."

He feels a gasp tighten in his throat and very nearly drops the gun. If his finger had been on the trigger, he might have been surprised enough to pull it on accident.

The shock runs cold through his body and seems to start his heart back up, and he twists around where he stands to see that the voice he heard belongs to the face he recognized it from. And he's standing by the desk, eyebrows knitted together in mostly professional concern.

"Lu-lucifer?" he stutters out, either due to the alcohol or the shock. Or both. "How did you—?"

"I'm not Lucifer," the man who, he then supposes, looks very much like his boyfriend, says. And then he tilts his head like he's changing his mind. "Well, technically I am. The real one, not your boyfriend."

Sam blinks. Either he's hallucinating or Lucifer is drunk, too.

"And when you say 'the real one'... you mean—?"

"Yes." Not-but-actual-Lucifer steps forward and folds his arms. "Lucifer as in the one you all call Satan, or the Devil. The first and biggest and most powerful archangel ever made. The Morningstar. Bringer of Light. Yes, I am. I just took this form because I figured it would make you more comfortable. Now put down the gun, Sam."

Before he can even process the thought enough to take action, Lucifer reaches forward and grabs the barrel of the gun, and then sets it down gently on the drawer behind him. When Sam glances down again in the next second, it's gone, and now he's really starting to think he's gone crazy.

"Assuming that this isn't all just one really weird hallucination brought on by mixing alcohol with medication," Sam finally says after a few more seconds of straightening his body out and taking this all in, "why are you here? Why did the Devil have to come and keep me from ending it?"

Lucifer sighs and gives him an annoyed look. "Because I'm still an angel, Sam. You've even had this talk with your boyfriend before—about how I'm not all bad and I had good ideas and that the way I'm portrayed is vastly unfair. So I really don't know why you're surprised." Sam supposes he's right, but he still has an expectant look because Lucifer hasn't answered his question yet. "I'm your guardian angel. Your boyfriend's, too—surprise, right? You're special. Not that many people are put under my gaze because I'm the one who chooses them instead of my bitch of a dad. He was like yours, really. Anyway, the short of it is that you're not supposed to die tonight. Of course, that's your choice, but there's plans for you and I would hate for you to ruin them without being educated."

"And... you're saving me out of the goodness of your heart?" Lucifer gives him another look, but Sam continues before he can get sass in return. "I mean, I know you're misunderstood and all. But I figured you would be more... I dunno, bitter about this sort of thing. Why do you choose people when we're the reason you fell?"

At that, the Lucifer-who-is-still-quite-possibly-a-hallucination looks almost impressed. "To be fair, Sam, you're one of about six since the start of the 1900s. It's really not many at all. And who knows, maybe one day God will give me my wings back and let me back into Heaven."

With a smirk and a pat on Sam's back, the two of them are suddenly somewhere else entirely.

"Holy—" Sam stumbles from the sudden shift of balance, and Lucifer catches him by his shoulder, expression casual. They just transported to some neighborhood in the suburbs that can't possibly be anywhere near Detroit because there's not a hint of snow (this really must be a dream, and if it's not, then holy shit), and this is apparently no big deal. "How the hell did we—where are we?" he settles on asking, a million other questions floating to the surface of his mind.

Lucifer mostly ignores him and just turns to look at what's in front of them. "Recognize the house, Sam?"

He looks the place up and down but can't find a single trace of it in his memory. "No."

"Of course you don't, because you just got your wish—you were never born. Now let's see who's living in it, shall we?"

That doesn't leave Sam any less confused, and when Lucifer starts walking up the steps and opening the door without even knocking, he's about to hiss out of his teeth that you can't just go into people's houses (maybe he doesn't know that, as an angel?)—and as though on cue, he turns around to assure him, "Don't worry, no one can see us, here. Most angels make it interactive when they do stuff like this, but I find that pointless. We're in a reality that technically doesn't even really exist, so why bother?"

There's just enough logic in that statement to get Sam to trust him and follow him inside.

The woman watching some old Christmas movie while sitting on the couch doesn't even turn to look in their general direction as they walk in. Lucifer stops in his tracks, and it takes Sam a moment to really see her.

At first he can't really place it, but then it's all there and it's obvious—she's the woman in all those pictures with his dad, whom he never had the chance to meet because she died when he was six months old.

"Mom?" He breathes the word in awe because he always thought he'd have to be dead before he got to meet her. Slowly, he sits down on the couch next to her, wary and nervous despite Lucifer having told him that no one could see them here. The couch cushion still dips under his weight, and she doesn't notice that, either.

She's definitely a lot older than she was in the pictures, but still beautiful—and that's when it hits him. This is modern day in a reality where he was never born.

"...My mom is alive," he chokes out, jerking his head over to Lucifer with the stress of that last word. "If I had never been born, my mom would still be alive. Which means it all really was my fault. Why the fuck did you think this would make me feel better?"

"Yes, you were the reason she died," Lucifer tells him calmly, though the patience is wearing out of his voice. "But that doesn't make it your fault. You were a baby, and you were woken up, so naturally, you cried. And like any good mother, Mary woke up to take care of you and it just so happened that night that there was an intruder in the house. It was a home invasion gone wrong and you can't be blamed for crying."

That doesn't make Sam feel much less at fault, but his rage calms down a bit. After a moment, he decides he can't really bear just staring at his mother anymore and stands up.

"So is that it?"

"Certainly not. Take a look around the house."

Instead of leading him anywhere, he simply stands there and waits for Sam to start walking on his own. It's kind of annoying at this point, not to mention just plain weird because he's looking at his boyfriend's face and yet it's not actually him.

There are framed pictures on top of the mantle, and the first one is a young Dean with Mary. Sam grimaces, thinking about how much happier his brother must have grown up without him holding him back. But then the next one is of his mother smiling next to a man he's never seen before. The first thing he assumes is that he's a brother whom he never met because John never spent any time around his deceased wife's family.

"Maybe you should go upstairs," comes Lucifer's voice from right behind him as he sets the picture down—and Sam nearly jumps because he didn't even hear him walk up. Maybe that's an angel thing, he figures.

I'm really believing all of this, aren't I? Sam lightly shakes his head in disbelief at himself, but then supposes that this all feels much too real to be a dream. He's never been skeptical before, so why start now?

So he takes Lucifer's advice and starts up the staircase, heart thumping a bit deeper with every step he ascends. It's uncertain whether that's from anxiousness or exercise. And though he doesn't hear it, he's sure that Lucifer is following behind.

This is the house that Dean got to grow up in, in this reality. Sam imagines his big brother never having to live a life on the road and instead getting to run up and down these stairs until Mary yelled at him to stop. And he feels another twist in his chest.

The second floor has an office, and Sam guesses it would have been a second bedroom to the one he noticed downstairs. His own bedroom, maybe, had he been born in this reality. Then there's a bathroom, and... the master bedroom. And he can tell because there's a large bed and a grown man sleeping in it, and that man is neither Dean nor John.

A lump rises in his throat as he asks, not even looking over at the angel behind him. "Who's that?—Where's my dad?"

Lucifer sighs, and the small breath holds emotion again. So does the firm hand that wraps around his arm. "What Dean and John never told you, Sam, is that your parents' marriage was never perfect until Mary died. Because it was only then that John had an excuse to become the obsessed bastard that he was. Beforehand he spent plenty of time sleeping at friends' houses while he and Mary were fighting—not to mention screaming at her for stupid reasons and presumably cheating on her. It sounds pretty awful either way, but in your reality, Mary's death gave John a sense of purpose. She never died here, so their fighting eventually ended in a divorce, and Mary got remarried to Thomas Bailey."

He gestures to the half-naked man partially buried under blankets, and Sam just nods. He would ask if his mom is happy married to this guy but can't bring himself to. He doesn't really want to know.

The look on his face very clearly says I've seen enough here, and with a tight grip to his arm and what sounds like the flutter of wings, they're inside an entirely different house.

"Is this where my dad lives, now?" Sam guesses, his tone dropping to just completely unamused as he looks around at the empty beer cans littered everywhere.

"Who else could it be?" Lucifer says, as though intentionally voicing Sam's thoughts. Without a single warning they've gone somewhere else again—except they haven't. It's the same exact place, but just a different time. It's about midday and John is standing on one side of the room, an unrecognizable woman on the other.

"I didn't have a son with you so he could just grow up and throw his life away!" she says, sounding close to tears. Sam looks back and forth between them awkwardly, forgetting for the moment that they can't see him.

"What—?"

"Joining the military isn't throwing his life away, Kate," John yells back, cutting Sam off. "He wants to be like his dad—why is that so bad to you?"

"This is yesterday afternoon, when John and his wife Kate were fighting," Lucifer answers over the other two in the room ("I don't want him to die—I don't want him to go off and end up like your son with that other woman!"). "And yes, this happens often. They don't really have the happiest of marriages."

They continue yelling back and forth, and something twists in Sam's gut but he can't pinpoint what it is.

"So my dad went and had another son in this universe?"

"Yes. His name is Adam and he would be about six years your junior right now. John was, in all honesty, a better father to him than he ever was to you or Dean, but he never quite had the emotional conviction here than he did with you two. Mary never died, so John never had that sense of purpose. He never quite appreciated her the same and he grew into the abusive man he is now through bitterness rather than obsession."

The words hit Sam but don't seem to find him right away. They slowly seep in while he continues to watch John and Kate fight, and then he really understands. He doesn't want to believe it—he'd much rather have the easier option of just believing everyone would be better off without him—but he can't really help it.

His eyebrows knit together and he lets go of a breath in understanding before turning to Lucifer, who is still entirely calm, and asking, "How did Dean turn out without me?"

The question comes out with more concern than he intended, and the slight grimace that plays on Lucifer's lips only strengthens it. Rather than giving him even the beginnings of a verbal answer, he extends his hand with a silent I'll show you.

Sam definitely hears wings flutter this time, and he even feels a strong gust of wind on his back when he closes his eyes and gets taken somewhere else.

It's... a nearly empty field. It doesn't stretch too far, but there are no people around and the only thing obstructing the view is a large black obelisk surrounded by flowers. Sam can tell that, not too far away, there are several rows of headstones and it clicks. He just refuses to acknowledge it for the moment.

"Do I even need to bother telling you that Dean's name is on that obelisk?" is all Lucifer says, and he does it softly. Sam shakes his head.

He doesn't even know why he's getting so sad—this isn't even real. It's a completely separate universe and nothing more than some kind of simulation, if not a dream or hallucination. But his throat closes up as he approaches the obelisk and reaches a hand out to skim over the glassy surface until he finds an etched Dean Winchester, 1979-2010. Missing in action, presumed dead.

He hasn't talked to his brother much lately back in his own reality, but they're still close. They still visit each other on almost every holiday. And he still remembers how Dean might as well have raised him right up until he went to college.

He's supposed to visit with Castiel for Christmas, isn't he? Sam barely even thought about that when he was downing pills with whiskey or pointing a gun towards himself. But just like how he felt while getting drunk, he just can't shake the feeling that Dean wouldn't be all that upset. Sure, he'd be lost for some time, but Dean needs to learn how to live without him.

Sam doesn't even realize how long he's been staring at the name and his reflection in the obelisk until he sees Lucifer come up behind him in the glass.

"Dean was happy for a lot of his life," he says quietly. It makes Sam feel more confused than better. "There was never any pressure from John to sacrifice himself for you at every turn. He was raised by a loving mother and even got to go to college, and he got married and had a son. But because you weren't there to introduce him to Castiel, they never met. And you also weren't there to offer acceptance, so the part of him that was interested in men stayed repressed. He and his wife Lisa were happy, but Dean couldn't quite find a purpose for himself without a little brother to look after or the man he was supposed to be with. So he enrolled in the military and told Lisa that he'd been drafted to keep her from getting angry."

The word purpose catches him, and Sam feels like it just isn't right.

If his purpose was always to suffer because of me, then doesn't that mean I exist just to be a burden?

"No, it doesn't," Lucifer says sternly, taking a handful of Sam's shirt and turning him around much like the way his Lucifer would—the only difference is that he doesn't kiss him. For some reason it didn't occur to Sam that the angel would read his mind. "Everyone suffers over other people. That doesn't make it anyone's fault. Dean struggled while growing up—you both did. But now he has a husband and he's happier than ever, and you are the one who caused that. Understand?"

There's a sort of wrath behind the angel's eyes that Sam finds intimidating, and if he wasn't stubborn he might be shrinking away. And he nods.

Then Lucifer's eyes fall to Sam's chest, as though judging the feeling inside it and deciding whether there's truly enough understanding in it or not. And he seems to realize that there is still a substantial amount of worry and self-loathing over the whole lawyer business in there—the bullet that never managed to make it into his mouth is lodged in Sam's heart like he still feels it's destined to be in there.

After some time, Lucifer sighs and grabs his hand. "Taking depression medication with alcohol was really stupid of you, Sam."

It's much less of a surprise, this time, when his feet leave the ground for a split second and land in a place hundreds of miles away. The only surprise is that what surrounds him is mostly pearl-white, and the sudden change of lighting makes his eyes hurt. So it takes a few seconds for him to register where they are.

"Is this... a mental hospital?" he asks slowly, frowning and looking sadly around at all the patients. Again, Lucifer seems to have thrown them back a few hours in time, for it's only dim outside the windows.

"Yes," is all the angel answers. It's obvious he wants Sam to figure things out for himself from here.

"Who are—?"

"I think you know who, Sam."

He pauses and stares at Lucifer for another few seconds, refusing to let his eyes stray. Yes, he knows, but he doesn't want to acknowledge it right away.

Finally, Sam twists around swiftly and searches the room again—but there's no one he recognizes. Vaguely, and somewhat unconsciously, he realizes that this reality's version of his boyfriend must be in a different room. In his distress and simultaneous need to know what's going on, he groans and starts walking off towards the hallway.

He has no idea how he does it other than that they really are soulmates and he just knows, but Sam doesn't need direction. He simply walks, with Lucifer trailing behind, until he makes it to a door that's slightly open. And he's almost too afraid to push it further.

Two orderlies are on either side of the bed, holding Lucifer—his Lucifer—down on the bed while he fights and strains, and he looks absolutely terrified of the doctor who's struggling to inject him with something. Not angry, but terrified, like he sees something that isn't there. Like he's scared for his fucking life.

"Get off of him!"—Sam can't help it, he really can't, he knows they can't see or hear him, but he shouts and runs and tries to shove the orderlies out of the way because this is Lucifer and he loves him—but his hand goes right through. And when he nearly falls, he just catches himself and stumbles out of the room back into the hall because he can't bear to watch this anymore.

He doesn't even ask why this all happened right away, which is partially because he already knows, on some level. Instead of waiting for an explanation, Sam passes through the events in his mind—how he and Lucifer met, and what would happen if they never did.

Lucifer was homeless and living near Stanford, and funnily enough, they met while Lucifer was about to mug him. Lucky Sam was sympathetic and wanted to help him, wasn't it? (Though really it was just lucky that Lucifer stopped when he most certainly had a chance to keep going. Sam never believes it but Lucifer still tells him all the time that he was simply too beautiful for him to hurt.)

So in this reality, no one was ever like Sam. No one ever showed Lucifer compassion and no one gave him a place to stay so he wouldn't have to live on the streets and commit crimes anymore. No one found him a job and took him to the doctor and got him medication for the issues he clearly had. No one sat and listened to his life story or told him they were sorry but they didn't pity him or pulled the blankets up over him and held him the whole night. No one ever kissed him over and over again until they were both raw, and no one, clearly, needed him.

Sam needs him. Right now, as he's slumping against the wall of a mental hospital that doesn't exist and holding his head over his knees, he needs Lucifer badly.

"He needs you, too," comes the angel-Lucifer's voice, and once again, Sam doesn't hear him sit down with him. "He never mugged you, and so he mugged someone else and got arrested instead. Once he got out of prison, he started doing drugs—which is a horrible idea when you're already on the schizotypal spectrum like he is. Everything got worse and the next time he attacked someone, he was deemed insane by prison psychologists and has been in here ever since. He's one of the few in here committed by the state and not by himself or family."

When Sam finishes processing all of this and finally looks up at him again, he gets two hands on his shoulders and blue eyes boring directly into his.

"Believe me when I say that you and Lucifer were literally made for each other, Sam. No matter what life you two end up in, no matter what the situation, you will always find each other. It simply can't happen any other way."

Sam feels like he's always known this but has just never had anyone to tell him directly. He loves Lucifer and he most certainly doesn't want to leave him, but he was afraid that it would end up happening anyway if he lost his job. And now... all of that just seems like a really petty problem.

The sounds of the Lucifer of this reality struggling have quieted, and for all Sam knows, the room might have gone away entirely. The whole hospital doesn't even really exist.

"And Lilith?" he finally wonders out loud as he pushes his back against the wall and strains to stand back up. "How did she end up?" It's more curiosity than concern, now.

"She's in foster care," Lucifer tells him calmly. "But, ah—I don't think I should show you. There are some things you'll need to figure out for yourself once you go back."

Before Sam can even open his mouth to say another word, there's a hand on his arm for a split second and then he's not standing anymore, but instead slouched over a desk. His eyes open slowly to a much darker room than the hallway he was just in—it's his office. Lucifer sent him back.

As he bolts upward to a sitting position, a couple papers stick to his face and come up with him. With hazy vision like he's been asleep all this time, he pulls them off and looks around at the room, half-expecting Lucifer to be there. But he isn't—there's no trace of him. The drawer he pulled the gun from is closed and nothing seems to have changed except that the clock reads a bit after midnight.

Midnight. And that's when he thinks, I need to get home.

Thoughts of being fired and going bankrupt are all lost to him as he practically kicks his chair down to get around the desk and out of the office as fast as possible. He runs down the hallway and impatiently jams the down button on the elevator and just keeps running until he gets to the still-decorated streets outside. A slight, vague suspicion that everything that just happened was simply a dream occurs to him, but he doesn't care. All he cares about is whistling for a taxi and getting home as soon as possible.

He doesn't resist being cliche and telling the taxi driver to step on it, and the taxi driver seems to have proper Christmas spirit because he does.

"Late getting back to your wife?" he asks conversationally.

Normally Sam might say "Yeah," or "Something like that," but tonight he couldn't give less of a shit what the taxi driver might think. So he responds, proudly, "My boyfriend, actually."

Within fifteen minutes the taxi pulls up in front of his house and he shoves two twenties into the driver's hands without asking for change, slamming the car door behind him and running up to the front door breathless. When he works the key in and opens it swiftly, Lucifer jumps from where he was presumably falling asleep on the couch.

"Sam? What—?"

But before Lucifer can ask why he's so late, Sam crosses the room in two heavy strides and bends down to pick him up from the couch and hug him tightly. The relief that bubbles up in his chest is almost painful, and he decides unconsciously not to tell his boyfriend that he almost died tonight. At least not now.

"Lucifer—fuck, I'm so sorry that I'm so late, and I'm sorry that I've been weird lately, I just—"

"I tried to call you three times and you didn't pick up," he interrupts, pulling back from the tight hug so he can see Sam's face. And Sam can just barely see his concerned expression by the light of whatever Christmas special is on the TV and the lights on the tree. "What happened?"

"I—I had a lot of work," he lies, feeling only slightly guilty about it. "And I was really stressed and in a dark place and I got a little drunk but I know I shouldn't have, and I passed out for an hour or so. But I'm okay now. I'm sorry."

And even though he really has only been gone that long, having visited a reality where everything was backwards kind of fucked him up and he feels like he's been missing him. So he moves his hands from Lucifer's back to his face and kisses him in a way that's too obviously desperate. He keeps kissing him until his chest is flushed warm, and until—

"Daddy!"

The soft thumping of little feet make their way down the hallway and Lilith comes running to them in excitement. Lucifer opens his mouth to tell her that she should be in bed but Sam steps away and kneels down to let her jump into his arms anyway.

"Hey honey, I'm so sorry I couldn't make it earlier—Daddy had a lot of work to do."

"That's okay. We made cookies!" she tells him, unwrapping her little arms from around his neck. "Papa left some for you. Merry Christmas, Daddy!"

Sam grins and kisses her on the cheek before letting her go. "Merry Christmas, Lilith."

"Do I get a Merry Christmas, too?" Lucifer smirks, and Sam stands up again laughing and promptly leans in to slide his hands around his waist.

He presses his lips to Lucifer's and smiles against them, murmuring "Merry Christmas" as he pulls away. Meanwhile their daughter is left staring at them with a scrunched-up look.

"Eeeew..."

"Okay, time for you to go back to bed," Lucifer says in his most fatherly voice, and she seems to be about to protest until she sees Sam agreeing. "You can open presents when we all wake up, okay?"

Shoulders slumped in childish disappointment, Lilith gives a resentful "Okay" and then runs off to her bedroom so she can get to sleep as soon as possible. Sam will never understand six-year-old-logic.

"So." Lucifer inches closer to him and puts his hands on Sam's chest. "One of the other guys at your firm called for you because you weren't picking up your cellphone, but you weren't here, so I said you would call him back."

"I'll call him back tomorrow," Sam says without thinking, taking Lucifer's hands and sliding them around to his back so he can wrap his arms around him as well. Smiling stupidly, he lets their noses bump together and then peppers his boyfriend's mouth with kisses, slowly letting his hands slide down to gently cup his ass. "Mmm... let's make a baby."

Lucifer just laughs into his mouth and monotones, "You know that's physically impossible."

"Then let's keep going until it miraculously happens. It is Christmas, after all."

Both of them laugh and they don't hear the draft blow in and make the bell decorations ring, but somewhere, while Sam carries Lucifer to the bedroom, there's an angel who is one step closer to making it home. And in the morning Sam will call that guy back and find out that the Alastair case has been re-opened due to new evidence and he'll be utterly relieved, but right now his mind is the farthest from that.