Actions

Work Header

Blood on my Hands

Work Text:

It’s been a week since Sam got yanked out of God knows where (and God apparently did know exactly where the cage was) and tossed right back into the Winchester lifestyle.

At first, Dean treated him like an atomic bomb about to go off. Like anything possibly related to Angels or the Apocalypse would set off something dark and ugly.

But, as the days went on, he settled back into their old routine, thankful that Dean hadn’t been able to follow through with the “apple pie life”. Thankful that Dean was still Dean and able to help him remember that he’s a human being, not a monster.

And today, as he checks their ammunition and first aid kit, Sam can’t help wondering. Wondering what the hell happened.

Where Lucifer went … where Michael is … how he’s even alive.

He doesn't remember - doesn't think he remembers anything after the moment he fell. Though there's a strange restlessness to him. A claustrophobic need for space, for movement. Like some part of him remembers being confined at least. It's worse when Dean's gone, when Sam's on his own with no one to distract him away from his own thoughts. Because that's somewhere he doesn't want to be yet, isn't ready for yet.

He doesn't know if Dean's noticed. Though he never stays away for long enough that Sam's left trying to claw his way through the furniture. He hopes to God it never gets that bad. Because he's fairly sure that's going to be a bad sign.

Still he can feel the jitteriness at the edge of his nerves when there's a knock on the door.

Sam reaches over without thinking, more relieved than anything else when he turns the knob and tugs it open.

"What did you forget your key -"

It's not Dean. Lucifer fills the doorway in a way Dean never could.

Sam jerks away from the door, too stunned to push it shut, too desperate to get away. He stumbles back, leg catching the table, sending his bag crashing to the floor and spilling its contents everywhere.

"Hello, Sam."

The devil stays where he is, doesn't follow him inside the room, doesn't take a step. Sam's the one pulling himself back. He's the one retreating into the room like that will save him.

"You can't be here. We put you back in hell."

"Well, as you can see, I'm certainly here," Lucifer replies dryly, gesturing at himself with a hand.

And he is. Solid, flesh and blood, real in a way he never had been.

The devil stays where he is, not making a move to enter the room and looking strangely ill at ease. From where Sam's currently plastered against the nearest bed, he can tell Lucifer has something clasped in his free hand, but he can't see what it is.

"Why are you here?"

He can't think of anything more intelligent to ask, considering the devil is standing on the mat of their hotel room and everyone had agreed that both Michael and Lucifer had been shoved downstairs permanently.

Lucifer gives him a slow, even look. Almost like he's trying to figure out the most pleasant way of phrasing his answer.

"Because ..." he pauses, frowning as his hand clenches on the haphazardly wrapped parcel at his side. "I want to try again."

It seems so simple, so innocuous, so innocent. Sam would almost believe him if it weren't for the fact he's talking to the devil.

"Yeah? And how exactly are you planning on going about doing that?"

Lucifer moves to step into the room, then stills, as if he realizes that wasn't in any way permission to come closer. Like he thinks he needs permission now.

As if Sam would give it. After what he did, after what he tried to do.

"I'm not here to hurt you," Lucifer says.

"You don't even know what that means," Sam tells him. Because the devil didn't think using his body was hurting him either. Didn't think making him watch through his own eyes while he burned the world - while he tried to kill his brother - was hurting him.

"I've been given an opportunity, of sorts. I've been forced to see where I'm destined to go if I insist on continuing along the path I chose for myself. I've been made to see that some of my goals were destructive, misguided."

"Misguided," Sam says stiffly, angrily. Because that doesn't even come close.

"I have gone a very long time believing what I was doing was right," Lucifer says softly.

Sam shakes his head, but no words will come. There's no explanation, no excuse that Lucifer could possibly give that would make this right. That would make Sam think any differently.

"I want to give you something." Lucifer's voice is oddly thin.

"What makes you think that I want anything you could give me?" Sam says. Still too angry to even care if Lucifer's sincere.

Lucifer lifts the package, it's long and oddly shaped, crumpled at one end like it's been squeezed by a hand that was too strong.

"Take it, and then decide if you can make use of it."

"You think," Sam begins, expression incredulous. "That I'm honestly going to just take something from you ... without having any idea what it is or why you're giving it to me?"

Lucifer gives him a conflicted expression, caught somewhere between hurt and perplexed.

"Dude ... what the hell is it?" Sam eyes the odd-shaped thing like it's about to attack him.

The Archangel cants his head, obviously uncomfortable, then he almost flinches and immediately holds the package out, acting as though something had stung him.

Lucifer keeps his eyes trained on anything but Sam, his entire frame literally vibrating with tension. "My sword," he answers quietly.

At the reply, Sam's eyes go wide and he snatches the proffered object, standing up straighter and eyeing Lucifer suspiciously.

"Why are you giving me this?" He's completely at a loss. They heard it straight from Kali when she and Gabriel were trying to outfox each other. The only weapon that can kill an Archangel is the sword of another Archangel. Why the fuck is Lucifer giving him this? What's his plan?

There's a tightening, a tension in Lucifer's body language. Sam wouldn't have noticed it if he wasn't looking. He lifts the packages he's holding. It's warm and heavy, and he knows that Lucifer isn't lying. That there really is an Archangel's sword under the twists of paper.

"Sam." Lucifer takes a step forward. Until he's inside the room, almost close enough to touch. "I have very little experience with this, with how to make amends for my actions. Of understanding why they're necessary. Why I was wrong."

"It sounds like you didn't learn much," Sam says flatly.

"Your anger is justified. But I never intended to use you as a tool, Sam. My taking you as a vessel was not meant as some sort of violation. We were supposed to be - you were supposed to understand." There's a creeping edge of frustration now.

"You, how could anyone hope to understand you?" Sam asks. He won't feel guilty for the way his voice sounds. For the threads of disgusted fury. Because he still remembers how it felt to have Lucifer inside his skin, to be completely overwhelmed.

He drags the paper of the package apart, lets it fall in two pieces while his fingers curl round the metal shape inside. It's cold and hard-edged, strangely heavy in his grip.

"What do you expect me to do with this?" he says stiffly.

Lucifer doesn't say a word.

Sam tightens his fingers, lets the sword dig in hard enough to hurt.

They stay like that for a few minutes, silent and unmoving.

Then, Sam gets up. He has no idea what he's doing, or really why he's doing it, he just knows he needs to do something before one of them makes a stupid mistake.

He's standing in front of the Angel before he fully registers what he's doing, and the sword is still in his hand.

"Is this some plea for an escape?" Sam asks quietly, voice low. "You were given a second chance you didn't want?"

Lucifer doesn't answer, but his eyes widen slightly as Sam lifts the blade and rests it against his throat, just below his Adam's apple.

"I ... I wanted to give you everything, Sam," he whispers, his voice pathetically soft and ragged. "But you don't want it ... so I had to think of something else ..."

Sam presses closer, the sharp edge of the blade digging into the Archangel's throat, resulting in the sudden bloom of crimson against Lucifer's skin. As he watches, Sam is suddenly struck by the desire to simply overwhelm the Angel, show him everything it is to be human, every visceral second of it.

Lucifer makes a quiet sound, caught somewhere between a sob and a gasp. And those alien blue eyes are wider than ever, almost terrified.

Momentarily disgusted with himself, Sam immediately yanks his hand away and moves back, shoving the sword hilt-first against Lucifer's chest and very determinedly not watching the blood trickle down the Archangel's throat.

"Take it and get the fuck out," he orders, tone rough and decided. "You're on your own."

For a moment, neither of them moves and the silence is deafening.

Then, the Angel gasps out a broken sound and disappears in a rush of displaced air, leaving only the lingering scent of untempered power in his wake.

••••••••••••••

There's no place for Lucifer to go. Nowhere in the world he ever has or ever will belong. So he settles for a place he knows. A place that he has been before, that still holds lingering traces of him. When he burned with cold fire beneath his borrowed skin. When he planned to crush everything beneath his feet. When everything was about Sam.

The body Lucifer wears is the same. But it doesn't belong to anyone but him. It holds him this time, holds his power without disintegrating under the glory of him. Like it was made just for him. For a purpose he still doesn't fully understand.

It makes no sense that he should feel as if he's left a part of himself behind. Some important piece, that went unnoticed when he was bright with fury. Some piece that leaves him feeling unsettled, raw and unfinished. In a way the promises of his Father and even the possibility of forgiveness, didn't.

He still holds his sword, and the solid manifestation of it is as bright and sharp as if ever was. Hell never managed to taint it, never shaped it into something else. It remained a wholly angelic creation. But it's still capable of rendering him as mortal as them. Of undoing him.

He thought he'd understood. He'd thought Sam was his destruction, his absolution. A mortal, a mortal he had misused to judge him. He'd hoped Sam would understand, would see why he had tried to turn the world inside out. Why he had raged, why he had disobeyed.

What does he have now? What is he supposed to do now?

The hand that holds his sword shakes and he doesn’t know why.

His hand continues to shake as the seconds tick by, and he cannot seem to stop.

There are so many emotions warring within his mind ... hopelessness, anger, betrayal, fear, and utter despair. And no matter how hard he tries, Lucifer cannot separate them, cannot contain them.

Before he even truly realizes it, he has turned the blade to face himself, the silver point eerily reflecting the weak sunlight filtering into the room.

My salvation ... was my destruction.

As the sword enters his body, just above his stomach, Lucifer crumples to his knees, gasping out oxygen he doesn't need as his vision whites out and he sinks into darkness.

He awakens much later, and the fact that he is awake at all tells the Archangel that his plan failed.

All he can feel is pain ... just this dull, throbbing pain over every inch of his body.

Lucifer glances around blearily and finds his sword resting several feet away, streaks of his blood already dried on the blade.

He makes a weak sound, half despair, half frustration. Then, with a great amount of effort, he struggles onto his hands and knees, shuddering at how far he has already fallen and it is still not over.

With the last of his strength, he grabs the hilt of his blade, clenches his eyes shut, and focuses hard on the singular place he remembers being allowed into.

As the world melts away around him, all Lucifer can hope is that Sam has one ounce of sympathy left for him. If not ... it's truly over.

He's unprepared for the space between worlds, always so brief, to suddenly feel so vast. For his body to feel it like a crushing weight. He's raw under the pain, where he's forced himself open, where he still bleeds. He feels like he's unraveling, peeling apart, and for the first time he truly feels the cold. The ice of it slicing inside him where he'd buried the blade.

This, he thinks, is what mortality feels like. Balanced on the edge of nothing with only pain to cling to. Torn open and messy and exposed.

It feels like falling.

But he doesn't want to die.

The rough weave of a carpet appears under his hands, under his knees and the pressure in his chest refuses to move until he breathes - coughs - and the carpet blooms red under his mouth in shocking clarity.

He's broken himself open, left himself incapable of healing his own body. The wound as real and brutal as if he was truly made of flesh. He honestly doesn't know if his grace will bleed out this way. If he will die bloody, draining away like a human instead of shattered in an instant of furious glory.

The sword slips from his grasp, painting curves of blood as it rolls.

It's been two days since he threw Lucifer out and got on with his life. He's slept well, and helped Dean with the research for their next hunt.

Even so, this little nagging feeling has been slowly settling in the back of his mind. Like he left something unfinished. Like there's something he needs to fix.

Then, everything comes skidding to a halt as he's abruptly yanked from a solid sleep as the air in the room goes heavy, laden with ozone.

Sam jerks upright in bed, completely disoriented and confused, looking around wildly for whatever just woke him up. Then, his gaze lands on Lucifer's slumped form, sprawled across the floor.

He watches, horrified, as the Archangel coughs blood onto the carpet, obviously struggling just to stay conscious.

Then, without even thinking about it, he's tugging a shirt on and stumbling out of bed, landing on his knees beside Lucifer and trying to keep him upright.

"Christ .... what happened?"

Lucifer's warm and unsteady and disturbing real where Sam has his hands wrapped around him. Sam knows enough to know that's wrong. That Lucifer should be cold, should be hard and immovable. His fingers sink into muscle and Lucifer flinches under the touch but he's not even close to strong enough to slip free.

Sam can tell straight away that he's not just bleeding from his mouth, there's a grisly wound just under his ribs, blood pooling under him on the carpet. Sam's fairly sure its size and shape will match the sword, tumbled bloody and sharp, an arms length away.

"Who did this to you?" Sam asks. Which seems so stupid, because who wouldn't do this to him, given the chance.

Sam works on instinct, he ignores the sword, easing Lucifer up and sliding an arm round his waist, blood smearing against his own shirt. Lucifer's fingers dig in, without seeming to realize it. Like he's trying to hang on to something without understanding how.

"Lucifer?"

There's a low breath, thick with pain, against the curve of Sam's throat. The heavy, wet smell of metal and then Lucifer's just weight in his arms.

The next four hours are the longest of his life.

It's touch and go, almost every second of it. He feels like he's holding the Archangel's life in his hands, and all things considered, he probably is.

Three days ago, he wouldn't have given a fuck if Lucifer was alive or dead. Now, it feels like the entire world has reversed on him or something.

Sam keeps working, keeps replacing bandages, re-wrapping the horrific wound marring the Archangel's abdomen, then gently cleaning the blood from his lips.

It's unnerving, really, how utterly human Lucifer seems now. Fallible, real, breakable.

Sam knows he isn't, though. He hasn't truly Fallen or torn out his own Grace. Otherwise, he'd already be dead and Sam doesn't really want to consider that. Not after he's just spent four hours fighting to keep him alive.

As Lucifer's breathing slowly evens out (and since when did he need to breathe?), Sam pulls one of the motel chairs up to the bedside and slumps into it, exhausted beyond words. His hands are shaking again, and he can't seem to get them to stop.

He's honestly not sure whether it's fear, adrenaline or exhaustion. Or some complicated mess of all three. He doesn't know what he's doing, doesn't know why he's doing it. There's blood smeared across the back of his hand, under his fingernails, stained in his knuckles. It's too human, too real to have come out of something like Lucifer. To have drained out of the Angel while he stitched him up - like he was just another hunter.

Sam doesn't know if Lucifer should be unconscious. He knows angels don't sleep, knows they can't sleep. He isn't sure - doesn't know - how much of Lucifer is still angel inside. Because the way he's laying there, strangely unmarked skin too pale, it just doesn't feel right. Like maybe he'll get lost somewhere.

Get lost and never come back.

As if in answer there's a tension, a twitch of movement and Lucifer draws a breath, harsh and awkward in his throat. His face folds up in pain before he even opens his eyes, and he tightens up, drawing his legs up the bed. Like he's trying to fold into himself to protect the part that's damaged. He discovers half way through the movement that it hurts like hell, all the breath rushing out of him. Sam rises from the chair and presses him back down. He's as gentle as he can be, and even that feels strange, feels wrong.

"Hey, stop, you'll tear your stitches."

Lucifer tenses, eyes finding him in the dark.

"Sam," he says quietly. He goes still, stops trying to move. After a pause, Sam slides his hands away.

He doesn’t know what to say. Or what to do, really. There’s nothing he can do. Not right now.

Sam knows he did the right thing. Or … he thinks he knows. He shoved Lucifer out the door and out of his life. He deserves something close to normalcy … right? He and Dean have fought for so long, fought for the entire world. But it’s the family business in the end … hunting things and saving people no matter the cost.

Now, the Angel is splayed out on his mattress, blood-spattered and probably dying. Somewhere along the line, things got really fucked up. Really fucked up and really fucking complicated.

He rubs a hand over his face, and then decides to hell with it … he’s not going to let Lucifer die, let him fade away into nothingness, without at least trying to help.

"What happened?" Sam asks quietly, flicking his gaze back up to meet the Archangel's.

Lucifer has an unhealthy pallor, too much of his blood ended up on the outside. Sam doesn't even know how much he needs it now. He's not healing like an angel, but he's not healing like a human either. Some unsteady, messy, painful middle ground. Sam can tell that it hurts, Lucifer's giving almost no sign of it. But there's something quiet and restless, something animal about his stillness.

Sam moves the sheets, carefully, checks the bandage is still clean, tape still down firm.

Lucifer's hand lifts, draws in where Sam has carefully bandaged him up. Sam reaches out and catches his hand before he thinks about it. His wrist is warm, not entirely steady.

"I'm willing to bet you haven't had any sort of stab wound before. I've done the best I can considering you're not exactly human right now, you really don't want to start messing with it."

Sam moves his hand away, watches Lucifer's fingers curl slowly and then fall back into the sheets.

"What happened?" Sam asks again. Because if Lucifer can be hurt now. If someone, something is capable of this then they're all in trouble.

"A test," Lucifer says roughly, then stops and breathes, like he's discovering that his whole body is connected. That pain is a constant part of it. "A test of free will."

"I don't understand," Sam says around a frown.

"An angel is a thing of purpose. Obedience, worship, warfare -" Lucifer meets his eyes, just briefly "- rebellion."

And just like that Sam understands.

"You did this to yourself?" He can't keep the edge out of his voice. The roll of sick understanding that leaves his skin cold.

"I ...," Lucifer pauses, searching out the proper words. "I was left without options."

He seems to be conflicted between sharing his thoughts, and keeping them from Sam. As if they are something dark and complex, something to be kept secret.

"Angels need order, control ... not chaos and uncertainty," Lucifer continues. "I am conflicted. I do not know anymore, and that is more terrifying than anything for a being like me."

He takes a slow, shuddering breath, and it seems as though he is fighting for every ounce of oxygen. It's almost frightening for Sam, how fragile and unmistakably weak the Angel is now.

For a long time, Lucifer was nothing but an invincible creature with the ability to obliterate the entire planet with a thought. Now, he's tangible, real ... human. He bleeds just like Sam knows any human being does and that, somehow, changes everything.

"What am I supposed to do?" his voice sounds small and uncertain, even to his own ears.

There is no reply, and for a moment, Sam thinks Lucifer didn't hear him. Then, the angel turns silently in the faint light, and their gazes lock. The utter helplessness in Lucifer's eyes is more gut wrenching than any answer he could have given.

"I can't - I can't fix this, you can't expect me to fix this," Sam says shakily. "I can't understand, I don't think anyone can."

Lucifer stares down at himself, at what he's become.

"I was supposed to understand. I was supposed to have a purpose. I knew what I needed to do, what I needed to be."

Sam thinks maybe Lucifer has been burning under the certainty of his own purpose for a long time. That he doesn't know how to exist without the fury of his own rebellion. Or maybe he's just afraid he was wrong. That free will made him something forever different from everything else, with nowhere to belong.

"You hated us so much you wanted to destroy us all," Sam reminds him.

Lucifer's fingers twist in the sheets, an unsettled sort of movement that looks like claustrophobia.

"Not you, Sam, never you."

"I'm human," Sam says angrily, because it's true, no matter what they did to him, no matter what they tried to turn him into. He's still human. "I'm one of them, and until you heal you might as well be too."

Lucifer's hand moves, like he means to reach out, to touch him. Sam flinches away without even meaning to.

He pushes a hand through his hair and sighs out a breath that shakes.

"What did we ever do to you that we don't deserve to exist. You think killing us all will make it better, you think killing us will win you anything?"

There's a pause that feels like it goes on forever. A stillness, like Sam's forcing him to look at something he's been avoiding for a long time.

"No," Lucifer says quietly, voice weaker than Sam's ever heard it.

"Would it even make you happy?" Sam asks.

Lucifer is silent for a long time. Sam doesn't know if he doesn't know what to say, or if he doesn't know how to find the right words to make what he wants to say sound less abrasive. Less inhuman.

It's dark in the room, and the barely-there light from the lamp isn't enough for him to see the Angel's face clearly. Honestly, he isn't sure he wants to look right now.

Then, he hears a quiet, barely-there indrawn breath, and his gaze is instinctively drawn up.

Lucifer's face is turned away, but the wet, messy gasps are a clear enough indicator that something has shattered. Some hidden, far away part that they were probably never meant to explore.

Sam freezes, caught completely off-guard and almost terrified.

He doesn't know if he should touch, if he's allowed, but he reaches out anyway, curling his fingers around Lucifer's forearm. The skin is warm, almost too warm, and Sam's afraid he feels too cold in comparison.

"What am I supposed to do?" he asks, his voice sounding thin, desperate. "I can't do this on my own."

Lucifer's head shakes a single time.

"I don't expect you to, I don't expect anything. I simply thought -" Lucifer stops, brow furrowed, unable, or unwilling to finish the thought. "I had nowhere else to go," he admits at last. Words thick in his throat like he's holding everything back.

"Lucifer," Sam says helplessly. The name still strange in his mouth, wrong somehow.

Lucifer flinches, like he realizes there's too much there, too much that threatens to tear free. He's moving, pulling away, twisting sideways, and Sam's moving too, before he can think about it. Knees on the bed, hands gently stopping Lucifer from turning. Because the devil's still cut open, and whether he's angry at his own weakness or not he shouldn't be moving around.

"Stop," Sam says. "Just, stop, you don't have to talk anymore just stop moving, you'll make it worse."

Lucifer's a strange combination of softness and tension under his hands, skin still warm and Sam doesn't even know whether there's a risk of infection, whether Lucifer's in danger of permanent damage. He just doesn't know and it's frustrating and terrifying in a way he's not sure how to deal with.

Lucifer lets him take his weight, like for some stupid reason he trusts Sam, or maybe he's so far gone there's no point worrying anymore. No point trying to protect himself.

Sam's close enough to hear the soft noises Lucifer makes, like he's still not used to the way the body feels, the way it moves. He braces himself, to let Lucifer turn whichever way is comfortable. But Lucifer clearly has no experience being human, doesn't know how to get comfortable. Because his head tilts to look at Sam, expression confused and then strangely blank. There's something there Sam can't define - can't read.

And then they’re in each other’s space, as Lucifer turns into his body, one hand awkward on the back of his head. Mouth a curve of heat against his own.

Lucifer kisses like he has no idea how, but wants it so much he doesn't care, all heavy press of mouth and hard fingers pushed into Sam's hair.

Sam's forced into stillness, pulse roaring in his throat at the warmth and the quiet desperation. It's all roughness and insanity. But Lucifer holds on like he's drowning, like this basic, human thing is the only thing left.

He doesn't know what to do.

Should he push Lucifer away, and risk ruining everything, even when he's just trying to stay sane? Or should he just let it go, let it go and live with this. Because this really is all they have left.

What feels like an eternity later, the Archangel pulls away, blue eyes wide, shocked and unsure.

"I didn't ... I didn't mean ..." he stumbles over his words at the blank expression on Sam's face. "I'm sorry."

The last words are so soft, Sam isn't even sure he heard them. But then Lucifer turns away, hiding his face in the darkness again, and Sam knows that he needs to do something.

They've been circling each other, and running towards each other, since before he cares to remember. The Archangel wasn't lying when he'd said that. Now, Fate has nothing to do with it. This is all up to them. They can rise above everything that's happened, or they can fall together.

Without really thinking, Sam reaches out, laying his hand against the angel's cheek and turning him back so they can make eye contact.

"It's okay," he replies, voice scarcely above a whisper. "I understand."

Lucifer's eyes shift sideways, where Sam's fingers touch his skin, where he's - for want of a better description - holding him. It's a curiosity that makes Sam briefly self-conscious. His hand drops to Lucifer's shoulder, fingers tightening on muscle before falling away completely.

Lucifer frowns, like he's aware he's responsible for the loss.

Sam knows Lucifer's not human, for all that he's weak right now, for all that he's clearly confused and vulnerable, there's no telling what he'll be tomorrow. Sam's done too many stupid things without looking ahead, at what could happen, what might happen. But, God help him, part of him wants to take that step, to do something insane and completely human.

Sam's always believed that redemption was never out of reach for anyone. But he knows that this is different, that this is Lucifer. Who's never once given any sign that he wanted anything but to watch the world burn.

Sam knows he should be horrified at how badly he wants to move closer and promise Lucifer that everything here, everything on Earth, is worth fighting for. He should be afraid. But instead there's a tentative sort of hope in his chest. He wants this to be real in a way that's quiet and desperate. Not just because they're connected - no, because they'd been connected, in a way that had terrified and exhilarated him.

There's more to it than that.

"Lucifer," he says. But when Lucifer meets his eyes he has no clue what he wants to say, what he wants to ask.

Sam finds himself shaking his head instead, the hand he has braced on the bed so close to Lucifer's they could spread their fingers and tangle them together. He's still staring at them when Lucifer's other hand slides into his hair, tipping his head up, and his mouth is so close Sam can't do anything else but kiss him again.

Lucifer moves, too fast, to try and get closer and air hisses out between his teeth, fingers curling in the sheets.

Sam swears against the bruised softness of his mouth and very carefully eases him back against the headboard. Lucifer lets him, reluctantly, unhappily, exhaling like he's lost something, unsure whether he'll be allowed it again.

"Easy," Sam says quietly. "I'm not going anywhere, I promise."

It's been a little over a week since everything happened.

Lucifer has been healing steadily and he's started moving around the room as Sam comes and goes. There's still hunting to be done, and he keeps tabs on his brother daily, but the younger Winchester spends most of his time in the room, looking after the Archangel.

And that alone is completely incomprehensible. He's looking after an Archangel, literally the most powerful thing in existence.

Throughout the whole experience, Lucifer has been incredibly docile, literally pressing up against Sam when the hunter returns to bed at night. They share the same one, and neither of them have really made a comment about it. And they've kissed more than once. They've kissed a lot. It's like the Angel has grabbed hold of this one facet of affection and is learning everything he possibly can about it.

When he thinks about it, Sam can't help feeling like he's slowly spiraling into madness.

He's still not entirely sure what Lucifer really wants from him. What he expects Sam to do once he's well again, once he's powerful again. Because there's no use pretending Sam's going to have any power over him then, that he's going to be able to make him do anything he doesn't want to. Lucifer won't need this thing they have, whatever it is. Sam doesn't know what will happen then.

But Sam doesn't want Lucifer to leave. He doesn't want this strange quiet thing they have to end. That's the part he doesn't know what to do with.

He's been staring at the same point on a map for twenty minutes and he forces himself to concentrate. He's trying to find the best place for a vampire nest. But the area's just too big, there are too many possibilities.

There's a shadow behind him and then there's suddenly a coffee mug settled on a section of table not covered in paper.

Sam has no idea when Lucifer discovered how to make coffee, though he's fairly sure he'll be offended at the suggestion he had to 'learn' anything if Sam asks.

There's a quiet expectation behind the gesture though.

"Thanks," Sam says, sounding far more surprised than he probably should.

Lucifer settles a hand on his shoulder, and there's weight behind it.

"You shouldn't be up," Sam reminds him.

"This room is very small, but it's smaller still from the bed," Lucifer complains stiffly.

Sam turns his head just far enough to see Lucifer's face. He looks steady enough but Sam's made that mistake before. The devil doesn't approve of the limits of the human body and over-reaches them whenever he's feeling willful.

The coffee is hot and strong, really strong, but Sam can't do anything but swallow it. Judging by the way Lucifer's fingers tighten it'll be better next time.

"I could help you know," Lucifer offers. "I'm not without skills."

He's made the offer before, but Sam's always resisted.

He doesn't want to make the angel feel like they're trying to take advantage of him just because he's recovering. Then again, Lucifer is basically the best reference they could ask for on their hunts.

With a conflicted expression, Sam leans back against him slightly, exhaling a brief sigh. "Coffee's good," he remarks. "When did you start learning how to make it?"

The Angel's hand tightens on his shoulder, and is soon joined by the other. "Being confined to a singular room results in some positive things."

Sam offers a small smile, then looks up at him, closing his book to leave it on the table. They haven't talked. They haven't broached the subject. But this quiet world of theirs isn't going to last forever.

"You're almost fixed up," he says, speaking more to the room at large than Lucifer. "You're not going to be needing this place anymore."

The Angel cants his head, one eyebrow raising slightly. "This is the only place I have left, Sam," he replies quietly, now seeming less steady on his feet. "I have nowhere left to go."

And simultaneously, that makes him impossibly relieved, but left feeling incredibly selfish. Like he wants to keep this creature, protect him. Even when he knows that's impossible.

"Are you sure?" Sam can't help asking, like this is finally something good that's going to be yanked away in a mere second. "You're not meant to live like this. You're invincible and everything humans aren't. I feel like ... it'd be suffocating you."

"I feel far from invincible at this moment in time," Lucifer says. His stiff reluctance to admit to weakness has simmered to an acceptance, of sorts. Sam doesn't entirely understand why he isn't still angry about it. Why he isn't impatient to be what he used to be.

"You know what I mean," Sam pushes. "This thing we have here. It has to be claustrophobic for you."

The hands on his shoulders tighten briefly.

"Do you want me gone, Sam?" There's a quietness to the question, a casual curiosity that Sam isn't buying at all.

"No," Sam swivels round on the chair and Lucifer's left hand slips briefly from his shoulder to his neck with the movement, before it falls away. "No, I never said that. I just - I leave you here all on your own and staying in the room can't exactly be fun for you. Though maybe I shouldn't ask how you've been amusing yourself."

Lucifer breathes something close to laughter. It's a noise that's starting to sound more real every time Sam hears it. Though whether he's been picking up mannerisms or actually feeling it, Sam isn't sure.

"I can't blame you for not trusting me. I've done little to earn it," Lucifer says. But he makes it sound like he wants to.

"I'm trying," Sam insists. "It's hard for me."

"Then let me help," Lucifer slowly leans into the table, he lays his hand on the book Sam had been using, and draws it back onto the map.

"Why are you doing this?" Sam asks, watching as Lucifer easily illustrates the angles of attack they're going to need for this hunt.

The Angel stills, the sort of leans into him, resting his jaw on Sam's shoulder. "Because I want to."

It shouldn't be this easy. There should be some step he missed, something he forgot that's going to turn around and destroy this little world that they've created for themselves.

"That doesn't answer my question," Sam quirks his lips in a half-smile, and tilts his head to rest his temple against Lucifer's.

"I'm doing this for you of my own volition," the Angel replies. "I am not trying to coerce you into something, I am not trying to subvert the trust you've placed in me. I merely want your acceptance, Sam. That is all. I have nowhere left except here, and you are the only being who has offered me solace. I do not deserve your acceptance, I know ... but I cannot help but crave it."

Sam can't help the noise he makes under the words. That surprised, breathy catch in his throat. Because there's a quiet honesty there. Sam's never admitted that he wants Lucifer to stay, that he wants this thing they've carved out to continue, so they can see where it goes. He's never said it out loud but he's fairly sure that Lucifer knows. He's more than smart enough to work out so many things, and Sam hasn't exactly been hiding it.

Lucifer leans in further, until he's pressed into Sam's back, effectively trapping him in his chair. But Sam doesn't feel trapped. There's just the warmth and the purely human weight of him. Like this is something they can just do now.

"I wouldn't change what I did," Lucifer says quietly. Sam's can feel the vibration of his voice, the rough edges of it.

"Even though you're still vulnerable?" he points out.

There's a slow drag of hair across Sam's cheek when Lucifer tilts his head.

"I like to think I've learned valuable lessons from the experience."

"Like how to make coffee?" Sam says with a smile and he's turning his face into Lucifer's rumble of disapproval.

"I am not a maid," Lucifer retorts quietly, almost seeming to puff up a bit, indignation clear in his posture.

Sam snorts, rolling his eyes as he slowly moves to his feet. "I didn't say you were," he grins. "I was just making a comment."

Then, he turns and slowly makes his way to his duffle, scrounging some clean clothes. "I'm going to take a shower. My eyes feel like they're about to fall out of my head from all the reading and my back is killing me. Want me to go out and get something for us to eat after?"

Lucifer cants his head, expression thoughtful. "No," he answers finally. "I believe I am fine. If you require sustenance, however, I will accompany you."

And just like that, Sam realizes how used to this he's become. How much they've grown to rely on each other, and on the idea that they're both going to be there when one of them wakes up. As he makes his way over to the bathroom, he can't quite figure out if he should be unsettled, or grateful.

Lucifer's still leant over the table, peering down at Sam's handwriting, when he pushes the door shut. Sam's fairly sure that the devil's strange and angular handwriting is going to be surrounding his own when he comes out. But he hopes that Lucifer at least takes the time while Sam's not looking to sit down again. It's good to see Lucifer upright but that doesn't mean he doesn't worry that he's going to try too much too fast. And Sam knows by now that Lucifer finds his worry both amusing and strangely touching. Which is...ever so slightly embarrassing now that Lucifer isn't quite as oblivious.

He turns the shower on and pulls his shirt off, stares at himself in the mirror while the water heats up. He came back from hell perfect too - or maybe that's the wrong word. All he knows is that all the scars he's picked up over the years are missing, the elbow that's grated since he landed on it in a cemetery in West Virginia is now good as new. He knows what Dean meant now, about how strange it was. Like all the proof from his life as a hunter is just gone. He's been rebuilt, without all the tears and breaks.

Sam's not sure if that's comforting or not. He thinks he's just started to accept them. To live with them.

When condensation leaves his reflection too blurry to see, he steps into the shower, lets the water flatten his hair over his face. It's hot and the water pressure's good and Sam indulgences for longer than he normally would. Until he feels better than he's felt for a long time, until he's slippery clean and warm.

But he can't stay in there forever. He leaves his hair to drip, wraps a towel round his waist and wipes at the running mirror until he can see his face.

••••••••••••••

Nothing is out of balance, or unusual. Everything seems right and comfortable. But there's something drawing him towards that closed door, towards the presence behind it.

Curiosity was always a trait that ran hot in Lucifer's blood. No matter how much he explored, he always craved more. This is certainly no exception.

So, when he finds himself across the room, with no memory of actually having physically walked there, and with his hand on the door handle, there isn't much else he can do but follow through.

Lucifer cautiously pushes the door open, peering around it and into the escaping fog with slightly wide eyes. This time, he doesn't know where his curiosity has led him. Doesn't know what the outcome of this entire progression of moments and fleeting touches will be.

But then, Sam is standing before him, clad in nothing but a towel and wearing a startled expression.

"What happened?" the human asks, tone obviously concerned. "Is something wrong?"

And for the second time in his very long life, the Archangel does not know how to answer Sam's question.

There's nothing he can say that will come close to what he's feeling, no way to explain it.

Sam's expression is still flint-edged with tension, with worry. But Lucifer can't gather a single word of reassurance. All he can do is slip further into the room, settle his hands on damp skin and Sam takes a breath but doesn't resist him, hasn't resisted him for weeks. He lets Lucifer press him into the chill of the sink, fingers lifting to curl round his arms and pull him in.

Sam doesn’t try to speak. His mouth is still damp from the water, and it’s a slippery edge of intimacy that makes Lucifer’s stomach tighten. An alien sensation that he can’t quite define but leaves him feeling oddly powerless.

One of Sam’s hand moves, slides up Lucifer’s neck and into his hair, it holds him there, like he knows, like he understands what he does to him.

In the slow, damp chill of the room the heat of his skin has nowhere to go but into Sam. Lucifer has never been so grateful for the strange fever warmth of him while he heals, because Sam's hands are always drawn to it. This is different though, this is Sam’s bare arms under his hands, the slide of his chest through cloth. This is rough, wet kisses that he doesn’t want to stop. Lucifer knows he’s holding too tightly, knows he’s going to leave bruises behind when he lets Sam go.

He makes himself stop, makes himself pull away. Because Sam has allowed him this, Sam has given him this and he refuses to make himself unworthy of it.

But Sam is already pulling him back in, fingers greedy, voice shaky between kisses.

"Don't stop, I don't want you to stop."

Lucifer whines, a pitched sound that echoes strangely in the enclosed room.

Their lips are sliding together again, and it feels more natural than anything they've done before. Like a dance that they were born to move with.

Sam is pushing him back against the counter now, and Lucifer can feel the edge of it dig into his hipbone. It's not a sharp lance of pain, like it would be for a human, just a dulled sensation of connecting with a harder surface than his flesh.

The human's hands are everywhere now, and Lucifer cannot focus on a single touch for any length of time before Sam is touching him again, dragging his fingertips up his spine and eliciting a visible shudder.

He breaks away from the kiss, inhaling sharply as he takes in the hunter's dark eyes, pupils blown wide and expression intense. "Sam," the angel rasps. "I don't ... show me how ... show me what to do."

Sam fists a hand in his hair, exhales against his throat, and there are words against the skin, soft and broken but easy enough to piece together. The soft, honest admission that Sam wants. That he wants when he thinks he shouldn’t. Lucifer doesn’t know whether that’s guilt or apology.

"God, yes," Sam says simply. There's a strength in the human's hands where they hold him against the counter, nothing that matches his own, but he can feel it, can feel the bite of it on his skin. Before they slide up, taking the material of his shirt with them, drawing it carefully up over the bandage still taped to his abdomen.

"Lucifer," Sam says quietly, like he'd forgotten. There's a brief, quiet pause where his hand simply rests there. Lucifer's afraid he'll stop - and the thought of it, it's almost a physical pain. He's tensing; fingers tight on Sam's skin.

Sam doesn't stop, but he's so careful, so impossibly careful. Lucifer knows no matter how much he protests, that he's healed enough to hold himself together, Sam won't believe him. So he lets Sam be gentle, lets him draw the material over his head and let it go.

Sam presses in like he can't do anything else, chest all dampness and heat and Lucifer can't stop one of his own hands from sliding into Sam's wet hair, pulling him in, wordless demand to be kissed again.

They do kiss, but it's just a confused mess of teeth and tongues and strange angles. There's less finesse to it this time, and both of them can sense the sharp edge of desperation leaking into their actions.

It's as if everything in the past, all of their decisions all of their actions, has been leading up to this moment. This one, brutally visceral, but completely intoxicating moment.

Lucifer makes a noise that's caught somewhere between a growl and a whimper, an odd mix of confusion and a demand for more.

And Sam responds to the sound ten-fold, his actions becoming less inhibited, less controlled, like he knows the Archangel wants this as much as he does.

The fact that he does want this should make him turn away, or at least make him stop. But he can't. Not now. And with the way Lucifer is almost clawing at his back tells him this is somehow what they were meant for.

Sam hisses wordless, impatient demand against his mouth, then drop his hands to tug open the button and zipper of Lucifer's jeans. He can feel the rigid press of his erection against his knuckles, the greedy shove of his hips. Sam can't help it, he has to touch, has to dig his fingers under the waist of his boxers and slide his hand down and in. Lucifer growls when Sam touches him, when he curls his fingers indulgently around him. It's a long vicious sound that goes straight through him.

There's a strong hand on the fold of his towel, fingers digging over the edge and pulling, until it comes free and hits his feet. Sam swears and kicks it away. It's only fair to push Lucifer's jeans and shorts down his thighs, shove them to the floor with a foot so he can step out of them.

God, the noise Lucifer makes when Sam presses them together. Harsh and greedy and so low in his throat it's almost obscene. Sam shunts him back against the counter, fingers gripping and lifting until he's not just resting but perched there. Lucifer grunts at the show of force, voice breaking on his name.

When Sam winds a hand round Lucifer's neck, leans in and kisses him the devil's shoulders hit the mirror with a crack that makes him gasp. Sam thinks about stopping but Lucifer's doesn't let him. There are teeth at his jaw and fingers in the muscle of his shoulder, a leg thrown round the back of his own. Lucifer's too close and too desperate, mouth greedy.

The wood creaks sharply under him.

"This is going to break," Sam says, breathless, not entirely sure if he cares.

"No," Lucifer says fiercely. "It won't."

It's either Lucifer's 'Angel mojo', or just sheer willpower, but Sam figures the tone of his voice means the situation is under control.

Meanwhile, their frantic dance is the complete opposite.

Lucifer gets his hands around the human's shoulders, blunt fingernails dragging down Sam's back and leaving angry red trails in their wake. Sam growls at him for that, but the angel remains unabashed.

They're pressed so tightly together, it almost hurts. It feels like they're both going to burn all the way through, and there's nothing that can possibly stop them. Lucifer's skin is fever-hot, but his eyes are clearer than they've ever been.

"I'm going to hurt you," Sam mutters, biting gentle punishment into the angel's throat and leaving faint bruises in his wake.

Lucifer rumbles something unintelligible, but as his fingertips dig into Sam's shoulders again, it's clear that his opinion is exactly the opposite.

Or maybe that's what he wants, maybe he's feeling exactly the same edge as Sam, that reckless desperation to know what they'll be together. To feel all the sharp edges together.

He's murmuring words he barely understands against the rough warmth of Lucifer's jaw, hand scattering the bottles resting behind him into the sink. He's trying to find the hand lotion, something, anything. God - he knows that he's being greedy, that he's probably assuming too much. But Lucifer pulls his hair, like he knows what he's looking for, knows he wants to open him up and slide inside.

"Tell me you want this, tell me I can do this," Sam says, and his voice is in pieces.

Lucifer's teeth are sharp, and they say everything the devil refuses to. Sam breathes through a bite that's too hard. Before he drags Lucifer all the way to edge of the counter, upending a bottle with his other hand and Lucifer's legs spread easily, shamelessly. It's obscene, the way he makes soft, impatient noises under each stretching push of Sam's fingers. The way he growls out sharp, hard demands that gradually get rougher and shorter. Until Lucifer's just shaking, restless and greedy and so hard Sam wouldn't be surprised if it hurt.

Sam's almost too sensitive when his fist slides over his own cock, one quick, tight pull that leaves him clinging to the edge and forcing Lucifer’s head back. He distracts himself in the taste of his mouth, the unsteady grip of his hands.

But it's not enough and he has to press Lucifer's back, move his hips, and find out exactly how this is going to work.

Lucifer’s palm hits the mirror with a crack, fingers spread out on the slickness of the glass and he makes a low, broken noise when Sam pushes all the way in. He doesn't resist it and Sam's buried in the heat of him before he's ready, all friction and pressure that leaves him panting.

His forehead drops against Lucifer's, braces him, and Sam can't help breathing the ragged syllables of his name. There's too much here. This is madness but he needs it, he needs it so badly he can't think.

The devil's breath is almost searingly hot against his lips, wet and completely out of control. But he wants this, wants it more than he can possibly explain.

Sam pushes himself up, stuttering out a gasp as Lucifer shifts with him, taking him in. The Angel makes a low noise, caught between a breath of pain and unabashed lust. And Sam wonders for a moment, spares what little coherent thought that he can, wonders if he's taught the devil lust far too well.

But he can't think on it for too long, they're both moving together again and all he can feel is the slick, velvet heat of being inside Lucifer, forcing choked-off noises from the Angel's throat as he rolls his hips upward.

Lucifer's palm smashes into the mirror again as he cants his hip and thrusts upward hard, this time sending shards scattering across the counter. Sam almost panics, but the devil closes his eyes for a moment, and the mirror is intact, as though nothing had happened.

Their eyes lock and Lucifer rumbles low in his chest. "I want this, Sam," his voice is almost too steady. "I want this."

Sam tries to tell him the same but the words don't make it up his throat, they break apart on a groan.

He knows that Lucifer's holding them both now, knows he's regained more of his powers than he's admitted to. But Sam doesn't care, he can't care about anything but the rushed together sound of Lucifer saying his name, over and over.

It's close and hot and desperate, like this is something they're not supposed to do. But - God - it doesn't feel like that. It doesn’t feel like anything Sam should ever feel guilty for.

This is easy in a way nothing else has ever been, this is good, better than good. Sam's holding back from the edge, fingernails dug in, because he doesn’t want it to stop. He doesn't want them to break apart again. But Lucifer won't be stopped, there's an intensity to him that Sam knows he's going to drown in. Can't hold him down, even when he has one hand in buried Lucifer's hair, the other curled tight round his waist.

Lucifer's going to burn him alive.

The Angel claws at his back again, both legs tightening around Sam's waist like a vise.

"Sam," Lucifer gasps, his spine bowing completely off the mirror. "Sam."

He feels Lucifer tense, and he knows there isn't any time left. With a stifled moan, Sam bucks his hips up again, burying himself completely in Lucifer's body as the angel shakes apart. He goes still as Lucifer clenches around him and there's a sudden rush of wetness against their stomachs, trying to hold onto the sensation for as long as possible.

Then, as Lucifer whines, shuddering through the last shocks of his climax, Sam can't do anything but follow him. It's too sharp and too visceral and it almost hurts, but it's the most alive he's felt in years. Every inch of his skin feels as though electric shocks are playing over it, and he's clutching Lucifer tight enough that he knows the angel will have bruises on his shoulders. But they won't last. They can't.

Sam groans, the sound low and almost shattered as he slumps against Lucifer, unsure of what he's done, what they've done.

But the Angel holds him up, seemingly without even trying. Even though he's the one who's supposed to be holding Lucifer up, keeping him from breaking apart again.

It takes a long time for the pressure of Lucifer's fingers to fade, though they don't let go, they stay against Sam's back, points of warmth and weight that seem to want to hold him where he is.

Sam thinks, he hopes, that Lucifer is as reluctant to separate them as he is.

He can hear the rush of Lucifer breathing over his own thumping heartbeat. He doesn’t know how much Lucifer's living inside his body at this moment, how much of him is really here. From this close, skin-to-skin, he feels human. But Sam knows he's close, so close to being whole again, to being nothing like human at all.

He leaves his face pressed into the devil's neck for as long as he can get away with, breathing him in, and wondering if this will be the only time, the only moment where they wanted the same thing just as much.

He slips free, eventually, fingers still sliding indulgently on Lucifer's thighs.

Lucifer winces, faintly, almost imperceptibly when he slides free of the counter, and straightens. Sam checks the bandage, but it's clean. He wouldn't be surprised if the wound underneath is completely gone.

The devil catches his hand before he can draw it away completely. As if he doesn't want Sam to stop touching him, not yet.

Lucifer hums quietly, contemplatively. He begins nosing the spot just behind Sam's ear, causing the human's eyes to slip closed again and a relaxed sigh to escape his lips.

"I like this," he states plainly, as though it's something Sam should have known all along. "I want to stay like this. I want to stay with you."

Sam goes still again, his hands finding the angel's hips, just holding him there. He doesn't know how to respond do that, doesn't know how he wants to respond to that. There's a part of him that wants Lucifer as far away from him as possible, so they can't hurt each other again. But the rest of him craves this, craves having the Archangel here, like a silent guardian who is already entangled far too deep to be just a watchful presence.

"No more tricks," Sam replies, his voice thick as he struggles to work around the tightness in his throat. "No more deception ... just us."

There's no answer, but he looks up just enough to see Lucifer nod, his expression solemn and touched with a vague hint of desperation.

As much as Sam wants to stay here, wants everything to rest on this moment, he knows that it doesn't. He knows that there's more - so much more. Everything outside, everything him and Dean had been fighting for right from the start. Sam can't ignore that. He knows he has to make this thing with Lucifer real, he has to make them fit, or neither of them can have this.

Sam takes a breath. "The rest of the world -"

"Can stay as it is," Lucifer says calmly, voice rough. Like he expected as much, like he knew there would have to be compromise, knew Sam wouldn't agree without it.

Sam's still holding him, hands still curved round his waist and he can almost feel the difference now, where the warmth of his skin is gradually fading to something chill, something that curls with power. Lucifer won't be someone he can hold on to like this for long and he thinks it will be hard then, he thinks it will be frightening. But he still wants it.

"Would you do that? Could you do that?" he asks quietly.

"I think I could learn," Lucifer's voice is soft, but it's firm, like he's already accepted that there will be rules, rules they'll both have to do their best to live with. "But I won't promise to leave those that try and interfere with us in anything but pieces."

Sam can't help a shaky laugh at that, how the threat of violence from the Archangel is somehow just another day in the life of the Winchesters.

"Okay," he murmurs, getting his hands back in Lucifer's hair so they can move, shifting to rest their brows together. "I think I can deal with that."

Lucifer hums again, his lips curving into a slow smile as he presses another kiss to the edge of Sam's mouth. There's a confidence to his gestures now, a sense that he almost belongs. And Sam can't help letting the tension seep from his frame, let himself rely on the Angel. Because even in the face of what they still have to do, he knows this can work. They'll be able to make it together.