I took him quickly.
There was no time for gentleness. Zachariah had already spoken to him; his consent had been obtained. It simply remained to take possession of his body as my vessel.
Zachariah had called me down and I had not tarried, yet he lay dead already by the time I arrived, the guardians banished, the Green Room breached. Adam remained, beating his fists against the wall. He wished to escape from me. He would not.
I felt his body tense and cramp as I entered it but his reactions faded as I took over his body's - my vessel's - functions one by one. I clamped down on his connections with the flesh, severed his control over his breathing and steadied it, raised a buffering wall between him and his senses; it would not do to cause him undue pain. By necessity, he had become my vessel and so was, at this hour, the most important human being Creation sheltered.
I held him carefully at a distance, keeping him from injury as I rose above the skies to find my brother. Lucifer had not yet taken possession of his own true vessel. I would keep an eye on him until he did. Then we would meet and do battle. I would slay him, in accordance to our Father's plan. For now, it remained to me to watch.
Adam was fearful and furious in the nest I had fashioned for him, trying to break free of my hold on him. He failed, of course; success was not possible. Yet I regretted the pain I had caused him when I entered him and destroyed much of what allowed him to control his body. He did not know it yet but when I left him, it would be in a vegetative state. Another casualty of our war. I would make sure that he was the last.
It occurred to me that I could tell him this, reassure him, perhaps. I gingerly pushed such thoughts as he could comprehend at him, that even though my vessel might be injured during the battle with Lucifer, I would heal him. That after I left, his body would not obey him but that it would be only temporary and when Paradise came to Earth, he would be honored above all for his role in this our war.
His reaction was possibly not what I expected.
A stream of invective poured at me, a feeling of betrayal, hopes raised, lies told, of such anger that I felt stunned by it, battered by his raving. Above all, however, he wished to live his mortal life and was not interested in Paradise in any way. I hesitated, unsure how to respond to such feeling. It deserved a response, of that I was certain. How to frame it?
My hesitation had made him wonder if I would speak again at all. He was huddling in the nest, sulking, and still deeply, deeply angry. I let my consciousness brush against his, radiating calm and ease. He started and sent anger back to me, demanding answer.
I showed him the grave necessity of this battle, showed him that Lucifer, no matter that he was my brother and I loved him, could not be permitted to win. I showed him hints of what Earth would become if he did and asked if he wanted this
Adam surprised me; he rejected my question and demanded instead why Lucifer and I could not take ourselves into space and have it out there. But the battlefield was Earth because Earth was the prize. I showed it to him, then told him about the symmetry we had intended, of Dean and Sam Winchester being the vessels and how their obstinate refusal to play their roles had nearly laid waste to all our plans.
He laughed, then, bitter and cold, and let me know in no uncertain terms that if he not only understood them perfectly but that if he had known, he himself would have fought me as hard as his older brother did. And to get the fuck out of him right this minute.
I believe he felt my regret before I withdrew my touch from him. It was sufficiently clear that he was unwilling to accept matters as they were. I would keep events from him as much as I was able, but there was more at stake than his wishes. I understood that he desired life and also autonomy, but I could not take his desires into consideration.
For I was my Father's son and I would do as he had planned for me to do. I would kill my brother and bring Heaven to Earth and since Dean Winchester refused to do his part as my vessel when I did, Adam Milligan would, whether he wished to or not.
When Sam Winchester said yes to Lucifer, I went down to Earth. It was time to end this once and for all.
Lucifer did as he always did. He tried to convince me to leave our Father and take a place by his side instead. And I did as I always did. I told him that I was a good son.
Then matters stopped going according to plan. As usual, in the presence of Dean Winchester.
The bottle, thrown by Castiel, hit me. I looked down on it, confused. Did he believe it would affect me?
He did. And he was right. The holy oil burned my vessel and it was all I could do to throw myself away from there, sheltering Adam's confused, frightened soul from the agony he would have felt, the agony I now felt. My vessel's flesh - my flesh! - was burning, blackening, blistering and it hurt, it hurt. It had been millennia since I had last taken a vessel and longer even since I had last been injured while in a vessel. I found that I had forgotten the feeling and did not care for it at all.
Adam's soul pushed at me. He seemed worried, upset. I soothed him, or tried to, and concentrated on healing the body. Lucifer would not simply go away if I was indisposed. And as for Castiel - I would deal with him at a later time.
Returning, I found that I had been anticipated. Castiel was gone, and Lucifer had beaten Dean within an inch of his life.
I still believed the matter to be salvageable. Then - things did not go according to plan again.
"I can't believe Sam did that."
He looked different when I was not inside him. The set of his shoulders, the belligerence he must have inherited from John Winchester, the defiance of a man who knows he is severely outclassed, none of these could I ever have seen in myself. In him, they were strong.
My distraction did not please him. "Sam fucking Winchester sent the Devil back to Hell," Adam jeered at me. "And not just him, the Archangel Michael as well. How's that going for you?"
"Not well," I said. My - surprise at Sam's actions was fading. The Winchesters did have a way of doing the unexpected.
"No kidding," Adam said. "This is the cage?"
"Yes," I responded. I understood why he had to ask. Our surroundings did not look much like humans imagine cages to be; blank earth floors stretching out forever, darkness above. Unless one had the sight of an angel - to me the earth and the air glowed with Enochian, compelling sigils to imprison the First Fallen, and now me as well. From the outside, I might have broken them with a thought. From inside the cage - no. Otherwise, Lucifer would have done it millennia ago.
"Now we're - trapped? Is that it? Trapped forever?"
I turned to him, my vessel, and considered him. Lucifer was here, close by. For now he might be distracted by Sam but it would not last. Soon my younger brother's wrath would lash out at anything within his grasp.
He started and immediately went bellicose again. "What."
I had his attention. Yet I did not know what to say. I did not know how to even frame an apology and I had nothing to offer him. He would not receive his reward in Heaven but would remain damned for eternity, or until some brave or foolish soul attempted to free my brother.
It remained to me to protect him from Lucifer as much as I was able. And my abilities, even in Hell, were considerable.
"Remain by my side," I finally said. "Lucifer will not be better pleased with this state of affairs than I am. He may find any target convenient. I will draw his violence away from you."
Adam swallowed but said nothing; there was nothing to say. Finally he sat down to rest.
I kept watch.
I pride myself that Adam never even knew how close Lucifer was. My younger brother was powerful and subtle when he wanted to be but I was and am the better general. All of the Heavenly Host were my soldiers and Lucifer for all his wiles could not breach the walls I threw up to keep him from Adam. I extinguished his fires and slapped away his storms. When he turned crafty to come at us from ten directions at once, nearly invisible even to my eye, I brightened the cage until he cast a shadow and hunted him by that. He slunk away in his fury to marshal a new assault.
Time passed. There were hundreds of such attempts, some of brute force, some of sly stealth, some of earnest conviction. I repelled them all and felt anger at the brothers Winchester who had derailed all of Heaven's plans. My anger crested when it became clear to me that I would be here forever, protecting a single mortal soul while above, the world fell to wreck and ruin.
Nevertheless. I had done what I was meant to, even if nobody else had. I could, at least, still claim to be a good son to my Father in Heaven. It was not much but it would have to suffice.
For a long time, it did.
Then, I felt the cage break open. The brightest of lights reached us, brighter than I could manage now after Hell enclosed me for so long.
Adam threw up his arm to protect his eyes. I reached out to shelter him and at the same time cast out my senses for Lucifer who would, no doubt, try to free himself.
The other manifested and I recognized him. Castiel burned more brightly than even Raphael now. But he did not stop to speak with me. Instead he reached over to where Lucifer hid and searched. I felt him lay his grasp on Sam and then he was retreating, wings beating Lucifer back. I heard my brother's fury, felt Castiel's distraction and knew that if I wished to be free, I could be. Holding on to Castiel, I would be able to fly free of the cage. I reached out and touched his wing. I felt him realize and slow down, to take me with him.
Instead, I yanked Adam up from the cage and sent him to sleep. A quick twist sent him up into Castiel's waiting arm.
I released Castiel's wing and added mine to his striking at Lucifer. Castiel disengaged then, flying higher and higher as I held Lucifer in the cage, his light fading and finally, when it was gone completely, feeling the cage shut us in once more in darkness.
Lucifer screamed and I understood his pain at being imprisoned. But he would have to remain here. As would I. Castiel would not come a second time.
I retreated to my corner of the cage. Lucifer beat his wings against me, and his agony was mine. I understood that, too, but now it was too late. I wondered if I might have learned this sooner if Dean Winchester had said yes to me and suspected that I would have. As Lucifer hid from me again, I wished I had.
Dean Winchester would never have hurt Sam and that had won them the war. If I had felt the same about Lucifer, there might not have been a war in the first place.
And I would not have lost it.
I am in the cage. I will remain here until the world ends. My time is spent fighting pointless battles with my brother. My wings are nearly as skeletal as his. I am tired. My Father is absent. The cage no longer resembles anything. Everything but the sigils has corroded. Everything.
I turn. Death looks me in the eyes. He is holding the soul of Sam Winchester, a torn and flayed thing. Lucifer kept it hidden from me.
Death is waiting for an answer. I have no words.
"Nobody bargained for your freedom," Death tells me. "Nobody begged for it."
I am not surprised. It would not occur to any of my brothers.
"Still." Death regards me, fingers rubbing soothing circles on Sam Winchester's soul. "All things end. Do you want your ending now?"
It is a good offer. The best I am likely to get. But.
I wanted to be a good son. I should have tried to be a better brother.
Death shakes his head. So do I.
Death fades from view and I hear my brother's cries of fury that Sam's soul is gone. I straighten.
It may be too late. But I still have to try.
I call out to him.
~ Fin ~