The Cage felt much emptier without Sam's screams to fill it.
Michael was still here with me, of course, but only physically – my brother had always been skilled at blocking out life's unpleasantries, and so he sat motionless in the corner of the Cage, his mind far away. I had tried to draw him into conversation countless times, but he never showed any sign of hearing me, even though I was sure that I had seen him react to noises from outside the Cage. Even now, with nothing to lose, Michael would not risk sympathizing with me.
Still, his presence was a comfort after a previously solitary eternity, and I spoke to him constantly after Sam left. I replied to myself as I thought Michael might, though in all honesty it had been so long since I had last had a civil conversation with my brother that I often found myself at a loss for an answer. He never contradicted me, at least, so I suppose I must have done well enough.
It is hard to judge time in the pit, but the decades felt like they slipped by a little faster this time.
I imagine that it must have felt like an eternity to Sam. Over a century and a half he was down here with me, and I burnt every moment of it into his skin. He deserved it, of course - on Earth I'd had hope, however frail, of returning to the glory of Heaven and taking back my place by force, but here in the pit there remained only the agonizing burn of ages. Even Earth itself was better than Hell.
I told Michael of my miseries, and I think he would have been sympathetic, had he been listening.
“Little brother,” he might have said, “I know. I understand. He has hurt me too.”
I still felt a pang of guilt when I remembered how Sam had grabbed Michael, and dragged him down with us. Had Sam felt my jealousy upon seeing his memories of Dean? Had it been that brief moment of weakness that allowed Sam to take control?
I ripped Sam's veins, and twisted his limbs. Scalded his skin. Flayed his eyes. Until he was taken from me, and I was left alone with my brother, who would not answer me.
I don't remember what I had been saying to Michael when my Father appeared before us, but I do know that I didn't rise when I saw Him. I could only stare, mouth open, as He stood watching us.
“Michael,” He said, “and Lucifer.”
I glanced at Michael, who was suddenly alive again, eyes wide.
“Father!” he said, jumping to his feet. “You- you're here! Where have you been?”
I could tears in his eyes as he drew close, and then embraced our Father. Though I was between him and our Father, Michael chose to give me a wide berth rather than acknowledge my presence.
“Yes,” our Father said calmly, “I am here. Before, I was... elsewhere. And will return to elsewhere, once I am finished here.”
Michael stared. “But Father- Heaven, I... we need your guidance!”
Our Father said, “I will go where I will, Michael.”
“But-” Michael stared at his feet. “Father, I don't know what you want me to do.”
Our Father had been calmness, and comfort, in the old days. Once, the angels could simply bask in His glory, and know their place in the universe. He had given no explanation for his departure, and very little warning. I doubted the Host would ever fully recover from the loss, or even begin to understand it.
I however, was past caring. In the time since my Father's departure, I had been alone, and so I had come to my own conclusions.
Our Father smiled and said, “Well then. You'll just have to make your best guess. Do whatever you think is right.”
What an odd thing to say. Even as my confused brother opened his mouth to protest further, our Father snapped His fingers, and Michael disappeared. He turned to me. I remained sitting.
“Lucifer,” he said gently. He crouched down in front of me.
“I am sorry,” He said.
I felt my eyes widen in disbelief. Sorry? My Father was sorry? What nonsense was this?
“Yes,” He said, knowing my thoughts. “I am. I have wronged you.”
My chest hurt. My head swam. I stared at him open-mouthed for several moments, before laughter burst out of me.
“'Sorry?'” I managed to choke out. “You're 'sorry'? Oh, well, that's all right then! Everything's fine now, all is forgiven, and back up to Heaven I go, right? No big deal.”
My Father sighed. “Lucifer-” he began, but I cut him off.
“You trapped me down in a pit for thousands of years,” I hissed. “Alone. In a pit. For thousands of years. Your son. You turned my brothers against me. Because I loved you! I still love you. I don't want your apologies! I want- I want...” I dug my fingers into my hair. Hell. What did I want?
“I want... more,” I finished lamely. I tucked my knees underneath my chin and wrapped my arms around them. “And I want you to go away now,” I added, after a moment of silence. “Clearly, you think that locking me in a cage in the fiery pits of Hell is no longer adequate punishment, and have now decided to mock me with false apologies.”
My Father said nothing for a while. We sat in silence, I looking at the floor of my Cage, or the walls, or the ceiling, but never at my Father. I am certain He looked only at me.
After a while, He said, “You are still using Nick's form.”
“Sam betrayed me,” I said. “I do not wish to use his form.”
My Father clicked his tongue at that, as if he saw a deeper truth behind my words that I did not yet comprehend. Supercilious old fart.
“Why are you wearing that form?” I countered.
My Father looked down at it. It was a human vessel, in the shape of a small man with dark hair and pointed features. My Father smiled.
“Chuck has served me well,” He said simply. He looked back up at me. “Do you wish to return to Heaven?”
I started at the question. My breath caught in my throat. He wouldn't. I wasn't allowed. He had said. My brothers- would He truly let me back?
No. My Father was not sorry, and He would never take back His words and let me into Heaven. I knew this. So why was I so willing to fall for his lies?
“You must tell me that you are sorry for what you have done,” He said.
My breath unstuck itself with a choke. Sorry? For what? Telling the truth? Being right? And I had been right, too- I had seen what destruction humans had wrought on my Father's beautiful Creation. I had seen their selfishness, their hate, had felt it in Sam when I took him as my vessel. I ground my teeth together.
But to be home again. With Michael, with Raphael. Even if it was a lie conjured up by my Father, it was worth the embarrassment to take this chance, wasn't it? I would not be alone, in Heaven. I would not be caged.
Well. My Father had only said that I had to say that I was sorry. He had said nothing about actually being so.
“I am sorry,” I said slowly. There. The lie had come easily enough.
My Father laughed. He looked down at me, amusement in his eyes. Blast.
“I know you are lying, Lucifer,” He said, without a trace of anger. “But once,” He continued, “I would not have been able even to get that lie from you. You are less proud, now.”
I snorted incredulously, and my Father patted me on the cheek.
“There's my boy,” He said. “Still, I think you can do better than that.”
“You promised,” I said, feeling like a child. “If I said sorry, I could- you promised.”
My Father nodded. “I did,” He said. “But, well, you know... I invented lying, Lucifer.”
He snapped His fingers.