Light thrust its way out of the circle of Lilith's blood. Noise filled the room and Dean recognized it as the voice of an angel—ear-piercingly inhuman. "What the hell?"
"He's coming," Sam said. He clutched Dean's jacket hard enough to pull him off balance.
"Lucifer?" Not that he had any doubt but, Jesus fuck, he wanted to be wrong.
"Yes. Lucifer." Even Castiel's voice was strained. "We must go." The angel put fingers on their heads, and as much as the sensation of being transported was nauseatingly weird, Dean couldn't help but pray to be engulfed by it. They needed to get out of here right-the-fuck-now.
Nothing happened except a short, sharp jerk: like that moment of reaching the top of a swing's arc.
"Lucifer," Castiel answered. "He senses Sam's presence and is… holding onto him. I do not have the power to pull Sam away."
"Why? I've already done what they wanted." A world of grief and shame lived in his voice, easily heard over the noise of Lucifer's arrival.
"You are also his vessel."
"What?" "No!" Their voices overlapped, out of sync, even now. Dean's voice was outraged. Sam's was filled with despair.
Castiel's gaze slid away from theirs and Dean recognized the shame in that gesture. "I'm sorry, Sam. I should have acted sooner." The angel lifted his head, finally meeting Sam's eyes squarely; accepting responsibility for what he hadn't done… and for what he had.
Sam swallowed his nerves. "It's okay." He nodded in short jerks. "You two go—while you can."
"Fuck that," Dean said. "We're all getting out of here." He ran for the door but it slammed shut as he reached it. He bent to pick up the stand he'd used to break in earlier but the noise was growing in intensity and it was starting to hurt. He managed one feeble swing before he had to drop the stand to cover his ears.
"Cas," he heard Sam order, "Get Dean out of here!"
He spun away from the door, nearly losing his balance as the wind increased in power. His brother was right beside him. "Sam, no!" he shouted.
Sam ignored him, leaning toward the angel, yelling in his ear, as Lucifer's 'voice' grew in strength. "You get him out of here and make sure he's safe from… from angels and demons and all this shit!" Sam's face was fierce and bleak and pleading. "You can do that for me!"
"Sam, no!" Dean demanded.
It was as if he hadn't even spoken. Cas looked at Sam and nodded solemnly. Dean doubled over from the shards of sound being driven into his body but it didn't stop him from reaching Sam's side and grabbing his brother's jacket. "Sam!" he pleaded, begged.
"I'm sorry, Dean. I'm so sorry!" Wind whipped Sam's too-long hair around his head. He ignored it and looked at Dean with fear but no hesitation, pain but no doubt.
"No," Dean protested but his voice was quiet, without power. He knew that stubborn look. Too well. Even if Sam could have heard him, he wouldn't have listened.
"You go with Cas, someplace safe, where you can have that apple pie life you want so much." Sam shook him. "You do that for me, and you don't look back!"
Sam didn't say anything else, just looked at Castiel and firmed his jaw.
Dean didn't even see Cas move; his fingers were just suddenly there, on his head, dragging him away from his brother. The last thing he saw was Sam turning to face the creature that wanted to consume him. His final thought was 'failed, failed, failed'.
When the world went black he hoped it was because he was dead too.
He should've known he wouldn't be that lucky.