Hell is surprisingly peaceful, all things considered. Adam expects Michael and Lucifer to tear into one another, but instead they ignore each other completely.
Lucifer claims one corner of the cage, shivering violently and shifting his wings restlessly. Sam lies at the centre of the Cage, spread out on his back, and tortures himself with Lucifer’s image. The devil watches blankly as Sam inflicts the worst kinds of pain on himself, screaming and blaming Lucifer all the while. Adam watches the way bitterness slowly creeps into the fallen angel’s expression every time Sam calls him a monster, every time Sam begs him to stop and he can’t do anything but whisper back, I can’t, because it’s impossible to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.
Michael takes Adam and claims one corner of the cage, curling all four of his enormous wings around them to block Sam and Lucifer from sight. The way the light filters through his feathers is peaceful and almost surreal, and if not for the screaming Adam thinks he might be able to forget where he is.
For most of the first century, Adam stays curled against Michael’s chest and sleeps, dreaming memories that can’t be his – memories of watching the stars form, of hearing laughter loud enough to shake the earth, of Lucifer’s bright Grace and the impossible beauty of him before the Fall.
(Adam thinks he falls in love, then, with the Lucifer Michael remembers, the Lucifer Michael loves too.)
After a while, Adam jolts awake and it takes him a confused moment to realise what’s woken him. He can hear Lucifer slamming himself into the walls, the sound cracking and booming like thunder, but Sam is silent. Hesitantly, Adam shifts away from Michael enough to part the angel’s wings and peek through, hoping that Sam has finally stopped torturing himself.
The floor is a bare stretch of opaque white, like ice or bones bleached white under the sun. The Cage is empty, apart from Lucifer curled in the corner opposite.
“He’s gone,” Michael murmurs unnecessarily. “Death came and took him.”
“He’s…” Adam swallows, clenching his fingers around the feathers in his hand as he turns to face Michael. The wing twitches in his grip, like Michael is surprised by the sensation, and then goes still again. “He died? You can die in Hell? Where do you go if you die in Hell?”
“No,” Michael corrects, with careful patience. “Death took his soul out of here. He probably intends to return it to Sam’s body. One of my brothers came and took that away a while ago.”
“Oh,” Adam says, and then frowns. “What about me? Why didn’t Death take me, too?”
“I don’t know,” Michael replies, and Adam pretends he can’t tell it’s a lie.
Adam turns back to Lucifer, nuzzling into the soft feathers on the inside of Michael’s wing when it twitches in agitation. He’s vaguely aware that he should be embarrassed to be doing this, to be so intimate and affectionate, but he’s had these wings, this creature, folded in under his skin, wrapped around his soul and burning inside him – there’s no room for boundaries after that. Michael feels like a part of him, now, and touching his wings feels no more intimate than touching his own arm.
Lucifer isn’t moving anymore, except for the shivers that quake through his body and the four still-beautiful wings crumpled on the floor in a mess of strange angles. Even across the Cage, Adam can see that the feathers have been snapped and bent in Lucifer’s rage, and it reminds him of the way trapped animals mutilate themselves out of rage and frustration. The sight makes his chest feel tight, a dull ache settled behind his ribs like a bruise. He’s always liked fixing things, liked taking in birds with broken wings and feeding dull-eyed strays and saving people – it’s one of the reasons he went into medicine.
“Adam,” Michael says warningly, as he pushes through the shield of feathers. “Come back here now.”
Adam ignores him, crossing the Cage on bare feet to stop just out of Lucifer’s range, close enough to watch for warning signs and far enough to move before Lucifer can lunge at him. He’s not stupid – maybe Lucifer never hurt Sam, but Adam isn’t Lucifer’s vessel and Lucifer is still the devil. He’s still an archangel, and Adam knows more intimately than most how dangerous that makes him.
Adam watches carefully for signs of aggression or malevolence, but the devil’s expression is utterly blank – blank like Lucifer is daring him to step closer and find out the hard way if he’ll get hurt.
“What do you want, little Winchester?” Lucifer asks.
He says it tauntingly, with a smirk curled at the corner of his mouth, but there’s something soft and weary underneath, too. Something tired that makes Adam set his jaw and step forward into Lucifer’s space. For a split second, Lucifer’s eyes widen in honest surprise, but the expression is gone like light glinting off metal – brief and brilliant.
“Nothing,” Adam replies. “And it’s Milligan, not Winchester.”
“Your blood and your soul say otherwise,” Lucifer says, watching with narrowed eyes as Adam steps gingerly over the slumped arch of his wing. “You can call yourself what you like, but inside you’re all Winchester. Stubborn, bleeding-heart, self-righteous Winchester.”
Adam smirks. “Shut up, you’re making me blush.”
Lucifer makes a soft, amused sound and shakes violently against the wall, eyes fluttering shut. Adam frowns, watching his wings try to draw in around him and then slump uselessly back to the floor.
“What’s wrong with you?”
Lucifer opens his eyes, looking up at him from under lowered lids. He’s quiet just long enough that Adam’s pretty sure he’s going to lie or taunt him again, but then the archangel just sighs and closes his eyes again.
“It’s cold,” Lucifer says quietly.
“No it’s not,” Adam says, frowning.
The Cage looks like an ice-palace, all slick walls and frost-white floors that are slightly cool to the touch, but the temperature is comfortable.
“Not to you,” Lucifer says with a hint of disgust. “This place is… empty, void, cut off from Father’s love and all our brothers. For an angel, there’s nothing colder.”
“But Michael’s fine.”
“Michael had you – your warm, adoring human soul, cosseted in his wings. Did you think he was holding you out of love? Out of kindness? How arrogant, little Winchester.”
“Oh, that’s why you tried to help Sam?” Adam shoots back, glaring. “Out of selfishness? That’s why you’ve nearly broken your wings because you couldn’t?”
Lucifer’s jaw clenches, eyes hard and bright with anger, and Adam hears Michael shift warily behind him, wings rustling like leaves.
“Adam,” Michael calls again, low and full of threat. “Come back.”
Adam ignores him and uses a foot to spread Lucifer’s legs apart. The archangel’s anger falters in surprise, and Adam thinks it’s more out of shock at his daring than any kind of compliance that Lucifer allows Adam to manoeuvre his body into position.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m warm, right?” Adam says, lowering himself to the floor in the vee of Lucifer’s thighs. “This’ll help?”
Without waiting for an answer, he sinks back against his chest, biting his lip to stifle a gasp at the sheer, biting cold of the devil’s body against his. Lucifer is so cold it hurts, hurts right down to Adam’s soul. He can feel something sinking into him, something sharp and brutal like the very depths of winter, but he forces himself not to move
Behind him, Lucifer shudders, making a soft sound like an animal in pain. For a second, he doesn’t move, every muscle in his body held tight in restraint, but then his wings shift, curling in around them at the same time that his arms slide around Adam’s waist. The fan of his wings hides them from Michael’s sight as Lucifer buries his face in Adam’s neck like he can’t help it, mouth wet and cold as he breathes in shuddering gasps against the human’s skin.
Adam loses track of time as Lucifer’s fingers dig into his ribs, holding him too tight and too close to be comfortable, like maybe he’s worried Adam will leave if he lets go. When his grip does loosen enough for Adam to move, he starts combing the ruffled feathers of Lucifer’s wings back into place, gently tugging the ruined ones free and soothing the sting with soft touches.
At some point, Lucifer sucks in a breath and Adam looks up to see Michael’s wings cocooning them both, the other archangel’s fingers working tentatively at the feathers Adam can’t reach from his position.
There’s a guarded, almost shy look on Michael’s face that softens into quiet joy when Lucifer brushes his wing along the inside of Michael’s in acceptance. Michael presses back, and Adam feels Lucifer’s mouth curve into a smile against the back of his neck.