Dean got there just moments too late. Sam met his eyes, terrified and penitent, as light started to build in the centre of the spiral, before rushing out to engulf the entire church.
The world was all light and heat, growing brighter and hotter until Sam thought he was going to burn in it, and then – nothing. The light died away, and then was simply gone, as though it had never been. Sam blinked around. The church was pretty much gone, reduced to rubble, but Sam… Sam was fine.
He looked around in alarm for his brother, but Dean was just standing there, perfectly unharmed, same as Sam, wearing the strangest expression on his face.
“Dean?” Sam asked anxiously. Fuck if he knew what had just happened, but right now all he cared about was his brother. He could worry about the other stuff later.
It took Dean a moment to respond, blinking slowly. He looked about as dazed as Sam felt.
“Yeah. I’m fine, Sam. I’m… fine.”
As the words came out of his mouth Dean’s entire face sort of crumpled into a deeply incredulous look, like he couldn’t believe what he was hearing himself say. He shook his head, still looking bewildered.
“Come on,” he told Sam, after a second. “Let’s get out of here.”
Sam glanced around at the ruins of the church. After that lightshow, people were bound to show up soon to ask awkward questions.
“Yeah. We better go.”
They didn’t talk about what had happened at the church even after they got in the Impala, or after booking a hotel room. Sam felt shell-shocked and horrified, and imagined that Dean felt much the same.
He had no idea of the truth.
This, Lucifer-or-maybe-Dean thought later, was unbelievably fucked up. The fact that Grace-less, he was supposed to be Michael’s vessel, and had things gone differently might have actually ended up with Michael inside him, filled him with a sense of disbelieving outrage. Somewhere, his Father had to be laughing his ass off.
Dean-or-perhaps-Lucifer had been listening into angel radio since he’d gotten his Grace back, trying to figure out if anyone had known the truth about what was going on, but apparently none of the bastards running things upstairs knew the truth about what had happened to him – they all seemed to believe that Lucifer had been imprisoned in Hell, rather than being stripped of his Grace and being endlessly re-incarnated as a human. The only ones that Lucifer knew for sure had been aware of the truth were Michael and Gabriel, who had been present for his punishment; reading between the lines of what was being said upstairs, Michael had been missing for a couple of decades or so and no one knew where he was or what he was doing, while Gabriel had apparently fucked off ages ago and no one knew where he was, either.
Everything looked suddenly different now that Dean-yet-Lucifer had his Grace back. Castiel, for a start. As just-Dean he’d been completely clueless, but now he wondered about the little seraph’s strange friendship and the fact that he’d unexpectedly jumped ship to the Free Will Boat. He was pretty sure that Castiel had actually, possibly had a thing for him, but that the other angel hadn’t realised that any more than he had. Dean-yet-Lucifer wouldn’t have been sure what to do with that, except that it didn’t matter anymore, because according to angel radio Castiel was dead. Raphael had smited him, a fact that made Dean-yet-Lucifer burn inside with fury.
“Dean? Are you glowing?” Sam suddenly spoke up in the darkness, interrupting Dean-yet-Lucifer’s thoughts.
Dean-yet Lucifer tried to feel less angry, and hopefully less glowy.
There was a pause.
“Dean, you’re glowing.” Sam’s voice was definite this time, rather than incredulous, and there was a wary edge to his voice.
“Dammit, Sam, can’t this wait until morning?” he asked. “Today was seriously fucked-up and I’d like to have some time to deal with that, and wait until tomorrow to talk about whether I might or might not be glowing.”
There was a much longer pause this time.
“Okay,” Sam said cautiously.
Dean-yet-Lucifer rolled over and glared at the wall, which he could see perfectly despite the near-total darkness. Cats had nothing on angelic vision.
He’d have to hide his identity, unless he wanted everyone being annoying about it and Sam freaking out, but that shouldn’t be too hard seeing as how no one upstairs had any brains. Except Cas. Who was dead.
Dean-yet-Lucifer snarled and buried his face in the pillow.
“Fuck my life.”
“Go to sleep, Sam.”
The fact that Castiel was dead shouldn’t be upsetting him so much, but the truth was that he’d grown inexplicably fond of the guy. Castiel had been… well, his, kind of, and the idea that Raphael had killed him was angering, that’s what it was.
He went back to glaring at the wall, and trying to wrestle the two very different halves of his identity into some kind of cohesive whole.
Who the fuck was he, now?
By the next morning Sam had mysteriously forgotten about Dean-yet-Lucifer’s strange glowing episode the night before. Dean-yet-Lucifer wasn’t exactly proud of himself for that, but this shit was confusing enough to deal with when it was only him who knew about it. Revealing the truth to someone else would complicate things, fast. He didn’t want to do that until he had a better handle on things himself.
He decided to think of himself as Lucifer, for the moment, even though he was pretending that he wasn’t. He wasn’t completely sure why he was pretending not to be himself, instead of going out and starting the apocalypse like he’d planned, he just… couldn’t, for some reason, he thought grumpily, glancing at Sam, who was staring into his coffee with a sad, crumpled face like he was blaming himself for all bad things, ever.
Lucifer rolled his eyes at Sam’s propensity for guilt and self-blame. Please, like Sam had actually had any kind of role in this other than as a pawn. The angels had orchestrated the entire thing. They’d been calling all the shots, this entire time.
Well, not anymore. Lucifer almost smiled to himself. None of them had any idea who he was, except for the two archangels who had conveniently skipped out on Heaven.
He kind of wished that Castiel was still here to help him screw up all of Heaven’s plans.
“We need to go to Chuck’s,” Lucifer said abruptly. Sam glanced up. “Cas… he was going to buy me time… there was this archangel…” He took a deep breath. “I’m not sure he made it.”
Sam’s eyes widened, and a moment later the guilt in them redoubled.
“Don’t say anything.” Lucifer didn’t really want to hear Sam’s remorseful excuses, especially since it wasn’t really his fault anyway. Everyone had led Sam around by the nose, for God knew how long.
Besides, it had turned out great for him, hadn’t it? He was himself again, back to full power, and free. It was everyone else that Sam’s actions had sucked for.
They lapsed back into silence, Sam sitting miserably as they ate breakfast. When they were done, they headed for Chuck’s.
Chuck’s house was… not in the best condition.
Dean and Sam entered the devastated building warily, looking for signs of Chuck or Castiel.
Lucifer saw Chuck leap out before Sam did, but didn’t say anything as Chuck hit his brother over the head with the toilet plunger.
“Jeez! Ow!” Sam exclaimed, putting an hand to his head and reeling back indignantly.
Okay, so maybe Lucifer was a little angry at what Sam had done. But a toilet plunger to the skull really wasn’t that bad, in the greater scheme of things, considering how stupid his brother had been.
Dean paused on that thought, as it kind of sunk in for the first time that even though he was an archangel, he had a human little brother. Huh.
Yeah, somewhere his Father was finding this hilarious, he was sure.
Chuck lowered the toilet plunger as he realised who he’d just hit.
“Yeah!” Sam confirmed, looking miffed about the blow-to-the-head thing. Chuck opened his mouth to say something, but then he caught sight of Lucifer. His eyes widened. Ah, crap. The prophet knew.
Lucifer snapped his fingers, and the world froze.
Chuck blinked at Sam, who had frozen in a slightly ridiculous position, and glanced back at Lucifer with eyes full of fear. He held his ground, though, and Lucifer couldn’t decide if it was out of bravery, or fatalism. Possibly it was a mix of both.
“Lucifer,” Chuck managed to whisper.
“Apparently. The last twenty-four hours has been a shock, I’ll give you that.”
“You can’t tell anyone,” Lucifer said firmly, talking over Chuck. “No one, you understand me? I’m not sure yet what I want to do, but the last thing I need is everyone else deciding for me what my role in this whole frigging mess is. And I sure as hell don’t want Sam knowing that his brother is, well, me. The kid’s going to be suffering enough over this.”
Chuck stared at him.
“Do you understand me?” Lucifer persisted.
“You care,” Chuck said wonderingly, and Lucifer made a face.
“Maybe. Don’t make too much of it.”
He snapped his fingers again, and the world started up again.
“Where’s Cas?” Lucifer asked, as Sam rubbed his head aggrievedly. Chuck’s face fell.
“He’s dead,” the prophet said sadly, confirming Heaven’s reports. “Or gone. The archangel smote the crap out of him. I’m sorry.”
“Are you sure?” Sam asked, when Lucifer clenched his teeth.
“Oh, yeah,” Chuck insisted. “He, like, exploded. Like a water balloon of chunky soup.” He swallowed, looking ill at the memory.
Sam suddenly frowned, peering closer at the prophet. He waved a hand at his own ear.
“You got a –”
Chuck felt at his hair.
“Uh… right here?”
“Uh, the…” Sam gestured uncomfortably.
Chuck’s hand closed on something small, and he pulled it free.
All three of them stared at what was in his hand. It was a tooth.
“Is that a molar?” Chuck asked unhappily. “It is. Do I have a molar in my hair?” His expression slowly collapsed. “This has been a really stressful day.”
In spite of himself Lucifer couldn’t help feeling sorry for the poor bastard.
“Maybe some angel’ll fix your house for you,” he said shortly. “You know. Since one of them broke it.”
“I don’t think angels really do apologies,” said Chuck.
“So, what now?” Sam asked. Lucifer had no fucking idea, that was what.
“I don’t know.”
“Oh crap,” Chuck said, at the same moment as Lucifer became aware that they were no longer alone in the house. Several angels had just arrived.
“What?” Sam asked Chuck.
“I can feel them.”
“Thought we’d find you here,” said a familiar, hated voice, and Lucifer turned to glare at Zachariah.
The little twerp had turned up with his own private posse. Lucifer felt a flare of anger, and forced it down. This was no time to start radiating Grace everywhere, not if he wanted to stay undercover.
“Playtime’s over, Dean,” said Zachariah. “Time to come with us.”
Lucifer glared harder, and jabbed a finger at him.
“You just keep your distance, asshat.”
Zachariah just started blathering on about the angels didn’t start the apocalypse, they just let it happen, blah blah, Michael needed his meatsuit, blah blah blah. Lucifer’s eyes narrowed further the longer he went on.
“You can go to Hell,” Lucifer spat, interrupted Zachariah’s self-important monologue.
The jumped-up little angel just sneered at him.
“You listen to me, boy!” Okay. That was it. Lucifer was exploding them all, screw the lying-low plan. “You think you can rebel against us? Like Lucifer did?”
Lucifer’s lips curled back from his teeth in what could only be loosely described as a smile.
“Damn straight.” He caught a flicker of movement out of the corner of one eye, and glanced sideways. Chuck was painting a familiar sigil on the wall, presumably using the memory of one of his visions as a guide. Damn. It looked like Lucifer was going to have to explode Zachariah later.
The next instant Lucifer was thrown violently backwards into the ether as Chuck activated the sigil.
Fuck it. There went any hope of hiding who he was from Sam.
Back at Chuck’s house, Sam whirled on the prophet.
“What happened?” he demanded. “Where’s Dean?”
Chuck looked pained.
“I’m sorry to tell you this, Sam, but Dean, uh, he isn’t… he isn’t just Dean anymore.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Not all of Lucifer was locked into the Cage, you know. The seals, they were just holding back his Grace. He’s been, uh, re-incarnating as a human over and over the whole time, until you broke the last seal.”
“What are you saying?” Sam asked, although he found himself thinking back to last night, the weird expression on Dean’s face after all the light disappeared, and how he’d been acting kind of off ever since.
Chuck met Sam’s eyes sorrowfully.
“I’m saying your brother is the Devil.”
“That’s bullshit,” Sam snapped.
His phone rang, and Sam immediately dug it out of his pocket and answered the call.
“Hey, Sam,” Dean said. There was a faint, low mooo in the background. “Shoo. Go away. Bad cows.”
“Where are you? What happened?” Sam asked.
There was silence on the other end of the line.
“What does Chuck say?” Dean asked finally, and Sam felt his stomach drop.
“He says you’re the Devil, but that’s stupid.”
The silence this time was longer.
“…Dean?” Sam asked worriedly, as Dean didn’t answer.
“He’s not wrong.”
Sam’s stomach lurched. He stumbled to the nearest chair and sat down.
“What the hell do you mean, ‘he’s not wrong?’”
There was a sigh on the other end of the phone.
“Fuck it, I didn’t want to have this conversation this early. I’m still trying to sort things out myself.”
“Okay, fine. I’m Lucifer. You happy now? ”
“No.” Sam gripped the arm of the chair, hard.
“Yeah, well, tough shit, because I am. I always have been. I just didn’t know it for like, the last five thousand fucking years, not until you broke the seal and I got my Grace back and realised exactly how much I was screwed over.”
“Dean,” Sam choked out. He didn’t know how to deal with this.
“Calm down, jeez. What do you expect me to do, go and start smiting everything in sight?” Dean demanded. “Okay, so maybe there’s a few assholes I’d really like to explode, but really, I mostly just want to stay under the radar and get my head sorted. You think this is hard? Imagine how I feel.”
Sam had no idea what he was supposed to say to this kind of bombshell. His mind was just blank, as he grappled with the revelation that Dean, of all people, was Lucifer. It would have been hilarious, except that it really, really wasn’t.
“Sam? You’re being really quiet. Sam. Don’t freak out. Sam? Sam! Oh, for – this is exactly why I didn’t want you to know! Shit.”
Dean still sounded exactly like himself, furious and frustrated, sure, but that was nothing new. Dean’s anger issues had, like, tripled since he’d been pulled out of Hell.
Sam bit his lip as he was reminded of what had happened to Cas. Fuck. Cas and Dean had been getting pretty close before Raphael blew him up.
“Frigging cows! Fuck off, you walking pieces of hamburger! I mean it! Shoo!”
In spite of everything Sam had just been told, he couldn’t help but feel curious about where Dean had ended up after being banished.
“Where are you?” he asked again.
“Uh… somewhere in Iowa? My angel-GPS is kind of wonky right now. Yeah, Iowa, and I’m standing in a field being harassed by friendly cows. Ugh! Oh, gross, one of the fuckers just freaking licked me!” The next few words were all curses, presumably as Dean tried to fend off the cows.
“This is fucked-up,” said Sam. He wasn’t talking about the cows, although he had to admit that sounded pretty fucked-up, too.
“Dude, I spent most of last night telling myself that. It didn’t help.” Dean hesitated. “Are we okay?”
“You’re Satan, Dean. How the hell is that supposed to be okay.”
“It’s not my fault.” Dean sounded distinctly sulky. “Look, I’m gonna… Take the Impala, okay, and find a motel room somewhere. I’ll join you later, and we can talk about this.”
“I’m not sure what there is to talk about,” Sam said into the phone. “You’re the Devil.”
Dean made an exasperated noise.
“Dude, I’m still me. Come on, let’s just talk about this.”
“Good. Ring me when you get a room.” Dean hung up.
Sam put his phone away, and stared at Chuck, who was watching him.
“Sorry,” Chuck offered.
“Yeah.” Sam exhaled. “Fuck.”
Lucifer hung up his phone, and sighed. Well, that could have gone worse. Sure, it also could have gone better, but whatever. At least Sam was still speaking to him and (probably) willing to give him a chance, and it spared Lucifer the trouble of sneaking around and erasing Sam’s memory every time something suspicious happened.
He glared at the cows surrounding him, and vanished from the field. There was a nice little pie place in Ohio; he’d pass the time there until Sam rang.