"No, no you did not do this!"
Meg's wild face was just staring at him and Bobby, fresh from their jaunt into domestic terrorism and warehouse explosions. Everything ached but he still felt clean. There wasn't that stain that always seemed to follow him since all this began. That pressing blackness lifted and returned to sender.
"Do what?" Bobby said pulling out a knife as Sam fingered the trigger of his own weapon.
She didn't answer, just pointed at Sam and there was real fear in her eyes. Bobby turned on his heel and there was something like disappointment and terror building in that face like he had Lucifer in him.
"Still me, Bobby. She's upset because it's staying that way."
"Who did this?" she snarled, nostrils flaring and looking frenzied. "You'll know there'll be repercussions. He will shred you for this."
"He can try, Meg. But you can tell him that whole vessel hood deal he's selling doesn't apply anymore."
Bobby was speechless, staring at him slightly afraid. Sam fired a round of salt into her and managed to recite the first few lines of the old demon be gone standby to convince Meg to go on the defensive temporarily. Or run straight into the arms of her boss. Which, he reflected glancing over at the two freaked out faces with him, was essentially a very bad thing.
"Can you see anything in him anymore, Cas?" the old man asked quietly.
"Uh guys, I'll explain and it's not bad but can we flee? I'm thinking we should be fleeing as Luci's going to be pissed."
Mutely, Bobby nodded and they were in the truck, the old man stealing glances at him as they started the drive back to South Dakota.
"Not turning evil, Bobby. Exact opposite."
"Wanna bother to explain what idjit thing you did, you idjit?" Bobby asked, hands tight against the steering wheel as though it had personally offended him. Even if they weren't hurtling at break neck speed down the highway he knew he wouldn't be able to escape that look that was currently flattening him. The one that wanted to plead with Sam, the 'what did you do to this time' stare.
"Can we wait till we met with Dean? I – I only want to go through this once."
"That bad? No one did anything –"
Sam shook his head and held out his hand. "Private. It's just something really private."
Bobby nodded and turned his eyes back on the road, Cas still staring at him, seeming to sense something but not seeing.
"Dean's not here. But I'm sure he'll be glad to know you stopped by to show off your new vessel."
"I am here to make a deal, Sam."
"I think you have the wrong Winchester."
"I want to use you as a vessel for twenty-four hours."
"Does that matter?"
"Yes, yes it matters! Especially if you go flitting off to kill Lucifer using me. What do I get?"
"I will ensure you will never be his vessel and will be welcomed into heaven when the time comes."
"Michael, what will you be doing in my body for twenty-four hours? Why me?"
"I won't be going anywhere."
"Just hanging out next to my soul – "
"You understand now?"
"Yes? Nothing else, that's all you want?"
"His soul is already returned and with his mother.
"I – I'm actually not against doing this but I can't trust you."
"I understand. I will return in a few hours. Give me your decision then."
They never seem to flee fast enough though Sam figured it was really hard to outrun an archangel, fallen or not. Having one slam into the side of a truck to crash it has to be up there with weird life experiences. He was able to tell that Bobby and Cas were still breathing before he was being dragged out, thrown onto the ground and stared up at a snarling Lucifer, his rage no longer contained.
"You have proved my point, Sam. All humans betray."
Really, after all this somehow he was the bad guy for not wanting to end his home. Rage wasn't a good enough reason to kill billions of people or even just one person. Something in him seemed to spark and strengthen and he held on as Lucifer kicked his broken ribs trying not to scream too loud.
"I knew he hated me. He abandoned me for Dad and of course Dad's gone. So sorry, Michael, but was it worth it?"
Sam was dragged up by his shirt, his head lulling to one side. The hunter felt his body enter some kind of weird limbo between completely numb and sheer agony like it couldn't decide what to do. Lucifer was enraged, shaking him screaming but despite this, the pain, the threats he still had that feeling of safety.
"What are you smiling at, Sam?"
It took a few attempts to get his vocal cords to work, to free themselves and activate the proper nerves despite the pain.
"You're a complete bastard, Luci," he rasped.
"I would think you smarter than that."
Sam shook his head, or attempted to shake his head. He wasn't sure what was working at this moment.
"He did this out of love."
Lucifer actually snorted in disbelief and Sam had the image of a wild enraged bull charging straight for him in his mind.
"He took what's mine out of love?"
"He would still die for you. Switch places with you. Since my soul reflects your grace –"
He was cut off a hand constricting his throat and Lucifer looked almost insane with grief and jealously.
"Don't say it, Sam. Don't you tell me what he did to keep you for himself. It's what he always did."
"You should tell your brother. It will come out as this is rather noticeable and I could help explain it."
"He'd shoot you multiple times. With the Colt."
"That would be unpleasant but manageable."
"Look it's just that, well he would understand this eventually but you haven't helped with the trust issues and there would be all this angst. And he'd drink and say stuff and then we'd sulk and I'd rather put that off – Michael, are you laughing in there?"
"No. Of course not. I have no sense of humor."
"Why are you so different? Well at least from what Dean told me about you."
"My Father is not returning."
"I – I'm so sorry."
"He has given me choices. I have made many…missteps so I stopped time in the universe –"
"Wait, the whole universe?"
"Yes Sam, the whole universe. And I thought for a while."
"What do you plan to do?"
"I have not fully decided. And you should tell your brother about this."
"Did I mention all the groped by an angel jokes? Oh, wow, okay that is so not helping with my defense at being innocent of said groping."
"Your soul is not complaining."
"Sam, I –"
Everything hurt, his throat was dry but he could actually breath marginally so there was that at least. Just trying to get his eyes open was a chore but he managed and was rewarded with a dimly lit room that looked like an operating theater due the tiles and white everywhere. He had the sense that he was lying on something like a stretcher and that he may be tied down. Lucifer sat beside him, far more restrained but Sam could sense the coiled anger just beneath the calm in that face that was slowly burning away.
"Nice to have you back, Sam."
It was so not nice to be back but he bit it down. Lucifer let out a small put upon sigh and looked at him.
"Now Sam, be polite. Here I was always honest with you while you were sneaking around destroying our destiny."
"Did you ask what I wanted at all?" he replied, surprised that his voice was even this strong.
"He's tricking you, Sam. All he wants is perfection and anything that is not that he wants to burn it from the inside out. Now, we can fix -"
"He said you were beautiful to him even now."
He was backhanded so hard his teeth knocked together and he can feel the impact throughout him. It would not be surprising if something was fractured but he turned his face back defiantly. Pale eyes were on him and Sam wondered how close Lucifer was to the edge of just killing him.
"He feeds lies and promises that are often broken, Sam. If he loved me so much then why would he do this to me?"
"To keep your Father from killing you."
He felt what he thought was a knife at his throat as Lucifer lazily dragged it towards his now red cheek before holding it up.
"He's looking for his little pet, did you know that?"
"That's nice," Sam said, trying to hold down the hope and grief that were thundering through his veins.
"Do you know what this knife does?" and Sam shook his head. "It scars the soul, Sam. It carves it piece by agonizing piece until it is a sensitive weeping mess of brokenness. And he'll feel it right along with you due to his grace. He'll never get what he wants."
"Fuck you, Luci."
The devil just smiled in his patronizing manner and patted the sensitive red spot on his cheek.
"You will be begging in a while so take pleasure now. Shall we begin?" Lucifer leaned back and balanced the knife between his fingertips and Sam swallowed his terror down for one more minute. "Actually, I like this look on you. We'll wait a few more minutes. Give it time to really set in."
Michael, if you can hear me he has a knife that cuts souls. I don't blame you. I should have told you that a demon found me. It's my fault, tell Dean I love him, I don't blame you –
"I know, Sam. I didn't know in time. I found them both, Lucifer just standing over my little Gabriel."
"Michael, I'm sorry. Gabe came for us in the end, he saved us. He got us out."
"I lost him so long ago. I wanted one last chance with him."
"Was he even sorry for what he did?"
"He said it was our fault, mine and Gabriel's. Gabriel betrayed him for sniveling humans and that I abandoned him."
"Was that when you stopped the universe?"
He couldn't breathe, it was like his lungs just couldn't drag in enough and that terror he had had in check was now bursting to the point of smothering.
"He'll kill you."
"Even if he does find us he's still Daddy's little boy. He hasn't truly broken the rules yet and I doubt he will now. Can't let Dad down in the end you know. Must have the proper fight and all."
"You wound me, Sam. Now let me do the same to you."
Agony didn't even come close to describing it, that searing pain of being ripped apart molecule by molecule and he knew he was screaming. There was no way to be strong for this, to try to do anything but scream. There were no welcoming arms of unconsciousness and he felt like his whole body was feeling everything so much more, pain seeped into every cell.
Then there was so much fire and light and warmth and a terrible sound of the world breaking apart.
The air was cool, the pain was gone and there was a hand in his hair. His head was on something warm and comforting and he nuzzled into it.
"I am not a pillow, Winchester."
His eyes flew open and he realized in some ways Michael was like Gabriel to the point it hurt, rubbing on that still raw wound. The archangel smiled sadly at him. They were in a field or a park or something. Not that it mattered as long as it was far away from wherever he had been and he felt good, tired but good.
"Am I dead?"
"No, but you might soon be," Michael told him and pointed. Sam groaned at the sight of the Impala pulling up about twenty feet away. "He has such a creative mind. It is a shame he uses it exclusively for blasphemy."
Sam let out a small huff. "At least someone other than Cas can attest to those prayers."
"Why that angel never smote him just on principle I fail to understand," Michael murmured fondly and Sam really wanted to say it was probably love given all the long soul searching stares.
"Is Lucifer gone?" He can barely say it as he hears the Impala turn off and the door open.
"Yes, his remains are in heaven."
"He – he wasn't what you loved anymore."
To his surprise Michael gently kissed his forehead. "I know, Sam. Thank you."
"Best to get you up before he shoots me again."
"Dean, why do you shoot all the angels?" Sam muttered as Michael helped him to his feet still filled with an unsteady exhaustion and ground that was slightly uneven seemed unhelpful to this cause. Michael, forever unmovable, just let his giant frame lean into him for a moment.
His brother of course glared at the angel before wrapping his arms around him.
"They said they found you in time, that true?"
He nodded, choking back a sob. "Bobby and Cas?"
"Everyone's alright, Sam. Cas has his wings because I guess feathered douche here realized he was a feathered douche."
Sam would not be surprised if Michael just smote his brother momentarily at this point. He didn't want to think of the prayers any angel received during his abduction.
"Seeing as how he's emotional and more than likely suffered brain damaged at one point in his life I'll let that slide this time. I must return."
Sam pulled away from his scowling brother for a moment to look at Michael standing before them, so alien and impassive. There was a small pang of sadness over the thought that this may be the last time he saw him despite everything.
Michael nodded solemnly and then was in his face, their noses touching and a hand cupping the back of his head.
"Oh and Sam?"
"Yes?" he swallowed hard.
"Take good care of that soul. I don't want to see it hurt."
"Ah, okay. Um, does that mean I need to live as a recluse?"
"It would be so much easier to see you that way," the angel murmured with small smirk before he was gone.
Of course, his brother looked at him like they had no right to be related. Dean's stupid stubbornness got them to the point of Michael actually doing something and they saved the world but nope. Dean was focused on the smut.
"Don't start," Sam said stumbling slightly and his brother grabbed him to keep him upright to the car.
"You just got propositioned by an archangel."
"Let's stop talking about it."
"Oh, and FYI Sammy," Dean said opening the passenger side and almost shoving his giant frame in. "In the future a heads up is nice. Like 'Hey guys, going to screw the Viceroy of Heaven to save the world, I'll bring back milk.'"
His brothers face was a mix of worry, guilt, relief and a little anger. As the car door closed and Dean walked around to his side Sam knew any anger his brother had at him right now was totally justified. His brother slid in and closed the door but paused.
"You did good, Sam. I'm pissed you didn't tell me and you did that deal but I get it. I get what he wanted. And let me tell you, for your future relationship, you don't want to see him angry."
Dean started the car and backed out as Sam let out a sigh.
"We didn't plan it, that's not how it started."
"Well Sam, we got all the time in the world now. How did it start?"
"As a goodbye."
"What are you doing?"
"I am currently purifying your soul while inside you. Have you gotten lost somewhere?"
"No, not that snarky. I mean it feels like this for you is well…"
"I can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved, Sam. But if he asked forgiveness I would take his hand and lead him home. He will always be beautiful to me."