Sam’s heart was a visceral thud against his ribs as he looked up at the familiar face behind those rust-encrusted bars. That face that had haunted his dreams until today. That face that God Himself had bade he look at again, even though it was the last one in any realm, Heaven, Hell, or Earth and beyond that Sam wanted to see. Lucifer. He knew what Lucifer had done to him. Torture, abuse, horror beyond anything even Dean with his Hell expertise could imagine. But Sam just couldn’t remember. Any of it. Castiel had stripped any remnant of the from his mind, and that’s what scared him. That Lucifer would look at him with those deceptive blue eyes, that his forked tongue would worm its way around Sam’s will, that Sam would remember that unholy, fleeting moment of wholeness with the Devil before he’d chosen the side of humanity. That Sam would cave again. That was what made his strong hands tremble under the eyes of this ancient creature.
“So have you thought about it Sam? Do I have an invitation to look forward to?” Lucifer, ever the friendly, cold thing smiled. Dean screamed no at him. Castiel grabbed him by the shoulders and growled ‘are you crazy?’ Sam, the Sam who couldn’t remember, shook his head, wide-eyed with fear in a terrified corner of his own head. The voices of his friends were right. Freeing Lucifer was like freeing a tiger to kill a pack of wolves. True, the tiger might kill the wolves, but then…then you had a tiger on your hands. So Sam set his shoulders.
“No.” He couldn’t meet Lucifer’s eyes, afraid that the tinge of disappointment in himself would be reflected in the archangel’s gaze. “I won’t do it. There has to be another way.”
Sam turned away from God’s solution, even though it warred in him. But in a way it was a breath of relief. No Lucifer. His torturer, his nightmare would stay locked away and there would be another solution. There always was.
A crackle and whoosh of flame came from behind his turned back, and the glimmer of light in the cave flickered darker. Sam turned. He couldn’t hear Crowley and Rowena’s murmured words from the viewing platform as his heartbeat crowded his ears. The fire, the barrier around Lucifer’s parole cage had vanished and the wards burned out, but all the hunter could see was triumph on the Devil’s face. So he turned to run – straight into the bars. No, no, God, no. Sam turned, pressed himself back against the lines of cold metal. He was in the Cage with Lucifer. All over again. A lesser man might have emptied his guts with fear, but Sam just stomped it down as the archangel prowled towards him. He had to be strong. This was what God wanted. He was Sam Winchester, and he’d faced the Devil before. He could do it again.
“Hey Sam Winchester. You miss me?” Lucifer pointed at him with a prideful smile. “Bet you did.”
Sam’s finger’s trembled against the bars behind him, but then he remembered the calm he’d felt when he’d seen the burning bush, the sense of security he’d touched in his dream of Lucifer’s Cage with the Devil’s hand on his cheek. God was with him, and God would protect him. For once in his life, Sam had been chosen and protected by a power of good, and he clung to that. So Sam closed his eyes. Took a breath. Didn’t give Lucifer the satisfaction of his fear. When he opened them, he looked back at the Devil with resolve. Satan looked oddly confused.
“I have to say, you’re extraordinarily calm, given the circumstances.”
“It’s pretty much exactly how God told me it was going to be.” The hunter tried to fill his voice with confidence, but it was still shaky and breathy around the edges. “I guess I just have to go with it and play my hand.”
Lucifer raised his eyebrows, and just considered him for a moment. Sam didn’t know how a forbidden lie tingled on the tip of the Devil’s tongue. A cornered creature with hidden desperation.
“Okay, Sam, okay.” Lucifer paced for a beat in front of him, and rubbed his lip for a moment. “So you say this is all Dad’s will.”
The blonde gestured around, then between the two of them, and Sam just nodded, focussed on his breath to ease the burn of adrenaline in his light head.
“You, me, here together. Wouldn’t you say it kinda feels like he’s setting us up?” Lucifer shot him a wink, and Sam inwardly balked. Despite his memory loss, he knew Lucifer was a sexually potent being, and his hallucinations hadn’t been subtle. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what the archangel had done to him. When Sam didn’t say anything, Lucifer just continued. “So what happens now?”
“We find another way. I find another way. It’s no, Lucifer.” Sam realized he was kind of frozen in place, back pressed so hard against the bars it hurt. So he breathed. Tried to unstick his muscles and prepare himself for a fight. Those pale, deep-set eyes considered him for a long moment, and the silence thundered on Sam’s brain. He couldn’t break that gaze, he couldn’t look away from his nightmare in case it came for his throat.
“Y’know, I could let you go free. You can walk out of here. I can be very generous when I want to be. You know that.” Before Sam realized what was happening, Lucifer’s hand stretched up and tucked a piece of his hair behind his ear. The hunter flinched and skittered sideways, away from him.
“Don’t touch me.” Sam’s voice came out hoarse. Lucifer just pulled his hand back in, expression unreadable, and cocked his head. “If you’re gonna let me out, let me out.”
“And then what, Sam? Looks like God sent you to a solution. If God had a better plan, I’m entirely sure he would have ranked anything above me.” The archangel’s tone turned bitter for a moment, and it shocked Sam into the memory of the pair of them in one body, in Stoll Cemetery. How Lucifer’s Grace had twisted and burned so cold with anger against Sam’s soul as the Devil and Michael had discussed their father. The logic…it…it did ring true. “Together we’re an unstoppable team, Sam. Don’t you remember? Deep down, you know it. You wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
“No.” Sam shook his head, because if he didn’t say no, he was afraid of what else he might say. “If you are set free with me as your vessel, then you will burn the world after we defeat the Darkness. That’s what you want, isn’t it? Michael’s out the way to try and stop you. Dean and Castiel can’t hurt you when I’m your vessel. I’m not stupid, Lucifer. I won’t do it.”
“You’ve wrangled me before, Sammy. So little faith in yourself to do it again?” Lucifer shot him a coy little glance, but Sam wondered just how exactly he’d hit the nail on the head.
“That was luck. You were a mess and I was desperate.” The hunter noticed how Lucifer’s jaw worked at the reminder of how Sam knew how distraught Michael had made him. He’d been distracted, overwhelmed by hatred and anger, and Sam had made the most of the chaos. It was the last thing he could remember between them; Sam’s iron-cast will against Lucifer’s hurricane of rage.
Lucifer let out a long sigh through his nose, and paced a little more, hands interlaced near his belt. The next time he spoke, his voice held no innuendo or chipper friendliness. Yet, it didn’t hold a threat either.
“I could make you a deal.” The Devil looked up at him again, blue eyes curious.
Despite himself and the situation, Sam let out a short, clipped laugh.
“You make the terms. If I break them, I am cast out of you.” Lucifer paced toward him again, and Sam forgot to breathe. This was the Lucifer he truly feared. The reasonable one. The one he didn’t know was real or a façade put on to lure him in.
“You’ll find a loophole.” Sam managed out. With those words, the Devil had brought him to the brink of a cliff and it thundered in his chest.
“Then make a good deal, Sammy. Cards are in your hands.” Lucifer opened his palms towards him, and one part of Sam’s brain whispered that this was how they fell off that cliff. Not with a push, but with gentle nudges in the right direction. But where Sam didn’t have faith in the luck of his will versus Lucifer’s strength, he did have faith in his intellect. Case-building, puzzle-solving, double checking and research. This…if he played his hand well enough, this could solve all their problems.
“How about when Amara is defeated, you return to the Cage.” Sam spat, and tried to hide his process with a visceral emotion. If Lucifer knew Sam was even thinking about it, he’d dig his claws in deeper.
“Nope.” Lucifer spun away from him. “Cast out of you. That’s my bottom line, dealer.”
“Then no deal! You’ll find another vessel!” For the first time since he’d found himself trapped in the space with Lucifer, Sam stepped a little way off the wall.
“Sam, really?” Lucifer turned back to him with raised eyebrows and crossed his arms. “You know it took billions of years to breed you, right?”
Sam couldn’t help the look of disgust that crossed his face at the word ‘breed’, but Lucifer ignored it.
“Other angels, even the two lesser archangels, sure, they have a few candidates. But Mikey and I?” He pointed to himself, lips in a sour pout, almost exasperated. “You had to be tailored from Creation Day. Michael’s lucky your father slept around. It took thousands of years for my demons to breed Nick, and you saw how weak he was. If I’m cast out of you, I’m cast out forever, and I can’t interfere on Earth without a vessel. So. Your reward: we all live. My reward: No more Cage. Do I hear an offer?”
The edge of the cliff seemed so much closer.
Sam hated how…reasonable that was. He hated how a tiny piece of his heart latched on to the undertone of desperation in the Devil’s words. He hated how he couldn’t remember how this bastard had treated him. He hated the choice; himself or the world all over again. But there was really only one answer. One, forbidden fruit he could never bite, but now…
“We’ll talk terms. Then I’ll decide.” Sam’s voice shook a little, still hoarse and defiant. But perhaps this was what God had meant after all. Maybe Sam was the one thing in all of creation that Lucifer was willing to put down his pride for and bargain with.
“Excellent.” Lucifer shot him a perky smile that almost made him regret the words and conjured a book bound in thick leather. Another one appeared beside Sam. “Shall we make a list?”
Sam didn’t know how much time had passed. Time crept along slower in Hell anyway; it might have been less than an half an hour on Earth, but that could mean a day down in Hell – Sam was too distracted to do the maths. Crowley and Rowena hadn’t returned. They’d left Sam and Lucifer to sit in the holding Cage and go through a prospect that made Sam’s throat tight with anxiety, but the overall future look a bit brighter.
“No flirting.” Sam glared and Lucifer crinkled his nose in disagreement.
“Part of my nature, Sammy. I am the Sin King after all.” Lucifer sat against the right wall perpendicular to Sam. At first, the hunter had insisted on opposite ends, but the yelling had been a bit ridiculous.
“Okay then, no abuse. Verbal, physical, soul, all planes inclusive. Don’t try and find a loophole in that either.” Sam had just taken to putting the clause ‘don’t try to find loopholes’ on every request, as he was sure Lucifer would try if he didn’t.
“You know you’re safe with me Sam.” Lucifer said mildly, but penned it down anyway.
“Don’t.” Sam scowled at the floor and missed The Devil’s curious expression. He could take reasonable Lucifer, but one that pretended to be kind, after all he’d done? Honestly, he could fuck off. “Oh, and stop Dean or Cas or anyone that might in any way tell them from finding out unless I want them to. If they know, they’ll put everything on hold until you’re back in the Cage.”
“Sammy, some things are beyond my control. But I won’t tell them directly, and I will try and stop them finding out because I agree with you.” Lucifer scribbled something in, and Sam read over what he’d put down; the book Sam had showed what was written in the other one.
“Fine.” Sam grated out, jaw tense. He didn’t want to be nice or get along with Lucifer. He was going to keep their conversations as clipped and clinical as possible. “You also don’t remove any of my senses or perception; I get to see everything you do unless I choose not to. Don’t try - “
“ - and find a loophole in that either.” Lucifer finished for him and wrote it down. There was a stiff silence as Sam read over what they wrote.
“Let me add clauses in later.” He knew he’d miss something, he just knew it, and Lucifer would find it…
“No can do.” Lucifer shot him a wan smile. “A deal with me is much more than a deal with a demon. You make it once and it’s set. It’s powerful. I can change it no more than you can.”
Sam’s gut twisted at that. He’d be locked in – or Lucifer would be locked in him.
“Oh yes, if you try to bait me into breaking your demands, you forfeit them.” Lucifer got to his feet and paced – the archangel had never been able to stay still for long. Sam didn’t like him in a more dominant position, so he scrambled up too with a yelp.
“Mm, you’re asking a lot of compliance from me. I’m just asking that I don’t get cheated.” Lucifer pressed the pen against his bottom lip and speared Sam with his cool gaze. Sam glared right back, angry and almost ashamed at how accurate Lucifer’s foresight was. But It was the only request Lucifer had made, and honestly, it was fair.
“Fine, but only if I actively try. If you interpret something wrong, it’s not my problem.” He huffed, but Lucifer just grinned a wicked grin Sam so didn’t trust.
“The spell can tell roomie.” Then he penned it down. “That everything?”
Sam read over it once, twice, then nodded. This was it. His toes were over the edge, but he could still climb back, still say no. Adrenaline crawled up his chest, and even though the thought of a yes felt dirty…they had to stop the Darkness. And Lucifer would be bound by the deal. In his head, Dean and Cas still told him he was an idiot, and he might be. But he trusted God. God had made this call. So Sam set his shoulders with a deep breath.
Lucifer’s eyes gleamed triumphant, and that blared danger klaxons in Sam’s head, but so did everything about the Devil. Lucifer happy was never a good thing, but Sam had faith in his terms. He’d be safe. The world would be safe. The rest…they’d deal with it.
“I said I would never hurt you, but these wards will hurt.” Lucifer pressed a hand against Sam’s chest before he had time to react, and he gave a cry of agony as deep pain seared inside him – like the sigils Castiel had given them years ago, but all over, even up onto his skull. “Angels, demons, all creatures with perception of me will not be able to see I am possessing you now. Only God and the Darkness will be able to, and the other archangels if they were alive.”
Sam gasped against the bars, hands clutched to his chest, but Lucifer pressed a palm to his forehead.
“There’s the Enochian I promised you.”
Sam had insisted that if Lucifer had to do the deal in Enochian, he must be able to understand it as well. No cheating.
“Stand in the middle.” Lucifer could have dragged him there, yet he didn’t. Sam didn’t trust the nice behaviour, but he wasn’t going to test it. So he pushed off the bars and stood in the centre of the parole cage. For a moment, Lucifer closed his eyes, then paced around Sam chanting. Sometimes the archangel would place a hand on him – between his shoulders, on his heart, on his forehead – but since it was part of the process, Sam allowed it. Besides, there were other things to focus on. As Lucifer spoke their terms, Enochian symbols danced white across their skin, then plunged out of sight to welcome a new wave. They glittered and cast light spots on the walls, a mirror ball of curved writing across the jagged rocks of Hell.
When all the Enochian had been absorbed, Lucifer stepped in front of him and opened those predatory blue eyes.
“Sam Winchester. The pact is ready to be sealed.”
Sam swallowed audibly, mind already on what that meant.
“How?” His voice was barely a whisper, and it took all his will not to shrink away.
“Same as a demon deal Sam. They all take after their father after all.” Lucifer’s lip quirked, but those eyes never broke contact. Sam’s breath hitched in his throat, and he couldn’t help but take a step back when Lucifer advanced on him. This part shouldn’t be the most terrifying but…maybe he was afraid it would snap back horrific Cage memories. Maybe he was afraid because this was the final step, the leap. Maybe he was afraid because he might enjoy that cool touch, like in his dream. But what had to be done had to be done.
Sam steeled himself against the white-out adrenaline behind his eyes, the hammer of his heart against his engraved ribs and let Lucifer cup his face in both hands. For a moment, a stupid moment, he lifted his gaze and saw an energy, an exhilaration in those icy eyes, and then Lucifer’s mouth pressed on his. The effect was immediate; heat flooded across every inch of Sam’s skin, his heart raced so hard it might explode, and deep down something broken and lonely stirred. Something that keened for this. He had his hand balled in the side of Lucifer’s jacket before he could stop it, he opened his mouth for Lucifer’s tongue before he could pull away, and those hands on his cheeks lit him up. A deep, bass throb hummed around them, and light gleamed against Sam’s eyelids from their skin. The sense of something old, forbidden and vast thrummed around him, through him. His very human core shook, all primal instincts – fear, rage and lust – roiled in him, and for a moment, Sam felt like a small primitive animal in the arms of something horrifically wild and ancient.
The bass rumble zeroed into a pressured silence…then its magic burst, crackled up his bones, lit his eyes up blue-white. The kiss broke as his head flew back, but Sam shoved Lucifer away when the archangel tried to hold him on his feet. The hunter scrambled back on the floor and panted for a moment in terror. That small part of him, the one that had reached out for Lucifer’s touch cried in anguish, but he shook in fury at it. This was wrong. It was all wrong. How dare he feel like this. Blood dripped on to his shirt from his nose, and he brought a slow gaze up to Lucifer, horrified. The Devil panted, eyes full of fire. Hunger. Lucifer looked starved, and the intensity made Sam scramble right back against the bars again.
“One word.” The blonde archangel’s lips were tight, and the sentence came out like a growl.
“Hey! Assbutt!” A familiar voice shattered the tension, and Sam turned to see his brother and Castiel charge across the cavern. No. No, it was too soon. He’d been ready. He was ready. Lucifer turned like a thundercloud towards them.
“Dean. Uhh, the other one.” Lucifer snapped his fingers, and brought them into the cage as well. Sam had no idea what to do. He couldn’t let Dean and Cas see Lucifer possess him. He couldn’t let Lucifer kill them either. “Welcome to the party.”
Lucifer slipped back into playful before Sam had even regained a working thought process. That kiss had left him gutted of all sense. He couldn’t even bring himself to speak with lips that still tingled hot, and even if he could, his brain just couldn’t form words. No, it was the ritual. Magic, not emotion had made him dazed.
“Scared?” Lucifer smirked at Dean and Cas, but it was pretty obvious.
“Not even a little.” Dean denied completely. Castiel just slid his angel blade out, but to what end, Sam had no idea. Only an archangel blade could kill the Devil. But he didn’t want them to. Even if Cas had somehow dug up an archangel blade from somewhere…Sam didn’t want Lucifer dead. Not…yet.
“Uh uh uh.” Lucifer tutted at the knife. “At moments like this, it’s all about ambience.”
Dean and Castiel shared a confused side-eye, and even Sam dipped his eyebrows. Then Tavares’ Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel picked up from Lucifer’s Satan Speakers, and Sam fought the odd urge to smile.
Dean and Cas had other thoughts, however. Cas bravely leaped at the Devil with his sword, while Dean rushed over to Sam’s side. He touched where Lucifer’s hands still burned, and Sam realized Dean thought he was injured.
“You can’t win.” Sam panted, still breathless, as Lucifer merrily punched Castiel in the face. Unfortunately, Sam’s rules that could have saved the angel’s nose didn’t apply until he was possessed.
“We don’t have to win. We just have to last a few minutes.” Dean reassured, and Sam’s head suddenly clicked into place again. They couldn’t kill Lucifer. So they were going to send him back to The Cage to save Sam and this opportunity to save the world would be destroyed. Sam couldn’t…he couldn’t let that happen. Not now. He’d brought the Darkness with his efforts to save Dean, so it was on him to send her back. It would be so easy to cave, to say to himself that his big brother knew best. But Sam was connected to Lucifer in an indescribable way. As the Devil had said once before: it had to be him. It always had to be him. God had known that. There couldn’t be any other explanation for the visions. God needed Lucifer, and Sam could deliver.
Sam scrambled to his feet and grappled Lucifer’s arms to stop him punching a hole through Castiel.
“We only have a few minutes. You need to distract them.” He murmured in Lucifer’s ear as Dean’s punch snapped the archangel’s jaw sideways.
“You hit like a human.” Lucifer almost laughed and threw Sam off, but only enough to get free; a sign he hadn’t lost himself to the fury of the fight. One uppercut to the jaw was all it took to deck Dean, but when Lucifer turned to Sam, Castiel jumped on his back. The angels tussled for a moment, and Sam went to his brother. There was a pulse, but he’d dropped like a rock. If Dean was out for a few minutes…
Behind him, Castiel collapsed against the cage bars, blood in streams from his nose and mouth. His eyelids flickered, dazed. This was it. Sam grabbed Lucifer by the jacket, yanked him off Cas, and jumped off the cliff.
“Yes.” The whispered word burned hot with blind adrenaline up his throat, gone before he had a chance to stop himself. Lucifer’s lip curled in a wicked, exhilarated smile as he burned white, a supernova of power. The whole cage burst with light as Sam felt the Devil pour into him, right back into the perfect mould he’d fitted into before. A forbidden satisfaction tingled through him, but that was nothing compared to what he felt from Lucifer. A deep, grateful calm seemed to swell out from the being, like a happy cat nestled into its favourite blanket. There was only one word that fit the sensation: home. Lucifer’s being thrummed with that word. Sam had forgotten, but he hated it in its beauty. He’d lied to Dean and betrayed him. He’d betrayed himself, the amnesiac who had suffered unspeakable torture under the creature he had succumbed to again. He was despicable and corrupt all over again, but all he could feel was right.
Dream team’s back together again, huh? Lucifer’s amused voice whispered in his mind, an evil comfort. Here. Take the wheel for now.
So Sam blinked back to the world, painfully aware of Lucifer behind his eyes. Oh God, what had he done?