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Shards of Glass

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Three years after the world doesn’t end, Sam opens the front door of his house and sees a familiar face on his doorstep. His eyes go wide and he’s stumbling back before it’s even fully processed, but there’s no question in his mind that this is Lucifer. He doesn’t even for a minute believe that this could be Nick, the poor bastard, because he’s shirtless and there are wings dragging on the ground behind him… goddamn wings, and they’re black as ink, feathers glossy and matted with blood and ash.

When Lucifer looks up, Sam pauses in his frantic, half-formed prayers to Castiel, pauses in his reaching for the Enochian-inscribed blade he keeps in his boot, because these eyes aren’t the eyes of the Lucifer he remembers. They’re haunted, and tired, and filled with so much agony, so much loathing of self rather than the more familiar loathing of everything else. Sam could never mistake that look. He’s seen it in the mirror too many times to count.

Against his better judgment, he finds himself relaxing slightly, his eyes still on Lucifer’s as he wordlessly seeks an explanation.

The devil takes a step forward, hesitates, his shoulders tense as his wings twitch. “I didn’t know where else I could go,” he finally says, his voice low.

“How did you get out?” Sam asks.

Lucifer’s jaw clenches, his hands balling into fists as he looks away, fighting his own pride to not answer the question. “My Father,” he finally says, grudgingly. “I asked my Father’s forgiveness.”

Sam’s eyebrows shoot up, because he’s been pretty up close and personal with Lucifer, and he has a good idea of how his mind works. That doesn’t even seem half possible, but then, Lucifer is here, despite the locks on his cage, and what other explanation could there be?

Lucifer continues. “His only condition was that I live among humanity, as close to mortal as someone like me can get. For however long he deems it necessary.” Those eyes, hard as steel and cold as ice, return to Sam’s. “Three hundred years in Hell, after finally experiencing the freedom of this world for so short a time…. It was not a hard decision. So he gave me this body and the means to fight my way out, and here I am. I suppose you can think of it as a…parole.”

Gaze finding Lucifer’s wings again, Sam takes note of how broken they look…torn, ragged and bleeding. Yes, Lucifer looks like someone who just spent a solid few decades fighting his way out of the pit. He steps back, still wary, waves a hand inviting the devil inside.

~*~

“So why come here?” Sam asks later, after he’s gotten more specifics of Lucifer’s story. Heard more, just the tidbits he’s been able to pry, about the tortures he suffered in Hell. And damn if Sam doesn’t feel sorry for him.

Lucifer hasn’t changed all that much, not really. He’s still arrogant, still too proud, still unreasonable and immovable about so many things. But he’s…open, as well. Open to the idea of trying, open to maybe believing that humanity isn’t the scum he’s always believed all these years. When Sam asked him what changed his mind, he didn’t get an answer, but he thinks he can read Lucifer well enough to maybe know anyway, at least in part. He ignores the way the idea of it – that it was him, him and Dean, who showed Lucifer what people could really be like – makes something go tight in his chest.

Lucifer is sitting at the kitchen table, hunched over with his forearms resting on his legs as he stares at the ground. “Where else would I go, Sam? And who else could I trust to show me what it is to be…human? Not only the good things, but all of it. If I’m to understand, if I’m to truly earn my Father’s forgiveness and do as he bids…I need to know. And you are the only person I would trust to show me.”

Sam goes still where he’s been rummaging in a cabinet for his medical supplies, and turns very slowly to look back at Lucifer, who doesn’t raise his eyes to meet Sam’s gaze. “You want to stay here? With me?” You trust me? he doesn’t ask, but he feels the question thrumming through him. Why?

“Do you remember falling, Sam?” Lucifer asks quietly.

Sam tries very hard not to. The inky darkness sweeping over him as he tumbled headlong into Hell is something that still haunts his dreams sometimes, but he’s come a long way in three years. Still, he knows what Lucifer is talking about. Before God came and swept him out of there, returned him to his brother, he can remember the feeling of Lucifer’s battered grace wrapping around him, protecting him from the horrors of the pit for no reason he was ever able to determine.

“At the end, it was your love for your brother that saved you, saved all of you. I…remember that love. I remember what it felt like to have that with my own brothers.” His wings twitch again, making him wince. “Feeling that so strongly, after so long…changed something inside of me. And changed how I felt about you. That was when you stopped simply being my vessel and became…” He waves a hand like that’s an answer to whatever it was he’s trying to say.

He still won’t look up, but Sam thinks he’s okay with that, because he has no idea how to deal with what Lucifer’s saying. He swallows. “Should probably get your…wings cleaned up,” he says.

Lucifer raises them slightly, makes a very small, pained noise and looks over his shoulder at them. “Yes, I suppose so,” he replies, voice tight.

Sam abandons his search and nods for Lucifer to follow him. He leads upstairs and into the bathroom. “You’ll want to clean them first. After, I can take a look, see if anything needs stitches or…” He flaps a hand. Whatever.

“They won’t,” Lucifer says. “They pain me because they’re…in disarray. Matted, filthy, but not truly harmed, anymore. They heal quickly.” He glances skeptically at the shower, looks back at Sam, and raises an eyebrow.

Sam scrubs a hand over his face. “Of course you wouldn’t have any idea how to work a shower.” He looks at Lucifer’s wings, admits to himself that there’s probably no easy way for Lucifer to clean them himself anyway, and if they’re hurting him that much….

Oh, this is such a bad idea.

Lucifer’s head is tilted as he watches Sam debate with himself, and when Sam finally curses under his breath and pulls his t-shirt off, the other eyebrow goes up. “Get undressed,” Sam says, resigned. From the moment he let Lucifer through the front door, he should have known to be prepared for anything. “You won’t be able to clean them yourself.” He shrugs, a little self-consciously. “I mean, if you don’t want my help….”

Lucifer hesitates, obviously battling his pride at needing the help to begin with. Finally, glaring a little, he replies smoothly. “I would…welcome your assistance, unexpected as it may be.”

Unexpected. That was probably an understatement. Sam tugs his socks off, but leaves his jeans on as he starts the shower. He doesn’t watch Lucifer shed the rest of his garments, just meets his eyes when he’s done and indicates for him to climb in. Taking a steadying breath, he follows, and is instantly overwhelmed by the sudden close proximity as steam begins rising around them.

This is a really, really bad idea.

He has a large shower, but Lucifer’s wings are hardly small, and it takes some very careful maneuvering for Sam to get behind him so that they’re both facing the showerhead.

“If you have an aversion to touch, this probably won’t work very well,” Lucifer says mildly, looking over his shoulder, eyes boring into Sam.

Sam reaches up in response, grasps Lucifer’s shoulder and pushes him a little, more directly under the steady spray of water. “Brace your hands against the wall and lean forward,” he says, trying to hide the raspy quality his voice has taken on.

Lucifer obeys without question, and Sam has to close his eyes for a moment against the thrill of that before he reaches out and gently touches the top of one folded wing. He runs his hand over the ridge, and Lucifer flinches. Against the wall, his fingers clench just slightly.

“I’m sorry,” Sam says, taking note of the way the feathers beneath his fingers are bunched and matted and out of place. Carefully, he begins smoothing them out, as gently as he can. He cards his fingers through the long, dark feathers, rearranging them, picking out the clumps of dried blood and dirt and bits of something that can only be sulfur as he smoothes them. Lucifer never makes a sound, but for a long time, his knuckles are white against the tiled wall, and Sam tries to work quickly. The water beats down around them, and his pants are soaked, but he doesn’t really notice the discomfort as he works, flicking his wet hair out of his eyes every so often.

His skin is close to pruning by the time he finishes, and he runs both hands over the wings, now clean and shining, his fingers dragging through the soft feathers.

Lucifer releases a breath that almost sounds like a moan, and Sam pauses in his movements. “Do they still hurt?” he asks, another apology on his tongue.

There’s a moment of perfect stillness. “No,” Lucifer finally replies.

“Then…” Oh. Sam drops his hands quickly, and the muscles in Lucifer’s back and shoulders tighten and bunch as he tenses, wings flexing.

What am I doing? What am I doing what am I doing what am I – He’s touching again before he can talk himself out of it, before Lucifer has time to move away, plunging his hands in those feathers, fingers gripping.

Lucifer’s head tips back, and he shudders on another moan. “What –”

Sam takes a step forward, all but plasters himself against Lucifer’s back. “You want to learn what humans are all about,” he reminds the devil. “This is a good first lesson, before you have to see all the bullshit.” He continues to catch and drag at the feathers, spreading his fingers wide to reach more at once, reveling in each tremor that runs through Lucifer’s body, not pain now, but pleasure. Pleasure that Sam is giving him. Pleasure that Sam wants to give him, and that’s a thought he’ll wait until later to dissect. “Tell me why you still have your wings, if you’re supposed to be almost human now.”

“How else was I…” he cuts off on a gasp as Sam bunches his hand in the downy feathers near the base of the wings. “…was I to get out of Hell?” he finishes after a moment.

Sam stills again, and Lucifer makes an irritated sound of impatience. “He made you mortal and then made you claw your way out?”

Lucifer’s head bows, water cascading down his back, over his wings. “Once, I was willing to Fall, willing to spend an eternity in Hell, before I was willing to bow before humanity. Is it not fitting that I should have to work all the harder to make up for that choice now? Do humans not fight with every breath to capture and keep their own freedom?”

When you fight for it, you value it more.

“I’m sorry,” Sam whispers, and strokes the feathers beneath his hands before Lucifer can get angry over some sort of perceived pity. Sam doesn’t pity him. He empathizes with him.

Lucifer pushes back, clearly finished with talking, and Sam’s hands plunge deeper, grasping at coiled muscle and strong bone and feathers that feel otherworldly and powerful the longer he touches them. He digs his hands into the bases, where wings meet shoulder blades, and Lucifer makes a broken sound of want, his breathing turning ragged. “Sam… Sam….

Sam leans forward, curling over Lucifer’s back, lips grazing the shell of the devil’s ear. “Let go,” he says softly.

Again, at the command, Lucifer obeys, and he trembles as he comes against the tiles, his wings shaking in Sam’s hands, breath released on a low cry. Lucifer is quiet in everything he does, it seems, and Sam decides then and there that he wants to break him, just enough to hear him lose control, to hear him scream. He vows that next time, he’ll see how loud he can make him go.

Oh, God, next time.

Sam’s breath catches just as Lucifer turns, the move so fluid and graceful that his wings turn with him, unimpeded, as though there’s nothing to them at all. And then the devil is pressing against Sam, is kissing Sam, his hands at the hunter’s waist, gripping tightly as his tongue slides into Sam’s mouth and Sam….

Sam melts into it like he needs the kiss to survive, like it’s the only thing he’s been craving his entire life.

“And this…” Lucifer murmurs, pulling away after an endless, blissful moment and pressing his forehead to Sam’s. “Is this what it is to be human? This…overwhelming intensity, all the time?”

Sam’s hands tighten where they’ve landed on Lucifer’s shoulders. “It can be. When you’re lucky.” He releases a slow breath. “Let me show you. Let me show you everything.”

“Yes,” Lucifer says, without hesitation.

Around them, the water has gone cold, but Sam hardly notices, buried as he is in the slowly-fading scent of sulfur and the tarnished grace of a fallen angel.