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I wanna talk about Lucifer.

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Mainly I want to say that, when I was writing Sam/Lucifer fic, one of the things that never left my mind was the image of Nick waking up to a gooey mass of thick, congealed, slippery blood inside the sheets with him.

There's no excuse for Lucifer. You don't excuse Lucifer's actions. Mostly you see the causes of them and witness the effects and, when writing fic or meta or stanning him, add items to the scenario or find reasons to change his outcomes or find reasons why he would end up worse off or better off or with someone or something like that.

But there's something about that first image of Lucifer's introduction to human interaction that never leaves me and, no matter how I change Lucifer or give him reason to stick around inside my story, I don’t ever fully set that image aside and hand-wave it.

When Nick pulls his bloodied hands up out of the sheets and starts shoving them back, that moment is very, seriously Godfather. One of Vito Corleone's last acts of terror upon someone he wanted to submit to him was to have that horse head shoved in the movie producer's bed which spawned this iconic cinematic moment and an image that conveys a message that's branded into our culture. You shove someone's prized, loved, most beautiful thing into bed with them and let the arteries drain out into the sheets and you show them that you own them.

Lucifer played on Nick this way. His wife was what he loved most, and probably who he thought most beautiful, probably the thing about himself he prized since she made their family of two into three. And Lucifer gives him this delusion of her blood in the sheets, soaking everything, and he panics.

It's a complete parallel. Lucifer already believes he owns Nick because his body is at least compatible enough to carry Lucifer around until he can find his way into Sam. He owns Nick just like the Godfather owns Mr. Woltz. And once he sees that there's no true way to resist, makes him an offer he can’t refuse, and he's got himself a new puppet.

Sometimes the Godfather didn't have to offer a threat that couldn't be refused. He could just dangle something beautiful in front of somebody, which is the offer that Nick gets; the chance at some kind of payback in this life for how he was wronged.

Again, Lucifer's introduction to the human race as we saw it was not just Nick being offered this beautiful package, his wife resurrected to offer him revenge upon the world. First it was torture. Hearing his child alive and seeing his wife alive and then being drenched in their blood. Sinking into it and reliving an abject misery.

This isn't something that can be waived away lightly.

Also, besides Michael, there's no one on the show who could be less convinced of the benefits of change. The whole point of the show up until Swan Song is that there’s these two brothers who refuse change in every element and possibility. Even to the point that they revel in the inevitability and destiny of their final fight. Lucifer expresses last-moment regrets, but Michael only barely returns the sentiment and fully insists that they keep down the path they're on.

It's that tiny inclination to change that gives Lucifer possibility enough as a character to pose and manipulate in fanfic. There's the shade of a promise that he could change, which is what we lean on most heavily when we're pairing Lucifer with someone, trying to give him happiness.

I don't like in fic when Sam is paired with Lucifer and he completely and always understands or even excuses Lucifer's season-five-era actions. I don't excuse Meg for Jo's and Ellen's deaths, I certainly don’t excuse Lucifer anything else he was doing at the time. Not just the Harvells' deaths, but, at the time, he was busy wiping every soul out of Carthage. He was dumping them all in a grave and sacrificing the few who remained to complete a spell. He wiped out an entire town, then planned on wiping out entire cities.

The actions of the angels, Michael, the demons, and Lucifer, up to that point, had all been responsible for driving the earth toward the cliff of Armageddon. Up until that point, everyone had been responsible, even the angels who 'just want paradise.' So all the deaths that resulted in seals breaking or were simply signs of the impending apocalypse (the fires, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., all covered on news reports in the backgrounds of episodes) were a joint effort between heaven and hell.

But at the point where Lucifer starts to raise the horsemen, he's the one doing most of the driving as far as mowing down human lives. The Winchesters are within rights to blame everyone equally, and in fact take a lot of blame themselves for breaking the first and last seals. But it's Lucifer who most tries to live up to his reputation after he's freed from the cage, and up until the showdown.

There is, of course, a reason Sam is Lucifer's vessel, and a certain amount of understanding Sam can have about Lucifer's rampaging and intent to cause mayhem, even if I don't think Sam is personally inclined to straight-up destruction. He still shares a wavelength with Lucifer and that makes it easier to put them together. But I can't see Sam ever forgetting, even if he were madly in love, that Lucifer put people to death. He drowned them fast and slow, in sudden torrents and by drowning their towns. In sudden lightning strikes and in the resulting wildfires that crept towards homes, bringing a slower death. In unleashing gleeful demons to possess and kill personally and unleashing the horsemen whose individual plagues crept across the populations they were exposed to.

There are other flashes inside Lucifer's actions in canon that make Sam/Lucifer, as a 'ship, appealing. So much so that the many arguments and meta pieces about how Lucifer and Hallucifer were not the same creature (and they weren't) are almost superfluous.

Lucifer refers to his vessel as Nick, often, almost as if introducing the other party to the person he's wearing. Castiel refers to his vessel as Jimmy a couple times (I think?) only after the events of The Rapture, but not before. He even introduces himself to Dean this wayoh this? This is just a vessel, ignore this thing.

Lucifer is super aware of the fact that he's inside a human and it's probably just because he finds humans so repulsive and so easily toyed with. Nick is basically the first thing he collected once he got out of the cage, the first in a series of prizes. But somehow, the way he is disgusted almost loops right back around into the realm of respect. We see it again right after Detroit, when he takes the gag off and lets Sam move around in himself. We see that Lucifer, despite the fact that this is all supposed to be about use, is somewhat respectful of the humans whom he's closest to. And it's never about respect for his father's beautiful creations. We're flawed abortions to him. Yet he respects some of us in personality.

The first thing he does for Nick is bring an image of his wife back. The first thing he gives to Sam is all the ghosts of his past. For Nick it's about filling him with the feeling of anger and grace and sadness and love and hope and failure all at once. For Sam it's about how carefully Sam tries to shield his reactions from Lucifer and how slaughtering those betrayers horrifies Sam. And when Sam is horrified by what Lucifer does in his body, Lucifer thinks it's only a front for how much Sam wants to enjoy destruction.

Lucifer is as obtuse as the rest of the angels, and sometimes that obtuseness is just as deliberate. But ultimately his misunderstanding of Sam's strength is what we think could draw him back to Sam. A trope we use in Sam/Lucifer fanfic. Like, you taught me a lesson, you've gotta teach me more. I've never had someone kick my ass that bad and I need it again. Or at least he could see the benefits of exposure to Sam. I like that idea and also the idea that he'd seek Sam out for companionship because he believes they are the same in a lot of ways and he admires that Sam isn't what he expected. Because, ultimately, Sam really did surprise Lucifer.

And once again, there's more meta on this from other people, so it's not like I really need to go into it, but there are big differences between Lucifer and Hallucifer and Sam knows what those are. He was scared when his wall was falling apart and the delusions were creeping in and he assigned them a face: Nick's face as Lucifer. But ultimately what Sam was most scared of was what he was exposed to in his own head in The Man Who Knew Too Much. Really, what he feared was his own soulless self; what he thought was the monster inside of himself that shared way too many similarities with original-recipe Lucifer, and his disintegration into a weak, used, broken thing and what could have happened to him in the hellfire, in the cage, at the mercy of the wrath of two very angry archangels.

No matter how much crept in on Sam, though, or what we saw Hallucifer say to him, we don’t truly know what happened to Sam in the cage. It's reasonable to assume that his experience was very different to Dean's, not just for the length of the stay, but because of his purpose in being there. Nobody planned on Sam getting trapped in the cage except himself. Dean's imprisonment in hell was plotted out, his torture scheduled and repeated for specific results (getting him to be the one to break the seal). Dean didn't simply languish in flame, and in the short time he was allowed to rest, he dreamed in hell of torturing his torturer.

NO. MATTER. WHAT. Hallucifer said, I think of him as a 100% unreliable voice. Hallucifer's characteristics and actions are completely contrary to the OG Lucifer from S05. We cannot say that anything he says is what happened to Sam. And Sam never confirms or denies anything. He's just scared of it all and so very unsure of the reality and reliability of his own memories that he thinks whatever Hallucifer says to him could be the truth or could not or could have been worse. We still don't know what happened to Sam in hell.

And that really still bothers me. As do so many of the other ways in which Sam hasn't been properly fleshed out or explained.

What Sam hasn't done is break down sobbing about what happened to him. There was a PTSD sort of catatonic state from what he remembered and his exposure to the knowledge, but really we don't know that anything happened except years of pain. We don't know if Lucifer batted him around the cage or if Adam endlessly choked him out or if Michael was the one to ride his ass. We don't know if there was some serious sexual torture like Hallucifer implies. We do not know.

That gaping hole in our knowledge is also majorly exploitable. The fact that Sam has come out of it with nothing more than Cas's siphoning off his pain is maybe a clue that he was locked into his own place in hell and it, in fact, was nothing more than him being stuck there in the heat and hopelessness. For all we know, since it was Lucifer's cage and there's a possibility that Lucifer felt some responsibility for Sam, he was able to lock Sam away separately. There are tons of possibilities.

Lucifer is just so specific and Sam constantly constructed as so vague that the pair of them are just really interesting to explore.

I was just thinking about this because I could almost see more sense in the show bringing back Lucifer at this point than Gabriel.

I'm glad it's not even on the table and I don't know why it would be except for the fact that they couldn't kill Lucifer and Gabriel was implied to be perma-dead-- EXCEPT for the fact that he always faked death.

But at this point, if you truly bring back Gabriel, you have to ask why he didn't intervene at any other point in the apocalypse or after. He certainly wouldn't come back on good terms with anybody. We'd have great hopes for him but Sam and Dean would be straight-up wrathful towards him. They'd think him a coward. They'd think he ran again.

Thanks to the hanging blood spell, Kali could bring him back from the dead, so he could have been truly missing in the intervening years, but almost any other way, he comes back as some kind of villain or coward. I wouldn't like that, no matter how much I'd like to see him on the show again.