When Death enters the Cage, he is unprepared for what he will find. (It’s easier to assume nothing in his line of work, but this goes even beyond that.) Death’s existence had happened just before Michael’s; he had been privy to the creation of the archangels, even if he hadn’t been sentient at the time. If it must be put in human terms, he supposed he saw himself as an uncle of sorts to them. To all the angels. God had not created any new angels since he had become obsessed with humanity.
And yet, in the cage with Michael and Lucifer is a tiny little graceling, nestling-fledgling with Sam Winchester’s memories and mannerisms. Oh the world was not ready for this. Still, he had made Dean a promise, and the world needed both Winchesters for what was coming. Abaddon hurtling through time, Metatron scheming away in the American West. Death had knowledge that he could not share but could not ignore. The world would need Sam Winchester.
But in needing Sam Winchester, the world might well destroy him. Not Death’s problem. Okay, a little bit Death’s problem, because the soul he had meant to take back to Earth was now mostly grace and being protected by two angry and hurting older siblings. Its eldest siblings. He would really like to avoid this headache.
“Lucifer,” he says lightly. “Michael.” Michael is the one who looks up at him, Lucifer barely acknowledging Death’s presence with any more than a flick of his tattered wings. The eldest archangel’s roiling form is already showing signs of damage from the Cage, and it has not been all that long, especially considering how long Lucifer was held here before this whole mess was set off.
“Death,” Michael says, sounding quite surprised. Lucifer’s wings twitch again as he curls an arm around Michael’s back. “Why are you-”
“I am here for Samuel.” Death has been standing upright, but he may very well end up having to crouch down to the level of the cowering archangels if he was going to have a conversation with them and get them to release their newest sibling from the grace they had wrapped him in.
“Why?” Michael asks, even as Lucifer growls.
“You cannot have him,” says the younger, baring bloody teeth. Everything about him is bloody, the Cage has done damage to its previously-escaped prisoner. Death wonders what was keeping him from falling apart like Michael was starting to. Perhaps it is having something to look after. Something to protect. Or maybe Lucifer was just used to the Cage’s machinations. Either way, Death had made a promise, and he kept his promises.
“I wish to take him back to his Earthly family,” Death says. Lucifer curls himself closer to Michael so that the small form of Samuel Winchester is sandwiched between them.
“You can do that?” Michael asks. His eyes are narrowed, but there’s hopefulness in the minute relaxing of his wings.
“I can take him back to his body,” Death agrees. “He will be in less pain there than he is here.” Lucifer curls impossibly closer to Michael, and Death is reminded of a fledgeling Lucifer craving comfort from his brother when something in Creation went wrong in those early eons.
“But we will not be there to keep him safe,” the younger whimpers, then yelps as the Cage lashes at him with its magic. The grace-being that is Sam Winchester lets out a sound of pain as well, cowering closer into the grace Lucifer and Michael had wrapped him in. Death loses their gazes then as they turn to their sibling, cooing and wiping away tears and drops of blood. Death is unsure how long he stays watching them sing Enochian lullabies, old ones from before humanity was a gleam in God’s eyes, but it is immaterial. No matter how long he spends here it will seem a few seconds to the humans and the angel who seems bound to them.
“You can take him away from here?” Michael asks, pleading, something he never would have done before the Cage started wearing at his sanity.
“I can, and will.”
“Mikha,” Lucifer whined, plaintive and grasping at Samuel.
“Lucifer, we want what is best for him.”
“He doesn’t want to be alone!”
“He won’t be alone, he will have Dean. And Castiel.”
“Castiel will keep him safe?” There was just a bit of a scoff in Lucifer’s tone. Death stayed quiet, letting the brothers speak.
“Castiel will do his best, and his best may be safer for Samuel than our best right now.” There was silence for a moment, Lucifer trembling. Michael continued. “He will be safe until we can get ourselves out of here.”
Now Lucifer did scoff. “We cannot get ourselves out.”
“I think we can. With time. Time that Samuel could spend away from this pain and danger. It may not even be particularly long, Earth-time, that he is separated from us.” Death watches emotions fight themselves across Lucifer’s being.
Then, gently, he speaks to the grace-soul he cradles. “Samuel?”
A flash of awareness, a gentle caress of ‘yes caretaker-safety-sibling-friend?. The boy has learned Enochian (is that surprising? Not particularly), but has not the vocal cords to speak it.
“You can go back home,” Lucifer whispers.
‘Am home?’ Sam pushes at Lucifer, confusion pulsing across his being.
“Home with Dean,” Michael says quietly, and Sam goes silent, quiet, still.
“Yes little one.”
It’s more an explosion of knowledge and emotion than it is words, Samuel down to raw understanding and sensation without his body, young as he is. Young compared to his other siblings. He has spent nearly two millennia in this Cage; he’s older than any human apart from Methuselah.
“You can go to him Samuel.”
‘You come with?’
“We will follow,” Michael gentled the fear that slanted through Samuel’s being.
“Run, Samuel,” Lucifer coaches. “Run with Death back to Dean and don’t look back.”
Samuel clutches Michael and Lucifer’s grace for a moment (eternity) longer before he lets go.
Death swoops in quickly, gently, cradling Samuel close to himself to pull the child into his dimension, where the Cage does not exist. From there it is a quick journey back to Earth, back to Dean and Sam’s animated, soulless, body.