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if love is what you need, a soldier i will be

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September 30, 2009.

 

Sam groans, and it’s nights like these that he’ll admit that he misses Dean.  He misses how Dean would sacrifice his comfortable, warm bed to curl around Sam’s body and rub his skin warm, willing the fever away, how he wouldn’t sleep until Sam was still and quiet, sleeping soundly instead of fitfully, how he was just there, always, even without having to be asked.  But Dean isn’t here, and Sam knows it’s his fault.  Even if he wants to blame his brother, he knows, deep in his bones, that it’s his fault.

 

He rolls over, trying to pull the blankets tighter around him, knees curling up against his chest.  He hates being sick, hates that he has to call out from work, hates that he’s rendered into this shaking, groaning mess, hates that he hasn’t eaten in two days and he’s out of water bottles, but he can’t make himself leave his room.

 

He presses his face into his pillow and lets himself break, unwanted and scalding hot tears soaking his pillow.  He’s alone.  It’s doesn’t matter if he cries because no one is here to see him, to comfort him, and it’s all his fault.

 

Sam.”  The voice is so familiar, and Sam hates that it is.  He hates that he’s let this happen, let this voice get close and under his skin, hates that he doesn’t stiffen at it anymore.  It’s only been a month or two since he first heard that voice, but that’s all it’s taken.  He hasn’t said yes, he refuses to, but he’s said so much more, most times without even speaking.  “Sam,” the voice says again, and Sam doesn’t flinch when a hot hand curls over his shoulder, hot even through the sheet and comforter, and Sam leans into it, desperate for warmth.  “What’s wrong?”

 

Sometimes he forgets that Lucifer isn’t human.  It’s so much easier to just pretend that he isn’t the devil, that he isn’t an archangel, that he doesn’t want to wear Sam and destroy the world.  It’s so much easier to just pretend that maybe, just maybe he’ll change his mind.

 

Sam’s teeth clatter together as he opens his mouth to speak, and he groans instead, his lips forming a thin line again.  Lucifer pulls back the blankets covering his shoulder, and Sam hisses at the bite of cool air.  It’s not even that cold in the room, he turned the air conditioning off, but he’s still so freezing, his skin burning from the inside out.

 

He can practically feel the confusion on Lucifer’s face when his hand comes down on his shoulder again, burning through the layers of his sweatshirt and t-shirt.  “Fever,” Sam finally manages to chatter out, leaning his shoulder back into the touch.  A thumb strokes over his bone.  “Hot skin, cold body.  So cold,” he gasps, and then there’s a gust of cool air hitting his back, and he winces, groans, tries to squirm away until he feels the bed dip, and his whole body goes stiff.

 

Before he can really register what’s happening, Lucifer is wrapping them together, curling around Sam’s body like Dean, and pressing a soft kiss to his cheek like his mother, and Sam wants to cry.  “Sh,” Lucifer comforts, holding Sam tight, “I got you.”

 

Sam doesn’t nod, doesn’t speak, just pushes as close to the blistering warmth of Lucifer as he can and lets his heavy eyes close.  He sleeps soundly after that, and he dreams of Dean.

 

--

 

“I’m sorry.”  Castiel looks up, brow furrowing, and Dean shrugs, smoothing a thumb over the wrinkles.  “I shouldn’t have called you.  You’re busy.”

 

“Dean,” Cas sighs, leaning up and pressing a soft kiss to his mouth, “You needed me.  I’m not too busy for you.  Never.”

 

“I don’t want to take advantage of you.  I just—Sam won’t answer his phone, and Bobby hasn’t caught wind of him, and—” Dean breaks off, exhaling shakily.

 

“Sh,” Castiel soothes, and Dean pulls him tighter, relishing in the feeling of the angel against him, splayed half on top of him.  “It’s going to be okay.  You’ll see Sam again,” Castiel promises, tracing patterns into Dean’s bare stomach.

 

“Will you stay until I fall asleep?” he asks after a few moments of silence.

 

“I’ll stay until morning, if you want.”

 

“I’d really appreciate that.”

 

“Of course.  Go to sleep.  I’ll watch over you.”

 

Dean smiles, pressing a kiss to Cas’ forehead.  He’s always a little too fluffy for Dean, but he still gets that tingle in his bones when Cas says things like that, reminds him of how strongly they’re bonded.  It’s moments like these that he feels utterly at peace, despite everything.

 

--

 

October 1, 2009.

 

When Sam wakes, he feels strangely good.  As he rolls onto his back, the space behind him is empty, and he fights to remember if Lucifer was a dream again or if he’d told him where he was staying.  He does that sometimes, against his better judgment, but it just happens, without him really thinking, and he’ll refuse to admit that he does it because he likes the devil’s company, he likes having a friend, however creepy and strange Lucifer is.

 

The first thing he notices when he finally pushes himself up into a sitting position is one of his books, open, and laying pages-down on the small table in the kitchenette.  He blinks, head cocked as he looks at it.  The second thing he notices, when he finally tears his gaze away from the book, out of place and something he’s already read and quite recently, is the white container at the other edge of the table.

 

“Huh,” he says, pushing the blankets away and sliding out of bed.  He walks over slowly, sock feet shuffling against the carpet, and he actually smiles a little when he opens the container to find pancakes, of all things.  They’re still warm, and they’re blueberry, and Sam can’t help it as he glances up, and there’s syrup on the kitchen counter.  It looks so odd there, and Sam blinks, looking at it before he looks back down at the container, and he finally notices the note stuck to the inside of the lid.

 

They are not poisoned.  I did not even make them.  Though I do not think I would know how.  Your book is very interesting.

 

It isn’t signed, but Sam knows immediately who it’s from.  He blinks again, feeling strangely off-kilter, and this is the devil.  Sam frowns, trying to process that the devil brought him pancakes, actually knew to get syrup, and left him a note.  It’s bizarre.

 

Shrugging, Sam goes to get the syrup, and the pancakes are delicious.  He looks to see where Lucifer is in his collection of Rilke poetry, humming in approval, and then he spends the rest of his morning eating in a comfortable silence and trying to convince himself he is absolutely not going to summon him after.

 

Except he does.

 

--

 

It still surprises Dean everytime he wakes up and Cas is still there.  He feigns sleep most times after more than one occasion of Dean falling out of bed when he opened his eyes to Castiel’s blue eyes staring back at him.  He always “wakes” as soon as Dean does, though, smiling and kissing him softly, sometimes on the mouth, sometimes on the forehead, sometimes scattered over his body.  Waking up with Castiel is always different, and today is no exception.

 

Dean mumbles something incoherent and turns onto his side, nuzzling into Cas’ body and sighing.  Castiel laughs and winds his arms around him, planting a firm kiss atop his bed-messy hair.  “Good morning,” he whispers, and Dean hums happily.  “Are you hungry?”

 

“Mm,” Dean says, and Castiel laughs again, soft and breathless.  Dean loves it when he laughs, loves that he can make the usually stone-faced angel even smile, let alone laugh.  “I’m always hungry,” Dean says after a moment, and Cas sighs when he feels Dean’s teeth nibbling along his collarbone.

 

“Not today,” he says, gently pushing Dean away, “I can’t stay long, and you need to finish that hunt.”

 

Dean groans.  “Can’t you just zap us there and smite all of them?  I don’t feel like it.”

 

“I’ll make you breakfast.”

 

“Fine.”

 

Castiel smiles and kisses Dean on the nose, right on the bridge, where his freckles are, and Dean smiles up at him, watching him get out of bed and lean over to grab his clothes.  He only dresses in his slacks and button-up, which he leaves open regardless, and Dean appreciates the view until Castiel throws a shirt at him, and he grumbles something  not even close to anger.

 

Cas reads the newspaper while Dean eats his eggs, sausages, and coffee, and it’s comfortable, far more than he’s used to, but that’s how it is with Castiel now.  There’s no angry tension and dancing around one another.  Neither of them are really sure when it snapped, when they snapped, when the long stares and lingering touches turned into sex and comfort and love.  Because Dean is absolutely positive that he loves Castiel, even if he hasn’t said it; he thinks Cas knows, though, thinks he feels the same.

 

“If you’re free tonight,” Castiel begins slowly, not looking at Dean, “I think I could be, too.”

 

Dean smiles.  “No, Cas, I’d rather spend my time twiddling my thumbs in front of the TV that doesn’t work.”  Cas rolls his eyes.  Dean loves that he’s rubbed off on him so much.

 

--

 

The devil is in a bookstore.  Sam took him there.  Sam took the devil to a bookstore.

 

He’s still trying to understand this when Lucifer appears next to him suddenly, and he’s reminded strongly of Castiel in the way that Lucifer leans close, invading his personal space, and smelling so much like ozone and power and crackling lightning.  But there’s a hint of rain there, too, and grass and fire.  It’s intoxicating, really.

 

“What is this?” Lucifer asks, holding out a book.

 

Sam takes Fellowship of the Ring from him, smirking.  “It’s fiction.”

 

“Not real.”

 

“Not real,” Sam confirms.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Sam laughs.  “Yes.  It’s not real.  Why, does it seem real?”

 

Lucifer shrugs, his face the picture of innocence before he takes the book back.  “It’s good.”

 

“Do you want it?  I don’t think I have a copy.”  Lucifer shrugs again, and Sam sighs.  He’s flipping through the book again, head cocked to the side slightly.  The devil is thumbing through Lord of the Rings.  Sam just can’t get the insanity of the situation out of his mind.  “There’s two others,” he says slowly, turning back to his own book, “You read fast.  Might as well get them.”  He’s vaguely aware of Lucifer nodding and departing, silent as always, and Sam can’t stop the smile that spreads across his face.

 

He’s jolted out of his thoughts when his phone rings, and he fishes it out of his pocket, frowning.  Dean.  He looks at it for a moment before declining the call and dropping the phone back into his pocket.  He tries not to think about last night, how badly he needed his brother.

 

--

 

The hunt goes well, and Dean’s just getting back to his room when Cas calls.  He argues with him briefly before conking out, and then it’s chaos.  Sometimes, he really hates Zachariah.

 

Zachariah, who currently is backing him into the wall, anger electrifying the air around them, furious that Dean is still saying no, even after showing him the future.  And sometimes, he just wants to kiss Castiel’s brains out.

 

“Everything okay?” Castiel pants, breaking away from Dean, worry etched into his face.  But Dean is shaking his head and stepping back, fumbling for his phone.  “What are you doing?”

 

“Something I should’ve done two months ago,” he says quietly before hitting dial and putting the phone to his ear.

 

Sam answers on the second ring, “Hey.”

 

“Sam.  I’m sorry,” he breaks, and that’s all it takes.

 

--

 

October 29, 2009.

 

It’s been three weeks.  And six days.  But Sam isn’t counting.  He refuses to admit the hold the devil has over him.  Because there isn’t one.  Absolutely not.

 

Except there is.

 

He has trouble sleeping that night, which he really shouldn’t, because they’re at Bobby’s, which means he actually has a mattress of his own and a room that sometimes looks like he really lives in it.  But he’s restless, and he knows why.

 

It’s been an adjustment, Castiel and Dean.  At first, they hadn’t told him.  Dean had welcomed him back with open arms, and they’d spent the first week bro-hugging, sharing sappy stories, and even hanging out together until Sam finally confronted him and asked what was going on.  Though his confrontation happened to occur halfway through the door on his way back from a food run, nearly into the room where Dean was curled over Cas, their mouths fused together.  And all Sam had been able to think was oh my god, skinskinskin.  And then he’d known, and there was no more hiding, and Bobby already knew, and Sam rolls fitfully, punching his pillow into shape.  When that doesn’t work, he flips it onto its side, trying to get the coldness.

 

A thumb brushes over his cheek, and Sam stills immediately.  “Sleep,” a voice whispers, and he does.

 

--

 

Castiel sits upright, jostling Dean, who grumbles at him and buries his face in the pillow.  “What?” he says, his voice muffled.

 

“Someone’s here,” Cas says tightly, already pulling himself off the bed and into a pair of Dean’s sweats.  “Dean,” he snaps, anger inflecting his tone, anger not directed at Dean, though it still pulls the younger man away from his pillow.  He looks at Castiel curiously, watches him as he blinks and looks at the wall to the left.  “Dean,” he growls again, and Dean throws up his hands, clambering out of bed.

 

“I’m going, Christ.”  Sometimes, he hates his mouth.  “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” he exclaims, shielding himself and backing away as Castiel gapes at him.  “I’m sorry,” he says from behind his hands, peeking between his fingers.

 

“There are more important matters at hand,” Castiel says, impatiently motioning toward the door.

 

“Dude, don’t throw a tantrum.  I’m going.”  He yanks on a pair of jeans commando, and he’s about to reach for a shirt when Castiel straightens suddenly, his whole body going rigid.

 

“Dean,” he whispers, and Dean immediately stills.  Cas’ eyes reach his, and he arches his eyebrows.  “Lucifer.”

 

Dean is out of the room before the shirt even hits the floor.  “Sam!” he screams, barreling down the hallway as he hears the rustle of Castiel’s feathers signaling his depart.  “Sam!”  He body slams his way through the door, completely forgoing the door handle, at the same time Castiel appears in the room, frantic.

 

Dean’s breath catches in his throat as he staggers through the doorway and careens to a halt.  Lucifer straightens from where he’d been bending over Sam, and he looks at Dean curiously.  “Dean Winchester,” he says softly, “I have so longed to meet you.  Ah,” he quickly says, holding up a finger as Dean opens his mouth, “Sam is sleeping.”

 

“Lucifer,” Castiel says, his voice low and dangerous.

 

“Angel,” Lucifer returns, flickering his gaze to Castiel briefly before returning it to Dean, “I shall be going now.  Sam is unharmed, I assure you.  I would never hurt him.”  Before either of them can react, he’s gone, just with the blink of an eye, and Dean curses before running over and reaching down to take Sam’s shoulder in his hand.

 

“Sam,” he gasps, shaking him once, roughly.  Sam jerks awake, looking up at Dean blearily.

 

“What the hell, man?  I was sleeping,” he grumbles, shrugging Dean off and slowly sitting.  “Cas?” he says, bewildered, as he finally takes in the sweatpants-clad angel.  “What’s going on?  Did something happen?”  Sam is already starting to get out of bed, but Dean puts a hand on his shoulder again, stopping him.

 

“How are you feeling?” Dean asks, gaze flicking to Castiel, who looks just as confused.

 

“I’m—I’m fine, why?”  When Dean doesn’t respond, merely glances at Cas again, Sam frowns.  “Guys, what is going on?”

 

“Lucifer was just here,” Castiel says softly, crossing his arms over his bare chest and looking at Sam with an unreadable expression.

 

“Wait,” Sam says, shrugging out of Dean’s touch again and standing, “He was actually here?”

 

“You knew he was here?” Dean exclaims.

 

“Who was here?”  They all turn to find Bobby in the doorway, looking at the ruined door curiously.  “Did something happen?  I heard you yelling, you bloody oaf,” he motions to Dean.

 

“Lucifer was here,” Castiel says again, looking at the wall, his brow furrowed.

 

“Hold on,” Dean says, turning back to Sam, “How did you know he was here?”

 

“I thought I was dreaming.”  Sam immediately regrets saying that.

 

Dean gapes at him, and then he’s exploding, “You dream about Satan?”

 

“Dream-walking, Dean,” Castiel says, and, when Dean still glares at Sam, he snaps, “Dean,” and immediately has his attention, “Do not take this out on Sam.”  He crosses the room in quick strides, and Dean steps back, letting his guard down.  It’s a curious sight for Bobby and Sam, watching Dean let Cas in so quickly.  “I have visited you in your dreams countless times.  It is only natural for Lucifer to visit Sam in his.”

 

“Okay.  I’m sorry,” Dean relents, “Just don’t smite me, alright?  You’re kind of freaking me out tonight.”

 

“The question remains, though,” Castiel continues, unperturbed as he turns back to Sam, “How did Lucifer know where you were?”  Sam swallows thickly, his eyes going wide.

 

“I—I don’t know,” he lies, and they don’t buy it.

 

“What do you mean you don’t know?” Dean repeats, “Sam, he can’t find you, not with Cas’ markings.  Unless you—told him,” he finishes, his voice breaking a little.

 

“I didn’t tell him,” Sam says with more conviction, “I don’t know how he found me.”

 

“He’s more powerful than I thought,” Castiel says, eyes fixed on Sam even as he wraps long fingers around Dean’s wrist, holding him back.

 

“Do you have any idea why he was here?” Bobby asks, breaking the tension.

 

“Calm down,” Cas whispers, rubbing a thumb over the soft skin at Dean’s wrist.

 

“Do you think—”

 

“We’ll talk about it later,” Castiel cuts him off, and Dean nods, returning his attention to Sam, who won’t meet their eyes.

 

“I couldn’t sleep,” he admits, “Well, I mean, I could, but it was one of those restless sleeps, you know?”  Bobby arches an eyebrow, clearly confused.  “Anyway,” Sam goes on, steadfastly looking at the wall, “He, uh—he helped me sleep.  He does that sometimes.  Just little things.”  Dean blinks.  Sam finally looks up.  “It’s not what you think,” Sam says quickly, catching Dean’s gaze, “I don’t think he’s ever actually been here, aside from this time, of course.  But sometimes, when I can’t sleep or I’m sick, he’s just there, and he makes it better.”

 

“It makes sense,” Castiel admits, “You’re his vessel, and he feels responsible for you.  But Sam,” he implores, “You cannot let him in, even in your dreams.  You must learn to shut him out.”

 

Sam nods.  “I’m sorry, guys.  I didn’t know.”

 

They wrap up their conversation with no one really believing anyone, and Dean starts immediately when he and Castiel are back in their room and the door is shut, “He told him.”

 

If he did—” Castiel begins, holding up a hand and standing in front of the door, “—he has a very good reason.”

 

Satan, Cas.  Sam told the devil where he is.  And now he knows where you are, too.  Damn it.”

 

“Dean—”

 

“No!” Dean shouts, stopping his pacing and facing Castiel, “I have nearly lost you too many times, and this, us, you, I can’t, Cas, I can’t lose you.  The devil knows where we are, and Sam told him.  You know he did.”

 

“We don’t know anything.  I have my suspicions the same that you do,” he adds quickly, and, when Dean still stands stiff and glares, Castiel crosses the room to him, reaching forward with one hand.  Dean softens as their fingers touch, just the slightest whisper of skin, and then he tangles them together, pulling Cas toward him.  “Trust Sam to do what’s right,” he murmurs, kissing the skin of Dean’s collarbone, “Okay?”

 

“Are you staying the night?”

 

“Do you want me to?”

 

“Please.”

 

--

 

Sam remains perched on the edge of his bed even after Dean and Castiel leave, and he’s having a hard time forcing himself to stay there, on his bed, and not across the room drawing up a summoning symbol.  And then he has this curious notion, one he’s only ever used with summoning Cas before, and he bites his lip, trying to pretend he is not about to attempt this.

 

“Lucifer,” he whispers the name, his throat clicking when he swallows, “You’re an angel, so I think the same rules apply.  Meaning you can hear my prayers, I guess,” he pauses, takes a deep breath, and drops his face into his hands.  He’s praying to the devil.  “So this is me praying,” he says from behind his hands, “I’m praying to the devil.  It’s oddly comforting.  You were here.  Castiel knew you were here, so I guess that means it’s not safe for you to come back.  Where have you been?  Are you okay?  Better question, is Earth okay?  I mean, I really hope you haven’t concocted some insane plan while you’ve been away.  That would suck cos then I’d have to go clean it up.  Anyway,” Sam sighs, lifting his hands from his face and curling them around the back of his neck, “You know where I am.  I guess I’ll just… go to sleep.  Maybe I’ll see you?  I am such a girl, seriously, making plans like some—”

 

“I find it curious that that angel—Castiel, did you call him?”

 

“Lucifer,” Sam says, straightening off his bed and turning in one fluid movement, “You’re here.  But Cas—”

 

“Won’t be interrupting us.  I didn’t harm him, trust me.  I was going to,” he says with a slight frown, “but when I was inside his mind, he said he wouldn’t tell Dean if I came back.  It seems he trusts you.”

 

“He doesn’t always.”

 

Lucifer shrugs before he makes his way over to Sam’s bed, sitting down carefully.  “You had some questions, I believe.”  His blue eyes flicker to the other side of the bed, and Sam crosses his arms, brow furrowing.  “Or we could go outside.  Take a walk.  This is not some trick, Sam.  You prayed to me.  That has not happened in a very long time.  Thank you.”

 

“I was just—”

 

“Summoning me, yes, but when you pray to an angel, it touches their grace, and I have not felt such a thing in so long that it was almost alien to me.  And I thank you for letting me experience that again.  I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed such a pure soul in contact with my grace.”

 

“Right.  Pure,” Sam snorts.

 

“Yes, pure.  Your soul has already been claimed by heaven, Sam, as has Dean’s.  That angel made sure of that, though I’m sure my Father had something to do with that, as well.  Of course, there are always loopholes, ways to ensure your soul goes to Hell even if a claim has been made otherwise.  Crossroad demons, for example.  It’s cold out; you should take a sweatshirt,” he says as he stands and starts for the door.  He pauses with his hand around the knob, “Your other friend, the older one, is still awake.  I’ll be amongst those… automobiles?  Yes?”

 

“Cars,” Sam clarifies, “Yeah, I’ll, uh—I’ll be right out.”

 

Sam waits until Lucifer has disappeared, just the softest flutter of wings, and it occurs to him then that Lucifer really is an angel, despite everything.  It’s unnerving.  He switches out of his pajama pants into a pair of jeans, and he’s pulling a sweatshirt on when there’s a soft knock on his door.  He doesn’t answer, trying to make it seem as though he’s gone back to sleep.

 

“I know you’re awake,” Castiel’s deep voice says from behind the door, “Can I please come in?”

 

“Yeah, sure,” Sam says, bending to pull on his socks.

 

“Just tell me the truth,” Cas says after he’s closed the door behind him, “I won’t tell Dean.  I just need to know, Sam, because I know he’s here.  I can feel him, even outside of the house.”

 

Sam looks up, and it’s all he can do to not spill the truth then and there to Cas’ innocent face and curious blue eyes.  He hates angels sometimes.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sam says defiantly before standing and padding over to his boots by the doorway.

 

“You’re not going to say yes, are you?”

 

“Of course not,” he sighs, kneeling to lace his boots.

 

“Then you’re just—what?  Befriending Lucifer?”

 

“Has it ever occurred to you—” Sam breaks off to stand and look into Castiel’s face, “—or any of your feathery brethren that he is still an angel?  The only angel to have ever lived in Hell and survived.  Sure, yeah, you went to Hell to retrieve Dean, awesome, but that was a quick visit.  You know, Castiel, it’s actually kind of low for you guys to just—allow something like disobedience to cloud your judgment, especially coming from you, a rebel angel.  So yeah, maybe I am befriending Lucifer.  It doesn’t really seem different than Dean befriending you, to be quite honest.  Excuse me.”

 

He knows Castiel could destroy him at any given second, but he still pushes past him and out of his room, only just managing to keep himself from stomping down the hall.  There is no way this is going to end well.

 

--

 

“Well?”

 

Castiel looks between Dean and Bobby before sighing and going over to where a glass of whiskey sits on Bobby’s desk.  He picks it up on his way to the window where he looks, even though he knows he won’t see.  “I said I wouldn’t tell you,” he says quietly.

 

“Oh, come on, Cas,” Dean sighs dejectedly.

 

“And then he compared me to Lucifer, and I don’t really think I care about lying to him.  Then again, maybe he was right.”

 

Dean looks over at Bobby, who just shrugs.  “Cas,” he begins unsurely, but then Castiel is turning sharply and looking at Dean with a fierce gaze.

 

“I gave everything up for you,” he says, his voice soft and cold, “Everything.  I fell for you, in both senses.  Because of you, there are very few angelic qualities about me now.  I can hardly heal someone without Jimmy dying.  And your brother, that insolent boy, has compared me to Lucifer.”  Cas takes in a shuddering breath, though his eyes remain on Dean.


“Cas—”

 

“He’s right, Dean.  I rebelled against heaven, for you, and I am no better than him.  So yes, Sam is outside with Lucifer.  And you—” he grounds out, stilling Dean immediately, “—are going to stay here.  I need to go seek forgiveness and repent.  Please do not go after him.  He knows what he’s doing, Dean.”  Castiel is gone before either of them can respond, and Dean slams his glass down, swearing.

 

“This is great.  Really.  I’m going outside.”

 

“Dean,” Bobby sighs, “Just leave it.  I’m sure Sam has a very good reason for meeting with the devil.”

 

“Really?  What’s that?  Other than to say yes, I have no idea.”

 

“Dean.”

 

“Come on, Bobby.”

 

“Go back to bed or do something.  Just stay in the house, okay?”  When Dean starts to object, Bobby glares at him, “I’ll shoot you.  I have no qualms about it.”  Dean just throws up his hands and storms off to his bedroom.

 

--

 

“I love the smell of the sea.  When I was younger, when I’d only just learned to fly, I used to dive into the ocean because I hated the smell of angel wings.  I wanted my wings to smell like the ocean, the salt and the breeze and the little creatures.  I never hated animals.  I thought they were beautiful.  I still do.  I always used to dive into the shallower waters, though, because I was afraid of drowning.  Gabriel used to tell me stories about sea monsters and mermaids; he said that mermaids were part of the sea because they were once beautiful creatures that had drowned.”  Sam arches an eyebrow, and Lucifer smiles, a small, flitting thing.  “One day, when Gabriel and I were shielding some baby turtles on their way to the water, Raphael came up behind me, and he flew us to the deepest part of the ocean.  He dropped me in, and I will always remember that day because Gabriel, he wasn’t as strong as Raphael, but his fury was mighty, and he sent Raphael back to heaven.  I had never seen anyone do that before.  Even from underwater, it was an amazing sight.  After Raphael was gone, he swam in after me, and he rescued me.  He always used to go swimming with me; Father was always worried about one of us getting hurt, and he refused to let us out of his sight unless we were with one of our brothers.”

 

Sam smiles to himself, head bowed.  He’s not really sure what this moment is, standing here, side-by-side with the devil, their bare feet sunk into the sand, and the cold water of the ocean lapping around their ankles.  Sam took a moment to roll up his jeans, and Lucifer copied him, and they’re just standing there, jeans up at their knees, and Lucifer is telling him a story.  Sam doesn’t think he’ll ever cease to think him bizarre.

 

“Bobby taught me how to swim,” he says after a few moments of silence, “When I was seven, he took Dean and me on vacation to one of his hideouts in the woods.  My dad was pissed; he hated leaving us, but Bobby, Bobby was like the father my dad could never be.  He taught us how to be normal kids, and he taught both of us how to swim that vacation, at the lake.  Have you ever gotten tangled in lily pads before?”

 

Lucifer actually laughs, nodding, “More than a few times.  It is not an experience I wish to repeat.”

 

“Exactly.  It was my third or fourth time out, and I was getting pretty good.  Dean was always kind of crappy at swimming.  He learned after a while, got good at it, but it took him a while, but I remember getting my leg caught in the tendril things underneath the pad, and when I went under, he started screaming and flailing around, trying to swim to me and pull me back up, but he used to hold his nose when he swam until he learned not to, and he couldn’t figure out how to get underwater with only one arm and still pull me up, but everytime he tried to use two arms, he ended up choking.  After Bobby got me out, I couldn’t stop laughing at him.  And I remember, we saved this little boy in a lake some time back, and Dean came out, and he had this disgusted look on his face when we were heading back to the car, and he told me there were lily pads in the lake and he almost gave up on the kid cos he was so freaked out by them.”

 

They fall quiet after that, just enjoying the feel of the ocean and the comfort of each other’s company until Lucifer speaks, his voice soft, “Sam.”

 

“Mm?”

 

“I don’t want to fight Michael.”

 

Sam looks over at this, blinking in confusion.  “So don’t.”

 

“I have to.  He won’t let me be until I’m back in the cage.”

 

“Then why the apocalypse?  Why not show him that you can do good?”

 

Lucifer laughs, a hollow, short little cackle that has Sam’s skin crawling.  “The apocalypse, Sam, is not of my doing.”

 

“What?”

 

“It has been written, since the time of my fall, that I would rise from Hell and war against my brother, Michael.  What they did not include in this scripture, however, were the words of the fallen.  I would have gladly lived among my Father’s beautiful creations, the animals, but Michael saw to it that I could not even have that, that I must be doomed forever in that disgusting pit.  Demons are worse than humans, Sam, and those that you released have followed the scriptures.  They want the apocalypse.  I have done nothing.”

 

“But you’re—you’re Lucifer.  Why don’t you just stop them?”

 

“Because why should I?  They will just be sent back to Hell, and I will still have to be amongst them.  I’d rather let you kill them all.  Then, at least, they’re gone, and I needn’t listen to their suffering and bemoaning.”

 

“The horrors of Hell—”

 

“—are not of my care,” Lucifer finishes for him, “I believe there is a demon going around claiming he is the King of Hell currently.  Crowley, I think.  Some lowlife crossroads demon.  He runs Hell.  I bide my time in the cage, sparing whatever souls that come down that I can before they are twisted and corrupted into demons.  Like your father.”  When Sam looks at him, Lucifer nods, his blue gaze still watching the slow waves.  “He is shielded by my grace, just as you will be.  Because you will say yes eventually, Sam.”

 

“I know.  But you know that I know, and that’s why you don’t ask me anymore.”

 

“Exactly.”

 

“Is my—is my mother safe?”

 

“Your mother is in heaven.”

 

“She—is?”

 

“After I learned what Azazael had done, I sought out your mother’s soul, and I healed her.  I searched for so long for an angel’s mind, just some tiny connection I could find to ask for her admittance into heaven.  I never learned the angel’s mind, though I think I know who it was now.”

 

“And?”

 

“Your brother’s angel.”

 

Castiel?”  When Lucifer nods, Sam shakes his head.  “No.  Cas didn’t save my mom.  How could—I mean, he’s just Cas.”

 

“Yes, and he brought your brother out of Hell.  He remade him.  Everything that you see of your brother now was done at Castiel’s hands, just as your mother was pulled out of Hell and into heaven through him.  I think that’s why he trusts you, because he remembers that, he remembers the touch of Mary’s soul, and he feels that same touch in yours and in Dean’s soul.”

 

Lucifer lets the silence settle around them again, lets Sam mull over everything, and, when Sam does speak again, it’s nothing he expected, “Can you tell me another story?  About when you were younger?”  Lucifer just smiles and begins.

 

--

 

November 2, 2009.

 

“Mm, done repenting?” Dean mumbles into his pillow at the ghost of soft lips on his shoulder.

 

“Don’t mock me,” Castiel huffs, and Dean hisses when he bites, quick and sharp.

 

“You’ve been gone a while, I’m allowed to, I miss you,” he continues, reaching out blindly until he grasps Castiel’s trench coat and tugs.

 

“Dean, it’s nearly eight o’clock.”

 

“Honestly, Cas, does it look like there’s an apocalypse going on?  I don’t think so.  If Satan wants to spend his time making sure Sammy is sleeping well, then whatever, I don’t care, get in bed because I want to sleep because it’s the first time in a long time that I get to, and I want your feathery ass—”  Castiel cuts him off with a quick kiss, and Dean smiles, his expression soft.  “Please?”

 

“Dean,” Cas whispers against his skin, nose ghosting along his bare shoulder before he drops a kiss, “Can you promise me something?”

 

Dean nods, “Yeah, of course.”  Cas doesn’t respond at first, but instead stands and sheds his trench coat, suit jacket, and he’s just undoing his tie when Dean pushes into a sitting position.  “Cas?  You okay?”  Castiel sits on the edge of the bed once his tie is off, and then he starts on his shoes.  Dean crosses his legs underneath him and leans against Castiel so that their shoulders are touching.  He doesn’t say anything, but he knows Castiel appreciates the affection by the way his body relaxes against Dean’s.  When his shoes drop to the floor, Dean takes his chin between thumb and forefinger, turning it to press a kiss to Castiel’s mouth.  “Tell me what’s wrong,” he murmurs against his lips, foreheads leaning together.

 

“Promise me you won’t die again.”

 

“Cas,” he breathes out, one hand reaching up to cup his face, “Only if you promise not to, either.”

 

“Okay.  I promise.”

 

“Then so do I.  Now, are you staying?  Because I really don’t think I can do this without you, and, damn it, Cas, I was so worried about you.”  Castiel smiles because he knows Dean doesn’t really mean his anger, and he answers with a soft kiss.

 

“Yeah, I’ll stay.”  Their next kiss is soft still but urgent, Dean’s fingers slipping along Castiel’s shirt and tugging open the buttons even as he licks into the angels’ mouth, sucking on his tongue gently and coaxingly.  “I thought you wanted to sleep,” Castiel says as Dean breaks for a breath, mouth dropping to his jaw.

 

“I haven’t seen you in twelve days,” Dean mumbles, nipping at the curve of his jaw, “We can sleep later.”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Mhm.”

 

Castiel lets Dean tug at his clothes until his shirt drops to the floor, and then he pushes Dean’s shoulder with one, flat palm that has Dean settling onto his back through the force of Castiel’s grace.  He straightens, hands slipping to his waist to undo his belt and slacks.  Dean watches him, licking his lips hungrily.  “Castiel,” he says softly, and the name startles the angel.  He stops in his ministrations, looking down to catch Dean’s gaze.  “Cas, I—I—” he breaks off, frowning.

 

“What’s wrong?”  Castiel sits by him, but Dean doesn’t answer, instead pushes forward and catches the angel’s mouth in a bruising kiss.

 

“Sometimes,” he says when he breaks, forehead resting against Castiel’s even as his fingers skim south, “I want to tell you that I love you, but I never feel like it’s strong enough.”

 

“You and I,” Castiel whispers, nudging Dean’s nose until he lifts his head, “We’re different, you and I.  Sometimes, some things are beyond real comprehension.”

 

“But you know that I do, right?”

 

“Of course I do.  Dean,” he pauses to kiss him softly, “I do, too.”

 

“I know.”

 

What had started as desperate, needy want had morphed suddenly into something much more intimate, a connection, a bond that filled Dean to his very core, warming him from the inside out.

 

--

 

Sam shoulders his backpack before heading over to the wall between his and Dean’s room and pressing his ear to it.  He retracts immediately, frowning.  It’s still jarring sometimes to think of them together, especially with Castiel.  He heads out, sure that they won’t stop him, and then it’s only up to navigating around Bobby, which is a little more difficult because he needs to talk to him.

 

“Hey, Bobby,” he greets, leaving his backpack outside of the room and leaning against the doorway, “I was gonna head into town, and you know how Dean is about the Impala.”

 

“Just ask me if you need a car, Sam,” Bobby says without looking up.

 

Sam laughs, “If you wouldn’t mind.”

 

“Keys are by the door.  You gonna be smart?”

 

“Yeah, I got my gun, and I’ll grab something from Dean’s trunk, too.”

 

“Alright, son.  I’ll let your brother know you’ve gone.”

 

“If he ever surfaces,” Sam jokes, and Bobby grants him a quick smile before turning back to his book.

 

It’s almost too easy.  He leaves with his backpack, though he bypasses the Impala.  His gun is in his jeans, as usual, and he grabs a truck from the working vehicles in the back.  When he’s settled in, though, he takes a steadying breath and grips the steering wheel.  He tries to convince himself he’s not betraying Dean’s trust even though he knows he is.

 

He only needs to drive for a half hour, though he doubles it to be sure and to give himself room to breathe before he pulls over and relaxes into the seat.  “Dear Lucifer,” he begins quietly, “It’s been quiet this past week.  Part of me is worried for the fate of the world, but, well—I mean, I guess—another part of me just wants to see you again.  I’ve pulled over, in one of Bobby’s trucks, an hour away from the house.  If you’re busy, I’ll just—”

 

“Hello, Sam.”

 

He doesn’t tense, doesn’t even jump, but instead smiles and turns, taking in the angel next to him.  “Lucifer,” he says softly.

 

“The fate of the world is a little better than it has been recently.  There is an exit a few miles down the road.”

 

As Sam pulls back onto the road, he speaks, “How is it better?”

 

“I may have taken on a few—hunts, I believe you call them.”

 

“You’ve been hunting demons?”

 

“It’s a little easier as an angel.”

 

“And the center of their home world.”

 

“That, as well,” Lucifer says, his tone light.  Sam catches the small smile that flashes across his face.  They drive in silence broken only by Lucifer pointing out the exit and giving directions down the dirt road.  It’s comfortable, though, and Sam’s stopped thinking about him as the devil and more as an archangel and a friend.  “Here,” Lucifer says suddenly, and Sam slows to a stop.  They leave the truck behind, Sam shouldering his backpack as they make their way into the woods.  He tries to ask where they’re going, but Lucifer silences him everytime.  As they continue on, the sound of running water becomes louder and louder until they finally break through onto the banks of a small pool of water at the bottom of a monstrous, roaring waterfall.  Sam stares up at it, neck craning and jaw unhinged in awe.

 

“Wow,” he finally breathes, “It’s magnificent.”

 

“I thought you’d like it.  Gabriel always used to take me to the largest waterfalls before I’d learned to fly.  He would dive into the pools with me, and that’s how I learned.  He wanted me to learn to stop myself before I hit the water, which was always hard because I loved being in the water.  I still do.”

 

Sam smiles, imaging a smaller, innocent Lucifer and Gabriel, the latter leading his younger brother toward the edge, holding his hand tightly, and jumping with him, wings spread wide and shouting tips on flying.  It occurs to him suddenly to ask about Lucifer’s wings, but he holds the thought and instead shrugs off his backpack, lets it drop to the ground, and then kneels to undo his shoes.  Lucifer watches him for a few moments before repeating his motions, his fingers fumbling over the laces, his angelic grace unused to his human body, even after so long.

 

“Are you going to stop the apocalypse?” Sam asks once he’s barefoot and straightening again to pull off his jacket and plaid button-up.

 

“No.  Though I may hunt demons now and then.”

 

“What are you doing in the meantime, then?”

 

“Things you wouldn’t approve of,” Lucifer says softly, “Sam, there are things that I wish to discuss with you, but not right now.  I want things to be simple right now.”

 

“Simple,” Sam repeats, “Alright.  But we’re going swimming.  You said you liked the water, and last time we just put our feet in.  Come on, I won’t bite,” he laughs before tugging his shirt off and tossing it behind him.  Lucifer watches him again, and Sam rolls his eyes.  “Seriously.  Come on.”

 

Finally, Lucifer sets about undressing, and, when they’re done, left only in their boxer briefs and boxers, respectively, Sam heads off toward a sloping rock.  Lucifer seems to get the hint, and he follows, climbing up with Sam until it’s too slippery.  They’re not too high up, but it’s still a drop, and Sam spares a glance at the angel, nodding, and Lucifer just smiles softly and nods back.  They jump off together, sailing through the air, and they land with a loud splash, laughing when they come up.

 

They spend the next hour or so swimming in the pool, climbing the rocks, jumping through the air, and, ultimately, struggling their way under the waterfall and onto a rocky ledge behind it.  “Did you ever come to this waterfall?  With Gabriel?” Sam asks as they sit on the ledge, feet dangling in the water and fish swimming around their ankles.

 

“Yes,” Lucifer admits, surprising Sam.  “My Father,” he continues, not looking up, “He told Gabriel to take me here, to show me how beautiful it was, even so ordinary, and he gave a message to Gabriel for me.”  Lucifer breaks off, leaning forward to trail his fingers through the water.  “Human bodies are fascinating,” he says after a few beats of silence, “I have never appreciated them.  I was cast out from heaven because I hated the human race and I rebelled against the love that my Father and his angels felt for them.  Now, though, in this body, seeing Nick’s memories, being here with you, feeling all of this, I understand his love for you.”  Lucifer looks up, and Sam is taken aback by the unadulterated emotion filling his face.  “Sam, I’m sorry.”

 

Sam takes a slow breath before asking the question that has been at the back of his mind for weeks, “Do you know what happens at the end of this?  Do you know if I—if we go to Hell?”

 

“Yes, Sam,” Lucifer whispers, “We do.  But know this—” he lays a hand over Sam’s, catching his gaze, “—Sam, I will protect you from the horrors of Hell and of my cage, I will never let any harm come to you, I will never let your soul be damaged.”

 

Sam swallows the lump that’s formed in his throat as he nods.  “Thank you,” he manages.

 

They sit together for a while longer until Lucifer suddenly straightens.  “Sam, may I show you something?”

 

“Yeah, of course.  What is it?”

 

“Do you trust me?”

 

“That’s a loaded question, but mostly.”

 

He’s never been transported before, and so he nearly falls over when he’s suddenly standing at the top of the waterfall.  Lucifer catches his arm, steadying him, and Sam gasps, staring down at the now tiny pool at the base of the fall.  He opens his mouth to say something, but the air here is different, and his brow furrows as he finds his balance and starts to turn.

 

“No,” Lucifer says, his fingers tightening on Sam’s arm, and so he stops immediately, holding himself still and forcing himself not to turn around despite his surging curiosity.  “Sam, I—I know what you’ve been wondering, everytime I tell you about my flying lessons with Gabriel.  I can hear your thoughts.”

 

“They’re just thoughts,” Sam tries to shrug it off, but then Lucifer’s thumb ghosts over the skin on the inside of his elbow, a soft, small rub, and Sam’s throat is suddenly very dry.

 

“But they are there nonetheless.  And I—Sam, I—I trust you.  Implicitly.”  Sam swallows, his throat clicking.  “You have given me so much.  You freed me from that wretched place, you gave me a life again, and you have given me hope—in myself, in this world, in you—even in my Father and his mercy.  Your soul has touched my grace, more than once, and I cannot thank you enough for that.  You have reminded me that I am angel and not just some low-life demon of Hell.”  Lucifer’s voice shakes, and Sam has trouble holding himself together.  He shuts his eyes, bites his lip, and wills himself not to turn into some blubbering girl.  “Sam,” he says slowly, dropping his hand away from his arm, “My wings are broken—abused—burnt by hellfire—and—mangled beyond recognition.  They are no longer something I am proud of, but I want to share them with you.”

 

Sam’s eyes open at this, wide and surprised.  He turns without thinking, and Lucifer lets him, and then that’s it.  Curving out from his back, shuddering muscles arching above Nick’s body, tucked in against him, are Lucifer’s wings.  They’re black, as Sam suspected, but the sunlight that shimmers against them creates a rippling movement of color, different shades of grey and black and even darker blues.  They shift as Lucifer looks away, feathers rippling across his wings, and Sam wants to touch.

 

He steps forward, soaking them in.  There’s a long, ugly scar on the left wing, right along the muscle, and Sam wants to know, wants to know who did this to him so he can find them and wring their neck.  It’s a strange feeling, anger against those that have hurt Lucifer, but Sam lets it wash over him as he finds other scars, some small, small large, some gruesome and painful-looking, feathers twisted and torn, ripped out and holes punctured right through them, patches burnt and blistering hot to the touch, and a few lines where his wings have been carved, destroyed.  They’re frayed and broken, Lucifer’s wings, but Sam can still see how impossibly beautiful they are.

 

Lucifer rolls his shoulders, watching Sam’s eyes, and his wings slowly unfurl, spreading wide and high until Sam’s eyes are like saucers.  They stretch out from his back, strong and large, and Sam just stares at them, memorizing them.  He closes the distance between their bodies slowly, hands itching at his sides, and, when he can feel Lucifer’s breath ghost over his skin, he locks eyes with him, hazel green to blue.  Lucifer nods, the smallest acceptance, and Sam lifts his right hand, fingers shaking.  He hovers over the left wing for a moment, holding his breath, before he reaches forward carefully and straightens one black feather.  Lucifer shudders, his eyes slipping closed.

 

“Who did this?” Sam asks softly, tracing one of his fingers over the rigid scar on the high left muscle arching from his back.

 

“Raphael.”

 

“Why was he always so cruel to you?”

 

“He was jealous of our Father’s love for his three pride and joys, Michael, Gabriel, and I.  He never understood why we were treated so much better than everyone else, especially when I was the youngest of our Father’s firstborns.  But Raphael was always cruel, to Michael, to Gabriel, to me, and my Father saw that.  He punished Raphael.”

 

“And this?”  He rubs a thumb over a patch of missing feathers.

 

“Michael.  It was an accident.  We were young, so young, and I threw a rock at him because he’d stepped on one of Joshua’s fishes, and so he tore out a few of my feathers.  They never grew back.  Gabriel always used to make fun of my bald spot, as they called it, so one day I tore out one of Gabriel’s feathers.  He was furious.  Raphael would have thrown me into the ocean.  Gabriel just played tricks on me.  He’s always been good at that.”

 

“You’re starting to ramble,” Sam says, smiling.

 

“You’re distracting me,” Lucifer admits, and Sam watches a sheen of goosebumps rise on his skin at Sam’s trailing fingers, sometimes straightening feathers, sometimes smoothing over scars and rough patches, and it clicks too late that Sam is grooming Lucifer’s wings.

 

“Is this okay?” Sam asks after a couple minutes, both hands buried in his left wing.

 

“Yes,” Lucifer says after a long moment, “It’s very okay.”

 

Sam retracts his hands, and it takes a few seconds before Lucifer opens his eyes, blinking to focus.  Sam braces a hand against his chest, pushing until Lucifer steps back until his knees hit a rock and he sits, confusion lining his face.  But then Sam is kneeling before him, and his eyes go wide as he settles his focus back on Lucifer’s wings, slowly fixing them.  He takes his time, working his way through the left wing until he’s satisfied and then moving over to the right.  When he finishes, the sun is high in the sky, and his stomach rumbles with hunger.

 

“There,” he says, leaning back on his heels.

 

Lucifer looks at each wing for a few moments, and, when he turns his gaze back on Sam, his face is open and flooded with raw ecstasy and gratitude.  “Sam,” he breathes, “Sam, I—I can’t—” he stops, closing his mouth.

 

“Do you want to jump from the top?” Sam asks.

 

“I would love that,” Lucifer says immediately, standing and pulling Sam to his feet, startling him as he winds their fingers together and clasps his hand tightly.  “I won’t let you fall.”

 

“I trust you.”

 

--

 

“Where are we?” Dean asks, eyes still closed despite his burning curiosity.

 

“Patience,” Castiel responds, squeezing his hand, “Good things come to those who wait.”

 

“Now you’re preaching to me.  This is sure to end badly.”

 

“Just trust me.”  Dean huffs, and he can practically hear Castiel rolling his eyes.  “Almost.”  He rubs a thumb over the back of Dean’s hands before squeezing their interlaced fingers briefly.  Dean smiles at the affectionate touch, and he repeats it.  A few moments later, Castiel brings them to a stop, and Dean makes a muffled noise when he suddenly turns and presses his mouth to Dean’s.  “Open your eyes,” he whispers when he pulls back, and Dean lets his eyes open, blinking against the bright rays of the sun.

 

Before him was a grassy cliffside, done up with a blanket near the edge, the waves lapping up against the rocks, and a massive tree curving upward and swirling helicopters down onto the ground occasionally.  He can see a small basket which he assumes holds food, and he can’t help the large smile that spreads across his face.  “Cas,” he says, catching Castiel’s gaze.

 

“I wanted to do something for you.  After everything that’s happened,” he trails off with a shrug.

 

“Thank you,” Dean mumbles, tugging on Cas’ hand until he leans forward, and Dean closes the distance, kissing him strongly.  After that, Cas leads him over to the blanket, where they have a beautiful view of the ocean and the blue sky that stretches out, full of fluffy white clouds and the occasional birds; it’s a gorgeous day.

 

“When I was little,” Dean begins, reclining onto his elbows, legs spread out in front of him, “Sam and I, I was fourteen, we were in a motel, and my dad was out on a hunt.  He’d been gone for two days, and it was late at night, like, two o’clock, but I was still up.  It was after that shtriga, and it was hard for me to sleep at night when dad wasn’t there.  Did Sam give you ideas?” he breaks off, smiling as Cas opens the basket and pulls out a small thing of fruit, “He’s always trying to get me to give up the beer and take up the berry, and I’ll never admit to him that I love the berry way more than the beer.”  Cas offers him a small smile, which is a small victory, and Dean leans over.  Castiel closes the gap, kissing him lightly.

 

“You were fourteen.”

 

“Alright, alright.  Feed me grapes, or I’ll bother you.”

 

“I don’t think you actually can.”

 

“When Sam was seven, he used to poke me right under my arm, around the top of my ribs.  He’d always sneak up on me, and it drove me nuts.”

 

“You were fourteen,” Castiel repeats, and Dean responds by reclining onto his back, hands folded underneath his head.

 

“When I was fourteen, dad was on a hunt, and it was late, real late, like, two o’clock in the morning, I was watching this stupid infomercial, one of those nights where you’re just staring at the TV, dead tired, dazed, not really paying attention, and someone was trying to break in.  I started freaking out, grabbed my rifle from the bedroom, locked Sam’s door, and squared up, y’know?  Oh, that’s good,” he breaks off to chew and Castiel chuckles softly, curling up next to him.  Dean unwinds an arm from under his head and wraps it around Cas’ back, pressing a kiss to his forehead.  He leans their heads together as he continues, “It was Bobby.  I almost shot him, but he opened the door, stuck his hat in really fast, and goes, kid, it’s me, it’s Bobby, is your dad there?  I nearly peed myself.  Anyway, so he found out dad had been gone for two days, and he calls him, leaves this message, like, John, you dick, I have your kids.  I’ll call you in a week.  We’re going camping.  And he took us to this cliffside where we camped and fished and just had the greatest week ever.  Bobby always used to do stuff like that for us.  We had half a normal childhood because of him.”

 

Cas’ lips drift across Dean’s neck for a moment before he speaks, “Balthazar always did things like that.”

 

“Were you only close with Balthazar?”

 

“Uriel, too, and Anna.  Anna was always my favorite sister.  Balthazar, Uriel, and I are like you and Sam.”

 

“Sometimes, I wish I could have known you before all of this.”

 

“I was different before we met.”

 

“How different?”

 

“It doesn’t matter.  Who I am now—I like who I am now.”

 

“Cas.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

Dean nudges him onto his back, rolling with him, and Castiel looks up at him with blue, blue eyes.  “I love you,” Dean whispers, dipping his head to kiss his angel.  When he pulls back, Castiel is beaming.  “What?” Dean mutters, hiding his face in the crook of Cas’ neck.

 

“I love you, too.”

 

When they break apart, they sit and make their way through the basket, flitting through easy, constant conversation until they’re left relaxing against each other, comfortable and easy, watching the day pass by and just enjoying one another’s company.  It’s as the sun is slowly making its descent that Cas steals Dean’s attention from where he’s been playing with the angel’s fingers, tracing the lines on his hands, by kissing his hair.

 

“Dean,” he murmurs, his voice soft.

 

“Mm?”

 

“It’s not going to stay like this.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Your brother will say yes eventually.”

 

“I know.  But we’re going to find a way to make this right.  We’re going to stop this.”

 

“No, Dean.  Only you.”

 

“But I’ll have you.  Cas, I can’t—I can’t do this without you.”

 

“You can.”

 

They’re silent for a few beats before Dean sighs and pushes Castiel’s shoulder until he lies on his back.  “This is the calm before the storm,” he says quietly, hovering over Castiel.

 

“You can do this.  My righteous man.”

 

“I don’t know how you have such faith in me and so little in yourself.”  He lets himself down, molding his body to Castiel’s, who winds his arms around him and holds him tight, not talking, just loving.

 

--

 

Sam looks up when he feels a hand ghost over his shoulder.  A small smile flits to his face as he watches Lucifer sit, smoothing his hands over his new jeans.  “They fit?” Sam asks, arching an eyebrow, and Lucifer nods slowly, rubbing his thumbs over the harsh material before letting his hands settle.

 

“Yes, they fit.  Nick seems to appreciate it.”

 

“You—you—” Sam breaks off, shaking his head, “He’s still in there?  He knows everything that is going on?”

 

“No, no, Sam, of course not,” Lucifer assures, and Sam tenses a little when one of his hands curls lightly over Sam’s thigh, “Nick, more often than not, is tucked away inside my grace, safe from the harm of this world and the strength of my angelic form.  However, sometimes, I can feel his soul a little stronger, and there are small moments when I can understand what he does.  And he feels gratitude for not wearing dirty, blood-smeared clothes anymore.”

 

Sam laughs, for no reason at all, and he can’t explain it, but he falls back onto the grassy bank and just laughs.  Lucifer watches him, a small smile playing on his lips, until Sam catches his breath.  “Wow.  I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.  Sorry, I know, that seemed kind of crazy.  Anyway,” he breaks off, running a hand through his hair and looking up at the devil, “I’m starving.  I know you don’t really eat, but I could totally go for a burger.”

 

“I can eat.”

 

“Do you wanna head out, then?  It’s nearly sundown.  We don’t want to be caught in the woods at night.”

 

“Sam, you’re safe with me.”

 

Sam smiles despite himself, nodding.  “Yeah, I know.”  They stay there, relaxed in their environment, for a few more moments before Sam pulls himself up and packs his backpack with Nick’s old clothes that he’ll discreetly wash and the empty water bottles.  After he’s done, he nods toward the woods, and Lucifer stands, brushing himself off.  Sam takes the lead, though Lucifer falls into stride with him as they make their way through the darkening woods, and Sam’s starting to wish he’d brought his gun.

 

Just as he’s flinching from a rather loud crack somewhere, a hand whispers across his, and his gaze snaps to the angel, who is staring straight ahead, looking entirely innocent.  And so Sam brushes back, lets their hands fall away, and, as he’s losing hope, Lucifer tangles their fingers together.  “I won’t let anything hurt you,” he promises into the darkness, and Sam just steps closer.

 

When they finally reach the truck, Sam is shivering from the night air.  When they climb in, he sets about turning on the heat and finding a radio station to put on for background noise.  When they finally head out, the drive is comfortable and full of light chatter, but Sam can’t help feeling that something is coming, some storm is just waiting to erupt.

 

--

 

November 19, 2009.

 

“Are you fucking serious?”

 

“What’s going on?” Bobby asks as Dean throws his shotgun into the trunk.

 

“The colt—” he breaks off to chuck that in, as well, “—can’t fucking kill the devil.”  Sam swallows, looking away.  He knows how open his face is right now, knows that Dean will see his relief and fear if he looks at him close enough.  “I can’t even believe this.”

 

“Dean,” Sam sighs, “We have to go.  Bobby, he’s—he’s raised Death.  The horseman.”

 

“Awesome.  I’ll lead.”

 

“This is fucking ridiculous,” Dean grumbles as he stomps over to the Impala and slams the door behind him.  Sam rolls his eyes and sighs, parting ways with Bobby with a shrug.  When they’re all settled, Dean pulls off at a dangerous speed, but, then again, so doesn’t Bobby.  They’re speeding away when Dean starts his rant again, and Sam forces himself to reciprocate.  It’s easy enough; he doesn’t really want one horseman to deal with, never mind four, but he’s having a hard time stifling the way his heart had nearly stopped when Lucifer dropped to the ground.  He’s trying to figure out when the devil came to mean so much to him.

 

They end up in a motel because they’re far from Bobby’s house, and Dean surprises him by not getting separate rooms.  “I just wanna spend the night with my brother,” he mumbles, and Sam smiles.  Bobby shares their room, and they all hang out, up late and drinking, well into the night until Dean finally passes out and Bobby is absorbed with his book.

 

“Hey, Bobby, I’m gonna head out, take a walk,” Sam excuses himself, and, though he only grunts, Sam knows he doesn’t believe him.  He doesn’t either, and he knows Dean would only pretend to because he doesn’t want to admit to Sam seeking out Lucifer.

 

Which is exactly what he does.

 

His disappointment is practically tangible when he starts his prayer, says a few quick sentences, ends it, and is still standing on the sidewalk, alone.  He frowns, shrugging deeper in his jacket and stuffing his hands in his pockets.  “Okay, fine,” he says to the night air, resuming his pace, “Don’t come down.  Just play with your stupid horsemen.”  He knows he’s acting like a teenage girl, pouting and such, but he doesn’t care.  Death is doing the devil’s dirty work, for Christ’s sake.

 

He almost doesn’t see him.

 

“I heard a rumor,” Lucifer’s soft voice teases him as Sam starts to cross the street.  He jolts to a stop, turning, and he finds Lucifer leaning against the corner of someone’s fence, holding a steaming cup between his hands.  “I heard a rumor,” he repeats, “that you were a fan of peppermint hot chocolate.”  Sam just stares.  “Yes, I know, Death, how dramatic,” he mutters, waving one hand as he straightens and approaches Sam.  He holds the cup out at arms’ length.  “Consider this part of my apology.  I do have people to appease, though, and Michael just won’t leave me alone.  Plus, I like Death.  I’d like to think of us as friends, though he is rather angry about the whole binding thing.”

 

“Binding thing?” Sam repeats, accepting the drink.  His mouth betrays him and smiles at its warmth.

 

“Yes.  Death is bound to me.  He does my will.  Not too happy about it.”

 

“I can imagine why.”

 

He starts to take a sip, but stops when Lucifer skips forward a step and his fingers land on Sam’s wrist.  “It’s hot,” he warns.  Sam lifts an eyebrow.  “I didn’t steal it,” he answers the silent accusation, “I was just very persuasive in a polite and undisruptive manner.”  Sam rolls his eyes, but smiles nonetheless.  “You really shouldn’t be out here at night.”

 

“Well, I can’t take you back to the room, and I don’t think anything is really open right now.  Oh.”

 

“What?” Lucifer asks, sounding alarmed.

 

“This is good,” Sam responds before taking another sip, “Thank you.”

 

“Of course.  Sam—may I take you somewhere?”

 

“If you’re zapping, hold my hot chocolate,” he instructs, handing over the cup.  Lucifer smiles, takes the cup, and then takes Sam’s hand.  When he opens his eyes again, Sam is looking at a handsome and clearly abandoned two-story house.  “What is this?” he asks as he reaches for his drink, wiggling his fingers until his angel hands it over again.

 

“Nick’s house,” Lucifer responds softly, “He hates it here, but he’s been quiet, and so I think he isn’t really paying attention.”

 

“His soul,” Sam confirms.

 

Lucifer nods.  “His soul.  Would you like to go inside?  It’s warmer.”

 

“Sure.”

 

The house is dark when they enter, dark and cold, but Lucifer reaches for his hand and leads him through, finding the stairs and trudging up, Sam following him.  He can’t see much of the house, but it occurs to him suddenly, from what he does see, framed photos, toys, a hamper of unfolded clothes, it occurs to Sam that Nick was in the middle of his life when Lucifer found him.

 

“Lucifer,” he says quietly, immediately catching the angel’s attention.  They’re at the top of the stairs, and Lucifer turns, arching one blonde eyebrow.  “Why did Nick let you in?”

 

“Because he was already dead on the inside.  It didn’t matter to him.”  He shrugs before squeezing Sam’s hand lightly and tugging him off down the hall, but Sam holds fast.

 

“Already dead on the inside?” he repeats, “What do you mean?”

 

“Nick had a family, Sam.”  He shrugs again.  Sam gawks.  “They were dead,” he continues, frowning, “Someone came into this house and killed them.”  His voice shakes a little, and Sam blinks in confusion.  “That my Father—” he spits the word, “—could let someone do that.  Nick was—beautiful, Sam.  He didn’t deserve such pain.  I gave him an option.  I gave him a life without that pain.”

 

Some rush of emotion overwhelms Sam, and he blinks, swallowing the lump in his throat.  He’d never thought to see it that way, that Lucifer went to Nick because he wanted to free him from his pain, because he wanted to help him, to save him.  He can understand it now, can see why Lucifer wants him to say yes.  He nods, trying to show what he can’t say, and he squeezes Lucifer’s hand, who tugs him along again in turn.  He follows this time, down the hall and through a door, into a dark bedroom.

 

“Stay here,” he says, releasing Sam’s hand.  He nods again, stepping further into the room to see if he can uncover any of the mysteries still enshrouding Nick.  Lucifer leaves him to his discoveries, which lead him to a dresser with three framed pictures that Sam stares at for long moments.  The largest, the one in the back, is of Nick, smiling widely, so happy, holding an adorable baby; a woman with dark, cropped black hair is leaning over the baby, kissing the top of its head, one of her hands wound possessively around Nick’s.  The second, off to the side, is Nick and the woman on their wedding day, beautiful and happy, and the third, small, is of the woman and the baby, the baby older and wearing little jeans and a tiny AC/DC shirt.  Sam can’t help but smile, running a thumb over the frame.

 

“That’s Sarah,” Lucifer’s voice says from behind him, and he turns to find the angel carrying an armful of candles into the room, “Beautiful, isn’t she?  Their son was Matthew.”  Sam watches as he sets the candles down one by one, ghosting a finger or two over them, lighting the wicks, and, when he’s finished, the room is awash with a warm, flickering glow.  Sam can feel another whisper of heat crawling through the room, as well, and he knows it’s Lucifer’s doing.

 

The angel sits on the edge of the bed, frowning suddenly.  “I’m sorry,” he says, “I’ve upset you.”

 

“No, it’s—it’s just—strange.  It’s strange to see Nick with his wife and baby and then see you, and you’re two entirely different people in the same body.  It’s just strange.”  He tentatively crosses the room, stops a few feet away from Lucifer, and then pushes forward, sitting next to him.

 

“When I first found Nick, I wanted only to use him, as a suit, to get to you, but I watched him for some time before I came to him, and, even then, I spoke to him a few times first.  I wanted to know him.  And, when he let me in, he wasn’t just a suit, he was Nick, and he still is,” he pauses to reach over and wind his fingers with Sam’s, no hesitation at all.  Sam squeezes his hand, trying to be comforting, but he isn’t sure how exactly to go about doing that with an angel.  “I found the people that murdered his family.  I made them feel what Nick did.  And then I sent them to Hell, forever bound to the rack.  Very rarely do I use my status as the devil, but Nick was an exception, just like you are.  When we are in Hell, Sam, I will never let harm come to you.”

 

“I know,” Sam says immediately, and it’s the truth.  He knows Lucifer will care for him, knows that he will always be there for him, no matter what.

 

“Sam,” Lucifer says after a moment, “Sam, I want to apologize for the days that are about to come.  There are things that I must do, things that you will witness, and I want you to know that they are not meant to hurt you.”

 

Sam doesn’t think.  He just says, “Remind me of that after.”  And when Lucifer turns to ask him after what, he meets him there, mouth pressing gently against his, his heart threatening to rip out of his chest.

 

Lucifer doesn’t react, but Sam’s fairly certain he’s reacted enough for the both of them.  He doesn’t know how long this moment has been built up to, but he knows that it’s here and that it’s right and that he’s wanted it for a long time now, a want buried deep inside of him that he hasn’t been able to surface until this moment.

 

“Sam,” Lucifer whispers when he pulls back, swallowing thickly.

 

“Is that okay?” he asks, the question so familiar and so different.

 

“Yes, it’s very okay,” the angel says, like before, and it’s he that closes the gap this time.

 

Sam sighs into the kiss, reaching up his free hand to curl around Lucifer’s jaw, holding him there, savoring the moment until he darts his tongue forward, sliding along the angel’s bottom lip, and then they’re really kissing, bodies sliding closer and Sam’s hand on Lucifer’s jaw hard and real.  And then Lucifer’s hand wriggles out of Sam’s, and he tangles it in Sam’s hair.  He angles his body so Sam is forced to lean back, and he lets the angel take control, lets him nudge until Sam breaks from the kiss and pushes himself farther up the bed, lying back, staring up at Lucifer with pupils blown wide with lust.

 

“Lucifer,” he says very softly, barely a breath, and the angel groans, dipping down and mouthing at Sam’s neck.  His knees part, sliding along Sam’s thighs until his hips settle, fitting into the groove of Sam’s body, and he arches up into Lucifer’s space, grinding them together.  His head is swimming with uncertainty and disbelief; what is he doing?

 

The angel pulls back suddenly, straightening, and Sam watches as he shrugs out of his button-up, mesmerized.  “Sam,” he murmurs, and Sam reacts immediately, flying through the buttons on his shirt and pulling out of it before reaching for the hem of his t-shirt.  When they meet again, Sam is the one to groan this time, fingers skittering over Lucifer’s muscled back.

 

Their mouths connect again, a heated battle of teeth and tongues, warring for dominance and heat, and their bodies follow the lead, Lucifer pushing his hips into Sam’s, grinding their denim-clad cocks together.  Sam keens at this, shuddering, nails digging into Lucifer’s shoulder blades, and he would be ashamed of his reaction if Lucifer wasn’t sucking a bruise on his collarbone that is just that side of pain that Sam would hiss at and is instead squirming under.  When he pulls off with a wet pop, Sam groans and his hands fly to their waists, working quickly and deftly at Lucifer’s buckle.

 

“Sam,” the angel pants into his neck, tongue darting out to taste before he bites, quick and sharp, and Sam gasps, trying to find that friction again, but Lucifer’s hips are angled up and away, keeping them both at bay.  He mouths up Sam’s neck, trailing to his ear where he sucks the lobe between his teeth and curls his tongue over the sensitive skin, releasing it to bite Sam’s jaw.  Sam finally, finally gets the belt undone, zipper down, and button open, and he ignores his screaming mind and dives a hand into Lucifer’s jeans, hand curling around the hard line of Lucifer’s cock, masked only by the whisper of his boxers.

 

A shudder runs through Lucifer, tightening the muscles of his back, where one of Sam’s hands is placed again, and he rocks up into Sam’s hand, mouth open in a pant.  Sam whines, shifting, and Lucifer gets the hint, hands moving to work on his own set of obstacles.

 

“I’ve never done this before,” Sam admits to the candlelit room.  Lucifer stills his hands where they’re ready to tug down Sam’s jeans.  He noses at Sam’s jaw until he drops his eyes to meet the angel’s ethereal blue, and Sam shrugs, swallowing.  “Not with a man,” he clarifies, and Lucifer’s only response is to kiss him softly.

 

“We can stop.”

 

“Have you ever?” Sam ignores him.

 

“Sam, this is the first time I’ve ever been contained within a human vessel.  This is the first time I’ve ever loved a human and been comfortable in a human’s skin.  So no, I have never, but I understand.”  Sam nods.  They’re on the same playing ground, for once, and he appreciates that.

 

He realizes suddenly that Lucifer is waiting for his approval, and so he leans up to kiss him.  “Don’t stop,” he whispers, and that’s when his jeans come off in one quick motion.  He registers Lucifer’s disappearing with barely a sound, and he spares a moment to thank the powers of angels because then their cocks slide against one another, so much skin, and Sam is left a shivering mess, arching up into the touch and gasping.

 

Lucifer leans back down, his cool skin shocking against the heat radiating between them and around them, but Sam clings to him, seeking out his mouth in a needy, wet kiss.  Their hips move in slow, rotating movements, not enough, but so good.  “Sam, I want—”

 

“Yes,” Sam doesn’t let him finish, “Please.”

 

One of Lucifer’s hands is threaded in Sam’s hair, thumb massaging small circles into his temple, but is other hand is slowly skimming south, fingers tracing nonsense patterns that Sam thinks he occasionally recognizes as Enochian letters, and he tries to decipher them until one of Lucifer’s fingers ghosts over his hip, slides along his ass, and their eyes meet in a question.  Sam nods.

 

He doesn’t know what it is exactly, but something brushes alive in Sam when the pad of Lucifer’s index finger passes over his opening, and he gasps at the feeling at the same time his brow furrows in wonder and confusion.  And then the finger pushes through, and Sam feels like he’s being filled with light and warmth.  “That is my grace,” Lucifer whispers into his neck, his finger stopping when he’s at the last knuckle, “And that is your soul reacting to it.”

 

He curls his finger, and Sam’s whole body goes rigid with pleasure, a soft groan slipping from his mouth.  He feels like fire is crawling over his skin, warm and safe, and Lucifer stutters out a moan, pulling back his finger only to push it back in roughly.  “My soul,” Sam begins to say.

 

“Your soul is beautiful, Sam,” Lucifer cuts him off, his voice dark and heavy, “Oh, Sam.”  He remembers what Lucifer said about his grace touching Sam’s soul when he prayed to him, and he closes his eyes, trying to find that ball of light inside of him that’s just waiting to burst.  He tenses when another finger joins the first, but he wills himself to relax, to open to his angel.

 

By the third finger, he’s pushing down into the touch, gasping for more.  Lucifer is coming apart under his hands, shaking and panting, and the muscles of his back are taught and angry with tension.  Sam tries to soothe them, rubbing his knuckles over the hard ridges, but then Lucifer is gone, leaning back on his heels.  “Stop,” he says, his voice harsh and tinged with pain.

 

Sam stares up at him, confusion settling deep in him even as he feels the connection between them twisting away.  He grasps for it, holding on, and Lucifer groans, eyes fluttering shut.  “Sam, please,” he pleads.  Sam reaches down and wraps a strong hand over his cock, eliciting a soft sound from the angel.  And then he’s being manhandled, Lucifer’s hands gripping his thighs and pulling his legs up until his knees bend.

 

“Sam, shut your eyes,” he orders, and Sam obeys wordlessly, gasping, arching, and tensing as he feels first the head of Lucifer’s cock, insistent against his hole, and then he’s sliding inside.  The ball of light bursts, and Sam feels as though he’s been alit, hellfire searing through his bones and boiling his blood.  A hungry noise rips from his throat, and his fingers dig into Lucifer’s back, still pulled tight, too tight, and Sam almost opens his eyes.

 

Oh,” he suddenly understands, fingers flexing and soothing, rubbing the skin there until Lucifer groans loudly, burying his face in Sam’s neck and covering his eyes with one hand even though they’re still shut.  He can see the light even through that, though it’s dim and faint, but it’s there, and Sam understands.

 

A feather ghosts across his knee before the sky breaks with a jolting, sudden rip of lightning.  Thunder shrieks through the sky, and Sam can taste the ocean on his tongue.  “Lucifer,” he groans, reaching for his mouth desperately.  It’s so hot, burning, and he chases it even as the angel hitches his legs around his ribs and his ankles press into hard, pulsing muscle.  He finally releases Sam’s eyes, who immediately groans.

 

Lucifer’s wings spread high and wide above them, straining against the ceiling and walls, arched and magnificent.  He wonders what it means, that he can’t contain his wings, that they burst out at such an intimate moment, but he knows it’s something huge, something even Dean hasn’t experienced with Cas.

 

“Your brother’s angel is just an angel,” Lucifer answers his thoughts, “I am an archangel.”

 

The words send a thrill of heat and want through Sam’s body, and he pushes up against Lucifer’s body, whining.  Lucifer rolls his hips, his cock sliding out of Sam’s body and slamming back in, rubbing over his prostate, and Sam gasps, hands scrambling for purchase.  One lands on Lucifer’s shoulder, nails digging into his skin, but the other seeks out a wing, fingers fisting in the feathers, and Lucifer emits an inhuman sound, making Sam’s ears ring as he slams Sam into the mattress.

 

“No, don’t,” he pants when Sam starts to pull back, afraid he’s hurt his already broken wings, “Sam, please.”

 

And so Sam traces the line of muscle as far as he can reach, fingers digging in as he goes, and then he’s carding his fingers through the feathers even as Lucifer rocks his hips into Sam’s, sending shivers of pleasure through him.  Their mouths collide roughly, and Lucifer moans into him, his hands sliding along Sam’s sides until they rest on his ass, curving over the swell and pulling Sam tighter to him, his lower back lifting off the bed.

 

“Lucifer,” he gasps, head slamming back into the pillows beneath him and body straining upward.  Lucifer takes the opportunity to kiss along Sam’s naked chest, sparing a moment to lick over his pentagram tattoo before he bites the skin directly above it, tongue lapping over the burning skin to soothe it.

 

Sam’s heels dig into Lucifer’s back as he chases after his cock, desperate to keep them so close, and Lucifer responds by quickening his thrusts, his hips snapping hard and fast, cock sliding into Sam easily, slipping over his prostate and alighting every sensitive and overheated nerve in Sam’s body.  Sam thinks this must be what hellfire feels like, and he chases after it.

 

“Sam,” Lucifer groans, pulling away from his second hickey, this one on Sam’s collarbone, to find his mouth.  Sam presses up against him, his own, throbbing dick hard against Lucifer’s stomach, precome sliding over their skin, and one of Lucifer’s hands slips away from his ass to move between them, fingers curling around Sam’s cock.  He keens, thrusting up hard as Lucifer makes a guttural sound, mouth breaking away from Sam’s.  He presses their foreheads together as they chase after the building fire.  Sam can feel it pooling in his belly, alighting his spine, and tickling his skin.

 

“Lucifer,” he says a final time, and the angel’s massive, beautiful wings enclose them, drenching them in darkness but for the heat between them, the light of their eyes, and Sam can feel it all around him, the angel’s grace, separating them from the world and embracing Sam’s soul even as their bodies cling to each other, wrapped together and on the edge.  Sam knows it’s saying his name like that, like a prayer, like his angel is the only thing he needs in this moment, that sends Lucifer soaring over that edge.

 

His hand tightens over Sam’s cock, sliding upward, thumb pressing over the slit of the head, and Sam’s orgasms rips through him.  He comes with a shout, pressing close as feathers ghost across his face and fire surrounds him.  Lucifer breathes with him, so human, and his hips slow until they’re just there, coming down, back to Earth.

 

“Sam,” he whispers.  Sam kisses him, trying to convey everything he can’t find the words to say.  One of Lucifer’s hands flits down his side, and his thumb lands on the curve of Sam’s hipbone.  It’s like being burned, and he gasps against the touch, back hitting the bed as he tries to flinch away.  It’s too much too soon.  He needs the cool touch of Lucifer’s skin, not the hellfire of his grace.

 

The burn disappears, and Sam looks down to see a small, thumb-shaped print on his hipbone.  “I will always be able to find you now,” Lucifer says softly.  Sam feels as though he’s been given the most precious gift.

 

--

 

Sam wakes up to the sun.  It’s still early, but the early morning warmth touches his bare skin, seeping through the black feathers splayed across him.  Lucifer is breathing softly next to him, his wings rising and falling minutely with every breath, and Sam smiles, leaning over to press a kiss to his forehead.  “Good morning,” he whispers.

 

“Hello, Sam.  Did you sleep well?” he asks, catching Sam’s mouth in a quick kiss before he can recline onto his back again.

 

“I did.  Your wings are still out.”

 

“It is far easier to let them be free than to hold them inside within this vessel.  Many will tell you differently, but—”

 

“You’re an archangel,” Sam finishes, and Lucifer chuckles.

 

“Yes.  I am.”  He shifts, and Sam laughs when he suddenly has a heavy body against his.

 

“Early morning sex,” he murmurs, kissing Lucifer lightly, “I could get used to waking up like this, careful.”

 

“You won’t see me again for some time, Sam,” Lucifer whispers, and Sam tries to push away the feeling that accompanies that statement.  He’d known that going into last night.  Lucifer had told him, but it still makes him ache.  “You can’t pray for me.  Even if you do, I won’t come.”

 

“I know,” Sam says, winding his arms around his angel and holding tight, “Just let me have this.”  And he does.

 

--

 

“Is he there?” Dean answers his ringing phone.

 

“No.  Where are you?” Bobby asks in return.

 

“Driving.  Trying to see if he’s on the streets anywhere.  Have you checked the GPS signal yet?”

 

“They just turned it on.  Did you call Cas?”

 

“He won’t answer.”

 

“Where is Sam?”  Dean almost crashes the Impala.

 

“Fucking hell, Cas,” he growls, “Bobby, Cas is here.  I’ll call you back.  Keep looking.”  He hangs up, spares a glance at Castiel, and shakes his head.  “We don’t know.  And you can’t see him, I know.  Are you okay?” he adds when Cas doesn’t interrupt him like usual.

 

“I’m just—tired,” he says weakly, and Dean looks at him again.  His face is drawn, and he’s relaxed into the seat where he usually sits straight and awake.  “I’ve searched the country, but I can’t find either of them.”

 

“Stay here, then.  You look beat.  He’s not here in town.”  His phone starts ringing, and he nearly crashes again.  “Where the fuck are you?” he yells.

 

“Walking back to the motel, where are you?” Sam says, sounding too calm.

 

“Been looking for you, asshole.”

 

“I just went out to grab breakfast.  You were still snoring, so I figured I’d wake you up later.”

 

“You fucking liar,” Dean grinds out before slamming the phone shut and speeding up.  When he reaches the motel, Bobby is outside.  Castiel straightens as he parks, and Dean looks over at him, curious.

 

“Dean,” he says, his voice low, and Dean puts the car in park before killing the engine.

 

“What’s up?”  Castiel doesn’t say anything for a few long seconds.  And then Dean jumps, grunting.  “What the hell, Cas?” he grumbles, reaching up to rub his shoulder.

 

“Do you remember what I told you about that?” Castiel asks quietly.

 

Dean nods, still rubbing.  “It’s your claim on me.”

 

“It was rather ostentatious of me.  Many claims are just simple things.  Like a thumbprint, hidden out of sight,” he says, and Dean blinks.

 

Dude!  Come on, quit it!” he exclaims, pushing open his door and getting out.  “You’re turning a normally awesome thing into a nightmare right now,” he warns as Castiel gets out opposite him.  “This,” he brandishes a hand at his shoulder, “this is usually pretty great, okay?  Stop fucking with karma, man.  I don’t like having to wonder whether it’s going—Cas!”

 

“Understand what I’m saying to you!” Castiel yells, “A thumbprint.  Hidden out of sight.”  Dean blinks.  Cas stares at him, and a wash of warmth courses over his shoulder, soothing the stabs of pain and churning want in Dean’s belly.  “I marked you, but it wasn’t a claim until you let it be.”

 

“Shit.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Bobby, where is he?”  Bobby nods toward the motel room, eyes wide as he catches on.  “Alright.  Okay.  Here’s what we’re going to do.”  Dean takes a breath before coming around the car and pressing a kiss to Cas’ mouth.  “You need to leave,” he whispers when he pulls back, “He’ll know something’s up.”

 

“We’re not going to do anything about it?” Bobby asks, sounding unsure.

 

“Not until Sam wants us to know,” Dean says slowly, still looking at Castiel, “He has to trust us.  He’s my brother.  I’m not going to push him.”

 

“Lucifer is still an angel,” Castiel reminds him.

 

Dean nods.  “Which is why we’re not pushing.  Because Sam probably has very good reasons for letting him in.  I’ll see you later?”

 

“I don’t know.  There are things that require my attention.  I may be out of contact for a few days, maybe a week.”

 

“Okay.  Be careful, alright?  Break your promise, and I’ll kill you.”

 

Castiel laughs.  “The same goes for you.”  He steals a quick kiss that leaves Dean leaning in for more, and Castiel allows him a small, slow kiss before pulling away.  He places a hand over Dean’s shoulder, and Dean nods.  He blinks when Castiel suddenly isn’t there.

 

When he turns, Bobby is frowning.  “Are you sure you can do this?”

 

“I have to.  Sam trusts me.  It’s time I trusted him.”  Bobby just nods.

 

--

 

January 26, 2010.

 

It’s been two months.

 

When they pull into the motel parking lot, Dean doesn’t get out of the car.  “Do you want to get two rooms?” Sam asks.

 

Two months since the last time Dean held Castiel’s hand, since he kissed him good morning, since he laughed.

 

“No, it’s fine,” Dean says, forcing himself out of the car.

 

He sees him plenty, five minute conversations with Sam and Uriel in the room, quick embraces that mean so much more than thanks for your help and instead scream come back, but it’s been two months since he felt anything between them.  It’s not just the sex, it never has been.  He misses the warmth of Castiel’s body against him, the weight of his hands after a long night of sleep, the ease and comfort of being able to press their shoulders together, share small glances, anything, and Dean feels like someone is squeezing his heart.

 

They check into the room, a place they’ll be for at least a week, and they settle in, putting up salt and wards, scattering their belongings in the usual places, and it’s all done in silence.  “Dean,” Sam tries to start, but Dean shakes his head.

 

“I’m gonna take a shower,” he mumbles, brushing past his brother and heading for the bathroom.  He needs to be alone.  He needs to get this image out of his head, this image of a broken and angry Castiel, fighting for something he doesn’t believe in anymore.  It’s burning him, branding him, and he needs to chase it away.

 

What he needs is his angel.

 

Sam waits until the bathroom door is shut and the water is on before he stalks over to the opposite side of the room, putting as much distance between him and Dean as he can.  When he’s sure Dean won’t hear him, he speaks quickly and quietly, “Dear Castiel, I know we just saw you, but Dean needs you.  Cas, he can’t—he’s so broken right now, Cas, and he needs you.”

 

“Sam.”  Castiel’s voice catches his attention, and Sam nearly shouts in frustration.  Cas has that same empty look in his eyes.

 

“What is going on between you two?” he demands, pointing at the bathroom door.

 

“Nothing.  It’s not between us.  We both knew this was going to happen.  Things are chaotic right now, but I think everything is quiet for the moment.”

 

“So, you’re not fighting?”

 

“No,” Castiel says, looking alarmed, “Not at all.  Why, did Dean say we were?”

 

“No, he just seemed really upset about—about everything.”

 

“I know, and it’s partially my fault.  Sam, it’s just—I haven’t been able to—to—be with him in a long time.  I haven’t been able to see him and—and love him.”

 

Hearing the words come from Castiel startle him, but Sam understands.  He nods, already moving to put his jacket back on.  “I’m gonna head out for a while, okay?  Do both of you a favor, and go to him.”  Sam leaves without another word, and Castiel immediately makes his way toward the bathroom, shrugging off his trench coat as he goes.

 

“Dean,” he says when he pushes the door open.

 

Something drops behind the glass door, and he can see Dean’s outline as he stumbles and tries to turn to open the door.  Castiel, in his frustration and need, fumbles over his clothes before sighing and forcing himself to relax.  He’ll never get used to the sudden rush of cold air when he zaps his clothes off.

 

“Cas,” Dean gasps when he finally manages to get the door open.

 

“I’m sorry.  I should have come sooner.”  Dean’s already stepping back to allow the angel in, and the space is small and cramped, but it’s comfortable here, pressed against his human’s body.  “I love you.”

 

“Cas,” Dean sighs, grabbing his face and kissing him hard and passionate.  “I love you,” he whispers when he breaks apart.  Their next kiss is more urgent, and Dean plasters them against the wall, the hot water beating down on his back.  “Turn around,” he murmurs when they part again.  Castiel obeys, groaning when Dean pulls them together again, bodies flush with one another and the hard line of Dean’s cock curving over the swell of his ass.  “Are you ready?” Dean ghosts the question over his ear.

 

Castiel responds by pressing back into Dean, who moans in response, his hands dancing down until one settles on Castiel’s hip and the other guides his cock between his cheeks, the water sliding over them.  When Dean pushes in, light blinds him for a moment, and he gasps.  He’ll never get used to the feeling of Castiel, stretched by his grace, overpowering and overwhelming, but so good.

 

Castiel’s head drops back to Dean’s shoulder, and he takes advantage, licking and biting over the long, pale expanse of his angel’s neck.  “I missed you,” Dean whispers, dragging his cock out slow and heavy, making Cas tremble and groan.  “I missed you so much, Cas.”

 

“Dean,” Cas moans, trying to chase after him, but Dean holds him steady.

 

“I got you,” he whispers, kissing just below his ear before sliding back in, just as slow.  He sets an easy rhythm, taking care to find Castiel’s prostate and rub, hard, over it, eliciting the most beautiful sounds from him.  Castiel clings to him, one hand fisted in Dean’s hair, his arm bent behind him, and the other curled within Dean’s fingers on his hip.  They move together, languid and comfortable, a slow crawl to the top.

 

“Dean,  please,” Cas groans suddenly, and Dean obliges, untangling his fingers from Castiel’s and dropping it to the hard curve of his cock, precome glistening on his stomach.  Castiel bucks into his touch, and Dean releases his hip to seek out Castiel’s hands.  He places each of them against the wall, and he knows Cas will hold them steady as he grips his hip again and quickens his rhythm, breathing heavily into the dip of his angel’s spine, his temple pressed against the back of his neck.

 

“Cas,” he groans, cock sliding into the beautiful and blissful tight heat of his angel.  “Fuck—Cas.”

 

“Dean,” Castiel responds, whining, hips stuttering up into Dean’s fast-moving hand.  Castiel tenses, ass tightening around Dean’s cock, and he slams in, holding there as Castiel’s whole body breaks apart in a shake and he comes hard and fast in Dean’s hand.  “Dean.”

 

Dean breaks apart at that, groaning and biting the skin over Castiel’s spine.  They stay pressed together like that, breathing together, loving, one.  Gravity separates them, and Dean kisses the back of Castiel’s neck before straightening, bringing his angel with him.  Castiel turns to kiss him, and Dean smiles when they part.  “Hey,” he says softly, cupping Cas’ jaw and running a thumb over his cheek.

 

“Hey,” Cas responds, turning his head so he can kiss Dean’s palm.

 

“You’re here.”

 

“I’m here.”

 

“Are you going to leave?”

 

“Not tonight.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Dean brings them together again, winding his arms tightly around his angel and letting his eyes shut.  This is all he needed, to be right here, in the circle of Castiel’s arms, safe and home.

 

--

 

Dean laughs when Castiel makes an indignant noise and turns his face into Dean’s chest, grumbling something incoherent and angry.  He’s still smiling when Castiel finally emerges and glares at the TV, and it’s only minutes before he’s making that noise again, and Dean erupts, sides aching from how hard he’s laughing.  Cas grins, watching him fall sideways onto the bed.  He reaches for the remote as Dean struggles to catch his breath, and he shuts the aggravating movie off.  Dean’s phone dings, and he checks it to find a message from Sam.

 

“Your brother will be back in twenty minutes,” he says even as he kisses along Dean’s stomach, smirking in satisfaction as Dean grunts and shifts.

 

Castiel straightens, allowing Dean to pick himself back up.  “Twenty minutes?” Dean repeats before he kisses his angel, tongue sliding into his mouth easily.

 

“Mm,” Castiel responds, pulling back after a few breaths and pushing on Dean’s shoulders.  He relents, sliding down from the headboard until he’s lying down and Castiel is straddling his hips, slowly rocking into him.  He bends to kiss Dean, but then he’s making his way down his torso, stopping at each nipple to roll his tongue over the hard bud and bite at the sensitive skin.  Dean is squirming when he finally puffs a breath of hot air against his cock, curving up against his stomach and mostly hard.  He curls one hand around Dean’s thigh, pulling so that his human parts his legs, breath coming quick and hard, but the other he reaches up to Dean, who immediately rifles through the nightstand, searching desperately for the bottle of lube.

 

He snatches it up as Cas mouths at his balls, and he moans, hips hitching upward.  Cas laughs and pulls back, licking a stripe up his cock.  He wiggles his fingers, and Dean grunts again, popping the cap on the bottle and lubing his fingers for him.  When he’s done, Castiel pressures his hole and takes the head of his cock in between his lips, sucking hard once.  Dean groans, loud and deep, arching off the bed, and Castiel presses his finger past the tight rings of muscle, coaxing Dean open and relaxed for him.

 

It’s fast, hard, and dirty after that.  Castiel fucks him quickly with his fingers, stretching him thoroughly, adding fingers to Dean’s hitching breaths, his head bobbing as he takes all of his cock with each stretch of his pink and shiny lips.  He pulls off with a wet pop finally, fingers coming out of Dean’s ass, and Dean tosses him the bottle as he struggles away from the edge, head pressed into the pillows and eyes screwed shut.

 

“C’mon,” he whines as Cas lubes his dick, “Cas, fuck, come on.”  He watches Dean’s body push off the bed and shift toward him, humming with want and slick with sweat.  Castiel smirks and dips his head again, pressing hot, wet kisses along Dean’s throbbing cock as he hooks his knees over his shoulders, guides his cock to Dean’s ass, and looks up at him, eyes dark under his lashes.  Dean is staring at him, open-mouthed and already looking well-fucked.  “Castiel,” he whispers, and it sends a shiver of lust straight to his groin.  He pushes in, Dean’s ass settling in his lap, his legs curled over his shoulders and heels digging into his back.

 

They’re both so close, and it’s been so long, and so Castiel reaches up and curls a hand over Dean’s shoulder, holding tight, and Dean screams, his body bending off the bed as he fucks him fast and hard, tearing him down into a writhing mess with only a few thrusts.  He watches his orgasm rip through him, shake him apart and he strokes Dean through it, hips snapping hard, hard enough to bruise, and it’s the way Dean’s thighs tremble and tense against his shoulders that trips him over the edge.

 

Fuck, Dean,” Castiel gasps as he lets the hunter’s legs drop back to the bed and he collapses against him, his vessel exhausted.  Dean groans under him, and Castiel starts to move, afraid he’s let his strength go and is hurting him, but Dean winds his arms around him.

 

“You just said fuck,” Dean mumbles.

 

Castiel blinks.  “So I did,” he says, smiling, “I didn’t even realize it.  You’re rubbing off on me.”

 

“That’s not a bad thing.  Okay, now you’re heavy.”  It should surprise him that Dean is so attune to him that it feels as though he’s the one that can read minds, but it doesn’t, and he simply rolls off of Dean and onto his side, groaning softly.  “So that was awesome.”

 

Castiel laughs.  “It really was.”  He presses a kiss to Dean’s shoulder, lips wet against the ridges of his handprint, and he smiles.  “Sam is almost here,” he warns a few moments later, and Dean grunts.  Castiel laughs again, straightening and seeking out his briefs and one of Dean’s t-shirts.  He tosses Dean a pair of clean boxer briefs, which he carries with him to the bathroom.  Sam knocks on the door as he’s donning sweatpants.

 

Cas goes to answer it, laughing as Dean grumbles in the bathroom.  Sam smiles when he opens the door.  “Hey,” he says as Cas retreats, going back to find Dean clothes.  “Thanks for coming, man,” he continues, shutting the door behind him.

 

“Sam,” Castiel says, looking over at him, “I wanted to be here.  Things have just been difficult.  I hope you don’t mind if I stay the night.”

 

“No, of course not.  Uh, should I be getting another room?”


“You’re fine, Sam,” Dean says as he exits the bathroom, “I’m old.  I don’t think I have another round in me.”

 

“Yeah, way TMI.  I brought presents.”  He holds up a few bags, and Dean cheers softly.

 

“Mm, thank you,” he adds to Castiel, kissing him as his angel crosses the room with clothes.

 

“It’s good to see you two happy again,” Sam comments, and they both hear the twinge of sadness in it.

 

Dean catches Castiel’s gaze, and it’s a testament of their bond that they don’t have to say a word as Dean turns back to face Sam.  “Sammy—”

 

“I think I forgot my phone in the car.  I’ll be right back, okay?”  He doesn’t wait for them to respond; he’s gone before they can really formulate one anyway.

 

“What do you think?” Dean says, looking to Cas.

 

“Truthfully?”  Dean nods.  “I can find him, if you want.”

 

“I think you should.  I think—I think, if Sam trusts him, then we should.  Maybe we can talk to him, see what Sam does.  But I think he needs him, you know?  I think he’s going through a lot of what we were.”

 

“Angels mate for life, Dean.”

 

“I know,” Dean says, confused.

 

“That’s what was going on between us.  We can’t survive properly without one another now.  You know that, I know, but…” he trails off, and Dean understands.

 

“Things aren’t that simple with the devil.  So, if he’s marked Sam, then—”

 

“Then yes, he is going through the same thing, but Lucifer can’t be here like I can, especially if we’re pushing him away.”

 

“Then let’s talk to him.”

 

“Alright.  I’m going to get supplies.  I’ll be back in a few minutes, okay?”

 

Dean nods, blinking when Castiel disappears.  He just hopes this is the right decision.

 

--

 

Sam pulls over onto the shoulder of the road, his hands gripping the steering wheel tightly.  He slowly puts the car in park and reclines into the seat.  His prayer is quick and unanswered.  It’s not the first time he’s tried, but he always gets the same results.  He tries again, his words more desperate and sad, but still nothing.  He slams his hand off the steering wheel when he finishes and threads his fingers through his hair, shaking.

 

“Why won’t you answer me?” he whispers.

 

Sam.

 

He looks up, eyes wide.  “Lucifer?” he says to the empty car, but he gets no response.  He sits there for a few moments until he feels too confined, and he pushes open the door, getting out into night air that smells like the ocean.  He spins, and there he is, shadowed by the night, leaning against the Impala.

 

“Don’t,” he warns as Sam tries to close the distance, “I don’t want to frighten you.”

 

Frighten me?  What’s wrong?”

 

“Sam,” he pleads when he tries to move forward again, “You know that you’re my true vessel.  Nick is—Nick is dying, Sam.”  He tries to take that with a grain of salt because Lucifer isn’t Nick, but it still rocks him, and he folds his arms across his chest, looking away and frowning.

 

“What happens if he does?”

 

“There’s only so much a human vessel can take before it burns up, and then, well, I would have to find another, though it would take some time.  Unless, of course, you said yes, but it’s not time for that yet.  You need to stop praying to me.”

 

“I—”

 

“Sam, no.  I can’t put you in danger.  I told you—”

 

“That you have things to do, I know, but—”

 

“No.”  Sam looks up at the sound of wings, and he swears, punching the car.

 

“Come on!” he shouts, staring around, “God, you’re worse than Castiel.”  He yanks open the car door and slams it behind him.  His phone rings as he’s speeding off.  “Dean,” he answers.

 

“You okay?”

 

“No.”

 

“You gonna come back?”

 

“Yeah, I think so.”

 

“I’m sorry, man.”

 

“For what?”

 

“For not trusting you before.  About Lucifer.  I think we all should talk.”

 

“What?”  Sam nearly crashes.

 

“Yeah.  Come back, Sam.”  He pulls the phone back and stares at it for a moment, disbelieving.  This cannot be happening.  “Sam?”

 

“I’m here,” he mumbles, putting the phone back to his ear, “Uhm, I’ll be back in twenty.”  Dean hangs up, and Sam blinks.  He’s mildly terrified about what he’s to find when he does return.

 

It’s not as bad as he originally thought.  In fact, it’s rather—good.

 

He walks in tentatively, dropping the keys to the Impala on the dresser.  The bathroom door is closed, and Cas is by the window, staring out with a curious expression on.  “Cas?” he says quietly, closing the front door behind him.

 

“Sam,” Castiel responds, not turning.  Sam comes in a little farther, shrugging off his jacket slowly.  “Sam, we summoned Lucifer.”  Sam nearly chokes.  Castiel turns from the window, frowning.  “Dean and I have talked about this a few times.  We’ve known that there was something going on between the two of you long before that night you disappeared.  We didn’t say anything because Dean trusted you and thought that if you trusted Lucifer, then there was a good reason.  I agreed with him.  But, then tonight, we talked again about the possibility, and it was obvious how much you were suffering.  I say that because the same exact thing was happening between Dean and me, though ours is a little more effective considering the length of time and amount we spend together.  And so we found him, and we summoned him, though he had to leave partway through to answer a prayer.  I assume that was you.”  Sam nods.

 

“Hey, do we have any—Sam,” Dean cuts himself off, stopping just outside the bathroom.  He quickly shields the doorway as he searches blindly for the door behind him.  When he snaps it shut, Sam steps forward.  “You’re back.”

 

“What is going on?”

 

“Angels, man,” Dean tries to play it off, but Sam shakes his head.

 

“No,” he says, firm, “Dean, this is way beyond your normal level of crazy.”

 

“What can I say?” he shrugs, “The devil’s rather nice once you get to know him.”

 

“How long have you guys been talking?” Sam exclaims, “I was barely gone an hour!”

 

“Your boyfriend slowed down time.  Pretty weird.  Feels like an acid trip.  Anyway, uh—Cas, my bag?”  Castiel nods offhandedly before making his way across the room to Dean’s bed.  “Look, Sammy,” Dean says immediately, dropping his voice, “This was my idea as much as it was Cas’.  I know what you were going through, man, I just wanted to help.”

 

“I have to pee.”

 

“Go outside.”

 

Sam glares at Dean, who just shrugs and remains where he is.  “What’s in there?”

 

“We didn’t hurt him.  I promise.”

 

“What did you do?”  The door opens before either of them can speak, and Sam staggers back a step, his breath catching in his throat.  “Lucifer,” he gasps, staring at him.

 

Dean sighs and steps out of the way.  “Sam, I’m sorry,” Lucifer says quietly, “I told you I didn’t want to frighten you.”

 

“What happened?”  Sam surprises everyone by closing the distance between them and lifting a cautious hand to his face, hovering just beyond reach.  Lucifer’s skin is peeling back, leaving red patches that look painful.

 

“I told you.  Nick is dying.”

 

“How?”

 

“You are my true vessel, Sam.  You know this.  Nick is burning up.  He cannot contain me forever.”

 

Sam looks away for a moment before stepping back and looking to his brother.  He holds his gaze for a moment before turning back to Lucifer.  “What did you say to them?” he asks, his voice soft.

 

“The truth.”

 

“Which is?”

 

Sam jumps a little when he feels Lucifer’s fingers dart out and skim along his.  “That our bond is the same as theirs.”

 

“That caught my attention,” Dean admits, and Sam watches him head over to his bed where he drops a quick kiss on Castiel’s forehead before he sits next to him.  “After that, we—well—we let him out of the holy fire.”

 

“Holy fire.  Awesome.  Go on.”

 

“I told them about us, what’s gone on,” Lucifer says, winding their fingers together and squeezing his hand, “I explained to them what I did to you.”

 

“About the apocalypse, the demons, the fall, everything.  We hashed it out.  And Sammy,” Dean pauses to take a deep breath, “If you trust him, then okay.  I’m not going to say I’d take a bullet for the guy or trust him with my life, but I trust you.  You’re my brother, man, and if you’re okay with the devil—Lucifer, I’m sorry—then alright.  I can handle that.”

 

Sam stares at his brother for a long moment before nodding.  “Are you sure?” he asks, frowning.

 

“Yeah.  I’m sure.  Look, I just want you to be happy, man.  And, I mean, Cas and I, we’ve been talking about this for a while now, so it’s not really anything new.  It’s just, you know, right in front of us.”

 

Sam nods slowly.  “Yeah.  Yeah, okay.”

 

“Alright, well,” Dean says, bumping shoulders with Castiel before standing up, “Cas and I are gonna roam for a while.  I’ll call you before we get back.”

 

“Take a coat, it’s cold,” Castiel says as he heads toward the door.

 

Sam’s not sure if Dean realizes just how much all of this means to him, but then his brother turns at the door and nods to him with the smallest of smiles, and Sam just gets it.  He knows why Dean understands.

 

When Sam turns to Lucifer, the angel refuses to meet his eyes until Sam steps forward and leans their foreheads together.  “I wished you’d just told me what was happening instead of deserting,” he murmurs, and Lucifer sighs.

 

“You couldn’t have helped.  It’s just the way of things.  Your brother tried to help,” Lucifer gestures toward the bathroom, “It was rather interesting.”

 

“Dean’s like that.  How are you?”

 

“Sam, I’m fine.  You needn’t worry about me.”  Lucifer straightens, finally looking into Sam’s eyes.

 

“I do, though.  You may be an archangel, but you’re still my archangel.”  It was just something to say, something sweet, and, though he’d meant it, he hadn’t expected the reaction.

 

Lucifer is speechless, staring at him in utter befuddlement, and Sam’s brow furrows as he tries to decipher the expression.  “Yours?” Lucifer says very quietly.

 

Sam nods.  “Yeah,” he promises, “Just like I’m yours.”

 

Lucifer opens his mouth to say something, but nothing comes out.  He shakes his head, instead leaning forward to kiss Sam.  “Mine,” he says when he pulls back.  Under normal circumstances, Sam would laugh, but the look of absolute adoration on Lucifer’s face stops him.

 

“I was made for you, remember?” Sam says slowly, stepping into the angel’s space and curling one hand around his jaw, “So that means you were made for me.”

 

“Sam, I’d like to give you something.”  Sam nods even as Lucifer takes his mouth in a soft, slow kiss, and he knows what’s happening even before he hears the magnificent and beautiful rustle of the angel’s wings.  He forces himself not to open his eyes against the blinding light until Lucifer soothes a thumb over the ever-present print on his hip.  He doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to master his reaction to seeing Lucifer’s wings.  They are so otherworldly and beautiful that he can’t help but gasp and stare in awe.

 

And so it takes him a few moments before he returns his attention to Lucifer’s face, who is watching him with clear reverence.  It occurs to him suddenly that Lucifer has trusted him with such a personal and vital part of him, a part that he has quite likely not shared with anyone since he was cast out of Heaven, and that such trust is, really, beyond any true comprehension.  Sam has accepted him, and that is stronger than any thumbprint.

 

Cradled in his hands is one, long feather, blackened by years in Hell but so beautiful.  “Keep this safe.  Once you touch it, no amount of sigils, even carved into your ribs, will hide you from me,” Lucifer says softly, and Sam leans forward to kiss him lightly before he slips his fingers over the feather and claims it.  He can feel the light and warmth of the angel’s grace blossoming within him, and he has never felt more at peace.

 

--

 

He deciphers relatively quickly how to answer Sam’s cell phone.  “Hello?” he says because he’s heard Sam do that before.

 

“Uh,” Dean replies, and Lucifer rolls his eyes.  Humans.  “Lucifer?” he tries out the name.

 

“Honestly, Dean,” he can hear Dean’s angel, the little Castiel, grumble in the background.

 

“Shut up,” Dean returns playfully, and Lucifer is surprised to hear a content, albeit fondly frustrated, sigh.  “So,” Dean returns his attention to Lucifer, “Is it safe in there?  We’re about a half hour away.”

 

“Yes, Dean, it is safe.”  The brother’s name feels strange on his tongue when applying it to the actual human.

 

“Alright, we’re gonna head back then.  Cas, stop.”

 

“Then pay attention.”

 

“I am paying attention.”

 

“No, you’re overtired.”

 

“Two entirely different arguments.”

 

He also deciphers relatively quickly how to hang up on someone.  While Sam would smile at his brother and the little angel’s antics, he doesn’t find it in the least bit interesting.  Castiel is strange and foreign to him, a new kind of angel, so different and so very human.  He is archaic, he knows, but he is also an archangel.

 

Nick’s soul flares sudden warmth inside him, and Lucifer retreats within himself, closing his eyes and sinking into the embrace that is Sam.  He allows his grace to mold against the near-perfect fit of Nick’s soul, not quite the perfection of Sam’s, and colors, sensations, Sarah, touches, memories, flow through him.  He understands what Nick is trying to do, and he soothes a dark corner in his soul in gratitude, allows his grace to overwhelm Nick’s soul for a moment, a bond so deep that they will never be separate, not even when Lucifer is within Sam’s body.  He will always feel Nick, outside of his body, inside of his cage, always.  He cares for Nick in many of the same ways he cares for Sam, though, where Nick is a friend, Sam is a love.

 

It isn’t sleep, but it’s close.  Sam’s soul is open and calm when he sleeps, and Lucifer lets his grace relax into the perfect grooves of Sam’s soul, melding them into one, and he lets Nick’s body uncoil and relinquish into serenity.  Thus, he isn’t fully aware of the door opening, slamming, and Dean swearing.

 

“What the fuck, Cas?” he hears, vaguely.

 

“It’s not possible,” Castiel hisses as Lucifer surfaces.  He shifts, and the sensation of his feathers against cotton sets every crack in his grace on fire.  The sky opens in a vicious and trembling bolt of lightning as his wings disappear, he catches the little angel’s gaze in a furious glare, and then he is gone.

 

--

 

“Okay, seriously,” Dean sighs, trying to wrench Castiel’s hand away from his eyes.  Surprisingly, his third attempt is successful.  “What just happened?” he demands when Castiel turns to face him.

 

“Did you see anything?” he asks, his voice quiet but tense.

 

“No, why?”

 

“Okay,” Cas says, nodding, “Okay, that’s good.”

 

“What’s good?  Cas!” he groans as his angel slips away before he can touch him, curving around his body and opening the door.

 

“Lucifer’s wings,” Castiel whispers, “They were out.  That is a very intimate thing for an angel to share, and I should have sensed the openness of his grace before we came in, and now—now he is very angry.”  Castiel steps out of the motel room.  “I have to go seek him out before he destroys something on the thought that you saw them.”

 

“But I didn’t.”

 

“Exactly.  I’ll be back shortly and—”

 

Dean cuts him off with a kiss, long and soft.  “Just be safe,” he says, nodding once before heading into the room.  Castiel watches him go for a moment before closing the doors and disappearing with a flutter of wings.

 

When he resurfaces, he is overwhelmed by the strange sensation of falling.  His knees hit soft sand, chilled by the night air, and his whole being feels as though it’s being oppressed by a raging storm of fury.  He forces his blue eyes up, and his frame shakes from the power that is the angel Lucifer.

 

Black wings stretch high above him, larger than any Castiel has ever seen, and he is afraid of the devil.  Lucifer takes a step toward him, and the ground trembles beneath him.  Wind rips at his clothing even as a massive swell breaks apart the shore and taints the air with a heavy taste of salt.

 

“Lucifer,” he says, careful to make his voice strong even as he bows his head; devil or not, he is an archangel, old and nearly as powerful as God.

 

The angel Lucifer releases some of the nearly unbearable weight on Castiel’s grace.  He recognizes patience, understanding, and a calm that screams Sam.  He makes a mental note to do something incredible for Sam to thank him for teaching the devil virtues.

 

“Lucifer,” he repeats, his gaze still lowered, “Dean did not see.  I swear.”

 

The oppression of his grace is mostly gone so quickly that Castiel is left gasping.  There is still a frightening ball of fury hanging over him, though, and he swallows his fear.  “You knew as soon as you walked in.  Why not before?” Lucifer demands, but, before Castiel can answer, the angel has seen the answer in his mind, “Your bond with Dean is unlike any I have seen in a very long time.  It is reminiscent of the bond Gabriel and I had before I was cast out.”

 

“Gabriel has told me much the same before.”

 

“I long to see my brother,” Lucifer admits, and then the oppression is gone entirely.  Castiel is allowed his feet again, and he stands, though he retains the distance between he and Lucifer.  “Sam would not take kindly to me injuring you for it would not fare well with Dean.”

 

“That’s not why you didn’t,” Castiel says, a risky statement.

 

“No, it’s not,” Lucifer confirms, meeting his gaze, “It is because Sam has taught me to understand before I act.  He has taught me many things, like the love of a human, and now I have come to see what my Father once did.”

 

“Our Father,” Castiel corrects.

 

“Yes.  Of course.”  There is no comfort, no acceptance in his tone; Castiel is not his brother, not in the ways Balthazar and Uriel are his brothers or Michael and Gabriel are Lucifer’s.  “Go back to your charges, Castiel.  Protect them.”

 

“Where will you be?”

 

“I have business to attend to.”

 

Castiel watches him for a moment before speaking again, “Thank you, Lucifer.”  When the angel gives him a curious glance, Castiel averts his gaze.  “Thank you for healing Sam Winchester, for making him whole again.”  He doesn’t wait for his response.

 

--

 

January 28, 2010.

 

Something is wrong.

 

In the days after Lucifer gave Sam one of his feathers, he knew, immediately, when Sam held it, could feel the warmth of his grace alight with Sam’s touch.  But this, this hideous touch, this is wrong.  Panic flares through him, and he quells it, seeking out the touch of Sam’s soul even as he abandons his ruination on a pair of witches trying to summon him, his least favorite.

 

Sam’s soul is immediate and screaming for him.  His body is separate, attached to a disgusting, ugly soul that makes Lucifer seethe.  Someone has harmed his Sam, someone has forced him unprotected.  He can hear Dean asking the teenage girl if she’s okay even as he darkens the skies and splits them with wild winds and raging thunder.

 

“Great,” Dean sighs, “You didn’t want to meet the boss, you shouldn’t have pissed him off.”

 

“What?” the ugly soul snaps, “We just exorcised that demon, I’m not meeting the devil.”

 

The curtain catches fire as he appears, his grace seeking out the ugly soul in Sam’s body and suffocating it.  “Lucifer!” an unfamiliar voice with Sam’s soul shouts.  He recoils, releasing the ugly soul and flicking his sharp, blue gaze to the body that isn’t Sam’s.

 

“Sam,” he says slowly, suddenly understanding.

 

“Don’t hurt Gary,” the body that isn’t Sam says, “He’s going to switch us again.”

 

Lucifer nods, eyes still fixed on the body that isn’t Sam, Sam, whose soul is still screaming for him, still raw with fear.  He ghosts his grace over it, a reassurance, and Sam’s gratitude is massive.  The spell takes only minutes, he knows, but his every sensation is on edge, waiting until Sam’s body recognizes its soul and he is whole again.  He has spent so much of his strength and time reshaping Sam; he will not have some underage witch troubling his work.

 

And then Sam shakes his head, lifting his hands to look at them.  His eyes dart up, and Lucifer stiffens.  “It’s me,” he says, but Lucifer is already smiling.

 

“I know,” he returns, his voice quiet and his grace thrumming with steadying calm.  They exchange a few short words with the ugly soul and the teenage girl, but Sam’s attention is far from their conversation, and the moment Dean begins to see them to the door, he crosses over to Lucifer and tucks his face away in his neck.  “I heard you,” Lucifer whispers, winding his arms around Sam.

 

“I was screaming for you.  As loud as I could.”

 

“I know.  I have not felt such fear as I did when I felt your soul as it was.”

 

“I could feel that,” Sam admits, pulling away to look him in the eyes, “I could feel your fear.”

 

“We are connected, Sam.  I have told you many times.”

 

“Thank you for coming.  Even though you freaked out Gary and his friend.”

 

“They don’t even deserve to be alive,” Lucifer growls, and he’s shocked into silence when Sam’s soul quells the oncoming fury of his grace.

 

“I’m here.  No more,” Sam commands, his tone soft.  He presses a chaste kiss to Lucifer’s mouth before stepping out of his embrace and reaching into his pocket.  “He touched this, didn’t he?  That’s how you really knew,” he says, and he doesn’t have to show the feather because Lucifer can feel it in his wings, even when hidden.

 

“Yes.  It startled me.”

 

“What were you doing?”

 

“Killing witches.”

 

“Finally.  Something I can approve of,” Sam laughs before adding, “Do you want to hang out here for a while?  I think Cas is coming by sooner or later.  We have this motel for another night.”  Lucifer nods before Sam has even finished speaking.

 

--

 

“What are you doing?” Dean whispers, rubbing his nose against Castiel’s temple.

 

“Nothing,” Castiel returns, his breath ghosting over the handprint he’s tracing.

 

“Liar.  I can feel what you’re doing.”

 

“Then why did you ask?”

 

Dean lets out a heavy sigh, but he’s smiling.  “Will you let me go to sleep?”

 

“I wasn’t stopping you.”

 

“You’re distracting me.”

 

“It seems only fair.”

 

“Angel justice, whatever,” Dean grumbles, rolling until he’s hovering over Cas, “Stop, okay?  I need to sleep.  You can continue tracing when I’m asleep.”

 

“Let me help you there, then?”

 

“God, fine.”  Castiel doesn’t even flinch at the blasphemy as Dean rolls onto his back again.  He presses a firm kiss to Dean’s mouth even as he runs two fingers over his temple, his voice a whisper in Dean’s mind that softens every ache and soothes every hint of a restless sleep.

 

--

 

Sam licks his lips, tasting salt, and he smiles, opening his eyes.  He’s dreaming, he knows, but, with Lucifer, everything feels real.  The angel is at his side, hand wound around his own, his magnificent black wings curled behind him.  Sam leans into his space, relishing in the feel of his feathers tracing against his skin.  He loves Lucifer’s wings, more than he’s sure he’ll ever be able to put into words.

 

“I can hear your thoughts, though,” Lucifer reminds him, and Sam smiles.

 

“Even so.”


Beyond that, they don’t speak.  Sam is entranced by the sensations around him, the cool water lapping around his ankles, the tickle of feathers on his neck and shoulder, the warmth of his angel’s body and hand, the soft wind, the night-chilled sand, and everything about this moment is perfect.

 

This place is real, but this peace is a dream.

 

--

 

April 22, 2010.

 

“I have an idea,” Sam says, taking a step away from the car even as Kali begrudgingly takes a seat in the back.

 

“Sam, what are you doing?” Dean shouts, but his brother is already backing farther away.  “Sam!” Dean screams.  Before he can move forward, Kali is at his side, an overheated hand wrapped around his wrist.

 

“Please.  Let him try,” she pleads, and he can see the same desperation in her eyes that has been in his own.

 

Inside, Sam sneaks his way through the hotel until he arrives at a door he knows will lead him down a hidden hall and to a hidden door in the back of the meeting room.  He’d watched Gabriel arrive from it moments before the archangel had made himself known.  When he slips into the room, there are two Gabriel’s and a raging Lucifer.  He’s out of time.  He doesn’t have any options left.

 

He doesn’t say a word as he approaches, and he’s surprised the Gabriel behind Lucifer doesn’t stop him, but then it occurs to him that maybe the two archangels are so attune to one another that they’re oblivious to him, which only sets a fierce determination in his mind to carry through with his only plan.

 

The moment Lucifer turns, Gabriel’s archangel blade arcing high above them, Sam will be between them.

 

Sam knows the moment the light goes out in Lucifer’s blue eyes, the moment his grace drowns in realization, the moment his seething fury against his brother warps into fury against himself.  He plunges forward at that moment, hands gripping Lucifer’s trembling arms, grounding him into Nick’s body.

 

“Lucifer,” he gasps as Gabriel steps away, eyes wide and disbelieving.

 

“Sam—Sam, no.”  His whole being shakes, and small fissures in the ceiling split open as the hotel around them starts to crumble.

 

“Remember when you’d just learned to fly, and you always used to dive into the ocean because you hated the smell of angel wings, but Gabriel would never let you go alone because he was afraid of you getting hurt,” Sam forces himself to say even as he feels the erratic stuttering of his heart begin to slow.  “And then that day you were helping the baby turtles to the sea, shielding them from harm, and—” Sam breaks off with a groan, his knees threatening to give way.  He closes his eyes, his fingers tightening in Lucifer’s skin.  He needs him to remember this, remember sharing this memory with him.  “Raphael tried to drown you, but Gabriel saved you.  Remember how he sent Raphael away, how he—saved you.”

 

Sam.”

 

“He’s your brother, Lucifer.”

 

Lucifer looks up, his blue gaze meeting Gabriel’s, and Gabriel nods.  “We have to get out of here.  I can help you heal Sam, but not in here.  Take us somewhere, brother.”  Sam knows without having to watch where Lucifer will transport them.  He knows what shore his memory will surface, one different from the turtles with Gabriel, one where Sam can bury his toes in the sand and feel at home.

 

He only remembers flashes of angelic white after that.

 

--

 

Lucifer lets his knees sink into the sand, pulling Sam with him, cradled in his arms.  Gabriel follows suit, hands moving in quick, decisive movements as he numbs the area around the blade and slowly slides it out, his eyes fixed on the wound, seeing past skin and into muscle and bone.  He lets it fall into the sand beside him when he’s done, and Lucifer lifts a hand to push Sam’s damp hair out of his face, his fingers shaking.  His Sam, his perfect vessel, his human, and he’s not breathing, not moving, not alive.

 

“Father, please,” he whispers, his resolve broken, his lust for anger destroyed.  He feels empty.

 

“Lucifer,” Gabriel says quietly, touching his arm briefly, “Lucifer, you need to—”  When he breaks off, Lucifer looks up into his older brother’s face, concerned, but Gabriel’s attention is focused elsewhere, his hands still hovering over Sam but his head turned, his eyes wide.  Lucifer follows his gaze, and everything around them stills.

 

He knows this man, this stranger dressed in white with his beard and his combed hair.  He knows him from the backs of the Winchester Gospels, he knows him from Sam’s memories, he knows him from a home he can’t call home anymore.

 

“Father,” Gabriel says, his voice reverent, and he stands, abandoning his brother and the human.

 

“Gabriel, my son,” the man says, stepping forward.  Lucifer remembers his name from the backs of the books, Chuck Shurley, remembers his name from golden gates and clouds and peace, God.  “You have done so well, my son.  I was so fearful today that your tale would end, but it appears my dear Winchesters have proven themselves once again.  Please, Gabriel, bring Sam back to his brother.  They will be at Bobby’s house.”  Chuck steps forward and lays a kiss on his son’s brow, Chuck because he is not God to Lucifer, Lucifer, who cannot look at his Father because he is not a son to God.

 

“Father, Lucifer—”

 

“Your brother will be fine without you, Gabriel.  Please.”  He extends a hand toward Sam, who takes in a sudden, shuddering breath, though his eyes remain closed.  Gabriel nods once before moving back toward Lucifer and kneeling once again.

 

He tightens a hand around Lucifer’s wrist, forcing him to look up.  “Be strong,” he whispers, and Lucifer feels a crack in his grace fill as his brother leans forward and presses a soft kiss to his forehead.  “I will watch over you.”  Gabriel is gone, with Sam, before he can open his eyes, and, when he does, the air in front of him is empty save for the easy ocean.

 

“Lucifer,” Chuck says quietly, but he doesn’t respond.  He can’t.  This isn’t his Father anymore.  “My son.”  A hand accompanies these words, fingers curling over his shoulder, and Lucifer raises his blue eyes, taking in the image of God for the first time in too many lifetimes.  Chuck’s hand slips up to cup Lucifer’s jaw, and he lets his eyes slip shut.  He has never felt so whole as he does in this moment.  “You will have to sacrifice much more, my son, but the gates of Heaven will be forever open to you,” Chuck whispers, and it is with those words that Lucifer is once again the son of God, and his Father bestows his love upon him.

 

“What do I have to do?” Lucifer asks, opening his eyes again.  God smiles.

 

--

 

May 14, 2010.

 

Bobby was tidying up Sam’s room when he found it.  He’d been trying to find Sam’s journal, and he’d ended up putting things away as he searched, but then he’d picked up an unsuspecting book, and it had fallen out.  Bobby almost didn’t see it, the little fluttering envelope that slipped out of the pages, hit the floor, and slid under the bed.  But he did, and so he’d stooped down and snatched it up, and then he’d frozen.  For Dean and Bobby, for May fourteenth.  It wasn’t sealed, but Bobby knew, just knew, Dean hadn’t found this.

 

And so he’d dropped the book, turned right out of Sam’s room, and called Dean.  “Bobby?”

 

“Did you make it to Lisa’s yet?”

 

“Uh—no, why?”


“Turn around.  Come back.”

 

“Bobby, is everything okay?”

 

“There’s a letter here, Dean.”  When Dean doesn’t say anything, Bobby sighs, “From Sam.  Dated for today.  To you and me.”

 

The line goes dead, but he expected that.  He feels bad about pulling Dean away from the only chance at a normal life, but he’s learned from so many different instances of not telling Dean how very wrong not showing him this letter could be.  He doesn’t open it until Dean arrives, just leaves it sitting on the kitchen table, standing in the living room, far from it, but he does scroll  through his contacts until he hits Castiel’s name and puts the phone back to his ear.

 

“Bobby?” the angel answers, and he’s surprised he answered so fast, if at all.

 

“I found a letter from Sam, dated for today, to Dean and me.  I think you should be here.”

 

“Where did you find it?” Castiel asks, and Bobby swears, jumping.  He turns, glaring at Cas as he clicks his phone shut and drops it into one of his trench coat pockets.

 

“In a book.  I was trying to find Sam’s journal in his room.  Dean’s on his way.”

 

“Where is it?”

 

Bobby points to the kitchen.  Castiel nods, but doesn’t move.  And so they stand there together, sometimes circling around the room, until the familiar rumble of the Impala announces Dean’s arrival.  When he comes in, he stares at Bobby and Cas for a moment before Bobby points to the table, and Dean retrieves the letter.

 

“Did you read it?” he asks, not looking up.

 

“No.  I was waiting for you.”

 

Dean nods before coming into the living room, pulling the folded piece of paper out as he sits.  He looks it over for a moment, not reading it, just absorbing until Bobby clears his throat, and Dean nods again.  “Okay.  Okay.”  He takes a deep breath and starts, his voice quiet, “Bobby, I’m hoping you find this before Dean leaves.  I know I told him to live a life with Lisa and Ben, but I couldn’t give him hope, not until after.  He had to play the part right, and you know how he gets.”  Dean stops, pulling in his bottom lip to bite on it.

 

Castiel watches him for a moment before crossing the room and sitting at his side.  “It’s okay,” he whispers, rubbing a hand over his knee and settling it onto his thigh.

 

“Yeah.  Okay.”  He takes in another breath before continuing, “When I went back into the motel to try to stop Lucifer from killing Gabriel, I was stabbed with an archangel blade.  Lucifer and Gabriel zapped us out and Chuck appeared.  Yeah.  Chuck is God, guys.  He healed me, and, when you found me, it was because he’d asked Gabriel to take me back to Bobby’s so that he could talk to Lucifer alone.  I’ve known this since the night I woke up.  Lucifer dream-walked and told me.  Chuck had a lot to say, but he’ll be by to explain everything.  I just want you to know that I’m not gone, I’ll be home tomorrow.  Wait for me, okay?  Sammy.

 

Dean looks up at Bobby, who looks just as confused and shocked as he does.  Castiel opens his mouth to speak at the same time someone knocks on the door, and then he’s all wide-eyed and hurriedly standing up.  Before he can, however, the door opens and soft footsteps precede Chuck Shurley.

 

“You have every right to run from me,” he says as he enters the room, “But you shall not.”  He directs his gaze to Castiel, who is staring at him in horror.  “Little angel, I hear all.  Do not feign innocence.”

 

“Cas,” Dean says, rising, “Is he really God?”

 

“Yes, Dean.  Chuck is God.”

 

Bobby starts to stand, then, but Chuck holds up a hand, smiling.  “Guys, I’m still Chuck.  I’m just here to explain what Sam couldn’t in his letter.  I will address you in a moment, little angel.”

 

“Father,” Castiel says very quietly, bowing his head.  Dean watches the exchange with a confused expression, worry aflame in his green eyes.

 

“Dean, sit,” Chuck says even as he pulls a chair over for himself.  He holds out his hands after he’s crossed his legs, “It’s simple, really.  Sam intervened.  He saved Gabriel from Lucifer’s wrath, and he sacrificed himself.  He was nearly gone when I found them at the ocean.  Gabriel had healed him, but not enough.  I finished the job and sent my son on his way.  You found Sam on that couch,” he says, pointing to where Dean and Cas are sitting, “Gabriel left just before you arrived.  However, back at the ocean, I spoke with Lucifer.  I told him all that had to be done, and that, in the end, the gates of Heaven would be forever open to him.  He spoke with Sam before your brother woke up, and Sam helped carry through the plan.”

 

Chuck pauses, and Bobby pushes out of his seat.  “Beer, Chuck?  Cas?”


“Yes, thank you.”  Castiel shakes his head, eyes still trained away from his Father.

 

“So, the plan?” Dean prompts as Bobby heads into the kitchen.

 

“The plan,” Chuck continues, “Sam had to let Lucifer in so that he could draw Michael into the cage.  I do apologize for how aggressive the actual ending was, but it had to be real.  Once in the cage, I could deal with Michael as I saw fit.  He will be allowed back into Heaven because I have already helped create one monster, I will not be the cause of another one.  His punishment will be great, and he will never disturb Heaven, Earth, or Hell ever again.  I have conferred with this demon, Crowley, who claims himself the King of Hell, and I have made plans to help him reform Hell into a place of organization and somewhere where respect matters.  There will not be a devil ever again; there cannot.  Lucifer will not be allowed back into Hell; however, as I said, the gates of Heaven are open to him.  Sam is safe in Hell, protected by my son’s grace.  He will return tomorrow with Lucifer, and I beg of you,” he pauses to look at them each, “Grant him forgiveness and peace.”

 

They lapse into a small silence, allowing Chuck to drink and the others to think.  “Now,” Chuck says suddenly, straightening, “Little angel.”  Castiel lifts his gaze, shame evident in his face.  “My son,” Chuck continues, shaking his head, “Your thoughts are impure.  I have seen your future, I have seen what you become, and it is exactly what your thoughts are.  You believe that you can reign in Heaven as God, you believe that I am an absentee father, and I understand this, but you are very wrong, my son.  Purgatory is not a place for the love of a god, and it would destroy you.  Do you wish to leave your charge behind, broken without you?  I thought not,” he pauses again to stand and straighten his jacket, “I have spoken with Death, and, with his help, we will seal Purgatory so that none may ever attempt to open it and abuse its power.  Little angel—my son—you must see that this is for your own good.”

 

“Yes, Father,” Castiel replies in a soft voice.

 

“Do not be ashamed of your thoughts, little angel.  You are beautiful.”  Chuck steps forward, startling Castiel, and they all watch in shock as he leans down and presses a kiss to Cas’ forehead.  When he pulls back, he waits until Castiel meets his gaze before he smiles.  “Be strong,” he says, and Cas nods, his blue eyes glassy.

 

When he steps back, Chuck downs the last of his drink before turning toward Dean, “As for this world, I will not remove its blemishes.  I created Earth so that it may flourish on its own.  It is something that I wanted to watch over and nudge in small directions.  I never wanted to lead you, and so I will not.  Humanity is an incredible thing, and I will not take that away merely for safety and comfort and peace.  You love your job; what would you do without it?  I will not give this world Paradise because it is far too beautiful without it.  Do you understand?”

 

“Thanks, man,” Dean says, “I think I’d go stir-crazy otherwise.”

 

Chuck smiles.  “Well.  I have business upstairs with Raphael.  Castiel, I have heard the tales, and, I assure you, he will not go untouched.  Michael and Raphael must repent for their wrongs.  My sons have been destructive without me, and they must learn to grow up, like you have, like Lucifer has, and like my younger sons and daughters continue to.  It will never cease to amaze me how great an effect humanity has on the weight of right and wrong.  Dean, please never feel strange about calling me.  I will be in Heaven for some time, cleaning up my children’s mess, but I am far too fond of this world to abandon it, and I will be back, in this form.  Until then—Bobby, Dean, Castiel, please give Sam my greetings, but I must be on my way.”

 

They bid Chuck goodbye pleasantly, though Dean’s not sure anything but a good, old-fashioned hunt will settle his nerves after all this.

 

--

 

Sam sits down, crossing his legs beneath him, and Michael looks over sullenly, arms folded across his chest and eyes narrowed in a hateful glare.  He’s still in Adam’s body, and Sam hates to look at him, hates to think that his brother is containing such a vicious maelstrom.  Lucifer is beside Sam, wings folded against his back while he watches Michael, attempting to break through the barriers in his mind to speak to him.  Chuck had gifted him Nick’s body, his soul safely in Heaven with his family, and so that’s what Sam sees as he looks over and smiles fondly.  They did it.

 

He leans his shoulder against the angel’s, nudging him lightly.  Lucifer turns his head the slightest amount, and Sam sighs.  “Just leave him alone.  Give him time to think about all that’s happened,” he whispers, reaching over to take one of Lucifer’s hands and lace their fingers together.  He turns his head fully this time, ethereal blue eyes sweeping over Sam’s face for a moment before he relents, relaxing into the wall.

 

The cage is a huge, spacious place, though it’s nothing like Sam ever expected it to be.  The walls are bars, thick, tall things that had terrified him at first, but the spaces between, where all of Hell can be seen, are not actually spaces, and Sam didn’t fall through them when they’d gone plummeting through Hell and into the cage and he’d gone careening through the air and against the bars; instead, he’d just smashed against the empty space and crumbled to the ground.  It was a moment he’d never forget, looking up from his corner, Adam opposite him, and then he’d been in more pain than he’d ever experienced.  Lucifer poured out of him, a blinding white light that didn’t burn like he’d imagined it would, and, as Adam stood, struggling against Michael, Nick had surfaced, and the white light was gone in a flash, contained within a vessel that would forever be Lucifer.  Michael had won, Lucifer’s wings had sprung out, ripping apart the silence of Hell, and all Sam could hear was the furious screaming and screeching of millions of demons and tortured souls.  As Michael stood, his own white wings unfurling, Lucifer had put up a hand, and Sam had watched in horror as Michael was slammed against one of the walls, wings pinned.  You will not harm my charge, Lucifer had said, and it had seemed to occur to Michael then where they were and how little his power mattered.  They were on Lucifer’s territory.

 

That had been last week.  Time passed differently in the cage, and, despite knowing it had only been a day on earth, it had been a sweltering, brutal week in Hell.  But today was their last today.  Today, Gabriel would come to retrieve them, out of harm’s way for when Chuck would descend to gather Michael.

 

“Are you excited?” Sam asks after a while of silence.

 

Lucifer takes a long time in responding, and Sam almost thinks he isn’t going to until he suddenly shifts, wings unfolding as he moves to sit in front of Sam.  “I’m nervous,” he admits, and Sam nods.

 

“That’s natural,” he assures.

 

“Will you do me a favor, Sam?”

 

“Yeah, of course, what is it?”

 

Lucifer’s eyes flutter shut for a moment, and Sam watches him curiously until he hears Michael give a sigh, “Figures.”  Sam’s eyebrows knit together, but then Lucifer is opening his eyes again.

 

“What did you do?” Sam questions.

 

“He can’t see or hear us.  Normally, that would be a trying task, especially with Michael, but this is my cage, after all.”  Sam shrugs, not feeding into Lucifer’s smug look.  When he arches an eyebrow, Lucifer speaks again, “Right.  Yes.  It’s just—well—I mean, you don’t have to, if you don’t want.  I would—just—well—I’d appreciate it.”  Sam is baffled by the sudden shyness that takes over the archangel; he’d never thought he’d see him in such a humbled light.  “I have not seen my home in a great while,” Lucifer says after a few moments, picking at his jeans, “But every angel still remembers my name, remembers my beauty.  And my wings—they—well—you’ve seen them.”

 

“Lucifer,” Sam says softly, “Are you asking me to groom your wings?”  He almost doesn’t catch the quick, short nod.  “Turn around,” Sam commands as he gets into a comfortable position on his knees.

 

Lucifer does as he’s told, though he catches Sam’s gaze over his shoulder.  “There are glands in my wings,” he nearly whispers, so shy Sam can’t help but smile, “They are usually protected, though we can choose to reveal them amongst those that we trust.”  Sam nods, hands moving forward, but his wings twitch away, and Lucifer demands his attention again.  “The oil, Sam, is used between mates as a form of claiming.”

 

Sam understands immediately, and so he leans forward, looping his arms around Lucifer’s neck and pressing a firm kiss to his cheek.  “I’m already yours,” he whispers, leaning their heads together, and Lucifer practically purrs in contentment.  “So,” Sam says as he leans back again and guides his hands over the arching muscles until Lucifer extends his beautiful, massive black wings, “I assume the oil is for after, once I’ve straightened everything out, to make them glossy and whatnot.”

 

“It also helps clean them,” Lucifer says with a slow nod.

 

They fall quiet then as Sam works through his wings, smoothing down crooked or twisted feathers, easing them back into place with slow, stroking fingers, coaxing and careful.  He rubs his thumb over little patches of scar tissue or baldness absentmindedly, and he knows, somewhere in his subconscious, that he’s healing little cracks in Lucifer’s grace, soothing away the hatred and blackness of an eternity in Hell.  He massages the muscles that extend from his back, the arching ones, strongest of them all, and he pays special attention to the scar from Raphael, digging his thumbs into the tense and sensitive spot and working it loose and easy.  Lucifer’s head drops forward at these ministrations, and Sam smiles when he emits a soft groan, the muscles in his neck jumping.

 

When he reaches the tips of the wings, he uses both hands to massage them, as well, and, at the first pressure, Lucifer’s whole body trembles.  Sam continues his work away from the tip and through the wing, hands dug deep, searching for the spots he can’t see.  He massages along Lucifer’s spine where the wings don’t touch before he moves into the other and down to the right tip.

 

After nearly an hour, he finishes with the back, and he stands to stretch.  Lucifer rolls his shoulders, wings flaring out, and Sam laughs when one brushes intimately against his cheek, a movement of gratitude.  He spends even more time on the front, sitting with his knees pressed against the dip of Lucifer’s crossed legs, and, when he finishes, he pecks him quickly on the mouth before leaning back.

 

“Where are the glands?” he asks as he scrubs a hand through his hair, pushing it out of his face.

 

“At the base of my spine, where my wings connect.”

 

“Shirt off, then.”  Sam shouldn’t be surprised when his own shirt suddenly disappears along with Lucifer’s, but he still rolls his eyes and smirks anyway.

 

Lucifer folds one wing in so Sam can navigate his way around to his back again, and he lets his hands trail over Lucifer’s shoulders and down his back, his skin cold against the agonizing heat of hellfire, until they curve out around the base of his wings, fingers darting about and seeking.  He finds the right gland first, buried in the downy feathers there, small and obscure, and he rubs his thumb over it, looking up when Lucifer’s body jerks at the touch.

 

“Are you okay?” he asks carefully, trying to soothe him by carding his fingers through his feathers.

 

“Yes,” Lucifer says after a moment, his voice gone dark and deep.

 

Sam frowns, unsure if he should proceed, but the angel must have known what he was asking for, and so he sighs and seeks out the gland again, applying a small amount of pressure, fingers massaging over it.  Lucifer groans, and Sam can see his fingers digging into his denim-clad thigh as the gland pulses in Sam’s hand and leaks a warm and soft liquid.

 

“Gabriel,” Lucifer says suddenly, “Gabriel told me that I could change the smell of my wings but never my oil.  He said it would always smell like the other angels, but he was very wrong.”

 

Intrigued, Sam pulls his hand away, and he doesn’t know what exactly possesses him to do it, but his tongue darts forward the same time he inhales.  It tastes like the salty breeze of the ocean and freshly cracked mussels, smells like sand and seawater, feels like sunshine.

 

Sam.”

 

Sam lifts his eyes to find Lucifer watching him with a wrecked expression, his eyes dark and hooded, his bottom lip wet from his tongue, and Sam smiles shyly, hiding his eyes.  He moves back to the gland, coaxing more oil out of it before he spreads his fingers along Lucifer’s wings.  It takes time, and the gland is swollen and oversensitive when he finishes.  Lucifer himself has managed to contain most of his reactions, but Sam is eager to finish the left wing and make him react, loud and strong.

 

The smell of the ocean is intoxicating, and Sam presses his face against Lucifer’s wing more than once, sighing.  As he’s finishing the left wing, he drops his mouth to Lucifer’s back, biting at the arching muscle where it connects, and Lucifer keens, his body locking up.

 

Lucifer,” Sam moans, one hand fisting tightly in his feathers and the other fumbling with the buttons on his jeans.  His wings shuffle and flare high and large, a movement of dominance and claiming, and Sam slips his hand down as he does, squeezes the swollen left gland.  His hand soaked, he ghosts it over his chest, relishing in the warmth it seeps into his bones.  Lucifer turns as he does, eyes wide as Sam’s hand disappears beneath his jeans, fisting over his hard cock, his body slick with Lucifer’s oil.

 

Sam’s breath leaves him in a huff as his jeans disappear and his back hits one of the heavy bars of the cage.  He stares down at his angel, wings curving up above him and shielding Sam, his blue eyes blown black with lust.  He finds his breath at the same time an oil-slick hand curls down his ass, finger ghosting over his entrance, and he loses it again, gasping and arching against the touch.  It’s been so long.

 

“Sam,” Lucifer moans, leaning forward to catch his mouth in a bruising kiss, his teeth tugging on his lip almost painfully.  He sucks on Sam’s tongue, pulling it out from the confines of his hot mouth, and Sam groans into the kiss, trying to angle his body down, trying to capture Lucifer’s so close fingers.

 

His angel rubs one of his fingers over Sam’s entrance, teasing and coaxing.  With a low whine, Sam grips Lucifer’s shoulder and pushes down again.  Lucifer smirks and curls a hand over his hip, thumb fitting in the print he burned there, and Sam cries out.  Lucifer presses his index finger forward, past tight rings of muscle, and he lets his grace overwhelm Sam where his hand rests, his handprint searing into Sam’s skin.

 

Sam babbles incoherently, pressing himself against his angel, his other hand lifting to fist in Lucifer’s right wing, tugging on the wings there and forcing a shattered moan from deep within the archangel.  “Sam,” Lucifer growls, pushing another finger in and scissoring, stretching his human.  He takes his time because, even though the tales show him as a masochist, he loves passionately, and he would never intentionally hurt those he loves.

 

But Sam is impatient, and so he makes quick work of slicking his throbbing cock with his own oil and lifting Sam into the air easily, Sam, who hooks his legs around Lucifer and digs his heels into his lower back, knees pressing against his ribs, who takes him eagerly and with a slow, low groan.

 

Oh,” he says, his breath hitching when they come together, Lucifer buried inside Sam and their foreheads resting together.  “Lucifer,” he prays, and a crack is healed.

 

The devil makes love to Sam Winchester, his vessel, against the wall of his cage for all of Hell to see, and he is happy, for once, inside this pit.

 

--

 

Lucifer remembers the first time he heard Gabriel’s horn.  It’s a moment that will stay with him forever, a moment of his youth, when he’d been so proud to call himself an archangel, one of God’s sons.  It had been one of the clearest days he could remember, the sun high and brilliant, the clouds around him whiter than they’d ever been; they didn’t often see birds in heaven, but, on beautiful days like today, they did.  And bursting forth from this beauty and glory came Gabriel, his horn preceding him.  Lucifer had been so little, his wings still growing, and Gabriel hadn’t been much older, just a few years younger than Michael, (though his wings were grown, and his attire was elegant white and gold, mirroring the glorious colors of his massive wings) [http://nasyu.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d3iga9t].  He’d made his way through the gates and amongst the heavens until he found his younger brothers and showed them his victory, the shimmering, golden horn.  They’d all hushed excitedly and begged for the stories, and Lucifer remembers looking back to see Michael smiling proudly.

 

He misses those moments more than anything.

 

And so, as Sam is curled against him, sleeping soundly, when he hears that telltale sound, he doesn’t feel bad for jerking upright, nearly tumbling Sam onto the floor from their makeshift bed.  He instinctively looks to Michael, whose own eyes are wide.

 

“Michael,” he says without thinking, and his brother nods.

 

“Lucifer,” he replies, meeting his brother’s gaze, “You’re going home.”

 

Sam is agape, staring between them, but Lucifer can’t muster the attention he should be giving him.  The horn sounds again, and Hell comes alive with terrified demons.  He can see him now, his brother, descending in a blinding burst of light, white and gold, as he’s always been, and it’s an incredible sight.  Hell quakes under his formidable power just as it did when Lucifer crash-landed after his fall and just as it did when the two brothers, oldest and youngest, slammed into the pit, ready to war.

 

Gabriel lands gracefully, as only Gabriel can, wind buffeting under his gargantuan wings, larger than Lucifer’s and only slightly dwarfed by Michael’s.  They are not tainted by hellfire and never can be, for they are pure with the will of God, white and golden.

 

“Brothers,” Gabriel says, lowering his horn, “I am glad to see that you are not fighting.”  He offers a smirk, and Lucifer returns it, rising to his feet and tugging on Sam’s hand so he’ll follow.  “Michael, I have not come for you.  By our Father’s will, I come only to return Lucifer and Sam Winchester to Earth, but our Father will descend to retrieve you.  His fury will be vast, but so will his mercy, as you well know.”  Michael nods, surprising Sam with his complacency.

 

Lucifer looks over where Michael stands, and Sam squeezes his hand.  “Are you ready?” he whispers, catching Lucifer’s attention.  The angel turns to look at him, and he smiles after a moment.

 

“As long as you’re with me.”

 

“I’ll always be with you,” Sam responds immediately.

 

Lucifer draws him close, kisses him on the mouth, all strength and warmth, and Sam can’t help the swelling in his chest.  When they part, Lucifer is all power, his skin practically thrumming with the white light of his grace.  “I will protect you on the journey up,” he promises, already sliding his hand from Sam’s and curving an arm around him.

 

“I trust you,” Sam promises in return, looping his own arms around Lucifer.

 

Gabriel guides them out, gives them the strength to break out of Hell, never to return again, and they’re finally home.