The thing is, Sam’s been here before - many times. In fact, he’s been here so many damn times he could draw the ceiling of his bedroom from memory - the uneven stripes of white paint, that one crack, as fine as a hair and almost invisible, running from the right hand corner all the way to the door.
Yes, Sam’s stared up at this ceiling many times before - in numb disbelief, in despair, in resignation. He’s chosen to just hide in his room when he was too tired to bear the pain on Dean’s face, and this is is where he collapses after every hunt; after every victory and every defeat.
But tonight, of course, things are different.
Sam can sort of feel it, and it annoys the hell out of him that his body reacts to Lucifer, and not to God.
It’s not fair.
When they were children, Dean had taught him the two prayers Mom used to recite with him every night: the Lord’s Prayer (Sam had discovered after years and years of restless mumbling that they’d actually got the words wrong) and a short couplet about guardian angels.
Which is ironic, considering.
Because Sam’s the one who never stopped praying, and yet Dean gets everything - the angel, and God zapping him around to talk about their bullshit feelings and -
Sam moves his hand over the laptop, turns the volume up.
He’s watching a very old episode of House of Cards, and when Kevin Spacey’s elegant drawl fills his ears and brain, he feels slightly less horrid.
It’s not Dean’s fault, after all.
It’s nobody’s fault.
(Nobody's fault, though? Really?)
God made you this way, says a stupid, stupid voice inside Sam’s brain, and yet it’s true, isn’t it? God made him into someone He doesn’t even like - someone who’s currently hiding in his room like a scolded child, because God is still angry at him for saving Lucifer and yet now he's talking to the guy and never mind Sam didn't want Lucifer to be saved; never mind that he can feel Lucifer’s presence all over himself, soaking his clothes and his mind like cigarette smoke.
Sam knows Dean can’t feel God, either, but that doesn’t make it okay.
After all these years - after -
And Dean isn’t back yet - he’s left a voicemail though, said to give him thirty, and that was - Sam checks his watch - twenty minutes ago.
Which means Amara hasn’t killed him. Sam had been worried about that from the start, but Dean hadn’t seemed to care; and arguing with Dean when he was like that - jaw clenched, safety off - was asking to be punched in the face.
So Sam had watched Dean drive off (not in the Impala, because, whatever he’d said, he hadn’t been expecting to actually walk away from that), had tried to forget what it was that he was actually doing - forming a close, last-ditch alliance with two beings who’d tried very hard to kill them both.
Suddenly, that thing against his skin becomes a bit lighter, like Lucifer’s turning it down a notch - maybe God just gave him a good smacking, or maybe they came to an agreement and Lucifer is less - intense than he was when he first arrived in the Bunker.
Which, well, is not that unlikely, because the state he’d been in when he’d first seen Chuck - Sam had been surprised that the whole building hadn’t collapsed around them, to be honest.
Whatever his mood, though, being near Lucifer now is item one on the list of things Sam really, really doesn’t want to do.
But if Dean really is making it back, someone had better be there to keep things from escalating even further.
With a frown, Sam stops Kevin Spacey mid-threat and gets his headphones off; and then he sits up, squares his shoulders, and tries to act like a normal person.
(Not someone who feels like he’s being torn apart, that is; not someone whose whole life basically amounts to nothing, because Sam’s been trusting God all these years, and it turns out God is - God doesn’t -)
When he walks into the map room carrying a box of donuts and a pot of freshly made coffee in his hands, things are - civil.
God - well, Chuck - already has a cup in front of him, though Sam is pretty sure he conjured that out of thin air, because last he checked, they don’t have any whipped cream. Or rainbow sprinkles. And is that a tin of chocolate spoons? What the hell?
He’s wondering if he should say something about it when Lucifer shifts in his chair to look at him, and well - Sam’s heart skips a beat, but he frowns and walks forward, setting the things he’s carrying down on the table as though nothing is wrong.
I’m not here to torture you. I mean I could, but -
“So, is everything,” he says, starting to sit down, then pushing the chair back when Chuck frowns, “Do we have a plan?” he finishes, lamely.
“We do,” Lucifer says, stretching back so he can look at Sam. “We all die.”
“Oh, come on.”
“Well, it's not my plan. Take it up with the big man, Sammy.”
Sam had pushed back against the nickname for fifteen years - had been furious at Dean for not dropping it, had tried to come up with insulting ways to call Dean in retaliation (there had even been a list, written in angry pencil on the back of a calculus assignment, and Sam will never not be ashamed of it) - before giving up. Before admitting, in fact, that Dean raised him, so he has the right to call him whatever the hell he chooses. Before realizing, in some colourless motel room, that he actually likes it, because sometimes being Sam sucks, and Sammy is about those few good memories he has of his childhood - he and Dean eating junk food until they’re sick, and quoting movies at each other, and that one time he’d finally managed to pin Dean down and tickle him to death - Sammy, stop, Dean had howled, tears in his eyes, and the rest of it hadn’t mattered at all - that they were both still covered in blood, that Dad had stayed behind to bury a body, that Sam hadn’t kissed a girl yet, or even had a proper birthday cake in his whole life. No, Sam is okay with Dean calling him Sammy, and is okay with Dean, period, but Lucifer -
“Don’t call me that,” he says, his voice not cracking on the words (though it’s a very near thing), and Lucifer smiles in that way that makes it perfectly clear he’s not Cas, not at all, and turns back to Chuck.
“So touchy,” he complains. “Sure you weren’t drunk when you made them?”
“I know I was drunk when I made you,” Chuck says, grabbing a chocolate spoon and biting a piece off.
“Ouch. All this hostility,” Lucifer starts, and then he stops, sits up a little straighter.
“What is it?” Sam asks, his hand going automatically for his gun before realizing that he left it in his room.
(And, well, what good would a gun even be, at this point?)
Chuck reaches for the box, grabs a pink-frosted donut.
“Your brother’s back,” he says, and Sam breathes out in relief.
“Wait till he sees what you’ve done with the car,” he says, trying to bring the conversation back to safer ground, because, fuck, God and Lucifer are definitely not happy campers right now, and Sam can’t even imagine -
And then Dean walks in, and the expression on his face as he sees Lucifer makes everything so much worse.
Because Sam’s known for a while that whatever is going on between Cas and his brother, it runs too deep to ever be broken, but still - he’s never seen Dean like this, and it fucking hurts, because whatever bullshit Dean’s still dragging after himself - that it’s his job to look after Sam, and definitely not the other way around, and that his own happiness doesn’t matter - well, fuck that - Sam fucking loves his brother, and he can’t bear to see him like this.
“Any time you wanna thank us,” Dean says, after a few seconds, and then he walks past Sam without even looking at him and steals one of Chuck’s chocolate spoons - and, God, why does Dean have to be such a suicidal dick all the time - it’s not like he particularly likes sweets, or anything.
“Dean,” Sam starts, but Dean ignores him.
“So, what’s next?” he asks instead, leaning back against the table.
“We gather our army,” Chuck says, as if this even makes sense.
“I will talk to the angels -”
For the first time, Dean glances up at Sam, and there’s no need to even talk - they both know that the angels already tried to nuke Amara, and, yes, that went well.
“- and Lucifer will reprise his role as commander of the demons.”
Lucifer rolls his eyes.
“An honor, I’m sure,” he says, and then he picks up one of the locator rings on the table and starts moving it idly between his fingers.
Dean makes a small movement, then seems to think better of it.
“So you’ll fight?” he asks, and Chuck shrugs.
“I told you. I’m out. But if you guys want to fight, I'm all for it - I always loved the behind-the-scenes stuff.”
Sam almost reaches out to touch Dean and steady him before he says something even worse, and then he catches Lucifer smirking up at his brother, and how the hell are they on the same side in this?
Except they aren’t, of course.
“So you’ll work with Crowley?” asks Dean, rounding on Lucifer.
“Depends on your definition of working with.”
And it’s obvious Dean really didn’t want to go there, but what’s implied in Lucifer’s careless tone (mostly, blood and fire and possibly some form of disembowelment) finally drags the words out of his mouth; and Sam feels it coming, moves a bit closer to him.
“And what about Cas?”
Lucifer just smiles.
“What about him?”
“What we mean is -”
“Sam, shut up. You know what, you dickbag.”
“Castiel is,” Lucifer pauses for a second, and his eyes go vacant before he blinks and he’s back, his smile getting wider. “He’s watching ALF.”
Dean is definitely about to do something VERY STUPID, all capitals. Sam doesn’t think he’s seen this expression on his face since -
And then Lucifer makes it worse.
“Hey, not my fault your boyfriend has crappy taste.”
“Shut your -”
“About that,” Chuck says, very mildly, “You know I’m a chill guy, Dean, but still, there are limits. Wherever you think you’re going with that, it’s not happening. Just turn it off, will you?”
“Is that what you do?” says Dean, and Sam sees him reaching for a gun which isn’t there. “Give up on people? Stop giving a damn about anyone, anything?”
“Can it, Sammy.”
Completely at a loss, Sam looks at Lucifer, tries to convey there is a fucking debt there, because Sam just risked his life, like, three hours ago, to set Lucifer free, and maybe stopping Dean from becoming dog meat could be a good first step to show some gratitude.
And today must be his lucky day, because Lucifer goes with it.
“Look,” he says, standing up, sort of placing himself between Dean and Chuck, “as entertaining as it is to watch this, now is not the time to dissect your daddy issues. Amara’s just blown up another city in Colorado, and she’s not gonna stop. If you want to be useful, get Crowley to come here.”
“Get him yourself, I’m not -”
“I’m not talking to that thing,” Lucifer says, and Dean actually, physically growls.
“Dean, do as he says.”
Chuck still hasn’t raised his voice, or anything, but Sam feels it, which means Dean must as well: a sort of electricity in the air, like that sense of imminent danger you get just before storms; that certainty you better find yourself some shelter, and right fucking now.
But Dean, of course, is Dean.
“So, you’re on his side now?”
“I’m God. I’m not on anyone’s side.”
For a second, Dean looks like he wants to knock down Lucifer and get Chuck’s head off with his bare hands, and that’s bad enough, but then - then he seems to realize how pointless that would be, and pointless it all is, in fact (Sam can still hear that half-broken admission, because it seared a burning scar right through his heart and lungs - “People prayed to you, and you did nothing.”), and that’s the moment Lucifer chooses to put his hand on Dean’s shoulder, and Dean -
Sam starts forward, to hug his brother, perhaps, or to stop him from attacking Lucifer, but before he can do anything Dean has turned away and stormed off.
“Don’t be like that,” calls Lucifer after him, because he’s Mr Last Word, and fuck him very much. “What he meant is, there are no sides. We’re all in this together, aren’t we, daddy?”
Okay, then. Time to get the hell out of here.
“I’ll just,” Sam says, vaguely, but he shouldn't have bothered - those two things in the room seem to have forgotten he was even there, and that’s plain perfect, because it means he can walk away and get out of their sight and -
Sam never planned this: his legs just give way.
And it’s not like he’s safe, or anything - he’s made it one step out of the room before collapsing against the wall, and he can still hear how Chuck is pushing at the tin of sweets, not to mention Lucifer’s ever-present weight against his skin, but at least - at least they’re not looking at him anymore, or ignoring him, which should be better but it’s really not.
“You know, even by your standards, that was unnecessary,” Lucifer says, and then there is a slight noise and Sam guesses he’s tilted his chair back.
“The only reason Dean’s not joined your sister yet is because of Castiel. And since, you know, Dean not joining Amara is what’s keeping the balance here, I would have thought the smart choice was encouraging these - desires of his.”
Keeping the balance?
“That’s what I’m doing.”
“Yes. Some people need something to follow. Dean, however - he needs something to push back against. Stubbornness and love and gunpowder, that’s what I made his soul out of.”
“And here I was, thinking you actually liked Michael.”
“Free will was my final gift to humanity, and I wouldn’t see it marred, not even for Michael’s sake. Dean always had a choice to make, and it always seemed slightly unfair to pit a human against one of my own, so there you go.”
“You made him stubborn because you wanted the fight to be fair. That's almost funny.”
“Yes. And I gave his brother the experience of love and grief so the fight against you would be fair.”
There is a dull noise as Lucifer brings his chair back to the ground. The thing against Sam’s skin grows hotter and hotter, and Sam closes his eyes, tries to breathe through it, tries to anchor himself to his last shred of hope, because this is not, this cannot be, how it all ends - with a petty fight in a warded room. No way.
Calm the fuck down, he thinks, and he was going for a prayer, and he was going for God, or Chuck, or whatever the fuck that thing is, but it’s hard to think of anything that’s not Lucifer now Lucifer’s Grace is burning through him like scalding water.
And it’s possible he blacks out for a second, because the feeling is just this side of pain, but there are so many things inside it - loss and resentment and betrayal - that Sam is going deaf and blind under the weight of it; and yet when he blinks his eyes open, everything is exactly the way it was, and Sam’s just a man, he’s just himself, and the tiles against his back are comfortingly cool.
Before he can catch his breath, though, Lucifer turns the corner, comes to a stop in front of him. Sam knows Dean finds it distressing, how much he looks like Cas, and, yes, it’s not easy, but at the same time - to Sam, there can be no doubt this is actually not Cas. Sam doesn’t even see it, any of it - the trench coat and the familiar profile and the baby blue eyes - Sam doesn’t see any of that. What he’s seen, from the start? Snow and the hidden danger of a quiet sea and an unwilling, scorching want.
But there is nothing much he can do except try to hold his ground against it and show he’s not afraid, which is why he accepts Lucifer’s hand, allows himself to be dragged to his feet.
“Thanks for that, Sammy,” Lucifer says, looking up at him; and then, feeling Sam wrenching his hand back, he closes his fingers more firmly around it, tightens his grip until it hurts. “Also, never get inside my head again.”
There is nothing he can say to that. No way he could ever do this again: win against Lucifer one more time.
“See, it’s already way too crowded in there,” Lucifer adds, letting Sam’s hand go and flashing him a bright smile, as though his twin want for Sam, this thing that’s always been between them (Lucifer’s need to have Sam, and also to destroy Sam) hadn’t been apparent on his face just two seconds before. “Anyway, dad is making pancakes - you want some?”
“Let me check on Dean,” Sam says, forcing the words out, “and I’ll be right back.”
Lucifer’s smile becomes, if possible, even wider.
“You do that. But don’t take too long, okay? You know what they say - people count the faults of those who keep them waiting.”
Sam nods, and then, trying to shake the feeling this is the last thing he’ll do in his life, he turns his back on Lucifer and walks away.