They had been fighting. She knew it was about her as Dean stormed off and she held Nermal closer, Sam drinking more. She needed to leave even if there was no destination for her. All that was clear was that she wasn't wanted here and she needed to be gone. It wasn't as though they hadn't lived on the streets and she knew enough to know to keep them warm at least.
As Sam approached she curled up more, wishing she could disappear in her chair. She was surprised when he sat next to her.
"It's hard that you don't remember," Sam told her finally, still drinking from the bottle. "It's hard to see you like this when – when –"
He didn't finish and she flinched a little as he put the bottle down. He was watching her. At one point in this fine mess she had been aware of who she was, some distant flittering memory of her disgust over all the filth in the world flared briefly inside her before dissolving. What she did know was that she didn't belong here. That fact alone was sharp and sure even if so little else was.
"It's strange. I could hurt you as you hurt me, make you miserable, wishing for death, but I can't. Even knowing what you are, I can't."
There wasn't anything to offer at that point and she resolved to vanish. The boy had cared for her, it was the least she could do so that he wasn't staring at a constant reminder of whatever she had done.
He was asleep as she quietly put her few things in a bag. Nermal was there, wanting to know where they were going as he was ready. This was his time, cats were nocturnal after all. She put a note for Sam near him so that he would know she was thankful. Then they were outside, the fresh air out here in the mountains, chilly but not unpleasant.
She hadn't planned on Dean.
He was sneaky. She should have planned he would be around, that he wouldn't leave Sam with her for as long as he had. The man seemed to sense when anything was off, making it part of a trap or a show and she disliked him for that. She hadn't heard him return. It must have been earlier if he had actually left and not just wandered off into the small group of trees near their motel for a while. His breath was whiskey-soaked as he grabbed her shoulder, spinning her, Nermal hissing a little.
"And what's the plan here?"
"I'm leaving. It's what you want." She paused, his hand still gripping her and he was strong, so strong that it surprised her. "Let me go."
She tried to struggle but his fingers gripped tighter as she winced, knowing bruises were forming.
"See, Cas says you're all angel in there and one, I'm not real wild about you here but even less wild about an amnesic Satan roaming around." He looked at her, moved closer and she wondered if he would try to kill her. "You know what you did to Sam? Not talking about your little demon experiments, cause while bad, people normally chose to go down under, they let themselves get there, you just made that entire shit possible. But Sam in there? Sam's your fault. That kid lost his mind because of what you did to him and you don't remember?"
She shook her head. She didn't. It was the truth. The way he looked at her at times was haunted, as though expecting her to do something cruel. Whatever she had been, she longed to tell him she wouldn't hurt him now. Not now but she had been something else, something vile and it tugged at her that she didn't want to remember what she was. The words would have no meaning as the men around her waited down some invisible ticking clock before she sunk her hands in again.
"Running doesn't help," Dean said softly, letting her go.
"That's what he says."
She hadn't meant to say it. Dean studying her, head tilted slightly, surprise in his eyes.
"The man in the tree."
"Kay," Dean answered, drawing the word out slowly. "When do you talk to the man in the tree?"
"I dream of him," she answered, seeing Dean's eyebrow shoot up. "He's young, with blonde hair, and yells at me because I'm here and he's trapped."
Something in Dean seemed to snap at that as he stepped closer, impossibility close, and she could smell just how much whiskey was in him.
"Michael," he growled. "If you see him again ask about Adam for me. Tell him, if that son-of-a-bitch hasn't eaten him, that Death wouldn't deal, I can't get him out."
Suddenly, Dean was drawing back, taking her by the arm and leading her in, not gently but without much force. Her mind swam as she tried to put together pieces of something lost long ago as he took her to the bed, apparently expecting her to lie down. She did, kicking off her shoes and Nermal just as happy to nap beside her as he was to go on their adventure.
"Case in a few hours. Rest up. And no more sneaking off."
Her sleep was dreamless and there was no man to answer her questions, to know if what Dean had told her was true.
What she had forgotten was that note she had left for Sam. Dean had led her back and she hadn't thought of it until she had gotten up and seen the way Sam looked at her. Things she admitted to when she thought she would be gone, far away somewhere and they wouldn't be able to find her. She remembered some things, some ways so that the angel that came to them wouldn't find her either.
But she hadn't picked it up and Sam had read it and she didn't know what to call the look in his eyes when he first saw her that morning.
Now, they were all in the car, Dean once again complaining about the cat that was happily sleeping with Sam, legs stretched out and paws curled in the sun. She knew the complaints were half-hearted as Nermal never sharpened his claws on anything that belonged to Dean after he had given the cat a long lecture.
People were being eaten somewhere and the brothers always wanted her to come with them. She knew they were nervous that she would wander off the edge of the world, if that was possible, and cause some kind of havoc. They had spoken in low tones, Sam arguing about if either heaven or hell found her like this it would be disastrous and Dean had agreed. A walking weapon with a blank slate, they had called her.
They worried that she would end the world.
She tried to concentrate on her book but it had been hours since she had gotten through one chapter and she didn't remember anything that had happened in any of the proceeding pages anyways. They had entered a town and she sensed they were getting close to where they were going, which was confirmed when Dean pulled into a hotel.
"Going to figure out sleeping stuff. No one tell anyone we have a cat."
Dean seemed amused and sickened by the last sentence as he got out, stretching in the late afternoon sun and she wanted to get out and do the same. She knew better, knew she was to sit, and stay until they told her to go, so she waited.
Sam turned a bit in his seat, disturbing Nermal who made a low grumbling noise at his nap disruption. But he didn't say anything and she felt exposed. There were many things she wanted to say, but he wouldn't believe her. Whatever she had done had been beyond forgiveness, she knew that even if she couldn't remember she could feel it between them.
The look in his eyes made her feel like she was drowning until Dean returned.
She knew she had fallen asleep on the cot. Sam had been willing to take it but seeing how big he was and how small it was, she felt she was a better fit. She remembered lying down on it while they went out to put down a ghost.
So, she was dreaming again as the man in the tree looked at her, bemused.
"Michael?" she tried, his smile almost sinister.
"Which one of you figured that little mystery out, sister?"
Michael was on the ground, walking towards her and she wanted to take several steps back because it always felt like he was seconds away from tearing her apart.
"He wanted to know if you ate Adam."
Michael just stopped and laughed, big and loud. "Of course he would think I ate souls. You can tell him that no, Adam is still whole."
"He wanted him to know that Death wouldn't deal."
"We know, sister," Michael said, his voice strangely soft. "I will tell Adam he is not as forgotten as he believes himself to be. I did not treat him as you did Sam."
She swallowed as Michael was closer without her seeing him walk, the way he looked was hungry, some sort of rage seeping out of him.
"Do you want to know what you did to your Sam?"
His hand was in her hair, tilting her head back. "Listen, Morning Star. You run and you hide and finally, finally, you loved something that you almost destroyed. Nothing else was good enough, not me. You never lost yourself over hurting me."
"I'm sorry," she whispered, not knowing why but feeling it deep in her. Some torn part of her that remembered something without a name, that she had loved him once, still loved him.
"You tore into his soul," Michael told her, hand tightening in her hair and it was painful. "You made him beg for eternal death. You told him that you loved him too much to let him go, that he had to learn. Remember!"
She was awake, and she hoped she hadn't been screaming in her sleep. Nermal was trembling in the corner and she knew she had to have been making some sound.
They weren't back yet and she curled up, finding herself weeping over sins not remembered.
"You hate everything, Dean."
"Not true. There are a lot of things I like, starting with whiskey and beautiful women. Neither of which throw me around some haunted boneyard in the middle of the damn night."
Sam rolled his eyes as he closed the door. Both were very dirty, mud clinging to their pants and she saw some blood seeping into Sam's shirt. It took a lot to not go to him.
Dean was staring at her now.
"Adam is alright," she told him, not liking the way he stared at her. "He said he'd pass along that you were worried about him."
Dean scoffed. "Trusting the word of two psychopaths." He ran a hand down his face and stared up at the ceiling. "Better than what I had five minutes ago, I guess. Alright, Sam, shirt off."
Sam made a face but he managed to get his shirt off, obviously hurt by the cut in his shoulder. Dean looked it over.
"Lucky. No stitches. Want to get it cleaned up."
"I can do it." She didn't know why she offered as they both stared at her like she was a live tiger about to feast on their souls.
Perhaps that's what she was.
"It's fine," Sam said, voice gruff and Dean gave a curt nod.
"I'll wash the crud off me then while she cleans."
Dean was in the bathroom as Sam looked through his bag, pulling out a bottle and some clean pads.
"Just put a little on it and wipe it off. Get off the germs. We'll bandage it after I get rinsed off."
He sat on the bed and she got behind him, seeing him wince as she pressed but it had to be done. He'd die to bacteria that he couldn't see and that wouldn't be good. No Sam meant nothing was left. She knew that.
"I know you love me," Sam said, his voice quiet as she paused in her cleaning, hating that she couldn't fix this. "I felt it; I also know what you do when you don't get your way."
She wanted to tell him she was sorry but it was hollow if she couldn't remember what she had done to this man. Michael, and it had to be the name for him, knew. He told her and she couldn't imagine doing it to him, but she had.
Dean was singing in the shower and Sam was flinching under her hands and she desperately wanted to stop hurting him. She wanted to stop his pain when she felt it flow through her fingers, Sam letting out a small sound as he tilted his head back, something like pleasure in him as the wound vanished.
He was looking at her as she pulled her hand back, confused.
"It's okay," he told her, taking her hand. "I would have thought that I would like you like this, suffering and confused but I don't. Part of me wanted you to hurt, wanted to do what you did, but not like this. You don't understand and whatever this is, it's not right."
They sat in silence as they listened to Dean make sounds loud enough that someone would think there was a throng in the bathroom before stepping out, a cloud of steam following him. Sam had let go of her hand before he appeared and she knew why.
There were raised eyebrows as Dean took in the missing wound and she stared at her hands.
"Clean, heal, same difference," he muttered, suspicious of her all over again.
"I wanted him not to hurt," she said because it was the truth and that was all she had to offer.
She knew she was being stared at as Sam got up to go take his own shower, Dean eyeing her like she was bound to explode at any minute.
"Is that Greek?"
Sam was reading over her shoulder eating a bowl of cereal from somewhere as she nodded. All of the stories were the same. She looked at the man with wings crushing a serpent under his heels, sword in hand. It was supposed to be her dying over the world.
This time, knowing all the languages didn't help. There was nothing flattering about her and she felt the Michael in her dreams was right, she was a monster.
"Think she's looking up Michael," Sam was telling his brother who just laughed.
"Well, he's a psycho that steals family members to wear around town while he plays Daddy's little boy." Dean looked at her. "That's pretty much all you need to know. Well, and that somehow you're here and fried and he's still in hell, so there's that."
"He's in hell?"
Dean whistled a low, long sound. "So were you."
Small flashes filled her mind but it was hard to grasp and she wasn't sure she wanted too. They were full of rage and grief. Loneliness, extreme loneliness, forgotten in that hole and there had been Sam who screamed because she was mad. Someone had come for him when no one came for her.
She hadn't deserved anyone to come for her.
Sam was nervous, crouched next to her and his eyes were worried and fearful. They were right, she didn't want to remember as she looked at him.
He frowned and she realized she was crying. Dean wordlessly got a tissue box from the bathroom and plunked it next to her on the table, muttering something about how screwed up the universe was.
Dean was out and it was raining. They were in a new room, Nermal at peace sleeping on what would be Sam's bed as Dean always said he didn't want cat hair in his nose.
"As though my life wasn't bad enough with a confused Satan, I get her pet cat, too," he had complained before stomping off.
She worried about him because he was still drinking a lot. Sam saw it. There wasn't a way to make him right and she knew Dean worried that she would kill them all. Sam worried his brother was about to die from alcohol poisoning.
They sat watching TV on Sam's bed with Nermal passed out with his paw in the air. He didn't seem to care where they were as long as he had a nice place to sleep.
She wished she had that luxury as Sam turned to her. There was something lost in those eyes at this moment she wanted to fix as he drew her close, kissing her. She wasn't sure what to do, she was clumsy but she wanted him to keep kissing her as he drew back.
They were both confused as she moved closer to him, resting her head against him and he held her.
"I don't want you to remember. Not because when you'll do you'll end the world. I mean, yeah, there's that. I just –"
He didn't finish the thought and he didn't need to. She liked his warm arm around her as she always felt chilled, listening to his heartbeat, his breaths. He was alive and it wasn't thanks to her.
Closing her eyes, she relaxed against him.
"Any progress on the memory front?"
Michael was staring down at her from his withered tree in the middle of this wasteland and she wanted to ask why it was always like this but was afraid of the answer. She shuffled her feet and he sighed, long and drawn out.
"I take that as a no."
"If I do, he won't want me."
Michael was beside her, studying her and she wanted to back away as he was always intense, his own sun here.
"He wants what you were." Something softened in those features as Michael touched her face. "Not everything is your fault, Morning Star. Being here, seeing this, I know now that it was cruel to do this to you, leave you here to rot. I never forgot about you. I just wanted to be done. To be home again with whatever I had left."
"Mikha'el," she breathed out fragments of who he was, what he was, danced in her mind. The sheer power of him as he drew her close.
"Somedays, I think our purpose was to suffer. That we couldn't adore Him enough, so all of this is some long punishment until all of it collapses."
Those words haunted her in a way she couldn't name. She knew her brother never would have spoken like that as he held her, something collapsed in him. He should be glorious and adored. He should always be that.
"I fed my anger with you," Michael whispered to her. "I fed it till I could destroy you; I wanted you to suffer not realizing we all were suffering because of Him."
"Don't speak that." Her voice was sharp, she was afraid of his words as he laughed.
"Where is He to reprimand me? Where was He when He abandoned me to keep the universe balanced? Or when I am trapped here, with this tiny soul who offers me comfort when nothing else did?" Michael took a breath, holding her far too close. "You hate yourself. You see Sam and you dread remembering the way you tore him apart because you thought nothing loved you. I always loved you. I was never enough, but I never stopped."
She was quiet, trembling, fearing that her brother was going mad.
They were driving somewhere again. She had ceased keeping track. It did not matter where they went, though she was glad when she could offer her knowledge to them to kill whatever it was that needed to be killed. It was raining, as it always seemed to be doing during this time of year, Nermal pooled in her lap, lazily playing with the hem of her shirt when she felt it.
"We have to go east."
"What?" Dean asked, looking back.
"East. There's something just east of here."
She felt it more fully, sitting up. A pull, something was wrong, deep and unsettlingly, and she pointed at an exit sign coming up, a road promising the right direction.
Dean was frowning as he took the exit but he pulled over, looking back at her.
"What is it?"
"There's something – I don't know." She frowned, trying to find the right words. "Something that's trying to be hidden."
"Huh." The brothers exchanged glances before Dean sighed. "Hey, Cas, if you ain't busy, maybe got something important that needs checking out."
She jumped when he appeared in the backseat, still looking the same as he did. She wondered if he ever fixed his clothes or just left them however he found them as he stared at her, uneasy. There was probably something she did to him, too. It seemed to be a trait of hers.
"Lulu there says she's feeling something up the road here."
There was a small wrinkle in the angel's face as he concentrated. "I do not sense anything, but she is far stronger than me. Let me investigate."
He was gone, a small flutter. As they waited she was surprisingly grateful that he at least believed her. Whatever it was made her hair stand on end. Nermal mewed quietly, picking up on her unease.
Another flutter and the angel was back, looking more worried.
"There is a disturbance. It is concerning because I believe it is a place heavily warded against angels."
"Awesome. So like a giant trap?" Dean was staring at her hard now, as though she was in any shape to be plotting their demise.
"No." Castiel paused, looking at her. "It's to keep angels out but it feels like it keeps something bigger in."
"There's a town like two miles up," Sam was saying as Dean groaned.
"You want to stay close to the big giant trap?"
"Not really, no." Sam glanced back at them, his shoulders slumping. "It's bad news, but we need to know what it is. Don't want some other world-ending crap lurking and blowing up when we could have stopped it."
"Sister, if you will travel with me, perhaps we can sense better."
Lucifer hesitated, knowing instinctively that he couldn't kill her but he could make her suffer. He was offering his hand and she knew he was honest, had known it from when she had seen him when there had been fire, staring back at her. Those memories were drowned in fog but it was enough to know he would not harm her because they expected her back. At least, Sam wanted her back until the memories stopped being so lost.
She passed Nermal up to Sam and took the hand.
"Pray to us when you have a location to stay at," Castiel intoned, and then they were moving.
It was native to her as the angel flew, she knew what they were passing, could feel something ancient in her stirring at the movement before they landed. It was in a few trees and she felt a shroud drape over them as Castiel left his hand on his shoulder.
That feeling was sickening and she knew he was burdened just being near it.
"Do you feel it?"
"Yes," she answered.
"Can you see more than me?"
She focused, gathering herself, what little of it there was, and tried to see further than just more trees. Her vision snapped into focus and a building was there, wards scrawled all over the outside in ancient languages before she smelled them.
"I am not surprised."
There was something there. The writing on the walls she could make out told her that she was right and there was knowledge that she could break all the sigils before she gasped, pulling back, staggering a little.
"What is it?"
"It isn't just to keep angels out. It's to keep an angel in. A big angel." She faltered for words, trying to find what she wanted before she remembered Michael. "An archangel."
Castiel's eyes grew big as he stepped towards her. "You are the only living archangel out that we know of."
"It is what it is. It is writing for an archangel."
She was positive about it. There was no doubt in her mind that's what those signs meant.
"I know it is painful, but see if you can find out more while we wait."
Nodding, she tried to find her focus again to count the demons, the whole wretched lot of them.
"This is insane," Dean was muttering, pacing. "We don't even know what the hell we're rescuing."
Sam looked just as concerned as they waited for Castiel to come back. No one had been happy with her verdict, even when she told them that there were few demons in the area. Most likely due to the power of the wards, but it still sat off in her. They had told her Raphael had died in front of them, snapped into less than nothing. Some deep-seated part of her told her she had killed another but she chose not to remember those moments.
Castiel returned after what felt like hours, smelling of something off-putting as the brothers both wrinkled their noses.
"Need a shower, Cas. You reek of brimstone."
Cas just glared at Dean, before shaking himself out. "I will keep hygiene in mind the next time I secretly breach hell."
Dean just rolled his eyes.
"I cannot speak to him but Michael is in the Cage. There is no mistaking him."
"So, who the hell is that building for? I mean, it's for something."
Dean stopped as Sam suddenly became alarmed.
"You don't think they have it for her?"
Something about Sam having real fear for her well-being would be satisfying if the meaning of his words weren't so terrifying.
"Sister, I should take you back to their safe house. We will have to see what is inside that place, but as of now, we cannot bring you there."
"He's right," Sam told her, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Can't let them go dragging you off like you are. I mean, you could probably incinerate the whole lot but –"
"Yeah, and half the world with the shape she's in," Dean cut in. "Take her, Cas. Then we'll figure out what's going on."
She stood, worried as Castiel took her back to that cabin that stood with all the warding. Castiel was looking at her and she realized it was the first time they had been alone.
"You didn't want me to tell them and I realized you simply did not know," the angel intoned, his eyes hard. "I cannot let anything take you or inform heaven because you are here for a reason and you are dangerous in this state. But make no mistake, Lucifer, I know what you did to that boy. If you raise a hand to harm them we will find a way to stop you. We have before."
Then he was gone and she hugged Nermal to her.
It had been four days. Sam called her. She hadn't known at first that the ringing was for her but she found the phone buried in a drawer. He sounded relieved when she answered.
"If I said it might be Gabriel –" he stopped and everything in her grew somehow colder.
Gabriel dead by her hand, lying on the floor, wings burned as a testament to her crime and she tried to not remember. He had drawn a blade on her, meant to kill her, but it was empty.
She sat with the cat, waiting, remembering to eat, and tried to sleep. But sleep haunted her too as Michael met her.
"What is it, sister, that has you upset now?"
"There is a warded building against archangels that I found."
He frowned, watching her from his branch. "Few would know how to keep us out."
"No, to keep one in." She watched him, feeling the memories closer now and she couldn't make them stop anymore. "They believe it is Gabriel."
"He is dead," Michael said flatly. "I believe even you know that."
"He posed as a trickster. Perhaps –"
"Don't." It was a growl even though Michael hadn't moved from his branch. "You killed him."
"He was there to kill me."
"So, you do remember something. Do you remember what it was like to put a blade in him?"
"I wept," she whispered. "I didn't want that for him but he was there and wouldn't stop."
Michael stopped looking at her, his gaze out across the vast nothingness. "What of Raphael?"
"He is dead. They watched her die."
"Then we are out of archangels."
She swallowed but kept the hope close that one of them was alive and it wasn't a trap to house her.
Lying on her bed she heard them arrive, voices excited but soft and she didn't get up. She wasn't sure she wanted an answer as Sam came in, looking at her as he sat on the edge of the bed.
"We were right, it is Gabriel," he said, as she tried not to jump up, the boy still smelling like he had bathed in sulfur. "It was hard getting in there. Kevin, that prophet, he helped, he had a demon bomb recipe since Cas couldn't go. Whatever had him, he won't say, and he's not happy that you're here."
"I'll stay in here," she offered. "He doesn't have to see me."
Sam stared at her for a moment. "Luci –"
She shook her head and looked away from him.
He looked terrible leaning against the doorway, staring at her, eyes almost hollowed out, his grace barely a pulse as she took him in.
"Going to stab me in the next few?"
Gabriel nodded, shuffling in and half-collapsed on the side of her bed. She hadn't left the room, knowing now she did not need to heed this body. She could lay here for centuries and never die.
It was terrible gaining herself back, she didn't want it.
"Cassie told me you're whole but fried. Any idea of how you got here?"
"And Michael's not roaming free?"
Gabriel laughed, something dark in it she didn't like and she wondered if he would just up and stab her on this bed. Sam would at least be sad for a few minutes. There was that and she wanted to say that if he was planning on putting his blade in her to let her say goodbye. Then he could, she'd let him. She thought she had done it to him.
Instead, Gabriel laid down next to her and she pulled him close. It had been so long since they were actually together. She remembered his pleading, begging her to stop, for Michael to stop, the way he had been as it all collapsed.
Michael's words that they were made to suffer haunted her.
She wanted to ask who took him but knew he wouldn't tell her. Her hearing had improved and she heard their pleading for him to tell but he wouldn't. It was fear. A demon made him fear and something black in her for a moment bloomed up, wanting to stomp out hell for touching one of them.
Gabriel was warm even with his grace so fragmented and she pulled him close, wanting to promise him that nothing was coming but knew it was false.
It was only time that stood between them and whatever reckoning was fast approaching.
It was tense. The brothers had added wards, tried to find ways to defend themselves against something Gabriel wasn't naming. He wasn't getting better and she knew he was choosing to not regenerate. There was a fear in him that the thing that took him was coming and she flexed her fingers. How a demon had survived the grace of an archangel she didn't know but it would pay.
Sam avoided her more but it was him that made her keep her temper. She was more of herself and she knew the boy hated it but it was the drive to not have him hate her that kept her check. And Sam didn't, as much as he wanted to, he couldn't fully.
If she had a heart, it would be broken.
She smelled it before it kicked down the door, the wards glowing before they failed. Without thinking, she slid herself from view as the demon came in and she smiled before seeing Gabriel's abject fear.
"Ah, so this is where my little pet has gone off to," Asmodeus intoned, something nasty in his grin.
Gabriel was looking for her, and it was his horror and fear that drove her before thinking, her hand around the demon's neck, lifting him off the ground.
"Master," it got out, its black core boiling as the yellow eyes showed.
It was in her, what she was as she opened her wings, showing her eyes. "Filth. The lot of you. I am no sooner your master than you are worthy."
She expanded, feeling him burn under the weight of her, careful to shield the humans from her wrath. He was screaming, that thing that had once been a soul was howling, and then he was gone, ash at her feet.
All eyes were on her. Sam's face was twisted up in something close to sorrow and she knew that the Luci he wanted was gone. She couldn't exist as she took a step back, looking at Gabriel.
"You are safe to heal now, brother," she said, taking flight away from them and their judgments.
She knew what Sam wanted as she watched a blizzard overtake a small town high in the mountains. She let herself be affected, to feel the snow caught in her hair, the wind pushing at high speed as the rocks and trees caused it to howl.
The fact that she was unwanted ate at her. That the boy loved her in some way she had no doubt of, but his fear and anger were there all the same. The look he had on his face after she smote that demon out of existence told her that she was unwelcomed at that point, that he was terrified she would come and start digging at his soul all over again.
A part of her still wanted to, still saw him as flawed and a bit worthless.
What Sam wanted was a world not about to be evaporated even if she would never understand his liking of all this suffering and violence. It was a world that didn't include her and she was enraged at that idea until sorrow ate her up.
The boy had cared for her, even after learning her name. Had loved her and embraced her and she was surprised at the moisture on her face, wanting to blame the wind.
All of this was not for her, there was no place for her to go. She had no desire to rule hell and heaven had long ago ceased to be for her. Nothing did as she was now, fully empowered and she thought of Michael's words.
He wants what you were.
Michael was suffering and it was her that had done it, dragged him down and a cold sense of shame bloomed in her. Her brother still loved her.
Heaven was in shambles, the world constantly on the brink of destruction and it was not her place to guide it home. No one would like her vision and for once, it bothered her that she would only bring pain.
He was dreaming and it was easy for her now to catch the thread of it and climb in. All his thoughts were jumbled until she smoothed them out, made an image of the cabin she knew that still has a strange sense of safety to her.
All Sam did was stare at her in fear.
"You're dreaming," she offered, seeing him relax slightly.
"Lucifer, I –" he stopped, looking lost and she disliked that look on him.
He was apprehensive as she moved closer, feeling a strange want from him. The memories of what she had done to him when they were trapped were loud in her essence, making him scream, madness overtaking her because she was in that horrific place and it wasn't her fault.
It was his, all Sam, who cast them down, made her powerless because someone had come, someone had loved him enough to foolishly die in front of them.
"I know what you are," he whispered. "I've seen your face, felt all of you, and I hate myself."
"Because I still want to love you."
She looked at him, his face pained before he turned his head away. There was a part in her that wasn't ravaged and desperate that broke at his words.
"I know this is temporary," he continued, staring at the floor. "That you'll snap and do what you want and we'll have to find a way to put you down."
It was something she couldn't deny. What kept her from waving her hand and begin purging this planet was right in front of her because he would hate her forever and it bothered her in ways she didn't understand.
She had been content to tear apart his soul at one time, after all. She had believed there was nothing he could offer her and it was too late to go back and undo what she had done. Dean had been right, Sam was her fault, would always be her fault, and still did to him just by existing.
Nothing could be offered to make him whole again.
They stood in silence and she willed herself not to think what he looked like when asleep, that right now he could look distressed instead of calm, his hair wild, that peaceful look humans got when they drifted off.
It was something she missed after she regained herself, a state she didn't know how she entered and couldn't do again. Lose herself and talk to Michael.
He was close now and she let him come, let him touch her before he buried his face against her and wept, whispering about what she had done to him. She held him, letting him be.
"I know you love me," he whispered into her hair, hands clutched in her shirt. "It's what terrifies me the most."
She stayed with him till he awoke naturally, wanting to feel him as it would be the last time she did.
It was harder than she had thought to find him. In retrospect, perhaps if she had tried the seediest restaurant on earth, it probably would have been faster. He wouldn't outright kill her, but she still landed a wise way away.
"Interesting," Death said, not looking up. "What do you want?"
"To barter," she answered, finally getting him to tear himself away from what he claimed was food.
"And what do you have to barter with me?"
"I want Michael and that little soul out of the Cage."
Death stood now, walking towards her and she disliked how this thing always made her feel. The end of everything standing before her.
"And you will take their place?"
"You have no soul. It is not an even trade."
"I cannot help what I was not given."
Death was closer, she could smell his breath, the endless eternity it promised as he leaned towards her.
"That vessel of yours. He would go if it locked you away."
"No?" The thing laughed before grabbing her hair and she forced herself not to fight because it would do no good. It may not kill her, but she did not want to vex him when she did not hold as much sway as she once had. "You're willing to sell yourself back there but you won't drag someone else with you?"
"Ask him," Death intoned, his breath against her ear and she snarled at him. "If he says no, you still have a deal."
She forced herself to agree, hating what her options were but he released her.
"You are lucky, angel, that someone else speaks for you."
Before she could ask about that, he was gone.
Dean was having nightmares again. Castiel watched over him but he was not powerful enough to stop what tormented him. Too much damage had already been waged against his soul. It was hard to watch. He had come for Sam, and Sam needed someone intact to watch over him that wasn't slowly drinking himself into an early grave.
Sighing, she stepped forward and placed her hands against his forehead. Castiel was close, even if he couldn't see her he knew something was happening before he relaxed, watching Dean ease into a calm sleep as she built a soft wall, something to dim the memories but wouldn't leave him in a worse state if it broke.
She already had an idea of what happened to Sam and they needed no repeats of that.
"Are you stalking Sam Winchester, sister?"
Rolling her eyes she made herself visible to her brother who was on the other side of the bed, watching.
"Not in the way you think."
Castiel looked unimpressed, which in itself was impressive given as he had few emotions that he showed.
"I need to ask him a question. All he needs to do is say no and I'll be out of here."
"Do you mean to possess him again?"
Castiel was still staring at her and there had always been something unnerving about that little angel. Even falling he had been intense. It was something she had appreciated years ago, his faith, and his loyalty, even if it was so commanding. She wondered if Dean would ever realize how much of it was focused on him, for better or worse.
"Then why don't you ask?"
Sam was asleep, murmuring a bit in his sleep but seemed at peace, his hair sticking out and she smiled a little at the sight of him like this. It gladdened her that the cat was with him, nestled up against his chest. He didn't need more nightmares.
Without answering she left them, preferring to not be interrogated by Dean's angel.
"Against my better judgment, I'm actually worried about you."
Gabriel was a ways away, watching her as she watched the lights in the sky. She weighed her options, felt he would be delighted over her plans, and rolled her head towards him.
"I offered to trade places with Michael."
"Are – are you insane? You are. You'd have to be."
She laughed, turning her attention back to the sky. "I don't dream anymore, so I can't speak to him. He would like to know you are alive."
"So he can stab me. Make it a family affair."
"Gabriel, have a little more faith in him."
"I'm trying to figure out if I'm alive or in some wonky afterlife for Pagan Angels Dad saw fit to build." The archangel drifted closer to her, watching, that innate curiosity that always burned in him driving him forward against better judgment. "So, what's the catch here?"
"Michael's attached to the soul he's with. As I have no soul with me –"
"You are not dragging that boy –"
"All I have to do is ask. Either way, he'll take the trade."
Gabriel actually shuffled a little next to her. "So ask. Let him say hell no."
"You want me to leave?"
"I don't want any of you down there. Never did, but heaven's a mess and Michael's the one who herds them. Don't want to see what little disaster they cause next after the civil war and people eaters getting out. And don't you say it – I'm a traitor to them."
"They always were simple-minded."
To her surprise Gabriel stood beside her, pressing his face into her shoulder. He was much more whole, almost complete and she draped her wings over him. She could whisper that she was sorry but she doubted that would cover attempting to kill him. All of her wanted to ask why he would come to her but perhaps it was simply she was all he had left.
"He talks to that little soul with him," she offered, still feeling Gabriel's fear.
"Too bad he didn't think of that before going off to kill you."
She laughed slightly at that. "He's arrogant. Do you think he would have listened to anyone?"
You're a monster and I'm going to kill you.
Those words drove into her and she knew she was to most.
"Morning Star." Gabriel had moved in front of her, his hand on her face. "Why aren't you destroying the world?"
Words wouldn't come to her and his stare was intense, seeing all the way through her and she wanted to be back to how she was before she had begun to awake. Sam at least tolerated her then, felt safe near her.
"When I saw you in that place it was hard to look at you." He paused, seeming to search for words. "Ugly is pretty harsh, but that's the best I got."
"Sorry we can't all be balls of radiant, perfect light," she snapped.
Gabriel shook his head. "You're gorgeous now. I haven't seen you like this since before –"
His voice trailed off but she knew what he meant, what they never spoke of least someone overhear, the choir was volatile and stupid currently, the need not risk the little ones knowing more than they should.
"He did that to me," she answered, her anger swelling. "Made me carry that and He didn't care what it did."
"I know, Morning Star. And then you gave it to the fleshies. Everyone had to suffer because you were."
The anger in her was growing, expanding at a rapid pace and she resisted the urge to shove her brother away who still watched her with keen eyes. It was true, she accepted that, wanting to make the little mud monkeys that Dad loved so much whimper and flee, twist and turn them until they were reflections of her.
"I love you but you terrify me."
His words were so soft and he was drawing away, ready to take flight because he feared a sword in him and if she was honest, she feared him just stabbing her when he was so close.
"We both know what you are in the end."
Gabriel was gone and she stared out across the expanse of ice she was standing in, cold and alone.
Each day that passed here made that constant repulsion grow inside of her and soon there would be nothing to hold it back. If she wanted to do what she intended it had to be soon and a shudder ran through her at the thought of going back.
A part of her whispered it was where she belonged at she hated that it was right.
It was not hard for her to find Sam now and she flew, seeing him pulling things out of a bag in a rundown room. The man jumped when she landed, backing up a few paces. She would be foolish to not know he was considering every escape route possible in these few seconds.
"I need to ask you a question and all you have to do is say no."
"What kind of question?" His eyes were narrowed and hard, fear that she needed a vessel and she wished she had done his possession properly instead of reveling in his fear and pain.
"I am trading myself for Michael and your brother," she said as nonchalantly as she could, his face sliding into shock. "I am to ask you to come with me. Any answer you give is acceptable in this deal."
Her sanity was cracking, it felt like she only had a few minutes left before she became the malicious thing that dug and scraped and wounded these souls into dark things because she hated Father that much for what He had done to her.
Sam was in front of her now, staring.
His voice cracked and she wanted something she could never have.
"I offered you the world, did I not?" It was the only answer she had for this, that soul still sobbing because of her hands.
Death was there then, Sam recoiling and she wrapped an arm around his waist, trying to comfort him with her grace as he sank into her.
"Have we reached a decision?"
"Yes," Sam whispered. "Yes, I'll go."
She grabbed him by the shoulders feeling trapped in a way unfamiliar to her. "No, you are supposed to say no."
"He has made his decision."
"I rescind my barter," she said, desperate and afraid as Sam reached for her.
"You can't go back alone again, Luci. You'll just be what you were."
I'll destroy you, we'll lose our minds in that place and I'll rip you apart because it's you all over again that trapped us there, she wanted to say but everything was failing her.
Dean was coming through the door, dropping the bag he was carrying in surprise, his terror mounting at what was happening as Sam was telling his brother he was sorry, it was something that had to be done, and that he was thankful for what his brother had done.
Death was moving towards them before he stopped, looking at her.
"You are lucky another speaks for you, angel."
He hit the ground with his cane and then was gone and Michael was in his place, dazed, blinking, looking at all of them.
"Holy shit," Dean whispered, Sam's face still pressed in her hair.
"Should we ask?" Michael said, slowly getting his bearings with the understanding that hell had finally left him.
"Adam," Dean demanded.
"What, still itching to take our family trip to Wally World?"
Dean smirked, truly smirked, and relaxed a little with the knowledge of who had just spoken.
"She was trading herself for you." It was Sam who finally broke the uneasy silence and Michael looked at her sharply.
Her brother came to her and she feared a sword in her heart as his fingers brushed her cheek. It was his grace that called to her, something she hadn't felt for so long that sang 'beautiful' to her as he took her in.
"Heaven is in disarray."
"Yeah, uh, they haven't been well behaved," Dean got out. "Uh, you aren't still planning on the whole world-ending battle with this? Kind of want to plan my last few hours."
"No." Michael let his hand drop. "We must go and calm them."
With that, they were gone and Dean was still staring at his brother as though Sam had mutated into something else before he sighed and picked up his bag.
"Well, at least we don't have to feed you." His words were cautious, still disbelieving and she didn't blame him, she was barely in control. Dean would have words about this later if he ever learned how far his brother had been willing to go. Many, many words and she almost sighed out loud over the tirades she had to look forward to. For now, he was quiet, most likely still processing he had the devil in his room and all his brothers alive and free, and she appreciated the few times he was forced into silence.
Sam took her hand, an edge sliding off all the rage she kept inside as he led her to the table. If she could keep this was still a question she had no answer to, but right now, as they sat and Dean put out the food, she knew that she could push back what was in her a while longer.
Sam's smile at her was enough for that.