Author's Note: Oh. Wow. Hi, guys. *hides* It's been… ages. Almost a year? I am so sorry. Also, not dead, so feel free to punch me in the face.
This scene gave me so much grief, and I'm sorry if people are out of character or whatnot but I literally cannot do any more about it. Thank you all for sticking with me, especially the new people who saw the last update date and followed it anyway. Shoutout to Dannichigo and Kymothy and all the rest of you whose reviews spurred me into finally continuing. Love you all!
Gabriel was right, Dean realized; if they had just charged in like they planned, all of them would have died. The room was packed with angels, ranks of them that filled the back of the room in eerie stillness and silence. The dazzle of their Grace made it hard for Dean to count them as Lucifer stole into the corner by the door, but he figured at least two dozen. In a small, clear space at the very front of the pack stood Raphael and Zachariah. Sitting in a chair before them, not visibly tied but bound nonetheless, was Sam. Dean cringed inwardly. Sam looked awful. There was blood on his face and his shirt, and the way he was blinking groggily around the room made Dean worry that he might have a concussion.
Bastards, he growled, ready to break some heads, but Lucifer soothed him.
Stay calm, Dean. Gabriel or I can heal him when this is over. Dean would have responded, but Sam had just spotted Gabriel. Or rather, he had spotted someone who looked like his brother. Dean fell silent as he watched the mixed fear and relief on his brother's face melt into anger and disbelief when the angel wearing Dean's body barely acknowledged him. Sam opened his mouth to speak, but Raphael glanced at him and the hunter suddenly gagged, gasping for air. The message was clear: Sam's participation was not required.
"Lucifer." Raphael murmured, scrutinizing Gabriel's face. Dean and Lucifer held their collective breath, waiting for someone to sound the alarm. If they were going to figure out Gabriel's trick, it would be now. "How is your true vessel treating you? When we heard you had taken it, we were... surprised, to say the least. Dean Winchester has proved an irritation to us in the past; we assumed he would be able to resist you longer. Whatever did you do to him to make him bow?"
"I have not harmed Dean," Gabriel corrected coolly, as much for Sam's benefit as the archangels'. "We reached an agreement, one that is not your concern." Even as tense and terrified as Dean was, he still found a moment to appreciate Gabriel's acting. The iciness of his tone, the way he barely glanced at Sam as he spoke—it was exactly how Dean would have expected Lucifer to act back when he thought the angel was a giant asshole.
"I do not sense his soul," Zachariah commented lazily, as though it didn't really matter to him one way or another. In a way, Dean supposed it didn't. "If the hunter is gone, why are you here? Surely you don't care for this pathetic mud monkey, do you?" He shoved Sam hard in the back, making the man lurch slightly against his psychic restraints and let out a grunt of pain.
"I told you, I made a bargain," Gabriel answered calmly. A hell of a lot more calmly than Dean would have, seeing them treat his brother like that. "Whether Dean is present or not has no effect on my duty to uphold my end of it. Let Sam Winchester go."
Zachariah looked like he was about to make some sort of angry remark, but Raphael spoke up, silencing him. "What an... admirable stance to take, Lucifer." The archangel's lip curled in a mocking sneer. "It seems that despite your fall you have retained some small measure of dignity."
Dean could feel the barely repressed wrath simmering in Lucifer's Grace, mirroring his own hatred, and was glad that Gabe was talking instead; between the two of them he and Lucifer would have devolved to smiting things in under a minute. Cas shifted uncomfortably behind Gabriel, and Zachariah turned his attention to the younger angel, seeming to notice him for the first time.
"Castiel," he spat, disgust filling his voice. "You would renounce your duty, your family, to defend such a traitor? Adricel may never fly again, you know. Laniel was nearly gone when we found her. They were your sisters, Castiel!"
Castiel visibly flinched at the words. "No," he muttered, eyes wide and horrified. "I didn't—Adricel wasn't hurt that badly, I know she wasn't!" The massed ranks behind Zachariah and Raphael muttered angrily, and one of the angels at the front snarled, drawing his blade.
"I will slay you where you stand, liar!" he threatened, taking a step towards Castiel, but Gabriel's wings flared out protectively and he seemed to expand, filling the space.
"Do not lay a hand on Castiel!" Even knowing that it wasn't really Lucifer, Dean quaked at Gabriel's wrath; he had never seen such fury on anyone's face, and it was startling to see it on his own. Cas's would-be attacker froze, eyes wide. "He is under my protection, as is Sam Winchester. You will let them go without harm, or there will be retribution." Sam and Cas were both watching Gabriel with wildly different expressions: Cas seemed awed by Gabriel's support, while Sam looked nauseous at the unnecessary reminder that it wasn't his brother standing next to him. For several moments, the entire room waited to see if the fragile peace would be broken at last. Dean could feel Lucifer readying himself, although Dean wasn't sure if it was to fight or run.
"Enough of this," Raphael snapped. "Emael, stand down!" The lesser angel flushed and lowered his weapon, angry eyes never leaving Castiel. "Zachariah, release the human." When Zachariah looked like he would protest, Raphael scowled. "You would break our word? When even the lowest fallen has kept his?" Gabriel stiffened at the insult, but kept silent. "We offered a trade, Zachariah. Now let the boy go." Zachariah grimaced but nodded, waving his hand.
Lucifer and Dean watched from behind their shroud of invisibility as Sam suddenly slumped, cut free from the will that had been holding him up. He glanced at the angels behind him with a half fearful, half loathing gaze, then turned those same eyes on Gabriel. Dean knew his brother wasn't really looking at him, but it still hurt him to see Sam searching Dean's impassive face like that.
"Dean? He's lying, right?" Sam asked, taking a few unwilling steps closer and staring into Gabriel's eyes. "You're still in there somewhere. Lucifer didn't kill you, right?"
"Sam, go with Castiel," Gabe ordered softly, averting his eyes to watch the other angels once more. Only someone who knew Gabriel as well as Lucifer could have caught the pain in the angel's voice. He did not enjoy this part of the charade. Dean wanted to cry out, to tell Sam that it would all be okay, but he couldn't. Not if they were all going to get out of this. He watched helplessly as Sam's shoulders slumped and he turned towards Cas, still wearing that accusatory expression.
"You're helping him," Sam hissed at Cas, smacking the angel's hand away when he tried to touch Sam's shoulder. "You were supposed to keep this from happening. I trusted you."
"I'm trying to save you, Sam." The sorrow in Cas' voice was not feigned. "I am sorry it has to be like this." Cas hesitated, glancing at Gabriel for instruction. Dean supposed they should have thought out their tactical retreat a bit more, but then again they hadn't really thought this would work.
"Something is not right," Raphael murmured suddenly, brow furrowing. Dean's attention snapped back to the archangel, who had his head tilted back and was scenting the air like a bloodhound. "Your Grace… it feels familiar. You are not Lucifer." Everyone in the room froze, Sam included. Dean held his imaginary breath.
Gabriel's face registered only irritated confusion. "Of course I'm Lucifer, who else would I be? Do you think there is another who would dare to claim this vessel? My Grace feels familiar, brother, because you used to know it as well as your own." Raphael looked unconvinced, and now Zachariah was appraising Gabriel as well.
What's going on? Dean demanded, feeling the tension in the room slowly escalating. How can they tell?
I don't know, Lucifer answered, frustrated. Gabriel's disguise is flawless. They shouldn't even suspect that he's alive, much less pretending to be me.
Okay, well, they do. What are we going to do about it? Lucifer didn't answer, but Dean could feel Grace building in his hands. Fight them off, of course. Cool.
"Castiel, go," Gabriel said, glancing urgently over his shoulder at the younger angel.
As he did, Raphael moved. Even though Dean and Lucifer had been watching, the attack was almost too fast to see. One moment Raphael was standing with his hands at his sides, the next he was across the narrow gap and slicing at Gabriel's face with his angel blade. Nearly too late, Gabriel spun back and brought his own blade up to deflect. Raphael stared at the weapon, rage, confusion, and satisfaction warring on his features.
"Where did you get that blade, 'Lucifer'?" he asked, eyes narrowed. "It isn't yours. In fact, it looks a great deal like that of our dear departed brother."
Fuck, Lucifer swore, and then everything burst into motion.
Zachariah dove at Cas and Sam with an angry cry, but Lucifer and Dean were there, and the attacking angel's blade met a shield of pure Grace as it scythed towards Sam's head. The rest of the angels gave similar shouts of anger that turned to surprise as there were suddenly two Dean Winchesters standing side by side. Gabriel threw Raphael off him and both enemies retreated slightly, staring.
"Well, you have to give me credit," Gabriel muttered. "It almost worked. Castiel, go now!" he ordered, and this time Cas obeyed, grabbing Sam's arm and physically dragging him to the door.
"Wait, no! Dean!" Sam was struggling, but Castiel was an angel and it was no contest. There was a flash of light as the two of them vanished, and then it was just Gabriel, Dean, and Lucifer.
"Your turn, brother. Go now. I'll be right behind you." Gabriel's voice was grim.
"You're lying." Lucifer stood his ground, weaponless. His fingertips sparked with power, making a few of the lesser angels shift nervously. Dean made a mental note to ask Lucifer about it when this was over; he'd never seen any of the angels just throw power around the way Lucifer was.
Gabriel shot a glare at Lucifer, dropping his glamour and resuming his usual appearance. The confusion in the garrison doubled as some of the angels recognized their long-lost brother.
"Gabriel?" Zachariah asked in outraged incredulity. "You disappear for millennia, only to return and cast your lot with them?"
"What can I say; I've got a thing for tall guys who aren't great big bags of dicks." Gabriel smirked, but his eyes were bleak.
"Our father—" Raphael began, but Gabriel cut him off with a harsh chuckle.
"Yeah, how is dear old Dad? Anyone seen him around lately? No? Does that bother any of you?" Two or three angels shifted nervously. "Oh, so it does. Any of you tried to find him yet?" This time, none of them moved, many staring at the floor guiltily.
Zachariah's lip was curled in a sneer. "Don't sound so noble, Gabriel. I didn't see you searching for him anywhere either."
"Oh, no. You're absolutely right, I didn't. Probably wouldn't have either. In fact, the only one in this entire room who cares about our Father enough to go looking for him is the one you're trying to murder."
"What do you mean?" Raphael asked, switching his gaze to Lucifer curiously.
"That is all I want, brother," Lucifer explained earnestly. Dean could feel tentative hope swelling in Lucifer's Grace, the thought that maybe this wouldn't end in bloodshed. Personally, Dean doubted it. Lucifer might have known his brothers before, but Dean knew what they were like now. They wouldn't believe him. Lucifer let the light in his hands die and raised them beseechingly towards the other angels. "Please, believe me as Dean does, and as Gabriel and Castiel do. I do not want to fight. I do not want to destroy this planet, or bring down Heaven and raise Hell on earth. I only want to find our Father and seek forgiveness from him, as I seek forgiveness from you."
Silence reigned for several long seconds. As Lucifer scanned the faces before him, Dean noticed that many of them were troubled, some afraid. Some were still angry. Zachariah looked unmoved, sneer still in place. Raphael hesitated, a flicker of doubt crossing his features, but a moment later it was replaced by a mask of righteous indifference. "I cannot forgive you, Lucifer, nor can I believe you. You ruined our home. You brought strife to our family. Because of you, Gabriel fled and our Father became distant."
"Hang on—" Gabriel cut in, looking offended, but Raphael spoke over him.
"It is our duty to stop you now, before you bring further harm. Tell your plight to Death, and see if he shall spare you."
"Brothers, please—" Lucifer began, but then Gabriel was in front of them, pushing them back towards the door.
"Lucifer, you and Dean need to leave, now. They're going to lock us in here." The strain in Gabriel's voice was apparent, and when Lucifer glanced back at the door Dean saw that it had shrunk to half its original size. The glowing portal was trembling, minute contractions and expansions making the edges ripple.
Gabriel must be holding it open. Lucifer answered Dean's unasked question. Out loud, he protested, "Gabriel, you won't be able to hold the portal steady and go through it at the same time. I'm not leaving you here." Zachariah and Raphael were advancing from either side now, blades out and wings spread menacingly. Behind them were some of the more eager angels, also ready to fight.
"Lucifer this is not an argument. You need to find Father, right? So go do it! I'll be fine. They're not gonna kill me." Gabriel did have a point—Dean was reasonably certain that they would try to "reeducate" him before resorting to outright killing. Lucifer and Dean didn't have even that slim chance.
"No. I'm staying with you." Grace began to glow in Lucifer's palms again, and the nearest angels shrank back cautiously. There were still too many of them though.
Lucifer, we need to get out of here. Is there any other way Gabe could sneak out once we're gone? Dean's mind was racing. Not his heart though, because that wasn't really his anymore. We may have to just trust that he'll get out.
I am not going to abandon him! The force of Lucifer's words slammed into Dean, dazing him.
I'm not— Dean struggled to make his thoughts coherent again. I'm not saying we should. It's a logical retreat. We'll come back for him later, when we're not so outnumbered.
"Lucifer, please!" Gabriel backed into them, physically pushing Dean's body towards the doorway. In response, Lucifer planted his feet and pushed back, refusing to let Gabriel send him through the portal. "Don't make all this for nothing, brother."
While Gabriel was distracted, one of the lesser angels darted forward, blade held high. Lucifer snarled and thrust out a hand, and a bolt of what looked like iridescent electricity shot past Gabriel, hitting the angel's blade like it was a lightning rod and traveling down into his body. The angel screamed, writhing, eyes smoking, before collapsing to the ground in a heap. Everyone in the room stared.
What the hell was that? Dean demanded. He couldn't tell if the angel was dead or not, but his eyes were burned out the way Pamela's had been when she looked at Cas' true form. He was no angel expert, but Dean was pretty sure that wasn't supposed to happen to the angels themselves.
I told you I needed no blade, Dean. Lucifer responded, and Dean shivered at the bloodthirsty glee in the archangel's thoughts. He could practically feel Lucifer's mind turning cold and dark, slipping into that bottomless rage that terrified Dean. The cage that they trapped me in gave me plenty of time to hone my skills, and a coward attacking from behind is an easy target. Dean felt his mouth twist into a savage grin, and Lucifer leaned forward to whisper in Gabriel's ear. "We can defeat them, brother. We could kill all of them, you and I." Dean shook inside his own mind, praying that Gabriel could talk Lucifer down before the archangel lost control completely.
"No, Lucifer." Gabriel's voice wavered slightly, and Dean had the distinct impression that right now the archangel was just as afraid of Lucifer as he was of Raphael and Zachariah. "Please, calm down. They are still your brothers and sisters. You did not come here to fight, remember that. Dean is telling you to leave too, isn't he?"
"I came in peace, brother, and they chose war. I am not our Father, to forgive. They deny me that right, claim that I am a monster, and so I shall be." Lucifer spread his massive wings, tattered as they were, and all of the other angels but Zachariah and Raphael took a step back in alarm. "As for Dean..." Lucifer hesitated, and Dean sent a wordless appeal for peace, but the fallen angel ignored him. "This is not his body any longer, nor his fight. Sam is safe. Dean has no say in this."
"Dammit, Lucifer." Gabriel sighed. "You're going to have about a minute, Dean. Run." Before Lucifer could respond, Gabriel twisted around and pressed two fingers to his forehead. There was the disconcerting and slightly painful sensation of standing still while a river of ice blasted past him, and then Dean was standing there, on his own feet, in his own body.
"Gabriel, what the hell—" Before Dean could even finish the sentence, Gabriel put a hand on his chest and shoved him. Without Lucifer's strength, Dean flew back, slamming into the half-closed door and then through it. The last thing he saw was Zachariah reaching after him with a snarl until Gabriel grabbed him by the neck and threw him into Raphael. Then there was a flash and Dean was lying on the floor of the warehouse. In front of him, the door to the Green Room closed with a snap.
My deepest apologies to every one of you. All I can say is chapter 10 is in the works and I don't know why any of you still like me...