Warnings: Elusions to torture, general Hell imagery
A/N: Written for my hc_bingo square "falsely imprisoned." Happy New Year, everyone!
For a long time after they fall, Michael feels nothing but oblivion. He remembers the pain—the shock of being torn from his vessel, of his Grace being shredded as the Cage closes in around him, but after that, there's nothing. He floats somewhere near death as his Grace repairs itself, unaware of his brother or the two humans trapped with them.
It's the last peace he knows for a long time.
Deep within the depths of the Cage, someone's screaming.
Michael tries to ignore it, turning his mind away from the filth surrounding him to something higher, but there's no comfort there. Ever since he regained consciousness, or whatever the nearest approximation is in this place, the comforting murmur of Heaven has been quiet. Where once he could feel every one of his siblings, if he willed it, now there's nothing but the flickering presence of his little brother and a hollow emptiness where his connection to the Host should be. If this is Falling, than Michael wonders that any angel ever survived it.
"Come join me, brother."
He hadn't heard or felt Lucifer's approach; the Cage has dulled his senses to a point of disability. How Lucifer can act like this place is home, Michael does not know.
Lucifer is close enough that he can feel his soft exhale against the raw edges of his Grace. "Come on, you're stuck here, you might as well have a little fun."
"I will not lower myself to your level," Michael hisses. "Maybe you deserve to be here, but I don't. Father will come for me—he wouldn't leave his most loyal son to rot in Hell."
"You just keep telling yourself that, bro. Word to the wise, though, you might want to at least make yourself a semblance of a body while you're here." Lucifer gestures at the form he's created for himself, the shape of the vessel he was wearing before he took Sam. "It's easier than just sitting there exposed."
Listening to Lucifer is the last thing he wants to do, but it does make sense. Michael twitches, and his form reshapes itself into a mimicry of a vessel he'd worn millennia before, before Lucifer's Fall. It's familiar and comforting, but Lucifer doesn't look impressed.
"Seriously, you could look like anyone you wanted, and you go for him? Come on, show a little imagination."
Michael could tell him that he showed a similar lack of imagination in his own choice, but Lucifer's choices never made sense to him. Still, if he could have any shape he wanted—
"Ah," Lucifer breathes. "That's what I'm talking about."
Michael ignores him. His brother had been right about confining his Grace into a body, but if he wants his Father's continued forgiveness, the less contact he has with the abomination that was once his favorite brother–his world–the better.
"Go back to your toys, Lucifer."
Lucifer sighs. "Hey, when you're ready to come out and play, I'll be waiting."
Michael doesn't acknowledge his departure, and doesn't react when the screams start up again a few moments later. He won't be here for long.
"Please, Father." Michael speaks as quietly as he can, even though he knows Lucifer is busy on the other side of the Cage. He's not sure which of the two vessels Lucifer's entertaining himself with now. He knows that, understandably, his brother has a preference for the elder of the Winchesters, and that he's "saving" Adam for when Michael deigns to join him, but he also knows that Lucifer gets bored quickly and that just one toy isn't enough to satisfy him for long. He feels a flash of pity for the boy who'd served him well, if not perfectly, for such a short time, but it's not enough to intercede. His own freedom is his greatest concern.
"Please, Father," he says again, "I know this wasn't what you intended. I know I failed, that I didn't bring Paradise to the earth as you wished, but is this truly the punishment you meant for me?" He glances around the murky redness of the Cage, takes in the stench of blood, the sticky feel of the ground underneath him. "I am a good son, a loyal son. I took the rule of Heaven when you left, and it prospered under my guidance. I have served you in every way, and my faith has never wavered, not even—" He breaks off, takes a deep, shuddering breath.
"Don't lie to Dad," Lucifer says softly, and Michael jumps. "Of course, it's not like he can hear you anyway, but still..."
"And what do you know about it?" Michael turns on his brother, and his anger channeled through this form feels right, powerful. His hands ball into fists, and he pushes himself up, his fury giving him more size than his physical form alone, the height difference between them becoming nothing more than a matter of semantics. "What would you possibly understand?"
"A hell of a lot more than you think. How long do you think I was here before I stopped pleading to Father that he'd made a mistake, that I was sorry, that all I wanted was to come home?"
Michael snorts, a gesture that's unfamiliar to him, but suits the shape he's wearing.
"Face it, Mikey, you're here and you're not going anywhere. If Dad's around, he's not listening." His face softens, and he places a comforting hand on Michaels's shoulder. "Maybe you don't deserve this—though I'm pretty sure Sammy over there thinks you do—but that changes absolutely nothing. There's no rescue coming. You might as well get used to it."
Michael pulls away from Lucifer and turns away from him. Somewhere deep down, he knows his brother's right, but it doesn't make the pain any easier to bear. "How do you survive this?" It's quiet enough that for a second he thinks Lucifer didn't hear him.
"Well, at first, insanity. Now..." Lucifer smiles. "Well, let's just say it's better with company." He takes Michael's hand and gives it an affectionate squeeze. "Come with me."
Michael has never left the corner of the Cage he awoke in; he never saw reason to. Lucifer has set up his workshop farther into the gloom, and Michael can't help but hesitate as they get closer. The stench is stronger here, and he can almost taste the pain and desperation in the air.
The sad, twisted body of his formal vessel is lying like discarded rubbish off to one side, and Lucifer barely spares him a glance. "He'll heal," Lucifer tells him, guessing where Michael's attention had gone. "He still has an actual physical body, and he's not nearly as much fun as his brother." He gestures at the makeshift rack beyond Adam. "Sammy, on the other hand, is nothing but pure, exposed soul. Nice, isn't it?"
"What happened to his body?"
"An angel rescued it when we first arrived. Little Castiel, I believe. I don't think he realized he missed the most important bit. Still, it gives us a nicer canvas, don't you think?" Lucifer lets that sink in, then adds, "Michael, they tried to rescue him, but you're still here. What does that tell you?"
Michael examines his brother's handiwork without much interest. Pure physical torture was never really his forte, and while he can't deny that he'd like to cause the one who trapped him here pain, there doesn't seem to be much left he can do.
"Here, is this better?"
Sam's injuries vanish, and his eyes flutter open. They focus instantly on Michael, widening as he takes in the angel, or rather, his current shape. "Dean?"
Lucifer chuckles. "See? Told you that was a better choice."
Michael hesitates, considering. This isn't as good as freedom, but if Lucifer's right, and their father isn't coming for him, a little retribution feels like it might be nice. Healing, even.
He smiles, lips twisting into an unfamiliar smirk. "Hey, Sammy. How's it going?"