A/N I haven't written Supernatural fic for quite a while now, but there was a post on tumblr that mentioned the idea of Lucifer being in Sam's vessel as he killed Gabriel, and the idea was too delightfully angsty to resist. The result is a bit short, but I had fun with it regardless.
There is a face across from him, and its eyes are bright with darkness. Savage fire, untouchable and yet so, so devastatingly present, licks against the glistening sclera, seeming to pulsate out from the beast's invisible core like a searing lightning strike. They gleam neither black nor red, for the creature behind their fragile mask is not a demon—he is something far worse, infinitely so, something emergent from what seems practically the dawn of time itself, immersed in the shadows of ancient ages.
Thin lips curl beneath the drowning glare. His voice is light. "Gabriel."
"Lucifer," Gabriel murmurs in response, letting his tongue glide across his brother's full name, rather than allowing it to be condensed into any sort of diminutive, fond or condescending. It is better, he thinks, to address him plainly, to lay out their actions in the boundless context of formality rather than lightening it with an attempt at casualness. He knows what's going to happen, after all—there's nothing else that could, at this point, after everything—and he only weakly wishes that it could have turned out another way. "And wearing little Sammy Winchester, too?"
"I could only turn up in the best. And if it staggers you especially... well, all the better, isn't it?"
The words, spoken in Sam's voice, hurt much more than they should. He feels each of them like a twisting stab to a place below his heart and above his stomach, and he imagines that, if he were younger and more foolish, he might try to stare deep enough into those light eyes to find the soul that still dwells within the recesses of its adopted costume. Because Sam is there, of course. They never leave—their spirits may be fought down, ripped apart, pinned to the walls of their former sanctuary in screaming, bloody tatters, but they are far from extinguished. The strongest ones, even, can catch a glimpse of the hollow movements that their body carries through without their consent. They are awake... they see.
Sam Winchester, undoubtedly, is the most powerful soul Gabriel has ever encountered.
He can see what is happening right now, breath for breath.
The archangel has no doubt.
"Wouldn't say it staggers me. A little upsetting, sure... I mean, what, he's only ever been an innocent little puppy in the past. I even managed to make him cry once or twice... sorry about that, by the way, Sammy boy." He keeps talking, lets the words tick by without carrying any meaning in their wake. It's easier to ramble. Easier to let meaningless conversation fill the air, drowning out the hollowness that's rapidly growing inside of him. For, despite his best attempts, he can't convince himself to view the vessel before him solely as Lucifer—he can't. And it's foolish, because he's always been able to see past the meat-suit, never allowed the "innocent" shell to get in the way of the wicked inside. Yet this, now, is Sam. Sam. Sam, the unbelievably courageous and beyond dangerous man who had become a ruthless killer for months after the death of his brother. Sam, the boy he'd watched for years, who had evolved from a skinny, nerdy college student to something fierce and powerful and terrible and respectable. Sam, who had laughed at all of Gabriel's stupid jokes the first time they met—and even if it had only been a way to wheedle information out of him, surely that didn't matter; in any case, it didn't alter the quick, inexplicable surge that twisted inside of Gabriel with each of his shy smiles.
There is no smile on the face now. Or perhaps the expression almost could be called as much, but it's shallow, chilly, the snarling leer of a predator. It looks wrong, distorted on Sam's familiar face, and Gabriel feels the weight of the blade in his hand far too heavily, knowing what he has to do, knowing that there's no other way around it, that Dean will hate him but Sam would thank him for the action which he has no choice but to pursue. They were the ones who initially persuaded him into it, after all. If Dean Winchester were in this position now, he would be weakened by the sight of the person he cared about the most in the world. He wouldn't be able to do it, and that failure would doom them all.
And yet Gabriel can. He is capable of doing what must be done, and therefore he has no choice.
If you're still in there, Sammy, I really am sorry. He doesn't voice the words, simply because he's not foolish, but the fact that they remain sealed in his aching throat does nothing to diminish the weight of them within his vessel's fragile chest. It's more than pathetic, because he's lived through thousands of wars and deaths and tragedies that would drive the most resilient human mad—he has endured every dark age that his father's most foolish race managed to conjure, so it is beyond unreasonable that a single soul should suspend his deeds now. Life is pale and fleeting, when it comes to these delicate beings, isolated storms of passionate fragility, spinning themselves to pieces and setting fire wherever they stand. It is a minute occurrence, in the scheme of things; for one of the infinite flickering lights to be cleaved into silence is utterly unimportant.
Yet thoughts of insignificance do nothing to diminish the agony pulsing through his chest.
"It doesn't have to be this way, brother," Lucifer says delicately. Gabriel hates how he uses Sam's lips with such ease, as though they're familiar to him—natural. And natural they are, he reminds himself angrily, because this is where the fallen angel belongs, this is the body made and tailored specifically for him to exist within it. It's demented and unfair and there are a thousand things wrong with it, but that does seem to be how it is with most predestined things.
Like this. There's no denying that this is the culmination of it all. Standing inside a half-wrecked, bloodstained, corpse-strewn hotel with a blade in his hand, with regret weighing his tongue into wordlessness, confronted with his most damned brother encased in the flesh of the poor, destroyed man whom he can't help but think he might love. Not be in love with; he has never been in love, and he never will be. But this, he knows—this burning attachment, this all-consuming urge to hold on and preserve—is surely the closest he will ever get.
Of course, if the foreboding sting of his chest is any indication, he will not have much opportunity for such a prediction to be proved false.
He feels death distantly, and yet with a fierce proximity, both equal in demand. Despite the near-regret in Lucifer's poised expression and the throbbing apology rampant in his own lungs, he does not doubt in the least what the outcome of this final confrontation will be. Final, indeed, for they will not both escape with their lives. Something is going to end.
"Oh, yeah, it has to be this way." He tightens his grip on the knife. Apologizes, silently, to Sam. "There was never any other choice."
"I do not want to do this."
"Neither of us do. Though, to be honest, brotherly affections aren't really what's stopping me."
"Aw, do you care about him?" The sorrow slips from Lucifer's expression with such painful ease that Gabriel finds himself doubting whether it was ever genuine in the first place. "How sweet. I've been wiser than you, little brother... I know that attachment to humans only ever leads to foolishness."
Attachment only ever leads to foolishness. The words, in Sam's voice, strike him like a dagger.
"I'm not really sure I agree with your idea of wisdom," he gets out through crushed lungs, and a sound emerges from his lips that's half a laugh. Lucifer is smiling at him, an empty expression, devoid of any sort of passion, and he can't watch it any longer. He can't.
He thinks he might say a few more words, in a weak preface to the damning action, but if he does, they're both aware of the fact that the meanings are shallow. Worthless. Everything that truly must be said is there in their eyes, light wily golden to icy near-black, and it's a communication between the three of them, really—between Lucifer, Gabriel, and Sam.
Boundless emotion is balanced there, to the point where even trying to parcel it away into separate labeled feelings would be futile and pointless. Rather than a collection, there is a spectrum; sorrow and fear and apology and love and regret and hatred and bitterness, all pulled together into something tempestuous, something bright and dark, something seething and still. The aching pull in his chest grows stronger. This is too much.
After everything, this is too much.
With that thought clasped in the wavering hold of his fiery mind, he flips the knife down and moves forwards.
Lucifer is too fast for him.
He doesn't know how it happens, only that it does happen, fast and heated and sharp. Other warm hands fumbling over his own. A quick sting in his wrists as they're twisted to reflect the point of their burden upon the bearer. Slipping horror. Pain like a punch.
Stiff. He is stiff, and nausea is creeping up his throat.
Something weighs down his chest. Something that does not belong. He shakes.
The other's eyes, suddenly, are very close. They gleam faintly, and, through the shriek of what sounds like wind in his ears, he has the room to understand what that wet shine implies.
In that moment, he does not see his brother. It is not Lucifer whose lips are trembling, whose cheeks have gone pale, whose eyes are wide and blank and stricken with the gravity of what he has done.
Seconds left. An instant.
His consciousness shudders, and he is thrust into white fire.