Title: A Clockwork Metaphor
Pairing(s): Gen (Sam & Lucifer)
Rating: R
Genre(s): Post-Season Eight, Spoilers to Season Finale, The Introduction Ate the Fic, We'll Always Have Detroit, Sam Plays Fay Wray, Lucifer Needs a Boss Theme
Summary: For the Hotter Than Hell Fanwork Exchange and for destielobsessed's prompt one, "Lucifer also falls with the other angels from heaven and Lucifer is a human now."

"The ones without vessels, and without their grace— there's no more mold, you understand. They don't have anything to keep them quite so cookie-cutter rigid. Your brother's out looking for concussed little cherubs in two-piece suits, but he's not going to find them."

"What will he find?" Sam asks, warily.

Author Notes: (This was supposed to be a Snark-Filled Road Trip™ story, but then the intro exposition kind of got away from me and? dragons? SUFFICE TO SAY IT ONLY FOLLOWS THE ORIGINAL PROMPT VERY LOOSELY)

At seven in the morning on an otherwise normal Thursday, Ksenia Boroteva Bochareva totters out onto her front stoop to see what it is that her Styopa is barking at with such ferocity.

"Tiha, tiha," she mutters distractedly as she makes her way carefully down the crumbling concrete steps, reaching for the rusted chain that tethers the dog to the equally rusted iron grate over her window. "A shto sluchilas', eh? Nu, durak, tiha—"

Her rheumy eyes and failing ears don't see that the sky is falling, don't hear the high, far-away whistling of fiery bodies crashing through the stratosphere. The spectacle that has her neighbors shouting and falling to their knees in the street completely escapes her. In the dacha she's just left, dishes begin to rattle in their cupboards, the icon in the corner vibrating right off the wall. Ksenia gives Styopa halting, clumsy pats on his bony head and prominent ribs, her hands stiff and thin-skinned with age, and a bomb explodes not ten meters away.

This is what Ksenia assumes has happened, anyway. She is ninety-two years old and once served as a nurse in Stalingrad. She is no stranger to bombs.

Styopa is completely off his head, howling and snapping at the dust and fragments that settle out around the mounded crater of what had been her beloved plum trees. Ksenia, knocked back against the dacha wall, coughs raggedly as she slowly levers herself to her knees, then her feet, tugging her shawl over her face to filter the thick fog of pulverized dirt.

There is something moving at the bottom of the crater. Ksenia, who has ventured as far as the lip of the depression, watches with her hand to her mouth as a hand pushes free of the loose soil, clawing at the air and ground. A shoulder follows, and a head.

"Gospodye," she says, and the body of a young man emerges gasping from the earth, streaked with clay and grass. His eyes are trained on the sky.

Ksenia lifts her own and sees blurred movement, small flashes of light and a vast shadow retreating quickly into the sky. She cannot make any sense of it. She thinks of bombs again, and airplanes. Chelyabinsk was struck by a comet, she remembers.

When she looks backs, the young man has managed to pull his hips and legs free and now sags wearily on his knees at the center of the massive hole. He looks exhausted.

"Ey, malchik," she says, edging down the slope. "Ti ranin?"

She reaches him, and when he looks up at her she puts a hand on his shoulder.

"Ranin?" she asks again, more loudly. "Vrach nuzhen?"

"Hello, kuska," he responds. His teeth are dirt-stained, and soil sticks in the creases of his face. "I am sorry about your trees."

Ksenia's hand slowly falls. The words are not Russian, which she's spoken since girlhood, but Yakut, the language of her grandmother. She remembers that Ksenia was too foreign a name for her babka, too Russian. Little duck, she'd called her graddaughter, and she'd been older then than Ksenia is now. Her little duck, her kuska.

"Kuska," the young man says again, still kneeling in the dirt. "Do you have a telephone?"

tiha - тихо - quiet ; shto sluchilas' - что случилось - what happened; durak - дурак - fool; gospodye - господе - lord ; ti ranin - ты ранен - are you hurt ; vrach nuzhen - врач нужен - do you need a doctor

Day three since the angels fell, and Sam's just about ready to kill something.

"It's so awful," Crowley sobs, tipping forward in his chair, hand loose around the neck of a squat bottle of scotch. He waves it in front of him to punctuate the sentence, eyes bloodshot and streaming tears. "Every day. All the time. Incessantly."

Well. To kill someone.

"Oh my God, shut up," Kevin moans. "Shut up, shut up, shut up—"

"How do you poor bastards deal with it?" Crowley chokes out. "How do you even function?"

"Most of us aren't personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people," Kevin snaps back.

Make that several someones.

Crowley crumples in on himself, head falling to the table, and scotch spills in a wide wet puddle on the glossy wood. He hitches out, "All I wanted was—"

"Oh my God, yes, we know," Kevin says, rolling his eyes. "You just wanted to be loved. Sam, I can't take this anymore."

"You can't take it anymore?" Sam rasps. He's going to kill them both with his bare hands. And then he's going to kill Dean, for leaving him alone with them.

"Everything hurts so much," Crowley mumbles, and the scotch bottle topples, rolling across the table to fall with a hollow thunk on the floor.

"Jesus fucking Christ," Sam mutters, leaning down to grab it and laboriously righting himself again, tucking his blanket a little more tightly around his shoulders. His temperature is still spiking between 100 and 105, but he hasn't been able to feel warm enough in weeks.

"Give it back," Crowley says, reaching out with both hands like a toddler, and Sam holds it farther away, scowling at him.

"You're cut off. I'm chaining the liquor cabinet closed."

"Please don't," Kevin says immediately, head jerking up.

Sam eyes him. "You have five minutes," he decides.

Kevin shoots out of his chair and makes for the stairs. Sam stands, stiff and slow, and shuffles off towards the kitchen. He's bone-tired at eleven o'clock in the morning and he hates it, hates this feeling of all-consuming exhaustion and uselessness. Who the fuck even knows how Dean's doing, out there looking for— for God even knows what, at this point. The angel who'd crashed down practically at their feet had barely lived long enough to gasp, "The Metatron— he— my grace, my wings—"

Dean was supposed to meet up with Charlie for backup, but knowing him there's a good chance he went off on his own. And if he's run into other angels, if they're angry, if they're violent—

The phone in the pocket of Sam's pajama pants rings, and Sam sets the bottle on the counter and fishes it out, unbelievably grateful to see that familiar number flashing on the screen.

"Dean," he answers, shoving hair back out of his face, "thank God. I was just about to—"

"I'm heading back," Dean says, clipped and terse. "About an hour out now."

"Uh… okay?" Sam responds. "Did you find any—?"

"No. Something came up."

Sam slumps back against the counter, free hand curled around the edge of the granite. "What? What came up?"

There's a long pause, and the muffled sounds of traffic in the background. "… you're not gonna like it."

Sam is so not in the mood for this. "Dean, just tell me," he says. "Did you meet up with Charlie?"

Dean sighs, rough and loud. "Yeah, she's following me. Listen, about an hour ago I got a call from the U.S. consulate in some bumfuck town in Russia, some lady looking for a birth certificate or something so she could issue this mugged tourist a new passport. Guess who."

Sam straightens up, gripping the phone tightly. "Dean, is it Cas? Do you know where—?"

"No," Dean says, and God he sounds bitter. "No, it wasn't Cas."

Now Sam is just confused. "Who then? Dean, just tell me."

There's a long pause, and Sam has opened his mouth to repeat the question when Dean cuts back in.

"It's Michael, okay? Our favorite dickbag archangel, topside and still wearing Adam like a fucking rented tux."

He takes a deep breath before he goes on; Sam can hear it through the phone, air rushing past the receiver.

"Sam, he says he's not up here alone."

"I don't get it," Kevin says, standing next to Sam at the map console in the foyer. "'Falling' kind of implies they're coming down, not crawling up. You can't get any lower than the Pit, right? So shouldn't they have just—?"

"I don't know," Sam says shortly, his eyes following the lights as they flicker from country to country. They're completely gone in Eastern Europe, and slowly winking out across Germany and France.

Crowley snorts, waving a hand dismissively. "Please," he says. "Heaven isn't floating around somewhere the troposphere any more than Hell is at the center of the earth."

"Oh gee, sorry," Kevin says insincerely, turning to him. "It's not like I've given the physics of the afterlife much thought."

"Physics is one word for it, not that I expect you to be able to wrap your tiny mind around the concepts involved," Crowley retorts. Even with huge bags under his eyes and a week's worth of stubble, he still looks sharper than he has in days. The thought of Michael seems to be distracting him from the pain of his newly-recovered soul, if only through abject hatred. The sniffles have almost completely stopped. "In Hell everything is relative, and no one soul experiences the same torments. But Heaven— Heaven has rules. It needs them to function. And now…" Crowley spreads his arms expansively. "They're all broken."

"Sure. What would you know about Heaven?" Sam says, pulling his sleeves down over his hands. The foyer might be even colder than the library.

Crowley glowers at him. "I know enough. Let me tell you something, moose— angels are intelligent, yeah, and nasty little fuckers when they want to be. But they lack a very basic component that makes little old you and me the true masters of this particular plane of existence."

"Creativity," Kevin says, and both Sam and Crowley turn to look at him. "Trust me, after reading Metatron's idea of a literary opus, it's not much of an intuitive leap."

"Ah yes, advanced placement," Crowley says snidely.

"Shove it up your ass," Kevin suggests, with accompanying violent hand gesture.

Sam squints tiredly at the map, a large swathe of Spain going dark as he watches. "But what does that mean? So we're creative. So what?"

Crowley gives him a patient look, a hint of his old smirk crossing his face. "I'm not surprised you idiots haven't cottoned on, but your precious Castiel is really the exception that proves the rule. It means, dear moose," and here he prods Sam in the chest, "that we have all this imagination, and the angels, they're on earth. They're on our turf, so to speak, and they're malleable now.

"The ones without grace, and without vessels— there's no more mold, you understand. They don't have anything to keep them quite so cookie-cutter rigid. Your brother's out looking for concussed little cherubs in two-piece suits, but he's not going to find them."

"What will he find?" Sam asks, warily.

Crowley shrugs. "Sea monsters. Little green men. Fucking flaming wheels and fat babies with wings," he says. "Godzilla. Galactus."

"Coincidentally, I own every Silver Surfer comic ever published," a voice says from the doorway. "Love me some Norrin Radd."

"Charlie," Sam says with relief, and she steps into the room, dropping a bag that clanks loudly as she comes up to give Sam a fierce hug. Her head barely comes to his sternum.

"You're not looking so hot, big boy," she murmurs, tilting her face up towards his, her chin resting on his chest. "Why are we talking about Marvel?"

"Crowley's lecturing on celestial physics."

"I'll get the crib notes from you later," she promises, and pulls back.

"Weren't you following—?" Sam doesn't get a chance to finish, because Dean rushes into the room with his phone to his ear, waving at them to follow as he pushes past Kevin to take the stairs two at a time.

"TV room, everybody, now," he calls back over his shoulder.

"Oh, yeah, did I mention that it's raining ash and fire over most of Europe?" Charlie says, grabbing her bag. "You should probably get your laptop."

Sam looks down at the map console, where the rest of the world blinks furiously while Europe sits, completely inert. "Yeah. Yeah, give me a minute."

The TV room is exactly what it sounds like: a small room in a tucked-away corner of the upstairs hallways, one wall filled floor to ceiling with big boxy televisions— a state-of-the-art setup, circa 1950. Yellowing slips of paper carefully affixed to their glass screens spell out the names of channels that have long since ceased to exist. He and Dean have a few of them rigged well enough for basic cable, but Dean keeps making noises about satellite dishes. Sam has to remind him that it kind of defeats the purpose of having a secret lair if you have a goddamn satellite dish advertising your position, and besides, where would they put it? At the top of a tree?

By the time Sam gets his laptop and lugs it upstairs, the rest of them have already crowded into the tight space. Dean has a few screens on, and he and Charlie are working to get another going while Kevin messes with the volume and the tuners on the others. The one closest to Sam is tuned to CNN; the picture quality is awful, and Sam can barely make out vaguely Mediterranean-looking buildings, and above them, and spreading darkness. He opens his laptop.

"Here, you talk to him," Dean says, and tosses his phone at Sam. It lands with a clatter on his keyboard, and he shoots Dean a dirty look before picking it up.


The scratch of static, and then Adam's voice. "Hello, Sam. How are you?"

"Uh." Sick as a fucking dog, and that much sicker for finding out angels can fall up. "Just fine, thanks.'

"Yes? Dean told me of your efforts to close the gates of Hell. It's a pity you were unable to complete the trials."

Oh, good. For a moment there Sam had been worried Michael would be less of a pretentious asshole after thousands of years in the Pit.

"According to the local news, the storm is hesitating at the shores of Portugal. Perhaps he won't cross the ocean."

"Like we'd ever get that lucky," Sam mutters, but he dutifully reports to the room at large, and types 'portugal storm news' into Google.

"If you had closed the gates, of course, this could have been prevented," Michael says, but before Sam can snap back he continues. "Selfish as it is, I am glad you didn't. It means my freedom, as well as his, and I would condone anything if it meant escape. You know what it's like."

Sam knows.

Michael's voice is matter-of-fact but hushed, growing softer as he goes on. "I never stopped looking for a way out. I tried to reach Castiel when he took your body. I begged Death, when he came for your soul, that if he wouldn't let me out, he'd at least let me end. And Lucifer laughed. Laughed and laughed."

"I remember," Sam says, quietly.

"I don't know where he's going, but I think you do."

"He won't be able to find me," Sam says, trying to sound more sure than he is. "The— this place, it's warded six ways to Sunday." Shit. "Dean," he says, looking up at his brother.

Dean turns from CNN, where something dark and billowing is eclipsing the sun over the ocean. "Sam?"

"We need to angelproof, now," Sam says, stumbling to his feet.

In his ear Michael says, softly, "Where else would he go?"

What the Weather Channel is calling 'a sizable cloud of volcanic debris, possibly Kamchatkan in origin', leaps across the ocean and veers south along the coast of Nova Scotia.

"Sam, this place is as tight as we can make it," Dean says, red paint spattered all along his hands and forearms, drips and drabs on the tops of his boots. There's a streak near his hairline that looks like an open wound. "And all the angel-grace stuff is gone, right? He probably can't even—"

"I know that, okay? I know," Sam says, adding a savage slash to the bottom of an Enochian symbol.

"If anyone cares, it's moving inland," Crowley calls from upstairs.

Sam trips and almost falls running up the stairs, but Dean grabs his arm and hauls him up. "I got you, Sam."

"Thanks," Sam says, and keeps running.

"It's like… a big, angry raincloud," Kevin says, watching as it spits ash and small gouts of flame over Carthage, Missouri. The local news crew is shouting to be heard over the gale-force winds. "Why are we afraid of the angry raincloud?"

The coal-dark underbelly of the cloud roils, briefly exposing a core of pure fire. It looks like an entrance to the Pit, and underneath the blankets draped over his shoulders Sam shudders.

"Oh," Kevin says. "Okay then."

It lingers over Lawrence, prowling around the city limits for hours. The mayor declares a state of emergency and makes plans for mass evacuation.

"It's not even doing anything," Charlie says, sitting with her knees drawn up to her chest. They've turned out most of the lights and dragged mattresses from the unused rooms into the hallway outside, where the other three have passed out. Whenever Crowley starts snoring too loudly, Kevin kicks him in the back.

Sam doesn't reply, and she says, "I mean, shouldn't it be smiting people or something?"

"I don't… think he can," Sam says slowly, gazing meditatively at Fox News' increasingly hysterical late-night anchor. "Have you noticed? The cloud's getting smaller."

"Yeah," she says. "And lighter. Is it— he getting weaker?"

"God I hope so," Dean mutters tiredly, crawling into the room. He sits down and slumps over, sagging full-body into Sam in a way that's probably supposed to be annoying. "Shift change, bitch."

"Get off me, it's been three hours," Sam says, leaning into it even as he nudges Dean in the ribs. The body heat feels fantastic.

"You should get some sleep," Dean grumps, looping yet another blanket over Sam's head and tucking it closed under his chin. "Are you hungry?"

Sam nudges him again. "It's two in the morning, Nanny Diaries." Predictably, Dean flips him off.

"You realize where it's headed next," Charlie says suddenly, still watching the screens.

Dean and Sam give her blank looks.

"Do you two even read your books?" she huffs. "Honestly."

Sam comes to a decision halfway through a pile of scrambled egg whites and toast, staring at the smaller, almost pitiful-looking storm that limps into Detroit at daybreak, churning sullenly around the top of the Renaissance Center.

"Sam, seriously, you've been up twenty-four hours now," Dean says, trying to tug the plate away from him. "Go to bed, man."

Sam let him have it and staggers to his feet, swaying in place for a moment while his body decides if it wants to stay up or go down.

"Can't," he says, waiting for his vision to stop swimming. "Need you to drive me somewhere."

Dean follows his gaze to the television and says, "Fuck no."


"Fuck no," Dean says, narrowing his eyes. "No fucking way."

Crowley, cheek still creased from sleep and hair sticking straight up on one side, says, "If I may interject—"

"No," Sam and Dean say simultaneously.

"I wasn't actually asking," Crowley retorts. "I'd hoped this could go without saying, but you need all the allies you can get if you actually intend to do something about the Metatron. Certainly you want Michael, which I assume is why Charlie went through the trouble of sending Adam Mulligan's personal documents to Yekaterinburg."

Sam cuts a look at Dean. He might not be running at a hundred percent, but that doesn't mean he appreciates being kept out the loop.

"And most of your other potential allies probably died on impact, dear Castiel among them." Crowley shrugs, as if to say, oh well. "Why not at least try to reason with the devil?"

"Maybe because he's a psychopathic murdering son of a bitch?" Dean says, looking at Sam as he speaks.

"I know that better than you," Sam says quietly. "I still… I think I should try."

"You're probably the only one who has a chance of doing it," Crowley chimes in.

"Goddamn it, Sam," Dean says, rubbing a hand over his face.

"It's not like I can stay here until he disappears," Sam says, pointing at the television showing MSNBC. The storm appears to almost perch on the building, glowering down at the waterfront.

"Are you kidding?" Dean asks. "That's exactly what you should do. I like that plan. That's a great plan."

"I'll get Charlie to take me," Sam threatens.

"Sorry," Charlie yawns, sitting up from her mattress. "I'm with Dean on this one. Plus, I'm pretty sure my insurance doesn't cover sentient murder-clouds."

"Go to bed, Sam," Dean says firmly, and when Sam opens his mouth to argue, Dean grabs him and practically carries him there.

Despite himself, Sam does sleep. He wakes up a few hours later with his jeans digging uncomfortably into his stomach, unbuttons them and promptly falls asleep again.

When he wakes up for good and drags himself out into the hallway, everything is quiet. He steps silently past Charlie and Kevin in the TV room, creeps around Crowley sacked out on the den couch, and finds Dean drooling on an enormous red tome at one of the library tables. Sam risks laying one of the ubiquitous blankets over him, because two can play at that game, and slips outside.

When he gets to the road, he calls Garth.

"Hey, Sam!" he says cheerfully. "How's it going? I'm kinda-sorta in your neck of the woods. I don't know if you've heard, but there's this weirdo thunderhead or something floating over downtown Detroit—"

"About that," Sam says.

Garth picks him up less than an hour later, bright afternoon sun lancing through the trees to dapple the forest floor.

"This is wild," Garth says excitedly, flooring it down the narrow back roads. "I mean, the actual devil— that's a little before my time, but the stories, man—"

While Garth babbles, Sam streams live video on his satellite phone. Hugging the top floors of the central tower, the storm seems very small now, flinching back from the circling police helicopters that edge too close.

"Our ETA should be about three," Garth says, pushing his ridiculous sunglasses up. "How's Dean's hunt going, anyway?"

Sam bites his lip. "He should be fine."

Garth eyes Sam, but doesn't call him out on the obvious lie; the Impala had been sitting right there, after all. Instead, he launches into a long, involved story about Ottawa hicks, an illegal still and the Canadian version of the Loch Ness Monster, and it makes Sam laugh so hard he's gasping for the better part of two states.

Unsurprisingly, they get waved off the main expressway into the city by stern-eyed traffic cops and diverted into a truly awful part of town, where it's easy enough to slip into an alley between crack dens and creep into the heart of the mostly-deserted city.

"I think this is as far as we get on wheels," Garth says, slowing to a stop under an underpass, half a block from an actual army barricade. Above them looms the Renaissance Center, the tallest central tower crowned in a mass of darkness. Sam's been avoiding looking at it as long as possible, and raises his eyes reluctantly. It's smaller than it was, true, but it's still easily half as big as the tower itself, dense smoke and fire that flickers like lightning through its folds. Sam wonders for the first time if he's looking at Lucifer's actual form, or if it's all cover and camouflage.

"Thanks, Garth," Sam says, climbing unsteadily out of the car. His phone, when he checks it, has five missed calls and three times as many texts, ranging in exclamation marks and incoherence from pissed to blindly fratricidal. The last one says simply, /coming to get u, dont die/.

"You're welcome, chief," Garth says. "You got a plan to get past the National Guard over there?"

As it turns out, they don't need one. A news crew pulls right up to the barricade and provides a nice, noisy distraction that's all Sam and Garth need to sneak past the Humvees and into the complex's enormous underground parking garage. The elevators aren't working, not even the freight elevators, and Garth says, "We'll go to the top of one of side buildings, then. It's probably safer anyway, since it's not directly under Satan's butt."

Sam gives him a tired look. "That still has to be forty stories."

"Thirty-nine," Garth says. "I checked."

"Oh, only thirty-nine, well, we'll be fine then," Sam says, but he turns to push open the stairwell door.

Realistically, it probably only takes them about a minute per floor, but it feels like eons when Sam collapses in a sweaty, panting heap against the thirty-ninth floor's door to the roof. It's locked, of course.

"Sam, are you," huff, "sure you're," wheeze, "okay to do this?" Garth gasps, on his hands and knees next to the stairs. ""cause, you know, you didn't look so hot even when I," huff, "picked you up. And now you look even worse— no offense— and I don't want Dean to murder me."

"'M good," Sam groans, feeling anything but. The low drone of the helicopters has been getting louder the higher they climbed, and now Sam can hear the wind howling too, the grumble of thunder. He smells something like ozone in the air, though it's not as pure as that: it's the smell of air burning so hot it shades to cold, of bone-ash and brimstone.

"Garth, I need you to stay in here. No matter what, stay in here, okay?" Sam says, struggling to breathe around it and the ache in his lungs. Garth looks torn, and Sam presses on. "He won't kill me, but he might kill you."

"How do you know that?" Garth says— yells, to be heard over the wind. "How do you know he won't just—" He mimes smashing. "— like King Kong? Sam, I really don't want Dean to murder me, he'll get all creative—"

The door shudders in its frame, and Sam jerks back from it just as a second blow bows the steel inwards. Sam scuttles back as quickly as he can, and on the other side something roars.

"Should we run?" Garth shouts.

The answer is probably yes, but they don't have time. Sam pulls Garth behind him just as the door is broken off its hinges, and smoke pours into the small space.

It's thick and acrid, and Sam's eyes are watering too badly to make out more than vague shapes in the gloom, but he does see the talons reaching for them— just in time to shove Garth back. They close around his waist, cruelly, crushingly tight.

Sam can't see. Wind whips past him, smoke sticks in his throat and makes him cough raggedly, the absolute darkness interspersed with flashes of light so bright they blind him, afterimages in the shape of scales and eyes and teeth. His stomach lurches as he's pulled up, endlessly up, ears popping violently at the suddenness of it. He might scream, but he if he does he can't hear himself above the din. It's so loud.

And as soon as he has the thought, it gets very quiet.

Sam is set down, not gently, but… not as hard as he'd expected, and the bands of pressure around his middle ease away. He takes a breath, and it's so hot it sears his throat all the way down, but the second isn't so bad. He'd thrown a futile arm over his face, and now he lowers it.

The first thing he sees is an eye, huge pupil dilating wide in a field of cold gold. It's almost as tall as he is, set deep in a bony black head two times longer than the Impala. Above them, horns scores of feet long spiral backwards into wicked points. Sam is standing on pearl-white gravel, and dust plumes when Lucifer exhales. The air is thin and wavers with heat, and when Sam tilts his head back, he isn't at all surprised to see the vast spread of soot-colored wings arching into the sky.

"Aren't you supposed to be red?" he asks, as steadily as he can. "'Having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads'?"

Lucifer snorts fire, and Sam lifts his arm again to shield against the brightness.

The air is clearing, as if the storm is somehow being funneled away— or condensed, Sam thinks, seeing a long serpentine tail emerge where nothing had been before.

"Malleable," Sam murmurs, watching the tip flick back and forth. "Right."

He looks back in alarm when a basso growl reverberates across the roof. Lucifer lifts his massive head, twenty, thirty feet into the air, angling it to follow a helicopter that's venturing closer. He hisses at it, mantling like an angry bird, and his teeth are just as black and thorny as the rest of his body.

"How about that," Sam hears himself say distantly, the majority of his mind long reduced to gibbering terror. "Your tongue is still forked."

Lucifer's head tips down to him, and he blinks.

"Listen," Sam says. "We need to get out of here. And I—" His throat is so dry his voice catches. "I need to— we should talk. And we can't do that with the police here, and you in the body of a…" He can't finish that sentence. Some tiny bit of trivia darts through his mind, that dinosaur literally means thunder lizard, and Sam has to fight down the insane urge to giggle.

Another helicopter, this one painted in camouflage, makes a pass and Lucifer snaps at it, hunching down into the gravel. Sam takes a breath for courage and grabs the ridge over one eye, using his weight to tug at it. Lucifer jerks and snarls like a nightmare tiger, pupil narrowing to a tiny slit.

"Be human," Sam tells him, hysteria bubbling up in his chest, because Lucifer is a fucking dragon, and they're going to be shot at, or at the very least make world-wide headlines, if Sam can't get his scaly ass off this fucking roof. "You're attracting too much attention, so be human. I know you know how."

Lucifer knocks him back with a careless toss of his head and Sam stumbles, landing on his tailbone. "Shit!"

Sam glares up at him and Lucifer steps back, making an odd chuffing sound.

Then the hulking black mass of him explodes.

Perhaps that's not the right word for it. Sam claps his hands over his ears and drops into the gravel with the very real fear he might be blown off the building, but all the wind is rushing inwards, smoke and scales coalescing into the form with two arms, two legs. A head. His eyes stream tears but Sam stares, and the shape becomes more and more familiar, until he sucks in a breath and says, "No."

For a split second his own face looks out at him from the maelstrom, and then it shifts again. Thickset brows, blond hair, broad hands. When Sam thinks that's not right, his jaw was longer, the flaw fixes itself, and a passable imitation of Lucifer's former vessel becomes a crystal-sharp mirror image with breathtaking suddenness.

Last of all, gold rolls over to muddy blue, and Lucifer is immediately moving towards Sam, hands reaching for him. Castiel had been stiff and uncomfortable in his body when Sam first met him, like a puppet with very short strings. Lucifer moves gracefully in this shape, and Sam climbs quickly to his feet; it says volumes that Sam is much less willing to be in a position of submission with this version of Lucifer.

"Something is wrong," Lucifer says, and he grabs Sam's shoulders. "Very wrong."

"Yes," Sam says. "The Metatron—"

"There's something threaded through you, knotted and tangled in your soul. What happened?" he asks.

Sam stares at him, surprised. "I…"

One hand grips Sam's chin, and it hurts but his hold is nothing superhuman. "What did you do to yourself?"

A chopper buzzes the roof and Lucifer looks up warily. Sam yanks himself free and wraps a hand around Lucifer's wrist (it feels like flesh, and nothing like the biting cold he remembers), stepping around him and tugging him towards the door to the stairwell, still hanging off its hinges. Garth, peering out from around the corner, gives him a hesitant wave.

Lucifer tries to balk, but the only weight he has now is a normal human's, and Sam is stronger. For once, Sam is stronger. "I'll tell you everything," Sam promises, dragging him along. "But we need to get out of here."

"Sam—" Lucifer protests as he almost trips over the threshold.

"Later," Sam insists, and pulls him inside.