Samifer Week 2013 #4: Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sweet Child Of Mine

Pairings: Samifer (SamxLucifer), Destiel (DeanxCastiel)
Ratings: Teen
Warnings: de-aged!Dean, very minor Game of Thrones spoilers (mostly about Loras and Renly) and the names of the direwolves, language
Words: 18,050
My Tumblr: talesfromperdition

Notes: Title is from "Sweet Child o Mine" by Guns and Rose. The other song is "Lady" by Styx.

One minute, Lucifer was brushing snow off of the igloo the pair of them made to have some sort of shelter in the coldest part of the cage. The snow fell constantly, and if one of them didn't periodically clear the snow away, the weight would collapse the roof. It was Adam's turn to fix it should it cave in again. It took Adam three times as long to do anything – even though Michael and Lucifer were barely more than human in the cage anyway – than it took the archangels, and Lucifer found it was easier to spend an hour out in the cold than it was to spend two days freezing inside their shelter because Adam was incompetent.

Anyway, one minute, Lucifer was raging in his head and the next minute, he was overcome with a feeling of homesickness more powerful than he had ever felt before and the snow stopped.

It hadn't stopped snowing in the cage once since Death pulled Sam Winchester's soul from the pit. It was lighter sometimes, sure, but the snow didn't get lighter this time. It just stopped all at once. Lucifer looked out over the frozen wasteland, then he raised his head.

The sky was always overcast – it was always snowing, after all – but now, the sky was clear. The night's sky was marked with shooting stars.

No, not shooting stars…

Lucifer heard the crunch of snow behind him and asked, "Michael, is that…?"

Michael was standing in the snow near him. He must have felt the same empty pit Lucifer had felt in his Grace and had come outside to check it out. The brothers were quiet for a long moment, but then Michael whispered. "Yes, Lucifer. The angels are falling."

The archangels coexisted out of necessity. Lucifer hadn't forgiven Michael for casting him out, and Michael stayed true to his belief that he was justified in his actions. But they had been locked up together for a long time. For a brief moment, Lucifer thought this could bind them together again – that he would get the brother he so loved back – but then Adam walked out, eyes lifting to the sky before walking to Michael's side.

Michael wrapped his arm over Adam's shoulder, and Lucifer turned back to brushing the snow off the roof with his hands.

Time didn't happen in the cage like it happened out there. Lucifer wasn't sure the exact amount of time had passed, but it wasn't long after the angels fell that he heard groaning. The archangel's eyes shot open – they didn't need to sleep, but Michael would curl up next to Adam to keep him warm, so Lucifer really didn't have anything else to do but close his eyes and learned to master the fine art of falling unconscious – but it wasn't either of the other two entities in the cage. He almost thought he imagined it, but then it happened again.

The angel radio had been cut off in the cage back when there had been angels, but some of the prayers leaked through. Usually it was teenagers playing at being Satanists, using his name around their friends to seem cool. But this was different. Lucifer had seen enough humans die to know the sound. And he had heard that sound escape those lips too many times to count.

There weren't guardian angels. Not really. Angels were fierce. They were warriors and lawyers (and cupids, but did they really count? Lucifer didn't think so). But the guardian myth came from a vessel's direct connection to their angel. An angel always heard all of the prayers made by their vessel. The myth came about when angels started playing favorites, protecting and favoring their vessels' bloodlines.

Lucifer had never had the pleasure of swooping down to save Sam whenever he prayed during the middle of a fight – he'd been stuck in the cage for almost all of Sam's life after all – but he had heard every prayer, even the ones directed at Castiel. And Lucifer's little brother was the only one Sam had ever prayed to since he got out of the cage.

Nobody asked him if it hurt, knowing his true vessel only prayed to another angel. But either way, the answer was yes. It did hurt. Astronomically.

And Lucifer couldn't figure out why Sam never prayed to him, why he never came to get him out of the cage. He didn't understand what had happened when they had once been so…

"Are you there?" Sam's voice was weak, even in Lucifer's head. "Are any of you left out there?"

Lucifer wanted to answer, but prayers were a one-way street.

Sam continued with, "Cas, can you hear me? Dean doesn't think you can, but… but, if you can, we're home. You know where that is. Come find us. Dean's worried sick. And I'm…"

The younger Winchester didn't go on, but he didn't need to. Lucifer could tell. Sam wasn't tired or wounded; he was sick. It was something more than a head-cold or a taint of demon blood on his soul. It was so much worse than that. Something had happened, and Lucifer had failed to protect his vessel once again. He wasn't there to help him, and he wouldn't be there to heal him.

Lucifer looked over at Michael and Adam. His brother swore up and down he never fell asleep, but young John Winchester's back rose and fell in a perfect imitation of a human sleeping. Lucifer rolled over, facing the icy wall of the igloo, and he didn't fall asleep.

Since it hadn't snowed since the angels fell, Lucifer tried moving snow on the ground to get to the grass buried underneath. Unfortunately, he was powerless in the cage, so he couldn't even make himself a shovel to ease his progress.

He was on his knees, lifting handfuls of snow to put them in piles.

Michael and Adam were gone – finding branches to try and burn in their fire – when Lucifer heard Sam again. He still sounded like death was holding his hand but not taking him anywhere just yet, and Lucifer wished he was topside so he could punch the old man in the face and tell him to back off his true vessel.

"Hey, are you there?" Sam only sounded slightly better, and Lucifer wondered what he got himself up to that caused him to heal so slowly. Then he remembered the angels falling and of course his vessel would have something to do with that. "Dean's going out of his head, man. He's got this half-cocked idea about taking Metatron down because he thinks it'll get you your Grace back, and then you'll be able to find us. He says it's for me – so you can save me, again – but it's not for me, Cas. He needs you. Well, I mean, I need you too, but not like he does. I mean, I still need you, but not like… you know… sexually… ugh."

Lucifer let out a bark of laughter at Sam's frustration, and he raised his eyes to the cloudy sky, imagining he could look through it and see his vessel all red-faced and embarrassed.

"Thank God you can't hear this," Sam admitted, the sickness in his voice dying just slightly with the humor. "The last thing I need right now is you popping up and demanding to know what I meant by Dean needing you sexually. As if you don't know, you freaking idiot."

Sam was quiet, then, and Lucifer figured the prayer was over, so he started digging again. He hadn't realized it, but the sun had broken through the clouds as he dug. It wasn't until he felt the back of his neck, warm for the first time since Sam's soul left the cage, that he noticed the sun at all.

"Are any of you left? Can any of you hear me? If even one of you can hear me, I could really use your help right now."

Lucifer stood back up and held his hand out, blocking out the sun as he tried to look at it.

The third time Lucifer had heard Sam, he had been sleeping in the igloo. The laws of the cage were not the same as the laws of nature, so despite the fact that there was only an inch or two of snow left un-melted on the ground, the igloo didn't so much as drip. He figured that had something to do with Adam. The cage could be manipulated by particularly strong thoughts and emotions – at least, Sam had been able to do it in his not-so-brief stay – and Adam's thoughts clung to the shelter to protect it despite the heat outside.

Why he chose now to love the shelter instead of the past zillion years when they had to keep rebuilding the damn igloo when it collapsed because of the snow was a mystery to Lucifer, but when in doubt, he tended to blame Adam.

It was safer than blaming Michael and starting a fight… even though blaming Adam really meant blaming Michael, but whatever.

Anyway, Lucifer had been asleep in the igloo, when a surprised yelp of "Oh, my God," woke him up. Sam sounded more concerned than sick, but whatever happened to him before clung to his body and soul like a cancer, and he still wasn't getting better. There was a pause, and then Sam prayed, "What do I do? I need help!"

This, Lucifer could tell, was not a prayer to Castiel asking for his specific help. This was a general cry, the kind that people made when they noticed too late that they wouldn't have time to slam on their breaks before they hit the other car or kid who had run out to chase the ball. This was the stuff that made people believe the guardian angel myth, when an angel played favorites among a bloodline and took mercy and saved.

Lucifer crawled out of the igloo. It was dark; there was no moon and no stars in the sky. The snow was gone, and except for the structure behind him, it looked like the first few days of spring.

The archangel had had a near infinite amount of time before Lilith's blood broke the last seal to look for a door the first time around. This time, he hadn't bothered to try. There was, he knew, no way out of the cage. But Sam was still whispering words under his breath, all "Please" and "help" and "I don't know how to do this" and Lucifer wasn't going to sit here any longer.

He failed Sam his entire life. He had never once been there to protect him, to favor him. But that was going to change tonight.

Lucifer was going to break out of the cage, and he was going to help his vessel.

When he heard the laugh behind him, he froze. It could be snowing again, the way the burning inside of him turned his extremities cold. His hands balled into fists, but he wouldn't turn around. He wouldn't give him the satisfaction of acknowledging him.

"If you want to help him," the man behind him said. "Then maybe it's time that I helped you."

Once topside, it took no time to locate Sam because he was still praying quietly. His every thought was a broadcast, and they led Lucifer to his vessel like a beacon. He could have zapped himself right into the Men of Letters' bunker, but he thought it would be rude.

Instead, he found himself pounding on the reinforced door, not completely sure how deep into the hill the base went and whether or not Sam could even hear him. He heard the locks sliding back from their places. Lucifer took in a breath. He heard Sam before he saw him.

"Thank God, Charlie. I have no idea how to –" Sam caught sight of Lucifer – well, a seemingly restored Nick-shell with Lucifer inside – and his mouth opened to say something and remained that way. Lucifer wanted to speak, but he found himself unable to think of words that could describe what he was feeling. He was almost there when Sam shoved his whole body weight against the heavy door and tried to slam it in the archangel's face.

He might have done it if Lucifer hadn't stuck his hand out, keeping the door open despite the human's desperate attempts to shut him out.

"Why didn't you get me out of there, Sam? I thought that…"

"This isn't possible. This can't be happening. Not now." Sam pushed against the door again, but his weak body was no match for Lucifer's Grace even when he was healthy. The human certainly didn't stand a chance as sick as he was.

"I'm here to help," Lucifer frowned, but he didn't push the door further open. He could have blown it off its hinges, but he knew that wouldn't work. He just wanted to talk. He just wanted to keep Sam from shutting him out long enough to convince him he had no ill intent. "I swear to you, Sam. You prayed for help, so I came."

"I didn't pray to…" Sam started, but he trailed off. For a moment, Lucifer thought that he was going to relent and hear him out, but that would have been too easy. Instead, the hunter's eyes, which had been ablaze with fury a moment ago, calmed and then blurred out of focus. When his eyes started rolling back toward his skull, Lucifer pushed the door the rest of the way open, catching his vessel before he collapsed on the floor.

The archangel lifted the hunter easily, carrying him into the bunker. He was standing in what looked like a briefing room when he realized Sam's bedroom could be anywhere. He thought about calling to Dean – he couldn't believe the older Winchester would leave his precious baby brother alone when he was so sick – but he remembered being shot in the head with the Colt and thought that reunion should wait as long as possible.

Or at least until he had Sam safe in bed.

He picked the first door on the left.

It was a bedroom, but Lucifer didn't think it was Sam's. Instead, a child of about four was standing on the floor next to the bed wearing a white t-shirt that was obviously for an adult the way the hem rested on the floor. He had a sawed-off shotgun in his hand, and it was aimed at Lucifer's head.

"You put my Sammy down right now or I'll blow your fucking head off."

Lucifer might have laughed if he wasn't worried that the kid would shoot and accidentally hit Sam in the process. Instead, he took in the pint-sized menace – the freckles, the green eyes – and Lucifer raised his eyebrow. "Dean?"

"Did I fucking stutter?" The kid growled. "Put my brother on the bed and get out of here."

Lucifer looked down at the thirty-year-old man in his arms, the four-year-old in the t-shirt turned dress, and then the bed. With a sigh, the archangel laid Sam down on the bed gently, even taking the time to pull the covers back and then over Sam. He leaned up slowly, holding his arms up in surrender. Dean gestured for him to walk around the bed with the gun, aim dropping to the larger area of Lucifer's chest.

The archangel moved around the bed, closer toward the door, before he started pleading his case. "Listen, Dean. You need to tell me how Sam got sick so I can –"

The gun went off. Even though it was only salt rounds, Lucifer knew it would have hurt if he were human. The baby hunter didn't act surprised that the archangel hadn't flinched. He just glared at him and said, "Get walking."

"I can help him."

"You're bad. You hurt Sammy," Dean said, sounding for the first time like a child of his physical age. "And I want you to leave before my dad…" The child faltered for a minute, confused. Then he growled, tears in his eyes and yelled, "Get out!"

"Dean, I never hurt your brother."

Lucifer didn't need to abide by what Dean said. He was an archangel, and the hunter wasn't much more than a baby. The pair of them stared at each other for a few, long moments. The archangel looked at Sam – he could feel his heartbeat, his breathing – he would be able to feel if the hunter got worse. He hated the thought of Sam in pain, but it would be worth it in the long run to heal Sam with consent. Frowning, Lucifer turned and walked back through the bunker.

He felt the gun aimed at his back the entire time, but Dean didn't shoot. He opened the door, but paused before stepping out. "Sam is really sick, Dean, and I can help him."

"We don't want your help."

"If… if he gets worse, call me. Write a letter to me in your head, and if you say my name first, I'll hear it. And I'll come in and I'll help."

"I said we don't want your help, and I ain't going to pray to the devil. Just get out of here."

The archangel walked out of the door and shut it behind him. When Lucifer sat down on the bunker's steps, he heard the locks sliding back in to place behind him.

Lucifer was lying in the grass up the hill, near the front door of the bunker. It was night once again. It was cold – not as cold as it had been in the cage – and the unfamiliarity of the place and the lack of cover meant he wasn't able to fall unconscious. The road was thirty feet from him, and beyond that, there was a clearing before a forest. The archangel kept his hands against his stomach, listening to the sounds the insects made. Fireflies danced, and Lucifer watched as the bats swooped low to try and catch bugs.

It was some time after midnight that Lucifer heard the car approaching. It was still a ways away, but it was approaching fast – too fast to be someone stopping this far out into the woods – and Lucifer remained on his back in the grass near the door, looking up at the sky.

It was a clear night, but there weren't any stars.

The car was about to race past the bunker when it slammed on its breaks. There was the sound of impact, and an animalistic whine. Lucifer sat up, eyes finding the car easily in the darkness. The reverse lights came on, and after some fumbling, the car drove away.

It wasn't until the vehicle was gone that the archangel could see what had been hit. In a snap, Lucifer was off his back and on his knees at the creature's side. A coyote, female, nearly two years old, one week pregnant with her first litter.

She was bloody, a whine coming deep in her throat, and she was covered in blood. Lucifer couldn't even tell where, exactly, she was bleeding from. His hands hovered above her fur for a moment, eyes scanning for a place where she wasn't injured, before settling down on her head.

Her eyes were huge, and she barely had the strength to move her head to look at him.

The archangel didn't have a heart – he was celestial wavelength – but he knew heartache. His brother kicked him out of his home, he had been denied by the person who was created for him more than once, and now, this creature was dying because of one of his Father's beloved human.

There was a natural order to things; Lucifer had gotten the lesson about animals dying from their Father just like every other angel did. But there was nothing natural about this.

The coldness spread throughout Lucifer's body, concentrating in his shoulder, then his elbow, then his hand. He felt the bits of his Grace leave his body, mending the smaller one lying in the center of the road. Bones grew back together, organs were repaired, flesh was closed, and as Lucifer trailed his borrowed hand down her head, over her shoulder and across her side, the blood was cleaned from her fur.

She moved her back paws, trying to shake him off so she could stand, but he paused over her belly, checking on the welfare of the litter. His Grace had reached them, too. There were five – all healthy for the current moment – and he took his hand off her.

The archangel stood and frowned down at the expecting mother. "You shouldn't go into the road. Humans are terrible beasts with no regard to anyone but themselves."

Lucifer walked back to the spot in the grass where he had been and laid down once more. A moment later, the coyote padded over to him. Her yellowish eyes found his blue ones and held his gaze. Then, she dropped her weight down next to him – her warm body flush against his side – and after a few minutes, she fell asleep.

The archangel watched the fireflies dance around them.

It was early in the morning when the archangel woke. The coyote's head was resting against his chest, and he ran his fingers through her fur for a few minutes before he had to sit up. He couldn't believe he had fallen asleep, especially in an unfamiliar place where there was real danger – namely, a pint-sized hunter who probably had a whole stack of angel blades in his closet – but his eyes were open, so no harm done.

There was a dull, familiar pain in his side. The archangel lifted his shirt to examine Nick's flesh. When he had been brought up again yesterday, the burns had been healed. It must have been a Band-Aid, a fresh start but not a cure. It looked like Nick still couldn't contain him – not for long anyway – and he already had a sore forming.

The coyote turned toward the front door and growled. Lucifer put his shirt back down and followed her line of sight. It was only then he appreciated how stupid he had been to fall asleep.

Dean was sitting on the step of the bunker, still in an oversized shirt, with an angel blade resting across his lap. He was looking out at the road – not at the archangel and the coyote – but once Lucifer stood, Dean refocused his attention. He used the blade to gesture toward the road.

"What happened?"

The archangel might have healed the animal, might have cleaned her up, but he forgot the road. Looking at it now, he was surprised she had been alive enough to heal at all. There was a line between healing and resurrecting a soul, and the archangel leaned over to pet the coyote.

She nuzzled into his hand, and Dean frowned. "D'you save it?"

"Her, Dean. Not it," Lucifer said. "She's going to have pups."

The first night Lucifer had seen the de-aged hunter, he had been too worried about Sam to look into Dean's problem, but he could see it now. His soul was usually bright, but it was shrouded by a vice. Someone, some angel, had put their Grace into Dean. It squeezed around the soul. Lucifer didn't know how, or why, but the Grace certainly was the cause of it somehow.

There were parts that were undeniably still Dean – no four-year-old should be that accurate with a shotgun – but there were other parts that were more basic, more child-like, and that took over. For a moment, Dean Winchester wasn't a hunter, but he was the person he was when he really was four, excited to learn that an animal would be having puppies.

He stood from his stoop, angel blade clinking against the cement, forgotten. "Can I have one?"

"I'm not sure," Lucifer said. "She isn't a dog. She's a coyote – a wild animal – and people don't usually keep them as pets."

"But, Sammy would love a doggy," Dean exclaimed, walking timidly toward the animal. He held out his hand, and Lucifer squatted down, patting the coyote and mimicking comforting sounds to her. With Lucifer there, she allowed the child to pet her fur, but looked ready to bolt if he suddenly got too rough. "Sammy is my little brother. He's a baby, but he's okay."

"I know your brother," Lucifer admitted.

"How?" Dean looked up, amazement in his big, green eyes. "You are a stranger. I dunno know…" The child frowned, eyes narrowing. "I know… You are… You…"

"I'm Lucifer, Dean," the archangel said. "Do you remember me?"

"Yes," the human whined, taking a step back from Lucifer and the coyote. "You hurt my brother. You hurt Sammy."

"I swear that I never hurt your brother. I would never hurt him."

"But he… he was sick with you in the head," Dean was still frowning, hands rising to press into his temples. For a moment, Lucifer thought he was just frustrated until he staggered back, and he realized Dean was in pain. "He said you did mean things to him when he was gone."

"I swear, Dean," the archangel repeated. "I came here to help him."

"He won't wake up. I shake and poke and yell all night and he won't wake up," Dean looked up, struggling. "You save him like you save the dog?"

"Coyote, but yes, I will. But you need to let me inside the bunker," Lucifer stood. "I need to touch him to help him."

"Yes," Dean was struggling. The tiny body was shaking to stay in control. "Inside. You go." There was a sudden change, almost like a crack of lightning, and the Grace on Dean's soul squeezed a little tighter. Dean was a wide-eyed child again. He smiled up at Lucifer and asked, "Can we bring your doggy inside, too?"

The coyote actually provided a welcome distraction for Dean. He was content to sit in the corner in his room, rubbing his hands and face all over her fur. For a wild animal, she took to the human with grace, nudging him with her nose and thumping her tail against the floor like she was some domesticated breed.

Lucifer sat on the edge of the bed, resting a hand over Sam's shoulder, trying to access the damage and how to fix it.

"What's her name?" Dean asked from the corner.

"Coyotes don't differentiate among pack members with special calls like primates, dolphins, and certain species of birds do."


Lucifer sighed and looked at the boy in the corner. "She doesn't have a name."

Dean looked at the coyote, then back up at the archangel. By the expression on his face, the baby hunter thought that it was a crime that the animal wasn't named, but Lucifer turned back to the sick Winchester. Up close, he could see the failed trials consuming his body, but Lucifer could take that away.

The skin on Sam's shoulder was warm, and the poison was warm in Lucifer's cold body as he sucked it into his own essence. It wrapped around his Grace, tainting it as it had marked Sam's soul, but Lucifer was used to living with his Grace fractured. As the last traces of it left the human's body, he started to awaken.

His eyes remained closed as his hands came up to wash over his face. He groaned, "What happened?"

"Luci let me play with his dog!" Dean cried from the other side of the room. "But she doesn't have a name, yet."

Sam's eyes shot open, ignoring the childish outburst to find Lucifer's pale eyes above him. The hunter's mouth was open, but he seemed at a loss for something to say, so Lucifer smiled.

"I didn't tell him to call me that."

"You're not real," Sam insisted, fighting with the blankets to free himself, but he was exhausted, and by the time he was standing on the other side of the bed, he was panting. He realized too late he was weaponless, but still tried to adapt a fighting pose. "You are not real."

"Sam, whatever you think happened between us didn't happen," Lucifer held his hands up in surrender. He was in the same spot he had been the last time he raised his hands like this, but this time there wasn't a four-year-old aiming a gun at him. This seemed so much more dangerous than that. "I would never hurt you. I did everything I could to protect you in the cage, and we were happy for a while. Don't you remember?"

"In the cage…" Sam started strong, but he frowned and didn't go on.

"It started snowing when you left, Sam. It started snowing and it didn't stop until the angels fell. What happened up here? How did the angels fall?"

For a second, the archangel and his vessel looked at one another, trying to read the others' body language to find out some truth. In the end, it was shattered by Dean who suddenly gave a ferocious wail. For a second, Lucifer thought the coyote had bit him, but the child threw his arms around her body, burying his face in her fur.

It took Sam almost a minute to pry Dean from the coyote, and he only let go of her fur when Lucifer chastised him for hurting her. Instead, he clung to his brother's giant body while his tiny frame shook.

They didn't ask what was wrong. What wasn't wrong with everything that had happened in the past couple of days?

Eventually, they managed to make out a handful of words between the blubbering; "my angel felled" and "Cas" were the most important ones.

Lucifer could sense Sam's hostility, his distrust and even his fear-born hatred, but the archangel couldn't worry about all that now, because despite everything he felt from the hunter, he hadn't been kicked out of the bunker. And once Dean had cried himself to sleep, Sam poured Lucifer some of the day-old coffee from the pot before the pair of them sat down at the kitchen table to figure out how to fix Dean.

Lucifer examined Dean – he couldn't take away or give anything that would make the hunter his regular age again – but he could conclusively say it was caused by the divine intervention of the Grace that was wrapped around the kid's soul. He couldn't tell if the Grace was stunting the soul or preserving it, but either way, there weren't a ton of angels left.

Namely, there were three angels left. One of them was still in the cage, and Lucifer sure as hell didn't do it.

"We need to find C-A-S," Lucifer said to Sam. The Winchesters were sitting next to each other at the table in the library eating dinner. Well, Sam was sitting. Dean was on his knees, half leaning over the table because he couldn't reach his Lucky Charms if he was sitting on his butt. (Which he had eaten for all three meals today. When Lucifer poured him the last bowl, Sam put his foot down and said a kid couldn't be raised on cereal alone and tomorrow all of them were having appropriate, home cooked foods for each meal.)

Lucifer was sitting on the floor next to the still nameless coyote. She had taken to the bunker, especially the puffy bed Lucifer had made for her, just like Dean had taken to the clothes that Lucifer had conjured up for him that morning. The baby hunter nearly swooned when the archangel asked him what shirt he wanted and then held out a Batman t-shirt as if by magic. Dean had been requesting stuff all day just to watch Lucifer create it. He finally stopped when Sam turned on the radio. Instead, Dean hummed along between mouthfuls.

Lucifer looked up from the floor and continued, "He's the only one who can tell us what happened in heaven. I can't exactly go up there blind."

"Sometimes he can spell," Sam hissed, but he had a smile on his face. Dean belted out some words that might have been right, spraying marshmallows and milk all over the table. "Besides, it's just Metatron. I thought he was a nerd."

"Yeah, well, I was just a lawyer if you say it like that."

"A lawyer who staged a rebellion and got a third of an army to switch loyalties and fight," Sam added, smile still on his face.

Lucifer just rolled his eyes. "Yeah, we fought for three days, then Jesus showed up as the Holy Spirit and single handedly thwarted us."

For a moment, Sam looked horror-stricken. Then he just looked sad, like he just found out Santa wasn't real. "Was Milton right about anything?"

"Sure," Lucifer shrugged. "There is a part of hell called Pandemonium, but I named it that after Milton came up with it. Oh, and I really did say 'Better to reign in hell, than serve in Heaven.'"

"You did?"

"Sort of. He paraphrased. What I actually said, I can't repeat in English for you now because of the young ears present."

Sam actually laughed, and it was music to Lucifer's borrowed ears. Lucifer looked down at the coyote, a smile forming on his lips without being carefully controlled. They were quiet for a long moment after that except for the music playing and Dean's soft singing, and when Lucifer looked back up at his vessel, Sam was still smiling down at him.

"You can joke about that? I always assumed you'd be a bigger stick in the mud."

When Lucifer grinned this time, he was in control of every muscle in Nick's face.

"My mommy likes this song," Dean told the men matter-of-factly, using his sleeve of his jacket to wipe up some milk he had spilled on the table. "She makes pie and sings this with me when Sammy is sleeping."

They were still trying to understand exactly what was happening with Dean. As far as Lucifer could tell, the Grace was trying to squeeze around Dean's soul and keep him bound as a four-year-old, without memories of the past thirty years, forever. Something was malfunctioning. Dean was stronger than whoever bound the two together could have realized, so occasionally, he had strong recollection of everything. This usually happened when he was stressed – like when Lucifer carried Sam in that first night – but there was something else unusual too.

The Grace would clamp down for brief periods and he would be brought back to before his mother died, completely unable to recognize his grown brother.

The most unusual thing about it was the way the Grace would ease up, allowing Dean the basic self-preserving memories: their parents were dead, Sam was the giant with the long hair, and something weird had happened to him. But still, the Grace tried to protect him from the future. When Dean did remember, the Grace struggled to gain control back. It hurt the small boy, and the Grace, Lucifer could tell, tried to soothe the soul after the moments of fighting.

"Your doggy is going to be a mommy. Since they're both mommies, can we call her my mommy's name? Her name is Mary."

Sam took a breath in, and Lucifer took one look at him before shaking his head. "She's a coyote, Dean. Not a dog. Perhaps it wouldn't be wise to have them share names. We wouldn't want anyone to be confused."

"Oh. That's true. If I say Mary my mommy might answer." Dean said. Sam shot Lucifer a grateful look, and Dean went on singing for a moment before he stopped and looked over at the angel once again. "My mommy likes this song. She said it played when her and dad got married," Dean said, but when the final chorus came on, he started singing out, "You're my Lady of the morning. Love shines in your eyes, sparkling, clear, and lovely. You're my… Lady!"

The radio host started talking, and Dean quit playing the air drums to slurp the rest of the milk from his bowl. Sam was still staring at him, but the child didn't realize it. Lucifer looked down at the coyote.

"I know," Dean said. "Let's call her Lady."

Sam seemed to finally let out the breath he'd been holding as his fingers started running through his hair. Dean hopped off the chair and padded on all fours to sit on the floor next to Lucifer. The pregnant coyote raised her head to look at him, tail thumping against the warm bed Lucifer had made for her.

Maybe he should stop correcting Dean. She obviously was more dog than coyote.

"Do you like that?" Dean asked running his hands over the fur at her back. "Do you want to be called Lady?"

The coyote turned away from Dean to look at Lucifer. The archangel lowered his head, and she pushed her head against his cheek. He wrapped his arms around her neck for a brief moment before raising his head to look back at the child. He smiled. "She likes the name Lady."

Dean howled, but he sounded more like a wolf than the yipping howl of a coyote, so Lady quickly showed him the proper way. After a few seconds, the pair of them yipped together like a pack. Lucifer didn't join in, but he didn't control the smile that formed on his face once again.

When Lucifer looked toward the table, Sam wasn't there. He was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, looking back at the trio on the floor. The archangel had watched humanity for a long time, despite what everyone thought. He wasn't thrown into the cage the instant he was cast out. No, he had plenty of time to walk among them – to corrupt them – before they finally locked him away. He knew a lot about humans and how they wore their emotions on their sleeves.

But as Lucifer looked at Sam's face, he couldn't place the expression.

After Dean had cried himself to sleep about Castiel the first night and they tried to come up with a plan, Lucifer had collapsed on the couch. Sam had stood in the doorway to his own bedroom for a long moment before offering Lucifer one of the bunkers many rooms. The archangel nodded, and Sam went off into his room, but he laid on the couch watching infomercials all night, rubbing at a spot behind Lady's ears until the Winchesters woke up again.

The second night, once Sam had put Dean to sleep, the younger Winchester walked into the living room in his sweatpants and handed over a bottle of water. He asked, "Did you sleep at all last night?" Lucifer shook his head and accepted the gift around the sleeping coyote. "Have you ever slept?"

"Sure," Lucifer huffed, uncapping the bottle. "Me, Michael, and Adam used to spoon in the cage."

"You're joking, right?"

"Of course. I'm sure the pair of them forgot I was there right after your soul left." Lucifer took a sip from the bottle, then focused his attention on screwing the cap back on. He didn't look at the man until the silence stretched past the normal boundaries of what humans considered comfortable, and then, he only raised his eyes to get a read on his vessel without reading his mind.

"What happened before my soul left? I mean, I remember it. I remember everything so clearly, and I remember you later too," the younger Winchester was looking down into his hands, and Lucifer took the time to study his face. Even healed, there were bags under his eyes; his forehead was crinkled in frustration. He looked exhausted, far more than just physically, and he was unable to meet Lucifer's borrowed eyes.

"I never saw you after Death pulled you from the cage, Sam. You have to trust me. Whatever you saw wasn't me, and whatever you remember…" Lucifer reached out, cold hand brushing over Sam's for a split second. That was all it took for Sam to pull away. He ran his hand through his hair to make it seem like he hadn't flinched, but Lucifer could tell, and it made him frown. "What do you remember?"

"Uh, no… it's nothing…"

Sam made a move to stand up, but Lucifer held out his hand once again. He didn't stop Sam – he wouldn't touch him without his permission – but he held it out, palm up. "I can show you some of the things that I remember."

"How can I trust that you'll show me the truth and not just what you want me to see?" Sam asked, but he relaxed back into the couch, worried eyes finding Lucifer's.

"I can only promise the truth, Sam, and you can only take me at my word."

Thirty seconds passed before the younger Winchester reached out his hand. His warm palm was like fire in Lucifer's hands, but he commanded Nick's fingers to grip back. He started with easy memories, Lucifer and Sam running from Michael in the cage, the pair of them hiding in damp caves. He showed Sam the moment his soul learned he could manipulate nearly every detail of the cage's environment – a fact that a human had more control than the archangel was something God found hilarious, no doubt – and he showed him the first time the tides and turned and Lucifer and Sam were hunting Michael and Adam.

He didn't show him everything, but he did as much as he could. Days without fighting when Sam would paint the sky with fireworks just because he could, days splashing in a beach that Sam had created, and days spent reading under an apple tree with a cool, fall breeze washing over them.

Lucifer couldn't bring himself show him everything – he never promised to show him everything – but he gave him what he could without feeling like he was manipulating Sam.

When the archangel stopped projecting, the hunter let his hand fall from Lucifer's grasp. He stood, and Lucifer let him walk back to his room.

The archangel didn't sleep the second night, either. He was distracted by a burn splitting the skin at Nick's shoulder.

Sam was trying to give Dean a bath early the next morning when Charlie finally arrived. She had been in Maine when Dean was first turned, but Garth had a problem with a witch in Alabama that had apparently taken precedent after Sam woke up and told her that he had some help, but still try to hurry. When she rang, Sam told Lucifer to get the door and to be nice.

The archangel frowned – when wasn't he nice? – but opened the door and allowed her in, anyway. Or would have, if she would actually come inside.

"Who are you?"

"Lucifer," he sighed. "Don't start. Sam's in the bathroom; he'll be a few minutes, so you may as well come in and wait."

Luckily, the second Charlie stepped over the threshold, Sam started yelling in the bathroom giving the archangel the perfect excuse not to entertain. By the time he got to the hall, he could hear Lady yipping and Dean laughing over Sam's yelling, and by the time he was standing in the doorway, Sam had managed to lift the soaking wet coyote out of the bathtub. She shook, spraying Sam and the walls with soapy warm water. Dean laughed; he was out of the tub with a towel wrapped around him, but he leaned over to hit the water to tempt her back in.

"Get your crazy pet out of here, Lucifer," Sam yelled. "Dean is hard enough to manage by himself."

"She isn't my pet. She's a wild animal, Sam," Lucifer said, frowning. He nodded his head toward the door. Lady didn't leave the room on Lucifer's orders as much as to get away from Sam's bad attitude, or at least, that's what the archangel told himself because she was wild and he wasn't her master. He grabbed a towel from the shelf before following her out.

He could dry her with a thought – he could clean the bathroom with just as little effort – but he wasn't exactly feeling generous. Lady beelined for her bed, but Lucifer caught up to her before she could plop down and pausing before he wrapped the towel around her. She sat on the laminate floor.

"You're still soapy," he frowned. "He could have at least washed you off first."

But with a thought, the soap was gone from the mix, and she allowed the archangel to rub the moisture out of her fur. Once she was mostly dry, the archangel put his face against her fur. She yipped at him before nuzzling back.

"Um…" Charlie started from the table. Lucifer hadn't so much forgotten she was there than he didn't care. "You said you were Lucifer?"

"I am –"

"Lady!" Dean yelled, running out from the bathroom in new clothes Lucifer had created for him. The kid ran past Charlie to wrap his arms around the coyote. "I'm sorry I got you in trouble."

"Lady?" Charlie asked, amusement finally beating out the fear in her voice. "You named your direwolf Lady, Sansa?"

"Dire wolves became extinct ten thousand years ago," Lucifer said. "You people call yourselves hunters but you can't recognize a simple…"

"Coyote," she grinned. "I got it. It was a joke, m'lady."

Lucifer looked up at her, not quite believing that she was teasing him. His eyes took in her face while his Grace peered farther, scanning for a reference and an appropriate response. It only took a second for him to frown at her. "Dean named her. I didn't think she needed a name, but I'd much rather have gone with Ghost."

Charlie was still smiling – Lucifer couldn't quite wrap his head around the fact that she was smiling at him, joking with him, when all she knew were the stories that used his name to scare children – and she said, "You would identify with Jon Snow, wouldn't you?"

"I haven't actually read them... or watched them."

Charlie gasped. "I've got them on my computer. I'll copy them over for you," the woman demanded. "Dean would love them." But Lucifer waved his hand, the series and the DVDs materializing on the floor next to him. He picked up the first book and frowning at it. It wasn't exactly kid appropriate.

When Sam came out of the bathroom, he was rubbing a towel through his own soapy hair. He almost looked like he was still sick from the trials; the stress of caring for his brother (and wasting his energy worrying about Lucifer's motivations for being there, and Lady, if the archangel had to guess) was weighing the man down. Lucifer stood when he entered the room.

"I didn't mean for you to clean up Lady's mess," Lucifer admitted.

"I know," Sam said. "But Dean yelled at me for being mean to your dog, so what was I supposed to do?"

"She isn't mine. I don't own her, and she isn't a…"

"I know, Lucifer," Sam said, the corners of his lips turning up slightly. "It's alright. Where are we on finding Cas, Charlie?"

"Cas?" Dean asked, standing up. The men looked at each other before rushing to comfort the child before he could explode. They were too late, though, and Dean's screams echoed off the concrete walls. "Where is my Cas?"

Sam picked his older brother up and did everything he could ever remember Dean doing to calm him when their roles were reversed, but it didn't work. Lucifer watched the Grace that was attached to the human's soul. The bright soul had shoved it away, but the Grace was trying to move closer. It pressed against it on one side, vibrating as the soul tried to push it away while the child wailed and cried.

Then, it closed in on the soul.

Lucifer had never seen Grace interact with a soul before. Angels who fell had their Grace torn out, not a strange mix of both, and at first, he was sure this was part of Metatron's Grace crippling the hunter.

But the Grace wasn't binding the soul. It was hugging the soul tighter and tighter until Dean forgot about Castiel, forgot about his parents dying, and then forgot about Sam. Dean calmed in what he thought to be a stranger's arms, then wiggled down so he could go back to playing with Lady.

It was only when the child was rolling a ball across the library floor for the coyote to chase that the Grace let up enough for Dean to remember the little self-preservation things.

"Wow, I'm glad I wasn't here earlier," Charlie said. "But you're right, we need to find him."

The adults started trying to make a plan to find the fallen angel, but Lucifer sat in the chair next to Sam and watched the child with the Grace attached to his soul.

Sometime before Castiel fell, he must have carved the sigils into Jimmy's ribs to keep him from being found. Lucifer couldn't locate him. On top of that, he was doing a good enough job of lying low that nothing seemed overly suspicious at first glance. If the demons had found him, they weren't talking about it, and since Lucifer promised compensation to whoever could bring him Castiel unharmed, they were all pretty chatty about where he could be.

Charlie put out an APB on the hunter network before she left to rejoin Kevin and Crowley, ("I've always wanted to say that,") but none of them had seen hide nor hair of Castiel either.

So it became a waiting game until either Castiel was found or Sam realized that Lucifer did have one other option that he was refusing to mention. Either way, the archangel was happy to play house as he waited, wondering how much time he had until he burned through Nick's body this time.

Dean was much more bearable as a child with stunted memories than he was as an adult. It was strange. He almost always knew that Sam was his little brother and that something had happened, but he rarely made the connection as to who Lucifer was or why he was with them. He never asked, other than the occasional, "Are you a witch?"

The archangel made a show of wiggling his nose the next time he pulled a pack of M&Ms out of thin air for them to split. The child made Lucifer feel appreciated – even loved, if he was honest with himself – when Dean applauded his creations so enthusiastically.

Lucifer liked the feeling, so he kept creating.

By the end of the week, Dean had different set of clothes for every day of the month and toys that no other kid could have. Logistics weren't an issue being an archangel, so if Dean wanted a hover-board, then Dean got a hover-board.

Until Sam ran in from the kitchen yelling because Dean had fallen off the hover-board and hit his head on the floor.

"Humans are fragile, Lucifer," Sam had yelled with Dean crying gently in his arms. He was less hurt than startled, but the man had never been coddled when he was really a child. Lucifer figured Sam was trying to make up for thirty years of lost time with his mother henning. "You're going to get him killed."

"Calm down, Sam. Small lacerations rarely kill children anymore, unless they get infected or a parasite crawls in or something. Besides, surface wounds'll put hair on his chest," Lucifer took the kid from Sam and forced a smile. "Do you want me to take over cooking and you can entertain him instead?"

The younger Winchester frowned, his gaze still hard. "My dad used to say crap like 'it'll put hair on his chest' and look how we turned out. He isn't going to stay like this forever, and I'm not going to let him get hurt on my watch. He never let me get…"

"I know, Sam. No more hover-boards, I promise."

Sam was still frowning at Lucifer, but he eventually relented and handed his older brother over to the archangel. "The food's almost done. I can finish it… just, be careful with him. I can't do this all by myself, and I need to know you're keeping him safe."

"Do you have any idea how many little brothers and sisters I helped raise?" Lucifer asked Sam. The hunter rolled his eyes, turning to walk back to the kitchen, but he paused at the doorway. The archangel started carrying the child toward the television. "You should feel lucky, Dean. They used to throw us off a cliff as fledglings to teach us to fly, and guess whose daddy wasn't waiting to catch him at the bottom of the ravine?"

"Are you going to throw me off a cliff to teach me to fly?" Dean asked, settling too easily on Lucifer lap when he sat the pair of them down on the couch. Lady jumped up instantly, only to settle herself down by Lucifer's side, her head resting against Dean's leg.

"Alright, you talked me into it," Lucifer said, brushing Dean's longish hair off his forehead. "Don't tell your overprotective little brother, though. He doesn't like anyone to have any fun."

"I'm still standing here, you know," Sam said from the doorway, but his voice was light.

Lucifer smiled and let Dean drop his head to Nick's shoulder. He wondered what the hunter would say when he grew back up and knew that he had willingly cuddled Lucifer. Oh, the look on his face will be priceless. "Yeah, Sam. I know."

The human chuckled, then walked back to the kitchen. Lucifer wasn't sure when he shut his eyes, but he knew he woke up when a light flashed. When he finally opened them, he realized Sam was standing there with his phone held out in front of him, a dopy grin on his face.

"What are you…?"

"Dinner's done. I just wanted proof in case Dean doesn't believe me," Sam said, turning his phone around to show Lucifer the picture. All three of them were sleeping, and he had to admit that they looked domestic. Dean and Lady still were; the human had his fingers in his mouth, drool spilling out onto Lucifer's shirt. He couldn't help the smile that formed on his mouth.

"Will you send it to me?"

"Sure," Sam said, still grinning at the phone. "I'm going to send it to everyone on my contact list. There's no way Dean will ever forget this."

Lucifer woke the boy and the coyote as he said, "Be careful, Sam. Karma is a bitch."

"Karma? I thought you were a Christian angel."

The archangel grinned and shrugged. He sat the boy down on the floor then stood up. Sam had tried to make spaghetti. At least Lady liked it.

The last time Lucifer had walked the earth borrowing Nick's flesh, he had lasted eight months before Sam had said yes. A month in, it didn't look like the body would hold that long. His chest, arms, and back were dotted with burn marks; he had been able to wear a t-shirt up until last week, but he was desperate to hide it from Sam.

He didn't want his vessel to think he was really up here to get his body back, and thankfully, the sores weren't developing on his neck, face, or hands yet.

They hurt, and they itched, and Lucifer spent as much time with the two humans and the coyote as he could to keep from scratching his skin off prematurely.

After the first month of pre-kindergarten Dean Winchester, Lucifer realized why humans kept reproducing when there were wars and terror and destruction around every corner. The human was war, terror, and destruction in one pint-sized package sometimes, sure. But even more often, the squirt surprised him with his kind, sensitive nature, and his complete enthusiasm for knowledge.

To be honest, Lucifer hadn't ever liked Dean Winchester. He reminded him too much of Michael before he was stunted. Now, he would be willing to recant his opinion and give the adult an effort before dismissing him completely.

He enjoyed watching Dean while Sam spent his time trying to figure out a way to age him back or trying to cook them all healthy dinners. He created coloring pages for Dean – the hunter liked the ones of him and Sam in super hero costumes and the one of the assorted supernatural beings they had killed the best – and he created boxes full of legos. They read A Song of Fire and Ice and watched Game of Thrones after Charlie sent threatening text messages and Lucifer grew curious; Sam had bitched about how they weren't age-appropriate, but Dean didn't seem to mind. Sometimes, they would go to the clearing on the other side of the street from the bunker and run around with Lady, who liked chasing sticks, even when Lucifer reminded her that she was more than a domesticated pet.

Even more so than watching Dean, Lucifer enjoyed the moments when Sam would join them. Movie nights or series marathons with the three of them on the couch were one of his favorites, but mealtimes were wonderful too, even though the food wasn't the best. Actually, Lucifer was a better cook, but Sam cooked more often. It had something to do with survival, Lucifer was sure, and how Sam felt obligated to pay Dean back for all the years he took care of him. On the few occasions Sam did let Lucifer cook, the archangel enjoyed listening to the sound of Sam reading aloud or Dean squealing happily if he could convince Sam to play hunter with him. Lady enjoyed pretending to be a werewolf, and even Sam trusted the wild animal to act ferocious but not actually bite his brother.

Most of all, Lucifer liked the time he spent alone with Sam – just the two of them – after Dean had fallen asleep.

They talked, sometimes they would just watch the news silently, but they were always together.

The archangel felt for the Winchesters.

He wasn't surprised by his feelings for Sam. He had loved his vessel long before he left the cage the second time, but Lucifer was surprised by the affection he felt toward Dean, even though it wasn't the same type of affection that he felt for the other man. Still, Dean was the first human – other than Sam, of course – he thought of fondly.

Why, he wasn't completely sure, but it was hard not to like someone when they were completely enamored by you.

His powers, he knew, was the reason why Dean liked him.

Lucifer would never have thought he would be abusing his powers to please a four-year-old, but here they were. The music was screaming out of the speakers and Lucifer knew the movie well enough by now to mimic the girl's movements, sending things in the bunker flying around the room in time with Matilda on the screen. Dean loved it – he was clapping and cheering from his spot on the couch – and he stood, running to where Lucifer was conducting in the middle of the room.

"This is my favorite, Luci! You're my favorite!"

The archangel wiggled his nose – so what if the kid was stuck on Bewitched? – and suddenly, Dean was flying around the room with the rest of the stuff, giggling like he was possessed.

Lucifer was too busy watching to make sure nothing hit Dean (or that Dean didn't hit anything), to notice that the taller Winchester had stormed into the room. When Sam shut the television off, Lucifer didn't let the stuff drop to a mess on the floor. Instead, it circled around for another pass before he turned and looked at the hunter. He was pulling his brother out of thin air and into his arms, a frown set on his face.

Lucifer sent everything back with a wave of his hand. "What's wrong?"

"What are you doing?" Sam snapped, and Lucifer frowned. Sam hadn't snapped at him – not really, not with any venom – since Dean had pulled Lady into the bathtub. He trusted Lucifer now, and sometimes, Lucifer thought Sam remembered the moments he still wouldn't show Sam from the cage, the secret memories he was hording for himself. This, however, was different. The tone in his voice was angry, and fear overcame Lucifer without his permission.

"Playing," Lucifer crossed his arms over his chest. He was always cold, but it felt like the temperature dropped even lower. "Or, more appropriately, acting."

"Is that all that this is to you?" Sam asked. "You're just playing here? Why are you here? It's been a month and Dean's still a child. I thought you were supposed to be all powerful. I thought you could help us."

"I…" Lucifer started, but paused before starting again. "I cured you. I'm keeping him entertained and out of your hair while you do what you need to do to help him. I am helping, but I'm bound by certain laws, Sam. Don't you remember how I couldn't find you at first, either? I tried looking…"

"You haven't looked," Sam yelled, and Dean started wiggling. His eyes were huge and filled with tears. He was trying to shove his fingers in his mouth as some sort of comfort. "You're always here. You're not trying to help us. You're just playing house and acting useful so we'll keep you around."

The archangel took a breath into Nick's lungs, licking his lips and looking down at Sam's shoes before replying, "You're scaring him."

"What because you're an expert on humans now? Human children? Why don't you put those wings to use and go look for someone who will help get him back to normal?"

Nick's voice was soft when Lucifer asked, "You want me to fly around aimlessly, searching for one human among seven billion?"

"Yeah, actually, I do," Sam said, hiking Dean up his hip. The child was trying to wiggle his way down, his eyes on Lucifer, asking him silently what happened. The archangel wished he knew. "And don't come back without Cas."

Dean's soul gave an almighty push against the Grace, and the child started crying. Unlike before, it wasn't wailing or breast-beating or dramatic at all; at least, until Dean started crying and couldn't catch his breath. His chest started heaving, the backs of his hands at his eyes to catch the tears and wipe them away, and the sound of the gasps for breath pained Lucifer.

He took a step forward, toward the child to help soothe him, but Sam turned around, his back to Lucifer to shield him from the archangel. "Just go!"

Dean's green eyes shimmered with tears when they met Lucifer's over Sam's shoulder, but the archangel turned away, disappearing with a flap of his wings.

He had been flying for an hour before he realized he left Lady behind. For a minute, he slowed as he flew over Brazil, wondering if he should go back for her. He wasn't sure why Sam was angry at him. He wasn't sure what the human would do in his anger to hurt Lucifer.

But Dean would never let Sam do anything to Lady. Plus, as angry as he was at Lucifer, Sam was too gentle to hurt an innocent animal.

Lucifer flew on.

He visited Chernobyl. He stood at the top of the abandoned Ferris Wheel and wanted to hate Sam. He remembered the rage he felt when his Father cast him aside and when Michael kicked him out. Sam had done the same – he had casted him aside, kicked him from his home – but the anger wasn't there, now. All he felt was empty.

He stayed invisible and visited Charlie and Kevin and Garth, all doing different things in three separate states. None of them were looking for Castiel, but they were dealing with the fallout from the fall. The angels, it seemed, didn't have an incredibly difficult time adjusting. At least, they were housebroken, they knew about proper hygiene, and they knew they had to eat to survive.

What they did to get what they needed varied.

But one thing was certain: almost every one of them was looking for Castiel, but none of them knew where to find him.

Lucifer gave up for a while and stood under the sun in Kenya, watching a pride of lions sleep under a tree.

He checked up on Amelia and Claire Novak, then went to Petra, Jordan.

He wanted to go back to the bunker, but stood on Mount Sinai instead. He wasn't sure how long he'd been gone – it would take no time to fly a lap around the Earth, but he had been stopping and watching and couldn't remember – but it felt like it had been forever. Likely, it hadn't been more than a day. He only realized he had a burn on his face when he caught himself itching at the skin.

As the sun set in front of him, he felt the air shift behind him. Last time he had been approached, the archangel had still been angry, even after all those years. Now, he just felt alone.

"What did I do?" Lucifer asked, still looking at the sun. "I know why you did it, and why Michael did it. I could have understood if Sam told me to leave earlier, but things were going well. What changed?"

"It was a moment of weakness. He rarely has them, but when he does, he tends to make his explosions big," the man behind him said. "Either way, he does have a point. You spent a month playing with a child and basking in the attention your vessel gave you. You never really tried to restore Dean."

"Where's Castiel? Is he… is he still alive?"

"Castiel is exactly where he needs to be," the man said, amused. "He will play his part when the time comes. He always has."

"Did you do that to Dean? Was this a test?"

"Not everything is a test, Lucifer. And even if it was, it's okay to make mistakes. That's how humans learn, you know," the man stepped closer, and Lucifer felt a hand on his shoulder. "You can fix another one of your mistakes and ensure you defeat Metatron."

"But didn't he just make a mistake?" Lucifer asked. "I thought you just said it was okay…"

"Do you remember what it felt like when you were cast out?"

Lucifer's eyes left the sun and instead looked toward the sky. "It burned. It was so cold that when I hit the ground, I froze the Earth."

"And that is why your cage is always so cold," he said. "Your brothers and sisters burned too, but they didn't burn cold. Their wings burned from their back like fire. Their human bodies carry painful scorch marks. Mistakes are one thing, Lucifer. Metatron didn't make a mistake, and I know that you know what you need to do. To be honest, I can't believe you didn't do it already."

He didn't ask why – He was omniscient; He knew why – but Lucifer licked his lips and admitted it to himself. "I'm scared."

"I know, son. You don't have to be. You're different. Michael's different. Dean's different, and even Sam's different. What you need to do now is have a little faith…"

"I always had faith!"

"… no, you need to have a little faith in them."

The hand was gone from his shoulder, and the air was different around him again. He had forgotten to ask about his vessel and the accelerated rate he was burning through him; he hadn't felt the pain over being in the man's presence.

With a sigh, Lucifer sat on Mount Sinai, but the sun was already down over Egypt.

"Luci, is what you said true? If I write a letter to you in my head will you get it? Do you hear me? It's Dean, by the way. Dean Winchester. Do you remember me? Lady is okay. Sam wanted her to sleep outside, but I wouldn't let him. I miss you. It's scary here, sometimes, without you. And Sam misses you too, 'sept he's not good at saying sorry. He never was. When he was little, he never really had to. I was always the sorry one. Come back, please. I'll make him say sorry."

It took a week to find the rings. Luckily, Dean had hidden them before they found the bunker, and he hadn't thought to move them after. Lucifer didn't think he could take hiding himself from Sam as he searched their safe haven.

"Luci, it's Dean again. I think I remember something about… I don't know. Can you come back, now? I telled Sam he has to say he's sorry to you and when family says sorry, you have to forgive them. You're family. You have to come back. We need you."

Michael had hugged him, when the white light poured from the cage and his brother emerged with Adam by his side. Michael had hugged him, and Lucifer buried his face into Michael's jacket. He didn't say sorry, but Lucifer still had to forgive him.

"Luci, do you hate me? Did I do something bad? I'm sorry. I really am. Please, just come home."

Lucifer could have taken Metatron by himself. The dork didn't even realize that the archangels had gotten out of the cage. He had been too busy reading in Heaven now that he had time at least.

Lucifer broke the stupid bastard's glasses even though he didn't really need them.

Michael kept Metatron pinned down with a foot to his chest – his favorite way to squash his younger brothers – and Lucifer thumbed through the book he had been reading with an angel blade in his hand.

"What did you do to Dean Winchester?" Michael asked.

"What? Are you serious? You're beating me down because of that? You're going to kill me because of that?"

"Well, yes and no," Lucifer replied, looking over the top of the book at the angel on the floor. "We're going to kill you because you made all of our little brothers and sisters fall, and for what? So you could Burgess Meredith it up in your own private Twilight Zone? Higher ups than us have signed your death warrant. We're beating you down because of what you did to Dean Winchester. Fix it, and we'll kill you quickly."

"That's a very generous offer," Michael added, smiling at Lucifer.

"We are both very talented at torture. The demons learned everything they know from me, and I learned everything I know from him."

"Trust me," Michael grinned. "We only got more creative in the cage."

"I can't fix it!" Metatron yelled, eyes huge. "I swear I can't. Kill me now!"

"I don't believe you," Lucifer replied. He nodded at Michael and dropped his eyes back to the book. He saw Michael move out of the corner of his eye, and Metatron screamed.

"I can't I swear," the smaller angel whined. "It isn't my Grace. I put it there, but I can't take it back. It burned to keep it too close. I had to stash it somewhere. The Righteous Man was just convenient because he was getting too desperate."

"Desperate for what?" Michael asked.

"To save his brother. He would have done something to jeopardize what I had going on here, and I needed to get rid of the Grace. Two birds, one stone."

Lucifer looked up from the book again. "Who's Grace is it?"

There was a pause, and Michael moved. The scream that came from Metatron made Nick's flesh erupt with goose bumps. After a few seconds of irrational, terrified screaming, Metatron's lips formed a name. "Castiel!"

"Hey, uh, Lucifer… look, I know you probably don't care, but Dean's been… He took you leaving hard. I know I told you not to come back without Cas, and that wasn't fair of me. I was just… this isn't something I want to talk about over the prayer-waves, so, can you come back? I… I need your help. I can't take care of him on my own. He always took care of me, you know. When he was four, he stopped being a child and he became my protector. I never… he went hungry for me. Dad used to… and he would… I just wanted to be for him what he was for me my entire life. I just wanted to protect him, and take care of him. But, I can't do it alone. I'm sorry that I was an ass before. Please come back."

Lucifer put the book down. He stood and walked calmly to stand next to Michael. Metatron reached out, grabbing the fabric of Lucifer's pants at the ankle and whispering, "Please."

"I don't understand one thing," Lucifer said, squatting down and tapping the blade against Metatron's chest. "Why make him younger? Why four-years-old?"

"What?" Metatron asked. "What do you mean he's… he's four? I thought the Grace would burn out his soul. I thought he would be a shell of a man. I don't know why it would… it de-aged him?"

"Metatron," Michael's foot pressed harder into Metatron's ribcage. The smaller angel coughed, and his vessel's blood came out from the pressure, the internal wounds Michael was forcing on him. Lucifer wiped the blood from his lips. "Are you lying to my brother?"

"No. I swear! It must be… Castiel's Grace is very peculiar. The Grace must have done it to him. I didn't tell it to."

"Lucifer, please… we can figure something out together."

Lucifer pushed the blade down through Metatron's chest, but he looked away as he burned out. He stood, avoiding the scorched wings on the floor.

"Castiel can pull his Grace from Dean, but he's the only one who can do so safely. What an idiot, thinking he could wear stolen Grace around his neck," Michael took his foot from his brother. "How are we going to find Castiel?"

"We can't," Lucifer said. "Father said he would play his part when the time came. He's in hiding, though. All of the angels are looking for revenge. They blame him for their falling."

"He made a mistake trusting Metatron, but he deserves forgiveness. I can stay up here. I'll make contact with the angels and make sure they know Metatron was the one really at fault. If I can make it safe for him, he'll come out of hiding."

"Even if he leaves wherever he is, how will we find him?"

"Now you're the idiot," Michael laughed. "You really don't know why Castiel's Grace made Dean a child instead of burning him out, do you? Oh well, maybe you'll understand it when you're older, little brother. I'm going to bring Adam back to Heaven, then I'll get on relocating the angels where they can live as happily and safely as they can as humans. What are you going to do?"

"Please, come home."

Lucifer smiled, "I'm going home."

Lucifer knocked on the bunker's door, and it was only after his fist already made contact that he thought he should have picked some flowers or something. He had planted some roses by the wall. He reached his hand out, and one of the flowers broke free and drifted to his hand at the same time the door opened.

It was Sam. Lucifer held out the rose. "I'm sorry I didn't come back sooner, I…"

The younger Winchester was only a few inches taller than Nick, but when Sam wrapped his arms around the borrowed body, Lucifer felt engulfed. His body was warm, and Lucifer pressed himself back, fingers digging into the material at the small of Sam's back.

Sam murmured near Lucifer's ear. "I didn't mean…"

"Yes, you did, but that's alright. You were right. I wasn't helping."

"I mean, I was jealous. I… he took care of me my whole life, you know? Suddenly I get the chance to repay the favor and I'm a shitty cook, and he likes you better. I was just jealous, and I said those things out of spite," Sam said, moving back far enough to shut the door and look at the archangel's borrowed face.

"He doesn't really," Lucifer laughed. "He's just a kid and I'm magic."

Sam moved back, looking at Lucifer for the first time. He frowned. At first, Lucifer wasn't sure what Sam was angry about, but when the hunter reached forward and brushed his fingers against Lucifer's cheek, pain shot through Nick's body. He winced away. "Shit."

"You're… You're burning through again?"

"Faster, actually," Lucifer forced a smile. "I probably have another few weeks before this vessel can't contain my Grace and it will explode. I'll… I guess I will be a wavelength again. I don't understand why, though, because Michael is still using a vessel shaped like your father. It seems my Father brought me back conditionally." Lucifer looked away. "I won't ask you to be my vessel."

"Why not?" Sam asked. "I probably wouldn't swan dive into the cage again."

"Not that me and you in a secluded prison doesn't sound romantic," Lucifer said, looking up at Sam. "But I won't take you away again. Your place is here."

"And where is your place? You're just going to leave, just like that?"

"I didn't think you cared if I did," Lucifer admitted. "I didn't think you cared about me."

"You thought wrong," Sam said, reaching his hands up to cup Lucifer's face. The archangel felt a familiar coolness pool in his stomach, and he reached his hands up to grip Sam's forearms. The hunter's eyes danced over the archangel's face, trying to gage his reaction, trying to determine what the reaction would be if he went ahead with the next move. He must have saw no hesitation in Lucifer, because the Sam leaned forward.

There wasn't a choir of angels in Heaven – there was just Michael, now – but Lucifer could almost hear them singing in his head. He could remember, and it had been so long. He wanted to surge forward and capture Sam's lips between his own, he wanted to kiss him and hold him. He wanted everything they had together before; he wanted even more than that.

But Lucifer gripped Sam's forearms tighter, ducked his head to Sam's shoulder before the hunter could kiss him. He could feel Sam's confusion, and Lucifer turned his head to press his nose against Sam's neck. "I haven't been completely honest about you with the cage."

"I know," Sam whispered. "Michael needed a place to keep Adam's soul after you opened the cage for them. I asked him why I couldn't remember… it was him, Lucifer. Early on, when we were still fighting, I was practicing to manipulate the cage. Michael told Adam to manipulate my memories. He thought if he could turn us against each other we would be weak. Unfortunately, I was stronger in the cage. It didn't take until Death pulled my soul out."

Lucifer moved back, moving his hands to touch Sam's which were still gripping his face. "You remember…"

"I remember everything, Lucifer," Sam said, resting his forehead against the archangels. "Years we spent together… Years we were partners, lovers, and I can't imagine the pain you felt when I never came back for you."

"After a year or so, I figured you never really cared about me," Lucifer admitted, eyes closed. He breathed in Sam's exhale, letting the carbon dioxide fill his borrowed lungs. "I was a necessity for you in the cage. I was entertainment and nothing more."

"That's not true," Sam whispered. "I loved you in the cage, and when you left, Dean wouldn't stop crying, and I…"

"You're not obligated, Sam. Just because you remember, it doesn't change the present. We can't pick up from where we left off in the cage. Things are different now."

"They are," Sam moved back, looking down at Lucifer. "Even when I kicked you out, you took away the sickness I had from the trials. Even when I didn't trust you, you helped me take care of my brother. And when you left, when I got jealous and made you leave, I missed you like something was ripped from me. Things are different, but I still want to kiss you."

Lucifer looked up at him. When he left to unlock the cage, the hunter had still looked sick. Even after Lucifer had healed him, Sam had been worried about Dean. But now, for the first time, Sam looked rested. He looked unburdened, unworried. He looked like he had in the cage – happy and loved – and Lucifer nodded.

Sam smiled. His hands were still on Lucifer's face, and this time when he moved in, the archangel didn't duck away. It was so different from their first kiss in the cage – that had been done after Michael had caused Lucifer some grievous bodily harm and Sam hadn't realized the archangel could be hurt in the cage but not killed – but he could feel the way Sam's soul seemed to reach to him, just as it had that first time.

The hunter's lips were soft, and the archangel moved his hands from Sam's to reach instead for the man's hips. He held them together as the taller man took a breath, and he gripped his fingers into the denim when Sam kissed him again with his mouth open. The hunter's tongue felt like fire when it pressed against Lucifer's, and the archangel couldn't help the swell he felt throughout the borrowed body at feeling this close to his vessel again.

Across the room, a throat was cleared none too subtly, and Sam leaned back, looking at Lucifer's mouth for a long moment before he shot a look at his brother. "What, Dean?"

"Are you two dating?" Dean asked, a frown on his face like he was offended that they hadn't told him before hand.

"Um…" Sam said, looking back at Lucifer, unsure.

"Are you going to get married?" Dean asked, sing-songing the last word. The frown turning to a grin, and beside him, Lady thumped her tail on the ground. She was a little bigger now, Lucifer noticed. She was due in about a week.

Sam broke off contact with Lucifer, turning on his brother, mumbling that it was rude and early and he didn't know, but Dean didn't care anymore. When Sam reached to him – growling and pretending to attack him – Dean squealed with delight and ducked under his arm. Sam let him, of course, and the little kid ran to Lucifer.

The archangel held his arms down to him, and Dean climbed in.

Once Lucifer lifted him up, the boy's small arms wrapped around his neck with trust. Dean pressed his face against Lucifer's – cheek-to-cheek, the way Lady showed affection – and he whispered, "Did Sammy say he was sorry?"

"He doesn't need to," Lucifer told Dean, holding him to his borrowed body, but looking past him at Sam. "Did you take care of Lady?"

"Duh, Luci," Dean grinned. "She's gonna be a mommy, so we made sure she had food to feed the babies in her tummy. Guess what! Sammy made grilled cheese and it didn't even suck."

Lucifer laughed, but Sam huffed, "I am a good cook. Of course it didn't suck."

"Maybe you can make them tomorrow and I can try them," Lucifer said, but he inflected at the end, asking. Sam smiled and nodded his response to the question. "And as for you, baby Winchester, it's past your bedtime."

"What the heck, Luci," Dean groaned, gripping his arms tighter around his neck. "I'm like thirty years old and grown-ups don't have bedtimes. Sammy doesn't have a bedtime and he's not as old as me."

"You remember?" Lucifer asked. "That's good. But then you must also remember that you look like a pre-schooler, and trust me, I've watched humans for a long time. Pre-schoolers always go to bed before nine."

Dean groaned again, failing himself in Lucifer's arms like he was experiencing a great injustice, before Lucifer sat him down. Without further prompting, the young hunter marched off to his bedroom to change his clothes and brush his teeth. When Lucifer looked back at Sam, the taller man was leaning in again. He felt like fire, and the archangel craved his warmth.

"Hey," Dean shouted from his bedroom. "Since Lady is gonna me a mommy soon, doesn't she need to go to bed early too? Lady come in here with me!"

"Omigod, Dean," Sam yelled. "Just go to sleep!" Lady looked at Lucifer before running off into Dean's room. The younger Winchester brother followed her, hurrying Dean along and tucking him in. Lucifer moved to his couch and sat down.

It didn't take long for Sam to come back out, and like so many times before, he stood in the doorway of his bedroom and looked at Lucifer. The archangel wondered what he was thinking, but he wouldn't invade Sam's privacy like that, so he turned his attention to the TV.

"Did you sleep at all while you were away?" Sam asked. Lucifer shook his head. "Would you like to sleep in my room tonight?"

Lucifer looked at the hunter. His arms were crossed in front of him, shielding him, but his face was open and his smile told Lucifer everything he needed to know. Sam remembered their past and he didn't blame Lucifer for trying to hide it from him. He had missed him when he was gone.

"Okay," Lucifer said and stood. Sam opened the bedroom door, and Lucifer followed him in.

Four days after Lucifer returned, Lady went into labor two days earlier than the archangel had anticipated. It happened suddenly. One minute she was lying down in between two shelves in the library toward the back, the next she was breathing heavily and whining. Dean, feeding off Lady's pain and Lucifer's panic, started crying, and Sam – the only level headed person in the bunch – sent Lucifer to collect towels. When he brought them back, Lady lifted her head, whining at Lucifer, and the archangel rubbed his hand over her fur.

"It's going to be okay," He told her. "You'll be a great mother. And if you need help, we're here for you."

Dean stood near the edge of the bookshelf. He sniffled, but nodded his head. "We always help people."

Lucifer put his hand on her side, trying to take away some of the pain. Although he had watched the earth forever, he had never watched someone he cared about give birth before. It had been easier, with other animals he had helped along the way. He cared for them, yes, but not like he cared for Lady. "There are five of them, Sam," Lucifer said. "I can feel their hearts beating."

"That's a good sign," Sam said. "Don't worry. Animals do this by themselves all the time. Everything will be fine."

Lucifer started to say, "But she was hit by a car, and…"

"And you healed her."

"… it's happening too soon, and…"

"Nature knows when she's ready."

"… she's in pain!"

"She's giving birth, Lucifer," Sam yelled, but not unkindly. "In a little while she'll have five new pups, but you're freaking out and that's making everyone else freak out."

Lucifer frowned and looked down at Lady. She was looking up at him, chest heaving with labored breaths. He looked at Dean. Tears were streaming down his face again. He looked up at Sam. The hunter was in control. He wasn't crying or shaking or breathing heavily. He just looked calm and collected. Lucifer felt like Nick's heart was a snowball, pumping icy slush throughout his body. He was burning from it, burning cold, and usually, that only happened when he was enraged.

He wasn't sure what he was feeling now, but he knew it was displeasing and strong.

"I don't know what's gotten into me," Lucifer admitted.

"That's okay," Sam said, placing his hand over Lucifer's on Lady. "That's totally alright, you know that? You're just worried and that's natural, I'm sure. Why don't you take a breather? There's still pie left over from last night. Why don't you and Dean get a slice? I'll stay with Lady, and I'll call you when she progresses further."

Lucifer looked at Lady. She gave a soft yip, and the archangel stood. "Do you promise to tell me if she starts having one?"

"I promise," Sam said. "Dean, take care of Lucifer, alright?"

"I'm," Dean hiccupped. Then he wiped his eyes on the sleeve of his shirt and nodded. "I'm on it." The pint-sized hunter reached forward, grabbing Lucifer's hand. He led him out of the library and into the kitchen, chatting about nothing in particular with a quivering voice.

By the time Lucifer placed the pie in front of Dean, he did feel a bit calmer… and warmer. The little hunter certainly sounded happier too, as he started talking around mouthfuls.

The doorbell went off. Lucifer and Dean looked at each other; the archangel hadn't even known that the top secret bunker in the Middle of Nowhere, Kansas, had a doorbell. By the look on Dean's face, he hadn't known either.

"I'll get it," Lucifer said. "You stay here."

"I'll get a gun," the kid said. "You can't open the door without a weapon. That's rule number, like, four."

Lucifer gave Dean a carefully controlled smile as he stood and walked toward the door, "I am a weapon, Dean. Did you forget that I'm magic?"

He heard Dean moving behind him, crouching down by the wall next to the open kitchen door so he could hear who the visitor was, and Lucifer rolled his eyes. It was probably just Charlie or Garth or Kevin… someone expected.

Lucifer opened the door. He barely got a glimpse of who was standing there before a fist smashed into his face. The archangel stumbled – more from shock than anything else – and in the few seconds he was preoccupied, his attacker got him in a chokehold. The voice at his ear hissed, "What are you doing here?"

"Calm down, Castiel," Lucifer said. "Father let me out."

"That's what Michael told me," Castiel said. "Why are you with the Winchesters? What have you done to them?"

With a flap of his wings, Lucifer was out of the chokehold and standing at the other side of the room. Castiel didn't look surprised that Lucifer hadn't fallen. But he adopted a defensive stance as if he had a chance against a fully powered archangel if Lucifer wanted to kill him.

He almost scoffed at his little brother. But that wouldn't help settle matters.

"Cas!" Dean came screaming out of the kitchen, arms wide. Castiel frowned at the tiny human, unable to recognize the soul he pulled from hell that was shelled within the body, and he adjusted his eyes to Lucifer when the hunter wrapped his arm around his leg and started crying all over again.

"Who is…" Castiel started, but then looked closer at the hunter. Angels saw souls primarily, but some humans had pleasant faces. Castiel had seen Dean before when he was drained of his power; he would recognize his eyes and freckles. "Dean?"

"Yeah, Cas," Dean called out, moving away from the ex-angel's leg. He held his hands up to Cas, and the dark-haired man picked up Dean and cradled him to his chest without a second thought. The child wrapped his arms around Castiel's neck in a bear hug, and the ex-angel shifted the kid's weight to hold him more comfortably. "Where you been, Cas? I was scared that you was gone forever."

"I made a mistake," Castiel said. "And I couldn't come home right away without bringing danger to you. Why are you… why are you a child?"

"Um," Lucifer heard Sam call from the library. Dean turned in Castiel's arms to look toward the sound, worry forming on his young features once again. "Lucifer, she's… crowning? It's coming out, Lucifer. Omigod, I'm going to pass out. Come help me, please."

Dean must have been crushing Castiel in his grip, but the former angel just held on to the small form. Lucifer shot out, "Will you watch him until her labor is over? We can talk then."

"Who's labor?" Castiel called out, and as Lucifer rushed into the library, he heard Dean answer.

"Lady! She's a co'tee. She's our friend."

There were five of them, just like Lucifer said. And Lady was great with them, just like Lucifer had guessed. As each one was born, she licked their noses to make sure they were breathing, clearing away the membranes. At first, she growled at Sam when he tried to dry them off as they cried, but Lucifer touched her head, murmuring to the new mother, and she eventually allowed the human's help.

Before long, Lady and five little pups were sleeping, huddled together.

Lucifer inhaled, breathing for what seemed to be the first time.

From where he stood next a bookshelf, he felt Sam's arms snake around him. The hunter held him around the middle, ducking his head to rest his chin on Lucifer's shoulder. The archangel didn't move – he couldn't really move without causing Sam's body to move too – so he continued to look at the sleeping coyotes.

"Oh," Castiel's voice said from behind him. Sam let go, but Lucifer stayed here he was. "I… I wasn't aware that the two of you were…"

"They love each other," Dean said matter-of-factly, wiggling himself out of Castiel's arms and moving forward to stand next to Lucifer. "Just like I love you, Cas." The ex-angel sputtered something, embarrassed and likely clueless – the moron – and Dean tugged on Lucifer's shirt. "Can I go see them, Luci? I promise not to touch them."

"If you stay back a little ways. Lady will let us know when we can touch them."

Dean nodded enthusiastically, getting on his hands and knees to approach Lady and the puppies. She opened her eyes and looked at him, and when he stopped just outside reaching distance, Lady closed her eyes and gave a little yip. The little hunter answered back and laid down next to her.

"It's painful," Castiel said, but Lucifer still didn't turn to look at him. "Seeing Dean like that and knowing I can't do anything to help him."

"You can," Sam said, smiling back at his friend. "He's a kid because Metatron put your Grace inside him and for some reason, it factory defaulted his soul back to right before our mom died. Well, he still remembers they're dead sometimes. And who I am. And who you are, but still. You should be able to take your Grace back, right? Like Anna did?"

"I…" Castiel started, and Lucifer turned around.

"You can't feel your Grace inside him?"

"I can," Castiel said, swallowing roughly, and keeping his eyes pointedly off everyone in the room. He rubbed the back of his neck. "But a speck of my Grace has been there for a long time. I can't feel how much, I can only feel it there."

"Why would he have part of your Grace from before?" Lucifer asked. Castiel kept his mouth shut, a frown on his face, but Lucifer pressed again. "Brother?"

"When I pulled him from Hell, his body… I remade him. It took more of my power than I anticipated because he fought me. He didn't want to be saved. So I left a piece behind to soothe him," Castiel's eyes met Lucifer's, begging him to understand. "I meant to take it back, but he… he needed it."

Lucifer sighed.

"Wait," Sam asked. "What does that even mean?"

"It would be like chopping off your ear to give it as a present," Lucifer said. "It's painful, having fractured Grace. No wonder he was so upset every time we said your name."

"I just thought I was feeling that," Castiel admitted.

"Which also explains why his Grace didn't burn him out his soul," Lucifer said. From over Castiel's shoulder, he saw a man materialize into existence.

He was grinning but shaking his head. "You are so close, Lucifer. Allow me to help?"

Lucifer frowned, but Castiel gasped "Father?" the same time Sam asked, "Chuck?"

"On a very small technicality," He said. "The Grace went to Dean so easily because there was a piece already there. But that piece should have burned him out a long time ago. Angels don't just leave marks on people. Just like certain vessels can't contain an angel for long. Castiel's Grace should have burned Dean apart when he first found him in hell."

"Then why…" Sam asked.

Dean rolled onto his back, looking up at the man. His movement drew the attention of the other adults, and he smiled at them, "Because he loves me."

Castiel made an indignant noise, but otherwise didn't deny it.

"Exactly, Dean," the man smiled at him. "And love is very powerful, far more complicated than any angel or human could understand. And if you don't mind me saying, you have a very lovely soul, Dean. I'm not surprised Castiel fell for it… in a matter of speaking." When Castiel shot him a look, the man hurried on, changing the subject. "All of the Winchesters have lovely souls. Don't tell me you haven't noticed, Lucifer."

Lucifer felt Sam smiling at him, but he wouldn't look up to meet his eye.

"Alright," the man said. "Are you ready to take your Grace back, Castiel?"

Sam couldn't watch – it might burn out his eyes to see Castiel's Grace – so the three of them left for the living. It took almost no time before the man returned, wiping his hands on his pants. "No problemo."

"Are they okay?" Sam asked, and the man smiled.

"They are absolutely back to normal. They're staring wordlessly at each other and while that isn't normal for anyone else, it's par for their course. What can you do, right?"

"Um…" Sam started, but the man cut him off again.

"Oh, actually… I can do something for you," the man said, reaching out a hand to press against Lucifer's forehead. His fingers were hot – burning from Castiel's Grace – and Lucifer couldn't help but lean into it. He didn't feel anything, too wrapped up in the warmth and being close to his Father once again. Too quickly, the man pulled away. "Nick can now contain you permanently. He doesn't mind, by the way. He is very happy with his family."

"Thank you," Sam said, and Lucifer nodded.

"I won't meddle in your affairs again," the man said, a small grin coming onto his face. He looked down at the sleeping animals before adding, "Actually, did you know that coyotes are the only animal that are born with the knowledge of every single supernatural being and can be trained not only to locate them, but also to fight them rather effectively?"

Lucifer frowned. "That isn't true."

"It is now," the man smiled. "At least for this pack. It's good to be the king."

And with that, the man was gone.

Things were awkward after Dean became an adult again. Not so much for Sam and Dean; mostly, Dean was thankful Sam had taken care of him and Sam was happy Dean didn't think he sucked as a care-giver. And not so much for Dean and Castiel either; really, it would have been weirder if Dean had spent more time around Castiel while stuck as a child considering that first staring match turned into a rather epic tongue battle right before Sam and Lucifer had walked in.

No. It was only awkward for Dean and Lucifer, and that more than anything else, proved that Dean remembered everything from when he was a child.

Dean could hardly stand to be in the same room as Lucifer. Whenever the blond came into a room, Dean would make a hasty exit. He usually left in a hurry, bumping into something, and Castiel alternated glaring at Lucifer, silently accusing him of some trauma during Dean's more recent childhood, and offering sympathetic glances, silently telling Lucifer to give him more time.

Lucifer gave him a week – a week that was far more painful than he would ever admit to – before he was going to corner Dean and force him to relive some of their childhood bonding experiences in hopes of it translating back into adulthood. He was debating between flying him around the room while listening to Matilda or re-inventing the hover-board (because falling asleep with him snuggling on the couch, might not go over well anymore and if Castiel had a nice right hook as a human, Lucifer didn't want to have a rematch with him re-Graced) when he heard it.

Dean's voice, crystal clear, in his head, asking, "Hey Lucifer, if I write you a letter in my head, will you still get it?"

The smile that formed on Lucifer's face wasn't controlled, but he didn't try to school it this time. He enjoyed the way his body reacted to things if he allowed it to. He enjoyed being out of control, like Sam and Dean could be. His eyes left the TV – he still camped out on the couch more often than not – to look toward Dean's room. Sam and Castiel were out, and while Lucifer and Dean both knew it was a set up, it was also necessary.

Dean must realize that too.

"You can't answer back or are you ignoring me? What bullshit is that? How come whenever I pray, nobody ever fucking answers me back. And you assholes wonder why I hate praying."

"I'm not flying to your room, Dean," Lucifer yelled. "If you want to talk, you know where I am."

"You're a dick."

It was quiet for a long moment. Dean had officially commandeered all of the A Song of Fire and Ice books and was reading them aloud to Castiel, but Lucifer had sole access to the Game of Thrones DVDs and since neither of them were talking, they were in a stalemate.

He heard something moving behind him, and after a second, Lady jumped up on the couch, desperate to escape the pups for at least a few minutes. She laid down, her head on Lucifer's lap, making a soft noise when his fingers went to her coat and ran through her fur.

"What are you doing?"

"Loras is shaving Renly," Lucifer yelled. "You're going to miss the blowjob."

He heard a thump – Dean's feet hitting the floor – and then a door open. The man plopped down next to him, sitting a little closer than he probably intended, judging by how he tried to move away so they weren't thigh to thigh and arm to arm.

Lady lifted her head, tail thumping against the couch, and she crawled across Lucifer's lap to situate herself over the both of them. They were pretty much stuck touching each other – Dean's and Lady's bodies were warm pressed against his body – and it wasn't until just then that Lucifer realized that he and his friend were basically watching softcore porn together.

"Loras is hotter in season two," Dean said, fingers working over Lady's skull, just behind her ears. "But Renly's hotter in season one. Not a fan of the untrimmed beard. Apparently you can't tell a king he has to shave."

"Last time we watched this, you told me you thought Loras was pretty."

"Yeah, and I cried when pretty much every time someone died," Dean said, frowning at Lucifer.

"You cried a lot."

"I got emotionally invested, you asshole," Dean snipped. Lady shifted, climbing more onto Dean and resting her head on the armrest. "And I was four. The last time I was four, I cried for a week straight."

"I'm sorry I wasn't there to help you," Lucifer admitted, more truthfully than he meant, and next to him Dean shrugged.

Lucifer leaned back against the couch; Lady was still half on him and Dean was warm against his side. They stayed quiet for a long time after that, watching the show. When that episode ended, they started the next. It wasn't until Lucifer felt Dean relax next to him that he realized how tired he was – the shared warmth from his friends always made him tired – but he was sleeping before his body could really object.

Once again, Lucifer was waking up to a flash. He rubbed his eyes, and Lady growled. The pups were yipping from the library, so she jumped off Dean to go feed them. Dean awoke too, looking angry, but he didn't have time to rip Sam's phone from his hand and break it before the younger Winchester managed to send it to all of his contacts.

Dean's, Lucifer's, and Castiel's phone rang in unison. As the brothers fought over the phone, Lucifer pulled his from his pocket and opened it. He smiled at the picture and walked past the brothers to go to his and Sam's room.

The younger hunter had very few photos and all the ones he did have were ones Lucifer had hung up. There was one of the three of them with Dean as a child, a handful of Sam, Dean, and Lady, and one of the four of them – Castiel included – that was taken with half-hearted scowls and looks of mild annoyance.

With a small gesture – it wasn't moving his nose because Dean wasn't a child anymore, and Lucifer couldn't please him with simple things like that any longer – the picture on his phone was in a frame.

He hung it next to the one of Lucifer, Dean, and Lady sleeping the last time. He enjoyed the smile – the feeling in his chest that couldn't really be there – and he lifted his head toward the ceiling.

It wasn't snowing. He didn't have to worry about the snow building up and caving in this home. He wasn't the third wheel, shivering by himself. He wasn't unloved or unwanted, not any longer.

And Lucifer didn't close his eyes, think of his Father, and say thank you. He just didn't.

And he definitely didn't hear a soft you're welcome back.

Eventually, the pups grew up. As was predicted, they were flawless partners for the hunters, and one-by-one, they went on to fight the good fight.

Charlie and Nymeria were a great team because Charlie wasn't as good at fighting as researching, but her coyote was the fiercest of all of them. She saved Charlie's ass more than once.

Summer was just as good at defending Kevin, although the prophet and his coyote spent more days in the library than anything else. Summer would lie near Kevin's cushy chair, ready to protect him if anything burst through the door.

They didn't know much about Shaggydog and Garth, but they were sure they did more than play fetch in the park. Lucifer hadn't ever seen them doing anything but playing. If nothing else, though, they both looked happy.

They gave Gray Wind to Krissy Chambers, and last they knew, the pair of them were a powerhouse. Last week the two of them wiped out a djinn and saved four people. Dean had congratulated her by calling her the Queen of the North, to which she sneered, "Fuck that, Winchester. I'm the king of everything south of the wall."

Sam kept Ghost, the fierce runt who could make a living trying to exile Lucifer from his own bed, and even though Dean was an adult again, he still sang Lady's song to her every chance he got. Most times, Lady even howled back.