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Time to Think

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They split up after the exorcism. Despite the fact that Chloe wasn’t yet willing to be one-on-one with Lucifer after what she’d learned and what she’d seen, the fact of the matter was that he was the one that had driven her out to the warehouse, and without him, she had no way of getting home. Dean rectified this by offering to drive her in the Impala, which was all well and good, until Lucifer protested that, for all he knew, they’d abscond with her and he’d never see her again. Thus, just to cut down on the bitching, Sam volunteered to ride back to Lux with Lucifer, prompting a good-faith exchange, in which Dean would have to return to Lux sans-Chloe to pick up Sam, which would allow Lucifer to call her at home whist she was without Winchester company to verify she was, in fact, where Dean said she was.

Overly complicated, in Sam’s opinion, but it almost felt like Lucifer was as panicked about how the night had turned as Chloe was. And, really, Sam wasn’t exactly thrilled about it, either.

I shot him. And he bled.

What did that mean for them in the long run? That maybe, with a little skill and a little luck, the world could be rid of Lucifer once and for all? It was a score that screamed to be settled, undoubtedly the Winchesters’ biggest failure that Lucifer was still live and in the flesh after everything that had happened. But... aside from taking a little too much pleasure from exorcising a demon, was Lucifer really a threat? Because if that was the worst he had to offer, then Sam would have to say that Gordon Walker probably had deserved Hell more than Lucifer, at this stage in the game.

Still.

Sam slid the passenger’s seat in the Corvette as far back as it would go, but alas, he still had to sit more like his bow-legged brother to fit his gargantuan self in the tiny little car. Antique or not, Sam couldn’t see the point in a vehicle that couldn’t comfortably fit a human being. He said as much to Lucifer, if only to keep the conversation away from what had just gone down by the docks.

“I doubt anyone in 1962 had someone of your size in mind, Sam,” Lucifer said of the C1 with an upward quirk of a smile. “This was more meant for your dapper men with pin-striped suits and lifts in their shoes, I believe.”

Sam scoffed. “Right. So, what? You somehow managed to avoid the Cage, opened a club, and decided to go on the hunt for a black, 60s Chevy of your own?” He ran a hand back through his hair and pushed up the sleeves of his green-plaid flannel a little further. The night was warmer the further they got away from the docks, and Sam didn’t delude himself into thinking he was comfortable enough with Lucifer to strip down to the tank he had on underneath, sweltering or no. Still, the breeze the convertible let wash over them was a bonus, even if the city air itself smelled like steel and stale gasoline.

Lucifer shrugged, his fingers tapping against the sleek steering wheel to a beat that was quietly being pushed out by the old radio, just as quickly lost to the wind. “I didn’t spend long in your head, Sam, but those last few moments—they did leave quite the impression.” He opened his mouth, then closed it again, rolling the words around his mouth before he let them leave, to be captured and held by Sam’s interested ears. “I never liked automobiles, like I told you. They seemed slow, unnecessary to an angel that could be a million miles away in a thought. But when I had Mazikeen sever my wings, I needed a mode of transportation. You seemed to think highly of the Chevrolet brand.”

Sam conceded that, at least. “Nothing like an American classic,” he agreed. He turned toward Lucifer as much as he could in the too-small seat. “You said that a few times, now. Having your demon sever your wings.”

“I have,” Lucifer acknowledged, unreadable.

Why would you do that?” Sam asked. “I mean, excuse the obvious, but you had so much pride in being an angel. I mean, that was your whole selling point, you know, with me. You weren’t like the demons because you were an angel.”

“Your point?” Lucifer asked, terse.

“Why would you ruin the only thing you loved about yourself?”

Lucifer jerked in his seat, like maybe he’d never thought about it that way, or heard it said in such a blunt manner. He didn’t have an immediate answer, and spent several minutes opening and closing his mouth again, searching for words.

Sam was willing to let the moment stretch, to carry, because he was keenly interested in what Lucifer had to say, and didn’t want to risk distracting him by letting his own impatience get the better of them both.

“Life is change, you taught me that,” Lucifer said finally. “And, like I told you, I was willing to do anything if it meant I didn’t have to go back to the Cage. To cut my wings off was to Fall, completely. I still have the barest sparks of power left, but those are fading, now. Truth be told, I fear I may even be mortal, which I’d imagine is an extraordinary opportunity for you, should you wish to pursue it.”

Sam looked at Lucifer in surprise. Lucifer turned those dark eyes back on him in response, and blinked slowly once, fringe of dark lashes fluttering before he turned his attention back to the road.

“Why would you tell me that?” Sam asked, uncertain, doubtful.

“I owe what I have of my life to you,” Lucifer said, offhand, like it didn’t have even a little of the gravity that it truly did. “I owe you my freedom. I owe you the last few years. And I owe you back every second you lost when you were trapped down there, alone, without me to defend you.”

Sam swallowed.

“If what you wish after all that is for me to die to make amends, then... I suppose I would enthusiastically try to convince you otherwise. Stop you, definitely. But I’m not saying that I wouldn’t... perhaps deserve it.” Lucifer tapped away at the wheel, frowning at the car ahead of them. “Oh, for the love of Hell. At the rate this sod is driving, I’d sooner die of old age than get back to Lux. Hold on, Sam.”

Lucifer put the pedal to the floor, rocketing around the car in front—which Sam noticed as they whizzed by was an elderly man with glasses half the size of his face—and drawing the angry horns of about five other cars he passed in the process.

Jesus,” Sam wheezed, clutching at the passenger door. Dean hadn’t driven like that since they were still kids, unless one of them was mortally wounded. And with Lucifer’s new reflection on his own mortality, Sam would’ve thought he might’ve given half a thought to the practical use of safety. Clearly not. The guy wasn’t even wearing his seatbelt.

Oh, he can’t help you, not now,” Lucifer said with a Cheshire grin and a wink tossed Sam’s way. “Besides, this is exciting, isn’t it? You and I, together again. Do you think the two of you will stay for long?” Lucifer’s smile dimmed some. “And Sam, you’re more than welcome to stay in one of Lux’s suites. Dean, too, not that I’d be thrilled to have him—I know better than to think he’d leave you to your own devices when I’m involved. It would certainly ease my mind to know your broken self isn’t wandering too far off, not when I still have so much work to do to put you back together.”

Sam scowled. “Look, you’re lucky we haven’t tried to kill you yet. Inviting us to stay in your house might be pushing it, in Dean’s book.”

“But not in yours?” Lucifer asked, curious. He glanced at Sam again.

Sam shrugged, caught off-guard. In truth, being around Lucifer was almost... comfortable. Easy, certainly. Off-putting in how easy it was. “Mine too. But—”

“But?”

God, will you stop?” Sam snipped, but without heat. It was almost like arguing with Dean. Banter, Lucifer would probably call it. “But nothing. Dean doesn’t trust you as far as he could throw you, but he might be willing to use you until I’m better. But then I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to shoot you again. He’s not exactly hard to predict, or quick to forgive,” Sam complained. “And, truth be told, I don’t think you could do anything to change his mind, whether you’re an actual threat or not. You fucked me over, and Dean will never just forget that.”

I’m not looking for Dean’s approval. But if, oh, say I could somehow make some of it up to you...” Lucifer trailed off, then realized what he’d said. His shoulders hunched a little, defensive, and waiting for Sam to lash out, to laugh, to mock him.

But Sam wasn’t about to do that. “That’s really what you want?”

Lucifer frowned, like perhaps he wished he could take it all back, reel that vulnerability back in and hide it away from the person who could pick it apart the best, always the best. In in that moment where Lucifer almost felt like a person sitting beside Sam, instead of something inherently other, Sam realized that, yeah. Lucifer had changed. And maybe it wasn’t Sam that changed him, but did that make it any less amazing?

No. But it did make Sam a whole hell of a lot more jealous.

Do you love her?” Sam asked, and ducked his head to pick at the seam of his old jeans. Sitting beside Lucifer now in his normal clothes, the distance, the difference between them never seemed so vast. Lucifer fit in somewhere new now, and maybe in a few months, it would be Chloe Decker who he was whispering to, words like made for each other and it always had to be you.

Sam wished the thought didn’t make him feel sick, but it did. That didn’t mean he was any less invested in Lucifer’s answer.

No,” Lucifer answered quickly, then paused. He sighed. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. My brothers would argue that love isn’t even a thing I’m capable of.” Tap tap taptaptap against the wheel. “In all honesty, there’s only one human in all creation I’ve ever felt so strongly about before. And I’m finding it rather frustrating to have the two of you around each other. It only highlights the dissonance between you. And the similarities.”

There was no admission there, not really. But it left Sam with a strange, fluttery feeling of warmth and keen embarrassment. There was a question he desperately wanted to ask, but he wasn’t sure if he could handle the answer.

But he really, really wanted to know.

“Did you love me?” Sam asked, quietly enough that perhaps Lucifer wouldn’t hear, though Sam wasn’t sure if it would be a blessing or a curse at this point.

Judging by the quick suck of breath, Lucifer had, in fact, heard him.

They came to a stop at a red light in a congested intersection, and Lucifer made use of that time to turn his whole body in Sam’s direction. His eyes lingered on Sam’s face before they fell to Sam’s hand, clenched on the seat beside him. His lashes were dark against his cheeks as he reached out with infinite patience, taking Sam’s left into his right and turning it over to it lay palm-up between them. The fingers of Lucifer’s opposite hand traced Sam’s life line, then his heart line. Sam shivered.

“If love is a thing of which I’m capable—if there’s ever been a human I’ve loved since the inception of the universe, Sam, you should never doubt that it’s you.” Lucifer’s voice was a quiet, lonely thing between them, tinged with bitterness. “Whatever it means, whatever it’s good for.”

“It’s good for a lot,” Sam said, hushed. “He doesn’t like to talk about it, and neither do I, but. If I didn’t love my brother, you probably would’ve won.”

The sound of their breathing seemed loud between them as those words lingered, waiting to be acknowledged.

A car behind them honked, impatient. While they were lost in their murmurings, the light had turned green. Lucifer immediately took the distraction for what it was and shot off toward Lux, not far away now.

“Maybe it was best I didn’t,” Lucifer said finally as they turned into the drive beside the club, but was out of the seat and tossing his keys to the valet before Sam could so much as realize those words had been said aloud. “Come on, now. Don’t take all day about it. Man’s got a job to do.”

The valet stared at Sam, standing outside the car as if he were waiting for Sam to exit before he himself had permission to enter.

Sam scrambled out of the car, three steps behind Lucifer, as always, and wondered what the hell he was getting himself into.

 


 

“So,” Chloe said as soon as they were alone in the Impala, Dean mouthing along to a fair-enough classic rock station as he drove. He glanced over, waiting. “Your brother. Did he and Lucifer have a thing?”

Dean choked.

“No judgement,” Decker was quick to add. “I don’t really think Lucifer cares about gender too much. It certainly wouldn’t be the weirdest thing I’ve caught him involved in by far.” She frowned to herself and shook her head. “But, like. I’m curious.”

Why,” Dean demanded. “Would you ever think that?”

She flushed at Dean’s incredulity, and crossed her arms over her chest as she turned her head away to look out the window. “Because. I don’t know what he was like when you knew him before, but. He basically orbits your brother. I’ve never seen him do that with anyone. He’s so love-em-and-leave-em it’s almost pathetic. But around Sam, it’s the closest I’ve seen him to human.”

“Human,” Dean scoffed.

“Yeah, it does seem a little far-fetched after tonight,” Decker agreed. “But I gotta be honest. Because he’s been trying to get into my pants more or less since I met him, and I know he’s slept with more people than I even want to know since then, but—”

“Wait, wait. Lucifer has sex?” Dean cut in.

Chloe turned to him with a look that screamed are you serious? So not the point! “Um, yeah. A lot of sex. He’s a little bit of a man-whore.”

“And he has sex...” Dean’s face screwed up with disgust. “With... people.”

“What, as opposed to farm animals?” Chloe snapped. “Yes, people. Pretty much any person. I thought you would be, like, used to that.”

“Um, no. Nope. Our Lucifer, the one that was all about murder and mayhem, would sooner have fucking blown his own head off than willingly touched a human being.” Dean’s nose wrinkled in disgust and confusion. Lucifer, sleeping with humans? Could the world get any more weird? “Hell, he hates people. Sam’s the only one he ever wanted to get within ten feet of, and it’s because he wanted to wear his skin like Buffalo Bill.”

Decker made a horrified, disgusted noise. “Glad that didn’t work out,” she muttered.

“Uh, no. It actually did,” Dean snapped in response. “Lucifer... has this thing. He’s not a person like you or me, you know? He’s an angel. And angels aren’t stuck in their bodies like we are, they’re not born in them. They can just, fwtt, swap ‘em out whenever they want as long as the person in the body agrees.”

“What?!” Decker stared at him, her eyes burning a hole in the side of his head with the kind of horror that the newly-exposed seemed to have toward explanations of the supernatural. “So Lucifer isn’t even, like, Lucifer?”

“Nope. But angels, they can take over just about anyone. But archangels—the really strong ones, the big kahunas, yanno—they have to have certain people from certain bloodlines, or so they say. So that big deal a few years ago was just Michael and Lucifer waiting to get their grubby little paws on me an’ Sam. We’re what’s called true vessels or some other crap. They used to call me the Michael Sword, like that Biblical sword of flames and shit. And Sam, he was Lucifer’s.”

“So that,” Decker started. “That’s what he really wants? Is Sam, then. And he’ll switch his face, and...” she shuddered.

“No, I don’t think so,” Dean said after a period of consideration. “Lucifer’s a real sack of shit, but he doesn’t seem to lie—at least, not to Sam. And Sam says he cut his wings off. Which usually means that they’re considered Fallen; stuck in their bodies, not too much power to speak of aside from a few parlor tricks.”

“Parlor tricks?”

“Yeah. Maybe some telekinesis, some mind-whammying. Maybe a little bit of healing power. Those are usually the last things to go, you know? At least they were with...” Dean waved his hand and frowned, deep lines creasing his forehead and around his eyes and mouth. He looked really unhappy in that moment, and Chloe wondered what it was he wasn’t saying, even if it didn’t seem immediately relevant. “Doesn’t matter. That sound familiar?”

“Yeah,” she said with a nod, and thought back to Jimmy Barnes, to Ty Huntley’s agent being thrown through that glass, to the way Lucifer could make anyone and everyone spill any dirty secret he felt like hearing. Except for her. Why didn’t it work on her? “So, like. Lucifer’s powers. They work on everyone?”

“Everyone except Sam,” Dean agreed easily enough. “Though I think that’s a matter of choice, to be honest. He always seemed freakishly concerned what my brother thought of him. Why?”

“No reason,” Decker answered. Some mysteries she should keep for herself, she figured, otherwise she might go nuts.

He shrugged, not caring enough to pursue it.

“Oh, left here,” she said absently. “So. Your whole life, huh?”

That made Dean tense. “Yeah. Why?”

Chloe thought of Trixie then, and of the concept of whole life with what the Winchesters did, and shuddered. “Because I’ve got a seven year old whose idea of a hard life is getting time-out because Lucifer told her she could eat some of her birthday cake before her birthday if she really, really wanted to, and meanwhile I’m guessing that you were seeing some shit that would make grown men piss themselves.”

Dean fidgeted, but didn’t deny it. “I had to look out for Sam.”

“Yeah, but who looked out for you?” She asked.

Dean’s jaw clenched, like it was a question that maybe he didn’t even allow himself to ask. “My dad did the best he could. He taught us what we know. He protected us.”

“Dropping your kid into a horror movie isn’t exactly protection,” Chloe said with a huff. “I just. Keep thinking about Trix—my daughter. And what I would’ve done if something had happened to Dan, and that’s how I found out. But I just can’t...” She shook her head and looked down at her hands, imagining what they would look like covered in scars, soaked in blood. But all she could hear in her ears was her little girl crying, scared.

“Yeah, well.” Finally, Dean reached over and switched off the radio. If he was gonna get into this conversation, it was clear he was going to invest himself into it fully. “My dad was Marines, right? In ‘Nam. So the guns and knives weren’t really anything new. He came back and set up an arsenal like any other Marine. A getaway stash, you know? From what I hear, it’s not... uncommon. You know, for Rangers and Seals and Marines to do stuff like that, especially after being in deep for a while. So he came back and settled down with my mom. And she was... she was it for him, you know? Come to find out, sounds like Michael had a hand in that.” Dean’s hands tightened around the wheel, and Chloe wanted to ask, but could tell now wasn’t the time. “But, really. They had a big damn love. Two kids and a picket fence. But my mom came from a family of Hunters, like Sam and I. She just never... told. Never wanted us to grow up like that, I guess. Not that it mattered. Because a really big, bad demon showed up one night and pinned her to the ceiling of my brother’s nursery. It gutted her and burned her alive. And my dad saw it all. Saw her burn. Handed my brother to me and told me to get the hell out. And that’s how it started.”

“God,” Chloe said. She leaned over, nauseous. “God.”

“Hey, hey,” Dean warned, distracted. “No throwing up in Baby.”

“Shut up, I’m not gonna throw up,” Chloe snapped. She rubbed her hands over her face, and the chill in her fingers was enough like cold water to bring her back to herself. “So a demon, huh? Like the one—”

“No,” Dean said. “No. Worse, so much worse. Worse than you can even imagine.” He swallowed, audible over the whirr of the tires against the asphalt. “Normal demons, they’ve got black eyes, like you saw. Then you’ve got your red-eyed crossroads demons, the ones that are in charge of making deals. Those are the ones you can actually sell your soul to. Been there.” When Chloe made to interrupt, he waved her off. “Sam got murdered once, I fixed it. Whatever. Long time ago. Then you’ve got your big, bad demons. Your higher-ups. Your Hell-generals and whatnot. Yellow-Eyes was the only one of his kind, I’m pretty sure. Named Azazel. And he was a whole host of bad that you don’t even want to know about. Sam and I got him for good in 2007. Then you’ve got your white-eyed demons. That’s Lilith, the first demon, and Alistair, the one in charge of torturing damned souls. And I mean your really bad, like your genocidal asswipes and crimes-against-humanity types. He, uh. When I got to Hell, he was in charge of me for a while. Part of Hell’s big plan to set Lucifer free the first time.” He rubbed a hand back through his hair, to the back of his neck, and let it linger there. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this.”

“No, don’t stop,” Chloe said. She paused when Dean glanced over. “Look, when I got shot a few months back, they told me that the best way to get that shit out is to talk about it. And something tells me you’re not really the talking type. Not to those who don’t already know.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Dean agreed easily enough. He nodded, then, nerves steeled. “Anyway, the time I was down there was long. A lot longer than time seems up here. Years and years. Decades. And I cracked eventually. I won’t give you all the details, but. It wasn’t good. And then, this... fucking douche,” he burst into laughter, but the rough kind that was just as contaminated with the ugly and the hurt as it was the good times, the kind that came out when tears just couldn’t. “Castiel. Damn, you would’ve liked Cas. He was just so. He had such a stick up his ass. Clueless as they come. And he was the first angel I ever met. And time and time again did that guy save my bacon. Pulled me out of Hell. Helped us fight everything the world threw at us trying to save this friggin’ planet. Gave everything over and over again, and for what? Me and Sam?”

“Well...” Chloe said slowly. “I dunno how you think about it. But what you and Sam do, if what you’ve been saying is real... that’s some pretty extreme shit, you know? And a lot of crap to wade through on your own. Sounds like you gave everything you had. Why wouldn’t someone else?”

“Because—‘cause Sam and I are just people. We just. I dunno, it’s what we do. We’ve never known anything else. But an angel? To Fall for us.”

He said us, but she was pretty sure he meant me. Chloe looked at Dean then, saw the pain on his face, and knew it was more than Dean was saying. “What happened? To your friend.”

Dean slammed his hand against the edge of the wheel and turned his face away. He wasn’t ready to talk, that much was clear, but Chloe could tell he needed to. So she waited.

“He fucked up,” Dean said finally. “We fixed everything and Sam beat Lucifer and jumped in a hole and I went home with a dead brother and not a friend to my name. Turns out Lucifer got out of the hole and ended up here, but Sam didn’t.” He hit the wheel again and audibly grit his teeth. “Sam spent months in Hell. And when you’re down there, that’s years. Years and years and years. And he came back broken, when he came back, because somehow we always come back because come Hell or high water, Sam and I can never let each other die. But I tried, damn it, I did. But Cas...” The car slowed as Dean’s focus waned, but they weren’t in any hurry, and the wheels were steady between the yellow lines, so Chloe didn’t say anything about it. “Whatever. Long story short, Sam came back without a soul. Yeah, that’s possible, it just. It’s you but without all the feelings and the sleeping that make you a person. Don’t worry, it’s not like that happens often. If you sell your soul, you usually end up dying when the demons come around to collect it. But this was different. An accident. But when Sam got his soul back, it was broken, so fucking broken. So Death—yeah, I mean Big Daddy Death, the one and only; weird guy, likes his carnival food—did this, I dunno. Thing. Put up a wall around Sam’s soul to keep the damage in.”

“That all sounds pretty okay so far,” Chloe offered. “Yeah, your buddy made a mistake, but things were okay, right?”

Dean’s silence was stony.

Chloe winced, and waited.

“Yeah, things were okay at first. Until Cas went on a power trip. Because when Sam went down to Hell, he was supposed to go with Lucifer. But Michael, the big kahuna of Heaven, went down, too. Which left one of his dickbag brothers in charge that just wanted to get them all out and start it up all over again. Cas was trying to stop him, so he teamed up with the new King of Hell to do that.” Now that Dean was getting riled, the Impala’s speed started to creep up again. Her engine snarled as the gas pedal inched down. “And he got himself in big damn trouble opening up Purgatory, which. In case you ever wanted to know, Purgatory is where monsters go when they die. All the kinds of supernatural shit Sam and I have killed, except for hundreds and thousands of years. All of that, sitting and waiting. And souls, no matter what kind of souls, are basically little generators. And Cas was gonna power himself up to take on his brother in Heaven’s civil war. Except. Fuck.” Dean bared his teeth and started to shake, furious. “The monsters were too much for Cas. They took him over. And he broke that wall in Sam’s head, and then fucked off dripping black blood, and now he’s dead. And those monsters he took with him, the really big bad ones, now they’re out for blood. We don’t know how to stop them,” he said.

He turned those big, sad eyes on her. “My brother’s been seeing Lucifer for months, now. Crying in his sleep, when he can get any. Jumping at every sound. Barely eating. And Sam’s the toughest sonuvabitch I’ve ever known. And he’s been dyin’ slow, I know. ‘Til we got here. And now that he’s around Lucifer, he’s okay again. And that scares the shit out of me.”

Finally, Dean deflated. His momentum was gone, and it seemed pretty damn obvious to Chloe that try as hard as he might, the death of his friend weighed on him heavily, a serious loss. And the fear for his brother was just as thick, just as real. She wondered how anyone could go through all that shit and come out alive on the other side. For the first time, she thanked God that she’d only ever been a cop, and for her luck that these poor sons of bitches were out there in the world, making it a better place for the clueless people like her.

“Look, I know after all that, I probably don’t know anything about him compared to you,” Chloe offered, referring to Lucifer. Dean picked up on that and looked at her anyway, ready to hear what she had to say. “But whatever he is here? Isn’t like that big, end of the world stuff. He’s annoying as hell, sure. And he’s an asshole. Can get real mean and probably likes hurting people too much. But I’ve never seen him go after anyone that didn’t deserve it.” She looked ahead, focusing on the road as she arranged her thoughts. “And he’s weird around her, but he’s nice to Trixie. She loves him, to be honest. And once he broke into my house to try to make me breakfast. I ate the omelet after I kicked him out; it was really good, actually.” She laughed at that.

Seemingly against himself, Dean started to grin too, just a little.

“Trixie’s your daughter?” He asked.

“Yeah,” she said, fond and proud. “She loves him. It’s crazy how much she loves him. Asks about him all the time. And it’s never been more obvious that he’s got no clue what to do with her, but I think he likes her, too. He’s just... clueless, almost? Like, he tossed her doll and told her to fetch, and seemed actually confused when she didn’t go and get it. And he tried to distract her with bacon once.” She laughed to herself, incredulous, and shook her head. “I mean, it worked, because she’s seven and perpetually starving because she’s growing so fast. But, seriously.”

“Dude, yes. Cas was the same way,” Dean said, and the way he smiled lit up his eyes, even in the dark, and Chloe had to admit that yeah, he was a pretty good-looking guy once you took away the sadness and the thrift store plaid shirt. “I tried to get him laid once, like, with a hooker. I’ve never seen a guy so terrified. Den of iniquity,” and the way he said it made it sound like a quote, and Chloe burst into laughter, too.

“A hooker? With an angel. Are you nuts?”

“Hey, it was the end of days!” Dean said with a shrug and a smile. “He messed it up so bad. Tried to read her mind and told her it wasn’t her fault her dad left or some shit. God, that guy.”

He shook his head, fond, and the two lapsed into quiet. Chloe thought that maybe Dean was right, and she would’ve really liked the angel he called Cas.

“It’s up here,” she said finally with a little regret. It had been so long since anyone had talked to her like that; no one had been willing to reach out, to confide in her since the Palmetto Street fiasco, and it felt... nice. For someone to want to talk. For her to feel like she could help, and laugh with someone who clearly had as much shit under his belt as any cop she knew.

He turned into her driveway and waited, but Chloe wasn’t exactly in any rush to get out. Dan was in there with Trixie. He could wait a few more minutes.

Then, she surprised herself.

“Hey, do you want to come in?” She asked. “Meet Trix. I mean, you kind of. Shit, half the stuff you’ve done. ...just for a few minutes?”

Dean hesitated.

“I won’t tell if you take a beer for the road,” Chloe finally said, and swore to herself she’d make him hide it from Dan if he did.

Dean frowned and looked at his keys for a few moments, and then finally put the Impala in park. “Just for a minute,” he said. “Your freak partner’s still with my brother. But, like you said. Lucifer and Sam... it’s fucked up, but. He does orbit him, kind of. And Sam’s maybe the one person he’s never tried to pull any shit on. So. I mean, if you’ve got beer.” He shrugged.

“Say no more,” Chloe agreed. “Just for a minute, I won’t keep you too long.”

Dean climbed out of the car and followed her up the short steps. “Detective.”

“Yeah?” Chloe asked, pausing as she fished her keys from her pocket.

Dean ducked his head and frowned at his boots for a second, before he finally admitted, “Thanks. For listening. You’re right, I, uh. Did. Need to talk about it.”

She smiled and reached out to touch his shoulder. He jerked in surprise, but didn’t pull away. “Any time,” she said, and meant it. “Come on. Maybe there’ll be leftovers.”

“Lady, you’ve got my number,” Dean said eagerly.

Chloe laughed.

 


 

Lucifer’s personal library was, in a word, amazing. As soon as they’d gotten in, Lucifer had distracted him with the offer of a drink and a look a first edition books that were worth truly ridiculous amounts of money, and Sam was sold. The warm hum of the (really, really nice) whiskey that Lucifer had poured for them wasn’t enough to make Sam’s fingers clumsy as he oh-so-carefully flipped through the tissue-thin pages of books from the late 1800s and before. Beautiful early copies that, really, belonged behind glass, and Lucifer had brought them out and set them in Sam’s eager hands, just to see him smile.

He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt so spoiled. And Lucifer... just seemed to be pleased that Sam was pleased. His smile was light and came without effort, and the weight of his gaze upon Sam as he took his own sweet time with the priceless works of literature didn’t feel like a burden at all. It just felt warm and easy, like when Jess used to lay in bed and watch him study at his desk in between her light, dozing naps and their alternating shifts of cram sessions, hers on the med track, his in legal.

But then again, almost everything about being with Lucifer was easy.

That’s why when Sam sank into the luxurious leather couch and Lucifer sat beside him he didn’t protest. When Lucifer snorted and used his own toes to push Sam’s shoes off his feet, he didn’t complain. When their legs tangled together on the ottoman and Lucifer rested his chin on Sam’s shoulder, casual as you please, to follow along with what Sam was reading, Sam didn’t so much as make a peep. Hell, they were all but cuddling, but Lucifer was behaving well and not making any lewd comments, and in the end, Sam figured he could probably blame it on the whiskey if he had to. But he didn’t have to. Because he and Lucifer had some time, and it was... kind of nice to be the center of someone’s positive attention like that.

Sure, their conversation in the car hadn’t been easy; had even been uncomfortable and left Sam with more questions than he’d started with. But it also confirmed one of the things that had caused him the most worry, unspoken as it was. That he had become, or would become, irrelevant to Lucifer’s life. That he would just become some drifting piece of time that had already passed by and was better left forgotten.

But this—this didn’t feel like that. This felt more like picking up where things had left off, but if the war had never been real; if sharing one body had never been the ultimate goal. Like they were just... better, when together. Like things were easier like that, and made more sense all-around.

Like being with Dean. No, maybe that wasn’t right. More like... Dean being with Cas. Yeah, there was tension there; it came with the history. But there was peace there, too. Personalities that you wouldn’t think would fit together that somehow did. Little moments of quiet that were comfortable and simple.

Like this.

But eventually, with the languid warmth of the liquor and the weight of Lucifer’s chin hooked over Sam’s shoulder, Sam grew drowsy. He closed the book carefully and set it atop the table beside the couch.

“Something wrong?” Lucifer asked, his voice quiet between them.

“Tired,” Sam admitted, trying in vain to cover his yawn, and failing entirely to keep himself upright as his body listed to the side and left him firmly pressed into Lucifer. “Wish Dean would hurry up so I could get some sleep.”

Lucifer’s hand found Sam’s opposite shoulder, his fingers pressing down in such a way that Sam felt a dull ache crop up, one that had been lingering for weeks, now. He made a soft noise of dissent, but when Lucifer started a slow, patient massage, Sam melted under his touch. Guided by both hands, now, Sam leaned into Lucifer and let his muscles relax.

“You’d sleep better if you didn’t carry your day with you,” Lucifer said simply enough, and Sam groaned. “And as I said before, you’re welcome to stay. In the meantime, if you consent, I can address more of the damage done to your soul.”

“You can’t just, I dunno, zap me back to a hundred percent?” Sam asked.

Lucifer scoffed. “Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’ll take time.” Still, he continued his gentle working-over of Sam’s tired muscles, and didn’t seem bothered at all by Sam’s weight.

“Okay,” Sam replied. “I mean. Anything if I stop seeing, you know. Him.

“Him?” Lucifer asked, and Sam could hear the frown in his voice.

“Yeah.” Sam went quiet, then— “Him. You.”

Lucifer’s hands stilled. “Do you see him now?”

Sam made a small noise of protest and raised his shoulders into Lucifer’s hands, insistent. “No. Haven’t since we got to L.A, but. I’ve seen him everywhere else.”

Obligingly, Lucifer continued, but seemed morosely curious. “What does he... do I... do?”

“I don’t think it’s you,” Sam clarified then. “I mean, you’re different. You’re nice. Weird, but. You’re what I remember, from back then. And he’s... not. And he—he’s like. The old you. Nick.”

“Ah,” Lucifer said, but didn’t offer any thought either way. He sounded pensive. “But he’s different enough, yes? That you notice. That you... want him away from you.”

“Yeah,” Sam said, and his voice was quiet. “He hurts me. Doesn’t let me sleep. Makes me see things.” Sam turned his head slightly, and Lucifer’s knuckles caught on Sam’s hair, brushed gently against his temple. But under those hands, Sam felt safe. He leaned into Lucifer’s touch.

“And you haven’t found anything to get rid of him?” Lucifer asked, upset. “No therapy, no clever angel on your shoulder to fix you? What happened to Heaven? Surely they could’ve—”

“Why would they?” Sam asked without feeling. “I messed up their plans. Hell, Cas had to fight off Raphael to prevent Apocalypse Part Two.”

“Cas—what, not Castiel?” Lucifer demanded, but was careful with his hands as he moved them into Sam’s hair, rubbing the tension away from the crown of his head. “I seem to remember blowing him to bits.”

“Didn’t take. But it doesn’t matter. He’s gone now.” Sam sighed and arched his neck to give Lucifer better access. “Obviously, he wasn’t strong enough to take Raphael on by himself. He used the souls in Purgatory to even the field, but they were too much for him in the end.”

Purgatory.”

“Yes.”

“Did he put the souls back where they belonged?”

Sam looked up into Lucifer’s deadly-calm face. Once again, his hands had stilled. “Huh?”

“Whatever ritual he used—did he reverse it?”

“No,” Sam answered slowly. “He just... eventually we tracked him down. He just kind of walked into a river and, like. Drowned, best we can guess. But we never found his body.”

“Angels do not drown,” Lucifer said, and pulled his hands away. “And monsters do not disappear.”

Sam turned to face Lucifer. “Yeah, we know. This guy, Dick Roman—he was this billionaire businessman, but he’s actually a Leviathan. Dean and I have been tracking them, or trying.” Sam glanced away, his eyes focusing on the books still on the shelves. “We’ve got some good intel. And we know how to hurt the foot soldiers, but. Bobby got shot. He died.” Sam’s jaw clenched. The burn in his eyes was something he couldn’t stop entirely, but was able to fight back.

Lucifer sat up, and for once, he had no words of comfort for Sam. Instead, when Sam’s attention returned, he looked strangely sickened.

“What?” Sam asked.

“Leviathan,” Lucifer said. “Walking my father’s Earth. And you...” Lucifer’s hands curled into fists. His knuckles went white. His eyes were downcast and he wouldn’t look at Sam then, and when Sam reached out to place his fingers on Lucifer’s knee (a simple touch, he thought, human comfort) his nostrils flared and his eyes actually flashed red.

Sam recoiled. “Lucifer.”

“You’ve been hunting them,” Lucifer said.

Sam bristled. “Yeah. That’s what we do, in case you didn’t know.”

Lucifer looked up with his glowing eyes, straight at Sam, and hissed, “You could have been destroyed.” Like it was the worst thing Sam had ever done, a personal affront. Something unforgivable. Like it wasn’t basically Sam’s job to hunt down evil things and put his life at risk every day.

“I could always be killed,” Sam said.

Killed?!” Lucifer roared suddenly and was on his feet, away from Sam, his back turned and shaking. Sam shrank back into the sofa, his heart pounding at the sudden change in the creature that had been so careful with him—so far. “So far away from me Sam, and you could be ripped into pieces any day. But, no—that, at least, I could fix; or I could have,” he snarled. Still, he kept his back to Sam. Still, he didn’t turn around. “When a Leviathan feeds, Sam, do you know what happens?”

Sam shook his head, mute. Then, realizing Lucifer couldn’t see, he offered simply, “Aside from death?”

“It isn’t just death,” Lucifer said in a direction that was most clearly labeled not toward Sam. “It’s obliteration. Annihilation. Consumption in its most primal form. When any creature is eaten by a corporeal Leviathan, there is nothing left to bring back.”

Sam stilled.

Lucifer whirled on him. Finally, his eyes were back to their glittering darkness, though full of fury. “Yes, that’s right. If you or your idiot brother manage to get yourselves properly eaten by those metaphysical piranhas, nothing below God Himself could save you. Not angels, not reapers, not even Death.”

Sam opened his mouth, then closed it. Okay, he could see how that might be a little bit of a game changer, and even more of a problem. But that didn’t answer one question that seemed pretty important. “Why do you care?” Sam asked, but not unkindly. “Look, you fucked off here to L.A. and I’ve been hunting with Dean like I always have been. This isn’t anything new. It doesn’t matter.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Lucifer echoed. His voice was dead, hollow, distant. But the look on his face was one of an oncoming storm, of a roaring fire below the surface of the borrowed skin he wore. Sam could see the barest glint of teeth in the way his lips were parted for breath, the quick and audible inhalations and exhalations that Sam knew Lucifer didn’t even need (hadn’t needed. Maybe he did need them now, but he wasn’t about to ask). He looked dangerous; gutted. Furious, of course, because Lucifer existed in a state of constant fury. Distant. His eyes were on Sam, but further away; looking into a place where Sam himself was not and could not follow. He wondered if Lucifer was scratching the surface of the future the way angels could, or if he were simply imagining any of Sam’s plausible ends with a newly-mortal sort of creativity.

And then he took a step forward. A stilted nother. Like stumbling, like falling, until the space between them was barely there. He reached down as Sam looked up, and Sam had only moments to be aware of the harsh, possessive tug of Lucifer’s fingers tangling in his hair—but also, the undemanding way he found his head guided just a little more up, just a little more to the side.

Those seconds disappeared with Sam’s growing awareness of Lucifer’s hands being warm.

His lips were chapped from cigarettes and alcohol, and his mouth tasted like the whiskey they had been drinking minutes before, and God. It felt like dying but so much sweeter, and the silently asked question of parting his own lips to open himself for Lucifer’s taking was so much less a question than Sam’s strongest desire in that moment. Sam moaned, helplessly enthusiastic to the reciprocal onslaught.

He reached up and Lucifer followed the heat of his palms closer, no protest as his knees met the sofa cushions. He knelt straddling Sam’s lap, and when Sam cracked his eyes open, he saw the black slivers of Lucifer’s eyes shining back at him between the fringe of his lashes. Though that didn’t last long, as the slick push of Lucifer’s tongue into his mouth made Sam’s eyes roll back in bliss.

Sam arched, shivery and electric, seeking more touch, more friction. That, at least, Lucifer seemed willing to give. He pushed forward until Sam was forced to lean back and rely entirely on the sofa to hold him up, but even that Lucifer seemed to want to test. With his leverage over Sam, it was like being surrounded, encompassed. Before him and against him was the heat of Lucifer’s body; above him, Lucifer was pressing down and in, consuming everything Sam had to give.

A breathless little ah was Sam’s best attempt at words. Lucifer sucked it down and continued to take.

Another moan morphed into a whine. Sam clutched at Lucifer’s waist through his damnable suit. He knew this was going too fast, that he should fall back, but it didn’t stop him from wishing there was bare skin against the same life line Lucifer had touched earlier.

Something about him made Sam want.

But that part, at least, was nothing new.

And that part, that was what scared Sam a little. Just enough to put a whisper of space between their mouths on the next inhale, and that second gave enough clarity for Sam to give Lucifer the littlest push—nothing that could move him, but a silent wait, please.

Sam pried his eyes open again to find Lucifer staring down at him. Heated. Wanting.

And then his eyes were the ones to close, and he rested his forehead against Sam’s. “If you value my sanity,” he whispered between them. “Never again try to tell me that your continued existence doesn’t matter.”

Sam let himself sink into the moment of vulnerability.

And then Lucifer was up, was gone; walking away like nothing had happened, Sam’s empty glass inexplicably in his hand, his jacketed back a bare canvas to Sam’s starving eyes. “Do stay, won’t you?” He asked as he headed for the door. “I don’t want you in that hovel you call a motel in your damaged state. I’ll check up in the morning. Rooms are down the hall. Make yourself comfortable.”

Then he was gone and Sam was alone, wanting and chilled.

“God damn it.”