“Where are you?!”
Sam stormed into Lucifer’s apartment in a blind panic and a rage; Dean followed along behind him, more than a little worse for wear after their hunt for Jeffrey and his demon. Not only was it the furthest they’d gone from L.A since discovering Lucifer there, but Sam had gotten a phone call two hours from the city on their way back that had sent him into some sort of tailspin. One that he hadn’t seen fit to disclose the nature of to Dean.
Dean had driven back at 110mph without knowing the reason why, so he was sure as hell going to follow his brother as he flipped his shit all through Lucifer’s shiny, expensive building. It didn’t take a genius to notice that something had been wrong with Sam for the last few days, either way. He had been pale, shaky—in a way he hadn’t been in weeks, and honestly, that made Dean pretty nervous. He’d thought Sam was getting better, that Lucifer (the real Lucifer, anyway) had been healing him. By every indication, Sam had been getting better...
...until this case. For the last few days, he was back to jumping at every noise, barely sleeping. But it had been Sam’s idea to go out and find a real case outside California in the first place. He’d said he felt good, ready, but they hadn’t been. They’d missed what was right in front of their faces—that demons killed indiscriminately and never had something so human as a list of targets. Maybe they were rusty; just out of practice from the few-week respite they’d taken from hunting to follow around the Decker-and-Lucifer dream team on their homicide adventures.
Or maybe they were just getting old.
Either way, Sam’s crisis was of much more pressing concern to Dean at that moment.
“Jesus, Sam, loud enough? I don’t think the soccer moms in Beverly Hills quite heard you.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Sam snapped without giving a backwards glance. The rancor in his voice was not quite enough to stop Dean, but it certainly gave him pause. “Lucifer, answer me!”
What the hell was going on?
“I’m here, Sam,” said the man, coming around a corner with a frown. His eyes went to Dean. “And you brought your brother. Delightful.”
Sam marched to Lucifer like a man on a mission and grabbed him by the lapels. Dean was almost impressed when Sam gave him a good shake. “What the fuck,” he snarled into Lucifer’s face. “What the fuck. You can’t just call and leave me a message that says you’ve been unsuccessfully shot to death. What does that even mean—are those bullet holes?”
“It meant exactly what it sounded like,” Lucifer said, seemingly unperturbed by Sam’s violent gesture. He touched the backs of Sam’s hands with his fingertips, gentle and placating. “I’m fine. If I knew it would upset you this much, I wouldn’t have told you.”
“That’s exactly the opposite of what I want to hear.” Sam’s lip curled in disdain.
“Who shot you, and do they need to be shot back?” Dean asked, because that seemed like the more important question.
“The first one, no—I handled that quite well, and I don’t think he’ll be bothering me again too soon; that one was the one that ended without bullet holes,” Lucifer said pointedly, inclining his head at Sam. “The second one was the killer in my most recent case. She’s in jail as we speak. No need to worry.” Lucifer arched a brow. “Though I’m surprised you’re not sending them a Christmas card, Dean.”
Dean held his hands up. “Look, as long as you’re our best option for fixing Sam from his special case of the crazies, and no one is ending up dead because of you, consider me on Team Lucifer.”
“Flattered,” Lucifer said with a droll expression, but then turned his eyes to Sam. “But I was under the impression that Sam’s special case of the crazies was well under control. Sam?”
“I feel fine,” Sam huffed, shooting an irritated glance over his shoulder at Dean.
“Yeah, maybe now,” Dean retorted. He crossed his arms over his chest and glowered in Sam’s direction. “But you’ve been a mess all week.”
“I was tired,” Sam said dismissively.
Lucifer cocked his head and stared at Sam in that peculiar way of his that reminded Dean of Castiel. Maybe it was an angel thing. It didn’t make that pang of loss any more comfortable. “Sam, what I’m doing to help you isn’t an exact science. The damage you’ve suffered is unlike anything a human has ever faced, or any angel has ever attempted to heal. I don’t want to think that it’s beyond my capabilities, but if after three of these sessions you’re not improving—”
Sam was quick to deny, but Dean felt ice in his gut.
Maybe.... maybe it was too much for Lucifer. After all, he’d basically angelically-castrated himself, or so he said. Maybe he didn’t have the juice to fix Sam anymore. Sure, Sam seemed alright now, but what would happen the next time they were out of arm’s reach? What if Sam got worse, and that worse got him hurt?
...maybe it was time to look for another option.
Dean didn’t want to think that he’d gotten complacent with Lucifer, with the comfort they enjoyed at Lux, but maybe he had. Because how, in any world, had putting his brother in Lucifer’s hands become his best option? He hadn’t even tried to fight it!
Jesus, he was practically handing his brother over on a silver platter.
Reform or not, a bigger threat out there in the dark or not, Dad would be ashamed of him.
“Sam, uh,” Dean cut in to their ongoing bickering. “Look, if there’s no problem here, then I’m gonna go crash. We drove a hell of a way at warp speed for nothing, which, good. But. I’m gonna hit the hay. Don’t...” Dean glanced between the two and made a face that he hoped didn’t show the queasiness he felt inside now that Lucifer had reached out to grip Sam’s shoulders, and the two were practically embracing. He wrinkled his nose. “Ugh, just don’t. Goodnight, bitch.”
“Jerk,” Sam replied automatically, and seemed surprised that Dean was in good enough spirits to offer their faded-usual quip. But his attention was soon reclaimed by Lucifer, and the two were nattering at too-close-for-comfort ranges again before Dean had even hit the elevator.
Going to bed was a long way off. Someone, somewhere had to be able to help Sam. Dean didn’t know who or how—but anyone had to be a better option than Lucifer.
It was time to consult the journals of a few old pros.
With Dean’s departure, Lucifer’s mask of togetherness fell apart. Sam knew, he knew there was something more going on from the minute they walked in the door.
“What is it?” Sam asked, and followed when Lucifer turned to beat a hasty retreat toward his personal quarters.
“Why wouldn’t you tell me that the healing wasn’t working, Sam? I thought you wanted me to help—”
“You are helping, and the healing is working,” Sam argued, but was not to be distracted. He reached out to wrap his fingers around one of Lucifer’s wrists, but he kept at his steady pace and dragged Sam along for the ride, instead. “When I’m here, I’m great. It’s just that when I’m not, I’m... less great.”
“That is something I need to know,” Lucifer snapped without looking back at Sam.
Sam stopped, and thus pulled Lucifer to a stop. “I didn’t know. I’ve never been this far away for this long. After that haunting before, I just thought it was too much too soon. If I knew I was going to have issues, I wouldn’t have gone, and I would have told you, okay?”
Lucifer made an assenting noise, but didn’t turn.
“Luce,” Sam asked quietly. “What’s going on?”
Lucifer did turn back to Sam then, his expression conflicted. “I’ve learned something. I have no idea what it means.”
Sam squeezed his hand once. “Tell me.”
Lucifer hesitated, then— “Not here. Come.”
He went, and Sam followed.
Lucifer led them to his room, once again neat and tidy after the happenings of all those days ago. Sam tried not to dwell on what the sight of that big, empty bed did to his stomach. Instead, he kept his composure as Lucifer led him to it and sat at the very edge, the strangely vulnerable picture of uncertainty. There was something in his eyes as he looked back over the mattress, and then back to Sam.
“In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I must tell you. And I don’t know if you’ll be angry, though I don’t know why you would be.” Lucifer looked away and refused to meet Sam’s eyes, though his hand found its way into Sam’s. “After you left, the detective... Chloe... was upset by an altercation between herself and Dan. She came to me, drunk, and wanted to have sex. I told her no.” He frowned deeply, still avoiding Sam’s gaze, and Sam felt an unpleasant swoop in his gut. “I still remember, from my time with you, all the things your father taught you. About sex, about consent. Even though I have an inexplicable desire for her, I said—but that’s not the point.” Lucifer cut himself off.
Sam was uncomfortable now. More than anything, he wanted his hand back, but when he tried to recoil as gently as he could, Lucifer held fast and turned back to look at Sam with pleading eyes. “Sam. I know that might have upset you, but it wasn’t the point. The point is what I learned about what happens to me when I’m around her—physically.”
“Lucifer, I think I could really go without knowing,” Sam said, the churn in his stomach decidedly unpleasant, and he turned his face away.
“Sam—no. That’s not. Sam, she makes me mortal,” Lucifer said.
And that... was not what Sam was expecting. “How?”
“Obviously I have no idea,” Lucifer snapped in reply, but his hand tightened painfully around Sam’s. “She doesn’t know about it; she’s a terrible liar, so I’m sure I would notice if she were doing it on purpose. More importantly, I didn’t know. There’s no discernible feeling or sensation to it, just that when I’m in her company, I can be hurt. I bleed. But when I’m not, I’m... myself. “
Sam nodded once, a simple acknowledgement. He didn’t understand, not really. How could he? All he could do was offer what he could. “So... what are you going to do?”
Lucifer turned his eyes to Sam. “In all honesty... I don’t know.”
“Okay,” Sam said. “What do you want to do?”
Lucifer shook his head. It was clear that he had no answer.
“Well, I can’t answer for you,” Sam replied, and tried to reign in his irritation—this wasn’t personal, he knew. Lucifer’s feelings for Decker were good, progress. Just because Lucifer had strong feelings about someone new didn’t mean Sam had to set out to persecute him; he should be encouraging Lucifer’s feelings of humanity, instead. “I thought you were all about choices.”
“When I know what I want,” Lucifer agreed. “Then yes, I appreciate my ability to choose. But now, when that choice seems impossible... I find myself as stuck as any angel faced with an open decision. And I’m sure you can understand; after all, you watched your Castiel go through the process, himself.”
The sour note in Lucifer’s voice drew Sam’s surprised attention. “You’re not... jealous of Castiel?”
Lucifer huffed and turned his face away. “You’re not jealous of the detective?”
Well... point. Sam knew jealousy was far from rational, but figured it was probably far more reasonable for him to be jealous of Lucifer’s feelings for Chloe Decker than it was for Lucifer to be jealous of Castiel. But it felt almost... normal, knowing they were somehow in the same boat, stuck between the same rock and hard place.
“I’m not halfway in love with Castiel,” Sam pointed out as gently as he could manage.
Lucifer’s head whipped around, wounded. “I’m not—” but he couldn’t follow through. That, more than anything, made Sam feel cold.
Sam looked away.
“Castiel got your every day life,” Lucifer said quietly. “I was desperate to glance your face in a dream, and he could come and go as he pleased.”
“It’s not the same. Circumstances were different,” Sam said, and it didn’t feel like a lie. “You were killing people—people I was trying to protect. But this, now... you could have found me. But you didn’t.”
“No, I didn’t,” Lucifer agreed, low and quiet. “Because what would you have done, would Dean have done? If I hadn’t had anything but my word to go on. Instead you found me here... with others to vouch for me. For who I am, now. For what I do. I’m hardly a saint, but I’m not a killer, either. Not anymore. This life I live allowed me to help you, whether or not it’s working notwithstanding. I wouldn’t have had that chance any other way.”
“But now you can have a new chance,” Sam replied pointedly, and though it pained him to say it, for the sake of nurturing Lucifer’s humanity, his kindness and his mercy, he continued. “Here, with Chloe. You don’t need me. I mean, I appreciate the help... but your life is so much more now. You made everything happen for yourself. You can have anything you want.”
Lucifer frowned. “Except you?”
Sam balked. That was not what he expected. And then, against his better judgement, “Do you even want me?”
Then, Lucifer ducked his head and looked toward their joined hands. “Sam, no matter what I feel for... Chloe, I will always want you.”
“That’s not the same,” Sam said gently as he could manage, and offered a comforting squeeze of Lucifer’s fingers. “It’s not just me you want anymore. And... you know I’ll never just stop hunting. My life is change; it’s motion and blood and you know as well as anyone that it’s dangerous and never ends well.” Sam sighed, and suddenly overwhelmed by the topic and the day, he leaned back until his back flopped against the mattress, leaving him facing the high, immaculate ceiling, his long legs still set mostly on the floor. “It’s probably dying next to my brother on some backwoods road in the dark where no one will ever know our real names because our trunk is full of fake IDs. Or, as it’s looking more and more like, it’s getting eaten by Leviathan and there being nothing left of us. Wanting me... I won’t say it’s stupid, because, like. We’re not rational. We’re not sane, in the usual sense. We live by different rules. But it’s definitely not smart. And it won’t help you become the new person you’re on your way to being.”
Lucifer laid down then, too. Balanced on his side facing Sam, he separated their free hands to brush Sam’s unruly hair out of his face with a tenderness that brought heat to Sam’s cheeks and an ache to his chest. “And Castiel... in knowing you both, he never became someone new?”
“He did,” Sam said, and closed his eyes. “And he betrayed us, and now he’s dead.”
Lucifer’s fingers stilled. “Bad example, perhaps.”
“All our friends die,” Sam murmured, and his voice broke. First their mom, then their dad. Then Ash, Pamela, Ellen and Jo. Victor Hendricksen. Hell, even Bela Talbot. Castiel, time and time again; this time for good. And now... now Bobby.
For Lucifer’s own protection, Sam just... couldn’t.
“Sam,” Lucifer replied softly.
“No.” Sam opened his eyes and turned them to Lucifer. “Please. I don’t dream of living to see the better side of forty, but maybe you can have a life, a good life. So please... please try.”
“I don’t know how,” Lucifer protested.
“You’re doing alright,” Sam answered. His hand found Lucifer’s fingers on his cheek and held him fast. He turned his face into the touch, and against himself, pressed a fleeting kiss to the side of Lucifer’s fingers. “So keep trying. And even when stuff goes wrong... keep trying. Someday it’ll go right. You’ll be happy.”
Lucifer’s fingers curled around the curve of Sam’s cheek. “I’ve never in my life been happier than when I’m with you.”
“And when you’re with Chloe.” Sam closed his eyes again and let himself savor the moment, despite the words that went out of his mouth. “And when you’re here at Lux, and when you’re solving crimes. Don’t throw that away for me. I’m not worth that.”
And finally, Lucifer got angry. His grip on Sam’s face grew possessive, and before Sam knew it, Lucifer had leaned over him and was glowering down at him when Sam opened his eyes. “Sam Winchester, you are worth everything.”
“I’m not,” Sam countered softly. “Maybe I was a good person once, but I’m not anymore. I might kill a whole lot of demons with that knife, but it kills a whole hell of a lot of people, too. One of these days, you and Decker might come across someone, and it’ll be me and Dean you’re hunting down. And you won’t be wrong to do it. Because whether or not a person was possessed, they didn’t deserve to die like that. None of them do. Jimmy Novak didn’t deserve what he got; neither did Nick. I’m guessing neither does that guy,” Sam said with a nod toward Lucifer. “Don’t build me up because of what you think I am. I’m not.”
Lucifer stared down at him then, and didn’t answer for a long time. When he did, it was hardly the answer Sam was expecting. “This body is mine,” he said. “Best I can tell. When I cut off my wings, I woke up this way. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. But I don’t believe this body was ever anyone else’s but my own. There’s certainly no one else in here with me, and angels require the consent of a living soul. Since there’s no soul in here, I... can only speculate.”
Sam nodded once, and his easy acceptance brought an expression to Lucifer’s face that he couldn’t place. “You’ve been given a second chance, then. Same as us.”
“For what?” Lucifer demanded then. “What good will it do? I can’t fix what I’ve done, who I am.”
“I dunno,” Sam said. He turned his head to the side. “I think you’re fixing who you are pretty well.”
“Lucifer.” Sam gently removed Lucifer’s hand from his face, and sat up. He gave himself a moment to stave off a wave of vertigo before he tried to stand, and hoped it didn’t show on his face. “Dean was right. It was a long day. I’m going to go get some sleep.”
“Don’t shut me out,” Lucifer said from behind him. “Sam. Please. No matter what you think of me, think I should do, think of this life I have. I want you to be in it. And I want to help you with your own in any way I can. You do know that?”
Sam forced a smile and gave it a few seconds to stick before he turned back to face Lucifer. “Of course.”
Lucifer didn’t look like he believed him. But when Sam barely believed himself, he supposed it wasn’t hard to pick up on his insincerity.
“Goodnight,” Sam said, and didn’t wait for a reply.