Michael is falling.
He remains an Angel of the Lord, the commander of the Heavenly Host, but he is falling just the same. Spiralling into the cage he had crafted for his brother so long ago.
The only comfort he has is that Lucifer is falling with him. He has not failed his Father, the Deceiver is being locked away once more, safely apart from humanity. But Michael had never planned on being pulled in after him.
The fall seems endless and Michael cannot help but scream his frustration as he and Lucifer tumble around one another, clashing with nails and teeth and wings that explode into being, trying to slow their descent. And Lucifer is screaming, too. His brother's rage overwhelms his vessel, shoves Sam Winchester to the corners of his own mind while the Angel snarls and tries to rip Michael apart with human hands.
They do not land so much as hit the ground that rises up to meet them. The shock of it makes Michael still in his struggle with Lucifer and he is abruptly aware of how barren this place is. Without the rush of their fall, the cage is stifling in its infinite darkness, the sheer vastness of it incomprehensible while the empty, dark space seems to crush in on him. There is no light here, no song of Heaven, no comfort of God and Michael is suddenly, uncomfortably aware of what Lucifer has endured.
His brother has pressed his advantage while Michael was slowed with shock and he is now clawing Sam's fingers into the joints of Michael's wing, twisting it the wrong way until the too-physical bones give under the pressure and Michael screams again, pain and desolation crowding his senses. He slumps against the hard ground in defeat, a panic rising in him at the sheer nothingness all around them here, cut off from Heaven and God.
Lucifer ruthlessly pulls at his broken wing and bends over him, growling something triumphant in his ear. Something that Michael cannot understand, cannot concentrate on. He merely whimpers and attempts to pull himself away, terrified and inwardly furious because this is not how his destiny was meant to be played out. He and Lucifer were meant to battle on Earth, meant to meet as opposing generals and settle this; he was not meant to huddle against the darkness of Hell. Not him. Not the Archangel Michael.
He is so caught up in the pain and fear of this place that it takes a long moment for Michael to notice that the unbearable vastness is lessening. Lucifer's fingers are not gentle on him while he bends his wing back into place but his brother's own wings have arched and folded around him, protecting him from experiencing the torment of this place and bathing him in Angelic Grace.
Lucifer's expression is hard and determined but he bears the burden of Hell with much more ease than Michael. And Michael finds he cannot help himself - despite the millennia of betrayal and hate, Lucifer is all he has here and he is soon clinging to his brother's vessel, desperate for the solid realness of him to block out the rest of it. Block out Hell.
His wing aches and he is racked with guilt at the realization that Lucifer can suffer this so well only due to experience. And his brother is still so angry. It rolls off Lucifer's Grace like storm clouds but even that is better than the bleak alternative. Lucifer is angry and bitter but still he folds himself protectively around Michael, and for the first time Michael wonders if his brother did not have the right idea. That maybe family is more important than Fate.
"Why?" Michael asks between wet gasps of breath, fisting his hands in the rough material of Sam's jacket.
Lucifer is silent for a long stretch before finally answering and Michael begins to notice that while his brother's Grace radiates so much hurt and anger that it is difficult to behold for any length of time, all of it is built on a foundation of unflinching love. The same love that has driven Michael to deny his brother since Lucifer fell from Heaven, that has made it so easy to hurt one another.
"All I ever wanted was to walk away with you," Lucifer eventually responds, his voice harsh and loud in this empty place. "And now you have fallen with me."
Michael must have made a frightened noise at that because Lucifer tightens his arms and wings around him. "He will come for you," Lucifer continues tonelessly, "and I will keep you safe until He does."
There is a long pause while Michael struggles with doubt and fear. If their Father was going to save him, why would He allow this at all? He breathes out messily and pushes against his brother's Grace with his own, half apology for things he can never say and half comfort for things he cannot help.
Lucifer accepts the brush of his Grace and threads his own through Michael's being, effectively distracting him from everything that is not Lucifer, not the Morning Star.
"I am not a monster," Lucifer asserts in a quieter voice, "No Angel deserves this place."
And Michael is once again embarrassed by his own words, made to relive their confrontation through his brother's eyes and experience regret for the first time in his long life.
Maybe their Father will pluck him from this place, loosen the locks enough for Michael to escape, but he does not believe it will happen. Michael is becoming certain that he and Lucifer are on their own, that he must prove himself to his brother by rescuing them both. It is an almost laughable conclusion given that he cannot stand to step outside the protection of Lucifer's wings but they have all the time in the world now.
And they are not alone.