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First, Do No Harm

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The first seven times Michael tries to comfort his brother he is shoved violently away.

On the eighth attempt, Lucifer snarls and snaps at him but is otherwise still as Michael curls around his back and holds him.

They have struggled their way free of the Pit, been given form, and have now been set down on Earth. But they are not yet free. Lucifer has been shoved back inside his old vessel, and while there is room enough for him now, he is forced to endure the body's craving for the demon blood it no longer needs.

Michael aches to just reach out and heal him of the pain, burn out the addiction and keep Lucifer safe. But as much as suffering this the human way is part of Lucifer's penance, so too is being unable to help part of Michael's.

Michael himself is sheathed in the likeness of John Winchester, his first human vessel. It would be such a relief to be rid of the nagging human soul he had shared with in Hell had it not been for his brother's agonized screams, always tearing Michael's attention away and making him shake with repressed fury at how helpless he is to stop this. When Lucifer's eyes glaze over and Michael knows that he is lost in hallucinations - memories - that is when he screams the loudest, rages and thrashes and Michael has to pin him down before he destroys this entire place.

But holding Lucifer down is the worst of all. His brother has flashes of coherence during these episodes where he stills for mere moments under Michael's hands and looks at him with such fear, such betrayal that Michael has to fight not to let him go. He whispers apologies and begs forgiveness even though he knows Lucifer cannot really hear him, knows that his brother is seeing him in those final moments on the field of battle so long ago, not here in this dim little room on Earth.

And it has to be here. Michael has commandeered the hunters' panic room, cleared it of all furniture, and is now lying on the floor with a calmed Lucifer in his arms - and for the moment, the only sounds in the room are his brother's uneven gasps and the ominous buzzing of the fan overhead. It had to be here - there was no time to built something more secure or better warded. There are still demons roaming the Earth and not a single one of them would hesitate in giving its life to feed Lucifer's addiction. So Michael brought him where his involuntary cries for his servants must necessarily go unanswered.

Lucifer is pale and clammy, his hair darkened with sweat and his muscles shaking in withdrawal. He is quieter now though he has not uttered an intelligible word since agreeing to Michael's plan, since being locked here with his brother and trading one cage for another.

Michael has never had the best grasp of human time and cannot now guess at how long they have been here. Curious mortal eyes look in on him now and then but he ignores them completely, focused on talking Lucifer down or stopping him from using his not inconsiderable power to tear the entire structure apart.

He soothes his fingers through Lucifer's hair and tells him stories about their brothers. How Raphael still refuses to speak with him for casting Lucifer down, how Gabriel never quite recovered after that battle. And when Lucifer's Grace flares with mournful light, Michael presses his lips against the damp skin of his brother's neck and whispers about happier times. Vows to never leave him again.

It takes a very long time before Lucifer begins to respond to him. Michael has gotten all the way to the story of the first time Lucifer noticed that life on Earth had developed eyes before his brother shifts in his arms and looks at him properly. He is so relieved to see the sharp intelligence in Lucifer's eyes that Michael breaks off mid-sentence in a laugh.

"Lucifer," he greets with a smile, reaching up to push wet hair off his brother's forehead.

Lucifer's voice is hoarse and whispered as he acknowledges Michael in return. He attempts to sit up but stops halfway, leaning on his elbows and panting with the effort, eyes closed with vertigo so strong that Michael can feel it thrumming through him.

"Easy," he cautions, shifting onto his back and tugging Lucifer down on top of him. He gets an arm around his brother's back and curls his fingers in the short hair at the back of Lucifer's neck. "Just rest a while, there is nowhere we need to be."

With unhappy grunt, Lucifer settles against him, resting his cheek on Michael's shoulder and concentrating on deep breaths that he doesn't need.

"We?" he asks finally, digging his fingers into Michael's side as if to keep him there.

"I told you, I am never leaving you to the whims of Fate again. We will face whatever comes together. As we always should have."

"I am still barred from Heaven."

And Michael thinks that should have sounded bitter or at least sullen but all he can detect from his brother is a resigned weariness that makes his own Grace ache in sympathy.

"Then we will stay here," he decides firmly. "I will walk the Earth with you for as long as you will have me."

Lucifer raises his head and stares at him, narrows his eyes like he is trying to determine Michael's truthfulness. Michael reaches out with Grace, surrounds his brother in his honest intentions, in his vow. He will not fail in his duty to protect Lucifer. Not again.

At long last, Lucifer nods his acceptance and stretches along Michael's body. He curls his hand around the elder Angel's shoulder and presses their lips together like a covenant. Michael is momentarily surprised when Lucifer does not immediately pull back, when the gentle touch becomes something more exploratory, and though he gives back with everything he has, Grace and lips and tongue, he is secretly thrilled that Lucifer - finally - has embraced something so human.

There is none of their banked anger and bitterness apparent in this kiss. This is all human affection, relief, and the desperate need to connect. Michael rubs his palms up Lucifer's arms and pulls him in close, ending the kiss only when one of the hunters starts banging on the metal door.

Michael reads concern coming from outside the room, fear that he has lost control and Lucifer is wild. The suggestion is so ludicrous that he lays his head back against the hard floor and laughs, the sound of it echoing off the curved walls. Even Lucifer curls his lips in a small smile and rubs a thumb across Michael's cheekbone, waiting out his mirth with gentle tolerance.

Perhaps he and Lucifer cannot return Home, but they have always been each other's world before and, now, Michael thinks that they are relearning the ease of their companionship, discovering this new facet of humanity, and rebuilding their bond.

And in the end, Michael cannot say that he regrets trading Heaven for the Devil.