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Under A New Sky

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This would never begin to fix any of the damage that Crowley had done, they both knew that, and yet it was a start. Damn these emotions. Damn this humanity. The warehouse stank of mildew and his body -not his meatsuit- hurt all over. Nowhere more than the spot on his neck where that bloody needle had been jabbed multiple times over the last hour.

"Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, hanc animam redintegra, lustra."

The notebook was tossed to the side by the tall hunter and Crowley watched patiently -hopeful- as Sam approached him. The younger Winchester cut into the palm of his hand, blood dripping forebodingly from the end of the blade and his palm. There were at least a thousand things he wanted to say, that he wanted to do, and none of them would ever fix any of this. There were so many mistakes that he’d made in his long life, so many things he’d done to people. The count of bodies… lives he’d ruined. The things he'd done in his sad miserable life hadn’t been good things.

"Do it, Moose." Crowley spoke, voice cracking with unbridled emotion as a hand came down over his mouth.

"Lustra!" Something ripped through him with that word, tearing him apart from the inside and making him cry out in unspeakable agony. Power ripped through him, tearing him from where he was seated, and leaving him in a momentary state, staring down at the younger Winchester and himself in the middle of some rugged ratty warehouse. Then he was seated again, inhaling a sharp, sudden breath and…

"Sam!" Dean's voice cried from the entrance as Crowley became aware of a heavy weight laying on his legs.

.-~*~-.

Lucifer brushed her fingers across the mattress of the manifested bed, watching Adam Milligan's soul twitch and shudder as it lived through memories. Maybe they couldn't make up for everything that had happened to everyone on their behalf, but they could at least try to help Adam. One of these days they'd be able to free him. It might take decades but they would do it, free him from the worst place in all of Creation. Send him back to Heaven where he belonged.

"Luci!" Lucifer was drawn from her distracted thoughts as she turned, Michael coming through the artificial door before it all crumbled away. Lucifer opened her mouth then shut it as the Cage began rattling around them. What was happening? Why… Michael encased Lucifer in his wings in a panic and Lucifer shivered slightly, allowing the gesture to comfort her before kicking into panic mode.

The Cage was collapsing. It was crumbling apart in a way that shouldn't have been possible. Nothing could destroy this Cage, nothing short of God himself and God didn’t care. Especially about her. "Do you think someone is freeing me?"

The clear answer was 'no'. No, they would not take Michael from her. Even in this hellspace, there was nothing that could steal her archangel. White wings spread behind her as she sheltered Michael beneath them, covering him as a bar fell from the top of the Cage, plunging downward at speeds that would surprise even Gabriel and causing her to cry out in pain as it ripped through the sensitive flesh of two of her overlapping wings.

Michael was safe.

"Lucifer, you ignorant-"

"Call me a human and I will destroy you." Lucifer warned without any true threat as Michael spread his wings, wrapping his arms around her torso. "What in God's name are you doing, Michael?"

"Don't blasphemy, Lucifer." Michael chastised her without any of the true purpose behind the words that had once existed. Then Michael was pulling her into his Grace, launching himself upwards with Lucifer in tow. Adam was with them too, wrapped in the fray and clinging desperately to Michael’s leg.

"There is no way-" Michael cut her off by wrapping one his six tails around her leg and squeezing tightly in a long ago implanted signal of 'shut up'. Lucifer was just about to ask something else of him when Michael screamed, becoming a massive weight that sent the both of them plunging downwards. "Michael!" Lucifer shouted, catching her mate's weight and fighting to hold the both of them as she continued their flight upwards. No.

This couldn't happen. Not here. Not now.

"If you die on me now, Michael, I will kill you!" Images of what was supposedly her dead at the hands of Michael flashed across her eyesight as she fought to hold him to her chest. That hadn't been right. That had been God’s plan. Not the reality of the situation. Michael would never kill her and neither of them would die. It was an immense trial for her to carry God's oldest Archangel under the strength of only one set of fully functional wings. The biggest hope was when he glanced down, saw Michael’s tail wrapped tightly around Adam. Michael was alive. Lucifer had no idea what was wrong with him but Michael was alive and he was holding onto that soul like a lifeline, Lucifer could see him draining it of its energy and for the first time in a thousand years Lucifer couldn't find himself to care for the soul. "Mikey, wake up. Please wake up." Lucifer whispered as they shot out of Hell.

Chapter Text

Sam Winchester held onto the side of his head when sharp shooting pains shot through his temple to the back of his skull. Fumbling with her thoughts she struggled to sit upright in… where was he? Sam blinked several times, trying to get his eyes to adjust to the dim lighting of the… cabin? Was he in a cabin? A fire burned calmly to his right and he was on a couch. Where the hell was he?

Sam struggled to assort his thoughts, trying with all of his might to figure out what he was doing here. He remembered…

Help!

Help us!

Sam was assaulted with the sight of thousands of… people? Were those people? He bit down hard on his tongue until he could taste blood. Those memories of people crowded around each other, around him, were replaced with a faceless figure. The being radiated a cold boiling energy that made him want to drop to his knees and beg for mercy which was unsettling in its own form. He hadn't felt the need to be forgiven since Hell. He'd suffered at Lucifer and Michael's hands, paid for the worst of his transgressions. Then words were spoken and try as he might, Sam couldn't begin to place who it might have been.

"I am not cleaning up your messes. This is the last time. No more redos."

Sam blinked several times and- Holy crap.

In no time at all Sam was on his feet and crossing the short distance to the couch across the room. It wasn't possible. This wasn't possible. It was completely impossible because he was- they'd left him there. He couldn't be here and yet-

"Adam?"

A low moan of pain was the only response he got which was better than him being forced to bury their youngest brother again.

Think, Sam.

It occurred to him that he could be wrong here, that this could possibly not be Adam which… what was the chance that something had happened and Michael was still alive? No. That couldn't be right because Michael was in the Cage with Lucifer. There was absolutely nothing that could bring him back.

"I made a deal with Death." A fractured memory of his time without a soul seeped through to the forefront of his mind. Dean. He needed to find a phone. Figure out where he was. Who he was with. Was this Adam or Michael?

"Time to go, Sam."

"Tessa?"

"It's time to leave."

"Okay."

Of course he'd died again. That should've been significantly more surprising than it was, but he'd been there and done that too many times for it to shock him in the bit. It didn't seem any of them could stay dead. Which meant… his gaze wandered to the unconscious form of his younger brother. Younger brother. Wasn't that a weird concept? Yes, he had known about Adam for years but after Cas had pulled his memories of the Cage he only really remembered those short encounters after his resurrection -that ghoul wasn't Adam and definitely didn't count into his memories as his brother-. Being an older brother? How did that work? Dean was a terrible example, both of them were terrible examples of being brothers. They went above and beyond anything sane and rational.

Why was he alive again?

"You've got three seconds to name what in the holy livin' hell you're doing here before I bust all y'all to kingdom come and back just to do it again." A feminine voice broke the silence.

Sam really hoped whoever brought him back wasn't sadistic enough to kill him right off the bat. Of course, that wish was nearly instantly squashed when a heavy growl rang through the room and a large wolf trotted past him towards Adam, growling lowly. Sam made a move to go after the creature when a shotgun cocked.

"Nope. Talk. Now." Sam put his hands up, watching with a sickening feeling in his stomach at the sight of the wolf nudging his brother, growling aggressively.

"My name is Sam Winchester and-"

"Un-fucking-believable. Loup. Off." The wolf bristled, growling loudly and turning its head. "Before I feed you to Laren. Shoo. This is Mom's doing. Fucker. Out. I will castrate you." The wolf snarled defiantly one time before turning and shoving past Sam with surprising force and knocking him back on his ass. "You little dick! Out!" The wolf yelped as a small- kid? appeared before him, offering her hand. "My name's Gaea. Death's kid. Long story. Up, Winchester. I need you the fuck outta here before you get me killed. I like living, thank you very much. It's kinda my thing." For some reason his mind just wasn't able to comprehend what she was saying and his vision was blurring a bit. What was happening? "Oh shit! Fuck!"

Those were the last words he heard as blackness engulfed him.

.-~*~-.

Waking up in comfortable beds definitely wasn't something he was used to, but waking up in a comfortable bed with… were those squirrels asleep on his chest? He blinked several times and forced his mind into override, using years of hunting to fully inventory his situation, or at least trying to. Was he hallucinating? That couldn't be right? Yet… what else explained the strange assortment of animals scattered around the room? What was happening?

A small creature that looked like a strange mix between a bulldog and a fox rose to its feet, sniffing at him before putting its nose in the air and jumping off the bed. As though it was offended that he'd woken up.

"Don't mind Elma. She's just a pissy little brat."

Sam jerked away from the voice as that same girl materialized at the foot of his bed, tilting her head and eying him quizzically in a way that reminded him faintly of Cas. Dean.

Dean thinks I'm dead.

Shit.

"Your little brother's not recovering very well but he'll live. Something drained the ever-living hell outta his soul. Wonder he ain't off in The Empty. Now don't talk 'cause every word that comes outta your mouth just gonna piss me off. Only reason you're here and not off in some road in ten points north of nowhere is 'cause mom thought it a good idea to bring you back from the edge of The Empty. Seriously. What the fuck did you do that she thought keeping you around was a good idea? No. Don't answer that. I don't want to know. I want you out of my house and out of my life, pronto. Call your brother." With a flick of her wrist the assorted animals were gone from the room, a loud yowl coming from somewhere else in wherever he was. A cellphone appeared in his lap and he took it, watching the girl for any signs of suspicious behavior.

Pointedly she spread her hands to the side in a passive gesture that years upon years of dealing with the supernatural did not reassure him in the slightest. It didn't help that the longer he looked at her the more his brain attempted to shut down. She had said a whole lot but basically none of it had stuck to his memory.

"If I wanted to kill or torture you I'd have done it the second you told me your name. Trust me, Winchester. I want you outta my hand as quick as a peregrine falcon. Now call your damned brother."

Sam did as told, dialing out his brother's most recent number and forcing himself to peel his gaze away from her to give his mind time to focus despite all of his baser instincts telling him not to take his gaze off the threat. It rang once, twice, three-

"Who's it?" A familiar, distinctively groggy voice came through the phone, an edge of a slur that Sam recognized all too well in the words. Dean had been drinking. It hadn't occurred to him in the least that he should've tried to figure out exactly how long it's been since he died, and how he'd died. It was still extremely difficult to think, the girl watching expectantly from the foot of the bed was clouding his mind and it was beginning to drive him insane. He needed to focus on getting out of there with Adam and finding out what the hell had happened.

"Dean?" Sam heard the sharp intake of breath followed by the unpleasant sound of the phone being dropped.

"Shit!" His brother audibly scrambled for the phone and Sam waited patiently. Why Dean was surprised was beyond him. Since when did they stay dead? "Sammy? Fuck. Hello? I swear to God if you're someone-"

Sam let out a sharp laugh, grateful for the thread of doubt there rather than blindly believing him. Dean wasn't known for taking his deaths well which meant- he better not have brought me back again. I went willingly dammit. "It's me, Dean. Really me."

A brief flash of silence then the audible shuffling of feet and clinking of car keys. "Where are you?"

Million-dollar question right there. Sam didn't dare look at the girl again, his mind finally settling into something that allowed him to focus. "Where am I?"

"I'll drop you and the shorter one off in Casper, Wyoming."

"Who the hell's that?" Dean's voice demanded angrily and if Sam struggled through his recent memory he remembered something about… her mother-

The phone disappeared from his hand and Sam looked over as the girl began rambling. Bad decision. A flash of dizziness poured through him and forced him back onto his back.

"Name's Gaea. Doesn't matter what I am. What matters is your brothers, plural by the way, have been brought back from the edge of The Empty by my dear- shut your ass up Dean Winchester or so help me I'll sick all of nature on you. Point is. Death brought baby bros up and I'm doing nothing good on them." She paused and Sam was forced to look away from her again to recollect his thoughts. Gaea. "I'm not evil, Dean. Might not like humans but I'm not evil. I won't hurt him 'cause my mom wants them alive. Baby bros. Plural. Now get a move on. You've got a six-hour drive in that disgusting car."

The phone reappeared in his lap and Sam muttered a reluctant, "thank you" as his mind slowly processed everything she'd told Dean. After a second Sam rose to his feet carefully and looked towards the door, Gaea gone.

Years upon years of research didn't need to prepare him for the simplest name he'd heard in a long time. Gaea. Mother Earth according to the Greeks. Of course, that didn't seem to be the full story with what she'd told Dean and his distorted memories of their first encounter. She'd said that Death brought them back but had also said her mom had brought them back. There were questions he needed answers to but in the long run he wasn't sure if it was worth asking them. What was she doing to his mind?

After a reluctant moment, Sam made his way towards the door, pulling it open and skimming the hall. Surprise rang through him at the strangest hall design that Sam had ever seen. It was about ten feet to the other wall where a large door sat. The wolf from earlier poked its head out of the door, rolling lips back over its teeth and growling at him before tilting its head and whining. The wolf looked at him, then to the right, the at him again and it took a second for Sam to realize the wolf was trying to tell him to go that way. That had to be it. Of all of the strange things he'd been through, taking advice from a wolf? That honestly didn't bode well with him. Either way he didn't know where else to go so he turned right and blinked because he was pretty sure that ten seconds ago there had been a long hallway there. Now there was a couple feet of hall that ended with a regular door.

After a brief hesitation on his part the wolf walked past him, pressing his nose against the door until Sam frowned and walked forward, opening it for him. Sam moved past the wolf and stepped through into a small dining room where Adam was sitting at the table, staring at a plate of vegetables and fruit in front of him in a way that Sam couldn't read his expression.

So, Adam was awake. Sort of. After a slight nudge from the wolf Sam reluctantly made his way over to the table, taking a seat so that there was one between them. It threw him off slightly when a similar tray of fruits and vegetables materialized before him however some part of him was grateful as he hadn't realized he was hungry until he was picking up a strawberry and popping it into his mouth, chewing quickly and swallowing it. Adam.

Where did Sam begin on this? No number of apologies could ever make up for leaving them in Hell with Michael and Lucifer and nothing could fix Adam if he was damaged. His mental stability was only because Cas had done something stupid and Adam didn't have that luxury.

The wolf nudged his leg as it sat down, giving him puppy eyes and after a second Sam realized he was begging for food. What kind of wolf ate fruit? Absently Sam pulled a strawberry from his plate and offered it to the wolf who gladly slurped it from his hand.

"Michael." A whispered word, so faint that if the room hadn't been silent for anything other than the sound of the wolf chewing on his strawberry, Sam wouldn't have heard it. Sam turned his focus to Adam as a squirrel plucked a blueberry from his brother's tray before scurrying off silently.

"Adam, it's Sam." Sam tried, turning himself so that he could properly assess his brother. Adam wasn't moving other than the shallow movements from his breathing and, now that he was closer, Sam could properly see the haunted expression on his brother's face. Behind the haunted look there was something else… what was that? "Can you hear me?" He tried and there was a brief brush of movement but other than that nothing. "I don't know what happened down there. I have no clue. I wish I did. I wish I could-"

"Stop." Adam said quietly, lifting his head slightly, his eyes meeting Sam's. "Leave, Sam." There was a level of completely and utter broken emotion in Adam's voice that Sam's breath caught in his throat, instincts telling him that this was a victim with something seriously wrong.

Except Sam had only ever heard that emotion in heartbroken recently widowed married women or men. It was completely different compared to the first thing Sam had expected from this situation. What had happened in Hell? What had happened to Adam?

"Adam, you should-"

"Michael is dead." Adam whispered before his tears began to fall.

.-~*~-.

The prospect of truly Falling from Heaven was something Castiel had never thought too much on. It was one of those things that they were trained not to consider and while Castiel had been cut off from Heaven in the past, being rendered completely human was an entirely separate experience all together.

A few glimpses of television and movies had not been enough to prepare him for being stranded in Colorado. No money. No phone. Nothing. It had taken a week for Castiel to end up hit by a car and hospitalized. In a twisted way, it might have been the best thing that happened to him in the week following his brothers and sisters Falling from Heaven.

He had done that. They had Fallen because of him. Trusting Metatron might have been one of his greatest mistakes and, if Naomi was right, it very well could have been Sam's as well. It was a matter of whether Dean had arrived on time or not. Castiel bit into his vess- no, his tongue until the coppery taste of blood infiltrated his system.

"Mr. Novak?" Castiel refused to turn over and look at the nurse. Every time he opened his eyes he was met with the dull sight his human body had restricted him to. Every time he moved, he was reminded of his aching human joints and muscles. Things he'd never truly been limited to until the day Metatron stole his Grace. Not even during his time cut off from Heaven had things been like this. "There is a woman in the lobby looking for someone matching your description."

An angel. A strange voice in his head warned him. Except would an angel recognize his vessel? Know its appearance? Most angels never made an effort to see what human body an angel was wearing. A frown creased his face as he considered his response. He didn't have his angel blade any longer, had no way to defend himself. What woman would be looking for him and how would they know he was here?

"I believe I know her." Castiel finally said quietly, not sure if it was the smartest decision. However, he was curious as to who or what it may be. Carefully he rolled over in his bed, eyes fluttering open as the nurse retreated out the door. Everything was so much duller with human eyesight. Where he could see the tiniest little detail of everything material, the smallest molecule creating it, here it was something else. As a human, he was limited to the simple object before him, a table, a chair, a… whatever that was. His body required sustenance that he had yet to really enjoy and there were a hundred other things that he had to keep track of.

"Clarence?" Castiel's gaze wandered to the door where a smaller woman was standing with the nurse. Castiel frowned at the woman, shifting slightly and watching wearily as she approached him. The way she had said his alias sounded unusually familiar and the more he focused on her the more he began to understand why it did.

"Meg?" Castiel asked as he shifted upright, ignoring the way his broken bones all screamed in protest at the motion because that was impossible. Sam and Dean had told him she had been killed by Crowley. Sam and Dean had said they watched her die.

"Mr. Novak, you shouldn't be moving." The nurse chastised from the doorway without making any move to stop him as he struggled into a sitting position, sharp stabbing pains shooting through him.

"What the hell have you done to yourself?" Meg asked as she approached him, her gaze wandering across him. Castiel watched her warily because no matter how much she had helped them over the years, she was still a demon. A dead demon.

"What are you doing here?"

"Getting you out of here before someone finds you."

"Why?" Castiel narrowed his eyes suspiciously as Meg stepped up to his bedside.

"The world's ending." Meg answered simply. Frowning, Castiel stared at her. Trying to decipher any sort of ulterior motives. It made no sense. None of this made any sort of sense. And yet… he believed that this was Meg, that she was being honest with him. Reluctantly he nodded once and Meg smiled deviously before turning to the nurse who was still standing in the door. "He would like to check out of this hellhole."

Chapter Text

"Oh, hell no!" Gabriel shouted, slamming the door in Lucifer's face. Fuck. This wasn't good. As if the shitstorm that was Heaven getting closed for business hadn't been bad enough, Lucifer was free?

"Gabe, please." Lucifer's pleading tone came through the door. Gabe. The female vessel Lucifer was wearing, the nickname, they gave Gabriel honest hope he hadn't felt in thousands of years. Something dangerous. "If it's not for me, fine. Michael needs us." Michael's dying. Those were the words Gabriel knew Lucifer meant. What were they doing out of the Cage? Sam had sacrificed himself to put them there and Gabriel had failed in his duty to protect his Charge in the end.

Of course, even if Sam Winchester was walking around, Lucifer had destroyed whatever connection a Guardian Angel had with their Charge. He was done with the nightmare brothers. In theory.

“If you ever need help, Gabriel. We will help you. I will help you.” Gabriel almost snorted as the memory of Castiel's prayer played through his head. It'd been years and yet, there it was. A small reminder from the world's most troublesome Seraph.

Even if Castiel was willing before, the brothers definitely wouldn't be and since the whispers said Castiel had been killed by Metatron, Gabriel was alone in this. Which meant he had to deal with this Michael and Lucifer situation on his own. "How in God's name are you out? Gabriel demanded, opening the door a crack reluctantly and meeting the gaze of his brother turned back to sister.

"The Cage shattered. Gabe, please." Now that Gabriel saw outside and he almost snorted, Lucifer, you pick real winners Gabriel mused with slight humor. The vessel Lucifer had chosen, a blonde woman with a fine tailored suit and hair tied up formally, didn't begin to match the large truck she'd likely stolen. Of course, now that Gabriel wasn't avoiding the topic he was met with the realization that Michael wasn't with Lucifer, in fact from what Gabriel could tell the only archangels in a fifty-mile radius were both him and Lucifer.

"Where's Michael?" Michael had been more of a threat to Earth than Lucifer in the end, Gabriel knew this. He'd watched the final encounter between them, had watched as Lucifer tried to dissuade Michael from his ridiculous vendetta against Lucifer. The world's most dangerous lover's quarrel.

"I don't know." Lucifer admitted and Gabriel bit back his annoyance. He needed the whole story. "When we arrived on Earth he returned to that scum Adam-"

"Nice to see your views haven't changed."

Lucifer gave him an aggravated look before continuing. "I lost them while seeking out a meatsuit."

Gabriel observed his brother's Vessel for a moment, looking closely at the molecular structure, the familiarity of her finally catching up and surprise making him let a startled sound out. "I thought all of the Campbells were killed by your lackey?"

"Azazel was a snake, Gabriel. I told him to never harm Sam and you know it."

Gabriel laughed sharply and shook his head, oh yes did he know. Lucifer and Michael both had held the intents for their Vessels naivety to get a quick "yes". Gabriel had pushed every limit as a Guardian Angel to try to stop that. Which meant jumping through a loophole that was dangerously close to harming his Charge. It involved manipulating Azazel under the guise of Lucifer. Which, looking at this aunt of the brothers, and the other Campbells that Gabriel had seen before Sam's soul was saved, proved something. Azazel had failed at his responsibilities and had been far too arrogant. This woman wouldn't contain Lucifer forever but she would be sufficient for a time and- Gabriel's thoughts cut off as he realized something major, a drastic piece missing from the body.

"Stop staring, Gabe." Lucifer demanded as Gabriel pulled open the door of his safe house completely.

"You removed her soul." This might've been the most cementing proof of how much Lucifer had changed since Sam threw them into the Cage. The Lucifer that had killed him all those years ago had been feeding off the energy in Nick's soul along with downing gallons of demon blood to fight to hold the temporary vessel together. A Lucifer who was considerate of anything and anyone that wasn't themselves? The Lucifer that cared? She'd died after they'd fought their Mother. After God's horrible plan to shove that Mark in his sister's Grace had tainted her. Made her go cold until a once pure relationship between the two eldest Archangels became the world's most dangerous lover's quarrel.

Oh yes, he'd been full of shit when he told Sam and Dean being True Vessels was a reflection of their Archangel. Sam and Dean hadn't been reflective of Michael and Lucifer's fucked up lover's quarrel. Just the right bloodline at the right time. In the end, he'd been forced to prolong everything for as long as he could. Even if it hadn't worked. God set me up for failure. Vindictive son of a bitch. Mom would've been better.

"I didn't want to listen to her insistent whining." Lucifer defended weakly after a moment and Gabriel snorted. Right. This conversation would be significantly easier to deal with than his failure as a Guardian Angel.

"Normal angels lock them down or knock them out. I'm sure you did that with every vessel you've ever had. Except Sam because you're a vindictive son of a bitch."

"You don't get to blame me for that, Gabe." Lucifer bit back defensively, crossing her arms over her chest and glowering at him. "I didn't tell God to shove that stupid ridiculous task on you. He was mine and you know it. Now stop being a petulant dick and help me because I need your help."

"You killed me, Lucifer." Gabriel snapped back angrily, because that was the problem. He had died. Lucifer had killed him.

"You tried to kill me dead," Lucifer responded with a flash of heartbreak, "Unlike me, you had an option. I knew you couldn't stay dead with your Charge alive. So yes. I killed you. Put yourself in my position, little falcon. Please."

Gabriel held his sister's gaze and waited patiently, unwilling to cave under the use of the even more obscure nickname that hurt like hell to hear. Lucifer grit her teeth, baring perfectly white teeth that distracted Gabriel for a brief moment, making him wonder the woman's story. No doubt a runaway from the hunter's life. Probably very successful. How had Lucifer found her?

Lucifer slumped her shoulder, casting pleading eyes on him. "Fine. Gabe, I'm sorry I killed you. I'm so sorry that I killed you, I had no right and I was just so broken and angry… I swear on the key to Mom's prison that I won't do it again. Now can we please go find Michael before he dies? Please. I need him. I can't lose him again."

That might've been the sincerest apology Gabriel had ever received from his sister. Honesty rang true in the words of The Lightbringer and for the first time in years Gabriel recognized her. His sister. Gabriel sighed and offered his arms for his older sister it only took a moment's hesitation before Lucifer launched herself into his arms, holding him tight and wrapping a metaphysical wing around him, pulling it from where it was stored in a pocket plane, and holding Gabriel for dear life.

"Michael fixed me. Forgave me. I can't give up on him now. Please help me fix this. Help me save him. I can't mess this up with him again. I can't."

Gabriel ran a comforting hand across his sister's hair, muttering soft words of comfort. It'd been so long since he'd held his sister. So damned long. Gabriel had never thought this would happen again without the threat of being killed, so his basked in it for a moment before pulling away, taking a pointed step back. "I'll help you find him, Luci. After that, I'm gone again. I won't get drug into this Fall of Heaven shit. I can't do this."

Lucifer gave him a conflicted look, wings drooping slightly before she sent them away. "You've changed since I killed you. Why aren't you following the brothers around?"

"You're joking, right, Luci? You rip apart my Charge's soul and don't consider the backlash it might have? Whatever the hell you did to him down there, it snapped me in half. Personally, I'm grateful. Those two are the world's biggest health and safety hazard. As much as I love living, playing Guardian Angel to a soul that just doesn't stop dying is hell in itself."

Lucifer looked as though he'd slapped her. "That's cold, Gabriel. I didn't lay a hand on Sam. I may be as you so elegantly said, 'a great big bag of dicks', but I've never harmed Sam. I respect and admittedly adore him for his ability to overpower me. This is more than you nor Michael can say about your feelings towards your True Vessels. Why would you think I tortured him?"

Gabriel opened then shut his mouth, searching his sister for any form of lies. It was true that Lucifer was The Father of Lies but it was also true that once, before they had been forced to cage their Mother, that Lucifer had been the most honest angel. That reaction was coated in blunt, honest confusion. It took a moment before Gabriel responded with reluctant honesty. "After Castiel went through his God phase-"

"His what?" Lucifer asked, half stunned and half amused.

"You know. That thing that you did and I did where we got this stupid superiority complex. The little fluffball that nearly killed off my mudskippers followed in those footsteps, played a half decent God too. Well, until he followed in your footsteps and slaughtered a bunch of humanity. I'm getting off track. He pulled a dick move and broke a wall in Sam's mind, pulled his memories of his time in the Cage. Sammy started hallucinating you. Everyone assumed the obvious but... Swear to me that you didn't torture him. That Michael didn't."

Lucifer shut her eyes and Gabriel watched her grace twist and twitch beneath the skin of her vessel as she went through her memories no doubt. Finally, Lucifer's eyes fluttered open. "Neither Michael or I ever went near Sam after he drug us down. I swear it on my life. In the beginning, Michael and I fought, a lot, then we talked. After two hundred years Michael recommended that we take care of the vessels that came in with us. Sam was gone while Adam was still there, damaged but there. In our entire time in Hell, I never once saw Sam."

That changed a lot of things. If it wasn't Michael or Lucifer that had tortured Sam, who else could it have been? The Cage had only ever housed one other being but she'd been lost before Lucifer's imprisonment.

Best not to think on that.

"Gabe, please." Right. Michael. They could worry about old problems that shouldn't be a problem anymore later. She had been killed to make place for Lucifer so it wasn't possible that she'd tortured Sam. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, Gabriel.

Gabriel grimaced at that hauntingly familiar voice. Some things were better left forgotten.

"Okay fine. Stop being a whiny little brat."

"You're the younger one, Gabe." Gabriel snorted at Lucifer's words.

"Says the one who got extended time-out from his adoptive father then his vessel. Come inside and we'll piece this together. We never make quiet entries." Gabriel stepped to the side as Lucifer stepped inside.

.-~*~-.

To Gabriel's surprise, finding where Michael landed was going to be a bit of a bigger challenge than he'd thought. With all of Heaven Falling there had been catastrophic damage all over the planet and Gabriel had eventually been unable to look anymore. Gabriel loved the angels, the seraphs, the cupids, and seeing the death toll… it was taking it out of him. All of these years and wars and nothing compared to the damage that Metatron's spell had caused.

"Gabe?" Gabriel muted the TV and met his sister's tired gaze as Dog jumped up in his lap, growling menacingly at Lucifer.

"Dog, down." Gabriel scolded the rat terrier who whined softly, bouncing off the couch and scurrying out of the room.

"Isn't it demeaning to name your animal after it's species?"

"He chose his name. What do you want, Luci?" Gabriel asked, hiding the actual concern in his voice. Lucifer should've been sleeping and recovering from the heavy damage she'd taken when breaking out of Hell. Even though she had most of it hidden, Gabriel was able to see it. The heavy damage her Grace had taken was leaking through even though Lucifer was making a point of masking most of her True Form. Lucifer had been relentlessly searching for Michael instead and it was showing just how much it was draining on her.

You should've kicked him to the corner. Maybe he should've, but he didn't, and having his sister act like his sister again made it worth it. Even if it kept him from enjoying himself.

"I have news." Lucifer told him, absently wrapping her arms around her side in a way that reminded Gabriel of when Lucifer was young and helping him with the fledglings, back in the days when they would work with the fledglings for endless spans of time.

"Is it good news?" Gabriel asked hopefully, expecting nothing good but risking asking.

"No." Lucifer shifted slightly, looking away. "I believe I know why the Cage shattered and it has me a bit worried. I brought two of my loyalists back," Well that explained why she was still so drained, demon resurrection wasn’t an easy task for anyone. "The ones that would follow me without question. At least that was my impression. Rosier left as soon as she was revived." Gabriel couldn't help the sharp laugh that escaped him which Lucifer glared at him for. "What's so funny, Gabriel?"

"You're as far out of the loop as I'm out of Heaven. Rosier's in love with little Castiel. No doubt the second you brought her back she went to find the feathery little Seraph."

"Demons don't love." Lucifer responded bitterly, shaking her head. Of course she wouldn't like the prospect of a demon being capable of love. It made sense. She'd created demons as proof to God that humans were corrupt. If a demon could love it was proving her wrong and proving Him right.

"Rosier isn't going to follow you, Luci. Not when Castiel is still alive and kicking. And no, we aren't going to kill him if he is still alive. Who else did you revive?" Lucifer glared at him venomously, wings shimmering slightly into the ethereal plane behind her and revealing blood patches that Gabriel hated seeing. In hopes of getting his sister back on track he gave her a benefit of the doubt line that he honestly didn't believe. "Ninety nine percent of your demons are sadistic self-centered dicks. Rosier is just the exception to the rule. Now spill. Which other poor tainted human soul did you revive?"

"Verrine." Lucifer said softly as her wings disappeared. This time it was Gabriel who went on the defensive, wings flaring behind him as he launched out of the couch he had been lounging in.

"Where the fuck is that demon bitch?" Gabriel demanded of his sister, Lucifer crossed her arms, unfazed by the anger in her brother's reaction.

"She's doing as told, as she's always done."

"Do you have any fucking clue what her manipulations did to my responsibilities? Are you fucking kidding me, Lucifer? The demon that fucked my Charge over and I couldn't touch because he decided to be a dumbass and love and trust her?"

"I'm sorry you don't like her but she did what she had to and died for it under my orders. She's loyal, Gabe. Loyal to the death which is a whole lot more than most of us can say."

Gabriel bared his teeth, unable to articulate a response. This was a recurring issue between them. It always fell back on the damned Apocalypse. Gabriel had been given the task of protecting Sam which meant anything Lucifer had done to push the situation was an argument point. Verrine, better known as Ruby, had been the one thing that Gabriel had been unable to do anything about. By the time he'd understood her intentions Sam had been gone to him.

"Gabriel, I get that you're angry with me but we'll have to get past the Apocalypse. It's over. Mikey and I are together again. And everyone's stranded on Earth and in The Veil."

That got Gabriel's attention. There was no reason everyone should be locked out of everything. "Hell is closed. Completely. Someone shut the Hell gates at the same time that Metatron threw the angels out of Heaven and locked it down. According to Verrine, The Veil is so tightly packed demons can't use it to travel and the Reapers are being forced to take human souls to Purgatory to clear it out." Lucifer took a breath and ran a hand through her hair nervously, "We need to find him."

"Michael isn't going to magically be able to reopen both Heaven and Hell, Luci. Don't you dare use that as an excuse to push me. I don't want to look at the death toll. I don't want to see what's happening to the younglings."

"I'm not asking you to do that. I'm asking you to help me find Michael. Not the little ones. I'm still weak, Gabe. I can't just fly around Earth looking for him."

"And I can? I have things to do and a reputation to uphold. I won't get drug into the middle of this romantic tragedy, Luci."

"I'm not asking a whole lot of you. Besides. You're not doing anything. All you've done is hide out in your room and sleep." Lucifer bristled, wings fluffing out behind her angrily. Gabriel didn't let that guilt trip him. Not this time.

"Actually, I haven't slept. I've been doing my job as Loki, Lucifer. Remember? The identity that you nearly destroyed me over?"

"I remember you playing off defending your Charge as defending that Pagan, Kali." Gabriel winced at that. Ah, Kali. Gabriel hadn't seen her since soon after his resurrection but she'd promised to keep his true identity as a secret. Not that it had stung any less that she had tried to kill him. Apparently dying for someone, even if it was an act, did have its merits. Not that he intended on repeating it.

"Like it or not, Lucifer. Those Pagans you speak so poorly of are my family as well. I have a place with them that I never had in Heaven."

"Neither of us ever had a place in Heaven, Gabriel. It didn't make me go off and join the Pagans and become a false God." Lucifer responded bitterly. This wasn't an argument about his life as a Pagan. Just an excuse to argue. No. Fuck that. He was done arguing with his sister.

Gritting his teeth, Gabriel slumped back into his couch. "This isn't going to work, Luci. Having you in my house and pretending you didn't put the entire world under your boot when God created humans isn't going to work. Pretending that you didn't try to wipe out humanity isn't going to work."

Lucifer stared at him, expression twisting to pained and slightly heartbroken. "You're going to make me look on my own."

"I stood by your side when we were forced to lock Mom away and when you agreed to accept God as your father. I stood with you until the day The Mark changed you. I'd do it again but this,” Gabriel spread his hands out dramatically, “This isn't going to work. Trying to pretend it's all okay is going to lead us to killing each other either over the Apocalypse or over a God damned demon."

Lucifer shut her eyes, the only sound in the room her inhaling heavily before letting the air out. "You're right, Gabriel. This can't work perfectly but you can't kick me out. I don't want to ask for help but I can't do this alone. I know you don't want me here. I have no one else. I might have asked Sam but he's dead and apparently thinks I tortured him. I need you, Gabe. I need your help. Don't turn me down. Don't push me away."

Gabriel groaned and looked away from Lucifer because those puppy eyes were going to kill him. Maybe their history wasn't correspondent but the way Lucifer begged with nothing more than her eyes was a massively shared trait with Sam. How could Gabriel refuse Lucifer when she was trying to be good? When she was trying to be his sister again. "Damnit. Fine. Just...stop with the eyes. You're worse than Sam. I swear." Gabriel peeked over at Lucifer to see gratitude in her expression. Damn it.

"Thank you, Gabe."

"Not doing it for you. Doing it for me." He lied, knowing full well his sister saw through it.

Lucifer's wings fluttered behind her before they vanished from the ethereal plane.

"I know you want to find Michael, and we will, but first I need to know what you were talking about with The Veil."

Lucifer's expression fell a bit but she nodded. "I had Verrine," Gabriel didn't hide his sound of irritation, "sneak into Hell through the Purgatory portal. I wanted her to find out just how much damage had been done since the Cage was broken by the impact of Hell closing. She said something has taken the throne."

That wasn't a surprise, of course there would be a new leader of Hell with Crowley missing. If it wasn't for the specific wording Lucifer had used Gabriel would've assumed that Abaddon had taken Hell. There were a lot of things that had been locked in Hell and Lucifer was ironically not the worst of it. Lucifer had motive and a plan. Most the rest of the things didn't.

"Did she know what it was?" Gabriel asked, running through the mental list of potential creatures and coming up with too many options, none of which were good.

"No. She said she'd never seen anything like it."

"You want me to tell you what it is." Gabriel glared at his sister who held up her hands.

"I've never seen any of the jailed creatures except Aedmiel. Since Aedmiel was killed before Dad imprisoned me in her place." Gabriel winced at the mention of Aedmiel, a name he had buried deeper than Heaven. One of the biggest mistakes in Heaven and it was purely on Gabriel.

"Okay, I'll look. Just don't be a dick and mention her again." And just like that Gabriel put the careful walls up around his memories of Aedmiel. No point in stressing on the past. Things he'd lost and wouldn't get back.

"I forgot that you loved her." Gabriel ignored the remark and waited impatiently. "Half-breeds are some of the worst things in existence, Gabriel." When Gabriel glared at her Lucifer sighed before she turned on her heels and left the room then house, a few minutes later returning with a demonic presence in tow that made Gabriel's Grace come to life. Gabriel watched the twisted creature step through the doorframe, brushing her hands on her jeans as she smiled smugly at him.

"Looks like we're on the same side, Gabriel. It's been a while."

Oh, had it been a while. Gabriel had confronted her about leaving Sam alone with an empty threat of smiting that she'd called him on. Things had changed and the field was different now. It didn’t change the bitter hatred he felt for her, the complete and utter disgust she brought out of him.

"Hello, Ruby." He emphasized the name she'd used with Sam and Dean and she just smiled sweetly.

"Let's play nice and not kill each other."

"I'll consider it. Come here, hellspawn." Gabriel held out his hand and smiled a reassuring not reassuring smile at her as she gave Lucifer a questioning look.

"Gabe."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. No smiting. I won't hurt her. Yet." Ruby narrowed her eyes at him before stepping forward, Gabriel touched a finger to her temple and resisted his baser desire to smite her on the spot. It was interesting, touching a demon that wasn't sharing its vessel, it made something about the body seem more personal though Gabriel refused to forget this was a stolen body. It took a moment before he pocketed all his Grace, diving into her memories.

Purgatory is hot. Burning hot. So very hot it is as though her vessel's skin is melting from its bones. Ruby is unsure whether it's targeting her or her vessel but all she knows is she needs to run. Find the gateway. Learn whether it's still unlocked or not. Lucifer has brought her back to serve loyally and that's what she intends to do. If she has to, she will die for her father again. Gabriel flashed forward through her memories, not in the mood to listen to her internally worship Lucifer. Ruby brushes her fingers against the stone protecting the back entrance to Hell, feeling a familiar power that makes her sick with dread. No one likes Hell. Willingly taking a trip down is something she will only ever do for her father. With a final breath of the tainted Purgatory air, Ruby slips through the crack in the fabric between two dimensions, inhaling sharply as she's met with burning heat rather than the usual icy cold of Hell.

"For Lucifer." She whispers to herself, her gaze raking across the slow descent section of Hell. Confusion flickers across her when she realizes that there is no one in this segment. Not a single soul. As she progresses further into Hell she begins to understand. The sounds of screaming is loud where the torture pits exist. It is louder than ever. Ruby doesn't dare make her way towards it. Whoever has overtaken Hell has changed the rules of demonizing. Torturing any and all of the souls. Something twists deep in her and Ruby recognizes it as pity. Gabriel recognized that feeling too but it wasn't pity. It was sympathy. Gabriel knew demons could feel emotions to an extent, if they were much younger or much older, but Ruby was in the center of that line. It shouldn't have been possible for her to feel emotions. Yet she was. Gabriel would need to look at her soul at a later point in time to check.

Ruby edges along the hallways with an angel's blade in hand, her grip tight and her gaze careful as she inches near the throne room. It is deafeningly quiet except for the now distant sounds of screams. It occurs to her that in the future those sounds will stop completely unless Hell is reopened. Hell will be silent for the first time since her arrival all those years ago. Ruby's breath catches as she arrives outside the throne room, the distinctive sound of voices coming from inside infiltrating her senses. None of the voices sound familiar which is promising in its own light. If she isn't recognized she can play as another lackey. Despite her desires to do otherwise, she pockets the angel blade Lucifer had handed her and peeks through the crack in the door. Her breath hitches at the sight before her, a small crowd of thirty creatures Ruby recognizes as nephillim, humanoid creatures with stumpy fractured wings, are kneeling before the throne. Sitting at the throne is the most attractive man Ruby has ever seen, a tall man with golden skin and long black hair. As quickly as she looks in she pulls out and runs.

Gabriel pulled out of her memories, suddenly very concerned because whatever that was had cloaked its true form from prying demon eyes.

Army of nephillim. There's more than thirty in Hell. No way would whatever this is only take thirty of them.

"Thanks, Ruby. Out." Gabriel ordered absently, she made an indignant sound that Gabriel ignored as he walked to his window, looking across the lawn with worry twisting in his gut. Whatever it was that was ruling Hell, it knew better than to let its species slip.

"Gabe?"

"I have no idea what it was, Luci." Army of Nephilim. "I think he's one of ours though."

"A Nephilim?" Lucifer asked, words stressed.

"Maybe a Nephilo or a Nephalem. Without seeing it on my own I can't tell. He was cloaked from-"

"It, Gabriel. Not he." Lucifer warned, a hand coming down on his shoulder. Gabriel understood the reason for the correction but it still hurt.

"I know what we'll have to do, Lucifer."

"If you think of them as more than vermin then you'll grow soft as you did with Aedmiel."

"Aedmiel was good, Lucifer." Gabriel bit out angrily, pulling out from under her grip. "She was good until you and Michael drug her into the center of your stupid drama. I know better, Lucifer. The real question is, do you know better? If they find their way out, we'll have to kill them." Lucifer stared at him with a heartbreaking expression before she turned and left him alone. Gabriel slumped to the floor and drug his fingers through his hair. This was not good. None of it was any good. Gabriel wasn't sure any of them would be capable of killing the children of angels. Raphy might've been able to if she was still alive but she was the coldest of them all.

They would have find Michael then figure out how to handle the Hell situation. That was their only option. Gabriel pushed back the desire to run before this drug him in too deep, after seeing the Nephilim he'd already passed that point.

.-~*~-.

Ruby sat outside of Gabriel's house and waited patiently for Lucifer's next orders. When Sam and Dean had killed her, she hadn't been completely surprised. After all, she had manipulated them into releasing Lucifer. It honestly had surprised her that Sam helped, up until that point she had known Sam loved her and she had put on a very convincing show of sharing the feelings. When they had killed her, it had been a group effort. Part of her would always believe that if Dean hadn't shown up, she wouldn't have died there. The most conflicting part of feeling her own blade in her heart wasn't the pain, it was the sense of betrayal that followed. Which made the entire mess all the more confusing.

When she was resurrected, she hadn't thought much on the moment. She'd been honored to have been resurrected, even if Lucifer's plans had changed. Over the past few days her thoughts had been drifting to that incident. An incident that shouldn't have had much bearing on her.

"Verrine." Ruby rose to her feet, meeting her fa-mother's gaze immediately. "I have a task for you. One I know you're well versed in." Ruby wasn't hopeful, wasn't excited, even if she was, she would never admit it. She didn't feel. She didn't hope. "I need you to track down Sam. He's been brought back… I think. You are not to confront them. You'll only observe them. Understand?"

"Yes, ma'am." Ruby agreed, waiting to be dismissed.

"Good. Call me as soon as you find him. I also need you to keep an eye out for Michael or Rosier. If you see either of them call me immediately. Now leave." Ruby didn't need to be asked twice as she spun around, smoking out of her meatsuit since she couldn’t access The Veil, and taking flight towards Midwestern America. Time to find a fresh suit.

Chapter Text

Sam held his younger brother uncomfortably as he cried into his shoulder. This wasn't what he'd expected with the news of Michael's death. Not in the least bit. It occurred to him that Adam had been in the Cage for a lot longer than him. A whole lot longer. There also hadn't been the innate hostility towards Adam for them being trapped there. It was completely possible that Adam had got an entirely different Hell experience than he had. All he could do was use years of hunting to hold him, pat his back awkwardly, and tell him it would be okay. Even though he couldn’t begin to understand what had happened that would make Adam cry over Michael’s death.

“Teloah ginai ge barinu elasa.” Sam turned slightly to see that girl standing in the doorway, expression somber as she spoke a language Sam only vaguely recognized as Enochian. “Elasa paaotza erm ome.”

Adam pulled away from Sam's grip and whipped around, rising to his feet and knocking the chair over with a crash followed by the yelp of the wolf it hit. "I don't care if I'm alive! I died because of him!" Adam angrily pointed a finger in Sam's direction as he took a step towards a completely calm Gaea. "Michael is dead and it's because I failed him!"

"You can't love an Archangel, Adam. A love like that ends worse than any of the others."

Adam stalked forward and Sam was moving, grabbing his brother's hand before he could throw a punch at the arrogant deity and hurt himself. Sam glared at her and she just smiled in return.

"Sam, get your hands off of me!"

"I get your anger, Adam. It's completely and utterly rational. Punching Nature in the face? Not so much. Now stop throwing a temper tantrum and go eat."

"He's dead." Adam hissed out, slumping slightly under Sam's hands.

"Angels with a purpose never die. Mom hates it. Now sit."

Pulling out from under Sam's hold Adam shook his head. "No. I want out. Take me somewhere else. Anywhere else. He killed me and Michael is dead."

"Adam-"

"Fuck you, Sam." Adam growled out turning on him and glaring up at him. "You killed me. Michael swore that he would win and then you dragged us down into that cage so fuck you." Gaea stepped forward and placed a hand on Sam's younger brother's shoulder before the both of them disappeared.

Sam tried not to let Adam's angry words get to him as he sat back down but they had. Sam hadn't had a choice. It was them or Michael and Lucifer destroyed half the planet. Despite what Adam had said, with Lucifer wearing his True Vessel the likelihood of Michael's win was significantly lowered, as Lucifer had burned into his mind while he was possessed. As had many other things that Sam had tried to dismiss as wrong.

"You can look at me now, right?" Sam lifted his gaze to the girl which seemed to be enough confirmation. "Sorry about all that shit with me blacking you out. It's this hellish correspondence between me and mom. She deals with everything afterlife and I deal with everything pre-life. Embryos, evolutions, hybreeding angels and demons or demons and humans."

"Mother Nature." Sam stated blandly, watching the girl as she walked forward, the large wolf coming into view and brushing against her side affectionately. Sam stiffened slightly in brief dread that she might kill him or have her wolf do it before she instead turned slightly, settling into what was once Adam's chair.

"One and only. I setup the basic patterns, Dad gives the ones with Souls life, Mom takes it all away." Sam realized he was grasping for an out from having to deal with the Adam issue immediately but he took time to indulge himself in this ancient being for a moment before reality could crash back in.

"Who are your parents?" Gaea smiled at him and tilted her head, her hair pouring over her shoulders like water in a way Sam was certain was deliberate.

"God's my Dad. Death's my mom. In human terms. I was born and Creation began. First God's Archangels. Michael and Raphael. Then Mara's archangels. Lucifer and Gabriel. After they dealt with Mara-"

Sam cut her off, "Who's Mara?"

"The Darkness. The Yin to God's Yang. Think of before time. There was The Empty, then God and Mara, then Death, then me, then the Archangels. Mara was locked up tight after she nearly killed Michael. I'm not going to give you the history of the universe. What you need to know's much more recent. As in it happened when you died a week ago. You dumbasses and your angel bud locked up Heaven and Hell tight. Tablet power is Dad's power and its left The Veil in a really messy place."

Help us! Those screams from before he woke up ripped through his mind and he winced at it.

"Mom's giving you one more chance. Both you and your brother get one last chance. Fix the fuck ups you did or she'll give up on Earth. Which is all kinds of tragic since I've spent all my life building this place. Without mom everything will just kind of…" She whistled dramatically, expression falling.

There were so many questions to ask the girl in front of him, questions about the being called Mara, the story on the Archangels which fit far too closely with what Lucifer had imbedded in his brain, and the question he asked, "What happened a week ago?"

Gaea narrowed annoyed eyes at him. "For Dad's sake. You don't remember dying, do you?"

Sam paused, dragging at his memory and coming up with cloudy hours of doing... something. It didn't take much to piece the rest together. Why he'd died, even if he didn't know how. They'd been closing the Hell gates, which should've been a good thing, except from what Gaea was saying it wasn't sound quite that simple.

"Of course you wouldn't. You were halfway to The Empty when mom drug you back. See, this is what happens when you let uppity bitch Reapers loose all willy-nilly on souls. I'm going to give you a short rundown of the last two weeks. Rest of that shit's on big bro. You and your dumbass brother have been working to shut Hell down. Neither you considered the fact it might be a bad idea. That shutting Hell might've had some nasty backlash. Well lo and behold. You cure Crowley, which I might add might've been your dumbest choice ever. Haven't you ever heard that saying, 'better the devil you know,' you closed Hell and died for four days." There was a brief flash of gratitude in her expression that quickly disappeared afterwards and Sam had no real time to think on with all of the other bombs being dropped on him. "Then Castiel went and did the same to Heaven. Locked all the dying human souls in The Veil. No Heaven. No Hell. Just Purgatory. Let's add to all that fun while we're at it. You shutting Hell and Heaven at the same time rattled the fabric of Everything. Popped free a whole lot of shit. Heaven had prisoners, Purgatory had prisoners, and Hell had prisoners."

Sam's throat closed as a sick sense of realization flooded over him. Adam had been in the Cage. Lucifer's Cage. With Michael and Lucifer.

"Now you're getting it. Personally, I'm thrilled. I was always a huge fan of Luci's wipe humanity from the planet plan. All God's favored creation does is destroy my creations. Loup here nearly lost his most modern descendants to your shit. Unfortunately, I'm bound by rules so blah blah blah. Stuck with you. It's fine. I manage."

"I let Lucifer out." Again. He'd managed to free Lucifer again. Were they some sort of beacon for the end of the world? Was there no way to avoid it? Was it just going to keep trying until it ended and were they going to be stuck as the heart of that end?

"Don't be so dramatic. You and that angel of yours did it together. Blame big bro too if he'd actually been directly involved. Team Free Lucifer. So far, Luci's been quiet as a mouse and seeing as Michael and her haven't snapped the planet in two I'd call Adam right on Michael's demise."

If Michael was dead they couldn't destroy half the planet. But if Michael was dead it also left Lucifer free to destroy the planet. No. Not the planet. Sam remembered that distinctly, Lucifer's vow that he would never harm the Earth. Only the humans. The monsters, the demons, not the Earth. "What's so wrong with wanting to protect the planet?"

Sam looked back at the child in front of him, truly looked at her, thought over everything she'd said, and it clicked together. She wasn't helping him willingly, in fact, there was a distinct look of hatred buried deep in eyes that were too old to belong on that body.

"You're as smart as they say, aren't you, Sammy boy? Yes, I hate you. Hate Humanity. Down with the human scum! Go Luci! Fortunately for you, I'm bound by rules and shit oaths. I'm here to give you a recap and send you on your merry little way to yet again destroy the world."

"That isn't-"

"Oh yeah yeah yeah. Blah blah blah. Everyone else's faults. Best thing you ever did for this planet was open the Cage. Worst thing you did was close it back up." She winced, muttering under her breath so quiet Sam couldn't pick the words up. "Fine. I'm being a bitch. You're doing what you're supposed to. Saving humanity, though I really don't understand why you bother, and being the good guys who makes dumb choices. It's fine. I'm not supposed to be anything other than a mouthpiece. I think I did an A plus job as well. Now I'm going to send you off to your brother and you're going to fix this mess for mom before she ditches Earth."

Sam opened his mouth to say something, anything, but was stopped by being engulfed in the radiant feeling of pure energy, wrapping around him and reminding him briefly of one time when Dean and him had visited the Redwood Forest. Pure nature. Life, oxygen, and then it was gone and he couldn't help feeling cold inside.

.-~*~-.

Gabriel poked his head out the back door to see Lucifer laying on the ground, staring at the sky. For the first time since her arrival Gabriel was surprised to see all six of his sister's wings spread out beneath her. Of course, that surprise was quickly replaced with a stab of guilt. Holy hell.

From where he was standing he could see that at least one of Lucifer's wings was broken. The other five were heavily damaged, covered to the brim in blood that completely masked the beautiful white that was The Lightbringer. Before he was aware of the action he was in the yard, a few inches away from his sister's feet. Gabriel bit his tongue when he realized she was asleep with Dog curled up on her back left wing, half blanketed under the middle one.

Lucifer had always loved the animals. She had resented humanity but she had truly loved the animals. Letting out an unnecessary breath, he spoke quietly, "Luci?"

His sister's eyes flicked open and she met his gaze from the ground, wings shifting slightly though she didn't send them away. "Are you here to be an asshole, Gabe? If so, I'm not in the mood."

Gabriel shook his head, sliding to his knees in front of her. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I was hoping we would've found him by now. I don't trust you enough to touch them."

And hell if that didn't hurt a bit. Gabriel understood, but it still hurt. "What happened when you escaped Hell?" Gabriel nudged instead of pushing about helping her with her wings, hoping his sister didn't shut him out again. It took a moment before Lucifer carefully pushed into a sitting position, cradling a still sleeping Dog in her wing.

"The Cage shattered, broke apart." Gabriel looked to his right as Lucifer shifted the middle right wing to the front, showing the gaping hole that had been ripped directly through the limb. A sick feeling twisted in his gut at the sight and Gabriel wanted to fix it. To mend the damage. The broken wing wouldn't have hurt nearly as much as that one. Something had torn through flesh and powerful muscle and it wasn't hard to guess what.

Lucifer hissed at him, sending the broken wings off the material plane and guiltily Gabriel realized that his hand had reached out on its own accord.

Offering an apologetic look to his sister he retracted his hand, looking at where Dog was still asleep. That dog could sleep through the end of the world, and he had. "I don't understand." Gabriel admitted after a moment. "With all of that damage… how did Michael get out of Hell? It doesn't make sense."

"I carried him." Lucifer admitted, wings drooping slightly. "I carried him out while he was feeding off of Adam Milligan's soul for energy. That's how I know he was dying. He worshipped Adam." A smile threatened to appear on Gabriel's face at the jealousy in his sister's tone. The idea of Lucifer being jealous of a human was unreal. Gabriel could understand Lucifer's respect for Sam because Sam wasn't human. Hadn't been since he was six months old. It was weird. It also had Gabriel briefly questioning whether either Michael or Adam had feelings for the other, or both. No. That was unlikely. If Michael had loved Adam, Lucifer would have lashed out. She had done it in the past with other angels. All of that went through his mind in a single moment, Lucifer probably wouldn't realize it. "…never would have harmed Adam willingly."

"Maybe that's it." Gabriel perked, earning a confused look from his sister. "We've been looking for Michael. If Michael was dying there will be a weaker energy coming from him. It's why you couldn't find me after you killed me. It takes time for us to regenerate our grace."

"No. It doesn't take Michael long to regenerate grace. Michael has Heaven."

"No one has Heaven except Metadick. Right now, Michael can't tap into Heaven."

Lucifer's eyes widened, fear crossing her expression for a moment. "Are you sure, Gabe?"

"No, but it's the best plan we've got."

Lucifer stared at the ground for a moment, attention flicking to Dog as the small ball of fur jumped out of her wings and made his way towards the house. "Finding Adam will be a challenge, Gabriel."

"I know. Castiel warded all of the brothers against us. I've been hunting down Winchesters for years, Luci. I can find the littlest one." Despite the confidence in his tone, there was an underlying worry he felt. Finding Sam and Dean was a simple trick. Gabriel knew how both of them worked and not long after he had ordered Azazel have Jessica Moore killed he had placed a basic tracking sigil in both brothers. Adam Milligan however? Gabriel couldn't begin to know the first thing about the kid.

Gabriel wouldn't break that news to Lucifer if he could avoid it. His sister was a ticking timebomb as it stood and Gabriel wasn't sure what would happen if Michael had died, if Michael had been killed while breaking out of Hell. Gabriel wasn't too sure what he'd do either. Once upon a time they had been close enough that he was willing to imprison his Mother for eternity to save him. Now?

Saving people wasn't his thing but protecting his family? Gabriel didn't want to think of what he was capable of now that he had his sister back. Even with fractured trust between them. Maybe...

"Let me fix your wings." Gabriel said suddenly, earning a startled look from his sister.

"No one can fix our wings except Mom and Raphael. Raphael is dead." There was a silent "no" there. Lucifer didn't want him to touch her wings. Gabriel played ignorant because despite everything, he was concerned. Angels shouldn't be forced to suffer injuries to their wings.

"I can." Gabriel pulled his wings forward to the material plane for the first time in years, spreading his golden wings wide and mighty for his sister to see. "I ducked out of Heaven and hid. I had to learn because I couldn't go to Raphy for help. I know you don't trust me. I tried to kill you. It's fair. But you shouldn't have to suffer like this. Stop punishing yourself. God has done enough and you need to stop seeing Him as a Father because the fact is He isn't and even if He was He wouldn't deserve that title. What He did to you. To Michael? When you're angry with your daughter in law you don't imprison them in a Cage then tell your son to kill her if she ever gets free. It's bullshit and you know it. Mom may have been twisted and corrupt but at least when She got pissed at Michael She tried to kill him outright."

Gabriel shouted as his sister's weight landed on him, an Archangel blade at his throat. Gabriel grit his teeth but didn't let his sister's fury faze him. Lucifer wouldn't kill him now. Not if it was preventable. Not when he couldn't come back.

"Mom crossed a line and you know it, Gabe. She was wrong. God saved us."

"Did He? Or did He do the same thing She did only worse? When God decided that Mom was corrupting you He kicked you out and when you gave Cain The Mark He imprisoned you. Rather than kill you, he told Michael to do it. God was a sadist. I looked past His beauty and saw the truth. The truth no one else saw."

Gabriel felt the blade digging into his Vessel's flesh and attempting to pierce his grace. Death was right there, by the tree, watching and waiting for Lucifer's choice to be made. Gabriel trusted his sister not to kill him. Death may have assumed otherwise but Gabriel trusted her stupidly.

Which was a half mistake. Gabriel screeched as Lucifer's blade sank into the center of his top right wing. "Show me you can fix our wings." The words barely registered with Gabriel as he kicked his sister off of him, rolling onto his side and grabbing the still embedded blade and ripping it from the limb. He gasped in pain, wing pulling inward on reflex before the stretch of torn muscle sent an agonizing sharp pain through his celestial body and he resisted the urge to retaliate.

"What the fuck?" Gabriel demanded angrily, struggling to an upright position, carefully balancing his broken wing on the middle one.

"Show me you can heal an Archangel's wing and I'll let you heal me."

Gabriel bared his teeth, spreading his unoccupied wings wide in warning. "You could've warned me."

"And you would've done what you always do. You learned all of your tricks from me, little brother."

Gabriel's mouth turned up in a sly smirk. "I may have, but I've had a lot of time to perfect them."

Gabriel glanced past Lucifer, meeting the gaze of his body double and before Lucifer realized it Gabriel was behind her, hand gripping the base of his sister's wing on both planes in a guarantee to keep her still.

"Gabriel, don't!" Lucifer was rigid under his touch, her wings bowing at the ends in submission. Gabriel felt guilty for doing this, for rendering his older sibling immobile, but Lucifer was being a dick and now he had a hole in his wing to prove that Lucifer hadn't completely changed.

Gabriel shut out his sister's pleas, closing his eyes and spreading his grace through his sister. It was easy for him and he only felt a bit guilty for forcing her to remain still. There were still serious trust issues between them and if Lucifer thought she was going to be able to push him around again she was seriously wrong. At first, Gabriel struggled a bit, finding the core cause of the injuries in his own form was one thing. Finding the base of the injuries in another was a completely separate challenge. It had been years since he'd interacted with other angels on this level. Overpowered anything celestial, and his little game with Castiel all those years ago didn't count because that wasn't him behaving as an Archangel.

There. At the very edge of the wound Gabriel found what he had been seeking. The initial point of impact. A speck of divinity that only matched God. It had to have been the Cage, a bar from the Cage had caught Lucifer's wing. Gabriel brushed it off with practiced ease, drawing on the distant Mark of Cain and using their Mother's power to destroy a piece of God's divinity. Gabriel continued to draw on that, on what made them what they were. Flesh knitted itself together piece by piece, feathers of the purest white sprouting from freshly born skin. Gabriel's eyes flicked open after it was finished and he released his sister's wings before launching himself backwards, dodging the angry punch he expected.

Much to his astonishment, Lucifer didn't swing and Gabriel watched for a moment as his sister slumped to her knees, a ripple crossing her entire being as she flexed her now healed wing.

"That was Mom's energy."

Gabriel crossed the space between them, running through the same process on his own wing in the back of his mind as be put an arm over his sister's shoulder, pulling her against him.

"I was drawing from The Mark. I told you I could fix you."

"I hate you, Gabriel."

By the way she leaned into him closer Gabriel seriously doubted the truth of that. He held his sister close, resting his head against hers. At the same moment, Lucifer found one of his tails, wrapping one of her own around it.

Gabriel remembered this. From before The Mark. Sitting on the edge of Pluto and watching a comet pass as he held his broken sister who had just learned their Mom had tried to kill Michael.

Things were far from the same but it was a start. They were moving forward.

"I swear we will find Michael, Luci." Dead or alive, we'll find him.

Chapter Text

After the initial hug, Dean had reluctantly brought him to the car where to Sam's utter confusion Crowley was unconscious in the backseat, handcuffed.

"Um, Dean?"

"He saved my life." Dean grumbled reluctantly. Sam raised an eyebrow at his brother who shot him his best "I don't want to talk about it" look. Something nudged at the back of his mind, something directly to do with the demon in the backseat but he couldn't place it. There were too many gaps in his memory.

"Right." Sam said, a bit distant. Gaea had been right about his memories. Something was seriously wrong with them. Frowning, he walked around the car, sliding into the passenger seat with practiced ease before Dean joined him in the driver's seat. Sam stared out the window for a moment before speaking again, "We need to talk." The one sentence on the planet that meant bad things for the one addressed meant worse for them. Their talks ended in anger, blood, and the world ending.

"About Hell? I've heard. Sleeping beauty in the back told me everything."

Sam pressed his lips into a thin line, pretty sure that Crowley didn't know everything. If they knew he'd screwed up again. That he'd let Lucifer and Michael out. They wouldn't be alright. Dean would be fuming, pissed that his little brother hadn't thought things through again.

"That kid on the phone, whatever her name was, she said brothers. Emphasized that. What was that about?"

Sam blinked, trying to remember when Dean had talked to the girl but couldn't come up with it. She'd mentioned his first encounter with her had been an issue and he sort of remembered it but it hurt to try to pry into those memories.

"Adam." He said when he realized he hadn't answered. "Adam is alive again."

It took Dean a second before a response came. "Where is he?" There was an underlying tension to his words. Dean had picked up on it quicker than he had. The reason why Adam being alive could be an issue.

That was a good question. Where had that girl taken Adam? He hadn't asked. Why hadn't he asked? Probably because of the world shattering information that had followed. "I don't know. Dean, Lucifer is out. I… I let him out. When I closed Hell." Sam felt a sick feeling of hopelessness as he revealed that to his brother. It was different this time. The confession that he'd screwed up. That he'd made a mistake. It was painful and bitter like the taste in his mouth when he learned his brother had been in Purgatory for a year rather than Heaven where he deserved, when he had been forced to tell him that he hadn't tried to save him, every single time he tried to do right, every time he screwed up. Now Lucifer was free again and if he could go by Gaea's word, which was oddly easy to do, Michael was dead.

What did this mean for the world? How bad had he messed up again?

"We'll figure this out." Dean said after a moment and Sam's stomach twisted uncomfortably at the calm not calm tone in his brother's voice. They had barely dealt with Lucifer last time. Dealing with him now was going to be more difficult because Lucifer didn't need him or his yes. There was no battle against Michael.

"Angels with a purpose never die." What had she meant by that?

"Who was that kid? You still haven't answered the question.”

"Right. That was Gaea. Mother Nature. Apparently Death brought both me and Adam back and dropped us in her living room. I think…"

"What do you mean you think?"

Sam shifted uncomfortably, staring out the window. "Something about her presence distorted my memory at first and-"

"What'd the bitch do to your head, Sammy?" Dean demanded, apparently a bit too loud because there was the distinctive sound of movement from the back seat.

"She didn't do anything. Not deliberately." This wasn’t going to go well.

"You wake up in Mother Nature's living room but can't remember shit about it. Call me a skeptic if you want but that's grade A ‘shit's about to hit the fan’ crap."

"Would you look at that? The moose is alive." Never had Sam been as grateful to hear Crowley's voice as he was at that moment. Trying to explain to Dean why he trusted Gaea wasn't going to be easy. It wasn't going to go well at all. Which was a bit stupid considering they had Crowley in the backseat, why was he the one justifying his actions? "I told him you'd be back. The two of you are like cockroaches. Even God Himself can't kill you."

"Screw off, Crowley."

"Afraid my hands are a bit tied up, Moose." That was visual he could've gone his entire life without if he was honest.

"I'll put you back in the trunk." Dean threatened with clear agitation.

"That would be very inhumane of you."

Inhumane? That was oddly specific wording that nagged at some fragment of his mind. Sam twisted around to eye the demon who had sat up, hands in his lap as he stared out the window. "Since when do you deserve to be treated humanely?"

There was an underlying question there and by the way Crowley turned to look at him, raising an eyebrow Sam could tell he was missing something vital. "Since you cured me, of course."

Cured him? Sam stared for a moment before looking at Dean.

"It was the final trial. Curing a demon." Dean explained, looking away.

"The trial that killed me." Dean wasn't going to say it. It was as though saying the words meant that it would stick. It never did. Except this time it might.

"This is the last time." That had to have been Death speaking. Formless and eternal. Warning him before his resurrection. Warning him that it was the last time they'd come back.

"How much of your memory is gone?" Dean asked, pulling him out of dreary thoughts.

"I don't remember much of the last few months." Sam admitted uncomfortably. "There's some things there, other things are… gone."

"Mother Nature can be a bitch, can't she?" Crowley said grimly from the back.

"What do you know about her?" Sam asked, looking back at the ex-demon.

"She's forbidden to get involved in anything because of God's orders. Not that it stops her completely. Once upon a time she loved our old pal Lucifer. In a completely neutral move, she let slip to Lilith what the last seal was."

"So you expect us to believe Mother Nature is a Lucifer loyalist? Lucifer planned to destroy the planet. Why would she worship him?"

"Lucifer didn't want to destroy the planet." Sam interjected, wincing at his brother's baffled look. "Lucifer wanted to wipe out humanity. Croatoan was the means to an end of humanity and monsters. Lucifer believed Earth was God's final great creation." Sam shut up before he said more, because something was seriously wrong with him for even coming close to admitting he felt some strange sympathy towards Lucifer's cause.

"Couldn't have said it better myself." Crowley remarked smugly.

"Are you seriously defending the devil?" Dean asked in pure amazement, not the good kind either.

"I'm not defending him, Dean." It was irritating that he was having to defend himself over this. Did Dean honestly think that he could agree with Lucifer after everything that had happened? "I'm just trying to make a point. It makes sense that Gaea would worship Lucifer if he only planned on wiping humanity out. Think about it Dean, she's basically nature incarnated. Whether we like it or not, humanity does a whole lot of damage to the planet as a whole."

Dean turned the key in the ignition, effectively ending the conversation as he grumbled under his breath, "Since when are you such a tree hugger?"

Rather than give into that Sam turned again, looking at Crowley as the car began moving. "You're really human?"

"Unfortunately." Crowley grumbled, looking out the window again.

Giving up on trying to get a steady stream of conversation from either of them, Sam turned back to his window and looked out, sinking into his thoughts as he watched the town he had been thrown to sink away to endless highway. The sound of a sudden rain lulled him into sleep.

.-~*~-.

Crowley sat silently in the backseat, waiting for Sam to fall asleep. It had been a long week and it was only by the luck of Dean's grief that the both of them were alive. Not that he really deserved to be alive. Then again… he looked down at the cuffs binding his wrists, remembering a time when he could have destroyed them and run. A time when he could've destroyed the two hunters in the front seat and been done with it.

"Could we stop for food?" And the restroom. Not that he was willing to ask that much of the hunter. He still had some pride to maintain.

"No. We're going back to the bunker so we can deal with all of this crap."

Crowley rolled his eyes at that, leaning back in his seat and fidgeting with the cuffs. "You're going to get us all killed if you keep driving like this. You've slept something like two hours in three days? I know hunters are resilient but all of you break sooner or later."

"If I feed you will you shut up?" Dean asked with an air of agitation. Unfortunately Crowley didn't get the same enjoyment from the hunter's irritation as he once had.

"Probably." Crowley allowed, not sure on the answer himself.

Half an hour later they were stopped at a rest stop on the side of the highway and Dean was shaking Sam awake. The younger hunter mumbled something incoherent before Dean gave up and pushed open his door, Crowley knocked on the glass of his window and to his surprise Dean actually opened the door, helping him out of the car. "Bathroom, right?" Crowley opened his mouth for some sort of defense but Dean interrupted him, "Sam did the same crap when he was little. You might think you aren't but you're as predictable as a toddler."

Really, he should've been offended. Should've had some witty remark. Instead he allowed it because he was worried that arguing with Dean would end up with him in the trunk again. It had taken three days to get Dean to let him out of the trunk for anything other than restroom breaks and eating. Dean went around to the back of the car and pulled open the trunk, coming back with a black jacket in hand that he dropped in Crowley's arms. To cover the cuffs. Wouldn't that be a way to get out of this? Someone calling the human police on them for holding him prisoner or something. No. With his luck there would be a demon or angel possessing the cop. If he was honest with himself, which he rarely was, he didn't want to leave. In the human world he was doomed. With the Winchesters, even if it was a sketchy allyship, he didn't have to worry about them killing him as long as he behaved himself.

Unless Sam remembered his promise while he was being cured. Considering his past experience with Mother Nature he sincerely doubted that would happen and that small guilty part of his newly human mind wanted him to apologize for what he'd done, all the people he'd harmed.

Crowley carefully pushed that guilt down and trailed after Dean, following him around to the side of the store and waiting when Dean poked his head inside the door. To Crowley's surprise Dean uncuffed him and held the door open for him.

A while later they were standing at the register, a pile of junk food with a stray banana were piled on the counter. Crowley tried hard not to think on the fact that Dean hadn't put the cuffs back on him, but his mind kept wandering to the strange feeling of not having the metal pressed into the skin of his wrists. Basically nonstop since he'd been cured there had been no freedom. Everything he'd done had been closely monitored. As though Dean thought he was stupid enough to run.

Crowley watched as Dean passed over a credit card listed out to a Bob Burns. Dean shoved a bag into his hands after having the card returned and Crowley nearly dropped it before recovering and trailing after the hunter out the door. To his confusion the hunter led him around to the back of the building where Crowley followed, shifting the items in his hands uneasily. Was Dean going to kill him now? Unlikely. Dean seemed more the kill you in the woods type. Then again, he was a hunter. No, Sam and Dean were rational minded even on their stupid days. This was something else. Dean going behind Sam's back. Pretty quickly Crowley understood.

"You said you knew Gaea." Dean finally spoke as he leaned against the wall, breaking the lethal silence that had existed since Sam's sympathy for the devil came to light, which really Crowley couldn't blame the kid for. Lucifer was a slimey creature and while Crowley couldn't begin to understand a vessel and angel relationship he knew what the possessor could do to the host. Once Crowley had known a demon that used that connection to damn souls.

"A bit. She's the one that told me Lucifer's endgame. His plans to kill all of the demons. Gaea's a tricky little girl. But she's bound by God's rules. She's supposed to be neutral but if she happens across someone who recognizes her as something inhuman she's allowed to interact. She tried to manipulate me but I caught her. She is forbidden from lying."

"What did she do to Sam?" Crowley rolled his eyes, of course Dean didn't care about how interesting Mother Nature was as a person.

"She didn't do anything. My guess is this, when souls get stuck in The Veil one of three things happens. A Reaper picks them up, carries them to Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell. They stay in The Veil and overtime they become ghosts. Or The Empty draws them in and they become...well no one really knows. I've seen demons that get too close. They'd lose their mind. Memories. It depended how long they were there." Crowley explained, looking over his shoulder towards the car.

"You think that he almost went into The Empty."

"I think he was halfway in when he was pulled out by Death. I believe your brother's soul was broken by The Empty and a combination of Death and Gaea's primordial presence caused more damage afterwards."

Dean didn't say anything to that, walking around him and making his way towards the car. Crowley trailed after him, briefly wondering if Dean actually realized he was there. Apparently he was because rather than getting in the front Dean opened the backdoor where after a brief moment Crowley moved to get in, stopped by a rough hand on his wrist. Crowley's gaze lifted and fear rippled through him for a moment, fear that Dean was going to make him get back in the trunk. Instead the hunter took the spare bag of food out of his hand and refastened the second cuff.

Letting out a sigh that could easily be masked as annoyance and not the relief it was Crowley slipped into the back.

After closing the door Dean went around to the front and slid into the driver's seat, shaking Sam awake.

"Rise and shine, Sammy."

"Tired." Crowley kept back a remark on how Sam really shouldn't keep sleeping.

Dean no doubt knew that because he kept shaking Sam's shoulder until the younger brother finally grumbled something incoherent and pulled off the window. "Got you some rabbit food." Dean shoved a bag into his brother's lap who grumbled a thanks. "So we're headed back to the bunker. Need to check on Kevin."

Sam paused and Crowley recognized that rigid posture in the brother even before he spoke, "Who?"

"Kevin Tran. Kid prophet. Dick in the back killed his mother."

That was something he needed to clear up, and soon but now absolutely wasn't the right time for it.

"I…" Crowley glared at the side of Dean's head hard enough to burn holes.

"Your memories really are fucked, aren't they?" And wow. Was Dean Winchester being somehow gentle, even when he still looked ready to kill the world...Or maybe model underwear.

"I guess." Sam muttered, "I thought Chuck was a prophet."

"Something to do with a different kind of prophet and Chuck being dead."

"Okay." Sam responded, deflated. "If Crowley killed his mom, why haven't we killed him?" It actually bothered Crowley that there was no real hostility from the younger brother. The first time they'd met, Sam had shot him. Less than a month ago, they'd tried to kill him, more than once. Now Sam sounded like someone had told him his favorite shirt was ugly.

"Insurance policy at the time, Moose." Crowley piped in, hoping good news for them would fix that. It wasn't that he liked Sam much. There was just still that underlying guilt for everything he'd done to the brothers egging him on about revealing this. "Also, she isn't dead."

"She isn't dead?" Dean asked, turning in his seat and giving him a look that told Crowley the hunter didn't believe him.

"She's in Witchita, Kansas. A storage I owned."

"You didn't think to mention this?" Dean demanded.

"You've been drinking and killing nonstop for the past week. It wasn't in my best interest to mention it." Crowley responded bitterly. Dean threw open his door and Crowley instinctively backed into the corner of his door as the other door came open. Not the trunk. Not the dark.

"Out, Crowley. Get the fuck out."

"Dean, leave it."

"No, Sam. You don't remember. You have no clue what he's done over the past few weeks. Get the fuck out Crowley before I put a bullet in your head."

Crowley shuddered as he was reminded of Sam's threat to him before they finished the ritual.

"You're right, I don't. We don't just leave humans at the side of the road though. I don't care if it's Jack the Ripper in the backseat. It's crap and you know it."

"Are you seriously defending him?" Dean asked, half dumbfounded and half furious.

"I'm being rational, Dean. We're not ditching him at a truck stop. Really, we shouldn't leave him anywhere." At that moment he could've kissed Sam. Not that he was dumb enough to try. The point stood. Yes, he was guilty as hell for what he'd done to them. That burning guilt was a constant thing in the back of his mind. The only thing that kept him quiet was self-preservation. By his luck, he still had that, for the most part.

"Whatever." Dean grumbled, slamming the door and walking away from the car.

"Thank you." The words had left his mouth before he could stop them.

"What did you do that has him so pissed off, Crowley?" There was an uncomfortable edge to the younger brother's voice that made Crowley want to be honest.

"I did a lot. You were trying to banish us to Hell."

"You're avoiding the question." Sam pointed out. Yes. He was. If he had to explain to Sam the things he had done he could very well end up dead. "If we planned on killing you, Dean would've done it after I died."

"I wouldn't be so sure, Moose." Crowley responded, grabbing onto the first thing he could to change the subject. "How was Gaea?" Sam didn't answer but didn't push more on the conversation about what he'd done recently. "Considering who you are, I'm surprised she didn't come onto you. Try to tempt you into her bed. Or did she?"

"She got rid of me as fast as she could.” Sam ground out, "Now shut up and let me think."

"It's probably best I don't. Thinking won't help your mind any." He advised, thinking back on the demons and souls he had seen near that portal. Of the damage it caused. To be honest, Crowley wasn't sure how Sam was walking and talking. There was an unaccounted week since Sam's death. Gaea could've done a whole lot to him in the week she had him, unless he’d been dead that entire time.

"What do you know about it, Crowley?" There it was again. The dim interest in the actual situation. Sam had always been a smart man, thoughtful and outright scary at times. Now it was as though something had sapped that from him. The Empty had done serious damage to him and as a human Crowley had no way to tell what kind of damage it was.

"I know you were almost in The Empty. Every demon I've ever seen go near there came out half of what they were. If you prod at it there's a good chance you end up a drooling mess on the floor."

"I'll remember that." Sam responded. Then, after several moments of silence, "Why didn't Dean kill you?"

"I saved his life." Crowley said, knowing that Sam already knew that. Images of a church collapsing and a grief stricken Dean flashing through his memories. "After you finished the trial the church collapsed in on itself. Somehow the cuffs you had binding me shattered. I carried your brother out before the place collapsed on him."

That had gone over well. Dean had nearly killed him in the process but Crowley knew he couldn't just leave him there. It was that damned conscience. Guilt and all of those other things.

"I bet he loved that." Sam mused, chuckling from the front seat before handing back a bag of pretzels that Dean had grabbed. "I don't remember how bad things were with us, Crowley. I’m also pretty sure I don't want to know."

Crowley didn't say anything as he opened the pretzel bag.

"I'm going to find out, sooner or later. Sooner or later, Dean's going to tell me."

Later then. That was the solution. It needed to happen later. Crowley leaned his head against the window and looked out to see Dean across the parking lot walking away from a brunette woman that was clearly pissed off. Crowley had to wonder what the hunter had done to earn the reaction. Blue eyes met his for a brief moment before the woman turned and climbed into the car.

Crowley didn't allow himself to think too much on that, much more concerned with surviving the trip back to the bunker. Crowley bit into a pretzel, chewing on the salty snack and sighing contently as he waited for Dean to get back into the car.

Chapter Text

Michael was floating. The word was a vague description of course. The afterlife for an angel was strange. Infinite. Something he knew of from experience. Angels, humans, animals, they always died. It was a fact of life. They all died. It was the rare few that were privileged enough to be returned.

Michael wasn't privileged anymore. Long ago he had accepted this fact. Lucifer had burned it into him. Reminded him over and over again. God had left them alone. Even after everything, Lucifer hadn't wanted to kill him. If he had accepted his once lover's request things would have been different.

It wouldn't have been better.

Things never would have been repaired between himself and Lucifer. Together they would have destroyed his Father's final creation.

Now he was dead, floating in Oblivion.

Adam must be dead. He mused mournfully at some point in the eternalness of Oblivion. Truly dead. That was a tragedy in itself. Lucifer would be angry. What would she do to the planet now? Had she changed enough not to harm humanity? Michael was unsure. Perhaps he will find Gabriel.

When the Cage had shattered around them Michael had panicked, crossed the endless void of The Cage. Michael had done everything he could to protect Lucifer and Adam. A single bar to the center of his grace had killed him.

His Father was a sadist.

It had been a design to destroy Lucifer if she ever broke free by other means. Michael mused for a moment whether God had forseen this. How long ago had his Father abandoned him?

Floating still. Still floating. For decades, for millennia. The time didn't matter. It wasn't important. He was dead and without Adam, he was gone.

All of that time alone allowed him to understand the painful bitter truth of his once adored Father.

Lucifer will destroy it all.

Michael wasn't a fan of humanity. It wasn't a secret. Lucifer had begged him to take her side. Begged him to join her. Humanity is rotten. Surely you see.

"Niis erm ol."

Michael had turned away.

"Elasa ooaona a vaoan, en aziazor."

Michael hadn't refused Lucifer because she was wrong. Michael had refused her because he had seen the corruption Mara was causing through The Mark.

"Ol aziazor elasa, Michael."

"Elasa adagita ge aziazor, Lucifer." Their final words before he caged the angel he had loved since before time began. Lucifer was no longer her. Lucifer was corrupted. Tainted.

"I have to fight my brother, Sam! Here and now! It's my destiny!" The last words before a single human had altered everything. The destiny that his Father had given him. The moment it had all changed.

Michael lost count of his deaths in the Cage. Of Lucifer's deaths.

The number of times those deaths had ended with their revival being in the other's arms was more than Michael could count.

Killing each other had become habit, not something they did because they wanted to. They never wanted to. Lucifer had become more. With every death and revival, they moved closer. It was a sick twisted form of therapy. Michael had seen the changes. The return of the radiant glow that had once been Lucifer's wings.

The comfort of their graces mingling.

I need him.’

Then Michael was flying, soaring through Oblivion, being drawn in by something.

Resurrection.

‘Michael, come back to me. Come back.’ Adam loved him. It was a fact. A complexity caused rarely from the closeness with an angel and its Charge through the use of that Charge as a vessel. The love poured through every ounce of the prayer. The love stricken grief. ‘Come back to me. Elasa znrza adagita ol elasa bolape erm ol cacrg en congamphlgh bolape a madariatza.’ Michael felt his wings return, felt his grace reassembling, felt as his essence was rebuilt from the ground up. What he had been waiting for. What he had been expecting. What he had given up on.

Say yes.’

Yes.’ Michael spread his wings and launched himself forward, breaking the barrier between Oblivion and Purgatory, diving through and arriving on Earth. Freedom. Blissful pure freedom.

Michael.’ Then he was being drawn in. ‘Niis salamann. Yes. Always yes.’ Michael closed all of his eyes, shut out his vision and just felt the warmth of Lucifer's sun as it poured through his being, shimmered across his wings.

Lucifer.’

He would find her again.

I will find you, Lucifer.’

Then Michael was brushing against the skin of his vessel, sliding against Adam Milligan delicately before finally slipping into his body, coiling around the man's soul protectively and opening his vessel's eyes.

Click.

.-~*~-.

By the time they got to the bunker Sam was surprised to see things had smoothed over between Dean and Crowley. It was almost unnerving how easy Dean had let go of the anger towards the demon. Since when did they get along with beings that had apparently done things bad enough that they were afraid to mention it?

What had happened over the week of his death. There was something neither of them were letting on and if there weren't so many gaps already he might've been concerned.

Sam was broken.

They slowed to a stop outside the bunker, both Dean and his guard going up at the sight of an old SUV parked in the road. The both of them were moving in practiced unison, opening their doors and climbing out of the car at the same time as a smaller woman with jet black hair climbed out of the driver's seat, hands held up next to her.

"Hello, boys." The woman drawled, Dean stiffening slightly next to him.

"Who are you?" Dean demanded but Sam's mind was already piecing it together. The familiarity of her greeting. The look in her eye. The body she was possessing didn't match her previous choices, older, closer in comparison to Cas his mind supplied unhelpfully.

It was impossible on more than one level for her to be there. That was one of the things he did remember.

"Right. Reintroductions. Hi, I'm Meg. I’m a demon." The woman said casually flicking her eyes to black.

That was impossible. Hell had been closed down. Even then, Sam was moving to block Dean because despite all logic and rationality, Sam knew she was being honest. Felt it like a burning in the back of his soul. The same familiarity from all those years ago when she'd first resurfaced.

"Always so sweet when you recognize me, Sammy."

"What're you doing, Sam?" Dean demanded in the same moment. "We watched Meg die. Even if we didn't, we don't-"

"It's Meg." Sam interrupted. "You have Cas with you, don't you?" Sam could feel the change in his brother at that question. A slight sliver over hope overtaking the angry demeanor. Sam didn't have to look. He knew his brother too well. Meg kept her reaction neutral though Sam kept his knowing look on her. Meg was one of the most self-preserving demons they'd ever met and the only reason she would've shown up here, could've shown up here, had to be with Cas in tow.

"Always the smart one, aren't ya, Sammy? Yeah, he's here. In the back seat."

"What'd you do to him?" Dean demanded and Sam rolled his eyes as Dean swapped into overprotective big brother mode, pushing around him and putting his hand on the gun that wouldn't actually kill her.

"Dean."

"Relax, Rocky." Meg interrupted, not helping in the least. "If I planned on killing you I would've already tried."

"How are you back?" Sam spoke up before his brother could respond.

"Lucifer brought me back. Was under the impression I'd fall to my knees for her again."

"Her?" Dean asked at the same time Sam asked, "She brought you back?"

Dean turned a confused look back on him and, no, this wasn't something he really wanted to talk about. Conversation he had avoided for years was slipping through the cracks on his psyche. The damage to him following Hell, it was nothing like this.

"It's been a long few years and dying to the asshole in the back of your car changes things."

Sam ignored the jab. It wasn't the time or her dying that changed things. He'd talked to her the night she died. She was in love with Cas. And if that wasn't ten kinds of screwed he wasn't sure what was.

"She's telling the truth." Sam told his brother.

"He was hit by a car. I found him in a hospital in Colorado. He's human." Meg explained, grief slipping through her demeanor before vanishing again.

Cas was human? What had happened to him?

What all was he forgetting?

"Go check on Cas. I need to talk to her."

To his surprise, Dean didn't argue with him on it, just began the walk across the short distance to the SUV, keeping a careful practiced distance from Meg before going around to the back. A few moments later Meg was walking up to him, stopping a safe distance away and glaring past him towards the car.

"Care to explain why you have him in the backseat?" Meg asked.

"He's human. Now explain why you're alive."

"Crowley's human? That's great."

"Meg."

"Yeah, fine. Lucifer brought me back. Considering neither of you are surprised, good job, again. What’d you do to the planet this time?" Sam waited patiently, not bothering with a response. Yes, he felt guilty as hell but there wasn't much he could do to fix the screw up. "She brought two of us back because she trusted that we would be blindly loyal."

"Two of you?"

"I didn't stick around long enough to see who the other one was. I wish I could be more helpful but I fled the second she resurrected me."

"You keep saying 'she'."

"Lucifer was wearing a female meat suit and the other demon was being told that she was no longer a he."

That bothered Sam for a lot of reasons. Stories that Lucifer had embedded in his head. The true tragedy of why she was thrown in the Cage. Why the story of two brothers had begun, why Lucifer had been referred to as a male for years. If she was insisting on being a female publicly, something had to have changed. Some twisted part of his mind wanted to find the truth out. Where Lucifer was mentally and emotionally. "Actually… do you have a sister?" That question caught Sam off guard and he shot the demon a questioning look. "Forget that. Stupid question. I think Lucifer is possessing someone related to the two of you."

Someone related to them? That was… unlikely. Azazel had killed all of the Campbells off, the Winchesters were even a sorrier case. Sam frowned at the idea, considering the possibilities of another Adam. Knowing their dad, it was possible. That wasn't exactly a major issue other than it meant the woman Lucifer was riding around was more durable than that man, Nick, that Lucifer had been wearing before possessing him. It didn't make it better. In fact, it made it worse.

"Sam!" Sam looked past Meg to see Dean supporting an only half conscious Cas out of the back seat.

"Dammit, Dean." Sam muttered under his breath, moving past Meg with a quick, "Don't kill Crowley," before he joined his brother, draping Cas' other arm over his shoulder and supporting his weight.

"Sam?" Cas asked, word slurring slightly under whatever drug he was clearly on.

"Yeah, I'm here." He responded, unsure how to respond. From what he could remember, Cas and Dean were a whole lot closer than they were. Though he could be wrong.

"Y'u're alive." Then Castiel's body went slack and they were holding the entire weight of Castiel along with the cast that was wrapped around his leg.

.-~*~-.

In the end, it had been Sam and Crowley that carried Cas the remainder of the way to one of the spare bedrooms in the bunker, much to the anger of a freaked out kid who was apparently Kevin. When Sam looked at him it was as though seeing the face of someone he hadn't seen since he was a little kid, trying to draw on memories that had long since faded. It was almost physically painful.

Apparently, The Bunker had an emergency lockdown in case of the world ending function and the kid had been trapped inside since that night. Crowley and him had carried Cas while Dean dealt with the kid. Under the hesitant suggestion from Crowley, Sam had left him in one of the spare rooms, telling him to stay put, then headed to the main room. A pissed off prophet was glaring at him from the table with his arms crossed defiantly. Dean was sitting on the opposite end and Meg was nowhere to be seen.

"She's not coming inside." Dean stated bluntly.

"So we let Crowley in but not Meg? If I had to choose-"

"She was brought back by Lucifer, Sammy. We're not trusting her." And Kevin must've been updated on the situation because he wasn't inputting anything on the conversation.

"You do realize she's in love with Cas, right? She's not gonna screw us over. At least, not with him around." Dean stared at him as though he'd grown a second head. "She died for him, Dean."

"She's a demon, Sam."

"Crowley was a demon, Dean." Sam responded without missing a beat. Dean set his jaw, bristling with irritation. "Considering everything he's done, to all of us, and I can't believe I'm saying this, you're playing favorites with someone that's terrified of you."

"It's different." Dean defended weakly. Before Sam could respond with to the ridiculousness of that Kevin threw his chair backwards, rising to his feet.

"You should've killed Crowley the second you had the chance."

"Kev-"

"No. I'm going to find my mom and you're going to fix the world without me. I'm done." As he headed towards the stairs to leave Sam suddenly felt like a bystander in his own life. Dean stood and grabbed the younger man's shoulder.

"Kevin, I get you're pissed but you can't just leave."

"No. Fuck off because I'm done."

Kevin threw Dean's hand off his shoulder and began the hike up the stairs. It was one of the hundred situations that he imagined this memory loss was going to leave him in.

Dean slumped his shoulders in defeat. "Be careful, Kevin."

"Bye." The kid said from the balcony before opening the door and leaving.

"Dammit." Dean muttered, shaking his head. "Fine. Let her in. If Lucifer shows up and kills us all it's on you." Dean turned, rubbing his hands over his face in a way Sam knew all too well meant he'd given up. "I need a drink."

"Dean-"

"We'll deal with the end of the world tomorrow, Sam. I'm done." Sam winced at the harshness in his brother's tone and watched him depart to the kitchen.

It had been a long time since he remembered feeling like this much of a letdown. Every time he screwed up it hit hard though. This time wasn't any different. Though, in a way, it was worse. Worse because he barely remembered what had led them there.

He couldn't mess up worse at this point so he did exactly what he knew was right and made his way up the stairwell to the front door, opening it and stepping to the side when he spotted Meg standing right there.

"Come on." He told her before he led her to Cas' room.

.-~*~-.

"Sam."

Sam spun around, the woman's voice had- no. There was no one. Dread twisted in his gut as he looked across the foggy forest, trying to place where...whatever it was was at.

"It's been a long time, Sam." Ice traveled down his spine. A whisper, breath on the back of his neck. "We had so much fun before. You don't remember, do you? A shame, really."

"Who are you?" Sam demanded.

"Lucifer, of course." There was a dark laugh and Sam shouted out as he was thrown from standing in the forest to being strapped to a rack. "I'm going to tear you apart piece by piece. Then, when all is said and done, I'm going to piece you back together and do it again. Over and over again. Until finally, when I find you on Earth, I'm going to skin your brothers alive in front of you and let you watch as I burn the world alive. You freed me. You let me out. One day soon, you'll be begging me to do the same. One day you'll beg me to free you, and I'll never oblige. I'll never free you."

"Don't!" Sam shouted right before the pain began.

Chapter Text

"I don't understand why you don't just kill him." Lucifer complained as Gabriel conjured another feral Spuds McKenzie behind the drunken man.

"It's more interesting this way." Gabriel explained, rolling his eyes and grinning as the man was knocked over by one of the creatures.

"I know we used to screw around but it seems like such a waste of time." Gabriel sighed in exasperation, rolling his eyes.

"You've gotten dull, Luci. I'm giving you an excuse to murder humans."

"I'm not saying I wouldn't enjoy killing them. Humanity is scum. It just feels like a waste of time to go through the trouble of conjuring illusions to kill them when we can kill them with a thought."

Yeah, Lucifer was right. But that hadn't been his point of dragging her out on a Loki run. Though the morality conversation did help distract from the fact that Michael was still missing, it was a bit irritating.

"It's a matter of principle Lucifer. The humans I target go to my daughter, in Helheim they are punished justly, but purified."

"Daughter?" Lucifer looked over at him startled, wings flickering to the main plain behind her.

"Cool it, Luci. They're nephorlo. As powerful as a Cupid." Lucifer pursed her lips before returning her attention to the man, Gabriel followed his focus as one of the dogs began tearing his arm off.

"I thought you'd learned your lesson about hybreeding after Aedmiel." Gabriel kept the reaction to Aedmiel under that careful wall.

"I did learn my lesson. Raphael confirmed nephorlo weren't threats when she had Prometheus so I felt safe with my children. They're harmless."

"You did always make a cute mom." Lucifer said and it took a second for him to register what she was saying.

Gabriel spread his wings behind him, moving to tackle his sister when a startled sound escaped him. He stared at his hand and- oh hell no.

"You dick!" A now female Gabriel shouted, tackling his sister to the ground much to her amusement as they struggled to gain the upper hand, by the end of it they were covered in white and gold feathers and Gabriel was sitting defiantly on his sister's chest. "Change me back!" Gabriel demanded, unable to bypass his sister's changes to his vessel. His. Him. He was a man, had been for decades. He'd gotten past the gender crisis after giving birth to a damned horse, who he loved dearly.

"But your vessel looks so pretty as a woman, Gabrielle." Lucifer teased.

"Turn me back, Luci! Before I start plucking feathers."

Lucifer pouted childishly, clearly not believing him because she didn't change it back. "If you keep your vessel a woman I'll try to appreciate humanity."

"You're full of shit, Luci. Turn me back."

Lucifer smiled at him, the smile turning immediately as confusion crossed her face. Lucifer sat upright and shoved Gabriel off as she rose to her feet.

"No no no no no." Lucifer muttered, "Michael? Michael!"

Gabriel jerked slightly as Lucifer brought to life a long ago silent connection that only existed for the Archangels. A connection that hadn't been used since Lucifer Fell. It bypassed the normal channels of communication and fed through emotion that Gabriel didn't realize Lucifer was capable of anymore.

Gabriel rose to his feet, grabbing his sister's shoulder and shaking her until she focused on him.

"He's alive. Gabe, he's alive."

Gabriel wrapped his wings and arms around her and pulled her against his chest until her head was on his shoulder.

"We'll find him. If he's alive, we can find him. I know every damned trick in the book when it comes to Archangels on Earth. We'll find him." Gabriel promised.

"Metatron." Michael's voice came over that line, the first word spoken to him from Michael in decades and it was that asshole's name.

"Michael. Where are you?" Lucifer asked, her grip on Gabriel tightening.

"Heaven." Then the connection went cold and dread boiled heavy in Gabriel's chest. Metatron. The little douchebag was already on his to kill list for what he'd done to Heaven but this was a whole other line.

What was the little gnat planning to do with Michael?

"Gabriel."

"I'm thinking."

There weren't many options for directly going after Metatron. Especially if he had Michael and a tablet of God. Even if there were, Gabriel had checked all of his backdoor entrances. Heaven was sealed up tight.

Gabriel almost wanted to laugh at the outlandishly stupid situation they were in. Two Archangels locked out of Heaven by Heaven's proudest grubworm. Gabriel had never understood why God had chosen the gnat to write His Word down, especially considering Gabriel acted as His messenger until he fled Heaven.

"You won't like my idea, Lucifer." There was only one way to get back into Heaven and it required finding the prophet. It was a well-known fact where the prophet was hidden out, the same two dumbasses that had led him to his death years ago. Without that Guardian Angel connection to Sam, he didn't get a resurrection if they got him killed again.

"Why would you think Sam could help us?" Gabriel didn't comment on the fact that Lucifer only acknowledged the existence of Sam. It wasn't surprising.

"They have Kevin Tran." Lucifer made a face at the mention of the prophet. "The kid is how they locked up Hell. It's our best bet."

"If that's our option, then let's go."

Gabriel eyed his sister suspiciously, that had been way too easy. Getting the help of humans? It didn't matter how desperate Lucifer was...Unless.

"You want to talk to Sam."

"What? No." Gabriel rolled his eyes at the blatant lie. "I need to talk to him. He thinks I tortured him, Gabe. Me torturing him is the most ridiculous thing on the planet. Maybe Michael would stoop to that level of resentment but we were occupied with each other."

"Thanks for that visual." Lucifer grinned at him as he shuddered.

"We weren't having sex, Gabriel. We were killing each other."

"Remind me when there was a difference?" Lucifer spread her functional wings behind her, the one still hidden away while it finished regrowing feathers.

"I'll race you there."

Then Lucifer was gone and Gabriel was forced to spread his own wings and launch himself quickly after his sister, tackling her mid-flight and wrapping his arms around her back in a way he hadn't done in decades. She squeaked a protest, tail lashing out to try to detach him from her torso. He wasn't deterred, his grip tightening as she used the strength of her wings to fly them while he used his own to help guide her.

"Get off, Gabriel!"

"But I don't wanna." He responded petulantly, resisting the baser desire to allow his entire true form to escape its confinement. He wasn't an Archangel anymore, just a god with wings.

"I swear you're the mental equivalent of a fledgling." Lucifer flew them upward, flying through clouds at speeds that might've disengaged him if he was said fledgling. Instead he met each of her spins with ease, drawing his wings inward and outward in ways he never thought he'd do again, and sure, they might've caused a tornado in Oklahoma, but it was worth it because it was a breath of relief before they dealt with pissed off Winchesters.

Damn.

Gabriel caught himself as Lucifer flew downward towards a town he'd visited once before, the both of them coming to a calm landing in Lebanon.

Gabriel's gaze wandered upward at the cloudy sky which was... strange. It wasn't spring but those were definitely storm clouds, and this wasn't a storm they'd have been responsible for.

"You're an asshole, Gabe." Lucifer muttered from next to him and Gabriel acknowledged the area around them fully for the first time. It was a quaint town that was hardly interesting, a place he'd only visited because of the heavy warding nearby.

"You know you had fun." Gabriel retorted, attention settling on a familiar soul energy from the nearby gas station. Sam was there. That was unmistakably his soul. How had Lucifer found Sam so quickly? They were warded heavily. Logically no one should've been able to find them. Unless they'd had time. "Where is she?"

"You used to be quicker on the draw, Gabriel." Lucifer mused teasingly as she approached the gas station. Gabriel bristled but followed because it wasn't hard to guess where this was leading.

"I was right. You are a dick. You're going to play the same game, aren't you?"

"That was Lilith's plan, not mine." Lucifer brushed him off as they came to a stop outside. Inside Gabriel saw a face he hadn't seen in over a year. A face that looked to be in worse shape than he'd been in the mental hospital, because yeah, Gabriel was out, but he couldn’t help but be nosy on occasion.

He hasn't been sleeping again. Years as the middle Winchester's Guardian Angel kicked into gear as he took note of everything wrong with the brother. He was damaged. Severely damaged. If Gabriel focused he could see patches of his soul missing. That wasn't supposed to be possible. Souls weren't supposed to be able to be fractured. There were hundreds of thousands of things that could be done to a soul but there was no logic to what he was seeing.

"That isn't possible."

"He was in The Empty." Lucifer responded quietly. "From what I understand he was drug out by Death."

Gabriel bit back and angry response. If Sam had been shoved into The Empty it was a Reaper that had done it, which spelled all kinds of trouble.

Gabriel was distracted from his internal anger when a familiar creature approached Sam from behind. The only thing that stopped him from flying in there and smiting her on the spot was Lucifer. Gabriel didn't want to fight his sister. Not over something like this. Gabriel flexed his wings behind him and watched as Ruby 'accidentally' walked into him and dropped an armful of chips. Sam, ever the good Samaritan, helped her gather her things and Gabriel felt himself bristling with irritation as Sam bought right into her bullshit act. Why was it they weren't dead dead?

"You know, Luci. He's your vessel."

"Fuck off, Gabriel. Nothing about his behavior matches how I'd respond in this situation."

"You did fall in love with Michael." Gabriel jerked away as a tail came up and smacked him sharply in the back. "I'm just saying that you loving Michael is one of the most dangerous things we've ever done. If your refused his approach everything could've been avoided."

"What does love have to do with it?"

"You think way too poorly of humans, Lucifer. Humans are far more capable of love than any other creature." Gabriel grimaced at his own words, not at all enjoying his own realization of why Sam easily accepted Ruby's approach.

"What are you insinuating?"

"I spent a lot of time following him around during The Apocalypse. I suspected it but… it's a rare occurrence. A rekindling at a soul deep level."

"You're saying that he loves her."

"No. It's not love. It's a soul thing, something we normally can't experience."

"You have a soul." Gabriel winced, surprised that his sister had caught onto that.

"A soul remembers and connects on a spiritual level. Humans don't realize it but it's why they behave like they do with people they haven't seen in years. It's their soul reacting to a familiar aura. Since the two of them spent so much time together, his soul's recognizing it."

"You sound experienced." Lucifer answered sourly and Gabriel shrugged.

"I've had my share of human friends, Luci. Yeah, my soul recognizes them if they get reincarnated. The fact that he trusts your little minion is a bit unsettling though. Any human ally I've ever had screw me over, it fractured the connection. Even the ones I was stupid enough to love."

"You think he loved her."

"I do. Which is a hundred types of fucked, but what can you do? I'm a little concerned that he's so quick to trust her, even if he doesn't actively know who she is, that same reaction from his soul should’ve sent some warning bells."

"Unless the fractured parts cut away the warning."

"Correctamundo!"

"You're ridiculous."

"Still your favorite brother."

"You're my only brother." Lucifer responded and they watched as Ruby and Sam spoke idly with each other, paying for groceries. "So, do you have a plan to say hello?"

"I always do." Gabriel responded with a grin.

.-~*~-.

The woman that had bumped into him had been kind. Brunette with blue eyes, which had been a bit surprising. Despite his normal caution to strangers from years of hunting he'd found himself caught up in a conversation with her and before he'd fully realized it he was agreeing to lunch. Seriously. He was exhausted since he hadn't slept in two days. Lucifer had been relentless in his sleep. A constant string of torture that he didn't fully understand the point of.

"I didn't catch your name." Sam spoke as they made their way out the door and- Sam blinked and looked around at the long stretch of the sea in front of him, a sick feeling of dread crossing him as he spun around. Sure enough. It wasn't the store he'd left but an island with tall coconut trees and winding stretching hills that might've left him awestruck if it wasn't for the years of hunting sending warning bells through him.

"Damn it!" Sam's gaze followed the sound of the voice upward to where the woman from inside was hanging from a rope attached to her ankle off the top of a coconut tree. "Gabriel, you son of a bitch!"

Sam froze mid step at those words. It was one thing for him to have been thrown into a mess of chaos but that name… Damn.

Sam turned on his heels and was mildly conflicted at the sight of a woman standing there. Yeah, he knew about the angels jumps between women and men but if he was honest with himself he hadn't expected it from Gabriel.

"Hello, Sam." The Archangel greeted, an all too familiar smirk on his -her?- face.

"Gabriel, let me down!"

"Later, Ruby." The Archangel said dismissively.

"You died." Sam stated, taking a step back. The Archangel rolled his? eyes.

"That's old news, kiddo. Luci was hardly a match for my innovative ways."

"No. I saw Gabriel's body. We went back and checked. You were dead."

Gabriel made a face. "You two are the biggest dumbasses on the planet, I swear. I throw myself under the bus and you go back? See, this is how we know that God was a narcissistic dick, Luci. I told you."

Sam stumbled back at the way Gabriel spoke about Lucifer. The fact that he addressed her. Sam whipped his head around but saw nothing more than a stray glowing green stone resting on the beach in the distance.

I'm not awake. This is another twisted form of torture.

"Hey, Sam. Sam." Sam jerked away as hands came down on his shoulders. "Whatever you're thinking, you're wrong. I'm really here. Damn it. No, don't you dare." Sam flinched as the sound of snapping pierced the air and the ground beneath him shifted to what was clearly concrete. It pulled him from his initial shock and his instincts kicked in, causing him to jerk backwards and shove the Archangel back. To both of their surprise he succeeded, though he doubted it was the same reasons.

"Tell your sister to leave me alone. Both of you. I let her out, I should've never-"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Gabriel interrupted with concern and confusion.

"Lucifer, you son of a bitch. I haven't slept since the night I got back to the bunker because every single time I go to sleep she shows up and tortures me!"

Gabriel's expression flipped to anger in a second and the air around them took life, the hair on his arms standing up. Gabriel spun around as a woman that looked hauntingly similar to his mother materialized behind him.

"Gabriel, I swear I didn't. I swear on the key-" Gabriel took a step forward, and the other woman dodged to the side as the angry Archangel grabbed a handful of her hair.

"Lucifer." Sam breathed out and it was all wrong. The figure that had been torturing him in his dreams, she'd been different. A different form. Yeah, it could've been an illusion, a trick, but some terrible twisted part of him screamed wrong. This was Lucifer, she'd possessed him once before and she'd been vindictive and cruel but she'd never harmed him. "It wasn't her." Sam blurted, Gabriel was still bristling with power as he held his sister by her hair.

"I told you, Gabe. I never laid a hand on him." Lucifer ground out in irritation, twisting in Gabriel's hold. "Let me go." Gabriel begrudgingly did so, Sam's gaze never left Lucifer as she struggled to her feet, brushing her clothes off and scowling at Gabriel before turning her full focus on Sam. It'd been years since Lucifer had looked at him like that, like he was the most important object on the planet and not the bane of her existence. Some twisted part of his mind enjoyed it. It was a part of him that he hated. A part that had been suppressed for years because it was wrong, something he knew was wrong.

"Sam."

Sam blinked, moving his attention to Gabriel.

"We're here to ask a favor."

Sam glanced back at Lucifer, "Michael is dead." Adam's grief stricken words rang through him like a warning siren. Sam knew the truth about Lucifer and Michael, had known for years. Sam wasn't sure it would be safe to mention that detail, though he had no doubt it was why Lucifer, as a female, would show her face asking for favors rather than tormenting him for a yes.

Who had been torturing him?

"But first, you said that Lucifer has been torturing you."

"Every time I fall asleep." As if to prove the point he was forced to stifle a yawn. "She's different. Relentless."

"Gabe, it might-"

"No, Lucifer. It isn't that. It can't be that." Gabriel said with bitter determination.

"We need to be sure, Gabe." Lucifer bit out. "Sam, look. I get that you don't trust either of us, considering everything we've done to you, and the things you believe I did, it's inevitable."

"I believe you did?" Sam demanded, realizing the implications immediately. Yes, he could handle the concept that Lucifer wasn't torturing him now, the idea that he hadn't done it in the Cage…

"You're going to have to believe her, Sam."

"Gabriel, in my mind you might be worse than him." The other Archangel flinched away though he'd been struck. "You were the one person on the planet that knew how to prevent the entire Apocalypse and rather than give a straight answer you tortured me for over a year."

"You don't know the half of what I did to you, Sam." A shiver went down his spine at Gabriel's dark foreboding words. "Never make the mistake of trusting me. Trust Lucifer though. Trust her not to ever lay a hand on you because you're the one thing on God's Earth that was made specifically for her."

"I'm not a possession." Sam growled out as a weak defense.

"No. You aren't. You're so much more." Lucifer spoke up. "You're the one human, or demi-human, on this planet I'm capable of giving a damn about. I never would've harmed you and despite what you may believe about Michael, he never would have gone against his Father's wishes. Not intentionally."

Sam watched Lucifer uneasily as she crossed her arms over her chest. It was that crap that could draw him in. That promise. Lucifer had never lied to him. Even if she twisted the truth. Lucifer never lied to him. Dean would kill him if he knew what he was doing here. What he was considering.

"I need everything laid out. All of it. But not here." Sam turned and began the walk down the street, he didn't check to see if the Archangels were following him. If they weren't, well he could deal with that. As long as he didn't tell Dean. Because that always goes so well.

"You didn't think to tell me?" Gabriel's voice demanded from behind him, sounding much more masculine, Sam glanced over his shoulder to Lucifer smiling smugly with Gabriel scowling and in the vessel Sam knew, the male one.

"You're much more pleasant as a sister than a brother, Gabriel." Lucifer's response came across the space and Sam couldn't help rolling his eyes as he began walking again. For a brief moment, he was given the image of a female Dean and he shuddered at the prospect. Dean being a woman? That was one of the most comical visuals on the planet. It was a good distraction from the problems and the fact he'd just turned his back on two Archangels.

What was wrong with him?

Sam shoved those thoughts away as he stepped through the diner door. Crazy was his life after all.

"Sam!" Sam looked over to see that woman from the convenience store waving her hand at him. A frown crossed his face as he remembered her addressing Gabriel before Gabriel showed his face. What was she? Ruby. That was what Gabriel had called her but drawing back on his memories he couldn't place her. Did he know her?

"Can I smite her yet?" Gabriel's voice coming from behind him startled him out of his thoughts.

"You aren't allowed to harm her, Gabriel."

"No promises." Gabriel retorted as he pushed past him. After a moment, Sam trailed after the Archangel and he could all but sense Lucifer behind him.

Dean would kill him for this, but he needed the whole story from Lucifer. If she hadn't tortured him, and Michael hadn't, what had? His first instinct was maybe the Cage but from what he understood it hadn't tortured Lucifer.

"You're leaving." Gabriel told the girl bitterly who rolled her eyes.

"I don't take orders from runaway Archangels."

"Just Fallen ones that lead you down a path of destruction?"

"Fuck off, Gabriel."

"Know what? I like you better as a gnat." A snap of his fingers and the girl was gone, Gabriel gracefully took her seat and stretched out, propping his legs across the booth.

"Move, Gabe." Lucifer scowled as she shoved her brother's legs off the seat and took the seat. It took a moment but Sam managed to convince himself to sit.

"Who is that?" He asked, watching as Gabriel swatted at what could only be the gnat. He’d actually turned her into a bug.

"Ruby." Gabriel responded, voice heavy with annoyance.

"What is she?"

"Your head's really screwed up isn't it? Long story short she's one of Lucifer's most loyal followers."

Sam looked over at Lucifer who was staring at the table.

"Is she the other demon?"

"So, Meg did find her way to you boys. Told you, Luci. Head over heels for an angel."

"I brought back two demons tainted by human emotion."

"It's all very tragic, I know. Stop moping like a kid. I swear."

Sam couldn't help but smile at Lucifer's childish pout. It was foreign, in a good way. It resembled memories Lucifer had shoved down his throat when she was possessing him. Lucifer acting like she'd behaved before she had been corrupted.

"Anyways. I think you might know more than we do about the situation. So, let's recap on what we know." Gabriel huffed a breath of annoyance as the girl, Ruby, took human shape next to him. Sam unconsciously scooted away from her before looking back at Gabriel. "You dumbasses in all your glory decided to shut down Heaven and Hell, which was a stupid choice I might add."

"I'm aware it was a stupid choice, though I really don't remember doing it."

"What exactly happened to you, Sam?" Lucifer spoke up and Sam flicked his gaze to her.

"I closed Hell and died. According to Gaea-"

"Gaea?" Lucifer interrupted with mild interest.

"When Death brought us back he left us with her…" Too late he realized his slip up. A topic that was as dangerous as the Archangel in front of him if his suspicions about his youngest brother were correct. However, neither questioned it and Sam was reminded that they'd come to him for help. Was it possible…

"Gaea is a conniving little bitch. Are you sure it was Death that brought you back?" Gabriel spoke up.

"I am not cleaning up your messes. This is the last time. No more redos."

"Yeah." Sam forced away the sick feeling that Death's words drew forward. "He told me he wasn't cleaning up our messes and this was the last time."

"I'd apologize but you boys really deserve some rest."

Sam raised an eyebrow at Gabriel who rolled his eyes. "I'm sentimental."

"I think that's called guilt." Lucifer piped in and Gabriel scowled.

"Gaea was thrilled you were out." Sam interrupted in hopes of changing the topic from his inevitable death.

"Of course she was." Lucifer brushed it off with bitter annoyance.

"She won't be when she finds out Michael has Luci back on a leash." Gabriel chimed in and Lucifer elbowed her brother in the side.

"That isn't how our relationship works."

"I'm not judging. It's that balance Mom and God were trying for when they created us. It was almost perfect, until She decided to try to kill Mikey that is."

Sam foggily remembered Lucifer referring to God not being his Father though when he pushed further at that he couldn't remember what it was. What had it been? It should've been simple. All he had to do was latch onto it and-

"Sam!" Sam tumbled out of the booth, shouting out as his head collided painfully with a tile.

"Damn it, Ruby!"

"Bite me, Gabriel! You aren't watching his soul."

"And you are?" While the two of them bickered Sam's mind was elsewhere as Lucifer had stood up and was kneeling over him, offering a hand that Sam wasn't sure he felt comfortable taking. Despite what she was claiming, there was that bitter sense of doubt. The what if clause. What if she was lying and accepting her hand could be taken as a yes? It was almost irrational but Lucifer had spent so much time tormenting him for a ‘yes’ the first time that it was rational to be paranoid.

Carefully Sam moved away from her, pushing himself to his feet and glancing to the rest of the diners who didn't seem to realize anything had happened.

"You're really making it hard not to kill you."

"I don't have to listen to this."

"What? Are you going to tell my sister on me? What are you, twelve?"

"Will the two of you shut up?" Sam snapped at Gabriel and Ruby who stared at him for a moment.

"Couldn't have said it better myself."

"Why did you push me out of the seat?" Sam asked Ruby, ignoring Lucifer's remark.

"You were trying to remember something and it was disrupting your soul." She made a face at her words. "It's more complicated than that."

"Try not to remember things you can't remember." Gabriel offered unhelpfully as Sam slumped into his seat. "Nothing is pulled out of The Empty so I don't really know what to tell you, Sammy."

"Don't call me that." He responded automatically as Lucifer retook her seat. "Explain to me what happened to me in Hell if it wasn't you."

Lucifer shifted uncomfortably as Gabriel cast a sidelong glare at her.

"I don't know for sure. I have an idea."

"An impossible idea." Gabriel cut in.

"Shut up, Gabriel." Sam told him, full attention on Lucifer because she was easier to handle than him.

"Before I was originally caged by Michael there was another threat to the planet. A mistake that Gabriel made."

"She wasn't a mistake."

"Who?" Sam asked even as dread boiled in his stomach. Sam remembered something about this. Something Lucifer had said years ago.

"Aedmiel."

Something tore through Sam's mind at that name, it felt as though his scalp was ripped from his body and his brain was placed in thousand-degree heat.

"Sam. No, no, no, Sam. You don't get to talk to my uncle. Bad, Sammy." Sam flew back and shouted out as he slammed into a wall, pain crossing his limbs as his bones shattered and a haunting being with fractured wings and hollow holes where his eyes belonged appeared before him, a twisted smile on his face.

"Aedmiel?" Sam choked out around a mouthful of blood.

"No. Aedmiel is gone." The creature responded, grinning sharp fangs as a spiked tail came out from behind him. "Call me Beelzebul. I have taken Hell and very soon I will take Heaven. Not that you'll live long enough to see that. Let's find out where you are, hm?" The tail shot forward and Sam screamed as it pierced the center of his skull.

Chapter Text

Crowley shifted uncomfortably under the scrutinizing glare from Dean. Since Sam's last death it had been a constant jump from Dean half ready to murder him to Dean being helpful and sympathetic. Today Crowley was almost certain he was going to have to avoid the elder Winchester, lest he be murdered just on principal.

Crowley carefully slipped off the chair he was in in hopes of being able to leave before Dean verbally acknowledged his presence. Since when had he been that lucky?

"Crowley." He paused, looking back at Dean. "You can leave The Bunker. You should leave."

Crowley hesitated, holding his hands up to show the handcuffs. "I'm a prisoner. Even if I wasn't, I'm safer here than if I were out there." In all honesty, Crowley didn't want to leave. Not that he'd admit it. If Dean kicked him out then he was doomed. But he wouldn't admit that. Not in a million years.

"Kevin left because we didn't kill you." Crowley didn't respond to that because he wasn't sure what to say. Was Dean changing his mind? Was he about to get shot? That thought really should've bothered him but it didn't. For a moment, he mused on that. What did his acceptance of death mean? Where did a cured demon go when they died? "Maybe we should." Crowley was drawn out of his thoughts by that.

"Then do it." And maybe that was a stupid thing to say but considering how much whiplash Dean's moods have been giving him a straight answer on that would do him some good. Dean opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by loud beating on the bunker door. Crowley cast a look over his shoulder in the same instant Dean began a speedy walk towards the entry area. After the knocking picked up again, more frantic than before, Crowley decided to ease his curiosity and trail after the hunter. He kept his distance in the front room, watching as Dean took long strides up the stairwell to tear open the door.

A face Crowley had seen once in his life shoved his way in and Crowley bristled at the sight of the Archangel. Things only got more concerning when Crowley recognized the man draped across the Archangel's shoulder.

"Gabriel?" Dean asked in clear bewilderment. Gabriel? Not the god Loki? Interesting.

"Nice to see you too, Dean-o. Now that reintroductions are out of the way, we've got an issue."

"What'd you do to my brother!" Dean demanded angrily as Gabriel hiked down the stairs with Sam in tow. Crowley's focus remained fixated on the door where two women were letting themselves in. One looked extremely pissed off. The other concerned. Dean, being the dumbass he could be, didn't even notice this. Crowley knew he couldn't just let two unknown beings come in. Not with…apparently Gabriel? That was still a bit overwhelming. He’d dealt with an Archangel, threatened an Archangel, and gotten his way in the past?

"Dean." Dean turned a burning glare on him, however the turn was just enough as Dean spun around and drew his gun in the same instant on the two at the door.

"Who are you?" Dean demanded.

"One of my sisters, Dean. She's harmful as a fly."

The second muttered something under her breath and the angry one shot her a familiar look that made Crowley take a step back.

"That's Lucifer." He said without preamble and the Fallen Archangel finally acknowledged him, bitter distaste in her expression. Contemplation of whether or not to kill him, before a shot rang out and Lucifer looked down at her chest, frowning at the bullet wound.

"Was that necessary, Dean? I think you have a bigger issue at hand."

Dean grit his teeth before he abandoned his anger at Lucifer for the much bigger problem, in his mind.

"What the fuck did you do to my brother?" Dean was demanding as Gabriel spread the younger Winchester out on the war-table. His entire body was completely slack. As though a puppeteer had cut the strings on a puppet.

"I didn't do jack to baby bro, Dean-o. All of this happened because you thought closing Hell was a fucking good idea." Gabriel turned on Dean and though those senses were gone Crowley didn't have an issue visualizing angel wings spread high and mighty as the air crackled to life with Archangelic power.

"I…"

"Not in the mood for your excuses. Luci, get over here and help me with this."

"If it's her, we can't do this." Lucifer growled as she trailed down the stairs.

"It isn't Aedmiel. Aedmiel is gone." Gabriel retorted as Lucifer shoved between Gabriel and Dean, both Archangels putting their hands on Sam’s sides.

"I understand denial, Gabriel but you're acting like a child. Verrine, when it happened did you feel anything?"

Verrine. Crowley had heard that name before though he couldn't place where. Why couldn't he place it?

"A brush of power." The other woman answered as she stepped down the stairs. "It was similar to the power I felt in Hell."

"The one that was on the throne or another?" Lucifer asked.

"A Nephilim." She answered immediately, stepping around the table so her back was to him.

"Can someone just explain what the hell's going on?" Crowley flicked his gaze to Dean who was staring at his brother with more emotion than Crowley could comprehend.

"There's the Dean I know. Concerned for baby bro. I was concerned that your codependent crap had fallen out the window when your brother left you in Purgatory."

"Gabriel." Dean ground out irritably.

"Did your brother tell you that he believed I was haunting his dreams again?" Lucifer spoke up and Dean opened then shut his mouth.

"What? No. What did you do?" Dean asked angrily.

"Luci, do you feel that?"

"Barely." Lucifer responded as the Archangels shifted at the same moment. "I wasn't. I've never harmed your brother directly. Don't start about his time in Hell either. I never harmed Sam. He hasn't been sleeping because someone has been torturing him in his dreams. Not me. While we were talking to him-"

"Found it!" Gabriel shouted, reaching into and through Sam's chest and beginning to mutter in a language Crowley could no longer understand. Enochian? Something newer?

"Is that pagan magic, Gabriel? Would you have the decency-"

In defiance Gabriel simply raised his voice, speaking the words louder and more forcibly.

"Sam's soul was taken by a Nephilim while we were explaining to him who I think was torturing him."

"You expect him to believe this? Me to believe this?" Dean demanded while Crowley thought on what Lucifer had said. Crowley remembered legends of the Nephilim, had even seen them in Hell. They had been caged. Confined and locked away back when God had still tried to keep the angels and humanity in line. Not all of them, but a lot of the ones in those cages were the children of Archangels and humans. There were others too, offspring to angels and demons, angels and monsters, Archangelic equivalents, almost all of them dangerous and versatile, even in their prison.

"Your brother did believe me. I've never once lied to him, Dean. I would never lie to him just as Michael would never lie to you. Despite what you might believe, True Vessels mean more to an Archangel than any other thing in existence."

"Lucifer." Everyone turned their attention to Gabriel, the Archangel's voice holding an air of foreign power to it that Crowley had heard back when he'd known the creature as Loki. Gabriel was channeling that power and it was potent in his words, frightening to behold for a moment then gone as quick as it came. Lucifer reached forward, pressing her hand into what was seemingly nothing. When she withdrew it, Crowley went still, seeing what could only be a soul... Except it couldn't. Human souls were pure white light unless truly tainted. They were all similar under the most basic inspections. Pure light energy. Roughly the size of a fist. This soul was at least half that size and it was dim. The glow was... fading.

Crowley hadn't seen one do that in years. Not since the last time he'd seen a demon get too close to The Empty. That was no doubt Sam's soul. Crowley felt a stab of pity for the hunters because they had no idea. Absolutely no clue how close to destruction Sam truly was.

His gaze flicked after the glowing light as Lucifer delicately moved the soul across the space and pressed it into Sam's chest. In a moment Sam was sitting up, a cry of pain tearing from his throat as Lucifer shoved her brother to the side, putting her hands on his shoulders and speaking in Enochian.

As a demon, Crowley could speak all languages. Unfortunately, as a human Crowley quickly realized he couldn't speak them, and, unfortunately couldn't understand them. Whatever Lucifer said was enough because Sam fell back, staring blankly at the ceiling before turning his attention to Dean who had his jaw set, he wasn't speaking a word. If Dean's bad mood had been clear before, Dean was probably going to explode at this point.

"I'm going to…" Verrine made her way across the space, brushing against Crowley. When he didn't move to follow her she simply grabbed his arm and dragged him backwards, using the advantage of his still cuffed hands to nearly knock him off his feet.

Annoyed, he turned around once he was steadied, knocking her arm off and glowering at her as she simply smiled smugly at him before slipping through the hallway he’d come in from. Who was she? It was there. On the edge of his memory. Just out of reach. Crowley followed her into the kitchen and stood by the doorframe, watching as she opened the freezer.

"Who are you?" He finally asked and she turned, flicking black eyes at him.

"For being the one that took Lucifer's throne you sure are slow."

Crowley bit back an annoyed remark about the fact that he was newly human and still struggling with everything. He wouldn't be belittled by this demon. Not in a million years.

"If Dean figures out who I am, I'm a dead man. Woman. Whatever. Or, at the very least, you won't be the one in cuffs." She motioned to his bound wrists and there was a faint clicking as they suddenly slipped off and fell to the floor. Crowley stared for a moment before crossing the space and sitting, rubbing his wrists absently. He wasn't going to complain about being free. Especially when he was mildly concerned about his own well-being due to the demon digging through the fridge. Was this what it was like for the Winchesters back when he had his powers? It wasn't likely. The Winchesters had this eternal off switch on fearing supernatural beings or something along those lines.

"You didn't answer my question."

"Verrine, Crowley. You should remember me. I'm almost offended you don't."

Verrine. A true name. Whatever name she knew the Winchesters by had to be different because Dean hadn't reacted to Gabriel's use of her true name. After a moment it clicked into place, who exactly she was. Crowley was surprised. Not really at her revival but that it had taken Lucifer so long to resurrect her.

"Ruby."

"There we go. Three points to the ex-demon! Oh, thank our Lord for Dean's unhealthy eating habits." She pulled away from the fridge, kicking it shut behind her and settling into the seat next to him and dropping a bag of leftover fast food unceremoniously on the table.

"Suppose I should thank you for being stupid and getting cured. I'd still be dead otherwise."

"Glad to know I'm useful for something." Crowley responded grimly, watching as Ruby pulled a container of fries from the bag and began munching on them.

"You're not getting rid of us until we find Michael, Dean! Best get used to it!" Crowley and Ruby followed the sound of shouting to see Gabriel slipping through the doorway. "Been a long time, Crowley." Gabriel greeted without preamble, taking a bite out of a chocolate bar that hadn't been in his hand before.

"You could have told me."

"What? That I was an Archangel? I was hiding." Gabriel rolled his eyes, "The Nephilim claimed to be Beelzebul which fits to one of Lucifer's Nephilim."

"Beelzebul is dead." Crowley spoke up and Gabriel smiled grimly.

"Not exactly. Nephilim and nephalem can only be killed by those that share their blood or grace. By the time Michael and the remainder of Heaven were able to contain the outbreak of hybrids Luci was caged. That's why they were locked up in Hell. Heaven couldn't kill them so they did the next best thing, they caged them. Just like Dad did with Lucifer." Gabriel paused, leaning against the frame. There was an eternal sadness to Gabriel's expression. A look Crowley knew. A look Crowley had practiced luring out of people. With his life the way it was, he had never considered having a child. Except for making cambion there was never real reason for it, and he was a salesman, not a mother.

"So basically, we're doomed." Ruby piped up and Gabriel narrowed his eyes, his expression changing to hide the grief he had allowed to slip before.

"Not all our offspring were evil."

"Mhm." Ruby hummed from next to him. "Lucifer is a much better liar."

"I'm not lying." Gabriel defended. "They weren't all evil. Not at birth."

"But now they are and you're a big ol momma bear who doesn't wanna see her babies hurt."

"Verrine, stop antagonizing him." A female voice scolded from outside as the room lit up with power. "Leave the ants, Gabriel. Despite Dean's stubbornness Sam has agreed to help us find Michael."

"You know he should be sleeping, right?"

"I've revitalized him."

"That isn't healthy." Gabriel said absently, already turning and leaving despite his words.

"It's temporary until we can keep the Nephilim from his dreams."

"I told you it wasn't Aedmiel." Gabriel's voice came from the hall, faded.

"Verrine, I suggest you make yourself scarce."

"Yes, ma'am." Ruby said from next to him. "Reminds me. Where do you have the little angel stashed at?"

.-~*~-.

"It's simple, Dean. Real damned simple."

"What about trusting the God damned devil is simple?"

"She has never lied to me, Dean. If we don't find Michael she's going to wipe the planet out."

"He's Lucifer, Sam."

"And Crowley is fucking Crowley, Dean. I get it. You don't trust her. That's fine. Fact of the matter is. She's going to destroy the planet if she doesn't get back to Michael."

"How do you know that? How do you know this isn't some show for them to reunite and start the whole damned Apocalypse over again? Dammit, Sam! I get that your head's messed up but you've got to hear how ridiculous you sound."

"I know how stupid it sounds but it doesn't change anything. I need you to trust me here, Dean."

"I trust you. You ought to know that by now. Hell, Sammy. I'm just concerned. I mean you were dead and I know how disorienting that shit can be. Then you're back but you're not all there."

"I still know right from wrong Dean. I know what I'm talking about." Though he wasn't completely sure on that. He knew the facts that Lucifer had shown him. Had told him. He knew what that Nephilim had taunted him with. That there was an army of angel hybrids waiting to flee Hell. That as long as Michael was gone Lucifer would be too distraught to stop them. He also knew years of hunting told him. That despite all odds, Lucifer wasn't the threat, not right now. "Dean, look. Despite how much both of us will deny it, I'm a lot like Lucifer just like you can be as stubborn of a dick as Michael."

"That isn't-"

"Let me finish, Dean. Maybe they lied to us about being brothers but it doesn't really matter. She's going to do the same thing I've done for years. She's going to go for revenge and considering everything else that's going on, we won't be prepared for that."

Dean gave him a hard look before crossing his arms over his chest and slumping onto his bed. "Fine. Dammit, Sam. If this blows up in our faces again…"

"It won't." Sam spun around to see Gabriel leaning against the doorframe of Dean's room. "I won't let her go that far again, guys."

"And why should we trust you?"

"How about the fact that I died for your dumbasses. Just like all your other allies. I died."

"You faked your death."

Gabriel sighed in exasperation and annoyance. "Maybe God was right about making you Mikey's vessel. Ever consider that it isn't that cut and dry? Luci killed me in cold blood. I was dead, as your brother so helpfully pointed out. You dumbasses saw my dead body. Just like everyone's favorite fallen angel down the hall. Angels don't always stay dead. Not when we have a human soul tethering us to Earth."

"What does that mean?" Dean demanded.

"It means my brother earned a soul." Lucifer interrupted as Gabriel opened his mouth to speak, a clear blush coloring the Archangel's face. "Or was cursed with one as I'd rather see it. That's why Castiel is still alive as well. If an angel chooses humanity over Heaven, they get a soul."

"Screw off, Luci."

"Just being honest, Gabe." Lucifer retorted and Gabriel's expression lightened. Sam watched the male Archangel with distrust. He hadn't been lying when he told Gabriel he trusted Lucifer more. Gabriel had tormented both him and Dean on multiple occasions while claiming he was doing the right thing.

"How does an angel get a soul?" Sam spoke up and Gabriel crossed his arms over his chest.

"If we leave Heaven for humanity or Fall because of humanity it just sort of appears, confined within our grace. I've got one and Castiel has one. I've never seen another angel with one. Now let's talk about Michael."

Lucifer's posture changed when Michael was mentioned, she shifted slightly and crossed her arms over her chest.

"He's in Heaven." Gabriel explained after a moment.

"How do you know?" Sam asked.

"He told us. That's why we're here. The prophet."

Sam cast Dean a look to see his brother's guilty expression. "You're joking, right?" Lucifer glared at Dean.

"Look, the kid's been through Hell and back since we met him. He found an excuse to go and ran." Dean defended.

"Who said that this would be easy?" Gabriel spoke up, stepping between his sister and Dean. "We'll find the prophet, Luci."

"Michael is in Heaven, Gabriel." She bit out.

"Which means that the maggot will be at a disadvantage. We'll get to him. I swear to you, Lucifer but killing Sam and Dean won't do us any good and you know it."

"Michael is our priority." Lucifer growled out and Sam's gaze followed a shadow of a tail as she stormed out of the room.

"I think that went swell." Gabriel clapped his hands together.

"I'm going to see if the Men of Letters have anything on getting into Heaven." Sam muttered, going after Lucifer. He ignored his brother's shout as he rushed after the Archangel. The bunker was big. Huge. Someone could get lost in it easily if they tried. Lucifer wasn't hiding. Lucifer was drifting. Sam found her standing in the library staring at the collection of books on the shelves.

"You shouldn't be awake, Sam."

"I can't sleep."

Lucifer laughed sharply and Sam show the shadow of a tail flip behind her.

"What did the Nephilim tell you?" Lucifer asked after a moment.

"You’re his father. That an army of angel children is going to escape Hell and overthrow Heaven."

Lucifer shifted on her feet. "They weren't always like that. Most of the hybrids were born around my Fall. We may have...Overstepped."

"You tried to use them." Not an accusation. A statement.

"Our children are powerful creatures." Lucifer explained. "They are so very powerful. Some were more powerful than others."

"Who was Aedmiel?"

Lucifer went rigid before slumping her shoulders. "Aedmiel was the first of the hybrids. A Nephalem. She was dangerous. Powerful as the Nephalem always are. Twice the strength of her father. Gabriel loved her with every ounce of his being. Michael and I... We saw an opportunity."

"You used her."

"No, we were never given the opportunity, we went after her indirectly, and Gabriel tried to hide her. Raphael realized what my brother was doing and Aedmiel killed her with little effort. It angered God. He created a Cage to confine Aedmiel. A Cage that would confine the strongest being on the planet. Punishment to Gabriel for his irresponsibility and a warning for the rest of us. You want to know why Gabriel is being stubborn about this? He freed her from the Cage and she lashed out. Tried to kill Michael to spite God."

"Did she succeed?" Raphael had been alive during the Apocalypse which meant that the Archangel had been resurrected after Gabriel's daughter killed her. It wasn't hard to believe Michael would have been killed.

"No. I wouldn't let her. I saw it as if anyone was going to kill Michael, it would be me. Gabriel killed his daughter to save my life."

Sam felt a stab of sympathy for Gabriel. An understanding as to why he masked his true identity and his reluctance to stand against his family. Especially when he'd already run once.

"God hated Gabriel. I don't think He let Aedmiel die. I think Aedmiel was in the Cage with me for all of those years and I think she tortured you."

"Beelzebul said she was dead."

"Never believe a word you hear from the mouth of a half breed. They are dangerous creatures, Sam. Never trust a word from their mouths."

Sam considered the back of Lucifer's head as she walked forward, pulling a book from the bookshelf.

"What will happen if Aedmiel is alive, Lucifer?"

Lucifer shifted uncomfortably. "If Aedmiel is alive, the Nephilim are the least of our problems." She finally said and Sam saw the shadow of a wing curl around the Archangel, just out of eyesight. "None of us will ever admit the truth. The fact that we love our children. That all of the half breeds share our grace." Lucifer paused before she sat down in one of the chairs. "I'm truly sorry, Sam. What Beezlebul has prepared for you, it isn't going to be kind. Beezlebul was the cruelest of mine. The most corrupt of the Nephilim. I'm sorry he's going after you. Truly sorry. Especially since there is currently no way to stop him. As long as he cannot harm me, he will target you because of who you are."

Sam bit his tongue, resisting the urge to lash out at her. This wasn't her fault. Not exactly. They'd closed the gates and freed everything caged in Hell. Plus, if he was going to forget everything that had happened during the Apocalypse he definitely couldn't blame her for what she'd done during the early days of humanity.

"We will save Michael, Lucifer. I promise." Lucifer didn't respond and after a bit of uncomfortable silence Sam turned and left her there. There was a goal in mind and for the time being that was all they had.

Chapter Text

Flauros remained kneeling in the corner of Hell's Throne Room as Bael had ordered of her. It was a test of faith by their leader, Flauros knew this, however she was being tolerant for the time being. Bael was not a leader without his faults, in fact, he was purely a dictator. A Nephalem with arrogance unbound. Pride that far surpassed the level that Lucifer possessed. It was a matter of time before the surviving of Flauros' siblings came to the same realization. Flauros did not think they would recognize it soon enough. It left her alone and at the mercy of Bael's unpredictable behavior if the nephalem recognized in the littlest what she was thinking.

"Sir." Flauros lifted her gaze to watch as Beelzebul came crashing through the ceiling, fractured wings flapping desperately as he struggled with his landing.

"This best be good news, Beelzebul or I will destroy you." Bael stated bluntly, still draped out across the throne he had claimed as his own, acting as though he owned the entire planet. Even Nephalem were only so powerful. Flauros flattened her raven wings to her back as feathers threatened to fluff out.

"It is… news." The Nephilim answered cautiously, ragged wings curling against his back uncomfortably as he kneeled on the same blood slick marble Flauros had been kneeling on for years now.

"Talk." Bael ordered and the Nephilim let out an animalistic whine, bowing lower.

"I was testing your theory. The idea that we may be able to take the soul of Father's True Vessel from Earth despite the closing of Hell."

"I take it did not work?" Bael sounded exceedingly bored, a fact that did not bode well for Beelzebul. If Bael was bored, if Beelzebul could not change his mood, then he would be destroyed.

"No. It did succeed." In an instant Bael changed his demeanor, going from slouching in the throne to sitting upright and leaning forward.

"Leave us, cousins." Bael ordered and Flauros spread her raven wings, launching herself from Hell's Throne Room and flying upwards. Hell was always cold. A cold so cold it was hot. Hell always burned. It had been eons since she had been able to bask in the beauty natural heat of Earth's sun. It was one thing she had held onto during her years of imprisonment. The idea that she might feel her uncle’s sun again.

"Flauros!" Flauros moaned in annoyance, catching herself on a stalagmite, using three of her tails to hook herself to the side of icy brimstone, turning her torso around so she was facing her brother as she held onto the stone.

"What do you want from me, brother?" She questioned of Raum as the nephalem with two sets of fully intact crow wings caught himself a few feet in front of her on his own stalagmite.

"I have something to show you. Something you must not share with any of the others."

Flauros regarded her brother with an air of caution. The children of Raphael were generally loyal to their own, faithful to each other and each other alone. It didn't change the fact that since they had been freed from their imprisonment, Raum had been working closely with Bael. That fact was important. Flauros was unsure whether trusting Raum was a safe approach. Whether Raum could be trusted.

"You must trust me, sister. If you do not…" Raum's tail curled around his ankles and Flauros followed the movement with her eyes. It was a rare moment when Raum would fidget. If he was fidgeting it could only mean that he was trying to catch her attention. Then those words, overly foreboding.

"Okay, brother." Flauros agreed, detaching from the stalagmite and chasing after Raum as he began flying north. They flew for what would probably equate to three days on Earth but so much longer for them before at last Raum dove into deep treacherous caverns, Flauros barely able to keep up with the tight turns without crashing.

‘I am severely disappointed with you, Beelzebul. Severely disappointed.’ Bael's voice rang through her being causing Flauros to cry out and fly straight into a wall, wings flailing behind her as she tumbled downwards. Raum's tails wrapping tightly around her torso was the only thing that stopped her from crashing all together.

"Beelzebul lost Sam Winchester's soul." Raum explained quietly.

All of you are to return to me immediately. I have a warning to display.’

"You aren't going back." Flauros struggled with righting herself, flapping her wings desperately while she stared venomously at Raum.

"Are you joking with me, Raum?"

"You will continue flight down this cavern and come out within The Veil. You will be able to access Earth. Sister, if you remain here Bael will destroy you. He knows of your disloyalty. You must flee. Find mother on Earth and warn her of the dangers they face with our freedom."

"Mother is dead." Flauros said, trying to wrap her mind around what was being said. Bael knew? Knew of her disloyalty.

"Mother could not die at the time of her death. She was Guardian of a human. I spoke with her, Flauros. From confinement I spoke with her. She assured me she would never be able to die as long as Lanette Ware remained alive."

"Mother was a Guardian Angel?"

"Yes. Now you must go, Flauros. Go." Flauros stared for several long moments at her brother before launching herself into his arm, wrapping her wings around him and holding him close.

"Thank you, brother."

"I am blocking this entrance once you have fled. We cannot risk Bael's escape." Raum told her quietly as they separated.

"Maybe one day I will see you again."

"Perhaps. Flee, Flauros." Flauros stared at her brother for a moment before flying downwards.

Please, Bael! I didn't mean to! Forgive me!’

Beelzebul's scream ripped through the entirety of Hell as Flauros shot through a whirling grey vortex, crumbling stones ripping at her wings as she crashed into The Veil.

.-~*~-.

Gabriel poked his head into Castiel's room to see Sam asleep in the chair next to the ex-angel's bed. Even with the combined attempts of both him and Lucifer they had been unable to completely heal Castiel. Metatron had done something to the Seraph, though they were unsure what. It had backfired. The healing of broken limbs had left Castiel paralyzed from the waist down. Some dark part of Gabriel almost felt that Castiel's paralysis was just. Before Lucifer had talked to him he hadn't thought much on the subject. Now it was different. Lucifer had brought it to his attention. Made him think on it. Castiel had murdered Raphael. Outright murdered her.

There was a part of him that believed he was suffering for what he had done to Raphael. Part of him wondered if Lucifer had done it herself. Neither of them could get away with killing him but Lucifer had been joining him on rounds as Loki and Raphael may not have been their sister by parentage but she was still family. Castiel had murdered her, did Raphael's crime fit that punishment? No. Not in a million years. She could have been imprisoned in the Cage alongside Michael and Lucifer. Killing her was not the right route.

Maybe he had once cared for the little Seraph, now he didn't. Not with the lingering resentment that had been brought to light but his loving sister.

"Gabriel?" Gabriel looked over to see Castiel struggling into a sitting position.

"Just checking in." He lied with ease.

"On me or Sam?" Castiel asked, his gaze wandering to the sleeping human.

"Be careful with that, Castiel. If you aren't, I'll tell Dean you were his Guardian."

"Apologies. I am genuinely curious." Castiel said quietly, giving him a pleading look. Gabriel gave in pretty easily on the topic, it wouldn't really do good to start throwing around the Guardian Angel bit.

"I wanted to know if anything had changed." There was no real reason for him to be here but keeping the lie up was simple enough.

"No." Castiel said quietly, leaning forward and pressing against his legs as though touching the paralyzed limbs would change things. "I am useless, Gabriel."

Gabriel pressed his lips together. "You're a smart little soldier, Castiel. I'm sure you'll figure something out." And yeah, he was crap at consoling but in his defense he wasn't Castiel's biggest fan at the moment. Maybe ever again.

"Right." Castiel muttered as he slumped back into the bed.

"Chin up. You'll figure something out." He assured the ex-Seraph though he didn't really mean it nor care.

Gabriel, I've found something. Wake Sam up and meet us in the library.’

You do realize Sam doesn't like any of us. Dragging him into saving Michael isn't going to change that.’

We need to prove ourselves to them.’

Prove ourselves to them? Why would we possibly need to prove ourselves.’

I will explain later, Gabriel. Wake Sam up.’ Gabriel attempted to pry into Lucifer's thoughts but she barricaded him from doing so. ‘Please, brother.’

If you keep things from me it's hard to trust you, Lucifer. I hope you realize this.’

I know.’

Giving his sister the benefit of the doubt he walked over to the chair, placing a hand on Sam's shoulder and watching as the hunter started awake, gaze snapping across the room.

"Just me, Sam."

"Right." Sam said, gaze focusing tiredly on him. Gabriel couldn't begin to comprehend what the kid was going through. He'd glimpsed him back when he'd been hospitalized for sleep deprivation, even given him a boost to protect his body from completely shutting down. Whatever was torturing Sam this time around, it was masking its presence. Neither Gabriel or Lucifer had been able to stop it completely. Lucifer had been discreetly revitalizing him so that his body didn't begin to shut down on him but that only did so much. "Earth to Gabriel."

Gabriel blinked from his thoughts, "Sorry, Sambo."

Sam made a face at him but didn't comment on the recently adapted nickname, instead rising to his feet and shoving Gabriel back in the process. Of course, Gabriel could've stopped him but getting up close and personal with his sister's vessel was the last thing on his mind. Well that and he really didn't need pissed off Winchesters on his hand. That could happen after they found Michael.

"You don't even know why I woke you up."

"Lucifer found something on Michael."

Gabriel openly stared at Sam as he skirted around him, making his way out of the room without saying anything. What the hell?

Did you say anything to Sam?’

What are you talking about?’ Gabriel felt the earnest confusion in his sister's response. How did Sam know that?

Nothing.’ He responded uneasily as he trailed after Sam. That wasn't right. Sam shouldn't have known that. Not outright. Unless there was something else going on in him. Gabriel bit his cheek, speeding up to keep up with Sam and carefully changing his vision. His gaze focusing on the fractured and tattered soul of his once Charge. Without physically touching it he couldn't see everything. Couldn't see the fine indentations. The patches of blackness that littered it were clear as day, the fractured segments from years of torture were less than gray lines. What he could see clear as day were the empty gaps. The pieces missing. The parts that had been stolen by The Empty...However…

Gabriel's blood ran cold at what he saw. Oh, Sam.

Lucifer, we need to talk. Now.’ Gabriel created a temporary pocket in reality, willing to expend the energy for something he couldn't be eavesdropped on in. It was a basic world with nothing more than a circle of grass, the area around it fading into foggy smoke and nothingness. A few seconds later Lucifer arrived in front of him, wings twitching behind her uneasily.

"This better be urgent." Lucifer told him, eyes narrowed in irritation.

"It is." Gabriel responded, not bothering to sugarcoat it. "Sam's absorbing grace. His soul is. The sections The Empty took. It's repairing itself."

Lucifer furrowed her brows, wings curling inwards slightly. "Who?"

"It's yours."

A pause then, "I don't see the issue, Gabriel."

"Please tell me you aren't that stupid, Lucifer."

"If it was another human with another angel, we might need to be concerned. I'm not one at risk of the folly of a bond. If it's my grace it'll repair him. It may make him more susceptible to my thoughts and feelings but that would be it."

Gabriel bit hard on a response. Grace bonds with souls were dangerous things and while Lucifer wasn't concerned about it, Gabriel didn't share the same sentiment. Gabriel had seen what grace bonds could do to a human and angel alike. If this bond built itself up strong enough it could blow up in all of their faces. They didn't need another war between Michael and Lucifer. The Earth couldn't survive it.

"I'll stop it from forming, Gabe." Lucifer's expression was soft, "It might be his safest solution but I'll stop it. I'll hold my grace down and refrain from using it on him. If I do though, you need to take over. Make sure his body stays alive." A pause. "Though he's not your responsibility. Never has been."

"He was. Even if it was God that ordered it. I had a responsibility and I fucked him over again and again. More times than he'll ever know."

"All of Heaven and Hell fucked him over. Not just you."

Gabriel opened his mouth to say something about how that didn't make it better when something breached the edge of the pocket, crashing into it with relentless force and crash landing directly into the ground, dirt and grass flying around as fractured black raven wings and four striped leopard tails flailed helplessly. Gabriel drew on his blade the same moment that Lucifer did, spreading his golden wings out in warning as the Nephilim continued to flap her wings, struggling into an upright position and turning on them with wide eyes, stumbling backwards with a yelp.

"Wait, wait, wait!" She cried out as Lucifer moved in on her.

"Luci, wait." Gabriel hissed out, grabbing his sister's arm and pulling her backwards.

"Uncle Gabe!" She cried and Gabriel recognized her. Only from a single interaction but he recognized her all the same. Once, during the war, Raphael had begged him to hide her. He’d told her to fuck off after what she did to Aedmiel.

"Flauros. Shit. Luci, back off."

"How the hell is it out, Gabriel? Hell is closed."

Flauros dropped to her knees, curling her wings around herself and looking up at them with wide brown eyes. "Mother is dead. Raum told me she was alive but mother is dead." Flauros all but sobbed out, wings and tails wrapped so tight around her Gabriel thought his niece might crush herself. Carefully Gabriel knelt before her, pushing his arms under her wings and pulling her into a tight hug. Lucifer didn’t seem in the least bit happy about this, but Gabriel had always been better with the fledglings.

"I know, sweetheart. I know. It hurts. It hurts like hell. You gotta talk to me though. Explain to me what happened. Explain how you got out of Hell when it's locked down."

Flauros shuddered under him, muttering incoherently against his shoulder. This wasn't helping. It wasn't good. If one Nephilim had gotten out, who was to said the rest weren't as well?

"You're missing it, Gabriel. It's mother." Gabriel stiffened as Lucifer's words sank in.

Carefully he gripped Flauros' shoulders as he pried her away, using the edges of his wings to keep her from wrapping herself up again.

"Flauros, I know it hurts. I know. But you need to talk to me. You're supposed to be dead. Raphael and Michael were supposed to have killed you and his children."

The girl shook her head, dark hair flinging around her and smacking him in the face. "Mother refused to kill us, refused to allow us harm. We were loyal to each other, did as much harm as Prometheus. We were good. Mother told Uncle Mick if he harmed us she would kill him. So we were imprisoned with you and Lucifer's kin. With Semyaza and Caim as well."

"Michael kept his children?" Lucifer spoke up and Gabriel could almost feel the resentment in the words.

"Yes. Only two. They were newborns. Uncle did not wish to harm them." Flauros answered without hesitation. "Please. Do not harm me. I had nowhere else to go. I was afraid." Her wings tucked inwards, bowing submissively to them. "Please."

"I wouldn't ever hurt you, sweetheart. I just need to know how you're out of Hell."

"Raum. He helped me flee. Told me to find mother. After I left he blocked the gateway. Look." She shifted her wings, fluffing out the feathers and revealing fresh scabs forming in the skin from where rock had clearly ripped into it. "I mean no harm. You knew me, Uncle. Please."

Gabriel looked over his shoulder at Lucifer who had her wings close to her back.

"We can't, Gabriel. There's no way bringing a Nephilim into their home will end well."

Flauros winced under his hands, attempting to pull away.

"I will take her to Helheim."

"But, Gabe…no. We can't just throw Michael to the side again. We can't."

"What do you suggest then? We aren't killing her."

Lucifer's feathers fluffed out and a growl rumbled from her. This was going to end badly. Gabriel turned completely, spreading his wings out behind him in warning, half hiding her behind them.

"Fuck. Fine, Luci. Fine. We'll prioritize Michael. I'll make some excuse up for Sam and Dean."

Lucifer leveled a stare at him before her expression softened and she stepped out of the pocket universe, Gabriel looked back at a shivering Flauros and offered his hand which she took cautiously.

.-~*~-.

It turned out that taking Flauros into The Bunker wasn't a bad thing. Apparently Dean was out of shits to give for the situation and Sam was too tired to care. Which was how Gabriel knew that the world was fucked. Sam and Dean had been the center point for the balance of the world. Sure they did a whole hell of a lot of harm but they also did a lot of good. Gabriel tried not to dwell on that, tried not to dwell on the fact that every aspect of the world was at risk. He tried but it gnawed at him.

In the library it was Sam, Dean, Lucifer, Flauros and himself gathered. Sam and Dean were in chairs, Dean with a half full bottle of whiskey in hand and Sam visibly fighting drowsiness. Gabriel sat in a chair with Flauros at his feet, raven wings and tails wrapped tightly around her since she had never learned to hide her Divine form. While Lucifer talked from her place in the center of them where she paced uncomfortably he tried not to worry that the world could be in peril if things didn't return to how they were.

"Because a Reaper is just going to hand us its scythe." Dean spoke up and Gabriel realized he actually hadn't been listening. A Reaper's scythe? Reapers were all finicky. Resentful of angels. Actually, they hated angels. Especially Archangels.

"They won't hand us one." Gabriel spoke up as he understood his sister's plan. "They will hand you one, though. If we find the right Reaper."

Both Sam and Dean stared at him with minor confusion and he shared an understanding look with his sister. Reapers weren't angels, Reapers were special cases, usually chosen by Death. Generally hunters that God's rules deemed hellworthy but Death saw differently. Or just creatures that interested Death. Humans, angels, all of them were eligible and few actually given it. If they were fortunate enough…

"What are you talking about?" Sam asked.

"I have an idea." Gabriel said, realizing his years of stalking the Winchesters might actually come in handy here. There were three people he'd seen die with them that could've taken Death's interest.

"Care to share with the class?" Dean spoke up.

"Better to show you. Luci, you still able to summon reapers?"

"No. Death blocked that power not long after I was confined." She answered, both of them telepathically tossed summoning rituals and other ways to contact Reapers, most of them near impossible to do. They were ancient rituals, required things that they couldn't get their hands on anymore.

"I am capable of summoning reapers." Flauros spoke up and Gabriel blinked, looking down at his niece as she looked up at him with a hopeful expression.

"Wait, why can she do it if neither of you can?" Dean asked and Gabriel glanced over at him as Sam answered the question.

"It's basic lore, Dean. Nephilim are more powerful than their parents. It's why God had them wiped out originally."

"So we've got a supercharged angel baby sitting on our floor?"

"I am not a baby." Flauros bit out, flaring her wings slightly and glaring in Dean's direction. Gabriel reached down, putting pressure on the base of her wings until she folded them back into her back.

"It's a bit more complicated than them being more powerful than us. Sam, you've got a basic idea of our heritage, right?"

"Yes." He answered uncomfortably. "You and Lucifer are Mara's children and Raphael and Michael are God's."

"We've never been trusted so our powers were a lot more restricted after Mother was caged. Michael and Raphael weren't and since our children share our grace…"

"She's as powerful, or a little bit more, than Raphael was." Sam finished for him and he grinned at the younger brother. He always was that smart one.

Flauros ducked her head, her wings curling inwards to cover her head and Gabriel chuckled at the shyness of his niece.

"What I don't understand is how we're going to convince a Reaper to give us its scythe."

"We're going to ask your friend." Gabriel answered, his grace reaching out and brushing against Flauros' for long enough to give her the necessary information.

"What are you talking about?" Both brothers asked at the same time.

"You'll see." Gabriel answered as Flauros rose to her feet, stretching her wings out and manipulating space and matter from the earth they were surrounded by. Gabriel felt it, felt the brush of warmth and glow of nature as it surrounded that Nephilim. The use of an ability that Gabriel hadn't seen in decades. It warmed his grace and made him feel a level of contentment he would never truly experience again.

"She isn't one." Flauros said quietly and Gabriel cast two other names to her. There were plenty of people that had died over the years but few that would've drawn Death's attention. So very few. Then she spread her wings out and the center of the room rippled to life with God's energy. After a few moments, a deep grey light took life, rippling into the form of a human woman with an annoyed look on her face. Gabriel hadn't seen her in years but she was unmistakable.

"Are you-"

She shut her mouth as her gaze settled on Sam and Dean.

"Bela?" Both brothers asked in unison and the Reaper shifted uncomfortably.

"Sam, Dean." She greeted with minor hostility, her gaze wandering across the gathered beings before settling on Flauros, distaste in her expression.

"How…"

"Reapers are a lot more complicated than you'd expect. What do you want?"

"Um…" Dean responded dumbly and a laugh rippled across Bela's soul though she didn't let it show on her physical form.

"We need to borrow your scythe." Sam spoke up after a moment. This time, the laugh was physical, Bela laughed sharply and turned her attention to Lucifer.

"You're still the same idiots from when I died. I'm not just going to hand over my scythe. Have you lost whatever sanity you might've had?" She asked, her attention wandering back to Sam.

"We need-"

"-it to go to Heaven. I know what you're doing. Every Reaper in existence is stuck finding backdoors to Heaven and Hell to deliver souls. Do you have any clue…" She trailed off, soul bristling with irritation before it was replaced with something Gabriel didn't recognize. "Actually, fine. Know what? You're going to Heaven to save Lucifer's boyfriend, right?"

"That's the plan." Dean answered after a moment, tone wary.

Bela turned her gaze on Gabriel, gaze lingering a bit longer than he was comfortable with before she spoke. "While you're in Heaven you have to open the gates."

"How would-"

Bela ignored Dean, cutting him off and Gabriel felt Lucifer's annoyance cut the air like a fine blade. "You know what I'm talking about, Archangels."

"No." Lucifer growled out harshly. "Absolutely not." Bela ignored Lucifer, her steady gaze on Gabriel. Gabriel knew what she was talking about. There were a lot of things. Many things that she could be asking for but only one that would require an Archangel and nothing more. It was also something she rightfully shouldn't have known about.

"It would leave me human."

"A price to pay for what your sister wants, Gabriel."

"Where is he? You couldn't have known. Where is he?"

"Busy transferring souls into Heaven. Now make a choice." Bela flicked her wrist, a small scythe twice the size of her hand materializing in hand. "Be happy I'm offering at all. I could've left. She can't hold me here. None of us are required to help fix the world and most of us would rather kill them than help."

Gabriel met Lucifer's gaze, his throat closing as he felt he might be sick. Any of them could force the gates to Heaven open. It was a failsafe, a sacrifice they were able to make. Not something Gabriel had been willing to consider before. There had to be another option. Any other option. Anything that didn't involve one of them sacrificing all their grace to force Heaven open.

God was cruel.

As Gabriel stared into his sister's helpless expression, a plea that he knew his sister didn't want to ask of him, Gabriel knew what he had to do, what he would do. It was some sort of sick punishment but he couldn't ask Lucifer to do it, wouldn't do it to Michael. He was the only Archangel that understood humanity, the only one with brief experience as a human.

"Yes." He said, gaze moving back to Bela who looked utterly delighted. What had he ever done that earned him this? It was no doubt a power trip for the Reaper. Being able to overpower an Archangel's choice, to back one of the most powerful beings in the universe into a corner.

"You're a sadistic little bitch, Abigail Cohan. I'll do it. I'll open Heaven assuming using your scythe gets Michael out."

"No deal. It's either you do it or you don't get the scythe. I'm not getting screwed because you dumbasses make a mistake."

"Fine." He bit out and felt her power reach out, latching onto his soul rather than grace, coiling around it and locking it down in a contract. It was almost violating. In all of his time with his soul it had been touched once. When he first got it. He'd snuck into Heaven and begged Raphael to explain it to him, begged her not to tell anyone he'd arrived. She'd inspected it and told him she knew nothing about angels with souls but it had apparently felt human. That had been the last time he'd seen an Archangel before Lucifer had killed him. Now it was being bound in a contract.

"Gabriel, you don't have to do this." Lucifer told him, no conviction in the words. She was grateful. Gabriel could almost feel it. Pure gratitude. There was the muffled confusion of Sam and Dean and a brush of grace from Flauros, an apology. Gabriel ignored it, for the first time in his existence touching against his soul and feeling the pure raw energy in it.

The mix of purity and darkness from his years of having it. Gabriel could tell by feeling it that his soul was damned. He might've laughed at that if it was funny. Instead he felt a strange sense of sorrow. He'd damned his own soul. He'd long since accepted that he was probably more Fallen than any other angel ever hoped to achieve but this was different. He'd tainted and damned his soul. Never considered the possibility. Not once. Now though...When he gave his grace up he would be human. If he died, he would go to Hell and there wasn't any way for him to redeem himself, especially if his soul was this tainted.

Lucifer owed him for this. He gave his sister a hard look that said more than words ever would and Lucifer returned the look with one of the most grateful ones Gabriel believed Lucifer could show. It didn't make it better. It made everything hurt a hundred times more.

"Call me when you're ready to give it back." Bela stepped forward, pressing the handle of the scythe into his hand and he instinctively closed his fingers around it. Then she was gone and Lucifer was by his side, her arms and wings and grace wrapped tightly around him, gratitude pulsing through her along with sympathy and guilt.

That was all that made it worth it. The guilt. It proved Lucifer was who she once was. It cemented the fact that Lucifer was his sister again. Gabriel leaned into the embrace, basking in his sister's embrace as tears threatened to spill over. He was giving everything up for Lucifer, all of it. He wasn't doing it for the human souls trapped in The Veil or anything else.

Fuck.

"I'll be back." Then he was flying, launching himself from the bunker and flying through the sky, flapping his wings hard enough to hurt. Hard enough to make sure he felt them. There was nothing he would ever be able to do to retrieve his grace when this was over. He couldn't.

Why was he doing this again? Three years ago, give or take, he'd tried to kill Lucifer, had been killed by her. Now he was giving up his grace to make her happy, becoming human for her.

"Gabe!" Gabriel ignored Lucifer, stretching his wings and diving downwards into the Atlantic. Gabriel changed out his limbs from wings to fins and dove downwards, ignoring the curious approaches from fish and other creatures. ‘Gabriel.’ Gabriel didn't look at her when she dove down next to him. Instead he stared at the shattered remains of a ship, tears flowing freely and being swallowed by the ocean. ‘We'll find another way. Gabe, we'll do something else.’

No.’ He responded, eyes flicking open as a shark nudged against his side before circling around him. Gabriel wanted to laugh. Laugh at the absurdity, the ridiculousness of it all. The nonsensicality of the world. The vindictive sick cruelty of God for creating Heaven the way he did. ‘I sold my soul to her, Lucifer. I can't back out now.’

Gabriel gripped the back fin of the shark and held on as it began swimming forward, downwards into the shipwreck while using his own fins to help the shark propel forward. Gabriel felt Lucifer trail after him and basked in the feeling as Lucifer reached out with her grace, wrapping it around him and holding his True Form.

Dammit.

Chapter Text

The ritual to open Heaven with that scythe had a two-day preparation period. Sam was dead exhausted. He'd slept a total of two hours in two weeks. It wasn't hard to guess that the only reason he wasn't completely losing it was the two Archangels in The Bunker.

In that time, Gabriel had taken to cooking. Lots and lots of cooking. If he wasn't cooking he was hiding out in the bedroom he'd claimed as his own and Sam wasn't really sure he wanted to go in there. If he saw the source of barking was certain he'd heard he'd be obligated to tell Dean and, well considering the fact that Gabriel was about to use his grace to open Heaven for them and leave himself human, they had no right to demand he get rid of a dog. Dean was on edge, Sam knew it, could see it, and it wasn't promising. Whoever would be on the other end of that when he finally blew up was going to have a serious problem, with his luck, it’d probably be him.

Considering how many more people were in The Bunker than he was certain was normal the lethal silence was most unsettling thing on the planet. He knew Gabriel was in the kitchen due to the smell of cinnamon rolls wafting through the halls and Lucifer had been down in the dungeon since him and Gabriel had returned from a shipwreck. Something he wasn't sure he understood. Dean and Crowley had left a couple hours previous to go to the bar, despite Crowley's wish to stay in the bunker. Which left two demons and a Nephilim unaccounted for since Cas was still bedridden.

Since when was this his life?

If he were to guess Ruby was in the kitchen and Meg was with Cas.

Of course, they were guesses but all the same… yeah, he didn't want to check and see. Best avoid the drama between Ruby and Gabriel as well as the strange atmosphere between Cas and Meg. Which left the inevitable situation of tracking down the Nephilim to make sure she wasn't plotting to kill them all. At least that was what he'd tell Dean. In reality it was much simpler. Everything was dead silent and since he was unable to sleep without a Nephilim wearing Lucifer's face torturing him, so he was going to shower and sink away to the sound of water pouring on his skull.

The only real issue with the showers was that it was a group shower setting.

Technically, it shouldn't have been an issue. There were only four humans in the bunker which meant four people who needed showers. Unfortunately, as he'd learned a week ago, Ruby enjoyed showering. Dean had told him that he’d been cursed to know Gabriel did too. So, when he arrived outside the showers he didn't dare step in immediately, listening closely for the sound of running water. Satisfied though slightly disappointed at the still lethal silence he stepped through the doorway.

Of course, it wasn't that simple. When would something as simple as taking a shower ever be that simple? Sam bit hard on his cheek as he was met with the sight of two large raven wings in the corner. To his luck, she wasn't showering. But…

"-Raum. I am so sorry. Truly, terribly sorry." A shudder rippled across her wings, feathers fluffing out. Sam didn't need to understand wing language to recognize the agony in her tone. The cracking of her words. "I apologize, Samuel."

Sam watched her stretch her wings out carefully as she rose to her feet, turning around to meet his gaze.

She was pretty normal looking, minus the two wings and four tails. Her skin was an olive shade, hair jet black and large brown doe eyes to match. She was no older than twenty, by appearance, and if it wasn't for the tails and wings she'd have looked completely human. Completely inconspicuous. Despite the story Gabriel had told them about her being completely harmless, Sam was slightly wary. Then again, he was wary of Gabriel. Even if he was about to sacrifice his grace to fix Heaven for them. Maybe this creature was trustworthy, to an extent, but she still made him uneasy.

"It's Sam." He corrected her, earning him an apologetic smile.

"Apologies." She muttered, gaze flicking away. "Gabriel told me it was best I stay away from you and your brother. It did not occur to me that someone may come in here at this time of night."

"No, it's fine." He responded, his gaze wandering to her wings before returning to her. "I mean, the showers are for anyone to use. Just make sure when you're in here to at least turn on the water. So no one barges in."

She pressed her lips together, nodding and glancing past him.

"What were you doing?" He blurted and she blinked, staring at him with a heartbroken look before looking at the floor.

"When I escaped Hell, I sustained a lot of injuries due to my brother destroying the portal behind me. It is why it took a week for me to find my uncles. If someone were to look upon the true visage of my wings they would see the true damage."

"Those aren't your real wings?"

She bit her lip, "They are a physical manifestation of my angelic heritage as are my tails. Most angelic offspring are capable of shielding them. I cannot, I can only mask them and I do to the full extent of my power."

"Can Gabriel and Lucifer see them?" That was a stupid question that he instantly regretted. Of course they would be able to see her true form.

"No." Or not. Sam raised an eyebrow and she stretched the wings on her back out carefully, as though the motions hurt. "What you see. The normal wings of a raven. These are the same sight that the Archangels perceive. They cannot bypass what I have chosen to show. Only Mother and my siblings can."

"So… you’re stronger than Gabriel and Lucifer?"

"And Michael." She answered automatically, surprising Sam. She was actually stronger than Michael? How much stronger?

"I was also more powerful than mother to an extent. The children of angels are feared because we are powerful. We can only die to those that share our Grace or blood but..." Her wings slumped to the side, her expression falling. "Bael learned of Raum's betrayal and…he’s angry, so very-"

"Hey, Sammy boy. You better not be getting down and dirty with…" Gabriel's voice came from behind him and Sam turned to see the Archangel stopped dead in the center of the locker room halfway to the doorway. "Who? Who did this?"

Flauros yelped, jumping back from his voice and Sam barely turned quick enough to grab her hand and stop her from falling flat on her back as she flailed her wings behind her, flickers of beaten and torn flesh flickering into view before vanishing.

"Bael. It was Bael." She said quickly, giving him a grateful look as she struggled to balance herself.

"Every single one of you?" Gabriel asked, the question carefully controlled. Angelically stoic. His mind supplied.

"Raum is hidden within the remains of Lucifer's Cage with two of my sisters and a brother. All of the rest…" she trailed off and without warning threw herself into Sam's arms. It was awkward, maneuvering his hands around to avoid the wings, but he didn't dare let go because he knew enough to understand what had happened to her.

Bael, who he'd been informed was the Nephalem child of Michael that was currently ruling Hell, had killed off basically all of her siblings. Or at the very least had captured and was torturing them if their very limited understanding of Bael was anything to go by. Either way…

"Flauros, come with me." Gabriel's voice took on a harsh tone of authority that made Flauros stiffen in his arms. Then she spread her wings, flapped them once, and was gone. Sam turned around and, sure enough, Gabriel was gone.

.-~*~-.

Crowley fidgeted with his martini as Dean downed another whiskey shot. This was only going to end horrendously but Dean had insisted.

He'd figured out almost immediately when they'd arrived why they were there because at the back of the bar Meg, Ruby, and to his astonishment Castiel were all settled. Dean had stolen the now human angel a wheelchair a few days ago and apparently, the demons had decided to take advantage of that fact.

"So, Crowley." Dean began and Crowley moved his gaze from the group to the hunter. "You've been avoiding the subject. You're keeping something and I want to know what it is."

It was something he'd been avoiding. He was great at lying. Always had been. Lying, manipulating, all of those things, but it apparently was easier to do when possessing a vessel because Dean was a good hunter for a reason. He'd managed to avoid the subject for days but now he was cornered and Dean had nothing better to do than harass him while he not-so-discreetly stalked the demons and ex-angel.

"I'm keeping a lot of things from both of you." He responded as he took a drink of his drink.

"Course you are. But whatever you're keeping about Verrine is clearly big because none of you will spill. So talk, Crowley. Who is she?"

Crowley took another drink, not at all drunk enough to get away with this conversation without pissing off Lucifer. Dean would just kill him. Lucifer, she wouldn't be so forgiving if he got Ruby killed. And Dean would kill her. Especially now.

"Let me try this again." Crowley stiffened at the distinctive clicking of a gun. His gaze flicked down to see the weapon pressed carefully into the side of the hunter's coat. Would Dean really kill him? Possibly. "Tell me who she is."

In that single moment, it hit like a train. Enough force to daze him slightly as panic flared to life in him. He didn't want to die. He wanted to live and Dean had a gun pointed at him and he could die to it. The word left his mouth before he could stop it and a lethal silence followed. "Ruby." Three… two…

Then Dean was on his feet, crossing the bar, and Crowley was racing after him as the hunter grabbed a handful of dark hair, pulling Ruby violently from the table and throwing her to the floor.

Everything that followed was a blur. Dean threw his weight onto her, putting the demon blade to her neck. Then Dean was flying across the bar in a wave of demonic energy, Meg standing defensively between the hunter and the ex-angel and demon. There were shouts of confusion from all around them and it occurred to Crowley that they needed to get the hell out of there but rather than take off like a rational human, well, at least he had an excuse, he was rushing to the bar where Dean lay unconscious in a pile of shattered bottles. Meg threw him too hard.

"Damn it, Squirrel." He muttered as he shook the hunter, checking for a pulse and nearly sagging with relief when he felt it.

"Gabriel." He prayed for the first time in his damned life. A single word to an archangel that he was unsure was actually an ally. But he wouldn't. Never would he ever submit to Lucifer. Not in a million years. No matter how pure she would be acting her intentions were, he would never stoop low enough to pray to her. So, of course when he looked up at the sound of fluttering wings he could only be met with the sight of blonde hair.

"Rosier, get over here. Now. Verrine, take the scum back."

"I'm not-" Meg's voice was a bit off, panic clear in it, and there was a part of Crowley that felt heavy satisfaction in it.

"That wasn't a request." Lucifer growled out, her voice tearing across the space like a velvet blade. Then she was kneeling down next to Crowley, hands on Dean’s chest and a bright glow emerging across the space.

"It was a mistake. I just-"

"Death is looming to take the brothers and keep them in Heaven, Rosier." Lucifer ground out. "While I really don't care whether Dean lives or dies, Michael wouldn't forgive me for me causing his death."

"Because you're in such peachy shape with your lover." Meg snarked and Lucifer stilled next to him.

"You seem to forget that I let you live, even after your betrayal."

"It wasn't a betrayal, Lucifer. It was self-preservation which has always come first."

"Until you threw yourself on the usurper's blade."

"You were in the Cage and we couldn't find a way to get you out again. So, I did what I had to, then I fell in love with an angel."

Crowley wasn't surprised in the least at that revelation. He'd known for years. It was a piece of information he'd used to torture her in the past. “That angel you love. He'll never feel the same. An angel will never love a demon. He won't save you. Doesn't even know you're gone."

Would he ever be able to make up for the things he'd done? Probably not.

"Demons can't love."

"I do. Just as strongly as I did as a human. You know nothing, Lucifer. Nothing of what we are. Only what you made Lilith and Cain into. Now do what Gabriel sent you to do and fix the bar."

There was an ear ringing silence that followed that, a dangerously lethal silence. Crowley didn't look, but he knew, Lucifer had frozen time around them. Shut it down. The silence went on forever then the scene shifted and he was sitting next to Dean's bed in a chair, the hunter unconscious, and Meg nowhere to be seen.

Crowley wondered, for a moment, if Lucifer would kill her. Then he was rising to his feet and headed for the door.

Well, that was the plan.

"Crowley, wait." The ex-demon paused in his steps, turning to see Dean awake, staring at the ceiling.

"I-"

"She's not going to go after Sam again. You're going to help me make sure that doesn't happen."

"You aren't going to kill her?" Crowley didn't believe that for a moment.

"I didn't say that." Dean responded bitterly.

"If it weren't for everything else, would you be as angry with her?"

"Yes."

"In the long run, what she's done is probably the least of all of our offenses."

"It's different."

"In what way is it different?"

Dean didn't answer and Crowley took that as a dismissal. His allyship with the brothers was iffy at best, but at the same time Sam and Dean were probably the only reason why Lucifer hadn't killed him. It was a strange mix and rationally, he should've left. It was more dangerous to stick around that to leave. What would he do in the real world though?

He paused, looking over his shoulder at Dean once before walking out of the room.

.-~*~-.

Lucifer stretched her wings out, leaving Verrine a slightly bloody powerless mess on the floor. Yes, she was being slightly irrational, being angry at the demon for defending Rosier, something she would have done herself, but the situation was drastically different for her.

No. She was not being a hypocrite.

Lucifer. I am bringing them to Helheim. You should join me.’

Two days. Lucifer had given Gabriel two days even though they had everything they needed. Gabriel had begged her for two days. Two days to bask in her power a bit longer. It ached in her grace. She was so close, so close to Michael, so close to rescuing him. Once they succeeded…

I want you to meet my daughter, Luci. Please. The daughter that none of you touched. After this, we will save him. I swear.

Lucifer followed the feel of her brother's grace, stepping through dimensional walls and stretching her wings out, spreading them and catching the air as she dove downwards, down and down until she felt the rift that opened to Helheim.

It was there that Lucifer caught herself, flapping steady wingbeats to keep herself afloat as she looked down upon the realm. It was nothing like their Hell was. A long stretch of villages and icy fields stretching further and further out as it went. Lucifer had never entered a pagan realm, avoiding all domains of afterlife in favor of spiting God on the Earth. Gaea had once told her she created the early pagans for her. As a sign of her unending adoration for her. This place reminded her of the early days. The original Heaven that had housed thousands and thousands of fledgling angels. There had been a beautiful landscape where the first fledglings had explored Earth's natural landscape in a safe environment. This was strangely reminiscent of that Heaven and Lucifer wondered if Gabriel had something to do with that.

It almost hurt to see. But only almost. Lucifer had long since been outcast by all of Heaven and it wasn't home.

She was becoming a sap.

Lucifer spread her wings and dove downwards, flying over fields of souls and only sparing them a bit of attention as she flew. There was a distinction between the pure and impure souls here. The pure ones were leisurely doing things with their friends and family. The impure were being subjected to what Lucifer could guess was their own reason for corruption. There was a man that had cloaking magic surrounding him. By the way a farmer was ordering him around Lucifer guessed the cloaked man had probably been a slaver in life. There was a clear alignment between the tainted souls and Gabriel's strange sense of judgement. Despite Lucifer's disdain for humans, it almost seemed purer than God's alignment for Heaven and Hell.

By all rights, she was ruler of Hell and Michael was the ruler of Heaven in God's absence. Assuming God stayed gone, they could change the functionality of both locations, in theory. God hated her so much she wasn't completely certain that her and Michael's reunion would be allowed without some form of punishment. It had been far too long since things had worked in her favor.

Lucifer reached out for a moment, drawing a breath of power from The Mark of Cain as Gabriel had taught her to.

Mara may have tried to kill Michael, but she had been straightforward. Some days, she missed Mother.

Shoving those dangerous thoughts aside she caught the air, diving downward into a large crevice in the ground and sucking in a sharp breath as she was pulled through another gateway and landed in a large elegantly barbaric, if that was possible, dining room. The walls were lined with half breed wings, skulls, and many other objects. In the center was a large table that reached across the massive space, stone chairs lining the area, some with backs and some without.

Lucifer had arrived behind the largest of the chairs where he could see golden eagle wings poking out from around the stone. In the seat that was closest to that on the right side Gabriel was sitting, lounged back, with his legs propped up on the table. In several of the further away seats were four Nephilim, a nephalem, and a nephilo. They were crowded into the seats together, Flauros among them were her wings wrapped tightly around a much younger sibling. Lucifer recognized the trace of grace in them. They were Raphael's children.

"Don't just stand there like a fool, foðurbroðir. Take a seat." Lucifer was drawn from her thoughts at the chastising female voice coming from the seat in front of her. After a second of consideration Gabriel snapped his fingers lazily and a gust of energy caught her before she could stop it, moving her from where she stood to the seat across from him.

"Welcome to Helheim. The good one if I do say so myself."

Lucifer glanced over to see who had to be Gabriel's daughter sitting on what could only be a throne. "This is my daughter, Hel. The rest of the kids are out of town." The pale skinned girl flexed her hole filled golden eagle wings before they vanished.

"Faðir has spoken about you many times, Lucifer."

"I sure hope he told you all the good stories."

Hel smiled at her in a way that was welcoming. It was odd. Being welcomed. It had been far too long since anyone had welcomed her anywhere. Except Michael, Michael had opened his arms for her and begged her to come back to him. It had taken years, but he had been the first to ask.

"All of the good and bad. Not that I'm picky." She tilted her head the waved her hand, piles of food appearing along the table on and off plates. "Eat, systrungr. It does us all a lot of good."

The group of Raphael's children cast her a nervous look before digging in. The two Archangels and Nephorlo watched in silence at the way the children of Raphael ate together, it was oddly peaceful compared to how Lucifer and Michael's children had behaved. They were different than any of the others. Connected in a way that they would only ever understand.

"Those are the last of hers." Gabriel said quietly and Lucifer cast a confused look at her brother. "Bael destroyed the rest. Because Flauros escaped Hell." Lucifer grit her teeth. Bael. Lucifer remembered her son vaguely. He had been one of the crueler of Lucifer's children. One of the most destructive, a power seeker? She wasn’t sure, but apparently the answer was yes.

"Don't blame yourself for what he did, Luci."

"What it did was the result of my arrogance." She responded grimly and Gabriel sighed heavily.

"Yes, you were, and still are, an arrogant dickbag. But you aren't the only one that fucked up. I made Aedmiel with Cain and she nearly destroyed all of Heaven. We're both fuckups but you know what? We attempted to deal with the problem. I threw my daughter in that fucked up Cage and when the time came and you needed imprisonment I shoved my blade in her heart so you could take her place. So stop with this pathetic self-loathing shit, that's not what you do. We can fix the mistakes we made at a later point. Right now, I want to spend time with my family before I'm trapped as a mortal for the rest of my life."

After that speech Lucifer did as told, getting herself together and focusing on the idea that Gabriel would be mortal soon. Very soon. Hel gave them a tour, showing them the cage where Gabriel had explained Jörmungandr and Fenrisúlfr were imprisoned many years ago by Odin. The irony wasn't lost on him, the children imprisoned until their head ruler deemed it time for the world to end.

Gabriel had told him Odin was a good man and that Gaea had resurrected him after Lucifer's slaughter of the pagans.

She'd apologized and Hel had waved it off. Apparently, Gaea rarely allowed the pagans to die unless she saw their deaths as just. It was in that grey area of God's orders to her. Resurrecting her creations was hardly against the rules but resurrecting the offspring of angels? It was grey area all the way.

Later, Gabriel spread out on a hillside, looking across the large fields that made up Helheim and materializing his six large golden wings behind him. Lucifer hesitated before she joined his side, the two of them sitting in silence as fog covered the land.

"Do you remember the last time?"

Lucifer flexed her ethereal wings behind her as she glanced over at Gabriel. "Not long before God created them."

It had been eons. Or so it felt. Eons since she sat with her brother and watched weaker creatures frolicking. It was peaceful despite the situation. The longing and desperation that seeped beneath the surface.

"When did Heaven stop making fledglings?" Lucifer asked instead of the thousand other things that could be asked.

"Around the time He left. Without Him there the angels stopped being able to split. At least that was what Michael believed." Gabriel paused, a wing brushing against Lucifer's back. "I think He was punishing me for leaving. I always loved the fledglings."

"We all did. Even Gaea."

Gabriel snorted and withdrew the wing. "Gaea loved anything she could use to shape her little specimens. And you of course. God knows why."

Lucifer instinctually pulled one wing set to the physical plane, using the end of it to shove her brother. Gabriel squawked indignantly and suddenly a tail was wrapped around her wings base, pulling her onto her back and sending her tumbling down the steep slope, her and Gabriel hitting each other and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all as they went. By the end of it Lucifer and Gabriel were a pile of wings, tails, and limbs at the bottom of a cliff while a confused soul stood a few feet away.

"Was that necessary?" Lucifer demanded without any hostility and Gabriel grinned up at him as he shifted her wings around, fluffing the feathers awkwardly from his place beneath his sister.

"It's always a necessary evil, sister. Now do me a favor and fix my feathers."

Lucifer paused halfway off, casting a conflicted look at Gabriel who was sitting up, shoving her off of him and flexing his wings behind him. A sense of surrealism crossed her mind as she fully comprehended his words.

Lucifer knew why he asked. But the gesture in itself was something they hadn't done since they were fledglings. Since the day Gabriel realized that Lucifer would never again return the offer because she was mated to Michael. From Lucifer's understanding, Cain had been the last being to touch her brother's wings because it was a symbol of pure trust. Trust that had been shattered long ago.

Lucifer composed herself, nodding in affirmation and not missing the gratitude in her brother's eyes when she didn't say anything on the matter. Because this was something else.

A final farewell to the most sacred part of himself. Which meant that when Lucifer finished grooming him, they would go to Heaven. They would save Michael.

Gabriel stepped around him with practiced ease and spread his wings shakily before Lucifer who took to combing feathers carefully, straightening and aligning them properly because this was the last time Gabriel could ever have this done and no matter how much Lucifer longed to save Michael, she had to give her brother this.

Gabriel took a breath and relaxed into her, one of his tails coming out and half wrapping around Lucifer as she did her diligent work.

"Thank you, brother."

Chapter Text

Lucifer sat outside the bunker, watching as Dog scurried around, tail wagging as he attempted to catch the illusion of a smaller dog that Lucifer had conjured for him. One hour. Gabriel had told her one more hour so that he could talk to the remainder of his children for what would probably be the last time. Gabriel would become human and even if he were to go to Helheim when he died, most of the Nephorlo weren't perceivable by humans. Too much power wrapped into their forms and nothing resembling humanity to counter it.

Lucifer was a terrible sister. She had no right to make him do this. None. Yet she would, because she was selfish, so very selfish.

Lucifer was drawn from her internal thoughts when Dog stopped chasing the illusion, turning and barking as someone came out. Not that she needed to, but Lucifer lifted her gaze as Sam approached them.

Sam knelt down as Dog bounded over to him, launching himself into the hunter's arms as the entire creature shook with excitement.

"He yours?" Sam asked as he walked forward, petting the small dog's head as he did before he settled in front of her crossing his legs and allowing Dog to curl into his lap contently.

"Gabriel's." Lucifer answered, raising a brow as the hunter smiled down at the small pile of fur. "You already knew that."

"I heard him in Gabriel's room. But if Dean asks, I had no clue."

"How are you, Sam?"

The hunter stiffened slightly before blatantly changing the topic. "What's his name?"

"Dog." Lucifer answered and Sam's expression broke into a smile. When was the last time Sam Winchester had smiled? No matter what they would believe, Lucifer truly adored the hunter. And despite what her brother would claim, it had little to do with the grace that she had been unknowingly placing within his soul.

"Why doesn't that surprise me?"

"Because despite what you wish, you know my brother."

"True." They slipped into a comfortable silence while Sam absently pet Dog before the furball jumped up and threw himself back into the task of chasing the illusion dog.

"Lucifer?"

"Yes, Sam?" Lucifer asked, flicking his gaze to the hunter and peeling back his visual on the physical pain to observe the fractured hunter's soul. There was nothing that could properly heal him. The sections of his soul that had been destroyed by The Empty were gone. It was a terrible loss and sooner or later Lucifer would find the reaper that had done it.

"Dean wants me to ask you something since we're 'buddies' as he put it." The hunter made a face that clearly stated he didn't feel that way, not that Lucifer expected it, "Admittedly, I'm sort of curious about it as well."

"My vessel." Lucifer supplied knowingly, a sigh escaping her.

"You show up looking a lot like mom, you couldn't have expected there not to be a bit of discomfort."

"I know." Lucifer paused, thinking back on his previous presence on Earth. "Angels have specific bloodlines that they follow. The more powerful the angel, the stricter the rules on the bloodline. Archangels, as you know, require a True Vessel to be contained without the vessel deteriorating." Sam flinched at this reminder, but Lucifer didn't particularly care. It was a fact, Lucifer had once possessed him, not that it mattered because that was then and didn’t really interest her anymore. "We still require our bloodline to keep from instantly destroying a vessel."

"That's why Michael was able to possess Adam and...dad, right?"

Lucifer nodded before speaking again. "Archangels must possess descendants of Cain and Able. If we don't, we will destroy our vessel upon entry."

"Wait, that man you were wearing-"

"Nick was related to you. Distantly. This woman I am currently wearing is your cousin. Your mother had a sister who escaped hunting, though I'm unsure what the details are, and this is her daughter. Amy Montgomery."

"I thought Azazel killed all of our relatives on mom's side."

"For the most part, yes, he did. Which I'm truly sorry for, Sam. I didn’t have anything to do with it."

"Is she still in there with you?" The hunter brushed off the secondary comment, no doubt not believing it.

"No. I had Death take her soul because I’m still trying to mend things with Michael and forcing her to remain with me would have fried her mind."

Sam stared at him and Lucifer pointedly watched Dog, not wanting to acknowledge the surprise. The tiny waves of respect.

"You're really changing. You probably don’t deserve Dean is being a dick to you."

Lucifer's mouth twisted slightly in a smile. "I've earned that and far more. Now. We've talked about me. It's time for you to talk. Normally I'd stay out of it, but the Neph are our responsibilities. How’s your mind handling the sleep deprivation, Sam?"

Sam made a face, a dark look crossing his expression before vanishing. There was a long moment of silence where Sam simply looked at Dog, quiet. Lucifer didn't push, knowing he was thinking. There was no way he was handling it well. Humans weren't made to live life without sleep. Lucifer could keep him physically alive but sooner or later his mind would collapse. Even angels rested, never slept, but they rested.

"I'm tired. Not physically. You and Gabriel are doing a great job at forcing me to stay awake." There was a slight bitterness to his words, but he was better off awake, because whatever was done to him while he slept would be a thousand times worse. "I'm not angry with you. I know you're trying. It's just... Exhausting." He sighed. "I want to sleep. I need to sleep, Lucifer."

"I've tried warding you against Bael, Sam. If-"

"I know. You're trying. Which isn't something I'd ever thought I'd think possible. But you're trying to help."

Lucifer's True Form jerked slightly as Sam's soul reached out. She pulled her grace back and Lucifer could feel his soul flicker with disappointment as it retreated. "What would happen to me if I died?"

Lucifer froze, staring at her True Vessel.

"Death said that we weren't getting anymore redos. What happens when I die? When Dean dies?"

Lucifer felt her wings tensing behind her as she tried to keep her expression casual. "I'm not sure. He'll probably lock your Heaven."

"What-"

"Neither of you are damned, Sam and I will fight God before I let him keep you out of Heaven."

Lucifer jumped at the certainty in her words, Sam raising an eyebrow but not commenting on it. Maybe Gabriel was right. She needed to be more careful.

"Your souls are pure, Sam. You are Heavenbound and if you do die, we will carry your soul to Heaven ourselves."

"Don't trust the Reapers?" Sam asked, a flash of bitterness in his words. Lucifer frowned, eying the hunter.

"Why the bitterness towards Reapers?"

"Gaea told me it was a Reaper that threw me in The Empty."

"Really?" Lucifer narrowed her eyes. It appeared Gaea was very well informed as of late and sharing far more than she should have been capable of. It was almost troublesome, but that was an issue she could deal with when Michael was returned.

"Sam. Why are you asking about your death?"

The hunter didn't answer, the silence being all he needed for an answer.

"We can get him out of your head, Sam."

"Then what?" Sam bit out. "I go on living a normal life? You can't honestly think that me remaining alive is anywhere close to a good idea. Look at me Lucifer."

Tucking her wings against her back, she did as told. Reaching across the space, she pressed her hand against the chest, brushing her grace against Sam's soul just enough to get the full image before quickly jerking away.

Sam.

It was clear as day upon close inspection. Sure, there was visible damage upon first glance. Anything supernatural could see that just by looking. Sam Winchester's soul was broken. Something that shouldn't have been possible. But upon closer inspection the damage was so much worse. Fractured and torn and broken.

Fading.

"You're losing your memories."

"Yes." He answered, not considering the connotations that word once had between them. "That kid. The one who was here when Dean brought me back. I don't remember his name anymore. Even though I know I knew it."

"Kevin Tran." No recognition crossed the hunter's expression, just a shrugged agreement.

"I guess. Then there's Cas. I don't remember meeting him...Meg. I know I trust her with Cas, that she's in love with him, but I don't remember why I know that. There's other stuff too. Stuff I know I should know. Stuff I have to know but I can't recollect. Like...Werewolves. I don't remember how to kill a werewolf. You can't tell Dean this." He added at the end as Lucifer stared at him. Concern heavy as the world.

Sam deserved to die. Before something worse happened. Before he ceased to exist.

"You'll figure something out. After all. You imprisoned me and Michael in Hell." Later, with Gabriel, Michael, and her together there was enough pre Creation knowledge to potentially save Sam from that fate.

The look Sam gave him was dark, "What would the cost be for that? How many more times will Winchesters saving each other end the world?" Sam rose to his feet and began the trek back towards The Bunker.

‘It's time, Lucifer.

Later. They would deal with this later.

.-~*~-.

Lucifer slid her gaze across Sam, Dean, Verrine, and Gabriel as they gathered around the table. Dean had decisively planted himself between her and Sam, much to the younger brother's annoyance, and Gabriel was distant, his angelic form completely buried as it had been the day she arrived at his house. Lucifer was in a similar state, wings hidden away carefully and all her tails gone. It was the only way they could guarantee an advantage over Metatron if it came down to a face to face encounter with him. That tablet gave him a direct conduit to the souls in Heaven as well as the ability to conduit God's power. While both Gabriel and Lucifer could do that with Mara's power through Cain's Mark, there were massive restrictions. Namely the fact that it was only a conduit. Mara's power didn't exist outside of the prison she currently resided in.

They had to do this carefully.

"So, what's the plan?" Sam spoke up and Dean snorted, shaking his head. Clearly the hunter didn't trust her and Michael were on good terms. It wouldn't be hard to shove that in his face once she had Michael back.

"You two dimwits are going to take Castiel to distract Metatron."

"Hell no." Both Dean and, to everyone's surprise, Verrine spoke up at the same time. Dean shot a death glare at the demon that had once manipulated his brother before meeting Gabriel's gaze.

"We're not using Cas as angel bait." Dean ground out, enunciating the words as though Gabriel was deaf.

"He's right." Sam spoke up. "There's no point. Metatron let Cas go. If he wanted him-"

"Metatron let Castiel go because he knew he'd crawl back to you two. Metatron is The Scribe. He wrote God's Word. If there's anything he'll want it's a story to spread and the story of 'Team Free Will' trying to throw him out of Heaven will be his idea of a great one. So yes. He'll want Castiel. Especially since he's currently incurably paralyzed. What good is a villain who can't walk?"

"So, what? Metatron will pop down, cure Cas, and be on his merry little way?"

"Probably not. It won't matter once Heaven reopens and the angels can draw on its power again to heal themselves. You'll send out an all access prayer telling Heaven you have Metatron. Michael will clear up anything with the angels revolving around his part in them being cast out in the first place."

Lucifer met her brother's gaze for a single moment. ‘I caught that.’ The wording had carefully discarded the death of Raphael and all of the other angels slaughtered in Castiel's time as 'God'. If Castiel was an angel, he had the right to reasonable trial as long as he remained a Guardian Angel because the human Charge would have to be executed to formally execute the angel, not that Lucifer cared, but Michael would since that same Charge was his True Vessel. However, as long as Castiel was human he could be destroyed.

Michael deserved to avenge his sister. It was the only reason Lucifer hadn't smote the ex-seraph the moment she saw him again.

"Cas will be safe?" Both brothers asked.

"Possibly better than before if Metatron heals his legs."

"What about this thing with opening Heaven?" Lucifer couldn't help the smile that crossed her face as Sam settled a concerned look on Gabriel. Dean on the other hand looked like he couldn't give a damn that Gabriel was about to give up his entire species to return all of the angels to Heaven as well as allow human souls to move on.

"It'll turn me human." Gabriel responded tiredly. "Glad to hear your concern, Sasquatch but it's got to be done."

"You can't get it back?"

Gabriel's face twisted in a mockery of his usual smile. "Wouldn't be a sacrifice if I could. Right now, you should be on a beach drinking martinis in Heaven, Sammy. Unless God or Death butt in, which we know isn't going to happen, I'm not getting my grace back. Now drop the subject."

Sam recoiled slightly at the harshness in Gabriel's words and Lucifer wanted to pull her brother into a hug. To apologize.

"So why's the bitch here?"

"Aw, Dean. I feel the love. Really. It's about on level with Gabriel's."

"She's going to save you if all Hell breaks loose." Lucifer cut in before Gabriel could snap at her. "If, by some chance, things go horrifically wrong in Heaven, she's going to make sure that you get away from Metatron."

"I-"

"I have enhanced your powers, Verrine. You will be capable of as much as a Cupid." Lucifer explained and she stared at Lucifer in pure awe for a moment. "Including but not limited to transporting others."

You will not make the same effort to save Castiel as you will the brothers. If he is to die at this encounter, make it appear as though it is a mistake. Is that understood?’

Verrine's expression flashed to something unreadable before she nodded faintly at Lucifer's silent orders. The emotion concerned Lucifer. If only a bit. But the likelihood that this plan would end poorly for the brothers was slim enough that she didn't feel the obligation to question it. For the time being.

"So, we're not giving Cas a say in him being used as bait?"

"He'll agree to it." Sam cut off his brother's attempt at another argument, because that's what it was. Even Lucifer knew the ex-seraph would feel obligated to redeem himself in any way he could. Dean was trying her patience. They had a plan. It was set. They needed to move.

"The plan is good." Lucifer spoke up, wings flexing agitatedly and threatening to return to the ethereal plane. "You're truly trying my patience, Dean. I'm not in the mood for your shit."

"I'm just trying to-"

"You're attempting to keep Michael and I from reuniting and it's trying my patience. I'd swear on a Bible if it put you at ease. As such. I'm going to threaten you. If you don't stop attempting to thwart me in my attempts to retrieve Michael, I will send Verrine out to go on a killing spree of epic proportions and every life she takes, that blood will be on your hands. So, shut your mouth and let us explain the rest of the plan to you."

Lucifer smirked at the way the eldest Winchester bristled, and God did that temper remind him of just how stubborn Michael could be. Michael.

They were so close. So very close.

"Now, we don't know exactly where Metatron is keeping Michael, if we're to guess he's in the prison. While the four of you are distracting Metatron, I'm going to be checking the prison while Lucifer finds the Angel Tablet." This part of the plan Lucifer wasn't particularly fond of. She wanted to be there when Michael was rescued. Unfortunately, Lucifer was more in tune with The Tablet and would be able to find it easier than Gabriel could. As much as she didn't wish to admit it, getting that Tablet away from Metatron was the most important part.

"Hold up. You're giving Lucifer The Angel Tablet."

"You forget, Dean. I had The Tablet safely locked away for many years. There are four beings in existence who can read it, one is our Mother, who doesn't need it, one is God, who doesn't need it, one is Kevin Tran, and one is Metatron. Trust me when I say this, Dean. That Tablet is safer in my hands than in the gnat's. Once I find The Tablet I will break it, Metatron will be nothing more than a Seraph without it."

There was a stretch of silence, then Gabriel spoke. "After Michael is safe and Metatron has been weakened I'll sacrifice my Grace to Heaven's Gates. Castiel will feel it. These," an assortment of Bluetooth earpieces appeared in front of all of them, "Will be our means of communication. Everything has to be timed perfectly. If it isn't, this plan will fail and the world will suffer the consequences."

There were several long moments of silence, then Sam picked his earpiece up, setting it in his ear carefully while his gaze settled on Lucifer.

‘Make sure Ruby protects Dean at all costs. I'm not stupid, Lucifer. You don't care about Cas and while he's one of my only living friends that I remember, you and Gabriel will do what you want. Make sure my brother makes it out of this, though.

After what she'd seen earlier, Lucifer couldn't refuse the hunter. Not knowing what she knew.

"So, everyone good on the plan?" Gabriel asked as he took his own earpiece.

"Yeah." Dean responded grudgingly as he lifted his own earpiece.

"Perfect."

Snap.

.-~*~-.

Gabriel and Lucifer met each other's gaze as Lucifer lifted the scythe.

"Everyone ready?"

There were several words of agreement over the Bluetooth line.

"Call him."

"Metatron! Hey, you dick! We want to talk!"

Lucifer seriously hoped that Sam did the talking. Dean was an impulsive nightmare. They needed a distraction, not for things to go horrendously wrong.

"Your prayer skills are seriously lacking, Dean. It's a wonder Castiel never smote your ass when he first met you. I definitely did. Well, the second time. But semantics."

They waited and Lucifer could almost feel the annoyance rolling off of Dean, even when they were a continent away from each other.

"Does this plan have a contingency for if he doesn't show?"

"Of course, I'm gonna show." There was their cue. Lucifer lifted the scythe, raising it up and arcing it downward straight into the ritual circle. "I was just waiting for you two to finished setting up your little trap for me. Uh... Am I hitting my mark? Well, come on. Let's go, I'm waiting."

The air around Gabriel and Lucifer rippled and they stepped through it. There was an air of unease passed between the two Archangels. Metatron had been ready for Sam and Dean, the chance he knew Gabriel and Lucifer were working with them was slim but in the off chance he did…

Click.

Lucifer flicked off the Bluetooth with a thought. They'd pray if it was urgent and she needed to focus.

Oh, had Heaven changed. It almost hurt. Once, it had been beautiful, open, endless. Now though, now it was uniform. Long stretching white corridors. Empty.

There should've been thousands of angels. Not this empty stretch of hallways.

"Do you have any ideas?" Lucifer asked, having absolutely no ideas on how to navigate this new, foreign, Heaven.

"No. I haven't been up here since...forever ago. I know after Sam and Dean wreaked havoc on it they changed it. But…" Gabriel snapped his gaze to the doors. "I should be able to find the Prison on my own. Go find Ash Lindbergh. If anyone can navigate Heaven, it's him. Go." Gabriel took off running down the hallways and Lucifer surrendered, checking the names of rooms as he searched for the souls by the name of Ash.

.-~*~-.

Castiel glared venomously at Metatron as he blew out the holy fire with ease.

Metatron.

"Tell me, boys. What was the plan? Summon me here and demand I fix Castiel? There's no way you're that short sighted."

"We want to make a deal, you dick."

Metatron smiled at Castiel, a flicker of something behind his eyes so faint that Castiel almost missed it. Now, however. He knew. He knew not to trust a word coming out of the Scribe's mouth.

"What can you possibly have to offer me?"

"Lucifer's location." Sam spoke up and Metatron feigned disinterest. It was false. Castiel could see this. He itched to throw himself from his chair and strangle The Scribe.

He missed being able to walk. Oh, did he miss it, and he was far from stupid enough to not know Lucifer had done it to him out of spite. Punishing him for Raphael's death.

"Lucifer? Why would I possibly want Lucifer?"

"Lucifer is a threat. Not just to us but you as well. Especially if Michael is alive."

Metatron's expression hardened slightly at Sam's words, "I've been searching the planet and haven't been able to find him. Why would you think you could?"

"Because I'm his Vessel. He wants my 'yes'."

Metatron's mouth twisted, "You'd say 'yes'? For what? What's the deal you're offering? Or is this some cover to rekindle an old flame like Adam wanted?"

.-~*~-.

"You expect me to believe the Devil is a good guy?" Ash was an odd human, Lucifer decided. But smart. 

"I don't have time for this argument."

"Not sayin' no. Just trying to get this."

‘Adam's in love with Michael? Why the fuck didn't anyone think I should know this!

Lucifer almost rolled her eyes at Dean. That was not an important topic.

"Calm down, Dean-o. Just because your little bro's got a thing for Mikey doesn't mean the world will end. Prayer line is for important things." Apparently, the Bluetooth transmitted Gabriel's voice no matter what. While Lucifer could've probably modified it, she decided against it. Gabriel always had reason for his actions.

"Tell me where Metatron has been at."

Ash frowned, distaste prominent. The worm really managed to have a great effect on those he met. "He came by here a few...years ago? I think. Time has been jumpy around here lately. Anyways, there was apparently a lockdown on God's Throne Room or something. Told me if I cracked the code he'd give me all I ever wanted and more."

"His Throne Room?" Would Metatron truly be arrogant enough to attempt that? From what Michael had told her, no one had stepped in His Throne since He left Heaven.

"I told him to fuck a duck of course. Angel Radio was haywire with the fact that angels had no access to Heaven so an angel shows up here, I'm inclined to smell trouble."

"How can you-"

"Doesn't matter. He told me if I didn't give him the information he needed he would make sure I never left my Heaven again. Hence why I'm here right now."

"So, you can't help me."

The man smiled, actually it was more of a grin. "Never said that. He can lock me down, can't keep me from using my All Access Pass to Heaven.”

‘I don't think we'll keep him talking much longer, guys.’

"Working on it." Gabriel huffed in.

"We need a bit more time. Keep him talking, Sam." Lucifer added earning a surprised look from Ash.

"Sam? As in Sam Winchester? Now there's a name I haven't heard in a while."

"Are you going to help me or not?"

"Right." The man walked around the bar from his Heaven, leaning down and coming back up with a large sheet of paper that Lucifer realized was a map. "This shows the section of Heaven that's been the most active over the past two years. Well, I think it's been two years…"

Lucifer leaned over the map, ignoring the man's thought processes. There.

Lucifer's wings spread behind her without warning, a snarl escaping her as she turned, throwing open the door to Ash's Heaven and letting her grace be known.

.-~*~-.

"You tried to trick me."

Castiel went rigid at Metatron's words, Sam and Dean shifting uncomfortably next to him. They’d just convinced him to give him his legs back, he was on two feet for the first time since his Fall, and now this, that flash of anger.

"Luci, what did you do!" Gabriel demanded over the link.

Metatron's expression twisted into a gleeful smile. "That's a no go. No more prayers for you boys. In fact. Let's play a little game." The Scribe shifted. "I have to say. I didn't expect you to be part of the Michael rescue. I knew Lucifer would show up. Adam told me all I needed to know in that respect and the littlest Winchester always gets what he wants."

"What did you do to him?" Dean demanded, very clearly pissed off.

"I was honest. Angels used to be capable of being resurrected after death. If they died and their Charge was still alive, they came back. It's why Gabriel is currently sneaking around in Heaven rather than rotting in Oblivion. Same goes for Castiel here." Castiel flinched away from Metatron, but to his endless gratitude there were more important issues at hand. "I told your brother that I could bring Michael back, because Michael is his Guardian Angel. All he needed to do was say 'yes'. So of course, he did it. Like I told you. He's in love with Michael. Ah, here he is."

.-~*~-.

Lucifer landed outside of Michael's private quarters, throwing open the door and going rigid.

Michael.

Michael was there, bound to the bed with warded cuffs, wings fractured and broken beneath him. There was a wall of Holy Fire surrounding him that Lucifer wasted no time in putting out by tearing her jacket off and throwing it across the flames.

Then she was next to Michael, kneeling on the bed and attempting to break the cuffs.

Gabriel! Michael's here!’

"Wake up, Michael. Wake up." She was well aware this was far too simple. That there was something seriously wrong. Metatron knew she was in Heaven and yet, there was nothing more than the screeching sirens as a response.

Finally, the eyes opened, a moan of pain escaping him. "No' Michael." Adam. "'m sorry."

"What did you do, Adam?" Lucifer demanded.

"He told me he would save Michael. That he was dead because of me."

Lucifer, tell me you have the tablet. You can't let Michael distract you. You have to prioritize.’

Lucifer swallowed heavily, forcibly pulling her wings to her back. "Adam, I need you to focus. A tablet. A stone. It would have strange markings on it. Where is it?"

Adam stared at her through tear-ridden eyes. "Typewriter on the desk over there. Inside it. Lucifer, please."

"I don't want to hear you speak right now, Adam. Not. A. Word." Lucifer walked to where Adam had told her, carefully avoiding the holy fire, and she lifted the typewriter, grabbing the stone out of it and going rigid as God's power struck at her, causing her to cry out and drop it.

"Now, Sam and Dean!" Gabriel shouted.

Then all of Heaven shook with the power of a thousand earthquakes, an explosion of power ripping through the very fabric of Creation.

Lucifer screamed, collapsing to the floor and gripping her ears tight enough that she punctured into her skull. A thousand, thousand things could signal that. Could make her wings spread violently, make her grace feel as though it was being ripped apart from the inside.

Nothing could compare to this. Nothing.

It wasn't supposed to happen like that. It wasn't.

‘We have Metatron you sons of bitches. Come get him before he scurries away like the rat he is.

"Lucifer!"

It didn't matter for that moment. All she could focus on was the pain. The raw agonizing pain burning through her grace. Ripping her apart.

Gabriel was dead.

Chapter Text

The next week was terrible. Cas was half dead. But he was alive, which, was a miracle by Ruby.

"You stabbed me in the back. Allow me to return the favor."

Then Metatron was gone, Sam whipped around as a cry of pain ripped from a freshly healed Castiel.

Then Ruby was behind Metatron, a moment too late white light ripped through the parking lot.

"Damn it! Cas!"

Sam and Dean moved in what felt like slow motion as Castiel collapsed to the ground, angel blade protruding from his heart.

This couldn't happen. Not now. Not after everything. As Sam and Dean dropped down on their knees by his side Ruby placed her hands on the ex-angel's chest, expression unreadable.

"Get your-"

"Fuck off, Dean." She cut him off, voice cracking, and Sam tried hard not to think one what that might mean. Because Ruby couldn't care and while he didn't remember her, he knew the story between them.

"I can't bring him back. Not completely but…" She pressed her hands into his chest and another scream tore from the ex-angel's chest, the wound vanishing at a slow pace, then she collapsed on him, but Cas was breathing. Slow, breathy pants, but breathing, and a huge wave of relief poured over him as Dean shoved the unconscious demon off of his friend, checking the wound carefully.

Lucifer had been livid when she'd arrived in The Bunker that night, Adam, because it was distinctly Adam, draped over her shoulders. Lucifer had shoved the youngest brother into Dean and stormed off, locking herself down in Gabriel's room.

It was Adam that had told them that Gabriel was dead. Truly dead.

Cas blamed himself.

"I have something to show you, Sam." Lucifer's voice was void of emotion. Dead.

He wasn't supposed to die.

Gabriel's face twisted in a mockery of his usual smile. "Wouldn't be a sacrifice if I could..." Sam had known. In that moment, he'd pieced it together. Gabriel wasn't getting out of it alive, but Sam had let it happen. Because his sympathies were with Lucifer. Not Gabriel.

Sam sat down next to Lucifer on the couch, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and rubbing soothing circles as they flipped the DVD on. A DVD left by Gabriel with a note that Sam and Lucifer had to watch it.

There was no extravagant entrance, which said levels for the difference between this death and his last. There was something cementing in the lack of grandeur. Just the Archangel sitting in the middle of what could only be The Redwood Forest with Dog settled onto his knee.

"If you’re watching this, it means my suspicions were right and I'm dead. And boy does that feel weird to say. No redos. Just Oblivion. Which I think is better. Don't mourn me. Because what's the point? I long ago damned my human soul. Death as a human would only mean pain and misery. I sacrificed myself. I gave it all up for you, Luci. To make sure you didn't destroy the planet. Don't let me down. I mean it. Fuck God and fuck what Mom turned you into. You're back to being my sister and if you veer away out of some revenge quest I'll come back from the dead and end you." Screen-Gabriel looked down at Dog, not looking towards the camera anymore. Sam knew the point. The reason why he'd said that. It was something he did remember. Blind rage to avenge a sibling.

"Sam, Dean. I don't know if you're watching. Hell, I don't know if you're alive. If you are, Mikey and Luci will need your help. They'll deny it, but they'll need it. Because what comes next, fixing Hell, those are their kids." Lucifer stiffened under him, air coming to life around her with energy that was far too familiar. Screen-Gabriel looked back at them, expression hard. "Killing a Nephalem isn't an easy task. And not just because they're fucking powerful. They're our kids. You can ask Luci and Michael all you want, they'll deny feeling affection for the 'abominations'" Gabriel punctuated the term with air quotes. "They have to die now. They have to die. There's no cages left. No more locking up mistakes. They have to die and you'll have to do it." Screen-Gabriel rose to his feet, holding Dog close. "Sam, don't let your brother kick Dog out. He's been mine for over a hundred years, it'd be cruel to throw him out into the world." The Archangel on the screen shifted uncomfortably. "Lucifer, Michael, Dean if you're here watching this. I need to talk to Sam alone."

Lucifer shifted under his arm, rising to her feet.

"I'll be in Michael's room." Her voice was hollow and Sam felt a wave of sympathy roll over him as he nodded once.

"Don't kill Adam. He's a dumb kid."

"As long Michael lives I'll never harm another human." Lucifer responded harshly as she turned and left him.

"I'm guessing the macho showdown is over. Or whatever happened. Look, Sam. You hate my guts. I get that. And you have every right in the world. More than you'll ever realize. But I have to talk to you about Lucifer. Because I love my sister and I'm worried about you. I'm sure you're feeling the effects of your soul. It's serious. Very serious. No jokes allowed here. You need to be careful about how much time you spend near Lucifer. Not because she's a threat, but because your soul is drawing on energy, anything to patch the damage done to it, and if a human soul absorbs too much angelic energy it will create an unbreakable bond that can only exist between an angel and a vessel they've used. A bond that neither of you will want. You are allies at best. Lucifer is arrogant, Sam and doesn't see an issue with it." Screen-Gabriel paused. "With me dead, she will return to revitalizing your body to keep you awake. Suggest that Michael does it. Anything to protect you from that burden." Screen-Gabriel smiled grimly. "Goodbye, Sam. It's been fun knowing you."

A telltale snap of fingers and the video was over.

Gabriel is dead.

Gabriel is dead and it's our fault.

"He's really gone." Sam twisted on the couch to see Dean standing in the doorframe. "Can't say I liked the bastard, but…"

"He's sacrificed himself twice to help save the world."

"You want to talk about it?" Sam rolled his eyes at the piles of discomfort in his brother's words.

"About what, Dean? About how my soul is collapsing in on itself? About the fact that apparently Lucifer's grace is trying to bond with me, whatever the hell that means? Or, wait. Maybe about the fact that I haven't slept in a month? Yes. Let's talk about that. About how tired I am and how I am physically incapable of sleeping because Lucifer's kid has decided to turn me into his own personal torture object."

"Sam-"

"I'm done, Dean."

"Done with what?" Sam ignored the question, pushing out of his seat. "Sam, don't you dare."

"What? Leave?"

"Yes, damn it."

Sam leveled a glare on his brother. "You don't have a clue what this is like. Last time, it was bad. This is an entire Hell in its own. I can't sleep. I'm constantly awake. Constantly thinking about my fuckups. It's my own living Hell."

Dean opened then shut his mouth, but didn't stop Sam when he shoved past.

.-~*~-.

Lucifer sat next to Michael, gripping the mattress rather than touching him. Adam.

Lucifer wanted to destroy the human. Wanted to rip him apart because he'd been so naive. So completely and utterly stupid. How did Michael feel any sort of affection for the child? Why did he continuously protect him?

Guardian Angels.

"Lucifer."

"Don't speak another word, Adam."

"He's waking up." Adam spoke anyway, completely disregarding her and it had been a very long time since Lucifer wanted to personally destroy a human soul.

"I know he is. He shouldn't be unconscious you flawed little piece of-"

"He was dead, Lucifer." Adam shifted on the bed, wincing in pain from the wounds Michael was too weak to heal. "What would you have done? Tell me. What would you have done differently? Because I'm all ears."

Lucifer ground her teeth together, rising to her feet. "I wouldn't have trusted an angel. I would have thought you would've learned from us. From your brothers."

"I was desperate! Michael i en aziazor."

"You don't understand love, Adam. You are a child."

"Why does what I feel mean any less than what you do, Lucifer? Because I'm nothing more than a human?"

"Because he is mine, Adam. Mine and mine alone and he will never be yours."

"Cacrg en teloah." The boy responded stubbornly and Lucifer laughed sharply.

"Phama zomdv teloah, Adam Milligan."

"You won't kill me."

"You're far too confident for your own good."

"Michael may not return my love, but he adores me. Just like you adore Sam. You'll never hurt me just like Michael will never hurt Sam."

Lucifer stretched her wings behind her, fluffing the feathers out and baring her teeth. "You're trying my patience. Go to sleep, Adam. Pray to me when Michael wakes up."

"Where are you going?"

"To grieve my brother's death." Lucifer responded harshly and for the first time since the conversation started he cringed.

"I'm sorry, Lucifer. I don't know much about family but..."

"He died to save Michael. To save me. Tell me something, Adam. Am I worth saving? You watched me slaughter Michael for eons. Watched me strap him up, rip his feathers off, run my blade through him over and over again. You've seen me at some of my worst. Gabriel has no idea what I did, and he died. To save me."

Adam was quiet for a moment, "I don't like you, Lucifer. But Michael loves you. So, yes. I think you deserve saving."

Lucifer laughed, a harsh sound. But she needed it. She needed to laugh. Even if it was at something so endlessly stupid. Lucifer brushed her hand against Adam's side, carefully healing him.

"I'd recommend avoiding your brothers. Don't leave. Pray when you need me."

Then she was flying, wings ripping through the fabric of existence and sending her straight into Heaven.

Lucifer! Several angels cried in unison as she touched down in The Garden. Lucifer saw Joshua standing before The First Tree, the Gardener's forest shaded wings tucked to his back.

"Is He speaking?"

"No." Joshua answered, not turning to face her. Hundreds of angels were arriving, circling around them, whispering to each other. Many were scared, others were curious, however, there was one question pulsing through all of them. One question.

"How long has it been, Joshua?"

"He has not spoken since Sam Winchester locked the two of you away."

"So, He hasn't commented on Metatron's little try at being Him? On His daughter's death? On His adoptive son sacrificing himself?"

"Lucifer, leave this place."

"What's the point, Joshua? He will not do anything to me. I'm one of two remaining Archangels in existence. Michael is incapacitated." Lucifer spread her wings out, flaring them and allowing them to shine brightly in a way she hadn't done in eons. "I am the rightful ruler of Heaven." There were more whispers there. Panic. Awe. A thousand emotions from all of the angels. More arrivals.

"You have no place here." Joshua answered.

"Says who, brother?"

Joshua's wings flexed out and the usually calm angel turned on her. "You are not our sister, Lucifer."

"God claimed me as His when He locked away Mother. He claimed the both of us. Yet He can't even speak on their deaths? If Michael died at Metatron's hands, would He have bothered showing His face?" Joshua glared at her, eyes burning with anger. "God is gone and because of His unwillingness to step in we will never see Gabriel again, never see Raphael again." Lucifer's wings dropped down, "Most of you are young, but some of you are old enough that you'll remember. Remember the early days. Remember the time when we grieved the deaths of those we lost."

There was a lethal silence that followed that, Lucifer waited, waited and hoped that they understood without her asking. Without her having to say the words. Joshua was furious but kept his anger under check. Lucifer didn't blame him. Joshua was special, had been for years. The only angel that heard God after He left. But God wasn't talking anymore and both Gabriel and Raphael were dead.

"Is Michael alive?"

Lucifer watched as a younger angel tentatively stepped out of the crowd, small, still damaged wings stretched out behind them as though they didn't know how to tuck them away.

"Yes." Lucifer answered, kneeling to the young angel's level and flattening her first set of wings against the ground. "Michael is alive. He is on Earth healing."

"You have no standing here as long as Michael remains alive." A bold angel finally spoke and Lucifer carefully kept her temper under wraps.

"I will always have a standing in Heaven, even when I was cast out, my actions influenced the behavior of Heaven, but I don't want that responsibility. That responsibility belongs with my mate. I'm not asking to take his place. I don't want it."

"You wish for us to sing." Another angel said as the small one before her knelt, brushing a tail against Lucifer's outstretched wing. It took all of her willpower not to retreat. To not flee at the contact of unfamiliar angelic energy.

"Sing in honor of my brother and sister. But not just them. In honor of your brothers and sisters as well. For all of those injured in The First War. For all of those that died in the battles that followed."

"I want justice for Raphael." Another angel said and Lucifer's wings curled slightly, causing the angel before her to jerk back.

"So do I."

"Castiel needs to answer for his crimes." Another chimed in, and Lucifer bit back on her response. Nothing good would come from her rallying all of Heaven against Castiel.

"There is almost nothing I wish more for. Unfortunately, brothers and sisters, I have no right to judge him. Castiel will live until Michael returns. It is his choice on what happens to the seraph." Anger crossed her as she remembered that Verrine had used the powers she bestowed to save the seraph. She had betrayed Lucifer's trust. Blatantly ignored an order.

"I will sing." The small angel said after a quiet moment and Lucifer felt a rush of excitement as the small angel stood to their full height, spreading wings wide as though they weren't small. "Brothers, sisters, we need to mourn. Sing with us."

The other angels were stubbornly quiet, so Lucifer nudged a thought at the small angel who puffed its wings out in surprise before speaking again.

"Would you choose to be lower than Lucifer? To spite her by not honoring those we lost?" The small angel didn't wait for a response as they opened their grace, beginning the low song. This angel's voice was soft and uncoordinated, unpracticed, but they still knew and it was enough to give her hope. Faith in Heaven. Not in God. Never in God. But in Heaven, in the angels that had turned against her.

Lucifer joined the young angel, stepping forward and draping her wing over their shoulders. It took time, but eventually others joined as well. Angel after angel, voice after voice, until Heaven was alive with music. Music older than time. It was a song of sadness, of longing, of pain. Of hope and comradery. All of the angels in Heaven joined, all except Joshua who stubbornly returned to tending The Garden.

.-~*~-.

Hell. There were few words to describe it. Jo had been there longer than she should've been. Far longer. The wrong side of the gates. She'd realized far too late.

Well, Sam and Dean had succeeded. She believed in them. As she had every time the world collapsed in on itself. Sooner or later they would fix their mistake and she would be able to get out.

That was her wishes when it first happened. Then she had seen the horror that had taken over Hell and realized that opening Hell again was a bad idea.

Then it had caught her.

"Joanna." Jo jerked against her chains and stared pleadingly at Death when he manifested before her.

"Sir, please."

"I am no longer meant to be getting involved."

Jo ground her teeth together, yanking harder on her chains.

"So, what? You're pulling a God? You chose me! You can't just-"

"Stop behaving like a mortal, Joanna. You are beyond that."

"Not without my scythe." She retaliated. "Look at me, Sir. That creature disarmed me." A shudder rippled across her as she remembered beady red eyes, a mangled form only faintly resembling a body, and three pointed tails that that thing had taken to ripping into her with.

"I'm aware. I brought this upon you the night I was released because I personally believed you were worthy of this power."

"Then get me out." Death didn't look amused by her angry tone, not in the least, but there was something else. Something she hadn't seen on her boss's face since- "Why are you here if you can't help me?"

"Say your prayers, Joanna." Death answered solemnly, completely ignoring her and igniting a flash of anger, then he was gone. But she saw. Saw the flash of white light between his hands. It was a single flash, but it was enough.

She had been right. Death was bound again.

As if on cue that creature appeared before her, its gangly wings hanging from its back, rotten and decayed just as the rest of it.

"Good evening, Reaper." The thing greeted her with a voice that sounded more like metal than any human vocals and she refused to respond, just as she'd done every time it arrived. "I realize we have yet to be properly introduced." The thing's tails flicked behind it in a way that reminded her of an agitated cat. "Forgive me if I am unaccustomed to human behaviors."

"I'm not human."

The creature's not-mouth curled into a mockery of a smirk. "Now we're getting somewhere."

"Let me leave." If she was talking, she might as well try. Even if she knew full well it was futile.

The creature tsked, mangled wing like things twisting behind it. "I am afraid I cannot do that."

"I don't want any trouble. I just want to do my job."

The creature rolled its form, twisting and distorting until an olive skinned woman took its place, everything else fading into nothingness.

Somehow this was worse. The illusion of humanity.

"Your name is Joanna Beth Harvelle. You were born April seventh nineteen-eighty-five. Four years ago, earth time, you died trying, and failing, to kill my uncle. The hellhounds marked your human Soul for Hell and you would have gone if Death had not ordered the reaper Abrien to leave you. As a test, your boss gave you a choice. Resurrect your mother, or take her to Heaven where she belonged. You chose to allow her to move on. As a reward, he gave you this." Her breath hitched when her small silver scythe manifested in its hand, that thing wasn't a woman, balanced precariously between two long fingers.

"Who needs introductions when you clearly know everything about me?" Jo sidestepped, trying hard not to stare at the object that had been her weapon and livelihood for years now.

"I know everything about you from the point you were born until the point you were reborn."

"Then why have you been torturing me? Why?"

The thing twisted a smile, cruel and sickening. "Because it's fun. Because I can. Because nothing is more enjoyable than listening to the screams of something that is meant to remain neutral. There are plenty of reasons, Joanna. But I digress. I did have a reason for my visit today. I am certain you saw my newest ally."

"Lucifer couldn't completely bind him. You won't be able to either."

"I do not need him forever. Once he serves my purpose I will get rid of him, do something better than simply returning him to where my uncle brought him from the Earth."

Jo remembered that all too well. She had been there. Seen the destruction that had ensued from Lucifer's actions. The summoning of Death. The horror. The Souls that had been trapped in The Veil with her while they waited. Death had told her why he had been trapped. How God had decided it was best to get him out of the picture until "Judgement Day".

Her throat closed. "You can't do that to him. He doesn't deserve that."

The thing laughed, some of its True Voice bleeding through. "Since when do any of us get what we deserve Joanna Harvelle?" The thing scoffed, "You will never get out of here."

Say your prayers.

"Did you feel reality earlier, Joanna? Did you feel that explosion? All of that power?" The thing inhaled deeply, as though smelling a luxurious dinner and not the rot and decay of Hell. "I know you did. We all did." The thing flickered, reappearing right in front of her and gripping her hair, tangling its fingers into long golden locks. "I am high, Joanna. High on that power. It turns me on beyond all belief. It makes me want to fuck and kill. It's so delicious. And the best part is this, soon, Earth will be my playground. I will have all of humanity at my disposal."

Jo spit right in the creature's face, throwing her head forward and bashing her skull into the thing. It had the opposite effect of what she wanted, a dark glint filling the thing's eyes as it followed Jo's head back.

"You are so attractive when you fight back. So much fight in you. You make me want to eat you alive. Consume your very essence." The thing leaned further in and for the first time in many years Jo felt sick to her stomach, it was all the girl could to lean further back, ripping at her chains as though she hadn't attempted that yet. "Alas, I cannot. I need you to exist. Until then, you will do what I want. You will bend to my very will. You should have remained human, Joanna. You should have moved on to Heaven." The thing kissed her, it tasted of sulfur and something more. Something eternal. Ancient. Oxygen and power. Completely pure and sickly corrupt at the same instant. "Now you will be mine." The thing breathed against her mouth, kissing her again.

Jo fought. With all of her power she fought. This was new. Completely different. The physical torture had been tolerable. What was happening here…

Her mind clouded, thoughts fogging over.

Say your prayers, Joanna.

Prayers. A moan escaped her as she fought her thoughts. As she fought to remember.

Say your prayers.

Joanna Beth Harvelle. Not a human. A Reaper. Above the influence of the supernatural. Yet... The mouth on hers, grotesque wings. Unnatural. This was wrong. Very wrong.

‘I pray to any angel in Heaven or Hell. I need…’

What did she need? Why did anything other than the sensation of this woman's lips on her matter?

I need…

"Stop thinking, girl." The woman breathed into her neck, baring her flesh in that breath of air, removing the fragments of clothing that had remained and exposing her completely to the icy heat of Hell.

"Who are you?" The captive, -who was she?- whispered, panic bleeding away as the woman kissed down the center of her chest. No. Not a captive. She had a name.

"If I tell you will you keep it a secret?" The captive, -was she a captive? Wasn't she willingly here?- jerked slightly when the woman bit at the skin above her belly button, not hard, but still the servant, -that sounded right- could feel the trickle of blood from the wound.

"I would never betray you." She gasped out a breath as the woman sank lower.

"I trust you." The woman responded, as though her answer was the answer to the most important question in the world. The servant squirmed against her chains as warm breath hit sensitive flesh. "You must never tell another soul."

"Please." The servant gasped out.

"Tell me what you are first, slave." The woman pulled away and Jo whined at the loss of near contact, arching slightly.

"I'm no one. Nothing. Just yours. Your slave. Your servant. Whatever you want me to be. Please. Touch me. Tell me who you are."

"Very well, slave. I will tell you my name." The woman whispered leaning forward again, "It is Aedmiel." The woman said quietly, warm breath hitting hot sensitive flesh, and Jo was lost to sensation.

Chapter Text

The servant shifted, curling into Aedmiel's side and humming contently.

"You are fascinating like this, little girl." Aedmiel told her, serenely brushing her fingers through her hair. "So pliant. I could tell you to jump into Hellfire and you would do it, wouldn't you?"

"Whatever you wish of me, ma'am." The servant responded, humming softly.

"If I told you to remember, would you do it?" The words were teasing, taunting, and it piqued the servant’s interest. "If I told you to remember who you were. Who -and what- you are, you would do it. Wouldn’t you? Let's see. I want to try. Open your mind, girl. Open your eyes. Remember." Just like that Jo remembered everything and stumbled back out of the bed, grabbing the blanket for modesty and staring at Aedmiel in pure horror. How had she- oh God she was going to be sick. What had she... She wasn't…

"Hello, Joanna."

"You sick twisted evil fucking cunt. What the fuck?"

"I had to see if I could still brainwash you. Also, don't bother trying to pray from here. No angel in Heaven will hear you. I've warded my chambers."

Prayer was the last thing on her mind. All she could do was try to think past the horrible things she'd done since Aedmiel detached her mind a week ago… it had been a week, right?

"What do you want from me?" She choked out, a sob escaping her.

"A play toy. Something to torture. A willing subject. As you've seen, I can make you do anything and everything I want. I don't have to touch you anymore to do that. You will fall to my beck and call for the rest of eternity. You’ll be all of those things. You are mine, Joanna Beth Harvelle. The question is this. Will you willingly submit yourself to me?"

Jo stared at this creature as though she was insane. Well, by all rationality of the term, she was. But was she truly asking if she'd throw herself at this madwoman's mercy? Together they had tortured hundreds of souls as well as Nephilim and a few other creatures. But that was different. She'd had no choice. Now…

"No. Fuck you. No." She bit out. The woman just smiled cruelly in return.

"You will do what I want. Whether you want to or not. I simply gave you a choice." The woman said, "Come now, little girl. Come to me and forget your woes."

Jo fought against the words. Fought with all her might. She was Jo. Joanna Beth Harvelle.

"What are you?" She demanded desperately as she walked across the room.

"Hm... Forget it all and I'll tell you. But it's our secret. Just as my name is. Sit in my lap and I'll tell you a story of death and misery. Of pure unadulterated torture." The servant sighed contently as she settled into Aedmiel's lap. "It's not for the faint of heart. Are you sure you wish to know?"

"Yes." The servant responded without a thought.

"Very well. I was born in the early days. Not long after God created Adam and Eve. You see, there's a dark tale. A tale of death and destruction that no one truly remembers. It's my fault of course. I made them forget. I didn't want them to know who I was before."

"Who were you before?"

"Someone weak. Someone that meant more to her mother than anything else and something that's uncles wanted to use her."

"I'm sorry."

"You don't even know what you're apologizing for, girl. Before, I was a child. Gabriel and Cain's child. A Nephalem born to the first Knight of Hell, from the only truly indestructible force left on Earth, and an Archangel of the same origins. Gabriel was my mother, and a truly loving mother at that. She raised me from the moment of birth, but Lucifer and Michael had other plans. They saw my power, my intoxicating energies. The way I could twist perceptions of anything to how I saw fit. They wanted me. So, they fought for me. They fought hard, too. They nearly tore me apart in their battles and I realized that I was truly the most powerful force on Earth. No matter how hard she tried, mother could not protect me from Michael and Lucifer. From myself. So, she tried to hide me in one of the other afterlives. Tried to hide me." Aedmiel scoffed, tone saying just what she thought about Gabriel trying to hide her. A joke. "Mother hardly realized what I was. I had her so wrapped around my finger. Raphael realized what I was. She knew. So, she tried to kill me." Aedmiel laughed darkly, shaking her head and combing her fingers through the servant's hair. "It was only in self-defense. But I did it. I killed Raphael. I killed her and basked in her blood. I laughed. Even then. Mother didn't want to believe it. She didn't believe her little half Knight of Hell could do wrong. 'It was an accident. Pi i ascha.' Like she knew what good was. She was the son of Darkness."

"She was your mother." The servant acknowledged, frowning though she wasn't sure why.

"She was. And now she's dead because of her own stupidity. I made sure of that when I severed that connection between her and Sam Winchester." Images of too long brown hair and hazel eyes flashed across her vision. The servant remembered Sam Winchester, remembered him clear as day.

"What did you do to Sam Winchester?"

Aedmiel quirked a brow at her, smiling sweetly. "What haven't I done to Sam Winchester? He was in my Cage after all. A Cage I can never be shoved in again. With mother dead, I am truly immortal."

"Why-"

A knock on the door cut her off, followed by a tentative, "Sir?"

"It appears it's time for a break from story time." Aedmiel said softly from next to her, form morphing from the female form to a tall man with golden skin and black hair. "You may enter. This best be important, Zagan."

The creature came in, its head bowed and lizard tail wrapped around his ankle. "It is, Sir. Imamiah was able to reach contact with her father, Kokabiel."

"You may raise your gaze, Zagan. I must learn how Kokabiel was able to survive. I was present when he was slain by Michael."

"He was a Guardian. He used a stasis curse to keep his human from being capable of dying then buried him far beneath the Earth."

"Wise angel." The servant shifted uncomfortably at this information, gaining Zagan's attention.

"Should we discuss this with the Reaper present?"

"The Reaper is completely subservient to me. Anything you share with me will be in complete confidence."

Zagan eyed the servant with disdain before continuing, "He told Imamiah that your father-"

"Lucifer is as much my father as the whore who birthed me." Aedmiel cut him off, and this information might have confused the servant if she was not already aware of Aedmiel disguising herself as Lucifer's son Bael.

"Apologies, Sir. Lucifer has returned to Heaven, and he is no longer a he, but a she. According to Kokabiel, Lucifer has retaken his- er her?- position as Michael's mate."

If Aedmiel was surprised by this fact, she didn't let on.

"Kokabiel believes that Hell can be opened by the one who closed it and no one else."

"By Sam Winchester? Now isn't that interesting?" Aedmiel laughed, a twisted and cruel sound. "Oh, Cousin. I have a plan. Tell Kokabiel to be prepared for our return to Earth. We will flock to Heaven and destroy Michael and Lucifer both. We will take it for ourselves. As is our rights as the true heirs to Heaven. Go, Cousin." Zagan bowed formally before fleeing the room, closing the door behind him. Aedmiel turned themself on the servant, gripping her hand tightly and shoving her backwards into the wall, pinning her there with her power and kissing her in a clash of tongue and teeth. The servant gasped, arching into the touch of Aedmiel. "We will get away, girl. We will be free. And you will be by my side. You will love me. Tell me that you love me, girl."

"I love you. I love you, Aedmiel. Please." Then she sank into the bliss of her love's touch.

.-~*~-.

Sam's eyes opened and he wanted to shout at his brother, at the Archangels. Sleep. He had slept. It had been silent and empty, completely freeing. He had truly slept, and God it was amazing. A check on his phone said he'd slept almost forty-eight hours straight, completely uninterrupted.

He'd have to call Dean considering the eighty panicked texts and the forty missed calls, but it was worth it if it meant he'd slept. A quick trip to the bathroom and a shower later he was dialing Dean's number, almost immediately getting an answer of, "Sam? Where the fuck are you?"

"I'm fine." He rolled his eyes at the panic in his brother's voice. "I was asleep. I'm in Mankato. I'll be-"

"Elasa gen ge ozien Michael!"

"Fuck off, Adam. I will-"

"If the two of you are going to kill each other do me a favor and do it outside. I swear-" a door slammed and effectively cut off Dean's voice. "Sammy, The Bunker has turned into a freaking soap opera chick flick of epic proportions. Apparently Adam's in love with Michael or some shit and Lucifer doesn't like it. Come get your angel-"

"I am not his angel." Lucifer's voice bit in from the background.

"Fine. Come get your not angel under control before he kills Adam."

"Because I can control her. Have you lost your mind, Dean?"

"I've been alone with them for four days, Sam. Ruby and Meg took Cas God knows where. I'm losing it here. I'm not made for this." Sam considered asking where Crowley went but decided against it for the time being.

Sam shook his head, sighing in exasperation. "Give Lucifer the phone, Dean and figure out where Cas went. Even I know better than to leave him alone with Ruby and Meg. I'll be back in an hour."

Dean grumbled something akin to irritation before handing the phone off.

"Hi, Sam." There was bitterness in the Lucifer's words.

"Stop trying to kill Adam. Not for me. I know you don't care what I want. Do it for Michael and for my idiot brother."

"Adam is trying to tell me that I am still the same twisted bastard that you threw in the Cage. Sorry if you don't like it, Sam but your little brother is a fucking prick and if I had the choice I would kill him in an instant."

Sam groaned and scrubbed his hands across his face as he grabbed his duffle and headed out the door. "Yes, the kid is an ass. Just let up. You obviously survived the Cage with him. Deal with him when Michael is awake, or at the very least when Dean isn't around. "

"Because that's possible." Lucifer responded snidely. "You know he's babysitting me, right? Not leaving me alone anywhere. It's annoying as all hell and if he wasn't Michael's True Vessel I would have killed him by now."

Sam groaned, shaking his head. "Do I need to remind you who you are and what you've done? Of course he's going to keep an eye on you."

"But I'm not the same person anymore."

"You just threatened to kill him." Sam pointed out, only willing to push the point because he knew Lucifer had no intentions of harming Dean.

"He's just a human."

"This is the kind of thinking you need to get away from. I told you when you first showed up that killing humans was out of the question."

"But it's Dean. You and your brother are hardly human anymore."

"Lucifer." Lucifer had made a point of addressing that he was far from human multiple times but this was the first time that Lucifer had suggested Dean was less than human. Probably best not to bring that up to Dean. It had to just be a side remark as an excuse.

"Yes, I know. I'll return to Heaven until Michael wakes up."

Heaven? "Wait a minute, Luc-" the line went dead and he sighed in exasperation. Damnit. What the hell was Lucifer doing in Heaven?

.-~*~-.

Lucifer cast one final angry glare at Dean as she returned the hunter's phone before she took flight, heading straight for Helheim. Despite her wishes, she had prayed to her, begging for her to come, and she needed away from Adam and Dean before she decided to kill one or both of them. Death wasn't giving them redos after all or she would have already killed Dean a hundred times over just to get it out of her system.

"Foðurbroðir!" Hel wrapped her arms around Lucifer's waist the moment she arrived.

"You do understand I am your aunt, not your uncle, right?"

"Of course I do. However, I was raised knowing you as my uncle so foðurbroðir you shall be."

"Why have you called me here, Hel?"

"Because of Faðir."

Lucifer buried her grief carefully, eyeing her niece with suspicion. She was far too comfortable. Too at ease.

"Forgive me, Lucifer. I couldn't tell you over a prayer because it is simply too unpredictable and no one can know what I did without Heaven's backlash."

"What are you talking about?" Lucifer took a step back, eying her niece with wariness.

"I took his soul when he died. Not by force. It was his idea. He didn't want your Hell. He wanted the one he helped mold. So, I claimed his soul and when he died he came here."

Lucifer froze, staring at the girl.

"Where?"

"We can't remove him from his punishment."

"Take me to him. Now, Hel." The girl's golden wings flashed into existence behind her before she drew them in again.

"You can't remove him. If you do, he will be thrown into your Hell and turned into a demon. Remember that, Lucifer." She warned before the scene shifted around them.

Lucifer stared in horror at her brother. He was strapped to a table, being torn apart by a giant wolf. A wolf that Lucifer recognized all too well as Fenrisúlfr in his wolf form. It was Gabriel’s son. But not the real one. The real was much less vicious. An overgrown puppy that had been unfairly imprisoned. Lucifer could relate to that one.

"What the-"

"He chose his punishment. It will only last a hundred years. He thought his greatest sin was abandoning those he loved to be imprisoned. Fen, Jor, Aedmiel, and you. The punishment will cleanse his soul, and he'll come join me in a hundred years."

"He's your father."

"I know, Lucifer. If I could I would make it another way but I am bound by rules. I can't play favorites."

"Bring him back." Lucifer ordered his niece.

"The day your Hell was closed, Death placed a blockade on resurrections. Don't think for a moment that I didn't try. That was the first thing I did. I'm sorry, Lucifer. I brought you here so you would know. So that you would understand. If he's removed now the Reapers will move him to your Hell. Here, he will heal. There, he will be turned into a demon. If you want to be a defiant child, then take him, but he will end up in your realm. I've been warned. The Reapers will go out of their way to shove his soul in your Hell if we interfere."

Lucifer stared at Gabriel as he was torn apart again and again. Over and over. A punishment he chose for himself. To heal. A punishment so he wouldn't have to endure Hell. All because of God's terrible rule of sacrifice. Mara would never have been that punishing. Their Mother may have been the embodiment of pure darkness, but she wasn't this cruel and vindictive.

"Thank you, Hel. For the truth."

"I'm sorry, foðurbroðir."

"So am I."

Lucifer left before she could say another word. She didn't leave Helheim. She landed in a field of wheat instead. Spreading her wings out and brushing ice across the tops of the plants. Flauros spun around and narrowed her eyes at Lucifer.

"Is that necessary, Lucifer?"

"Not at all. Hello, Flauros."

Flauros stepped forward, careful in her movements, and brushed her fingertips against the iced over plants, returning them to the state they were when she arrived. "I take it Hel took you to visit uncle."

"She did. You knew?"

"Yes. I helped her find Gabriel's body. I'm sorry, aunt Luci."

"Did you know?"

"Not until moments before. Gabriel didn't want to risk you stopping him."

Lucifer sighed and shook her head, it was a fair judgement but she wasn't sure it was the right call. No matter her loyalty to Gabriel, she was willing to sacrifice his grace to retrieve Michael. She probably would've let him die.

Have I Fallen so far?

"I was actually about to seek you out, Aunt. Bael recognized that we escaped. He has told my younger siblings he is going to rip us apart piece by piece when he escapes Hell. They're scared. Absolutely terrified. Raum and I attempted to reassure them that they are safe but... I guess I should just ask. They want to see Michael."

"Michael is still recovering. I'm sorry, Flauros. Tell them that you and your siblings are the only ones capable of entering Helheim."

"He will live?"

"Yes, Flauros. He will live. Though the same cannot be said of his current Vessel."

A smile quirked on Flauros' face.

"Oh, go jump out of your nest, little one. Yes. Me and Michael have reconciled our relationship."

"You're jealous, though. His Vessel is in love with him, right?"

"How-"

"My father was my mother's first Vessel. That being said, I'm far from the first of her children. I think the second oldest living one now."

"Raum is the eldest, correct?'

"Mother's first offspring with a human, or demi-human. Prometheus was her first true child."

"Artemis killed him, correct?"

"Unfortunately. If only the Nephorlo were as close to immortality as we are."

"I cannot say I'm particularly fond of you abominations nor Gaea's Pagans but I believe you and your siblings are truly good creatures."

"Thank you, Aunt." Flauros responded, feathers puffing up and a smile crossing her face.

"Tell your siblings that they are safe here."

Lucifer tilted her head and scowled when he heard Hannah's voice. ‘Lucifer, if you aren't too busy we could use your assistance in something.’

"Of course." She frowned. "Are you leaving?"

Lucifer hesitated, rubbing the back of her neck. "I accidentally was welcomed back into Heaven. At least, until Michael returns. Really, I was just hoping for tolerance for the sake of grieving my brother and sister."

"Have fun ruling, Lucifer."

"I'm not ruling Heaven." Lucifer scowled, stretching out her wings then taking flight.

.-~*~-.

Click.

"Hello, Michael." Michael blinked, adjusting his vision to the scene around him.

"Michael." Adam's voice nudged at him.

"Conisa ag sapah." Michael chided gently as his vision finally settled onto Metatron. What was he doing with Adam? Then his gaze flicked to the Holy Fire surrounding him and his eyes narrowed. "What do you think you are doing, Metatron?" Michael hissed out, burying Adam's mind gently.

"I need your assistance."

Michael opened the ancient Archangel connection, not willing to risk anything else. Metatron was arrogant, but the closer Michael looked the more he understood. Metatron was using a Tablet to strengthen his power. Succeeding as well. Was Metatron why the Cage shattered? "Metatron." He warned them.

"If you wished for my assistance you would not have trapped me." Michael spread his wings behind him, carefully confining them within the circle while still spreading them to their full extent. "Release me and I'll grant you mercy, Metatron."

"Michael. Where are you?" Lucifer was so panicked. He would get back to her.

"I thought you'd say something like that."

There was a scheming smile on the angel's face. "Heaven." Michael answered.

Click. Michael's True Voice ripped out across Heaven in a terrible shriek of agony as a second line of Holy Fire ripped to life directly around him, igniting his wings and causing unspeakable agony.

Michael had retreated into Adam's soul, using his grace as a solid barrier for the both of them while Metatron did whatever he wished to Michael's form. They explored the world together there. Michael showed Adam everything. Just as he had done in Hell. It was lonely without Lucifer to accompany him but he did what he could. Protected Adam as he had done for decades now. But there was only so much he could do. It was after what felt like years that he began to recognize Adam was keeping something from him. Something vital. So he began to unwind from where he had hidden within his Vessel's soul. It took immense amounts of effort. But he began to realize what had happened. Where he was.

"Bagile Adam?" There was an air of confusion as he gently pressed Adam's awareness to the side. They were in a large bathroom. Underneath a showerhead. The water was warm against their skin and Michael recognized the damage to his grace was too heavy for him to even attempt to use his powers.

"Elasa biab ozien." Adam answered and Michael felt a flash of frustration. That had never been the case between them and the boy knew it. How long had they been free from Metatron? It was far from difficult to guess that Metatron's ministrations, if he were to word torture kindly, had dulled him to the happenings around him. In fact, the heat of the water was perfect proof of how truly detached he was standing with his grace.

"Ol zir Lucifer's Elasa om oi." He chastised, trying to be gentle, trying to make him understand without lashing out. Where was he? How long had he been here?

In his desperation, Adam switched back to English, which Michael was unsure was a good or bad thing. "He is still evil, Michael. You're blinded by your emotions but he's using you. Do you know what he's done while you've slept? He's overtaken Heaven! Listen-" Despite his wishes to allow Adam to remain, he brushed a bit of his grace against the boy and rendered him unconscious. The use of his grace was completely exhausting. But it was worth it. The only downside was trying to recognize where they were. Yes, it would have been easier to have asked Adam but the human had managed to ignite his temper. What had Adam been thinking? Not telling him they had been freed from Metatron. It had to have been Lucifer. Michael had misjudged the rationality of Adam. The maturity. Albeit it was unlikely Lucifer was being any more mature towards Adam regarding the situation, but Lucifer was a possessive dick who had destroyed several of his Nephilim and a Nephalem as well as their other parent out of jealous spite.

Why did he love her again?

Oh yes. She was the brightest thing in Creation, the most beautiful of the angels. The first being he saw and the last he ever would. Lucifer was the light of his life, an almost bitter irony considering Lucifer was born of Darkness and he of Light.

Michael carefully gathered Adam's clothes from the floor, sliding into too big jeans and...Plaid?

The sight made him pause, forcing his grace out and around him despite the agonized protests of his Form. Wherever he was, it was heavily warded. Warding that rightfully shouldn't have been present on Earth. And there, not far away, he sensed his True Vessel.

Dean Winchester.

He really should have been at the least annoyed, but he wasn't. He had been dealing with Adam for far too long.

He did recoil when he recognized a second presence in the room, it was a de- no wait. Michael frowned, unable to resist the touch of curiosity as he found his way out of the showers and down a hallway. It wasn't hard to find his True Vessel in such close range, even with the warding that little brat Castiel had carved into the brothers.

The sounds coming from the other side of the door were unmistakable but Michael ignored them, brushing his grace against that not demon soul. It had definitely been demonic, at one point.

"-the hell!" Michael jerked back as the door flung open, a very pissed off Dean Winchester standing there disheveled and in a pair of hardly discreet pajama pants. Michael tilted his head, eying the form on the bed with distaste and surprise.

"Adam, I told you to…" Dean trailed off, narrowing his eyes. "You're not Adam."

"No. Your brother is currently sleeping." Michael answered, returning his attention to Dean. "Of all of the Winchesters to engage themselves with a demon I would never have expected it from you."

Dean went red, glaring at him. "Fuck off, Michael."

"Hello, Crowley." The Archangel told the not demon, looking past the hunter again to meet the smug gaze. It rang false, but it was there.

"Been a while, Birdie."

Michael scowled, resisting the urge to stretch his wings out. He still vividly remembered what Metatron had done to them when he first arrived in Heaven.

"You two know each other?" Dean asked, momentarily at a loss.

"Of course we do. I tried to blackmail him." Crowley answered casually, which was far from the truth. Not that the not demon remembered the truth. Humanity and becoming a demon would have long ago wiped that history from the once angel. Best not to bring it up.

"Who freed me?" Michael decided to change the subject, gaze returning to Dean. By the clear mistrust in the hunter's expression his suspicions were confirmed. "Where is she, Dean?"

"I don't know." Dean admitted after a moment, scowling and walking back across the room, shoving some clothes at the demon from the dresser.

"I find that hard to believe."

"It's true. He took off half an hour ago. Maybe longer. I tried getting Sam to find something to ward the bunker so he couldn't take off but he's all on the ‘the devil's turned good for love’ bandwagon."

"I take it you're not?"

"I don't think love is a good enough reason to backtrack ending the world."

"Humanity." Michael corrected, unsure why, probably due to the frequent corrections by Lucifer during their time in the Cage and Dean scowled.

"Because the two of you going into an all-out brawl wouldn't have devastated the planet itself. Don't play innocent, Michael. Lucifer might have convinced Sam that he-"

"Lucifer never wanted to fight me, Dean. She begged me to see reason. I just refused to listen. You're right. You're absolutely right. If we fought, it would have destroyed half the planet. At the time, I saw His will as just."

"You don't anymore?" Crystal clear doubt in the question. Which was fair. Michael decided to let that go.

"Does it really matter what I say? You aren't going to believe me either way. Believe me, or don't. Lucifer doesn't plan on destroying humanity and I have no intention of killing her."

"Let it go, darling. I believe him." Dean scowled at Crowley's words before shoving out of the room past him.

"Where is she, Crowley?"

"I'm in the dark on that. Lucifer mostly leaves me to dwell on my own insecurities as of late."

Michael nodded, turning to leave the room before pausing. "I have to say. I would never have expected Dean and you to become lovers."

"Lover would dignify it and involve some sort of romantic connection. It's more along the lines of hate fucking."

Michael stifled a response because it was clear in the minor conflict in his voice that Crowley wasn't so sure. For him, or for Dean he couldn't quite tell but clearly there was at least a bit more than anger there. Well, it didn't really matter. That brother was no longer his problem. Adam was, and honestly Michael didn't have a clue what to do with him. Especially when Lucifer eventually found out. Because she would find out.

"Is everyone alive!" A familiar voice called from further down the hall and Michael could almost feel Dean relax. Abandoning Crowley, the Archangel trailed in that direction, stopping in the doorframe as Sam Winchester stepped down with a bag in hand.

"Did you-"

"Yes, I remembered." Those words sounded distinctly as though him remembering something was majorly important and Michael frowned.

"You're my favorite brother." Dean stated suddenly as he crossed the space, snagging the bag from Sam and carrying it off towards the kitchen.

"Dean, you better share…"

Michael shifted his vision and froze, staring at the impossible soul of Sam Winchester. That couldn't happen and yet…

"Michael!" The Archangel yelped slightly as he was hit and sent tumbling into a clearing, the fact that it was Lucifer on top of him was the only thing that kept him from fighting back.

"Lucifer."

She grinned at him, an all too taunting smile that didn't reflect the distress in her grace. "I told you not to die on me."

And he had died. But that was hardly his fault. Before he could even begin to articulate a response, she was kissing him, drawing him close and flooding his grace with her own. No longer cold as ice, just a chill that Michael only half struggled against.

"If you die again, Michael. I will bring you back to kill you. That's a promise."

His grace lit up, drawing through Lucifer's grace to- was that Heaven? Was Lucifer drawing on Heaven for power?

"How-"

"The little ones decided instate me as their leader until you woke up. I don't understand why you agreed to rule Heaven. Actually, I do, but that doesn't make it worth it. Hell is so much easier to run."

Michael wasn't sure how to feel about Lucifer running Heaven. While he undeniably loved her, she wasn't the greatest with judgement calls.

"I ordered the seraph Hannah to make all orders of judgement unless they directly countered something you had enacted before. Don't worry about Heaven, Mikey. It's all fine. I promise."

Michael considered this for a moment before surrendering and spreading his wings beneath him with careful precision. From her perch on him Lucifer careful ran her fingers across the limbs, healing the broken fractures in a way that shouldn't have been possible.

"How-"

"I don't want to talk about that yet, Mikey. Just let me heal you." Her voice cracked slightly so Michael decided best not to push for the moment, with ease he reached up, brushing his fingers into golden hair and pulling her down into gentle kiss that quickly grew into something fierce and desperate.

"Ol aziazor elasa, Michael."

"Od ol aziazor elasa, Lucifer." He responded as Lucifer banished the remainder of their clothing.

Chapter Text

Death sat patiently near the throne as the child of Cain and Gabriel called on her -or was it his?- kin. The children of angels gathered in flocks, watched in silence as Joanna and Aedmiel worked together. What had once been his Reaper had been replaced with a creature that thrived on the suffering of others. In all of his time, he never would have predicated that Joanna would follow this route.

If only he had been able to properly warn his Reaper of Aedmiel's intentions before they happened. Though, in the end of things, the moment she was captured she had been lost.

It had never been his intentions for his Reapers to get caught directly in the conflict. They were meant to remain neutral. For most of time, it had been simple enough. Now his children were vulnerable and suffering, the only solution to the issue in The Veil would doom the Earth. Death wanted to believe that things would get better.

He wished to believe that Joanna would come back to herself. If he were an optimist, he would allow himself to imagine these things. The problem was that he simply wasn’t. In every varying outcome he could see, there were no outcomes that could save the planet.

As things stood, Earth was a lost cause and he was finding less and less reasons to remain. There were plenty of other planets he could find interest in. Other pockets of creation that were more interesting, less doomed.

Presuming Aedmiel didn't succeed in her plans for him, he would probably leave this planet to destroy itself. Maybe he would take Samael with him.

"Girl." Joanna beamed at Aedmiel as she stopped driving the angel blade into Michael's son, turning her undivided attention on the nephalem.

Joanna was lost to them. What had been almost no time on Earth had been decades for his Reaper, she had endured something that no other creature deserved. It was inevitable that she lost herself. In the end, it was a matter of logic and history. Aedmiel possessed power unlike almost any other creature on the Earth. Aedmiel was raw, untapped energy derived from two of the most unstable powers in existence.

"Yes, my Lord?" Joanna spoke, bowing formally before the woman, who was still cloaking herself as Bael for the lesser beings. On some level, Death wished her were fooled. If he was, he wouldn’t be trapped by the annoyance that all of these children of the angels were stupid enough to believe that this nephalem was someone else. Bael had never been a truly evil one. Bael had been on the right side of neutrality that Death had ultimately taken him as a Reaper. Aedmiel took Joanna's hand and pulled her into an embrace, far too intimate by human standards.

"I have a job for you. It will free all of us from our confinement in Hell. I need you to swear to me you will do your task."

"Always, aziazor. Tell me what you wish for me to do."

Aedmiel met his gaze from across the space, a twisted look in her eyes that bored Death. It was a look he recognized. A look he had seen many times over his life from countless beings that thought they were superior. It was arrogance and pride wrapped into rage.

Actually. She looked like her uncle. She looked like Lucifer had when he -no, wait, it was she now- had gone through the troublesome task of freeing him.

Perhaps he would tell her one day soon. If this didn’t end how he knew it was supposed to.

"Do you see Death?"

Joanna paused before turning on him, expression far from the familiar girl he had claimed as one of his Reapers. The Joanna he had known had possessed a sense of right and wrong. Known and accepted the rules of the universe. The living lived, the dead died, and they were all meant to stay that way.

This girl had been twisted and warped. Mind changed over and over again, thrown between brainwashed and a sense of free choice until she became exactly what Aedmiel wanted.

Death remembered Aedmiel’s first attack on Heaven.

He regretted having ever let God revive her.

"Yes." Joanna answered.

Death already knew where this was going. Every movement, every choice. The path was clear and it was one that he didn’t like the ending of. Aedmiel truly was a predictable creature. She was far too arrogant for her own good.

"Do you know who he is?"

Death almost sighed in boredom as Aedmiel stepped up behind Joanna, wrapping her arms around the Reaper and pulling her against her chest.

"He is the one that stole Heaven from me. The one that made me into something else, a monster."

Aedmiel drew on the binding on him, forcing him to his feet much to his annoyance. What happened to the days when he was feared? When the very mention of him sent creatures fleeing? Those times had been so much simpler.

"That's right, girl. He destroyed your chance at an afterlife. Took it from you and buried it under a thousand lies. We're going to avenge you today. A little birdie has something special for us."

On cue, a large crow swooped in from the ceiling, feathers singing on the edges already. Death could see his daughter burning, she wasn't meant to leave Earth and the false form wouldn’t sustain her for long. But she would be there long enough.

Several of the gathered whispered among each other as Gaea landed on Aedmiel's shoulder, nudging her cheek affectionately. As if they were friends and Gaea didn’t at all have her own plans for this.

"Daughter." He said, unsurprised, before he was silenced by an irritated Aedmiel.

She would never completely hold control over him, no matter what she believed. This binding had its limits and he would exploit them to the very end.

"Gaea can't take her human visage here. It would destroy her. But, Mother Earth has come at my request."

Aedmiel will destroy you, Gaea. When this all ends, she will rip you apart. I would've thought you know better.’ It was a waste to try to reason with her, yet he needed to try. Everything was happening just as he had expected. The path held strong and true and there were no new intersections coming into light.

Says the mother of mercy.’ The crow caught his gaze from across the space, hatred burning deep in the depths of her eyes.

"When he broke his own rules and resurrected Sam Winchester, Gaea stole something from him. Mother Earth robbed her own father for us, took a prize like no other."

‘I'm Death. I don't need to be merciful. I can choose so. But you're the mother of Earth, Gaea. You are supposed to be a mother. You are supposed to love and create, not plot the death of those that live upon it. You're the key to Aedmiel wiping everything from existence.’

I can handle an arrogant bitch nephalem. I'm God's daughter.’

Death smiled sadly at his daughter, shaking his head. It was times like this that he missed Gabriel. Gabriel had never been arrogant just because he was powerful. The pride that the youngest archangel held had always been earned through work and effort, creating a legacy of his own.

"Girl." Death watched as Aedmiel handed his scythe to Joanna. The only weapon in existence that could kill anything and everything. The most dangerous weapon. "I want you to take this scythe and I want you to kill the man that destroyed you, that took everything from you. Can you do that for me?"

"Anything, aziazor." Joanna responded as she timidly wrapped her fingers around his scythe, staring at the blade in wonder for several long moments. For a Reaper, his blade would work. There was no needed magic, no spells required. A Reaper and a Reaper alone held the power within them to wield it. Slowly, Joanna moved the hilt between her fingers, the sleek metal and hilt shifting to accommodate its new owner.

"Now, girl."

Death watched patiently as Joanna stepped across the space.

"Look me in the eyes, Joanna. Remember what I told you about life and death."

Her gaze lifted until she was looking at him. She didn’t see him, though. Not really. Her eyes were glazed and the fiery smoke of hatred burned in their depths.

"You took my afterlife from me."

"It was your choice, Joanna Beth Harvelle. I gave you a choice. I don’t take. That creature," Try as he did, the name couldn’t pass his lips. Aedmiel was far too set on her identity remaining a secret. “It takes, it takes what it wants and it never stops. I’m sorry, Joanna. I am. I’m truly, sincerely sorry for what she has taken from you.” The words fell on deaf ears, fury burning in the depths of her eyes the longer her spoke.

It was what he needed.

"You never told me!" Joanna screamed, hollow and broken.

Joanna swung his blade.

In the final moment, Death banished his ring from his body, the fury of the Reaper distracting from his final act.

The moment the blade struck his side, Death died.

.-~*~-.

Three days after Sam returned to the bunker Michael and Lucifer finally came back. It wasn't with good news. "You aren't taking Cas!" Four different voices shouted at Michael in the same instant as the eldest Archangel crossed his arms.

"Castiel must be put on trial for his actions and two demons and humans will not change this."

"Fuck you, Michael. He helped Lucifer and Gabriel save your ass!"

"He was simply present for the actions." Michael dismissed and Sam cast Lucifer a pleading look which she ignored.

"He was bait." Meg spoke up, words heavy with irritation. "He helped save you."

"He killed my sister in cold blood." Michael responded coldly. "There were other options to execution. He made that choice. Now he will suffer the consequences."

"Excuse me." Crowley said, coming in the room. "Sorry, Birdie but you can't put Cassie on trial."

Michael shot a bewildered look in Crowley's direction. "He is an angel."

"Was an angel." Crowley gripped Cas' arm and slashed a blade across his forearm before anyone could stop him causing him to shout and jerk away. Dean grabbed Crowley and ripped him back as Ruby stepped between them.

Sam understood his point, though his way of proving it was overkill.

"I should-"

"Shut up, Dean." Sam warned in the middle of his brother's threat as Crowley pulled out of his hold.

"Angels, fallen or not, can't be harmed by human weapons. If he were an angel that wouldn't have been effective. You can't put him on trial for an angel's actions. You can't put him on trial for a fallen angel's actions. And even if you were to do so, he is an active protector Guardian Angel. You can't sentence him to death without also sentencing Dean Winchester to death."

"I-what?" Dean asked and Sam rolled his eyes. He clearly hadn't been listening to Metatron monologue. Then again, he didn't have the same understanding of Guardian Angels as Sam did.

"Gabriel told me how much Archangels care about their True Vessels." Crowley said casually and Michael burned holes into the ex-demon from across the room before flipping his gaze to Cas.

Cas was silent, holding the wound on his arm while Ruby stood defensively in front of Castiel, blocking Crowley from him.

"A Guardian Angel connection can be broken."

"Not by your Father's rules, Birdie. You can, of course, defy your Father and stoop to your mate's level and there would be nothing to stop you. We all know who and what you are after all."

Sam saw a flash of wings as Lucifer visibly bristled them behind her. "Michael, you can't possibly-"

"Go back to Heaven, Lucifer. I need to speak to them in private."

"No." Lucifer spun and threw herself forward into Michael, the both of them disappearing in an angry flutter of wings as they collided.

Sam shared a concerned look with his brother. "Shit." Dean said then they were both crossing the bunker, him to his laptop and Dean to the dungeon no doubt.

.-~*~-.

"You can't possibly be serious, Michael!" Lucifer cried angrily as she chased him right into Heaven's Garden, slamming into him with angry force that made the trees shake violently. "Castiel is a stain on all that He stands for and you're going to let that Fallen piece of shit change your mind!"

Michael caught her next blow, grabbing her by her wrists and pinning her against a tree as she glowered at him violently.

"Don't forget who you are, Lucifer." Michael ground out warningly and she bared her teeth, tails flicking behind her with the irritation as her wings flared behind her in a warning.

"I haven't. I am who Mother made me to be. I am the daughter of Darkness! Maybe you've forgotten but I know exactly what I am! Have you forgotten what the young ones are? Who they are? They look up to you -idolize you- and you did, what? Betray the one thing they asked of you! The first thing they asked of me in thousands of years! He murdered your sister!"

Michael wanted nothing more than to crush Castiel beneath his boot. The angel had crossed a line that no one had dared since Aedmiel.

Michael could absolutely bring himself to kill a single human. It would be far from the first time. The hard part was the motivation behind the kill.

Michael was concerned about going too far with Lucifer too fast. In the Cage, it had been simple, Lucifer wasn't a threat, but here on Earth, in Heaven, he remembered who she was. She had once turned thousands of their brothers and sisters against each other, and no matter his grief, he held his principles.

Lucifer was right and so was Crowley. Castiel was human, but he was Fallen as an angel. No matter the complex technicalities revolving around it. If he were to return order to Heaven it had to begin with Castiel's punishment.

A difficult decision. If he was tried as a Fallen, Dean Winchester would have to be executed before Castiel could be properly executed. No matter the situation, Michael was biased in wanting his True Vessel to survive.

"Michael, please." He still had her wrists caught and she hadn't moved to fight him off.

The answer was simple.

"He will withstand a trial as a Fallen, his Grace will be held as assurance that he won't attempt to flee. Due to the human status, my True Vessel will stand as one of three judges."

Lucifer gave him a hopeful look.

"Three?"

"I'm sorry, Lucifer but I can't let you stand as a judge. Your opinion is far from unbiased."

"Oh, and Dean's will be so much less?"

"The third judge will be neutral to the subject. Three is the minimum allowed judges in a fair trial. I will stand in place of Gabriel due to your brother's demise."

"Who can you possibly find that will be neutral on Castiel's death?"

"The Prophet, Kevin Tran." Lucifer's wings twitched at the mention and she narrowed her eyes.

"Another friend of the brothers. Have you lost your fucking mind, Michael?" Lucifer demanded angrily and he sighed in exasperation. Did those two know everyone on the planet?

"Do you have any helpful suggestions." Lucifer seemed to consider it for a moment, truly consider it, tails flicking back and forth behind her.

"Hel." He finally said and Michael frowned.

"Gabriel's daughter? I feel like she would be biased in this subject."

"Hel shares Gabriel's views of just punishment, it's why Gabriel is being tortured by his sons and me for the next hundred years. You want neutral judgment? Hel is the answer."

Michael, he's trying to manipulate you.’

Adam. The boy had been asleep but it had been inevitable that sooner or later he would wake. Now was a horrible time.

I can't say I'm a fan of Castiel but I know your views of justice. Lucifer is going to use you.’

Michael carefully sent Adam's consciousness into silence again.

He needed to figure something out. Adam was a problem. A severe problem and based off the narrowed eyes Lucifer was giving him it wasn't going to end well.

"Tell the little bastard to fuck off, Michael. This is between the big boys." Michael raised an eyebrow at her and she blinked. "You know what I mean, Mikey. Tell him to fuck off."

"Are you jealous, Lucifer?"

She narrowed her eyes, even when her wings were fluffing out behind her giving it away she told him, "I'm not jealous."

"You do understand that I don't reciprocate his feelings, right?"

Lucifer huffed a breath out. "I never said that."

Michael stepped forward, leaning down and kissing her. "You're mine, Lucifer. I promise."

Lucifer shifted on her feet, flexing her wings and taking a step back, eyes narrowed. "But are you mine, Michael?"

Michael blinked, confused. "Why would you think otherwise?"

Lucifer sighed, shaking her head. "Sometimes I worry that your Father dropped your egg when he created you. I understand the lack of trust, I am who I am, but how can you be so damned stupid?"

Michael narrowed his eyes at her as she flexed her wings. "I love you, Lucifer."

"Love me? Or the memory of me? If you love me, you'll send Adam Milligan's soul to Heaven."

Michael froze, staring at Lucifer. He couldn't do that to Adam. Not after all the years he spent in the Cage protecting the boy…

Adam Milligan deserved Heaven after everything, so why was Michael holding on?

Lucifer crossed her arms across her chest, waiting patiently.

Lucifer stood for an eternal love. The first and last thing he would ever see. Lucifer was his. She belonged to him, even after everything. No matter the things he had done to her, Lucifer had come back to him. In the end, she had saved him.

She had never changed. Maybe she'd spited God, but in the long run she had never once been loyal to Him.

Adam represented something else. An order given by his Father. Protect and-

His silence went too long as fury crossed the female archangel’s entire demeanor. In a moment, Lucifer lashed out, launching herself forward at full force and slamming into him.

"I will kill him!" Lucifer screeched as she threw him out of Heaven, sending him spiraling towards Earth.

.-~*~-.

Notifications went off on his laptop announcing a massive tsunami hitting Japan.

"I told you!" Dean accused as he finished painting the angel banishing sigils on the walls in preparation for when one or both of the Archangels showed back up.

"We can play the 'told you so' game later, Deano." Meg complained from the bottom of the stairwell where she was carefully drawing out an angel trap.

"Rosier's right." Ruby added as she lounged out at the table, petting Dog's fur absently.

Meg huffed a breath of annoyance from her spot, rising to her feet and turning on the other girl.

"It's Meg."

"Right, Rosie." Ruby responded, returning her focus to the dog and kissing its nose.

"I don't think they're going to kill each other." Sam said as he set the laptop on the table.

"He's right." Crowley agreed as him and Cas came in from the hallway. "In theory." He added as an afterthought, both of them watched as Cas joined Ruby's side, leaning into her and reaching out to let a Dog sniff his hand.

Sam really needed to ask about that. But later, when they weren't dealing with pissed off Archangels.

"Lucifer never wanted to kill Michael and despite appearances I doubt she'll do it now."

"Well that's great enthusiasm, Crowley but twenty thousand dead civilians is seriously breaking the value human lives rule." Dean responded harshly as he snagged the laptop from in front of Sam and read over the report.

"Lucifer doesn't lie." Ruby spoke up, transferring Dog to Cas' arms and turning in her seat. "She promised Sam she'd respect his wishes. I'd say them fighting in an ocean is the safest way to respect those wishes."

"People are still dying."

"People are always dying. Hundred thousand is a whole lot better than seven billion." Ruby dismissed.

"Coming from the harbinger of The Apocalypse." Dean retorted snidely and Ruby laughed sharply, shaking her head.

"I never once forced Sammy into any of that shit, I may have manipulated the hell outta him but he chose his own path. Besides, bygones and all that. Sam doesn't even remember it."

"That doesn't make it better." Dean snapped, and for a moment there was a flash, dark hair, the taste of death, power

Ruby.

Sam turned his full focus on the demon. He didn't remember her. Most everything from the pre-Apocalypse was empty space that hurt to think on. He knew who she was. Dean had explained what he knew. But he didn't know her. Except for the demon he'd interacted with sparsely since Lucifer showed up, he didn't know her.

For a moment, he wondered what would have happened if Gabriel hadn't shown up and she'd been able to talk to him more. What had her intentions been?

"Cas, control your fucking demon before I change my mind and kill her." Dean snapped angrily startling him out of his thoughts. Cas set Dog to the side and the Jack Russell scurried over to Meg, hiding behind her and poking his head out from behind her leg.

"Ruby, will you please stop picking fights with Dean?" Cas asked, resting a hand on her shoulder. She twisted her head, kissing him on the nose before rising to her feet and stretching. "When he stops bringing up the past. I was a chess piece in Luci's game, we all were. Now I'm standing with you against her despite the monumental stupidity of the idea. Oh wait." She cast her gaze in Meg's direction. "I followed Rosie on the path to Heaven."

"Don't pretend you aren't enjoying it."

"Up for debate." She answered before curling her fingers around Cas' wrist and pulling him to his feet. "You can handle them. We're going to shower."

"The hell-"

"Dean." Cas gave his brother a warning look and Dean spread his arms to the side.

"Whatever. Just keep it down. I don't need to know what the three of you get up to in your free time."

"Of course. You coming, Meg?" Ruby asked innocently, winking at Dean as she drug a very unprotesting Cas towards the hallway. Meg trailed close behind, pouncing on Ruby's back and wrapping her arms and legs around the other girl.

Sam stared after them.

He knew about Cas and Ruby. He'd just assumed the Meg had gotten the short end of the stick.

"That's…"

"Fucking creepy?" His brother supplied and he nodded slowly.

"When did that start?"

"After Lucifer powered Meg down for trying to kill you. I walked in on them." Crowley explained, shrugging and taking a seat. "You know this warding won't hold forever." The ex-demon added as Dog nudged his leg, the man frowned and narrowed his eyes at the creature before leaning over and picking him up.

"Gabriel left it as a safety measure."

"Gabriel wanted Cassie's head on a platter as much as the others. He murdered their sister." Neither brother dared to breach the subject of the Archangels familial relations. Not with Michael and Lucifer…

Yes, it still made them uncomfortable. "I managed to delay the inevitable."

"How did you know all of that?" Dean asked, turning his attention to Crowley.

"I was a demon, darling. Bargaining is a skill that comes with the territory. Humanity can't simply wash that away." Sam never would've thought twice on Crowley calling Dean 'darling'. The ex-demon was a fan of flirtation and innuendo.

It was Dean's reaction that caused him to pause. Dean who had ignored Crowley's remarks for years, at least as far as Sam could remember, flinched at the remark, shooting what could've been a nonchalant look at him.

"But technicalities are only going to protect him for so long. Once they're done with their little lover’s quarrel they'll be trying to find their way back in, and…" Crowley trailed off when he caught Sam's expression. "I think I heard Castiel shout." He excused himself, rushing from the room, Dean turned, no doubt to yell at him to get his ass back, but he stopped cold when he caught Sam's gaze.

"Shit."

"You and Crowley." Sam stated blandly, trying to comprehend this information. Crowley. Crowley. The once King of Hell. The man who was absolutely terrified of his brother.

"It isn't-"

"Don't. Dean, what the fuck?" He demanded. Despite everything, he was actually concerned for Crowley, and if that wasn't wrong he wasn't sure what was. But he knew his brother and he'd seen the interactions between them.

Crowley was scared of Dean. Terrified of his brother. Sam was almost certain his brother had assaulted the ex-demon more than once since Death brought him back.

"It isn't like that. I swear." His brother defended indignantly. "It's stress relief."

"He's fucking terrified of you, Dean!"

"There aren't any roses or flowers, Sam. There's no damned love story. Just fucking."

"That doesn't make it better, Dean. Do you have any clue what an abusive relationship is?"

Dean clenched his teeth, "It isn't a relationship."

"Oh, really? Not a relationship? In that case, you're still fucking someone who's horrified of you. You aren't that stupid, Dean. Tell me you aren't that stupid."

His brother opened then shut his mouth as a look of realization crossed his expression.

"Shit." His brother whispered. "That isn't… I mean it's Crowley. It doesn't-"

They were thrown back and cut off as a massive wave of energy ripped across The Bunker.

.-~*~-.

Lucifer was pissed. No. She was beyond that. She wanted to dissect the little ant, less than. Adam was scum. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Adam should've been destroyed. Needed to be destroyed.

And Michael.

Lucifer's Grace burned with cold again for the first time in years as she launched herself at him.

"You bastard!" She cried. Because she'd seen it. A moment of true affection towards that scum that never should've been there.

Michael was hers. They hit the Pacific Ocean, Lucifer tucking her wings to increase their collision speed.

"Lucifer, please!" Michael begged as he fought the water, but Lucifer didn't care. All she cared about was getting her hands on that soul. Ripping Adam to shreds.

Michael tore upwards as he spread glorious black wings behind him, catching the air and fleeing.

"You are mine, Michael! That scum can rot in The Empty for all I care!"

Michael flared a set of wings, instantly turning on her and throwing himself into her.

"You swore you were done, Lucifer!" Michael shouted as they plummeted towards the Earth, Lucifer flapped her wings hard, pushing back against her lover.

"Elasa biab ozien! Ge totza!"

"No, Lucifer." Michael ground out, pushing back. "This isn't about that. You're turning. You feel that?" Lucifer recoiled as Michael's Grace wrapped around hers, a burning heat on her icy cold.

It wasn't supposed to be cold. She'd warmed. It had taken years, but she'd warmed. Now she was cold again and Michael's Grace was scalding.

"I know you're angry with me. You have every right to be. But please, Lucifer. Focus."

"You love him." Lucifer flared her wings threateningly, "Get rid of him." Her anger was raw but with Michael's Grace wrapped around her she was able to pull herself together. To think.

"No."

Lucifer tore out of his hold. "Why, Michael?"

"I don't know." Michael answered, bowing his head and causing Lucifer to flex her wings.

"Tell me why. I want to hear you say it." Lucifer hissed out, tails twitching behind her. "Michael."

"I love you, Lucifer."

"But you love him."

Michael didn't answer her. That was enough of an answer.

She should've known it would change on Earth. That the things they fixed couldn’t remain. Michael had been warped by the Cage. Her prison had warped him. There was irony in that. The thing that God had created to torture her, to spite her. Instead of harming her, it had changed and warped His first son. In the end, He had gotten what he wanted. He had destroyed the relationship between Michael and Lucifer.

"I'm done. I'm going to get the revenge for your sister because it's right. If you try to stop me, I will turn Heaven against you." Then Lucifer took flight, heading for the place where she had been strangely safe.

Lucifer, please.’ Michael's voice carried after her but he didn't dare follow.

That dark part of her wished he had.

Chapter Text

Bela Talbot stood in a field of wheat, the sky above her glowing a dull golden hue in the sunrise while the other reapers around her gathered the souls of the recently dead.

Death was dead.

It was an outcome she hadn’t planned for, the last thing she had expected, yet Death was dead.

Well, for the most part. Bela bit the inside of her cheek as she looked down at the palm of her hand where the silver ring sat, engraved on the inside with three words. The pale horse.

Of all of the reapers, she was the one he had sent the ring to. If it was her then the rumors were true, Jo had been brainwashed by his child. Gabriel’s daughter.

“You should take care of that, Ms. Talbot.” Samael acknowledged her as he joined her side, large, pale, wings jostling a bit with the movement.

“Five years.” Bela muttered. “It doesn’t make sense that he gave it to me.”

“You know it does.” He smiled over at her, small, sympathetic. “You have to do what none of us are bold enough to.”

“Am I really?” Sighing, she turned the ring in her fingers, staring at the words again. The pale horse. Death. Death’s ring.

“I would like to think so.”

“Do you remember it?”

“Your death?”

“Yes.”

“I do.” Samael responded, one of his wings coming over her shoulder, soft feathers brushing against her cheek. “I remember the hellhounds ripping apart your human body, and I remember killing them all. I did it all because when I saw you, I didn’t see a damned soul. I saw a scared woman, a woman that buried herself in whatever she could before she inevitably had her soul ripped out.”

“Have you ever considered you saw wrong?”

“Not for a second.” He laughed softly, “Oh, Bela. You think so lowly of yourself. If you were truly damned, you never could have become a reaper. He simply would never have allowed it. One day soon, you’ll redeem yourself. It’s all a matter of when and where.”

“You know more than you let on, don’t you?”

“A lot more. I was the first, you know? The first reaper. After Michael killed me, Death took me rather than let me fall into Oblivion.”

“I didn’t know that.” Bela responded, frowning. “You should take the ring.”

“No.” Samael was shaking his head when she turned her head to look at his face, the light from the sunrise lighting up his golden skin nicely. “I can’t do what needs to be done with it.”

“What needs to be done?”

“You received the ring for a reason, Bela Talbot. You just need to think about why that would be.”

“Do you have to be so… indirect?”

“I do.” He responded and she huffed a breath of annoyance. “Just give it time. Sooner or later, you’ll figure it out.”

“If I don’t?”

“That’s a problem for then.”

“I hate you.”

“And I love you.”

Bela rolled her eyes and gave into temptation, slipping the ring onto her finger and blinking. Nothing changed and she frowned, staring down at it. “It isn’t mine.”

“No.”

“Then who does it belong to?”

There was no answer and when she looked to the right, Samael was gone. “Fat lot of good you are.” Bela scowled, clenching her fist and staring at the silver around her finger. Death’s ring. Death had given her his ring in his last second and she didn’t have a damned clue what to do with it.

.-~*~-.

Sam and Dean shared equally concerned looks as they took their guns from where they were stashed.

Knock, knock.

Both brothers looked at the door, Sam making the first move to cross the space as a small yapping creature came tearing out of the back bark, bark, bark.

“Dog, don’t.” Sam told the creature as he ascended up the stairs, the yappy creature tearing past him and jumping at the door and pawing at it. bark bark bark.

“Sam-”

“If this thing was coming after us it wouldn’t have knocked.” In theory, though there was this strange brush of something that he couldn’t quite place.

“That-”

Sam was already moving the dog to the side with his foot, opening it and Michael was forcing his way in, slamming the door behind him and shoving past Sam.

Dean shot the Archangel, because of course he did. “Was that necessary?” Michael asked with a scowl as Sam drew on his silver blade.

Bark. Michael paused to kneel down, lifting the small dog into his arms and sighing.

“What are you doing here?” Dean demanded as Michael cast a distasteful look over his shoulder at Sam.

“We have a problem.”

“You mean besides the one where you want Cas dead?” Dean asked from the floor as the Archangel began to descend down the stairs without any care, as though he belonged there.

“I want justice for my sister, Dean. I’m sure you can sympathize.”

“Cas wasn’t in his right mind.” Dean defended angrily. “He was hopped up on souls and Raphael was on a damned rampage to bust the two of you from the damned box Sam threw himself into because you couldn’t get past your vendetta!”

“Lucifer-” Michael took a breath as Sam followed him down the steps, watching the Archangel shift uneasily as he paced. “At the time, Lucifer had no hope of redemption. Nothing could have helped her, except killing me. Many times over. That said, Castiel had no right to kill Raphael. Raphael was my sister and all of Heaven is in agreement that he deserves punishment for his actions.”

“He’s suffered enough.” Dean bit back angrily. “Do you have any idea what Naomi did to him!”

“What are you doing here?” Sam interjected in hopes of stopping his brother from blowing up. They needed to find out what the hell had happened between the two Archangels and fighting was not going to solve it.

“Right.” Michael shifted and sighed. “Lucifer is angry with me again.”

“I told-”

“I wanted to give a proper trial to Castiel,” Michael interrupted Dean, glowering as he began to pace, “A fair one where a single judge would make the final decision. When Adam voiced his opinion, Lucifer and I got into an argument.”

“Twenty thousand people are dead, Michael.” Sam cut in coolly.

“Considering her blind rage, I would say that the casualties are pretty low. That battle could have easily been on land.” Michael responded unperturbed and Dean shot him a look that screamed ‘I told you so.’

“Michael-”

“The last time Lucifer and I were waged to fight the fate of the entire planet rested in the balance.” Michael interrupted Sam with a glare. “I understand you aren’t happy with me but I didn’t start this argument. This argument began because of Adam.” Dean stiffened slightly, and Sam shifted uncomfortably. “Your brother has caused some serious conflict between us.”

“How about you change meatsuits?” Crowley suggested from the doorway, arms crossed over his chest and a smirk resting on his features.

“It isn’t that simple.” Michael responded dismissively.

“Really?”

“Well, as your companions would point out,” Michael sneered, glowering at the demon. “As long as I’m in Adam, I am not burning through a Vessel that will eventually wear into nothing. Adam is more than capable of holding me for as long as he wants, and considering… his feelings-“

“Their argument has nothing to do with Adam’s involvement. Well, it did, but it didn’t.”

“I have no qualms about smiting you, you little-“

“Smite me, if you will. But you need their help reigning in Heaven before she brings the armies of Heaven down on us. I know you aren’t ignorant, Michael. So why don’t you explain to the brothers why the devil’s actually angry.”

“It isn’t what she assumed, but she also didn’t give me time to defend myself.” Michael answered, shifting uncomfortably and looking away. “Adam did something stupid, he’s acting much like… well like a lover. Which he isn’t. I hold no romantic interest in him, but I do care. I care enough about him- and I am selfish enough- that I have no intentions on sending his soul to Heaven, not unless he asks me to.”

“Which he won’t.”

“No, Sam. He won’t. Lucifer, though… She is selfish, and… possessive. The moment I took his side, she jumped to the worst case scenario.”

“Lucifer thinks you’re in love with Adam.” Sam spoke up and his brother made an annoyed sound.

“Yes. I don’t, though. Not in the way he’s assuming- and not in the way Adam wishes. But I do care for him, I care deeply for him, and I would never allow harm to come to him. That fact is the only reason Lucifer never was able to tear him apart in the Cage. So, Sam.” Michael looked at him, then moved his focus, “Dean.” Swallowing, “I know you don’t trust me- and we are far from being on the same side-“

“You still want to kill-“

“I want to put him on trial.” Michael responded sharply, lights flickering and grace glowing in his eyes. “What you seem to keep forgetting, Dean is that if I am allowed to do as I wish, Castiel will have a fair trial. Angels have never been above law, order, and justice.”

“Even when you hid your offspring in Hell rather than executing them?” Crowley spoke again and Michael stiffened slightly.

“They were infants.”

“And is Castiel not? Among a thousand, thousand angels, is Castiel not more than a fledgling?”

“Castiel has far surpassed the intelligence of most angels in Heaven. I am not having this argument because you’re attempting to use technicalities on laws you don’t fully grasp.”

“What happens if we refuse?” Dean glared at him but Sam ignored it, holding Michael’s gaze when the archangel looked back at him.

“Lucifer has all of Heaven on her side. Castiel didn’t just killed Raphael, he killed all of Raphael’s followers as well. Say as you wish about Heaven, Heaven, the angels, there was a time when we were the only things in existence. Castiel slaughtered them. Brothers, sisters, lovers. Thousands of them.”

“What is a fair trial for him? By your definition.”

“Sam- you can’t be serious, can you?”

“I am. Look, Dean- there’s things you don’t understand… I can’t remember… a lot, but I vividly remember the things Lucifer has shown me.” A burning repeat in the back of his mind, crystal clear images that backed up every word that Michael was saying. Things that he didn’t actually remember, things that came from Lucifer, but clearer than any of his own. “Crowley.”

“As much as I hate to say it… I think your brother’s right.”

“This is bullshit.”

“Michael.”

“He will withstand a trial as a Fallen. I’m doing what I can to make this fair to all parties. Due to the human status, my True Vessel will stand as one of three judges,”

Michael ignored the confused, “I’ll do what?”

“I will stand in Gabriel’s place due to his demise, and finally… Hel of Helheim will stand as the third judge.”

“Gabriel’s daughter? You’re joking, right?”

“No.” Michael responded, shifting slightly and clenching his jaw. “Gabriel’s soul is currently in Helheim, where he is being torn apart. Over and over again, he is being ripped apart- and she is allowing it, because at the end of it all, he will never become a demon. At the end, he will be healed. Hel is a practical judge for this trial, because she shares no sentiment for either party, and she is the daughter of justice.”

“What happens if he loses?”

“You really do not want the answer to that question, Dean.” Michael was looking at Dean, his expression clouded with sympathy.

“No, it sounds a whole hell of a lot like my life and his are tied together. What happens to me, damn it!”

“Either you would be executed, or the connection between guardian angel and their charge would be destroyed. Technically speaking, both are executable offenses but given the circumstances-“ With a scream, Michael disappeared in a flash of bright white light and Sam whipped his head around to see Crowley with his hand on a mark on the wall, blood dripping down his fingers and onto the floor.

“We need to get out of here before he comes back.” Crowley warned them as he bolted back towards the back of the Bunker.

“What the hell-“

“He’s right. Go get the garage door open, we’ll meet you out there!” Dean shouted as he began making his way down the hall. Sam stared after him, trying to comprehend what the hell had just happened. Where the hell had Michael gone?

Move. Sam jerked slightly and scooped the Jack Russel off the floor as he moved in the general direction of the garage.

.-~*~-.

Dean had never seen his Baby so full of people, and he wasn’t really happy about it. Crowley, Meg, Ruby, and Castiel were crammed into the back of the car with the damned Dog wedged between him and his brother, whining softly and wiggling his butt as Dean peeled out of the garage.

“What was that?” Sam demanded, “How did he-“

Swallowing, Dean shut him off before he could remind him yet again just how much his memories were failing. “An angel banishing sigil- it, it makes angels go away.”

“It rips us apart atom by atom and reassembles us somewhere else on the planet.” Cas responded, head lolling to the side.

“Is he drunk?”

“No, he’s high. What’s going on?”

“Bloody hell, Meg. Get him up and let’s go!” Crowley hissed from behind him.

“That.” Dean answered articulately, eying the stoned angel with a sense of dread, a memory from years ago from when Zachariah shoved him into the future clouding his mind. “He’ll come back- and he’s going to be pissed.”

“Maybe we should just let him have me… I did kill those angels and-“

“We’re not handing you over to Michael!” Dean responded angrily, “That isn’t even- what did you take?”

“It was… something. For the pain.”

“Morphine.” Meg spoke up at the same time Ruby said, “Oxycontin.”

For demons, both of them were complete crap at lying. “What’s he on!”

“I don’t know.” Meg admitted, shifting uncomfortably.

“I found it in one of the old bedrooms.” Ruby added. “Look, we can argue about this-“

“You can’t keep your hands out, can you?”

“Oh, don’t start on that bullshit, Dean! You know damn well it was as much his fault as it was mine!”

Every inch of his skin was itching to fight with her, to kill her. Of all the demons on the damned planet, Ruby took the top of his hate list- and Sam didn’t even remember her.

Whatever it was that was going on with Sam’s soul? It was bad. It was like something in the air around him, in his demeanor, his words… there was something wrong. Something very wrong. No one had really explained it, not clearly, but his brother was… falling apart. They had to focus on the current problem, though. The angel problem. After that was dealt with… they could handle the rest of it.

“No more drugging him.” Dean huffed out, shoving the cassette into the player and glaring out the window as he pressed down on the accelerator. “Got it?”

“He’s a big boy, Dean. But I won’t give him any more drugs. Pinky promise.” Ruby responded with a broad grin. Yeah, that was soothing. There wasn’t a single person on the damned planet he trusted less than he trusted her. But what could he do? There were bigger problems and he couldn’t really afford to have Ruby crawl back to Lucifer. She knew too much. Cas clearly would have a problem if he killed her. Rock and a hard place.

“Crowley?”

“I’ll watch them.”

“Good.” He responded as a hex bag hit him in the side of the head.

“Should hide you from Heaven. At least for a while. Sooner or later Lucifer’s gonna figure it out though.”

“So we need to get somewhere and ward it to the brim.”

“The Bunker was one of the most warded places on the planet.” Meg reminded him, “Ruby has us branded, what we need to do is go somewhere that they would never expect.”

“Which would be where exactly?”

“Heaven.” Cas responded, blinking several times.

“You don’t get to input until you’re sober.” Dean huffed, shaking his head.

“Actually, he’s right.” Ruby responded, laughing sharply.

“That’s brilliant.” Crowley smiled widely.

“What-“

“Gabriel reopened Heaven.” Ruby cut him off, looking at Crowley. “You were King.”

“I was. Yes, I know the spell. Are you ready?”

“What the-“ Thunder cracked and Ruby stiffened.

“Lucifer.”

Volo intrare caelum…” Crowley began to recite off what Dean was certain was Latin though he wasn’t anywhere near fluent enough to begin trying to translate it. The words went on and on and the thunder grew louder, lighting striking very close by and they were too damned far away from town. There was nothing he could do but keep driving and hope whatever the hell they were saying, Ruby repeating every word Crowley spoke word for word, was enough to save them.

“He’s getting closer!” Sam shouted suddenly, jerking slightly and grabbing Dog from the center as another bolt of lightning nearly struck the front of the car.

Then the oxygen disappeared for a fraction of a second, his vision whiting out, and everything freezing around him, ears ringing… they were floating, soaring, and then he could see again and- woah.

They were in The Roadhouse.

Chapter Text

“Well ain’t you a sight for sore eyes!” Ellen wrapped Dean up in a tight hug and he pulled her tight against his chest, taking a deep breath and looking around the main room of The Roadhouse. Two unfamiliar faces, Ash, and Sarah of all people were the only ones that had been there when they appeared. Sam was hugging Sarah- thank whatever God that might be listening that he recognized her, though it seemed like he didn’t know why she was dead. Meg and Ruby were in a booth with Cas dozing off on the table, and Crowley was at the bar with Ash. Baby had been moved to the back of the room for the time being, though Dean really hoped the demons had some clever plan to get her the hell out of Heaven.

“Ellen.” Dean carefully pried her off, meeting her gaze for the first time, “Where…”

“Jo’s- ah, she’s a Reaper.”

“What- how?”

“Death gave her a choice. Bring me back or send me to Heaven. She chose to let me go. Guess she learned her lesson from you two. Wish you’d shared the decision.”

“Ellen-”

“No, don’t apologize. Girl’s doin’ what she wanted, whether I like it or not. Sooner or later she’ll come back, until then…”

“Until then you’ve got Heaven.”

“How are we talking to you? Shouldn’t you be like… light? Souls?”

“You shouldn’t, but you’re Vessels. Vessels get all the goodies. Including altered perception in Heaven. Think of your blood as this magical Heavenly vision enhancer. Probably works in Hell too.” Ash spoke up from the bar, “Same goes for the angel, not sure why the ex-King can. My guess is the Vessel, whatever’s been done to it.”

“I’m not an angel anymore.” Cas muttered from the table.

“Fallen Angel is still an angel. Grace or not.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Of course not, you’re stoned out of your mind. What’d you give him?”

“I didn’t give him anything!” Dean defended as Ash eyed him from across the bar. “Ask the demon cunt.”

“He’s a big boy, Dean. He can make his own damned choices. Stop treating this like it’s anything like what I did to your damned brother. What I did then, I did for Lucifer, and newsflash? I’m not working with her anymore! I turned my back on her, nearly got killed for it, might I add. If Cas wants to explore his humanity to the fullest extents who am I to stop him?”

Dean didn’t respond, swallowing heavily and turning his head away. That image was on repeat in his mind, the damned orgy guru that he became in that other world. Human. This was different though… assuming Lucifer didn’t flip out and kill everyone again.

“Ash?”

“What’s up?”

“Angels… we’re running from angels. Can you keep an eye out?”

“They’re on Earth right now.” Ash responded with a grin, tugging that familiar laptop out from under the bar along with two other separate ones that he placed to face the audience, one had a complex map on it that looked like something from a futuristic movie and the other had a long stream of text. “For now, you’re safe, but sooner or later Lucifer’s going to piece it together. Gabriel sent him to me when they opened the Gates. If you aren’t on Earth, no one can be in Hell, so you’ve got to be here.”

“We need an out. Some way to keep Cas from-”

“I know what you’re doin’, Dean.” Ash interrupted him. “Honestly? I think you should let him go through the trial.”

“What? Have you lost your mind!”

“He’s right.” Ellen spoke up, stepping back a bit and looking over at Cas. “Ash has been translating… it doesn’t sound like he’s in the wrong, even the angels want him tried on principle. Michael and Lucifer might want him dead, but it doesn’t sound like the angels do. They just want him to answer for his crimes. This ain’t like Earth, boys. It’s Heaven, and you can’t just fake his death like you two have done countless times.”

“You want us to, what? Send him to his death? Ellen, do you-”

Listen, Dean. Are you listening to a single word we’re saying?” Dean stared at Ellen, swallowing heavily and crossing his arms over his chest. “The angels don’t want him dead, they want him punished.”

“There are laws in place, Dean. By all angelic laws, Castiel cannot be executed.” Crowley added unhelpfully. “Michael isn’t going to break those rules, I can promise you that.”

“I should go.” Cas agreed with a sigh, “Running seems far from the logical approach.” A yawn slipped from him, heavy and tired. “After a nap.”

“I don’t think he’s in the best position to be making decisions.” Sam spoke up, “But, Dean. They might be right. We can’t run forever and right now… it might be better if we do it.”

“They’re going to kill him. You saw Lucifer.”

“Yeah, I also saw Michael. We can’t work against them right now, Dean. They need our help just as bad as we need theirs. Hell’s the big problem.”

“If Hell’s the big problem then they-”

“Dean.”

Dean stared at his brother, trying to figure out just how emotionally invested he actually was in this situation. How diluted were his memories? How well did Sam actually know Cas, remember him? It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Sam was hiding a good chunk of it, so how bad was it actually?

“We need to plan, because sooner or later they’re going to catch up.”

“So that’s it? We’re just handing him over? Sam, you’ve got to realize how stupid of an idea this is-”

“I’m thinking rationally.” His brother responded, “I know he’s our friend-”

“Yeah, but you don’t remember the brunt of it. Damn it, Sam!”

“What’s he talking about?” Ellen asked, frowning and looking between the brothers.

“My soul’s slowly rotting away.” Sam responded, holding his gaze. There was a sense of detachment he felt when he looked into all too familiar hazel eyes. It was like… it reminded him of what felt like a lifetime ago when Sam hadn’t had a soul. An emptiness, a broken connection that left him feeling sick to his stomach.

“When he closed the gates to Hell, his soul was shredded to bits. He’s losing his memories.” His response felt standoffish, and it probably was. It was terrifying in its own way, the idea that his brother was fading into nothing… a hollow shell of who he was. Even during his time without a soul he had remembered things. Like this? He was becoming less and less him and more and more… anyone else. This was his brother, but it wasn’t, and as the days went by he was beginning to wonder if he’d be better off without his soul. At least with his soul he’d been able to fake it. “He doesn’t remember closing Hell, most the stuff before it. There’s specific people… events.”

Dean caught the anxious shift in Sarah’s demeanor but other than that she didn’t mention the elephant that was her death. Damn it, Dean eyed Crowley’s back with renewed irritation. Crowley’s crap was going to screw them, sooner or later it was going to blow up in their faces. Even if things were… different now, there was a massive history there that was going to blow up on them, a history that Dean had every damned right to hate the ex-demon for.

“I thought the Apocalypse screwed you boys up, never thought I’d see you like this, though.” Ellen muttered almost absently, crossing her arms over her chest. “Alright, so here’s what we’ll do. We’re not handing the angel over unless we’ve got to. Ash, how long have we got?”

“Give it… sixty minutes. No- yes, sixty minutes.” Ash was tapping away at the keyboard, almost absently. “I could try to get some ghost help but- actually, I can give you eighty-six minutes. It’s not going to be long before Lucifer figures out where you are but…” Ash continued muttering to himself as he grabbed a bowl of something from under the counter, walking across the room and beginning to paint sigils into the door.

“What are you doing?” Dean asked him as he worked.

“Moving my Heaven. For the time being we are going to be Jimi Hendrix. I don’t think he’ll mind too much.”

“You know him?” For a moment there was a breath of relaxation as Ash grinned over at him from the door.

“I know all the big names. I’ll show you sometime.” Assuming that they died and didn’t suffer from it. A nice dream but thinking back on Gabriel… it wasn’t going to be simple. This was Lucifer and Michael teamed up against them and they didn’t have an advantage anymore. They’d let them in and it was biting them in the asses. “So you’ve got your time, what’s the plan?

“I have no God damned clue.” Dean admitted reluctantly. “We need to get out of here, go into hiding.”

“Hiding won’t last and you know it.” Dean glared over at Sam who was looking back with a familiar air of defiance.

“So, what would you do? Because back when you were all RoboSam you would’ve thrown us all under the bus to save your own skin.”

“Is that what you’re thinking? That I don’t have a soul anymore?” Sam stared at him like he was losing his mind, except he wasn’t because to an extent that was exactly what was happening. Dean wasn’t stupid and while he might have still had a soul, he was losing it. The long way around. “That isn’t what it is, Dean.”

It was an opening, an opening that he could’ve thrown every past mistake in the face of him for. And every instinct dove for the chance, the chance to be the asshole older brother who verbally attacked his brother. Time and time again. A couple months ago he knew he would’ve done it. Now? Now it was different.

He was tired.

“Then what’s the plan?”

“You don’t need one.” A female voice punctured through the air, amused and taunting. “Hiding in Heaven, boys? I’m impressed.”

Dean’s head whipped up to see Lucifer standing just inside the door.

“Sam-“

“It was me.” Castiel interrupted him and Dean twisted around in his seat to see Castiel staggering to his feet with both Meg and Ruby by his sides. “I’m not under the death penalty-“

“Yet.” Lucifer responded, rubbing his hands together. “Heaven’s mine, guys. You don’t get to boss me around up here,” Flicking his wrist, the dead in the room disappeared and Castiel was standing next to her.

“They don’t, but I do.” Michael’s voice came with a flutter of wings, tone sharp and unwavering as Dean jumped to his feet, crossed the room to join Cas at the table and watch the archangel. His stolen angel blade was gone which left him mostly defenseless. Sam was standing closer to Lucifer, not moving, back stiff and fingers curled around an angel blade as the damned dog began to yap at Lucifer, tail wagging behind it unthreateningly.

“Heaven seems to think differently.”

“I don’t care.” Michael responded coolly, “Heaven is my domain, Lucifer. I’m sorry your throne’s being held by one of our hellspawns but you’re going to have to deal with it. There’s more important things to deal with currently than your ego.”

“So, what would you do?” Lucifer parroted Dean’s question to Sam, making him bristle slightly as Cas joined his side, hands spread a bit. “Let him go? I have Heaven under my wing, Mikey.”

“I never said I was going to let him go!” Michael was angry, the dim light of the room warping into a pure white light as illusion fell away to leave them standing in the middle of an empty field of white grass and flowers. Everything was so white, blindingly, bright white. “Abariel!”

Wings fluttered behind him and Ruby and Meg both shouted in unison, “Let him go!”

“Michael.” The new angel said quietly, arms locked around a very compliant Cas.

“Let him go!” Dean whipped his head back, glared violently at Michael. “Now!”

“Take him to the holding cells, Abariel. He has a right to representation as well as visitors. He is not a prisoner, he is simply being held in preparation for his trial.”

“If he has a right to visitors I’m going with him.” Ruby demanded.

“Take her with you.”

“She’s a demon.” The new angel protested.

“Both of us.” Meg hissed.

Take them with you.” Michael ordered, light flashing in his eyes and energy crackling around them for a moment. With a quick flutter of wings and there were five people left in the room.

“A trial, Michael. A trial for your Raphael. We’ve killed for less!”

“Those were different times with different angels. This isn’t about Castiel or even Raphael and you know it. You’re behaving like a fledgling, Lucifer.”

“You-“

“I am the leader of Heaven and just because you manipulated a bunch of grief-stricken angels does not make you their ruler. Have you looked at their numbers? Our brothers and sisters have been dying, Lucifer. While we have killed each other in Hell they have been at war and they’re grieving. Unlike us, they are honestly truly grieving and because of what we are we can’t comprehend it. So you need to back away. Heaven is not under your control, and it will not be under mine. Not unless they request it. Not under an order from you or me but by their own choice. There are angels present, qualified, smart angels that have taken the reigns. These angels are running things now, and I may be the ruler but these are their calls.”

“You… Michael, why?”

“Because, Lucifer. Just as you, I want to do right this time. You promised me you would make reparations. That we would repair the damages done here. This? This is how. We can’t drop in demanding things and you can’t assume that one decision will right yourself in the eyes of Heaven. I know I haven’t been righted.”

“I want him to pay, Mikey. That was your sister…”

My sister.” Michael repeated, something flicking into sight behind him before dissipating. “A sister I loved dearly, Lucifer. Yet, here I am. I am choosing to look past that in favor of fixing out home. We need to think things through, Luci. If you don’t… I will lock you in Heaven’s prison until his trial ends.”

“No.” Lucifer swallowed, casting a glare at Sam and Dean. “I’m not some animal. You want a trial? Fine. We’ll do a trial. But I want them caged.”

“What!” Both brothers protested, inputting for the first time since their arrival.

“Done.” Michael snapped his fingers and a flash of white light sent both him and Sam into a different area. A grey room with bars at the front, something resembling concrete at their sides. Prison. A cell. They were in prison.

What the hell!

“Michael you son of a bitch! Let us out!”

“Dean?” Dean glanced over at his brother who had joined him at the bars, shaking them with frustration but remaining uncharacteristically quite before pressing up against the wall to his left.

“Meg?”

“Guess they kept the fine print out.”

“Is he alive?”

“Yes, Dean.” Came Cas’ voice, coming closer. “I want to apologize… I had little idea in what I was thinking.”

“That’s because you were high.” Dean grimaced at the harshness of his own words. “So how’re you all sober now?”

“One of my sisters.” Castiel responded and he pressed his face against the bar, thankful for little favors. “Not all of the angels want me dead, Dean. There are many that are contesting for me to live.”

“Not enough.” Came Ruby’s voice from the other side. “Sam, you over there?”

“Yes.” Sam came up behind him.

“Call in Hannah. Ask her for the angelic lawbooks.”

“You’ll want the ones on angelic vessels and Charges.” Came Crowley’s voice from the other side.

“Crowley?”

“Hello, boys.” Came Crowley’s voice from the other side. “Angel took all the demons. Guess you were caught up in the conflict between the lovers.”

“Sorry, man.”

“Don’t apologize, Dean.” Crowley’s tone was a bit teasing as he came closer, “Moose, you’ve still got lawschool knocking around in your skull, right?”

“I think so but-“

“Well forget anything you think you know. Angel’s court won’t be anything like humans. Michael might be playing fair, he might not, but you have to remember why they’re after him.”

“I killed Raphael.”

“Yes.” Crowley agreed, “Raphael. The healer of Heaven whose crime at the time was trying to cement the prophecy that God foretold. What you think won’t matter. What matters is the facts and their facts aren’t going to align with what we think.”

“Crowley, I don’t understand how you know as much about angelic law as you do.” Cas spoke up and the ex-demon huffed a laugh, “It is worrying.”

“Just know it is going to help us here, Castiel.”

A breath of silence then Crowley was speaking again, “Remember. They are trying him for the murder of an Archangel. I would search for laws around killing during an active war because at that time you were at war. Can you do this for me, Sam?”

“I can read these books but it will do me no good if I don’t remember them. Are you sure I should-“

“Yes. Even if you’re bloody useless you want to be there. You are a decent piece of leverage against Lucifer. She won’t harm you intentionally which means that if you’re next to him…”

“It is less likely that she’ll try to kill Cas.”

“Exactly. Now get to reading, Moose. See if you can’t find us something interesting.”

Dean glanced over as Sam tapped the bars, an angel with long brown hair and deep brown eyes appearing before him. “I need angelic law books. I’ll be standing as Castiel’s counsel.”

A smile quirked faintly on the angel’s face before she nodded, disappearing in a flutter of wings and reappearing a few moments later. “Good luck, Sam Winchester. There is another book in there that may be marginally beneficial, if you’re willing to use it.”

A small pile of books were passed between the angel and hunter before she disappeared in a flutter of wings. Sam stared at the pile for a moment before tossing one, Dean barely catching it as it landed in his hands. “Really?”

“I need you to remember the things I’ll forget. We’re under a time limit. C’mon, Dean.” Grimacing, Dean leaned back against the wall and stared at the first page of Angelic Laws and Rules; Volume One.

This was going to suck.

Chapter Text

The courtroom. If someone could call it that, was smaller than Dean had expected. It was similar to a courthouse he'd seen on daytime TV and the seats behind the half wall blocking the audience from the area where the tall bench with three seats sat. Rather than the stands Dean expected there was a table in the center with three seats, Cas was cuffed and sitting in the center seat with Crowley standing to his left and Sam to his right.

"Let it be heard among all of Heaven." Lucifer's voice broke the air as she appeared in front of the back stands, judge stands? "We are gathered here today, Heaven and Hell united-"

"Hell is not united under your name anymore, Lucifer." Crowley spoke up loudly, firmly. "It is united under the name of your spawn. And there isn't a single nephilim nor demon from Hell here so don't pretend you're representing Hell."

"Heaven and Hell united for the first time since my Fall. We are gathered for the trial of the Fallen by the name of Castiel, just as we gathered thousands of years ago for my own trial. He stands accused of the slaughter of thousands of angels, of Michael's sister. The healer of Heaven."

Lucifer had been given a trial after his Fall? That wasn't promising. Not in the least.

"I call forward the judges, three today, Michael, Heaven's soldier, the archangel of Heaven. The ruler of Heaven." Michael appeared on the far left stand, expression unreadable, posture tense. "Hel of Helheim, daughter of Gabriel and Goddess of the Norse afterlife. My niece, we welcome you." In a flash of white light a woman appeared in the center seat, several startled sounds ripping across the room as she came into view.

By all rights, she was terrifying. Half of her face was beautiful, pure, raw, beauty. That beauty was countered by her other side. A skeleton with hollow, empty eyes and sharp daggerlike teeth. Almost human. Just barely, but still distinct. Behind her were two hole filled golden… eagle wings? that dropped out of sight almost immediately, angel wings. Holy shit.

"Foðurbroðir." Hel... Gabriel's daughter, spoke from her seat as her face became whole again.

"It is nice to see you."

"Flattery will get you nowhere." She spoke calmly, leaning back in her seat to meet Dean's gaze.

"I know. Finally, we have Dean Winchester of Earth, True Vessel of Michael, Hunter, and general pain in the ass."

"Lucifer." Michael bit out and she rolled her eyes, snapping her fingers. Then Dean was at the left of Hel, facing a crowd of unhappy angels. There were a couple familiar faces among them. Hannah was close to Castiel's back with concern etched into her expression. There was another angel he vaguely recognized from the leviathan outbreak seated next to her, and three others that had taken to visit them while they were still in holding.

The angels that still liked Cas. There weren't many of them and it was really concerning.

"Now that we are all assembled, Michael." Lucifer disappeared, and after a glance to his right Dean found she'd reappeared at Michael's right side.

"Castiel, Fallen angel of the archangel Gabriel and fugitive of Heaven." Michael spoke firmly, formally. "You stand accused of the slaughter of thousands of angels and the murder of my sister, the archangel Raphael, how do you plead?"

"Guilty." Cas responded with his head bowed slightly.

"Then let us proceed. If you would, Hel."

"Michael, what are you doing?" Lucifer exclaimed suddenly.

"You are not meant to speak, foðurbroðir." Hel warned from where she was sat next to him. "As my father was Gabriel, the Archangel of Justice, my uncle and I have agreed that I will take his position as head judge in this trial. This courtroom is now my own. My first action is executing my directive as the head judge. Due the sensitive nature of the judgement and the personal biases of my peers, I am dismissing Michael and Dean Winchester to be replaced immediately by two new judges-"

"You can't do that!" The angel crowd shouted, Lucifer's voice raising above them all. The Fallen was glaring violently at the nephilim, a silver blade appearing in his hand as the other angels in the room rose to their feet.

"Yes, she can." Michael spoke up, voice loud and firm. The angels all shut up at his tone, retaking their seats and Lucifer bared her teeth like some animal, grip visibly tightening on her blade as she disappeared from where she had been standing in front of them.

What the hell? What was Michael doing? What was the point…

"First, I am calling Flauros, the nephilim daughter of Raphael forward as one of my judges. I will follow the pattern of three judges for this case as my uncles seemed to think it was the best course of action. Flauros is willing to remain unbiased in this situation despite the sensitive nature. She doesn't hold ill will nor bias towards Castiel because she knew her mother well enough to understand that Raphael would have done whatever she thought was necessary in the situation."

"Her mother was one of the victims." Hannah spoke up warily from the crowd as Dean hesitated and climbed down from the chair he was in.

"Yes, she was. Yet, Flauros is willing to look past these in favor justice. Righteous justice. I have no intentions of treating one of my uncles to an unfair trial. This is why Michael brought me in to begin with. Just as careful precautions were brought in for Lucifer's trial, the same is being done here. Trust me. All of you. I haven't reigned over the Norse afterlife for all of these years just to be made a fool in an angelic courtroom. Today, we will learn the truth. No lies, no deception. Is that understood?"

"Yes." Hannah responded as Dean took his seat back next to Sam and Castiel, his gaze wandering to the area behind the three podiums where Michael and Lucifer in a staring match, Lucifer looking ready to punch someone as Michael took his blade.

"With that settled. I call forward my second judge. A special case that took effort to bring here. Someone that has seen every event that has unfolded since the Judeo-Christian Apocalypse began until he was ultimately eaten by a leviathan over a year ago. Chuck Shurley, if you may."

An anxious looking Chuck appeared in the seat Dean had been occupying moments before and his jaw dropped a bit in shock. Chuck? Where the hell had he been? He'd been overly present during the Apocalypse, then nothing.

Silence.

"Hi, um…" Chuck swallowed, shifted uncomfortably.

"Dean, I'm missing something." Sam muttered to him and he glanced up at his brother.

"Prophet. During The Apocalypse. We met him-"

"The books. He wrote… about us."

"Yeah." Dean responded, relaxing just a bit. "Crappy books that fed on our crappy lives."

"They weren't crap." Chuck defended loudly.

"Silence!" Hel ordered as Lucifer leaned against the wall, arms crossed over her chest and a firm glare settled on Michael. "We will begin formally now. The judges are chosen, the angel in question possesses no grace and his defense stands with him. Now, I want to hear from your mouth. For the first crime. The slaughter of a thousand angels. Why did you slaughter them?"

"On behalf of my client, I am going to stand as witness." Crowley spoke up before Cas could.

"Is that what you want?"

"Yes." Cas responded, shifting slightly and Dean wondered for a moment if he was high or drunk again. Ruby. Where were the demons? He hadn't seen either of them since some angel named Jeral picked them up to bring them to the court room.

"Then proceed. What was your involvement in the events from that time."

"I was his accomplice. At the time, I was the demon King of Hell. We had a single goal, work together to make sure that Michael and Lucifer remained in the Cage at any cost."

"Including the opening of Purgatory and the release of the monsters within?" If she was surprised that he was now human she didn't show it.

"At the time, that was not the goal." Cas spoke up suddenly, Hel's glare silencing him.

"Of course it was about the souls. It's always about the souls. Raphael was attempting to release Michael and Lucifer from the Cage that they had just been put in. So, I came to the little seraph with a solution. Together we had enough power to stand against him, not win, but bring Purgatory into the mix and we had the needed power. Obviously there were other options, one of the other varying afterlives, but ultimately Purgatory was the best bet."

"How exactly does the death of Raphael tie into the others?" Hel pressed, sounding almost genuine- or was it genuine? Hel was the Norse goddess of death if he could remember right. There was definitely something in Norse mythology about one of Loki's kids being trapped. But that wasn't the point. Was it possible that she didn't have a damn clue? If it was true it gave them either a major advantage or it would backfire dramatically.

"I can only testify what I directly witnessed, correct?"

"Hearsay is admissible in my court. I will require that it's confirmed by another witness, however."

"In that case, Dean Winchester or Robert Singer can back up my testimony. It's your choice."

"Bring me the deceased one." Hel ordered with a flick of her wrist, gaze settling firmly on Crowley. "Continue."

"Near the end of our dealings, Castiel betrayed me and as a response I spoke with Raphael."

"Raphael would never-"

"Quiet!" Hel warned, turning sharply to glare at Lucifer. "I want you present for this but if you don't remain silent for the proceedings I will have you removed."

"The demon is lying, Hel."

"That is not for you to determine, foðurbroðir. Either accept it or leave."

"What gives you the right to determine an angelic trial?"

"The ruler of Heaven does. If Michael would like to take back his decision, please, do so. Otherwise let me proceed."

"She will refrain from anymore outbursts, Hel. Please, continue."

"I can't believe you're letting a Pagan run your court." Lucifer hissed, loudly. Hel ignored it as she returned her focus to Crowley.

"As I was saying, Raphael agreed that we had a common enough goal that she was willing to take my side in the battle. If I'm honest, I was going to stab her in the back the moment I had the chance but I haven't a single doubt that she would've returned the favor."

"Did you witness Raphael's death?" So she did know. How much did she know?

"No, but he did." Crowley's attention moved to the doorway at the back and Dean turned, eyes widening and throat closing at the sight of Bobby stepping through the doorway. He looked younger than Dean has expected, about the age he had when their dad first introduced them to the man and Dean didn't think before he was on his feet, moving and wrapping his adoptive father in a tight hug.

"Hey, boys." Bobby muttered as Sam joined him in the group hug. "Don't look so surprised. Where'd you think I went when I kicked it?"

"You weren't with Ellen and them," Dean admitted one of his earlier worries. Even after everything they'd gone through for him during the trials he had to wonder if something hadn't gone wrong, if Bobby hadn't ended back up in Hell.

"So what's the deal here?"

"The truth, Mr. Singer." Hel interrupted from her place at the podium. "May we continue?"

"Missed you, Bobby." Sam breathed as they pulled apart. Bobby gave a long, analytical look to the younger Winchester.

"What's going on with you?"

"Tell you later." Sam muttered with a bit too much confidence. Who was to say they'd get to talk to Bobby when this was over?

"You better." Bobby warned in his own way, voice stern.

"Mister Robert Singer." Hel greeted as Sam and Dean returned to their places next to Cas.

"Who are you?"

"I am Hel. Norse Goddess of death and head judge over the seraph Castiel's trial."

"Pleasure to meet you," Bobby responded, turning his attention to Crowley who smiled widely. "Do I want to know?"

"Not at all. Here." Crowley moved from his seats, nudging Bobby towards the stand he'd been seated in in front of the three judges before taking his place next to Dean.

After Bobby took a seat Hel cleared her throat and the low murmur that had started up died out. "Mr. Singer."

"Bobby."

Hel smiled, a smile that reminded him vaguely of one of Gabriel's more mischievous ones. Man, he hated to admit it but he missed that Archangel. Out of all of them, he was the damned sane one. Something he never would have guessed.

"Bobby Singer then. Can you please explain what happened on the day of Raphael's death to the best of your recollection?"

"Can't you just pull it from our memories? Isn't a verbal retelling a bit unnecessary?" Bobby countered, eyeing Hel who grinned at him,

"Now that you've asked…" The goddess of death snapped her fingers and a projection appeared in the center of the room, Bobby's eyes going vacant. Dean watched in shock as Bobby's memories of the events leading to Raphael's death.

The white light died from the room and Castiel smiled, eyes white and glowing with the power of purgatory.

"You can't imagine what it's like. They're all inside me. Millions upon millions of souls."

"Sounds sexy. Exit stage Crowley." Then Crowley disappeared. Raphael was left where she stood, eyes wide and fear nearly tangible.

"Now, what's the matter, Raphael? Somebody clip your wings?"

"Castiel, please. You let the demon go, but not your own brother?"

"The demon I have plans for. You on the other hand..." A snap of his fingers and Raphael exploded in a mess of gore, the angel blade Raphael had clattering to the ground. "So you see, I saved you."

"Sure thing, Cas. Thank you." Dean remembered his own fear from the time, the fear that his best friend was truly, honestly gone.

"You doubted me, fought against me, but I was right all along."

"Okay, Cas, you were. We're sorry. Now let's just defuse you, okay?"

"What do you mean?"

"You're full of nuke. It's not safe. So, before the eclipse ends, let's get them souls back to where they belong."

"Oh no, they belong with me."

"No, Cas, it's it-it's scrambling your brain."

"No, I'm not finished yet. Raphael had many followers, and I must punish them all severely."

The image flashed and they were met with a new image, the same location but Castiel beaten and bloody, black stains marring his skin and patches of blood covering him completely. Varying flashes of the events on the news that Bobby had watched leading to that incident.

"Dean?" Bobby wasn't facing them as he worked to setup the spell.

"What, you need something else?"

"No. I feel regret, about you and what I did." Dean frowned at that and he felt the shared confusion coming from Castiel on his right. That wasn't what Castiel had said there. Dean knew what had been said on this day because it had haunted him.

"Yeah, well, you should."

"If there was time, if I was strong enough, I'd- I'd fix Sam- everything now. All of it. I just wanted to make amends before I die."

"Okay." Bobby's view of the scene shifted to see Dean and Castiel.

"Is it working?"

"Does it make you feel better?"

"No. You?"

"Not a bit." The memory had been altered. Dean knew for a fact that it had. So who was playing dirty? Not that Dean was complaining, but why had it happened?

A different sight, Cas looking worse than he had in the last image, panic on his expression, "You need to run now! I- I can't hold them back!"

"Hold who back?"

"They held on inside me. Dean, they're so strong."

"Who the hell-"

"Leviathan! I can't fight them. Run!"

"Go! Go get Sam! Go get Sam!"

"Too late." A grotesque smile curled on Castiel's face. The leviathans. The first glimpse at them.

"Cas?"

"Cas is- he's gone. He's dead. We run the show now. Ah. Oh, this is going to be so much fun."

Bobby blinked rapidly in his seat as the image dissipated from the center of the room.

"Castiel."

"I'm sorry." Cas breathed, shuddering. "I- everything I did, all of it… I take full responsibility for my actions- my decisions,"

"What he's saying," Crowley interrupted, "Is that he accepts responsibility for his decisions to open Purgatory. The events that followed, however? Those were influenced by the leviathans. Creatures that you," Crowley added, gesturing towards the archangels, "had to imprison in Purgatory. Do you really expect Castiel to control these creatures?"

When Dean looked at the archangels he saw the last thing he ever expected to see. Lucifer was stunned. Her eyes were wide, mouth slightly slack. Michael was in a similar state though not nearly as astounded, his gaze flicking between them and Dean could almost see Adam in their depths.

"Uncles." Hel spoke up and Michael jerked his head, looked at her. "Confirm?"

"The… what was the question?"

"It took all of us." Lucifer spoke up, shaking her head. "All of the archangels banded together and imprisoned them in Purgatory. That was how we did it. It took the full power of everyone to trap them. I- God damn it. The moment those souls were with him… He would've been overtaken by the volatile state of the leviathans."

"Thank you, foðurbroðir. For the truth."

"It's a bitch." Lucifer murmured, turning and wrapping her arms around Michael to bury her face in his shoulder.

"Angels of The Host," Hel spoke up, "I want you all to take into consideration everything that has been shown here today, everything you have heard. This is the testimony of Castiel's crimes, shown front and center for all of Heaven to see. Does anyone else have anything they wish to input? Any defense or evidence that any of The Host might have to present."

Silence followed and when Dean turned slightly he saw that all of the other angels were in a stunned silence, some looking outright ashamed. What had happened here? What had changed?

"No? Okay then. Very well." Hel cleared her throat and leaned back in her chair, flicking her wrist and causing three slips of paper to appear before the three judges. "We will write down our verdict, and then we will announce it. Whatever we choose will be the final verdict. I have done my research on your system and I know what happened to Lucifer during her trial. Three votes, three chances, three outcomes. Do you understand this, Castiel?"

"I understand."

"Then give us a moment to debate among ourselves." The three judges disappeared with a snap of her fingers and Bobby abandoned his place at the witness stand.

"What was that?" Dean whispered and Bobby shrugged, looking equally confused.

"I don't know."

Dean glanced over at Cas who shrugged, looked at the table.

"I wouldn't complain." Crowley said quietly and Bobby threw a bitter look towards him.

"What's the deal with that?"

"They cured me."

"You cured him? Have you lost your-"

"Dean's screwing him." Sam told Bobby and all the color drained from his face as both Cas and Bobby's gazes shot to him, astonishment on them.

"What the hell, Sam!"

"I-" Sam looked equally appalled with himself and Dean ground his teeth together. Why had Sam had to bring it up? Here? Now? "I don't know why I said that."

"Because we're under a truth spell." Lucifer spoke up from next to the table. When had she gotten there?

"You're screwin' Crowley?"

"Nice job keeping your mouth shut, squirrel." Crowley glared at him but there was a lack of menace behind it. "Never took you as the kiss and tell type. Wish I'd beat you to the punch."

"Castiel." Lucifer interrupted, tone softer than it had been since their arrival. "You never said anything of the leviathans."

"You never gave me a chance to defend myself."

"Not just to me. The Host, Castiel. No one outside of your circle was told. Why?"

"Just because angels suck at logical conclusions it doesn't mean that you should've jumped the gun."

Lucifer glared at him before looking back at Cas, "I hope they choose an innocent verdict."

"He wouldn't be in this mess if it wasn't for you, you dick!"

"I am well aware of this fact, Dean. What you're forgetting is that Michael handed the entire court over to my niece. I have no say."

"What will you do if she decrees guilty."

"Hope that Raphael's daughter decrees innocent of the Charges. That's all you can hope for here. Chuck Shurley is guaranteed to say innocent. No matter the claims, he is absolutely biased in this. Especially if what was said was true and you did what you did under the influence of the leviathans."

"I did." Castiel confirmed and Lucifer huffed.

"I hate that you can't lie to me here. Michael and I are going to Heaven's library after the trial. We will find a way back into Hell."

"So you're back on the team after trying to singlehandedly rip it in half? Just like that?"

"Where do you think the demons went, Dean? Michael sent them to the library to start looking. Michael never was against you and neither was I. We wanted justice. I'm sure you can sympathize."

No one responded to that.

"She will be back in a moment." The Lucifer disappeared, reappearing back by Michael's side and pressing her back against him.

"That's Lucifer?" Bobby asked, looking towards the two archangels.

"Yeah. Turns out he's a chick."

"Who is he wearin'?"

"Distant aunt." Dean frowned as he was reminded of the body that Lucifer was wearing. Some obscure woman that he'd never known existed, a sister to his mother that was robbed of a normal life to be a meatshield for an archangel.

"Settle!" Hel's voice broke the air and silence fell, Bobby stepping back behind the table to join Sam's side on the other side of the table. "We have our verdicts." Hela held up three sealed envelopes. "Three decisions. We're going to start with the first one. The verdict on the death of the slaughter of the angels. Flauros?"

The nephilim flicked her gaze to Castiel, pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. "Innocent."

"Chuck."

"Innocent." He squeaked.

"Innocent." Hel confirmed, breaking open the first envelope and holding up the three papers with the word innocent sprawled across them in different scrawls.

"Moving on. The next charge. The death of Raphael, the death of my uncle." Hel breathed deeply, closed her eyes and swallowed. "Flauros?"

"Guilty." The nephilim settled a glare on Castiel and his stomach churned.

"Chuck."

"Innocent."

Hel's eyes flicked open and she settled a long stare on Castiel. "I have carefully thought over everything I've seen, everything I've heard. If this was my court I would be approaching this aspect of your trial differently but based off the options I have available… I find you innocent." With that, she repeated the action of tearing open the second envelope, held out the three sheets of paper. Two innocents and a guilty.

Dean let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding and Cas made a small sound.

"The final charge." That was when it clicked with him. The final charge. They had only discussed the angels and Raphael. What was the third charge? What else were they- "The Fall of Heaven."

The way she said it left him every level of uncomfortable. Something was wrong here.

"Flauros?"

"Guilty." The nephilim spoke softly, bitter.

"Chuck."

Chuck sent him an apologetic look before muttering, "Guilty."

"Guilty." Hel confirmed, opening the envelope and revealing the three guilty slips.

"Chuck! What the hell-"

"Silence!" The sudden flare of the Goddess' power sent him slamming into the seat behind him, his voice taken from him.

They couldn't do this though. This wasn't what the trial had been for.

"Hel, if I may-"

"You may not, ex-demon. The verdict is final. And with that, the trial is complete. The punishment for the Fall is the revoking of his Grace. You will spend the rest of your life as a human, banished from Heaven." Hel looked down as Michael set a vial of grace on the podium before disappearing with Lucifer in a flutter of wings. "Remember what happened here today, angels. Remember the importance of what you learned. Don't take for granted what you have because Heaven is back under the rule of a competent leader. A leader that will not hesitate to punish you for doing things that you know you should not."

Hel waved her hand and a cloud of smoke moved them all into a large room with a massive table in the middle where five winged people that could only be nephilim were eating, eyes widening in panic at the arrival of Sam, Dean, Castiel, and Crowley.

"Cousins." Hel greeted as Dean threw himself at her, hitting an invisible barrier as he tried to drive a knife into her back.

"What did you do you-"

"Dean, stop." Cas grabbed his shoulder, "I know why she did what she did."

"Thank you, Castiel."

"What-"

"I was never going to get my grace back during that trial, but I was never going to be executed."

"My father warned me." Hel said quietly, turning around and looking at them with sad eyes. Her face had taken a completely human appearance now and he was relieved by the sight. It was significantly less intimidating.

"What do you mean he warned you?"

"Dad had a lot of time to plan his death. Can you sit? So we can talk?"

"Do we have a choice?"

"I can return you to Earth but you might want to listen." Dean glanced at Sam as him and Cas walked over to the chairs and took seats. Crowley glanced at him, shrugging subtly before moving to join Sam and Cas. Dean grimaced before following, Hel reappeared across from them, wings reappearing behind her and stretching out. "When he came to me in his last moments he warned me about all of this. The only way you would be safe, Castiel is if Heaven was back under control. But there was more. The angels still were blaming you for everything you did under the influence of the leviathans and technically they weren't completely wrong, but they weren't thinking clearly either. Michael wanted me to do this trial because he knew I could cement several parts. The main thing being his control over the angels. You had to receive some sort of punishment but it couldn't be for the angels or Raphael because those would have been punished with death."

"The Fall wasn't-"

"It was punishable by death, but it was a different situation. I could explain it in its entirety, Castiel but it would take a lot of time."

"Hel?" Hel looked at Sam, "Lucifer told me I was Gabriel's Charge. When I was reading those angel lawbooks it said an angel can't die as long as its Charge lives."

"Father was human when he died." Hel responded and he frowned.

"But…" Sam looked over at Castiel, "Does that mean-"

"For all intents and purposes, yes, but we know nothing about this. If the wrong person were to learn about the technicalities revolving around his human state I wouldn't be able to protect him." So that meant that Cas wasn't safe from Michael, if the archangel were to find out that he was no longer protected by the weird ass Charge thing.

"I'm sorry about Gabriel." Sam told Hel who shrugged, wings ruffling behind her.

"I got to say goodbye. That's more than a lot of us get." Hel eyed Sam for a long moment, "You're collapsing on yourself, Samuel. Soon you won't remember your brother, your father, your own name."

"Can you fix him?" Hel didn't hesitate to shake her head, casting an apologetic look towards him.

"There's something that can help him, but fixing the damage isn't possible."

"What can help him?"

"If your brother dies, if his soul is put to rest, he would stop fading. But he would have to die."

"No."

"I'm sorry, Dean but that is all I can recommend. The damage will continue to grow until-"

"Let's go." Sam interrupted her, "We have to fix Hell."

"Denial will only get you so far, boys. I hope you understand this. I want you to know, Samuel. Don't choose the Christian afterlife when your time comes. When it arrives, choose The Summerland or Hades. They are the least likely to destroy what remains of you." With that final recommendation she snapped her fingers, sending them away before they could say a word.

Chapter Text

Sam stared at the pages on his screen. Sam and Dean Winchester, serial killings finally put to rest.

“How does it feel to forget yourself?” Sam jolted slightly, head whipping up to see Lucifer standing behind him. She looked… lost.

“Frustrating.” The admittance felt like a weight off his chest, a word that just barely scratched the top of his problems but still managed to say how he truly felt. Dean was asleep -with Crowley no doubt- and Cas was off in his room with Ruby and Meg. They’d been researching last he heard though he didn’t want to go near that door to clarify. It didn’t matter too much anyways.

Michael was in Heaven, where Lucifer was supposed to be.

Curiosity got the best of him.

“How’re things there?”

“They’re… grating.” Lucifer sighed deeply, voice soft and smooth as she slunk into the seat next to him, turning the chair and crossing her ankles as she propped her legs up in his lap.

Over the last couple days, Lucifer had decidedly altered the appearance of her vessel. Once long hair was short, cut off above her ears and now dyed into a deep shade of black.

Her physical structure had been altered as well, facial details shifted and changed so that she was prettier, curves altered as the devil saw fit. Sam had to wonder whether the devil had done it for herself, or for Michael. Either way it was clearly Lucifer making the body her own, not just some human body to possess.

“Your brother is a dick.”

“Adam.” Sam said the name out of reflex but he drew several blanks when it came to the memories revolving around the other brother. He was… younger. Right?

“Michael insists that he only cares for his Vessel and nothing more. I don’t believe him, though.”

“Well…” Sam hesitated, leaning forward to pop his head on his elbow, gaze raking across the distant expression of the devil. “Have you considered that maybe he’s telling the truth?”

“I have.” Lucifer confirmed, shifting slightly so she could lean back in her chair, head rested on the back of it. “I would even believe him, except how defensive he is.”

“You are accusing-”

“The last time someone accused him of loving someone he killed them.”

“Who was that?”

“I told him he was in love with me.” Lucifer grinned, all teeth and Sam was struck with a strange thought that he shoved away as quick as it manifested. “In The Cage. I was afraid, you know. When I was there the first time, I was tortured. I was scared that when Michael stopped trying to kill me, that it would start. Honestly, I was protecting us both.”

“But not me.”

“Sorry, Sammy. Only could do so much.” Lucifer’s grin broadened though there was an air of regret in his words. “So I told him he was in love with me. Considering the progress that we’d made towards not killing each other I was surprised when he stabbed me in the heart. Kinda hurt too, you know. I guess he’d convinced himself he would never love me again. Not that I stopped. Mother, help me I wish I had. Things are easier when you’re filled with hate, you know. He did it a few times more and I just… let him. Then I kissed him.”

“I’m not sure how to take that.” He admitted, passively rubbing circles into the Archangel’s ankle.

“You don’t have to take it in any way. I’m just pouring my heart out to the man that won’t remember it in a week.”

“That’s a pretty asshole move.”

“It’s a pretty honest move.” The smile on her face was taunting. “Who better to spill your secrets to?”

“I guess you’re not wrong,” Sam conceded as Lucifer kicked her legs out of his lap. “Have you had any luck?”

“Verrine found a spell but we can’t pay the price.”

“What’s the price?”

“Something we can’t pay.” Lucifer responded cryptically as she got to her feet, wiping her hands off on her jeans and leaning down so her face was next to his ear. “Something we won’t pay so stop asking.” Her breath was cold and chilling, as were her lips when she pressed a small kiss to his lips, soft and chaste. Quick and simple.

Sam stared in shock at the spot where Lucifer disappeared from without another word, lips tingling with the Fallen Archangel’s Grace and confusion coiling in his gut.

What the hell?

.-~*~-.

“Sir.” Jo didn’t lift her face from where it was nestled against her love’s thigh as one of the nephilim stepped through the doorway. “We have news.”

“What news is that?” Her love hummed, tangling her fingers in Jo's hair and tugging her closer. Jo didn’t hesitate to begin working, relishing in the sounds her love made. Some lingering part of her consciousness wondered what Zagan was seeing under the illusion that Aedmiel was undoubtedly conjuring.

Clearing his throat, the nephilim audibly shuffled his feet behind her, “Castiel was taken to court today, tried for his crimes.”

“Why does this concern me?”

“Michael and Lucifer are making amends, or so father says. He thinks we should worry.”

“My father is dead, just as the others will be. Tell my dear cousins that time will- oh Heavens your mouth- come. Has he- ah, brought my notices- I mean my book to the attention of them.”

“He has. From what we can tell they aren’t planning to use it.

“Sentiment will only -mm- last so long. They need Hell open.”

“There’s something else. A rumor-”

“Oh fuck…”

“-that came from a reaper.”

“Give me- one moment.” Aedmiel pat her cheek as she licked her lips, lifting her eyes to meet Aedmiel’s illusional masculine form, tugging her away by her hair and up into her lap for a kiss. “So good to me.”

“I love you.”

“Mhm.” Aedmiel kissed her, sweet and chaste before returning her attention to the nephilim. “What about the reapers?”

“They’re looking to replace him.”

“Who, him?” Aedmiel gestured towards the rotting corpse of Death in the corner. Ironic in a way. And she’d killed him. Her, Jo, had singlehandedly killed Death. The entity himself had died at her hands, gone to Oblivion for taking away her life. Justice. “They can try but they won’t. I have his ring.” Jo leaned back to eyeball Death’s ring on Aedmiel’s finger. “The ring is the source.”

“Are you certain that it’s that ring, Lord Bael?”

“Do you take me for a fool, Zagan?”

“No! I just simply have to ask if you are sure your facts are clear. Gaea is your source but she is also an arrogant child who is madly in love with Lucifer-”

“Are you insulting my business partner now? Do I need to remind you what I did to my favorite cousin? Stop trying my patience.”

“If you would please- please give me a moment.”

“Twenty seconds.” Aedmiel conceded, tugging Jo in for another kiss. “Then I’ll hand you to my lover. Let her handle you.

“It was Hel, Sir. The daughter of Gabriel. It was-”

“Five seconds.” There was a sudden viciousness to the words the moment Gabriel’s name was brought into action and

“It had to be a sham!”

This made Aedmiel pause and Joanna shifted, turned to finally look at the shaking Reaper as she straddled her lover’s thigh.

“Explain.”

“Raphael was Gabriel’s least favorite. I still remember the death of him at Aedmiel’s hands. Gabriel never lifted a finger.”

“My aunt was a whore. What makes you think-”

“Gabriel favorited the Winchesters and by extension, their angel. They can say as they will but this entire trial was a sham. It had to be.”

“So have your father reveal it. It shouldn’t be too difficult.”

“No one will believe him. Even if your father is twitchy enough to smite him on the spot, it won’t give us the response we need.”

“You want me to send her.”

“This was your reason for taming her.” Aedmiel shifted before snagging her face and pulling her around. Jo stared into the dark pits of her lover’s eyes.

“How much do you love me, Joanna?”

“To my dying breath.” She breathed in response, biting her lip. “What do you want from me, my love?”

“aziazor elasa barinu adagita edanasa a caosga.” The words were whispered in her ear and she shivered as the lips brushed her skin. Whatever this was, Aedmiel didn’t want Zagan to understand. One of the few nephilim that didn’t speak Enochian.

“Earth.” The concept almost felt foreign, “caripe bagile?

“elasa barinu adagita bolape elsa oi basgm.”

ol zir ol.” Joanna shifted slightly, turned her gaze downwards.

a elasa ar elasa zirom apeta ol lap crp a acocasahe.” Who she was before. It was… who had she been? Jo swallowed heavily, bit her lip hard enough to draw blood. “lap ol aziazor.”

“You want…” Swallowing, Jo flicked her gaze up, “The Winchesters. It’s… Sam… and Dean. You want me to go to them.”

“Yes.”

The memories of the brothers were foggy but she remembered… she had died for them.

Why had she done that?

“Am I killing them?”

“No. You cannot kill them. They will need to believe you are their friend. This is important, aziazor. You cannot let them know that elasa biab ozien.”

“But… I don’t understand. They’re the reason I died. I should-”

A hand covered her mouth, another coming up to swipe at her eyes. “You can, doll. In the future. For the time, you have to do this. I need you to work with me here, girl. Can you do that? Can you pretend to be what they want? Can you do it for me?”

“I… I’ll need your help. I don’t remember them very well… it’s been thousands of years- why are they still alive?”

“Hell, girl. Hell. Zagan, if you could leave us. We have much to discuss.”

“Of course, sir.”

“Also, gather our cousins. I want to make an announcement.”

“Right away. Thank you for letting me live, sir.”

“You’ve been useful. The moment you stop, however…”

“I will do what you need me to, sir. I have no interest in angering you.”

“Go.”

Jo didn’t look back as the door opened and closed behind them.

“Let’s awaken your memories, Joanna Beth Harvelle. It’s time for you to remember.”

.-~*~-.

Sam swallowed when he looked at the page in front of him. Michael and Lucifer were in the room now, both actively refusing to look at each other and Sam found himself grinding his teeth together as spectral tails seemed to brush his feet and legs whenever Lucifer passed him.

“Okay, that’s it. You two,” Sam turned in his chair, glared between both Archangels who jolted at the suddenness of his voice. “What in the ever-living hell is wrong with you?”

“What-”

“When you both decided to screw Cas, you know, try to kill him, remember that? You told us you were trying for reparations. So what’s the deal? What in the ever-living hell is stopping you?”

“Adam?” Lucifer bit out in response and Michael scoffed, shook his head.

“This has nothing to do with your brother.”

“Then get rid of him!” Lucifer cried and Michael shot her a look. It was one full of pain and shame.

“I’m sorry, Luci-”

“No. You don’t get to apologize for betraying me. It’s black and white, Mikey.

“t i ge! zacar Adam voresa. It’s that simple.” Figures twisted behind Lucifer, spectral semblances of the wings he knew she had.

“Ag Lucifer.”

“Then go.” Lucifer’s demeanor shifted, expression darkening. “I wanted this to work but you’re being an arrogant, blind asshole. And- you aren’t worth the stress. So go. Go back to Heaven, take care of our brothers and sisters and let the stupid little brat fill your head with bullshit.”

“And what will you do?”

Lucifer’s mouth curled, a hateful smile with no positive emotions. “I’ll stay with the ants. At least they accept the fact that I’m a possessive dick, that you’re being an arrogant bastard.”

“Is that what you think?” Michael’s gaze flicked to him. “You think I’m an arrogant bastard, Sam Winchester?”

“I-” Sam frowned, thought back on the things he knew. “I don’t really like either of you but I wouldn’t go that far.”

“I would.” Crowley’s voice came from the doorframe. “But that’s a term I’d use for the both of you.”

“You little-”

“Lover said go, so go. You love her, right? Prove it and leave.”

Michael shot a hurt look at Lucifer who held her arms over her chest, glaring at him.

“You aren’t cold, Lucifer.”

“No, but I’m ready to be. Leave!”

“When you’re ready to see reason, call for me.”

“Fuck off.”

Michael disappeared in a flutter of wings and Lucifer turned her attention to Crowley. “Humanity has made you bold.”

“Or suicidal.” Crowley retorted as he walked over, took the seat next to Sam. “Loving the new look by the way. Really… you.”

“Don’t pretend you’re being kind, Crowley. It doesn’t suit you.”

“Neither does humanity, yet here we are. What’s with the suit change? Why the sudden interest in looking… well not like a Winchester.”

“Trying on a new skin, finding myself.”

“Michael doesn’t like it, does he?”

“Why would you think that?”

“Because you’re angry with him and you kissed Sam.”

Sam’s eyes widened and he shot a look at the ex-demon who didn’t even look up from his book.

“You told him?” Lucifer asked, tone perplexed.

“I didn’t say a word. Crowley-”

“I couldn’t sleep so I was coming to help you research. I walked in at an odd time.”

“Why do you think I did it, Crowley?”

“The same reason Dean Winchester kissed me. Well, Dean did other things as well but the start was the kiss. I imagine you’re lonely and what better of a person to solve those issues with than someone you hate?”

“I don’t hate Sam.” Lucifer met his gaze, her now brown eyes full of pity. “I’ve never hated you, Sam.”

“Funny, I don’t think I share the sentiment.”

“You sure about that? Considering the condition of your memories, you seem to remember me awfully well.”

“I remember a lot of things well enough.”

“I’m not going to debate with you, Winchester. I just recommend getting your facts separated from the things that everyone believes. I’ve never lied to you, I’ve never tricked you, and that is how I want to remain. Is that clear?”

“Yeah, it’s clear.”

“I won’t do that again, Sam. It was weakness on my part.”

“You’re fine.”

“Sam!” Dean’s distressed voice came from somewhere outside and he frowned as he got to his feet.

“A reaper is here.”

Sam moved faster at the revelation, heading down the short hallway from the library to come out in the front room.

In the middle of the room stood a younger woman with long blonde hair and tired blue eyes. She was familiar. Vaguely. Just like a lot of faces but…

“Jo?” Sam asked, the name piecing itself into place as he said it. Jo. Ellen’s daughter who had died… under their watch. The details were so damned fractured there.

“Sam.” Jo was wary as she looked between them, anxiously passing a blade between her fingers. A reaper’s blade if he remembered Bela’s right.

“You’re… a reaper now?” Sam asked, earning a look from Dean that told him he’d yet again forgotten something.

“Yes.” She responded, looking at Dean. “On the day that I died… after the explosion- Death came to me… he offered me a position as a reaper after making me choose whether mom lived or died. I let her die and… well I became what I am.”

There was something else to her tone that Sam couldn’t quite place, not that it mattered. This was… well it was Jo. Dean was a bit frozen before he seemed to clear his head and press forward to wrap her in a tight embrace, kissing the top of her head as she stood stock still in his arms.

“Dean, I-”

“Oh,” Clearing his throat, Dean stepped back. “I’m sorry I just… damn it’s been a long time.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Why are you here?” Sam spoke up.

“I um…” Jo smiled softly. “I heard about Cas’ trial. All the reapers did. When we’re not talking about being locked out of Hell, we’re talking about just about anything. Rumor on the grapevine is that Cas was supposed to die in that trial.”

“Well he got lucky.” Dean responded, suddenly defensive.

“I’m not questioning it.” Jo clarified, frowning.

“No. You’re just here out of the blue. It’s been years, Jo and you show you’re face now? No. Reapers don’t just show up.”

“You don’t believe me?”

“Dean-”

“I think there’s more than you’re letting on,” Dean stared Jo down, “It’s been years without a peep and all the sudden you’re here?”

“I’m here because- well fuck it.” Jo sighed and fidgeted with her scythe, turned and walked over to the table where she boosted herself up onto it to sit. “I need your help, guys. We all do. The other reapers are too stubborn to say anything, they believe we’ll figure it out on our own but… well, I’m not an optimist anymore. But what I do know is that every time this planet falls into ruin, you two seem to fix it and… well I believed enough in you to die for you in the past. I’m trusting you now. I hope you can return the favor.”

“What’s wrong, Jo?” Sam spoke up, tony wary because he agreed with Dean’s unease at the situation. It was convenient and they had just saved Castiel from execution.

Because Hel had lied.

“One of us was trapped in Hell when the doorways were closed.”

“Who?”

“I think you know her, Tessa.”

“She was my reaper.” The memory was vague but still there… weirdly.

“Wait- Sam was she the one that took you after the trial.”

“Yes,” He confirmed, looking at Dean.

“Let her burn then.” Dean scowled, Jo giving him an outright offended and hurt look.

“Death is dead.” Both brothers shot her a look.

“Death is not dead.” Lucifer’s voice came from the door, sharp and sudden. “If you’re a reaper, you should know this.”

Jo’s head shot up, eyes narrowing into slits. “I am a reaper.”

“You might hold a scythe but it doesn’t make you older than you want to think you are.”

“You’re talking about his ring?” Jo asked, crossing her arms over her chest, “I’m assuming you’re Lucifer, well thanks for having your bitch lackey kill me-”

Lucifer snorted. “I didn’t have anyone kill you, little girl. You were just another innocent caught in the crossfire. Not that I really cared about that kind of thing back then.” Sam didn’t bother calling her out for that thin line of truth. The implication that she actually cared now.

“His ring,” Jo continued with a sad sigh, “Is gone. Samael has always talked about the event of his demise, but… well it never arrived. None of the reapers have it.”

“So you think, what? That one of our spawns killed Death and stole his ring?”

“Yes,” Jo responded with a firm glare. “As do all of the other reapers. We don’t think, we know. If we don’t have it, someone else has to.”

“How would a nephilim kill death?” Dean interrupted and Lucifer chuckled softly, Sam turning his head to see that she was now on Dean’s other side.

“Same way you threatened to kill him during the Apocalypse. His scythe.”

“That actually works?”

“He wasn’t the first. He was the second. The death you knew, the one I bound, he wasn’t always Death. Azrael was the first of our world to become a reaper, she was… the first of this world to die. Mother killed Azrael and Mother managed to kill the first Death while we were imprisoning her.”

“The ring appeared with Azrael and she took his place as the ring chose. Then her and God had an affair and Gaea was born. Death always told us that when his time came, his true successor would receive the ring. Yet, none of us received it.”

“Is that possible?” Sam asked and Lucifer shrugged.

“We could try summoning another reaper but I’m inclined to believe that it’s unlikely they’d come. Even then… well, her story is likely. If my suspicions about who is running Hell are true, it’s more than possible that the ring is still sitting down in the pit.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The elephant that Gabriel never wanted to talk about. The daughter of Cain and him… though there were theories that she was actually the child of Mother and Gabriel.”

“What-”

“Before I was imprisoned in my Cage, but after my Fall, there was the time of the children of angels. There was one above the others, one that most of Heaven doesn’t remember. Her name was Aedmiel and she was… powerful. I will always regret that Michael and myself fought for her, but Gabriel will always blame us for what happened. The problem was never us, though. Aedmiel… well, if I’m evil, she’s truly malevolent. Aedmiel didn’t know how to be good. We may have fought for her, but she was evil to begin with.”

There was movement in the corner of his eye as Jo pushed off the table, turned her back to them.

“And the things she did… well, it was a miracle she didn’t wipe the planet from existence. Then she killed Raphael. Gabriel insisted she was good, but God imprisoned her in a Cage. Then… well you know how Gabriel knew how to open my Cage? That was why. She had done it before. Gabriel released her and she ransacked Heaven, slaughtered almost all of The Host. Gabriel killed her for it.”

“Then how can she be alive?”

“Because God never liked letting things die. God was a sadistic piece of shit. I claim to love him because it’s easier than explaining why I hate him. If I’m right, if she’s alive, she tortured Sam because he was Gabriel’s Charge. She also broke the connection.”

“And you didn’t suggest this before because…?”

“Because Gabriel was a stubborn little shit who didn’t want to believe that his sacrifice of his principles was a waste. Gabriel never wanted to kill his daughter and if she was still alive? That would’ve broken his heart. Of course it also means that if I’m right… we’re all doomed.”

“How’s that your conclusion?”

“Because the children of angels can only be killed by their parents.” Jo spoke up, turning to look at them again. “With Gabriel dead… if that is who is in Hell, there is no one that can kill her. She would overtake the Earth.”

“Wonderful.”

“It also means we shouldn’t open Hell.” Lucifer added and Sam gave her a look, earning a grimace in response. “Aedmiel will destroy the world- and not in the way that I wanted to. No one will live, not even her.”

“If I didn’t know you better, I’d say you were scared, Lucifer.”

“I am afraid. Aedmiel killed Raphael basically by flicking her pinkie finger. For the time being, we’re safe because she’s in Hell. But if she gains access to Earth it’s all over. The second her powers aren’t restrained by Hell, the moment she can tap into her full potential… we’re doomed.”

“So that’s it?”

“I’m going to Heaven. I’m going to rip Adam out of my mate and tear his soul to shreds, and I’m going to rejoice in his death because that’s what Aedmiel means for everything.”

“You’re being dramatic.” Jo spoke up and Lucifer snorted. “You’re throwing your cards in without confirming anything. I can speak with one of the others, talk to Samael.”

“Samael is still alive?”

“As alive as being a reaper is.” Came the oddly pessimistic response, “Let me talk to him, find out if it’s possible that this nephalem is still alive.”

“You drive a hard bargain, good thing I enjoy deals. Go on.” He blinked and Jo was gone. “I don’t trust her, boys. But that’s your choice.”

“Why exactly don’t you trust her?”

“Reapers. Just because she used to be your friend, doesn’t mean that she still is. Reapers function on a strict code.”

“What dies, stays dead.”

“Yes and what are the both of you? Embodiments of the living dead. Especially you, Sam.”

“Woah, but Death brought Sam back.”

“Death brought him back because he put his faith in you two idiots. In case you haven’t noticed, people that have faith in you aren’t long for this world.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“Honesty is my specialty, boys.”

“Samael says that she was never resurrected.” Jo declared as she appeared back in the room, several inches from where she’d been before. “It would have been too dangerous to allow that resurrection to happen, after all of the damage she did… Death refused God. Samael was there for it all.”

“Death didn’t always have the most level of minds when it came to God. Where do you think Gaea came from?”

“I’m telling you, Lucian.” The devil’s eyes narrowed, “Samael would never have lied to me.”

“Lucian. I guess you have spoken with Samael then.”

“Give me the benefit of the doubt and assume I’m telling the truth or give up and act like an idiot. I don’t care. Sam, Dean, at least tell me you have the brains to understand that I’m trying to help.”

“I believe her,” Sam concluded after a long moment of looking her over, analyzing everything she’d said.

“I think we’re low on options, Lucifer. Better a chance at survival than no chance at living at all.”

“Good,” Jo grinned at them before waving her hand, a pile of books appearing on the table. “These are part of Death’s collection.” When Lucifer walked over to look at them, she frowned.

“I can’t read them.”

“I know. They can only be read by humans.”

“Why-”

“Death trusted humans a lot more than he trusted anything else. Even if they want to be corrupt, they can’t singlehandedly kill off every one of his reapers, the angels and demons. Their stupidity can only kill them.”

“You were once a human.”

“I was.” Jo agreed as Sam walked over, touched the cover of a book and frowned.

The words were jumbled.

“But now I’m a reaper.”

“What’s it mean when I can’t read this, Lucifer?”

“It means that you’re a psychic, Sam. I’m not sure Dean could read this either. To read it… we probably need a human. A real human.”

“What about a prophet?” Dean asked as he joined Sam’s side, grimacing as he looked at the page.

“Or his mother,” Crowley’s voice cut through suddenly. The group looked between each other and yet again Sam was in the dark. “Road trip?” Crowley asked, looking between the brothers.

“We don’t know where he is.”

“I can give you the vicinity.” Lucifer spoke up, “But he’s warded against angels.”

“Or I can get him.” Jo interjected.

“I think a roadtrip would be good. Right, Sam?”

“It’d be good. That’s a good idea.”

Much to Sam’s surprise, Lucifer didn’t argue about the logic of the situation. The group looked between each other, Jo’s expression a bit mopey, then she disappeared.

“I don’t like this, boys. Just so you know. I don’t trust reapers.”

“Like I said. I think we’re low on options.”

When Lucifer said nothing more Dean grabbed a willing Crowley, dragging him down the hall.

It left Sam alone with Lucifer who slumped into one of the chairs, tugged the book in front of him. “I can’t believe we need a human.”

“I thought your issue was the reaper.”

“It is. I just… I can’t place my finger on why. I hate not knowing things.”

Sam took the seat next to her, “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to run through my arsenal of pre-biblical magic, see if I can’t make this work.”

“Could I help?”

A sheet of paper appeared next to him, enochian dotting the page. Some of the phrases were basic, others left him scratching his head internally as he began to mutter off whatever was written on the pages.

“ol barinu ge adagita bolape erm teloah.” Sam recited off the first spell.

Chapter Text

Lucifer headed towards Sam’s room as a reluctant Dean left the bunker with Crowley. Sam had insisted that he would be fine and that he wanted to check the lore books more.

She saw through it. Sam clearly didn’t know who Kevin Tran was anymore and trying to explain that to Dean would just upset his brother again. There was a time when Sam and Dean fighting would have enthralled her. The potential that would have come from it during the Apocalypse would have been wonderful. Now it just meant that Sam was losing himself and Lucifer loathed to admit how much it bothered her.

“What do you want, Lucifer?” The question was asked before she even had a chance to knock on the door. The younger hunter opened the door, tired eyes settled in a firm glare on her.

“To talk.”

“I’m not going to play this game with you. You swore you’d never lie. What do you want?”

Lucifer crossed her arms over her chest, smiled slyly at the hunter. Despite herself, she didn’t feel the emotion she tried to put behind it.

“A favor.”

“I’m not doing any favors for you, Lucifer.”

“Please?” Sam glared in response, “Sam, I can’t believe I’m doing this but I’m asking you. I need you to do something, something simple. It won’t harm you, it won’t hurt-”

“You want to possess me so you can make Michael jealous.” Lucifer clamped her mouth shut, looked down at the floor. “You’re acting like middle schoolers, Lucifer. I’m not going to throw myself into the fire to help. I owe you nothing and I’m not willing to risk my life for this.”

“Michael wouldn’t kill you.” Lucifer stepped back, spread her arms to the side. “I’m not asking for sex or a date. I’m asking for a lie. I want to prove something to him that he won’t get through his thick skull. If I’m right, if your reaper friend is wrong, I don’t want to spend my last days in an argument with him.” Sam pursed his lips, stared at her hard enough that it felt as though his eyes were burning through her grace. Every instinct wanted her to yell at him, demand he stop looking at her like that.

She didn’t.

Instead she shut her eyes, unfurled her wings and let her tails fall into existence, spread her entire ethereal form from its confines. While she knew full well Sam couldn’t see her- not really, she knew there was a limited perception. An awareness that no one but her True Vessel could comprehend.

She was laying herself vulnerable and bare to the man that had singlehandedly altered their destinies.

Lucifer regretted nothing.

“Every instinct I have is telling me to tell you to fuck off. You’re the devil. I shouldn’t trust you.”

“I know.”

“But… damn it. If I do this for you, if I do. You can’t tell Dean. He’s stressing too much over things we can’t fix. It’s not worth it to worry him more.”

Secrets would be the eventual downfall of the brothers. It was the ultimate, inevitable outcome. Something that had been building up for years. It wasn’t destiny, it wasn’t fate, it was just their mutually assured destruction. Their own self-inflicted curse.

The inability to let go.

So maybe they weren’t too far off. Considering the circumstances.

“Dean won’t know. I’d rather not have your brother pissed at me for possessing you again.”

Sam stared at her for a long moment and she knew there was something else. A detail the younger hunter was leaving out.

“What’s the other part of the deal, Sam?”

“When I ask you a question, after this is over, you have to answer it. No evasions, no tricks or refusal. I get one answer it a question that I specify as the question for our deal.”

Lucifer was certain she knew what this was about and… damn it.

That wasn’t supposed to be an option. If she lay it out, if she spoke a word of it to the younger brother he would make sure he did it and there wouldn’t be any coming back from it.

Maybe there was more to her plan than she was willing to let on. Because it was true… in a way. Lucifer did care for Sam. Even when she’d still been on the dark path to fight Michael, to likely die at his hands, she’d cared about Sam’s well-being. The morality in the doing was questionable. The way she’d gone about ‘helping him’ back then had been… well she’d been a dick. But she’d been right.

Or desperate.

Now… now it was a problem. It wasn’t about letting her baby brother give up his grace for her happiness. Now it was a matter of letting her True Vessel make a choice- because he would make that choice. The kind of choice that would effectively break any fragile truce that her and Michael made with them.

But why did this matter more than the fate of a brother she had loved since the Dawn of Creation?

Ah hell.

Not that she’d ever admit to being wrong. There was no way in Heaven or Hell she would ever admit that.

“Sam…”

“I’m not stupid. I’m clearer than I’ve ever been. You’re keeping something from me, something that will solve our predicament. I can read you and when you’re nervous, your wings show.”

Lucifer’s mouth clamped shut.

“That’s the deal, Lucifer. This or deal with your fucked up relationship on your own. Or, you know, drop the drama and accept that Michael’s got Adam. I don’t care either way.”

“Adam is an arrogant little prick,” Sam gave her a look that said he agreed, but he didn’t care. “Damn it. Fine. Sam, fine but- we will find another option. There is an alternative.”

“What do you need me to do?” Sam ignored the statement sending all kinds of warning signals through her grace.

Damn it.

“I need you to let me possess you, to go along with whatever I say.”

“Fine. Yes.” There was a certain detachment from the word, nowhere near the genuine meaning and confidence that had been behind the word all those years ago. It was a statement. A means to an end. Was this how Sam had been after Castiel ripped his body from the Cage without his soul?

Lucifer didn’t like it. Even as she slipped from the body she’d been using since she touched back down on Earth, she didn’t like it. Sam’s body… it was like coming home. It was built perfectly for her, held her grace in a way no other Vessel could.

It was also different now. Sam’s soul was different. As her grace flooded its new home that soul reached out, latched onto his soul and she knew she was fucked.

"Sam's absorbing grace. His soul is. The sections The Empty took. It's repairing itself." Gabriel’s warning from what felt like a lifetime ago echoed through his mind. His own arrogant response.

"If it was another human with another angel, we might need to be concerned. I'm not one at risk of the folly of a bond. If it's my grace it'll repair him. It may make him more susceptible to my thoughts and feelings but that would be it."

Unless he flooded both of their systems. Shit.

Sam’s soul wrapped around his grace, curled into the contact.

‘Lucifer.’

She swallowed, ground her teeth together. Bonds didn’t work like magic. They weren’t some miracle romance- unless there was weakness, vulnerability.

A chance.

Sam’s mind was overwhelmed, latched onto her, and Lucifer couldn’t help but expose herself.

Shit.

It had never been like that. Sam had been a tool, a means to an end. A meatshield for when Michael decided to violently murder her. There was never supposed to be more to this. Never.

So why did she let it happen? Why did she wholeheartedly accept it when Sam’s soul wrapped around hers, when her grace went out and flooded the soul of the hunter.

Lucifer could all but hear Gabriel’s mocking “told you so” because she’d known better. And she’d forgotten. The risk had always been there.

“I shouldn’t have done this.” Lucifer blinked several times, knelt down to touch the face of the Vessel that she’d been altering for weeks.

Changing to look like anything but a Winchester.

“Sam. You’re going to hate me.”

‘I’ve never hated you.’ The bitter truth of those words resounded through his grace, coming from a soul level. The hunter speaking from the rawest depths of his soul. Undeniable truth.

A level of truth that Lucifer was nowhere near prepared for.

‘What is happening, Lucifer? I feel… off.’

“I fucked up.” She laughed, sharp and bitter. “Oh, Sammy. I fucked up. I made such a mistake. I never should have done this.”

‘Lucifer?’

“Michael’s going to hate this one. Fuck.”

‘What are you talking about?’

“Pry.” Lucifer muttered, fluffing out her wings and sighing as her tail twitched. “You know how this works.”

‘I don’t remember.’ Frowning, Lucifer tilted her head, pressed the needed memory against Sam’s mind. While her memory was completely accurate, she could feel the broken and flawed ones in Sam’s recollection. Sam’s memories of the possession were faded… ‘A bond?’

“Yes.” Lucifer responded, sat down against the wall.

‘Are you going to explain it to me?’

“Do I have to?”

‘I need you to.’ A long moment of silence stretched between them and Lucifer felt the faint poking and prodding in her mind as Sam’s unexperienced mind reached into hers. Tried to grab the information he wanted. ‘Lucifer, I don’t understand.’

“Really wish I’d had some warning about this.” Lucifer knelt down, lifted her other body and carried it to the bed. “Or been smart enough to see the signs.”

‘Tell me.’

“It’s something that I’ve only ever shared with Michael,” Lucifer admitted, breathed deeply through her nose. “It’s… technically angelic marriage?” Sighing, Lucifer sat down. “But it can’t be done unless it’s reciprocated feelings. There has to be something for it to form.”

‘What are you saying, Lucifer?’ Despite the wariness there was a wave of understanding the crossed Sam’s soul, flooded her grace.

“Lot of heart there, Sam. Glad to know you share with me.”

‘Fuck you.’

“Seems to be your idea here.”

‘Lucifer.’

“Probably not romantic if that makes you feel any better.” Possibly. “When a mommy angel and a daddy angel love each other really much…”

‘Lucifer!’

“I’m trying here. You’ve got to give me a minute. I’m trying to wrap my head around this.”

A moment of silence fell as Lucifer did just that. As she tried to fully grasp what exactly this meant. She knew she wasn’t in love with Sam. Love was complicated, older than time. Love was the undying devotion that he felt for Michael when Michael wasn’t being an arrogant prick.

Damn it.

“A bond is something that’s created between two beings that feel strongly for each other. For angels, it’s a grace connection. For a human and angel, it’s a soul and grace thing. Usually it’s initiated by the angels but your soul latched onto my grace while I was healing you. Gabriel warned me, he saw the beginnings of it. I was stupid, though. I made a mistake and I forgot.” Silence crossed them for a long moment.

‘So…’ The soul pressed against his grace seemed to pull away a bit. ‘What do we do about it?’

“Nothing has to be done. I’m an angel, Sam. It’s always been about consent, choice.”

‘What about you?’

Biting her cheek, Lucifer pressed her face into her palms, breathed in deeply through her nose. “I think I’m not anywhere near being in the right mental state for something like this. I need to deal with Michael.”

‘Then we should worry about that later.’

“Okay.” Lucifer latched onto the out that Sam gave her, “We’ll deal with Michael.” Except he was starting to question the entire purpose of this exercise. With that one, drastic change… maybe it wasn’t about making Michael jealous.

‘You’ve changed your mind.’ Sighing, Lucifer spread her wings, stretched them out.

“Not exactly,” Fluffing her feathers, Lucifer closed her eyes. ‘Hey, Mikey. I want to talk. Meet in our room?’

‘Of course.’ A flap of wings and they were both in the room that Lucifer had been banned from all those years ago. The Fall. Her Fall. When Michael had thrown her from Heaven under God’s orders. Michael was sitting at the foot of the bed, tired and drained. “Back to being a man, Lucifer? Should I worry?” The look Michael gave him was a bit annoyed but other than that his emotions were shielded, wings and tails hidden away. “World ending choices. Or… oh wow.” Michael’s eyes widened, “Are you serious?”

“It wasn’t intentional, Michael.” Lucifer paused, exposing all of her natural form. Every bit of it.

“It never is.” Michael confirmed, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring. “Yet, when my situation with Adam altered, you blamed me. It was my fault. So why should I be okay? Why should I accept that you went off, mated with your damned True Vessel, tell me why it is that I should be fine with this. Tell me why I should forgive you for anything.” Michael shifted, looked away at the wall.

“Both of us are being impossibly stupid.”

“What-“

“Adam is an arrogant, bratty, possessive little asshole.” Lucifer said, bland, straight to the point as Michael shot her an irritated look, “But,” She added, feeling Sam laugh softly from within her as she pressed on, “I guess we can say, you have a type. I’m not proud of what I am. I’m not. But it’s true. I’m willing to… compromise. If you’re willing to see that. Tell me he isn’t being how I am, and I guess I’m wrong. I guess we’re both screwed. I can let myself get consumed by this bond that decided to rear its ugly little head, until Sam ultimately dies.” An unhappy sound came from the hunter he was possessing despite the fact that they both knew that was how this would end. “It’ll be fun. I’ll cope… horribly. But it’ll be where this goes.”

“You’re giving up on me.”

“No.” Lucifer held his gaze, “I’m giving up on me.”

‘Liar.’

“Because if I’m not good enough for you, then I’ll take second rate. You can have your little ape as a present and I’ll deal with it. I love you, Michael. I’ve loved you since the Dawn of Creation but you’re too pigheadedly stubborn to see that and at one point you were willing to kill me for it. I don’t want to make that same mistake twice, so if you’re done. If you think I’m not worth it. Then fine. I’ll let you go- but don’t for a second think that it means I’ll stop loving you because I have never and will never stop.”

Sam was somewhere between laughter and tears within her because he could feel every brush of lie and truth in those words. Sam saw just how genuine some of it was, and how much of it was bullshit just to get a rise out of Michael.

“You are truly an idiot, Lucifer.” Michael hissed softly, wings flaring up behind him as he abandoned the bed, marched across the room and grabbed her by the back of her neck, tilted her head down so they were eye-to-eye. “I hate you.”

Lucifer blinked, hurt clouding through her before a sudden fierce kiss was tugged from her lungs, desperate and needy. Then Michael was stumbling back with an angry snap of his wings. Something flashed through his eyes, that same damned distraction that he’d seen multiple times from Adam and Lucifer wanted to lose control again, throw herself forward and rip that damned brat out of the other archangel.

Until Sam nudged at her, warned her without words.

Lucifer swallowed, wiped at the saltwater that trickled from the corner of her eyes.

‘Let me talk to my brother.’

Lucifer relinquished control willingly, without much thought in the action. Then Sam was in control and she was free for a moment as Sam stepped forward, grabbed Michael by the shoulder and met his gaze as he looked them in the eye.

There was a strange sort of satisfaction when Sam punched him, hard enough that if she hadn’t been possessing him he would’ve broken every bone in his hand.

“Samuel.” Michael warned, wiping the grace tinted blood from his nose. “This doesn’t concern you.”

“I want to talk to my brother.” Such a simple statement full of hostility and a dangerous warning. “Now, Michael.”

And to her surprise, Michael did as told. Michael nodded faintly and suddenly it wasn’t Michael anymore but the bratty little child that she’d protected for years in Hell.

“Sam.”

“Adam, I know you hate my guts.” The youngest brother glared back, “And you have every damned right. But this is bullshit and you know it. You’re acting like you are twelve, and newsflash. You’re not. You’re thousands of fucking years old and if anyone should see it, it’s you. You’re trying to destroy a relationship as old as time. Are you honestly that selfish? That childish?”

“You don’t understand, Sam-“

“bolape aziazor elasa barinu adagita ge ta elasa iaid adagita!” Adam recoiled at the Enochian, glared at his brother. “Or, in big brother terms. Grow the fuck up.”

“They’re unhealthy for each other.” Adam said pitifully and Sam scoffed, crossed their arms over their chest. “Sam, you have to-“

“The Apocalypse was brought on by their last damned breakup. And newsflash, kid. You start another one of those? You’re going to be the first one we kill.”

“You started the last one.” Adam pointed out and Sam shrugged, mouth twisting uncomfortably when he openly pulled the information from Lucifer’s memories.

“Yeah. I did. Difference is, I was useful to stop it. I did stop it. You telling me you’re going to throw Michael back in the Cage to keep him from destroying the damned planet? The answer is no. You won’t. So, it’s time to make a choice. Are you willing to be the martyr for the end of the world just because you’re being an arrogant little brat? Or are you going to grow up? Be an adult?”

Adam stared at them, glared more like it. “She’s wearing you.”

“Yes. She is. And she has me for as long as she wants.”

Adam made a very childish face. “We’re blood.”

“For fuck’s sake, Adam.” Then Sam stepped forward, gripped the younger brother by his hair and pulled his head back enough that Sam could plant his lips over the younger boy’s. Adam made a squealing sound of protest as he struggled against Sam and Lucifer couldn’t help but burst into a fit of giggling from within. It was childish and immature considering the context but she honestly couldn’t help it. Sam had done something she had honestly never expected and Adam’s dumbfounded and furious look when they pulled apart. When the younger brother spat on the floor and shoved Sam back.

“You’re sick.”

“No. I’m tired, Adam. I’m really really tired and you need to stop thinking about your body as just yours because you’re willingly housing an Archangel. Next time Lucifer tries to kill you? I’m not going to stop her. So, grow up. Get over it. Or die.”

“Michael wouldn’t forgive her.”

“She doesn’t need him, Adam. She wants him, but she doesn’t need him. And if you make him happy, I’m inclined to think that Lucifer will let it go. But if you don’t take care of him? If you’re an emotionally abusive dick? I doubt she’s going to leave it.”

Adam flinched, looked away.

“Let it go, Adam. Let them be.”

“I don’t want to.” Adam’s shoulders slumped. “Sam, I don’t.”

“It’s not about what you want. It’s a shared experience and it’s hell. But Michael obviously cares about your stubborn ass, probably loves it, but he loves Lucifer too. You are actually out egoing the actual Devil, Adam. The posterchild of narcissism. The origins to the damned disorder. So do the entire planet a favor and get over it. Accept it for what it is.”

Adam took a step back, sat on the foot of the bed as he clearly gave up control.

“Thank you, Samuel.”

“It’s Sam.” Sam corrected, crossing their arms over their chest.

“Sam.”

“The same goes for you, Michael. If you love Lucifer, you need to show her that. This is bullshit. Adam is being an ass.”

“I know.” Michael bowed his head, “I know I’ve been… unreasonable. I just keep worrying that she’s going to turn back and… you’re right, Sam. I’m sorry.”

“Holding her past against her isn’t going to help, you ass. If anyone has any reason in the God damned world not to trust her it’s me. Yet, here I am with some weird ass angel bond on my soul. So, do us all a favor. Get over yourself. I honestly think you should kick my asshole brother to the curb but that’s just me.” Actually it wasn’t Sam. As Lucifer listened to Sam speak she caught on that she was directly pulling at his thoughts for the knowledge. It was a mixture of the both of them.

We are so screwed.

“You’re changed, Sam. This bond is changing you.”

“Or maybe it’s saving me.” Sam countered, “I’m falling apart, Michael. Quite literally.”

“I’d be careful. You’re bonded with her. You can’t forget who she can be.” Which was admittedly true. To an extent.

“I’m well aware, Michael. Are you?”

“More than you can ever know.” Pause, “Can I can talk to her?”

Sam drew back and Lucifer retook control of the body, crossed her arms over her chest and laughed softly, shook her head.

“You really have made a mess, Lucifer.”

“It’s what I do best.” Pausing, she looked away. “I need your decision Michael.”

“It’s you.” Lucifer looked up as Michael came up to her, grabbed her hands and stretched his wings forward until the tips were brushing the ends of hers. “Always you, aziazor.

“What about that?” There was no hostility to the question as she leaned into the contact, breathing deeply as she tried to not get lost in the contact.

Michael touched her face. “Is he staying?”

“Since I already screwed up I’m going to keep him for now. Long enough to let my grace patch his soul.”

“And how is Dean going to feel about this?”

“Honestly? I don’t give a damn what he thinks. Sam’s dying.”

‘Nice to know you care.’

“Shut up,” Lucifer scowled, “You didn’t answer my question, Michael.”

“Look at me.” Frowning, Lucifer looked at the other archangel, eyes widening when she realized what she was seeing. “I can see him in his Heaven. And Lucifer- you need to do the same. If we’re throwing away what Dean wants, you need to consider this fact.”

“Heaven will destroy him.”

‘Lucifer.’

“I know, Sam.” She grimaced as Sam nudged the reminder at her, the memory of their deal crawling forward to the front of her mind. “I made a deal with him… I need that book, Michael.”

Michael frowned, shook his head. “No.”

“Yes. That was our deal. Sam wants to know the one that wasn’t an option.”

“You know what-“

“I know.” Lucifer bit back, wings flaring slightly with her irritation. “But I don’t lie to him, Michael. I made a deal and I’m keeping it.”

“This is a truly bad idea.” Even then, Michael waved his hand and a book manifested within his hands. “Sam, I want you to understand that there is another option. We just need time.”

‘I need my body back, Lucifer.’

Swallowing heavily, she nodded and spread her wings, gripped Michael’s shoulder and flew them back to the middle Winchester’s bedroom. Michael set the book on the foot of the bed as Lucifer walked over to her alternative Vessel.

‘You’re acting like this is going to end the world.’

“No. I’m just being truly selfish. In another world, if I was willing to lie to you… I wouldn’t do this. I would take that book and I would burn it up to never be used.”

“It can’t be burned.” Michael spoke up. “I tried to, when I found it. I knew the most likely outcome and I wanted to protect him- not for him but in the off chance that we found a way to repair Gabriel’s connection.”

Lucifer laughed softly, shook her head. “That’s a strange place to place your faith, Michael.” Then she left Sam, slipped between the two forms and left the near perfect body Sam was for her.

Surprise flooded her when she opened her eyes to see hazel staring into hers, lips pressed against hers where she knew she hadn’t left them moments before. Her breathing caught for a moment before she returned the oddly chaste kiss from the hunter.

It felt an awful lot like a goodbye.

When Sam pulled away Lucifer carefully pushed up on the bed, looked over at Michael who had a carefully concealed look of jealous on his face.

“You were in my head.” Sam nodded and she grimaced. “You didn’t need the book.”

“You gave me free reign to your head. I know why you didn’t want me to know.”

“You’re going to do it.”

“It’s the only option, Lucifer. Every moment that we don’t do this, every moment that we leave Hell in this state it is, we’re putting a strain on the Veil.”

And she couldn’t argue because these were thoughts pulled directly from her head. The things she’d been thinking about for a while now.

“So the question is, are you going to help me? Or are you going to go back to Heaven with Michael?”

“You’re a real comedian, Sam.” Lucifer laughed without the emotion she wanted to muster, “Really funny if you think we’re going to let you kill yourself without us getting to witness it.” When she smiled, it was meant to come off as a slightly feral one, like there wasn’t a damned bond between them and like everything hadn’t gotten significantly more complicated just in time for it to blow up.

She was certain by the looks she received that it was not what she tried to show.

“Do you still have the Colt?” Lucifer asked instead of stressing over it.

“Not that I remember.” Sam admitted, crossed his arms over his chest. “Can we open a hellgate without it?”

“Not without Kevin Tran.” Lucifer responded. “You do understand what this means, right?”

“Either way I’m going to have to deal with Dean.”

“Not exactly,” Michael admitted with a sigh. “There’s another way to access a gate.”

“What?”

“Gabriel showed me.” Sam and Lucifer looked at him and he made a face. “I didn’t think it would be relevant.”

“Gabriel knew about the spell then.”

“It was his book.”

Lucifer hated this. She hated it as much as she hated God. Bowing her head, Lucifer didn’t even look up when a calloused hand curled around hers. “Then I guess we should do this.”

“I guess so.”

Dean was going to be pissed.

Lucifer didn’t blame him one bit.

Chapter Text

Dean stared at the pile of clothes next to the bed, his gaze flicking to the empty bottle of Jack and the tousled mess of hair that was lightly snoring on half of the crappy queen mattress.

“Just a drink, Squirrel.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes you can. I’ve watched you drink half your weight. You’re being difficult.”

“Or I’m being smart.”

“Smart doesn’t suit you,” The bottle was waved, enticing and inviting. Liquid sloshing back and forth…

“Sam was wrong. You aren’t scared, you’re taking advantage. Which I’m fine with. Less complicated but way I see it, you’re in more danger with us than away from us. Demons are all locked up, Gabe left you some papers… make a life, Crowley. Do some good, teach kids or some crap.” The drunk man didn’t answer as he dropped the wad of cash on the yellow envelope filled with a false life. A fresh start. One of the weirder things that Gabriel had left behind.

“You didn’t have to sleep with him,” Jo mused from behind him and he bristled a bit. Something about Jo bothered him, something he couldn’t place. A niggling sensation of… get her away from me. Threat. Danger. Lighting up all of his senses.

“Love em and leave em.” Dean muttered, grabbing his duffle and heading for the door. Jo sidestepped as he brushed past her.

“You didn’t love me,” Jo countered with little venom, maybe a bit of resentment, as she followed him out to Baby.

“I also didn’t leave you. I got you killed.”

“Which makes it better?” There was a heavy tone of bitterness behind the words, something that told him she wasn’t okay with what had happened.

“It makes it different, Jo. And you’re acting like what’s between me and him is anything like what was between us,” He dropped the bag in the trunk, closing it and walking around to the driver’s side.

“’What was between us’?” She parroted back, the words coming off more like a question than a statement. Like she couldn’t understand what he meant by that, like they were virtual strangers. Maybe they were. It had been years. “We were friends, Dean. Then you let me die. I still remember the feeling, you know?”

“Jo- we tried.” That wound was so old but it still felt fresh, or maybe it was every damned thing else. On top of it all, there was this. And she was right. They’d failed her. “You’re one in a hundred other screwups that I wish I could fix but I can’t.”

“No, you can’t.” Then he was alone. Maybe it was better that way.

.-~*~-.

For someone that didn’t want to be found, he was in a pretty domestic location. It was an older suburban layout and the third door he knocked on left him face to face with Linda Tran.

To say she wasn’t happy to see him? It was slightly an understatement. Being drenched with a Super Soaker full of holy water -and was that borax?- was a new one. The angry yelling from Kevin? Not so much.

“He’s gone, Kev and we need your help.”

“What do you mean he’s gone?”

“Crowley,” Dean gave the younger man a look as they let him through the door if not for anything than to hide the inevitable blowup from their neighbors. “He turned on us so we had to kill him. I’m sorry. You were right and after everything we shouldn’t ask but we have to. You’re all we’ve got.”

“No.”

“Kevin-”

“If my son says no, he means no.”

Dean looked over at the woman, not really wanting to pick a fight with the woman. Knowing her as he did… yeah, that wasn’t a fun prospect. But they didn’t have a lot of options either.  “I know we screwed your life up, but I’m begging you. It’s not a prophet thing, it’s a human thing-”

“Then you can deal with it.”

“I’m not human,” Which he still wasn’t sure what meant. If he wasn’t human, what exactly was he? A Vessel? How was he not human? It made sense that Sam wasn’t with the demon blood and all that crap but there was a lot of questions with his position in those regards.

“What do you mean you aren’t human?”

“I mean I’m not human. I don’t know the specifics but I can’t read the damned book. We’re kinda low on human options, Kev. No more tablet, hell you don’t even have to leave. I’ve got the damned book with me.” Dean reached into the stupid briefcase that he’d been carrying around, pulling the leatherbound book from it and offering it to the kid who stared at the pages.

“Is this a joke?” Linda asked, Kevin staring at the book with a frown on his face.

“What?”

“It’s blank,” Kevin stated flatly as Linda took it.

“No, it’s not.” She corrected him.

“What does it say?”

“It says, ‘Dean Winchester’.” Dean blinked as she opened the book. She flipped through the pages for a few seconds before stopping on one, “’You never should have trusted her. After all, she is mine.’” Panic began to claw at his gut and he reached into his pocket, pulling his phone out and dialing out on his brother’s number as Linda flipped through some more pages, “’Leaving your brother was the stupidest thing you ever could have done. Not when desperation is what led you here to begin with. Your brother is going to die, Dean. He will die and I will be free’.”

“Answer the damned phone,” Dean bit out when he was met with his brother’s voicemail.

“What is this?”

“Jo!” Dean demanded angrily, turning and storming out the front door.

“Dean.” She appeared on the hood of Baby, tilting her head and watching him as he threw the door open.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing,” She said, just loud enough he could hear her through the glass as he turned the car on. “Just what I needed to.” She was in the passenger seat now and he was slamming on the gas, flooring it.

“You aren’t Jo.”

“Actually… I am. I just have different loyalties than I did before.” She disappeared as he attempted to throw a punch into the passenger seat and he scowled, dialing out again.

Pick up, Sam.

“Lucifer! Michael! Asses! What in the fuck are you doing with my brother!”

No one answered, his phone ended up ringing with Cas sprawled across the screen.

.-~*~-.

The pile of materials was the kind of stuff that he never would have been able to gather in other circumstances, most of the items consisting of weird things like ‘the heart of a hellhound’ and ‘ash of a Fallen’. There was also a disturbing request for about a gallon of demon blood that Sam had fortunately gathered and locked in a mini fridge before they closed Hell.

He honestly wished he could say he didn’t understand his own intentions behind that particular stunt.

“It really wants one of my feathers?” Lucifer muttered something under his breath in Enochian before waving his hand, a familiar feather appearing in the container on the table.

Lucifer’s.

His fingers twitched involuntarily against the urge to touch it. “Dean’s calling again, Sam.”

“Cas probably called,” Originally they’d gone to Ruby and Meg for the blood but when the demons -and ex-angel- learned what the plan was, they’d flipped out on him and Lucifer had ended up taking them away before they could do something stupid.

“You aren’t going to answer?”

No. “Not yet. I’ll call him when everything’s ready.”

“Sam-”

“We’ve talked about this.” The spell to fix everything. Something so stupidly simple yet impossible. The number of specific perfect details that would have had to come into place to allow them to be here?

Nearly impossible.

“Do you think Father knew we would end up here?” Michael broke an awkward silence as he set a vial of his Grace in the pile, 'essence of God's first'.

“Michael-”

“It had to be Him that created this spell. And if it wasn’t then it was Her. Either way, the chance that all of these pieces were in place? You know it is unlikely.”

“I don’t want to imagine that this was part of God’s plan, Michael. Maybe it was part of a contingency that was part of a contingency but we just don’t know. What I do know is God’s plans end with one of us killing the other, they always have.”

“I wouldn’t kill you.” Michael said with a certain level of conviction that caused Sam to pause in his counting of harpy teeth, his gaze moving to the Archangel that was staring at Lucifer with a mournful look on his face.

“If everything blows up, I can’t promise you anything, Michael. You know that as well as I do.”

Actions controlled by fate. Fighting tooth and nail to be her own person while God tried to beat her into submission. By any means necessary. Except she wasn’t His son and she was her own person. She had to be. Sam shook his head, pushing back Lucifer’s memory and ignoring the heartache that came with it.

“I like to imagine you can push past your nature.”

“It’s not about nature. It’s about your Father being a dick.” The fact that Michael didn’t retaliate said mountains about the change of his views of God, ‘the good son’.

“Do you have the ash of a Fallen, Lucifer?” Sam cleared his throat and she looked over at him.

“I had to loot Heaven’s graveyard for it, but yes.” Lucifer pulled a vial of ash from her pocket, setting it with the rest of the ingredients. “Is that everything?”

“You don’t have to do this, Sam.” Lucifer tried again and he gave her a hard look, borderline pleading. Don’t keep asking me. He didn’t have to say those words, her expression giving away that she knew what he meant.

“He’s the only one that can,” Michael added, crossing the space between him and Lucifer to wrap an arm around her shoulder.

“I’m dying either way,” Sam said quietly, “You’ve tried. Gabriel tried. We know where this ends, though and it’s definitely not with me alive or even intact. I am going to be destroyed. At least this way my death will be good for something. Besides, Lucifer. You’ve already decided I’m as good as dead.”

“It’s more complicated than that,” Lucifer scowled.

“I was in your head.”

“But you’re human.”

Sam smiled grimly, gave the Archangel a long look. “Human means I’ve got a whole lot more control over my emotions than you, not to mention the understanding.”

“Sam- there is always a way to correct something that’s broken.”

“There’s no correcting this. Lucifer, I remember more of your life than I remember of my own. I don’t remember my father’s face, my mother. I don’t even know their names. But I remember Michael, I remember the birth of the damned stars and solar system. I have a very vivid recollection of driving an Archangel blade through Gabriel’s heart but I can’t remember what I did a year ago. I’m falling apart and the only piece of hope I have left is that maybe Hela was right and choosing the right damned afterlife will help me.”

“I… hope you’re right too.”

.-~*~-.

Ruby had appeared in he passenger seat a solid minute after Cas had called to tell him that Sam was doing some ritual to open Hell. She was lounged back with a box of French fries, eating them like there wasn’t something screwed up happening.

“I only got a glimpse. Lucifer wasn’t exactly revealing the details, just told us that he’d need to drain me or Meg. You know Sam has a demon blood stash?”

“Ruby.” He had known about the stash. It was one of those things that had been on a solid 'we don’t discuss this, okay?' when Sam was doing the trials.

“From the way they were talking, it’s a big ticket spell. Especially given the circumstances.”

“But you didn’t see the ingredients.”

“It’s old. Pre cuniform. Your boyfriend could probably read it if he held onto that nifty array of information but it’s definitely too dated for me. The book was ratty though, looked like it had been dropped in a blender, burned up, maybe dipped in acid. It’s old.”

“Damn it!” Dean smacked the steering wheel when the phone went to voicemail again. “If you have ever cared, Ruby. Get back in there. Banish them.”

“Do you honestly think I didn’t try? Lucifer has that whole place warded to the brim. Nothing gets in.”

“Where’s Cas?”

“Him and Meg are safe. If anything goes wrong I’ve got this,” She held up a familiar coin he’d seen countless witches use. “I also did something when Michael drug us away. Michael keeps going to Wyoming.”

“Do you mean-”

“Yes. The Devil’s Gate. My guess is that the spell has to be done at a physical portal. You should be there in thirty minutes.”

And sure enough, when he focused fully on the road he had been soaring down for the last hour it was nowhere near the same, the entire layout dramatically changed.

They were in Wyoming.

“I paid attention when Crowley brought us to Heaven, altered the details a bit. Don’t forget I was a witch before I became a demon.”

And he had. Considering everything surrounding the demon, most of it had been easier to forget as the world tried to end over and over again.

“But you couldn’t get Cas here?”

“I’m not an angel and this spell isn’t exactly easy. This is the more important place to be.”

He hated when she was right. He hated her. But unlike when he first saw her again… he didn’t want her dead. As much as he hated it, Cas' weird poly relationship with the two demons was probably the most stable and healthy thing that had come from all of this. As creepy as it was, Cas was happy with Ruby and Meg.

And that? That was something he never would have thought would be an idea in his brain.

He flicked the radio on, humming along with For Whom the Bell Tolls as it kicked to life on his radio.

Sam wasn’t going to answer his phone. But that didn’t stop him from trying.

.-~*~-.

Lucifer watched Sam trifle through ingredients, checking time and time again to make sure that the amount was perfect, acting at the efficiency that Lucifer had taught the first witch all those years ago. Not too much, not too little. Less is never more.

Don’t forget to have your sacrifice prepared.

The phone rang again and she slipped out of the room, grabbing it off the table as she went.

“You promised.” Michael caught her in the hall, fingers curling around her wrist and tail gripping him by the ankle.

“It’s going to kill him, Mikey. He’s going to die and Dean’s going to believe it was all my damned idea.”

“Give me the phone.” He ordered, snatching the metal from her fingers and tapping the answer button before it could stop ringing. “I didn’t promise,” He muttered as way of explanation.

“Sam- Sammy!” There was commotion as the radio in the background was shut off, the sound dying sharply and suddenly.

“It’s not Sam.” Michael’s words were calmer than they had any right to be, like Michael wasn’t as bothered by this situation as she was. Like he was fine with everything. There was enough of a change here, though. Michael cared because she cared.

“Where the fuck is my brother you son of a bitch-”

“Lay off him, Dean.” Lucifer growled out and the hunter scoffed audibly.

“Cas told me what you’re doing. The spell that required a gallon of demon blood. Tell me, Lucifer. What’s the price? What is he going to lose for this?”

“His life.” The words fell flat between them. Her voice had cracked on the word, her heart aching just a bit as she thought about it again. A constant loop in her brain. Something she had been forced to do.

“No.”

“This spell has to be performed by the one that closed the gates. It has to be him, Dean and trust me. This isn’t something I would ever wish on him-”

“Like I’m supposed to believe that? You’re-”

“Dean, stop.”

“Fuck off, Ruby.”

“Remember what I told you all those years ago? You thought I was being blind or stupid. Lucifer doesn’t lie, though. And he always wanted to reward Sam for what he did. I knew his plans from the very beginning. I knew more than Alistair or Lilith even knew.”

Ruby cried out as the wheels on the car echoed across the line and Lucifer felt the panicked prayer of ‘good luck’ coming from Ruby as she likely disappeared from the car. There was a long moment of car tires squealing and gravel being cut through from the line before it disappeared and she suspected he’d dropped it on the floor.

“I’m done, Lucifer. You swore you were going to help us.”

“I am helping. I don’t like to lie, Dean and this is me keeping that vow. I swore I wouldn’t stop him and I won’t start lying now. There’s more though. I’m going to let him because I know that he’s right. Either way, he will die. That is the downfall of the situation we are in. Your brother is dying, Dean. You have to accept that fact. Either way, it will happen.”

“The next time I see you, Lucifer. I will kill you.”

The line went dead and she closed her eyes. There was no right here, no wrong decision. There was inevitability. The constant dragging draw of something terrible will happen sooner or later. And she loathed that. There was nothing in her power that could save Sam Winchester.

Her True Vessel would die and she couldn’t help him.

“Dean will forgive you sooner or later.”

“Dean Winchester’s forgiveness is not something I will ever need. It’s just going to be grating to have him trying to kill me.”

“Lucifer!” Turning her head, she shoved the phone back into Michael’s hand before making her way back to the warroom. Sam was leaning over the table with the assortment of ingredients.

“Is that bowl maple?”

“Yes, and the spoon is made of a walnut branch. I just need you to bless them both.”

“It might be wiser to have Michael bless it. I’m a Fallen and the spell specifically asks for the blessing of an angel of Heaven.”

“I don’t know if I fall under the category of an angel of Heaven. Lucifer is the current ruler of Heaven, not me. I think you can bless it.”

“We can only do this spell once, Michael. We can’t work with maybes.”

“Have Haraliel come bless it. She hates me and wants Heaven back to the way it was during the Apocalypse. You can’t get much closer to a loyal servant of Heaven than that.”

Michael snapped his fingers and a small woman appeared in front of them, blinking and whipping her heads towards him as her wings flared up behind her. “What do you want of me, Michael?”

“We’re opening Hell. You need to bless those.”

“And why would I do that?”

Lucifer stepped up on her and reached behind her, grabbing her by the base of her wings and yanking her off the ground. The young angel wailed, glasses shattering around them as Sam threw his hands over his ears. “Because we asked,” Lucifer bit out, tails twitching behind him as he leaned into her ear. “And you would do wise to remember who you’re talking to.”

“Fine,” Haraliel was panting when he dropped her to the floor, gasping sharp inhalations of breath as tears poured down her cheeks, wings quivering as her tails wrapped around her legs. “I hope you pay for your sins, Lucifer.”

“I’m sure I will, but not before you live to watch me rise.” Haraliel’s third head moved to bare teeth at him as she rose to her feet slowly, human head looking towards the bowl and mixing spoon Sam had.

quooiape de ge amayo oi larianu totza ta t I ozien” The blessing was half-hearted at best but the flash of Grace that flooded the materials was real and knowing this angel, the way she saw the world, it was more than sufficient.

Which meant there was only one thing left. The Devil’s Gate.

.-~*~-.

Dean pulled the Impala to the side of the cemetery where Sam was kneeling outside of the crypt, Lucifer perched on a gravestone and Michael standing behind her.

“Dean.” Lucifer greeted him without turning around, a strange energy filling the air with a thick almost watery substance.

Sam didn’t even look at him as he continued to cut sigils into the dirt around him. There was a bowl in front of him with varying ingredients littered around it.

“Sam.”

“Dean.” His brother sighed softly, a breath of detached acknowledgement that made him sick to his stomach. “What’re you doing here?”

“You’re joking, right?”

“This is going to happen. It has to happen, Dean. I need to fix my mistake.” The look in Sam’s eyes was that same desperate one that he’d had when finishing the trials. A need to atone, a desperate desire for things to get better.

How could he ever say no? How could he agree when Sam was slated for death? Those eyes, wide and desperate as the puppy he was inside.

Jo.

He didn’t know how Jo tied into any if this. There was something wanting this to happen, malevolent and taunting him from likely the depths of Hell.

“Lucifer… that book. The one I had Kevin and his mom look at. You couldn’t look at it?”

“No. What did it say?”

“It told me what was happening here. It was why I was heading to the Bunker before Ruby changed my course. Something knew what Sam’s plan was.”

“Hell is filled with nephilim. It was likely one of mine taunting you. We’re prepared to slaughter them. The armies of Heaven are prepared to descend down on them the moment the gates open.”

“You know… I can’t remember Dad or Mom really. I’ve lost so many memories it isn’t funny. But, Dean. I remember you. You’re the person that has always been there, even when I was angry and didn’t want you there. You raised me, you saved my life time and time again. But, this time? It can’t happen. You can’t save me. I’m dying either way. I need a semblance of myself left in tact when I’m gone. Let me die doing the right thing. Please, Big Brother.”

Dean swallowed heavily before stepping forward and wrapping his overgrown little brother in a firm hug, the air seeming to clear around them as though a measurable tension had faded. Everything was wrong. Things were about to change forever. There were no redos. No backup plans or angelic resurrections to save him. If there were, Lucifer and Michael would have told him. They wouldn’t have hidden it. As much as he hated it, he knew that was the answer.

Sam would die.

As he released his little brother he stepped back out of the circle, watching Sam as he worked with the spell ingredients carefully, all the precision of a witch without the deal to back it. Lucifer moved off the grave at one point to pace the edge of the circle, her posture tense and stiff and eyes rimmed red.

As much as he wanted to ask, he didn’t dare open that can of worms because he couldn’t bear knowing the answer of what he had subconsciously suspected since her return.  

“I never thought I’d come back here.” Ruby’s arrival was sudden but not completely unexpected and Dean glanced over to see that she was in fact with Cas and Meg.

The ex-angel said nothing as he stepped forward, kneeling before the circle and touching his fingers to the runes.

“These look like you made them, Lucifer.”

“Did Gabriel warn you?”

“He didn’t need to.” Cas rose to his feet slowly as Sam stepped up to him, gripping his shoulder and looking him over carefully. There was only a faint recognition in his expression, distant. “Sam.”

“Lucifer remembers.” Sam muttered, blinking a bit. “You almost killed her.”

“I wasn’t the only one.” Cas responded and Sam swallowed visibly, releasing the once-angel and stepping back to look at Lucifer. “Is this right?”

“You’ve done well. Don’t go to ours. It will shred you.”

“Hela warned me.” Sum muttered, looking at Dean one last time. “Goodbye, Dean.”

“Bye, Sammy.”

Then Sam was kneeling by his bowl and carefully adding the bottled Grace, the air flickering to life around them with a static electricity as Sam began to chant softly, words at first coming off as forced and unnatural before twisting to something different. His voice began to come off as more fluid, natural and unyielding as the air around him seemed to flicker with white hot energy that started to look like…

Fire.

The air was catching fire and Sam was in the middle, still chanting. Dean opened his mouth to warn him, to say something. Anything. But he words stuck in his throat, unable to escape. His body was frozen too and all he could do was watch in horror ad the fire become stronger and stronger just inside the circle.

Even as the fire grew hotter and Sam’s skin began to heat up and boil in front of him, starting to tear off and slough off the skin turned to muscle to bones the chanting never subsided.

Dean never felt the heat.

By the end of it, a skeleton stood amidst the flame, heart beating in the center of it’s frame as everything around it burned. The words echoed through his skull, on a constant horrible repeat as the heart thumped once, twice.

It stopped, glowing bright with red orange energy.

The chanting continued, the charred bones eventually crumbling and collapsing. The heart glowing brighter and brighter.

The chanting kept going.

Something touched him, soft and reassuring. A gently breeze in the air.

The heart erupted in flames, everything dissipating around it in a sudden sharp moment of silence. His ears rang violently, the voice of his brother still burned into his memory as the gate began to creak quietly.

“Dean, we have to move.”

Nothing remained before him but a pile of ash. The image of his brother burning planted firmly in his mind.

“Dean!” He jolted to move, grabbing the Colt from where he’d stashed it on his belt.

The door opened, soft and slow.

Nothing emerged.

His breathing fell rough and ragged as he collapsed to his knees, staring at his brother’s ashes.

Sam… was dead.

Chapter Text

“Lucifer.”

“Aedmiel.” It shouldn’t have been surprising, nothing about it should have been shocking. Yet it was. The spawn of Gabriel’s head fell to the side as she emerged from the inside of the gateway. Dean was rising to his feet slowly, glaring into the Devil’s Gate that they’d been desperate enough to open. And it had worked, even as she stared into the eyes of one of the most dangerous creatures to ever walk the planet. She could feel the reapers moving through the veil, emptying the hellbound souls from where they were trapped. Like it would resolve anything with this creature freed.

“Lucifer, run.”

“I wouldn’t,” Aedmiel warned as Michael began to move forward. It hadn’t been nearly long enough since she felt that energy and many things began to piece themselves together. Sam’s torture, her own lack of it following her return to the Cage.

“Michael,” Lucifer grabbed his wrist. “Don’t.”

“Joanna,” Aedmiel sang softly, the reaper manifesting by her side and dropping to her knees. “You did well, girl.”

“What are we going to do with them?” Jo asked quietly, pressing against Aedmiel’s side and scanning her gaze across them. The look was blind and vacant, only a fraction of emotion in any of her gaze. Now that she was with her captor, the appearance of brainwashing was obvious. Not just brainwashing, though. This was the kind of devotion that was carved out over hundreds of thousands of years of careful reworking. It made a whole hell of a lot more sense than anything else.

Dean turned his back on her, making his way towards the edge of the graveyard.

“Winchester.”

“I’m done.”

“No. You aren’t.”

There was a cloud of silence followed by a solid thud. Lucifer didn’t need to look to know she had knocked Dean Winchester unconscious.

“What do you want, Aedmiel?”

“I want, what I have always wanted. And now? Now it will happen. I am untouchable.”

“You aren’t untouchable. Death-”

“-is dead. You can thank his daughter for that. Then we have God, but he ran away. Auntie resides in her own prison and Mother? Well, Mother sacrificed herself for the world. Something that sealed my fate. Admittedly, I never expected it. I was certain Michael would step forward. But that’s what Uncles are, I suppose. Disappointments.”

“We will destroy you, Aedmiel.”

“Well, Lucifer. I can’t wait to see you try. For now, though… I’m going to have some fun. I’d love to stay and chat but my armies, your children… they’ve got a busy schedule ahead of them.”

“We can’t let you do that.”

“And you’re going to stop me, Lucifer?” Aedmiel raised a challenging brow and she bared her teeth, stepping forward. “You’re weakened. Just like mother was.”

“Lucifer-”

“Nope. We’re going to talk. You, and me. Michael, get Dean out of here. Now.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I’m deadly serious. Let’s dance.” With a final look at Michael, she spread her wings and launched herself at Aedmiel. The collision went just about as good as she’d expected but it did throw Aedmiel off enough that she managed to get them a good thirty miles away before she hit back.

And she hit back hard. There was a moment where she didn’t know where she was, who she was. A single instance of soaring and detachment before she was forced back into her vessel, flat on her back with a blade pressed against her throat.

“Pride never suited you, auntie. It really didn’t.” A cry tore from her throat as the nephalem dropped down onto her, spreading her destroyed wings wide and proud. “Neither did torture. I never forgot what you and Michael did to me. Maybe mother was right, maybe I could’ve been good but the joint force of Heaven and Hell made sure that would never happen.”

“We were wrong, Aedmiel. I know that now. I also know enough to know you have no chance at redemption.”

“What gave you that crazy idea?” The nephalem smiled wickedly, digging the blade further into her throat.

“You don’t want to kill me and you don’t want redemption. What you want is so much simpler, and far worse. Your end… is The End. Us, and everyone else. Everything that’s lived and breathed. But you don’t want it to happen quickly. You want us to watch our worlds burn.”

“Smarter than I remember. I always believed you were just looks.” The blade disappeared and Aedmiel jumped off, stretching out her ragged and broken excuse for wings. In the top right one she recognized something else, small and gleaming silver. Death’s ring. “Go on. Run back to your boyfriend. Me and my girl have things to do.”

“She isn’t your girl.” Aedmiel’s eyes narrowed. “If she was, you wouldn’t have had to brainwash her.” Carefully, he got back on his feet, eyes never leaving Aedmiel’s many sets beneath her disguise. “I’m a monster, Aedmiel. I’ve warped and manipulated the minds of thousands upon thousands of people and if she loved you, if she truly loved you… it wouldn’t be forced. Blind devotion isn’t-”

“I don’t really care what you think, Lucifer. I set her free and she came back. She always will.”

“Because you brainwashed her you arrogant little brat. Blind devotion isn’t love!”

“It’s not about love, you idiot. It’s about loyalty. Joanna will go to the ends of the universe for me and that is the one thing that I need. Not out of love or lust, but because it is what I need. Loyalty is a vitally important asset.”

“Aedmiel, I would’ve thought you were old enough to know better.”

“Coming from the hypocrite of the millennia. I don’t need this.” Then she was gone. Breathing deeply, Lucifer slumped to the ground, curling into Michael’s side when the other Archangel appeared by her.

“How… how is he taking it.”

“Just about as well as a Winchester takes the death of his brother. He stabbed me in the heart and started walking.”

“And you just let him?”

“Your demons and that damned Castiel took him and I was more concerned with you. That was dangerous. She could have-”

“If you believed that for even a moment you wouldn’t have let me go. You know it and I know it.”

Michael didn’t answer.

“She’s going to destroy everything, Heaven… Hell… Earth. All of it will fall under her and… Michael, we can’t stop her.”

“Father could.”

“God abandoned us, Mikey. I doubt he’s coming back. We need to think about it another way.”

“The only other way is Gabriel and Gabriel died human. Even if we could bring him back, it would do us no good. Not without his Grace.”

“What if we don’t kill her?” Lucifer curled her tails around Michael’s ankles and transported them to the Bunker where they were met with the deafeningly loud giggling of two nephilim chasing each other through the front area.

Damn it.

“Father!” The kids squealed simultaneously, barreling up and into Michael’s stunned grasp.

“No.”

“Shut up.” Michael hissed, pulling his children close while Lucifer took off further into the Bunker. If his kids were here they couldn’t possibly be alone…

“What are they doing here?” Lucifer demanded of the Reaper who grinned in response. “They don’t belong here.”

“Oh, and they belong in Hell. Come now, Father. You aren’t an idiot.”

“I’m not your Father.” Lucifer scowled, the Reaper stepping forward to adjust her shirt buttons with a bold grin.

“The body of a woman doesn’t change genetics.”

“You’re far past being a nephilim anymore, Jessica.”

“And you’re far from being the Fallen Archangel that sired me. Nice to see you on the good side, by the way.”

“I’m not good-”

“You’re not evil. You don’t plan on wiping the human race out anymore, you’re in a relationship again… you look much lovelier. I’m impressed.”

“Who else did you bring with you?” She changed the topic, not interested in debating that topic with him.

“Just the boys. I left the rest of them in Helheim, the ones that weren’t stupidly following their cousin, that is. I didn’t see a reason to make them face the parent that didn’t care.”

“I’ve changed.”

“Change doesn’t make you suddenly care. If you did, you would’ve hugged me. We don’t expect you to care because we weren’t created out of love. Most of us are the products of loathing, hatred. Anger.”

“Aedmiel wasn’t.” Gabriel had stupidly fallen for Cain and it had destroyed him.

They had destroyed him by breaking her apart.

“Is that guilt? Come on, Lucifer. I’m sure you’re better than that. Just because you’ve found yourself it doesn’t mean that you’ve grown a soul in that overly inflated ego of yours.” She tapped her on the nose and danced back. “I can see.”

“Can you bring Dean back here? Before he hurts himself?”

“You aren’t asking me for him,” Jessica mused. “I don’t interfere with the natural order. If you want to save him from himself, that’s your business. Personally? I think you should leave it. Winchesters are complicated and giving into what your not-boyfriend wanted before his death wasn’t necessary. It’s not like Sam was Sam at the time anyways.”

“I know that.” Which was difficult to admit. “It doesn’t make things different.”

“It makes you different. Acknowledgement is important. I can tell you where he is but personally, I think you should leave it alone.”

Jessica smirked, eyes sparkling a bit with mischief. “They’re in the dungeon. Castiel tied Dean up because he was worried. Oh, also I did do one other thing.”

“What?”

“I dropped off the ex-King. I picked him up on the side of a highway, poor guy was stabbed in the heart.”

“And you saved him.” Lucifer responded blandly, not sure what reason she could possibly have to save the demon. What could possibly possess her to save him? Reapers were all about the balance, they didn’t resurrect anyone or anything.

Unless it wasn’t their time.

“Of course I did. Death gave us very specific directions before he died. When he dies, things tend to fall a little off balance until he’s replaced.”

“Which can’t be resolved until his ring is replaced. But Aedmiel has his ring. I saw it.”

“Does she?” Jessica raised a brow, smiling widely. “Or does she think she does?”

“That means there’s a chance… who has the ring? They can-”

“It doesn’t matter,” She cut her off. “None of us know who the successor is, he never told us. Most of us have tried it on but not a single one of us have taken to it.”

“Do you have any suspicions?”

“Samael believes it may be a human. Ryan is having it taken to the Alpha Vampire.”

“So, you’re grabbing at straws.”

“We’re doing what we must.”

“Bring it to myself and Michael. We’ll try it as well.”

“Death would never name you his successor.” She rolled her eyes, “You may be the one being in existence that our father loathed. Michael isn’t a bad option, however. I’ll talk to Bela shortly. Now, I really need to go. With Hell reopened we’re having to sort a lot of hellbound souls from Heaven. Honestly, I wasn’t supposed to do anything else but I couldn’t resist seeing you as a woman.”

“You didn’t come for me, you came for Michael. Don’t pretend otherwise.”

“I did, though. I came because I’m the only one of your children that can look at your face without feeling betrayed. They actually begged me.” Breathing deeply, she steeled herself for what came next. “They want to be clear that if you ever come close, they will remove your Grace and kill you.”

“Understood,” She sighed softly, shaking her head. “I’ve earned that.”

“Maybe if you do enough good, they might open up to you.”

“No, they won’t.” She shook her head. “I know they won’t and they have every reason in Heaven and Hell to want me dead. I was a monster.” With a final sad smile, Jessica disappeared. There was a long breath of silence before she made her way towards the dungeon where Castiel and Dean were seated in the center of a devil’s trap, a bottle of whiskey sat between them and Dean’s ankles were chained to a latch in the center of the floor. The older Winchester didn’t acknowledge her arrival, but Castiel did. The younger angel lifted his gaze, red rimmed eyes meeting her gaze.

“He tried to make a deal.” Castiel said as way of explanation.

“No demons came.” Dean muttered, lifting the whiskey bottle off the floor.

Something she’d tried really hard not to think about. Yeah, she could bring them back but it took time and power and there wasn’t a point if Aedmiel couldn’t be killed. If she hadn’t slaughtered all of the demons during her time in Hell, she would’ve done it now.

Ah, hell.

‘Hannah-‘

‘Michael has already warned us. All of Heaven has gone into hiding.’ Nodding to herself, she approached the outside of the trap where she took a seat and held out a hand.

“No.” Dean’s voice growled as Castiel passed her his own glass.

“Sam was his True Vessel, Dean-”

“Your brother is dead and it’s all my fault.” Lucifer confessed, downing the content of the glass. “The last time he said yes, I gave him the fuel that he needed to enact his suicidal plan and because I wouldn’t lie to him, he’s dead.”

“Sam’s been gone for a long time.” There was a harshness to Dean’s words, a bitterness that Lucifer hadn’t expected. “I want to blame you for it. Every fiber of my being wants to blame the devil because it should be your fault. But Sam’s been messed up ever since he closed Hell. I’d been denying it but… my brother died then and there.”

“A deal wouldn’t have saved him,” Lucifer spoke quietly, unsure how to take that confession. This was Dean Winchester and he was opening up in a way she honestly didn’t think he was capable of.

“I didn’t want to make a deal. I wanted to kill it. And every other damned demon in Hell.” Lucifer laughed, she couldn’t help the laughter that made its way past her lips. It just made so much sense. Dean was stupid, sure. But he wasn’t an absolute idiot. Though it was rare, the brothers did learn their lessons.

“Sam was alive-”

“Cas, I know you’ve been screwed up since your wings were clipped so I’m going to stop you right now. You don’t have a damned clue what my brother was going through and the only reason you weren’t deep fried by team angel is because he saved your ass.”

Lucifer refrained from mentioning that the only reason Castiel had been saved in the trial was because Hel had broken protocol and manipulated the situation. She wasn’t stupid. After all, no matter what her little brother would have admitted, Gabriel had planned his death. Right down to the last instant and what would follow. Her brother wasn’t an idiot, he was clever. It was why she hadn’t succeeded at killing him all those years ago.

Some part of her wondered just how far ahead Gabriel had planned. Did Gabriel know Sam would die opening Hell? Had he actually been in denial about Aedmiel, or had he come to terms with it and chosen to ignore the repercussions? Considering his sacrifice all those years ago, Lucifer really doubted he’d leave Aedmiel to wreak havoc on all of existence. But she also couldn’t be sure.

“I cared for your brother, Dean.”

“Not enough to help me when I warned you about Metatron being a lying douchebag. Leave.”

“Dean-”

Go.” Lucifer didn’t bother watching the ex-angel as he rose to his feet without a word, leaving them alone.

“I’m impressed, Dean. You haven’t told me to leave.”

“Would there be a point?” Dean asked, laying back and glaring down at the cuffs that Lucifer promptly snapped away. “Really?” The hunter turned his head a bit to meet hers, raising an eyebrow. There was hurt buried deep in the depths of his expression, though. Things he wouldn’t recognize at all if it wasn’t for the possessions of Sam Winchester.

“I’ll explain if you give me that bottle.” Dean started to protest before surrendering and grabbing the bottle, setting it on the outside of the trap. “My relationship with your brother was always rocky.”

“You used him.”

“I wanted to use him,” Lucifer corrected with a deep sigh. “But, in the end I didn’t.”

“Because he stopped you.”

“Because he was strong enough to stop me. I admired him for it. Even if I hated it. And at that time, all I could do was hate.” Swallowing, she popped the top off the lid and downed half the contents of the whiskey bottle before refilling it and setting it between them. “But this time, things were different.”

“This time, Sam wasn’t Sam.”

“He was.” Lucifer defended, “For the most part. Right up until the end. I was in his head, you know. When he… when he opened Hell. Even if his soul was falling apart, he didn’t forget you for a single moment. You were his brother and his biggest regret was that he didn’t get to remind you that he was.”

“Don’t say that.”

“It’s true. The two of you are absolutely inseparable and there’s nothing weird or disturbing meant by that. The fact of the matter is that you two were shoved into an impossible situation from the moment Sam was born and despite all things leading towards the fact that you should’ve been driven apart by everything in your paths, you weren’t.”

“That doesn’t explain why you’re willing to untie me, risk me running off and killing myself.”

“You won’t.” Lucifer stated, confident in her response. “The last thing Sam told me- no begged me was to keep you alive. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen if you’re tied up. As long as you’re down here, you’re a threat to yourself. But if you’re free to do as you please, you’re going to do what you want.”

“You sound sure of yourself.”

“You weren’t going to make a deal,” She countered and Dean didn’t answer, pushing himself into a sitting position.

“I have a favor-”

“Crowley’s already here. My reaper daughter brought him back.”

“Brought him back?” Dean gave her a confused look. Either from the reaper comment or the fact that Crowley had died, maybe both. “Reaper daughter… what?”

“Your boyfriend was left for dead on the side of a highway, a reaper named Jessica who was my daughter… a long time ago, saved his life because apparently Death didn’t want him dead yet.”

“Okay- know what, I’ve got to ask. How the hell do reapers work? Jo, Bela…”

“They’re handpicked by Death- or other reapers. If Death approves, he gives them a scythe and they become a reaper. Before you ask, not just anyone is eligible. A reaper has to accept the sanctity of life and death. Usually they’re given a trial.”

“And you had a kid that accepted the sanctity of life and death?”

“More than one.” She grimaced, taking another long swig of the whiskey and handing it over when Dean held out his hand. “Disappointments at the time, of course. The nephilim were created during the war. They were supposed to be mindless killing machines. But, yes. Some of my children became reapers. Now, I recommend you go check on your boyfriend who was left for dead on the side of a highway.”

“Left for dead- why did someone try to kill Crowley?”

“My guess is human folly but you might as well ask him yourself.”

“You’re sure that all of the demons on Hell and Earth are dead?”

“The demons were all returned to Hell when Hell had the gates closed. Except the two that I brought back. Human folly, or maybe monsters. You’re the one that ditched him.”

“I didn’t ditch him. I left him with the identity that Gabriel made him to-”

“I don’t care about your excuses, Dean. Go help him out. I’m sure he’s in pretty bad shape, death’s a nasty thing for anyone. You know that.” A long moment stretched out where Dean looked at her, observing her.

“Is there any way to bring him back?”

“No.” Lucifer answered, shaking her head. “Your brother’s soul was burned up with the spell. There’s nothing to bring back. If there was, I would have done it already.”

“You really cared for him,” Dean grimaced. “I don’t want to know.”

“You really don’t.” She smiled tiredly. “Don’t worry about the overgrown children upstairs, by the way. They’re Michael’s and they wouldn’t hurt a fly. Except maybe my pride.”

“Then I already like them,” With one final, harsh kick to her leg Dean turned and made his way up the stairs. Not that she was surprised, in all honesty she’d expected more. A punch to the face, a kick to the gut. Anything. Instead it was a kick, and not even a particularly strong one.

“I’d make the most of it. My niece is going to destroy all of creation.” Lucifer called out as Dean made his way up the stairs, audibly locking the door behind him. Like that would stop her from leaving. But, still. Sighing softly, she lifted the bottle and stared at the words on it, not really seeing them. Aedmiel was alive and there wasn’t a single thing she could do to resolve it. Unless…

Breathing deeply through her nose, she spread her wings behind her and traveled across the many continents that lined the planet until she was planted in knee deep snow in the midst of somewhere in Russia. It took a moment but pretty quickly he was met with the sight of an exceptionally pale Hel.

“You better have good reason.”

“Your father-”

“-is gone.” Hel interrupted and her heart sank as she began to recognize the extent of his niece’s stature, the splatters of blood on her dress and skin and the fact that her wings were broken, shuddering just outside the material plane. Damaged more than they were meant to be.

“She attacked you.”

“An army of our cousins tore through Helheim, we fought back until your son-“

“Which one?” He demanded, wanting to know which of his children Aedmiel was impersonating.

“Bael.” She answered and she nodded, remembering one of the worse members of her offspring. “He told us to kneel or die. I didn’t want to surrender but… I needed to protect my cousins. He swore that as long as we did as told, he wouldn’t harm them.”

A promise she didn’t doubt would be kept. “They went after Gabriel.”

“Yes. He… Bael shredded his soul while we all watched. Nothing was left.” Tears threatened the corner of her eyes, bitter and harsh realization flooding her system when she fully grasped that…

He’s gone.

No redos, no resurrections. One of two of his relatives in all of existence and he was gone.

“Lucifer, nephilim aren’t that strong. What is he?”

“It’s a she and… her name is Aedmiel.”

“That isn’t possible.” Hel retorted, shaking her head. “She was killed. Because of you.”

“No. As much as I hate to admit my own failed acknowledgement, Aedmiel was in The Cage with me. It was, after all. Her Cage. Aedmiel never died and after The Cage broke, we were all released. Myself and Michael managed to escape but she wasn’t quite as lucky.”

“Nephalem can’t fly.”

“Not long range and there was definitely no way for her to fly herself out of Hell at the time, Michael and I barely managed to make it without it killing us. I’m sorry, Hel. Your Father… Gabriel wanted her safe and I’m certain if he didn’t save her, that God did.”

“To punish Gabriel.”

“To punish me, or her. Say as you will about Him, but there’s nothing He loved more than shoving his mistakes aside. Purgatory, Hell, Mother’s prison. God hated letting the mistakes die, though. Hel, I’m sorry. Your father shouldn’t have been destroyed like that,” She wrapped her arms and wings around the young Nephorlo who broke down, sobbing into her shoulders as Lucifer flooded the younger creature’s entire body with her Grace, healing every inch of bone and skin and removing the blood from her skin. “I’m sorry, bróðirkind.” She murmured, kissing the top of her head. “We’ll kill her.”

“Don’t… Lucifer, don’t you dare lie. You have no plans on how to resolve this because Aedmiel- Aedmiel was unstoppable. I know the stories, the terrible tales of what she did. Father grieved her so much and to know… that she shredded him apart? Without hesitation? How can you possibly imagine that we can stop her?”

“We’ll figure it out, Hel. I swear. We’ll avenge your father. My brother. I promise.”

“I… need to get back. My cousins need help. I know your children loathe you but… just call me. Let me know if you need our help. We will stand against her.”

Kissing the top of her head, Lucifer breathed deeply, “I wouldn’t put you in harms way if I don’t have to.” Hel disappeared then, eyes red rimmed with tears. With a deep sigh, Lucifer spread her wings and flew to the Bunker to join Michael.

Aedmiel. How could they kill Aedmiel without Gabriel?

Chapter Text

Dean paused outside the only room that he could guess Crowley would be in. Screw it. With a heavy sigh, he pressed open the door to step into his room. Much to his frustration, Crowley was in his bed. Not asleep. Resting next to him was the little Jack Russel rat that Gabriel had left with them. The dog was jumping around his bed a bit while an amused Crowley sat at the top, watching the animal wag its tail.

“I thought I made my thoughts on his dog clear.”

Crowley didn’t even acknowledge his existence as he crossed the room, taking a seat on the edge of the bed and eyeballing the small furry creature his brother had liked. Gabriel’s dog. God, he hated dogs but… well, what was the point in hating it. Sam was gone. Dead. Worse than dead. He just… didn’t exist anymore.

“I’m sorry.” He finally admitted as the dog… Dog turned to jump in his lap. Ignoring the frustration that he initially felt, he scratched its ear. It wasn’t necessarily that he hated dogs… he just hated what they represented. Normal family. White picket fences. The one thing Sam had always wanted as a kid and their dad warning them that a dog would just end with more heartbreak. Funny how that worked.

“Are you really?” Crowley scoffed, shaking his head. “You left me for dead, Dean.”

“I left… the information. The identity. Gabriel thought you’d be fine.”

“It was an excuse and you know it. You left because you planned to die.”

“I’m sorry.”

“So, Sam’s gone?”

He nodded, lifting Dog and offering him to Crowley who took him before setting him on the floor. “He sacrificed himself to reopen Hell. If I’m honest… I wouldn’t care except he didn’t tell me.”

“Sam died in that warehouse, Dean. What was left… was a shell.”

“It doesn’t make it easier. It’s… I was supposed to protect him.”

“Look, you spent years protecting him. God knows it was a bane on my existence how bloody hard you two fought for each other. Letting go isn’t something you’re going to do. It’s a shame really.”

“That’s cold.”

“I was a demon. Human doesn’t come back overnight.”

“Get out.” Dean wished he met it. He adjusted his position so he could collapse back on the mattress. There was a small sound, a slight whooshing, and while Dean wasn’t sure he was almost positive Dog was gone. That was a new one.

“I can’t quite move that much yet.” Crowley mused as he lay back beside him. The movements jagged and careful. “Reapers aren’t healers.”

“Could’ve called in Ruby. Apparently she’s some sort of partial angel thing now.”

“Demon still, I’m afraid. Even if she wasn’t, I don’t want anywhere near that trio.” Dean couldn’t really blame him. While he didn’t really care about the three man band that was going on, the fact that one of the members of said band was Ruby… yeah, no. He really wanted to kill her. Really wanted to. Especially now that Sam was gone. If he wasn’t so emotionally drained he probably would. Just to piss of Cas.

They hadn’t fought since he became human.

“Why’d you sleep with me?”

“Because you were down in the dirt.”

“No.” Dean refused to look at him. Finally addressing it. Because Sam had called him out on it and he had been avoiding it. “There’s no damned reason you should have. I was drunk off my ass and angry. It wasn’t- I shouldn’t have done that.”

“Do you really think in any world that I would ever let you do something like that, Squirrel? Yes. It definitely wasn’t the best situation. Believe it or not, I’d love to be wined and dined before hitting a homerun. But it wasn’t awful.”

“Did you just insult my skills?”

“Just the first time. Can’t expect too much when your partner’s drunk as a sailor and you’re handcuffed to the bedframe.”

Dean winced a bit. Because yeah. That entire incident… it wasn’t his proudest moment. “I don’t really care if you think it was one thing or another. I screwed up. I’m sorry.”

“You sound like you actually mean that.”

“It’s because I do, damn it.”

“Does that mean I get make-up sex?” Crowley asked, words blunt and seemingly out of nowhere. Dean looked to his right to stare at the smirking ex-demon.

“Don’t you have broken bones?” He countered, turning back to look at the ceiling.

“Guess you’ll have to take extra care with me then.” Huffing a laugh, Dean threw an arm over his face. “Not gonna happen tonight, Crowley.”

“You could cry on my shoulder.” He suggested instead and Dean rolled his eyes, even as a wave of nausea threatened to crash through him. “Can’t say I empathize. Never been big on the whole family thing. But I’m here. If you need anything.”

“You should’ve run.” Dean shut his eyes. Like closing them would blot out reality more than the arm covering his eyes. “I’m toxic, Crowley. Poison. Anyone and everyone in my life dies and it’s going to ruin you.”

“You’ve already ruined me.” Crowley laughed softly, maybe a bit bitter. “I’m human. There’s no coming back from what’s happened to me.”

“So, what? This is your consolation prize?”

“Maybe. Depends what this is.”

“What do you think it is?”

He didn’t have an answer for that. Hell, he didn’t know what this conversation even was anymore. He still hated Crowley. Even if it wasn’t nearly the level it had been a few weeks ago. Obviously not nearly enough if he wasn’t kicking him out of his room.

Where did that leave them?

“Certain doom.” He finally said and Crowley laughed. Making an obviously pained sound as whatever injuries he still had were jostled. He wondered how bad it was. Maybe he’d have Lucifer come in. Make her heal him. She owed him. Sam had nearly died without him present because of her. “World’s ending.”

“What else is new?”

“Aedmiel’s alive.”

A quiet sound was the only reaction he got to that revelation. “Well. Guess you’ve got to fix it.”

“How the hell am I supposed to fix it? She’s apparently one of the most powerful things on the face of the planet.”

“So was Lucifer. So were the leviathans and me and every other damned thing you’ve gone against. You’ll figure it out.”

“I don’t know if I want to. Let someone else figure it out. I’m just… I’m done.”

The mattress moved then and when he moved his arm off his eyes, Crowley was crossing the room.

“Guess you’re leaving?”

“Yes.” Crowley answered, going out the door without another word.

The door clicked shut behind him and Dean was left with his own thoughts.

.-~*~-.

Lucifer stopped outside Castiel’s room, lifting her hand to knock three times before disregarding any of the occupants’ wishes and pushing in.

“Meg.”

Castiel was asleep, wrapped in the embrace of Ruby who was feigning sleep and she didn’t really care. She wasn’t why Lucifer had chosen this room. “I thought you were set on using our old names. What do you want?” Meg asked from where she was seated at the foot of the bed.

“I’m moving forward with the times.”

“Moving forward would involve you not trying to kill your younger brother for something he did under the influence of leviathans.” She got up anyways, moving across the room and pressing outside with Lucifer on her heels.

“He’s still alive, isn’t he? I’m not pleased with the events that took place, but I also wasn’t fully informed.”

“Maybe if you had asked him rather than assumed you would have known the full story. What do you want?”

“I need you to go to Hell.” Lucifer told her bluntly and she laughed, turning around to raise an eyebrow.

“Aedmiel’s in charge of Hell and you want me to go down there?”

“Aedmiel’s on Earth now. There’s no way she will ever go back to Hell willingly.”

“I’m supposed to trust that? I’m not going on a suicide mission.”

“I brought you back. I can kill you again and I won’t have to think about it twice.”

“Dying would be better than whatever Aedmiel would do to me. Just for being involved with you. But I also would prefer not to die. Give me a good reason why you think Hell is safe?”

“No one wants to be in Hell.” Lucifer ground out, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice. “Especially after The Cage. She was in there for a lot longer than I was. She’s not going to spend any time in Hell and I really doubt any of the halfbreeds will want to either.”

“Then why don’t you go?”

“If I go, I’ll be a beacon. I don’t want Aedmiel to know I’m there. I need you to go for me.”

“Why? What could possibly be in Hell that would make you want any of us there?”

“Demons.”

“She slaughtered the demons.”

“I don’t think she did. At least not all of them. She enjoys torture. She did it to me, she did it to Sam. Just because she was out of The Cage it wouldn’t change her interest and she cares about her cousins. If she did anything harmful to them, she would kill them. Never torture. Which means she had to keep some demons alive.”

“You want me to break into Hell, look for demons that are probably completely batshit insane, and get back out without alerting the army of angelspawn? You do realize how insane that is, right?”

“It gets crazier.” Lucifer admitted, crossing her arms over her chest. “I need you to go to the deepest point. The very bottom where the light drains from everything and darkness consumes it all.”

“No.”

“Then I need you to touch the bars and come back to me.”

“Hell no. I’m not going there. Demons don’t come back from down there. They get lost. No one comes back from there.”

“That’s because they aren’t protected by my Grace. I’d go. I would. But I can’t have her knowing because if she does, she’ll setup protection against it.”

“What’s in the darkness?” Lucifer turned, meeting Ruby’s gaze where she was standing in the doorway to their room. “Why is it so important?”

“My Mother. God’s sister. She’s down there.”

“Again. Why?”

“Because I want to know what condition she’s in.” Lucifer snapped, glaring at her. “Gabriel is gone so Aedmiel is unstoppable. The Cage is destroyed. Death is dead.”

“You think that she would help?”

“I’d like to think she’d be more useful than God ever was.”

‘That is a dangerous plan, Lucifer.’ Michael spoke softly in the back of her mind from wherever he was in Heaven.

‘Your Father ditched us. Maybe my Mother will help us.’ It said a lot that Michael didn’t immediately jump in to protest the premise. ‘Even if she doesn’t. It’s my mother and Aedmiel will destroy all of Creation.’

‘I’m not telling you not to try to communicate. I am begging you, though. Don’t release her. You were enough of a danger to Creation.’

“I’ll go.” Ruby spoke up and Lucifer shook his head.

‘Aedmiel is worse.’ “If you go, I will have to weaken you again.”

“No. Ruby-“

“I’ve got a lot less reasons to hang around.”

“You have the same reasons to stay.” Meg countered, “No.”

“Lucifer.” She shrugged when Ruby met her gaze.

“I don’t care either way. I just need to send a demon down.”

“Give us a minute.” Meg huffed, pushing past her and dragging Ruby back into their room. The were muffled voices she chose not to listen to, Castiel seeming to join into the conversation.

She moved a bit down the hall, kneeling down when Dog nosed his way out of a bathroom, tail wagging when he saw her.

“Hey there.” She greeted the dog, kneeling down to catch him as he jumped up into her arms. “I’m not sure what all he did to you. I know you’re not normal. You’ve got… a spark to you.” Dog barked at him, as if in agreement. “That’s why I’ve got to tell you that your dad’s gone. Gabriel’s…” Lucifer breathed deeply. “He’s dead. Not his usual dead. He’s gone. No more tricks. Aedmiel destroyed his soul.”

Dog pawed at her arm, whined softly. Licked her face.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know how long you two have known each other, what he did. But I am sorry.” He whimpered, burrowing against her chest. “I’ll protect you for him. For as long as we can.”

“Are you really talking to a dog?” Crowley. She considered the premise of murdering him just because she could.

“If you’ve been around him for more than five minutes you know very well that he’s not a normal dog.” Lucifer muttered. “I thought you were human now. Isn’t empathy one of the burdens of it?”

“So he was really Gabriel’s dog?”

“As opposed to being Sam and Dean’s?” Lucifer asked, unamused at the attempt to change the topic. “Yes. He was my brother’s dog. Speaking of brothers, where’s Dean?”

“Sulking.” Crowley answered harshly.

“Problems in the bedroom?” Lucifer taunted him, trying not to think about the elephant in the room. Sam.

“Not telling him about Sam was a dick move. You know it and I know it.”

“I was trying to save him. Because I knew what Sam would’ve wanted.”

“It was selfish.”

“Do I need to remind you who I am? I could smite you. Bring you back. Just because I was bored. I really don’t need any more arguments about how I handled Sam. I made the best decision I possibly could given the situation.” Her wings flared a bit and even if Crowley couldn’t see them, he backed up a bit. Looked at the space behind her.

“You kept his brother from seeing him for the last time. I’m sure you can relate to that desire.”

She didn’t answer, moving her wings so that Dog could jump into them and curl up. He was careful about his claws, burrowing into the feathers as she carefully wrapped him in one of the lower ones. It would be a pain if she needed to fly but she could do it.

“I am going to cook.” Crowley said at last, leaving her alone in the hall.

Well, except for Dog who had taken to licking the feathers on the underside of her wing. It was definitely a weird sensation but it wasn’t harmful so she didn’t try to stop him.

‘Michael?’

‘I think she’s giving us time to evacuate. I have seen two of the children but they have mostly taken to exploring.’

‘Any of them come for their parents?’

‘No. Either out of fear or choice I couldn’t tell you but none of them have come for their parents.’

In that case… ‘This is a message for any and all of the children of angels. It has been years since you were among us. Since you were confined to the depths of Hell. I know how it feels. I do. But it’s past. You’re welcome to return to your families. As the ruler of Heaven, standing beside Michael, I am revoking any and all kill orders on the children of angels. All of them. As of this moment, as it should have been done a long time ago, we are no longer your enemies. Not unless you make us. We’re family. We all are and we don’t have nearly the numbers we once did.’

‘Go ahead, cousins.’ Aedmiel didn’t hesitate to chime in, even cutting across her voice just a bit. ‘I’ve never told you to stay away from your family. If you can call them that.’

‘Aedmiel.’

‘What, Lucifer? What is family truly? You? The ones that left us in cages. Or us, the ones that held each other every night! The ones that clung to each other while the demons stood outside mocking us?’

‘You weren’t part of that. How can you possibly stand for what they believe when you were never a victim of it?’ Aedmiel tried to catch her Grace there, tried to drag her from the extended network of communication. She dodged it, spread herself out to reach every angel. All of the angelspawn.

‘I don’t expect you to forgive us. I have no reason to think you will. But Aedmiel is not who she claims to be. She is Gabriel and Cain’s daughter. The single most dangerous spawn of any of us and she destroyed her mother. All because she wants to destroy us. And yes. Some of us have made mistakes.’ Michael was there now, pressed tight against her as Aedmiel tried to stop her words. ‘You have a choice. All of you. Revenge on angels that were never involved with what you did isn’t the choice. Humans that never did anything but exist.’ That was the best she could do. Pretend like she didn’t have plenty of reasons to wipe them from existence. Humanity was the least of her problems.

‘Family isn’t made by Grace or blood. If it was, I would have almost no one left.’

‘Because you let them die. You are alone because your lover didn’t save my mother. You sealed my safety.’

‘You murdered the one person in existence that fought for your safety. You aren’t a hero, Aedmiel. You’re a victim that has chosen to harm people that had nothing to do with the crimes committed against you.’

‘Coming from you, Auntie? That’s hilarious.’

‘I never claimed to be a hero. I was making a point. I still am. You know I’m right. I am always right. Especially when it comes to God’s Word.’

Michael grabbed her then, throwing her beneath his wings as they tumbled into one of the empty Bunker rooms.

Silence.

“Michael.” She shuddered a bit, feeling the faint sensation of Aedmiel’s rage on the other side.

“That was risky. That was stupid and risky, Lucifer. Why must you-“

“Because I’m reckless. Did we turn any of the nephilim?” Michael paused, wrapping his entire body around her and cocooning them both in his wings.

“I can’t hear them. I think Aedmiel is blocking me. What was the point, Lucifer? You just put every angel in Heaven at risk.”

“No. I just distracted her. While she’s trying to regroup and figure out which of her cousins are going to join us…”

“Your demon can go to Hell.”

“Exactly.” She wrapped her tails around his leg, resting her head on his shoulder. “If she goes.”

“So, kill her if she doesn’t. You’ve never hesitated on a demon smiting before.”

“Killing them won’t resolve my problem. They’re the only two demons on the face of Earth. Nothing divine can go there without setting off warning bells.”

“It sounds like you will need to continue thinking things through then. Offer them something they can’t refuse.” Michael kissed her cheek and Lucifer huffed, shaking her head.

“No.”

“You’re the Devil. You know how bargaining works. Even I am well versed in it. If you aren’t willing to give, you aren’t going to get what you want from them.”

“And you would let me reinstate Castiel as an angel?”

“I am far from forgiving him but we are also past the point of being petty. You’re considering your Mother, Lucifer.”

“Desperate times, hm?” She asked with a sigh, dragging Michael in for a kiss. “Fighting until our last breath, I suppose.”

“I’d rather have many more with you, Lucifer.” Michael countered, “Even if the cost is high.”

“Makes me kind of wish w were still in The Cage. Everything was simple there.”

“Simple, perhaps. But not healthy.”

“We have never been healthy. You’ve always been my doom, Michael. I will die at your hands.”

“Not as long as I can speak against it. I could never make that choice now.”

Lucifer didn’t answer, shifting around and carefully prying herself from Michael’s hold.

“I am going to continue reaching out. Will you be okay here?”

“I’m not helpless. I’ll be fine.” She huffed. “Go find the soldiers and bring them to the Bunker. While Meg travels through Hell, I’ll try to implement some of the neph wardings.”

“If you need me-“

“Yes, I know.” She brushed him off, looking over her shoulder just in time to watch Michael spread his wings and fly.

Traversing the Bunker was easier than it had been a week ago and she ended up with Dog tucked into her wings again when the animal found her in the halls, betrayal burning in sad eyes.

She hadn’t meant to leave him behind when she dived into the angelic communication network.

Angel Radio is a much simpler term. She conceded internally.

“We need to do this.” She declared, pushing into the shared room of the two demons and ex-angel.

Castiel was waiting.

“You’re sober.” She observed, watching the ex-angel as he met her gaze.

“You are attempting to send one of my girlfriends to Hell to die.”

“She won’t die.” Lucifer rolled her eyes, “Shouldn’t you be talking to your not-brother about Sam’s death?”

“Dean doesn’t want me near him and I don’t know what to say. I was… hardly present for all of that.”

“That’s putting it generously. I am not sending your girlfriend to die.” She reiterated. “Where are they?”

“Here.” Ruby declared, stepping out of the closet with Meg on her heels. They were both watching her carefully, Meg keeping her back against the door.

A bit of feeling around with her grace confirmed an angel vanishing sigil on the wall.

“Do I want to know what you were doing in there?” She asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Not at all. We’ve discussed it and the answer is no, Lucifer. If we’re doomed, we plan on doing it here.”

“And I suppose death threats aren’t going to be effective.”

“You’re a Queen without any followers. Heaven doesn’t trust you. Even when you’re the acting leader. Hell is in ruins and we are the last demons on the face of Earth.”

“Two demons that turned their backs on me in the face of certain destruction. If be impressed if I wasn’t so annoyed. I want to make a deal.”

“No.” Castiel spoke before either of the girls could.

“Fully restored. Wings and all. Not that it’s much use at the moment, but at least there’s chance to fight back.”

“Yes.” Meg and Ruby said at the same time.

They’d been expecting it. She was definitely more impressed though also disappointed with herself. She should’ve seen that. There was too much. She was losing her touch. Or maybe she just didn’t care anymore. Not in the way she did before.

She refused to imagine that she never actually cared. “Fine.”

“I’m going with them.” Castiel spoke up and Lucifer shrugged. It didn’t matter either way to her.

“Cas-“

“You’ll have to be human. I can’t send an angel down. Should warn you, I don’t know what Hell will do to your human soul.”

“Lucifer- no.”

“I don’t have time to argue with all of you. Aedmiel is distracted for now, but that’s not going to last. So, you’ll all go. If he comes back alive, I’ll return his Grace.”

She stepped forward into the room. “Now, you can come here. I can mark you with my Grace so Mother doesn’t rip your minds apart, or I can send you down there without any sort of protections and you can find your own ways out.”

The three of them looked between each other and Lucifer held out her hands. “You have ten seconds.” Castiel was the first to move and Lucifer stretched her wings out, reaching across the globe for Cain and The Mark. He couldn’t tell where the first demon was but he was still present. It didn’t take a lot for her to draw on the Mark, reaching out to her Mother in the weakest way that she could. The energy was pure in the rawest of ways, primordial and theirs.

Closing her eyes, she wrapped her hand around Castiel’s shoulder and burned a small sigil into his soul, feeling it manifest against his skin. Meg and Ruby were next. Ruby took her psychic link after a silent request from the demon. It wasn’t exactly the most pleasant thing, decently frustrating. It had been different before because she hadn’t turned her back.

“Since you wasted time arguing over this, I’m splitting you up. Find the demons, gauge their mental states. If they aren’t alone, pray and I’ll bring you back. We need them if they’re there and functional, though.”

‘Demons aren’t going to help.’

‘I thought you were hunting down the angels.’

‘You don’t want to send all of them to your Mother. They were an excuse to send the other down by herself. Why are you sending them all?’

Lucifer didn’t answer, flicking her gaze across the three of them before setting a firm look on Ruby.

Keep them alive. The thought was pressed across their mental link warily and Lucifer resisted an eyeroll before snapping her fingers.

Chapter Text

Ruby looked around, pressing close into herself as the dead silence of Hell engulfed her.

Silence.

She was low as well. The atmosphere dug into her, trying pull her in. Take her further and further down. What had she gotten into?

Take them out. She pressed across the link, knowing full well that Lucifer would hear her. If there were still demons down here, I would hear them. Pull them back.

Lucifer didn’t answer, but she hadn’t answered the first time she visited Hell either. It was probably a risk. The presence was there, just at the back of her mind.

Breathing deeply, she reached up to touch the mark burned into her shoulder. Then she began walking. The lower portions of Hell had always been emptier. She could remember her first days. The demon that initially grabbed her. Shoved her down a hole. Told her to find her way out or to let the dark consume her.

Shuddering, she shook the memory off and pressed further down. It was still light, dim fire glowing behind her as everything began to darken. Deeper and deeper she went. The dim light began to become solid darkness and the only thing that tethered her, kept her from diving into the void that surrounded the brimstone path beneath her was the thrumming symbol under her hand and the faint sensation of Lucifer in her mind.

Once, she would’ve been honored. Now, she couldn’t stop worrying about the potential repercussions if she was killed while here.

For the first time in her existence, someone cared about her wellbeing and she knew they weren’t going to be happy with her for volunteering to take the brunt of it.

Feeling something for anyone had yet to cease to amaze her and she found comfort in the dark environment when she thought of them. Warmth in the icy chill that was beginning to envelop her. All of her instincts were screaming at her to run. Turn around, get out. But something else was pulling and she began to realize it was pulling on the sigil that Lucifer had burned into her. Tugging her along like a dog on the leash.

There wasn’t a path beneath her anymore. She was moving across nothing. Wasn’t walking anymore. Just moving. Her breathing became more rapid and she fought against any form of panic. Lucifer was still settled against the back of her mind. She hadn’t drug her back yet. That had to mean everything was fine.

Or she was already dead.

Then she hit solid ground. Icy cold nothingness leeched into her, grabbing at her soul and drawing against it. She was certain she was going to die then. No doubt lingered within her as she was pulled to the edge of the maw of nothingness. Even the ground beneath her barely guarded her against the infinite horrors before her.

Then it stopped. The horrible, terrible sensation of closer receded and she was left on her knees. A box sat beneath her, vast and endless. The only reason she knew it was a box was instinct. Not a box, though. A cage.

“Not my child.” A voice echoed around her, loud and endless yet precise in a way she knew better than to believe was at all natural. It was a filter, something lodged deep within her giving her the ability to comprehend what she was hearing.

What had she agreed to? Shuddering, she rose to her feet, looking all around her. Trying to see anything.

What are you?” A small sound escaped her as she felt something brush across her soul. Her very being. Her body was gone and she was nothing but her raw form. A demon at the edge of nothing.

“M… my name-“

Verrine. I can see you. All that you are and could be. My daughter does not trust you.” Ruby wasn’t sure how she would feel about that revelation. “My son is gone.” Ice washed over her being and she curled in on herself, closing her eyes just to give herself some semblance of control over everything. It was anger. Anger burning in a being older than time. The only shield that could possibly exist between them almost nonexistent. Lucifer’s mother was in the prison beneath her feet but standing there she knew better than to think it was a true shield. “You come with no answers. Why did my daughter send you?” Angry. The words were harsh, violent. The ice burned almost hot and she recoiled, stepping away like it would help.

‘Lucifer.’ She pressed across the connection in desperation.

“He hears nothing. Not while I remain. Verrine. Ruby. Tell me why you stand before me. I cannot decipher.”

She swallowed. Why had Lucifer sent her? What were the specifics? “Aedmiel.” She finally said. The only answer she could think of. The only possible reason Lucifer would reach out to her mother.

“My niece is gone. My brother destroyed… no. You have seen her. Why would my brother ever return the thing in which-”

Silence suddenly fell. Whatever it was that the entity was thinking was never spoken aloud.

“I now understand.” It felt like a hundred years before the entity said anything again. “You have touched my prison. Now you must leave. Do not fail my daughter, Ruby. Failing her will make you wish you had been consumed by me this visit.”

Then she was free. The darkness receded, opening a pathway before her.

.-~*~-.

Jo paced nervously, rubbing her fingers together as she watched Aedmiel rip apart a bedroom. “I am going to tear her apart. What is protecting them!” She spread her wings, knocking several things to the floor and Jo pressed into the edge of the doorframe.

“Aedmiel.”

Not now.

“Let me help you.” She stepped forward into the room, ignoring the sudden sharp sensation at her side when a wing slammed into her. It wasn’t the first time and she didn’t believe for a moment that it was going to be the last. “Aedmiel, you need to calm down.”

“Go to Hell.” The nephalem hissed, moving forward to shove her back a step. Jo caught the hand on her shoulder by the wrist and dug her fingers in.

“You won’t find them by tearing apart their rooms. They aren’t in Heaven.”

“They aren’t in Hell either and in the millions of souls in both places I can’t see. You want to help me? Go find my arrogant aunt and help me skin her alive! I will pull every scale and feather from her body!”

“The reapers have locked me out. You know I can’t.” Jo was patient when the door slammed shut, hitting hard against her back and leaving her pinned to the surface.

“You know what you can do then? Find me every one of my traitor cousins and crucify them in The Garden. The cowardly little leeches.”

“You don’t mean that.” Jo flinched when Aedmiel’s fist slammed into the wall next to her skull. Just millimeters from her face. “They’re your cousins.

“They betrayed me.”

“You didn’t bring them to the surface to slaughter them.” Jo reminded the woman, attempting to lean forward into her space before realizing she was being held in place by a heavy weight of Grace.

She wasn’t afraid. This wasn’t the first time she’d been held down like this and she didn’t think for a second that it would be the last. It was just what would follow that she had to wonder and maybe subconsciously worry about. It had been a while since Aedmiel hurt her but with all of the demons gone from Hell she had to wonder how long it would be before she became a target of her bloodlust again.

“I didn’t bring them to the surface for them to betray me.” Aedmiel hissed back, leaning in closer to glare at her with glowing eyes. Broken wings spread wide and broad behind her, threatening in a way that no wings she had ever seen managed to accomplish.

Unable to phase her. Aedmiel couldn’t scare her. Not anymore. She couldn’t be afraid of the one she loved.

Which only left caution.

“Aedmiel… it isn’t a betrayal. They’re scared. They need you to guide them. You have to hold out a hand, welcome them. Tell them the whole story just like you told me.”

“They won’t understand.”

“I did.”

“You love me. It’s different.”

“I didn’t then.” Jo reminded her, relaxing as she was released. Carefully, she leaned forward to kiss her softly. “I didn’t love you until I understood what you had been through. You just need to open up. Tell your cousins the truth.”

“Why do you have to be reasonable?” Aedmiel huffed, relaxing beneath her touch. “I want to pin you to that door. Have you a sobbing whimpering mess on the floor. I hate that I need to concentrate.”

“You weren’t doing that very much before.” Jo teased her and Aedmiel huffed, moving a hand to curl it around her waist. Those wings came around, brushing down her sides. A jagged tail curled around her ankle, drawing blood and making her whimper softly, pressing back against the door.

“You are far too tempting for your own good. Not now. Later, though. Later I promise. I need you to go to Michael’s office, retrieve any of his weapons. If you see any of my cousins tell them to go to The Garden.”

“Aren’t you going to?”

“Yes, but you’re the only person in existence I love. I want them to remember that I have you by my side. That you hold just as much command as I do.”

“That isn’t true.”

“It really is.” Aedmiel kissed her and she returned it, shuddering as she was pulled apart and put back together again.

When they were done she felt better, marks littering her skin. A couple cuts still fresh and exposed. She had considered healing herself before discarding the concept. It wasn’t important and Aedmiel had clearly left them for a reason. As she moved through the halls of Heaven, she did come across two nephilim that she told to report to The Garden. Everything was quiet. Peaceful even. So much more calming than Hell had been. The Veil. Earth. It wasn’t her first trip into Heaven but she had never been allowed to spend much time in it under the dictatorship of Death.

“Jo?” She stopped in her tracks, frowning at the voice. Human. Definitely human. Also… familiar. Slowly, she turned around. It took longer than it may have many years ago.

“You are supposed to be in your Heaven.” She couldn’t place the name with the face. Brown hair. Shaggy. A… mullet.

“You aren’t right.”

Ash. She remembered suddenly. Ash. It had been forever but she was certain. This was Ash. The genius that had lived with her and…

Her mom.

“I need to take you back to your Heaven.” She declared a bit methodically, making her way forward to usher him towards the doors.

Ash. Ash…

“Lindbergh.” He told her and she blinked, stopping outside the door. “What happened to you?”

“What do you know?” She asked instead of answering. Strange. She felt strange in a way she didn’t fully grasp. Human. She had been human… and she had been forced to leave her mom dead.

Mom.

“Angel Radio says you’re our proud new Queen’s consort. I’m worried they’re right.”

“I won’t hurt you.” She muttered. “Human souls are being preserved. Get inside. I have to-“

“Jo, I don’t know what they did to ya but think long and hard before taking off. She’s in there. You can see her. But if you do, be sure it’s with her in mind. I’ll lie if I need to. She can’t take losing you again.”

Her mother was in there.

Ellen Harvelle. Hunter. Hunting because… she wanted to do it.

Everything was jumbled and broken. Things were wrong. Didn’t make sense.

Jo Harvelle. Reaper.

Hunter.

No. Human. She had been… human.

Shivering, she looked down the hall. A nephilim was moving their direction. Giving her a weird look.

“What are you doing here?” She snapped at him, moving between him and Ash. “Aedmiel said The Garden. Do I need to tell her you’re screwing around in the halls? Go!”

Wisely, he didn’t say a word. Disappearing in a panicked flap of fractured wings.

“Interesting.” She ignored the comment as she mentally flung his door open.

“Go.”

“You haven’t answered me.”

She turned around, taking a heavy breath before ushering Ash in.

There were a lot of people in the heaven and she knew she should report them. Send them all to their own locations but… they were familiar. Humans. Humans she hadn’t seen in lifetimes now. Faint faces. A man she knew she’d lost her virginity to. All hunters. Even a few faces that she didn’t know but could guess the identities on by association with some of her more bitter memories.

“Jo.” Then she was being hugged, arms wrapped tight around her sides like there was nothing strange about the situation. Like everything was normal and her mind wasn’t warring with itself. She reacted before she thought, flinging the woman that had attacked her against the wall and staring in astonishment when the rest of her caught up with what she was seeing.

“Mom.” The word felt so foreign. So firm and concrete. Steady and filled with the same certainty that came with her telling Aedmiel she loved her.

She transported herself across the room then, grabbing her mom and pulling her into a tight hug. She was crying. Crying for a reason she didn’t fully understand anymore. Pain… loss. It had to be loss. Her heart ached. It was all too much. Too confusing.

She didn’t dare let go though. Even if she couldn’t fully process what she was feeling in that exact moment, she did know she needed to hold onto the woman in front of her.

“I was staring to wonder if you’d ever come visit.” Her mother murmured, holding her tight. “Only been, what? Four? Five years?

So much longer. Her mind supplied unhelpfully. Longer than she fully knew how to put with words. She had been with Aedmiel in Hell for so many lifetimes… Shuddering, she tightened her grip.

“We weren’t allowed to stay in Heaven or Hell.” She felt obligated to explain. “Not even really Earth.” She added as an afterthought. “Just The Veil.”

“Doesn’t mean you couldn’t break a couple orders for me.” Why hadn’t she? It wasn’t like she’d known the sacrifice. Death hadn’t explained to her the full extent of what her transition to being a Reaper meant. Why had she bothered listening to him?

“I’m sorry.” She muttered, pulling away and wiping at her own eyes. Michael’s. She was supposed to be going to Michael’s room. She couldn’t let Aedmiel down. She needed to go but…

Mom.

“Ash, get them out of here. I need some time with my daughter.”

Time that she didn’t have. “You can see her. But if you do, be sure it’s with her in mind. I’ll lie if I need to. She can’t take losing you again.”

She shouldn’t have come here. Following him in was an awful decision because she had to go. It wasn’t a matter of whether or not she should. She had to. There were things that needed to be handled. Protections she needed to lay down for if Michael and Lucifer chose to retaliate.

“I have to go.” She confessed, looking away before she could fully register the crestfallen look on her mother’s face.

“So, it’s true.”

“You can’t understand what I feel for her. How… raw it is. Pure.”

“She’s killin’ people, Jo.”

“People die every day.” She countered, defensive when she shot her focus back to her mother. “Aedmiel is doing what she has to for her cousins.”

“I don’t want to argue with you, Jo. I don’t. But… I know what she did to you. I know what happened when Hell closed.”

She bristled when she felt the arrival, turning slowly to meet Samael’s icy gaze. He’d changed appearances again. Very recently if she was to guess. Tall, dark brown hair. Piercing blue eyes that burned with reaperlight.

“You shouldn’t be here.”

“Why not? Because a nephalem claims Heaven as her own? We are beyond that, Joanna. It is why I chose you that day.”

“You didn’t choose me.”

“I did, though. Death wasn’t risen yet. Not completely. You blamed him for something he wasn’t responsible for.”

“He never told me what it would be like.” Jo moved on. It didn’t matter if Death wasn’t the one who took her. He named her as a reaper. It was his fault.

“It doesn’t matter anymore.” Samael stepped forward and Jo followed the movement. Ignored the way that Samael spread his wings in an obvious warning. “You are a reaper Jo. I’m aware you went through a lot in Hell but that changes nothing.”

“Death is dead. There is no order among the reapers and you have nothing to say. If you don’t leave me now, though. I will send you-“ She froze, gaze moving to the gleaming ring settled against his ring finger.

Aedmiel had that ring. They had taken it off his corpse. It wasn’t possible. “You aren’t the owner.” She swallowed. She wasn’t scared. Not yet. Aedmiel could still help her. “If you were, you wouldn’t be standing here. You would be killing her.”

“You don’t sound certain. I’m going to tell you once more, then I will take you unwillingly. It makes no difference to me.”

“Yes it does. If you’re vouching for freedom…” Everything changed in a sudden moment, something heavy and painful cutting against her chest and causing her to cry out as it burned into her very core. Heavy. Rope.

Sigils.

She fought against whoever it was that was confining her, panic flaring up as she sent a desperate prayer in Aedmiel’s direction. Samael moved, stepping forward to tie off the rope that had caught her. His wings were heavy and harsh as he embraced her. Arms wrapped around her sides and she screamed. Voice ripping through all of Heaven.

Then she was being moved, flying through the worlds. Coming out somewhere she couldn’t recognize. Blind. She had been blinded.

“Let me go! Aedmiel! She will rip you apart!” She thrashed in Samael’s hold. Anger boiling against her veins as she drew on her scythe. It manifested, sharp and jagged end slamming into a wing. Before she could react, Samael had dropped her, wing carrying the smooth blade with him as he moved back. His hand was wrapped around the hilt as he pulled it from the tender flesh of his wing. Uncomfortable. Angry.

“I’m sorry, Joanna. I didn’t have a choice.”

The room was barren. Concrete walls and floors sporting a large assortment of targeted wards. Reaper. Preventative wards that kept out only God knew what. A stairwell went up at the far end, a female figure standing at the end. Familiar.

“Lucifer.” She hissed out, struggling against the ropes until she could get on her own feet. Samael had crossed the space, pushed past Lucifer without saying another word. “She will tear you apart.”

“She can’t find me. Little bro definitely put his work in before he died. He knew so much. Didn’t bother telling us a thing. Not personally. But while I was rifling through his things I found something vitally important. You aren’t getting out of here and Aedmiel isn’t getting in.”

“Where are we?”

“It’s not important.” Lucifer stepped up to the edge of the wards, pressing her palm against the invisible barrier. “What is important is what my niece did to your head. You don’t love her. Not really. You’ve been through actual Hell which is the only reason you aren’t dead.”

“No.” Jo moved towards the edge, ignoring the heavy weight of wards pushing into her as she pressed herself flat against that same wall. “You didn’t kill me because you committed the worst crime an Archangel can commit. You fell in love with your Vessel. And in truly Lucifer fashion, you took it a step further and fell in love with your True Vessel. That’s one of the ultimate forms of narcissism.”

“You aren’t going to bait me with Sam. You aren’t scary on your own. Aedmiel is already a looming threat.”

“She loves me. She will come for me.”

“You don’t want her to.” She jolted when Lucifer’s hand suddenly broke through the barrier, hand wrapping tight around her shoulder. “She had you for a long time.” Lucifer was in her head. Digging into her brain. “Oh, Joanna. You don’t even remember do you.”

“Get out.” She fell back deliberately, breaking the contact and shoving herself back with her legs. “I absolutely do not consent to you infiltrating my mind. No part of me ever will.”

Lucifer pursed her lips, shaking her head. “I guess that I will leave you here then. I hope you realize, if Aedmiel shows up. You’re the first thing that’ll die. As of this moment, you’re our leverage.”

“I…” She stared at her. “You wouldn’t do that.”

“I sacrificed a human city to summon and bind Death. Do you really think I wouldn’t use someone that used to be a friend of a person I cared deeply for as leverage?”

Jo didn’t answer, glaring at him with fiery hatred. “I was never friends with Sam and Dean. Their father killed mine.”

“And the cycle goes. Aedmiel really knows how to program in those daddy issues. I’m impressed that you didn’t try to kill your mother.”

“She didn’t do anything to me.” Jo scowled, trying to wriggle loose of the ropes. “She just told me the awful things that you all did to her. You tortured her. Kept her from protecting her from her cousins.”

“You’re probably already lost and I’m never going to get anywhere with you as long as you’re like this.” Lucifer sighed heavily, shaking her head. “I’m going to send someone down to talk to you. Maybe she’ll get through. Maybe she won’t. I don’t really care.”

Without another word, Lucifer turned and made her way up the stairwell. Jo was alone for no more than five minutes before the door opened and a woman descended the stairs. Her mom. Alive.

“Why?” She asked because she was sure now. Certain without a doubt that it had been her mother who caught her.

“Because Samael told me everything. I know what happened to ya and I had to hope that maybe someone can fix you.”

“I don’t need to be fixed.”

“I’m sorry, baby. I am. But you’re in bad shape. Samael couldn’t tell me the specifics because he didn’t know. What he did know was you killed Death.”

“I hate him. Mom- he stole my afterlife. He didn’t… he didn’t tell me. It was endless. Lonely. I wasn’t allowed to see you and it hurt. Aedmiel…. She gave me an option. She cares.”

“You could’ve stopped being a reaper at any time.” Her mother continued on, clearly ignoring what she was saying. “Lucifer seems to think I can make you see reason. I didn’t do it before, though. You’re too stubborn.”

“This isn’t like hunting, mom. This is about helping the woman I love do what she has to for her family.”

Her mom pressed her lips together before approaching the barrier and stepping over it. Crossing the space to where she was seated. “What do you love about her?” A knife sliced through the bindings around her arms and she stretched her arms out, gaze wandering across the woman carefully. The suppression of her powers didn’t change at all. The room was a box. Locked box. Cage.

“Who brought you back?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Reapers don’t resurrect people. We aren’t allowed to. Who resurrected you, mom?”

“Lucifer.” If it hadn’t been for the stunt that morning Jo didn’t think Lucifer would ever risk going directly into Heaven. Not when Aedmiel was there. “Now will you answer my question?”

“What did you love about dad?” She countered, glaring. “That’s not a fair question and you know it.”

“His smile.” Ellen didn’t hesitate on answering the mostly rhetorical question, giving her a long and patient look.

Jo shut her eyes. Maybe it wasn’t a trap. Maybe her mom would listen. Maybe she could make her understand. “Her voice. I love her voice.” If she could… maybe she’d let her out. Aedmiel didn’t want to hurt Heaven’s souls.

They went back and forth like that for a solid hour. Jo wasn’t stupid. She didn’t give up information on what Aedmiel was doing. Her plans and whereabouts were none of their business. But it felt good to talk to her. To explain her side.

She just wanted to go back.

.-~*~-.

“I’ll be back later.” Ellen told Joanna from the bottom of the stairs, Lucifer leaned back against the doorframe with the heels of her hand pressed against her eyes.

“This was stupid, Samael.”

“I did warn you.”

“Twenty seconds isn’t a warning. Dean barely made it out of The Bunker with all his limbs. I’m pretty sure Dog’s dead. Aedmiel is livid.”

“She was already angry. Joanna is the only thing in existence that Aedmiel gives three damns for and even if I loathe it. Because unlike you, I do care about her wellbeing. She is a vital bargaining piece for now.”

“I’m not sure you’re right.” Lucifer couldn’t help but think back on the image of nephil grace pouring down from Heaven and pouring across the Bunker and a portion of Lebanon. “That attack would’ve obliterated Joanna as well.”

“It was a targeted attack. Michael used it on Boralein during The First War.” Lucifer flinched at that memory. Bodies and structures burning up all around her and Michael descending from the skies like a beam of pure energy, dark wings contrasting deeply behind him.

“Michael knew my exact location. Aedmiel didn’t even know if she was there. How certain are you that she’s in love with Jo?”

“It isn’t about her being in love. It’s about her clinging desperately to the one thing she recognizes without a doubt as hers.”

“My daughter isn’t a thing.” Ellen sounded tired as she stepped out of she basement, arms wrapped around her sides as the door clicked shut behind her.

“Thinking of her as who she was is dangerous.” Samael warned without any form of tact.

“What he means is by distancing himself he is less likely to be hurt if things go poorly. Do you believe she is still in there?”

“Not enough.” Ellen admitted. “And she was careful. Didn’t give any particulars about that nephalem.”

“I think Aedmiel's loathing of her mother is the only reason she didn’t consider you into her brainwashing. If she gets her back, though… it will become part of it.”

“If Aedmiel comes here,” Ellen said so low Lucifer almost didn’t catch it. “I will kill Jo myself. I can’t give her back to her.”

“You do understand, in her own messed up way, Aedmiel does love your daughter. And willing or not, the sentiment is returned.”

“She came into Ash’s heaven lookin’ like she’d been attacked by a damned bear. That’s not love. It’s abuse and if I have to kill her to end it, I will.”

Is that what a mother’s supposed to be like? She thought internally, watching Ellen make her way down the hall.

“Samael, you do realize that when Death is replaced you will be punished for resurrecting her, right?”

“I sealed my fate the moment I chose to help. Michael is having angels try the rings before he addresses the nephilim. We need a replacement before Aedmiel starts killing reapers.”

“Try the demons. They’ve been dead and undead.”

“What about the new angel?”

“I can’t imagine Castiel being the key but I suppose it’s worth attempting. He is in the garage with Meg.”

“Is the second one still in Hell?”

“I haven’t heard a word since she had me bring Meg and Castiel back. I can still feel the link so I suspect she’s still traveling downwards.”

“Or your mother shredded her.”

“Or that.” Lucifer agreed, listening to the sound of Jo yelling from the basement. It barely held a match to the death threats Aedmiel was firing at her over Angel Radio.

Samael disappeared without another word, leaving her alone in the hall at one of Gabriel’s safehouses.

‘We need to spend some time together, Michael.’ She sent quietly across their link.

Chapter Text

Michael looked at the small group of nephilim that had chosen to stay. Just nephilim. The other variants had all fallen prey to Aedmiel’s story. A highly victimized version of what had truly happened.

Yes. She had been a victim of circumstance. But it wasn't why they wanted her. She had been ruthless from the moment Gabriel gave birth to her.

Now… now Aedmiel was promising her cousins the Earth and Heaven and Michael honestly didn’t know how to take it.

“I trust none of you. Not until you prove yourself. Each of you is a potential mole, and even if this wasn’t the case, I would not be involving you in battle plans.”

“Are you going to fight her?” A younger one he didn’t recognize asked, voice small and timid. His wings were small as well, shifting restlessly as he actively tried to make himself look smaller. 

Michael was certain he’d tried to kill this one before they had been forced to cage them.

“Aedmiel has taken Heaven and Hell from myself and Lucifer. These are our domains. Nephilim, nephalem. They don’t belong in either. Earth is the closest thing to ever being rightfully yours.”

“Because we’re abominations.” He was not cut out for this. At all. Adam nudged the side of his mind and he gave the human full reign.

Lucifer could be angry another time. Heaven wasn’t safe.

“You aren’t abominations.” The nephilim watched Adam warily, eyes planted firmly as he nudged Michael mentally to fold their wings into their back. “Maybe freaks but being a freak's not a bad thing.”

“Why should we listen to you?”

“Because I’m a freak too.” Adam didn’t hesitate for a moment. “I’m living in the passenger’s seat of an Archangel I’m in love with. Lucifer wants my head on a platter for it. We aren’t normal. But normal's boring. Normal’s for people that can die and pay their taxes. What we’ve got is one of the strongest creatures in existence wanting to compromise with the creatures that were wronged by God Himself.” Michael could tell Adam wasn’t just referencing the nephilim. Was he wanting approval from Lucifer? It was amusing to say the least. Maybe worth attempting. Father, help him Lucifer was far too volatile for that conversation to take place while Aedmiel was free. Possibly when things were resolved.

“Where would we go if not Heaven or Hell?”

“Lucifer is working on an alternative. If that doesn’t work, though. We want to help you integrate into Earth.”

“Humans won’t accept us. They never did before.”

“They don’t have to accept you. They won’t need to know you exist-“

“So, what?” Another spoke with a scowl. “We hide ourselves to make them more comfortable? How is that in any way fair to us?”

“It is what we do. It’s what they do. You don’t get exactly what you want. This is about compromise.”

'I sensed her. She isn’t dead.’

'Your mother is likely holding her. How far out of sync do you think Hell is with Earth?'

'If Joanna is anything to go by, higher than it’s ever been. But Mother would potentially cancel it out.’

Which left them with more questions than answers. “Aedmiel is promising us Earth.”

“Aedmiel will never stop. If you want to go to her, then go. But she doesn’t know when or how to stop when she’s gone too far. When she grows bored of you, she will do whatever she feels like.”

“Have you tried to talk to her?” The timid one asked.

“She isn’t reasonable. Not when it comes to angels. I won’t deny we are at fault for some of it, but not all of it.”

Tell them you want them here. Adam said quietly in the back of his mind. You don’t need to mean it. But they need to hear it.

It was such a human request that Michael almost ignored it. Until he reconsidered based off of the same reason he had given Adam control.

“You can go back to her.” Michael said again, carefully wording it to match how Adam suggested it. “But we would prefer you stayed. What we did to you back then. It wasn’t justifiable. The punishment did not match the crime and while Lucifer would blame Father for it. The truth is we didn’t fight too hard for any of you. We want you to stay. It doesn’t mean we’re going to force you. We want you here.”

'That was sweet.’ Lucifer mocked him softly. 'Tell Adam I said go to Hell.’ There was no malice to the words. Just exasperation mixed with frustration.

Michael couldn’t decide if he was frustrated or relieved when four of the nephilim flew off. It didn’t leave them with a whole lot but any nephilim was better than none. Every one they could make turn against Aedmiel was less members to her army.

“Where are we going, Michael?”

“Earth. Your uncle Gabriel planned ahead. There’s a place for you to stay. It isn’t very big but it is large enough to hold you for now.”

“And what will we do while we’re there?”

“Learn about humanity. Adam says you should try playing some video games.”

“What’s a video game?”

“I have no idea.” Michael smiled softly at the confusion on their faces. “My kids are there. If you don’t trust me, trust the fact that I refused to kill them.”

The remaining group looked between each other, Michael not sure what it was. Silent communication? He couldn’t identify any active angel wavelengths.

Humans don’t need their voices or minds when they know each other well enough. Even if they don’t, they’re making sure the others are certain. They don’t trust you yet.

Michael didn’t ask for specifics, watching as the stronger winged ones wrapped their arms around the others' shoulders. “Lead the way.”

“Stay hidden until we arrive.” The front one nodded sharply and Michael spread his own wings, leading the nephilim to one of the safehouses Gabriel had left for them.

Far from the safest but Aedmiel seemed set on making her cousins believe she was a benign ruler which meant if she did find this place, she wouldn’t kill her cousins. Or at the very least, she wouldn’t torture them.

Lucifer met them there, arms crossed over her chest as she watched his children excitedly tug their cousins into hugs before dragging them to the television room.

“They’re cute.” Lucifer finally said, leaning into his side. “For abominations.”

“You’re just disappointed you never got to carry mine.” Michael countered, wrapping his wings around her.

“Hell, no. I will happily be a mother but I am never going to do the pregnancy thing. I will leave that to my partner.”

Michael paused for a moment, pushing Adam down with surprisingly little resistance. “Would you want to?” He asked, watching the children explain something he would likely never grasp to the younger ones.

“What? Bear your angelspawn? Or knock you up? Because that’s a loaded question considering where we are right now.”

“I’m serious.”

“So am I, Michael. World’s ending and frankly, I’ve done the having kids thing. Three of them are standing at the head of Aedmiel’s army and the rest… Mother’s influence doesn’t do anything good.”

“In a hypothetical then.” Lucifer scrunched her nose, glowering at him from the corner of her eye, wing twitching irritably.

“Is Adam in there filling your brain with absolutely ridiculous concepts?”

“It isn’t Adam. He’s in a dream. I’m not being literal, Lucifer. I know neither of us are capable of handling the responsibilities that come with raising an actual child. I want to know whether in a hypothetic situation where our families didn’t spend every waking moment trying to destroy our relationship that you would want to try to having a fledgling.”

“Humans ask this as a test of faith. Do you think that after all we’ve done, I’d abandon you?”

Michael shook his head, turning his entire focus on Lucifer. “I want mutual ground. I need to know how far you would go with our relationship.”

“No.” Lucifer said, tone icy and frustrated. “I wouldn’t have a fledgling with you. I don’t associate children with happiness and I never will. They’re weapons and they’re dangerous.”

Which was the answer he’d hoped for. Lucifer wasn’t doing everything she was doing to please him. To make him happy.

“What about you? Would you curse us with one of them?”

“If we were more compatible, perhaps. But no. Not as we stand now.”

“Asshole.”

“That answer is as sound as yours and you know it. And I said I would. Not that I wish to. We have plenty of kids here to deal with anyways.”

“If we calculate Hell time, they are probably older than either of us.”

“We are older than time, Lucifer. We can’t possibly compare that and I stand by what I said. They are children. Children we are responsible for.”

“Not we. You. Not a single child in there is related to Mother by Grace. If they were, they would be your mole.”

“Relation to Mara does not make someone evil.”

“It doesn’t make us good either. Gabriel and I are the corrupt Archangels for a reason.”

“Unique.” Michael countered. “What She did isn’t all your fault.”

“I kept going.” Lucifer grimaced. “All I wanted in The Cage was your blood on my hands. I wanted to make you hurt. That wasn’t Mother. That was me.”

“We agreed not to discuss that.”

“Yeah, we did. We also agreed to drop topics that inevitably will end with arguments but you brought up parenthood like it was at all a viable conversational topic for either of us. I’m going back to the other place, Ellen just prayed to me and apparently Dean is insisting on going to speak with Joanna.”

“Maybe that isn’t a terrible idea.”

“She’ll tear him apart.” Lucifer huffed, shaking her head. “It’s a risk.”

“Only if he crosses the wards. Joanna is a reaper without her blade and at one point she was Sam and Dean’s friend. If the information we had collected at that time is anything to go off of, she had feelings for him.”

“Just because she was attracted to him does not mean she will suddenly discard only God knows how much time of brainwashing to love Aedmiel. She helped lead Sam to his death.”

“Just Sam. And we did. Each time we produced a nephilim we were discarding love in favor of attraction.”

“Or we were being petty assholes. Michael, it’s an awful idea.”

“Joanna only stays leverage as long as Aedmiel thinks she’s worth it and having her as leverage doesn’t work if she figures out how to get her before we find the next Death.” Unless Lucifer was able to decide Mara’s state and they released her.

“She isn’t leverage. She’s a liability and puts both of us in more danger than we already were in. We went from being a target because principle to being a target for stealing someone she loves.”

“There isn’t a difference.”

“There is, Michael. The same difference I would see. If the roles had been reversed that day, if one of them had tried to drag you into The Cage and succeeded? I wouldn’t have stopped until I had you back.”

“Then you would have killed me.” Michael deadpanned, glowering.

“Maybe. But the point stands.”

“Lucifer, you are comparing Aedmiel’s warped and twisted obsession with your love for me.”

“Are they not one in the same? I love you, Michael. I do. But I would rip apart Creation for you and if you think for a moment that Aedmiel won’t you’re being obtuse and shortsighted. Coming from the head commander of Heaven’s armies, I can’t see it being that which means you’re in denial. I’m still tainted. I’m not cured. The only reason why I’m standing beside a bunch of humans is because the armies of Hell are gone and I won’t sacrifice our angels for a lost cause. You need to stop putting me up on this damned pedestal.”

“Lucifer-“

“Don’t.” With a shove, Lucifer flapped her wings and took off. Michael groaning and rubbing his temples before chasing after her. They stayed low to the ground, traveling the longest distance possible through the most densely populated cities on the planet.

Aedmiel was silent.

‘She isn’t angry at you.’

“She’s right, though.” Michael murmured to Adam, coasting between two large buildings. For a moment he imagined what would happen if they saw him. If he chose to show the world he existed. That they all existed. It had been a long time since angels willingly walked among people. Openly. What if he did now?

Aedmiel was likely going to destroy them anyways.

'You are being optimistic about her. Just like you’re being pessimistic about the fate of humanity. Maybe try reversing that.’

'You think I should worry about her?'

'I think you should consider what she said. She’d rip apart Creation for you.’ Just out of the forefront of his mind Michael caught what Adam was implying. He didn’t like it. It made a flash of anger burn deep in his Grace and he nearly slammed into a building before righting himself.

'She wouldn’t.’ He put up a simple barrier in his mind. Not wanting Lucifer to listen in. To hear Adam’s implications. Because it couldn’t end well. Wouldn’t.

'I'm telling you this because I love you. I wouldn’t bring it up to be a dick.’

'Yes you would.’

Silence fell for a moment and Michael finally landed in a crowded park. He could catch Lucifer later. 'Before, yes. I'm done being a selfish asshole. If she thought for a moment that she could, Lucifer would sell everything out to Aedmiel for your safety. And if Aedmiel is anything like she seems to be, I can see her taking it just to see Lucifer surrender.’

'No. She wouldn’t.’ Michael shifted in his seat, turning to watch the human children run across the playground. 'Revenge on me and Lucifer is one of her main priorities.’

“So is winning.” Michael nearly took flight at the sudden appearance of a nephilim next to him.

Zagan.

“If I was going to tell Aedmiel I would have already done it. Where is my father?”

“She is not here. Tell me what you’re doing here.”

“Acting as a voice of reason.” Lucifer’s son answered and Michael shifted in his seat, tucking Adam away and barring the attempted prayer he tried to send to Lucifer. She didn’t need to be here too.

“I really doubt that.”

“Aedmiel is being quiet. She isn’t telling us what she wants us to do and my cousins are scrambling. I’ve been assigned as her second in command but without information I have been forced to improvise. As we speak, my cousins are scouring Earth in a desperate hunt for Joanna.”

“And you want me to give you her.”

“Of course not. I want you to kill her.” Michael stared at Zagan. “I look to gain in every way with Joanna out of the picture and neither of you will lose anything for it. Aedmiel wants you dead either way.”

“We also gain nothing for it. The answer is no.”

“I found you, Michael. Not because I happened to stumble across you but because I know where you are going. I followed that angel Castiel on one of his flights.”

Michael tensed, looking towards the nephilim and trying to gauge his demeanor. The intent behind his actions and words. What could he- “You want to take Joanna’s place as Aedmiel’s consort.”

“My intents are none of your business.”

“This is petty and childish.”

“Coming from the mate to the woman that decided she wanted to commit genocide because God wouldn’t accept her relationship.”

“Lucifer was being manipulated by The Darkness. She isn’t without flaw, Zagan. Aedmiel is nothing but flaw. She will get bored and destroy you and if she finds out about this conversation, you will regret ever having it.”

“I’m not afraid of her.”

“Then you’re a fool. I will take care of Joanna because I honestly have no choice in the matter, even if I don’t trust you.”

‘Let me pray. Lucifer can kill him.’

‘Not before he can call Aedmiel. It’s too much of a risk to bring her here.

“Good doing business with you, Uncle.” With a flap of fractured wings, Zagan was gone and Michael was flying again.

‘We need to move, Lucifer. Quietly. And ground Castiel before I change my mind and rip his wings back off.’

‘What-‘ Michael didn’t let the question finish before he shoved memories of the conversation with Zagan into Lucifer’s mind.

‘I’m going to kill him.’ It wasn’t clear whether she was talking about her son or Castiel but Michael was on board with either for that moment. Once Michael was certain he wasn’t being followed he made a beeline straight for the safehouse, touching down in Gabriel’s once-bedroom. There was yelling coming from the hallway, Lucifer and Dean’s voices carrying just barely through the walls.

Michael ignored it, opening drawers and closets to dig for anything that Gabriel might have left for them. He’d done it in the Bunker.

‘Gabriel was an interesting character, wasn’t he?’ Adam asked quietly as Michael tossed another box of video tapes behind him. More porn. So much porn. Scowling, he shook his head.

“He was everything an archangel wasn’t supposed to be. But he saved us.”

Michael. The words on the front of a box at the very back of one of the closets nearly missed his attention. There was lingerie and some other objects that Michael could have gone all of his existence without seeing shoved against it. If it wasn’t directed at him, he never would’ve thought it was something that had been left more recently. Everything around it seemed like it had been abandoned for years.

Shoving the items away from the small cardboard box, he picked it up and carried it over to the bed. Inside was a DVD, a small journal, and a small dagger made with a metal that Michael couldn’t identify. He took the disk and plugged it into the player behind him, waiting for a minute before the screen kicked to life. This time around, Gabriel was in a half-submerged room with a dolphin swimming around in the background. It was pretty dark but Michael was able to recognize the setting as Atlantis.

“So, Mikey. If you’re watching this, I continue to be right about my asshole denial. I guess you both owe me a big fat told you so. I am sorry. I honestly did think she was gone.” Video Gabriel turned a bit, wings curling close to his back as he looked at the setting behind him. “I hope Dog’s still alive. I hope you assholes didn’t leave him to die because he matters to me more than anything else in existence.” The dog was still alive. In fact, it had appeared at his feet the moment Gabriel started talking. Michael would never understand the attachment but he wouldn’t complain.

“The blade in the box is special. I really hope this is you and not her because if it’s her… well, hi. Been a long time. If not, Michael this is vitally important. You need to guard that blade with your life. It’s an Embanstroe.” Everything shifted for a moment and the video Gabriel stopped talking. They weren’t real. He wanted to smack Gabriel, stab him for the false hope because they didn’t exist.

“Now that I’m sure you’ve lived out your shock. I know it’s the ramblings of a half dead prophet but I’ve tested it. It works. Only catch is you need the parent’s Grace to channel through it. Obviously, I’m dead. But there’s stashes. Places I have it hidden away. This part is going to be tricky because I can’t tell my daughter where they are. Only God knows what you could do with it if you got your hands on it.

Gabriel was staring directly out of the screen again, something resembling anguish crossing his expression as he no doubt addressed Aedmiel in the hypothetical that she found this disk before he did.

Michael, you will need to make Lucifer look. If anyone can find it, she will. Now, lastly. My wards will never hold forever but they will protect you for a while. Most are old but some are young. I had to mix them. If this house is compromised go to the first of the last. It is secure as well but it doesn’t have a containing room. There is one at the third of the fifth. The containing room is small but if you manage to trick her, you’ll be able to hold her for a while. I really hope you kept the stuff from the first box because that is the only way you’ll know what any of this means. If she is alive, I do regret not making one of you do this. Dying just to give the world no chance isn’t something I ever planned on doing.” Lucifer had joined him at some point, quiet as she could possibly be as she cycled through the notebook they had found in The Bunker.

“Did you find it?”

“Probably. I don’t want to leave her unmonitored, though.”

“Make Samael do it. He dragged us into this.”

“Or we could let her go. She’s a liability. Leave her here, tell Zagan to fuck off. We’ll already be gone.”

“This is the last video. So, hope you got what you need. Tell Sam I wish him the best if he’s still alive.” Lucifer winced. “And tell Dean to tell his damned demon he wants to be more than enemies. I wish you the best of luck in killing Castiel if you haven’t already. And Dog, if you’re alive. t gahalana. Bye, guys.” The screen went black and Michael looked down at Dog as the Jack Russel whined, disappearing in a flash of white light before Michael could say a word.

“It will exist?” The Enochian didn’t help him and it obviously wouldn’t help

“The crypticism is exhausting. Not new but still frustrating.”

“We have a lot more experience with it than Aedmiel. It’s undoubtedly meant to confuse her in the off chance that she beats us to the locations.”

“He knew. There’s no way that he made all of this if he didn’t know. I want to be angry with him for denying it but…”

“Gabriel loved his daughter enough to let her destroy Creation. Say as he wants, it is in everyone’s best interest that he wasn’t here when she broke free.”

“I wish he was here, though.” Michael shifted uncomfortably, picking up the blade and putting it in his pocket. He frowned at the bottom, a small white paper catching his attention.

“And I wish Raphael was with us.” Michael picked the paper up and flipped it over, scrunching his eyebrows at the image. It took longer than he liked before he finally understood what he was staring at.

Something impossible because that human technology hadn’t needed to exist yet. Yet, without a doubt…

“Lucifer.” Michael tugged her over and shoved the paper in her face.

“That- how?”

“Time travel. How could he possibly have chosen to go that far back without falling into temptation?” Michael shook his head, touching the image. It was the four of them, on one of God’s first worlds that Mara had ultimately destroyed. Michael and Lucifer were tucked under one of the trees, Lucifer grooming his wings. Gabriel and Raphael were over the top of the purplish waterlike substance of the planet, Gabriel carrying Raphael by one of her tails.

“He was always stronger than we gave him credit for.” Lucifer shifted, pressing the picture against her chest and breathing deeply. “I’m going to start moving them.”

“Lucifer- do you think we should’ve done it for him?”

“I don’t think he would have let us.” She turned and made her way out the door, wings tucked closer around her. It was such a tender topic and Michael knew that Gabriel’s final farewell couldn’t ever make up for the fact that he’d planned for his death. Especially to this extent. The first box hadn’t appeared until after Aedmiel escaped and it was by dumb luck that Crowley had accidentally gone into the room. Or by completely intentional manipulation of the environment in the Bunker. None of them really knew just how much preparation Gabriel had done for his death but Dean had compared it to a paranoid human creating a bomb shelter beneath their house in preparation of the end of the world.

Ironically, their end of the world shelters weren’t nearly as safe as they should’ve been. Maybe they should cut down some of the people they were protecting.

Sighing deeply, he spread his wings before walking to the adjacent room.

“You aren’t leaving her here.”

“We can’t take her to where we’re going, Dean. If you don’t like it, go down there and stab her in the damned heart. She’s not your friend. She’s the biggest liability we have and that’s gold considering your best friend singlehandedly outted us to my dickbag son.”

“That isn’t-“

“I’ll do it.” Ellen spoke up from the back of the room. “You want to leave her so that you aren’t held responsible for kidnapping her? I’ll stay. Tell her what happened.”

“She’ll destroy you. It won’t just be death.”

“Yeah, well any less heat on y’all is worth risking that.”

“You died for us before, Ellen. I can’t let you do this.” Michael, please don’t let her do this. She’s already done it once and- Michael didn’t let Dean’s prayer finish, stepping forward and grabbing Ellen and him both by their shoulders before taking flight.

'Lucifer, it’s your choice. We can keep her longer or we can send her to the other house. Tell Castiel to pay attention when he comes to join us.’

'It may be worth keeping her for now.’ Lucifer admitted with clear reluctance. 'I am going to take her to the secondary house for now.’

‘Please be careful. The second you have her in transit you know she will try to pray.’

‘She won’t be conscious.’ There was a frustrated determination in Lucifer’s voice. ‘After this, Michael. We need to stop separating.’

He had never agreed more with something more. ‘I know. I’m going to watch for one of your children, Lucifer.’

‘Or we could use one of yours.’

‘That isn’t amusing.’

‘It’s far from a joke, Michael. We need to know if that blade is real and kidnapping another angel’s nephilim is going to be difficult at its easiest. We’re going to have to make sacrifices.’

‘Lucifer-‘

‘Sam did it. Sam sacrificed his soul trying to fix his mistake. We need to do what we have to. No matter the cost.’ Michael didn’t answer her, focusing on the world in front of him instead. Sacrificing one of his children… he didn’t want to. Killing them wasn’t an option.

‘You could ask the nephilim at the house.’ Adam suggested. ‘Or the ones with Hel.

That was another option that he didn’t really think would go well. It was an option though. Kill one of his children. Potentially match one of the remaining angels with their child so they could try to kill them. It wasn’t a fair deal for anyone and it wasn’t particularly viable until they found one of Gabriel’s Grace reserves. Wherever it may be.

‘Michael.’ Castiel’s voice was panicked, heavy with fear and Michael knew exactly what had happened before the image of Zagan trailing him was sent across their connection. Michael dropped down into an alleyway, focusing his vision through Castiel’s. ‘If he catches me- Michael, tell me you have a plan.’

‘You can’t lead him to the house. If he finds it, Aedmiel will kill us all. You know that.’

‘I have her.’ Castiel looked down where he had Meg held close against him. ‘I can’t-‘

‘Drop her. If you’re lucky, Zagan will pay attention to you. Not her. Try and lead him to the house. If things go well, you can trap him in the basement.’

‘And if they don’t, I will die.’

‘You knew the risk. Don’t endanger the rest of us.’ Michael retaliated harshly, sending a quick warning to Lucifer to get Joanna out of the basement. Castiel dived, dropping Meg as gently as he could at his speeds outside of a hospital before flying backwards. Zagan’s wings weren’t nearly as strong but it also didn’t stop him from keeping up with Castiel whose wings were still recovering. Michael could feel the inevitable doom for the young angel but couldn’t make himself care enough to pity him. His irresponsibility was the reason that they were having to vacate the home in the first place. Still, he couldn’t make himself stop watching as Castiel ducked downwards, sharp claws catching the back of his wings and causing him to wail in pain.

Michael swallowed, resisting temptation to just break the connection as Zagan flipped the angel over, claws tearing into his chest.

“You get one chance.”

“I won’t tell you anything.” Castiel answered, whimpering when the claws dug deeper. Voice ragged and harsh.

“Fine. Then, Michael- Lucifer. I’m not sure which of you it is.” Zagan said lowly, mouth curling a wicked smile. “But I’m going to tell her exactly what Castiel told me.” Lie. He was going to lie to her. ‘How you’ve been torturing her sweet little reaper. Ripping her apart in all the ways that we know you are capable of. Ripping every ounce of information on her that you can get. Michael, you should have killed her.’ With a single sharp motion Zagan drew an angel blade from nowhere, plunging it into Castiel’s stomach. Breathing sharply, he ripped out of the shared connection and rubbed his temples. Damn it. Damn it.

‘Michael.’

“Not now.” He said quietly, pushing Adam back down and taking flight. ‘Lucifer, drop her. Leave her in the open. It’s not worth it.’

Lucifer didn’t answer.