Characters: Sam, Lucifer, Dean
Genre: Coda (5x04)
Word Count: 2,900+
Warnings: Spoilers up to 5x04
Summary: Why Sam said yes.
Notes: Thanks to itskaylie and getyourguns for betaing! Also, there is a podfic version available HERE, thanks to pbfate! ♥
Sam bites back a hiss of pain as he tugs the needle through the last stitch, watching with narrowed eyes as the thread pulls his skin together, closing the gash on his thigh. The rakshasa had come dangerously close to slicing his femoral artery, leaving him pale and weak from blood loss by the end of it all. Driving to the motel, he'd nearly lost consciousness twice, and Sam curses his own carelessness for the thousandth time. He should have known better than to walk into closed quarters without protecting his blind spot. He hadn't even checked to make sure there was nothing hiding in the vents. He might as well have slathered himself in A1 sauce and offered the creature a fork and knife while he was at it. Dean would never...
Sam winces at the sharp pain that has nothing to do with the throbbing slash on his leg. Gritting his teeth, he knots the thread and snips off the loose end. He almost relishes the searing hot sting coursing through him as he washes off the wound with the last of his whiskey. Anything to keep his mind from lingering on thoughts of Dean. He tapes gauze over the stitches with shaking fingers and tosses the bloody shirt he'd used as a makeshift tourniquet into the trash. He contemplates taking a shower, but he's too exhausted to move. Clearing the bed of debris, he strips off the rest of his clothes and crawls under the sheets. He's asleep within seconds.
It's been three years since Dean said Bye, Sam and hung up on him, but his absence never hurts Sam any less. Sam had kept calling -- first daily, then weekly, then every other month or so. After nearly two years, Sam gave up.
Deep down, Sam knows what the silence means.
It doesn't matter how hard he tries. It doesn't matter how many evil things he kills, or how many lives he saves.
There is no redemption. There is no forgiveness. Not for Sam. And certainly not from Dean.
Lucifer comes to him that night. Sam feels the bed shift under his vessel's weight and sits up with a sigh.
"You really don't know how to take no for an answer, do you?" Sam says. "I'm starting to run out of ways to tell you to fuck off."
"What are you doing, Sam?" Lucifer asks. He sounds just as weary as Sam feels, his tone that of a long-suffering parent trying to reason with a stubborn child.
"I was trying to get a good night's sleep. A nice, dreamless sleep."
"Is that why you've picked up this new habit of yours?" Lucifer indicates the empty bottle of Jack Daniels on the bedside table.
"If I hadn't wasted half of that on my leg, I probably wouldn't be talking to you right now," Sam mutters.
Lucifer regards him with sad eyes, and Sam feels anger flare up in his chest.
"Don't. Don't you fucking dare pity me."
"What are you doing, Sam?" Lucifer asks again. "Hunting bedtime stories when there are such bigger concerns at hand."
"I'm saving lives."
"You're wasting time," Lucifer says. "Stalling."
Sam wants so badly to deny him, but the words won't come.
"You're meant for more than this," Lucifer says, his voice soft and earnest. "You know it's true. Moving from town to town, drinking yourself into a stupor in run-down motels night after night, alone... This isn't what you're meant to do. This isn't who you're meant to be. There's a war raging, a world hanging in the balance, and you're hiding."
"I'm trying to fight you," Sam says. The protest sounds feeble even in his own ears.
Lucifer smiles indulgently. "Let's not kid ourselves, Sam. If you wanted to fight me, you could have slaughtered a hundred of my demons by now." He leans in closer, his eyes traveling down the length of Sam's body then up again, like a caress. "You have the power to command legions, Sam," he whispers. "If you wanted, they would all fall to their knees before you."
"I won't," Sam says, his voice shaking. "I won't become that."
"I know, Sam," Lucifer soothes. "And I won't ask you to."
"Then why are you here?"
"Because you're lonely. Because my heart breaks for you, Sam," Lucifer says. And Sam is shocked to see the devil's eyes well with tears. Lucifer blinks them back and goes on, "I know how alone you feel. How frightened. I feel it, too. You want someone beside you, someone to tell you it'll be okay."
"And you think I want that someone to be you?" Sam says with as much venom as he can muster.
"No." Lucifer smiles sadly. "I know you want your brother back, Sam. And believe me... I know how it hurts to be betrayed by your own family."
Sam looks away, unable to take any more.
"Just leave me alone," Sam whispers. "Please."
When Sam looks up again, Lucifer is gone.
And Sam feels abandoned all over again.
Detroit is crawling with demons. Sam can sense them lurking inside the cheerful postman strolling down the street, the homeless veteran on the park bench, the sweet-faced girl at the grocery. He counts them off as he walks to the diner five blocks from the motel for lunch (twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four), keeps tally as he walks back again (thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine). They smile at him and give him a wide berth, clearing a path for him with lowered eyes. Sam can taste sulfur and iron on his tongue as he passes.
Sam knows he shouldn't stay. The job's finished, his leg is on the mend, and there's nothing he can do against this many demons. He doesn't have Ruby's knife, the Colt is all but gone, and he lost his powers the night he gave up drinking demon blood. The night he set Lucifer free.
It's not just the demons, either. There are bound to be hunters here, too, and over the past few years Sam has grown just as wary of them as he is of the things they hunt, if not more so. Word had gotten out about what happened in Oklahoma with Hank and Reggie. Ellen had called to warn him that as far as the hunters are concerned, Sam is fair game. Half of them want him alive and used as a weapon, the rest want him dead for what he's unleashed upon the world.
A year ago Sam had barely escaped from a band of hunters in Colorado. He called Dean while on the road, left him a message on his voice mail begging for help. Dean never called back. That was the last time Sam ever dialed his number.
A week later Sam started drinking.
From one addiction to another, but at least whiskey helps Sam sleep and dull the damn ache in his chest. Sam doesn't know how long he can keep this up, how long he can walk the fine line between a functioning alcoholic and the kind that passes out in the gutter. John had tread this narrow road for over twenty years, and Sam laughs into his bottle sometimes at the thought of him carrying on this great Winchester tradition.
Sam wakes up with a start. There's a shadow falling across him, and Sam sits bolt upright, his hand reaching for the knife under his pillow as his eyes strain in the darkness to make out the intruder.
Sam's heart leaps to his throat and he freezes, too stunned to speak. A man is standing over his bed, his hands buried in the pockets of his leather jacket, a gold amulet resting against his chest.
"Dean," Sam whispers.
Dean says nothing, just smiles at him. And Sam allows himself to feel joyous and hopeful and relieved for a full five seconds before realization comes crashing down.
"Lucifer," Sam says.
Dean nods, and Sam wishes he could feel angry. But there is no rage left in him, no fight. Sam realizes then that he's done. He's been running and hiding for three years, killing the odd evil here and there, saving people only to hand them back over to the mercy of demons. All of it meant nothing. Like Lucifer said, he's wasting time.
"Sam, I'm sorry," Lucifer says, in the low, gravel-rough voice Sam has been longing to hear for so long. "I know it isn't fair of me to come to you like this, but... I thought you would appreciate a familiar face."
Sam manages a short laugh, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed to face Lucifer's idea of a favor. "I think I liked it better when you pretended to be my dead girlfriend," Sam says.
"I could do that, too," Lucifer says, and he sounds genuinely eager to please.
"Forget it," Sam says, rubbing his eyes. "Just... What do you want? Let's get this over with."
"You know what I need from you," Lucifer says, sitting down beside Sam. "But I'm not here for that. I'm here to ask you what you want."
"I told you. I don't want anything from you," Sam says, hating the way his body leans into Lucifer's, even though he knows it's all a lie. That's not Dean's solid warmth beside him, that's not Dean's familiar scent. None of it is real, but Sam can't stop himself from wanting it to be.
"You want your brother back," Lucifer says.
"He hates me." The words are out before he can stop them, and Sam can feel his resolve crumbling as the full weight of them sinks in.
"Oh, Sam, no," Lucifer murmurs. He reaches up to stroke Sam's hair, his fingers brushing back the strands from Sam's eyes and tucking them behind his ear. The touch is so tender and loving that Sam nearly sobs. "You couldn't be farther from the truth."
"I just want to see him again," Sam whispers.
"I can give you that, Sam," Lucifer says. "Say yes to me, and I promise--"
Sam jerks away from Lucifer, the peaceful moment shattered in an instant. "How fucking stupid do you think I am?" he snarls. He leaps to his feet, putting much needed distance between them. "Say yes? I do that, and I'll just prove to him that I am what he fears. A monster."
Lucifer regards him with wounded eyes, and Sam tries not to feel guilty for putting that look on Dean's face. Not Dean, Sam reminds himself. Not really him.
"Is that what you think I am?" Lucifer asks.
"You're the Devil," Sam says incredulously. "Of course that's what you are."
"More of a monster than Dean?" Lucifer stands up and gestures towards himself. "A man who's been raised as a soldier, trained to kill without mercy or hesitation since he was a child? A man who tortures without batting an eye, who soaks his skin in blood and goes to bed without remorse?"
"Don't talk about my brother like that," Sam says darkly.
"You know it's the truth," Lucifer says. "Deep down, you know your brother's twisted and cruel."
"No. No, he's--"
"He abandoned you," Lucifer says firmly. Sam flinches at the words but Lucifer presses on. "When you needed him the most, he turned his back. If that isn't cruelty, then I don't know what is."
The anger drains out of Sam just as fast as it came. "Just stop it," he whispers. "Please."
Lucifer steps towards him, closing the distance between them in two strides. "Say yes to me, Sam," he says softly. "Say yes, and I promise you, not only will you see your brother again? But he will demonstrate to you the greatest act of love in the whole of creation."
"You know I don't lie," Lucifer says, and it's so strange to see Dean looking like this, so gentle and earnest. "I promise, Sam. Dean will come to you. And you will see just how deeply he loves you."
It's a trick. It has to be. But Sam realizes then that he doesn't care. He's tired -- tired of running, tired of hiding, tired of fighting a hopeless battle, tired of waiting for forgiveness that will not come. Lucifer is right: Dean is the one who turned his back, and if this is the only way for Sam to see his brother again...
"You don't have to be alone anymore," Lucifer says, cutting into Sam's thoughts with a softness to his voice Sam has never known in his brother.
Sam looks up into Dean's face and allows himself to believe for a moment that it's really him. He smiles back and nods, feels the crushing weight on his shoulders ease.
Enough stalling. Sam just wants to rest.
"Okay," Sam says. "Yes."
2014. Jackson County.
Dean runs into the garden behind the abandoned sanitarium, the sound of gunfire and screams snapping at his heels. Lucifer is waiting for him, dressed all in white. Glowing. He looks radiant in Sam's skin, and Dean remembers Castiel telling him that Lucifer was once the most beautiful of God's angels. Looking at him now, Dean has no trouble believing it.
"Hello, Dean," Lucifer says.
Dean draws the Colt from the waistband of his jeans and aims for Lucifer's head. They're feet from each other, point blank range, and Lucifer is making no attempt to move away.
"I'm going to give you five seconds to get out of him," Dean says, and this wasn't the plan. This isn't how it was supposed to be. Dean should have pulled the trigger the second he rounded the corner, Lucifer should be dead already.
But it's Sam. And even though Dean had known that Sam said yes, even though Dean had spent the past two years hunting him down, readying himself for this very moment... He still hadn't been prepared for the sight of his brother standing before him.
"Six, seven, eight... Looks like I'm still here," Lucifer says with a serene smile. "Have you come to kill me, Dean?"
"I mean it," Dean growls, his finger tightening on the trigger. "Get out of him, or I'll shoot."
"Shoot me, then," Lucifer says. "Here, I'll make it easier for you."
There's a flash, and suddenly Lucifer is standing less than a foot away, the barrel of the Colt pressed up against his chest. Instinctively, Dean takes half a step back, cursing under his breath.
"Don't fuck with me," Dean says, and he's shaking now. This wasn't how it's supposed be, Dean is supposed to be stronger than this. That's not Sam anymore, his brother is dead already. His brother's been dead for two years.
But still Dean can't pull the damn trigger.
Lucifer smiles and shakes his head sadly. "You don't have to pretend with me, Dean."
"Last warning," Dean says, tightening his grip on the Colt.
"If you were really going to kill me tonight, you'd have done so already," Lucifer says calmly. "History really does has a way of repeating itself. Sam couldn't pull the trigger when my servant was possessing your father. And now, here we are again."
"Just tell me why," Dean demands, voice trembling. "Why did he say yes. What lies did you feed him, you sick sonofa--"
"I don't lie, Dean," Lucifer says, and for the first time there's a hint of anger in his words. "I told him the truth. And the truth is, you abandoned him. The truth is, all Sam wanted was his brother to forgive him, and you denied him that. He lived in fear for years, hunted like an animal by the people you call friends. He said yes to me, Dean, because he believed he'd already lost you. That you hated and feared him anyway, so what difference did it make if he gave in to me?"
"I never hated him," Dean says, his heart sinking with horror. "I never--"
"I know," Lucifer says softly, gentle once more. "And I told him as much. I promised him that if he said yes, he would see you again. That he would see just how much you love him." He smiles, his eyes brimming with tears. "And here you are. Refusing to kill your brother even though you know it's the right thing to do. The only way for you to save the world."
"I'll do it," Dean whispers.
"No, you won't," Lucifer says. A tear slides down Sam's perfect cheek, and Lucifer is weeping. "If only Michael loved me as much as you love Sam. None of this would have come to pass."
"Just let him go," Dean begs, abandoning all pretense. "I'll do anything. Just let him go, please."
"I wish it was that easy," Lucifer says. He wipes his eyes with the back of his hand and smiles. "Time's up, Dean."
Another flash, and Dean is lying flat on his back, Lucifer standing over him with a shoe pressed against his throat. Dean looks up and sees Sam smiling down at him (so beautiful) and thinks it's not so bad to die like this, really.
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life on behalf of his brother," Lucifer says quietly. "Goodbye, Dean."
Dean's neck breaks with a sound like a dry branch being snapped in two, and inside Sam is screaming.
It starts to rain. Lucifer turns around and sees Dean standing before him, wide-eyed with fear.
"Oh," Lucifer says. "Hello, Dean."