word-count:~12,000 (4,500 this chapter)
characters: Sam, Dean, Zachariah, Lucifer
warnings: End!verse, blood, violence, disturbing imagery, torture
summary: Lucifer always kept his word, but he'd found a way to make Sam regret ever asking him to keep Dean safe.
author's notes:This was written for this year's spn_summergen exchange for volgyi_viki's wonderful prompt: Lucifer won and took over the world in Sam's body. He keeps Dean a prisoner. If Sam misbehaves (tries to fight the possession) Dean is punished, if Sam behaves, Lucifer lets him talk to Dean once in a while.
Due to the likes and dislikes of the requestor I shortened the story that was posted for summergen. What I'm posting here is the full version.
Many thanks to my beta amberdreams!
After the Fire (Author's preferred text)
Part 1. (Sam)
“Hey Dean, just checking in. I took out a vampire nest in Portland today. A small one.” Sam ran his hand through his hair shaking out some of the snow that had gotten stuck there. The tip of his ears were still numb from the cold. “There were only four of them. I hadn’t seen any in so long, I was started to think they died out, you know?” He paused trying to think of what else he should say. “Tell Bobby I say hi.”
He ended the call and tossed his phone on the single motel room bed. Then he stripped out of his his shirt and his snow-soaked pants and took a long shower, the warm water burning as his cold fingers and toes started to thaw. By the time he got out of the shower the small mirror in the bathroom was completely fogged up. He grabbed one of the washcloths hanging from the towel rack and went to wipe the mirror clean. Then he froze. In the center of the fogged glass was a pitchfork.
Sam stumbled back a few steps, grabbed the doorknob and threw the door open as quickly as he could. The cold air from the main room covered his chest and arms in goosebumps and he hurriedly grabbed a t-shirt and pair of sweatpants from his duffel, keeping his eyes on the bathroom the whole time. The mirror had cleared, and the pitchfork was gone, but Sam still saw it, burned into his mind.
He brought his laptop over to the bed and crawled under the sheets, still shivering. The heater was broken, but it hadn’t really bothered him until tonight.
It took him hours to fall asleep, and when he did his dreams were uneasy. He ran through a few rounds of his latest recurring nightmare—the one where he was in the Impala, but when he turned to look over at Dean, Lucifer was in his place, holding the steering wheel loosely and smiling. After the sixth loop though, something changed. It was Dean in the Impala, but he wouldn’t look at him.
“Dean,” Sam said, but he got no response. He tried again louder. “Dean?”
Something about Dean’s hands looked off, and Sam leaned a little closer to see why. Dreams always had a way of warping perspective, so even though he hadn't moved, he could suddenly see the back of Dean's right hand with perfect clarity. The knuckles were starting to poke through. His brother's skin was an angry red and it was peeling—falling off in chunks as Sam watched. He turned then, to smile at Sam through teeth bloody, and said, “It’s better this way, Sammy.”
Sam woke up in a cold sweat. He walked to the bathroom sink in the dark and let cold water sluice over his wrists until his pulse slowed down. In the wan light of the hotel room, his reflection in the small bathrrom mirror showed him only the barest hints of features: hair, hollows for eyes, a nose, a chin. He looked like a vague memory of a man.
The bed-sheet was cold when he climbed back in, and he lay there staring at the ceiling and couldn’t get back to sleep. After struggling with himself for nearly twenty minutes solid, he finally gave in and dialed Dean’s phone again.
“Hey, it’s me again. I just— uh…” There was a lump in his throat, but he swallowed it down angrily and forced out the rest of his sentence. “I just want to know you’re okay. I know you don’t want to talk to me, or whatever, but if you could just— just let me know you’re okay. You can send a text, or maybe Bobby—”
The phone beeped, cutting him off. ”This voicemail-box is full.” said a polite, recorded voice.
Sam's hand shook when he lowered his phone, and he dropped it onto the table. He sat there for a while, watching his phone until it turned itself off. Then he climbed back into bed, and stared through the open bathroom door at the small mirror.
Sleep pulled him under again at some point, thanks to his physical exhaustion. He went right back to the Impala.
Lucifer tapped his thumbs against the steering wheel and then frowned at Sam, shaking his head. “That was the last one, wasn’t it? Every mailbox is full. No more numbers to call.”
“I can call Bobby,” Sam said.
“And he'll just hang up on you again,” Lucifer huffed. “Why are you torturing yourself like this?”
“Because I'm worried about Dean.”
“You think he’s not answering because he's in trouble? You think he's...dead?”
“No. If he was dead, Bobby would’ve told me. He just doesn’t want to talk to me, and he probably changed his phones.”
Lucifer shrugged. “Whatever helps you sleep at night.”
“You know what would help me sleep?” Sam snapped. “Not having the Devil in my brain every time I close my damn eyes.”
The archangel chuckled. “Can’t change that, Sam. It’s all I have, since you won’t tell me where you are. And I have to wonder…” The empty grey around the Impala started to turn a pale orange. “…why is that? You really think I won’t find you eventually? Do you have any idea how many demons are spilling out of Hell every day? In a few more weeks, I will have eyes everywhere. I’ll find you, and then you can put an end to all this."
“An end?” Sam scoffed. “What end? You said you wouldn’t let me die!”
“Of course I won’t let you die. I care about you. I want you to be happy.”
The orange sky became a bright cherry red and heavy rain started to fall on the windows, rolling down the glass like thick drops of blood.
"Think about it Sam. Thousands of people possessed every day, all because you won't talk to me face to face. Are you really that much of a coward? Are you so self-obsessed that you think you're worth that kind of sacrifice?" He raised his eyebrows, smirking, "I mean I know you're worth it. I'd kill the whole world to get through to you. I just didn't think you'd be on board with that plan."
Sam said nothing, focusing instead on the window and the red rain outside. It started to leak in through the glass, trickling down the edges and onto the door handle, onto Sam's boot.
"You do know that all you're doing is delaying the inevitable, right?" Lucifer asked.
Sam turned to answer, just in time to see Lucifer melt—his body dissolving into a sea of blood. Sam tried to pull his legs up onto the seat, but then the windows shattered, and the blood rain from outside came through the windows, soaking him in seconds. The smell of sulphur and iron coated his tongue, and he shuddered when a drop landed on his lips.
Sam woke up to rain pelting against the motel room windows.
They found him just outside of Detroit. Sam had been investigating a haunting, and was patching himself up. The ghost had tossed him into a wrought-iron gate at a bad angle, and he'd bashed his elbow pretty thoroughly.
He went out to the ice-machine, and when he came back to his room, there were three black-eyed men waiting by his door.
They parted to let him through as Sam walked inside, then followed him in.
"How did you find me?" Sam asked, his back towards the three demons. He pulled off his over-shirt and held the ice-filled towel against his purpling elbow.
"The gas station on Route 83," said the demon furthest from the door. "We were surprised you didn't notice. Used to be you could smell us miles away."
Sam huffed. "I haven't been able to shake the smell of sulphur since Garber. Guess I thought it was in my head."
"Poor Sam," Lucifer said, appearing suddenly on the edge of his bed. "That's what happens when you deprive yourself."
The three demons sunk to their knees and bowed their heads.
"Don't mock their faith," Lucifer said, looking offended.
“You really expect me to believe you care about them?” Sam walked over to the small table and sat in the chair. It was as far away as he could get from Lucifer without leaving the room. The air had gotten ice-cold, and he let go of the ice pack, wrapping his arms around himself for warmth.
"Why wouldn't I? I created them."
Sam stood, drawing Ruby's knife and stepped towards the demons. They didn’t react, stayed exactly where they were, kneeling with their eyes on the floor. Keeping his focus on Lucifer, Sam stabbed the demon closest to him through the chin, pushing the tip of the knife into the brain. The knife sparked and the demon lit up from inside before flickering out of existence. The other two demons didn’t move. With a Herculean effort, Sam did not look at the blood-slicked blade when he pulled it back out.
“What happened to the sanctity of human life, Sam? You used to care about whether the host lived or died.” The Devil shook his head, his mouth curved down in pity. “If you stopped denying yourself your gift, you could’ve pulled that demon and Donald Garson here would still be alive.”
Sam was so angry he could feel his jaw twitching, but he said nothing.
“Waste of a perfectly good body.” Lucifer tilted his head to the side and a dark cloud of smoke appeared, flooding into the corpse on the carpet. It quivered as the demon took hold and then sat up, blinking first at Sam, then at Lucifer. “I’ve got 61 billion spares, Sam. Care to try again?”
“No. Just leave.” Sam turned away from the newly inhabited Donald Garson, trying not to watch the blood run down the hole in the man's chin.
The archangel laughed and clapped his hands together. “If that’ll make you happy, fine. I know where you are now. I’ve got your scent.” He stood and walked towards Sam. “You will never be able to hide yourself from me again. So I’ll leave. I’ll give you a whole day. One thousand, four-hundred and forty minutes. You can say your farewells, write out a list of demands, go to Disneyworld for all I care.” He took another step closer and poked his finger into Sam’s chest. “But tomorrow night I’ll be back, and I will never leave you again.”
Lucifer vanished, taking the three demons with him.
It took Sam twenty minutes to scrub the bloodstain out of the carpet. His hands only shook slightly, and he was thankful that the strong chemical smell of the carpet cleaner almost overpowered the sulphur stink of the blood.
When he stood up again, he got a head rush and realized he hadn’t eaten since lunch. He didn’t have much of an appetite after the events from earlier, but he had to think clearly. It wouldn’t be smart to face the Devil on an empty stomach. Again.
He settled for a small bag of pretzels, an apple and coffee to clear his head. The food did nothing to quiet his stomach, and the caffeine didn't make his thoughts any clearer. There was a park a quarter of a mile from the motel, and before consciously deciding to, Sam had walked there.
He finished the last of the coffee, tossed the empty cup into a trash can, and stood by the side of the small lake, looking at the dark water. Dawn was less than an hour away, and the sky was starting to grow paler, blue grey with pink tinges at the very edge of the horizon.
Sam closed his eyes, and focused on the soft wind, the sound of the trees rustling. Then he prayed to a God he knew didn't care, to an angel that probably hated him, to anyone that would listen.
It was a mistake, but then he'd been making a lot of those lately.
He could feel the pull of angelic power, and opened his eyes hopefully, wondering if Castiel had come after all.
The lake looked different. The sun had come up while his eyes were closed, and the water reflected its image, low and red. Slightly to his left, something was sticking out of the surface of the lake.
It only took Sam three steps to realize he was looking at a decaying arm. He shuddered, and turned away, terror building in his gut.
The trees behind him were still there, but they looked ragged and charred. There'd been a fire here, not too long ago. The ground was still black in places, and a fine layer of ash was mixed in with the brown pine needles.
He walked out of the park, looking warily around him. Everything looked different. He recognized the same landmarks; the gas station where he'd picked up the pretzels was still there, but the pumps were gone, and the little convenience mart was dark, with shattered windows and a busted, lopsided door.
The motel was more or less intact on the outside, but his key didn't work and when he forced open the door, he regretted it immediately. The room stunk of death.
There were two corpses on the bed, clinging to each other. Sam got close enough to see the gunshot wound in the head of the mother before he turned and fled.
He ran for miles, with no idea where he was headed. The surreal world around him mixed with Lucifer's words from earlier and all he could feel was a desperate need to get away. To escape.
He ran until his legs burned and his lungs ached, then he stopped to catch his breath near a bridge.
The bridge was still intact, but it had been blocked off. There was a big military truck parked across the other end, cutting off access to the road. Sam walked closer, curious, and climbed up and over the truck.
When he jumped down the other side he had a clear view of his surroundings. He was on the outskirts of Detroit, according to the sign. There were empty cars on the streets parked haphazardly, most of them with open doors, like whoever had left them there had left in a panic.
Sam walked slowly down the road until he got to the city itself. There wasn't a person to be seen, just empty stores, pigeons and more empty cars.
"What the hell…" Sam muttered to himself as he turned a corner down a side street. A cat scurried along the side of the rust colored brick building on the left, and disappeared down a narrow basement window.
Around the corner was another empty street filled with more empty buildings and so on and so on until finally Sam got to a fence. A crooked sign mounted to it read, 'HOT ZONE — NO ENTRY — 12.28.2013 — BY ORDER OF ACTING REGIONAL COMMAND — Detroit, MI'
"December 28th 2013," Sam read, less concerned by the idea that he'd somehow been torn forward through time than he should have been. The last year had given him a new perspective on what constituted a crisis.
There was a tear in the fence a few feet down, not terribly large, but with some well-angled tugs Sam made the opening large enough for him to slip through.
At first, the fenced-off section of city looked a lot like the rest. After a few minutes alone, Sam saw someone—an injured man limping past him at the other end of the alley he was walking down. Sam jogged until he caught up with the man and called out, "Hey! Excuse me sir, wait a minute!"
The man turned around with eyes so bloodshot they looked pink. His skin was stained with blood and his clothing looked like it had been torn apart by wild dogs.
The man ran at Sam full speed, his bad leg pounding the pavement unevenly like he'd suddenly forgotten he was injured. His mouth was wide open and snarling. When he got close enough he lunged.
Sam dodged the attack, feinting to the left before sliding past the frenzied man towards a dumpster to grab a jagged piece of wood. He grabbed the broken 2X4 and wielded it like a bat, bashing the man in the head. He staggered back dazed, but shook his head and came at Sam again, apparently unaffected by his now broken jawbone.
"The hell…" Sam muttered, before he brought the wooden beam crashing down a second time. This time the man fell to his knees, a significant dent in his head where the wood had broken through skull. When he pushed himself back up on his hands and stared up at Sam with hungry eyes, a long-buried memory clicked into place. "Croatoan virus, " Sam said, before turning to run.
It took him nearly five minutes to get out of the hot zone, and he only got away because he stopped long enough to grab one of the infected people chasing him and throw them at the other three. Something about the impact distracted them long enough to turn on each other. By the time Sam was scrambling over the fence, all four were tearing each other apart.
Less than 300 feet out of town, Sam found an abandoned car with the key still in the ignition. He got in and drove until he found a highway on-ramp. The radio stations were mostly static, and the only one that worked was a news-station looping two things over and over: the weather forecast thirty-two degrees high, ten degrees low overnight, and the latest statistics on the 'C-Virus' Philadelphia, the last East Coast city to be evacuated, has been officially declared a Hot Zone as well, estimated death toll of the virus is now over two and a half million, please make sure to visit the CDC's info page at cdc dot gov for the latest updates and tips on how to protect yourself from infection…
Sam's eyes stung when he blinked and his heart thumped unpleasantly in his chest. His instincts were still screaming at him to call Dean, but the chances of his brother picking up now were even slimmer than they'd been back in his own time. The radio flared to life again and Sam heard the faint strains of a pipe organ in the background just before the whole stereo system sparked and died.
"Shoddy manufacturing," Zachariah said, appearing in the passenger seat next to him. "They just don't build 'em the way they used to."
Sam ground his teeth together. "Is this your doing?"
"This?" Zachariah raised his eyebrows. "This utopian future where nearly every consumable product is free assuming you get your hands on it first and nobody shows up to try to kill you? No, I can't take credit for this. That's all you, buddy."
"Did you bring me here?" Sam asked, hating the angel more with every word. Like he didn't already have his hands full with Lucifer following him around. "Are you working with Lucifer?"
Zachariah brought a hand to his chest. "Me? Work for the Serpent? Come on Sam, no need to get nasty."
"Then why am I here?" Sam asked, shifting lanes towards the next exit. He wasn't going to keep driving with the angel in the car. Even though he hadn't seen another soul driving, he felt more comfortable trying to get away from Zachariah on a local road. "You gonna kill me again?"
"We both know that wouldn't do any good," Zachariah said, showing teeth. "I brought you here, that much is true. But I did it for your benefit. I'm not entirely unsympathetic to your plight, Sam. You got a raw deal."
Sam fought the urge to take his hands off the wheel and throttle the angel. "So…what? You brought me to the future to show me what happens if I say "yes" to Lucifer?"
Zachariah scoffed, "Is that what you think this is? No, no, no. This is what happens if you don't."
Sam turned the steering wheel a bit too forcefully at that, sending the tires squealing as he compensated by hitting the brakes, just barely staying inside the borders of the off-ramp. He pulled onto the local road, still trying to process what Zachariah had said.
"Ooh, stop here!" Zachariah said, pointing out the window at an empty Starbucks parking lot. "I like their lattes."
"No," Sam muttered, keeping his eyes trained straight ahead. "There's nobody there anyway."
"Oh ye of little faith," Zachariah said before vanishing.
Sam felt his heart skip a beat as his jumbled thoughts fought for priority. He pulled into the next parking lot he came across and put the car in park. There was no point in running. Zachariah could find him here, no matter where he went. He'd found him once.
"Lot of good these carvings did," Sam said to himself, rubbing a hand over his ribs. Lucifer had either passed on his whereabouts, or undone Castiel's spell work. Whatever the case, until he found the materials to make up a new angel-warding hex-bag he wasn't going to lose Zachariah's tail.
It had started to rain—fat drops dotting the dusty windshield, and Sam's thoughts drifted to the Impala, wondering where it was. Where Dean was.
"They even gave me an extra shot of vanilla!" Zachariah said, smiling smugly as he reappeared next to Sam holding a large coffee cup. He'd taken the lid off and was inhaling the scent coming off of the milk foam.
Sam ignored him and turned the car back on. "There was nobody in that store. Did you grab some baristas from 2010 too?"
"Something like that," Zachariah said, as he lifted the coffee cup to his lips.
Sam stepped on the brakes with just enough force to send the hot liquid sloshing onto the angel's face.
Zachariah sputtered angrily and the car disappeared.
Sam found himself sitting on thin air for a split second before landing on his ass on a thick, cream-colored carpet. They were in a hotel room—much better quality than what he was used to. There was a leather couch and a king-sized bed, and from what he could see from where he was sitting, a balcony looking out over a city.
"Very mature," Zachariah said, wiping the foam from his nose and chin with the handkerchief from his suit pocket. He put his coffee cup down on the polished table and frowned at Sam. "Sit with me."
"No," Sam said, as he pushed himself to his feet.
"Oh for Pete's sake," the angel gestured at the seat across from him and tapped his fingers against the shiny surface of the table. "I didn't forget about you."
A second cup of coffee appeared across from him with the name 'Sam,' scrawled on it in black Sharpie.
"Caramel mocha half-caf, no foam…just the way you like it," Zachariah said, forcing a polite smile that looked like it hurt.
Sam turned his back on the angel and moved towards the balcony. The moment he opened the glass doors, he knew that they were back in his own time. Cars honking, people talking…the sounds of the city were loud, and normal. Human.
"Just sit," Zachariah said, his voice a touch colder. "I can always zap us back to the future if you need some more visual aids."
Despite the anger curdling in his stomach, Sam walked back to the table and sat in the empty chair.
The angel folded his hands and fake-smiled again. "I understand what you're trying to do, Sam. You think that somehow you refusing Lucifer will stop the Apocalypse."
Sam kept his eyes focused on the tabletop. It had a swirling pattern in it. Barely noticeable at first glance, but the more he looked, the more the whorls and curves looked like feathers.
"It's a noble thought, but I gotta tell you champ, you're too late."
Sam's eyes flicked up to Zachariah's.
"You already opened the floodgates. The end times are here." The angel raised his hands to his sides, palms out. "The problem is that right now we've got nothing but bench-hitters in place of our MVPs. We're gonna go into extra-innings—decades of slaughter—if you don't get over yourself and accept your fate."
"My fate. You mean to be the Devil's meatsuit?"
Zachariah's smile tightened. "To be Lucifer's meatsuit." He clasped his hands, touching the tips of his pointer fingers together. "I'm asking you to say 'yes.' Help us end this, Sam. Don't let your own arrogance drag out a battle that could've already been over and take the whole planet down with it."
It had been easier when the angel had tried to kill him outright. His current sales pitch was a whole lot harder to stomach. “I thought you wanted Dean to say yes,” Sam said.
“We do, and I have no doubt he will. But not until you play your part.”
“Dean will never—”
“Really? You so sure about that? See I think that the only way he’ll step up is if we make this excruciatingly personal.” Zachariah leaned back in his chair and pointed at Sam. “When Lucifer is wearing your face, Dean won’t have a choice but to intervene.” His lips curved. “You know it’s funny. When I first suggested this plan the others laughed at me. Everyone said you two would never turn on each other. Never.”
Sam turned away from the angel’s smug stare and looked out the window. It was raining again, and the sky was getting grayer by the minute.
“But after what you did? After the demon blood, and the lies, and—oh yeah—setting the Devil free, I think Dean’s finally starting to come to his senses." The angel snorted and added. "The irony of course is that he would've forgiven you for all of that. That twisted codependency thing you two have going? It only works when it's mutual."
The bitter taste in Sam's mouth grew stronger. He knew exactly what Zachariah would say next.
"It was Ruby he couldn't forgive you for. You went and trusted a demon. Trusted her over Dean." The angel took another big sip of his coffee and smacked his lips in satisfaction. "When I heard you and your brother were Splitsville, I have to admit, I breathed a sigh of relief.”
Since Lucifer’s visit, the undercurrent of anger in the back of Sam’s mind had been stronger than ever. At first, Zachariah had just made it worse, but now Sam wasn’t angry at all anymore. He felt weird. Deflated. Because the angel was right. He was right.
“Dean will do the right thing. He’ll stop you, because he’s the only one who can.” Zachariah winked at him, and disappeared.
After a minute of complete silence, Sam walked to the desk by the balcony, grabbed the hotel pad of paper and gold-tipped pen and started to write.
Exactly six hours later, he said "yes," to Lucifer.