Title: Throes of Perdition
Warnings: torture, hallucinations, violence, blood, gore
Author’s Notes: thanks to my beta quickreaver
Summary: In the cage, time moved differently.
In the cage, time moved differently. There was no way to mark its passage. A second lasted an eternity; there was no sun and no moon, only the Morningstar.
Sam lost sight of Adam while they fell. Michael's grace tore out of Adam and tried to escape, pushing up futilely until the earth above them sealed itself shut. Sam got stuck somewhere on the way down. Trapped like a fly in a web — invisible strands of power holding him tight in the middle of an endless, dark void.
That's when the fire took him.
It burned and burned — a thousand times more painful than fire had any right to be. It wasn't just Sam's body that burned, it was his soul. He screamed until his throat melted and his lungs turned to ash.
Hours, days, weeks later Lucifer's touch brought Sam back into a cohesive whole. The Devil's fingers wrapped easily around all of him, and Sam had never felt so small. He was a mouse, an insect, a grain of sand, and how he'd ever managed to take control back of his body was beyond his comprehension.
"You didn't take back control," Lucifer said, his voice echoing through the endless nothing. "I let go."
"Why?" Sam asked, with his newly reformed tongue, jaw and mouth.
Lucifer's fury dug into Sam — a thousand sharp teeth and claws, all made of ice. "No. You don't get to ask questions. Not yet."
The Devil pulled him apart, but left all of his nerves intact, sending a flood of agony through his entire being. The pain grew more and more unbearable until Sam longed for the comparatively gentle fire.
Hours, days, months later when Lucifer abruptly let go, Sam was too exhausted, too far gone to ask why. He slipped into a blissful stupor as the flames consumed him whole.
Sam woke to find Lucifer digging his way into his mind. It hurt as much as it had in Detroit. His body was the Devil's instrument once more, and Sam didn't have enough energy to even think about fighting.
"Time to have some fun, Sam," Lucifer said, striding purposefully through the emptiness of the cage until Sam saw a patch of light in the distance. As they got closer and closer, Sam realized it was a forest clearing. Lucifer stepped from the void onto earth. Dead, brittle leaves crunched underneath his feet. They walked farther until Sam saw the familiar gates of Stull Cemetery.
"No. We're still prisoners. We haven't gone anywhere. Think of this as a high quality, interactive simulation."
Sam felt Lucifer leave him, and looked around, unhappily. He didn’t want to think about Stull, he didn't want to remember what he'd done to Dean before—
That was Dean's voice. Sam turned and saw Dean standing by the Impala. He was fine, he was even smiling, albeit nervously.
"Sam is that you?"
Sam nodded and walked faster, breaking into a jog for the last few steps. He pulled his brother into a tight hug.
Dean didn't hug him back, so Sam let go after a while, trying not to make things any more awkward. When he pulled away enough to look at his brother, Sam’s breath got stuck in his throat. Dean’s face was bloodied and broken — his nose shattered, his eyes swollen shut.
"Dean?" Sam stepped back and Dean crumpled to the ground.
Sam dropped to his knees next to Dean and rolled him over, but it wasn't Dean's face that looked back at him, it was Nick's.
Lucifer smirked up at him.
"You son of a bitch,” Sam muttered under his breath.
Lucifer chuckled as Sam got back to his feet and turned away from him in disgust. “What’s wrong? Don’t like being reminded of how you left him? Broken. Alone.”
Sam’s fists clenched in anger, in denial.
“You killed Castiel. You killed Bobby,” the Devil continued. “You left your brother with broken bones, and nobody to help him mend.”
“That’s not true,” Sam protested, shaking his head. “He has Lisa. He said he’d go to her and Ben. He promised. She’ll take him in, she’ll help him.”
“Right…because that’s what everybody wants in their life. A man who’s damaged on the outside and twice as busted on the inside. What a dreamboat,” Lucifer scoffed.
Sam refused to turn towards Lucifer, focusing instead on the dead leaves swirling around his feet. They were the color of rust and old blood.
“Plus, it’s not like Dean has a habit of drinking when he’s miserable right? Not like there’s a history of violent drunks in his past that he could emulate.”
Anger made Sam’s heart pound heavy in his chest. He spun on Lucifer.
The Devil was leaning against the Impala. He looked bored. “Seems like the perfect father figure to me. What could possibly go wrong?”
“Shut your mouth,” Sam said, his voice low.
“Make me.” Lucifer grinned, and he was right there, inches from Sam’s face.
And Sam lost control. He slammed his knee up into Nick’s stomach and brought the Devil down to the ground. He kicked him in the ribs — twice, for good measure. He dropped down on one knee, brought his fist back and punched Lucifer in the face, over and over and over.
The Devil laughed through it all, blood spattering out of his mouth and running down his chin.
Sam pulled his fist back and stared at the blood on his knuckles. He couldn’t tell if it was Lucifer’s, or his own, or if there was even a difference.
“Aww, what’s the matter Sam? Does your hand hurt?” Lucifer sat up and spit out a tooth. “Want me to kiss it better?”
Sam meant to walk away. He stood and started to turn, but then the Devil laughed again. The sound scratched against the inside of Sam's skull, and rage — white-hot and all-consuming —flowed through him until that laugh was all he could hear, all he could think about. It had to stop.
So he stopped it. He punched and kicked and snapped bones until Lucifer stopped laughing. Then Sam stood up and looked down at what he'd done — the bruised, battered head, bloody shirt, broken arm, and fractured leg.
“You feel better?” Lucifer asked from behind Sam.
Sam looked over his shoulder and turned back, half expecting the bloody body to be gone. It wasn’t, but something was wrong. Something was…different. Sam crouched down and looked at Nick’s face — what was left of it — and realized that it wasn’t Nick at all.
It was Adam.
“Oh my God. Adam.” Sam fell to his knees, and reached for Adam’s head with a shaky hand.
The Devil laughed and clapped his hands together mockingly, applauding his own cleverness. “That was fun. You really worked him over good, too.”
“I —“ Sam clenched his eyes shut, trying to fight back the wave of nausea and guilt.
“Oh please, don’t worry about it. Michael will fix him up. Good as new.” Lucifer put his hand on Sam’s shoulder, leaned down next to his ear and whispered, ”Just like I fixed you.”
“Adam, I’m sorry.” Sam reached for his brother as the grass and soil started to crumble away beneath him. Lucifer held Sam back as Adam fell. “I’m sorry," Sam said again as he watched Adam's bloody, twisted limbs slide down into the nothingness below and disappear from sight.
“You’re always sorry, Sam,” Lucifer said softly. “Doesn’t change anything. Does it?”
Sam wanted to say something, anything, but he still had his brother’s blood on his hands and Lucifer’s touch was so cold it was turning his skin blue. Finally, the ground beneath his own feet gave way and the fire reached out, wrapped itself around his ankles, and pulled him back down. The fire burned the blood off of his skin, and the skin from his bones. The fire burned until there was nothing left.
The next time Sam woke, Lucifer was slithering into his mind again. It didn’t hurt as much as it had in Detroit, and the ice drove the flames away.
“We would have won, you know,” Lucifer said as he flexed the knuckles in Sam’s newly reformed right hand.
Lucifer nodded Sam’s chin as he walked through the void. “Michael didn’t stand a chance. Not inside Adam. Maybe, if it had been Dean…”
Dean. Sam wondered how Dean was, where he was. He was okay. He had to be.
"But Dean didn't say 'yes,' did he, Sam?" Lucifer said, and it sounded almost bitter. "You did."
Sam didn't answer.
"You can say you did it because you had to. Because it was the only way to lock me up again." The void around them shifted and settled into the contours of a dark room. An old, abandoned theater — the theater in Detroit where they'd torn Azazel's disciples to pieces.
"It was the only way," Sam said. He felt his shoulders shrug and his mouth curve into a smirk as Lucifer crossed the theater.
"Maybe. But maybe there was more to it than that. Can you honestly tell me you didn't enjoy it? That you didn't feel better than you have ever felt in your entire, miserable existence? My grace in you. All that power, all that knowledge."
"It was horrible," Sam said.
Lucifer laughed loudly. "I'm in your head, Sam. I was in your head that night, too. You were in ecstasy."
The theater flickered and all five demons stood before them, just as they had that night in Detroit.
Lucifer walked up to Mr. Bensman. The demon didn't respond, he didn't even blink. "Little man with a big mouth and a bad temper. I remember what he did to you. What he said about you, about Dean, about your father. You showed me, Sam. I saw everything. Every memory, every little thought no matter how buried, and you wanted this demon dead. You crushed his heart. Not me."
Sam seethed silently and watched as Lucifer pulled back his fist, slamming it into Mr. Bensman's chest, cracking through ribs and flesh with ease. The man’s heart pulsed in his fingers and Sam squeezed, remembering the threats the teacher had made, the things he’d said. In retrospect, Sam realized the demon riding Mr. Bensman had been goading him, trying to get him to lash out and somehow, that made him even angrier. He gripped the heart tighter until it ruptured, spilling more warm blood.
“There it is,” Lucifer whispered. “You feel that Sam? That’s the exact moment Portland cracked in half. 7.6 on the Richter scale. All thanks to you, and your anger.”
Sam pulled his hand back out of the dead man’s chest and stared at the chunks of flesh sticking to his fingers. “What are you talking about?”
“Fuel for my fire. Our little exercise here in Detroit sent shockwaves over the entire globe -- Portland, Boston, Tokyo, Berlin, Prague. All thanks to you.”
“Me? But — ”
“Yes, you.” Lucifer reached back into the hole in Mr. Bensman’s chest and pulled straight down, yanking what was left of the ribcage apart until everything else inside started to spill out. “Your anger. You and your beautiful, beautiful rage.”
Sam stepped away from the eviscerated corpse and it fell to the floor with a heavy, wet thump. He looked at Rachel, his prom date from senior year, out of the corner of his eye. He knew what was coming next. He remembered killing her that night in Detroit — the feel of her spine cracking far too easily in his hand…and he remembered countless other voices screaming from far, far away. “There was an earthquake each time I — ”
“Thousands of deaths for every one here.” Lucifer ran his fingertip across Rachel’s forehead and her eyes fluttered open and shut rapidly before focusing on Sam. She put her hands on his cheeks and pulled him in close.
For a horrible moment, Sam thought she was trying to kiss him, but instead he found himself staring at her eyes. There were pictures in them, faces of people he’d never known.
“Thousands, Sam. Nearly ten thousand dead and twice as many injured. All thanks to you.”
“No,” Sam protested, staggering back away from Rachel. “I didn’t know.”
“Of course you didn’t. You keep telling yourself that.”
Sam stepped back until he hit the wall of the theater. He closed his eyes and pushed back, wishing it would all crumble away, like Stull had. He longed to return to the void. Anywhere but here.
The wall did start to give way. Sam pressed into it, and it pulled him in. Brick turned to coal turned to flame. The fire wrapped itself around Sam and welcomed him with open arms. Sam cried out in agony as he burned, until all that was left was pain.
In the few, numb moments between non-existence and reconstitution, Sam had a dream. It was the first and only time he’d had a dream in the Cage. He heard something tear, and felt the void around him shake and quiver, the way water ripples. Something tugged on his hand and he tried to say, “I’m tired,” but he didn’t have a tongue. He tried to look, but he had no eyes. He heard a scream, he heard without ears, because it tore through his mind and his soul and woke him just long enough to see his own body staring back at him.
It disappeared a moment later — pulled backwards until it vanished in a brilliant flash of light.
Sam woke to find Lucifer digging his way into his mind again. It didn’t hurt, and when it was over, the sense of completion Sam had fought so hard to ignore was undeniable. He felt whole, but he knew something was missing. Something had changed.
"What happened? I feel...different," Sam asked, distracted by the resonance of his own words. They echoed with the sound of broken bells, shattering glass and a pitch so low the void around him hummed with it.
“Castiel,” Lucifer answered. His voice had the same odd timbre. It didn't sound like Sam. It sounded like Heaven. It sounded like Hell.
"Castiel. Was he here?" Sam looked down at himself and saw light, fire, and all of Lucifer's grace. It was exposed, mimicking his form in only the most abstract sense. "My body..."
The Devil's anger flooded Sam's mind with red. "He took it. He tried to take you — tried to take all of you."
"How did he —?”
"He's a fool. He doesn't even understand what he's done." Lucifer's form shifted, three sets of wings fanning out wide and high. "I'm not letting you go. You belong here. You said yes. Body or no, your soul is mine."
Sam knew he was supposed to protest, but he didn’t. He watched the void and saw it shimmer with each step they took. “Where are we going?”
“To get some answers,” Lucifer said angrily, his words spilling out into the darkness around them, like an overly bright wisp of smoke.
There was a glow ahead of them. Muted and soft. As they got closer, Sam could make out a human shape — it was sitting with its head resting on its knees, its arms wrapped around its legs. Its eyes were open, sad and green. “Adam?” Sam took a few more hesitant steps towards his brother.
Adam blinked and lifted his head, looking up at Sam. “Back for more?”
“No.” Sam smiled weakly.
“Yes,” Lucifer said, his smile widening. “But you can sit this one out.” He reached down, put his hand on Adam’s forehead and snarled, “Stop hiding.”
Adam’s eyes bled white and burned as grace flooded out through them. Michael poured out of Adam’s eyes and mouth — so much light that the void filled with every color imaginable — until Michael settled into a rough approximation of a man. Not Adam, not Dean, not anyone in particular. He tilted his head towards Adam, whose eyes drooped shut as he fell deep asleep. Then Michael looked down at Lucifer’s feet, avoiding his gaze.
“You’re pathetic,” The Devil said, bemused. “How long are you going to stay here sulking?”
Michael didn’t answer.
Sam felt Lucifer’s anger rise again. “Where’s the proud warrior I remember?” He shoved a hand against Michael’s chest, prodding. “Where is my brother?”
Michael sighed heavily and turned to walk away.
Lucifer didn’t let him. He grabbed Michael’s arm and growled, “No. You don’t ignore me. You don’t get to walk away. Not in here.”
“No. I guess I don’t.” Michael’s wings unfurled, as did he, reaching up into the darkness until he was a thousand feet tall. He turned, crouched down until his enormous eyes were right across from Lucifer, and blew him a kiss, sending the Devil flying through the void.
It was impossible to tell how far back they’d been thrown. Sam could only measure distance by Lucifer’s laughter, and how long it took for Michael to follow up with his next punch, and his next.
Lucifer didn’t fight back. He also didn’t feel more than the equivalent of a light shove every time Michael made contact. Sam, on the other hand, got to feel the full force of Michael’s onslaught. The force of the archangel dug down deep into Sam’s soul, fracturing him, trying to pound him into dust with every punch. But Sam was in Lucifer and Lucifer was in Sam and as quickly as Michael broke Sam down, Lucifer made him whole again. He made sure Sam felt every blow.
“I am the right hand!” Michael yelled, his anger flaring out into the darkness. He grabbed Lucifer’s shoulders, and dug his fingers in deep until he was holding Sam’s soul.
Michael’s touch burned, far more than the flames ever had. The ice of Lucifer’s grace still surrounded Sam, keeping him whole, but Michael’s rage was immense, and all of it was focused on Sam. It ran through him, lightning in his veins, until Sam thought he would burst, but Lucifer kept him whole.
“I am the most loyal! And instead they come for you, they try to free you, you disgusting piece of filth!” Michael screamed in wordless rage, still trying to wipe Sam from existence.
Sam nearly lost himself a few times, but Lucifer wouldn’t let him slip into non-existence. He wanted Sam conscious.
Hours passed, or maybe days…but Michael finally, finally stopped. He retracted himself, until he was roughly human-shaped again, and sat back on his heels, exhausted. “I thought —” Michael looked down at Lucifer and Sam. The light in his eyes was heavy with sorrow. “I thought they were here for me. I thought I’d finally been forgiven.”
Lucifer’s soft laugh was as bitter as it was cruel. “There is no forgiveness. Not for us.” He stood and rolled his shoulders, settling Sam back into place. Sam’s mind was ever-present, because that’s how the Devil wanted it, but it ached.
Michael shook his head in denial. “I did nothing but obey.”
“And I did everything but.” Lucifer smirked, reaching for Michael’s hand. “And yet here we are. We’re stuck here. Father put us here. He wanted this. The Host is not coming for us. Not now, not ever.”
“No,” Michael said. “No, that’s not true.”
“It is,” Lucifer said quietly. “When you get bored, come find me. I’ll show you how to pass the time.” Lucifer grew as he walked, until Sam was a mouse, an insect, a grain of sand.
The Devil flooded Sam’s mind with images.
Dean being torn apart by every evil thing they’d ever fought.
Dean dying over and over while Sam stood by, helpless.
Sam gorging himself on demon blood and reveling in it. Sam killing demons and feeling no remorse if the host didn’t make it. Collateral damage. Dean looking at Sam with wounded eyes. Ruby betraying Sam. Lilith laughing, Lilith dying, Lucifer free. Lucifer free.
Sam fell again, for hours, for days. He was torn apart by hooks and teeth and stitched back together with threads made of ice.
Dean was alone. Dean was with Lisa and Ben. Dean was alone.
Sam saw himself, but his eyes were empty. He treated Dean like a stranger and killed like life itself was meaningless. Dean was alone.
Through it all, Lucifer’s grace burned cold and bright, until one day, one year, one century the brilliance of it grew even greater. Michael had joined them. Sam tried to turn away from the radiance, but it was everywhere. The archangels’ grace was overwhelming and Sam longed for the flames — for the nothingness that followed.
“You want to burn?” Michael asked, his voice so close Sam shuddered from the sound of it.
Sam tried to protest, but Lucifer held his mouth firmly shut.
“Is that what you want, little ape?” Michael stepped forward and grabbed Sam from Lucifer’s hand. This time, Lucifer let Sam go.
The fire burned, and it didn’t consume him, it didn’t stop, it never stopped.
It never stopped.
originally posted here