The prompt was:
Sam made Lucifer promise not to hurt Dean before saying yes. So Lucifer doesn’t. Dean is the only one left alive, and he’s not quite human anymore. Just him and Lucifer, and Lucifer always keeps his promises.
characters: Lucifer, Dean, Sam
warnings: End!verse, character death
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
- The Hollow Men - T.S. Eliot
“That won’t kill you, you know.”
Dean smiled to himself, and took another sip of the whiskey. It didn’t burn anymore. Nothing really did. It made him feel just a little warmer inside though, and on some days he needed that. “Yeah, I know.” He flicked his eyes up to the mirror and watched as Sam — as Lucifer — walked behind him and sat on the barstool to his right.
The Devil liked to play dress up. Dean had found it vaguely annoying at first, seeing his brother walking around dressed like he was about to go to a wedding, or a disco, or on one very odd occasion — a monastery. Now, he took his amusement where he could find it.
“You starting a biker gang?”
Sam’s lips curved into a half-smile as Lucifer looked at his reflection. He ran his finger over the zipper running along the sleeve of the black leather jacket he was wearing. “I like the smell of leather.” He held his hand out and a glass floated obediently into it.
Hesitating for only a second, Dean picked up his bottle of whiskey and filled Sam’s glass half-way. Lucifer’s glass. It wasn’t that he ever forgot this was not his brother. It was just…hard to not let himself pretend. Plus, Sam was still in there somewhere. He had to be.
“I think it’s because the leather reminds him of the car.” Lucifer said, before bringing the glass up to his lips. He took a sip and then placed the glass back down on the counter, glaring at it. “This is disgusting. Why do you drink it?”
Dean chuckled. “Because it makes things easier.” He closed his eyes for a second, remembering his first taste of whiskey. When he was eleven, he’d snuck some from Dad after he’d fallen asleep on the couch. He hadn’t understood the appeal back then, either. “Or it used to, anyway. Doesn’t seem to work that well anymore.”
“Huh,” Lucifer tapped Sam’s long fingers against the bar. “Unintended side-effect. I suppose your brother wasn’t all that worried about your ability to be inebriated. Guess he didn’t think of everything after all.” He smirked and dipped his finger in the whiskey. The amber liquid turned a deep, ruby red. He picked up his glass, nodded at Dean and vanished.
The next sip of whiskey didn’t warm Dean at all. It ran bitter down his throat as he remembered.
He’d lost ten people in Detroit — ten good people. Six of them to Croats, and four to demons. They’d been stuck in a holding pattern, trying to fight their way into an apartment building where rumor had it — the Devil himself was holed up. Somehow, Dean had known Sam was there before he’d even seen him. Call it brotherly intuition, or just a lifetime of learning to expect the worst. He finally made it into the building, all the way to the top floor and found Sam in a room full of corpses. His brother turned to look at him and smiled Lucifer’s smile.
They hadn’t spoken a word. Lucifer had taken a few steps towards him, handed him a crumpled up piece of paper and disappeared.
Dean sat there for nearly an hour before he could bring himself to flatten the sheet of paper. It had gotten dark out, and he had to read by the light of his Zippo.
Sam’s neat handwriting hadn’t changed, and Dean felt a lump start to form in his throat before he even registered what the words said. They hadn’t spoken since that last phone call years ago — where Sam had told Dean he was Lucifer’s true vessel, and Dean had told him they had to stay apart.
The letter wasn’t addressed to Dean. It wasn’t addressed to anyone, but its intent was clear. It was a contract.
Even though Sam had never made it to law school, he’d had the right mind for it. Dean read line after line and felt a swell of pride at how thorough Sam had been.
His list of what Lucifer had to agree to was extensive, and detailed. He couldn’t kill any humans. Demons were prohibited from attacking, or possessing them. Sam had also written out a separate paragraph listing people that were to be protected from any attacks — including angelic ones. Dean, Bobby, Castiel, Chuck…the list went on, even naming other hunters they hadn’t seen in years. The last line, separate from the rest of the contract had said, 'My brother, Dean, will remain unharmed.'
Sam had been thorough, but the Devil was the Devil for a reason.
A week after that night in Detroit, Dean had understood that. He’d seen three dozen people die that day, and Lucifer hadn’t done a thing. The Croatoan virus was taking care of humanity all by itself. All Lucifer had to do was wait.
Angels did come for them — a few times. He never knew why they’d come. Maybe for Castiel, maybe to offer their help, maybe to kill them all. Whatever the reason, they didn’t last long. Every time one appeared, less than a second passed before they exploded.
Lucifer was careful. He never let them see. But Dean knew.
His glass empty, Dean’s mind returned to the present. He looked at the now empty whiskey bottle and sighed heavily. He didn’t want to go back outside, but he had to if he wanted to find a place with a bed to rest. He still had to sleep — funny, that. He flipped up the collar on his jacket, and stepped out into the cold winter, heading south on the highway. There was a town twelve miles away. He’d find a bed there and rest for a while. There might even be food left in some of the stores. He hadn’t eaten in a few weeks.
It had taken Dean nearly ten years to figure out what exactly Lucifer had done to him.
He was good at surviving, and he was good at keeping his people alive, for the most part. He kept them from being attacked, kept them from being infected by taking Croats down quickly and without hesitation. They all worked together to get supplies, to grow food — they had a good thing going at Camp Chitaqua for five years. Then the Croatoan virus became airborne. What little was left of the human race was wiped out within a week.
But Dean was fine. Dean was immune. He spent a month wandering through one city after the next, and found nothing but corpses. One night, he found himself on Main Street in a long-since-abandoned small town. He found a playground and sat on a bench watching the swings sway in the wind. When the sun came up, he waited as the sky turned from orange to pink to pale blue. Then he pulled out his gun and shot himself in the head.
It was the quiet he never got used to. The walk down the long stretch of empty highway had been difficult enough, but there was still something deeply wrong about walking into a town and hearing nothing.
Dean kept going anyway, because he was tired. Even if the lack of sleep wouldn’t kill him, he needed to rest. Maybe, despite whatever Lucifer had turned him into, he couldn’t change the nature of his mind. A part of him was still human, anyway.
He walked past a row of boarded up shops noting the lack of corpses. There weren’t even any bones. This town had been abandoned early on. Maybe it had been part of a quarantine region.
There was a three-star hotel in what had once been a landmark building. Dean broke through the warped wood boards covering the door, and had the lock open in a matter of minutes.
He took a room on the top floor, four stories up and resisted opening the curtains. If he was lucky, he’d sleep for a few days. That happened more and more often, lately. His sleep was empty most of the time, but sometimes he dreamed, and then — for just a little bit, he could be somewhere else.
His dreams were muted. Too comforting to be real: Sam at eight, laughing as Dean tried to bake a pie from scratch for the first time; Dad beaming with pride when Dean took down his first kill by himself; Sam screaming as Dean pushed him backwards into a pool and then whooping victoriously when Dean slipped and fell in right after him.
The light from outside woke him. Dean kept his eyelids closed for a few more minutes anyway, refusing to come back to reality. Then he heard a sound — whisper-quiet, but there, and knew he wasn’t alone.
Samnot-Sam-never-Sam was standing by the window. He’d opened the curtains and was looking up at the sky. The leather jacket and pants had been replaced by a plain grey t-shirt and blue jeans. He looked so much like Sam that Dean nearly closed his eyes again.
“Don’t you have anywhere else to be?” Dean asked instead.
“No,” Lucifer answered. He stayed quiet for a while, just looking at the sky.
Dean sat up on the bed, and watched the Devil standing there. “Seriously? You’re just gonna keep bugging me?” He stood, and looked down at his right foot. His big toe was poking out of his sock. He’d pick up a new pair from one of the clothing stores in town later. He could use some new underwear too, come to think of it. The carpet felt brittle under his feet, as he walked across the room to stand next to his brother’s body.
“Do you dream, when you sleep?”
“Sometimes,” Dean said. “But it’s not like it used to be.”
“Dreams…you know they used to feel real — wouldn’t know I was dreaming ’til I woke up. Sometimes that sucked…but other times...” He shook his head and smiled, despite himself. “Other times it was nice.”
The angel kept looking out the window, and said, “I don’t know how to dream.”
The sky was nearly white — there was more snow on the way. A bird flew by, and Dean wondered suddenly how animals felt about all of this. They’d get along fine without people, for the most part. Well — hamsters and goldfish maybe not so much, but they were probably all gone already anyway. The bird circled above them for a while, and then flew off — disappearing into the distance.
“So, what now?” Dean asked.
Lucifer looked at him in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“You won, right?” Dean shrugged and nodded up towards the sky. “Or, I mean, you won down here, anyway. Do you take on Heaven next?”
“I already did.”
“Oh.” Dean thought of angels, of faith and grace and absent fathers. “And, how’d that go?”
“I won.” Lucifer’s voice was soft.
“Then, don’t you want to be up there, gloating?”
Snow started to fall again, as the archangel left.
“How do you feel?” Lucifer asked, the next time he appeared.
Dean was in a grocery store, rummaging for non-perishables. He was holding a package of Twinkies, trying to decide if he should have one.
The Devil never did like being ignored. “I said, how do you feel, Dean.” His voice held an undercurrent of warning, and the air felt a few degrees colder.
“I don’t know — bored, I guess.”
“You’re not happy.”
“What is that — a joke?” Dean scoffed. “You’re wearing my brother’s skin.” Rage flooded him suddenly, without warning, and he turned on Lucifer, shoving him in the chest. “You’ve had him trapped in there for decades! You made him watch everything you did, you made him watch as you killed the whole freakin’ world, and you want to know if I’m happy?”
The angel’s eyes were wide, but they weren’t angry. “This hurts you. Seeing him like this. Seeing what I’ve done to the world.”
Dean punched the Devil in the jaw. His knuckles didn’t break. They should have, but they didn’t. He couldn’t break anymore.
Lucifer smiled, and it was so unexpected, it made Dean even angrier.
“What — you’re bored, so you come and torture me some more, is that it?” He turned back to the shelves of cookies and crackers. “Maybe you shouldn’t have killed all your toys.”
“I hurt you,” the angel said, like it was a revelation. “I violated the contract. And in so doing, I’ve forfeited my rights to this vessel.”
Dean’s heart thudded in his chest as he spun back around. Sam’s eyes and mouth lit up a brilliant white as Lucifer filled the air. His grace was enormous, it was everywhere, and then it was gone.
Sam collapsed, and Dean dropped to his knees next to him, catching his brother's head before it hit the tiled floor.
“Sammy?” Dean asked. “Can you hear me?”
Sam’s hazel eyes blinked up at Dean in confusion. He started to smile and opened his mouth to speak. Instead, all that came out was a surprised gasp of pain. Blood bloomed across his grey t-shirt — first by his chest, and then by his stomach. His left hand clenched awkwardly as the bones in his arm snapped.
Dean tried to press against Sam’s chest wound, but found that he couldn’t move. Something warm and wet was streaming down the side of his face. His hand throbbed and he looked down at his swollen, broken knuckles as his vision started to tunnel and stutter.
His brother fell still, and Dean dropped to the floor beside him. He waited for his mind to stop, or for the world to shift. He waited for Hell or Heaven, or some other afterlife to take them and mock them for having hope. He waited and waited but fell neither up nor down.
Sam’s thoughts were all around him, he was still there, still aware, and suddenly Dean understood. In his mind, he took his brother’s hand, and he dreamed.