Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to Erik Kripke. See full disclaimer at the end of this chapter.
Lucifer studied Castiel with the same detached manner that he used with his followers. He took in the slouch of his shoulders and dullness in his eyes. Just beyond the human capability of sight, only the bare minimum of grace necessary to differentiate angels from humans could be seen. Castiel’s wings were worn ragged and nearly completely devoid of feathers. Lucifer would be surprised if the angel could even use the most basic of his holy powers.
The other angel, one after his own heart what with his little mini-rebellion, thought differently than most of his brothers. While his love for the humans that were his charges was at the very least creepy and at the most repulsive, Lucifer had to admit he was one of the few true believers. His belief that their Father still loved them, the angels, and that He would care about the battle being fought if only it was explained to Him was, beyond a doubt, singular. These days it was hard to find an angel that even believed that God still existed, let alone could give a crap.
Alternatively, more and more demons were becoming believers. It was almost a shame that most of them were going to die in the night’s sacrifice. He kind of enjoyed being worshiped as a god.
“Tell me,” he said into the quiet of the dank room, “what’s it like to have your grace slowly run out?”
Castiel visibly clenched his jaw and looked away. After a long wait, he finally whispered, “Painful.”
“I bet,” Lucifer replied. “To know that, with every breath, you are one closer to being nothing more than human must be the worst feeling you’ve ever experience. Why did you waste so much of your grace to visit heaven last night?”
The corner of Castiel’s lip turned upwards and his eyes lit up ever so slightly. His expression, alone, told Lucifer that there was more going on than he was aware of. He crossed his arms over his chest and touched the fingers of his right hand to his chin as he considered his next move. When Meg entered the room, he was saved the effort of making any immediate decisions so he turned his attention to the approaching demon and waited for her to report.
“I had the Winchesters pinned down – for a while, at least,” she reported, frowning deeply.
He nodded. “Were they alone?”
“Um… no. There were two women with them and a man wearing an eye patch.”
Lucifer stiffened. It couldn’t be. His eyes whipped back to Castiel, taking in the other angel’s almost smug expression. There was only one man that matched Meg’s description and could cause that level of confidence. Only a specific one eyed man would give him any kind of pause.
He’d been so careful to have his disciples stir up as much trouble as possible in Europe. And equally as careful to keep his movements in North America as low-key as he’d been able. Considering the punches his flunkies were throwing all over Asia, throughout northern Kazakhstan and in the depths of Russia, he shouldn’t’ve been more than the smallest of blips of the Watchers’ radar. With that ever so annoying Wolfram and Hart no longer around to kick its heels like a toddler throwing a tantrum, drawing as much attention to itself as possible, it’d been the best time for him to act in centuries.
“What did you want me to do about them?” Meg asked, interrupting his train of thought.
Distracted, he waved a hand at her and said, “Leave them alone.”
Astonished, she took a step towards him. “I-I’m sorry, but are you sure? Shouldn’t we—”
“Trust me, child,” he said softly as he reached out to stroke her cheek. He took a breath to cover a shudder of revulsion at touching her flesh. The Watcher was a fly in the ointment of his plan, but there was no way that this one man could undo a century’s worth of planning. He might need to step up his game a bit, but that didn’t mean he was going to give up without even making an attempt. “Everything happens for a reason.”
On the edge of his vision, he saw Castiel casing the room. Looking for the flaw in his prison. "Well, Castiel. You have some time." He threw a bored glance over his shoulder as an excuse for releasing the demon. "Time to change your mind."
The look on Castiel's face nearly made him laugh out loud. He grinned impishly before reorienting himself at the site of the future sacrifice. He paused to take in the repugnant sight of the demon infested humans waiting before him. Of course all of them would be dead before the night was through, but that didn't mean he had to like having them there. At least he could look foreword to some time spent dolling out some decent torture. Some of them might even enjoy themselves before they died in agony if he did it right.
In the back of his mind, he felt poor Nick scream his defiance. The man, so weak in so many ways besides that fact that he was just a measly little human meat bag, had been begging him for death since the moment Lucifer had taken full control. Lucifer, being the truthful angel that he was, had been kind enough to let Nick in on his Big Plan from moment one. He’d been instantly rewarded with the man's complete and utter devastation. Nick's constant agony at having willingly given over his body to be host to the devil was one of the greatest perks Lucifer could've imagined. He constantly anguished over how he played a pivotal part in the Earth’s destruction. Lucifer’s last vessel hadn't been nearly as much fun.
"You're really going to go through with this, aren't you?"
Lucifer glanced over to check out the meat bag that old Zac was wearing and fought the urge to laugh out loud. The last time Zachariah had descended to Earth, he'd worn the meat of a great soldier; a giant of his time, thick with muscle and brains. Zac had very nearly been proud of his vessel. Or he would've been if he hadn't been so sickened at having to wear human flesh in order to walk among them.
"Yes, it's all very funny," Zac snapped, his eyes shooting metaphorical sparks. It wouldn't've been polite for him to use actual sparks. He took a moment to look out over the field that stretched before them. Already the pit that Lucifer’s acolytes had dug was lined with the bodies of the young, infirm, or just plain annoying. "You really think that raising Death is necessary?"
"Necessary... not at all. But fun, nevertheless," Lucifer replied with his own version of a Mona Lisa smile. He had perfected the technique centuries before the phrase had been coined, of course.
He headed across the field, taking note of those that hissed and growled at his brother as they passed. After the third demon infested corps dropped to the ground, those that called him father fell silent. He retrieved one of the many shovels that littered the ground and leaned against the handle. From below, the stench of nearly a thousand dead bodies rose up.
"You're doing this for fun?" Zac asked. His surface thoughts easily revealed that he didn't really care about Lucifer's actions, only that he wanted to know what he was planning to use Death for.
"Of course!" Lucifer replied. He took up the shovel and hefted a few piles of dirt into the pit for no other reason than to feel Nick squirm. Cowardly Nick abhorred the sight of the terror twisted faces being speckled with dirt from the shovel that he held. He paused briefly and grinned in Zac's direction. "Well, that and for a chance to see the Winchester boys. You know, they are harder to get ahold of than almost anyone besides God, Himself?"
"The Winchesters are here!" Zac exclaimed. He spun in place, his eyes scanning the surrounding forest. "How did you know they'd come?"
Lucifer pointedly looked down and then across at the demons that surrounded them. Dryly, he said, "It's hard to keep a party like this a secret even when you try to. Which I didn't."
He pressed the shovel back into the soil to prop it up and crossed his arms over his chest. He cocked an eyebrow at his brother while Zac stood there spluttering. He stayed that way until movement in the bushes caught his attention. With a flourish, he turned in time to watch Sam making his way between the horde of demons littering the field.
"You wanted to see me?" Sam yelled, cocking a shotgun as he approached.
Lucifer spread his hands in a supplicating gesture. The movement allowed him to push Zac to the side and see Sam in person for the first time since he'd been released. "Oh, Sam," he intoned softly, "you don't need that gun here. You know I'd never hurt you. Not really."
"Yeah?" Dean asked, his presence on the opposite side of him from Zac not a surprise, only his proximity. He raised the colt level with Lucifer's forehead and pulled back the hammer. “Well, I'd hurt you. So suck it.”
He dropped not because the shot had hurt him in any way, but because Nick's nervous system went immediately haywire thanks to the bullet that lodged itself into his brain. And even as powerful as he was, it took him a minute to dissolve the bullet and repair the damage it'd caused to Nick's cerebellum. Plus, it was just fun to mess with the Winchesters after some of the trouble that they'd caused him, what with running War into hiding.
Vaguely, he took note of Zac breaking into loud whoops of laughter.
"Ow!" he yelled as he got to his feet, just to see the look of shock and horror pass over Dean's face. It was more fun messing with the poor Winchesters than almost anything else.
At his side, Zac -- finally recovered from his fit -- demanded, "Where did you get that?”
Not bothering to wait for an answer, Lucifer hit Dean in the middle of his chest. Though he only used a fraction of the strength he had at his disposal, Dean still flew through the air until his flight was interrupted by a tree. Feeling vaguely justified by the sound of bones snapping, he couldn't stifle a grin as he turned back to Sam. "Now, where were we?"
Zac, clearly not satisfied, advanced on Dean. He held a hand out before him with his fingers curled. On the ground, Dean writhed in agony as Zac wrought havoc with his organs. "Did you think that you, a simple little mud monkey, could take on Lucifer? Michael is the only one that will fight him. They will fight on a predestined battle field, of which you could never comprehend. Their battle will be the greatest battle of all time and it will purify this Earth!"
All eyes turned to Castiel who stood with his holy sword in hand. He ran at Zac, tackling the other angel using sheer brute force. Whatever power he'd expended to arrive at the field like he had, had clearly drained him completely of all his reserves. The two angels struggled until, through what looked like sheer dumb luck, Castiel managed to pin Zac down and shove his sword through the bottom of Zac's jaw until the tip punched out the top of his head. After a long pause, Castiel let Zac slump to the ground. There was a flash of holy light as his meat suit gave one last shudder and the impression of his wings scorched into the earth surrounding him.
From the bushes, Dean asked weakly, "Ass-butt?"
Lucifer felt fury bubble up inside of him. He turned his gaze on Castiel and, in a deceptively calm tone, said, "Castiel. Did you just use your holy weapon to kill my brother?"
He allowed Castiel to send a wide-eyed look in Dean's direction before he snapped his fingers, exploding Castiel into a shower of bite-sized pieces. That done, he held Sam in place with his will as he walked towards Dean. Angrily, he stated, "You know, I've tried to be nice. For Sammy's sake. He'd never say yes if I killed you. But you... are such a pain... in my ass!"
"No!" Sam yelled impotently.
Ignoring him, Lucifer pulled Dean into a standing position by his collar. He could've just as easily willed him to stand, but it was more fun to intimidate him physically. Raising his fist, he punched Dean across his jaw with his full strength. The sound of bones crumbling and muscles tearing was like a balm.
He was in the process of hitting him again, when the tip of an angel blade burst through his back. He froze, eyes wide and mouth gaping. The pain of it burning against poor little Nick's thundering heart was unlike even the hellfire that made up the walls of the cage he'd so eagerly escaped. He craned his neck to look over his shoulder at the man who’d wielded the blade and gaped at the sight of one Alexander Harris. "How...?"
“You didn’t really think that I would fall for the colt, did you?” he asked calmly.
Lucifer's nerveless fingers let Dean fall to the ground as the he felt the tip of the blade scrape ever so slightly against the sack that surrounded Nick’s heart. Black spots cropped up in his field of vision and drawing the breath necessary to speak felt like swallowing a mouthful of knives. Between one instant and the next, he found himself coughing and spitting as the foul taste of Nick's blood filled his mouth. He managed to whisper, ”But, it's not possible."
Harris smiled wryly as he draped a free arm around his shoulders. “Listen up, Satan, I see things. Castiel,” his voice dropped into a dark growl as he spoke the dead angel’s name, “he told me that I’m extra special. And he’s not the first to say so. There was this priest, this one time, that decided to dig out my eyes because of the things that I can see. Did you know, the first thing that I saw when I met the Winchesters was just how dumb they were? They were absolutely convinced that the only way to kill you was with their fancy demon killing gun.”
“I thought that they might,” Lucifer returned, panting slightly. He flexed his shoulders in an effort to release himself, but the arm around his shoulders was vice tight. “They shouldn't feel too bad, though. There’s only five things in all of creation that that gun can’t kill and … I just happen to be one of them.”
“Riii-ight,” Harris drawled, dragging the word out into two syllables.
A ragged chuckle escaped him and Lucifer continued, “Of course, I had a little help making them think it would work. The angels scrubbed their brains real good right after Dean got out of hell. They wouldn’t have believed the colt couldn’t kill me even if they were told so. Only seeing it not work could break through their conditioning.”
He felt a sudden pressure and watched, stunned, as the tip of the angel blade appeared in the middle of his chest. Even through the blood that coated its surface, he could see the gleam of its holy light. His ears ringing, he looked up in time to see Harris and Sam each grabbing one of Dean’s arms. He fell to his knees and gasped for unnecessary breath. Within him, Nick gave a sigh of relief. The last thing he saw as the white light of his power exploded out of his control was Castiel reaching down to a fully healed Dean.
Disclaimers: All recognizable dialogue borrowed from “Abandon All Hope” (Ep. 5.10, Act 4) and “Swan Song” (Ep. 5.22, Act 5).