Though Dean had only ever heard Lucifer's voice as spoken by this vessel once before - back in Carthage just seconds before he'd pulled the trigger on Samuel Colt's gun and sent that bullet spinning right into the Devil's borrowed face - it wasn't a voice he could forget easily, however much he might have wanted to.
If he hadn't already been frozen solid, the sound of that pleasant, so reasonable tenor would have sent chills running through him.
Though it wasn't as bad as hearing Lucifer speaking with Sam's voice in that rose garden. Nothing could be worse than that…
Not so pleasant at first though. Commanding, menacing, authoritative more like.
Had he been able, Dean would have gasped with pain as Meg withdrew her knife from her excavations in his side. Instead he settled for internalising his pain – and didn't all those psychologists say that was a bad thing to do? he mused, trying to ignore the mounting agitation that was threatening to make his insides more of a mess than Meg's knife. He could feel the blood flowing easily (too damn easily) down his flank, wondered what damage she'd done to him, how bad it was. Felt bad enough, that's for sure.
Shit, Lucifer, here…I am so screwed Sammy…
Meg leaped to her feet, all grovelling apologies and bloodied hands. If he'd had a better view of it, Dean might just have managed to muster a laugh at the sight of a demon being torn off a strip by the Devil.
"I told you I want him kept safe and undamaged. You need to show some respect to my brother's chosen vessel."
Meg's voice was low, Dean could barely hear her as she whispered abject excuses and regret for the offence she'd offered. And all she had done was simply be true to her nature - a demon, doing what she had been created to do.
Ironic. He wanted demons to be evil and torture us but when he gets what he asked for, he doesn't like it…But what the hell, Sammy? If he doesn't want me dead, what does he want me for?
Dean had a sick feeling that he was about to find out. He was right.
Sam was slumped over his laptop in an exhausted sleep when Bobby arrived at the Traveller's Rest Motel. Luckily the brothers' room was on the ground floor and though there was a small step up to the path that ran the length of the building, Bobby's months of enforced wheelchair practice meant he made it up to Sam's door with the minimum of fuss. The grizzled hunter made the flimsy door rattle with a vigorous knock and waited impatiently for a bleary eyed Sam to let him in.
Bobby noted with compassion the younger Winchester's attempts to appear strong and objective in the face of his mounting fear for his big brother. Singer closed his eyes for a second, fighting back his own weariness after the long drive and wishing passionately for the old strength of his body back again. This paralysed state was a bitch – it wasn't merely the lack of mobility, but the side effects, like greater susceptibility to infections, that really cramped his style these days. He reached under his chair and pulled out his new closest and most constant companion – a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue – ignoring the worried look from Sam's puppy dog eyes. He wheeled over to the kitchenette and poured two sizable shots into a couple of china mugs on the draining board.
"Here, get that down you boy, you look like shit." He gave the young man the patented Bobby Singer glare until Sam, intimidated, acquiesced and took one of the mugs. He waited until Sam had taken a large gulp before wheeling back to the cluttered table.
"So. What've we got?"
Unfortunately, the answer after an hour of comparing notes was – not a lot. Bobby rubbed his tired eyes, while Sam sat back in the small wooden chair and stretched out his long legs into infinity. Damn but that boy was tall. Bobby couldn't quite remember when that happened, one minute he's been a little squirt the next a towering giant. Singer sighed.
"Ok. So to sum up, this Yuki-onna seems to have snatched Dean from under our noses, with Meg in tow and probably running the show; they didn't want him dead so must be stashing him somewhere, and we have no clue where or why."
Sam didn't open his eyes, just nodded disconsolately. "So," said Bobby, "What did Castiel say?"
Sam sat up suddenly at that, hazel eyes (just like Dean's, Bobby thought with a little wrench of the heart) wide and startled as a deer caught in the headlights. "Oh I see. You didn't speak to Cas yet, then. You idjit!" Even as Bobby was speaking, the younger Winchester was scrabbling for his cell phone, scrolling down his contacts for the angel's number.
"Castiel, yes it's Sam. Listen, we need your help."
When Lucifer was done with Meg, he turned his attention to his helpless prisoner. Dean wanted desperately to move away as the vessel the Prince of Darkness was riding leaned over his naked vulnerable body. At the same time he wanted to fling himself at the creature, to tear it to pieces with his bare hands to exorcise the terrible future memory of it wearing his little brother's face. But he was still frozen in place, and could do nothing at all as the face of Nick/Lucifer bent over him with a look of compassion on its crumbling features. Dean could smell the sickly sweet scent of decay on the dying vessel's breath as Lucifer spoke to him. He so wanted to at least turn his head away, hated it that he couldn't.
"Hello again, Dean. I'm sorry about this..." Lucifer gestured at Dean's naked form, smiling ruefully. "This captivity is necessary, as is this weakened state imposed on you by my lovely Yuki-onna."
You smug son of a bitch.
"However, I think I can do something about this injury…" Something dark and angry flashed for a moment in Nick/Lucifer's blue eyes and was gone, and Dean felt a burning sensation as the Devil placed a hand on his wound. There was an instant of excruciating pain, almost off the scale, then a comforting numbness spread from the area Lucifer was touching, followed by a faint warmth. Dean found that his limbs were loosening a little, and he could move his eyes and his head, just a little. His breathing had quickened, he could feel his heart beating uncomfortably fast, and he was horrified as he realised the pain had caused tears to well up in his eyes. He squeezed his lids shut and wished for a free hand to wipe away the tell tale moisture that tracked down his cheeks. He strained and strained but his body was still bound in its invisible restraints, and he couldn't even twitch a finger. And although he tried, he still couldn't speak.
Lucifer was talking to him again.
Boy, did that evil bastard love the sound of his own voice. Unwillingly, Dean found his attention grabbed by Lucifer's words.
"Sam will say yes to me very soon."
"In just a matter of months; but you already know this, Dean."
No. Not gonna happen.
"Oh but it will happen, and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it."
Get out of my head, you bastard!
Lucifer stretched Nick's lips into a sincere smile that made Dean shiver inside worse than Yuki-onna's winter.
"You see, I want my brother to have his vessel too, it is how it should be. Michael and I, reunited to fight as we should have fought all those millennia ago. And it is right that we use you two Winchester brothers as our vessels in this battle – it was meant to be."
No. I don't believe in fucking destiny!
"You didn't believe in angels or God either did you, Dean, and look where that got you. It will happen, and I will win this time."
Sam will never say yes.
That terrible smile again.
"Oh but he will. And he will because of you, Dean. To save you, Sam will do anything."
No no no no…
Dean couldn't believe it, but Lucifer was actually stroking his face, wiping away his tears in some horrific parody of maternal love, an expression of infinite compassion on his vessel's decaying features.
"It will be alright Dean, this is how it is meant to be. Me in Sam, strong and powerful and vigorous. Michael in you, weakened and sad and inadequate. Which is why I will win."
Lucifer's touch was burning, but his words blistered and scorched far worse. Dean closed his eyes and tried desperately to think of nothing, to stave off the despair that threatened to overwhelm him.
Lucifer stood up and as his smouldering touch was removed, Dean felt a great sense of relief, even though the all pervading chill returned immediately to settle into his very bones.
"You, Meg. Find his clothes and get him dressed. It is not fitting for my brother's vessel to be kept like this for months, deprived of his dignity. Yuki, make sure he is bound tight. I will not tolerate any mistakes."
Dean opened his eyes again to watch Lucifer leave the room, and couldn't help a small grin of satisfaction to see Meg looking pale and shaken after her slap down by her beloved father. The grin was short-lived though, when he caught sight of Yuki-onna (who he had finally, belatedly placed as the legendary Japanese demon-spirit of winter and snow) standing quietly in the corner behind Meg. The white faced Snow Woman seemed different today, taller and far less human, and was watching him intently with a strange expression on her translucently pale face, her long black hair a stark contrast with her white kimono and white skin. He was hard put to suppress a shudder as she glided towards him to fulfil Lucifer's orders, and he hoped against hope that he would at least retain his current limited range of motion when he resurfaced from another dose of frozen winter, as the cold blackness claimed him once again.