Summary: Our favourite tortured boys are back in this third and final instalment in which they try to outrun Hell.
Notes: See chapter 1 for disclaimer warnings and related info. Thanks for reading and commenting and as always enjoy.
In a heartbeat, Ianto has me behind him and John is standing in front of us with white lightning crackling over the hand pointed in Lucifer’s direction.
“Stop!” I say, wriggling out of Ianto’s grasp.
Lucifer steps down the hall and the dim light slanting through the bedroom door reflects off His golden hair, casting a halo around His head. A lazy smile quirks one side of His mouth and His eyes pierce mine. “We meet again, my lord.”
“He’s not your lord,” Ianto says, his tone measured. I can see that he’s not afraid of his old king, but he pulls me behind him again.
Lucifer’s eyes flash to Ianto. “Oh, but he is. And yours too.”
“Stop,” I shout again, and push past Ianto to John, tugging on his raised arm.
Everyone freezes, and for a long heartbeat it’s silent. Then I feel Grandpa’s arm ease around me.
Lucifer peers over my shoulder at Grandpa. “Except for the blue eyes, the resemblance is uncanny,” He says, then shifts His gaze to Ianto. “Wouldn’t you say?”
Ianto doesn’t respond but continues to stand between us, jaw ground tight and murder in his eyes.
Lucifer looks back at Grandpa. “He was my Left Hand, your father, and he gave it all up for you.”
I can’t read Grandpa’s expression as he stares at Lucifer. “Jack shouldn’t have to pay for my sins,” he finally says.
My heart collapses and I turn to him. “Grandpa. No. Don’t ever think that.” I wrap my arms around him. “This doesn’t have anything to do with that.”
John still has his lightning hand pointed toward Lucifer, and Ianto looks ready to spring at any second. I have to defuse this. There’s no choice. I dig deep and push with my mind, “We’re all on the same side,” I say. “Let’s talk about this.”
Slowly, the crackle of electricity over John’s hand lessens as his arm lowers.
I turn to Grandpa and pull him deeper into the family room. “Go to your room and stay there,” I whisper to him.
“I’m not leavin’ ya with that—”
“Please, Grandpa. I can’t let anything happen to you.”
His eyes narrow and he moves to his old recliner and sits. My stubbornness came from somewhere. I hold my breath for a second then blow it out in a long sigh. I sit on the sofa and turn to the boys. “Everyone sit.”
Their eyes clash for a brutal moment and I brace myself for all hell to break loose, but then John and Ianto come over to sit on either side of me.
“As you wish, my lord,” Lucifer says, dropping into the sofa across from us.
I glower at Him. “First of all, stop calling me that. You’re not helping.”
He sinks deeper into the sofa, lacing His hands behind His head as if settling in for a baseball game, and twitches me a private smile. “I’ll call you whatever you’d like. But you need to understand that you’re not a common mortal. You are much more than that.”
Something inside me twists as both Ianto and John stiffen, and I hope my shake isn’t very noticeable. My pulse pounds heavier with each passing moment and I ache from the tension.
“I am pleased, however, that your protectors are taking their duty so seriously.” Lucifer’s gaze shifts from Ianto to John and lingers over his bandaged shoulder. His green eyes spark. “Though I feel compelled to mention that they’re both looking a little worse for wear.”
“Then why did you use Gray to lure him away?” John shoots.
“Because I needed a moment alone with him to get us to this point, where we can sit down and discuss this,” He answers with raised eyebrows.
“So, we’re here now,” I interject. “How do we do this?”
Lucifer smiles. “We talk.”
I inhale deeply and I think to myself, here we go. “Okay, so, Lucifer. You want to return to Heaven, yes?”
I decide I imagined the flash of His eyes and the minute pause ’cause, when He answers, His whole face brightens. “Yes, my lord.”
“And you’re willing to give up your power over Hell.”
“My reign in the Underworld means nothing to me. To return to the Kingdom, I’d relinquish it without hesitation.”
I glance sideways at Ianto and John. The look on their faces is not what I was hoping for. Ianto is coiled tight, ready to spring, and John has his twitching lightning hand on his knee as they stare Lucifer down with blatant distrust.
And that’s when I realise how futile this is. A few words are not gonna break down eons of history.
I cringe away from the realisation that the only way this is gonna happen is if I make it happen. I don’t want to force them with my Sway. But …
I look back at Lucifer as I struggle with what to do. He gives me an “I’m trying” shrug. His devil-may-care expression hardens, however, when I reach for John’s and Ianto’s hands and give them a squeeze. I breathe deep to settle my nerves.
“This is real. Things are on the edge of changing forever. Do you see how big this is? How can this not be what I was meant for?” Trying not to think about it, I push the thought with my mind and ignore the knot in my gut. “This is what I’m meant for—to bring Heaven and Hell together.”
John’s shake slows and Ianto softens slightly. “How can you possibly know He’s sincere?” John asks, but it’s no longer in anger. I can tell he’s thinking about it.
I look across at Lucifer, who shrugs again.
“Give me something to show you mean it,” I say.
Lucifer’s brow lifts. “Whatever you wish. Name your peace offering.”
“Owen.” Tiny shards of ice stab at my gut as I say his name, and I realise my request is spectacularly selfish, but it’s what I want more than anything.
The king’s face pinches into a grimace. “I’m not able to give you a condemned soul. For that, you’d have to go to your beloved Almighty. Would you accept a lost brother in lieu?”
“Gray,” I whisper. “Could you make him an … angel?”
“Once again, his ultimate fate is not for me to decide, but I can release him from Hell’s service. He’d be free to return to Earth as a Grigori.”
I glance sideways at John and don’t miss the pain in his eyes. He feels responsible for Gray’s fall. Would it ease his guilt if Gray had a second chance?
“If He gives us Gray, will you believe Him?” I ask.
John’s tortured eyes turn to mine, but he doesn’t answer.
I look back at Lucifer and can’t stop the glare. “And I want you to call Hell off my family. I want Russell and any other demon lurking around them gone.”
An amused smile plays over His strong features as Lucifer rises from the sofa and steps toward me. “Anything else, my lord?”
“Stop calling me that,” I answer through gritted teeth.
He holds out His hand and the boys are instantly on their feet glaring at Him. I glance between them and Lucifer’s outstretched hand.
I need to keep His trust.
Ianto and John both stiffen as I reach for His hand and He draws me to my feet. “I will return with your peace offering,” He says, the heat of His gaze scorching me. Then, in a puff of sulphur, He’s gone.
My head is like fairy floss, and I know it’s Jack’s Sway. I can’t decide if I’m contemplating this because he wants me to or because in some little corner of my mind, I know what he’s saying makes sense.
Since I first was asked to Shield him as a child, I’ve known he was meant for something big. Huge. And he’s right. I can’t think of anything bigger than bringing Lucifer back to the Kingdom. But believing that’s possible entails a certain degree of trust in Lucifer, and that’s where I get stuck. I didn’t know Him as an angel. Sometime before the War there may have been some good in Him. But I’m certain that the Almighty was right in His decision to cast Lucifer down, which means any chance at redemption is long gone.
Jack glances up at the clock, which reads nearly midnight. “I need to get home,” he says.
“It’s late,” I say. “Your sisters are safe. They’re sleeping behind your father’s field.”
I see the scrunch to his forehead that means he’s preparing to argue.
“Jack,” I pre-empt. “Showing up now will only frighten them. They’ll be fine until morning. We’ll go first thing. Promise.”
His eyes narrow. “First thing,” he repeats.
“First thing,” I confirm.
He breathes deep and looks at me a moment longer. “C’mere,” he says. “Let me change your bandages.” He grasps my hand and turns for the bathroom.
I follow him and he closes the door and proceeds to pull gauze, tape, and antibiotic ointment out of one of the drawers. Tugging me over to the toilet by my shirt, he places the supplies on the edge of the counter and sits me on the toilet seat. He leans in to me as he gently slides my shirt over my head.
“You have no idea how worried I was,” I say to distract myself from his proximity, and his smell, and the way I want to pull him to me and never let him go.
He peels the tape back from my skin and grimaces. “I’m pretty sure I do.”
“Why did you run?”
Something hardens in his expression as he dabs at the swollen red crater in my shoulder with a damp cloth. “You know why.”
“I told you Maggie was fine. It’s a miracle you got here in one piece,” I say, all the pent-up anger, fear, and frustration of the last twenty-four hours bleeding through into my words.
“You wouldn’t let me come back, and I had to see for myself,” he answers, indignant as ever. “Plus, they’d found us anyway, so it wasn’t like we could stay there.” He tosses the bloody cloth into the sink and smears some ointment on the gauze.
That much is true, but … “Coming back here probably wouldn’t have been the next choice on my list.”
He places the gauze on my shoulder and yanks the first-aid tape a little harder than necessary to tear it. “I had to see for myself,” he repeats. He throws the shirt in the bin.
We emerge from the bathroom to two sets of inquiring eyes.
“Do you have a T-shirt John can have?” he asks Ed.
He scoots into the bedroom and comes back holding a black T-shirt with a red Mustang across the chest and tosses it to me.
I slide it over my head, careful of Jack’s bandages. “I’ll take outside,” I say to Ianto. “You keep an eye out in here.” As I stride through the family room to the door, Ianto’s and Ed’s eyes follow me. And so does Jack, a scowl fixed firmly on his face. He’s not done with me.
We step into the cool night and make our way out onto the damp grass.
“Am I crazy?”
That wasn’t the question I was expecting and I pull up short, turning back to face him.
I breathe a sigh. “You’re trying to find your way—your purpose. I don’t think you’re crazy. A little misguided, maybe…” He looks up at me, his eyes pleading, and I feel that muddled brain again. “I can tell how badly you want this, but what I can’t tell you is if this is the right thing. It’s hard for me to accept that Lucifer is willing to change after all these millennia.” I grasp his hand and gaze down into his amazingly blue eyes. “But I’ve seen you do some pretty unbelievable things with that Sway of yours.”
A smile touches his lips, and I smile back. But then his smile is gone. He lifts a hand and runs a finger over my bandaged shoulder. “Like this?”
Finally, the question I was expecting. “You haven’t left me totally unchanged, Jack.”
He tentatively leans in, laying his ear against my chest. His breathing is shaky as he listens to my pounding heart. Finally, he peels himself back and looks up at me with glistening eyes. “I didn’t mean … did I…?” he stumbles.
“Did you give me a gift?” I finish for his, gazing down into his eyes. “Yes,” I whisper.
His stunned expression hasn’t cleared. “When did you know? That I was changing you, I mean?” he says.
“That night.” I can tell by the sudden flush of his cheeks that he knows exactly which night I’m talking about. The night in his bed after Owen’s funeral. The first time I felt desire so intense and all-consuming that I would have traded my wings for one night with his. I smile down at him. “And I didn’t hate it.”
He looks as though he doesn’t know what to say. “Sorry?”
“I wasn’t lying, Jack. You’ve given me a gift. Beings of the upper spheres—the Seraphim—can’t feel. Not really. Not the same as humans and the lower angels. We were never from the Earth—never part of humanity, and real emotion is uniquely human.” I step closer and grasp his hand. “You’ve given me something unbelievable. Even if I lose it … if you stop…” I trail off.
“Loving you,” he finishes for me. “I won’t,” he says as my eyes lift back to his.
I smile again, but feel the stab of pain behind it. “You should,” I breathe. “Even if I can’t stay like this, I’ve tasted it … what it’s like to feel something so … profound. I could have existed forever and never known what I was missing. You did that for me. But now I need to do my job.” I feel my gut tighten and I can’t look his in the eye. “I was trying to think of what I could say to make you hate me.”
“I could never hate you.” I hear the alarm in his voice and it confirms what I already know. There’s no way out of this that isn’t going to hurt both of us.
Instead of following my instinct—and my heart—and comforting his, I finally do what I should have been strong enough to do from the beginning. I step back. “It’s gone on too long.” I shake my head and look to the Heavens. “Heaven help me, I’ve let it go on too long.”
He steps toward me, but I take another step back. His lips press into a line as he looks up into my eyes. Finally, he swallows hard and nods. “I’m so sorry, John. I never meant for this to happen.”
I feel a lump rise in my throat watching his struggle against his tears. After several beats of my pounding heart, he steps forward and wraps his arms around me and, this time, I don’t back away, because I know what this is.
He rests his forehead on my chest. “You mean so much to me, and I’ve been so unfair to you.” He lifts his head off my chest and glances at the house. I can’t help slipping into his mind, and in it I find what I know I should. Ianto. He loves him completely. He has all along.
I give his hand a squeeze and his forehead a kiss, then he turns back to the house and disappears through the door.
“Good-bye, Jack,” I whisper after him.
I watch the shadow of a moving figure pass outside the window. John is keeping vigil outside tonight, and it’s reassuring to see him pass by every few minutes.
I rub my pounding temples. I’ve been so selfish. After all my promises that I wouldn’t want him, I changed him too. All I can think about is if I’ve put him in danger. Does he still have his powers?
I lay back and stare at the ceiling, worrying about John, Ianto, Gray, my family. I need to get home. I need to see for myself that everyone is okay. John said Maggie and Grace can protect themselves, and part of me is totally relieved that I’m not the only freak in my family. But a bigger part of me is scared for them. I don’t know what it is Maggie and Grace can do, but I’m scared that Heaven, Hell, or worse, both, will decide they want it. I shudder thinking about how my whole life changed when Ianto showed up to tag my soul.
The momentary flash of anger gives way to other feelings. Deeper feelings. It wasn’t his fault. He was just doing his job—the only job he’d ever known.
And he was doing it for Lucifer.
I’m having a lot of trouble reconciling the contradiction.
Lucifer started out as an angel. He couldn’t have always been bad. He might even have been good once. And now He wants to go back, and maybe I can help Him.
As I think about Him, the pendant starts to throb hot against my skin. I pull it up by the strap and look at the pulsing red glow.
I made this for you.
I lift the strap over my neck, rubbing the pendant between my fingers like a lucky penny, and watch the red glow fade. I curl it into my palm and feel it pulse.
Ianto said Lucifer wouldn’t give up His power, but John doesn’t seem as sure. Am I being foolish to think this is my purpose? Is He trying to manipulate me? This stupid power I have is the most frustrating thing in the universe. It only works one way. If I can manipulate the thoughts of mortals and others, wouldn’t it have been wise to make it so I could read those thoughts first? There are a few minds I’d love to read right about now.
I can picture him out on the sofa. I’m sure he’s not sleeping, even though I’m also sure he needs it after the ride I took them on over the last thirty hours.
And so do I. I focus on my breathing, making it slow and deep, and try to turn off my whirring mind. Sequentially, I concentrate on releasing the tension in my body. I make my feet relax, then my calves, my thighs, my hips. Little by little, my body becomes heavy and sinks into the bed. My torso, my shoulders, my arms. Finally, I soften my neck and my face. Sleep is coming, slowly taking me under.
Until the bolt of lightning short-circuits my brain.