Sam trained for this. Every demon slain and angel evaded another grind to the whetstone, preparing him—body and soul—for the journey ahead. In those months, with Castiel’s guidance, Sam found a sense of peace he had been searching for all his life. Purpose that picked him up from the floor when tired muscle and his brother’s scorn all but crippled him.
A destiny that drove him into the deepest chasm of Hell itself.
Castiel warned him of the panic, the disorientation that would surely follow breaching Hell’s gates, and Sam always took Castiel’s word as gospel. But it wasn’t until the time came and Sam made the leap, waded into the depths that he learned what Hell truly was. It wasn’t fear, it wasn’t pain. It wasn’t the copper tang of too much blood or flame burning from within. Hell was madness and viscera clinging long after the screams of the damned faded into the ether, wandering in the dark so long, one began to forget themselves entirely. Hell was nothingness, hopelessness, an emptiness so profound that the cold lick of mist and the sweet scent of roses felt like providence, and it wasn’t until the susurrus of feathers and the familiar whisper of a hundred thousand voices enveloped him that Sam realized where he was at all.
“Open your eyes.”
Sam stood in the middle of a frozen desert, stretching on until the horizon disappeared beneath a blanket of fog kissing distant mountainsides, snowcaps gleaming with amber light that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once. Sam was gripped with a sense of isolation he couldn’t begin to articulate— like he could spend an eternity trying to reach those peaks and never make it a step closer than he was now, like he could scream until his lungs gave out and not make a single sound. It was maddening, smothering, threatening to snuff out the very light in Sam’s soul that marked him worthy to be here at all.
The smokey apparition of Castiel’s true form undulated in Sam’s periphery, a hundred eyes turned upward, unblinking, and Sam shifted his gaze just as a shadow fell over them both, a sudden cold wind whipping around the cage of Sam’s ribs and cutting near down to the bone without making one sound. Not even the faintest whistle.
Sam nearly fell to his knees in awe.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Sam,” a chorus of voices whispered somewhere in the darkest corners of his mind, gentle and humming in perfect concert with the swell of his soul. It was almost beyond Sam’s comprehension, looking up at this colossal being that simply should not exist at all—as vast and cold and silent as this prison, impossible and terrifying and beautiful.
Looking at Lucifer was like staring into the sun.
“I’ve waited for this for such a long time.”