Type: Oneshot, angst, General (no pairings)
Warnings: mentions of toruture
Word count: 2,012
Summary: Dean can escape from hell, but he can’t escape from his own mind.
A/N: I actually wrote this a while back, along with another one SPN oneshot. I’d asked a couple of friends for an idea of something they’d like to see written so I could get a better feel for the characters. I actually still owe another friend a oneshot, but I’m not quite sure how to do her request XD; Anyway, this one is for rileycakes, who asked for some angst fic with Dean fresh out of hell.
There was nowhere on Earth that could match the fiery wasteland that echoed hollowly around Dean, burning into his eyes, the arid sand stinging the deep wounds that had been cut into his body. The sand felt almost like salt, the pain was so great. Dean licked his parched lips and grimaced at the sharp taste.
The sand was salt.
But what more could he expect in hell?
Nothing much. It had been the same for thirty years. Some days it was burning heat that made him think the skin would melt right off of his bones, then some days his skin did melt from his bones. There were other days that the air was so frigid that his body froze bit by bit until his tormentor would pick up an axe and start chopping parts off like a woodsman cutting firewood for the winter.
There were days when everything was wet and he could feel things growing on him and in him, and there were other days—like today—that the air was so dry and thin that he suffocated time and again. Never actually finding any rest in the end, but always waking up to a new beginning of torment and pain.
And his tormentor? His tormentor—Alastair—he was there... every day he was there. He talked to Dean, cajoled him, taunted him, tormented him. It was he who made Dean scream in ways that he’d never believed possible. Sometimes he talked about the most normal things while he sliced and diced into Dean’s body and into his soul, and sometimes the conversation was as deep as the cuts.
Today was the same as every other day. It was Hell in the most literal sense of the word. It was almost near the end of the day of torment which meant Dean would either suddenly wake up to find himself whole the next day, or he would remain awake all night, aware of the bugs and scavengers eating at his body until the next day came and everything was like new.
Today was the same.
Only it wasn’t.
Today was different because today Dean couldn’t handle anymore.
Bobby frowned at where Dean was laying on the couch, whimpering in his sleep. Dean’s head shook and he murmured a low ‘no’ that held so much pain and fear in it that Bobby almost wanted to wake him. Perhaps he would if this kept up.
At the sound, Bobby glanced over to see Sam sit in a chair next to him.
“Hey yourself,” Bobby answered.
Sam glanced at his brother, a look of concern flashing across his face. “He says he doesn’t remember anything.”
“Bet you anything he’s lyin’,” Bobby grunted. “First night out of the pit and he’s tossing and turning like a frightened little boy. Doesn’t seem like somethin’ a person who didn’t remember would do.”
“Maybe he just doesn’t remember consciously,” Sam suggested, sounding as if he hoped it were true for Dean’s sake.
“Maybe,” Bobby muttered, though he didn’t believe for a moment that Dean couldn’t remember. He was too quick to deny, too quick to turn the conversation elsewhere. No, Dean remembered. Bobby was sure of it.
“Well, we’ve reached the end of another day,” Alastair said calmly as he put his current tool of torture away. “There’s really no need for you to suffer like this, Dean. One simple agreement, and you could make all the pain go away.”
Dean gritted his teeth, the salty sand crunching between them. He wanted to say no. He wanted to tell the bastard to stick it where the sun didn’t shine. He wanted to refuse, just like he had for the last thirty years. He wanted to be strong—for his father, for his brother... for his mother...
But he couldn’t.
He couldn’t do it anymore.
“I...” Dean croaked. His eyes filled with liquid, soothing the dryness and stinging at the same time.
“Hm?” Alastair said, looking at Dean with slightly more interest. Because this was new. This wasn’t the same
“I will,” Dean ground out shamefully. “I’ll do it.”
“I said I would!” Dean snapped hoarsely.
Alastair’s lips quirked up into a small placid smile. “It’s such a shame that our fun together like this has to come to an end, but I think we’ll still have a very nice time together.”
Dean breathed heavily through his nose, annoyed with Alastair’s slow discussion. He wanted off. He wanted out of these chains, off the rack. He wanted to not hurt anymore, and if saying yes was the only way, then he would do it. After all, what did it really matter if he tortured a few souls the way he’d been tortured? They were going to be tortured anyway whether it was Dean who did it or not. At least this way Dean could spare himself the agony of having it done to him.
Then in almost the blink of an eye, Dean was whole again. The air felt wonderfully cool. He wasn’t hungry or thirsty, he wasn’t uncomfortable in anyway. And the chains that had kept him tied down for so long were gone. Sitting up, Dean touched his chest in disbelief, then looked up at Alastair who was smiling down at him.
“It seems as though I have myself a new apprentice. Welcome to the business. I think you’ll find that this was the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“Yeah, I bet,” Dean grunted, then stood up. He felt so good. Everything felt right and he wondered why he’d bothered saying no for all those years when he could have had it this good to start with.
Sam sat down on the couch near the one Dean was sleeping on. Bobby had gone to bed an hour ago once Dean had calmed down, but Sam still couldn’t sleep. He was exhausted, but he couldn’t get enough of looking at Dean, knowing that his brother was alive and well... it was almost too much. He’d given up hope and part of him had died with Dean and been buried inside of him the way they’d buried Dean in the ground.
He watched over his brother for another half hour, before laying down and pulling the blanket over him. Sleep would come. Probably not soon, but it would come, and Sam tried to tell himself that Dean would definitely be there when he woke up. Dean wasn’t going anywhere...
The woman begged and pleaded for mercy, but her cries feel on deaf ears. Dean knew she was innocent, knew that the woman had been unjustly sent here, but that didn’t matter. She was here and there was no going home—not for her, not for him.
And really, Dean couldn’t remember that much of ‘home’ anyway. The long years had erased a lot from his memory. Dean knew that he had family and friends, but their faces never came to mind anymore, and their names were gone. There was nothing but this.
Dean picked up the knife as Alastair instructed, watched as Alastair told him which parts of the body were most sensitive, and what angles would bring more pain. The woman listened in horror and thrashed around in vain. There was no hope for her.
“Better you than me, babe,” Dean said flatly as he pressed the knife against her. Exhilaration flowed through him. It was his turn to deal out the pain. Someone was going to scream, and it wasn’t going to be him. Pushing the blade into her, Dean felt her warm blood squirt onto his hand and arm, and then—
Dean’s eyes snapped open and he gasped sharply. It had been a dream... a true dream, but a dream no less. He swallowed several times and blinked when his eyes began to sting. He had done that. He had hurt that women, hurt many women and many men. He’d done it and he’d enjoyed it.
The clock struck, telling Dean that it was two in the morning. It hadn’t even been a full twenty-four hours since he’d come back and his experiences were already starting to claw at him. Yesterday had been too full to think about what had happened to him in Hell, but now... now in the dead of night it was all too clear.
There was a nauseating gurgle in his stomach and Dean knew he was going to vomit. Staggering to his feet, Dean lurched to the bathroom, barely making it in time to avoid cleaning anything off the floor. He heaved again and again, emptying his stomach of the burgers and beer he’d had for dinner. Dean tried to keep his eyes open, tried to avoid seeing the images that were forever burned into his memory. There was nothing but suffering. His own suffering. The suffering of others. The wrongs that had been done to him, and the wrongs he had done to others.
He was a monster...
If Sam ever knew, if he ever found out what he’d done... Dean didn’t know if he’d be able to bear it. No one could know. He couldn’t tell anyone what he’d done. He was worse than the worst things they’d hunted.
Dean blinked and felt hot tears slide down his face as he knelt over the toilet. He held the bowl tight and felt a sob well up within him just as another wave of nausea hit him. Dean could smell the blood now. The memory was so strong. He’d been smelling blood for forty years and it was an easy thing for his mind to conjure up.
“No... please...” he whispered as the faces of his victims flashed before his eyes. “No... no... no...” And then there was Alastair, smug look of triumph on his face. So many faces. Perhaps in time they would fade, the way that his life on Earth had faded over time, but he didn’t believe he’d be that lucky.
Sam watched Dean rush to the bathroom, his form a black shape in the darkness. Concern pricked at him when he heard the vomiting and then the sobbing. He fought with himself over whether he should see if Dean was okay, but in the end he decided against it. His brother hated to seem weak. He worked hard to put on the tough guy front, but Sam knew better. He’d never tell Dean that he knew better, but he did.
There was more sobbing and the low murmurs of someone who seemed to be pleading, though who Dean could possibly be pleading with, Sam didn’t know. But the crying slowed and eventually stopped. The toilet was flushed, the sink turned on and Sam could hear what was probably Dean splashing water on his face.
And then there was the black shape of Dean returning, though he didn’t go directly to the couch he’d been sleeping on. Instead he picked up a few bottles on Bobby’s desk, feeling the weight of each, then finally settling on one. He opened it and drank—how much, Sam didn’t know.
Finally, Sam couldn’t bear it any longer and said, “Dean?”
Dean started and turned. Sam couldn’t see his face, but he was sure there would be a look of surprise on it if he could.
“Sammy?” Dean whispered.
There was a moment of hesitation, then, “Yeah. I think those burgers didn’t sit well. I’m good now though.”
“You sure?” Sam asked, wishing his brother would just tell him the truth, but knowing it wouldn’t do any good to push.
“Yeah sure,” Dean said, laying on the couch as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
Sam gave Dean’s shape one last sad look, then closed his eyes, wondering how much of Hell had escaped along with Dean and how much of it was still with him.