Word Count: 2,421
Rating: Hard R
Summary: Dean finds an unexpected "ally" in hell.
Notes: This started out as indigo_blind's prompt: Sam/Dean, arguing over what to watch at the movies and somehow morphed into this. I have no clue how or why. This fic does abide by the techinical parameters of the prompt, but in the loosest sense.
When Dean pictured hell he thought Dante’s Inferno and “sinners in the hands of an angry god.” He thought demons in their true forms, whatever that looked like, some nebulous amalgam of all things frightening. He thought a never ending list of unspeakable horrors, and running across Hitler and Richard Nixon. He expected no sleep, no coffee, and pain without anesthetic all painted over with a sort of mindless monotony that Dean found worse than suffering. And in the beginning, maybe it was that way.
The misconception that everybody has about hell is that it’s a place of damnation, a place where you pay for every crime you committed on earth, with the great and terrible Lucifer as the master of your punishment. It becomes pretty clear to Dean that hell is not hell because Lucifer goes around strapping people to the rack and pouring boiling oil over them. It’s hell because you have to live with him.
They’re in the middle of skinning him like a piece of fruit when Lucifer strolls in. “I hear you can kill demons?" He continues without an answer. "A rare skill.”
The hoards that the Winchester family sent back to the fiery abyss scatter, frightened, leaving Dean a bloody mess. Lucifer laughs after them. “They fear death more than anything.” He pats Dean’s leg, blood smearing all over his fingertips. He shoots Dean a look like he crapped on the carpet and then wipes his hand on the remains of Dean’s t-shirt.
When Dean cleans up, finds himself with mended skin. Lucifer shrugs. Dean asks, “Would you really want a demon to be in possession of something like the Colt?”
Lucifer eyes the writhing masses below his palace and shoots him a dark look. “Why not?”
“Well,” Dean hopes that he won’t get cast down into the volcano that’s always spitting out lava when he says this, “I don’t think they like you much.”
Lucifer snorts, rolls his eyes heavenward. “Only your God can kill me.”
“Excuse me?” And the absurdity of being with the devil himself who is more polite than a junior miss in cotillion is not lost on Dean.
“Uh, Ruby showed us how to make the Colt work, I don’t know how the original guy figured it out.”
Lucifer’s expression goes tight with fury with every new word Dean adds to the sentence. Dean backs away, but he can’t escape the voice that lashes out through the caverns of hell, piercing through eardrums, until all of them lie flat, so suffused with the sound, it is more vital than a heartbeat. “Who knew of this? Who would keep this from me, your lord and master?”
His rage lasts for thirteen days, and by the end of it, any doubts Dean had about the devil’s devilishness have been summarily erased.
When Dean sees Lucifer again, Lucifer is playing chess against himself. He looks mildly irked. Dean hunkers down in the corner. “We are blessed with all knowledge—well, those of us originally of the host—not like your Ruby, who started out as a puling human girl with the idiocy to sell her soul. But the knowledge comes at a price, we don’t have the ability to build or create—man was created in God’s image, and we were but his pale cousin.”
Dean doesn’t say anything about that. He’s seen the awesome power of demons, ones who brought Sam back from the dead.
“They bargain for souls because it gives them a little bit of that spark.” He tips the black king over on the board. “But you have the privilege of being brought down here solely to be revenged upon.”
Dean has to hold back a smart remark.
“When I asked about killing demons, I wondered if it was some power of the wonderful Sam,” he snorts. “But alas, foolish Ruby played above her station.”
The worst thing Dean has endured here is the sound of his brother’s name rolling off the Prince of Hell’s lips.
There are children in hell. Something he never thought about. The demons find great sport in torturing them in front of him when they catch him. Lucifer rolls in as a little girl is screaming, fingers broken backwards. He wrinkles his nose. By the time the words “Get out of here,” come up out of his throat the assembled laughing demons have scurried away.
“What do you miss the most?” Lucifer asks.
The guilt and shame of not being able to help that poor child dulls Dean’s caution. “Why do you care?” But he thinks perversely of moving air. He never realized how much he needed the feel of the air. He misses it more than sunlight, more than Sam’s half-smile, more than beer, more than his car.
“I have lived down here for thousands of years, I am beyond motive.”
“Was Sam in heaven when they brought him back?”
“I don’t know,” Lucifer says, and he is lying, lying, lying, and he doesn’t care if Dean knows. “But he certainly won’t be going there after what you did.”
Dean dies just a little. It is easy to see how demons are made.
He doesn’t see Lucifer for weeks. He spends his days evading his tormentors, trying to remember what it was like to sleep, a feeling his body has forgotten despite its desperate need for it. But the Morning Star is strange, sometimes childlike. He treats Dean like a new toy that he desperately wants to play with until he finds something more entertaining. “If it makes you feel better, you weren’t going to heaven anyway, although I’m told living out the course of your natural life is really quite wonderful.”
“Why not?” Dean is angry. He doesn’t know why, but he is furious.
“You killed, Dean, that alone is enough,” the devil laughs. “ ‘To me belongeth vengeance and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them” Lucifer pauses “make haste.’”
Dean shakes his head.
“Sam would know it, chapter and verse.”
“Deuteronomy 32:35, and again in Hebrews 10:30, and again in Romans 12:19,” Dean spits back.
“Well, well, well.” Lucifer doesn’t even look surprised. “I bet you didn’t even believe in your precious God, not really, until you beheld me.”
He is not wrong. And Dean knows it. He has never had faith, an even greater sin.
There are times when Dean feels bits of his humanity leaching away and being replaced with something dark. He finds himself lashing out at the new souls that come through the gates, trying to ease some of his pain with their anguish.
“It’s happening faster to you,” Baalberith tells him. He is the chief secretary of hell, and inevitably follows wherever Lucifer goes. Dean bares his teeth. Berith laughs and throws him back against the wall with a gesture.
“Don’t break him,” Lucifer says, looking up from making a paper plane. He casts his eyes over Dean’s crumpled form and makes a face. “Would you like to see how Sam is doing?”
Dean half wants to say no, no, it hurts too much, but the word yes is spilling out over his cracked and bleeding lips. Lucifer’s mouth tugs upwards at the corners like he knows Dean’s struggle.
Sam is plowing through hunt after hunt, he has a new angry scar down one forearm. He has stopped calling Bobby. He has stopped talking. He has cut his hair. He is taking adium by the handful at night. He is becoming more bitter than their father.
“Did you do the right thing, Dean?” Lucifer asks, chin on his fist. If there was anything left in Dean’s stomach he would vomit. Lucifer leaves the window into Sam’s life up on the wall when he goes. Dean can’t stand to watch any longer.
He doesn’t think he’ll go back, but after several days have passed, he finds himself desperately wanting to see his brother’s face. It takes him a while to track down the room. The geography of hell is a fluid thing, shifting even against the will of its master. But he finds it eventually and falls asleep in front of it for the first time since he came here.
The other demons don’t bother him. Why should they—this, this, is worse than any wound they could inflict upon his flesh.
He lives in that room, his bones petrify, his blood turns to dust, because he doesn’t move but to watch Sam, even if it’s his sleep. After weeks and weeks of Sam’s newly regimented lifestyle, he nearly shatters when everything changes.
Sam goes on a hunt in Chicago—a haunted and rickety old crack den in Roger’s Park. He leaves, successful, with an eleven-year-old coffee-skinned boy trailing behind. The kid had helped him with some directions earlier, and then followed him to the hunt, sneakily peering around fences and through keyholes. The boys has a bit of the shine, Dean thinks.
“Go home to your mom,” Sam says, voice sharp, when they get to the Impala. Every last vestige of Sam must have been torn away from him when the Hell Hounds came. The boy tries the wide-eyed hurt trick, but it’s no use, Sam is gone, leaving only his impression behind.
Sam reads the newspaper in a diner and the boy slides in across from him. “What are you doing here?”
“Don’t got nowhere else to go,” the kid says with a sardonic shuffle of his bony shoulders and a downward tug to his mouth.
Sam sets his paper down. “Surely somebody is looking for you, Oliver Twist.”
“My name isn’t Oliver.”
Sam sighs, looking so much like his old self that Dean wonders if he’s been possessed. Sam just signals the waitress and orders the kid a short stack of blueberry pancakes and a side of bacon.
Lucifer finds him again sometime later. “Still haven’t moved?” His face says ‘pathetic,’ but Dean has learned that’s pretty much a default state. He looks at Sam moving on the wall in Technicolor.
“Oh look, Baby Boy, he’s getting on with his life.”
Sam is laughing, he is showing Oliver how to read maps, he is cutting up his meat for him at a restaurant when Oliver tries to shove the entire thing into his mouth, he is giving him math problems to work through, and teaching him the difference between pool, diamonds, and billiards. He is telling him stories about when the west was east of the Rockies and the world was smaller and also larger at the same time. Now, he keeps peanut butter granola bars in the glove compartment.
“Who is Dean?” Oliver asks, as they drive down I-95 through Jersey. Sam looks over like he didn’t quite hear, but his smile falls off his face.
“Sometimes you say his name in your sleep.”
Sam looks hard at the road ahead. “He’s gone.”
Not: he’s my brother, he’s everything. But: dead. There is only one man to carry on his memory, one person to hold on to him, and to that person he is characterized simply by absence.
When Dean comes back from Hell, with ash staining the fingertips of his new skin, Sam has a little shadow, Oliver. How could he forget? The shadow stays tight to Sam’s side, looks at him with big round eyes, and Dean’s desperate first thought is maybe he remembers earth better than it actually is. Because he is heavy here, weighed down once again by conscience. Dean’s legs can’t support the weight of it, and he tumbles, dimly seeing the little boy and Sam standing over him.
He wakes up in a motel room that has a cot set up under the window, a third duffle of clothing, and a bright red Spider-man backpack leaned against the dresser. Oliver sits propped against the pillows next to Dean, watching reruns of Dragon Ball Z. “Sam,” he calls out and Sam looks up from his laptop.
“You’re awake," he says, his expression bland, like he didn't even have enough to hope.
Dean rolls on his back and looks at the ceiling. “Guess so.”
Silence pervades. Where do they start? How did Sam get him out? What has he told the kid? He starts simple. “What day is today?”
People think that Oliver, real name: Casey, is their adopted son in their happy gay family. Somewhere Lucifer is laughing. He is laughing and saying, we’ll have to talk when I see you next, because Dean knows even if his soul is his own, he’s going back. And in that time Sam will follow him down, because there is no other place for them—the way they’ve cheated nature, cheated God.
Casey watches over Sam like he’s going to disappear, and Dean watches Sam like the smiles are going to fall off his brother’s face, and the whole world is watching them and seeing gay adoptive parents and cooing when they go to the movies and start an argument over whether or not the Death Race remake is an appropriate film for a pre-teen boy. Sam has found himself two people to care for now, and maybe that’s why he doesn’t need the PTA or a mortgage or a steady career.
Dean can bear up under it, his loss of his role as Sam’s caretaker, his loss of identity—you don’t come back from the dead without leaving something vital behind. He has borne the weight of all his brother’s suffering—an almost endless ocean, and he was not dragged under, he was not crushed by the surf. He is defined anew.
Casey’s almost to his twelfth birthday when it happens. He is outside the room, fiddling with his skateboard on the winter-wrecked pavement of the parking lot.
“We're going to hell,” Dean says, and lays his lips to Sam’s. And maybe he worried about Sam letting him, but Sam is not letting him, he is kissing back and when Dean peels down Sam’s loose pajama pants he finds “‘For verily, I say unto you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatsoever he says.’—Mark 11:23” tattooed to Sam’s hip in elegant sans serif just below his own name.
When Dean runs his tongue over it, Sam’s eyes slide back into his head, and his fingers tighten on Dean’s shoulders.
When Casey comes back Dean is getting out of the shower, and he is aware that the air has changed. “Can I get another coke?” he says, pressing his luck in this fresh atmosphere.
I wrote another religious fic. I'm such a terrible atheist. I can never seem to stop myself. How many does that make it now? Anyway, "Sinners in the hands of an angry God" is the title of a sermon by Jonathan Edwards, that entirely coincidentally is most closely linked with Deuteronomy 32:35, the same sermon the devil parrots at Dean. "Vengeance is mine" is a recurring theme throughout most of the bible, as Dean noted in his response by citing Hebrews and Romans.