Title: Hell Is Just a State of Mind

Rating: Gen. PG13.

Pairing/Characters: Dean, YED

W/C: 1,500

Spoilers: AHBL Part 1

Disclaimer: Own nothing. Just having fun.

Summary: Everything has its price. The universe may not be fair, but that doesn't mean there aren't rules. 2.21 AHBL Part 1 AU continuation.

Warning: Sort of death!ficish

DEANSAMDEANSAMDEANSAMDEANSAM

Hell is Just a State of Mind

Carole

DEANSAMDEANSAMDEANSAMDEANSAM

Bright, white, blinding light.

Dean wakes up.

His neck feels stiff, his spine wedged at an uncomfortable angle and the pounding in his head makes him think that he must have gone on the mother of all benders last night. His mouth tastes like death.

"Guh, Sam?" he asks, unable to open his eyes beyond slits as he rolls over uncomfortably, realizing that he is lying on the floor. Fully dressed. Sitting in some drying, lumpy mess filled with hard chunks. "Sammy?"

Dean's hair is clumping together and his face feels as if has been glued to the floor by whatever it is he's sitting in. He grits his teeth and sits up. Pulling one hand up from the ground gingerly, Dean raises it to his face to rub the whatever-it-is off.

"What the fuck?"

It is not quite red, the lumpy bits grey and he realizes that the solid pieces look unnervingly like bone. He glances around, taking in the overturned chair, the Beretta near his other hand and the stain creeping down the wall to his left and under where his head had rested.

Dean levers himself off the floor, using the old wooden table in front of him to pull to his feet.

This is the worst moment of his life. Sam is lying there, cold, dead and gray. It hadn't been a dream after all.

DEANSAMDEANSAMDEANSAM

Dean is sitting in the chair again, staring at Sam. He absently fingers the gun in his hand.

Click. Click.

He flicks the safely on and off.

There is only one explanation he can think of for this. Dean has escaped death enough times to know that this one was something different. Dad had somehow brought him back from the brink after the accident, had traded his life for Dean's. Dean hadn't been there, he doesn't know the wording of whatever the agreement was, but dealing with demons is always tricky. There is always at least one catch besides the obvious.

He thinks it goes something like this: Dad is still dead, ergo, Dean is still alive. In body, at least.

Dean can never really by alive without Sam.

DEANSAMDEANSAMDEANSAM

He tries calling Bobby. Dean is sure the man was here last night and he can't remember him leaving. The calls keep getting sent to voice mail and Bobby never replies to him. Dean gets in the car with Sammy in the back, covered in a sheet, and starts driving. There's a cemetery in South Carolina where the walls between the land of the living and the land of the dead are thinner than most.

He has been driving for a while when he pulls into the small flower shop. It's dim and the window display is far from stunning, but he hopes they'll have what he's looking for.

He puts on his best game face as he walks inside, smiling as much as he can force himself to at the woman behind the counter. Her hair is a stringy, mousy brown and her cloths are color-faded and five sizes too large. She doesn't turn to look at him as he enters, just stares at the desktop, shoulders hunched.

Dean wanders over, leaning on the counter.

"Hi, I was wondering if you have any acacia."

Her eyes flick upwards. They are red veined and it looks as if she has been crying. At any other time he might feel bad, might have a bit more patience, but he has to get this done. The woman uncurls one hand and points towards the back of the shop, not saying a word.

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Dean glances to his left, checking for traffic before he pulls through the intersection. There is a man, probably the town drunk, eyeing his car. He's stooped over under a tree. He has the look of someone who has had the hope beaten out of him by life, broken. It reminds him of how his father looked in those first few months after mom.

The man's eyes meet his.

Dean's head jerks up. It's his dad. He blinks his eyes in confusion.

The space under the tree is empty. The man, Dad, is gone.

DEANSAMDEANSAMDEANSAM

The light is fading as the sun sets. Dean is in front of the mausoleum. There are chalk lines boldly drawn on the grey stone, black candles lit as he kneels before the mark of Azazel the fallen.

The last edge of the sun finally dips below the horizon.

Black, swarming nothingness is pulled from under stones and from crypts, swirling all around him, whipping through his hair, before congealing into a humanoid shape in the swiftly lengthening shadows. The only other thing he can make out are the bright eyes, shining gold.

"Well, if it isn't the intrepid little hero." He knows that voice, and it isn't his father's.

The demon steps forward and he's wearing Sam's face.

"You son of a bitch."

"Temper, temper. I understand that that is your mode of dealing with the world, Dean, but it isn't going to help you now." The big ass grin on Sam's face reminds Dean of the first time Sam managed to put Dean down in a fight. "So, what can I do for you, Deano? Why would you go to the trouble to call on little old me?"

"What the hell did you…"

"Do to you? Nothing." Sam-suit stalks around him, leaning over to whisper in his ear. "That's the best part. I didn't have to do anything. You managed this all on your own."

Dean turns to look at it, staring into yellow eyes. "But the deal with Dad…?"

"Well, I'll give you that much. If your father hadn't offered me himself, and the Colt, you wouldn't be here and Sam might still be alive. I think it's sort of, I don't know, ironic. The road to hell is paved and all that."

Dean has risen to his feet. The Demon is still towering over him because Sam is freakishly tall, but the difference isn't as great now. He can almost look him in the eye.

"Your father is finding out all about that." It lays a hand on his shoulder and he tries to shrug it away, but it's like a rock. "I'll let you in on a little secret, Dean, since we're becoming so close, a little life lesson on the nature of the things."

"When you make a deal with one of us, we always get more than you think you're giving."

It leans itself against the wall, crinkling its neck to one side and stretching it unnaturally, as if to remind him that this isn't Sam.

"Take this for instance." The demon lifts one hand and Dean sees that it is holding the gun, that damn gun that killed his father, if only indirectly. "Samuel Colt makes this for the purpose of hunting down and destroying evil. And yet, thanks to this, I manage to take out my worst, most persistent enemy. Hell, the rest of the Winchester clan might still be alive. Well, most of it."

Dean clinches his teeth. The weapon that could give him his revenge is just one arm length away and it might as well be a thousand miles.

"The universe can be a real bitch, but it does have its rules. Checks and balances, that sort of thing." It flips Sam's hair out of its eyes. "Call it karma."

"And there are certain sins, Dean, that are like a one-way ticket, do not pass Go, do not collect $200." It emphasizes each word with a pause and a tilt of its head, the smile never leaving its face.

"You see, your family wasn't like you. They never needed you the way you always needed them." It huffs a little in amusement, and that is so like Sam that it hurts. "Ah, it's beautiful how love can go so wrong. You should have listened to that little saying: 'If you love something, let it go.'"

"You like to hear yourself talk. Have to say, it's getting' kinda boring."

"You're the one who called me. Take what you can get."

The Demon notices where his eyes are.

"Oh, you want this?" It fingers the Colt, turning it around so that the handle is facing the young Winchester. "Go on, take it, but think for a few minutes before deciding which one of us you want to use it on. There's only one bullet left."

Dean knows that this is a trick. It isn't going to let him have the gun. "Why?"

"Because, either way, I've already won. You're here, all alone, after giving up everything for that family of yours."

Dean reaches for the gun and it doesn't stop him.

"I know the score, Dean. You're //never// going to see your little brother again and never can be a //very// long time."

He doesn't pause, doesn't hesitate. Dean aims and pulls the trigger.

Pain and the universe explodes into light.

DEANSAMDEANSAMDEANSAM

Dean wakes up.

His neck feels stiff, his spine wedged at an uncomfortable angle and the pounding in his head makes him think that he must have gone on the mother of all benders last night. His mouth tastes like death.

FIN