The Long, Hard Road Out of Hell

Spoilers: Season 2 many episodes referred to.

Lyrics from "Bat Out Of Hell" by Meatloaf

Title courtesy Marilyn Manson

Disclaimer: And yeah, yeah, don't own them, just borrowing them from Kripke and Co. to play with them a bit.

Chapter 1: John in Hell knew exactly what was happening in Cold Oak. In fact he had known what was happening to his boys the whole time since he made the deal. Now he had the front row seat to Sam's death and Dean's deal. And just how did he know? The demons in Hell made sure he know, that's how...

And how did he get out?

The Long, Hard Road Out of Hell

By Cookie6

Chapter One

The sirens are screaming and the fires are howling,
way down in the valley tonight.
There's a man in the shadows with a gun in his eye,
and a blade shining oh so bright.
There's evil in the air and there's thunder in sky,
and A killer's on the bloodshot streets.
Oh and down in the tunnel where the deadly are rising,
Oh I swear I saw a young boy down in the gutter,
He was starting to foam in the heat.

Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell

. . . And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments. . .
. . . for I am tormented in this flame. . .

. . .place of torment. . .

Luke 16:23-28

There was nothing to see, yet he saw everything. He knew his eyes were open, looking, peering out, but there was nothing but inky blackness. So dark. So nothing. So empty that he had to remind himself that his eyes weren't closed, yet he saw everything. In Technicolor, high definition. A kaleidoscope of images assaulted him and overwhelmed him. This was Hell.

There was nothing to hear, yet he heard everything. The silence was deafening. He strained to hear in the eternity of darkness, but was met with a cloying silence that drove him mad. Yet he heard everything. In digital surround sound, high decibel stereo, the screaming, the yelling, the cries for help, the whispered begging, the praying. This was Hell.

With what he was forced to see and hear came the utter devastation. Feelings of pain and grief permeated his mind nonstop, but that was all his own making. His heart broke over again, his fear skyrocketed and his need to protect engulfed him. Hopelessness and helplessness were high on the agenda. And the voices… They began the instant he landed here, whenever that was. Forever ago. An eternity ago. His senses were assaulted without his permission or his control. He yearned for peace, to be able to concentrate or block out at will, but it was beyond him. What he saw, what he heard, what he felt was pure misery. The bombardment was never ending. He felt every word, every image, every nuance. It was beyond Hell.

The physical pain he could somehow push to the background. Heck, he had even gotten used to the intense heat from which there was no mercy. He could feel the flames even though he couldn't touch them. It was just an awareness from which there was no escape. It made breathing difficult, even though he realised that breathing wasn't a priority, shit it wasn't even a requirement. But nevertheless it was unbearable. He tried to move away from the pain the flames caused but there was no escape: they were constant and the intensity was directly proportional to the pain of the images and sounds. They singed his consciousness with a force that drove him backwards but the demons crowded him regardless. The understanding that he was trapped was crushing.

He saw every person he'd failed to save, he saw their expressions in death and he heard their screams of terror, reflecting their physical pain and their disbelief at what they were seeing. He saw the gore, he smelt the blood, he heard the screeches of the evil as it took their last breath. He knew it was his fault, because the voices told him over and over again. Their demise was due to his failure. He saw and heard each and every one of them, and he cried out his guilt and sorrow. He was in Hell.

Emotionally he was wrung out from trying to fight his torment, from trying to ignore it. He felt like he was dying but he knew that wasn't an option anymore, that this was to be his living existence for now on in. Forever. That thought alone fed his misery but it also fuelled his frustration and drove his madness to its limits. At first all he had felt was rage, intense rage that had him fighting with everything he had. But they all rejoiced at his agony, laughed their pleasure and turned it up. He felt their sinister glee at his efforts and reactions, their spite and malice tangible. He hated them like never before, with an intensity that spawned and fed his hatred.

He screamed again as he watched his beautiful Mary bleed on the ceiling, this time his disbelief replaced by repulsion and grief. The flames that scorched her burned him anew. He saw her blood drip on her baby son as he heard her call "Sammy…" before her eyes locked with his as she mouthed his name. His horror knew no bounds as he re-lived that moment. The demon chorus chanted in unison "Burn, burn, burn," as he whimpered. A voice vaguely familiar murmured, "She was never yours to keep," as yellow eyes glowed in the sea of black.

But the most agonising images inflicted upon him were those of his sons. John Winchester knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was in Hell.

His tormentors supplemented what he saw and heard with a continual running commentary, cruel and sadistic. They delighted in the pain, the anguish and the agony, both physical and emotional. They giggled, they chuckled, they chatted, they added opinions and description with continual cadence. The most venomous voice was accompanied by yellow eyes, instantly recognisable, fear and hatred racing for first place in his mind. This voice ensured him a front row seat to all the images. He might be unable to be with his children, but this deep, evil voice made sure he was kept up to date. The kicker was the front row ticket was only good for the most devastating scenes, a deliberate edit that messed with John's mind and convinced him that only misery and evil existed. As each vision or memory played, the flames licked higher and John felt their punishing presence.

John was no fool and he knew his sons intimately. He knew of the happiness and security they shared in each other: the joking, the teasing, the deep bond. He knew one brother existed because of the other. He knew the history of the brothers together was strong, but he just couldn't see it, the negative images were so strong and dominant. He knew this was deliberate so he tried desperately to find these memories, to focus on them but they eluded him to the point that he couldn't recall any of them. He cried out in frustration, knowing they were within reach if he could just remember where… The horrors that plagued his family were replayed over and over, the torture as fresh each time. And again his hatred burned and his despair escalated. But not for himself. For Mary. And for his boys. Always for his boys. There's no place like Hell.

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The flames beat higher as he heard Sammy telling him he hated him as he slammed his few clothes into his duffle, his eighteen year old face twisted with unhappiness and resentment, tears threatening but not forthcoming, held back with determination. Sam's anger burst within John and his misery doubled knowing it was directed at him. A dozen demon voices told John he deserved it. "You were a terrible father, all he wanted to do was leave you, couldn't get out fast enough." He watched Dean, huddled in the corner, shock and fear on his handsome face, torn between loyalty to his father and love for his brother, his green eyes huge, his body still. Dean's despair wrapped around John's heart like a blanket, smothering him in its intensity.

The voice behind the yellow eyes mocked "Being a good soldier robbed him of his opinion, John, for all his ferociousness he is such a mouse." The evil smile leered. "You did that, John. You took it from him before he ever came into himself on his own. No wonder he is so lost". The other demons crowded round, jeering their agreement and John felt his own guilt at his son's misery all over again, powerless to do anything about. The yellow eyes hissed "You could have fixed it then, now you can't, and it's them who are paying." John felt his own tears scorch his cheeks as he silently sobbed "I'm sorry boys, I'm so sorry…" but the laughter of the demons drowned out his apology in his own ears.

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Suddenly the flames leapt up, reappearing on the ceiling and John's terror magnified. Only this time the beautiful young innocent wasn't Mary. John saw blonde curls and a red slash in the flames, and his confusion mixed with his terror and grief to a whole new lethal cocktail. "Jess! No!" he heard Sam yell out and recognition dawned. "No, Oh God, please, Sam…" he moaned.

Sam's shock and terror became his own, he felt it all for his son and with his son. "She can't have him either," the demon whispered as the other demons cheered. John saw their grins, hundreds of them, maliciously leering. As John watched Dean crash through the door and drag his screaming, struggling brother out, he felt both their heartbeats thumping together with panic in their chests. "Please, stop…" he begged but his pleas fell on deaf ears. "Oh John, there's lots more where that came from," another demon jeered. John tried to turn away, but Sam's huge, hollow eyes staring upwards from over his brothers shoulder bore into his soul. "That's it, John," the sea of voices jeered, "we own your soul now, have a good look."

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"One, two, three, four . . . twelve, thirteen. . ." Trying hard to ignore the sing-songy counting that erupted around him, John reeled as he watched his first born repeatedly smash his car with a tire iron, totally out of control, totally out of character. He watched as Dean's pain cascaded out from behind his carefully constructed wall and crashed with the enormity of his grief and despair. John felt himself crash with him. "He knows what you did, John," evil sneered. John groaned out loud while he watched his son breathe heavily with the exertion and the emotion that left him quivering and panting, and the demonic voices grew louder and rowdier. With abhorrence, John realised the demons had counted the number of times Dean had struck the car. "He's lost it, John!" they yelled their glee. John recoiled from the blank look on his son's face, Dean totally spent.

John froze with the fear that he was watching Dean at breaking point. "He's not fit to watch out for Sam" the demons called, "They'll lock him up. Dean in a cage! They'll lock him in the loony bin!" Evil laughter echoed all around John as more and more voices joined in. John attempted to cover his ears, but the voices were relentless. The flames became more intense as the demonic mosh pit ramped it up.

"He blames himself, John,"

"How delicious!"

"He is so not worthy."

Dean's empty stare accelerated his misery as the flames leapt higher and burned his heart.

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The images that bombarded John came out of nowhere, fast and furious, with no discernible sequence. All he was aware of was a whole new world of anguish. His wrists burned as he watched Dean struggle with the ropes that bound him to the chair. John gagged with Dean as the filthy cloth shoved in his mouth smothered his cries. Instead John cried out for him "SAM!" Heat once more became intolerable as the unseen flames flicked at his body. The yellow eyes smirked and the demonic crowd surged forward in glee. "It seems that we have humans on our side, John. Not planned, but a bonus nonetheless," the yellow eyes snugly announced, "And this one does excellent work." John blanched at the knowledge that he was about to watch a human hunt his children. His hunter instincts kicked in, searching for a reason as to why and which son, but the fact that either son was a target caused his stomach to clench and his panic to soar.

A loud explosion had Dean leaning forward in shock, green eyes wide with denial, his breath caught and John's breathing labored with him. "Breathe son, breathe for me" John murmured. "Don't breathe son, stop breathing!" the demons chanted amidst their laughter and hooting. A second explosion had Dean heaving, his eyes flashing hatred and grief. "Sam's gone, John. Dean knows it, you know it". John was given a bird's eye view of blood splattered glass and a smoking boot. "Lucky you, John, Dean didn't get to see that work of art," the demon snickered. John was stunned at the intensity of the new hunter's hatred of Sam. "He recognises Sam for what he is, John."

John felt the heavy weight of defeat as he watched the light dull in Dean's eyes, and he growled deep in his throat in distress. At this, the demonic pack applauded and their celebration ramped up to pitch fever while John drowned in his loss. His relief at seeing Sam walk through the rubble was short-lived when he saw Sam's damaged face. John instantly wanted to kill whoever was responsible for putting those cuts and bruises there. His violent thoughts were not missed by the grinning evil around him, who reminded John that he couldn't do a damn thing about it.

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"John, watch!" John gasped and watched in terror as his gentle baby son ended a life with the stroke of a blade and his torment reached new heights. Sam's guilt and Dean's need to protect suffocated him and he groaned, long and low, with the weight of it. In an instant John saw one son's hazel eyes turn black and the other son's green eyes turn vacant as unconsciousness snuffed them out. John sobbed as he saw Dean crash to the ground, pistol whipped and left for dead by Sam, his beautiful face transformed, mirroring evil like he was born to it.

"Isn't he magnificent?" the yellow eyes gloated. "NO!" John cried out as a sea of voices responded "Yes, yes, YES!"

"He isn't finished yet!' a black voice bragged and John watched in disbelief as Sam begged Dean to shot him. "Why the concern, John? Isn't that what you asked Dean to do? Didn't you order him to end Sam if he couldn't save him? You're not being two faced here, are you John?"John yelled out and struggled at the hands that were suddenly pawing at him, the heat claustrophobic. "Come on, John, he's only being a good little soldier, trained to obey, no second guesses…" Suddenly John was suckerpunched by the reality of what he had asked Dean to do, what it really meant, and his stomach clenched into a tight ball. "Aw, God…" his last breath to his son had been to ask for the impossible and now he was watching it unfold. He watched the high cost roll across Dean's traumatized eyes and trembling lips. "Stop son, I didn't know!" John's voice echoed in the stillness and the sea of black eyes glistened.

He watched his sons hunt each other down with guns drawn and his heart shattered that he'd let Mary down in the worse possible way. To his utter incredulity he was witness to Dean's fall from a pier as Sam shot him without hesitation, black eyes cold and unforgiving. He sobbed at the look of betrayal in Dean's eyes at he tumbled backwards. John cried out his horror "No Sam!"

"It's inevitable, John" the voice of his nemesis crooned, "He's wired that way." John's anger burst from him in a vicious growl that only served to ignite the flames and the demons to more laughter.

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When he saw hazel eyes in absolute despair, tears flowing freely, demons chuckled in delight, shouting "He's gonna shoot her! He's gonna shoot her! John, your boy is a murderer after all!" The voice with the yellow eyes leaned in and whispered "And he'll hate himself…" John watched as his youngest son squared his shoulders and looked back at his big brother with his soul bared open and he died inside. He saw deep green eyes in absolute sadness, stare, as a single tear rolled down his face.

The voices cheered "He did it! Did you see her face as he did it" as the voice with the yellow eyes sneered "He can't protect Sam from what he's destined to be. Sam's strength is what sets him apart, you knew it all along." John tried to dig his fists into his eyes to block out the movie of his son's agony but his anger and despair paralysed him. He yelled out in rage as he watched Dean sink with his brother to the floor, rocking him gently as he removed the glock from his grasp. The laughing of the demons blended with the sobbing of one son and the crooning of the other. John wasn't sure if he could hear his own sobs or his baby's, before the demons chanting overtook it all.

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Dean's unconscious face assaulted his vision and John cringed with how ill he looked. He tried to fight, to concentrate on searching for a happy memory but the vision of Dean hanging by his arms, dark rings under his eyes, with a needle in his neck slammed into his brain. He moaned and turned his head as he felt Dean's pain like it was his own, because now it was his own. The demon chat intensified to a fever pitch as John saw his vibrant, brave son immobilized and a feeling of desolate failure enveloped him.

"Wait John, watch closer, look deeper..." the demon whispered, his voice so close that John felt its presence before he heard it. John struggled to ignore yet another horror, but against his will another vision permeated his conscience. He watched with utter disbelief as Dean leaned into his mother's hand, a blissful look on his face. "No, Dean!" he cried, his grief creating a deep resonance in his voice. He watched in stunned incredulity as Sam greeted her with familiarity but treated his brother with barely contained contempt. John saw Dean's pain on his face the instant before it torpedoed into his heart. The cruelty of it broke him and he scrunched his eyes closed to block out the torture.

"He barely tolerates him you know. He's just an embarrassment to the whole family" a voice droned. John wrapped his arms around himself in an unconscious gesture of supporting Dean. He knew that Sam's indifference, indeed his cold disregard, would be tearing Dean apart, that this was the ultimate torture for his boy. "He worked so hard to keep Sam safe, and this is how Sam repays him in a perfect world" a menacing voice whispered.

John fought for his mind to show him the boys as he knew them to be, but was met with nothing, a blank. "Can't find it, John?" another voice tormented "Maybe because it was never there. That this IS how Sam sees Dean. A waste of space, a good-for-nothing. Maybe you saved him from himself after all, John". At this John felt a spark ignite, but it was soon extinguished when an image of Dean thrusting a knife into his own belly exploded in his vision. "Suicide, John! The coward's way out. And this is the end he sees fit in his perfect world. Now he's watching out for Sam, improving his life!" John's bellow of suffering echoed around the bowels of the earth but his was the only heart in the crowd that shattered.

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For the umpteenth time in eternity, John collapsed inside himself, crying his pain, frustration and torment in silent tears. His mind tried to shut off, to disappear, to hit the mute button since the off button was non existent. But for the umpteenth time in eternity, the demonic plague hit the replay button and Hell became the box office hit with John the sole audience.

Suddenly and without warning, everything stopped. The chaotic maelstrom of sights, sounds, voices. . . ceased.

John sensed the demons rush off in a pack. Something caught their collective attention and they turned to it en masse. Like vultures suddenly allowed access to a rotting carcass., they swooped. Each one eager for a front row seat.

John froze in shock, too confused to be relieved. Before he could gather his wits, the silky voice with the yellow eyes surrounded him. Its words were suddenly his everything, filling the void left by the cessation of everything else. "John, we've saved the best for last."

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-: to be continued:-

This is a 5 chapter story, I will post every week.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed yourself.