A/N: This is entry No. 2 from Wicked Wendy's World of Winchester...you guys were great about my first story, so it's your fault there's another one...lol!

Never written a chapter story before, hope I can...a) sustain it, b) keep it coherent, and c) get over my stage fright.

Grim Warning: First chapter's a little gruesome. (How could I do this to Dean??)

Funky Disclaimer: I do not own Sam and Dean Winchester. But I did sell my soul to them...

Enigmatic Summary: Dean returns from Hell, desperate to be reunited with Sam...but for a reason he never, ever thought possible.

No Season 4 Spoilers - I am forced to take full responsibility for what comes outta my head.

Note to hitchcock-starlet: It's up! And yours came first! Now, if our stories start going along the same line, we may have to put some stock into this supernatural business... ;)


If Heaven and Hell decide

That they both are satisfied

Illuminate the NO's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you

When your soul embarks

Then I'll follow you into the dark.

- Death Cab for Cutie, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark"

Chapter One

Dean closed his eyes. He longed for escape behind his eyelids, but there was none to be had from the myriad of black chains that criss-crossed in every possible direction. Above him, below him, to either side, thousands upon thousands of them stretched into what was likely infinity.

It was much darker here than the myth ever allowed. There was no hellfire, no red-skinned, pitchfork devil. Lightning crashed and sizzled across the endless sky, illuminating patches of writhing, roiling, yellow air, thick with the stench of brimstone. The myth did allow for that.

There was no perception of time; nothing to differentiate between day and night, no way to ascertain whether a day had passed, or a week, or a month. There was only the here, and the now, and he despised both.

He struggled to keep his mind numb to the nightmarish events that had brought him here - the deal, Lilith's attack, the hellhounds - because only one thing mattered to him: Sam. Dean was desperate to know whether Sam was alive or dead; whether his sacrifice had done anything other than allow them to spend the past year together.

'Even if that's all the good that came of it,' he thought grimly, 'it was worth it.'

Lilith knew, of course. Lilith could tell him, but instead, she took perverse delight in taunting him with "Maybe he's alive, maybe he isn't." Dean took perverse delight in the thought of gouging out her eyes and feeding them to the hellhounds.

He had imagined the worst, expected it even, but his earthly ideologies could not have conceived of her brand of cruelty...her 'punishments'...even the way she kept him restrained in her highly creative prison. He was suspended flat on his back amidst the immense network, his wrists and ankles each shackled to a heavy black chain. There was something else, something almost too gruesome to think about: the bulky steel hooks that pierced through his left side and right collarbone area. God, she really had it in for him...

Dean's eyes snapped open, closing the door to his thoughts. His body had been immobile for what seemed like a very long time, and the need for movement of any kind was overwhelming. He began flexing his fingers, coaxing them through the ache and stiffness until he could actually feel them again. It wasn't much, but it was something.

He did the same with his right leg, rotating the foot, tensing and releasing the large muscles with as much strength as he could manage. He switched to the left. With the first contraction of the muscles, a surge of pain shot through the deep gashes in his leg, causing him to cry out. It hurt like, well...hell.

"Son-of-a-bitch!" He breathed hard and fast through his teeth.

"What's the matter, Dean? Can't get enough?" Her derisive, disembodied voice came at him from all sides and reverberated in his head.

"Shut up!" he snarled in response. There was a pause.

"Is that any way to talk to me, Dean?"

"No! No...I didn't mean to."

A dreadful silence followed. Letting his temper loose was usually not advisable. He waited apprehensively, knowing that she was weighing his words, trying to decide how much offense she would take at his insolence.

"Lilith?" he breathed. "Lilith...don't. Please."

He fervently hoped she would be appeased. He was met with silence for a little longer, then came her emotionless reply:

"I'm sorry, Dean."

"NO!"

His whole body arched as the huge hooks pulled upwards. He drove his teeth together and clenched his fists so hard, his arms shook. Strangled cries escaped his throat as the still-open wounds in his chest, his side, his leg, were stretched wide. He heard and felt a methodical snapping as she shattered his ribs, one at an agonizing time. The pain was beyond anything he had ever known.

As muscle ripped from tendon, and bones continued to snap, he threw back his head and screamed: long, drawn-out howls of unbearable suffering. Blood gushed from his leg and his side. Scarlet liquid from the pool inside his chest streamed into his throat, nearly choking him as he coughed and spewed blood everywhere.

"Lilith! PLEASE!!"

The hooks pulled tighter. His agony-filled screams did nothing to move her; the pain only intensified until he completely gave in to it. He screamed he was sorry, and begged her over and over to please, please stop.

As suddenly as it had begun, the hook chains went slack. His body collapsed. He coughed again and spat out more blood. Each breath he took in was released as a tortured gasp. His eyes closed and his head thrashed weakly from side to side as tears squeezed through his tightly-shut lids. Then his breath caught. "No!" he rasped. "No!"

He gritted his teeth. 'It'll stop...just hang on...think of Sam,' his brain commanded. 'Think of Sam...!' He forced himself to concentrate. From the blackness of his mind, bright images emerged of Sam, smiling, laughing, looking at him with that worried frown that Dean hated, but would give anything to experience again. The pain eased a little, and he breathed more deeply. Sam was safe, he had to be, Sam would go on and continue to fight. Without him. It's what he had bargained for. 'I did it for you, Sam...'

It was over, for now. As always, she would make sure that the bones mended, that the muscles healed, that the gashes diminished...keeping him at the ready until the next time she was angry, or bored, or spiteful. Dean pushed away the horror and let the memories of his brother take him far away from the here, and the now.

A/N: I know, first one's a shortie. You like?