He's a priest now. He dreams of the demons who tormented him, remembers every touch, every sear of unholy pain. He remembers the fear, the screaming, the sobbing.
He remembers it as he dreams of them, he remembers it whenever he smells demon.
What the prison has done to him...
He remembers it when he touches Sam, he remembers it as the lust coils in his stomach. He'd been punished for that, for his love for his brother, for his love of self. Sam is a part of him. His reason to be and his vice.
He remembers the demons when he tastes Sam's mouth, he remembers the demons as he is filled with Sam's scent.
"You feel... like a gun in my hands..." Dean murmurs into Sam's sweat-soaked curls.
He knows too much, he knows everything. Everything wrong and everything right and he's just so... angry. He's just so righteous now and it hurts.
"I'm an abomination," he's gasping as Sam's hands draw sigils of sweat along the ridges of his back. "I am disgusted by me, and I'm disgusted by all the abominations like me."
This is all it means, this pain. This pain is Faith. The gnawing fervor, the hysterical euphoria. Hell hath made him mad.
"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy... We're fucked, Sammy, we're fucked," Dean coos rocking against him. Sam doesn't know what to say, doesn't know how to speak past a wall of sin. He listens, half smiling as Dean rants, almost as if it's a joke. "You are Hell's favorite son," Dean is murmuring, "and I'm recruited as Heaven's poster child. Funny, isn't it? Hey, if only I was your sister we could get married and have inbred children and forge an alliance, like in the old days."
Dean chuckles ironically and Sam barks out a laugh, gazing up dreamily over the rim of a beer bottle. But inside he's shrinking away. There are cosmic forces fighting over their heads and Dean is laughing... Dean is delirious with his hunt.
"Dean... you're okay, you know?" he offers hesitantly.
Dean stares at him, his eyes red, his mouth curled. "Shut up, Sammy. You're a goddamn black magic inquisitor and I am an undead fucking minion of the Lord. Lord with a big fucking capital L."
Sam chews on his lower lip, in that way of his in that fucking sinful way of his. "If that's how things are meant to be," he says.
Sam had always believed in angels.
"Oh my God, Sam," Dean mutters. He's withering with disbelief. "Oh my God. Can you hear yourself?"
Sam sets down his bottle, sitting up and staring at Dean. "Dean, I think you were lying when you said you couldn't remember Hell."
Dean shudders. "I can't. Not... not all at once. I get flashes of it, sensations, thoughts. Sometimes... just enough of their faces to make me want to scream. And... I woke up buried. I woke up underground, a broken toy in its crypt. I was terrified."
Sam winces, holds out his hands palm up, in shrugging supplication. He knows what Dean wants. He knows that Dean wants them to pick the fight up again; his fight this time. It's only right after what Dean lost for him. Sam shrinks from that, like he's always shrunk from it. It's not college this time, but he's still running.
"Dean... it's been a hard time, but I've been fighting the good fight here. Whatever this is, it's bigger than one yellow-eyed demon. I need these things on my level. I can't be pushing to the outer planes like this. I won't just lose my eyes, Dean, I'll fall into concert with them and be crazier than you are now!"
Castiel's voice... it makes his vision shake, it makes him want to puke, makes his ears bleed. That grey angel smile... those eyes.
Dean swallows, haggard. "It feels like I'm wearing my own skin as a suit," he confesses. "Like I've changed on the inside, but I'm still trapped in the body from before I went to Hell, before I experienced so much pain."
Sam touches his brother's throat, gently. His palms are sweaty. "Don't... look a gift horse in the mouth, Dean. This is your get out of jail free card, now we have to keep fighting here."
"Fighting what?" Dean wonders, voice tightening. "Fighting demons? Sometimes in my sleep I see them torturing a woman, she has these bright bright blue earrings. None of the succubus take them from her, none of the demons rip them out of her pretty little ears when they're raping her--"
"Dean! Stop!" Sam interrupts suddenly. Breathing heavily, mouth pinched in pain. Mortals do not survive Hell without pain, Sam reads it in Dean's aura with every word he recites. "God... fuck... there's so many things you can learn from living those nightmares, but they'll destroy you. Leave them buried."
"Vengeful..." Dean sighs, cradling his forehead in his hands. "Every one of those demons that tortured me... an eye for an eye. I think it's God who teaches us that, right?"
Sam swallows hard. He remembers the isolation he'd felt with Ruby. Just him and her, lost in the stream of magic, fighting against the flood of demons. Now there's this: family and obligation all over again.
"It's not like I'm a superhero, Dean," Sam whispers, stroking his brother's hair. "I may be--"
Your brother, I may have once had power, but I'm hiding it from you now. You'll use me up, the way Dad used you up.
Dean... he's hidden nothing from Dean. "You're demon-kind," Dean snaps. "We both know it, but now... I'm at least branded by them, tainted. It's like we're tied to difference sides of the same splintery crucifix."
He's is trembling now. He's mad with the idea of it, of ripping the feathers from angels, whispering acid words to the spirits of evil, watching them writhe and shrink beneath the Lord's name.
Sam makes his excuses, the infallible ones. He says, "I can't do this with you, Dean. I... he didn't choose me. I will help you as much as I can, but... you're alone on this one."
Dean breathes in shakily. "Fields and flowers and honey and grass, clouds and swans and reeds and glass... They sing like that sometimes, when one of the bigger demons gets bored and just leaves a couple minions behind. Like torturing you is a chore but they're still gonna do it, just for you. These swaying, frothing, mumbling rhymers--"
"Dean! Stop!" Sam's eyes are wide, wet with tears. "I'm sorry I didn't save you. I couldn't. And that's why I can't help you now. You're asking for more than I can give. I thought you were dead. I thought you were never coming back and that it was all my fault, that if I couldn't save you I had to take out as many of those sons of bitches in this world as possible, in your damn name. I thought you were dead but you've come back dead. You're right, you're like some broken doll of my brother, wearing his skin, his mannerisms."
Sam's chest is heaving. "And the only way I'm going to get my brother back is if God lets his soul be at peace, but there's a price for that. It's called devotion, except you don't have a choice about it. You resist and you're gonna end up right back in Hell. Only this time it'll be pure white all the time. Castiel will be whispering in your ear, all the time. Your soul will writhe and and scream until your mind is ripped to pieces. I am not doing it, I'm not going to go through it again, because this time you're fucked. This time no one will be able to save you. You can't save people from angels! They are the saviors!"
Sam is shouting by the end and Dean nods. He knew it all, but he couldn't help it, couldn't help but fight, railing and screaming against the lack of choice.
"He's got a beautiful smile," he whispers.
"Who?" Sam wonders, his throat tight.
"Castiel... he's so pure... so sycophantically gentle."
Sam gets up, pulling on clothes in hurried jerks. This is how Dean has changed.
"What do the angels sing about, Dean?" Sam wonders. He's got one foot out the door already.
Dean comes back to life, snapping out of his reverie.
"They sing about slaying demons," he mumbles. "I could hear it coming from the back of Castiel's throat."
Sam feels betrayed. Castiel has touched deeper inside his brother than he ever has and Castiel has broken him.
"Do what they want and come back to me, Dean," he begs quietly.
"It's just like jury duty," Dean comments, sinking back onto the bed, palms up, eyes wide, focused on the ceiling but not really seeing.
Then Sam is gone. Like a demon whore he paid for for the night.
"Just... like... jury duty."
Dean closes his eyes, reliving the faces of torment and singing their songs, "Jumping Jill and Jumping Jack run along the railroad tracks, followed along gallows hill and jumped into the grinding mill."
The arias of Hallelujah buzz insistently in his teeth like a migraine.
"Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so on earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
(slay them, slay them all and rend their evil from their bones, their temptation from their dying screams, amen.)