Bawww, poor Dean. I feel so bad for him. Hell can't be fun. Although...it is pretty fun to write about. Er, major spoilers through 4.10 Heaven and Hell. And a metric shit-ton of graphic nastiness. And hella dark stuff. You are forewarned, darlings.

--

Send Lazarus to My Father's House

(four months in hell)

--

He doesn't remember getting here, doesn't remember anything but heat and dark and suffocation. Then the blinding pain of metal going through flesh and muscle and bone, and the weight of his own body making the hooks rip out of his skin.

He spends four days alone, screaming for a god he never believed in before this, suspended above endless nothing below endless nothing. He feels blood run in slick droplets to the small of his back, pooling, dripping away. A few seconds later they land on his stomach again, returned to him.

On the fifth day a wire jiggles, like there's something on it, far beyond his range of vision. He can feel the vibrations through his humerus to his spine, and he shuts up.

From then on, a wire moves occasionally, twitches like something's moving across it. Never the same one twice, and never for long.

It's a spider, his mind says, a frantic tinge to the thought that makes the muscles in his back spasm in panic. A spider coming for a fly. So he lies still as he can, not moving except for the shivering, even as the meat hooks slide deeper into his flesh.

Doesn't matter in the end, though. The spider comes anyway.

--

"Fuck you," he says every day. "Fuck you and die."

Alastair just chuckles and lets the demons go back to stripping his bones clean.

Your father lasted three days, Alastair smiles. Three days and he begged us for someone to flay alive. Would've done it to you if we'd asked.

"Fuck you," he says.

See that man over there, Dean? Alastair says sometimes. When he was alive, he raped and killed eight little boys. Left their bodies in dumpsters all around Philly. All we want you to do is give him what he's got coming.

"Fuck you" is all he says.

The days turn into months, the months into years. Sometimes they draw pictures in his skin with knives. Sometimes they eat pieces of him raw. Sometimes they tilt his head back and stick a length of metal down his throat, notching how far they get it in before they rupture something in his guts.

Every day, at the changing of the shifts (it never stops, no, not for him—he just gets new torturers every so often), Alastair comes to him with the same offer.

Every day he tells them all to fuck off, but now every day he starts wondering why.

--

Dean, Alastair whispers, sliding a hand up his throat until a single nail gouges the skin under his chin. I know you want to come off of that rack. Everybody wants to come off of that rack.

"Fuck you," he says, but there's no venom in it. He doesn't think he remembers what it's like to not be exhausted, to not be in pain. He feels old.

Dean, Alastair whispers again, fingers pressing into the back of his neck, pinching the muscles there until he can't see straight. Dean, how do you think your father got out of hell? Do you think he somehow broke free of his restraints?

He's been trying to break these restraints for twenty-nine years now, since the spider scraping the skin off his scalp found him in its web and brought him down to these racks. And, after that long, he knows it's impossible. "Oh," he says, and whatever was left of his heart flares brightly once and goes cold like a doused coal.

Oh, Alastair mocks him before reaching into his mouth and pulling out his tongue whole.

--

Oh, darling, he says, smooth and sweet like he's picking someone up in a bar. Oh, sweetheart, don't you wanna come off that rack? Don't you wanna get comfortable again?

"Fuck you," she whispers, her voice an echo of something he doesn't quite remember now.

If you insist is his response and help him if he doesn't love to hear her scream. It hurts, he makes sure it does, and she shrieks like a little girl. And when she doesn't scream any more he takes one of her small white hands (only it's red now, red with her blood and red with his, where she'd clawed at him, trying to get him out, get him off, begging for god to make him stop) and he starts to bite. He can feel the delicate bones of her fingers shatter as he grinds his teeth together, and then she starts screaming again.

--

It's not comfortable, not by any means. He still hates this place, still wants to be anywhere else. He'd do anything to be anywhere else. But now? Now he's not the one strapped down.

Say what you will of morals—that's an improvement.

--

He's slicing thin strips from a man's chest and making him eat them when he hears the commotion. It's a shrieking, like a million voices rising as one, and he sees light descending. It's the sort of light that makes him screw together his eyelids and hide his face. But it's getting brighter and closer and the single voice of rage and terror rising from all sides around him intensifies until he's shrieking too.

Then there's pain, a horrible flashing burning pain in his shoulder, and his screech turns into a snarl as he tries to fight back. He swore he'd never feel pain again, never, and it hurts oh god it hurts.

There is no fighting. There is only immobility as he is held fast, pinned to the side of the rack as he listens to the man strapped to it gag on wet little bleating sobs of pain. And he hears a voice, a voice that makes every nerve in him ring, buzz with a horrible painful static energy.

Vile little thing, the voice says. I wonder how long you lasted.

And then he's going up and up and up until he can't breathe any more.

--

He wakes up in a dark box a few feet underground, crawls out to see everything taller than three feet flattened.

He knows it's not hell because he feels like his whole body's wrapped in gauze, soft and safe and healed.

That wasn't me, some small voice says as he walks along a dust road, tasting dry earth on the roof of his mouth. That wasn't me.

And the longer he's topside, the more he believes it. He chooses to forget peeling the skin back from a teenage boy's face, leaving nothing but wet and glistening muscle behind. He chooses to forget popping a woman's eyeball out with his thumb, crunching it until the juices flowed down his chin while she watched with her good one. He chooses to forget the countless people whose bodies he'd defiled in every horrible, painful, crushing way he could imagine.

He's always been good at repressing. By the time he finds Sam, he's starting to see people as people and not as playthings anymore. By the time they go on their first case after he gets back, he can smile at a waitress without imagining her intestines all over the floor. By the time they meet Anna, he can look at Castiel and almost forget vile little thing.

Almost.

Because when he fucks her, trying so hard to be gentle, it's all he can do not to crush the bones in those thin white fingers between his teeth. Angel, huh? He wants to hear her squeal.

Never going back, the voice in his head says. Never.