20

Set Me Free

Casting Crowns

4 Months Later…

It hasn't always been this way

Darkness. Fire. Agony. Alastair. My life. My afterlife. Hope had faded long ago, now it was just a dim light in the pit of my heart. Hope didn't help you down here. Hope didn't get the chains that held you tight to loosen. Hope didn't make the fires less hot, Alastair less sadistic, the darkness brighter. The light at the end of this tunnel was Hellfire. Endless Hellfire.

I managed to scream day in and day out. I managed still to beg and plead. I managed still to refuse him. But there was no way I could last another hundred and twenty years.

I still scream their names.

I remember brighter days

I don't really remember who they are. I can't remember any other world that might have existed somewhere. I did once. It was gone now. It was as real as Neverland.

Darkness, evil, horrors, fire, agony, Alastair, those things are real. Love, comfort, peace, light, beauty, Sam…myths.

Before the dark ones came, stole my mind wrapped my soul in chains

I have no hope. No faith. No beliefs. The nails that are being driven through my skin right now, I believe in them.

"C'mon, Dean," The demon's horrible face leers so close to mine. "One little word. It starts with a Y. So easy to say, c'mon." Somewhere I find the strength to say no. Another nail.

Now I live among the dead

Others are enduring this eternity but I can't see them. My corner is too dark, too hot, too painful for me to see anything beyond a few feet. My corner is reserved for those who are to be put through the worse amount of torture. I hear Judas was here once.

"One word, one word, one word…"

I wish I could give Alastair what he wanted. At least part of me did. But the other part fought. Fought for a beautiful face whose name was lost to me. And that part was stronger.

Fighting voices in my head

Alastair dragged the knife up my spine, splitting it open. Blood fell past my lips as I screamed.

"SAAAA-AAAAMM!" He was important. Very important. I wished I remembered why.

"He can't help you, Dean! Nothing can!" I couldn't move. Nothing below my neck would listen to me. But my voice seemed to work fine.

"HEEELP MEEE!" I shrieked.

"No one can hear you!" Alastair cackled.

That's when I saw it. The light. The light that made demons cower. My light. Alastair looked at it in disbelief. It was getting closer. Alastair tried to stand there and face it, tried to bear the light. But when it was close enough to make me turn my head he ran from it, just like all the others did.

I felt Castiel's hand wrap around my shoulder and pull. The chains came off, the pain almost stopped. I almost didn't believe it was real. I looked at the spot I had been moments ago, wondering if I would wake up and be there seconds from now.

"You are free, Dean." The voice came from the light, and I had to believe it.

Hoping someone hears me crying in the night

I was leaving this place, forever. I wouldn't be back here. The angel's hand burned worse than any fire I had felt down here, but it would be over soon.

Suddenly I was gasping inside a closed, dark space. I sobbed, breath heaving and shaking. It was over. It was all over. I was out of Hell.

And carries me away

I felt the roof of my coffin, finding where I could punch through. These bastards just wouldn't give me a break. I drew my fist back and struck as hard as I could. Once, twice, then I couldn't breathe.

I pushed myself through, trying not to swallow dirt, making sure I didn't try to breathe. After forever my hand struck air. Both of my arms, reaching at a sky I couldn't see. My lungs were about to cave in from lack of air. That's when I felt someone grab my hand. My knee jerk reaction was to pull away, but the person wouldn't let me. They pulled, helping me. My face broke through, eyes closed against the bright sunlight. The person still pulled, holding my back that had been split open minutes ago. Finally my whole body was out. I collapsed in the grass, filling my lungs with that sweet oxygen. I allowed my eyes to try and open. I wanted to see the sky. I almost laughed when I saw it was still blue.

Set me free

"Dean." A voice said. My head turned, muscles tense, ready to run.

"Cas?" I tried to say. My throat was so dry I started coughing.

"Are you alright?" He asked. I nodded.

"Much better…now…" I croaked. He nodded.

"Do you want me to take you to Lauren?" He asked.

"Lauren." I whispered. It all rushed back. That beautiful face had a name. A name I loved. I nodded. Castiel touched my forehead.

When I opened my eyes I was standing in front of a motel.

Of the chains holding me

My legs wobbled slightly, threatening to give out from under me. I steadied myself on the trunk of a car. The gleam of it caught my eye.

I broke into a grin.

"Hey, Baby," I said, running my hand over the roof and down to the hood. "Ya miss me?" I couldn't stop smiling at this car. Didn't realize how much I missed her 'til I saw her. God, she's beautiful. But not as beautiful as the woman inside the room in front of me. And Sam. Sammy, my little brother. He's not a monster anymore, and he never will be. Cas promised. I walked toward the door, hesitantly. There was no delicate way to do this, no way to ease them into seeing me again.

I stared at the door, wondering what I should do. Then I heard her voice.

"Sam!" No, no, Cas promised he wouldn't be…He can't be trying to hurt her, he can't! I wrenched the knob and shoved the door open.

Is anybody out there hearing me?

It took a moment to register what I was seeing. And once I understood, my heart ripped itself in half.

Sam was kissing her feverishly, hands clenching her waist. Her shirt was gone. So was his. She was kissing him back, fingers tangled in his hair.

Tears filled my eyes and the pain in my chest intensified. My lower lip trembled, my breath coming in short gasps.

They must have sensed I was there. Lauren turned her head and looked at me. Sam stopped kissing her neck and looked up.

Set me free

Her eyes grew, jaw dropped, face pale. I was looking between the two of them, hardly able to comprehend what I was seeing.

"Dean?" She said. I looked at her, legs shaking again. Sam was looking from Lauren to me, trying to form words but failing each time.

I shook my head, the movement small and feeble. It was getting harder and harder to hold the sobs back. I squeezed my eyes shut as the first tear started to slip away. I walked away from them, leaving that horrible scene behind me.

I staggered past rooms, not knowing where I was going.

Morning breaks another day

I finally collapsed in the alley behind the building, unable to contain the sobs that were now bursting from my chest. I leaned my head against the brick, shutting my eyes.

"Dean there will be a consequence for this. There has to be a balance." That's what Cas had said. Is that honestly a balance? Keeping my family safe, my little brother from going psycho, and the punishment for that is seeing them…them…

My sobs made my whole body shudder and tremble, wishing the sky was as dark and pained as I felt.

Finds me crying in the rain

I heard footsteps coming in my direction. A subconscious part of my mind told me to run. They were coming to hurt me again. With their knives and chains and tools I couldn't name. I hugged my knees to me and buried my face in them, curling into a ball, tears soaking my jeans.

The steps stopped in front of me and someone knelt down. I wasn't sure if I should be scared or not. I wished I could get those images out of my head.

All alone with my demons I am

"Dean," A broken voice said. "Dean, I…I am so sorry, Baby." I looked up at her, tears still streaming in rivers down my cheeks. She looked at me, waited. Her shirt was back on.

I think she expected me to be mad. I think she wanted me to be mad. But I wasn't.

I kissed her instead, trying not to remember who had just touched these lips before me.

"I'm not mad," I choked once I broke away from her. "I still love you. I don't blame you…I don't blame him. I still love you."

"Dean, I'm so sorry." She whispered. No, no she can't be crying too. I can't hurt her! I shook my head.

"I forgive you, I forgive you," I gulped. I couldn't stop crying. I wasn't strong enough. "But it hurts. It hurts so much!" She bit her lip and hugged me as I sobbed uncontrollably in her arms. After forty more years in that place of crying for relief this is what I got. More anguish, more pain. But this hurt my heart, not my body. It was worse.

Sam came up behind her, tears in his own eyes, his face twitching as he tried to stop himself from crying.

Who is this man that comes my way?

"Dean," He whispered. Lauren let me go. I looked up at him, wondering if I should try and stand up. But there was no joy or disgust this time as he looked at me in my weakened state. This time there was pain and pity. Nevertheless I stood up on shaking knees. "Dean, I…It didn't mean…God, I'm sorry."

"It's okay, Sammy." I couldn't stop fucking crying! He hugged me too, holding me tight, like he never wanted to let go of me again.

The dark ones shriek, they scream his name

I cried into his neck, thanking whoever was listening for keeping my little brother like this. I knew what he had gone through after I died. He told me what happened. He told me how it felt and I understood now. I could see it in his eyes. I could feel it right now as he hugged me.

This was what I expected to find when I got out. A little brother that missed me. One that was slightly lost and had been found suddenly. Sammy.

Is this the one they say will set the captives free?

Jesus rescue me

I pulled away from him, looking into those bleary eyes of his.

"You go call Maggie, right now." I said, trying to give a reassuring smile. He nodded, smiling back. He walked away, pulling his phone out of his pocket.

I turned back to Lauren. She stood there, looking at me. She was too far away.

"Baby come here, please." I said softly. I felt her warm arms embrace me again, kissing my face, touching my arms and my chest.

Set me free of the chains holding me

I kissed her back, holding her to me, breathing her in. God, I loved her so much. She held my face in her hands, wiping tears from my cheeks, looking in my eyes.

"Dean, your eyes." She whispered. What did she mean? Were they black? What did she mean?!

"What?" I said.

"Your eyes, you look so old," She said, her brow creased with either worry or pain. "How long were you down there?"

"'S forty years there." I gulped. She winced suddenly, touching her forehead.

"Then why am I getting a hundred and sixty?" She asked. I shut my eyes, damning that stupid angel.

"Stop it, Cas." I whispered.

"Is that true?" She asked frantically.

"Yes." I nodded.

Is anybody out there hearing me?

Set me free

"How? Dean, how were you there that long?!" She asked. I shook my head.

"Please, Baby, don't ask. I can't tell you." I said in a broken voice. She was holding me again, kissing my neck. My forehead rested on her shoulder, pushing the shadowed memories away as they threatened to overwhelm me.

I wanted to rest. All I wanted to do was rest. I was so tired.

As the God man passes by

I held her tightly, vowing to never let go. She kissed my cheek, gently rubbing the back of my head and neck.

I had forgotten that such a touch existed. I had forgotten that something like that could make the pain go away. I forgotten what love was.

He looks straight through my eyes

My eyes felt heavy with exhaustion and swollen with tears. My body was ready to collapse then and there. She must've sensed it.

"Baby, come with me, okay?" She said. She took my calloused hand in hers, leading me away from the dark place. I looked down at my bloodied knuckles, unable to believe I had used them to push my way out of my own grave. Before I knew it we were in a room. Sam was on his phone outside, talking in a cracked voice, saying he was sorry over and over again. I could almost bet Maggie had forgiven him already.

And darkness cannot hide

I sat on the bed, staring at the stained carpet, staring at nothing. A glass was pressed into my hand. I looked down at the water and drained it quickly. It was taken from my hand by the same one that had put it there.

She sat next to me, taking my hands again.

"You need to rest, Baby." She said. I nodded.

"Shower." I said, standing. She nodded. I walked into the bathroom, gently shutting the door behind me.
It was the first time I had seen myself in awhile. My face was pale, ashen. I was skinnier than I had been. My face was slightly gaunt. And my eyes, my eyes looked haunted, dark, helpless. I looked away, peeling my shirt over my head, wincing when the fabric scraped over Castiel's handprint. All other scars were gone.

The water washed over me, washed the darkness way. Washed the stench of Hell away from me.

Do you wanna be free?

I stepped out, my skin red from the immense heat I put on it. I wanted all remnants of that place gone. But it was in my head forever. It had seeped through the lines so deep nothing could ever get it out. But I could try. I toweled off and put on the clothes that had "magically" appeared on the counter.

I stumbled out, my legs still not wanting to listen to me.

I sat on the bed again. Her hands touched my face, kissing me softly.

"Rest." She said. I nodded and lied down, my head resting on her stomach. She draped the blanket over the both of us, running her fingers through my hair.

Lift your chains I hold the key

All the power of Heaven and Earth belongs to me

"It's over, Baby," She soothed. "It's all over. You're not going back there."

I slept. I had nightmares. Awful nightmares that made me scream bloody murder and scare her.

Loud noises made me jump, darkness tremble, knives scream.

You are free

I had left Hell, but Hell would not leave me.

You are free

It would go away, or at least die down after awhile.

But even though I had gotten away, even though I was allowed to see the ones I loved again, I was not free of it. Not when I dreamt of those shackles and that demon's face so vividly night after night. No matter how many times she kissed me and told me it was alright, no matter how tightly she held me I would not be free. Even Bobby didn't know a way to help me.

I was out, I was away, but I would never be free.

You are free

THE

END

--That's right boys and girls it's done! That is the FINAL chapter of Lauren, Maggie and Kris's run. My series is definitely over. Thanks toeveryone that followed this from the beginning and picked up on it after the official end! God bless u all and thank you!--