Title: Righteous Dollar Bills
Rating: R for scenes of torture
Genre: Gen; Dean, Castiel, Alistair
Summary: When Castiel woke on Dean Winchester rack to find a green-eyed boy staring at him, he realized his mission was far from over.
A/N: I guess this is me throwing my hat into the "Dean tortured Cas in Hell" ring. Yay? Title is from "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" by Cage the Elephant. Awesome song. I totally recommend it.
Disclaimer: I don't own the show or the characters, and no money is being made. Sad day.
Dean Winchester was special. He had selflessly sacrificed his own life for his brother's, had held out for thirty years through tortures unimaginable to humans, and had started the dominoes of the Apocalypse falling.
Dean was special, and that made Alistair special, he supposed. After all, the hunter had been given to him specifically. He was good at his job, and he'd finally made Dean break. The only thing left to do was add insult to injury.
There was just one problem. Dean Winchester was still Dean Winchester.
Alistair knew the prophecy like the back of Dean's hand, the letters and words forming veins and tendons that were so easily picked apart and put back together. He knew that the righteous man to stop it was the only one that could end it. He wanted to use that against them.
He was going to turn their precious savior into the very thing that they hated so vehemently. He was going to make Dean a demon.
He just had to figure out how.
Alistair had known it wouldn't be easy, but he'd never imagined it would be this hard. Thirty years alone just to make the man break, and then he'd heard the gates of Hell crash open, the echoes of fights that were still a long way off in his chamber. The cavalry had arrived for Dean, and time was short.
Originally, he'd thought that simple torture would be enough. Humans were just well-trained animals, after all. Push the right buttons, and they would revert. And Dean had. He'd sliced and carved and scratched and bitten. Once the pain was gone, though, he'd stopped. He'd realized that he was truly off the rack forever, and his frantic motions lost their zeal.
That was when Alistair had changed his game plan. He'd put truly horrible people in front of his charge and explained their crimes in great detail. He chose Dean's victims carefully, being sure to pick out the ones that would anger the man most. An arsonist. A child abuser. A rapist. A pedophile. A serial killer.
Nothing seemed to work, though. Dean carved and sliced, but he didn't scratch and bite. He didn't enjoy it. And actually finding the fun in it was what got the ball rolling.
So he offered a reward. If Dean tortured ten souls, he could see his brother.
That had actually been counter-productive, as Dean had apparently forgotten about the wonders of television and advanced cameras. He refused to let Sam wallow in the blood and smoke of the Pit. He'd become even more resistant.
Threats were next, of course. Torture souls or be tortured again. Dean wasn't as good as his teacher, and Alistair couldn't stand to listen to his whimpered apologies to the damned any longer. The demon was getting bored and antsy.
He spent his time standing at the end of the rack, sometimes watching Dean blubber and whine, most times watching shadows play across the bloodstained walls. He thought. He wondered. He pondered how best to turn Dean into the thing he had hunted.
And then the woman under the hunter's hands screamed - really screamed - for the first time since Dean had started. Alistair turned toward the man, leaning over to inspect his work.
Dean had been careless, hadn't been paying attention, and had broken off a scalpel in her sternum. He was working fast, trying to lodge the blade from its place, using other instruments, jiggling the scalpel, and making the woman hurt.
Alistair stopped him with a hand on his arm. Dean tensed, turning wide eyes that were too, too green up at him. "I'm sorry."
"Why would you be sorry?" the demon drawled. "That was good."
Dean blinked. "Yeah?"
The hunter turned back to the woman and turned his attention from the blade lodged in her chest to the bone that surrounded it. He began carving, shaving thin strips of bone away from muscle and skin. The woman screamed.
"Is this good?" Dean asked, genuine longing in his voice.
"Yes, very good."
Dean's face lit up like the blood-red walls had the day that Hell had fallen under siege from Above.
Alistair got an idea.
Castiel awoke to the distant sound of screams. He wasn't dead. That, more than anything, is what surprised him. He'd been jumped, he remembered, by a demon with lily-white eyes and a hissing voice.
The angel tried to move, but found himself bound. Wrists and ankles cuffed by burning metal, wings splayed and pinned out like a butterfly on display.
Footsteps approached and Castiel turned to his captor. It was the demon, smirking wide and looking down at the floor. "It's a gift," the damned thing said softly, leaning down to rest his hand on something that Castiel couldn't see from the elevated table.
The angel shuddered. That voice was too small, too innocent to belong to anything in the Pit. It was disturbing.
"Because," the demon replied, voice thick and sweet, "you earned it. This is what you wanted your whole life. What you prayed for." The voice dropped to a whisper. "You're finally good enough, Dean." He straightened up and grinned at the angel. "He's all yours, son."
The demon turned on his heels and left Castiel alone with something that he couldn't see. Tiny footfalls echoed across the floor, and something jumped up onto the rack. The angel looked down at his feet to see a child kneeling between his legs, looking up at him with curiosity and awe in his darkening green eyes.
"You're an angel," the child whispered.
"I am Castiel."
The boy, who looked to be about seven or eight years old, smiled. "My name's Dean."
Castiel gasped. "Dean Winchester?"
The child cocked his head to one side, confused. "You know me?"
"Of course I do."
"Daddy was right, then."
Dean nodded. "Daddy. He taught me how to do things right, and he takes care of me and he tells me when I do good." The boy began to crawl, working his way slowly up the rack until the was nose-to-nose with Castiel. "He gave me you 'cause I was so good."
The angel shook his head. "Alistair is not your father, and I have come to save you from this place."
Dean frowned. "Daddy doesn't lie to me."
"He is not your father."
The boy's frown deepened and he crawled over Castiel's chest, reaching for a small table that sat next to the rack. "You're lying," Dean growled, tiny voice still so seemingly out of place in Hell. "Daddy and me don't like liars." He plunged the knife he'd taken from the table straight into Castiel's heart and the angel's world faded to black.
When Castiel came to, the universe was alight with pain. Dean was bent over him, blond hair sticking to his sweaty, freckled face as he worked.
"Why are you doing this?" Castiel asked.
"You're mine," Dean replied. "You're mine, and daddy doesn't lie, and you're here 'cause I'm finally good." He took a wicked-looking blade from the table. "No more lies," he said, drawing the blade slowly across Castiel's throat, cutting straight through to his spine. "No more lies."
Time was different in Hell than in Heaven. It ran much slower, the days dragging on at an agonizing pace, drawing out the torture. At the end of each day, Castiel would heal, the natural process given by his Father slowed by distance and location.
Immediately after the pale skin of his throat knitted itself back together, Dean would cut it open, silencing his screams.
It went on like that for weeks, blood bubbling out from the thin line on his skin, his voice useless, Dean taking great care in his work.
"I'll make you beautiful," the boy would say. "And you'll like it here. And you won't be so scary and bright anymore. You'll be just like me, and we can have fun and play together."
Dean would say, "won't that be fun?" and cut out the angel's tongue.
He would say, "we'll be best friends," and slice the skin from his hands one layer at a time.
"I won't ever be alone here. Daddy promised." And Castiel had never wondered what it would feel like to be mummified, to have a sharp, hot poker stuck up his nose and roughly jerked around until his brain was leaking from his eyes and ears and nose. He'd never wondered what it would feel like, but Dean showed him.
The angel had lost track of time, so he didn't know how long it took Dean to trust him enough to leave his throat intact. He wasn't sure he wanted to know.
"You wanna hear a story?" Dean asked. The boy was draped across his stomach, fingers threading idly through the feathers spread out on either side of him. He liked touching Castiel's wings. Liked sullying them with blood. He would rub his face over the soft feathers before plucking a few and marveling at the way they bled before growing back.
"I would like that very much."
A wide smile spread across Dean's face. He stroked the wing slowly, small fingers curling around a handful of feathers and yanking hard. He dropped all but two onto the floor and scurried down to the end of the rack and Castiel's feet.
He took one feather in each hand and began to speak. "When I was little, I asked my mommy why we said prayers."
"To give thanks to God for His goodness," Castiel offered.
Dean stabbed the strong quills of the feathers into the angel's shins. "Wrong," he growled as Castiel whimpered. He pulled himself up next to the feathers. "She said we had to be thankful, but we also did it to ask for stuff. And if I was a good boy, I'd get what I prayed for." He ripped the feathers from the angel's skin. "She died that night." The quills slammed into and through his kneecaps. "Where were you?"
Castiel panted for breath, each gasp bringing more Hell-stench into his lungs, into his very being. "We were not allowed to interfere."
"She said you were watching over me," Dean said, twisting the near-indestructible feathers round and round in the angel's bones. "So I prayed. When we kept moving and changing schools, I prayed. When no one liked me, I prayed. When I didn't have any friends, I prayed." He pulled the feathers free, only to stab them into Castiel's thighs, pulling himself up farther onto the rack by using them as leverage. "And I never got it."
The angel moaned, leaning his head back and closing his eyes. It hurt. It hurt so much. Pinpricks of pain in his body, steadily spreading agony, and a little voice so full of evil and hate that it hurt.
Dean pulled the feathers free, this time burying them into the hollows of Castiel's hips. "I wasn't good enough for your God." Out, and into his stomach, stabbing through organs and tissue and sensitive skin. "I wasn't good enough for any of you."
Between his ribs, scraping bone on the way in, stinging. "Even when I saved Sam, it wasn't enough. I let myself die for something so much better, and you still didn't come."
They were ripped out at an angle now, cutting bone and organs. Pain flared within his chest as the feathers were both shoved into his heart and Dean again used them as leverage to scoot up the angel's prone body. "But then I came here. I came here and I screamed and I begged and I prayed." Out. "And where were you?"
The quills sank deep into Castiel's throat. Dean's breath was warm on his bleeding neck. "I took care of myself for once and I did what Daddy wanted. I tortured bad people and he told me I was good." He pulled the feathers out again and licked the blood away. He pulled himself farther up Castiel's body, until they were literally nose-to-nose. "Do you know what I prayed for, Cas?"
"What?" the angel managed to choke out.
"An angel. Mommy said they were watching over me, and I thought they might come. See, I was so lonely, and we moved everywhere and I couldn't make friends. I thought an angel could come with us and keep me safe and help me take care of Sammy. I thought an angel would like me." He smiled, the illusion of innocence it created shattered by the blood ringing his lips.
"I like you," Castiel wheezed. "I came to keep you safe. To take you away. I'll help you with Sam."
Dean stared at him, smile widening. "You have pretty eyes."
Castiel screamed as the quills of his own feathers were driven into his eyes, blinding him for the rest of the day.
When Castiel had arrived in Dean's chamber, the boy's eyes had been green. The pupils were still of normal size. Black had started to bleed into the whites, but Castiel had foolishly believed he could save the man that looked like a child.
The day ended, and the angel's eyes were returned to him. The first things he saw were two rings of green in twin seas of black. Dean was turning.
"Why are you a child?"
Dean blinked. He was sitting cross-legged on Castiel's chest, staring down at the angel. "Why do you care?"
"You were an adult when you arrived, were you not?"
The boy shrugged. "Yeah. So?"
"I want to know why you changed."
Dean looked around the chamber, at the blood on the walls, the dusting of bright feathers on the floor. "I dunno."
"Surely, there must be a reason."
"It's easier for Daddy to take care of me now."
Castiel nodded. "I see. And that's it?"
The boy turned back to him. "I was never good enough before. Now I am. And Daddy lets me do stuff that John wouldn't. Like go to the park and eat ice cream and stuff."
The angel tilted his head to the side. "Those things are possible here?"
"Well, no. But I dream. And when I dream, sometimes we do that stuff. He's so proud of me in 'em. And I told him once, in real life, about them. He said that when Lilith gives the word, he'll break out, and he'll take me with. He'll find me a kid, and he'll pick a grown-up, and we'll go to the park and eat ice cream, and when we're done, I can have whatever I want, 'cause Lilith owes me. Isn't that cool?"
"It's very cool, Dean."
The boy nodded and slid off Castiel's chest. He crawled to the edge of the rack and undid the manacle that held the angel's hand to the swollen and warped wood. He grabbed Castiel's wrist and pulled it with him as he scooted back toward his captive's body. Long-sleeping muscles and tendons protested, but there was little he could do for them. "What are you doing, Dean?"
"Daddy left today," Dean whispered, curling his small body up against Castiel's and wrapping the arm around his slim shoulders. "He didn't take me. He said he was going to scout, but… what if I'm not good enough anymore?"
Castiel sighed and tightened his arm around the boy's shoulders, pulling him closer. "You're good enough for me."
Dean made a low noise in the back of his throat, curled even closer, and closed his eyes. He spent the day sleeping in Castiel's embrace. Despite the blood and screams that surrounded them, it looked precious. It looked like hope.
"You're my friend," Dean declared. He was lying on his back next to Castiel, the angel's free hand in his small fingers, breaking and rearranging bones through the skin. "I like you." He turned his attention from the lump of flesh that had once been a hand and looked at the angel, smiling. "You'll stay?"
"I'll stay as long as you need me to, Dean."
The smile widened, and Castiel grinned through his own pain. There was a small, feathered ring of white surrounding Dean's irises.
Dean liked playing This Little Piggy. When the piggies went to market or ran home, they actually left. The boy had created a pile of toes beneath the rack that almost reached the wood.
Castiel just smiled. Smiled ad told the boy that it was hilarious. A fun game thy played. Just the two of them.
He asked if Alistair had played it, too, and Dean said no. Daddy hadn't been that much fun when Dean was in the angel's place. He hadn't played games. He'd just hurt.
Castiel told him that was too bad. He asked if Dean wanted to play a different game. Dean just looked down at his own feet and asked if his piggies could go to the market. He spun himself on the rack and pointed his tiny toes toward the angel, who took each gingerly in his free hand.
"This little piggy left Heaven. And this little piggy was damned. This little piggy had entrails, and this little piggy took them. And this little piggy," he took Dean's littlest toe in his fingers and wiggled it lightly, "cried no no no no all the way down."
Dean giggled, taking pleasure in the perverse version of the rhyme he'd concocted especially for Castiel. He wiggled his toes and looked up at Castiel, the black slowly bleeding out of his eyes. "That didn't hurt."
"I would never hurt you."
The boy spun himself until he was curled back in the space between the angel's arm and his body. "You're different. I think I like you."
Castiel chose to count it as a victory.
When white and green had won the majority of Dean's eyes, Castiel made his move. He knew it was risky, but he needed to get Dean out of Hell. The sake of the world depended upon his success.
He rubbed his hand up and down Dean's back, rousing the boy from a light slumber. "Dean, wake up."
He blinked and looked up, eyes bright and shining with the possibility of salvation. "What?"
"Do you trust me?"
Dean nodded. "Yeah, I guess. Why?"
"I need you to let me go."
Fear flashed across the boy's face. "You wanna leave?"
"I want to take you with me."
"But Daddy said-"
"Where is he, Dean? Where did your daddy go? He left and he didn't come back."
"Like you're gonna."
"No." He sighed. "Dean, he left you all alone down here. I would never do that. I'm your friend, remember?"
"You're really gonna take me with?"
"Of course I am."
"And you'll take care of me?"
"And we can go to the park, and get ice cream?"
Castiel nodded. "Yes."
It may not have been true. They wouldn't have time to do the things Dean wanted while trying to stop the Apocalypse, and it wasn't Castiel's job to perch on his shoulder. But he had to get out, had to save Dean. So he made false promises, and the boy believed him.
The manacles were undone and the chains fell to the floor. His wings were released, and Castiel slid from the rack, body dropping bonelessly to the floor.
Dean was at his side in an instant, curled up against him, burying his face in the angel's chest. He was so broken, so young, so impressionable. Hardly the warrior that Heaven needed.
He would fix that. He would fix it like he would fix Dean's body. Mend his soul as best he could and try to wipe the unnecessary memories from the man's mind.
He stood, scooping the boy up into his arms. Dean balanced on his good arm, the one that had been released first, while Castiel brought his hand up to the boy's shoulder, holding him tight and beginning the healing process.
He spread his wings and flew from Hell, taking Dean with him.
"I am Castiel."
Damn, that sounded familiar. Even more so the second time he heard it. He just couldn't place it, couldn't put the name with a face. When he tried, he saw a naked, pale body, flowing dark hair, and eyes so bright they burned. He saw something that slightly resembled the man before him, but was so much better. So much nicer. So much friendlier.
"I am an angel of the Lord."
That stopped Dean in his tracks. He stared. Stared at the thing that was staring at him. An angel. An actual angel, come for him. Because he'd saved Sammy, and that was good. That was good enough, and he was getting his angel and he never had to be alone again.
And he wanted ice cream.