Hey there! :)

Now I know that I have other stories that need updating - and I am genuinely working on it - but when I was sorting through files I found a story called 'The Truth Hurts' for Supernatural. It was one of the first stories I wrote for fanfiction and was, I realised when reading it back, not very well written. It didn't really work as a multi-chapter story either so I quickly revised it into a one-shot again. I'm only publishing it now as some kind of proof that I'm still alive (my lack of writing is shameful) :(

Anyway, this is set in Season 3 before Dean's deal came due. I hope you all enjoy it! :D


A faint light, pure and blinding, crept through his hazy senses and startled him back to awareness. He groaned, head rolling groggily as he squeezed his eyes tightly shut. The light still, despite his best efforts, penetrated through his eyelids, refusing to let him sleep.

Opening one eye reluctantly, he was forced to slam it forcibly shut again as the radiance burned and whited out his vision. He hissed almost imperceptibly, tilting his chin down in an attempt to avoid the luminous rays. It was a futile effort, he realised. Clearly somebody wanted him to wake up.

His first coherent thought was that he was dead. Perhaps coherent was a loose term to use, but it was the only conclusive idea able to occupy his mind beneath the pounding headache. He figured that it was a fair point; the whole 'heading towards the light' thing, clichéd as it might have been, was not an absolute impossibility.

He shook his head, instantly regretting it as a sharp knives pierced through his skull. I'm pretty sure if you're dead, pain isn't a worrying factor. He winced again, breathing through his nose in an attempt to keep his emotions in check. And I'm going to Hell – bright light doesn't come under their resume.

Once again, he attempted to open his eyes, managing only to a half mast while his pupils tried to adapt to the light change. Finally, braving the brightness, the lids peeled back a little further as he emerged into full consciousness. He blinked several times, managing to bring the world back into focus.

His relief upon managing to take in his surroundings was instantly extinguished, ironically as he managed to get a detailed look at where he was. The walls, perhaps once covered in wallpaper, were instead stained in a vile mixture of blood and urine to create a disturbing auburn shade. Flakes of skin littered the room in a twisted parody of snowflakes and, more than once, he imagined that he saw fingernails or some other such appendages littering the soiled floor.

Swallowing hesitantly, forcing the rising bile back down, he hastened to finish his inspection. It was then that he realised he was not the sole occupant in the room. Across the room from him lay a young girl, perhaps in her mid-twenties and of a beautiful appearance. He had to bite into his lip sharply, drawing blood, in an attempt to prevent the emptying of his entire stomach contents across the floor.

The girl stared vacantly at him, her brown eyes now glazed with the heavy hue of death. Her blue lips were parted in a silenced scream and, even from his position across the room, he could see through her mouth that the entire back of her head was missing, only the shell of her face remaining.

He wrenched his gaze away, breathing heavily. All the earlier signs of pain were shoved aside, until only the writhing of his stomach remained, threatening to explode at any moment. He closed his eyes for a minute, trying to regain his composure. It was pointless for as soon as they closed, the dead girl entered his vision, just staring and pleading with him.

"God," he whispered, tugging at his restraints to get free. It was a futile attempt at best and a half-hearted one: he hadn't expected escape to be that easy. Yet, his only thought, his motivation as it were, was that he could not let his brother find him like her.

The sharp tang of iron poisoned his tongue and he lurched sideways, spitting blood. He had not realised how hard he had been biting his lip in an attempt to withhold his horror, but between that and throwing up everywhere, he would happily choose the lip any day.

The creak of a door being opened gripped his attention instantly and he stiffened, hands curling into fist as he prepared for any signs of danger. The blinding light flickered for a moment, before it held its own against the darkness, granting him a view of his captor. A man entered the room, his posture strong and commanding as he allowed the door to slam heavily closed behind him. He shot a sharp look at his prisoner before heading over to the dead girl, looming over her as an ominous shadow.

Once beside her, he grabbed a handful of her brunette hair, wrenching her head harshly back until he could examine her face more clearly. A neat frown appeared on his brow before he scoffed, turning back to the restrained man: "Is this bothering you?"

"Leave her alone."

The man chuckled maniacally, jerking on the girl's head with each shake of laughter. "Come on! It's not like she can feel it, see?" And to make his point, he pushed his hand through the space where the back of her head should have been. His fist clenched up as it struggled through her small mouth until, after a disturbing ripping sound, it emerged through the other side and waved eagerly at the prisoner.

No matter how strong stomached he was, no matter how much horror he had seen throughout his life and even no matter how hard he bit down on his already bloodied lip, his reaction was inevitable. With a violent wrench forwards, he heaved, expelling his lunch violently over his boots. He continued to retch pointlessly until he was dry heaving, unable to conjure up anything more of substance. Coughing, deep rasping breaths struggling to his lungs, he stared at the vomit-drenched shoes with a deep sense of loathing.

"Well, well," a snide voice weaved around him, his body shivering involuntarily at the sound. "Who'd have thought it?"

Long fingers entwined in his hair and, in a cruel parody of his action towards the dead girl, his captor jerked his head back harshly. Withholding a cry, he summoned up his most icy glare, emerald orbs glinting sharply in the light as they collided with a pair of shadowed eyes.

The thin lips curled maliciously, "Who would have thought that a Winchester could be so easily intimidated by a small bit of carnage!" He shook his head gravely, releasing his grip on the prisoner's hair and raising his finger in admonishment, "Shame on you."

Green eyes narrowed further, flashing with murderous intent. The threat was clearly lost on his interrogator as the cruel grin stretched wider until it seemed to almost swallow him whole. The man leant closer, his head inches from his captor's and still smirking wickedly.

"Yes, what would Daddy think of you now, huh Dean?"

Dean, still glaring savagely, allowed his lips to twitch into a harsh smile. His head tilted to the side, eyebrow quirking challengingly. "If we're swapping stories, how about answering that question yourself?"

"How about 'cause I didn't go around yearning for Daddy's approval?"

Dean's smirk faltered instantly. "You don't know anything."

"Is that so?" Straightening, the man began pacing the room, his feet squelching sickening against the repulsive floor. He strolled around the elder brother, like a hunter circling its prey with a premature sense of victory. "Oh, I know more about you than you think."

"Really."

"Enough to know if you're lying," replied the man calmly, tilting his head in contemplation. Then, as though a figurative light bulb had alighted in his head, he clapped his hands together sharply. "I know, let's play a little game."

Scoffing, tugging at the ropes again in a bid for freedom, Dean shook his head. "Seriously? You dragged me here and tied me up just so you could have a slumber party? What, are the other preschoolers busy or something?"

"Cute." The smile remained a constant as its owner finished his circle, once again standing ominously over him. "It's pretty simple, even an idiot like you should be able to follow, but don't worry, I won't be holding my breath."

He paused, examining his fingernails nonchalantly for a moment and ignoring Dean's furious expression, before continuing: "I ask you a question, you answer me truthfully. If you tell me the truth, you don't get hurt, but," the sinister eyes snapped back to Dean, making the elder brother almost shudder with disgust. "If you lie, I will break your fingers, one by one. When I'm done with those, I'll work on your toes, then your arms, your legs… are you getting the picture here?"

Despite the churning pit of fear in his stomach at the description, Dean managed to quirk an eyebrow cheekily. "It's still a little vague. Care to specify?"

His captor said nothing, his grin slipping but only slightly, until the vacancy of his expression sent chills racing along Dean's spine. But the elder Winchester held his ground, smirking widely and refusing to allow his facade to falter. He would not be seen as weak. As he opened his mouth to add an additional rejoinder, the man reached swiftly behind its back and suddenly Dean found himself looking down the barrel of a gun.

His facade slipped a fraction and the gun was fired.

The bullet slammed brutally into Dean's right kneecap, shattering the bone and lodging amidst torn tendons and ligaments. The young hunter cried out, body convulsing with the pain as his vision blurred rapidly at the edges. The ropes cut deeply into his skin as he struggled, possibly drawing blood, but he was beyond caring.

Son of a bitch! Son of a bitch! Son of a BITCH!

The mantra raced dizzyingly around his head, his jaw clamped so tight that he was unable to verbalise his trail of thought. His fists clenched and unclenched convulsively against the armrests, sweat dripping feverishly from his brow. His green eyes flashed maliciously at his attacker, who simply tucked the gun away again with a casual ease.

"There's your specification," the man replied coolly, his expression impassive as he spoke. Dean exhaled heavily, struggling to keep his knee motionless in an attempt to spare any further damage. As far as he could tell, from the slight shifting beneath his skin, the bullet was still lodged there.

Backing away casually, the man leant back against the defiled wall. One arm looped slowly over the other as he waited, granting Dean the time to regain his composure. The calculating sneer had returned, the dark orbs flicking from the pale face, to the ruined knee and then back again. "Are you ready to play, Dean?"

"Bite me!" Dean spat angrily and without hesitation. His body shook uncontrollably in agony, every muscle tensing as he struggled to focus a strong enough expression of loathing upon his captor.

"Is that a yes?"

"It's a 'go screw yourself!'"

Chuckling deeply, as though expecting the retort, the man pushed away from the wall. "Need I remind you that you still have another kneecap that I can get rid of?" The elder Winchester paled considerably, even as he snarled out a response. "You don't have to make this hard, Dean."

Dean knew, being a Winchester of course, that it was his nature to make things hard. They never chose the easy option when the hard one could be taken instead. It was just an inbuilt reaction to any situation which, although making their lives ridiculously crappy at times, had made them stronger. Still, he found it difficult to see how choosing the hard option would be of any benefit to him: doubtless he would still be forced to play whatever sick game was planned and he would be down two kneecaps.

Guess I'm just gonna have to go along with it. "Fine."

"Good. We'll start simple, don't worry," the captor soothed mockingly, walking back and forth and catching Dean's eyes tracking him everywhere he moved. The hitch in the hunter's breathing made him laugh inwardly. It was going to be almost too easy. "What is your name?"

"Dean Winchester."

"When were you born?"

"January 24th, 1979."

The man nodded to himself, pressing his fingers to his lips as he swivelled on one foot. He began pacing again, before asking, "And where were you born?"

"Lawrence, Kansas."

"The same house where you mother died, right?"

Dean's posture changed strikingly at the question, his frame stiffening even when it pulled cruelly on his wound. Spitting every word like poisonous venom, he answered: "Yes, you know that."

Grinning at the response, the interrogator stopped pacing, facing his prisoner as he prepared his next question. "How did she die?" And before Dean could answer, he held up a hand for silence. The deep eyes twinkled menacingly in the luminous light as he added, "Specifically."

Dean clenched his jaw tightly, hatred burning from his core and smouldering beneath his emerald irises. But he had to play along. Just for a little while longer until he could figure a way out. He tugged again at the ropes, cursing inwardly when they refused to budge at all. He knew he had to answer. Having a bullet lodged in his other remained kneecap, he figured, would lower the probability of escaping considerably.

"That Yellow Eyed bastard killed her," he spat, seething with rage as he stared at the man across from him. "He pinned her on the ceiling, cut her open and burned her." His lips quivered furiously, "That enough detail for you, you sadistic dick?"

The man's eyes flashed with something akin to anger before it was instantly restrained; the sneer a constant etched drawing upon his face. "Well you missed out how she screamed for mercy, how the fire licked away at her skin until there was nothing left, how she cried and cried..."

"You son of a bitch!"

In a movement so swift that Dean nearly missed it, the man was directly in front of him, one hand tugging his head back while a cool weight rested against his exposed throat. Dean swallowed hesitantly, the sharp blade pressing against his jugular and more than capable of slitting it wide open. "Are you done?"

Squeezing his eyes closed, hating his weakness, Dean gave a barely perceptible nod. The pressure on his throat and head were instantly removed and the elder Winchester gasped, cricking his neck to the side.

"Here's your first tricky one so be careful how you answer," the man cautioned instantly as though no altercation had taken place. Raising a finger to stress his statement, he tilted forward slightly. "Who do you blame for your mother's death?"

Frowning, Dean replied immediately, "Yellow Eyes." Silence fell between them and he scoffed, "Is that it?" How was that difficult?

"Maybe I should be more specific. Do you blame your brother for her death?"

"What! No." A disappointed expression feigned legitimacy on his captor's face as his looming form approached, reaching out for Dean's left hand. Dean struggled as the cold skin enveloped his own where it was restrained against the armrest. "That was the truth!"

He received no answer and, despite his meagre resistance, he felt his smallest finger being drawn away, clutched tightly in his interrogator's grip. He swore loudly, denying that it was a lie, that he had been telling the truth.

"You may be able to fool yourself, but you can't fool me."

A harsh crack rent the air, echoing around the room. There was the shortest second of quiet before it was abruptly followed by an agonised scream and Dean struggled against his restraints, his back arching and fighting to get away.

"Now I'll ask again," came the voice over the hunter's distress, even as another finger was separated and held in a tight grasp. "Do you blame your brother for your mother's death?"

"No!" Another crack rang through the room. Dean cried out again, cursing his captor with violent oaths even as he trembled with the abuse. Son ... of ... a ...!

"Do you blame him?"

Dean inhaled sharply, eyes murderous, "I told you 'no', asshat!"

The expression of the man darkened horrifically and without delay, he moved onto the next finger. "Tell…" *crack* "Me…" *crack* "The…" *crack*. Dean was now screaming himself hoarse, the word 'no' lurking behind each cry in utmost resilience. With no remorse, his captor gripped his entire hand tightly, in a mocking portrait of a handshake: "Truth!"

An assortment of snaps met their ears as the man squeezed, breaking every single bone in Dean's already wounded hand. Involuntary tears gushed down the hunter's face as he listed from side to side, accompanied by his torturous symphony of sounds. The pain was unbearable, his kneecap flaring to the forefront to add further insult to injury and he struggled to contain it beneath his masks.

"Yes!" he eventually yelled, shuddering. He felt, rather than saw, his tormentor back away from him, content with the answer. Allowing his chin to fall dejectedly onto his chest, he relented, feeling each heaving breath rack his body violently. He dared not look at his hand, too terrified by what he would see there.

"And why," continued the voice, clearly having way too much fun in watching the young hunter sag against his restraints, "do you blame him?"

Refusing to look up, Dean swallowed before whispering, "She died in his nursery." He blinked, willing his pained tears away, internally denying his own words. He did not blame Sam for their mother's death. He did not. That was the truth. He knew, inside his head, that that was the truth.

Satisfied, the man shifted from one foot to the other, as though considered his next question with extreme care. Dean attempted to ignore him, breathing through his nose in an attempt to regulate the pain and regain some semblance of control. "Your Daddy, the infamous John Winchester," the elder Winchester's breathing hitched despite his calming efforts and he tensed for the question. "Did he ever hit you?"

There was a prolonged silence, neither speaking as they stared at each other: one waiting and the other deathly still where he sat.

"Time's-a-wasting."

"Depends what you mean by hit."

"I mean as in really hit, a good old hook to the face." The elder Winchester's gaze faltered at last from his tormentor's, lowering to stare at the floor. Finally, the throbbing pain in his wounds reminding him of the price of his supposed disobedience, he nodded. "Don't look so pathetic, Dean. It isn't half as fun. How about this? I'll help you reminisce."

Dean had barely raised his head an inch in response to the man's statement before a fist ploughed into the side of his face. His neck snapping back and his head collided brutally with the hard chair he was restrained to. Dark spots crept into his vision, threatening to envelope him entirely as he slipped further down the chair, fighting the pull of blissful unconsciousness.

A trickle of blood ran from his nose and he sniffed, his vision whiting out as fire smouldered along his sinuses. God, he grimaced, every movement seeming to cause him pain even when he attempted to remain immobile. Mustering his strength, Dean conveyed his entire hatred into one look, scarlet stains racing along his upper lip only serving to intensify his expression.

"You lost your childhood," was the blunt statement, either oblivious to the glare or unaffected by it; Dean angrily assumed that it was the latter. "Tell me, who's to blame for that?"

"Regular Dr Phil, aren't you?" The captor remained silent, waiting with chilling patience for an actual attempt at an answer. Panting softly, trying to disguise his hurt as best as he could, he answered darkly: "Yellow Eyes."

"Nice try. Who else?"

"What? No one else." His frown at the man's response swiftly morphed into horror as the figure moved steadily to his side. His other hand, blissfully uninjured at present, was grasped and his pinky was tugged aside. "You bastard, I'm not lying!"

With the thin lips curling, his tormentor clamped down sharply, hearing the bone snap clean in two. A taunting look rose on his face as he watched Dean force his mouth shut, struggling to hold back a scream. He eagerly anticipated the next wrong answer: apparently, this game was addictive.

"I'll try again, who else?"

Heat emanated heavily from the wounded hunter and he squeezed his eyes closed, willing the searing pain to fade. Calming himself, his lids raised, meeting the man's face unflinchingly a few inches from his own. "Why, are all these about blame?"

"You have a lot of blame in your life, Dean. You ignore it, try to forget about it but it's still there, eating away at you. I just think it's time you let it out." A violent curse burst from Dean's lips, eliciting another deep chuckle from his tormentor. "So tell me, do you blame Sam?"

"No."

"What about dear old Daddy?"

"No." A harsh crack rent the air and the elder Winchester jerked in his seat, hissing. Sweat poured down his face as he fought against the torment; currently, he was losing. "I don't blame either of them!"

"Dean, when you stop lying, the pain will stop."

The interrogator moved slowly onto another finger when Dean roared, "I blame myself!" The man seemed slightly surprised, still gripping the small appendage as he waited for an explanation. "It was my choice. I didn't have to do what I did, spend my time trying to raise Sam, but I did it anyway. I destroyed my own childhood." His eyes sparked with Winchester defiance. "And I'd do it again if I had to, just to see my brother safe."

"Even when he left you for college?"

"That was his choice."

"Were you angry?" the man readjusted his grip on the finger, Dean holding back a wince as he waited for the next round of agony. "Did you hate him for leaving you?"

"Of course, I was angry," he retorted, his skin seeming to boil and roll as he anticipated the next break. When it did not come, he added. "But not at Sammy. It was all he ever wanted to be normal, to get away from our crappy life. How could I hate him for that?"

And although the man's grip remained constant on his next finger, he did not crush it. Apparently, Dean mused weakly, there was nothing but truth in his statement: go figure.

"You wanted to be a fireman when you grew up, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"What happened to that aspiration?"

"It was a pipe dream. I'm a hunter, always have been, always will be."

"You mean because Daddy wouldn't let you," the man interjected, smiling cruelly as Dean's expression became guarded again, readying to deflect any low blows against his family. It was touchingly... pathetic.

"Yes."

"But your brother got away?"

"Yes."

"And when Jessica died," he began, studying the tension aligning every inch of Dean's body as the realisation of where this question was going became apparent. "Did you feel relief? I mean, after all, when she died you got your beloved, baby brother back." He laughed sharply. "You must have felt a little bit happy."

"Go to hell."

The man raised an eyebrow crouching down and holding the next finger tightly in his grasp. The elder Winchester stared down at him murderously and his captor could see the desperate need to lash out, to take advantage of his proximity. No matter how strong he was, he could not snap rope with fury alone. "Is that a no?"

"What do you think douchebag?"

Closing his eyes slowly, inhaling the scent of blood and fear, the finger was snapped in two with ease. Dean cursed vehemently, denying his captor's claims even as another bone was cracked. The vibration rushed up his body, warning alarms whining in his brain telling him to do something, to stop the pain somehow.

Eventually, Dean fell silent, only his rattling breaths and racing heartbeat acting as a soundtrack to his agony. His head lolled backwards over the edge of the chair, his eyes facing the ruined and disgusting ceiling. He imagined Jessica on the ceiling, drenched in her own blood, her mouth still open in a frozen scream.

How could he ever feel happiness from that?

"Is it worth putting yourself through this?" He received no answer, even as he rose to full height, leaning over his victim. "All I need is one word, and it won't hurt anymore."

A cold hand rested along Dean's brow making him flinch violently. It steadily wiped the sweat away, drawing the hunter's head forward until the rage filled eyes aligned with him. A knowing smirk quirked the Winchester's lips as he murmured, "No."

He would have imagined that he was becoming accustomed to the breaking of his bones, but this time, Dean was unable to control himself. A harsh scream rent from his throat as he writhed against the restraints once more, trying to break free. The ropes, however, held strong, keeping his fighting body at bay.

The abused hand was gripped, almost in a parody of comfort as the cold voice whispered from above him. "Just say it. You know you want to. Just say it and it'll be over."

Inwardly cursing himself, his entire being brimming with tenderness, Dean relented. He could lie to save himself, he had done it plenty of times in the past; it was no matter if his tormentor believed it to be truth or not. He can believe what he wants. "Yes."

The hold on his hand vanished immediately, rising to clap Dean lightly on the shoulder. "See, it wasn't that hard was it? You shouldn't make things hard on yourself, Dean. Shouldn't Winchester stubbornness be trumped by grievous bodily harm?"

Dean did not reply, eyes staring dead ahead. You tell me. Still, he found that he could not risk anymore smartass comments now. He had caused himself more than enough damage. As it was, he wasn't even sure if he would ever be able to use his left hand again: So much for being a hunter.

"Okay, Dean," the man's foot tapped on the ground contemplatively. "The cabin in Missouri," the colour completely disappeared from Dean's face, "when Daddy was possessed. Was it his fault for your torture?"

The answer was immediate, even indignant as he spoke through layers of pain. "No, it wasn't. He was possessed. He did what he could to protect me." In truth, Dean could still remember that night so vividly in his mind. After so much time had passed, he could still remember the words, like a brand on his mind, as though they had been spoken only yesterday.

"They don't need you, not like you need them."

And it was true. In this sadistic game of 'truth or dare' – only without the dare part – Dean figured it was maybe only the truthful thing to come out of the whole thing. Without his family, Dean was nothing. He lived for them, he had nearly died for them; he existed purely because of them.

"The dirty little secret," the man spoke in an almost sing-song tone, dragging the elder Winchester's attention back to him instantly. "You must know which one I'm talking about. The whole 'kill Sam if you can't save him'." He shuddered as though caught in a chill, a mocking smirk adorning his lips. "Even I've got to admit, that's just cold."

"He had good intentions."

It was an instant response, initiated immediately when any rebukes against his father were made. His mistake was realised a second too late as his hand was crushed viciously, a series of pops and cracks signalling its untimely demise. A primal scream ripped itself from Dean's throat until he finally felt the cold hands release him. Even he had known that his answer had been a lie, and the maniacal giggling above him signifying his tormentor's awareness of the fact as well.

"Don't have much care for your own safety do you?"

The hunter grunted weakly, inwardly annoyed that he hadn't succeeding in passing out yet. Any release from the pain, even a normally dreaded fainting spell, would be graciously accepted.

"Your brother was killed less than a year ago, right?"

Not liking the route his interrogation was choosing to take now, Dean gave a sharp nod, droplets of sweat falling onto his lap at the action. He would, in an ideal world, have clenched his fists furiously at this moment in time, but as it was, it was an entirely impossible gesture.

"You made a deal for him?"

"You already know so why are you even bothering to ask?"

"Why'd you make it?"

Dean snapped, the tremors of agony causing the 'reasoning' section of his brain to short-circuit, "Because the leprechauns told me to. Why do you think, dumbass?" Oh and how he desperately wanted to bite his tongue off right there and then. No smartass comments, remember?

It was too little, too late.

The man remained stoic as he stamped a heavy boot down on Dean's toes. Three simultaneous cracks, like champagne bottles being uncorked at a party, reverberated around the room and Dean's face reddened in pain. Expletives poured from the hunter's lips like water, occasionally interrupted by the threat of dismemberment to his tormentor.

"I'm not gonna ask again. Just answer."

Dean could hear his heartbeat thumping rapidly in his chest and he leant forward, spitting a mixture of saliva and bile from his mouth. He had never told anyone specifically why he'd brought Sam back, why he'd made the deal; everyone generally made the correct assumptions anyway. Glancing up, Dean's facade faltered slightly as he held the dark gaze that waited for his confession.

"Because I can't live without him."

"And you assumed that he could live without you when the deadline date was due?"

"It was selfish. I wasn't thinking of that when I made it."

After a pause, the man stomped pointedly on the rest of the hunter's toes, breaking what was left of them on his left foot. The yelp was unrestrained and Dean hadn't the heart to attempt to restrain it. He fought the rising tears in his eyes, steeling himself as only a Winchester could.

"That, if you were wondering, was for making the deal in the first place. 'What's dead stays dead', ringing any bells?"

There was no answer and the man wondered if Dean could taste his own hypocrisy. He doubted it personally; hypocrites never could.

"Are you scared?" the tall figure leant forward; the smile long since vanished as he studied his victim. "Are you scared of going to Hell?"

"It's worth it."

The mumbled words had barely passed his lips when the heavy boot fell again, breaking all the toes on his right foot in one fell swoop. Dean jerked, teeth ripping at his lower lip as he fought to stifle his cries. His eyes screwed up as he forced the agonising pain away, to little avail. He was a mess; he did not need a mirror to tell him of that. Every breath seemed to cost him dearly, stretching his endurance to its very limit.

He knew that he could not take much more.

"Are you scared?" This time, before Dean could even answer, his foot was smashed again. The remained bones shattered instantly and the elder hunter reeled, muffled whimpers resonating outwards. "Well, are you?"

Some form of release pleaded with him and he obliged swiftly. "Yes! Yes, I'm scared." His breath hitched, threatening to give way to torrential sobs. He held them back feebly, only his pride preventing him from becoming a shuddering wreck before his captor's feet.

"I think you should be."

Dean coughed shakily, his strong facade wavering as every nerve seemed to be ablaze, threatening to smother him entirely. He wondered if he was too far gone, if his injuries were beyond what even hospitals could restore to normality. He wouldn't die, he knew that. The game wasn't meant to kill him, just make him suffer. He wondered if he should care, but found that he didn't. What did it matter now?

"One last question."

There was little solace in the fact that it was his 'last' question. He had little doubt that he would, according to his captor, would be lying no matter what answer he gave. Unable to shift in his chair, restrained not only by the ropes but by his injuries, Dean internally braced himself.

"I mentioned the secret Daddy told you, about killing your brother. Would you ever do it?" the man's expression was unsmiling, his dark eyes locked chillingly upon his prey. "Would you ever kill your little brother if he turned and became something he wasn't?"

Dean hesitated. He knew what he felt to be the right answer, but had little doubt that his captor would agree. Still, steeling himself against the next bout of torture, he refused to lie. This was one thing that he could never bring himself to lie about. And so, with his masks once again firmly in place, Dean smirked.

"No."

There was a pause, the briefest hesitation, before the boot collided with his other foot, effectively destroying it. Dean watched it with a sense of detachment and even though he heard himself cry out, even though he felt the pain beginning to overpower his senses, he never backed down.

"No!"

A sharp blow struck his arm, bending the joint backwards until it jerked. An accompanying snap signalled its demise and the limb sunk uselessly against the armrest, forced into an unnatural shape.

"No!"

One of his legs – he was too addled to be able to work out which one – was slammed into mercilessly. His foot remained in its secured position as the leg was forced back, his skin straining as the bone fought to break the surface. Dean screamed, emerald orbs burning at his tormentor.

"No!"

Blows to his chest and abdomen followed each other in sharp succession, beating like the heavy rhythm of a drum as they bruised, broke and ruptured beneath his skin. Blood rose in his throat and he gagged, scarlet liquid dribbling from his lips and dripping from his chin.

"No…"

The word was nearly incoherent beneath the torrent of blood and agony, but the man heard it easily. With a grim expression, his fist furled tightly, flying towards the elder Winchester's face with no intent of stopping. The pale face was flung backwards, Dean's entire body relaxing as he sunk, at last, into oblivion.

The man remained unmoving for some time, his bloodied knuckles hanging by his side as he studied the broken form of the hunter. Stepping forwards, he grasped the heavy head in his hands, tilting the battered face towards him. Dark eyes narrowed ominously as they traced the lax face, searching for some sign of resolve; some enlightenment in the unconscious man.

He found none.

"Well," he released his grip on the hunter, watching as his head dropped heavily downwards towards his chest, "it seems like you might have to change that answer soon brother."

A bitter expression marring on his youthful face, Samuel Winchester straightened, wiping his hands against his jeans tiredly. He listened to his victim's heavy breathing before he turned, departing the room with the assurance that Dean would live. His eyes fell briefly on the form of his beaten older brother before the door closed behind him - wondering if his lesson had been received - and he disappeared out of sight.

The harsh light flickered violently before it eventually went out. The room sunk into darkness, embracing Dean's destroyed frame in a weak attempt at comfort. It offered none; accomplishing nothing in trying to soothe his aching heart, his sense of failure, his endless questions as to what had gone wrong.

I know, the truth hurts, doesn't it?


I hope you all liked it and thanks so very much for reading it! :) (Even though it's only a revised version, I hope it partially excuses my lack of updates - it was a lot quicker to amend an already completed piece of writing than create something entirely new).

Please review and let me know what you thought of it - I'd really appreciate any possible feedback you could give me :D.

Hugs, Ami-Rose x x x x x ;)