Title: Renegade Atlas
Spoilers: through seasons 4 and 5, tiny tiny parts of 6; it's mostly canon
Warnings: insane!Dean, violence, gore, language, torture, thoughts of self-harm/suicide, weird nonexplicit Hell!sex, angst like whoa, and probably a giant bastardization of angel lore
AN: This is my baby, my little tiny brainchild that I have slaved over for...probably a long time. And now I present it to you with giant thanks to MusicDefinesUsAll for not punching me and patiently dealing with my breakdowns instead of slamming me up against a wall and redesigning my face with her fist. She's tiny and fierce. Anyway, she's basically perfect.
The title of this is a reference to the modern myth that Atlas holds the world upon his shoulders, a slight change from the original myth where he held the celestial sphere. It's a Dean-deals-with-Hell!fic with beaucoup angst and a helluva lot of gore. It's been a dream to write, and now I present to you...Renegade Atlas. :D
At first, the familiar prodding in the back of his consciousness confuses Castiel. He's on a mission with Uriel, and he originally brushes it off as one of his brothers trying to contact him specifically, probably Balthazar poking at him instead of just the usual presence of his brothers in the back of Castiel's consciousness. He doesn't have time for distractions because there's an entire horde of demons he has to watch out for while ensuring the correct information gets back to Heaven so they don't end up stumbling upon the Staff of Moses, at least not until the angels can get to it. He isn't high enough up on the chain of command to know why it's suddenly so important that they start moving possible weapons back to Heaven, but Castiel knows it must be serious. The angels haven't been this busy in thousands of years. There have been five similar missions assigned to him in the past year and a half alone and the importance of that weighs heavily in the back of his mind.
Uriel snickers to himself—he has a tendency to laugh to himself a lot—and lets Castiel in on the joke. It's about a goat and a tree indigenous to northern Russia, with a particularly crude punch line that makes Castiel snort as well, until he stops abruptly as realization washes over him.
Castiel has not received a prayer in a long, long time. There aren't a whole lot of humans looking for guidance or protection from the angel of Thursday, so he is unused to dealing with their pleas for guidance and protection. Hesitantly, he tells Uriel to keep a look out as he calls the prayer to him.
A vaguely familiar voice floods in, saying, I know Dean's not the most...religious person. He's not the most moral person on the planet. But look at what he does—he saves people, every day, and he doesn't deserve this. I just—I just want my brother back. Please, God, I know you can help. And I think if anybody knows he hasn't earned this...it's you. Amen.
Castiel starts. It's Sam Winchester, of all people, the infamous abomination with the demonic taint all over him.
"What's wrong?" Uriel asks.
Shaking his head, Castiel says, "I have things I need to attend to after this mission is completed."
It takes three weeks for the Staff to be safely procured and stored away in a weapons locker in Heaven. Sam Winchester prays for his brother every day, but his prayers are starting to lose the certainty and hope the first ones had. The most recent one, the one that worries Castiel the most, is confusing.
Please, God, help him. I—I'm scared if something doesn't happen soon, he's gonna be gone forever. And you shouldn't do that to him; he is worth so much more than that. But...at the same time, I'm starting to think you don't care. So I'm going to start trying to get him back myself. Whatever it takes, you know? Ruby says she can help, and I trust that she can even though she's not the most...reliable source. Just...let me know if you guys up there can help.
Dean Winchester was assigned as Castiel's charge on January 24, 1979, at 7:03 p.m. in human time. Michael himself entrusted Dean to Castiel with instructions to watch over him and report at the time of Dean's death.
This is hardly the first human Castiel has watched over since he's been stationed on Earth, but Dean is certainly the most important. He is Michael's vessel, Heaven's greatest tool in defeating Lucifer, and there is nothing about him that Castiel does not know. He has been memorizing Dean Winchester in his entirety since the moment Michael said to Castiel, "One day, brother, you will raise him up from the depths of Hell and put every part of him back together again. I trust you to prepare for that." Castiel hasn't the faintest clue why he was picked for this task, why it wasn't an archangel or even simply an older, more powerful brother, but he has every intention of carrying it out like a true warrior of heaven.
Castiel taught himself everything. He knows the exact number of freckles scattered across Dean's nose and the difference between those and the similar map spanning his shoulders. He knows the measurement of Dean's skin in meters squared and the precise acute angle at which his legs bend. Dean's calloused hands are as familiar as Castiel's own grace; the number of eyelashes Dean has on each eye is so deeply ingrained in Castiel's mind that he will never forget it. Castiel is ready to build Dean back up again the moment he is told, from the way his middle right toe curls in further than the rest all the way up to the tiny, pockmarked scar on his earlobe from his childhood. He will put Dean back together, stronger, brighter, and better than before.
Castiel has been away from watching Dean for the series of missions Heaven has been sending him on. He thinks about Dean frequently—it would be rather hard not to, considering the purpose Dean has been put on Earth for. Regardless, Castiel has been busy. He knows, however, that Sam wouldn't be praying for Dean if it were not desperately important.
So when Castiel returns to Heaven, the first thing he does is tell Uriel he cannot take another mission until he has spent a while watching over Dean. Uriel is displeased, but Castiel has been assigned to watch Dean longer than he has been running reconnaissance missions and there isn't much Uriel can say to stop him. Castiel is fully aware of where his responsibilities lay.
However, Dean...Dean is nowhere to be seen when Castiel looks down to Earth, ready to fly off at the first sign of him to find a more convenient place from which to watch him. He's suspiciously absent, and Castiel even spares enough time to check continents outside of North America.
Sam is still there, doing research out of an armful of old books in a library somewhere in western Kentucky. He looks exhausted—Castiel would know, considering spending a lifetime staring at Dean similarly means a lifetime staring at Sam. Dean, though, isn't anywhere in the area.
Castiel swears softly to himself. This is bad. If Dean's not on Earth, there is only one thing that could have happened to him, and that's death.
Castiel knows that Dean lives a dangerous life. He fights all sorts of murderous spirits and monsters that would hardly see killing him as any occurrence out of the ordinary, has about five different, equally dangerous vices, and drives far too fast to be safe. If Dean is dead, Castiel isn't exactly surprised; he definitely had his suspicions when Sam started praying. Nevertheless, he has a job to do, even if it's been put on hold for more immediately pressing matters, and it's time to get back to that job. Castiel shouldn't have stopped watching, though, should have known the instant Dean was pulled through the gates of Hell.
He blames his preoccupation with Dean Winchester for why Balthazar is able to sneak up on him.
"What do you want, Balthazar?" Castiel asks, pulling his mind back from Earth and trying to seem like he had been aware of his brother the entire time.
"You seem unsettled, Cassy," he answers lightly.
Castiel hesitates, but he can feel Balthazar's concern and reassurance brushing up against his grace and he just wants to tell someone. "Dean Winchester...is dead," he ends up saying.
"Really? And you're not going to Michael about it?" Balthazar says, looking faintly surprised.
Shaking his head, Castiel says, "I was just on my way. Would you like to accompany me?"
"Of course I want to be there when Michael learns he's not the first person you told about this," Balthazar says happily. He's adopted a few too many mannerisms from humans, a vague sense of sadism being one of them, Castiel thinks as he glares at him.
They fly up the mountain of Heaven together, wings brushing in a familiar way that makes Castiel think about how much he has missed this. It has been far too long since Castiel's seen past Heaven's outer edges where the garrisons stationed on Earth arrive to receive their new assignments and depart soon after. Two thousand years, though, hasn't changed the place a bit, and, with his brother at his side, Castiel feels a heady sense of peace wash through him at the sight.
"It's good to be back," Balthazar agrees quietly. "It won't be for long, now, not when Michael hears about Dean Winchester."
Castiel agrees with him silently, freely sharing his thoughts with Balthazar as they land.
Balthazar stares at him for a moment. "Well, look at you, Cassy," he says. "That's a bit of a surprise. Rather unlike you, too, considering you've never been particularly fond of humans in general."
"He is important, Balthazar," Castiel snaps. "You would feel the same."
"But of course," Balthazar murmurs demurely. Castiel wants to explain himself, but there isn't time as the gates in front of them open and Michael stands before them.
Castiel inclines his head out of respect. "I bring news," he says, voice ringing around them with all the power he doesn't normally inflect. "News concerning Dean Winchester."
"Go on," Michael commands him, and Castiel spares a thought to hope that he will not be punished for not watching Dean as closely as he should have been.
He detaches himself from his words, putting on the unaffected air Michael encourages all of the angels to have in matters concerning humans. "He has died. His soul rests in Hell, no doubt being broken as we speak," Castiel reports
And with his wings rising over them, obscuring the Great Temple that lies beyond the highest gates of Heaven, Michael says, "Good."
The first thing Castiel does is find a vessel for his inevitable place among humans and the more tangible part of Hell, and he receives another mission immediately, somewhere in southern Africa where one of Joshua's horns has found its way into Lake Tanganyika. It isn't what he expects and Michael offers no explanation why he is out there and not trying to pull Dean out of Hell.
So he searches through the lake with Balthazar and Hester. It takes nearly three months, as the horn is hidden from them and they instead have to search across every inch of the lake, a hundred feet under it, and all around the shoreline. In the end, it's Hester who actually finds it. Dean has distracted Castiel again, as embarrassing as it is.
Dean's descent into Hell is the one thing Castiel had been assigned to watch for, and now that it's happened, he wants to raise him from it. Castiel wants to do his job.
It's not an exaggeration to say that Castiel has developed an...affinity for Dean. It is a very dim candle to the affection he holds for his brothers, but it's there, even though it barely elevates him above the way Castiel perceives the rest of the human race. Dean is interesting. His soul shines, his heart is pure, and no matter what he says or does, he is truly a good person who only wants to keep his little brother safe. Castiel has to admire all of that about him—so few humans are the same way. He understands the family loyalty, the desire to protect, to save. Dean Winchester is one of a kind, as good as a human could ever probably be, and that is why he needed to go to Hell.
Sam still prays occasionally, angry and troubled. So what if he's a drunk? A slut? He saves people, you know; keeps them safe from the monsters you created, and he doesn't deserve to live? Who gave you the right to decide anything about him?
He's still under the impression that God is hearing his prayers and not Castiel, who gets them by virtue of being the angel assigned to watch over Dean. Sam is starting to annoy Castiel with his blatant blasphemy, and he wants to fly to Sam and remind him that this is how the plan is supposed to go. Then again, Sam probably wouldn't care.
Michael is waiting for him when Castiel returns to the outskirts of Heaven. He looks severe and powerful, every bit the archangel as Castiel shakes his waterlogged wings, still soaked from his second look at the bottom of the lake in case they had possibly missed anything (they hadn't, of course).
"Brother," Castiel says in greeting. Balthazar is shamelessly watching them from the side, his grace alight with curiosity.
"Castiel," Michael says. "It is time. Are you ready?"
Then this is it. This is the beginning of paradise, and he calls his garrison, Uriel, Balthazar, Hester, and Inias, to his side. The end, the start of it all—and the only time Castiel will see past the gates of Hell.
"I'm ready," Castiel says. "We're ready."
The only thing he can think, as his brothers arrive, trust laced across every part of their beings, is that it's truly a shame that the most beautiful human soul Castiel has ever seen had to belong to Dean Winchester.
In his mind, it's Alastair's face that Dean is slowly turning into paper-thin confetti. Every loving flick of his knife carves into Alastair and pulls another bit of him away. And as he screams, Dean moves to the flesh on his neck and then his chest, stomach, all the way down to the tips of his toes. Every bit of flesh is carefully flayed into pieces no bigger than his littlest fingernail, and he flips Alastair over on the table, does the same to his back, and laughs as he screams. Then the acid, the little eyedropper full of lye and water. The part that stings worse on open wounds—Dean knows firsthand that chemical burns are worse than anything fire can do. They're the best part.
"The main event," Alastair hisses in Dean's ear, arm sliding close around his waist.
Back to reality, then, where Dean's actually slowly and painstakingly destroying a middle-aged man named Justin Burrows whose only crime was wanting to save his adopted son from an inoperable brain tumor. He probably should have let the kid die.
"Yes, Dean, back to the present. You can imagine doing all those pretty things to me, baby, but it's never going to happen."
Reality is so much worse, he thinks faintly as he squeezes the eyedropper lightly all the way down Justin's spine. Dean likes to hear the screaming, likes the way it means his hard work is being noticed and rewarded with scars in Justin's soul. It means someone else is feeling the same pain Dean felt for thirty years.
Thirty years and Sam never came to save him.
Dean loses control for a moment, looses too much acid over what's left of Justin's right lung. He positively howls.
Alastair admonishes him, crushing the triumph that flushes through Dean by tightening his claw like fingers over Dean's side. "Now, now, now," he says. "We've been over this, Dean. Sammy's not coming for you. No one is."
"I don't need them," Dean snarls, slamming his fist down on the table. Justin whimpers pathetically.
"That's right, you don't," Alastair whispers, his hand sliding slowly up Dean's chest. "It's just you and me and—" Sighing, Alastair slides his forearm over Dean's eyes, draws his head back against Alastair's shoulder. He likes keeping Dean open and vulnerable, likes to see Dean's neck bared for his taking. "Well," he says, laughing and drawing his tongue up Dean's neck, scraping his teeth back down the side of his throat. "I'm sure you recognize him."
And when Dean opens his eyes to look down at the table, Justin is gone. In his place is a teenage boy, taller, thinner, more muscular. Familiar, with floppy hair and a terrified expression like a puppy.
"Sam," he says, rolling the word across his tongue. He hasn't said it in years, not after he stopped screaming out for him when he was still sitting on the rack.
"Yes," Alastair says. "I'd say he's around—eighteen here? About the time he abandoned you for better prospects, isn't it?"
Dean snarls, tries to jerk forward out of Alastair's grip, but he only laughs and holds Dean in place with one hand on his thigh and the other splayed across Dean's windpipe. "Not so fast, Dean. Remember when I taught you about patience? We don't want all that training to go right out the window."
"No," he says after a pause, sinking back against Alastair. "No, we don't."
"What do you say we start with this?" Alastair asks, holding up a long, thin whip for Dean's careful inspection. He takes it with a hungry growl; it's Dean's personal favorite. He loves the way it opens up a person's insides so slowly and erratically, how he can throw his whole body into it. To be in control of it is to lose control.
Besides, they always scream louder when Dean gets to the part where he's whipping straight into their stomachs.
"Remember, Dean," Alastair says as he steps back, hands dragging heavily away. "Remember what he did to you. How he left you because you weren't good enough for him. Nothing you ever did was good enough for precious baby Sammy, and he never cared enough about you to save you from me."
"No, please, Dean, don't," Sam begs, his hands in fists and pulling against the ropes that hold him down. Dean knows that it's not really Sam, but it's a damn close resemblance. Sounds just like him when he was a teenager. And, fuck, Dean doesn't hate him, doesn't want to hurt him, but the hypnotic lull of Alastair's voice is threading through his brain and dragging cracks in his rationality. It's a damned if I do, damned if I don't kind of scenario, because Dean somehow finds it hysterical that he's damned in Hell and what the fuck else is there to do down here?
In that moment, Dean is certain when he says, "I'm glad you're here to burn."
When his little brother screams at the first lash of the whip, Dean laughs louder than Alastair does. He lets himself go, drowns in the pleasure of inflicting pain, and taunts Sam over and over again, "This is what you get for leaving me, you little bitch. This is punishment, and you deserve it for what you did to me." Alastair cheers him on, cackling when Sam's ribs start to show through the frayed, bloody mess of his skin.
Dean fucking loves the way his baby brother looks on his back, broken and begging for mercy.
"You're not gonna leave me again," Dean says as he dips his hand into the deep wounds on Sam's stomach, grabbing and lifting whatever organs he finds there, stirring them up. "Are you, Sammy?" he says, leaning over Sam and bringing his bloody hand up to Sam's face, grabbing his chin and forcing their eyes together. It's a perverse power that's tingling beneath his fingertips, or maybe it's just the scent of blood driving him into a frenzy.
Sam shakes his head desperately. "I won't—won't—Dean, won't leave, promise, I—"
"Shut up," Dean snarls, shoving two fingers down Sam's throat because his voice is absolutely grating. Sam chokes, gags, and a sudden desire overwhelms Dean to see how far down he can stick his hand.
"Do it," Alastair murmurs in his ear, drawing closer like a moth to flame. His arms slide back around Dean and his teeth nibble softly against the junction of Dean's neck and collarbone. "C'mon, Dean, baby, break his jaw open for me and see how far he opens up for you."
There's a morbid fascination filling Dean. Blood smears across Sam's face, blood and pieces of his insides torn up by the whip and Dean feels the last tiny shards of rationality falling out of his mind.
He slips his ring finger in Sam's mouth as Alastair watches. Little finger. Thumb, and Sam's lips look so pretty stretched around his hand like that and he wonders, just for a second.
Alastair laughs darkly. "You always think about your baby brother like that, Dean? That's a pretty punishable offense, even by my standards."
Growling, Dean ignores him—no one asked for a demon's opinion anyway—and digs his hand in further. The pads of his fingers explore the feeling of Sam's tongue twitching restlessly all the way to the back of his throat, all soft, slick, giving heat. He's gagging around Dean's hand, every single one of his muscles twitching to get away from Dean's invasion.
"You're going to need to make more room," Alastair says with a short laugh. He fits his hips right up against Dean's ass, pressing completely against Dean. For his part, Dean doesn't react, stepping closer to Sam's head as he forces his other hand into Sam's mouth as well. "Now pull on three," Alastair whispers. "One." Dean's fingers curl for leverage, fingertips pressed to the backs of Sam's teeth. "Two." Sam's eyes are wide, pleading, terrified.
Dean doesn't hesitate. His arms fly apart, ripping Sam's face in half and breaking right through his jaw like something out of a movie; he doesn't think this is physically possible, but the things Dean has seen in this place are beyond the realm of possibility on Earth.
Sam moans low in his throat, the rest of his body convulsing with pain, blood pooling down and matting into his hair, turning it sticky and red. Sweat shines on his forehead, and a drop sliding off the bridge of Sam's nose enthralls Dean.
"It's so rare," Alastair says as Dean studies Sam, "that I get a student like you who actually bothers to take initiative like this. You have so much potential, Dean. Ten years, gone in the blink of an eye. Look, baby, just look at how much you've learned." He presses closer, shoves the top of Dean's thighs up against the table, and Dean only vaguely notices the long line of Alastair's dick against his ass. It's Sam that has Dean spellbound.
He drags his fingers up the rips in Sam's cheeks so Sam whimpers, sees the way his tongue flops limply around the gash covering his face. Slowly, Dean slips his hand back where it should be, inside Sam's mouth, but now it doesn't catch on the worthless tension of his teeth. There's simply no resistance in him anymore, no more structure to Sam's face that's getting in the way. Down, deep, further than he should be able to, and Sam just opens up for him so sweetly, the soft flesh of his esophagus yielding to Dean as he bears down on it relentlessly.
"There you go, Dean, yeah," Alastair breathes in Dean's ear, hips rolling against him. "Now make it hurt; turn it into real pain."
Dean curls his fingers, digging his nails into Sam more than he really needs to as he makes a fist, and true to form, Sam tries to scream. It doesn't escape, though, just vibrates against the pulse point on Dean's wrist. And it should be scary, that Dean is fucking fisting his baby brother's face, but then his attention is caught by the way Sam's loose jaw slides to the side when Dean turns his wrist just so, and it doesn't matter anymore how terrifying this should be.
"Perfect." Biting Dean's neck, Alastair says, "Now what are you going to do? What else does Sammy deserve for leaving you alone to rot?"
Sam should be dead, is what he deserves, but people don't die in Hell, not really. They're torn apart and sewed back up just to feel it all over again, but they don't die.
So Dean does the next logical thing—he grinds back on Alastair's hips and tosses his head back like Alastair likes. Chuckling, Alastair says, "Alright, sweetheart, there you go," and slides a hand into Dean's hair, tugging back, and Dean melts against him. "No little brothers, no guardian angels," Alastair whispers into Dean's neck. "Just you and me, baby, for the rest of forever. We don't need anybody else. What do you say?"
"Yes," Dean hisses, and he can feel a hand creeping down the back of his pants. "Yes."
This is Hell. This is the place where no one cares enough about Dean for him to care about any of them, the place where he'll rip the only good thing in his life to pieces when told and do it while a demon fucks him. Dean isn't a demon, not by a long shot, but he's on his way there, and with two fingers up his ass and his hand down his brother's throat, he thinks this might be the time to fully give in. After all, he's not getting out; there's no one coming for him.
No one ever will.
Let me know what you think, and I'll see you all in a week!