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See the Red

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“Why are you here, Dean?”

Cain's voice was calm and deep behind that crystal tumbler. Blue eyes watched him over the rim, patient as a stone for a response.

Dean resisted the urge to scratch at the Mark on his arm. The burn under his skin was a constant companion now. Cain took another sip from the glass without a word, settled deep in the red leather wing chair.

“I need your help. You lived with it,” Dean said, voice rough. “Show me how to control it.”

Cain placed the glass on a coaster and sighed. “Where is your brother, Dean?”

“None of your business.”

Sam thought he was on a simple salt-and-burn case, so Dean kept dodging his calls. Instead, he had driven for two days to the Virginia woods, unsure if the spellwork to find Cain's new location had worked until he saw the apiaries in the field.

In the blink of an eye, the Knight stood in front of him. He examined Dean's arm with the Mark, his grey-streaked hair falling over his eyes as his thumb rubbed against the ridged edges. The cool touch felt good on Dean's hot skin.

Cain dropped Dean's arm, a half-smile playing on his lips. “And why would I want to help you?”

“You know what this is like,” Dean said, looking around the room, at anything that wasn't Cain. “C'mon, don't make me beg.”

Cain rubbed along the side of his beard, as if considering the thought. “There is something that helped me through the years. Something Colette would do to give me focus.”

“Whatever it is, I'll do it,” Dean agreed. Hell, he would have said yes to Cain cutting off his arm with a dull pocket knife to end this.

“You probably won't like it, but at least I'll get some enjoyment, especially since you tracked me down in my home. Again.”

Cain crooked his eyebrow before he turned to walk into the bedroom. Dean shook his head before following behind.

Putting himself at the mercy of a Knight of Hell was probably not the best idea Dean ever had, but it was better than the alternative he was facing.

***

“You'll need to take off your clothes, Dean.”

Dean frowned at the switch in Cain's hands. It was thin, probably rattan, and didn't seem like it would do much damage. But looks could be deceiving.

“And you think this will help me, how?”

“Pain provides a distraction and a release. It will help mute the anger,” Cain said. The Knight tapped the switch across his thigh and smiled, a thin row of white teeth showing through his beard. Some base instinct buried in Dean wanted to run but he had to resist. Too much was riding on this.

Dean pulled his flannel and t-shirt over his head, dropping them on the floor. As he went to unbuckle his belt, he looked up to find the Knight's eyes crawling over him. Those blue eyes were hungry, like Dean was a prime cut of meat.

Cain made no move to get rid of his jacket and vest, but nodded at Dean to continue. Dean wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans before finishing with the buckle and shimmying out of his jeans and underwear. His nipples peaked in the cool air and he rubbed at one absently as he turned to look at the waist-high bench that Cain had pulled into the middle of the room.

A black leather seat curved up like a saddle across the top of the sturdy wooden frame, making Dean think of a bar stool from some honky tonk, until you looked down at the leather restraints attached to each leg of the stand.

Dean licked his lips and set his palms flat against the seat.

“Do you need me to tie you down?” the Knight asked.

Dean eyelashes fluttered as he fought with his instincts once more, before nodding yes.

“That's a good boy. The first time can be overwhelming, so I think it would be best given your current condition.” Cain placed one hand on Dean's bare back, guiding him into place. “I don't imagine we need a safeword.”

Confusion hit Dean. Safewords were for rough sex and scenes, and this was… not that, was it? This was about a way to funnel the anger building up inside of him, finding a target that was not his brother.

Sam's face, cracked open with concern and disgust over a bunch of dead criminals, flooded in at that moment. Tell me you had to do it. Tell me it was them or you.

Sam was the only one so far who could hold back the Mark for Dean, but even that had its limits. Sometimes, when it was just the two of them alone in the Bunker, the sight of his brother's face or the noise of him moving around in the next room would set Dean off. He would have to stalk off to his room, throwing in his earbuds to drown out the violence in his mind. The music and the solitude would help for a time, but the burn under his skin would build up again. Dean could feel it with his eyes closed, sitting like a terrible red bud under the pale skin of his forearm, ready to bloom into something bloody.

Cain's hand brought him back into the moment as it pushed him over the bench, running up the knobs of his spine. Dean moved with the touch, folding his upper body over the padded platform. His fingers wrapped around the wooden legs, and he closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. They snapped open again, when Cain nudged Dean's feet out, opening his legs wide before buckling the restraints around his ankles and wrists.

“Comfortable?” Cain asked.

“Just get on with it,” Dean gritted out.

Cain trailed his long fingers along Dean's flank, like he was settling a racehorse, and followed behind with the bamboo switch which feathered softly over the curve of his ass. The light touch and the wait for that first strike was unbearable. Dean squirmed against the leather padding of the bench, his cock hanging loose and untouched between his legs, with nothing to protect it.

“Let's agree to twenty strokes. I'm sure you can handle that.”

There was no other prep before he heard the snap of the first stroke or felt its thin line of pain.

Dean had known pain all his life. Shot, stabbed, and bones broken. The sharp pain of injury and the dull ache of recovery. And that was before the forty years he spent in Hell. That pain was so unimaginable that he couldn't look directly at it. The memories were tucked away, as fuzzy and indistinct as he could make them in a dark corner of his mind.

The sting of the blade-like edge was intense. Not the worst thing he ever felt, but enough to make him grunt and curl his toes. He blew out a breath as the second stroke landed higher on his cheeks.

“Fuck!” The pain of the next three strokes didn't get easier. Cain walked around to the side and rubbed his hand against the warm area he had just swatted on Dean's ass, then ran his fingers down to the back of Dean's thighs. The soft touch across that heat went right to Dean's cock, and he rattled his cuffs and went on his toes to get away from it.

“Oh, you like that?” Cain said, as he pulled away.

Dean knew that he had always been fucked up when it came to pain. Some crossed wire in his brain couldn't tell the difference between sex and a beating. The best kind of sex came after the adrenaline high from a hunt, with fingers digging into raw wounds and forming bone-deep bruises. Dean would drop his dad at the motel, and cruise the streets of whatever town they were in, looking for a specific kind of bar, where the crowd gave hard looks and had eager eyes. With Dean's looks, it was never tough to pick out someone who would go rough in the shadows of the back alley, or fuck hard in the Impala and then go back inside to drink with their friends.

If John noticed that Dean came back to the room with more bruises than when he left, he never said.

But that changed when Sam was back. When they kissed for the first time, after the wendigo hunt in Colorado, he stopped looking for someone to hone his rough edges because Sam needed the same thing as Dean. They understood each other, that need to own and be owned by someone, biting and hard in the moment, and then know that the other would be fine the next day.

And yet, Sam would pull back at times. There was a line for him between rough sex and thoughtful, intentional pain. Even if he asked, Dean wasn't sure if Sam had it in him to do that. The potential was there, Dean could feel it in his brother's strong hands and the force of his voice.

“Can you see it yet, Dean?”

He didn't have a chance to ask what the hell he was supposed to see before Cain began the next round of strikes. These were softer, more of a tapping. Cain was restrained now - showboating his mastery of pain. Perhaps he and Cain had more in common than he thought - two creatures who were twisted into shiny sharpness by Hell.

“Don't be a dick. Keep going,” Dean said.

Cain put force into it, placing the blows closer to where Dean’s ass met his thighs, where the nerve clusters were more sensitive, and despite himself, tears came to Dean's eyes and began to fall on the floor below. His cock responded to the heat coursing through his belly, and his balls tightened in anticipation of the next hit. He rattled the restraints in frustration, his thighs trying to pull together, to protect himself, to pull away. He closed his eyes and only one face came to mind, surfacing like a bubble in the boil.

“Sam,” he whispered. His body went limp with realization. He was going through this to protect Sam, but underneath it all, he wanted his brother to be the one holding the switch. Not to help him, but to punish, and once again, Sam was pulling back from what needed to be done.

Images of Kevin, Cas, and Gadreel flipped through his mind like cards in a deck. And throughout, there were thoughts of Sam. I see a light at the end of this tunnel.

Dean was unaware of the tears that continued to fall but now he leaned into each new stroke, arching his back to feel it all the way down his body. Cain seemed to notice the change, no longer a showman but someone eager to finish.

After eighteen, the Knight leaned over him on the bench, his hand dropping between Dean's legs to feel his balls which were painfully tight and his cock which had begun to drip. The feel of Cain's wool trousers as they brushed against the switch lines made Dean cry out, the pain like an electric shock.

“Close your eyes and let yourself go.”

And so he did. Dean clenched his eyes and stretched his spine. The heat along his ass felt like fire, and those flames were soaking into his core, pulsing as if his heart was in his testicles. A floating feeling came over him, as if he was disconnected, witnessing the pain from a soft, warm place.

He dropped his head down and the last two strikes were heard more than felt. Come splattered on the floor beneath him, his body clenching and spasming in relief. A drowsy feeling came over Dean and he couldn't keep his eyes open.

***

He woke up, alone and naked on the couch. A blanket was wrapped around him, and a glass of water sat on the coffee table in front of him. Next to the glass was a long package wrapped in brown paper, with a simple note written in a large flourish that said, “For Sam”.

The house around him was empty and Cain had disappeared again. No doubt that the next time he saw the Knight, it would be because Cain wanted to be found.

Dean sat up gingerly, the bruising on his ass still sore. He started to sip on the water when it dawned on him. Setting the glass down, he looked at the Mark on his arm. The burn was gone and it appeared a light pink rather than the angry red of the previous week.

He pulled the long package onto his lap and unwrapped the paper. A cluster of rattan switches was bound in twine, with a note meant for Sam tucked in between the thin sticks.

“If I see your brother again, it won't go as well, so make sure that you give him what he needs.”