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This Bloody Life

Chapter Text

Don’t Stop.

Don’t Stop.

Don’t Stop.

His breath was coming hard and fast.

 

Keep Running.

Don’t Stop.

Keep Running.

The frozen wind was stinging against his face. Burning in his lungs, igniting flames inside his chest.

 

You can do this Dean.

Don’t Stop

Keep Running.

BREATHE!

 

Dean could hear them chasing behind him. They were getting closer. But it didn’t matter. If he got caught trying to escape…. He was dead anyway. Might as well die from running too hard for too long. It would be less painful.

You can do this…

His head was throbbing, and blood was dripping slowly from his temple. His bruised ribs weren’t helping with the breathing problem, neither were any of his other injuries for that matter…

Dean pushed the pain away, like he had been forced to learn oh so many years ago and pushed his legs to go faster.

He had been in Lucifer’s territory for ten years now, tortured, enslaved, starved, abused, even drafted… the list went on. Now the promise of freedom was so close, he could almost taste it.

You can do this!

Don’t Stop!

Keep Running!!!

The deep mud was making his footing difficult and the dead, broken tree limbs kept tripping him. Before the Great War began, this had probably been a forest of some kind. Now it was nothing but wasteland and death… pretty much like the rest of the earth.

Don’t Stop!!!

Keep Runn- “AHHH!”

Dean felt a searing pain slice through his shoulder, his pace faltering making his feet betray him and throw him to the ground in a heap.

“He’s down! Terminate him!”

Dean felt the blood flowing from his shoulder were the demon had thrown its knife into him. The throbbing in his head was now a roaring pounding, his vision going hazy, threatening unconsciousness.

No…

Dean heard the three demons approaching him rapidly, their footsteps crashing towards him.

I won’t die like this.

Dean was a fighter. He had decided the moment he began his escape that he would either succeed or die trying. There was no other option. And he had come too far to die now. Days on the run. He was so close.

Dean took a deep breath and pulled himself up to a standing defensive position, pulling the demon’s knife out of his shoulder to use against its previous owner.

Here goes nothing… or everything…

The three demons came at him all at once. He began slashing quickly, the knife flashing dangerously in the moonlight. The first demon got hit in the chest, while Dean ducked the second’s punch. He dodged the third’s kick, quickly grabbing its foot and breaking the leg backwards.

“Exorcizamus te….”

Their eyes flicked black as Dean began the exorcism, his only chance of survival. Their attacks quickened with fury at his treasonous speech. But Dean was too good for that. He sped up his attacks in response, his words continuing on.

One landed a hit against his temple and he went down with a scream of pain and frustration.

The mud was mixing with the blood, but the deadly gleam in Dean’s eyes pierced through, and the demons realized in that instant…. They were too late.

“….AUDI NOS!!!”

The demons fell to their knees screaming in agony as black smoke poured out of their bodies. After mere seconds, the demons were gone, and their meat suits dropped lifelessly to the ground.

Did I just…

Dean’s eyes were huge, a slow smile growing on his face. His triumph filtering into his foggy mind.

“YES!!!!!”

The overwhelming emotion of victory flowed down on him. His slightly hysterical laughing filling the dead wood.

“YESSS!!!!”

Tears of joy and relief glistened against a vibrant green.

“I’m still alive…..” He whispered hoarsely in relief.

After a moment to collect himself from his survival, Dean painfully came to a standing, leaning slightly against the tree. His shoulder was not as bad as he had thought, thankfully, it had already stopped bleeding. His temple was sporting a dark bruise, but he’d live.

I’ll live…

Dean gave himself one more moment of reveling before pushing off of the tree and began trudging towards his now almost-assured freedom.

Just beyond this wood was a Midway. One of the few unclaimed areas, possessed by neither Lucifer or Michael, where freedom fighters usually resided in large communities of huts and impoverished, decrepit buildings.

There he would find freedom. Safety. Well, more than normal.

SPNSPNSPNSPNSPSNPSNPSNSPSNSPSNPSNSPSNSPNSPNSPNSPNSPNSPSNPNS

It took hours of limping tiredly through the dead wood, before Dean finally caught sight of the huts. He was exhausted, in pain, and just downright filthy, but he didn’t care. He had made it. Days of being on the run, fighting group after group of demons sent to hunt him down. And he had made it.

As he neared the ram-shackled cluster of buildings, a group of freedom fighters ran out to him. Repurposed water-guns filled with holy water, aimed at him.

“STAY WHERE YOU ARE!”

Dean raised his hands defensively, taking a more relaxed and casual stance.

“Easy there, fellas.”

 The water splashed unto his face and he spat in response. “Really dudes?” He muttered, wiping away the holy water that was dripping from his now soaked hair, merely smearing the mud already there.

“HE’S CLEAR!!!”

With that, the men turned around and gestured him to follow them into the town.

One of the young men, a dirty blonde with grey eyes, smirked at him over his shoulder. “Sorry man. That really is my favorite part though.” He laughed, grinning at Dean, who was trying his best to not look like a wet dog.

“Your compassion overwhelms me.” Dean sneered sarcastically. His sopping footsteps following the young man.

“My name’s Caleb.” The blonde offered, shaking Dean’s hand while they continued walking.

“Dean.”

“Dean. Cool. So, what are you doing out here anyways?”

Dean sighed, running a hand through his blood and mud-spiked hair. “Just got away from Lucifer’s Legion.”

Caleb stopped abruptly, staring at Dean in shock.

“Wh-What?”

Dean turned to him and shrugged his shoulders…. well, one of them. “I just escaped from being imprisoned by Lucifer.”

Caleb’s eyes were wide like saucers. “Oh dude….we are…. SO GOING TO CELEBRATE!!” The young man let out a whoop, his eyes dancing. “I’m paying for rounds. Renegade, you are amazing. Only a handle of people have EVER been able to get away from them. THIS IS SO COOL!”

Dean let out a small laugh, feeling a slight swell of pride. “Yeah, well, as much as I’d love some sweet booze right now, I’m kinda walking wounded here. How about a pit stop with the doc first, yeah?”

“Whatever you say Renegade. Let’s head over to the medics.” Caleb grinned. “THEN, I’m buying rounds.”

He led Dean to a large, crumbling building that looked like it used to be a warehouse or something before the war. Just one big open room full of people. He could see a couple medic signs in the right front corner with a couple cots and curtains that came into view as Dean was led closer.

But just as Dean reached them, he suddenly got the feeling that he was being watched. Subtly glancing to his left, he was met with a hard gaze of dark brown eyes.

He froze.

“Dad…" 

Chapter Text

The crowds of people began to fade away, the noisy bustling and chatter slowly muting.

All Dean could see was that man. 6’ 2”, dark hair, brown eyes. The sheer confidence and power radiating off of him.

“Dad…”

He tried to move. He tried. But his limbs weren’t responding, and his muscles were freezing. His brain started short circuiting like a haywire computer grid.

His hands were trembling, and his knees were weakening. After all those years… he was right there. The man who had left him behind. The man who had left him for dead in that awful place, after they had accidentally wandered into demonic territory. The man who had caused him a decade of pain and nightmares beyond imagining. The man who took only Sammy and ran…Sammy….

Sammy!

Is Sammy here too???

Samm-

Dean was jarred from his thoughts as his father started moving towards him. His unwavering gaze did not falter as he bore down on Dean.

Dean lifted his eyes into the hard gaze staring back at him. Nose to nose with the man who had abandoned him ten years ago.

“…Dean?”

The voice threw him off. It was cracking with emotion. Dean didn’t know how to respond to that. He hated this man. He did something so unforgivable… why was he crying?

Sure enough, there was moisture building in the older man’s eyes as Dean studied him. But that didn’t make any sense. He had abandoned him. Why did he care if he found him again?

“Hi Dad.”

That one small greeting seemed to break down John Winchester’s last walls as he grabbed Dean into a tight bear hug, his shoulders shaking, his hands clutching into Dean’s hair.

Dean was frozen.

He couldn’t respond. Asides from the fact that all his injuries were screaming at him to make it stop, he did not know what to do. He had imagined reuniting with his father many times in the past….but it never looked like this.

“What are you doing here?”

John pulled back slightly to look at Dean’s face. “Passing through. Dean…” His throat caught, “How are you alive??? How did you get out???”

Dean shrugged off his father’s embrace and took a step back, ignoring the look of shock on the older man’s face.

“I got out. Freed myself. Thank you for the help, by the way.” Dean turned and continued his path to the medic station, noticing Caleb staring at him just ahead. Dean was too tired to deal with this right now. Exhaustion didn’t even seem to cover it. This was too much.

“Dean!” John called behind him, the hurt evident in his voice.

“Dean! Look at me boy!” Dean felt a hand grab him roughly at the elbow, jerking him towards his father. “What is wrong with you?? What-“

“Sorry I’m not in the mood for a heart-to-heart Dad. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to get some pretty pretty pills before I collapse into unconsciousness.” He yanked his arm out of John’s grasp and went over to one of the nurses who directed him towards an unoccupied cot.

John suddenly seemed to become aware of how injured his son was. He had been so focused on the fact that his presumed-dead child was right in front of him, breathing, alive. And not a child. A man.

John stared at Dean, fifteen feet away, sitting down carefully on a beat-up cot as though every muscle in his body was burning in protest.

He noticed the blood. The filth. The torn rags that bared some resemblance to what was once clothing. He noticed the sharpness in his cheeks and the chisel in his jaw. He noticed the green eyes, no longer bright and joyful like what he had remembered. Now they were vibrant in defiance and steel, as though they had been tempered like metal with fire and experience. This was no longer the bouncing twelve-year-old boy he had left behind…

This was a soldier... More than that.

A warrior.

The thought hit John like a bus on steroids. What had happened to his son?

Dean tried to ignore the fact that his father was still staring at him and smiled tiredly up at the doctor who was approaching him.

“Hey doc. Do me a favor would ya?” Dean nodded to the makeshift curtain dividers next to the bed. “Pull the curtains before we start?”

The doctor nodded silently, glancing from Dean to John and back to Dean. “Of course, kid.”

SPNSPNSPNSPSNPSNSPNSPSNSPNSSPNSPNSPSNSPNSPNSPNSPNSPNS

About an hour later, John watched as the doctor reemerge from behind the hastily-drawn curtain. He began to stride towards the bed when he was suddenly intercepted by a young man with dirty blonde hair.

“Sorry, no visitors here, pal.”

John jerked away from the offender with anger. “That’s my son, boy. I suggest you get out of my way before you start being acquainted with the pavement.” He spat.

Caleb backed away slightly, his arms up in defense. “That may be, but Renegade in there is pretty roughed up. He needs some…. Drama deficient … sleep. ‘Kay?” He glared at John.

John didn’t seem at all intimidated by the scrawny punk. “Listen, kid-“

“He just got free of Lucifer’s Legion. I think he is more than entitled to some undisturbed rest. And from what I’ve seen, you would definitely be a disturbance…..sir.” Caleb sneered. He didn’t know why he was taking such a liking to this kid, maybe it was respect, maybe it was overprotectiveness, he didn’t know. What he DID know, was that this douche bag wasn’t getting anywhere near him until Dean wanted him to.

John’s mouth dropped a little.

“He just got free?” The voice was so small, Caleb almost didn’t hear it.

“Yes. As in…oh! Thirty minutes ago. Now get lost.” Caleb turned on his heels and went to go talk to the doc…. Then maybe flirt with one of the hot nurses if he had time before Dean woke up….

John was shocked.

He JUST got free.

He has been in there for… ten years.

John felt sick. He knew he had made a mistake that night, but he never thought it would lead to this…. He had thought it would have been over quick…

*Flashback*

“Dad, why did we leave the road? It’s dark out here!”

“I know Sammy. This is a short-cut. That means we will get to the next town sooner! Less walking, is always better, right Sammy?”

“This isn’t safe.”

“Safe? Running from angels isn’t safe, Dean. I think you can deal with a few miles of swamp.”

“We still should have stayed on the path…”

“Dean, will you stop your wining?! You’re not helping this situation.”

“Dad…. did you hear that.”

“Your imagination is becoming extremely tiresome, son.”

“No, Dad. I’m serious.”

“I hear it too Dad!”

“Someone’s coming!”

“Damnit! Run boys! Come on!”

“AHHH!”

“SAMMY!!”

“Hand him to me Dean, HURRY!”

“Dad, be careful, they shot his leg…”

“I got him, COME ON DEAN!”

pant…..pant….pant….

“Dad, they’re getting closer!!”

“I know Dean, just keep running.”

Pant…pant…pant…

“Dad…I don’t think those are angels….”

“……”

“DAD!!!! AHHH!”

“Dean!”

“My….shoulder….”

“Come on Dean! Keep running! Damnit Dean!”

“Dad….I can’t keep up….”

“I know, son. You gotta stay with me!”

“Dad….”

THUD.

“Dean!!”

“Dad…”

“Damnit son, I can’t carry you both!”

“Dad…. I ca…can’t run anymore….”

“Damnit Dean! They’re getting closer….”

“Dad…please don…don’t leave me….”

“Dean….I….I can’t carry you both…..”

“Wh…what?”

“I’m sorry Dean…I really am…”

“Dad! D…Dad! Wait!! PLEASE!! DAD!!! DAD COMEBACK!!! PLEASE!!!”

“DON’T LEAVE ME!!!!”

*End flashback*

John sighed. He had thought they’d kill Dean right away… he hadn’t thought they’d… but they had. They had taken him and done god knows what to him for ten years.

He shivered.

Maybe Dean did deserve a little space from him while he slept.

SPNSPNSPNSPNSPNSPSNPSNPSNSPNSPNSPSNPSNSPNSPNSPNSPNSPNSPNSPNSPNS

“Hey there, sleepy head! About time you started chirpin’ with the birdies!”

Dean groaned and rolled his head to look over at the bright and happy voice that dared interrupt his dark and nightmare-filled sleep.

“Caleb.”

“Yup! And you, my friend, have been sleeping for going on 8 hours now. Apparently you were a little tired. Who knew?”

“Jackass…” Dean muttered. “So what? You been standing vigil over me for 8 hours now? Is your piety filled or your twig and berries hanging limp?” He snarked.

“Neither!” Caleb chirped, his teeth flashing. “I’ve just been checking in every few hours or so after I realized you’d be out for a while, sleeping log that you were.”

“You’re too kind.”

 Caleb’s grin grew wider. “Of course. That’s my defining trait, you know?”

“Oh, believe me, I did not.” Dean grinned.

Caleb chuckled and leaned over to help the quick-witted young man sit up against the metal backboard of the cot.

“So, how’re you feelin’ there, Renegade?”

Dean shrugged. “I got eight hours of sleep. That alone is enough to make me feel better than I have in years.”

Caleb nodded slowly, apparently processing away information.

“You feel like you’ll be up and about soon?”

“Why? You guys got a community marathon going on today or something?”

“NO. Thank God, no. But, uh, some of my superiors heard about you. Apparently they want to have you come over and talk with them. You’re the first person we’ve ever met who has gotten away from those sons of bitches and still lived to tell the tale…They think you could have some very valuable information.”

Dean nodded silently. For a moment, his eyes lost focus and seemed very far away, as though his mind didn’t realize that he was sitting on that hospital bed.

“Yeah….yeah I do….”

Chapter Text

Caleb raised an eyebrow in response. “Oh well that wasn’t ominous. Like, at all. Renegade, you kinda freak me out sometimes. You know that?”

Dean just flashed a toothy grin before pulling back the covers to get out of bed. “What can I say? I have a flare for the dramatics.” He pulled himself up to standing, fighting the wave of nausea that washed over him, and swallowing thickly. “It’s one of my more winning qualities.”

“Uh huh. Whatever you say dude. You okay there?” Caleb glanced at him worriedly, reaching out both hands to help his unsteady friend.

“Mhmm.” Dean closed his eyes, trying to regain his composure. Come on, Winchester. Stop being a wuss. It’s just a few scrapes and bruises. Barely worth your acknowledgement, really.

Caleb watched him closely for another minute before slowly releasing his grip on the younger man’s shoulders. “You good?”

“Yup.”

“You sure?”

“Mhmm.”

Keeping his eyes shut for one more beat, Dean took a deep breath before righting himself and smoothly forcing his cheeky grin back on his face. “Alright, Cowboy. Let’s lock and load. We got a super important town meeting to go to, right?”

“Yeah. Okay. Let’s go.” Caleb bit his lip, in worrying contemplation as his eyes followed him out the warehouse door before following after him quickly.

----------------

“Alright, so you’ll be talking to our group of elders, okay? There are five of them. All are ex-warriors and very grumpy.  First, we have Rayland. Now this son of a bitch is a…”

Dean was trying to focus on what Caleb was saying. Truly, he was. But his mind kept floating back to the abrupt and very brief meeting he had with his father earlier. The bastard was probably still in the decrepit town, waiting for Dean to come to him. The son of a bitch. Dean knew that his father had been put into a difficult position, and he was glad that his father had chosen Sam over Dean. But still…

Dean wasn’t perfect. And at this point, Dean had decided he had the right not to be. If he felt betrayed and bitter towards his father’s abandonment of him, well then he was going to darn well show it! Those last ten years had been, for lack of a less puny term in this scenario, hell. All of it was his father’s fault. The things that had been done to him…. And the things he had done to others… he had to blame his father for it all. Otherwise he would crack under the guilt and self-blame that would eventually end up killing him.

So yes.

His father was a bastard.

He had to be.

“-wish you luck in there, Renegade. You’re gonna need it.”

Dean snapped back to reality as he almost slammed into a stationary Caleb, who was standing in front of a rundown five-story office building. “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.” Time to focus Winchester. You’re not a butt-hurt son anymore. You’re a soldier. Act like it.

He ascended the stairs to the top floor, making his way up to the meeting hall, a long room filled with nothing but an equally long table and five men sitting all clustered together at one end.

The door creaked open in announcement of Dean’s entrance, causing the battle-worn leaders to straighten in response. Dean held his head high in false confidence as he walked down the length of the room. He knew this game. If he pretended to be confident and know everything, they would assume he did.

“Dean? Isn’t it?” A man at the head of the table, salt-and-pepper in his hair and beard, stood in greeting of their newcomer.

“That’s right.” He added bit of sauved grace into his step, followed by a relaxed and loose-limbed plop into a nearby seat at the table.

“We know that you were behind Lucifer’s lines for a very long time-“

“Ten years.”

“Y-yes. Ten years…” The elder faltered at the brazen interruption. “But, uh, anyways. This is incredible! Hardly anyone has managed to escape his imprisonment. We were hoping… you could give us information you learned from the other side?”

“Yes, I can.” Dean replied, suddenly exhausted, wiping a tired hand over his face. “….I’m going to save your asses.”

“Excuse me?!” A tall man on the right, with an almost Nordic braid in his beard, stood in shock.

“Yeah. Your asses. Saved. By me.” Dean sighed, rubbing the side of his head. “Your welcome.”

The elders all glanced nervously at each other in dread at the young man’s next words.

“Lucifer is having a tough time of it, trying to get through Michael’s borders. So he’s trying a new strategy: taking over the Midlands first, to get a better angle of attack on Michael.” A collective gasp went through the room, but Dean continued on with his explanation. “You guys in the Midlands are weak. Ununited. It will be a cake-walk for Lucifer’s Legion to take over. He’s already in the process. You don’t have a lot of time. You need to evacuate soon.”

He leaned back against his chair and let the dire news, delivered so emotionlessly, sink in to the older men’s brains. He could see the panic set in. Then the terror at the reality. Then the sadness of the tragedy of the situation. And finally, as with all good leaders, the resolve to address the situation head-on.

“How long do we have?”

“A couple weeks at most. You have plenty of time to move out. But you do need to move.”

The men nodded their heads, huddling around each other in discussion of where to begin the movement. Some even throwing out suggestions of a possible regrouping with nearby Midland towns. Maybe even make a stand. But those were quickly dismissed.

To be honest, Dean was surprised. He hadn’t thought they’d take his word at face value. He thought they’d be more suspicious. He had been living under Lucifer’s rule for ten years after all. Yet these dodo elders didn’t even stop to think he might be a spy, or even just lying for the heck of it. He mentally shook his head. They were too trusting. It was almost sweet. Their innocence.

“Lucifer is not someone you guys can fight against. So don’t even consider it. He will send spies. Moles. Subterfuge is his weapon of choice, so be cautious. And for God’s sake, be suspicious of everything. And everyone.”

The elders nodded their heads in unison and thanked him for his help.

He took that as his cue to leave. The idiots hadn’t even asked for more information. Oh well. It wasn’t his fight. He just wanted to move on. So, with a quick bow of his head, he turned on his heels and exited the place with a resolution to get the hell out of Dodge.

Caleb met him outside, the poor man looked a little frazzled. “Well that was quick.”

“Yup.”

“Is everything okay?”

“Not really. You guys will have to move out soon.”

“Oh.” Caleb sighed, “I had heard rumors of Lucifer advancing. But I didn’t think they were real. Guess I should have known better.”

Dean chewed his bottom lip in sympathy. “Sorry dude.”

“Yeah. Yeah. Its okay. Hey, why don’t we go get a drink, huh? I still owe you one, right?”

“Ignoring your impending doom by drowning yourself in the bottom of a whiskey glass? I like it. Let’s go.”

--------------------

An hour or so later, Caleb was full-on plastering himself with his third round of personal shots, while Dean merely sat next him, silently nursing his solitary whiskey glass. It had been so long since he had gotten a swig of the good stuff, he wanted to savor it as long as possible.

Before Caleb could order his fourth round, however, the doors to the dank basement bar swung open, and none other than John Winchester himself strode in to the establishment.

Dean cocked his head in contemplation before turning back to his drink, blatantly ignoring his father’s entrance. He’s still a bastard. And I’m still pissed. Enough said.

He though he might even get away with his clear avoidance of the man. But no. He wasn’t that lucky.

“Dean.”

He took a sip from his glass.

“Dean, son.”

Another sip. “I’m not your son.”

“Please, Dean. I just want to talk.”

Dean felt a large rough hand land lightly on his shoulder. Before he even could think, his reflexes kicked in and with a second he had grabbed the hand, whirled about, twisting his father away from him, his arm pinned behind his back, and Dean’s knife against his throat.

“Leave me alone, old man.”

“…Dean?”

Dean’s head snapped to the entrance of the bar. His throat closed up and his breath got sucked out of his lungs. Tears started glazing over his sight, but he wasn’t very aware of the problem at this point. The beat of his heart was hammering against his ribs, and of all the things he suddenly wanted to say, only one word escaped his mouth.

“Sammy?”

His father was forgotten in an instant as Dean bolted towards his brother. Both of them leapt into each other’s embraces, gasping and clinging onto hair and clothes, fingers and shoulders, anything and everything that meant the man standing in front of them was their brother. Ten years older. But still their brother.

Anyone looking in on the scene must have felt as though they were intruding on a very private moment. And they would be right. But neither Sam, nor Dean, cared at all.

“Dean? Oh my god. Is this really you? Are you really here? How are you here?” Sam choked out. He was practically sobbing, and all the young man could think about was all the nightmares he’d had about how Dean had died. How long he had cried and how many years he had mourned his big brother’s death. And yet here he was alive.

“Yeah, Sammy. I’m right here kiddo. I’m right here.” Dean soothed, rubbing circles onto Sam’s back as he held his sobbing little brother in his arms. “Come on Sammy. Come with me.” Dean whispered, glancing up and finally noticing the stares from everyone in the room. “Come with me.” He led his brother into a back room, completely ignoring his father, who was staring at the whole exchange with a mixture of pain, tears, and resentment.

He guided his baby brother to a rickety, wooden chair, quickly seating himself opposite him.

“Sammy, it’s so good to see you.”

Sam’s red eyes met his gaze through the unruly mop of brown bangs. “Dean. How are you…. I thought you were….”

“Dead? Not hardly, kiddo. I’m right here.” He plastered a cocky grin on his face, trying to lighten the mood, spreading his arms wide in a confident gesture.

“But…how?”

There was a slight rustling near the small room’s entrance, causing Dean to glance up into the weary eyes of his father.

“It’s a long story.”

“Tell me what happened.”

Haunted green eyes flicked back to Sammy, not at all diminished by the fake smile that occupied the lower half of that face. “Some other time.” He glanced back up at his father, a sudden spark of malice and pain shooting through him. “I promise.”

Sam followed his glance to look at their father. “Dad? Did you know Dean was here?”

John Winchester glanced warily over at Sam, “I’m just as surprised as you are, son.”

Momentarily sated, Sam turned back to Dean. “You’re staying with us though right Dean? You’re not leaving again? Right? After all this time, we finally found you. You’re of course coming with us, right?”

Dean’s gaze slid cautiously between his long-lost father and brother. He loved Sam. He had missed that boy so much. And wow had he grown! The kid was a freaking tree now. He looked so grown up, yet still like such a child. Like he had somehow managed to maintain his innocence after all this time.

But Dean… Dean knew that he himself hadn’t managed that. He knew he wasn’t the same as when he left. He was damaged, yet stronger. So weary, yet wiser. Broken, yet stubborn. Dean knew himself well by now. What he had become in the last ten years.

Tainted.

Unclean.

He knew he should walk away, keep his brother safe from himself. A part of him even wanted to. He had suddenly become free and now it almost felt like being tied down again. But yet for all of that, it only took one look into his little brother’s sad eyes before he responded.

“Of course I’m coming with you Sam. I’m never leaving again.”

“Thank God!” Sam lunged forward, wrapping him in a bear hug, before quickly releasing him again. “I still can’t believe you’re here. I still can’t believe you’re alive!” He whipped around to face his father, “Dad! Are we still leaving in the morning for the Citadel? Should I go grab Dean’s stuff to pack with ours?”

John’s eyes were unmoving from his eldest. “I think that’s a great idea Sam.”

Dean met his stare head-on, “My stuff’s in the clinic down the road.”

Completely oblivious to the tension, Sam hopped up and bolted out the door as fast as he possibly could. Leaving the two older Winchesters glaring at each other in his wake.

“The only reason I’m doing this is for Sam. Do you understand? I don’t trust you with him.” Dean rose steadily to his feet, ignore the pains that were reappearing in his body after the previous adrenaline spike.

“Dean. In that forest….I had no choice…”

Dean walked closer to his father, lifting his chin in defiance. He took great pride in noting that he was now eye-to-eye with the older man, almost as if his height was confirming that he was now his equal, if not more.

“Don’t. Don’t you dare.”

A flash of pain traveled across John’s features. “What?”

“I know what you’re doing.” Dean’s stance shifted, crossing his arms over his chest.

“I have no idea what you are talking about, son.”

“I already told you. I’m not your son. Not anymore.” Dean’s eyes glittered dangerously. “I know what you’re doing. It’s the same thing you did when Mom died.” John visibly flinched at the mention of that horrible night. “You’re choosing not to remember what actually happened, what you actually did, because it eases your guilt. You feed yourself lies to make yourself feel better.”

Dean leaned in, his voice barely above a whisper in his father’s ear. “You aren’t as innocent as you think you are.”

With that parting phrase, Dean swept past his father and made his way to catch up with Sam. The only one who had yet to betray him.

Chapter Text

“You sure this is a good idea, Renegade?”

“Not entirely. But I’m not leaving Sam again. I can’t.”

“Yeah, I guess. That old man of yours though…”

“He’s an ass. Yeah, I know, Caleb.”

“Don’t trust him.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t.”

“We could really use your help with the evacuation here… if you decide to change your mind, Renegade…”

“Thanks for the offer man… but… I better get out there.”

“Alright. Fair enough.”

Dean emerged from Caleb’s apartment, pulling his pack over his shoulder, striding towards the staircase at the end of the hall. He didn’t know why John and Sam were headed for the Citadel, Michael’s capital city, but it left an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. He didn’t like angels, and he was pretty sure angels wouldn’t like him either. They could probably still smell the residue from the demon territory off of him. Great.

Caleb appeared in the doorway behind him, tugging a loose t-shirt over his head. “Hey, Renegade!” He called after Dean.

The Winchester turned and raised an eyebrow in query.

“Be careful out there. Okay? Angels are dicks.”

Dean cracked a smile and nodded his head, “Duly noted. And same to you Caleb. Be careful. This world is dangerous.” He tossed a parting wink before heading down the staircase to meet his brother and father.

 

------------------------------

 

Sam saw his brother coming towards them long before John did. Dean looked a little less tired than he had last night, though slightly more ruffled in appearance. He still couldn’t believe his brother was alive. He had spent the last ten years thinking his brother was dead, and now suddenly, there he was. Not only that, but he wasn’t the gangly twelve-year-old that had been frozen in Sam’s memories. He was a man now. It was so weird.

Sam guessed it must be weird for Dean to see him as well. At just eighteen, Sam had already shot up past his father in height, and probably Dean too… that was a strange thought.

Either way, Sam was so excited to go on this adventure with his brother! The Citadel was an incredible place. Or so he’d heard. Pearly gates and glass buildings. Rumor had it that this place was modeled after Heaven itself. The true Heaven on Earth. Or so they said.

“Dean!”

Dean glanced up to see his little brother jumping up and down, waving his arms exaggeratedly, in the distance. He smiled. No matter what else had changed, Sammy was still just a giant happy puppy. He just hoped he’d never have the world harden and hurt him as it had for him.

Dean’s smile faded.

“Dean! Dean!”

“Hey, Sammy boy!” Dean grabbed his brother into a crushing hug, pulling back with a small grin on his face. “How’d you sleep, Jerk?”

“Like a baby, Bitch.”

The brothers burst out into a light round of laughter at that, and Sam took Dean’s pack, leading him toward a beat-up, old school bus that was parked a few feet away.

“Apparently some people are already starting to head out, so Dad thought it would be easier going if we tagged along and caught a ride for the first part of the trip.” Sam called over his shoulder.

Dean eyed the bus warily. Gas and fuel were very hard to come by these days, so people rarely drove or rode anywhere. The last time he had ridden in a vehicle had been…

Dean froze, suddenly an overwhelming sense of panic flooding his system.

*Flashback*

The clamor from the passengers faded away into the background, with nothing but a forced silence and tense atmosphere.

The dusty junker of a school bus had disappeared and was replaced by six massive black and grey transport vehicles, a long line of men and women leading up to their open doors.

“SINGLE FILE LINES TO THE VEHICLES.

YOU WILL BE GIVEN A BRIEFING PACKET ON ENTRANCE.

REPORT TO YOUR CO IN EACH VEHICLE.

ANYONE WHO SPEAKS WILL BE ELIMINATED.

ESCAPEES WILL BE ELIMINATED.

TRAITORS WILL BE ELIMINATED.

CONSPIRATORS WILL BE ELIMINATED.

SINGLE FILE LINES TO THE VEHICLE….”

The overhead intercom blared loudly in Dean’s ears. He kept his head down, staring absently at his black and grey camo cargo pants, large combat boots crunching with each step.

No one was speaking, just shuffling in rhythm to their fate. No one wanted to be here. But it was still better than being in the Pit. Dean suppressed a shiver. He had just gotten out of there, after five years. Five years of torture. Five years of indoctrination that never really stuck. The demons had been pissed at him for never breaking, calling him “The Righteous Man”, even though he still just a boy.

He knew they were still suspicious of his loyalties, but his pretending of being submissive had finally gotten him out of there.

And brought here.

They were going to a warzone. Against Michael. The thought petrified him. He’d have to fight angels… He didn’t know if he even could. Sure, they had been trained mercilessly for months, and Dean had been quickly promoted to the advanced ops because of his natural fighting abilities… but still.

He was only seventeen.

And he was about to go to war.

He was petrified.

He could vaguely here Sam calling his name back to reality, the memory slowing fading from his vision, just as he heard the screaming from the women who had been caught as a traitor, farther down the line.

The guards rushing at her with death sticks slowly fading away, before the memory could continue.

Her screams echoed in his head as reality pulled him back to the present.

*Flashback End*

“Dean!”

Dean snapped his head over to look at Sam, who was standing at the entrance to the bus, staring at him in confusion. “You coming man?”

“Yep!” He trotted over to catch up. “Sorry Sammy, I still got that morning fog thing going on, not really awake yet.” He chuckled as Sam rolled his eyes at him.

They made their way to the back of the bus, joining John on the very last row. Dean’s father glared up at him as he approached. “Hello, Dean. Did you enjoy your night’s sleep?” He sneered.

Dean cocked his head is defiance as he lowered himself down to the seat next to Sam. “Yes, I did. Though you obviously didn’t.”

“Well, maybe that’s because I was up all night trying to figure out why my son who I haven’t seen in ten years, didn’t want to spend the night with his family right after reuniting with them?” John snapped at him, causing Sam to lower his eyes quietly.

Dean caught the look, and took a breath before responding, he didn’t want to fight in front of Sammy. “I just thought it might give us some time to process. It’s really not that big of deal.” He added a shrug as a additional diffuser.

John grunted in response, leaning back against his seat.

Dean glanced out the window, the bus slowly pulling away from the curb. He could see the outside world start to flash by faster and faster. The trees zipping by in a blur, the buildings on fast-forward. He could feel the panic growing as more memories started to filter back in. He gulped and quickly turned away from the window.

He really needed to get a grasp on this.

Giving Sam a side-long look, he decided to occupy his attention on something else. “So. The Citadel? Why are we going there?”

His father’s dark eyes glared at him in annoyance. “None of your business.” Sam glanced between the two of them, furrowing his brow in confusion.

“There’s someone there that Dad needs to meet,” Sam explained.

Dean nodded his head. He looked between his brother and father. Sam didn’t seem to know any more information than that, and John didn’t seem to want to give any more information than that. Alright then. He leaned his head back against the seat, closing his eyes. Might as well get some rest then.

 

---------------------

 

The next few hours were spent between napping and Sam telling Dean all about his life in the past ten years. Apparently, Sam and John had spent a few years in a small Midland town, before they got the warning that Michael was coming. After that, they started moving around a lot. The angels that had been tracking them that night had finally caught up with them. But instead of taking them in, John had somehow managed to work out a deal of some sort…

Sam hadn’t been able to give specifics, and John had been asleep, but it all sounded very sketchy to Dean. Apparently, John had been doing a lot of odd jobs for them lately, dragging Sam around with him, but not involving him in what was going on. Something that really frustrated Sam.

The youngest Winchester whispered to his brother how he thought that this trip to the Citadel had something to do with all of that.

Dean was inclined to agree.

He could feel his hackles rise on the back of his neck. Great. Now above everything else. John was working with Angels. That’s just dandy.

“Hey, Dean?”

“Yeah, Sammy?”

They were on their fourth bus by now, getting close to Angel territory. Dean would be lying if he said he wasn’t nervous. He shoved his shaking hands into his pockets, blocking his painful memories from his mind.

“Are you glad to see us again?”

Dean turned sharply to look at Sam. His little brother had big sad eyes, filled with worry and sadness. “Of course I am Sammy! Why would you think I’m not?”

“I don’t know… I just wanted to make sure…”

Dean felt his heart crack a little at Sam’s small voice. He pulled his brother into a hug, resting a chin on the boy’s bowed head. “Sammy… you have no idea how glad I am to have you back…” He clutched the lanky body in arms slightly tighter, “The memory of you kept me alive for ten years Sammy… of course I’m glad to see you.”

Sam sniffed quietly, burrowing his head into his big brother’s jacket.

“Sammy, look.”

Sam lifted his head to look out the window. There was a line of yellow trees starting to mix with the green outside.

“That’s Michael’s territory.”

Sam looked up at Dean, “How do you know?”

Dean pursed his lips together but didn’t respond. He swallowed thickly before looking down at Sam giving a quirk of a smirk.

“Trust me. I know.”

Chapter Text

The feeling of chaos is what hit Dean first.

It was so thick he could literally feel it wash over his body. The noises around him sounded like he was underwater, the shattering boom of bombs going off and the screams of his fellow men were almost muted in his ears. He tried lifting his face out of the mud to see what was going on, but his head felt heavy and full of led, the blood dripping into his eyes kept him from seeing barely anything anyways.

The strain became overpowering as he let himself collapse back unto the blackened ground he had passed-out on in the first place. He could feel himself slipping in and out of unconsciousness, time seemingly far out of his reach.

Another bomb went off.

It was close.

The aftershock seemed to yank him back to semi-awareness, allowing him to blink his eyes open weakly.  The noises of what was going on around him were slightly clearer now.

He wished they weren’t.

Dean slowly became aware of voices distinguishing themselves from the chaos. Almost as if two people were walking towards him. He tried not to panic, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, relaxing his body to blend in with the corpses that littered the ground. Their desperate conversation began to filter into Dean’s mind as he lay there.

“This war was supposed to be us against DEMONS! Not HUMANS!! Why is Michael ordering us to massacre God’s greatest creations!?? THEY ARE INNOCENTS!”

“Shut your mouth with this insolence! These humans are in alliance with Lucifer so by hurting them we hurt him. Why do their lives even matter to you?! They are mud monkeys! Not even worthy of our acknowledgment except in their destruction!”

“You are truly led astray if you believe that, my brethren.”

“It is not I who is in the wrong state mind on thi-… Oh look, I think that one’s still alive.”

THWACK!

Dean nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound, his eyes flying open by their own volition. He immediately caught sight of the two angels, one of them removing his blade from his fellow soldier’s now severed head.

He could see the outlining shadows of their enormous wings against the flashing night sky. Glancing over at the second angel, he froze.

His eyes were locked with a vibrant blue gaze, eyes shining brightly with power and angelic grace. It felt as though the angel was looking through his eyes, passed his body, and into his very soul.

He was going to die.

There was a brief beat of stillness, then the blue-eyed angel turned to his compatriot and jerked his head in the opposite direction of where Dean was laying.

“Come Uriel, it is time we headed back to command.”

Dean’s muscles relaxed from their tensed position as he watched the two beings depart. The one with the blue eyes never glancing back, purposefully not acknowledging Dean’s existence.

Then not a minute later he felt a hand on his shoulder, gripping him tightly. “Come on brother, you still with me? Dean?” When Dean nodded numbly in response, he felt himself being hauled to his feet and an arm wrapped around his waist. “We’re falling back brother, we ain’t winning this one today.”

“Mm’kay.”

 

------------------

 

Dean woke with a start.

His eyes flying open and his muscles tensed. He could feel his breath sucking in and out of his lungs at a near-painful speed. Slowly he allowed his eyes to adjust to the darkened room he was lying in, habitually taking stock of his surroundings.

Motel. He was in a motel.

Glancing over to the right, the long body of Dean’s little brother could just be made out under the lump of excessive covers and blankets on the nearby bed. On the bed beside that one lay his father, much in the same state of unconsciousness.

Dean lifted himself to seated from his position on the couch, stretching out the crick in his neck. He remembered fondly the fight Sam had put up last night at him having to sleep there and not in one of the beds, but Dean had refused to share one with Sam, knowing his nightmares would wake the boy.

Dean glanced at his watch, absently running a hand across his face.

3:45 AM

Suppressing a groan, the middle Winchester made his way over to the kitchenette, praying for a cup of coffee strong enough to wipe his exhaustion away for a bit. While waiting for his cup, Dean glanced around the small, dark room almost in fondness. He remembered staying in motels when he was little. The squished living space that somehow felt safe and comfortable, sleeping side-by-side with his family.

He had been living in barracks and even jail cells for so long…

Quickly blinking away the memories, he grabbed the coffee and made his way outside, leaning leisurely against the outside wall. The next three hours were spent staring at the sky.

 

-----------------------

 

“Dean?”

“Dean!”

The motel door was thrown open as Dean’s long-limbed moose-of-a-brother stumbled outside. “Dean! There you are!” Clear relief washed over the young man as he spotted his older brother. He made his way to plop down next to him on the cracked sidewalk. “What are you doing out here?”

Dean silently shrugged a shoulder, still watching his gangly brother in amusement.

Sam fiddled with his hands for a second before looking back over at his brother. “I was afraid you’d left us, for a second there…”

The amusement drained Dean’s face as the words sunk in. His brother was still worried he’d lose him again. Not that Dean was really shocked by the misinterpretations of his feelings towards his family. There was no doubt that he had been withdrawn and quiet around them. Although more so silently angry with John.

He sighed, slinging an arm around Sam’s shoulders to pull his brother in closer. “I’m sorry Sam. I know I’ve been kinda withdrawn, I just… I’m processing a lot right now. You know? Getting away from Lucifer, running into you and John after ten years… it’s a lot.” He tilted his head to catch Sam’s gaze. “But I’m not going anywhere, okay? I made you a promise. And I don’t break those.”

Sam nodded silently, lowering his eyes.

The dejected look was really hurting Dean’s soul. He just wanted to make his little brother smile again. He hated knowing that his issues were affecting Sam. Dean took a deep breath before turning back to his brother. Time to fake till you make it.

“So, Dad said that we wouldn’t be able to cross over into Angel Territory until after dark. You want to go hang out till then? Just you and me?”

The shaggy brown head popped up in excitement, “Really?!”

“Yeah, man. We’re like two miles away from a city, let’s head over there and see if we can find some fun!” The teasing grin that managed to slide unto his face made him proud of his acting abilities, he might have even been able to make his eyes shine with this one.

“I’ll go tell Dad we’re heading out!” The little moose leapt to his feet and sprinted inside.

It only took about ten minutes for Sam to convince John to let them go, Dean waiting patiently outside while his brother dealt with negotiations. He took advantage of the moment to steel himself against the amount of happy pretense he’d have to put up today.

Within twenty minutes they were on the road to civilization.

 

--------------

 

The brothers weren’t sure exactly what the name of this city was, but they were pretty sure “Den of Iniquity” would be an accurate title.

It wasn’t even ten o’clock yet, but all the bars and strip clubs had already opened and filled to the brim with occupants. Apparently apocalypses drove people to drink more. Who knew?

There were tall skyscraper buildings lining the main strip, which Sam eyed warily, hoping the decrepit things wouldn’t collapse on them. Without a doubt, this place must have been very impressive before the War, but now the description of “shady” was a gross understatement, and it was only early morning.

“Alright!” Dean called out, slapping his hands together in glee, “Where do you want to start?”

A raised eyebrow was the first response he received before Sam finally glanced around and spotted a breakfast-ish looking diner farther down the road. “Why don’t we start there? Grab some breakfast. I’m starving.”

Dean’s playful grin wavered for a moment before he bowed low and swept his arm out dramatically, “Lead the way little brother. Lead the way.”

Flashing his brother a mischievous smile, Sam asked, “Race ya there?”

Before Dean could respond, Sam was sprinting towards the diner, his laughter floating behind him. Chuckling to himself, Dean followed in pursuit, making sure to not let himself run quite as fast as his little brother.

Sam swerved past a young couple and creamed straight into an elderly lady, scrambling to his feet and throwing apologies over his shoulder as he continued his sprint. Dean genuinely laughed at the shocked and horrified look on the woman’s face.

Sam managed to just barely make it to the diner before Dean skidded to a stop beside him.

“Ha! Beat ya!”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever Sasquatch. I’m just impressed you managed to control those bambi limbs enough to not hit every old lady on the way here.” Dean laughed, noting Sam’s reddening face.

“I still beat you.” Sam mumbled pretending to look hurt.

Scoffing, Dean just rolled his eyes and opened the diner’s door, “After you, fine champion.”

After ordering breakfast, Sam inhaling his eggs and bacon, Dean picking at his soggy waffles, they made their way over to one of the clubs. Nowadays, no one really checked ID anymore, so long as you didn’t look like a child, no one asked questions. And Sam being only eighteen didn’t even cause an eyebrow raise.

The bar was packed, people dancing in a sweaty haze on the open floor, small amounts of fresh air wafting through the large shattered windows that lined the front wall. About five fist fights broke out in a span of ten minutes, but Dean just grinned and whispered to Sam, “Well sure is my kinda place. Classy..”

They ordered a couple of beers, flirted with a couple of women, and also men in Dean’s case but Sam didn’t comment on that. The next few hours were filled with a lot of obnoxious laughter and stale ale, but Sam had to admit, he had fun.

By the time they were headed back to the motel, the tipsiness had faded to a light buzz as the boys walked in companionable silence.

“Dean?”

“Yeah, Sammy?” Dean replied, glancing over to his right.

“Thank you.”

Dean felt a swell in his chest and boy did he want to pull a chick-flick move right now. But instead, he just smirked and said, “Anytime little brother. Anytime.”

Chapter Text

Dean hated forests.

Freaking roots.

Damn branches.

Dirt. Mud. Scratches. Scrapes. Shadows. Darkness.

Freaking nature mazes from a horror film. That’s what forest where. Stupid forests. Dean hated forests.

Dean thwacked a loose tree branch from in front of his face and ducked under a low-hanging limb. He puffed his breath out from his lungs, watching the small cloud form in front of him in the cold night air. He could see John just up ahead, carving his way through the Angel forest on some sort of invisible path. Sammy was just behind him, his long hair dampened by sweat and clinging to his forehead and back of his neck.

Even Sammy, boy sunshine up there, was starting to swear under his breath as he stumbled on tree roots and tripped over bushes. It would have been comical to Dean if he hadn’t been in the same situation himself.

Fucking forests.

“So how much longer in this place? We’ve been trudging through here for over two days.”

Dean could practically hear John roll his eyes at the whine, “We’re almost done. A couple more hours and we’ll hit a cabin with a friend of mine who’ll sneak us in. We should be there by morning.”

Sam huffed in response, scuffing his foot on a pile of dirt and stumbling in the process. “Oh yeah? And how is this friend of yours going to sneak us into the most heavily guarded city on the planet?”

Biting his tongue to point out how Lucifer’s capital was probably ten times more heavily guarded, that place was basically a glorified penitentiary, Dean tilted his head to hear his father’s muttered response.

“He has his ways. Don’t worry.”

Sam scoffed, “Oh, well then. I feel so much better.”

Dean wondered if the days of traipsing through a dense forest was finally getting to his little brother, or if maybe Dean’s attitude toward his father was getting picked up by Sam. He hoped it was the former. Though he had to admit, it was amusing to see Sam without his blind obedience.

--------

They continued on this way for a couple more hours before Dean had another flashback. He had been having them a lot lately and had somehow managed to not alert his father and brother to his episodes. Normally it was just a few seconds here and there, little triggers of images or sounds. He rarely saw full-on scenes unless he was sleeping and having a nightmare.

At first, Dean hadn’t been bothered by them. He figured it was normal. Just escaping from Hell on Earth and all that. But… they were starting to become more vivid. More invasive. He felt like over the past few days he had begun to lose a little control. But it was fine. Everything was fine.

This one wasn’t even that bad.

Dean heard a coyote howling in the distance and just like that, his mind was gone.

 

*Flashback*

Dean leaned his head back against the wall of the transport vehicle’s interior. He closed his eyes as the vehicle turned onto an especially bumpy road, jostling them in their seats.

Benny was sitting across from him, rambling on about how he had pinned down a lieutenant angel in one of the skirmishes last week. His voice drifting soothingly into Dean’s ears over the roar of the engine.

Then his eyes snapped open.

“What was that?”

Benny looked up at him and all the other soldiers went silent.

There it was again.

Howling.

The hellhounds were upset. Something was wrong. Someone was coming.

 The overhead speakers blared loudly with instructions for preparing for an attack. Dean and Benny rushed to grab their rifles, load up ammo, and pull on their packs and helmets.

“You think it’s angels?” Dean turned to look at a man beside him in his mid-forties who was fidgeting with his rifle nervously, eyes darting back and forth.

“Probably.” Dean muttered, shifting back to face the back exit of the truck and feeling his shoulders tens in anticipation.

The howling from the hellhounds in the truck behind them was growing frantic and he could feel their vehicle starting slow. Apparently, they were making a stance against their attackers. Wonderful.

He glanced over at Benny, who was standing beside him, running his hand up and down his rifle. Up and down. Up and down. His breathing forcibly controlled and rhythmic. Dean felt his heart rate speed up and blood starting to pound in his ears.

They were about to fight.

He felt the vehicle come to a complete stop and his breathing hitched. His eyes were blinking rapidly as he shifted into a ready stance.

The back entrance slowly started to lift up, light from the outside filtering into their eyes.

And then the screaming started.

 

*Flashback End*

 

“Dean! Hey! Dean!”

Dean snapped back to reality as Sam started calling his name. His memories fading into the background and the forest taking shape once more around him.

“Dean? You okay their dude? You’re kinda lagging behind.”

Dean glanced up at Sam who was quite a few feet ahead of him now, watching him with a slightly concerned expression. “I’m good! Just tired. I think this forest is getting to me.” Dean let out a light laugh and jogged to catch up with his brother.

“Oh, okay. Just checking...”

Dean gave him a grin and slapped him on the back, “No worries little brother.” He walked a few more steps before he felt a headache coming on quickly. “Actually, I’m gonna go take a quick leak. You go on ahead, I’ll catch up in a sec.”

Sam nodded as Dean headed quickly off into the bush. His headache was getting worse and there was a blinding pain behind his eyes. He stumbled through the bushes, Sam fading away behind him. “What the fuck is going on with m-“

*Flashback*

The hellhounds were howling like mad and some of the soldiers farther down the line were already under attack. They were screaming and Dean felt his blood run cold.

He saw the angels coming out of the forest on either side of the road. Their angel blades flashing in the sun. He felt the men beside him surging forward in a charge.

There were several minutes of chaos and fighting before something caught Dean’s attention.

Or rather, someone.

The blue-eyed angel.

Dean froze and they stared at each other for a moment. It had been months since he had seen him at that battle, but they both clearly remembered the other.

Dean gave him a slight smirk and a nod before turning back to his own attacker. He didn’t know why he did that, and the angel looked equally perplexed as well. But Dean could have sworn he’d seen the angel’s lips quirk into a smile before Dean lost sight of him.

The skirmish only lasted a few more minutes before the angels retreated. Both sides took heavy casualties, but Dean breathed a sigh of relief when he didn’t see Blue Eyes among the fallen angel bodies on the road.

*End Flashback*

 

Dean straightened slowly, a wave of dizziness sweeping over him. He quickly wiped the sweat from his eyes. He swallowed down the rising vomit in his throat and clenching his shaking hands.

After taking a breath to calm himself he headed back to Sam.

He was worried about these flashbacks. But he didn’t have time for it. So, he was fine. Everything was fine. He just had a lot of bad memories. He was fine.

By the time he caught up with Sam and John, they had just caught sight of the cabin.

 

---------

 

“So you three idiots, free and independent men, you want to go into the Citadel? Michael’s capital? By choice?? Why?”

John huffed at the wiry old man in front of them. “The Why is my business. The How is yours. What’s your plan for getting us in?”

Joshua, the older man helping them, scrunched his mouth in disagreement. “There’s a tunnel underneath the city, that’s how you’ll enter in and how you’ll exit out. If everything goes smoothly, that is.”

Dean and Sam shifted their feet uncertainly. Dean had tried to pry information about this mission from their father but to no avail. He knew it involved him helping angels. Probably for a profit. But other than that, neither Dean nor Sam knew what they were doing here.

“Good. Let’s go now, we still have a couple of hours before daylight. I don’t want to waste another day.” John turned towards the door and stalked out of the room. The boys scrambled to finish their soup that Joshua had given them and grabbed their packs.

“You sure are a stubborn one, aren’t you?” Joshua sighed and followed John out the door.

The four of them piled into Joshua’s beat up truck and within a few minutes, they were standing at the tunnel’s entrance. It looked pretty under imposing, basically just a large sewer tunnel located in the decrepit brick wall that marked the outer edge of the city.

“This is a stupid idea.” Dean mumbled under his breath, staring at the dark entrance to the tunnel.

Sam glanced over at him, looking worried, “But it’s a beautiful city right? This will be pretty cool. Right?”

Dean offered him a forced grin and nodded, “Yeah, it’s beautiful. You’re going to love it, Sammy.” He looked over at John who was ignoring them and entering the tunnel. “We better head in before Dad leaves us in the dust.” Dean chuckled lightly.

Sam nodded smiling, “Yeah we probably should.”

Dean watched his little brother head in next before glancing back at Joshua before he went in himself, “Let’s hope we make it out of this place alive.”

Joshua nodded sagely, “Let’s hope.”

Chapter Text

Image

The first thing that hit Dean’s senses was the smell of sewage. Wonderful.

The tunnel was pitch-black dark, with no light source to be seen. The Winchesters could barely see their noses on their faces, let alone the path in front of them. They had no choice but to feel along the side of the wall as they walked, the slimy moss-covered wall that was lined with god-knows-what kind of gel film over top.

Between that and the smell of decomposing something in his nostrils, Dean was trying his best not to up-chuck his dinner right then and there.

“How long do we have to go through here Dad?” Sam’s voice was hushed as he tried to make his footsteps equally quiet. As much as he wanted to imagine that this was an epic adventure, he was also old enough to know that if they got caught down here, especially with no ID papers, they would probably end up dead.

“Only a couple miles.” Was the gruff reply.

A few minutes later, Dean felt something large and furry scurry over his boot and he froze eyes wide. There was a small squeaking noise that was coming from close to the ground and Dean bit his lip to keep from whimpering.

He could fight angels. He could fight demons. He could take on a pack of hellhounds and not even blink. But god help him…. He was terrified of rats.

“Dean you still there?”

“Mhmm.”

He felt another one brush past him, and he took a deep breath to collect himself. He didn’t notice that Sam had stopped to wait for him, or that his little brother was totally aware of his fear of rodents. But he did notice when Sam started slowly pulling him forward to continue moving on.

Fucking rats.

They traveled through the underground tunnel for another hour or two, Dean sending up prayers for deliverance from the rats every five minutes. So, by the time they made it to the tunnel exit, the three Winchesters were very much so ready to get out.

The opening into the city consisted of a rusted-over metal ladder that led up top to a manhole placing them in an alley of a side street.

They had made it.

“Well, this is… interesting.” Sam muttered, gazing around the back-alley that they were now standing in. “I thought this place was supposed to be filled with glass skyscrapers and diamond gates and crap.”

Dean wasn’t sure if it was possible for an eighteen-year-old to look like a disappointed toddler, but Sam was definitely giving it his best try. There was a slight pouty lip and everything.

“Mmmm, never really bought into the whole ‘Pearly Gates’ thing, but yeah, I would have thought it would have been nicer than this…” John replied, gazing into the street that didn’t look much better than the alley. There was mud and trash filling the road and ragged clothes hanging from lines between buildings. The roadway was narrow and cramped, lined by rundown buildings with boarded up windows.

“This place is a dump…” Sam whispered, wrinkling his nose.

John stopped and turned to look back at Dean, who was standing very still with his lips pursed and his brow creased. “You’re very quiet. Want to share with the class?”

Dean’s gaze shot over to his father. “This is not the angelic part of the Citadel.”

John tilted his head and narrowed his eyes, studying his eldest child. “What do you mean?”

The fair-haired man sighed, running a hand over his face, “Man, you guys really don’t know anything about this place, do you?” He glanced between the two of them, taking in their confused looks, before puffing out a breath and continuing on quickly, “In most parts of Michael’s territory, humans are put under strict rules and otherwise ignored. But here, there are things to be done, buildings to be maintained, and high-status angels to be served. In the Citadel, angels keep humans as slaves.”

Both Sam and John’s eyes widened in horror.

“Some angels keep personal slaves, they wait on them hand and foot, all day and every day. Other people are just used for general purposes, are collected when they’re needed…. they live here.”

“Angels use humans as slaves?! Are you kidding me???” Sam burst out, unable to keep in the outrage and shock any longer. His lips were trembling and his jaw quivered slightly.

It was like Dean could physically see a piece of innocence burn away from his brother. Damn, I’ve only been with him a week and already I’m corrupting him. Great job Dean.

“How do you know this?”

The question hit Dean smack in the chest, the force of which almost made him step back. His father hadn’t asked him anything about his experiences and his past this whole time they had been traveling. He cleared his throat and forced away the nausea building in his stomach.

“How do you not know this?” Dean threw back. “What? You have this masterplan to sneak in here, for who-knows-what reason, on this super-secret mission, probably pimping yourself out for some random angel and you don’t know basic information about this place?!” He was tired, his flashbacks had been haunting him in the tunnel, and now his baby brother was being thrown into the realities of the real world because of some mission John was dragging them on. He was so tired.

“Watch your tone, boy…” The warning low in John’s throat.

“No! Tell me what we’re even doing here! Huh?! What the hell is going on?” He would later berate himself for allowing so much emotion to show and losing control, but right now? He was so tired.

“That is none of your business, Dean!” John took a deep breath, calming himself, “The less you know, the better. This job is dangerous, and I don’t want you two involved.”

“Then why did you bring us here?” Sam’s voice cut into the argument, stilling both men for a moment.

“I- I need to keep you close, Sammy. Otherwise, how can I protect you?” John glanced over at a stiff Dean before turning back to Sam, “But that doesn’t mean that I can tell you everything about this.”

“Sometimes you don’t make a bit of sense, Dad.”

John chuckled softly at his youngest’s pinched face, “Don’t I know it.” He glanced out the alley once more before turning back to look at Dean, “So is this macho-fest done? Or do we have to start pulling punches in the middle of enemy territory to get you to fall in-line?”

Dean lifted his chin in defiance, “You didn’t answer my question.”

John bit back a small smile, “And I’m not going to.” He lifted his pack on to his shoulder and headed into the street, Sam and a begrudging Dean following behind.

-----------

There were very few people on the streets, just a figure here and there huddled in a corner. None of them spoke to them or even acknowledged them. John kept checking street signs, quickly weaving them closer and closer to the center of the city.

It wasn’t long before they came to a low stone wall separating where the humans lived and where the angels lived. Dean had picked them up some ragged slave clothes on the way there, having everyone change to blend in before they entered the main city.

When they passed through the gates to enter the city center, all three Winchesters let out silent gasps.

It was beautiful.

“Oh my god…”

There were clear crystal skyscrapers reaching toward the sky lining broad and spotless streets. There were thousands, maybe even millions, of angels. Running here. Flying there. Their wings were fully visible and unfurled.

And wow, were they magnificent.

Dean had never angel wings that weren’t covered in mud and damaged by war. But these, they were gorgeous. So many different colors, all reflecting the sunlight and groomed to perfection.

Dean hated angels with a passion, that much was certain. But their wings? Perhaps after a few shots, the man might admit that he had a “thing” for wings. Maybe even a kink, if he was feeling frisky.

“Dude, holy crap. Look at these buildings…”

Dean glanced over to see Sam gazing wide-eyed around him, unbelief written on his face.

Sam could care less about the angels or their wings, what had captured his attention was the city as a whole. It was the most modernized place he’d ever seen. After traipsing through the slaves’ quarters, this part of the city made him feel as though he was stepping into the future.

“This is incredible…”

“Boys, we need to get moving. Enough with the star-struck looks okay? Let’s blend in. The building we need to go to is just down the street.”

Sam and Dean dutifully followed their father’s lead and blended in with a group of slave workers shuffling toward a construction site in the same direction.

“Hey, Dean?” Sam whispered to his brother as they shuffled in rhythm with the others. A sort of gloomy mood had seemed to suddenly overtake him, as though a particular thought had just been realized.

“Yeah, Sam?”

“I just… I don’t know, I just I thought that…” Sam dropped his head slightly in embarrassment. “I just thought that angels were supposed to be the good guys? You know? They’re powerful and righteous. Warriors of god and all that. I mean, I know they’ve hurt us, and they were even hunting us that one time, but… I just thought that those were a couple of bad eggs. You know? But-but this… they enslave humans…” His eyes seemed to get watery, denial at the tears vivid on his face as he turned to his brother beside him. “Angels aren’t good guys. Are they Dean?”

If Dean still had an unbroken piece of his heart left at this point in his life, it shattered right then.

“No, Sammy…. They aren’t.” The look of pain on Sam’s face at the loss of his childhood ideals was tearing through to his soul. He wished he could say something, anything to make his brother feel better. But all the experiences he had with angels involved when they were trying to kill him.

And then it hit him.

Blue Eyes.

“But… not all of them are bad, Sammy.” Dean laid a hand on Sam’s shoulder as they continued walking.

“Really?” Damn, Sam was doing a fantastic puppy impression, and it was killing Dean.

“Yeah. Really. An angel even saved my life once.” Dean tried not to choke on his words, the thought of Blue Eyes was bringing up all sorts of memories, good and bad.

Sam’s eyes went wide, and a little bit of sunshine returned to his face. “Are you serious?! What happened??” Dean scuffed his shoe against the pavement.

“I’ll tell you some other time. But, he-he saved me. So, not all angels can be bad, now can they?” Dean finished with a grin, flashing his white teeth at Sam in what he prayed would be a hopeful smile.

“I guess not.” Sam returned the grin, “That’s good to know.” He nudged his brother with his shoulder fondly. “Thanks for telling me, Dean.”

“Of course. Never stop looking on the bright side, little brother. You got to keep the sunshine in my life.” Dean laughed and that scrunched face Sam made.

“Dude. That was so chick-flicky.”

Dean just laughed at his little brother embarrassment, feeling a small spark of joy in his soul.

--------------

A few minutes later, the three Winchester had parted from the downtrodden group of humans and made their way to the back of one of the tall buildings.

“Stay here. Don’t talk to anyone, don’t even look at anyone. I’ll be back soon.” John turned to go as he felt a hand reach out and grab his arm lightly. He turned to see a begrudged Dean squinting at him.

“You, uh, you sure you don’t any back-up on this? You said yourself, this job was dangerous.”

John hid the small smile that twitched at his lips and shook his head, “Nah. I got this. You stay here.” He glanced over at his youngest child. “And watch out for Sammy.”

--------

John made his way through the building’s back stairwell, inputting codes when necessary that he had been given before by his employer.

Sure, he was nervous.

He had no idea what to expect. The small-time angel that had contacted him as a messenger had barely been a threat. But this guy? He had no idea what to expect. He really really hoped this wasn’t a trap. Dean would never let him live it down.

Finally, he reached the door with the correct number, knocking thrice, then twice, then four slow knocks. The door swung open and presented a young angel girl, black raven hair and smoldering dark eyes.

“Come in. Human.

John ignored the shiver that ran up his spine and followed her into a lobby-type looking room. She told him to wait there, then disappeared past an adjoining door.

Five minutes later, she returned and gestured for him to go inside.

“He will see you now.”

John slowly walked through the door, hearing the girl close it behind him. The room inside was white and spotless, but pornographic art hung on the wall, almost like an affront to the implied angelic purity of the room’s design.

An angel with golden brown wings was lounging in a reclining chair in the corner of the room, reading from what looked to be a skin mag.

“Hey there, Johnny boy.”

John forced the shake from his voice before he spoke, his nerves racked up to a ten. “Hello…sir.”

Twin, round, whiskey-colored eyes rose to meet John’s gaze.

“Please. Call me Gabriel.”

Chapter Text

“What do you think he’s doing up there? Do you think he’ll be back soon? How long will we have to wait down here?”

Dean rubbed a hand across his face and groaned. His little brother had been going non-stop for the last two hours with his questions, and Dean was nearing the end of his patience.

“I don’t know Sam.”

Sam crossed his arms in a huff, glaring at his unhelpful brother. His feet were sore, and his head was aching. Not to mention the fact that now that they had finally made it to the Citadel, all his time in the wondrous city was being spent in sewer tunnels and an alley behind a building. Sam was having a rough day. He gave Dean another glare for good measure before something suddenly caught his eye.

“What is that?”

Dean, who was in the middle of doing a careful scanning around the area, rolled his eyes. “What is what, Sam?”

“That. On your arm.”

Dean’s eyes snapped over to Sam before quickly dropping down to his arm. He cursed quietly under his breath. When they had changed into slave clothes to blend in, Dean had forgotten to grab something with long sleeves.

“Don’t worry about it, Sam.”

“What the hell…” Sam grabbed a hold of Dean’s arm before the elder Winchester had a chance to pull away, and Sam stared down at the object of his focus, Dean cussing at him in the background. Stretching across the full length of Dean’s forearm was a brand, red and welting, burned into his skin. It was a design of two crossed assault rifles crowned by twin, long, twisting horns above them.

Lucifer’s Legion.

“Jesus, Dean. Is this….” Sam swallowed thickly, glancing back up to Dean’s averted eyes. “Dean, were you… Did you fight in Lucifer’s army?”

“Not by choice.” Dean was willing his voice not to crack. He had almost forgotten that his brother wasn’t aware of the details of his time in demon territory. And now that he thought about it, he really wished it had stayed that way. He could see the betrayal in Sam’s eyes and the hurt in his expression. Like Dean had just driven a knife through his heart.

“How could you, Dean? How could you serve…Lucifer!?” Sam’s voice was raising a pitch and anger was mixing with panic in his voice.

“I didn’t have a choice Sam.” Dean hissed. “You have no idea what happened back then. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Then tell me! Help me understand! Dean, the stories I’ve heard of that place… all this time I thought you had been tortured for ten years, but… but no, you were just lounging around in Lucifer’s barracks! Doing god-knows what to god-knows how many innocents! It’s like I don’t even know you! I can’t believe y-“

“Alright, that’s enough!” Dean grabbed Sam’s shoulder and gave a little shake for good measure. “I’m going to try and explain this to you, but I need you to grow up for a second and not be so self-righteously closeminded.”

“But you-“

“Shush! I was tortured, Sam. For a very long time. Until the point when I realized that the only way I’d ever get out of there was if I pretended to play along. That’s what most of us there had to do. The others just ended up dead. So, yes. I fought for Lucifer’s side. But I never killed innocents. Even when I had orders to. And I paid for that. But I did kill angels, that I don’t feel so bad about.”

Sam was starring at him with big, wide eyes and Dean felt himself sag under the weariness of the topic.

“Sam… in that world, every day was a nightmare. Every minute, of every hour, of every day, I wanted to die. The things that were done to me and by me… there aren’t words… there’s no making it better. Because it is right here. Forever. And it has never stopped haunting me since the moment I escaped.”

Silence.

Dean hung his head and sighed, heading over towards a trash bin behind the building. He mindlessly began sifting through the junk inside, until he felt a light hand on his shoulder.

“Dean, I’m sorry…”

Dean pulled out an abandoned long-sleeved flannel from the bin, slipping it on and effectively hiding the brand before turning back to Sam. “Do you understand at least a little bit of what I’m saying?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

Sam watched as Dean sat himself down on the steps leading up to the back door, his head rested against the railing, eyes closed. His face was lined with creases of stress, past and present. His hair cut just slightly too short to be typical for a civilian. His nails were cracked and knuckles permanently bruised, and scars littered even the small portions of skin still visible. His frame, even though now relaxed, still showed off the lean muscular build on his tall frame, but almost too lean, as though he was still recovering from some past starvation and malnutrition. His expression just a little too hard and his features just a little too sharp.

Sam had assumed that after all this time, his brother hadn’t changed from the twelve-year-old boy he remembered a decade ago.

It was only now that he was beginning to realize that was not in the least bit true.

 

-----------------------------------------

 

“So, John, what do you say?”

John Winchester stared at the Archangel before him in disbelief, eyes wide and mouth slightly slacked. “You can’t be serious. This is what you want me to do??? It’s insane!”

“Listen to me, John. Jo. Jimmy boy. We have a solid operation going here, this Underground that we are building will take down both Michael and Lucifer, the rest of us humans and angels can live in peace and get back to the times of bliss and fornications.”

“It’s not your Underground that I have a problem with. It’s the mission that you’re sending me on to support your “Underground”.” Winchester crossed his arms over his chest and felt the lines in his face deepen into a frown. “It’s reckless.”

Gabriel was silent for a moment. “He’s my little brother. Wouldn’t you do anything for family?”

 

--------------------------

 

 

Dean rubbed the heels of his hands into his forehead. He could feel another flashback coming on. His head was pounding, and there was a constant throbbing in the base of his neck. He groaned and rubbed deeper.

Sam was already looking at him weird and he wasn’t sure how he was going to hide this one from his brother, there was no where to sneak away. Great. First he has to tell him about serving Lucifer, now he has to tell him about having severe PTSD or schizophrenia or screws loose, or whatever this was that was going on with him.

He felt a sharp pain knife through his head, making him gasp out loud. A ringing filled his ears and the pressure in head began to overload his brain. He couldn’t hold back the loud moaning that was being forced from him as Sam rushed over to see what was wrong.

Then everything went white.

*Flashback*

There were angels streaming into the alley, rifles raised and angel blades to bare. One of them grabbed Sam, another grabbed Dean.

There was yelling and fighting, and someone socked Dean right in the nuts, crumpling him to the ground. He felt an angel touch his shoulder as he started to get back up.

Thousands of volts of electricity ran through his body from the angel’s touch.

Then…

Nothing.

*Flashback End*

“Dean! Dean wake up for me man. Dean!”

“Ughfghfhh”

“Oh thank god. Dude, you had like a seizure or something. Are you okay?! What’s going on??”

He could hear Sam panicking, but Dean was just trying to worry about breathing at this point. That flashback… wasn’t a flashback. That wasn’t a memory.

What the hell.

Dean felt his heart racing as he pushed himself to his feet. That…vision…. whatever, had taken place here. In the alley where Sam and Dean were currently standing….

“There, look!”

A shout echoed from the other side of the alley entrance.

“They work for Loki! Take them!”

Dean looked up and saw… his vision. Unfolding just as he’d seen it only a few moments before. Being surrounded, by a dozen or so angels in combat gear.

The same fighting, punching, being grabbed, getting kicked in the nuts.

Everything was happening too fast and Dean couldn’t think straight enough to anticipate what happened next.

He felt the angel touch his shoulder.

He felt the volts travel through his body.

He heard Sammy screaming his name.

Darkness flooded into his vision dragging him into unconsciousness and all he could think was: What the hell just happened?

 

---------------------------------------------

 

“John, please. I need you to reconsider.”

“I can’t help you Gabriel, what you're asking of me is far too dangerous. I’m not going on this stupid miss-“

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

Gabriel sighed, “Come in!”

The young angel from earlier dashed into the room, looking terrified and pale. “Gabe, they found us! They’re grabbing the two boys waiting outside and they’ll be up here next!”

“FUCK!” Gabriel launched to his feet and start throwing papers into folders, piling files into a box, clearing out his desk, his assistant doing the same. Both of them frenzied and urgent.

“Who’s they? Wait, the boys outside? They have my boys?! Gabriel! What’s going on!” John could feel a wave of panic and anxiety flood through him at the thought of his boys being taken. Again.

Gabriel grabbed the last of the papers and turned back to John, placing a hand on his shoulder. Instantly the three of them were transported to somewhere that was most decidedly not the high-rise office they had just been in.

 “WHAT THE HELL! TAKE ME BACK!!”

 

--------------------------------

 

The angel guard dragged the unconscious human through the prison halls. The mud and blood that mixed into the floor’s filth was probably soaking into the human’s clothes. Good.

Ishim glared over at the other, younger human that Maribelle was dragging behind her. What wimps. Ishim was tired, he just wanted his break to hurry up and be here already. That, and he wished the prisoners would stop with the wailing and screaming. Weaklings.

“Put them in here.” Ishim nodded to Maribelle as he pulled out his keys and open the designated cell door. The metaled, sigil-engraved door creaked open and shined a sliver of light into the room inside.

Ishim threw Dean’s boneless body into the cell, his fellow angel doing the same with the other human. Then he glanced over at the third occupant already perched in the cell, glaring daggers at Ishim with his glowing blue eyes, wings held clenched closely to his body.

Ishim just smiled before slamming the door, “Behave now, you three.”  

Chapter Text

 The prison cell was putrid.

Everything about it revolted against his senses: the filmy slime that covered the stone walls, the stench of human excrements and feces left rotting from the cell’s previous owners, even the small crack of dim light shining in from the door’s miniscule, barred window into the hall was beginning to become an overload to his senses after being in the dark so long.

The sigils carved into the door and walls put any ever-present, suffocating pressure on his angelic form within his vessel. His wings were damaged and causing a shooting pain to travel throughout his back. The cell was too cramped for him to stretch them out fully so there was a constant stiffness that irritated him to no end.

Castiel stared over at the humans lying unconscious on the ground.

The younger one seemed of little interest. He bore no great scars, at least of what Castiel could see, and his face seemed untroubled in sleep. No traumatizing life to have nightmares about then.

But the other one…

The angel cocked his head in a bird-like contemplation.

He looked so familiar… Castiel’s eyes narrowed in on the young man’s forearm, just making out Lucifer’s brand peaking through his torn sleeve. Castiel’s eyes widened in recognition and darted back to the man’s face.

He remembered years ago, before being imprisoned, back on the battlefield. Protecting the man from Uriel and later seeing him in a skirmish. He wasn’t sure what it had been about the young man, barely more than a boy when he had first seen him, that caught his sympathies and respect with the young man seeming to return those feelings himself.

There was very little respect involved in war, and even less sympathy, which was why the man had staid so memorable.

But that was a long time ago, and the boy had grown into a man in those short few years. Castiel could see the nightmares written on his face and…

Castiel furrowed his brow.

And… there was something else. Something almost… he squinted at the man. Something almost… psychic?

Castiel tilted his head once more in confusion. That hadn’t been there before. What had happened to this man to change him so unnaturally?

Before he could continue that line of thought, however, the younger one began to stir, groaning and whimpering in pain and confusion. The younger man lifted himself up onto his elbows and rubbed his head fiercely. After a few minutes he eventually looked up and finally caught sight of Castiel sitting perched on his haunches on a cot hanging from the wall.

The young man nearly jumped out of his skin and yelped in surprise, but quickly and also clumsily tried to school himself, while Castiel simply stared.

“Um, hi. Sorry, I didn’t see you there.”

Castiel didn’t respond. He was still puzzled as to why they were there. He had originally thought that perhaps they were spies from Lucifer that had been caught, but even though that would make sense with the older one, the younger one bore no brand. It was curious.

“Um.. I’m Sam. What uh, what’s your name?”

“Castiel. I’m an Angel of the Lord.”

Sam startled at this. Apparently the human’s eyes had not yet adjusted to the darkness enough to see the outline of Castiel’s raven black wings.

“Y-you’re an angel? What are you doing in here? You’re-what? Like our own personal jailer or something? Here to make sure we don’t break-out?”

The young man, Sam, seemed agitated and not very observant.

“I am a prisoner. Not a jailer.”

“Why would angels lock up their own people in here? Why should I believe you? You don’t make any sense.” Sam pushed himself to sitting up against the wall, crossing his arms, and raising his chin in self-righteous defiance.

“Your beliefs are of no concern to me. Think what you will.”

Sam frowned at him and continued to hold his gaze with distrust a moment more before the other man’s unconscious form finally caught his attention.

“Shit! Dean!”

So that was the human’s name…

“Dean! I need you to wake up for me bro.” Sam shook his brother lightly and then again slightly harder. There was no response aside from a light moan. He turned to Castiel with anger in his eyes, “Why won’t he wake up?! What did you asses do to him?!”

Castiel slowly stood from his perched position and slid off the cot, crouching down next to Dean. He placed his hand hovering over the still form. “They surged his body with divine force. Similar to electrocution, essentially. They must have deemed him a liable threat, otherwise they merely would have put him to sleep, as they did with you.”

Sam eyes widened, “Will he be okay?”

“He will be in pain when he awakes, but otherwise fine. But it will take longer to become conscious.” Castiel cast one last troubled gaze before standing upright and turning his focus back on Sam. He was curious, “How do you two know each other?”

Sam assessed him for a moment before sighing and letting his body relax slightly, “He’s my brother.”

“Interesting.”

Sam glared at him, “Yeah, so if you try anything on him, I will rip your wings off myself.”

“Were you also enlisted into Lucifer’s Legion?”

“Wh-what?”

 

---------------------------------------------------------

 

“THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! YOU SHOULD HAVE WARNED ME THAT AN ASSOCIATION WITH YOU WOULD ENDANGER MY BOYS!”

Gabriel rubbed the sides of his forehead against what he assumed was a coming migraine. “I already told you, many times, that I am sorry. Sam and Dean were not supposed to get caught in the crossfire.”

“Yeah, fat lot of good your apologies do now!”

“Well, at least this will motivate you to go on that mission, find the location of Michael’s high-security prison, and bust out my brother, because chances are, that’s where your boys are now too.”

John glared at the archangel with more hatred and loathing than should even be possible for a human to express, “Fuck you.”

“Look, they know that ‘Loki’, my cover identity, is running the Underground, but they don’t know that Loki is me yet, so I still have influence and connections. We’ll figure this out.”

“We better.”

 

----------------------------------------------------

 

“Were you also enlisted into Lucifer’s Legion? Like your brother.” Castiel repeated.

“What do you mean?” The startled boy replied.

“You do not have the brand of Lucifer’s soldiers as your brother does. I was merely curious.”

“Oh, right. The brand. Um, no I wasn’t.” Sam scoffed nervously, “For second I thought you knew him or something.”

“I do know him.”

Sam’s eyes bulged, “WHAT?”

“I do not know him well, but I do remember encountering him on the battlefield once, and on a skirmish later on. I saved his life when we first met by not disclosing his being alive to my compatriot. This all being before I was arrested and no longer supporting Michael.”

“Oh.” Sam replied, not quite knowing what to say for a moment, “Oh. Oh! You’re the one who saved his life! You’re the good angel!”

“The good angel?”

“Yes! He told me about you!”

“I don’t unders-“

Castiel’s confusion at the familiar address and sudden mood change of the boy was cut off as a loud groan was emitted from the elder brother, signaling his return to the world of the living. Dean’s face scrunched with pain and another low moan was released as he shifted slightly.

Sam was immediately crouched next to his brother’s form. The young man’s face began to lose its eager grin as Dean’s movements became more spastic and forceful.

“Dean, hey, take it easy dude.”

Castiel tilted his head and pressed his lips together grimly. “He is in pain.”

“Yeah, no shit, Sherlock. Those angels really put a whammy on him.”

“MMAAGHHuughhh!”

Sam held down Dean’s shoulders as the spasms turned into thrashing. “Dean, I need you to calm down, man. Okay?” All that he got in response was Dean arching his back and letting a reaching scream that Sam was sure would haunt his dreams after this.

“You need to not touch him.”

“What?!”

“The pain he is experiencing is akin to a constant current of a thousand volts of electricity coursing through his body. You touching him is causing him more pain.”

Before Sam could respond, Dean’s eyes cracked open slightly, flashing a terrified flush of green before rolling into the back of his head and his body began seizing.

“Shit!”

Sam quickly rolled Dean onto his side, Castiel crouching down to assist him as Dean continued to seize for two more minutes. His body twisting and arching with limbs flailing at his sides. A long string a drool was dripping from his open, but silent, mouth.

Castiel promised that the pain would only last at most, for another hour, trying his best to give reassurance to the young human. Probably failing, but at least he tried.

Sure enough, five seizures and forty-five minutes later, Dean’s body finally began to still. Sam pulled his brother close, willing the tears in his eyes to go away. He had never seen someone in so much pain before, and the fact that it had been his brother had made the experience horrific. Dean’s screams still echoed in Sam’s mind and he couldn’t help but wonder if that was he sounded like while being tortured in The Pit.

The thought made Sam shudder and he held Dean tighter, Dean’s back pressed against his chest. Even unconscious and in unsurmountable levels of pain, his big brother was still his greatest comfort.

Sam felt Dean shift slightly, body tensing with pain as the man finally opened his eyes jaw clenched in forced control. Sam breathed out a sigh of relief, “Hey, Dean. Welcome back.”

Dean hummed in response, closing his eyes again in exhaustion. “Yu’ ‘k, S’my?”

“Yeah, yeah I’m good. How’re you feeling?”

“L’ke m’ b’dy wus put ‘n a bl’nder”

Sam let out a relieved laugh, “I’m not surprised. Why don’t you try sleeping some more, the pain shouldn’t last much longer.” Sam glanced up at Castiel, who gave him a nod of affirmation.

Dean hummed again, and Sam felt his body relax as he slowly drifted off to sleep. Sam sighed and tucked his chin into the crook of his brother’s neck, closing his eyes in relief. It wasn’t long before Sam joined his brother in sleep.

Castiel watched the brothers curiously.

These two would definitely be an interesting addition in his life, Castiel had no doubt.

 

--------------------------------

 

Ishim lounged back lazily his rickety chair, boots propped up on a nearby table. He was probably just about to attempt a nap, the humans made it sound quite relaxing, when the jail office doors swung open abruptly as Uriel strode in.

“Have you begun interrogating the marked one yet?”

Ishim rolled his eyes and stretched his legs, “No. You idiots zapped him to high-heaven, I doubt he’ll even be conscious for another few hours.”

Uriel huffed in self-righteous irritation, causing Ishim to crack a small, satisfied grin.

“He bares the mark of Lucifer, I want to know what he knows, behind-the-lines information. Then I want to know his involvement with Loki. As soon as he is awake, drag him out of that cell and bringing him to my “workplace”.”

Ishim rolled his eyes once more and nodded as Uriel turn to leave. “Of course, of course. Your wish is my command... Asshole.”

 

----------------------------------------

 

The first thing that Dean became aware of was the stiffness in his muscles. Even the slightest movement felt sore. But at least this time he wasn’t in pain. Huh. Sam had been right.

Dean slowly pried himself from Sam’s sitting and dozing form. Making his way silently to his feet, stretching out his muscles and rejoicing in the relief it brought. His legs were still shaking, and he was a bit lightheaded, but all in all, Dean took it for a win.

“Hello Dean.”

Dean felt like he just about jumped out of his skin at the foreign voice. “Jesus!”

“No. My name is Castiel.”

Dean squinted at the cross-legged figure sitting straight-backed on one of the cots. “Right.” He noticed the large black shadows formed behind Castiel’s back. “You an angel, Cas?”

Cas tilted his head and frowned. “Yes, but my name is Castiel. I just told you.”

“Mhm. Right. And how do you know my name, Cas?” He squinted at Cas in the dim lighting of the prison cell. “You seem familiar.”

“Your brother told me your name. But as for the familiarity, we have encountered each other in the past. Once on the battlefield, once in a skirmish.” Cas flashed his eyes blue and watched as Dean’s own eyes widened in realization.

“You?” An unexplainable sense of relief filled Dean’s mind at the thought of finally being able to meet his favorite angel properly. Not that it would have taken much to be his favorite, Dean quickly reasoned. All other angels were dicks, so it wasn’t much of a competition.

“Wait, you’re one of Michael’s lackies. Why are you in here with us?”

Cas sighed, “That is a long and arduous story. Summary, it would be best to say, is that I am not one of Michael’s ‘lackies’ any longer.”

Dean tried to bite back a grin at Cas’ use of finger-quotations. It was quite endearing. “Fair enough. Well, I’m not on Lucifer’s team anymore either so, looks like we’re a couple of rejects.”

Cas smiled slightly. “It would appear so.”

Dean climbed up on the cot opposite Cas’ and pulled his knees up to chest. “So, how long you been in this palace of heaping dung?”

Cas eyed Dean curiously, the human’s dialect seemed quite creative. “I assume you are referencing this prison. I have been here eight months, ten days, and four hours.”

“Wow. That must’ve been fun.”

“Indeed.”

“You got any plans yet on how to break-and-skate outta this joint?”

The question, though uniquely phrased, did not surprise Cas in the least. Dean seemed much aware and assessing than his younger brother. After five minutes of being conscious he was already conversing on escape. “I do not. Unfortunately. The sigils on the doors inhibit my powers, and the entire prison grounds are under spell-work which obstructs all flying of divine nature.”

“Awesome.” Dean groaned, rubbing his temple.

“If you don’t mind me enquiring. How are you no longer under Lucifer’s direction?”

Dean sighed and leaned his head back against the wall. “I escaped.”

“That is quite an impressive feat.”

“So, I’ve been told.”

“It must have cost you quite a lot to do so.”

Dean lifted his head up in surprise. Cas and he stared at each other for a long moment, the dude just didn’t seem to know how to look away, before Dean opened and his mouth and responded quietly, “Yeah, it did.”

Cas nodded solemnly, “My condolences.”

Swallowing thickly, Dean nodded his thanks and tried to push the image of Jo and Ash’s still bodies being slashed to pieces by demons from his mind.

“Do you ever miss the battlefield?”

The quiet question came as a shock to Dean, but the more he thought about it, the more reasonable it seemed. “I miss… the simplicity of it. The purity. Even though war is messy and violent and horrid. When you are on the actual field, and you have nothing within your power to do accept kill or be killed… there is a purity in it. I miss that. I miss how clear my mind would get when the bombs were going off and the solders were shouting. Most times I remember it now… it’s in nightmares. But sometimes I remember it… and I miss it.”

“I understand of what you speak. I was back home and out of the warzone for six months before I was brought here, and it just feels… wrong. Normal life is too busy and too mundane at the same time. Like a feeling of dread that goes unsatisfied and denies you the ability relax or to conform to attitudes of security as of civilians.”

“Yes! Exactly!” Dean dropped his head on to his knees and mumbled into his jeans. “Finally, someone understands.”

“Unfortunately, yes, I do.” Cas smiled sadly.

Chapter Text

“-Hahaha! No way dude!”

“Indeed, yes! The Sergeant was very disappointed in us.”

“I bet he was! Hah! That’s so awesome!”

“If you believe that story to be humorous, I should tell you the tale of the holy fire trick we used on my commander during our first tour. He was not at all pleased.”

“Oh, dude yes, you got to tell me that one!”

Sam’s eyelids fluttered open as the sounds of Dean and Cas’ laughter rang in his ears. He pushed himself up to his elbow with a quiet groan, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. As the laughter was abruptly cut off, he glanced up drowsily to see Dean and Cas staring at him.

“Heya Sammy boy, how’re you feelin’?”

After a quick squint, Sam let out a sleepy, “Fine.” To which Dean chuckled lightly, turning to Cas with a smirk on his lips.

“Sleeping beauty loves his beauty sleep.”

Castiel cocked his head in slight confusion at the unknown reference, leading Dean to give a long drawn out explanation of Sam’s “princess hair” and its correlation to Sleeping Beauty, adding in many puns and jokes at Sam’s expense along the way.

Sam watched curiously as Dean went through his explanation to Castiel. He hadn’t seen his brother this animated since they the day they had found him. His eyes were bright with humor, there was a mischievous grin on his face. He looked like a teenager again, with all his cares slipped from his shoulders, at least momentarily.

Sam glanced over at Cas, who seemed very enthralled by Dean’s storytelling. Sam’s first impression of Cas had been that he was a dick with wings, but seeing him now, interacting with Dean, the stick up his ass was nowhere in sight and he seemed much more relaxed.

Huh.

Interesting.

“-I always give him crap about it. It’s just so easy to- AAAGGH!”

Sam’s eyes immediately snapped back to Dean just in time to see his brother crumple to the floor, clutching his head. “DEAN!” Both Sam and Cas instantly rushed to his side, Sam turning him over onto his back. “Dean?! What’s going on? Why does this keep happening?”

“Ju-just giv-ve m’ a secc.” Dean choked out, clutching into hair desperately. There were white stars shooting behind his eyes and his head was splitting into two and burning with fire. Images started flashing through his mind.

Horrible images.

He was vaguely aware of Sam calling to him. His voice panicked. Slowly, ever so slowly, the pain began to subside, and images ceased. He felt his head begin to clear and the intensity of the burning lessened.

“I’m ‘kay, I’m ‘kay.” His voice mumbled hoarsely.

“Jesus, Dean. What the hell?” Sam swiped his hand through his hair stressfully while Cas simply stared at Dean, his blue eyes boring into Dean’s soul.

“That was not an after effect of your electrocution.”

Dean lifted his eyes up to Cas through heavy lids, panting softly. “No.”

 “What do you mean ‘no’?? Dean what’s going on??” Sam’s pitching voice cut in. His little brother was running his hands all over his body, checking for injuries or anything out of the ordinary. His movements were frenzied and panicked, yet all the while, Dean and Cas were very stilled, staring at each other.

“Has this happened to you before?”

“Yes.”

“Did you see anything?”

“…Yes.”

“What did you see?”

“…..I…..” Dean clamped his mouth shut and looked back over at Sam was staring at him wide-eyed in disbelief. “…..it hasn’t happened… yet.”

“But you’ve seen the future before?”

“Once. Yes.”

Cas crossed his arms over his chest in thought, leaning back against the wall pensively. His eyes scanned Dean for a moment. “When did this psychic ability begin manifesting itself?”

Sam made a sound of alarm, but Dean interrupted him decisively. “I started having strange flashbacks over a week ago, just after I escaped. But right before we were captured, I saw it happen, them capturing us. Minutes before it actually happened.”

Cas chewed his lip for a moment, taking in Dean’s defeated slump in his posture. The man clearly hadn’t wanted this information to come out. “Are you sure last week was the first time you began experiencing things like this?”

“Yes.” Dean nodded solemnly.

“Are you sure?”

Dean paused for a moment, thinking back to before his escape. He remembered the others dying, he remembered the morning they had planned it… but….

He furrowed his brow for moment, searching back through his memories. There was something wrong. Something missing. The week before their escape was totally blank. He couldn’t even remember for the reason of their escape, what had changed that made them so desperate to leave after all those years?

His mind balked, trying to remember.

“I don’t’… I don’t know.”

He glanced back up at Cas meeting his intense gaze. “The week before our escape… I don’t remember. It’s blank. Whatever happened then was probably what made us so desperate to get out.”

Cas nodded slightly, mulling the information over for a moment.

“Why can’t I remember, Cas?”

Cas sighed, rubbing a hand over his face and opened his mouth to respond.

“YOU’RE PSYHCIC?!?!?!?!?!”

Dean and Cas whipped over to look at a very freaked out Sam Winchester. Dean gave him an apologetic smile, “I didn’t realize that’s what this was until we were captured.” He gave Sam a quick squeeze to the shoulders, which didn’t seem to calm the young man down in the least.

Cas cleared his throat loudly, gathering the brothers’ attention. “I heard a rumor, the day after we once captured a demon lieutenant, that Lucifer had instructed his Master of Torture, Alastair, to begin experimenting on some of Lucifer’s elite soldiers. What the result was, I do not know. However, the rumor was that it would give Lucifer an advantage in psychic warfare…”

Dean, having flinched at Alastair’s name, quickly squared his shoulders and cleared his throat. “You think they experimented on me?”

“It would make sense. You were also in their elite division, were you not?”

“Yes.” Dean glanced over at Sam, who seemed to still be in shocked from the ‘My brother is a psychic’ part of the conversation. Now, he was staring at Dean like he had just proposed the sky was green.

“It would seem to fit. Can you remember nothing from the week before your escape?”

“No, nothing. It’s just blank.”

Cas hummed for a moment in thought. “This is definitely an interesting turn of events.”

“Oh yeah. It’s just damn fascinating.” Dean bit out, frustration glazing over his eyes. “Alastair fucking experimented on me, messed with my head, none of it I can actually remember, and now as a result I’ve turned into some kind of psychic-boy-wonder freak who can see into the future! It’s just fucking great!”

Dean jumped to his feet and started pacing.

“Has there been anything else, asides from the visions, that you’ve noticed to be strange?”

“NO.”

 Dean continued his pacing with more fervor, Cas an Sam exchanging worried glances. They attempted to speak with him, Sam now much more calmed down to his credit, but Dean wouldn’t divulge any more information.

It was only a few minutes later when they heard the cell door being unlocked.

Dean’s head jerked up, a small flash of fear going over his face. “No no no. Fuck, not now.” Cas looked over at him, slightly alarmed. “Was this what you saw in your vision?”

“…part of it.”

Ishim swung the door open with a loud creak, three angel guards standing behind him with their blades unsheathed. Ishim gave a scan of the room before his gaze landed on Dean.

And he smiled.

“You. You’re coming with us.”

“WHY.” Ishim glanced over at Cas, a look of contempt on his face.

“You know why.”

Ishim stepped to the side, gesturing for Dean to follow him. “Don’t make this difficult. Or your friend there will not enjoy the consequences.” Dean looked over at Cas, then Sam, giving him a wink of false confidence. Sam’s face flushed with anger and helplessness as Dean stepped over the threshold and into the hallway.

“Take it easy there, sparky. I’m coming, I’m coming.”

The door swung shut behind him, the echo of their footsteps drifting through the cell door window. Cas looked over at Sam, huffing out a nervous breath. “Cas? What are they going to do to him?”

“…he’ll be fine.”

 

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After about the fifth minute of winding through the prison halls, Dean had concluded that this Ishim dick was a total ass. Between demeaning comments and a self-righteous attitude, Dean was ready to stick an angel blade up his ass.

“Get in here, you degenerate pile of shit.” Ishim yanked Dean into a new room, the guards waiting out in the hall. The room was empty except for a table filled with everything from knives to needles to instruments only someone like Dean would recognize. Other than the table there was nothing but…

… a rack.

Dean felt the blood drain from his face.

Memories from the Pit began rising to his mind, unbidden. Needles, and knives, and blood. So much blood. He knew the same thing was going to happen again, he had seen it in his vision. He had seen this room. And he knew what was going to happen next.

“I would lie, and say we aren’t going to enjoy this but… lying is a sin.” Ishim began shackling his wrists to the rack above him, securing his feet to a chain on the floor. Then the door opened once again, and another pious-looking angel that Ishim call ‘Uriel’, walked through the door.

Uriel eyed Dean’s tied-up form almost gleefully as he carefully ghosted his hand over the torture instruments laid out on the nearby table. “Let us start with your name.”

Dean glanced over at the instruments and considered his options. He could either stay completely silent, which would probably piss his captors off… not a good idea. Or he could choose his battles at each question. He decided on the second option.

“Dean.”

Uriel looked up surprised. “Well then. Answering without any prompting necessary. It would seem you are either incredibly smart, or incredibly weak.” He picked up a long, serrated knife, carved with Enochian symbols, and strode lazily over to Dean. “What is that mark on your arm?”

Dean eyed the knife warily; he knew exactly how much damage a simple knife could do. Besides, he knew Uriel already knew what the answer to his question was, anyone who had a brain did. “It’s the code of arms for Lucifer’s army.”

“Mmmm.”

Ishim took up a guard position in the corner of the room, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Did you serve Lucifer?” Uriel continued, lifting the knife up to Dean’s chest, slowly tearing open the front of his shirt, exposing the skin underneath.

“Yes.” He knew the technicalities wouldn’t make a difference to Uriel, and the less information the angel knew about him personally, the better.

“Interesting. Tell me more about that.”

Dean gasped as he felt the knife’s point sift into his sternum, breaking the skin and connecting with the shallow bone underneath. “Lucifer’s an ass of a boss.” The blade was pulled down a few inches to stop between his pectorals, resting just above his heart. Dean glanced down to see a small river of blood seeping down his front.

Shit.

 

------------------------------------------------

 

Sam was pacing, back and forth, back and forth. He couldn’t believe all that was going on with his brother. A psychic?! It was insane. And now, he was locked up in god-knows-where in this hellhole with a group of sadistic angels doing god-knows-what to him.

Sam sat down with a thud and dropped his head into his hands. This was a mess. They were in prison! Michael’s prison! How had his life suddenly become so dangerous?? When had angels become evil beings instead of warriors of God??

Sam looked over at Cas’ still form… well… most of the angels. Cas had made his brother laugh. A lot. That wasn’t something he was just going to forget. He could tell Cas was worried about him now too. The angel had barely spoken since they had taken Dean over an hour ago. His face seemed void of emotion at first glance, but Sam was beginning to see glimmers of fear and dread underneath the mask.

Suddenly Cas cocked his head, eyes darting up to the door in alarm.

Sam looked over at the door himself but didn’t notice anything strange. Cas stood up quickly and made his way over to the door, peering out the small window.

Then Sam heard it.

Shouting.

The small clamor began to build and build, the noise coming closer to their location. Sam jumped to his feet and ran to stand next to Cas, trying to see out the window himself. The shouting was accompanied by random cries of cheering. There was clanging and yelling, and the sound of fists hitting skin.

There was a fight going on.

Sam felt a glimmer of hope rise in his chest. Maybe…

The shouting grew nearer and within a minute or two people began running through the halls. Prisoners. Sam tried shouting for their attention, but the yelling was too loud for them to hear.

There were hundreds of them. Probably thousands.

Sam noticed a couple of them who had large rings full of keys that were unlocking doors and letting out more people to join in the crowd, mainly humans, but there were some imprisoned angels mixed in as well. Many of the freed prisoners were carrying angel blades and an assortment of make-shift weapons, raising them high in celebration.

“This is insane.”

“Indeed.”

Sam glanced over at Castiel, who had a victorious grin growing on his face.

A young woman with a head of flaming red hair stopped to unlock their door, swinging it open wide with a triumphant smile.

“WE’RE REBELLING, BITCHES!”