Rating: R (language, violence)
Length: under 30K total; this chapter, 408 words
Spoilers: through the end of Season Four
Summary: What if Sam and Dean knew one crucial piece of information about the future before Dean's deal came due? Would it have changed everything, or would the end result have been the same? AU version of Season Four, written for spn_30snapshots .
Master table is here. Prompt for this chapter: eclipse.
8. Total Eclipse of the Heart
The crushing weight lifted from his chest, and Dean gasped in a mouthful of air.
An instant later, he despairingly wished that the heart attack driven by the fear virus had actually killed him. Because it might have only been a vision of Lilith he'd seen a few minutes ago, her childish ba-boom, ba-boom! still echoing in his ears, but she'd been right. Every detail, every one of the agonies and torments he'd suffered and inflicted in Hell was flashing across his vision in gruesome detail, eclipsing the relief of being alive with the blinding despair of what he'd done.
He relived over fifteen years of unimaginable torture shadowed by the betrayal of his own mind, the hope of enduring for four and a half months ripped away like gobbets of his own flesh. He'd tried so hard after that, tried so long to hold out, but the realization that it was never going to end had eventually worn him down into a paper-thin husk that one evening whispered, "Yes," and took up the knife.
Remembering the things he'd done over the following twenty-five years, the outright pleasure he'd taken in carving and mutilating and hacking, Dean was amazed that he'd been able to drink Bobby's holy water without bursting into flame. If that didn't turn a man into a demon, what did?
Even stopping these seals of Castiel's from breaking wouldn't be enough to wash all that away. He was damned all over again.
Another thought slowly pushed its way through the fog of his anguish and agony, giving him a grim sense of purpose. When he found the bastard that tricked him into thinking he was going to have a reprieve, whatever it was, it was dead meat. It couldn't be Castiel—he had only looked confused when Dean questioned him on the topic, and he doubted that an angel of the Lord could lie. Maybe it had been the Trickster, although altering reality rather than thoughts seemed to be his style.
His best guess was a demon—maybe Ruby, maybe Meg, maybe someone else they'd encountered along the way, wanting to plant false hope and watch as he went down in flames. Literally.
Dean clenched his jaw. He was going to figure it out, goddamn it. And then he was going to make the son of a bitch wish he'd never been born.
Right now, it was the only thing he had to live for.