Our Solemn Hour

That the Tide Could Turn

Complete and utter awe were all Dean felt towards Sam at that moment. How could Sam possibly be vertical right now? His face steadily continued dripping blood, and yet he still had the willpower to reach into his pocket, and pull out the horseman's rings. His voice cracked helplessly as he uttered the spell to open Lucifer's cage.

The ground opened up with the collapse of a patch of grass, looking like a ravenous monster's mouth preparing to consume its prey. Sam stared down into the seemingly endless pit at his and Dean's feet. One simple action would mean their deaths, no end, and no rest if they jumped.

He heard Dean's voice call out to him over the sounds of the harsh winds. "You ready?"

Sam wanted to smile, as some last futile effort to comfort his brother, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it, and it wasn't just because of all his shattered teeth and broken bones. "Not really." He answered back.

Dean grabbed Sam's shoulder, his eyes filled with acceptance to their fate. "Together?"

Sam nodded; he wouldn't have had it any other way. He placed his hand on top of Dean's. "Together."

And then they both jumped.

Falling was the easy part, almost serene as Dean saw nothing but unending black, but Michael's screaming inside his head ruined the moment a bit though. To say he was furious was an understatement. The whole time as they were falling, Michael was promising all sorts of unimaginable pain that Dean would feel once they landed. Dean would be lying isfhe said he wasn't scared when he did land. Following suit, Sam landed beside him with a thud.

Michael was at least gentle when he left Dean, most likely because he was in more of a haste to get back at Dean for what he had done. Sam on the other hand… Lucifer must have been even angrier than Michael; he ripped himself out of Sam.

It started with Sam coughing, but it was violent. He couldn't even draw in enough air between each cough, and blood eventually began dribbling past his lips, along with Lucifer's grace. Dean ran over to him, watching Sam's back arch again and again, like a cat about to cough up a hairball.

Before he could reach Sam, something snaked around Dean's body, and then constricted all the air out of him, binding him tightly.

All Dean heard was a metallic whine, but some part of his brain translated it as, "No. You're going to watch this, knowing that you won't be able to stop it; knowing you won't be able to save your brother."

Dean yanked on his- chains? Ropes? Whatever was holding him captive, he tugged against them with all his might, but he could never possibly match the strength of an archangel, so his efforts were proving to be fruitless.

Sam may not have been able to breathe, but he could sure as hell scream. What made it even worse was how it didn't even seem like he was trying to hold back the sound. The few times Dean had ever heard Sam scream, he had been shielding most of the pain. But now? Now Dean was being forced to listen to Sam's retching and screaming, with no hopes of making the pain go away. It was even worse when Sam managed to form words.

"D-Dean!" he cried miserably. "Help me!" He could barely choke out the words; he was too busy choking on his own blood.

At that moment, Dean didn't care how pathetic he sounded. "Dammit, Michael, I'm the one you're mad at! Let me save Sam, and you can have me!"

Another high pitched whine was his only response, but this time his brain didn't, or couldn't translate it as anything besides a shriek of pure rage. Dean went to cover his ears, but his arms were held firm at his sides, and he felt blood begin to trickle out of his eyes, and ears. Cas's words about an angel's true voice came to mind as an explanation for why it was happening.

Eye sockets sizzling, his head ringing with burning intensity, but in spite of all that, the worst pain was knowing that Sam was in just as much pain as he was, if not more.

Not being able to see exactly what was happening to Sam was an entirely different kind of torture, and Michael knew it. If he wanted Dean in agony, Sam was the one who had to suffer, and Dean hated that everyone knew it.

Darkness finally closed in on Dean, but he wasn't dead, nor was he unconscious. He was blind. He wasn't able to move, but if he could, he was sure he would have been able to feel the absence of his eyeballs, just like Pamela had when she gazed upon Castiel's true form.

Up to this point, Sam had only been screaming, but then Dean heard a wet crunch and a loud snap, followed by Sam wailing in complete and utter agony. Forget anything Dean had thought earlier; this was far worse than before. Sam doesn't wail; that went against the Winchester rule about never letting on how much you're hurting, usually mentally, but physically too. God, what was Lucifer doing to him?

Hell wasn't a new thing to Dean, at least the loneliness of it wasn't, but that's what made this all so wrong; he wasn't alone. Sam was here with him, and that made everything so much worse.

During his first time in Hell, they tried to use Sam's image to break him. Sometimes Sam would be the one being tortured beside him, other times he was the one torturing Dean, but Dean knew it wasn't Sam, at least not then. This time he didn't have any other choice but to believe it.

Michael had allowed Dean his hearing, but he had absolutely no gratitude for that fact. Sam's piercing shrieks cut Dean deeper than any knife or blade ever could. Damn Michael for knowing his weakness.

"Dean!" Sam sobbed. "Pl-please! H-help!"

That went on for far too long; Sam would cry out Dean's name, pleading for help. Dean remembered when he used to call out for Sam when he was in Hell, before he'd lost all hope. Dean knew better now, there is never any hope in Hell. Never.

Throughout all this, Sam had yet to beg the Devil, but in a sudden and panicked voice, Dean heard his brother break for the first time.

"D-don't. N-not that! Please! No, no pl-please, don-" The word cut off with a guttural scream of raw agony.

In that moment, Dean was glad he couldn't see.

Apparently, Michael decided that Dean wasn't occupied well enough, and hurled him to the floor… Or ground. Did the Cage have a floor? Whether it did or not, Dean crashed into something hard beneath him, and then felt himself being flung onto a- O-oh, God no…

A rack. The rack. The one he practically lived on for thirty years. He broke last time; he was not looking forward to having to go through all that again. Maybe he won't break this time. He-he could do it, right? But… for how long? No one was going to save him; he and Sam were going to stay trapped with Michael and Satan himself for the rest of eternity.

Welcome to Day One in Hell.

Castiel may have made a promise to not try and rescue Sam, and watch out for Dean, but that plan went to Hell. Literally. Dean just had to sacrifice himself and be noble once more. The worst part of it was that it honestly didn't even surprise Castiel that much. Dean always seemed to be more selfless that Sam. Some part of Castiel was just hoping that maybe, just this once, that Dean wouldn't have to the hero. Wishful thinking wasn't just a thing for humans apparently.

Now that Michael and Lucifer were caged, Heaven had fallen to shambles. There was a mad scramble for power, and Castiel simply wanted for it to end. But he wanted- needed the Winchesters back at his side again to accomplish it. He didn't like how he was planning on getting them back, but he was out of options.

It was a very odd sight to behold; an angel summoning a demon. Castiel waited a moment, and then he heard the familiar accented voice greet him.

"Castiel, the angel of Thursday. Miss me already?"

"Crowley." Castiel answered in response. "I assume now that Lucifer is gone that someone else had taken the throne. And I assume it was you."

With a bow of mock humility, Crowley concurred. "You are indeed in the presence of a King. I ought to get myself a crown."

Not at all in the mood for Crowley's antics, Castiel got right to the point. "You need to release the Winchesters."

"Can't." Was Crowley's quick reply.

Castiel felt his fists clench. "Why not?"

"I may be the King, but that door's long closed now. Sock hanging on the knob and everything. But, I can offer you help in another matter."

If Castiel had learned anything from watching the Winchesters, it was that you don't ever side with a demon. Then again, they weren't exactly there to castigate him for it. "What are you talking about?"

"If Hell's in chaos, I imagine Heaven isn't fairing too well either. Am I right?" Crowley paused, not getting, but not really needing the confirmation. "Thought so. Now, if you want the fighting to end, which I assume you do, you're going to need power, and if you're going to have power, you'll be needing something I happen to have an abundance of."


Crowley grinned. "Souls."

That definitely would have gotten an immediate "No" from the Winchesters, but again, Castiel reminded himself that they weren't around to talk him out of it. He missed them both so much. Maybe with all that new power, he'd be able to rescue them himself. That's what he was going to do. He wasn't doing this for himself; it was for the Winchesters.

At least, that was how it began.

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