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Love Will Bring You Nothing

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Hell wasn’t the same anymore. Heaven wasn’t the same anymore. Naomi ruled over Heaven with an iron fist. Hell didn’t have a King, it was divided into areas of influence, and the Reapers would lead the damned souls to the region most fitting for it's earthly crimes.

Sam and Dean Winchester would go to the now called Killing Place. Naomi had made clear her distaste for them while Castiel burned their bodies in a proper hunter funeral. She wouldn’t accept them in Heaven, no matter their mission to help others the best way they could, but Castiel was welcome to come home whenever he got tired of playing human.

Castiel couldn’t let that happen. Dean and Sam deserved eternal rest, they deserved peace after a life of sacrificing themselves to save others.

So Castiel approached the situation in the way that he saw was most fit for his image of Naomi.

Castiel proposed a deal.

“Let me take their place in Hell” said Castiel, eyes never leaving the burning bodies. “Accept them in Heaven, and I will take whatever punishment you think they deserve”.

“It doesn’t work like that, Castiel” he heard Naomi say. “We don’t have many angels yet. We can’t afford losing you too".

“Take my grace too, then. It’ll have no utility for me”.

Naomi sighed. “I wish you had this same loyalty to your family”.

“But I do” Castiel finally looked at Naomi, with a serenity that shook her to  the core. A serenity that should only belong to angels following Heaven's wishes. “They were my family more than Heaven ever was”.

 

****

 

Alcohol molecules tasted better than the drink itself, Castiel thought, downing Dean’s favorite beverage. He had drunk a quarter of the bottle already, and without his grace it was making its effects known. With the speed he was drinking, Castiel probably would die of alcohol poisoning, and even though it would be unfortunate, life wasn’t the same without them. Life wasn’t the same without Dean.

In his drunk daze, Castiel went for a bath. He needed to sober up quickly. His friends weren't  there anymore, and someone had to pick up their job. It was too important not to, and an appropriate way to honor their memories. Castiel took off his shoes and entered the bathtub completely dressed and turned the shower on, leaving the bottle in the sink. For a moment, he thought he heard someone chuckling, but blamed it on the alcohol. Castiel fell asleep with the shower head still open,  forgetting to open the drain and sliding into the rising water.

When he opened his eyes again, the first thing he saw was the ceiling. Then he took notice of his lack of drunk stupor. And lastly Castiel saw a blonde woman, dressed in a burgundy and black three-piece suit.

“I suppose you’re my Reaper” he said.

The woman smiled. “Oh no, darling” she said, her eyes flashing black for a second. “I am the Killing Place’s Regent. When I heard about your deal to save the Winchesters, I knew that I had to personally bring you to Hell”.

Castiel squinted his eyes to the woman. “Who are you?”

“Who would be better to reign over the murderer’s hell than the first murderer themselves?”

Chapter Text

This thing about eternal is all fun and dandy until you got bored. Yes, you relive your best memories, but apparently the ones with angels get either blocked or blurry, so Dean’s heaven was a bit more limited. Sure, Sam didn’t have access to his memories of Cas either, but he accepted his blurred version of their friend. To Dean though, it felt like someone chopped off one of his limbs. He had a lot of memories he wanted to relive through and couldn’t. He was probably the only person who could say that one of his best memories was during the Apocalypse 1.0 and he couldn’t see it again because the most important part was... wrong.

So occasionally Sam would humor him. They would sit to drink and share stories of their time with Cas. They were at Dean's favorite Big Gerson's restaurant and Sam was retelling the first time Cas used a gun.

“... and I swear, I never heard someone be impressed and condescend at the same time, but Cas managed” told Sam, while Dean laughed until his stomach ached. Neither saw the woman approaching them.

“Excuse me for interrupting” she said, in a neutral tone, calling their attention “I am looking for the Winchester brothers. I was told they would be here.”

“That’s us" answered Dean, saluting the woman with his beer before taking a sip.

“I know it must be an inopportune moment, but...” the woman took a fortifying breath, which made Sam and Dean get more focused on her. “...I came with information about someone who needs to be taken from Hell".

Well, ‘eternal rest' was shorter than they thought.

“Please, take a sit” Sam said, pulling a chair for the woman “and tell us everything we need to know, miss...”

“Colette" she answered the implied question. Dean was pretty sure he heard that name before; he just couldn’t remember where. “Forgive me, for I can’t really give much information about the situation.”

“It’s okay,” said Dean, trying to focus on the woman. “Just tell us what you know, we will work from there.”

“There’s a man in Hell that wasn’t supposed to be there" said Colette. “I don’t know much about him, except that he was important to Heaven while he was alive, even though most angels resent him for his actions and his allegiances”.

“So, you are taking one for the team asking for help?”

Colette looked mildly annoyed by Dean’s comment. “While I do find my time on Heaven pleasant, I do not care much for the angels. They deprive me of my fondest memories, only because of whom I shared them with.”

“Yeah, they can be kind of annoying,” chuckled Sam. “If you don't know the man, why do you want him out of Hell?”

“I do believe I am doing you a favor, and I was hoping that I could have the Winchesters owning me one in return” she said. Then she looked directly at Dean. “The man is the former angel Castiel.”

Dean chuckled. “Look, ma’am, I know you have good intentions about whoever you trying to save but putting our friend in your story won’t make us more inclined to help you.” Internally, Dean was freaking out. The moment Cas’ name came out of her mouth, Dean wanted to run to the Impala, pick up every weapon he had there and run to save their friend, being it true or not. The mere idea of Cas suffering fuck knows what for fuck knows how long while they were in this fuck mockery of a life made him burn.

“For what reasons would I lie?”

“Well…” said Sam, sugarcoating the accusation. “You did say you wanted us to owe you a favor.”

Colette pondered about Sam’s argument for a second, and apparently agreed with him. “Unfortunately, I don’t have ways to prove my information, since I got it from eavesdropping the angels and it corroborated what was told to me.”

“We’ll try and check this with our own informants” Sam told Colette, taking all her attention so she didn’t notice how Dean got shook with the last bit. “As soon as we confirm what you said, we’ll make contact with you again.”

Dean’s hands started to tremble as soon as Colette got up from the table, thanking them and leaving.

“Dean,” asked Sam after a few seconds, “are you...”

“What the fuck is Cas doing in Hell?!” yelled Dean.

“I think Colette already said he wasn’t supposed to be there...?”

“Okay, I got that!” Dean growled, the bottle in his hands in danger of breaking. “But how the fuck did that happen?!”

“I... I don’t know” said Sam, “Maybe he did a deal with someone and it went south. We don't even know if what she said is true!” Sam held Dean’s hands, prying the beer bottle before Dean hurt himself with it. “We’ll talk with Bobby, Ash and Charlie, see if one of them heard something similar. And if it’s really Cas down there, we can ask him what happened when we get there.”

That seemed to calm Dean down a bit, but Sam knew he would stress over it until they hear that Cas is safe and sound on Earth. Or when they take Cas out of Hell.

Chapter Text

The word in the grapevine was that Cas died a heroic death saving another hunter. The angels, on the other hand, talked about weakness and betrayal. Either way, Cas was in Hell now, and apparently Cain herself went to pick him up.

That last phrase was a trip on itself.

“So Cain came back as a chick?” asked Dean with all of his finesse “and is ruling over Hell?”

“Well, yeah. But actually no" said Charlie. “Hell doesn’t have a Monarch per se. They’re too afraid that Sam will go down there to kick their asses if they recognize one.”

“Awesome!” proudly exclaimed Dean, while Sam looked a bit embarrassed.

“Let’s focus on saving Cas?”

“Right!” said Charlie, clapping once before going back to her work. “So, he's in the region that punishes the murderers. Is kinda like a mansion, but each room is a torture chamber. Cas' number is... 2330.”

“Kinda low for someone so old" commented Sam, while writing down the number.

“Yeah, the numbers are kinda arbitrary. There’s a Mary in his floor with a higher number, but it looks more like a date than an actual body count.”

“And how we get there?” asked Dean, looking over Charlie’s shoulder and understanding nothing on the screen.

“There’s these two guys. They kinda work for Cain, kinda not" Charlie concentrate in locating the names. “Here it is! Mr. Storm and Mr. Tender! They aren’t accepted by either side, so they have free pass to Heaven and Hell, and kept their original bodies. They come once a week to talk with someone called... Colette Mullen.”

Dean and Sam looked at each other. What the actual fuck?

“Okay, so we have the numbers to Cas' room and how to get there" enunciate Sam, comparing his notes with Charlie’s screen. “What else?”

 

***

Sam and Dean took more time than they wanted to finish their attack plan. Most of the time was just to pickpocket angel blades, because all heavens were filled with projections that wouldn’t hurt a fly. Then they had to wait for their ride to show up. To say that Dean was anxious was an understatement. Sam had to talk him out of going too early and blowing their chance.

Mr. Storm and Mr. Tender had a routine while in Heaven. First they would visit old acquaintances from when they were alive. Then they would spend the rest of their visit with Colette, and leave to fuck's know where they spent most of their time. Sam and Dean were going to ambush them there.

The wait was nerve-wracking, to say the least. But finally the black clad men arrived. Mr. Storm and Mr. Tender barely sat at the table to drink tea with Colette and angel blades were at their necks.

“Well, this is quite unexpected” said the blond one, Mr. Tender. “You have something to do with it, don’t you Colette?”

“I just told them about their friend, nothing else.” Colette had her eyes down to her teacup.

“We need passage to Hell” said Sam, calm as if asking for two bus tickets. Dean, however, looked ready to cut throats if contradicted. “And it looks like you both already know why.”

The curly-haired man, Mr. Storm, picked up a cookie from the plate in front of him. “Hunters" he scoffed, “they never know how to ask for something without bringing out the knives.”

“Put them down, so we can negotiate our prices” said Mr. Tender.

“What if we don’t?” retaliate Dean, pressing the blade on Mr. Tender’s neck until the skin gave.

“Don’t test me, boy.”

Sam called Dean’s name, putting a hand over Dean’s shoulder and lowering his own blade from Mr. Storm’s neck. “They can’t help us if they’re dead”. Dean huffed, but followed his brother’s lead.

“Much appreciated” said Mr. Storm, while Mr. Tender cleaned his neck with a napkin. “I’m afraid that we’ll have to cut our visit short, Colette. Business calls.”

The four men left Colette’s heaven through the same door Sam and Dean came, walking through different heavens until they stopped at one apparently empty.

“You said something about prices" Sam brought back, “What is it?”.

“The only thing souls have to trade is information” answered Mr. Tender, “and that’s what we charge. Everything you both know about the supernatural, starting with the angels”

“It's more than we usually charge,” added Mr. Storm, “since our clients usually want to escape Hell, not Heaven.”

“We want to bring Cas to Heaven”, corrected Dean, “so your price better include the travel back.”

“It will” said Mr Tender, as he and Mr. Storm rolled up their left arm’s sleeves. In their arms were three scars forming an A, with the acute angle pointing left. “I believe you already know the procedure, Dean.”

Dean looked disgusted to their arms. “I thought it only worked with humans. Alive humans".

“Wait, what?” asked Sam.

“Don’t worry” said Mr. Tender smirking, to Dean’s chagrin, “This flesh is our own since birth.”

"It's the only way we can do this” said Mr. Storm.

Even though Dean still looked disgusted and Sam was still confused, they gave their signal to the other two men to start. Mr. Storm and Mr. Tender recited the enchantment and absorbed the Winchesters souls, that sat in the triangle of their marks.

“Who do you think will be more irritated, Cain or Naomi?” asked Mr. Storm, pulling down his sleeve. Mr. Tender only response was to sing:

“Fa-la-la, it’s off to Hell we go...”

Chapter Text

Getting in and out of someone’s arm was just as nice as it sounded. But at least Sam and Dean could start to pay their debt, so there’s that.

After what could have been five hours, and already at “Jefferson Starships” in a list in alphabetical order of every monster they had ever met, the four men finally arrived at their destination. Mr. Storm and Mr. Tender left the Winchesters’ souls leave their bodies by pressing a knife in their scars’ lower junction.

“Motherfucker, that was cramped!” complained Dean, doing his old man’s stretch routine. Sam didn’t complain, but did his own stretches with visible discomfort.

They found themselves in a Victorians style hotel hallway. The red wallpapers were dirty with accumulated dust under hunting trophies like animals antlers, taxidermied birds and humans heads, to name a few. The black carpet had dark stains that mined blood when touched and under the antique and faded couch. Far away, over the corridors, muffled screams and cries could be heard.

“Hell looks as pretty as always.”

“Cain redecorated a bit after assuming this section" commented Mr. Tender, ringing the reception’s bell. “Most Regents did. The greedy section is the less red of them.”

“You both should hide for now" said Mr. Storm while guiding the Winchesters to a broom closet. “We’ll send someone to guide you to your friend, but if you’re seen by anyone else it would be a problem for everyone involved.”

Sam thanked the two men, closed the door and crouched down to look at the corridor, while Dean tried to see anything through the door’s gap. They could see very little, but could hear everything clearly. There were footsteps from the reception desk.

“Ah, Lavinia!” exclaimed Mr. Tender, “I presume that Cain's at the punishments today?”

“You presume correctly” said a female voice with mirth. “Someone hurt the angel’s face, even after direct orders not to.” The new voice went quieter. “No one knows who’s responsible, but we have a betting pool going on.”

“Demons are assholes, man" whispered Dean, being shushed by Sam right after.

“Of course there is one" said Mr. Storm, shaking his head.

“We’ll wait for Cain at the bar” announced Mr. Tender, moving out of their limited field of view revealing the woman they were talking to.

“Oh, my god!” whispered Sam, excited, “That’s Lavinia Fisher!” Dean shushed him, while the woman offered to prepare drinks for Mr. Storm and Mr. Tender, “Dean, she was the first american serial killer!”

“Stop fangirling over the psycho while we’re hiding!” Dean whispered back, a bit too loud. Both of them waited, holding their breaths, but heard nothing for a few minutes. “Can we go now?”

“I don’t think so" answered Sam, still whispering. Then a loud sniffing at the door made them almost jump out their skin.

“What is it, Lola?” said a voice too young to belong to that place. Lower, the voice continues “Is it them?”. The door opened, and a little girl, not older than twelve, was at the other side, a hellhound at her side. “Oh, hello, Misters Winchesters!”

Sam and Dean looked at each other. “Uh... hi" said Sam, Dean waving at her.

“Mr. Storm sent me to help you, sirs" said the girl, bowing slightly. “It’s to find a room, right?”

“Yes, room number 2330.”

The girl’s eyes lit up. “It’s Castiel’s room!” she exclaimed, looking even younger, and the hellhound wagged their tail as if recognizing the name. “I knew you would come save him!”. She ran off towards a corridor, the hellhound right after her.

After looking around, the Winchesters followed her, angel blades in hand. They followed the little girl through corridors, up and down stairs, in what looked like an unending maze, passing over doors and more doors, screams coming from all of them.

“You know Cas?” Dean finally asked when the little girl slowed down.

“Yes! Mrs. Cain let us go to Castiel’s room after his punishments.” The plural took Dean for a loop. It either meant other condemned or... better not think about it. “Ah! Here it is!”

And suddenly nothing mattered anymore. Nothing but Cas and his safety. Without hesitation, Dean opened the door, not caring that it could hide a legion of demons inside, not caring if it was all a trap.

Chapter Text

Angels don’t have souls, not in the same way humans do. What they have is a mockup of it, with divine grace filling up the empty spaces. So, even if a graceless angel dies, they will go to the Empty, just like any other angel.

Except for Castiel.

Castiel had his grace missing so long for so many times that those empty spaces got filled with something else, so his sketch of a soul was the closest an angel had of a real soul in a while. And that is the only reason Naomi could honor her part of their deal.

Cain, Castiel noted, was a more versatile demon than most of her colleagues. She would use physical and mental torture to punish the damned. Loved ones and victims, or at least demons wearing masks as them, would hurt and hurl insults at the damned, until they were nothing more than sobbing messes, imploring for forgiveness. And then they would be tortured a little more.

To Castiel, it was his family. Not the angels, they stopped being his family long ago. It was Mary Winchester shoving his head under water and cursing him for not protecting her sons, it was Jack swinging a nailed bat at him and saying he wasn’t his father, it was Bobby throwing knives at him and spitting at his face every time he almost destroyed the world, it was Charlie pouring boiling water over his injuries and listing every human dead by his hands or his orders, it was Kevin hammering into him while listing all his disappointments, it was Crowley nailing every nerve on his body and saying how his only use was as an weapon and failed at that, it was Sam breaking his bones and saying he was never part of their family.

And it was Dean watching everything like a hawk, not moving a single muscle to stop the tortures or join in. Dean, impassive while Castiel bled and agonized. To Castiel it was the worst part: Dean’s indifference hurt more than anything.

But Cain refused to torture the self-defense murderers. Staying in Hell, hearing the other damned’s eternal agony, smelling the eternal stench of decay was punishment enough in her opinion. She went as far as incentive their escape, sending her two frequent visitors in their direction. Some of them would accept the offer, but a few would stay, for different reasons.

So sometimes Cain would stop Castiel’s punishments and direct the young damned to his room to keep him company. Castiel would talk to them and tell stories about his long life. Others would show up now and then, eagers to escape the second-hand torture for a while. It was common for one of the kids, usually Mary or Johnny, to ask for Cain to stop Castiel's torture so they could hear his stories. Cain would comply, and leave with her demons.

It happened so many times that Castiel didn’t notice anything different this time around. Castiel sat in the floor, legs crossed, still bleeding and aching, and waited for the children to enter.

“Good evening, Mr. Castiel” said Mary, polite as always. She was always smiling too, but her smile looked more happy today.

“Hello, Mary. You came alone today?”

“No, sir” she said, signaling to someone behind Castiel to come closer. “There’s two newcomers looking for you”.

Castiel didn’t have time to look confused before dread overcame him.

“Cas" Dean called. The former angel turned around, and sure enough Sam and Dean Winchester were there, coming out of a corner that wasn’t supposed to be anything.

No. Nononononono. They weren’t there. It was Cain's demons in just another way to torture him. Sam and Dean were in Heaven. They were safe, in a different plane of existence.

“Cas,” Dean said again, pulling Castiel into a hug.

“What are you doing here?” was the only thing Castiel could say. Because Dean only watches in Hell, and Cain wasn’t too keen on hugs even when wearing her own face.

“We came to rescue you, Cas,” Sam smiled, even though he looked worried about his friend’s physical state. “ You’re coming home with us.”

Castiel shook his head, and Sam and Dean’s smiles fell from their faces.

“Cas" Dean held Castiel’s shoulders and turned the angel in his direction. “We know you did a deal with some demon, but we will fix it, okay?”

“The deal... it wasn’t with a demon...” Cas said while backing away from Dean. “It was with Naomi. I can’t go with you.”

“Cas, you can and you wil!” Dean almost screamed in frustration. “Just because the other angels are a bunch of assholes doesn’t mean...”

“This deal with Naomi” Sam interrupted Dean, his face a mix of realization and sadness. “You... you took our place in Hell, didn’t you?”

Denial was at the tip of Dean’s tongue, until he turned back to his friend.

“I had to,” Castiel couldn’t look either of them in the eyes, so just looked at the floor. “You deserved rest after everything you both went through.”

“Goddamnit, Cas!” Dean said. “We will fix it, but first we’re going home. The three of us.”

“I'm afraid this won’t be possible, Dean" Cain’s voice came from where she originally left the room. “Castiel is Hell’s property now, and you can’t win against me without my mark on your arm."

Chapter Text

“Such a pity that you didn’t take that bet, darling.” Cain approached Cas, or at least tried to. Dean blocked the way, angel blade in hand. “Now, now, Dean.” Cain smirked, pointing to Mary. “Not in front of the child”.

“Why theres a child in Hell in the first place?” asked Sam, hiding Mary with his body.

“Murder is murder” murmured Mary, petting her dog’s head. “Even if is an accident.”

“Specially if you love them.” Cas finished. “Cain, please. Let me talk to them, they will leave.”

“Oh, darling.” Cain laughed, and that word started to echo on Dean’s ears. “You’re deluding yourself. They are already here, and they won’t leave without you. You should know that by now.”

“Five minutes, and they will leave.”

“Whatever you wish, darling. But it will hurt worse than hell later.” Cain left the room again, Mary and the hell-hound right behind her.

Cain was still a bastard, this wasn’t new. What was new was the familiarity between Cain and Cas. Dean didn’t like it, not a single bit. But that was Dean’s fault for taking so long to look for his friend.

“She’s right, Cas” Sam said. “We'll only leave if you come with us.”

“No. You two will go back, and I’ll stay.” Cas said in a tone that didn't let space for arguments. “You never listened to me in life, you owe me this.”

“Cas, please” Dean pleaded. “You’re family. We’re not leaving you to suffer.”

Cas flinched away from Dean, and it hurt. Dean felt the pain exactly where his heart used to clench every time Cas was hurt, every time Cas left him.

“It’s not so bad.” Cas smiled. “Cain sometimes bring the children to play and talk. And we drink and commiserate every once in a while.”

“When you say ‘we',” Sam asked, because Dean was trying to process that. “you mean you and...”

“Me and Cain, yes. We have a lot in common, actually.”

“What you and that asshole could have in common?” Dean was seething in rage. But, again, his own fault. He couldn’t be jealous.

“We’re heartbroken supernatural creatures in a place we hate, if you really want to know.” Cas took a deep breath after his outburst. “Please, i know you're worried about me. That you both are. But this is for the best.”

“Give us a good reason for why we should do that. Just one.”

Cas didn’t said anything. The door opened, and the two travelers entered the room.

“Ah, you must be the angel Castiel” Mr. Storm extended his hand to Cas, his voice rasping while he talked. “Mr. Storm, at your orders. This is Mr. Tender. I’m deeply sorry to cut short such reunion, but Cain is calling you in her office. Your time is up.”

Castiel left, without looking back, Dean’s voice echoing after him, asking him to come back. And it hurt worse than hell, just like Cain had warned.