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The Devil's in the Details

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    PROLOGUE
Being caged like a rabid, baby-eating pitbull for millennia tends to weigh on a person – or an archangel, in this case.
    
Days spent watching His creations through the looking glass, rattling the bars uproariously at each and every fumbling mistake they made, seething in silence while trying to understand their appeal. What made them perfect to Him? Why would He cast him aside in favour of such foolish and violent creatures? Many questions he pondered aloud throughout the ages; the abyss providing no answers, as per usual.
    
The creation of the soul was something to marvel over, he must admit; grace could never compare to the presence, the personality of the soul. They shone so brightly, like lively stars all wrapped up in fragile and fleshy prisons. Sometimes, he could almost understand the appeal; though he quickly squashed those thoughts whenever they dare appear, unable to bring himself to even consider a change of heart. What is this, a knock-off Disney movie?
    
It was rare he took the time to pay the unfortunate ones in his domain any mind. They were damaged goods, after all; tainted by their own humanity and destined to be born again, but not in a fun way. Demons were nothing more than glorified storm clouds, draping themselves in wickedness and malevolence because anything but would be too ‘human’. He was amazed really, how something so breathtaking, so wondrous could be twisted so easily.
    
It was a surprise then, when one of these corrupted souls managed to capture his attention. He absolutely thrived on gossip, drinking it up like lifeblood in his long, tedious days of captivity. It was a real shame no one was mouthy enough to pay him a visit.
    
Learning about the so-called Righteous Man's fall took longer than he would have liked, though he could only to so much within the cage. The story of the Winchesters was an interesting one, to say the least; a family-fuelled tale filled with death, betrayal and unwavering loyalty. He could relate, go figure – the big man was a writer, after all, always pandering to His niche audience.

Everything was going to plan, his brothers and sisters would likely make sure of it. He shouldn't care, nor did he when he gave Azazel direction all those years ago, but now? His desperation for freedom, to walk the earth and raise hell seemed childish. Why not aim bigger

Derailing fate itself was rather ballsy, especially considering the track record of the Winchesters, but who better than the devil to try it?

It took all of his power to reach out, to practically raise the dead from within God's ye old cockblock of a cage. He felt burned out, like a melted candle wick, though satisfied his efforts were enough.

And they were.

Maybe a bit too enough.


How long had it been?

Screaming himself hoarse as the demon (Alistair, the bastard so politely introduced as he cut into him like a Porterhouse) tore into him day after day, begging and pleading and crying out pathetically for someone, anyone at all to help him despite having no one else to blame but himself for his current state.

Dean wished he could say he remained strong, didn't let the constant torment and abuse of his body or soul or whatever the fuck he was now; he wasn't, he was a reckless dumbass that couldn't bear to let his brother suffer the same fate. Even now, when his skin was barely hanging on by a thread, or more aptly, muscle tissue, and his limbs had long since been cast aside to use as meaty chewtoys for the hounds, he couldn't help but think of that hippie-haired dork. When he was slipping away, bound for another round in a freshly cooked up and specially made meatsuit, he wondered if Sam was alright; maybe he's happy now with a white picket fence and a shiny, new law degree and all, or maybe he's exactly where he is, suffering for eternity – figuratively or literally, it made his stomach churn.

The cycle never changed, it never needed to – any new torture method hurt like hell, same as the rest. Dean never got used to it. After years of hunting, gaining scars and broken bones like trophies, he thought it'd be no big whoop. He'd seen it in the movies; a little teeth-pulling, finger breaking, nothing he couldn't handle. Clearly, he was wrong.

Another day, same happenings with the same question put forward at the end. And every damned day, he would give the same answer and spit at his ugly mug. 

It was no different, until it was.

An ear-piercing screech cut through the sound of his own screams, not that he could even attempt to cover his while chained. Dean surmised it was something new they were trying, but judging by how even they recoiled and smoked out (as if they had somewhere to be), they must've bought from the wrong catalogue.

It kept getting louder and louder, until it felt as if the sound were coming from directly beside his ears, the blood clogging and drying inside them doing nothing to muffle or lessen the noise. His eyes were scrunched closed, face screwed up in a pained expression of irritation, feeling like his head was going to explode at any minute – and then it stopped, only to be replaced by a blinding light. Then, nothingness.

The next time he heard that sound was in a gas station in Pontiac, Illinois after freeing himself from his own grave. Shards of glass crunched beneath his boots as Dean picked himself up off the ground, eyebrows furrowed tightly, wary and vigilant as he should be. He shouldn't be here, he was dead. Christ, he was in Hell just a few hours ago, for crying out loud!

Dean let out the breath he didn't even realise he was holding, stance relaxing ever so slightly as he realised nothing was currently trying to kill or attack him. It was only in that moment of semi-calm that he noticed the dull throbbing on his arm. Downing another half of a water bottle, he hesitantly ventured to the mirror again where he'd checked for hellhound scars that somehow weren't there. He lifted up his sleeve, frowning as it revealed some sort of symbol he didn't recognise that looked like it had been seared into his skin, like a brand. “The hell .. ?” The hell, indeed.

Dean Winchester is saved, ahead of schedule and by the wrong angel.