Written for spn_j2_xmas
Title: A Hell King's Guide to Child Rearing
Warnings: descriptions of the after effects of torture and non-con
Summary: A soul in hell has no mass, it is formed purely by the thoughts and memories it brings with it, and if a soul seeks to protect itself by hiding in it's childhood, that's the form it will take before any demon that comes across it
Word Count: 3226
AN: This is basically deaged Dean raised by Crowley in hell :-)
I also want to thank lady_yashka for being kind enough to beta and making this readable.
AN2: lezendame was kind enough to write the full demonic alphabet for me
Crowley would never quite understand torture. Oh, he’d take part in it if he had to. It was quite a useful tool, especially when you know what to do But to him, it was always a tool, never an art. To cut into a soul and hear them scream, some of them even starting to enjoy it after a while. It was all blood and suffering, and sometimes he wondered what use any of it even had.
He remembered being on the rack, flashes of it at least, and all he could think was how it all seemed the same, a gruesomely, horrifyingly painful same. That didn’t mean he couldn’t appreciate an artist like Alistair. The white eyed demon might have had a bit of a one track mind, but he did know what he was doing. And what he was doing right now would ruin Crowley’s afterlife forever if allowed to continue.
He’d never met Dean Winchester in his life, but like all of the crossroad demons under his command, he recognized him on sight. Even with all the skin ripped off of the soul’s imaginary body and ghostly intestines curled around almost humanly solid arms, while his eyes and balls laid neatly tussled mixed with his toes and fingers on a plate for appetizers, it was still all too easy to make out the former Hunter.
Spread out like a course for demons to enjoy.
The soul’s mouth was stretched wide, his asshole bloody and tattered after a long extended day of use by every aspiring black eye hoping for Alistair’s approval. Crowley had to kick out five of them just to have some time of his own with the soul of the hunter still tied to the rack.
Crowley caressed the soul, his finger nails scratching over split nipples and down to a belly button that had been used as a fuckhole by an enterprising demon earlier. If this were a real body, the soul would have long since passed away. But since this was hell, it was dragged out until Alistair would allow his current project some peace.
Crowley had heard him talking earlier, how it was a matter of days before Winchester would break. From any other demon it would sound like bravado, trying to keep his superiors happy. But this was Alistair, if he said the soul would break, then it was only a matter of time. He’d probably be able to give you the exact number of days, hours and even seconds if he wanted to.
Days before the plan was set in motion, days before the beginning of the end, and hell would celebrate its own oncoming demise, believing that an angel would save them. Fools, all of them.
He spread his hand over the blood spattered canvas of skin and allowed the body to heal, pain to flow away and stood still as Dean stared at him, green eyes glaring at him in a last blast of defiance. Days.
His next move came before he even realized what he was doing, as he destroyed the chains holding the soul in place and carried the spark with him, hidden in his breastpocket. There was no such thing as a body in hell, just the memory of the soul lasting beyond its grave. He didn’t even think to stop when he got home and released the soul in a dark cellar of its own making, the place malleable to whatever the soul would deem a comfort until Crowley had a clue of what to do with it.
Then the King of the Crossroads turned around and headed back to earth, pretending he’d been there all along and avoiding Alistair’s rage. It took him days before he returned to the room, knowing months would have passed. He stood in front of the door, unsure of what to do. So he left it closed and moved back to his business. Ignoring it all, or trying to at least. But the soul inside wouldn’t leave him to his peace. It was too quiet, too eerily quiet.
Crowley didn’t want to worry, Alistair had no way of finding his home in hell, Crowley had made sure of that. There was no way anyone else could have gotten in, yet… what if they had? What if the soul was gone?
So he stood up from his seat and opened the door, his mouth falling open in shock.
There was a child’s room behind the door. A child’s bed, a child’s closet holding an angel figurine on top of it, bears and toys covered the floor, and in the middle of the mayhem was a golden brown haired little boy. He couldn’t be any more than four.
For a moment Crowley wanted to rage, but then he looked at the boy and realized it was the same soul he’d thrown inside. Dean Winchester. He hesitated then, wondering what to do, how to deal with this. Winchester had obviously tried to cower inside himself to get away from the memories and the pain, dealing with it the only way his psyche had been able to handle all that had happened to him, by reverting to a time he’d felt safe.
It was the nature of hell, souls here had no bodies, no mass. They were only what they believed themselves to be. Whether it was tortured bodies on a rack or opulent kings, if the soul believed it, it was what they were. Crowley couldn’t begin to imagine the souls coming in that genuinely believed to be in whatever paradise they’d expected themselves to end up in, until some demon corrected their errors. Some believers created city scopes so great that most around them never bothered to break their folly.
Innocence like this, it was a common hiding place amongst the broken, finding their peace in the last place left to them. The boy was playing with a car, driving it along a racetrack, not caring about the “I wuv hugs” drawing on his shirt, that the adult version would have hated. And for a moment Crowley was hit with the possibilities. To not just keep the soul from Alistair, hide him and be done with it. But instead, to control it.
He might not have dealt with the Winchesters himself, but everyone knew about the oldest Winchester’s daddy issues. If he could play into that, control it, then the Righteous Man was his and there’d be nothing either the angels, or Lilith and Lucifer’s loyal minions could do to stop him.
So he forced a smile on his face and moved inside, kneeling next to the boy and offering him his arms. He didn’t even have to pretend the smile when the boy ran right towards him, some part of the boy’s soul still remembering that Crowley had been the one to free him from his suffering. The memory of an end of pain made it easy to have his own face planted over that of another. “There, there, lad. Daddy’s here. Everything’s going to be just fine.”
And if the boy asked for his brother, it was so easy to just push that aside, after all, it was only a child he was dealing with.
Crowley focused on the runes surfacing the tablet. A tablet that had taken him a prize beyond mention to get his hands on. He’d been staring at it for hours, still trying to find out what if any language it was written in, when he looked up and saw Dean was staring at him. The boy looked as if he was trying to figure something out, the toy car lay still at his feet. The demon stopped himself from saying something, just put his finger at his lips. Dean smiled and copied him. Considering how much trouble Dean Winchester had caused hell, it was a wonder how good a kid he was.
The boy got up and went to pick up his coloring books before sitting back down and focusing on filling the drawing of the gun in several versions of red and black. Crowley wondered if he should push the soul to age up, or allow him to continue growing on his own pace. Part of him thought he might miss the kid’s current age if he did. Compliance was a hard thing to come by where kids were involved, and Dean as a toddler was so easy to please.
He finally put down the tablet and created another book for the boy, sitting down next to him. Dean rewarded him with a smile as bright as the sun. Crowley opened the book. “A is for Azazel,” he said, “who rots in the dirt for all time. B is for Beelzebub…” And letter by letter he named one of the High Lords of hell, including himself in the list. After all, if you were going to teach a kid to read, you might as well teach him something really worthwhile to know.
After reading time, Crowley took the kid with him to the kitchen. Dean tried to help of course, but Crowley quickly told him to sit in his chair while he prepared supper. Soon both sat down before an elegant meal that the kid barely picked at before forcing himself to eat whatever Crowley had put on his plate.
Dean had tried to refuse at first. Crowley hadn’t even needed to punish him, just a look of disappointment when he’d pretended he was about to throw away good food had done the job of making sure that every last bit of the food got eaten.
It was proof enough that not all of the boy’s memories were gone. A healthy child wouldn’t be this obedient, and the Winchester’s life hadn’t gone to hell until after the boy was older than he was now. Yet this child knew exactly the lessons of what disappointing his father would bring and did everything to avoid even a hint of it in his father’s eyes.
Crowley could see it in the way the boy flinched at the sight of his father’s knives. A reaction that lessened as Crowley took it upon himself to make new toys carved out of wood, to get the boy used to knives used at the table, to see knives that didn’t hurt but built or helped. Fear was a dangerous emotion to have in hell, and Crowley couldn’t let it continue to stand in his way.
Crowley turned back towards the boy.
Crowley hated to admit it, but it turned out it was his own arrogance that nearly became his downfall. Or so he found out when he returned to his chambers and found a couple of lowly daevas attacking the boy. Dean was holding them off well enough, using some of the knives Crowley kept around the rooms. It was only by sheer luck and the daeva’s nature that he hadn’t yet shed any blood. But it was obvious that he was on the losing end. If Crowley had been seconds later, the boy would have probably given up on his protections and reverted back to his grown up self. And older self that was already forming around the boy like a shadow, a mist that hadn’t yet set but was clinging on and building up towards solidity
Instead Crowley went on a massive rampage, destroying any of the daevas in the room, scattering their pieces to all the directions of hell where it would take them ages to reassemble. Dean ran up to Crowley for comfort, shaking in the aftermath and Crowley didn’t allow him to be disappointed, picking the boy up in his arms and stroking over his hair, telling him that everything would be all right, that there was nothing left to fear. It took over an hour before the ghost image of the older version of his boy faded into the background and he was left with his young charge instead.
“I’m sorry, sir.” Dean whispered, pulling himself together and away from Crowley, wiping away his tears with the hem of his shirt. “I didn’t mean to be a crybaby.”
“It’s fine, Dean. You’re young still. And you did quite well against the daevas.”
The look of pride on the boy’s face in response to his words was unmistakable.
“Can’t let any other bunch of idiots try and break in like this.”
He whistled and the next thing he knew, a heap of slobbering black shade crowded over him.
Dean stood frozen in place. Crowley wondered if it was the similarity to the daevas that was causing the problem, or the memory of the hellhounds that had dragged his adult version down to the pit.
“Dean, meet your new best friend, Shadow. He’s going to stay with you when I can’t be here to protect you.”
The words were said as much to the hellhound as they were to Dean. A clear order to the Hound to protect the boy to all levels of its abilities.
The little boy stared at what must have surely looked like a monster to him, before looking at Crowley, strengthening his will, and taking a step forward. Small thick fingers moving slowly over the beast’s snout. Shadow pushed back, the hound was a sucker for a good petting. Soon hound and boy were rolling over the floor, claws nicely kept away from the boy’s fragile flesh. The hell hound was five times larger than the boy, and yet there was no fear visible on the boy’s face. Stupidly trustful, it pleased him more than he’d thought it would.
Crowley took the time to clean up. After all, someone had to do so, and it wasn’t like he could get some of the new souls to do it for him, not unless he planned to feed them to Shadow right after. Not that that would be a bad thing, but then again, he couldn’t risk upsetting the boy, now could he?
It took another five years before Dean started asking if he was allowed to play outside. Oh he’d wondered before, but he’d been so easily distracted that Crowley hadn’t bothered to refuse. But he was aging along with his years in hell, and the strapping young lad standing in front of him was growing more and more focused with every passing year.
It was odd to think that he’d always heard about how Dean was the muscle to Sam’s smarts, that Dean was supposed to be a brainless thug. Crowley wondered if he’d met the man before hell, if he too would have underestimated the older Winchester brother and would have ended up paying the price of doing so. Just as Azazel had.
“I’ll be careful,” Dean said. “And Shadow will be right with me.” The hellhound was wagging its tails in clear support of its young master. Even a clear glare from Crowley himself didn’t change the hound’s allegiance.
“I said no, and that’s final.”
The boy’s face fell and he turned around, didn’t run off, he’d been taught better than that, but his calm precise pace heading to his bedroom was a clear sign of a sulk.
Shadow was still glaring at him and Crowley just glared right back until the hound’s eyes turned away.
“What was I supposed to do? Let him go out and play in hell, where any old demon could grab him up for their own games?” The hound whined sadly. “He’s not ready to face hell, not yet.”
That’s when he heard the door of Dean’s room fall shut, knowing the boy had heard what he was saying. He hesitated a moment before heading up to the room where Dean sat on his bed, one of his books open on his lap. “Myths and legends of hell. Truths and inaccuracies.”
“Are we in hell?” Dean whispered, staring down at the book, something sounded broken in his voice. Crowley nodded and sat down next to him, placing his hands on the boy’s thigh. “How?”
“Well you are my son, Dean. And I am the King of the Crossroads. Where else should the ruler of all Crossroad demons live?”
The boy agreed, putting down the book. “I’m not helpless, sir. I can look after myself.”
“I know you can, and when you’re ready, you’ll stand by my side to help me rule, but until then, you’ll stay inside.”
But he couldn’t forget the disappointment on Dean’s face. And it wasn’t like it was that much of an effort to extend his home and add a garden. He didn’t even bother to pretend to himself that it had been for his own best interest, even if it did help Shadow to exercise his energy outside instead of in the house.
And if it kept Dean inside the walls for another five years then well… it definitely couldn’t hurt.
When the angel first came, Dean had been with Crowley for ten years. They were celebrating their own version of Christmas, with half eaten gingerbread men covering the tree along with chains and locks. The angel glittered and glowed and Crowley didn’t even bother to try and curse it.
“You’re not taking him,” the demon said, “he hasn’t even opened his presents yet.”
The angel stared at the young teenager, and back at the demon. “This is an odd form of torment,” the angel answered. Its voice rang through hell, as a lunch bell for anything dark and Crowley wanted to do nothing more than get him out as fast as possible.
“It’s Christmas, what did you expect.”
The angel seemed baffled, lowering its sword and Crowley decided he’d better let it enter before it led anything dark and awful to his home.
“It’s about lying to kids so they’ll be good the next year. You should be well familiar with it.”
So the angel sat at the table with them and ate their dinner with them, and Crowley learned that its name was Castiel. By the end of the evening the angel promised to return the next day. That happened again every day for the next year, and the one after that. By the time Dean turned twenty the angel was a known fixture of their home, who desperately tried to convince the boy to just return home to earth with it.
“But what about your brother?” the angel finally asked.
And barriers broke that Crowley had taken so much care to put up, memories hitting the boy, aging him several years in one moment. “Sam,” Dean whispered. “Sammy.”
Dean stared up at Crowley. “Dad?”
Crowley sat in his chair, dabbed his napkin across his lips before placing it down with his knife.
“It’s your choice, Dean.”
So when Dean left with the angel, Crowley hugged his boy before watching them head up. And he hadn’t even needed to bargain a soul to bring the boy back to life.
When he returned to earth, once again wearing his favorite meatsuit, covered in the finest suit his tailor could create, he knew that all he had to do was wait, and prepare Dean’s rooms. Because he knew his boy would return for him. After all, Dean was the good son and he had a hound waiting to welcome him home.