It’s Kansas, or it isn’t; there are no wheat-lined horizons or open-wide blue skies in this corner of the world, and that’s...
Now, seriously, it was never my intention to be a leader of anything… but I won’t deny the fact that people consider me like that…...
Struggling to stay on his feet, Castiel stumbled across the road towards the first payphone he’d seen in miles. Cars skidded past...
“Cas, Cas come back, I have something to tell you” his eyes won’t open, but he can feel the cool hand sweeping the sweat from his brow, “Cas, tell Sammy to keep fighting, he should take down the yellow eyes, he’s the one— he’s” he chokes, his throat feels dry and hot, his tongue is stuck to the top of his mouth, his lips feel cracked and raw. “Cas?” he’s shivering so hard his teeth are chattering, “Cas, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I got you into this mess”
There is light and shadows behind his eyelids but he doesn’t dare to open his eyes and realize he’s hallucinating again, the shivers have stopped but now he’s feeling really weak, a distant part of his brain reminds him that he should get up in case something attacks him again but he’s too tired to try; his entire body feels to heavy to move at all, he goes back to sleep again.
Next time he wakes up he’s throwing up bile. He tries turning to his side as far as he can from where he’s lying to not get soaked on spit and goo, the moment he tries to sit up slightly he’s out cold again.
“Sam, Sammy, you gotta call Cas, I think there’s something really wrong with me.” The shivers are back, and his mouth tastes like something went up and died in there. “Sam I need to go—” he tries to sit up but a hand gently guides him to a lying position.
“Cas? What’s wrong with me?” he’s coughing up again, “What—”
“Don’t speak, go back to sleep.”
He’s back to feeling better, there’s no throbbing of his throat where the siren’ scratch was, but he still feels pretty exhausted, he tries opening his eyes but he can’t see anything, he blinks a couple of times remembering he’s still on the tunnels.
“Cas?” he whispers, “Cas please be there,” he hears a shriek on the end of the tunnel he’s facing, still unable to see a damn thing, he fumbles for the saint’s bone, clutching it tightly in his hand, cursing his body for feeling still so weak. He doesn’t hear anything else for a while. He starts praying to Castiel furiously but no one answers him before he passes out.
Things are bad, things are really, really bad Dean thinks, because he knows that a fever doesn’t break out on its own, you don’t pass out on a damp cave and wake up magically cured from mermaid poison, that’s not how things work. So when Dean goes to examine his neck and sees that the inflammation is gone, and that so is the dull ache of the wound, he knows there must be something terribly wrong with him. He’s going to die, he’s going to die in purgatory and God knows what that will turn him into. Can his soul even leave the freaking place? He doesn’t even feel cold anymore. When he looks around and sees nothing he panics, but then he remembers he’s still in a pitch black cave. He feels a gust of wind coming from his back, which could possibly mean he’s near an exit, and wouldn’t it be his luck if he had actually fainted so near a way out; which is ten kinds of wrong, seriously, do you wanna get killed Winchester? He goes for his lighter and realizes there’s something on top of him, he can feel rough fabric and buttons from what he can grasp with his hands; he hurries to turn on the lighter; he gives himself some time to register what he’s seeing, a tan trench coat is resting on top of him and on his side is his knife, the knife he lost when he ran away and entered the cavern. He scrambles to his feet hitting the ceiling of the cave so hard he lands on his ass, so he goes crawling to the entrance before trying to stand up again, following the current of air since he still can’t see a thing, his heart beating fast in his chest, he finds the entrance and he’s is just standing up when a pair of blue eyes appear in front of him.
“Cas” Dean whispers, his mouth suddenly going dry. The angel takes a step back, revealing a dark sky that barely outlines the cave entrance, “Hello Dean.”
He’s moving when he comes back to himself, he feels thirsty, which it’s impossible according to Cas; he is supposed to be looking for water but can’t be bothered anymore, “You go search for water Sammy, I’m gonna lie down in here for a while” he says out loud but the echo throws him off; since when there is echo on a motel room? “Oh right, purgatory. How can I forget such a lovely place.” He croaks. He remembers entering the cave and passing out but he doesn’t remember the cave being this long, or dark, was it really this dark? And why is it so cold in here?
On the few moments when his head is clear, he takes his time to assess the situation, his main weapon is gone, his clothes are in tatters, his temperature keeps rising and the wound has starting to ooze something that smells awful, which Dean doesn’t want to think about. He searches his pockets but can only find a lighter, one feather and the leviathan weapon, which is a bone, a bone with a sharp end but still, just a bone. Maybe the fact that is from a saint will help, but Dean doesn’t really have high hopes of being able to do much damage with it.
He tries to go back from where he came, but like everything in here, it isn’t that easy; there are moments in which he wakes up passed out on the floor where he panics because he can’t feel anything around him, he has to take out his lighter and stumble to search for a wall so he has a way of knowing where he’s going and to support himself since he doesn’t seem to be able to keep himself up on his own; he can’t see a damn thing and the fact that purgatory seems to shift like its alive and actively trying to get him lost, gives Dean no hope of finding any exit at all.
He finally gives up and tries to shift his location on his own, he closes his eyes and concentrates, but for some reason every time he tries, even if he feels the tug and rumble of the world shifting around him, when he opens his eyes and turns to look around, his surroundings are still complete darkness and endless dusty walls.
The temperature keeps dropping the more he keeps moving forward but Dean’s own seems to be going up and up. He begins to cough at some point when he’s taking a break, his feet sore and his back on the wall, he goes for his lighter the minute he feels the taste of his mouth growing metallic, he looks at his fingers and really, really hopes he’s hallucinating this too because what he was expecting was blood, what he isn’t expecting is having leviathan goo coming out from his mouth. He dabs one of his fingers on the wound on his neck and brings it to closer inspection and of course his wound is oozing black goo as well, the smell coming from it that Dean had stopped noticing because he had been constantly smelling it was still disgusting and strong as ever.
He discovers that he isn’t on a cave when he stumbles into an open space, the ceiling has completely fell off which makes possible for the dull light from the forest to enter, Dean actually has to take a few moments for his view to adjust after wandering aimlessly on the pitch black tunnels, the place seems eerily calm, almost like he’s not in purgatory but just a dusty old cave. He’s thinking of maybe staying in there to rest when the sound of a branch snapping sets him off running on the opposite direction again back into a gap that is at one side of the open dome into more dark tunnels. He’s wheezing and gagging, throwing up bile by the time he stops; another wave of dizziness hits him and he’s back on the floor unconscious once again.
For cleaner versions:
Things are bad, things are really, really bad Dean thinks, because he knows that a fever doesn’t break out on its own, you don’t pass out on a damp cave and wake up magically cured from mermaid poison, that’s not how things work, so when Dean goes to examine his neck and sees that the inflammation is gone, and that so is the dull ache of the wound, he knows there must be something terribly wrong with him. He’s going to die, he’s going to die in purgatory and God knows what that will turn him into. Can his soul even leave the freaking place? He doesn’t even feel cold anymore. when he looks around and sees nothing he panics, but then he remembers, the cave is pitch black and he’s probably facing the other way from the entrance, which is ten kinds of wrong, seriously, do you wanna get killed Winchester? He goes for his lighter and realizes there’s something on top of him, he can feel rough fabric and buttons from what he can grab so he hurries to turn on the lighter, he gives himself some time to register what he’s seeing, a tan trench coat is resting on top of him and on his side is his knife, the knife he lost when he ran away last night, or at least last time it has seen dark. He scrambles to his feet hitting the ceiling of the cave so hard he lands on his ass so this time he crawls to the entrance before trying to stand up again, his heart beating fast in his chest, he finds it and he’s finally able to stand up when a pair of blue eyes appear in front of him. “Cas” Dean whispered, his mouth suddenly going dry. The angel takes a step back, revealing a dark sky that barely outlines the outside of the cave, “Hello Dean.”
He’s dreaming of an ocean that extends in front of him, the water seems muddy, dark, the sky as always is cloudy, with light coming from somewhere above those clouds. He’s thinking that he has to get in, he must keep moving. Dean feels the water lapping at his boots, how they start to get gradually wet, the cold reaching his feet and ankles, he sees the point where the waves break, his feet dragging in the sand and pebbles below the water. But the current is too strong, by the time the water is at his hips, he falls and is swept by the waves back into the shore. Dean keeps trying to get in, to walk farther away, but each time he loses his balance and the waves push him to the shore. But he keeps trying because there’s something he must reach, something important on the bottom of that ocean and if he could just dive past the waves he will see it—
He wakes up when the buzzing sound becomes too intolerable. He looks around but there’s nothing around, he’s in purgatory forest, too drowsy still because of the siren poison. He slowly starts to remember, the fight, the scratch in his neck, what the thing said to him; he tries to stand up only to see his view black out and to feel nauseous. He hasn’t eaten anything so thank god he has nothing to vomit, but it takes him a while to finally clear his head. Now that he mentions it, his head, he places the back of his wrist on his forehead feeling for his temperature, he’s a little feverish, and the scratch from the siren feels hotter and pulses. “Not good.” he mutters trying to stand up once more, this time using a nearby tree for support. Water, he must find water to clean the wound, the scratch itself isn’t deadly, it have just weaken him, but that alone can kill him if he’s not careful.
So he walks, this time paying attention to the sounds around him, maybe he could hear a stream nearby, but of course he only hears the growls and yells of who knows what at the distance.
“The water isn’t, safe.”
“Yes I know Cas but what else can I do about the scratch huh?”
No one answers him, “no other ideas genius?” he finds one of the feathers in his pocket and caresses it, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
The creatures don’t leave him alone for long, but Dean has become good at hiding and dodging them. Even though they are faster and deadlier in here than the ones he used to hunt, they seem to lack any sort of brain, only going for him on instinct, never playing the advantage they have on numbers, Dean is relieved, especially now he’s a little slower on the uptake.
He falls more times than he can count, and sometimes when he comes back to him the world had changed around him. In those times he prays to Castiel, telling him what he sees. Panic settles when he’s fighting a rougarou, pretty sure it’s a rougarou, when the thing tries to reach for him and grabs his jacket, clings to it and tears it up, he’s stabbing its arm so it lets go of him when from the corner of his eye he sees something white on the floor, he turns to look and has barely enough time to register it’s the feather before the rougarou is tackling him to the ground, Dean elbows the creature to gain enough leverage to turn around and stab it on the chest, second time on the arm making it useless, and suddenly he’s panicking (=) because he can’t see the feather anymore, he stands up touching the pocket where it should be but there is no pocket, it had been ripped right off from his coat and now he’s shaking, “No no no!” he hits the rougarou on the solar plexus throwing it out of balance and stabbing it on its thigh three times. “Give it back you bastard!” he screams as the rougarou lounges at him, this time Dean cuts his head right off; panting, he stands up and looks for the white dot on the ground, but he doesn’t see it, he drops the knife and gets on his knees scattering the blood soaked leaves that always cover the forest floor, “this isn’t happening, I didn’t meant to—” but he’s cut short by another growl at his right, he looks up on time to see a set of red eyes springing to him, he goes for the knife but only manages to push it farther away. He kicks the thing on top of him then, with one hand while the other is holding its head off by the neck away from his own head, the creature barely out of reach from his face, Dean can smell the acrid breath of it as it growls trying to bite him. He manages to push it away and crawl to the place where the demon knife lies discarded, but the creature grabs him by his ankle and pulls, so Dean kicks at it spinning around to face it, then there’s not just one but three set of eyes looking at him, and he’s scrapping to his feet and running through the forest as it grows thicker and thicker, trees cutting his path. Eventually he’s too tired to run, his vision is swimming in front of him, and the buzzing noise is back again on full force, he sees a small cave up ahead partially hidden by a fallen tree. Dean has to practically crawl inside trying to adjust his eyes to the complete darkness inside only to remember a little too late that he has a lighter, he fumbles a little, still on his knees, till he finally finds it, turns it on and looks up. This is very well useless because if there was something inside the cave Dean would already be tasty monster treat by now, but better be sure than monster chow he guesses. When he sees nothing he collapses on the floor of the cave trying to hear if there is anything approaching, maybe some monster that had chased him from the fight, but the noises that he can hear are far enough to not sound threatening so he finally lets a shaky breath out, willing himself not to fall asleep because there was something important he is supposed to retrieve from where he was fighting with the creatures and if he could just concentrate he would remember what it was.
Is not until later when he opens his eyes again because of the light coming from the grey sky that he remembers about the knife, and the feather. He consoles himself knowing that at least he has a feather left.
Time doesn’t exist in Purgatory. Cas had told him that but Dean hadn’t really thought about it. It’s not until he’s waiting on something -on someone- that this catches up to him. He has tried to walk on a right line in some attempt to not get too lost, so maybe this way Cas can find him faster. But is useless, because the forest turns into a river that ends in a great expand of land, Dean had decided to go that way thinking there won’t be a place where the creatures could hide or set traps. What he doesn’t think about, and how could he not, how did you not realize this Dean, what are you thinking? Focus. Is that there is no place to hide himself either.
He walks what probably is less than days, but feels like it, with nothing jumping on him, he hears distant cries and growls, sometimes a little too close for comfort, but never near. Is not until he’s resting for the tenth time that he wonders if this is a good thing, what could possible keep purgatory creatures away from this place can’t be good. Right? Once he realizes nothings coming for him, he tries to stay in the same place for longer periods of time, thinking maybe this too could help the angel to track him down faster. But he discovers that staying still fogs his mind, makes him tired, one day he wakes up -and when had he fell asleep- and the fire he had built when there was brighter light is gone. There’s no ash, no scattered pieces of wood remain, only dry grass all around him; And so is gone the light that came from the cloudy horizon.
Dean realizes he doesn’t know where he’s going either, is he walking through where he came? Left or right? Has he passed through here? He starts to leave a trail, creatures be damned, what good is it going to do to get caught by them if he can’t even tell which way to run away from? He starts ripping his shirt, and leaving pieces below rocks, it’s hard to distinguish but the other thing he has is his own blood and he’s not that crazy yet.
He also notices he doesn’t get hungry, or tired, unless he stands still. Or at least not too tired, because there’s an ache and weariness that had settled on him the moment they arrived to this place.
Of course, he thinks of Cas, who is catching up to him, he would be able to see the pieces of shirt, the scratched rocks or fires Dean had left in his wake. He will catch up to him soon, very soon, Dean is constantly turning around, because maybe next time he looks Castiel would be there, or next time. You can never be sure in this place.
He knows there is something wrong the minute he can’t see his extended hand in front of him anymore, he had been thinking of cries in the distance and the sound of rustling feathers, not really paying attention to where he was going; he still kept the knife in his right hand because you never know. They get to you when you least expect them Winchester, you always need to be prepared. Never let your guard down you hear me Dean?, John is telling him as he inhales the fog, but Dean realizes this isn’t fog, but smoke, and its getting strong enough to water his eyes and make his nose and throat to burn. He makes a stop and tries to even out his breathing, trying to rule over a wave of panic that begins to swallow him. Dean looks back, this time looking for an exit. Where did he come from? Which direction was he taking? Was it north? He was supposed to be following a straight line, how could he have forgotten. He takes his lighter and makes a flame lifting it as far as he can see, but the flame doesn’t flicker except for his own movement.
“Cas you sonofabitch, you get your ass down here right now.” he says and coughs, his voice rough from lack of use. How long has it been without saying a single word?
“No. Stay focus. Damnit.” Dean tries to steady his breathing again. He puts the lighter on his pocket again and reaches to the inside pocket of his jacket for what’s inside. The moment his hand closes around one of the feathers is like someone had thrown him a bucket of cold water. His senses sharpen, and some of the heaviness he was feeling is gone. He starts walking again, faster this time, looking for something that will help him orient himself. He thinks either way he reaches whatever it is making all this smoke, or gets out of it. Whatever happens he must keep going, keep walking and walking.
Eventually the fog gets thicker, and there are things that attack him, they don’t seem to have a body because the knife doesn’t scratch them, but they seem to be slow enough that Dean can out run them.
When Dean finally starts seeing trees again he has to stop once again, because he feels like crying. Of course he doesn’t cry, but he can’t help laughing at it, so he just sits in front of one of them still too small to provide any shelter, and starts laughing, letting some of his stress out; he laughs and laughs until he remembers that the sound might attract something and he wipes the tears from his eyes, “Cas, if you’re hearing this, I’m out of the fog, and actually welcoming some action over here” he hears a gurgle coming from somewhere over his left, “You hear that bastards? Come and get me! I’m ready.” Dean knows he’s not gonna appreciate this forever, but it’s a relief to finally see something else than dead grass and fog.
He keeps moving through the forest, finding each time more and more creatures. Now with the forest surrounding him is easier to lose them; if anything it keeps him busy from his own thoughts. Fighting is something he can do, instead of waiting and waiting. The battles with these monsters keep him sharp; keep him from remembering that it doesn’t matter where he goes because he’s not going anywhere. Sometimes he gets confused and yells for Sam to back him up, he hears footsteps when there are only his on the bed of dead leaves and hears the echo of a too human scream. He then starts yelling for them, taunting them to come and get a piece of Winchester ass, he yells until something jumps him from the darkness and tackles him to the ground; and then he’s fighting back one, two, up to five. And even though it helps him to fight, he’s not suicidal yet and he goes for a hiding place the moment the creatures out number him too much.
He tries to climb the trees to see something, but even up on the tallest pine he could climb, there’s a thick fog that stops him from seeing anything farther away than a mile, and it’s just trees and trees ahead of him, more trees behind.
When he sleeps he discovers that purgatory has moved while he was gone. One time he had awaken on a plain that looked awfully familiar. He had closed his eyes willing it to change; he could have sworn he felt the earth beneath him grumbling as it moved.
He also keeps talking to Cas, telling him where he is, about the Jefferson starship he found as he moved towards the mountain; of that river that he swore was whispering to him, or how he learned that he could switch locations if he concentrated hard enough. Not that it mattered where he went, but it was a nice trick to pull if things got a little heavy with the monsters that attacked him.
He walked with a feather on his front pocket, the hand that wasn’t clutching the demon knife inside of it stroking the soft barbs over and over, he doesn’t know if it’s got some of Cas mojo in it or is just his mind playing tricks but it calms him, it makes him feel a little more rested, less weary.
He meets a siren, or something that says it is one. It whispers to him and Dean doesn’t want to think too much in how relieving it is to hear someone else’s voice after all this time, even if it is in hisses and echoes and makes the hair from the back of his neck stand when he hears it. Dean is about to dispatch her, fight long enough and chop enough limbs and the fuckers don’t get up again, circling around her when she speaks again,
“You smell like him hunter”
“Yeah, I bet I smell even better.” Dean doesn’t have to ask what ‘him’ she’s referring to.
“Maybe you even taste better.” She says as she tries to claw Dean on his calves, unable to get up after the number Dean did on her legs.
This time the shiver Dean feels is not just from how preternaturally ugly her voice sounds. “Yeah? I bet you could barely scratch the sole of his feet, bitch.” he slashes at her but she ducks in time, there is howling getting closer from behind Dean.
She laughs, “Oh I did more than scratch, his grace,” she pauses and closes her eyes, enjoying taunting him; “His grace is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted, hunter. Maybe your soul could have a similar flavor.”
Dean manages to pin her hand with the knife to the ground, she catches her head by her hair and pulls back, she screeches as she registers the pain from her impaled hand.
“You’re a lying bitch.”
“Am I?” she snaps, “tell me something hunter, what do you think is keeping him so long from reaching you?”
The look she’s giving him startles Dean.
“You know hunter and you are the one that is lying to yourself!” she lunges forward with her free hand reaching for his neck, she does scratch him but Dean manages to grab the knife and stab her in the neck before she can do any more damage. He gets up and applies pressure to the wound, he knows he won’t die from it but it is no good to go around stinking of freaking human when you’re in the middle of monster land. He has to find water now, because safe or not, he thinks is a lot safer than the poison that is entering through the wound in his neck.
That night he lies on the forest floor, partially covered by leaves as the poison starts working on him, and prays to Castiel with all that’s left of his wits, clutching both feathers in one hand and the knife in the other. As he drifts off he keeps hearing the rustling of feathers, far above him.
At some point in the fight the creatures surround Cas. He had explained to Dean that while a human soul could draw unwanted attention in here, what drove them crazy was his grace.
“Dean, run!” he screams as he trusts his angel blade through one of the creature’s eyes. Dean keeps hacking with the demon knife, trying to get back to Cas, he knows his chances of surviving without Cas would probably go down to negative anyways.
“I’m not leaving you here Cas”
“Dean I’ll find you again. Go!”
Dean’s arms are growing tired, his steps begin to feel uncertain; the forest floor turns muddy with all the blood and guts left by the creatures that keep getting up and attacking them.
“You said it.” the knife gets caught in a creature’s neck, “We don’t split up.” Dean kicks another one that is lying on the floor, willing it to stay down. “We won’t be able to find each other again.”
He can hear the strain that this is taking from Cas too.
In a moment, Cas is on the other side of the clearing with too many creatures surrounding him, the next he’s at an arm’s length from Dean, placing a fist of something bloody in his free hand, the creatures still clinging to him through teeth and claws.
“Take this. I will be able to find you as long as you have it.” Cas’ eyes and the blood spilling from his forehead are the only colors Dean can see in this place. “Now GO!” he says as Dean feels an invisible force pushing him outside the clearing. The creatures don’t seem to notice that he’s gone, all too happy to keep gnawing at the angel till they find the tasty gooey center full of grace.
Dean runs before he can think better of what he’s doing, willing his aching feet to keep running, to keep working after all the time he had of not stopping.
It is not until he finds in a grove a tree trunk dry enough to hide behind that he takes a look at what Cas has given him, his hand is still smeared in blood as he opens his fist, finding two bloodied feathers lying in his open palm. He’s shaking, he realizes that the blood in his hands probably doesn’t belong to the purgatory creatures only, but to Cas as well, and he probably should have known this by now, and he does, but knowing something in theory and finally seeing it applied to reality, to his reality, are two different things. Now he knows Cas can get hurt too. Now he knows the rules don’t apply to him either. Dean keeps shaking for a while, crying won’t help now Winchester. You gotta keep going, Dean reminds himself.
He cleans the feathers with his saliva, since you can’t trust even water from this place. He scrubs them with his fingers until they turn a pink color instead of the vivid red they were and he wipes what’s left of the caked blood off on his jeans. Takes a deep breath, stands up and keeps on walking.