Purgatory sucks. Not all the time - just most. Once you're over the initial shock of being transported to somewhere that most people don't think is real and you come to accept that you're probably going to wind up being ripped to bits, then you're golden.
Next you have to get used to the smell, because Purgatory stinks worse than a dead baboon's armpit dipped in sour milk and wrapped in week old gym socks. Eventually you just stop noticing it, or maybe it's your mind's way of blocking out the humiliation because let's face it - with no handy laundromat it's a given that you stink just as badly.
Then there's the dining facilities. They suck too, mainly because there aren't any. Ever took pity on a poor bastard who's dumpster diving or eating roadkill? A stint in Purgatory and you'll wish you were that guy. Of course the biggest kick in the dick is-
"Hey, look! Our meal's trying to escape again."
Dean's mental authoring of the latest chapter of Purgatory for Dummies is rudely cut short. A pair of hands grab him roughly and drag him away from the mouth of the cave. He'd made it a pitiful eight or ten meters, but the glimmer of daylight had given him hope that he might make it this time before the bastards returned. So delirious was he that he might finally get away, he'd taken up his Purgatory survival guide as a way to keep his mind occupied while he inched his way along the stony ground to freedom.
He's dumped unceremoniously against the cave wall, his leather jacket absorbing little of the impact. His vision swims. He counts three of them, but his eyesight is already proving unreliable so he could be wrong.
Fucking vamps. Fucking, fucking vamps.
His opinion of spending time with them prior to his arrival here had been somewhere between vacationing with Osama Bin Laden and genital herpes on a scale of experiences he'd enjoy. Now he'd gladly take both together over this.
When they first captured him, they taunted him with threats of turning him. He hadn't intended to tell them that ship had already sailed, but they were just so fucking smug. When they realised that the threat of being made a vamp held no weight, they then told him that they'd keep him - a never ending, all you can eat buffet, providing they took their time between courses.
Realistically he doubts they ever planned to turn him. Purgatory is survival of the fittest so no one's interested in upping the amount of competition. Sometimes he finds himself wishing that they had, because a few extra teeth to brush would be way better than being the personal snack box of Edward Cullen and his douchebag friends.
Typically, they're arguing over who gets first go. They've been draining him for so many weeks now, it's not long before his blood goes from Dom Perignon to raw sewage, so they're all clamouring for who gets the good stuff. Sometimes it turns physical, and he's rooting for it to get so violent that it ends in death for one or two of them so maybe he's a chance of getting his strength back and busting out of here.
It's never anything more than a schoolyard squabble though, with egos being the only thing that get bruised. Although competition isn't a good idea here, there is some sense in safety in numbers.
He'd operated under the same principle too. After the initial what the fuck, I'm in Purgatory, swiftly followed by what the fuck, where'd the angel go? Cas had eventually reappeared, apologetically explaining that he'd disappeared in an attempt to draw off attackers since angels apparently give off a stink of their own that acts like a pheromone to monsters. The time he'd spent on his own, which felt like months, but in fact was probably only a few weeks, had made him distrustful of Cas's overtures of peace. A combination of necessity and puppy dog eyes, second only to Sammy's, had eventually brought the Purgatory chapter of Team Free Will to harmony once more, and they'd continued on together.
"You ready?" Vamp Number One says with a grin, suddenly uncomfortably close. The other two will be waiting in the background, spitting curses and plotting to overthrow the victor even though they'll never actually follow through and do it, because vamps apparently have no balls beneath their sparkly skinny jeans.
He locks eyes with the vamp, hoping he's still able to pull off some kind of death glare even though he just wants to close his eyes and be done. The vamp hauls him up by the lapels of his jacket. Once upon a time he used to fight them off, so the vamps that weren't feeding would help pin him down. Now... Now, he's barely got the energy to blink, so his arms lie at his sides while his hands curl weakly into fists that will never punch anyone, vampire or otherwise.
Vomit rises in his throat as the vamp leans in, hot breath ghosting his neck. It's too intimate, too close to his happy place of fucks gone by when a girl would get a little rough and want to mark him with her teeth or lips, and it's almost a relief when the vamp finally breaks the skin. He hates them all equally, but this bastard suckles noisily. The sound is like nails on a chalkboard, but it's still preferable to the other one, who has a habit of caressing his hair as he feeds, like they're lovers and this is completely consensual.
In an attempt to ensure that his sanity isn't sucked out along with his blood, he returns to narrating the book he would write if he had a pen and some paper and the faintest inclination to actually write a book.
Of course the biggest kick in the dick is having to set aside any prejudices or old grievances if you want to stay alive. Former enemies may make the best allies, and it is foolish to disregard or dismiss any invitation to team up, with the obvious caveat that no one should be completely trusted.
Benny had been a surprising addition to their number, especially given his thoughts (see above) on vamps. Aside from saving his life before Cas got his shit stink under control, Benny also made a compelling argument about looking for the door out of Purgatory, as well as being a roguishly charming bastard with the bluest eyes he'd ever seen, Cas included.
It's occurred to him that the brain unconsciously makes choices to replicate past experiences because familiarity is comforting and he quickly realises that he's set himself up with John and Sam Winchester part two. Not a day goes by when he's not trying to mediate between Benny and Cas, and sure, this time there aren't the fiery temperaments and utter stubbornness of his father and brother to contend with, but his new companions can certainly sulk with the best of them, which is equally tedious to deal with.
They disagree on everything, from the direction in which they're travelling, to the dichotomy between science and religion (Benny thinks the Bible is full of shit and Cas, obviously, doesn't). He listens to their endless whining and ignores their attempts to get him to take sides. Neither can understand what he sees in the other, but neither is willing to give him a 'it's him or me' ultimatum, which he's ridiculously grateful for.
He's never stopped trying to get them to bond though - after all, he knows they're better together than apart, even if his use of well-known motivational platitudes about teamwork result in them arguing about which famous intelligent minds they'd known personally (Castiel said Seneca the Elder was a very nice man, Benny said Oscar Wilde was one of the best fucks he’d ever had).
Vamp Number One stops feeding suddenly, sharpened teeth scraping against his collar bone as it pulls free. The look of hunger is still there, but it won't risk taking too much. They all want their share and, frankly, there's not much left to go around. He wonders what would happen if he died here. Would he go to Heaven or Hell or just hit the reset switch here? A fourth option is that there'd just be nothingness, but he knows he's got fuck-all chance of being that lucky.
"My turn," Vamp Number Two says.
He thanks his lucky stars that he passes out before the hair stroking begins.
An indeterminate period of time later he comes to. He hopes he's been out long enough for all three of the vamps to have their fill, but it's clear Vamp Number Three was waiting to check that he didn't die before he took his share. He groans weakly and idly wonders if this toxic mix of pain and tedium is what Purgatory is like until he remembers that it is. To add injury to injury, because insult isn't enough anymore, the vamp slaps him hard across the face.
"No dying on us, asshole," the vamp says, which frankly is fucking rich since he wouldn't be dying if it wasn't for them.
As he endures the final fang's attentions, he thinks of Cas and Benny again. He's almost certain that they made it out alive of the scrape that saw him captured by the trio of vamps and he hopes, for both their sakes, that they can sack up and work together to stick to the plan and get the fuck out of Dodge. He laughs to himself at the absurdity of it, causing the vamp to give him a sharp look. He's seriously fucking losing it. The reality is ten seconds after they realised he was gone, they'd have either killed each other or gone their separate ways so that they didn't kill each other. The best he can reasonably hope for is the latter.
The final vamp suddenly pulls back, features pulled into a grimace. Clearly his blood has reached the unpalatable dregs. It makes him think of his brother and how many times he's told Sam not to let the gas run low on the car because all the sediment at the bottom of the tank gets dragged through the engine. He hopes out of all the advice he's given his little brother over the years, that's the bit he's remembered.
Evidently disgusted by the quality of the goods, the vamp drops him like a sack of shit and returns to its companions. He's lightheaded from the blood loss and a bead of sweat runs into his eye, which instantly stings like a bitch. His knowledge of field medicine says he's well into the throws of severe blood loss, understandable given what they're doing to him. He's been at this point before - several times, in fact - which means they'll now bring him food and fluids and allow him to regain a little strength before they start all over again. Each time it happens, 'Normal' feels like it's moved another mile further down the road and the actual act of getting there is progressively more challenging. At first he got there by car - now he's being made to walk dragging the fucking car behind him.
It doesn't help that the vamps are impatient - they're hungry and they don't want to wait for him to get back to full strength before they feed again, so they're hauling him back before he's even reached Normal's city limits let alone bunked down there for a few nights. He figures that even they can surely see that his days are numbered, that even rechargeable batteries wear down eventually and need disposing of.
Dimly he can hear the vamps talking. He misses his conversations with Benny, who's a gifted storyteller and has led a life that would make a sailor blush - unless of course that sailor was Benny. He's tried to explain it to Cas, but the angel clearly thinks Benny has no right being so interesting when he's only lived a fraction of the years that Cas has been around. I personally heard Jesus give the sermon on the mount, Cas has protested after an evening spent listening to Benny's tales. He doesn't want to hurt the angel's feelings by telling him that stories about a life roaring and rogering on the high seas wins hands down over sanctimonious lectures any day of the week.
He also thinks that Cas is secretly still pissed about the blue eyes thing.
Despite no one else being present, he feels the need to justify his earlier 'Purgatory sucks, but not always' comment. The truth is once the initial shock had worn off, he'd grown to enjoy the endless combat and the lack of shades of grey that coloured hunting in the real world. Annoyingly Sam had always been good at pointing out those hues between black and white and sometimes he secretly missed the days his brother was at Stanford, when hunting with his dad was definitely more shoot first, angst about the moral implications never. He thinks about John. His dad would probably get a kick out of being here too, and he wonders if occupants of Heaven can stop by here, like a weekend survivalist retreat to act as a refreshing change from all of that purity and wholesomeness.
So yeah, Purgatory's not that bad when you're top of the hacking and slashing league, but this... this is nobody's idea of fun. His neck's got more holes than the plots of the Terminator movies, he's the bitch of a group of Dracula wannabes and his only two friends in the whole of this godforsaken shit dump of a place have probably either killed each other or blown their best chance of escape because they can't see eye to eye about insignificant matters such as the origins of the universe.
Vamp Number One moves - correction - stumbles towards him. If it's time to feed again then he's seriously got problems, namely that his grip on time is getting even worse because it only seems like minutes since they last fed. He knows without a doubt that he's not going survive another round of exsanguination.
But the vamp isn't coming to feed. The biggest clue that he got it all wrong is that the vamp's head suddenly detaches from its shoulders and rolls through the dirt to rest against his legs. The vamp's headless body pitches forwards with a soft thud, narrowly missing him. Although he's still not sure how the vamp and its head have become separated, he knows it's definitely a good thing, since a vamp with no head is a vamp that doesn't require feeding. On a similarly happy note, he's managed to avoid any of the vamp's neck juices getting on him, which almost certainly would ruin his leather jacket.
"Dean? Are you okay?"
Who the hell is asking him such complicated questions at this time of day and/ or night (because Purgatory clearly doesn't give a fuck about fanciful things like circadian rhythms). He frowns in the hope that whoever's asking will divine a response from the position of his eyebrows and let him off answering verbally since his tongue feels several sizes too large for his mouth. In the distance he's dimly aware of the sounds of battle: shouts of outrage followed by grunts of exertion, and lastly silence, usually associated with someone being dead.
Suddenly, there appear to be two faces peering down at him. At least he thinks there are two.
"Is he okay? He looks completely out of it."
"He is. He'll be in hypovolemic shock by now."
"I see. Let me guess - were you a doctor before or after you were a pirate?"
"Are all angels as belligerent as you? They never mentioned that in the Bible."
“I thought you didn’t believe in the Bible."
He's not even certain he's said the word out loud until the sniping stops abruptly. His first thought is thank fuck they've shut up before he remembers that, until several minutes ago, he had way bigger problems than a pair of bickering companions. He realises that they're both looking down at him now, their expressions united in concern.
Though his own contribution is limited, he finally gets upright, supported on either side by a vamp and an angel. He figures there's a joke in there somewhere, but he's too out of it to work out what it is. The fact that he's finally being saved, compounded by the fact that two beings who blatantly can't stand each other's company have pulled together to make it happen leaves him deliriously close to tears.
Suddenly, they're both looking at him again and he realises that close to tears isn't strictly accurate. Mentally he groans because this is going to do nothing for the tough guy image that he's worked so hard to cultivate since he got sent here by exploding Dick. When you're at war, visible weakness is never a good thing. He realises that sounds like something his father would say, and even though John Winchester is long-dead, the weight of his father's imaginary disapproval remains.
Despite their 'profound bond' he wouldn't blame Cas for bailing again - this time for good - and he figures Benny's probably wondering whether to feed off of him before he splits since he's clearly lost all his credentials as a comrade in arms.
"Come on, brother," Benny says to him as the vamp's free hand pats his chest in a gesture of support. "Let's get you out of here."
"Benny's right," Castiel adds gravely. "You need to rest, but somewhere safe, so let's go."
"Get out of here," he growls in desperation, planting his feet in an action that's only semi-deliberate. "You're gonna put yourself in danger.... I'll just slow you down."
They're both staring at him now and Cas goes to speak, but someone appears to have hit mute. He frowns as he tries to figure out what the fuck's going on now and then... and then...
He blinks awake and instantly imagines the scene in Robocop where Murphy is switched on and off at different points in time to the sight of the team who are rebuilding him, only now there are no party hats and streamers and people yelling ‘Happy New Year’ – just Castiel looking slightly more dishevelled than the last time he saw him and Benny looking... well, like Benny.
He groans and swipes a hand across his face, instantly self-conscious at their scrutiny.
“How long was I out?”
Castiel glances at Benny. “Two, maybe three-”
He accepts Benny’s hand to help him sit up. His muscles feel stiff but, he’s relieved to notice, that he feels significantly stronger than the last time he was conscious. Castiel approaches and hands him some water, which he drinks gratefully. Now he’s feeling a little more with it, he studies their surroundings. They’re in a cave with a small fire blazing at the mouth that Benny goes to tend. When the vamp returns, he’s carrying a hunk of meat that smells awesome and sends his stomach into anticipatory spasms, even if he doesn’t want to think about what it was prior to its cremation. It takes every ounce of his willpower not to shove it all in his mouth in one go.
Satisfying his hunger makes him unexpectedly sleepy and he drifts off once more. When he wakes this time he’s instantly aware of how refreshed he feels. He stands up, doesn’t fall over, and is the in the process of stretching out his muscles when Benny re-enters the cave.
“Hey, Chief. Good to see you up and moving. How you feeling?”
Before he can answer, Cas appears, his expression indicating that he’s equally interested in the answer.
“Yeah,” he says, realising that he means it. “I actually feel pretty good, so thanks, fellas. I owe you.”
“You’re welcome, brother,” Benny says. “So you think you’re ready to get moving?”
“Well, that portal ain’t gonna come to us,” he replies, rolling his shoulders in readiness. He looks to Cas who nods, and then back to Benny who mirrors the action. He can’t help grinning at this apparent unity.
“I knew you’d stick together,” he says after they’ve been walking for a few minutes. Behind him, one of his companions snorts, but he doesn’t turn in time to see which one it is. “Seriously, despite your differences, you were able to overcome and work as a team. I’m proud of you guys.”
Benny laughs and shakes his head. “That’s kind of you to say so, brother, but I know you’re lying. You expected us to ditch you and split. Or have killed each other.”
He stops walking and turns to face them, his expression solemn. He raises his index finger, mimicking countless famous orators as he prepares to deliver his speech. “I don't mind being called a liar when I'm lying, or about to lie, or just finished lying, but not when I’m telling the truth.”
“Who said that?” Cas asks, interested, as they start to walk again.
“Uh...” Dean replies, retaining his straight face. “I believe it was Homer Simpson.”
Cas nods thoughtfully. “I don’t believe I’m familiar with his work,” he says before he turns to Benny. The vamp shrugs.
“Don’t look at me. I thought angels were supposed to be all knowing?”
“Yes, well... I’m surprised you haven’t fornicated with him,” Cas splutters indignantly.
“You seem to be the one obsessed with sex, Chief.”
“Well, I’m not the one who’s procreated with everything with a pulse.”