AN: Hello again, my lovelies. So... Yep. This is a story that exists. This is actually a thing I'm doing right now because of reasons. I don't really want to ramble too much here, but let me just explain some things briefly.
I thought the season finale was epic. I thought the cliffhanger was wonderful and awesome and I loved it so much. And so - naturally - this happened. Now, I did post a preview of this story over on my LJ, so some of you might have been expecting this, but for those of you who weren't... Well, this is my brain. I hope you enjoy my psychosis. Seen, sfter the finale, I went through this phase (fuck it, I'm still in this phase) where all I could think about was writing a ''Purgatory Story'' (and you have no idea how much I love saying that). So, you know, I did. And now this is happening. This is happening and I love it and I legitimately do not care about anything but this story right now. It has been at least half a year since I was this excited and this inspired for a story. I know I have a million and four other stories that I should be working on, but...
Nope. This is happening. This is a thing. (Also, holy crap. This is my 90th story on this site. 90. HOLY SHIT.) I am a happy little bumblebee right now. I really, really am. Since I do have this story planned out and everything, and it's not too terribly long, I'm hoping to be able to update this fic one a week, maybe once every two weeks. And I hope you all enjoy!
Title: Prayers to Broken Stone
Summary: Stranded in Purgatory without his brother and with very little hope, Dean must battle his way through the forest of lost souls in search of a wayward angel and a way out. ...With a little help from a few old friends, that is.
Pairing(s): There is actually very little romance in this story (I KNOW! I WAS SHOCKED TOO!). It's mostly gen, albeit there is some very, very minor Dean/Ruby (because I am still me, you guys) that isn't exactly romance per se, but it's something. And there is also some pre-Dean/Castiel. But mostly it's just a story with lots of badass!Dean (who might get a little scruffy and hurt and sweaty, and might have to go through some withdrawal), awesomely badass!Ruby, hurt!Cas, and some other kickass-take-no-prisoners foes and friends.
Characters: Dean Winchester, Castiel, Ruby (Katie's Ruby), Ruby 2.0 (Gen's Ruby) may appear later on, but she won't be referred to as Ruby in this story for reasons, some Sam Winchester and Meg at the end. Lots of other old friends and enemies, who I will not name right now because I don't want to spoil too much.
Rating: T for now. Might go up to M a little later, due to gore.
Timeline: Directly following 7.23.
Spoilers: Major, MAJOR spoilers for season seven finale.
Warnings: Gore, graphic violent images, possibly some talk sexual situations, withdrawal symptoms, torture, lots of angst and man!pain. If I decide to bring in Alastair, there will probably be some mentions of rape, so beware of that. And yes, there will be some minor but quite obviously there slash, so if that's not your thing, this may not be the story for you.
Notes: Title from the poem ''The Hollow Men'' by T.S. Eliot.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything.
Prayers to Broken Stone
Written by Becks Rylynn
''this is the city of spare parts''
So, this is the way the world ends, huh?
With a bang and a whimper, a putrid stench of decay, a wisp of breath hanging in the perpetually midnight air, an MIA stark raving mad angel, and every nasty ass motherfucker he's ever ganked gunning for him.
He supposes it was only a matter of time before he wound up here. He's been everywhere else. Perhaps this is the only place for him. Heaven doesn't want him, and Hell's afraid he'll take over and all that jazz. In retrospect, this is the only logical place for him to be. Still don't make it any less piss-your-pants terrifying. And oh yeah. He's not dead! At least he doesn't think he is. He doesn't feel dead. He feels very much alive. One could argue he's never felt more alive than he does right now.
Dean spins in a slow circle, eyes darting around the deep, dark woods wildly. His heart is beating erratically in his chest and he's beginning to feel breathless. He knows he can't stay out here in the open but he's petrified to move. Fuck, he needs a drink. His throat is dry and his stomach is jumpy. He really needs a drink. Maybe more than one. Two. Maybe five.
A branch snaps behind him, followed by the extremely disconcerting sound of maniacal laughter that seems to come from every direction, so inhuman and psychotic sounding that it's impossible to decipher whether it's a man or a woman. He whips around, body on high alert. There's nothing but vast, empty darkness stretched out before him, lonely and dark.
''Cas,'' he whispers, swallowing tightly. ''Man, now is not the time for your conflict avoidance issue.''
Something moves somewhere in the distance and a very distinctive growl wafts through the air. His whole body stiffens. Oh, god, that growl. He knows that growl. Hellhounds. Well, of course hellhounds. Because why not hellhounds? When another snarl rips through the air, louder this time, closer, his body twitches and shudders involuntarily as a flashback tears into his psyche and rips it open violently. He remembers what those claws felt like as they tore at his flesh and ripped him open like a Christmas present. He remembers their breath against him, remembers the smell of their rancid breath mixed with his blood, remembers their glowing eyes. He remembers the sound his clothes made as they were ripped away.
He remembers the sound his flesh made as it was torn away.
His mouth dries and his stomach turns over. He can't even breathe, let alone move. A noise somewhere between a moan and a distressed cry passes through his lips and his body seizes up. 'Dean,' a sharp voice in the back of his head cuts in. 'You're having a panic attack. You need to breathe.' A whoosh of air leaves his lungs and he gulps in another breath greedily. He repeats this action several times, listening to the soothing voice in his head that sounds like Sam. 'Just breathe, Dean. Good. Keep breathing...'
And then he remembers the way those sharp claws dug intoJoand took her away in the cruelest way possible, all because he froze up. He remembers the sounds she made. How cold and clammy her skin was when he kissed her goodbye. The sight of the tears in her eyes. The fact that she quite obviously did not want to die.
His eyes darken.
This is not happening to him. This is not the way he's going to die. Not Hellhounds. Not again. Not ever again. He is not going to let those beasts tear him apart and he is not going to let those fuckers ruin his new jacket. It was expensive. They can go fuck themselves. His body reacts on instinct as the growling begins to get louder, branches snapping and cracking under the feet of the approaching hounds. He makes a beeline for one of the biggest tree, wrapping his hands around a branch and pulling until it breaks free, holding it steady like a baseball bat. It's not much and it's not nearly enough to survive a hellhound attack, but if he's going down, he's at least going to gouge out a few eyes on his way down.
That's when the eyes come. They come from the left at first, emerging from the trees like beacons of light that bring with them hopelessness and death. Then they come from the right. Then from all goddamned directions. He is officially surrounded and he is officially fucked.
You're going to die, the eyes tell him in the dark. You're going to die, you're going to die, you're going to die. You worthless, hopeless fuck. No brother, no angel, not even fucking Meg. What's left now, loser?
His hands start to shake. He takes a step back automatically. The hellhounds snarl and begin to advance on him. ''Cas,'' his voice comes out breathy and beyond desperate. He hates how weak and shaky he feels. It's not right. ''Cas, get back here!'' He yells out. ''I swear, I'll eat any damn sandwich you make me! I'll get you some pet bees! I'll play Twister with you! Cas! Please...''
No, no, no, this isn't right. This can't be it. This can't be how he dies. This is not fair. He squeezes his eyes shut momentarily and sucks in a breath. Only one thing left to do. In a last ditch attempt to save himself, he spins on his heel to run and immediately rears back in shock.
The woman in front of him is wearing white (still), her skin ghastly pale, her dark hair tangled, and there are tears in her eyes, of sorrow and anger and vengeance. If he wasn't screwed before, he sure is now.
''Son of a bitch,'' he steps back, throat closing up in shock. ''...Constance Welch?''
She never says a word to him. Not even a grunt of acknowledgment. Not even her patented ''take me home.'' Her face twists into an ugly sneer and her hand shoots out, clamping around his throat in a vice like grip. Her freezing cold fingers tighten impossibly and he gags, choking and gasping for oxygen. And that's when the fight or flight mechanism kicks in. Dean swings the branch as hard as he can and can't even muster up enough strength to feel surprised when the crude weapon actually impales her in the shoulder, despite the fact that she was a ghost the last time he checked.
It's Purgatory, babe. Different rules apply.
Constance shrieks in shock and pain and lets go of him. The second he's free, he does the most un-Dean Winchester like thing in the world. He turns tail and he runs. As expected, Constance and the mutts run after him.
Dean runs for his life, sprinting through the thick woods, branches scratching at him, the dark night air nearly blinding him. The adrenaline is coursing through him and his legs are pumping. It's bothersome. How mundane running for his life has become. Almost gruesomely macabre in nature. Nobody should ever be this used to running in terror. His boots crunch over twigs and what he thinks are bones, and he splashes through at least three muddy puddles. He can hear the hellhounds barking behind him, thundering after him. He feels like he's been here before. It is eerily reminiscent of that dream he had all those years ago. God, it feels like it was just yesterday. He runs wildly, like a mad man, turning sharp corners, dodging trees and jumping over fallen logs, all in a desperate attempt to not die.
He runs until his lungs are on fire and every part of him hurts, and then the inevitable happens. It's that one scene that exists in every horror movie ever made, in every nightmare ever created. His foot catches on a root and he goes crashing to the ground, sealing his fate. Well, he's doomed now. He rolls onto his back with a groan of pain, palms scratched to hell. Only silence is there to greet him. He sits up slowly, hesitantly, this close to hoping he's safe. It takes a mere fraction of a second for his eyes to lock with the eyes of a beast.
Dean's heart stops. ''Oh, shit,'' he rasps.
Considering everything he knows about hellhounds, it is really not a good sign that he can see this one, is it?
There is only one standing in front of him, but it is most certainly a hellhound and undoubtedly a large one at that. He thinks one is enough to cause sufficient damage. There is no way to describe what a hellhound looks like. It does not have the appearance of a normal dog, nor does it have horns, cloven feet and snake skin. It has fur, pointed ears, glowing red eyes and its teeth are quite possibly the most fucked up things he has ever seen.
He's paralyzed, heart thudding, breathing ragged. ''Hellhounds,'' he grits out through his teeth. ''Why'd it have to be hellhounds?'' He cuts his eyes away from the panting animal - if you can even call it a simple animal - for a second, just a second, to search for something to fight it off with. A second is long enough. The hell beast charges at him with a yelp. Instinctively, Dean raises his hands to protect his face. The dog's paws make brutal contact with his chest and knocks him back down. His head narrowly misses clipping a boulder. He braces himself for unimaginable pain.
The pain never comes.
Instead, a thick glob of disgusting slobber drips onto his new jacket. And the hellhound licks him. Dean lowers his hands to stare up at it incredulously. The hellhound's head is hovering over him curiously, red eyes falling back to your basic demonic black. The dog lets out a keening whine and nudges at him with its nose, darting from his head to his feet and turning in circles when it gets distracted by its tail. ...Is he hallucinating?
Dean sucks in a breath and collapses back in the leaves and dirt, feeling winded, lightheaded and very much like he's about to hurl. Fear has a tendency to do that to you. Or maybe it was the running. He's never particularly been one for jogging. That's Sam's thing. Reluctantly, still keyed up and on edge, Dean gets to his feet and stares at the hellhound for a long, stunned moment of silence. The moment ends when the hyperactive creature begins to whimper excitedly, pacing and bouncing playfully.
The dog moves forwards.
Dean holds his breath.
It nudges at him and paws at his foot, growing increasingly annoyed by his lack of enthusiasm for the apparent game they're playing. ''Um, I... Okay... Okay...'' Dean stumbles over his words and experimentally picks up a stick off the ground, waving it at the animal. Its eyes light up red again. Dean throws the stick. Instantly, the dog bounds away happily, leaving him dumbfounded and amazed. He doesn't have a chance to ponder these unthinkable events for long, however, because the dog is back before he knows it. The stick is held in its mouth like a trophy and its tail is wagging incessantly. It trots over to Dean, drops the stick and demands praise by rolling over onto its belly for a plea for attention. He stares at it. ''Are you serious right now?''
It whines and scoots closer to him like it is saying, Rub my belly, you ungrateful human. I brought you a fucking stick, you bitch.
A small, disbelieving smile works its way onto Dean's lips and a strange sort of relieved laughter begins to swell in his throat. ''Seriously, is this real life?''
Behind him, leaves rustle and a low growl pierces the air.
He turns and is once again met by the sight of more glowing red eyes. He can see them this time. There are three of them, all much bigger and angrier than Fido over there. And that's saying something considering Rover isn't exactly a small ball of fluff. At the sight of them, the friendliest hellhound springs to its feet and steps in front of him. The eyes narrow and its lip curls back, a cutting, aggressively protective snarl ripping loose. Out of pure gut instinct, Dean turns, only to find two more fucking huge hellhounds blocking his other escape route. It's a pack. It's what mythology would call a wild hunt. It's a death trap.
''Uh,'' Dean clears his throat. Lets out a nervous laugh. ''I don't suppose you guys want to play fetch, do you?''
His only answer is a chorus of nasty howls.
Okay, probably should have expected that. Before he has a chance to run, his new friend lunges at the three big hellhounds. It leaps into the fray without a second of hesitation despite the very obvious fact that it is outnumbered and they're all much bigger. The dog does it to protect him. It takes down one with ease, biting down on the neck and opening a jugular. Blood splashes onto the black fur of Mr. Chompers and one of the larger beasts cries out and folds into itself, dropping to the ground like a stone. The other two react on their animal instincts, forgetting all about Dean and focusing their energy on the traitor. The biggest one, the ringleader, swats at the little one and sends it sprawling.
A strange wave of protectiveness surges through Dean and he takes a step forwards, stopping only when he remembers it is still a hellhound and there are still two other ones behind him, who bare their teeth at him when he dares to move even a little bit. Sparky can, as it turns out, hold his (or her) own. The dog gets right back up and attacks the two larger dogs, barking and growling and snapping, teeth ripping and sinking into flesh. It's a disgusting and bloody mess of fur and teeth and claws. Like the world's freakiest dog fight.
Eventually, a victor emerges.
It almost looks smug in this light, licking blood and flesh off its lips, teeth coated in red. It bolts right past Dean and skids to a halt in front of the other two. It growls, low in its throat, for a long time, and then barks loudly, so loudly it's almost a roar, in warning. The other two, still hissing and spitting, back away. Slowly, they turn and gallop off into the distance, disappearing into the eerie mist.
Dean still has no idea what just happened.
The dog limps back over to him with a pained sounding cry and manages to lick at his hand once, before it practically collapses at Dean's feet like a dead weight. ''Well,'' Dean says, astounded. ''I'll be damned.'' He's hesitant, but when he notices how strained its breathing is, he grimaces and crouches down next to it. There is a lot of blood matted in the creature's fur but it's almost impossible to tell how much of it belongs to this critter and how much belongs to what are now piles of meat and bones. ''Hey, buddy,'' he smiles, or tries to, and reaches out to scratch behind the dog's ears. Its breathing picks up a bit at the touch and it seems to relax. ''Good boy,'' he murmurs softly, scratching at fur and carefully inspecting the rest of the hound's body for any visible fatal injuries. ''Or girl,'' he adds on an afterthought. When he's satisfied that the pup is not going to die, he wipes the blood off on his jeans and stands, much to the dismay of his new sidekick. ''I think you're good,'' he says.
And then he realizes he's talking to a hellhound.
He heaves a sigh. ''Weirdest fucking day ever.''
His new hellhound friend makes an unhappy noise and rolls onto its back.
Dean blinks. Lowers his eyes. ''Ah.'' He nods and looks away. ''Good news,'' he declares. ''You're definitely a dude.'' Well, great. He's trapped in Purgatory, he's made a new friend in a little boy hellhound and said hellhound is still a better and more reliable sidekick than Cas. That's what's sad. Speaking of that stupid dumbass. ''Cas!'' Dean turns, surveying the trees. ''Cas!'' A cold dread seeps into his belly. ''Cas,'' he whispers. ''If you're dead, I'm gonna kill you!''
There is yet another strange noise from somewhere behind him. Not necessarily a footfall, but something, and it suddenly occurs to him that maybe he should consider shutting the fuck up.
He slides his eyes back to the house pet at his feet. ''Don't suppose you know the way out.''
The boy looks up at him.
''So, what should I call you, huh? The Dude?'' Dean laughs at his own joke, but almost immediately shuts up when he realizes there's no one there to laugh with him.
The hellhound lets out a sudden bark and leaps to its feet.
Dean barely manages to duck before a huge boulder comes sailing through the air, past his head. Constance Welch, full of misplaced but very strong hatred, is standing about four feet away from him. She looks ready to tear him to pieces. Relatively unsurprised, Dean sucks in a breath. ''You know, I hate to point this out,'' he drawls, ''but technically, it's not my fault you're here. Sam's the one who took you home.''
Constance Welch apparently does not think this is important. She screeches at him like a banshee, a string of unintelligible fury, and runs straight at him. She never makes it. There is a blur of something that tackles her, sending her and her attacker rolling, and that's it for poor Constance. At first, he thinks it is Clifford the Big Bloody Hellhound but when he looks beside him, his new BFF is still in place and seems absolutely petrified, trembling and whimpering in fear. That cannot be a good sign.
When the newcomer stands, moving to stand in front of Dean with an eerie calm, the bottom drops out.
He glances over at Constance. Or at least what's left of her. All that's left of her is a bloody, ripped open carcass, fingers missing, one eyeball rolling in between the fingers of her killer. He swallows the bile rising in his throat, but refuses to run. There is no way he is going to give him the satisfaction of showing fear.
''Dean,'' says an old friend, flicking away Constance's eye. He licks his lips and begins to circle Dean slowly, like a predator stalking it's prey. ''It's about time you got here. I've been waiting for you. So, what happened? Vamp get the best of you? Werewolf maybe? Hey.'' Dark eyes light up in rage. ''Been there, done that.''
Dean offers him a wide grin in response, moving slightly to the right, just enough to hide the cowering hellhound behind him. ''Gordon,'' he greets. ''It's been awhile.''
''Years,'' Gordon hisses. ''Don't you think...'' He puts a finger to his lip thoughtfully. ''...That it's time you and I had a go 'round?''
Dean opens his mouth, ready with a clever retort. But no. This place can't even give him that. As he is learning, Purgatory has surprises around every frickin' corner. Quite abruptly, a body drops down from above and lands smack dab in the middle of the soon to be cage match. There's a shock of billowy blond hair as she whips her head back, eyes on Gordon, back to Dean. She rises to her feet deliberately slowly, letting Gordon's eyes follow her every movement, because if he's entranced by her it means he's not looking at Dean. ''Or,'' she deadpans.
And Gordon's fucked sideways from there on out.
Gordon attacks her first. Sure, she may be the one who draws her weapon first, but he throws the first punch. He swats it away like it's a cat toy and jumps on her, fangs extending, going right for her throat. Without even turning around, she shoves Dean away from the fight, down to the ground, and pours all of her energy into fighting Gordon. Her style of fighting is extremely dirty, savage and straight to the point. No rules, no morals, just don't die. It is not structured, there is no distinct pattern, and it's almost impossible to tell what she's going to do next. She starts with a few straight forward punches, a hit to the nose, a nasty right hook, but then she punches him in the throat, which is unexpected. Gordon falls to his knees when she sucker punches him and brings her knee up, catching him under the chin. On the ground, he snickers and takes her with him, sweeping her feet out from underneath her and pulling her to him by her leg. She kicks him in the face and when he rears back, she somehow manages to get her legs on either side of his head. With one simple twist and a small grunt, she breaks his neck. He falls to the ground, still twitching. She throws herself on top of him to keep him from getting back up and scrambles for something sharp, fingers groping for her weapon. When she comes up empty, she sighs, curses and gets to her feet. Without an ounce of hesitation and with a disturbing lack of difficulty, she brings her booted foot down numerous times on Gordon's neck and severs his head.
With her stiletto.
He can safely say he has never seen anyone do that. Ever. There is no sense to the way she fights. But she's won. Which, he supposes, was the point.
She straightens, still turned away from Dean, brushes herself off, and retrieves her weapon, which appears to be some sort of remarkably constructed crossbow.
And then she turns around.
Honestly, he doesn't even know why he's surprised anymore. He stares up at her incredulously, unsure of how he feels about this. ''Ruby?''
She stares down at him, lips pinched, eyes hard. Her long blond hair blows in the freezing cold breeze. She glances at him, then at the hellhound, eyes softening. Still incredibly straight laced and frowny, she offers him a hand, and says, ''Come with me if you want to live.'' Her voice is so stonily serious, all no nonsense and no snark.
He doesn't know how to respond to that. His eyebrows raise.
A beat, and then...
A wide smile breaks out on her face unlike any other smile he's seen on those lips and her eyes light up in genuine humor and surprising warmth. She laughs at him, a twinkly, breathy real laugh and then she grasps his hand and pulls him to his feet. ''Just kidding,'' she says brightly, brushing some dirt off his leather jacket. ''You have no idea how long I've been waiting to say that.''
It wasn't the conflict. It was the noise.
Screams, whispers, hisses, growls... He couldn't tell them apart. Couldn't pick one from another. It was deafening inside of his head and it was only getting louder. Something was pulling at him, yanking at his coat, at his hair, his insides, his grace. Something was tearing inside of him. He felt like he was going to explode. So he closed his eyes and when he opened them...
Castiel spins in the dark and wide open field. It smells of death; sweat and rotting flesh. There are bones at his feet. Blood stains the long thin blades of brown dry grass. He swallows and studies his unfamiliar surroundings. There are no insects in Purgatory. No honey. No board games. No monkeys. But there are a million eyes watching him. A million souls who want to wreck him. And he can't find Dean. That is perhaps the most distressing part of this misstep. He cannot find Dean. He's not in his head anymore. He can't hear him. Can't feel him.
Real and true fear bubbles up inside of him at that knowledge. It is one of the most unnerving feelings, one of the most inconvenient truths... To not be able to feel Dean Winchester... Castiel takes a step forwards and stumbles over a skull.
It had never been his intention to leave Dean. He stops. Takes a breath. It had never been his intention to leave Dean. He keeps going, trudging through the field of mud and bones. Throughout everything, no matter what he did, no matter where he went, no matter the mistakes he made, he never wanted to leave Dean. His lips twitch and he nearly smiles. It feels good to finally be able to admit that. There was not a second where he wanted to leave Dean behind. Not then. Not now.
He will find him. There is no other option.
He makes it to the edge of the field and has to brace himself against a tree, suddenly feeling strangely dizzy and winded. He makes an attempt to transport himself back to Dean's side, where he feels he is supposed to be, but it doesn't work. He is grounded. His fingers are twitching and there are light tremors running through his body.
With a start, he realizes he is falling.
He can feel his grace slipping away into the ether.
A quiet, almost accepting laugh forces its way out of his mouth. It feels poetic, in a way. He thinks he must deserve this. He stands straight and tries to calculate things. He needs to get back to Dean, whether he is falling or not, and he needs to find a way to get Dean out. Time works differently here and he must get Dean out before...before...
He takes a step deeper into the waste land and then stops, body going rigid and stiff.
It appears there is someone behind him.
Two hands come out of nowhere and pull him to a body. A hand that smells of earth and ashes covers his mouth. ''Don't scream,'' the voice whispers.
Castiel's body goes slack at the sound of the voice and his chest tightens inexplicably. He twists free and turns to stare, eyes widening. A harrowing, blinding guilt begins to suffocate him. He has to swallow again. ''Balthazar?''
A cleared throat, a deep chuckle, an arrogant whistle, a branch snaps.
Castiel blanches and turns around slowly, to face his other brother. ''Gabriel.''
His brothers both grin at him.
''Hey, bro,'' says Gabriel. ''Whatcha doin'?''
end chapter one
AN: And there you have it. Chapter one. I'm actually pretty surprised at how long this chapter turned out to be, because I thought it was going to be just a short little prologue. Also, just a few little notes: Judging from the end scene of 7.23, I'm kind of going to go ahead and assume that the souls in Purgatory do not take human form. I think they're probably a little more animalistic and savage, so if we do end up seeing familiar characters next season, they probably won't be in the pretty people shells we all know and love. Especially demons and angels, who probably take on their true forms instead of the forms of their meat suits. But for this story... I'm going to take a few liberties with this story. There is a reason as to why they appear in their human form in this story, but I just wanted to address the fact that yes, I do know that the souls in Purgatory are more likely to be animals than people. Another thing I'm unsure about is whether or not deceased angels wind up in Purgatory when they die. Technically, Purgatory is defined as a place where dead ''creatures'' go when they die, but I don't know what category angels fall into. Oh, well.
Anyway, I'm hoping chapter two will be up next Monday and I hope you all liked the opening chapter! The title of chapter one was from the poem ''The Stones'' by Sylvia Plath.