Author's Note:

Guys, I have... I have no idea. This just poured out of me. I'm not taking a break from ABFOB (god, that abbreviation looks weird... and strangely rude) but I just needed to let this one go, yknow? It popped out of nowhere and was in my way and it turned out pretty... pretty okay, I suppose.

After writing such a large story for such a long time, I think I needed to clear my head a little to refocus, so I've dallied a little into the world of SPN. It is a difficult universe to write, but I enjoyed this little venture. Just poking my toe in the pool, yknow. It was fun.

Dean's pretty much losing it in this spiel, so if rambling and nonsensical thoughts aren't your thing, don't sweat it. I dunno how I ended up writing all this, but it's nice to... it's nice to be a little adventurous every now and again. A little angst, a little crazy... meh. I'm not hot-sailing the Destiel boat yet (though that is my next planned fandom to write. I plan on writing a big one on Destiel soon!), but this has inklings to it.

Kay, enough chitter-chatter. No worries abuut ABFOB, okay? It's still being written.


No Song For You

Dean thinks about Mary when he's feeling down. His fondest memories of Mom were sick childhood days, when she'd lie all day behind him, a warm hand on his belly and her hair tickling his nose. She'd do this on bad-weather days too, when the howling of Kansas hurricanes would bleach the room grey and cold and drown out all noises in the house, and he'd be able to feel her voice vibrating low in her throat. It gave the impression of warmth when there was none, an anchor in the storm. She'd sing quietly, yet it was still somehow audible over the winds.

He'd always thought she could be a little closer to him, after all – she was there to give comfort to him. But he was also a big boy who wanted to be brave, who needed to learn how to deal with sickness without the aide of Mom. A protective hand on his stomach was all he would allow. And perhaps, her singing too.

Right now, in Purgatory, he was 'sick' of so many things that these memories sprang to mind by reflex. These sweet, precious memories in a place like this were incongruous with the situation, they seemed like they could only be dreamt up – they couldn't be real, he couldn't have them. Not here, in the gutter of the world, where everything was muck and turmoil. Dean shielded his memories with a mask of indifference. If the foul creatures here saw him reminiscing over his dead mother and mocked him for it, he wasn't sure what he'd do –

He was so sick of this. Of feeling like the smallest, weakest, most insignificant thing in the world. Of not being able to see beyond his own frigging nose, let alone a way out of here. Of being filthy and starving. Of being freezing cold one second and feverously hot the next (he took this to mean Purgatory was somewhere between blazing Heaven and wintry Hell). It was like being sick. Having the flu. The only thing – or person – he didn't have, who he needed in this situation, was Mom.

Having Mom to make the cold night warm, to fill the silence with song and laughter, to soothe the pain with her kisses.

He didn't have her in this place, but in fleeting moments of calm, when the silence meant he was being left alone and the cold numbed him past feeling – he counted these as blessings. As fragments of her reaching out into the dark and banishing the monsters. Precious moments. Few moments of peace.

But inevitably the dark was winning. It everywhere, seeping into every little nook and cranny, closing in on him. There was no escape. Purgatory stretched on forever, in his mind and in the space around him.

The only real, solid comfort Dean got was from his fire. The beasts hated fire. At least they hated something.

Dean honestly didn't know if Purgatory was worse than Hell or not. In Hell he'd had only the one tormentor – Alastair – but really, that had been plenty enough. Here he had every monster you could think of on his tail, and he had nothing – no weapon, no brother, no Bobby, nobody – to help him. In Hell, the torture kept him in a constant blur of pain, which was why his recollection of his time there was foggy at best. Time blurred here, much like it did there, but in Purgatory there wasn't really any pain to lose himself in, there was just... boredom. It was boring. Purgatory was boring. Who knew?

The only thing that perhaps made Purgatory worse was that this time round, he had no saviour, no escape. His only ally had abandoned him.

At least in Hell, someone gave a fuck. He was worth saving. He was worth saving. Forget why for a second forget the asshats in Heaven who wanted him for their own fucked up purposes – he was worth saving, and that meant something when you were stuck in these types of places, when couldn't help but feel forgotten otherwise. Now, he didn't matter.

Why was no one looking for him? Did no one care? Where was Cas? He didn't know, nor did he have any real desire to go looking for him. The moment they'd landed in this place that dick had left him. Dean snorted at the irony – get rid of one Dick, and another one comes along. He told himself that joke plenty of times, it still made him laugh.

That's it, baby, keep smiling

"Mom?"

His eyes snapped open at her voice and the world was blue, like he'd had his eyes closed for a very long time facing the Sun. In this case the light came from the fire. Had he fallen asleep? Well, fuck. At least the fire was still high. As a bonus, he still had four limbs and a head. Hearing a rustle in the distance, Dean tensed, but he started to hum a tune. It was the only way he could distract himself from what was outside. Those beasts were hungry. They were waiting for him to break down, for him to give up and let the fire burn out, and then they would take him. He shuddered at the thought, his cracked lips catching on each other at the seams as he wet them.

Dean didn't remember the song being "Hey Jude" because she'd sung her own rendition of it to him. "Hey Dean" was how he'd known it. Only when he was a little older, Dean heard the song on the radio and realised it wasn't really... well it wasn't sung like it should be. You would've thought at that age he'd be devastated, but surprisingly he took it pretty well, because he was already a big brother, so he knew things couldn't always be how he wanted them – and not everything belonged to him.

Dean shared all his things with Sammy because that was what big brothers were meant to do, and he was taught to know that sharing was a good thing, always. Dean therefore decided to share his song with the world. Sulking and pouting about these things got him nowhere with Mary and John anyway. And if it was being sung incorrectly by the person in the radio, what did it matter really? The idjit was singing to some dude called "Jude", for goodness' sake. Jude. Not him. Not his song.

But he couldn't sing to himself, could he? That was… that was just stupid, and sort of… narcissistic, wasn't it?

He'd sing for the monsters then. Let them fear his voice.

"…hey Ju-uude, don't be a… 'fraid,"

His throat was dry and crackling like speaker static at high volume. Dean knew he was a bad singer already, but this was a whole new torture device to anyone listening. It was bad. Really bad. Nothing like what he remembered her sounding like. He knew he should give up, but maybe it would keep the monsters at bay. Let them hear his voice.

"…anytime you feel the pain, hey J-Jude, ref- refrain-" he was just a bit crackly, a tiny bit raspy. It gave it soul, he told himself, "…don't carry the world… upon your sh-oul-ders…" Fuck, he was getting the lyrics order wrong now. That line didn't come till next verse did it? Dean scowled, licking his lips again and sifting through his brain to find the next line. How did it go? He muttered through what he'd done so far, looking a little weird (even to himself) when he rubbed his hands together to get them warm and placed one on his stomach. He rubbed slowly in a circle, shutting his eyes and imagining the smell of butter, apples and cinnamon wrapped up in a pie crust, the itch of hair on his face and –

Somebody was there. He couldn't not have noticed his new audience – alertness was ingrained into his very being, even now, half out of his mind. Dean didn't get to choose whether he could ignore Cas or not. The ang – the ex-ange – the whatever he was always got Dean's attention. He could feel the prickle of him watching from close by, the rustle of dry palms being warming by the fire.

Part of Dean really wanted to beat the shit out of Cas. That was the majority of him. But another part of him, the part that was so beaten down itself couldn't be bothered enough to get off its own backside to deliver said punishment, won the vote. What was the point? Cas was so out of it. He was so out of it. Neither of them would get anything out of the experience. Dean also recalled only ever punching Cas once, because once was enough to almost break his frigging hand. Who was to say if him launching a fist at Cas wouldn't be taken to be a just a little friendly rough-housing, or if it would all end up as a fucked up thumbs war for crying out loud.

Cas was staring at the fire in that stony-faced, freakishly intense way of his. What was new? But strange colours and shadows were cast on his face, making him look different. Wait. No, it was just – no. Yes. There was something different about him, he decided. Dean stretched out a leg to prod Cas with his toe, causing him to fall back on his ass in surprise. That was new.

"Dude, where's your tie?"

Cas frowned a little, glancing down at his chest and the absence of tie. He actually peeked under the shirt, as if it would be hiding there.

Cas shrugged, only hesitating a little before he scrambled to sit beside Dean, folding his legs underneath him in a way that would give him pins and needles. His head was tilted downwards in a way that almost seemed contrite, and he was examining his hands with the same intensity as before. Again, Dean had to remind himself that crazy-Cas couldn't feel remorse, or at least, he didn't understand when it should be felt. He tried not to notice the apology in Cas' body-language by not looking at – heck, at all of him.

All he wanted to see – to feel – upon looking at Cas, was hate hate hate. This angel – turned fallen-angel – turned god-like thing – turned angel again had back-and-forthed, rollercoastered Dean's life for the past three years all over. But it was impossible to disregard the good times – there weren't many of them, probably only enough to count on one hand – but like his memories of Mary, the rarity of them made them all the more precious. Cas brought the best and the worst out of him in so many ways, and it was vice versa, all the damn time.

He listened to him. He disobeyed him. He raised him up. He brought him to his knees.

He saved him. He abandoned him. He abandoned him too

What a fucking lie – he was looking at him. How could he not? It was just him and Cas –

"Dean, I –"

Dean's head whipped up. He was ready to forgive. He was so ready to forgive him, right now. Anything. Anything. All he wanted was this overbearing silence to go away, or for it at least to be shared side-by-side with a friend. "It's okay Cas, it's okay," was practically half-way out of his mouth, when –

"There aren't any bees in Purgatory,"

Dean shut his eyes, smiling wanly. Of course. Of course, it was the bees. Cas was devastated because there were no bees in Purgatory. Not because they were stuck here, not because he was a few cards short of a deck, or because they had left behind them a world full of aimless Leviathans (and Sammy all alone), but because there were no fucking bees. Dean was sane enough to see how far Cas was gone. He was mad enough to laugh. He was Human enough to cry, but he didn't, because Cas was watching him laughing with the same curiosity he used to and his head even tilted and – God, it hurt, goddamn it, it fucking hurt to see him so like… this.

He was abruptly thrown back into another memory, another time where – to his surprise – it was Sammy he remembered. Little Sammy, back when he was shorter than him and followed him around like a puppy. It wasn't a particular day he was remembering, but all the times they'd had silly little arguments and he'd won them, because he was older and he was always right. He knew he was right, he was so proud of himself because he knew he'd won the fight fair and square. He had his reasons, his evidence and loved boasting it and the glorious process of rubbing it in Sammy's face... But what was the point in being right – where was the satisfaction in it – when Sammy was too young to understand where he was coming from? There was no joy in it, only frustration, only Sammy storming off in a huff, and the hours of cold shoulders and silence waiting on them.

There was no way to relate to him if it simply didn't understand. This was the same deal. The same rules applied to half-baked-Cas who was so broken he couldn't comprehend the world around him.

"That's 'cause there ain't any flowers in Purgatory, Cas," he found himself answering quietly. Cas tilted his head questioningly again – that fucking tear slid down Dean's nose – "Bees can't live if there aren't any flowers. They'd die,"

Cas hummed contemplatively, "That's a shame. They do make wonderful honey,"

Dean nodded, "Sure they do," he slapped his thighs, letting out a heavy breath and making Cas jump, "But that's all they fucking do, Cas,"

Cas chewed his lip – interesting. Dean had never seen any Cas do that before. He still looked thoughtful, but also rather detached, in an almost normal-Cas way. If it weren't for the fact he was uncharacteristically chewing his lip, Dean would feel that ache of nostalgia again.

"The world would die without bees, Dean," Cas replied solemnly, "Well, to be more specific, a good third of the Human race would die without bees.I'm certain with the agricultural abilities of the day, many can be sustained on-"

"It's pollination, right?" Cas stared at him, "What?" Dean had the right to look affronted, why was everyone so surprised when they found out he knew things? "I read – no bees, no pollination-"

"No fertilisation, no crops-"

"Food shortage. Widespread starvation. Soylent Green situation," he grinned, "You need to watch that movie sometime, man," they were having a somewhat continuous, somewhat intelligible conversation. He applauded himself on it, before backtracking on what he'd said, and realising they were planning a movie-night without having a TV.

Cas was rambling about the history of bees or some agricultural shit now, which wasn't interesting to listen to at all. Dean zoned out a little, leaning back so he could just hear the buzz of Cas' voice alongside Mary's voice in his head, singing. He tried to lose himself in the company, the noise and the crackling fire.

"…funny, isn't it? The weight of the world depends on such tiny creatures…"

This Cas was so obsessed with bees. Seriously. He was beyond fascinated, it was ridiculous.

Dean broke out into hysterical laughter.

His control on his moods was dwindling to some extent. He should be more worried about it.

"Do you find something amusing about wheat germination, Dean?"

"Man, you just had to go and-" he hacked a cough till he was wheezing – "- when I tell you not to eat something, listen to me, goddamn it. I mean it. No – no purple-nurples, no dodgy burgers, no fucking Leviathan soup – and if eat it, spit it out, man. For crying out loud, don't wait till you have to… to explode and vomit it up everywhere. Lookit th' fuckin' mess S'am has t' clean up now, man… lookit…" he sounded like he was crying more than laughing now, "An' an' if you have to, y' know, upchuck everywhere... aim for the bucket. Or the toilet. Get it all out, drink salt water if you have to, fuck's sake," he wiped his wet face, a few wayward giggles slipping out, "There's just not enough room in the toilet anymore, for us and the world,"

"I know, Dean,"

"Yeah? That so?" he scoffed, "What do you know, Cas? Do you know how the fuck we're gonna get out of here?"

Dean rolled over to stare into the dark cavern, pillowing his head on his arms. More than one tear was being shed now, but they leaked in one continuous line from eye to eye, pooling into his right ear. He could hear Cas shuffle a bit, gasping at the painful prickly sensation in his feet and legs. A shadow skimmed his body so he could tell Cas was moving around. Was he leaving? Good fucking riddance.

Something brushed his ear and a flapping noise – he was asking himself how Cas could fly away without his angel mojo – when he realised it was just – it was just the trench coat. Twisting his head back, he was speechless, seeing Cas without his coat was like seeing someone without their skin.

The tie was bad enough, he thought, but now... he looks so Human. His blue eyes gleamed, even though there was no Grace left in him.

"What are you humming, Dean? It's quite lovely,"

Dean cracked up, clutching his belly, he rolled dangerously close to the fire.

Sweetheart, be careful. I don't want you getting hurt –

Crap. Not again, mom, not again. He shook his head, sitting up. He didn't know if he should tell Cas what he song he was humming. He'd guarded this song in the depths of Hell, and now in Purgatory's clutches he still saved the song for himself. Should he dare reveal it to Cas – could he? – after everything he had done? This Cas wasn't the same Cas he might've liked to share this with. Good ol' Cas would've probably appreciated the oddness of what Dean considered to be precious with a small head-tilt and an even smaller, quizzical smile, but this Cas could very well laugh in his face.

And he wouldn't accept that. He wouldn't. He glanced at Cas' face, how he kept glancing at his hands like they'd done him a personal wrong. He wasn't even waiting for an answer. He looked like he'd given up on waiting on an answer as soon as he'd uttered the question, maybe he had. Or maybe he already knew the answer. Maybe he just wanted to talk.

And then Dean heard it.

Cas humming, so quietly that it could barely be heard above the crackling fire. His deep, gravelly voice totally wrecked the whimsical quality of the melody, but it was far more pleasant than Dean's croaky warbling. And somehow, Cas managed to hit the notes correctly, even though Dean was sure if he was taking this from his rendition, it shouldn't be like this. It would be horribly off-key, wouldn't it? That meant that he must've heard the song before him.

"You sing, Cas?"

Cas stopped, whipping towards Dean as though he'd completely forgotten he was there.

Then he nodded slowly, and Dean was amazed to see the same uneasiness in him that he was feeling in himself.

"The Heavenly Choir sings continuously to the Lord. We sing the same song for years at a time, rarely changing it, so it is known by all. We don't get to choose," he paused, as though realising he'd revealed something he shouldn't. "But this song, Dean, did you write it? It really is quite beautiful,"

"Me write it? No, I'm pretty sure the Beatles wrote it,"

"Beetles?" Cas' face lit up, "Fascinating. I really had no idea that invertebrates were capable of mastering such an art-"

"No, no, Cas," he was smiling now, properly. The muscles in his cheeks were unused to this movement not followed by bitter laughter. It was nicer, gentler, like he appreciating the warmth from the fire without burning himself. He wasn't going to correct Cas anymore, or try to retrieve him from whatever crazy world he was stuck in. Think what he will, the world was already falling apart, so why the hell shouldn't he see it whatever way he liked? Maybe it was better mixed with a little crazy. Cas certainly looked happy when he was prattling on about beetles or whatever shit he liked. What right did he have to take the blissful ignorance away from him, when at least one of them could bask in not caring?

Face it, he told himself, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So Dean sang.

"Hey Cas…" the ex-angel looked over, suddenly quiet, "…don't make it b-bad…take a sad sooong and make it be-tt-er…"

Cas' eyes widened, "I don't know the words, Dean,"

He shook his head. He wasn't going to stop singing till they were found. Till Sammy dug a hole into the Earth, or flew up into Space – wherever the heck Purgatory was – and brought them back home. He wouldn't stop singing till his throat was bleeding, till he was blue in the face, till he couldn't remember the words, till the Apocalypse made a third appearance and they were up to their ears in lost, dead souls.

"…remember, to let Him into your heart-"

"Dean-"

It's okay

Cas was staring at him like he used to, but his eyes were… dripping. Dean almost faltered, stunned by Cas' ability to cry, but he was smiling. Tears of joy, perhaps? And Dean was smiling because he had shared his song with the world a long time ago, it was time to share it with… with his…

He looked at Cas, really looked at him, and felt something warm grow in his stomach when he saw how happy he was. How touched he was by this.

( – with his friend – )

Sharing is a good thing –

"…then you can start…"

Baby, it's okay

– so he could share his song with Cas too, he supposed. Cas – even crazy-Cas – could understand that this song meant everything, couldn't he? Even in his wobbly voice, he knew it was what they needed. Dean had even changed the name from "Jude" to "Dean" to "Cas" for him.

"- Dean, please-"

"…to make it be-tt-er…"

Angels are watching over you.