A/N: Hey, guys! Remember when I said I wouldn't publish another new story for months?
Well, I guess that was a dirty, dirty lie.
The night before my first day of law school orientation, I was seized by my muse and forced to click away on my laptop in the dark until I'd written out a one-shot set in Purgatory. I knew I had to get it out before the season starts because it'll pretty much negate everything here, but I couldn't help it. I had to. So I hope you guys like it - no promises on how much I'll be writing in the coming semesters. Evidently, I can expect 4-5 hours of reading homework a night, so... yeah. I'm still working on editing High Seas and Low Gods, too, but that's taking a lot longer than anticipated, and this story just couldn't wait.
The story is set in the canon universe, but what you need to know is 1) secretly, behind everyone's backs, Dean and Cas have had a thing for a long time, and 2) I've decided that angels and humans don't go to Purgatory when they die. What I mean is, if you truly kill an angel, they disappear completely. You kill a human, they go to Heaven or Hell. The fact that Dean and Cas are down there is a pure fluke, and they are capable of dying; therefore, they are fighting for their lives.
There is no rest in Purgatory.
Everything in Purgatory is dead, and doesn't need to sleep, and so there isn't any sleep. There's night and day and guarding your back and on-edge alert and vigilant and bone achingly awake, but no rest. No rest in the eight weeks they've been here. No moment of relent. And yet, in the dark behind a clump of thick green underbrush and a gray white tree, Dean and Cas are on the ground and rutting together as though they can afford distraction.
It's desperate and grimy and crude; like all the other souls here, they are animals. Animals who are hungry. They avert their eyes and their shame and grunt together, acting out an ugly empty pantomime of the thing they once had when Castiel was a traitor and Dean was his treason.
Things have changed since then.
When they finish, they pull their clothes back together and sit with their backs to the tree. They don't look at each other. They don't touch.
"You still haven't forgiven me," Cas says.
Dean sits in the dark and weighs the beating of his heart, still over-fast, and the slowing of his breaths. "You thought I would've by now?"
Cas peers out into the dark forest. "I would find it strange if you had."
They sit silently together for a minute. A plaintive howl rings out in the distance, and a dozen others join it.
"Hang on." Dean turns to Cas, and he feels something hot, glowing red, coming to life like the element of an oven range under his numb skin. "If you already knew the answer, why'd you bring it up?"
Castiel's eyes lower to the ground. When he raises them again, he raises them to Dean. "I suppose... I hoped you might say something strange."
The element burns orange bright.
"You know what? Fuck you," Dean snarls. "You're – you're the goddamn king of strange. I'm sick of strange. Alright? I've gone as far as I can, Cas, I've been patient, I've been understanding, and you know what? I reserve the right to hold a goddamn grudge. I fought a war, a war you started when you went Vader, and you did time as a fruit loop and that's supposed to be atonement?"
Cas smiles bitterly. "I should have expected this," he replies. "I've been a fool. I played all my cards, when I've always known you only have patience for me if I have something you want."
"You know what I want?" Dean grabs Cas by the shoulders and shoves him to the ground, hard, thumping him into the dirt. "You know what I want?" He pushes a knee into his gut, puts a hand to his throat, breathing heavy. He scrabbles at Cas's tattered trenchcoat with his free hand, fumbles with the angel sword, grips it tight and yanks it out. "You know what I want, Cas?"
Cas lets him. Cas just stares up at him.
"I want you to give a fuck," Dean pants. "I want you to stop apologizing. I want you to stop talking like the fucking Sphinx and start trying to get us out of here." He digs his thumb deeper into Cas's neck, feeling the way his throat resists the pressure. "I want to kill you. I'm going to kill you." He presses the pointed tip of the glinting sword into the hollow of his neck.
Cas stares up at him, silent. Accepting.
"And." Dean shuts his eyes. "When I do..."
Cas is steady and limp underneath him.
Dean grits his teeth. "Cas. I want you to fucking try and stop me."
A sharp, chilling howl reverberates in the night air, and Dean kneels on the ground with his hand tight on Cas's throat and an angel knife carving its point into his soul.
And then a gravelly voice says, "Kiss me."
Dean opens his eyes.
Cas is still staring up at him, but with guarded eyes. "We haven't kissed since before," he says. "Since Sam jumped."
Dean turns his face away, even as his fingernails slice into Cas's skin.
"You never forgave me, did you?" Cas asks. "You never forgave me for letting you go."
One quiet car ride, a lifetime ago. The world skidded on its tracks and Sam pushed it back to life, and Cas told Dean he was going back to heaven. So calmly. So sure.
"You didn't let me go," Dean says. "You left."
"You didn't ask me to stay!" Cas snaps back. "I have never been meant for you. You earned your reward with Lisa and you took it. I never begrudged you that."
"You're so fucking crazy," Dean hisses, "so crazy I can't stand it –"
and he presses down and kisses Cas on the mouth.
It's awkward at first, he's caught Cas mid-word and their noses jostle, and Cas's mouth is cold from the night air and stiff against him. But then he lets Dean in, lets him slide warm and fast and unthinking, and they kiss in the darkness as the cold sword slides into the dirt, until a nearby shadow throws its head back and bays at the moonless sky.
Cas pushes up from the ground and shoves Dean off, letting him tumble gracelessly into the tree trunk with a thud. "They're here," he growls.
Dean uses the tree for support and drags himself up, and just as he gets standing Cas looks over at him with something unreadable in his face. The thin gray light of Purgatory shines dappled through the trees and a gleam hits his eyes, wary and lucid. "Are you ready?"
Dean isn't sure what to say, how to answer that gaze. He settles on the truth. "I'm fucking tired."
Cas nods a little. "So are they."
When the chorus of howls rises up again, it's from all sides, all around, surrounding.
"Guess that's the dinner bell," Dean comments. He hands the sword to Cas, who takes it without a word.
Dean and Castiel stand together and move to guard the other's back, and for the first time Dean wonders how he will know when Cas is forgiven. The creatures circle them with soft paws and glowing eyes and Dean doesn't have time to think before they lunge. They'll make Dean and Cas pay dearly for their lingering here: bared teeth, starved, ravenous, they are savage animals who will tear apart the world until nothing is left and then tear apart each other, made desperate by need and made cruel by desperation.
There is no rest in Purgatory.