Benny wrenched his blade from the heart of a skinwalker and slashed, messily decapitating it. Dean stood close behind, squared off with a rugaru. It dripped gruesome bile from a dozen wounds. The hunter spotted an opening and lunged, cleaving its head off.

The vampire felt his ally move and turned with him, swinging his weapon in a vicious arc. He tore the throat out of another creature that had leaped at Dean while he was busy. In turn, Dean pivoted around to cover Benny's back from a vamp that hissed "Traitor!" as it collapsed under his blade.

The fight went on like that, like it had for months, human and vampire moving as one in a whirlwind dance of blood and bone and fury. The forest heaved with sounds of combat – growling, panting, gurgling screams of pain. Every step was a struggle. Every breath had a price.

Some three hundred bodies later, the attacks just... stopped. Dean wiped the gore from his eyes, sucking down air like a man half-drowned. They had reached the edge of a wide clearing. An eerie white-purple light, like an aurora, didn't shine so much as oozed from a sky he hadn't seen in a year. Benny came up beside him, eyes fixed longingly on the glow. Dean caught his breath.



"This is it, then."


"How, uh... How do we do this?"

"Well, I got a few ideas..."

"Wait, what? You don't know?" The hunter rounded on his ally, furious. His blade glistened violet and black.

"Cool it, sugar," Benny drawled, equal parts calming and warning. "I know how to get you across."

"So spill," Dean demanded. They began to circle each other, threateningly.

"Now, don't you fret," the vampire replied in a tone as smooth as velvet. "When you've got my soul safe n' sound inside that pretty human body of yours, I'll tell you everything. We'll have a real heart-to-heart."

"You don't trust me not to jump ship, huh?"

"First rule of Purgatory, brother." Benny smiled, stopped circling, and held his arms wide in challenge. "Go ahead, if you think you can open that portal alone."

Dean glared. A tiny muscle twitched at the corner of his nose, the beginnings of a snarl. They stood, poised to fight, until the hunter snorted a humorless laugh.

"Heh." He relaxed and let his sword arm fall. "Fine. Welcome aboard the U.S.S. Winchester, buddy."

"I knew you weren't stupid," Benny purred. "Now, the only thing I ain't sure of is how to hitch a ride..."

They tried the angel way, laying on hands and concentrating. They tried the demon way, but Benny couldn't make himself into smoke. They even tried letting the vampire bite, but that hadn't made anything special happen before and this time was no different. Dean was stumped. He didn't like that.

"Fuck," he muttered, pressing a hand to his punctured neck. "This isn't working."

The vampire sheathed his fangs slowly, with a look in his eye that, if Dean had seen it, would have given him the mother of all sinking feelings. "There's one thing we ain't tried."

"What's that?" the human asked sullenly, frowning at the blood on his fingers.

Benny could move with absolute silence when he wanted to. He had his arms wrapped around Dean in an instant, paralyzing him in a supernaturally strong grip. "Think, Winchester," he whispered. "How can two souls become one?"

Dean's reflex was to fight, but he couldn't move. He was suddenly terrified, more terrified than he'd been at any other time in Purgatory, and it wasn't because he was pinned. It was because of the tone of the words, and the foreign intensity of the touch. It was because he had the awful feeling that he knew where this was going.

"How, fang?" he rasped, exasperated, throat dry. He knew he'd regret his next words. "Enlighten me."

He could feel the vampire's grin against his still-bleeding neck even before that hot, hungry tongue began to tease at the wound again. He closed his eyes with a shudder.

"You've gotta want it as much as I do, darlin'," Benny breathed into his ear like a long-suppressed confession. "You've gotta let me in."

Dean couldn't believe what seemed to be happening. The grip that held him immobile had somehow morphed into an embrace, and something hot and hard pressed against his lower back. But the worst part was how accepting he was. After a year in Purgatory, after all the two of them had been through... Really, how bad could it be?

"Do what you gotta do," he said, and it sounded like a prayer.