Purgatory was maddening, Dean Winchester decided. There really was no other word for it. Six months in this hell hole and Dean still hadn't managed to find solace in random moments of quiet. Every nerve in his body was primed and ready for the first sign of attack that came his way. Life had become a never-ending adrenaline rush since the moment he'd found himself stuck where no human being had ever ventured before. Light touched down on the twisted tree limbs lining Dean's sight, illuminating the dark woods around where he rested against a fallen log. It wasn't often that the sun or whatever it was penetrated through the thick branches, but when it did it struck him with such a strong resemblance to earth that he swallowed hard and fought down his longing. Emotion wasn't something he could afford to show down here. Here, where beasts feasted on any weakness you dared show and harvested any semblance of strength you had left like it was an all you could eat buffet.
Dean had lost count of the number of monsters and other unmentionables he'd slain in the last six months, choosing instead to focus on the reason he was still down here. He and Benny had been searching for the angel Castiel for a little over three weeks now, and Dean even longer before that. Benny was a un expected ally, one that he had grown to put his trust in, even if it was against his better judgment. He wished he could see Cas's face when the angel realized he had put his trust in a vampire of all things. But what choice had he had? Castiel had disappeared from sight as soon as he had informed Dean of where they were. His little disappearing act had left Dean desperate and consumed with worry ever since. Desperate enough even, that he had put his faith in the vampire who had saved his life. Oh, Dean was going to find his angel, and when he did, they were going to have words. But for now, he was worried out of his mind.
Benny hadn't exactly been adamant about trying to find Castiel; he'd been prepared to jump ship out of Purgatory as soon as he and Dean forged their little friendship. But Dean was having none of that. Family was family and he wasn't leaving Cas behind so long as he had breath in his body. He thought back to the bleary months before Purgatory when Cas had set loose the leviathans and disappeared after betraying them all. He'd left the Winchesters alone after nearly destroying the world, leaving Sam with a broken mind and Dean to clean up the mess. Dean harbored anger over that for a long time. Trust a supernatural being to turn his back on you right when it seemed he could be something better. That anger had been so blindingly hurtful that Dean had barely known what to do with it except drink until he didn't want to know anymore. He'd given up hope like everyone else had that his friend would ever make things right for him again.
So it had been a hell of a surprise when he had found the man Emmanuel, an exact replica of Castiel with none of the memories of their time together. It had taken all he'd had not to sock the crap out of him right then for all the pain he'd caused but his shock at seeing Cas alive had held him back. Once his memories had returned, the angel had been determined to set things right in any way that he could. And set things right he had, taking on Sam's insanity as his own. But it had left him broken and damaged beyond any semblance of repair. Dean saw flashes of the old Cas in the few weeks he'd had with him but still had no idea what state he'd been in when he'd left Dean in that secluded wood.
His motives didn't make Dean feel any better either. Insanity or not, he knew Cas was going to feel terrible for what he'd done sooner or later. Maybe his departure was a sign that he was punishing himself down here. Dean needed to find him before he damaged himself beyond repair.
Benny had been following up on a few leads for the past twenty four hours. The angel was close, whispers said, and somewhere inside Dean, he believed they were right this time.
His rest over, Dean heaved himself up from the log, wiping mud and blood away from his eyes. Benny strode into view behind him, hands raised in a peace-offering. Dean nodded at him, lowering his blade.
"The angels nearby" Benny told him in his deep southern voice. "Had to kill about a dozen vamps to find that out, but we're getting close." He fixed his eyes on Dean's face shrewdly, noticing the sub- conscious twitch of his lips. "You'll get your angel back soon enough kid."
Dean rolled his eyes. "He's not my angel, Benny. So shut your pie hole and wipe that smug smile off your face."
Benny chuckled and shrugged his shoulders, his eyes flashing in amusement. "Hell, could've fooled me."
Dean let that one go. Benny was right, he'd been down right obsessive about finding Cas. For the most part Benny had put up with it, but not without a few well-aimed jokes at Dean's expense. Jokes Dean supposed he was entitled to make after putting up with him for so long.
"You said he's nearby, let's get looking sunshine." Dean shot back, striding off in the direction of the river. Benny chuckled again and followed after the human at a leisurely pace. They'd developed this approach early on in their friendship. Dean went first with his keen hunting senses and Benny trailed behind, watching their backs for any sign of attack. It worked and it had been what had kept them alive in recent weeks.
They came upon a small stream and Dean followed it northward as it wound through the darkened wood. In the distance he heard a light cackling and the dying screams of some creature caught in the woods alone. Benny chuckled darkly behind him.
"Some poor bastards having a bad night." He said quietly, laughing to himself. Dean shook his head disapprovingly. The vampire found humor in just about any situation no matter how sick or twisted.
But Dean's thoughts were pulled up short as he rounded the bend in the stream and came upon a small clearing. A figure crouched huddled in the shallows, washing his muddied face in the clear water. Dean stopped dead, his chest constricting with surprise at the familiar form.
"Benny. You wait here." Dean managed to choke out. A low sigh escaped from his mouth and then he was shouting at the top of his lungs.
"Castiel! Cas!" He ran towards his long-lost angel, his voice shaking with stunned disbelief. Castiel stood and turned towards him, his eyes widening with shock. He took a step forward, reaching his hands out hesitantly.
"Dean." He whispered, his dead eyes coming slowly back to life.
Dean stopped in front of him, looking him up and down. Alive. The realization sent a warm flurry of emotions through his body. Cas was okay. Everything was okay. And to look at him, God, it was as if he'd never been gone.
Dean reached forward and took Cas's hands in his own, pulling him tightly against his chest. The angel's small body folded gently into his chest and Dean held him there as if he was the world's most precious treasure. He needed more than anything just to feel Cas physically in his arms. He needed to know this was real. Dean tucked his face against Cas's, burying his head in the musty smell of his neck. Castiel's once smooth face was now covered completely in thick dark stubble and Dean pressed his nose against it, memorizing every inch.
"You dumb bastard." He choked out. "I thought you were dead."
He pulled back and grasped Cas by the edges of his tattered trench coat, staring deeply into the angel's haunted eyes. "What the Hell man?" He asked, his voice hitching up with barely contained emotion. "Cas, I prayed for you. Why did you go?" His voice broke on the last question and he gritted his teeth to stop them from shaking.
Castiel stared back up at him, his gaze laced with fear and guilt. "I would have gotten you killed, Dean." He explained in a low defeated voice. "The things that are after me here, they are like nothing you have ever faced. My presence is a liability and a threat to your life."
Dean stared back at him, realization dawning inside of him. Dumb angel had risked his own self to keep him safe again.
"Cas, I told you. We do this, we do it together just like we always have. Leviathans, demons, I don't care. From now on we fight them together okay? None of this doing it alone to save the human bull crap." He kept his voice firm yet gentle, holding tight to Cas's tiny body. It was evident from the pain in his eyes that the angel had been to Hell and back more times than Dean could count in the last few months. Castiel looked fit to go to pieces at any moment and he wasn't going to let his angel suffer like this anymore.
Castiel looked up at him again, guilt coloring his eyes. He opened his mouth to protest but Dean quickly laid a finger to his bruised and chapped lips, silencing him.
"No arguments." He said roughly. " I need you Cas."
Tears swam in Castiel's eyes as he felt the promise behind Dean's words. Dean slid his hand gently down Cas's face, taking care to avoid the bruises that had formed on his skin. He couldn't keep his eyes from staring hungrily over Cas's face, memorizing every inch of it again after their long time apart. Castiel stared back at him, his eyes full of fear and sadness and suddenly it was too much for Dean to handle.
He bent his head down to Cas's, sliding a hand gently around the nape of his neck into the base of his hair and pushed his lips gently against the angels soft mouth. Castiel's lips parted in a thankful sigh, and Dean pulled him closer into him, cradling his face in his large hands. He moved his lips gently against Castiel's, breathing trust into their lifeless form. Dean slid a hand down to the base of Cas's back and bent him gently backwards and into his body, pulling him flush against his chest. They moved together, lips tracing patterns over each other's skin again and again, relearning what they had lost in these past months.
Dean felt the tears pooling on Castiel's cheeks and the sweet display of weakness from this all powerful celestial being nearly broke him. He broke away from Cas's lips and kissed the tears away as the angel shook beneath his hands.
"Dean." he whispered with a quiet sob. "Dean."
"Shh Cas." Dean whispered back soothingly "I'm here. I'm here and I'm not leaving you again. We're getting out of here. We're going home. You hear me?"
He looked down into the eyes of his little lost angel and burned the promise into them. Cas blinked back at him, his eyes brimming with a fierce determination. Dean tucked Cas securely against him and heard it as the angel's breaths evened out again.
"Home" Castiel whispered, his voice fading weakly into Dean's chest. "I found home."