Cas. fuck. Dean rubs his eyes with one hand. It's not just about tired anymore. He's not sure he has anything to fight for anymore. It's been over 150 days since Cas left (156, but who's counting) and there's been no clues. Gone without a trace, gone like after Sammy jumped into the cage with Lucifer and Michael (fucking kid saved the world by doing the stupidest, bravest, most heartbreaking thing Dean's ever seen- and coming from Dean Winchester, that means something) and there was nothing in the world left for him but a half-sincere promise to Sam and the grief that chipped away at his soul and his heart and the very fiber of his being. Cas had left him then too, to face the worst goddamn year of his life alone. He had Lisa and Ben, of course, and god knows he'd tried to love them they way they deserved, tried to be the man he'd always wanted to be, tried to find some sort of happiness or contentment because the apocalypse was called off (but that meant shit all because the world at large went on but Dean's world, everything he held dear, was over and there was no getting it back). But he couldn't because he knew first hand what hell was like and his baby brother was trapped down there with no way out and there was nothing Dean could do. And the only person who might have understood, the only person who could have helped to fill the void or even knew what it was like had left. Disappeared. Gone back to his little angel buddies, forgetting the human who'd come to think of him as family. In that year the world was ending and Cas fell, he'd become as essential to Dean as Sam or Bobby. Not exactly like Sam or Bobby, but close. Close enough.

And now, again, his back is against the wall and he's fighting things he never even suspected existed. He's cutting a bloody, corpse strewn path across Purgatory and he's not even sure why anymore. Why he doesn't just fucking give up and let some thing take him. He prays every goddamn night to Cas but there's no repsonse, and Sammy's so far away Dean doesn't know if he'll ever see him again.

Cas. Please. And he can't think of anything else, just Cas please. Please come back. Please give me some sign. Please don't be dead. Please answer me, you dick, please let me know you're alive and I still have something to fight for. Please, Castiel, please please please.

There's no response.

Dean is not one to cry easily; after the life he's lived, after being tortured in Hell and losing everything, tears don't come easily. Especially in this place where weakness is a death sentence and vulnerability is an invitation, tears are useless. But he can't help himself. A tear escapes him and he tells himself that's fine, one tear is fine but that's all Cas gets from him; it's all he deserves after leaving him here. He won't bury his face in his hands and let the tears wash over him, out of him, and he won't shake with silent sobs and he won't, he fucking won't whisper the angel's name to himself, won't let it be a talisman against loneliness and fear and despair.

When he gets back under some sort of control, he takes a shaky breath. He won't pray to Cas anymore, won't beg him to come back. He's breaking, sooner than he did in Hell and more completely. He wants to give himself over to the primal functions of Purgatory, wants to let go of his humanity so he doesn't have to feel or think or hurt anymore. It would be relief. It would be a release.

Please, Cas. He sends the prayer against his better judgement and waits. There's been no response but sometimes... sometimes there's a feeling. A warmth in the soul that might as well have Cas stamped all over it, it is so familiar and recognizable. When he feels that, Cas might as well be there with him, putting his hands on Dean, comforting him. The first time he felt that, Cas's hands were on his soul, rescuing him from one of the torture chambers in the pit. It was so cold in hell, so fucking soul numbingly cold that Dean though he'd never be warm again. He'd begun to think he didn't need warmth because it made him weak, and with Alistair's razor in his hand he was so powerful the cold didn't matter. But then Cas came, his light blinding (though not entirely white) and put his angelic hands on Dean's dark soul. Warmth had flowed into him; Cas's Grace touched his soul and he could have wept from relief. Alistair's razor fell from his suddenly relaxed fingers and he'd leaned into the warmth, gave himself up to it, and Cas had carried him out of the pit, never taking his hands away even though battles raged around them.

After a moment, he feels that warmth, just a small spark of it, somewhere inside of him. Maybe it's all Cas can manage; maybe it's all Cas will allow himself to spare, but it's enough. Dean knows what he's fighting for, knows there's a reason to pick himself up and keep going. Cas is out there somewhere and he's going to find him. If he's hurt, he will kill whatever caused his angel pain. If he's hunted, he will find what is chasing his angel and make it know fear. Already the things in Purgatory are trying to stay away from him, the puny human who is causing so much destruction, and if some thing out there hurt Cas, Dean will take vengeance.

Thank you. He says to Cas. The warmth starts to fade him, but it is enough to keep him going. He lets himself lie down and close his eyes, lets himself rest. Tomorrow the hunt continues but for now he can have this small sense of peace.