Hello again! Welcome back to the (not so pleasant) goings on of the Purgatory crew. Prepare thyself for epic Dean Winchester - who honestly sometimes scares the shit out of me, irregardless of that I love the fucker. Anyway, please don't burn my house down? I promise there's a part two to this chapter! Eeep!
Beta'd by, and dedicated to, the lovely Molly-Myles. As always, I command everybody to show her the love. Or suffer my wrath. (And by wrath I mean that I'll make the next chapter a Sam chapter and force you all to wait for the amazing threesome to join up. (And get your minds out of the gutter, Chuck.))
Enjoy! And Review, dammit.
Sharp stinging overtook Dean's face, the point of razor-edged bone slicing into his cheek. Behind him, weight warm and heavy against his back, Benny grunted as he, too, took a hit. Muscles tensed and the vampire's stance shifted where it pressed alongside Dean's, and the human took the cue immediately.
Dropping down, Dean avoided the swing of the Mangler as it sailed above his head, tearing into the fat body of their enemy. It ripped the thing half-open before catching in the wiry blue fur covering its hide, jerked from Benny's grip. Fangs out, the vamp pounced over Dean's back as if they were playing leapfrog, landing squarely on the unnecessarily large and blue monster, hewing into it with teeth and vampiric strength. The same moment Benny was clear, Dean charged in the opposite direction, throwing his weight behind the point of the Obsidian as it sank hilt-deep into the sister of the thing under Benny's teeth.
"I am so not down for this creepy spider shit," Dean grumbled, twisting sharply and trying to ignore the jarring squeal of the enormous spider he was disembowelling. Behind him, he heard another cry, and Benny landed on the ground like a cat, spitting.
"Yeah, you 'n' me both," he replied. "Th'se things taste awf'l."
He couldn't help the laughter that bubbled up, as they turned on the third and final arachnid together. "Maybe Cas'll let you try him. I mean, you already done me," he added, grinning as he sliced two legs off the body and Benny twisted the creatures head with his bare hands.
Once it was done, and Benny had retrieved the Mangler from where it was lodged in the creature's body, they turned and headed straight for the stream. Washing off the blue slime seemed appropriate – and besides, it was starting to sting where it had landed on Dean's bare skin. If those things had acidic blood, Dean was so done.
He went first, since Benny had a vampire's toughness, and a thought struck him while he bobbed his head under the water for seconds at a time, trying to rinse the thick goo out of his hair. "Hey, Benny," he began, rubbing his hands together. "What would happen if you drank angel blood?"
Benny spared him a frown before turning back to guard duty; Mangler held in one hand, Obsidian in the other. "Not a clue," he allowed, and now Dean could hear the smirk. "But maybe your fre'nd'll be willin' to help us find ou'."
Not much hope of that. Either way, Dean had seen what angels could do to people – and not-people. He wasn't too keen to test the idea on Benny, not the least of which was because he was the only one who knew the way to the portal. Dean was genuinely fond of Benny; the vamp was a laugh, in a sarcastic kinda way, and there was only so much death-defying he could do with somebody before a friendship occurred.
He rubbed his arms down, trying to make certain that none of the spider blood remained. As he rose out of the icy running water, the dim light of Purgatory's daytime caught across his right forearm, and the eerily symmetrical scars shone pearly white for half a second.
Three weeks was a long time for something to scar. Nearly four now, but Dean attributed the time it had taken for the moss to come off to something in Benny's spit or something. He was a vampire, right? There had to be something.
Benny took his turn, trading off both weapons to the Hunter. It felt good, being able to hold the Obsidian in his right hand again, though by now he was accustomed to the weight in his left, so the presence of the Mangler was not unwelcome. He dried off soon enough in the heavy heat, though it made his clothes uncomfortable to stand in.
Not five minutes later, Benny splashed out of the water and took his weapon back, spinning it a few times. "I reckon we follow the riv'r fer a while," he suggested, looking off towards what was presumably a noise. "Bett'r 'n walking through them spiders."
Dean wholeheartedly agreed, so they set off up the river, Benny taking point. He'd stopped limping by now, completely healed up, but Dean had noticed that he favoured his left leg anyway. Maybe it was subconscious, muscle memory overriding his perfect health, or maybe he was doing it because Dean still favoured his right arm, deliberately or not. Either way, it was another cause for Dean to worry – and he hardly had a shortage of those, in a place like this.
They trekked onwards for the whole day without incident. Dean didn't trust days where they were met with almost no opposition (the spider things didn't count; they hadn't sought each other out, it had just been a case of wrong place, wrong time), though they were becoming more and more common. The monsters had ceased to hunt him down just because he was human.
Perhaps his legend had grown. Or, more likely, the fuckers had just gotten bored of him. It had been nearly six months by now – the novelty was bound to have worn off.
By the time night set in, they had found a split in the black rock that sometimes lined the riverbanks, settling down back to back; both for warmth, and to prevent anything being able to sneak up on them. Dean knew that they needed to get back into the habit of moving at night and resting in the middle of the day, but they had dropped that while they'd been healing from the nest of vampires, and besides, they'd encountered the spiders before. The creepy bastards weren't hard to fight off, unless they came in droves and swarmed, but they were almost triply abundant in numbers at night, and they both thought best to stay right the fuck out of the way of that.
Once they were through spider territory. Then they'd re-establish their nocturnal side.
"Hey, Cas," Dean began, closing his eyes. He had not stopped praying every night from the first night, and he had no plans to do so, Benny be damned. It wasn't as if the vamp hadn't heard him praying before anyway – hell, Dean was pretty sure Benny had heard every prayer since they'd joined up. It didn't bother him anymore – what did it matter?
"We ran into those creepy spider dicks again. Just three of them, no problem. Benny says they don't make good eating," he quipped, more for the vampire's benefit than the angel's. Against his spine, he felt the short jerk of Benny's snicker. "Following the river at the moment. I don't want to deal with them more than I have to; I mean, you and I both know that they ain't so tough, but shit… Those bone-claw things they got sting."
This time, he felt Benny shift very slightly, and Dean knew that the vampire was silently agreeing. The human's face still stung where he'd taken the swipe, and he knew that Benny had been snagged just under his collar. The damage wasn't sufficient enough that they worried, or even paused to treat the cuts, but they still stung. Maybe there was poison in the spiders' claws; thus far they'd avoided being bitten by the enormous mandibles, just in case. It wasn't really something that Dean wanted to test out.
For a while, Dean paused, just thinking. There was no movement, and he felt himself start to get drowsy. It was all very well staying awake while they trekked or fought, but Dean was running on less than an hour's sleep, and they'd stopped moving. Eyes closed, he mumbled the rest of his prayer. "'m fine. No new injuries. Thinking that we'll make it out of spider territory by the end of the week, hopefully… Not that that means much…" He laughed bitterly, smirking to himself. Time was such an abstract concept here, when every day was the same. Talking about weeks seemed odd, as if he was speaking an old language that he barely knew.
"You m'ke it to the riv'r, we'll find you," Benny broke in. For a moment, Dean looked over his shoulder at the vampire, green eyes open under furrowed brows. Benny had never interrupted Dean's prayers before, let alone weighed in on one. Almost sheepish, Benny shot a glance at the Hunter, meeting his gaze for half a second. Then he shrugged. "I still think i's a bad idea, but Dean's set un findin' you. M'ke it easier un us if you list'n."
For a while, Dean thought about that, wondering if Cas had heard Benny's input, or if the angel cared. It was weird, thinking about a vampire praying to a seraph. Let alone his vampire praying to his seraph.
Shit, when had his life gotten to the point of having supernatural family?
Shit, when had the vampire become family?
Dean sighed to himself, and then settled in to get his hour's sleep. Benny could run a lot further on a lot less with half the consequence; it was fact, no matter how much Dean tried to deny it. The vamp could take first watch.
Once Benny was completely still, and when he knew he was slipping into dreamland, Dean decided to murmur one more thing. It was something that he'd been doing lately, trying to command an angel of the Lord just because… well, Cas might be thousands of years old (and Dean quickly skipped on from that, because hell if the thought wasn't unnerving), but he was a frigging child and Dean needed him to listen. Cas was a soldier – giving him orders was the only thing that seemed to work.
"Stay alive, Cas. I'm'na kick your ass if you don't…"
It wasn't darkness that overtook him when he tripped off the edge of wakefulness. Flames rose up to greet him, to carry him into nightmares that he'd never be rid of. The fire welcomed him with a scalding embrace, and hot chains slithered around him like snakes. Their heads were large barbs, like arrowheads.
The inferno and the hissing chains greeted him like old friends, and he was almost comforted by the phantom pain that anointed his dreams when they bit into him. As long as he was having nightmares, he knew he wasn't actually in Hell.
All at once the flames went out and the chains fell headless at his feet, and for a brief moment he wondered if finally, this was the memory of Castiel's rescue. It was something he remembered only as a flash of white-blue light and then the burn of a throat four months dry. Accustomed as he was to the nightmares of Hell, he had always wondered if he would ever dream of the moment he was carried out.
Instead, he was met with the sensation of hands gripping his shoulders too tightly, and a vicious whisper in his ear. "Dean. Get up, broth'r, we got a hunt un our hands."
His eyes snapped open and he vaulted silently to his feet, finding the Obsidian in his hand without consciously reaching for it. A quick evaluation of the chill in the air and the ache of his temples told him he'd been asleep for a little under two hours. "What is it?" he whispered back, searching the surrounding area without sparing his companion so much as a glance.
It was better he identified the threat level before he risked any distraction.
"Vampire," Benny replied, his voice barely more than a ghost of breath against Dean's ear. "Two of 'em. Dun know we're here, ye'. Reck'n they might be of assistance." With a brief nod, Dean rose into a hunting crouch, scanning the trees with all his senses on high alert.
The two vamps were picking their way through the stark trees, avoiding long ropes of spidersilk that marked the monsters' territory. Dodging the thick threads and sheets of web was essential; Dean had gotten caught on one during their first day in the 'Spider Kingdom', and it had taken four hours and five dead spiders for Benny to cut him free.
Dean shifted his position, flipping the Obsidian around like a reverse dagger, eyes fixed on the prey. It was strange, how his senses spun around him as he focused. Next to him, Benny coiled his muscles, signalling to his hunting partner that the game was on, and all at once everything snapped into focus. All Dean could hear was the quiet footsteps of the vampires, Benny's gentle breathing. Every time his companion moved, even just a fraction, Dean felt it as if it were his own movement, responding, aligning. When the prey became alert, they hid, and when it relaxed, they stalked.
And they stalked. Dean was all for pouncing them, his nerves alight, eyes unblinking as they glittered with predatory danger, but Benny remained low, silent, still stalking. It wasn't that Dean took his cues from the vampire, but they didn't attack until they were in harmony. Otherwise they risked getting in each other's way, they risked too severe an injury.
This was Purgatory. There was no help on its way. Period. If you were mortally wounded, you were left behind.
It happened when they'd crossed the river. The spiders' territory didn't extend across the water, and the moment they were clear of the gluey webs, Benny's stance changed. His muscles tightened, and his breathing became shallow. There was the wet slide of vampire teeth extending by the Hunter's ear. And then the prey made the last mistake of their lives.
They paused, leaning back against trees.
Benny made a low, threatening sound, and there was a moment where he almost left the ground in attack, but suddenly Dean was struck with how nervous the two vampires looked. One of them fidgeted as it rested; it looked left and right and back again, searching for something. Or someone.
All he had to do was settle. Dean didn't even make to grab Benny's coat – the moment he uncoiled, Benny froze beside him and then settled too, sparing him a confused glance. Unasked questions were answered when the first vampire opened its mouth.
"You think he'll show?" it said quietly, nervous. Sometimes, Dean marvelled that two creatures who had somehow survived this long could possibly be tracked so far without realising it. Then, of course, he always decided that it was because he and Benny were just that good. "I mean, he'll show, right? He's gotta show."
The second vamp looked at its companion worriedly. "Yeah, he'll show," it replied in the voice of a woman. "He's got no contact with the Leviathan. He needs us, or he's got no deal."
Dean and Benny stared at each other for a long moment. What in all Nine Hells could possibly merit finding Leviathan snitches? Obviously, these two vamps had lived this long because they had the protection of the Big Blacks, but who the hell would be dumb enough to actually arrange a meeting with them? Had to be one mother of a tip off.
Just as Dean thought that, seeing the same things cross Benny's mind, an answer presented itself. And by the way Benny's pale blue eyes suddenly sparked, he knew that the vampire had thought of it too.
Minutes passed, full of uncomfortable and impatient fidgeting. Eventually, the first vampire spoke again. "You think he's for real?"
"About the angel?" the other one clarified, raising an eyebrow at the first. "He better be. They're gonna eat him toes first if he's fucking around."
And that was all they needed to know. Two bodies coiled and pounced, rushing the confused and now terrified vampires faster than they could react. To be truthful, Dean wasn't actually that fast (Benny had already beheaded his by the time Dean put the Obsidian against the second vampire's throat), but the stupid monsters just didn't know what to do.
"Thanks," Dean hissed, forcing the blade through the fool's neck. Its head thudded to the ground and Dean turned away dispassionately, frowning thoughtfully. "Do we stick around or try to jump 'him'?" he asked Benny, stowing the Obsidian just long enough so that he could hide the body. No point in alerting the suspected informant.
Doing the same, Benny shrugged. "He'll be expecting a c'uple of snitches, righ'? You smell enough like a vampire to fool 'im. I say we stick aroun'."
Accepting this, Dean made sure that the bodies couldn't be seen and stationed himself at his prey's tree, leaning against it with a renewed sense of infinity. He could wait here forever if need be. Opposite him, Benny crossed his arms and did the same, effecting an identical air.
It was still before daybreak when 'he' showed up.
A werewolf, half wolfed out – eyes red, skin tough and thoroughly scarred. Sharp teeth. Despite the twisted gait with which he walked, he was wickedly silent when he entered the clearing. He looked around, as if expecting an ambush, but was met only with two very carefully blank stares. "You our guy?" Dean growled lowly, trying to remember all the nauseating vampire feelings and bring them out. He was pretending to not be human right now. Think vampire thoughts!
The werewolf looked stricken, red gaze glued to the Hunter, and then he spun on his heel, tensing for flight. He was met with the solid body of Benny the vampire.
Nice, Winchester, Dean mentalised, sighing internally. Didn't fool one little werewolf, even for a moment. Not to worry – Benny was dragging the creature towards a tree, choking it with a chain. It took the amount of time Dean spent following them and helping Benny chain the thing to the tree for him to realise.
"Wait. Where the hell did you get this chain from?" he asked, raising an eyebrow at his friend. But Benny just bared his teeth and chuckled, shrugging.
"Wha'? Came in useful, righ'?"
Dean rolled his eyes. Whatever. Sometimes it was better not to ask. The werewolf clearly knew this principle, because he stayed utterly silent, watching the non-verbal exchanges between the vampire and the human. And very soon those became important, because Dean met Benny's gaze and pointed at the werewolf with the Obsidian, asking.
And Benny shrugged a little and gave him a wicked grin. Good cop, bad cop it was. Dean knew exactly which one he wanted to play.
That in mind, he stood back, watching impassively as Benny conducted a very delicate form of torture on the werewolf, demanding to know where the angel was. If he broke and spilled, that was all very well – Dean would have fun killing him. But if he were honest, he hoped the monster would hold out. He wanted a chance to put the fear of Dean Winchester into him before he died, never mind the fear of God.
Eventually, though day still hadn't broken, Benny rose and stepped back. Dean stopped his vigil, turning around regularly to ensure nothing snuck up on them, attracted by the werewolf's cries, and faced him. The vampire's face held a weary expression, tired and bored by the proceedings. Resigned.
All part of the game.
"I don' think he knows, man," Benny muttered as he approached, just loud enough for the werewolf to hear him. The Mangler was held loosely in his grip, his steps slow and heavy as he shrugged past the human. A soft, sharp sigh escaped his throat as he did; disappointment incarnate.
Resisting the urge to grin, Dean shot Benny a hard glance and then turned cold emerald eyes on the werewolf. The vampire took up his spot in the middle of the clearing, keeping an eye out for danger, and Dean approached the panting werewolf, glee making itself apparent in his glare. Trepidation dominated the prey's body language. He set the blunter edge of the Obsidian against the werewolf's shoulder, letting the point nudge his jaw, and leaned down so that their faces were too close for anybody's comfort.
"Oh, he knows," Dean replied confidently. Thoroughly ignoring Benny now, Dean let the creature squirm for a moment, taking in all the fear in his face, and then snapped out the same question Benny had asked him a thousand times: "Where's the angel?"
It was nearly inflectionless, as if Dean knew he wouldn't get a reply at first. He was hoping he wouldn't. It would be easier if the 'wolf fell for their routine and gave in, afraid of what the 'bad' one might do to him if the 'good' one had been so nasty, but Dean couldn't deny he longed for a nice round of hard torture.
The werewolf stared at him, breathing wetly through a raw throat and broken teeth, and Dean leaned a little closer. Letting the thing look him in the eyes. Letting him see the fury there. The excitement. Then he reached for his waistband and slowly pulled out the demonblade, showing off the jagged edge. The werewolf twitched uncertainly, gaze locking onto the knife, and then Dean rested it along his belly, digging the point into his solar plexus just enough to make him supremely uncomfortable.
"You feel that?" he growled, teeth bared, eyes lighting up. In a moment, the pathetic excuse of a monster met his gaze and Dean knew he'd won. The light went out of his eyes, but it only served to make them cold, like mossy stone.
His voice in pieces, the werewolf managed to slur out the words, "There's a stream." Dean could feel Benny's eyes on them now, taking in every aspect.
"Runs through a clearing not far from here. I'll show you," he offered, and Dean felt like laughing at the faint hope that coloured his voice. How cute. Cute and very, very misguided.
Flicking the point of the demonblade from his abdomen with a sharpness that produced a fearful huff of air (which he adored, he truly did), Dean lifted the dagger to the werewolf's throat, point up. "How 'bout you just tell me?"
The werewolf hesitated again, panic filling his face, accelerating his breathing. Each scrape of air shot over Dean's skin, setting his nerves on fire. This was what torture was about – tasting the fear, luxuriating in the panic and the terror of your prey… This was what made Dean the very best at what he did. He wasn't in it for the pain. He was in it for the fear.
"Go on!" he repeated, the growl low and inhuman. Channelling his vampire side. Or perhaps his demonic one.
There must have been something in his face, because the werewolf deflated slowly. "Three days journey," he said, resignation filling his eyes. "Follow the stream. There's a clearing." A pause – short, but too long for Dean's frayed patience, excruciating.
"You'll find your angel there."
Satisfaction took its place. Turning, Dean met Benny's gaze, raising his eyebrows in both question and triumph. Silently admitting it, Benny quirked one eyebrow briefly, the Mangler slung over one shoulder. Assured of their next course of action, Dean decided on his own personal reward for the werewolf.
"You know what, mutt? I believe you."
A quick death.
Smiling bitterly, almost disappointed that he would have no more time with the informant, Dean stabbed upwards, driving the demonblade through the werewolf's jaw and pallet, punching through the weak bottom of his skull. He choked, blood filling the carvings on the blade, and Dean paused to savour each sound of anguish. There wouldn't be nearly enough of them from this fucker.
Behind him, he sensed Benny look away. Down or away, but the vampire took his eyes off him.
Realising this, Dean yanked the blade from the creature's head and turned away quickly, flicking whatever blood had reached his hand off. A quick gesture, and Benny fell into rearguard, letting Dean take point and walk them back towards the river they'd crossed not an hour before.