more “Meanwhile in Purgatory” - final version
Dean had always been a magpie of memories: What others discarded he held close, and carried with him wherever he went. Trenchcoats. Flasks. Lynyrd Skynyrd mix tapes. It didn’t matter so much the object or its use, only that it had once been important. After all, Dean knew what it was to be left behind, and he also knew, better than anyone, that these things could still have power—even if only what he alone gave them.
But in Purgatory, sentiment was no luxury. What you carried with you was often your greatest weakness. Even Dean understood that here, there were only two objects worth a damn: Your knife and your coat. How to kill, and how to hide.
And apparently Cas had left both behind.
“Cas,” Dean shouted. His voice came out high and reedy, but he didn’t care. “Cas! Where are you, man? Cas?”
But the angel did not answer. The only sound was the tie on his stuck blade, flapping like a half-mast flag.
Dean yanked the angel blade from its purchase and peered between the trees, looking for a flash of skin, a flutter of white. But the underbrush offered nothing—only fog, vast and thick, and studded with fireflies.
“Dammit.” He heaved a ragged sigh and picked up the trenchcoat, because he didn’t know what else to do, because some habits were hard to break, because he’d only just returned it, after all, and wasn’t that rude, to leave such a recent gift behind?
Part of me always believed you’d come back. The words rattled around in his mind like something caught in Baby’s engine. As soon as he’d said outside the hospital, Dean knew he’d jinxed it. Good luck never lasted. Good luck was always just a curse in disguise. And right now he couldn’t help but remember what else he’d thought that night but hadn’t said: Part of me always knew you’d leave for good.
“Dammit,” Dean muttered again and drew the machete from his coat. He stared down the trail, searching, but a diffuse light from somewhere high above made the path before him hazy and hard to follow. His fist clenched in the trenchcoat. He tried not to scream.
The fireflies didn’t seem to care about his panic, however, and nor did the fog. It moved closer, curling around him – it even seemed to sway, and dance. It seemed alive.
Dean frowned down at the vaporous glow for a long moment. Then, in a rush, it dawned on him.
“You’re a wavelength,” he breathed, “of celestial intent.”
A swirl of fog suddenly somersaulted, sweeping high up to the treetops, and Dean’s shoulders sagged. He turned away to hide his relieved smile.
“Cas, you jackass.” He sighed and rolled his eyes. “You could’ve warned me, you know.”
The fog swirled again, all colors and none. Then it parted, revealing a muddy trail that disappeared into the dark gloom of trees. Dean smirked.
“Apology accepted,” he said, sliding the angel blade into his jacket and balling up the trenchcoat. “Even if I’m still stuck carrying your shit.”