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The werewolf pounced on him out of nowhere, drawn to his scent and slowly beating heart, knocking the machete right out of his grip. It was strange that something so trivial would attack him so brazenly but he didn’t let his surprise stop him from punching it as hard as he could in the throat and slinging it over his shoulders into the thorny bushes.

It shook its head, rolling back onto all fours. It was a strange mix of fang and fur, woman and wolf. The werewolf’s eyes were wide slats of black in the paleness of its face, the iris almost completely eclipsed in the darkness. The better to see you with my dear. It might have been pretty in a former life, but it was spitting mad now and fugly to boot.

It snarled at him. He bared his teeth in a grin.

It leapt, aiming at his tender midsection; claws reaching to rip open his chest. He let it come, raising his hands so a blast of light heat him came pouring out of his palms. It slammed into the werewolf and hurled it to the ground where it lay, panting, muscles trembling.

He looked around the undergrowth for the shine of his weapon, finding it in a tuft of grass below a willow tree. He stumbled back to the werewolf, raising it high to cut it down.

She blinked bleary brown eyes at him, squinting, shading her face from his brightness. “Sam?”

Werewolves had blue eyes. Something had changed.

Dean’s arm sputtered to a halt, the machete slowly sinking out of the killing stroke. He hadn’t heard or thought of that name for miles…

The light burning through his veins faded back into his dull and blistered soul. He reached down and helped the monster to her feet.

+++


The wolf girl’s name was Madison and Dean’s brother had shot her in the head six years ago.

He couldn’t help remembering the look on Sam’s face when he’d killed her. That day had damn near broken him. Dean’s faded heart still ached in sympathy for him.

They wound up sitting around a tiny campfire, the light pitiful in the surrounding darkness. It was the first fire he’d had the pleasure of building in purgatory and was happy to sacrifice the last of his lighter fluid for the cause. Though it wasn’t until there was light other than the moon that Dean realized how long he’d gone without; it hurt his eyes to watch the fire too long. He imagined he looked like some crazed homeless person from the sewers, pale and dirty.

Madison wasn’t much better. The baggy flannel shirt she was wearing was torn and bloody, her long brown hair hanging in clumped waves down her shoulders. She huddled close to the fire for warmth, hugging her knees. Dean couldn’t feel a thing through his tough and bitter skin but he appreciated the oasis of light and the chance to sit quietly.

Of course, there was no guarantee Madison wouldn’t jump him again. But at lease he’d see her coming the next time.

"Sorry about calling you Sam earlier, Dean. And the whole 'trying to eat you thing, too, I suppose. My last few days on earth...” She had a bit of a lisp thanks to the fangs, but it wasn’t that hard to understand her. “My memories aren't always what they used to be."

“Don’t worry about it. Turning into a monster and getting shot in the head will do that to a person, I’m sure.”

“Yeah.” She looked down, her canines chewing on the soft skin of her lower lip. Dean felt like an ass for bringing it up but he didn’t really know what else to talk to her about. Their time together had been very brief. “I'd heard there was a human around but I never thought it'd be someone I recognized.”

That was three times now he’d heard that. Was there a purgatory facebook page he didn’t have access to or something, posting status updates about what the weird dude in plaid was up to? Like Bigfoot sightings for the undead. "Well, that’s a long story about a Dick and an angel."

"Ah. I’d heard he was around for awhile, too. I didn’t realize you were together.” She leaned towards him with a sly smile. “You know, I thought you might have been the overcompensating type."

"What? No. The dick was a leviathan, it was capitalized. And Cas’ an actual angel. With giant wings and overwhelming abandonment issues."

"Oh. Those things exist? I guess anything’s possible.” Madison shrugged, warming her hands on the small flame. “Sorry about the gay thing. You gotta admit, it sounded a little like a romance novel."

"More like HP Lovecraft, but okay."

They fell into silence, the crackle of the fire a welcome break from the quiet woodsy sounds that were the soundtrack of Dean’s life. Speaking of… “Aren’t you worried some big nasty’s gonna see the fire and come get you?”

Madison grinned, terrible teeth flashing in the campfire light. “This is my territory, Dean. It’s small but it’s mine. I’m the big nasty around here.”

“Nice.” Dean was impressed; Madison hadn’t been in purgatory all that long, after all. “Certainly seems like a change since the last time I saw you. What happened to not wanting to hurt people?”

“The last time you saw me I was getting my brains blown out. I hardly think this compares.” She didn’t look altogether bothered by it, rubbing her hands before the fire again. “It’s different here, Dean. It’s much better than the fiery pit I expected after I ate those guys. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d kill for a tub of Hagen Daz and the new season of All My Children, but I don’t have to worry about hurting anyone here. There’s not anyone here to hurt. Like, I didn’t choose this, but I kind of like it? I feel empowered. Strong. I’m in control here, in my own little pocket of purgatory. I didn’t have that before.”

She smiled, doing her best to close her mouth and look innocent. “There’s also a part of me that wants to rip you to pieces and eat your beating hear, so that’s new. But it’s a small part.”

Dean laughed, a rusty sad little thing that scraped his throat. But it was a laugh all the same.

He offered her the last of his whiskey; sad to see it go for all the good it was doing him. She grimaced at the burn as it went down and he could see the mouthful hit her hard. He wondered if it was the remnants of the physical world lingering in the flask that had such an effect on her werewolf soul or if Madison had always been a lightweight. Her muscles went lax, weary, and she curled up on her side to watch the flames dance with hazy eyes.

Her voice was quiet and he almost missed it in the crackle. “How is he?”

It took a surprisingly long time for Dean to realize who she was talking about. There was only one person it could have been, really. "Sam? He's..." Dean paused to think about his brother, the dark circles under his eyes and the eternal puppydog hopefulness. Finally free of Lucifer and all his crazy shenanigans. It’d been so long since he’d imagined Sam - stuck on the other side of the veil, fighting leviathans and (maybe) working to free him from the hell of purgatory - that it was something like a betrayal to have a werewolf more concerned than he was. "He's had a rough couple of years. You know, Satan and all, but... he's getting better. Sam's gonna be ok."

Without me. Going so long without checking in with Sam didn’t sit well with Dean but he supposed it was for the best. He felt more monstrous than man these days and having Sam look at him the same way he’d looked at Madison before killing her was unbearable. And what did it matter anyway? He was never going to see Sam again.

He took a deep breath, putting the cap back on the empty flask. “Sam’ll be okay.”

And without Dean, he might even stay that way.

+++


Demons didn’t need to rest in hell. They didn’t need to sing or eat or fuck either, but they did all three anyway. When Alistair got bored or wanted to give Dean a chance to heal up before the next round he’d wander off and leave Dean alone. For thirty years he was the only thing Dean saw, aside from his own bloody parts and the gritty darkness of his cell. The first time he’d encountered another soul he’d been holding the razor that cut out her eyes. If he didn’t get to see anyone else, he’d thought, then neither does she.

But before all that there’d been hours of silence, just Dean and his thoughts. The absence of other people tore him more surely than any wound Alistair could produce. Those hours were the worst. They made him actually crave the cut of Alistair’s knife just so he’d know he wasn’t abandoned any more. In the end, it was the solitude that broke him.

In the beginning of the torture, when Dean still clutched hope tightly and prayed for salvation, he’d tried to fill the quiet with his thoughts. He’d remember things out loud; tell himself stories so he wouldn’t forget the faces of his family or the Latin of an exorcism. When even that was too painful or when the memories just wouldn’t come, he sang. Old tunes from the Impala’s cassette collection. Songs with lyrics buried so deeply inside his brain that they were branded on the grey matter like tattoos – Alistair even said he saw them, the couple times he popped Dean’s skull open and had a look inside.

Walking through purgatory was a lot like those later days in hell; without the chance of rescue and slowly changing into something unfathomable. He’d left his hope for a miracle buried deep in the snow and covered in monster blood.

Seeing Madison stirred up all the old thoughts and memories, leaving a bittersweet residue in his brain. Dean left her sleeping by the coals of the fire and struck out on his own again. He thought about his family and how terribly he missed them when he allowed himself to. It brought to mind other tours of duty, other useless expeditions across the continent, cradled in the metallic hum of his baby.

Before Sammy had been old enough for reading stories, back when the ash of his home had stolen Dean’s mother and his voice, his father used to sing them to sleep. It was probably just to fill the hollow spaces in the car where his wife and the chattering babble of his four year old used to be, but John had sang along with the radio or a tape as they drove down the highway at night. Dean had kept those same cassettes in the glove box, nestled under the extra ammo and first aid kit. He could still hear his father’s voice - softened in the hushed early hours, calloused thumb wiping the hair away from Dean’s forehead when he curled up next to him on the seat.

There was one song in particular that had been his favorite. The rhythm came to him easy but the words were a little harder to remember. Which was ridiculous; he’d known that forever. How’d it go again? He tried humming it quietly and the lyrics came slowly and then blossomed in his head with the smell of leather and home.

I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin' ‘bout half past dead. I just need some place where I can lay my head.

His voice was raspy and weak from neglect, a pale shadow of the smooth operator who could con a woman out of her pants and murderers out of where they’d stashed the body. He coughed and cleared his throat. A trickle of warmth curled around his tongue and he swallowed it down like soothing ginger ale. Dean’s voice was stronger after and he sang loudly without a care or thought to what might be listening to him sing. What did he have to worry about here, anyway? It wasn’t like anything that would attack him could leave permanent damage.

Towards the second chorus Dean was really getting into it, hearing his voice echo off the thick-trunked redwoods that grew in this neck of the woods. He tipped his head to the sky, drumming out the beat with a hand on his thigh.

“Take a load off, Annie. Take a load for free. Take a load off, Annie. And, aaaaaaaaand–

A single low howl drowned out his quickly faltering one. Soon another, then a third, and still more joined in, the harmony rising through the trees. The creatures responsible were very close.

He’d heard that sound before. Dean waited, shadowed by the enormous forest around him, and sure enough red lights lit up the darkness, blinking.

Come on!” he cried, waving the sliver of machete back and forth, calling them out. “I’m tired of this game. You wanna play? Let’s play!”

Slowly a pair of eyes drifted closer, a shape appearing behind it in the shadows. Finally, Dean thought, and stepped forward to meet the monster that’d been hunting his steps since the very beginning.

The creature that filled the space between the trees was unlike anything Dean had ever seen before, even with all the monsters he’d torn through to get there. Sleek and powerful, a hint of scales and furry stripes ran along its flank. The face was almost human, despite the pointy teeth poking over the wide mouth. It was huge, taller than Dean, and as he watched it reared up on its tree trunk legs, dwarfing out the moon.

He gasped despite himself, filling up empty lungs.

We have been watching you, Little Wild One. Dean didn’t actually hear the creature speak; its voice was more of a growl shivering through his brain, leaving behind impressions and colors. He wasn’t sure how he was translating that to actual words, but its intentions were clear. The beast watched him, red eyes gleaming. You are like the others but not. How many kills have you?

"More than I can count. Care to see for yourself?" He kept staring into those burning eyes, the bluster of courage keeping his arm straight and his feet from running. This creature was far more dangerous than he could’ve imagined. And there were more of them waiting in the trees.

A rumble shook its barrel chest - Dean thought it sounded pleased, like the purr of a great hunting cat. Or maybe threatening, the hiss of a mother gator protecting her babies. It was hard to tell. Don’t want to fight. Want to know.

A creepy crawly not wanting to eat him? Yeah, right. Dean turned his attention to the others he could sense lurking in the shadows. They chortled and barked and slunk around, but none of them came anywhere near the shafts of moonlight filtering through the trees.

The thing lowered itself back onto all fours, the ground shaking when it landed. It leaned forward, large nose sniffing Dean’s direction. You have been hungry busy thirsty, Little Wild One. Many sacrifices since your time here. Who do you serve?

“I serve myself.” That’s all he’d ever wanted to do, in the end. Fuck all that destiny noise. (Only that wasn’t true, was it? Michael and Sam and Dad Dad Dad.)

Another rumbling growl. It nodded its head at his answer, lips curling back.

Wait, he thought. Was this a test? Why the hell would a purgatory beast want to know-

The monster took a single step closer – grabbing distance now – and Dean raised his machete higher. Good. Made strong. Not as strong as We. But strong all the same.

The red-eyed monsters moved out of the bushes toward him, an assortment of horrors and things that should have been floating in jars. Tentatively they circled him, closing in.

It was still a single voice in his head, though. Want you to run with us, LittleWildOne. Join Pack.

It scraped a talon softly against the metal of the machete, the red of its eyes dulled to a rich amber. The paw hovered there, inches from Dean’s face. It… wanted to touch him.

It’d been so long since he’d been touched by something that didn’t want to hurt him. Even Madison had kept her distance. Could he… Was this for real?

Dean inched forward. The claw was stiff and hard against the curve of his cheek but the skin at the end of it was warm. He couldn’t actually feel the heat but he knew it was there. Or he could pretend that it was, if only for a moment. He wanted something gentle. Something soft. It’d been so long.

He closed his eyes and leaned into the touch. The monster rumbled that terrible crocodile purr. Its whole paw cupped the side of his head and petted him, gently for such a large beast. The machete was dull and heavy in his hand. For once, Dean didn’t want to use it. He didn’t need to.

The monster lowered its paw and moved behind Dean, nudging his shoulder and pushing him toward where the other creatures had already retreated into the tree line. He sent up a quick prayer to the universe (gonna do something really stupid here, Cas) and followed them.

+++


Dean decided to call the monsters Wild Things, because… well, because he could. Dean had no idea what they really were so he felt justified making the name up. Maybe some extinct species of chimera - each one was a jacked up hodgepodge of creatures cobbled together in ways that shouldn’t be biologically possible. Scales and fangs, feathers and fur all on one body. They switched from crawling on all fours to running on two as easily as Dean breathed (or didn’t breathe, depending on his mood). And, of course, they all had glowing red eyes.

He wasn’t sure how many Wild Things there were, just that they were all different and all immensely and incredibly old. The big one that had crept out of the forest first was still the only one to ‘talk’ to him though the roar echoed so terribly in his head it was hard to tell; Dean suspected they might have been a hivemind like the Borg and they were all actually speaking at the same time. They certainly moved together that way, prowling through the giant trees in a nearly silent pack, their wide feet maneuvering the mulchy ground easily.

He stayed close to the big one, just in case. (Dean wanted to call it Ferdinand because of the horns, but he really had no clue whether it was a boy or a girl so he went with Ferdie instead.) It didn’t seem to mind his company, lowering its body so its massive head was closer to Dean’s height. It flicked its silky tail like a pleased house cat. We have been here long and long Little Wild One. Became tired after time hurt Us. Became old. Pieces went away. But then We learned. Like you.

Ferdie bumped him, playfully rubbing its bristly head against Dean’s shoulder. A tingle trembled along Dean’s ribs, bounced up to his skull, and disappeared again. He shivered a little, despite the numbness.

The creature’s lips curled over its teeth in what Dean hoped was a smile. You are new shiny strong. But small. Teach you to become stronger. Like Us. Listen now.

The monsters had stopped, poised on their toes, listening. After a moment Dean could hear it, too: the distant whisper of voices and the rustle of leaves underfoot. Something was moving through the forest ahead of them.

Dean expected the Wild Things to run the strangers down, pouncing and swallowing them whole. Instead they lowered themselves to the ground all at once, curled their tails around their feet, closed their burning eyes, and waited. Ferdie snagged a claw in his jacket pocket and tugged Dean under the sticky fronds of a great fern. It was a good vantage point to watch the hunt.

Within moments two shifters crept warily around a fallen sequoia, eyeing it with mistrust. The male and female – human but for the sheen of silver in their eyes – were speaking in a language Dean didn’t understand. They seemed upset, though. Afraid. Looking over their shoulders for trouble when it was crouching in the darkness ahead of them.

Prey always knew when a predator was watching.

The shifters walked right into the middle of the pack, completely unaware how close to death they were. The male stopped in front of Dean and Ferdie shifted its claws into the dirt, tail twitching with anticipation. He turned – and one of the smaller Wild Things leapt on his back, talons digging into the meat of his shoulders. He went down hard, clods of dirt and rock jutting up from the impact of his body into the ground.

The Wild Thing opened its jaws impossibly wide and clamped down on the shifter’s neck, ripping his head clean off. The female shouted from somewhere to their left, but Dean couldn’t look away from the violence before him to find her. It was ghastly, devastating. Powerful. The Wild Thing licked the blood from its chops and tossed the body aside. A light fluttered briefly in its throat, then went out. The Wild Thing shook itself all over and roared a sonic bass boom that echoed in Dean’s chest. Then it backed away, making mewling satisfied sounds, and settled onto its haunches behind the others to groom itself. Completely uninterested in the rest of the proceedings.

The shifter did not get up again. The corpse flickered – like the afterimage of a camera flash – then slowly disappeared.

Dean’d seen light like that before. Christ, he thought, was that the shifter’s soul? Did the Wild Thing just eat it?

Ferdie patted Dean’s shoulder with its front paw, purring, and together they moved closer to where the female shifter was being held down by another Wild Thing’s massive weight. She moaned as the form of her companion faded into nothing. “No! Please, no. Please!”

Her begging collapsed into a frothy gurgle when Ferdie slashed her open from navel to neck, twin sets of furrows down the core of her. (Dean couldn’t help his flinch at that. The sound had the echo of hell in it.) A grey light shimmered briefly behind the jutting ribs, so quickly Dean almost missed it. Ferdie pushed him harder this time and Dean stumbled, cupping his hands against the mangled flesh and bones to break his fall. The light moved again, licking up against his fingertips—

And it was warm.

Christ god fucking damn. The light was warm and Dean could feel it. Like the first tingly piss after swimming all day or taking a hot shower after getting caught in the rain – he hadn’t realized how cold he actually was until he suddenly wasn’t. He pressed both palms against the corpse, frantically chasing the fleeting heat. He tried prying apart the shifter’s ribs to get to it faster but he just wasn’t strong enough to move them out of the way with one hand. The light shrunk away from his touch under the shredded lung.

Ferdie stroked its paw over Dean’s hair, crooning encouragements in his ear. It plucked a bit of the light onto its claw and held it to his lips. Eat. Grow strong. Tribute.

And Dean wanted to, he wanted to take that heat inside himself, feel it spread through his body like a guzzle of expensive whiskey. Ferdie ’s claw tapped his lip (time for the train to enter the tunnel, choo choo) and it crumbled the little resistance Dean was able to piece together.

The light was smooth in his mouth but burned when he swallowed, bitter warmth curling flowing leaking down his throat. It was his first real, true taste of anything since he entered this godforsaken place and God help him but he was licking Ferdie ’s claws for more, diving down to lap at the shifter’s chest wound like it was his mother’s cooking and he needed to clean his plate.

Since he needed both hands to hold back the ribs he shoved his whole face into the carcass, ripping out chunks just to taste more. And there was more – a tiny flashbulb of brightness he slurped up and chewed between his teeth, relishing the harsh blister on his tongue.

He came up gasping, bloody, burning everywhere the light touched his insides. Ferdie and the Wild Things howled around him, leaping and pouncing on each other joyously.

The heat felt so fantastic he took a breath and joined them.

+++


Dean joined the group seamlessly after that, as if he’d been a part of them his whole life. They roamed across purgatory together without a care for the other residents they encountered. The Wild Things were strong enough to claim the whole world as their territory if they wanted to. They moved through the trees as a silent unit, a threat whispered on the breeze. Dean felt downright clumsy in their wake; he hadn’t stumbled or made so much noise on a hunt since he was a teenager.

When they weren’t stalking through purgatory’s underbelly they often played together like cubs when the mama wolf was gone - games of tag and pouncing, chewing on each other’s tails or jumping into piles of leaves. They groomed each other’s fur and feathers (the scales required little maintenance, aside from the occasional molt, which they Didn’t Talk About). And in between they curled sleeping in the illusion of touch and warmth.

The Wild Things had a strange way of speaking, but Dean got very good at figuring out what they meant. He even tried to explain names to them a few times, with mixed results. He was always Little Wild One regardless of how many times he corrected them. He gave them all names, anyway, so he could keep them straight in his head. It was impossible to tell their gender so he stuck to the basics. The smaller ones were Creepy, Bouncy, Lars, and Maurice. The larger ones were trickier, staying more aloof than the others and only swooping in for the hunts. He called them Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Ferdie was the largest of the seven and got first dibs on prey when it wasn’t spending time training and tending to Dean.

They all seemed thrilled with their new and exciting plaything but Ferdie took a special interest in him. He didn’t really mind; when a fourteen-feet-tall monster offered you a lesson in proper claw maintenance, you didn’t turn it down.

Ferdie and the others taught him how to howl properly after his first less than impressive experiment with the shifters. He learned about how raising their voices to the sky made it theirs, made it something attainable and claimable. How to respect the curl of the moon, to sing to it, to shape his call to match its curves. Why it was important to let the world know that he was there and that he demanded respect and space as far as his voice could carry.

Dean, for his part, taught the Wild Things to sing. They had the basis for it down but it was tricky to convince them that the howls could be bent to tell a story rather than send a message. The learning curve was pretty steep and nobody could hit the high notes but in the end watching everybody try to dance to ‘Thriller’ made it all worth it.

He slept a lot more after he joined the Wild Things, especially after a hunt. (Dean felt better after he ate something, so he didn’t give it much thought.) Sometimes, when he grew too weary to run or when the bright moon was just too painful to bear, he climbed on their backs and let them carry him, their loping gate lulling him to doze.

It was a peaceful interlude for all that he was surrounded by creatures out of mankind’s nightmares. He shouldn’t have been surprised when they came to a clearing and found the angel waiting for them.

Ferdie stopped in its tracks, a growl echoing through its thick chest. The others quickly picked up the warning call and the slender trees around them trembled with the vibrations. It woke Dean from the nest of feathers he’d found himself in after their last period of sleep. (Maurice must’ve picked him up when the pack decided to move on while he was still resting.)

Cas looked like he didn’t give two fucks that he was facing down some of the worst monsters this craphole afterlife had to offer. He met their burning gaze head on and called them out. Or called him out.

“Dean. It’s time to leave this place. Come down from there.”

He blinked some of the sleep out of his eyes and slid down Maurice’s side, arms a little tingly from where he’d been laying on them. He hit the ground and Ferdie’s claws immediately caged him in, tugging him back and keeping him safe from the Stranger Danger. It curled its neck down, clacking its wide jaws together and hooking one of its canines over Dean’s shoulder. He’d learned to think of it as a gesture of affection.

Dean leaned against the wicked curves, eyeing the angel before him. Cas was in full battle mode, his sword drawn and stance aggressive. There were deep circles under his eyes, though, as if he hadn’t stopped moving for months. (Dean knew what that was like.) Dirt was ground into every visible inch of him… and was that a beard?

Dean swallowed, pushing moisture through a suddenly dry throat. “You left me.”

“Yes. And we’ll have a moment about that later but right now you need to come with me.” He darted his attention back and forth among the Wild Things, not willing or able to look Dean in the eye.

Ferdie’s low growl rose in volume along with the hackles on the back of its neck. It stared at Cas, daring him to step closer to its prize. No. Keep him. Pack stays.

“He was my pack before he met any of you and he’s carried my mark longer than yours. Your claim is invalid. I’ll take him by force if he won’t join me willingly.”

Ferdie roared and pushed Dean behind it to bare its claws at Cas. He stumbled and fell to his knees, palms scraping through the dirt and rocks as he tried to balance. They bled sluggishly, stubbornly, and it occurred to him that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d bled for something worthwhile. For something he believed in, rather than something he just did.

The Wild Things were closing ranks around the interloper. They’d gone silent, as sure a sign as any that they meant business. Cas was dwarfed in the tightening circle – Hercules in a trench coat taking on the titans. It was gonna be a bloodbath.

Dean regained his feet (slowly, so slowly now) and picked his way through the pack to the center. “Stop it.”

They weren’t listening. Creepy’s talons raked gouges into the dirt in anticipation. Lars’ feathers were standing on end. Not good.

He shoved Bouncy out of the way and stood in front of Cas, machete blocking their advance. He bared his teeth, snarling. “I said, stop!

And, miracle of miracles, the Wild Things did. They pulled up short at the sharp edge of his blade, Bouncy fidgeting nervously behind one of the Tweedles. He felt a hand settle on his shoulder but didn’t dare turn away; their surprise at Dean’s defense was the only thing keeping them from tearing Cas apart and feasting on his glowing insides.

Ferdie’s eyes burned like hellfire in its wide face. Its thought-voice wailed in Dean’s head with furious betrayal. Ours. Hunts with Us. Nasty Bitter Angel Light not take him. Little Wild One move now!

That was the flaw with these creatures, Dean realized; that was why god went back to the drawing board – love didn’t work the same. He thought about Cas standing at his back and understood that what he’d found among the monsters wouldn’t solve his problems. It wasn’t what he was travelling down that long road looking for.

Dean looked into Ferdie’s eyes as he once did in a forest clearing, unafraid and challenging. “I don’t wear anyone’s mark, angel or not. Neither one of you can tell me what to do.” He watched the Wild Thing paw the dirt while the heat of Cas’ hand slowly sank through his jacket to where its mirror image used to be scarred into his flesh. He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Ferdie, but I choose my friend. I’m going with him.”

Ours! Nasty Bitter Angel Light will eat you up! Ferdie shrieked, saliva spraying from its mouth. Angel Light can scavenge what’s left!

The Wild Thing’s leapt as one, a charge of terrible teeth and talons. In the split second it took Dean to flinch and raise his machete Cas pulled him down with the grip on his shoulder. He tucked Dean into the curve of his body and flung the tail end of the trench over his head. He felt Cas shift and stab the angel sword into the ground between their feet.

The coat wasn’t enough to shield him from the burst of light that erupted from the soil. Clear and pure, it was the most beautiful thing Dean had ever seen – and then he couldn’t see anything at all, the white searing through his eyes and into the back of his skull. Something screamed, high-pitched and terrified.

NEXT

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