The shadows of purgatory shifted around Dean. He heard the branch crack behind him just a fraction of a second too late, and whipped around, his fist connecting with flesh as he reflexively lashed out. There was a shout of pain. His peripheral vision filled up with a flash of red fabric as someone wheeled away from his blow, staggering back.
“What the hell?” a young voice asked. Dean glared as a teenage boy - a shockingly ordinary-looking teenage boy - fell onto his ass, wincing. He didn’t have any weapons. Anywhere else, and Dean would have assumed he was just some dumb kid, out in the woods for some reason or other. But these weren’t ordinary woods.
“What are you?” Dean snapped, wishing he had a better weapon than the sharpened stick he’d mostly been reduced to. In the distance, a few of the shadows whipped between the trees.
“Stiles,” the kid squeaked. “I’m Stiles, I’m mean I’m a human, I’m - do you know where we are?”
It was a good act. Dean would give him that - and it was kind of weird to see it, since most creatures in purgatory didn’t really bother with that kind of pretence. No point in it. The kid looked up at him, his eyes darting sideways, nervous and on edge. He moved to stand, and Dean raised his stick reflexively. That stopped him in place.
“Look. I’m just trying to find somebody, okay?” He said. “A friend of mine. Kind of a weird guy. He - uh, well, he got lost. Sort of. It wasn’t really his fault. Some… people, people of admittedly questionable motives, told me that I could find him here. And I believed them. Like an idiot. And now I’m lost, too, which is just so very typical of my life - getting lost in the woods and running into some aggressive lunatic who’s stupidly handsome and oh god, please don’t hit me, I didn’t mean to say that it just came out and at least you’re relatively normal-ish looking and probably not a lunatic at all. Right? Right.”
That sea of babble hit a point in Dean’s gut, and in spite of himself, he relaxed - marginally. All of his instincts were telling him that this kid was human. And… well…
“I’m looking for someone, too,” he heard himself say. “He came here with me.” The kid - Stiles - perked up.
“Maybe we could help each other, then? Find them both?” he suggested.
Dean looked around, at the woods that were still filled with unnameable beasts, at the darkness that only ever seemed to ebb into a dull grey dawn on the rare occasions when it felt like it. Then he looked back down at the kid and his stupid red hoodie, his legs already tangled in the tree roots and dark with caked-on mud. He wasn’t going to last five minutes on his own. Or else he was going to turn into a monster and eat Dean’s face while he was sleeping.
“I’m going to regret this,” he said, before reaching down and helping Stiles up onto his feet.
“Purgatory?!” Stiles exclaimed, before Dean smacked him across the back of his head for being noisy again. He was having uncomfortably flashbacks to Sam’s late adolescence, when his unrelenting growth spurts had made him a sporadic, clumsy liability on the wrong hunts.
Stiles glared, but lowered the volume of his voice. ”Purgatory?” he asked again. ”As in, between Heaven and Hell, gigantic waiting room for the people of greyish morality as fabled in various Christian beliefs? That’s where they sent me?”
“Your turn to answer a question now,” he replied. ”Just who sent you here?”
Stiles shifted uncomfortably, scrunching his face up as he seemed to debate the pros and cons of answering that question.
“To be honest, I am not one hundred percent entirely completely sure,” he finally admitted. ”See, this friend of mine - not the friend I’m looking for, but another friend - he works for this veterinarian, only he’s not really a veterinarian, or not just one anyway, I mean he actually does help sick animals, anyway, there’s this kind of secret society and long story short? A bunch of wizards did it.”
Dean was just about to ask him what the hell kind of non-answer that was when the vampires found them.
They lunged like shadows out of the pitch black, moving like carved pieces of the washed-out world, so well camouflaged that Dean might not have seen if them if it wasn’t for the blur of motion that caught his eye.
Dean lashed out with his makeshift weapon and managed to run one of them through. It was more luck than anything, but it slowed the bastard down long enough for him to grab Stiles by the back of his stupid hoodie and haul him behind himself. He had nothing. No vamptonite, no dead man’s blood, not even a damn axe.
A fistfight. With vampires.
“Oh my god,” Stiles said. ”Oh my god, oh my god, we are going to die…”
Dean managed to get his hands on a rock at his feet, and then it was biting and punching and clawing, the vampires tearing into him as he tore right back. To his credit, even while he was verbally freaking out, the kid didn’t just stand there wringing his hands. Dean noticed that when a tree branch the size of his arm came swinging through the air and knocked into the nearest vampire’s neck, with enough force to make a crack like a gunshot go through the air.
Not wasting any time, Dean smashed the rock he’d hung onto straight into the other vampire’s mouth, then grabbed Stiles and they both hauled ass out of there as fast as they could. His ribs felt broken and he was bleeding and bruised. They weren’t going to get far like that.
“Go,” Dean said, pushing Stiles sideways. Maybe on his own, the kid could make it. ”Go on. That way. I’ll catch up.”
“Yeah right,” he replied. ”I’m not leaving you behind to get eaten. We’ll just - we’ll think of something! There’s gotta be some way to…” he looked around, and then before Dean knew what was what, he was being all but dragged, stumbling, down two hills and towards the sound of rushing water. A riverbank. Sluggish and grey, and kind of creepy looking, but everything in Purgatory was. The water yanked furiously at him when he got dragged into it. It was too cold, but Dean thought idea wasn’t a bad one. Unlike in the myths, vampires could cross running water, but they couldn’t smell through it. If they didn’t freeze to death first, the two of them might be able to hide along the shoreline.
He said as much, because he didn’t know how much Stiles knew about such things, and the kid nodded and both of them managed to make it towards a small cluster of rocks without drowning or slipping and smashing their skulls open. Stiles ditched his distinctive hoodie. It flashed bright red all the way down the rest of the river, and Dean thought it looked like a little flag, and hoped it would draw the vampires’ attention away along with it. It disappeared through a bend in the woods, by then soaked through to the colour of blood.
They crouched, huddled and hiding in waist-high water with only the terrain for cover, for an indeterminate length of time. It wasn’t long before Dean’s vision got spotty. He really started to worry, though, when he couldn’t feel the cold itself so much anymore.
“So,” Stiles whispered. ”This guy you’re looking for. Who is he?”
“…A friend,” Dean answered.
Stiles poked him in the shoulder, his own arms wrapped tightly around himself.
“Yeah?” he prompted. ”We talking best friend territory here or what?”
“Best friend? What are you, fifteen?” Dean blurted out, before he remembered who he was talking to.
“Seventeen, thanks,” he replied.
There was an awkward moment of silence.
“He’s not mine,” Stiles said, then. ”The guy I’m looking for. Derek. He’s, uh, he’s not my best friend. My best friend’s this guy named Scott. We’ve known each other forever, pretty much. He used to be my only friend.”
Dean stared blearily at him from between the black spots in his vision. There was a line between the kid’s brows, and he looked cold, his teeth chattering, but not too pale, at least. The grey sunlight was starting to get a little brighter by then, too. Probably not a bad thing.
“Why are you looking for him?” Dean heard himself ask. His words slurred together a little bit as they came out, but they were still intelligible.
“Dunno,” he said.
The answer surprised a laugh out of Dean. Well, more like a cough. The sound got eaten up by the rush of water, anyway, so it probably didn’t make much of a difference either way.
“Okay, yeah, that sounds stupid,” Stiles admitted, before he could even try and muster up the energy for a response. ”It’s just - no one else was going to. Try and get here, I mean. Some of the others looked, but… they gave up. Even Scott thought it was too risky. Derek’s a jerk, but he doesn’t deserve to get abandoned. He deserves a lot better than he’s gotten, actually, partly because he’s seriously gotten one of life’s very worst hands but also because he’s not as bad as he seems, sometimes. Of course, I don’t deserve to die out here in friggin’ Purgatory trying to find him, either, so I guess Scott was right.”
The kid managed a self-deprecating smile. The line between his brows deepened, and he nudged Dean again.
“What about you?” he asked. ”This friend of yours… you said you came here together. Did you lose him?”
Dean sucked in a breath, and heard the roaring water in his ears.
“I’m always losing him,” he admitted.
Stiles’ expression softened a little bit, and then hardened right back up again into something suspiciously like determination.
“Right,” he said. ”I think those other guys are gone now. Come on, we’re not going to find either of them if we die in this river.” Then he reached over, and bit by bit, hauled Dean’s sorry self through muddy waters back towards the shoreline. The woods around them looked relatively empty. But looks could be deceiving.
“I miss my jeep,” Stiles said.
Dean looked at him sideways, through the haze of his broken ribs and mild hypothermia, and thought longingly of his baby.
“Jeeps are shitty,” he said, mostly out of spite. The death glare that earned him registered an eight on his personal rage-o-meter.
Damn. He was starting to almost like this kid.
The monster was big. Really, really big, and Dean knew as soon as he saw it that they were boned. It loomed out from the deep black shadow between two trees, dark as the world behind it, twice as tall as Dean himself and walking the long, slow walk of a predator sizing up its prey.
In its mouth it was holding a familiar, soaked red hoodie.
“Shit,” Dean said, shoving Stiles out of the way even as the thing pounced. His ribs - barely starting to heal - screamed in protest as his back hit the dirt, what felt like a thousand piles of muscle driving him down into it. Through the rush of blood in his ears he heard Stiles shouting. Too close, and definitely not running away, the damn stubborn kid.
Hot breath blew out across his face from the snout that was less than an inch away. The creature’s lips curled back into a snarl, revealing rows of jagged white teeth. Red eyes gleamed out from over top of its muzzle.
Dean was going to die at the hands of some damn monster dog. Again.
Then there was a flash of light - too bright for Purgatory, too bright for the dimness he’d gotten used to - and something collided with the monster, strong enough to knock it off of Dean’s chest. The best let out a yelp of surprised pain. The light subsided, gone almost as soon as it had come, and as he picked himself up, he felt his heart lurch inside of his chest.
A few feet away, Stiles was holding up another tree branch. On the other side of the small clearing, a dark haired man in a dirty trench coat was grappling with a gigantic monster wolf. The man was covered in dirt and scratches, haggard and gaunt, and there was a wild gleam in his bright blue eyes. The wolf was snarling and snapping, tail thrashing, claws ripping through the air as it dropped the red hoodie and did its level best to work itself free of the iron grip around its midsection.
There was the cracking sound of bones breaking. Stiles cried out, but his voice was mostly lost in the wake of the wolf’s tremendous snarl as it finally gave one huge, violent twist, and turned enough in the man’s grasp to rake its claws across his chest. The man staggered back. Red blood blossomed through the tears in his clothes and spattered across the edge of his trench coat.
“Cas!” Dean shouted, staggering forward even as the wolf used its newfound freedom to lunge.
“Derek!” Stiles shouted, also rushing forwards, and for one surreal moment Dean thought that Castiel was somehow Derek. That he’d had another life, somewhere, that Dean hadn’t known about. But then the wolf lunged into the angel, and another small, sporadic flash of light sparked through the air as claws met flesh and fist met muzzle. Blood flew. Bones fractured. Dean crashed into Castiel, trying to drag him out of the way, out of the path of those swiping claws.
And Stiles, Stiles hit the wolf, fisting his hands into the fur around its neck and dragging it down, back, away from its target.
“Derek, Derek, what the hell, man, stop,” Stiles was saying.
Cas was clinging to Dean, grappling with him for a second while the wolf miraculously didn’t bite Stiles’ head off, and it took Dean a second to realize that the angel was trying to push him back, behind him, because Dean had gone and landed himself right between the angel and the wolf.
There was a moment of quiet, full of heat and electricity, the scent of blood and the sounds of everyone - everything - breathing. More alive than Purgatory had any business being. Dean gripped Cas and Cas gripped Dean and Stiles held onto the wolf, and slowly, after microseconds that seemed to last for eons, the wolf began to shrink. The shadow of its shape ebbed and faded away, blowing off in bits and pieces along the stale wind. When it was finished, it still left a monster behind; but a smaller, more manageable one.
Cas stopped trying to push him back and stared. Stiles had his arms wrapped around a naked wolf-man, breathing heavily and looking as shocked as Dean felt.
It was Dean who broke the silence.
“Derek is a goddamn werewolf?!” he demanded. Then he raised an accusatory arm and pointed at Stiles. ”You didn’t tell me Derek was a goddamn werewolf!” Even though werewolves weren’t really supposed to do that. Everything was weird in Purgatory, though.
Stiles glared at him.
“Oh yeah?” he replied. ”Well what the heck is he, anyway? Don’t think I missed that little light show. Normal people don’t do light shows!”
“Cas is an angel,” Dean snapped, milking the angels’ totally, one-hundred-percent undeserved reputation for clouds and harps for all it was worth. It worked. Stiles actually looked shocked for a moment. His mouth opened and closed soundlessly a couple of times before he finally found his voice again.
“Please tell me that is a pet name,” he begged.
Derek started snarling at them, then, and there was an awkward moment where Cas tried to push Dean back behind him again and Derek tried to get Stiles behind him, too, only neither of the humans were cooperating. It only ended when Cas pressed a little too hard at Dean’s ribs, earning a hiss of pain that had him rapidly backpedalling, and Stiles picked up his sodden hoodie and smacked Derek in the face with it.
“No,” Stiles said. ”Bad alpha.”
“You’re hurt,” Castiel said at the same time. He looked mournfully at Dean. ”I should have come back sooner. I can’t heal you here.”
Dean stared at him for a minute. Then he stared over at where the werewolf still hadn’t eaten Stiles, even though he was making disgruntled snuffling noises and looking pissy about it. Then he looked up towards the moonless, pitch black sky overhead, and the long, tall shadows around them.
“Well,” he said. ”If we aren’t going to kill each other tonight, we might as well try and find someplace to rest. I’m beat.” He looked back at Cas, who was still staring at him with his wide, broken open eyes. Stiles let out a shuddering breath. For the first time Dean noticed that his hands - the hands still tangled in the werewolf’s fur - were shaking.
“Yeah,” he agreed. ”Sounds like a plan.”
Oh, you want more? beg here, HERE, and she might post it :p
She just posted the story on AO3 too, I guess if you want her to continue, you should comment and ask her to! :) http://archiveofourown.org/works/519061