When they walk through Purgatory together, they always walk side by side. Through the most unfathomable darknesses, through the most horrifying of sights, or deafening of screeches, Dean and Castiel find solace in each other. The angel tries to stay focused on the task of merely surviving for as long as they can, but the idea blossoms and takes root in the crevice of his mind and the thoughts come and go like leaves sprout and wither on a branch. He wonders, idly, if Dean considers their bouts of companionship, too. But the frivolous thoughts are hushed with the knowledge that Dean has dreams, desires, a brother and a life to return to. He is not like him. He does not fund his happiness on the proximity of only one person, like Castiel does. It is not suffice for him, the angel knows, to simply indulge in being besides his partner.
But the hunter is quick to feel for his hand when he cannot peer through the darkness, and he is unhesitant to chastise the graceless angel when he leaves himself unguarded for the sake of protecting his partner. Dean recants memories to him in soft whispers and quiet, warm chuckles when the two are alone, away from the hungering spirits. Above the blood-red ground that gnaws at smoke-black tree trunks, the two rest upon thick branches and exchange stories of the present for stories of the past. Castiel distinguishes one predator from the other with the signaling of a finger. “They do not have names,” he tells Dean, “my Father never gave them ones.” Quid pro quo, the hunter tells him about Sam’s idiotic mistakes when he first began hunting, or mornings he spent plastered and aching from crazy nights of gambling and bouts of violence before. And, sometimes, when bones are sore and skin in bruised, Dean talks about secret things- like the distinct smell of his mother’s perfume or the remarks his father would make that he’d pretend didn’t hurt.
Blessings are found in strange places, and amongst the coal frenzy of branches, Dean counts his blessings in the company of someone he thought he’d never be able to forgive. The human and his angel sit side by side, whispering until sleep prevails over the taller of the two. Here, what their animosity is all but forgotten. Here, Dean takes his word like gospel and the trust that has been kindled between them burns violently and without fear or contempt. Here, hands are held and shoulders shake and faces dampen and no one, no one, but the untied two are able to see it. The mutual pain, the shared sorrow, the eternal and intimate gratitude of companionship in the midst of peril.
Castiel wraps his wings about themselves, locking the two into place. The feeling is warm and secure, and he knows Dean has long forgotten the initial discomfort of their necessary proximity when their arms touch and the dark feathers push them together. The skies above streak and crack, only for a moment, and that is their testament that Sam, somewhere, is still faithfully attempting to break through the barrier that separates them. The angel smiles, faintly, for a moment. He sighs for Sam, for what he knows he must be suffering after each failed attempt.
But he is not sorrowful. He is eager for Earth and Heaven, but he is not melancholy. Castiel has watched humans find the best in the most horrific of places- he knows that true happiness is found in the silent, simple things and that love is proven in actions and only assured in words. Deep in the chasm of flesh and bone, where a human heart beats for a celestial being, gratitude and adoration run deep and thrive. They shine through the despair the concentrates the air they breath. They heal the tattered flesh and broken spirits. It is in that metronome of emotion and love, Castiel knows, that the two have deposited their strengths. The two talk about many things, amongst the scarlet leaves, but they do not exchange thank-you’s or words of love. They do not need them. The concrete things in this world and the next are more often felt than they are heard.
[Photograph is by no means mine. If source is found, please tell me!]