“Cas!” Dean shouts, kicking another vampire in the teeth. They’re surrounded, this spur of rock was a bad fucking idea, and he can see more of the goddamned things massing in the ravine.
“I can’t risk it,” Cas shouts back. He staggers into Dean’s back and Dean braces a foot just in time to keep them from both going down. His boot skids on a slick of blood and then catches and then Cas’ weight lifts off him and there’s a terrible piercing screech from another vamp caught on the angel blade.
“You gotta!” Dean punches a vamp in the face - ow, fangs - cuts another across the belly, and goes down under a third, left forearm jammed up against its neck to keep it from his throat. The jaws gnash together a couple of inches from his nose and he grimaces. Fuckers are ugly enough on the other side, here they are repulsive, all eyes and wrinkles and teeth.
A scuffed once-white tennis shoe connects with the side of the thing’s head and it goes spinning away.
“Shut your eyes!” Cas says and clamps a hand to Dean’s shoulder.
Dean shuts his eyes. The black blossoms into red as Cas lights up and then there is the sickening sideways twist of Angel Airways, dizzying and horrible through the non-space that is Purgatory.
Dean lands on his feet, stagger-steps forward and then throws up bile. Other side effect of not eating - dry heaves. He coughs, spits, and then looks up.
A massive tree, as big as a California redwood, spikes into the sky. Spread eagled across it is a girl, naked as the day she was born. Vines hold her against the trunk of the tree, a thick web of tendrils and leaves. They crisscross everywhere, even over her forehead and chin, holding her head tipped back. Her eyes stare blankly upward. Only her hands are free. One of them twitches.
“Fuck,” he says, involuntarily. “Uh, she’s alive, should we -?”
“They all are,” says Cas and Dean looks away from the girl.
It’s a forest of giant fucking trees, each with their own hood ornament. Naked bodies as far as the eye can see.
“What the hell?” Dean says.
“Dryads, I think.” Cas leans in toward the nearest, a young man with pecs like a bodybuilder.
“Well, that’s not good,” Dean says. “Dad tangled with one in Oregon once.”
“They’re dormant,” says Cas.
Dean eyes the girl. “This one is twitching.” Her mouth is moving now, as well as her fingers.
“It’s my Grace,” says Cas. “I did tell you.”
“Yes, alright, out of the frying pan and all that.” Dean is backing away. “Any ideas on the best way to start running?”
“One foot in front of the other?” Cas suggests and Dean nearly chokes.
“That was a joke. You - now you’re making jokes? You’re making jokes now?”
The girl’s eyes shift, land on Cas, widen.
Cas grabs Dean’s arm and begins to run. “It wasn’t funny?”
“No!” Dean runs three steps and then laughs. “What the hell, man?”
Cas grins at him, shy and pleased.
There is a terrible tearing sound behind them, followed by an unearthly shriek.
“Seriously!” Dean says.
Cas laughs, that weird little chuckle Dean remembers from the mental hospital, a fucked up sound if he ever heard one, and it makes him laugh harder, two loons running through a goddamned monster funhouse together.
Holy shit, Dean thinks. I think I’m happy.