In many ways, purgatory felt familiar to Castiel.
Not the arid, shifting landscape, or the abominations which roamed there; not, in fact, the strange realm at all. But the experience of it, his existence there - in many ways, it was one he knew well.
They fought together. Against unimaginable darkness, they stood side by side, and defended one another. Their alliance was assumed, axiomatic. True from the first moments, in spite of everything.
Castiel supposed he should be grateful for that much.
He had fought alongside his brothers once, and had never for a second imagined they could betray him. That much he knew to be true, although he could not recall any longer when it had become otherwise.
Many things had changed since those days.
Those were the days when Castiel had not understood true regret, a burden so heavy no brother could lighten the load. When he had not seen the consequences of his own choices causing injury in the world, had not watched as every attempt to make amends tore ever greater rents.
He had done unforgivable things.
Yet, in its way, all was forgiven. He had angered at Dean before, but no longer. Resentment was a luxury they could not afford.
He did not know ifwhenhow that might change. Since he had met Dean, Castiel had often felt like he was retracing his own footprints, but that path never led to the same place twice.
If there was one thing Dean Winchester was best at, it was defying expectations.
He had done as Dean had asked before, and he had defied him. Neither had ended as he would have wished. Now, perhaps they had found a balance, a space where there was nothing to be asked, because their only purpose was shared, survival.
But perhaps it would not last. Could it, if they left this cursed place? And Dean swore they would, in a voice more like prayer than any Castiel had known from him: "Soon, Cas, Sam will help us, soon."
Castiel doubted it would be so easy.
It was so easy to doubt.
Prompt: "Extraordinary marriages are about three things: trust, forgiveness, and partnership." - Daily Advice Calendar, August 4th-5th 2012