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Castiel heard it first. He jumped from where he sat, a rotten log dark with moss and rust red as fresh blood, drew both his dagger and Dean close.
Dean’s gotten used to it; the machete he’d used to chop Dick’s head may have worked back home but here the creatures’ hides were thicker, scaly and tough as leather, and good thing Castiel’s angel blade traveled with him across dimensions, or they would’ve been left helpless.
Unlike most of the others, the creature that approaches doesn’t attack immediately. That doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous, that doesn’t mean it’s not going for the kill in the slimy, underhanded way Dean’s come to appreciate here: poison gas on their breath, paralytic spines like fine hair on their skin, even a water spirit once, that could dry up a man from the inside.
The thing walks an unsteady gait, teetering on legs thin and white as bone. It’s torso looks bitten through, werewolf Dean bets, and it’s eyes are… they’re missing. Black gouged holes peer at them instead, almost curiously.
“D-dean,” it gasps out. The gaping maw that passes for a mouth opens wide, revealing rows upon rows of teeth. “I… thought… it was you.” It grins, horribly. “You smell positively delicious.”
Dean doesn’t doubt it. In purgatory sight takes the backseat for other senses: sound, smell — Castiel had told him how a faint crackle could be a herd of wyverns stirring miles away, how a thunderstorm is denoted by a shift in the scent of the wind, how Dean must seem like the choicest morsel in a thousand year: human, living — and this creature didn’t need eyes to know him.
Who was it then? Where was this hunt? Which son of a bitch was this, before purgatory mangled its face?
“Don’t you recognize me, Dean? It’s me. Lenore.”
Oh. Oh. Not his kill then, but Castiel’s.
Lenore shifts to Cas, who looks uncomfortable and more fascinated than he should be. Considering the circumstances. “And you, I remember you.”
“This is what happens in Purgatory,” Castiel says, mostly to himself, in revelation, also revulsion.
“No weekend spa, obviously,” Lenore coughs out a harsh laugh. Her face sharpens, birdlike and predatory. She continues speaking in stops.
It’s been like this since I came here.
I didn’t hunt.
Not at first.
But the hunger gets you.
It gets everyone.
If she still had a human face and a human voice, Dean reckons she’s trying to tell them something by cadence alone. (You should leave. You should separate. You’ll turn on yourself. You’ll turn on each other. The hunger gets everyone. It will get you too.)
Castiel evidently gets it, that Lenore means to say that someday soon he and Dean will try to maul each other to pieces like so much meat and he, naturally, says, “I don’t think I’ll find Dean palatable.”
Dean snorts. “Gee, thanks for your input, Cas.”
Lenore’s face, once of rare beauty, is a thing in between sad and vindictive. It turns to the space between them, twists. “But there are other kinds of hunger.”