Their experience of Purgatory is composed of a series of events that could be said to have ‘almost’ happened.
They are almost eaten alive. Almost gutted. During the first few days, as they are learning the rules of running and hiding and painting dead blood on their bodies to hide the scent of life, they stop by a milky white lake to rest. The next morning Dean is almost disemboweled by a huge black heron. She pins his throat down with her hollow boned feet and jabs her beak between his ribs. Cas blasts her into a sudden rain of dark slime and torn feathers.
After that they decide to look for higher ground. They make for the rocky wasteland to the west; a landscape of grays and slate blues. No grass. No water but what collects in the rocks and crags from the rain. No bird calls.
As they wander a pale green moon rises. Cas almost walks himself off the blue cliffs trying to catch it. His eyes are glassy and mesmerized. Dean throws his arms around Cas’ waist and hauls him away from the edge. He grabs Cas’ face and just keeps saying his name over and over again until the eerie green light goes out of his eyes and ocean blue looks back. Dean is so relieved he almost says “Fuck it,” and kisses the crap out of him.
But Purgatory isn’t the place for sappy declarations. And if Dean wants it to be real then it’s gonna have to wait because anything Dean says here could only ever almost be the truth. And that’s not good enough. He’s still hoping for that one day off from saving the world. That one impossible Wednesday afternoon when he can take Cas to a park or an ice cream shop or a fucking movie and throw an arm over his shoulder like they’re just friends seated too close in the dark. And then move his hand to the back of Cas’ neck so they’re just loving brothers, around to his jaw so they’re almost strangers, and then finally pull him in so that they are clearly so much more.
Yeah, he wants that. But not here. Not with the seductive thread of almost certain death between them.
They move on. They stay alive. Until every day Dean thinks he’s almost had it, and he starts to think maybe they’re not gonna make it after all.
Purgatory is as wide as the world, and it’s evil, and it’s out to get them. They’re already trapped in the belly of the beast. They’ve been tasted and chewed and swallowed. It’s too damn late to start kicking their way through the teeth because they’re already breaking apart and dissolving. They have been food for wolves.
Dean, remembering how good it feels to give up, wonders if Cas has ever known that sort of relief before? He thinks maybe it’s time he did.
They move on. They stay alive. In a lush and yellow ravine they are caught in a mudslide and almost buried. They dig themselves out and wash clean in a boiling stream.
Failure doesn’t frighten Dean. He’s done failure before. Hell, it’s what he’s good at. What frightens Dean is the fire he still feels in himself. The determination he sees in Cas’ face. What terrifies him is that he already knows they won’t give up. He will keep going for Cas, and Cas will keep going for him, and in the end they’ll bleed to death together, two ripped up bodies in some ditch of filth and rotted leaves, with just enough time left to look at each other and say: “We almost made it,” before the darkness creeps over them. The lights go out slow.
Then, almost dreaming. Almost peace.
Almost familiar screams in the eternal night.